Politics & Law

Elizabeth's picture

Sex in the voting booth

There is a reason they only allow one person in at a time!

We are suddenly less than a week away from Election Day in the United States an there is sex on the ballot all over the place. I'm especially interested in the following ballot questions that deal with

Elizabeth's picture

Tell the candidates and the media to talk about sex like (reasoning, honest, courageous) adults!

From RH Reality Check, Care2 and The Petition Site:

In the final presidential debate, Senators Obama and McCain debated abortion, sex education and Roe v. Wade. When this important issue comes forward, let's demand that the campaigns and the mainstream media engage the full range of sexual and reproductive health issues and not treat women's reproductive health like a political football. Demand an honest discussion on:

- comprehensive sex ed v. abstinence-only programs,
- contraception and efforts by the far-right to take it away,
- life and health exemptions for mothers with crisis pregnancies,
- U.S. ranking 41st among nations in maternal health,
- high costs of contraception and reproductive health care, especially for unemployed and uninsured, and
- HIV/AIDS and its impact in the US and around the world.

The campaigns and the media should honestly discuss the complexities of sexual and reproductive health and not reduce the topic to abortion soundbites from extremists fanning the flames of the Culture War.

Let's talk about sex like adults, use medical facts and discuss the best public health strategies to give all Americans the tools to lead sexually healthy lives.

We cannot expect sound sex-related policy if we can't have courageous, reasoned, honest conversations about everything connected to sex. If you agree, please click here to sign a petition directed at the presidential candidates and the mainstream media, calling for an educated, evidence-based, and adult conversation about all aspects of sexual health and sexual rights.

Technorati Tags: law, politics, media, sex

Elizabeth's picture

Good news in Connecticut!

Good news from Connecticut this morning: The CT Supreme Court ruled that the state's marriage laws apply to same-sex couples making it the third state to allow same-sex marriage. Even better news: The governor, Jodi Rell, though she does not agree with the decision, will not challenge it. Of course challenges may come from elsewhere. There is a question on the November ballot asking whether direct initiatives should be allowed in CT, as they are in CA, where voters in November will be able to decide directly whether the state's constitution should be amended to expressly limit marriage to couples who fit the one man and one woman formula.

Here's a link to the Connecticut decision (PDF). Click here to read more.

Elizabeth's picture

First they came for the street workers...

Thanks to Morpheus (of the NYC Alt Events list) and to Doug Henwood I have these New York Post and New York Daily News stories about the recent persecution of NYC BDSM dungeons and the political response of the pro dommes who work in them. This Daily News story details the raid on Rapture, closing it down and arresting one of its workers (who later saw prostitution charges against her dropped as long as "she stays out of trouble"). And this Post story discusses the nascent attempts of dommes to organize, hiring an attorney, beginning the process of forming a political action committee and hopefully, eventually, a union.

Unfortunately one of the arguments being made, and it is very understandable, is that "BDSM isn't the same as prostitution." From the Daily News piece: Click here to read more

Lou FCD's picture

White House Witch Hunters Watch While We Wank

What turns a person on? Is what arouses one person the same as what arouses every other person? Should it be? According to the current wave of successful obscenity prosecutions by both federal and state governments, the answer is not only a resounding “yes,” but exactly what is permissible under the law is subject to the whim of the FBI, the local and state governments, and a person's neighbor down the street. Video store owner Rick Krial was recently convicted in Staunton, Virginia, on one of two misdemeanor charges of obscenity and his store was likewise found guilty on one of two similar charges. He and his store still face trial on sixteen obscenity-related felony charges for selling pornographic DVDs to consenting adults for private viewing in their homes. Mr. Krial applied for and received all the proper business licenses and permits required of him, and the videos were made by legally documented consenting adults.

At the heart of this case and others like it is the legal definition of the word “obscene.” What is truly problematic here is that the definition of the word is as malleable as the sixteenth century definition of the word “blasphemy.” Current obscenity laws are based on a 1973 ruling by the Supreme Court in the case of Miller v. California. From that precedent comes the Miller test, whereby an item is deemed legally obscene (and thus unprotected by the First Amendment) if it meets all three of the following criteria: “a) 'the average person, applying contemporary community standards' would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest, b) the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law, and c) the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.” Each of these three standards is so subjective as to allow them to be brandished like Sixtus IV's pernicious bull of 1477.

(Continued below the fold)

Elizabeth's picture

What happened in Staunton, part 2: What happens in Staunton won't stay in Staunton

A week ago I wrote about the Staunton, VA obscenity trial of Rick Krial. Rick Krial, and his store, were each charged with a range of misdemeanor and felony obscenity counts and were tried along with a clerk on two of the misdemeanor counts. Krial and the store were each found guilty of one; the clerk was found not guilty of both. I wrote about the more philosophical issues of what obscenity means in my last post. This post is concerned with something different. Here I want to make clear why, whether or not you ever plan to travel to Staunton, VA you need to care about this case. The reason: Unlike Las Vegas, the place Staunton's prosecutor most fears, what happens in Staunton isn't so likely to stay in Staunton. Read why below the fold.

Michael's picture

Conventions, Suffrage and Equality

On August 26th 1920, the Nineteeth Amendment to the United States Constitution became law, allowing women to vote in Presidential elections. In 1971 Congress enshrined this date in the following resolution;

Elizabeth's picture

Richmond, KY: Where the tolerance level is shorter than the dresses

It appears the tolerance level of her neighbors was shorter than her dress. When 20-year old Kymberly Clem went to the Richmond Mall* wearing a dress she had bought there the day before, she apparently seemed too attractive to be allowed to stay. She was approached by a security guard who humiliated her and forced her to leave because he said that several women had complained to him that their husbands were staring at her. (For the basics, see these stories in the Richmond Register and Fox News. The Fox story includes a photo of the dress.)

Elizabeth's picture

Public official blows town's reserve fund on strip club.

Pop quiz - Subject: Local politics

Instructions: Read the question carefully and then select the best answer from the choices provided.

Question: Your town has a million dollars in its reserve fund. The plan is to spend it on paying off a bond that financed the town's water treatment plant. Suddenly, the plan changes. The mayor has learned that a strip club in the area has come up for sale and he wants to buy it and shut it down. He arranges the financing through an anonymous third party because he knows that the club owners would never agree to sell to the town. According to the local newspaper the city manager describes it like this:

“We knew they would never sell it to us, but a third party, who does not want to be identified, offered to buy it for us. Just before noon (Tuesday) we closed on the property, and the keys were turned over to us. They (former Cafe Risque owners) won’t find out until (today) who really bought it.”

The mayor announces this radical change in spending priorities at a standing-room-only meeting at City Hall. Which of the following do you think happened at the meeting:

a) The townspeople started heated arguments amongst themselves about the use of the money.
b) Taxpayer outrage over the diversion of funds ensued and the mayor was ultimately sanctioned.
c) The mayor received a standing ovation and then led the righteous crowd in a convoy a mile and a half to the club's parking lot, right off the freeway, where they built a bonfire and burned the signs that once advertised the Cafe Risque.


Elizabeth's picture

Quickie: Max Mosely Wins Privacy Case

Max Mosely, head of Formula One racing, won his privacy suit against the British tabloid "News Of The World." The New York Times reports

The judge, Sir David Eady, awarded Mr. Mosley, 68, damages equivalent to about $120,000 and legal costs estimated to be at least $850,000 in his lawsuit against The News of the World.

Question: Because this was a lawsuit it had to be framed in terms of a legal question, hence the focus on "press freedom" v. "individual privacy", but wouldn't this kind of thing be better discussed in terms of journalistic ethics? Instead of worrying about whether this decision represents a limiting of freedom of the British press, should the British press be discussing ways to make sure its members adhere to ethical reporting standards?

I'm all for investigative journalism, but there has to be something in the public interest to justify it. Exposing a person's private, legal, consensual sexual activity is certainly not in the public interest. It may be very interesting to the public, but that's not the same thing! 

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