Tag Archives: civil rights

New Louisiana Law Would Force Brain Dead, Pregnant Women To Remain On Life Support

anti abortion protesters

Recently, and by an overwhelming majority, the Louisiana Legislature passed one of the most invasive anti-choice bills imaginable,  HB 1274.  The bill would require physicians and hospitals to keep brain dead, pregnant women on life support in order to keep their unborn fetus alive.

The proposed new law would apply even if remaining on life support is against the stated wishes of the woman or her immediate family.  The only time the law would not apply is if the incapacitated woman has a will in which she specifically and explicitly wrote that she does not wish to be resuscitated if incapacitated and pregnant – or – if the fetus is under 20 weeks old.

Ilyse Hogue, President of the NARAL Pro-Choice America, told MSNBC:

“Laws like this show the sinister underlying belief that anti-choice politicians hold – that women’s sole purpose is to have children, and once we are pregnant, our rights to make our own decisions fly right out the window regardless of what we think, our families think, and what medical experts think.”

Another article noted that HB 1274 would “codify the legal nightmare scenario that faced the Texas family of Marlise Munoz earlier this year.”  Munoz collapsed after suffering from either a blood clot or pulmonary embolism. She was declared legally dead two days later.  However, when her husband and grieving family asked to remove her from life support and allow her to die a natural death, the hospital refused because Munoz was 14 weeks pregnant at the time.  Even more shocking, the hospital refused to withdraw life support even after an ultrasound established that the fetus was severely deformed and fluid had built up in its brain.  

In the Munoz case, the grieving family was forced to file a lawsuit against the Texas hospital.  A judge subsequently ruled that the hospital had to respect the family’s wishes and ordered withdrawal of life support.

Louisiana’s HB 1274 is now in the hands of Governor Bobby Jindal.  All signs suggest that he will sign this restrictive bill into law.  If he does, this is yet another example of the political right invading women’s privacy protections and the rights of their immediate families.  HB 1274 is a CIVIL WRONG.

The Dangerous Workings Of Sarah Palin

If you want to hear the real sound of “100% wacko,” then just listen to Sarah Palin.

In the wake of the shooting of Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, many around the country blame Palin’s “incitement to violence”-style rhetoric and imagery which includes, among other techniques, use of the now-infamous “cross hairs” map that – rather literally – targets Democratic leaders.  The “cross hairs” map is pictured below:

At the time of writing this article, the “cross-hairs” map was still publicly posted on Palin’s Facebook page.  Furthermore, in response to criticism, Palin says that she (and her cronies) are being unjustly blamed for the attack; it is their right to free speech that is being trampled.

In other words – just in case you missed it – Palin is the real victim here.  It is not Congresswoman Giffords whom Palin targeted with her map and other violent-provoking rhetoric.  No way.  It is not the federal judge killed by the gunman.  Uh-uh. It is not even the 5 others that were killed in the shooting, including a 9 year-old girl who just happened to have been born on 9/11/2001.

Nope, Sister Sarah is the victim here – she, her cronies, and, well, I suppose the First Amendment.  You remember the good-ole No. 1, don’t you?  It is part of that pesky document called the Constitution that so many dangerous, half-crazed, ne0-con zealots can never seem to stomach – until it becomes useful to wrap themselves up in it for protection and justification.

Here’s a news bulletin for Sister Sarah – you can put lipstick on a pig, but in the end, you still got a pig.  And, in this case, a rather dangerous pig.  In this case, we have a pig willing to use this tragic event to transform herself into some kind of victim or martyr; or, at the very least,  Constitutional champion.  In so doing, Palin is revealing either a profound degree of psychological disturbance, or she is demonstrating her willingness to stoop deep to promote her own domination agenda.  Maybe both.

Also shocking are those that have publicly defended Palin.  For example, Barbara Walters feels Sister Sarah’s pain, saying that it is unfair to blame her for the shooting.  Although I normally regard Walters higher than most, not on this occasion.  As Lynn M. Paltrow noted in her “Open Letter to Sarah Palin,” Congresswoman Giffords – in particular – criticized Palin’s methods, including the “cross hairs” map.  What a coincidence, eh Babs?!?!

Walters is, of course, known for her own brand of “in your face” journalism.  However, as she should know, speech that promotes the public good by encouraging debate or controversy – even spirited or agitated – is not the same thing as the self-indulgent calculations of a demagogue trolling her cult of personality for violence with military-style words and imagery.  For example, evidence continues to mount suggesting that Palin’s racists comments aimed at President Obama has led to death threats against the President.

If Sarah Palin’s brand of “speech” is protected, then we ought to start now and re-write every Constitutional law textbook so that they feature the likes of Charles Manson and Jim Jones alongside Constitutional champions like Mary Beth Tinker (pictured below), Clarence Earl Gideon and Rosa Parks.  Hyperbole, you say?  Sarah Palin is nothing like Jim Jones?  How would we know that – until it is too late?

What if we suddenly learned that Sarah Palin had direct ties to a terrorist organization whose mission is to cause anarchy and civil unrest in the U.S. to destroy democracy?  What is the gunman in this case had ties to the same organization?  Suddenly, it might seem as though Palin’s comments were something less akin to pure free speech and something strikingly closer to conspiracy.

Even if Palin’s “speech” is protected, let us not dignify that which does not deserve dignity.   A lot of very undignified “speech” is legally protected by our Constitution, whether we like it or not.  That does not mean dignified citizens should go out of their way to be cheerleaders.

Mary Beth Tinker talks to students at Cardozo High about their constitutional rights. In eighth grade, Tinker was suspended for wearing a black armband, inspiring a Supreme Court case that upheld students' freedom of expression. (By James A. Parcell -- The Washington Post)

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Scalia To Women: Corporations Have Rights, Not You

Official portrait of Supreme Court Justice Ant...
Image via Wikipedia

Just how ridiculously narrow-minded and oppressive will U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia get?  It boggles the mind when you consider his latest rant.

In an interview with the online publication California Lawyer” this past week, Scalia declared that the 14th Amendment does not protect gays or women from discrimination.

Scalia stated:

Q. In 1868, when the 39th Congress was debating and ultimately proposing the 14th Amendment, I don’t think anybody would have thought that equal protection applied to sex discrimination, or certainly not to sexual orientation. So does that mean that we’ve gone off in error by applying the 14th Amendment to both?

A. Yes, yes. Sorry, to tell you that. … But, you know, if indeed the current society has come to different views, that’s fine. You do not need the Constitution to reflect the wishes of the current society. Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t.

If I understand the good Justice, taking into consideration his opinion in the recent Citizens United case, corporations have constitutional rights but women and other minorities are free game for discrimination, at least as far as the 14th Amendment goes.   Do you find it astounding that a jurist sitting on the Nation’s Court of Last Resort thinks that AT&T or Halliburton or BP has more rights than your mom does or your sister?  I do.

We all need to think very seriously about Justice Scalia’s comments.  Think about them in the context of this quote which I am re-printing from an excellent article in U.S. News’ Politics blog:

“…laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.”

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Lawyer, Anti-Duvalier Activist & Politician Georges Anglades Killed By Haiti Quake

MSNBC‘s “Breaking News” on Twitter, @breakingnews, is reporting that lawyer, civil rights activist, and politician, Georges Anglades, was killed in the Haiti quake.  Anglades and his wife are pictured here.

Anglades was born in Port-au-Prince in 1944, educated in Haiti as a lawyer, and received a Ph.D. in Vienna.  Anglades came to national attention as an outspoken critic of the Duvalier regime in Haiti.  From 1957 to 1971, Haiti was ruled by the autocrat, Dr. Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier, whom it is estimated ordered the deaths of 30,000 Haitians and exile of thousands more.  You can link to a Wikipedia article about Papa Doc Duvalier here.

Papa Doc Duvalier’s reign was followed by his son, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier.  Although he attempted to soften some of the harsher aspects of his father’s regime, “Baby Doc” Duvalier’s reign was marked by corruption and the continued oppression of any political resistance.  “Baby Doc” Duvalier ruled Haiti from 1971 until he was overthrown by popular uprising in 1986.  You can link to a Wikipedia article about “Baby Doc” Duvalier here.

It was through this popular uprising that Anglades became part of the Haitian political landscape.  He was made a political prisoner by “Baby Doc” Duvalier in 1974.  Later, Anglades served as a Haitian cabinet minister and advisor to President Rene Preval.

Anglades and his wife were both killed in the quake.  In addition to the MSNBC BreakingNews report, you can link to an article about the couple’s death from Canadian news outlet, TheStar.com, here.

As of approximately 3 hours ago, reports from Haiti are estimating that the death toll will reach 100,000.  You can link to an article discussing the estimated death toll here.  Describing the earthquake as an “unimaginable disaster,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton assured that the Haitian death toll will reach tens of thousands.  You can link to an article quoting Sec’y Clinton here.

The damage done to the Haitian Presidential Palace is pictured below.

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Human Rights Photographs That Changed The World

Here is a collection of some of the most important civil or human rights photographs ever taken, with my editorial comments.  As is often the case, these photographs are significant because they shock our conscience and disturb the senses.  That can certainly be said for some of these.

If you have other photographs in mind as you review these, please do not hesitate to let me know.  It may be something worth blogging about in the future.

For those of you interested in the history of educational discrimination in the U.S., I have placed a photograph in the Box showing the state of segregation laws in the U.S. prior to Brown v. Board of Education from Wikipedia.

Never Doubt The Power Of A Single Individual To Effect Change

Never Forget The Dream

The Dream Cut Down

Separate But Equal Is ‘Inherently’ Unequal – Brown v. Board of Education

Human Rights Can Be Snuffed Out In An Instant

Human Rights Violations Touch All Ages…


Everywhere…


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Remembering 3 Important Events In The Native American Civil Rights Movement

This months marks anniversaries of 3 important events that form part of the Native American Civil Rights Movement in the United States.

National Congress of American Indians (NCAI)

The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) was founded in November 1944 in response to termination and assimilation policies that the United States forced upon the tribal governments in contradiction of their treaty rights. NCAI stressed the need for unity and cooperation among tribal governments. Since 1944, the National Congress of American Indians has been working to inform the public and Congress on the governmental rights of American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Trail of Broken Treaties

The Trail of Broken Treaties was the November 1972 march on Washington by the American Indian Movement and other Indian rights activists. The caravan went directly to the Department of the Interior to present their Twenty Point Indian Manifesto, claims they put directly before the President Nixon. For six days, the group occupied the Bureau of Indian Affairs demanding recognition of their plight.

Alcatraz Occupation

On November 9, 1969, a group of Indian supporters set out in a chartered boat to symbolically claim Alcatraz for the Indian people. On November 20, 1969, this symbolic occupation turned into a full-scale occupation which lasted until June 11, 1971.

Since many different tribes were represented, the name “Indians of All Tribes” was adopted for the group. They claimed the island in the name of Indians of all tribes. It would become the longest prolonged occupation of a federal facility by Indian people. The federal government initially insisted that the Indian people leave the island, placed an ineffective barricade around the island, and eventually agreed to demands by the Indian council that formal negotiations be held. From the Indians side, the negotiations were fixed. They wanted the deed to the island; they wanted to establish an Indian university, a cultural center, and a museum. The government negotiators insisted that the occupiers could have none of these and insisted that they leave the island.

The federal government responded to the occupation by adopting a position of non-interference. While it appeared to those on the island that negotiations were actually taking place, in fact, the federal government was playing a waiting game, hoping that support for the occupation would subside and those on the island would elect to end the occupation. On June 10, 1971, armed federal marshals, FBI agents, and special forces police swarmed the island and removed five women, four children, and six unarmed Indian men. The occupation was over. Alcatraz may have been lost, but the occupation gave birth to a political movement which continues to today.

In recognition of these events, I have included several historical photographs of Native Americans from different tribes.  Some of these may be familiar; others may be new.  Either way, I hope you enjoy the photographs as you consider this important political movement still underway today.

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