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Dispatches From the Culture Wars

ACHA’s war on women; Two tales of rape; Assange documented; TSA going political; Punishing speech at Trinity College

Reuters/Brian Snyder

The Word “Women” Literally Never Appears in the US Senate’s 142-Page Health-Care Bill

By Heather Timmons
June 23, 2017

The Trump administration’s health-care reform bill now in the Senate, and the version that passed the House this May, strips out hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicaid, the insurance for the poor, which now covers over 50% of all births in many US states, and allows states to opt out of covering “essential” healthcare that includes maternity and newborn care.
The Senate bill was crafted behind closed doors, by 13 men and no women. A search of the language used in the 142-page draft document (pdf) shows that womanhood and motherhood are, quite literally, also omitted from most of the bill itself.

She Told a Guy She Worked at an Abortion Clinic. On Their Next Date, He Raped Her.

By Rebecca Grant
June 26, 2017

About halfway through the meal, when he got up to go to the bathroom, Hales asked for the check. Her date got angry but still asked her to go home with him. When she declined, he walked her to her parking spot, and as she was getting into her car, she says, he came up behind her, pulled her into the backseat, and raped her.
“He had me in between the seats, wrapped the seat belt around my neck, and at some point, bit me on my chest,” Hales said. “He said things like I should have expected this and that I deserved it. He asked how I could live with myself and said I should repent. That I was a jezebel. That I was a murderer. That he was doing no worse to me than I had done to women. He said he would make me remember him.”

D.C. Cops Used ‘Rape as Punishment’ After Inauguration Day Mass Arrests, Lawsuit Says

By Alan Pyke
June 22, 2017

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The experiences of the lawsuit’s four plaintiffs  suggest that MPD sought physical and emotional retribution on the hundreds of people kettled, the ACLU alleges.
An officer ordered Horse, fellow plaintiff Milo Gonzalez, and three others to take their pants off before grabbing their testicles and then inserting a finger into their anuses while “other officers laughed,” the complaint alleges.

The Nihilism of Julian Assange

By Sue Halpern
July 13, 2017
New York Review of Books

The danger of carving off WikiLeaks from the rest of journalism, as the attorney general may attempt to do, is that ultimately it leaves all publications vulnerable to prosecution. Once an exception is made, a rule will be too, and the rule in this case will be that the government can determine what constitutes real journalism and what does not, and which publications, films, writers, editors, and filmmakers are protected under the First Amendment, and which are not.
This is where censorship begins. No matter what one thinks of Julian Assange personally, or of WikiLeaks’s reckless publication practices, like it or not, they have become the litmus test of our commitment to free speech. If the government successfully prosecutes WikiLeaks for publishing classified information, why not, then, “the failed New York Times,” as the president likes to call it, or any news organization or journalist?

New TSA Policy May Lead to Increased Scrutiny of Reading Material

By Jay Stanley
June 23, 2017

The TSA is testing new requirements that passengers remove books and other paper goods from their carry-on baggage when going through airline security. Given the sensitivity of our reading choices, this raises privacy concerns.
We know that in the airline screening environment in particular, there have been multiple cases where passengers have been singled out because of their First Amendment-protected expressions. For example, in 2010 the ACLU sued on behalf of a man who was abusively interrogated, handcuffed, and detained for nearly five hours because he was carrying a set of Arabic-language flash cards and a book critical of U.S. foreign policy.

Statement on the Decision to Place Professor Johnny Williams on Leave

By Trinity AAUP (American Association of University Professors)
June 26, 2017
Cross-posted from Facebook
In response to the College administration’s decision to place professor Johnny Williams on leave, we as the Executive Committee of Trinity College’s AAUP chapter think it important to express publicly the following concerns. We appreciate that the attack on Johnny happened very rapidly, and that the administration had to respond quickly, under threat, and with limited information. We also appreciate that the administration is accountable to a number of different constituencies, including trustees, donors, alumni, students, parents, and the general public.
However, we are still troubled that, after a tenured black professor received death threats in response to speaking out against white supremacy on a personal social media page, the administration’s default response was to lend credence to a politically motivated attack specifically designed to stifle critical engagement with issues of race. The other choice would have been to strongly support Professor Williams in the face of such attacks.