Christ died for his own sins . . . 2nd annual Slingshot Wingnut Award for Lifetime Achievement

At Slingshot’s 18th birthday party, the Slingshot Collective awarded the second annual Wingnut prize for Lifetime Achievement to our comrade Michael Diehl. A short biography of Michael appears below. Slingshot created the Wingnut prize to recognize direct action radicals who have dedicated their lives to the struggle for alternatives to the current depressing, rotten system.

Wingnut is the term some of us use to refer to folks who walk on the wild side of reality — rejecting social, political and economic norms while fighting for a different world. A wingnut is more than just another boring radical, and more than just a nutcase — he or she is a blend of the best parts of both.

For 2007, we hope to award two Wingnut Awards for Lifetime Achievement: one for the East Bay scene, and one global award. Please send us your nominations along with why a particular person should be awarded the wingnut title for 2007. Someone must have at least 25 years of “service” to get the award.

Biography of Michael

Michael showed an early proclivity for activism in fourth grade in Windham, N.H. when he refused to stand for the pledge of allegiance and when he organized a boycott of music class because the students were being forced to sing Christmas music. He notes that this atheist action is ironic since he finally ended up as a dedicated pagan. In high school in the 1970s, Michael published an underground high school paper called Threshold. He organized a petition drive against mid-term exams which he got 80 percent of his fellow students to sign. “In high school I came to realize that in my writings I was espousing an anarchist criticism of the school system,” he notes. He recalls hating school, although he also founded an alternative school called the Alternative Learning Project which still exists today.

Michael attended Antioch college but because there were so many activist oriented students, he got into other things, among them, mid-1970s punk rock. He notes that he was “really into dancing” (he still is) and that he had “a lot of anger — punk gave me an outlet.” Michael dropped out of Antioch for a while and ended up in Berkeley for the first time in 1976 as a homeless street squatting gutter punk. He eventually finished school with a degree in early childhood education which he’s never used all that much.

During the 1980s, Michael was mostly homeless and was less explicitly political. He made art and got deeply into meditation. It was meditation that eventually told him that he should “get back involved in the world.”

Michael joined the 924 Gilman Street Project, an all-ages, volunteer run punk club, in the late 1980s. He was first involved in the art committee — he wanted to paint the walls. He eventually became manager and helped the club become a collective and a non-profit corporation — it was originally a project of Maximum Rock’n’Roll/Tim Yohannon. When the city wanted to close Gilman down, Michael helped organize 150 punks to show up to the city zoning commission meeting, and the city backed down. Gilman will celebrate its 20th birthday this year. Michael’s involvement in Gilman street brought him back to politics when he was involved with the club’s stand against racist skinheads. Michael spent a lot of time at Gilman offering counseling and advice to the younger punks, leading him eventually to the Berkeley Free Clinic, where he has focused on mental health and peer counseling.

Michael originally worked for the Free Clinic as a fundraiser but eventually became a key part of the Peer Counseling Collective which provides alternative mental health services. Michael is currently chairman of the Berkeley Mental Health Commission, a mental health advocate, and a member of the Radical Mental Health Collective.

In the 1990s, Michael became involved with the struggle to defend Berkeley’s People’s Park from University of California efforts to gentrify the park by building a volleyball court there. At around the same time, he devoted significant efforts to homeless advocacy, struggling to defeat city efforts to ban panhandling and harass homeless street youth. He helped win a federal court case against the city’s anti-panhandling/sitting on the sidewalk law. He was involved with an 11 day, 60 person strong Berkeley Homeless Union camp out in front of City Hall.

Michael became a member of the police monitoring group Copwatch to try to limit police abuse. In 1999 he helped Copwatch stand down the police chief and 40 officers who were trying to break up Camp KPFA outside the threatened radio station. He also got a radio show on pioneering unlicensed micro-radio station Free Radio Berkeley. He is rumored to still be involved in micro-radio on Berkeley Liberation Radio, 104.1 FM.

When asked why he deserved the 2006 Wingnut Award for lifetime achievement, Michael murmured “because I’m crazy!” Michael is well appreciated in the east bay for his unique ability to mix politics, punk, crazy dancing, paganism and street action. Michael walks everywhere he goes. “I got my top hat handed to me by a homeless woman and since then have been known as ‘the mayor of the streets’.” he added. Michael’s wise, radical and joyful presence is the very definition of wingnut-ism.


