Wednesday, June 15, 2011

So funny I forgot to laugh

Yesterday, in a political group to which I belong, someone posted a link to this story about a man having a heart attack while raping a 77-year-old woman.

The first comment was, "wow must have been one hot senior citizen there."

I asked, "rape-as-hot-sex jokes? Really?"

I was told that the joke was at the expense of the rapist.

But here's the thing: I don't see how that joke is at the expense of the rapist. I can't see it as anything but what I said in the first place, a joke that equates rape with sex and comments on the hotness of the rape/sex in question.

I'm not so literal that I think the joke was actually saying that the hotness of the sex is the reason (or the sole reason) that the rapist had a heart attack. But that's an old, familiar joke, isn't it? The sex was so hot it killed him. "She" was so hot she killed him. So how does applying that joke to a 52-year-old who died while committing rape not equate rape with consensual sex?

How is the idea of talking about rape as "hot" sex not offensive? How is not demeaning to rape victims, whatever their gender? How does it both promote and reflect the normalization of rape as one kind of sexual expression?

Am I missing something here? Because from where I stand, the intentions behind that joke may have been good, but the joker needs some real education.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Fighting oppression from within

Here are two two linked items (priests and bishops); linked in the sense that I'm posting links to them but also linked in the sense of being connected. In each case, people are fighting for equality and an end to oppression in a religion from within.
In the" priests" story, Catholic women are telling their brethren and sistren that they are just as worthy and as holy in the eyes of God as men--and priests and nuns are risking excommunication to support them.

At the "bishops" link, an openly gay Mormon man writes about the need for his church to be more accepting. [Full disclosure: Mitch has been a friend of mine for years.] He has posted his photo and his real name on his page, although by doing so, he risks excommunication, just as the priests and nuns in the NPR story do.

I once told Mitch that there were churches that welcome LGBTQA congregants. And Mitch replied that he should not have to go to a church that didn't feel the "right" one for him; he should be welcome in his own church. That changed my view of churches and acceptance. It is not enough for some churches to accept that LGBTQA people or women or Group X are fully human and fully equal. It is not enough for some churches to say that all people are loved by whatever god(s) they worship. All people have the right to serve or worship (or neither) as they are called to do, not as someone else deems them worthy to do.

This issue is tricky and complicated; freedom of religion, in its most basic and literal sense, does mean the right to choose and interpret scripture, to fashion doctrine, to take a stand on moral issues. (Or to choose no scripture and no doctrine.) But in a larger and less legalistic sense, freedom of religion means being free to choose your religion or to choose no religion. That sense has an important legalistic application, which is separation of church and state; if religion is imposed on us, we lose the right to choose. But it has a moral sense, too, and Mitch articulated it perfectly: No one should have to "settle" for a religion because it is one of the few religions that accept him or her.

This is, in a sense, a struggle for the souls of churches. Will they grow, become healthier and more loving, or will they become ever more constricted and constricting? Will religion as an institution be given over to hate and intolerance, to those who would legislate morality and impose their views on everyone else--or will it become more open, replacing prescription and proscription with acceptance?

Love it, hate it, or take a more rational view of it as a human, and therefore complicated and flawed, endeavor with both good and bad in it, religion remains a powerful force in the world. It is good, I think, to celebrate the times when any human beings take a stand for equality and justice, in any context. When people are fighting a religious oppression from within, they are doing a double good--fighting for equality AND working to change the nature of an oppressive institution. It takes guts to stay and fight instead of walking away; but walking away only creates a situation in which those left behind are increasingly hardened in their oppressive tendencies and power accrues to the least worthy.

And so I celebrate these priests and their supporters and the bishops who ordained the first women. And I celebrate Mitch, whom I am proud to call friend. And I
and invite you to join me (or, of course, disagree).

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Dear Turtle

When I was a small child, part of our property was wooded and a creek flowed through the woods, so I learned to tell the difference between box turtles and snapping turtles early on. I was four or five when I picked up a box turtle to play with, thereby launching into an experience that changed who I was and who I would become.

Dear Turtle,

Foe years, I was sure I had killed you; now, I am less certain, but I know that I may have. At least, I injured you, and I am and always have been--and hope I believe I always will be--so very sorry. I hope that you did live, that that bloody crack in your shell and the damage beneath healed and that you recovered and lived a long, happy life. I hope your descendants are still living in and around the same creek, in now-suburban New Jersey.

I understood as soon as my mother told me that you peed because you were afraid. I hope that you can understand that I dropped you then because I was startled, hurt, and confused. More than that, I hope you can understand that I picked you up with good intentions, not intending to hurt or frighten you. I can see now that it was wrong to seize you and carry you away and up the stairs, with no acquaintance no regard for your will or feelings. At the time, I didn't understand that; I was young and selfish with the me-centeredness selfishness of the young. Turtles delighted me, and when I saw you, I thought we would play together. I assumed that any hesitation you felt would vanish when you realized what a good playmate I was, and how much I liked you, and--God help me--how much you could trust me, and how much fun we could have together.

And, of course, I was wrong. You couldn't trust me; I dropped you and maybe killed you. And I didn't like you, not in any meaningful way; I found turtles pleasing, and I liked the idea of playing with you, liked the delight and entertainment you could bring me. I assumed I could bring you those things, too, and we could have fun together, my way--which is another way of saying that I didn't know you at all and didn't think of you as a separate, individual being or show you the respect of considering you at all.

And then, half-way up the stairs to the deck, you peed on my hands, and alarmed and confused, I dropped you. And you fell to the pavement below and landed on your back, and when I turned you over, you were bleeding from a crack in your shell. And I was so sad and sorry. I hadn't meant to hurt you--had wanted not to hurt you.

Crying, I took you to my mother for a Band-Aid. She said it wouldn't help, that Band-Aids weren't for turtles and one wouldn't make you better. But I insisted, because I knew that mothers and Band-Aids could make anything better, and the responsibility for the obviously serious harm I'd done you felt like an unbearable weight.

So she put a Band-Aid cross-wise over the crack in your shell, but to dismay, you still kept bleeding. I so very much wanted my mother to make you "all better," to "fix" my mistake or tell me how I might. But there you were, a living being quite apart and separate from me, feeling very real and separate pain and oozing blood. And my mother told me the best thing we could do for you was set you free into the woods.

As you crawled away out of sight, I asked my mother, somewhat desperately, if you would get better. She told me no. "It will probably die," she said.

I think she explained to me that some hurts can't be healed. I know she told me that a crack in a turtle's shell was very serious. Perhaps her intention was to use this calamity--probably small, to her--to teach me a little bit about death and how all things come to an end. I don't know, but I do know and respect that she seldom lied to me.

What I learned that day, though, wasn't something universal about death, but that you would probably die, and I had killed you. Your blood and your pain and your probable death were and are very painful to me. I felt my responsibility in all its enormity, unmediated by all the coping mechanisms we develop with age. As a child, it is easy for a time to believe in the words, "It was an accident; it's not your fault." But there was no absolution in those words any more; this was an accident, but it was very certainly my fault. You were a living creature, with feelings, and I had hurt you. And I knew, as certainly as I knew that I had done you such harm, that I never wanted to hurt another being like that.

What I learned that day was that I was responsible for my actions, that I could do great harm, that doing harm was painful to me because it was painful to other beings, and that I wanted never to do such harm again. Simply put, I learned deep lessons about compassion and responsibility.

And I learned, though I didn't realize until I started this letter to you that these were lessons of that day, that others--not just people I know or just other people, but all other beings, are fully separate and individual, filled with their own life and beauty and selfhood, capable of a full range of feelings, having their own needs, and wholly worthy of respect and kindness. And I learned that showing kindness and respect to others was a kindness to myself.

And I learned that all things are connected, that the life of a turtle who knew nothing about humans and their concerns was connected to the carelessness of a little girl and the height of the stairs designed by an architect and the concrete poured because of a decision the first homeowner made. And that the character and soul of a little girl were deeply connected to the life a turtle she had never seen before. That was the foundation for other lessons I would later learn, about the interconnectedness of life on a much larger scale and the ways we influence and influenced by events and people and beings we never imagined were tied up with our own lives.

You were my first concrete experience of the interconnected web of life that spirituality reverences and that science tells us is literally true, at the molecular level as well on the grander scale of the destruction of species we never knew existed, and that chaos theory demonstrates in yet another way. And you will always be a vivid reminder of the ways in which what we can do can affect others and the ways in which others can affect us, that we are responsible for our actions on scales large and small and responsive to the actions of others large and small. Chaos theory and scale itself may teach us that there are things we cannot control or predict, but you taught me that we should live mindfully of the effects we create, predict what we can, control our selfish and destructive impulses, because we are so profoundly, often invisibly, connected to so much.

I wouldn't not have learned or begun to learn the lessons of that day, not have had those insights, for anything. And yet, I can't express gratitude to you for having been my teacher, because don't feel gratitude. I feel deep sorrow and compassion for you, but I also feel anger that you had to pay such a high price for me to learn these things. If I could change what happened that day, I don't know if I would. Yes, I would, I would. I like to think that it was in my nature to learn these things at some point, but whether it was, whether I would have learned had I not hurt you, I would choose, if I could, not to have harmed you.

And had I learned another way, I am sure it would have been through causing pain to some other being. And that seems wrong to me--for you or any other living being to bear the price of my growth, for a lesson so valuable--so necessary--to come at the expense of another. It is that which makes me angry, that human nature seems to require the pain of others to cause the pain to the self that leads to growth and and awareness of others and the desire not to do harm.

I understand that we cannot grow or develop compassion without experiencing pain, and I have no complaint to make about that. May the memory of what I did to you remain painful, may the sorrow of that day stay with me forever, to keep those lessons sharp and clear and present. But one pain to which I am not yet reconciled is the pain of knowing that you to hurt and maybe die, though you were full of your own sacred life and your own doings and being when I picked you up and interrupted and maybe ended it all. I am grateful for what I learned, bit I am sad and sorry and ashamed about how I learned it. Perhaps I could not have learned it any other way, or perhaps I would have learned it had I never seen you. Either way, please know that I am sorry and wills always be sorry for the harm I did you.

Whether you can forgive me or not, please know that your experience on that day is an inextricable part of my life and of who I am, and that I will always think of you with sorrow, respect, and


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Suggestion for President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Reid

This entry is an adaptation of a comment I left on my friend Neil's blog.

I am getting a little tired of hearing about the "shellacking" that Democrats took because you three, and especially the President, failed to be accommodating, civil, and cooperative enough in your dealings with the GOP. The shellacking was of Blue Dog democrats, not progressive ones, and there would be have no shellacking, perhaps not even a donnybrook, if you had done a better job of touting your accomplishments. As I will argue again later, Washington Democrats just don't understand the value of spectacle. Everyone in the country knew when their taxes were cut during the Bush era; remarkably few even noticed when they were cut this last time.

And that's not just because Bush sent everyone a check, while you decided to do what's best for the economy and make every paycheck a little bigger. It's because the Bush administration sent letters ahead of the checks and wrote on the checks that they were the ones who brought everyone the checks. I'm not suggesting that you should have written out checks, but I am saying that you simply do not understand the value of publicity and spectacle.

Despite the alleged shellacking, the Democrats retained control of the Senate. Unfortunately, though, the abuse of the filibuster has made that a pretty nominal victory. Any one senator can filibuster any bill, and it takes 60 votes to stop that from happening. And the Democrats don't have 60 votes, even during the lame-duck session.

Michael Moore suggested using the lame duck session to pass some of the 420 bills the House passed but that stalled in the Senate. Let them filibuster, he suggested, nutrition for children or fighting elder abuse. I agree, but I want to take it farther.

Others, in fact, have suggested both parts of my proposal (to no effect, as Democrats in Washington have seemed, for the most part, to be bent on appeasement), but what I think makes my combined ideas strong is that it brings two important actions together, and the whole would discredit the GOP more greatly than the sum of the parts.

I think my fellow Democrats in the Senate are idiots to let threatened filibusters have any effect. I think they ought to make the Republicans actually filibuster--stay up all night, read the phone book, not take bathroom breaks, the whole nine yards. On TV. Over popular bills, even bills that do what they originally proposed--which, yes, they have then turned around and opposed the moment Pres. Obama has agreed. 

I say the Democrats should bring up every bill that got through the House that would help ordinary people--and make Republican senators  actually filibuster those things.

Make them go all Mr. Smith Goes to Washington--but in order to stand for letting elderly people be abused. Make them demonstrate, on live television, their opposition to good things, for hours and hours and hours on end. Make them show the country what they're really doing and how little they care about the people who voted for them, in comparison with how much they care about taking complete control of the country back.

Make them be, visibly, the part of "hell, no"--hell, no, you can't provide nutrition for kids; hell, no, we won't say who finances our campaigns; hell, no, the wealthiest 2% of the country won't have to pay the same taxes they paid 11 years ago; hell, no, you can't have more unemployment even though there aren't enough jobs; hell, no, we won't keep the deficit down; hell, no, you can't retire at 65; hell, no, we won't do right by vets; hell, no, we won't adequately fund education; hell, no, you can't have affordable medical care; hell, no, gay people can't serve in the military, and hell, no, we won't fund the military at all if that's what we have to do in order to go on discriminating; hell, no, you can't refuse to give birth to your own sibling at the age of 13; hell, no, we won't vote for renewable energy; hell, no, we won't regulate predatory lenders.

Make them stand there and filibuster every last time; make them stand up and explain why it's not just hell, no, we won't vote for these things, but hell, no, we won't even let them come up for a vote.

By treating the threat of a filibuster as being the same as a filibuster, the Democrats are demonstrating a respect for the intelligence of the voters that, I must admit, is charming--but that totally fails to take into account the effectiveness of spectacle. In this case, the spectacle would be that of literally endless footage of Republicans talking and talking, reading aloud, reciting their grocery lists and the multiplication tables, and so on, all to keep popular legislation from being voted on, for fear it should pass--day after day, round the clock, bill after bill.

Republicans, however, do understand the visceral impact of that kind spectacle. They might try to spin the first few bills as heroic efforts to protect the people, but they know that, along about the 20th bill (or more likely, well before then), they would look like complete and utter assholes in the eyes of all sane people paying even the slightest attention.

There was an episode of Star Trek in which two countries on a planet (or maybe two planets at war) quit fighting real battles and switched to computer modeling. If the computer model of an attack said you would have died had the attack been real, you were to show up at a designated place and be killed. And people did it, because otherwise, there would be real war, and terrible infrastructure damage, and no one would have any quality of life.

Allowing the threat of a filibuster to serve as a filibuster is like that, except that the negative consequences of making the GOP filibuster would be that the Senate would grind to a halt and get nothing done, and the Republicans might become merciless and implacable opponents of everything the Democrats did.

And guys, it's time to face facts; those ships have already sailed.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hello to everyone out there, from all of us in here

I shamelessly plundered this idea from a friend, who had stolen it from a friend of hers, with whom I subsequently became friends, too. (You caught me; this is a repost.) I may be a little removed from the original idea, but as I understand it, this is about naming the “personalities” we all have inside us, naming and describing the parts of ourselves that we keep compartmentalized. As Whitman said, “I contain multitudes.” In this entry, I’ve written up brief character sketches of a few members of  the multitudes in me.

I would love to hear about all the people living inside of anyone who reads this.

Christobel is a little girl, and she loves being just that. She wants to write with a big, fluffy, pink, quill pen, but the rest of us refuse. Her ambition in life was to grow up and be a fairy princess, and she still remains incompletely persuaded that that is not a possibility. She likes to play dress-up and is waiting for an occasion to own a ball gown like Deborah Kerr’s from The King and I. It is Christobel who (with Siobahn) tells me to paint my nails—and Marian who seldom lets her paint them pale pink. Christobel likes birds and butterflies, blossoms on trees, and meadows full of buttercups and wild strawberries. If she had her way, I would spend most of my time gathering flowers into a basket on my arm and making up fairy tales. She keeps her heart close to the surface and is devastated to see anyone or anything hurt. She loves and believes in everyone and is crushed when anyone doesn’t love her back or when her trust is betrayed. She desperately wants to please and be loved by everyone she meets. When that doesn’t happen, she feels like a failure.

Andrew, like Christobel, is about six. He likes to play with turtles. He doesn’t much care about pleasing others as long as others will play with him. He often becomes very busy while playing. He would very much like to build and make things with his hands and is thoroughly disgusted with the rest of us for not being mechanically inclined—or, indeed, able to walk and chew gum. Our biggest failing, as he tells us in his blunt way, is not being able to whistle. He would be perfectly happy to spend forever hanging around a creek or exploring the woods. He doesn’t come out to play very often any more, perhaps because he has no interest in or understanding of the things that occupy the rest of us most of the time. He likes some video games, though.

Marian is a warrior, She doesn’t have any gender issues with being female and a warrior, and she’s as happy in a dress as slacks—but she does, as I said, draw the link at baby pink nail polish. She is not willing to tolerate any kind of bigotry, injustice, or dishonesty, and she is unrepentantly certain that the one thing it is all right not to tolerate is intolerance. Any paradox that might lie therein, she is certain is mere sophistry. She is direct, believes in action, and has no patience for inactivity of silence in the face of evil or injustice. She gets the rest of us into trouble a lot when she acts alone, but she is showing an increasing willingness to listen to Edmund. She has been very vocal lately and is taking a definite interest in the election.

Edmund is the practical philosopher, and he forces the rest of us to be just as often as he can, whether we like it or not  (that is, he forces us to "be just" whenever he can--not he forces to "be" just as as often as he can) . He is the one who believes (and reminds us) that none of us are any wiser or more likely to be right than anyone else, which makes him the wisest of us. He insists on civil discourse, from the rest of us and everyone else, and can be hard on anyone, internal or external, who is uncivil or unfair. He is one of the few of us who think before speaking. The rest of grudgingly admit that he’s right most of the time, but he has been so helpful over time that we can’t resent him.

Sylvie is fairly quiet. She lives in the woods and loves contemplative silences. When she does speak, it is softly and often in song. She is a goddess worshipper and frequently wishes she could disappear into the fog and wander unseen. She sees a lot of beauty and carries a camera, but has to be reminded by the rest of us to use it, because she lives too much in the moment to remember to record things. She could fly if she weren’t weighed down by the rest of us.

Gertie is greedy and envious. She is constantly reminding the rest of us that we can’t sing, don’t have good hair, are not popular enough, etc.—and urging us to hate and resent people who have what we don’t. She would like us to dislike anyone with more money, education, talent, looks, or better fingernails. Edmund, Marian, and Elizabeth spend a lot of time sitting on her. Most of the rest of us have learned not to listen to her, but Christobel sometimes falls under her influence. Andrew and Sylvie are immune and never hear her at all.

Hagen is clumsy. He means well and says the wrong thing at every opportunity. He is not at all able to cope with nuance or subtlety of any kind. He is often baffled and he feels left out when hints are dropped. He is, alas, in charge of incoming communication which involves subtlety, and he frequently makes a fool of us all. We have tried, especially Edmund and Lucretia, to educate him, but in the end, people who have anything to say to any of us should probably just be direct. When forced to guess, Hagen always guesses wrong.

Banshee is a howling void of aching need. She is the raging repository of every hurt, rejection, injustice, lie, or attack we encounter. If Marian can’t right it, Banshee stores it. Christobel reports everyone who doesn’t love her directly to Banshee, and Banshee hoards it all up. Her wail is dangerous and destructive, but if stifled too long, she gains in power. She writes some of my worst poetry, and I let her. It helps keep the wail from getting too loud. Since she stores up anger at external injustices, too, she sometimes teams up with Edmund and Marian to write some of my best blog entries, and on rare occasions, a poem that surprises the hell out of me and makes me proud.

Erinye is the voice of certain family members, certain teachers I had, and a few former friends. She tells me I am bad and wrong and have no right to enjoy life or have any fun, ever. Whatever I say or do that is healthy or good, she criticizes. She tells me I’m lazy and selfish and mean. She hates Banshee, in part because one of the things Erinye thinks is worst about me is that I am, in her words, a troublemaker. The other reason she hates Banshee is that Banshee is trying to destroy her, for which I am grateful to Banshee. We all are. Erinye hates Marian, because Marian is a truth-teller. She hates Edmund, because Edmund is fair, even to me, which pits him against her. She hates them both because they’re courageous. She hates Sylvie, because she doesn’t think I deserve anyone so beautiful or private. She is okay with Christobel, because she likes to devastate her by saying that no loves her or any other part of me. If Banshee could drive out Erinye, Banshee might become something much better than she is.

Lucretia is terribly clever. She likes to read Derrida and discuss ideas which have no application to real life. She can be fun, and she helps us all win at Scrabble, but she’s terribly self-indulgent and pleased with herself, and she frequently irritates the rest of us.

Siobahn embraces the non-rational. She loves colors, all colors, and also all shades of grey, which she refuses to let any of us spell gray. Siobahn is passionate but disorganized. She writes a little, paints a little, and with Sylvie, photographs a little. She is attracted to everything with colors, such as swaths of fabric, bottles of nail polish in a row, and dishes of colorful candy and will happily come home with a purse- or pocketful of paint chips. She wants to eat every bright red berry or red glass bead she sees. She is lazy, and it’s hard to get her started, but once she gets going, it’s hard to stop her. She also cooks and likes to experiment with recipes and invent new dishes. She decorates but seldom cleans. If she had her way, I’d have a different hair color every few weeks. She loathes Elizabeth’s taste in clothes and would prefer to dress in costume or at least as the mood struck her, without regard for fashion or appropriateness, and is quite irritated that the rest of won't.

Elizabeth mediates and sort of runs things. She is not, alas, very disciplined, but she is funny and loving and tries hard to listen most to Edmund and Marian. She does most of the writing and the talking and making friends and decides with whom to collaborate and when to pass the microphone to any of the rest of us. She shows up for work and tries to live like a grown-up, but she often forgets to listen to Andrew and Sylvie.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Why I Write (a tedious self-reflection in poetry and prose)

This is also a Sacred Songspace challenge.


I write to understand the world and myself. I write to speak for people who need someone to speak for them. I write to speak for myself. I write to learn what I think. I write to gain clarity. I write to tell the truth.


The truth is never
objective. Facts are not
the truth. The truth is salvific.
The truth will make us free.
The truth is that
there is a greater truth
of which we catch only glimpses.
The truth is that we are blind,
deaf, insensate, but we have
moments of sight and insight.


Art is the expression of insight. Art is the way we share the glimpses we have. Art partakes of the truth, and therefore, it partakes of salvation. If we could turn glimpse into sight and, through art, turn sight into vision, art could save humanity. But we have no sight, only glimpses, and even the best of artists communicate those glimpses only imperfectly.

Even so, art is how we discover what it means to be human. By creating art, responding to art, sharing those glimpses that come to ourselves and others, we redefine who we are, we learn to understand the glimpses we have of the truth.


There is truth in myth.
There are deeper truths
than what he said,
she said,
they said,
we are told,
we see,
we say.

There are truths we share
without being aware.
We write those truths in some way
every time we caress a keyboard,
enfold with a hand a pen,
make forms on the blank of page or screen.

I write to understand
and share the glimpses I have had
of the deeper truths.
I write because I believe
in humanity
in truth
in myth
in fact
in small salvations
here and now.


This is the paradox of art, that it partakes of the potential for salvation but can never really save the world, the artist, the viewer, the reader... It never transforms the world. It seldom transforms a person. Yet because it partakes of that potential, it can transform a thought, a moment, an insight. It can prevent or at least slow the long slide into a world without glimpses, it can make the truth more visible, it can remind us that humanity has a choice, that there are deeper truths, that those truths are worth seeking, worth expressing. Art alone will never redeem us, but it is redemptive, if only because it reminds us of the possibility of redemption, salvation, transformation, reminds us of the deeper truths.


The deeper truths
are not solely beauty,
though beauty may be truth,
as the poet said.
And truth may be beauty,
but what a strange beauty,
the beauty of the masses
and the few
and the one,
the beauty of the love
and the hate
and the pain
and the hope.
The beauty of art is religious,
even for atheists,
for it is the beauty of Buddha and Christ, the
beauty of the love that accepts all
that is human
and goes on loving.

I cannot love
like that in life.
I am not Christ,
no Buddha I.
Slights, hurts, and betrayals,
rejections, trespasses,
violations and violence,
the wrong of the bully,
the desecration of the truth--
they blind me, stop me;
I let them kill my love.

When I write, I purge them
or remind myself
how little they matter,
remind myself to love,
just a little,
as I should.


Joan Didion points out that the phrase "Why I Write" says "I . . . . I . . . . I," which is true, but I think that we create art of any kind, and we write whether we think we are artists or not, because in doing so, we say both "I . . . .I . . . . I" and "YOU!" And we say "yes," as well. I believe that we write because, in the end, writing transforms us, as all art transforms us, whether it is our own or that of others. I believe that I write because I seek transformation. I write to become more fully human.

© K. Kammann 2008

Do you draw? Sketch? Write? Paint? Take photos? Know someone who does? Read this entry!

In 2006, the "orphan works" bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. It is still before a committee and is actively being considered.

It is ostensibly a bill to make it possible to use works when the copyright owner can't be identified or found. Effectively, it takes away all passive copyright protection and would force everyone to pay to protect every single thing they create, including snapshots. If we don't pay to register the works, we lose all right to them, and anyone can use them.

This bill is still before Congress, and they're still having hearings on them. I'm posting a link to San Souci's blog entry on this bill (which has a little souci, anyway and to a video of the May 13 House subcommittee hearing on this bill. The hearing is an hour and a half or so long, so I haven't yet viewed the whole thing. That will have to wait for the weekend, but I did want to make others aware of it, partly because I think some people will want to view it and partly because the link establishes that this isn't just an urgan legend and the bill is still active.