August 6, 2007

If you’re not pissed off, then you haven’t been paying attention

Posted in GLBT issues, Government, Law, News at 3:18 pm by The Lizard Queen

You see phrases like the title of this post on bumper stickers, or hear similar lines in songs. It has perhaps become trite, or easy to scoff at. Still, I find it rings true, especially on days like today, when I’m tired and PMS-ing and just generally snarky. What follows is a brief rundown of some of the things sticking in my craw today.

  • The fact that 41 Democratic Representatives and 16 Democratic Senators voted in favor of changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The bill passed and was quickly signed into law by the President. Here’s what Liss had to say:

    The law changes the definition of what is considered “electronic surveillance,” allowing the government to eavesdrop—without a warrant—by hooking into the huge, US-based telecommunications switches through which most international communications are routed. Now, as long as the government’s target is “reasonably believed” to be overseas, the NSA can eavesdrop on conversations had with that person without obtaining a warrant first. . . .

    The new law also gives the administration “greater power to force telecommunications companies to cooperate with such spying operations,” and—worst yet—”gives the attorney general and the director of national intelligence the power to approve the international surveillance, rather than the special intelligence court.” Did you get that? Not only did the Democrats give the administration the power to spy on us; they handed the oversight to Alberto fucking Gonzales. Quite a tasty little reward for being a lying sack of shit.

    (Liss is quite eloquent in her anger; I use her words largely because I am much less so.) Liss also compiled other reactions to the new law from around the blogosphere, and pointed out why capitulating to a bully is an exercise in futility.

  • Just one of many, many examples one could find of the heartbreak that can come as a result of the fact that same-sex couples can’t get married in 49 out of our 50 states:

    Brett Conrad spent more than half his life as Patrick Atkins’ partner. For 25 years, the men shared bank accounts, apartments and eventually a home in Fishers.

    But when Atkins, 47, fell seriously ill in 2005, Conrad faced what many gay Hoosiers consider a travesty: no law guaranteeing them the same rights as married couples to participate in care decisions for their ill partners.

    Conrad, 47, spent much of the past two years trying to win guardianship of Atkins from Atkins’ parents, Thomas and Jeanne of Carmel. Jeanne Atkins is quoted in court documents as saying she believes homosexuality is a sin and that she disapproves of the men’s relationship. The parents have barred Conrad from visiting their now-disabled son in their home where he lives.

    I’ll put it bluntly: that’s just seriously fucked up. First of all, how many heterosexual couples do you know who got together when they were twenty-two years old and remained together 25 years later? I’m certainly in awe of their relationship. Second, when your child has come that close to death, might it not be time to set dogma aside and just focus on loving him? (Note: forcing the man with whom your son has lived for 25 years to stay away is not loving behavior.) Third, some anti-same-sex marriage advocates (not to mention commenters on the article) have pointed out that this situation “could have been prevented if Conrad and Atkins had used existing laws that can give unmarried couples — straight and gay — the legal right to act on each other’s behalf.” That’s all well and good, but a) given that they’re only 47, it’s hardly surprising they hadn’t done so; b) sometimes the paperwork doesn’t fix the situation, e.g. I’ve heard more than one story about a person zooming home to fetch the forms, duly filled out and kept in a safe place, only to return to the hospital to find that his or her partner had already passed away; and c) THAT’S NOT THE POINT. How many hetero married couples have to worry about making sure all the necessary paperwork is filled out to ensure that one spouse’s parents won’t intercede to try to prevent the relationship from continuing if that spouse is incapacitated? Would the Terri Schiavo case have become national news if Terri had been a man? It’s past time this nation made GLBT folks full-fledged citizens, and legalizing same-sex marriage is a major step toward that end. (h/t to the Educated Eclectic at Pam’s House Blend)

  • Finally, for now anyway, there’s the fact that an Anglo man can marry into a Native family, and be free to do pretty much whatever the hell he wants to with them:

    For more than a decade, a white man married to an Indian woman sexually terrorized his entire family on the Eastern Cherokee reservation in North Carolina. If his wife complained about the rapes and beatings with a baseball bat, he shocked her with a Taser. While raping his wife, he would force his teenage daughters to stand by so he could fondle their genitalia to compensate for erectile dysfunction. Afterward, he would show them his AK-47 and threaten to kill them if they ever left him or told anyone.

    Despite those threats, his wife finally reported the incidents to tribal police. Eastern Cherokee prosecutor James Kilbourne wanted to prosecute, but the tribe did not have criminal jurisdiction over the non-Indian husband. Local and state authorities didn’t have jurisdiction either because the victims were Indians.

    In 21st century America, how is it that the availability of justice on Indian reservations is determined by the race of the perpetrator and victim? Although the federal government recognizes Indian tribes as sovereign nations, Congress and the Supreme Court have severely restricted tribes’ ability to protect their citizens from violent crime.

    Only U.S. Attorneys have the power to prosecute these sorts of crimes, but they rarely do: “they decline to prosecute crimes committed on reservations nearly twice as often as those committed off-reservation, according to Justice Department data recently analyzed by the Wall Street Journal.” The article contains a lot more information that I’d love to include here, but it would basically just end up meaning I was quoting the entire article. This one makes me particularly frustrated because I’m so powerless to do anything about it. I can write to my representatives, maybe join an activist group. Will that really accomplish anything, given the U.S.’s history of treating Natives as less than human? (h/t to Ann at Feministing)

So, there you are. Feel free to chime in with things that are pissing you off, comments on these stories, or counter-examples of things that are cheering you up.



  1. Shane said,

    Any idea where the title of this page came from?

  2. Mike said,

    Could it be from the Simpsons, when Lisa is hallucinating? Perhaps a jab about when one could foresee the bail-out as a good idea for the common people?

  3. Lizard Queen said,

    Mike: yes, I nicked the title for this blog from that Simpsons episode; however, this blog (in its WordPress incarnation, anyway) is nearly two years old, so there’s no connection to current events. Indeed, there’s not much of a rationale behind the blog title at all except that I like the sound of it.

    That said, I thought Shane’s question might refer to the title of the post, in which case the answer is that it’s one of those bumper-sticker sayings that doesn’t seem to have a specific origin beyond a bumper sticker sloganeer somewhere.

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