Right Wing Media Smears Sexologist For Teaching Tolerance

A psychologist who does panels on sexuality at college campuses is being vilified by right wing media for appearing at Yale recently.  An extremist website called campusreform.org ran a story on Jill McDevitt highlighting her efforts to teach college students not to be judgmental or intolerant about those who might engage in sex in more unconventional manners.  As part of her workshop McDevitt has students respond anonymously to a series of questions using their cell phones and the results are immediately displayed in bar graphs.  The questions run the gamut of human sexuality and include whether anyone has accepted payment in return for sex, had incestuous fantasies or engaged in bestiality.

Here is the workshop she did at Yale titled “Sex:  Am I Normal?”

The entire point of her work is to illustrate that not everyone engages in straight laced, missionary position heterosexual sex and no one should be judgmental of those who don’t.  The result has been an explosion among right wing religious extremists being judgmental and intolerant of McDevitt.  She is now receiving threats that “she ought to be killed.”  She told me the story hit Glenn Beck’s syndicated radio show today and she is concerned for her safety.  Because none of the threats has been explicit authorities say there is nothing they can do legally.  A mutual friend I know from Planned Parenthood got her in touch with me and we’re attempting to set the record straight about what it is she does.

Jill McDevitt has gained some local notoriety for opening a women’s only sex shop in downtown West Chester, PA.  It’s sort of ground breaking in that it isn’t a sleazy place and that it is geared strictly to women.  There aren’t any creepy men hanging around and the atmosphere there is open, healthy and happy.

There’s nothing wrong with sex.  We all engage in it and even those intolerant people criticizing Jill wouldn’t be here if their parents hadn’t engaged in sexual relations.  Healthy sex is something we all enjoy and as she points out, not everyone is a heterosexual who does it behind closed doors, with the lights off in the missionary position.  Her chief lesson is not to judge who engage in sex differently than you do, a lesson in tolerance her attackers need to learn, especially if they claim to be Christians.

OCCUPY WALL STREET: Separating Fact from Media


By Walter Brasch

Newspaper columnist Ann Coulter, spreading the lies of the extreme right wing, called the Occupy Wall Street protestors, “tattooed, body-pierced, sunken-chested 19-year-olds getting in fights with the police for fun.” She claimed the protestors, now in the thousands in New York, are “directionless losers [who] pose for cameras while uttering random liberal clich├ęs lacking any reason or coherence.” (Several hundred thousand of these “directionless losers” are expected to attend rallies in more than 650 cities, Oct. 15.)

Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), House majority leader, called the protest nothing more than “growing mobs,” completely oblivious to his myriad statements that he supports “mobs” when they are from the Tea Party. Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, tacking as far right as possible to avoid anyone thinking he was once a moderate, called the protest “dangerous.”

Republican presidential contender Herman Cain, in a moment that demonstrated how out of touch he is with the economic reality of the five-year recession, argued, “Don’t blame Wall Street, don’t blame the big banks; if you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself!”

Glenn Beck, too irrational even for Fox News, which terminated him less than two years after it tried to make him a TV superstar, told his radio audience, the protestors “will come for you and drag you into the streets and kill you.”

Lauren Ellis of Mother Jones, at one time a cutting edge magazine for social justice, believed that the protestors have a “lack of focus.” Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer, wrote, “A protest without an objective is like a party or a picnic of the unemployed and the indolent. Unless you have an objective, what are you doing out there?”

First, let’s see just who these protestors really are. And then, let’s see what they stand for, since the mainstream media, of which Fox News is an entrenched part, don’t seem to be getting the message from the people.

The protestors rightly say they are part of the 99 percent; the other one percent have 42 percent of the nation’s wealth, the top 20 percent have more than 85 percent of the nation’s wealth, the highest accumulation since 1928, the year before the Great Depression. Even the most oblivious recognize the protestors as a large cross-section of America. They are students and teachers; housewives, plumbers, and physicians; combat veterans from every war from World War II to the present. They are young, middle-aged, and elderly. They are high school dropouts and Ph.D.s. They are from all religions and no religion, and a broad spectrum of political views.

