Knox. Knox. No Justice There.

January 31, 2014

By Tatiana von Tauber

What do you think of this Amanda Knox story?

I watched her interview here . It’s moving. I’ve been following the case for years and I empathize as sometimes facts lead to conclusions which create illusion, not truth and it is here we discover the depth of trust (and fault), in ourselves and our systems.

What is justice? Truly, at what level can another human being say “this person deserves x, y or z for punishment” and call it a day? Who is satisfied? What or whom does that “justice” affect and what is its effect? Will our community be better off with someone like Amanda in jail so we are safer or are we merely seeking justice built on what we believe a victim’s life is worth because it’s socially demanded we punish those who kill?

If Amanda Knox did aid in murder, has her emotional turmoil and years already spent in prison – in the battle for her freedom – not counted as “time served in prison” if prison is defined as a place of punishment? Has her particular suffering not counted as anything at all? For the Italian court to accuse Amanda Knox of guilt after innocence, and weigh a hefty 28 year term on her is so striking I feel violated and I’m just a spectator!

Let’s face it, society places value on murders. They happen all the time. Every day.  Why is the destruction of Knox’s life more important than the destruction of yesterday’s murderer? And what about tomorrow’s murderer? What is jail for? Is it a place to make another person suffer for their pain onto another or is it a holding cell to keep the rest of us safer? What factors determine when it’s both? Or is jail a place where we feel, as a society, a sense of accomplishment in that we are doing what we’re supposed to do to “bad people”? Is there hope to rehabilitate or only institutionalize?

I don’t know if Amanda is guilty or not. I do know that I find her to have suffered a good deal for the circumstances upon which she found herself. There’s a point where another human being should suffer for murder (Hitler comes to mind) and then there’s a point where another human being should be given reprieve when being played with like a pawn in a game and having clearly suffered through an aftermath of such accusation. How is 28 years more of prison time a case of justice served at this point in time?

Amanda Knox presents herself very authentically. Maybe she is faking it but to imprison her for another 28 years for a crime that’s been tainted is a crime onto itself. It is way too harsh and unreasonable. Consider that killing the enemy in war constitutes as justified murder – freedom fighting we call it – but Knox’s situation demands almost three more decades of her life? From an innocent verdict to “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt”?  Should this be the perfect case of “let it go”?

Life gets complicated when you discover that human beings have varied value and thus death isn’t the most atrocious thing we can do onto another.  The freedom we are given should never, ever be taken lightly as that option for choice is always at risk of being taken from others. I commend Knox’s ability to stay so vigilant with her freedom at hand and it’s terrible to have freedom handed to you like a toy to jump for.

For Italy, home of the Vatican, to not be an example of forgiveness in the light of tainted investigations (and prior innocent verdict!) certainly seems in line with the church’s very own hypocritical philosophy. Italy should have risen above common human nature of reaction. Punishing Knox will do absolutely nothing to bring back the victim, show or teach a lesson that hasn’t already been shown or taught, nor will it contribute to Knox’s potential good, to which I believe Knox is capable of expressing given the opportunity.

By demanding to lock her up further, Italy has shown an example not of justice but “murder to the spirit”. Knox, if imprisoned, would be as lifeless as the victim in the sense that neither could flourish, live a life to better themselves or others and nor contribute to the world through the good that is within them because they weren’t given a chance. One loss of life is enough but when grounds are not certain, why not give benefit of the doubt and rise above human weakness? Sometimes bad things happen and while time is the best healer (and eye-opener), it’s best to move on quickly to weave those experiences into new creations. Give people a chance. Justice is a human construct and in the case of Knox, justice begs for reinterpretation.

Amanda Knox interview: (http://gma.yahoo.com/amanda-knox-39-couldn-39-t-believe-hearing-071851472–abc-news-topstories.html?vp=1)


Talking to your kids about gay marriage

December 10, 2012

I used to have neighbors in Flori-duh, whose argument (to me anyhow) against gay marriage was “what am I supposed to tell my kids?

Louis CK had a funny reply to that.

“It doesn’t have ANY effect on your life. What do you care? People try to talk about it like it’s a social issue. Like when you see someone stand up on a talk show and say ‘How am I supposed to explain to my child that two men are getting married?’ I dunno, it’s your shitty kid, you fuckin’ tell ‘em. Why is that anyone else’s problem? Two guys are in LOVE but they can’t get married because YOU don’t want to talk to your ugly child for five fuckin’ minutes?”

The issue came up with my daughter, yesterday. Age 4.

She asked what I was reading. I told her, “an article about a Supreme Court case” – 5 questions later, and it was time to make something up, or just tell her, and see if she got it.

I brought up one couple we know who are legally married (and happen to be my son’s “godfathers”). I told her “they are married, like mama and daddy, because they love each other.”

