California is now back in the fight for status as “superior West Coast state.”
Now if we could only fix this sh*t federally.
California is now back in the fight for status as “superior West Coast state.”
Now if we could only fix this sh*t federally.
Topeka, Kansas is now officially the best place in the U.S. to beat your wife. The city council decided to repeal the local law that makes domestic violence a crime there by a vote of 7 to 3. Thanks guys! Their reasoning is not that they hate women, but that it’s just too darn expensive to prosecute the hordes of wife-beaters (and girlfriend-beaters, and various other beaters) out there, and therefore easier to decriminalize domestic violence.
One of the damn funniest legal writers out there, Elie Mystal, has a commendable piece on the Above the Law blog:
The Topeka City Council] wouldn’t have repealed misdemeanor ordinances about robbery. The(y) wouldn’t have decriminalized drugs. They wouldn’t have messed around with funding the prosecution of something that they really cared about.
But women, and the beating thereof? Oh, let’s make a political point about fiscal responsibility with that. They would have seen the problems with headlines claiming Topeka was a drug haven or the storefront robbery capital of the world. But when they contemplated becoming Disneyland for wife-beaters, they were cool with it.(via)
I know a lot of people who think of themselves as “socially liberal, but fiscally conservative,” and here’s an example of of that philosophy failing to the utmost. It’s hard to fathom anyone thinking, “Ehhh, what’s a few bruised ladies in comparison to all that moolah?!” but that’s exactly what the Topeka City Council (elected officials, respected pillars of society) thought when they decriminalized domestic violence.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how disgusted are you? Tell me what you think in the comments.
The Supreme Court heard opening arguments on behalf (and against) up to a million women today to determine the class action status of a Wal-Mart employment discrimination case. Those of us who’ve been following the case know what’s at stake if the court finds in favor of Wal-Mart: Not only would the corporate juggernaut responsible for filling your house with cheap plastic crap be more or less let off the hook for systematized sex discrimination, it would become harder for victims of job bias to secure class-action status, forcing low-wage workers to try their cases individually – virtually ensuring no future employee litigation case ever reaches viability, ever.
Dire, no? First, a brief history of the arguments for and against (more or less) from the magazine Corporate Counsel:
In certifying the class, the lower court said it found that there was significant evidence of centralized corporate-wide practices involving sexual stereotyping and excessive subjectivity in personnel decisions, as well as statistical evidence of gender disparities, and anecdotal evidence of gender bias. The court said it saw a “common pattern” of Wal-Mart’s discriminating against women workers nationwide.
In its brief to the Court, Wal-Mart argues that millions of discretionary personnel decisions on pay and promotions by thousands of individual managers defy any common pattern of treatment.
Let’s entertain Wal-Mart’s counterargument, shall we? From a purely feminist theory perspective, this argument actually holds some water. Why? Because those “millions of discretionary personnel decisions on pay and promotions by thousands of individual managers” were surely not solely influenced by the Long Arm of Corporate America (although surely that played a not-insignificant part), they were also influenced by the sexism that runs rampant through every fiber of society’s fabric.
So instead of suing Wal-Mart*, let’s certify every victim of the existing gender wage gap (read: all women worldwide) as members of a giant class action against the patriarchy. Since millions of discretionary personnel decisions are made every single day by managers who really ARE independent and not affiliated with Wal-Mart, but they’re made to consistently favor men in terms of power, prestige, and money, it’s clear that there is significant evidence of centralized worldwide practices involving sexual stereotyping, gender disparities, and gender bias.
Let’s sue the patriarchy! Who’s with me?
*Actually, not instead of, in addition to. Wal-Mart deserves to get sued, a lot. And so does every company that filed an Amicus Brief in support of Wal-Mart’s Evil Anti-Largesse.
If you can believe the movies, men and women can’t ever just be friends. It’s required by unwritten social law that at least one member of a mixed-gender friendship be all full up with unrequited lust, if not outright L-U-V. Psychology Today said it best when it summed up the media’s role in perpetuating this filthy lie:
“A certain classic film starring Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal convinced a nation of moviegoers that sex always comes between men and women, making true friendship impossible.”
There is only one socially approved way around this rule: Straight ladies can be friends with gay boys. But beware, het ladies! Those gay boys may only be pretending to be gay in order to grease the path into your pants! The jury’s still out on whether straight boys can be friends with gay ladies, and I’m pretty sure no one’s allowed to be friends with bisexual people (unless that person is Rickie), since they can’t really be trusted with either gender.
Cinematic representations of friendship notwithstanding, the challenges of building strong platonic relationships in a culture that values romantic love above all else are real for everyone. Straight people, at least, have a guidebook for how to interact with their same-sex friends: Women gossip and shop, often commiserating about their boyfriends’ foibles; men watch sports, drink beer, and complain about their girlfriends.
But those with non-standard sexual identities are flying blind. With no guidebook, it’s hard to know with whom you’re supposed to seek kinship — those of your own gender, or those of your own orientation? And what if your gender or orientation is fluid?
Should we create rosters and categories? Choose from List A if you’re in the mood for stein-clinking and rugby-watching, from List B if you need a manicure and a trip to Bloomie’s. But what if you just want to have a potluck? What list do you invite then?
It’s hard enough to build long-lasting friendships in the adult world without all these stupid rules about cross-sex relationships and how they’re supposed to work. In a perfect world, people would just relate to each other as people, not as genders or sexual orientations or Democrats or Republicans or whatever.
