Human Rights

November 1, 2009

More than two dozen citizens gathered in front of the IU Auditorium on Oct. 27 to "Walk to Support Palestine." The walk was organized by the American Association for Palestinian Equal Rights Foundation.

After mingling and discussing the events that led them to participate, citizens walked behind a banner that read "Freedom and Equality for Palestine" through campus to the Sample Gates and down Kirkwood to the Square. There was no shouting, no slogans.

Marcher Kadhim Shaaban said it is a moral imperative for every citizen to support civil rights for everyone, especially for the sufferings of the Palestinians. "It is also essential for the United States interests in the Middle East and Islamic World that we work hard to aid the Palestinians who are suffering and give them an independent state," he added. "This is an issue that has both moral and strategic importance."

August 23, 2009

Bloomington-area citizens who support universal health care should not count on their elected representatives in Congress for help. Republican Sen. Richard Lugar has publicly stated his opposition to any health care reform at this moment in history. Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh is economically beholden to the insurance and drug lobbies. And U.S. Reps. Baron Hill, D-Ninth, and Brad Ellsworth, D-Eighth, are both members of the congressional Blue Dog Coalition.

The Blue Dogs are a group of 52 conservative House Democrats, mostly from the South and Plains, who boast of their role in blocking President Barack Obama's goal of congressional votes on health care reform before the August recess. "The Blue Dogs have been successful in ensuring the House will have time to assess the committee products on health care reform, both in the House and the Senate, as there will be no vote on the House floor before August," they wrote in a July 29, 2009, statement.

Thus far during that recess, armed and dangerous right-wing vigilantes have hijacked the political debate, Big Med industries have poured tens of millions into "lobbying" for their interests and dishonest television advertising, and Republicans have hardened their resolve to defeat the Democrats' plans for a government-run "public option" for the uninsured and underinsured, similar to Medicare and the Veterans Administration programs.

August 23, 2009

About 50 Bloomington-area citizens learned about life in Occupied Palestine through a local woman's presentation on her time in a UN-sponsored student delegation to the Gaza Strip in May 2009.

"Every single person in Gaza has a war story," Evann Smith told the audience in a soft and sometimes quavering voice. "There is no single person in Gaza who has not had a direct experience with Operation Cast Lead. ... Everything there was destroyed." Operation Cast Lead was Israeli codename for its war against Gazans launched Dec. 27, 2008, a month before President George W. Bush left office.

Smith, a Bloomington High School South graduate and doctoral student in political science at Harvard University, spoke Aug. 13 at the Monroe County Public Library. Her speech and slide presentation was sponsored by the Bloomington branch of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.

August 9, 2009

Gay teens -- gay males, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people -- are four times more likely to commit suicide than their straight peers. For all youths, those aged 16-24, suicide is the third leading cause of death.

Gay teens are four times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual teens. Young gay people in grades 7-12 are twice as likely as straight young people to plan suicide and four times more likely to make a suicide attempt that requires medical care.

Growing up gay is very, very difficult for most people. As Crisis: 40 Stories Revealing the Personal, Social, and Religious Pain and Trauma of Growing Up Gay in America reports, gay teenagers are at high risk of developing mental illness because of the "hatred and prejudice that surround them, not because of their inherently gay or lesbian identity orientation." That is the crisis referred to in the book's title.

July 26, 2009

Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane. -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


A report on the racial inequalities in the healthcare system paints a grim picture of the shocking and inhumane racial inequities in Indiana. Released on July 15 by Health Care for America Now! (HCAN), Unequal Lives: Health Care Discrimination Harms Communities of Color in Indiana says Indiana's 1.05 million people of color are a lot sicker than whites and have less access to quality care.

"Throughout the nation's history, communities of color have been forced to accept health care that bears little resemblance to what is experienced by members of more advantaged groups," the report's authors say. "For people of color in Indiana and nationwide, life is shorter, chronic illness more prevalent and disability more common. These are predictable side-effects of a health care system that provides these communities in Indiana with narrower opportunities for regular health services, fewer treatment options and lower-quality care."

June 14, 2009

In June of 1958, police broke down the door to Richard and Mildred Loving in the hope of catching them in the act of sexual intercourse. Why? Because Richard Loving was a white man and Mildred Loving was a black woman, and Virginia’s laws, based on long-discredited theories of eugenics, prohibited sexual intercourse between members of different races.

The police didn’t manage to catch Richard and Mildred en flagrante. But they did catch something else, a marriage certificate hanging on the wall of the Lovings’ bedroom. That, too, was something illegal in Virginia. The Lovings were married in the District of Columbia, which allowed mixed-race couples to marry. But they had returned to their home in Virginia, whose state code made mixed-race couples returning to the state after being married criminals.

The Lovings were subsequently sentenced to a year in prison with the sentence suspended on the condition that they leave Virginia.

May 17, 2009

PMSI, Inc., the Noblesville company the county has contracted to study and plan a "justice campus," has released its final report. Among the proposals is an expanded adult jail with a capacity of at least 400 prisoners with room to expand by another 400, and a 72 bed juvenile facility, also with room to expand.

In total, PMSI anticipates the cost to be between $64 million and $78 million.

Decarcerate Monroe County (DMC), a coalition of residents resisting jail expansion, encourages the community to reject PMSI and its proposal. Our opposition is based both on the lack of process in which PMSI has engaged and the actual content of what they propose.

May 17, 2009

I remember August of 1974 almost like it was yesterday. I was a young boy, spending the summer at my grandparent’s compound on Martha’s Vineyard, as I did every year. As I read Richard Adams’ Watership Down, a novel about rabbits on an odyssey to find a new home while, in the background, my Republican grandparents cried and my father cheered as they watched, for the last time, Richard Nixon alight Marine One on the White House lawn.

It was the last summer my father ever spent at the compound.

Watership Down was published in 1972, the same year in which a couple of bungling ex-CIA men got caught trying to burglarize the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters, a headquarters located in one of Washington’s most prestigious addresses: the Watergate complex.

May 3, 2009

Editor’s Note: The following letter to The Bloomington Alternative is being published here in its entirety with the permission of its author.


Mr. Higgs:

Is the only way to receive justice in Monroe County Indiana to be of a financial status to be able to afford to buy it? I thought that perhaps your experience in covering the news and events in Bloomington may have given you the insight to be able to help me answer this question.

I have experienced being homeless and been impoverished here in Bloomington firsthand in the past, and although there are a number of compassionate individuals and organizations here in B-town that are very helpful to those experiencing poverty, I have found local politics and the local judicial system to be less than friendly and in most cases prejudiced against those individuals living below the poverty level.

February 22, 2009

Craig Williams chuckled when he recalled his son’s first foray onto the basketball court. Instead of missing the backboard or kicking the ball out of bounds like his less-than-athletic pee-wee peers, he flung it into the Bloomington Sportsplex bleachers.

“I’m sitting there in the stands thinking, ‘That is different,’” dad said with a smile. “That is not like the other kids at all.”

Williams sprinkled a 61-minute conversation about his son with similar moments of reserved but good humor. But his countenance hardened when he reflected upon a recently unearthed photograph of father and son at 9 months old.

“That was before I knew he was autistic,” he said.

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