Wednesday, March 7, 2012

One more day

Eight months and one day ago, my dearest and closest friend, a dynamic and phenomenal man with a spirit and intellect unparalleled, died tragically and unexpectedly. I still have no idea how he died, why he died, and what I should now do without him. I wake up every morning and somehow drag myself out of bed, more often than not excusing myself from showers and meals, and pleading with the universe for that reprieve from the sadness that has a depth so severe I can't blink without tears falling from my eyes. Ryan Christopher Goskie, RN, BSN was an advocate - for women, for men, for children. Ryan faced evil daily and even in his death, was the object of vile hatred that resulted in a memorial service attended by friends, family, and police officers charged with keeping protestors at bay. Because Ryan defended a woman's right to choose every day by entering an abortion clinic and providing the best nursing care a woman could ever hope for, he was made a victim of this brutal assault of hate even after closing his eyes one final time. And so, in the last eight months and one day, I have watched the fight for women's reproductive health freedoms wondering how he might have reacted to this vicious assault on, what most reasonable people consider, the inherent right a woman has to choose how her health should be managed from a reproductive health standpoint. Would he have marched on the state house in Missouri when Representatives began supporting laws that would have eliminated funding to Planned Parenthood? Would he have written letters and made phone calls of protest to lawmakers insistent that mandatory waiting periods and ultrasounds without medical basis were in a patient's best interest? What would Ryan have said to us when the Susan G Komen Foundation voted to discontinue funding for breast cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood? How would he have celebrated the decision of that same organization to overturn their vote in favor of popular opinion and common decency? And what would Ryan have said when Sandra Fluke was denied the opportunity to testify to Congress about her experiences regarding birth control or the subsequent personal and egregious attacks Sandra has endured from politicians, conservative political pundits, and the King of Cowardice himself, Rush Limbaugh?

We can't know for sure what Ryan would have said because we were robbed of our precious time with him too soon. But as one of his closest confidantes and friends, I believe in my heart that Ryan would look upon all of this turmoil in the fight to keep choice and reproductive health rights both relevant and legal, and calmly advise us by saying, "One more day. One more day to make your voices heard. One more day to defend, one more day to fight, one more day to remind America that choice is here to stay and so are the people willing to stand up for it. One more day, Joey."

Ryan was famous for his witty one liners, his love of the sarcastic. But when it came to choice, Ryan didn't joke. He had been the victim of harsh, hateful words from his "Christian" opponents. He had been forced to end leases and move to new homes thanks to protesters' harassment miles away from the clinics in which he worked. Ryan had suffered a stabbing and near suffocation, believed by law enforcement to have been at the hands of a protestor so protective of "life" that he followed Ryan home, waited for him to walk his precious dog, and then attacked him in the dark driveway behind his apartment, leaving him to die when Ryan fought back and broke free of his attackers grip. So Ryan knew the hate that lives amongst us. Ryan knew the depths of this fight and perhaps more than any of us, Ryan knew the cost. And so I have to believe that "One more day" would be his advice. Which is to say, we have been given one more day to show our adversaries compassion, one more day to defend choice, one more day to remind women that they are not alone, that their voices can be heard, that their bodies are not the property of a government desperate to stifle their needs. We must not look at this mission with tired, hopeless eyes but instead with the courage and strength to believe that it can, in fact, be won. Men like Rush Limbaugh are feeding off our fear that we might lose. They can see our desperation and sense that even we don't know how much hope to have about the success we will have in defending these rights. Otherwise, men like Rush Limbaugh wouldn't have the guts to call hard working, faithful women like Sandra Fluke "sluts". Men like Rush know that if they keep kicking us down, we will be afraid to get back up. And that is what Ryan would have hated the most about the last eight months and one day, I think. Not that our rights were systematically being attacked. Not that women were being crucified for demanding equality. And certainly not that choice was being attacked once more. Ryan would have hated all of that, mind you, but what he would have hated the most was the assault on our *conviction* to always defend choice and our *conviction* to always defend women. Because the fact is, Ryan didn't go to his clinic every day, walking through a crowd of God fearing "Christians" who attacked his sexuality and family and values, simply to see women lose faith and give up. No. Ryan walked through that blanket of putrid hate every day because he believed that by standing next to women when they needed support the most he was defending not only their rights but their voice and faith too. Ryan knew what it might take others a lifetime to discover - giving up is not an option. We have to say it over and over, day in and day out. We have to demand of our elected leaders equality in legislation every day. We have to denounce infectious hatred from people who have radio and television platforms like Rush Limbaugh every single day. We must bear witness to the years of work done by those before us every single DAY. This is no time to give up or give in. This is no time to allow name calling and ignorance to diminish our resolve. Each day we read of a new law being voted on or another woman being called a whore for no reason cannot be a reason to back off our commitment or passion for what seems a never ending fight for what we know to be right. One more day.