Support has come from senior politicians with very different philosophies. Vice President Joe Biden believes the protests are because “In the minds of the vast majority of the American-the middle class is being screwed.” Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), unlike a vast majority of Republican politicians, stated, “If they were demonstrating peacefully, and making a point, and arguing our case, and drawing attention to the Fed-I would say, ‘good!'”

Second, like all protests, there are different opinions within the ranks. But, there is a core of beliefs. The protestors are fed up with corporate greed that has a base of corporate welfare and special tax benefits for the rich. They support the trade union movement, Medicare and Social Security, affordable health care for all citizens, and programs to assist the unemployed, disenfranchised, and underclass. A nation that cannot take care of the least among us doesn’t deserve to be called the best of us.

They’re mad that the home mortgage crisis, begun when greed overcame ethics and was then magnified by the failure of regulatory agencies and the Congress to provide adequate oversight, robbed all of America of its financial security. During the first half of this year alone, banks and lending agencies have sent notices to more than 1.2 million homeowners whose loans and mortgages are in default status, according to RealtyTrak. Of course, less regulation is just what conservatives want-after all, their mantra has become, “no government in our lives.”

The protestors are mad that the wealthiest corporations pay little or no taxes. They point to the Bank of America, part of the mortgage crisis problem, which earned a $4.4 billion profit last year, but received a $1.9 billion tax refund on top of a bailout of about $1 trillion. They look at ExxonMobil, which earned more than $19 billion profit in 2009, paid no taxes and received a $156 million federal rebate. Its profit for the first half of 2011 is about $ 21.3 billion.

They rightfully note that it is slimy when General Electric, whose CEO is a close Obama advisor, earned a $26 billion profit during the past five years, but still received a $4.1 billion refund.  

They’re mad that the federal government has given the oil industry more than $4 billion in subsidy, although the industry earned more than $1 trillion in profits the past decade.

They’re mad that Goldman Sachs, after receiving a $10 billion government bailout, and a $2.7 billion profit in the first quarter of 2011, shipped about 1,000 jobs overseas. During the past decade, corporations, which have paid little or no federal taxes, have outsourced at least 2.4 million jobs and are hoarding trillions which could be used to spur job growth and the economy.

They’re mad that corporations that took federal bailout money gave seven-figure bonuses to their executives.

They’re mad that the U.S., of all industrialized countries, has the highest ratio of executive pay to that of the average worker. The U.S. average is about 300 to 475 times that of the average worker. In Japan, Germany, France, Italy, Canada, and England, the average CEO earns between 10 and 20 times what the average worker earns, and no one in those countries believes the CEOs are underpaid.

They’re mad that 47 percent of all persons who earned at least $250,000 last year, including about 1,500 millionaires, paid no taxes, according to Newsmax. If you’re a Republican member of Congress, that’s perfectly acceptable. They’re the ones who thought President Obama was launching class warfare against the rich by trying to restore the tax rate for the wealthiest Americans. They succeeded in blocking tax reform and a jobs bill, but failed to understand the simple reality-if there is class warfare, it is being waged by the elite greedy and their Congressional lackeys.

Herman Cain, Fox TV pundit Sean Hannity, and others from the extreme right wing said the protestors are un-American, apparently for protesting corporate greed. The Occupy Wall Street protestors aren’t un-American; those who defend the destruction of the middle class by defending greed, and unethical and illegal behavior, are.

[Walter Brasch is an award-winning syndicated columnist, and the author of 17 books. His latest book is Before the First Snow, a social issues mystery set in rural Pennsylvania.]


Walter M. Brasch, Ph.D.

Latest Book: Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution





Our Norwegian Sorrow

The death toll in Noway was corrected downward yesterday but the tragedy facing that very civilized country remains great.  Anders Breivik was in court and pled not guilty to the bombing in Oslo which killed eight and a 90 minute shooting rampage in which another 76 people lost their lives.  The Christian Terrorist planned and organized his day of terror so he could gain publicity for his racist, extremist views.  Interestingly many American right wing hate media sites initially blamed the bombing on Muslim terrorists.  

