The War Against Women Happens Online, Too


CyberBullying

 

In full disclosure, this blog was initially inspired by something I saw online about GamerGate.  I don’t know anything about GamerGate, except that its supporters and detractors cannot seem to even agree on what it does.  For my purposes, and from my point of view, GamerGate doesn’t really matter.

 

What matters is that there have been hateful, vicious and clearly misogynist threats left on the Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, YouTube channels, and websites of women.  Some of these women are in the gaming industries, but some are not.  Many are women just like you and me, like  your mothers and sisters.  Some play games, some are just making comments in support of other women.  Many are being threatened.

 

I’ve seen a lot of arguing back and forth about whether these threatening trolls are involved with the #GamerGate movement; whether or not #GamerGate started to threaten a specific woman; and whether or not those #GamerGate supporters who do not engage in this behavior are guilty by association.

 

In my opinion, all this talk about #GamerGate is a smoke screen, blocking the real issue — that hatred and violence against women, that abuse in general, is on the rise across the Internet.  This reflects the rise in hatred and violence against women which is now found in the “real world” as well.  Online, as it were, imitating “real life”.

 

People need to realize that abuse takes many forms, and sometimes that form is online.  Threatening to rape, strangle, beat or kill a woman is a serious threat, in all cases, whether delivered by a note-wrapped rock through a window, on a Twitter feed, or in person.
NO ONE should have to be threatened this way, no one should have to live in fear.

 

There are those people, I am sure, who think that if a threat is made online, it’s not made in the “real world” and therefore can do no harm.   The number of young people who have committed suicide in this country and abroad as a result ob CyberBullying should serve to prove that isn’t the case, but there are those who still believe that if you say it online, it just doesn’t count.

 

What these people fail to realize is that we live in an increasingly online world, where our information is stored online and much of it — including, in many cases, addresses and phone numbers — are easily available with a short search online.

 

Whether or not someone who is cowardly enough to make these sorts of threats would go to those lengths to find the person they are threatening; whether the person making the threat is geographically close enough to follow through with these threats is not really relevant.

 

What is relevant is that the threat is made, and it has a profound psychological impact on the recipient.  In many cases, one online threat will prompt additional threats from other people, increasing the terror and humiliation the victim feels.

 

Whatever the “cause” behind the threats, these threats are nothing more than CyberBullying, which is illegal.

 

CyberBullying is not restricted to kids harassing each other over something in school.  It is any time anyone posts any threat, for whatever reason, and it is, in every case, wrong and inexcusable.

 

NO ONE EVER DESERVES TO BE THREATENED.   Certainly, no one deserves to be threatened because she’s female, doing something that some men feel is something that has been traditionally a male occupation or hobby.

 

Regardless of what you think about Gamers, or GamerGate or Gaming Journalism, surely we should all be able to understand that.

 

StandAgainstCyberBullying

Prejudice Takes Many Forms


Fueled by Superstition, People Are Violently Attacking Albinos in Tanzania

By Samuel Oakford originally posted at Vice.com

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August 27, 2014 | 6:15 pm

In the past month, a spate of violent attacks in Tanzania targeting people with albinism for their body parts has highlighted a morbid practice linked to witchcraft.

People with albinism, also known as albinos, are born with a deficiency of melanin pigmentation. Those with a complete lack of pigmentation have extremely pale skin and hair, and their eyes are typically a light shade of blue. The condition generally results from recessive genes carried by parents. Albinism in Africa brings with it an increased chance of developing fatal skin cancer, and the lack of pigment to protect eyes against the bright sun can cause sight problems.

Africans with the condition can suffer alienating social stigma in communities where their neighbors and relatives believe them to be ghosts, cursed, or intellectually incapacitated. In some regions, they face a near-constant threat of violence.

UN officials and rights groups reported at least five assaults on albinos that occurred in Tanzania in less than two weeks in August.

On August 5, three men armed with machetes hacked a 15-year-old girl’s right arm off below the elbow in the western region of Tabora. Her family was threatened with death and could not scream for help. Later that day, the assailants targeted her uncle, who also has albinism, though he was able to escape.

The three men were eventually arrested, including a local witch doctor who informed authorities that they had amputated her arm because buyers were willing to pay as much as $600 dollars for it.

On August 14, the mutilated body of a young albino man was found lying in a swampy area in the outskirts of Dar es Salam. Pictures of the victim shared on social media showed that a large patch of skin had been excised from his torso and a hole bored into his abdomen.

Two days later, a pair of men attacked a 35-year-old woman with albinism in a small village in Tabora. They killed her husband for attempting to defend her before severing the lower portion of her left arm and fleeing.

‘The stigma and discrimination is mind-boggling.’

Though these acts of mutilation are widely abhorred and spiritual practices in the region vary greatly, in isolated areas with little access to medical information it is still believed that the body parts of people with albinism can impart mystical or magical benefits.

“In sub-Saharan Africa there’s a significant belief in witchcraft, which often involves the use of body parts,” Peter Ash, who heads the albinism-rights group Under the Same Sun, told VICE News. “That’s been the case in the region for a long time, well before colonization. It’s part of a deep-seated cultural, historical, and spiritual practice.”

In parts of the Great Lakes region of eastern Africa, UN officials have seen reports of gold miners using amulets made of the bones of albinos to enhance their luck, and of fishermen weaving their hair into nets to ensure a large catch.

Since 1998, Under the Same Sun has documented 332 attacks on people with albinism in 24 African countries, including 147 in Tanzania alone. Ash said that the reported figures are only a fraction of the assaults actually taking place across the continent. Most incidents occur in rural areas, where they sometimes go unreported and are rarely investigated.

In many parts of Africa, albinism occurs at higher rates than in much of the world. In Tanzania, one in 1,400 people have the disorder — roughly 35,000 people nationwide. Globally, the rate is generally one in 20,000.

With limbs regularly selling for hundreds of dollars and entire bodies reportedly costing up to $75,000 in a country where the median annual income is less than $600, there is a widespread assumption in Tanzania and elsewhere in Africa that members of the business and political elite are behind the demand. A rise in attacks has been documented in several countries ahead of elections, when candidates have reportedly employed witch doctors to increase their likelihood of victory.

“Witch doctors have long been influential in many communities, but now they’re trying to make a buck, rather than just being elder and respected practitioners,” Ash said. “Now they’re entrepreneurs.”

‘They are rejected by their families and communities, they don’t have access to health services or education. It’s a vicious cycle of discrimination and poverty.’

Though Tanzania — where 93 percent of Christians and Muslims say they believe in witchcraft, according to a 2010 Pew Research report — is often portrayed as the epicenter of this grisly phenomenon, much of that perception stems from the presence in the country of non-governmental organizations like Under the Same Sun, which has an office with 20 employees who can be dispatched to document crimes.

After a 2008 BBC report on the Tanzanian trade in body parts horrified the international community, activists began paying closer attention to the plight of albinos in the country. But while closer observation has seen a greater reporting of incidents in Tanzania, the same cannot be said of the rest of Africa, where freedom of the press is weak and rates of violence against albinos remains for the most part unknown.

Because neighbors and relatives are often involved in attacks on people with albinism, police face obstacles even when they are willing to investigate. Families often bury deceased albino relatives in unmarked graves out of fear that their body parts will be harvested even in death.

Amid the increase in attacks over recent years, Tanzania’s government has increasingly housed children with albinism in schools created for children with disabilities — an ostensibly protective measure that has lately prompted concerns of segregation.

“When it was proposed, it was an emergency measure, but it has now become a long-term solution,” Alicia Londono, a UN human rights official who recently returned from a visit to the country, told VICE News. “The conditions are very bad. Many of the children already have the early stages of skin cancer, and the staff is not trained to treat this disease.”

More than half of these schools now house albino children. Londono described them as “dumping places” where families leave unwanted progeny, and noted that children in these facilities face a risk of sexual and physical abuse.

“They are rejected by their families and communities, they don’t have access to health services or education,” she said. “It’s a vicious cycle of discrimination and poverty.”

Ikponwosa Ero, a researcher from Nigeria who has albinism and works with Under the Same Sun, told VICE News that everyday life for children with the condition is immensely difficult.

“The stigma and discrimination is mind-boggling,” she said. “Aside from physical attacks, the suffering that happens is beyond comprehension. The ejection from school, rejection from society. I wasn’t allowed to step outside at night without a relative, and I was always aware that attacks by ritualists was a possibility.”

Activists and UN officials believe that efforts to educate the public about albinism will help abate attacks on albinos and ensure that they have greater access to services and support — but Londono noted that it won’t be easy.

“Everyone from authorities who I met to the driver of my taxi referred to beliefs that are attached to the condition, that they are subhuman beings,” she said.

Follow Samuel Oakford on Twitter: @samueloakford

 

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The Human Family has degenerated to the point where education  has crumbled, and all over the world superstition and bigotry, meanness and paranoia, are what has replaced a good education for many people.

 

This story is horrifying because these children already have a serious health condition, and it leads them to develop melanoma because they live in Africa and their lack of coloring cannot adequately protect them.  That is the problem these children should have, but because of bigotry and superstition, fueled by ignorance, they are being hunted down and cannot live with their own families.  These children are aware of  other children who have the same physical condition who have been murdered for no other reason than that they are different.

 

All around the world, prejudice is growing and spreading like the deadly disease it is, but it is not spreading through the exchange of fluids or a bug bite — it is spreading because we ae not teaching our children tolerance and understanding.  We are teaching hatred and lies instead.

 

What are you doing to stop the spread?  Are you speaking up against bigotry?  Are you speaking up for education?  Act out and teach the people around you that Hate Is Not The Way.

 

 

Why is Racism still an issue?


 

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I have written about war and peace, I have written about gender equality. I have written about people living in violence. Today, I am writing to the world about yet another human tragedy. I don’t know how bad racism is everywhere in the world, but I feel it is getting worse in America. I am an old lady, but I have a black hoodie that says peace on the front. When I wear it, I wear it with the hood up. I wear it that way for Trayvon Martin.  I wear it because I realize that more people will look at it on the body of  a 5’2″ blonde white woman.  I wear it because my grandfather told me about the Holocaust when I was nine years old. He gave me a book of photographs in black and white of the piles of dead Jews, Poles and Gypsies. He sat me on his knee and told me that we can never forget or it will happen again. I have never forgotten this experience. It has influenced a lot of the work in my life. He died in 1972, and I have told this story in schools, at battered women’s shelters, Holocaust museums and to mean hearted people. I have mentioned it before, here on my blog.

 

Injustice begins with seeds of hatred, intolerance, and ego. I have worked so many places, with so many different people that I can quite honestly tell you that we are all the same. Our hearts beat in the same rhythm, our eyes show us the same world (for good or bad), we all get hungry and tired. We all need to prevent dehydration by drinking fluids. Except for multiple births, we all look different and sound different. We could all die from a barrage of bullets. Why is it that small differences frighten people so much? My nose is different than yours, should that make me feel better than you? No. My skin color is different from many other Caucasians. It depends on the nationality of your ancestors. The people in my family do not all look alike. The DNA is different for each of us. This is true except for identical twins, like my grandsons.

 

During a lifetime, events happen that are not fair. They are not just. If you have a bad interaction with someone of different skin color does that mean that all people of that skin color are a threat? No, of course, not. The human species is more than capable of turning a person or a people’s life into hell. Genocide of any race or religion is a hideous crime without any justification.

 

Morgan Freeman was on a talk show today and Queen Latifah  put a question to him.  She asked him if he believed in intelligent beings in other universes or places in space. He thought a moment and said, “Yes, I do.” She then asked him if those beings would have a god. He again answered yes. I got to thinking about alien life. We are so hateful as a species that I tried to imagine what would happen if people with green skin, or antennae for ears, or even has three arms came to Earth and I think we would kill all of them without a qualm.We would justify it as the only way to keep human beings safe. I think we would never accept them and would destroy them without hesitation. Add in the concept that they might have a god or a goddess. Or better yet, what if our “God” was also their god. I think it would be ever so sad and might even destroy our souls. We can’t even allow other human beings to believe in a god/goddess who they are comfortable with if it is not our god. We want to kill them. It is time to stop sowing the seeds of discrimination, intolerance and hatred. It is time that we got back to the garden. The garden, yes the Garden of Eden. The place where it all began, if you believe that. (Don’t start about Eve. She offered Adam a piece of fruit, he chose of his own free will to eat of it. That is on him. And it always was on him.)

