Monday, June 21, 2010

Monday Miscellanea

Study: Blacks Routinely Excluded From Juries. It's nothing we didn't already know or suspect, but it's nice to have it documented like this. The problem, of course, is that you can make it illegal to dismiss potential jurors on the basis of race and gender and whatever, but a prosecutor who believes people in this demographic are inferior is going to find some reason to dismiss them. And that's pretty hard to prevent. To complicate things, most attorneys who are involved in jury selection probably honestly believe that they're not racist (because who would openly embrace that title in this day and age?) but implicit beliefs and attitudes have a huge impact on something like jury selection, and if deep down you really really want to exclude someone, you'll find a reason that sounds viable. After all, we all tell the story we need to hear, right?

Medical pot can cost parents in custody disputes. In most states that allow the use of medical marijuana the law states that patients who use marijuana as directed by their doctors "shall not be penalized in any manner, or denied any right or privilege," or something like that (that's the WA version). But family courts don't see this as applying to them in any way, so parents are losing custody battles over it.

Think about the alternatives for people with chronic pain. You could get a prescription for opiates. My daughter's dad's brother (sorry, complicated) has an inoperable brain tumor. Chemo and radiation have prevented it from growing any more for the time being, but it's there and it gives him skull-crushing pain. He has morphine for it. As much as he needs. Sometimes the morphine makes him a little fuzzy and a little groggy. But this has never even entered into discussions of custody, and he frequently picks up his son in a neighboring state and drives him back to his home to spend the weekend or spring break or several weeks during the summer. I don't know about you, but if it were my kid, I'd rather have someone using pot driving my kid around than someone on morphine. Not that B isn't careful when he has his son with him - but it seems to me that pot is easier to control. The morphine can be kind of unpredictable, and the same amount that left him clear-headed and alert one day will space him out to heck another day. But in our fucked-up cultural view, using pot for chronic pain renders one an unfit parent, while morphine is all fine and good. Think about that for a minute. We prefer a parent on narcotics to a parent on pot.

This would be a great time for me to go on one of my rants about how our cultural and political attitudes are shaped by the pharmaceutical-industrial-complex, but I've got other shit to do, and I suspect I've already got a reputation as a wild-eyed conspiracy-theory type when it comes to this topic.

Sexual Assault in Prison
U.S. Likely To Miss Deadline On Prison Rape Rules and
The scourge of rape in prisons in which we learn that the Justice Department is most likely going to miss their deadline on producing new guidelines and measures to protect inmates from sexual assault, mostly because we as a nation are unwilling to spend a single penny to protect inmates. Because in the view of most Americans, inmates have relinquished their claims to basic protection and human rights. They are disposable, worthless lumps of human flesh and why the fuck would we care about what happens to them in prison. If they didn't want to get raped then they ought notta gotten caught committing crimes. I's charming.

But it gets worse if you already belong to a marginalized group due to your gender or sexual identity. You think you were vulnerable in prison as a cis straight person? Try it as a transgender, transsexual, or intersex individual. Of course, as a trans or intersex person you were already statistically more vulnerable to violence before you were incarcerated, but now you have nowhere to go to escape predators, and no access to the advocacy groups that might have helped you on the outside, and you have the added stigma of criminal conviction, making you even more worthless in the eyes of the general public. And what most people refuse to acknowledge is that the way we allow people to be treated when they're locked up and vulnerable is a direct reflection of who we are as a nation. The words "uncivilized" and "barbaric" come to mind.

Cara has had a lot of good stuff to say on this topic, and much of it is linked here.

Finally [Trigger Warning! Medical abuse of minors], a researcher at Cornell, as well as the group of medical writers who reviewed his work, think it's totally appropriate to 1) decide that a young girl's clitoris is too big (wtf?); 2) perform clitoroplasty on tiny children incapable of consenting or resisting; and 3) repeatedly test the success of the surgery by applying a vibrator to the very young girl's clit, labia, inner thighs, etc. with random strangers (nurses, doctors) in the room and the child's parent looking on. I don't even know what to say about this other than OHMYFUCKINGGODWHATPLANETAREYOUPEOPLEFROM??

Once again I failed to come up with any good news. Sorry. If you have a link to any good news, please post it in comments.


  1. Anonymous6/21/2010

    Well it's not exactly good news, but this always makes me happy: Feminist Hulk.
    My favorite tweet this week

  2. What a joke to commission a report on what changes need to be made to prevent violence in prisons while also effectively blocking any money from being spent on it. Obviously nothing is going to change and this is just a show put on so politicians can pretend to care about it and they can try to silence advocacy groups by saying "see, we did something." Sad and pathetic.

  3. happyfeminist6/21/2010

    I never know how to comment on your miscellanea posts because there's just too much information, but I do appreciate them. Just so you know.

  4. Anonymous6/21/2010

    That Cornell reasearch is like something straight out of the 50s. Holy crap!

  5. Are there medical or sexual problems that can result from having too big of a clit? Am I missing something?

  6. Riley,

    In the article I read the parents were cited as worrying that the large clits would cause "overstimulation" (again, wtf?) and in similar cases involving intersex children the concern that doctors always yammer on about is that they'll be made fun of for having a small penis or big clit or whatever. In the bathroom at school I guess. And for years and years this was viewed as an acceptable reason to simply remove a large clit with no regard to all the many nerve endings that were being destroyed along with the chance of any normal sexual functioning ever. Because not getting teased in the lockerroom is totally worth never being able to orgasm. I guess. So this whole thing with the vibrators seems to be a response to the outcry from adult intersex victims of childhood surgeries. Like now they can say "see, we chopped off half of her clit but she still responds to a vibrator, so our practice of doing genital surgery on tiny children who don't meet our cultural expectations of properly sexed bodies that fit into the binary that's so important in order to maintain our cultural gender hierarchy is all hunky dory again." Absolutely unfuckingbelievable that people still think this way in 2010.

  7. Anonymous6/23/2010

    I cannot believe anyone still thinks genital operations like this are still acceptable. It's amazing to me. And then the exams? You have to conclude that they don't view children as people.

  8. "We prefer a parent on narcotics to a parent on pot."

    This is pretty sad, especially considering how addictive prescription painkillers are, and how they really can be a gateway drug.

  9. Anonymous6/24/2010

    It's not at all surprising to me that the family courts are lagging behind. It will take several parents who lose parental privileges challenging this and taking it through the court systems before anything changes. Sadly, their kids will have grown up by the time the process is over and anything changes. And you can't get that back.