Gay Briefs Obstruct Sodomy Position
Urgent Action to Free Billy Nessen
A Roadmap Paved with Bad Intentions
QUIT! Zaps Film Festival
The MOCHA Column
Estee Slaughter Killer Products
Young Queer Harassed for Outing Barbie
Update on Stephen Funk
The Last Medical Center Article?
Discrimination in Fashion
From New York: Operation Homeland Resistance
What It’s Really Like: Or, 32 Bones
Israeli government vs. the ISM
Progressive Queer Listserve
No Justice in Oakland
How Philip Morris Schemed to Derail AIDS Movement
Recall the budget: Remember the people
Fan Letter from Some Flounder
Direct Action: The Novel
Many Amerikans wondered why it took so long for the U.S. Supreme Court to reach its decision in the Lawrence v. Texas gay sex case. It is now clear that a flood of briefs from the gay community caused a back up in the sodomy trial.
UltraViolet has obtained exclusive excerpts from these friends of the court.
The Log Cabin Club, a group of gay republicans, argued the strict constructionist approach and tried to recreate the Founding Father’s sodomy position. Chris Bowman of San Francisco offered to dress as Ben Franklin but forgot his kite.
Dennis Peron, medical marijuana advocate, supported the right of two consenting adults to have sex in the privacy of their own home and said, “it was a pleasure to address the High court.”
SoulForce and Metropolitan Community Church filed a joint brief asking the court to reverse the Bowers v. Hardwick decision and “turn the other cheek.”
Mary Cheney, lesbian daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney said that “if the court approves gay sex, then maybe my parents will release me from an undisclosed location.”
The Canadian Travel Ministry argued that a lack of sodomy in Texas would reduce gay honeymoons in Texas from zero to zero.
Queers for Affirmative Action wrote that “a ban on gay sex violated equal treatment under the law. Everyone is getting screwed these except us.”
Bay Area Career Women objected to the legal term sodomy covering all gay sex. “When we think of sodomy, we don’t think of two women having sex.” Justice Clarence Thomas was visibly moved by that argument.
A group of “straight acting” men called Only Hiding Not Outing (Oh No!) told the court that sodomy laws keep some “homosexuals” in the closet. Justice David Souter looked moved as he pulled his Calvin Klein black robe from his Power Puff Girl knapsack.
UltraViolet has our own briefs and plans to expose them at this years pride parade.
Billy Nessen, a u.s. journalist (and long-time activist) is in great danger in Indonesia. Last month, the Indonesian military commenced a major offensive against the Free Aceh Movement (the GAM). At that time, Billy was traveling with and writing about the GAM, and is now trapped in the fighting. Last week he attempted to enter a government controlled area, was fired upon and fled, losing his camera, computer, and passport.
The Indonesian military is widely known for brutality in East Timor. Nessen is the last international journalist in the war zone. Major General Endang Suwarya, the head of the martial law administration in Aceh, has made threatening comments, refused to promise Nessen safe passage, and insisted that he “give himself up.” The number of Aceh civilians that have been killed is unknown, but two German tourists were shot by the military, and on June 17, an Indonesian TV cameraman was found dead in Aceh, his hands tied and his eyes and mouth taped shut.
The Committee to Protect Journalists, faculty and staff at the Columbia School of Journalism, the San Francisco Local of the National Writers Union, Media Alliance, and Billy’s friends and family are all working to get him home safely.
In the 1980’s Billy Nessen was very active in the Central America solidarity movement in the Bay Area. He is perhaps best known for being charged with conspiracy to tear up the railroad tracks at a demonstration after Brian Willson’s legs were amputated when a train ran over them at a vigil outside the Concord naval weapons station.
Please send faxes today to: (a sample letter is below)
Ralph Boyce, u.s. ambassador to Indonesia, 011-6221-386-2259
Soemadi D.M. Brotodiningrat, Indonesian ambassador to the u.s., 202-775-5365.
For more information, contact the Committee to Protect Journalists, or email email@example.com.
I am aware that U.S. journalist William Nessen is in great danger in Aceh province, Indonesia.
It is the international right of journalists to travel freely and interview who they choose in the course of their work.
It is the responsibility of the U.S. and Indonesian governments to uphold these rights.
The U.S. has a responsibility to send a ranking member of the U.S. embassy to escort William Nessen out of the fighting and the Indonesian government must allow Nessen to leave the country without injury, arrest, or interrogation.
(Ed’s note: Billy was freed on August 3. Thanks to all who wrote letters)
George W. Bush is a president who does not like history. We know that, he doesn’t like anything you had to study in school, and who can blame him? But he especially doesn’t like history for two reasons: First, he’s determined that the rules of civil conduct, honed over centuries of brutal tyrants running roughshod over their own and neighboring populations, are not going to apply to him. So he doesn’t want anyone to remember where they came from. Second, he doesn’t want anyone to notice that the guys he’s got running the world now are all veterans of Watergate, Contragate, Enrongate and other shining moments in u.s. history. But of course, there’s a historical precedent for that too. An Israeli acquaintance, who is fascinated by Hitler, reminded me the other day that Hitler was imprisoned and otherwise scorned by German society until for various reasons, the entire society became mentally ill.
So it’s no surprise that he unveiled his “roadmap to peace” for israel and Palestine without uttering the word “Oslo.” It’s clear that no one on his team intends to learn from that experience. When all is said and done, and I for one certainly said (or wrote) a lot of words during the Oslo negotiations, there were three reasons Oslo failed to produce a peace deal: the right of refugees to return, dismantling illegal israeli settlements, shared control of Jerusalem. And now, according to the newspapers at least, there are three things that are not on the table: the right of refugees to return, dismantling most israeli settlements, and what will happen to Jerusalem.
And to “ride herd” on this process, bush has resuscitated Elliott Abrams, a Reagan appointee who pled guilty to lying to Congress regarding the Iran-Contra scandal, opposed the Oslo peace process and called for Washington to “stand by Israel,” rather than act as a neutral mediator between Israel and the Palestinians.
Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas), who was hand picked by the u.s. and israel to play this game, is, according to Ali Abunimah of Electronic Intifada, “widely perceived among Palestinians themselves as one of the most notoriously corrupt individuals in the Palestinian Authority. Soon after the Authority was established in Gaza, construction began on a lavish $1.5 million villa for Abbas, funded by unknown sources, and in the midst of some of the world’s most wretched poverty.…Abbas is also deeply mistrusted among Palestinians for his authorship along with senior Israelis of various ‘peace plans’ that relinquish fundamental Palestinian rights and maintain the occupation intact albeit under another name. It was Abbas’ idea to take the dusty village of Abu Dis, rename it “Al Quds” and then to hand the entire city of Jerusalem over to Israel. Abbas is frequently celebrated by such figures as Ha’aretz commentator Akiva Eldar for his apparent willingness to repudiate Palestinian refugees’ right of return.”
When I heard that prime minister ariel sharon (aka The Butcher) said “The occupation must end,” one day and then the next day said he “misspoke,” I thought, “Oh my god, this guy is smart.” Because I knew that he didn’t change his mind, and it was no slip of the tongue. He masterminded the massacre of 3,500 or more refugees; he knows how to plan. He knew when he said it he would take it back the next day. He knew it would get reported on the front page of the international press when he said it, and less prominently when he took it back. So he was giving himself legitimacy as a sudden “dove” at least with amerikans, who, we have already established, do not believe in history, while signaling to his own party that he didn’t really mean it. Do not be in doubt: The Butcher is really smart. And that’s a bad mix with bush, who really is dumb. Deeg disagrees with me on this; but I think bush is too dumb to notice how smart The Butcher is. In fact, he might have convinced himself sharon’s nickname is The Busher.
