Three Dangerously Blind Mice

Rottenecards_3711530_xd6br5b52tSpice is nice but Incest is Best’.

If they are going to do this rather sick and nasty act, I just wish they wore protection.

You know, put a raincoat on, prevent conception. Do not under any circumstance visit the products of their choice to keep it in the family on the rest of us.


 

Next up on the hit parade I have the triplets of ignorance and religious strife. Christian stupidity at its best or worst as the case may be. If ever there was ever a case for Atheism it would be these three.

Kim (the law doesn’t apply to me) Davis, Rowan County, Kentucky Clerk and self-elected martyr to the cause of civil rights denial.

Mike Huckabee, GOP Presidential Candidate without a clue, past Governor of Arkansas and Baptist Minister.dangerousmice

Rafael Edward “Ted” Cruz, GOP Presidential Candidate, Junior Senator from Texas, immigrant, Pentecostal Bible Thumper, Tea Party Rabble Rouser, Government Hater and Shut Down Organizer.

These three on the surface seem to not have much in common other than their God Love and in the case of Huckabee and Cruz their pursuit of the highest office of the land, but in fact they have far more in common than not. Let me explain.

All three believe the Constitution is not the ‘Law of the Land’ and should be ignored when it doesn’t align with their worldview. All three believe a Dominion doctrine that places literal Biblical interpretation above secular law of the land. All three believe their religious ‘rights’ trump your and my legal and civil rights, every single time and without recourse. Were it within their power we would all be living under a Christian Taliban, believe me it would look very much like the most conservative Middle Eastern country under Muslim Theocratic rule, democracy would be thrown to the curb along with Civil Rights.

All three believe the following based on their version of Biblical Law:

  • Women should not have access to Reproductive Healthcare or Abortion, Constitution be damned
  • Marriage is between a Man and Women only, Constitution be damned
  • Keep Christian God in the Public Sphere, Constitution be damned

As to that third troublesome bullet, they also believe this nation was founded by Christians was designed to be a Christian Nation for Christians. They are clearly without a foundation in history. Ignorance can be corrected with education however, one must be willing to learn, these three are without a willingness to learn, clearly. These buffoons are ignorance personified, their desperate need for attention at any cost, certainly at the cost of other peoples civil rights is frightening.

All three are now or have been in the past elected officials. Think about that; give that a moment to sink in. These are elected officials who would refuse to grant civil rights to you or I simply based on our gender, our sexual orientation, or religious affiliation or lack thereof. These elected officials would refuse you or I access to health care, this is especially true if you are a woman in need of reproductive healthcare up to and including abortion even to save your life. While you may not agree with abortion, it is the Law of the Land that I have access to it, that it is my choice and that it is none of your damn business.

Mike has real issues with women and their reproductive healthcare.

Rafael Cruz and Reverend Huckabee both believe women shouldn’t be paid equally, do not have the right to demand equality in the workplace. Both believe women have a place in society, at home bearing and raising babies. This of course flies in the face of the fact Rafael’s wife worked quite lucratively for Goldman Sachs, I suppose it only applies when it is the rest of us.

Just in case we need any further reminder of the absolute and utter ignorance of the good Reverend Huckabee, this Presidential Candidate believes that Dred Scott remains the Law of the Land. Yes, he truly believes this, forgetting amendments 13-15 which fully undid that ugly piece of our judicial history. But you know, why learn about the Constitution when it doesn’t suit you, kinda like picking and choosing which parts of the Bible you will apply; right?

While Kim Davis is making $80K being a twat and not doing her job. This weekend she will be receiving the “Cost of Discipleship” Award at the Values Voters Summit, sponsored by the Family Research Council. Yes, them also known as FRC and listed as a Hate Group by the ACLU for their frequent attacks on the LGBTQ community (oh big shock there) and others this is the primary sponsor of the Value Voters Summit. This is where Rafael and Mike, along with all the other clowns from the GOP the clown car will gather this weekend to see Kim receive her award for standing for her principles to collect her government check while denying the Civil Rights of the citizens of Rowan County.

While I could likely write thousands of more words about these three throwbacks to another time, I will stop here with the simple comment; not only do I wish their parents had worn protection, barring this I wish the education they disdain had sunk in and truly I wish they had not bred either. It is truly unfortunate they are training up another generation of hate filled, biased, ignorant bigots.

A little of what Rafael thinks the problem is.

Rome burns. These pseudo Christians hold the lighter and fiddle while the cinders smolder. We are doomed if we don’t open the floodgates and drown them all soon.

http://presidential-candidates.insidegov.com/compare/52-62/Mike-Huckabee-vs-Ted-Cruz

http://www.valuesvotersummit.org/schedule

Don’t Be An Asshole

OpEdI have been thinking a great deal, about what is wrong with the world, specifically what is wrong with these United States of America. The list grows longer every single day, doesn’t it? Really, look around you and there simply aren’t enough minutes in the day to list everything that is wrong, just here, just in this nation so it is utterly impossible to look across the globe and start listing out what is wrong in the world. The strange thing is, when you start unraveling what is wrong with the world much of what unwinds ends up on a spool right here, right back in this little tiny country we call ‘USA’. Strange how that works, isn’t it?

We are rich, even in natural resources we are rich. Yet, it seems we are not rich enough we want more, we want what everyone else has too. We will murder and pillage, we will send our young to die just so we can steal what others have. Our leaders have absolutely no problem lying to us, time and again, sending us to war for the sole purpose of stealing what others have. It seems we never have enough.

We are mostly healthy, though we don’t care for our health very well. Yet, we want everyone to be less healthy than us and to pay more for their health than we do. Damn them if they pay less, we will find something wrong, we will apply the dreaded ‘Socialism’ word to their system and turn up our noses at their successful solutions. We are more than happy when we see plagues in other poor nations; this pleases us to no end. We can feel greater, pointing our fingers and sending some advice along with our condolences. We will spend millions keeping our own people sick, poor and without access to healthcare, medicine and proper nutrition. I suppose I must revise my original statement, we are truthfully a sick nation.

