Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Today is Women's Suffrage Day. On August 26, 1920, Congress ratified the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan were the first three states to ratify the amendment.

It was a long fight, which began at the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848, when Elizabeth Cady Stanton composed the Declaration of Sentiments. Unfortunately, several of Stanton's complaints remain problems for American women today, despite reforms in federal and state laws. Equal pay for equal work remains an unmet goal, and the glass ceiling is as strong as ever. The double standard is still with us, not just in matters of sexuality, but also in matters of workplace, home, and community behavior. Crimes against women are common.

Our language continues to reflect generations of sexist attitudes. Adult women are still relegated to the position of children by being called "girls," groups of people are still called "guys," humankind is called "mankind," and God is called "He." Point out the inherent bigotry in this, and you are "accused" of being politically incorrect.

What is incorrect is the way women are treated.

Saturday, August 23, 2003

This is the weekend that we celebrate the 1963 March on Washington, which is remembered for Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech. A lot has changed in 40 years, starting with the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Unfortunately, the changes have been slow and insufficient, since the United States is still a nation in which racism runs rampant. Racism--like sexism and all of the other bigotries of our culture--takes two forms: overt and subtle. And often, it is the very people who condemn overt bigotry who are themselves practicing subtle bigotry. To the victims, it is all the same.

Monday, August 18, 2003

After September 11, some people said that irony was dead. Irony will never die, but for some people, maybe it never existed in the first place. Like Fox News, who--in a lawsuit against Al Franken--has determined that Franken's use of irony is a copyright infringement. Franken's book title, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right employs a clever twist on Fox's own claim. Fox has a copyright on the term "Fair and Balanced," it says; therefore, Franken cannot use the term.

That, as any scholar or attorney will tell you, is nonsense. The ironic use of a copyrighted phrase--especially a very common phrase--is perfectly acceptable. Especially if the use of the phrase is for something other than the product or entity for which the phrase was copyrighted.

Of course, the lawsuit isn't about the copyright. It's about Bill O'Reilly's pique that someone called him the liar that he is.

And if you like irony, here's some more: Isn't it the "fair and balanced" I-Love-Fox-News conservatives who are always ranting against frivolous lawsuits?

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Fresno City Council member Jerry Duncan is so cocky (or stupid) that he wrote in an email a wish that "If I had one dirty bomb and I could eliminate all the liberals in Fresno at once..." His colleague, City Council member Brian Calhoun, has an assistant, Ann Kloose, wrote an email to him that contained the message: "If these HRC (Human Relations Commission) bring down a crowd, I'm calling [police] to send over some officers to 'Cap' these guys ;-)"

Would Duncan and Kloose actually commit violence? Probably not (although Duncan has physically interfered with the Fresno HRC's meetings before), but--as one member of the HRC pointed out--if a commission member had made such a remark, there would be punishment. As it is, Duncan has apologized, but that isn't enough for a large group of Fresno residents, who are calling for his resignation.

Violent fantasies (and action) are nothing new for a certain class of conservatives, especially since September 11, the day that patriotism became defined as mindless allegiance to a dishonest and dangerous government.

Friday, August 08, 2003

At the National Association of Black Journalists' convention, former New York Times managing editor Gerald Boyd talked about the Jayson Blair fiasco. Boyd accepted his share of the responsibility, but he also talked about the racism that contributed to the crisis. Not racism that caused people to be unfair to Blair--racism that caused white executives at the Times to make ridiculous assumptions about Boyd.

First, they assumed--because he is black--that Boyd was Blair's mentor. Boyd hardly knew Blair. Worse, they were afraid to tell Boyd about Blair's sloppy and dishonest work because...well, you know, those blacks are going to get offended and stick together.

The insult toward Boyd is purely racist. And these are the folks who are running the so-called "liberal media"?

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

So the John Danforth School of Morality and Truth wasn't smart enough to fool the majority of the Episcopal House of Bishops (Former Sen. Danforth, an ordained Episcopal priest, organized a vicious campagin of lies against Anita Hill, but took time out once a week to celebrate the Eucharist at a Washington D.C. church). Rev. Gene Robinson was ratified today as the new Bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire, despite a pitiful last-minute attempt by opponents to destroy his reputation.

It is interesting that Father Robinson's personal life--in which he has not been known to harm anyone--is construed as sinful, but that it is acceptable to tell lies about him and try to ruin him.