Showing posts with label Violence. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Violence. Show all posts

June 21, 2016

Turkish Riot Police use Violence to Disperse LGBT Rights Marchers

 Amidst rubber bullets, water cannon and gas, this gay man/woman raises the colors 

Turkish police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to break up a rally by the LGBT community in Istanbul on Sunday, in the second crackdown in as many days on protests by secular Turks.
Several hundred riot police surrounded the main Taksim Square -- where demonstrations have been banned since major anti-government protests in 2013 — to prevent the "Trans Pride" event taking place during Ramadan.
It was the latest crackdown by police in Turkey against an event during the Muslim holy month.
As the police swooped in on the rally of about 150 people, the crowd fled into nearby streets.
Turkish media reported that at least two people were detained.
The "Trans Pride" rally was to kick off LGBT week in Turkey.
The demonstrators unfurled a rainbow flag, a symbol of the LGBT community, and then tried to read a statement but were prevented from doing so by the police.    
 Taksim Gezi Park, Turkey

Istanbul authorities said on Friday they had banned the annual gay pride parade set for June 26 to “safeguard security and public order" after a string of bombings around Turkey over the past year, some of them blamed on the Islamic State group, others claimed by Kurdish militants.

"We want to march for humanity but the police ban everything," an activist who gave her name as Ebru told AFP.
Earlier Sunday, 11 anti-gay protesters, apparently Islamists, demonstrating near Taksim Square were arrested, according to the Dogan news agency.
"We are Ottomans," shouted one, according to video of the incident. "We don't want any of those people here."
 A group of ultra-nationalists asked the authorities last week to cancel the gay pride parade, saying it would make sure it did not take place if police did not heed the call.
The annual Istanbul parade has taken place for the last 12 years without incident with thousands of people taking part in the most important LGBT gathering in a Muslim country in the region.
Sunday's crackdown on the Trans Pride event came a day after police fired tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon to disperse a protest over an Islamist attack on fans of British rock group Radiohead.
On Friday night, a group of about 20 men beat up customers and staff at the Velvet IndieGround music store in Istanbul for drinking alcohol during an event to promote Radiohead's latest album.
Three of the attackers, who were angered by the fact that alcohol was being served during Ramadan, were arrested but released Sunday after questioning.
On Saturday, about 500 protesters took to the streets of the trendy Cihangir district to condemn the store attack, chanting "Shoulder to shoulder against fascism!" and denouncing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a "thief" and a "killer".
Turkish authorities have regularly cracked down on anti-government demonstrations since mass protests swept the country in 2013, using tear gas and water cannon against even small gatherings.
Critics accuse Erdogan of growing authoritarianism and of pushing an increasingly conservative agenda in a country where devout Muslims and secularists have long peacefully co-existed.
On Saturday, Turkey's strongman leader vowed to press ahead with the contested redevelopment of Istanbul's Gezi park, next to Taksim Square, which triggered the 2013 revolt by mainly liberal Turks.
A court initially suspended the construction project in the aftermath of the unrest, in which eight people were killed, but the court later reversed its decision.

Osman Orsal/Reuters

March 30, 2016

Trump Wants to Punch Protester in face, His Manager Arrested for Same

                                   The man in a suit on the highlighted circle is trumps’                                           Campaign Manager  in altercation with younger guy

Republican frontrunner Donald Trump's campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, was arrested Tuesday and charged with simple battery in Jupiter, Florida for grabbing the arm of a reporter at a Trump campaign event on March 8th. Trump was quick to announce that "Mr. Lewandowski is absolutely innocent of this charge."
Below is a timeline chronicling violence surrounding Trump's campaign.

March 14, 2016

[KC 800k for Royals 3 Arrests] for [Trump Supporters Tear Gas]

Protesters outside Trump rally in Kansas City, Mo. (Diana Reese.) 

[Kansas City, a peaceful City; Except when Trump got here] 

This City earned a reputation for mellowness after 800,000 people turned out in early November to celebrate the Royals’ World Series win — and local police made just three arrests.

Still, outside a Donald Trump rally here on Saturday night, four people were arrested and police used pepper spray twice on a crowd of around 200 protesters outside the historic theater where he was speaking, just blocks away from the Big 12 Men’s Basketball Championship game.  

