Category Archives: Womens’ Rights

Let’s Discuss the Ladies?

Boom: The National Rifle Association is pleased to tell us that only Donald Trump will defend our 2nd Amendment rights…which isn’t true. Now it’s running a $6.5 million ad buy telling ladies to strap on the holsters to ‘fight back.’ [Salon]  This may not only be a function of current politics – the NRA has a problem, “not enough people are buying guns.”

Gun ownership graph What we do have is an increase in the number of people who own multiple guns:

“Americans own an estimated 265m guns, more than one gun for every American adult, according to the most definitive portrait of US gun ownership in two decades. But the new survey estimates that 133m of these guns are concentrated in the hands of just 3% of American adults – a group of super-owners who have amassed an average of 17 guns each.” [Guardian]

Little wonder the manufacturers want to sell more to the ladies?  Unless, of course the ladies have  seen the actual numbers:

“If we examine data from within the United States, the odds aren’t any better for gun owners. The most recent study examining the relationship between firearms and homicide rates on a state level, published last April, found a significant positive relationship between gun ownership and overall homicide levels. Using data from 1981–2010 and the best firearm ownership proxy to date, the study found that for every 1 percent increase in gun ownership, there was a 1.1 percent increase in the firearm homicide rate and a 0.7 percent increase in the total homicide rate.” [Slate]

The Good Woman with a Gun is simply a variation on the old Good Guy with a  Gun, and neither is true.

Bust: What we could do is to have a national discussion of domestic violence and begin by taking rape, domestic violence, and assaults on women more seriously.   Jeff Van Gundy had some words for the NBA which are well worth highlighting.

Huh? There’s an anti-Question 1 ad in Nevada, showing the various law enforcement people against the proposition which would close the gun show loophole in the Silver State.  We ought to assume that these law enforcement professionals are tasked with the enforcement of NRS 203: 360 which forbids the sale of firearms to felons, fugitives, addicts, those adjudicated mentally ill, and those guilty of domestic violence.  Now the question becomes WHY would any law enforcement officer NOT want to find out if some felon, fugitive, addict, mentally ill, or domestic abuser was trying to purchase firearms at the local gun show?

Duh?  That little exchange in the Vice Presidential Debate last night about “punishing women who have abortions merits a comment or two.

Governor Pence has some antediluvian thoughts on mothers, womanhood, and the value thereof, see this piece in Alternet.   See also: Cosmopolitan;

“Though there is little doubt how extreme Pence’s anti-abortion stance is, he made it explicitly clear on the campaign trail. “I’m pro-life and I don’t apologize for it,” he said during a town hall in July. Of a Trump/Pence administration, he said, “We’ll see Roe v. Wade consigned to the ash heap of history where it belongs.”

Then there was the not-so-small matter of Pence cutting funding for Planned Parenthood in Indiana, thus cutting HIV testing for Scott County, Indiana.

“In 2011, Planned Parenthood ran five rural clinics in Indiana. They tested for HIV and offered prevention, intervention and counseling for better health. The one in Scott County performed no abortions.

Mothers-to-be in Scott County must drive 50 miles to visit a gynecologist or an obstetrician. That’s not an isolated insight. Of Indiana’s 92 counties, Scott County has ranked 92nd in unhealthiness for five straight years.” [ChiTrib]

Health professional saw what was coming when the funding was cut. They begged for help from the state. None was forthcoming. Better an AIDS epidemic in a rural area than funding which might tangentially touch abortion services?

Mr. Trump is a classic misogynist, Governor Pence is downright dangerous.

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Filed under abortion, domestic abuse, Gun Issues, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

Candles, Fireworks, and Failures: The Colorado Springs Killings

candles

There is purity in light.  Light illuminates all it touches.  We light candles in hope, in celebration, in reverence, and all too often in sorrow.  There will be candles in Colorado Springs, Colorado, some in the festive spirit of the season, others in sorrowful remembrance of those whose own light expired before its time.

French author Jean Paul Satre said of words: “Every word has consequences. Every silence, too.”  Words created the darkness that descended on Colorado Springs.  Silence created the darkness that descended on Colorado Springs.  Words and silences with consequences.

Anti-abortion radicals provided the words.  Edited words in the smear propaganda videos produced by the nefarious Center for Medical Progress. [C&L]  Provocative words from radical politicians in Congress as they launched five investigations into the activities of Planned Parenthood. [NYT]  Incendiary words, generating as the saying goes “more heat than light,” from Republican presidential candidates. [NYT] Manipulated, provocative, incendiary words created the darkness instead of providing illumination.  Worse still those manipulated, provocative, incendiary words were spread across the nation without filtration. [C&L]

It was almost as if the journalists and broadcasters who amplified these words had forgotten the power of the pen, or in these days, the pixel.  Someone decided that the “heavily edited words” in the propaganda videos counted as “news.”  And the words were unleashed before any illumination took hold. Yes, the tapes were edited for effect, certainly not for edification.  Yes, the tapes were controversial. However, no, the tapes were not authentic, truthful, or informative.  And  the message was further enhanced by the failure of editors and publishers to require that what they broadcasted and printed was authentic, truthful, and informative.

It  seems as though the editors, producers, and publishers were content with fireworks – ephemeral bursts of gaudy light, instead of a steady but less glamorous illuminating candle.

Words can challenge or comfort us.  Those manipulated, provocative, and incendiary words caused some to remember that since 1977 there have been eight murders, seventeen attempted murders, forty-two bombings, and one hundred eighty six arsons against abortion clinics and providers. [Vox] Others noted that in just the last four years states have enacted two hundred thirty one pieces of abortion restriction legislation. [Guttmacher]  Those manipulated, provocative, and incendiary words comforted and validated not only the radicals among us but also the  murderers, the bombers, and the arsonists.

Our words are our own. Once uttered they are released forever, and in the case of some media outlets may be repeated almost endlessly, looping along with stock footage and graphics.  There is a vast difference between freedom of speech, and freedom from criticism which is not always evident in the reactions to radical hyperbole.

The Center for Medical Progress, the creator of the propaganda videos, denounced the attack on the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood center, but without any acknowledgment that the attack may very well have been informed by the very videos and controversy it created. [HuffPo]  The attack began and ended at the Planned Parenthood center.  Three lives were extinguished there.

Are the radical anti-abortion advocates asking us to please don’t think ill of them because they never intended their words (and pictures) to inflame the murderers, the bombers, and the arsonists?  We’re cautioned about using scatological language in case “small ears” might be listening; do we take as much care when it’s possible small minds might be attending to the messages?

