Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Domestic Dispute My Ass! When 3 Family Members Are Killed by Another Family Member It's DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.

Jennifer Hudson's mother, Darnell Donerson, was not arguing with her son-in-law, William Balfour, over taking out the trash. They didn't have a screaming match over who finished the milk and put the empty carton back in the fridge. Darnell Donerson, Jason Hudson, and Julian King were not victims of a domestic dispute. They were shot to death. Darnell Donerson, Jason Hudson, and Julian King are victims of DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. That is of course if the shooter/perpetrator/abuser was in fact the main suspect in the case, William Balfour.

Mr. Balfour (Julian's step-father, Jason's brother-in-law, Darnell's son-in-law), has convictions for attempted murder, carjacking and possession of a stolen motor vehicle, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections. The Huffington Post reports that "Hudson's mother and brother had thrown him out of their Englewood house in the past." It goes on to state this very important bit of information: "Julia Hudson also told police that Balfour had threatened the family. A source said Balfour told Julia Hudson he would kill her if he found out she had a boyfriend, despite the fact that he had other girlfriends." (Emphasis Mine)

Why, with all of this knowledge, is the media and those involved in the case still cowering away from calling the murders what they suspect them to be, an act of: DOMESTIC VIOLENCE? Superintendent Jody Weis, of the Chicago police, literally said that "the murders and the child’s disappearance seemed to be part of a domestic dispute." I know that no convictions have been made, but if they're going to speculate, how hard is it to to replace DISPUTE with VIOLENCE.

Now for a trip over to Dictionary.com. I hate to be that writer, but in this case since we are debating (or disputing if you will) what words really mean, I think it's necessary. Here's a list of definitions for the word "dispute:"

1. to engage in argument or debate.
2. to argue vehemently; wrangle or quarrel.
3. to argue or debate about; discuss.
4. to argue against; call in question: to dispute a proposal.
5. to quarrel or fight about; contest.
6. to strive against; oppose: to dispute an advance of troops.
7. a debate, controversy, or difference of opinion.
8. a wrangling argument; quarrel.

Skipping on over to the V's we find the word "violence:"

1. swift and intense force: the violence of a storm.
2. rough or injurious physical force, action, or treatment: to die by violence.
3. an unjust or unwarranted exertion of force or power, as against rights or laws: to take over a government by violence.
4. a violent act or proceeding.
5. rough or immoderate vehemence, as of feeling or language: the violence of his hatred.
6. damage through distortion or unwarranted alteration: to do editorial violence to a text.

Paying particular attention to entry #2, "rough or injurious physical force, action, or treatment: to die by violence," I think I have made my point.

If the police think that this abhorrent crime was committed by a family member, thus
using the word "domestic," can't they concede that since the Hudson family was shot to death in their own home, the correct word to describe the crime is in fact "VIOLENCE" not "dispute."

The Hudson family did not argue, quarrel, or debate with suspect,
William Balfour, they were allegedly MURDERED by him. This is a suspected case of DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, not a suspected case of a domestic dispute.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Scenes From a Pseudo Nouveau Punk Show

If it wasn't the meat head behind me shouting "Bad Religion is better...YOU wish you were Bad Religion," then it was the high school first timer on the other side bending over and pushing her sweaty ass into my friend and I every time the crowd swayed into her. Or maybe it was the shaggy haired 17 year old with his flip-flop wearin' tiny entitled girlfriend who started calling my other friend (who is twice his size) a "faggot" in between sets. Really it could have been any number of annoyingly unnecessary altercations, or peer jeers that made me want to leave the Baltimore NoFX show even before they played "Sticken' in My Eye." Actually, by the time Fat Mike stopped encouraging a 10 year old audience member to fist his teacher and got to telling me about his closest friend, linoleum, a quick punch to the back of my neck solidified this: I am done with the entire scene.

Well, fuck me then, right? It's a punk show, and a decade ago a younger Jason Segal entertained me for the first time with the idea that, "mayhem and punk shows...it's like peas and carrots." I know that. I'm down with mayhem. I've craved mayhem, and I've created mayhem. But, last night, as I set my empty water cup on the ground, just as another cup from someone behind me sailed over my head, it seemed mayhem and me are just going in different directions right now. It's becoming clear that our goals are different and honestly, we're really just growing apart.

After all these years, am I really left standing, wondering what changed? The scene or me?

What is this? Some stale bullshit realization about being too old for punk rawk? The same bullshit realization that the main character in the above film comes to? Or the same one that millions of songs from this genre write about? Well, fuck. It sure as hell is. Hey, if punk is dead, then realizing you're too old for it is even deader. So how come this sentiment is more ancient than Chuck Taylor? Because at some point everyone, even Fat Mike (there's a reason they play clubs big enough to have that 5 foot barricaded off space between us and them), gets sick of being punched by teenagers. Not to mention being over that grody-to-the-maxx feeling when that fat sweaty, shirtless, skinhead slips past you on his way outta the pit. People's limits are different, and while I enjoyed watching the kids throwing elbows last night, I haven't been interested in doing it myself since I broke my finger at a 2003 Rancid show. And up until the few punches, asshole remarks, and beer spillage that amounted to last nights show, I still enjoyed standing off to the side screaming along with the band. NoFX may be over 40 and doing just fine, but shit, only weeks before turning 25 I'm too tired, and ouchy to do this much longer...

Fuck it...I've totally got tickets for Bouncing Souls and Strike Anywhere next week.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Joe Biden = Swoontastic

Before you get your vote on in 11 days, be sure to watch this piece highlighting the groundbreaking strides Joe Biden has made for victims and survivors of domestic violence and abuse. This 6 minute video lets one woman tell her story and her voice echoes the millions of women in this country who are now safe because of The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) or who will find safety through it. 1 out of 4 women report being victims of interpersonal violence, this number is absurd and unconscionable. If elected, the Obama/Biden administration is one that will fight for the eradication of violence against women and girls guaranteed.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I Don't Want To Live In My Own Shit and Garbage So I Like to Pay My Taxes

I've stopped my head from spinning right off my shoulders for the first time in like two weeks just long enough to say...WTF? Since when is paying your taxes a bad thing?!

Taxes Pay For:
*Public Education (including after school programs, sports, extra curriculars)
*Police, Fire Department, Hospitals, Ambulances (any type of emergency response team)
*Garbage Removal Service
*Water Treatment
*Energy (aka keeping your power on)
*Road Repairs, Street Cleaning, Snow/Ice Removal
*Crime Prevention Programs
*Parks and Recreation Programs (including little leagues, public pools, ice skating rinks)
*Public Transportation (including buses, light rails, metros, subways)
*Social Programs (including Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault helplines, counseling, and safe housing)

and much much more!

Taxes are based on the idea of "ability to pay," we can't all just pay full price for what we use because no one person on their own could afford all the things that they use on a daily basis. Examples of this are things that are free or provided at a low cost like school, waste management, or turning on your television. Then there are things that not everyone uses, but everyone pays for with the idea that everyone uses something and helping to pay for these programs makes our communities cleaner, safer, more welcoming, and easy to live in. These are programs like little leagues, buses, jails, ambulances, food stamps, and park programs (like watching fireworks on the 4th of July).

I know it's popular to for some reason hate people who are on welfare (y'know because they clearly don't have enough problems). Certain citizens want to know why they have to pay for someone else's misfortune, and my answer to that is why do I have to pay for your damn ambulance when you fall off your ladder cleaning your gutters? I don't have gutters, and if I did, I wouldn't fall off of them like a clumsy effing idiot, so I don't want to pay for the ambulance that will come pick you up and safe your life because it's not my problem. Sounds heartless doesn't it? Yes, of course I'll pay for your ambulance, and your welfare, and your drug rehabilitation! I'll pay for you to get a free education just like I did. I will pay for you to get better, because someday I'll need you to pay for my pension. I owe you a nice public transit system because when I was little you paid for me to play softball for 6 years, and I got to ice skate in a public rink that was safe, beautiful and fun because you helped keep it that way.

Look, taxation and redistribution of the wealth is a main principal of democracy. Remember democracy? What we needed to fight a never ending war for in the Middle East? A principal that the GOP likes to wave around desperately while pointing fingers at the democrats like we're about to make it on the McCarthy blacklist.

Under and Obama/Biden administration, no one will be paying more taxes unless they are making over $200,000
- if you're making that much do you really think you can't afford to pay some extra taxes to make your community a better place for all to live in? Don't you want to be safe and happy? So does everyone else.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Friday, October 3, 2008

Get Over Being Sketched Out, Abuser Intervention Can Work!

Today the Washington Post looks into abuser intervention programs. These are important because it takes the responsibility to end domestic violence off the shoulders of the victims. Society is always asking why women don't leave, stand up for themselves, fight back, say no, press charges, kick him out. There is constant pressure for women to put an end to abuse that they did not start, nor go looking for. Abuser intervention programs seek to stop passing the buck to victims by putting this responsibility where it belongs, back into the hands that did the hurting. Not only that, but these programs demand growth, understanding, and change from its participants. However, they're not getting as much support as they need, even though such programs play a critical role in ending violence against women.

Sure, I get why these programs make people feel iffy (helping men who abuse their partners?!?!?! ahhhhh! no grant monies for you!), but just reading the person's story featured in the Washington Post should give some small ray of hope, right? Maybe? Though, I would like to know how common "success stories"such as this are, and I would also enjoy a follow up interview in like a year to see how he's coming on his committment to non violence. In addition, if one is a victim, it's virtually impossible to believe in a persons abiltity to change. Especially since we're taught that violence is a cycle that an abuser rarely, if ever, breaks.

It's hard not to feel strongly one way or the other, but for some more guidence and insight on the matter, I strongly encourgage all to check out the fantastic author of "The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help," Jackson Katz. He discussess the importance of approaching "gender violence as a MEN'S issue involving men of all ages and socioeconomic, racial and ethnic backgrounds," and puts empahsis on viewing "men not only as perpetrators or possible offenders, but as empowered bystanders who can confront abusive peers." Not too shabby.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Rewards for Catching Abusers, Cuz Otherwise Who Would Care, Right?

So for the month of October Crime Stoppers of Huston Texas is offering a $5,000 reward for anyone who turns in a wanted felon with connections to domestic violence. This is one of those seems awesome at first plans, but then turns questionable after a few minutes of mulling it over...
  • First and foremost, yes, this will probably help bring in some abusers that would otherwise get away, and that is truly the most important thing
  • But second, why this is only a month long project? I am irked by the idea that the only time to be vigilant about abusers is during a specified month, as if the rest of the time it's meh
  • And lastly, I resent that there's such a high reward offered like no one would give a fuck otherwise...but it does reflect on a societal ambivalence, most likely due to lack of knowledge...which is why DV awareness month is so important...there! Full circle!
So obvi it's a great project, but I'm apprehensive about the deadline. What do you think?

Celebrate GLBT History Month by Telling Sarah Palin to Eff Off

Is it a huge surprise that Palin believes being gay is a choice? Not really, but I am slightly shocked that she delivers this bullshit message by way of talking about her "best friend" that "made the choice" to be gay. I'm wondering if after seeing this interview her very best friend has now knocked Palin down to "clueless straight friend I catch up with when I run into her at the mall, but otherwise I nothing her existence." To recap, being inaccurately dragged out into the political spotlight without consent is awesome-o.

I Would Be a Total Jerk If I Didn't Also Mention it's GLBT History Month

It's true! A friend was quick to point out that DV victims aren't the only ones to get overlooked during the month of October. It's super important to be aware that October is also GLBT History month. You can check out the mega fancy website geared to educating communities on the "vital importance of recognizing and exploring the role of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in American history" here.

Meanwhile mark your calenders for October 11th, National Coming Out Day! This year is the 20th anniversary of NCOD and it was orginally held to commerate the first gay rights march on Washington DC which was held on Oct 11th 1987 and had 500,000 participants. Get info on what celebrations will be taking place this year in your community at the Human Rights Campaign website here.

*Thanks to Jacob for the heads up

You Know Who I'm in Love With? (VP Debate edition)

Joe Biden. I know this may not come as a surprise to many readers given my ravenous response to his VP nomination...I do tend to gush. So here comes another Biden is perfection update! With all the press Palin is getting for making victims pay for rape kits, it's great to read that Biden is fighting hard for rape kit evidence to be matched against DNA databases of convicted felons and rapists. This is important because the US Department of Justice estimates that "there are at least 221,000 rape kits currently on the shelves in evidence lockers, untested and gathering dust" That means 221,000 rapists have gotten away even though evidence against them exists, it just hasn't been exaimined. Not so great.

Joe Biden = a hero for victims that writes and fights for legislation that requires and allocates money for DNA evidence from rape kits to get matched with databases to ensure the legal system is doing everything they can to effectively find and charge the rapist, thus adding to the safety and comfort of victims

Sarah Palin = a Scrooge McDuck like character cackling in the face of rape victims and demanding they pay for their own rape kits if they want them, causing trauma and re-victimization

Happy VP Debate Day! Make sure to watch with rapt attention at 9pm tonight!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month or How I Learned to Wear Purple During a Month Berating Me With Pink

You may not see Domestic Violence Awareness Month under the pink glare that Breast Cancer Awareness Month is casting, but I assure you it's happening. Even though both worthy causes have shared the "awareness" spotlight for more than 20 years, breast cancer has exploded as a year long cause that has re-claimed the color pink thus reclaiming our hearts. This has indirectly encouraged all companies ever to exploit cancer for bigger sales.

While I agree on the evil aspect of the gross over-marketing being more about the companies making a profit, than spreading goodwill, I also think it's hard to argue with the amount of talk, press, donations, and excitement pink garb generates. I'd love it if Coach started selling purple bullshit key fobs with purple C's and charms and shit. You know why? Because 9 out of 10* women in all of fucking America is walking around with some damn Coach product. So if they are going into the Coach store or going onto their website they will be confronted by breast cancer awareness immediately! Then they will buy said product ("it's pink!") and tell their friends, and viola! Instant talky talky about a serious issue that maybe those people wouldn't have thought to talk about before.

Do you know when you're confronted with Domestic Violence Awareness? If you're on a college campus (sometimes), or y'know, when you are personally affected. Not great options there, and also, DV orgs and victims don't get sweet promotional deals from BMW. Other than basic community outreach, and silly rubber bracelets, DV is not being hyped, and even though purple is the "it" color this fall, no one is wearing it with abuse in mind (anti abuse that is). No one is like "OMG! I just got this purple D&G dress from Nordstrom and 25% of my purchase goes to domestic violence prevention!" That scenario has absolutely never happened. People are not talking about DV, but there is a whole lot of silence and misunderstanding. And every day that people don't talk openly and matter of factly about violence against women this silence extends to the victims and survivors who often take it as a cue to keep quiet about their experiences.

So what about all these people that aren't sitting through a school presentation or have been personally affected? People who want to help friends or family and don't know how. Friends or family who don't notice their loved one is even in a DV situation. Us Weekly when they ask Ana Ortiz why she tolerated the abuse. The millions of people that unknowingly use that kind of speech, leaving out the abuser, and blaming the victim, asking " why didn't she leave?" instead of "why is he abusive?" The victims in abusive relationships that don't realize it, or know it, but have no resources for help. All of these people (and everyone else who doesn't fall into these scant catergories) need to be as aware of DV as they are of breast cancer in order to break this deafening silence surrounding violence against women. If selling them purple glitter eyeshadow is the way to do it so be it!

Breast Cancer and Domestic Violence are two epidemics that mainly affect women. Two epidemics that can lead to death. They both affect our communities, our families, our friends, they are equally important and I'd like to see them happily co-exist together. So since one is clearly the front-runner right now cough cough cancer...maybe DV could get a leg up? A shout out on the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month website perhaps? Just sayin'. Think about it breast cancer advocates, this could be the beginning of a beautifully marketed relationship.

So Domestic Violence Awareness Month doesn't get its own website (wha wha), but you can read about it on the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence website, and while you are there, check out what you can do to make a difference!

My small part (other than working at a DV shelter) will be attempting to put up a new article about DV or DV awareness every day. It's a tall order, but I have my very own laptop now, so really, what's holding me back? For today, check out what's going down in my hometown area, Cleveland!

*This is a statistic I made up for the benefit of my blog based on my observations while walking around places where other people are.

UPDATE: There is now a website up for the 2008 Domestic Violence Awareness Month. You can view it here. I'm not gonna lie, it's way meager.