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may also occasionally contain implicit and explicit references to

tobacco, alcohol, and other substances, as well as sexuality,

and favors logic over dogma, any or all of which may offend some,

and whereas I may occasionally give disclaimers,

but I do NOT give "trigger warnings,"

therefore, be it resolved that: this blog is intended for mature readers.

However, this blog is not age-restricted.



Thursday, December 10, 2015

Phobia vs. -phobia; Homophobia, Transphobia, Denial, Repression, and Uncertainty







Phobia vs. -phobia;
Homophobia, Transphobia,
Denial, Repression, and Uncertainty,
by Liviana (Giovanna L.)




Lately, the author has noticed a reply to charges of homophobia (and/or transphobia) having seemingly become popular among those who are, in fact, homophobic (and/or transphobic) to a greater or lesser degree, and the reply in question is an attempt to attack the very designation "homophobia" (or "transphobia") on the grounds that a phobia is a fear and they are not afraid of Gay people (or Trans people) so they can't be homophobic (or transphobic).  The author is inclined to suspect that this rhetoric is derived from a common source, as she has noticed it more and more, and only of late.  The source, however, is irrelevant for the purposes of the present discussion, which will focus on the actual semantics of the terminology, rather than its source, and will go on to provide references defining and explaining homophobia and transphobia, as well as references which suggest another sort of explanation (not of meanings, but of causes).

The rhetoric in question ignores both common usage found in descriptive vocabularies as well as technical usage found in psychological, psychiatric, and sociological sources (and even sources concerned with more "physical" medicine), in which the suffix "-phobia" is not restricted to a meaning of "fear" only, much less only "irrational fear."

Witness common usage of the word defined:
Merriam-Webster

and medical usage of both the word and the suffix defined:
Merriam-Webster

The reader will note that, even in the first link, which describes common usage, the definition plainly states:
an extremely strong dislike or fear of someone or something
(Emphasis added.)

In the second link, the medical definition of the suffix is given as:
-phobia
noun combining form  -pho·bia  \ˈfō-bē-ə\
Medical Definition of -phobia
1
:  abnormal fear of <acrophobia>
2
:  intolerance or aversion for <photophobia>

For those who are unaware, photophobia is a medical (physical) condition (or symptom of some other [physical] condition):
Photophobia is eye discomfort in bright light.
--  Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia | U.S. National Library of Medicine | National Institutes of Health



Gay Pride Flag



More specifically, here are definitions and explanations of "homophobia" and "transphobia":

Definition of homophobia
:  irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals
--  Merriam-Webster


Lesbian Pride Flag

Definition of homophobia in English:
noun
Dislike of or prejudice against homosexual people.
--  Oxford Dictionaries


Bisexual Moon Symbol



The Oxford Online Dictionaries also give:
Definition of transphobia in English:
noun
Intense dislike of or prejudice against transsexual or transgender people:
'more than 120 complaints concerning transphobia in the media were made'
--  Oxford Dictionaries


Transgender Pride Flag by Jennifer Pellinen



What is Homophobia

Understanding Homophobia/Heterosexism

Transphobia - RationalWiki

Transphobia has been defined by the Crown Prosecution Service as “the fear of or a dislike directed towards trans people, or a fear of or dislike directed towards their perceived lifestyle, culture or characteristics, whether or not any specific trans person has that lifestyle or characteristic. The dislike does not have to be so severe as hatred. It is enough that people do something or abstain from doing something because they do not like trans people.
--  Tackling transphobia | CUSU LGBT+


To use an analogy, instead of everyone being evenly distributed in a sea, they are randomly swept up onto two separate islands, and there’s no swimming allowed in between! Each island has its own rules, or gender stereotypes, which set out how men or women should look, act or behave. The idea that boys should like blue and enjoy aggressive, competitive activities, whilst girls should be passive and nurturing, are two examples of gender stereotypes. There is strong pressure to conform to these gender rules. Society often penalises anyone who breaks the rules and the penalty is even worse particularly for those who try to leave the island which they found themselves on at birth – this is called transphobia and transphobia is the sharp end of sexism.
So, transphobia is intolerance of gender diversity. It is based around the idea that there are only two sexes – male or female, which you stay in from birth. And furthermore, that people who fit gender stereotypes (by sounding, looking or behaving like men and women are ‘supposed to’) are somehow better than those who don’t.
Trans people, gender queer people and people with a transsexual history can also experience homophobia, because the abuser often neither knows nor cares how a person identifies, just that they are different in some way.
--  What Is Transphobia? | Galop


Jennifer Pellinen's Transgender Pride Flag

Tran[s]phobia is an irrational fear of, and/or hostility towards, people who are transgender or who otherwise transgress traditional gender norms.
-- Transphobia - Definition and Examples


Interestingly, a number of studies have demonstrated a positive correlation between homophobia and repressed Homosexuality, which is to say, many homophobes are themselves Homosexuals in denial.  A brief sample of the literature follows, with quotes from some of the examples.

Is homophobia associated with homosexual arousal? | National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health

Parental autonomy support and discrepancies between implicit and explicit sexual identities: Dynamics of self-acceptance and defense. | American Psychological Association

Is Homophobia Associated with an Implicit Same-Sex Attraction? (Cara C. MacInnis & Gordon Hodson) - The Journal of Sex Research - 18 Sep 2012

Is Homophobia Associated With Homosexual Arousal? (Henry E. Adams, Lester W. Wright, Jr., and Bethany A. Lohr;  University of Georgia) - Journal of Abnormal Psychology - 1996, Vol. 105, No. 3 (.pdf file)

Homophobes Likely To Be Closet Gays, Study Finds | International Business Times

Is some homophobia self-phobia? -- ScienceDaily

Are Homophobes Really Gay? | Psychology Today

Study: Homophobes May Be Hidden Homosexuals | Homophobia & Anti-Gay Sentiment | LiveScience

The Roots Of Homophobia - Putting Freud To The Test | Assault On Gay America | FRONTLINE | PBS

Homophobic?  Maybe You're Gay - The New York Times

Homophobes Might Be Hidden Homosexuals - Scientific American

Homophobic Attitudes Likely To Be Stronger Among Those Who Have Repressed Same-Sex Attraction: Report

Are Homophobes Secretly Attracted to Gay People? | Psychology Today

Are Homophobic People Really Gay and Not Accepting It? | Psychology Today

Homophobia linked to lack of awareness of one's sexual orientation and authoritarian parenting, study shows

Homophobes Are Gay - Study (The Young Turks) (video)



Transgender Pride Flag by Monica Helms


More recently (since "transphobia" is itself a more recent term than "homophobia" -- as noted in the Oxford Dictionaries, "homophobia" dates from the 1960s, while "transphobia" dates from the 1990s), some thinkers have begun to suggest that transphobia may also have a positive correlation with a fragile gender identity, that transphobes may themselves be still "struggling with their own gender identity."  A couple of such discussions are linked below, with some quotations.

