Beyond Despair

By pattrice | 26th May 2009 | Filed under Essay

Originally published in June/July 2007 issue of Satya Magazine.

It was a typical winter night at the Eastern Shore Sanctuary, meaning I was sitting on the couch brooding about big problems while dogs chewed carrot sticks on the carpet and catnip-fueled felines chased each other around the chaotic kitchen. Some new piece of wretched information—probably something about polar bears—had punched me in the stomach. “Why aren’t people doing more about global warming?” I muttered angrily. Elder dog Zami regarded me levelly until it hit me: I am people. Why aren’t I doing more about global warming?

Feeling a bit abashed, I decided to ask the question really rather than rhetorically: Why aren’t people doing more about global warming?

Since I am people, I asked myself first.


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What’s Wrong with Rights?

By pattrice | 19th May 2009 | Filed under Essay

(Originally published in Satya Magazine, October 2005)

Let them eat words. That seemed to me to be the theme of the 2002 UN World Food Summit and parallel NGO Forum for Food Sovereignty. At the Summit, national delegations cut back-room deals to boost corporate agribusiness, all the while applauding themselves for recognizing food as a human right. At the Forum, activists spent so much time pontificating about the right to food that plans to take direct action against hunger fell by the wayside.

Sitting in a Roman auditorium as well-fed activists opined that what starving people need most is more rights, I felt more than a little mystified. It was as if these otherwise rational people believed that, in the words of food policy analyst Devinder Sharma, “the ‘right to food’ is a magical stick that makes the Supermen of the political hierarchy deliver food to the hungry.”

In fact, the “right to food” confers no such fantastic powers on its holders. That right is recognized by the constitutions of the majority of countries where people die daily of hunger and malnutrition. In 2001, India’s Supreme Court affirmed the constitutional right to food. Years later, children still starve as surplus food rots in government storehouses.

Meanwhile, here in the U.S., men no longer have the right to beat their wives but battery remains the number one reason women seek emergency medical care. Worldwide, every person now has the legal right not to be enslaved, but more people are held in bondage than ever before.

Clearly, something’s wrong with “rights.”


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Crossing the Mammalian-Avian Line

By pattrice | 18th May 2009 | Filed under Essay, Feature

(Originally published in the Nov/Dec 2004 issue of Satya Magazine)

Glancing out the window, I see two elderly roosters drinking from a water bowl in the front yard. Fauna has lived with us since 2001, when he arrived in the midst of a colorful crew of roosters who had been evicted from a Pennsylvania farm. Soon after, he struck a love match with Flora, a former egg factory inmate who was one of a group of hens we called “the Anarchists” in honor of their knack for jumping over fences and redistributing wealth.

Flora and Fauna were a devoted couple until she died prematurely, her body weakened by her experiences at the factory farm. Like many aging widowers, Fauna grew socially isolated, spending more and more time indoors and less and less time doing the things he used to love to do.


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Who Would Jesus Kill?

By pattrice | 25th Dec 2008 | Filed under Essay

By pattrice jones

Written on Christmas Day in 2002, this essay has been widely published and reprinted.

As the Christians gather to celebrate the birth of the founder of their religion, I find myself asking a question that I wish Christians would ask themselves: Who would Jesus kill?

Lately many Christians have been using the simple question, “What would Jesus do?” to help them make ethical judgments that are consistent with their religious beliefs. This holiday season, as Americans discuss the prospect of war over dinner tables groaning with factory farmed meat, the most apt variant of “What would Jesus do?” is: Who would Jesus kill?



Conquistadors of the Senses

By pattrice | 27th Nov 2008 | Filed under Essay

by pattrice jones

First published 28 November 2006 by FreezerBox Magazine.

Throwing the homosexuals to the hounds sounds like a metaphor for the Republican Party’s electoral strategy of recent years, but it actually happened back in 1513 in what is now Panama. Then, governor Vasco Nunez de Balboa condemned 50 homosexual Indians to be torn apart by dogs.Seen by both Catholic Conquistadors and Protestant Pilgrims as a sign of godless animality, same-sex pleasure was ruthlessly suppressed throughout the process of the subjugation of the Americas. Today, the conquest of the senses continues, as billions of people and animals are forced to forgo all kinds of natural happiness so that a privileged few can enjoy the empty gluttony that has brought us to the brink of planetary catastrophe.

When Columbus blundered into the Caribbean, sexual freedom — including full acceptance of homosexuality — was the norm in the region.


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Trickle-Down Environmentalism versus Ecosystemic Empathy

By pattrice | 12th Oct 2008 | Filed under Essay

Trickle-Down Environmentalism versus Ecosystemic Empathy
A Meditation on the Occasion of the World Social Forum
28 & 29 January 2003
Porto Alegre, Brazil

pattrice jones

“No, the waters and the mountains do not belong to the mens. But how do we tell that to Bush and Blair?”

I’m at the Fórum Social Mundial and have no answer for the Brazilian musician who earnestly poses that question after admiring the Alice Walker quotation on my t-shirt. How indeed, I wonder, when even the people who are talking back to Bush and Blair do not understand that basic fact.

These days, most progressive environmentalists endorse what might be called the ‘trickle-down’ theory of environmental justice. Just as Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush have asserted that the self-interested choices of rich people ultimately help all of the other economic classes, today’s global justice advocates assert that the self-interested choices of “the people” will ultimately help all of the other species on earth. Both theories amount to little more than wishful thinking.


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Warlords & Condom Queens

By pattrice | 7th Jul 2008 | Filed under Column, Essay

This essay was originally published in September of 1993 as an OUT in Left Field column in the LGBTQ newspaper Between the Lines. OUT in Left Field ran from March of 1993 through January of 1995; Between the Lines was distributed throughout the state of Michigan, USA.

I was hard at work on the promised column on tactics for the queer rebellion when I heard something on the TV that pushed me over the edge. So, that column will have to wait while I ventilate.

What set me off was hearing yet another newscaster refer to an indigenous Somalian leader as a “warlord.” (If you’re thinking, “oh no, now she’s off on foreign policy . . . no wonder they call this column ‘out in left field,’” please bear with me and read on. The relevance to the domestic concerns of U. S. queers will become clearer as we go.)

Leaving aside the question of whether or not this particular so-called “warlord” is evil incarnate, let’s think about words and pictures.