“my rights end where yours begin”

That’s the whole conundrum of invoking God as the singular rationale for or against public policy—God says lots of different things to lots of different people, and all of them think that they’re right.
Melissa McEwan, “MREWYB“, Shakesville.

Yup. Melissa McEwan is there talking specifically about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, but her point is broadly applicable.

TRiG.

Google Glass: Privacy, Surveillance, Technology, Data

Google’s new product, Glass, will enable secret video recording.

Now pretend you don’t know a single person who wears Google Glass… and take a walk outside. Anywhere you go in public – any store, any sidewalk, any bus or subway – you’re liable to be recorded: audio and video. Fifty people on the bus might be Glassless, but if a single person wearing Glass gets on, you – and all 49 other passengers – could be recorded. Not just for a temporary throwaway video buffer, like a security camera, but recorded, stored permanently, and shared to the world.

Recorded video will be stored not on users’ own computers, but in Google’s data-centres. With Google’s excellent technology, indexing such videos using face recognition and voice transcription many not be too far behind. And who will have access to that data?

This is, of course, one of those things that, in general, matters far more to the margenilised  (who are often poor) than it does to the early adopters (who, in the case of this expensive product, must be rich). And so, as ever, the concerns of the margenalised are not heard in the public debate.

Someone in Seattle has been deliberately annoying people by videoing them in an intrusive fashion. His actual purpose is unknown (he’s anonymous), but it seems he’s trying to make a point:

In most cases, people become agitated and tell him to stop. That’s when the cameraman makes his point: Cameras are everywhere already. This one just happens to be held by a person instead of mounted on a wall or traffic light.

That said, surveillance cameras are often not reviewed, and the footage is usually deleted unless there’s a crime to investigate. What will happen with Google Glass footage is anyone’s guess: it probably won’t follow existing proven solutions.

One possiblitity, of course, is strong social shaming of people who use such technology. Physical assault is probably going a bit too far, though it has been attempted.

I mentioned recently that I am mystified by right-wingers. One of our many points of difference is that they’re more scared of powerful government, and I’m more scared of powerful corporations. Governments are scary too, but at least we get a chance to vote on them. Monopolies, less so.

And monopolies really are a problem. Putting all surveillance into the hands of the “authorities” (be they the police, transport authorities, or simply business owners) isn’t safe either. Citizen recording of police action has helped out in more than one incident of violent assault by police officers, and CCTV footage does have a tendency to go missing when it shows police in a bad light. Steve Mann refers to this citizen check on authorities’ actions as sousveillance, and he does have a point. So where does, and where should, the power ballance lie?

TRiG.

Marriage (word, action; name, deed): the significance and cultural understanding thereof

Any relationship you have might be good enough for civil unions, but not for marriage.

At Box Turtle Bulletin, Rob Tisinai talks about why having marriage, not just civil unions, is important:

I have to think segregation of straight and gay relationships has a detrimental effect on gays. It denotes the inferiority of gay relationships. It leaves gays with an attitude of futility when it comes to commitment.

Compare also the Supreme Court brief by Olson and Boies.

Add to this Timothy Kincaid’s remarks on how legally confusing the current patchwork of laws are:

This year Ireland, as part of its new civil partnerships law, decided to recognize marriages – and similar institutions – from other nations as civil partnerships within its borders.

Ireland didn’t miss any country which recognises same-sex marriage, but it did miss various other “civil union” and “domestic partnership” arrangements, even some which were identical to marriage in all but name. Terminology: it matters.

TRiG.

Maamtrasna Murders: Photos

The Maamtrasna murders, 130 years ago, were shockingly brutal, but they are more remembered today for the blatant miscarrage of justice in the following court case. Myles Joyce was hung, protesting his innocence to the last. Recently, the National Library of Ireland has acquired photographs of Myles Joyce and the other nine men accused of the Maamtrasna murders.

Another report adds:

A monoglot Irish speaker, Myles Joyce, who had no English, was defended in court in Dublin by a solicitor and barristers who spoke no Irish. The evidence he gave as Gaeilge was ignored in court. Evidence which might have helped his defence was withheld and the trial also heard from informers gave false evidence against him.

The judge and jury who convicted him had no Irish and the jury deliberated for less than six minutes to decide on his guilt before sentence of death was passed.

An Coimisinéir Teanga, Seán Ó Cuirreáin, said Mr Joyce’s case was one of most significant and distressing cases ever concerning the denial of language rights.

TRiG.

I believe: How it works

British pharmacists are allowed as a matter of conscience by their regulatory body to pretend they believe that contraception is an “abortifacient”.

A pharmacist who claims to believe that emergency contraception (or even regular daily contraception) is an “abortifacient” is either lying in order to justify imposing their religious views on other people, or is allowing their religious beliefs to overrule their scientific training.

Meanwhile, in America, Hobby Lobby thinks it should be exempt from covering medical care “they believe” causes abortion.

So Hobby Lobby’s legal claim is that a company has a “religious liberty” right to avoid anything they say causes abortion even if it does nothing of the sort.

If Hobby Lobby were to be granted such an exemption, then, what would prevent any other corporation from claiming that it believes minimum wage laws, OSHA regulations, nuclear safety rules and fire codes are also “abortifacient”?

What Hobby Lobby is seeking isn’t merely some legal permission to be exempt from providing health insurance. The corporation is seeking the “religious liberty” to redefine reality and to rewrite the laws of medicine, human anatomy, biology and chemistry.

The medical care they’re talking about is, again, emergency contraception, which (keep up) does not cause abortion. It doesn’t even cause abortion in the very narrow sense of preventing implantation, which most medical experts would not call abortion anyway:

There were studies done that show that overly huge amounts of estrogen can cause failure to implant in mice, so that warning was stuck on Plan B while they studied it in human vagina owners. But no proof has been found that it happens in human women.

Of course, this is actually all about sex:

If Hobby Lobby said that they believed cancer was caused by sinful behavior, and therefore they weren’t covering chemotherapy, they would be shamed so fast they wouldn’t know what hit them.

Except when it’s all about politics:

I note in passing that Hobby Lobby is neither passionately sincere or sincerely passionate.  They offered this coverage without any qualms until they found out that President Obama wanted to make them do it.

TRiG.

Where do misogynists get their special biology lessons from?

Warning: This post mentions rape, trivialisation of rape, and abuse of power. Violence is described, a little too graphically for my own comfort.

Remember Todd Akin telling us that women can’t get pregnant from rape? Now a judge has gone one better.

A man who “threatened to mutilate the face and genitals of his ex-girlfriend with a heated screwdriver, beat her with a metal baton and made other violent threats before committing rape, forced oral copulation, and other crimes” was in court, and the judge, Derek Johnson, said that the rape didn’t really count because the woman wasn’t injured enough for a real rape.

As gidgetcommando summed it up on Shakesville,

So it’s either have your vagina “shredded” by a penis that’s entering without your consent or have it burned and mutilated by a heated screwdriver, also without your consent, otherwise you’re a slutty slut-slut who wanted it.

TRiG.

Desmond Tutu on Uganda’s proposed anti-homosexuality bill

People have over many centuries devised all kinds of terrible instruments to oppress other people. Usually, they have rationalised their awful actions on the basis of their belief in their own superiority, in their culture, in their spiritual beliefs, in their skin-colour. Thus, they argue, they are justified to hate and bomb and maim the “other”.

The freedom of one depends upon the freedom of all. We call it the spirit of ubuntu: the idea that I cannot be free if you are not also free.

The proposed anti-homosexuality legislation in Uganda includes the death penalty, not only for homosexual acts, but for failing to report suspect acts of others. It would criminalise landlords, counsellors, parents, priests (in religions which practise confession), and many others.

Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, and a renowned leader on issues of human rights, has an editorial today in the Daily Monitor, Uganda’s biggest newspaper. It’s well worth reading in full. See also Box Turtle Bulletin.

The US Supreme Court have a decision to make

A number of cases on various issues around same-sex marriage have been referred to the US Supreme Court. So far, the court has not decided whether or not to hear any of the cases. There are complex issues in play. One way or another, the issue is likely to come before the court soon. And, when it does, history will be made. This is the most import issue this set of judges is ever likely to face.

TRiG.