The cause of transphobia is still a subject of research and debate, but it likely reflects the fragile nature of gender identity. Men's and women's lives, genes, and bodies are not terribly different; the fact that someone can convincingly identify as a member of the opposite sex calls the very concept of gender into question. People who are quietly struggling with their own gender identity, and people for whom gender identity is especially important, might be frightened--even angry--when confronted with the fragility of gender.
-- Transphobia - Definition and Examples


Are our own gender identities so fragile that we must stigmatise a first-grader for using the girls' room?
...
Discrimination against transgender people is real, pervasive and often legal. And it often builds from ignorance and bias – things that start young.
...
While transgender people do face widespread mistreatment, the discrimination doesn't make much sense. Who, exactly, gets hurt if folks match their physical appearance to their gender identity? Why is it such a problem for a six-year-old girl to use the girls' bathroom?
Everyone has a gender identity. You do, and so do I. Just as the gay rights movement has made us collectively realize that we all have a sexual orientation – whether it be straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual or something else – advocates for transgender rights try to impart the lesson that each person has an internal sense of being male or female (or, for some folks, neither, or something in between). As Silverman says:
"We all have a gender identity. We just never have to think about if it we're not transgender because no one questions it."
-- From school to society, the intolerance transgender people face | The Guardian





In closing, the author will, again, quote a man whom she has quoted before in this blog -- a flawed man, yes, but a visionary man nevertheless (for each person, in spite of her or his best efforts, is imperfect, yet he or she can still do good despite her or his imperfections):

If man is to survive, he will have learned to take a delight in the essential differences between men and between cultures. He will learn that differences in ideas and attitudes are a delight, part of life's exciting variety, not something to fear.
-- Gene Roddenberry

Not something to fear, and, the author would add, not something to hate.

Va'Vuhnaya s'Va'Terishlar (Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations)

Peace and long life.
Live long and prosper.













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Monday, December 7, 2015

Ethics, Morals, Scruples, and Folkways





Ethics, Morals, Scruples, and Folkways,
by Liviana (Giovanna L.)



Ethics, Morals, Scruples, and Folkways all concern behavior/conduct, and overlap to some extent, but they are not synonyms (I realize that common usage treats the terms "ethics" and "morals" as more or less synonymous, but I contend that they should not be seen as identical in meaning).  Adding to the complication involved in distinguishing between these words is the fact that the discipline of Philosophy uses the term "Ethics" to refer to that branch of the tree of Philosophy which deals with the science of conduct, under which header all four of these terms should be placed.  I believe this can be resolved by bearing in mind that the use in Philosophy to refer to "the science of conduct" is an example of technical jargon and should be considered an umbrella.  So, how do I distinguish these terms, apart from (or rather, under the umbrella of) the technical jargon?

An ethic, or an ethical system, is part of a worldview (be it cultural, philosophical, or religious) and essentially static (although subject to interpretation), thus basically unchanging apart from exegesis and application.  Regarding an ethic as more or less objective would not be wrong, although it would be, perhaps, imprecise.  To elaborate on this latter notion, I should say that the underlying concepts of an ethic do not themselves change, but the interpretation, and thus, the application, of an ethic may vary over time or due to sectarian differences of perspective;  in order to hold this understanding, I must disregard hyper-literalistic legalism, which, I would insist, is an aberration of ethical thought due to the innate irrationality of such a perspective which invariably leads to self-referential incoherence, doublethink, and cognitive dissonance.

A morality is societal, and malleable with respect to time and place, thus relative.  Morals change as the society ebbs and flows in its education, experience, technological changes, exposure to other societies, migration, environmental factors, and so on.  What is regarded as moral by a given society will change over time, and this change is more than mere reinterpretation and application;  the underlying concepts themselves change.  If a social group emigrates to another geographic location, the physical environment of their new home, as well as their new neighbors, may affect their morality over time.  With technological advances, new challenges arise and new understandings are born, which may alter the underlying moral concepts of the social group.  Again, the quality of education in a society fluctuates over time, and this too can change basic concepts of a society.

Scruples are individual viewpoints on conduct and behavior, which are usually influenced to a greater or lesser extent by the morals of the society in which the individual lives, and potentially also by the ethics of the various worldviews with which the individual may have come in contact.  Scruples will, for most individuals, change over time due to various influences and experiences, as well as continuing education.

Folkways are either cultural or societal, or both, and tend to be rather conservative, although reasons which were their source may be forgotten or lost over time;  while some folkways have an origin in an ethic or a morality, if the original ethical or moral basis be lost or forgotten, they become mere traditional custom and thus are worthy of the name "folkway" for those who (semi-consciously) practice them without understanding of the reason(s) for their existence.  An example of this is the practice of walking on one side or the other of a sidewalk/pavement or hallway.  Originally, chariot drivers would veer left when meeting, so that the right sides of the chariot boards were turned toward one another as they passed, and the same conduct was in play when mounted riders or people on foot met.  Many concepts are behind these applications (among which was the fact that most persons are right-handed and thus would want their dominant arm turned toward a potential challenger;  consequently, turning the left side toward someone became regarded as an intentional affront or attempt to provoke), but the basic underlying reason was the belief that moving counterclockwise (or tuathal/widdershins) was harmful.  When the American colonies rebelled against British rule, a number of customs and the like were intentionally changed (although by this time, the original bases of many of these customs was long forgotten by most), and one of those was the custom of driving on the left side of a road.  Americans intentionally began driving on the right side of the road in order to distinguish themselves from the British.  As a result of this change in driving wagons, carriages, carts, and so on, an American folkway is to walk on the right side of the sidewalk or hallway, whereas in Britain, the folkway continues to be walking on the left side of the pavement or hallway.  Originally based on a variety of related religious and ethical concepts which were part of a worldview, these practices have now become, for most, semi-conscious traditional custom.  When a member of one of these societies visits the other society and walks down the "wrong" side of the hallway or pavement/sidewalk, natives will feel uncomfortable, will regard the foreigner with some aversion, but some will not be entirely sure why they have these feelings, and even those who get the realization that the foreigner is walking on "the 'wrong' side," will still be extremely unlikely to question why that is "the 'wrong' side" or (in the case of Americans) how it came to be regarded as such (indeed, most will be unaware that it even became viewed as such, while instead subconsciously assuming that it has always been "the 'wrong' side").

In summary, then, an ethic is a static and more or less objective aspect of a worldview (cultural, philosophical, or religious), a morality is a relative aspect of a given society, scruples are individual and generally variable, and folkways are socio-cultural and relative but usually change only very slowly within a given society and/or culture.








ΜΕΓΑΛΗ·Η·ΠΑΛΛΑC·ΑΘΗΝΑ


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Giving Tuesday




Leonard Nimoy, 1931-2015



Today is "Giving Tuesday," a global day dedicated to giving back.  For those who can and would like to give to a charity on this Giving Tuesday, many worthy causes exist.  I would like to recommend the following:



The COPD Foundation
in memory of Leonard Nimoy




















Donations to any of the charities above are tax-deductible, to the extent permitted by law.







If you are able and willing to make a donation which is not  tax-deductible, but nevertheless for a good cause, please consider giving to NARAL Pro-Choice America.






Thanks for giving, you who are willing and able to do so.

If you are not able to give, that's alright, too.  I've been there myself, and I understand.


A Sense of Perspective on Liberty? Part 5






A Sense of Perspective on Liberty?
Part 5,

Or, "Christian Fundamentalist Terrorism
and Republican Fascism,"
by Liviana (Giovanna L.)


