by Alexis and Rachel
On October 25, 2001, the California Fourth District Court of Appeal said that second parent adoptions are not permitted by the state's independent adoption law.
Until recently, second parent adoption was the only way for "non-biological" lesbian moms and gay dads to acquire legal parental rights for their children. Lesbian lawyers quietly legalized thousands and thousands of lesbian and gay families through this process over the last fifteen years, basing it on the independent adoption law. "Independent" (as opposed to agency) adoption was designed for the situation in which a birth mother who is giving up her child for adoption has directly designated the adoptive parents to receive the child. Lesbian lawyers adapted this process for our families so that the birth mother (or gay original adoptive dad) retains her/his parental rights, but gives up sole custody, designating the co-parent to adopt the child as a second parent. Second parent adoption was carefully spread from county to county, on the trial court level throughout the state, to the extent that the Department of Social Services modified its own forms and began recommending in favor of the adoptions, and a number of three parent adoptions were granted (lesbian couple and gay bio dad.) This process was expensive, time consuming and invasive, in that a lengthy Department of Social Services home study is required, and is a mismatch for our families, in that most of us planned our children together and have been raising them together since birth. However, until a couple of years ago second parent adoption was the only way to protect our family relationships.
The Sharon S. decision arose from a San Diego lesbian couple's nasty break-up, just prior to the granting of non-bio mom Annette's petition for adoption of their younger child. Bio mom Sharon attempted to withdraw her consent to the adoption after the statutory time limit to revoke consent had past. When the trial court refused to dismiss the adoption petition, despite extensive attempts to mediate between the women, the situation came to pass that lesbian family lawyers had strived for years to avoid: Sharon (a wealthy businesswoman) appealed to the (more conservative) higher court. Two appellate judges out of a three judge panel ruled not only that Annette could not proceed with her adoption, but suggested that second-parent adoptions are not valid in California. You can read the opinion at http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/opinions/documents/D037871A.PDF.
We should emphasize that LGBT parents who have second-parent adoption decrees are still legal parents. The court's ruling is not yet final and is being appealed. Although California's appellate and Supreme Court are very conservative, we have good reason to expect that, given the radical and unprecedented effect of the decision, it will be modified or reversed. In particular, there are strong legal grounds to challenge any retroactive application of the decision. Legislation will also be introduced in 2002, if necessary, to validate existing second parent adoptions. However, in the event that existing adoptions are voided, and for people having kids now, there are now several other legal options.
Under AB 25, beginning January 1, 2002, couples who share a residence and register with the state as domestic partners will be eligible to adopt each other's children as step parents. Step parent adoption is the simple procedure used by married couples where one biological parent is out of the picture and the other biological parent's new spouse wants to adopt the children of the former relationship. Families in which one parent originally got a child by adoption can also use step parent adoption. Step parent adoption does require a home study, but it is much less extensive than that required for independent adoptions.
Co-parents who no longer live together, who conceived their child using donor insemination, egg donation and/or surrogacy, can in most counties now establish parental rights using the Uniform Parentage Act (UPA). This is a very simple and quick procedure originally designed primarily for moms to establish paternity in order to sue the dad for child support. (There is, however, some degree of debate about how this procedure will hold up for queers should it ever be challenged, and it varies county by county whether we can do it, whether lesbians who did not use a sperm bank can do it, and whether or not you can obtain the decree before the baby is born.) There are a couple of other last resort options for those non-bio parents for whom neither step parent adoption nor UPA apply (i.e., child was originally adopted by one parent and couple have split up, or where your parental relationship is well established but the bio mom is not cooperative.)
While we believe that marriage and the nuclear family model are oppressive institutions set up to give men ownership of women and children, the current reality is that kids are emotionally and economically dependent on their parents as well as most parents on each other. Thus, we need the legal recognition of our family relationships that straight couples take for granted-- assurance that kids remain with their parent should one parent die, the right to sue for wrongful death if your child or your partner is run over (or mauled by a dog), collect social security if parent dies, receive health coverage, death benefits and other benefits, take family leave and sick leave for child's birth or illness or partner's illness, make medical decisions for a child, parent or partner, inherit money and assets automatically, etc. etc. While AB 25 does give us some important legal rights, none of our options are so great. Why should Alexsis be a "step" parent after we struggled together every step of the way through years of infertility treatment, multiple miscarriages, pregnancy complications and sleepless nights? Why did we have to pay $1250 to have a horrible social worker come to our home and lecture us about her opinion that we should tell our little boy that he has a "seed daddy" rather than a "donor"? Were lesbian family lawyers right in quietly, through behind the scenes work with trial court judges, legalizing thousands of parental relationships through a kind of made up process, hoping the right wing would never notice until we had done so many that no one would dare upset the house of cards?
You can keep updated on the status of Sharon S. through the National Center for Lesbian Rights website, www.nclrights.org You can also contact Alexsis at firstname.lastname@example.org to be put on her mailing list for update information that she will be sending her lesbian/ gay parenting clients.
Join the upcoming demonstration
Saturday, December 8, 11:00 a.m.
San Francisco City Hall
For info call (510) 434-1304
We were very saddened to hear that Kris Kovick, a wonderful lesbian cartoonist whose work we have been shamelessly plagiarizing in the newsletter for years, died on October 26 after an eight-year struggle with breast cancer. She was 50. The timing was particularly ironic, as one of her cartoons recently got us in some trouble, and we had a question we wanted to ask her about it. Now well never get a chance, but her death is a blow to all of us for more reasons than that.
Kris was born in Fresno, and raised in Wilsonia, CA, first gender-bending and performing in public when she got in trouble in kindergarten for impersonating Elvis. Kris distinguished herself as a gay and women's rights organizer at Fresno State in the 1970s. After five years in Seattle, she settled in SF in 1980, and became heavily involved in the Bernal Heights community.
The first woman to enter the printing trade in the Pacific Northwest, Kris worked as an etcher and scanner operator for twenty-five years. She made an indelible mark across the country as a cartoonist, humor writer, journalist in local gay newspapers, performance art and spoken word producer, and mentor. She is widely credited with founding the women's spoken word scene in SF, hosting a monthly show at Red Dora's Bearded Lady Cafe from 1991 to 1993. Her cartoons and writing have been published in dozens of periodicals, zines, anthologies, and humor books. What I Love About Lesbian Politics is Arguing With People I Agree With is her collection of essays and cartoons. She toured with Sister Spit, the performing all-girl word circus, and last year founded San Francisco in Exile (www.SFinExile.org), an on-line audio archive of queer spoken word.
The mayor of Norwich Street, "Uncle Kris" is survived and will be sorely missed by her most beloved yellow Labrador Sam, ex-wife Dr. Clare Bright, girlfriend Sara Moore, chosen-family Karen Browne, Ajila Hart, Mark Lammers, Erika Lopez, brothers Laura and Ginger, and many dear friends. Donations can be made in her memory to the Jon Sims Center for the Arts, 1519 Mission, SF, CA 94103. Send inquiries about a memorial and your Kris stories, pictures and poems to email@example.com, or 22 Norwich, SF, CA 94110.
