Cain is a member of the far-right Freedom Caucus in the Texas State Legislature.
“If you were to take or destroy the eggs of a sea turtle — now I said, the eggs…. The criminal penalties are severe: up to a $100,000 fine and a year in prison. Now, why do we have laws in place to protect the eggs of a sea turtle, or the eggs of eagles? Because, when you destroy an egg, you’re killing a pre-born baby sea turtle or a pre-born baby eagle. Yet when it comes to a pre-born human baby rather than a sea turtle, that baby will be stripped of all protections in all 50 states…. Is that the America the left wants?”
Montana Sen. Steve Daines, arguing that human egg cells should be afforded the same protection as eagle and turtle eggs, in a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate
Abbott wants Texas to challenge the ruling because of its high cost to Texas taxpayers.
“Democrats have convinced themselves that Russia stole the presidency, which rightfully belonged to Hillary Clinton. And they mean it when they say it. And that’s why they are taking us to war with Russia. So, that’s not their goal — saving Ukraine, saving human lives. No, that’s not their goal. Instead, the war in Ukraine is designed to cause regime change in Moscow. They want to topple the Russian government. That would be payback for the 2016 election. So, this is the logical, maybe the inevitable, end stage of Russiagate.”
Tucker Carlson, describing how he thinks the Democratic Party is somehow responsible for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
“We shall have our theocracy very soon.”
Vincent James, a radical White nationalist celebrating the leaked Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade
James also said he hopes the decision will eventually lead Americans to seeing Justices Alito and Thomas “throwing gay people off of tall buildings”.
Many of the cases that arrive before the U.S. Supreme Court begin with individuals either trying right a wrong or make their own lives better. They rarely expect to launch a national movement. That was pretty much the case when Norma McCorvey found herself pregnant with her third child in 1969. An unemployed carnival worker living outside Dallas at the time, McCorvey apparently had led a rough life and had given up her first two children for adoption. She didn’t need – and couldn’t afford – to bring another child into the world. However, the state of Texas didn’t allow for abortions except to save the life of the mother. Even rape and incest victims couldn’t end their unwanted pregnancies. Like so many women in her situation, McCorvey was too poor to travel to another state where abortions were safe and legal. She even tried to obtain an illegal abortion, but again the cost was prohibitive. She sought legal help and ended up under the guidance of attorneys Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington.
In 1970, after McCorvey had given birth and given up the baby, Coffee and Weddington filed paper work challenging the Texas law and bestowed the name “Jane Roe” upon their client. They targeted then-Dallas County District Attorney Henry Wade. Wade had entered the national spotlight nearly a decade earlier when he prosecuted Jack Ruby for killing Lee Harvey Oswald who had been accused of assassinating President John F. Kennedy. (Wade would later come to light as a ruthless prosecutor who engaged in unscrupulous legal maneuvers to ensure criminal prosecutions, no matter the cost and despite evidence to the contrary.)
That was pretty much the end of the issue until the 1980s, when right-wing religious leaders began stoking the fires of anti-abortion rhetoric. It accompanied the presidency of Ronald Reagan who openly stated he wished for a return to an America before the 1960s. That should say enough about his bigoted state of mind, but it aligned with a growing hostility towards progressive ideology and civil rights legislation.
Earlier this week the unexpected news arrived that the Supreme Court may overturn Roe vs. Wade by the end of its current term in June. We wouldn’t know anything about this if it wasn’t for the leak of a draft opinion by Associate Justice Samuel Alito who declares the Roe decision “egregiously wrong” in terms of constitutional practicality. Chief Justice John Roberts has confirmed the veracity of the statement, but has joined many others in condemning the leak.
For many of us the leak isn’t the main concern. It’s what it says. There is now a very real possibility that nearly a half century of protection for that part of women’s overall health care could end because a handful of conservative extremists on the High Court want to inject their personal views into it.
For their like-minded ilk in the American public, the overturning of Roe marks the end of a long-fought battle in their alleged “pro-life” agenda; a perverted early Mother’s Day gift. It doesn’t matter that a majority of Americans don’t want to see a complete ban on abortion. They’ve been working for this moment over the past four decades.
For liberals, though, this is a much more dire situation. While the current case that brought Roe back into the forefront is limited to just abortion, progressives see other seminal SCOTUS decisions in the judicial crosshairs. It really isn’t extraordinary to see such cases as Obergefell vs. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage, reversed. Along with abortion, queer rights have been a target of far-right conservatives. But, if the Court sees fit to outlaw abortion at the national level (and leave it up to individual states), it could also reasonably overturn Griswold vs. Connecticut, which ruled that states could not deny birth control to married couples. Before that decision, married residents of Connecticut (and a few other states) couldn’t legally purchase birth control.
