May Recommended Reading

restroom_viaMikeGiffordAt the end of each month I compile links to articles I found thought-provoking over that month, categorized with pull-quotes for your perusal and edification. Each of these is a story that made me stop and think, and hopefully one or two of them will do the same for you.

LGBTQ+ Rights:

Obama to name Stonewall 1st national monument for gay rights – Josh Lederman

“New York’s iconic Stonewall Inn, where the modern gay rights movement took root, will become the first national monument honoring the history of gays and lesbians in the U.S. under a proposal President Barack Obama is preparing to approve. Designating the small swath of land will mark a major act of national recognition for gay rights advocates and their struggles over the last half-century. Since the 1969 uprising in Greenwich Village, the U.S. has enacted anti-discrimination protections, allowed gays and lesbians to serve openly in the U.S. military and legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.”

US Justice Department: HB2 violates Civil Rights Act – Jim Morrill

U.S. Justice Department officials repudiated North Carolina’s House Bill 2 on Wednesday, telling Gov. Pat McCrory that the law violates the U.S. Civil Rights Act and Title IX – a finding that could jeopardize billions in federal education funding.The department gave state officials until Monday to respond “by confirming that the State will not comply with or implement HB2.”

The letter says HB2, which pre-empted Charlotte’s anti-discrimination ordinance, violates Title IX, which bars discrimination in education based on sex, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which bans employment discrimination.If the finding is upheld, North Carolina could lose federal education funding. During the current school year, state public schools received $861 million. In 2014-2015, the University of North Carolina system got $1.4 billion.”

11 States Sue Obama Administration Over Transgender Rules – Dominic Holden and Chris Geidner

The suit argues that the Obama administration has overreached by interpreting civil rights laws that ban discrimination on the basis of sex to also cover transgender people. ‘Defendants’ rewriting of Title VII and Title IX is wholly incompatible with Congressional text,’ the states say.

In response, Justice Department spokeswoman Dena Iverson said in a statement to BuzzFeed News that ‘while the Department will review the complaint, the federal government has strong legal foundations to uphold the civil rights of transgender Americans.’ ”

All-Gender Bathroom Bill Breezes Through California Legislature – Nicole Knight Shine

The legislation passed by the California State Assembly requires all single-stall bathrooms in any business, government agency, or public establishment to be open to all genders. California law already permits students to use bathrooms consistent with their gender identity.

‘We just sent a powerful message to the nation,’ Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), the author of AB 1732, said Monday in a statement. ‘This is a simple, safe, and respectful alternative to the hate being legislated in other states.’ ”

What Trans Men See That Women Don’t – Charlotte Alter

Experiences of trans men can provide a unique window into how gender functions in American society. In the last few months, I’ve interviewed nearly two dozen trans men and activists about work, relationships and family. Over and over again, men who were raised and socialized as female described all the ways they were treated differently as soon as the world perceived them as male. They gained professional respect, but lost intimacy. They exuded authority, but caused fear. From courtrooms to playgrounds to prisons to train stations, at work and at home, with friends and alone, trans men reiterated how fundamentally different it is to experience the world as a man.”


Behind The Photo That Changed The Boston Marathon Forever – David Davis

“Her run, and the photos, changed the lives of all female runners. The AAU suspended Switzer (as well as Miller), but the uproar over the incident turned her into an international icon and transformed women’s distance running into a cause célèbre. As Julia Chase-Brand, herself a pioneering runner, recently observed in Marathon & Beyond magazine, ‘The iconic photos of this encounter clinched it: American women were not going to be pushed off the roads, and now a sports issue became a feminist issue—which of course it always had been.’ ”

Rape is common. So why don’t we believe rape victims? – Emily Crockett

“Rape is incredibly common (about one in five women experience sexual assault), and false reports are rare (2 to 8 percent). So if a woman comes forward about being raped, Occam’s razor suggests she’s probably telling the truth. But our tendency as a society is to assume the opposite — that any explanation other than rape, however implausible, must be the correct one. Did she willingly go somewhere alone with her attacker or wear provocative clothing? She must have wanted it. Is her attacker famous or well-loved? She must be lying to get attention. Was she literally unconscious? Who knows, maybe she woke up for a while and said it was okay.

We often don’t want to do the work of reevaluating our personal heroes, of accepting that a powerful man who is a pillar of the community, or a world-renowned artist, or even the leader of the free world, could secretly be a monster. We are even less willing to do that work if someone we know or love is accused. If a man has friends, admirers, and social status, he also has a defense against rape and a claim to sympathy in the public eye. But sometimes, all he has to be is a man.”


How Racist is Too Racist? – Andrew Cohen

“The U.S. Supreme Court just agreed to hear the case of Miguel Angel Pena-Rodriguez, a Colorado man who argued the jury that convicted him of misdemeanor sexual offenses in 2007 was tainted by bias. During deliberations, a juror confided to others that he knew the defendant was guilty “because he is Mexican, and Mexican men take whatever they want.” The juror, an ex-law enforcement officer, also said that based on his experience, “nine times out of 10, Mexican men were guilty of being aggressive toward women” and suggested that an alibi witness was not credible because he was “an illegal.” The Colorado Supreme Court upheld the conviction last year, ruling that statements made during jury deliberations are confidential. So what does it take to prove unconstitutional prejudice on a jury?”


“How to Write a “Political Correctness Run Amok” Article – Julia Serano

“It’s been a lot of little things up until now—you know, comments that you’ve seen on social media, or protests that you’ve heard about, all condemning people for supposedly “bad” things they may have said or done. But something recently happened to someone famous, or someone you respect—for anonymity’s sake, let’s just call them the Person of Stature. And as an example, let’s pretend the Person of Stature was invited to speak at a University, but then some students started complaining about supposedly “bigoted” things that this Person of Stature has said about some minority group in the past. Or present. And these students started protesting. They even passed a petition around. The nerve of them!

And now you are the one who is outraged! No, sorry, outrage is too strong of a word. You are a well-reasoned journalist and/or pundit. So instead of leaving angry comments in the comment section (like all the other troglodytes), you will pen a seemingly well-reasoned article that will be published in a well-established news/media outlet, and that compels readers to identify with your outrage (by which I mean well-reasoned position). And here is how you will do it:”


What Is ‘Natural’ Food? A Riddle Wrapped In Notions Of Good And Evil – Alan Levinovitz

“What, then, should we take from all this? If nothing else, the issues surrounding “natural” do not admit of easy answers. Those who shop for natural foods and fear “chemicals” are not necessarily irrational or anti-science. They shouldn’t be mocked by (well-meaning) satirists who refer to water as dihydrogen monoxide or list the chemical contents of an “all-natural” banana. At the same time, there’s no good evidence that parents who eschew natural food and embrace GMOs are poisoning their children. Industrial agriculture, whatever its defects, shouldn’t be confused with the work of (Mon) Satan.”


The only people who aren’t penalized for promoting diversity at work are white men – Frida Garza

“This does not bode well for many people leading diversity initiatives. If women and people of color are vocal about these kind of issues at work, they may be second-guessed or criticized—because doing so acknowledges their low-level status, as Hekman and Johnson explain in HBR.

‘We argue that diversity-valuing women and non-whites are rated lower than their non-diversity-valuing counterparts because diversity-valuing behavior activates subtle and unconscious stereotypes about women and non-whites as being less competent,’ the authors write in their study.

Those stereotypes may then influence how managers review their employees’ performance and competence. On the other hand, white men enjoy a higher status, and aren’t viewed any less favorably for wanting to lend a hand to other racial or minority groups.”

Climate Change:

Resettling the First American Climate Refugees – Coral Davenport and Campbell Robertson

“The changes are underway and they are very rapid,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell warned last week in Ottawa. “We will have climate refugees.”

But the problem is complex, said Walter Kaelin, the head of the Nansen Initiative, a research organization working with the United Nations to address extreme-weather displacement. “You don’t want to wait until people have lost their homes, until they flee and become refugees,” he said. “The idea is to plan ahead and provide people with some measure of choice.”

The Isle de Jean Charles resettlement plan is one of the first programs of its kind in the world, a test of how to respond to climate change in the most dramatic circumstances without tearing communities apart. Under the terms of the federal grant, the island’s residents are to be resettled to drier land and a community that as of now does not exist. All funds have to be spent by 2022.”

Climate change doubters really aren’t going to like this study – Chelsea Harvey

“Researchers have designed an inventive test suggesting that the arguments commonly used by climate change contrarians don’t add up, not only according to climate scientists (we know what they think already) but also in the view of unbiased experts from other fields.

The trick? Disguising the data — and its interpretation — as if it was part of an argument about something else entirely.

‘What we find is that whatever so called climate skeptics say about [climate] data just doesn’t characterize the data adequately,’ said Stephan Lewandowsky, the new study’s lead author and a psychologist at the University of Bristol. ‘It’s as simple as that. It’s judged to be misleading, false, and just incorrect basically,’ by independent experts from fields like economics and statistics, he said.”


Politics And The Fracturing Of Shared Reality – Adam Frank

“That agreement was broken with climate science. An entire field of research whose results have dizzying implications has been rejected as a whole. The work of thousands of researchers spanning decades is claimed to be wrong or, worse yet, a hoax. And, unlike the debate over evolution, the claim is made at the highest levels and seems to span the whole of a political party. This is something new in our history.

Our ability to deal with climate change has clearly been adversely affected by this rejection of scientific endeavor. But facing into the winds of this strange primary season, we can see how this denial yielded other consequences, too.

If the point of science is to provide us with a method for establishing public knowledge, then its rejection is also the rejection that such public knowledge is possible. If we hold science in esteem because it represents a best practice for establishing shared facts that hold regardless of ethic, religious or political background, then denying science means denying the possibility of such facts. It implies there can be no means for establishing facts about the world and no reason to award authority to mechanisms that deliver those facts.”


Image Credit: Mike Gifford

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