“Oh” she said.

I then told her about our cousin and his boyfriend of 25 years – who we also refer to as “cousin.” I said “they love each other just as much, but they are not allowed to get married, because they live in Las Vegas, which is in Nevada.”

“Oh. That’s not fair.”

There… conversation had. That wasn’t so hard.

I’m glad that my four year old understands the Equal Protection Clause better than some judges. When the gay marriage cases come before the Supreme Court, I’ll be impressed if Samuel Alito or Clarence Thomas are able to show as much intellect and wisdom as a girl who thinks that Santa Claus is a member of the First Amendment Lawyers’ Association.


Eternity was in our Lips and Eyes**

April 26, 2012

A bit frigid

Egypt’s women urge MPs not to pass early marriage, sex-after-death laws: report.

Apparently, some guys in Egypt hope to have one last romantic moment with their wives once they die.  For up to six hours post-mortem.  At least they are putting in a time-bar; else, Cleopatra and Nefertiti had better start chastity belt shopping.

**Antony & Cleopatra, Act I, scene iii

Update:  Story was fake. Sorry folks. 


Feminist War of 2012

March 16, 2012

By Tatiana von Tauber

I’m embarrassed to be an American woman with witness to the current state of the Union.

Being a woman is without a doubt the most difficult process of becoming I’ve ever undertaken especially since I began my role as a mother 14 years ago. Nothing prepares you for the experience of motherhood better than truth and so I feel the same about the future of young girls in America.  There are many I know who were totally lost in the wake of the conservative pool of stupidity in the days of GWBush and his side’s abstinence education policies in American schools.  There is an entire generation of kids who are completely misinformed about birth control and sex because of religion.

More and more I feel battered by having the feeling women were given erotic beauty for reproductive purposes – that selfish gene – and then, as though being whores weren’t enough, women were thrown into the immature flatlands of male needs where they were then expected to create synthesis. However, a bit of a power struggle later, women became those to not only seduce, but birth, nurture and support an entire family, if not society yet be given “jump for the carrot” freedom on body parts – by the very men they birthed!  How did America come to be like this? If American politics continue to enter the domain of a female’s sex life,  America has little to offer women of the next generation.

I’m drained from realizing Congress is really a bunch of men who can’t get their heads out of the female genitalia.  If they don’t pay to get in one they pay for others to stay out of one!  For the men who are playing around with this issue, women are only a piece of ass and little more, except maybe for their little girls who are a piece of ass for the boy next door. For women who support recent attacks on female rights in the name of being faithful to a God, I have no words, only disgust.

Reproductive rights, the womb, women’s health – all of it has to do with the absolute power this birth right gives to women; and patriarchy has never been stronger in modern America! As an American I am so appalled at this downfall of this great nation – that the womb and its ownership, the vagina and a woman’s health are on the table of political discussion rather than the real issues that need immediate attention, it all makes me want to throw up on Congress.

The bottom line to all this rhetoric is this: women have the power to veto men through sex and men don’t like that. Thank you Dr. Leonard Shlain for helping me understand this through your wonderful work, Sex, Time and Power (may you rest in peace) but how about a little help down here with the rest of the blind folks, eh?

The last time I checked, my kidney belonged to me and nobody could force me to do anything specific with it.  The main reason the womb is different is because it controls males’ sex lives.  The fact that women are under attack, in America, in 2012 stuns me.

Here’s my contribution to the debate: “Feminist War of 2012″.  I designed this back in 2007 or so and struggled with a proper title.  The Image just found its perfect match and almost sadly, its perfect time.

"Feminist War of 2012", ltd. ed. Giclee, 13"x19" by Tatiana von Tauber

Bonus material to chew on: 

Speaking of controlling women, this is an example of how women get screwed by men and the baby fantasy and how media uses them to make money to help glorify the chaos and continue the cycle.  See Kate Gosselin, mother of 8 now.

Great post and kick ass quote: The Body Politic, “This campaign needs more women and less gynecology” – Virginia Heffernan


Judge should review history of First Amendment

March 1, 2012

Pennsylvania District Judge Mark Martin needs to review his First Amendment law a little more carefully. Ernie Perce, an atheist who marched in a Halloween parade last year dressed as “zombie Mohammed,” was before Judge Martin after he alleged he was attacked by Talaag Elbayomy, a Muslim who took action after he witnessed Perce’s costume.

Perce wore a turban and a long, fake beard and painted his face green. During the parade, he yelled the phrases “I am the prophet Mohammed! Zombie from the dead!” He marched with another protestor, who was dressed as a zombie pope, carrying a banner that read, “The Parading Atheists of Central Pennsylvania: Ghoulish, Godless, God-awful.” According to Perce, Elbayomy attacked him, and Elbayomy was charged with harassment.

