What’s Going On: Prop 8, Pakistan & Prisons

I’m beginning to believe that what has kept me from writing anything of substance lately is that I’ve been more in sponge-mode than output-mode.

And what I’ve been soaking up is disturbing, threatening any of my own silly ideas or praise of folly…at least this week.

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photo: <a href=First the California Supreme Court decision to uphold Prop 8. I think I’m in the same boat with most San Franciscans: I’m not surprised, I’m disappointed, I’m looking forward to voting pro gay marriage as soon as possible.

I’m confident that GLBT civil rights will be recognized in my lifetime.

What frightens me is that a mere 51% (or 52% in this case) of the voting public in California can change the State Constitution. Just like I don’t think we should be voting on complicated budget issues in special elections, I just do not trust a simple majority to uphold what I consider to be something of a sacred document.

So, just as soon as I think I might be more libertarian / socialist than a democrat, I find myself trusting the government more than the people?

It’s confusing. Which is why I’ll stay a registered democrat, but will always think of my political affiliation as nonexistant. I am, effectively, agnostic.

* * *

On Tuesday, at Miguel‘s apartment, I caught the absolutely jaw-dropping Frontline episode “Pakistan: Children of the Taliban” by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy.

It is not a hopeful film. Yet Obaid-Chinoy is stunning, and her work as a journalist in one of the most dangerous places in the world confirms, through the words of children, their teachers and Taliban soldiers, a common fear of the “left” (and I assume many, many intelligent republicans, though their facemen are so loathe to admit it publicly, save for retired military officials) in the U.S.

It’s not merely that we fucked up. It’s not just that we blew any chance of creating a more peaceful Afghanistan by focusing on Iraq.

What has happened is that this country’s war has made children (as young as age 5, 6, 7) into Taliban trainees.

Obaid-Chinoy’s film is powerful in so many ways. I urge you to see it, and recognize what kind of bravery and compassion and incredible journalistic ability went into this story.

* * *

And then last night, I found myself picking up an old New Yorker and then reading Atue Gawande’s “Annals of Human Rights: Hellhole“, an extraordinarily convincing piece of why solitary confinement and isolation in our supermax prison system is nothing less than torture.

Real torture.

Which now begs the question: what progress is made by closing Guantanamo Bay while our prison system, in regards to the “method” of isolation, tortures thousands upon thousands of non-terrorists, Americans, most of whom haven’t even committed violent crime, but instead have merely broken prison rules.

I’ve always been against the death penalty. Now I find myself against isolation, a torture tactic special to this country, alone, in its widespread use.

* * *

Forgive me, as this information is sinking in.

And if you do decide to view and read the recommendations in this post, I also urge you to take a healthy dose of NBA playoffs (we’re officially rooting for Denver and Cleveland here).


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3 Responses to “What’s Going On: Prop 8, Pakistan & Prisons”

  1. amy.leblanc Says:

    “’m beginning to believe that what has kept me from writing anything of substance lately is that I’ve been more in sponge-mode than output-mode.”

    happens to me all the time. and then after all the input the output comes like uncontrollable vomit after a night of binge drinking.

    • K. Holden Says:

      You get it, definitely. My head is too full. Thankfully this weekend includes parties for books and fashion.

      I’ll try not to vomit too much.

  2. san francisco history Says:

    very well written
    thank you

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