Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Sexual Assault Month #MeTooMilitary

This is April, and among other things it is Sexual Assault Awareness month. Once again, we are asking you to grab a piece of teal and wear it to show your support for victims of Sexual Assault, Sexual Harassment, and domestic Violence. Although the proclamation comes from the White House, its roots go back as for as the 1970's and today adopted by National Coalition Against Sexual Assault. It started out as a one-week-in April focus and, of course, there is a need to continue to stay focused on the problem in civilian life and the Military.

The number of reported sexual assaults that occurred have gone up and not down since 2013, according to the DOD, on military bases and installations around the world. More than half the military victims in 2016, (68%) did not report sexually violent crimes, according to data from the annual Department of Defense report on sexual assault in 2017. As I have said before, when the media (both social and mainstream) turn the lights onto the problem, the right things are said, and it appears that the military will fix the problem. Many survivors punched hard with the documentary, The Invisible War. Never did we see anything like the stories being told by men and women of what they went through while trying to serve their country. Some of these survivors came to Washington DC to speak with senators and congressmen about their cases. They were flesh and blood Veterans attempting to make a change for those who would raise their hand and take the oath to serve and protect American and defend the Constitution. But of course there was some contrition, when the brass faced the Senate, but very little was changed to reverse the problem.

"The truth is that the scourge of sexual assault in the military remains status quo," Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, said about the 2017 Pentagon report. "(It) disappointingly shows a flat overall reporting rate and a retaliation rate against survivors that remains at an unacceptable 6 out of 10 for a third year in a row."

We need to realize this month that sexual assault crimes in the military are still a problem no matter what is going on in the world or what this White House is trying to distract us with.

A Monster Dressed In Fatigues

A young Army Specialist, Sarah Reyes, considered herself a church girl who had bad relationship experience before signing up and was determine to abstain from sex until marriage and put the Army first. In an interview with CNN she said that she loved her job, and her instincts had always prompted her to run toward danger, not away from it. "I lived for it, and I was good at it," she said of her time as an Army combat medic, which included a nine-month stint in Afghanistan.
The opposite seems true for Sarah now because she was sexual assaulted by someone whom she thought was trust worthy. A fellow soldier at a barracks party at Fort Stewart, Georgia. Sarah now calls him a monster who raped her dressed in fatigues. They both had been in the same platoon and  deployed over seas. So you would think a fellow soldier and a brother-in-arms wouldn't take advantage of her in this way. 

It's the same old story of someone receiving very little to drink, but passing out because someone had
conspired to mix the drinks making their intended victim blackout drunk hard and fast.
Rapists in and out of the military are good at this because it causes memory gaps. As in Sarah's case, she had no idea what had happened to her.

Reyes told CNN that she did not feel like she drank too much but noted that she was "not making her own drinks" and "does not have much memory" of the night.

Although the timeline of the evening is still fuzzy at times, Reyes said she now recalls more about what occurred -- including feeling very tired during the party and lying in the bed of a male soldier.The realization that something beyond her initial memory of the night had occurred did not fully set in until the next day, when her friends asked if she had consented to everything that happened during the encounter. "That moment was like someone flipped on a light switch -- I realized I didn't want it all to happen," Reyes said. "My body went numb and I was crying. ... (I) felt like my world had ended and I couldn't figure out why."
What's so shocking was that the male soldier confessed to what he did to her, but the all-male investigation panel couldn't do anything because they don't have anything to prove beyond his confession. In other words the investigators wouldn't allow Reyes's attacker to incriminate himself because she couldn't remember if she said "No" to him. People who are looking to exonerate a rapist are now with the old, "Well, did you say 'No'" dodge. If a person is so out of it, how can he or she swear to anything or remember anything that was said? Of course this person wasn't found guilty of anything. He was allowed to return back to his duties. Reyes told CNN that it took her a long time to speak out and tell anyone what had happened, partly because the circumstances didn't feel straight forward in a military sense. And perhaps she's right in the sense that there is no one-size-fits-all situation that fits a standard of sexual assault. There is also apparently no flexibility in the military male culture to understand that rapists depend upon the military to make a case based on a sober victim, or at least one who can recall what happen. But even with that, the system will set up roadblocks which allow the perp to escape unscathed such as performance of duties and rank. They're no longer allowed to express feelings of a soldier's good conduct, but the bias still remains. The higher up the accused is in the chain of command, the harder it is to convict them. 

The System of The Old

We've been here before. Survivors like Reyes have no advocates on the inside of this situation because the old way of handling sexual assault, sexual harassment and retaliation is baked into the cake. The mindset hasn't changed and so they are looking for the change of law which allows a victim/survivor to get help outside the chain of command. The Military Justice Improvement Act remains stymied by politicians who either fear that change would alter the military that they know, or see it as a feminist win against a total male dominated culture. The author is Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who sees the bill as giving military servicemen and servicewoman a hand up in respect to receiving an fair and unbiased sense of justice. It doesn't take away the Commander's authority or power. 

The carefully crafted Military Justice Improvement Act is designed to professionalize how the military prosecutes serious crimes like sexual assault, and to remove the systemic fear that survivors of military sexual assault describe in deciding whether to report the crimes committed against them. Repeated testimony from survivors and former commanders says that the widespread reluctance on the part of survivors to come forward and report is due to the bias and inherent conflicts of interest posed by the military chain of command’s sole decision-making power over whether cases move forward to a trial. 

At the beginning of the year, advocates including Col. Don Christensen, president of
Protect Our Defenders; Monica Medina, a former special assistant to former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta; plus Heath Phillips and Nichole Bowen Crawford, survivors of military sexual trauma gathered at the Pentagon and spoke about how this system, which was supposed to be fixed, still remains broken. The DOD's reply was "The Department of Defense continuously works to eliminate sexual assault from the military, and we encourage service members to report all instances of sexual assault so we can provide support services and hold offenders accountable," spokesman Col. Rob Manning.

