Random Headlines — License to Discriminate Edition

Dear people of Indiana: Most of you are great, caring people. Your governor is a jackass.
Dear people of Indiana: Most of you are great, caring people. Your governor is a jackass.

The Atlantic – What makes Indiana’s religious freedom law different?
The Washington Post
– ‘FIX THIS NOW’ says Indy Star, saying the ‘religious freedom’ law has done ‘enormous harm.’
Right Wing Watch – Indiana activist urges Gov. Pence not to clarify that the religious freedom law won’t allow discrimination.
Think Progress – The true intent of Indiana’s ‘religious freedom’ bill according to the people that helped write it.
Raw Story – CNN host exposes Indiana law backer as a gay conversion therapy promoter.
The Daily Beast – 2 states ban official trips to Indiana.
LGBTQ Nation – Top Indiana GOP lawmakers throw Gov. Mike Pence under the bus.
The Huffington Post – GOP mayor of Indianapolis signs executive order protecting the LGBT community.

Vox Day Blames Germanwings Flight 9525 Crash on ‘Sluts’

Andreas Lubitz
Germanwings Flight 9525 Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz

On Tuesday, March 24th, the world was horrified to learn that Germanwings Flight 9525, an international passenger flight traveling from Barcelona to Düsseldorf, had crashed in the French Alps, killing all 150 passengers on board. In the days since the tragedy information about the flight and the crew has slowly trickled forth. According to the audio recording from the black box — which was found damaged and twisted from the impact — the pilot had been locked out of the cockpit while the flight’s co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, deliberately steered the plane into oblivion.

Questions have arisen as to what would have motivated Lubitz to kill himself and over one hundred innocent passengers. Was it terrorism? French officials seem to have ruled that out in short order. Depression, perhaps?

Misogynist author Theodore Beale, a.k.a. Vox Day, had a very different take on this disaster, and blamed women of course. If “sluts” had just slept with Lubitz — or, indeed, any number of male mass murderers or serial killers — perhaps thousands of lives could be saved each year:

Why he did it, no one knows yet, but it won’t surprise me to learn that Lubritch was a deeply angry and embittered Omega male. There is a reason Omegas frighten women merely by existing; they are capable of terrible and merciless acts of self-destruction. You can see Lubritch is a small and prematurely balding young man, possibly somewhat overweight, his occupation indicates that he was more intelligent than the norm, and the uncertain smile he has on his face tends to indicate low socio-sexual rank.

Now, obviously no one else was responsible for Lubritch’s actions if it indeed was Omega rage at work. He alone bears the blame. But it is somewhat haunting to think about how many lives might be saved each year if the sluts of the world were just a little less picky and a little more equitable in their distribution of blowjobs.

As a 28 year-old airline pilot, Lubritch would likely have been married in a more traditionally structured society. It’s not impossible that the Germanwings deaths represent more of the indirect costs of feminism.

We can add this “Omega male” nonsense to the long list of pseudoscientific beliefs Vox Day adheres to, including Creationism, autism-causing vaccines, gay conversion therapy, and the intellectual inferiority of women.

Random Headlines — 3/27/15

Raw Story – Texas woman throws Molotov cocktail outside Austin Planned Parenthood.
Talking Points Memo – Who is the mysterious lawyer behind California’s ‘kill all gays’ drive?
Think Progress – Retired St. Louis Cardinals player was punched and had racial slurs shouted at him at a St. Louis gas station.
Denver Post – GOP aghast at Gordon Klingenschmitt’s act-of-God comment in baby’s death.
Mother Jones – Indiana just made it easier to discriminate against gay people — and just about anyone else.
VICE – Former gang members are trying to snuff out violence in New York City.
The Guardian – Arizona law requires abortion providers to tell women the procedure is reversible.
Feministing – Report finds 80 percent of anti-Muslim attacks in France are against women.
The Nation – A rare victory for black voting rights in the South.

Random Headlines — 3/21/15

Salon – Crisis pregnancy center tells woman her IUD is “your baby,” plus countless other lies.
AlterNet – Jeb Bush implicitly endorses Georgia bill that would legalize discrimination against gay people.
Raw Story – An LA teacher told students Lincoln was a ‘nigger-lover’ and Michael Brown ‘got what he deserved.’
LGBTQ Nation – Pope Francis to lunch with gay, transgender, and HIV+ prison inmates.
VICE – A judge decided that the Eric Garner grand jury proceedings should stay secret.
Talking Points Memo – Frat suspended over notebook with disturbing entries on rape and lynching.
Hatewatch – Court papers detail alleged threats from a Holocaust denier.
The Nation – What it feels like to be a ‘demographic threat’ to Israel.

