Theocracy Attempts to Curtail Transsexuals

Zion, Theocratic Republic of Jesus Mohammed, Earth -- 1 Mar. 2057:  In a move that sex-freedom advocates are calling an 'abomination', the Synod of Theocratic Elders today signed into state law a proclamation allowing employers in the state to fire, or refuse to hire, any employee who has chosen to undergo sex-reassignment therapy and alter their biological sextype.  The Synod passed the measure in a unanimous vote.

Under the conscience clause of the Stellar Constitution, the Theocracy has chosen to pass separate laws applying only to citizens practicing the dominant religion from those which are generally applicable.  Theoretically, this law is among those which would apply only to those who have chosen to accept the tenets of Unorthodox Eschatological Chrislamity, and is thus not in violation of the General Constitution Accord.  Some observers, however, are not so sure.

"People around here just assume that everyone else is a Chrislemite, and a lot of people don't even know that there are laws that don't apply to non-Chrislemites," explained Hitch Dawkins Carpenter, a spokesperson for the Catholic Atheist Coven.  "And if an employer tried to fire someone for transitioning and was informed that this law does not allow them to do it, would they even care?  Taking them to court is cold comfort to someone who has lost their livelihood.

"This whole matter of 'conscience laws' is bogus from the word go.  I can't count the number of times I've run afoul of laws that aren't even supposed to apply to me. They say, 'if you don't like it go start an Atheist colony and you can have any laws you want.'  They don't even recognize how bizarre it is to have different civil rights for different religions."

The offense is not limited to wrongfully terminated non-Chrislemites, according to Manion Herzengeissel, the press agent for the Zion branch of the Sex and Gender Equity League.  "I refuse to accept that Chrislamity has no place for people of all sextypes and gender presentations," zie broadcasts in a series of tweets.  "According to the Synod, it is only acceptable in the eyes of God to be a cisgendered, hypergendered android or gynoid heterosexual human... I believe God created each one of us and loves each one of us equally!  When will this campaign of harassment end?"  Herzengeissel was speaking from a rally against the proclamation in Humility Square, at which effigies of the Synod were symbolically castrated and mastected.  The rally was condemned by the Synod public relations office as a 'barbaric and tawdry display' by 'deviant malcontents'.

In an audio interview after the rally, Herzengeissel stated that "the Synod doesn't even know what it just proclaimed.  They're so holy that they can't even let themselves think about it; they all have brain censors installed that keep their consciousness from even registering things that go against their interpretation of the Bible Koran, including anyone who doesn't fit this narrow twencen gender box.  They have assistants to deal with it, and these petty bureaucrats just put laws in front of the Synod and they sign it on principle.  Our government has gone insane."

According to Pruvic Jesus Mohammed Noonian, a spokesman for the Synod (ed. -- please note that Mr. Noonian insisted on being described as a 'spokesman' before he would reply to our questions), this is precisely the reason that the law is necessary.  "Good Chrislemites can't stay right with Jesus Mohammed if they are being exposed to such depravity," he stated in an e-mail.  "It must be driven from the sight of their eyes, back into the dens of iniquity where it festers.  These days, a man can just drive a few hours, to the god-forsaken heathen lands, and come back a supposed 'woman' -- or worse, some kind of no-sex in-between mockery of nature!  What good Chrislemite, what kind of moral human being, would have dealings with such a creature, would tolerate even the possibility that their impressionable children could be exposed to one?  If we can't drive them from the face of the earth, at the very least we can keep them sequestered where they belong.  Your so-called 'constitution' allows us that much liberty at least, and we'll all be Damned if we forsake it!"

The Theocracy is the only remaining state in the Alliance which bans marriage between persons of the same sextype, marriage between more than two persons, interspecies marriage, marriage between biological and nonbiological persons, human cloning, and communism -- for Orthodox Eschatological Chrislemites, at least.  The state has the lowest rate of participation in employed work by any demographic group other than hypermasculine android humans.  The Theocracy's representative in the Stellar Parliament, Vandross Jesus Mohammed Mohammed, is the sole elected member of the Jesus Mohammed Party; he frequently introduces legislation in the Trapezoid which garners no support whatsoever, most recently including a proposal to re-classify biological offspring from quasi-persons to chattels.  Mr. Mohammed did not respond to requests for an interview.

Traffic Pileup on the I-15 Kills 9, Wounds 23

Ceres, Federation of Asteroidal Polities -- 28 Feb. 2057:  Local officials are asking transports travelling between Martian and Jovian space to avoid Interplanetary Corridor 15 as disaster response teams clean up the aftermath of a serious collision that has taken 9 lives this day.

