This blog is taking a temporary hiatus while I finish working on my dissertation. I hope to resume the important critical analyses I began on this blog years ago to engage in larger social discussions of important social justice issues occurring in our world today. Until then . . .
Although I wasn’t alive in the 1970s I am vaguely getting a sense of what it may have felt like. For feminists at least. In my feminist class earlier this month, in between Mary Wollstonecraft and Simone de Beauvoir, an announcement was made that has since utterly confounded me. SB 1433, the Personhood Act. In Oklahoma, where I am currently obtaining my Ph.D., a bill was written by Senator Brian Crain and co-authored by House of Representative member Lisa Billy (yes, a woman). The bill is really quite simple, only two pages; and yet this 2-page document, if passed, has the power to not only undo decades worth of feminist struggle in the state of Oklahoma but also to make abortion illegal. Wait. What?! What year is this?
Within this 2-page document the state determines that “the life of each human being begins at conception”; and unborn children have all the rights granted to every other person and citizen in this country (unless the fetus is LGBTQ?)–but only until birth, at which time they lose these rights. The bill further states that
“Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as creating a cause of action against a woman for indirectly harming her unborn child by failing to properly care for herself or by failing to follow any particular program of prenatal care.”
Reassuring, except for the case of the woman in Mississippi who was charged with murder for having a miscarriage. And the fact that this bill does not protect the rights and safety of women who are victims of rape and sexual assault. And the fact that this bill does not care about the continuation of the rights of fetuses into childhood to ensure their protection in homes of unwanted, abusive, or neglecting families. With so many flaws what’s to worry about, right? Except that this bill has already been approved by the state senate overwhelmingly 34:8 and is pending approval from the House.
Now that’s cause for concern. So what can we do? Probably not much, this is Oklahoma after all. According to my husband we can wait till the bill is passed, becomes law, and then is deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court (like so many other unconstitutional laws that passed briefly before). I, on the other hand, prefer to take a more active approach. So, with a handful of friends and 650 of our closest friends, we will take to the steps of the capitol tomorrow afternoon. Now the question is, with so many logical fallacies in this bill, which one should I choose to address on my protest sign??
The debate regarding new media freedom of speech and online piracy is nothing new; however, the attention brought to SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act), two bills currently facing the U.S. Senate and Congress, has created quite a stir. I have been on the Stop SOPA bandwagon since I first heard of it about a month ago but it apparently seems that not many people are aware of just what these bills propose and why they are so dangerous to American freedom of speech. Here is a video that helps explain SOPA and PIPA:
Many online organizations like AmericanCensorship.org and SopaStrike.com have urged people to get involved by contacting local congress people and senators, blacking out websites, and spreading the word via social networking sites. According to The New York Times “new-media lobbying was having an impact”. Interestingly, although digital media and social movement research have shown that a great deal of activist movements that have solely been fought online have been fairly ineffectual, the Internet going on strike has proven results. Even the founder and supporter of the bill, Senator John Conyn (Texas, R.), withdrew his support only hours after major sites like Google, Wikipedia, and Mozilla shut down their websites or showed their support through blacked out logos, webpages, and/or site content. This exercise in civic engagement will be interesting to watch over the course of the next few weeks to determine how effective can online protests be? New research has shown that the most effective new media protests happen when coupled with offline, physical civic engagement (reminiscent of Habermas’ public sphere) but maybe we’re finally moving towards more efficient and effective methods for dissenting. Or maybe online activism can only be effective when coupled with major corporate support. I hope not. But maybe, just maybe, this will mark a transformation from the days of “armchair activism” towards a more progressive means of social change. Maybe.
As with any burgeoning scholar or even great academic one of the meaningful components of conducting research is to continue the conversation. Like my graduate school advisor told me, conducting research within your realm of interest and passion is like being part of a family or tribe. Within this tribe of media warriors you collectively seek to uncover some Truth, some liberating factor, something that moves humanity. This page is dedicated to this conversation with my favorite thinks and thoughts of famous and not-so-famous academics, poverty scholars, graduate students, and people in general that are continuing the conversation . . .
Image Credit: Richard Rutter