Friday Reads: This and that and the other …Posted: May 28, 2021
Hi Sky Dancers!
I’m still exhausted from end-of-term madness. We’re still caught up in reacting to Trumpist news. I’ll go there but not quite yet.
My neighbor tweeted this BBC article this morning on the terrifying rape culture in India. Read this and see how the judge on the case dismissed a work-related rape. It’s horrifying! I need to post a trigger warning here! The judge actually describes what he finds “appropriate” behavior for a rape victim. There should be global outrage on this one.
As many of you may know, I’ve been an advocate of battered women and children and also rape victims since high school. I’ve been involved in this well into my current state of cronehood. I fear for my daughters and for my soon-to-be-born granddaughters. How can we ever get rid of these attitudes? This is from India but I’ve run into these same attitudes here.
The illustration came from the following article.
Is there an appropriate way for a rape victim to behave?
That’s the question many are asking in India after a judge threw out charges against a man accused of raping a female colleague and questioned the behaviour of the alleged victim.
Judge Kshama Joshi wrote that in photographs taken shortly after the alleged assault, the young woman was “smiling and looked happy, normal, in [a] good mood”.
“She did not look disturbed, reserved, terrified or traumatised in any way even though this was immediately after she claims to have been sexually assaulted,” the judge wrote in a 527-page judgement.
The charges against Tarun Tejpal, the high-profile former editor of Tehelka magazine, were dismissed. The Goa government, which has appealed the decision, asked on Thursday for an early hearing, saying “we owe it to our girls” and that the acquittal order was “erroneous in law” and “unsustainable”. The High Court judge agreed and said he would hear the case on 2 June.
Endless debunking of these myths has led to little progress. The root causes are power and control. Never forget!
The fight to remove power and control from women also continues on the fight to preserve access to legal abortions. This is from WBUR: “The Supreme Court, Abortion And The Anti-Abortion Movement’s Long Game.” The forced birth movement will never be satisfied an end to Roe V Wade. Here’s a list of articles discussed in the broadcast.
CNN: “How Trump and McConnell set the final pieces for the Supreme Court to reconsider Roe v. Wade” — “Conservatives have been waiting decades for this moment: a transformed Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear an abortion case that directly challenges women’s reproductive rights tracing to the 1973 Roe v. Wade milestone.”
Wall Street Journal: “The Mississippi Abortion Case at the Supreme Court: What You Should Know” — “The question of abortion rights is making a return to the Supreme Court, with justices on Monday agreeing to hear a challenge to a Mississippi law that bans abortions after about 15 weeks of pregnancy.”
Ms. Magazine: “Unprecedented Surge in Anti-Abortion Laws Proposed and Passed Across the U.S.” — “In the first four months of 2021, anti-abortion lawmakers introduced 536 abortion restrictions in 46 states, including 146 abortion bans, according to a report released by the Guttmacher Institute on Friday. They enacted 61 restrictions in 13 states, including eight bans that would go into effect if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. Governors signed 28 restrictions into law in eight states just last week.”
The Hill: “Democrats: Roe v. Wade blow would fuel expanding Supreme Court” — “Democratic senators say if the Supreme Court strikes a blow against Roe v. Wade by upholding a Mississippi abortion law, it will fuel an effort to add justices to the court or otherwise reform it.”
The headlines are quite bleak. This is from New York Magazine and was written by By Irin Carmon and Benjamin Hart. “The Radicalism of the Abortion Law the Supreme Court Granted”.
Irin: I would call this catastrophic for abortion rights. Not even the 5th circuit, arguably the most conservative appeals court in the country, thought it was worth upholding this ban, because it so egregiously flouts almost a half-century of precedent. There’s no circuit split — the dissent among lower courts that usually obliges the Supreme Court to step in. The court has had many chances to change its rule as to whether states can ban abortion before viability and never has. This suggests at least four justices (which is how many it takes to take up a case) think now is the time.
This is the from the local Erie News about the radical set of abortion legislation advanced by republicans in the Pennsylvania house. I have not put the headline up because it contains mislabelling of the Forced Birth movement
Pennsylvania conservatives have previously pushed anti-abortion legislation, but several bills have stalled in committee, including when the Republican-controlled Legislature had a Republican governor to sign their agenda into law.
Former Republican Gov. Tom Corbett in 2011 signed into law stricter standards for abortion clinics and in 2013 signed a law that denied abortion coverage through Obamacare.
But nothing as restrictive as what was introduced Tuesday got close to law during the Corbett years.
The three bills Republicans advanced this week include a heartbeat bill that would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected; a ban on abortions after a Down syndrome diagnosis; and another that requires medical facilities to disclose burial options for miscarriages and abortions.
Rep. Kate Klunk, R-York County, said during the committee meeting that supporting the ban on abortions after a Down syndrome diagnosis is a “no brainer.”
“We shouldn’t allow them to be discriminated against,” she said.
“Children with Down syndrome, they lead amazing lives,” Klunk added. “They are contributing in so many ways, but they need the chance at life to be able to do that.”
Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny County, called the ban “dystopian” during the meeting and said the General Assembly is creating more fear while denying access to healthcare.
Rep. Frank Ryan, R-Lebanon County, introduced the bill on burial options because of his own experience after losing a child, a story he has shared previously.
He said he was “asking the ladies in the room” to “recognize how men feel.”
He said his bill is optional and gives families a chance at closure after losing a baby, he said.
“This is about giving choice to those people whose faith says that life begins at conception,” Ryan said.
Frankel argued that Ryan’s bill mandates cremation or burial and does not make it optional after abortion or miscarriage. To get a burial, a death certificate would also be required for abortions and miscarriages.
This is also about power and control. This is from The Guardian “Anti-abortion movement bullish as legal campaign reaches US supreme court.”
The anti-abortion movement in the US is emboldened and optimistic after the supreme court announced it would hear a direct challenge to laws underpinning the right to abortion in the US, and Texas enacted a law intended to ban abortion after six weeks.
The high court decision to take up the case and the Texas move come during the most hostile year for reproductive rights in the nearly half-century since pregnant people won the constitutional right to choose whether to terminate a pregnancy in the landmark 1973 case Roe v Wade.
“The long-predicted scaling back of abortion rights by the supreme court just got a lot more likely,” said Mary Ziegler, a legal historian, author of Abortion and the Law in America: Roe v Wade to the Present, and law professor at Florida State University.
Today, abortion is legal in all 50 states up to the point the fetus can survive outside the womb, a legal concept called “viability” established in Roe. This is generally understood to be about 24 weeks (a full-term pregnancy is 39 weeks).
The case taken up by the court, called Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, will answer whether Mississippi can limit abortion to 15 weeks, and is brought by the state’s last abortion clinic. If upheld, it would reduce by more than two months the time in which a woman could choose to terminate a pregnancy.
“It’s really hard to see why the court would take this case unless they’re interested in reversing part of Roe or all of Roe,” said Ziegler. Further, the court chose to answer “the most explosive question in the case”, which “suggests they’re not really worried about the political fallout”.
On the right, the hopes are clear: that the court will end the legal right to an abortion, and potentially allow room to criminalize the procedure.
“We’re all hopeful the court will be intellectually honest and acknowledge what the science is clear on – that a unique human life starts at fertilization,” said Lila Rose, founder and president of the anti-abortion advocacy group Life Action. Rose is widely seen as the face of the millennial anti-abortion movement.
Mississippi is just one of 29 states across the south and midwest considered hostile to abortion rights, where 58% of American women of reproductive age live, and which would probably act to further restrict abortion rights.
The supreme court case represents the most severe challenge ever presented to Roe, and is a reflection of how the country has splintered in a decade of Republican-led voting restrictions and partisan gerrymandering, the process of redrawing politicians’ districts to favor one party.
“We’re becoming two countries, and your voting rights and your reproductive rights are increasingly likely to depend on where you live,” said David Daley, a senior fellow at FairVote and the bestselling author of Rat F**ked: Why Your Vote Doesn’t Count.
The purge continues in education. Not only is sex education in many states illegal but now summer school classes in Oklahoma have been cancelled because they don’t teach the white male version of racism. From Oklahoma City Local News station 5: “Oklahoma teacher says summer class canceled due to bill that bans teaching critical race theory.”
