Arizona’s Sheriff Apaio Likes His Inmates ‘Pretty in Pink’

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“I’m looking toward being the first person in the world to put juveniles on a chain gang.”

These are the words of Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, which is where Phoenix, Arizona is located. Arpaio is the controversial subject of a U.S. Justice Department investigation for civil rights abuses. He is unapologetically tough on crime and is one of the law enforcement officials who not only agrees with Arizona’s new immigration law, he is delighted to have the opportunity to implement it. He reportedly said that he was not going to wait until the day after the bill took effect, he was going to start the second after midnight.

Arpaio is not worried about overcrowded jails. He simply puts up tent cities where inmates must live in 100 degree-plus temperatures. He tells those who protest the tent cities as inhumane: “It’s 120 degrees in Iraq and the soldiers are living in tents, have to wear full body armor, and they didn’t commit any crimes, so shut your mouths.” He also refers to his tent cities as his “concentration camps.”

The chain gangs are volunteer in that they are the only way prisoners can earn special privileges. Besides literally chaining them together, dressing them in black and white striped jumpsuits and putting them out on public display, Arpaio is also fond of making the inmates wear touches of pink. The female inmates might not mind, but it is clearly a tactic designed to humiliate the male inmates. He also instituted the use of pink handcuffs, which I assume he had to have specially made.

I realize that there are people who think that almost nothing is too brutal for convicted criminals, but what about the fact that some of the inmates are not convicted, but are awaiting trial?

One of Arpaio’s innovations has been to use civilian posses to search for and detain illegal immigrants. He insists that they don’t do any racial profiling, despite the fact that they conduct sweeps in Hispanic neighborhoods.

What’s Wrong With Being a Victim?

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There has been a lot written in recent years about the Victim Mentality. It’s based on the premise that others are to blame for all the bad things that happen to us and it keeps us from taking responsibility for our own actions. At least that’s the definition.

Those who go on about the Victim Mentality focus mainly on three groups: people of color, the poor, and feminists. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people say that if blacks, the poor and women would stop focusing on their victimhood they could get on with the business of making something of their lives. As if recognizing all the ways that they’ve been discriminated against automatically makes them feel sorry for themselves and unwilling to do anything about it.

But what if it’s not self-pity but social awareness that makes a person see him or her self as a victim? After all, you know the saying, “You’re not paranoid if there really is someone after you.” Why are so many people so quick to label victims as paranoid when it’s clear that they are being victimized?

Yes, you can take being a victim too far. If it paralyzes you and destroys your self-esteem, it’s obviously not a useful mind-set. But rather than seeing it as a character defect, I see it as a positive thing. Because far to many of us don’t blame others enough for the hardships we encounter in life. We put ourselves down for not being strong enough, or clever enough, or hard-working enough to overcome our personal difficulties.

But if we do happen to express the thought that someone else may have “done us wrong,” watch out. There are plenty of people out there who will accuse us of playing the “poor me” card. “You’re just lazy,” they say. “You aren’t willing to work hard for what you want. You’re a baby.”

“They” want us to swallow that swill because they don’t want to face all the ways that they have contributed to our subjugation and our hardships. Whites don’t want to admit that they’re prejudiced. The rich don’t want to admit that they could care less what happens to the poor. Men don’t want to admit that they really do see women as inferior.

See, there’s no excuse in the good ole U.S. of A. for personal failure. So if a black, poor person or female has a hard time getting ahead, it must be his or her fault. Institutional or personal discrimination couldn’t possibly play a role in their less-than-stellar outcomes in life.

There are such things as racism, classism and sexism is this country. People do discriminate against others based on their own self-interest and biases. Human nature dictates that one way to keep yourself on top is to make sure that others stay down. Those who victimize others blame the victims for their own victimization. It’s a clever and insidious technique.

I think it’s important to see yourself as a victim. Because until you identify the ways you’ve been victimized, you’re never going to have enough fire in your belly to do anything about it. You need to be able to identify the people who have a vested interest in keeping you in your place and the processes they use to accomplish it.

And then you need to fight like hell to make sure they never victimize you again.

What’s With Arizona??

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Arizona State Flag

Maybe it’s in the water. Maybe it’s the heat. Whatever it is, it’s bringing out the worst in the people of Arizona. I didn’t even realize that the governor, Jan Brewer, signed a bill into law last September denying benefits to domestic partners of state employees. The new law, which takes effect October 1, redefines “dependent” and excludes  coverage for domestic partners, including heterosexual partners, children of domestic partners, disabled adult dependents, and full time students over 22 who are claimed as dependents.

Interestingly enough, the University of Arizona has decided to reinstate benefits to domestic partners, using funds separate from state money, in order to remain competitive in attracting talent. According to the Arizona Daily Star, about 20 employees of the University left because of the repeal of domestic partner benefits and some job offers were rejected for the same reason.

I’ve always seen the offering of benefits to domestic partners and other dependents as a way to get more people insured in America. Without those benefits, many people will not have health insurance at all. Why shouldn’t a person be able to cover more than herself on her policy if she is willing to pay the family premium? In fact, I think insurance policies ought to cover adult children indefinitely. There’s a terrible gap in insurance coverage between 22-year-olds and those who have finally established their careers to the point where they get employee benefits.

Nor do I think people should be forced to marry just so they can share a family insurance plan. It’s not the place of the state to pry into what kind of relationship domestic partners have.

Continue reading What’s With Arizona??

Friday Videos: Gloria Steinem

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This is an hour-long program featuring Gloria Steinem, a famous Second Wave feminist, now age 75.  (This program is a year old.) You can pick and choose what sections you want to watch. Just click on “Watch Full Program” and select.

Tuesday Tidbits

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Misogyny, Up Close and Personal” by Melissa McEwan in the guardian.co.uk. How we can love men while not liking everything they do.

Marcella Chester’s blog about being a rape survivor:  “Abyss2hope.” This particular article is about the incidence of sexual abuse among boys and girls.  Also check out her website, “Date Rape is Real Rape.”

Bitch Magazine blog post by Mandy Van Deven about the classist, sexist, racist, homophobic and just plain mean blog, People of WalMart. (I could find the Facebook page for PeopleofWalmart, but not the website.)

Feminists Naomi Wolfe and Phyllis Chesler “face off over the veil” at Salon Broadsheet. This one’s especially interesting to me because like Wolfe, I defend any woman’s right to wear a headcovering, but I identify with Chesler’s views since I am also a Second-Waver. Read the article by Wolfe that started the debate:  “Behind the veil lives a thriving Muslim sexuality.”

False Feminists

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Beware of organizations which carry the feminist label but follow a secret, or not so secret, agenda, such as:

    These organizations all have one thing in common: they are conservative, or are backed by conservatives. Am I saying that you can’t be a feminist and be conservative? Well, there’s a good case to be made for that. Ordinarily conservatives stand for the status quo and traditional values. They are not likely to be trying to shake up the system or promoting societal changes.

    Another thing these organizations have in common is that it is fairly difficult to get information about them. It’s as if they know they have to stay off the radar in order to do their work unhampered by the protests of “hard-core” feminists. One example is the Women’s Freedom Network. They don’t have a web site, although I was able to find email and snail mail addresses for them. (I haven’t tried either.)

    False feminists are big proponents of the "pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps" mentality.

    How can you tell if you’ve run into a false feminist organization? One of the deciding factors is where they stand on abortion. It’s possible to be a feminist and be against abortion but it’s not possible to be a feminist and be against choice. It’s a hard stance to take sometimes, especially when you view the photographs that anti-abortionists like to flash around of the “results” of abortions. (I’m not going to link to any of them here.)  Feminists can’t argue that abortions are never done for what seem like selfish reasons. But neither can anti-abortionists say (if they’re honest) that giving a baby up for adoption, for instance, doesn’t cause as much anguish and guilt as an abortion would have (if not more). Or that every baby that is “saved” from abortion goes on to live a happy life. Many of them are unwanted and abused. And where are the anti-abortionists when those children–and their mothers–are in need? They’re off telling other women what to do with their bodies.

    Another thing that false feminists do is…

    Continue reading False Feminists