September 30, 2008

Shana Tova

Posted in Current events, Religion at 10:08 am by The Lizard Queen

To those marking Rosh Hashanah today, may your new year be sweet and full of joys!

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September 26, 2008

And now for something completely different: Banned Books Week

Posted in Books, Censorship at 4:19 pm by The Lizard Queen

Banned Books Week starts tomorrow!  I’m thinking I’ll profile a few books that are frequently challenged or banned over the course of the week.  If you have any suggestions, please don’t hesitate to let me know.  The ALA’s list of the 100 most frequently challenged books of this decade (2000-2007) is here (pdf).

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

Posted in News, Politics at 1:43 pm by The Lizard Queen

A John McCain-related timeline:

Wednesday, September 24:

Tomorrow morning, I will suspend my campaign and return to Washington after speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative. I have spoken to Senator Obama and informed him of my decision and have asked him to join me.

I am calling on the President to convene a meeting with the leadership from both houses of Congress, including Senator Obama and myself. It is time for both parties to come together to solve this problem.

We must meet as Americans, not as Democrats or Republicans, and we must meet until this crisis is resolved. I am directing my campaign to work with the Obama campaign and the commission on presidential debates to delay Friday night’s debate until we have taken action to address this crisis.

I am confident that before the markets open on Monday we can achieve consensus on legislation that will stabilize our financial markets, protect taxpayers and homeowners, and earn the confidence of the American people. All we must do to achieve this is temporarily set politics aside, and I am committed to doing so.

Wednesday evening: McCain cancels his appearance on Letterman, but still tapes an interview with Katie Couric.

In the meantime: even if the candidate himself left the campaign trail, the campaign itself continued on. Read the rest of this entry »

September 24, 2008

Troy Davis and the death penalty

Posted in Current events, Human rights, News, Racial issues at 5:05 pm by The Lizard Queen

Yesterday the Supreme Court issued a stay of execution for Troy Davis, two hours before he was to be put to death. (Background here.) Davis’s case encapsulates so much of why I object to the death penalty:

  • It affects people of color and poor people disproportionately.  (I realize that the link doesn’t actually have anything to do with Troy Davis; it’s simply an illustration.)
  • There’s no guarantee that the person being put to death is actually the person responsible for the crime. Yes, sometimes it’s obvious, an open-and-shut case, etc. Other times, however, it’s much more complicated. In Troy Davis’s case, “There was no physical evidence against him and the weapon used in the crime was never found. The case against him consisted entirely of witness testimony which contained inconsistencies even at the time of the trial. Since then, all but two of the state’s non-police witnesses from the trial have recanted or contradicted their testimony. Many of these witnesses have stated in sworn affidavits that they were pressured or coerced by police into testifying or signing statements against Troy Davis.”
  • It’s inhumane. Can you imagine having your death scheduled, knowing it’s coming, then having the execution postponed within hours of when it’s supposed to happen? Can you imagine having that happen to you twice, as it has now happened to Troy Davis? I imagine it’s a relief, to be sure, but at the same time, your execution has not been called off, merely postponed.

On Monday, the Supreme Court will “decide whether to hear Davis’ appeal of a ruling issued by the Georgia Supreme Court in March.”  I hope they will agree with the Chief Justice of Georgia’s Supreme Court,  Leah Ward Sears:

“If recantation testimony, either alone or supported by other evidence, shows convincingly that prior trial testimony was false, it simply defies all logic and morality to hold that it must be disregarded categorically,” she wrote.

Hump Day Poetry: H.D.

Posted in Poetry at 3:53 pm by The Lizard Queen

At Baia

I should have thought
in a dream you would have brought
some lovely, perilous thing,
orchids piled in a great sheath,
as who would say (in a dream),
“I send you this,
who left the blue veins
of your throat unkissed.”

Why was it that your hands
(that never took mine),
your hands that I could see
drift over the orchid-heads
so carefully,
your hands, so fragile, sure to lift
so gently, the fragile flower-stuff—
ah, ah, how was it

You never sent (in a dream)
the very form, the very scent,
not heavy, not sensuous,
but perilous–perilous–
of orchids, piled in a great sheath,
and folded underneath on a bright scroll,
some word:

“Flower sent to flower;
for white hands, the lesser white,
less lovely of flower-leaf,”

or

“Lover to lover, no kiss,
no touch, but forever and ever this.”