Apparently, a convoy of jury-rigged settler craft bound for Ganymede and points outward was decimated when a 20-megaton tanker hauling helium3 from the gas mines of Vespene Station to a processing plant on Phobos lost control during a corrective burn.  Most of the low-grade ships were unable to sufficiently alter their trajectories to avoid the massive barge and several were destroyed.  Debris from the accident is now spread throughout the corridor and has caused several more transports to crash or veer wildly off course; it is estimated that some stray vehicles may be unrecoverable within their biological crew and passengers' expected lifetimes, though emergency digitization efforts are under way.

According to crash victim Gelfer din Slardvorg, who spoke to us in Mercy Hope Emergency Hospital in Ceres, "It was like falling off a cliff.  You see that huge thing rushing at you and you try to get out of its way, but it's too late -- nothing you can do.  I was one of the lucky ones; a rail sheared through the cabin of the ship, just missed my face too.  Thank Jesus Mohammed, my exosuit was handy and I had enough air in the tanks to last until the ambulance got there.  I saw other pilgrims freeze to death right in front of me ... bleeding from their eyes.  Such terrible carnage."

The office of FAP Symposiarch Natron Valbermard has issued a statement of condolences to the victims of the tragedy and their families.  The Symposiarch also promises an investigation into the causes of the crash.  It is not known at this time if mechanical failure or alterant abuse were involved.  Follow-up inquiries to the Department of Public Safety and to Omnicor Hypercorp LLC., the owner of the tanker, recieved no response.

Among the casualties of today's crash was noted author Framlix Tibulon, who had just accepted the post of Poet Laureate to the Saturnine Confederacy.  Tibulon died in surgery in Mercy Hope at the age of 27 person-years.

Corporation Sues for Full Personhood

Armstrong Dome, Moonbase Alpha, Colonial Lunar Administration Zone -- 27 Feb. 2057:  The Constitutional Court of Personhood Rights and Definitions heard the opening arguments today in the trial of Omnicor Hypercorp LLC. & State of Denmark, a landmark case which some are predicting will determine once and for all the question of corporate personhood.

In 2052 a local subsidiary of Omnicor was found guilty by the Danish state supreme court of violating strict fraud statutes and tax laws and its corporate charted was ordered dissolved and its assets seized.  The parent company stepped in, seeking an injunction on the basis that the corporation was a legal person and that such an action would be tantamount to judicial murder.  The injunction was denied but the case was appealed to the Constitutional Court with a request that Denmark pay severe restitution.

The head of the plaintiff's legal team, Svend Svendsson, is arguing that sufficiently complex corporations can be classified as a form of sapient hive-mind, a designation that was added to the class of legal persons protected under the Armstrong Convention by action of the court after the near-extermination of Mathematical Bees.

"The form of a corporation fits exactly the definition of a sapient hive-mind," Svendsson claimed in his statement to the court, "as a collection of semi-autonomous agents whose rote cooperative behaviour, like that of cells in a brain or circuits running an emulated consciousness, creates the emergent property of intelligent action and conscious experience."

Svendsson went on to assert that Omnicor Hypercorp LLC. was a conscious being with intentions, thoughts, and desires that could not be reduced to those of its individual employees or shareholders, and that when a corporation is dissolved "something unique and irreplaceable, something which has been called 'the human spirit' or even a 'soul', is lost to the universe forever."  He then announced his intention to produce internal memos, earnings reports, and other communications which express the extirpated corporation's "innermost desires, its joy in life and its fear of dissolution, of death."

The State of Denmark's defender, noted personhood law specialist Albix van Heuvenheffner, gave short shrift to such claims.  "No corporate body has ever had a thought or feeling that could be seperated from those of its entirely sapient and autonomous parts," he retorted, noting that the tests of potential gestalt personhood were well-established as applied to parliamentary neuromorphs and that "we look forward with great anticipation to the plaintiff's attempts to establish that any statement produced by a corporation can pass such a test."  He took the opposition to task for "abusing the sapient hive-mind ruling" and called the proceedings a "cynical sham of the highest order" and the plaintiff a "legal fiction, not an autonomous agent; and the idea that such a legal fiction will stand here in this court and testify on its own behalf is ludicrous."

During the proceedings, Anonymous hacktivists launched no less than 17 cyber-attacks on the court network, succeeding in getting a fragmentary statement entered into the court record which threatened in part that if corporations were found to be persons, "they will be subjected to the highest class of personal attacks" and that "hunting season on corporate persons will be declared open -- EXPECT US".