Sounds great to me. Except what's the magical number of sexual assaults which will cause you to fly into action? Some of these advocates speaking out, use to be in your ranks Military. Just saying. I would encourage those in the #MeToo movement to reach out to Veterans and active servicemen. Because it may have started in Hollywood, but it's about everybody.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Turning A Blind Eye to a Black Eye

Donald Trumps firm hand claps with General Kelly
The correlation between the military mind set and what is happening in the White House is glaring. Donald Trump's White House Chief of Staff, General John Kelly, couldn't get a permanent security clearance for the man he brought on board to be Staff Secretary. Why? Because Rob Porter failed an FBI background check. Two of his ex-wives, Colbie Holderness and Jennifer Willoughby were victim-survivors of Porter's abuse in their marriages. The General sent out a statement defending Porter's character saying :
 "Porter was “a man of true integrity and honor and I can’t say enough good things about him. He is a friend, a confidante, and a trusted professional. I am proud to serve alongside him.” Kelly reportedly urged Porter to “stay and fight,” in spite of the incredibly serious accusations against him." NY Times. February 8, 2018
It turns out that wasn't the case. Photo's emerged from Colbie Holderness who had a black eye that she received from Porter while on their Honeymoon, of all things, in Italy. The FBI now has copies of the photo's from Holderness, plus statements from the two abused ex-wives. And the General was forced to walk back his claims of Porter's sterling character after both Holderness and Willoughby spoke on record to The Daily Mail and other media sources.

In a memo to the staff on Thursday night, Mr. Kelly wrote, “While we are all processing the shocking and troubling allegations made against a former White House staffer, I want you to know that we all take matters of domestic violence very seriously. Domestic violence is abhorrent and has no place in our society.”- NY Times. February 8, 2018

Todd Shane Tomko, another abuser Kelly defended
Now what some of you may or may not know is that this same General John Kelly went to bat for Todd Shane Tomko. Tomko is a disgraced Marine Colonel who was found guilty of sexually harassing two female subordinates. Mr. Kelly praised the colonel as a “superb Marine officer.” That turned out to be a bad characterization of Kelly's. Tomko was so messed up, it was reported that he drove drunk to his own arraignment. General Kelly has a problem that has been in the Armed Forces for decades now. And that is to save the warrior at all cost. Screw the fact that he's being accused of sexual assault, sexual harassment or other punishable crimes. Save the accused, because he is worth it.
Even in the fact of the blacked eye photo's and the press pushing hard for transparency, Kelly only took a half-step back in the assessment of the situation with Porter. While admitting that domestic violence is a terrible thing, Kelly wouldn't give an inch on Porter's character. This was followed by Donald Trump's own remarks today, as he still believes Porter is innocent.

I don't want to drift too far afield of my main point, and that is in John Kelly's opinion, getting the job
Rob Porter. Domestic abuser who Trump believes is innocent
done always comes before anything else. He stood by Porter because Porter performed his duties well. This is much akin to the James Wilkerson case where his conviction was overturned by a 3-star General. It shows bias and blind loyalty from the brass. They treat victims/survivors as casualties in pursuit of what they see as the greater good.

In 2014 I wrote a story much like this one of a young woman who was a victim of domestic abuse. (I hope you check it out if you haven't already.) She tweeted me asking to help get her story out. And there it was; Bobbie Moulder had a black eye given to her by her Marine husband. She shared her story of a horrific marriage, and how the Military was just doing a dance with her case, and waiting for the clock to just run out on it while her now ex-husband had moved on with a promotion. These abusers continue to abuse partly because men like John Kelly and Donald Trump turn a blind eye to the reality that domestic violence, as well as sexual assault and other related crimes, are wrong. Rob Porter has been pried away from his job after a year. Since then, he has abused another woman who works for the federal government. She won't give her name (no doubt out of fear of losing her job) but she has sought out the advice of the 2 ex-wives.

 (R)Holderness, 37, (L) Willoughby
It's a damn shame that our own government which touts transparency and zero tolerance for this sort of behavior, doesn't have the confidence of women working for them. And Porter has moved on from dating this unknown person, to a relationship with Trump's own White House Communications Director, Hope Hicks. Now whether you like or dislike Miss Hicks, you can't help but wonder how long it could take before another page of domestic abuse will be added. Perhaps a page that might not have been necessary, if the General really believed his words:
“When I was a kid growing up, a lot of things were sacred in our country,” he said. “Women were sacred and looked upon with great honor. That’s obviously not the case anymore, as we see from recent cases.”- HuffPost October 9, 2017


By this weekend Donald Trump's reflection of how he views domestic violence was summed up in one of his tweets. He seems to put a lot of stock in the fact that people who work hard for him couldn't possibly be guilty, and of course after a matter of time should it really matter? His words come off as a dog whistle that accusers are just out to hurt these men. Apparently men free of scandal are hard to find to work for his administration.
The scene from Celebrity Big Brother with a vulnerable Omarosa Manigault who was brought into the inner circle by Trump and cast out by Kelly, says it all. (Whispering) "...It's not my circus, not my monkeys, I'd like to say not my problem but... it's bad." 

My thoughts:  The Evil you accept, is the evil you ignore.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Grab Him by The Presidency

"Turning a human being into a thing,
Is almost always the first step,
Towards justifing violence
Towards that person."