We are a nation of immigrants; our history is one of immigration, waves of immigration from all over the world, both voluntary and involuntary. Our entire history is steeped in bloody battles Murrieta-Immigration-Proetestof migration, whether willing or unwilling each surge of new feet on the ground in this land brought with them culture, language, knowledge and strength. Each wave brought new blood, new worldviews, new cultural norms to merge into what was already here. Each new surge also brought a new focus of hatred, though some have stayed with us while others over time have assimilated into the ‘White’ standard of ‘like us’ and thus ‘good’.

We are a nation that prides ourselves on our decency, our democracy, our record of civil rights, our education system, our freedom and even our diversity. Now there is a list that should make you throw up in your mouth just a little bit. As a nation we have spawned more hate groups and homegrown terrorists than I can count with both hands and feet, we have government representatives working hard every day to strip from our citizens the right to vote, agencies infringing on the freedoms of citizens to live without fear and practice the faith. Our education systems are failing, from pre-K straight through our university, which only the wealthy can afford. Civil Rights, I am surprised we know what these are anymore, with our prisons full and private industries taking them over for profit and diversity is something we talk about, not something we practice.

I am glossing over the deep sickness in this nation. We have a cancer, one that is grown and is frankly malignant. The GOP presidential candidates are the embodiment of what is wrong with this nation. They are not an embarrassment; they are an indictment of us all. That we allowed any of them to survive, let alone thrive, rising to the top condemns us all.

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Here is my cure, don’t be an asshole.

It is that simple and starts with each of us.

Don’t be an asshole and don’t let your friends or neighbors be assholes. Don’t turn away, don’t stay silent, start speaking up and demanding better.

When you see someone acting like an asshole in the store, say something. If you don’t, you are contributing to the problem.

When your city council plans on doing something that will destroy green spaces, go to the meeting, speak up. If you don’t you are contributing to the problem.

When your school board is going to do something that will harm the children of your community, even if you don’t have children, speak up. If you don’t you are contributing to the problem.

When you state representative says something that is insulting, racist, sexist or otherwise egregious; speak up don’t let him / her get away with it. If you don’t you are contributing to the problem.

The list goes on, whether it is local or not, don’t be an asshole. Say something. Engage in the community. The only way we change the course of the nation is we become active members of the community large and small. The only way we stop the crazy is if we demand better of ourselves and those around us.

So that is my new motto, even when it is hard to do otherwise, DON’T BE AN ASSHOLE. Even when circumstances may call for it, I am going to try hard to not be an asshole.Kickm

This does not mean you can’t meet idiocy and ignorance head-on. It doesn’t mean you can’t meet prejudice, foolishness and stupidity with intellectual force, which in some cases may appear to be assholishness. All it means, this ‘don’t be an asshole’ movement I am attempting to start, is don’t add to the terrible in the world by being one without warrant or cause.

I hope you will join me, maybe if enough of us decide to speak up when we see bad and work to do good, maybe we can turn this descent into utter chaos around.

Juxtaposition Shots Fired

OpEdThe State of Texas informed me a few days ago one of my shooters was re-entering the Parole system, no he hasn’t been granted parole he is simply being considered. I don’t know how I feel about this, I am processing my reaction. I know how people think I should feel, hell I know how I think I should feel, but I have changed, my heart is heavy as I consider my response.

Then, a few days ago, I read this, by Jeff Winbush who I greatly admire. I realized while reading this piece about the mistrial of Randall Kerrick, just how truly great the chasm sometimes is.

When I was carjacked, shot three times and left in the street for dead I was scared. There is no other way to describe my feelings, I was afraid. I did not know how I was going to survive what could have been fatal wounds. I did the best I could; I staggered to the nearest home late at night and pounded on their front door. The couple was older, they didn’t open the door, they told me to go away. There was nowhere for me to go, I couldn’t go further, I slid down their wall and in tears begged them to call 911. Nothing more, just call 911. Once again, they told me to go away; they didn’t want to be involved. At that point, I was so afraid but I was angry too how could anyone turn his or her backs on another human being in need? I didn’t understand, my only response too what seemed a terrible cruelty, ‘I am not going anywhere, you will have to explain a dead woman on your front porch tomorrow if you don’t call 911 now.’

I sat, waiting to die. I didn’t know if they were going to call. Holding the tourniquet, I had made and wrapped around my neck, feeling my warm blood as it dripped through my fingers, I talked to the universe. The one thing I was not afraid of was the police, I knew if they appeared I was not in danger, I knew if they were called and saw me sitting on the porch of these strangers home their instinct would be to help me, they would not see me as a threat.  I knew, if they rolled up on me they would not do so with guns drawn, screaming for me to get on the ground. I knew if the police were called they would help me, it would be foremost on their mind, to save my life.images (8)

My unwilling hosts must have weighted their options, they made the call. I heard the sirens in the distance and shortly thereafter, the blue lights of police and rescue cars rolled up the street. I was surrounded by men in blue whose first concern was my life and well-being. Could I talk, could I tell them what happened came after. How I got to that house, that porch came as I was laying on the gurney. I told them only part of the truth, not that I had to ask more than once for them to be called, only that I had been shot elsewhere and how far I thought I had walked. I didn’t understand until weeks later why they didn’t want to be involved, why they wanted me to ‘go away’. Even with my intellectual understanding, it would be years before I let go of my fury at their disregard for my life.

This brings me to the juxtaposition of my experience and the mis-trial of Randall Kerrick. If you don’t know who Randall Kerrick is, or why he is on trial I would suggest reading Jeff’s piece that I linked above, or this piece also by Jeff, but in short.

Jonathan Ferrell_zps6diudjvmOn September 14, 2013 Johnathan Ferrell, 24, had a car accident in the middle of the night. He crawled out of his car and made his way to a home where he tried to ask for help. The homeowner, after seeing a disheveled and bloody young black man on her porch immediately calls 911 and asks for assistance. When the police arrive things go from bad to worse, there doesn’t seem to be a point in time where the police attempt to discern if Johnathan is a threat, instead there is simply an assumption he is. First, as he runs toward them, likely because he is injured and needs help there is an attempt to Taser him when the Taser fails to discharge, Randall Kerrick fires his weapon, not once, not twice but ten times. Excessive? Absolutely.