Judge Martin dismissed the charges against Elbayomy and scolded Perce, telling the protestor he had been insensitive. He also called Perce a “doofus.”

“You have that right, but you’re way outside your bounds of First Amendment rights,” Martin said, according to CNN. “I think our forefathers intended that we use the First Amendment so that we can speak our mind, not to piss off other people and other cultures, which is what you did.”

To the contrary, our forefathers intended that all U.S. citizens be allowed to criticize anyone they chose. The very first American citizens often criticized Great Britain, who they viewed as overly oppressive to the colonists. You can bet that the Brits were none too happy about that. The purpose of the First Amendment is to ensure that all people are protected when expressing their views, even if such views are unpopular. As GW Law professor Jonathan Turley pointed out, “People like Thomas Paine spent his entire life ticking off people across the colonies.” Another founding father, Thomas Jefferson, was hostile to the Catholic Church and criticized it often.

Perce was within his right to express his religious beliefs as an atheist, and if Elbayomy had expressed his dissent in a non-violent manner, he would have also been within his right. Sure, the thrust of the First Amendment isn’t to promote behavior that offends other people, but that is beside the point. Just because Perce offended Elbayomy did not give Elbayomy free license to assault Perce.

Judge Martin’s rationale for dismissing the charges against Elbayomy most certainly should not have been because Perce intended to “piss off other people and other cultures.” This is exactly the sort of thing the First Amendment was intended to protect against. Yes, Perce’s costume was offensive to Elbayomy, but it didn’t rise to the level of fighting words—there were no “personally abusive epithets” required by Cohen v. California.  Judge Martin should not have let Elbayomy off the hook for assault just because Perce said something he personally didn’t like.

Judge Martin could learn a thing or two by looking back again at what the First Amendment actually protects.


Muslim judge in Pennsylvania limits 1st Amendment

February 24, 2012

From Charles Platt

A judge in Pennsylvania who just happens to be of muslim faith informed a plaintiff that the 1st Amendment doesn’t necessarily give you the right to “p people off.” The plaintiff had worn a “Zombie Mohammed” costume in a public parade in Mechanicsburg, thus enraging a muslim observer who ran forward and tried to choke the man until police intervened. Charges of harassment, filed against the muslim for trying to choke the demonstrator, were dismissed by the muslim judge. Details here.


It’s Not Over Yet.

February 9, 2012

I, for one, am elated that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found Prop 8 Unconstitutional.  Source . However, I would be remiss if I didn’t at least bring up the one thing Prop 8 supporters have going for them- Prop 8 was passed by the voters. And that is a very good, very important point. Whenever the judicial branch overturns the will of the people, we all have an obligation to think twice about the rationale behind it. Even when our knee jerk reaction is to celebrate, take a moment for a sanity check because things may not always shake out in our favor. The Prop 8 supporters were right to bring this issue up and their briefing on the subject ain’t half bad.

That being said, and beyond the “will of the people” argument, I admittedly have a hard time understanding the Proponents’ reasoning. As far as I can tell, they feel that Prop 8 advances California’s interest in “responsible procreation and childbearing.” Stay with me here. They believe that children are better off when raised by two people who are, at least in theory, capable of biologically creating a child. That is, one man and one woman, because kids need both genders to partake in upbringing in order to become functioning members of society. The Proponents also say that Prop 8 reduces “irresponsible procreation”, e.g., there will be less bastards in the world. Therefore, they argue, because same-sex couples are not at risk of “irresponsible procreation” as a matter of biology and society has an interest in procreative sexual activity, there is simply no need to for same gender couples to get married. They also argued that Prop 8 would “protect” their little darlings from being taught in public schools that “same-sex marriage’ is the same as traditional marriage.”

The Ninth Circuit didn’t buy it, saying “[t]here is no rational reason to think that taking away the designation of ‘marriage’ from same-sex couples would advance the goal of encouraging California’s opposite-sex couples to procreate more responsibly.” The court went on to note “[o]nly if Proposition 8 had actually had any effect on childrearing or “responsible procreation” would it be necessary or appropriate for us to consider the legitimacy of Proponents’ primary rationale for the measure…[i]t is implausible to think that denying two men or two women the right to call themselves married could somehow bolster the stability of families headed by one man and one woman.” Did you catch the word “rational”? That’s the level of scrutiny, and in layman’s terms, it means you better have a really really really good reason for that law. I mean really good. Not just the “gay people make me feel ooky” platform.

