My name is danah boyd and I'm a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and the founder/president of Data & Society. Buzzwords in my world include: privacy, context, youth culture, social media, big data. I use this blog to express random thoughts about whatever I'm thinking.

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pre-election party

One of my favorite things to do each year is to throw a pre-election party where friends gather to discuss different candidates and propositions (because we live in California). It’s a good excuse to hang out with friends, drink some wine and inform each other about the upcoming election. Each person takes a candidate or a proposition and researches the pros/cons and which organizations/people are supporting or opposing them/it. I’m a strong believer that every citizen in this country has a responsibility to inform themselves and vote.

Last night, i threw one such party and we had a blast discussing all of the wacky Schwarzenegger propositions. It’s a scary election in California because it’s a special propositions election and i fear that a lot of people won’t turn out to vote. If you live in California, please plan on voting on November 8 – there are some serious measures that could have long-term impact and i fear that many won’t turn out.

Here are a few that i’d like to highlight:

NO on Proposition 73 (Parental notification for minors seeking an abortion) – this is another horrifying move by the Republican party to engage in anti-choice tactics by peeling away freedoms. It is a condescending ageist proposition framed as protectionist.

NO on Proposition 75 (Public union dues) – this is an anti-union proposition intended to weaken unions by adding bureaucratic layers under the guise of giving union members choice (which they already have). Unions are the one group who can stand up to big business and vested interests want to stop them.

NO on Proposition 78; YES on Proposition 79 (Prescription drug discounts) – these are competing propositions with the former being backed by the pharms and the latter being backed by every consumer group. Prop 79 requires pharms to help offset costs for low-income citizens in order to do business in California. 78 looks good, but there is nothing that mandates participation by pharms and could end up costing California millions of dollars to set up nothing.

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9 comments to pre-election party

  • Ed

    Hopefully a quick question, not intended to incite anger: Do you view parental notification re: abortion as fundamentally different from parental notification re: tatoos/piercings? Or is this just a special case? I have my own views on this which, while different from yours, are not entirely so.

  • Yes, i do, but i also don’t believe in parental notification for tattoos/piercings.

    There is (sadly) a high correlation between unsafe homes (and abusive parents) and teenage pregnancy. There is also a correlation between socio-economic class and teenage pregnancy. This exacerbates the argument that you could just go to a different state. Most poor kids lack the mobility or resources to go to other states and i’m afraid of what they might do if pregnancy was limited. Going to court is *not* a good option.

    Teens who are seeking abortions are usually in a bad position as it is. They aren’t using abortion as a whee-this-is-fun contraceptive. This is a really fucking hard choice to make and yet, they know that they don’t have the resources (mental or emotional) to raise a child. Realizing this is critical and when they make the scary step to seek an abortion, they should be respected in their decision.

    There’s also no exceptions for rape or incest except to go to court. Wouldn’t it be fun to get pregnant by your uncle and have to ask your parents for permission to abort it? Yay!

    The problem with this plan is that it does absolutely nothing to minimize teen pregnancy, which i would assume is the end goal. Fear doesn’t work that way. I was really horrified when a friend of mine working in schools was asked yesterday by a 13-year-old how babies are made. She didn’t know what a condom was. She didn’t know how one got pregnant. Holy shit that’s scary. It pisses me off to no end to think about how much sex ed has been completely removed from the schools.

    It’s so much fun to watch our society refuse to educate and punish girls all in one foul sweep. You’d think we were go back to the dark ages.

  • I must confess that social liberals supporting abortion seems counter intuitive and I don’t really understand it. I see social liberals as the ones who should be working to protect life. More self-centered right wingers are the ones I always expect to support abortion. It’s all backwards.
    BTW are you pro-choice on guns or anti-choice? A lot of people who claim to be all about choice seem to want to restrict other rights like gun ownership and private property rights.

  • Abortion is such a touchy topic, it’s almost a lose lose situation. I myself am pro-life but I see your logic in your pro-choice mentality.

