How do you know you are in a “third world” country with a militaristic dictatorship? There are a lot of clues, but one of the easiest methods is to drive around and see how often you go through police or military checkpoints. You can practice this method by going to Florida.

And, while you are there, go ahead and express your rights. Like this:

From here.

Did you know that there is a “Lesbian Apocalypse” coming? No? I didn’t either, but apparently there is one. From Wipedia:

Catherine “Cathy” Brennan is an attorney in the state of Maryland and a prominent supporter of “trans-critical” radical feminism. Her main accomplishment in this regard is coauthoring a letter to the United Nations, insisting that trans people’s gender identity should not be legally recognized and protected. She is also a frequent columnist for Baltimore OUTloud’s LGBTQ blog section, which she uses to warn of the coming “lesbian annihilation” at the hands of “the queers” and trans people and stridently argue against legislation protecting gender identity.

I received a note from Secular Women linking to a petition to the Southern Poverty Law Center asking for the SPLC to treat Brennan’s organization as a hate group. Having never heard of trans-critical radical feminism, I worried at first that this was one of those awful breakdowns among allies (in this case, feminists) over how some issue or another is being handled, which had escalated to the extreme outcome of labeling a group with different views but within the same movement as a hate group. This didn’t seem like something Secular Women would do. So, I followed the links and read up on it a bit, and apparently this is a thing. Here’s the letter I got from Secular Women:

Southern Poverty Law Center:
Monitor “Gender Identity Watch”
as a Hate Group

As a feminist organization, Secular Woman promotes gender equality. We stand against and combat sexism, hate, intolerance, and misogyny.

Transgender women are women.

Cisgender women are women.

We do not, in any way, view the existence of transgender women, genderqueer individuals or transgender men as a threat to the safety of women, female identity, or the goals of feminism.

As intersectional feminists we acknowledge the privilege that cisgender people experience. We aim to dismantle the axis of oppression that this represents.
Unfortunately, not all who claim the label “feminist” agree with us. They do not represent us and we reject their actions and views as unethical and devoid of reason.
We stand in opposition.

Members of our community have been targeted by trans-exclusionary radical feminists (TERFs). Personal information such as former names, current legal names, and photographs have been compiled and displayed on the website “Name the Problem”. Several of the entries are self-attributed to “Pegasus” (“PegasusBug” is a pseudonym of Cathy Brennan, the head of Gender Identity Watch). This information was presented alongside reports describing rapists and batterers of women.

Countless others, including members of transgender advocacy groups have reported similar treatment, as well as other alarming behavior, such as Cathy Brennan contacting employers, schools and medical doctors of transgender women, girls and young men.

This is unacceptable.

It is anathema to our vision of a future in which women have the opportunities and resources they need to participate openly and confidently in every aspect of society.
Cathy Brennan’s tactics, as described, are reprehensible, reckless, and irresponsible as they have the potential to embolden violence and harassment of those she targets and to result in job loss and other discrimination informed by the open knowledge of the target’s transgender status.

Refusal to afford transgender women inclusion, safety, and civil rights is a form of misogyny that is antithetical to feminism.

We invite fellow feminists and secularists, as well as others concerned, to proactively affirm the inclusion of all women as women. Condemn the toxic ideologies used to rationalize hate, fear, and discrimination based on gender.

Stand with us in petitioning the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to track the activities of Cathy Brennan’s Gender Identity Watch as a hate group in accordance with SPLC’s stated mission.

Signed in Solidarity,

Secular Woman
Stop Abuse Online
Skepchick

Trinity Aodh, Melody Hensley, M. A. Melby, Veronica K. Berglyd Olsen, Kim Rippere, Mary Ellen Sikes, Dana Lane Taylor

Please sign the petition here!

Click through to follow the documenting links. Sign the petition.

Alber Saber is an Egyptian pro-democracy blogger who ran a Facebook page for atheists. When a neighbor discovered Saber’s connection to the page, word spread and on 13 September 2012, an angry mob formed at Saber’s house. The police arrived, and instead of dispersing the mob and arresting those threatening to burn the house down, they arrested Saber and accused him of the crime of insulting Islam.