Tell me, readers, who are your best friends, and what does your social circle look like? Are they homogeneous or heterogeneous in their gender and sexual orientation? What about race, class, national origin? What are the challenges you see in relating to people that are unlike yourself?
I was invited to a “State of the Union” drinking game last night, and I have to say I declined the invitation. Strangely, I think I would’ve gone had it been Dubya behind the pulpit.
Why? Because it’s way more fun to get drunk and rip on an easy target than it is to get drunk and have nuanced conversations with belligerent frat boys I’m way too old to be hanging out with anyway. Dubya was, at the least, a galvanizing president for we left-wing nuts, and a terrible speaker to boot. In his speeches lay endless potential for grammar gaffe-based shot-taking, and lots of opportunity for idealistic moral outrage, followed by earnest head-nodding and more shots.
Say what you will about ‘Bama, but the potential for fun is just not there. It’s hard for me to congratulate him on being a better speaker, since it’s not like he writes his own speeches (no leaders do, nor do they write their own books, which kind of makes critiquing any of them pointless in the first place but that’s a whole other topic); and it’s hard for me to care on any real level about his (or anyone’s) rhetoric, which is what speeches are.
Speeches tell you nothing about politics. Actions are what people should pay attention to; yet I am often called a philistine because I refuse to slavishly follow the media circus around political posturing. The problem with that line of thinking is that allowing your brain to be invaded by carefully crafted rhetoric (definition: language designed to please or persuade; loud, confused and empty talk) just leaves you more snowed than you were before, gifting you the ability only to parrot what you hear on TV. Who’s the philistine now, huh?
Imported from MySpace blog
Bored? Read this interesting column from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
IN CASE YOU’VE been wondering what to do with your life, John Boehner has the answer.
House Minority Leader Boehner, a Republican congressman from Ohio, celebrated the recent passage of the economic stimulus package by saying, “The sooner we get this relief in the hands of the American people, the sooner they can begin to do their job of being good consumers.” Your title: “consumer;” your mission: “buy stuff.” Echoes of the president’s call, amid the crisis of 9/11, to get out and “shop.”
The distance between “citizen” and “consumer” is the distance we have traveled. Where “citizen” has a certain dignity, even gravitas, carrying with it notions of responsibility and capacity for decision, “consumer” conjures something far more passive, lacking either dignity or responsibility, save responsibility to one’s self and for getting the best deal.
Yet “consumer” has steadily infiltrated our language and become our self-designation and default definition of what it means to be a person. Group Health Cooperative, of which I am a member, does not speak of us as either patients or members, but as consumers. We are health care consumers. Higher education mutes talk of the educated person in favor of consumers of educational services and getting the best value for your education dollar. Churches gear up for “church shoppers,” religious consumers.
The subtext of cultural change in the past 30 years has been the way the market has seeped into every sector of life and come to define how we think of who we are and what we do. We are consumers, feeding the great insatiable maw of the consumer economy.
Is it too much to suggest that consumerism has become a kind of alternative faith, a religion of sorts? Religions are characterized by some vision of a good life, by their rituals and by a particular language. Consumerism seems to be developing all three apace.
Consumerism’s vision of the good life is the gaining of goods and experiences. Consumerism also has its own rituals that form and promote consumer character. The acquisition of credit cards and debit cards by the young becomes some sort of rite of passage. The Friday after Thanksgiving is consumerism’s high holy day, the No. 1 shopping day of the year. How much we shop during the Christmas season is an indicator of our national health. Television offers the liturgy of consumerism 24/7, and wonder of wonders, we consent to having it piped into our homes!
One might even do a compare- and-contrast between religion’s historic and characteristic virtues and consumerism’s virtues or qualities of character. For faith and religion, the crowning virtue is love, a capacity for other regard. For consumerism, self-regard would lead the list. No. 2 in a listing of religious virtues would be joy with the associated notion of contentment.
Yet for consumerism, discontent is essential. One must be in a constant state of anxiety about keeping up, having the newest and the latest. Virtue No. 3 of the spiritual life is peace and harmony with others. But for consumerism, envy is to be preferred.
The list goes on: The quality of patience is met with consumerism’s virtue of instant gratification; generosity with maximization of profit and pleasure; gentleness with the hard sell and hype; faithfulness with planned obsolescence. Finally, religion has understood self-control, imagine that, as a virtue. The good consumer learns the virtue of impulse buying.
How we name ourselves is important. Democracy names us as “citizens.” Religion names us as “persons made in the image of God.” Each has a dignity, even a nobility, that “consumer” lacks.
So now, because mortgage and finance companies succeeded in gaining more consumers with loans they could neither afford nor sustain, creating the subprime crisis, we have a stimulus package, a kind of consumer Viagra, to get us up and buying again. Is something wrong with this picture?
Lent, the Christian season of penitence and self-examination, began this week. The sins to be repented are still with us: greed, envy, sloth, covetousness. Only they are no longer sins. They are the virtues of “the good consumer.”
Anthony B. Robinson’s column appears Saturdays. He is a speaker, consultant and writer. His recent books include “Common Grace: How To Be a Person and Other Spiritual Matters,” and “Leadership for Vital Congregations.” Want to suggest ideas for future columns? He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Perhaps it’s time for me to revive my long-forgotten habit of giving things up for Lent. Oh, Catholicism, when will you stop pestering me?
Currently reading :
Freakonomics [Revised and Expanded]: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything