Sunday, July 30, 2006

Divorce is Wonderful... least compared to bad marriages.

I don't understand people sometimes. I really don't understand what good is done if people who make each miserable are forced to stay together. How is this helping children, how is this helping spouses, how is this helping society?

Strip aside all of the religious mumbo-jumbo, and social expectations, and all marriage is in the US is an elaborate contract designating a strong interpersonal relationship. That's it. And "traditional" marriage wasn't even a contract designating a relationship: it was a property exchange between a father and husband.

So I don't understand this "stay-in-marriage-at-all-cost" mentality. Why? What's so great about marriage?

I would like to see the divorce rate lowered, BUT I would prefer to see the divorce rate lowered by less people getting married. I think it should be much, much harder for a person to get married: for instance I think parents should not be able to give consent for minor children to get married. I think that engagement periods should be longer, and "quickie" marriages in Las Vegas should not be allowed, at all. I think that people should have a real idea of what they are getting into when they get married, and "shotgun" weddings should be illegal.

Marriage does not make you more mature, it does not make your relationships stronger, it does not make you a better, more understanding person, and it does not teach you to be a good parent. Marriage is a tool, that is merely as good as the people using it.

Help please

My relationship with my father has not always been what people could call "good". (It tends to be a side effect when you are a controlling, abusive figure in a child's life).

But, he sobered up, and now realizes that he's messed up (although I'm not entirely sure if he knows exactly what he messed up about) and now is trying to piece together the family, albeit in his own, incredibly dense way.

The problem with this dense way is we tend to talk past each other. Way past each other: like not even in the same language are we talking past each other.

So, in attempt to fix this rift, I have been trying to figure out a book I could get him, sort of an introduction to feminism. Does anybody know any good starter books, preferably written to non-acedemic, 1970's men? Talking about the "wage gap" and "glass ceiling" "patriarchy" "mommy track" and "rape statistics" tend to make him confused and start his eyes glazing over.

Any help would be appreciated (and if it's less than 20 dollars and 1000 pages, it would be really appreciated.)

Friday, July 28, 2006

Why do you call yourself "Democrats"?


Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad have the senators from North Dakota since 1992 and 1987, respectively. I honestly have no idea how and why, however. I never hear much positive about them, when I actually get into a conversation about politics with the natives (which trust me, does not happen frequently). But, they still get elected, year after year, even though everyone bitches about them all the time.

Dorgan and Conrad are democratic in the sense that they support farm subsidies and that they normally economically liberal (I especially appreciated their support on the Net Nuetrality Act). When it comes to civil rights, however, they are quite soft.

I could go through the list of things that they are against that are important to civil rights, but the latest, and most irritating, is their support of the Orwellian-named Child Custody Protection Act. They both voted for it, and all I can say is "why?"

This act is violating some fundamental rights of a citizen. I know we still treat children like property in the United States, but they still have rights. One of these rights is the right to health care, another is the right to autonomy, and as Americans, we still have the right to be a CITIZEN in our country, not as a foreigner in another state.

If a young woman (and let's kill the misleading gender nuetral language, it's girls that are going to get an abortion: when was the last time a guy got pregnant?) wants an abortion, than I think they should be able to get it without running to her possibly abusive parents. It would be great and wonderful if everyone had a good realitionship with his or her parents, but the reality never works out like that. Girls who have a good relationships with their parerents go to their parents, the law cannot force girls to have a good relationship with their parents. Girls have been abused, thrown out of their houses, and even killed when their parents have found out about their being pregnant (and by extension, their being sexual).

Plus, this is a slippery slope from "notification" to "consent". As soon as you start saying that parents have the right to investigate everything about their childrens' lives, you start going to the premise that parents have the right to control their childrens lives. And that is something we definately should not.