-Jean Killbourne

My thoughts today are not so political as much as a question of how any president of our country should conduct himself. Again the President of the US has shown a moral failure in his leadership. In fact he's gone back to the locker room talk again. Whether you're into politics or not, you can only shade bad behavior so much. I'm taken aback again by the very man who should be setting the highest example of what we all should aspire to be as people and Americans. Donald Trump, in the midst of his bid for the presidency, was caught on a now infamous and verified tape from Access Hollywood joking with Billy Bush on his expertise in predatory behavior towards women.

Trump tells Billy Bush about a failed attempt to seduce Nancy O'Dell, who was Bush's co-host at the time of the recording:
"I moved on her actually-- you know she was down in Palm Beach I moved on her and I failed. I'll admit it--- I did try and fuck her she was married. You know Nancy---  I moved on her very heavily
Trump exiting the Hollywood Access with Billy Bush
and I took her out furniture shopping--- she wanted to get some furniture--- I said I'll show you where they have some nice furniture--- I moved in her like a bitch, but I couldn't get there and she was married. And all of a sudden I see her she's now got the big phony tits and everything--- she's totally changed her look. --- I'm gonna use some tic-tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know I'm automatically attracted to beautiful--- I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet--- I don't need to wait and when you're a star they let you do it. ---You can do anything whatever you want-- grab them by the pussy.---" -Washington Post October 8, 2016 

When the news broke about the frat boy convo, Billy Bush was sacked faster than you could say, "give me a Tic-Tac" and Trump sat in front of a camera and offered up an apology via teleprompter. In his apology statement back in 2016 he promised: "
"Anyone who knows me knows these words don’t reflect who I am. I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize. I’ve traveled the country talking about change for America, but my travels have also changed me. I’ve spent time with grieving mothers who’ve lost their children, laid-off workers whose jobs have gone to other countries, and people from all walks of life who just want a better future. I have gotten to know the great people of our country, and I’ve been humbled by the faith they’ve placed in me. I pledge to be a better man tomorrow and will never, ever let you down."- NY Times November 28, 2017

Everyone now knows that Trump, the candidate, became the 45th president of the United States. In fact some women have remarked to me that Trump's victory has resurrected feelings of being victimized all over again.  And unfortunately other accusations of his behavior with women have followed him into the first year of his presidency. Most of his accusers are sticking to their guns about the former Apprentice star turned Commander-in-Chief's behavior. Women like Summer Zervos who said before reporters that a business meeting with him had gone bad:

Summer Zervous
Zervos said Trump asked to meet her for dinner at the Beverly Hills Hotel. She was instead escorted to a bungalow where, she said, Trump "started kissing me open-mouthed" and groped her breast. "'I pushed his chest to put space between us, and I said, Come on man, get real,' Zervos said. 'He repeated my words back to me, 'get real' as he began thrusting his genitals. He tried to kiss me again with my hands still on his chest, and I said, 'dude, you’re tripping right now,' attempting to make it clear I was not interested."- NBC News October 15, 2016
Donald's bad behavior is resurfacing like wisps of grass through the concrete sidewalk in the "Me Too" hash tag on Twitter. His accusers have found a new voice aided by other survivors of sexual assault as well as Senator (and sexual assault advocate) Kirsten Gillibrand.

In light of the undying allegations against Trump, Gillibrand called for his resignation. Then on Twitter he let the whole world know what he personally thought of the Junior Senator from his own home state. The sexual inference by this man who sits in the oval office was, Gillibrand would prostitute herself for money and career.  The backlash was fast and furious. First from Gillibrand herself, who remarked "You cannot silence me or the millions of women who have gotten off the sidelines to speak out about the unfitness and shame you have brought to the Oval Office." Later as she face reporters on Trump's remarks, she called them a sexist smear. Then (without much prompting) professional women in the media stepped up to respond to Trump's frat boy comments. On election day for Alabama voters, Morning Joe's Mika Brzezinski who has been the target of Trump's past innuendo's and remarks about her personal life, could hardly contain her outrage as she looked dead at the camera.
"I just want to say something beyond the fact that this is reprehensible that the President of the United States would say something so derogatory and disgusting about a woman--- we're not surprised Mr. President, you do it all the time. You treat women terribly and you treat the women around you even worse and you treat women like punching bags, because it's fun for you--- because you were intimidated by women that's your problem okay--- but for the people who work for you, you need to act."- Morning Joe Youtube- December 12, 2017

It was the first time I've ever seen Scarborough almost silent as Mika continued to hammer away at Mr. Trump.  And if there were people who thought that this would be a moment of enlightenment for Trump's White House Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, then they were dead wrong. Instead Sarah chose to pull the president's fat out of the skillet again as she remarked to reporters that "anyone who thought Trump's remarks about Senator Gillibrand were sexual, their minds were in the gutter."
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand unflinching and undeterred 

No doubt this defense is great for the Trump base. It must be a great paying job when someone can betray their own values, and self worth, while lying to the press and the American public. Sanders did a full court press with continuous hoop shots of Trumpian denials defending his reputation like a mother protecting her neighborhood bully-son. When some of the journalists in the room said "apples" Mrs Huckabee Sanders, gave strange "Banana" answers.

In light of this latest Tweet attacking a sitting female Senator, His original promise "I pledge to be a better man tomorrow and will never, ever let you down..." makes me wonder where is the better man? Trump has forgotten that it was women (in spite of all of the scandals and rumors) who helped elect him. Some continue to carry his political water even now. And what's even more disturbing is, his own party has gone silent on this issue. No other president, living or dead, could have gotten away with this sort of behavior. It may take a tremendous feat to restore what it means to be the President of the United States.
I think it's time for Congress to stop being bystanders to this slut-shaming, and grab Trump by the presidency for this latest outrage. He needs to apologize to the Senator and all women in America, which I doubt will ever happen with any unprompted sincerity. Al Franken, who now exits the Senate, had it right when he said,
“I, of all people, am aware that there is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office, and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls, campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party.” 

Special thanks to: 
my foodie friend Yumyumyummy @yikesks on Twitter for alerting me to this issue.

Check out my commentary and perspective on my You Tube Channel posted last year.

Locker Room Talk

Previous issue on the Roy Moore campaign
What If God Was One of Us?

Monday, December 11, 2017

What If God Was One of Us

If God had a name what would it be?
And would you call it to his face?
If you were faced with Him in all His glory
What would you ask if you had just one question?
What if God was one of us?
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Tryin' to make his way home?
-Eric Bazilian

I had a sweet grandmother who favored me a lot, and I would have followed her anywhere. One Sunday she decided to visit the church which was a block from our house and I went with her. I kept on going back, in spite of the weird stain glass windows and hideous ceiling rafters. I went back  because of my attachment for my grandmother. I had an idea about who God was and I've accepted his existence. Maybe I saw his existence in good people like my grandmother and later on in a good guy named Chuck Todd (No relation to the newscaster). Chuck was almost another father who helped me through those hard teenage years.
My friend Catherine doesn't see a reason for God's existence. Her mom asked Catherine to give church a try in her younger years. She even sang in choir at a Protestant church, but it was not a go. She grew up in a scientific family, both grandparents were doctors and couldn’t associate scientific data with the belief in an unknown higher being. Catherine had a great attachment and admiration for her grandfather.
"Yes. My grandpa wanted to invent the pill to help all the poor women who in those days had multiple children. I thought it wasn’t very godly to force these poor women to have children they couldn’t support. I felt religion was built on people’s fears and it was their way to explain the unknown, like what happens to you when you die. Some of the basic tenants I agreed with, helping the poor and treating others well, but trying to control people’s thinking and lives was unappealing." - Catherine O'Brien 
Catherine and I don't talk about science versus God. We have common ground on human rights and respect for civil liberties. When it comes to sexual assault and sexual misconduct, a person's character should matter and not his reputation. A person's reputation is only what people think of him.

This last month has been "flavor of the week" for guys getting called out on past misdeeds. And some real chickens coming home to roost on social media. A few like Al Franken and Charlie Rose have fallen on their swords about their dark deeds. And we watched members of NBC's Today show choke back the grief and utter the words that Matt Lauer, their fellow member, had been dismissed for his bad behavior. It can't be easy for those ladies to look at their audience and admit that one of their own had victimized women in the workplace. But on the flip side of this issue, those who claim to know Judge Roy Moore continue to dig in their heals about the person who they claim is God's choice to go the the Senate in December.

Roy Moore with Wife and supporter Kayla
Moore, who stands accused of sexual assault and pedophile behavior by 8 women, (many who were teenagers at the time when these incidents happened), has declared himself innocent of these charges. Moore's base, as well his campaign spokespersons, have all but claimed that the man can walk on water.  The most telling part of why some are defending him comes out when you hear people like Alan Keyes shout at reporters with fury and spit,"--- it is not up to Judge Moore to provide the truth. It is up to those who accuse in this country. We will not let you strip him of his personal rights--- of his person-hood the way you have stripped out unborn children!"
 His defenders are more concerned about the judge upholding the stone laws of the Bible and bringing a "Thy Kingdom Come" agenda to Washington DC and America.

Janet Porter a conservative activist and president of conservative group Faith2Action and
Janet Porter
Moore's campaign spokesperson, sees Roy Moore's candidacy as a religious mandate.
"This is ground zero for religious liberty; this is ground zero for life, and the winner of this Senate race is winner-
take-all; it will be the deciding vote on the United States Supreme Court who will sit on the court for the next 30 or 40 years." -Janet Porter CNN
In an interview with Anderson Cooper, Porter refused to answer directly about the allegations about her candidate.  Doing some fancy line dance moves on the issues of Roy Moore's character, her answers fit Coopers questions like a banana skin over a melon. Porter also invoked the names of James Dobson, Ben Carson, and Sarah Palin as endorsers.
As a kid growing up in the 60's, my home, my school, and my church were all on the same page about what was right and wrong in life, and especially about abuse and assaulting people. The standards used to be unshakable. Only the most harden or desperate person would continue to stand behind flimsy excuses, or tissues of lies.

Flip Berman, an Evangelical Christian minister and the national leader of Concord, North Carolina-based Operation Save America, a group that evolved from Operation Rescue, defended Moore's attraction for female minors. "He (Moore) did that because there is something about a purity of a young woman, there is something that is good, that's true, that's straight and he looked for that."NY Daily News November 22  
(L) Flip Berman (R) Jim Ziegler 
Do I have to point out to anyone how pervy that sounds? I've got more--- Jim Ziegler, Alabama State Auditor, told the Washington Examiner.
“Take the Bible. Zachariah and Elizabeth for instance. Zachariah was extremely old to marry Elizabeth and they became the parents of John the Baptist,” Ziegler said choosing his words carefully before invoking Christ. “Also take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.”“There’s just nothing immoral or illegal here,” Ziegler concluded. “Maybe just a little bit unusual.” Washington Examiner November 9, 2017

These are desperate people who need to win the big one for God even if it means they will lie and defend a man who allegedly sexually assaulted, several teenage girls. While Moore does a great Billy Graham impression, Dean Young, a personal friend of Moore's and a chief political strategist for his campaign, gave a "mansplaining" defense of Moore's attractiveness to young girls: 
Dean Young doesn't believe the victims

"What I'm okay with is--- Judge Moore made it perfectly clear if he did date a teenager he didn't know about it so--- I can't tell you how many times I've been on a date and then asked a girl how old she was--- especially after I asked her mama if I could date them."- Dean Young CNN News

It's a real head-scratcher that an assistant DA whose should know the laws of his state, and should be smart enough to make sure a girl he's about to become involved with could be jail bait. Either that's another pathetic falsehood, or Young and Moore were living by their own personal code of don't ask, don't tell. 

