editorial

Fuel tax failing in early returns

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Albany residents appeared to be saying a definite “no” to a 5-cent-per-gallon fuel surcharge to pay for street repairs in early election returns Tuesday.

To Think is a Dangerous Thing

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As I sit here drinking my morning coffee looking out at seven beautiful snow covered mountains my mind is developing some ideas on development.

No Change/Slow Change

When I come to Central Oregon is see growth and change. I see communities committed to making this a better place for people to move to. There is a feeling over here that discussion is important but so is growth and getting things done.

Whole Foods:

We needed food so we stopped by Whole Foods Grocery and had a blast walking, eating and drinking our way through the store. As I exit I think in my head, yes that was a little expensive for everyday grocery shopping but it was fun, it fills a need and in Eugene we have people fighting this. Why, because they are out of state, big business and they charge too much.

New Blood Infusion:

I’m a native Oregonian and wonder if people like me are part of the problem. We have that Tom McCall attitude that wishes Oregon would stay the same and never grow. I think a lot of folks come here from places where overgrowth destroyed their town and they don’t want to see the same thing happen here. In their well-meaning attempts to protect us they really limit our vision. I don’t want over growth but I also don’t want to limit change. When we do that we miss things because we all have blind spots.

In over protecting our little corner of the world we are also stifling it and hindering our own growth as a community and as people.

Bustling Little Place:

I know the economy is tough on this side of the mountain (Central Oregon) but I see growth even in places like Prineville, where Face Book and others have changed their little world. Riding my bike through the downtown it feels a lot different than when I came here during my campaign for Secretary of State.

Change is Difficult:

Change is difficult for people and communities but it has to happen or we get stuck in a fog. I think Eugene and even Springfield to some extent are stuck in a fog. I wonder that our little corner of Western Oregon is too comfortable with what it is and is fearful of becoming something more vibrant and different. We say we want growth but over-talk things to death and kill as much business as we lure. Eugene is talking of this Sick Pay ordinance at a time when small business is struggling just to keep the doors open. I want to ask those considering such a measure if they’ve ever owned their own business? What I really want to ask them is “What in the world do you think you are doing?” (Okay I’ll get off that topic for now or the trolls will surface and miss my real message and instead get focused on something they can argue over)

Oh, and I do care about those who don’t have sick pay and I understand how they feel. I am a small business owner who has no sick pay and must either work or lose money when I’m sick but I don’t see the city coming to my rescue.

It’s an Attitude:

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It really is an attitude, an attitude and a lack of doing our homework. We are afraid to grow. We are protecting something we can’t protect. I’m all about smart growth but when games are being played behind the scenes to prevent new development that’s where I draw the line. Do your homework before you start killing Fred Meyer and other projects like it. Find out who’s fighting it, find out why, look at their motives and then make an educated decision not some judgment based on fear.

We are becoming an area that is choosing who gets to come in and who doesn’t. If we don’t like a certain type of business, they don’t get to play here. If you stand back and really listen to that mentality you will begin to see how dangerous it really is.

What happens if I can get enough people to stop all corporate broadcasting companies from buying what used to be locally owned TV stations? I can paint them out as the bad guy, write letters to the editor and complain about what they are going to do to the local television market and limit my competition at the same time.

A Better Option:

The other option is to get in the game. Instead of chasing them away I can get more creative, look for better solutions, find new ways to do television and spend my time fighting to win rather than crying because someone bigger is playing in my sandbox. And if it doesn’t work out for me I can find a new sandbox. This is called life my friends and we need to live it rather than trying to control it.

What if we decide we no longer want businesses owned by a certain political party to come to our community? Or, a religious group tries to open a store and we as a community don’t agree with that religion so we chase it away. This is a slippery slope and we’d better step back and look at the bigger picture or vibrancy is going to reach the rest of Oregon while our little corner at the base of the valley sits idle in a fog of fear.

Please Read This Clause:

If you don’t like what I have said that is fine. If you’d like to make a comment offering “your opinion” you are welcome to do so, but do it in a constructive way and play nice. Some of you will try to take each word and rip it to shreds and I understand that. Some will try to lure me into a debate and I will read your comments but don’t expect me to answer back I don’t have to it’s my article. If you want to educate me with your facts do it in a way that causes me and my other readers to want to listen or your efforts are a waste of time.

Voters Pamphlet: Now That Should Come in Useful?

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A long time ago, in a far away land, I was a registered Democrat. I’m not exactly sure why I registered that way but in college I thought Democrat was the way to go. The older I got and the more I began to understand, the more I realized I wasn’t a D so after moving to Eugene I re-registered as a Republican. Living in this community I realized I wasn’t a far left and the only other direction I could go at the time was the far right.

During my run for Secretary of State in 2008 I realized the Republican Party was not me either so now I am a Non-Affiliated-Voter. To the D’s and R’s that means I’m one of the growing number of people who can’t make up their mind. Party hardliners really think you have to choose one or the other or you are fickle.

What I’ve learned is more and more of us are not relating to the two major parties, in fact in Oregon more people register non-affiliated or Independent than are registering D or R. The NAV’s and the Independent parties together are a growing block of voters in Oregon.

So why is it when I get my Primary Voter’s Pamphlet there is basically nothing in there for me. I literally can vote on maybe two issues because they are outside the party line.

My tax dollars are used to pay for the Primary election and yet I can’t participate. Does that sound like taxation without representation to any of you? Sure does to me. If the D’s and R’s want to keep me from participating in the primary or as they call it “Their Primary” then perhaps “They” should start paying for it? Rather than sticking the bill for “Their” primary to all taxpayers in Oregon, let the Secretary of State’s office issue a bill to both parties following each Primary Election.

The real answer to this problem is Opening the Primary in Oregon. Right now, the Unions and both major parties fight these efforts, Why? They have a lot to lose….power. But if We the People want to see more candidates that look like us, more “Moderate choices” the change has to happen.

To all of you NAV’s or Green Party or Independent Party members, remind yourself of these facts as you cast your limited vote in May. Remember that you are blocked from participating in something that’s important and that you are helping to pay for. When you get angry enough, perhaps you will actually do something about it?

Oh, and as for the Voters Pamphlet, perhaps we should stop allowing candidates and their friends to pay to put BS in a document that should be limited to the facts. We already have enough media sources out there offering opinions I don’t think we need anymore.

Don’t Sit on Your Butt, Speak Up

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Some big changes are headed to Eugene and I think its time the voiceless speak up. A few months back I heard Whole Foods is again looking to located in Downtown Eugene. Those close to the deal asked me to be quiet about the deal because, in case you didn’t notice, there’s a group of people in Eugene who tend to kill new development before it has a chance to grow.

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The deal is out and this week the city council will talk about the project. Before that happens each one of them needs to hear from you. We complain a lot about the fact that we aren’t heard and the other voices are louder. The only people to blame for that is us. We are a part of this community and need to give our input to city leaders.

Here is a website that gives you a link to the mayor and each of the city councilors. Send your note to your representative or to each councilor and the mayor.
http://www.eugene-or.gov/index.aspx?NID=537

How to Comment:

When we comment on issues like this stay away from past history. If we dwell on the past it only makes us come across as angry. Be kind and positive with your points. Don’t blame or make villains out of the other side. I know they tend to do that with our point of view but that is no excuse for bad behavior.

Apathy is the enemy:

Opponents are not the enemy the problem is Apathy. If we throw our hands in the air and allow a small group of people to make decisions for us we deserve what we get.

Change is Coming:

I feel change in the air. Development is moving full force in this community and the tide may be turning. Now is the time to get involved. Now is the time for action.

Sick Pay:

While you’re at it you may want to offer a comment or two on the new Sick Pay plan the council is looking at. A group is pushing this issue and claiming to have thousands of signatures to back up their idea. The problem is many of us were never asked our opinions and we need to be heard. This group has an agenda and it may not line up with the majority of us in this community. Speak out.

This is Your City:

I don’t live in Eugene but my office is here and I spend a lot of time and money in this community. I can’t elect city leaders but what they do does impact my business, my life and my family. If you also don’t live in Eugene and want to wash your hands of these issues, you can’t do that. We all live here and city leaders need to hear from us.

Kindness Goes a Long Way:

When you write or communicate with local leaders remember they are just people. They are our neighbors, our friends, public servants and need to be treated with respect. They are strong people and can be talked with truthfully but a touch of kindness goes a long way for those who truly want to be heard.

Now, go sit down, quit complaining and start talking.

Rick Dancer

Viewpoint: Time to Rethink the OLCC

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The Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) is truly a Prohibition-era relic.

You will often hear that in the news, from commentators and editorialists to politicians and talking heads. But what you might not know is — they are serious.

The OLCC was created by the Oregon Legislative Assembly in 1933 — literally days after the repeal of Prohibition.

Prohibition in the U.S., otherwise known as national ban on the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol, began in 1919 with the passage of the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It was in place from 1920 to 1933, being repealed by the 21st Amendment in 1933. The public realized that the liquor ban had essentially caused a vast spread in organized crime and the solidification of the American Mafia.

Despite this fact, the OLCC was created by the Oregon Legislative Assembly in 1933 — literally days after the repeal of Prohibition. The idea was, instead of having the American Mafia have a monopoly on liquor, the Oregon government would — so how could anything go wrong?

But things have gone wrong. The history of the OLCC in the last decade is honestly an embarrassment to the State of Oregon. In 2005 and prior, the OLCC was repeatedly accused of racism. In 2006, Teresa Kaiser, the director of the OLCC, resigned after being arrested for drunk driving. After resigning, Kaiser said, “I am confident the commission will move forward.”

And the commission certainly did move forward. Right into another scandal, when the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service discovered the OLCC had employed a Bulgarian national, Doitchin Krastev, for eight years. Krastev used the Social Security number of a boy who was murdered in Ohio in 1982.

The OLCC requires all alcohol servers to check the IDs of customers who order alcohol. But apparently the OLCC does not know how to check the identity of its own employees. That was the question the Bend Bulletin asked in 2010 — “how he was hired by the OLCC, which routinely conducts background checks on liquor license applicants, club owners, bartenders and other servers of alcohol.”

Krastev, then known as “Jason Evers,” was supposedly a “rising star” — but it seems rising stars at the OLCC are people whose employment careers have “been clouded by questions about [their] credibility,” on account of continually accusing bars falsely of misconduct. Even though, in 2006, the OLCC hired an independent investigator to look into Evers’ actions in the false accusion cases, and even though the investigator discovered the evidence in both cases contradicted both Evers’ written reports and his testimony at an administrative hearing, the OLCC did nothing.

Well, not nothing. His punishment was a promotion. “Evers was later promoted from an inspector to regional manager over a territory that includes Crook, Deschutes, Jefferson and Wheeler counties.”

Fast forward to today. Today the chair of the OLCC is accusing the director of the OLCC of preferring “to operate without public input or transparency,” to the point that an Oregon senator is saying that, “This is an agency that is 100 percent unaccountable. They’ll do whatever it takes to protect their fiefdom.” And to make matters worse, “A lobbyist for Northwest grocers touched off what could be the next round of liquor wars in Oregon on Thursday, telling state lawmakers that if they don’t liberalize alcohol laws the next step will be an initiative to privatize the entire system.” This is the same lobbyist who worked with Costco and other big grocery chains to get Washington to eliminate its government monopoly on liquor last year.

To be fair: the OLCC is trying to modernize. They recently made a smartphone app. So that’s progress, right?

Oregon, it is time to rethink our relationship with the OLCC.

Oregon is “one of a dwindling number of states where the government exerts near dictatorial control over an alcohol system designed 80 years ago to prevent the likes of Al Capone from horning in on the trade.” For a state that takes public pride in its public perception as a “progressive” place to live, this strange obsession with centralized liquor control seems out of place. At a time when residents are clamoring for the legalization of marijuana, residents are still going to hour-limited, state-run liquor stores to buy alcohol. And businesses are still paying huge fines to a government monopoly that only recently had the idea that, instead of just fines, maybe “we need to be out and educating folks in the communities in the different places that we’re doing the checks, and explaining to them a little bit better about how we need to check ID.”

You think?

There’s also a serious disconnect between the OLCC and the public. Recently, the now-chair of the OLCC Cassandra Skinner Lopata has said, “What’s interesting is the OLCC has done such a good job of preventing the abuses that came up during Prohibition.” The abuses, according to Skinner Lopata? Blindness and paralysis.

This disconnect was best expressed recently by Brendan Monaghan at OregonLive:

“Oregonians pride themselves as living in a modern, progressive state; however, as The Oregonian recently reported, words like ‘abuses,’ ‘evils’ and ‘morals’ are still the written basis of our state’s alcohol laws. OLCC Chairwoman Cassandra SkinnerLopata, presumably with a straight face, recently cited the rampant social ills of blindness and counterfeit liquor in such far-flung and discordant locales as Louisiana and India as a prime reason for keeping her regulatory relic.”

I frankly don’t understand this. The only reason I can see for having centralized control of liquor would be to ensure that people consume liquor safely. And yet the numbers show this reason does not bear weight. As of this year, there are 18 states known as “alcoholic beverage control” (ABC) states. 3 of these states — Montana, Mississippi, and Wyoming — are 3 of top 5 states with the worst drunk driving statistics.

There is clearly, then, no correlation between ABC states and protection from alcohol-related accidents. And even non-government organizations acknowledge this. Misty Morse, a spokesperson for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, when discussing the worst states for drunk driving, mentioned that there are a few key laws that make a real difference. She said, “We’ve found that when convicted drunken drivers are given a short, hard license suspension with a longer period of time where they cannot drive without breathing into an interlock, the state’s drunken driving fatalities are lower.”

Notice that centralized liquor control does not make a key difference.

The OLCC does not even make a key difference when it comes to preventing underage drinking. The minor decoy operations are a joke. In 2011, the OLCC spent one day — yes, you read that right — one day investigating Eugene businesses. According to OLCC reports, they visited 14 stores in Eugene. On one day. In the entirety of 2011.

Granted, the OLCC visited just about every city in Oregon. But for one day each? And just a handful of stores in each place? What kind of real enforcement is that? I could visit 14 stores in Eugene in an hour. By foot.

And granted, the OLCC has limited resources. But apparently they need to focus their energy on the sale of liquor rather than protecting the residents of Oregon. Or as Jim West at Mucho Gusto said recently, after failing to pass a sting merely because his employee miscalculated a decoy’s birthdate by a year, “I wish they would focus their limited resources on the more problematic spaces that create the real tragedies.”

In these economic times, it makes little sense to allow a state monopoly on liquor. Money would be better invested in actually enforcing the liquor laws, taking sting operations seriously, and truly emphasizing the power of education when it comes to serving alcohol responsibly.

Photos: Oregon Ducks beat Seattle Redhawks 2-1.

The Oregon Ducks women’s soccer team beat Seattle University Redhawks 2-1 in the seventh game of their season Friday night at Pape Field. Oregon Midfielder Scout Libke kicked a corner that went into the net at the end of the second half putting the Ducks ahead for the rest of the game.

Viewpoint: Taking Antibiotics Seriously

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Antibiotics are the most commonly prescribed drugs in the modern world.

This last March I went in to have my two lower wisdom teeth removed. While some of you might cringe and shake your heads in sympathy, the experience was not bad at all. I opted for conscious sedation. The doctor categorically refused to perform the surgery with only local anesthesia — even though I tried to explain to him that, in Europe, it is a common practice. The whole experience was short and efficient.

Afterwards, I was sent home with prescriptions for 15 Hydrocodone and 30 Keflex antibiotics. Before the surgery the nurse talked to me about the medicine I was to receive afterwards.

Nurse: You will take the antibiotic after the surgery in case you get any infections in your mouth.
Me: What if I don’t get any infections in my mouth after the surgery?
Nurse: We advise our patients to take it just in case. After mouth surgeries most people develop infections.
Me: Huh, really?

So I decided not to take any antibiotics just for prophylactic reasons and see what happens. I always thought one took antibiotics only when fighting an infection already in your system — not when you might develop one.

Instead, while I was stuck in bed sipping coconut milk and homemade chicken broth, I did some research. A friend of mine, knowing of my curious nature, sent me an article from Time magazine relating this exact issue. The facts I found are absolutely fascinating.

Antibiotics are the most commonly prescribed drugs in the modern world. Most of us have ingested a fair share of penicillin, aminoglycoside, macrolide or anifugal antibiotics. Sadly, not only through doctor’s prescriptions but also via meat and fish products that, like us, are treated with antibiotics.

According to Natasha Campbell, MD, antibiotics wipe out the good flora not only in our digestive tract but in other organs and tissues as well. This means that our bodies become more susceptible to invasive benign bacteria and pathogens. Our digestive system allows more and more toxins to go in our blood stream because it doesn’t have enough good flora to fight against it. The results are a weakened immune system and severe gut inflammation.

Just like Candida Albicans, the Clostridia family was given a special opportunity by the era of antibiotics, because Clostridia are also resistant to them. So, every course of broad spectrum antibiotics removes good bacteria, which leaves Clostridia uncontrolled and allows it to grow. Different species of Clostridia cause severe inflammation of the digestive system, for example Clostridum Dificile causes a potentially fatal pseudo – membranous colitis. Some species of Clostridia have been linked to such debilitating digestive disorders as Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis.

~Natasha Campbell’s “Gut and Psychology Syndrome”, Page 42.

Antibiotics wipe out the good flora not only in our digestive tract but in other organs and tissues as well.

Frequent use of antibiotics also makes opportunistic bacteria in the gut immune to subsequent doses. Scientists constantly have to come up with new antibiotics to keep up with the strains of bacteria that become more and more powerful every season. A good example is tuberculosis, or Mycoacterium Tuberculosis, which is resistant to all existing antibiotics, says Natasha Campbell.

A New York Times reporter quoted Dr. L. Clifford McDonald, a medical epidemiologist, stating that half of the antibiotics prescribed in the U.S. are unnecessary.

It seems like the doctors are approaching a very defensive method of practicing medicine. Something along the lines of covering all their basis. Thus we get prescribed prophylactic antibiotics.

Unfortunately it doesn’t solve the problem that every day there are millions of new strains of powerful bacteria that we humans are completely defenselessness against. While antibiotics get rid of one bacteria, we remain susceptible to ten more. It is a vicious cycle.

Maybe another approach to this problem would be to strengthen the human body enough to fight many of these infections. The only way we can do that is by having a better immune system. But boosting our immune systems doesn’t happen at the doctor’s office or through a prescription, and it’s not something you do in a hospital bed with an IV in your vein. In fact, it’s much easier and more pleasant than that. It is sharing a nutritious meal with your friends and family on a daily basis. Once you begin to listen to you body’s needs you will be amazed at the huge amount of information it is constantly trying to tell you. There are many ways to make sure your immune system gets stronger, and most of them involve paying attention to the nutrition your body needs.

Boosting our immune systems can be as simple as sharing a nutritious meal with your friends and family on a daily basis.

I’m not claiming that we should refuse to take antibiotics under any circumstance; they have been put to life-saving use many times throughout history. I took them two years ago for a severe staph infection. I am simply arguing that they should never be used lightly — for example, for prophylactic measures. They are powerful drugs that, when abused, can lead to serious chronic and auto-immune diseases as well as severe food allergies.

People who do take antibiotics should definitely take a good probiotic, eat lots of unsweetened, raw yogurt, and lacto-fermented vegetables. These food items will help re-establish good bacteria in your gut.

When an antibiotic is prescribed in a high dose, it leaves the gut with a lot of empty niches to be populated by whatever bacteria, viruses or fungi would be there first. This is a crucial time to administer a good probiotic to make sure that these niches get populated with friendly bacteria instead of pathogenic ones. Even when the course of antibiotic is short and the dose is low, it takes different beneficial bacteria in the gut a long time to recover: physiological E.coli takes two weeks, Bifidobacteria and Veillonelli take two or three weeks, Bacteroids, Peptostreptococci take a month. In in this period if the gut flora is subjected to another damaging factor(s), then gut dysbiosis may well start in earnest.

Natasha Campbell,”The Gut and Psychology Syndrome”, Page 33

I decided not to take the antibiotics but I kept the prescription close. At the first sign of high fever I was ready to run to the store to fill it. However, I didn’t get an oral infection. I gave my body a chance to fight it before I ran for the pills and I am so thankful I did.

Viewpoint: The Logic Behind Creative Maladjustment

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Viewpoint: David W. Oaks

Patch Adams is the most famous leader in the MindFreedom International community, and has a network of thousands who seek truly deep change throughout our health care system.

There we were on 14 July 2012, walking down the winding path of the Oregon Country Fair, where tens of thousands every July have filled crowded paths through a woods full of music, crafts and food booths, lovingly stewarding the spirit of the 60′s since 1969. I was ushering Patch with a bullhorn, calling out, “Here comes Patch Adams, to accept an award for lunacy promotion!”

Dr. Adams was in his clown regalia for the walk: Pants pulled up to his armpits, strange grimace on his face, holding a big fake fish in front of his face to help motivate himself for his slow strange walk.

For those too young to know, Patch is a psychiatric survivor, physician and clown, who was the subject of an Academy Award winning film named after him and inspired by his life, starring comedian Robin Williams. Patch is the most famous leader in our MindFreedom International community, and has a network of thousands who seek truly deep change throughout our health care system.

Patch and I were headed down the Oregon Country Fair path to a gathering to give Patch an award (see photo below) for his leadership of a vision created by Martin Luther King, Jr. that few people seem to have heard about:

MLK, in many speeches and essays, said the world may be in dire need of a new organization that MLK called, “The International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment” or IAACM. It was an laugh-line, but like many good jokes had logic and truth behind it. MLK said we all ought to be maladjusted to oppression. The question is: can we be creative in our maladjustment, rather than self-destructive? Repeatedly, MLK said in a variety of ways, “The salvation of the world lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.”

Well, in Patch’s hands that day was a fish.

The award MindFreedom gave to Patch Adams on 14 July 2012 for “lunacy promotion,” including lost marbles, loose screws and nuts. The award is by psychiatric survivor artist Tim Boyden, using recycled and found materials. Photo: David W. Oaks.

Accompanying us on our walk through the Oregon Country Fair was Patch’s main leader for changing the mental health system, Carl Hammerschlag, a psychiatrist/author from Arizona. Carl called out occasionally on the path, “How many six-foot-six psychiatrists do you see in a pink ballerina outfit?” Because that is what Carl was wearing from head to foot, tutu included.

Does this kind of positive celebration of mental and emotional differences necessarily mean opposing rationality? As a leader for 36 years in what is often called the “mad movement,” I know some seem to assume that we are largely celebrating illogic and irrationality. I do not agree.

As a psychiatric survivor who has been through five institutionalizations, and quite a number of diagnoses, I can tell you that one of the tools for my own recovery was the use of logic, evidence, and rationality.

Today, here is a very simple and undeniable logic to consider: What is generally called “normal” by just about any common definition, is in fact causing a climate crisis, and countless other environmental disasters. I’m not saying all that is called “normal,” is bad, just that one of the worst spiritual illnesses to ever visit our planet Earth has that name: Normal.

The question is: can we be creative in our maladjustment, rather than self-destructive? Repeatedly, MLK said in a variety of ways, “The salvation of the world lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.”

Throughout human history, respected thought leaders such as Socrates have said the pursuit of wisdom begins by recognizing that none of us has a grip on reality, that we all know nothing with certainty. And now, the scientific jury is back, the evidence has been rationally considered, and the logic is irrefutable: Socrates was right. What is called “normal” may be guilty of Gaia-cide, the shredding of our precious planet’s web of life.

That’s why I have been saying that the slogan of the mad movement ought to be, “We are the 100 percent.”

So yes, when Patch and Carl and I navigate a crowded path of the Oregon Country Fair, bullhorn in hand, with Patch following his fish, and Carl prancing around in his pink tutu…Yes, it may look a tiny bit irrational. But logic is one of the strands motivating us, the logic that MLK brought to us all many times when he called for the International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment. (IAACM).

Please take the next logical step, and ask yourself: “How can I best exercise my own leadership in the IAACM?”

David W. Oaks.

David W. Oaks is Executive Director of MindFreedom International, an independent nonprofit coalition for human rights and alternatives in mental health, founded in 1986. David was named by Utne Reader in 2009 as one of “50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World.”

David is a founding board member of Oregon Consumer/Survivor Coalition (OCSC), a nonprofit that is a “united voice for change” for Oregon’s mental health consumer/psychiatric survivor organizations. David is also on the board of the United States International Council on Disability (USICD). In the 1970′s, as a college student at Harvard on scholarship, David experienced psychiatric institutionalization five times, and was diagnosed as an incurable “schizophrenic.” In the start of his senior year in 1976, Harvard placed him as an intern in one of the early psychiatric survivor activist organizations. Through peer-run alternatives, David recovered and graduated with honors in 1977. He has been an international community organizer of mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors ever since. With his wife Debra, he lives in Eugene, Oregon, and loves camping, gardening and reading history.

“The Logic Behind Creative Maladjustment” originally appeared on Oak’s newly launched, personal blog,http://www.davidwoaks.com/.

Viewpoint: The Illegitimate Use of Language

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What Rep. Akin said is a very real statement on how so many people still sadly think about rape and abuse — that there is “legitimate” rape or “forcible” rape and then there is “all that other stuff.”

By now, you have likely heard – maybe more than you want to — all about Rep. Todd Akin’s infamous statement. Everyone has been up in arms, and rightly so. In case you missed it, here it is:

“It seems to be, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, it’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.

Referring to rape in terms of legitmacy has no place in public discourse, whether the reference is a slip of the tongue or not. It is a directly slap in the face of the approximately 25,000 women who every year become pregnant as a result of rape. The statement was so jarring and inappropriate that there has been a universal denouncement of the man’s words. Republicans and Democrats alike have distanced themselves from Akin, calling for him to step out of his Congressional race against Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill.

The fact is, so much has already been said. And I do not feel I can make any productive contribution to the haelstorm in general. So I want to take a step back and ask us to look at this whole controversy from a different perspective. While the news media has made it into a Republican PR disaster that demonstrates the inherent wrongness of the Republican opposition to abortion and an example of the Republican war on women –  advocates for the right have used it to try and emphasize that “one wrong ought not lead to another wrong” –  that abortion cannot be legitimized because of rape.

But we are missing the real issue here: Akin spoke of rape in terms of legitimacy. And yes, the context was abortion. But we’re letting the political pundits and news media and politicians take this moment and turn it into political fodder, feeding off of the pro-life and pro-choice movements. We need to reclaim this.

This hasn’t become a universally declaimed statement because it has anything to do with abortion. It is universally declaimed because it is about rape.

Don’t let anyone make rape into political capital.

Rape is abuse at its worst, the fundamental stripping of another person’s dignity, safety, and humanity.

And this abuse occurs everyday all around the world.

Jerry Sandusky might have you believe otherwise — but then again, Jerry Sandusky would want you to know he did not legitimately rape any of those kids.

What Rep. Akin said is a fundamental betrayal of those who suffered abuse at the hands of other human beings. What Rep. Akin said is not a misstatement when you shift your perspective from the abortion debate to the reality of abuse. What Rep. Akin said is a very real statement on how so many people still sadly think about rape and abuse — that there is “legitimate” rape or “forcible” rape and then there is “all that other stuff.”

What other stuff? Well, you know, the fact that women are emotional and crazy and make stuff up. Or that it is unreasonable to expect a drunk man to pay attention to the fact that his terrified wife could only whisper “stop” while he was raping her.

How else would Akin describe “illegitimate” rape? How would you? Would he or you really look an abuse survivor in the eyes and say, “Well, that sure sucks, but, really, whatever you experience — it’s not legitimately abuse. It’s only sort of rapey.” In terms of both our humanity and any real contribution to the community, what good does making any distinction — any at all — accomplish?

To be sure: people can lie about being raped. People can falsely accuse other people of abusing them. But I think we’re more in danger of not paying attention to the fact that people are being abused than we’re in danger of being deceived by fake victims. Jerry Sandusky might have you believe otherwise — but then again, Jerry Sandusky would want you to know he did not legitimately rape any of those kids.

I’m not accusing Rep. Akin of being pro-rape. Since his statement, he has apologized for his comment and spoke words in public about how he feels bad for victims of abuse. But actions speak louder than words. If Rep. Akin sincerely wants to demonstrate that he does not think prominently in terms of “legitimate” versus “illegitimate” rape, he ought to dedicate significant time and resources to help out victims of rape and survivors of abuse.

Here’s a productive idea: Rep. Akin could become an outspoken advocate for women fighting the parental rights of rapists. That would be a concrete means of showing, rather than telling, that he understands thinking about rape in terms of legitimacy is a mistake.

“Pregnancy from rape creates unimaginable obstacles for women who decide to raise the children they conceive through rape. In the vast majority of states, a rapist has the same custody and visitation rights to a child born through his crime as other fathers enjoy.”

Making a step like this — a step of direct action — would not just be good politics. It would be basic human decency.