“Welcome to America, the land of blue jeans, rock and roll, and sporadic meaningless mass murder.” ~ Ben DreyFuss, Mother Jones

 

| Sun Apr. 20, 2014 2:31 PM PDT

On April 20, 1999, two teenagers walked into a suburban high school outside of Denver and shot 13 people to death. The massacre at Columbine was not the first mass shooting in America. It was not the first mass shooting at an American school. Indeed, Peter Jennings began the news that night, “The reaction of so many people today was ‘Oh no, not again.'” But Columbine was different. It became a national trauma in a way the others hadn’t. Yes, it was the deadliest American school shooting on record at the time—though it is no longer—but what really amplified its significance was the fact it was the first mass shooting that played out in real time on television. The shootings began at 11:19 a.m. By noon, local television stations had broken into regular programming with uninterrupted media coverage. Millions of people across the country turned on CNN and watched the story develop.

Here’s how America watched the chaos of Columbine: There were reports of a shooting and it was at a school and the body count began going up and witnesses said they were two shooters with shotguns and rifles and pistols and there had been an explosion across town and it had been a diversion maybe and pipe bombs, something about pipe bombs, and the body count kept rising, and booby traps, and then Clinton gave a speech and then the shooters were in a mafia that wore trench coats and maybe there were more than two and then, no, there were only two and they were dead and the bomb squad finished the initial sweep of the building at 4:45 p.m. and it was over, but not really because then there was the CCTV footage, the witness interviews, the search for motive, they had been bowling, they had been bullied, they had said something about Hitler and they listened to Marilyn Manson and they wanted to one up Timothy McVeigh and What Does It All Mean?

After Columbine there was a general sense that something had to be done. That kids getting killed at school was a thing we weren’t going to be okay with. “Never again,” as they say.

It wasn’t some fanciful impossibility. The British did it after Dunblane. And so we did that. Everyone got together and passed sweeping gun control legislation and there was never another mass shooting in America.

Except not really. Because the “never again” response—though shared by many—was not shared by all.

We seem to have accepted that the occasional mass murder is the cost of America.

On May 1, Charlton Heston came to Denver and made a much-discussed speech where he said, “We have work to do, hearts to heal, evil to defeat, and a country to unite. We may have differences, yes, and we will again suffer tragedy almost beyond description. But when the sun sets on Denver tonight, and forever more, let it always set on we the people, secure in our land of the free and the home of the brave.” Say what you will about that speech, but as far as predictions go it was spot on. It’s a fait accompli. There were more shootings. We mourned and then did nothing because we seem to have accepted that occasional mass murder is the cost of America.

Both responses, “never again” and “don’t bother trying,” offer statements about the USA. The former says “America is the greatest country on Earth. We went to the moon. Surely, we can stop kids from getting shot to death at school! If the Brits can do it, so can we. ” The latter says, “No, we can’t. We’re America. The greatest country on Earth and the cost of the liberty that makes us so is that our kids may get shot to death at school.”

Every time there is another mass shooting and nothing happens it becomes a little easier to believe that the “don’t bother” crowd is right.

Nothing changed after 13 people were killed at Columbine, or 33 at Virginia Tech, or 26 at Sandy Hook. Each of those tragedies came with the same breaking-news urgency as Columbine, but none generated the same sense of expected action because fewer and fewer people actually believed things could change. The last 15 years have been a lesson in how “never again” can be cowed into “I need a drink.”

And that’s insane.

Fifteen years after Columbine rattled America to its core, people still get shot while they’re at school. People get shot while they’re at work. People get shot eating. People get shot drinking. People get shot watching movies, shopping, driving, swimming, skipping, and playing baseball. It’s 2014 and in America people get shot doing basically any goddamn thing you can think of.

They don’t have to.

 

Ben Dreyfuss

Ben Dreyfuss is the engagement editor at Mother Jones.

