Archive for category This Blog
I’ve written about the ways in which many conservatives seem to yearn for yesteryear. This morning, historian Stephanie Coontz offered a fascinating and compelling article in the NY Times on the dangers of nostalgia:
In society at large, however, nostalgia can distort our understanding of the world in dangerous ways, making us needlessly negative about our current situation.[snip]
Happy memories also need to be put in context. I have interviewed many white people who have fond memories of their lives in the 1950s and early 1960s. The ones who never cross-examined those memories to get at the complexities were the ones most hostile to the civil rights and the women’s movements, which they saw as destroying the harmonious world they remembered.
Read the whole thing, it’s worth it.
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.
Finally the GOP has a scandal with legs; an elephant’s wet dream compared with Benghazi and the IRS hysteria. I know, I’m furious! Outraged!
In the process of investigating a leak that was responsible for an AP story in June 2012, on a thwarted Al Qaeda terror plot, the Department of Justice (DOJ) secretly obtained the phone records of AP journalists.
DOJ head AG, Eric Holder apparently recused himself from the FBI investigation “to avoid any potential appearance of a conflict of interest.” The investigation has been conducted under the direction of the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia and the supervision of the deputy attorney general, James M. Cole.
So why is the GOP/Roger Ailes not drooling? A casual observer might suppose the GOP is suddenly reluctant to remind us of their institutional hypocrisy. Obama, as Senator, supported a federal shield law and co-sponsored 2007 legislation that was eventually killed by a Republican filibuster.
No, there must be another reason. Since when have Republicans EVER shied away from hypocrisy? Perhaps they realize it’s perfectly legal thanks to the Great Adventures of Bush and Cheney.
“The explanation might be, in part, the angry cries from Republican members of Congress over the Associated Press reporting that appears to have triggered the Justice Department probe. In May 2012, the AP described how a double agent had infiltrated al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen and neutralized a plot to bomb an airliner. Multiple Republicans insisted at the time that the leak might constitute a criminal case and demanded a tough FBI investigation.
Their anger was largely directed at the alleged leakers, unlike the cries of “treason” directed at the New York Times when the paper published sensitive information about Bush-era anti-terror surveillance. Even so, conservatives are now in the odd position of implicitly defending the media’s rights against the imperative of national security secrecy, a cause that didn’t interest them much when the FBI sought media phone records during the Bush years.” Source
It may well be that there is no one reason. Republicans have attacked Obama for virtually EVERYTHING he has done or thought about doing, whether real or imagined. Over the past 5 years, they’ve covered every position. There aren’t any positions left that don’t require doing a 180 on something they whined about in the past. Republicans have no clothes.
Did Obama know about the acquisition of the AP phone records? Probably not. But I don’t care. Now would be the time for him to fire some folks and pass a new shield law.
Real journalism from Democracy Now!
Probably not. I mean, marriage is about a long term commitment (for most people).
Julie Burt an opponent of marriage equality had this to say in response to the Minnesota house passing marriage equality legislation:
“I feel sorry for our world. But the world has turned,” Burt said. “The world has turned to a place that wants immediate gratification. And it breaks my heart. Breaks my heart for my children and my grandchildren.”
Many adults don’t understand that guns are not toys. They are deadly weapons. Until this week, I was blissfully unaware that the Gun Lobby is peddling .22 caliber rifles for kids as young as 4 and 5. These weapons were prominently featured at the NRA annual convention just after another accidental shooting tragedy.
On Tuesday, a five-year-old Kentucky boy accidentally shot and killed his two-year-old sister with a gun he’d been given as a birthday present. The weapon, a small rifle, was manufactured specifically for children’s use.
In one week alone last month, four people were shot by toddlers.
There’s a major discussion happening right now about sexual assault on college campuses (i.e. it’s made the NY Times; some other posts and articles here, here, here and here). The basic shape of the conversation can be described fairly simply:
Rape and sexual assault are already underreported crimes. Students on college campuses are victims of rape and sexual assault on a regular basis; college campuses nationwide engage in efforts to minimize reporting of sexual assault on campus and take minimal actions against perpetrators. New regulations are shining a light on the situation.
The consensus seems to be that colleges aren’t doing enough to protect students from sexual assault and aren’t doing enough with regard to punishing perpetrators; it seems to me the worst a college can do is expel a perpetrator and even then they run risks they may prefer to avoid. As I think about this issue, it seems that colleges are trying to thread the needle with regard to legal liability – in the absence of specific knowledge about specific threats to a student from/by another student, they can’t take any action; they can’t expel a student because he might rape someone. Without evidence, they can’t punish a student. In many cases, victims can’t identify the perpetrators. Read the rest of this entry »
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.
In addition to being a total moron, Lindsey Graham is also a complete asshat.
Witness his latest pronouncement:
“Here’s what we’re suggesting, that the surviving suspect — due to the ties that these two have to radical Islamic thought and the ties to Chechnya, one of most radical countries in the world — that the president declare preliminarily that the evidence suggests that this man should be treated as an enemy combatant,” Graham said on the Senate floor.
Just cause he’s a citizen doesn’t mean he’s got, you know, rights. Graham in an imbecile and it’s depressing to think he has any say in writing our nation’s laws.
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.
Trying to catch up on the news this morning and it’s not easy.
I’m sorting through information and there’s a lot of it. I’ll trust DailyKos for the summary:
- Late Thursday night, the two suspects robbed a 7-11 near the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and then shot and killed an MIT police officer.
- The suspects then carjacked a vehicle (driver was released) and when confronted by police, a gun battle ensued, with the suspects throwing explosive devices out the car windows, including a pressure cooker device. (Police continue with efforts to disarm some of those explosives.)
- The man identified as “suspect number one” during Thursday’s FBI press conference is shot and killed by police. He had multiple gunshot wounds, blast injuries and had an IED strapped to his chest. “Suspect number two” eluded capture.
- The suspect still on the run has been identified as 19-year old Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev and the dead suspect as his 20-year old brother (no name given). They are said to be either Turkish or Chechen refugees who are/were legal, permanent residents.