Sunday, October 3, 2010

On Nation Working Together -- For the Benefit of Whom?

Hey All,

So I'm well aware it's been AGES. This fairy has been all over hell and back for a multitude of work, scholarly, and activism commitments. However, I'm hoping to post at least weekly about some issue or another.

This weekend myself and a bus full of mostly white middle-aged to senior folks loaded a bus to DC for the One Nation rally. It became evident as soon as we got on the bus that this rally was being funded by the Democratic National Committee and was essentially a giant ploy to get votes and free volunteers to work on various political campaigns.

Our bus was late due to traffic, among other things, so we missed the various contingents that decided to march to the rally (due to the fact One Nation didn't organize one.. I'll go into that in a bit). This extremely bummed me out because 1. I didn't get to use my bullhorn and 2. It didn't let the people say everything they needed to say.

Why wouldn't there be an organized march to the Lincoln Memorial? Because the DNC wants to control the movement, our movement. True, anyone could hold a sign that said anything they wanted. Signs say things we aren't always able to say out loud, but signs don't speak louder than voices. People speak louder than words. By taking away a chance for folks to really speak out, you lose the productivity and the purpose of the movement. If you have a set list of speakers stepping up to the podium, you're controlling every word that is said. In a march every voice is heard, in a rally everyone blends into random cheering and booing.

The speakers spoke about unity, which was one of the goals of this rally, the reason I went. The problem? Every speaker had a different outlook on what unity is. How can we be unified if even our leaders can't decide on what that should look and feel like? Granted, this rally was incredibly diverse, and for that I was proud.

I do have to say that there was a serious lack of young folk, or people of my generation. It's as though the DNC specifically targeted labor unions and large organizations and left out the radical youth who make DC their stomping grounds on a regular basis. Maybe trying to count radicals out helps control the message: Democrats are the good guys, be sure to elect them.

What wasn't mentioned is that the Democrats have thousands of corporate sponsors. The Democrats, right along with the Republicans, voted AGAINST the repeal of DADT and ENDA, have pushed to cut Social Security, opposed putting extreme pressure on BP due to the oil spill, turned down clean energy legislation, refused to pass any form of helpful immigration legislation, and have pushed to cut Medicaid and Medicare. But they don't want you to know that, they just want to make sure you know they made some progress. Let's just note that the progress they have made has been watered down to the point where benefits are limited.

I resent the propaganda tactic of convincing thousands upon thousands of folks to come to DC to further perpetuate a flawed agenda. Yes, I believe we need to vote for representatives that will fight for something that's important to you, but playing the "we gave you a feel good experience, made you think you were heard, now we want you to elect us so we can water down your needs and wants and tell you we have your best interests in mind" card is a cheap trick.

Granted, politics are complicated. Capitalism is complicated. I say, if you want real change, you have to be revolutionary, not idolizers of corrupt or corporate politicians. And you can't tell me that Obama isn't corporate, look at his administration. Our Secretary of Treasury is an ex-CEO of the major corporation, Goldman Sachs. Do you think that might lean his politics one way or another?

I'm not satisfied with cookie-cutter answers and unified facades. It's time to rely on direct action, civil disobedience, and the power of the people to make change, not legislators. Social change comes from the ground up, not the top down. Sure, let's elect folks, but it's up to us (no matter who is in office) to demand, pressure, and even force those in power to propose and pass bills that are made by the people for the people. Elections aren't the answer for change, WE ARE.

If you want a revolution, baby you gotta be ready to march.


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Club Politics of the Misogynist Kind

Hey all,

So inbetween packing up my apartment and reading for my research, I kept thinking about this man that happened to be at the club Thursday night. This man was presumably heterosexual, African American, about 5'9", and wearing one of those bro long sleeve shirts that show just about every crease of your muscles. None of the above were of any issue, but his attack on women were.

My first interaction with him is when he came up to try and dance with my very queer appearing friend. Being the fantastic clubbing sidekick that I am, I started grinding all up on her and spun her around so he couldn't touch her. When he tried to dance with me, I kindly elbowed him and told him to back off. He got the hint, this time.

After rejection, I watched him go to the girl next to us and he forcefully grabbed at their hips and kept his mouth close to her neck and ears. She looked pretty uncomfortable, but her friend eventually saved her. What did he do? He moved on to the next girl.

This chain of events kept occurring, a predator in all his glory. What finally set me off (and could have very quickly escalated into a fist fight), was when I was dancing with some friends and he comes up behind me and pushes his very apparent hard on up against my backside. I turned around and pushed him, perhaps harder than I should, and he BLEW UP. He pushed me back then screamed into my ear, "IF YOU DON'T WANT ME TO DANCE WITH YOU DON'T STICK YOUR ASS OUT!!"

The phrase kept ringing in my ears and it took everything in me not to deck him. Did he not realize he was in a gay club? And what the hell made him think that my dancing was FOR him? Yes, I was dressed queerly feminine, but I recall giving no such invitation of "Hey you! Yeah, you. Come rub your dick on me."

I'm sick of this disgusting assumption that femininity means submissiveness, someone and thing to have and they won't fight back. His aggressive reaction was him trying to put me in my place. I was taking the power and control from him, and that's not a womanly thing to do. I have no doubt that he would have hit me (granted, I'd be hitting him too), but it would have been for two entirely different reasons. I'd be decking him for being a misogynistic pig, and he'd be decking me because, as a female-bodied individual, I'm less than him, property if you will and he can't have that changing.

What he doesn't realize is femininity is fierce, bold, and unapologetic. Materialistic things don't make up what it means to be femme or feminine, the power within to rock femininity in a hypermasculine world makes feminine individuals fiercer than the biggest male body builder in the world.

I was later met outside by another man, who came up and straight out asked me if I was gay. I said yes, then he told me I was looking real good and then asked me if I could identify his accent. I could, he was from Jamaica. I have no doubt that he was using this to try to make himself enticing, but then he went on to ask me which of my two friends he can have. I looked at him and was like, "They're not interested."

He responded with something along the lines of "I promise not to take your girl, just let me have the other one." I said they were both my girlfriends and they both only like women (only half true, but I wasn't going to pass my good friends off onto this sexist power-monger).

He didn't seem to understand this. He felt like because he talked to me he was entitled to "have" one of my friends. What world are we living in when sexual orientation has nothing to do with whom people want, if you are female bodied, you will, by default, have to give into a man if he decides HE wants YOU.

