A WKU Alumni: Crosses and Condoms

When a friend sent me photos of the anti-abortion display on the Collonades at WKU, I was flabbergasted. Who the hell do these people think they are? I asked myself. I told my friend that she should cover their sign with one that said “Each cross represents a woman who was free to make her own choice” or “This is how many women will die each day if totalitarians succeed in taking away safe, legal abortion.”

I also wondered just what were these anti-choicers thinking, completely taking over a very popular gathering space for students, for an entire week. People drink coffee, study, or just soak in the sun on the Collonades. Nor is it unusual for professors to hold classes there on a nice day.

The Collonades are one of the beautiful architectural landmarks of Western. It is also affixed to the Ivan Wilson Fine Arts building, which houses the Art, Theater, Music, and Language departments.

Let me tell you something. If you believe that this ridiculous little Hilltoppers for Life group didn’t pull this stunt not merely expecting a reaction, but hoping for one, then you are a fool. Western Kentucky University has a proud history of activism. Students are very involved on this campus. Students were not going to let this stand without responding. Frankly? I was expecting more. If this had happened in my time, there would have been much more than a few condoms draped over crude popsicle stick crosses.

During the weekdays, they set up tables, along with boards. They wanted discussion. They wanted students to share their thoughts. Elaina Smith did just that. Like I said, they set up in front of the Fine Arts building. They expected some kind of art display. They expected a response, so they could throw a hissy fit. As Dr. Molly Kerby pointed out in her brilliant response to this hissy fit, the anti-choicers set up the crosses to spell out “life” on the bleachers, which could only be seen from the windows of the art department. This was provocation. This was a challenge. In my day, many, many more students would have taken up that challenge. Including me.

Now look. They’re calling for Elaina Smith to be arrested. They’re calling for the university to force her professor to give her a failing grade.

They want the police to violate Elaina’s first amendment rights to free speech.

They want the university to violate the academic freedom of their faculty.

It’s absolutely outrageous, but entirely consistent with their primary goal of calling for the government to forcibly violate a woman’s right to control her own body.

Hilltoppers for Life is no different from the man dubbed “Preacher Man” that occasionally visits campus. If you’re unfamiliar, Preacher Man sets up behind the university center during the day, insulting and provoking students in the name of the Christian god. The more students engage this man, the more insulting he gets. Meanwhile, his companion circulates throughout the crowd with a camera, snapping photos of the students who engage with Preacher Man. This man hopes to provoke the students into assaulting him, so that he may sue the student and the university. And, of course, claim martyrdom for himself and his religion.

These fools kept someone hidden at the Collonades each night, hoping to catch someone doing something to their display, so that they could claim martyrdom for themselves. Did you notice that when Elaina showed up to place her condoms, Hilltoppers for Life member, Matt Sohl, called the Students for Life for America before he called the police? Apparently their parent organization failed to instruct them properly.

(Did these student plan to skip class the next day? Or show up exhausted and unable to participate properly in their classes?)

If you still doubt that their goal was for someone to mess with their display, let me tell you something else about Western Kentucky University. Students interact with campus art on a regular basis. There is a statue of Sergeant Guthrie, in front of the Guthrie belltower, his right hand uplifted, and cupped just so. Students regularly put items in the statue’s hand. Coffee cups, bananas, ice cream cones, to name just a few. Behind McLean Hall, there is a statue of a woman, mid-stride. She is regularly dressed up with hats, scarves, and dresses. The wooden bunny, beside Garrett, is regularly dressed up as well. The students aren’t the only ones who do this–the university participates in this pastime. The abstract art affectionately dubbed the “Big Red Vagina” had bushes planted around it last time I visited campus. And I’m sorry, but that was not a coincidence.

It is shameful that President Gary Ransdell has condemned Elaina. She is a student–participating in a campus pastime, exercising her right to free speech and self-expression, and creatively completing a class project. Aside from the Hilltoppers for Life, this people crying foul are not part of WKU’s community. They all, including HFL, are part of an organized effort to curtail other people’s rights, creating controversy and provoking others to reaction. Garbear, as an alumni, I am ashamed that you are not standing by a fellow Hilltopper. I am ashamed that you, blinded as you are by your desire for good PR, turned your back on the students and faculty, falling hook, line, and sinker for their manufactured martyrdom.

Today, as a Hilltopper, I am ashamed, President Gary Ransdell, that you represent my university. I am proud, Hilltoppers for “Life” excepted, of the students and faculty. I am proud of Elaina. I am proud of Dr. Molly Kerby for taking a public stand for student’s right to free speech, and academic freedom. (Though, of course, I expected nothing less from Dr. Kerby. She is a fantastic person.)