To some conservatives, abortion has become another form of birth control, which is not what contemporary feminists who jump-started the modern women’s movement desired. The latter group had always declared that abortion should be a woman’s last choice. But, with the overall concept of birth control in mind, is it possible a woman who has a tubal ligation could be criminally prosecuted? For that matter, could men who have vasectomies be subject to criminal jurisprudence? How about condoms or IUDs? Could those be outlawed?
Remember that, when Antonin Scalia died in 2016, Republicans in the Senate displayed their usual contempt and disdain for President Obama by refusing to hold hearings on his nominee to the Court, until after Donald Trump got into office. They stated that, since Scalia’s death occurred during an election year, the incoming president should select his replacement. Yet, upon the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2020, they rammed through the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett – a character straight out of “The Handmaid’s Tale”.
That social and religious conservatives want to dictate what women can and cannot do with their own bodies conflicts with the long-held American vision of individual freedom. Many of these people screamed at the thought mandatory mask-wearing or forced vaccinations at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic; crying they should have autonomy over their own bodies. Really? What an original concept.
The reasons why an individual woman wants to end a pregnancy are myriad, but it is no one else’s business. As painful a decision as it may be, I’d rather see a woman end a pregnancy she doesn’t want than give birth to a child she doesn’t want. Children who come into the world unwanted are often unloved. That’s an awful fate for someone.
Regardless, pregnancy and birth are individual choices. No one – not the Supreme Court and not a politician – has the right to interfere with that.
Here’s a job for which I feel I’m overqualified. Favor Delivery, a Texas-based food delivery service, has a new position: “Chief Taco Officer”. Job duties are simple – travel across the Lone Star State to taste and review select tacos. Favor will pay the chosen individual $10,000 for the duration of the contract (June and July) and provide free accommodations, transportation and free Favor delivery for a year.
Prospective employees must be Texas residents at least 21 years of age with a public profile. Using this application site, they need to create a short video (one minute or less) explaining why they should be the CTO and why they’re excited about the opportunity, then post the video to TikTok or Instagram Reels, tag @favor and use #FavorDreamJob.
I’d love to see this posted on Indeed, Linked In or Monster. Their web sites might crash.
“Ms. Herrera’s case is a terrific example of exactly what we expect to happen. You can’t continue to say over and over again that abortion is murder and not expect that police and prosecutors are going to not treat it as murder.”
Lynn Paltrow, executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women
Lizelle Herrera, a 26-year-old South Texas woman, was arrested and jailed recently over a self-induced abortion just months after the state banned most abortions. The murder charge has been dropped, but abortion rights advocates are still concerned about increasing attacks against abortion in judicial circles.
“It appears that you are unaware that [the statute] continues to exist as the law of Texas,” Cain said. “And you likewise appear unaware that your organization is committing criminal acts that are exposing everyone involved in your organization – including your employees, volunteers, and donors – to criminal prosecution and imprisonment.”
“I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [‘hard-core pornography’], and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.”
You know the old puzzle: if a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around, does it make a sound? Using that logic, if a book is published, and no one finds its content offensive, is it obscene?
Obscenity seems to be subjective. Right-wing extremists certainly feel that way, as they have (once again) assumed the role of moral overseer and decided they have the authority to determine what books are and are not appropriate for others to read. To we writers and other artists, the term censorship is like holy water to a devil worshiper: it’s terrifying! Whenever we learn that some people are challenging the presence of certain materials in a public venue, such as a library, we bristle. But, instead of running and hiding, we’ve been known to stand and fight.
It’s worth noting McMinn County, Tennessee is near the location of the infamous Scopes Monkey Trial, where the concept of evolution became intensely controversial. In 1925 the state of Tennessee passed the Butler Act, a bill banning the teaching of evolution in its schools. Evolution, declared legislators, contradicted the Christian Bible as the single standard of truth in public arenas, such as schools. The move astonished – and frightened – many across the country.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) responded immediately by vowing to support any educator in the U.S. who dared to teach evolution. A popular young high school teacher in – of all places, Tennessee – named John Scopes offered to be the defendant, if the state decided to make good on its promise. They did. On May 7, 1925, Tennessee authorities arrested Scopes and charged him with violating the Butler Act.
