Social Justice

September 5, 2004

by Lisa Golda

She got up with a sheaf of anger and despair that she called poetry and read to the small audience crowded in the back room at the Soma coffeehouse in a testimony no jury could have ignored. She called her poem "Bloomington Rapist."

"I'm feeling rather naked and vulnerable in front of you all," she commented before beginning. But this was a poetry reading, not a trial. She did not bear the burden of proof or guilt. The poet simply poured out her pain, and was heard, as were all the poets who brought their rage and their love to the Matrix open mic reading on Wednesday.

Most poets want their voices to be heard. Poems and authors only come to life when words reach an audience. Public readings provide emerging artists with the opportunity to showcase their work and receive feedback from other poets and audience members.

September 5, 2004

by Thom & Sherry Bohlen

The following account of last week's protests at the Republican National Conventon is from Linda King, who runs the Environmental Health Network in Chesapeake, Va. Evansville environmentalist John Blair last week posted this on the Hoosier Topics, the Indiana Sierra Club's e-mail discussion list.

***

Sherry and Thom Bohlen are friends of mine who are politically active in the Progressive Democrats of America. These people are what I would describe as "upper middle class" professionals. (Thom is an architect in North Scottsdale. They live in a beautiful custom home in the mountains of Scottsdale.) Sherry was with us in Boston, and she told me that she and Thom were planning on going to NYC for the Republican convention. I remember telling Sherry to be careful.

Last week Sherry wrote to me and stated that she was on her way to NYC and would write to me everyday with an update. I got e-mails from her on Sunday and Monday, but not Tuesday. I figured she was busy and eventually she would get back to me with the latest news. Bellow is an e-mail I just received explaining why there was no Tuesday update. Here is what she wrote:

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"ARRESTED IN NEW YORK CITY!"

August 29, 2004

Police call on activists who have mobilized community members to register to vote and intimidate citizens who have expressed concern over election procedures. Government agents question citizens who declare their plans to demonstrate against the ruling political party.

Criticism of the current leader is declared a security threat by a TV channel that represents the head of state. Citizens who do not adhere to the religious beliefs promoted by the government are regarded as inferior, even evil. Anyone can be held without legal representation indefinitely, even tortured and killed, if suspected of being a potential threat to that government.

This mystery country is not Communist-era Russia, Inquisition-era Spain, Chile under Pinochet, or any countries currently under despotic rule. It is the United States of America in 2004. Did anyone recognize it?

July 25, 2004

The following statement from Lamon Smith's rape victim was read at Friday's demonstration against Prosecutor Carl Salzmann's plea agreement in the case.

***

To all who have gathered here on 23 July 2004 to oppose the dismissal of the rape charge in the Lamon Smith plea agreement:

I thank you for your rallying support in the wake of Herald-Times publicity regarding the Lamon Smith rape case. I thank you, also, for hearing my testimony through the generous agency of the Bloomington Women's Equity Committee, whose objective is to advance the rights of victims of rape and gendered violence in our Bloomington communities.

July 25, 2004

The Bloomington Women's Equity Committee (BWEC) put Monroe County Prosecutor Carl Salzmann on trial Friday afternoon with a protest on the Justice Building steps for his alleged failure to aggressively prosecute perpetrators of violence against women.

The protest followed Salzmann's June 18 plea agreement with Lamon Smith, who was being tried for raping an IU student in July 2001. As his trial was underway, Smith pled guilty to felony burglary, and prosecutors dropped charges of rape, obstruction of justice and being a habitual offender.

July 11, 2004

Americans have a disturbing tendency to confuse issues of absolute morality with questions of individual responsibility. This results, in part, from many Americans' religious persuasions, which are of course regarded by their practitioners as absolute. Faith tends to be black and white, and religion per se doesn't always leave a lot of room for individual debate. No one wants to be accused of being a shopping cart Catholic.

Americans err, instead, on the side of being pre-emptive Protestants, enacting laws that will prevent people from doing things that will send them to hell, or forbidding constitutional amendments endorsing "immoral" behavior. The emphasis on religious dogma, rather than philosophical ethics, is what leads to flashpoint issues like gay marriage, and more recently, denial of access to birth control for women. This refusal of access has not (yet) been legislated; such legislation may be in the future plans of pharmacists who have taken the care of maternal and zygotic souls upon themselves.

June 6, 2004

Last night my lovely wife asked what I intended to write about today. I replied that I wasn't quite sure (it's usually Saturday afternoon before I figure it out) but that I supposed it would be a standard dyspeptic rant rooted in a favorite bete noir or two. Perhaps the idiotic dysfunction of modern civic planning, perhaps the coming energy train wreck, or perhaps the tyranny of the real estate grifters and the land speculators. I wasn't sure, but I was sure it would come to me.

"Why don't you write something funny?" she said. I was a little insulted. After all, I think I'm hilarious. But I realized that she was touching on something that other readers sometimes complain about too, namely that when I think I'm being sardonic and droll, others just find it sarcastic and cynical. Caisse le pied as the French would say.

May 30, 2004

Deborah Voigt, a world-famous interpreter of the Strauss operatic repertoire, was recently dropped from a London production of Ariadne auf Naxos. According to the Associated Press, she was too heavy, by the director's standards, to wear a cocktail dress. Voigt has not publicly discussed her actual weight. One might conservatively estimate that she weighs well over 200 pounds.

In quotes printed by The Sunday Telegraph, Voigt describes herself as having "big hips." She's not alone. A study by the American Cancer Society, printed in the New England Journal of Medicine, indicates that 65% of Americans are now classified as overweight or obese.

May 16, 2004

I'm a transplanted Oregonian doing my master's degree at Indiana University. Mostly it's nice to live in the Midwest; the well-intentioned interest of my neighbors and their generally conservative natures, once a shock to my discreet northern system, have become an acquired taste. Last week, I was walking through streets of clean white houses trying to make sense of the latest news from Iraq (grinning soldiers, naked Iraqis, grainy photos), when a man on top of one house brought me to attention: hammering on a roof, happily whistling "I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy."

May 16, 2004

News Release
Citizens Action Coalition

Citizens Action Coalition, Indiana's largest consumer protection group, has named Grant Smith as its new executive director. Smith has been with CAC for 17 years, including the last four years as its utility and energy program director.

Current executive director, Chris Williams, is retiring after 25 years with the organization, 18 of those years at the helm. Williams was honored with a roast on May 12 in Indianapolis.

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