Monday, May 30, 2016

Where Do They Go?

Imagine you are a woman who pops into a public restroom only to see a person standing at the sink, a person in work boots, jeans, leather vest, and a well trimmed beard.    Or you are a man you walk in and see a long-haired, large breasted person in a flowing dress putting on make-up.  In both cases you make an immediate gender decision for that person and you will likely think they are in the wrong bathroom.  You would be right, but state laws are making their decision to go to the right bathroom a crime.  The laws actually go beyond that, but for my purposes I am just going to talk about the restroom law.  That is right, laws are passing that require transgender people to use the bathroom of the sex they were declared at birth.

For the vast majority of humans we are boy one of two sexes.  The culture we are born in defines how that biological state will play out in our express of our identity which is our gender.  However there have always been people who are born who feel they want to express themselves differently that their culture defines them.  In some cases those people are seen as a separate gender and often holy.  Other cultures demonize them and sadly kill them.  Now let's be clear, this is not being gay, this is someone who deeply and early on feel an internal identity to a gender that does not match their biological sex.

I don't fully understand it because I don't feel that way.  But I know it is real and while  it is a tiny percent of humanity but that does not mean it is insignificant.  I encounter regularly at least three people who are in various stages of transition about once a week, and those are the ones I know about.  How many more have transitioned who have not shared their story?  Just think if 1/2 of 1% of the American population is transgender that is still 1.6 million Americans.  That is more than the number of Japanese Americans.  So when people complain about that it is a tiny number of people who are seeking safety, rights and dignity just think about what happened when our country decided that the Japanese didn't deserve to keep their rights.  That was a painful part of our history.  Do we want to repeat it with another group?

The thing is that bathroom issues are not new.  I remember back in the 80s going to the Generic Bar in Syracuse and they had a men's room, women's room, and a restroom for those who didn't fit those categories. So people of different gender identities have been dealing with this discomfort and even back then the counter-culture of the G-Bar and many other places made their customers more comfortable.  Over the decades, as we come to recognize the reality of transgender and it is becoming more mainstream and retailers and government are responding to meet the growing need of our culture.

There is an argument that boys in schools and men in public will pretend to be transgender to use a bathroom to prey on girls and women in the ladies room.  This of course is a serious concern but a man could dress like a women now and sneak in and in fact many have, many more have not bothered and have hidden in women's bathrooms to attack women. There is no evidence of a transgender person attacking anyone in a public restroom or locker room and a boy who pretends to be transgender to get access to a girls' locker room would have to deal with the bigotry most transgender students see and would not be worth a peak at naked girls.  There would be an easier way.  In fact a transgender person is more likely to be attacked by someone who is driven by fear, hate, and anger be in a public restroom or a school yard.  Bigotry is a major motivator and since the start of this current rage and new laws several women who appear masculine have been attacked in public restrooms.

Our culture is becoming more accepting of difference and things we didn't know were happening are out in the open.  You have likely shared a public restroom with a transgender person.  It is safe.  Passing laws that attack a group of people because you are uncomfortable is cowardly, bigoted and anti-American.  We should be more vocal about it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Fact Free Election

People seem surprised by the impending nomination of Donald Trump as the GOP candidate for President and frankly I am one of them.  You see I had more faith in the Republican electorate.  A misplaced faith for sure. I know that there has always been an element of the right in this country who voted based not on the reality that is but on the voices of the right wing noise machine that dominate radio and permeate the airwaves on Fox News and at times the other 24 hour news channels.  I am not talking about opinion.  I respect people who make arguments about the role of government being too big in regulating commerce or that we should perhaps slow our roll on social change.  Those are things we can argue over.  But when someone just blathers on about things that are blatantly untrue, that is where I think they are doing a disservice to the country.

From websites to TV shows we have made it commonplace to assume something is made up by people under a brand we used to trust.  That is the beginning of the failure of the republic because the news and information industry has a public trust to keep the people informed.  Now it is more about keeping the people enraged.  We know everyone is troubled by bias in the media.  The right has long complained (often without merit) of left-wing media.  Recently a rumor about Facebook, a social media platform, was culling conservative news.  They used that term.  There shouldn't be conservative news, there should be news and a conservative analysis.  For example:

Hillary Clinton used a private email server while Secretary of State, the Justice Department and FBI are looking if any laws were broken.  That is news.  Everything is true and straight forward.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used an illegal server she kept in her bathroom closet putting US secrets in jeopardy and violating Federal Law.  Well there may be truth there but it is so biased it tells you that she is convicted of a crime, when she hasn't been even charged.