"A police officer who was a pastor at his local church. An Iraq war veteran. A mother of two, accompanying a friend. Those were the three fatalities in Friday's shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

"It's the sixth attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic since July, when anti-abortion extremists who've been linked to clinic bombings began releasing deceptively edited videos. Those extremists have fueled outright hate for the organization among right-wing radio hosts, anti-choice state legislators, and Republicans in the U.S. Congress and on the presidential trail—and that culture of hate seems to have fueled this tragedy."
-- MoveOn.org

Terrorism is exactly what the anti-choice crimes are, bigotry fanned into violent hatred by the unscrupulous and the ambitious -- an appeal to the basest sentiments, fear, ignorance, intolerance, irrationality, even superstition, all in a bid to gain power.  None dare call it "fascism"?  I saw this coming already during Reagan's second term as President, thanks to a year of university Logic and a university senior-level history course concerned with the 20th century in Europe, and it so scared me that I, raised by Conservative Republican parents who were very active in politics, abandoned the Republican Party and have only made the mistake of looking back once.

It absolutely IS fascism, and it's been a growing malignancy within the Republican Party since racist Dixiecrats left the Democratic Party in droves and entered the Republican Party (after LBJ approved the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and again approved another Civil Rights Act in 1968), and it got another push when Protestant Fundamentalists abandoned the Democratic Party in late 1976 and still more in 1977 (following publication of an interview of then-candidate-for-President Jimmy Carter by Playboy magazine in November of 1976), and then, throughout the late 1970s and on to the present, the rhetoric of the Republican Party changed, becoming more and more emotively charged.  By 1988, it was bad enough that George Bush the Elder could dismiss something said by Michael Dukakis in a debate by simply uttering the retort "That's just liberal," without anyone challenging the elder Bush on the ad Hominem which his comment was.  Political discourse degenerated further into rhetoric and further away from Logic, helped along by loudmouthed know-nothing assholes like Rush Limbaugh.

The situation has now devolved to the point that the Republican Party currently sounds alarmingly like the John Birch Society, which was once, as noted by Claire Conner, "drummed out of the GOP and exiled to the lunatic fringe," in those years when the Republican Party still had some grasp of Logic, still believed in Liberty and Justice for All (President Eisenhower, some will remember, even federalized the National Guard in Arkansas to enforce desegregation of education), and even (*gasp*) supported environmental conservation.

The salient characteristics of Fascism are well-documented in many historical references.  A thinking person -- an honest  person -- has but to examine those features and compare them with the rhetoric of the Republican Party today to see a clear and present danger to the citizens of the United States and to the Federal Democratic Republic which the Founding Fathers established.

An American soldier takes an oath "to support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic."  It's time for those soldiers and former soldiers to vote based on that oath.

Wake up, America.  Before it's too late.


The 14 Points of Fascism - The Daily Kos

fascism | politics | Britannica.com

Kasich's new Trump ad goes full on Godwin and it's a doozy

Homegrown Extremists Tied to Deadlier Toll Than Jihadists in U.S. Since 9/11 - The New York Times

The Causes of Fundamentalism, Intolerance and Extremism in World Religions, and Some Solutions

Time to Start Screaming » Claire Conner

A History of the Dixiecrats

Democrats Vs. Dixiecrats

How Dixiecrats Became Republicans

Jimmy Carter's Controversial Playboy Interview

Planned Parenthood Shooter Said 'No More Baby Parts' After Arrest

Vile Fox News Audience Reacts To Shooting At Colorado Planned Parenthood

Dear Republicans Words Do Effing Matter. I Do Blame You.

When was the last time you heard Hillary or Bernie incite murders of conservatives?

Tell the Department of Justice: Investigate Clinic Violence as Domestic Terrorism










Updated in the early afternoon and again in the late afternoon of the same date:

Predictably, anti-choice voices are insisting that the shooting at the Planned Parenthood Clinic in Colorado Springs was about something else entirely, and had nothing to do with their "cause," since, unfortunately, denialism is also a feature of fascism and neo-fascism:
Abortion Opponents Insist The Planned Parenthood Shooting Was Actually A Bank Robbery
Have they no shame at all?

However, the assertion of the anti-choice crowd in this matter is obviously false, since, as already reported in one of the articles linked earlier in this post, the terrorist himself made a very clear comment about his motives when arrested:
The Political Motivations Of The Planned Parenthood Shooting Suspect, Revealed

In related news, someone might want to consider whether the judgment of the Supreme Court in Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969) be applicable to this (as well as rhetoric used by Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio, and others running for the Republican nomination for President):
Before Shooting, Cruz Touted Endorsement From Activist Who Called For Execution Of Abortion Doctors

GOP Presidential Candidates Sharing Stage With Pastor Who Hailed Murder Of Abortion Provider

The Undeniable Link Between Anti-Abortion Rhetoric and the Planned Parenthood Attack

If The Anti-Abortion Movement Doesn't Condone Violence, How Do Republicans Explain These Remarks?

After the terrorist attack, we are already aware that both Carly Fiorina and Ted Cruz attempted to shift attention and blame onto "the Left," as reported here:
Carly Fiorina Calls Planned Parenthood Shooter a 'Protester,' Decries 'Left-Wing Tactics'

Carly Fiorina, you Go**amned Lying Sack of Sh*t

Not to be outdone by Carly, Ted the Tool took it into the realm of delusion and attempted to add demonization of Trans persons to the mix, never mind the facts that Trans persons are already marginalized, disenfranchised, dehumanized, and subject to violence, and that mere days before this nasty rhetoric was TDoR 2015, the memorial date for remembering all those who have died in the previous year as a result of transphobia:
Ted Cruz Describes Alleged Planned Parenthood Shooter As ‘Transgendered Leftist Activist’

Ted Cruz is a professional liar: The Planned Parenthood shooting was the work of a “transgendered leftist activist”

Ted Cruz, you Go**amned Lying Sack of Sh*t

Now, to be fair to Ted the Tool (a courtesy I suspect he would not offer to those who disagree with him) -- but also to demonstrate his toolness, as noted already in the story from Salon above, his claim seems to have originated from a post by Republican blogger Jim Hoft:
COURT RECORDS: Colorado Planned Parenthood Shooter NOT Republican, Identifies as Woman
(Note that, at the time of this update to my post, there has been no update by Hoft to correct the false claims in the post in question, now three days old.)
And, as you might expect, this false claim has spread like wildfire across the internet on Right Wing, Republican, Reactionary, and Theocratic sites, Twitter accounts, etc, as reported here:
Right-wingers claim Colorado shooter Robert Lewis Dear is a trans woman

But, as it turns out (and as most sane people already kinda knew):
Surprise! The Planned Parenthood Shooter Is Not Transgender

And the only evidence available of any sort of political activism in the past on the part of the terrorist is a testimony from neighbors that he gave anti-Obama pamphlets to them, which, I'm sure, is not exactly something that what the Right Wing in the USA regards as a "Leftist" would be likely to do:
Here’s What We Know About The Suspect In The Planned Parenthood Shooting

And Bill O'Reilly has prostituted his last shred of decency away in the wake of this terrorist act:
Bill O’Reilly Slams Planned Parenthood After Colorado Shooting

Meanwhile, the United Nations Human Rights office issued the following statement:
Women have the right to make their own decisions about their lives and their bodies

In other, also related, news, Christian Fundamentalists continue to demonstrate that all their pretensions of being victimized and just wanting freedom to practice their religion are so much smoke and mirrors designed to facilitate victimizing others and forcing others to genuflect to their sacred cow patties.
School Cancels Reading of Jazz Jennings' Book After Conservative Group Threatens to Sue





#DomesticTerrorism   #Racism  #BigotryDisguisedAsReligion   #Fundamentalism  #Ignorance   #Prejudice   #Intolerance   #Superstition  #Fascism   #RepublicanParty   #History  #BodySovereignty   #Theocracy  #SocialReactionaries   #RightWingExtremists  #Liberty   #Justice   #Equality  #IStandWithPlannedParenthood  #ProsecuteDomesticTerroristsAsTerrorists  #Discrimination   #HateCrime  #FirstAmendmentNonEstablishmentClause  



Friday, November 20, 2015

TDoR 2015






Transgender Day of Remembrance 2015




Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR), which occurs annually on November 20, is a day to memorialize those who have been murdered as a result of transphobia and to bring attention to the continued violence endured by the transgender community.
(from Wikipedia)

Although not every person represented during the Day of Remembrance self-identified as transgender — that is, as a transsexual, crossdresser, or otherwise gender-variant — each was a victim of violence based on bias against transgender people.

