Fresh from being unreachable by the press during the Saturday rally/protest in Bedford, county DA Bill Higgins
carefully read Sunday’s newspaper coverage of the protest before coming up with his tactical response, finally figured out something to say, quote, “reached out to the Mirror Sunday in an email after coverage of the rally noted he was unavailable. A message left at Higgins’ cellphone was not returned Saturday afternoon.”
I don’t blame the guy for ducking the media until he figured out his response. It’s just that the awaited response is so damn weak. From the Altoona Mirror (Making it happen for you! Unless you aren’t a subscriber, then pay wall!)
Bedford County District Attorney Bill Higgins said in an email that he is a “tireless advocate” for giving youth second chances, but much of the discussion on a high-profile desecration case has left out the voice of the religious group that was affected by a teen’s alleged actions.
“Love, Inc. has a right to practice their faith unmolested, and as District Attorney I have an obligation to see to it that their rights are respected,” Higgins said.
They do have that right. And if anyone actually molests a member of Love, Inc. while they are trying to practice their faith, I will be back on that street corner in Bedford with more signs defending their rights. Are we really supposed to believe that this kid snapping a picture with their statue, a picture that no one even knew existed until someone saw it on Facebook and immediately went into maximum pearl clutching mode, in any way infringes on their rights to worship as they believe? It’s a picture, Bill. No actual damage was done to the statue. It is still there. Right beside the road. In fact, I stopped by the statue the other morning for an exclusive interview with a statue of kneeling Jesus. You see, that is now the actual one voice left out of this story. What about the poor statue?
Foster Disbelief: Good morning, Mr. H. Christ. My name is Foster Disbelief, though you can call me JR. How are you feeling today?
Statue of Jesus: ……….
FD: I came out here today to ask you a few questions about your recent desecration. Are you feeling up to it?
FD: Right. No need to stand up, just stay right there as you are. Okay, so do many people take pictures with you?
FD: You’re right, there’s no need to beat around the bush with small talk. You’re a tough one, Statue Jesus. What were your thoughts when this teen was posing with you in that position, miming either receiving oral sex from you, or getting electrocuted with your holy power upon laying his hands upon your head?
FD: Caught you off guard there, didn’t I? Didn’t expect someone to come up with an alternative description for that pose? Why are all these people immediately assuming he was pantomiming oral sodomy? Filthy, gutter bound minds?
FD: Yeah, I know he really was posing like he was about to fuck your face. That’s not the point. The point is, it is a still picture, a snapshot, and it’s easy to get the wrong impression from an out of context picture. But I want to talk about your feelings. How horrible did his actions make you feel?
FD: Mmmm. Was this the first time anyone used you like that?
FD: Did you enjoy it?
FD: Some people have been saying that you were asking for it. Okay, not really some people, one person. Okay, it was me. I’m claiming that you were asking for it. The only time that phrase has ever been used legitimately in the history of the world when referring to sexual assault. Were you?
FD: Did this teen and his picture in anyway limit your free expression of religion?
FD: If you didn’t want to talk, you could have just refused the interview. Seriously, I can’t believe I drove out here for that.
It was a picture, Bill. Taken at a statue that is approachable by the public. Fully clothed. Harmed no one. Violated zero rights. Well, other than the imagined right to not be offended, but that seriously isn’t a real right, Bill. Moving on……
Higgins stressed that, despite reports, the boy “will, in all likelihood, be placed into a diversionary program, perform a few hours of community service, answer to a probation officer for a few months and end up with no criminal record whatsoever.”
Not. The. Point.
You can suggest whatever sentence you feel like, Bill, but if he gets in front of an offended Judge who’s been having a bad day, he could still sit in juvie for 2 years. But that’s not the point either. If the punishment was a five dollar fine, suspended, I’d still think it was too harsh. Because either the law, or your interpretation of it, are unconstitutional. His Facebook picture was no more offensive than one of the signs I brought to Bedford. (You should have seen the one I left in the car*.) His picture and my sign caused the same amount of actual harm. Both are legal. Your interpretation of this law is turning it into a blasphemy law. Even you have to know that blasphemy laws are unconstitutional. You are the county DA. I’m assuming law school was somewhere in there.
He also noted that many who are speaking out against his decision to charge the teenager have taken to attacking his character.
At Saturday’s rally, Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen said Higgins “sounds more like a talk show host” than an attorney.
“My motivations in prosecuting this case are based solely on the law,” Higgins said.
“Personal attacks and character assassination directed at me and my family are unproductive, unwarranted and, quite frankly, and I will not respond to them in any way, shape or form.”
Oh, this is my personal favorite part of his reply. Remember this Facebook comment from our good friend Bill, when this story first started?
“I guess I should take solace in the fact that the liberals are mad at me – again,” Higgins said Thursday on his Facebook page. “As for this case, this troubled young man offended the sensibilities and morals of OUR community. … His actions constitute a violation of the law, and he will be prosecuted accordingly. If that tends to upset the ‘anti-Christian, ban-school-prayer, war-on-Christmas, oppose-display-of-Ten-Commandments’ crowd, I make no apologies.”
Based solely on the law.? Check. Personal attacks and character assassination is unproductive and unwarranted? Check.
When this story started, your first action was to pander to the GOP base. You don’t get to pretend you are above the fray now that people are actually paying attention.
I’d ask how these people get elected, but I live in the area, so I unfortunately know.
Super Bukkake Star With image. But there were kids there, and I wasn’t going to put their parents in the position to have to explain that one to them.
Yeah, I’m reaching.
A Pennsylvania state report released this past week claims that heroin is now easier to obtain in the state than wine, and cheaper than beer, especially in rural PA.