"@kcpolice used short burst of fogger to disperse two large groups (200+) preparing to fight," tweeted Kansas City Police chief Darryl Forte. "Excellent preventive measure. Maintained order."
Later, Forte responded to another tweet questioning that decision. "There's been no riot in our city. Most in downtown area lawfully expressed themselves while lawfully assembling."

  Neither Trump supporters nor protesters at his rally here on Saturday night seemed particularly worried about the potential for violence.

"I know my city," said Melissa Shasmeen Glenn, who was calmly protesting outside the Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland where he spoke.

 A number of protesters said they felt they had to come, to express their dismay and frustration with the billionaire businessman. "I wanted to make a stand against the rhetoric Donald Trump is spreading," said Sarah Craig, an Air Force veteran. "He's the most divisive candidate we've ever had. He's not good for America."

"Donald Trump is inciting violence," said Tiffany McFadden, another protester. "He's against everyone who's not part of the 1 percent, who's not rich, white and male."

Earlier in the day, after a man tried to get on stage at a rally in Dayton, Ohio, Trump told the crowd, " These are bad, bad people, and we're going to take our country back from these people." And on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday, Trump said he might pay the legal fees of the 78-year-old Trump supporter charged with assault and disorderly conduct after videos showed him sucker-punching a young African American protester at a rally in North Carolina.

Trump told moderator Chuck Todd that the man "obviously loves his country, and maybe he doesn't like seeing what's happening to the country."

In Kansas City, several dozen protesters infiltrated the audience inside the Midland where they interrupted Trump's remarks at least 10 times. A  family from Lee's Summit, Mo., said three people sitting in the row behind them stood up during the candidate's speech and held up anti-Trump signs.

"They looked normal," said Rob Steinbeck, adding that he'd talked with them earlier to make sure he wasn't blocking their view.

Steinbeck was convinced that someone must have been paying the protesters, and that they must be from somewhere else, and noted that he'd seen a van with Illinois license plates covered with anti-Trump slogans.

Before Trump took the stage, the audience of around 2,000 was advised not to touch or interact with any protesters who might be present but to start chanting, "Trump, Trump, Trump" and wait for police or Secret Service agents to escort them out.

Soon after Trump began speaking, protesters began popping up like jack-in-the-boxes.

"Where are these people coming from?" asked the candidate, who blamed Bernie Sanders supporters, alleging that they were holding professionally made signs in support of the Democratic candidate. He's "a lousy senator" who "didn't do a damned thing" in the Senate, Trump said.

He called the protesters "disrupters" and as  the interruptions continued, became more and more visibly frustrated: "I hope they arrest these people. From now on I'm filing charges."

Trump praised the Secret Service agents for their quick response earlier in Dayton, Ohio, and claimed that the man who'd charged the stage there "could" be linked to ISIS, though he didn't say that was the case.

Then he went back to explaining his support of the torture known as waterboarding, and he pleaded with people to vote Tuesday in Missouri's primary.

By the time the rally ended, the crowd of protesters outside had gotten much younger and  angrier than earlier protesters. "F--- Trump is what I want to say," said one.

Andres Herrera and Kevin Bailey of the Progressive Youth Organization said their group had instigated the Facebook event "Trump Out of KC!" and had hoped to get the candidate to cancel his rally, as he had in Chicago on Friday.

But that didn't happen, and about an hour after the rally ended, the crowd began to disperse.

Beau Brayfield, who said he works full-time in IT and also goes to school, said he had been among the protesters pepper sprayed, "but it wasn't too bad." He was carrying a couple of garbage bags, looking for a dumpster.

Yes, he and other protesters had picked up the drink cups and other garbage left behind on the sidewalk.

"The cops thanked us for picking up the trash," he said.

by Diana Reese an award-winning freelance journalist in Kansas City. Follow her on Twitter at @DianaReese.

