Troy Davis & his family in a picture taken before the prison cut off "contact visits."
Readers of this blog will remember that I spent a few weeks this fall laser-focused on the case of Troy Davis, an innocent man on Georgia’s Death Row who, despite all evidence against him crumbling over the course of his incarceration, was executed on September 21. You can read the pieces I placed in The Atlantic online here: “Explaining the death penalty to my children” and here: “Troy Davis and the reality of doubt.” You’ll find the post I wrote the day after Troy was murdered here.
I spent several weeks laser-focused on the Troy Davis case, but some people have spent several years, such as my friend Jen Marlowe. Working with Amnesty International, she did everything from producing a powerful series of videos telling his story, to counting signatures calling for the state of Georgia to spare his life. She came to know and love the Davis family, and her work on their behalf continues — in no small part because their tragedies didn’t end with Troy’s execution.
Patrick Stewart, aka Captain Picard, has just given us yet another reason to love him:
I grew up in a home darkened by domestic violence – which I wrote about two years ago. My father was an angry and unhappy man who was not able to control his emotions, or his hands. I witnessed violence against my mother and felt powerless to stop it. When Refuge, the national domestic violence charity, asked me to become a patron, I accepted without hesitation. I accepted for my mother. As a child, there was little I could do to help her. But now I can give support and encouragement to women who live in the same sort of fear that she did.
Over the course of a few months in 2010, I periodically blogged about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Strength to Love. Last MLK day, I returned to the project and wrote the following (which I have very slightly edited), in an effort to remember that he was a flesh-and-blood human who first and foremost served a flesh-and-blood community. (The rest of the Strength to Love posts, each of which can be read independently, can be found here).
Chapter eleven – Our God is able.
Given my powerful tendency to look at the world through my It’s All About Me glasses, you will perhaps understand (though not, I hope, condone) why I was disappointed (again) upon reading this chapter.
I struggled with chapter nine so mightily that I gave up my MLK blogging for not-quite four months; I struggled with chapter ten so mightily that I then gave it up again, this time going four and a half months. And dear reader, I like chapter eleven least of all.
As a self-described “believing Jew and the wife of a deeply moral atheist,” there’s just nothing for me here. This is a chapter — a sermon — written by a member of the Christian clergy in order to reassure his Christian flock. And a very particular flock, at that:
(Takei is currently working on a new stage musical,Allegiance, about the experience of a Japanese-American family in a World War II internment camp — an experience he and his own family had to endure. He is of course best known for playing Sulu in the original Star Trek, but in recent years has gained new prominence as something of an elder-comic statesman of gay rights activism. He’s awesome, is what I’m saying).
“I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money,” Santorum begins. “I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money and provide for themselves and their families.”
Santorum did not elaborate on why he singled out blacks who rely on federal assistance. The voters here didn’t seem to care.
Here’s the video:
Santorum is now denying he said “black people”. According to him, what he really said was (I still cannot believe this) “blah people”.
“I’ve looked at that quote, in fact I looked at the video,” Santorum argued. “In fact, I’m pretty confident I didn’t say black. What I think — I started to say a word and then sort of changed and it sort of — blah — mumbled it and sort of changed my thought.”
Ah, yes. The Blah People. As it turns out, I myself was born a poor blah child. Continue reading →
Today the Obama administration announced that it is updating the formal definition of rape. This move will help many rape victims who were previously unaccounted for achieve justice against their perpetrators and will more accurately reflect the extent of the problem of sexual crimes in our country.
Attorney General Eric Holder today announced revisions to the Uniform Crime Report’s (UCR) definition of rape, which will lead to a more comprehensive statistical reporting of rape nationwide. The new definition is more inclusive, better reflects state criminal codes and focuses on the various forms of sexual penetration understood to be rape. The new definition of rape is: “The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” The definition is used by the FBI to collect information from local law enforcement agencies about reported rapes.
“Rape is a devastating crime and we can’t solve it unless we know the full extent of it,” said Vice President Biden, a leader in the effort to end violence against women for over 20 years and author of the landmark Violence Against Women Act. “This long-awaited change to the definition of rape is a victory for women and men across the country whose suffering has gone unaccounted for over 80 years.”
My friend Extreme Liberal posted a piece here awhile back titled “I was sexually assaulted as a child”. With Glenn Greenwald’s obscene comments about my good friend Angry Black Lady, I thought now might be a good time to tell my own story of being sexually molested as a young boy.
Unlike Extreme Liberal’s assault, I was, in fact, not aware that I had actually been assaulted until many years later. You may well ask, “If you didn’t know you were assaulted, how can you say you were?” You can trust me when I tell you that I have asked myself that same question. Continue reading →
Last week, I wrote a piece for A2Politico about the so-called “anti”-bullying bill passed by the Michigan Senate a couple of weeks ago that is not only not anti-bullying but, in fact, is generally known as “The License to Bully Bill”. In my article, I mentioned two Ann Arbor teenagers who stepped up to respond in a powerful way.
Two Ann Arbor-area students, Katy Butler and Carson Borbely, created a petition on the online petition website Change.org. Their petition is currently the most popular on the site and has picked up well over 500 signatures just in the hour or so that it has taken me to write this piece.
When I wrote that piece, the petition had around 47,000 signatures. Today, the signature tally is over 53,000 and is in the top three most popular petition this week.