Thursday, 22 June 2017

Belfast (1977)

Got to have a believin'
Got to have a believin'
Got to have a believin'
All the people
'Cause the people are leavin'
When the people believin'
When the people believin'
When the people believin'
All the children cause the children
Are leavin'

When the country rings the leaving bell you're lost

When the hate you have
For one another's past
You can try (You can try)
You can try (You can try)
You can try
To tell the world the reason why
It's the country that's changin'
Oh, it's the country that's changin'
It's the country that's changin'
All the people
'Cause the people are leavin'
It's the world that's deceivin'
It's the world that's deceivin'
It's the world that's deceivin'
All the people
'Cause the people believin' (...)

More Boney M:

::: Gotta go home: WATCH/LISTEN
::: Ma Baker: WATCH/LISTEN
::: Rasputin: WATCH/LISTEN
::: Daddy Cool: WATCH/LISTEN

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- Photograph via
- lyrics via

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

World Refugee Day: Ahmed and Harry

"Every minute 20 people leave everything behind to escape war, persecution or terror."
United Nations

"I’ve met so many who have lost so much. But they never lose their dreams for their children or their desire to better our world. They ask for little in return – only our support in their time of greatest need"
António Guterres, UN Secretary-General

Monday, 19 June 2017

The Aggressive Driver Syndrome, Age, Gender and Type of Car

Aggressive driving (tailgating, rude gestures, passing on the shoulder, pulling into a parking space someone else was waiting for, etc.) is a cultural norm, a socially acquired practice with age and gender differences.
The results of a telephone survey of 1.000 adult drivers conducted in 2000 show that young drivers are more aggressive than older drivers, that men are more aggressive than women when they drive sports cars and light trucks, and women are more aggressive than men when they drive SUVs and luxury cars. The author, in fact, distinguishes between "tough driving cars" (sports, light trucks, SUVs), "soft driving cars" (economy, family), and "special driving cars" (vans, luxury) stating that each of these "psychological categories" has its own aggressive driving syndrome. These are correlations, no causality is discussed.

The author also conducted an online survey in which 72% of female van drivers confessed to swearing and cussing on a regular basis vs. 46% of male drivers of economy cars.
Generally, men described themselves higher on aggressiveness than women (either because they really are or because it is culturally more accepted, or a mix of these reasons). The difference was significant, little in numbers (6 vs. 5.5), and high in effect. When considering the lifetime of one generation of drivers, the author comes to the conclusion that women's lesser aggressiveness would theoretically lead to 120.000 lives saved and 500.000 injuries less. The type of aggressiveness is also related to age and gender. Women, for instance, swear more than men do. So do young drivers compared to older ones. Men, in contrast, speed more than women (so do younger drivers compared to older ones).
"One of the discoveries I made by studying drivers for many years is that they like to underestimate their errors and overestimate their skills. In this sample, people rated themselves as a driver on a 10-point scale, from (1) poor to (10) excellent. Men rate themselves close to 8 while women rate themselves close to 7. This is is significant and substantial, but the interpretation is not entirely clear. It's possible that men are better drivers than women, but not necessarily. It could be that men underestimate their errors, while women are more realistic or honest. What's interesting when you look at the graph, is that this gender difference is replicated across the 10 states for which I had enough respondents to attain reliability."
Interestingly, those who consider themselves near perfect also confess to significantly more aggressiveness.

Although the sample is not representative and one has to be careful when analysing self-assessment, this study has some interesting findings.

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- James, L. (2000). Aggressive Driving Analyzed: National Web Based Survey of 1.200 Drivers. The Effect of Age, Gender, and Type of Car Driven Across the States, online
- Photograph via

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Quoting Betty White

"I may be a senior, but so what? I'm still hot."
Betty White

"I think older women still have a full life."
Betty White

"Retirement is not in my vocabulary. They aren't going to get rid of me that way."
Betty White

"I don't care who anybody sleeps with. If a couple has been together all that time - and there are gay relationships that are more solid than some heterosexual ones - I think it's fine if they want to get married. I don't know how people can get so anti-something."
Betty White

"Don't try to be young. Just open your mind. Stay interested in stuff. There are so many things I won't live long enough to find out about, but I'm still curious about them. You know people who are already saying, 'I'm going to be 30 - oh, what am I going to do?' Well, use that decade! Use them all!"
Betty White

"I think it's your mental attitude. So many of us start dreading age in high school and that's a waste of a lovely life. 'Oh... I'm 30, oh, I'm 40, oh, 50.' Make the most of it."
Betty White

"My mom said to never lie about your age because you'll forget what you told one person and get mixed up. My age has been published over the years, so I could no more say I'm younger than 92 than fly to the moon. But it's amazing—past a certain age, you can get away with murder. You can do anything and people will say, 'Well, the poor old soul, she's … you know …'"
Betty White

"Why retire from something if you're loving it so much and enjoying it so much, and you're blessed with another group of people to work with like the gang on 'Hot in Cleveland?' Why would I think of retiring? What would I do with myself?"
Betty White

"I was one of the first women producers in Hollywood."
Betty White

"I'm the luckiest broad on two feet, I'll tell you that. They say once a woman passes 40 she doesn't get any good parts, so I'm blessed."
Betty White

“I’ve always liked older men. They’re just more attractive to me. Of course, at my age there aren’t that many left!”
Betty White

"Gravity has taken over. So there’s not much I can do about it … My problem with [plastic surgery] is you’ll go to a women’s press conference or something like that, and old friends will come up and I kind of don’t recognize them. I recognize the voice, but I don’t—all of a sudden, there’s this whole new face that I don’t know who that is."
Betty White

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photographs via and via

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Applying for a job at Disney in the Golden Age of Animation

"He [Walt Disney] didn't trust women or cats."
Ward Kimball

In 1938, Walt Disney Productions wrote a letter to a female applicant and turned down her request to enroll in the training programme because she was a woman. This letter received some attention in the past years. Meryl Streep, for instance, held a "nine-minute tour-de-force" speech at the National Board of Review dinner in 2014. In her speech, she read the letter and called Disney a "gender bigot" (via and via).

The same year, The Walt Disney Family Museum reacted by putting the letter into historical context and stating that the limited role of women in the workplace in the 1930s was culturally accepted, i.e. "normal".
"At that time, most companies in America were mostly male-dominated with women providing smaller support roles. There were several prominent women within Walt Disney Productions, well before WWII made women the backbone of the American workforce. In speeches made to his employees on February 10 and 11, 1941, Walt observed that women artists could fully equal their male counterparts, and were being included in his studio animation training program. (...) Hazel Sewell served as an art director on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which was released in 1937—a year before the letter mentioned above was dated." (The Walt Disney Family Museum)
In the 1930s and 1940s, "men and women were relegated to very specific roles in the animated film process". Creative men worked in the Animation Department while creative women worked in the Ink and Paint Department. About 100 women mostly under the age of 25 worked in this department, the inkers were called the "queens" of the department (via).