July 31, 2015

Jerusalem’s Gay Pride Turns the Rainbow to Red with Blood

The stabbing attack at Jerusalem's gay pride parade on Thursday was the result of a failure by police intelligence. Jerusalem police admit that they knew Yishai Schlissel was released from prison in June after serving 10 years in Ma’asiyahu prison for a similar stabbing attack at the 2005 Jerusalem Gay Pride parade, where he wounded three…(
 In Jerusalem an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man stabbed and wounded six participants, two of them seriously, in the annual Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem on Thursday, with police saying the suspect was jailed for a similar attack 10 years ago.
About 5,000 people celebrating the event were marching along an avenue when a man jumped into the crowd, apparently from a supermarket, and plunged a knife into some of the participants, witnesses said.
“We heard people screaming, everyone ran for cover, and there were bloodied people on the ground,” Shai Aviyor, a witness interviewed on Israel’s Channel 2, said.
It was the worst attack in years on the event in Jerusalem, a divided city where the religious population is more prominent than in other parts of Israel and highlighted the tension nationwide among disparate social groups.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it “a despicable hate crime”, and President Reuven Rivlin warned that social intolerance could spell disaster for Israel.
Police said they arrested the suspected perpetrator, an ultra-Orthodox man. Spokeswoman Luba Samri said he was the same assailant jailed for the stabbing of three marchers at a similar Jerusalem event in 2005. Israeli media said the suspect had been released from prison several weeks ago.
The parade has long been a focus of tension between Israel’s predominantly secular majority and the ultra-Orthodox Jewish minority, who object to public displays of homosexuality.
Many devout Jews, Muslims and Christians criticise homosexuality as an abomination of their beliefs. Gay marriages performed inside Israel are not recognised by the authorities. 
Police and medics said the attacker wounded six people. Two were taken to hospital in serious condition, including a young woman, said a doctor at Shaarei Tzedek Hospital, where the victims were being treated.
The march is held in the largely Jewish side of the divided city. Palestinians predominate in occupied East Jerusalem.
Oded Fried, the head of a leading gay rights group, said the attack would not deter the movement. A similar Gay Pride event on June 12 in the more gay friendly business hub of Tel Aviv passed off without incident.
“Our struggle for equality only intensifies in the face of such events,” Fried said. 
Netanyahu said Israel would prosecute those responsible to the full extent of the law, adding: “Freedom of individual choice is a basic value in Israel.” 
Rivlin, whose job as president is largely ceremonial, said: “We must not be deluded a lack of tolerance will lead us to disaster.”
 Allyn Fisher-Ilan
(Editing by Alison Williams)

June 8, 2015

Bad news, good news in Ukraine Pride march, violence

Anti-LGBT protesters attack police who guarded LGBT marchers in Kiev on June 6. (Photo courtesy of Bogdan Globa via Facebook)
Anti-LGBT protesters attack police who guarded LGBT marchers in Kiev on June 6. (Photo courtesy of Bogdan Globa via Facebook)
Annotated excerpts from coverage of the Saturday, June 6, Pride march in Ukraine by BuzzFeed and the Washington Blade:
BAD NEWS: Nine police officers were injured during a LGBT “March for Equality” in Kiev on Saturday, after right-wing counter protesters attacked the event.
GOOD NEWS: Police deployed more than 2,000 officers to protect the event, which was canceled last year because the police said they would not protect participants. The Ministry of Internal Affairs said 25 people were arrested for “illegal actions” during the march.
The march was only the second LGBT Pride march to take place in the former Soviet republic since it gained independence in 1991.
GOOD NEWS: President Petro Poroshenko deployed more than 2,000 police officers to the march after nationalists threatened to disrupt it. The pro-European leader did not participate, but he told reporters on Friday that he supported it.
“I will not be taking part,” said Poroshenko, according to Agence France-Presse. “But I see no grounds for someone to try and disturb it, since this is the constitutional right of every Ukrainian citizen.”
GOOD NEWS: Ukrainian advocates with whom the Washington Blade spoke on Saturday said that up to 300 people participated in the march. They said two members of the Ukrainian Parliament, Swedish Ambassador to Ukraine Stefan Gullgren and a representative of the U.S. Embassy in Kiev are among those who took part.
BAD NEWS: Ukraine’s LGBT rights record remains poor compared to other European countries, even though Poroshenko is seeking closer ties to Brussels.
A 2013 Amnesty International report indicates anti-LGBT discrimination and violence remain widespread in Ukraine. LGBT rights advocates last July cancelled a march that had been scheduled to take place in Kiev because local police refused to protect them amid threats from what they described as “ultra-right groups” and soccer hooligans.
Olena Shevchenko, co-chair of the Kyiv 2014 Pride organizing committee, told the Blade on Saturday that she opposed the “March for Equality,” which she described as a “closed format” event, because nationalists would have found out about it.
“I would prefer an open Pride in the center of Kiev,” said Shevchenko. BAD NEWS: “We see how it looks now: LGBT fighting with patriots. This is not the best picture for Ukraine’s European integration.”
BAD NEWS: Bogdan Globa [executive director of the Ukrainian LGBT advocacy group Fulcrum] told the Blade last June during an interview at PFLAG’s Washington offices … that the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, which has declared itself independent from Kiev, has banned so-called gay propaganda to minors [following the lead of Russia]. He said members of a pro-Russian paramilitary group had also recently attacked those who attended a gay party at a Donetsk nightclub.
HelenGloba [a marcher and co-founder of Tergo, a support group for parents and friends of LGBT Ukrainians] said members of her group who live in eastern Ukraine remain afraid to travel because of the ongoing conflict between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian troops.