The Ghost of Henry Hyde: The Republicans’ War on Abortion Funding

Henry Hyde

It has been eight years since Henry Hyde’s heart finally gave out at the age of 83. Eight years since mourners gathered on a frosty December day to pay their respects to the late Illinois congressman. Cardinal Francis George of Chicago eulogized him as a man who had “good instincts” about “particular children who have not been born but are alive in their mother’s wombs.” John Boehner, our current soporific Speaker of the House, proclaimed him to be a “devoted husband” who “led by treating all men and women with dignity and respect, regardless of who they were or what they believed.”

“Henry Hyde was not just a congressional hero. He was an American hero. And on a personal note, he was my hero.”

Hagiographies of this nature were so commonplace in newspapers and online articles that one could almost be forgiven for forgetting the various stains on Rep. Hyde’s record. He was, after all, the same Henry Hyde who carried on a five year extramarital affair with an attractive young hairdresser named Cherie Snodgrass; one which only ended after Cherie’s husband Fred confronted Jeannie Hyde about her husband’s philandering. Years later, while this “devoted husband” was hypocritically working to impeach President Clinton, Fred Snodgrass still blamed Hyde for having “broke up” his family. Yet far worse was the havoc his policies wreaked upon millions of women and their families.

Rep. Hyde, a devout Roman Catholic, was a vociferous foe of abortion who publicly lionized Pro-Life Action League founder Joseph Scheidler — the so-called “Godfather” of the pro-life movement whose 1985 handbook, Closed: 99 Ways to Stop Abortion, became a go-to guide for abortion opponents who wished to forcibly shut down clinics. Referring to Scheidler as a “hero,” Hyde remarked, “There are some people with more courage than others. If people had obstructed entrances to Dachau or Auschwitz, there might have been fewer people incinerated there.”

In 1976, Hyde proposed a rider to the fiscal 1977 appropriations bill for the Department of Health and Human Services which would eliminate a key source of funding for abortion procedures. Known as the “Hyde Amendment,” this provision barred the use of Medicaid funds to reimburse low-income women for the cost of an abortion, with only a limited exception for cases in which the physical health of the mother was endangered. Later incarnations of the Hyde Amendment, namely from the fiscal 1978 version onward, at least added exceptions for rape and incest, in addition to physical health. Those exceptions were still limited. The fiscal 1980 Hyde Amendment, for example, provided that an exception would be granted for rape or incest so long as the victim promptly reported the crime to “a law enforcement agency or public health service.”

The purpose of such a provision was to undercut the landmark decision in Roe v. Wade, decided three years prior, and Rep. Hyde appeared comfortable with using poor women as pawns in order to do so. When it came time to tack the Hyde Amendment to the next year’s appropriations bill, Hyde brushed aside charges of classism by telling colleagues that he “certainly would like to prevent, if I could legally, anybody having an abortion: a rich woman, a middle-class woman or a poor woman.” “Unfortunately,” he said, “the only vehicle available is the… Medicaid bill.”

There is no doubt that Rep. Hyde was motivated by his devout Catholicism while drafting the amendment, and members of the Catholic Church supported his endeavors to stop the “moral evil” of abortion. This may explain why, in 2006,  Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI named Hyde, a known adulterer, a Knight of St. Gregory. This fact did not go unnoticed by the amendment’s opponents, either. When the Hyde Amendment was officially challenged in court by Cora McRae, a resident of New York and Medicaid recipient who wished to undergo an abortion during her pregnancy’s first trimester, among her claims was that the Hyde Amendment violated our Constitution’s separation of church and state.

In Harris v. McRae (1980) the Supreme Court rejected this and several other arguments against the constitutionality of the Hyde Amendment. Justice Stewart authored the majority opinion, declaring that while a woman does have a constitutional right to terminate her pregnancy “it simply does not follow that a woman’s freedom of choice carries with it a constitutional entitlement to the financial resources to avail herself of the full range of protected choices.” Specifically addressing the religious element of the Hyde Amendment he wrote: “In sum, we are convinced that the fact that the funding restrictions in the Hyde Amendment may coincide with the religious tenets of the Roman Catholic Church does not, without more, contravene the Establishment Clause.”