"The extent of Walt’s narrow casting—and prejudices—from political beliefs to religion to gender has been the subject of much conjecture. Rae, an outstanding high-school artist, like many of the girls, heard that “each time they were beginning to get good they’ve quit to get married or something. So now he’s thumbs down on girl animators.” “The consensus was that a man has a better feel for action, personality and caricature,” said a later story about Disney female employees in a Hollywood newspaper. But Ruthie knew better. “It was a man’s world all over the place,” she said with typically wry candor. “The stars were the beauties who sang and wiggled their fannies around—that’s all girls were useful for.”"
Patricia Zohn, Vanity Fair

June 7, 1938

Miss Mary V. Ford

Dear Miss Ford:

Your letter of recent date has been received in the Inking and Painting Department for reply.

Women do not do any of the creative work in connection with preparing the cartoons for the screen, as that work is performed entirely by young men. For this reason girls are not considered for the training school.

The only work open to women consists of tracing the characters on clear celluloid sheets with India ink and filling in the tracings on the reverse side with paint according to directions.

In order to apply for a position as "Inker" or "Painter" it is necessary that one appear at the Studio, bringing samples of pen and ink and water color work. It would not be advisable to come to Hollywood with the above specifically in view, as there are really very few openings in comparison with the number of girls who apply.

Yours very truly,
Walt Disney Productions, Ltd.
Mary Cleave

Here is another rejection letter from 1939: LINK

“If a woman can do the work as well, she is worth as much as a man. The girl artists have the right to expect the same chances for advancement as men, and I honestly believe they may eventually contribute something to this business that men never would or could.”
Walt Disney
Today, the Walt Disney Company is one of DiversityInc Top 50 companies for diversity (via). The company has launched a great many diversity and inclusion initiatives (e.g. the annual Women's Leadership Conference), has 32 Diversity & Inclusion full time staff members (via) and earned 100% on the Diversity Index a few years ago (via).

:: Related posting: Mickey Mouse & Jim Crow

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images via and via and via and via

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen, by Olympe de Gouges (1791)

Olympe de Gouges (1748-1793) was a French political activist, feminst and playwright. In "Les Droits de la Femme" she stated that the "Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen" was not applied to women. Her devotion to the cause of women's rights, the vote for women and women's education led to her being charged with treason. Olympe de Gouges was arrested, tried and executed by guillotine (via).

The Rights of Woman

Man, are you capable of being just? It is a woman who poses the question; you will not deprive her of that right at least. Tell me, what gives you sovereign empire to opress my sex? Your strength? Your talents? Observe the Creator in his wisdom; survey in all her grandeur that nature with whom you seem to want to be in harmony, and give me, if you dare, an exampl of this tyrannical empire. Go back to animals, consult the elements, study plants, finally glance at all the modifications of organic matter, and surrender to the evidence when I offer you the menas; search, probe, and distinguish, if you can, the sexes in the administration of nature. Everywhere you will find them mingled; everywhere they cooperate in harmonious tpgetherness in this immortal masterpiece.
Man alone has raised his exceptional circumstances to a principle. Bizarre, blind, bloated with science and degenerated--in a century of enlightenment and wisdom--into the crassest ignorance, he wants to command as a despot a sex which is in full possession of its intellectual faculties; he pretends to enjoy the Revolution and to claim his rights to equality in order to say nothing more about it.

Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen


Mothers, daughters, sisters [and] representatives of the nation demand to be constituted into a national assembly. Believing that ignorance, omission, or scorn for the rights of woman are the only causes of public misfortunes and of the corruption of governments, [the women] have resolved to set forth a solemn declaration the natural, inalienable, and sacred rights of woman in order that this declaration, constantly exposed before all members of the society, will ceaselessly remind them of their rights and duties; in order that the authoritative acts f women and teh athoritative acts of men may be at any moment compared with and respectful of the purpose of all political institutions; and in order that citizens' demands, henceforth based on simple and incontestable principles, will always support the constitution, good morals, and the happiness of all.
Consequently, the sex that is as superior in beauty as it is in courage during the sufferings of maternity recognizes and declares in the presence and under the auspices of the Supreme Being, the following Rights of Woman and of Female Citizens.

Article I
Woman is born free and lives equal to man in her rights. Social distinctions can be based only on the common utility.

Article II
The purpose of any political association is the conservation of the natural and impresciptible rights of woman and man; these rights are liberty property, security, and especially resistance to oppression.

Article III
The principle of all sovereignty rests essentially with the nation, which is nothing but the union of woman and man; no body and no individual can exercise any authority which does not come expressly from it (the nation).

Article IV
Liberty and justice consist of restoring all that belongs to others; thus, the only limits on the exercise of the natural rights of woman are perpetual male tyranny; these limits are to be reformed by the laws of nature and reason.

Article V
Laws of nature and reason proscibe all acts harmful to society; everything which is not prohibited by these wise and divine laws cannot be prevented, and no one can be constrained to do what they do not command.

Article VI
The law must be the expression of the general will; all female and male citizens must contribute either personally or through their representatives to its formation; it must be the same for all: male and female citizens, being equal in the eyes of the law, must be equally admitted to all honors, positions, and public employment according to their capacity and without other distinctions besides those of their virtues and talents. Article VII No woman is an exception; she is accused, arrested, and detained in cases determined by law. Women, like men, obey this rigorous law.

Article VIII
The law must establish only those penalties that are strictly and obviously necessary...

Article IX
Once any woman is declared guilty, complete rigor is exercised by law.

Article X
No one is to be disquieted for his very basic opinions; woman has the right to mount the scaffold; she must equally have the right to mount the rostrum, provided that her demonstrations do not disturb the legally established public order.

Article XI
The free communication of thoughts and opinions is one of the most precious rights of woman, since that liberty assures recognition of children by their fathers. Any female citizen thus may say freely, I am the mother of a child which belongs to you, without being forced by a barbarous prejudice to hide the truth; (an exception may be made) to respond to the abuse of this liberty in cases determined by law.

Article XII
The gaurantee of the rights of woman and the female citizen implies a major benefit; this guarantee must be instituted for the advantage of all, and not for the particular benefit of those to whom it is entrusted.

Article XIII
For the support of the public force and the expenses of administration, the contributions of woman and man are equal; she shares all the duties and all the painful tasks; therefore, whe must have the same share in the distribution of positions, employment, offices, honors, and jobs.

Article XIV
Female and male citizens have the right to verify, either by themselves of through their representatives, the necessity of the public contribution. This can only apply to women if they are granted an equal share, not only of wealth, but also of public administration, and in the determination of the proportion, the base, the collection, and the duration of the tax.

Article XV
The collectivity of women, joined for tax purposes to the aggregate of men, has the right to demand an accounting of his administration from any public agent.

Article XVI
No society has a constitution without the guarantee of rights and the separation of powers; the constitution is null if the majority of individuals comprising the nation have not cooperated in drafting it.