Re-Membering Students for a Democratic Society

Folks across the country have recently revived the 1960s new left student organization Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and are planning a national convention during the summer of 2006 — the first since 1969. The time and location are still to be determined. There are already more than 60 local SDS chapters across the US with new ones forming weekly. The idea of re-forming SDS has taken off rapidly, perhaps signaling a widespread desire for a national, radical student organization that can be independent of existing sectarian groups and that can provide a space for investigation, critical thought and ultimately, action. The key for a new SDS to achieve relevance will be its ability to go beyond historical precedents and create its own, modern forms of theory, practice and community.

SDS in History

The original SDS played a key role in the radical movement during the 60s — opening up a radical political space known as the new left that stood between the older 1930s inspired-left and mainstream establishment liberalism. While SDS had a complex history that evolved and changed between its founding in 1960 and its demise in 1969, one of its key innovations was a push for participatory democracy — small-d democracy in which ordinary workers, students and people could have direct involvement in decisions effecting their lives. Much radical analysis that activists in 2006 take for granted was created by SDS.

Many people are familiar with the late 1960s incarnation of SDS — a period of mass organization focusing largely on the anti-Vietnam war struggle which eventually spawned the Weather Underground. During the early part of the 1960s, SDS was a much smaller, more academic and theoretically explorative organization. In 1962, SDS published the Port Huron Statement which served as a groundbreaking manifesto describing the new left project.

Part of SDS’s early political strength was that its politics were up for debate, learning and growth rather than being set in stone. It provided a big tent — a model of a radical community that permitted people to plug in at many different levels. Growing as it did from academic institutions, it was willing to gather evidence as an organization and re-evaluate its efforts based on experimentation. SDS played a key role in helping its members understand the connections between various single issue “causes” and develop a more coherent analysis of modern capitalism and the modern state.


Organizers behind the re-formation of SDS note that the original SDS formed out of a political vacuum — establishment liberalism, as well as the institutional left, were both discredited and ill-equipped to participate in social change. The situation looks somewhat similar in 2006, although with numerous differences. Issues of civil rights, gender, queer liberation, neoliberalism, economic injustice, war and the environment — barely present at the beginning of the 1960s — are now well developed social movements.

Unlike in 1960, there are numerous existing national radical networks — Indymedia, Food Not Bombs, Earth First, IWW and Infoshops to name just a few. While there is no explicitly student based radical network of which this writer is aware, many national radical networks include students as well as youth who aren’t in school. In other words, “student” is not the sharply defined social status that it might have been at one point. Many people young and old drift in and out of school. A new SDS will have to figure out a niche and a purpose.

One potential niche for a new SDS could be to invest intellectually rigorous energy in political theory. The original SDS, in addition to producing the Port Huron Statement, produced a constant stream of position papers and research documents. By contrast, the majority of modern radical groups seem to focus on tactics and activity — making websites, planning protests and conferences, keeping Infoshops, publications, and food programs going — but fail to spend significant time studying and understanding theory which might inform what projects to undertake and how to undertake them.

Could the new SDS create a Port Huron statement for now — an organized and comprehensive articulation of radical values?

Another potential for the new SDS is the opportunity for radical cross-generational cooperation. The new SDS organizers are in close contact with a number of key players from the original SDS days. Many of these once-student organizers now have 45 years of radical experience under their belts. Sharing information and wisdom across the generations is never easy — younger activists have a hard time connecting with older ones, and vice versa. It appears likely that this summer’s national convention of SDS will include a caucus of original SDS members.

Some chapters of SDS have been playing with the acronym– for instance, Seniors for a Democratic Society or Solidarity and Democratic Struggle. Whichever direction SDS may take, it is clear that the historical legacy of SDS is inspiring folks to organize. Hopefully, SDS will go beyond just another on-line discussion forum and will translate into real world discussion and struggle.

SDS is having a SDS Northeast Regional Meeting at Brown University in Providence, RI on April 23 from 11 – 6. For a good history of SDS, there are a ton of books including SDS by Kirkpatrick Sale, Democracy is in the Streets by James Miller’s or The New Left Revisited edited by Paul Buhle and John McMillian. Or see the film “Rebels with a Cause.” For more information on SDS chapters in your area, historical documents from the original SDS, and the date and location for the 2006 national convention (which has not been determined as of the writing of this article) check

Many Next Meetings

One can imagine my gladness to see a re-energizing of the memory and ideals and activism of Students for a Democratic Society.

