The leaders of Myanmar and Belarus, or Thailand and Russia, can now rightly say to us “You went after Wikileaks’ domain name, their hosting provider, and even denied your citizens the ability to register protest through donations, all without a warrant and all targeting overseas entities, simply because you decided you don’t like the site. If that’s the way governments get to behave, we can live with that.”

Clay Shirky, “Wikileaks and the Long Haul

Similarly, whatever a ‘talking’ wishing well may be, it obviously was a center of attention separate from the crèche.
Justice Blackmun, County of Allegheney v. American Civil Liberties Union (1989)

According to numerous sources, last night, outside a political debate in Kentucky, a group of Rand Paul supporters threw a MoveOn member to the ground, incapacitated her, and one person stomped on the back of her head.

You read that right. Stomped on her head.Political activist being stomped upon

So, let’s be clear here, America. Maybe there’s been some confusion as of late. Not many people have stood up and opposed this sort of behavior. We’ve kind of let it slide. Continue reading

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Stale Content Alert!

This post was written a long time ago, and my views have almost certainly evolved since then. Please keep that in mind while reading, commenting, or sharing.

For a while, I’ve tried to keep my blog relatively family-friendly. I’ve hidden more vulgar or objectionable things behind “Read More” links, and I avoid swearing. I’ve also, in the past, decided not to post about some things I find really interesting because they deal with culturally taboo subjects, like sexuality.

While I appreciate not trying to offend others, I feel like my blog is my space, and if I feel hampered in what I can post because I’m afraid I’ll tick some people off or disturb their sensibilities, I think I’m ultimately dealing myself a disservice. A blog exists to be written in, and though there are many excuses as to why I haven’t posted much lately, one of them–the question of content–is easily dealt with.

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A week or so ago, I sent an e-mail to Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley asking him to do what he could to oppose the military’s discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Today, I got a response!

Dear Spencer,

Thank you for contacting me to share your support for repealing the military’s current “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. It is an honor to serve as your Senator, and I appreciate hearing from you.

Like you, I strongly support repealing this misdirected policy that prevents openly gay Americans from serving in the United States Armed Forces. I believe every American should have the opportunity to serve this country, and for too long, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has undermined that fundamental right. For this reason, I am proud to be an original cosponsor of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act (S. 3065), which would repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the armed forces.

The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy not only compromises equal rights, but it unnecessarily limits the capacity of our military to draw upon America’s best and brightest. For the United States to have the strongest armed forces in the world, we must recruit and retain those who have the knowledge and skills necessary to enhance military effectiveness. The private lives of our troops should have no bearing on their willingness or ability to serve. This legislation would overturn an injustice that has kept far too many Americans from serving our country.

This bill is currently pending in the Senate Armed Services Committee. While I am not a member of that Committee, I want to assure you that I will be closely following the progress of this bill. Please know I will continue to fight for the equal rights of all Americans on this issue and others.

All my best,

Jeff Merkley
United States Senate

While it sounds a little like a form letter, I greatly appreciate his response and his opposition to the policy. It’s good to see a clear perspective on this issue.

Three cheers for partaking in the democratic process!

Let’s say you’re a parent. Let’s say that one day, under pressure from a bunch of acquaintances who are convinced you’re doing something wrong by neglecting to do this earlier, you start giving your child dessert every night– not only that, but expecting her to eat it. You keep the practice up, night after night, and you see no harm in it, since she seems perfectly happy with it.

Your daughter grows up with this practice. One day, when your daughter is fifteen or so, a friend points out to you that expecting your daughter to eat dessert every night is definitely a bad parenting choice. It’s bad for her health, it fails to teach her how to act with responsibility– in short, it goes against many of the values you had when you became a parent. In light of this, you decide to stop making her eat dessert every night, and instead, to keep sweet options available without pushing them. Your daughter can choose to eat dessert, but you’re no longer pushing it on her. From your perspective, and from the perspective of an outside observer, you’re respecting her right to do what she wants, giving her options while remaining consistent with the beliefs you hold dear as a parent.

Your daughter, though, has grown up expecting this. She hasn’t been unhappy with it; her whims have been catered to for a good chunk of her life. She expects that you’ll provide her with dessert every night. To her eyes, what you’re doing is not an exercise in liberty, in fact she it as the opposite. She feels entitled to her dessert every night. What happened? She was given a privilege so long she began to view it as a right.

This, in a nutshell, is the National Day of Prayer. Continue reading