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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Peace rally in Lexington, no war with Syria

Some Lexingtontonians came out today to say no to an attack on Syria, video and pictures below:

Friday, August 23, 2013

Noam Chomsky's Q and A on student loans

LIK: Current student loan debt has hit record levels. As you know, these levels are unsustainable. Why, then, would policy makers insist on maintaining these levels, even at the expense of the well-being of the overall economy? Is this a case of "All for ourselves, and nothing for other people" by the ruling elites as you have quoted Adam Smith as saying? Could this be an attempt by the corporate state to leverage coercive power against it's citizens, is this purposeful policy and if so to do what?

Noam Chomsky: Lots of factors converge. The corporatization of the universities and the neoliberal campaign to undermine the public sector all conform to Smith’s “vile maxim of the masters of mankind,” who often act in ways that will harm their own long term interests – creating environmental catastrophe for short-term gain, for example. Debt is also a disciplinary technique, imposing obedience and conformity, thus strengthening the rule of the masters.

LIK: The Vietnam War protests grew over the course of several years, finally resulting in some significant socio-political change. Much of the Occupy movement was driven by the student loan crisis. Could this crushing debt be the catalyst for a new wave of social change? Could it rally otherwise apathetic and unengaged citizens?

Noam Chomsky: I’d like to believe it. That was true in Mexico, recently in Quebec, and is having a major impact in Chile. Not here as yet. This is a highly atomized and very frightened society.

LIK: What would you want to say to young people who are beginning their adult lives already burdened by debt of the current magnitude? When every attempt is being made to atomize Millennials, making them feel alone and helpless, what would you suggest they do to fight back against their circumstances?

Noam Chomsky: There’s only one known form of advice, the advice followed in the cases I just mentioned, and often in our own history: organizing, acting as appropriate. No magic keys have ever been discovered.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Spousal Privilege Doesn't Count When the State Doesn't Recognize Your Marriage

One indicator of heteronormative privilege many straight married couples take for granted is the spousal privilege law exempting spouses from testifying against one another in court. Frequently we also call this law "husband-wife" privilege, which further emphasizes how in many states such a privilege only applies to heterosexual couples. Typically what this means is that if you are married to one of the defendants in either a civil or a criminal case, and you choose not to testify against your spouse, then your right to do so is protected by state law. However, in states that do not recognize non-heterosexual marriages, like our own beloved Kentucky [totally stated without irony], partners who were married elsewhere may be forced to testify against their spouses.

Case in point: Bobbie Jo Clary and Geneva Case. Clary is charged with the murder of a Louisville man, George Murphy. Clary contends that Murphy was trying to rape her, and she used a hammer to defend herself. Then Clary stole Murphy's van, presumably trying to flee the scene of her rape and the violence she perpetrated in self-defense. Later, Clary admitted to her wife Case that she had killed the man. Normally, such an admission would be protected by spousal privilege, but since the events took place in Kentucky, the courts do not recognize their decade-old marriage from Vermont. See ABC local affiliate WHAS's video here.

This is because, as many of you know, in 2004 our legislators passed a law by referendum which bans all same-sex marriages and civil unions, making Clary and Case's marriage unconstitutional under Kentucky law. While the Jefferson County prosecutor's office fights to get Case to testify, the state Attorney General's office may well fight to protect Case's spousal rights. But, then again, they might not. Attorney General Jack Conway might be a Democrat, but he doesn't seem particularly liberal when it comes to women's rights and GLBTQ rights. For instance: while Conway supports legal, safe abortions, he opposes late-term abortions, i.e. anything after the first trimester. Likewise, while Conway says he abhors discrimination, particularly DADT, he still thinks marriage should be a sacred institution joining one man to one woman. Or at least this was the case in 2010 when he ran against Rand Paul for U.S. Senator.

Case's testimony is on hold until mid-August while the AG's office prepares its position, but Case's attorney Bryan Gatewood is willing to take this fight to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary. Since DOMA has had its teeth pulled, we can certainly hope that the USSC will find in favor of Case's spousal privilege to not testify.  BUT - hope is not all we can do. Contact Attorney General Conway's offices and let them know what you think.