I wrote in Slingshot a year or so ago reporting on talk of re-membering SNCC and SDS, and calling as it were for “the next meeting of SDS.” I am glad to see “next meetings” happening all over.

I have seen many ways that things we’ve tried have been deflected and beaten. A renewal of spirit is needed, not chastened by past errors, inadequacies and hard knocks. Students have the opportunity to put their studies to practice in the world. That the new SDS took initiative in high school is a good sign. A middle schooler at last week’s SDS town meeting in Ann Arbor describing intimidation against wearing a no-war t-shirt, saying, “if there isn’t free speech, there is no democracy”.

So what is democracy? Democratic society, from the ground up? Every one able to participate in the decisions that affect our lives and the opportunity to get involved — a place for everyone at the table, all voices, all voices?

What about class struggle? How to change the system? What about the class war the ruling rich wage against the rest of us? How to do non violence in the midst of a war system is the challenge for democracy — to make revolution without executions — to reclaim the commons.

At its best, SDS of old was a good time with a sense of humor. In that radical spirit I pass on the “manna pesto of the Revolutionary Garden Party (organarchist vangardeners)”:

Squash the state — freeze the zukes — raise vegetables not rents — weed out the pesticide pushers — agribusiness equal farmageddon — overturn the soil — compost the corporations — gives peas a chance — farm ecology not pharmacology — remember: resistance is fertile — cultivate a sense of humor — hoe hoe hoe

I consider “SDS” an inclusive inter-networking of activists radicals and Scholars, Students, Seniors, Survivors, Seekers, Sisters, Singers, Speakers, Satirists, Sociologists, Socialists, Semites, Slackers, Soldiers and any other designation for Democratic Society. Some day soon. Solidarity in Democratic Struggle. Join.

Infoshops sprout like mushrooms

Here are some more infoshops and other liberated spots that folks have turned us on to recently that are not listed in the 2006 Organizer. Only one is a new space. If you know of a place that other people should know about, let us know.

Slingshot is also happy to announce that a constantly updated version of the radical contact list printed in our organizer is now available on our website: Since there are no space limitations on a website (unlike in a book) we hope to include listings of many more places on the website than we do in the organizer, along with additional information. Let us know your suggestions on how we can improve our list. Happy trails!

INERTIA books & records – Jacksonville, FL

A new distro / DIY culture / music-book-zine store that just opened featuring a cafe with vegan desserts and a collection of pamphlets and zines (anarchism, DIY culture, animal / political / social activism, vegan / vegetarianism, etc.). They have weekly shows as well as game night and crochet-crusade/stitch-n-bitch meetings. 820 Lomax St., Jacksonville, FL 32204 (904) 613-7142

Feed Your Head Books – Salem, MA

It just opened and features radical, feminist, DIY books, zines and other stuff. They hope to use the space to host groups and events. 272 Essex St., Salem, MA 01970 978-744-4009,

ZAPP – Seattle, WA

The Zine Archive and Publishing Project at the Richard Hugo House features a zine library and sponsors workshops on self-publishing. They are about to open a workspace for zine-makers. They are seeking zine donations. Open Mon-Tues 1-9, Wed. – Sat 1-5. 1634 11th Ave., Seattle, WA 98122, 206 322-7030. Go around back to the basement.

Root Cellar Cafe & Zine Library – Bard College

They have zines, a meeting space for community action groups in the fields of fair labor, feminism, animal rights, anti-war activism, social justice, plus children’s book story time, and a heap of organic vegan food and coffee. Open M-F 2 p.m. – midnight at 0 Stone Row Drive, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY; mail: PO Box 5000, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12504

Rebel Books -Wilmington, NC

An independent book and retail store “committed to the revolutionary power of love and art, despite these corporate times.” They have a performance space for local and visiting artists. 1701 Wrightsville Ave. Wilmington, NC 28403, 910.251.8395

Green Lantern Cabaret – Winona, MN

Froseph in Winona says the Green Lantern is “a really intimate place with all sorts of fun things to do.” It hosts the Winona zine library, the Everland collective book library, and many shows, meetings, and other events. 571 East 3rd Street-Winona, MN 55987, (507) 453-9520

All Peoples Unite Infoshop – Fayetteville, AR

They have a zine library and radical archive open by appointment after their old space closed last July. Their main project is starting a bicycle recyclery. 617 S. Government Ave. Apt. C Fayetteville, AR.

