Archive for category Religious Fundamentalism

The Fine Line Between Completely Nuts and Deeply Conservative Keeps Getting Harder to Distinguish

Educators in Kentucky have rolled out a new set of science standards.

Nearly two dozen parents, teachers, scientists and advocacy groups commented at the state Department of Education hearing on the Next Generation Science Standards. The broad set of guidelines will revamp content in grades K-12 and help meet requirements from a 2009 law that called for improving education.

“Students in the commonwealth both need and deserve 21st-century science education grounded in inquiry, rich in content and internationally benchmarked,” said Blaine Ferrell, a representative from the Kentucky Academy of Sciences, a science advocacy group that endorses the standards.

Seems reasonable right? Read the rest of this entry »

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As Republicans Actively Sabotage the Government, America Suffers

Jonathan Chait summed it up pretty accurately:

Spectacles like this have turned into a regular feature of life in the Republican House. The party leadership draws up a bill that’s far too right-wing to ever become law, but it fails in the House because it isn’t right-wing enough. Sometimes, as with the attempts to repeal Obamacare, the failures don’t matter much, but in other instances the inability to pass legislation poses horrifying dangers. The chaos and dysfunction have set in so deeply that Washington now lurches from crisis to crisis, and once-dull, keep-the-lights-on rituals of government procedure are transformed into white-knuckle dramas that threaten national or even global catastrophe.

The Republican Party has spent 30 years careering ever more deeply into ideological extremism, but one of the novel developments of the Obama years is its embrace of procedural extremism. The Republican fringe has evolved from being politically shrewd proponents of radical policy changes to a gang of saboteurs who would rather stop government from functioning at all. In this sense, their historical precedents are not so much the Gingrich revolutionaries, or even their tea-party selves of a few years ago; the movement is more like the radical left of the sixties, had it occupied a position of power in Congress. And so the terms we traditionally use to scold bad Congresses—partisanship, obstruction, gridlock—don’t come close to describing this situation. The hard right’s extremism has bent back upon itself, leaving an inscrutable void of paranoia and formless rage and twisting the Republican Party into a band of anarchists.[snip]

The rational way to view these events is that Republicans have marginalized themselves. But the hard-liners see it differently. In their minds, every bill that passes is a betrayal by their leaders. They know that letting Democrats carry bills through the House has been the leadership’s desperate recourse to avoid total chaos, and since chaos is their leverage, they are now working feverishly to seal off that escape route. This year, an increasing proportion of conservative media is given over to conservative activists’ extracting pledges from Republican leaders not to negotiate with Democrats. In the wake of the tax-cut deal, Republican leaders in both houses had to pledge that they would not engage in any—to quote the ubiquitous buzzword—“backroom deals.” Since all deals get made in back rooms (there is no such thing as a front room, and leaders in Western cultures like the United States habitually transact their business in rooms), this means no negotiation at all.

The Republicans in Congress are fully prepared to engage in any and every extreme tactic they can imagine.  Their goal is simple: sabotage government. Read the rest of this entry »

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Harvey Fierstein Has the Last Word on Orson Scott Card and His Homophobia

With Ender’s Game coming to a movie theatre near you, there’s been controversy about author Orson Scott Card’s homophobia in the past.  Card issued a pathetic plea for “tolerance” of his views.

Harvey Fierstein’s response may be the last word:

 I think that you can have any opinion you want, but at least be willing to take the consequences of your opinion. It’s like, “Well, I hope that people will be more understanding,” or what did he say? “More tolerant of my views.” The quotes that got me about him weren’t against gay marriage — he wanted homosexuality criminalized in the United States. That’s what he called for. You want me to be tolerant of you wanting to criminalize homosexuality? Fuck you on your grave, you piece of shit.

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Is Detente Between the GLBT Community and the Religious Right Possible?

The Religious Right isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.  Since the Prop 8 and DOMA decisions, right wing commentators have gone in two distinct directions – some commentators have doubled down on their anti-gay rhetoric, while other commentators have plead for “tolerance” for their views about marriage.  That second group is essentially asking for detente – “you won so be nice to us.”

Is detente between the gay community and the religious right even possible?

Read the rest of this entry »

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The Mind Your Own Business Act

I love the fact that Alan Grayson was able to get back into congress along with Elizabeth Warren. NOW when I get the old, “they’re all the same” refrain, I can say, “well not exactly”.