May 14, 2015

Georgia’s Gay Rights Win EU Case Which Blocked Pride in ‘12

A gay rights activist clashes with an Orthodox Christian activist in Tbilisi on May 17, 2012.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg has ruled that Georgian authorities failed to adequately protect gay-rights activists and should compensate victims of attacks aimed at blocking a gay-pride event three years ago. 
The ECHR issued its ruling on May 12, according to which the Tbilisi-based LGBT (lesbian, gays, bisexual, and transgender) group Identoba and more than a dozen activists were found eligible for compensation of between 1,500 and 4,000 euros ($1,675 to $4,465) from the Georgian government for its "failure to provide adequate protection."
The case stems from an incident in Tbilisi in May 2012, when activists tried to hold Georgia's first-ever gay-pride march to mark the International Day Against Homophobia.
Orthodox activists blocked their way, and some of the gay activists were verbally and physically assaulted. 
In addition to a violation of the right to free assembly, the ECHR also ruled that there was a violation of Article 3, which prohibits inhuman or degrading treatment, in conjunction with the European Convention on Human Rights' Article 14 banning discriminatioin.
In 2013, a group of LGBT rights activists faced larger-scale violence when thousands of antigay demonstrators, led by Orthodox clerics, attacked a small group of LGBT activists who wanted to mark May 17 in an area adjacent to Freedom Square in downtown Tbilisi. At least 28 people were injured in that incident. 
Fearing homophobic violence, LGBT rights groups in Georgia have since avoided public events to mark UN-sponsored International Day Against Homophobia. 
In an apparent attempt to counter International Day Against Homophobia, the Georgian Orthodox Church introduced what it calls Family Day, also on May 17. 
In 2014, the day was marked with a large rally, led by the Orthodox clerics, which took on an antigay tone and challenged newly adopted domestic legislation against discrimination.
Article posted By RFE/RL in

April 23, 2015

Crisis of Violence in Georgia Prisons

A shocking photo of inmates taken at a Georgia correctional facility could intensify a halting effort in the United States to alleviate poor prison conditions that can lead to unchecked barbarism likened to an American Abu Ghraib.
The picture from Burruss Correctional Training Center in Forsyth, Georgia, shows three young and shirtless African American male prisoners. One of them is pointing at the camera as though holding a gun, another is holding a makeshift leash, and the third, an 18-year-old, is on his knees, his left eye swollen shut from a beating and the leash lashed around his neck.
The image is shocking on several levels, including its similarity to the Abu Ghraib torture pictures, that a contraband cell phone was used to capture the degradation, and that prison officials didn’t witness the mass beating and subsequent humiliation of a young man serving an eight-year sentence for aggravated assault after first being arrested for armed robbery as a 14-year-old.

Prison-system critics say the image offers poignant insight into a broader problem of prisoner-on-prisoner violence in many U.S. correctional facilities, not just in Georgia, and the extent to which those experiences influence “young men who will be back among us one day,” as Sarah Geraghty, an Atlanta human rights lawyer, put it.
Wide-ranging reaction to the degrading photo also illustrates America’s evolving views about the confluence of punishment and humanity, and the extent to which society tolerates prison violence as a form of deterrence.
“I think this picture can go a long way toward galvanizing a discussion about what prisons are for—particularly, does anybody believe that these men are deterred by prison?” said Jonathan Simon, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley.
“You have to ask yourself: If the basic story that we tell ourselves is that it’s all about laws and sending people to prison because they violated laws and harmed other people, how can we possibly justify sending them to a place where that is happening to them?” Simon said. “If that’s our idea of punishment, then we have conceded the point that there’s a difference between crime and law.” 