 

 

 

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I am dedicating this blog to every human being who died due to hatred and intolerance.

 

guarda5

Heartbreak again in America


We must find a way to coexist.

We must find a way to coexist.

Lone Star College has suffered its second mass attack. The first, as you might remember was a mass shooting. A terrible event for students and parents to live through. Sadly, mass murders and mass attacks are becoming part of the tapestry of American life. WHY?!  How could so much anger and hatred be breeding within our shores?

Hate is not Holy

Today, this campus was invaded again by pain, terror and tragedy. A male suspect dressed in black, had stabbed 15 people, four of whom have been life-flighted to the hospital. It appears that an X-acto knife or a box cutter, or another knife, may have been the weapon used. One young woman interviewed stated that a woman had been cut around her mouth.

Lone Star Campus

Lone Star Campus

An item like this was the possible weapon

An item like this was the possible weapon

My heart is screaming. More children, more injuries, tears for students and teachers and parents. Fear, on this campus and others, has reached a crippling state.  This is horrifying. I have a grandson, not in Texas, who is in college, and this sort of violence terrifies me on his behalf.  And still, we do not learn.

Hatred is not holy, or religious, or beneficial. We must turn away from anger and hatred. We have to learn to live with acceptance and love and courtesy.
This country will die — we will continue to kill each other — if we do not teach our children to love, to be kind, to give, to accept and not to judge. We need to protect our children and change our society to a loving and accepting society.

Hearts need to be more important than guns or knives.

Hearts need to be more important than guns or knives.

Until we learn to accept one another, to teach love instead of intolerance, to stamp out prejudice in favor of caring, this sort of tragedy will continue to occur.  We must do more than cry and wail and beat our chests.  We must ACT, in love and in compassion and ensure that the next generation does not continue the violence.

Time to Begin Healing


He is my brother

He is my brother

The town of Newton and the country need to begin the long process of healing. There has been a frightening amount of negative energy released into the world this year. Yes, it does happen every year, but somehow this one felt worse. So what to do?  What is the response of rational, thinking, feeling, caring citizens?.

There is a lot of negative energy right now and the numbers of people who have died due to violence is escalating. How should we react in the face of all of this negativity? We use love and light. We walk our spiritual paths and we surround our country with white protective light.

I am talking about working on the spiritual plane right now. The government can and I hope, will handle the issues of violence and gun control facing us now.  When we face people with negativity, hatred,  greed or power seeking, we need to use compassion, love, and light to carry the message of love and peaceful living into the world.

The idea of meeting violence with violence is not good because it escalates the issues. Caring about other beings is vital for us as children of the Universe. Meeting violence with love is the place I think we need to begin. We need to use forgiveness, compassion as well as light and love to heal our own hearts and to  prevent hearts from filling  with hatred and violence.

There are a lot of people who are working very hard to doom our beautiful world into darkness. We need to be more positive, show more kindness, act with more compassion and find more of the beauty that is in our lives. We need to give more, stand up and speak the truth more and deal with our anger. We need to go to anger management or therapy. We need to realize our anger does not give us the right to react violently when we disagree with someone.

We need to praise good work and honest effort. We need to listen to the wisdom, gained through years of living, of those who have earned their wisdom from facing and dealing with the many issues that come up in the journey of a lifetime.

The Wild Rose of Praise

“Those unable to grieve,

Or to speak their love,

Or to be grateful, those

Who can’t remember God

As the source of everything,

Might be described as vacant wind,

Or a cold anvil, or a group

Of  frightened old people.

Say the Name. Moisten your tongue

With praise, and be the spring ground,

Waking. Let your mouth be given

Its gold-yellow stamen like the wild rose’s.

As you fill with wisdom,

And your heart with love,

There’s no more thirst.

There’s only an unselfed patience

Waiting on the doorsill, a silence

Which doesn’t listen to advise

From people passing in the street.”

————Sanai

The poet Sanai lived in the twelfth century.                                                                                                                                                                                                            Children laughing once again                                            

Let Peace Happen

Let Peace Happen

Happychildren

I Believe I Need to Clarify


There is just one America Filled with Many Different Peoples

I would like to clarify my previous post as I think some people may have misinterpreted it. What I am talking about is not politics. I am not talking Democrats and Republicans. We are a democracy and we have free speech. Every Republican has the right to express themselves as much as I do.  All I am trying to do is to start an open, honest dialog with all people, of all kinds of beliefs and backgrounds, so that we can learn to understand the differences between us, and — more importantly — recognize that what is different is not inherently bad or evil.  It’s just different, and that is what makes our country so great.

I was speaking about the big picture here in our beloved country. I wasn’t even simply talking about racism, although, racism is a deep-rooted problem. There is racism in all countries, I am sure. But some countries look at blacks and whites with more equality. I do not feel if we asked black people here or in another country if racism is easing quickly, they would agree. In fact, I know they don’t feel that way, at least among those I know. It isn’t just our feelings about black people alone. Minorities of all kinds suffer from discrimination. How often has it taken laws to protect the rights of minorities?  Asians, Hispanics, Puerto Ricans, Haitians, South Africans, indigenous people of all countries, including the USA. After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1947, we locked Japanese people up in camps even the ones born here in America.

The picture is even bigger than this. We don’t love our neighbors as we love ourselves, if they look different, speak different, have a different religion or religious path. Can peace begin in neighborhoods, cities, let alone countries, if we aren’t practicing it within ourselves and our families? What about hating people who love differently or believe in a different God, or a different facet of the same God? I do believe it has a lot to do with education. If your family raises you to believe that others of a different religion are wrong and will not go to heaven, you probably will believe this when you are an adult. If you are brought up to believe that women are inferior, very often you will treat women as being inferior — even if you are the woman.

To me, the map just gave me this huge picture of the source of our hatred (as in hate crimes) and violence (as in violent crimes). They need to go down. They need to end. Can they end when acceptance and inclusion are moving forward so slowly? I worry that we aren’t making much progress. Bigoted people come in all shapes and sizes and religious persuasions and, yes, political beliefs.

I am sorry if I didn’t explain myself well. I simply wanted to begin a dialog about what people here can do to show more love and inclusiveness to those who are different. I am sending this blog out surrounded with white light and love and a sincere apology to anyone who didn’t understand my whole concept. Yes, the maps triggered my thinking about the problems here in America, but I was not confining them to racism, nor to politics. I meant it to be an example of the fact that we haven’t changed, in the last 150 years, as much as we may believe we have.

Love, Harmony and Beauty


I am writing because despite the fact I am not 100%, the world is calling to me.
I am so sorry that this man made a video which disrespected Allah. This is a thoughtless, selfish and sad use of free speech. The ability to exercise free speech is a responsibility and this man ignored his responsibility.

It is of no comfort, I understand, but people have made fun of Jesus, Moses, Abraham, Buddha, and the Goddess religions.

What I have seen on the television is a situation where hatred and violence have erupted and lives have been lost. Not just Americans, but also many protesters.

People who have a love of the Divine need to remember that violence and hatred are not in harmony with sacred writings or sacred love.

I ask all of God’s people here on Mother Earth to reach out in love, harmony and beauty to heal the hearts of all who are in pain and grief. There is Unity in our beliefs and the love of The One who is everywhere and constantly within us even though you may not understand or believe .

Please stop the violence and hatred. We must all live here together. The only way to do that is to live in love, harmony and beauty; to grasp that all the illuminated souls are united within Divinity. It matters not what Divinity is called, there is One World, One love, and One life. We are all loved and we must begin to acknowledge our responsibility to live in a manner that will bring us closer to the One.

“Thy light has illuminated the dark chambers of my mind;
Thy love is rooted in the depths of my heart; Thine own are the light of my soul; Thy power worketh behind my action; Thy peace alone is my life’s repose; Thy will is behind my every impulse; Thy voice is audible in the words I speak;
Thine own image is my countenance. My body is but a cover over Thy soul; my life is Thy very breath, my Beloved, and my self is Thine own being.”

—Gayan

May we all forgive those who are unable to see the world through God’s loving eyes. May we embrace each other with harmony and may we see The One in every other person we meet. Blessings to all.