Article XVII
Property belongs to both sexes whether united or separate; for each it is an inviolable and sacred right' no one can be deprived of it, since it is the true patrimony of natire, unless the legally determined public need obviously dictates it, and then only with a just and prior indemnity.


Woman, wake up; the tocsin of reason is being heard throughout the whole universe; discover your rights. The powerful empire of nature is no longer surrounded by prejudice, fanaticism, superstition, and lies. The flame of truth has dispersed all the clouds of folly and usurpation. Enslaved man has multiplied his strength and needs recourse to yours to break his chains. Having become free, he has become unjust to his companion. Oh, women, women! When will you cease to be blind? What advantage have you received from the Revolution? A more pronounced scorn, a more marked disdain. In the centuries of corruption you ruled only over the weakness of men. The reclamation of your patrimony, based on the wise decrees of nature-what have you to dread from such a fine undertaking? The bon mot of the legislator of the marriage of Cana? Do you fear that our French legislators, correctors of that morality, long ensnared by political practices now out of date, will only say again to you: women, what is there in common between you and us? Everything, you will have to answer. If they persist in their weakness in putting this non sequitur in contradiction to their principles, courageously oppose the force of reason to the empty pretentions of superiority; unite yourselves beneath the standards of philosophy; deploy all the energy of your character, and you will soon see these haughty men, not groveling at your feet as servile adorers, but proud to share with you the treasures of the Supreme Being. Regardless of what barriers confront you, it is in your power to free yourselves; you have only to want to....
Marriage is the tomb of trust and love. The married woman can with impunity give bastards to her husband, and also give them the wealth which does not belong to them. The woman who is unmarried has only one feeble right; ancient and inhuman laws refuse to her for her children the right to the name and the wealth of their father; no new laws have been made in this matter. If it is considered a paradox and an impossibility on my part to try to give my sex an honorable and just consistency, I leave it to men to attain glory for dealing with this matter; but while we wait, the way can be prepared through national education, the restoration of morals, and conjugal conventions.

Form for a Social Contract Between Man and Woman

We, _____ and ______, moved by our own will, unite ourselves for the duration of our lives, and for the duration of our mutual inclinations, under the following conditions: We intend and wish to make our wealth communal, meanwhile reserving to ourselves the right to divide it in favor of our children and of those toward whom we might have a particular inclination, mutually recognizing that our property belongs directly to our children, from whatever bed they come, and that all of them without distinction have the right to bear the name of the fathers and mothers who have acknowledged them, and we are charged to subscribe to the law which punishes the renunciation of one's own blood. We likewise obligate ourselves, in case of separation, to divide our wealth and to set aside in advance the portion the law indicates for our children, and in the event of a perfect union, the one who dies will divest himself of half his property in his children's favor, and if one dies childless, the survivor will inherit by right, unless the dying person has disposed of half the common property in favor of one whom he judged deserving.

That is approximately the formula for the marriage act I propose for execution. Upon reading this strange document, I see rising up against me the hypocrites, the prudes, the clergy, and the whole infernal sequence. But how it [my proposal] offers to the wise the moral means of achieving the perfection of a happy government! . . .
Moreover, I would like a law which would assist widows and young girls deceived by the false promises of a man to whom they were attached; I would like, I say, this law to force an inconstant man to hold to his obligations or at least [to pay] an indemnity equal to his wealth. Again, I would like this law to be rigorous against women, at least those who have the effrontery to have reCourse to a law which they themselves had violated by their misconduct, if proof of that were given. At the same time, as I showed in Le Bonheur primitit de l'homme, in 1788, that prostitutes should be placed in designated quarters. It is not prostitutes who contribute the most to the depravity of morals, it is the women of' society. In regenerating the latter, the former are changed. This link of fraternal union will first bring disorder, but in consequence it will produce at the end a perfect harmony.
I offer a foolproof way to elevate the soul of women; it is to join them to all the activities of man; if man persists in finding this way impractical, let him share his fortune with woman, not at his caprice, but by the wisdom of laws. Prejudice falls, morals are purified, and nature regains all her rights. Add to this the marriage of priests and the strengthening of the king on his throne, and the French government cannot fail.


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photograph via
Description: "On Aug. 26, 1971, thousands of women demonstrated and leafleted in various places in Manhattan, including Wall Street and St. Patrick's Cathedral. The Women's Rights Day activities culminated in a parade of nearly 6,000 people, including this woman, down Fifth Avenue in support of equal rights (Credit: Newsday / Jim Peppler)"

Monday, 12 June 2017

Born this day ... Clyde Kennard

Clyde Kennard was born on 12 June 1927 in Mississippi. He was a Korean War veteran and Civil Rights activist. In 1956, 1957 and 1959 (after the United States Supreme Court had ruled that segregation of public schools was unconstitutional in 1954), he attempted to enroll at the all-white Mississippi Southern College to complete his undergraduate degree. Each time he was rejected because he was black.

"Zack Van Landingham of the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission, which ostensibly encouraged the state's public image but worked to suppress activists for civil rights, urged J. H. White, the African-American president of Mississippi Vocational College, to persuade Kennard to end his quest at Mississippi Southern College. When Kennard could not be dissuaded, Van Landingham and Dudley Connor, a Hattiesburg lawyer collaborated to suppress his activism. Files from the Sovereignty Commission, which the state opened for public review in 1998, showed that its officials went to the extreme of considering forcing Kennard into an accident or bombing his car to stop his quest. Instead, they framed him for a criminal offense." (via)
In 1959, Kennard was arrested, convicted and fined $600 for reckless driving and for illegal possession of alcohol, i.e. whiskey and other liquor that were planted under the seat of his car, as records show. His credit was cut off.
In 1960, he was arrested again. This time for the theft of $25 worth of chicken feed from a warhouse (a so-called accomplice testified against him who years later said that Kennard was innocent; despite efforts there was no pardon). Clyde Kennard was prosecuted and found guilty by an all-white jury that needed ten minutes to deliberate. He was sentenced to seven years in prison to be served in a high-security facility which made sure that he never again applied to any of Mississippi's all-white colleges.
In 1961, Kennard was diagnosed with cancer. Civil rights leaders fought for this release and Kennard could leave prison in 1963. Six months later he died (via and via).
Today, the Clyde Kennard Memorial Scholarship is named after him,

“What happened to me isn’t as bad as what happened to the guard [that abused him], because this system has turned him into a beast, and it will turn his children into beasts.”
Clyde Kennard in his last days in a Chicago hospital

"(...) Clyde died trying to improve Mississippi and America."
Larry Still (Jet, 25 July 1963)

Route 1, Box 70
Hattiesburg, Mississippi
September 25, 1959



The charge that any person who believes in any form of integration of the races is a Communist or an out-side agitator has been made so constantly and with such force that it would not surprise me if there are some people who are innocent enough to believe, if not all, at least some portion of that charge. It is for the benefit of these unfortunate people that I review, briefly, the fundamental principle upon which the conviction of the integrationists is based.

Most basic to our beliefs about the race question in America today is that there can be no racial segregation without some racial discrimination, and that there cannot be a complete racial equalization without some racial integration.

