The Shout

I found this over at Jennifer Granick’s weblog.

The gist of it is that volunteers at katrinalist, a site that is attempting to gather information on lost Hurricane Katrina victims in one place, have received cease & desist letters from the owners of the “GCN Survivor/Connector Database.”

This is appalling. The C&D tries to spin the situation, as if katrinalist is harming the hurricane victims by allowing wider dissemination of their information. Then, they stop and say “we will enforce our copyright.”

I know you are. But, what am I?

Last October, George Essef took out a full page ad in the Washington Post detailing exactly what he is. What he is, he tells us, is a Republican. He spent $104, 655.60 to do so. While I don’t have $100,000, I do have a weblog.

Now, knowing what Mr. Essef stands for, I think it’s only fair to answer the same question: What am I?

I am someone who believes that the American Dream is a commitment to knowledge, equality, and morality.

I am someone who believes that God wouldn’t have given us eyes to see, and ears to listen, and minds to reason if not to use those faculties to the best of our abilities. I believe our pursuit of knowledge can only enable our society to do more and be more for its citizens. I am not someone who believes in ignoring science and knowledge simply because I don’t like what I hear.

I am someone who believes that equality means ensuring that everyone has the same chances. I believe in educating them, whether it be in math, civics, or the sexuality of their own bodies. I believe that education allows them to make informed decisions about their lives and communities, and equality, whether it be in marriage or in job opportunities causes people to be invested in those institutions.

I believe everyone has the right to vote, and that the disenfranchised need a voice.

I believe in more than a woman’s right to choose: I believe in her right to manage her own life. I believe she deserves all the rights and chances as a man. I don’t concede the moral high ground to the “pro-life” movement. Instead, I submit that in their rush to legislate less education and a narrowing of choices they increase abortions; they do the very thing they purport to be against. Instead, by providing education and support, I believe we can reduce abortions and strengthen families.

I believe in supporting all our people. While I admire Mr. Essef’s ability to pull himself up by his bootstraps, I also note that there are a multitude of Americans who toil at low wage jobs only to find that they can’t afford rent, or medicine, or school supplies at the end of the month. I believe it is our duty to help our fellow citizens, and an outrage that some people would dismantle the apparatus that would do so.

I am someone who pushes for environmental reform. I do so because I believe that we must be as stewards for our land. That we have dominion over bird and beast, plant and animal is naught but a responsibility to care for that land. I stand against those who dismiss our environment as something to take care of “later,” because our scientists tell us that “later” is actually to late.

While I celebrate the soldiers that defend my rights, I will not tolerate human abuse in the name of defense. I will not tread on the rights of the innocent or the guilty in the name of the Constitution. Our Armed Forces in general conduct themselves honorably; I rely on the press to inform me when they do not. I believe that the exercise of our rights is central to preserving those rights; why should the military defend our rights, if we never use them?

So, Mr. Essef, I know what you are, but, what am I? I am a liberal, a democrat, and someone who believes that we can do better for our families, our fellow citizens, our environment, and our world.

gun control research

Eldan recently asked about reliable gun control statistics. I haven’t had the time to read these papers thoroughly, but I thought finding some research publications on the subject would be useful:

Florida considers law outlawing withdrawal of food and water

Appeals Court Refuses to Order Schiavo’s Feeding Reinstated: “In Tallahassee, Governor Bush worked to gather support for a bill that could force at least a temporary restoration of Ms. Schiavo’s feeding tube. A measure passed last week by the House of Representatives would outlaw the withdrawal of food and water from people in a ‘persistent vegetative state,’ as doctors have diagnosed Ms. Schiavo, who had not left specific instructions refusing artificial sustenance.”

I can’t believe this bill would gain any traction in Florida. The majority of Fl citizens are elderly, and while I have no doubt that most of them want to live long, fulfilling lives, I’d be willing to bet that most of them wouldn’t want to be kept alive in circumstances such as these. Nationwide polling seems to support this.

Clearly, the way out of this is leave clear instructions concerning end-of-life instructions. If you’re not so thoughtful, however, what do you do?

In a way, this reminds me of the anti-death penalty arguments: we shouldn’t execute people because there’s always some chance they could be innocent. Witness testimony is unreliable, and DNA evidence has been exonerating people left and right. Can we apply a similar argument to someone in a persistent vegetative state who hasn’t left instructions concerning end-of-life?