Friday, February 14, 2020

Scioto Republicans Warn of "Liberal Ideologies" and "Socialism" In Public Schools

This was a post from the Scioto County Republican Party Facebook group on February 13, 2020:

A Gallup poll showed Democrats are most willing to support a socialist, with 76 percent saying they would vote for a candidate with that political ideology. Only 45 percent of Independents and 17 percent of Republicans said they would do the same.

This is what liberal ideology in our schools has produced. We are one generation away from losing everything if this continues. Teach your children about the dangers of Socialism.”

Does this post make you wonder just what Republicans are saying about schools and their “promotion” of a “liberal ideology.” The doomsday scenario proposed by the party practically begs parents to oppose public education and deny the supposed “production” of its socialistic products – that is, our greatest resource, the youth of America.

The Republican Party of Scioto County is guilty of shamelessly arousing the feelings and enthusiasm of the multitude with fallacies like Argumentum ad Populum, stereotyping, slippery slope, and misleading statistics. Their emotional appeal to the public blames Democrats who would support Bernie Sanders for president of seeking to gain complete government ownership over the means of production. They employ political rhetoric to foster a vague claim that Sanders is leading us all to hell.

That same Gallup polling in 2018 found when asked to explain their understanding of the term "socialism," 23% of the public viewed socialism as “equality – equal standing for everybody, all equal in rights, equal in distribution” while only 17% of the public saw socialism as “government ownership or control, government ownership of utilities, everything controlled by the government, state control of business.” And, in fact, another 23% had “no opinion” at all about socialism. These are hardly numbers for alarm about a government takeover.

(Frank Newport. “The Meaning of 'Socialism' to Americans Today.”
Gallup Polling Matters. October 4, 2018.)

Polls show Americans today are most likely to define socialism as connoting equality for everyone, while others understand the term as meaning the provision of benefits and social services. Most Americans' understanding of the term “socialism” is what might be considered a more standard liberalism.

All of this leads to the next logical conclusion – when Americans – especially millennials – think of 'socialism,' they primarily think about Bernie Sanders, Western European democracies, income equality, and access to healthcare.

(Third Annual Report on US Attitudes Toward Socialism, 2018.)

Misconceptions about the precise meaning of Sander's "socialism" abound, with many Americans conflating the term with communism in nations such as Venezuela and Russia. Sander's policies are more in line with the type of socialism seen in Scandinavian countries, a political science professor noted in a Newsweek interview.

Dr. Eileen Hunt Botting, a professor of political science at Notre Dame University, told Newsweek that the ideology of communism means there would be "no private property, and no class distinctions." Botting explained that democratic socialism, conversely, does not do away with private property or all economic class distinctions. She said …

Democratic socialism aims to use democratic government to promote a more fair and egalitarian distribution of social goods and opportunities among all people in a society.”

(Jason Lemon. “Bernie Sanders is a Democratic Socialist not a Communist,
Here's the Difference.” Newsweek. February 3, 2020.)

The truth? Yes, according to poll results from Gallup released February 11, 2020, just over three-quarters of Democratic voters said that they would vote to elect a socialist president. The poll, conducted between January 16 and 29, asked respondents whether they identified as Republican, Democrat or independent and questioned them about their willingness to vote for candidates with "diverse characteristics."

Let me say that again … “willingness to vote for those with diverse characteristics.”

Local Republicans have oversimplified, categorized, and demonized the results of the Gallup poll to spread fear that public education promotes socialism in some kind of a wacky conspiracy to take away democracy. This fear mongering is baseless and divisive – similar to many of the tactics used by a narcissistic leader who views every threat to his presidency as “Communistic” or “unconstitutional.”

According to these Republicans, American government is one generation away from destruction unless the “liberal ideology” is stopped … not to mention they clarify the meaning of “stopping” by turning teachers and students into partisan, mindless automatons of the State presumably by having them support Trump for president and electing Trump-supporting candidates in 2020.

I encourage people to see through this ruse and, instead, understand that Bernard Sanders is an American politician who has served as the junior United States Senator from Vermont since 2007. He is the longest-serving independent in U.S. congressional history.

Sanders is known for his opposition to economic inequality. On domestic policy, he broadly supports labor rights, and has supported universal and single-payer healthcare, paid parental leave, tuition-free tertiary education, and an ambitious Green New Deal to create jobs addressing climate change. On foreign policy, Sanders broadly supports reducing military spending, pursuing more diplomacy and international cooperation, and putting greater emphasis on labor rights and environmental concerns when negotiating international trade agreements.

Bernie Sanders is not a threat to destroy the country or to obliterate the government. He has beliefs that fall under what many call the label of “democratic socialist.” If you believe America desperately needs some aggressive action to cut the masses back in on the fruits of economic production, Bernie Sanders' democratic socialist vision is a good place to get started.

And, many Americans believe – the young, in particular – that Sanders' policies would make a big dent in income and wealth inequality – some very ugly side effects of Republican-supported capitalism in the 21st century. Yes, teach your children well: teach them not about groundless theories, but about critically thinking for themselves. I pray the youth of Scioto County continue to gain academic skills that support them as true independent citizens. 

Here is an example of response to Scioto GOP's Facebook post on socialism (2/13/2020):

This has been part of the Dem playbook half a century. Look at Sesame Street for example. There is little actual educational value in the program itself. It's main purpose seems to be brainwashing American youth into believing mediocrity is acceptable.

It's OK to live on the projects for the rest of your life. It's OK to share and share and share some more, because it really isn't about community, it's about planting a subliminal seed to make you feel entitled to someone else's things, since communism mascaraing as socialism is the ultimate goal of the Dems. Of course they say that isn't the case, but considering all the action they've taken to disarm and devoice others, make no mistake, it's absolute, tyrannical, control they seek.”

Sesame Street brainwashing” and “subliminal devoicing” … lions and tigers and bears, oh my. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Catholic Priests and Marriage -- Why Christian Celibacy?

In October last year, a synod of 184 bishops met at the Vatican to discuss the future of the Church in the Amazon. It was argued that older, married men should be allowed to become priests. Estimates show that at least 85% of villages in the Amazon are unable to celebrate mass every week as a result of a shortage of priests. Some are said to only see a priest once a year.

However, the married men would need to be men who are particularly well-respected and would preferably come from the indigenous communities where they intend to work.

The decision needed the Pope's approval to be implemented. Catholic priests are required to abide by the rule of celibacy upon ordination except in cases where married Anglican ministers have converted.

But the conservative wing of the Catholic Church – particularly in Europe and North America – spoke out against the idea, arguing that this could lead to the global abolition of celibacy.