Breivik targeted liberals in a society known for its liberalism.  Fired up by hate rhetoric partially originating here in the U.S. and growing out of the Christian versus Muslim hysteria created by President Bush, VP Cheney and their cohorts used to justify the Iraq War, Breivik was angry at the refugees immigrating to Noway.  Some of them, ironically, were from Iraq, fleeing the death and destruction of Bush’s war.

One of the most heinous reactions since Friday has been that of Glenn Beck who is seemingly excusing or justifying the murderous rampage since its victims were liberals.  He has equated them with the Hitler Youth in saying it was OK to target them for a massacre.  Of course this is like gunning down everyone at a Young Democrats gathering and justifying it by saying they were Hitler Youth.  Beck knows no human decency.  This is yet another example of News Corporation’s high ethical standards.

We feel deep sorrow for our Norwegian friends and apologize for American extremists who incited your Anders Breivik.   We feel your pain and seek to gain an example from you about how to deal with domestic terrorism with dignity and compassion.

News & Notes May 27, 2011

Memorial Day weekend is here so enjoy the nice weather (finally!) and remember to thank a veteran.

Hopefully everyone avoided the strong storm which hit central PA yesterday.  A lot of trees came down from Carlisle to Harrisburg.  Fortunately we don’t get as severe weather as some other places though tropical storms and those old nor’easters cause a lot of damage.  Following the ravages of recent weeks and swaths of devastated towns the Republicans cut disaster preparedness in the federal budget by $1.5 billion.  So the next time a tornado is headed your way and your notification decreases remember whom to blame.

Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota have filed suit against a new law in SD which severely limits women’s reproductive rights.  One thing it requires is that women consult a “crisis pregnancy center” before having an abortion.  These are religious organizations whose mission is to convince women not to exercise their health care choices and brainwash them with lies.  Why would we use tax dollars to mandate religious indoctrination?  (I’m a Board member of Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates, Federation and PAC).

In Kansas a state lawmaker compared getting raped with having a flat tire.  thus far over 1,000 anti-abortion bills have been introduced nationally by Republicans after campaigning on job creation.  The main thing getting raped is women’s rights.

This is delicious:  Andrew Breitbart and Glenn Beck are attacking each other and laying blame for their predicament after attempting to destroy the public service career of Dept. of Agriculture manager Shirley Sherrod last year.  She is now suing Breitbart.  His pro bono attorney is providing terrible representation for Breitbart.  He’s getting what he’s paying for…  I’m loving this.

Easton City Council passed same sex partner benefits in a unanimous vote.  This follows a recent move by Bethlehem to do the same.  Absent any state wide bill being able to be passed various municipalities are taking action themselves.

With $500 million additional revenues already in state coffers the GOP House refused to replace any budget cuts this week.  Projections are that an additional $1 billion should be available by the end of this next fiscal year in June 2012.  That $1.5 billion could replace almost all of the education funding cuts.  This tells us it isn’t about the money.  Republicans want to eviscerate all public education in Pennsylvania. There is no other explanation for their actions.

News & Notes May 23, 2011

My heart goes out this morning to Joplin, Missouri where a large tornado killed 89 people last night.  I drive through Joplin on my way to Santa Fe.  I normally stay in nearby Springfield on my second night and pass by Joplin going down I-44 to Tulsa and Oklahoma City.  When will people begin demanding we do something about extreme weather?

Tim Pawlenty announced his candidacy for 2012.  T-Paw as he is known has several flaws:  he’s boring, he’s dull and he puts people to sleep.  Still he’s one of the few major candidates in the Republican field.  Along with the two Mormons john Huntsman and Mitt Romney no one else is a serious candidate.

Imagine the ease of defining someone called T-Paw, the unknown beast from the North Woods come to rip apart your Social Security, eviscerate Medicare, kill jobs, slash public education and claw through your rights to organize.  A symbol of a big, bad bear tearing down from Minnesota, the man called TPaw, here to destroy what’s left of the middle class…

Meanwhile Newt is trying to identify as someone from outside DC.  he WAS Speaker of the House before his career got slammed by ethics issues wasn’t he?

