pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (Stop SOPA & PIPA)
Censorship affects us all.

Today, blogs and sites across America, Canada, and the world are blacked out in protest of two legislative bills proposed in Congress: SOPA and PIPA. These two bills, which Congress claims are intended to stop online piracy, would have disastrous consequences for free speech, online communication, and online commerce.

"Online commerce?" you ask. Yes, online commerce. SOPA and PIPA would overwhelmingly favor big business over small business, making it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for independent creatives (authors, artists, musicians) to do business online. For an excellent overview of why this is so, read author and reviewer Cheryl Morgan's analysis.

Related articles
pameladlloyd: Horton the Elephant, from Dr. Suess' book, Horton Hears a Who (A Person's a Person)
Today, I've read three blog posts about prejudice back-to-back. The first is a first-hand narrative of an American woman of Arab and Jewish descent, Shoshana Hebshi, who, along with two Indian men, was detained and held by police yesterday. All three were strangers who happened to be seated next to each other on a flight to Detroit, and someone on the plane reported the three individuals as suspicious. The second describes the difficulties authors Sherwood Smith and Rachel Manija Brown have faced in their attempts to find representation for their collaboration, which has as one of its characters a young man who is gay, and links to yet another case in which author Jessica Verday was told that her story would be published in an anthology only if she changed the sex of one of the characters, so that a relationship involving that character would be between a male and female, instead of between two males.

Ms. Hebshi's post, Some real Shock and Awe: Racially profiled and cuffed in Detroit, on her blog Stories from the Heartland, is quite upsetting. So far as I can tell from her description of the incident, the police and Homeland Security (I HATE the name of that department!) personnel did what they were required to do without excessive force or deliberate prejudice, but it was clearly prejudice that brought their attention to Ms. Hebshi and the two other passengers who were detained. You can contrast Ms. Hebshi's story with articles detailing the incident in which she was involved and a similar incident on another plane at No charges against 3 detained at Detroit airport and Military jets safely escort NYC, Detroit flights.

It makes me sad and angry to know that ten years after the attack on the Twin Towers, many Americans are not only still living in fear, but with such a strong level of prejudice that they feel the need to see suspicious activity where there isn't any. This is such a sad commentary on what has become of our nation in the last decade. We need to fight prejudice, not imaginary enemies.

In Rachel Manija Brown's and Sherwood Smith's account of censorship regarding LGBTQ characters in a YA novel, one statement jumped out at me: "silence, however well-motivated and reasonable […] allows the problem to flourish." One of those authors, Sherwood Smith, has been a LiveJournal friend of mine for some years. Her posts, often about writing, have consistently been thoughtful and thought-provoking.

It seems crazy to me that now, when we've known for decades that homosexuality is genetic and natural—it is also found in many other species from birds to primates, when people are finally beginning (again, the history is really interesting) to have the legal right to marry, when it's been well-publicized that homosexual teens are at high risk for suicide due to their feelings of isolation and rejection, when electronic books and self-publishing are threatening traditional publishing (so, limiting your books to "safe" books means cutting out yet another chunk of the market), that anyone in the publishing industry thinks they need to censor the sexual orientation of teens. People, get a clue! Homosexuality is neither a character flaw, nor a disease. Kids won't change their orientation, just because they read about characters with a different orientation in a book or story. They won't "catch" a different orientation, just because they read about it.

But, reading books with LGBTQ characters can help LGBTQ teens feel less alone. And, reading books with LGBTQ characters can help straight teens recognize that being gay is neither wrong, nor dangerous. Maybe, just maybe, reading books with LGBTQ characters will save someone's life.

Prejudice. We all experience it; that's part of being human. Treating people right? That's also part of being human, or it should be, and I hope that we, all of us, every single one of my cousins on this planet—and that's all of you, can learn to overcome the impulse to prejudice, and replace that with actions that reflect kindness and respect for everyone.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (shieldmaiden)
Via [livejournal.com profile] christymarx: I Am For Sale, Who Will Buy Me?, the story of a young woman who has struggled to be educated and wants to support herself, but who may be forced to marry her cousin against her wishes.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (lady with cup)
Our country has had mixed feelings about the relationship between religion and government for a very long time. This interview on Fresh Air with Steven Waldman of Beliefnet, the author of Founding Faith: Providence, Politics, and the Birth of Religious Freedom in America, throws a little bit of light on the antecedents of the social and political struggles that led to the creation of our constitution.

Steven Waldman Explores Founding Faith : NPR
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (girl in toga)
This evening, my husband and I listened in shock as Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! reported on a Pennsylvania scandal involving the juvenile courts. According to the report, as many as five thousand juveniles were sentenced to jail time without legal representation and sometimes against the urgings of their probation officers by two judges who are accused of taking bribes from a couple of private juvenile prisons. The story is amazing and frightening. If true, it represents an amazingly heinous attack on our young people and on our justice system.

It's hard enough to believe that a single judge might take bribes on even a few cases, but to think of two judges in the same system systematically taking bribes to put young people in jail on a wholesale scale leaves me incredibly appalled. To make matters worse, the report suggests that when questions about the extremely high numbers of waivers of counsel and the judges' sentencing patterns were first brought to the attention of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court a couple of years ago, the court chose not to hear the case. Instead, an FBI investigation lasting years has finally brought this all to light.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (Hooray)
...has finally happened. For much of Bush's presidency I didn't think it would. From very early on in our last president's first term, or at least, following 9/11, I was convinced that he would find some way to halt the ordered transition of power, up to and including declaring martial law. Even after the election, I waited, hopeful, but still nervous. That Bush had the grace, finally, to let the will of the American public stand, is perhaps the only one of his acts I can truly approve and applaud without hesitation. I am ecstatic to have a new president in office, especially one for whom I have respect and who inspires hope, not just in me but in the vast majority of Americans. As [livejournal.com profile] mmegaera says: "I can say, with pride, 'I voted for him.'" Someday, my husband and I, as well as our adult sons, will be able to say that to our grandchildren. There are very few moments when we know that we stand at a cusp between the past and the future. This was one of them.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (writing)
Via [livejournal.com profile] shuttergal: Quincy says

Interesting - it had never even occurred to me!
A US Secretary for Arts and Culture?
Please consider signing this petition: Quincy Jones has started a petition to ask President-Elect Obama to appoint a Secretary of the Arts. While many other countries have had Ministers of Art or Culture for centuries, The United States has never created such a position. We in the arts need this and the country needs the arts--now more than ever. Please take a moment to sign this important petition and then pass it on to your friends and colleagues.


I agree that our government needs to support the arts better, although I wonder how people would react, given our current economic situation. Still, it's worth supporting and may help get a step closer. My signature brought the total to 120324.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (girl in toga)
Via [livejournal.com profile] yvonnenavarro: Women Get Another Chance for Equal Pay... Be Heard by January 8th!

The CREDO Action Site has a petition up in support of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. If you believe that people should be payed on the basis of the work they do, and not on the basis of their sex, this is an opportunity for you to encourage congress to do the right thing.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (Blodeudd)
Yesterday our family celebrated my eldest step-son's birthday. He's just nine days younger than my youngest, so he's gone from being the eldest of three to being the middle of five. Fortunately, since my boys live on their own, this hasn't been as dramatic a change as it might have been.

We had another of our wonderful homemade meals, featuring all Klaus' favorite foods (macaroni and cheese, asparagus with hollandaise sauce, beet and spinach greens, and gnocchi with marinara sauce, with an apple trifle for dessert). Everyone came away from the table stuffed.

Politics dominated the dinner conversation and we're very lucky that to be able to share the same joys and sadnesses about the recent election, since we're all excited and hopeful about President-elect Obama's win and disappointed by the passing of Arizona's Proposition 102 and similar measures elsewhere.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (Community Organizers)

Obama Has Won the Election



I Voted

Nov. 4th, 2008 07:47 am
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (Community Organizers)
I got up at the crack of dawn this morning and went out and voted. I'd expected the polls to be busy, but everything was quiet and the line was very short; I waited for perhaps 10 minutes, chatting with the woman in front of me who told me that we were making history. We were. No matter which candidate wins, the face of American politics will change forever with this vote, as we will either have a black man as our president or a woman as our vice president.

There were also a number of propositions on the ballot, including one to change the state constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman. Of course, I voted No on that one.

So, now the waiting begins.

ETA: Ian got out of class early and called me, so I went with him to the polls in his district. We got there a little after noon and there was no one waiting in line. Speaking with the volunteers manning the place, while I waited for Ian to complete his ballot, I learned that between the large numbers of mail-in ballots and the relatively small numbers of people voting in-person there, 95% of the district was accounted for. Note that this doesn't represent a true 95% turn-out, since some percentage of the mail-in ballots will not be returned--but still, an excellent turn-out. And, at this moment, Karl and his eldest are at the polls, voting. That leaves only my youngest, who's at work, right now. Unfortunately, he made the mistake of updating his address information with the DMV yesterday, so now his address information on his driver's licence (proof of identity is now required in AZ) no longer matches the information with which he registered to vote. When I explained the process he'd have to go through, because of this, he started complaining that this was 1) too much trouble, 2) Obama was going to win the overall election, anyway, and 3) McCain was going to win in Arizona, so his vote wouldn't matter. I argued with all three of his contentions, reminding him that this was very likely the most important vote he might ever have the oppotunity to make in his entire life, but I don't know if I got through. Argggh!!!!! Karl, when I told him about it, thought I should have suggested that he might want someday to be able to tell his children and grandchildren that he'd voted for the first black US president, but I don't think Keith is sufficiently interested in the idea of future progeny to find this a moving argument.

2nd ETA: Keith has voted. I called him and offered to meet him at the polls when he got off work and he agreed with alacrity. In fact, he actually asked to be allowed to leave early and came and picked me up (I live within easy walking distance of the polls, but it was dark and there's a very dangerous street to cross, so I was glad for the lift) and we arrived there shortly after 6 p.m. However, due to the new address on his driver's license, they told him he either needed two pieces of mail showing my address (where he'd been living when he'd first registered), or he'd have to vote on a provisional ballot. We already had the practice ballot, with the address; we only needed one more. So, we dashed back to my house, where I combed through a stack of mail and found the card that told him where his polling place. Back again, arriving within minutes of the polls closing, and he was able to vote on a standard ballot. Hooray!!!

I am happy and proud. Our family provided five votes for Obama. If he takes Arizona (it's too close to call, right now, which is a victory in and of itself), we've done our part. How exciting!
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (girl in toga)
In the comments to my post, Politics and Values: I Thought You Meant It, [livejournal.com profile] handworn wrote the following:
Well, with some of those things it's completely possible and logically consistent to live a life that way and encourage it in others, but not to be in favor of it as a basis for government policy, or to be in favor of its institutionalization[. . . .], but that would be a legitimate viewpoint.


In this post, I'll look at each of the statements in the "I Thought You Meant It" essay and address whether I agree with using it as a basis for governmental policy, and why. First, I think that what we're discussing here is when and how should our values inform our conception of government. Before I discuss the individual points made, I'm going to say for the record that all of our views about what government should be are going to be based on our values. That's pretty clear, I think. But, each of us is going to have a large set of values, many of which we're not discussing here, which will also influence our ideas of government. For example, financial matters, states rights vs. central government, etc. all play a role in our perceptions of what government should do. The interaction between some of those issues and the social issues raised by the "I Thought You Meant It" essay are going to influence what you think about how these issues should be resolved.

So, on to the statements from the essay—

I have friends of different races because when you taught me not to judge people based on how they look, I thought you meant it. )

I respect other people's religious beliefs because when you taught me that a person's religion is between them and God, I thought you meant it. )

I believe in universal health care and social assistance because when you taught me to be kind to those less fortunate than myself, and when you taught me that people are more important than money, I thought you meant it. )

I support equal marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples because when you taught me that every person has the same human worth (and also to keep my nose out of other people's business), I thought you meant it. )

I am environmentally conscious because when you taught me to take no more than I need, and to clean up after myself if I make a mess, I thought you meant it. )

I support reproductive rights because when you taught me I shouldn't judge someone when I don't know what their circumstances are, I thought you meant it. )

I am dismayed that you would call someone "elitist" merely because they are educated -- because when I became one of the first people in our family to earn a college degree, and you told me how proud I'd made you, I thought you meant it. )

I am not ashamed if these things make me a liberal, because you taught me not to let other people belittle me about what I stand for, and I choose to believe you meant it. )
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (girl in toga)
Via [livejournal.com profile] ellen_datlow:


Blogging the Vote
Colleen Mondor of Chasing Ray is helping to organize a one Shot event on Monday, November 3rd where all participants blog about why they personally think voting matters this year. All the bogs will be linked. For more information, check out Colleen's post on Why you should vote




Why Do I Vote?

I vote, because it is through voting that I believe we maintain a strong democracy.

I vote, because the founding citizens of this country fought for that right, along with all the other freedoms they won for us, when they decided to form a new nation, saying:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed . . .

I vote, because my grandmother was a suffragette who fought for that right and I never want to lose it.

I vote because it is through voting that I participate in our government, thus fulfilling the promise inherent in Lincoln's words: "government of the people, by the people, for the people."

I vote, because I care deeply about what happens to my family, my friends, my neighbors, and all the people of this country.

Why Should You Vote?

Vote, because this country belongs to all of us.

Vote, because your ancestors fought for that right, just as mine did, regardless of how or when they came to this continent, or if they were here before Europeans arrived.

Vote, because it's in your best interests, and those of your family, friends, and neighbors, as well as in the best interests of everyone in this country.

Oh, and if you're an employer? Please, consider giving your employees time off to vote, because democracy requires that each of us have the opportunity to do so.



ETA: To see how others have responded, go to Blog the Vote 2008 on Chasing Ray.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (girl in toga)
I didn't write the text below, but the individual who did asked not to be identified, saying in their post titled "repost as desired anywhere!": "If you should choose to share this, (I am flattered and) please don't attribute it! I don't want it to be mine. I want it to belong to everyone who feels this way."

I think this essay is wonderful and it very much reflects how I feel about my much more liberal political views than those of my father.

I Thought You Meant It

I have friends of different races because when you taught me not to judge people based on how they look, I thought you meant it.

I respect other people's religious beliefs because when you taught me that a person's religion is between them and God, I thought you meant it.

I believe in universal health care and social assistance because when you taught me to be kind to those less fortunate than myself, and when you taught me that people are more important than money, I thought you meant it.

I support equal marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples because when you taught me that every person has the same human worth (and also to keep my nose out of other people's business), I thought you meant it.

I am environmentally conscious because when you taught me to take no more than I need, and to clean up after myself if I make a mess, I thought you meant it.

I support reproductive rights because when you taught me I shouldn't judge someone when I don't know what their circumstances are, I thought you meant it.

I am dismayed that you would call someone "elitist" merely because they are educated -- because when I became one of the first people in our family to earn a college degree, and you told me how proud I'd made you, I thought you meant it.

I am not ashamed if these things make me a liberal, because you taught me not to let other people belittle me about what I stand for, and I choose to believe you meant it.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (multiverse)
I've discovered that iGoogle offers a bunch of daily quote gadgets, so now I have an entire tab devoted to quotes.

A sampling of today's quotes includes: )
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (girl in toga)
[livejournal.com profile] copperwise has posted an amazing, interesting, and articulate essay about Palin's use of the term "Joe Six-Pack." Since I've never understood how that term could be seen as a positive appellation, I really appreciated her post. I found her essay extremely moving and many others have as well. This post has generated a greater response than anything I've seen on LJ before.

Please note that this essay and the comments to it are not for the fainthearted or for those who'd prefer to ignore politics. [livejournal.com profile] copperwise pulls no punches.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (Community Organizers)
[livejournal.com profile] christymarx shares a few thoughts from her friend Richard Meuller here. I think it's an awesome assessment of the candidates and the general reaction to them.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (girl in toga)
[livejournal.com profile] copperwise recently posted about a number of LJ folk whose journals she recommends. One of these was [livejournal.com profile] leemoyer who posted a quote, which I repeat, from Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Senator Sanders is officially an independent, but caucuses with the Democrats and describes himself as a "democratic socialist," according to the Wikipedia article on him.

In a democracy, elections are not beauty pageants or reality shows, or soap operas for political junkies. Elections are the real business of democracy, and they should be about real things.

Without sounding too corny, what this election is about is the well-being of hundreds of millions of Americans and about what kind of country we will be leaving to our kids and grandchildren. And, at a time of global warming and severe environmental problems, this campaign is also about whether our planet survives in a condition that can sustain human life in the decades and centuries to come.

Given all that is at stake, as American citizens we must demand that the media not continue to trivialize our democratic process, dumb down coverage and, in the process, deflect attention away from the most important issues impacting our lives. This election must, first and foremost, be about the needs of the American people.

Now, I honestly know nothing more than what you see here. I haven't even read more than the first two paragraphs of the Wikipedia entry on him. But, I'm very impressed by the sentiment expressed in this quote. We so need to realize that our votes have consequence, not just for ourselves, but for the entire world for generations.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (girl in toga)
I had another post in mind, until I watched an hour or so of news and started reading my friends list.

Making the rounds on television tonight is a statement made by Senator McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis. According to Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post:

"This election is not about issues," said Davis. "This election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates."

Then, I came across this post, On Palin and the GOP, on [livejournal.com profile] barackobama2008, in which the author claims to be an ex-Republican (now a Democrat) who has previously voted for Ron Paul, and complains about Republican spokespersons at the Iowa caucuses, talk radio hosts, and Palin's introductory speech. Unfortunately, following the links in that post doesn't bring me to a credible source for the article. Clicking the underlined headline in the post brings me to this post, which claims the text is a letter found on "the listserv from Arkansas for Obama." Clicking the link for Andrewsullivan.com brings me to Andrew Sullivan's "The Daily Dish" feature on theAtlantic.com, where I cannot find the letter. I even checked out Snopes, but could find no reference, one way or another. Yet, I have to consider this article to be highly suspicious, until proven otherwise.

Regardless of its veracity, I see that letter as being all about image. Much of the article is a complaint about how Republican politicians and their supporters are focusing on personal attacks and that the content of their speeches lacks substance, when the writer was looking for character vouchers for Republican candidates and their stances on issues. If an ex-Republican wrote it, as the letter claims, then his complaint is that the current Republican campaign is all about image. But, if a Democrat who had never been a Republican wrote it, then the letter itself is an attempt to manipulate the image others have about Republicans and is a bit of underhanded chicanery that really disturbs me.

Now, I certainly thought that issues were driving the campaigns at the beginning of the election cycle, but it does seem to me that there has been a lot of focus on image and the logical fallacy sometimes called the appeal (or the argument) to the man. So, I'm wondering whether others are seeing a shift away from the issues and to the image, or if you still feel that the reasons for your voting choices come down to the issues. Or, maybe it's something else that's driving your decision-making process?
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (feelings)
I've been struggling with the issue of how much I should say about politics in this blog, not because I think I should be silent on this issue (I don't), but because I've noticed that many people prefer to maintain some distance between their personal, work-oriented, and political journaling. So far, I've maintained this journal as a mix of the three, but as I've begun to express more political views, I wonder if that's making my friends who know me from non-political venues uncomfortable. Yet, at the same time, I'm very concerned about the direction of politics in my country, right now. I've considered creating a second journal, in which to discuss politics, but I haven't felt entirely comfortable about that either. For now, I think I will continue to make the occasional political post. There are many important issues and they touch on both my personal and writing life: issues of censorship, what it means to be a woman in today's world, how we as concerned citizens should respond when we are in disagreement with our government's actions, the information we share with others about candidates, and so much more. Ultimately, perhaps, all the issues come down to freedom: How do we define it? and, How do we ensure it?

Because the issue of speaking out and of silence have been very much on my mind recently, I want to share this poem by Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892—1984) that I first encountered while I was in college in the late seventies. He apparently used many variations of this poem in different venues and there is dissagreement as to which is the "correct" version. You can read about this poem and its variants on Wikipedia.

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

As always, I welcome your comments.

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