Anyway, the long and short of it is that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional for two reasons: first, it deprives same-sex couples of the fundamental right to marry, which is guaranteed by the Due Process Clause, and second, it excludes same-sex couples from state-sponsored marriage while allowing opposite-sex couples access to that honored status, in violation of the Equal Protection Clause. This is because even though same gender couples have the same rights statutorily as their hetero counterparts, the Appeals Court focused on the lower court’s finding of fact that “[d]omestic partnerships lack the social meaning associated with marriage “and that the difference between the designation of ‘marriage’ and the designation of ‘domestic partnership’ is meaningful. The court relied heavily on Romer v. Evans, a United States Supreme Court case striking down an Amendment to the Colorado State Constitution that would have prevented anyone anywhere at any time recognizing gays and lesbians as a protected class. In his dissent, Judge Smith disagreed that the burden of denying marriage to lesbians and gays was similar to the burden in Romer and the really really really good reason (e.g. rational basis) was in preserving responsible procreation and optimal parenting. He noted that even though rational basis is the correct level of scrutiny, the fact Proposition 8 eliminates the ability of same-sex couples to enter into an official relationship designated “marriage,” they still have the same basic set of substantive legal rights and attributes traditionally associated with marriage,” so no harm no foul. He also disagreed that the separation of gays and lesbians as domestic partners was different and not as good as marriage.

Here’s the thing. The Court did not (and could not) consider the broader issue of whether gays and lesbians should be allowed to get married. The judges were limited to only determining if Prop 8, as enacted, violated the United States Constitution. The broader question of whether same gender couples should have the right to get married remains unanswered. What is noteworthy is that the district court found that “[t]he campaign to pass Proposition 8 relied on stereotypes to show that same-sex relationships are inferior to opposite-sex relationships.” Television and print advertisements “focused on … the concern that people of faith and religious groups would somehow be harmed by the recognition of gay marriage” and “conveyed a message that gay people and relationships are inferior, that homosexuality is undesirable and that children need to be protected from exposure to gay people and their relationships.” I will be paying very close attention to that issue in future cases. And, I hate to tell you, but Perry won’t be the Roe v. Wade type of landmark case if it’s affirmed (I have every reason to believe it will be). It’s just too narrow. We have a long way to go, kids, before we can put this baby to bed. And it promises to be an exhausting journey. But at least we have a start.


Blasting people on twitter – not cyberstalking!

December 16, 2011

By J. DeVoy

Pundits were concerned earlier this year when the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland brought a criminal action against William Lawrence Cassidy.  His alleged crime?  Posting 8,000 harassing twitter messages about Alyce Zeoli, a buddhist leader in Maryland.  The Court dismissed the Government’s case, as Cassidy’s anonymous speech addressed a topic accorded the highest constitutional protections: Religion.

Admittedly, some of the messages were witty.  Take this poetry, for instance:

Ya like haiku? Here’s one for ya. Long limb, sharp saw, hard drop

Some were more esoteric, such as “A thousand voices call out to (Victim 1) and she cannot shut off the silent scream,” while others got to the point: “Do the world a favor and go kill yourself. P.S. Have a nice day.”

The Court’s Order  is a solid win for the Defendant – and free speech.  Within it, the Court found that 18 U.S.C. § 2261A(2) is unconstitutional as applied to the defendant.  Not only does the First Amendment kick ass, it’s now a tool, albeit a slow-working one, against the federal government’s overcriminalization of daily life.

I strongly encourage reading the whole Order, but most importantly, there’s this:

However, it is questionable whether the same interest exists in the context of the use of the Internet alleged in this case because harassing telephone calls “are targeted towards a particular victim and are received outside a public forum.” United States v. Bowker, 372 F.3d 365, 379 (6th Cir. 2004). Twitter and Blogs are today’s equivalent of a bulletin board that one is free to disregard, in contrast, for example, to e-mails or phone calls directed to a victim. See id. at 378 (contrasting why a federal telephone harassment statute serves a compelling governmental interest and a statute that made it a criminal offense for three or more persons to assemble on a sidewalk and to be “annoying” to a passerby did not serve a compelling governmental interest). (emphasis added)

H/T: EFF


Your morning after screw

December 9, 2011

By Tatiana von Tauber

And if Obama had two boys?

I’m deeply disappointed by the recent decision to eliminate easier access to the so called morning after pill by girls 17 and under. I fully get where Obama gets his mindset from. I’m a parent of 2 girls, one 13 and very pretty.

Obama’s decision to side with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius who overruled scientists at the Food and Drug Administration was a poor one. While he’s coming from a good place, may be a good father and honorable in doing what he thinks most parents would want, he just missed to boat of doing what’s actually in the best interest of young girls rather than what’s in the best interest of a parents’ wish for young girls.  As far as HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, may you have bad traffic and no easy access parking the entire holiday season!  And I mean that.

Nothing, and I mean, nothing is more important to me as a female than ensuring other females have rightful ownership of their reproductive system no matter what their age.  Without our womb, society can’t get very far. It’s the most powerful tool women have and thus, the rest is repeat history. 