Other remarks from potential voters have rationed that this all happened so long ago, that God has forgiven the Judge, and so it really makes everything alright.  I've never seen so many people dip their religious chocolate in the political peanut butter. This is what is know as relativistic situational
ethics. Some of these religious types are trying to reshape something wrong by explaining it with Bible scriptures, or excuse someone's behavior by saying we're all sinners and God forgives everyone.
Being desperate to get what they want, they've disregarded some of the concepts of their faith while engaging in verbal spats with journalists. Abandoning the "turn the cheek" philosophy of dealing with people, some of them reciting from the book of Trumpism, called reporters "the fake lying media from the swamp." Their talk wasn't adult-like or Christian for that matter.

I haven't seen Judge Roy Moore offer any credible defense against his accusers as of right now. I heard a lot of interesting remarks from people who speak for him. As a person who knows something about church culture, I can say that I've met some awesome people in my life. They were awesome because they were good people deep down inside. Also I've known some hurtful types of religious people too and I wouldn't trust them to take care of a child or a dog. Religion doesn't make you good. Religion just makes you religious. The same can be said for the humanist or the atheist. Being good is a choice that you work at, either in or outside of church. And maybe it starts with good people like my grandmother, or Catherine's grandpa.

CNN Graphic of Women who Moore Allegedly abused or pursued
Personally, I believe the victims. They've been living in the dark with this secret for too long. They've taken some risks to come out right now against a national figure like Roy Moore. They haven't been paid by the media to tell their stories. And as to why they waited so long to talk? In light of how survivor victims are treated regardless of when they choose to speak out, who can blame them?
My gut tells me, that if God was one of us, he'd tell some religious types to quit dropping his name because frankly, they've never met.

Special thanks to @Deja1422 on Twitter for sharing a little of herself to help. Her grandpa would be proud of her today.

Previous Issue:

Accusers Abusers and Losers

Rutgers Expands Support for Sexual Assault Victims

Monday, November 20, 2017

Accusers, Abusers, and And Losers

Road less Traveled
I've got nothing on my mind, 
Nothing to remember,
Nothing to forget.
And I've got nothing to regret. 
But I'm all tied up on the inside, 
No one knows quite what I've got, 
And I know that on the outside 
What I used to be 
I'm not anymore.
-Don McClean

I hope you will bear with my thoughts and opinions, because some of them are a little heady.
A week ago, by the time I hit the published button, it seemed like a dam had broken. Four more Roy Moore accusers stepped up to add their voices to the original ones. Now, with a few likable personalities such as Al Franken thrown into the mix, followed by President Trump's mocking, it has been a mental pile up of opinions, reactions, and Twitter drama.

For some of us, it's obvious to the most casual person, that someone who has a history of questionable behavior, followed by being banned from their own town's mall, is not suited for public office and needs to be called out on it. I continue to watch the behavior of Roy Moore. He not only says all of his accusers are liars, but he continues to invoke God, Jesus, and his pristine background as a husband, father, and grandfather.

Moore Staff and Supporters with religious zeal yell at media
It's a real moment in politics only found in Brady Bunch re-runs. Moore's wife and sweetheart (a real Carol Brady of the south,) Kayla, proudly stands by her man, along with Moore's political base. We saw a "Night of the Religious Dead" screaming at reporters recently. They barred them access to the Judge, calling the reporters "fake news from the swamp." (How original.)
On the flipside of this Sweet Home Alabama political scenario, news broke out about funny man turned, State Senator, Al Franken. Back in 2006 on a USO tour, Franken did some real dumb and inappropriate things with Leeann Tweeden, a radio host and former model. The photo was jaw dropping to some of his friends, fans, and followers. And the reactions were different. By the time the full effect was felt, it was like a 20-car pile-up. Opinions outside of the "gotcha" crowd, called for Franken's resignation, some felt the comparison to Donald Trump and Moore was unfair, others chimed in, "They all should go!"  While others suspect that the Franken attack was a hit job with a fake photo. Some of that back and forth discourse didn't end well. I even suspect some of this could have opened up old personal wounds of sexual abuse or harassment.

What I Use To Be, I'm Not Anymore

The reality for me has been that although there are unrepentant types in politics, in the entertainment arena, or even in my personal life, people are not perfect. They will disappoint and disillusion us and it hurts sometimes.

I've said very little on the subject of Bill Cosby, because the initial revelations and fallout almost
Bill Cosby and Cast of very famous 80's sitcom
wrecked me. I grew up in the sixties admiring him as an example of what a black man could become. He went from stand up comic to the voice of Fat Albert (giving moral lessons to kids),
iconic TV Dad in the 80's, and spokesman on many issues. So when the news of Cosby's serial sexual assaults came, it hit me like a wrecking ball. For awhile I was stunned into silence, and maybe secretly praying that this was some cruel prank or conspiracy. But as it became more evident that my idol was a rapist, I had to work through my five stages of grief and admit to myself, "Yes, he did those things."  I couldn't excuse him, or crawl into some imaginary Cliff Huxtable world. One of the lesson's I've learned is that, the truth may set you free, but it can sometimes hurt like hell.