Alan names his amendment to H.R. 1960 the, “The Mind Your Own Business Act”. When was the last time you heard somebody in congress come up with a plan that didn’t have an Orwellian name? Republicans are always so proud of people on their side who just come right out and say what they think. It’s usually crazy as hell, but they say it anyway. Alan shoots from the hip too, but it sparks something in your brain that says: this really makes sense. Also, for years, Republicans were prohibited from disagreeing with anything a Republican in the hierarchy said. Grayson can say he disagrees with Obama’s stance, because he’s a Democrat. That’s my hope.

MSNBC is supposed to be “the liberal channel”, so why is the host of this segment trying to “get something” on Grayson for insinuating the Nazi’s would have loved to have a “Total Information Awareness” type of system that is going in to full gear, very soon. Grayson answers a question with a question, but it’s a good one, which the host, basically, answers by saying, ‘I’m the one asking the questions here’.

The question Grayson asks is,

How do you feel about the fact that the Government is keeping a record of every single phone call that you make?

I’m totally perplexed at the media coverage Edward Snowden is getting at this late date. He’s not the only whistle-blower on this matter. We have known for many years the government had planned to collect, and has been collecting as much information about every one of us as they could. Now that they are close to having the ability to get EVERYTHING, we get polls that tell us Americans WANT to have all their private information collected to…

AND I’M REALLY GETTING TIRED OF HEARING THIS…

Keep us safe.

If the government is serious about keeping me safe, they’d stop spending so much money on secret surveillance, prisons and war. What I really need to keep me “safe” is single payer healthcare and “food security”.

I think Grayson’s best quote in the video is this:

Martin, you are completely missing the point. The point is that we’re taking measures that are not correlated in any sense with our safety, and even if they were it would be beneath our dignity as human beings. That’s what this is all about. All right, listen. You could always make people safer by taking extreme measures. If, for instance, we lowered the speed limit to 10 miles per hour, people would be safer. If we outlawed knives and forks, people would be safer. If we made everybody fly on the airlines naked, people would be safer. None of those things corresponds to my sense of human dignity, and I think I’m not the only one who feels that way….

If you’d like to support congressman Grayson’s amendment, you can sign up here.

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Enough with the crybaby christians

A professor in Tennesee gave her class an optional, extra credit assignment:

 Students claim they were required to wear a rainbow ribbon and make public statements in support of gay rights. They were then assigned to write a paper about the reactions they got from other people.[snip]

But Chris Sanders of the Tennessee Equality Project, a friend of the professor, said the lawyer’s claims are untrue. He said the assignment was voluntary and is commonly used in psychology classes.

It’s designed to help students gain empathy for gays and lesbians, according to a teaching guide for the assignment, called “Promoting Increased Understanding of Sexual Diversity through Experience Learning.” That guide says that the assignment should be voluntary.

How do we know the assignment was voluntary?  A student who took the class a few years ago said so:

But wearing the ribbon was a voluntary, extra-credit assignment, Vernon said. He did not participate and suffered no consequences.

“It did not affect my grade,” he said. “It did make for an uncomfortable situation.”

Of course this relatively ordinary and optional assignment has got a bunch of conservative Christian panties in a twist.  Conservative Christians are convinced the professor’s assignment is an attack on their faith and they’re claiming to be victims of religious discrimination.

I am so tired of these crybaby Christians who think not getting their way in absolutely everything is the same as being discriminated against.

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Idaho Still Making Utah Look Good by Comparison

I’d like to thank Sheriff Ben Wolfinger for his role in making Utah look much smarter and much less nutty than Idaho.  Sheriff Wolfinger is unhappy with the decision by BSA to permit openly gay scouts.

The Kootenai County Sheriff said Friday that he is compelled to drop the department’s Boy Scouts of America charter because the organization is promoting a lifestyle that is against state law.

“It would be inappropriate for the sheriff’s office to sponsor an organization that is promoting a lifestyle that is in violation of state law,” Sheriff Ben Wolfinger said.

Sodomy is against the law in Idaho, he added.

Except it’s not:

Idaho’s sodomy law was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 26, 2003, as a result of the Court’s decision in Lawrence v. Texas, No. 02-102 (U.S. June 26, 2003). Idaho sodomy law applied to both heterosexual and same-sex partners as a “crime against nature,” punishable by imprisonment in state prison for not less than five years.Idaho Code §§ 18-6605 (2001); 18-6606 (2001). The sodomy law did not apply to married heterosexual couples. The Idaho Court of Appeals in Idaho v. Holden, 890 P.2d 341 (Idaho Ct. App. 1995), held that “Idaho’s statute prohibiting the infamous crime against nature may not be constitutionally enforced to prohibit private consensual marital conduct.”