State of the female union

The majority of young girls – exampled as 11 and 12 year olds for the poor reasoning labeled “common sense”  which aided the elimination of this pill over the counter,  aren’t that young often enough to discredit the good of the pill to older girls. It blatantly discriminates.  

While it would statistically occur perhaps, the numbers would be small to have  little girls, basically,  just head over to the supermarket by the condoms isle and buy a $50 pill.  This is so ludicrous that you have to be an idiot to side with it if not for political reasons. AND, if young girls did do that, then bravo for them taking pro-active measure to fix their screw up. 

Who to trust when adults don’t give you all the facts?

I have never seen an influx of pro-lifers opting to fund, house or care for the millions of unplanned children of the world.  embryos are great in utero.  They’re fresh potential to mold.  Religion needs followers and governments need taxes.  Someone has to produce human beings at all costs.

“The FDA did not have the data to support a decision of this magnitude,” said Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Pa. “The secretary pointed out obvious deficiencies in the research and acted in the interest of young girls.”

Really?  Of this magnitude?  This pill has been used for decades in Europe and the issue of great magnitude is the subtle and sly attempt to strip females of what has always been rightfully theirs. 

How to Fix this?

Here’s a suggestion then which truly does act in the interest of young girls:

How about yearly comprehensive sex education for boys and girls in the pubic school system mandated by federal and secular standards, not state.  In GA my daughter met several young girls who actually believed they could get pregnant from kissing!  This is sick in a country which claims such global superpower. 

What about introducing reasonably easy access to free or reduced priced condoms or birth control to under aged girls  instead of empty promises of abstinence whilst a nice hard cock stands to seduce.  Perhaps if we reframe the way we view sex and morality the morning after pill can be marketed as an “Oops! Did you miss your birth control pill last night? We understand the heavy responsibilities a vagina and womb bring, so we’re here to help. Plan B.  Here for you when Plan A bombs.” However, because it’s also used and known as an abortion pill, everything changes. 

If God was so intelligent, why didn’t he make it so menses began at 18?  If God can allow pre-teen girls to get a period, the intent is quite frankly, for them to reproduce.  The morality stick should be poking God himself, not our young females. It’s sickening that taxpayers fund government salaries and research to pay for morality treatments as we hush science, logic and individual freedom.


Leaping Lohan! Lindsay’s a Bunny.

December 9, 2011

By Tatiana von Tauber

Lindsay Lohan has posed for Playboy for a whopping $1 million. Ah. Bravo. Not only is this a smart financial move for someone of her failure, it’s also a good career move because these days, being naked and/or sexual is the ticket to increased sales and stardom, temporarily at worst. A rather typical female critique of Lohan’s Playboy spread due out on newsstands Dec. 15th sits on Yahoo’s OMG titled “Lindsay Lohan Playboy cover leaked online”. The author expresses a sarcastic and sickened tone for Lohan’s actions. Sadly, it’s what I’d expect from a female who clearly doesn’t seem to understand and/or respect the distinct difference between Playboy and Penthouse past their covers.

The author referenced that if things don’t work out for Lohan from Playboy she can always go to Penthouse. They are not the same representation of pussy and the assumption that any woman would naturally go from Playboy to Penthouse is pure ignorance and insult. Perhaps the point was to throw Lohan under the bus but by doing so, the author also threw eroticism under there too and that’s just a mean girl thing to do.

I could understand and agree with a derogatory tone for Lohan considering her history but it was for Lohan via posing nude so in essence, the author so elegantly tore up the beauty of eroticism itself and used Lohan as her example only to compare her to other actresses who used their bodies to get ahead: Drew Barrymore, Joan Collins,Charlize Theron, Sharon Stone and Marylin Monroe.

The small list of women here are women who have, however, truly come out on top* so how has their nudity actually diminished their feminine and human value as suggested by many anti-sexually free women to justify an attitude that Playboy and of course eroticism and porn (because mistake number one is placing them in the same category) is basically what desperate actresses and wannabes do to get ahead?

The above video introduces Dominika, a Czech Playboy and Maxim model. I photographed her naked a couple weeks ago. She’s a petite, demure young girl, self-conscious in between shootings but extremely professional and very good at knowing her body to help produce some very sexy photos. I’m pleased. She’s pleased. Client pleased. Everyone comes out satisfied.

This was a job, something she chose to do for whatever reason and it involved her perfect nude body but the moment the lights turned off or the camera was put down, she put on her robe and protected her personal naked self. You see, when you’re on camera, you’re an actress. You have to be to do this kind of work. I’ve photographed many Playboy models and many real women and the common theme for the nudity, the desire for it whether it be for personal reasons, for a man or for money, these women like and/or want to feel sexy and show it. They want to express it.