The report, which comes from the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, a joint legislative state agency, claims you can get small packets of heroin for between $5 and $10 across PA, which I did not know was a thing. The crazy thing? We’re not talking about specifically urban areas here; Cambria County, to use one example, has a drug overdose rate of 22.6 deaths per 100,000 people — equal to Philadelphia’s rate.
Know what the real problem is? Teens snapping “offensive” pictures. *nods sagely* Oh wait, that said Cambria County, not Bedford County. (Still a half hour from my house either direction. Not like there’s any real difference.) Continuing for one more line:
On the one hand, that seems insane — how can heroin be that easily attainable? On the other hand, have you ever been to rural Pennsylvania? It’s…not pleasant.
I can totally understand why it seems insane to a non-user. If on the odd chance I decided to throw my life out the window and shoot heroin again, I wouldn’t know the first place to look for it anymore. (At least until the next scheduled Narcotics Anonymous meeting. Then I’d be golden. Er, high and once again trapped in a cycle I know far too well already, I mean.) But believe me, it is here, there and fucking everywhere. Funny how no matter how many people the drug task force locks up, the problem keeps getting worse. You’d think they’d consider trying different solutions.
Nah, that Drug Task Force money is sweet. And think of all the officers who get to pretend they’re fighting real crime and making a difference.
The only difference they are making is to the futures of the non-violent offenders they saddle with felonious records. Good show.
I’d like to consider myself a special little snowflake, but I just finished reading this reply, word for word, on the American Atheist’s post about the event. On their site the reply was made by a GibbyD and here at Foster Disbelief it came from a mysterious “Ed,” but it is, as I said, word for word. So, same person, different names, or really shitty form letter? You be the judge. Moving it from the comment section of this post to here so more eyes get a glimpse of it.
The law is needed , not only to protect the desecration of the statue depicting Jesus , but also all statues and monuments that are venerated for the people and or ideas they represent . Without this law other memorials and monuments would be fair game for abuse . Think what that would mean . Would you want , for instance , radical Muslims desecrating the Lincoln memorial , Arlington Cemetery and or The Statue of Martin Luther King ? Many of them would be lining up to pose as this youth did but on other statues and monuments that possibly you respect and or hold in awe and reverence . If the kid would have used a statue he owned and or on his own property , then his 1st amendment rights would apply . This law is to protect from abuse those publicly displayed venerated statues and monuments be they secular or religious .
And my reply:
Luckily for me, it was the part of me that is easily ignored.
You know, when I first decided I wanted to write a blog, I thought that I would devote most of my time and effort to atheism and the atheist community. After all, the blogs that inspired me all dealt with non-belief, chief amongst them PZ Myers’ Pharyngula. Don’t get me wrong, I was also influenced by Ed Brayton’s Dispatches from the Culture Wars, as any of my readers can tell you, so there was always also going to be a bit of politics and social issue stuff, but I honestly thought the majority of my posts would be about atheism and the atheist movement, with a healthy dose of skepticism thrown in. I mean, look at my book shelf.
Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Michael Shermer, Benjamin Radford….
And yet, the more I posted, the more I strayed from posting about atheism. I never stopped posting about fringe religious elements and the Christian conservative control of the GOP, but that was much more due to the social issue ramifications than anything to do with an atheist, or skeptical movement. And as much as I didn’t want to be just another liberal, progressive political blog, the more I posted, the more that is what I became.
Why? Look at my book shelf.
Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Michael Shermer, Benjamin Radford….
Why People Believe Weird Things was my baptism in skepticism. The God Delusion my intro into the “New” atheism. I loved The End of Faith so much that Harris became my second favorite author with a last name beginning with “H.” And not only did I love Radford’s team up with Joe Nickell for Lake Monster Mysteries, but Monstertalk was my favorite podcast. Two of my favorite magazines are heavily involved with Radford and Shermer. From what I could tell, organized skepticism and atheism was entwined with these men.
And yet I found myself drifting away from skepticism and atheism as movements. Why?
Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Michael Shermer, Benjamin Radford…..
First there was “Elevatorgate” and Dawkins showed his privilege. Oh, but if only that was the only bit of sexism to make itself known in the community. For those of you not involved in atheism or skepticism as a community or movement, I will spare you the details. Those of you involved know exactly what I am talking about. As time moved on, the list grew longer and longer. DJ Grothe inserted foot firmly in mouth. Sam Harris let us all know that he isn’t the sexist pig we’re looking for. Go ahead and Google Radford and Shermer. All I’ll say is Karen Stollznow was the best host of MonsterTalk.
You won’t get your philosophical atheist utopia at all if that utopia considers the dignity of all human beings to be a secondary matter. You will effectively kneecap the whole movement if you don’t care about social justice, and worse, are more afraid of driving out the hateful and intolerant who are already inside our ranks than of embracing the needs of the many millions outside of them.
It’s already happening, though. The disenchantment with the movement is growing.
Libby Anne wonders, Do They Care about Women, or Simply Bashing Religion?.
Frankly, I feel used. These atheist activists are the sort of people who want to use my story as proof that religion is horrible to women but aren’t willing to listen to what I have to say about sexism in our culture at large. They are the sort of people who are eager to use the shooting of young education activist Malala Yousafzai by the Taliban to prove how horrible religion is for women but somehow fail to mention that Malala is a Muslim who speaks of drawing her inspiration to fight for gender equality from the Koran. This is not standing up for women. This is exploiting women as merely a tool in a fight against religion.
I’m done. I’m so, so done.
Katha Pollitt thinks that Atheists Show Their Sexist Side, and are currently having a “sexist tantrum”.
Alas, the ability to take such instruction is in good part something Sam Harris thinks women sadly lack. “There’s something about that critical posture that is to some degree intrinsically male and more attractive to guys than to women,” said the bestselling author of The End of Faith. “The atheist variable just has this—it doesn’t obviously have this nurturing, coherence-building extra estrogen vibe that you would want by default if you wanted to attract as many women as men.” It seems to me, judging from recent events, that atheist men are the fragile flowers here—they, not women, are the ones wilting under criticism. Perhaps they can’t stand it that women are withholding that “extra estrogen vibe” that used to make conferences so much fun. (Amanda Marcotte, of the steel-trap mind, has a fine time slapping Harris around at Pandagon. Remind me never to get into a fight with her.)
Why would women join a movement led by sexists and populated by trolls? If this is atheism, I’m becoming a Catholic.
Tauriq Moosa says the reason he became an active atheist is now why he’s not one.
I won’t be part of a movement resolutely more focused on shielding rich, white dudes than by being inclusive of marginalised, non-male, non-white people. Count me out. Call me back when we give a shit about women and you can admit those of us writing in a small corner of the internet actually care about moral action, not money, for what we do.
The only people who can survive off atheist clickbait are people who write books called The God Delusion. It’s not fucking bloggers.
I will make a prediction, right here and now. The number of people identifying as “nones” will grow in this country in coming years, because we’re on the right side of history, and because organized religion is happily in the process of destroying itself with regressive social attitudes, scandals, and their bizarre focus on other-worldly issues that don’t help people. The number of people identifying as atheists will stagnate or even shrink, because organized atheism is happily in the process of destroying itself with regressive social attitudes, scandals, and their bizarre focus on irrelevant metaphysical differences that don’t help people.
I can’t say that’s a bad thing. The name of atheism has been burdened with unfair and inaccurate stigma for a great many years, and we’re now drifting into an era in which atheism will be burdened with a totally fair and accurate stigma.
Unless we change.
I don’t know that we can.
I took part in a nice little bit of atheist activism today. There were men, women and children in attendance, working together, because atheism isn’t a men’s issue, or a women’s issue, it is a human issue.
I don’t want to be a political blogger. I want to be part of an atheism/skepticism movement, a community that I can be proud of.
I’m so sick of watching my heroes prove themselves pigs.
(And yes, I am going to do something besides bitch about it.)
Now go enjoy your weekend. I’ll be back on Monday.
Beautiful day for a rally/protest. Other than one knuckle-dragger in a Bedford County Free Press shirt who insisted on exercising his right to curse and yell his disapproval of our rally in front of the children in attendance, and an adorable elderly couple who visited to explain to us all how Darwin knew he was full of shit and how we were all going to burn in eternal fire, it was just a peaceful little gathering of those who believe the Constitution is worth defending. In attendance were The Bar Room Atheist gathering audio for his podcast, David Silverman from American Atheists, and Brian Fields of PA Non Believers!
While I got to plug Foster Disbelief on The Bar Room Atheist, have one of my signs make Tom and Cecil’s (from Cognitive Dissonance) day, and got a picture of me with David Silverman, the real winner today was the Constitution, the teen charged in this mess (who will have as many lawyers as he needs if he fights the case), and the locals who cared enough about the issue to risk “offending the Christian sensibilities” of Bedford, PA by showing up to protest.
Here are three quick pics from my phone. Once everyone else gets home and gets stuff posted, I will link to more images from Bedford.
Enjoy your weekend!
Well I know what I’ll be doing tomorrow: (From the Altoona Mirror, and it is behind a pay wall. Sorry.)
Three groups will lead a demonstration Saturday in support of a Bedford County teenager who faces charges of desecration of a statue of Jesus.
The event, coordinated by Truth Wins Out: Center Against Religious Extremism, American Atheists and Pennsylvania Nonbelievers, will feature a slate of speakers who will discuss why some believe the 14-year-old’s rights to free speech were violated by the charges. The protest is set to begin at noon near the county courthouse, 200 S. Juliana St.
Some organizers wanted to make it clear that the law is a problem, whether or not you support the specific actions of the teen in question.
Evan Hurst, associate director of Truth Wins Out, said that although the organization doesn’t necessarily support the boy’s alleged actions, there are large implications for his prosecution.
“Regardless of whether the kid’s actions were polite – I think we can all agree that what he did was rude – there is a larger issue here, and it has to do with free speech,” Hurst said.
The teen was charged with desecration after he posted photos of himself on his Facebook page that show him standing over a statue of a kneeling Jesus and mimicking a sex act. A number of national groups have taken interest in the case, including the American Civil Liberties Union, and the story has gone viral online.
The press this story has received has me overjoyed. For those not following along at home, I jumped all over the story on September 10th when my local paper first covered it, blogging about it first and then reaching out to the ACLU and The Friendly Atheist, amongst others. Hermant Mehta then wrote about it at The Friendly Atheist, and the next thing I knew it had exploded.* ( For my readers who missed my coverage of the story, you can find the original piece here, and the two update articles here and here. ) While I knew the ACLU had taken an interest in the case, seeing a coalition form around Truth Wins Out to organize a demonstration really brought a smile to my face. (And yes, I am pretty much going to find a reason to quote the whole article since The Altoona Mirror made the decision to stick their entire fishwrap behind a pay wall.)
Hurst said Truth Wins Out reached out to Pennsylvania groups about putting together a rally for the boy and received positive response from the Pennsylvania Nonbelievers.
American Atheists asked to get involved shortly after, he said.
The leaders of all three groups – Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen, American Atheists President David Silverman and Pennsylvania Nonbelievers President Brian Fields – will speak at the demonstration.
Hurst said that Truth Wins Out is not an atheist organization but works with religious groups to protect freedoms. According to its website, the organization “works to demolish the very foundation of anti-gay prejudice” by debunking myths about the LGBT community.
“If my right to speak out and criticize whatever I want to criticize is being infringed upon, then that is an issue for everybody, and that includes conservative Christians,” Hurst said. “The fact of the matter is that this 14-year-old kid is not a sticking point in the culture; he’s a kid who did something stupid. It really quickly just spiraled out of control.”