So the Sheriff doesn’t know the law he’s supposed to enforce.  And we also need to have a discussion with him about his bigotry.  (Thanks to John at Americablog for catching this one.)

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Pushing Back Against Right Wing Lies and Distortions

Recently, the glbt employee organization at the Department of Justice, put together and distributed a pamphlet entitled “LGBT Inclusion at Work: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Managers.”  The trifold pamphlet included such commonsense advice as “Assume LGBT employees and their allies are listening to what you say (whether in a meeting or around the proverbial water cooler)  and will read what you’re writing (whether in a casual email or a formal document) and make sure the language you use is inclusive and respectful.”  It also included a section on how to respond when an employee comes out to you as a manager and pointed out that “Don’t judge or remain silent.  Silence will be interpreted as disapproval.” Read the rest of this entry »

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The Boy Scouts Delicate Balancing Act

I was an enthusiastic Cub Scout but at best a indifferent Boy Scout.  I lost interest in scouting after a campout that was a well-intentioned mismanaged fiasco from beginning to end.

BSA have been living in a difficult place for years.  They clearly sees themselves as a mainstream organization, modernizing and responding to contemporary society while transmitting time honored values and experiences.  They strive to achieve racial and ethnic diversity.  The organization updates and adds to its list of possible merit badges to represent changing societal awareness and standards, as for example badges in environmental science, disabilities awareness and game design.  At the same time, many of the most fervent supporters of scouting are religious conservatives who perceive the organization as a bulwark of traditional values defending against a rising tide of valueless modernity.  The organization’s struggle exemplifies the struggle in American culture. Read the rest of this entry »

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America’s Christians and Their Persecution Complex

The argument goes something like this:

“Gay pride” necessitates anti-Christian hate. It must. “Gay marriage” and other “sexual orientation”-based laws do violence to freedom and truth. They are the hammer with which the postmodern left intends to bludgeon bloody religious liberty and the Judeo-Christian sexual ethic.[snip]

Still, know this: If you are a Christian in today’s America, you too will almost certainly find yourself with a similar decision to make. When man’s law violates God’s law, you will have to choose which to obey. Choosing God can mean persecution.

With Delaware’s vote to allow same sex marriage, the rocket scientists at American Family News have this to report:

Nicole Theis, president of Delaware Family Policy Council, says there is no protection in the bill for people of faith.

“Our immediate concern is that good people in this state will suffer discrimination simply because they believe marriage is between one man and one woman and that children deserve a mom and a dad,” Theis tells American Family News. “There’s minimal protection in this law, and we believe that passing legislation like this will trigger lawsuits and other forms of government retaliation.”

More dramatic though no more convincing is the video from Reach America, in which a group of grim faced teens inform viewers about all sorts of things that aren’t true – i.e. that the Supreme Court declared the bible unconstitutional and that prayer in school is outlawed and that the US was founded as a Christian nation.  In the video, the students, obviously well meaning though wildly misinformed, simultaneously pose as victims, martyrs and bold warriors who will lead the world.

The story also goes like this: Read the rest of this entry »

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The Right Wing Invents A Scandal: It’s not true but it doesn’t matter

A middle school in Red Hook, NY, conducted an anti-bullying workshop, working on questions of gender, gender identity and sexual orientation.  The workshop was co-led by students from Bard College who are peer counselors at Bard.

So far, so non controversial. 

What happened is that a student went home and complained to her mother – the story is now that the school forced girls to engage in lesbian kissing.  A massive controversial discussion ensues on Facebook.  Right wing media picks up the story that the school forced female students to kiss one another, that male students were taught how to identify which girls were sluts and were told to carry condoms at all times.   Hysteria – not hysteria as in laughter but more in the nature of a moral panic – ensues. 

Of course, none of those things actually happened and most parents are happy with the outcomes as well as the actual workshop.  A few conservative parents are upset and the story with all its wrong details is being distributed around the right wing echo chamber. 

The right wing picked up the mother’s complaint and ran with it – it appeared on Fox News.  The anti-gay National Organization for Marriage has picked it up and used it in fundraising appeals.  The false stories have made the rounds on the right (including a sensationalized account on WorldNetDaily).  Expect to hear/read comments from conservatives about “that school in New York that forced girls to engage in “lesbian kisses” on comment boards and in discussion.  What’s going on here is the right wing noise machine in full bore, blowing an entirely non-controversial incident out of proportion, creating a scandal where there is no scandal, feeding it into the right wing culture war community where it will become accepted as fact, and repeated ad nauseum. 