The only saving grace is that Palestinian President Yasir Arafat (remember him?) is even smarter. You doubt it? He didn’t remain free and alive for thirty years in Lebanon and Libya, stay in power throughout the tremendously unpopular Oslo process, and live through the last three years, without being smart. Now he is showing his genius by bowing out, letting the israelis and u.s. believe they are calling the shots by getting Abu Mazen to be the one making promises he cannot deliver on, letting Abu Mazen be the one to try to end the intifada without giving the armed factions anything they want, and to try to sell the people a peace plan that does not give them freedom. So when it’s all over, presumably his rival will have destroyed himself, and he will be unsullied by the process.
Meanwhile, the israelis have entered Phase II of the Apartheid Wall construction, and are proceeding to tear up land and isolate villages deep inside the West Bank. If they are able to do this, any supposed Palestinian state will be a joke, since Palestinians will have to go through magnetic gates controlled by israelis to get from one village to the next. And of course, issues like who controls the water and the airspace, and who has responsibility for cleaning up the huge toxic mess the settlements and the army have made of the land, have yet to be mentioned.
So who thinks that the road map will lead anywhere but Oz (hopefully not the Oz of the prison television series, but it sure looks like it)? Not the israelis, and not the Palestinians.
If you want some actual info on the roadmap, there are lots of good articles including:
“The Guaranteed Failure of the Roadmap,” by Tanya Rinehart, http://nonprofitnet.ca/wao/wao.php?show&927
“A Roadmap to What and Where?”, by Edward Said, http://www.indybay.org/news/2003/06/1619518.php
“Road Map to Nowhere,” by Charley Reese, http://reese.king-online.com/Reese_20030620/index.php
Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism staged a protest at the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay/Bi/Trans film festival showing of the Israeli movie, “Yossi and Jagger” on Saturday night, June 14. “Yossi and Jagger” is about two army officers who fall in love while stationed on the Lebanon border in the 1980s. The Israeli Consulate General (Daniel says that “General” is very important to include) cosponsored the movie, flew the producer in for the screening and was invited to speak after the film. As the credits rolled, seven activists went onto the stage and unfurled two banners, which were brilliantly made by a member of Students for Justice in Palestine. The first banner said, “No Animals Were Killed In The Making Of This Movie,” and was followed by the second, “17,000 Palestinian And Lebanese Civilians Were Killed By The Israeli Forces In Lebanon,” a fact that was not even alluded to in the film. Other activists handed out leaflets in the aisles. The leaflet was entitled “Yossi and Jagger: Epilogue” and tells the story of Yossi’s decision to quit the army and join “Yesh Gvul,” the Israeli military resister’s movement. It also suggested that if people wouldn’t think it was appropriate to show a film about gay American officers falling in love during the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam, they shouldn’t think “Yossi and Jagger” is appropriate entertainment either. Before the movie, we distributed a flyer about gay US war resister Stephen Funk (see related article in this UV), and raised a little money for his legal defense fund.
Frameline staff (for out-of-towners, Frameline is the organization that puts on the festival) gently urged the activists to leave the stage. We told them to turn up the house lights so people could read the banners (they could sort of be read, but only intermittently, depending on what was being projected), and then we would leave. Eventually, they did turn them on for a minute, there was a round of applause and then a round of boos, and we decided it was good enough. We were prepared to have to run for our lives, but no one seemed to object to our standing along the wall with our banners, so some of us stayed for the Q&A while others leafleted outside.
Producer Gal Uchovsky, who spoke before and after the film, was apparently shocked to learn that people could be offended by his film. “I didn’t expect that,” he said. To his credit, he also said that instead of building illegal settlements in Palestine, the Israeli government should use its money to splurge on a first-class ticket for him. “They flew me coach, they can’t buy me for $600,” he said after thanking the consulate for the second time for their sponsorship. He did not respond to QUIT!’s critique, simply saying, “The Palestinians are suffering a lot right now.” He believes the film is anti-war (the subtle anti-war message is conveyed mainly by a long close-up of the words “Make Love Not War” etched into a wall in English), and says that he wanted to show that the Israeli soldiers are “just kids, and they are also victims.” The “enemy” does not appear at all in the movie, which is plagued by sexism as well as racism. Uchovsky explained during the Q&A that the script was approved by the army, who complained that initially, the sex was between people too different in rank, so they changed it. He also explained that it was filmed in the Golan Heights, Syrian territory which has been occupied by Israel since 1967. The consul general said that the film was “not about politics, but about love.” Activists made a few audible comments, including one about the massacres at Sabra and Shatila, but did not try to prevent him from speaking.
“Yossi and Jagger” was endorsed by the San Francisco Chronicle as the festival’s “must-see” film, and was the first to sell out the 1400-seat Castro Theatre. The crowd seemed pretty split about the action. When the lights finally came up enough for people to read the banners clearly, a fair amount of applause broke out, followed by some boos and hisses. A few audience members called “Thank you,” while others yelled, “This isn’t the place,” and “We’re just trying to have fun here.” Tory reported being called “cunt” by her gay brothers and Naomi had things thrown at her, but all 400 leaflets were given out. Ushers reported that festival goers were arguing about the action while waiting in line for the next movie.
The next day, some of us went to a movie about lesbians in Iceland, and there was a guy there handing out leaflets saying that people who didn’t like the action should let Frameline know they supported the policy of “keeping politics out of the film festival.” This is clearly someone who misses the message of having a queer film festival at all, as well as the message the filmmaker said he was trying to convey.
On Sunday the lead story of Frameline’s daily e-newsletter, “GEARS AND LACE,” read, “The Festival was rocked by protests Saturday night at a screening of the award-winning Israeli box-office smash YOSSI & JAGGER.” It went on to give a very factual account of the event, stating that “people in the theatre both booed and cheered (and hurled a few epithets).” Apparently they got lots of shit for this coverage, which along with the fact that Frameline staff did not overreact to this totally peaceful protest by calling the police, hitting us with pocketbooks or spraying mace like operagoers did to Stop AIDS Now Or Else so many years ago, made some people feel that Frameline approved of or was even “complicit” in the action. A few days later, GEARS AND LACE contained a long apology from Festival director Michael Lumpkin, in which, among other things, he defended the festival’s not being prepared for such an incident by pointing out that in its 27 year history, nothing of the kind had ever happened. Go QUIT! Breaking new ground, once again.
We urge people to write to Frameline at firstname.lastname@example.org saying, (1) that you support the QUIT action and in general free expression at the festival; (2) the Festival should not solicit or accept money or support from the Israeli government; (3) Frameline should be more careful about showing movies that glorify repressive regimes; and (4) that the Festival should not overreact to this action by implementing draconian Homeland Security measures.