The District Attorney in Bedford County is Bill Higgins, a far right conservative Christian in an area that practically requires those religious beliefs in order to get elected. He is openly antagonistic to anyone who holds a different opinion than him on the issue of church and state separation, and since he displays practically zero Constitutional literacy, that group includes just about everyone. Remember this comment he posted on Facebook when the story was just beginning to catch fire?
“I guess I should take solace in the fact that the liberals are mad at me – again,” Higgins said Thursday on his Facebook page. “As for this case, this troubled young man offended the sensibilities and morals of OUR community. … His actions constitute a violation of the law, and he will be prosecuted accordingly. If that tends to upset the ‘anti-Christian, ban-school-prayer, war-on-Christmas, oppose-display-of-Ten-Commandments’ crowd, I make no apologies.”
I don’t know about you, but for me, the instant someone mentions “the war on Christmas” in a non-sarcastic way, I know I am dealing with a true winged nut. Adding in support for school prayer is just a bonus. Predictably, DA Higgins does not disappoint now that this story has hit the rally at the courthouse stage.
Bedford County District Attorney Bill Higgins said that concerns with the case are blown out proportion and were made worse by exaggerated media reports that suggested the teen would serve multiple years in jail or in juvenile detention.
Higgins said that by filing charges, the case can be handled in the appropriate way – through the courts.
“The place to dispute it is in a courtroom,” he said. “I don’t want to stand on a street corner and protest, though they’re welcome to do that.”
He said the teenager is going to likely do some community service for his actions but will not face jail time or juvenile placement.
“The kid did something stupid. He’s 14 years old,” Higgins said. “It’s obvious this kid needs some help, and we’re going to get him the help that he needs.”
Sigh. He really doesn’t get it, does he? Reading his Facebook comment about all the horrible anti-Christians he loves to upset unfortunately doesn’t really reveal much about his own personal beliefs or opinions. He could truly believe each word in that post, believe me, I know people who do. But at the same time, he could just be pandering to the local GOP base, knowing that by posting that knuckle-dragging screed he just earned a bunch of votes the next time he comes up for reelection. His most recent comments, however, reek of just plain missing the point. Sure, some articles covering this story have stressed the range of punishments this teen could face if convicted in court, and while two years in a juvenile facility is indeed the maximum punishment, he would almost certainly receive a less severe sentence. The severity of the punishment is a red herring in this case. I would be writing about it, as I believe others would be as well, if the maximum penalty was a 5 dollar fine. The point is this: Taking a picture is not a crime.
The problem isn’t the punishment, it is the law itself. Remember, the teen did no actual damage to the statue. He took a picture so that it looked like the statue was performing oral sex on him. That’s it. The statue is still there, on its knees, wantonly luring those with immature, blasphemous senses of humor to violate it. In fact, this could be the only time in history that the phrase “asking for it” could be used legitimately. For this statue of Jesus is, without a doubt, asking for it. This teen was arrested because someone saw his pictures on Facebook. Period. Full stop. He didn’t slide a copy under every door in the community. He didn’t send one to the statue’s owners with a note demanding the removal of the statue, or the next time he would give Jesus a facial. He took a picture of questionable taste and posted it on Facebook. Strangely enough, teenagers are known for having questionable taste. They are fucking teenagers! His pictures were not the first pictures taken of that statue, I will guarantee it. We live in the age of smart phones. Half of his school probably has pictures of themselves and the statue. Some probably have their arms around it. Some probably show acts much more perverse than oral sex with statue Jesus.
This is the second time I have seen DA Higgins make a comment that “it’s obvious this kid needs some help…” Obvious? To who? Other than DA Higgins, I mean. He’s a teen who took a picture. He isn’t naked in the picture. He isn’t shoving his bare junk in statue Jesus’ face. He took a picture that I am willing to bet 50 people took before him. But DA Higgins thinks it is obvious that he needs help, and that, not the possible punishments, is the real problem here.
You see, as much as many of my fellow central Pennsylvanians want it to be, not believing in Jesus is not a crime. DA Higgins may indeed think that anyone who would pose for this picture “needs help,” but that thought requires a belief in Jesus, and the belief that posing for the picture constitutes blasphemy or desecration. But for non-believers, including those who just believe in other faiths than Christianity, it is just a statue of a man on his knees. Sure, most realize that it is a statue of Jesus, but Jesus, as much as it offends your delicate sensibilities, doesn’t mean anything to them. This area may indeed be overwhelmingly Christian, but no matter how large of a percentage the Christians may be locally, you can not force non-Christians to hold your statue in reverence. The United States, no matter how many David Barton’s the right vomits up, is decidedly not a Christian nation. We are a product of the Enlightenment, with freedom to believe, or not to believe, enshrined in the First Amendment to our Constitution. We have no religious test to hold national office. Our founding documents avoid God and religion. Our founding fathers left libraries full of documents and letters explaining the wall of separation. Blasphemy is not illegal.
DA Higgins “said that by filing charges, the case can be handled in the appropriate way”. The only “appropriate way” to handle this case is to dismiss all charges and then repeal the law. Either the police and the DA are overreaching by charging this teen under the law, or the law is unconstitutional. Period. There is really no other way to look at it. Charge him with trespassing if you really must extract your pound of flesh, although I am not aware of any “No Trespassing” signs in the vicinity of kneeling Jesus. This law is going to cost Bedford County money; this teen and his parents may just want it all to go away, quietly pleading guilty and moving on, but now that the law is well known, someone will push the issue in order to get it into the courts. Hell, I’ll snap the picture if I must.
I realize that some people may read this and wonder why people are so concerned about this issue. Here is my answer to them:
A blogger found guilty of insulting the Prophet Mohammad in his postings on Facebook has been sentenced to death.