A teacher is disappointed with Gov. Kevin Stitt after one of her summer classes was canceled due to House Bill 1775, which bans educators from teaching certain concepts of race and racism.
Melissa Smith told KOCO 5 that she’s taught race theory-type classes for six years and is confused why there’s an issue now.
“I’m not happy. This is information everyone needs to know,” Smith said.
The high school and community college teacher said House Bill 1775 has caused her to lose a class she was supposed to teach this summer at Oklahoma City Community College.
“I’ve actually been teaching race and ethnicities in the United States for multiple years,” she said.
The recently signed legislation restricts what can be taught about racial divisions through history in Oklahoma classrooms.
“I got an email a week or so ago, saying due to this new law, they were canceling my completely full race and ethnicities class,” Smith said.
Her students won’t be able to take her class even though it was required for some to graduate. Also, Smith won’t be paid.
“This was a huge chunk of my income,” she said.
When Stitt signed the bill, he said, “We can and should teach the history without labeling a young child as an oppressor or requiring he or she feel guilt or shame based on their race or sex. I refused to tolerate otherwise.”
So, this is AmeriKKKa. This is from The New Yorker and Susanne B. Glasser: “American Democracy Isn’t Dead Yet, but It’s Getting There. A country that cannot even agree to investigate an assault on its Capitol is in big trouble, indeed.”
Before leaving town for their Memorial Day recess, in fact, Senate Republicans were expected to use the legislative filibuster for the first time this session to block the proposed bipartisan panel. Their stated arguments against a commission range from the implausible to the insulting; the real explanation is political cynicism in the extreme. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is so far delivering on his pledge to focus a “hundred per cent” on blocking Biden’s agenda, even claimed that an investigation was pointless because it would result in “no new fact.” John Cornyn, a close McConnell ally, from Texas, was more honest, at least, in admitting, to Politico, that the vote was all about denying Democrats “a political platform” from which to make the 2022 midterm elections a “referendum on President Trump.” For his part, Trump has been putting out the word that he plans to run for reëlection in 2024—and exulting in polls showing that a majority of Republicans continue to believe both his false claims of a fraudulent election and that nothing untoward happened on January 6th. Needless to say, these are not the signs of a healthy democracy ready to combat the autocratic tyrants of the world.
“Turns out, things are much worse than we expected,” Daniel Ziblatt, one of the “How Democracies Die” authors, told me this week. He said he had never envisioned a scenario like the one that has played itself out among Republicans on Capitol Hill during the past few months. How could he have? It’s hard to imagine anyone in America, even when “How Democracies Die” was published, a year into Trump’s term, seriously contemplating an American President who would unleash an insurrection in order to steal an election that he clearly lost—and then still commanding the support of his party after doing so.
This is the worrisome essence of the matter. In one alarming survey released this week, nearly thirty per cent of Republicans endorsed the idea that the country is so far “off track” that “American patriots may have to resort to violence” against their political opponents. You don’t need two Harvard professors to tell you that sort of reasoning is just what could lead to the death of a democracy. The implications? Consider the blunt words of Judge Amy Berman Jackson, in a ruling on a case involving one of the January 6th rioters at the Capitol, issued even as it became clear that Republican senators would move to block the January 6th commission from investigating what had caused the riot:
It’s worth noting that Jackson released this ruling this week, the same week that Trump issued statements calling the 2020 vote “the most corrupt Election in the history of our Country,” touting himself as “the true President,” and warning that American elections are “rigged, corrupt, and stolen.”
“To be making a decision for the short-term political gain at the expense of understanding and acknowledging what was in front of us on Jan. 6, I think we need to look at that critically. Is that really what this is about, one election cycle after another?” Murkowski said.
She added: “Or are we going to acknowledge that as a country that is based on these principles of democracy that we hold so dear. And one of those is that we have free and fair elections… I kind of want that to endure beyond just one election cycle.”
So, I rather thought this post would be something else than it became as I wrote. Once again, I went down a dark rabbit hole. We are losing our democracy and our selves in a series of right wing autocratic attempts to make laws and send them to courts stacked with religionists, autocrats, white nationalists, and enablers of patriarchy. Trumpism is radicalizing me. It’s something we must vote against, march against, and speak out against.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?