—H.D., 1912

Lindsay Lohan, the media, and what it means to be an “out” celebrity

Posted in GLBT issues, Media, Musings at 2:57 pm by The Lizard Queen

I don’t normally read the celebrity gossip rags, like People and OK! and Us. That’s not to say I don’t get as caught up in the lives of celebrities as any other average American, but you know, there’s only so much time in a day.

That said, though, this past summer I started going to the gym, and many’s the time I neglected to bring reading material of my own and so ended up leafing through one of the above-mentioned magazines while on the elliptical machine. And in them I came across pictures of Lindsay Lohan and Samantha Ronson. In them Lohan looks happy and healthy, so pretty much the sum total of my analysis of the pictures themselves was “hey, good for her, good for them, mazel tov all around.”  (Okay, I confess that there might have been some skepticism in my initial reaction, too, but between the fact that a) they’ve been together over two years, apparently, and b) it’s not actually any of my business anyway, that feeling passed after about the second week of the gym + celeb mags routine.)

What I did chew on for a while, however, was the carefree nature of the photo captions. They were, in a nutshell, normal. There hadn’t been the earth-shattering “I’m gay!” cover story, and yet the captions didn’t have that breathless “is she or isn’t she?” speculation, either. Just, “Lindsay Lohan and her girlfriend, DJ Samantha Ronson, hit up Bristol Farms for some salad vinegar,” or whatever. There might even have been snaps of the two women smooching, and the captions were still no more salacious or shocked than they would have been for a hetero couple.

It was something I wanted to write about, but wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to say. So, it works out well that Sarah Warn at After Ellen covered the topic last week, and better than I ever could have:

In the olden days of, say, the 1990s, you had to say actually say the words “I’m gay” or “I’m in a romantic relationship with so-and-so” to some kind of reputable press outlet to be considered openly gay, or “out.” Otherwise, you were considered “in” (or closeted). (See: Neil Patrick Harris pre-2006, or Ellen DeGeneres pre-1997.)

There are and will continue to be those who come out with words, and those who choose not to come out at all. But beginning in the early part of this decade, a new way of being out emerged that was characterized by living openly in a same-sex relationship and not denying or hiding it from the press, but refusing to actually define it with words.

She also points out that

Straight celebrities don’t announce their heterosexuality, we just make assumptions from their behavior. In the past, we haven’t been able to makes the same conclusions about celebrities in same-sex relationships, because their day-to-day behavior was not widely reported on, so an announcement was necessary to counter the prevailing assumption of heterosexuality.

That’s not so true anymore.

And she points out the positive impact Lohan and Ronson’s relationship could have:

One of the most encouraging aspects to Lohan’s story is the positive influence it may have on those young women who have followed her life and career over the last several years.

Not only will they see a very popular (if controversial) young woman living openly in a lesbian relationship, but the press is giving her girlfriend credit for helping Lohan get her life back on track.

The whole article is well worth reading.  Check it out!

September 23, 2008

Barack Obama and Doug Kmiec

Posted in Civil rights, GLBT issues, Politics at 10:38 am by The Lizard Queen

Politics are a balancing act: opposing viewpoints struggle for recognition and for dominance, and politicians work to find balance between ideals and electability. With that in mind, then, I can understand, intellectually, why, in spite of relatively progressive words spoken at the Democratic National Convention — “I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination” — Barack Obama would have someone like Doug Kmiec stumping for him on his “Faith, Family, and Values Tour.”

But understanding it intellectually doesn’t keep me from being frustrated by it.

Here is some of what Doug Kmiec believes:

As a Republican, I strongly wish to preserve traditional marriage not as a suspicion or denigration of my homosexual friends, but as recognition of the significance of the procreative family as a building block of society.

As a Republican, and as a Catholic, I believe life begins at conception, and it is important for every life to be given sustenance and encouragement.

As a Republican, I strongly believe that the Supreme Court of the United States must be fully dedicated to the rule of law, and to the employ of a consistent method of interpretation that keeps the Court within its limited judicial role.

As a Republican, I believe problems are best resolved closest to their source and that we should never arrogate to a higher level of government that which can be more effectively and efficiently resolved below.

As a Republican, and the constitutional lawyer, I believe religious freedom does not mean religious separation or mindless exclusion from the public square.