The Basement – Manchester, UK

They are a radical bookshop, infoshop, vegan cafe and exhibition space that opened at the end of 2004. They have a library and free internet. “We want somewhere to represent the energy and ideas of people who think there is more to life than just shopping. . . . We’re not just a shop, but a gateway to another world.” Open Wed-Sat noon – 6. 24 Lever St., Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester M1 1DZ, UK 0161 237 1832

Changes or Places that may have closed

• The Radish has a new address – 417 N. Boonville Ave. Springfield, MO 65806

• We got mail returned from the Biblioteca Social Reconstruir in Mexico City – if anyone knows whether or not it still exists, let us know.

• Kelly went looking for Art is a Hammer in Indianapolis, IN and couldn’t find it. We sent them a letter but they didn’t respond.

• The No Borders! Collective space in Detroit, MI has closed and the collective has dissolved.

Bolivia's New Hope?

“Case Closed: The Constituent Assembly Will Only Be A Reform”, blares the headline. “It will change, at most, 20% of the existing Constitution.” The past few months, walking through the streets of downtown La Paz, the headlines of the newspapers hung by clothespins on the sides of the newspaper kiosks which dot the sidewalks of the city have consistently been about political maneuvering in the process of convening the Constituent Assembly. La Constituyente, as Bolivians refer to it, is where many have placed their hopes for resolving Bolivia s ongoing social issues by re-writing the rules of the game.

A new Constitution created by and for the majority of the population has been a uniting demand of social movements since 2000, and a key election promise of Evo Morales. But now it appears that it will be little more than a second Parliament, convoked via existing systems of representational democracy. The goal is to reform the constitution while respecting the existing structures of the state, the market, and private ownership.

In the words of Miguel Lora, “The popular mobilizations of the last five years demanded the total reconstruction of the excluding state and of the economy at the service of the rich and transnationals. They demanded direct deliberation by the people and recognization of organizative forms different from liberal models imposed by the West, including conceptions of private property. The gas wars and the water wars were characterized by a direct confrontation with big private property to replace it with public and communal property, especially in the case of natural resourses like water and gas.”

The Constituyente was originally envisioned as a radically democratic means by which to re-create the country. As Raul Prada writes in El Jugete Rabioso, a La Paz periodical, indigenous organizations conceived of the Constituyente “as an act of constitution…the instrument par excellence with which to begin a process of radical decolonization.” “When the Constituyente is revoked, it signifies the end of the established constitutional order. The existing cycle of power is finished. It is necessary to begin a new form of designing the State, the nation, and society. This is why they say that the power of the Constituyente is unlimited.” The Constityente is of an absolute nature, designed for the act of creation, refounding.

It is, of course, precisely for these reasons that social movements will not see the constituyente they envision – directly democratic and with unlimited power to rewrite the rules that government and the economy are run by. It is too dangerous, too radical. It would be, essentially, revolution carried out through legal channels.

Evo Morales is between a rock and a hard place, and will be for the rest of his term. He was elected by a population that wants deeper changes then the existing system can handle without unleashing a full-on class war. This would most likely happen by provoking armed insurrection by elites desperate to maintain their power and priviledge, economic warfare carried out by the international financial community, and/or intervention by the United States government. Simultaneously, Morales has the job-description of trying not to get the people who elected him killed or plunged into an economic crisis. Keeping the powerful happy does not exactly go hand in hand with real change.

However, it must be noted that sending in the marines is defiantly not en vogue in the way it used to be, at least in Latin America. Indirect use of violence or the threat of violence is preferable. So instead the United States pushes through a free-trade agreement with Columbia -Bolivia’s single most important buyer of soy beans, Bolivia s single most important export – which effectively commits Columbia to purchasing US grown soybeans despite a pre-existing trade agreement with Bolivia. When objections are raised from Bolivia, the Columbian government demurely replies that the question of modifying the treaty to allow for continued Bolivian imports is up to the US. At this point, in the resulting furor with soy farmers threatening “to take this government down with us if we go under”, George Bush generously offers “to be Bolivia s best friend”. Give this impudent little country a reminder of who is really in control.

