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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Friday NOM-sense

Friday NOM-Sense: A Picard Momment

imageYour probably wondering what our good Captain Jean-Luc Picard has to do with this week’s Friday NOM-sense. Give me a moment and I’ll explain.

This week’s Friday NOM-Sense article comes to us from the NOM funded Ruth Institute. In a recent quiz they asked a question in relation to a study put out by the William’s Institute in December of 2007 (4 years ago). A study that relied on information from the 2000 census (10 years ago).

What percentage of US children lives in households headed by same sex couples?

And apparently the correct answer was less than 0.4%. They then go through the math of how they come up with the figure. Please note that accurate census information regarding same-sex couples wasn’t collected in the 2000 census or in the 2007 snapshot. In fact, the Bush administration had ruled that same sex couples would not be counted in the 2010 census, a ruling that was overturned by the Obama administration. According to the Huffington Post article discussing Obama’s decision to count same sex couples.

the issue is that some same-sex couples in civil unions or domestic partnerships already identified themselves as husbands or wives, both in the 2000 census and in the annual American Community Survey that the bureau produces each year.

Which means that in those census surveys at least some same sex couples in civil unions and domestic partnerships (the types most likely to have children) would have identified as married since there is no civil unions or domestic partnership boxes to check. That means that those couples were left out of the Williams Institute survey.

But frankly, regardless of what the actual numbers of same sex couples raising children actually are, their errors in research and math are not why this ends up being this weeks NOM-sense. At the end of the post Betsy makes this comment.

Given that less than four tenths of one percent of children is being raised in same sex households, it hardly seems unkind to say that this represents an exceptional situation. The law might justly treat this as an exception.

So apparently since only 0.4% of US children are raised by same sex couples, it’s ok to bar those families from the institution of civil marriage. As if there is some magic number somewhere that says if it’s this many it’s ok to discriminate, if it’s more than that you can’t. Which brings me back to our man the Captain.

In the movie Star Trek Insurrection the Federation and the Son’a have teamed up to secretly relocate the Ba’ku from their planet against their will. When Picard figures out what is going on he confronts Admiral Dougherty who responds with.

Jean-Luc, we’re only moving six hundred people.

To which Picard comes back with and with which I ask Betsy of the Ruth Institute.

How many people does it take before it becomes wrong? Hmm? A thousand? Fifty thousand? A million? How many people does it take, Admiral!?

How many people does it have to be before robing them of their civil rights and human dignity is wrong?

Update: The Ruth Institute has deleted my comment where I asked them the question of how many. But that’s ok, I have a screenshot.

Update 2: After asking them if the reason they deleted my question was because they didn’t have an answer the put it back up. Now lets see if they actually have an answer.

Friday NOM-sense is a new weekly column at Vast Variety that tackles the lies of the National Organization for Marriage and it’s affiliates because they refuse to participate in civil debate on their own blogs.

Friday NOM-sense

NOM quotes the following clip from a Chicago Tribune article discussing the recent decision by the Catholic Charities of Rockford to end their adoption and foster care programs due to the new Civil Unions law in the state of Illinois.

Benjamin Wolf, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois who represents juvenile state wards as part of a court-monitored consent decree with DCFS, said the decision was troubling, especially in Rockford where there is a high turnover of child welfare workers and racial and economic tensions.

“Rockford would not be the place I would’ve chosen to start these transitions,” Wolf said. “I am very sorry that they would give a greater priority to their commitment to continue discriminating than the health and welfare of Illinois children.”

With the following comment above it.

An ACLU lawyer basically admits that failure to provide religious protections will hurt children:

But as always NOM is twisting the truth of what Mr. Wolf said in attempt to show that some how recognizing the civil rights of gay people is a burden on Christians. NOM completely ignores the last line of the section they quoted.

I am very sorry that they would give a greater priority to their commitment to continue discriminating than the health and welfare of Illinois children

What Mr. wolf is really saying is that it is disheartening that a charity organization that provides much needed adoption and foster care services appears to feel that discriminating against the LGBT community is far more important to them than caring for children in need of a good home. NOM tries to wrap religious liberty around around their discrimination policies. The problem with this argument is that Adoption and Foster care are not religious activities. They are state controlled activities and anytime you deal with the state you have to abide by the state’s non-discrimination laws, which means that they have to accept applications from Lesbians and Gays. This is no way violates the religious liberty of the organization. The religious liberty clause in the US Constitution means that your free to practice any religion you choose. It does not however give you carte blanch to use your religion as an excuse to discriminate against people.

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