Now this principle is an easy one for us to follow, for it holds as true in human history, especially American History, as it does in logic. Reason tells us that two things, different in location, different in constitution, different in origin, and different in purpose cannot possibly be equal. History has verified this conclusion. For nearly a century now the State of Mississippi has been under a supposedly separate but equal system. Let us ask ourselves, does the history of the system support the theory of the segregationists or the theory of the integrationists? What segregationist in his right mind would honestly claim that the facilities for the two races are equal? Still segregationists say, give us a little more time, we are really making progress. Perhaps they are making progress of some kind, but human life is not long enough to extend their time. They have had nearly a hundred years to prove their theory, and so far they are no closer to proof than when they began.

The differences which we now have over this matter of segregation versus integration have, unfortunately, been characterized by some as a mortal contest between out-side agitators and-or Communists, and peaceful, law-abiding citizens. This is furthest from the truth. The question is whether or not citizens of the same country, the same state, the same city, shall have equal opportunities to earn their living, to select the people who shall govern them, and raise and educate their children in a free democratic manner: or whether or not because of the accident of color, one half of the citizens shall be excluded from society as though they had leprosy?

If there is one quality of Americans which would set them apart from almost any other peoples, it is the history of their struggle for liberty and justice under the law. Lincoln has rightly said that this nation was conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Truly, the history of America is inseparable from the ideals of John Locke, John Stuart Mill and Jean Rousseau. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, says our Declaration of Independence, that all men are created equal.” How different that statement is in spirit from the one which says: Before I see my child go to school with a Negro, I will destroy the whole school system. How different in virtue is the statement of Patrick Henry which says, “I know not what course others may take, but as for me give me liberty or give me death,” and the one which says, before I see a Negro with liberty I had rather see him dead.

I find it indeed interesting that the people who come closest to the thinking of Fascists and Communists in their activities should accuse the integrationists of that very thing. Is it the segregationists or the integrationists who are employing secret investigators to search the records and to apply pressure on any one suspected of opposing the present dictatorship of the minority by the majority? Is it the segregationists or the integrationists who are preaching the doctrine of the superiority of one race over another? Is it the segregationists or the integrationists who are dogmatically suppressing the aspirations of nearly half the people of this great state for their inalienable right to participate in their government?

The segregationists give as their reason for not allowing Negroes to participate more fully in the general community activities that ninety-five percent of the Negroes are not interested, which would leave only five percent of the Negroes are interested. Now, assuming that their statement is correct, and knowing that no person nor group of people in the United States has the right to forbid even one single person his constitutional rights, what accounts for their actions? Some declare that the northern states can permit integration because they have only a few Negroes, but the South can’t do that because the South has so many Negroes. Well, according to their own estimates, only five percent of the Negroes in the South are interested in the general community activities, and five percent of the Negroes in any community would certainly not weigh very heavily in any critical issue even if we were to assume that they would all vote the same way. On the other hand, if a majority of the Negro people in this State desires to participate to the fullest extent in the general community activities and are being forbidden to do so either through fear or ignorance, then the segregationists of this State are guilty of one of the strangest and probably the most tragic dictatorships yet recorded by history.

It is an easy matter, I suppose, for White people to misunderstand the aspirations of Negroes; this is understandable. But we have no desire for revenge in our hearts. What we want is to be respected as men and women, given an opportunity to compete with you in the great and interesting race of life. We want your friends to be our friends; we want your enemies to be our enemies; we want your hopes and ambitions to be our hopes and ambitions, and your joys and sorrows to be our joys and sorrows.

The big question seems to be, can we achieve this togetherness in our time? If the segregationists have their way we shall not. For instead of preaching brotherly love and cooperation they are declaring the superiority of one race and the inferiority of the other. Instead of trying to show people how much they are alike, they are busy showing them how much they differ. Instead of appointing a commission to study the problem to determine whether integration or segregation is the best policy for Mississippi at this time, they appointed a commission to try to maintain segregation at all cost whether it is the best policy or not the best policy.

In this matter I like to quote from the great Indian leader, Mahatma Gandhi, in his discourse on the existence of God. He says: “In the midst of death, life persists; in the midst of untruth, truth persists; in the midst of darkness light persists.”

So, let it be, in our case.

Respectfully submitted,

Clyde Kennard


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images via and via

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Positive vs. Negative Freedom of Religion

The positive (active) freedom of religion is the right to actively express one's religious beliefs - i.e.: the right to religion.
The negative (passive) freedom of religion refers to right not to have to communicate one's religious stance (a question that is often asked at school, in hospital, or in offices that hand out official documents), not to have to take part in religious education at school, to be "spared" from the teachers' and classmates' expression and practice of religion - i.e.: the freedom from religion.

Negative freedom of religion benefits people of different faiths and non-believers (Hector, n.d.). Atheists, in fact, can protect themselves by demanding their negative freedom of religion (Schröder, 2005). However, it does not mean that due to one's negative freedom of religion one may keep others from exercising their positive freedom of religion (Heckel, 2004). It is, therefore, rather limited in everyday life as one cannot refer to negative freedom of religion when asking for a "religious free environment" without churches ringing their bells or muezzins calling to prayer (Starck, n.d.).

Positive and negative freedom of religion cannot be separated from each other (Fuchs, 1999). Promoting one's positive freedom may mean reducing somebody else's negative freedom - as, for instance, the never ending discussion about the crucifix in the classroom shows. This discussion, however, can be led in a more balanced way when considering whose positive and negative freedoms are considered and whose are not.
Some scholars do not consider positive and negative freedom of religion as thesis and antithesis but as a synthesis that protects both the right to do something and the right not to do something (Siering, 2011). Focusing on positive freedom of religion and neglecting the negative aspect of freedom distorts freedom and changes it into something only religiously committed people are entitled to. There can only be freedom of religion if both complementary aspects are taken into account (Bielefeldt, 2012).

- Bielefeldt, H. (2012). Streit um die Religionsfreiheit. Aktuelle Facetten der internationalen Debatte, online
- Fuchs, C. (1999). Das Staatskirchenrecht der neuen Bundesländer. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck
- Heckel, M. (2004). Gesammelte Schriften. Staat, Kirche, Recht, Geschichte. Band V. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck
- Hector, P. (n.d.) Zur Religionsfreiheit in der Rechtssprechung des Europäischen Gerichtshofs für Menschenrechte, online
- Schröder, T. (2005). Religionsfreiheit im abendländischen Kontext, online
- Siering, L. M. (2011). Die negative Religionsfreiheit und ihre Bedeutung bei aufenthaltsbeendenden Maßnahmen. Berlin: LIT
- Stark, C. (n.d.). Religionsfreiheit in Deutschland als positive und negative Freiheit, online
- images via and via and via

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Inclusive Pedagogy & Bell Curve Thinking

Inclusive pedagogy is a contentious concept as there is no agreement that all children can be educated together and where there is agreement there is still a discussion on how this can be done (Florian, 2015). As countries and cultures have different concepts, there is some confusion about the use and meaning of inclusion in educational settings. Different definitions have resulted in different practices (Makoelle, 2014). There is the widespread perception (or rather fear) that the inclusion of pupils with difficulties in learning will hold back the progress of pupils without difficulties in learning. Inclusive education, however, results in benefits for all learners (Spratt & Florian, 2013).

