‘Joker’ Charged With Felony For Concealing His Face In Public

Virginia isn’t joking about its mask laws.

Winchester police arrested a man dressed as the Joker on Friday and slapped him with a felony ― a grim reminder of the state’s strict mask law that bars almost anyone from concealing their face in public.

Jeremy Putman, 31, was called in for walking around town in the creepy clown villain makeup while carrying a sword, according to a press release. Responding officers were apparently less worried about the weapon, and focused instead on Putnam’s face, which was covered in white paint to emulate Batman’s rival.

“[Putnam] is charged with wearing a mask in public and is being held at the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center under a $2,000 secured bond,” the release states. “Officers do not believe there are additional suspects, but want to remind the community of the seriousness of the crime.”

Indeed, the law, which makes it illegal for anyone over 16 to wear a mask or otherwise conceal their face, was put forth decades ago to combat robbers and the Ku Klux Klan, according to The Washington Post. Masks donned on Halloween, face coverings used during certain weather conditions, and masks worn during performances are some of the few exceptions.

But Virginia is just one of many states with mask laws and policies ― though they’re rarely enforced for their stated purpose.

In Detroit, a similar law was used to thwart protesters wearing Lone Ranger masks during a demonstration in 2000. In New York, police cited protesters during the Occupy Wall Street protests with a little-known mask law that forbids masked people in groups of two or more.

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Chris Pratt Handles Body Shamers In The Most Chris Pratt Way

Chris Pratt is currently filming the sequel to “Jurassic World” and he’s been giving his Instagram followers a peek into the life of a movie star on a diet.

Of course, Pratt being Pratt, he’s managed to make his calorie counting into a rather entertaining experience for all to watch called “What’s My Snack?” In the first installment posted on March 16, Pratt babbles on about his baobab, banana, cacao and chia smoothie. 

#WHATSMYSNACK #JurassicWorld2

A post shared by chris pratt (@prattprattpratt) on Mar 16, 2017 at 5:50am PDT

#JurassicWorld2 #WHATSMYSNACK watch me eat cat food like a good little boy

A post shared by chris pratt (@prattprattpratt) on Mar 16, 2017 at 6:11am PDT

Pratt posted three more episodes of “What’s My Snack” on Instagram, where he ate sashimi, broke his diet by eating olive oil pistachio cake a day early, and tried to rectify his embarrassment over how he handled the cake by devouring a more “manly” snack: an apple. 

Hot new full length episode of #WHATSMYSNACK

A post shared by chris pratt (@prattprattpratt) on Mar 16, 2017 at 4:11pm PDT

Then on Thursday, Pratt, who previously lost a significant amount of weight for his roles in “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” took on some body shamers who claimed the actor looked “skeletal” in his Instagram posts by posting a photo of T. Rex skull along which a rather hilarious caption. 

“So many people have said I look too thin in my recent episodes of #WHATSMYSNACK Some have gone as far as to say I look ‘skeletal.’ Well, just because I am a male doesn’t mean I’m impervious to your whispers,” he wrote. “Body shaming hurts. So to prove my security in the way I look I’m posting a current selfie of me at what I consider a very healthy weight. 500lbs. Zero percent body fat. Totally JK guys. This is a T Rex skull. Nailed you so bad. Omg.”

Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Tom Hanks, Tracy Morgan, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Moore, Padma Lakshmi and a whole host of other stars are teaming up for Stand for Rights: A Benefit for the ACLU. Donate now and join us at 7 p.m. Eastern on Friday, March 31 on Facebook Live. #standforrights2017 

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Jewish man makes anti-semitic bomb threats: is this internalized oppression?

In this Thursday March 9, 2017 file photo, two young men who left a nearby synagogue watch police activity outside the Jewish Children’s Museum following a bomb threat in Brooklyn borough of New York. Jewish groups who warned of a surge in anti-Semitism had pointed to numerous bomb threats against Jewish community centers as the most dramatic example of the trend. Now authorities say an Israeli Jewish teen is responsible, potentially undermining the community’s fight against bigotry and embarrassing those who blamed a far-right emboldened by President Donald Trump. AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

The joint investigations by Israeli law enforcement agencies and the FBI in the arrest of the suspected perpetrator of bomb threats on Jewish community centers in the United States and other countries raises more questions than it answers.

Was this Jewish 19-year-old of dual U.S. and Israeli citizenship the only person involved? And what were his motives?

In response to the arrest, the Anti-Defamation League issued a statement asserting: “These were acts of anti-Semitism. These threats targeted Jewish institutions, were calculated to sow fear and anxiety, and put the entire Jewish community on high alert.”