In response, Pope Francis has just ruled against ordaining married men in the Amazon region as a means of addressing the shortage of Catholic priests. Also, the Pope announced he had decided not to allow women to serve as deacons, a lower rank than priest – but that is a topic for a different blog entry.

The obvious need of the faithful has been short circuited by this papal decision. Is this denial a positive affirmation of the faith or is it another denial of needed change? I wonder.

First of all, I must establish I am not a Catholic, and any views I express here are those perspectives of an outsider looking in. I am not trying to influence Catholic beliefs or push for any change. I approach this subject as something I have always questioned – no more and no less.

Saying that, I have always wondered why priestly celibacy, rooted in tradition and canon law, not in Catholic dogma, is still a part of the Pope's requirements for priesthood. I understand the general religious theory that celibacy allows priests time and energy to focus completely on their flock and to emulate Jesus more faithfully. However, where did that idea originate and how much of the tradition is rooted in dated and archaic understandings?

Christian Celibacy

As expected, I found the roots of celibacy requirements in Jesus Christ: According to the Bible, Jesus was an unmarried virgin. In the Bible, Jesus is often likened to a bridegroom whose bride is the Church. From a spiritual perspective, priests are called to act as another Christ, which includes his celibate lifestyle. Many of the early martyrs and church fathers emulated his life of chastity.

One such passage from the Bible (of which there are many) shows support for celibacy … and also for marriage:

1 Corinthians 7:32-40 ESV

I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord. If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry—it is no sin. ...”

St. Paul Center for Catholic scripture study also reveals “the Catholic priest is celibate in order to be freed for fatherhood.” Priests renounce natural fatherhood in order to more perfectly image the supernatural fatherhood of God. Fr. Carter Griffin, rector of Saint John Paul II Seminary in Washington, DC. and author of Why Celibacy?: Reclaiming the Fatherhood of the Priest says …

While God’s fatherhood looks different than the natural fatherhood we’re familiar with, his role as Father is mysteriously more true and complete than fathers who generate natural life. Every other image of fatherhood is a faint echo of the supernatural fatherhood of God.”

This belief admits priests still fall short of God's example, but it supports celibate priests who more closely mirror this complete role of “father.” Like God the Father, they give of themselves entirely for the sake of a supernatural fatherhood.

Celibacy, lived well, can offer a great deal of support to a priest who wishes to exercise generous, self-giving love. A celibate heart is open to all, without preference.

-- Fr. Carter Griffin, Why Celibacy?

Yet, Judaism has always valued family life, and many ritual observances were centered on the family. Also, the first head of the Catholic Church (effectively the first pope), Peter, was married, as were many of the other apostles during Jesus' time. But in the New Testament, marriage was seen as a holy option for those who would otherwise have trouble controlling their sexual urges.

Kim Haines-Eitzen, professor of Early Christianity at Cornell University, explains Greco-Roman origins of Christianity …

From Greco-Roman philosophies, Christian writers adopted ideals of self-control (“enkrateia” in Greek) and withdrawal (“anachoresis” a term that came to be applied to Christian hermits). Discipline and self-control meant control over one’s emotions, thoughts and behaviors as well as, in some cases, careful attention to what one ate and drank, how attached one was to possessions and the control of one’s sexual desire.”

(Kim Haines-Eitzen. “How did celibacy become mandatory for priests?” The Conversation. March 26, 2017.)

Mark Shea, the author of Making Senses Out of Scripture: Reading the Bible as the First Christians Did, explains …

"What you find right at the beginning of the church is that, on the one hand, marriage is seen as a good and virginity is seen as a higher good. But by the Middle Ages, many priests treated their calling as a 'family business,' giving preference to their sons for plum positions and trying to edge out the competition to protect their legacy. Because of this practice, the Church formally banned the practice of priests marrying about 1,000 years ago.”

Although Christian “clergy,” such as bishops and deacons, begin to appear around the year A.D. 100 in early Christian communities, priests emerge as Christian leaders only much later. Priests came to be the ordained clergy tasked with officiating rituals like the Eucharist or Lord’s Supper, also known as Communion.

Haines-Eitzen further explains the priestly development …

Over time, priestly celibacy became a serious point of disagreement between the Eastern Orthodox and the Western Roman Catholic churches and contributed to the Great Schism between the two in A.D. 1054. Pope Gregory VII attempted to mandate priestly celibacy, but the practice was contested widely by Christians in the Orthodox Eastern Mediterranean world.

Five centuries later, the issue was once again at the forefront of debate when it became a significant factor in the Protestant split from Catholicism during the Reformation.”

(Kim Haines-Eitzen. “How did celibacy become mandatory for priests?” The Conversation. March 26, 2017.)

There have always been exceptions to the celibate rule within Roman Catholicism as, for example, among married priests from other denominations of Christianity who convert to Catholicism. There are still a few married Catholic priests: Episcopal and Lutheran priests who were married and then converted to Roman Catholicism can be ordained, and men in the Eastern Rites, such as the Ukrainian Church, can marry before becoming ordained.

Reasons For Change

With a shortage of priests looming, many favor eliminating the celibacy requirement as a possible solution. Statistics from the Washington, DC: Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate report from1980 to 2012, the ratio of Catholics per priest increased globally, with the number of Catholics per priest going from 1,895 to 3,126." In 2014, 49,153 parishes in the world had no resident priest pastor. And, between 1970 and 2017, the number of priests declined from 419,728 to 414,582.

Other reasons for eliminating the rule exist. For example, in a 2012 study in the Journal of Prevention & Intervention in the Community, researchers found that a sizeable minority of priests had sexual relationships, some with men and some with women, during their tenure, and 30 percent admitted to masturbation. Why tolerate or simply ignore the obvious conflicts at hand? Some favor legitimacy over indifference.

Others feel it is difficult for celibate priests to offer wise and mature counsel on issues of sexual relationships to their parishioners. In other words, celibate priests can be sexually immature. A.W. Richard Sipe, a sociologist and former Benedictine monk who has been married for 43 years, says …

"The Catholic priesthood, in a sense, fosters a psychosexual immaturity by imposing celibacy.”

Other research has suggested that more men would be interested in priesthood if celibacy became optional. They argue celibacy is so difficult for many men that it dissuades people from the priesthood.


I will give only Pope Francis's views on his recent decision. The reader can draw his or her own conclusions. The Pope stopped short of allowing the ordination of married men as priests in the Amazon, where there are severe shortages of clergy, calling instead for ordained ministers to come to the region and work alongside lay preachers.

