Another voice

In response to this powerful article by Sister Christine Schenk, I wanted to share one small story of an incident that happened when I was working at an office as a summer job.

I was doing some filing when a man came up behind me and tickled me on my ribcage. I turned around quickly and an older man from another department was standing there right behind me. He said in surprise, “Oh, I’m sorry. I thought you were Maggie,” and walked away.

I was shocked. As a young feminist from Smith College, I knew that this was totally unacceptable office behavior.

I told Maggie (not her real name) and some of the other women in the office what had happened. Maggie acknowledged that this man often did this kind of thing; she supposed it was because he was trying to cover up the fact that he was gay. Best to keep quiet about it so as not to get him in trouble.

It was discouraging to me that anyone would behave that way and get away with it repeatedly, but the other women just accepted it as the way things are.

It is even more discouraging that decades later, people still make excuses for abusive behaviors of all kinds.

No, it is not okay to touch another person against that person’s wishes.  It is not okay to belittle or bully or threaten another person.

Every person is due respect at all times.

No matter how rich, famous, powerful, or talented a person in, they never have permission to treat another human being in a disrespectful way.

Period.

Guest viewpoint on gun control

A guest viewpoint that I wrote has appeared in the Sunday edition of the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin. It is available here: http://www.pressconnects.com/story/opinion/2016/07/29/guest-viewpoint-gun-control/87703872/.  I will also copy the text at the end of this post because there is a paywall after a certain number of free articles per month.

I did not write the headline. I am not going to read comments, which, thankfully appear on a separate page on the web. I am sure some of them will be nasty; there are even a few people from my facktivist days who make it a point not agree with me about anything, including if I write that grass is green.

Regular readers here at Top of JC’s Mind will not be surprised at the content.
*****
Congress Should Act on Gun Control

On June 15, Sen. Christopher Murphy, of Connecticut, took to the Senate floor to lead a 15-hour marathon talk on the need for the Senate to vote on gun control measures.

While some amendment votes were held the following week, none passed; currently under consideration is a bipartisan bill, authored by Sen. Susan Collins, of Maine, on preventing those on the no-fly and selectees lists from buying guns.

On June 22, the Democrats of the House of Representatives, led by Reps. Katherine Clark, of Massachusetts, and John Lewis, of Georgia, held a sit-in with the goal of bringing gun violence prevention legislation to a vote in the House. During the 25-hour sit-in, many members told stories from their districts of those affected by gun violence; some shared personal stories, as well. Many held signs with the names of those killed by guns as they gathered on the House floor.

Speaker Paul Ryan adjourned the House early for the Independence Day break rather than hold a vote.

Many polls show that the vast majority of Americans — and of American gunowners — favor legislation to keep potential terrorists, domestic abusers, those whose mental illness predisposes them to violence, and criminals from obtaining guns. Many also oppose selling military-style weapons and ammunition clips to the public. Yet, Congress has not acted.

Some say that enacting any gun control measure violates the Second Amendment, but it does not. The Second Amendment was enacted at a time when there was no standing army; it clearly labels the context by beginning with “A well-regulated militia … .” The courts recognize this.

The Supreme Court recently upheld a federal law keeping domestic abusers from owning firearms. The ban against owning fully automatic weapons has stood for decades. No one expects to have a private anti-aircraft battery or missile silo in the backyard.

None of our freedoms is absolute. The right to free speech and freedom of the press are not license to libel or slander. The free exercise of religion does not permit human sacrifice or physical assault.

When the House reconvenes, the Democrats plan to continue their efforts to pass gun control measures. I call on my representative, Richard Hanna, to speak on the floor in remembrance of the victims of gun violence in our district, especially those who died or were injured in the American Civic Association shooting. Perhaps the fact that he is retiring will give him courage to break with the Republican leadership and vote to protect the safety of the public in accord with the will of the people, acting as a final legacy to his career as a public servant.

Our most fundamental right is the right to life. No perceived right to bear arms should trump another person’s right to live.

Joanne Corey, of Vestal, is a member of the Catholic Peace Community of the Southern Tier.

Update: While on the perssconnects website there is a photo of guns accompanying my piece, in the print edition there is a photo of Paul Ryan waving the Constitution at a press conference on why the Republicans oppose voting on gun measures. I would not have chosen either of those. A photo of the House sit-in or of Rep. Lewis would have been more appropriate to the content of the piece.

a note of thanks

I am somewhat shocked to discover that I have reached 750 followers, including just over 600 from WordPress alone.

I am immensely grateful to all followers, readers, and commenters who are visiting Top of JC’s Mind these days as I continue my less-than-ideal blogging practice.

When Grandma died unexpectedly in March, I knew there would be some disruption in my usual routine of posting and visiting/commenting on other blogs, but I couldn’t know at the time how draining the aftermath of that loss would be or how many other losses, changes, and complications would ensue.

The current state of affairs in the world hasn’t helped.

I have struggled to get back to posting on a somewhat regular basis. I am doing almost no reading and commenting still, which feels odd. It isn’t that I can’t come up with the time; it’s more that I can’t muster the brainpower and concentration.

I thank you for your patience and understanding. I have given up projecting when I may be back to visiting you all and re-engaging.

Some of you have assured me that it is okay to take my time, to do what I need to do, that everything will work out eventually.

Please continue to save a little room for me in a corner of WordPress.

Someday, I’ll be dropping back in.

 

Bernie Sanders on what he wants

Weeks ago, I wrote about what I, as a Bernie supporter, want moving forward.

In today’s Washington Post, Sanders writes about what he – and more importantly – his supporters want.  He actually mentions the twelve million people who voted for him in primaries, but he has many more supporters than that. Some, like me, are independents who live in closed primary states. Others are people who caucused for Bernie in their states, but who are not tallied as votes for him due to the state caucus rules.

The list of issues that Senator Sanders highlights is not exhaustive, but it is expansive, emphasizing yet again that Sanders’ campaign was never one-issue, as his critics had characterized it.

I hope that the Democrats will seek to address these issues and earn the enthusiastic support of Bernie’s supporters of all political affiliations.

I take the recent energy and actions by the Congressional Democrats as a positive sign that  the party is finally putting the needs of the people above the special interests.

Bernie has been calling for a revolution, not a violent one but a political one.  Let’s use the momentum of the current moment to make it happen.

It’s what being a democratic republic is all about.

The House’s Turn

Following up on Senator Murphy’s almost 15-hour Senate marathon. There were four amendments on various aspects of gun control in the Senate on Monday, all of which failed. There is a bipartisan group of Senators trying to craft something that might pass.

Today, the House of Representatives is having an old-fashioned sit-in to force a vote in the House, vowing that they will not go on a planned break next week unless there is a vote on gun issues. Some Democratic senators have come over to support the House members.

It is great that Rep. John Lewis is leading the sit-in. A veteran of many civil rights sit-ins and protests, he is the perfect voice to lead this action.

“Fifty-four” in Eunoia Review

I am pleased to share the this link:  https://eunoiareview.wordpress.com/2016/06/06/fifty-four/ to my poem “Fifty-four” in Eunoia Review. It is a reprint of the poem which first appeared in Wilderness House Literary Review. Before that, it was a finalist in a Binghamton Poetry Project contest. It was written about me and my friend Angie.

I usually write squealing posts when a poem is accepted, but this was different. It was a very sober time in our lives, as we were dealing with the continuing process of grieving Grandma’s death. By sad coincidence, in January, Eunoia had published “The Last Night“, a poem I wrote about the death of my father-in-law. It felt surreal that they accepted another poem of mine that involves a death at a time when we were again mourning. This feeling has only multiplied as the losses have continued to mount this spring.

I do hope that you will take a moment to visit Eunoia Review and read my work. I would love to hear from you, either through comments here or at Eunoia.

Peace,
Joanne

beyond the “like” button

Last July, I wrote this post about the need for an empathy button on social media.

Amazingly enough, Facebook has recently implemented an expanded menu of option beyond the old “like” button.

Yay!

I realize this has nothing to do with my little post, which did not go viral and lead to a social media wave demanding a change.

Still, I’m hoping that other social media will follow suit.

Okay, WordPress. Your turn.

the t-word

I’ve written before about my support for Bernie Sanders as the presidential candidate whose views most closely resemble my own.

I have not been writing about my opposition to the ideas and the tone of the Republican campaign, particularly those of the frontrunner whose name I use sparingly, if at all, so as not to spread the hatefulness.

This finds me avoiding using a word that I tend to use when speaking and, more sparingly, when writing.

The verb “trump” means “to be more important than.”

I can’t use it without clarifying that I’m not being unduly ironic.

I resent not having use of a perfectly good word, but not as much as I resent the way our Constitution, our values, and common decency are being trampled this election season.

 

Reaction to the death of Justice Scalia

Like most people in the United States, I was surprised to hear of the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Saturday. Although he was the longest-serving justice on the current Court, he was, at 79, not the eldest, and was considered to be in good health.

He has been the anchor of the conservative justices on the Court for many years. He was an originalist, trying to interpret the Constitution as intended by its authors. I think of originalists as being akin to fundamentalists in religious interpretation. (When interpreting documents, I am more inclined toward taking into account the historical setting of the time a text was written, as well as historical-social developments since to gain contemporary understanding, which is the opposite school of thought to Scalia’s viewpoint.)

What was most shocking to me, though, was the reaction within hours by the Republican leaders of the Senate and the Republicans running for the presidential nomination that President Obama should not nominate a replacement for the Supreme Court vacancy, instead leaving it open until his successor takes office. (For those of you outside the United States, the Constitutionally-proscribed procedure is that the President nominates a person for the Supreme Court and the Senate then votes to accept or reject the nominee. Supreme Court appointments are for life and choosing Supreme Court nominees is considered one of the most important duties of the presidency.)

I was shocked first in social/human/religious terms, that the Republican Senate leadership was so immediately politicizing Justice Scalia’s death.  In the first hours and days after his death, there should have been recognition of his public service and condolences to his wife, their nine children and many grandchildren, colleagues, and friends, not political wrangling about his replacement. It was sadly ironic that many of the same politicians who say it is disrespectful to the families of victims to discuss gun control legislation in the aftermath of a mass shooting had no qualms about politicizing Justice Scalia’s death before his body had even been transported back to his hometown.

The Supreme Court has been closely divided in recent years, issuing many 5-4 decisions. With Justice Scalia gone, the current term is likely to be produce a number of 4-4 ties, which means that lower court rulings will stand, but that no precedent has been set. Those cases or issues are likely to come back to the Supreme Court in the future.

If a replacement for Justice Scalia has not been confirmed by October, when the next Court session will begin hearing arguments, the country risks losing the voice of the Court for another whole year.

Our government is already suffering from gridlock; we can’t afford to make it worse.

The Congressional Republicans have been obstructing much of the normal legislative functions of passing bills and timely confirmation of executive and judicial appointments during the Obama presidency.

It has to stop.

If the Republicans delay or obstruct a Senate confirmation for a Supreme Court justice, they are violating the Constitution that they have sworn to uphold.

PS  Within an hour of posting this, I ran across this segment of John Oliver discussing Scalia’s replacement. I thought you might enjoy it. Warning: there is a bit of adult language.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Vt9xV9ZI74

landing in the junk bin

I often subscribe by email to comment threads on other blogs so that I don’t miss replies.

I just checked my email  and found that a whole bunch of those emails got shunted to my junk folder at the same time that many others landed correctly in my inbox.

Weird.