Though we do not yet have a psychological profile of this young man, if it turns out that he was, in fact, the architect and agent of these terrorist threats, it matters not that he is Jewish. The choice of targets makes these acts anti-Semitic.

Jewish people, and other people of socially marginalized identities and communities, still live in a world that, in many quarters, teaches that we are “less than,” that we do not have a right to exist, and even that we actually do not exist. As such, we can find it difficult at best not to internalize society’s negative teaching about ourselves.

Unfortunately, some of us have taken on the characteristics of our abusers by perpetuating the abuse. I ask, then, what role does internalized oppression play in this equation?

We can understand internalized oppression as the internalization, consciously or unconsciously, of external attitudes, teachings, myths, lies, and stereotypes of inferiority, inadequacy, self-hatred, and sense of “otherness” by the targets of systematic and systemic oppression.

Suzanne Lipsky, referring to racism, discusses the “distress patterns” of internalized oppression: “The result has been that these distress patterns, created by oppression and racism from the outside, have been played out in the only two places it has seemed ‘safe’ to do so. First, upon members of our own group — particularly upon those over whom we have some degree of power or control…. Second, upon ourselves through all manner of self-invalidation, self-doubt, isolation, fear, feelings of powerlessness, and despair.”

The notion that the perpetrator of bomb threats against Jewish institutions could himself come from a Jewish background brings up very traumatic memories for me. I grew up with a family member on my mother’s side who deeply resented his Jewish religious and cultural roots, and, I believe, operated from a place of internalized anti-Semitism.

His parents told me that he refused to date Jews while he was in high school. He straightened and bleached his hair, and he desperately wanted to have nose reduction surgery so he wouldn’t “look Jewish.”

Soon after moving away from home, he joined the so-called “Jews for Jesus” or “Messianic Jewish” movement. He wears around his neck a Star of David with a Christian cross intertwined. On the very infrequent occasions when I see him at family events, he tells me that he “prays for me” and he hopes I will “find Jesus.”

Since an incident in the early 1990s, I have increasingly distanced myself from him. We were driving in his car, when he confronted me by saying that “You are going to Hell twice.”

More amused than shocked, I responded that though I don’t believe in the Heaven/Hell binary, I didn’t realize that a person could go to Hell more than once. That would imply that the Devil allows occupants passes to leave and reenter.

He argued, “You are going to Hell first for being a practicing homosexual.” I responded that I don’t have to “practice” since “I’m already really good at it,” which he did not find humorous.

He then asserted that I’m also going to Hell for not opening my heart and allowing Jesus in as my personal savior. I explained that while his choice might make sense for him, I am happy with how and what I am as a Jewish gay person.

“Just for the sake of argument,” I continued, “as you know, the Nazis murdered many of our Polish mishpucha. Where are our family members today?”

Without hesitation he quipped, “You don’t know they didn’t accept Jesus before the Nazis killed them!”

“Well,” I countered, “since they were practicing Orthodox Jews, I must assume that they did not convert to Christianity when the Nazis marched them into the woods and shot them, or transported and murdered them in concentration camps.”

His response: “Well then. They’re in Hell.”

The rage, the anger, the hatred erupted from the very depths of my being, for this was the most hateful statement I had ever heard.

“Let me out of this car,” I heard myself demand in as constrained a manner as I could muster. Several months passed before I could contact him. When I did, I stated that if we were to have a relationship, Jesus and homosexuality must remain off the table.

Though I have never broached our conversation since that day, and he would most likely not even remember it, I truly hope he no longer believes what he expressed to me that day.

While his is an extreme form of internalized anti-Semitism, I have come to realize that it arises in many forms. We cannot begin the process of unlearning this oppression until and unless we work to become aware of our own distress patterns, for it is much easier to direct our anger and blame – to project — outward onto others, than to look within ourselves to our own injuries.

Though I have been involved as a political activist and community organizer for over 50 years of founding and working for organizations and activist groups, through years of undertaking my “personal” work, on a nearly daily basis, I continually become aware of the “stuff” still in my head: the self-doubts, the shame, the fear of living as a Jewish gay person.

Therefore, to Acknowledge the internalized oppression can be the second step after Awareness, before proceeding to taking Action. This “AAA” 12-step plan to confront addiction can be applied to confronting internalized oppression as well.

For us to work to our fullest potential, we must also work on our “stuff,” the ways in which we have internalized those subtle and not-so-subtle messages, how this has limited us, and how we can dismantle this internalization and move forward.

I hope the suspected instigator of the recent bomb threats will now receive the help he needs.

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Trans wrestler is now allowed to compete against boys, but there is a catch

Transgender wrestler Mack Beggs has been given approval to compete against males, but there’s a catch.

The teen was told that he is now allowed to wrestle boys but only during the off-season.

The policy, which allows Beggs to fight against male opponents, is newly adopted by USA Wrestling. It determines that female to male trans people are only allowed to compete in the male category.

However, this goes against a policy instated by the University Interscholastic League which requires public school students to compete in the gender category that they were assigned at birth.

The policy change comes a month after Beggs won the girls’ state wrestling title – much to the dismay of parents of other contenders who took legal action to sue the 17-year-old.

Parents argued that Beggs had an “unfair advantage” because of his testosterone treatment, although he was literally forced to compete in the girls 110 pound category.

A number of trans-sports activists believe that Beggs’ case could mean a huge change for trans athletes in the future.

Chris Mosier, one of the first athletes to come out as transgender, said that the policy was “not well thought out”.

“Mack is challenging what people thought was a good policy.

“This very well may spark change from people just by seeing how the policy was not well thought out and this is the outcome of following the rules exactly as they are.”

Since his case hit headlines, Beggs has pushed to send an important message to the young trans community.

The wrestler spoke about how he felt suicidal when he was younger, but insisted his “persistence and hardwork” has paid of.

“There’s always going to be another day or another week, you just have to keep going,” he said.

LGBTQ Advocates Horrified By Trump Administration’s Civil Rights Health Pick

WASHINGTON ―While the nation was fixated on the meltdown of Trumpcare, the Donald Trump administration quietly appointed a former conservative think-tank staffer to head the Civil Rights Office at the Department of Health and Human Services, a move LGBTQ advocates fear will undermine the same civil rights protections the office is supposed to enforce.

The civil rights advocates are condemning the appointment of Roger Severino, a former Heritage Foundation staffer, who has argued that same-sex marriage threatens religious liberty and that civil rights protections should not extend to transgender patients.

“This appointment is horrifying,” said Jennifer Pizer, law and policy director for Lambda Legal, which advocates for LGBTQ equality. “It is going to have a serious, probably devastating impact on LGBT people.”

An HHS spokesperson would not say when exactly he was appointed to his position, but civil rights groups drew attention to the job change this week, noting they had “grave concern” about the pick.

Severino has attacked the way the previous Barack Obama administration enforced civil rights protections for the LGBTQ community, particularly in regards to transgender people.

He claimed that allowing people to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity will traumatize female sex abuse victims and be taken advantage of by men. (There is no evidence that gender-segregated restrooms are safer for cisgender women than unisex restrooms, according to Lambda Legal.) Severino has also opposed protections for gender identity when it comes to healthcare.

This is especially relevant to his new job, because the civil rights office at HHS is tasked with making sure people have equal access to healthcare. The office does this in part by collecting complaints of discrimination, investigating them, and enforcing the rules. And the Affordable Care Act has a nondiscrimination provision that the Obama administration, after seeking thousands of public comments, defined as including gender identity and sex stereotyping. (A federal court put the gender identity provision on hold last December.)

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer individuals face unique health challenges—like physical and sexual violence—as well as discrimination by physicians and insurance carriers. LGBTQ patients who feel like they have been discriminated against can always seek private counsel, but the Obama administration provided extra resources.

In 2015, for example, HHS’s Office for Civil Rights entered into an agreement with a Brooklyn hospital to ensure that transgender patients received equal care, like setting up a zero-tolerance policy for derogatory statements by staff.

Severino won’t be able to roll back protections overnight, and his office will still be required to investigate every civil rights complaint. But he will have some discretion in terms of deciding what to prioritize, and what kind of resources to invest. (HHS Secretary Tom Price also has a history of opposing LGBTQ rights.)

It sends a dangerous signal “that someone would be placed in charge of enforcing some of our nation’s most important civil rights laws who doesn’t necessarily believe that discrimination against LGBTQ people is a problem,” said Robin Maril, associate legal director for the Human Rights Campaign.

Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee, called the hire “appalling” in a statement. 

HHS and Severino did not respond to comment on how he plans to ensure LGBTQ patients do not face discrimination. In a statement, Heritage Foundation spokeswoman Marguerite Bowling said that Severino “has a distinguished record of fighting for the civil rights and freedoms of all Americans.”

Advocates also note that this appointment does not appear to reflect all of the progress that has been made on LGBTQ equality. 

“Given all the work that’s been done and the public understanding that’s been built, this is quite outrageous,” Pizer said.