You should go and read that story, but that is the only part that I need to post here. Don’t even try throwing any “slippery slope” fallacy claims at me either. I realize the difference between Iran and the United States. I also realize that there is a nice portion of Christians who are actively working towards turning the United States into a Christian theocracy. American Christians routinely shame their country by working on things like Uganda’s “kill the gays” law, and praising things like Russia’s laws against homosexual tolerance and activism.
That blogger, Soheil Arabi, faces death for what he posted on Facebook. This teen faces up to 2 years in a juvenile facility for what he posted to Facebook. Yes, the two possible punishments are worlds apart, especially since the teen, if found guilty, will likely only suffer community service and a fine. But as I said earlier in this post, the actual punishment does not matter.
Right now in Pennsylvania, part of the United States of America, they can arrest you for posting a picture on Facebook that offends their religious sensibilities. Just like in Iran.
If this stands, how long until some town or county, also with a super majority of conservative Christians, decides they don’t need the picture, just a post on Facebook that offends their religious sensibilities? How many of you practice no religion, or religions that are not the majority religion, and write about similar issues on the internet? How long til you offend the majority?
Blasphemy laws are anti-freedom, anti-liberty,anti-Christian, and anti-American. Make no mistake about it, this is, as currently being enforced in the Facebook photo case, a blasphemy law. Those in the Christian majority would do well to remember the early days of Christianity, when it was a minority religion that dealt with real persecution. There are areas of the world right now where Christians are persecuted over their religion, real persecution, not the false “persecution of the majority” Fox News and other outlets wants you to believe takes place in the United States. How sad, how quickly the once persecuted flip the script once they find themselves in power.
While I am aware that prohibitions against representations of the prophet preclude this example, ignore that fact for argument’s sake. The very Christians who support this law, this case in particular, and who will be making up the counter protest I totally expect to see tomorrow would be rioting in the streets if the teen in question would have been charged for taking the same picture with a statue of Muhammad.
Though I doubt it will do any good, I’ll urge supporters of this law and the arrest of this teen to do the same thing I ask of supporters of school prayer, prayer before council meetings, displays of the Ten Commandments, crosses on public land, or any similar dismantling of the wall of separation. Imagine you are the minority. Imagine your child is led in a prayer to Allah every morning before class. Imagine having to swear to tell the truth on a Koran before testifying in court. Imagine your tax dollars paying to erect and light a huge pentagram for Winter Solstice each year. Imagine entering a courthouse, seeking justice on either side of a case, and first passing by a stone slab carved with the Purusharthas. And imagine that it is you, or your child, being arrested because the police decided something you posted on Facebook insulted the Prophet.
You won’t, or if you do, you will quickly justify the law and your support with a quick “but we’re the majority, not those heathen Satanistic mooslembuddhishindiwiccatheists.” Cause if logic and rational thought worked, we wouldn’t need the sections of our nation’s laws that are intended to protect the minority from oppression by the majority. And I’m sure the GOP never even thought about the demographics of the nation changing enough that whites would be a minority when they were developing their inherently racist “Southern Strategy.” Things can change.
Okay, I have signs to make. Hope to see some of you tomorrow!
If you go
What: Protest in support of Bedford teen
When: Noon Saturday
Where: Downtown Bedford, near the courthouse
I’ll be back with pictures from the rally tomorrow. I really hope that I can write a story of an inspiring, peaceful event. Knowing the area as I do, I just worry that some of the more fringe “Christians” may get a bit drunk and drive into Bedford to go bash them some atheists. I doubt it, but that doesn’t mean I’m not a bit worried about it.
*Once again, I am not claiming that Foster Disbelief is the reason the story got covered. The story more than likely would have gotten picked up no matter what I did, and I have no idea if other sites were covering it before Foster Disbelief and The Friendly Atheist posted our articles. No horn blowing here, just going over the timeline I’m aware of.
Eww. I feel…dirty? There is just something indescribably skin crawling about this campaign ad for Louisiana Rep. Vance McAllister. Rep. McAllister, you may remember, was in the news months ago due to the “kissing scandal“, which is a cute way of saying he was caught on video cheating on his wife with a staff member. (Amazingly, unlike many family values conservatives who experience similar fates, the staffer in this case was a woman.) After resisting calls from, well, everybody, to step down or at least not run for re-election, Rep. McAllister was faced with a difficult problem. As a politician who’s whole identity is that of a Family Values Christian Crusader, how do you deal with recent, direct hypocrisy while protecting your chances of re-election? His answer results in this video:
As posted at Salon:
his campaign team has released an ad featuring McAllister and his wife discussing-but-not-discussing the incident in question. (It’s called the “kissing scandal” in most reporting on the affair, which is totally adorable.)
“Life is filled with ups and downs,” McAllister says in the ad.
“But a man’s character is based on how many times he gets back up and stands again,” his wife, Kelly McAllister, continues. She goes on to explain that she feels “blessed to have a husband who owns up to his mistakes, never gives up, always fighting for the good people of Louisiana.” (McAllister says he also feels blessed to have a “wonderful Christian wife.”)
and more to the point:
After news of McAllister’s kissing troubles broke, the chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party and Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal called for his resignation, but the man refused to halt his campaign. Probably because he knew that in just a few short months he would come out with the world’s best and not-at-all creepy campaign ad showing him and his wife stiffly asserting their affection for one another in a way that is totally believable and not at all unsettling, and then all would be forgiven.
I would almost give them credit for trying if I didn’t picture late night discussions in GOP war rooms that go something like this:
GOP Strategist: “Goddammit, we’re still losing the chick vote by double digits. I don’t get it, no one has said anything about the fact that pregnancies caused by rape are a myth this week. Why won’t they vote for us?”
GOP Ad Exec 1: “Bitches be crazy.”