I expect SGA to pass a resolution on Tuesday, supporting Elaina Smith, and condemning HTL and President Ransdell’s efforts to silence and punish students for expressing themselves.

I expect the Faculty Senate to rally as well, supporting their colleague’s right to grade her student’s work as she sees fit.

I expect the campus community to stand up, and call this manufactured outrage for what it is: an attack on freedom.

Get Your Activism On: The Violence Against Women Act

The Senate has passed the updated version of VAWA, that will expand its protections to the LGBT community and undocumented immigrants. Now it goes to the House.

Here’s a message to send to your representative, urging them to pass VAWA. Get your activism on!

Equal Pay: Just Be Aggressive! Says the Critics

Yesterday was Equal Pay Day. It seems, in just about every conversation regarding the pay gap, someone suggests that women just aren’t as aggressive in seeking promotions and raises. It’s a rather annoying argument, because it plays into the stereotype of the nurturing, conflict avoidant Woman, and we all know that women aren’t a monolithic group. The only thing that women have in common is that we are given the label “woman.”

To answer this bogus argument, I decided to do something a little different, and created a photo essay. Enjoy!

Read more of this post

Farewell, Fallen From Grace

Today I learned that Bruce of Fallen From Grace has shut down his blog. I’m sorry to hear it–because it was a brilliant blog.

I’ll miss Bruce’s writing–but I do understand. Writing is a lot of work, and that work takes a lot out of you. I just hope that all is well with you, Bruce. I know you had a lot of critics, and I know your health isn’t what it used to be.

Bruce, I wish you strength and happiness along your journey. Stop by sometime, you’ll always be welcome here.

Political Chess: Ann Romney, GOP’s Sacrificial Pawn

It was inevitable, once the GOP realized that their war on women was hurting them politically, that they’d seek to use the rhetoric for their own gain.

It’s ironic, but not surprising in the least, that they’d use women as pawns in the process. They did this, of course, to avoid accusations of sexism. But it’s still sexist.

The icing on the cake is tapping into the old working moms vs. stay-at-home moms “fight.” A fight that (guess who?) misogynists began, in order to divide women, pitting us against one another in a faux fight for supremacy.

Why does it matter? Ultimately, it doesn’t. Save for, of course, the policies and societal expectations that force women to make these “choices” and receive criticism no matter what “choice” women make.

If the GOP were smart, they’d reverse course on the anti-women stances they’ve taken. But they want to have their cake, and eat it too, I suppose.

Sorry, GOP. You can’t perpetuate inequality and sexism–and expect women to support you. You’re waging a war on women. It’s not simply rhetoric. It’s fact.

Now, you’re exploiting misogyny to perpetuate the same.

Women aren’t buying it.


Blasphemous Mail!

Check out what I got in the mail today:

I have no idea what’s inside, but it’s already made my day.

Any guesses?

Search Engine Questions: Civil Air Patrol Membership

I’ve seen this feature on a number of blogs I frequent, and I always enjoy them. I hadn’t planned on adding it to my own. However, one query caught my eye.

“can you join civil air patrol if you’re gay”

Yes. Yes, you can join Civil Air Patrol if you’re gay. And please, do. It is the best organization I have had the honor to be a part of, in my life. I have met many amazing people, and experienced many wonderful things. I have no doubt it would be the same for you.

While CAP is affiliated with the United States Air Force, it is a civilian organization based around love of aviation, community, and volunteerism. Anyone is welcome, no matter what the state of the political climate.

Whoever you are, if you have any more questions about CAP–or if you’d like to talk, about anything, my e-mail is in the sidebar to your right. Feel free to contact me anytime.

The Right to Refuse Treatment

Because of my epilepsy, I have had quite a few run-ins with EMS and ER staff in various cities, states, and countries.

It is my policy to refuse treatment if someone calls an ambulance while I’m having a seizure. I have told family, friends, and partners to refrain from calling an ambulance if I have a seizure, unless I’m severely injured.

I’ve had to justify this decision to the vast majority of those I have conveyed my wishes to.

“There’s no point. If I’m not gushing blood, there is no reason for me to go to the hospital. I have epilepsy. I know this. What is the point of getting dragged to the hospital, getting MRIs, EEGs, and a bunch of other tests done–only for them to tell me I have epilepsy? That’s a bunch of debt for nothing.”

Once I lay it out like that, most reasonable people agree. Whether or not they’ll actually abide by my wishes is a different story.

It’s impossible to avoid ambulances, however. I go out, like people do, and Random Dude on the street knows nothing about my medical history or my wishes.

So, I have a seizure. I wake up, EMTs are there. Even in my post-seizure fog, I can tell them that I have epilepsy, and that I’m refusing treatment.

Here’s my problem.

EMTs do not like to be told no.

Medical personnel operate under two doctrines: informed consent, and implied consent. In my situation, medical personnel approach me under implied consent–meaning, that patients who are either unconscious, or “mentally incapacitated” would “reasonably” want to be treated. Patients in an incapacitated state are assumed to have given consent to be treated.

When EMTs first meet me, I’m either unconscious, or in the grey area of being conscious, but incapacitated. Or so they assume.

It’s a very short time after I regain consciousness that I regain my mental faculties. I have epilepsy–I’ve dealt with unconsciousness and seizures many times. I know what that post-seizure state is like. I know how to care for myself, post-seizure. I know what to expect.

I also know what to expect from EMTs. When I regain consciousness, the EMT will be helpful, sympathetic, and will do their best to care for me. The moment I state that I am refusing treatment, it all changes.

The EMT(s) will get hostile and defensive. No, they tell me, I need treatment. I need to come with them. They need to check me out, to run tests. No, I insist. I’m fine. I don’t need treatment. Next, they belittle me. I don’t know what I’m talking about. I don’t know what’s best for me. I could have severe injuries. I couldn’t possibly know if I’m injured or not. I need to come with them.

I persist, however, and eventually they relent. They make it very clear they disapprove, and act accordingly every step of the way.

This is how it has always gone.

Until last week.

Last week, I had a car accident. My epilepsy was not the cause. I did a quick self-evaluation at the scene, and I determined that I didn’t have any injuries to worry about—certainly nothing to merit the large bills that a hospital trip would result in. I told the responding officers that I didn’t need an ambulance. They disagreed. When the EMTs arrived, I answered their questions, and told them that I would be refusing treatment.

Not only did they get hostile and defensive, but they refused to accept my refusal. “You have no choice,” they told me, “You’re coming with us whether you want to or not. The only choice you have is what hospital we take you to.”

Hmm. Not mentally capable of choosing to refuse treatment, but capable enough to decide which hospital to go to. Interesting. Okay, then.

“Well, I’m not going to any religious hospital, I can tell you that right now.”

The EMT was taken aback. Once he recovered, he listed my remaining options. I chose the hospital my physician is affiliated with.

I’m rather forceful and opinionated for someone incapable of making my own medical decisions, aren’t I? I hope the EMT received the message sent in my glare.

Interestingly enough, I did not receive the treatment the EMTs insisted I needed. I wasn’t immobilized, like car accident victims are supposed to be. I wasn’t given an IV, like seizure victims usually are. They took my blood pressure and my heart rate. That was it.

It wasn’t about getting me medical treatment they thought I needed. This was a power play. As a patient, I was supposed to acquiesce. I was supposed to submit to their judgment. When I didn’t, they took it as a challenge to their authority–and they abused that authority.

Santorum Drops Out of Presidential Race

From the New York Times:

“Rick Santorum suspended his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination on Tuesday, bowing to the inevitability of Mitt Romney’s nomination and ending his improbable, come-from-behind quest to become the party’s conservative standard-bearer in the fall.

“We made a decision over the weekend, that while this presidential race for us is over, for me, and we will suspend our campaign today, we are not done fighting,” Mr. Santorum said.”

It’s over.

While he may be trying to give his supporters hope that this suspension is temporary, this marks the end of his bid. Now that he’s announced, donors will dry up, media attention will wane, and strategists within the Republican Party will shift their focus elsewhere.

One down, three more to go.

Beemer’s Rants: White People: STFU.

I keep seeing white people express shock at John Derbyshire’s blatantly racist “article.” Like, they know that there are a bunch of racist white people out there, but ohmigoodness, they can’t believe he just out and said it! No dog whistles! Shock! How can this be?

For fucking real, people?

Did you really think that racism was over? Did you really think that you’ve been such good allies, calling out racism everywhere, every time, that these people were shamed into the closet?

Give me a fucking break.

Look. I’m white. And I cannot tell you, how many fucking times that other white people, whether or not they know me, have felt perfectly comfortable making a racist comment, going off on a tangent even, saying the most vile, disgusting things to me about people of color.

This ain’t rare. Blatant racism of the Derbyshire-variety happens every day, everywhere. Don’t you fucking dare pretend that it doesn’t.

So. Shut the fuck up about how shocking this is. Get off your fucking fainting couch and call out racism, blatant or covert, wherever-the-fuck you see it.

Edit: And go read Renee’s post.


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