Francis announced the decision in a lengthy document, titled "Beloved Amazon," You can read it in its entirety by clicking here:

Francis has long said he appreciates the discipline and the gift of celibacy, and he didn't feel he could make such a sweeping change. However, he has also expressed sympathy for the plight of the Amazonian faithful, and said theologians had debated pastoral reasons to consider an exception, which is possible given that the celibate priesthood is a tradition of the Roman Catholic Church rather than a matter of doctrine.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Scioto County Young Republicans -- "What Makes Them Different"

Caption from Scioto County Young Republicans Facebook group, 
February 6 – “Acquitted for life.”

This repost from county Young Republicans was a photo from the National Prayer Breakfast of February 6, 2020, during which President Trump said …

"I don't like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong. Nor do I like people who say, 'I pray for you' when they know that that's not so. So many people have been hurt, and we can't let that go on.”

With these words, Trump used a bipartisan religious event to judge the beliefs of others, to encourage hatred, and to vow revenge – all under the watchful approval of the Fellowship Foundation, a religious and political organization whose mission statement reads, in part, “To develop and maintain an informal association of people banded together, to go out as 'ambassadors of reconciliation,' modeling the principles of Jesus, based on loving God and loving others.”

But, on to the understandings of those young political activists …

The Scioto County Young Republicans met for the first time in January at the Holiday Inn in Portsmouth. The club’s leadership presented about the club’s purpose, procedures, and future activities. In addition to the club’s introduction, Scioto County Commissioner Bryan Davis gave remarks. Attendees included members, officeholders, candidates, and friends of the club.

The event was a great success. We look forward to growing the number of young people involved in the conservative movement. We will secure a strong victory for President Trump and all of the Republican candidates on the ballot in Scioto County this November. The Democratic Party’s socialist message doesn’t resonate here in Scioto County.”
-- Chairman Collin Finn

Of course, this group of National Teen Age Republicans states that it supports Trump for president along with ALL of the Republican candidates on the ballot in Scioto County. It is a partisan organization as many such American political groups are. The group encourages governmental participation – a positive motivation for youth.

However …

It is interesting to view the content of their beliefs as they pose the alienating question “What makes us different from Democrats or other parties?”

The answer, as stated in their organizational literature, is …

We believe:
  • Individual ability, dignity, freedom & responsibility are basic to good government.
  • Free enterprise and encouraging individual initiative and incentive produce a strong economy.
  • Equal rights, justice and opportunity belong to all.
  • The preservation of our nation and security of our citizens depend on every citizen’s respect for the Constitution, the law and the courts.
  • Government exists to protect the freedom of the individual, not restrict it.
  • Government should only get involved in the things which people can’t do well themselves.
  • Both government and society should assist people who can’t provide for themselves.  It should help them become self-supporting, productive citizens who pride independence.
  • No man has the right to live off the fruits of another man’s labor.
  • Government must maintain sound money and a responsible economy. The rights of life and liberty are meaningless if citizens are deprived through excessive taxation, inflation and government waste.
  • World peace and friendship will continue through strength.

The difference from Democrats or other parties” – as an ex high school teacher, that delineation offends me. The distinction draws lines that demarcate ethical behaviors.

The tenets hold that ANY opposition to their Republican ideals lacks such basic qualities and values as dignity, ability, and responsibility. Their beliefs imply that other parties do not defend equal rights, justice and opportunity FOR ALL. The Scioto County Young Republicans also see themselves as the SOLE protectors of the Constitution and the freedom of individuals.

The group proposes an ambiguous, narrowly defined view of government as a system that should “only get involved in things people can't do well THEMSELVES.” That statement actually reeks of racism and misogyny in a culture ripe with both. And, among other “differences” professed by the group, they imply other parties cannot uphold a responsible economy or a strong foreign policy.

The Republicans shamelessly align with Donald Trump's divisive rule. In their support of a nationalist government, they choose NOT TO RESPECT the dedication and work of opposing parties but rather to claim that they are the ONLY PARTY to grant the populace sacred American ideals and responsible government. To deepen the divide, they imply that not following their views contributes to laziness and dependency.

Now, you can dismiss this diatribe as political propaganda. You can call it “puffing up the party,” and you can believe it is just part of the hoopla common to all partisan groups. Or, you can read it carefully and realize its true denotation.

This Republican Party and its newly formed Scioto County Young Republicans do not have to apply false, schismatic precepts to run a 2020 political campaign. Instead, they could state their platform without denigrating their opposition. But, in fear of losing favor, Republicans have chosen to ignore the cancer in their own party and to endorse the autocratic principles of a discredited leader.

We all know the reasons for the Republican fall into partisanship over principle. The party has chosen to follow a man, although lacking the necessary abilities and the integrity to be president, dedicated to obtaining power and wealth that benefits a white nationalist agenda. Donald Trump was elected on that platform, and now Republicans gladly accept that electability without question of his morals or his limitations.

The Republican Party uses their platform on divisive issues to disparage other perspectives – Second Amendment gun rights, opposition to abortion, the economy that benefits the rich and guts social programs. Make no mistake, to disagree with them about a gun, a fetus, or a food stamp is to be labeled a “snowflake” or a “libtard.” They employ name calling and denigration while making a mockery of political correctness.

The political indoctrination of youth is a perilous, risky business – an endeavor that can lead to a lifetime commitment of partisanship over substance and individual thinking. To inculcate beliefs that “it's my way or the highway” or that “it's my country, love it or leave it” or that “this is what makes us different from Democrats or other parties” actually increases prejudice and does not safeguard the principles of equality and justice.

I would question the wisdom of a party or a group that stands idly by when its supreme leader employs a religious assembly of those believing in “a loving God” and “loving others” to encourage hate and revenge. Principles? Beliefs? American youth deserve the truth over slanted usury. They also deserve political parties that foster bipartisanship over egotistical division.

Monday, February 10, 2020

One Person's "Red" Is Another Person's Racial Insult

The adaptability of racial categories to fit particular political and social alignments illuminates critical features of the idea of race in general. People do not believe in race abstractly but instead manipulate racial categories to suit contextualized objectives.

Yet scholars seeking to understand race as a cultural construction should take care not to dismiss physical differences between people as pure figments of the imagination … There are physical differences; our collective imaginations organize these differences to make meaning of them and are constantly at work altering those meanings.”

Nancy Shoemaker, Assistant professor of history at the University of Wisconsin, “How Indians Got to Be Red”

Red man” is a contemptuous term used to refer to a North American Indian. Akin to the term “redskin,” red man underwent pejoration through the 19th to early 20th centuries and in contemporary dictionaries of American English it is labeled "usually offensive,” "disparaging,” “insulting,” or "taboo.”

Although the origin of the choice of "red" to describe Native Americans in English is debated, it has become historically stereotypical of Native Americans. While related terms were used in anthropological literature as early as the 17th century, labels based on skin-color entered everyday speech around the middle of the 18th century. The “red” designation remains today.