I’ve watched some of these unfairly judged nude models begin their own companies in once eastern block countries with money they’ve made while traveling the world, an opportunity only their body was able to offer. These young women have made a better life for themselves by using the one thing people want and that’s nudity, sex or some form of either. Really, what people want is eroticism because that is the pulse of life. I don’t understand what is so wrong, bad or dirty about Playboy posing. I think it’s celebratory. It’s a give and take, as life should be and I find too many women just don’t get the point about sex and eroticism and objectivity. There’s too much fear, religious underpinning and/or insecurity looming in feminism, still.

The female body is beautiful and while Lohan is a lost soul and I hope she gets on the right track, and I deeply hate Hollywood ruins beautiful faces, she just made a million bucks. I don’t know about you but I’d gladly take my clothes off for a million dollars. In fact, I’ll take indecent proposals too! Sexual morality and judgment are a waste of time and potential pleasure in a life that is so damn short it takes death for us to remember it.

I love the “leaked” cover of Lohan on Playboy. It’s very, very sexy and shows her as elegant and I will be purchasing the issue. Lohan needed the makeover and I hope her inner self makes a similar jump. The thing about Playboy is that it’s still got style and elegance and class and eroticism in its pages. Some spreads are cheesy ( I still don’t know why you guys like that cheesy shit) but when celebrities come in, the work is usually different and stunning. Cindy Crawford, the iconic supermodel photographed by the late fashion photographer Herb Ritts and Aussie supermodel Elle MacPherson’s spreads were quite beautiful in recollection of past issue’s I’ve seen from the top of my head.

These weren’t desperate women. These were intelligent women using their sexuality and bodies to better their lives and those of their children. If women can’t deal with their own bodily and sexual beauty, then I suggest becoming a nun.

Playboy has helped create stardom for many kinds of women but more importantly, Playboy through Hefner, has managed to give the world the erotic elegance so missing from the dirty sex the Internet brings. I like that. It would be good if American philosophy on beauty, sexuality and eroticism had a little makeover in the elegance department as well.

* OMG author noted Marylin Monroe died of a drug overdose and implies MM wasn’t really “on top” but her eroticism is stronger each decade so the author fails in her point. Isn’t the jury still out on murder vs. overdose?


Establish religion, then tax its followers

November 20, 2011

By Jay Wolman

I’m impressed.  The Department of Agriculture may have violated two First Amendment provisions at once.  As set forth in the November 8, 2011, Federal Register,  there is a new Christmas Tree Promotion Board.  I’m thinking–Establishment clause violation, perhaps?  But, it gets better.  To fund it, there are assessments (i.e. taxes) on Christmas trees.  A tax on Christians.  Free Exercise clause violation, maybe?

So there’s no confusion:

Sec.  1214.3  Christmas tree.

Christmas tree means any tree of the coniferous species, that is  severed or cut from its roots and marketed as a Christmas tree for holiday use.

The USDA does address the Establishment clause question:

Another commenter in opposition raised concerns that the proposed  Order may violate the Establishment Clause. The commenter stated that government speech cannot advocate religion or religious symbols.  USDA considers Christmas trees to be an agricultural commodity which is reported as such in various USDA crop reports and statistical data reports (e.g. 2007 Census of Agriculture, National Agricultural  Statistics Service). The Act in section 512 provides for the establishment of generic promotion, research and information activities for agricultural commodities, including Christmas trees.

I don’t buy it.  Just because it may be an agricultural commodity doesn’t mean that singling it out for special treatment doesn’t violate the Constitution.  If they left it at “any tree of the coniferous species”, I think they could get away with it.  But once they add in the relationship to Christmas itself, therein lies the problem.  But for Christmas, there is no Christmas tree tax.

The USDA can regulate cotton, too.  But that doesn’t give them the power to make a similar Mormon Underwear Promotion Board, or Muslim Prayermat Promotion Board, or Yarmulke Promotion Board, with an attendent assessment.


S.C. Public School Invites Christian Rapper to Perform

September 27, 2011

I understand why people want the government and the public schools to back up their religion. Here you have a bastardization of a 2000 years old cult. It is based upon lies, fairy tales, and superstition. How else are you going to perpetuate this set of beliefs without brainwashing impressionable young kids with it, or getting the government to stamp its seal of approval on it?

If christianity is such a good idea, it ought to sell itself without this blatantly unconstitutional foolishness.

H/T Death and Taxes


Email to an asshat about a free speech issue

September 24, 2011

I’m on a few list servs. I won’t say which one this originated on. But, lets just jump to what I said:

11 muslim students stood up to heckle the Israeli ambassador. Orange county prosecutor charged them with disrupting an event. While they may not have a right to disrupt the speech without being dragged out of the place, a criminal conviction for political speech is bullshit.

And if it had been 11 Yeshiva students disrupting a speech by a Palestinian, they’d get the medal of freedom.

