Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Oklahoma wants you to listen to the fetus' heartbeat - I mean REALLY listen to it before you get that abortion

The Oklahoma State Legislature overrode two gubernatorial vetoes for legislation that relates to the rights of pregnant women. It is now mandated that:

- a pregnant woman must view a sonogram of the fetus and listen to its heartbeat before having an abortion; and

- an ob/gyn has no legal responsibility to inform the pregnant woman that the fetus may have genetic defects or disorders.

The laws make no exceptions for victims of rape and/or incest.

One argument in favor of this legislation is that pregnant women should receive all the relevant information available in order to make an informed decision regarding the full carriage or termination of her pregnancy.

This argument fails, however, in consideration of the second mandate: that doctors may legally withhold information that could affect a woman's decision to carry a pregnancy to full term. Such condoned imposition of an individual doctor's personal belief is hardly in line with the standardized ethics associated with the medical professions.

The state of Oklahoma has in this way effectively subverted a patient's rights in relation to her protection from governmental as well as doctoral intrusion in her medical treatment experience.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Three city blocks threaten to take down America

In response to the City's budget woes, today's Scottish pride parade has been cut from 13 to ten blocks long. The event is the first procession affected by the NYPD's decision to shorten parade routes in order to cut down on officer overtime hours.

I have been to parades in many places - New Orleans, DC, Havana, Saigon, Bangkok (the photo here was taken on March 20th at one of the Red Shirt rallies - note how non-violent and generally chill everyone is) and others - and I have to say there is something about the NYPD that takes all the festivity out of a processional.

Police crackdowns on the monthly Critical Mass parade have produced what is in San Francisco a leisurely, semi-politically inclined bike ride, in Manhattan an unpleasant and sometimes dangerous cat-and-mouse game in which participants must dutifully stop before the crosswalk at all red lights lest the accompanying phalanx of cops on motorbikes issue a summons for jaywalking or other such violations of City security.

Several years ago, while attempting to leave the established parade route during a City-approved rally several years ago, I was physically restrained by an Auxiliary officer who demanded I throw away my foam board poster (which read "Justice Not Violence") before cutting through the police barricades. She said I might use the poster as a weapon, prompting me to wonder if she could read.

Now why do we need so many rules and cops at these events? Exactly what and whom are they protecting? I doubt the security demands are so tight at the Scottish parade as to warrant overtime commitment for officers. If the police were instructed in these circumstances to help rather than hinder, everyone would be safer.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Bristol Palin advises abstinence for the poor

In a recent PSA, Bristol Palin implores poor women to "pause" before they "play," citing her famous, wealthy family as the only reason her efforts at single parenthood have been successful. The implication is that young mothers without her privilege are alone and destitute, depicted in the ad as having frizzy hair and being stranded in an empty room with a needy baby.

Bristol Palin is hardly the first to suggest that poor people not have children. Margaret Sanger preyed on mainstream fears of rampant Irish Catholic breeding to gain support for her Planned Parenthood initiatives. From 1929 to 1974, the state of North Carolina ran a sterilization program that targeted poor black people, thought to be miscreants.

But Bristol Palin's message is misguided also because it presumes that wealth is a necessary factor in managing teen motherhood. True, babies are expensive. But other teen mothers have families too, even if they can't all have governors for parents. Those mythical "villages" have been raising children for as long as humans have been having them. How could any one person do everything that is necessary for the wellbeing and development of another?

Family support is of course crucial in mitigating the difficulties of [young] single parenthood. Yet mention of the child's father as a reliable - or even viable - nurturer is absent in this ad. That the female parent is responsible for a pregnancy and child goes unquestioned. Male consciousness should be examined as it is interpreted, validated, and institutionalized by mainstream society in ads such as this one.

Bristol might have used her platform to advocate for healthy, informed relationships, instead of the blanket admonition for abstinence. Sex does have consequences, but ignorance has more.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Thanks for the tassel, JSex

I received my graduation tassel yesterday: it is gold to indicate that I have been on the privileged end of grade inflation over the years. Too bad it says the wrong year:

This mailing is probably the only one I've received from NYU which does not solicit funds. They even put a polar bear stamp on the envelope instead of the usual metered postage mark! What a great day this is turning out to be.

To the driver who almost hit me, and then dumped a cup of water on me as I was biking past

Dear Sir,
Last night, we were both traveling down 9th Avenue in the 30s. I was on my bicycle; you were in your SUV. I was rolling to a stop at a red light just as you pulled out of your parking space and tried to cut across a lane of traffic, even though - again - it was a red light and all the cars were stopped.

I was wearing a bright pink dress. I had reflectors on my bicycle and my shiny silver helmet, and I was wearing a flashing red light that fastened around my upper arm. In short, I was supremely visible.

However, you were distracted by your desire to get into the second lane, which maybe is your lucky lane (?), and you either did not see me or you thought that I would get out of your way because, hey, you're in an SUV and I'm just on a bike. To give you the benefit of the doubt, it is possible I was in your blind spot.

But sir, I too have a drivers license, and I know that one of the first and most crucial rules of the road is to look both ways before doing anything. This includes turning, leaving and entering a parking spot, and generally being a responsible driver. Additionally, it is courteous to use your turn signal to indicate that you will be leaving a parking spot. This is helpful for other people on the road in their quest to not hit you.

When I realized that you were not going to let me by, I stopped very short so as to let you do your maneuvering. This same scenario, albeit with a different driver, cost me a broken shoulder last year, so I immediately was put on edge. In turning my bicycle around to get by your car - which at this point was taking up not only the parking spot and first lane, but part of the second lane as well - I grabbed onto the back part of your SUV to keep my balance.

I realized when I got around to your window that you had interpreted this action as a violation of your personal property. You decided to articulate your discontent by calling me, alternately, a "fucking bitch" and a "fucking cunt."

Now, you are correct to point out that I, like most everybody else, do have my bitchy moments. However, I thought it entirely inappropriate that we be discussing my cunt at such an early moment in our relationship. I responded by reminding you to look both ways next time. I believe I said, "You should look both ways next time."

After your harangue showed a sign of impending pause, I added a neighborly "fuck off" to let you know I still had some fighting spirit after my near-accident experience due to your negligence. Not that you asked, but I was okay.

Now, dear sir, I am not a loud person. In fact, I doubt that you even heard me tell you to fuck off because your window was still rolled up. So your subsequent actions were all the more confounding.

When the light turned green, I continued pedaling my way to glory. I had a party to go to, and I was not about to let you and your unpleasant problem-solving skills get in the way of a good time. You see, I have been trying this new thing called "letting it go." It is an excellent coping mechanism, and I recommend it to you.

After three or four blocks, I was feeling a lot better about the situation. I realized that you probably hadn't had any interaction with women in a while, so you were just unfamiliar with how to relate to a female. I can forgive you for that, even though that's not a great excuse for what you did next.

Five blocks after our encounter, you pulled up really close to me so as to force me closer to the line of parked cars. I thought maybe you were lost and needed directions. Maybe you were going to apologize for almost hitting me. Then I realized you had something more nefarious in mind. I turned to see what your situation was all about, only to be greeted by the overturned cup of water in your hand.

All I felt in that moment was fear, because I was stuck between your SUV and a line of parked cars. There was no curb for me to pull up on, and your cup was very, very full of water. Maybe you had one of those Big Gulp cups.

I couldn't see because there was so much water in my face, and also I was trying not to run into your front wheel.

Do you know what adrenaline is? I had a lot of that coursing through my blood in that moment. I thought maybe I would get hurt or die. You did not seem to recognize my plight; rather you only continued to deluge me with your water.

Actually, I wasn't sure that it was water until I tasted it running into my nose and mouth. You dumped your beverage all over my face, neck, chest, and back. You got your water all over my new dress and my little bag that had an iPod in it. I imagine you drank from the cup before dousing me with its contents, so for all I know, you also got your mouth germs all over me too.

I started screaming at you. Very intelligent things like "What the fuck you fucking fuckface." But you thought the whole situation was hilarious. You laughed and sped off.

I was not laughing. In fact, I was close to crying. Who does things like that? Apparently, you do. I cannot imagine a problem to which dumping a cup of water on a defenseless and scared biker is an acceptable resolution. We must have been raised with different values systems because you clearly thought it would be the optimal resolution.

But not only did you endanger and scare the shit out of me, you also endangered yourself. I believe the reason you were so upset in the first place was because you imagined what trouble you'd be in if something had happened to me while you pulled out of your parking space without checking to see if anybody was in your way. You would probably have to pay higher insurance premiums, for one, and also live with the fact that you injured or killed somebody. I'm sure that would suck pretty hard.

Anyway, I suppose you've been helpful in pointing out a flaw in my new Zen phase, which is that I am still capable of and willing to throw shitfits in the face of adversity. And if I ever see you again, I will thank you for it. Right after I show you what a fucking bitch I can be.