This is the landscape we are in, so in comes Trump.  Trump was given a great deal of coverage over the last 9 months on most morning news programs and networks.  Often people would treat his nonsense that he spewed laughingly and in fact lauded his rudeness on the campaign trail and his complete and utter disregard for facts.  Rarely, if ever, would an interviewer challenge him to his face and or ask for evidence.  Be it that there is no manufacturing in this country anymore (it is up 51% since 2009) or that the delegate process is rigged against him personally. (his ignorance was the cause of some of his failures).  But this isn't new.  These same shows entertained their audience with this guy with his racist and frankly disgusting attacks on President Obama, claiming he had evidence that he wasn't born in the United States.  Something they still let him get away with today when he won't answer where that so-called evidence is.

So where are we today?  Trump has decimated the GOP field, a weak one by many standards, but did have former and sitting Governors, Senators, and real party leaders. But more and more the people bought into the Trump narrative about the country and about his opponents.  In Indiana there was an exchange between Senator Ted Cruz and some Trump supporters.  Many of them were just yelping phrases Trump used in his rallies.  But at one point the spokesperson of the group asked Senator Cruz what he would do about the 2nd amendment.  Now let me pause right here.  Gun control is a small issue even in the Democratic primary and a non-issue for the GOP because they are all pro-gun.  In fact even those who have argued for common sense gun laws ran away from their former positions.  But Ted Cruz is the poster child for the NRA.  Senator Cruz when Solicitor General of Texas wrote an amicus brief signed by 31 states in the Heller decision that put to rest the 2nd amendment's questions about individual right and later extended to the states under Miller.   Also Sen. Cruz made a campaign video of him shooting an automatic weapon wrapped in bacon, which the heat of firing cooked.  To ask Senator Cruz what he would do about the 2nd amendment (which hasn't been in jeopardy by anyone lately) is a level of ignorance on the issues that can't be arrived at on one's own but cultivated by nonsense masquerading as information.

Throughout the campaign statements made by Trump have been beyond false and waded into the land of the ridiculous.  He repeated a false story about General Pershing saying:

In the Philippines more than a century ago, Gen. John Pershing "took 50 bullets, and he dipped them in pigs’ blood," and shot 49 Muslim rebels. "The 50th person, he said, ‘You go back to your people, and you tell them what happened.’ And for 25 years, there wasn’t a problem

Let's start by saying this never happened.  It didn't, the only thing close to it as was a letter written years after the events in question and it only spoke of one man being hung above a grade with a dead pig in it.  While this is a common trope when at war with Muslims and I am sure that some people have desecrated bodies using pig blood the thing is that Muslim militant action didn't stop and continued for decades so the whole freaking point of the story isn't true.  So even if you believe it happened the facts are that if it did it didn't stop any Muslim actions.  But Trump knows that his followers don't care if what he is saying is a lie, and that is what is frightening.

In most races for the Presidency, candidates are held accountable to the voters.  In fact the way Trump beat Senator Cruz is by saying he lies all the time.  Irony is a bumper crop from Trump.  Yet focus group, after focus group, seems to not care about Trump's lies.  They know he is lying, they know that his stated ideas are garbage, dangerous and downright insane.  They know that he says things and in the same interview says he never said it.  But they don't care.  They are washed in glow of a carnival barker who is famous and plays Thurston Howell III in real life.

So how do you stop a Trump train.  Well not with facts.  What needs to happen is some how helping a large population that he is dangerous to what they hold dear.  We will never get the unthinking people like the man who questions Senator Cruz's dedication to the 2nd amendment, he is a non-thinker and if Trump is elected and crashes and burns will blame someone else.  We need to reach the smart people who are so upset about Secretary Clinton they will vote for Trump to stop her.  They are the target audience. Logic might work on them.  I don't know, what I do know if that in the end, a Trump Presidency will be a disaster for our country but I fear the Trump campaign might be a disaster for a lot of people's souls.

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