Other response has been more positive. Deni spoke about the action at a program on Israeli and Palestinian queers on Tuesday, and a lot of people came up to her to express thanks and kudos. People liked the leaflet, and one guy said it was “the most dignified protest he ever saw.” Leah Garchik ran most of the Frameline story in her column, “The In Crowd,” in the Chronicle. Electronic Intifada (www.electronicintifada.net) featured it on their activism page, along with a lovely picture from QUIT!’s Estee Slaughter action. Rev. Mark Stanger of Grace Cathedral sent long descriptions of both actions to the bishop of Jerusalem, who responded, “Thank you for sending me the update on the activities of the Lesbian and Gay community in San Francisco. My appreciation to you, and all who joined you in these demonstrations….In Christ, The Rt. Rev. Riah Abu El-Assal” Deni says this brings us closer to our goal of getting a footnote for queers in the history books of the Palestinian liberation struggle.
By Chaya, Deni and Mocha with her summer haircut
The Weather Underground (Reviewed by Deni and Chaya)
Well, this documentary was better than we anticipated when we reviewed it before having seen it in the last UltraVi. It was filmed by co-directors Sam Green and Bill Siegel as a series of interviews with WU members explaining and analyzing their motivations and actions and interspersed with flashbacks of the events of the 60s. The movie was especially effective in portraying the horror of the U.S. war against Vietnam and activists’ outrage about it. The WU reflections were thoughtful and less rhetorical than we had expected. If we had made the movie we would have eliminated Todd Gitlin and his self-righteous pontificating, the bizarre soft-focus orgy scene, and included more of the political context of the Chile-related bombing. It’s supposed to be released nationally and will be shown on PBS in 2004; it’s definitely worth seeing and harkens back to a time when we thought things were as bad as they could get…
Winged Migration (Reviewed by Chaya and Deni)
Cute birds, and can they ever fly! Okay, perhaps others have waxed ecstatic about this film a little more eloquently but our appreciation is equally heartfelt. We never realized how tough all that migratory flying is. Given how picky, picky, picky we are, we had a few complaints: not enough on the bald eagle; why include the heart-rending vignette on the oppressed Amazon parrots (who are non-migratory – wow are we rigid!); Chaya feels that nature movies shouldn’t include anything upsetting or bad. We looked up parrots in our Sibley Guide to Birds, which listed “Parrots and Their Allies.” Just where were the allies in the Amazon when the parrots were captive in cages??
I believe I can fly. See it.
Yossi and Jagger at the LGBT Film Festival (Reviewed by Deni and Chaya)
See the article on QUIT’s action elsewhere in this issue, which we were proud to be part of. The movie’s biggest problem is its decontextualization of the gay army romance from the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. During the sex scene, when another officer holds binoculars to his eyes we are supposed to be worrying about whether he will see our two boys doing it. Hello! How about worrying about what the hell he’s looking to fire on in Lebanon? Besides all this, it was a lousy movie in general: very sexist portrayal of women, lesbian suggestiveness between the 2 straight women, one of the straight women in love with one gay character and the other gay character firmly in the closet. Puh-leeze!! There was nothing progressive about the characters or the storyline, in fact it was an amateurish regressive throwback and we find it disturbing that it’s won some other film festival awards. Make sure you read the QUIT! Epilogue leaflet at quitpalestine.org; it would make a much better movie.
Straight Out at the LGBT Film Festival (Reviewed
Hrabba Gunnarsdottirs’s documentary is an investigation of lesbian and gay youth coming out and finding identity in her homeland of Iceland. Beautifully filmed with a combination of interviews, interactions with family and friends, and stunning Icelandic scenery, this is a very engaging documentary. Her next film is about Iceland’s transition into a society that is embracing the diversity of LGBTs. Gunnarsdottir has a way with the camera and storytelling, I hope she segues into feature films, too.
Queer Documentary in Wartime: A New View of the Israeli Palestinian Crisis at the LGBT Film Festival (Reviewed by Deni)
Whew - that’s a long title for 20 minutes of an in-progress documentary! Fortunately, it was an excellent 20 minutes with interesting and progressive commentary afterwards by filmmaker Ellen Flanders. The movie is about queer Palestinians and Israelis and their feelings and ideas about being queer within the context of Israeli occupation. It’s also interspersed with footage of Flanders’ grandparents, early Zionist settlers in Israel. There were shots of Black Laundry and a great interview with a Palestinian lesbian poet. The discussion afterwards addressed some technical problems with the constant use of split-screen and subtitles, as well as a too- pervasive music score. But the filmmaker was open to these concerns, and we can all look forward to an even better film when it’s completed.
Bend It Like Beckham (reviewed by Kate)
A Mighty Wind (reviewed by Vern and Daniel)
Good movie, acting was great, songs pretty good and funny, a fun movie (Vern). Funny; lots of pathos (Daniel).
Nowhere in Africa (reviewed by Mindy)
Excellent; best movie on the Holocaust she’s seen, people were very real, family members even cranky with each other.
Finding Nemo (reviewed by Deeg)
If you leave out the anthropomorphosism and the whole fish-as-nuclear-family-thing (but what would Disney be without that) there are a few funny bits like the sharks in the 12-step meeting.
Big upcoming Union vote in the entertainment industry as an attempt is made to merge SAG (Screen Actors Guild) and AFTRA (American Federation of Television and Radio Artists). Checking the websites, most progressives (except past-SAG pres Ed Asner) are on the side of the merger: more joint power in dealing with an extremely conglomerated industry, among other reasons. Election results will be announced on July 1 with Mocha wondering who will best represent the dog actors...
Never mind the “no fly” list, watch out for your chocolate. Apparently new high-tech airport baggage scanners can mistake a “substantial” package of chocolate for an explosive. According to scanner manufacturer InVision Technology, both have the same density and makeup. This raises so many questions: (1) WHAT??? (2) I didn’t know my chocolate wore makeup! We recommend eating your chocolate prior to travel or purchasing fluffier, less dense chocolate products to avoid legal problems.
Cats and Dogs. The Oakland Tribune reported that the California Anti-Terrorism Information Center has been investigating “non-violent” peace activists. The Center is referred to as CATIC, pronounced CAT-ICK. Apologies to you felines, but Mocha (the dog, not the column) is not surprised at this connection, having always regarded cats as highly suspect.
Confidential to Dr. Kildare: Richard! We had no idea.
QUIT! launched a new marketing campaign at Macy’s Union Square in San Francisco to its new line of killer products from Estee Slaughter. About 20 activists from Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism descended on the downtown store today with samples of Village Vanishing Cream, Bloody Hand Cream, Atrocity Cover Up, Defoliant, WhiteRight Ethnic Cleanser and Kill Me Pink Lip Bomb. They gave away 500 samples of the new scent Eau de Occupation to appreciative passersby.
The promotional leaflet explains that Ronald Lauder, chairman and founder of the cosmetics firm Estee Lauder, serves as president of the Jewish National Fund, which was formed in 1901 to establish Jewish settlements by purchasing land from absentee landlords. After the state of Israel was formed, the JNF was made responsible for developing lands expropriated by the government, including 531 villages that were destroyed by a campaign of ethnic cleansing by Jewish terrorists working with the newly formed Israeli “Defense” Forces. The JNF holds half the seats on the Israel Lands Council, that sets policy for the 93% of Israel’s land that is in the public domain. Palestinians, who are 20% of the Israeli population, are generally denied use of this land. The JNF has played a leading role in developing settlements in the occupied territories, and is currently conducting projects that are displacing Bedouin Arabs in the Negev in Israel.