(from International Transgender Day of Remembrance)

TDoR 2015 -- The List of Those to be Remembered








Poignant two-part episode of All in the Family :







Friday, September 4, 2015

Sandwich Experiment



The results from my latest sandwich experiment are in!

The Raw Data:
______________________________________________

Sandwich Type:  Panini

The THRONE:   One slice, medium-sliced white Italian bread (Pepperidge Farm), buttered (Hiland salted butter) on the bottom
The MEATS:  6 slices, Hickory-Smoked Turkey Breast (Oscar Meyer) + 2 slices, Cherrywood-Smoked Ham (Hormel Natural Choice) + 1 pinch, crumbled Hickory-Smoked Bacon (Oscar Meyer)
The CHEESES:  Swiss, shredded + Mozzarella, shredded + Sharp Cheddar, shredded (all Sargento)
The VEGGIE:  Dill Pickle Relish (Heinz!)
The CONDIMENTS:  Pizza Sauce! (my basic homemade using San Marzano tomatoes with basil, sea salt, black pepper, and onion powder) + Yellow Mustard (Heinz!)
The CROWN:  One slice, medium-sliced white Italian bread (Pepperidge Farm), buttered (Hiland salted butter) on the top
The HEAT:  George Foreman Lean, Mean, Fat-Reducing, Grilling Machine
______________________________________________

The VERDICT:  Too much for one meal, but cut in half, this yields:
Two Foodgasms.



Saturday, August 22, 2015

A Sense of Perspective on Liberty? Part 4, or Republican Hypocrisy in the News




A Sense of Perspective on Liberty?
Part 4,

Or, "Republican Hypocrisy in the News,"
by Liviana (Giovanna L.)




(Disclaimer:  The following is not my general style of composition, but I'm currently too sleep-deprived and far too annoyed by all of this shit to be polite about it.)

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/08/18/1413186/-Missouri-senators-resign-after-scandals-Republicans-propose-fix-modest-dress-code-for-interns?detail=email

Because, yes, blame the woman instead of admitting your own responsibility.  Doesn't James I:14 say "each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire"?
His.  Own.  Desire.

Oh, and while we're on the subject of men trying to control what women wear, let's start early and enforce a ridiculous dress code in high school, because girls shouldn't wear clothes that reveal their collarbones (!!!), lest the boys engage in sexual harassment ...
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/08/18/1413216/-Facebook-post-exposes-ridiculous-high-school-dress-code?detail=email
I cannot make this shit up.

Why not just go all the way and institute Christian Sharia Law so we'll have to wear burqas, lest we somehow manage to entice males, who are apparently pathetically weak when it comes to ethics and self-control?  Because it's our fault, right?  We females?  Well, not according to James, but hey! that's not a very convenient passage for those who want a scapegoat so they don't have to admit that they are responsible for their own wrongdoing.

After all, women shouldn't (couldn't possibly) be equal to men, should (could) we?  At least that's what some people believe:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/08/19/1413545/-U-S-Army-takes-Facebook-trolls-head-on-after-two-women-make-history

On the other hand, there are women like this, who embrace the Right Wing's nonsensical economic theories and have a past as "successful" CEOs ...
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/08/18/1413047/-Public-service-reminder-Carly-Fiorina-was-one-of-the-worst-CEOs-in-tech-industry-history?detail=email
or, you know, maybe not so successful after all.

Speaking of the military, ...
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/08/19/1413372/-The-Biggest-Scandal-in-US-History-That-We-re-Still-Not-Talking-About?detail=email
Remember this one.  It's important when considering all the Republican (and especially Neocon and Theocratic) opposition to spending money on anything but the military.

Oh, by the way, since we were talking about education, did you know that Moses was one of the Founding Fathers of the USA?
Texas public schools are leading the way in presenting that bit of "education," and there are plenty of other examples of Republican ideas of how to rename indoctrination as "education":
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/06/11/1392299/-The-Republican-war-on-education

Oh, and let's discourage people who might be good teachers from even trying to become teachers by making their working conditions even shittier:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/08/19/1413565/-Gov-John-Kasich-If-I-were-king-in-America-I-would-abolish-all-teachers-lounges?detail=email

Let's talk more about education, shall we?  Specifically, sex education:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/08/19/1413445/--Sex-is-like-pre-chewed-chewing-gum-Is-that-what-you-want-to-present-to-your-husband?detail=email
Because, you know, it's perfectly acceptable to invent "facts" and spew religious views in a public school under the guise of "education."
And of course, you can't ask fair questions that might include answers which suggest the possibility of having positive feelings after having sex.  Because ... sex is bad?  Really?  Never gonna convince this Succuba of that, ya pompous and pseudo-pious jackasses, especially in light of the dossiers this Succuba has on your own interesting sexual escapades -- but we'll come back to that anon (but without the anonymity many of you hoped for).

Hey, I know!  Let's review the record on education of some of the glorious candidates for the Republican nomination for the office of President of the United States of America.  That will surely shut this "virago" Giovanna up.

John Kasich:
First budget as Governor of Ohio cut $250 million from Ohio colleges and universities.
Cut half a billion dollars from Ohio public schools.
Tried to strip teachers of collective bargaining rights.

Scott Walker:
Made massive funding cuts to the University of Wisconsin system.
Decreased per-pupil spending at one of the highest rates in the nation.
Actually stripped teachers of collective bargaining rights.

Jeb Bush:
Oversaw a nearly 60% tuition increase while cutting public university funding.
Left Florida's graduation rate dead last after two terms as Governor.
Had his prized education reforms suspended by the Florida legislature.

And the clear winner in Republican hatred of education?
Ted Cruz:
Promised to abolish the Federal Department of Education.

Hmm, that's only the tip of the iceberg, and I'm not encouraged to shut up by this, boys.
No, I think I'll just shake my little tush on the catwalk instead,
and continue with this dizzying array of writings on the wall, so that you can read clearly:
"M'nei m'nei t'qeil u-pharsin."

Speaking of Christian Sharia Law, ...
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/08/20/1413850/-Woman-claims-she-was-fired-from-KS-sec-of-state-office-for-not-attending-prayer-services?detail=email
Because people who don't attend prayer services or church don't deserve jobs, right?

And of course, some who do attend prayer services and church don't either, if they aren't attending the "right" sort of church and came from elsewhere in search of a better life where drug cartels don't murder people constantly, but should instead be made into slaves:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/08/20/1413938/-Crazy-Republican-wants-to-turn-immigrants-into-slaves-Forget-the-13th-Amendment?detail=email
Because, you know, Republicans are all about Murka fer Murkans!  And brown people should be slaves in the Republican utopia, regardless of what the Constitution says.  But don't the Republicans talk a lot about how they love the Constitution and want to "restore" it and such things?

Well, as it turns out, the 13th Amendment is not the only bit of the Constitution of which Republicans do not seem to be very fond ...
The Daily Kos (from which most of these stories come) has a reputation for being a "liberal" news source, but Forbes magazine is a bastion of the Right Wing, and guess what they revealed?
Go on, guess.
No?  Alright, I'll tell ya.  Donald Trump believes that the 14th Amendment is unconstitutional and doesn't agree that a new amendment would be necessary to overturn it, because, of course, in his pea-sized brain, the Supreme Court can just declare the Constitution unconstitutional (to which I reply:  "... wat?"):
http://www.forbes.com/sites/rickungar/2015/08/19/trump-throws-constitution-and-14th-amendment-under-the-bus/

Oh, and it gets "better" (worse) ...
Didn't you know?  People who support Trump are so passionate about Murka that hate crimes are excusable:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/08/20/1413904/-Trump-on-supporters-who-beat-Hispanic-man-People-who-are-following-me-are-very-passionate?detail=email
and racist slogans are acceptable:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/08/22/1414429/-They-Yelled-White-Power-From-the-Stands-at-Donald-Trump-s-Alabama-Rally
and if you think that was just one guy, think again:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/08/24/1415069/-Meet-Donald-Trump-s-base?detail=email

I mean, damn.  This guy is one of the three FRONT RUNNERS in the current campaign for the Republican nomination for President of the United States of America.

Maybe the Republicans realize how little support they actually have, though, and that's why they keep trying to redraw the voting regions ...
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/08/17/1412973/-Virginia-Democrats-punk-Republicans-saying-no-to-gerrymandered-maps-and-conservative-judges?detail=email

After all, with nonsense like this, they can't really hope to retain power much longer ...
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/08/18/1413068/-A-Texas-Conservative-Openly-Call-For-Violence-Against-LGBT-People?detail=email
Because, you know, killing people who are different from you is such a moral act ...
Sadly, this is not an isolated incident, nor even the most outrageous or most blatant ...
http://www.npr.org/sections/itsallpolitics/2015/03/24/395070728/calif-lawyer-proposes-ballot-initiative-to-kills-gays-and-lesbians
But who exactly is this lawyer?
http://talkingpointsmemo.com/muckraker/matt-gregory-mclaughlin-kill-all-gays-california
Apparently, information about him is somewhat scarce.

But perhaps instead of looking at those whom some would consider a lunatic "fringe" in the Religious Right, we should look at how some of the other, more "mainstream" and "sane," Republicans who are "guardians of morality and decency" are so adept at practicing what they preach ...
Remember my earlier reference to dossiers?  Well, it's that time.
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/08/17/1412848/-Michigan-State-Rep-Todd-Courser-takes-to-Facebook-to-Jesus-splain-away-his-disgusting-actions?detail=email
That story right there is the most amazing one of the lot.
This guy, a Tea Party Republican and Michigan State Representative, who is married, who advocates for "family values," has an extramarital affair with another Tea Party Republican who is also an advocate of "family values."
So when he finds out that the story is about to break, what does this "brilliant" man do?
He arranges for someone to accuse him of having hired a male prostitute, because ...
Yeah, I got nothin'.  What the hell was that supposed to accomplish?

Oh, hey, look at this fine example of practicing what one preaches:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/08/19/1413635/-Bwahahaha-Josh-Duggar-had-an-Ashley-Madison-Account-or-Two?detail=email
And there's more!
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/08/21/1414136/-Louisiana-GOP-head-says-he-used-Ashley-Madison-account-for-opposition-research

"Guardians of morality and decency" are often like this, though, so I'm not sure why anyone is surprised.  More relevantly, I'm not sure why anyone allowed themselves to be deceived by the rhetoric.

After all, there's quite a history of this sort of thing ...

http://www.salon.com/2013/03/26/prostitution_scandal_has_still_not_gotten_david_vitter_down/

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/06/23/us/illinois-senate-campaign-thrown-into-prurient-turmoil.html

http://www.chicagotribune.com/chi-0406260116jun26-story.html

Notice the mention of Dennis Hastert in that last story?  Well, guess what? ...
http://www.salon.com/2015/06/04/gops_obscene_sex_cop_hypocrisy_dennis_hastert_hillary_clinton_and_the_absurdity_of_the_clinton_impeachment_partner/

But we're not done yet.

http://www.salon.com/2007/08/28/craig/

http://truth-out.org/buzzflash/commentary/another-republican-revealed-as-sex-pervert-gop-fundraiser-and-husband-of-dancing-with-the-stars-contestant/686-another-republican-revealed-as-sex-pervert-gop-fundraiser-and-husband-of-dancing-with-the-stars-contestant

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/10/13/256969/-Country-Music-Star-files-for-Divorce-from-GOP-Sex-Fiend-Hubby

http://www.rawstory.com/2015/05/tennessee-republican-who-pressured-mistress-to-have-abortion-votes-to-restrict-them-for-other-women/

Oh, no, we're far from done.

http://www.salon.com/2015/06/08/the_gops_demented_family_values_from_the_duggars_to_david_vitter_again_and_again_the_social_conservatives_have_horrifying_hypocrisy_problems/

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/07/11/356373/-GOP-Family-Values-Hypocrites-The-Complete-List-Updated

Bernie has a few words for these fakes:
http://www.forwardprogressives.com/bernie-sanders-republicans-family-values/


See, there are Republican politicians from the past that I think did some good and were decent people, and at least generally devoid of hypocrisy.  But blessed Diana of the Ephesians! the Republican politicians these days seem to be drawn from the local asylums, or are so clueless, corrupt, and/or hypocritical they shouldn't be trusted with any sort of authority.  Mind you, I'm not condemning them for their sexual escapades.  I'm condemning them for their efforts to legislate their morality while not even living by what they're trying to impose on the rest of us.

I mean, seriously, you have Mike Huckabee, who seemed to have a conscience back when he was a pastor in Pine Bluff and even challenged the judgmentalism of the then-still-growing and not-yet-dominant Fundamentalist wing of the Southern Baptist Convention by preaching a sermon based on the XIVth chapter of Romans to a group of (mostly ministerial) students in Berry Chapel on the campus of Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia in the Spring of 1985, but after attaining some fame, he was seen jamming on his Fox television show with Ted Nugent (who has songs about rape and sexual predation and sex with underage girls), and now regularly engages in fear- and hate-mongering, catering to the ignorance and prejudices of those from whom he seeks support in his bid for the Republican nomination for President by spewing the same sort of judgmental nonsense he himself condemned in that very sermon.
What?  You didn't think anyone knew about that, Mike?  How you handed the Fundamentalists their own asses for being such asses toward those with whom they disagreed?  Surely you remember the sermon?  Others certainly do.  You were right then;  the sermon was exactly what those students needed to hear, whether it sank in for all of them or not (it unfortunately did not, but anyway, at least you said what you should have said).  You're wrong now.  You may have been a good preacher, but you have made a lousy politician.  Maybe you should be still and listen for a while, to find if you have a vocation or not, and to what.

You have Ted Cruz, who is quite possibly the stupidest fucking person to ever draw breath and who frequently affects a pitiful facial expression in order to seem ... what?  Pious?  Worthy of sympathy?  I'm not entirely sure what he's trying to do with those eyebrows in that position, but it's definitely an affectation.  He's not intelligent enough to have read and understood Machiavelli, but yeah, he's up to something with that facial expression.

You have Scott Walker, whose "brilliant" economic theories as governor have fucked his state.

You have Donald Trump, who made the compassionate (not!) expression "You're fired!" into a television show, who expresses sexist and racist views, and who may be even more of a verbally obnoxious douchebag than Chris (Republican Governor of New Jersey and Presidential wannabe) Christie.

You have Ben Carson, who pisses and moans about use of fetal tissue in medical research, yet who did the very thing he's now condemning and even published an academic paper about it:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/08/13/1411768/-Ben-Carson-Used-Foetal-Tissue-in-Research-and-Published-Paper-about-It?detail=email

You have Rand Paul, whose first name was given in honor of Ayn Rand, the "philosopher" who was so weighted down by emotional baggage over her family being persecuted in the USSR that she couldn't come up with a rational philosophy or take an honest look at the fact that the USSR was never remotely Communist, and so instead came up with the nonsensical, illogical, and, frankly, anti-Christian "Objectivism," which declares greed a virtue.

And yet, all these "Christians" (perhaps more accurately, pseudo-Christians) of the Protestant Fundamentalist variety are running around sucking up her idiocy because although of course they insist that the bible is the "inerrant word of God," they're nevertheless willing to completely fucking ignore three chapters out of Matthew (V-VII) because those chapters are where the biggest chunk of Jesus' ethical teaching is found, and that chunk of teaching is almost pure socialism by today's economic standards, and that good Mormon crybaby Glenn Beck told them that the social gospel is something invented by modern Leftists.  You know, the Mormon?  Most Protestant Fundamentalists view Mormonism as a cult, or at least they did until a few Mormons decided to become well-known Republicans and/or "Objectivists."
Oh, and that's the same chunk of Matthew where Jesus said that praying in public was a bad idea, too, but these same jackholes want to make laws to require public-led public prayer in public schools.  And of course, those aren't the only "inconvenient" passages in their "sacred" book that they ignore, but let's save that for another discussion.

I am totally at a loss as to how these people can in any seriousness consider themselves American OR Christian.



Friday, August 14, 2015

A Sense of Perspective on Liberty? Part 3



A Sense of Perspective on Liberty?
Part 3,

or, "Abusive ad Hominem in Partisan Politics,"
by Liviana (Giovanna L.)





Earlier this afternoon, in an internet chat group which I founded, someone criticized something based on the source of the something.  To him I replied, "Even Hitler did one or two good things, [REDACTED NAME]."

After some preliminary reactions, I continued (the following has been expanded for this blog post, but most of these points were covered in my discussion):

Nobody here denies that he was a horrible, horrible person, and did all manner of wrong.  What I'm saying is that the source of the request shouldn't matter, if what they call for is a good thing.  Kinda like how when the Democrats do something the Republicans would have liked if a Republican had done it, if it's good, it's good, regardless of who did it.

Remember all the hell they gave Clinton over Bosnia?  But if Reagan or Bush the Elder or Bush the Lesser had been CiC at the time and got American troops involved, it would have been another great example of Murkans wavin' our dicks in ever'one's faces, because MURKA!

And look, they elected Mitt Romney to be their candidate for President last go around, and he's the guy who did Obamacare before it was 'Obamacare.'  And even though popular opinion is against them on the question of the Affordable Care Act, they continue making the untenable claim that 'most Americans' are opposed to it, and they continue to waste time trying to overturn it.

And that's not all!  If you order now, you also get the dying gasps of inequality, in which they claim that they would use the military to prevent women from exercising freedom of choice guaranteed by the Supreme Court, call for laws to enable citizens to shoot anyone they merely suspect of being Gay, and gerrymander voting districts in an effort to disenfranchise minority voters, while praising the fascist bully boys for shooting yet another unarmed kid who happened to be non-Caucasian.

And they'll also throw in a bonus of astoundingly anti-American theocratic rhetoric and posturing, in which they argue that they have a "right" to decide what individuals in their communities can and cannot do (in spite of the evidence that so-called "dry counties" do not prevent residents from purchasing alcohol elsewhere, and in spite of the evidence that the same situation actually promotes driving while intoxicated), attempt to legalize discrimination under the guise of "religious freedom," advocate (in direct violation of Jesus' teachings in Matthew VI, 1-6) for public-led prayer in public schools, and pretend that science is a lie from the devil, so that they can justify allowing the petroleum industry to continue destroying our lives, prohibit the teaching of evolution in public schools, and continue to ignore the evidence which says, 'Yes, Virginia, Homosexuality and Transsexuality are no more matters of choice or alternative lifestyles than Intersex conditions are.'

And the list goes on, and on, and on.  I'm not sure if they actually believe the lies, irrational horseshit, and blatant insanity they're spouting or are merely engaging in showmanship in an effort to win more support from the ignorant and prejudiced, but that ship has sailed.

But they're still fighting FDR over Medicare/Medicaid and Social Security, 80+ years later, all because FDR was a Democrat who did the things that their sorry asses would not do because they were too busy pimping the citizens out to the corporatists.

'AMG, Soshulizm!'  Yeah, so?  It saved your beloved Capitalism from dying the death it so richly deserved, after it attempted suicide in the 20s with all the voodoo economics, anti-labor policies, tax breaks for corporations, encouragement of bubble economies, opposition to any help for the workers, and so on.  The same shit, by the way, which the Republicans have been trying again ever since Reagan.  Verily, Santayana was right.

More to the point, the so-called 'socialism' which FDR brought to the table was the right thing to do for the people, whether he were Democrat or Republican.

But even causes which the Republicans embraced in the past have now been abandoned by the Republican Party, because Democrats got on board.  Teddy Roosevelt and Ike Eisenhower believed in protecting the environment.  Ike Eisenhower opposed racial inequality.  For Mike Huckabee to speak of using the military to prevent abortion is an insult to heroes of the nation like Ike.  I like Ike.  (Hell, I'm even somewhat fond of Barry Goldwater, Dick Nixon, and Gerry Ford.)  I loathe the Right Wingnuts, Would-be Theocrats, and Social Reactionaries, just as I loathe ignorance, prejudice, superstition, and irrationality.


Friday, June 26, 2015

A Sense of Perspective on Liberty? Part 2



A Sense of Perspective on Liberty?
Part 2,
by Liviana (Giovanna L.)






TO THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY
FROM GIOVANNA

We want a choice, not between two options which are both right of center and more authoritarian than libertarian, but between two distinct options.  We want you to stand up straight and proud, and fight head on against the irrationality, the ignorance, the prejudice, the superstition, the Machiavellian false show of religiosity, the fear and hate mongering, the pimping of us out to corporate interests, the greed.  We need Logic instead of rhetoric.  We need people who will stand up for authentic American values instead of theocratic tyranny.

We need people with a conscience, people with intestinal fortitude, people with spines.  We need you to fight for the people, and not for the wealthy.  We need you to expose the crass hypocrisy, and not join in on it.  We don't care what your religious beliefs are;  the way to beat the nutjobs is not by going on the defensive with claims like "I'm a Christian, too," but rather with explanations of why the separation of church and state is a good thing, and why false piety is worthy of condemnation.  We need you to face the impetus for a return to the dark ages and defeat it.  We need you to stand up for the poor, the elderly, the disabled, women, people of color, the LGBTI community.