“I’m not a Washington figure, despite the years I’ve been here,” Gingrich said. “I’m essentially an American whose ties are across the country and is interested in how you change Washington, not how you make Washington happy.”

Newt knows exactly how to keep Washington happy:  tons and tons of lobbyist cash.

The PA Department of Public Welfare has distributed a dress code for women.  Perhaps the new DPW Secretary should be more concerned how he will help the masses of poor people amidst drastic budget cuts to DPW instead of worrying about tights and panty hose.  The Corbett Administration has become The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight.  They aren’t capable of doing anything right.

As the Pennsylvania legislature votes today to further restrict women’s reproductive freedom  this video reminds us that teens do, indeed, have sex:

In ten years Republicans have gone from No Child Left Behind to No Child Matters.

State House Speaker to Capitol Ideas the $4 billion budget deficit is Ed Rendell’s legacy.  So he’s the one responsible for the Bush Recession?

Glenn Beck who has been spewing Doomsday threats for years decried his competition for getting it wrong.  The only difference between Harold Camping and Beck is that one is on radio and one on that and TV.

Yet another NBA star has been caught making a homophobic slur during a game.  Chicago Bulls player Joakim Noah yelled “fag” at a fan during yesterday’s game against the Miami Heat.  He claims he was “caught in the moment.”  That’s no excuse you bigot.

We Are Planned Parenthood

Yesterday the U.S. House passed the Pence Amendment banning all federal funds for Planned Parenthood.  Only Congressman Charles Dent voted against the bill in the Pennsylvania delegation yet he voted FOR final passage of the continuing resolution including the funding cut.  All Pennsylvania Democrats voted against this action.  We thank them for their steadfast support.  I sit as a Director on the Boards of Planned Parenthood Association of Pennsylvania, Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates and Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania PAC.  We need you to stand with us at this critical time.  Tweet your support, send emails to your friends, family and neighbors, put “I stand with Planned Parenthood” as your facebook image and let your Senators know you support our mission.

What is our mission?  Prevention.  Prevention of unwanted, unplanned pregnancies, prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and prevention of ignorance concerning sex and reproductive information.  Nearly all of what we do is screening for breast cancer, cervical cancer, STD and HIV testing, routine ob gyn exams, education, contraception and other reproductive services.  Providing safe and LEGAL abortions is merely a fraction of what Planned Parenthood does yet this procedure is fully legal in all 50 states.  

Cutting off all funding means no more clinics, no more services to 3 million women a year for services they get from a trusted health care provider.  No funding means an unconstitutional attack on Roe V. Wade.  It means poor and minority women in particular will lose the only medical provider most of them ever see.  Many of our services are provided through payment from Medicaid, Medicare and other governmental health programs.  Forty percent of all Americans get their medical coverage via government health care.  This means none of them would be able to use our services.  This means more unwanted pregnancies and MORE abortions.  For those wealthy enough to travel overseas to civilized societies access to these services will remain.  This is a frontal attack upon poor and minority women who largely cannot afford to fly to Canada, Britain or Europe for routine reproductive services.

We are in a class war and the attack upon us is merely one part of the struggle.  It is an important part however.  A radical group called Live Action has spent five years surreptitiously entering our clinics under false pretenses with actors attempting to entrap Planned Parenthood workers.  They recently released doctored, fraudulent videos through Andrew Breitbart attempting to discredit Planned Parenthood.  Glenn Beck used his Fox News televised program last night to attempt to give credibility to these attacks.  He neglected, as have many others on the right wing fringe, to mention that Planned Parenthood notified both local and federal authorities following the visits.  Law requires us to do so when we learn of things such as sex trafficking of underage women.  We did.  Our primary mission, as always, is to provide the health services requested and we did.  Following these attempts at entrapment the authorities were notified.  The FBI was notified as to the attempted fraud.  Fraud is a criminal act.  Why are these people not being indicted?

One single Planned Parenthood employee in New Jersey didn’t act according to our policies and was terminated.  In five years of visits from Live Action this is the only instance where they can document any failure of Planned Parenthood to follow the law.  The employee was properly terminated for failing to follow those regulations.  This is no reason to defund Planned Parenthood.  We provide reproductive examinations for men in addition to women.  We provide community support for at risk LGBT teens and are active in that community in many places.

Please support our mission and contact Senator Casey and Senator Toomey to express your support.

News & Notes February 9, 2011

Gov. Corbett finally met with the press and acknowledged he’s facing a $4 billion budget deficit.  Good luck if you rely on any state services.  You know, roads, bridges, a justice system which keeps violent criminals off your streets, parks, offices of aging and youth services, sheriffs to guard the courts, state police, etc.

President Obama’s new budget will slash funding for LIHEAP which keeps millions of people from freezing to death in winters.  I suppose these past two mild winters convinced the Prez this is no longer needed.

Republicans in Congress are developing their own cuts which would critically hurt many programs including NPR.  This actually makes sense because public radio is one of the few places where one can still get news rather than celebrity gossip.  The less we know about what they’re doing in Washington the better for the GOP.

The VP was in Philadelphia yesterday to announce a high speed rail program.  I’d have gone but the timing required me to drive to 30th Street Station in the morning rush hour.  I won’t do that for anyone.  Unfortunately I don’t have any options for public transit much less being able to take the train.  If the Schuylkill Valley Metro were built I’d gladly take that mode of transportation.

Our host for the blog has been sold.  Warecorp now owns Soapblox.  I have no idea what this may mean for the blog, we’ll wait and see.

Keith Olbermann announced he will begin a new show on Al Gore’s Current TV.  I’ll have to see if I get that on our satellite service.

Glenn Beck, still lost in his world of fantasy and unreality, thinks we’re in cahoots with radical Islamists to establish a caliphate in the Middle East because we support the revolutionaries in Egypt.  How did we go from supporting democracy under George W Bush to undermining it now?  It was all so super to have “freedom on the march” then but not now…  I suppose only an extremist foreign policy under a Republican where we invade countries and overthrow their governments to sit new dictators is good but not invading someone and supporting the people’s true call for democracy is wrong?  Only in the warped mind of Glenn Beck.

Tucson Update

Thus far no one in the Right Wing Hate Machine has taken responsibility for their vitriol.  Sarah Palin’s staff is still claimin gthe gun sights on their graphic last year were surveyors marks.  This in spit of the fact Sarah Palin herself Tweeted after the election that 18 of their 20 “bullseyes” had been defeated.  So if they were bullseyes in November why are they surveyors marks now?  Because some lunatic took them literally and shot one of their targets.

Rep. Giffords remains in critical condition.  Her staffer Gabriel Zimmerman is dead, two other staffers wounded and Jared Loughner has been charged with five federal counts.  State charges for the victims who weren’t federal employees are coming we can assume.

The shooter bought the Glock two months ago even though everyone who knew him knew he was unbalanced.  Pima Community College suspended him after five disturbances on campus and fellow students complained they thought he’d come to campus with a gun and begin shooting.  He had three extended magazines and emptied the first magazine of twenty bullets.  Had three heroes not tackled and held him to the ground many more people would have been shot.  Giffords’ intern Daniel Hernandez, a gay man, held her head to stanch the bleeding and may have saved her life.  It was his fifth day on the job.

Police found numerous envelopes and letters left by the shooter according to court affidavits, spelling out his intention to assassinate the Congresswoman.  There is no doubt as to his target.  Three of the dead were in their seventies along with the 9 year old girl.  Christine Green was brought to the event by a neighbor because she had just been elected to her school’s student council.

This was an unspeakable tragedy and to those who say this isn’t the time for finger pointing or laying blame I say yes, it is.  We must hold those accountable who stoke these fires, incite this violence and enrage the public against us.  There must be accountability and there is no better time than when that happens.  Otherwise we are simply burying our heads in the sand until it happens again and we ask why?

Those who say they believe in personal responsibility must accept it.