GOP Ad Exec 2: “I think Frank is on to something, sir. Bitches, in fact, are crazy. All of them, even the ones on our side. They are just a bit less crazy.”
GOP Strat: “Yes, yes, yes Thomas. Everyone knows that bitches be crazy. But that doesn’t help us. We need ideas. Even our female candidates are losing the chick vote.”
GOP Ad E2: “Duh.”
GOP Ad E1: “Seriously sir, of course they are. Everyone knows that women hate other women and never want to see them succeed. It’s why Hillary will never be President; all women love to knock other women down a peg or two. Its in their genes.”
GOP Strat: “Okay. So there is nothing we can do in those races. What about the ones we have men running in. What can we do? Frank, you look like you have an idea…”
GOP Ad E1: “It is brilliant, sir. So we know that the only reason Obama won the chick vote is because he’s a smooth talking rich guy who also taps into female desire. Women know he is rich enough to take care of them, and while his I.Q. would normally be a turn off, he’s half black so he still has that animal side, that danger side….”
GOP Ad E2: “What Frank is trying to say, sir, is that chicks voted for Obama cause he gives them all the positives of a white guy, while still swinging 12.”
GOP Strat: “I think I see where you are going. So we make an ad that implies Obama is a shitty boyfriend. That he leaves the toilet seat up, goes to sleep 10 seconds after sex, spends all his time drinking with his friends, and all that kind of shit. Should we try to compare him to Ray Rice while we’re at it?”
Both GOP Ad Execs together: “NO!”
GOP Ad E2: “For fucks sake sir, what are you trying to do, have the Democrats win every race? Compare Obama to Rice and the Dems take the House.”
GOP Strat: “I am confused. Why would comparing Obama to a domestic abuser get the democrats votes?”
GOP Ad E1: “Bitches be crazy.”
GOP Ad E2: “They love that shit. Especially from a black man. It adds to the sense of danger and shows them that their man isn’t a pussy.”
GOP Ad E1: “But the rest of your idea is good. We’ll paint him as a horrible boyfriend, a guy any chick would be dying to get away from. We will capitalize on the Ray Rice thing though, we can throw in a line about how Obama would have just stood there and took all that shit from Janay.”
GOP Ad E2: “No, scrap that part. We can’t be sure it won’t backfire. After all, “
All three, at once: “Bitches be crazy.”
GOP Strat: “Hey, make sure the bimbo in the ad can pass for a spicy latina minx. We’re losing the Hispanic vote as well.”
However the strategy session actually went, Salon has the story on the ad campaign that resulted:
Republicans are relieved that so far, there’s no Todd Akin in the 2014 election cycle. Yet even without a clueless GOP candidate blathering about “legitimate rape,” the party still trails Democrats among women voters, even in races that feature female GOP candidates, and it could cost them a chance to take back the Senate. So Americans for Shared Prosperity is riding to the rescue with an ad so condescending to women it might have been made by Todd Akin. It rivals that “Creepy Uncle Sam” ad that backfired on the Koch brothers’ Generation Opportunity.
In the 60-second spot, which ran on the Sunday shows as well as reportedly in Colorado and North Carolina, a lovely, latte-skinned young woman in a pink shirt and pearls is sitting on her white sofa, complaining about a man she met online: “In 2008, I fell in love. His online profile made him seem so perfect. Smart, handsome, charming, articulate.” We see her MacBook screen, and there he is: the cad she calls “Barack,” President Obama.
Yes, admaker Rick Wilson and Americans for Shared Prosperity believe the way to convince women to vote for Republicans is to compare the president to a bad boyfriend. Obviously they think we’re idiots who put romance before reason, even in politics.
Naturally it diminishes Obama, too: Our first black president is just another pair of pants, a smooth-talking liar who let us down. But hell, he is kind of cute, which is obviously why he won the women’s vote over John McCain and Mitt Romney.
Oh, and he’s also “articulate.”
The ad is clearly targeting the most loyal Democratic constituency: College-educated and unmarried women voters who may or may not be white. (Barack’s soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend could be Latina.) Creepily, the language makes it sound like not merely an unhappy relationship but an abusive one. He’s spying on her emails and text messages — an NSA reference, I guess – and she only “stuck with him because he promised he’d be better.”
But don’t worry: They try to get some politics in there, too. “He thinks the only thing I care about is free birth control, but he won’t even let me keep my own doctor,” the fed-up woman tells us.
The ad is linked to in that quote. Watch it, sigh, and wonder what happened to our political system. A bit of commentary from Salon:
Maybe the worst thing about the ad is that its sponsors are utterly clueless about how demeaning it is. John Jordan, the wealthy California winery owner who runs Americans for Shared Prosperity, told Politico that the group’s goal is “to communicate with women voters in a way that outside groups and campaigns haven’t.” Well, they’ve certainly accomplished that. But then he went on. “The purpose of this is to treat women voters more like adults than either Democrats or Republicans have.”
If this is what they come up with when they’re treating us “more like adults” – I guess Jordan didn’t actually say “like adults” – imagine what they’d do if they were treating us like children?
While not every woman (or man) will find the ad insulting, I agree with Salon’s Joan Walsh’s suggestion for the worst thing about the ad. I can see this ad being suggested. I can even see a small group thinking it was a good idea, even if that group included a woman. But at some point, someone had to realize a large portion of the exact group they are trying to win with the ad, intelligent, moderate, single women, would find the ad demeaning and insulting, with its tactic of using “girl stuff” like relationship issues rather than just talking to the audience like they are politically interested, intelligent, moderate single women. So either the people responsible for creating an ad campaign targeting moderate single women is so out of touch with their intended audience that they didn’t realize a portion of them would be immediately turned off by the ad, or they simply didn’t care that their ad would offend a portion of the very audience they are trying to reach.
I’m not sure which would be worse.
Perhaps the GOP will realize someday soon that the way to win women voters is by supporting policies that women agree with. When you are against the Violence Against Women Act, against any legislation dealing with the depressingly still with us problem of income inequality between the sexes, so against abortion that you have traveled into the realm of valuing the life of the fetus far more than the life of the mother, while double-talking enough about birth control that people are starting to actually worry that the GOP would try to ban contraception if they ever had both the Presidency and the Congress, it is going to take far more than an ad campaign, any ad campaign, to tilt the scales enough to matter.
Try backing away from the more misogynistic elements of your base, while telling the fading members of the “contraception is holding an aspirin between your knees” generation that time has passed them by, and they should keep quiet for the good of the party. Advance policies that actually benefit women, or that are at least not openly antagonistic to a majority of the population, and your results will dwarf any ad campaign. Especially one as insulting as this.
After that we can start dealing with your problems with…..well, everyone who isn’t an angry white male.
First of all, all apologies for the lack of posts this week. I had a family emergency Sunday morning and my mom ended up in the ICU for the week. While it was really scary on Sunday, all danger had passed by Monday evening, and she should be coming home tomorrow. In addition to the general chaos that comes with a medical emergency, I also ended up hosting my one older sister for the week when she flew up from Florida to be close to the hospital and our mother. Needless to say, I wasn’t able to find time to blog this week. With her coming home this weekend, hopefully I can return to the thrice weekly update schedule I was working on recently.
With that out of the way, I wanted to share the story of my trip home from the hospital today. Bad timing on my part meant that I was traveling past the Altoona Area High School right at dismissal time, which meant crossing guards, a 15 mph speed limit that is 10 mph overly optimistic for the actual driving conditions, and a metric ton of students trying to get the fuck away from the school, by any means necessary. Today however, my drive past the school had an extra special treat: (Come with me, pictures after the jump!)
Taking my cue from Elisabeth Hasselbeck (although to be fair, she does seem to share this ability with just about every other Fox “News” personality) and her seemingly amazing ability to turn practically any topic into a discussion about the manufactured scandal Benghazi, I have decided to join the extremely loud scandal mongers by changing the focus of Foster Disbelief itself. Before we get to that though, let us first watch the master in action, as she attempts to capitalize on the NFL’s unsurprising domestic violence debacle and turn the focus where it belongs, back on that place she insists we should be outraged over (outraged!!!), Benghazi:
“Fox & Friends” host Elisabeth Hasselbeck took to Twitter on Tuesday to compare the controversy over the NFL’s handling of domestic abuse cases and the White House’s handling of the Sept. 11, 2012, terror attack on American facilities in Benghazi, Libya.
“Imagine if everyone that asked for transparency in the #nfl @nfl Demanded that same #transparency in our #government #Benghazi,” Hasselbeck wrote on Twitter.
Fox News has been criticized for what some call an obsession with placing the blame for Benghazi on the Obama administration. According to a study conducted by liberal watchdog group Media Matters, Fox News’ primetime lineup ran 1,098 segments on Benghazi in the first 20 months following the attacks, including 281 segments alleging a “coverup” by the Obama administration.
Fox “News”? Obsessed with pinning blame for something on Obama? Perish the thought! Inconceivable, even. We all know that Fox “News” is just another arm of the liberal media, after all. (By the way, that is an actual statement I heard while listening in to an argument at a local Tea Party event. Yes, I know that it is not a common belief, even for the true lunatic fringe, but I still get a kick out of knowing someone out there actually believes that it is true. Someone who votes.) That being said, one can kind of understand why members of Fox & Friends would want to draw attention elsewhere, after the masterful way their male hosts handled the issue the day TMZ released The Video:
Hasselbeck is not the only “Fox & Friends” host to stir controversy while weighing in on the NFL’s domestic abuse problem.
Last week, her co-hosts, Brian Kilmeade and Steve Doocy, joked about a lesson to be learned from the video showing Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking his then-fiancee unconscious in an elevator.
“I think the message is, take the stairs,” Kilmeade said during a discussion of the video.
“The message is, when you’re in an elevator, there are cameras,” co-host Steve Doocy added.
I have to admit that if I was unlucky enough to find myself on camera with them while they made those comments, I may have yelled “Benghazi!!!” as well. Anything so those words wouldn’t stick in people’s memory. Of course, this being Fox & Friends, those comments, no matter how offensive most of us may find them, more than likely drew laughs, guffaws, chuckles, high fives, and cries of “right on, ain’t no camera in the stairs.”
Now that I have seen the light, thanks to Elisabeth Hasselbeck, you may be noticing some changes around here. While the URL will remain the same for convenience, the name of the blog will be changing to Foster Benghazi. Rather than spending time writing about religious fundamentalists, science denial, and meaningless issues such as a woman’s right to control of her own body, marriage equality, and an end to racism, sexism, misogyny, rape culture, homophobia, and forced observance of other people’s religious beliefs, I will now be dedicating the space to nothing but stories about Benghazi. Do not think that means you won’t find variety, however, here at Foster Benghazi. Nothing could be further from the truth. You’ll see stories trying to convince you that Benghazi is a scandal, that it is a scandal worth paying attention to, that the blame for the scandal is completely Obama’s, that the Obama administration conspired with rock creatures from the center of the Earth, and the known terrorist sympathizer race of Rodent Hominids from the Moon to hide the truth about Benghazi from the American public, that Obama himself ordered the killing of the four Americans at Benghazi, that Hillary Clinton pulled the trigger that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens at Benghazi,
and that Fox “News” and the conservative media have desperately tried to create a scandal out of Benghazi so that the GOP can reap political good fortune and turn four dead American citizens into votes on election day, thereby allowing them to sweep into power, stock the Supreme Court with Constitution raping judges, outlaw abortion and birth control, and pass huge tax cuts for the richest Americans, creating enough kick backs that every member of the GOP establishment (not the voters though. They get fleeced with the rest of them) can retire and move to a tropical island nation where brown skinned natives wear white gloves and full suits while serving them on the sun soaked beaches. Whoa, got a little out of control there. Did I mention Benghazi?
For a taste of whats to come, here it the first new story at Foster Benghazi by your blogger, Foster Benghazi.
6.7 million viewers tuned in for the 2015 Miss America competition Sunday night. Imagine the results if 6.7 million Americans demanded that the Obama administration explain why they killed Americans in Benghazi?(Get the idea yet?) The LA Times reports that there were 303,900 tweets about the pageant. Imagine the response if 303,900 tweets were posted demanding that Vice President Biden explain exactly why he personally beheaded 2 of the 4 Americans sacrificed to Allah during the false flag operation at Benghazi. (Okay, I am getting the hang of this.) For that matter, what is The LA Times doing reporting about something as insignificant as the Miss America competition when they could be devoting 110% of their resources to getting to the bottom of the real reason Hillary Clinton ordered the assassination of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, a move that ended the lives of three other Americans at Benghazi, and finally reveal that it was indeed “that time of the month” for Hillary, proving once again that a woman in the White House would result in nuclear war every 30 days. And Benghazi! (Almost forgot it that time.)
In less depressing news, while 6.7 million Americans did tune into the Miss America competition, a competition rumored to have been organized by the Obama administration as an attempt to distract the American public from Obama’s criminal actions in Benghazi, 16.5 million viewers tuned in to watch Sunday Night Football. While those 16.5 million should have been writing angry blog posts about the murderer in the White House and his plans to declare himself “Allah’s Chosen Ruler and Official Hitler for Life” the month before the 2016 election, a plan exposed to the public only after a careful examination of the Benghazi incident, there is a possible silver lining to those numbers. An anonymous source, who I quite possibly just made up in my head while typing this sentence, has informed me that 16 million Americans, outraged over the Stalin like actions of Hillary Clinton in Benghazi where she helped the Obama administration slaughter a rumored 3 million American citizens, with 4 confirmed deaths, only decided to watch Sunday Night Football because they figured their best chance of seeing a woman, standing in for Hillary in their minds, get punched in the face was by watching the NFL. Rather than watching football on the off chance a domestic battery breaks out, those 16 million should march on Washington and demand their God given right to punch Hillary in the face for her treasonous actions in (say it with me now) Benghazi.
I hope you enjoyed that taste of the new Foster Benghazi. I will return tomorrow with more hard hitting coverage of the biggest scandal our galaxy has ever experienced, the story some people are saying “makes Watergate look like lying about a blow job, the story sure to bring down not only the Obama administration, but the entire communist-Nazi-Muslim soaked Demon-cratic Party, Benghazi. Until then, this is Foster Benghazi signing off.
To turn off the satire for a second here, the worst thing (or one of the worst things) about this obsession over Benghazi on the right is the cover it provides Obama on real issues that actually should be scandalous. As surprising as it may sound to you, especially since I covered both the 2008 and the 2012 elections while endorsing and promoting Obama, and volunteering for both campaigns, I have one thing in common with many members of the GOP’s congressional membership; I want Obama to be impeached.
After that though, the differences are legion. While the Republicans want him impeached just so they can say they impeached him, and if they had the votes would push through an impeachment for something akin to lying about oral sex and debating the meaning of the word “is,” I want him impeached for the way he and his administration have routinely wiped their ass with the Constitution when it comes to secrecy, executive power, and the ability to detain indefinitely if not just outright execute American citizens. Mr. President, you lied to me and the rest of the American people when you said you would be different than Mr. Bush on these issues. You fooled me the first time, I am ashamed to admit. The second time you got my vote because the thought of the current GOP in power scares me into a panic attack. You got my votes because the system is broken. Obama is a center right politician who leans into wingnut territory when it comes to executive power and a few other issues, who can take practically any stance on any issue he feels like taking, and make any campaign promise that benefits him without any need to honor said promise, because the other party, in our brilliant 2 party system, has legitimate national candidates suggesting things such as letting the uninsured die outside the emergency room if they don’t have the money to pay, poking bears, poking Iran, poking both bears and Iran, starting more wars by fiat, banning contraception, declaring the USA a Christian Nation, and increasing the rate of capital punishment just as we start to learn how easy it is for an innocent man to end up on death row. Obama could sacrifice a baby on national tv during a special telecast that he forces HBO to air during the season 5 premier of Game of Thrones and I would shrug and say, “Well, he’s still better than Santorum.” How broken is the system? That last sentence is my response to that question.
Of course, no one will ever hold Obama accountable for using the Constitution and the Bill of Rights as his own personal cum towel. The GOP would love to impeach him, but they can’t go after him for actual legitimate impeachable offenses, because then they would have to admit George W. Bush committed the same crimes against the people as Obama. The Democrats have no reason to impeach him because they are creatures of the system like our President. As much as the Constitution is rallied around these days, it is such a depressing minority that have a problem with the executive branch deciding that whole “checks and balances” thing the founders came up with is a bit too outdated for the War on Terrorism age. And you Obama apologists out there may tsk at me, and say things like “Now Foster, Obama realizes the amount of power he has been given to deal with terrorism, but he has pledged, pledged!, not to use that power unjustly.” And even if I believed a thing he said after two campaigns worth of ignored promises (and I am not talking about promises he made that the GOP has blocked him on either, just promises that he has broken himself), even if I trusted him with, say, the power to indefinitely detain American citizens, I sure as hell wouldn’t trust a President Santorum, President Romney, President Ryan, President McCain, President Christie, President Perry, President Jindal, or hell, a President H.R. Clinton to honor that promise either.
Have ya heard about Benghazi?
(Edited to deal with a Wall of Text)