We need freedom, and not the promotion of ignorance.  We need education, not indoctrination.  We need you to stand up for veterans, and not for spending more on senseless imperialistic penis-waving militarism;  take care of those who have served, rather than wasting money on $640 toilet seats, $7,600 coffee makers, $436 hammers and other overpriced spare parts used by the military.

We don't want to see another second wasted on futile feel-good legislative efforts like attempts to make the burning of flags illegal.  We need more money for education, and less for law enforcement;  address the causes of crime first, and deal with the symptoms secondarily.  We need those who understand honor to serve as our police, not those whose first inclination is to pull out a pistol and empty it into a citizen.

We need you to tell Texas that Thomas Jefferson was a hero of the nation, and not someone who should be written out of our textbooks.  We need you to tell Texas and other states that a woman's right to choose should not be subverted.  We need you to tell Texas that truth is greater than fiction, that a scientific theory is not simply a baseless speculation.

We need you to fight for liberty, justice, and equality for all, including LGB and Trans and Intersex persons.  Do not assume that the American people are too stupid or unsophisticated to distinguish between a good argument and fallacy.  We need social liberalism and more left-leaning economic policies.  We need you to stop running away from names like "liberal" and "leftist," and instead wear them proudly, educating the people as to why these are not "evil" words, why knee-jerk reactions based on propaganda from the 20s and 50s and 80s with its simplistic bifurcation fallacy are anything but beneficial.

We need Democrats to be Democrats, and not scared little children trying to fit in with a gang of bullies.

This is why I will vote for Bernie Sanders in the primary, and hope that Power to the People (instead of useless bloated leeches who are still getting fatter and fatter on our lifeblood) can be realized.

Stand for the people, for our liberty, for our equality, for our justice.  Give us progress, not regress.


Saturday, April 4, 2015

A Sense of Perspective on Liberty? (Part 1)


Dea Libertatis

A Sense of Perspective on Liberty?
Part 1,
by Liviana (Giovanna L.)


On Wednesday, 1 April 2015, Wolf Blitzer's "Situation Room" on CNN discussed the diplomatic efforts to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.  Among those he spoke with was freshman Republican Senator from Arkansas, Tom Cotton.  In the course of the discussion, Wolf Blitzer asked Cotton about the RFRA bill in Arkansas, which occasioned the following comments from Cotton (source here):


I also think it's important that we have a sense of perspective about our priorities. In Iran they hang you for the crime of being gay. They're currently imprisoning an American preacher for spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ in Iran. We should focus on the most important priorities our country faces right now. And I would say that a nuclear armed Iran, given the threat that it poses to the region and to our interests in the region and American citizens, is the most important thing that we'd be focused on.


More recently (3 April 2015),. The Wall Street Journal published comments (article by Reid J. Epstein) made by former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, Carly Fiorina (who is reportedly considering "a bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination"), condemning Apple CEO Tim Cook as "hypocritical" for expressing his opposition to the RFRA bills in Indiana and Arkansas.  From the article:


CEOs like Apple Inc.’s Tim Cook, who publicly objected to the Indiana law, have engaged in “a level of hypocrisy here that really is unfortunate,” said Mrs. Fiorina, who was CEO of Hewlett-Packard from 1999 to 2005.

“When Tim Cook is upset about all the places that he does business because of the way they treat gays and women, he needs to withdraw from 90% of the markets that he’s in, including China and Saudi Arabia,” she said Thursday afternoon during an interview with Wall Street Journal reporters and editors. “But I don’t hear him being upset about that.”


In both of these comments we see the same idea expressed (and rather explicitly), namely, the idea that injustice in foreign lands is a more pressing concern than injustice in our own nation.  Both of the people making the statements have attempted to appeal to Protestant Fundamentalists and Protestant Evangelicals (who have unfortunately become more like Protestant Fundamentalists over the past few decades), and also to Catholic Credalists.  Evidence of Cotton's efforts to exploit the religious beliefs of others in order to gain political power for himself have been well documented.  See, for example, this piece at The Washington Post.  As for Fiorina, the same piece from the WSJ quoted above has this to say:


Mrs. Fiorina, who made her name as a glass-ceiling-busting corporate executive, is fashioning herself a social conservative as she prepares to enter the 2016 race. She is staunchly opposed to abortion rights and has sought to own the religious liberty issue in recent days.


The Bible which both purport to be defending contains a number of statements which would be uncomfortable for Cotton, Fiorina, and numerous other far right wing extremists, social reactionaries, and would-be theocrats.  One such passage (I Timothy V, 8) relates directly to claims that the American people ought to be more concerned with injustice in other countries than in America itself, that injustice in America is somehow irrelevant due to foreign injustice:


If any one does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his own family, he has disowned the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.



Ms. Fiorina, who is being hypocritical?  Someone like Tim Cook who publicly speaks out about injustice in his own backyard, or someone like you who ignores the teachings of the religion she supposedly wishes to defend?  Mr. Cotton, who is the one who espouses Christian faith only when it is convenient for, or beneficial to, him?  Someone like Mark Pryor who understands that the Bible is capable of diverse interpretations and recognizes that legislation intended to impose one such interpretation on all is not only un-Christian, but also un-American, or someone like you who imagines that he is worthy to judge the faith of others in direct defiance of Romans XIV, as well as Matthew VII, 1-5, and goes on to subvert his own nation's interests in favor of the interests of his political party, the interests of those who financed his campaign, and/or the promotion of war?

Do you not realize that presuming to condemn the injustice of others, while wallowing in one's own injustice, is exactly the subject of Jesus' words in Matthew VII, 1-5?  Do you not understand that Christianity teaches you to be humble enough to recognize your own faults and mind your own business, since, as Romans XIV states plainly:


Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. ... Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God ... So each of us shall give account of himself to God.  Then let us no more pass judgment on one another ...


Indeed, to be so presumptuous as to go around the world meddling in the affairs of every other nation on Earth in the name of justice, and yet doing nothing to address injustice in America, is not only hubris, but blatant violation of the teachings of your own faith.  Hypocrisy?  Woe unto you, for yours shall be the greater damnation.

Liberty is not something an unfree people can export.  Until liberty, justice, and equality are extended to all in America, efforts undertaken in the name of America purporting to spread those values to others cannot succeed, for the seed of a corrupt plant cannot produce a perfect fruit, no matter what soil it is planted in.

Or at least these are the implications -- if not the explicit statements -- of the words of the Bible you both wish for others to believe that you follow.

(To be continued ...)

Monday, March 30, 2015

A Plea to the Governor of the State of Arkansas to Veto HB 1228


Governor Hutchinson, Please Vote for Liberty, Equality, and Justice for All

by Giovanna (SuccubaSuprema)


The following is the complete text of a communication which I sent to Governor Asa Hutchinson of the State of Arkansas, sine my full name at the end:


Governor Hutchinson,

I will thank you in advance for reading this missive in its entirety, in spite of its length, and giving it due consideration.

I am writing to you to ask you to veto HB 1228, the euphemistically named "AN ACT TO ENACT THE RELIGIOUS FREEDOM RESTORATION ACT TO BE KNOWN AS MARY'S LAW; TO PROVIDE PROTECTION FOR RELIGIOUS PRACTICE AND TO PROVIDE REMEDIES AND PENALTIES FOR VIOLATING OR ABUSING RELIGIOUS PROTECTIONS; TO DECLARE AN EMERGENCY; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES."

Many reasons exist for opposing this legislation.  Economic reasons may actually be more of a motivation for some than ethical and Constitutional reasons, but religious reasons also exist.  These latter I intend to discuss here at some length.  I will also be employing the academic discipline of Logic in this discussion.  I urge you to read this communication in full and give due consideration to what I will here state.

To begin, regardless of claims to the contrary, this legislation will allow discrimination, primarily directed at the LGBTI community, already marginalized, disenfranchised, and downtrodden for a considerable amount of time, under the guise of "religious freedom" or "conscience."    Such a law flies in the face of the very principles of Americanism, which philosophy advocates liberty, justice, and equality for all, and which philosophy originated in part due to religious dissenters who left Europe with its various state established religious sects.  Indeed, the doctrine of the "separation of church and state" used to be regarded with great respect by the majority of Christian sects in America, because it protected them from government-imposed religious requirements, and allowed them the free exercise of their religion unmolested by government-established sectarianism.

Laws ought never to deprive citizens of freedom, but only increase personal liberty, while protecting the rights of other citizens simultaneously.  Legalization of discrimination fails completely in the latter consideration, and violates many Biblical teachings, such as Romans XIII, 10, which proclaims "Love does no harm to its neighbor, therefore love is the fulfillment of the law."  Again, I John IV, 20 states "If any one says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen."  Further, Matthew XXV, 31-46 records Jesus speaking at length about the manner in which people treat other people, saying such things as "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me." Moreover, Romans XIV, in its entirety, tells the believer, in rather verbose style, to mind his or her own business, and describes those who are "offended" by the behavior of others as "weak in the faith."  In addition, Philippians II encourages many virtues, including love, affection, sympathy, and humility, while discouraging selfishness and conceit, and goes on to tell the believer to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."

Matthew VI, 1-19 has something to say about pretending to be something you are not in order to have the approval of society, which, I believe, has strong implications for the LGBTI community and how others view them;  to pretend to be heterosexual, to pretend to be cisgender, to pretend to be anything one actually is not, in order to win the favor of other humans, is hypocrisy.  Jesus may have condemned nothing more often than hypocrisy.  Regardless of the teachings of this or that sect, scientific and medical authorities have found more than sufficient evidence that sexual orientation and gender identity are innate, and not the result of social conditioning, peer pressure, the way in which one was raised, or any other such thing.  The American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the British Psychological Society, and similar organizations in the civilized world have been rather plain on this.  The Intersex (that's the I in LGBTI) are undeniably as they are due to biology, and not because of alleged choice.  Trying to paint any of these situations as "choice" or "lifestyle" is irrational.  Claiming that one particular interpretation of the Bible trumps the scientific evidence amounts to nothing less than superstition and willful ignorance.  Arkansas has a long and undeserved reputation as a backwards state, filled with ignorant, superstitious, irrational, and bigoted citizens.  This (largely Yankee, but not exclusively so) bias toward our state is not true.  While this HB 1228 is evidence that the state of Arkansas still has citizens afflicted with such vices, not everyone in the state is so unfortunate.  For the state of Arkansas to favor the ignorant, superstitious, irrational, and bigoted interpretation of Biblical teaching would not only violate the non-establishment clause of the First Amendment, it would also be a state action which I would view as substantially burdening my freedom to exercise my religion.  It would further demean and defame the reputation of Christianity.

(I will add parenthetically, as it is off the topic of this missive, but occasioned by my reference to Matthew VI, that Matthew VI, 1-6 ought to be indisputable evidence that Jesus would not be pleased with efforts to legislate public prayer in public schools -- at the least.)

The excuse of "religious freedom" or "religious liberty" has been used in the past in efforts to justify racism.  Those attempts were not motivated by religion or faith, but by fear and hatred.  The same is true of these RFRA laws, but in these instances, the fear and hatred is directed at a different kind of "other," namely, people who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and/or Intersex.  Rhetoric which denies this is simply disingenuous or misguided.  The truth is rather transparent to many who are watching Arkansas and other states as they attempt to pass laws in order to excuse so-called religious persons who wish to vilify, abuse, or even kill other people.  If any "Christian" uses the Bible to harm another or to justify harm to another, then that "Christian" is misusing the Bible.  As noted above, "Love does no harm to its neighbor, therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law."  The hate and fear emanating from supposedly righteous persons these days is nauseating.  It is not remotely Christian.  Legislation which claims otherwise would *itself* be a "state action which substantially burdens the exercise of religion" for me and many others.

With regard to Article 2, § 24, of the Arkansas Constitution, which asserts that "[N]o human authority can, in any case or manner 10 whatsoever, control or interfere with the right of conscience” as some supposed justification for HB 1228, this claim ignores the ruling in the Supreme Court case "Employment Division, Department of Human Resources of Oregon vs. Smith," 494 U.S. 872 (1990), which decided that the First Amendment does not grant the right to violate the law on supposedly religious grounds, with Justice Scalia declaring "We have never held that an individual's religious beliefs excuse him from compliance with an otherwise valid law prohibiting the conduct that the state is free to regulate."

One of the motivations for this legislation is a supposed Christian view of marriage as a sacrament, and opposition to the growing Marriage Equality movement.  On the contrary, the vast majority of Christian sects do not teach that marriage is a sacrament at all.  One of the largest sects in the state of Arkansas is the Southern Baptist denomination, which teaches that only two sacraments exist, one being baptism, and the other being "the Lord's supper" (the eucharistic meal).  Those Christian sects which do teach that marriage is a sacrament invariably refer to this sacrament as "Holy Matrimony."  While "Holy Matrimony," or what some might refer to as "sacramental marriage," is indeed a type of marriage, it is by no means the only type.  Assertions that "Christian marriage" is between one man and one woman overlook both Biblical history and the history of Christianity.  The practice of polygyny among the Old Testament patriarchs is well known.  In early mediaeval Ireland, Christian polygamy was legal under Brehon Law, based in part on the practice among the Old Testament patriarchs.  To assert, then, that the only form of marriage, or even the only "Christian" form of marriage, consists of a union between one man and one woman is not only dogmatic, but also inconsistent with the Bible itself and with the practices of Christians in the past.  I have proposed occasionally that all instances of Holy Matrimony are well within the category of Marriage, but that not all instances of Marriage are within the category of Holy Matrimony.  This can be easily demonstrated with a pair of Boolean circles.  To express this in the language of Predicate Logic, one would say "for any x, if x is Holy Matrimony, then x is Marriage, and, there is some x such that x is Marriage and x is not Holy Matrimony."  To deny this is to be ignorant of history, inconsistent with the Bible, and, frankly, out of touch with reality.  No matter how much someone may dislike the idea of same sex marriage, it does exist, and refusing to refer to it as "marriage" betrays ignorance of even sectarian teachings, since, as I have stated, few Christian sects teach that marriage is a sacrament, and those which do have a special name for marriage which in fact distinguishes this "sacramental marriage" from other types, that being "Holy Matrimony."

While I could continue to enlarge this communication with additional Biblical evidence, logical argumentation, historical facts, and the like, I believe that what I have here stated ought to suffice to demonstrate to you that HB 1228 is not Christian, nor American, nor just, and thus ought to be vetoed as licensing acts which are un-Christian, un-American, and unjust.

Sincerely,
[REDACTED]


I have no idea how the Governor of Arkansas will feel about this, nor if he will even read it, but I have done what I could to promote liberty, equality, and justice for all citizens of the State of Arkansas by composing and sending it.  Let us hope that Arkansas will not be on the wrong side of history again, as the state was when President Eisenhower federalized the Arkansas National Guard to prevent a different type of discrimination.