The impact on low-income women was disastrous, and remains so to this day. An estimated 42% of women who have abortions live under the federal poverty line, and the rate of unintended pregnancies among poor women is five times higher than that of higher income women. Since the rates of unintended pregnancy and abortion are greater for black and Hispanic women, the Hyde Amendment has a disproportionate impact on women of color as well. Only seventeen states have policies which allow for their own funds to cover the cost of most or all medically necessary abortions. Women who are not fortunate enough to live in one of those states often have difficulty coming up with the money to afford an abortion while still having enough left over to cover food, rent, and other expenses.

That the cost of an abortion increases with gestational age only compounds the problem, and often forces women who cannot come up with the money to simply carry the unwanted pregnancy to term. In fact, one in four women who would otherwise qualify for a Medicaid-funded abortion give birth when funding is unavailable. Since the enactment of the original Hyde Amendment, at least one million women have been denied their right to this basic,  life-saving medical procedure.

The Hyde Amendment continues to be renewed every year, even after its namesake’s demise eight years prior. And while Hyde’s carcass lays decomposing in Assumption Cemetery, his phantom presence can still be felt. Similar funding restrictions have been placed on women whose medical insurance is provided by the federal government (e.g., federal employees, military personnel, etc.), women in federal correctional facilities, and, until President Obama lifted the restriction in 2009, women who reside in the District of Columbia.

And he continues to haunt us as Republicans successfully derailed a vital anti-sex trafficking bill. The Combat Human Trafficking Act of 2015 would force pimps and johns involved in human trafficking to pay for a restitution fund for their victims. Republicans, unsurprisingly, slipped in Hyde Amendment language which would bar those same funds from being used on abortions except in the notable cases of rape, incest and protecting the life of the mother. This would make life much harder for women and girls who have been physically and sexually exploited by making them prove they were raped (or that their life is in danger) in order to have an abortion. Democrats are now refusing to vote on the bill so long as it contains an anti-abortion provision, and far right media outlets have deliriously seized upon this in order to paint them as the real villains.

To be sure, that the Democrats skimmed this anti-abortion provision without really reading it was unimaginably stupid. But the GOP’s desire to crush reproductive rights for the most marginalized women in society is far more repugnant.

One thing remains certain, though: So long as the right robs poor women of their right to choose, and continues their “death by a thousand cuts” strategy for eliminating Roe once and for all, Henry Hyde’s abominable legacy will live on.

Random Headlines — 3/12/15

Al Jazeera English – #LetsTalkMen campaign on male victims of domestic violence backfires.

Jacobin – Fifty years after its release, the Moynihan Report is still being used to attack the black poor.

The New Civil Rights Movement – Utah legislature passes extraordinary LGBT nondiscrimination bill by a huge margin.

Talking Points Memo – Texas GOP lawmaker hangs sign identifying as a ‘former fetus.’

VICE – Did Denver police really shoot Jessie Hernandez out of self-defense?

The New York Times – Ferguson police chief, Thomas Jackson, steps down amid criticism.

Think Progress – Catholic Church claims it can refuse to pay victims of sex abuse because of religious freedom.

Random Headlines — 3/11/15

Mother Jones – Why are U.S. taxpayers subsidizing right-wing Israeli settlers?

The Raw Story – Arkansas Republican gave adopted girls to a rapist because they were ‘possessed by demons.’

SPLC – Black Hole: The most violently racist Internet content is no longer found on sites like Stormfront or VNN.

Salon – This 21-year-old woman faces decades in prison for trying to escape her abuser.

LGBTQ Nation – Nearly one in six Americans support marriage equality.

Talking Points Memo – What conservatives willfully ignore when they cry ‘tyranny.’

Right Wing Watch – Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach says it’s “not a huge jump” to think Obama could ban criminal prosecution of black people.

Politico – Former Rep. Cynthia McKinney boosts comedian with anti-Semitic history.

AlterNet – Texas frat forbids gays, Mexicans, and interracial dating.

Random Headlines — 3/04/15

The New York Times – Department of Justice finds Ferguson police routinely violate the rights of blacks.

The Independent – Fewer big US companies are run by women than by guys named John.

Talking Points Memo – Fox guest Mark Levin says with Obama there’s more ‘rape’ than ever before in modern times.

Jacobin – The recent police killing of a homeless man in Los Angeles shows how the capitalist state treats the marginalized.

Think Progress – GOP presidential hopeful Ben Carson says homosexuality is a choice, cites prison rape as proof.

Vox – The one sentence you need to understand France’s anti-Semitism crisis.

The Raw Story – Alex Jones says ‘bank robber type’ liberals plot to ‘kill everybody’ when nobody’s looking.

Right Wing Watch – Louie Gohmert claims that Obama is part of the ‘Ayatollah Caucus.’