Friday, October 21, 2016

Soldiers in Petticoats

Since days of old, women have had to grovel and beg for every bit of freedom that we in America enjoy today. I wonder as I look around the country if our young women have any idea of the pain and suffering it took for them to have the right to vote; for them to have a voice in the ways of the world.

From 1908 to 1917, women in both the United States and Britain suffered unconscionable brutality at the hands of those in power. It was an ugly, beautiful poetic time in history.  These women were known as suffragettes.

Suffrage Definition:

“A vote given in deciding a controverted question or electing a person for an office or trust.” ~ Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Lucy Burns and Alice Paul, the founders of the Silent Sentinels and National Women’s Party were key players in our right to vote, and they stand in the hallowed halls of history as Giants Among Women. They earned that title without reproach. While protesting their rights outside the gates of the White House (Woodrow Wilson), they were subsequently arrested on charges of:

Obstructing traffic

Inciting unlawful assemblage

It’s estimated 1,000 women were thrown into jails in America and Great Britain, from 1900 to the beginning of World War I (1917). While in the jails, old women were beaten and put into rat-infested cells. One was shackled with her arms above her head all night long. They demanded to be held as political prisoners. When their demands were not met, they staged hunger strikes, where Lucy Burns was force fed through a tube in her nose; many others were force fed raw eggs and milk. And still, they fought on with courage and perseverance.

In 1918, a federal judge overturned the convictions of the Silent Sentinels, ruling that their peaceful picketing outside the White House was political speech protected under the First Amendment.

One woman changed the course of history in America:

Phoebe Ensminger Burn, Miss Febb, as she was known to her family, was the mother of Representative Harry Burn of Tennessee. He was a young man of 24 years. The vote for ratification of the 19th Amendment of the United States Constitution was in his hands. His mother, simply wrote him a note:

“Hurrah, and vote for suffrage! Don’t keep them in doubt. I notice some of the speeches against. They were bitter. I have been watching to see how you stood, but have not noticed anything yet. Be a good boy and help Mrs. Catt put the ‘rat’ in ratification.”

It is important that we understand that women once had the respect and admiration of men, especially sons to their mothers, and husbands to their wives. Many times in the course of American history, women whispered in the ears of their sons or husbands and changed everything:  Eleonore Roosevelt, Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, and Phoebe Ensminger Burn.  The power of women goes far beyond the picket line. It is held in the household, the places of worship, the home and even in politics. However, it takes a very strong woman to wield this type of power.

The election of 2016 in the United States is an important one. It doesn’t matter which side you take, however you must not let the Giants Among Women’s fight be in vain. We as the Women of America, the Birthers of a Nation, must stand up and cast our vote this election. To do anything less would be a travesty against humanity.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Not all Writers are Journalists, but all Journalists are Writers

I’d like to start off this week’s Butterfly Phoenix blog with a deep and heartfelt apology from the bottom of my soul to Amy Goodman, Reporter – DemocracyNow! I am so very sorry for the less than hospitable treatment you received in North Dakota. Charging you with a crime at all, misdemeanor or not, is not something that should have happened in our State, and I apologize as a citizen of North Dakota.

On September 3, 2016, award winning journalist Amy Goodman covered an unfolding story in North Dakota that went viral on the internet. Although, Ms. Goodman identified herself as a reporter from New York on the scene, she was later, 2 or 3 days later, charged with misdemeanor trespassing charges in Morton County, North Dakota. Ms. Goodman agreed to travel back to North Dakota and face the music. Well, the music she came back to seemed to be the drums of war. In the midst of her travel, State’s Attorney, Ladd R. Erickson filed new charges -  under the Riot law of North Dakota Century Code 12.1-25-01 (inciting a riot); 02 (arming rioters); 03 (engaging in a riot); or 04 (disobedience of public safety orders under riot conditions). The charge(s) she will face is not yet clear to the general public.

Amy Goodman was clearly reporting a story as can be seen here:  Dakota Access Pipeline Company Attacks Native American Protesters with Dogs and Pepper Spray

Contrary to mainstream media reports, the Dakota Access Pipeline workers were bulldozing a burial ground and sacred site of the Great Sioux Nation, on unceded land in South Central North Dakota. (see the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851 for more information on unceded land.) Amy Goodman was reporting on this event as a fully recognized journalist in the journalist community; to include national mainstream media. She faces jail time and/or fines for doing her job. There has been no instance in American history where a journalist has been charged while doing their job. This sets precedence as stated in Vogue magazine:

"If hundreds of Native tribes and nations can join together in solidarity to resist a dangerous threat to their identity, to their existence, to their freedom, so must members of the press everywhere in condemning attacks on a fellow journalist. This is no time for silence. One standoff leads to another."

Why is this important to all writers everywhere, even if you aren’t a journalist? Charging Amy Goodman is a direct violation of the First Amendment of the United States – Freedom of the Press, Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion. What you write can become censored in America. The topics you choose, the very words you choose to express your thoughts, stories, and books can come under the scrutiny of those who would move to strike your words from American history.

Also arrested in North Dakota for covering the Dakota Access Pipeline:

Deia Schlosberg (documentary filmmaker and journalist) was arrested and charged with felonies carrying a whopping maximum sentence of up to 45 years in prison—simply for reporting on the ongoing Indigenous protests against fossil fuel infrastructure.  Arrested in Walhalla, ND and held in the Pembina County jail for 48 hours without the right to an attorney.

Four reporters from Unicorn Riot Independent Media and live streaming. Their arrests were video documented.

Shailene Woodley – Star of Divergent and Fault in Our Stars. She and her mother livestreamed her arrest on Facebook.

We, as writers of America, must come together and stand in support of journalists, because not all writers are journalists; but all journalists are writers.