SpeakOut is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. SpeakOut articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.

Dec 27

Newtown: How We Can Heed The Warnings

By Michael Nagler, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

The wisest man I had the privilege of knowing in my life once said, "There is no nation, no matter how powerful, that cannot be destroyed by hate."

The latest tragedy – and I sincerely hope it will still be the latest when you read this – has been unparalleled in its violence. Because the true measure of violence is not in the body count but in the violation of the sacred life that we hold most dear, for example in our innocent children. It has also been unusual in the confusion that still surrounds what exactly happened. Like most of us, I at first found myself poring over the sketchy reports, trying to understand how it happened, to piece together the story. But then I stopped. These details are at best a distraction, at a time that we can ill afford one. At worst they are more than a distraction; they are a seduction.

With reports the President is poised to force a deal that would cut Social Security benefits through the chained CPI, it may be the time for the Left to show its power as effectively as the Tea Party. The GOP may have saved us with their usual stubbornness, but it's not clear how long that will hold.

Some statements from Social Security Works and allies:

"Washington politicians need to understand that the so-called chained-CPI is a cruel cut, falling hardest on the oldest of the old, those disabled at the youngest ages and the poorest of the poor. The cut is the value of a week's worth of food each and every month for the typical 80 year old widow; nearly two weeks each month, if she survives to age 95. A cruel cut so that the richest two percent do not have to pay an extra three pennies of taxes on dollars of income in excess of $250,000.

Dec 26

America's Pathologic Infatuation With Guns

By Dr Brian Moench, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Last month I was asked to testify before the South Jordan (near Salt Lake City) City Council about the health threat to a nearby neighborhood from lead emissions from a proposed indoor gun range. I recited the federal government's official position--no amount of lead exposure is safe, especially for children. Many young parents, worried their small children would suffer diminished intelligence from small amounts of lead continually emitted in their backyard, also testified against issuing a permit for the gun range. Despite legitimate health concerns and solid opposition from the neighbors, the council issued the permit. I went home muttering to myself about child abuse from America's pathologic infatuation with guns.

Dec 26

The Bottom Line: Housing

By Staff, Econ4 | Video

We are economists who think that the economy should serve people, the planet and the future.

Four million families have lost their homes to foreclosure in the Great Recession. Today another four million or more face the same fate. This devastation was triggered by unscrupulous financiers and exacerbated by government policies that put banker bonuses ahead of homeowner solvency.

Some blame families for foolishly pursuing the American Dream of homeownership. They think government assistance for banks is OK, but homeowners should be left to take "free-market" medicine.

Completing the sixth day of their hunger strike to save six-day delivery, five postal workers broke their fast and declared a "people's victory." "Along with hundreds of thousands of postal workers and our community allies who have been battling for years to save America's postal service, we were able raise awareness and increase pressure on the decision-makers as they attempted to wrangle back-room deals," said hunger striker Jamie Partridge, a retired letter carrier from Portland, Oregon. The strikers established an "emergency" encampment on the National Mall Monday, demanding that Congress and the President halt closures and cuts to the U.S. Postal Service.

Dec 26

A Silly Country

By Lee R. Haven, Jack and Jill Politics | Op-Ed

This is a silly country.

"You know if that was me or you trying to stop him, the police would arrest us. Lock us down. They'd say, 'Man, let that white boy go kill some people if that's what he wanna do.'"

The guy talking about the Newtown, Connecticut massacre staffed one of those car inspection places so common in my neck of the woods, metro Atlanta. I was nervous. My car was skimping. If it didn't pass, there was the costly proposition of having to get it fixed before the not-far-away deadline with resources I don't really have what with the holidays here and my plans to employ what I had saved for gifts for family.

Since many of our Christian brothers and sisters are offline for the Christmas holiday, I thought this would be a good time for the pro-Obama Jews to caucus.

What do we want the next four years to be like? Do we want to spend the next four years under the jackboot of the neocons, even though we beat them in the last three Presidential elections, starting with the 2008 Democratic primary?

Dec 26

Learning Our Penchant for Mass Murder

By Mike Ferner, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

"Actions speak louder than words" and "We teach by example" are two truisms that have stood the test of time. But that doesn't make them any easier to practice.

As a nation we mourn with the families and loved ones of those so frightfully killed and wounded in Connecticut last week. But as grief is joined by reflection on how this could happen again, I believe we do those close to the victims as well as ourselves a disservice unless "all options are on the table" as we examine Americans' predilection for killing en masse.

I know that this world must often seem confusing to you. It's noisy, dirty, and filled with adults scurrying about their busy lives without noticing you all that much sometimes. It's filled with rules and people telling you what to do, mostly without asking what you want to do. It's also a world where adults teach you about all of the dangers around you, but not as much about the wonderful, beautiful things.

You see, things weren't quite like this when we were kids. We had our rules and dangers, to be sure, but nothing like the ones you face today. Back then (which is not really that long ago) people talked to each other more, neighbors knew one another, and schools were less like factories and more like playgrounds. There were less televisions, computers, and phones calling for our attention, and there were more open spaces to play like kids are supposed to do.

When reading about the murders in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday, one point in particular stood out to me as a woman: Adam Lanza killed his mother. This point reveals something essential about the nature of all violence and gives a clue as to why these horrific events take place. For though it is reported that Nancy Lanza taught her son how to shoot a gun and she believed in guns for "protection," in order to kill a mother, you have to learn how to hate her. In order to learn how to hate one person, you learn hatred itself. My hope is that with the call for more responsible gun laws we might in the same courageous breath witness the misogyny of his act because it provides a key for unlocking any sense of "mystery" of how this could have happened and understand that women are often on the receiving end of hatred, however subtle or however much of an "aside" it might seem. This is an important point, I think, because if we are to rid ourselves of misogyny we have to trace it to its root cause; and when we do we find ourselves at the striking at the root of all acts of such violence.