Tag Archives: rights

Fear and Loathing in Washington D.C.

Washington DC Capitol - HDR

“President Obama will negotiate with the Syrian butcher Assad and erase his red line, will capitulate to Vladimir Putin, and he will negotiate with the happy face of the killer regime in Iran, President Rouhani, but not with Republicans over issues all presidents have always negotiated over.”

That quote – from American conservative radio host/shame-free liar and propagandist Hugh Hewitt – encapsulates how far the U.S. has to go to overcome the most embarrassing and pathetic government shutdown in the history of the country. Not every conservative in the United States is as crazy or deluded as Hewitt, but enough are to where an angry, xenophobic, racially charged minority, belonging to one faction in one house of government, has been able to manufacture a government shutdown threatening to destroy the US and global economy unless the party opposite capitulates to their bidding.

The truth is, no American president has ever “negotiated” repealing a duly enacted law [the Affordable Care Act] whilst being blackmailed with the destruction of his government, or indeed with the destruction of the global economy. But this line of baseless rhetoric has become the new mantra of the Republican Party and their apologists: repeat the lie until enough Americans have been coerced that they [Republicans] are not singularly to blame for the disastrous impasses the country continuously finds itself in (e.g. sequestration, shutdown, debt ceiling, etc.). This isn’t just a minority problem – it’s a party problem. The American Tea Party may be [entirely] comprised of callous fools and disgraceful opportunists, but we’re mostly here because “moderate” Republicans have consistently folded to these vandals rather than stand up to them.

It’s important not to forget that Republicans manufactured the U.S. government shutdown for one reason and one reason only: to stop poorer Americans from getting health insurance funded by cuts to Medicare and the taxing of the richest Americans. Let’s also keep in mind that Congress itself passed the healthcare law in 2010; the Supreme Court then affirmed its constitutionality through its landmark ruling earlier this year; and the majority of Americans want it – as proven when they re-elected the President who signed it.

In a few weeks (or sooner), the shutdown/default crisis will long be over and maybe even forgotten. The federal deficit will in all likelihood continue to fall, and growth will probably resume. But the long-term inadequacies of the U.S. political system will continue to be exploited by the Republican Party, creating a sort of dystopic future for American politics. The American people put pretty much all of the blame of the shutdown/default crisis on the shoulders of Republicans, but conservatives can still expect to hold enough seats in the House come the 2014 midterm elections (mainly because of the way district lines are drawn. Republicans were lucky enough to have had a huge win at the state level in 2010, which coincided with post-census redistricting or gerrymandering). Democrats may very well win the White House again in 2016 with Hillary Clinton or Papa Joey B, but the Congress will probably remain the same, meaning we’ll see more shutdowns/threats of defaults before it’s all said and done.

I’ve been able to gauge the puzzled, incredulous looks of my international friends at the LSE – many of whom come from democratic countries – when they hear that an extremist minority party caused the “most powerful” democracy in the world to close up shop. I tell them that American politics, as constructed by James Madison (“father” of the Constitution), was designed with stagnation, derision, and polarization in mind. But the country’s founders couldn’t foresee something as inane as the Tea Party (and warned against political party’s altogether); they couldn’t possibly expect the damning practice of gerrymandering districts or the influence of special interest groups both in elections and public policy.

Mostly, I’ve had to tell my foreign friends that what they’re currently seeing and reading about is not at all what American politics was meant to be. But they better start getting used to it, because it’s here to stay.

Photo: Nicolas Raymond

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Niccolo Machiavelli: “As Much Of A Heretic Today As He Ever Was”

Niccolò Machiavelli

John Gray muses on the importance and relevancy of Machiavelli’s political thought today, and argues that any misreading of him comes from the fact that the Florentine philosopher is “as much as heretic today as he ever was”:

If Bobbitt misreads Machiavelli, it is because Machiavelli is as much of a heretic today as he ever was. Resistance to his thought comes now not from Christian divines but from liberal thinkers. According to the prevailing philosophy of liberal legalism, political conflict can be averted by a well-designed constitution and freedoms enshrined in a regime of rights. In reality, as Machiavelli well knew, constitutions and legal systems come and go. According to Bobbitt, “The lesson of Machiavelli’s advice to statesmen is: don’t kid yourself. What annoyed . . . Machiavelli was the willingness of his contemporaries to pretend that quite simple formulations were adequate to the task of governing in the common interest.” Plainly, the market state is a formula of precisely this kind.

The true lesson of Machiavelli is that the alternative to politics is not law but unending war. When they topple tyrants for the sake of faddish visions of rights, western governments enmesh themselves in intractable conflicts they do not understand and cannot hope to control. Yet if Machiavelli could return from the grave, he would hardly be annoyed or frustrated by such folly. Ever aware of the incurable human habit of mistaking fancy for reality, he would simply respond with a Florentine smile.

Quick note here: I study this stuff — or will do this fall — in grad school, and from the start I think Machiavelli has been my favorite political philosopher. Not necessarily for his message, though I think he’s been more right than most give him credit for. The reason I enjoy reading and re-reading The Prince and his many other works including the Discourses is because he’s a particularly easy read. There’s something to be said for simplicity in writing, and i’ve always been turned away by theorists who complicate theirs for impact — or perhaps it’s more that they cannot simplify (see Foucault).

(Photo: flickr user Joshua Schnable)

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Some Russian Perspective for the American LGBT Community

Putin on the parade

It’s fair to say we’ve made some huge strides in this country in how we view and treat the LGBT community, and while there’s still work to be done, it’s been getting better every day. The same can’t be said for Russia. According to Human Rights, it’s now considered illegal — through a draconian “anti-gay propaganda” law — to include public displays of affection between LGBT people (holding hands counts) as well as displaying rainbow flags and even tweeting positive messages about LGBT people. In response, activists — spurned on by sex columnist and author Dan Savage — have ratcheted up their efforts to combat Russia’s stance on intolerance by launching counter-campaigns against brands like Stolichnaya Vodka, which controls a 2.6% share of the U.S. vodka market. 20130731-073801.jpg

Now the Russian lawmaker — Vitaly Milonov (btw, he looks totally gay) — responsible for the law in the first place has issued a statement saying that Olympic athletes and tourists will be subject to the penalties of the law, come the Sochi Winter Olympic Games in 2014:

Speaking to Interfax and as translated by GSN, Milonov said: ‘I have not heard any comments from the government of the Russian Federation but I know it is acting in accordance with Russian law.

‘If a law has been approved by the federal legislature and signed by the president, then the government has no right to suspend it. It doesn’t have the authority.’

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) released its own statement, saying it looked into the matter and received total assurance from the Russian government that 2014 Winter Olympics athletes and tourists will not be subject to arrest under Putin’s anti-gay law. “As a sporting organization, what we can do is to continue to work to ensure that the Games can take place without discrimination against athletes, officials, spectators and the media.”

So gays will just have to trust that Russia told the IOC the truth. No big deal.

(photo by Stuart Grout)

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The Proliferation of Human Rights and Its Consequences

... Human Rights

Jacob Mchangama and Guglielmo Verdirame — cofounders of The Freedom Rights Project — argue that the “gross inflation” of human rights treaties adopted by international organizations over the last several decades, obscures people’s understanding of those rights, thus making it difficult for rights to be realized, or demanded:

The expanded and diluted notion of human rights allows illiberal states to change the focus from core freedoms to vague and conceptually unclear rights that place no concrete obligations on states. Enabled by such rhetoric, no human rights violation can stand scrutiny on its own merits. Instead, human rights violations are relativized — intellectually dismembered and discarded when it is politically expedient. In this world, cuts in development aid can be labeled human rights violations just like torture in North Korea. Crucially, this unprincipled politics of human rights helps authoritarian states deflect criticism. In 2007, Cuba, which has one of the worst human rights records in the Western Hemisphere, succeeded in persuading a majority of HRC members to axe the specific mandate for monitoring its own human rights record. The praise authoritarian states shower on one another for supposedly upholding new, vague and abstract rights are therefore not just empty rhetoric but can produce real political gains.

Unfortunately, much of the human rights community has not only shied away from expressing qualms about rights proliferation, it has often led the process. But this approach has not helped advance the core freedoms that make the difference between liberal and non-liberal states: According to Freedom House, global respect for basic civil and political rights is in decline for the seventh consecutive year. Of course, it is exactly those basic rights that non-free states want to neuter. When everything can be defined as a human right, the premium on violating such rights is cheap. To raise the stock and ensure the effectiveness of human rights, their defenders need to acknowledge that less is often more.

Maybe anything and everything can be defined as a human right because we’ve never had a competent definition, or understanding, of what constitutes a “right”. Alasdair MacIntyre – who argued that the foundation of the international morality paradigm is paradoxically foundationless — illustrates this in After Virtue:

“the concept [rights] lacks any means of expression in Hebrew, Greek, Latin or Arabic, classical or medieval, before 1400, let alone in Old English, or in Japanese even as late as the mid-nineteenth century.”

What constitutes “a right” is something that has lacked consensus throughout history. We cannot realistically construct a foundation of international morality and justice based on the concept of rights, since we have little to no understanding as to what rights are, or whether or not they exist. We’ve been unable, as a species, to advance the concept of rights for most of human history, which would suggest then that we are misguided in thinking — as we currently do — that rights are something self-evident. It would also suggest that international institutions tasked with protecting vague interpretations of rights were doomed from the start.

(Photo by flickr user Jeremy Schutlz)

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U.S. Spy Network Will Survive Any Public Outrage, Both Global & Domestic

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Perry and Dodds report what I think anyone with more than an elementary understanding of international affairs already knew: the United States spying apparatus is huge, necessary, widely relied on by our allies, and thus, not going anywhere.

Britain needed U.S. intelligence to help thwart a major terror attack. New Zealand relied on it to send troops to Afghanistan. And Australia used it to help convict a would-be bomber.

All feats were the result of a spying alliance known as Five Eyes that groups together five English-speaking democracies, and they point to a vital lesson: American information is so valuable, experts say, that no amount of global outrage over secret U.S. surveillance powers would cause Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand to ditch the Five Eyes relationship.

The broader message is that the revelations from NSA leaker Edward Snowden are unlikely to stop or even slow the global growth of secret-hunting – an increasingly critical factor in the security and prosperity of nations.

“Information is like gold,” Bruce Ferguson, the former head of New Zealand’s foreign spy agency, the Government Communications Security Bureau, told The Associated Press. “If you don’t have it, you don’t survive.”

We wouldn’t be having the much-needed debate on domestic surveillance programs without the revelations of Snowden through the Guardian and WaPo, but I’ve still yet to hear one cogent argument about why it’s a good thing to reveal to foreign states that the U.S. carries out intelligence operations against them. What I keep hearing is that privacy is a global right (it isn’t), and that people in these states have a right to know (Why?).

Still waiting.

(photo by frederic.jacobs)

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Iowa’s All-Male Supreme Court Says It’s OK To Fire A Woman If You Really Want To Sleep With Her

The Flirts

Good news to all you male chauvinists out there: if you really really really want to have sex with your employee, but you don’t want to risk your marriage, the Iowa Supreme Court just ruled that you can totally fire her:

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A dentist acted legally when he fired a longtime assistant because he had grown too attracted to her and worried he would try to start an affair, the Iowa Supreme Court reaffirmed Friday in its second crack at the controversial case.

Coming to the same outcome as it did in December, but clarifying its rationale, the court found that bosses can fire employees that they and their spouses see as threats to their marriages. The court said such firings do not count as sex discrimination because they are motivated by feelings, not gender.

The all-male court argued that if Melissa Nelson was fired due to “gender-specific characteristics”, then it would have been a violation of her civil rights to let her go. But because her firing had to do with her attractiveness, and her boss’s feelings toward her, then getting rid of her was totally acceptable.

So, looks like we still have some work to do with this whole equality thing. Thanks Iowa.

(photo by Cliff)

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Edward Snowden And The Difference Between Prosecution And Persecution

edward snowden wall mural

In an email to Tatiana Lokshina, deputy head of the Russian office of Human Rights Watch, Edward Snowden thanked the bravery of states like Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia for offering him support against the United States and its allies, and invited Lokshina, as well as other prominent human rights leaders and political figures, to join him for a meeting at Sheremetyevo Airport held just moments ago.

But in the email, Snowden repeated a claim that he’s made before — one that I’ve had a problem with from the beginning:

Unfortunately, in recent weeks we have witnessed an unlawful campaign by officials in the U.S. Government to deny my right to seek and enjoy this asylum under Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The scale of threatening behavior is without precedent: never before in history have states conspired to force to the ground a sovereign President’s plane to effect a search for a political refugee. This dangerous escalation represents a threat not just to the dignity of Latin America or my own personal security, but to the basic right shared by every living person to live free from persecution.

While article 14 does indeed afford individuals the right to seek asylum in foreign states, it does not say that the state from which you are seeking asylum away from cannot still seek to prosecute you for crimes committed. And that’s the real difference here: prosecution versus persecution.

Edward Snowden is not being persecuted by the United States, he’s being prosecuted. The difference may seem minor, but it’s important. Persecution entails unfair and/or oppressive treatment based on the religious and/or political beliefs or race of a person or group. Prosecution is the conducting of legal and criminal proceedings against a person for crimes committed.

Now, Snowden may argue that he’s being persecuted for his political beliefs, therefore the label makes sense, but the fact is that he isn’t. He’s being prosecuted for his political/criminal actions — we can debate whether or not those actions were justified, or good, or damaging, but they were still illegal. If Snowden never leaked top-secret documents to newspapers, and instead expressed his alternative political beliefs, and was still being chased down by the U.S. because of them, then it would indeed be persecution.

But that hasn’t happened, and the United States has acted within the purview of the law throughout this asylum ordeal. Granted, it was stupid as all heck to ground the plane of the Bolivian president on a whim, but besides that, there has been no persecution to speak of whatsoever.

But I am glad to see Snowden finally invoke the UDHR as the basis for his understanding of rights and responsibility. It makes sense, considering many of his leaks have transcended American domestic surveillance concerns and have had to do with U.S. foreign intelligence operations against other states. Unfortunately for Snowden, and for anyone else who invokes the Declaration of Human Rights, there has never been a more anemic, baseless and unenforced document in the history of the world.

If you don’t believe me, go ask a Rwandan.

(photo by flickr user squirrel83)

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Shameless Quote Of The Day: Here’s To You, Bubba

Barack Obama looks *really* pleased to see Bill Clinton at the Whitehouse

“By overturning the Defense of Marriage Act, the Court recognized that discrimination towards any group holds us all back in our efforts to form a more perfect union. We are also encouraged that marriage equality may soon return to California. We applaud the hard work of the advocates who have fought so relentlessly for this day, and congratulate Edie Windsor on her historic victory.”

Bill Clinton

— who incidentally signed the Defense of Marriage Act into law, rallied support for it by arguing for its constitutionality, launched an ad campaign in the Southern States taking credit for passing DOMA, and throughout his tenure, caused undue harm to countless lesbian and gay Americans.

(Photo by Duncan Hull)

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Your Daily Quote

Moon over Camp Taji, Iraq

Frankly, I’m a bit amazed that the NSA and FBI have their shit together enough to be consistently doing what they should be doing with the vast big-data stream of electronic communication. For us, now — years into this war-footing and this legal dynamic — to loudly proclaim our indignation at the maintenance of an essential and comprehensive investigative database while at the same time insisting on a proactive response to the inevitable attempts at terrorism is as childish as it is obtuse. We want cake, we want to eat it, and we want to stay skinny and never puke up a thing. Of course we do.

David Simon, on the ridiculous wave of self-righteous indignation.

(Photo by the US Army)

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Particularism As The Best Philosophy?

Woodcut title-page border of Simon de Colines

Simon Willis argues that it is:

“There is, in philosophy,” the American philosopher Stanley Cavell has said, “a certain drive to the inhuman, to an inhuman idea of intellectuality.” I’m looking for a philosophy which brings us back to earth.

That philosophy is particularism, a fancy word for a simple idea: that in our ethical lives, rules are useless. Instead we should pay attention to real people in real situations. You can find arguments for it in thinkers as diverse as Aristotle in the fourth century BC and Ludwig Wittgenstein nearly 2,500 years later. Aristotle thought of ethical judgment as a matter of discernment and fine distinctions, literally seeing a situation in all its complexity. Wittgenstein wrote of rules in his “Philosophical Investigations” that “only experienced people can apply them aright”. You can be up to your neck in rules, but they don’t in themselves tell you how to apportion blame, or to whom, or how much. For that, you need to look at what’s in front of you. If you don’t, you’re driving in the dark without headlights.

Placing practice above principle puts the burden of judgment back on us, and leaves us vulnerable to life’s obscurities and self-deceptions, to the tangle of our duties and commitments. We might aspire to clarity, but we could easily be blind. That said, it’s an idea which represents the difficulty of doing the right thing, and why would we want less than that?

That sounds a lot like Virtue Ethics, but without the complexity (some would say nuance). Perhaps particularism is as close as we can get to virtue ethics, but both certainly contend similar things: modern moral philosophy lacks coherence and should be jettisoned if at all possible.

(Photo by kladcat)

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New Report Finds That The NSA Has Your Emails

Email with Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook

Greenwald and MacAskill drop the second, more important bomb:

The National Security Agency has obtained direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants, according to a top secret document obtained by the Guardian.

The NSA access is part of a previously undisclosed program called PRISM, which allows officials to collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats, the document says.

The Guardian has verified the authenticity of the document, a 41-slide PowerPoint presentation – classified as top secret with no distribution to foreign allies – which was apparently used to train intelligence operatives on the capabilities of the program. The document claims “collection directly from the servers” of major US service providers.

The Program as a whole gives so much indiscriminate authority to the agency that it’s hard to believe this document is real:

Congress obliged with the Protect America Act in 2007 and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which immunized private companies that cooperated voluntarily with U.S. intelligence collection. PRISM recruited its first partner, Microsoft, and began six years of rapidly growing data collection beneath the surface of a roiling national debate on surveillance and privacy. Late last year, when critics in Congress sought changes in the FISA Amendments Act, the only lawmakers who knew about PRISM were bound by oaths of office to hold their tongues.

We still don’t know much about the program or the total reach of the American security apparatus, but what we do know is that the PRISM report shows a surveillance program that is massive and seemingly unaccountable and controls everything from phone records to personal emails. It’s also hard to stomach that the officials in charge of this have had their powers granted in special courts that are legally allowed to withhold their decisions and legal justifications – hence accountability.

Here’s what we don’t know and why I feel I’m in a smaller and smaller minority going forward: we don’t know how the NSA analyzes the data they get, or what information they’ve been able to glean from this data mining. We have no idea – nor should we, I would argue – what terrorist attacks were abated because this security apparatus exists, if any. We don’t even know the extent of congressional involvement, but it seems that despite a few members of the GOP decrying Obama for this, they’ve known for years.

But still, It’s foolish to conclude with anything else but saying that President Obama has not only stuck with the Bush era national security apparatus, but advanced it. James Baker writes in the New York Times that, “Rather than dismantling Mr. Bush’s approach to national security, Mr. Obama has to some extent validated it and put it on a more sustainable footing.”

And why are we getting all this information in the first place? Well, turns out a government whistleblower had a crisis of faith:

Firsthand experience with these systems, and horror at their capabilities, is what drove a career intelligence officer to provide PowerPoint slides about PRISM and supporting materials to The Washington Post in order to expose what he believes to be a gross intrusion on privacy. “They quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type,” the officer said.

The Director of National Intelligence, James R. Clapper, released this statement in defense of the actions of the government along with some real-talk about what leaking like this does to the security of the country:

Information collected under this program is among the most important and valuable foreign intelligence information we collect, and is used to protect our nation from a wide variety of threats. The unauthorized disclosure of information about this important and entirely legal program is reprehensible and risks important protections for the security of Americans.

I’m sure we’ll learn more information as the days roll along, but I don’t know how much of a good thing that is.

Previous thoughts on this issue can be read here, and here.

(Photo by flickr user Robert Scoble)

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Gillibrand and McCaskill Lay Into Military Brass at Sexual Assault Hearing

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(Photo courtesy of Howard Mortman)

The Senate Armed Services Committee listened to the testimony of the Joint Chiefs of Staff today, on the subject of military sexual assault. If you noticed by looking at the picture above, it was a total sausage fest (11 men, 1 woman), but that aside, the big development out of the hearing was the expected opposition by the military brass for allegations of sexual assault to be taken out of the purview of the military chain of command, something Senator Gillibrand has initiated in legislation and something other armed forces – in countries like Germany and Israel – already do. The problem that the military brass refuses to believe is out of their control is that when allegations of sexual assault are left to the military to solve, most cases go unreported, and the ones that are reported are usually given little to no attention:

A Pentagon report in May showed the estimated number of victims of sexual assault last year jumped to 26,000, up from 19,000 in 2010. Of those, just 3,374 cases were reported, indicating that many victims stay silent out of fear that they could face retribution or indifference if they speak up.

Those statistics have also been punctuated by a string of scandals involving military leaders – including some whose job descriptions include sexual assault prevention – being charged with crimes against women.

Still, the brass argued all day that undermining military commanders’ authority would diminish their stature with the ranks, and jeopardize the entire military operation. That opened the door for Senator Gillibrand to totally eviscerate past military dealings regarding sexual assault:

“Not all commanders are objective. Not every single commander necessarily wants women on the force, not every commander believes what a sexual assault is, not every single commander can distinguish between a slap on the ass and a rape because they merge all of these crimes together. You have lost the trust of the men and women who rely on you, that you will actually bring justice in these cases. They are afraid to report. They think their careers will be over.”

Senator Claire McCaskill educates the predominantly male military brass on the difference between an innaporiate work environment and, say, rape:

“This isn’t about sex. This is about assaultive domination and violence. And as long as those two get mushed together, you all are not going to be as successful as you need to be at getting after the most insidious part of this, which is the predators in your ranks that are sullying the great name of our American military.”

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Is Marijuana the New Civil Rights Issue?

Bill Maher compares marijuana legalization to gay rights, and argues that the former is new civil rights issue of our time.

Having passed Marijuana legalization, both Colorado and Washington are figuring out competent ways to regulate the pot market, respectively. Colorado has already adopted a comprehensive regulatory system:

Colorado House of Representatives Assistant Majority Leader Dan Pabon said the legislation reflected the “will of the voters” who charged lawmakers with setting up the regulatory system after approving legalization in a vote last November.

One of the bills signed by Hickenlooper calls for a referendum in November on setting a 15 percent excise tax and an additional 10 percent sales tax on marijuana sales.

Other measures included in the legislative package are setting blood limits for driving while under the influence of marijuana at 5 nanograms per milliter, and limiting purchases of marijuana to non-Colorado residents at one-quarter of an ounce.

“The laws … signed today put the health and safety of our kids front and center,” said Pabon, a Democrat. “They drive a stake into the heart of a large black market while creating a regulated, legitimate industry.”

Washington state is working to figure it out:

Licenses will be handed out in three main categories—producer, processor and retailer—for a fee of $1,000. High, say some. Retail outlets will be limited and marijuana may only be grown in secure, indoor facilities. Background checks for the licenses, including fingerprinting, will aim to weed out unsavoury types. Residency and record-keeping requirements are designed to keep the pot business in-state.

Some of the draft rules seem draconian, but it is important that Washington get this right. Congress is closely watching state experiments with pot legalisation, the success of which would blunt criticism from moralistic lawmakers.

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Exposing reparative therapy on transgendered youths

Belarus - Children in CampChildren in camp (cc photo by jenspie3)

Beth Schwartzapfel provides an elucidating look into the practice of reparative therapy for transgendered children, taking aim at Dr. Kenneth Zucker, prominent Toronto based gender-identity psychologist:

“Head of the child and adolescent gender-identity clinic at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Zucker is one of North America’s most widely published experts in the field of transgender and gender-variant. Since it was established in the mid-1970s, his clinic has assessed more than 600 kids with gender-variant behavior and gender dysphoria—the distress that results from feeling that one’s body does not match one’s sense of self. He has treated more than 100 of those children. […]

Zucker … believes that girls who say they are boys are not expressing their true identity. Rather, they are confused. Their mismatched gender identity is likely the result of a childhood experience or trauma, or a manifestation of some underlying psychiatric or family problem. The situation will only be made worse, he argues, if parents and teachers encourage it. Zucker’s aim, if a family comes in with a kid like Maggie, is to make her more comfortable in her own body: to make her understand that she is a girl.”

The little to nothing I still know about being transgendered aside, I didn’t really need to read on to realize the blatant link between what Zucker does and what gay-conversion clinics and camps do in the United States and elsewhere.

Schwartzapfel goes on to cite the critique of – among others – Dr. Herb Schrier, a San Fransisco based psychologist who has worked with young transgendered children:

“The therapy session starts with an incredible assumption: that these kids have a problem. ‘We’re trying to figure out what problem you’re dealing with that gives you this particular way of being.’ It’s not a neutral therapy if it starts with that premise,” Schreier says. “Any therapy that starts with that assumption is bound to be problematic. In essence, he’s asking parents to deny who the kids say they are.”

Schreier characterizes Zucker’s approach as, “I think we should change them, and this would be for their betterment.” To Schreier and his colleagues, this sounds ominously paternalistic. “We would strongly raise the point: Isn’t there a downside to be had by denying a child’s identity?”

Read Schwartzapfel’s article in full here.

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The Weekly Roundup

24 | May | 2013

The Unblinking EyeThe Unblinking Eye: Taken at the October 24th, 2012 campaign event of Governor Mitt Romney at Reno, Nevada (cc photo by Darron Bergenheier)

Friday on Left and Center, Publius shared some background to the new Wikileaks documentary, discussed how California gave Obamacare some really, really good news, argued that the Republican Party can no longer honestly call itself a party of conservatism, mitigated a debate between Andrew Sullivan and Glenn Greenwald on whether or not the London beheading of a British soldier could be categorized as terrorism, and had a good laugh at a photographer’s hilarious depiction of toy storm troopers.

23 | May | 2013

Obama at the John S. Knight CenterObama at the John S. Knight Center (cc photo by Beth Rankin)

Thursday on Left and Center, Publius unearthed the government’s war on whistleblowers, considered a damning opinion by Martin Wolf on austerity, saw Mnemosyne weigh the efficacy of corporate self-regulation, relayed President Obama’s speech on the future of the war on terror, and shared a wonderful photograph of Wadi Rum – Jordan.
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