This culture is dangerous. When women don't have the freedom to choose, they're subject to rape, sexual assault, and violence. It's time to up the ante on the wombyn's movement, we need social change. If I am this uncomfortable in a place I generally feel at home at, something has got to change. We live in a state of terrorism, and it has nothing to do with the Middle East. If our government is so set on maintaining this "War on Terrorism" they need to start within our own borders. Women are not treated equal, they are constantly reminded of this by comments like both men said to me earlier, the fact they can't walk home alone at night without being petrified, the fact that one in four women will be victim to sexual assault in this country.

It's time to fight, it's time to have those tough conversations until our mouths run dry and our lips are cracked. Women need to stop perpetuating vulnerability when it's not the truth, and men need to stop treating women aggressively just for the sake of doing so. We need to start hosting more events, more seminars, more rallies and protests, and demand wombyn's voices be heard. In our country today, we are not all created equal. It's about time we are.

Peace, Love, and Revolution,


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Bullseye. Hitting the Target on Homophobia

Hey all,

I'm sure many of you are aware of Target, a major retail corporation, donated $150,000 to Tom Emmer, a politician running for Governor of Minnesota. Why is this an issue? Tom Emmer frequently spews homophobic ideals, does not support marriage for same-sex couples, and hangs out with the likes of people who think LGBTQ individuals should all be killed.
Target claims they didn't realize that Emmer was so homophobic. I think this is a load of crap, as any major corporation would check out as much as possible about the politician before they would fund a third of their advertising campaign. Yes, Tom Emmer might be good for big business, but he's going to kill profit margins with his anti-gay banter and entourage.

My personal view is that Target saw legislation going their way if Emmer were to be elected, but once they started getting heat about their choice in politicians, they tried to play the victim card. Anyone with access to the internet can find out who someone is associated with and what their opinions are, especially when it comes to politicians running for major office. I think Target DID know that Emmer was notoriously anti-gay, but they didn't care, business is business right?

This is our chance to make a difference. Yes, all big business is corrupt, but it is possible to make change happen. Everything is about profit, and who gives corporations profits? Consumers, that's who. We have the advantage of pocketbook power. I vote everyone should boycott Target until change is made. Having worked at target for 2 years, I know how they function. They freak out hard core if they don't make sales in a given month. Enough months of that, and you'll see some results. We are in the majority, America is overwhelmingly turning to the side of pro-LGBTQ politics, so the time is now.

I think it's also important to note that there are other ways to boycott Target that can get to the big shots. Hand out fliers or tell people about what Target did, write stock and share holders, hell, write the CEO's. Employees of Target are going to be feeling a boycott as much as the big shots, because when profits are low there are less hours of work to be had. While I hate to think of putting fellow working class individuals in a tight position, it's only going to put more pressure on the big wigs. If they have thousands of angry employees, and potentially strikers, they will have to change how they do politics.

It's up to us to police bigotry and negligence. We have more power than they give us credit for, our dollars fill their pocketbooks. With a lack of customers and a boat load of angry employees and share holders, they will have to make some changes. It's time we unite and fight for what is right, and stop allowing big business to trample on the lives of the people who helped them stay in business in the first place.

Until next time...

Peace, Love, and Revolution,


Monday, July 26, 2010

Verizon--Emblem of Girl Power?

Hey all,

So while being very productive at work and watching Bones on Hulu, this ad from Verizon came on. I've included the video below:

I'm torn on my thoughts about this advertisement. On one end, it screams for girl power, also racial equality. But the reason it's doing it, isn't to empower young women of all races, it's to get young women to buy their product.

This is where things get ugly. They are acknowledging injustices within our society, and blatantly exploiting them for profit. They talk about how "air" doesn't discriminate, well, I'm pretty positive phones don't discriminate, but the people on either end of them do. This message provides this false hope that this right wing corporation actually cares about their thoughts, ideas, and dreams regardless of gender, age, or race. News flash, Verizon couldn't care less about you, they just care about the money you shuffle into their hands.

The whole part about there not being discrimination based on if you're black or white is a load of crud too. What about all the racial variations inbetween? The majority of the women in this video were white--or at least had such pale skin it would be hard to distinguish any other racial identity unless you are really looking for it. I actually counted. There were 10 women who appeared to be straight up white, 2 women who could potentially be Asian-American, and 2 African American women (one of which who was used twice). I didn't see one woman with indicators of Hispanic, Indian, or Middle Eastern descent, not to mention the other races that weren't accounted for.

Why might that be? Because the Hispanics are stealing our resources and jobs, the Indians are stealing our jobs too because they "benefit" from outsourcing, and Middle Easterners want to blow us all up. It would be too controversial if you incorporated everyone, instead we'll stick to the binaries that keep us in this mess.

I think it's important to note that all of these women appear to be middle class. This sends a pretty distinct message, that the air DOES care if you're poor, because you can't afford to use it, so it doesn't like you. I think it's funny how Verizon sets it up so it seems like IT is the air. We need air to survive, to breathe. So if you're not represented in their short list of what they don't discriminate against, you're better off dead.

Also, the women of color spoke in a very typical white dialect, and had no markers of their racial identity except for the actual color of their skin. No wonder the air doesn't discriminate, all the women represented appear to have been socialized to appear and act white. I'm not trying to speculate, as I don't know the actual personal stories of the women in this commercial, but the way they are presented couldn't be any more white.

Overall, I think this commercial is a bunch of bologna. The solution to discrimination isn't getting your parents to switch cell phone carriers, and you will survive if you don't have Verizon. Wouldn't it be nice if ending hundreds of years of oppression could be solved by consumerism? I'm pretty sure it's that sort of capitalistic outlook that fuels oppression on a regular basis.

Peace, Love, and Real Girl Power,


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Intersections of Purity and Race

Hey all,

So today in class we had an interesting discussion about virginity and sexual purity before marriage. This class is a women's health class, and the people in it tend to not be very well educated on intersectionality, in particular race and gender identity. The whole conversation and movie clip we watched kept urking me. This conversation was about white, middle-to-upper class heterosexual women, straight up.

Once we began discussing the video and purity in general, folks were looking at it from a one-sided perspective. One quote really rang in my head, "If they had sex they would put a black stain on their purity."

While I think the person who said it didn't mean for it to have racial implications, but it sure as hell did. Purity is looked as being symbolized as white, clean, and wholesome (I.E. a white wedding dress), and anything not pure is seen as dark, dirty, and cheap.

How does this tie into race? Well those who are thought of to be pure in our society are middle to upper class white heterosexual folks, often times Christians. Lower-class individuals, non-Christian, non-hetero, or people of color fit into that "other" category, the dirty, cheap, and promiscuous sector of society. Women of color are looked at as being jezebels, willing to sleep with anyone. History of slavery in this country has shaped sentiments of people of color and their worth in society.

