Saw this picture on Twitter and just had to post it. I’ve previously mentioned that I’m fluent in three “languages“, but apparently I forgot one!
In case you missed it, on Monday the president of Uganda signed a bill into law that calls for a sentence of 14 years in jail for first-time offenders of “homosexual acts.” The law sets life imprisonment as the maximum penalty for a category of offenses called “aggravated homosexuality,” defined as repeated gay sex between consenting adults as well as acts involving a minor, a disabled person or where one partner is infected with HIV. The new law also creates the offenses of “conspiracy to commit homosexuality” as well as “aiding and abetting homosexuality,” both of which are punishable with a seven-year jail term. Those convicted of “promoting homosexuality” face similar punishment.
If there’s any good news, it’s that the law originally called for the death penalty for some homosexual acts; that penalty was removed from after an international outcry forced the hand of the Ugandan legislature. But that’s where the good news stops. The situation for LGBT individuals in Uganda has clearly worsened, and yesterday a Ugandan newspaper published a list of what is calls the country’s ”200 top” homosexuals, including outing some Ugandans who previously had not identified themselves as gay. And the witch hunt begins…
The whole time during the Olympics, we were worried about Russia, while Uganda was actively working to promote this law (which is highly supported in the country). The US response to the passage and signing of the law has been swift, with John Kerry noting that the State Department would be reviewing it’s relationship with the Ugandan government and potentially changed its stance on US aid to the nation. Desmond Tutu denounced the law, referring to Nazi Germany and apartheid-era South Africa as prime examples of what happens when politicians legislate love. He noted that “there is no scientific basis or genetic rationale for love. There is no scientific justification for prejudice and discrimination, ever. And nor is there any moral justification.”
But the recent actions in both Russia and Uganda raise a critically important question that many in the international community aren’t prepared to face. Are we demonstrating cultural imperialism by denouncing countries that pass laws like Russia and Uganda or are we merely fighting the good fight for human rights? Are we too quick to judge other countries’ social policies… and quite frankly are we hypocritical when many states in our own nation have “legislated” against love?
I do think it’s easier for those of us who sit comfortably in Western societies, protected by a backdrop of laws that guarantee certain freedoms, to criticize nations we believe to be less progressive and tolerant. But this week’s news from Arizona shows us that perhaps we aren’t as progressive as we would like to think. Should we perhaps be more sympathetic to another nation’s social policies?
I firmly believe in this case the answer is no. We aren’t talking about universal health care or socialized welfare. We’re talking about a law that potentially commits you to life in prison for marrying the person you love. We’re talking about people living in fear that they will be “discovered” as homosexuals. We’re talking about a law that potentially allows those seeking retribution to accuse others of being gay with potentially horrendous resulting punishment. We’re talking about a law that also imprisons directors of NGOs or foreign companies for merely assisting any LGBT individual; a law that affects individuals from other nations who travel to Uganda and are now afraid to provide humanitarian aid out of fear that they will be imprisoned.
It’s easy to say “oh that’s their social policy, leave them alone” when you’re sitting “across the pond” and will never be affected by it. But someone must speak up. For if we’ve learned anything from history, both that of our own nation and of the world, bad things happen when people don’t speak up. Martin Niemoller’s “First they came for the Socialists” quote is a glaring reminder of the dangers of silence.
I can’t say that I’m the biggest supporter or follower of Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi), but I saw this tweet the other day from her and couldn’t help myself. I actually think it applies more broadly than Uganda and probably to more than the LGBT community, but it’s an important sentiment.
The awesome tweet of the week goes to retired NFL receiver Donte Stallworth, who responded to a hypothetical question about recently out former Missouri defensive linemanplayer Michael Sam, who if drafted would become the first openly gay NFL football player.
Former coach Herm Edwards asked, “Can the players handle the media attention they are going to get when they get the question asked, ‘Are you okay with a gay teammate?’” in an ESPN interview Sunday night, claiming that intense media scrutiny might discourage a team from drafting Sam.
If any NFL team can’t “handle the media coverage” of drafting Sam, then your team is already a loser on the field… let me tell you why…
— Donte’ Stallworth (@DonteStallworth) February 10, 2014
Stallworth goes on to talk about how any team who can’t handle the media scrutiny of an event they can actually get a jump on will definitely not be able to handle the media scrutiny of unplanned occurrences throughout the year. Furthermore, with the number of arrests and court appearances that players make in any given year (hint… Aaron Hernandez) should be the real media spectacle.
you might be the jerk of the week if you happen to be Representative Steve Stockman (R-Texas) and tweeted the following…
I love when our politicians clearly add fuel to fire instead of trying to come up with bipartisan solutions. Really helpful.
If you have any thoughts for Representative Stockman, you can find his Facebook page here, tweet to him @StockmanSenate, or contact him directly at (202) 225-1555, at his office in Washington DC (326 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515 or on his website.
If you were just starting to have your faith in humanity restored after the dust settled from people beating each other up on Black Friday, well… there’s this
Yes that’s right, Justine Sacco made a joke about getting AIDS. That tweet put the senior director of corporate communications for IAC (InterActiveCorp – owners of OKCupid, Match.com, DailyBeast to name a few) in pretty hot water on the interwebs late last week. Not surprisingly, she is no longer employed by IAC. It’s really the second case of watching what you say, including on social media. Again, even though you CAN say whatever you want, your freedom of speech doesn’t mean your employer (and a lot of other people) wont be offended.
That said, Sacco did issue an apology… you be the judge.
Words cannot express how sorry I am, and how necessary it is for me to apologize to the people of South Africa, who I have offended due to a needless and careless tweet. There is an AIDS crisis taking place in this country, that we read about in America, but do not live with or face on a continuous basis. Unfortunately, it is terribly easy to be cavalier about an epidemic that one has never witnessed firsthand.
Funny story – I’ve never witnessed polio or smallpox… but I don’t go making jokes about them either…
By now, many of you have probably heard about the controversy surrounding the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia and the anti-LGBT laws and propaganda that have recently surfaced in Russia. You may have heard of the “DumpStoli campaign started by Dan Savage, encouraging bars to boycott Russian vodka in protest. Critics of the laws in Russia have even called for a boycott of the Olympic games themselves, with calls to the IOC to shut it down. After all, the Olympics are supposed to be about world unity, not about shameful discrimination. President Obama even stepped into the fray by cancelling a meeting with Vladimir Putin (although that was mostly due to Russia allowing Edward Snowden to leave the Moscow airport) and stating in a press conference yesterday that “nobody’s more offended than me by anti-gay legislation you’ve been seeing in Russia.”
You can read about my friend and fellow blogger BosGuy’s opinion on the Stoli boycott here, and more background on what’s going on in Russia here. Personally, I find the Stoli boycott a little misguided, considering that Stolichnaya has been an ardent supporter of the LGBT community (they aren’t dumb, they know the gays drink like fishes), and the Stoli that is sold in the US is actually produced in Latvia. The bottom line is, to quote Louis Peitzman from Buzzfeed, “we owe the LGBT community in Russia more than a frivolous conversation about which vodka to drink.”
So that begs the question, what are American corporations who sponsor the Olympics prepared to do? As someone posted on Twitter, perhaps if American corporations saw their icons associated with images like those below, they might change their tune. Many of these companies rank highly with the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index. Their continued participation with the Olympics, however, is in direct contrast to their support of LGBT rights.
I’m not normally one to get into a Twitter war with people, but I am all about defending my views. So when I read this tweet (which a follower retweeted) post DOMA decision, I couldnt help myself.
I’m sorry that your life is ruined because marriage equality is being shoved in your face. I’m sure all the LGBT folks out there who constantly have heteronormative culture shoved in their face love knowing that until yesterday they were considered second class citizens. Which I’m pretty sure is what I tweeted back yesterday.
Naturally it took her a day to respond back, at which point she told me that the Bible says so. We then traded jabs about scripture from the Bible, during which I was told that the Old Testament doesn’t matter and that modern Christians are taught to follow the New Testament because Jesus “came back and fixed it”. So apparently we’re just throwing out the Old Testament entirely, although she then countered with the age old god “would have made Adam and Steve” argument – which correct me if I’m wrong is from the Old Testament…
For the record, just because I support marriage equality, doesn’t mean I need a lesson on what’s written in the Bible. I was raised Catholic – I know what’s written in the “Good Book”.
I don’t want to take away from the monumental filibuster performed Tuesday night by Texas Senator Wendy Davis, what she did was nothing short of amazing. But anyone watching the shenanigans after it was decided that Davis’s discussion of ultrasounds was no longer germane (aka she had strayed off topic) to Texas Senate Bill 5 will surely recognize the moment that galvanized the crowd in the gallery. That moment occurred after some dispute between the Lt. Governor and Senator Leticia Van De Putte about parliamentary procedure. Van De Putte had been trying to bring a motion to adjourn the session before the Senate but was “allegedly” not recognized. She first asked, “Did the President hear me or did the President hear me and refuse to recognize me?” And then came the whammy…
At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?
And the Senate chamber erupted, setting off a 15 minute “people filibuster” which ended at 12:01am, after the midnight deadline of the Senate session, effectively killing SB5.
The tweet of the week goes to my girl @BuckeyeLinds who overheard a friend say in response to the overturning of DOMA
QOTD from friend ‘the human in me says yay, but the bridesmaid in me says DEAR GOD’
I thought this was pretty neat. Twitter has been tracking where tweets originate since the service launched, and the company is beginning to disseminate maps of where all those tweets originate. Dating back to 2009, each dot on the map represents a “geo-located” tweet, and the color indicates the volume of tweets.
Below is the Twitter map of Boston. Not surprisingly, the highest volume of tweets is downtown, Financial District, and Back Bay. But there seems to be a surprisingly high volume of tweets from the 128/95 ring and the Mass Pike…
You can see some of the other maps here, including NYC, San Francisco, North America, and Europe.
I am extremely excited to announce the launch of the METI Project. If you’re wondering what I was doing in Haiti back in January, this is it.
METI stands for Medical, Education, Training, and Infrastructure. The first METI team just arrived in Port-au-Prince today. A long week of work is ahead of them.
The METI Project is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote sustainability in healthcare through medical education, training, and improved infrastructure in under-served areas of the world. Launched in 2013 by Professional Ambulance (Pro EMS) and Pro EMS Center for MEDICS, The METI Project’s first initiative addresses critical medical needs in Haiti, one of the world’s poorest countries.
In conjunction with the St. Luke Foundation for Haiti, The METI Project will send a team of medics, paramedic students, and emergency department staff to Haiti to provide medical training and needed clinical services.
I look forward to future work with The METI Project in late June and again in October!