Its now two months since the bombing of the pentagon and the world trade center. Much like the actual WTC site, the smoke hovering over our communities has yet to clear.
I dont think it matters whether you believe all of the conspiracy theories, or none of them, or you go back and forth like I do. It could have been bin laden, or bin laden in collusion with the cia, it could have been the mossad, or unocal could have hired the hit. If it was bin laden, or some other non-u.s. entity, then maybe the government knew about it and decided to let it happen, like it did at Pearl Harbor. So that they would have an excuse to go to war. Maybe they didnt think the WTC towers would come down, or maybe they didnt care. Maybe the fbi and the cia and "military intelligence" were just that incompetent that for all the billions of dollars they have to work with, they couldnt prevent this massive attack. I dont know. When I heard about the attack on September 11, I was only sure of one thing, it wasnt the Left. For two reasons. First, the Left has never been that cavalier with human life. And second, the left has never been that organized.
What I find obviously true is that bush and co. had their response ready. And it included a massive war effort to establish u.s. dominance in central asia, and a world wide repressive agenda carried out in the name of anti-terrorism.
The most bloodthirsty people in the world are the rich, and that includes both bush and osama bin laden. The rich gleefully murder thousands of people every day with their greed, even if not one single bomb is falling on anyone. Who actually planned and carried out the murders on September 11 doesnt really matter, just like it doesnt matter whether the "independent" florida vote count (conducted by a consortium of big media) is ever released, or shows that bush or gore won. What matters is that, in a continuation of the 2000 election, there has been a wrenching of political power to the u.s. based international oil cartel, and in the process there has already been massive loss of life and liberty.
The events of September 11 proved to be particularly lucky for certain people. In the 30 days prior, the worlds newspapers had been reporting on the discussions at the UN conference on Racism, about the racist/apartheid nature of the Zionist state. The Newsweek dated September 17 had a front page story explaining how the supreme court had come to their decision to make bush president. Other front-page news included the tremendous brutality of the italian neo-fascist regime in suppressing the anti-global capitalism demonstrations, the 8.7 million dollar settlement in July of Haitian immigrant Abner Louimas lawsuit against the nypd, and the downward spiral of the stock market and the economy. And let us not forget that u.s. oil companies were mired in negotiations to build pipelines to tap the oil and natural gas reserves in central asia.
Six thousand plus dead people later, and bush was being called presidential, israelis were sanctimoniously sympathizing about terrorism, and the u.s. was starting construction of their new pipeline by dropping 8000 bombs in the past 30 days. All government budgets were diverted to pay for police and military. The fbi and cia, who had so effectively foreseen and prevented the WTC disaster, were provided a dandy budget supplement, and a lovely set of repressive new powers, although thanks to the intervention of the extreme right (that is, the u.s. house of representatives), not as many as ashcroft desired. California, which had already sent most of its money into the coffers of PG&E and Southern California Edison, is now preparing for a 20% budget cut, if not more. And since the highway patrol is on continual overtime status, and the state is paying for the national guard to stand around the airports, the budget cut for social services will be much greater. Israel didnt waste even 24 hours before moving additional military forces into the occupied territories, and demolishing houses, tearing up roads, and shooting and bombing people. The tanking u.s. and world economy is now blamed on the WTC terrorism, bush is (supposedly) in the white house and all is right with the world.
Meanwhile, the u.s. public, including myself, is kept constantly on edge with threats of further bombings, anthrax and bioterrorism. I was personally angered when, after the first death of a postal employee, the spokesman for the centers for disease control (CDC) said that they just hadnt thought that material that was inside an envelope could have gotten out. OK, so they had obviously made their decisions without visiting a mail processing facility, but had they also never received a piece of mail? This friday, the fbi released their "profile" of the antrax terrorist -- an adult male, who knew something about science, and if he was employed, probably worked in a job that didnt have a lot of public contact. I think this came from the psychic hot line. There was the warning that sometime between October 28 and November 5 there would be an attack on the u.s. or u.s. interests somewhere in the world, and the almost simultaneous threat that between November 1 and November 7 there might be an attack on one of the bridges in the 8 western states. We were instructed to "go about our normal activities" while "maintaining a heightened state of vigilance."
I was wondering what I could do in a heightened state of vigilance, when I heard ron laPorte, an epidemiologist, who has suggested developing a rat-on-your neighbor internet program. People could log on, and report suspicious activities. He compared this to a national neighborhood watch program. He said that this would expand the cias surveillance capabilities from the 10,000 or so employees they currently have (his numbers) to maybe 10,000,000 gladys kravitzs across the country (my Bewitched analogy).
Almost as cynical as the purported "food drops" on Afghanistan has been the carefully planted stories that the u.s. would be supporting a Palestinian state, in order to maintain its "anti-terrorism" coalition. The story was first floated by the senator from great britain, tony blair. Unfortunately, like the food drops, there are no actual calories there -- no land, no water rights, no economy. However, the Palestinian state would be expected to take all of the over one million refugees who are living in camps in neighboring countries.
For all the people that have died since September 10, we dont see that many bodies. The Iraqis who continue to die from the sanctions have always had the disadvantage of being invisible. The bodies of most of the people who died at the world trade center will never be recovered, because when it collapsed it became kind of like a blender, and people were more or less vaporized. (The several hundred bodies they have found were mostly from people who were around the building when it fell.) The govt bought up the entire Afghanistan output of a commercial satellite which takes news service pictures of earth, so the public wouldnt see the dead civilians at the "military" targets.
These are frightening times. Ashcroft, bush, and ridge are creating as much of a police state as they can before the people come to their senses (and experience shows they may have quite a few years to perfect their work). Over a thousand people, almost all Arab or Muslim, have been disappeared by the INS, FBI and CIA. The largest american flag in the country (and therefore, presumably, the world) has been installed on the siebel building in emeryville. Appropriately enough, its plastic, and covers several stories worth of windows on most of the side of the building, which faces the I-80 freeway. I suppose that way, it doesnt block the executives view of the bay.
Doesnt the "office of homeland security" sound like something from the nazis? Or maybe the british in northern ireland? Or the old apartheid regime in south africa? Troops in the airports, and on the Bay bridge, and BART cops who go through the trains at the west oakland station, but not during rush hours. (BART has also responded to the terrorist threat by closing the public bathrooms, and getting rid of trash cans.)
Count on PG&E to make the most of a bad situation. Citing the fear of anthrax, the city of san francisco conveniently decided to sequester several thousand (no one knows the exact number) ballots, and put them in an unguarded location. These ballots will provide the margin of victory (or defeat) for measures F and I which would have established a public power utility. How do you think the vote is going to come out? So what, you didnt think willie brown was as smart as jeb bush?
The u.s. is at war, and is trying to reconfigure central asia to suit its purposes, or rather the purposes of unocal and amoco. Maybe a million, or maybe three or five million people in Afghanistan will die this winter from cold and malnutrition, many more than will die as a direct result of the bombing. Bush is now talking about how the taliban or Al Queda is trying to get nuclear weapons, and I suppose that means he is planning to use nukes there. Of course, Pakistan, India, Russia, and Israel also have nuclear weapons, but Im betting the u.s. does it first -- it has the advantage of experience.
The u.s. government is determined to grotesquely increase the war budget, the police budget, and the spy budget, and at the same time to cut taxes. It cant all come from social services, because there just isnt that much money there. I guess theyll probably take the social security trust fund, but what will they do when they have taken it all?
Thousands of people in the Bay Area have been actively organizing against the war. In the week after September 11, over 1000 people attended coalition meetings in San Francisco or Oakland. Every week so far there have been at least 50 activities in the greater Bay Area, ranging from Women in Black Vigils in Sebastopol to teach-ins in Hayward. It took the anti-vietnam war movement four years to reach this level of organizing. We in LAGAI have been chasing around from coalition meeting to emergency response demonstrations, to vigils. Except for QUIT! and LAGAI, theres been damn little queer visibility. At some demonstrations there were 35 speakers, and not one of them spoke for the queer community.
In addition to the recurring visibility problem the left has with queers (even though many of them are) other familiar issues are emerging in this movement. Much of this organizing is intentionally or unintentionally single-issue -- three demands -- stop the war, stop racist attacks, protect civil liberties. While the world trade organization meets in Qatar, several of the anti-war coalitions wont even take a position on Palestine, much less the failure of the health care system, the building of the super jail in Oakland, or the fact that many welfare recipients have now timed out on the limits which were placed under "welfare reform." The california court of appeals just held that second parent adoptions have no basis in law, disability rights continue to be undermined, the rate of unionization continues to fall, union activists around the world continue to be assassinated.
Single issue organizing isolates our movement, and is contrary to its analysis. Speakers at rally after rally explain how this war is about oil, about the control of this central geopolitical region, about corporate profits and repression. If this is true that the war and repression are occurring in that context, then our movement has to occur in a context as well. Anti-war coalitions must take positions not only on Palestine, but on the super-jail, health care, and social justice, including queer liberation. In the past couple of months, a lot of other political work has been put on hold, in order to mount a response to the war and genocide in afghanistan. It is time that we resume that work -- and integrate the anti-war movement into it.
This war is portrayed as a conflict with two sides, each of which is more repugnant to us than the next. Theres the murderous bush and the oil companies, and the murderous taliban and the oil companies. But we do have a side -- its the people of Afghanistan, and the grassroots organizations like RAWA (Revolutionary Afghan Womens Association) who have bravely resisted the taliban, and who are still fighting for their survival.
The biggest challenge that we face in organizing against this war is the utter despair that has overcome many progressives. The suddenness of the attack, grief over the loss of life in NYC and Afghanistan, fear of government repression, and fears for peoples personal safety, have literally driven some people to their beds.
Continuing with our other political work maintains a place for dissent in this repressive era, and also gives us a chance to experience important victories. Imagine my surprise when I attended for work a conference on diesel emissions in maritime operations (ports) and found that West Oakland Neighbors had pried $9 million dollars from the tight-fisted port of oakland to reduce cancer and asthma causing particulate emissions. The coalition led by Books Not Bars and Youth Force has already reduced the size of the proposed super jail in alameda county, and will hopefully reduce it further. It may be true that we will all get blown up, or killed by some dread plague tomorrow, or in five years or whatever. But what if we dont?
Some people of my generation are forever talking about how they know how to build a mass movement, because they had (usually personally) built the movement that stopped the vietnam war. Now, I was in that movement, and Im pretty sure that the reason the war ended was because the u.s., even with 500,000 ground troops, and napalm and pesticides falling from the air, was beaten by the long and costly struggle of the Vietnamese people. The contribution the u.s. movements made to that, was to create enough dissension at home that it became less easy for them to conduct this war. Those movements were multi-issued -- The Black Panther Party opposed the war, the Gay Liberation Front opposed the war, womens liberation, rank and file labor, the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, all opposed the war. The government became increasingly entangled in a web of resistance, and became incapable of focussing as many resources as it needed to defeat the Vietnamese.
So thats our plan, in LAGAI at least. We will integrate anti-war work into our work, participate in the anti-war movement and the movement against racist attacks, and avoid annoying and sectarian coalition meetings. Want to join us?
September 24 was a typical post-9/11 day for me. I woke up too early, went to a training for volunteers on the National Lawyers Guild legal rights hotline, attended a meeting of the newly formed Community Protection Network, then went to a Jewish Voice for Peace vigil where I spoke as a member of QUIT! and San Francisco Women In Black. I arrived at work for my evening shift already exhausted.
The normalness ended when I got home at 1:00 a.m. and found a strange message on my voicemail. "Hi, Kate," the woman said, "my name is Amy Polling and Im with the San Francisco office of the FBI. Id like to ask you a few questions, so please give me a call at your earliest convenience." She left a direct number and the FBI main number, in case I wanted to "verify her employment." I thought, is this some kind of Lawyers Guild training exercise, to make sure the volunteers know what to do if someone gets a call from the FBI? It seemed a little far-fetched, but so did the idea of the FBI leaving me a voicemail.
I called the main FBI number, asked if Ms. Polling worked there, and quickly hung up when they said she did. When I put the phone down, I was surprised to find myself shaking. I was also just plain surprised. I mean, who thinks of the FBI leaving voicemails? You think of two agents in dark suits with skinny ties showing up at your door or your job. And you dont think of them sounding so casual and chatty. I mean, whose side did this woman think Im on anyway?
I asked my friend Rachel, one of the NLG lawyers who had done the training that morning, to call the agent back and find out which of my political activities she was interested in. It turned out, or at least she said, that she wanted to talk to me because of my involvement in Women In Black, about September 11 and who I know in the Middle East. (For anyone who doesnt know, Women In Black holds monthly vigils in downtown San Francisco demanding an end to the occupation of Palestine, and now, an end to U.S. war and racist attacks at home. We are part of a loose international network of womens peace vigils.) She invited Rachel to come with me to talk to her. Immediately after talking to Rachel, Amy left me another message, and in this one she said that if I didnt come talk to her "really soon" she would "probably end up subpoenaing me." Of course, the FBI, to their chagrin, does not actually have the power to subpoena people, but theyre also not noted for their truthfulness.
Having read Agents of Repression, the book which chronicles the FBIs war of terror against the Black Panthers and the American Indian Movement, and knowing some of the history of the Puerto Rican independence movement, I had no intention of talking to the FBI (though I admit I was curious what it would be like). But many other people, including many leftists, have said that because the September 11 attacks were a horrible crime which is indisputable everyone should cooperate with the FBI investigation in any way they can. People who have met with them, mostly Afghan, Arab, Muslim or Pakistani people, but also some activists in Dallas and other areas around the country, have been asked questions like, "What groups do you contribute money to?"; "Who else do you know who supports that organization?"; "How did you feel about the attack on the World Trade Center? Do you know anyone who was happy about it?" Such questions clearly are not relevant to finding out who planned the attacks.
Rachel felt that if the FBI would give us a list of the questions they wanted to ask me (and if it was accurate), we could use it to show people the fallacy of thinking they could just go and say, "I dont know anything," and walk out again. But when she asked Amy if she would give us the list, Amy said that she was going to report me "noncooperative" to the federal prosecutors in New York and see if they wanted to subpoena me to the grand jury there. Thats the last I have heard from them, and most people who know anything about how grand juries work think that it is unlikely they would subpoena me.
In the meantime, I went on KPFA to let people know that the attempt to question activists was apparently beginning in this area. I got to say the line which might one day end up on my tombstone, "If the FBI believes that Jewish lesbians are tight with Islamic fundamentalist men, their grasp of geopolitical realities is more tenuous than we thought." Other media picked up the story too. (Channel 20, which I didnt even know had news). Then Ronnie Gilbert, the folk singer who was targeted by the FBI during the McCarthy witchhunts and who participates in Bay Area Women In Black (which is separate from the San Francisco and Berkeley vigils), wrote an editorial about the similarity between those times and these, which was circulated via e-mail around the world. I even got to answer one question from my personal hero, Amy Goodman on "Democracy Now." Interestingly, the San Francisco mainstream media has completely ignored the subject, while the San Jose Mercury News did a big story on it with two photos (conveniently, getting a little press for the fight against the Alameda County SuperJail for youth).
(I thought Ronnie was being a little melodramatic, but I was probably wrong. As we put UV to bed, bush advisor karl rove is meeting with Hollywood studio execs in Beverly Hills, "to brief [them] on the war effort, and to discuss how Hollywood might contribute to spreading the Bush message. The administration will share with studio executives the themes we're communicating at home and abroad of patriotism, tolerance and courage," said Ken Lisaius, a White House spokesman.)
All the publicity seems to have deterred the government from going on a full-scale fishing expedition among the left in this area, at least so far. That of course has freed them up for even more aggressive forays into the Afghan community in Fremont and Hayward, where virtually everyone has been visited by the FBI, usually being told not to tell their lawyers that they were questioned. In Santa Rosa, the FBI harassed a Puerto Rican woman at the school where she works and accosted her husband, who is African American, at the DMV, after neighbors reported that they had a "suspicious" houseguest with New York license plates. The guest was a friend who was visiting from Bolivia.
The National Lawyers Guild has a 24-hour hotline to provide support for people being questioned by the FBI or INS, as well as people who are arrested in demonstrations or other political activity. (Friends of ours were arrested putting up posters in Civic Center and held on felony charges before being released on $5,000 bail each. The charges were later dropped.) At least 8 Bay Area residents, and 6 more from Sacramento, are among the 200+ being held by the INS.
Since passage of the "USA PATRIOT" (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism) Act [see sidebar], the FBI have been even more zealous in hassling people, especially in Arab, Muslim and Central Asian communities. Two days after the Act passed, they burst into the home of a Tunisian man in Bay Area and said they were there to search his house, and that the new law said they didnt need a warrant. In fact, they still do need one, although it doesnt do you that much good because they dont need to have it on them so you cant see what it entitles them to search.
NLG local program director Riva Enteen reports that she has been getting about one call a day from people being harassed by the FBI, but last Friday she got three such calls.
One man, a white retired phone company employee, reported that the FBI showed up at his house and said they had heard he was talking at his South of Market health club about the war and oil. He refused to talk to them and tracked down the information that health club management reported conversations he had while on the treadmill to the FBI. The head of a Stockton mosque was visited by agents who said they wanted to ask him about everyone he knows. His daughter called the Guild, who found a lawyer to accompany him.
An intellectual property lawyer at a major Palo Alto law firm got a call from the FBI saying they were coming to his office at 2:00 to interview him. He is Middle Eastern, but his name is not Middle Eastern and he does not participate in any organizations or even give money to any. After calling the Guild, he decided to tell the agents he could not meet with them until Wednesday and left them a message to that effect. They showed up at his office anyway, dodged the receptionist (who had been told not to let them in) and demanded that he talk to them right away (which he did not). A lawyer from the Guild thinks the FBI might be interested in him because he has posted articles from the Washington Post on the list.
At a meeting on hate crimes, a San Francisco district attorney said that d.a. hallinans office is prepared to prosecute people who desecrate other peoples amerikkkan flags for hate crimes. I wasnt aware that flag-lover was an ethnicity or other protected class, but then thats only one of the many things I didnt know.
On November 2, the Agent Chuck Esposito, from the Oakland FBI office, telephoned "Espe," a volunteer who has worked with the San Francisco Indymedia collective. Agent Esposito asked Espe if he had access to server logs, if he administered "indymedia sites," and if he had access to the server. Espe only replied that he could not answer questions without the presence of an attorney. Agent Esposito asked Espe if he knew what the call was about or if anyone else had contacted him. Espe said, "No, care to fill me in?" Agent Esposito replied, "not until I'm ready."
Nationally, professors have been suspended and disciplined for criticizing israel or saying that u.s. policies around the world contribute to terrorism. Katie Sierra, a high school student near Charleston, South Carolina was suspended for passing out leaflets for an anarchist club while wearing a t-shirt with the anti-war slogans. The principal said that Katies t-shirt made students feel unsafe.
In one of the more surreal episodes, a member of the coordinating committee of the Green Party USA was forbidden to board a plane any plane in Bangor, Maine, where she was trying to go to a Green Party convention. She believes this was because of a statement she had co-authored which calls the u.s. bombing of Afghanistan state terrorism. A few days later, a rival organization, called "Green Party of the United States," issued a statement "debunking" Odens story. She then issued a debunking of the debunking. A Comeback for COINTELPRO? Another guy was prevented from boarding a plane in Pennsylvania because he was carrying a copy of a book by Edward Abbey.
In the early days after the attacks, political prisoners including Marilyn Buck, Sundiata Acoli and Phillip Berrigan were put in isolation, officially "for their safety," and denied any contact with the outside, including access to their lawyers. Now, the Injustice Department has codified this into law, with new directives that inmates (including detainees) "reasonably believed" to have terrorist connections can be denied contact with attorneys for up to a year, and can have their legal mail and phone calls monitored. And, of course, the government continues to contemplate the use of torture or truth serums (which as suspected only work on "Star Trek") on the 4 unlucky men, out of the 1100 detained, who it believes have actual knowledge about the September 11 events.
The Guild is working with the ACLU and other groups to try to get information on how many of the 1,100 who apparently have been detained by the INS or FBI since 9/11 are still in custody. The press, especially the Washington Post, has been helpful in tracking down information, but gives conflicting information, sometimes indicating that most of the 1,100 are still being held and at other times suggesting that most have been released. The Guild has hired a national staff person who is collecting information about post-9/11 detentions and other harassment; she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It was clear to all of us even on September 11 that the repression would be coming fast and furious. Whats been unsettling is the seeming randomness of it. We assume our political activities would bring us in for scrutiny, but it is just as likely to be a joke overheard on the bus. The activist stars among us have been passed over for weird people like me. The moral of the story is, KNOW YOUR RIGHTS. The NLG has put out a great pamphlet, which is available in English, Farsi, Arabic and Spanish (Urdu and Punjabi are being produced.) To get copies of it, call the NLG at (415) 285-1055 or go to www.globalexchange.org (or for the national version, www.nlg.org). The Community Protection Network, a grassroots coalition of concerned individuals and organizations, including LAGAI and QUIT!, is distributing legal information weekly at mosques, markets and other locations in the Arab and Muslim communities, and working with members of the Afghan and Arab communities to develop ways to reach more people. To help do this outreach in San Francisco, call Steve at Global Exchange (415) 255-7296; for East Bay call Kate at (510) 666-1376. If the FBI or INS approaches you or any of your friends, or if anyone you know is arrested or detained in the Bay Area, immediately (before saying anything) call the Lawyers Guild at (415) 285-1055.
The full text of the Act is available online at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?c107:4:./temp/~c107zUCwNN::. Good analysis can be found at www.aclu.org.
An incomplete and unordered whos what and where in the antiwar and related movements.
Solidarity Committee of Youth Empowerment Center
They most recently sponsored a teach-in on November 3. Contact: (510) 451-5466; email@example.com.
Peoples Nonviolent Response Coalition. They just worked on a rally for her current holiness Barbara Lee. Contact: www.pnrbc.net
INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence. "A national activist organization of radical feminists of color advancing a movement to end violence against women of color and their communities through direct action, critical dialogue and grassroots organizing." Contact (415) 861-2024x302
Students for Justice in Palestine. Working to get the UC to divest from israel, end israeli apartheid, etc. Much good work. Contact: justiceinpalestine.org., P.O. Box 40408, Berkeley, CA 94704, (510) 551-7643.
QUIT! Queers for Palestine. Will be conducting vigils the 3rd Sunday of every month to highlight the victims of israeli terrorism in Palestine. Queerifies the antiwar movement and cant seem to get far enough away from the Sparts at those annoying rallies. Work with QUIT! and others to end israeli apartheid. See you at the vigil at Harvey Milk Plaza (Castro and Market), Sunday, November 25, 2pm. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
UC Berkeley Stop the War Coalition. Contact: email@example.com, (510) 343-2139x5412.
Global Exchange; 2017 Mission #303, San Francisco, CA 94110 (415) 255-7296, firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out the calendar at globalexchange.org.
MECA Middle East Childrens Alliance. 905 Parker Street, Berkeley, CA 94710, (510) 548-0542. mecaforpeace.org, email@example.com
ADC American Arab Antidiscrimination Committee. Were you at the rally they co-sponsored with ANSWER-IAC-APC-Workers World on November 3 against israeli massacres of Palestinians? Contact (415) 861-7444. Go to their website www.adc.org.
LAGAI- Lesbian and Gay Insurrection. If youre reading this you know who we are. Disgruntled queer activists who just wont stop. Contact: LAGAI 3543-18th Street, Box 26. San Francisco, CA 94110. firstname.lastname@example.org. Were here! Were queer! Were not going bombing!
San Francisco Women in Black. Contact: (510) 434-1304, email@example.com
Berkeley Women in Black. go to www.womeninblack.org.
National Lawyers Guild-San Francisco Chapter. Hotline for police/government harassment and repression. If you get called by the FBI, the INS, or anybody else call (415) 285-1055 or (415) 255-0796.
Community Protection Network. Organizing support for people who are targets of hate violence and harassment since September 11. Working with NLG to distribute Know Your Rights legal information in English, Arabic, Farsi, Spanish and Punjabi. Contact Leila or Steve at Global Exchange (415) 255-7296.
ANSWER. go to www.internationalanswer.org.
San Francisco Town Hall Coalition, go to www.sftownhall.org
On September 25 at the alameda county board of stupervisors, the people had a short lived victory. Even though it only lasted one week the story of how and what we won is instructive and exciting.
As many UltraViolet readers know, I have been fighting to save the alameda county medical center, which for years has been under attack. The board of stupervisors chronically underfunds health care in favor of law-n-order departments like the sheriff or probation. At any given moment health care services are in jeopardy. In part this is due to a mistaken philosophy advocated to the b.o.s by THE EVIL DAVE KEARS, that the medical center should buy services rather than provide them. What he wanted was to contract out the care for the uninsured to the private sector. He convinced the b.o.s that the hospital could some how make money, given the proper finagling, off the sickness and misery of poor people. PUSH (People United to Save Health Care), Vote Health and sometimes the health care workers unions at the medical center have been able to hold some ground at the hospital. There is a new five-story building at Highland almost completed, because the community agitated. But troubles are ever brewing at the medical center. Fairmont hospital with its various specialty clinics, the AIDS clinic, the urgent care with its same day appointment capacity, the acute rehab and its Skilled Nursing Facility with the neuro respiratory unit are all in danger of being closed, if the b.o.s doesnt change its priorities in how it allocates the county money.
As this health care drama unfolds, Books Not Bars (BNB) and Youth Force coalition(YFC) have been fighting with alameda county to prevent an obscene expansion of juvenile hall. Everyone know that the existing hall is a mess and needs to be rebuilt, but what the county wants to do is build the biggest juvenile hall in the country (540 beds) way out in Dublin, far from the peoples communities . Detroit, with a larger population than alameda county, has a hall of 190 beds. The plan is to build an east county mall of criminal injustice, with east county government offices, a new complex for the sheriff, and the diabolical juvenile hall. It is a lousy idea and we wonder who stands to gain from this major building project. A fresh loud militant youth movement is growing to oppose this misuse of county funds. They are not going to allow this attempt to incarcerate the youth of color of alameda county. Instead they are demanding alternatives to incarceration and a smaller juvey close to Oakland.
An interesting partnership began with BNB, YFC and VH. We realized that the money being allocated for this profligate juvenile hall is money that should be given for the much needed rebuilding of Fairmont hospital. We began meeting to see how we could combine our strategies to most effectively pressure the b.o.s to change its priorities. We agreed to storm the b.o.s. at the hearing for the emerald fund, money from selling county land that the county has set aside for capital improvements. The b.o.s. plans to use the interest from this fund to secure the loans needed for this giant juvenile hall rather than rebuilding decaying hospital buildings vital to the community..
On 11/25/01 in spite of the horrendous pressure on activists to stop in their tracks because of rising worldwide repression, this fledgling partnership collected an unprecedented array of community groups at the alameda county board of stupervisors. In addition to a refreshingly militant group of political activist youth there were Californians For Justice, Gray Panthers, Vote Health members, people from the California Nursing Home Reform (CANHR), the group fighting to preserve the neuro respiratory unit at Fairmont . The queer community was well represented by LAGAI, and ACT UP East Bay. John Iversen of ACT UP East Bay spearheaded the fight for the improved site for HIV services at Fairmont with the help of community groups like PUSH and Vote Health. People from the neighborhood group in Berkeley protesting the expansion of sutter were in attendance. SEIU locals 616 and 250 were there, as well they should have been, given they represent the workers at Fairmont. Even some vaguely NIMBYish people from Dublin came, seemingly becoming politicized in the process of protesting a juvenile hall in their neighborhood. It was quite a crowd, much to the distress of the stupervisors keith carson, nate miley, scott haggerty, gale steele and alice lai-bitker who sat on the dais staring blankly at the scene with pained expressions.
After an exceedingly boring presentation by the county complete with PowerPoint slides and stiff suit men, the hearing began in earnest with chaotic, creative and rowdy public speaking. The speakers cajoled, reasoned, did spoken word, protested, gave brilliant arguments. Over and over one point was driven home, whether the speakers were talking about the juvenile hall or health care, that the county must change its priorities. Suddenly the board of stupervisors and the people in the audience got the link between Fairmont and this dreadful jail for kids. The people dont want a super jail for kids, they want a functioning county hospital, good social services and alternatives to incarceration. The people want a small new juvenile hall in Oakland and a rebuilt Fairmont hospital!!! YFC activists smuggled in large letters on legal size sheets of paper and took these letters out at one point to spell NO SUPER JAIL FOR KIDS. I spoke on behalf of queers, always a big surprise to the stupervisors, as they seem shocked to hear that LGBT people think about health care or the incarceration of kids.
Wilson Riles, running for major and a real progressive, spoke succinctly to b.o.s. describing the ravages of institutional racism and how the super jail perpetuates this. The pressure was by then mounting. gail steele was looking like she was going to weep, something she does frequently. haggerty looked belligerent, red faced, and constantly attempted to control the public speaking like a disgruntled school teacher. He had little success as the will of the people was strong this day.
Just as the speaking was about to close a fierce Asian woman from a student group strode like a warrior up to the front of the room and presented her speaking slip. She began with a history of Asian people in Oakland. She spoke directly to alice lai-bitker and asked her not to betray her people. There was a massive silence and alice, draped in her silk amerikan flag scarf, trembled.
The bored of stupervisers prepared to vote on the capital improvement fund (the emerald fund). gail steele moved to vote on the plan as is which includes the 480 bed juvenile hall with a structural capacity for 540 beds and some vague mention about creating a master plan for Fairmont hospital. Nate miley proposed a substitute which asked for consideration of a smaller juvenile hall looking at two sites, with the money saved to go to Fairmont hospital. There was much controversy about the legitimacy of the substitute motion, but county counsel gave the ok to the motion. scotts face became two shades redder, looking somewhat like a beet at this point.
So the vote proceeded. gail and scott predictably voted against it. (gail feels that having a bigger hall will increase mental health services to youth -- go figure. You would have to be incarcerated to get the mental health services!) nate and keith voted for it as expected. Then came the cliff-hanger moment waiting to see what alice would do. She shook, she hemmed and hawed, the county bigwigs glared at her. The people began shouting "you can do it" "Do the right thing alice" . There was a cacophony of people urging alice on. Finally after many minutes went by alice said yes in a quivering voice. The hearing exploded!!! Chanting for the sheer joy of it "there aint no power like the power of the people cause the power of the people wont stop," people hugged each other. Youth hugged aged vote health people. It was quite the scene. This day because of the will of the people and a big enough grassroots force we got a third vote on the board of stupervisors. In the back ground the EVIL DAVE KEARS glowered; he had favored the super jail. scott haggerty looked ready to kill. The people partied with joy.
One week later alice liar-bitker took it all back in the next b.o.s. session. The county power got to her. don perata, sheriff plummer, THE EVIL DAVE KEARS jacked her up against a wall somewhere and said no! no! no! and she caved . She called for a reconsideration of the motion because she could, having voted for it. They took the whole damned thing back. So Vote Health is back working harder on a campaign to save Fairmont hospital. BNB has many events building towards a big protest at the department of corrections in sacramento 11/15/01. What we know is if we keep on organizing we will win. When the people say it loud enough and strong enough we have an impact. When we link are issues together we have true power. The board of stupervisors folded when they saw so many groups speaking together!!!!
Do not be discouraged!
Call alice liar bitker and tell her to change her vote back
Call BNB 415-951-4844 x28; go to Sacramento on November 15
Call Tory 510-534-5006 to get info about the local issues group of Vote Health to work on saving Fairmont
HEALTH CARE IS A HUMAN RIGHT
NO SUPER JAIL FOR KIDS
The news sounded good on November 2. Marion Barry, former Washington D.C. mayor and recent addition to the pacifica board, dropped by to talk with KPFAs Mark Mericle, and said that an agreement had been reached in the 12 hour mediation the previous day. That weekend, there was a preliminary celebration outside of KPFA. Things were looking particularly hopeful, because executive director Bessie Wash, who had engineered the xmas coup at WBAI had resigned in October. Also, Ken Ford, the vice-chairman of the pacifica board who had urged the sale of KPFA, was forced to resign after comparing anti-pacifica activists to al Quaeda.
But a few days later, the news came that pacifica was not willing to accept important portions of the agreement, and is refusing futher mediation. Which is too bad, because, among other things, Barry told Mericle that the pacifica board had already spent TWO MILLION DOLLARS in fighting against the local stations.
According to the Pacifica Campaign website, $525,000 was paid to Epstein Becker and Green and other union-busting lawfirms in the year 2000, to fight the various lawsuits. In 1999, pacifica spent $440,000 on armed guards at KPFA. Thirty cents out of every pledge dollar goes to the pacifica bureaucracy.
Meanwhile, pacifica isnt even paying the bills. On October 22, KPFK staffers wrote a letter to the pacifica board, stating, "Bills that are months overdue include utilities, engineers, contractors, strategic vendors, and news services. Virtually every station credit account has been closed or put on hold. Even line-level staff members who fronted personal money because our accounts were closed have gone un-reimbursed for months. Employees owed as much as $1200 are simply ignored. We can no longer use Fed Ex, pick up parts for repairs and installations or go to Staples for copy paper. We have no petty cash. Our phones have come within one hour of shut-off. Our new antenna cannot be installed because of unpaid transfer and storage bills. Repeated pleas have been made to the office of the Executive Director to remedy this emergency and, equally important to clarify the financial standing of the network. We have only gotten unfulfilled promises."
On Thursday, November 8, donors picketed KPFK, and pledged not to provide pacifica with any more funds, since they have used the funds to destroy the network. The lawsuits are scheduled to be heard in January. Meanwhile, the Pacifica Campaign has called for a national day of action on Wednesday, November 14th, against pacifica board treasurer Wendell Johns who works for Fannie Mae, the worlds largest non-bank financial services company. They are also focussing on the next national board meeting, which is scheduled for November 17 in Washington.
Meanwhile, people are urged to continue to boycott ALL pacifica fundraising, and to contribute to alternate funds. You can find information at www.pacificacampaign.org, or www.savepacifica.net. Also, contact california senator john burton and support him to demand a financial accounting from the pacifica board.
As a night worker, I slept in on the morning of September 11th. I awoke to the sounds of my roommate talking on the phone. He was talking about burning buildings and how many flights of stairs could the average person run down in an hour. My first thought was "what crappy movie did he see last night?" and I rolled over and went back to sleep. When I finally arose I was shocked, depressed, enraged and frightened by reality. Considering that the media is often the amerikan window on reality, it might partially explain the headaches, indigestion, insomnia and emotional outbursts. Of course the sickening violence didnt help either.
Reading about the way things have been going for queers since 9/11 hasnt helped my mood. Queer web sites report a summer of intense homophobia in Yugoslavia and Uganda. Queers have been executed in Afghanistan and Nigeria. The 52 gay men on trial in Egypt are expected to be sentenced harshly to placate Egyptian fundamentalists as the Mubarak joins the u.s. coalition against Afghanistan. The 15-year-old who was tried separately from the adults has already been sentenced to five years in prison. The anti-immigrant climate in this country will doubtless put the brakes on the recent movement to give refugee status to queers from countries that execute, imprison and torture them. The prime minister of Malaysia has announced plans to exclude british gay men from his country, including diplomats assigned there. Given the imperialist history of the british in Malaysia, we understand not wanting them there, but why single out the gay ones?
Not everyone has been behaving like the depression poster child (Im special), The folks at Community Marketing, Inc. report that Gay & Lesbian travelers wont cut back on their vacations. Their survey indicated that G & Ls will take at least 3 trips in the coming year. The fact that they didnt report the vacation plans of transgendered people cause one to wonder just whose community are they marketing to as if we didnt know. This was timed to make Lesbian and Gays seem more patriotic because "we" arent afraid to fly. If we just give people a reason to like us then we can all get along. Not.
Speaking of trips, two crazed fundamentalists recently tripped over their own tongues. Jerry Falwell blamed Queers and baby killers for Gawds withdrawal of protection from the u.s. If gay sex could pull planes from the sky, the Castro would look like Kabul. Lou Sheldon of TVC (traditional values coalition) infamy argued that surviving lovers of queers who died in the WTC shouldnt receive assistance from the Red Cross. Women who are home with their babies should get the bucks. From what weve heard about how the Red Cross has been handling the donations, I dont think poor Lou should lose any sleep about anyone getting help.
Interestingly, English gay web sites had stories quoting American leftists such as New Yorks QEJN (Queer Economic Justice Network) and SFs QUIT. If only the queer left received that kind of coverage in the u.s. Another u.k. web site had an interview with a "paramilitary queer" (a gay I.R.A. member). He felt that both the IRA and the unionist paramilitary people were more progressive on homophobia than their respective communities. Interesting, but I dont think Ill quit my regular job.
In addition to extensive coverage of the Queen Boat 52 trial, GayEgypt.com takes a stand against the anti-Jewish hysteria that is sweeping much of the Arab press. Both the alleged homosexuality of the 52 men on trial and GayEgypt.com are being called a Zionist Plot by conservative Muslims. The folks who put up the site encourage gays in Egypt to log on from different locations to avoid capture. They also advocate resisting both Sharon and anti-Semitism. The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (iglhrc.org) is also a good source of information on queers in Egypt and elsewhere.
Another good web site is from an African gay group called Behind the Mask. They cover gay issues through out Africa. They are a little bit too Christian but they are still an important voice. Their thoughts on the rise of both gays and Muslims in South Africa were interesting. According to Behind the Mask, "new-found [Islamic] fundamentalism and the rise of vigilante groups also plays an important part in the oppression of homosexuals." South Africa has protections for gays in their Constitution. There was also coverage of the rise of radical Islam in Nigeria. A gay man was stoned to death after the introduction of Sharia, the strict code of Islamic law.
There are a growing number of gay Islamic sites. While they provide an important role in challenging stereotypes, these sites advocate that Islam is not homophobic. They are for a different interpretation of the Koran (like the Liberace version). Just as gay Christians insist that Jesus said nothing homosexuality, these gay Muslims insist that religious homophobia is a big misunderstanding. Religion is just as much about its followers as it is its founders. If the followers of a religion are homophobic then the religion is homophobic. Ill take freedom from religion any day before freedom of religion. However, the gay Muslim voice does need to be heard. Conservative Muslim clerics have issued a fatwa condemning gay Islamic groups as apostates. We need to stand in solidarity with all victims of heterosexism.
People need to be careful of what they read and think about it. Just because its on the net doesnt mean its true. The best hope for building safe spaces for queers is free thoughtful speech that leads to direct action.
by Chaya and Deni with wags from Mocha
Highest Rating: 2 Paws and a Tail Up
"Haiku Tunnel" 2 Paws Up: We like Josh Kornbluth and his wry progressive commentary, and have seen him locally in several of his monologue productions. He and his brother Jacob made the movie Haiku Tunnel from one of the stories in Joshs hilarious book Red Diaper Baby (highly recommended reading). Haiku Tunnel is the story of Joshs experiences working as a temp legal secretary at a San Francisco corporate law firm (the one with the embarrassing initials S&M in the movie, PMS in real life). Not only is it the same law firm that Chaya worked at for many years, but Josh even sat at Chayas desk for a week while she was on vacation! Chaya can testify that much of what Josh so humorously portrays is absolutely true. The Kornbluth Brothers did a pretty good job adapting a monologue to the big screen, with excellent performances by Josh and the other actors. We look forward to their future productions.
"K-PAX" 3 Paws Down (one of the paws was from Deeg; refer to last issues note on our ratings system for further obfuscation ): Kevin Spacey as an alien? Or, no, maybe hes really a psychotic person being analyzed by an annoying Jeff Bridges in a Manhattan mental hospital? But wait, he must be an alien cause watch him cure all those other people in the institution with some good old believe-in-yourself claptrap. Gosh, if theres anything we love, its the romanticization of mental illness. While the movie professed to question the nuclear family, it actually glorified it. Aside from offensive, the movie was highly clichéd, overly long, and poorly written. AND it idiotically referred to a particular Golden Retriever in the film as a dog who "never likes anyone" (hardly a feature of Goldens - Mocha is considering litigation).
Things are so bad in the real world these days that Deni finds herself pondering the upcoming Lord of the Rings movie, having read the trilogy 20+ times. Im wondering how the movie will deal with the constant racist imagery (black=bad, white=good). And how creepy will it sound in these yucky times that the evil Sauron is in "the East?" Now as for the sexism, well, barely a problem since there are hardly any women in the books at all, though I am wondering who will play Galadriel, the Lady of Lorien. And if you dont remember the anti-death penalty subtext of the book, especially prominent in The Fellowship of the Ring, (the first book and first movie) well then, youd better get busy rereading. Ok, read carefully, it is a little subtle. (Heres a hint: its in an early conversation between Gandalf and Frodo.) Any other Ring aficionadas out there who want to send in their own political analysis? We promise to print them all! Hey UltraViolet, how about a whole Tolkien issue?
A few weeks after September 11 Chaya tuned to local classical music station KDFC (needing a break from Dennis Bernstein, no doubt) and heard the announcer say "You just heard an arrangement of America the Beautiful, which was written by a LESBIAN." Well! Intrigued, I did a little research and discovered that the words were a poem extolling the beauty of America, written at Pikes Pike by Katharine Lee Bates (1859-1929), a poet, English professor at Wellesley, and feminist. But most articles about her do not mention that she was an anti-imperialist, or her 25-year relationship with fellow professor Katharine Coman. When I read that critics of the day acclaimed her book Sigurd: Our Golden Collie, and that she was often photographed with her collie Hamlet, successor to Sigurd, I said aha! clearly a dyke! I bet Katharine Coman is in some of those photos, too. When Katharine Coman died of cancer in 1915, Katharine Bates wrote to a friend, "So much of me died with Katharine Coman that Im sometimes not quite sure whether Im alive or not." AND NOW, I DARE TO VIOLATE THE ULTRAVIOLET NO POETRY POLICY with a poem written after the death of her lover. [Ed.s note: Sorry, Den, youre not violating our policy, which is that we only print poems by dead people.]
My love, my love, if you could come once more
From your high place,
I would not question you for heavenly lore,
But, silent, take the comfort of your face.
One touch of you were worth a thousand creeds.
My wound is numb
Though toil-pressed, but all night long it bleeds
In aching dreams, and still you cannot come.
Apparently the anti-imperialists of her stripe opposed the Philippine-American War and the Boer War in South Africa, but not manifest destiny here at home. Chaya thinks Katharine Bates is very interesting, though we dont like the politics of America the Beautiful and what its come to stand for. Lets have one chorus of "from she to shining she" and can you say that 3 times, fast?
Under the guise of promoting acceptance of people for their "inner beauty," this movie is a vicious attack on women, especially fat women. The movie uses its supposed "feel good" message to degrade and humiliate large women. Its message is that unless you meet the current emaciated beauty standards for womens bodies, the only beauty you could have is "inner." What can you expect of the Farrelly brother filmmakers who according to the Chronicle review "have always said its OK to laugh at people who are different the mentally retarded, the deformed, the disabled. Do more than avoid this movie: protest it any way you can!
WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF
by Julie and Blue
The two of us (not to mention the dog) have been traveling around the country since february in our little RV named the Delta Flyer (of Star Trek Voyager fame). We were in Connecticut on sept. 11 and left the east coast a week later.
As we drove thru the northeast states towards wisconsin and then down the Mississippi River to Louisiana, we saw flags everywhere! Every porch or lawn, every car, every little business had small and/or huge flags draped or hung or pinned up. Kmart bought a full page in the New York
Times and printed a full color flag. In the margin at the top of the flag it said "this side up". No kidding. (Blue, after reading the rules for flag flying in a local paper thought it ironic that Congress tried to pass a constitutional amendment advocating "flogging" for desecration
of the flag, and now almost everyone was desecrating it in an attempt to show their patriotism). We drew a peace symbol with a tear drop where an eye would be and put it in the back window. A few days later we had a cut up tire, but it probably wasn't connected.
In addition to the multitude of flags, there were the "god bless america" signs - also everywhere - churches (of course), yards, marquees of all sizes. Some had been put up so hastily, they would read "God bless america peas carrots corn". A few renegades had signs that read "america bless god". It turned out these were an attempt to be more humble and less demanding. Then there were the more belligerent versions - the "get 'em and kill 'em" variety complete with hand drawn pictures. Scary.
Also scary were the newspapers. None of the ones we picked up mentioned any anti-war activities or the mass round-ups of anyone who looked Arabic. One local paper from south, central Oregon had articles advocating dire consequences for not flying the flag; there was even a 'love it or leave it' letter to the editor. The Oregonian (a Portland paper) was like a breath of fresh air; a sad commentary right there.
The people we spoke to across the country, admittingly not many, all seemed to feel the bombing was unfortunate, but necessary. When pushed, they would admit this tactic wasn't working to catch Osama Bin Laden, but it was necessary anyway. The mechanic at Oil Can Henry, who was a
gulf war veteran said like always we're just cleaning up what we messed up in the first place. Still he thought we weren't using enough "fire power."
If the Delta Flyer was really re-entering Earth and we saw all the patriotic paraphenalia we'd probably look for the nearest wormhole and warp speed it out of here. Of course we'd beam up all of you with us. So in lieu of that option, see you at the December peace rallies.
From A Reader/Writer (this letter concerns two articles and one cartoon in the last issue of UV. Unfortunately, due to the events of September 11 and the many projects we took on in response, those of you who read UV online never saw that issue (and you never get to see the cartoons we use). If you want to see the original articles, please e-mail us.
I wish to comment on two matters in your last issue (Sept.-Oct. 2001). First, Amnesty Internationals history regarding queer prisoners of conscience is far different from your story. European chapters of AI (especially the Netherlands, naturally) fought for years for this change; then a few U.S. chapters joined, as I remember, LA for one. I learnt of this struggle not from AI, though I was a longstanding member, but from another source (KPFA, naturally), whereupon I quit AI with an angry letter of resignation. The response was a hash of evasive bureaucratese. Your error, then, rests in part on the widespread failure of NGOs (the good guys) to share with members the internal discussions, policy proposals and changes that go on within the governance structure. Almost no U.S. NGOs are democratic. Nevertheless, your story of the world force of Castro postcards is an arrogant, parochial fairy tale, that does injustice to the efforts of many worldwide, and does nothing to aid our understanding of organizational change.
Second, I refer to my own article on FTMs, and more specifically the transphobic cartoon with which you chose to illustrate it. Ironic that an article calling for alliance between lesbians and transmen gets this response. I dont know who K2 is, but her transphobia is clear (two other mature FTMs responded as I did). I have never seen a transman dressed as she depicts. No doubt, were short, shorter than your average 5th generation Anglo-Nordic-Scots-White-American, but not shorter than most recent arrivals or first-born citizens from south of Northern Europe. (My father, a first generation South German-American, claimed he was 58". His medical records, which I received after his death, revealed him to have been only 57 ¼. I was 56 ¼ before shrinkage set in.) But short or not, we all have the sense to buy clothes that fit. Thats one reason why you dont recognize us on the street.
Those wishing to know what FTMs really look like should take a good look at Body Alchemy, a collection of photographs by Loren Cameron. The portraits of FTMs therein may penetrate minds impervious to the written word. As an alternative to your insulting cartoon, I enclose a pic of myself (courtesy of The Chronicle). Perhaps K2 will call me for a date? Heck, after all, Im just a made over butch! Besides, my clothes fit.
Some phrases in my original letter were tempered at the urging of LAGAI.
Jeffrey M. Dickemann, Ph.D.
Professor of Anthropology Emeritus
Ed.s note: We deeply regret the offense given by our choice of a cartoon to go with Jeffs excellent article in our last issue. The cartoon was clearly inappropriate to run with his article. We take responsibility for our insensitivity, and will work to educate ourselves further so we do not make this kind of mistake again. We planned to ask the cartoonist, the late Kris Kovick, what she meant by the cartoon, but were unable to do that for obvious reasons (see obituary, page 2). Jeffs letter was written before her death.