Looking back at that student's quote, it's clear. If you're white, you're pure, otherwise you are the unwanted stain and you don't belong. The same sentiment is prevalent in the common phrase "The black sheep" referencing the weird, abnormal, deviant person of a certain group. The color choice of the sheep in this phrase isn't just about sheep, it's about the acceptance of people of color within mainstream society and its values. I'm willing to bet there are just as many black sheep as white sheep wandering around out there, but white is default, it's always default. What we're doing is otherizing anyone who isn't white, forming segregated communities with little understanding.

I have a hunch that part of the reason women of color, especially those occupying lower-classes, are victims of more rape and sexual abuse due to the fact that men think they can't say no to sex, their race screams sexual promiscuity. This keeps those pretty little white girls "pure" while the boys can still have their experience. It's a disgusting cycle that needs to stop.

We need to stop looking at purity as being symbolized by whiteness. If you have a black granite counter-top, it's going to be dirty if it has white baking powder on it. When we choose to symbolize such strong moral convictions that are prevalent in society by color, we're further perpetuating systematic racism. Things aren't black and white, and there's not one perspective that should be seen as better than another. We need to start being more aware of these cultural norms that are intertwined and embedded into our lives so that we can stop using them, and start changing them.

Peace, Love, and Equality,


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Being Gay and Gender-Fluid -- Don't Expect Respect

Hey folks,

Sorry about the long lapse in blogging, I've been having 15 hour days, so extra time is dedicated to sleep. But alas, I'm here and queer, and very angry.

So today I participated in a preliminary research study on asthma and allergies. This visit was about getting my medical history, testing my lung capacity, and testing me for allergies to put my information in a bank to be drawn out for various studies (which pay big money...chachangggg). Now, usually I have decent luck with doctors. But this was not a pleasant visit on multiple accounts. For being public health representatives, these doctors had no sort of empathy or compassion, let alone understanding.

The first offense: Homophobia. So she asked me if I was sexually active, and I said yes. Then she asked me how many men I was having relations with. I told her none. She looked at me oddly and questioned my first affirmative answer. I replied "I'm gay, I sleep with women." She looked me dead in the eyes and said "Oh, that doesn't count."

EXCUSE ME? My sexuality doesn't count? If you only wanted hetero responses you should have asked "Are you sexually active in heterosexual relations?" (not that I wouldn't be offended by that either). I'm sick of society assuming that there are A. No STI's or diseases that can be spread in lesbian sex, B. There is no "real" penetration in lesbian sex, and C. Women want to sleep with men, and if they sleep with women it's not because they actually care about it or it's just an experiment and consequently doesn't count.

The Second Offense: Transphobia. While filling out one of the surveys, I told her that I go by my middle name "Rae" not my legal first name "Sarah." She looked at me and said that she doesn't do nicknames, she does legal names. Cool lady, real cool. Then I got to the dreaded "Circle one of the following... Gender: Male or Female." I looked up and said that when they print off more copies of this sheet they should change "Gender" to "Sex" since that's what they were really asking, and that they should include "Intersex."

She told me they don't include intersexual individuals in the studies. Which, HOLD THE PHONE, 1 in 2,000 newborns are intersex, I think they need asthma treatment too. Not to mention intersexuals have different biology in terms of reproductive systems, not lungs. Then she told me "You would be the type to want to not want it to say gender."

Excuse me? I look the type? What does that even mean? Because I'm gay I automatically want to transgress gender? I should note, she didn't know my gender identity previous to this. When I explained I don't identify as either gender, she said that if I didn't pick female that I wouldn't be used in the study. What did I do? I wrote in "Gender-Fluid" next to the gender. Don't ask for gender if you mean sex, and if you ask for either, you best lay out all the options.

The Third Offense: Lack of Empathy for Medical History. So here's where things get real personal. I have a history of struggling with anorexia, it was a long battle and I've been in remission for a full year and three months now. When I told her about it (part of giving medical history) she looked at me with this disgusted look and judgment in her eyes saying "Which one is that again? The one where you starve yourself?"

As a medical professional, this should never occur. Anorexia is a disease and should be treated as such. You should NEVER judge, blame, or ridicule a patient for such. But unfortunately both society and medical professionals view anorexia as a choice, something crazy people do for attention. Talk to anyone battling anorexia, it's not a choice. It's not nearly that simple, it's a crippling disorder that consumes your life and can lead to death if untreated for too long. This isn't something to scoff about.

I don't plan on ever going back to that place, helping doctors who don't have enough respect for their patients to maintain them. Doctors visits should be relatively pleasant, and shouldn't leave you with disgust, guilt, or shame. We need to rework how the medical world views diseases and social concerns. I understand they are only human, they have their biases like everyone else, but if you work in a place that helps people of every background imaginable, you should have no choice but to put judgements and bigotries on the shelf in the locker room. As far as I'm concerned, bigotry only deteriorates patient's health, never improves it.

Signed a very angry queer,


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Texas--Home of the Oppressors Part 5: Immigration

Howdy folks,

This is part 5 of 6 on the Texas GOP Platform. Arizona, a state away from Texas, has passed the strictest immigration policy to date (they are actually being sued by the Federal Government because of it), and it seems as though the Texas GOP wants to follow in their footsteps.

“Legal Immigration – One nation, one flag, one language, one loyalty; America is a country of immigrants, we should insist that any immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself/herself to the United States. He/she shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else. This is predicated upon the fact that the person is in every facet an American, and nothing but an American. There can be no divided allegiance. Anyone who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t American at all. We have room but for one flag, the American Flag. We have room for but one language here and that is the English language. We have room for but one sole loyalty and that is loyalty to the American people. (Teddy Roosevelt, 1907) ''

Alright, so this sounds all hunky dory for the first couple of lines.. then things get serious. What they are asking is that all immigrants erase their past, their native cultures, language, and lose any connections to their homeland. Is it possible to be an American and still honor your roots? You bet. How do you explain all the various German or Polish festivals we have all over the country to honor our ancestors? The way they are defining citizenship, 90% of the people I know aren’t legal citizens because they still speak their ancestors’ tongue, they root for other countries in the World Cup, and they don’t like baseball. That is afterall, trangression from the notion that every legal citizen has to uphold every facet of a real American.

America is great BECAUSE of the differences in culture, pasts, and experiences of immigrants. Yes, immigrants should learn English if they plan on being successful in the US, but should they forget about their home countries, traditions, and languages? God no. I don’t support an elitist country and the efforts to erase cultural diversity. What are they going to do next, require every immigrant to have their skin bleached in order to fit into our “picture perfect” country? Not on my watch.

“Birthright Citizenship – We call on the Legislative, Executive and Judicial branches of these United States to clarify Section 1 of the 14th amendment to limit citizenship by birth to those born to a citizen of the United States: with no exceptions.”