I grew up in an abusive household. If my parents would have known I was pregnant, my father would have beat the every living shit out of me while my mom would have cried about how she failed me and I failed God. I have two little sisters: if one of them decides to become sexual, I am quite sure that it would be me that they would come to with any problems. And I would tell them my advice, let them decide what to do and then help them the best way I could. If they lived with me in Grand Forks, I would drive them, in a heartbeat, to the cities (or better yet, to Winnepeg), if they asked me to to get an abortion. I would do it, and I would do it even if CCPA passes, because I love my little sisters.

This law helps no one. This law is contrary to civil liberties, and honestly far to similar to another law about where and what people could do in other states. So, Conrad, Dorgan: why do you bother to call yourself democrats when you are a so opposed to liberal ideals?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

ND Fathers' Rights Part 2

Hmm, apparently, blogger ate my last post. I wonder how that happened.

I had a post up here with links and stuff, but I'm not going to do all that research all over again. If it wasn't for the fact that I am using public computers, I'd back up all of my posts. But I'm not, so, *shrugs*.

Anyway, in my last entry I spoke of the Family Law Reform Initiative, and why I felt it was a poor piece of legislation. Today, I would like to write about the Shared Parenting Initiative which I'm told is a kinder, more mainstream version of Fathers' Rights Activism.

I must say, I don't like this one much better than flri. Yes, it has less immediately objectionable material, but SP still has the joint parenting presumption, which is not good for anyone around.

Here is what the problem with joint parenting presumption: it is completely not feasible and harmful for the child. In amicable divorces, the custody is decided out of court, and most of the time it’s a joint custody. Even in not-so-amicable divorces, most parents can put aside their personal problems for children's needs.

But in not-so-amicable divorces, or even worse, violent divorces, the presumption of joint custody is the most harmful thing you could do to the spouse/s and the children. To be a child, forced to witness your parents fight every week, or if not fight, be tense and snipping at each other and to be a child is hard, and just continues to be hard.

To see one parent live comfortably, maybe with a new family, while you spend the bulk of the time with the other, watching that parent try to make ends meet and you have to suffer the lack of income, is hard on a child. A child starts to wonder why they aren't important enough to get income, why they don't get some of the income of the other.

And then, we throw in people having lives. Today's economy means that parents will have to move, nine times out of ten, if they want to get a decent income. What then? Do you have a bi-coastal childhood? How do you get the money for all the travel the child has to do? What do you do when the child wants to go to a friend's birthday party, but oh no, that's the week they're supposed to be at their other house.

What about children who do not want to live with the secondary parent? What about the children who are scared to death of their secondary parent? What do you do then? Tell them to suck it up because their parents own them, and therefore have rights to them?

So who exactly is the presumption of joint custody helping? The children? The primary parent? It seems to me that the only person the presumption of joint custody is helping is the parent who didn't do any of the parenting labor. It seems to me that the secondary parent gets to mess with the lives of their children and ex-spouse.

I think the premise of joint custody is that both parents have a "right" to their children. I don't think you do. I think as parents, it is your responsibility to do what is in the best interest of the child, not what makes you the most comfortable. And I think the law should reflect that.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

ND Fathers' Rights Part One

A few days ago, I mentioned the oh-so-lovely Family Law Reform Initiative. The comments I have received have been interesting to say the least: nothing seems to bring people out like abortion and fathers. (I suppose mail order brides and Real Dolls would do it to).

Rob of SayAnything took offence, because he felt that I was being too harsh on Fathers' Rights Activists, and suggested I look at the Shared Parenting Initiative. I could understand his frustration: I get very irritated when mainstream feminism gets confused with gender essentialists, so I would not like the fringe version of my philosophy be what was most commonly alluded to.

So, this post will be about two separate organizations: first, the Family Law Reform Initiative, and then the Shared Parenting Initiative.

Flri was started by unsuccessful Libertarian candidate for Ronald Riemer (who was convicted of domestic abuse). The flri has 10 parts to it: some parts are less objectionable than others. I will show the complete text and then my argument (if any) to it.