To Al Franken's personal credit, he responded to the allegations almost immediately.
"The first thing I want to do is apologize: to Leeann, to everyone else who was part of that tour, to everyone who has worked for me, to everyone I represent, and to everyone who counts on me to be an ally and supporter and champion of women. There's more I want to say, but the first and most important thing—and if it's the only thing you care to hear, that's fine—is: I'm sorry.
"I respect women. I don't respect men who don't. And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that, makes me feel ashamed.
"But I want to say something else, too. Over the last few months, all of us—including and especially men who respect women—have been forced to take a good, hard look at our own actions and think (perhaps, shamefully, for the first time) about how those actions have affected women. See full statement at CNN.com. 
SNL Comic turned Senator Al Franken 
An apology doesn't make everything rosy for the Senator. But maybe it highlights the difference in someone whose not running away from himself or what he did. His actions towards Miss Tweeden were wrong, the picture (according to one of my friends,) triggered her PTSD. This is why I've always said that rape is not, and cannot, be judged politically. This is a personal issue. And even when it's not personal for you, it can be for someone you know.
Simply illustrated: if the most likable person you know who also likes you as well, takes you to dinner and treats a waitress badly, maybe even pinches her ass, do you dismiss it? If she complains about it, do you say to her, "he really is a nice guy" or "he was just kidding..."  or "That's just the way he is. But he doesn't mean any harm." Then you've just co-signed with someone against that waitress who brought your food, kept your water glass filled, and served you with a smile.

All Tied Up On The Inside

It's okay to admit you're struggling with a nice guy's behavior. In fact to admit that to others, like Sarah Silverman did, is very human.
Stand-up Comic Sarah Silverman
"One of my best friends of over 25 years, Louie C.K, masturbated in front of women---He wielded his power with women and in f**ked up ways sometimes to the point where they left Comedy entirely. I could couch this with heartwarming stories of our friendship and what a great dad he is but that's totally irrelevant isn't it? Yes it is. It's a real mindf**k--- you know because,  I love Louie--- but Louie did these things. Both of those statements are true. So I just keep asking myself-- can you love someone who did bad things? Can you still love them? I can mull that over later certainly because the only people that matter right now are the victims. They are victims, and they're victims because of something he did--- so I hope it's okay if I am at once very angry for the women he wronged, and the culture that enabled it. And also sad, because he's my friend. But I believe with all my heart that this moment in time is essential it's vital that people are held accountable for their actions no matter who they are we need to be better--- we will be better.- Sarah Silverman Comments on Sexual Harassment
For me Sarah Silverman is a hero. That may repulse some of you because she's been associated with Louie CK. But I see her as someone who seems to be vulnerable and scared enough to admit this whole issue is a big fat freaking mess. The person she admired did this, and she's pissed and confused, and really doesn't want to talk about it. But she's laying it out there in an un-cute and unfunny way. That takes courage. She's not saying things to make the tribe or her fans feel better. It's just a messed up situation and it is what it is.

All Roads Lead To Where We Stand

Before I finish this next sentence, there will be more sexual harassment and sex assault revelations coming out. We have to also remember that there are also un-famous abusers still committing these crimes to not-so-famous people like ourselves. So maybe we have to ask ourselves-- "Does this get our attention because I care about the issue, and the people it hurts?" Or am I getting swept along because it's what's trending right now? It's not wrong to give input about the famous people who are in powerful positions in Hollywood, Government, or even in religion, but also if you truly want to see rape culture stopped, and bad behavior not normalized, we need to remember where be personally started with this issue. For me it was because a family member had been sexually assaulted. I became more aware about this issue because with every person who privately shared their story outside of the spotlight, something in me changed. I also remember feeling like a single voice trying to get others attention about rape, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and other issues. When you care about something like this, you speak up for the people whose lives it's affecting. That's something that I try to remember for the sake of one more person who wonders if their life really matters.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends who strive to survive in this Invisible War.

Previous Issue

Her At Fourteen

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Her At Fourteen

Janis Ian wrote the words to a song about teenage awkwardness. Besides the struggle of figuring out where and how to fit in, many girls and boys deal with quiet secrets.

On Twitter the conversations have moved from #Metoo to #MeAt14. Some of the Tweets with shared
pics, reflect a time when we were too old for some things, and not grown-up enough for other things. Some of us had never used the word consent in a complete sentence, much less knew what it meant.

Left- @GottaLaff  Right- @Ynubet reflect on being 14
My friend, @GottaLaff Remembers: #MeAt14 "Nobody was more innocent, trusting. I had braces, I was shy, and couldn't talk to boys." When adults let us into their lives, we felt a little more grown-up too. We trusted them with our innocence, and in some cases aspired to be more like the ones closest to us. Some of the Tweets seem to open up deep wounds that should have never been inflicted as in the case of someone called @Ynubet: This is #MeAt14. I'd already endured several years of sexual assault and physical abuse by adults. This was me, finally happy, in my 2nd adoption. A short time after this was taken, I was assaulted twice by my peers. She was betrayed by adults who appeared to be trust-worthy. Some remember what it meant to be 14 or 17, in the worse way.

In 1979, Leigh Corfman, a 14 year old young girl sat outside a courtroom in Etowah County, Alabama with her mother. Her life was changing significantly because of a child custody hearing. She no doubt had many feelings going around in her head and what all of that would mean to her future. As she and her Mom sat on that wooden bench outside the courthouse, a friendly and charming 32 year old assistant district attorney, approached them and struck up a conversation with Leigh and her mother. Perhaps he was the most friendly face they has seen in the courthouse that day. The man's name was Roy Moore and his demeanor must have seemed disarming to the pair as he offered to sit and watch the young teen while mother bearded the lion in the judicial den. “He said, ‘Oh, you don’t want her to go in there and hear all that. I’ll stay out here with her.’ ” The mom, Nancy Wells, seemed impressed at the time, as she would later recall, “how nice for him to want to take care of my little girl.” Nancy then walked off and apparently never gave it a second thought. By the time her business in the courtroom was over, Roy Moore had charmed and flattered Leigh Corfman, asking about her school, personal interests, and concluding their talk with an exchange of phone numbers.