Does anyone but me see the difference in response? I don’t believe it is getting worse, I believe it has always been this way, the difference is we are seeing it more now, hearing about it more now. We are becoming more aware and having to face just how truly unequal our entire system is. The push back on the demand for equality is both fascinating and heartbreaking. The fear that if we acknowledge indeed Black Lives Matter, we somehow are saying other lives do not yet for centuries we have said through our actions Black Lives Matter Less. How can we now demand inclusion in a movement of recognition?

The other day I saw this and thought it a perfect explanation of what is happening to the conversation, yet was saddened it had to be said.

BlackLivesMatter2

The last question is important, why are we having these misunderstandings? Why aren’t we able to reach common ground, accept there is a problem and begin to work toward solutions together? What is it about our national psyche that forces us to demand there be winners and losers, rather than all of us working toward common good. Why do we continue to hate ‘other’?

I do not ask these questions rhetorically; rather I ask them because they deserve answers. I look at the very real difference I as a white woman am treated by the police and the way in which Sandra Bland, a black woman was recently treated by the police leading to her death in custody, these questions demand answers. I consider the ‘arrest’ and death of Walter Scott in South Carolina in comparison to the extraordinary protections taken in the arrest of Dylann Roof, these questions demand answers. I watch the press and many others with voices smooth over the actions of Dylann Roof, calling him a troubled youth, but jumping on the horrific actions of Vester Flanagan as a Racist Hate Crime, I wonder why do we allow these definitions to stand.11951145_476709872503362_4356076426194746518_n

When do we all start to truly question the systems that keep us apart, keep us from building the necessary bridges toward true freedom and real power. When will we realize it is time for us to find common cause, common ground.

I stare at the letter from the State of Texas, I have the right to respond. I have the right to speak to the Parole Board, through a letter, on the phone or in person. I have done so every time one of my shooters has been up for parole. Three years ago, both of them made parole and both of them were back inside within 120 days. My heart has changed a great deal in twenty-three years, my understanding of the world changed too. I don’t know how I feel anymore, I don’t know if I want to demand more of my pound of flesh in retribution for my pain. I don’t know anymore if I am being vengeful or if my heart simply won’t let go.

I do know my experience is a very different one than that of Sandra Bland, Johnathan Ferrell, Walter Scott and the thousands of others. I also know there is something inherently wrong that needs to be corrected.

Intersections of Power

OpEdThursday, 6-August-2015 we celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the Voters Rights Act. One of the cornerstones of Civil Rights in this nation, signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson and reauthorized by President Richard Nixon in 1970, President Ronald Reagan, President Gerald Ford in 1975, President Ronald Reagan 1982, President George H.W. Bush in 1992 and last but not least President George W. Bush in 2006. It is important to note, all re-authorizations were with full support of both houses of Congress. Another important note, all US Presidents to extend the Voters Rights Act were Republicans.

The first of the GOP debates has taken place, sponsored by the infamous Roger Ailes and his propaganda machine Fox. It is important to note, not a single one of the candidates whether at the kiddie table or the Big Show supports the extension of the Voters Rights Act. Not one single one of them supports the right of all members of society to vote. In fact, those who are in a position to do so, or have been in the past have actively sought to restrict voter access through any means possible including; Voter ID laws, voter roll purges, early closing of polling places and other actions that would restrict voter access. Interesting isn’t it, though the laws have been coming into play for years, they didn’t reach the stridency or full on war against the ‘other’ until the election of this President, who represented everything they feared and hated, specifically the ceding of power to ‘other’.

The loss of White Male Power, had finally come to pass in a big damned way with the election of Barack Obama. It couldn’t be avoided any longer, it was in their face and up their nose; White Men no longer could rely on the ignorance of the citizen to keep them in power, there was a change in the air and something had to be done and by any means necessary. The first thing was Congressional action, without the consent of Congress this President was going to have a hard Presidency and the GOP had met and agreed, they would oppose this President at every turn.

To understand where we are as a nation, why it feels worse than ever before in our lifetime it is important to look at historical context. This is not the first time the backlash of the White Male tumblr_mdcctdnb471r4fn52o1_500Power Structure has risen up to retrieve authority and supremacy in this nation. In fact, it is fairly easy to trace the roots of racism, defined by institutional structures including Economic, Educational, Opportunity and even movement. Look at the historical intersections and how those in power created the great divide between people who should be banded together rather than fighting each other.

  • Until 1676, there were both African and European ‘slaves’ in the New World. Though the European ‘slaves’ were indentured for a set period they were treated no better than African slaves and frequently never lived to see their freedom. The Bacon Rebellion of 1676 saw the burning of Jamestown, Virginia and with it a new thinking by the ‘ruling’ class regarding their servants / slaves. New laws were created to separate the poor whites, whether indentured servants or free whites from the African whether Freeman or slave to prevent them from forming alliance in the future. These laws created the three (3) tier class system with the African at the bottom, the landowner at the top and all other White Men in the middle. This is considered, by many scholars, the beginning of institutional racism, along with the rule of law called Partus Sequitur Ventrem which means status followed the mother rather than the father, a distinct change to previous British common law.
  • For one hundred and eighty nine years (189) things went along swimmingly for slaveholders, the ‘Masters’ of all they surveyed and those who benefited from the status quo without recognizing their benefits. With the end of the Civil War the South entered into the period of Reconstruction, it wasn’t long from 1865 to 1877. This period saw the passage of the 13th, 14thand 15th Amendments which Abolished Slavery, Granted Black Men the Right to Vote and Prohibited the Federal and State governments from denying a citizen the right to vote based on their Color, Race or previous condition of servitude.
19th century illustration via New York Public Library Digital Collection

19th century illustration via New York Public Library Digital Collection

  • The period of Reconstruction was short-lived; the loss of power by those who previously held all the power was not to be tolerated. Reconstruction led to backlash including the first KKK, the White League and Red Shirts, the first true home-grown terrorists, intent on preserving White Supremacy at all costs including violence against any they considered race traitors or those they considered uppity, their previous slaves. The true backlash though was the institution of the Black Codes and Jim Crow Laws throughout the South, including laws to disenfranchise the new Black voter from exercising their right to vote; Poll Taxes, Literacy Tests, Comprehension Tests, Residency and Record Keeping requirements (sound familiar?). While these laws disenfranchised poor whites as well, grandfather clauses allowed them to remain on the rolls, keeping those who should have found common cause apart once again.