1. Not withstanding any other state statute or common law, the following inviolate rights are hereby establish for all adults and children of North Dakota, and this subsection shall be self activating upon voter approval, and all rights for children, parents and married persons listed in the North Dakota Century Code shall be hereby enforceable as a private right of action against any person or government official, or the state of North Dakota, in either state or federal court, against whoever denies them these rights.

Translation: Here's what we want to make into law (I'm willing to bet one of these guys is a lawyer).

2. All decisions or actions under state law shall be gender and race neutral and, without exception, follow all state and federal constitutional legal and treaty rights, and any state or local official or court or state funded agency who knowingly discriminates shall enjoy no immunity from either personal criminal prosecution or civil suit, and the statute of limitations on such actions shall be 6 years. Any state or local official found to have discriminated shall also be referred to the proper authority for proceedings to either remove them from office or subject them to recall at the next election.

No problems here. Equal protection under the law.

3. All legal actions that affect any family right to children, home, or property for more then thirty (30) days must be accorded the right to a jury trial. This provision shall be retroactive for ten years. Any party not knowingly wavering a jury trial, may, within two (2) years of the enactment of this measure, bring a new action on the issues of property division, support, or child custody. But, if the jury decides that said new action is clearly frivolous or without merit, that party shall be obligated to pay the costs and attorney fees to the prevailing party. Any decision, finding or judgment by any court affecting any family right shall be solely authored by the presiding judge and shall not be delegated to any no-judicial party.

Okay, here's where it gets interesting. Divorce hearings, alimony hearings, and custody hearings are currently by a judge, and not by a jury. The only real objection I have against this is that a jury trial would be much more expensive, but I'm sure what this group is counting on is that a jury would be more sympathetic to not paying alimony and reduced child support.

4. No child shall be denied a right to either parent, without a showing by clear and convincing evidence that a parent poses a real and immediate threat to said child. No time requirements may be made limiting the right to ask for custody or visitation order modifications. And in a divorce, absent clear and convincing proof of an actual threat to the child, joint and equal physical and legal parenting/custody rights shall be the presumed standard. The parents shall agree on a parenting plan, or if they can not agree to such a plan, then the court must produce such a plan for them. To help the parents/courts draft a parenting plan, Child Protection or some other state agency designated by the governor shall draft, within 6 months after enactment of this measure, and updated every two (2) years thereafter, at least ten (10) generic joint parenting plans as a guideline for separated or divorced parents, as well as ten (10) generic parenting plans where the parents do not have joint and equal physical and legal parenting/custody rights.

Ah, here is where it gets a little bit more interesting: shared parenting presumption as opposed to primary caregiver presumption. This is where any actual debate takes place, and I shall write the longer objection further down.

5. No parent may be denied parental rights to his children based on a domestic violence protection order unless there is clear and convincing evidence that the parent poses a real physical threat to said children. In which case that parent shall be allowed visitation in the least restrictive mode that provides protection to the children. A spouse shall have the right to self-defense or defense of his children in any domestic violence dispute. Nor may any parent or spouse gain legal advantage or property by accusing the other parent of domestic abuse. Any parent, advocate or lawyer making or promoting false accusations of domestic abuse is subject to a civil action for damages, as well as costs and attorney fees. Any official, lawyer or judge who knowingly promotes false or frivolous claims of domestic abuse shall be disbarred for not less then one year. A person accused of domestic abuse must be afforded legal representation. All domestic abuse court files shall be open records. Where a pro se litigant is entitled to an award of attorney fees, he shall be entitled to his opponent’s lawyer hourly rate, nor can the pro se litigant be held to the same technical standard of a lawyer, but he may not use this as an excuse for blatant misconduct.

If you hit your spouse, you are a danger to your kids, end of discussion. This shouldn't be something I think I should have to waste space over, but apparently a lot of people don't seem to understand that if Parent A hits Parent B, a person whom s/he supposedly loves, it wouldn't take to long before Parent A "lashes out" on children. And even if Parent A never touches the children in anger, it is still emotionally distressing to witness your parent hit the other (trust me, I know), and it is traumatic for Parent B to be forced to have to see the abuser time and time again. Not to mention, the laws that this advocates for is a) too harsh and b) would take up too much time. A false accusation is already against the law. Think of the practical applications of this law: what would "knowingly promote frivolous claims of domestic abuse" entail, investigating every domestic violence case that doesn't have enough evidence to convict? This would have expensive, and dangerous consequences to our current legal system

6. In joint and equal physical and legal parenting/custody, neither parent shall be obligated to pay child support to the other. But, in non-joint equal physical and legal parenting/custody, child support shall be no more then half of the cost of caring for a child’s basic needs for food, clothing, shelter, education and medical care on an average North Dakota family income as determined by the department of human services, and never more then 25% of the obligor’s actual and normal current taxable income. There shall be no additions for other factors. Nor may the child of divorced parents be entitled to more then a child with married parents, but the support shall be lowered based on the legal or moral needs of the obligor to support himself and other current family members. Child support can only be based on a maximum of a 40 hours work week, and shall not include bonuses, overtime, retirement or one time financial windfalls. The child support obligor shall receive the tax deduction for the supported children. Unless previously contracted for, spousal support shall never be required. Nor shall any obligor ever face jail or loss of other legal rights or benefits for failure to pay a domestic support obligation or debt. Nor shall normal due process and protections be denied for the collection of said obligation or debt. But additional legal/criminal actions may be imposed when it has been proven by clear and convincing evidence that failure to support has resulted in serious child neglect or abuse.

And here is why I think these people just don't want to pay their damn child support. With a presumption of joint custody, and there is no repercussions for domestic violence, that means that you have to be a drug addict not to be able to get custody of your kids. And even if you're a bad parent, the kind who locks their terrified child in the basement, the kind that the child is afraid to speak to without getting hit, the kind that routinely forgets to pick up the child or the kind that makes it impossible to meet any kind of schedule, while the other parent does the bulk of the child rearing are struggling to do the labor of child rearing while trying to make ends meet, you have a clusterfuck that is good for NO ONE, except for maybe the crappy entitled parent.

7. Where child visitation or support is ordered, the courts and the states attorneys must enforce it. Where they deliberately refuse to do so they shall enjoy no immunity from either prosecution or civil suit by the denied parent or affected child. Any state or local official found to have violated these rights shall be referred to the proper authority for proceedings to remove them from office.

No major argument here, just a small quibble: what does he mean by the state attorney must enforce it? That's not really their job. That's kinda a job for law enforcement. So, no, the S.A. shouldn't be able to be sued because you can't pick your kid up on time.

8. Married parties shall be entitled to all property and debts accumulated before, during and after the marriage, and premarital contracts must be enforced under traditional contract law so as to afford each party their full rights. No party shall ever be awarded the premarital or separate property of the other party, and no person shall be obligated to ever pay for the support of another adult human. Unless otherwise contracted for, all savings and pension plans shall be the sole property of the person who has worked or paid into them. And where marital property or documents are ordered exchanged, it must be done within 90 days of the court decree, or the harmed party may ask for a court contempt remedy.

Yeah, no. If you have a pension, your spouse gets half of it, or you had better have been paying for the upkeep of your house. The state has alimony laws because one spouse is supporting the other, and it's not nearly enough (check out how easy it is to get a loan, or a job, if you've been out of the workforce. Not easy at all.)

9. On application for a marriage license, the state shall inform the applying parties of their legal rights and obligations under the marriage laws of North Dakota. The office of the North Dakota Attorney General shall produce this information in a readable form within 3 months after enactment of this measure. Every marrying couple must also agree to a premarital contract at least 60 days prior to marriage. If there are no resulting children/pregnancies resulting from the marriage, then failure to so inform or contract shall make the marriage non-binding at the option of either party if an action for annulment is brought within 2 years of the marriage.

I have no objections to the knowledge of their legal rights before marriage. Too many people get married already, they should know what they're getting into. But, marriage isn't made to have children: marriage is a formal contract of a relationship. So, the two years thing is ridiculous.

10. Because strong families are essential for the well being and happiness of our society, and because of the concern for the ever increasing rate of single parent families and divorce rate, it is hereby establish the state office of Family Advocate. This position shall be elected at each general election. The term of office shall be two (2) years. Candidates for this position shall be a qualified elector of this state and shall be paid $1 per month with no other state benefits other then expenses. The legislature shall budget a minimum of $1,000,000 per year to be used by the Family Advocate for the functions of his office, and these functions may include such things as research, getting public comment, identifying and finding solutions for family problems. Remedial actions could include recommending, submitting and testifying for legislation, performing/advocating public or school educational programs, submitting court briefs, and any other beneficial and effective activity. No Family Advocate shall use this position to advance or advocate his own political, social, or religious agenda, and all his/her public actions must be fair, gender neutral and unbiased. If this office is to be vacant for more then 3 months, the governor shall appoint a qualified interim Family Advocate who shall fill this position until the next general election.

I would have no problem with the family advocate, but I think the rationale that they put out is specious.

Because strong families are essential for the well being and happiness of our society
Sure, whatever. I'll say that having strong families certainly doesn't HURT anything.

and because of the concern for the ever increasing rate of single parent families
I don't have any concern about single parenting, except for the fact that it is very restricting financially.

and [concern for the] divorce rate
I have no concern for the divorce rate. Divorce, as an institution, is great. It means you get to leave a crappy environment. Divorce means that you get to leave a jackass. Divorce is wonderful! The only reason I'm concerned about the divorce rate is it means that too many people are getting married without thinking about what they're doing. Marriage isn't something one should take lightly (and it also isn't something you should do just because you're horny: another reason why I dislike Christianity, but that's another post entirely).

And I'm not even going to get into their reasons (available under News Briefs and April). [channeling William Shatner][/channeling William Shatner].

So, clearly the flri is a bunch of nutcases. These people make my skin crawl every time I talk to them, when I do talk to them (see Me And the Mormons post).

The Shared Parenting Initiative is out later, as this post is getting lengthy.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Grand Forks County Fair

This last Saturday, after the temperature cooled down to livable", my friends and I headed for the local county fair.

For those of you who live in actual civilization and not the middle of nowhere, a county fair is a random occurrence where people sell overpriced foods to raise money, any nut-job can put up a booth, and various homemade items go on display. There are also rigged games and a few not so thrilling rides. The whole event is so very lame, but with the right attitude (or lots of alcohol barring the right attitude), it can be an enjoyable day.

Anyway, there were the usual suspects: people touting snake oil (Mangosteen: we may not have an American studies, but look at the anecdotal evidence!) 4-H stands (The judges may not know art, but can recognize the Olson's kid!) and barnyard animals (yes, that means cows, chickens, ducks, pigs and goats.) Do not misunderstand me, I did my share of 4-H projects in my youth, and I rather like the some of the arts, but it is so...kitschy.

However, two stands stuck out in my mind. One was the "pro-life" stand and the other was the "Family Law Reform Initiative".

First and foremost, I was amused at the Orwellian language. The "Family Law Reform Initiative" is about the worst thing for families I have ever seen. "Pro-life" is anything but: they care about fetid, and that is about it.

I didn't get to have a friendly debate with the nice people, my friends were doing that "Please oh please do not do the feminism thing" on me, and since this was supposed to be fun for everyone, I consented. However, I still did manage to get a few shots.

First, the pro-life stand was actually ambiguous. With hope that I found some kindred, (or at least semi-kindred) sprits in this city, I went up expectantly with the "PROTECT LIFE" booth and asked "So, you guys are what, anti-war, anti-death penalty, what?"

Nice lady, glaring at me: "No, this is for abortion. More people die in that".

"Uh-huh" I say, crestfallen and nonplussed with the argument.

"I had a miscarriage. This is what my baby boy looked like" she continues, showing a little plastic baby-looking thing in a disembodied womb.

Recognizing that this was going nowhere fast, I said "Can I take these?" gesturing at the brochures.

"Of course" she said, brightening. "We've even got a banner you can win".

"No thank you," I said, seeing the homemade banner of Mary and the baby Jesus. "I'm agnostic, it really isn't valuable to me."

Glaring lady comes back. "I see".

I look down and see "Abortion causes breast cancer" handout. "You're going to want to pull this one" I said. "There is no link between abortion and breast cancer. That myth has been debunked".

"Well, that depends at what study you look at" said another random lady, popping in from nowhere.

"Yes," I said. "There are peer-reviewed studies that use the scientific method, and then there are false psuedo-science with a clear political bias".

At this point, my friend sees me and pulls me away, but not before I grab the rest of the brochures.

The stuff, oh man, that gets another blogpost all it's own.

The "Family Law Reform Initiative" I didn't even get a chance to look at. My friends cut me off at the pass, saying that I didn't have the money to get fixed up in the hospital after the guy took a swing at me (and they didn't have the money to bail me out if I returned).

The family law reform initiative is something thought up by the fathers' rights activists and are trying to pass shady legislation with irritating slogans like "Children need both parents". They irritate me to no end because children also need child support payments, something that these men are disintrested in supplying. I've met the man in charge, so to speak, and I've never met a more bitter, entitled example of a "human" being. 4, 5, and 6 are my favorite for the sheer assholishness of them (but this is another blogpost altogether).

I tell you, some days there is not enough alchol in the world to drown this away.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

A Mostly Serious Piece on Pornography

Okay, so my response has taken slightly longer than a day. Mea culpa, I got a job at a store (ending in "art" and beginning with "K") so I actually don't have as much blogging time as before.

Anyway, when I was conducting my interview with the protestors, they kept repeating my questions back at me, curious as to what I believed in. "Did I believe in god?" "Was I a moral absolutist or a moral relativist?" "Could I see how pornography leads to rape?" that type of thing. I feel I restrained myself as much as I could, but these are questions I would like to answer for the benefit of those who'd like to know.

In this entry, I'd like to talk about sex and pornography. For the purposes of this discussion, pornography shall be defined as the viewing of sexual acts for the purposes of titillation (rather broad, I know, but work with me).

Now, I normally tend to fall into the pro-sex feminism side: I like sex, and see nothing wrong with expressions of sexuality. I deny, vehemently, that woman are uninterested in sex, or have less of a sex drive than men. Any woman who has experienced an orgasm is secretly laughing at anyone who says that. This is a stupid stereotype, but more to the point, it can be quite dangerous (because people turn this into a weird sex-as-dominance, or sex-as-transaction, or sex-as-something women have that men want to get). And, I am quite strongly free speech, and I think too many things that count as "pornography" are actually much more about anti-sexuality squick: namely things like belly-dancing or nudity in general. There is nothing wrong with our fleshly body, and carnal delights are quite grand, thank-you-very much. We are sexual creatures, and a denial of that is an exercise in frustration. Sex is a wonderful, messy, intimate, silly, pleasant, sometimes earth-shattering, sometimes disappointing, lustful, stupid-looking, lovely hedonistic activity to do. It's better with skill and experience, it's better with trust and love, but it is what it is. Sex is an activity that two people engage in. Sex is not a "self-gift" in the sense that I'm less than a person afterwards. It is more like a duet, where I am lending my skills to another singer in a beautiful music (and the other person gets to cover up some of my false notes). Does the fact that I have sang with another person make this song less beautiful? Neither does the fact that I have had sex with other persons make it less meaningful when I have sex now. Pleasure is an important an integral part of the action: it is sole reason to have sex is for pleasure, both my partner's and mine.

To that end, I LOVE the PBR. As I stated before, they are the only place in town that sells some sex-aids: massage oil, incense, sexual games, and masturbation aids such as vibrators. These things can help with sex, making better foreplay, more creative sex, more pleasurable sex.

But then, there's pornography. Pornography gets weird, because it's no longer an act that two people engage in. Suddenly, you are purchasing the right to be a voyeur, without the direct consent of the people involved. In many cases, sex is not something that two people engage in, but it something someone does to another. Man fucks woman. Subject-verb-object. In homosexual sex, there's a "bottom" and a "top", someone who's getting penetrated, someone who's doing the penetrating. And then there's "lesbian" porn, where it seems every woman is two drinks away from doing another woman, while they wait around for a "real man" to come and "fix them".

Clearly, most pornography I do not think accurately reflects healthy sexuality (not to mention, lacking almost any artistic merit. Hasn't anyone heard of "plot" and "dialogue" and "acting"? I mean, come on, there's temporary suspension of disbelief, and then there's WTF is wrong with you people.) To that end, I support the protestors against the objectification of SEX (which they misunderstand as the objectification of people, namely women). Women who engage in sex are not being objectified, woman who engage in this weird human-object dominance play are being objectified.

Where we draw the line, is where it starts to get fuzzy. If I wanted to watch "Madame Bovary" and they didn't fade to black when the sex scene came on, is that degrading? I would say no. But if I were to watch "Barely Legal Teen Fuckfest"* I think it would be degrading. However, since we live in a free society, I am not at liberty to say what can and cannot be watched, in the name of free expression. As soon as I start limiting other people's expressions, it will not be too long before they come after my own. Yet, I still disagree with pornography that is sex as a commodity, and I feel there is a great underlying misogyny in rape porn.

So, I'm not overmuch fond of the north side of the building, but I can't say not to have it. I don't want the store to close; I just wish the selection would change, so that it was less about sex-as-a-power play and more like sex-as-a-pleasurable activity. And I think that's where the divide between me and the protestors: I don't like objectifying sex, and they just don't like sex as a pleasure activity. If my boyfriend (in this point in my life, I have no desire to get married) were to go into the store, I'd be "whoopee! New toy!” not an insecure mess that he didn't find me attractive.

I do not believe that pleasure is inherently bad, just like I don't believe sacrifice is inherently good. Activities that lead to pleasure, and have no other harming side effects (like a violation of another's autonomy) are fine. Pleasure is a good in and of itself. Sacrifice that leads to betterment is fine. Needless sacrifice is stupid and should be avoided.

Later I will attempt to delve more deeply in my ethical philosophies.

*I have no idea of “Barely Legal Teen Fuckfest” actually exists. It sounds plausible, and it doesn’t sound like a healthy expression of sexuality.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

PBR Protest Continued

My very helpful ex-roommate has been keeping me abreast of the Catholic pray-in at the Plain Brown Wrapper. He forwarded me this email:

Hello Gentlemen

I just wanted to let you guys know how things are going in regards
to the e-mail I sent three weeks ago about praying in front of the porn
shop down town Grand Forks:

The first week there were three of us praying. We got a lot of
rude comments, it was very busy at that time, I saw one guy walk away, and
at the end of the night a drunken guy came along and threatened to take
our life! (we're fine!)

The second week we had six guys attend. It was not as busy, we
got some more rude comments, and we got interviewed by the Grand Forks
Herald - they put an article in the Sunday paper.

As you know, we will be praying tomorrow from 9 to 10pm... and I
hope and pray, and I beg you to pray, that the eyes who read and the
ears that heard the article will be lead closer to Our Lord. We need to
pray that the faithful will join us in prayer for the poor souls who are
trapped to the addiction and sin of pornography, lust, etc... Also, we
need to pray for those who don't believe - that they may...

Yesterday we celebrated the feast day of St. Maria Goretti -
Virgin and Martyr - patron St. of Purity - Pray for us! She died at the age
of twelve.... she was stabbed to death, preferring to die rather than
be raped. The rapist - his urge and desire to do such an awful thing -
started with pornography.

Today - the first Friday of the month - we reflect on the Sacred
Heart of Jesus. Think of the deep sorrows of Christ’s most Sacred Heart
– His sorrow, that we would view His sons and daughters as OBJECTS and
even DESTROY them... You think He suffered on the Cross, well I know
He's suffering all the more for His children to come back to Him - how He
desires and thirsts for souls... how He loves us... Let us unite our
hearts to His!

I was also told that a local Bible study started praying a few
months ago for the porn shop to close, for some assistance from God... The
lady said, "and you guys came about!" Gentlemen, thank you for your
prayers! If you can't make it to pray on Saturdays - that's ok, but I beg
and urge you not to stop praying for the poor souls enslaved to this
horrific sin, the workers, those involved in the industry, for the shop
to close, for protection of our own souls... Even if it's one Hail Mary.

It simply all comes down to Heaven and Hell - we are going to one
of the two places FOR ETERNITY and your prayers are making a
difference! So, let us not waste any time, and fall to our knees and pray, pray,
pray. Thank you and continue the good fight!

I hope and pray all is well, God bless,

Since I missed the first one, and was unaware they were continuing the protest, I decided to saunter down to the PBR that night (since I needed massage oil anyway).

Well, the massage oil was a bust, as my favorite brand appears to be discontinued. However, I am glad that I talked to the nice protesters, and in fact rethink my earlier snark of their email.

Mind you, I still think that they are almost completely wrong, but they were polite and non-judgmental and were very willing to answer my questions, so I have to give them something.

Onwards to the interview:

What are your objections to pornography?
Pornography objectives people. It is degrading and harmful to the person in it, and it is harmful to the person consuming it. It harms the soul, it is an enslaving addiction. Jesus says "if you look at a woman with lust in your heart, I say that you have committed adultery", so all of these people are committing adultery. As a secular argument, I could see how pornography leads to rape. Ted Bundy even said that he went from pornography to violent pornography. The whole culture trains us to view women as objects, like Britney Spears. Pornography reduces sex to pleasure. Sex is supposed to be a self-gift, not just cheap pleasure. The stuff [in the store] cheapens sex...I have not seen in the store and I don't want to.

You've been doing this for 3 weeks, correct? 4 weeks.
How long do you plan to continue?
WE don't have a clear length. God willing, until the store closes.

So your ultimate goal is to close the store?
No, we want God to close the store. Prayer will work. WE may not be powerful, but god is, and we are the strongest when we are uniting ourselves with god through prayer.

What do you feel you are accomplishing?P
prayer is powerful, and especially witnessing like this. We are fighting against people who see women as objects, and showing men that they don't have to do this.

In your email, you talk about St. Maria Garatti. Could you explain to me why she is a saint?
The story of St. Maria is that she chooses to be stabbed instead of being raped. She represents the desire for purity, and not rejecting Jesus.

So are you saying that women who are raped are not pure?
No, one would say that. It's more about loving God more than life: maturing...not rejecting Jesus. I'm not very good at this...try for more information.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
Just that pornography hurts so many people. It hurts family relationships. Would you want your husband coming into this store? It wrecks family, it's expensive, and people have become bankrupt. Sex is a self-gift: if you divorce love from sex, it's cheap. Pleasure is selfish... the removes and aspect of sex taking out the love. All humans need love.

In an effort to get both sides, I also went into the PBR. I was going to ask them some questions, but I only have to ask one before the manager swooped in and said that "No comment" was the word. The only question I got out was: "How has this affected the store" and the answer the clerk gave me was "more people have come in when they protest. They get curious what the store is about".

My response tomorrow.