Tag: editorial

WISCONSIN STATE REP. MELISSA SARGENT: “We must work to end the rape culture”

REPUBLISHER’S NOTE: Below the horizontal line is an op-ed, originally published by the Madison, Wisconsin-based newspaper The Cap Times, that was written by Wisconsin State Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison). The op-ed has been republished to this blog, as it appeared on The Cap Times’s website, with permission from Representative Sargent.


A young woman woke up not sure where she was.

She was covered in pine needles, her hands and elbows bloody. As she laid on a hospital gurney trying to put the pieces together, doctors performed one invasive procedure after another to determine what had happened. She was told — hours later, after she was finally allowed to shower — that she had been sexually assaulted and was found unconscious behind a dumpster.

By now, many of you have heard about this brutal rape on the Stanford campus. The power of social media allowed millions of us to read the chilling testimony that the victim read aloud to her assailant in court. And like me, I’m sure you were horrified by the light sentence — at most, six months in the county jail and three years’ probation — that the judge gave to the Stanford student. Not even a slap on the wrist.

This case is the definition of our society’s rape culture.

This made me think back to a few weeks ago when I was visiting a middle school in my district. I was talking to a young woman about her college plans. This seventh-grader said she has just read UW-Madison’s campus climate survey, which showed that one in four women will experience sexual violence during their time on the Madison campus. She told me that she felt she had to choose between her safety and her ability to pursue higher education.

This is wholly unacceptable.

As women, we are taught almost from birth that we have to be careful, and take extra precautions for our safety. There is a strict set of unwritten rules for women: Don’t walk alone, don’t drink too much, don’t wear that skirt. We live in a culture that views rape and sexual assault as inevitable, as something that “just happens” to (a certain kind) of woman, as something that can be prevented if we as women just follow that laundry list of unwritten rules — and always as something that is the victim’s responsibility to stop.

These attitudes are all part of rape culture. We live in a world where everyone from the media, to teachers, to school administrators, to many elected officials contribute to and normalize sexual violence against women. The media debate whether a rapist’s sentence will ruin his life — rather than talking about the lifelong impacts for the victim.

Sexual assault isn’t something that happens somewhere else, to someone else. It’s happening right here — to us, our sisters, our friends, our daughters. And it’s happened to me.

Every parent should know that this is what our children are being taught. Our daughters grow up hearing that if a boy hurts her, it’s love. Our sons grow up hearing that “boys will be boys” is an excuse for their actions.

Every parent should be acutely aware that this is the world their children are growing up in. While Brock Turner’s six-month sentence seems like such a far cry from justice, in actuality he is receiving more punishment than 97 percent of rapists, who face no jail time at all.

We must teach our children to do better to stop this community of inaction. We must stop victim-blaming altogether. And we must say that rape is rape — no excuses, no justifications.

 

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The REAL reason why The Washington Post is smearing Bernie: it’s about those Viagra ads

The Bernie Sanders presidential campaign has begun to push back aggressively against an editorial by The Washington Post that viciously attacked him for running for president and advocating for common-sense ideas to make America great again. For example, Sanders retweeted this tweet from David Sirota of the International Business Times pointing out WaPo’s hypocrisy:

However, that isn’t the real reason why WaPo is attacking Bernie. In this paragraph, one line really stood out as being something about Bernie’s proposed Medicare for All plan that would have a specific negative impact on the corporate media:

Mr. Sanders’s story continues with fantastical claims about how he would make the European social model work in the United States. He admits that he would have to raise taxes on the middle class in order to pay for his universal, Medicare-for-all health-care plan, and he promises massive savings on health-care costs that would translate into generous benefits for ordinary people, putting them well ahead, on net. But he does not adequately explain where those massive savings would come from. Getting rid of corporate advertising and overhead would only yield so much. Savings would also have to come from slashing payments to doctors and hospitals and denying benefits that people want.

(emphasis mine)

The fact that WaPo is complaining about Bernie’s plan (possibly) eliminating direct-to-consumer advertising (keep in mind that I’ve never heard a major-party presidential candidate in this year’s election actually advocate for eliminating direct-to-consumer advertising) of prescription drugs is a dead giveaway as to why WaPo is smearing Bernie.

Direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs and medical devices is allowed in only two countries (the United States and New Zealand), and it’s a major contributor to why health care costs in America are ridiculously high. Late last year, the American Medical Association (AMA), a group representing American physicians, called for a ban on direct-to-consumer advertising. Obviously, such a ban would likely result in less advertising revenue for corporate media outlets, since big pharmaceutical companies pay big bucks to corporate media outlets for advertising.

While I’m not sure how much money WaPo makes off of pharmaceutical advertising, WaPo is going to bat for the corporate media in a desperate attempt to preserve the corporate media’s stream of money from the makers of erectile dysfunction pills like Viagra and Cialis.

When it comes to fighting against Wisconsin Republicans’ push to dismantle good government, Dianne Hesselbein leads

Wisconsin Republicans are spending virtually all of their time trying to dismantle what little remains of Wisconsin’s once-proud tradition of good government and enact a ton of blatantly partisan legislation. One of those blatantly partisan pieces of legislation is legislation that would dismantle Wisconsin’s civil service system and allow Republicans like Governor Scott Walker to install political cronies in every kind of Wisconsin state government job that you can think of. In a recent op-ed in the Madison, Wisconsin-based newspaper The Cap Times, State Rep. Dianne Hesselbein (D-Middleton), described the Republican plan for dismantling Wisconsin’s civil service system:

The new Republican law will introduce an element of fear in the workplace. New employees will face a full year of probation instead of the current 60 days. (It was to be two years, but the bill’s authors started to feel a chill and backed off.) During probation, new hires will be in a free-fire zone and can be fired at will. If there are layoffs, seniority will not count. Raises will become individual bonuses awarded to the favored few.

Hiring and firing will be controlled by the governor’s political arm — the Department of Administration — not the home agency. Employees will no longer have the assurance that, so long as they show up and do their job well, their job will be secure. Now, for the first time since the Progressives created it in 1905, they will have to worry about political factors.

There’s plenty of other odious pieces of legislation that Republicans want to enact in Wisconsin when it comes to dismantling good government. These include replacing Wisconsin’s non-partisan government watchdog with two separate partisan state commissions, as well as rewriting Wisconsin’s campaign finance laws to allow more money to flow into the political system and allow campaign donors to not disclose who employs them.

I’m glad that someone like Dianne Hesselbein is strongly opposing the Republicans’ efforts to make Wisconsin more like Illinois, a state rife with political corruption and cronyism.

Right-wing Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel columnist Christian Schneider claims that Russ Feingold is worse than a child molester

Christian Schneider, a right-wing columnist for the right-wing Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, compared Former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), who is running for his former U.S. Senate seat, to child molester and Ashley Madison member Josh Duggar in this column:

Of course, Feingold’s (Badger Pledge) isn’t meant to be taken seriously. Typically, all of a campaign’s money is spent a month before election day — all of a candidate’s ad buys are complete and campaign literature has been printed. (Further, with YouTube and social media, traditional television ad buys are becoming less and less relevant.) What if a third-party group runs an ad with two weeks to go, while the actual campaigns are broke? Who is coming after them — the Russ Feingold Collection Agency?

Instead, Feingold is simply following the old campaign trick of a candidate trying to show strength in an area that represents his greatest weakness. In the past few months, reports have shown that Feingold has been living a double life that would make Josh Duggar cringe; despite decades of railing against money in politics, Feingold himself commanded a political action committee that has raked in millions from special interest groups.

(emphasis by Monona Grove (WI) school board member and Cognitive Dissidence blogger Jeff Simpson)

While money in politics is a serious problem, and politicians in both major parties are guilty as sin of being part of the problem and/or being hypocritical about it, comparing Russ Feingold to a child molester like Josh Duggar is absolutely absurd. What Schneider did was basically claim that using a political front group as a benchwarmer for political operatives is somehow worse than child molestation. While big-money politics is a very serious problem in this country, child molestation is absolutely repulsive.

Schneider’s bizarre comparison between Feingold and Duggar reminds me a lot of disgraced former Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) spokesman Graeme Zielinski comparing Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s legal defense in the first John Doe investigation to the legal defense of serial killer and cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer.

It’s bad enough that Russ Feingold has had to deal with borderline anti-Semitic remarks by DPW Chairwoman Martha Laning (trust me, Laning wouldn’t have complained about Feingold’s last name if his name were a more common last name like Smith or White), who has been trying to sabotage Feingold’s campaign. It’s even worse that the right-wing corporate media in Wisconsin is making unbelievably offensive remarks comparing Feingold to a child molester.

I urge people to contact Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel editorial page editor David Haynes at dhaynes@journalsentinel.com and call for the Journal-Sentinel to fire Christian Schneider over his offensive remarks about Russ Feingold.

Wisconsin’s Melissa Sargent makes the case for legalizing recreational marijuana

Once again, Melissa Sargent, a Democratic member of the Wisconsin State Assembly from Madison, has proposed legalizing recreational marijuana in Wisconsin.

While Sargent’s bill has zero chance of being enacted by the Republicans who control Wisconsin’s state government, I strongly support all efforts to legalize marijuana for recreational use in this country. Sargent made a great case for legalizing marijuana in her home state of Wisconsin in this editorial, which was published by the Madison, Wisconsin-based alternative newspaper The Cap Times:

Adults choosing to use marijuana in the safety of their own home is a matter of personal liberty and freedom. As a matter of philosophy, the government must have a compelling reason to make something illegal in our society. If an individual action does not harm yourself, your neighbors, or your community, it is no business of the government. Likewise, Wisconsinites with ailments that could be alleviated through marijuana should have the freedom to use inexpensive and effective medicine that works for them.

As Wisconsin deals with devastating financial shortfalls created by Gov. Walker, we must look at all available options for generating revenue. While Republicans demonize the use of marijuana, what is truly criminal is the money Wisconsin is losing by not legalizing it.

As of today, each stop a police officer makes for simple marijuana possession costs taxpayers, on average, $425. Over 650,000 Americans were arrested in 2012 for marijuana possession. That’s one possession arrest every 48 seconds, and more arrests than for all violent crimes combined.

With limited resources, and an overextended prison system, it is not sustainable to continue imprisoning people for these offenses.

What Sargent is talking about are not just Wisconsin problems by any stretch of the imagination. They’re serious problems in every state in this country where marijuana is illegal. Legalizing marijuana for recreational use would bring states more tax revenue, save taxpayers money, reduce the number of people who are incarcerated, and provide more freedom to people. As Sargent herself stated in her editorial, “…the most dangerous thing about marijuana in our society is the fact that it remains illegal.”

Minneapolis (MN) police officer Christopher Guelcher apparently thinks that people who litter or urinate in public should be shot to death

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune published one of the most vile op-eds I’ve ever seen in my entire life. The op-ed was written by Christopher Guelcher, a police officer with the Minneapolis, Minnesota police department.

In his op-ed, which he wrote in response to recent police killings in numerous cities across the country, Guelcher strongly implied that he thinks that people who have committed even minor crimes, such as public urination and littering, should be shot to death by police and that police officers should shoot anybody who they see is committing a crime:

Could this be the future of today’s demands for reform and change? Would people be happy and fully support the federal, state or even local governments if they passed laws restricting the police from proactively enforcing low-level misdemeanor crimes committed in an officer’s presence, such as littering or public urination, because the crime does not warrant the possibility of police use of force and possibly death?

People like Christopher Guelcher are the reason why real reform of the police and criminal justice systems in this country are badly needed. Far too many police officers think that their badge gives them a right to hunt and kill people, especially black people, even for minor offenses like pissing in public and throwing trash on the ground in a public place, when, in reality, their badge doesn’t give them that right.

I found Guelcher’s remarks to be downright vile, and he owes the people of Minneapolis an apology and a resignation from the police force.

Here’s my audio blog about Guelcher’s op-ed. Please note that my attempt at speaking in a Minnesota accent sucked badly.