It should be noted that most of the country would barely be touched if the soy sector went under – the money goes straight to the agricultural elite of Santa Cruz, to be spent on imported goods and new dresses for the sugar queen. The simplest solution might be to let them go bankrupt and then redistribute the land to small farmers – thus actually dealing with problems of poverty and providing people with the means to support themselves. But, back to the issue of violence – threatening the livelihood of the soy barons is effective because they are powerful, and they are part of an elite which already does not like Evo Morales very much — an elite allegedly engaging in a campaign of smuggling in arms and organizing a paramilitary. They are an elite which only supports democracy to the extent that it doesn t threaten what they consider “theirs”.

This is usually the point at which a very Trotskyist compañero of mine in Santa Cruz bursts out “…which is exactly why class war and armed revolution is the only way that the changes that need to happen will happen!!” And then we d argue revolutionary tactics. But where we do agree, I suppose, is on the reality of force. Change comes by force. Change comes when those from below force the hand of the powerful, or seize power themselves. People, especially people conditioned to think of themselves as intrinsically better then other human beings based on the colour of their skin and their social class, do not give up priviledge out of the goodness of their hearts, at least not frequently enough to make waiting for it a very effective strategy. They give up priviledge when they no longer have the ability to force the rest of society to play by the rules they created, and usually they fight it till the bitter end and stay resentful for the rest of their lives. (If you´ve ever talked to any of the ex-landowning Cubans who fled Castro you´ll know what I mean.)

The two major achievements of the revolution that happened here in 1952, agrarian reform and mine nationalization, only happened because those “governing” the revolution had no choice but to pass the legislation or to be thrown out. Once the general population was armed – the strategy of the revolution of being essentially to open the nation´s armories to a citizenry seething with the ferment of 20 years of successful radical organizing, and watch the army and police disintegrate after three days of intense fighting – indigenous peasants didn´t lose any time in returning to their communities and taking over haciendas, organizing peasant unions, and forming militias. The laws caught up with reality about a year later. Miners, “the most powerful and revolutionary vanguard” of the working class and also quite comfortable with dynamite, forced the reluctant government to commit to nationalization, with the government mining corporation being administered under worker co-government.

The “revolutionary” regime was forced to enact these laws by popular pressure, and once that pressure had abated (once they had land, indigenous communities largely turned inward for the next 20 years), the government began to first restrain and then dismantle the revolution in return for US aid (highest per capita in the world throughout the 50 s and early 60s – in 1958, one third of the budget was directly paid for by US funds.) From this, one could deduce that a revolution is not a bad way of getting a better deal for playing by the rules.

As Sergio Caceres writes of Evo’s frequent dinners at the embassy, “Were you really that hungry, che? Is the food good at the embassy? Does Greenlee (the ambassador) cook like he represses? What do you eat at his house? C
ocaleros sautéed in mustard gas?” Initially dubbed the State Departments “worst nightmare”, Evo is beginning to look more and more like someone the US government can work with. Many Bolivians think they know what Evo, faced with the choice between the old game on better terms and starting a new game, will choose. The question is, what will Bolivia choose?

Quotations from “De la Constituyente a la Deconstituyente”, Raul Prada, El Jugete Rabioso, March 19th 2006, and “El Pueblo Bien Vestido, Jamas Sera Vencido”, Sergio Caceres, El Jugete Rabioso, March 19th 2006.

An excellent history of the revolution can be found in “Bolivia: The Evolution of a Multi-Ethnic Society” by Herbert S. Klein.

Arrests continue in Goverment Eco-crackdown

Slingshot issue #89 reported the December arrests of a number of people accused of involvement with actions claimed by the Earth Liberation Front/Animal Liberation Front. Unfortunately, a few days after we took the paper to the press, a number of additional people were arrested and there were an number of additional developments in the case. Here’s an update:

On January 19, the FBI arrested Jonathan Paul and Suzanne Savoie. Following his arrest Jonathan Paul was charged with involvement in an ALF arson on a horsemeat packing plant/slaughter house; whilst Suzanne was charged with involvement in an ELF arson on the offices of a lumber mill.

A few days after Jonathan & Suzanne’s arrests the FBI released a 65 count indictment against eleven people: Joseph Dibee, Chelsea Gerlach, Sarah Harvey, Daniel McGowan, Stanislas Meyerhoff, Josephine Overaker, Rebecca Rubin, Darren Thurston, Kevin Tubbs, Jonathan Paul and Suzanne Savoie. The FBI made it clear that there were others involved in that case who had not yet been identified.