In Georgia, reaction among prison officials to the picture was immediate and strong. The beaten inmate was moved into protective custody, and the state Department of Corrections moved to find and punish the torturers. More broadly, new policies and detection technology have led to mass confiscation of cell phones, which have been tied to violent extortion schemes involving inmates and their family on the outside.
“First and foremost, the Department does not tolerate contraband and takes very seriously its mission of protecting the public and running safe and secure facilities,” spokeswoman Gwendolyn Hogan told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The problem plaguing the corrections system nationwide is one that the [Georgia DOC] is aware of and continuously works to utilize extensive resources to combat this issue.”
Yet critics say the Abu Ghraib–like photo is emblematic of the kind of violence that regularly occurs in Georgia’s prisons. In a 2014 report called The Crisis of Violence in Georgia’s Prisons, the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta documented dozens of similar ordeals and argued that Georgia has seen an increase in the “number of really brutal incidents.”
Those include a prisoner who was airlifted to a burn center after fellow inmates poured bleach in his eyes and boiling water on his privates. In another case, a prisoner had three fingers severed by an inmate wielding a 19-inch prison-made machete. In another, a prisoner was tied to his bed and beaten, remaining a hostage until guards found him—two days later.
Root causes of such violence include failure of basic security, inadequate supervision, and accessibility to lethal weapons and cell phones, the report concluded.  
But while Georgia’s problems with violent prisons are significant, it’s far from the only state where life inside sometimes devolves into outright blood-sport degradation.
Indeed, it was California that became the poster child for “horrendous” prison conditions, in the words of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.
In a 2011 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that California prisons overcrowded by long-term incarceration policies violated the Eighth Amendment’s guarantee against cruel and unusual punishment. In 2006, there was one preventable inmate death a week inside California’s sprawling prison complex. The opinion referenced several photos of prison conditions, including a picture of a suicidal prisoner who was “held in...a cage for nearly 24 hours, standing in a pool of his own urine, unresponsive and nearly catatonic.”
Aside from mandates to slim down California’s prison population, the ruling’s most lasting contribution came from Justice Anthony Kennedy. “Prisoners retain the essence of human dignity inherent in all persons,” he wrote.
Kennedy’s stance represented a rejection of what University of Pennsylvania law student Sara Mayeux, in an article for, called “a deeper cultural pathology: the tendency to imagine prisoners as an undifferentiated mass of uncontrollable criminality, not as human beings with organs that fail and extremities that break.”
Still, problems remain deep and endemic in states like Georgia. It’s a system, the human rights report argues, “in which prison officials have lost control.”
Aware of such problems, political leaders in Georgia and other Southern states have begun to recognize that overreliance on incarceration and mass imprisonment has itself become a problem that affects society.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said in 2011 that his get-tough-on-crime views had been tempered over time. “There is an urgent need to address the astronomical growth in the prison population, with its huge costs in dollars and lost human potential,” Gingrich pointed out. “The criminal-justice system is broken, and conservatives must lead the way in fixing it.”
Fighting off tears, Georgia’s Republican Gov. Nathan Deal in 2012 signed a law to help keep nonviolent offenders out of prison.
Patrik Jonsson is The Christian Science Monitor's Atlanta correspondent, covering the South. He has written for newspapers in New Hampshire, and The Boston Globe
This story was produced by The Christian Science Monitor.

May 23, 2014

Clashes of Europe’s Tolerance of LGBT people

EUROPE stands accused of many failings in recent months, including weakness, internal division and naivety. But to hardline Georgian churchmen, the continent’s greatest sin is depravity. Europe’s promotion of tolerance for homosexuality, they say, threatens the very foundation of Georgian society.
The discussion became more heated after the government’s adoption of an anti-discrimination law on May 2nd. The law is central to further progress towards visa-free travel in Europe, and lays the basis for the Association Agreement with the European Union, which Georgia is planning to sign on June 27th. Although human rights activists had hoped for stronger enforcement mechanisms, they see it as a significant step in the right direction.