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  • The Jim Crow period ushered in a new age of poverty and peonage. The Black Codes created a free labor force, empowering the police to arrest Black Men and Women for the slightest infraction, imprisoning them for long periods to forced labor for ‘loitering’ or ‘vagrancy’. For one hundred years, until 1964 and the passing of the Civil Rights Act, the Black family in America was segregated from active participation in American Life.
  • It was in 1954 though, with the SCOTUS decision of Brown vs. Board of Education the US saw the next rise of official terrorism and White Supremacy with the institution of the Citizens Councils aka The White Citizens Councils, across the southern states. Many state legislators, mayors and other influential White citizens were members of the Citizen Council, which met openly and whose entire agenda was the ongoing disenfranchisement and segregation of the American Black. Though usually their tactics were economic intimidation, they were not above violence when it suited them. During the last half of the 1950’s the Council produced children’s school books claiming heaven was segregated. They also opened and supported private segregated schools, some of which are still in operation today.

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These things have run in waves, fear and fear mongering is the red meat thrown out into the yard by those who know exactly how to keep the populace in line, keep them filled with hate of ‘other’. Now we have a more sophisticated model, the 24 hour news cycle but the message remains the same, hate those who are ‘not like you’, fear those who are ‘not like you’.

Do you see the pattern emerging? The prison industrial complex, the militarized police force, the systematic killing of Black men and women on the streets of every city in this nation without repercussion. Do you see a pattern emerge, when there is even a slight power shift and the election of Barack Obama was certainly that, those who define their supremacy based on race have risen up again through organized terrorism, the Tea Party is one example, another is the rise in membership of White Power / Segregationist groups such as Council of Conservative Citizens.

“I want my country back!”

The cry of those who feel the loss of power. We must ask where do they want to take us back too, from whom do they want it back from? The structures of institutional racism have been well established for centuries, each time we begin to break them those with the most power and the most to lose tighten their hold, we let it happen by not rising up and fighting back hard enough. By not understanding our own history and seeing the emerging patterns.

I don’t want my country back; I want my country to progress, to move forward. That is what I want.


Next, inter-sectional and women in the public domain.

All media licensed under Fair Use via Google or Wikimedia.

I Am

I AM.

Such simple and stark words, I AM. So often we are cautioned to remove ‘I’ from our thinking, from our language, from our definitions of self even. Yet how do we speak to who we are what we are without ‘I AM’. The truth is, until we define who we are as individuals, what we stand for, what we believe it is difficult to move through the world in a meaningful way. We can move like zombies, brainless, dumb to the world around us; but to what purpose? How do we serve even ourselves if we have no ‘self’, no ‘I AM’.

I AM.

Through life’s tumbles and stumbles I believe there is a distinct possibility I know 85% of the conundrum of ‘I AM’. We all ask this question, of who we are and what we are. It is a question we start asking at an early age and continue to ask throughout most of our life. Many of us change our ‘I AM’, sometimes through our life experience and sometimes simply as we search for what fits us best. My ‘I AM’ is a combination of everything, how I was born, what was done to me, what I have done and the choices I have made along the way.

This is my ‘I AM’.

I am human, first and maybe most importantly. No better, no different from any other human I run across in my daily life. What separates me from other humans is nothing but the surface stuff but certainly not our shared humanity.

I am a woman, always. This more than many other things defines me, defines my thinking and how I move through the world.  Vintage_photo_nude_woman_1

I am White of mostly Southern European extraction, though according to the DNA testing we had done some time ago there is a bit of other things thrown in there. It is my understanding some of my heritage is rooted in the Southern European Romany, however this is family lore only.

I am a feminist, not a man-hater but instead a believer in women and their innate power, strength, ability and capability.

I am a political progressive. Not a Democrat, not a Liberal but instead an Independent Progressive. I make no bones or apologies about my leanings; there are certainly some Socialist elements to my political stances. There are components in my thinking that lean outward, toward social good rather than inward toward personal enrichment (Capitalism). My tendency toward compassion, toward helping those of less fortune than I is ingrained a part of my core being, not learned but rather a ‘born this way’ feature of my personality.

I am a person of great spiritual faith and depth. I believe there is something greater than me; I simply do not believe that thing is an Old White Man on a Cloud in the Sky. I am not Christian; I am angry-godwithout a religious affiliation. I was raised in a mixed Christian household, depending on whom you asked, we were Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian or other. I have read the Bible, cover to cover more than once. I have read other holy books, thinking there must be a reason people are willing to kill and die for their ‘God’, their faith or their religion. The one thing I have come away with, there is nothing religion can offer me, not one damned thing man can offer me through religion.

I am pro-life. Yes, this is a true statement but it might confuse you. I am a staunch supporter of women’s absolute right to decide whether to end a pregnancy. This is true whether it is the morning after, early in the pregnancy or late in the pregnancy due to unforeseen and tragic circumstances. My stance goes much deeper. I am pro-life, I support any program that enriches, encourages and enables the lives of human beings already born, already living on this earth, we share. I believe strongly we should work to reduce abortion through making contraception readily accessible to all women, make childcare programs available, make sex education appropriate, factual and early enough to count. I believe we value life by ensuring healthcare for all, encouraging education and providing it to all members of society equally. We value life by removing weapons from our streets, making it more difficult to purchase and maintain arsenals, dismantling Stand Your Ground Laws and the Castle Doctrine in our states and shutting down the internet sellers of bullets by the thousands. I believe we value life by raising the minimum wage thus providing at least a ‘living wage’ for families with born children. We value life by insuring our elderly are cared for and their retirement funds are paid through Social Security. We value life by ending the Death Penalty. This is the short list, this is what makes me Pro-Life, anything less is anti-life.

