Monday Blogaround

8 06 2009

Here’s what my feminist radar picked up today:

Harvard to Endow Chair in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Studies

Republicans Regain Control of New York State Senate

Back to the Future in Torture Policy

15-Year-Old Victim Will Not See Her Rapists Prosecuted

Can a Speech Change the World?

More Bellyachin’ about Sluts!

Pink Sheep Of The Family

To Whom You Are Accountable

Model Choi Jin-Sil sued – for being beaten

Frat Boy Culture, Gender Identity, and Rape

Systemic Racism in Banking: The Wells-Fargo Case

Take Action!

5 06 2009

Here are two good petitions circulating that you should sign:

Human Rights First has a We Can End Torture campaign:

Tell President Obama: We need a non-partisan inquiry to make sure we don’t repeat past mistakes

The recent reports on torture and President Obama’s comments have set the wheels in motion—but we need your help to keep up the momentum towards a full reckoning on the United States’ use of torture.

Human Rights First and other leading human rights organizations have created a joint petition that calls on President Obama to set up a nonpartisan inquiry to evaluate the full cost of abuses, look at how we got there, and come up with safeguards so we don’t repeat the same mistakes. The U.S. needs to invest in a forward-looking strategy on intelligence gathering that gives interrogators training and guidance on which techniques work, and which techniques – such as torture — don’t.

Momentum is on our side – please let the Obama administration know that the public wants the truth about torture. Our national security depends on it.

Planned Parenthood has a Health Care Reform campaign too:

It’s a simple fact that is ignored far too often: for three million women, men, and teens, Planned Parenthood affiliate health centers are not just a place to go for birth control, sex education, or other reproductive care.  For these people, Planned Parenthood affiliate health centers are the only accessible source for health care, period.

That’s why Planned Parenthood must be an essential part of any health care reform.  Our affiliate health centers are already serving the communities most in need of a system that works.  Health center staff understand the issues these women and families face, they hear their stories, they see them everyday.

The fact is, nobody else can speak for the women, men, and teens Planned Parenthood health centers serve quite like we can – and we need lawmakers to listen.  Please help by signing our petition now.

Reality Check: Torture is NEVER justified!

3 06 2009

According to a recent poll, “Just over half of Americans say torture is at least sometimes justified to thwart terrorist attacks”.

Let’s stop right there.  Torture is at least sometimes justified?!!!!  Um, no, TORTURE IS NEVER JUSTIFIED! Not only does it not work (but whether or not it is an effective tactic is completely irrelevant and not the issue), but it is morally and ethically wrong.  Not that the United States has done a good job with keeping our moral compass pointed north, especially under the Bush Administration, but torture is something that people should just not do.  Ever.


Some 52 percent of people say torture can be at least sometimes justified to obtain information about terrorist activities from suspects, an increase from 38 percent in 2005 when the AP last asked the question. More than two-thirds of Republicans say torture can be justified compared with just over a third of Democrats.

52 percent of people think that torture can be at least sometimes justified?  Really?  That’s incredibly sad, disturbing and disheartening.  I don’t know how many times we can repeat this before people finally get it (if they ever get it), but torture is just plain wrong.  Nothing can justify it.

In 2005, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) argued that torture damages the public image and the reputation of the U.S.: “I can tell you that it is a club that our enemies use, and we need to take that club out of their hand”.  Senator Joe Biden (now Vice President) argued that torture makes the U.S. more vulnerable to retaliation from enemy forces: “This is about the safety and security of American forces”.

Neither of these two arguments get to the heart of the matter though.  These are not the principal reasons why torture is unacceptable and unjustifiable.  Torture is not wrong because it makes you look bad, or it makes you a target for retaliation.  Torture is wrong because it is torture.

Johnathan Schell writes:

Torture is wrong because it inflicts unspeakable pain upon the body of a fellow human being who is entirely at our mercy.  The tortured person is bound and helpless.  The torturer stands over him with his instruments.  There is no question of “unilateral disarmament” because the victim bears no arms, lacking even the use of the two arms he was born with.  The inequality is total.  To abuse or kill a person in such a circumstance is as radical a denial of common humanity as is possible.  It is repugnant to learn that one’s country’s military forces are engaging in torture.  It is worse to learn that the torture is widespread.  It is worse still to learn that the torture was rationalized and sanctioned in long memorandums written by people at the highest level of the government.  But worst of all would be ratification of this record by a vote to confirm one of its chief authors to the highest legal office in the executive branch of the government.

Torture destroys the soul of the torturer even as it destroys the body of his victim.  The boundary between human treatment of prisoners and torture is perhaps the clearest boundary in existence between civilization and barbarism.

Abu Ghraib photos reportedly depict rape and sexual abuse

29 05 2009

[trigger warning]

A report in The Daily Telegraph has emerged claiming that the Abu Ghraib photos which President Obama is refusing to release graphically depict rape and sexual abuse.

At least one picture shows an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner while another is said to show a male translator raping a male detainee.

Further photographs are said to depict sexual assaults on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube.

Another apparently shows a female prisoner having her clothing forcibly removed to expose her breasts.

Major General Antonio Taguba, the former army officer who conducted an inquiry into the Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq, has reported the existence of such photographs to The Daily Telegraph. Although the allegations of rape and sexual abuse had previously existed, the existence of photos of the acts had not previously been revealed.

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