 

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“America has entered one of its periods of historical madness, but this is the worst I can remember” ~ John LeCarré

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“O, that way madness lies; let me shun that;
No more of that.” ~ Shakespeare, King Lear (III, iv)

The Legal Definition of Rape (as taken directly from legal-dictionary.com):

Rape is the commission of unlawful sexual intercourse or unlawful sexual intrusion. Rape laws in the United States have been revised over the years, and they vary from state to state.

Historically, rape was defined as unlawful sexual intercourse with a woman against her will. The essential elements of the crime were sexual penetration, force, and lack of consent. Women who were raped were expected to have physically resisted to the utmost of their powers or their assailant would not be convicted of rape. Additionally, a husband could have sex with his wife against her will without being charged with rape. Beginning in the 1970s, state legislatures and courts expanded and redefined the crime of rape to reflect modern notions of equality and legal propriety.

As of the early 2000s, all states define rape without reference to the sex of the victim and the perpetrator. Though the overwhelming majority of rape victims are women, a woman may be convicted of raping a man, a man may be convicted of raping a man, and a woman may be convicted of raping another woman. Furthermore, a spouse may be convicted of rape if the perpetrator forces the other spouse to have nonconsensual sex. Many states do not punish the rape of a spouse as severely as the rape of a non-spouse.

Many states also have redefined lack of consent. Before the 1970s, many courts viewed the element of force from the standpoint of the victim. A man would not be convicted of rape of a competent woman unless she had demonstrated some physical resistance. In the absence of physical resistance, courts usually held that the sexual act was consensual. In the early 2000s in many states, the prosecution can prove lack of consent by presenting evidence that the victim objected verbally to the sexual penetration or sexual intrusion.

Lack of consent is a necessary element in every rape. But this qualifier does not mean that a person may make sexual contact with a minor or incapacitated person who actually consented. Lack of consent may result from either forcible compulsion by the perpetrator or an incapacity to consent on the part of the victim. Persons who are physically or mentally helpless or who are under a certain age in relation to the perpetrator are deemed legally incapable of consenting to sex. (emphasis mine)

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“Today’s milestone is human madness. Politics is a part of it, particularly in its lethal outbursts.” ~ Julia Kristeva

I’ve been doing a slow boil* for a few days now as a direct result of those anti-choice pecker-heads in Congress, you know, the ones behind the proposed No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act (follow link for full text of bill as well as list of sponsors), which would effectively set back women’s rights over three decades to a time in which it was considered impossible for a husband to rape his wife, a time during which women who didn’t fight tooth and claw weren’t considered to have been really raped, a time in which saying no could be construed as really meaning yes, a time during which a woman’s wardrobe could be construed as code for “come and get me.”

I’m plenty pissed people.

Essentially HR3, which bone-head Boehner says is “one of our highest legislative priorities,” redefines rape as “forcible rape.”

No knife, no gun, no bruises, no wounds = no rape

Wee bit antiquated? Ever hear of Rohipnol people? But this is the kicker: 173 members of Congress,** including 16 women, support this bill. Boehner claims that current law “does not reflect the will of the people.”

Excuse me? The people? You mean the ones with penises? The ones who can never ever ever get pregnant against their will? Oh, right, those people.

According to Steph Sterling, a lawyer and senior adviser to the National Women’s Law Center, “It speaks to a distinction between rape where there must be some element of force in order to rise to the standard, and rape where there is not . . . The concern here is that it takes us back to a time where just saying no was not enough.”

At stake is the Hyde Amendment (enacted and renewed since 1976), which “prevents some federally funded health-care programs from covering abortions. For years, it has allowed exemptions in cases of rape and incest, and when the life of the woman is threatened.” In sum, Hyde excludes abortion for people receiving Medicaid (with exceptions as noted). Hyde also excludes coverage for federal employees with government-provided health insurance, (e.g., the military).