    Let me ask you something? Where does the sanctity of life start for you, if not birth?

  • Birth is about right. Society definitely has a responsibility to do everything in its power to protect lives. This includes architecting situations where people are supported in creating lives in a healthy and functional manner, having the ability to support them (economically and emotionally). There is no point in creating a life where neglect or resentment is there at the beginning. This benefits no one. I do not see a fetus as a life, but a potential life, a potential life connected deeply to the actual life of a potential mother. We live in a society today that is highly individualistic. People have to take care of themselves. There aren’t tribes, there is very little in the way of collective communities around children. When a potential mother is on her own, trying to make ends meet on a minimum wage salary with no support or structure for support, creating a child is a disaster. We simply don’t live in a society set up to support children or parents – everyone’s expected to do it on their own and just cope. Well, that’s rubbish and a huge chunk of the problem.

    This is also the problem that i have with guns. The purpose of guns on the streets is to threaten and potentially kill. People say you should have a gun for protection. Well, two guns in such a threatening situation almost always end up in disaster and lives are ruined in the process. That’s not choice – that’s terrible architecture on a social level. The laws surrounding guns are set up to protect the ability to create a militia, not the ability to take law into your own hands. I’m all in favor of the militia part of gun ownership and i can cope with the rifles. But not the street version. And i don’t know the best way to solve that on a legislative level.

    For me, the point of analysis on all of these levels is how to create a healthy society that maximizes individual and collective well-being. If we thinking about creating a world in God’s image, it needs to start with figuring out how to architect (physically and socially) a functional society. This means making some hard decisions that don’t seem intuitively functional from a distance.

  • Well said..

    Granted society is not perfect. Everyone wants a blessed utopia of perfection but it will not happen, especially with today’s partisan politics. Close mindedness is rampant. This in itself is why the debate on these controversial subjects continues.

    Bridging the gap between liberal and conservative is the first step. Collaborative thought will lead to political innovation, creating a better society in whole.

  • Hey there,

    I just wanted to comment on a different initiative you listed!

    I’m with Consumers Union, nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, and we strongly support Prop 79! Prop 79 is the only enforceable drug discount plan on the ballot that will provide significant discounts for Californians who need medicine. If the drug companies wanted to voluntarily give us discounts, they could have done so without this hugely expensive campaign.

    Instead, they don’t want to give discounts and we have to fight for them. That said, Consumers Union has just released a quick animation about this fight between the drug companies and the people of California — to gear everyone up for the battle in the last days before the election. Take a look and have a chuckle! http://cu.convio.net/MedicineCity

  • p@

    “Each person takes a candidate or a proposition and researches the pros/cons and which organizations/people are supporting or opposing them/it.” – Zephoria

    I really like this idea. I’ll dish your propers when I get my hommies to try this out come next election. Might not work in all social groups, but I really trust that my friends would be able to lay down the facts and we could all help each other make informed decisions about our votes.

    p@ – austin tx

    ps. Did I miss something? the rest of the comments are hammered around abortion spewage. why the dealie? I mean, even if it passes (prop 73), like it has in a lot of other states, including my own, I see the tide of reform eventually just washing it all away.

    I guess people will suffer because of it, but we are representational government, and I think sometimes it takes that suffering to convince the masses there is a problem. I don’t agree with that process, but I understand how it works.

    I also understand that you can’t stop principles, knowledge, understanding, empathy, and a slew of other words that help describe one of the beautiful aspects of human beings: we learn from mistakes.

    You’re right in doing your part, trying to treat the wound, not the symptoms. “We simply don’t live in a society set up to support children or parents.” That rings too true. I hope your fellow cali’s get together and really help keep us moving in the right direction.

  • ummm….ya, it really sounded like your party had a lot of different viewpoints. Was it truly educating one another or just preaching to the choir? I probably don’t have fancy diplomas like you all, but i can spot a load of crap when i see it.