I am a humanist. Yes, I think this is the best description of me. I believe in Human Rights first. I believe it is impossible for us to achieve a civil society without Human Rights taking a step forward. For far too long we have allowed a small cadre of selfish men to march this nation slowly into perdition. We have allowed the Human Rights of many of our citizens be trampled under the heels of kochbrotherthose who simply wished power and riches at the expense of all of us. We were comfortable with the social hierarchy as long as we weren’t on the bottom, so long as we could stand on the shoulder of someone else and point to their disadvantage we were fine thinking maybe we weren’t so bad off. The truth is, we are all the same, the only thing that separates us is the color of our American Express, the size of our bank accounts.

I am a person with a vast capacity too love and a desire to love and be loved. This is perhaps one of my greatest strengths and greatest weakness’. This desire to see the best in people, to believe others want what is best for me allows me to see the world through rose-colored glasses and never question motives, to retain a level of naivety despite my experiences and history; this desire and capacity to love allows me to retain an innocence, but it also breaks my heart.

For all my faults, for all my failures, for all that I am still seeking about myself there are some things I am certain of, these are some of them and oddly they haven’t changed in forty years. I have grown in my understanding, but my core values haven’t changed since I was seventeen years old.

Combinination

Three Legged Stool

3leggedstoolSome would have us all believe we are in a ‘post racial society’, those who say this with a straight face are either delusional or simpletons. Others would have us believe women have achieved equality or something closely resembling it, I say those who say this, ‘you are beyond half bent over and should return to whence you came, 1890 perhaps’. I would like to note, if the person uttering this nonsense are of my gender, they are likely being paid well for the garbage dripping from their lips. What keeps us in line is the distinct and bright line of money, or the lack thereof. Let us call it what it is, poverty; we live in a society where money buys your way through life, if you ain’t got it you ain’t going to get it. Those born with it are working hard to keep it and keep it out of the hands of others.

It is a three-legged stool, an ugly and nasty stool. One we have been sitting on and pondering our navels from for far too long.

One from which we watch and shrug our shoulders as our African-American brothers and sisters die, as they are shot in the streets, as they are beaten in jail cells, as their children die of preventable disease for lack of access to health care. One from which we watch our schools crumble and our children fail even basic educational skills. One from which we watch as women/mothers struggle to make ends meet, while the fathers of their children languish in corporate prisons for the crime of trying to pay the rent. One from which we refuse to acknowledge there is a problem and it is called institutional racism, we are a part of it. We inherited it, we continue it, we benefit from it if we are White.

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One from which we watch and shrug our shoulders as our sisters are raped and beaten, we make excuses for their rapists rather than protect our young women in the military and on college campuses. One from which we watch as women who once had the right to agency to choose to protect their reproductive health through birth control and yes, even the right to choose abortion if necessary no longer have this agency, as men strip them of their adulthood of their rights over their own bodies and push them further back into poverty and dependency. We watch as women are paid less than men in every field of endeavor and our leaders at every level of government refuse to acknowledge the inequity. We watch as women struggle to gain parity and representation without success.

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We watch and shrug, refusing to acknowledge the widening gap between those who have and those who have not. We uphold the wealthy as heroes to be propped up, while we lose more of our own small value in the market. We watch the gap widen every year without demanding changes to the very systems of inequity that created the abyss we are unable to cross, no matter how many jobs we hold or how many hours we work. We watch as our neighbor loses their home, shrug and are grateful it isn’t us that lost our job to outsourcing or the latest free market con. We shrug as our neighbor drives away never drawing the line to it could be us next time given our abysmal lack of compassion last time we voted. We blame everything without ever considering the agenda of the person or group who has put forth the illogical Meme of the week for why we are sinking in to the chaos of poverty, why our neighborhood is losing market value, why the middle-class is shrinking, why we don’t have any damn money.

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We are a nascent society, with the emergence of social media and our use of cell phones and other means of communication there is at least one thing changing and rapidly. Can you guess? We are beginning to talk, we aren’t saying much yet but we are beginning to talk. We are beginning to look at each other and see humanity rather than enemy. We are beginning to see violence against another person, not like us, and challenge the violence rather than challenge those who protest the violence. We are beginning to look across the road and at a burning church and pick up a bucket full of water.

It isn’t all of us, not yet but some of us are beginning to say, ‘no more’. Some of us are beginning to challenge racism, challenge historical structures and challenge symbols with the truth. It isn’t all of us, but it is more of us, more of us are asking the question, “What can I do? How can I help?” It matters, that we ask, that we see and that we are offended and aren’t afraid to offend those who sit and shrug.

It isn’t all of us but some of us are beginning to challenge women’s ‘proper place’ and why we are taking steps backward rather than forward, how we are losing ground. It isn’t all of us, but some of us are asking the questions, stepping forward fearlessly with our stories and demanding to be heard. It isn’t enough of us yet, but some of us are standing up and saying we will be heard, we must

a demonstrator after the Eric Garner Grand Jury announcement Mark Makela/Getty Images

a demonstrator after the Eric Garner Grand Jury announcement
Mark Makela/Getty Images

be heard, we must be represented in State Houses, in Board Rooms, in Congress. Women cannot afford to sit back, to lose the rights our mothers and grandmothers laid down their bodies, their reputations and even their lives to gain for us. Yet, we are bleeding them out again in back alleys; it isn’t all of us but some of us are beginning to stand up and take up the fight for our agency.

We are beginning to recognize we are losing ground, all of us. We are losing our voice, the voice we each have the right to express through our vote. Money has stolen our voice, through a bought and paid for SCOTUS and Congress we have seen our vote being slowly eroded. Through Voter ID Laws, through Super Pacs, through other egregious acts by our acting leadership we have handed over our voice. Now, some of us have recognized how bad it is and we are beginning to fight back.

Poverty comes in many ways, as a nation our worst form of poverty is that of spirit. We have suffered a terrible loss of spirit, of national soul. We have sold ourselves for a dream, to slick talkers with the promise that if we allowed those at the top to lift themselves without limitations or consequence for bad acts, we would somehow be lifted with them. It was a lie, it was always a lie and we were warned but were blinded by the con of free money. Now we are paying for our desire for something for nothing.

I can only say, if you haven’t already WAKE THE FUCK UP!

Spanish Fly

witches chair 2We are a people who fail to consider consequences just as we fail to consider the linear notes of our history. It seems it is impossible for some of us too reason, for us to see where we have been and acknowledge the whys and wherefores of how we arrived at where we are today. We only see the right this minute and think somehow this is all there is, this bubble of bullshit somehow represents the entirety of our social make-up, there is nothing else, we got to this moment in time without all of the transcendent moments before this too pile upon.