One of the last conversations I had with Ryan was about his health, ironically. We discussed the options he had in dealing with a (non life threatening) health problem he was facing. We talked about how each choice would affect his work, his relationships, his quality of life. At the end of that conversation, I jokingly said to Ryan, "Wouldn't it be nice if everyone could have discussions like this, even if it were about abortion?" And Ryan laughed and said, "But they can, Joey. They just don't know it yet. Which is why you and I are going to tell them, every day, until we're blue in the face."

Ryan knew all along what it seems America is learning the hard way - we CAN have those conversations. We just can't forget to have them. We can't forget to lift our voices. We can't forget to demand equality. We can't, simply put, give up on choice. We have to have the conversation every single day. We have to insist that people listen. We have to remind this country that attacking our liberties will not defeat or silence us. Because choice is more than abortion or birth control or mammograms. Choice is a human right to do what's best and the responsibility to never lose faith that our voices matter.

One more day.


What legacy are we promoting?

As a child I visited the Missouri capitol with my school classes. I visited many more times with my parents. As a parent I proudly took my own children to Jefferson City to help them understand our process of government. As a minister I have taken youth groups and concerned citizens to visit the capitol and to meet with our elected leaders. On every visit, I walked the hallowed hallways, admired the murals of Thomas Hart Benton, and studied the history of Missouri in the museum. I have always felt a spirit of reverence for our democratic process and for all of the people who walked those halls before me.

Now, Missouri House Speaker Rep. Steven Tilley has commissioned a sculptor to create a bust of Rush Limbaugh to install in the Hall of Famous Missourians in the State House in Jefferson City. Among the likenesses of Mark Twain, Stan Musial, Dred Scott, and Sacajawea, Missouri children will now learn about the hatred and bigotry promoted by Limbaugh, thanks to Speaker Tilley.

My prayer is that the great state of Missouri should promote a legacy of kindness and humanitarianism, which should be reflected in the Hall of Famous Missourians. By adding Limbaugh's bust to our Hall, we are acknowledging a history of hate. As Missourians, Midwesterners, and Americans, this is a public shame. We want our children to know of the great advances of Edwin Hubble, the journalistic achievements of Walter Cronkite, and the historic implications of Dred Scott and his famous lawsuits. These Missourians are famous for making our world a better place. Of every single person in the Hall of Famous Missourians, it can be said that they set an example of excellence. But Rush Limbaugh shows no excellence; his infamy is for vitriolic insults and drug scandals.

This is not the story I want to share with my grandchildren. It is a scar upon all our people that can only bring us ridicule.

We need to stand united against the Speaker's attempt to memorialize a dark, embarrassing piece of Missouri's history. Rush Limbaugh does not belong in the Hall of Famous Missourians. Our children deserve better. Please, let us promote a proud Missouri legacy of love, not a history of hate.

-The Reverend Rebecca Turner

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Sandra Fluke is Every Woman

This is the Wikipedia entry regarding the controversy between bigoted dickwad Rush Limbaugh and Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke, after Ms. Fluke testified to a House committee about President Obama's mandated health coverage of contraceptives:

"On February 29, 2012 Limbaugh commented on law student Sandra Fluke, who had testified before the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee in support of mandated health coverage for contraceptives. On his radio show, Limbaugh described Fluke as a "slut", "prostitute" and "round-heeled", while questioning whether her parents were proud of her for supporting the government's ruling that religiously affiliated institutions should provide health insurance plans that include contraception. Already facing criticism, he repeated his claims the following day and further suggested that Fluke, "and the rest of you feminazis," make a sex tape in exchange for contraceptive funding, along with offering to buy the women of Georgetown University "as much aspirin to put between their knees as they want."

Rush Limbaugh has crossed a line, and from my (albeit unexperienced) legal perspective, Sandra Fluke needs to sue.