This is also bogus. So a child who is born on our soil, grows up here, knows no other country nor society other than ours, can’t be a citizen if their parents are immigrants without citizenship status? You want to deport children who grow up here because of their parent’s nationality. Some might argue that that last statement I just said is an overgeneralization, but how do you think they they are going to assume someone’s parents are citizens thus making them one? Two words, racial profiling. I have no doubt this is another ploy to dispose of non-white people, in particular those of hispanic or Middle Eastern origin. This will put more people in danger than help current citizens. If on a child’s 21st birthday they are discovered to have non-citizen parents, they risk being deported to a land they’ve never set foot on before. Not to mention it takes YEARS and YEARS to actually attain citizenship, a process children will know little to nothing about.

“American English – We support adoption of American English as the official language of Texas and of the United States.”

There are hundreds of dialects and languages spoken every second here in the US. Declaring American English (which has many different dialects for the record) as the official language is one more way of saying anyone whose first language isn’t American English is less of a person in this country, not legitimate nor wanted. This has dangerous implications. Our country was founded on diversity, we should be celebrating it rather than fighting it. Our demographic is always changing, and it has been since the human existence came to be. We took over the US from the Native Americans, altering the demographic. Humanity is fluid in shape, size, and color. It’s time to stop fighting it and start embracing it.

Immigration is an extremely controversial topic in the United States and virtually everywhere else in the world. If we only want documented immigrants in the US (which I think to an extent is a reasonable request) then we need to start expanding resources and make it easier for people to move here. When we screen people based on income, we leave thousands of people to their deaths in tyrannical, unlivable conditions. As humans we all should have the right to better our lives, that’s the American dream is it not? We need to start making this possible.

Some argue the reason it’s so hard to obtain a visa or legal immigrant status is because of all of the illegal immigrants. Well think about that, the harder it is to be a legal immigrant the more illegal immigrants there will be. People risk their lives to provide for their families or give there children futures by coming to this country. No level of security is going to prevent people coming in. We need to get off our high horses and embrace these people, allow them to be documented so we can be aware of their existence and integrate them more effectively into society.

All the above stances were taken in full context and can be found here.

Peace and Love,


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Twilight--Beauty and the Beast on Heroin


So I reluctantly just finished the first book of the Twilight series, after being forced to read it for one of my classes. It is probably some of the worst writing and editing I have ever been so unfortunate to read, but for some reason it draws you in like black magic and won't let put the dang thing down.

As this 498-page novel sucked out my soul and replaced it with a pre-pubescent girl with the intellect of an orange, I couldn't help but think about how much this story reminded me of a sick and twisted version of The Beauty and The Beast.

I'm sure most of you are familiar with the story of the Disney classic, Belle gets captured by this monstrous beast that treats her like absolute crap, but because she stays with him, he of course turns into prince charming. Well Twilight features Bella (hmm... name bearing any resemblance here?) a quiet, "ordinary" girl with low self-esteem and Edward, a gorgeous, harsh vampire. Surprise surprise, Edward makes Bella fall for him, and she refuses to leave him.

There are many times where he is down right misogynistic and violent towards her. He routinely has to fight the urge of killing her by his strong need to suck her dry. Does she leave him or run away? Of course not, because if you stay with abusers you'll have a fairytale love.

Edward saves her life on numerous occasions, which makes him seem like a hero. I want to make this very clear, Edward is NOT a hero. Yes, he got Bella out of some tight spots, but on every encounter he is condescending, cruel, and usually forceful (both physically and emotionally) with her. He uses his vampire powers to hypnotize her, to get her heart to stop beating and cause her to faint, or to beat crazily fast. He puts her in danger not only by wanting to make her a human bloody mary, but by his actions and temper with her. Like the Beast, he falls in love with Bella and is portrayed as "prince charming." Like I said previously, this is NOT the case no matter how many heart strings Stephanie Meyer (the author) pulls.

What's worse than the classic story of The Beauty and The Beast, where little girls are taught to stay with abusers, knowing that their charm and beauty can cure, change them, is that Edward isn't expected to change... SHE is. This story line has a clear message.... Men are the way they are, aggressive and violent, and women are meant to alter their motions and behaviors as not to egg them on. Throughout the whole book Bella is constantly trying to be careful of what she says or does, changing who she is in order to please Edward and hopefully spare her life. She calls this love. I call this a trance-like death wish that not only her, but many women in society get convinced to have. In the end she even tries to convince Edward to make her a vampire (supposedly an extremely painful and unforgiving process) so that she can be good enough to stay with him forever and not be in imminent danger. There is no expectation that Edward is going to always be able to control himself, as is constantly portrayed by her constant fear of his sudden movements.
I should also note that the female vampires don't treat Bella aggressively in any sort of physical fashion, it is only the males.

It scares me to think this is what our youth are reading, slowly being brainwashed by these gender roles strung through the entire book. If you're a boy, you need to aspire to be dead-looking (the vampires are wickedly pale with large circles under their eyes... much like meth addicts I would assume), harsh, and violent in order to be appealing to women. If you're a girl, you need to aspire to be frail, in perpetual damsel in distress mode, and change to conform to the aggressions your "man" imposes on you. We are setting our youth up for a pattern of domestic violence and abusive relationships.

Nonetheless, even while I was hyper-aware of the implications and messages of this book, I felt myself completely absorbed, unable to stop reading. This is a bad sign. Abuse is being turned into a pleasingly entertaining atmosphere to be sucked in with a crazy straw. What does this say about our society, and the future of our society for that matter, that this book can be written and absorbed with such delight? I would be lying if I said it didn't terrify me, the thought that our youth are growing up reading novels and watching movies with such subliminal smut, learning how to interact with one another. In a culture of terrorism against women, I shouldn't be surprised that this book exists, or even that it was written by a woman. Women have learned to take abuse as romance in order to survive, which ultimately is a terribly sad existence.

It's up to both men AND women to overcome this timeline of abuse and violence. We need to start recognizing these forms of media for what they are, harmful propaganda fed to us in order to maintain a societal hierarchy of gender. Do a bit of research before you decide to buy a book or movie, know the themes and messages. Consumer power should never be underestimated. Don't go to movies that feature rape (which is 1 in 8 of them last time I checked), don't buy books that tell you to change yourself for someone else, and don't buy action figures representing abusive characters as the protagonist.

Chilled with rage and teenage angst,


Saturday, July 3, 2010

Texas--Home of the Oppressors Part 4: Education

Hey All,

I hope you can all get out and enjoy one another's company on our Nation's birthday. I will personally be spending it in a parking booth because apparently the university like to observe holidays the day after they happen. Oh well. Anywho, I am finally posting part 4 of 6 on Education and how it is impacted by the Texas GOP Platform.