Really? Are we really, as a people this stupid, this blind? Can this truly be possible?

I swore I was not going to discuss the issue of Bill Cosby and his heinous acts against women and I am not. What I am going to talk about is why so many, men and women alike came to his defense. We watched Bill Cosby and Larry King and we laughed right along with them, a nation thought their discussion of drugging women was funny.

Why did so many turn their backs as women came forward to accuse Cliff Huxtable (Bill Cosby) of being a sexual predator? Because we accept his actions, it is simple. Why so many, shrugged their shoulders and thought to themselves even when not thinking it aloud, ‘boys will be boys and those women were probably asking for it’.

I said I wouldn’t discuss Bill Cosby, I won’t. What I will discuss, is why anyone would think to defend him or his sexual molestation and rape of twenty or more women. Why anyone would think it was okay for Bill Cosby to drug young women so he could sexually molest and rape them. I know why, but I wonder if most understand how far back our disdain for women goes.

 If within the city a man comes upon a maiden who is betrothed, and has relations with her, you shall bring them both out of the gate of the city and there stone them to death: the girl because she did not cry out for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbors wife.

Deuteronomy 22:23-24

There is of course more, but this is a good place to start with the very framework of those who lay the foundation of a nation in Biblical literalism. Starting with the Pilgrims and moving to the Puritans, not a single one of those who first came to these shores believed women were of equal value to men, in fact most believed they were of far less value.  In all cases, women could not own property, not even their own children unless they were widowed and never remarried. Even within the context of those much vaunted and hallowed documents of Independence and Democracy were women considered, only men are given a voice; not women and just to be clear, only White Men.

Witches and Puritans

Witches and Puritans

When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. And if the slave girl’s owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment.

Exodus 21:7-11

We are without moral ground, it is power and control and it is right there in the very book so many within this nation claim as their guiding light, their shining beacon. How could we not ignore rape, ignore or worse still, blame the victims of rape in favor of the rapist. How could we not look at the victim of rape and ask these horrible questions:

6371058_G“What were you wearing?”

“How many sexual partners have you had?”

“What did you do to entice your rapist?”

“How much did you have to drink?”

“Why were you at that restaurant, bar, party?”

Of course there is any number of other questions the victim is asked, making them party to their own violation. Making them at fault for their rape, not a victim of violence at all, rather a willing participant and someone to be victimized, ostracized and humiliated further by society, the criminal justice system and too often family and friends.

It is estimated there are 400,000 untested rape kits sitting in evidence rooms across the nation. Rape victims, waiting for justice, who have submitted to invasive examinations of their bodies so Untested-Rape-Kits-1000x600police can collect DNA evidence, in most cases they do nothing with. The decision to test those kits, at a cost of $500-$1,500, is usually left to the investigating officer. The officer or the District Attorney, who too often are making the decision the case is ‘too hard to prove’, or worse have decided the rape didn’t happen, who are all too often searching for consent, searching for a reason not to prosecute and thus serving the rapist.

How did we get here? We have always been here, this is what we have always been. This is not new, we have not reached some new sociopathic low. The difference is women have started to speak out, started to say enough and no more. The difference is social media and the ability to connect with other victims, to compare stories and begin to understand the true nature of rape, the damage rape does to us, not just the initial damage to our bodies but the long-term horror the rape victim suffers.

In the past rape was a silent crime, the victim was silent and thus after the fact consented. Perhaps, if they were fortunate they had family or friends who were supportive and loving, this wasn’t always the case though. There was a reason rape victims’ names were masked from the public, it was to protect them from being humiliated and ostracized by the community, to prevent the community from dragging them to the gates and stoning them.

images‘What were you wearing?’

Blue jeans, a tee shirt and tennis shoes; I was eleven years old. I was silent for far more than twenty years because my rape humiliated my mother.

Recent Stories: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2015/07/16/untested-rape-kits-evidence-across-usa/29902199/

Private Programs to end the backlog: http://www.endthebacklog.org/backlog/what-backlog

Grace and Truth

ORIG_15003_022_use_1Language has always been powerful, words from a young age the panacea for skinned knees or the bludgeon worse than leather belts or closed fists. We see the world through words, soft words, hard words, correct words and changed words. The words of a world that defines us and confines us, a world that wishes us to be different than we are or more accepting of our position within it. Our world expands or contracts based upon how we are defined, how we define ourselves within the narrow confines of a language that may not be our own, yet is the only one we know.

Over time, words change and with those changes, our view of the world may be moved. The things we once believed, thought were written in concrete become mud and we are left wondering if all our preconceived notions of the world must be reexamined in light of our new understanding. These changes of course, this reexamination requires first a heart and mind willing to consider new ideas. It also requires the intellect to see through the barriers of history and how society uses language and symbols to create new meanings, divisions and sometimes-even reconciliation.

Occasionally, we are thrown out of our comfort zones by language. Other times we co-op language to make others uncomfortable, or perhaps simply to force a change in perception. We tend to combine language and symbols, making connections with those we might otherwise have nothing in common with or who we might otherwise choose never to associate with. The only thing drawing us together, our common language and adherence to the symbols we claim as defining us as a group, as our stake in heritage and pride, whether national or otherwise.

Whether these symbols and the language surrounding them are flags, guns, uniforms, a badge or some other mark of distinction; they set us apart. In many cases what once were used to define boundaries and defy a world finally are being exposed for the symbols of ignorance, subjugation and violence they always were, without the whitewashed language that has surrounded them for fifty plus years. The language, the words to describe this symbol of horror were many, most were lies yet we all turned away allowing the lies to stand until finally they could stand under the glare of historical truth no more.

Battle Flag of the Confederacy

Battle Flag of the Confederacy

Of course, these truths were always there, always right before our eyes we simply allowed the lies to stand. We, as a nation allowed a small minority to change the truth, to rewrite history and fly their symbols of hate, bigotry, fear and slavery over public buildings and within state flags without saying a single word to expose the truth. We, the people of this nation turned away from the truth without a word, we shook our heads and allowed a lie to stand for nearly sixty years even knowing the insidious nature of the lie, we allowed it to stand to infect another generation and become accepted as a truth. That is the nature of language, of words and of allowing the defeated to rewrite history.

