Bigotry is Bullying, Fighting Bigotry is Not

Listen folks, calling a homophobic bigot a bigot is not bullying, just like calling a racist a racist or a misogynist a misogynist, isn’t bullying. And students and teachers actively working to create a school that is free from homophobia certainly isn’t bullying, it’s heroism. However, there have been several statements by public figures lately that have suggested that challenging injustice is a kind of reverse prejudice. For example, Fr. Johannes M. M. Smith wrote an opinion piece last month, responding to my comments at the June Pride flag raising at City Hall in which I stated that coming to our celebration and calling the gay and lesbian residents of this City the “exaltation of immorality”, “perversion”, “Satanic”, a “scandalous abomination” and in league with the “principalities of darkness” was bullying. He suggested in his statement that my characterization of him was libelous and bullying. It was not. And then last week at the Vestal School Board, in response to the passionate efforts to remove Tennessee State Senator Stacey Campfield’s picture from the school’s Wall of Fame for his homophobia, and inaccurate statements about the transmission of HIV/AIDS, the board president Ms. Meyer similarly suggested that these efforts were bullying. They are not.

Speaking truth to power is not bullying. But continuing to celebrate a homophobic bigot and forcing your gay and lesbian students to walk by his picture every day is. Taking away privileges (or honors) because of bad behavior is something teachers and schools are familiar with. It should be a pretty easy call for educators that hurting gay kids (as research shows the Senator’s statements actually do) is bad behavior. But just in case you’re not sure, on July 1st, the Dignity for All Students act became law in New York. This law mandates that schools intervene whenever possible to correct and prevent bullying and harassment and protect gay and lesbian kids (along with so many others that are often the targets of bullies). Let’s hope the Vestal School Board does their job and implements this law to the fullest and makes Vestal Schools safe for all their students.

Dr. Sean G. Massey
Faculty in Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies
Binghamton University

I really can’t, I’m no Mahatma Gandhi


June 24, 2012

Do you really know Gandhi or even Martin Luther King, Jr.? You may think you do, but I believe that in some cases, we need to demystify our heroes so that we can more easily support their actions.
Recently we at were given a little book, What Gandhi Says About Nonviolence, Resistance And Courage by Norman G. Finkelstein, to review. The book is quite readable as it “fleshes out” the self-contradictory nature of this Indian icon who nonviolently led his people to independence from imperial England. Subsequently, Gandhi’s actions served as a template for M.L.K., Jr.’s anti-segregation mission in southern America. Appropriately, both men are held in the highest esteem worldwide. I wonder if their mythic stories have inadvertently caused some of us to feel less able to emulate them.

Many Hands Food Coop

Hey folks! The Many Hands Food Co-op (MHFC) is looking for volunteers to help canvas in Binghamton this upcoming weekend, Friday April 13th and Saturday April 14th! MHFC is a start-up project, meaning that the Binghamton community is currently looking to run a coop soon in downtown Binghamton!
To register please click below- it takes less than 2 minutes:…

Gateway to Binghamton:

Gateway to Binghamton:
Mayor Ryan and Partners Break Ground on Court Street Gateway Project

Improvements include the street’s first repaving in 25 years, multi-faceted streetscaping, reverse angle parking, traffic calming devices, water main valve replacements and a modern roundabout at the Court/Chenango Street intersection

$2.7 million Phase I investment funded 95% by federal and state funds and will support 23 local jobs; roundabout feature will improve traffic flow, accounts for just $37,500 in City funds and will save more than $260,000 over 20 years

Project one of many City has undertaken in recent years with federal and state funds; despite strong advocacy by Congressman Hinchey, Senator Gillibrand and others, such projects have slowed in last two years due to budget cuts in Washington and Albany

Save the Castle on the Hill

The magazine Dwell is sponsoring a contest to save historic buildings and the Inebriate Asylum or Castle on the Hill has been nominated by PAST. Please, Please, Please, vote for this project!
at this link:

New York State Inebriate Asylum

The New York State Inebriate Asylum, built in 1858, was the very first facility in this country for the medical treatment of alcoholism. It was founded by J. Edward Turner and designed in the Castellated Gothic style by architect Isaac Gale Perry, who would go on to become one of New York State’s leading architects. Fifteen years after admitting its first patients, the Inebriate Asylum closed and the facility was converted into an “Asylum for the Chronic Insane.” As a mental institution it continued as the central building of an expanding, self-sufficient mental health campus that at its peak housed 4,000 patients. In 1993 part of the façade collapsed, the building was evacuated and it has remained vacant ever since. In 2008 its 150th anniversary was celebrated. This building should be preserved because of its historical pioneering significance in the treatment of alcoholism, its strikingly unique style of architecture, and its service as a mental health institution for well over a century. Known locally as the “Castle on the Hill,” the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is a National Historic Landmark, it is abandoned and deteriorating.

Blood on the Tracks

For any male coming out of high school in the 1960’s, the Vietnam War became a dominating imperative that could not be side-stepped. The rudimentary process of registering for the draft became an increasingly nerve-wracking rite of passage as the war began to escalate, first with troop deployments followed in short order by body bags. Patriotic fervor and duty often became resignation and despair as the war seemed to have no end; the psychological state of the country worsened as criticism went from academic teach-ins and mass demonstrations to civil disobedience and sporadic violence.

One person who “covered the water front” in this regard was S. Brian Willson, who spoke at the First Unitarian Society of Ithaca on Thursday, November 10th. Seeing him step onto the stage gave me chills. Although six years older (age 70), I looked at him as I examine myself and my actions from that time period. We both have graying hair, but his body is much less complete than mine having a pair of prosthetic limbs, limbs that were not lost during the war but as a consequence of it. Willson had come to relate his journey of life as exemplified in his recently published book “Blood on the Tracks”.

101 Reasons to Ban Fracking


101 Reasons that High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing (HVHF) Needs to be Banned in New York State
1. If risk to our aquifers were the only reason HVHF needs to be banned, it would be sufficient.
2. If risk to our food quality and supply were the only reason HVHF needs to be banned, it would be sufficient.
3. If risk to our air quality were the only reason HVHF needs to be banned, it would be sufficient.
4. If risk to runaway climate change were the only reason HVHF needs to be banned, it would be sufficient.
5. If HVHF’s externalized costs were the only reason HVHF needs to be banned, it would be sufficient.
6. If the lack of disposal solutions for produced water and drill cuttings were the only reason HVHF needs to be banned, it would be sufficient.
7. If roadways clogged with heavy trucks, moving through established communities were the only reason HVHF needs to be banned, it would be sufficient.
8. If increased crime were the only reason HVHF needs to be banned, it would be sufficient.
9. If increased traffic accidents were the only reason HVHF needs to be banned, it would be sufficient.
10. If jeopardizing the lives of emergency response teams were the only reason HVHF needs to be banned, it would be sufficient.

Economic Development and the Cost to the Citizens


by Dave Duncan
previously printed in the Bridge newspaper, but still timely

For many years the municipalities of Broome County and the County itself have been suffering from a drastic income shortfall. Reasons include the decline in population related to the manufacturing plants that have relocated elsewhere, the declining real incomes of the remaining workers, an increase in lower paying services jobs, the aging of the population and the necessity of maintaining the crumbling infrastructure. The problem cannot solely be attributed solely to current or past elected officials.

We are now in a position where our representatives and the Chamber of Commerce tell us, that we, the average residents must pay more taxes, while at the same time having our basic services cut. Each new budding politician campaigns on the platform of correcting the mismanagement of prior office holders but when it comes to protecting the interests of the financial and corporate elites, nothing changes. Yet there is another, unexplored, part of the equation.

Local Politics: Sean Massey

Elections all over the country rewarded a progressive agenda. There was a big win for collective bargaining in Ohio. In Buffalo, Democrats unexpectedly won several local seats. The state of Maine repealed a Republican effort to deprive voters rights.

Yet, in Binghamton NY Republicans won the County Executive seat and two Council seats. Regrettably, among them was Sean Massey, Even a prominent Republican said, “I can’t believe he lost. Sean Massey really worked hard and did so much more than anyone else. We won’t see that again.” Sean, who is an assistant professor at Binghamton University, a restaurant owner (Tranquil Bistro), co-chair of the Commission on Downtown Business Development, and an active force in many local organizations, won the seat from Chris Papastrat by a mere 14 votes (if memory recalls) four years ago. On Election Day, Papastrat won it back by a much bigger margin.

Why? Elections are hard to analyze, but it may be that Sean got caught up in an anti-Ryan move, and certainly an anti-incumbent sentiment. Ryan’s tolerance of the Occupy Binghamton movement and earlier support of the Cost of War clock may have added up. According to one canvasser for the Working Families Party, “The voters in that district were angry, out of proportion to their concerns. One was the $3 garbage labels for oversized items, even though it is estimated that it has saved the city $70,000 in the first 9 months in user fees at the landfill. Another concern was money spent on the Southside Commons that some voters felt could have been better spent on road repair.” (The Commons was built by other grant money, however.) “Late ads from the challenger, Chris Papastrat, also seems to have riled people up,” according to this worker. Many voters were troubled by the all Democratic council and Papastrat is seen as an affable, benign, if not overly intellectual figure. And perhaps an anti-gay sentiment swayed some voters as well.

What is clear is that City Council has lost a unifying figure, a very smart policy person, and a true leader. Sean is not going away, but Binghamton has lost his considerable talents as a Council person and that’s really sad.

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