In spite of all that, he supports Obama. There’s something to that, to be sure — in order to be truly productive, it’s helpful for Presidents and Presidential candidates to appeal to both sides of the aisle. That said, though, I find the fact that this man is being used as an Obama surrogate on this tour troubling. He has been vocal in his support for California’s ballot proposition 8, which will ban same-sex marriage in that state. And while that is far from the only LBGTQ issue worth mentioning — where does he stand on DADT? What about hate crime and/or anti-discrimination legislation? — it is particularly visible at the moment, and so many people feel like Obama is shoving LBGTQ people under the bus. Again, it’s frustrating. As Deeky asks, “how am I supposed to reconcile Obama’s promise of lives free of discrimination, with his tapping of an anti-gay, anti-equality bigot as his messenger in the final days of the campaign?”

Furthermore, I wonder how much good this will actually do. If Michelle Obama is correct in her estimation that young people will have a significant impact on this election, then I’m not sure how effective someone with such traditional views as Kmiec’s will be in drumming up votes for Obama, considering that so much Obama’s appeal is in his message of change, and as a general rule each new generation is more progressive than the one that preceded it.

I guess we’ll see.

Related: Encourage Debate Moderator Jim Lehrer to ask the candidates about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

September 12, 2008

Feminist Carnival

Posted in Blogging, Feminism, Gender issues, GLBT issues at 4:45 pm by The Lizard Queen

The 64th Carnival of Feminists is up!  As ever, there’s plenty of good reading listed there.  I wanted to take a moment to highlight the posts by a couple of recent additions to my blogroll: Radical Feminists and Cis Privilege by Renee at Womanist Musings, and Uterus Art by Debs at Don’t Stray from the Path.  And as much as I appreciated the latter of the two posts for giving me a perspective I’d never considered before — for, quite simply, making me think — the post of hers that I really want to share is Across the Porn Divide:

…the stalemate we are currently in will only continue as long as we persist in talking about rather than to women we disagree with, and continue to make generalisations, or untrue statements about those women. Something needs to happen to break the deadlock, or this movement we call feminism will cease to move at all, and will die from stagnation before achieving all, or even any, of its goals. Women on both ‘sides’, and from all ‘feminisms’ need to start listening to other women, women who do not agree with them, women who’s life experience is vastly different to theirs, women who have made choices they feel are wrong, or that they would never make themselves. If we are all talking at once, we cannot hear what anyone is saying, and listening is the key to communication and learning.

It’s a superb post, and well worth the read for those interested in feminist movement.

Happy reading!

Remembrance

Posted in History at 2:07 pm by The Lizard Queen

I didn’t post yesterday.  I simply didn’t know what to say, and it was a difficult day for me emotionally for entirely unrelated reasons.  However, Shark-fu, in all her brilliance, put up a beautiful post that is well worth reading: …shall not perish from the earth.

Go.  Read.  Ponder “a declaration of purpose that is beyond conflict and war.”  Remember.

September 10, 2008

Hump Day Poetry: Mahmoud Darwish

Posted in Poetry at 3:53 pm by The Lizard Queen

In Jerusalem

In Jerusalem, and I mean within the ancient walls,
I walk from one epoch to another without a memory
to guide me. The prophets over there are sharing
the history of the holy . . . ascending to heaven
and returning less discouraged and melancholy, because love
and peace are holy and are coming to town.
I was walking down a slope and thinking to myself: How
do the narrators disagree over what light said about a stone?
Is it from a dimly lit stone that wars flare up?
I walk in my sleep. I stare in my sleep. I see
no one behind me. I see no one ahead of me.
All this light is for me. I walk. I become lighter. I fly
then I become another. Transfigured. Words
sprout like grass from Isaiah’s messenger
mouth: “If you don’t believe you won’t believe.”
I walk as if I were another. And my wound a white
biblical rose. And my hands like two doves
on the cross hovering and carrying the earth.
I don’t walk, I fly, I become another,
transfigured. No place and no time. So who am I?
I am no I in ascension’s presence. But I
think to myself: Alone, the prophet Mohammad
spoke classical Arabic. “And then what?”
Then what? A woman soldier shouted:
Is that you again? Didn’t I kill you?
I said: You killed me . . . and I forgot, like you, to die.

—Mahmoud Darwish (1942-2008)
Translated by Fady Joudah

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