The Aftermath

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords apparently made it through the night which is good news.  The bad is that she has suffered a tragic traumatic brain injury.  She is one of the lucky ones.  Six people have died including Christine Green, born on September 11, 2001 and the grandchild of former Phillies manager Dallas Green.  It’s interesting how something as far away as Arizona can hit home.

While the rhetoric of violence on the right wing escalated last year and major candidates such as Sharron Angle were encouraging their followers to resort to “Second Amendment remedies” they are refusing to take personal responsibility now that someone has.   If you’re unwilling to accept personal responsibility for your actions I never again want to hear your pathetic demands that poor people accept personal responsibility for your racism.

A vigil has sprung up outside the University Medical Center in Tuscon for the victims.  Included inthis video by Politico is a picture of Judge John C. Noll who was slain while simply saying hello to his friend the Congresswoman near his home.

Today we begin dealing with the aftermath of yesterday’s tragedy.  Police have released a picture of a second man whom they deem a “person of interest.”  It appears to be a still photo captured from a video surveillance camera.  The Sheriff reported last evening that the alleged gunman is refusing to answer questions after invoking his rights.  I suppose he’s just unbalanced and not crazy.  You couldn’t convince me he was insane when he did this if he knew enough to lawyer up.  According to an eyewitness who helped pin the shooter the gunman had two additional extended magazines which he intended to use.  CNN did this interview.  

Where do we go from here?  What is the future of this nation post Tuscon?  Do we continue to embrace violence as a solution or begin serious discussions about guns, unbalanced people and those who intentionally incite them to violence?  

Does God send natural disasters as punishment?

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Refudiate Sarah

Sarah Palin spent her day today scrubbing her websites of her violent rhetoric inciting people like Jared Loughner to violence.  Consciousness of guilt?  Unfortunately for Sarah her gun sights on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords remain, unscrubbed by all those who saved her graphics and statements.

As Keith Olbermann said tonight on a special comment it is time to repudiate, or, as Palin says, refudiate, all those who incite violence.  It isn’t only Palin, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly or others on radio and television we saw it here in Pennsylvania last year.  Remember the Tea Party extremists who openly carried weapons to Congressional and Senate events?  Remember the group in Lancaster which invited candidates to a shooting range to actually target President Obama and other liberals?

I have been railing about this since my own life was threatened by one of these unbalanced extremists on March 1st.  Ron Renninger, aka Ace of Sweeps” left a message on my voice mail saying he was going to “put a bullet in my head.”  Because I have a “Pennsylvania Progressive” bumper sticker on my car I’m routinely run off the road by other sick people, usually small businessmen in pick up trucks, given the finger and victimized by overly aggressive tactics.  Some in the media called for anyone with Obama bumper stickers to be “targeted.”

Today’s targeting of a Member of Congress, the killing of six people including federal Judge John C. Noll and a 9 year old child should shock America to its senses and have all of us vehemently reject such rhetoric.  Glenn Beck is the worst and Fox News should be taken off the air for supporting this man and his unhinged verbiage.   Should they not it is imperative on each of us as citizens to boycott any advertiser on that network, any entity which supports and funds such activity wherever it exists.

Killing your political enemies or intentionally inciting (and, yes, I believe it is intentional) others to do so has no place in a civilized society.  Perhaps we have ceased being one but it is imperative we take our country back from those who would take us to the depths of insanity.  The Sheriff clearly and openly blamed those on hate radio and television and said this:

“But again I’d just like to say that when you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain people’s mouths about tearing down the government, the anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous. And, unfortunately, Arizona I believe has become sort of the capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”

Instead of retreating from their extreme views many on the right are claiming someone using numerous fringe right wing code phrases is actually a leftist and decrying Sheriff Dupnik for making the statement above.  Of course we know what motivated this young man.  The Congresswoman was his target, he walked up to her outside the Safeway and shot her in the head.  Before doing so he posted a message online saying “don’t hate me” and “I’m not a terrorist.”  Of course he is.  This is a clear cut case of American domestic terrorism just as it was when another deranged extremist flew his plane into an IRS building last year.

There are consequences for actions and words and it is time conservatives accepted personal responsibility for theirs.  Should they refuse then all of us should refudiate them and their networks.