Several QUIT! members entered the Macy’s cosmetics department, attempting to peddle their wares in Estee Lauder’s shop. Though many of the underworked salespeople on the floor were amused and even appreciative of the spoof, a highly efficient team of well groomed and modulated security women quickly ushered them out. On the sidewalk in front of the store, however, customers were quite engaged by the artfully placed presentation boards explaining the products and their uses. Jack and Jen teamed up to demonstrate how Atrocity Cover Up works to hide that unsightly evidence of soldiers shooting children or torturing women. (See photos)
The Bloody Hand Cream, unfortunately, is out of stock. Deeg, a spokesperson for the group, explains that the entire supply was immediately snatched up by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who calls it “the greatest invention since rubber coated steel bullets.” The prime minister says the product has helped stem the growing tide of soldiers refusing to serve in the occupation forces. Golda Meir, famed for the statement, “There are no Palestinians. There never have been any,” phoned in her endorsement of the product WhiteRight – Ethnic Cleanser, despite having been dead for years.
Police called to the scene were just relieved when they figured out the group was not part of the animal liberation movement (though for the record, most of them support it). Officer Ng explained to Kate and Deeg that “If you were concerned about the chemicals being used, you might throw blood or bring bloody carcasses to illustrate your point.”
Become an Estee Slaughter representative in your community. Download the entire set of product labels, posters, name tags and flier from www.quitpalestine.org. More information on the boycott of Estee Lauder and other supporters of Israeli occupation can be found at www.boycottisrael.org.
According to the UPI:
A gay New York teen sent home from school for wearing
a T-shirt saying “Barbie is a lesbian” is suing the city school system.
In the suit filed Thursday in Manhattan Federal Court, the girl’s
mother, Kathleen Hodges, accused the city and school officials of failing to
protect her daughter, Natalie Young, now 14.
The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, alleges Natalie’s right to free speech was violated when she was sent home last year and warned she would be suspended if she wore the T-shirt to school again, the New York Daily News reported. The girl told the newspaper, “I was trying to be funny.”
Actually, Natalie’s shirt was funny. The institutionalized homophobia of her school wasn’t. Her lawsuit also charges Natalie once was ordered to remove rainbow-colored beads from her hair and was told by a school counselor it was not normal for her to ask out girls. Asking out people of the same sex? That’s so gay.
An Education Department spokesman said no comment could be made on pending litigation. However, no one is denying that Ken is definitely gay.
Gay conscientious objector Stephen Funk, a 20-year old Filipino American man, has been charged by the u.s. marines with desertion, under article 85 of the uniform code of military “justice.”
Funk had left his assignment in February (unauthorized absence or UA), when his unit was activated for combat. He told his commander that he was filing for conscientious objector status. He turned himself in on April l, and a few weeks later was sent to a unit in New Orleans, Louisiana, where there are about 20 other marine CO applicants. On May 1, the marines filed against him. Because of the charges, the marines are not processing his CO application.. He is charged with “shirking important duty,” which carries a potential penalty of one year in military prison. He is not in custody at this time
Stephen’s lawyer, Stephen Collier, said that “The desertion charge lacks a legal foundation...They have to show that [Funk] had a specific intent to shirk an important duty. He never had that.” Stephen’s unit was not scheduled to go to Iraq, but rather to assist in the mobilization of other units. Stephen said that although he knew he would be punished for his actions, “I would rather take my punishment now than live with what I would have to do in Iraq for the rest of my life. I would be going in knowing that it was wrong and that would be hypocritical.”
Stephen writes that, “it looks like they will try to discharge me on anything but conscientious objector status. I know that they will have to discharge me someday but they will try to delay the process to punish me for taking a public stance. Other CO’s are leaving and they haven’t even started on my case. In the meanwhile I have to be very careful because apparently many Marines here really detest me for being a conscientious objector, who went public, who is gay! It just baffles the mind I guess. So many people have come up to me to warn me about people who wish me harm, and although I am not very worried I have brought it up to my command. I want to make sure that if something were to happen that they do not try to pass it off as coincidental. It would most definitely be a hate crime and I would press charges. There already has been some minor incidents and being gay in the military is definitely a hostile and harsh struggle. Gay people have no business joining, neither do minorities, the poor, women, the youth, people from San Francisco, Seattle, etc... ”
Stephen needs money for legal fees. Please send what you can to:
Stephen Funk Legal Defense Fund, 1230 Market Street, # 111, San Francisco, CA 94102.
Stephen would also like to hear from people. You can send
emails to Stephen at email@example.com.
the hospital authority of the Alameda County Medical Center announced the
closure of Central Health clinic in downtown Oakland and eight medical clinics
at Fairmont hospital including the crowded same day appointment urgent care
clinic, years of fighting to save the Alameda County public hospital flashed
before my eyes. This
announcement heralding the imminent death of the medical center, is
happening, because of the drastic decrease in money from the state and an ever
increasing number of people with out insurance, turning to the county as a last
resort. I remembered the creation
of the E-mobile, my car all gussied
up with placards, balloons and a loudspeaker. Raquel and Mcduffie, both workers
in housekeeping at Highland, and I traveled the neighborhoods of East and West
Oakland with Mr. Mac in his best theatrical voice sonorously shouting
“EMERGENCY EMERGENCY SAVE OUR COUNTY HOSPITAL.” We passed out many leaflets
urging people to vote for measure E, a ballot initiative which would have given
the residents of Alameda County the right to vote on the governance structure of
the hospital. In spite of the efforts of many workers and community members
this initiative lost by a half percent, paving the way for the
formation of the hospital authority, a separate bureaucracy meant to
somehow magically run the hospital in the black.
The board of stupervisors (b.o.s.) seemed to feel that money would appear
from serving the homeless, the working poor, the medically indigent and the
uninsured. It made no sense. Health care is a human right and a service, and it needs to
be properly funded just like the fire department.
More images came to mind of Mcduffie washing his hands with frothy
bubbling soapy water in a big basin at a packed board hearing, a very dramatic action to symbolize the board
of stupervisors uncaring, washing their hands of the fate of the medical center.
I thought about all the members of People United to Save Health care
(PUSH) waving dollar bills at a stupervisor meeting
as contribution to the medical center to shame the b.o.s. into funding
the new five -story clinic building at Highland.
We worked hard and were able to win the five story building prevailing
over the b.o.s and the evil dave kears, who were even then pushing for a scaled
back medical center.
remembered my somewhat extensive career working as a nurse in the county medical
system and watching its not so slow disintegration.
I was a visiting nurse for a time trying to help sick, disabled, post
stroke, post surgery and old people in their communities.
It was a unique time in my life in which I was welcomed into people’s
homes from all over the world, learning the extensive diversity of the people of
Oakland, many with no insurance, dependent on the county for services. People I visited in that year told me they thought we needed
a medical system like the one in canada. They were quite articulate about this
country’s health care problems. The
county cut this vital service in 1998. The
people I visited were generally too sick to protest this loss.
several years I worked at Central health clinic in downtown Oakland.
It serves an almost entirely immigrant population.
The clinic has a department of at least eight different translators who
work as advocates for the various mostly monolingual communities who come to the
clinic. There are Cambodians,
Laotians, Bosnians, Mien, Russians,
many Spanish speaking immigrants, just to name a few.
With the help of the translators they navigate the difficult health
care system. It will be closed on June 30th.
worked in the HIV clinic at Fairmont Hospital and became familiar with the
wealth of services, and the community that uses it as a gathering place.