"Ten Commandments – We oppose any governmental action to restrict, prohibit, or remove public display of the Decalogue or other religious symbols."

This one is pretty obvious, they want to let the Ten Commandments be said in everyday school settings without punishment. While I 100% support freedom of speech, I see this as a ploy to get parents and church goers emphasized permission to encourage their children to evangelize in schools. This I do have a problem with, public schools are a place for learning, protected by the Separation of Church and State. I don't mind if kids talk about their religion, but when they start pressuring other students that's when I get frustrated. Every child deserves to go to public school without fear they are going to have a bible pushed at them.

"Support of Parental Authority - We support parental authority and the teaching of moral values in the home. We oppose school–based clinics and/or youth impact centers located at, sponsored by, or funded by any state agency or public school district, whether or not they dispense condoms and contraceptives or refer, aid, or advise minors to have abortions."

Yes, I believe parents should be involved in teaching their children about sex and their feelings about it. I do however resent the idea that there should be no services or help offered to these kids. They are at the ages of curiosity, raging hormones, and peer pressure. You can't expect that every kid is going to be "good" and stay abstient. STI's happen, pregnancy happens, and rape happens. If you don't have places for kids to go, you're basically isolating them, putting them on an island to get information from unverifiable sources, and leaving them to a potentially doomed fate by not giving them the resources to prevent against HIV and other STI's, among other things.

"Basic Standards – We favor improvements on the quality of education and a return to the traditional basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic with sufficient discipline to ensure learning. We support standardized testing to ensure minimal standards are met. Bilingual Education – English is the language of commerce, therefore a successful tiered language instruction program with the following provisions is recommended:

Year 1: 70% English / 30% Native language (Year 1 indicates first year of U.S. based education)

Year 2: 80% English / 20% Native language

Year 3: 90% English / 10% Native language

Year 4 and thereafter: 100% English (No bilingual education after year 3)

All students must pass recognized standard tests that verify each student’s English ability for their grade level before advancing. No research based evidence exists that a dual language program promotes the language of commerce."

As a English as a Second Language teacher, this really frustrates me. First off, standardized testing is a sham. It's geared to native English speakers and puts unnecessary pressure on students and teachers. The school years are so rushed and packed with information that students don't get much attention to really firmly grasp all the topics.

Secondly, bilingual education isn’t as simple as tiered percentages. Every individual learns language differently and at different paces at that. When you limit education based on a rigid structure, you leave students behind resulting in higher drop-out rates. Especially if you prohibit a student from moving forward a grade (even if they did well in all their classes) just because their English isn’t to a level you deem appropriate. But maybe that’s the goal, get all the immigrants out of our schools so we can reign with our American-born glory. News flash, your ancestors immigrated here, and chances are they didn’t speak English.

“College Textbooks – We support Texas’ colleges and universities use of the same or substitutable textbooks for ten or more years in order to bring costs to students down and maintain some residual value for used books. We oppose restrictions on use of textbooks for multiple years, such as requiring annual access codes.”

This is one of the few stances I actually for the most part support. I do think it’s ridiculous to force students to buy new books because of access codes. I do think that if a new textbook comes out that is infinitely better than the previous edition, it is important to switch to that book. But I like that they are advocating for cheaper textbooks for students.

“Early Childhood Development – We believe that parents are best suited to train their children in their early development and oppose mandatory pre-school and Kindergarten. We urge Congress to repeal government-sponsored programs that deal with early childhood development.”

I think this is beyond ridiculous. Yes, parents should help their children grow and develop in their early (and later) years. However pre-school and Kindergarten are extremely important. This stance is focusing on middle and upper class families who can afford to have a parent not work in order to teach their children. What about single parents, low-income families, and everyone else inbetween who need to have their children in these programs because they work two full-time jobs just to make sure that their kids can eat? By taking away these resources you will not only see a drop in literacy skills in lower-income households, but also potentially greater poverty due to childcare costs and tuition to private pre-schools and kindergartens.

“Educational Entitlement – Given that education is reserved to the states under the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, we encourage legislation that prohibits enrollment in free public schools of non-citizens unlawfully present in the United States. We encourage the Texas Attorney General to challenge the Federal provision of residency verification.”

Again, this is ridiculous. Yes, these illegal immigrants need to pay taxes that will help fund schools. But it is not in the best interest of the children to deny them schooling because the citizenship process takes YEARS (sometimes more the 10). Most of these immigrants are here because their people were being slaughtered in their country, poverty destroyed their lives, or they are being persecuted by big corporations or their government. They are here to better their lives, and seeing how that’s what all OUR ancestors came here for, we best live up to our civic duty to help these people.

“Multiculturalism – We support teaching the principles articulated by Republican Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., that we be judged not by the color of our skin but by the content of our character and we celebrate positive contributions to our society by members of all cultural groups without emphasizing their differences. We favor strengthening our common American identity and loyalty instead of multiculturalism that emphasizes differences among racial and ethnic groups.”

This is really a disgusting standpoint living in this masquerade of equality. If we are going to say everyone is the same, we’re all American and thus have the same experiences we are setting ourselves up for bigotry and lack of sensitivity. It is a fact that different racial and ethnic groups experience the world differently. When we fail to acknowledge these differences we falsely say we can relate to eachother on levels that we really can’t. This lack of sensitivity will lead eventually lead to the end of affirmative action, lack of cultural understanding, and eventually, it is this author’s belief, white supremacy to a greater degree than it exists today. In this country we are not all created equal. It’s only through education that we can change that, and if we ignore it, the gaps between races will grow larger and true equality will never be had.

“Sex Education – We recognize parental responsibility and authority regarding sex education. We support policies that mandate parental notification and consent before any sex education program is presented to their child. Parents must be given an opportunity to review the material prior to giving their consent. We oppose any sex education other than abstinence until heterosexual marriage.”

So I have a huge beef with sex education in the United States. When over 53% of middle school children are already having sex, you know abstinence-only education isn’t working. There has been studies done that prove that absitence-only education doesn’t decrease sexual activity in youth, but it does prevent a majority of them practicing safe sex or using contraception. Comprehensive sex ed doesn’t increase levels of sexual activity, but it does improve the numbers of of participants using contraception and practicing safe sex.

I do agree that parents should be notified if their child is going to be taught sex-ed, and they should be able to decide what’s best for their child. However this idea that heterosexual abstinence-only education should be the only thing taught is appalling. With teen pregnancy on the rise we need to be preparing our children to protect themselves, rather than hearing myths from their friends.

