The underground railroad to rescue gay children (yes, seriously) // Morning Read-Up: August 8th, 2012

8 Aug

The leader of a conservative American group, Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association, has proposed that there should be an ‘underground railroad’ for the children of gay marriages. Just like the slaves of the American South, children of loving, gay parents, only want freedom. Excellent analogy, right?

And yet, Bryan Fischer believes it to be the perfect example of why the children of same-sex parents should be kidnapped away for their protection — that they are the equivalent of slaves who need to be rescued. This is incredibly dangerous rhetoric that has the potential to do great harm. How much destruction could self-declared “Harriet Tubmans” do to same-sex families, motivated by Fischer’s claims? More than ever, the “culture war” is a direct attack on the lives of LGBT and their families.

**From Co:exist, an argument that instead of occupying Wall Street, people should really ‘occupy’ Madison Avenue. The centre of American marketing is really what drives the corporate agenda, the argument goes.

Corporations control this planet. Of the world’s 100 largest entities, 51 of them are corporations. Walmart, for example, is economically bigger than Norway. And virtually every major corporation is awakening to the fact that traditional advertising is no longer sufficient for building a world-class brand. Advertising is a $300 billion industry in America alone. More importantly, it is the connection point between consumers and trillions of dollars of commerce. But advertising no longer works as powerfully as it once did. Consumers have gone through a communication revolution, while advertising is almost exactly the same as it was during the Mad Men era. Consumers don’t watch or believe ads the way they once did. Technology gives them the truth in the form of ratings and reviews. So this generation’s Mad Men know that great brands are now built based on great corporate behavior, not on great advertisements.

It’s a pretty straightforward argument – corporations just want to sell, and if people want goods that have corporate responsibility tied into them, then that’s what corporations will give to the consumer.

Of course, that presumes we can trust that what corporations tell us is actually the truth.

***Locked-in syndrome truly must be terrifying ordeal. For those of us who have experienced the terrors of sleep paralysis (I did when I was younger, but it’s not bothered me in years), perhaps that would be a glimpse into that world of horrors. Richard Marsh, a former police officer and teacher, has ‘recovered 95%’ from his battle with being locking inside his body and has now shared his tale with The Guardian.

****For the foreign policy wonks, a thought-provoking essay at Fareed Zakaria’s CNN Global Public Square blog, which argues that Uzbekistan could play a significant role in Afghanistan’s stability in the years to come.

From Sarah Chayes:

By demonstrating to U.S. and allied officials the fragility of the critical Pakistan land route, the long blockade abruptly raised interest in Uzbekistan. Negotiating teams from key NATO countries have been cycling through Tashkent to hammer out details of bilateral transit agreements. But Uzbekistan is worthy of attention not just for its infrastructure, namely the Friendship Bridge across the Amu Darya River and the lone rail link to Afghanistan embedded in its tarmac. Uzbekistan’s president and much of its top leadership have held office since a year after the Soviets departed Afghanistan across that same bridge in 1989, and their personal relationships with key Afghan actors are long-standing and intimate, their insights into Afghan dynamics profound. And they, like many Afghans, seem already to be operating in a post-2014 world. Washington might have something to learn.

*****Some Torontonians witnessed the debut of privatized garbage collection this week. If proponents are concerned about how low the winning bid turned out to be, shouldn’t that set off alarm bells?

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