There is a skilled nursing facility many clinics and a senior meals
program. The fate of the HIV clinic
is still unknown. Eight medical
clinics will close June 30th
along with the lab and the cafeteria and with it the senior meals program.
The skilled nursing facility which includes the neuro-respiratory unit
will close when placements can be found for the patients.
The invaluable same-day appointment urgent care clinic will also close
I attended the May 20th
beilensen hearing, that must be conducted by the stupervisors when
services are cut, making the way for the June 30th
closure of the Central and Fairmont clinics.
The unions and Vote Health had organized well, requiring an overflow room
to be set up to accommodate the numbers. Lolly,
my old boss at Central, a stern unyielding nurse manager of the old school, made
leaflets in every language used at Central.
Each translator was there with their patients. A number of patients from
Fairmont, many in wheelchairs. All
the doctors who have worked for years in the Fairmont urgent care spoke
eloquently about the intrinsic and vital role of this clinic.
Many workers from the medical center were there, along with their SEIU
union reps. All the people spoke
movingly about the role these particular clinics played in their lives, the
caring they had received from the many dedicated health professionals.
The point was made repeatedly that with the closure of primary care
clinics the patients would not find other clinics, many with 3-6 month waiting
times for appointments, but would rather wait until health problems became
urgent and end up in an emergency room. Many
people spoke of the already monstrous overcrowding at Highland Hospital ER.
It was a marvelous showing of the people’s will.
The message from all who spoke was to find enough money to keep the
clinics in place until an initiative to provide a new steady funding stream to
the medical center could be placed on the March ballot.
Further, some of us said that the stupervisors needed to stop wringing
their hands, and start providing leadership to this floundering county.
They should go to the state and demand adequate funding for services ,
that the rich must be taxed! It
seemed that the b.o.s. were somewhat swayed..
gail steele and alice lai-Bitker did a lot of crying.
the next week the news was more extreme then ever. The medical center deficit had somehow jumped from an
estimated 30 to 48 million dollars in one week.
The medical center was saying that even if the county found 4 million
dollars to keep the clinics open, much worse cuts were about to be announced, so
they would not be able to take any stop gap money. The medical center said that they thought they might have to
close the women’s urgent care clinic at Highland and the renowned trauma
center in the ER.
this back drop the yearly county budget hearings began.
Each year health care activists have had to agitate, yell, coerce the
county into making health care a priority.
Instead repeatedly the county funds huge juvenile halls to incarcerate
the county’s youth or a more luxurious sheriff’s department.
The county medical center limps along chronically underfunded.
was a travesty. The evil dave kears
who I have been told is called “the eminent dave kears “ around the county halls, spent at least an hour talking
long-winded triple speak about the
county health care agency budget, lauding himself for only having to lay off two
people. All the while the
proverbial elephant in the living room was the medical center, only referred to
as a line item in the health care agency budget. The evil dave kears carefully never mentioned the medical
center, the severe cut in services and the number of workers who will lose their
jobs in the process. Word has
it, that outsourcing for county health care is being considered.
This is the evil dave kears’s pet idea. He has always pushed the county
to be a buyer of health care services, rather
than a the provider. He
has been included by nate miley in the beginning planning on a health care
initiative. A major point of
controversy is just how much of the health care money generated from such an
initiative would be funneled into the private sector rather than to the county
hearing started late and the suit people talked endlessly, forcing various
activists who had taken time off from work to leave. gail steel allowed as how this hearing wasn’t about the
medical center but rather about the county budget issues, an idiocy as the
county funds the medical center! Vote
health members took issue and spoke, talking of the projected cuts to the trauma
center to which scott hagarty responded, he hadn’t heard that and it would
happen “over my dead body”. He
doesn’t feel this way about vital clinics serving immigrants, but he knows
full well if he gets in a car crash on his way in from his pleasanton home, he
will need the state-of -the-art trauma center at Highland.
The hypocrisy is appalling. scott was shown breaking down in tears the
next day on the news.
need leadership from the stupervisors, the rich must be taxed.
We need to get rid of bush. We
need a revolution, people in streets demanding more clinics not less.
Vote Health has to organize in the community rather than all this
maddening lobbying of politicians. Here
in Oakland we need a union of patients working in coalition with unions and
community groups, to make a huge grass roots movement.
We really have to form a direct action militant health care group who
wants to disrupt these absurd stupervisor hearings with all this crying going
on. SB921 the single payer bill
introduced by Sheila Kuehl must be passed.
CARE IS A HUMAN RIGHT!
Call Tory with any ideas 510-434-1304
Racist retailer Abercrombie & Fitch is at it again. Last year, A & F was caught selling racist T-Shirts with anti-Asian caricatures and insensitive captions. After successful demonstrations by the Asian/Pacific Islander community, the garish garments were gone.
According to nine Latino and Asian workers, who recently filed suit, A & F desires an “overwhelmingly white workforce” and channels minority job applicants into less visible positions.
The lawsuit claims that the retailer reinforces the “the A & F look” developed by its catalogs that feature almost exclusively white models. The workers claim that whites receive higher profile positions on the sales floor while they receive jobs in the stock room.
“Through means both subtle and direct, Abercrombie has consistently reinforced to its store managers that they must recruit and maintain an overwhelmingly white workforce,” said Thomas Saenz, vice president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, one of the lawyers representing the plaintiffs.
Eduardo Gonzalez, a Stanford University student and one of the plaintiffs, said a store manager had directed him away from a job on the sales floor. “When I went to apply for a part-time job, I noticed that all of the sales staff were white,” he said. “The manager suggested that I work in the stock room or on the late night crew in a non-sales position. “I was discouraged and felt that I was discriminated against by Abercrombie because I am Latino.”
The lawsuit in U.S. District Court for Northern California, seeks back pay and an end to the alleged discriminatory practices.
Abercrombie, which has also generated controversy with its sexually suggestive catalogs, faced a protest last month from parent and Christian groups for marketing children’s thong underwear with the words “kiss me” and “wink wink.”
Just as Tommy Hillfiger invaded the world of Hip Hop in the ‘90s, A & F’s use of male nudity has made it a staple in many mainstream gay men’s closets, which did break the stereotype that gay men have good taste. It is important that gay activists oppose abuse in the fashion industry as LAGAI did in joining Asian Women’s Immigrant Advocates (AIWA) campaign against Jessica McClintok use of anti worker subcontractors. As well as work done against the abuse of Nike and The Gap’s workers.
Incidentally, A& F lost a suit against Aberzombie.com a parody website. The store claimed to own the letters “Aber”, but the judge found otherwise. Aberzombie is also the nickname of some “clones” who wear A & F from head to toe and carry their belongings in little paper bags from the store.
Elsewhere in the fashion realm, designers such as Ralph Lauren are being accused of forcing their workers to buy expensive designer duds with their own money. If a Ralph Lauren worker must wear Polo and Dolce & Gabbana employees must wear D & G, then that would constitute a uniform. A uniform should be provided by the employer and not by the employee.
May, New Yorkers conducted three days of civil disobedience at the Jacob Javitz
Federal Building, to protest the bush administration’s war program at home and
abroad. “The Bush administration spent billions of dollars on a war abroad,
allegedly to destroy weapons of mass destruction; none have been found,” said
organizer Collette Carter. “Meanwhile,
here at home, the cost of war on our communities is that we now face budget
cuts, massive lay-offs, rent hikes, fare hikes, and tuition hikes.”
total of eighty-three protesters, New Yorkers from all walks of life, including
teachers, mothers, and students — were arrested for civil disobedience actions
over a period of three days. Chanting
“No more profiling, no more war,” they linked arms and blocked the entrance
to the federal building at 26 Federal Plaza before they were arrested and
dragged away by police. All have
been released after being charged with obstructing government administration,
disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest.
the demonstrations were peaceful, the police were aggressive in their treatment
of the protesters, who charged the police with using excessive force and racial
profiling. According to organizers,
a protester was kneed in the head by an officer, and women were assaulted and
subjected to homophobic remarks by officers while being searched.
Also according to organizers, a higher percentage of women, the majority
of people of color, and the majority of queer people were detained overnight
while others were released only after six hours.
In addition, they say police intimidated protesters with questions about
their political beliefs and affiliations. “This
is yet another example of the NYPD’s abusive treatment of anti-war protesters
to punish those who don’t share their political beliefs,” said Rafael Mutis,
who participated in the protest and was released after 24 hours of being in
illegal invasion and illegal occupation of Iraq should be continuously
protested,” said New York City Councilmember Charles Barron in support of the
protesters. “I support the
movement and the efforts of Operation Homeland Resistance, and I call upon law
enforcement to allow New Yorkers to peacefully exercise their rights.”
say they hope this week’s protests will spark increased “homeland
resistance” throughout the city, and vowed to escalate protests in the
upcoming weeks. “The fighting in
Iraq may be over, but this is only the beginning of a long war,” said Monami
Maulik. “We will see continued
U.S. aggression abroad as well as increased repression of our communities here
at home. We must escalate our
Homeland Resistance is a coalition of racial justice and immigrant rights groups
in New York City and is endorsed by fifty-six organizations throughout the city.
See more info and photos at www.homelandresistance.org.
by Jesse Carr
the base of a little five-step staircase that leads to the camp P.A.’s
[physician’s assistant] office she and I sit, waiting. We both need injections
and the P.A. has forgotten to bring any thing to do with our prescriptions - no
medicine, no syringes, nothing. He says he’ll be right back, which in BOP-time
means he may not come back at all.
you hear the quote about how you can tell the humanity of society by how it
treats prisoners, that’s true - but not because compassion for prisoners would
measure compassion for others, not because humane prisons would indicate humane
streets. It’s because prison is the microcosm of our ideal society - prison
encompasses what we, as a society, think people must know in order to be
functional members of our communities. U.S. prisons spell it out clearly :
submission, obedience, individualism, hierarchy, punishment.
are discussing 9-11 - she knows I’m ‘one of the protesters’ and wants to
know ‘what were we supposed to do?’ I trust her politics from the few
conversations we’ve had and I take time to think about my answer. I start with
what I know about what we DID do, I start with the fact that within two months
at most we had killed far more civilians in Afghanistan than were killed in NYC.
I tell her about my friend at school whose cousin was beaten up because his skin
is brown. Class mates worried about losing their visas. Hundreds of immigrants
arrested, detained indefinitely. Mosques fire-bombed. And before we’ve managed
to let the smoke clear from Manhattan, before all the bodies have even been
financially, let alone emotionally cared for, we are dropping bombs and killing
more people in Afghanistan, and eventually Iraq. This, I say, does not speak to
me of a peaceful or freedom loving nation. I am near tears and she is nodding so
I stop and wait.
says to me, “When I heard that two planes had hit the towers and I watched on
TV as they fell down, and I saw people jumping out of them to escape, I just
felt so scared and helpless” She tells me, “I felt just the way I did when
he used to beat me. You know, he once broke 32 bones in my body. I had to steer
with two fingers when I drove myself to the hospital.” It is like looking
through one of those binocular-like toys with picture sets : two planes crashing
<click> two fists coming towards her face <click> bombs streaming
towards Baghdad, Kabul <click> kitchen, bedroom, parlor as battlefields.
Very few of the women here are soldiers but most of them are war-torn.
has been incarcerated for 15 years and tells me “yes, yes I did what they
said, I carried drugs onto airplanes and across national and state borders, lots
of drugs - pounds, kilos of coke and marijuana and dope. Yes, I did those things
but mostly I am here for not picking up the phone and calling. They told me that
if he was abusing me, making me do these things, I should have just left.”
I’m still back at 32 bones. Thinking, counting - 8 fingers, what else? nose,
jaw, ribs ... shoulderblade? collar bone? tail bone? legs, toes, feet?
are facing each-other, both staring kind of blankly at a spot over
each-other’s shoulders. Finally I say, simply, “That’s not how abusive
relationships are. You don’t just get up and leave or pick up the phone and
turn them in for drug dealing.” I tell her, “You don’t deserve to be
here.” She nods and tells me more; how she managed to leave once and he found
her quickly, managed to leave a second time, stayed in hiding for 3 months, but
finally enrolled her kids in school. He called the Board of Education and found
out where his kids were - when she went to pick them up one day, he was there,
is a word for this in prison - there is a word for just about everything in
prison. Women who do the dirty work, the illegal work, the stuff that gets you
shot or arrested, because the man ‘employing them’ may very well kill them
if they don’t. Here they’re called mules, a different woman informs me. She
herself was a ‘mule,’ here for 5 years for selling crack. I ask her why this
name and she says well, it’s like any beast of burden, if you beat them enough
they’ll work hard for you, you know?
been two hours that we’ve sat here talking about domestic terrorism and the
criminal justice system. The doctor has not returned, and she says to me, what
do you need an injection for, anyway? I swallow and hope she doesn’t regret
confiding in me after my answer. I have spent weeks perfecting explanations of
gender, MY gender, transgender, in anxious anticipation of this very question.
course, my mind goes pretty blank so I manage only, “I’m transgender. I get
a shot of testosterone every two weeks.” She smiles. When she was at Carswell,
TX, another federal prison, her roommate was inter-sexual. He was born with
‘ambiguous genitalia’ and the doctor decided to turn the (tiny penis? huge
clit?) into a vagina. By puberty he had started developing muscles and body hair
while the ‘other girls’ were getting hips and breasts. She tells me, ‘His
name was Mike. He was such a sweet heart. I really loved him.’
conversation is ended as we’re both called to the C.O.’s office and told
that the P.A. will return between 9 and 10pm with our shots. We part ways, her
and I, returning to our rooms. She has been incarcerated since I was 7 years
old, the same year I wrote an essay about what I would do if I were president.
My mom’s partner loves to remind me that I said, “Smokers and nuclear power
plant operators would all go to jail.” I didn’t know then who really goes to
jail. I didn’t know about 32 bones. I didn’t know about mules. She was just
starting prison and she felt ok - “I was basically safe,” she says. “I mean, they were always telling me what to do, but I was
used to that, you know?”
don’t know, but I’m beginning to get the picture.