“Traditional Principles in Education – We support school subjects with emphasis on Judeo-Christian principles (including the Ten Commandments) upon which America was founded and which form the basis of America’s legal, political and economic systems. We support curricula that are heavily weighted on original founding documents, including the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, and Founders’ writings.”

Let me break this down for you.... They want to TEACH our children the Ten Commandments in school. Last I heard, this was crazily illegal. I’ve written at length the implications of announcing that our country is a Christian nation in Part 3: Separation of Church and State. If we want to alienate our non-Christian students, this is the way to do it. And I in absolutely no way support this method of teaching.

“School Health Care – We urge legislators to prohibit reproductive health care services, including counseling, referrals, and distribution of condoms and contraception through public schools. We support the parents’ right to choose, without penalty, which medications are administered to their minor children. We oppose medical clinics on school property except higher education and health care for students without parental consent.”

No counseling... So what happens if a child is raped by their father and they have no one to talk to but the school nurse or counselor? We want to take away the only resource they have available to them? This is disgusting and just plays into the culture of silence.

Like I said above about sex education, students need access to protection. At the very least condoms are important. If kids are going to have sex (which, they are, nothing you say or do is going to prevent it) do you want them to have the option to prevent disease and pregnancy? I would hope you would. There is really no other place for these kids to get these products, and it’s important that they are available to them AND they know how to use them.

Education in this country is already severly lacking. This platform is calling for regression, not progress. We owe it to our youth to fight this and ensure that they receive the education they deserve. I think it’s also important to note that this isn’t just a Texas issue. Texas is the largest distributor of text books in this country. That being said, what happens in Texas is what happens in schools everywhere. If you don’t want your children being taught that our country is a strictly English-speaking, Christian nation, you need to help rally against this platform. Urge your local senators to take up bills like California did, asking your state government to have restrictions on what can go into these textbooks so unfair, biased sentiments aren’t woven into your children’s texts.

All the above stances were taken in full context and can be found here.

Peace, love, and the Right to Equal Education,


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Queerland--The Culture of Hooking Up

Hey Folks,

In my summer class we've been reading various chapters from the book Guyland, which discusses the rules, codes, and culture associated with being a man between the ages of 16 and 26 in American society. While reading this book I was constantly finding things that reflected how I felt queer culture worked. Despite all of the relatable characteristics, I would say the most profound one is by far hookup culture.
In the queer campus environment it seems that everyone is ranked on social status. You have the baby dykes and fags, the B crowd, and the studs and power dykes. I should note this is my own rigid description of queer hierarchy, and any other person experiences this hierarchy differently and therefor might add tiers, subtract tiers, or rename them entirely.

So let's start out by defining what these categories are. The lowest tier being the baby dykes and fags. These are the folks that are just coming to grips with their sexuality, embracing it, and/or walking around proudly trying to make sure everyone and their mom knows they are queer. Their enthusiasm is taken in by everyone surrounding them. To those of their same level they are looked at as people to experiment with, enjoy, and date. The people involved in the higher tiers instead look at them as fresh meat, the prey. I'll explain this further in a minute.

The B crowd contains the majority of queers. These folks are for the most part at peace with their sexuality and understand who they are. It has been my experience that these people date on occasion, hook up on occasion, but for the most part just enjoy life. They may be somewhat idolized by the baby dykes and fags, but not nearly to the extent of the highest tier.

The elite, top level of campus queerdom is to be a gay stud or power dyke. These folks are on top, shown as being the most desirable. These are the queers that sleep with a LOT of different partners. They truly embody the hookup culture that is found in the culture of straight white college men. Many people strive to make it to this tier, to show their true gayness. Since these folks are on top, whenever fresh meat (aka the baby dykes and fags) come into the picture, they tend to jump on them like a fresh kill. They take advantage of their curiosity and want to explore in order to continue to increase their social ranking.

I personally fit into the middle category. I'm long passed my coming out stage where I feel like I need to makeout with every woman that moves. I will admit, in the beginning I wanted to be the power dyke, the most desirable of the crowd, the one in charge so to speak. So initially, I hooked up, it was part of what it meant to be a queer in college.
So what happens when I'm sick of pointless, sloppy, drunk sex? I coast in the middle, B crowd. I've come to grips with this and am completely comfortable in this situation. I'd much rather date someone I'm actually interested in, rather than score (and really, it is scoring, you keep track of your partners and whomever has the most points wins status) with a woman I just think is attractive but have no clue what our brain chemistry is. This is all hunky dory until you realize the reality of the environment you're in when you live in a campus culture.

This makes dating extremely difficult. You meet someone you actually like, but before long it is expected that your relationship is based on sex. The concept of taking it slow, getting to really know a person is rapidly being erased. This perplexes me.

How much value can you really put on a relationship that is almost solely based on sex? I think the answer to that question varies from person to person, but overall I think that any value couldn't be whole based on the imbalance within the relationship. If we stop caring about the connections we are making with people, what does that say about us as humans? While sex is an extremely personal and intimate act, I think it is being robbed of some of its power in that regard. Rather than being a way to link to people together on a profound level, it's being used as a tool to further ones social status.. a tactic used since the dawn of time (Remember those Greeks and Romans that looked at sex as holding power over the recipient?).

The only difference I would say, is that in queer culture both parties generally get a rise in status, rather than only the "man" in the hookup. While I think the "top" in the situation generally gets more praise, there isn't as much of a stigma of being "bottom" and hooking up and being a slut as it would be in a heterosexual encounter.

I have no real solution to this, I just find it extremely fascinating. We're using each other in this large game of keeping score and seeing who comes out on top. Just some food for thought.

I also recognize I didn't discuss politics in terms of bisexuality. This is partly due to the general exclusion and mistrust of most bisexuals which possibly gives them their own tier in the hierarchy altogether. I also think that in terms of how in tune they are in queer culture, they can still rank in any of the three tiers, but this is solely based on the community and environment they are in.

I'd be really interested in hearing your views on the topic, as I in no way claim to be the expert.



Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Racial Profiling--Ensuring Safety or Perpetuating a Culture of Racism

Hey All,

So I know that I already posted earlier today and am potentially breaking the blogging etiquette of letting readers keep up with you, but tough. Work is a wonderful place to remind you of all the things that happen in society, that much is for sure. So today I came across a particularly blatant social issue, racial profiling.

Let me set the scene for you.... Every once in awhile the parking garages get an email with pictures and names of wanted criminals, people to look out for and when we see them we are to call the authorities. Earlier this week we got one such email, with the pictures of a black man and a white woman, we're told they are drug dealers.

So today, a coworker of mine called 911 to notify them that he had seen the man in the picture. Now this would be perfectly legit if it had been true. The man had a patient visitor pass (meaning he is a direct relative of a patient and has parking privileges). These passes have the name of the person parking as well as the patient, and the names were not the same. So this man who is coming to the hospital to provide support for his sick loved one was about to have a really bad day. Essentially the only crime this man had committed was being black in the United States.

When I confronted the coworker about the situation he expressed no remorse. He said that first of all he had to racial profile, secondly that to him all black people looked the same. My coworker is a middle-class, middle-aged, white man. I was dumbstruck. I asked him if he had seen a brunette woman (the woman in the picture was white and had brunette hair) if he would call the cops on her because all brunettes look the same. He chuckled and said "Of course not!" and walked back to his booth.

I've heard this sentiment before... "Oh, all those Asians look the same!" or the assumption that all brown people are Mexican. But every time I hear it, I'm as dumbfounded as I was previously. This is systematic racism at it's best, and it's rampant within our society.

The only reason anyone would think that an entire group of people who share a skin pigment look the same is because they don't care to actually look at them as individuals. The people who say these things are those who don't take the time to get to know people of color, who don't take time to appreciate other cultures. This is a dangerous slope to be on. When we generalize who people are based solely on how much melanin they have, we fall into the hands of harsh stereotypes and prejudices.

All blacks are on welfare and in gangs, selling drugs. All brown people are illegal aliens. All Asians are really good at math and can't drive. All white people are rich and have morals.

When people tell me they aren't racist, I often chuckle. I'm not saying that racism is funny, it's just so ingrained into our society and how we are raised that it would be highly unlikely for anyone not to harbor even the faintest racist tendencies. Like when my coworker told me he wasn't racist, I couldn't help but laugh because he doesn't realize how embedded his racism is, it's natural and normal to him. When you can't tell that one person doesn't look identical to the next solely because they don't share your same skin tone, chances are you've got some racism deep down in your gut, the result of living in a racist society that likes to pretend its not.

Saying "I'm not racist!" and then talking about how all the Mexicans are stealing our jobs is a contradiction in the simplest of terms. Saying you're not racist but then the only people you will talk to are people who share your same skin town is a contradiction. When someone isn't racist they don't care what color a person is when they talk to them, they don't assume they're going to steal their purse because of their race, they don't make hefty generalizations, and they take strides to learn about others' experiences. Now a lot of this isn't just racism, it's classism and sexism and all other sorts of isms intertwined into the scenarios as well.

As a society we need to be better about realizing that racism is still alive and well, and just saying that you're not racist doesn't make it true. It's time we start doing some real soul searching and call each other out on things that embody this culture of racism in a means of progressing our nation to a truly racist free state. And I want to make it clear that I'm not just pegging this on white people, people of all races generalize and discriminate against each other. I've had black friends talk about those damn Mexicans, and Asian friends talk about those poor, unintellectual blacks. I've even heard people of their own races generalizing themselves. We need to work together to combat this. Acknowledge that everyone plays into this and that the solution is not simply one sided.

We need to see people as individuals, not as overgeneralized groups of people. I can guarantee that there countless people that are exceptions to these stereotypical boxes we put them in, but we'd never know it unless we didn't assume. Who knows, the person you've been so sure was stealing your jobs also happens to be a US citizen and makes an excellent friend. Don't be so quick to judge.

Racial profiling is a way of incriminating an entire group of people for the crimes of one. If you take nothing else from this, just remember to treat everyone as individuals. Think of that poor man getting pulled over and needlessly questioned after a traumatic day at the hospital solely because someone assumed he dealt drugs because he was black. We're not all the same, and we should start reflecting that in how we view one another.

Peace, Love, and Social Clarity,


Human Trafficking--The Truth We Choose to Ignore


So last night I finished reading an excerpt from the book Half The Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide for a class I'm taking this summer. It made me recall the various educational events and fundraisers that I did with UNICEF to bring awareness to the issue of human trafficking, more specifically, the trafficking of women and girls as sex slaves.
What people don't realize is that millions of young girls and women are taken from their homes and forced into prostitution by force of beatings, rape, and countless other forms of abuse. These brothels often don't give them clothes, shoes, or wages for fear that they'll run away.
Furthermore customers rarely use condoms, thus contributing to pregnancies (where if not aborted right away, they take the children from their mothers to keep them from running away as well as to raise the children to be new prostitutes) and disease. As this book points out, one of the leading causes of death amongst these sex slaves is AIDS. They even pointed out that in some parts of the world, predominantly in Africa, there is a myth that you will be cured of AIDS if you have sex with a virgin, thus triggering and increase in abductions of young girls.
This is a horrific occurrence and many people, even the authorities, just turn and look the other way. What's more, many Americans think "oh, this only happens in OTHER countries, it's not like it's in my backyard." The fact of the matter is, it IS in our backyard. Madison, WI alone has estimates of at least 200 sex slaves, trafficked from all over. There isn't a major city (or even suburban, smaller cities) that isn't affected by human trafficking. Hundreds of thousands of people (predominantly women and girls) are trafficked into the US as mail-order brides, person masseuses, or underground brothel workers.
So denying that this is happening, that millions of women are girls are being forced into slavery, should not be an option. We are all linked together by being human, by the capacity to feel and love, the innate need to survive and have freedom. Ignoring millions of people for the sake of your own privileged existence is crime to yourself as a human being.
It's time to start taking action, get involved with organizations that combat human trafficking, travel abroad and volunteer at schools and shelters for women and girls, or at least do your research and remain aware of what's going on so you can spread the word. Unless the masses start speaking up, nothing is going to change. Not only should we be helping rescue women and girls from all over the globe, providing them with education and job opportunities, but we should be rescuing our sisters that live in fear right under our noses. It's also important to note that we have to be mindful of the cultures of each of these places that are plagued with this problem. We need to find a way to allow them to figure out their own means of combating this issue and supporting them in those endeavors. We're not here to be the happy-go-lucky white middle-class folk that just throw money at them, we need them to take feminism and figure out what it means to them and the best means of achieving an equal world.
I'm not saying this is an easy process by any means, but we need to stop living in the dark. Host events on your campuses or in your communities about what is actually happening here in our backyards. Never underestimate the power of education. Even if you don't have the money to spare to help the cause, that doesn't mean you're useless. Talk about these issues, tell your neighbors, friends, coworkers, and families.
If you do come across someone whom you think might be the victim of trafficking, tell the authorities or find a rape crisis organization and notify them. They can help from there. It's time we start fighting sexism within our own societies, and support others in their efforts. Anytime a wombyn anywhere in the world is oppressed, we are all oppressed.

More Information:

Now go out there and get active!