I grieve at our willingness to continue the lie generation to generation. The language we use to hide the truth of our terrible history and its continued impact today. I am dismayed at the hubris of so many who believe they can rewrite our terrible history, deny its truth and the ongoing truth of racism, hate, intolerance this nation continues to support. Words, language how we use them tend to ultimately define us, ultimately show who we are. This is true even when we attempt to change the meaning of things, the meaning of symbols and the words surrounding them.

We have watched this play out over the past weeks with the Confederate Battle Flag. We have watched the defenders using language of “Heritage not Hate” and “States Rights”. We have seen the Memes slide across social media about the secession of the southern states not being about protecting their right to own human beings. Those of us who understand the truth of that flag, the history of that flag tried to educate, tried to refute these lies and some of us lost friends. Many who revered the Confederate Battle Flag they didn’t know this wasn’t anything more than a Battle Flag, they didn’t know it was only unfurled in 1961 in protest of Civil Rights. They didn’t know the true history that this battle flag was unfurled in protest of the undoing of Jim Crow laws in the South, of not being able to subjugate, abuse and lynch the former slaves their ancestors had turned traitor to keep enslaved.

I mourn this nation, we buy pabulum fed to us without challenge and despite the evidence to the contrary allow lies to stand as truth.

Grace, something we need heaped upon us. The President spoke of Grace when he sent State Sen. Clementa Pinckney home with a powerful eulogy. On the floor of the South Carolina House as they debated the removal of the Battle Flag, this was the most compelling fifteen minutes I heard, I hope you will listen.

Grace, we need it. We need to find the language to heal this nation. We need to find the words to lift ourselves up from the mire of the lies we have told ourselves. We need to start pulling the threads of truth from the great ball of bullshit we have rolled up and allowed to stand in our proverbial town square as truth. We must knock down the memorials to traitors and begin to lift up the true heroes of our nation, begin to tell the true stories of our nation, begin to learn from them and progress toward a future that lifts all of us up.

Grace, we have little of it right now though what we do have comes far too often from those with the least reason to show it, to give it. It is time we begin to open the doors and windows and give it back, starting with an acknowledgement of truth.

Be Damned

The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church sits at 110 Calhoun St. in Charleston, S.C.

The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church sits at 110 Calhoun St. in Charleston, S.C.

I am incapable of words to express my sorrow or my fury. I am at a loss where to begin to express my deep empathy for the families of those who were lost, the survivors, all victims of a terrible hate crime, a horrifying act of violence. I find I am at a loss at how to express my compassion for those left behind to survive the terrible repercussions of violence.

Where do you even begin?

Do we start with the grief that we have not risen from the past but instead nurture hate so closely it drives some among us to walk into places of worship and indiscriminately murder innocent people. How do we battle this cultural nightmare, this disease that continues to feast on heart, decimate soul and destroy future?

We did this, yes when I say we I am specific in my calling out. We, White Folks, those of us with the privilege of being born with skin the color of moonlight. Those of us who check the box, ‘Caucasian’,  or ‘White’ on the Census and all the other forms through our lives, we did this. It is ours, we own it and we have owned it from the first slave sold in this nation. From the Three-fifths Compromise to Dredd Scott, from Jim Crow to Separate but Equal and everything before, after and in between. Every step along the way, White People in power worked to keep those they considered ‘different’ and ‘less than’ powerless. Through economic, educational and justice policies, we have divided this nation’s people into cultural classes that not coincidently aligned along racial-color lines, keeping Black, Brown, White in their separate and unequal lanes.

Now, in this century, in this decade and after the election of the first Black President the hate and fear, the true ugliness of racism has risen like a phoenix from the ashes of political correctness and the result has been truly terrible to witness. Fear and fury rose up from the White community, from the dirt floor of the poorest house in the Appalachians to the polished marble floors of Congress, White Men rose up in protest at the Black Man in the White House. It was terrible to see, but we turned away. We shrugged our shoulders and said, ‘these are not the norm, these are the minority’. We did nothing, said nothing, demanded nothing be changed nothing be confronted.

Worse than the rising up has been our acceptance of this ‘new normal’. We see it, we witness the horror of violence, we turn away. We justify our apathy with, ‘but it isn’t me, I am not a racist’. We11164745_892454580813961_4783942740135091392_n watch in horror as another act of violence is carried out, another unarmed black man, woman or child is beaten or killed by police or civilians but we do nothing except perhaps wring our hands and pretend we don’t understand why. We listen to the nuanced language, the media spin trying to justify the horror show of murderous rampages by white thugs, whether cops or civilians, against those they deem unworthy of life, liberty, freedom and the pursuit of happiness in the land their ancestors helped to build in chains. We pretend we don’t see it, we forget within the next news cycle.

The state of South Carolina flies the Confederate flag, a symbol of all that is wrong, a symbol of traitors who fought to maintain the status quo of enslaving human beings. The Sons of the Confederacy can whitewash and bullshit all they like, can cry their tears of states’ rights, liberty and freedom as the driving factors of their ancestor’s reasons for secession from the lawful government and their own reason for continuing to worship the Stars & Bars. We should pull that scab off the wound that was the Civil War, demand the history books be revised to tell the truth and call those who would say otherwise damned liars. The war of secession was fought  to keep human beings enslaved and preserve a way of life for wealthy White men and women who did not wish to give up their privilege. The majority who died fighting in that war were poor, ignorant and fearful, they were convinced if the slaves were freed they would be displaced, their women would be raped and their jobs taken. The language of the traitors was eerily similar to those of the Tea Party today, hauntingly analogous to many of those who would be President.

“Government Overreach”

10407515_10203057948409525_2425821899359663210_n“Preservation of Constitutional Values”

“Preserving Liberty and Freedom”

Yes, familiar rhetoric isn’t it. The hubris of those who would preserve a way of life built upon the blood and misery of others is exceeded only by the ignorance necessary to believe the lies. The amount of money spent to divide us, keep us separate, maintain the horror of racism and ignorance exceeds the budgets of some nations, yet we allow it to continue without rising up. We, owe ourselves better than this, better than more blood, more hate, more division based on ignorance. We must demand a change, an accounting; we must say no more.