Leigh Corfman and Mom, Nancy Wells (1997)
Perhaps it was a strange and wonderful feeling that the teenager felt that day. She had a new friend in her life who was older, and an important one at that. In 1979 a fourteen year old girl living in a Bible belt state like Alabama would assuredly be naive compared to one living in this present day. No internet, no cell phones, and cable TV was less than a decade old. I mention these facts to say Leigh Corfman was a child who was about to keep company with an man twice her age.

Moore would convince this impressionable teenager to meet him around the corner from her house, and then drive her to his home where he engaged in criminal and lewd behavior.

Days later, she says, he picked her up around the corner from her house in Gadsden, drove her about 30 minutes to his home in the woods, told her how pretty she was and kissed her. On a second visit, she says, he took off her shirt and pants and removed his clothes. He touched her over her bra and underpants, she says, and guided her hand to touch him over his underwear.
“I wanted it over with — I wanted out,” she remembers thinking. “Please just get this over with. Whatever this is, just get it over.” Corfman says she asked Moore to take her home, and he did.- Washington Post November 9, 2017
In a scathing tell-all article from the Washington Post Judge Roy Moore's sexual life has been opened up for everyone to see. When you run for elected office, this is fair and realistic. Every rock will get turned over, every nook and cranny will be flushed through. It's the gauntlet you walk, or you drop out. Thirty witnesses, including Corfman's Mom, gave statements which back up what took place. The article also recounts other teenage girls stories, who knew him and he personally pursued these girls as well. Although nothing as sexually graphic happened with the other teenage girls at the time, the 32 year old Moore's pattern of behavior was unnerving for someone who was suppose to know and enforced the law. Roy Moore, now a judge with ambitions to grab the brass ring of the Senate, is calling this a hit job. Now 70, Moore laid out his political and personal track record to the media including a wonderful wife of 32 years, 4 children, highlighting the fact that one is a daughter. On the outside looking into Moore's life, he's a family man with so-called religious and moral convictions, plus a stellar career. Last weekend he seemed shocked and dismayed that someone would attack his life, especially now.
Roy Moore gives defense against allegations of sexual misconduct
"I've been investigated more than any other person in this country. To think that grown women would wait 40 years to come before--- right before an election to bring charges is absolutely unbelievable. Why now?"- Roy Moore  Veteran's Day campaign event. Birmingham, Alabama. November 11, 2017
If Moore had been on the outside looking in at Leigh Corfman's life, then (according to the WaPo article) he'd realize his encounter with her set off a chain of bad circumstances for the girl as she became a woman. What blamers and shamers of sexual assault don't see are the invisible scars of self-abuse survivors struggle with. Self-blame is the biggest struggle, which can turn into other problems.
“I felt responsible,” she says. “I felt like I had done something bad. And it kind of set the course for me doing other things that were bad.” She says that her teenage life became increasingly reckless with drinking, drugs, boyfriends, and a suicide attempt when she was 16." -Washington Post November 9, 2017
The young woman pushed her dirty secret down deeper. Leigh's attempt with marriage failed 3 times. Plus an unsuccessful try at business, got her in hot water with the IRS. She knew something was going haywire inside of her. Perhaps this dark secret about an assistant DA, now a judge, was pushing hard on her life. Roy Moore also didn't see that Leigh Corfman had struggled to confront him at least 3 times. According to the same article, Corfman had driven to the office of the career climbing judge. She sat outside his office rehearsing a speech in her mind that she didn't have the nerve to give him. Fear can hold back some survivors for days, while some survivors feel tethered for years.
Many things keep them from speaking out about the Harvey Weinsteins, the Bill Cosbys or any powerful person. Not all survivors speak out at the same time, (if they speak out at all.) Why now Mr. Moore? Perhaps because as you continued to rise to prominence in political circles it became harder and harder for Miss Corfman to escape seeing your face on television, wearing a Stetson and waving a toy gun. Or reading about you in the newspapers, or seeing you larger than life on a billboard.  Survivors always carry around a ton of guilt about their assault, But sooner or later they may have an "I don't give a damn" moment, and finally speak out. When you don't know how life works for a victim of pedophilia, rape, sexual assault, or sexual harassment, then you don't understand that speaking out won't come at a time that will make some people happy. And we don't get to tell a survivor when that will be.

One person is fighting for a political career. The other is fighting to break free and live as a whole person. Some people who see Judge Moore as a true religious pillar, shockingly have already said, "I would rather vote for a child molester, than some guy whose not from my party!" Does winning in politics, mean that you would violate your own moral standards? Maybe the rhetorical question for the sake of victims of sexual assault and the least of these in our country has to be: "What does it profit someone to gain everything, and lose their soul? And what would you give in exchange for your soul?" Roy Moore, and the voters of Alabama will have to answer those questions, sooner or later.

Special thanks to: 

@GottaLaff and @Ynubet reflect on Twitter
And all of those who have shared in the #MeAt14 trend. I've learned a lot.

Previous Issue:

Sexual assault behind the shield.Law And Disorder

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Law and Disorder

"The abuse of women and girls is the most pervasive and unaddressed human rights violation on this Earth."                  
-Jimmy Carter

Warning: The following article contains graphic descriptions of sexual violence.