Monday, June 28, 2010

Texas--Home of the Oppressors Part 3: Separation of Church and State

Greetings to Internet Land,

Part 3 of the 6 part series on the Texas GOP Platform is dedicated to the implication of the Separation of Church and State. For those of you who might not be familiar with this, it's basically where the constitution says that religion and the Church have no power or influence in legislation or court rulings. While this is a fundamental part of the founding of our nation, it is trampled on in countless ways. This platform does a good job of taking it and dragging it through the mud.

"Remedies to Activist Judiciary – We call Congress and the President to use their constitutional powers to restrain activist judges. We urge Congress to adopt the Judicial Conduct Act of 2005 and remove judges who abuse their authority. Further, we urge Congress to withhold Supreme Court jurisdiction in cases involving abortion, religious freedom, and the Bill of Rights."

Alright, there's a lot wrong with this stance. The first being that the fastest and most efficient (note, by most I don't mean it is that efficient, it's just better than proposing a bill) way changes in government are made are through cases in that occur in federal and state supreme courts. Their ruling judge what is or isn't constitutional and how the law should be enforced. What they are wanting to do is get rid of any progressive judges that help this country progress, hence leaving room for digression and removal of personal rights for anyone who isn't a white middle-class male.

To go farther, they want to take away the reason we have the Supreme Court. If you cut out anything having to do with abortion, religious freedom (which we do indeed technically have according to our founding fathers), and the Bill of Rights. Those three categories cover almost all of the cases that would be seen in cases that make it to the Supreme Court. They want to eliminate progress and make sure rights aren't granted where they don't think they are deserved (when more than likely they are).

"Free Speech for the Clergy – We urge change of the Internal Revenue Code to allow a religious organization to address issues without fear of losing its tax-exempt status. We call for repeal of requirements that religious organizations send government any personal information about their contributors."

So tax benefits should be given to organizations who openly promote discrimination, hate, and violence. Yeah, that seems really appropriate. I'll pay my full taxes, and the West Borough Baptist Church can squeeze by tax free, because after all, they stand for everything the Texas GOP loves. And maybe, just maybe, they can get rid of all those fags and people of color without financial or criminal consequence.

Whether people like to admit it or not, churches are businesses. The fact they are tax-exempt in the first place is beyond me. When they don't have to provide information on who and what is giving them money, there is no way of truly knowing what they are doing (from a governmental standpoint). If you have a terrorist organization feeding millions of dollars into a super church in the faith that they'll promote hate, you have problems. If hate organizations can fund churches, churches don't deserve tax breaks. Enough said.

"Religious Freedom in Public Schools – We urge school administrators and officials to inform Texas school students specifically of their First Amendment rights to pray and engage in religious speech, individually or in groups, on school property without government interference. We support and strongly urge Congress to pass a Religious Freedom Amendment, which provides: “Neither the United States nor any State shall prohibit student–sponsored prayer in public schools, nor compose any official student prayer or compel joining therein.” We urge the Legislature to end censorship of discussion of religion in our founding documents, and encourage discussing those documents."

If you're speechless after reading that, you're in good company. For starters they are promoting open Christianity in schools. Reading this, you would think any religion could have their rights to prayer in school, but after reading the entire platform, I have no doubt in my mind that they would encourage schools to quiet any students who express faith in a religion or lack of religion that wasn't an acceptable form of Christianity. By openly supporting religious speech in schools, they are essentially promoting evangelism or spreading the word.... no matter how much hate that word involves.

Now don't get me wrong, I firmly support freedom of speech for everyone in all settings. I just think if they want to emphasize freedom of speech, they best emphasize allaspects of it, not just religion. Perhaps what upsets me the most is that they want our government to say "We are a Christian Nation and all our laws reflect this." While it is possible that Judeo-Christianity helped inspire some of the documents, our country was founded on the basis that anyone can worship or not worship any religion they please.That means we are NOT a government of faith, and should not be proclaiming such things in order to alienate a large percentage of our population.

"Judeo-Christian Nation – As America is a nation under God founded on Judeo-Christian principles, we affirm the constitutional right of all individuals to worship in the religion of their choice."

Again, they are saying that everyone can choose to worship whatever religion they please, but they best keep in mind that the only religion that the US really accepts and promotes is Christianity. Not to mention that "under God" wasn't added to the Pledge of Allegiance until World War II and in this author's opinion, done wrongfully so. I see this as nothing more than a scare tactic to push other religions (or lack thereof) underground for the fear of persecution. Cool texas, real cool.

"Safeguarding Our Religious Liberties – We affirm that the public acknowledgement of God is undeniable in our history and is vital to our freedom, prosperity and strength. We pledge our influence toward a return to the original intent of the First Amendment and toward dispelling the myth of separation of church and state. We urge the Legislature to increase the ability of faith-based institutions and other organizations to assist the needy and to reduce regulation of such organizations."

Huzzah, they sure like to end things with a big shabang. I can't tell you how upset this last stanza makes me. First, they're saying that if we don't acknowledge the fact that their Christian God (which, I remind you is not everyone's God) is the driving force in the founding of this nation, our freedom and futures will be in jeopardy. The way I see it it's just the opposite. If our government gets bullied into taking such a stance, our nation will go from being an already big bully on the world front, to an evangelist nation that plans on starting wars to protect the sanctity of the Christian God. Who's going to get hurt by this? Any nation that doesn't have an official religion that can't be considered Christianity, oh, and all the people here in the US who don't believe in the Christian God.

Furthermore, they want to completely eliminate the separation of church and state, claiming it's a bunch of poppy-cock. While I agree the separation of church and state has been trampled all over, it is still potentially the most important document that exists in our constitution. It's what is supposed to guarantee that people of all believing natures are represented in the law and not discriminated against because of their choices in faith.

In addition, reducing regulation of religious organizations that help the needy would produce devastating effects. In New York (I'm pretty positive it was New York, if not it was Washington DC) a Catholic organization cut all of its services to the homeless in protest of a bill that was going to be passed to give same-sex couples the right to marry. That sent 10,000 people out on the streets without food or shelter. When we don't regulate these organizations, they use their influence to persuade voting. As many of you know, the bill was rejected.

The Separation of Church and State is a fundamental block in our government. If we choose to cast it aside, it is my firm belief that everything is going to be going to the figurative fires of hell in a hand-basket. Discrimination will be able to run rampant with full permission and little remorse or consequence. If we really want to secure freedom and morality (humanity even) for our nation, we need to fully enforce the Separation of Church and State and elect more officials that aren't of a strictly Christian background. I want to see people of every faith in our government. It's up to us to make it happen, we have the voting power, time to start using it.

And as always, all the above stanzas of the platform were taken in full context and can be viewed here.