The inclusion of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as unacceptable grounds for discrimination aroused the passions of the Orthodox Church. The Patriarch (pictured), who is by far the most respected public figure in Georgia, thundered that “believers would not accept” a law that “legalised illegality”. Individual clerics went further in addressing parliament, warning politicians of the perils of confronting the church. Excitable protesters worried about the “genocide of the nation”. Whether the EU’s ambassador’s reassurancethat reading Plato had not made him gay had any impact is unclear.
A year ago, on the international day against homophobia (IDAHO), a massive, church-led counter-demonstration in Tbilisi broke up a small gay rights demonstration and left demonstrators in fear for their lives. This year, Georgia’s beleaguered gay rights activists declined to rally on that day. Instead, they registered their invisibility with an imaginativeart installation of 100 empty pairs of shoes left on Tbilisi’s Pushkin square.
The church, meanwhile, moved to re-claim IDAHO as a national family day. A few hundred churchmen and supporters marched through Tbilisi’s streets and protested against the anti-discrimination law outside of the former parliament building. This suggests that homophobia has triumphed in Georgia but polls taken just before the eruption of the controversy over the anti-discrimination law show that 24% of Georgians surveyed said that gay rights were important; in June 2013, only 16% did.
This has an unlikely bearing on the country’s foreign policy, as Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, is trying to harness homophobia in Russia’s “near-abroad” in his bid for leadership of the anti-western world. Yet that may not sway ordinary Georgians. Their inclination towards the EU and NATO is stronger than their rejection of homosexuality, according to polling data.
Davit Usupashvili, the parliamentary speaker, said that the anti-discrimination bill represented a choice between Russia and the EU. After frantic negotiations behind the scenes, parliament adopted it unanimously. To shore up ties, a flurry of European bigwigs have visited Tbilisi in recent weeks, including the French president, the foreign ministers of Germany, France, and the UK, and Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council.
Even so, Georgia’s western allies are alarmed by the prosecution of former officials of the opposition party, the United National Movement, as they fear a political witch-hunt. These worries came to the fore when the prosecutor summoned the former president, Mikheil Saakashvili, for questioning on March 22nd. Whatever the legal basis for the move, it was politically short-sighted: Georgia’s closest allies within the EU, such as Poland and the Baltic countries, are also Mr Saakashvili’s firmest supporters.
The path towards Europe remains full of pitfalls. The potential for pressure from Moscow highlights how much Georgia needs unity. Yet Georgians have a talent for in-fighting: during the anti-gay rights rally on May 17th, two homophobes started beating each other up, each accusing the other of being gay.

November 5, 2013

Which One Conservatives Fear The Most: Sex or Violence?

Russian police attack gay protesters outside the State Duma today. (A href="!">Video by Dmitry Zykov)

If you picked Sex you are 100% correct:

If you bothered to listen to the Parents Television Council, you would think that New York's tiny IFC Center was evil incarnate when the theatre decided not to enforce the NC-17 rating for the film Blue Is the Warmest Color. The Parents Television Council called the move "shocking" and fretted that this meant "minor children" would be allowed to view graphicsex scenes (because they'll no doubt be camping on the street to see a three-hour French drama). Though its "stern warning" was not widely reported, it may very well have contributed to the film's strong box office results thus far.