Carr is an FTM transgender human rights activist and a senior
Comparative American Studies major at Oberlin College in Ohio. He is
currently incarcerated in a minimum security federal prison for 3 months
for crossing the line in protest of the U.S. Army School of the Americas in
November 2002. To learn more about the SOA and the movement to close it, go to
http://www.soaw.org. Jesse will be released from prison on July 3, 2003. To
contact him, write to firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to:
Federal Prison Camp
33 1/2 Pembroke Station
Danbury, CT 06811
Since killing one international activist, shooting another in the face, and putting a third in a permanent coma, the israeli government decided it would be a good idea to try to get rid of the International Solidarity Movement and other human rights activists. This conveniently coincides with the stepping up of attacks against Palestinians, especially in Gaza, and the rapid expansion of construction on the Apartheid Wall, presumably clearing the way for “peace.” Here’s a summary of recent events in the israeli government’s attempt to rid itself of anyone who might tell the truth about its campaign to drive the Palestinians out of their homeland once and for all.
May 2 — Haaretz, the most liberal Israeli newspaper, reports:
“Israel will from now on bar pro-Palestinian activists from entering the country and will try to expel at least some of the dozens of activists who are already here, according a new plan drafted by the Israel Defense Forces and the foreign and defense ministries. Most of the activists, who come from Europe, Canada and the United States, belong to the International Solidarity Movement (ISM).
“…Some two months ago, an American ISM activist, Rachel Corrie, was run over and killed by an IDF bulldozer in Gaza. Her colleagues accused the bulldozer driver of having run her over deliberately. The IDF denies the accusation and decided not to indict the driver. In two other recent cases, international activists have been seriously injured by IDF gunfire during confrontations in the territories.
“Israel Radio on Friday quoted British news agencies as saying that the two men involved in the suicide bombing at Mike’s Place in Tel Aviv late Tuesday night had entered Israel earlier in the day in a cab that passed through the Erez Crossing. The two had taken part in actions carried out by peace activists in the Gaza Strip.
“The IDF charges that many of the self-proclaimed peace activists are ‘provocateurs’ and ‘riot inciters’ who deliberately interfere with the IDF’s work, with the goal of blackening Israel’s image. Army sources noted that in one case, they discovered a wanted terrorist being hidden by ISM activists in Jenin. The sources said the activists received training overseas in how to deceive border control officials at Ben-Gurion International Airport in order to be allowed into the country.
“Furthermore, both the army and the Foreign Ministry fear that additional foreign citizens might be killed or wounded by the IDF if the ISM’s activities are allowed to continue.
“Wednesday’s bombing in Tel Aviv, which was committed by two men who entered Israel on British passports, added a new reason to the authorities’ desire to clamp down on the foreign activists - fear that other terrorists from overseas might enter the country under the guise of peace activists.”
This was pretty funny to ISM folks, who noted that saying you are a peace activist does not lead to being welcomed into israel with open arms.
May 5 — The israeli government announces that any foreigners attempting to enter the Gaza Strip, other than journalists, diplomats or UN workers, will have to sign a declaration stating “the State of Israel and its organs cannot be hold responsibility for death, injury and/or damage/loss of property which may be incurred as a result of military activity. I also undertake not to disrupt IDF operations in any way and declare that I have no association with the organization known as ISM (International Solidarity Movement) nor any other organization whose aim is to disrupt IDF operations.”
May 9 — Soldiers descend on the ISM offices in Beit Sahour, closing off the entire neighborhood with 20 jeeps and an armored personnel carrier. They arrest three women, one Palestinian, one Australian and one from the u.s. The Australian woman works for Human Rights Watch and just happens to be in the office to get some information. The army seizes files, computers, CDs and cell phones, and trashes the office.
May 10 — Two more ISMers are arrested in Tulkarem while trying to help a family get out of danger. They are subsequently released on bail and a promise to stay out of the Occupied Territories. Flo, the american woman arrested in the ISM office, is also eventually released.
May 18 – Greg Rollins from the Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) in Hebron is arrested doing checkpoint watch with his teammate Chris Brown. He is held for deportation and imprisoned for more than two weeks before his deportation order is overturned by the israeli high court. The next two days, the CPT offices and apartments in Hebron are raided and searched twice, and CPTers are presented with new orders including, “They are not to walk children to school.” Children in H2, the part of Hebron officially under israeli military control, are routinely attacked and shot at by settlers and soldiers. CPT has been working in Hebron since 1995. They have been told that if team members leave Hebron, they will not be allowed back in.
May 29 — Tom Hurndall, who was shot by soldiers in Gaza on April 11, is returned to England by air helicopter, paid for by donations from activists and supporters around the world. He is still in a coma.
June 14 – Chris Brown and another CPTer are chased by border police and shot at while trying to leave Hebron. The border police try to drag a team member and their Palestinian driver out of the car, but eventually, they are allowed to go back to their apartment. They cannot get out of Hebron. Chris, a Bay Area native who has been in Hebron for two years, says this is the tightest lockdown he has ever seen.
June 16 — Brian Avery, who was shot in the face on April 5 in Jenin, returns to North Carolina. He had three reconstructive surgeries in Haifa, and will need to have several more.
May 16-18 — ISM Northern California trains 30 activists to join Freedom Summer campaign in Palestine.
July 1 –Freedom Summer begins, focusing on opposing the Wall. So far, most people who have gone to join the ISM in Palestine, including several from the Bay Area, have succeeded in getting into the country.
For info about ISM’s activities supporting Palestinian nonviolent resistance, watch www.palsolidarity.org or listen to your local Pacifica station. Don’t look in the New York Times or the San Francisco Chronicle, you won’t find it.
Join the continental listserve for queers in the social justice movements and those on the left of the queer movement by emailing QueersForPeaceAndJusticeemail@example.com
There are queer antiwar/social justice groups in the San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago, Toledo Ohio, Pittsburgh, NYC, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, Atlanta, etc...plug into the movement today.
More than two months have passed since the Oakland police department fired into a crowd of antiwar demonstrators at the Port of Oakland with wooden dowels and other kinds of “non”-lethal weapons. The violence undertaken by the opd against people of color in Oakland continues unabated. The response of the administration of Oakland mayor jerry brown has been to appoint a panel of investigators whose independence is undermined by its members’ obligations to the brown administration. It has been observed that “…decisions regarding the investigation were made in closed session.” There was no public participation.
The panel is to be made up of a retired judge who owes her initial appointment to the bench to then California governor jerry brown; an assistant police chief in the district of Columbia; an attorney who has handled civil rights cases but works mainly in personal injury and entertainment law whose office is in san Francisco.
Wooden dowels and stinger grenades are new to opd’s arsenal. They were first used against post super bowl crowds in East Oakland. Opd is the only police force in the country to use these weapons against anti-war demonstrators.
It took almost 15 years, but there is finally official confirmation of the tactics Phillip Morris used to defuse the 1990-1991 ACT-UP boycott of this corporate sponsor of right-wing not-yet-dead ex-senator Jesse Helms.
The June 2003 American Journal of Public Health includes an article that documents Phillip Morris’ (now Atria) plot to undermine the boycott of Miller Beer and Marlboro cigarettes through donations to AIDS organizations. They also schemed to market Benson and Hedges cigarettes to gay men without appearing to be pro-gay. In San Francisco the boycott mostly focused on Miller Beer, including an attempt to prevent it being sold at Pride.
The UCSF study documents how Miller reached out to non-profits, offering grant money for their good name. The national boycott ended in 1991 when Phillip Morris agreed to give $2-$3 million per year to AIDS organizations for the duration of the AIDS crisis, although as Mathilde Krim reportedly said a couple of years later, the checks had yet to arrive.
Following the “end” of the boycott, Phillip Morris began advertising in a gay periodical “Genre.” However, when this was publicized the company denied that the magazine was gay, and claimed they had no knowledge of the gay market.
The boycott originated in the Dallas Tavern Guild, in 1990 and ACT-UP quickly joined in. The boycott was based on Philip Morris’ support for the anti-gay, anti-woman, AIDS-phobic, racist not-yet-dead jesse helms. At its height, there were boycott campaigns in 90 cities, and even the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force endorsed it. helm’s campaign filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission, charging that the $5,000 ACT-UP had spent nationally was an improper campaign expenditure, as compared to the tens of thousands Phillip Morris spent on the helms campaigns, and the $200,000 they pledged to the helms “museum.” The FEC investigated, but closed the matter in 1994 because some of the ACT-UP chapters no longer existed, and the same could be said for the boycott, but unfortunately, not for jesse helms.
Like many of us, the state of California is flat broke and in debt. California and other states are experiencing what the National governors association referred to as the “most dire fiscal crisis since WWII.” With a projected budget deficit of $38 billion, the powers that be are trying to make poor people pay.
The federal government passed enormous tax cuts benefiting the wealthy and gave us the biggest federal deficits in the history of the u.s. The administration’s corporate cronies cooked their books and got caught. The Enron implosion and intentional misreporting of earnings at numerous corporations sent the stock market crashing. September 11th may have accelerated the pace but did not cause the recession.
The stock market slump dramatically reduced California’s investment related income and reduced state collections on personal income from $44.6 billion to an expected $36.2 billion. California cities depend on state solvency to provide services to the people. These services are literally too numerous to mention in our 8-page publication. They include cuts in education, healthcare and assistance on the poor. The department of corrections is the only thing to be spared by slimy governor davis’ axe.
In the current legislative configuration, davis needs 6 republicans in the assembly and 2 in the state senate to join the democrats and pass a budget. The republicans are continually on record as opposing any new taxes. The democrats support raising some taxes but still advocate cutting essential services.
Unfortunately the bad news isn’t all top down. Noxious weeds are growing in the grass roots. The republicans are launching a recall effort to oust the uninspiring Gray Davis. While the republicans were not popular enough to win a singlestate wide office in the last election, davis makes them look like look like the “in crowd” with his 28% approval rating. Only 38% of democrats like him and he’s their guy.
The davis recall is being covered by national and international media, as well as the California press. Twenty-five years ago this month, Californians passed Prop. 13. The initiative which permanently limited California property taxes was unlucky for all americans. It spawned imitations across the country and helped launch ronald reagan to the white house. The international media is now watching the davis recall as a possible nation-wide trend.
Republicans are hoping to gather 1.2 million signatures this summer to have approx. 900,000 valid ones to put a recall on the ballot. While the media is promoting the idea of republican arnold schwarzenegger to star in this new version of Total Recall, the only official candidate is Darrell Issa a San Diego County millionaire, congressman and chief funder of the recall. He is a right wing republican who supports a constitutional amendment to ban abortion.
The recall election is expected to cost tax payers $40 million. As it is now, only candidates who can raise large amounts of money every few years can get elected to any significant office. If a nation wide trend of recalls starts only those candidates who could raise millions every year could run; making a bad situation worse.
The question for progressives is how to relate to this mess. Do we stand behind the prison-happy davis or let the conservatives oust him and launch the newer deadlier right wing wave?
There will always be vast right wing conspiracies. Instead of focusing on their agenda, let’s promote our own. Cuts in things like the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) make medication less available resulting in increased hospitalization which costs more money. While it is necessary to oppose cuts in the health care budget, we must move forward in support of the universial healthcare movement. Shelia Kuehl has a single payer bill that needs promoting. Other countries did not stumble upon national health care. People made it happen. In Canada, it was done province by province. It is doable.
We must challenge the failure of welfare reform, defend the right of the poor to eat and have housing. Women on welfare have the right to be independent of men. Expanding benefits doesn’t mean financial disaster. The problem isn’t poor people needing services but a system that keeps them poor.
For example, California currently is paying penalties for miscalculating food stamp benefits for people transitioning out of welfare. These penalties could add up to $200 million for mistakes made in 2001-2. The mistakes come from forcing social workers to calculate CalWORKS recipients’ incomes on a monthly basis. If California adopted the federal system of extending food stamps with out additional paper work, we would not have one of the highest error rates in the country and social workers could actually spend time helping people help themselves.
Fully funded schools are a necessity. They need to be a safe place for all kids including queer ones. They must provide illumination on ideas and not indoctrination into the military through ROTC or Christianity through teaching “alternatives” to evolution in the schools. The cost of writing off a generation of young people is incalculable.
Let’s not let the right wing control the dialogue on taxes. The media dance to the right’s tune on the Vehicle License Fee. In 1998 republican Pete Wilson signed a law cutting the motor registration fee unless a budget crisis triggered a return to previous fee levels. The media launched an alert warning people (sometimes inaccurately) that everyone’s rates would skyrocket due to a new tax increase. In fact more expensive cars and the rich people who own them would pay the highest fees. As usual, Republicans are trying to convince everyone that they are “rich” and are promising another petition—this time to reduce the VLF to one dollar. Again, there was no new tax, everyone isn’t rich and this money goes to local cities for services and not to state coffers.
The right wing is using our tactics—taking to the streets and talking to people because they work. This is no time to give up or resign to being passive reactionaries, let’s get out there and make revolution.
(Note: in the last issue of UV, Deeg’s article about queers in anti-war movement included a statement that Deeg did not remember the results of the initiative campaign during which LAGAI was created, but that the initiative had not ended u.s. intervention. Cole wrote to remind us that our efforts do have important effects, a point that we could not agree with more – LAGAI)
As a founding member of LAGAI, I am happy to provide the following historical note. The initiative Deeg refers to — which was a policy statement opposing military aid to the El Salvadorean government — passed by a wide margin & elicited a thank you letter from the FMLN. While Deeg correctly states that passage of the initiative did not end North American intervention in Central America, the campaign did provide a forum to discuss such intervention during the process of gathering the signatures necessary to place the initiative on the ballot. The participation of the lesbian/gay caucus of the campaign also promoted queer visibility in the left. We actually engaged
in some creative strategies . . . I remember going into Castro street restaurants w/ a tray decorated w/ a map of El Salvador and four plastic soldiers pasted on top - I would ask patrons if they’d ordered it, & when they responded (usually in a somewhat startled fashion) in the negative, I’d present them w/ a check listing 30,000 civilian deaths & the corresponding cost w/ the statement “well, you’re paying for it.”
Thanks for the trip down memory lane.
Direct Action is the story of the Livermore Action
Group, which pioneered many of the tools and tactics used by direct action
movements today. The 300 photos and
illustrations alone are worth the price of the book.
“Direct Action is a delightful excursion through time, raising the heady possibility that humans could live in a world without war. Like a drink of pure, clean water, Hauser’s novel will refresh those who work for social change, yet rarely see their lives or values reflected in mainstream culture.
For those of us who inherited this culture of resistance, Hauser’s novel is a welcome reminder of how groups like LAG (Livermore Action Group) kept hope alive during the Reagan years.”
—Andrea Pritchett, CopWatch, Not In Our Name
With a Foreword by Starhawk. 768 pages. 300 illustrations. $19.95. Available from www.directaction.org.