Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The difference between homosexuality...and murder

by Gregory Allen

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has been traveling to promote sales of his new book, but has drawn more attention toward his antiquated attitude toward homosexuality. Scalia's most divisive comments were given in a speech made at Princeton University, "If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder? Can we have it against other things?"

According to Geoff Mulvihill of The Huffington Post, "Scalia said he is not equating sodomy with murder but drawing a parallel between the bans on both." Despite the attempt to disguise his intolerance as philosophical pondering, Scalia is drawing connections between consensual homosexuality and non-consensual attacks against other persons.

The "slippery slope" argument being used by Scalia to defend his obstinate and degrading views on homosexuals is without reasonable justification. There are distinct motivations to be opposed to murder, which is harmful and against the will of everyone who suffers it.

Homosexuality, as Christopher Hitchens noted in an interview with the New York Times, "Homosexuality is a form of love and not just sex." Homosexuality, as Hitchens points out, is not simply an act, but a form of affection, and should be easily distinguishable from the malice demonstrated by murderers, especially to a Supreme Court justice.

Homosexuality is not a caustic injustice that threatens the foundations of society, as bigots would suggest when comparing it to moral evils like murder. Homosexuality is only one aspect of many people's identity, and few of them present the danger many homophobes fear and can't seem to stop thinking about.

Monday, December 3, 2012

An Optimistic Year for Women's Sports in America

by Gregory Allen

Despite losing the WPS, an elite league for women's soccer, one of the few professional sports leagues for women in the United States, the year has been filled with bright spots and landmark events for female athletes.

The 2012 London Summer Olympics had female athletes compete in every event for the first time in its history. The United States also sent more female athletes than male to the competition for the first time.

Rhonda Rousey, the first American woman to win a medal in Olympic Judo, became the first female fighter to sign with the UFC.

ESPN writer Josh Gross explains, "The UFC had long balked at the prospect of adding women into its fold because of the perception that there wasn't enough depth to create meaningful weight classes. Rousey's rising stardom had a significant impact on the way White viewed the potential for female fighters in the UFC."

Skier Lindsey Vonn is attempting to enter a men's skiing event in Canada to find stronger competition to develop her skills against. Vonn told the associated press, "I am just trying to push myself and push my skiing forward to where the men are."

Vonn isn't the only female athlete challenging men in traditionally male-dominated sports, internet sensation Samantha Gordon has also gained significant attention for her phenomenal football athletics and has drawn many to consider the future women have in the contact sport.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Republicans Lose 2012 War on Women

by Gregory Allen

Republicans spent 2012 trying endlessly to defund Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides health services like cancer screenings to women in need. The GOP’s efforts were also focused on finding ways to evade laws which prevented employers from denying insurance coverage for birth control based on a belief that women’s reproductive rights are choice only men could possibly understand.

In 2011 and early 2012, the Republican primary debates appeared across the country the country as a traveling circus of candidates featuring a homophobe (Rick Santorum) who believes states have the right to outlaw birth control, an ironic misogynist (Michelle Bachmann) and cowboy (Rick Perry) who hope to ban abortions in all circumstances including rape and incest.

Surprisingly, Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate who failed to remove himself from this train wreck of sexism, homophobia, and intolerance toward minorities, lost the presidential election and the vote among these mentioned interests which proved well sufficient to send Barack Obama to a second term.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Upcoming Miss Representation Screenings and Events

by Gregory Allen

On November 13th at 5:00 PM in the Woodland Commons, the Center for Women, Gender and Sexuality will be hosting a screening of Miss Representation, a 90 minute documentary about how women are presented in the media to mainstream culture and how this affects women’s role in society.

According to www.missrepresentation.org, the official website of the documentary, “While women have made great strides in leadership over the past few decades, the United States is still 90th in the world for women in national legislatures, women hold only 3% of clout positions in mainstream media, and 65% of women and girls have disordered eating behaviors.”

As of 2012, Women hold only 16.8% of the seats in the American Congress, and only 23% of positions in State Legislatures, according to the Center for American Women and Politics, Eagleton Institute of Politics, at Rutgers University.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

LGBT Civil and Spiritual Rights to Marriage

By Gregory Allen

The popular opinion on marriage equality is shifting and becoming more tolerant, with the Supreme Court expected to weigh in on the issue and more potential states looking toward legally recognizing same-sex marriages. Opponents, however, still provide obstacles for those wishing to practice a cultural tradition in their private and public life.

The most vocal opposition to marriage equality recently has been from organizations citing religious faith and practice as their motivation for denying the rights of others. Brian S. Brown, the president of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) has appeared on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC.

Despite many public media appearances, the group does not represent every member of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, or any other organized religion; nor does NOM speak for a majority of the American population, religious or secular.

However, their justification for why marriage should be limited from certain parties and available to others is drawn from religious tradition and supported by passages in religious texts.

It is important to note this, because religious justification and defenses of marriage directly imply the LGBT community is not experiencing religion correctly, or by sharing a same-sex lifestyle, incapable of practicing certain religions genuinely.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Common myths and misunderstandings about contraception

By Gregory Allen

An undercover study, “Pharmacy Communication to Adolescents and Their Physicians Regarding Access to Emergency Contraception”, published by the journal Pediatrics found that 19% of American pharmacies are illegally preventing young women from obtaining the morning-after pill. The pill is legally available without a prescription to women 17 and older.

The study, conducted by Dr. Tracey Wilkinson and other doctors from Boston University, found that women received incorrect information from 19% of pharmacies and were denied access to Plan B. Doctors seeking permission for their patients, however, were given the correct information from the same pharmacies 97% of the time.

When false information is intentionally spread regarding contraception, it’s done so to deter people from using legal contraception some parties feel should be outlawed or made unavailable because of private personal beliefs. Obstacles like misinformation and denying access are designed to make the time-sensitive medication irrelevant.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Representation and the Importance of Voting

By Gregory Allen

Elections in the United States, such as the presidential election in November, are designed to appoint representatives that will reflect the opinion held by those who voted; essentially legislating and acting on behalf of the majority or prevailing perspective.

However, when candidates win a popular election (or via Electoral College) having been selected by the minority perspective, the design of fair representation is undermined. Unfortunately, the loudest voice that might appear in voting ballots this November may not represent the majority or be seeking steps toward tolerance when they cast their vote.

Stephen Colbert shared a survey on his Comedy Central television show The Colbert Report that identified the growing progression of tolerant and secular beliefs among young voters. The survey found that 63% of millennials (persons born 1981 or later), also known as Generation Y, favored same-sex marriage.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Freedom of favorable speech

by Gregory Allen

NFL linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo received caustic criticism recently for his support of marriage equality. Maryland pastor and state house of delegates-member Emmett C. Burns Jr. (D-Baltimore County) wrote the following of Ayanbadejo's exercise of free speech, "'I find it inconceivable that one of your players, Mr. Brendon Ayanbadejo would publicly endorse Same-Sex marriage, specifically as a Raven Football player.'"

The letter was obtained by WBAL-TV and referenced by Dan Wetzel in his Yahoo! article "Maryland politician out of line for attacking Brendon Ayanbadejo's support of gay marriage." Wetzel cites that Burns attempted to force the Baltimore football franchise into silencing its player and depriving him of his First Amendment rights, writing, "Burns went nuts last week, firing off a letter on Maryland House of Delegate letterhead to Ravens owner Steven Bisciotti seeking action against Ayanbadejo."

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Has controversial television gone extinct?

by Gregory Allen

The Dick Van Dyke Show first aired on television October 3, 1961. Immediately, the show began challenging cultural traditions, most noticeably gender roles. Rob Petrie (Dick Van Dyke) frequently happened upon satirical situations involving his strong-willed wife Laura (Mary Tyler Moore), and the show found a chance to provide genuine criticism on American culture in Rob’s unorthodox reactions.

One of the show’s most blatant criticisms can be found in “The Bad Old Days” (1.29). Rob is confronted by a friend with an article claiming the American male is in decline, corralled to impotence by dominant women. Rob is rendered insecure and refuses to participate in domestic responsibilities, avoiding chores commonly assigned to women, despite normally aiding in these tasks without conflict.

Rob convinces himself he desires the “good old days”; a time when women were docile, unquestioning, adopting opinions and orders from their husbands. During his sleep, Rob is visited with a dream that reminds him of the reality of demoting one gender to the role of servant and the tyrannous role played by the counterparts imposing this unequal condition. Rob wakes, realizing his dream was a nightmare.

Monday, July 23, 2012

After Penn State, what next for America?

by Gregory Allen

Penn State's sex abuse scandal takes a step toward concluding and disappearing from the media spotlight with the NCAA's decision to levy substantial penalties against the university. According to the Associated Press and The Huffington Post, the punishment includes a $60 million dollar fine (representing one year of football revenues), and that "These funds will go to child sex abuse awareness programs."

The punishment also includes "a postseason ban, and loss of scholarships and previous wins" as well as placing Penn State on a five-year probationary period "with the NCAA reserving the right to implement further punishments." The sex scandal and the punishment has garnered Penn State significant media coverage, not unlikely connected to the case's proximity with the popular football program.

Penn State can now begin taking steps forward to correcting problems of sexual abuse on campus, but what steps will other American universities take going forward? Penn State University is not the only American campus dealing with significant sexual abuse, as Crisis Connection reports a rape is committed on an American college campus every 21 hours.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Boy Scouts of America earns merit badge for intolerance

by Gregory Allen

After two years of (hopefully) considerate and serious thinking, the Boy Scouts of America have decided to preserve intolerant policies that discriminate against children and LGBT Americans.

The Boy Scouts of America claims, "The committee included a diversity of perspectives and opinions." The statement contains further statements which contradict the actual policies historically held and currently in place.

The decision and its explanation, as provided by the Scouts website, evades the use of language that would accurately describe the behavior and ideology they are preaching; behavior that is unacceptable in civilized communities.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Victim Blaming pairs well with Celebrity Pardoning (UPDATED)

by Gregory Allen

Several blatant and public statements have been made in the fashion of victim-blaming in regards to victims of sexual assault. One case, regarding recent Stanley Cup winning defenseman Drew Doughty, has drawn attention, as well as Comedy Central's Daniel Tosh's remarks on rape. Both cases also bring attention to the deliberate attempt to pardon members of popular culture who have considerable celebrity.

Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty is under investigation for an accused sexual assault. The woman accusing Doughty or rape filed her claim on March 1, 2012 (the same day of supposed incident). Supporters and fans of Doughty have spoken publicly on MSNBC's website and through other sources claiming the accusation was made to garner attention as Doughty recently won the league's championship. The Kings, however did not win the Stanley Cup until June 11, 2012.

The response is a definitive style of victim-blaming, and makes little sense logically or sympathetically. The opponents of Doughty's accuser have made comments on discussion posts and through online sources, many times accompanied by similar supporters. Their identity remains anonymous, and presents the "pack-mentality" that often enables victim-blaming. Face-to-face with a victim, and without peer support, the claims likely remain unspoken.

Monday, July 2, 2012

If you disagree with a law...go around it! (UPDATED)

by Gregory Allen

A new state law in Mississippi has created more obstacles for women seeking constitutionally promised health rights. Women seeking abortions may now be forced to drive to another state to obtain the health procedure, or as opponents desire, deliver the unwanted pregnancy for lack of medical access.

Not surprisingly, according to NYDailyNews.com, Mississipi has the highest teen birth rates. Amanda Peterson Beadle explains for Thinkprogress.org, that Mississippi does not require sex-education in school, "Mississippi does not require sex education in schools, but when it is taught, abstinence-only education is the state standard."

Mississippi may not have an objective or well-informed perspective on sex-education or reproductive rights, but this does not give its citizens claim to deny the rights of others, simply because they disagree with the premise or procedure. As a means of circumnavigating Roe V. Wade, conservative states are seeking obstacles to make access to abortion more difficult for women.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Snickers may satisfy, their marketing does not

By Gregory Allen

Just thinking...

If your ads frequently feature aggressive and hostile men only sedated back to sanity by chocolate bars maybe depicting a man wearing boxing gloves in the bedroom alongside the slogan "You're Not You When You're Hungry" paired with a half naked woman with her back turned isn't in good taste.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Reminder from the LGBT Community: Sharing

By Gregory Allen

In recent weeks, efforts have been stagnant passing legislation to recognize gay marriage, prevent bullying of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) students in schools and on college campuses, while derogatory slurs and statements have been used by media figures to slander their opponents, rather than focus on issues that affect more than themselves.

A minority of the American public seems devoutly opposed to sharing equality with those who have different sexual orientations and identities, while the majority of Americans have grown silent and indifferent.

Despite being denied rights that others enjoy free for unfounded and oddly superstitious beliefs; the LGBT community has not deprived society of their talents, and have shared many unique and exceptional accomplishments with the world, proving they are an integral part of society, even if they are not always recognized as such.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Disrespecting Women will not Encourage People to Respect Animals

By Gregory Allen

In this, one of PETA's latest ads, they have chosen to exploit the topic of sexual violence and and abusive relationships to draw attention to an unrelated cause.

Adding humor and sexual appeal to violence shouldn't appeal to men (or women), and the people it does appeal to don't care about the rights of other humans, and therefore likely don't care about animals rights either.

Disrespecting women will not encourage people to respect animals. Its hypocritical and insensitive. Find a better way to make people care about the rights of others, including animals. And do it without creating more victims.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Do Religious Freedoms Include Right to Persecute?

By Gregory Allen

No. They don’t.

A debate has erupted between the Obama Administration and religious organizations, mostly Catholics. One group is trying to provide contraception to women and preserve their health rights; the other is trying to take them away.

Catholics and others are enraged over a new law which would require employer health insurance plans to cover birth control without copay. This will provide millions of women with access to birth control and the means to protect their health and control their own reproductive functions.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Gay Marriage Debate Moves Closer to Supreme Court

By Gregory Allen

The U.N. Declaration of human rights, states, in article 16:

 (1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
(2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

It is disappointing to note that the United States still discriminates on the basis of religious claims, so long as religious groups are the persecutors, and not those being oppressed.

But a ruling made this week in California could move the nationwide debate of marriage equality closer to the Supreme Court, and a ruling that might favorably affect the lives of many Americans currently denied basic human rights.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Everyone is Pro Life, see for Yourself

By Gregory Allen

One of the most controversial topics of debate in the United States is abortion. There appear to be two clear sides to this argument, Pro Choice and Pro Life. But this is a myth, and a relatively easy misunderstanding to make. As it turns out, everyone is Pro Life. Just observe Pro Life supporters.