Everyone is entitled to their beliefs, but here's where the fury of the Parents Television Councilbreaks down: these conservatives are so obsessed with sex, but seemingly care far less about violence.
While the Council was wailing about the possibility of a teenager seeing a lesbian film, agunman opened fire at Los Angeles airport, resulting in one death and a number of injuries. That might have been a moment for the PTC, which ranks violence after sex in its list of evils it seeks to regulate on the airwaves, to deplore the shooting and, perhaps, note that there is some credence to the calls for stricter gun control laws (or, at least, less violence on screen and in video games). Real-world violence, however, tends to have little resonance with cultural scolds. It is certainly not worth mentioning when there is cinematic sex to condemn.
The fact that Blue Is the Warmest Color is even rated NC-17 in the first place makes it yet another entry in the discussion, most recently illuminated by Kirby Dick in his documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated, about the hypocrisy and arbitrariness of film ratings, particularly where sex is concerned.
Sex, female nudity, female enjoyment of sex, and especially female enjoyment of lesbian sex, tend to draw the strictest ratings. Violence, however, is given much more of a pass. Even gory violence will be rated R, whereas a women's sexual pleasure is NC-17.
What's so scary about sex and the female body? And why is it so much scarier than violence – including violence committed upon the female body?
Concerns regarding sex over violence are nothing new in western society. Sex was, of course, right up there with forbidden fruit. Perceived as instigated by a woman, it then cast women in later religious thought as particularly carnal, a danger that could invite the devil into society. In the Speculum Maius, an encyclopedia used during the Middle Ages, friar Vincent de Beauvais wrote of women's frivolity, with their "monstrous headdresses" and particularly of the "lascivious and carnal provocation" of their clothing. Women were the "devil's decoy", capable of preventing men from achieving holiness.
One of the most famous sexual women in the Middle Ages is Chaucer's Wife of Bath, who laments "Alas, alas, that ever love was sin". While she is considered an example of healthy sexuality, her tale begins with a violent rape and ends with the rapist escaping punishment to instead enjoy a sexually fulfilling marriage. We never hear what happens to the rape victim, who likely ends up cast out of society.
Violence was, in fact, justified when aimed at women if they were said to be disobedient. That is, if they asserted some form of independence. While the bulk of victims of the early modern witch burnings were likely women past child-bearing age and thus no longer considered sexual, they were also living alone, ungoverned by male dominance. The witch hunts hinted that women who lived outside the social order deserved violent treatment.
Women's sexuality has been the target of male study, suspicion, and regulation throughout millennia. Aristotelian philosophy classed women more as property, not individuals, and the idea of their having agency was anathema to a healthy society.
Violence, on the other hand, is a male purview. Men conducted war, carried weapons, meted out punishment. Duels were sanctioned as a means of effecting justice. It's a historical "boys will be boys" mentality, justified for its ends. Through violence, one can create empires. Sex just replaces those who were lost along the way.
Bad enough that women's lustfulness could lean men astray. Far worse when that lustfulness is shared with another woman.
The first TV show to depict a serious and erotic lesbian relationship, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, used the specter of witchcraft as a conduit of their romantic connection. The censors cracked down on their relationship – whereas Buffy featured frightening, intense violence, and a fair bit of heterosexual sex, the network was quick to tell creator Joss Whedon that it didn't want to see any kissing between the lesbians. Terrifying violence was solid entertainment, an expression of romantic love between two young women might damage the children.
If conservative American adults would stop focusing on sex for a moment, they might see that what is really damaging children in the US is an excess of gun violence. The obsession with depictions of cinematic sexuality is a smokescreen for a real discussion of how to protect the most innocent among us.