According to activist Wilberforce Braunstein of the corporate watchdog group Fair Dealings, the Omnicor case is the culmination of a campaign that has been decades if not centuries in the making.  "The notion of 'corporate personhood' is one that goes back very nearly to the first emergence of the limited liability commercial corporation as a legal entity," Braunstein replied to our inquiries in a series of tweets.  "And it's a notion that the wealthy shareholders and directors of these organizations have always been quick to support and expand."  According to Braunstein, since the revolution in our concept of what is and is not a 'person' which came with the end of the Softwars, "the idea has grown new legs.  The potential of corporations being declared protected persons by the Armstrong Court is regularly floated in meetings of the hyper-rich, extreme back-wing political circles and the writing of certain academics."  Braunstein says that such a decision would be disastrous.  "It would severely curtail the power of governments to regulate and restrict corporate activity.  Corporations don't have the ethical subroutines that are hardwired by evolution into biological minds and by law into synthetic ones.  They have no conscience.  If they really are people, they're sociopathic ones by nature.    I can't imagine how corporate civil rights could possibly be compatible with the civil rights of anyone else, unless something like the Convention on Neurocitizen Rights were applied to them.  In three centuries we haven't yet found a way to get corporations to behave ethically."

Psychologists: Analysis Paralysis Becoming Epidemic

Cantor, Elysium, Venus -- 26 Feb. 2057:  For Beezle Flarnigan, a social-waged homemaker and child-rearer living in the Brightwings terrafarming commune, it started with a nagging sense of having missed something important.

"I signed up to more and more infostreams, feeders, aggregators, curated linklists on all kinds of topics.  The more I was taking in, the more I felt like I needed to take in.  But no matter how much I read and saw, it seemed like there was always more info out there I needed to find.  I tried to follow all the links, then just skimmed them, then I had to start skipping over them but every time I left something unread it nagged at me.  Like an itch you just can't scratch.  It made me feel like I wasn't good enough."

Eventually, the continual need to know more and keep up with the ever-intensifying onslaught of information began to interfere with Beezle's ability to take care of her obligations to the commune.  "I started taking shortcuts, hiding things, leaving the kids in unsafe situations while I read just one more article.  My comrades looked at me differently.  They made a lot of allowances, and sort of hinted to me that I wasn't pulling my weight.  Finally there was a meeting and they laid it on the line: if I didn't shape up, they would have to sever me and I would be on my own.  I got so mad, that they were singling me out for no good reason.  But Teefa, she's the biomom of two of the kids, Rainy and Foon, was talking about how she had seen Foon reaching for a hot pot on the cooktop -- I just broke down.  When it happened I had been watching a youtube vid about twen-cen economic policies.  And I had to say to myself, was that really more important than protecting a child from harm?"

It's an increasingly common problem, and one that is reaching epidemic proportions according to the Interplanetary Psychiatric Association, which has released a report on the syndrome known as Analysis Paralysis, the inability to cope with the intensity of information flows in today's heavily networked world.  The conclusions drawn by the report are grim and a little startling; in the past year alone, Analysis Paralysis has surpassed Social Network Anxiety, Virtual World Addiction, and Surveillance Paranoia to become the most commonly reported network-induced psychiatric problem.  And the results can be catastrophic.

According to the report's author, Dr. Blandford Killington of the Gesightner Clinic for Research on Digital Hygiene, the consequences of untreated Analysis Paralysis can be considerably more severe than neglect of housework or endangerment of children.  When asked about Mx. Flarnigan's case, Dr. Killington classified zer as an 'early-stage' patient.  "The first major symptom is withdrawal from social and leisure activities, which removes the normal checks and balances on this self-destructive behaviour.  Eventually, without intervention of some sort, employment performance degrades to the point of complete incompetence.  The sufferer's brain has begun to prioritize gathering information and understanding it over actually doing anything with it, over accomplishment of any kind.  They can stop doing anything other than seeking further information, neglect basic self-maintenance, even start to forgo eating and sleeping.  In the most extreme phase, the patient becomes seemingly catatonic, save for the continual network traffic that delivers their information feed.  If they are cut off they experience physical withdrawal, to the extent that they may well die from the shock.  Once someone reaches that stage, there's very little hope of recovery."

Dr. Killington places the blame for the rising incidence of AP on several factors.  "There's the flood of low-cost digital labour coming into the blogging and curating industries.  It's increased the rate at which passable-quality information and analysis is being generated and the efficiency of sorting the good stuff out of the dross.  Which is good overall for society, I have to admit, but it can become overwhelming to people with a strong appetite for knowledge and understanding.  Then there's the increase of social isolation and alienation as the population shifts more toward orbital habitats and far-flung colonies, away from the denser population centres of Earth and Mars.  Mx. Flarnigan is lucky to have comrades who care for zer and are willing to help zer work through zer issues.  In more and more cases, people with little social investment in jobs and relationships can just let these connections slide, and AP sufferers are just left to their own devices, left to slide further and further in."

Beezle Flarnigan agrees with this assessment.

"The comrades have been so helpful, so understanding.  I have a psychiatrist installed in my headware now.  It helps me put limits on my browsing.  It helps me remember that people are more important than info.  It helps me understand that the world won't end if I don't know everything."

APE Demands Human Rights

Baikonur, Kazakhstan, Earth -- 25 Feb. 2057:  Amid raucous demonstrations in Amity Plaza this day, the Alliance for Primate Equality delivered a petition to the Stellar Parliament calling for comprehensive legislation to address anti-primate discrimination throughout society.

"For too long has the ape been kept down by the shackles of the so-called 'Human' race," said APE spokesperson Darwin Gimbo to a crowd of 300 000 assorted Hominids including chimpanzees, orangutans, gorillas, and neanderthals.  "Apes are just as capable as humans of accomplishing any task and have the same physical requirements.  There is no reason, none whatsoever, why apes should not enjoy the same standards of life and acceptance in society as humans.  No reason, save raw unapologetic speciesism!"

APE is seeking legislation prohibiting discrimination against non-human primates in areas as diverse as employment, lodging, health care, education, travel, and commercial services.  According to Dr. Threnody Cassbach, a professor of sociology at Mariner University, this legislation is long overdue.

"There are still many districts in the Stellar Alliance where it is perfectly legal for apes to be refused service in stores and restaurants, to be refused access to perfectly suitable housing based on the whims of the owners, even to be confined to separate -- and usually inferior -- sections of buses, aircraft, and jumpships.  When challenged, the owners often cite sanitary concerns.  This is laughable; apes are just as capable of keeping themselves clean as humans, and I've known some humans -- redacts, even -- who are dirtier than any ape I ever met."

Dr. Cassbach went on to quote a recent study which found that non-human primates are clearly under-represented in professions requiring advanced education and are concentrated among the ranks of manual labourers and persons of leisure.  "The idea, in this day and age, that our society can allow a de facto underclass like this is frankly appalling," Cassbach concluded.

Others voices are not so enthusiastic about the proposed anti-discrimination laws.

The pro-human group Humans for Humanism has issued a press release condemning the rally, referring to the participants as a "pack of noisy, smelly, crazy chimps and monkeys" and calling the idea of primate integration "an insult to the dignity of every human being in the Solar System."  We reached the communications director of Humans for Humanity, Pilford Bujoltz, at his home on Excelsior Station.

"I have nothing against chimps, in their place, but I don't want them eating or living near me," Bujoltz explained in a series of tweets.  "They've always been violent, filthy, lascivious creatures and uplift hasn't changed that."  Asked about the species gap in employment, Bujoltz retorted that "Chimps do hard dirty jobs cause that's what they're good at -- muscle, not brains" and "Would you hire a chimp to be a lawyer or a doctor? Didn't think so!"

Nemian Dilvorg, the Stellar Parliament representative for Ganymede-Sextibus and member of the Libertarian party, believes that passing such a law would set a dangerous precedent.

"Here on Ganymede we don't want bureaucrats from Baikonur coming in and telling us who we have to hire or who we have to deal with," zie stated during a debate in the Trapezoid following the presentation of the petition.  "What comes next?  Every residential block needs to install a tank for squids and dolphins?  At whose expense?  Every workplace has to hire B8-level autistics even if they have no work to suit them?  Where does it end?"

Answering accusations of speciesism from members of the Socialist and Technocrat parties, Dilvorg retorted that "I love apes.  Some of my best friends and most respected colleagues are apes.  This is nothing but a blind for rampant statist interventionism, and we won't have it."

But Darwin Gimbo remains optimistic that change will come despite strenuous opposition.

"I firmly believe that the people are on our side," Gimbo said to reporters at a press conference after the rally.  "We are siblings on the evolutionary tree, you and I.  Soon, refusing an ape a table at a restaurant will be as unthinkable as refusing a dark-skinned human or a cyborg."