Inclusive pedagogy rejects so-called ability labelling, it does not limit the expectations of teachers and pupils and by focusing on the perceived "potential" reproduce social inequalities.
Labelling children as those having "special needs" means that teachers differentiate work based on their perception of ability which again places "a ceiling on the learning opportunities of those thought to be less able". Disrupting these practices and replacing them with participatory approaches to both teaching and learning is what educational (and social) inclusion is about.
Inclusion is not passive, it is not "being do to" certain groups but a dynamic process that involves all children (Spratt & Florian, 2013).
"The notion of inclusive pedagogy is not a call for a return to a model of whole class teaching where equality is notionally addressed by providing identical experiences for all. Instead it advocates an approach whereby the teacher provides a range of options which are available to everybody. Human diversity is seen within the model of inclusive pedagogy as a strength, rather than a problem, as children work together, sharing ideas and learning from their interactions with each other. The inclusive pedagogical approach fosters an open-ended view of each child’s potential to learn."
Spratt & Florian (2013)

Bell curve thinking means that positions at the centre of a normal distribution are seen as ideal while those outside are regarded as marginalised learners who require something additional, different or "special".
"Because schools are organised by grouping pupils according to commonly agreed categories, and the utilitarian principle of the greatest good for the greatest number, what is ordinarily provided will meet the needs of most learners, while some may require something ‘additional’ to or ‘different’ from that which is ordinarily available. A bell curve model of distribution, which assumes ‘that most phenomena occur around a middle point while a few occur at either high or low extreme ends’ (Fendler and Muzaffar, 2008, p 63) underpins many educational practices and is widely used as an organisational principle. Sorting students by ability is one example of how this model operates; the use of norm-referenced tests is another. Both of these practices are part of the pathway by which judgements about students’ learning capacity are determined and by which some students become eligible for additional support. As a structural feature of the school system, these sorting practices often set the points at which individual students’ educational needs are defined as ‘additional’ or ‘special’. Consequently the idea that some students will need something ‘different from’ or ‘additional to’ that which is generally available to others of similar age is taken for granted. In other words it has become normalised in educational thinking and is accepted without question. Indeed it guides the definition of additional support in many countries."
(Florian, 2015)

Having additional or special needs is being assigned membership to a group and starting to believe that one has the attributes of the group. Often, it also implies that teachers lower their expectations about what the student can achieve (Florian, 2015).

Once a child is labelled, the label is likely to stay throughout the school years. Having special needs means being different, can create stigma and low self-esteem (via). Inclusive pedagogy does not provide something different or additional but "seeks to extend what is ordinarily available to everybody" (via).

- Florian, L. (2015). Inclusive Pedagogy: A transformative approach to individual differences but can it help reduce educational inequalities? Scottish Educational Review, 47(1), 5-14
- Makoelle, T. M. (2014). Pedagogy of Inclusion: A Quest for Inclusive Teaching and Learning. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, 5(20), 1259-1267.
- Spratt, J. & Florian, L. (2013). Applying the principles of inclusive pedagogy in initial teacher education: from university based course to classroom action. Revista de Investigación en Education, 11(3), 133-140.
- images via and via and via and via and via

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

We don't make a "woman's car"

"Women only drive automatic transmissions."

Some car manufacturers actually believe women buy cars for different reasons than men do.
So they build "a woman's car." Oversized, hopelessly automatic and dull.
At Honda we designed just one thing. A lean, spunky economy car with so much pizzazz it handles like a sports car.
If you're bored with cars designed only to get you from point A to point B, without responding to you the driver, maybe you ought to take the Honda Civic for a spin.
We've got a stick shift with an astonishing amount of zip. Enough to surprise you. We promise.
Or, if you prefer, Hondamatic. It's a semi-automatic transmission that gives you convenience, but doesn't rob you of involvment.
Neither one is a woman's car.
Honda Civic.
We don't make "a woman's car".

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image (1974) via

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Women are soft and gentle, but they hit things.

Sooner or later, your wife will drive home one of the best reasons for owning a Volkswagen.

Women are soft and gentle, but they hit things.
If your wife hits something in a Volkswagen, it doesn't hurt you very much.
VW parts are easy to replace. And cheap. A fender comes of without dismantling half the car. A new one goes on with just ten bol. For $ 24.95*, plus labor.
And a VW dealer always has the kind of fender you need. Because that's the one kind he has.
Most other VW parts are interchangeable too. Inside and out. Which means your wife isn't limited to fender smashing.
She can jab the hood. Graze the door. Or bump off the bumper.
It may make you furious, but it won't make you poor.
So when your wife goes window-shopping in a Volkswagen, don't worry.
You can conveniently replace anything she uses to stop the car.
Even the brakes.

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image (1964) via

Monday, 29 May 2017

Narrative images: Lunch at the Woolworth Counter in May 1963

"We didn’t allow fear. We had accepted we could die. Panic-attack fear immobilizes you, it doesn’t keep you alive. Stay cool. At that Woolworth counter, people were beaten. It was a total out-of-body experience for me — the kind you hear soldiers have in battle."
Joan Trumpauer Mulholland

The Greensboro (North Carolina) sit-ins in 1960, the most well-known sit-ins of the Civil Rights Movement, led to the Woolworth department store chain removing its racist policy of segregation in the South. It was a long way and it took a great many sit-ins. Today, the Woolworth store in Greensboro is the International Civil Rights Center and Museum (via). These photographs were taken on 28 May 1963. In the centre of the picture above are Anne Moody and Joan Trumpauer, seated on the left is Hunter Gray (via). They sat there after others had been pulled away, kicked and smeared with ketchup, mustard, sugar - anything that was on the counter (via).

"They cut my face with sharp brass knuckles, someone cut the back of my head with the jagged edge of a broken sugar container. There was a good deal of blood.
They dumped slop on us. I was burned with cigarettes, hit and had pepper thrown in my eyes. The women weren't struck, but had their hair pulled. All the air was filled with obscenities, the n-word - it was a lavish display of unbridled hatred. (...)
I saw the photo the next morning in the Jackson Daily News. Friends across the county called to say they had seen it, and we got letters from people from all over the world.
Now in textbooks, this picture reinforces my feeling that change came because of the great courage and determination of grass-roots people. I remember sitting at that counter, thinking about the indoctrination of these young people: white councils issuing special curriculums for white schools. And more sinister warnings such as: “Race mixers are communist and traitors.” The kids had been brainwashed with this poisonous stuff all their lives. I saw no free will in that mob, and I couldn’t blame the kids personally.
Fifty years on I continue to feel sorry for them. If I met any of them today, I’d say: “Let’s go have lunch.
Hunter Gray

"They wanted the "n*ggers" - both white and black - to leave."
Trip Burns


photographs via and via and via

Friday, 26 May 2017

Joan Trumpauer Mulholland & Thomas Jefferson

"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
Thomas Jefferson (1776)

Photographs: Joan Trumpauer Mulholland holds a picket signs in North Carolina (1960)

Related postings:
::: Quoting Charlton Heston (who quotes Thomas Jefferson)
::: Joan Trumpauer Mulholland: White, Southern and Civil Rights Activist

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photographs (holding a picket sign in North Carolina) via and (demonstrating in North Carolina, 1960) via

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Joan Trumpauer Mulholland: White, Southern and Civil Rights Activist

"No matter how bad things are, at least ya aren't black."
Joan's mother

"My mother’s side of the family was your stereotypical Georgia redneck, that’s the only way I can put it, Pentecostal. I think that exposed me to a lot of the rural Deep South, hearing them express their attitudes and religious fervor. My father’s side of the family was more college-bred Iowa. My folks had met in Washington, D.C. during the Depression. Though my closest identification was with the Georgia branch, I also had this relationship with the other side of the family. My Iowa family cancelled out my Georgia family."
Joan Trumpauer Mulholland

Joan Trumpauer Mulholland grew up with a racist mother but rebelled, took part in a civil rights protest at Duke University in 1960, then joined the Freedom Riders. In 1963, she took part in the sit-in at the segregated Woolworth lunch counter in Mississippi. She was arrested several times and disowned by her family (via), hunted down by the Klu Klux Klan and imprisoned on death row (via). When she spent two weeks in prison in Mississippi, prison ward Fred Jones wrote a letter to Joan's mother:
What I cannot understand is why as a mother you permitted a minor white girl to gang up with a bunch of negro bucks and white hoodlums to ramble over this country with the express purpose of violating the laws of certain states and attempting to incite acts of violence.
Fred Jones
Joan received letters, too. Here is one hate mail that was written to her:
Nothing you can do will integrate me. I do not choose to associate with black African slaves who were dragged here like animals + have remained almost the same. All we owe them is a return trip to Africa.
I M White
Joan was the first white student to enroll in the all-black Tougaloo College in Jackson where she met Medgar Wiley Evers (1925-1963), a civil rights activist who was killed by a white supremacist and Klansman (via). Joan Trumpauer Mulholland was active in the 1960s, took part in the Cherrydale Drug Fair counter in 1960, a protest that led to the desegregation of area drug stores, helped to integrate a college in Jackson (via) and is still active today.

Photographs of Joan Trumpauer Mulholland at a sit-in in Northern Virginia

"When I was 10 years old and down at my grandma’s and my friend Mary and I dared each other to go into the Black area and the poverty there was so much worse than in the dirt poor White area. And then I saw the school – no paint, I remember – one outhouse and one pump or well – and such a contrast, I just knew that this was wrong and when I had the chance, to do something. I wanted to make the South the best that it could be for all of its people."
Joan Trumpauer Mullholland

"My great grandmother was a suffragette and chained herself to the Iowa State Capital Building. I grew up on these stories and I think that was part of me – it was in the DNA. My father had no sympathy for segregation but was a good government bureaucrat who believed you change the law at the top. My dad didn’t like the tactics but worried most that his first-born was going to be killed."
Joan Trumpauer Mulholland

"My involvement came about from my religious conviction, and the contradiction between life in America with what was being taught in Sunday school."
Joan Trumpauer Mulholland

"What we did in the ’60s changed the law, but not the inherent racism that made those laws. The Bible says we were all created in God’s image — nowhere is that image described as black or white, straight or gay."
Joan Trumpauer Mulholland

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photographs via and via and via

Monday, 22 May 2017

What would Jesus say?

Markus Dröge is the bishop of the Evangelical Church Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian Upper Lusatia and ambassador for the House of One in Berlin. He openly discusses what it means to be truly Christian and points out that being Christian is not about defending traditions but about having a social mission. Dröge is convinced that the church has to actively react to right-wing populism that is on the rise - he refers to Trump and the German far-right party "Alternative for Germany" (AfD) and what they have in common.

The church, according to Dröge, does not tell people who to vote for but communicates Christian values and sees itself as a sort of sparring partner. From all political parties that there are in Germany, he chooses the AfD to talk about. And there is a reason why. The AfD is the defender of "western Christianity". But their political agenda, according to Dröge, is not Christian when they reject homosexuality, when they only accept a conservative family image, when they aggressively protect unborn life without being able to differentiate, when they promote the so-called German Leitkultur (often a rather nationalist and monocultural vision of German society that tends to solve any problem with cultural assimilation), or when they reject Islam.
Last year, the AfD published a paper saying that the party had to be politically incorrect, that the party in fact needed to provoke. Dröge explains the mechanism: After the provocation, the party denies that it has ever provoked and says that it was only one member's opinion. By doing so, the party makes sure that it is always present in the media. Apart from that, the misanthropic ideas that are constantly repeated start being normalised after a while. Society gets used to them and finally a great many people do not realise that they find inhumane remarks normal.
Dröge asks the question what Jesus would say. Altruism, Christian love or Christian charity do not mean loving your own national traditions, your own family, your own native country, and people who share your religion. Christian love crosses cultural and religious borders. Dröge comes to the conclusion that the values of the church and the values of the AfD are incompatible.

Content from Markus Dröge's speech "Was haben wir Christen, was hat die Evangelische Kirche, dem wachsenden Rechtspopulismus entgegenzusetzen?, 25 March 2017, via

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photograph via

Sunday, 21 May 2017

"The I Hate to Cook Book" (1960)

"Some women, it is said, like to cook. This book is not for them."
Peg Bracken

Ruth Eleanor "Peg" Bracken (1918-2007) was the US-American author of books such as "The I Hate to Cook Book" (1960). "The I Hate to  Housekeep Book" (1962) and "The Appendix to the I Hate to Cook Book". Her recipes had unusual names and sardonic comments. She offered quick-witted recipes that were founded on the principle that her "standard position in regard to cooking is on the sofa with my feet up". Bracken understood "the silent tyranny of cooking", the demands, the social pressures, and the need to ease the 1960s' housewife's tasks. Male editors did not agree. The first half-dozen editors - all men - she approached, thought US-American women were not unhappy with their lot and did not want to publish her manuscript. Things changed when she finally found a woman editor at Harcourt Brace; more than three million copies of the book were sold (via), various editions were published (via).

"Male editors were afraid of it because they were convinced that women regarded anything that had to do with cooking very seriously and would not stand for an attitude that was the least bit flippant."
Peg Bracken

Her book aimed to make cooking easier by using common, convenient ingredients (e.g. crushed cornflakes instead of breadcrumbs). She also used plenty of alcohol or suggested taking a shortcut and just drinking it. It was about saving time as her books was meant to appeal to "those of us who want to fold our big dishwater hands around a dry Martini instead of a wet flounder" (via).
"When the sun has set and the party starts to bounce, you want to be in there bouncing too, not stuck all by yourself out in the kitchen, deep-fat frying small objects or wrapping oysters in bacon strips." Peg Bracken
"We don’t get our creative kicks from adding an egg, we get them from painting pictures or bathrooms, or potting geraniums or babies, or writing stories or amendments, or, possibly, engaging in some interesting type of psycho-neuro-chemical research like seeing if, perhaps, we can replace colloids with sulphates. And we simply love ready-mixes." 
Peg Bracken
Skid Road Stroganoff (literally via)
Start cooking those noodles, first dropping a bouillon cube into the noodle water. Brown the garlic, onion and crumbled beef in the oil. Add the flour, salt, paprika and mushrooms, stir, and let it cook five minutes while you light a cigarette and stare sullenly at the sink.

Trivia: Before becoming famous, Bracken worked as an advertising copywriter along with Homer Groening, father of the great Matt Groening (via).

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image via

Monday, 15 May 2017

Franco Basaglia, Democratic Psychiatry & the Closure of Psychiatric Hospitals in Italy

"Many were seduced by Basaglia’s intellect and his personality (including those who had never met him). He was charismatic and charming, and he inspired love and admiration, but also fear, jealousy and sometimes hatred. He became a hero to many, but also an anti-hero for those who were opposed to the movements linked to 1968 (as well as for some who were key figures in ‘1968’ itself). In 1968, he became a symbol for a whole epoch overnight, a household name. A key law was later named after him, a rare honour in Italy, especially for a non-politician."
John Foot (2014)

Franco Basaglia (1924-1980) - "the most influential Italian psychiatrist of the 20th century" - studied medicine and surgery at the prestigious university of Padua and spent the years after his graduation studying the philosophical ideas of Sartre, Husserl, Heidegger, and Jaspers, as well as critics of psychiatric institutions such as Michel Foucault and Erving Goffman. He worked at university and specialised in the field of "nervous and mental diseases", then left university as he was "too sharp, too unorthodox, too original, not servile enough" to progress within the university system. Basaglia left and became the director of the provincial asylum of Gorizia which had about 500 patients (after this position he became the director of asylums in other cities). When he arrived at the Lunatic Asylum of Gorizia in 1961, he was "revolted by what he observed": locked doors, straits jackets, ice packs, bed ties and insulin-coma shock therapies in response to human suffering. Basaglia refused to bind patients to their beds and abolished isolation methods. He introduced democracy within the asylum: doctors did not wear white coats and mingled with patients, locked wards were opened, bars and strait-jackets were removed.
Thanks to his initiative, a debate started all over Italy that finally resulted in a paradigm shift seeing recovery as participation and citizenship, a shift that led to the gradual closure of mental hospitals. The so-called "Basaglia Law" (Law 180, Italian Mental Health Act) was passed in 1978 which restructured mental health care and closed all psychiatric hospitals in Italy.

Basaglia's main criticism was that psychiatry's approach was to oppress persons instead of curing and liberating them. He was convinced that  the entire asylum system was morally bankrupt and reducing inmates to "non-persons" or "hollow men" (via and via and via and via).
"We want to change the pattern that makes the patient a dead body and strive to transform the dead mental patient in the asylum into a living person, responsible for his own health." Franco Basaglia, cited in Roberto Mezzina
For Basaglia, stereotypes of madness were consequences of institutional conditions. In other words, some eccentric behaviour patterns were exacerbated or even created by the institutions themselves. Inmates were "the excluded", a "deviant majority" that was interned against their will and broken down by this very system. Psychiatric hospitals were prison-like, oppressive institutions. Both architecturally and functionally they were similar to prisons. Basaglia himself, by the way, had spent six months in prison after being arrested for being an anti-fascist activist  (via and via).
This was a collective ‘no’. And this ‘no’ changed the world. It was not acceptable to treat people in that way – without rights, without autonomy, without knives and forks, without hair, without any control over their own treatment. It was wrong to electrocute these people, cut out bits of their brains or tie them up for years on end. This movement was a struggle for liberation, for democracy and for equality. These 100,000 inmates of mental asylums had disappeared from history.
They needed to re-emerge – to be given back their own identity and dignity. This generation of politicians and psychiatrists was a post-war, anti-fascist generation. There was something profoundly anti-fascist about the anti-asylum movement. It was a movement about human rights. The people inside the asylums were people.
John Foot (2014)

"Democratic Psychiatry", created by Franco Basaglia, was never "antipsychiatric" but a movement to liberate the ill from segregation in mental hospitals (via). Its implementation was and is not easy and it is debated to what extent the reform has made changes in the general picture of psychiatric care (Palermo, 1991). Literature on Basaglia either tends towards idealisation or demonisation portraying him as a secular saint or an irresponsible radical (via). Basaglia was not a saint but he surely "helped to transform the way we see mental illness" and it was his work that "saved countless people from a miserable existence". His "legacy persists, as an object lesson in the struggle against the brutality and ignorance that the establishment peddles to the public as common sense" (John Foot, 2015).
The history, biography and practice of Franco Basaglia and the psichiatria democratica (democratic psychiatry) movement he partly led and inspired has, with a few exceptions, been consistently misinterpreted in the English-speaking world (and in particular in the UK, although one exception is Ramon, 1988). Let us take, for example, the judgements of two of the leading historians of ‘madness’ and ‘asylums’. In 2002, Roy Porter wrote: ‘In Italy, leadership of the movement was assumed by the psychiatrist Franco Basaglia, who helped engineer the rapid closure of institutions (chaos resulted)’ (Porter, 2002: 210). In 1994, Porter referred to Basaglia as ‘Enrico Basaglia’ and labeled him as a ‘boisterous anti-psychiatrist’ (Porter and Micale, 1994: 20). Andrew Scull’s judgement on Basaglia was similarly brief, in 2011: ‘In Italy, led by the charismatic Franco Bassaglia [sic], the political left led the charge’ (Scull, 2011: 113). A more balanced and well-informed account (although with some errors) can be found in Burns (2013: xlvi, 148–9, 183). However, even here, Basaglia is described as a ‘Gramscian Marxist’.
The origins of these snap and inaccurate judgements lie in a series of areas. First, Basaglia’s work was not translated into English, including (and most importantly) L’istituzione negata (Basaglia, 1968). This book was, however, quickly translated with success into numerous other languages.
John Foot (2014)
“Tomorrow morning, at visiting time, when without any lexicon you try to communicate with these men, you will be able to remember and recognise that, in comparison with them, you are superior in only one way: force.”
Franco Basaglia

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photographs via and via

Monday, 8 May 2017

Quoting Paul McCartney (II)

"I used to think that anyone doing anything weird was weird. I suddenly realized that anyone doing anything weird wasn't weird at all and it was the people saying they were weird that were weird." 
Paul McCartney

Related posting: Quoting Paul McCartney

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photograph of Paul McCartney by Linda McCartney via

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Losing my religion for equality, by Jimmy Carter (2017)

I HAVE been a practising Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world. So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention's leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be "subservient" to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.

This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women's equal rights across the world for centuries.

At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met.

In some Islamic nations, women are restricted in their movements, punished for permitting the exposure of an arm or ankle, deprived of education, prohibited from driving a car or competing with men for a job. If a woman is raped, she is often most severely punished as the guilty party in the crime.

The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in the West. The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is felt every day. It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us. The evidence shows that investing in women and girls delivers major benefits for society. An educated woman has healthier children. She is more likely to send them to school. She earns more and invests what she earns in her family.

It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and outdated attitudes and practices - as we are seeing in Iran where women are at the forefront of the battle for democracy and freedom.

I understand, however, why many political leaders can be reluctant about stepping into this minefield. Religion, and tradition, are powerful and sensitive areas to challenge. But my fellow Elders and I, who come from many faiths and backgrounds, no longer need to worry about winning votes or avoiding controversy - and we are deeply committed to challenging injustice wherever we see it.

The Elders are an independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by former South African president Nelson Mandela, who offer their influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity. We have decided to draw particular attention to the responsibility of religious and traditional leaders in ensuring equality and human rights and have recently published a statement that declares: "The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable."

We are calling on all leaders to challenge and change the harmful teachings and practices, no matter how ingrained, which justify discrimination against women. We ask, in particular, that leaders of all religions have the courage to acknowledge and emphasise the positive messages of dignity and equality that all the world's major faiths share.

The carefully selected verses found in the Holy Scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place - and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence - than eternal truths. Similar biblical excerpts could be found to support the approval of slavery and the timid acquiescence to oppressive rulers.

I am also familiar with vivid descriptions in the same Scriptures in which women are revered as pre-eminent leaders. During the years of the early Christian church women served as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets. It wasn't until the fourth century that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted Holy Scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant positions within the religious hierarchy.

The truth is that male religious leaders have had - and still have - an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions - all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.

Jimmy Carter, 27 April 2017 via

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photograph by Platon Antoniou via

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Message from a black man (1969)

[Melvin:] Yes, my skin is black,
But that's no reason to hold me back
[Eddie:] Why don't you think about it,
Think about it, think about it, think about it,
Think about it...
I have wants and desires,
Just like you
So move on the side
'Cause I'm comin' through, oh!

[Temptations:] No matter how hard you try
You can't stop me now
Eddie and Temptations: No matter how hard you try
You can't stop me now, oooh...

[Melvin:] Yes, your skin is white...
Does that make you right?
[Eddie:] Why don't you think about it,
Think about it, think about it, think about it,
Think about it...
This is a message
A message to y'all,
Together we stand,
Divided we fall, oh!

[Dennis:] Black is a color
Just like white,
Tell me how can a color determine whether
You're wrong or right,
We all have our faults...
Yes we do

[Eddie:] So look in your mirror
[Temptations:] Look in the mirror
[Eddie:] What do you see?
[Temptations:] What do you see?
[Eddie:] Two eyes,
[Temptations:] Two eyes,
[Eddie:] A nose, and a mouth just like me, oh!

[Eddie:] Your eyes are open
But you refuse to see,
The laws of society
Were made for both you and me,
Because of my color,
I struggle to be free
Sticks and stones,
May break my bones
But in the end,
You're gonna' see my friend, oh!

[Temptations:] No matter how hard you try
You can't stop me now
[chorus repeated several times through music, or "the bridge"]

[after a few minutes, above chorus is repeated as song nears end, and then...]

[Temptations:] Say it loud!
No matter how hard you try
You can't stop me now

[Temptations:] Say it loud!
No matter how hard you try
You can't stop me now

[Temptations:] Say it!
No matter how hard you try
You can't stop me now

[Temptations:] Say it loud!
No matter how hard you try
You can't stop me now

[Temptations:] Say it loud!
[Dennis:] I'm black and I'm proud!
[Temptations:] No matter how hard you try
You can't stop me now

[Temptations:] Say it loud!
[Dennis:] I'm black and I'm proud!
[Temptations:] No matter how hard you try
You can't stop me now

(lyrics via)

"'Message From a Black Man' was a popular radio request in 1969, although the Temptations themselves, who thought the record too forward, never performed it live." (via)

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photograph by Jim Britt via

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Half a Life

"It deals with the whole issue of growing old and how society deals with the elderly and, in my mind, it was one of the most pertinent story-lines I have done."
Les Landau, director

"Half a Life", the 96th episode of "The Next Generation" - a morality play about ageism - was first released in 1991 (via). Dr. Timicin of the planet Kaelon II boards the Starship Enterprise in order to test an experiment that is supposed to save his planet. Lwaxana Troi - daughter of the Fifth House of Betazed, the Holder of the Sacred Chalice of Rixx, and Heir to the Holy Rings of Betazed - and Dr. Timicin fall in love with each other. Timicin, however, has to return to his planet to dutifully die. As he is turning 60, he is expected to commit suicide as society cannot be expected to take care of the elderly (via).

Some excerpts:

LWAXANA: I don't know. I just can't accept that fate will allow me to meet him like this and then take him away. I mean, he's not ill. He hasn't had a tragic accident. He's just going to die, and for no good reason. Because his society has decided that he's too old, so they just dispose of him as though his life no longer had value or meaning. You can't possibly understand at your age, but at mine, sometimes you feel tired and afraid.


TIMICIN: I want to explain. I want very much for you to understand. Fifteen or twenty centuries ago, we had no Resolution. We had no such concern for our elders. As people aged, their health failed, they became invalids. Those whose families could no longer care for them were put away in deathwatch facilities, where they waited in loneliness for the end to come, sometimes for years. They had meant something, and they were forced to live beyond that, into a time of meaning nothing, of knowing they could now only be the beneficiaries of younger people's patience. We are no longer that cruel, Lwaxana.

LWAXANA: No, no, you're not cruel to them. You just kill them.

TIMICIN: The Resolution is a celebration of life. It allows us to end our lives with dignity.

LWAXANA: A celebration of life. It sounds very noble, very caring. What you're really saying is you got rid of the problem by getting rid of the people.

TIMICIN: It may sound that way, but it is a time of transition. One generation passing on the responsibilities of life to the next.

LWAXANA: What about the responsibility of caring of the elderly?

TIMICIN: That would place a dreadful burden on the children.

LWAXANA: We raise them, we care for them, we suffer for them. We keep them from harm their whole lives. Eventually, it's their turn to take care of us.

TIMICIN: No parent should expect to be paid back for the love they've given their children.

LWAXANA: Well why the hell not?


LWAXANA: But it makes no sense. Some of your people could still be active at seventy or eighty, and others might be seriously ill at fifty.

(transcript via)

According to a British survey carried out in 2011, the elderly believe they have become invisible in today's youth-obsessed society, they feel ignored, silenced, written off and ridiculed. One participant said that young people talked to the elderly "as if they want us to go away and die" (via).

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