Picture of Sarah Jane StratfordSara Jane Stratford     The Guardian

October 30, 2013

Students in Several NE States Demand End to Gender Violence

Students assemble at the Morales/Shakur Center at CCNY. (Credit:
1. At City College, a Surprise Shutdown Sparks an Uprising
On October 19, the City College of New York closed the Guillermo Morales/Assata Shakur Center, a community and social justice space, replacing it with a career center and setting off major protests across campus. During the raid, college officials arrested an alum who sat-in and called council members and students to notify them. Meanwhile, they shut down all buildings on campus, barring students from studying in the library—flying in the face of direct action for 24/7 library access during midterms and finals week. On October 21 and 24, hundreds of students rallied to demand the immediate return of the center. This week, there will be a protest in front of the school’s administration building as college president Lisa Staiano-Coico meets with the undergraduate student government. Students will continue to protest until the center is re-opened.
—Alyssia Osorio
2. For Women and Queer People, the Shutdown Hits Home
The day before the Morales/Shakur Center was shut down, after months of organizing and lobbying by Students for Educational Rights, the City College of New York recognized the need for a gender identity protection in its anti-discrimination policy. The push started at the MSCC, where a range of groups focused on justice for women and queer people, including the Multicultural Gender Resource Center Campaign and 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, held most of their programming. Due to the abrupt closure of the center, campaigns like these are threatened.
—Veronica Agard
3. Upstate, Racist Scrawls Bring Old Truths to Light
On the night of October 18, someone wrote on a whiteboard in SUNY–New Paltz’s DuBois Hall, “Emmett Till Deserved to Die.” Later, once it was erased, someone came back and wrote, “Don’t Erase the Truth.” Since then, black student leaders and student government representatives have met to formulate initiatives to promote a safer campus for students of color. Our resolutions include a racial diversity task force, similar to New Paltz’s LGBTQ task force, to address racial injustice; prioritizing people of color for new faculty and administrative hires; and explicit conversations about racial equality during freshmen and transfer orientations. We feel like this campus does not value our presence here, nor does it appreciate the role of people of color in broader society.
—Jordan Taylor
4. The IX Coalition at UConn
UConn’s IX Coalition is a non-university-affiliated, student-led campaign working to changecampus culture and policy. The group was created in response to the Title IX complaint filed on October 21 to show solidarity for the filers. Since then, we’ve been chalking frequented spaces on campus, including the Celeron path, which is widely referred to as the “rape trail,” with statistics, sentiments and resources on sexual violence. On October 30, we will be hosting a speakout at Husky Solidarity Day to address the culture of violence on campus, its history and its connection to discrimination. While the image of victim-survivors has centered on white women and their experiences with sexual violence, racism, homophobia and other forms of oppression are just as toxic to student life.
—Brittnie Carrier
5. Fuck Rape Culture at Ohio
In September, students at Ohio University formed a grassroots organization, Fuck Rape Culture, to challenge the normalization of sexual violence on campus. FRC mobilizes students through rallies and marches to force attention and dialogue on issues of sexual assault, consent and bystander intervention. In October, FRC obtained amnesty for under-21 survivors of sexual assault whose cases involve alcohol. Now the group is educating and encouraging administrators to implement in-person, consent-based sexual education for incoming first-year students, as well as sexual harassment training for student workers.
—Allie Erwin
6. Pissed Off Trans* People at Wesleyan
Pissed Off Trans* People and other sympathetic groups have been removing gendered bathroom signs at Wesleyan University and replacing them with all-gender signage and a statement on bathrooms, safety and transantagonism at Wesleyan. Members of our group have been physically threatened and verbally and sexually harassed because we use the “wrong” bathrooms, and the university’s administration has ignored it. We are responding to our day-to-day experiences as trans* and gender non-conforming people and changing these spaces in real time. We recognize gendered bathrooms as inherently violent forms of surveillance, targeting in particular poor, undocumented and of color transgender, gender non-conforming and intersex people. Through growing resistance, we aim to make the current bathroom gendering system at Wesleyan untenable.
—Pissed Off Trans* People
7. Edinboro Sits-In
On October 24, more than thirty Edinboro University students and faculty members staged aprotest and sit-in outside the office of President Julie Wollman in opposition to dramatic program and faculty cuts. After rallying across campus for several hours, protesters entered Wollman’s office to deliver a 1,200-signature petition against her proposal to cut five university programs and about forty-two full-time faculty positions to make up for a $7.6 million budget deficit. Upon being informed that the president was unavailable, the protesters sat-in and spread the word on #eupcuts and #apscufsolidarity until she came out to speak with them. Wollman asserted that her administration is diligently working to save as many faculty positions as possible; students will continue taking direct action until retrenchment is dropped.
—Crystal Folmar
8. California Converges
On October 18 and 19, students from across California met at the City College of San Francisco for the Fall 2013 California Student Union Conference, where we discussed growing union chapters and supporting campus and system-wide struggles. With the Save CCSF coalition still fighting for the state to reverse sanctions placed on the City College of San Francisco by a commission pushing for closure of the school, UC students opposing the appointment of Janet Napolitano as UC president and increased fees of over 300 percent for winter and summer classes at six community colleges, the crises in California’s higher education system have fostered an increasingly united front.
—Vanessa Lopez
9. Tennessee Takes Off
This November, college and high school students and community activists from across Tennessee will converge on Nashville for the first ever Tennessee Student Union Conference. A “meet-up of the movements” in Tennessee, inspired by the National Student Power Convergence, the conference hopes to galvanize a more cohesive youth and student identity across the state. The conference will be a weekend of organizing trainings, workshops and “next steps” general assemblies, and participants are expected from the DREAMer movement, cultural organizations and feminist, LGBTQ, student-labor solidarity and environmental student groups. Our guiding question is, how can higher education be a force for liberation? And then, how does access to education, particularly as it relates to race, class, gender, sexuality and immigration status, change the possibilities of liberation?
—Zach Blume
10. Where Is John Boehner?
Arizona is ground zero for immigrant justice: we see children afraid because a stop violationcould lead to their parents’ deportation, and workers worried that ICE could raid their workplaces any day. On October 18, forty-four fathers, mothers, DREAMers, students and children started their journey from #AZ2DC. After a forty-hour bus ride, we finally arrived in DC, where we took shelter at a church. On October 22, we went to Speaker Boehner’s office and prayed. Though he refused to open his door, we shared our stories with more than eighty members of Congress. Afterward, we went to Ohio with the hope of seeing Boehner at his district office. We will continue to pray, organize and speak out for our families.
—Reyna Montoy
Email questions, tips or proposals to For earlier dispatches, check out the previous post. Edited by James Cersonsky (@cersonsky).

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