The story in right wing media is not credible.  Think about the details – does anyone seriuosly believe that an anti-bullying workshop would involve middle schools girls kissing each other?  That an anti-bullying workshop would teach boys how to determine which of their classmates are sluts?  It doesn’t pass the straight face test.  Conservatives seem to have accepted accounts of the workshop without question at face value. 

The dynamic at work here is deeper than simple gullibility or extremely credulity.  Conservatives accepted the story on face value because it confirmed their existing biases about the general gone to hellness of the world.  To put it another way, it’s not that the people believing this story are unusually gullible or credulous, it’s that they embrace a view of the world that tells them that school teachers and diversity programs and anti-bullying training are forms of indoctrination; these conservative parents expect to be outraged by what they hear about public schools, so they are primed to see scandal and depravity where none exists.  The outraged conservatives hearing and sharing the story, expect public schools to try to indoctrinate their children in homosexuality, they’ve been told for years now that anti-bullying and diversity initiatives in public schools are nothing more than codewords for indoctrination.  It’s a tiny step from believing that to believing students are being forced to kiss each other.  Even if it didn’t happen in this case, conservatives will tell themselves it’s surely happening someplace else because that’s the sort of depraved thing that liberals will do if they think they can get away with it.  To take one example, look at this comment from the WingNutDaily article:

If the liberals have it their way the law will destroy the meaning of family and the authority of parents completely. Remember what certain people were promoting on MSNBC? Your kids are not going to be your kids anymore so the government can brainwash them all they want and there won’t be a thing that you or anyone can do about it. Yeah, this is the culture that the lunatic liberals are creating. In certain European countries the kids are basically property of the state and not children of the parents. The kids in those countries are indoctrinated into anything and everything so long as it has nothing to do with God. This is powerful evidence of the type of utopian society and world that the lunatic liberals in the world are dreaming up and working towards making come true. The truth of the matter is that their dreams will, in fact, become nightmares. Their efforts will lead to catastrophe. No person should put up with the liberal lunatic agenda. It’s time for the anger of good citizens to be on full display and put the lunatic liberals in their place.

For this person it’s all part of a grand conspiracy.  The breathless recounting of the event on right wing blogs and websites comes complete with denunciations of the evils of liberalism and public schools and gay people and fervid theorizing about the nefarious machinations of homosekshuls intent on destroying the family.  The CBN (that is Christian Broadcasting Network) report ends with the warning that “school officials are planning more of these workshops!”  The report – word for word – crops up on dozens of websites, propagated throughout a network of right wing blogs, bloggers, opinionators and semi-real news websites, to be forwarded, linked and discussed on other sites. 

The story of the lesbian kisses is admittedly a minor one, but it’s a valuable case study in how the right wing works to spread misinformation throughout its network of activists, voters, bloggers and communities.  Even if Fox were to retract the story today, it has spread far and wide, believed by who knows how many people.  Like other right wing atrocity narratives, it will be reported again and again and no matter how many times its refuted, it will keep coming back.  It will become the justification for right wing groups attempting to hold their own workshops at which people witness for Jesus and talk about becoming “ex-gay” and spread misinformation about gay people.  When pushed on it, they’ll defend themselves with the story about the forced lesbian kisses in middle school. 

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Maybe if your arguments weren’t bigoted we wouldn’t call you bigots

Over the weekend, the D-News linked to yet another article opposed to gay marriage (this one published in Provo Daily Herald).  Written by Jenet Erickson, of BYU’s School of Family Life, the article begins:

One of the most painful parts of the same-sex marriage debate is the accusation that those who oppose same-sex marriage must be blinded by bigotry . . .  marriage involves more than just the adults who marry. Because marriage involves children, society has a deep and abiding interest in how it affects them.

You’ve had all of recorded history to come up with arguments against gay marriage and the best you’ve got is “Oh, won’t someone think of the children?!”  You wonder why people think you’re a bigot?

Snark free: I get that it must be difficult to be accused of bigotry when the person being accused truly believes they are without bias.  At the same time, Erickson’s entire argument hinges on the notion that gay people marrying is a threat to children; infertile couples, couples who cheat on each other, couples who never plan to have children, none of these couples seem to bother her, only gay couples.  That’s why she and other people who oppose marriage equality get accused of bigotry.

Read the rest of this entry »

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