The ensuing legal battle made headlines across the country and the world. The judge in the case showed his deference to the state by opening each session with a prayer and refusing to let Scopes’ defense call any scientific witnesses. Ultimately Scopes was found guilty and fined $100. The ACLU hoped the case would make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the Tennessee State Supreme Court reversed the decision on a technicality. Still, the repercussions were widespread. The Butler Act was never enforced in Tennessee again, and similar measures in other parts of the U.S. met with failure. But progressives realized they could never relax in the face of extremist ideology.
So, here we are in the third decade of the 21st century, where the U.S. has come out of two brutal Middle East wars and is now facing an onslaught of urban violence. We experienced 36 mass shootings in the month of January, resulting in 101 injuries and 42 deaths. That’s just in the month of January 2022 alone!
But, as usual, social and religious conservatives are more upset with books. In October of 2021, Texas State Representative Matt Krause asked the Texas Education Agency for information about 850 books in school libraries. He wanted to know how many copies of these books were in each library. It didn’t surprise observers that the majority of the books are by women, non-Whites and/or LGBT authors. The imperial Krause is concerned that taxpayers are funding the presence of these books in school libraries. Yet, my tax dollars are wasted if those books are removed because he and other like-minded folks find them unacceptable.
“If I had a statement, it would be ‘Read the book or sit down,’” says Evison. “I feel like these people are frightened because they’re losing the culture wars.”
Yeah! Sit down and read – more than the Bible or the TV guide.
I will concede parents have the right to be concerned by what their children view and read. But I feel banning books from a school library is just one step away from banning books in any library or elsewhere. It’s truly not an unrealistic stretch to envision such a scenario. The world has witnessed such activities in totalitarian societies, and the results are often sanguineous.
Once again, though, what is obscene?
The 1920s was a decade of both progress and excess, particularly for the growing film industry. Although silent and in black-and-white, movies had begun to show a variety of mature content – mainly heavy alcohol consumption and sexual behavior. Concern over the material became so intense that, in 1934, Will H. Hays – then head of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) – introduced his personally developed “Hays Code”, a standard production guide for what is and what is not acceptable content for motion pictures. The code remained until 1968, when the MPAA introduced its film rating system: G (General Audiences), PG (Parental Guidance recommended), R (Restricted) and X (mainly for sex, but also for violence).
By the 1960s, films were presenting increasingly controversial subject matter – and headaches for the MPAA. The 1966 film “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” shocked audiences with its blatant use of foul language and served as one catalyst for the rating system. The 1968 film “Vixen” became the first movie branded with an X rating. The following year John Schlesinger released “Midnight Cowboy” with Jon Voight in the titular role. It, too, was branded with an X rating. Despite that, it went on to win the 1969 Academy Award for Best Picture – the first and (to date) the only X-rated film to win such an honor. Viewing both “Vixen” and “Midnight Cowboy” now might make somebody wonder what the fuss was all about.
The film rating system took an odd turn in 1983 when a remake of the classic film “Scarface” came out. The MPAA initially granted the movie an X rating because of its excessive violence. Director Brian DePalma reluctantly trimmed some of the footage, and the film was rebranded with an R. If it had gone out with the X label, “Scarface” would have been the first movie released as such because of violence.
Another X controversy arose six years later with “The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover”. The film’s gratuitous sexual content garnered an X rating from the MPAA. As with DePalma and “Scarface”, director Peter Greenaway reluctantly agreed to edit out a small portion of the sexual matter – small as in some 5 minutes – and the film was upgraded to R. The fiasco upset many in the entertainment community – not just in the U.S. but across the globe. If the difference between an R and an X rating is a paltry 5 minutes, then how valid is a film rating system?
What is obscene?
In the 1950s, the Hays Code was applied to a growing new medium: television. In motion pictures, the code, for example, dictated that people of the opposite sex could not be filmed in bed together, unless one of the duo (usually the man) had at least one foot on the floor. In TV, however, even married couples couldn’t be shown in the same bed. The rule went into effect after a 1947 episode of “Mary Kay and Johnny” showed the title characters hopping into the same bed. But that taboo dissolved completely in 1969 with “The Brady Bunch”. Bathrooms also were generally off-limits in television. One exceptional first was a 1957 episode of “Leave It to Beaver”, when the boys tried to hide a pet alligator in the tank of a toilet. An early episode of “All in the Family” produced another first: the sound of a toilet being flushed.
As mundane as all of these events are today, they each sparked a ruckus at the time.
