In case anybody reading didn’t know that Ashley Miller’s blog is super cool, please go read this beautiful essay by Kate Donovan: Why Atheism Inspires Me to Seek Social Justice
I have but this one short life. Though it would be nice to plan to live to a ripe and grouchy old age, it could end tomorrow. Or next Tuesday. Life has this terrible habit of behaving unpredictably, you know.
Though I am extraordinarily clumsy, I will likely, as do the vast majority of people, fade out of existence quietly. Five, ten, fifty years from then, I will have become nothing but curled pictures and retold retellings of stories.
These are facts, and they are cold. We atheists hear a lot about the chill of disbelief, about what we miss without a sense of the supernatural, the oceans of unseen, unmeasured universe we just have to have faith in. We are asked if it isn’t just a little bit lonely, to have nothing but ourselves and the neurons between our ears? With so little meaning to our lives, what motivation can we have?
Quite a bit, really.
Go read more. It’s lovely. Whoever you are, you deserve something lovely today.
(Edit: I owe Kate an apology because I utterly failed to notice that she was the one who’d written this entry. Anyway. Kate is amazing. Go love Kate.)
Posted May 21, 2013on:
Conservatives claim that the reliance of the poor on welfare (rather than poverty itself) causes social problems, including the perpetuation of welfare dependency into the next generation. Indeed we do not view this type of reliance on financial assistance as dependency at all. A welfare rights activist and former recipient, Theresa Funiciello, explains the unfairness of the distinction made between children supported by Social Security and those supported by AFDC:
No one has suggested the mother on Social Security suffers from “dependency,” yet everyone seems concerned about dependency when it comes to welfare. There is no rational public policy basis for treating families in essentially identical circumstances in such radically different ways. . . . The only real difference between “survivor” and “welfare” families . . . is the imprimatur of the father. The message: the needs and rights of women and children are determined not by universal standards but by the nature of their prior relationship to a man.
Yet conservatives assert no similar condemnation of long-term dependency on inherited wealth, life insurance proceeds, government agricultural subsidies, and social security benefits. (…) This distinction in the moral outrage directed at different types of dependency parallels the stratification of the American welfare system into two basic categories: Social Security and what is commonly called welfare (mainly AFDC). Social Security retains its political popularity because it is perceived as an insurance program despite its strong redistributive effects and its dependent clients. Yet Social Security itself encourages some dependencies while discouraging others. It “subvert[s] adults’ sense of responsibility for their parents” while promoting wives’ dependence on their husbands’ wages. Because Social Security’s beneficiaries are thought to recoup what they contributed to the program, they are neither stigmatized nor supervised. So taxpayers complain about supporting poor mothers on AFDC through their income taxes, but not about the transfer of their Social Security payments to the widows and children of deceased workers, who may even be more affluent than the taxpayers who support them. In 1992, nearly four million children and caretaker parents received Social Security payments totaling about $14 billion. The budget for AFDC was only 50 percent greater, even though its caseload was three times larger.
-Dorothy Roberts, Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty
I’d like to be clear that I don’t begrudge survivor families their Social Security payments. I have never minded paying for things like that out of my taxes. However, it does seem like people who are content to support survivor families with their tax dollars have no rational reason to object to supporting families on welfare (particularly considering that many people receiving government assistance in the USA are already working while on welfare (Source) (Source).
There are plenty of irrational reasons, though. Here are some links that refute the common lines of nonsense, just in case those are useful for anybody reading (either because you are personally gearing up to present nonsense or because you are frequently presented with nonsense yourself).
Politifact’s list of fact-checked statements about welfare
Examiner’s Debunking the Top 6 Welfare Myths
tl;dr: People who object to welfare but not Social Security survivor benefits are operating under the influence of a full trifecta of racism, classism, and misogyny that is far more twisted and ugly and pernicious than the sum of its counterfactual and oppressive parts.
Posted May 17, 2013on:
The very first speaker at Women in Secularism was Ron Lindsay. It turns out that the white dude that many of the organizers and attendees work for has some very important opinions to share about how “privilege” should be discussed. He’s very concerned about how often it’s used to silence men, and wanted to start out WOMEN IN SECULARISM by cautioning us away from it.
I am once again recommending the reproductive justice book club for which I joined Goodreads. The first book is Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty.
It’s AMAZING. I haven’t enjoyed a nonfiction book this much in a while. It’s dense with research but still super readable and really informative.
It points out that fighting for reproductive freedom doesn’t work if we do it in a colorblind way that ignores the unique and disproportionate way that reproductive coercion is inflicted upon black women, and that fighting racism doesn’t work if we don’t specifically address how often racism manifests specifically as reproductive coercion.
I’m really excited that this is the book we started with! Other people should come join.
I really don’t dig this “Jane Crow” term that I have been seeing from my fellow Nice Feminist White Ladies. Are women of color using this term? Because I follow quite a few and this seems like a white feminist thing, and it feels really appropriatey.
It wouldn’t be the only instance of other groups appropriating the (ongoing) black civil rights struggle. I’ve seen “woman is the n*gger of the world” and “the struggle for LGBT rights is the civil rights issue of our era,” etcetera. It’s inappropriate for many reasons, two of which are:
1: Nobody gets to be “the new black” until society has gotten over its problems with “the old black.” Until then BLACK is the old black and the current black and the new black.
2: It separates women and people of color like those groups don’t intersect. Bad things used to happen to black people and now they happen to women! Women are suffering in ways that are new to them! Except “Women” shouldn’t just mean “white women,” it ought to mean WOC too.
I come bearing commentary from people I follow about what we’re likely getting into with Pope Francis I. If you are reading this, your default position is probably, “Whatever, let me know if they select someone who doesn’t hate every aspect of modern life,” and if that’s how you feel, let me tell you right now that Jorge Mario Bergoglio pretty much hates every aspect of modern life. He hates some of the things you and I love slightly less than Der Panzerkardinal did, but you wouldn’t see me pouring this dude a nice cup of tea. (Or maybe I would, but I would be really passive-aggressive and oversteep it. Then he can enjoy his tannins while I tell him why I hate him.)
I don’t have him, though, I have you!
Hemant Mehta over at Friendly Atheist has some hope to offer!
When it comes to Catholic social justice, Bergoglio is used to focusing on economic inequality, not sexual politics.
He further indicated his search for a new direction by selecting a name no pontiff has ever used before: Francis, after the popular Saint Francis of Assisi. The name fits. Bergoglio is known amongst the cardinals as a compassionate figure who eschews the fancier perks of his office: he gave up the archbishop’s palace to live in a simple apartment in Buenos Aires, and he traded in the archbishops’ limo for a bus pass.
These are all promising signs for the Vatican-watchers who wonder how the Curia can live in such opulence while children starve or who harbor concerns about the Vatican’s financial management.
Ophelia Benson at Butterflies and Wheels comments that “maybe the new pope will be a little less ruthlessly murderous about condoms.” Hooray! Slightly less genocidally backward! You’re excited, right?
Daniela at Skepchick is going to have to bring you back down from the dizzying heights you doubtless reached upon receiving Mehta and Benson’s revelations. Turns out that Bergoglio might have used subordinates as scapegoats even though both they, the church, and the church-supported despots all knew that they were doing things like helping poor people rather than engaging in guerilla warfare against the murderous dictatorship.
So they were kidnapped and tortured. So I mean. That’s not good. Probably.
Other awful things going on around that time included the theft of babies! Babies were being stolen to be raised by regime supporters, and there’s a paper trail that Bergoglio didn’t dare do jack about it. And then, you know, the usual stuff about marriage equality being a plot by the Father of Lies blah blah blah. We’re talking about the Catholic Church, though, so it’s not like they can really surprise you there. I thought I’d just pass on the things that were unusually shameful.
I couldn’t find any direct mention of him molesting kids, though Argentina has not been without its sheltered child rapists. Nothing beyond the general baseline level of aiding and abetting the sexual abuse of children that I expect in any Catholic archdiocese. Just a little bit of politically-expedient enabling of babysnatchers and some hellish scapegoating of his subordinates.
All this reminds me that I need to repost my old excessively-sourced web series on all the people the Catholic Church demonstrably hates. I should get on that.