Words can’t be deflected easily.  Most of the Republican candidates sought refuge in generalizations — “everyone should tone down the rhetoric.” But whose rhetoric called abortion providers, “exterminators,” or “a criminal enterprise,” or “killers?”  [NewYorker] No one is arguing that all members of the so-called “pro-life” movement are murderers, bombers, or arsonists – only that the heated verbiage of the radicals provides inspiration and validation for those who are inclined in that direction.

And then there were the silences.

When those 231 pieces of anti-abortion legislation were being considered in State Legislature – how many voices were heard in opposition? How many pro-choice advocates crafted letters to members of those assemblies? To local editors? To local media outlets?  How many legislators decided it was safer to “go along to get along” with radicals rather than risk their wrath?

When the controversy over the video tapes flamed into the news, how many editors and producers succumbed to the temptation to air what was dramatic, flashy, and provocative before vetting the material for authenticity?  We might ask how many times news organizations must get “used” by political groups before they realize that the words and pictures they are disseminating are  propaganda and not really newsworthy?  How many times are these outlets cowered into the shallows of self referential exculpation, as in the convenient “both sides do it” narrative?

The best feature of a candle is its capacity to provide continuous illumination, without flares and flashes.  It may be dim in comparison to electric bulbs, but no illumination is without shadows.  However, to paraphrase Satre: Every candle has the capacity to illuminate. Every darkness the power of destruction.

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Filed under abortion, media, women, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

Cases of Interest in the Pipeline

 Gavel If we can tear ourselves away for a moment from the Pelagian morality play, or circus act, on stage in Kentucky, there are some other interesting cases which are winding through the U.S. courts.

Shapiro v. McManus:  A case brought by a Maryland Republican who believes the Democrats gerrymandered districts after the 2010 census.  What make this interesting is that Shapiro is contending his case should have been heard by a three judge panel – which would put it on a fast track to the Supreme Court. [ScotusBlog, Baltimore Sun]  Those watching voting rights and political cases may want to keep track of this one.

Arizona v. U.S.:  The immigration issue, and the legal status or protections related thereto, is central to this long running case based on the Papers Please Arizona law otherwise known as SB 1070. The case is back in the news:

“Challengers of Arizona’s landmark immigration law failed to show that police would enforce the statute differently for Latinos than they would for people of other ethnicities, a judge said in a ruling that dismissed the last of seven challenges to the law.

The ruling could signal the end of the case and gave a victory to backers of the law, which was approved in 2010.

In her order Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton dismissed the challenge and upheld provisions that were previously ruled on by appeals courts.” [LA Times]

Stay tuned.

Whole Women’s Health et al v. Cole:  The case has been filed by Planned Parenthood supporters in Texas challenging the “unnecessary health regulations that have the purpose or effect of presenting a substantial obstacle to a woman seeking an abortion.”  (pdf)  The petition raises some crucial questions and is highly recommended reading. (h/t Scotusblog]

Okay, if we really can’t avoid the Rowan County clerk’s exercise in liberum arbitrium, ( the moral strength of man’s will when steeled by asceticism is sufficient in itself to desire and attain the loftiest ideal of virtue ) then there are some interesting and informative articles available which go beyond sideshow reportage:

  • Marty Lederman “Further strangeness in the Kim Davis Case,” Balkinizaton blog September 7, 2015.  Mark Graber “A Different Take on Kim Davis, Balkinization, September 5, 2015.
  • Lyle Denniston “A New Legal Cloud over same-sex marriage in Kentucky,” Scotus Blog, September 3, 2015.
  • Charles J. Reid, “No Refuge in Scripture or in Law,” Huffington Post, September 5, 2015.
  • Garrett Epps, “The fatal flaw in Davis’s appeal,” Atlantic, September 2, 2015.
  • Brian Tashman, “Five Bizarre Arguments Kim Davis’ Supporters Have Used To Defend Her Lawbreaking,” Right Wing Watch, September 4, 2015.

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Filed under abortion, conservatism, Immigration, Judicial, Voting, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

St. Paul (Laxalt) and the ACA: NV joins anti-choice case

birth control pills Heaven help us. Paul Laxalt, Attorney General of the State of Nevada, has proudly announced he’s filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell

“Little Sisters of the Poor is an organization of Roman Catholic women dedicated to serving the poor. The Little Sisters and co-petitioners sued the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in response to the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate. The mandate requires religious nonprofits such as the Little Sisters to provide employees with all available forms of contraception at no cost. Facing hefty fines for non-compliance, a number of these groups have sought U.S. Supreme Court review of their case.

    “Religious organizations serve our communities in countless ways, and their contributions should be supported, not impeded by the government,” said Laxalt. “These organizations should not be fined for living in accordance with their sincerely held religious convictions. This brief encourages the Supreme Court to take the necessary steps toward ensuring that our government and our courts do not force people of faith to violate their religious beliefs.” [Laxalt]

    Here’s what he’s jumping into:

    “On July 14, 2014, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision denying the Little Sisters of the Poor and other religiously affiliated nonprofits’ request for a stay. The Court found: “The accommodation relieves Plaintiffs from complying with the Mandate and guarantees they will not have to provide, pay for, or facilitate contraceptive coverage. Plaintiffs do not “trigger” or otherwise cause contraceptive coverage because federal law, not the act of opting out, entitles plan participants and beneficiaries to coverage. Although Plaintiffs allege the administrative tasks required to opt out of the Mandate make them complicit in the overall delivery scheme, opting out instead relieves them from complicity. Furthermore, these de minimis administrative tasks do not substantially burden religious exercise for the purposes of RFRA.” In July 2015, the plaintiffs appealed this case to the Supreme Court.” [KFF.org]

    In short, the Little Sisters have a Church Plan. The Church Plan doesn’t cover contraception. This is accommodated under the exemptions to the Affordable Care Act.  Their plan does not have to “provide, pay for or otherwise facilitate contraceptive coverage.”  What’s the question?  They can opt out of the ACA provisions – but, they argue the mere act of opting out makes them “party to the scheme?”

    This gets even better – because entangled in the case is the question of whether or not the Little Sisters of the Poor (or the Christian Brothers) can prevent their employees from getting insurance covering contraception from a third party. [AU]

    The Kaiser Foundation offers this handy chart on the exemptions from the provisions of the Affordable Care Act:

    Religious Freedom Court Chart

    Thus far the provisions of the ACA have been upheld. Contrary to the anti-contraceptionists, the courts have held that the law doesn’t unduly burden anyone, and they can opt out by requesting an exemption. Period. Of course, that didn’t prevent the Little Sisters from availing themselves of the funding and efforts of the arch-conservative Becket Fund.