Personally, I find excessive violence offensive. I never laughed when I saw men and boys get struck in the groin in slap-stick comedy scenes in films and on television. I grimace at bloody acts in similar venues, while others react as if nothing more than a sharp wind blew past them. Conversely, many of these same individuals are horrified by the sight of blatant nudity, especially if the nudeness is that of a male. It’s difficult to imagine now, but even as recently as the late 1960s words like pregnant and diarrhea were forbidden on television.
The word “bitch” is used frequently on TV today. But, in 1983, a musical group called Laid Back released a song entitled “White Horse”, which features the line: ‘If you wanna be rich, you got to be a bitch.’ MTV played the video, but bleeped out the term “bitch”. In 1994, Tom Petty released “You Don’t Know How It Feels”, which contains the line: ‘But let me get to the point, let’s roll another joint.’ Music video networks deemed the ‘roll another joint’ verbiage unacceptable and bleeped it out whenever they played the video.
I remember the controversy that erupted with the video to Madonna’s 1990 song “Justify My Love”. Once again, music video networks assumed the role of moral protectorate and either refused to play the video or played it late at night, when children and other fragile souls – such as moral crusaders – were asleep. Undeterred by the skirmish, Madonna packaged the video and sold it independently.
In 1965, The Rolling Stones made their debut appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show”, during which they performed a sanitized version of “Let’s Spend the Night Together”. Producers convinced the group to sing ‘Let’s spend some time together’ instead. Lead singer Mick Jagger leered at the camera – in the way only Mick Jagger can – when he spat out the words.
Two years later The Doors were presented with a similar option when they made their appearance on the show and performed their already popular and now seminal hit “Light My Fire”. Sullivan’s son-in-law, Robert Precht, suggested they alter the line ‘Girl, we couldn’t get much higher’ to ‘Girl, we couldn’t get much better’. The group refused and performed the song as it was. Their act of defiance resulted in their permanent ban from the show – a move I know upset them to no end.
Meanwhile, “Maus” has experienced a surge in sales as a result of the squabble surrounding it. If there’s one way to ensure something’s popularity or success, it’s to try to ban it. In other words, censorship always backfires.
Yet, censorship will always remain a threat to freedom of speech, expression and the press. The war will never be won – by either side. But those of us on the side of true freedom can win individual battles by standing up to self-righteous demagogues.
“Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., and Ivanka Trump have all been closely involved in the transactions in question, so we won’t tolerate their attempts to evade testifying in this investigation.”
Letitia James, New York State Attorney General, in a statement released January 18 in which she alleges former President Donald Trump and his family inflated the value of his properties and misstated his personal worth in representations to lenders, insurance brokers and other players in his real estate empire
“History will not remember them kindly.”
Martin Luther King III, the son of the late civil rights leader, comparingSens. Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin to the White moderates his father wrote about during the civil rights battles of the 1950s and 1960s – who declared support for the goals of Black voting rights but not the direct actions or demonstrations that ultimately led to passage of landmark legislation
“COVID is real; COVID is a threat. But even more serious than COVID, as real and scary as it is, is to see thousands and thousands of thousands of voters not being able to vote, and it was on our watch. We refuse to stop. We refuse to turn around.”
“This case is a disaster for the rule of law and a grave disservice to women in Texas, who have a right to control their own bodies. I will not stand by silently as a State continues to nullify this constitutional guarantee. I dissent.”
Hey, did you hear the story about the teacher who dumped her sick kid into the trunk of her car so she wouldn’t get infected?
This is true! And it could only happen in Texas! Sandra Beam is facing child endangerment charges for placing her 13-year-old son in the trunk of her car, after he tested positive for COVID-19. Her reasoning? She didn’t want to get infected herself!
Her decision prompted her suspension from the Cypress-Fairbanks school district and a felony charge of child endangerment. She was jailed, but managed to post a USD 1,500 bond. As of now, it’s not known whether or not she has an attorney.
The 41-year-old teacher is highly-regarded among her peers and has received a slew of support from the community where she has been described as kind and genuine. Think about it though: the witch placed her own son into the trunk of her car so she wouldn’t get sick.
Here’s a bright idea: WHERE A MASK!
Here’s another bright idea: as punishment, dump home-girl into the trunk of that same car with a bottle of water and a cell phone and park it by a sewage plant for 12 hours.
“Science tells us that after conception, that any … child’s heartbeat starts at six weeks. Any abortion at that point stops that heartbeat. It stops that life and it stops that gift from God. Today, I am asking all of you to protect the heartbeats of these unborn children. I am bringing legislation to ban all abortions once a heartbeat can be detected.”