"At the start of the eighteenth century, Indians and Europeans rarely mentioned the color of each other’s skins. By mid-century, remarks about skin color and the categorization of peoples by simple color-coded labels (red, white, black) had become commonplace."

(Nancy Shoemaker. A Strange Likeness: Becoming Red and White in Eighteenth-Century North America. Oxford University Press. 2006.)

Although it may be true that “redskin” was frequently used by Native Americans themselves (as a distinguishing label) when they negotiated with the French and later the Americans, the word "redskin" began to take on a negative, increasingly violent connotation.

Author L. Frank Baum, best known for his classic The Wizard of Oz, celebrated the death of Sitting Bull and the massacre at Wounded Knee with a pair of editorials calling for the extermination of all remaining Native Americans. In one of the December 1890 pieces, Baum wrote …

"With his fall the nobility of the Redskin is extinguished, and what few are left are a pack of whining curs who lick the hand that smites them."

Killingly High

The latest high profile national uproar about using derogatory terms in offensive mascot names is occurring at Killingly High School in Killingly, Connecticut.

Sports teams at Killingly High have called themselves the Redmen and the Redgals for over 80 years. In recent years (2014, 2013), the opposition of the mascot name started to make some headway and get some press. At that time, the students of Killingly ran a poll and 59% of the students and 42% of teachers and staff wanted to keep the name.

The controversy remained. In 2019, a few brave, passionate students brought the issue to the Board of Education which set the process of a mascot change in motion.

After a contentious town hall meeting, the Board passed a resolution to change the mascot if local tribes requested to have it changed. (By the way, they already had done that and they did so once again.) So, the mascot was finally changed. A poll was held shortly after to decide the next mascot and 80% of the students chose Red Hawks. The school's mascot was officially the Red Hawks, at least for one season of sports.

In November of 2019, Republicans (including Jason Muscara, former VP of the CT American Guard, who announced his candidacy at that mascot name town hall meeting) won a super-majority on the Town Council and the Board of Education, running essentially a one-issue campaign – the mascot. They planned to change the high school's mascot back.

That fall, during his campaign for a seat on the school board, Muscara had faced his own controversy when reports emerged that he had served as vice president of the Connecticut chapter of the American Guard, an organization deemed a “general hate” group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Muscara said he had joined believing it was a “patriotic organization,” but left when he grew “uncomfortable” with some of its members. In the lead-up to the municipal election in November, Muscara told the Hartford Courant that the renaming of the Redmen was a result of the “radical left agenda” of town Democrats.

(Eliza Fawcett. “Killingly Board of Education votes to restore Redmen mascot previously rejected as racist symbol.” Hartford Courant. January 9, 2020.)

In December the Republicans on the Board stayed true to their campaign promise and held another town hall meeting. They invited Mark Onewolf of NAGA to speak in favor of reverting back to the Redmen mascot.

NAGA is an acronym for Native American Redskins Fans. Public records confirmed Mark Onewolf was born Mark E. Yancey in Washington D.C. He calls himself “Mark Suzuki” on online résumés. He’s passed himself off as “Mark Yan” and used that handle in comment sections wherever the name was being debated. He had a MySpace page using the name “Kram Yecnay.” Yancey/OneWolf says his family identifies as Chiricahua Apache, though that tribe is not recognized by the government. This “wolf” was a highly suspect Native representative. No matter to the Republicans.

(Ben Mathis-Lilley. “Prominent Native Supporter of Washington NFL Team Has Questionable Credentials.” Slate. October 9, 2014.)

The newly elected school board voted to ditch the Red Hawks name at a December 2019 meeting that devolved into screaming matches as residents took turns accusing each other of being communists or racists. (Not altogether foreign to board meetings across the country.)

After hearing from teachers, staff, community members and Mark Onewolf, the Board then voted to nix the Redhawks mascot. But the vote to reinstate Redmen remained a stalemate. The school officially had no mascot/name for the state championship football game.

The controversy became a distraction for the football players as plenty of parents and alumni made their feelings clear at the final championship game against Weston High School, the Hartford Courant reported. Some wore sweatshirts with slogans like “Born a Redmen, Raised a Redmen, Will Die a Redmen.” Others blamed the dispute on “snowflakes” and described “Redmen” as a “term of endearment” and “spiritual thing.”

The team lost the championship game. And afterwards, Killingly High School Athletic Director Kevin Marcoux said: “Everywhere we go, we are the laughingstock of the state.”

Then, in January, 2020, over objections from the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Nipmuc Tribal Nation along with protests from many students, teachers, and community members who expressed concerns that “Redman” was disrespectful and would make Killingly look like an intolerant, bigoted backwater, the Board of Education voted 5-4 to reinstate the “Redmen” as the high school’s mascot.

Republican members who voted in favor of reinstating the “Redmen” title told CNN that they wanted to represent the majority opinion for the town. “The people were ignored,” said newly elected school board member Jason Muscara, referencing the school’s earlier name change to Redhawks. Muscara said that images of the Redmen mascot – a man in profile, wearing a feathered headdress – are (proudly) portrayed on the sports teams’ jerseys and throughout the school.

Said fellow Republican board member Norm Ferron: “I never believed the false narrative about it being any kind of racist symbol, because no one names their school after what they detest. We don’t feel that this name is in any way offensive to any group.”

(Antonia Noori Farzan. “Getting rid of ‘Redmen’ sparked an uproar. So school officials voted to reinstate the ‘demeaning’ team name.”
The Washington Post. January 10, 2020.)

The Mashantucket Pequot tribal leadership released (another) statement:

"Although we appreciate the Board of Education's decision to establish a subcommittee to develop a Native American centered curriculum, we're disappointed in their vote to reinstate the offensive Redmen mascot. We support the sentiments shared by members of our Youth Council at yesterday's hearing, and believe the mascot doesn't honor or represent Native people and has no place in our school system. We urge the Board to rethink their decision."

On January 27. 2020, several days after the board vote, the Killingly High School National Honor Society released a statement that sadly read

As leaders within our school, we refuse to stand by the 'Redmen' mascot. We know it only serves to further divide our community, and reinforce the stereotypes that the world works every day to eliminate. We stand by our belief and character, that every individual deserves respect, acknowledgement and understanding.”

While partially based on physical similarities within groups, race does not have an inherent physical or biological meaning. However, until the concept of race is abandoned entirely, people use these terms of identity to demean and to dehumanize others. The association of race with the ideologies and theories of scientific racism has led to the use of the word “race” itself becoming problematic.

Redmen” and “Redskin” are racial terms that suggest a subspecies and a genetically differentiated population. They are words of division, not terms associated with inclusion as some would have the public believe. Teams who use these names as mascots oversimplify cultures while choosing to “play Indian.” They have little or no understanding of the deeper meaning of Native American ideology such as the use of feathers, face paint, chants, and dancing.