We, each of us with the privilege of our Whiteness intact must stand up and demand the same privilege for those not born with skin the color of moonlight. We must demand history books tell the truth of America, of slavery, of Jim Crow, of enslavement through poverty, miseducation, unequal justice and incarceration; we must demand an accounting and we must apologize for our own ignorance and blind acceptance of the lies we have told to preserve our own power. We must rise up and against hate and hate groups, we must stop turning away and instead call them what they are, Domestic Terrorists. We must demand an accounting of media that uses their power to criminalize Black victims while whitewashing even celebrating White murderers. We must begin to call things and people what they are, we must hold accountable those who refuse to do so.

We must stop giving a pass to any person who refuses to stand up and call out Hate Crimes and Racism for what they are. We must hold those who would lead to the highest standard and demand they call the nation towards healing, towards justice, towards equality and fairness. Those who will not stand up and call racism what it is, who will not call out their followers for their racist remarks and acts, they do not deserve leadership roles, certainly don’t deserve to be President.

Dead at the hands of a terrorist, racist thug.

Dead at the hands of a terrorist, racist thug.

We all need to start demanding better, doing better, teaching our children better and demanding of our leaders better than they are today. For the lives that have been lost, we need to give them names and bear witness to their tragedy. For those who took their lives, we need to give them no name but murderer, thug, terrorist we need to give them no excuse for their act but the one they gave, racism and hate.

Cynthia Hurd, 54

Depayne Middleton Doctor, 49 Myra Thompson, 59
Clementa Pinckney, 41 Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45 Susie Jackson, 87
Ethel Lee Lance, 70 Daniel L. Simmons Sr., 74

Tywanza Sanders, 26

Citizens and Zealots, Wherefore

OpEdO Patriots and Christians, wherefore art thou claiming the name Patriot? If you will not defend others with the same vigor you defend your own, should they then turn away, accept the brutality, or are you instead forsworn.

When other US Citizens are denied their fundamental rights to worship, why are you not shouting from the steps of the Capital in their defense? When other US Citizens are denied employment because of they wear a hijab, why were your voices not lifted in fury. When Mosques are blocked by gun toting thugs in your name, why are you not demanding their terroristic actions be stopped?

The list goes on; the facts add up to one simple idea O Patriots and Christians. You are forsworn in your duty to your fellow Citizen, to the Constitution you claim to love; even to the God you claim to love.

Shall I tell you what brings me to this conclusion? Wherefore I am drawn toward these dark thoughts of my fellow man (and woman), my fellow citizen.

Freedom of Religion Restoration, yes several states in these United States believe it is important they provide the means for individuals within their borders to use religion to act out their fear, biasFFP and bigotry. Standing behind the Bible they can now refuse service to anyone they choose. Of course, this was intended to focus only on those who had the gall to demand entry into the circle of full enfranchisement of citizenship, the LBGT community but in fact these acts allow a Christian to claim their faith demands bigotry against all comers.

To be clear, those who have gleefully passed these acts; pandering to their Christian base have received the lashes they deserve from business especially. They have had to walk the language of their Restoration Bills back, disavowing their original intent. This is what happens when politicians run, without understanding the true history of this nation or the capitalism they profess to love, with a Bible stuck up their ass trying to Restore us to the Christian Nation we never were intended to be.

In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own. It is error alone that needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.

Thomas Jefferson, to Horatio G. Spafford, 1814

O Christians, who are so blinded by your own ignorance and righteous fear you would stand before other houses of worship, gun toting, sign waving and spewing messages of fear and hate. Wherefore art thou in thy ascension to heavenly favor so filled with anger? Where, pray tell is Sharia Law being applied to your daily life, that you must stand before a Mosque in the light of day images (4)and disrespect your fellow citizens, their faith and their places of worship? What gives you the right to show up with guns, signs and a cartoon contest in an attempt to spark another act of violence; then call those peaceful citizens the terrorist? You, yes you are the bad element in this scenario. You are not protecting the US from anything. You are not acting in good faith. You are not acting in accordance with the Bible or the Constitution you claim to love. You are the Thugs you are Christian Terrorists.

In our country are evangelists and zealots of many different political, economic and religious persuasions whose fanatical conviction is that all thought is divinely classified into two kinds – that which is their own and that which is false and dangerous.

Robert H. Jackson, American Communications Assn. v. Douds, 339 US 382, 438; 70 SCt. 674 704 (1950)

O Zealots, yea of Faith and Patriotism, where were you with signs waving and demands for religious freedom, when Samantha Elauf was denied a job at Abercrombie & Fitch for wearing hijab. Where were you when her religious freedom was denied? Did you stand up for her? Did you demand her rights be protected as your own? Or are her rights, as a Muslim woman somehow not as imagesimportant, not as due to her because of the God she worships. Did you know, Zealots and Patriots, her God is the same God you worship, the God of Abram, the God of the Old Testament, the God of David. Did you know, all you zealots you when you pray for the destruction of the other side, you pray to their God.

[5]And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
[6] But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
[7] But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
[8] Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

Jesus, Matthew 6:5-8

angry-godDo you think I rant? I do. I am ranting. SCOTUS did a good thing by sending the Elauf v. Abercrombie & Fitch case back down to the circuit courts for review. The problem though, it doesn’t end there. The real problem is there are still so many in this nation who truly believe they can hide behind the shield of their ‘faith’ their ‘religion’ to do terrible things. Only yesterday North Carolina passed bill that would allow public officials to refuse marriage licenses to anyone they disagree on moral grounds, that is based on their personal religious views. This despite the federal court striking down their anti-gay marriage laws. Now, a public official, sworn to uphold the law and the Constitution decides he/she doesn’t want to issue a license to a couple of different religions, of different races, of same gender based on their ‘sincerely held religious belief’ they are protected.

O Christians, O Zealots, wherefore art thou so ignorant of your own history and the book you stand so firmly upon. Shed the scales, remove the plank; join the rest of us in trying to make this a better world or be forsworn, truly.

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