    Making this entire case even more incredible is the fact that as of August 2014, the government provided a second accommodation for religious non-profit organizations which as of that date only needed to “write a letter to the government in order to be relieved of any obligation to provide contraceptive coverage.” [AU]  A letter.  One single letter.

    So that an exempt religious organization doesn’t have to write one single, one paragraph letter,  the Attorney General of the state of Nevada signed on to an exceptionally spurious, often downright illogical amicus brief with his fellow Tea Party, Radical Right, Ultra-Right Wing anti-contraception amigos.

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    Filed under Health Care, health insurance, nevada health, Nevada politics, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

    Politicians Playing Doctor: There’s a difference between pro-life and pro-birth

    Pro Life

    Indeed, we do need a broader, deeper, national conversation about what being ‘pro-life” actually means.  Unfortunately, in the constricted world of some activists, the term is simply a political buzz word for “anti-abortion.”

    The buzz words are back as some Republican candidates woo their evangelical base with “pro-life” legislative proposals, such as Senator Lindsay Graham’s reintroduction of his “20 week abortion” ban bill in the U.S. Senate. [HuffPo]

    “The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which the House passed earlier this year, bans abortions after 20 weeks unless the woman’s life is in danger or she is a victim of rape or incest. The bill is based on the disputed theory that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks.  Abortions after 20 weeks are very rare and women often make the decision to end a pregnancy at that point after discovering a severe fetal anomaly that could not be detected earlier. Graham’s bill has no exception for those situations.” [HuffPo]

    The first problem with Senator Graham’s proposal is that it really doesn’t address the issue of abortion directly – 98.5% of abortions occur before the 20 weeks expire. Further, Senator Graham’s proposal would prevent the termination of a pregnancy in cases where the mother’s life is in danger, or in instances of incest and rape.  For all practical purposes, Senator Graham’s bill doesn’t outlaw abortions, it merely makes them more inconvenient – and a challenge to his proposed law (if enacted) would allow for a possible reversal of Roe v. Wade.  Which, we’d might expect is what the Pro-Birth advocates want in the first place.  If we were truly Pro-Child we’d take some other elements into consideration.

    Medical Issues

    If we are going to extend the moral argument, as Sister Joan Chittester suggests, then we do need to take those “severe fetal anomalies” under advisement.   How do we address a potential “life” for a fetus which is developing without kidneys, without a bladder, and with no prospect for lung development? [HuffPo]  The condition is known as Potter’s Syndrome, “There has not yet been a BRA baby (no kidneys, no ureters and which also has pulmonary hypoplasia) that has been reported to survive more than a few days past birth.” [PS.org]  Bless them, there are geneticists and other researchers working to pinpoint the causes and perhaps find ways to discover how to eventually eliminate this condition, but for now parents are faced with the possibility of carrying to term a fetus which will survive only a few days. Where’s the reduction of pain in that?

    Potter’s Syndrome, and some other fetal anomalies may only be discovered after the 20 week “ban” because “the ideal time to perform the second trimester ultrasound is between 20-22 weeks. While ultrasounds administered prior to 20 weeks are generally adequate to assess major organ systems, they fail to detect major cardiac, skeletal, and craniofacial anomalies, particularly those that are lethal to the fetus.” [SciPro] (emphasis added)

    “Of particular concern are two classes of fetal anomalies that cannot be detected early in a pregnancy. First are the variable-onset fetal anomalies. These anomalies begin at variable gestational ages but are often detected beyond 20 weeks. Second are the late-onset anomalies that develop late in the gestational age of the fetus, typically in the second or third trimester, or are undetectable until the abnormality is at the end-point of a pregnancy. Importantly, the 20-week bans passing across the states generally do not include exceptions for lethal fetal anomalies, meaning women are forced to carry fetuses with anomalies to term, regardless of viability.”  [SciPro]

    The only thing that may occur for certain if 20 week bans are enacted is that more families will have to endure the tragedies of anencephaly (absence of the brain above the base of the skull); renal agenesis (kidneys fail to develop); limb-body wall complex (organs develop outside the body); neural tube defects (protrusion of brain tissue through the skull or severe hydrocephaly); meningomyelocele  (openings in the vertebrae); caudal regression syndrome; lethal skeletal dysplasias (leading to respiratory failure).   These aren’t the kind of birth defects which lead to disabilities, in their severe forms they are simply and horribly lethal.

    Where in Senator Graham’s bill are the funds to assist families who have to face the bills for a complicated and often tragic birth?  Where in the Senator’s bill are the funds for further research on fatal fetal anomalies and their possible causation?   If the bill is truly “pro-life” then where are the suggested appropriations for medical research?  Why hasn’t the House of Representatives, the body in which appropriations must be introduced, addressed research needs for those studying fetal anomalies?

    Social Issues

    If the issues aren’t medical they’re social, and we know what those are.

    “Most women seeking later abortion fit at least one of five profiles: They were raising children alone, were depressed or using illicit substances, were in conflict with a male partner or experiencing domestic violence, had trouble deciding and then had access problems, or were young and nulliparous.” [Guttmacher]

    Raising children alone.”  And, how are we going to assist women who are single parents?  By cutting the funding for SNAP benefits? (food stamps) By turning the SNAP program into a block grant unit which can be further reduced at the whim of a stingy Congress?  By a Congress much more willing to subsidize the oil and gas giants, or the military manufacturers, than to offer help to a struggling mother.  By telling a single mother to “get her life together and find a husband?” [Bush 1994]  If we truly want to have fewer abortions, then the obvious thing to do is to remove the barriers to having children – including the economic ones.  Would it help the single mother if we decided that women should have equal pay if they are doing the same job as a man?

    Depressed or using illicit substances.”  Again, if we want to reduce the number of abortions, how about increasing the access to mental health programs and treatment?   Where’s the funding for mental health clinics, for out-patient services, for in-patient services? For any mental health services?

    We know that by 2012 state mental health services budgets had been pared to the bone.  [TP]  By 2011, the Kaiser Foundation was reporting that 60% of adults and 70% of children with diagnosable mental health issues were not receiving the treatment they needed.  Again, it’s one thing to vigorously announce one’s pro-life stance, and another to advocate for additional funds to support the mental health services which might make all the difference in the world to a woman who might otherwise seek an abortion.

    Using illicit substances? Once more: Where is the advocacy for more drug treatment programs?  Where is the advocacy for making drug treatment programs more readily available to lower income women whose addictions endanger their pregnancies?   Do I hear crickets?

    “…in conflict with a male partner or experiencing domestic violence.”  Have a look at the map, did your representative in Congress vote against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act?  Of the 160 Republican members of Congress who voted against the re-authorization of the law, we find the names of some who were also sponsors of Graham’s original S. 1670 abortion ban bill.  Who sponsored Graham’s  bill but voted against reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act?   Answer: Senators Mitch McConnell, John Cornyn, John Thune, John Barrasso, Roy Blunt, Tim Scott, Orrin Hatch, Charles Grassley, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Pat Roberts,  James Inhofe, Mike Johanns, John Boozman, James Risch, Tom Coburn, Ron Johnson, Jeff Sessions, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul.  (Presidential candidates underlined)

    How, exactly, does it make any sense at all to sponsor legislation to outlaw later term abortions while voting against a bill which sought to alleviate one of the five primary reasons women were seeking an abortion in the first place?

    “…had trouble deciding and then had access problems.”   This seems to be the point of the anti-abortionists.  Legislate bans on later term abortions while enacting state laws closing down medical facilities which provide abortion services.  Perhaps it has not occurred to the Senators that lower income women may have trouble gathering the financial resources to get an abortion, and by the time they do – the clock’s run out on them. If simply “attending” to the possible pain of fetus (and that’s certainly debatable) is the reason for the bill – then the obvious way to solve the problem is to make it easier for a woman who wants to terminate a pregnancy earlier.  Obviously, that’s not the point.   The idea is to prevent the abortion – so, now we ought to address Sister Joan’s contentions – Where’s the funding for the nutrition, for the education, for the housing, for the day care, for the CHILD?

    “…were young and nulliparous”  Nulliparous, fellows, is the term for a woman who has never before borne a child.   Morning sickness isn’t the only early signal – there’s shortness of breath, sore breasts, a need for a nap, shifts in the sense of smell, mood swings, and hunger.  How many young women who’ve never been pregnant before can put all the signals together? And, how many don’t have the necessary information from parents or from sex education or health classes to put the signals into a coherent pattern?  It’s entirely possible that a pregnant teen would miss the signals until “it’s too late.” Please spare me the sermonizing; abstinence only classes aren’t going to help the kids figure out what’s going on.  If a person wants to be pro-life, then it would behoove the individual to advocate for health education which addresses just when “life” is about to sprout.

    Pro-Life Pro-Birth

    Those who wave their Pro-Life signs won’t convince me the signs mean anything more than a call for politicians to enact anti-abortion bills unless, and until, those signs are accompanied by an equal effort to insure that every child is adequately fed, securely housed, cared for while parents work, attending a quality pre-school program, attending a well resourced school, clothed appropriately for the season, receiving needed medical, dental, hearing, and vision services.   That’s Pro-Life; the ideological and judgmental anti-abortion crowd is merely Pro-Birth. Please adjust your signage accordingly.

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    Filed under abortion, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

    Domestic Violence: When do the excuses stop?

    Domestic Violence

    This weekend a domestic violence issue in Texas transitioned into an assault on the Dallas Police Department. Early reports give every impression of a man, out of control in every way imaginable, extending his personal sense of outrage to his local law enforcement authorities.  “After the shootout at police headquarters, the suspect called 911 and gave a four- to five-minute rant, accusing of police of being to blame for him losing custody of a child,…” [CNN]

    There was an incident in Montana last week that barely attracted much attention at all.  Augustine Bournes killed his wife and three children, June 11, 2015.  The children were all under the age of 6.  He set fire to their home, and then took his own life. [NYDN]   He was “anti-government and unhappy with his life.”  There’s a term for this pathology: Family Annihilators.  Pehaps the most tragic comment about the incident came from a relative: “People tried to tell him he needed to get help,” 35-year-old Starla Shannon said Wednesday. “He said he’d rather go to a vet than a doctor.”

    There’s no question the Family Annihilators and the Public Attack Perpetrators are a distinct minority subset of those who commit or are involved in domestic violence.  However, they do set the peg for the extreme end of the spectrum.

    The Excuses

    Unfortunately for any rational discussion, the peg is inserted in swampy terrain, territory in which men are supposedly victimized by a culture that no longer provides Hollywood staple John Wayne-esque characters as role models (as if that were a model to be emulated), or fears of the expressions of male sexuality (as if ‘a little groping just happens naturally’ down at the garage), or Big Government obscures the origins of the “true source of oppression, (whatever in the world that might mean), or men’s natural expression of free speech is truncated by feminine criticism of those who don’t understand that ‘privilege’ begets a perspective which doesn’t necessarily include the lives of women or minorities.   There are other supposedly “pro male” excuses for male disaffection, such as the “lie” about equal pay; because it is said men work at more dangerous jobs? (Missing the point that the call is for equal pay for equal work, the last portion being conveniently omitted.

    And then we get to the domestic arrangements – wherein women falsely accused men of rape, and women get the benefit of the doubt in court in terms of child custody and alimony or child support payments.

    The Delusions

    “There are people in every time and every land who want to stop history in its tracks. They fear the future, mistrust the present and invoke the security of a comfortable past, which in fact, never existed.” [Robert Kennedy, Chicago, 1963]

    Okay, in 763 BC the Romans adopted the Law of Chastisement, allowing husbands to beat their wives, and in the 14th century the Church advised a little spousal abuse for her “spiritual improvement.”  However,  we also know that by 1600 there were shelters for women – they called them convents.  In 1871 both Alabama and Massachusetts declared wife beating a crime. [StM]   Thus, if a wife abuser is seeking a “comfortable past” be advised it hasn’t exists in the last 144 years.

    Another useless excuse is that “they – meaning women – do it too!” The misogynists among us are fond of providing statistics which “prove” women are also engaged in spousal and domestic abuse.  The stuffing comes out of this straw man quickly.  No one is saying all spousal abuse is done by men – but a sizable proportion of it certainly is.

    A study of the reports of intimate partner violence between 1994 and 2010 found that 4 out of 5 victims were female. [NDVH]  The American Bar Association’s study of domestic violence found that:

    (1) “Access to firearms yields a more than five-fold increase in risk of intimate partner homicide when considering other factors of abuse, according to a recent study, suggesting that abusers who possess guns tend to inflict the most severe abuse on their partners.”

    (2) “Of females killed with a firearm, almost two-thirds were killed by their intimate partners. The number of females shot and killed by their husband or intimate partner was more than three times higher than the total number murdered by male strangers using all weapons combined in single victim/single offender incidents in 2002.”

    Therefore, we should rid ourselves of the delusions that (1) slapping the little lady around is good for them because the Romans did it; (2) it’s just as bad for men; and (3) a gun in the home will make things safer.

    Home Not So Sweet Home

    Nevada could do a much better job of preventing the instances of domestic and intimate partner violence, and violence against women and families in general. Our current statistics could use some improvement. The Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence reported that for 2014 there were 65,026 contacts; 40,927 were for the first time; 15,534 were repeats; and 8,565 were follow ups. 1,091 adults needed shelter for 22,040 ‘bednights.’ 1,178 children were sheltered for 26,390 bednights. Most of the adults sheltered were between the ages of 30 and 44. Among those sheltered 12,096 were Caucasian, 3,396 were African American, and 7,725 were Hispanic.  Those numbers provide some context for the trauma.  Other numbers illustrate the strain on the system

    Law enforcement was contacted 12,999 times, arrests were made 6,830 times. In 5,589 incidents arrests were not made. Police reports were made 481 times, temporary orders of protection were issued 11,354 times.  There were 4,520 court appointments, and 18,540 individual counseling sessions.

    Looking for Solutions

    First, and foremost, let’s make an attempt to alleviate the problem of escalating domestic violence by enacting common sense gun laws.

    Local law enforcement authorities should have the power to immediately remove firearms from any home in which they have been called to deal with an incident of domestic violence – for their own safety if nothing else. [TCJ] [KMGH]  And, for the safety of the spouses and children the firearms should be locked up in police custody during the period covered by an order of protection.

    Background checks should be expanded to private and gun show sales, and should include any records of domestic violence, stalking, or harassment.  No firearms should be sold to any person who is currently under a restraining order – temporary or extended.

    Funds should be appropriated to adequately staff those agencies which keep records of criminal behavior, including incidents of domestic violence, the adjudication of mental health status, and the approval of temporary and extended orders of protection.

    The state should require that all firearms in a home be kept locked when not in the immediate process of being maintained.

    If we can take some small steps to create a safer environment for women and children, then we can better consider how to develop strategies for improving our society.  It would be helpful if we’d think beyond the extreme forms of firearm violence (Columbine, Va Tech, etc. or Montana and Dallas) and improve the way we deliver the message about violence and its results in general terms.  For example, behaviors like bullying are unacceptable, whether it’s bullying members of minority groups, women, or children.  Period.  Every school, public and private alike, should be required to update and upgrade their anti-bullying policies.

    Getting a better grip on history wouldn’t be a bad idea either.  Yes, 14th century Europeans were encouraged to “beat the women” but those aren’t the best role models.  Edward I of England was a fearsome warrior with a sound reputation on the battlefield, and a person known for being troublesome if not downright petulant.  However, when it came to his domestic life things were quite different.  His marriage in 1254 to Eleanor of Castile was by all accounts a genuine life-long romance. Her death at Harby in November 1290 left him devastated.  Some of the visible reminders of his love and loss can still be seen in that country – as in Charing Cross (Chere Reine, or Beloved Queen).  There are far better role models available throughout history, even European medieval,  than the thuggish peasant “improving his wife.”

    At the extreme, the Montana family annihilator would rather have gone to a veterinarian than a psychiatrist – and that’s a sad tale in itself.  We’ve done a relatively poor job of diminishing the stigma attached to mental illnesses in this country. We could and should do better.  No one would sit around contemplating whether to get treatment for a broken arm – why would or should anyone not seek treatment for a broken mind?  We’d not let a person with a dangerously high fever stay away from a hospital – so why do we not have services immediately available for family members who are coping with a person who is experiencing mental instability?  And, those services should be provided in a setting which isn’t the county jail!

    Stop letting the perfect become the enemy of the possible or even the pragmatic.  Opponents of common sense gun regulation, those who don’t wish to make the investment in mental health care services, and even those who have mistakenly analogized boorishness for masculinity, repeat the mantra that “it (whatever solution is proposed) won’t prevent tragedies from happening.  True. However, that doesn’t negate the improvements which could be made if we’d try.  Laws against bank robbery don’t prevent the criminals among us from trying, but they do provide for a place to put them when they are caught.  Increasing the number of mental health care facilities and programs will not provide 100% security – but it would be better than what we have at the moment. And, providing anti-bullying and anger management programs and projects at an early age won’t mean that some erratic person won’t engage in violent behavior – but the incidents prevented before they ever happen will reduce the strain on our educational, police, and health care services.

    A productive perspective will do more to accomplish the reduction in domestic violence and related homicides than sitting stone silent wrapped in the fear a solution might not produce 100% success.  Franklin Roosevelt had two sentences for that:

    “It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”

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    Filed under Gun Issues, Nevada, Nevada politics, violence, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

    TLC got Duggared?

    Deuteronomy

    I’m wondering why anyone was particularly surprised by the revelation that one of the male members of the Clan Duggar molested his sisters and a babysitter.  Information about the Quiverfull Cult has been easily available since at least 2009, and as Newsweek described it the cult is a ready-made environment for the abuse of women and female children.

    “At the heart of this reality-show depiction of “extreme motherhood” is a growing conservative Christian emphasis on the importance of women submitting to their husbands and fathers, an antifeminist backlash that holds that gender equality is contrary to God’s law and that women’s highest calling is as wives and “prolific” mothers.” [Newsweek]

    What follows is a loose network of extreme fundamentalists who value the creation of sons (daughters are just the potential mothers thereof), offer much militaristic palaver, and espouse the ultimate political message: If we can’t defeat our opponents now, then we can simply overwhelm them with our progeny later.  In this milieu family planning and gender equity must be eradicated to prevent the further “destruction” of society.  The desired result is a patriarchy in which godly women are submissive wives and mothers.  In short, it’s back to the Bronze Age.

    Network “Difficulties”

    TLC, which has devolved from an educational cable channel into a sideshow, decided airing a program about an extremely large family would attract viewers – an audience perhaps analogous to those who show up to view train wrecks – and it did, garnering some $25 million in ad revenue, a tidy profit since the network is paying the family approximately $40,000 per episode. [EW]  What happens to the show, (1) it continues; (2) it changes focus to a new family, or (3) it’s dropped may, well depend on whether TLC can find sponsors after Walgreen’s, Payless, General Mills, and Ace Hardware headed for the exits.

    I’d feel some compassion for the network, but … first, this is what can happen when the felt need to provide content which appeals to the lowest common denominator overcomes the discussion about providing quality content.  The Network was “deeply saddened” to have to yank its re-runs in the wake of the Duggar Scandal, perhaps because it was drawing about 1 million viewers per nightly episode. [THR]  Just for a little perspective,  Game 1 of the NBA finals grabbed  14.37 million viewers. [TVBN]  Perhaps TLC should have learned a short lesson when A&E dropped the prime character in Duck Dynasty after his egregious commentary, after the Food Network had similar problems with Paula Deen, and especially after the network itself got entangled in the Honey Boo Boo fest; a lesson that when you are dealing with extremists don’t be surprised when they behave that way.

    Secondly, the network might have known it was treading in dangerous terrain when some of the other prime characters in the Patriarchal Posse were also exposed  experiencing moral meltdowns.

    In November 2013 the leader of Vision Forum Ministries confessed to an illicit affair, and the organization closed up shop. This was the anti-contraceptive advocacy group which gave Michelle Duggar that “mother of the year award.”  VFM wasn’t the only part of the Patriarchal Posse experiencing problems – we should add the conservative Institute in Basic Life Principles to the roster.

    The IBLP, from whom the Duggars sought guidance, was “shocked” when leader Bill Gothard found himself facing allegations of “sexual abuse from dozens of women associated with his organization.” [Wire] All this might lead a person to wonder: Didn’t anyone learn anything from the sad saga of Jim and Tammy Fay Baker?

    A network shouldn’t have to wait for a summation like the following before getting a clue that some programming might not be appropriate for prime time viewing;

    “The “pitch” of Biblical patriarchy, as epitomized by Michelle Duggar, is that women will be coddled and worshipped in exchange for giving up their ambitions and the autonomy to practice an extreme form of female submission. The unpleasant truth is that a culture that teaches that women are put on Earth for no other purpose but to serve men is not going to breed respect for women. Instead, these incidents show a world where men believe they can do whatever they want to women without repercussions. Is it any surprise that a subculture that promises absolute control over women will attract men who want to dominate and hurt women? Don’t believe the TLC hype. Biblical patriarchy is a sour, dangerous world for women, and luckily, that reality is finally being outed.” [TDB]

    A commercial enterprise

    CNN once explored what components tended to create a television program with lasting popularity.  Its review indicated the following: “Culture watchers say a constellation of factors make a TV program last: great writers, producers and actors; a good concept; room to grow with a strong ensemble cast offering multiple story lines; a desirable time slot; audience comfort; loyal network support; and the public’s fickle taste — the wild card.” 

    This is all well and good, but doesn’t address one of the primary considerations in television  – the cost.  Not-Quite-Reality Shows are relatively cheap to produce, ranging from $100,000 to $500,000 per episode.  In comparison, at its peak ER was costing approximately $13 million per episode,  Friends cost about $10 million per program, and Deadwood cost about $4.5 million per episode. [Marketplace]  In short, hiring quality writers, producers, and developing an ensemble cast presenting multiple story lines isn’t anything close to cheap.  And, the bottom line is still the bottom line:

    “TLC was even rebranded with “Life Unscripted” as its slogan in the mid-’90s, “Live and Learn” in the mid-2000s and “Life Surprises” in the late-2000s. Since undergoing this rebranding, the channel has shaken its poor ratings and has become one of the primary sources for reality shows. Undoubtedly, the success of shows like “Jon & Kate Plus 8” contributed to the recent surge in market price for TLC’s parent company, Discovery, in 2008-2009.” [Investopedia]

    This is the point at which “audience comfort” clashes with “corporate earnings.”  The television audience wants to feel positively about the characters – real, cartoon, ‘reality,’ or actors – in their homes. Portrayals on the screen should be enough ‘like us’ to be sympathetic (or an obvious villain) but not so much ‘like us’ that they are as un-dramatic as our quotidian existences.  We still require the old standard elements — focus, tension, timing, rhythm, contrast, mood, space, language, sound, symbolism, conflict, climax, and resolution, in order to label a show as one of genuine quality.  This can get expensive.

    When there is a plethora of small networks clamoring for our attention there may also be a temptation to broadcast the most contrasting, most dramatic, and most conflicted – i.e. most titillating  fare.  The marketplace enters the formula when the cost of production, the expense of broadcasting, and the willingness of advertisers to purchase air time are all taken into consideration.  We should also attend to the financial elements like syndication, after-run DVD sales, and other revenue factors.  However, we will still ultimately receive what the advertisers are willing to pay for.

    When, for example, advertisers are unwilling to associate their brand with “a sour, dangerous world for women” then shows such as the Duggar’s will be terminated.

    In the mean time, does Josh Duggar owe someone many shekels?

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    Filed under conservatism, Economy, media, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

    GOP Far Away Land: Solutions in Search of Problems

    Alien Planet guns

    It’s like they live on another planet.  Republican legislators in Carson City appear to be marching to the same off beat drum kit as their Washington, D.C. counterparts.  Have problems with infrastructure? Education? Revenue? Income inequality? Unemployment? The solution is (staccato drum roll) Pass more laws on abortion! Allow more guns everywhere!

    The Single Song Sallies of the Nevada GOP are absorbed by these two.  Assemblyman Ira Hansen (R-NV backwater) proposes the following:

    “AN ACT relating to abortions; revising provisions regulating an abortion performed on a pregnant woman who is a minor or a ward; requiring notification of a parent or guardian under certain circumstances before a physician performs such an abortion; providing expedited procedures for petitioning a court for judicial authorization to proceed without such notification; providing civil liabilities and criminal penalties; and providing other matters properly relating thereto.”

    How this bit of anti-choice legislation addresses employment, economic diversification, educational funding, transportation, infrastructure, local government resources, provisions for mental health services, or any other major issue facing the state is pure conjecture.  The nationwide abortion rate among those under 15 years of age is negligible for the period 1990 to 2007, and abortions for those aged 15 to 18 years has declined from 21,800 in 1990 to 16,200 as of 2007. [CensusCDC]  This decline mirrors the overall decline in teen pregnancies, which in turn is linked to economic considerations, more contraceptives, and more information (read: sex education). [Pew] However, Big Daddy Government Types exemplified by Assemblyman Hansen, won’t be satisfied until every woman has to carry every man’s fetus to term.  And for this, time is being taken from taxation and budget consideration in the Assembled Wisdom.

    Meanwhile, Assemblywoman Michele “Take Baking Soda for your Cancer” Fiore (R-NRA) would be happy to attach her Guns Galore amendment to any bit of legislation she can find. [LVRJ]  She lost the vote, 24-18 in the Assembly, but she’ll be back before the end of the session on June 1. [LTN]

    What makes coping with single issue ideologues like Hansen and Fiore so frustrating is that Nevada does have some serious issues which need to be addressed.  Education, which was supposed to be the central feature of this legislative session, has some problems. For instance, Nevada schools ranked 50th in “overall state grades,” and 36th in K-12 achievement, 45th in standards and assessments, and 46th in school finance. [leg.state.nv]  The American Society of Civil Engineering grades Nevada a C- in infrastructure.  We “earned” a D+ in dams, and we have 36 bridges which are deemed “structurally deficient.”  The Mental Health Association reports the following in regard to Nevada’s mental health services: “The five states with the highest prevalence of mental illness and the lowest rates of access to care were Louisiana (47), Washington (48), Nevada (49), Mississippi (50) and Arizona (51).”

    Speaking to the income inequality issue, Nevada’s not in a very good position in that regard either:  “The states in which all income growth between 2009 and 2012 accrued to the top 1 percent include Delaware, Florida, Missouri, South Carolina, North Carolina, Connecticut, Washington, Louisiana, California, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Idaho, Massachusetts, Colorado, New York, Rhode Island, and Nevada.”

    Now, can we please talk about something other than government so small it can fit inside every vagina, and guns galore?

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    Filed under abortion, Gun Issues, Mental Health, Nevada legislature, Nevada politics, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

    News of Note

    newspapers 1

      Stay tuned, today’s agenda in the Assembled Wisdom includes a vote on the foundation of Governor Sandoval’s tax and revenue plan.

    “The state senate is expected to take a vote on Gov. Brian Sandoval’s Business License Fee bill, the main business tax component of his overall $1.1 billion plan in new and extended taxes.

    If the senate fails to pass Gov. Sandoval’s bill, it will be a sign that any tax plan to fund the governor’s proposed $7.3 billion general fund budget will not be completed by the end of the Legislature’s regular session, which is scheduled to end after the first week in June.”  [RGJ]

    And, BTW, Attorney General Tea Party (Laxalt) is quick to inform us that his dive into the anti-immigration lawsuit, isn’t anti-immigrant.   Right. It’s just about the “Rule of Law,” and Congress should be acting on immigration reform, not the President.   And, if you believe this I have some lovely (but rather arid) cliff side real estate I’d love to sell you.  We might also note that the comprehensive immigration policy reforms were hammered out in 2013 and the GOP hasn’t seen fit to allow the package to see the floor since.  Or, as AZ Central points out:

    Though some Republicans last year argued that a GOP-run U.S. House and U.S. Senate might be inclined to tackle immigration reform early this year — and national Republicans have stressed the need to get the issue off the table before the 2016 presidential election — most observers now say there appears to be little chance for far-reaching legislation along the lines of the 2013 Senate-passed bill negotiated by the bipartisan “Gang of Eight.”

    So, it’s 2017 – if then – before the Congressional leadership has any interest in tackling the issue?

    Meanwhile, prominent passenger in the GOP Presidential Race Clown Car, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, is hauling out the old canard – the very old canard – that even legal immigration is a threat to American workers.

    “In terms of legal immigration, how we need to approach that going forward is saying — the next president and the next Congress need to make decisions about a legal immigration system that’s based on, first and foremost, on protecting American workers and American wages. Because the more I’ve talked to folks, I’ve talked to [Alabama Sen. Jeff] Sessions and others out there — but it is a fundamentally lost issue by many in elected positions today — is what is this doing for American workers looking for jobs, what is this doing to wages. And we need to have that be at the forefront of our discussion going forward,”  [HuffPo]

    This one’s been debunked so many times it’s hard to keep track of the volume. but that won’t prevent the GOP from hauling it out once again.  No, they “aren’t taking our jobs,” and calls for full deportation would Negatively Impact our economy, and if you want the best information on the subject – which is not coming from right wing Republicans and their pet media outlets – that’s still the 2013 CBO report (FactCheck) and related reports from the CBO the links for which are HERE.

    However, immigration policy reform isn’t the only casualty in this 18 months before the election hysteria from the right.  The propaganda mill is working overtime.  Additionally, some of the same donors who’ve brought us extreme right wing politics are funding the highly questionable “research” by Peter Schweiser’s Government Accountability Institute.   This doesn’t mean the internecine warfare among the occupants of the Clown Car will diminish any time soon.  The Cruz of the Mouth Club is claiming that Rubio and Walker are “wimping out” on Gun Rights.   The 20 week abortion ban seems to be one of the major points for Republicans in the primary season, even though Planned Parenthood notes that nearly 99% of all abortions take place before 21 weeks.

    Biggest Losers:  The jerks who vandalized a memorial, including killing a newly planted tree, to Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO.

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    Filed under abortion, Gun Issues, Immigration, Nevada legislature, nevada taxation, Republicans, Womens' Rights

    Rant: The Junior High Boys Club and Domestic Abuse and Violence

    Rant in Progress Every misogynistic rant from Rush Limbaugh gives them permission to slap the little woman around.  Every hyperventilating right winger who spouts off on the wussification of America gives them permission to use a belt on the kids. 

    Every time the buddies excuse his behavior with anything from “Boys will be boys,” to “she had it coming,” he feels more entitled to demonstrate his God-given authority over women.  “I’m a real guy! And, if she doesn’t want it she must be frigid or a lesbian.”  In other words, some fellows never really got out of junior high.

    The Junior High Boy Boors Band

    So it’s no surprise to find we have a  hedge fund employee at Swiss Performance Management & Fiduciary AG who thought it amusing to grab the posterior of a female bartender, and then rage when she publicized his behavior.

    “That f–king c–t, for her to do something like that is pretty ridiculous, I will make sure she doesn’t get another job in New York City. I know everybody. The bar owners, the club owners – that’s a terrible thing to write about somebody.” [C&L]

    His Twitter buddies found his comments acceptable, and worthy of encouragement.  Do we suppose it would curb his performances if the firm were to sit him down for a one hour sensitivity training session?  Two hours?  This appears to be the answer the National Football League is giving to the question of domestic violence, to wit:

    “The memo he issued Thursday says: “These initial sessions will begin to provide the men and women of the NFL with information and tools to understand and recognize domestic violence and sexual assault. We will work with the NFL Players Association to develop and present this training in the most effective way.” [ESPN]

    Thus, in the next 30 days the League personnel and its staff will “undergo training in on the prevention of domestic violence and sexual assault.” [ESPN]   Let’s indulge in some speculation.  First, most of the people undergoing the training don’t need it.  Most of them understand what outrageous and disrespectful behavior is when they see it.  Most don’t condone it, and most will sit politely through whatever sessions are provided because they already know that domestic violence and the degradation of women is unwarranted; and, they already have the information necessary  to “understand and recognize domestic violence and sexual assault.”

    Secondly, the Junior High Crowd won’t get it.  They already know what domestic violence is, and they are perfectly aware of what constitutes sexual assault.   They, like the Entitled Hedge Fund employee, simply don’t think the rules apply to them.   When she says, “NO,” it means “YES,” because having no self restraint, little self control, and still less self esteem they have to have what they want when they want it.   If they can’t dominate the ‘weaker sex’ who can they dominate? – and they have to dominate someone.

    If she rejects them then she’s a C—, or a B—, or a D—because surely no right minded woman would fail to be impressed by their righteous hyper-masculinity?  If she fights back physically, then “of course, she’s asking for it” if she doesn’t accept her beat down, by their dim lights.  Surely, the Junior High Boys reason, if she’s fighting back then that means she’s participating in domestic violence too!  Their imaginations don’t take them much further than, “I have money,” or “I have power,” or “I have the world’s coolest job.” How could anyone not do exactly what I want, when I want?

    One ESPN analyst, former coach Herman Edwards, nailed it this afternoon  when he opined that some players came to the NFL having never been held accountable for their actions or their attitudes, and he’s right. However, others offered excuses such as the horrible home lives some NFL players have endured as a possible reason for their criminal conduct.  Slow down here a moment.  Do we suspect that the obnoxious hedge fund manager comes from a dysfunctional home?  Do we automatically assume the posterior grabbing boor in the bar comes from a poverty stricken, violent home? Probably not. 

    If poverty and broken families were the drivers of domestic violence and sexual assault then why do the statistics demonstrate conclusively that this behavior cuts across ethnic and  economic lines?  Women aren’t necessarily at greater risk from a Black, White, Rich, Poor, man.  They are at risk when they are in the company of a Boor/Goon, and Boors/Goons come in all types imaginable.

    Changing the Cheers

    Assuming we want the Boors/Goons to change their behaviors: What factors drive changes in behavior? We know from research since the 1950s that there are some basics: 

    “Behavioral change theorists now agree on eight factors known to influence behavior: (1) intention, (2) environmental constraints, (3) skills, (4) attitudes, (5) norms, (6) self-standards, (7) emotion, and (8) self-efficacy.” [HarvardFRP]

    So, we know that a well intentioned individual, who is not stressed by environmental factors, who has developed some coping and interpersonal skills, and who has positive attitudes is not going to be a member of the Junior High Boys Band of Boors.  Nor will a person who has internalized the norms of acceptable social behavior, has high expectations he can meet his own personal standards, and who feels empowered to reach those goals.

    Yet here’s the problem for the Wall Street Hedge Firm, the National Football League, and perhaps even Bill’s Garage on South Elm Street.  How do you hire people who aren’t going to drive customers away, who aren’t going to tarnish your brand, your reputation, by being Boors?  Here’s where ‘corporate culture’ comes into play.

    “Sometimes people change their behavior depending on whom they are with.  They might want to behave in a certain way to fit in with their friends and then start taking those behaviors as habits of their own.  They may learn by watching others and decide that they want to do those behaviors as well.” [Sci360]

    If the behaviors are ‘good’ and socially acceptable, not to mention legal, then all’s well. However, if the negative, unacceptable, behavior is being rewarded by peers and co-workers,  and  even some elements of the media, eventually the firm, the league, or the garage owner is going to be faced with public humiliation.  He might have been one of the best money men, transmission specialists, or interior lineman – but once he humiliates the boss all bets are off. Or are they?

    When the NFL initially handed down a two game suspension to Ray Rice the reaction was swift and vehement.  [USAT]  Unfortunately, there were those who pontificated that the actions were part of the “feminizing” and “chickifying” of football.

    “We’re feminizing this game. It’s a man’s game and if we keep feminizing this game we’re gonna ruin it. If we keep chickifying this game we’re gonna ruin it. It’s gonna become something it was never intended to be, and so many men now, executives in the league and sports Drive-Bys are in a race to see who can be the most politically correct feminized guy. It’s comical to watch this.” [Limbaugh, WaPo]

    No, there’s nothing comical at all about reinforcing socially unacceptable, or downright criminal, behavior. There’s actually little to differentiate Mr. Limbaugh’s comments from those made by the friends of the odious bar patron from the hedge fund.  What the hedge fund, the National Football League (and perhaps our hypothetical garage) needs to decide is whether the opinions expressed by the associates of the repellant bar patron, like those expressed by Mr. Limbaugh, are representative of the corporate culture.

    Changing the Culture

    On the bright side, the NFL Commissioner announced the hiring of staff whose task it will be to advise the league on domestic violence and abuse issues – a former prosecutor with the Manhattan DA’s sex crimes unit, a former Liz Claiborne executive who founded an organization to alleviate domestic violence, and a former head of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.  All women. Additionally, Anna Isaacson will move from “neighborhood affairs” into a role as VP of Social Responsibility. [DailyNewsSen]  The Commissioner also suggested the formation of a committee which will deal with domestic violence and abuse (and other) personal conduct considerations, on par with the Competition Committee.

    The not-so-bright side of the NFL seems to be that it takes something like an off the Richter Scale earth moving event to get its corporate attention – former players  had to commit suicide or delve into the depths of dementia before the Health Committees decided to get serious about the dangers of concussions.  The national audience had to be witness to the miserable treatment and abuse dished out by locker room bullies in Miami before the League investigated.  Anheuser-Busch, Pepsi, Campbell Soup, and Radisson had to firmly and publicly disavow the lenient policy on domestic abuse of any kind before the League decided it needed a Social Responsibility Office.

    This suggests one more lesson for the hypothetical garage, the hedge fund, and the NFL – there’s an inconvenient but useful management style, once popular but now somewhat out of date; it was called Management by Moving Around – literally telling managers to get out from behind the desk and find out what was happening on the shop floor.  Perhaps the individuals in the new Social Responsibility office will move from 280 Park Avenue and into venues in which they are more likely to come into contact with players, coaches, and team owners.   The distance problem isn’t anything the NFL hasn’t dealt with before.

    Team owners and coaches were “shocked, Shocked I say” to find out that bullying, harassment, and intimidation were happening in the Miami Dolphins organization.  National media attention, a nasty scandal, and some personnel changes later and  the League office got at least a tenuous grip on the issue.  More “management by moving around” might have prevented that issue  from becoming an embarrassment, as it might alleviate some of the problems associated with boorish and violent players.

    It shouldn’t take national mortification before corporations, companies, and professional athletic leagues understand the dangers of negative behavior on the part of their employees.   However, once in the limelight we can only hope the chorus from the righteous makes the lamentations from the Boors imperceptible.

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    Filed under domestic abuse, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights