Sunday, December 28, 2014

What rape culture gets wrong about women and alcohol

Is it okay for a sober man to have sex with a drunk woman? Depending on who you ask, you'll get a wide range of answers – most of them, forms of “yes”.
As long as she's not passed out
As long as she's not passed out, and doesn't protest
Even if she's passed out, because you can't be raped if you're unconscious
From entertainers to news personalities to self-important bloviators, we hear it all the time. It's a favorite response from Christian conservatives that a rape victim is always to blame for being raped. It's less of a shock, then, when they lay the blame for rape or alleged rape on a woman's alcohol consumption. It's more surprising, though, when it comes from sources like famous atheist Richard Dawkins – not least of all because the idea that women can do certain things that cede their bodily autonomy to men is certainly influenced by the religious beliefs that Dawkins so famously rejects.

People expressing these ideas are widely (and rightly) termed rape apologists, but they'll deny this characterization fiercely. Why? Because they claim, and I've no doubt some genuinely believe, that sex with an incapacitated woman is not rape.

They're very definitely wrong, for several reasons. But before proceeding further, I want to make one point (as there sometimes is confusion on the topic): I am referencing cases when a woman is clearly, visibly incapacitated, and the rapist is sober enough to ascertain that fact. I'm talking about predatory behavior, where one party uses another's incapacitation as a means to acquire or bypass a facade of consent; not situations where both parties mutually consume alcohol.

With that established...we recognize that consent acquired in circumstances of mental incapacitation, or when a person is otherwise unable to fully understand the consent they're giving, is not real consent. Undoubtedly, intoxication can limit or curtail the ability to give consent. Not just consent to sex, but consent in general. If I wait until my buddy is blind, staggering drunk, and get him to give me his cell phone, credit card, or car title, chances are good that I'll be getting a visit from the police the next day. Whether he actually agreed, in his intoxicated state, to hand over his phone, car or credit card, or not, it is clear that I would be preying on his incapacitated state, and that his consent, if acquired at all, would be given in compromising circumstances.

Now, rape apologists will try to make a special exception for sex. They won't always claim it as such, but the fact remains that it is a special exception – for heterosexual intercourse between an inebriated woman and a sober or moderately sober man. Not for the friend who nicks your cell phone when you're drunk, but for the guy who rapes a drunk woman.

There's never a clear reason why this logic works for rape, but not theft. There's further no supportable reason why this logic, if we accept it, should only apply to man-on-woman or heterosexual rape – although this is almost the only context you will ever find it in. If consent to sex acquired after intoxication is valid consent, as many argue, it would be as equally valid between a drunk man and a sober man as it would between a drunk woman and a sober man. Obviously, it's not valid in either case. But I've yet to debate the topic with a rape apologist who would apply the same reasoning that they employ to justify heterosexual rape to homosexual rape (probably because the rape apologists I've debated have all been conservative Christians, who abhor gay sex at least as much as they think they should own women's bodies).

Rape apologists will also tend to focus on the voluntary aspect of incapacitation through intoxication: that is, that a person chose to get drunk, therefore they chose to put themselves in a situation that "led to rape." They can often see, for instance, that slipping a pill in someone's drink in order to acquire “consent” is rape; because the incapacitation was non-voluntary, the consent given is invalid. But if a woman chooses to get drunk, and a man acquires “consent” in that state of incapacitation, well, fair's fair, they argue. Which is of course terrible logic. Such an argument fails for the reasons noted above (it's not applied to any other comparable situation), and others as well.

For starters, drinking isn't consent to sex. Inebriation isn't consent to sex. For those who recognize that acquiring “consent” after non-voluntary incapacitation is rape, but believe consent acquired during voluntary incapacitation is peachy keen, it comes down to this: the validity of consent hinges on whether incapacitation is self-imposed or externally-imposed. This is nonsense, because incapacitation is not consent. The reason drugging someone to rape them is “real rape” isn't because the victim didn't take the drug on her own; it's rape because the rapist did not have the victim's consent to sex. The administering of the incapacitating agent without the victim's knowledge is a separate crime (designed to facilitate rape, of course – but a separate crime all the same). When someone has sex with someone who doesn't or can't give consent, that is rape, regardless of who administered the incapacitating agent.

Finally, these arguments will often point to instances where an inebriated person faces consequences for doing something to another person, saying that intoxicated people simply need to "take responsibility for their own actions". Back in September, Richard Dawkins, for instance, used a series of drunk driving analogies:


The crucial difference, of course, between someone having sex with a drunk person, and an inebriated person doing something to endanger others, is the primary actor in the scenario. If a drunk person does something that harms or endangers others, responsibility falls on the intoxicated person. If a sober, or more or less sober, person does something to a drunk person, the responsibility is the sober person's. In short, the responsibility falls on the person committing the act. If you wait until someone is unable to give consent, and then initiate sex, that is rape, and the responsibility is yours: having sex with a person who can't give valid consent is an action you took. If you get in a car drunk, and then drive it into a tree, the responsibility is yours: driving under the influence is an action you took.

Rape apologists – those who unwittingly fall into the category, and those who use rape apology as a means to justify their own actions and/or rape culture in general – base their arguments on a number flawed premises. They apply justifications for rape that they would never extend to other crimes. They place a burden on the rape victim that they would never demand of victims of other crimes. Those who argue that alcohol consumption negates a man's responsibility to acquire valid consent before sex are but a particular subset of a larger problem, but they are guilty of many of the same logical missteps as their peers in the wider victim-blaming movement.

Consent is necessary for sex, if you're not a rapist; when someone is unable to give informed consent, a non-rapist backs off. Really, it's just that simple.

Arguing on the internet

Summed up in a Pearls Before Swine strip, this is pretty much how arguing on the internet goes most times. Alas.


Have I mentioned before that I love this comic??

Monday, December 15, 2014

Dear Christians, you're sooooo Christmas-ing wrong

The war on Christmas is a real thing, my friends. Christmas-loving Christians on Fox and elsewhere have spent the last couple of years warning us about it. 
The atheists.
The liberals.
The liberal atheists.
The Grinch.
The threats are endless.

And Ken Ham's Answers in Genesis warns us of a new set of Christmas-ruiners: Christians who listen to non-religious Christmas music. Apparently, even the "Keep Christ in Christmas" crowd are sometimes guilty of Christmas-ing wrong.




Sunday, November 2, 2014

50 reasons to vote for Mary Burke & against Scott Walker

The following are 50 reasons, off the top of my head, to vote for Mary Burke -- and against Scott Walker. Feel free to add your own in the comments.
  1. You think pregnant women have a "right to life". Mary Burke supports a woman's right to choose; Scott Walker opposes it even in cases of rape and where the life and health of the mother is at stake.
  2. You support LGBT rights. Mary Burke has been a supporter of marriage equality. Scott Walker long supported a ban on marriage equality, and persisted in shoveling sand against the tide of change (at great cost to the state) even when similar bans were falling all over the country.
  3. You support education. Burke has consistently supported education. Walker has cut it more than any other time in Wisconsin history.
  4. You recognize the importance of unions. Mary Burke supports our unions. Scott Walker referred to his assault on teacher's unions as a "first step" in making Wisconsin a "right-to-work" (union-less) state, and sponsored union-busting "right-to-work" legislation in the past.
  5.  You prefer someone with real-world experience to a career politician. Mary Burke's experience is vast. Scott Walker was in politics within three years of dropping out of school, and has never left since. 
  6. You don't think taking millions from our public schools to give to failed private ones is a good investment. Mary Burke will end this policy. Scott Walker engineered it.
  7. You're not comfortable with out-of-state mining interests re-writing your state's environmental laws regarding mines (in their favor of course). Mary Burke opposes this. Scott Walker oversaw it.
  8. You feel that there might, just maybe, be a conflict-of-interest when the governor overseeing the aforementioned radical re-writing of environmental protections to benefit a wealthy out-of-state mining company sees a $700,000 donation -- from the company in question, to his re-election efforts. Again, Burke has expressed concern over this entire fiasco. Walker orchestrated and benefited from it.
  9.  You respect our teachers and public workers. Mary Burke has consistently shown respect to the public employees that educate our children, keep our streets safe, etc. Scott Walker has ridiculed public employees, and declared them greedy, lazy and useless.
  10. You don't think the best way to lower abortion rates is to close established clinics that thousands rely on for health and family planning -- but not abortion -- services. This is something Mary Burke has criticized many times. And something Scott Walker did.
  11. It also strikes you as a bad idea for an anti-abortion ideologue (or any thinking person) to repeal the state's comprehensive sex education laws.  Not least of all because abortion rates are fueled by (can you guess??) unwanted pregnancies -- and abstinence sex ed has been a consistent failure, leading to...guess what?...unwanted pregnancies! Fortunately, Scott Walker's puritanical obsession is not shared by Planned Parenthood-supported Mary Burke.
  12. Like President Eisenhower, you "have no use for those — regardless of their political party — who hold some foolish dream of spinning the clock back to days when unorganized labor was a huddled, almost helpless mass"; you cannot support those "reactionaries [who] harbor the ugly thought of breaking unions. Only a fool would try to deprive working men and women of the right to join the union of their choice." Burke, again, is a supporter of unions, public and private; Walker, on the other hand, is precisely the sort of fool Eisenhower warned about.
  13. You believe full-time work should provide a living wage. Scott Walker sees "no purpose" to dignifying human labor with a living wage. By contrast, Mary Burke has pledged to raise the minimum wage.
  14. You believe the governor should follow our "living wage" law. Again, Burke has pledged an increase to the minimum wage. Walker has not only disparaged the idea, but flatly refused to obey Wisconsin law on the subject
  15. You figure that women are intelligent human beings, who are perfectly capable of making their own reproductive choices without Big Brother in the room. Mary Burke supports a woman's right to choose without absurd restrictions. Among Scott Walker's numerous attacks on women's rights while in office, he has mandated unnecessary ultrasounds, on the solid Republican principle of "Government: small enough to fit in a vagina."
  16. You do not think the governor has any business mandating intrusive, transvaginal ultrasounds. Which is exactly what Scott Walker's mandatory ultrasound bill did to women who are too early in their pregnancies for a less intrusive ultrasound to meet Scott Walker's idea of what is best for women's health. Again, Mary Burke respects women's ability to make their own decisions about their reproductive care, without government dictating that she first be subjected to unnecessary and invasive government mandated probing...
  17. You think women deserve equal pay for equal work. Unlike Scott Walker, who repealed Wisconsin's equal pay protections. Mary Burke, on the other hand, has consistently supported equal pay protections for women. Unlike Republicans, she realizes that the idea that "money is more important for men" is bogus.
  18. You don't think the way forward is creating primarily low wage jobs -- and pushing former middle-class jobs into the low-wage range. This is what Scott Walker's policies have done. Mary Burke's direction accounts for the interests of the working Wisconsinite, not just big business.
  19. Like Burke, you know that Wisconsin does have a jobs problem -- not a "work problem," as Scott Walker put it
  20. You want a governor whose base assumption isn't that unemployment problems are because Wisconsinites are lazy and have a "work problem", but a governor who realizes that you can't fill jobs that don't exist. After four years in office, Governor Walker can't take responsibility for his failure of policy. Instead, he points at Wisconsinites. Burke has called him on this failure, and offered solid alternatives to his failed leadership.
  21.  You also recognize that "oh, I was just being optimistic!" is not a legitimate response to questions about failed campaign promises. Scott Walker ran on the idea that he would create 250,000 jobs. This is a failed promise. Rather than addressing the failure, he simply pooh-poohs it. In an only slightly more mature version of, "Oh, that? I was crossing my fingers!" he declares that people shouldn't hold optimism against him. The problem is, of course, that at no time during the previous election did Walker indicate that these were simply an optimistic goal. Rather, he made and failed a promise; and instead of accounting for that failure, asks not to be bothered with it. That's not leadership. Burke has demonstrated strong leadership abilities throughout her career. Walker deflects, minimizes and dodges.
  22. You don't think ridiculing the poor as drug-addled layabouts is productive. You'd rather a governor who figured out positive ways to lift people out of poverty, rather than contenting himself to implementing degrading (as well as costly and failed) policies to humiliate aid applicants.
  23. You don't think leaving 87,000 poor, working Wisconsinites without healthcare is  a good idea. Neither does Mary Burke. But it's exactly what Scott Walker did.
  24. You don't think rejecting federal money (which Wisconsin taxpayers paid toward) to cover healthcare for the poor is a good idea. You realize that we already paid the money, and so rejecting it means it's simply gone. And sick people still need care. Which means Wisconsin voters have to pay twice -- once, for the money Scott Walker rejected. And again, when uninsured Wisconsinites go to the emergency room with catastrophic conditions. Incidentally, that's the most expensive kind of care -- as it's far more costly to treat an emergency than it is to prevent it. Walker rejected our funds, and endangered the health and lives of poor, working Wisconsinites. Mary Burke has explicitly stated that she would have accepted the funds, rather than destroying some Wisconsinites' health, and double charging the rest. (For what it's worth, even other GOP governors were able to put people over politics, and accept the money. Not good old Scotty, though).
  25. You don't like to see your healthcare premiums keep climbing. Scott Walker's refusal to implement cost oversight and other portions of the ACA that reduced expenses has cost all of us (unlike the states that implemented them). Mary Burke would implement these cost saving measures.
  26. Like Mary Burke, you don't think the governor should be implementing politically motivated women's health laws that are opposed by the medical community. As Walker has done multiple times
  27. You don't think your governor should be making it harder for Wisconsinites to legally vote. Scott Walker's voter ID laws would have impacted 300,000 Wisconsinites, purportedly to prevent in person voter fraud...despite the fact that we have no actual cases that the law would prevent, and the only case of voter fraud was committed by a Walker supporter. 300,000 voters potentially disenfranchised, over a problem that doesn't exist. Burke has condemned these restrictions. Walker implemented them.
  28. You don't think that the governor should be limiting voting times while extending lobbying times. Mary Burke has expressed strong support for voting rights. Scott Walker has attacked them repeatedly.
  29. You think that tuition should be affordable, and students shouldn't be buried under debt. Mary Burke wants to lower tuition and reduce debt. Scott Walker spent the majority of his term increasing tuition and cutting aid; now he's trying to position himself as a champion for students because he froze tuition before the election. If years of attacks followed by a last ditch bribing effort don't sway you, Scott Walker's not your candidate. Mary Burke, on the other hand, has pledged to tackle student costs. Not just at election time.
  30. You don't think that a big business (run by donors to the governor) should get multi-million dollar tax breaks and an okay to lay off two thousand Wisconsin workers (half its workforce) without any sort of job growth requirements. This is the kind of "moving Wisconsin forward" Scott Walker has been orchestrating. Mary Burke's plans don't include rewarding rich donors for laying off Wisconsin workers.
  31. You don't think politicians and their close allies should be breaking campaign laws. While Scott Walker is piled neck deep in circumstantial evidence, some of his close associates have left more incriminating paper trails -- leading to a variety of felony charges against Walker's chief of staff and others. Needless to say, Burke has done no such thing.
  32. You don't like politicians and their close allies engaging in sleaze politics. Mary Burke has consistently addressed Scott Walker's policies and actions in her critiques of him. Scott Walker's supporters are so desperate that they've resorted to last minute, sleaze attacks -- digging up a family rival and a county GOP chairman to attack Burke's work at Trek, and pushing the story on a site funded by a conservative organization headed by Walker's chief of staff
  33. You don't think tens of thousands of Wisconsin students should be left on waiting lists for aid. Neither does Mary Burke. But it's exactly what Scott Walker's attacks on education have led to.
  34. You can't be bought for a pizza month. During the first debate, Scott Walker referred to his election-year bribe as empowering families to buy "lots of truck tires". (I'm not sure what truck Walker drives, but unless it's a Tonka, he's full of crap...his ~$320 a year would maybe buy two tires for my car...certainly not "lots" of "truck tires"...but I digress). Burke rightly points out that, behind this "lots of truck tires" facade lies tax breaks that amount to at least thousands for millionaires and millions for big business -- huge sums of money Scott Walker sends back to the wealthy, while boasting that your pizza-a-month should buy your vote.
  35. You have kids. You want them to have access to good schools, with the resources to meet their needs. Mary Burke will ensure that schools have the funding to hire, and retain, quality teachers and supply quality instruction. Scott Walker has been hard at work devastating education.
  36. You realize that a politician like Walker, who brags about opposing LGBT rights, can never be an effective representative of LGBT constituents, because he opposes their rights. On the other hand, Burke has expressed clear support for LGBT rights.
  37. You realize that a politician like Walker, who brags about opposing women's rights, can never be an effective representative for half of his constituency, because he opposes thier rights (even the right of a pregnant woman to life-saving medical care when dying!). On the other hand, Burke has expressed solid support for women's rights.
  38. You realize that a politician like Walker, who mocks the poor as lazy, over privileged drug addicts, can never be an effective representative for poor Wisconsinites, because he degrades and dismisses them. Burke, on the other hand, has been committed to creating opportunity for the working poor -- including co-creating a program that has helped hundreds of first-generation students graduate and prepare for college in Madison.
  39. You realize that a politician like Walker, who ridicules public employs as overpaid, lazy and often useless (while making, in many cases, multiple times their yearly income) can never be an effective representative for his constituents who are public employees, because he regards them with contempt. Mary Burke, on the other hand, has advocated a uniting message, and stands by the rights of public employees.
  40. You realize that a governor is not supposed to "divide and conquer," but serve the interests of all his constituents; being a governor is not about personal conquest, but about serving the public good. Mary Burke's attitude is one reconciliation, and an end to the dividing tactics that have been in place these past four years.
  41. Whether you have kids or not, you realize that an educated populace means a more informed electorate, a future workforce better equipped for challenges, and a more resourceful citizenry. Again, Mary Burke supports education. Scott Walker has consistently slashed it.
  42. You are a woman. You don't need the theocratic aspirations and misogynist judgments of politicians like Walker deciding your healthcare choices. Mary Burke will ensure that those choices remain yours. Walker has already been hard at work eroding them.
  43. Whether you are a woman or not, you respect women, or at least don't hold them in contempt. Like Mary Burke, you don't think theocrats need to involve themselves in women's reproductive choices. Unlike Scott Walker.
  44. You work. You want a thriving economy, with a strong minimum wage as a baseline. Like Mary Burke. Unlike Scott Walker.
  45. You have friends, family or children who work or will work some day. You want them to be able to earn a living. An economy based on low-wage jobs, like the one Scott Walker has been building, isn't what you want for them. Particularly when the person guiding us in that direction is also declaring that there is "no purpose" to a living wage for those jobs. Mary Burke sees "purpose" in providing a living wage, and also has a strong plan to revitalize the middle-class.
  46. While you might not be obsessed with fetuses, you do recognize the "right to life" of the poor, the sick, and the disadvantaged. Thus you support making healthcare accessible to the working poor. Like Mary Burke, and unlike Scott Walker.
  47. You respect Wisconsin's natural heritage, and would like to preserve it. You think the interests of the people in this regard supersede the interests of out-of-state billionaires. So does Mary Burke. Scott Walker, on the other hand, lets those interests re-write our environmental laws.
  48. You breathe the air where you live. You probably want to ensure that it stays clean. That's a bigger priority than further enriching the wealthy.
  49. You drink water. Again, you have a vested interest in ensuring that it remains unpolluted. Even if that's inconvenient to out-of-state mining companies.
  50. You're not a rich psychopath. The choice, then, is clear: vote Burke.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Scott Walker is the candidate for you...if you pretty much hate everything

Infantilize women? Loathe working people? Fear youth? Despise teachers? Oppose educating future generations? Favor theocracy to the constitution? Prefer indoctrination to education? Think Wisconsin would be better off if only we had fewer educated people? Fetishize fetuses, but don't give a damn about women's lives? Love people who lie to your face?

Brother, have I got a candidate for you! Name's Walker. Scott Walker. And he's the man for the mission. Why, already in his first term he's tackled the hard stuff. Just take a look!

He's attacked education. Boy, has he ever. He's enacted the largest cuts to education in the state's history. He's cut higher education so much that he's got 40,000 + students on waiting lists for aid. He's funneled hundreds of millions from public schools to private schools -- ostensibly because these schools do better than public schools. Even though the opposite is actually true -- Wisconsin's worst public schools outperformed the private schools that were supposed to save the day. Oh, and that money that Walker has been taking away from public education? Well over one hundred million of it has been to failed private schools. And while he ultimately failed, we think he still deserves anti-education points for trying to destroy the UW system. Bonus points: he's made a point to stir up animosity against teachers and public workers. If you hate education, Scott Walker is the man for you.

He's attacked working people. Again, and again, and again. Not just by cutting their educational opportunities -- impacting current and future generations in profound fashion. He's gone after labor unions. Early in his career, he sponsored right to work legislation -- legislation that completely busts unions and devastates workers' pay and safety. While he's slippery about committing to "right to work" now, he declared his union busting only a "first step". But it's not just busting unions and cutting educational opportunities. Why, this fine gentleman has declared that a minimum wage serves no purpose at all, and staunchly refuses to raise it to a living wage (despite it being, you know, Wisconsin law...because why should a governor have to put up with THAT noise, am I right?). Yes sir, this brave man thinks that you and your children should have limited educational opportunities, should be stripped of the workplace protections unions secure, and, as a bonus, live in abject poverty. Because, really, what "purpose" is there to any of that? The rights of working people are second to the profit of business.

He's steadfastly refused to allow poor, working Wisconsinites access to healthcare. This is important to the point above, but deserves a mention all on its own. Yes sir, Scott Walker has adamantly refused to expand healthcare access to the working poor. It's not that any sane person can pretend that a person working full-time on minimum wage has enough spare cash for health insurance; it's more that providing health care for the poor really serves no purpose. Serfs are expendable. And, yeah, his general contempt for working Wisconsinites is literally endangering lives and costing the rest of us as well, but the wealthy are doing fine, so it's all good. If you can't afford healthcare, your life doesn't matter.

He's attacked women. In the war on women, Scott Walker is General, not Governor. He's repealed equal pay protections (and then had the chutzpah to release an ad bragging that he didn't make pay discrimination legal...leaving out the whole "we removed penalties for violating it" bit...presumably on the thought that women are too silly to even notice. After all, we're probably better suited to dating sites than that thinking stuff, am I right?!). Bonus points? Champion of the effort, Walker ally and missing village idiot Glenn Grothman, championed the move by explaining how any disparity is really our faults anyway, because money is just "more important for men" than women. Walker has also withdrawn funding in order to shutter women's health clinics -- resulting in closure of many that did not even provide abortions -- because the idea of a woman exercising her right to choose is really terrifying to Walker. Yes, it makes no sense to shutter clinics that don't provide abortions (that, in fact, prevent them by providing family planning services) because you hate abortion; but, really, screw logic...as long as it hurts women, it's all good. Walker also opposes abortion in every case, and advocates a 100% "pro-life" agenda -- that is, banning abortion even in cases of rape, incest and when the life and health of the woman is at stake. Granted, a non-viable fetus can't survive if its mother is dead, and a viable fetus can be birthed early rather than aborted -- so, in effect, opposing abortion when a woman's life is on the line literally just means demanding that she dies too. But, come on, we're not seriously still pretending this is about loving fetuses rather than punishing women, are we? Also, Scott Walker was one of the ultrasound governors, singing into law a mandated ultrasound. And, despite conservative protestations to the contrary, this means mandatory transvaginal ultrasounds for women who are early in their pregnancies (for whom the less invasive ultrasound will not work). Also a Walker achievement? Admitting privileges, targeted at abortion providers -- unnecessary, arbitrary and designed to erect hurdles to practicing medicine (only, of course) for abortion providers. Bonus points? While patronizingly pretending to sympathize with women and respect abortion rights in public, Walker makes no pretense about his true views in private. Because, you know, we're too stupid to catch on to that. And beyond these policies directly targeting women, Walker's indirect impact on women is devastating too. So, in short, if you hate your mom, your sisters, your daughters, your girlfriend or wife, and women in general, Scott Walker is your man.

He has attacked gay rights. And wasted lots of money in the process of trying to curtail the right of gay Wisconsinites to get married. And, rather than being shamed by his defeat on this front, rather than reevaluating his theocratic bigotry, Walker cites it as a reason for endorsement. He might have quieted down publicly about his bigotry, but make no mistake: he is as much a bigot as he ever was. Walker wasted state time and money attacking gay people, and is proud of it.

He's crafted his policies around the interests of wealthy supporters without regard for their impact on Wisconsinites. Brother, Scott is a man of principle. And his defining principle is "the love of money". He listens to the millionaires and the billionaires, to big business and moneyed interests. He does what they want, and they pay him accordingly. Remember, it was to a billionaire supporter that he promised to "divide and conquer" Wisconsin unions as a "first step" to right to work (her question, specifically, was about making Wisconsin a right to work state). He crafted a mining policy extremely beneficial to the mining company that donated $700,000 to support his election. Despite formerly being opposed to mining. You know, before the cash drop. His WEDC gave Ashley furniture a $6,000,000 tax credit to build headquarters in WI -- with permission lay off 1,900 employees (half its workforce), and no new job creation requirements. Did I mention that Ashley furniture owners are big Walker supporters, who promptly donated $20K to his reelection? And let's not forget the Koch brother prank call.  Long story short, Scotty is as bought and paid for as they come: he'll destroy worker rights, pollute our waters and land, reward business for firing employees, etc., etc. -- as long as there is a payout at the end. His priorities are the lords, and the serfs can take a flying leap.

On top of it all, Walker abhors honesty. Walker makes a regular habit of prevarication. Whatever the topic, he's got an angle at odds with the truth. Jobs? Bah! Don't trust those numbers (that I told you last election were the gold standard). Choose these ones (that we said were untrustworthy last time), because they look better for me! Abortion? Well, that's a woman's choice! (Unless I get my way...) And the list goes on. Seriously, pick a campaign topic; there's a great chance that Walker has outright lied or significantly misrepresented it. If he's talked about it, he's probably lied about it.

In short, my friend, if you hate everyone but yourself, if you're wealthy, male and a raging douche canoe on top of it all, Scott Walker has got your interests at heart. You should vote for him. If you're anything else, and you support him, you're at best uninformed. Look at the facts, my friend, before it's too late. And we're all stuck suffering for your ignorance.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

"Taking back your democracy"

So, Stephan Pastis of Pearls Before Swine is at it again...infusing his (excellent) comic strip with truth:


Midterms are notorious for low voter turnout. Everywhere where the GOP has control, they've been working hard to make sure the "wrong kind" of voter (i.e. Democrat) turnout is even lower. Wisconsin is a great example -- where, until this late implementation was halted by the Supreme Court, Walker & co were going to implement a voter ID law that required a state issued ID (and sometimes difficult to attain original documents to get it) two months before the election...despite the fact that the DMV's in some counties wouldn't even be open until after the election or the day of the election (meaning that people without driver's licenses would somehow have to get a ride to a different county, or to the DMV and then the polls the day of the election [where it was open that day]). There are 300,000 Wisconsin voters without ID; the GOP did everything they could to ensure that they couldn't vote. Putting a roadblock -- insurmountable, in some cases (where, for instance, a person lives in the county where there is no open DMV before the election, and they, obviously, cannot drive to one in a different county) because of a non-issue (there has only been one actual case of voter fraud in Wisconsin -- and it involved a Scott Walker supporter) is a blatant attempt at voter disenfranchisement. The Wisconsin GOP's plan is on hold for now, thanks to the Supreme Court.
 But the fact that they tried it at all, that they will implement it for the next election, should speak volumes. Voter turnout is something they fear, so much that they're willing to target it.

And if we sit on our duffs this election, if we stay home because we're tired, or don't think we'll win, or have better things to do...we've done their work for them. If you want to keep your democracy, get out there. Vote. It doesn't matter if your line is long, if it's cold, if you'd rather be somewhere else. Your lines will never get shorter if you stay home because they're too long (the GOP has been cutting voting options nationwide, deliberately making it as unpleasant as possible to exercise your right to vote; that's not going to change if they get back in). And there's very little more important than deciding whether people who want to strip women, LGBT people, and working people of as many rights as possible will be running this country; there's little that's more important than deciding if the government will have your interests, or big business', at heart. These are things that will inconvenience your life far more than standing in line in November could ever do. Even in Wisconsin. So, please, for your own sake and this country's, get out there and vote. Before the REPO man really does show up.

I'll see you at the polls, my friends.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Incredible images from Norway

Rustad Media (http://www.rustadmedia.com/) has produced a truly stunning time-lapse video compilation of Norway’s many and varied beauties. The video is the result of 10,000 miles of the photographers' travels, through all 19 counties of Norway. It's just about five minutes long, and covers everything from southwestern fjords to northern snowscapes, countryside to city scenes, waterways to landscapes. It's amazing.

Rustad Media also has an amazing collection of photos up under their photo page. Including these masterpieces. Wow.










Lots more at Rustad Media.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Norwegian-American WWII vet gets Viking funeral

On September 29th, 2014, WWII veteran and Norwegian immigrant Andrew Haines made his farewell journey in true Viking fashion. USA Today reports:
“[Coast Guard] Station Atlantic City fulfilled the final wishes of service veteran Andrew Haines, a New Jersey resident who died in late August at age 89. Haines spent more than a decade planning his own Norse-style send-off, even building a funeral ship to carry his cremated ashes and then be burned.”
Haines had built his 54-inch ship based off of blueprints from Norway, sent by a cousin. The original plans were for a 100 foot long ship, however; Haines worked at scaling the plans down, and eventually created the replica that took him on his final journey.

All of this was done, it should be noted, with one hand: Haines had lost his other arm in an accident in 1975.

Andrew Haines’ Viking funeral 

Andrew Haines was born in Norway, but emigrated to the United States in 1927. He was a child at the time. He then went on to serve in WWII.

Burials at sea are free to military veterans, but notes Atlantic City’s operation officer, Boatswain's Mate 1st Class Christopher Fonseca, “Scattering ashes and flowers is pretty much the norm.” Despite the funeral request being unusual, the Coast Guard worked with Haines’ family to accommodate his last wishes.

And on the 29th, “three miles off the coast…” the Coast Guard “brought the miniature Viking ship down to a recess in their boat, lit the wood shavings inside on fire with a flare and sent it out to sea.

It took about 20 minutes to burn, he said. The family said some last words, and one crew member read a nautically themed Alfred Lord Tennyson poem, Crossing the Bar.”

Monday, October 13, 2014

Some of the more clueless things you'll see this Columbus Day

Compliments of the right wing religious clowns at The Political Insider:


Genocide? Slavery? Rape? Don't worry, it's all cool: Columbus found "sweet consolation" in his god. He's forgiven, it's cool. Happy Columbus Day!

And this isn't the stupidest thing I've seen emanating from the right today. No, that dubious honor goes to professional crackpot Allen West, for turning Columbus Day into an opportunity to get back to...Islam!
But, today we celebrate and remember this Italian explorer who realized the world needed a new trade route because of Islamic conquest — and just so you know, the Umayyad caliphate was followed by the Abbasid caliphate. And here we are today, some 1400 years later, still confronting Islamic conquest by violence, displacement of other indigenous religions by Islam, and the establishment of a caliphate.

We thank Christopher Columbus, but now the world needs another Charles Martel.
I swear, it's like six degrees of Kevin Bacon with West: except six is probably way  more than he needs, and it's all about Islam.

Scott Walker's women's outreach: shutting clinics, repealing equal pay, mandating ultrasounds and more

Ardent women's rights advocate, Governor Scott Walker
During the first 2014 Wisconsin gubernatorial debate, Scott Walker wanted to assure voters that he's very reasonable in regards to abortion, and really just has women's health in mind. He's pro-life, but he can't imagine the difficulty of the situation; he just wants to make sure women are safe. Ultimately, the choice is hers. That's what he says. Turns out, he's a liar.

Come on now, pick yourself up off the floor, sit back down, and let's go over his women's outreach strategy for the past four years. What Scott Walker says and does when he's in power -- not just the month before the election.

First, there's the repeal of equal pay protections. Like many of his other controversial measures, signed into law right before the weekend. It's almost like he doesn't want voters -- women, and men who give a damn about women -- to know that he's making gender based wage discrimination easier. Because, as champion of the repeal, Wisconsin State Senator and village idiot Glenn Grothman argued, "money is more important for men." Walker was happy to do Grothman's and other misogynist Republican's bidding, signing the repeal.
Item One on Scott Walker's Women's Outreach Program: limit women's recourse for gender-based pay discrimination

Of course, withdrawing funds from (leading to the closure of) health clinics that primarily serve women is another win for Walker. Not women, but who cares if they need cancer screenings, birth control, wellness screenings, etc.?  This, of course, was part of his anti-abortion vendetta. The kicker? Some of the clinics that had to close didn't actually provide abortions. (Nevermind that limiting family planning options leads to more unplanned pregnancies, and consequently more abortions). Oops!
Item Two on Scott Walker's Women's Outreach Program: close multiple Planned Parenthoods (even clinics that don't perform abortions) because he hates abortion

Speaking of abortion, part of Walker's women's outreach includes the goal of making abortion illegal. In every circumstance. Even if the mother's life is on the line. Walker talks about abortion being a woman's choice (notably, in the present tense -- that is, it is "today it's her choice") now, during the election. But in the past he's proudly owned his radical views. To Scott Walker, a woman's very life is inconsequential, if she's carrying a zygote, embryo or fetus. As he has made clear.
Item Three on Scott Walker's Women's Outreach Program: outlaw abortion, even for rape and incest victims, and even if the woman's life is on the line

While we're on the topic, Governor Walker decided to boost his appeal to women and decent human beings in general by mandating ultrasounds for women seeking abortions. And, again, this was signed on a weekend, this time in private and quietly announced on a Friday (sensing a pattern here?). So, now women who need abortions have to get ultrasounds. They can be external, if the fetus is large enough to be picked up. But if it's too early, you know what that means: mandatory transvaginal ultrasounds. Thanks to Wisconsin's own gyonotician-in-chief.
Item Four on Scott Walker's Women's Outreach Program: mandate invasive, costly and medically unnecessary procedures as a prerequisite to attaining an abortion

Still on the topic (yup, the governor's all about it being the woman's choice...)...in the same mandatory ultrasounds bill, Walker signed into law a requirement that abortion providers must have admitting privileges at a hospital. This is an absurd requirement, as complications are extremely rare; and one you do not see applied to any other comparable set of providers. This follows a nation-wide pattern by extreme anti-choice governors and legislators, in forcing abortion clinics to shut their doors by erecting too many hurdles to their continued operation.
Item Five on Scott Walker's Women's Outreach Program: erect more hurdles to safe abortions

 While Governor Walker isn't busying himself specifically targeting women, he tends to take stances that disproportionately (and negatively) impact women. His dismissal of setting a minimum wage that covers basic living expenses, for instance, has a highly skewed impact on women. Wisconsin women are more than twice as likely as men to work in low-paying jobs. Scott Walker's solution? Save up for an education with your minimum wage earnings. Nevermind that an income below a living wage means no extra cash lying around for tuition; nevermind that Scott Walker cut education so steeply that 40,000 + people are on a waitlist for financial aid in this state. Nevermind that many of the women working these jobs are working mothers -- meaning their dollar, and time, has to stretch that much further.
Item Six on Scott Walker's Women's Outreach Program: deny working people, overwhelmingly women and mothers, a chance to earn a living wage

Blaming the poor because they don't have the money to improve their situation in life is Walker on a good day. Otherwise, it's full-on demonizing. "My belief is we shouldn't be paying for them to sit on the couch, watching TV or playing Xbox," Walker told cheering campaign volunteers recently, as he promised to pursue drug testing for food stamp recipients. This is straight up Heritage Foundation-esque propaganda, in the Republican effort to convince their base to kick downwards, at the over-privileged and undeserving poor. (Also? Illegal. Federal law prohibits it. It's just pandering rhetoric, meant to incite hate against the poor "other"). And how does that impact women? Because women are, as noted above, more than twice as likely to work low paying jobs than men, and twice as likely as men to need foodstamps at least once.
Item Six on Scott Walker's Women's Outreach Program: demonize poor people (overwhelmingly, women and their children) who need food assistance

So there you have it...our illustrious governor, working hard to infantilize, restrict and limit women by cutting recourse for wage discrimination, cutting healthcare options and availability, mandating unnecessary medical procedures, limiting educational opportunities, demonizing the poor, etc., etc. Whether it's directly targeted at women, or if women are mere collateral damage, Scott Walker's impact on Wisconsin women has been demonstrably harmful. We have fewer healthcare options, less legal protection when facing discrimination, more barriers to access and care, and a governor who completely disregards us -- except to implement patronizing, patriarchal laws.

That is Scott Walker's women's outreach. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Wisconsin sinking millions into failed private schools

Long before Scott Walker was governor, he was a proponent of voucher schools; since becoming governor, he's continued to expand public monies for private schools. I've mentioned specific examples of failure before, discussed why funneling public money to religious schools is a bad idea, and pointed out that the vaunted private schools are actually doing worse than their worst public peers.

Turns out, Wisconsin taxpayers have been pouring millions of dollars into failed voucher schools.
Wisconsin taxpayers have paid about $139 million to private schools that ended up being barred from the state's voucher system for failing to meet requirements since 2004, according to a newspaper report.

State Department of Public Instruction data shows more than two-thirds of the 50 schools terminated from the state's voucher system in the last 10 years had stayed open for five years or less...Eleven schools, paid a total of $4.1 million, were terminated from the voucher program after just one year.
Of note, Scott Walker's campaign refused to answer questions or agree to an interview on the subject. Challenger Mary Burke, however, "said the spending data on terminated schools illustrates the need to scale back the program."
"I'm shocked that the program has continued to be expanded without the type of accountability that really needs to be there," said Burke.
I guess we can file this under yet another brilliant Scott Walker plan gone awry...

Matt Walsh implies that Brittany Maynard is a coward

In my latest piece on Friendly Atheist, I discuss the tragic case of Brittany Maynard -- 29, recently married, trying to start her family, when diagnosed with advanced brain cancer -- and the despicable reaction from chronically-wrong Matt Walsh. You may remember, I've covered Matt Walsh's terrible and vitriolic anti-choice arguments twice before. This one is no better. Indeed, it's much worse.

Conservative Christian blogger Matt Walsh, guest posting at The Blaze, goes so far as to declare her choice “the exact opposite of courage.” He can’t quite bring himself to utter the word “coward,” but he does everything short of it throughout his piece:
"We are given life, we take part in life, we participate in life, but we do not own our lives. We can’t take possession of our lives like a two-year-old grabbing a toy from his friend and shouting ‘Mine!’ Our lives are bigger than that, thank God."
Walsh bemoans people’s support for Maynard and her decision, calling her a “martyr for the cause of self-destruction [in] our modern enlightened society.” He is “terrified to think that [his] children will grow up in a culture that openly venerates suicide with this much unyielding passion.” He also believes that anyone who says Maynard is brave is implying that those who choose otherwise are not.


My responses, and more detail, at the link.


If the GOP has thoroughly accomplished one thing in the past 6 years, it's this

In six years of professional "No-ing," the GOP has accomplished very little. They've shut down the government, accused the president of trying to destroy the country, cooked up every sort of conspiracy theory you can imagine, attacked women, gays and minorities...but that really seems more like "activity" than something accomplished: petulant disagreeableness, throwing a wrench in the workings of the country because they're not in charge, and tearing down their scapegoats du jour.

But looking back at all Republicans have done, they seem to have achieved one goal really well: convince Americans making just enough that if only those with not enough had less, they'd be doing much better. Put another way, they've trained a certain segment of the population to kick downwards. Instead of looking at a system that makes it difficult to survive, instead of looking at the portion of the population that keeps getting richer and richer, instead of looking at how many hundreds and even thousands of times those above them make than everyone else...they look at the people just below them, getting poorer and poorer. Republicans have instilled such a level of contempt in people for unskilled laborers and the poor, that they do the work of justifying paying them less than enough to survive for the party.

Bear in mind, we're not talking about people who don't work; we're not talking about people who earn a lousy living, but a living. We're talking about people who work hard, and do not earn enough for the basic necessities. And as far as Republicans are concerned, this is good enough: the unskilled laborer's comfort, standard-of-life, independence, self-respect, health and ultimately life are worthy of only disdain. He is a failure by virtue of being unskilled, and as such deserves contempt. A cheap Big Mac is more important than the person making it being able to afford to pay his rent and put food on the table after working 40 hours a week.

Thus we see things like this (this particular image has been shared by almost 200K people, but there are many other variants around the net):



First of all, the false comparison is just a way to heap scorn on the working poor: you  just make fries, and you think you should be treated the same as an American hero?! It ignores benefits that are attached (health, etc.) to military service (still needed, but not found in fast food work...), and casts these as mutually exclusive options. Should we pay our military better? Absolutely. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't pay minimum wage employees more, either.

But that's not the worst part of this. Look at the smug contempt this person piles on fast food employees. Throughout the piece, she refers to fast food workers in only demeaning terms:
- Johnny Fry-Boy
- Sally McBurgerflipper
- Baconator
They have "failed," and if they "don't want minimum wage" they shouldn't "have minimum skills."

And, it bears repeating, this is not one bitter, hateful person spewing her contempt for her fellow man on the internet. Once upon a time, the GOP line was "get a job, earn money, it doesn't matter what it is, just get off your butt and work." It's now morphed from "the dignity of work" to "make my burgers, bitch. And hell no, you don't get paid enough to survive, because you're just a burger flipper!"

If a minimum wage worker cannot afford to live, that is his fault, because he should simply better himself. Despite the fact that, you know, he can't afford to live, much less acquire higher education....

This is the same thinking exhibited by Governor Scott Walker in last week's gubernatorial debate, where -- only after continued prodding and much prevarication -- he admitted that he didn't think a living wage should be set, but, rather, that minimum wage workers should user their earnings to better themselves (ignoring the fact, mentioned above, that minimum wage is too low to afford basic necessities of life, much less education; and that he has cut education so much in the state that tens of thousands are on financial aid wait lists -- thus narrowing a minimum wage earner's opportunities even more). 


In short, the GOP has convinced a segment of its base that the poor are poor because they're failures. They can't afford to survive not because they don't work, but because they work in the wrong type of work. If they wanted to be able to survive, they'd just save up from their less-than-enough-to-afford-the-necessities-of-life paychecks for expensive higher education. While Republicans cut funding from and access to it. The fact that the poor don't get the higher education that they can't afford (and Republicans have made it even harder to afford) indicates that they're just failures. (And let's just ignore the fact that the whole "minimum wage jobs are meant for highschool students" is a blatant lie -- as the workforce needed is far, far greater than could be managed by highschool students, operates during school hours, etc., etc.)


When it comes right down to it, the Republican answer to a living wage is as meaningful, sophisticated and compassionate as this Disney cartoon villain's:

Frankly, I can't decide which is worse: that a mainstream party would actually run with such an answer, or that so many people can be so easily swayed to view their fellow man with such unbridled contempt as to think their hard work should be given for less than enough to survive. Because, fuck them, the poor, unskilled bastards.

And this is the GOP's big success: they've convinced people to despise those whose lives are more difficult than their own, to consider the success of those beneath them as personally or societally harmful; to think that a full-time working person should make less than enough to survive, because they don't deserve survival if they don't have higher education. (But, remember, the president is a "snob" for advocating educational opportunities for all!)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Scott Walker: lies, deflections, and f#ck the poor (the minimum wage debate recap )

Governor Walker doesn't think the minimum wage should be a living wage. And he finally, with much pressing and after much prevarication, acknowledged it last night.
In last night's debate, he declared that people shouldn't live off of minimum wage jobs -- they should use their earnings from those jobs to better themselves, like he did when working at McDonalds years ago. This ignores the very crucial points that:

  1. If you can't afford to put a roof over your head and buy food without government assistance, you're sure as hell not going to be able to save up for an education.
  2.  Did I mention that Walker's cuts to education have tens of thousands on wait-lists for financial aid? So, even if you're somehow able to survive on minimum wage earnings, your educational opportunities have been shrunk. By the guy telling you to get off your ass and get an education or vocational training.
  3.  When Walker was working a minimum wage job, his earnings, adjusted for inflation, were much, much higher.
  4. There are not enough high school students and retirees looking to make a few bucks a week or other minimum-wage-part-time earners to fill all the food services, retail, etc., minimum wage jobs out there. If every person working those jobs somehow overcame all the hurdles and got a better education and found a higher paying job, those businesses would not be able to operate. In other words, many businesses rely on full-time (or equivalent) unskilled labor to keep their doors open. 

The "get off your ass" line isn't an answer to the problem, it's a deflection of the issue. Paying unskilled laborers less than enough to survive, much less better themselves, while telling them to just get off their duffs and better themselves is not only contradictory, but it's patronizing BS. Pretending that businesses don't need -- indeed, could survive without -- a lot of unskilled labor is flat out dishonest. Rather than addressing the issue, Scott Walker pretended it wasn't an issue.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Details from the Palin brawl...and has Bristol got a temper...

So the police report is out about the Palin brawl, and a few things stand out. Most of all, my goodness, but does Bristol Palin have a temper. (And the whole family seems to have a drinking problem). Anchorage Alaska reports:

Klingenmeyer told police that a fight had broken out in the cul-de-sac in front of the home, and he had asked guests not to get involved. A few minutes later, Bristol and Willow Palin came around the back of the house, and Bristol looked like she wanted to start a fight, Klingenmeyer said.

Klingenmeyer asked her to leave, he told police. “Who the f--- are you?” she responded. He told her he was the homeowner, and she responded that he didn’t own the house and she would “kick his ass.”

“He says then that she hits him in the face. He says he then tells her to hit him again if it makes her feel better and she does. He says he lets her hit him 5-6 times in the face and that she was hitting pretty hard. After about the sixth punch he grabbed her fist as she punched again and he pushed back and she falls down. He says she gets up and tries to punch him again and he grabs her fist again and pushes her away and she falls down again,” Daily wrote.

Seven other witnesses told police the same version of events as Klingenmeyer.
Bristol was, the officer noted, "heavily intoxicated and upset". Her own story borders on the absurd, but does play up the Palin victim complex quite admirably:
She [Bristol] stated she didn't know who Corey was and then said that Korey [sic] had drug her across the lawn by her legs and was calling her a cunt and a slut. She said the guy with the red shirt was dragging her., when asked how it started, she said that her little sister told her that a girl had hit her so she walked up and asked what 40 year old was pushing her sister and that's when some guy walked up and pushes her on the ground and starts dragging on the lawn and calling her names....She said didn't know what else happened and didn't have a clue whether she hit him [Corey] or not.
Bristol also alleges that someone stole her sunglasses and shoes.

Rather than being at fault and looking for a fight, as multiple people note, she was really just a victim. Someone was picking on her little sister, she merely asked who it was, and voila! She's attacked, dragged around, and beat up. Sounds really quite plausible...

For his part, Track was no shining star either. While several witnesses agree that a friend of his had been sucker-punched, many witnesses also have him looking for -- and instigating a separate -- fight throughout the evening. Furthermore, the police report lists that the responding police offer found him belligerent. Officer John Daily states that Track "was angry and intoxicated and I had a hard time getting him to calm down." He also notes in his observations:
On arrival I saw that there was a long white limousine parked in the road...and there were several people w/b towards the vehicle. They were leading a WMA to the limo and pushing him in as I approached, appearing intent on keeping him away from me. I saw that he did not have a shirt on and there was blood around his mouth and on his hands and he appeared to have an injury under his left eye, on his upper cheek.
After he got in the limo I walked over and leaned in to the car and asked the subject to step out. He appeared heavily intoxicated and he acted belligerent at first but I was able to get him to step out of the car and a female who turned out to be his mother, told him to talk to me. He came out of the car to talk and was in the presence of his father, Todd Palin, mother, Sarah Palin, and he identified himself as Track Palin.
All I can say is, I shudder to think what sort of reaction that behavior would have elicited if Track Palin wasn't white...

Oh, and even after the fight broke up, and the officers were questioning people? The Palins kept coming back for more. Officer Ruth Adolf recorded:
After I spoke to Dishion [another witness], Todd Palin came walking back to the driveway confronting Corey asking him if he called his daughter a "bitch". Willow Palin walked up and also got involved flipping Corey off and getting loud. We eventually separated everyone and the Palin family ended up leaving.
You know what they say... the family that drinks and fights together...

Monday, October 6, 2014

And here comes Pro-Life Godwin's Law...yet again...

So I just posted about this the other day, and here it is again. Only instead of a still young and brainwashed reality TV star, as in Jessa Duggar's case, this is Texas State Senator Charles Perry ("Texas" and "Perry" are really seeming to be a bad combo...).
Describing his theocratic ambitions as part of a “spiritual battle for the spirit of this nation and the soul of its people,” he emphasized that abortion and same-sex marriage will be key issues.

Some choice quotes at the article ... including his comparison of "laws that lead citizens away from God" with lining Holocaust victims up against a wall and shooting them in the throat. Nope, I'm not kidding.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Should religious belief trump secular law?

Does religious belief trump secular law? My latest piece on Patheos' FriendlyAtheist discusses a law professor's take the statutes that have been delivering a resounding "yes," in cases like Hobby Lobby -- and how they confer added benefits for believers beyond the constitutional freedom of religion.

From the piece:
...if the law can only be enforced if the government demonstrates that there is simply no other way to achieve the same means, we will be left with a bizarre and ultimately unworkable legal maze that exempts almost anyone professing almost any belief (regardless of its basis in reality) from almost any law. If closely held religious belief is all that’s needed to exempt someone from “neutral and generally applicable” laws, the law essentially loses all value, and every citizen indeed becomes “a law unto himself.”

Check it out.


Saturday, October 4, 2014

Religious-based science denial in action: when you have to defend life saving chemotherapy...and still get attacked...

Answers in Genesis FB page recently reshared an article from last year, where a Christian writer defended as Biblical his decision to receive life saving chemotherapy...my latest article on FriendlyAtheist discusses his comments, the frosty reception among AiG readers, and the reason behind it. From the article:
When someone encourages his flock to dismiss science as it relates to one topic, it shouldn’t come as a shock to to find the same folks also dismissing science in other fields. And while I give Answers in Genesis props for fighting this particular brand of Bible-based science denial, it’s unfortunate that they don’t recognize that the problem is Bible-based science denial in general. It’s not just one particularly insane belief floating around; it’s all the faulty beliefs that can spring up due to one particular interpretation of the book.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Jesus loves me, this I know...

So Answers in Genesis put the following cartoon up awhile ago.

 

The idea, of course, is to mock people who rely on reality rather than the Bible, playing off the song, "Jesus loves me, this I know, because the Bible tells me so." You know, "haha, those dumb atheists and Christians who think science matters. Don't they know, we have a book that supersedes facts!" The example in question, of course, is pretty amusing...

Because the song may say that the Bible says that...but the Bible doesn't actually say that.  So, really, while the guy who professes a love of science is completely wrong here...so too is the entire point of the goofy cartoon.

Damn that reality, getting in the way of good propaganda...