I agree with all the nice things that have been said about Chemerinsky here, but his balls shriveled up into raisins over this event. (It took place at UC Irvine).

The response: It is “bullshit,” and “anti-semitic.”

Lets unpack that…

Bullshit? Maybe. He, you, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I might even change mine, and one day repudiate my own opinion as bullshit.

Anti Semitic?

Don’t you love that one?

Since I’ve been a bit off my game blogging lately, I thought I’d mail one in here and just straight up share what I wrote in response to that.

Dear ______________,

Today, 11 men were convicted of a “crime.” The “crime” was “disrupting a speech.” The speech they disrupted was that of the Israeli ambassador. (source)

The “disruption” lasted about 8 seconds per “criminal.” In total, it was about a minute.

Interrupting him might not have been the most constructive way of making their point, but we cant lose sight of what they did. Why they did it. This was political speech. This was the most sacred kind of speech. And, this target was the least deserving of the law’s protection when speech is concerned — a public figure.

The Israeli ambassador was inconvenienced for less time than it takes to boil an egg.

And yet, for that inconvenience. That indignity. That quasi lese majeste. Eleven men were convicted of a crime.
The men were Muslims… The place is the most shocking part – Orange County, California, USA.

Although I despise the “what next?” rhetorical device… I just so need it here.

What next?

Hecklers at comedy clubs could be dragged out and thrown in the back of a cruiser where a drunk just puked? At least one lawyer would have to go to jail after every hearing. Fox news would essentially be illegal in California. My poor wife and I would probably each be witnesses in criminal trials against each other (privilege be damned!!!)

Criminally prosecuted for interrupting a speech.

We could all be arrested, every day, for this “crime.”

No we couldn’t.

Don’t insult my, or your own, intellect by thinking that this could have happened to anyone. Imagine if this had been a member of the Cuban government up there and some exilos from Miami showed up to yell. Do you think for a minute they would be charged, let alone convicted of a crime? Koreans showing up to voice their displeasure at a dignitary from the Hermit Kingdom? Jews in Skokie shouting down a nazi? Hell, nazis coming to Bensonhurst shouting down a Jew.

No, not even nazis get charged with a crime for merely interrupting a speaker.

And yet, for taking the position that these men were selectively prosecuted. For taking the position that this was all about their ethnicity and the content of their speech, some asshole thinks that I’m being “anti semitic.”

It is unfortunate. Because it is that kind of mentality that is at the root of the very reason these men were at odds with the man on the stage. Both of them have thrown in with their tribe rather than with their species. Like crabs in a pot, needing no lid, they would rather gouge out their own eyes than see through those of the other.

And it is that mentality that makes Palestinians unable to listen to Israelis. It is why Israelis can’t possibly back down to any criticism. It is why there are those who are so blind to their tribe, rather than to their entire human family, who decide that anyone who speaks against their interests in any way must be branded. He must be marked with the label of “anti-semite.”

I don’t really think it is my place to judge, but I’m gonna do it anyway. You reverse the polarity on that position, you don’t get a pretty philosophy. So, perhaps these guys did try and win the debate by shouting down the other speaker. That kind of conduct deserves a flag on the play. But what do you think trying to brand someone as something so abhorrent is? What do you call that, when you know it is a lie, you don’t care that it is a lie, but you say it because you know that it will score nice, cheap, points, and more than half the people who see it as bullshit will be afraid to call your ass out.

What do you call that?

I call that a pussy asshat move. So fuck you sir. Fuck you very much.

And really it is — for two reasons. One, to call oneself a First Amendment attorney and to think it is just that these 11 men were convicted of a crime — not merely removed from the room — and they were convicted not for resisting. Not for doing anything that hurt anyone else.

They.
Interrupted.
A.
Speech.
For.
A.
Minute.

In order to express their opinion on a matter of public concern.

And they were convicted of a crime.

It is sad enough that one would argue against the notion that this is wrong. But, like I said up top, everyone is entitled to their opinion on that. You know where I stand.

But, what a pussy asshat move to try and throw the “big bad bigot” card.

I have tried to think that I was wrong for taking that position. I’ve tried to see it through someone else’s eyes, and the only person I can see with eyes like that is a small minded and fearful person. Someone so insecure, so tepid, so small, that their only defense is to try and lob a bomb. Wanna play rhetoric like that? Here: It is rhetorical terrorism! It strikes at a target that should not be hit, for a reason that doesn’t deserve the energy, and he who employs it has already lost the high ground when they resort to it.

Of course, this is an equal opportunity beta trait. There’s the black guy that screams “racist” to do the same thing. The feminist who whines “sexist” if you disagree with her. You know what, jerkoff?

Those words MEAN SOMETHING.

If you just throw them against anything with which you disagree, you wind up pounding them thin to the point that they don’t mean anything anymore. You can even numb the alarm to those who really are those dangerous things. You create muck in which those dangerous things thrive.