On the February 23, the FBI announced they had arrested Nathan Block and Joyanna Zacher, accusing them of involvement in an ELF arson against a poplar tree farm.

And on March 30, the government unsealed an indictment charging Briana Waters, 30, of Berkeley, Calif., with involvement in the arson of the University of Washington Center for Urban Horticulture in 2001. She faces a life sentence if convicted. She was released from custody after turning herself in and pleading not guilty.

The majority of the defendants in this case (the original eleven defendants named in the FBI document) are charged with involvement in an over-arching “Conspiracy to Commit Arson” and “Conspiracy to Commit Arson and Destruction of an Energy Facility”. The prosecution alleges that the conspiracy included 15 actions that involved arson, 2 attempted arsons and the production of an incendiary guide manual. Two of the alleged arsons were against wild horse corals and besides the fires it is alleged that wild horses were also released from their captivity.

The two conspiracy charges do not allege that the eleven defendants facing these charges where involved with all of the alleged actions. Conspiracy charges means that it is immaterial how much personal involvement each or any of the defendants had with any of the alleged actions.

Besides the two over-arching conspiracy charges, the defendants also each face a series of personal charges for their alleged involvement in the various actions. Some face as many as 57 individual charges. The reason why some of the defendants are facing multiple arson charges for their alleged involvement in one or two actions is because the FBI are placing one charge of arson against people for every single vehicle burnt in an action. So for example, during the arson on the SUV dealership thirty-five vehicles were destroyed so that is thirty-five separate charges of arson.

As we previously reported, following his arrest Stanislas Meyerhoff became a police informant. Since issue #89, Kevin Tubbs and Sarah Harvey have also both been named in open court as cooperating with the authorities although at this stage it is unknown what level of cooperation they have given the police. Other informants in this case have been named, in open court, as Jacob Ferguson and Jen Kolar.

Out of the other ten defendants, who are not cooperating with the police: Joseph Dibee, Rebecca Rubin and Josephine Overtaker have not yet been located by the FBI and it is believed these three are no longer living in the USA.

Daniel McGowan, Suzanne Savoie and Jonathan Paul have all been released from prison on conditional bail until their trial.

Chelsea Gerlach, Darren Thurston, Nathan Block and Joyanna Zacher remain in prison. Initially the Prosecution indicated they wished to hold a series of separate trials for each of the separate charges against each individual defendant. However the latest indication is the authorities have decided on one big show trial to be held in October 2006.

Support Campaigns have now been set up for the majority of the defendants in this case.

• Chelsea Gerlach, #1308678, PO Box 50307 Eugene, OR 97405

• Daniel McGowan, send donations to Lisa McGowan PO Box 106 New York, NY 10156.

• Nathan Block

• Suzanne Savoie

• Darren Thurston

• Joyanna Zacher

You can write to those in custody in Eugene at [name & # of prisoner] Lane County Jail 101 W 5th Ave Eugene, OR 97401.

All of these folks are the victims of a government witch-hunt and need our support. We have every reason to assume that all those arrested are innocent of the crimes of which they are accused, and that they will eventually be found innocent and released. We also have every reason to believe that people everywhere will continue to resist industries and institutions that destroy the earth. Finally, we have every reason to believe that the government will do everything it can to frighten the environmental movement by framing-up innocent activists. We won’t be scared and we won’t stop our actions to defend the earth.

South Dakota bans abortion – Will they Ban Health Care Next?

South Dakota’s recent ban on abortion is a devastating blow to peoples’ right to decide whether to terminate pregnancies. The new law, effective in June if it is not challenged in court, is the latest tactic in the Christian-conservative strategy to end abortion nation-wide. While hundreds of state laws already limit access to abortion, the very broad law in South Dakota — which bans all abortion even in the case of rape or incest — is designed to create a test case to reverse Roe vs. Wade, the long-standing court case that legalized abortion in 1973.

A court challenge would force the Supreme Court to either invalidate the South Dakota law under the rule in Roe, or overturn Roe. If Roe were overturned, each state would be free to pass laws to either ban, or permit, abortion. While some states like California and New York would probably preserve access to legal abortion, conservative states across the South and mid-West would pass laws like the South Dakota law to ban all abortions. With a new conservative majority on the Supreme Court in the wake of the confirmation of Justice Alito, it is highly likely that a lawsuit against the South Dakota law could lead to the end of Roe vs. Wade. Because of this, abortion rights activists have so far avoided filing a lawsuit to block the law, although they are pursuing a referendum campaign against the law and other measures.

