India Has Problems

India has been in the news lately. In part, for gang-rape (which, as you may have noticed, is a horrific evil on which India does not have a monopoly). A seventeen-year-old girl in India killed herself after she was gang-raped and failed by her law enforcement community. A twenty-three-year-old Indian woman (a medical student) was raped in front of her boyfriend and left in critical condition.

I suggest that you read this post on HelloGiggles (which is an excellent site, by the way, and often covers topics a lot less upsetting than this one). Among other things, it details the struggle that the teenage girl underwent in attempting to file her complaint with the police. Being sexually assaulted is horrible—and that horror should not be compounded by police who try to convince the young woman who survived the assault to drop the charges or to possibly marry one of her attackers. Her attackers were only detained after she specifically named them in her suicide note. Barring the most dreadful of illnesses, I would never counsel suicide as the better option, but I can understand why she did it.

India has more problems than that—and, honestly, nightmarishly high levels of incidents of violence against women should be enough of a problem for any country. I think that a lot of us have read about villages and other local governments in India in which unmarried women are being forbidden from using mobile phones. “Reasons” (using the word reason loosely, here) range from that they might form their own, independent social connections to simply that mobile phone use will “spoil” them. It is disgusting.

Online communication through computers, whether they sit on our desks or we carry them in our pockets, are opening up isolated communities, helping to advance peoples’ educations, and gradually transforming the entire world into one community out of many. It is wonderful. But that is also frightening to some more conservative individuals who believe that too much freedom for younger generations will erode their culture. Honestly, it will. It happens in the US. Sometimes, the internet and television can help a closeted fourteen-year-old boy in rural Alabama …

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All Aboard The Crazy-Train

photo of republicans versus democrats pictures
Politics can be a very polarizing area. That is never more true than in an election year.

Both major political parties in US politics tend to make certain points—this year, with attacks on reproductive rights from the GOP and very strong language against same-sex marriage legalization, some of these points are more extreme than ever.

The real problem behind our election system (aside from the fact that democracy itself is a terrifyingly flawed system of government and only our well-crafted Constitution safeguards us from the tyranny of the majority) is not SuperPACS or compulsive lying on the part of certain candidates—it’s the crazies.

The thing about crazies is that they exist in any and all political parties. In the case of, say, white supremacist parties or anarchist parties, they are the parties in question. But both Democrats and Republicans have fringe crazies, and I do not just mean people with far-right or far-left views. The insane members of both sides should alarm you.

Over the past few years in particular, the Democratic Party has, economically, been asking the very wealthy to pay their fair share (which means avoiding tax loopholes that really should not exist in the first place), especially in times of a major financial crisis.

This request has, for some, become the beginning of an attack on “the rich” and a vilification of wealth itself. You guys, I know that not everyone who is wealthy earned their wealth. But some of them did. Many of them did. Being rich is not a cause for shame or for guilt. I want to be rich. In fact, I would love to be one of the one-percent. I just wouldn’t be a dick about it or try to hide my money rather than paying my fair share, just like I did when I worked in a grocery store deli (a glamorous life, as you can imagine).

The Republican Party has, in addition to tightening its position on all matters related to reproductive health (views more extreme than those held by Mitt Romney, in fact), had its fringe members latch on to some of the paranoid and explicitly racist theories about President Obama. Paranoid doubts as to his country of origin and his religious beliefs both have a powerful undercurrent of racism. And it is disturbing.

It is important to realize that neither fringe group represents the parties themselves. The Republican Party is not the Tea Party. If it were, Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann might be the pair of running-mates in this election. But we were spared that nightmare by the primaries. Say what you will about Romney and Ryan (and I will say quite a bit; to begin with, they certainly aren’t McCain Republicans), they are not that pair of . . . terrors.

The Democratic Party is not at war with the wealthy. Period.

The real danger here is when the parties themselves begin to lean towards their fringe members in terms of rhetoric, because they want to inspire their voting base and because, honestly, crazier people tend to be a lot louder than sane people and so their views are more likely to come across as those of the majority.

And that is not the case. But it is a troubling thought. Please do not hop aboard the crazy-train. If you hear a political ally of yours talking about crazy things, please call him or her out on it.

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Are DIY Abortions What the Pro-Choice Movement Should Strive For?

photo of scared woman facing an abortion pictures

A recent Slate article discusses the popularity of at home abortions, a development many in the pro-choice community are probably horrified by. Oft considered the worst option for women who do not have available care, especially in areas of the United States where clinics are few and far between, or a relic of the pre-Roe v. Wade time, DIY abortions are most associated with coat hangers and other violent imagery. Taking abortion into ones own hands has never been part of the pro-choice rallying cry. In fact, the pro-choice movement has largely focused their efforts first on legalization, and second on reducing the stigma surrounding it so that women wouldn’t have to give themselves …

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Poll Shows That Sarah Palin Doesn’t Represent Jane Q. Public

Poster of Palin Supporting "Average Joe Six-Pack"

Oh, Sarah Palin, how I miss you.  I don’t know if you’ve stopped saying stupid things or hired better PR peeps or what, but it seems like the tides have turned against you nevertheless.  You’re hardly ever in the news for insulting American Muslims or taking it personally when college kids try to stand up to Big Brother anymore; nope, most of the latest buzz with your name in it was related to Bristol’s appearance on Dancing With the Stars.

Yup, if new data from Hart Research Associates has any veracity, it appears that most women (74%, in fact) view Palin as untrustworthy on women’s health issues.  As a point of reference, 54% view Planned Parenthood as trustworthy in terms of women’s health.

In the name of full disclosure, Hart’s survey was sponsored by Planned Parenthood.  However, survey subjects included an equitable number of registered Republicans and Democrats making …

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