I would give this article a musical theme, but the issue is so vile it doesn't deserve one. we're in the #MeToo era in our society. Hollywood powerful types are being called out for predatory behavior. And that is good. We need to have that conversation. It can make a difference. 
I have a certain list for bad cops too: for either killing unarmed civilians, or rape. The first one has been heavily debated on social media with comments like,
Ayanna Cruver tells her story tearfully.
"you should always obey a police officer... he must have done something to get shot... Or the video doesn't tell the whole story." Good police deserve our respect and support.  But the shocking reality is, like the weeds among the wheat, there are bad cops among the good ones who do the one thing which they should be protecting people from. It can feel like a game of Russian roulette for a person to get pulled over in today's climate. You never know what could happen or if you will meet a good cop or bad cop. Ayanna Cruver was pulled over by a policeman. Her story had a good conclusion. But she felt the fear and horror that some feel when the police pulls a woman, or a person of color over these days. (Watch her video on YouTube) If her words or story causes feelings of empathy then you understand this issue better than most.

The latest scenario plays out like the Daniel Hotzclaw case. Some of you may remember the Oklahoma City cop who was brought to justice after sexually assaulting 13 African American women in 2015. I was hoping we would having seen the last of that sort of betrayal by some of our men in blue, but not so.
Two detectives, Edward Martins and Richard Hall, assigned to patrol the Coney Island neighborhood as part of an anti-drug unit, Brooklyn South Narcotics, broke off from the rest of their team and stopped 18-year-old Anna Chambers and two of her friends, both men, driving an Infinity coupe in Calvert Vaux Park.  As one of the detectives shined his flashlight through the window and saw the young woman adjusting her bra the other one asked if she was hiding something, Anna told him she was simply adjusting her nipple piercing.  The detectives asked her to prove it, and the young woman complied by lifting up her top, exposing her breasts.
Trolling Cops handcuff suspect with false motives
Like Daniel Hotzclaw, these 2 cops were trolling for vulnerable women who may have run afoul of the law before.  So when they came across a small amount of grass and other pills, they didn't call for back up, or even arrest the male passengers. They simply removed the Chambers, put cuffs on her and drove away. Martins called the woman’s friends who were left behind telling them not to follow them. The number was blocked keeping them from being located. According to the prosecutor for this case, Frank DeGaetano:
It was then that Detective Martins sat down next to the woman and said that he and his partner were “freaks,” asking her what she wanted to do to avoid being arrested, Mr. DeGaetano said. After tightening the handcuffs, Detective Martins pulled out his penis and forced the woman to perform oral sex on him, Mr. DeGaetano said. Then he turned her around, pulled her pants down and raped her, Mr. DeGaetano added, as Detective Hall watched through the rearview mirror and the young woman cried and pleaded with Detective Martins to stop. -NY Times October 30, 2017
Anna Chambers
This was followed by the men driving to a quiet location, switching places, Hall then sexually assaulted Miss Chambers. Apparently the detectives drove her a few blocks away from the precinct where she called her friends. The victim told her male friends of the attack, and they took her to a hospital, where a rape kit was done, and the DNA evidence proved positive for sexual activity.
However admitting to the crime must have been beneath both Martin and Hall's pay grade. They both said the sex was consensual. The idea that two of New York's Finest' best defense for this heinous act was to call it "consensual" was not only unprofessional, but seriously pathetic.
New York City Councilman Mark Treyger is determine to close an arguable loophole in the law. He says whatever happened in the van should be illegal and that a person in police custody cannot give consent.
"There is no such thing as consensual sex when someone else is in police custody. That is rape," NYC Councilman Mark Treyger.- NBC4 New York
Currently both men's lawyers are trying to defend them on the grounds that Miss Chambers trapped them both into sex, and then she was attempting to get some sort of possible payout. The defense is attempting to paint this young woman as being a questionable witness who was apprehended with drugs on her. However no formal charges were filed against Chambers.
Like any horrific act, the victim is still trying to deal with the aftermath of it all. According to  another article, in People:
Her attorney, Michael David, tells PEOPLE “She feels helpless and depressed, and she stays in a room all day,” David tells PEOPLE. “She was planning to go to college next semester, but she won’t be doing that anymore. Two monsters with badges and guns drove off with her in a small minivan and raped her while on duty.”- People/Crime People.com October 30, 2017
Miller and Hall arraigned with no blue wall support for them- NY Times
Okay, I get it. We no longer live in the day and age of Joe Friday, or Reed and McCoy the polite TV cops who tipped their hats, and said,"Just the facts ma'am." Some seem to like their detectives, a little more sexy, with a few vices, and edgier these days. But policemen are still thought of as exceptional men and women in the public's eye. What they should represent is honesty, respect for those they serve, and doing the right thing even when no one is looking. The question in many people's minds no doubt is: how do you trust the people who carry a badge, and are suppose to represent the finest ideas in a society when they give in to the darkest perversions and deepest of human betrayals, just because they have power over us? To some that may sound like hyperbole, but we've seen far too many acts of police misconduct to write this off as just another isolated incident.
Anna Chambers was brave enough to undergo an embarrassing Rape kit probe, and report her rape to the police, thus coming back with a 50-count indictment from the DA.
Typically, when officers are charged with crimes, their colleagues come to court in a sea of blue uniforms to support them. But on Monday, October 30, not one officer appeared in court with Detectives Martins and Hall. Hopefully that will be an omen in the victim's favor.

Special Thanks to:

Anna Chambers @annaaachambers for allowing me to share her story. Give her a word of encourament on Twitter.

Previous Issue

Truth and Justice, ...the Deplorable Way
It's Fox News versus  Superman! No really. Fox editorializes the dangers  of children reading comics where a super hero prevents immigrants from being slaughtered by an American patriot.

On My Vlog Channel 

Check out the first YouTube video on Audrie And Daisy. The only thing as bad as sexual assault, is when others side with the perpetrators.

Thank you all for your support.