The South Dakota case is the just the latest hurdle in the abortion obstacle course which already makes access to abortion very difficult even while it is “legal.” Urban residents often take for granted access to at least one abortion clinic, but for many people in rural areas, travel distance alone is an effective barrier to accessing safe services. With high costs, waiting periods, parental consent laws, social stigma, and inflexible work situations, access becomes daunting if not impossible. The threat of violence and harassment by anti-abortion activists adds to the fear of the procedure itself.

Imagine yourself in the situation of needing to terminate a pregnancy. It doesn’t matter why; the point is that you’ve decided that it’s best for you in your own circumstances. Now imagine that you have to travel four hours to get to the nearest abortion clinic. After braving a line of harassers (holding photos of fetuses, of course), you access the clinic. You’re screened by the doctor and told that the law requires you to wait twenty four hours before having the procedure. Remembering the lies you told your boss this morning (“no, I really can’t come in today, I’m puking my guts out and my cat just died and my mom got hit by a train….but I swear I’ll be there first thing tomorrow!”), you realize that “pro-choice” comes down to a decision between your job and your body. To finish off your experience, if you’re in West Virginia, Missouri, or Florida your doctor is required by law to tell you that the fetus will feel pain (whether or not it’s true). Your only consolation is the knowledge that thousands of other women share your experience.

Currently, only one clinic provides abortions in the entire state of South Dakota and the doctors have to be flown in from Minneapolis to perform procedures. Mississippi, Kansas and Missouri also have only one abortion provider, and according to the National Abortion Federation, 88% of all counties in the U.S. do not have a single abortion clinic.

In a recent development, women from the Oglala Sioux Nation have proposed opening a clinic to provide abortions on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota. Because the reservation is considered sovereign territory, the upcoming abortion ban would not apply there. Since European colonization, American Indian women have not only been denied quality health care, they have historically been murdered and forcibly sterilized in clinics. In the case of abortion provision on reservation land, “pro-choice” applies not just to abortion — it represents an act of self-determination.

A look at women’s access to health care in the United States reveals that denial of abortion rights is consistent with the national agenda to cut back health care for a wide range of groups. Seventeen million women who are U.S. residents do not have health insurance. Statistics released by health care giant Kaiser Permanente indicate that one third of low-income women, Latinas, single parents, American Indian women, and foreign-born women do not have health insurance. Legislation in congress would penalize health care workers from treating undocumented immigrants, let alone insuring them. Even among insured women, 19% of those surveyed postponed needed treatment due to cost. Women of color and those living in rural areas and Southern states have especially low rates of coverage. These patterns are reflected by low standards for abortion access.

The right to have abortions is only one aspect of a broader reproductive rights movement. In a country where millions of people lack medical insurance, low income women have little or no access to health care, and with a history of forced sterilizations of women of color, the goals of “reproductive rights” must prioritize the right to quality prenatal care, access to food and housing for raising healthy families, and the right to abortion without the fear of eugenics-inspired sterilization. We must also recognize domestic violence, sexual assault, and AIDS as widespread women’s health issues. Furthermore, laws concerning women’s health (including abortion) must be shaped by all of the people affected by them, not just by the Christian right and not by a narrow coalition of pro-choice NGO’s representing privileged women.

As someone who works at an abortion clinic, I see a wide range of people come in for abortion services. This includes people who think that abortion is no big deal, people who are pro-choice but have a difficult time terminating their own pregnancy, and people who think abortion is wrong and feel that they’re killing a living being. They have one thing in common: they have decided to have an abortion because it’s the best or only option for them. It’s time to recognize that the best option for all women is quality health care, regardless of income, race, nation, or religion; the ability to choose whether or not to have an abortion follows logically.

Sexy Spring

SEXY SPRING is a three day DIY sex and body positive conference and skillshare in Minneapolis on June 9-11th. Sexy Spring addresses the many ways in which gender, sex, relationships, our bodies and our choices impact our lives. Our goal is to foster understanding and support of diverse experiences and to encourage self-exploration and growth. Sexy Spring includes art, performance, discussion and education created by people from many different communities coming together and sharing knowledge, creativity and strength.

WE ENCOURAGE: A holistic view of sexualiy that values the multiplicity of experiences in areas of communication, art, community-building, performance and political action. We believe that everyone is an expert and has valuable skills to share. Sexy Spring, for you, might look like a discussion on consent, a short play about your kinky relationship, a how-to workshop on making radical porn, or something else we never expected.

POSSIBLE WORKSHOP TOPICS: DIY reproductive and sexual health, polyamory, challenging genders, sexuality and mental health, burlesque, body image, how to be a tran ally, radical monogamy, consent, living with STI’s, radical sex work, resisting and preventing sexual assault, kinky skills and relationships, sex and body positive parenting, disability and sexuality, herbalism, fighting street harassment, queer relationships, cultural sexual histories, sexy foods…

WE NEED YOU to make SEXY SPRING happen. Almost any type of sincere contribution is helpful.

HOW YOU CAN HELP: Come to SEXY SPRING, facilitate a worshop, assist with conference organization, perform at the cabaret, show your art, volunteer at the conference as a vibes watcher, provide childcare, distribute flyers, spread the word. Donate time, energy, expertise, money, food, safer sex supplies, office supplies, places to stay, bicycles etc. Host a benefit.

FOR MORE INFO: Check out our website at This site will include information on Sexy Spring events, the program calendar, class descrptions, resource links, etc. There’s also a message board at This is where you can discuss sexy topics with other sexy folks. If you can offer or need: a ride to Minneapolis, a place to stay, childcare, food, a bike, you can negotiate this on the message boards, call or email us. If you have concerns or special needs, let us know as early as possible so we can make arrangements. We encourage folks to preregister on our website, so we can gauge the number of folks coming. We welcome questions, comments and concerns. or 1-800-MY-YAHOO/SEXYSPRING

Rabble Calendar


April 28 – May 1

Northeast Regional Earth First! rendezvous. Sears Island, Maine.

April 29 • 7-10 pm

Carl With Records – performance artist and short film “Weekend Zombie Nurses” – 3124 Shattuck Berkeley

April 29

March for peace, justice and democracy – protest to stop the war on Iraq. New York City location TBA.

April 30 • 1 pm

Slingshot new volunteer meeting – 3124 Shattuck Berkeley


May 5 • 5:30

Oakland Critical Mass Bike Ride – 14th & Broadway

May 1

National “Un dia sin immigrante” (A day without an immigrant.) Don’t go to work or school, no sales, and boycott plus protests. Everywhere in the US!

May 1 – 7

A week of events to celebrate Mayday in Chicago 120 years after the Haymarket massacre including history, art, soccer, bikes, music, films, etc.

May 12 • 6 pm

East Bay Critical Mass bike ride – Berkeley BART

May 19-22

Wild Earth 2006: Resisting Ecocide – Action training camp-out in the forest near Vancouver, B.C. Coast Salish Territory,

May 19-21

Montréal Anarchist Bookfair & 1st Montréal Anarchist Theatre Festival.

May 20 • 10 – 4

Building a Culture of Resistance Training, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland

May 26 • 6 pm

San Francisco Critical Mass Bike Ride: Justin Herman Plaza

May 26-28

Our Lives Ahead — anti-state convergence Indianapolis, IN


June 6

All punks converge on St. Louis, MO to celebrate 6/6/06

June 9-11

Sexy Spring III DIY sex & body positive skillshare. Minneapolis, MN Free. 1-800-MY-YAHOO/SEXYSPRING.

June 9-11

Intl. Weekend of Resistance against the Green Scare

June 23-25

8th annual Allied Media Conference – Bowling Green, Ohio –

June 23-27

Anarchist Librarians events at the annual meeting of the American Library Association – New Orleans

June 24-25

Gay Pride / Gay Shame events San Francisco

June 29-30

1st annual meeting of infoshops –

June 30 – July 2

2006 Mid-Atlantic radical bookfaire – 3 days of books, music, workshops & discussions,


July 1-7

Rainbow Gathering – Western Colorado – for directions, ask a hippie on the street

July 5-11

Plan-it-X Fest and punk summer camp, music, workshops – Bloomington, Indiana

July 14

International Mad Pride day — Free Minds At Ease. Many cities:

July 15 – 17

International days of protest against neo-liberalism and the G8 meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia