Hello, Mr. Gestapo Man!

Surely, little doubt can remain as to the role of police in our society as illustrated in numerous incidents at the Republican National Convention. There have been at least two raids against anarchists at locations well away from the convention center, and Amy Goodman, the Democracy Now! anchor, has been arrested while seeking the release of two other journalists. From a Democracy Now! action alert:

Democracy Now! is calling on all journalists and concerned citizens to call the office of Mayor Chris Coleman and the Ramsey County Jail and demand the immediate release of Goodman, Kouddous and Salazar. These calls can be directed to: Chris Rider from Mayor Coleman’s office at 651-266-8535 and the Ramsey County Jail at 651-266-9350 (press extension 0).

I can’t make these calls. I am too furious. Phone calls are not enough and I have no way to Minneapolis-St. Paul.

I have said it before and I will say it again:

  • Police are the only people in our society authorized to use even lethal force against others.
  • They have only force, the explicit threat of force, or the implicit threat of force as tools for dealing with any given situation.
  • They function in a system that confuses “law and order” for justice.
  • They act with near impunity in a social system that generally prefers their accounts to those of others.

It doesn’t take a psychologist to recognize this as an extremely dangerous combination, and the results appear again and again, today, where labor union activists were prevented from exiting a light rail vehicle to reach their places of employment, and where Modesto police used excessive force against uninvited young people at a party.

One also need not accept the veracity of all these accounts at face value. I hear more of these stories from students at CSU East Bay and I simply cannot imagine that all of these stories are mere fancy.

Nazi Germany may have been defeated in World War II, but it sure seems like we have a lot of Gestapo driving around in those “black and whites.”

A teen pregnancy is ‘off-limits,’ and so is the failure of abstinence-only education

Rather than discuss the implications of presumptive Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s teenage daughter’s pregnancy, politicians are rushing to declare children off-limits.

Karen Rhoades, a substitute teacher in Palin’s hometown of Wasilla, Alaska, points up a different issue when she says:

With Sarah being vice president,she is not going to have day-to-day grandma duties. I am assuming Bristol and her husband will live here in Alaska with the rest of her family and they will do their best to be good parents. They have a supporting family, very loving and close. Bristol and the baby will be fine.

That’s just it. Palin will not be dealing with the consequences of this pregnancy. Nor will James Dobson, who gushed that the Palins are “not just talking about their pro-life and pro-family values, but living them out even in the midst of trying circumstances.” Excuse me, but “trying circumstances?” Grandma won’t even be around. None of these people are in any economic difficulty. I’m trying to imagine what difficulty they might be in, apart from a little embarrassment or “long-term fallout, especially from the conservative right, which favors abstinence over sex education.” As Rhoades said, “Bristol and the baby will be fine.”

And to argue as the Palins do, that “Bristol and the young man she will marry are going to realize very quickly the difficulties of raising a child,” is to suggest that difficulties encountered early are somehow extraordinary, that they are somehow more trying than those, say, of a single mother, who might also be in her teens.

Grandma will instead be preaching the virtues of “abstinence-until-marriage education,” the form of sexuality education that emphasizes fear rather than responsibility, and diverts huge sums of money to a failure. And Barack Obama, in his zeal to pander to evangelicals who, energized by McCain’s selection of Palin as a running mate, are more likely to vote for McCain, won’t be talking about abstinence-only education either. As Rahul Parick wrote for Salon,

Like many issues in this campaign, it’s not easy to separate where Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama stand on sex education. Both have been solid supporters of reproductive rights, although Obama’s time in the Senate doesn’t give him as deep a congressional record as his rival. Perhaps his strongest stance was in cosponsoring legislation to reverse the birth control price hike last fall, but he hasn’t pushed it forward. In 2007, he also introduced a bill to reduce teen pregnancy in minority communities. But it’s a little odd, for someone who has attracted so much energy and support from young people, that Obama doesn’t have any stance or position on his campaign Web site about any of these reproductive issues. The closest thing I could find was “Healthcare” under “Issues,” where at the bottom he has a bullet point about women’s health. But he makes no specific mention of reproductive issues.

“No specific mention,” indeed. That is, until Obama reaffirms male hegemony over women’s bodies, and leaves “open the possibility that he actually supports a significant narrowing of abortion rights.”