Richard Lapchick, director emeritus of Northeastern University's Center for the Study of Sport in Society, wrote:

"Could you imagine people mocking African Americans in black face at a game? Yet go to a game where there is a team with an Indian name and you will see fans with war paint on their faces. Is this not the equivalent to black face?"

Whether supporters of Redman mascots are willfully malicious or dangerously naïve, the use of a racial stereotype is insulting and demeaning. Yes, there is reason to condemn the “political incorrectness” of the actions of Republican board members of Killingly High. The rights of minorities must be upheld, no matter the so-called “tradition” of employing a symbol now recognized as detrimental.

There are only eight states where Natives make up greater than 2 percent of the population: Alaska, Arizona, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wyoming. Political majorities must never dictate the minority conscious and equality in any state. Linguists, sociologists, community members, school board members, and students alike should be informed and sensitive to needed change.

In a public school, teachers must not avoid controversial subjects and pigeonhole opposition as “against tradition” and as once-revered “past standards.” Instead, teachers and parents should deliberately keep those at-issue subjects at the center of classroom instruction and engage their students productively.

In America, the problem at hand is that many educators and parents do not recognize the extent of current problems, and many lack the knowledge of race, class, and bipartisan politics to address them properly. Sensitive understandings and positive change come grudgingly, if at all. Race, whether viewed as abstraction or actuality, remains an unsolved factor in the American equation of equality. Much of this imbalance is due to conservative insensitivity – a prime example is alive and well in Killingly, Connecticut.

Alan Duda, KHS Class of '07 summed up the political controversy like this:

The people speaking out and calling for a name change aren't 'fragile snowflakes'; they're brave. They are Native Americans standing up and refusing to be a mascot. Or they are outnumbered allies who are willing to step out of their bubbles, question their privileges, put themselves in someone else's shoes and fight for them. It's so sad to read through the endless comments from the real fragile snowflakes – the ones who are begging their high school to keep its mascot name. It's you who are clamoring for a safe space, one where no one is allowed in to confront your worldview. Full grown adults! Y'all are being weird.”

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Native Heirloom Crops -- Indigenous Seeds of American Humanity

Cherokee White Eagle Corn

For more than a decade, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault – also known as the 'doomsday' vault – has collected and maintained the world's largest collection of diverse crops. This week, the Cherokee Nation became the first tribe in the United States to be invited to deposit samples in the vault.”

-- Sophie Lewis, CBS News

A Cherokee Nation press release confirmed that nine samples of heirloom crops are being sent to a long-term seed storage facility located deep inside a mountain on a remote island halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole. The seeds will be deposited on February 25 with the 2020 collection.

The vault, built in 2008 to withstand man-made and natural disasters, is part of an international effort to ensure the preservation of a wide variety of plant seeds. It has the capacity to store 4.5 million varieties of crops and currently holds nearly 1 million samples from nearly every country in the world.

In recent decades, Native Americans across the United States have rallied to bring back the traditional crops that fed their ancestors, and the seeds they need to grow them. While many traditional seeds have been lost, many of those that are still cultivated face environmental and human threats, including poor storage facilities.

This movement represents important indigenous history when seed savers were charged with protecting the plants that provided food and medicine to their tribes. The seeds symbolize a future that could reconnect Native Americans to their culture and renew interest in healthy foods that might help offset high rates of obesity and diabetes.

(Sophie Lewis, "This is history in the making: Cherokee Nation becomes first U.S. tribe to preserve culturally important seeds in Arctic 'doomsday' vault.” CBS News. February 8, 2020.)

Such so-called “heirloom plants” are old cultivars of plants used for food that are grown and maintained by gardeners and farmers, particularly in isolated or ethnic minority communities of the Western world.

To Native Americans, seed protection isn't just about maintaining diverse genetics and food sustainability, said Lea Zeise, Eastern Region representative for the Intertribal Agriculture Council and a farmer who runs a corn growing cooperative on her reservation. "We need to know about protecting our seeds and foods... to protect the sacredness of our culture," she added.

The tribe’s heirlooms were selected over the centuries for improved storage characteristics. Corn and beans were picked after they dried on stalk and vine and were ground into flours or cooked in soups. And that squash lasts practically forever. The takeaway is to realize how brilliant the agricultural science of the Cherokees was.”

Pat Gwin, administrative liaison in Cherokee tribal government.

Native Americans attached religious significance to their cultivated crops. As evidence, there are a great number of sacred ceremonies during the growing season – ceremonies to honor, among others, maple trees, strawberries, bean planting, corn planting and the time of green corn.

Staff of Life

It is commonly believed that approximately 12,000–15,000 years ago people from northeast Asia crossed the Bering Land Bridge to enter and inhabit North America beginning in Alaska but rapidly spreading throughout North and South American and the Caribbean islands. These people rapidly adapted to the available food sources and soon developed new foods.

The "Three Sisters"

By the time Christopher Columbus first entered the New World, Native Americans were relying on foods that were indigenous to the region, although many had been improved by hybridization or selection. When Europeans arrived, the Native Americans had already developed new varieties of corn, beans, and squashes – known as “the three sisters” – and had an abundant supply of nutritious food.

Historical NoteThe Mayan believe that corn is primordial and a part of their creation stories. They tell how the gods successfully created humans out of corn in the “Popul Vuh,” a written version of their timeless oral narratives – one reason corn is deeply revered.

Long before European settlement, there were numerous regional tribes with distinct diets, customs, and languages throughout the Americas, but many of the foods spread among the regions due to well-organized trade routes that were facilitated in part by a common hand sign language used by many tribes. The squash was of North American origin. Corn and beans probably originated in South America, but their use spread throughout North and South America.

(S. Wurtzburg and L. Campbell. “North American Indian sign language: evidence for its existence before European contact.” Int J Am Linguist, 61. 1995.)

Historical NoteSome historians call early foods “four sisters” as opposed to “three.” These were corn, beans, squash and the sunflower. These crops actually work together. The beans fertilize the corn as they climb the stalks. Sunflowers hold them up against the wind. Squash keep the raccoons at bay. There are also tomatoes, okra, gourds, sage and sweet grass.

Estimates claim about 60% of the current world food supply originated in North America. Those foods became important to the entire world, as Samuel Beck, author of Cherokee Cooklore said:

The American Indian's greatest contribution to our civilization is, in the eyes of many experts, the patient cultivation from their original wild state of the food plants which are now more than half of our agricultural wealth.”

