Voice in the Wire

December 16th, 2008

Late in the evening of December 6th, in the Exarcheia district of central Athens, 15 year old Alexandros Grigoropoulos was out with friends. Shortly after 9pm the group became part of a confrontation with members of the Greek Police. Alexandros was shot and killed.

In the days following the killing Alexandros became a symbol of a growing frustration among Greek youth over the country’s growing economic problems, rising unemployment, and a general perception of an inefficient and corrupt Greek government.

Riots in Athens over the death quickly spread like through out the country and then through out the whole of Europe.

The speed at which the riots spread has in part been attributed to organizers using text messaging and the internet as a means of spreading their message and setting up meeting locations. In an article to the Associated Press, Paul Have wrote…

At least some of the protests were organized over the Internet, showing how quickly the message of discontent can be spread, particularly among tech-savvy youth. One Web site Greek protesters used to update each other on the locations of clashes asserted there have been sympathy protests in nearly 20 countries.

This isn’t the first time we have seen the internet become a tool of the disenfranchised as a means of organizing protests.

When California passed Proposition 8 on November 4th, a wave of Anti-Prop 8 web sites such as Join the Impact, appeared on the web as a means of directing information to protesters and to organize events such as the Nationwide protest of November 15th and upcoming December 20th “Light Up The Night For Equality“.

Even in tightly controlled China, the internet has been used to organize people to effect change in government policies and stop construction of a chemical plant.

The internet is still basically in its infancy and the genie is out of the bottle. It’s difficult to imagine just how the civil rights movement of the 1960′s would have progressed had the internet been available. Imagine watching Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech as a live web cast or if Rosa Parks could have texted all her friends to join her in sitting at the front of buses all over the country on the same day.

Often, as individuals, we feel somewhat powerless against those with power, whether it be government, or the vocal majority. We sit in our homes feeling sorry for ourselves and saying “I can’t do anything about my situation so I’ll just make the best of it.” What we don’t realize is that we are rarely if ever truly alone.

Cross posted at The Pajama Pundit

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Prop 8

Prop 8 Tape

imageProponents of California’s Proposition 8 which revoked the rights of LGBT citizens to marry filled a motion in the 9th Circuit court to have all of the video recordings that were made during the trial returned after retiring Judge Vaughn Walker used a 2 minute clip of the trial in a lecture at the University of Arizona on cameras in the court. The lecture was later broadcast on C-Span.

Proponents claim that Walker violated the court seal that he placed on the recordings as well as the Supreme Court’s ban on broadcasting of the tapes.

Walker responded by explaining how he used the clip and that he felt he did not violate the orders but would return the tapes if so requested.

On the same day that the House held their anti-gay propaganda hearing in DC, Olsen and Boise submitted a motion stating that the tapes were part of the public record and should be released.

Now, the Associated Press, along with 12 other news and media organizations have also filed a motion asking for the video to be released.

One has to wonder if the Prop 8 proponents are kicking themselves for even bringing it up. As Alex Blaze at the Bilerico Project states…

What is interesting to me is that the trial wasn’t supposed to be broadcast and there was a large fracas made about not letting video get out back when the trial was happening last year. The Supreme Court’s ruling against broadcasting the trial has expired, so what Walker did is legal.

But with the AP is asking for the tapes just now, just after the right filed to have them taken away from Walker, I have to wonder: did the AP, et al., just find out that video existed as a result of the Walker being asked to hand over the tapes?

If so, perhaps they should have remained content to see two minutes of those tapes used college presentations about courts.

Proponents claim that if the video is made available to the public that the witnesses could be put in jeopardy; and while LGBT folks are beaten and murdered almost on a daily basis in this country for simply being who they are, proponents have not been able to provide any proof that any such threat actually exists.

The only conclusion I can really come to is that what proponents are really afraid of is that evidence that their desire to strip LGBT’s of our right to marriage is based solely on discrimination and religion, with no rational merit, will get out into the hands of the public. A public that they are starting to loose.

Breaking! Prop 8 – Unconstitutional

Perry v. Schwarzenegger – Proposition 8 Unconstitutional

Closing Arguments – Prop 8

image Today in the Federal 9th Circuit court, the closing arguments in Perry v. Schwarzenegger will be heard. I don?t expect Judge Walker to actually rule on the case for some time.

A week or so ago Walker issued a list of questions to both sides, who have now submitted their responses.

Plaintiff’s Response

Defendant?s Response

From the responses to the questions we can get a sense of the arguments that both sides are going to make in their closing remarks.

Those who support Prop 8 continue to rely heavily on the claim that the state has an inherent interest in making sure that marriage is about procreation, that marriage is nothing more than a means for creating babies. It sort of goes back to the Christian idea that sex shouldn?t be for pleasure, that it?s only purpose is to reproduce. Unfortunately that idea has always been contrary to human nature.

They also cling to to the idea that marriage has always been between a man and woman, but to believe that is to ignore thousands of years of history and the cultures of civilizations, some of which helped lay down the very foundations that make up the idea of Democracy, such as Ancient Greece. Even the Roman Emperor Nero was married to another man. Homosexuality and same sex marriage weren?t outlawed in the Christian controlled lands of the Eastern Roman Empire until the 5th Century and there have been many other civilizations since then that have had recognized and legal forms of same sex relationships

Plaintiff’s will argue that harm is done to families of same sex couples by ban?s on marriage equality. There is significant evidence of this, from discrimination faced by same sex parents and their children, to the extra costs associated with the legal contracts that same sex couples have to establish in order to secure even a small portion of the rights that marriage brings to a family, contracts that are easily and often overturned by other family members intent on not accepting the same sex couple?s love.

And while I?s fairly confident that Judge Walker will rule that Prop 8 violates the US Constitution, that conclusion is not a given, and no mater how he rules, the matter will be far from resolved. The ruling will undoubtedly be appealed no mater what, which would presumably take the case all the way to the US Supreme Court. Which leads to concern in regards to the conservative leaning court and the possibility of setting the march to equality back decades.

But there is hope. Attitudes are changing, especially among the young. More and more of us are refusing to stand locked in a closet. We live our lives openly in order for our friends and neighbors to get to know us. So that they can see that our lives are no different than theirs, that we not the monsters that groups like the National Organization for Marriage, or NARTH, or Mass Resistance claim that we are. We are simply American?s who deserve the right to live our lives as our own.

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