There are already reports that Saber was attacked with a razor blade while in jail, after guards told his fellow Muslim inmates why he was imprisoned. His family fears for his life.

Across Egypt, radical Muslims are reacting with violence to anti-Islamic and pro-secular ideas. Now more than ever, it is crucial for the government of Egypt to make it clear that they support the free, peaceful expression of all citizens, regardless of their religious beliefs (or lack thereof). By continuing to detain, abuse, and potentially prosecute Alber Saber, Egypt sends a message to the rest of the world: debate and discussion are dead, and ignorance and intolerance reign.

President Mohamed Morsi promised to be the president of all Egyptians. We want him to prove it. As concerned citizens who value free and open expression, we demand that Egyptian authorities release Alber Saber at once and provide fully for his safety and the safety of all Egyptians who are currently targeted by religious extremists.

The Russian Feminist Punk Rock group Pussy Riot, or at least part of it, is on trial and faces several years in prison for acting up. Debbie Goddard has the story in detail.

You may be asking yourself why I’m writing about this. As an activist and organizer, I try to pay attention to other groups’ campaigns and activism efforts, whether populist or fringe, especially when led by young people. I’ll share a few of the reasons this situation is particularly interesting to me….

Read The Rest

Americans who are embarrassed about Mitt Romney’s ham-handed, ignorant, and jingoistic babbling about the London Olympics have a chance to tell the UK that it is not the case that we all feel that way. Daily Kos Campaigns has a letter you can sign.

An open letter to the people of the United Kingdom:

We are writing to express our concern over Mitt Romney’s recent comments, and to let you know that he does not represent how most Americans view your great country.

First, we do not believe, as Mitt Romney implied in 2007, that you have become a second-tier nation. Rather, we are impressed at how the United Kingdom has consistently been able to punch above its weight on the world stage.

Additionally, we do not share the opinion which Romney expressed in his 2010 book, No Apologies, that “England [sic] is just a small island,” and that “with few exceptions, it doesn’t make things that people in the rest of the world want to buy.” Please continue sending us your many wonderful products, especially the upcoming third season of Downton Abbey.

We look forward not only to the London Olympics, but also to many years of continuing the special relationship between our two nations. Rest assured we will do our level best to prevent Mitt Romney from becoming our next president.

Cheers!

Click Here to sign.

A while ago I asked Should we just stop using reddit? (For those of you following the Freethought Bullies discussion, I’ll note that one of my frustrations with Freethoughtblogs, which I overall think is a great blog network, is that so many bloggers there uncritically involve themselves in Reddit to the point that they are by default defending the widespread and offensive misogyny there.)

Lots of people showed up on that post to hate me for hating the hate at Reddit. Whatever.

More recently, Jim Hines, the author, has written this post: Why I Cancelled my Reddit Q&A [trigger warning].

What Hines notes in his post is even worse than what I had encountered. It is a very good argument for leaving Reddit off your social networking list of things to do.

Unless, of course, Reddit does the right thing.

Target, which we in Minnesota refer to as The Mother Ship (as in “We’re out of everything. Time to visit the Mother Ship”), has a mixed record with respect to Gay Rights. A few years back, Target made a major indirect donation to Tom Emmer’s gubernatorial campagin; Emmer is very anti Gay. You may remember that event because it is when Lady Gaga killed an album deal with the company as a way of showing her support for Gay Rights. Also, there is the more recent controversy over Frank Ocean’s album, although the reasons for Target dropping that album from its line are not entirely clear.

Well, cooler heads have prevailed at least to some extent, with Target now selling same-sex greeting cards and, most recently, using a same-sex theme in its advertising for a wedding registry.

When I first moved to Minnesota, Targets were not everywhere in the US, but they were everywhere here. There were so many Targets that you could not use them as landmarks when giving directions. If you said “Go north and turn right at the Target” you might was well say “Go north and turn right at any major intersection you see” because there is a Target at every major intersection. In those days, people who used a Target credit card knew that a significant percent (was it 5%?) of their purchase went into a fund to support education, and more than that, credit hard holders could specify which school district received the funding. Now, however, the percentage is much lower, but at least they still do it.

One of the things that Target uses to differentiate itself from its main competitors, such as Walmart, is style. I’m told that Target keeps its aisles wide and open while Walmart fills its open space with stuff on sale. This provides Walmart with more income (because the amount of stuff you put out for sale is a factor in how much you sell) but it keeps Target customers subtly more happy about going to Target. In this and other ways, the two companies have different approaches to brand loyalty. Only slightly more subtle difference is the cultural and political aspect of brand loyalty. When I would visit relatives in the Ozarks, everyone would be all about Walmart, everyone had their Sam Walton story, and Walmart was without a doubt The Mother Ship in that region, whence Walmart comes. In Minnesota, the contrast is starker. Walmart is conservative, Republican, and Dixie-South, while Target is liberal, DFLish, and local. The thing about cramming the aisles vs. not seems to fit well with this contrast somehow. Free Market vs. Good Service, or something.

It is for this reason that Minnesotans really did become upset when Emmer received support from Target. Lots of Minnesotans supported Emmer, are against Gay Rights, and are otherwise misguided in their politics and social policy. But Progressives, DFLers, Liberals, pro-Gay Rights people were the Target customers, and we were shocked, chagrined, and upset when that happened.

So we applied pressure and it seems to be paying off.

I’ve known a handful of people who worked at Target, as executives. They are all at least liberal, some downright progressive and overtly pro-Gay Rights. People who graduate from the local colleges with certain degrees, and especially from MBA programs, know that the process of applying at Target for a management (or similar) job involves an evaluation of one’s ability to “fit the culture.” That culture mainly has to do with the overall management strategy at Target and is more about the nature of teams, approaches to organization, and attitudes about customer service, all of which I’ve heard a very different from other large corporations in the area. I’ve also gotten the sense, however, that it is also somewhat political. Target is more liberal inside and out, than other major retailers. But, they are also a business and I’m not entirely sure that the Management embraces a liberal political attitude when making decisions, or at least not consistently.

And that is somewhat appropriate since Target is not a political non-profit. It is a retail corporation. But still, it is also The Mother Ship, but not everybody’s Mother Ship. It is my Mother Ship and I want it to behave.

Of the last five times I needed to buy clothing, I went to JC Penny’s instead of Target because of recent politically shaded decisions by the two corporations. I’d never been to a JC Penny’s to buy my clothing before. I’m not the only person around here to did that.

When it comes to the politics of retail businesses, voting day is every day.

Hat Tip to Skeptically Money for pointing me to this story.

From the Court Support facebook page:

Four of the seven people arrested in front of US Bank plaza last fall are going to court next week, for challenging the banks practices of foreclosing on people and forcing them into homelessness. We recently learned that the prosecutor has added three new charges to each of us! We need people to pack the court room and show their support, and to say that standing up to the banks isn’t criminal, taking people’s homes IS!

Michele Bachmann
[I] don’t know what causes people to either create beliefs about something that is not true, or to accept incredible beliefs of this sort. I do know that I’ve had such beliefs. When I was 12. At the time that I was 12 and a couple of years before that, I believed that theories like “Worlds in Collision” were interesting and possibly valid. I had mixed feelings about Ancient Astronauts. For at time I felt that Edgar Cayce explained everything. But then, I turned 13 and literally grew out of it. Well, there were other influences. And for some of those beliefs it took another year to completely go away. I’m pretty sure my old-world style Catholic upbringing prepared me to believe things that I now see as incredibly unlikely. If one grows up knowing that demonic possession, poltergeists, assumption, and coming back from the dead are well known phenomena, then an as yet undiscovered hominid living in the forest, or alternative theories of how the solar system evolved are not so hard to accept. But one grows out of these things. Continue reading