The Seed Care and Storage

Care is needed to prevent these special plants from cross-pollinating with others. Their seeds, passed like treasure through generations of native tribes, are pure heirloom strains, unaltered by modern agricultural techniques.

Several communities have created Native seed exchanges, seed banks, and sanctuaries, but their scale is local and relatively small. Moreover, federal law, which protects tribal lands, human tissue, and cultural artifacts, is unclear when it comes to protecting Native traditional seeds – while it does shield hybrid and genetically engineered seeds.

Vaults such as Doomsday could provide food for humans in case of a catastrophic disaster and serve to protect crops that are becoming endangered due to climate change. Every variety sent to the Doomsday vault predates European settlement in the U.S., officials said.

The Cherokee Nation samples include Cherokee White Eagle Corn – the tribe's most sacred corn – Cherokee Long Greasy Beans, Cherokee Trail of Tears Beans, Cherokee Turkey Gizzard black and brown beans, Cherokee Candy Roaster Squash, and three other varieties of corn.

Historical Note – Cherokee White Eagle Corn is known as “the treasure of the Cherokee Nation. It is a beautiful mixed blue and white dent corn “with nuanced flavors of ancient blue corn and a base level of sweetness.” Th corn is favored for its abundant ears that grow 8-10 in. long and excellent quality kernels for corn meal. Blue and white coloring with markings that resemble eagles. Excellent germination. (110 days)

Some of the Cherokee White Eagle Corn seed that was originally carried on the Trail of Tears has survived and produced a small amount of crops for the last 163 years.The USDA-NRCS Jimmy Carter Plant Materials Center is developing the Trail of Tears Corn seed stock. This is an attempt to help reintroduce this very rare and special crop to the descendants of the Cherokee People that once covered the North Georgia Mountains. The corn is being grown in a protected and irrigated area in order to produce viable seed stock for future use. This will provide tribal members and others the opportunity to feed their families with this very special corn.

Seed saving is a priority for many tribes. The White Earth Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota grows saved seeds. Native Seeds/SEARCH, a nonprofit group in Tucson, Ariz., has a seed bank with almost 2,000 varieties. The Traditional Native American Farmers’ Association, based in New Mexico, distributes indigenous seeds in its community.

Laboratory testing of heirloom corn, bean and squash seeds has found greater concentrations of copper, calcium, magnesium and amino acids than in store-bought seeds. The most pronounced difference was in bean seeds; the indigenous seeds contained increased levels of antioxidants.

The majority of heirloom seeds are open pollinated, meaning that they reproduce themselves from seed. The plants from these seeds grow true to that variety. When they are grown, they will be the same as the parent plant. A very old heirloom is the 1500 Year Old Cave Bean found in a sealed clay pot in a cave in New Mexico. Thought to be left by the Anasazi Indians, this bean seed still germinated after all that time.

Time Travel – A Look at Subsistence

This view of prehistoric agriculture describes how people on the Great Plains of the United State and southern Canada farmed before extensive contact with European explorers, which in most areas occurred by 1750.

Prehistoric native farmers on the Great Plains, who lacked iron tools and draft animals, primarily cleared and cultivated wooded land along rivers, especially the lighter soils on elevated river terraces which periodically flooded, renewing their fertility. They avoided cultivating the heavy soils of the open prairie with their deep mats of fibrous roots.

(Michael Scullin. "Indian Gardening and Cooking.”
Minnesota State University. 2008.)

High productivity of maize compared to European grains such as wheat enabled Indian farmers to produce large crops with a relatively low expenditure of effort, simple tools, and a small amount of cultivated land although farming on the drought-prone Great Plains was always a risky endeavor. Whereas wheat and other grains in medieval Europe had average grain yields of two to ten seeds harvested for every one planted, maize yielded as high as "one hundred grains to one."

Sissel Schroeder. "Maize Productivity in the Eastern Woodlands and Great Plains of North America" American Antiquity, Vol. 64, No. 3. July 1999.)

The average size of family plots of Native American farmers may have been about .6 acres (0.24 ha) with yields of 10-20 bushels (627 – 1,254 kg) of shelled maize per acre. This would have been sufficient, after accounting for post-harvest losses to pests and rotting and the retention of seed corn, to provide about 20 percent of the caloric needs of an Indian family of five persons. Some families may have cultivated up to 3.4 acres (1.4 ha) which would have produced sufficient maize for family consumption plus a tradeable surplus. Higher yields of up to 40 bushels (2,508 kg.) per acre have been reported on newly cleared land. Land declined in fertility in subsequent crop years.

(Sissel Schroeder. "Maize Productivity in the Eastern Woodlands and Great Plains of North America" American Antiquity, Vol. 64, No. 3. July 1999)

The Future

The Native American Seeds Protection Act of 2019 would direct the Government Accountability Office to study the long-term viability of Native seeds and the programs and laws that could safeguard them. The study would assess the cultivation, harvesting, storage, and commercialization of these ancient seeds, as well as investigate the fraudulent marketing of seeds as "traditional" or "produced by Native Americans."

The six senators who introduced the bipartisan, bicameral bill all hope the effort will "support healthcare, food security, and economic development in tribal communities."

The Concept

The history of humanity is the history of domestication.”

-- Logan Kistler, Curator of Archaeobotany and Archaeogenomics at the Smithsonian

Understanding the development of agriculture is better understanding humanity. There’s already speculation that advances in genetic engineering could allow scientists to engineer favorable characteristics from ancient plant DNA into modern cultivars.


Paul Patton, Professor of Anthropology and Food Studies at Ohio University, shares a local tie to the history of ancient food in Ohio. He’s been growing wild goosefoot in test plots in Southeastern Ohio, with the eventual goal of providing the indigenous quinoa alternative as an economic boost to a region devastated by the environmental effects of boom-and-bust industries such as mining. Goosefoot is healthier than wheat, corn, and other staples, says Patton. Its tangy greens taste like a cross between spinach and arugula.

Yet goosefoot is more than a tasty vegetable: it’s Native American heritage. Paul Patton says ...

Each one of these seeds is a cultural history that really captures the lives of the people who were growing them and who passed them from generation to generation.”

Many questions remain concerning the recent studies. Who should have the right to extract genetic material from archeological seeds that are the heritage of tribes across Eastern North America – especially since the very act of extracting DNA from ancient seeds destroys them? If ancient crops are redomesticated and even commercialized, who should profit?

Some safeguards are already in place. Under the 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, scientists have a legal and moral commitment not to take any material, including seeds, from burial or other sacred sites. Most ancient North American seeds that archaeologists have recovered are currently held in public museum collections, which have stringent guidelines about DNA testing.

When they go and take the dignity of that food from you and turn it into something else, it is offensive, it hurts our people. It hurts us economically and it hurts us spiritually.

Winona LaDuke, Anishinaabe activist, environmentalist, economist, and writer

Consider the history of plants to better understand the dilemma. In the last century, 94 percent of the world’s seed varieties have disappeared. The last study to count U.S. seed diversity was in 1983. There were 544 cabbage varieties; 28 varieties remained. There were 158 varieties of cauliflower; nine remained. There were 55 varieties of kohlrabi, three remained; 34 varieties of artichoke, two remained; 288 varieties of beets, 17 remained; 46 varieties of asparagus, one variety remained.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Your County Gun Sanctuary and a Woman's Reality

“Every country is home to domestic abusers.
Only America gives them easy access to
an arsenal and ammunition.”

Shannon Watts, founder gun control advocacy group “Moms Demand Action”

Scioto County commissioners recently passed a resolution that declared the opposition of the county “to any restrictions on the Second Amendment” and stated the Board of Commissioners in Scioto County “wished to resolve to protect the right to bear arms in Scioto County, Ohio, even if state and federal laws are passed restricting ownership or possession.”

The county commissioners did this in spite of statistics that show in 2017 gun deaths reached their highest level since 1968 with 39,773 deaths by firearm, of which 23,854 were by suicide and 14,542 were homicides. To refuse to engage in meaningful dialogue to stop the epidemic of gun violence by exalting the weapon responsible is disturbing.

What innocent segment of the population is most vulnerable to gun violence? Without a doubt, women have the unfortunate distinction of suffering the most immediate risks.

Although the gun lobby and its advocates like Wayne LaPierre, executive vice-president of the National Rifle Association, have argued that firearms are a great equalizer between the sexes, the reality is that a gun in the home is a strong risk factor for both homicide and suicide, and females are uniquely impacted by the availability of a firearm.

No doubt, firearm access helps to fuel domestic violence. Every year, millions of Americans report domestic violence. And, of course, it disproportionately affects women. Such fights become much more frequent and lethal when firearms are involved, and the violence is nearly unidirectional, inflicted by males upon females. An abuser’s access to a firearm (most likely a male privilege) is a serious threat to victims, making it five times more likely that a woman will be killed.

(J.C. Campbell, et al., “Risk Factors for Femicide in Abusive Relationships: Results from a Multisite Case Control Study,” American Journal of
Public Health 93, no.7 2003.)

People say a gun is “just another weapon.” However, domestic violence assaults involving a gun are 12 times more likely to result in death than those involving other weapons or bodily force. And, American women are 11 times more likely to be murdered with a firearm than women in any other developed nations. In fact, over the ten-year period between 2008 and 2017, there was a reduction in intimate partner homicides of women in the U.S. involving weapons – except homicides by guns, which increased by 15 percent.

(E.E. Fridel and J.A. Fox. “Gender differences in patterns and trends in the US homicide, 1976-2017.” Violence and Gender. 2019.)

(Linda E. Saltzman, et al., “Weapon Involvement and Injury Outcomes in Family and Intimate Assaults,” Journal American Medical Association 267, no. 22 1992.)

It really comes as no surprise that 80 percent of people killed by firearms annually in the U.S. by intimate partners are women. Every year, 600 American women are shot to death by their intimate partners. In fact, of all women shot to death by others in the U.S., half were shot by their intimate partners.
    (Federal Bureau of Investigation, Uniform Crime Reporting Program: Supplementary Homicide Reports (SHR), 2012-2016.)⤴︎
Yet, won't that household weapon protect a woman from outside danger? The rate of women killed with a gun by their husband or an intimate partner is more than double the rate of women killed by strangers using guns, knives, or any other method.

(A.L. Kellermann and J.A. Mercy JA. “Men, women, and murder: gender-specific differences in rates of fatal violence and victimization.” J Trauma.1992 Jul;33.)

A gun in the home is a real threat to a woman in many ways – it is often used as an instrument to inflict physical harm, and it is frequently employed as a weapon to induce serious mental abuse. Guns kill and also maim survivors of domestic violence. Nearly 1 million women alive today report being shot or shot at by an intimate partner, and 4.5 million women alive today report that an intimate partner threatened them using a gun.

(Susan B. Sorenson and Rebecca A. Schut, “Nonfatal Gun Use in Intimate Partner Violence: A Systematic Review of the Literature,”
Trauma, Violence, & Abuse 19, no. 4. 2018.)

Coercive control,” a term popularized in 2007 by the forensic social worker Evan Stark, PhD, refers to the sinister ways people nonviolently manipulate their intimate partners (physical assault often coexists with coercive control, but it doesn’t have to). A gun makes a ruthless tool of intimidation.

A husband might keep a gun on the mantel in the living room, where he and his wife watch TV. A boyfriend might polish his weapon during arguments. While asking his partner where she’s been, a guy might casually remove his coat to reveal a pistol clipped to his belt. Susan B. Sorenson, PhD, executive director of the Ortner Center on Violence and Abuse in Relationships at the University of Pennsylvania, says …

This (phenomenon of coercive control) is almost exclusively male on female. When you have a gun, you can control someone without touching them, without even speaking a word.”

Tami Sullivan, PhD, the director of Family-Violence Research at Yale, found that 33 percent of women in the Greater New Haven, Connecticut, area who were victims of abuse had also been menaced with a firearm. She also says ….

And that doesn’t count the implied stuff, like when he cleans the gun in front of them.”

An American Journal of Public Health study of clients in battered women’s shelters, found that nearly a third of the women had lived in homes with firearms, and of those, 7 in 10 had been threatened with the gun by their partners.

(Susan B. Sorenson, PhD and Douglas J. Wiebe, PhD. Weapons in the Lives of Battered Women.” Am J Public Health. 2004 August; 94(8): 1412–1417.)

It is imperative to consider the disproportionate danger faced by minority females. Blackwomen are twice as likely as white women to be fatally shot by an intimate partner. Younger Black women – between the ages of 18 and 34 – are at the greatest risk: They are nearly three times more likely to be shot and killed by an intimate partner than are white women in the same age group.
    (Federal Bureau of Investigation. Uniform Crime Reporting Program: Supplementary Homicide Reports (SHR), 2013-2017.)

    These facts should be as chilling to men as they are to women. A 2005 study examining mortality data from 1998-2000 found that when a female was shot by her intimate partner, the perpetrator subsequently killed himself in two thirds of the cases. Imagine the tremendous toll on surviving family and friends.
(S. Walsh and D. Hemenway. “Intimate partner violence: homicides followed by suicides in Kentucky.” J Ky Med Assoc. 2005 Jan;103(1):10-3.)

Gun advocates and gun marketers claim a gun is the best defense to the threat of gun violence, so they have pushed women to arm themselves. Many studies show that the NRA and its allies grossly misrepresent the actual dangers women face. It is people these women know, not strangers, who pose the greatest threat. The claim that intimate partner homicide can be prevented by arming victims with firearms is a harmful distraction. There is no research to support the idea that women’s gun ownership increases their safety.

Many still hang on to the necessity of having a weapon for home defense. According to the Pew Research Center, 48 percent of gun owners say they own a gun mainly for protection. Successful defensive gun use is, in fact, extremely rare among all people: There are fewer than 1,600 verified instances in the U.S. each year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. By comparison, annually, 118,000 people are injured, killed, or kill themselves with a gun.

According to a Harvard University analysis of figures from the National Crime Victimization Survey, people defended themselves with a gun in nearly 0.9 percent of crimes from 2007 to 2011. Compared to other protective actions, the National Crime Victimization Surveys provide little evidence that self-defense gun use is uniquely beneficial in reducing the likelihood of injury or property loss.

(David Hemenway and Sara J.Solnick. “The epidemiology of self-defense gun use: Evidence from the National Crime Victimization Surveys 2007–2011.” Preventive Medicine. Volume 79, October 2015,)

(“United States Firearm Deaths and Rates per 100,000: All Races, Both Sexes, All Ages.” National Center for Injury Prevention and Control,)

What is the reality of guns and their widespread availability on women?

Women in the United States account for 84 percent of all female firearm victims in the developed world, even though they make up only a third of the developed world’s female population. Within American borders, women die at higher rates from suicide, homicide, and accidental firearm deaths in states where guns are more widely available. This is true even after controlling for factors such as urbanization, alcohol use, education, poverty, and divorce rates.

(Evan Defilippis. “Having a Gun in the House Doesn't Make a Woman Safer.”
The Atlantic. February 23, 2014.)

To the Commissioners of Scioto County in answer to the declaration of becoming a Second Amendment sanctuary:

I believe Scioto County should rescind the resolution declaring our county a “Second Amendment Sanctuary.” If the political declaration has any meaning, it supports a stand against any and all changes in gun legislation. I feel the denotation and the resulting connotation of the resolution hampers well-documented reform to aid in ending gun violence in America while, at the same time, feeding false theories that law-abiding people will have their guns confiscated by much-needed legislation.

In order to protect the population of Scioto County, particularly to insure the safety of females, Congress and state legislatures should pass comprehensive gun safety laws to disarm abusive partners and save lives.

Forty-one states states don’t require those prohibited from purchasing a firearm due to domestic violence charges to relinquish the firearms they already own.

Ohio has no law to address the following:

Prohibiting individuals convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors from purchasing or possessing firearms or ammunition, although federal law applies;

Prohibiting individuals subject to domestic violence protective orders from possessing firearms or ammunition, although federal law applies; or

Requiring the removal or surrender of firearms at the time a domestic violence protective order is issued.

(“Domestic Violence & Firearms in Ohio.” Giffords Law Center.
November 6, 2019.)

Ohio is not among the thirty states and the District of Columbia that prohibit purchase or possession of firearms or ammunition by at least some people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence offenses.

The strongest laws prohibit the purchase or possession of firearms by individuals convicted of violent misdemeanors generally, regardless of the victim’s relationship to the offender. Ohio does not authorize or require relinquishment of firearms after domestic violence criminal convictions.

Ohio has not closed the so-called “Boyfriend Loophole.” Abusers often victimize their dating partners. In what’s known as the “Boyfriend Loophole.” Federal law does not prohibit people from purchasing or possessing guns if in a dating relationship and subject to a protective order. Under federal law, the abuser must have cohabitated as a spouse or have a child in common with the victim in order to be prevented from accessing firearms.

This gap in the law allows abusers, who are at an increased risk of committing an act of deadly violence against their partners, to purchase and keep guns in the home. Abusive people in dating relationship pose just as much of a threat to their partners as abusers in marital relationships.

More than half of all intimate partner homicides are committed by dating partners. Research shows that when states broaden their firearm prohibition laws beyond federal law to cover abusive dating partners, the states experience a 16% reduction in intimate partner gun homicides.

Ohio does not prohibit subjects of domestic violence orders issued after notice and a hearing from purchasing or possessing firearms: States in this list may require a finding that the respondent poses a credible or imminent threat to the petitioner for the firearm prohibition to apply.

Ohio is not among 9 states that prohibit the purchase and possession of firearms by people convicted of a misdemeanor crime of stalking. One study of female murder victims in 10 cities found that 76% of women murdered and 85% who survived a murder attempt by a current or former intimate partner experienced stalking in the year preceding the murder. Given that stalking is a strong predictor of future violence, closing the so-called “stalking gap” could help protect women from intimate partner homicides.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s control plan is currently being considered. The proposal in this bill is being called an “enhanced safety protection order.” It’s built on the existing “pink slip” law, which allows for people assessed by mental health experts in a psychiatric facility. This would add substance abuse as a reason for allows a person to be pink slipped, along with mental illness. It would also require anyone who is deemed to be a danger to themselves or others to surrender their weapons.

In my opinion, declaring opposition to any and all restrictions on the Second Amendment – Second Amendment Sanctuary declaration – is more than misguided: it is illogical and unresponsive to the common good. I clearly hear the objections – people defending their “God-given right” and their “infrangible Second Amendment.” However, they stand on shaky ground when confronted with the facts.

The facts are clear. Women face a credible and ever-present threat when a gun – a deadly weapon often issued and maintained without proper and sensible legal supervision – is present in their homes. How many adults – men and women alike – would say, “That's true, but domestic violence would never occur in our home”?

Yet …

Statistics show 1 in 4 women (and 1 in 9 men) experience severe intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner contact sexual violence, and/or intimate partner stalking with impacts such as injury, fearfulness, post-traumatic stress disorder, use of victim services, contraction of sexually transmitted diseases.

In addition, 1 in 3 women (and 1 in 4 men) have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. This includes a range of behaviors (e.g. slapping, shoving, pushing) and in some cases might not be considered "domestic violence."

(Thomas R. Frieden, MD. “The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2010 Summary Report. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2010.)

(Jennifer L. Truman, Ph.D., and Rachel E. Morgan, Ph.D. “BJS Statisticians Nonfatal Domestic Violence.” 2003–2012.)

I think you can see not only that domestic violence is one of the most frequent violent crimes in America but also that the presence of a loaded gun in an abusive American home puts a woman at a higher risk of experiencing injury and death during any and all confrontations – including likely parallel confrontations (1) in a home that houses those with substance abuse issues, (2) in a home that houses those with mental health issues, or (3) in a home that houses criminals who profit from any kind of dangerous illegal activity. In my view, that puts much of the county at risk.