In Washington, D.C., in order to prove a case of "slander" in civil court, a plaintiff need only show four elements:

  1. the defendant (Rush Limbaugh) made a false and defamatory statement concerning the plaintiff (Sandra Fluke) --> DUH.
  2. the defendant published the statement without privilege to a third party --> Pretty sure Fluke wasn't okay with Limbaugh calling her a "slut," among other things, via a national radio show.
  3. the defendant's fault in publishing the statement amounted to at least negligence --> can you be negligent for being a misogynist bigot?
  4. either the statement was actionable as a matter of law irrespective of special harm or itspublication caused the plaintiff special harm --> yeah, I think Fluke was pretty harmed by Limbaugh's idiotic remarks.
Seriously, it's that easy. Fluke would have little to prove, since all of these statements have been publicized and spread around so much among conservatives and liberals alike. All her attorneys would need to do is flip on CNN, and their case would be proven.

As a female law student, I took personal offense to Limbaugh's statements. There is no doubt in my mind that Fluke already knows about the defamation law. But as a woman, I can understand her hesitation to take further action. She likely doesn't want to relive those painful statements Limbaugh made about her, even though the misogynist bigot had never met her. Fluke probably, understandably, wants to put this whole incident behind her.

But this is her moment to strike, to get justice for herself, and for all the millions of women who use contraceptives to improve their qualities of life. Limbaugh is like a child - he keeps pushing buttons and crossing lines because no one will tell him "no" or punish him for his blatant wrongdoings. But Fluke has a real chance here to slap a defamation suit on him - and to make a positive mark on history by putting one of the biggest bullies of our time in his place.

Sandra Fluke could have been any woman. In Rush Limbaugh's mind, we women are all the same - "sluts," "prostitutes," and "whores."

A petition has been started on, supporting Fluke and calling for the House Republicans to denounce Limbaugh's senseless, hurtful remarks:

Regardless of their affiliated party, political leaders need to publicly condemn these statements and take a stance on bullying, bigotry, and misogyny.

- Chelsea

My Beef with Rush Limbaugh

Yesterday, the St. Louis Post dispatch announced that Missouri House Speaker Rep. Steven Tilley was commissioning a bust of Rush Limbaugh to place in the Missouri State House, alongside Stan Musial, Dred Scott, Sacajawea, Jack Buck, Walter Cronkite, Bob Barker, Edwin Hubble, and Mark Twain. REAL famous Missourians, who did hugely important things in their respective fields.

Rush Limbaugh is famous for the same reasons that Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian are famous - for being a spotlight-desperate fame seeker . Limbaugh has made no contribution to society except when he promotes hatred, bullying, and misinformation. But to the Missouri House Republicans, this is noteworthy and worth glorification.

Since when do we immortalize drug-addled, racist, misogynist bigots in the sacred halls of one of our most prestigious buildings?

Here is my problem with Rush Limbaugh, despite all of the aforementioned reasons: he is a genuinely bad person. Literally last week, he called a law student from Georgetown University a whore because she relied on government assistance to pay for birth control. THEN he demanded to see videos of her having sex, because the way he saw it, if he had to pay for her sexual protection, he wanted some benefit out of it.

If some other dirty old man said that to any other 20-something year old woman, he would be criminally charged with sexual harassment. But because he is Rush Limbaugh, he somehow gets a free pass.

And need I remind you of him calling the Duke lacrosse team's victim a "ho" after she was brutally raped? Or his insensitive remarks about Michael J. Fox "over exaggerating" the effects of his Parkinson's disease? Or what about his "phony soldiers" insults aimed at veterans who had publicly criticized the Iraq War?

Rep. Tilley argues that the federal courthouse in Cape Girardeau is named for Limbaugh's grandfather, and his uncle was a federal judge in St. Louis. So that's why he should get a statue of himself next to a handful of individuals who did magnificent things?

Rush Limbaugh is an immoral, genuinely bad human being. He uses his publicity to bully, slander, insult, and hurt other people, and that is something that should NEVER, EVER be recognized by our politicians. Limbaugh has yet to make the world a better place. Rep. Tilley and the Missouri House Republicans insult Missouri's past and present by their desire to forever memorialize Limbaugh.

Please take a few moments to email Rep. Tilley at or call his office at 573-751-1488 and let him know that you do not appreciate a racist, homophobic, misogynist, bigoted druggie being immortalized in our state capitol! Faith Aloud has also started a petition on that you can sign: