The Equal Rights Amendment and Women’s Equality Coalition & another perspective on COVID

Erica Benson, ERA Campaign Coordinator for Project 28 MO, is interviewed interviewed by Spencer Graves, preceded by another comment on COVID:


COVID, Typhoid Mary, and the money for the media

On January 3 of this year, DemocracyNow interviewed Dr. Peter Hotez, the Director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children’s Hospital, who announced that his organization has developed COVID vaccine that is much easier to produce and is being offered to the entire world without a patent. It is already in production in India, and Dr. Hotez is organizing clinical trials in the US. He published a book almost a year ago on “Preventing the Next Pandemic: Vaccine Diplomacy in a Time of Anti-science“.

He says that one of the primary obstacles to progress against COVID and other infectious diseases is the increase in anti-science and political polarization worldwide. This increase has been largely attributed to the rise of Internet companies, especially Facebook. Facebook is wonderful and terrible: It is wonderful in making it relatively easy for people to maintain relationships with friends and relatives, when it’s not convenient to see them in person.

However, these companies make money from selling clicks to the highest bidder, and people seem most likely to click on something that’s within the realm of they think is plausible. Clickbait is often false but credible, because it’s consistent with preconceptions. For example, if someone complains about “illegal aliens” on Facebook, Facebook’s algorithms will likely offer stories of crimes committed by “illegal aliens” and will likely NOT show research indicating that sanctuary cities are on average safer with higher median incomes. People are more likely to click on the fraud that’s consistent with preconceptions and avoid the reality that’s not. That’s how Internet companies make money.

President Trump’s second National Security Advisor, H. R. McMaster, said that Russian President Putin is using Internet companies like Facebook to weaken the US and its allies.

I think the current anti-science trend began with the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine under President Reagan and the rise of right-wing Talk Radio. However, it has clearly accelerated since the founding of Facebook.

Everyone thinks they know more than they actually do, and the mainstream media, including Facebook, exploit that to benefit those who control the money for the media.

A hundred years ago, Typhoid Mary was giving typhoid to dozens of others, some of whom died. She was completely asymptomatic and refused to believe she could possible be infecting others.

But the issue with COVID is bigger than just the additional people that each infected person is likely to infect: Each person infected provides new opportunities for the disease to mutate. The Delta variant of COVID was first detected in late 2020, and Omicron was reported roughly a year later. If the entire world had responded quickly with massive production and distribution of and mandates for high quality masks early in 2020, Omicron and even Delta likely would not have appeared.

This should NOT be a partisan position. In 2020, May, shortly after the beginning of the COVID pandemic, the US Senate Republican Policy Committee published an analysis of “Legal precedents for epidemic response“. They noted that when George Washington was President, the government closed the nation’s capital during a yellow fever epidemic. Recently the US Supreme Court ruled that President Biden could mandate masks for air travel and vaccination for health care workers but could not mandate such for all large businesses.

I sympathize with the anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers: They are doing what they hear from the media they find credible.

However, you do NOT have a free speech right to drive drunk nor recklessly nor to flaunt government mask mandates. If you do, you should be locked up like Typhoid Mary.

I’m Spencer Graves. This is my position and not an official position of KKFI, its staff nor other volunteers.


Equal Rights Amendment

The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) is an amendment to the US Constitution stating that “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” Project 28 MO is a Kansas City area organization with the mission to make the Equal Rights Amendment the 28th Constitutional Amendment.

On January 27, ERA supporters will stage a major rally to commemorate the second anniversary of the Virginia becoming the 38th state to ratify this amendment.  The number 38 is just over the “three fourths of the several states” threshold in Article V of the US Constitution for approval of amendments.

However, that approval is still contested on a couple of grounds. First, five states later rescinded their ratifications (Idaho, Kentucky, Nebraska, Tennessee, and South Dakota).  Second, when the US Congress officially submitted the ERA to the states for ratification, they set a deadline of 1979 by which time the ratification should have been complete.  That deadline was extended to 1982, which also has been passed.

Because of these questions, the ERA has been referred to a committee of the US Senate to decide whether to officially declare that it has been ratified or has still either because of the rescissions or the deadlines.

Kansas was the sixth state to ratify the ERA, six days after Congress officially placed it before the state legislatures for ratification. Missouri has NOT ratified it.  To be precise, the Missouri House of Representatives approved it in 1975, but its Senate did not.

Project 28 MO hosted an ERA rally and lobbying day in April 2019 at the Missouri state capitol.  The Senate Rules, Joint Rules and Ethics Committee agreed to have a hearing to discuss Missouri’s ratification of the ERA.  Sadly, the resolution didn’t make it out of committee.


Women’s Equality Coalition of Greater Kansas City

In addition to the ERA, the Women’s Equality Coalition of Greater Kansas City has in past years organized events around the anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, by which women got the right to vote in the US.  That went into effect August 18, 1920.  The
Women’s Equality Coalition organized events in 2020 celebrating its centennial.  Last year the web site of the Women’s Equality Coalition listed six different events from August 14 to 27 celebrating Women’s Equality Week.

The Women’s Equality Coalition is a coalition of several different organizations, including but not limited to the following:

Loretto of KC
Zonta KC  II
Stand UP KC-Fannie Lou Hamer
United Nations Association-Women’s Council

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