For Alan Bounville it has felt like a lonely protest. For 16 days he has held a vigil outside the campaign office of Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York senator, holding a sign calling for equal civil rights for gay people.
The 33-year-old New Yorker has suffered the stares of strangers, been ignored by the political target of his demonstration, and endured the harsh cold of sleeping overnight outside on a hard Manhattan pavement. But a series of brutal attacks on young gay men, a number of tragic suicides and alarming anti-gay public statements by Republican politicians have led Bounville to feel he has no choice. "Our people are dying. So I am just going to sit and protest. That is my job," Bounville said.
Liberal America has looked on aghast as virulent homophobic prejudice seems to have returned to its streets and cities. Most remarkable of all, much of it seems to be centred on the New York region, usually tolerant in its politics and not seen as hostile to homosexuals living openly. But it was just a few miles away from Bounville's protest in the Bronx that a group of suspected gang members brutally beat and tortured a 30-year-old gay man and several other youths who had been associated with him. The details of the assault, for which 10 people have been arrested, horrified New Yorkers. The gay victim was kidnapped, beaten, whipped and burned.
The shocking crime was just one of a series of incidents that have hit the city. Others have even occurred in the heart of New York's vibrant gay scene. In the Chelsea neighbourhood, which has a large gay population, a group of men hugging each other goodbye after a night out were punched and had a rubbish bin thrown at them. Meanwhile in the famous Stonewall Inn, where the modern gay rights movement was founded after a police raid in 1969, a customer was beaten and robbed by men who hurled homophobic insults at him.
For many observers the violence has been especially worrying as it has come at the same time as several leading Republicans have made anti-gay statements. South Carolina's Senator Jim DeMint, one of America's most powerful Republican politicians, has publicly said that gay people should not be allowed to become teachers.
Those sentiments were echoed by the Republican candidate in the New York governor race, Carl Paladino. In an astonishing piece of political theatre at a meeting of conservative Orthodox Jews, Paladino condemned gay pride parades and said gay people should not teach in schools. When the comments stirred outrage in the media, Paladino went on the talk show circuit in New York to complain about men "grinding" against each other at marches while wearing Speedos. "Is that normal?" he asked one TV interviewer.
The remarks were so bizarre some observers dismissed them as just another gaffe from a candidate dogged by allegations of infidelity and sending pornographic images by email. But gay rights activists say that is a mistake. There is a direct link, they say, between such public statements of homophobia and attacks. "These comments give licence to those who use violence. It is dangerous. It is tragic to think these hateful kinds of words have consequences," said Michael Cole, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, which campaigns for gay rights in America.
Such sentiments do not just encourage violent attacks; they can also spur people to suicide. Recently a student at Rutgers University committed suicide after his room-mate broadcast one of his gay sexual encounters over the internet. In Oklahoma recently a 19-year-old man killed himself after attending a local council meeting where members of the public had spoken out against celebrating the local gay community. The family of Zach Harrington, who committed suicide at home, told their local newspaper in the small town of Norman that they believed the "toxic" environment of the meeting had pushed him over the edge.
Yet the rash of violence, deaths and homophobia has actually come against the backdrop of a series of legal and political advances in gay rights. The longstanding "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban against gay people serving openly in the US military has suffered a series of legal defeats and President Barack Obama has committed himself to revoking it. In Florida a recent court case allowed gay people to adopt children.
"Things are moving faster and in more unpredictable ways then we could have thought even six months ago," said Julie Shapiro, an expert on the legal struggle for gay rights at Seattle University. History, she said, was on the side of equality and that was making homophobic people more anxious. "They will land up where the white supremacists landed up. Fifty years ago it was OK to oppose inter-racial marriage. Now they are marginalised," Shapiro said.
Bounville has a simple thought when he hears statements such as those made by Paladino. "People like him are the new Ku Klux Klan," he said.
Source: The Grauniad
Berlin, Germany (CNN) -- Multiculturalism in Germany has "absolutely failed," German Chancellor Angela Merkel told her party's youth wing at a conference Saturday.
"The approach of saying, 'Well, let's just go for a multicultural society, let's coexist and enjoy each other,' this very approach has failed, absolutely failed," she said in a speech.
The remarks echo a comment she made to CNN last month in response to a question from Becky Anderson about Germany's Muslim population.
"We've all understood now that immigrants are a part of our country, (but) they have to speak our language, they have receive an education here," Merkel told CNN's "Connect the World" program September 27.
Germany's population is about 5 percent Muslim, the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life estimated last year. Its roughly 4 million Muslims make up the largest Muslim population in western Europe.
CNN's Gabriella Schwarz
(CNN) – Meghan McCain is known for speaking her mind, and her views on Delaware Republican Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell proved no exception Sunday.
"I just know, in my group of friends, it turns people off because she's seen as a nut job," McCain said on ABC's "This Week" program. "It scares me for a lot of reasons."
The daughter of Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain said O'Donnell's candidacy sends a message to the younger generation that you can just "wake up and run for Senate," regardless of past experience.
O'Donnell, an unsuccessful Senate candidate in 2006 and 2008, has received national attention this time for her Tea Party backed victory in the Republican primary over nine-time U.S. Rep. Mike Castle, a former governor.
In recent weeks, decade-old video footage surfaced showing O'Donnell challenging the theory of evolution and talking about having "dabbled in witchcraft."
"Christine O'Donnell is making a mockery of running for public office," McCain said. "She has no real history, no real success in any kind of business."
The program included some comments from O'Donnell from an interview broadcast last week, prior to McCain's criticism Sunday.
O'Donnell has depicted her candidacy as an effort to give ordinary Americans upset with the direction of the country a voice in Washington.
CNN's Political Ticker
i love her.
SUMMERVILLE, S.C. – Annie Chambers Caddell, whose ancestors fought in the Civil War, insists the Confederate flag flying over her home is an important reminder of her heritage. But for her neigbors in this tree-shrouded, historically black neighborhood, it's an unpleasant reminder of a by-gone era they'd rather not see every time they pass by her house.
Caddell, who is white, moved into the Brownsville neighborhood in June and began flying the flag about a month later. Since then, more than 200 residents signed a protest petition, and now neighbors plan to march Saturday along the street in front of Caddell's house.
"My first reaction was they are going to do what they think they need to do," said Caddell, 50. "My second reaction was I'm not going to be here."
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Soooooooo, she moves into a historically Black neighborhood, a month later starts flying a Confederate flag claiming it's her "heritage," and then is offended and crying offense when her neighbors are telling her to take it down because it's offensive to them and yelling "Freedom of speech!!"
...I sincerely hope someone steals her flag and sets it on fire.
Oh, and "My Black Friend." Seriously. Seriously?
Are we still capable of educating for 'us-ness?'
My guest is Marion Brady, veteran teacher, administrator, curriculum designer and author.
By Marion Brady
Ronald Reagan delivered some one-liner doozies, one of which is still a favorite of several members of Congress and talking heads on cable news:
"The most terrifying words in the English language are: 'I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’ "
It’s an interesting perspective, particularly when placed alongside another quote, one from Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Those who had died on that battlefield, Lincoln said, contributed to a great cause-preserving "government of the people, by the people, for the people."
A rational alien would assume, wrongly, that these two views of government came from two very different countries.
For a democracy to function, its citizens need to feel some sense of "us-ness," togetherness, community. They need to be willing, especially when the chips are down, to put the common good ahead of excessive individual interest. A difficult, ever-changing balance has to be maintained between individual rights and collective responsibility. Too much of either invites disaster.
Listening to one of my several Libertarian neighbors a few days ago, and reading how many new billionaires and new food stamp recipients 2010 has produced, has me wondering if we have enough left of a shared concern for "the general welfare" to hang on to government of, by, and for the people.
Evidence seems to be piling up that, more so than in many other societies, we’re long on looking out for Number One and short on caring about others; long on privacy fences and gated communities, and short on concern for those beyond and outside them; long on individual liberty, and short on a sense of social responsibility and interest in community building.
In short, we’re short on what it takes to maintain a democracy.
I’m wondering why.
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At some point in your life, you’ve probably seen a billboard which said something like “Pregnant? Scared? Call us!” You may have thought nothing of it, because you weren’t pregnant or even sexually active yet. In New York City, home to over 8 million people, signs like these depict a young, concerned-looking women under the words “Free abortion alternatives.” They advertise the 12 various E.M.C. FrontLine Pregnancy Centers around the city which are “crisis pregnancy centers”; the city also has four other CPCs.
Indeed, they offer “abortion alternatives,” if you could even call them that. “Crisis pregnancy centers” are actually anti-abortion organizations, often run by pro-life groups, and do not actually provide a full range of reproductive health services for women. They sometimes offer sonograms for pregnant women. However, they are not necessarily staffed by licensed medical professionals and do not provide family planning (like birth control pills) or referrals for abortions.
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$5.00 from each T-shirt goes directly to support the great work of the following groups leading the fight against Prop 8 and working for marriage equality across the U.S.
American Foundation for Equal Rights
Note: We are supporting the work of these groups but they DID NOT create or endorse our F-word-filled video or site in any way.
WHO MADE THE SITE & VIDEO?
The FCKH8.com video and website were created by non-profit media campaigner Luke Montgomery, who hopes to one day get married. Back when he was a teen, Luke was the headline-making gay activist who had legally changed his name to “Luke Sissyfag.” Crazy, huh?
An overview of Luke’s work can be seen at: GoodIdeasforGoodCauses.com
Very, very not safe for work:
Source, where you can purchase stuff, is here.
(CBS) One weekend a year, nearly a thousand military veterans assemble in a camp in San Diego. What brings them there is what they have in common: they're all homeless.
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Alejandro Enrique Ramirez Umana has an unfortunate claim on history. He is the first member of the MS-13, or Mara Salvatrucha, gang to be sentenced to death under the federal system of capital punishment, according to the Justice Department.
Prosecutors and FBI officials say the Umana investigation, which took them from North Carolina to California to El Salvador, is a model for how federal authorities will attack a growing gang threat that is leaching into smaller cities across America's heartland.
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I don't like this precedent. I don't like it at all. We all know that Neo-Nazis and folks like that won't be executed, but meanwhile, MS-13 is apparently even more dangerous.
it's a bit TL;DR, but I thought it was worth the read
Gawker: Twittergate: How Internet Jerks Pranked the Tea Party
The best way to deal with jerks online is to ignore them. But when prominent Tea Partiers on Twitter started being harassed by a group of Internet trolls, they launched a twitter militia and concocted an elaborate conspiracy theory.
Twittergate is the hottest new conspiracy theory out of the conservative blogosphere. Yesterday, Glenn Beck's news site, The Blaze, posted an epic YouTube video which purports to expose a massive conspiracy by Democrats to take over Twitter: "DID DEMOCRATS HIRE A ‘TWITTER-THUG' TO SMEAR THE TEA PARTY?" The Blaze asks.
If you don't feel like watching 13 minutes of scrolling text and Twitter screenshots set, inexplicably, to a pounding soundtrack of Daft Punk and MGMT, the basic outline of Twittergate is this: Democrats have hired a cadre of menacing "E-thugs," led by a progressive social media consultant named Neal Rauhauser. The gang's mission: to identify prominent Tea party Twitter users and harass them, ideally goading them into tweeting offensive things which can then be used to smear the Tea Party.
"Democratic campaign funds are being used to front this," Twittergate's lead theorist, Greg W. Howard, told me over the phone. "Follow the evidence and let it lead you where it may. The links between these people are very clear." Howard is a Christian financial planner and conservative blogger from Alabama who says he's been to Tea Party events but considers himself a Libertarian. With over 14,000 followers on Twitter and 100,000 tweets, he's been described as the "Glenn Beck of Twitter."
Like a conspiracy spun out by Glenn Beck, Twittergate has sparked many sprawling blogposts outlining the conspiracy, and frenzied discussion on conservative message boards and Twitter. "Democrats PAY e-thugs to harass you," tweeted ResistTyranny Democratic operatives exposed as the thuggish KGB to Obama's Kremlin!
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