So, I should have added to the end, “not only is a pussy asshat move, but it is anti semitic.”

But, I refrained.


ACLU challenges Nevada’s marriage officiant requirements

March 28, 2011

By J. DeVoy

The ACLU is suing the State of Nevada and Clark County – where Las Vegas is located – over laws that require non-governmental marriage officiants to have a religious affiliation.  While anyone can perform a marriage in Nevada, he or she must obtain a certificate to solemnize the marriage based on the fact that he or she has a religious affiliation.

One of the plaintiffs, Raul Martinez, claims to be an atheist and member of the American Humanist Association.  If successful, the suit would end – or at least compromise – the state-and-religious duopoly over marriage in Nevada.

One of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, Allen Lichtenstein, is a friend of the blog, and we wish him success in this case.  In addition to many other First Amendment and civil liberties-related cases, Allen was recently involved in litigation for handbill distributors, political activists, street preachers and impersonators, so that they could continue their activities on the Las Vegas strip’s casino-owned sidewalks.


As Goes Iowa…

January 5, 2011

By Chad Belville, Guest Satyriconista

Iowa, a square state in the Heartland, is one of the few states in the US that allows any two adults of legal age to marry, regardless of gender. Unlike every other state where Supreme Courts found that government should legally recognize the unions of two same-sex adults, the Iowa decision was unanimous and shot down all arguments against limiting legal recognition, including those of tradition, religious bias, and the red herring argument that removing the gender restriction of two adults to enter into a bi-lateral contract will lead to allowing persons to enter into contracts with plants, animals, or upend the entire bi-lateral nature of the marriage license and allow polygamous marriages. The decision was well-written and should be a foundation for all other states to follow.

Immediately following the decision, the usual right-wing activists vowed to reverse it and take those rights away with an amendment to the Iowa Constitution. This requires approval by both House and Senate in two consecutive sessions of the Legislature followed by a popular vote. Democrats in control of both chambers refused to bring the issue to the floor, thus maintaining the equal rights of all adult citizens.
This past November, Republicans took control of the Iowa House of Representatives, who vowed to pass a bill that could eventually send the issue to the voters. The Iowa Senate remained in control of the Democrats and the Leader of the Senate, Mike Gronstal, has vowed not to bring this discriminatory amendment for a vote. Senator Gronstal can effectively keep such an insidious vote at bay for this legislative term but what happens beyond 2012 remains a mystery. His position is that civil rights of minorities should never be subject to approval by a popular vote, and he is absolutely correct.

As more time passes, more people realize gay people are not imported from far-away lands to indoctrinate kindergarteners but instead are their friends, neighbors, and relatives. Attitudes change and the urgency to take away the legal right to not testify against a same-sex spouse fades. These right-wing wackos know that time is not on their side; they know that if they do not pass constitutional amendments right now their battles will be lost as public opinion turns against them. Massachusetts has a similar system of amendment; after passing once and failing the second time through both Houses the issue died off. The fanatics moved on to take away or prevent establishment of rights for gay couples in other states where their shrieking could be effective.

In the State of Iowa, one man really stands in their way. Senator Gronstal’s position on equality and civil rights has painted a target on his back for the social conservatives who wish to turn back time. The National Organization for Marriage will expend millions of dollars to unseat him as punishment for opposing their bigoted beliefs, regardless of whether or not they can ever succeed in passing an amendment through both Houses in consecutive sessions. They led a successful campaign to remove 3 of the 7 Justices from the bench of the Iowa Supreme Court so their threats must be taken seriously.

Over the next two years, tremendous pressure will be put on Senator Gronstal to allow a vote on the floor of the Iowa Senate. Groups that are friendly only to Ozzie and Harriet-style families but not any others will pour money into anti-gay campaigns in an attempt to roll back the rights of a very small minority for the sake of their religious purity. Iowa is a small state, and the money from outside organizations will have a serious effect on the outcome. For now, equality in marriage is the law of the land in Iowa, but it is extremely vulnerable. The old saying is that “So goes Iowa, so goes the country” which used to apply to Presidential primaries but applies here and now to the issue of equal rights in the eyes of government. I have donated directly to Senator Gronstal’s campaign and to OneIowa, the umbrella civil rights organization that is countering NOM’s campaign of bigotry. I will continue to donate all of my equal rights contributions to Iowa organizations because the battle there is so acute and my donation dollars can do the most good. While I support things like the Employment Non Discrimination Act, the outcome of national equal rights activism is not on such a tiny fulcrum as in Iowa. I am asking anyone that will listen to join me in donating to the campaign of Senator Gronstal and OneIowa where small donations WILL make a difference.

http://www.oneiowa.org/

http://mikegronstal.com/


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