Tag Archives: Missouri

The Good, the Bad, the Ferguson

America’s pretty messed up right now.

We’ve got vitriolic divisions on racial lines, political lines, ideological lines, religious/non-religious lines… We’re divided on so many fronts, I still find myself unable to pledge allegiance to the flag. Why should I? It’s not true. One nation? Sure, even if a lot of people want to secede. Under God? Well, that’s definitely questionable. Indivisible? The only way we as a country could be indivisible right now is if we’ve already divided ourselves so much that we can no longer be divided. And we seem to be nearly there. With liberty and justice for all? That statement seems almost as laughable as “indivisible,” especially in the light of the events of Ferguson, Mo.

If you have no idea what events I’m talking about, go ye forth and seek ye a friggin’ newspaper and a house that isn’t under 6 miles of rock. The problems in Ferguson are so layered and numerous and ridiculous that one would THINK, as a nation, we could finally see eye-to-eye on something with only a few freak outliers in the data. I mean, we’ve got excessive, militarized police blowing responses out of proportion. We’ve got an unarmed, non-violent (at LEAST in that moment) person WHOSE SKIN COLOR OR CRIMINAL RECORD SHOULDN’T MATTER dead without a good explanation. If he was a criminal, he was executed without due process, a Constitutional right. We’ve got the freedom of assembly and the freedom of the press getting hampered by cops, not to mention the violations of the 4th, 5th and 6th amendments. And you’d better believe that 2nd amendment wouldn’t get upheld if a Ferguson protestor legally had a gun. We’ve got proof of this sort of activity happening all over the country for YEARS without appropriate punishments. We’ve got scientific data showing a decrease in police brutality and harassment claims anywhere cameras are required to be in cop cars or on their person. We KNOW, without a doubt, that there needs to be change. Race shouldn’t even be an issue.

But, no. Nothing’s ever that simple. See, too much has happened. There have been riots and looting. Those are bad, so Michael Brown deserved it. He may or may not have stolen cigars. Therefore, he deserved it. Oh, and he’s black. Which makes a difference. Because when you’re black, if you’re not an honors student planning to attend Harvard with a spotless record, a 4.0+ GPA and have never smoked, drank, had sex, owned a gun or hung out with another person of color who is less “perfect” than you, then you’re going to be demonized. This guy says all of this much more poignantly than I can, so I suggest you read it.

I was born extremely lucky. I reached into the lotto bowls of race and gender and got white male. As a man, I will tend to get preferential treatment over women when it comes to being hired and paid. I have a far lesser fear of sexual assault and rape. As a white person, I don’t have to worry about being treated as a stereotype. I don’t worry about being frisked. If I were to commit a crime, I’m likely to spend far less time in jail than a non-white person. And if I get randomly killed by police, at least I won’t get my name dragged through the dirt postmortem.

But do you know what the worst part of this all is? Nothing will really change. People will pretend it’s an isolated incident, like Eric Garner choked to death in New York, like Rodney King in California, like Trayvon Martin in Florida, like Matthew Shepard in Wyoming, like Michael Bell in Wisconsin. It was a fluke. It wasn’t a symbol of larger problems. They weren’t perfect people, so they deserved it. They goaded the cops. For goodness sake, we’ve got a crowdfunding campaign in support of Officer Darren Wilson, the man who shot Brown, and you can see how many people are apparently GLAD the boy got shot. Because blacks kill blacks and no one complains? Because he was a thug anyway? Excuse after excuse after excuse.

Nothing will change because we allow it to stay the same. Because we choose to see people as different and lesser than the rest of us.

America is going to be one of the most disastrously failed experiments if we let this keep happening, but there’s too much pride, ego and ignorance blinding people to that fact. Hopefully, I’m wrong. Hopefully, Brown’s death will ignite a spark of change for the better. Because we desperately need it before we burn.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Rape Debacle

So, I’m guessing you’ve probably heard about GOP Congressman Todd Akin’s comments during his senatorial bid in Missouri about rape. He’s the guy that tried to say women don’t usually get pregnant during “legitimate rape.”

Since then, there have been some rather stern and strong rebukes and disavowments from everyone, the disavowing coming mostly from the GOP. The Republican National Convention Chair has called for Akin’s removal from the race and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has even gone on record stating he “can’t defend” Akin, as well as stating that he is not against abortion in rape cases. An interesting position for Romney to take, but perhaps a necessary one after Akin’s comments.

Because, see, here’s the fun thing: This sort of commentary on rape isn’t new. Not from the GOP and their commentators. Anyone else remember Liz Trotta talking about women getting “raped too much” in the military?

Why do people feel the need to attempt to defend rape in any fashion? Or to qualify it as some sort of natural thing that happens? I mean, yes. Technically speaking, rape does occur in nature. That’s why some animals, like ducks, have evolved to develop anti-rape biological features. Which clearly must be what Akin was thinking about when he said a woman has biological routines to shut a rape pregnancy down. But Trotta practically suggested that men can’t help themselves. I mean, put men and women in close quarters and the rapings are just going to happen! It’s only natural!

So, somehow, this becomes insulting to men, who are now being compared to mindless, baser-instinct driven animals with no conscious ability to choose, as well as demeaning to women, who are told that men know women’s bodies better, or at least well enough to make laws that, frankly, entirely ignore the desires and traumas of a woman already traumatized.

And where does all this trouble come from? From attempting to differentiate rape. Attempting to qualify it. There are people trying to defend Akin saying, “Ah, but aren’t some women who cry rape lying?” Who the hell cares? Weeding out those women, which I believe the FBI says make up about 8 percent of the reported cases of rape, is entirely pointless, dangerous and ultimately harmful. Much like voter ID laws, but that’s beside the current point. After all, as the above link mentions, less than 50 percent of rape cases are reported.

Now, I’m not getting into statutory rape here. The definition of “choice” when it comes to age certainly becomes a sticky mess. Can a 15-year-old girl choose to sleep with a 17-year-old boy? Yeah, but that still counts as statutory, even down here in Alabama. Visa versa on the genders counts, too. It may sound like I’m qualifying, the thing I’m kind of writing against, but for now I’m going to consider statutory a complicated area of rape where consent’s definition is muddled by age and maturity.

In the consenting adult world, however, the definition is clear. If a person says stop at ANY POINT, you stop. It’s done. Men, women, the choice for sex is individual and distinct. To try and define it as “legitimate” or “more serious,” or to suggest that there’s a way to be raped “too much,” as though there’s a just right amount… it’s shameful.

As President Barack Obama said, “Rape is rape.” The idea that people need to debate rape and the results in any fashion is a simply disturbing one. The fact that discussion on the subject, particularly relating to abortion and emergency contraception for female victims of rape, is a discussion run largely by men in the legislative world is even more disturbing. Hopefully, some good can come of Akin’s word vomit: A look at how wrong we’re handling rape as a legitimate problem and how we can fix it.

Tagged , , , , , , ,