According to thinkprogress.org, by narrowing the Hyde Amendment language, “Republicans would exclude the following situations from coverage: women who say no but do not physically fight off the perpetrator, women who are drugged or verbally threatened and raped, and minors impregnated by adults.” The measure would also raise costs for businesses who want to offer employees insurance plans with abortion coverage, by eliminating health care tax deductions and benefits that have long been a part of federal law.***

One of my personal Congressional faves, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), wasted no time in letting her GOP colleagues know how “absolutely outrageous” she views this intrusive bill: “To have H.R. 3, the Republicans’ third most important priority, say that rape cannot be an exception to federal funding for abortion . . . sends an incredibly strong message to women.”

“To suggest that there is some kind of rape that would be okay to force a woman to carry the resulting pregnancy to term, and abandon the principle that has been long held, an exception that has been settled for 30 years, is to me a violent act against women in and of itself . . . Rape is when a woman is forced to have sex against her will, and that is whether she is conscious, unconscious, mentally stable, not mentally stable,” the four-term congresswoman added.

Consider, if HR3 were to pass, victims of of incest and statutory rape resulting in pregnancy would be unable to use Medicaid to pay for an abortion, and if the victim were covered under her parents’ health insurance policy, HR3 could effectively make it impossible to use that private insurance by not allowing the parents to “use money from a tax-exempt health savings account (HSA) to pay for the procedure. They also wouldn’t be able to deduct the cost of the abortion or the cost of any insurance that paid for it as a medical expense.”

As for the incest exception under Hyde, the proposed bill would only allow federally funded abortions if the woman is under 18. Grandaddy’s little secret could remain his secret under the ambiguously arcane and archaic language of HR3.

I’ve said it before, and I will scream it to the rafters if I have to: People with penises have absolutely no right to make decisions for those without said appendages, especially when it comes to matters of health.

Keep your frigging laws of my body.

No peace tonight. Sorry. 

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*If you want to skip the ranting and just go to the sources, here is a list of the ones consulted in writing this post:

http://womantribune.com/hr-3-taxpayer-funding-abortion-act-offensive-women

http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/rape

http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/01/republican-plan-redefine-rape-abortion

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/gop-introduces-%E2%80%98no-taxpayer-funding-for-abortion-act%E2%80%99/

http://amaditalks.tumblr.com/post/3009672649/h-r-3-co-sponsors-on-twitter

http://thinkprogress.org/2011/02/01/dws-rape-language/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/31/AR2011013105207.html

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/02/wasserman-schultz-gop-rape-violent-women/

http://www.nwlc.org/our-blog/abortion-overreach-could-raise-your-taxes

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**Unfortunately, as had been reported in some sources, Daniel Lipinski is not the only male Democrat (no female dems) supporting this appalling rewrite on the definition of rape under the guise of federal funding for abortion. Here is the most recent list found, which was found on Amadi Talks

Dan Boren (OK)
Mark Critz (PA)
Joe Donnelly (IN)
Daniel Lipinski (IL)
Collin Peterson (FL)
Nick Rahall (WV)
Mike Ross (AR)
Heath Shuler (NC)

If you wish to contact any of these cavement (dems or repubs), you can go here to find contact info. If I have omitted any names or listed anyone in error, please let me know.

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More from Steph Sterling clarifying this aspect of HR3:

So what would this mean for a real family?  Take a father of three working as an assembly lineman who loses his job when his manufacturing plant closes.  Right now, he’s eligible for the Health Coverage Tax Credit to help with the costs of his $13,770 premium.  But, because his insurance plan included coverage of abortion—even though he never knew about this benefit and no one in his family ever used it—H.R. 3 would suddenly make him ineligible for the benefit and would cost him $11,236.

Other tax benefits are on the line, too.  Right now, a woman who makes $25,000 is eligible to deduct any amount over $1,875 she spends on health expenses, including her insurance premiums, from her taxable income.  If H.R. 3 were enacted and her health insurance plan includes coverage of abortion, she would lose a $1,731 deduction.  More than 7.5 million families claim this particular medical expense deductions—and each of them would lose the deduction if their plan covers abortion.