Archive for category Religious Fundamentalism

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…


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.


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 »


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 »



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 »


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. 


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.

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No global warming, because, Jesus!

“I would point out that people like me who support hydrocarbon development don’t deny that the climate is changing. I think you can have an honest difference of opinion of what’s causing that change without automatically being either all-in that’s all because of mankind or it’s all just natural. I think there’s a divergence of evidence. I would point out that if you’re a believer in the Bible, one would have to say the Great Flood is an example of climate change, and that certainly wasn’t because mankind had overdeveloped hydrocarbon energy.”

—Republican Congressman from Texas Joe Barton, during today’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power hearing on the Northern Route Approval Act, legislation which would authorize Congress to approve the Keystone pipeline.

Yeah. New rule, if you think talking about 4000plus year old myths borrowed from a culture that in turn borrowed them from another that borrowed them from still another culture should be sited as scientific evidence to use against something that pretty much every peer reviewed climate work has found actual evidence for, you are too god damn stupid to be allowed to open your slobbering slack jawed maw in public. You are certainly the last person who should be allowed to vote on legislation that demands at least a sixth grade level of science comprehension. In fact, you should likely have your legal status as an adult human being taken away to protect yourself and others.

In short, you might be a Texas republican.

Hell, at least Idaho and Texas keep doing their level best to make sure Utah isn’t the national embarrassment.


The Lykov Family, Religious Faith and Religious Persecution

I hope I’m not the only person who read the story of Lykov family and felt a sense of both grief and outrage at the pointlessness of that family’s many years of suffering, isolation and privation.

Slowly, over several visits, the full story of the family emerged. The old man’s name was Karp Lykov, and he was an Old Believer—a member of a fundamentalist Russian Orthodox sect, worshiping in a style unchanged since the 17th century. Old Believers had been persecuted since the days of Peter the Great, and Lykov talked about it as though it had happened only yesterday; for him, Peter was a personal enemy and “the anti-Christ in human form”—a point he insisted had been amply proved by Tsar’s campaign to modernize Russia by forcibly “chopping off the beards of Christians.” But these centuries-old hatreds were conflated with more recent grievances; Karp was prone to complain in the same breath about a merchant who had refused to make a gift of 26 poods [940 pounds] of potatoes to the Old Believers sometime around 1900.

Things had only got worse for the Lykov family when the atheist Bolsheviks took power. Under the Soviets, isolated Old Believer communities that had fled to Siberia to escape persecution began to retreat ever further from civilization. During the purges of the 1930s, with Christianity itself under assault, a Communist patrol had shot Lykov’s brother on the outskirts of their village while Lykov knelt working beside him. He had responded by scooping up his family and bolting into forest.

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The Republicans Passion for Pelvic Politics Takes a Turn for the Toxic

Via of Ed Kilgore at Washington Monthly, this report about Kansas Republican legislators’ latest attempt to micromanage women’s magical lady parts:

The Kansas legislature is advancing an omnibus abortion bill that would, among other things, define life as beginning at conception in the state constitution and place unnecessary restrictions on abortion providers in the state. HB 2253 has already passed the House, and looks poised to gain enough support to sail through the Senate — but only after Republicans rejected several key amendments to soften the measure, including a provision to add exceptions for rape and incest to the state’s existing abortion restrictions. Top Republicans decried those provisions as “little gotcha amendments.”

There’s an interesting dynamic at work here.  Conservative Republicans jump up on their sanctimonious high horse over abortion.  Then they get tangled up in the conversations about rape and incest because of course abortion isn’t as black and white as anti-choice forced birther folks like to pretend it is.  Rape and incest are the obvious first stumbling blocks to the anti-choicers simplistic moralizing.  Having invested significant time and energy into sentimentalizing fetuses, the forced birthers cannot now pretend that the sentiment only applies to some fetuses.  So they’re forced to make incredibly cruel arguments – women who get pregnant as a result of rape or incest shouldn’t punish the fetus by having it aborted; they should instead see it as a blessing.  It’s an awful argument but it flows directly from the logic embraced by the anti-choice movement.

Enmeshed in their own arguments, the anti-choice people wind up unable to make coherent arguments about abortion, contraception or reproduction.  They end up buying into various myths (for instance the debunked claim that abortion causes breast cancer or that women’s magical lady parts prevent conception when they’re being raped).  In this instance in Kansas, they’re forced to pretend any objection to their forced birth agenda is nothing more than politics. 

And despite wanting desperately to avoid the topic of rape, Republicans can’t seem to steer clear of it.  And so the unpleasant dynamic sucks them into a discussion they want to avoid.  And they end up saying things that make them sound like sociopaths.  In response, they propose even more toxic and authoritarian rules concerning the ladyparts.

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Note to Shit-Kicking Conservatives: We (U.S. & World) Are Moving on Without Your Tired Lame Bigoted Asses.

Each years CPAC showcases the steady, incremental march toward the obsolescence of conservatism. And while conservatives are by nature regressive and behind the times, as the brutal velocity of progress in science, communication, education et. al. increases, conservative ideas are more obsolete than ever. Traditional Conservatism is by all accounts, DEAD.

The Republican Party has become authoritarian out of necessity. Moderates are leaving the party in increasing numbers. Inter-party calls for sanity fall on deaf ears. Example: CPAC went for Birthers and extremists like Trump and Gomert over far right assholes like Chris Christy.

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