The ignorant bliss lived in by many bigots never ceases to amaze me. Starting a comment with the words “I’m not racist, but…” has zero chance of fooling anyone other than the person speaking. The same can be said for the classic “some of my best friends are <fill in the minority>.” While most people who use either phrase do so because outright bigotry is no longer acceptable in modern society, I have run into some who honestly believe it. Cognitive dissonance has taken hold, and they truly believe they are not racist/sexist/homophobic. When called out for their bigotry, they will argue never-ending that they are innocent of the charge. Many will even get offended of the accusation. Take this letter to Dear Abby from today’s paper: (Italics are mine as always.)
Dear Abby: My husband and I relocated to Florida a little over a year ago and were quickly welcomed into our new neighbors’ social whirl. Two couples in the neighborhood are gay. While they are nice enough, my husband and I did not include them when it was our turn to host because we do not approve of their lifestyle choices. Since then, we have been excluded from neighborhood gatherings, and someone even suggested that we are bigots!
Abby, we moved here from a conservative community where people were pretty much the same. If people were “different,” they apparently kept it to themselves. While I understand the phrase “when in Rome,” I don’t feel we should have to compromise our values just to win the approval of our neighbors. But really, who is the true bigot here? Would you like to weigh in? — Unhappy In Tampa
And this is what I mean when I bring up cognitive dissonance. This letter writer has not only cleared herself of any wrong doing in the incident, she has gone so far as to turn the situation around and suggest that the “true bigots” in this case are her new neighbors. Really?
Her and her husband move into the neighborhood. They are immediately welcomed with open arms into the neighborhood social circle. When it comes time for them to host the gathering, they invite the entire social circle, except the two homosexual couples. The reason for the exception is immediately obvious, not just to the two couples who have been excluded, but to everyone else in the neighborhood as well. Sorry, you can not pretend it is a coincidence that you invite everyone but the homosexuals. Then after they had shown their true feelings to the rest of the neighborhood, they get their feelings hurt when the other neighbors start excluding them from the social gatherings.
The writer makes the statement that she doesn’t feel that they should have to compromise their values to win the approval of their neighbors. And she does have a point. Her and her husband are not being forced to “compromise” their values. They are free to live in their house and be just as homophobic as they so desire. Of course, that viewpoint is not going to score her any points in this neighborhood.
How the fuck did she expect the other neighbors to react? Her and her mate were welcomed into the social circle with open arms. They attended neighborhood gatherings and knew that not only were two of the couples homosexual couples, but the homosexual couples were included in the neighborhood gatherings, probably because none of the other neighbors give two shits if they are homosexual or not. When it came time for her and her husband to host a gathering, they had multiple options. They could have said they weren’t comfortable hosting the gathering. They could have invited everyone in the neighborhood and just dealt with it. After all, they were already socializing with these evil homosexuals at other gatherings. No one was asking them to get gay married. Just to welcome them into their home. The same courtesy shown to them by all of their neighbors. Instead they decided to highlight their bigotry by hosting the gathering without the sinful homosexuals.
Honestly? I would have loved to have been at this party, if just to see how they explained the absence of the two homosexual couples to the rest of their neighbors. I mean, these are neighborhood gatherings. I am sure it was noticed that they were not in attendance, and I am sure someone brought it up innocently. “So, couldn’t Alan and Ted make it tonight?” “Oh, I thought for sure Beth and Sue would be here tonight, they haven’t missed one of these in years.” Did they lie? Try to pretend that they were invited and just didn’t show up? Something tells me, from the letter writers tone, that she was quite honest with the answer. “Oh, we didn’t invite them. We don’t want to get AIDS on our drapes, we just had them cleaned. Also, we have a dog, and I didn’t want to have to keep an eye on her around those faggots all night. You know how they will fuck anything.”
An exercise I suggest for the letter writer would be to rewrite her letter exactly except replace the word “gay” with any other minority and read it back to herself. Such as:
Two couples in the neighborhood are
gayblack. While they are nice enough, my husband and I did not include them when it was our turn to host
Two couples in the neighborhood are
gayHispanic. While they are nice enough, my husband and I did not include them when it was our turn to host
Two couples in the neighborhood are
gayinterracial. While they are nice enough, my husband and I did not include them when it was our turn to host
Then she can ask herself the questions she asked Abby. Perhaps she will even realize that if the only backlash her and her husband receive is being excluded from social events and “suggestions” that they may be bigots, she should consider herself lucky. I personally would have called her a homophobic bigot to her face before leaving her gathering the instant I found out why the other couples were not there. No suggestions needed.
Oh, Abby does respond, and calls the letter writer out for her bigotry. You can read it at the above link. Unfortunately, it wasn’t close to the previous Abby’s classic “You could move?” retort. In fact, I think I will close up with that letter, for those of you who don’t know how ahead of her time the original Abby actually was:
About four months ago, the house across the street was sold to a “father and son”—or so we thought.
We later learned it was an older man about 50 and a young fellow about 24.
This was a respectable neighborhood before this “odd couple” moved in. They have all sorts of strange-looking company. Men who look like women, women who look like men, blacks, whites, Indians. Yesterday I even saw two nuns go in there! They must be running some sort of business, or a club. There are motorcycles, expensive sports cars and even bicycles parked in front and on the lawn. They keep their shades drawn so you can’t see what’s going on inside but they must be up to no good, or why the secrecy?
We called the police department and they asked if we wanted to press charges! they said unless the neighbors were breaking some law there was nothing they could do.
Abby, these weirdos are wrecking our property values! How can we improve the quality of this once-respectable neighborhood?
Up in Arms
Dear UP: You could move.
In what is good news for all, excepting those who make up the so-called “pro-life” movement, the nations abortion rate dropped significantly between 2008 and 2013, according to a new report the Guttmacher Institute released. Let’s turn to our favorite advocate for women’s rights to health care, Amanda Marcotte over at RH Reality Check for the details:
Last Monday, the Guttmacher Institute released a new report showing the abortion rate dropped 13 percent between 2008 and 2011. This news was no big surprise to pro-choice activists and journalists, who have long argued that increasing social acceptance of contraception and generally relaxed attitudes about sex generally make it easier to prevent unintended pregnancy. But anti-choicers are unhappy about the abortion rate drop. (Which is again no surprise to pro-choicers, who know antis depend on the sense of a world in decline to fundraise, but may surprise most people who mistakenly believe anti-choicers care about fetal life.) In particular, they don’t like the researcher’s inference that better contraception use is the likely cause, because, say it with me now, the anti-choice movement is about punishing sex, not saving life. So the strategy is to deny that contraception has anything to do with it and instead take credit for shaming women out of abortion.
“Punishing sex, not saving life…” Where have I heard that before? No matter.
Charmaine Yoest of Americans United for Life, in particular, was all over the news media, trying to get credit for it, grumpily claiming that the Guttmacher report “fails to acknowledge the impact of pro-life legislation.” (She also insinuated elsewhere that abortion providers are just straight up lying and performing more abortions than they say.) Since the numbers can’t be attributable to the massive uptick in abortion restrictions—most of these went into effect after the end of the study period—the narrative has emerged that the increased lobbying by anti-choicers somehow alerted women previously unaware that some people disapprove of abortion to instead carry otherwise unwanted pregnancies to term. Catholic News Agency gathered a bunch of anti-choicers together to take credit for changing the “culture.” They quote Michael New attributing the shift to “changes in public opinion” on abortion. SBA List’s Marjorie Dannenfelser also tried to credit the rise in lobbying on the issue with, “our nation is indeed growing weary of the destruction wrought by legalized abortion on demand.”
Oh, fucking please.
Bluntly put, this is all just hand-waving nonsense. Public opinion on abortion has remained relatively stable since it was first legalized and the small bits of up-and-down movement don’t really correlate with actual abortion rates. More importantly, the argument only works if you ignore the fact that not having an abortion means you will have a baby. It’s not uncommon for anti-choicers to gloss over this fact, as bizarre as this is, but this case is particularly egregious. This is simple enough for a kindergartner to figure out: If the abortion rate was falling because women were choosing to have babies instead, the birth rate would go up right as the abortion rate went down. But the writer Adelaide Mena admits in the piece that the birth rate is going down too. What do they think is happening here? Women who want abortions but refuse them are thanked by God by making their pregnancies go away? Do they think we’re undergoing a sudden downturn in fertility? It’s kind of hard to parse, since they outright refuse to accept that contraceptive use is as universal as it really is. Honestly, I think they just hope gullible readers overlook the discrepancy.
But no amount of hand-waving can fix this for the anti-choice movement. There is no real evidence that stigmatizing and shaming abortion stops women from having abortions. The most that it does is makes them feel really bad about it—which I have to imagine is a consolation prize for antis—and to drive it underground. Shame doesn’t stop women from having abortions, however. Women have abortions for financial and personal reasons, and these reasons are usually profound enough to overwhelm any pre-existing distaste for abortion pounded into your head by religious authorities and misogynist political movements. Abortion is a deeply personal decision. What politicians think about it, therefore, just doesn’t even register for most women who are faced with it.
Women do not decide not to have an abortion because you think abortion is a sin. Sorry, they just don’t.
I would love to just continue quoting the whole article, but then you would have no reason to click over to RH Reality Check, give them some traffic, and perhaps seeing a few more articles you are interested. Amanda’s closing however, I have to end with as well, although the bolding is mine:
The whole premise of the anti-choice movement is that getting pregnant should be the price you pay for having sex. It’s an entire ideological movement that mourns, as conservative New York Times columnist Ross Douthat grossly puts it, a society where “sex has been decoupled from marriage.” The abortion debate is really a stand-in for the unintended pregnancy debate. Anti-choicers see unintended pregnancy largely as a social good that forces some people to get married and punishes other people for the “sin” of having unsanctioned sex. It’s a form of social control, and conservatives love themselves some social control. Pro-choicers, on the other hand, view it through a human rights lens. We think women should be in control of pregnancy, not that pregnancy should be used to control women. Once you understand that, how it can be that anti-abortion people are discombobulated by a lower abortion rate and pro-choice people are excited about it makes perfect sense.
Here is a French short film that reverses the roles of men and women. It is worth 10 minutes of your time. Thanks to RH Reality Check for highlighting it.
After Bill “The Science Guy” Nye’s debate with Ken “The Bible is All the Science I Need” Ham, Sean McElwee wrote a piece for the Salon that, while also taking a cheap shot at so-called “New Atheists”, made the claim that Young Earth Creationism is not a religious belief.
In a much-hyped event live-streamed last night, “Science Guy” Bill Nye set out to defend evolution in a debate with Ken Ham, the CEO of Kentucky’s Creation Museum. But there was a fundamental problem: Ham’s young-earth creationism is not a religious belief, and it certainly is not scientific. To put it bluntly, it is quackery.
While I have no argument with McElwee that YEC is quackery, claiming that it is not a religious belief is laughable. I honestly do not even believe McElwee believes it, but it fits his pro-religion stance better if he can claim it is not a religious belief.
This is a common tactic of religious apologists. Anything good and moral is due to religious beliefs, anything bad or immoral is due to either a persons base instincts or incorrect interpretations of religious doctrine. Helping the homeless? Religion. Suicide bombings? Incorrect interpretation. Feeding the hungry? Religion. Hating homosexuals? Misreadings of the Bible. You can only follow this path so far. You can argue that you can be a practicing Christian while accepting homosexuals as moral members of society. You can not argue that Leviticus 20:13* is neutral on the issue.
I would challenge those with this opinion to produce a believer in YEC who does not believe for a religious reason, but in all actuality, it doesn’t matter if they can or not. The only reason the vast majority of YEC’s believe in it is due to their religious beliefs. Michael Luciano takes on McElwee’s argument, also at the Salon:
While creationism is certainly quackery, I take issue with the idea that it is not a religious belief. Creationism is a religious belief by definition. It is the idea that god created the universe and animals in their current form less than 10,000 years ago. This may not be McElwee’s belief, but it is certainly the belief of Ham and millions of other Christians. If McElwee truly believes that young earth creationism is not a religious belief, I challenge him to produce a scientist who rejects the creation account in Genesis, but is nonetheless a young earth creationist.
The accomodationist tendency to insist that manifestations of religion that they dislike aren’t actually religious in nature is both wrong and dangerous. Accomodationists want us to believe that religious people who are morally upstanding are that way because of their religion. Yet at the same time, they take great pains to explain that those religious people who do harm actually do so for reasons other than their faith, or because they fundamentally misinterpret the underpinnings of their religion.
The only thing being misinterpreted here is the essential nature of religion. Humans can be irrational enough without adding highly subjective doctrines and moral codes into the mix. As the physicist Steven Weinberg once said of religion, “With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”
You can’t religion when you like the result, and deny it when you don’t. When you take religion, you have to take the condemnation of non-believers into the lake of fire along with the blessed are the meek’s.
*The text of Leviticus 20:13, NIV:
13 “‘If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”
In discussions with anti-choice activists, one thing that never fails to shock and confuse me is their views of sexual education and contraception. While abortion is the main target of their attacks, in recent years attacks on contraception has become more acceptable as well, perhaps fueled by the coverage mandates of the Affordable Care Act. More than anything else, attacks on contraception, and education as well, expose the lie told by those on the anti-choice side: that they are fighting against abortion.
While some groups on the right try to paint Planned Parenthood and other abortion rights supporters as gleeful fetus eradicators, hell bent on insuring multiple abortions for every woman, the reality of the situation is that no one is a fan of abortion. Sexual health workers and women’s rights activists both want a world where abortion is safe, legal, and exceedingly rare, and they try to bring this world about by concentrating on proven methods to reduce abortion. To reduce abortion, you must reduce unwanted pregnancy. To reduce unwanted pregnancy, you work to insure everyone has adequate sexual education as well as access to contraception.
For many on the anti-choice side, this is not an acceptable option, because for them it isn’t about abortion at all. Abortion is nothing more than a divisive face they can put on the larger issue, which is the sexual immorality of women. Sure, they want to stop abortion. But they also want to stop women from having the ability to remove pregnancy from the list of consequences of premarital sexual relations. If it was truly just about abortion, they would be right there with us, insisting on education and access to contraception.
In a perfect world, people would wait until adulthood to become sexually active. They would use contraception when they did decide to become sexually active, and they would use it correctly. As I am sure everyone realizes, this is not that world. Teens, awash in a tsunami of hormones, have always had sex. Access to contraception is not universal. Teens who had the misfortune to receive an “abstinence only” education program, a policy supported by many on the so-called “pro-life” side, may believe that certain forms of contraception do not even work.
The law allows teenagers access to Plan B contraception in the event of unprotected sexual contact, a law fought against by many on the anti-abortion side. But the law does not mandate the drug be stocked in pharmacies. And in spite of the law, pharmacists, buoyed by anti-choice activists pressing religious belief exemptions, may feel it is their right to impose their morality on those they deem sinners.
Circle Saturday, May 10th on your calendar if, like me, LGBT rights and equality are important to you. That Saturday is the final day of the 2014 NFL draft and by the end of the draft, unless bigotry scores an amazing win, Michael Sam will be the first openly gay individual drafted by a NFL team.
I admit to being pleasantly surprised at this story. After Jason Collins opened the door last year, becoming the first openly gay player in a major North American team sport, I fully expected others to join him. What I did not expect was a college athlete, a football player no less, to be the one to walk out the opened door. American football is a testosterone soaked homage to masculinity. Tolerance and equality are on an unstoppable march in our society, and eventually no one except the most deranged religious homophobe will care what an athletes sexual orientation. This day can not come soon enough for me. Today, however, at the dawn of acceptance in sports, I expected the next pioneers to bravely stand up for who they are to be baseball or basketball players, or perhaps even ice hockey players, eh. No matter the sport, one thing I expected for sure was that the athlete would already be established.
And more so than the sport, that is the fact that surprises me the most, and the fact that exponentially increases his bravery in my eyes. Even five years ago, Sam’s actions would have been career suicide. He doesn’t have the money from a few contracts already in the bank. He isn’t in the twilight of his career making a statement while he still can. Michael Sam is a prospect. His future will be decided in part on the 8th, 9th, and 10th of May when the NFL draft takes place. The teams could just not draft him. No one could ever prove why he wasn’t drafted.
Michael Sam coming out is a brave step, and he will be seen as a litmus test by other closeted athletes in all sports. If he falls from his projected spot in the draft, fair or not, his sexual identity will be seen as the cause of the drop. If bigotry wins the day and he goes undrafted, how long will it be before another player is willing to risk his career? On the other hand, if his sexual identity doesn’t cost him draft slots, this could open the flood gates, freeing countless athletes to be true to their identity. Former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe agrees:
In a Monday interview, Kluwe predicted that Sam’s fate come draft time would be an “important litmus test” for closeted athletes considering coming out, and that a disappointing pick would “tell us a lot about how the NFL is currently viewing the world.”
Also in the interview, Kluwe states that the players won’t be the problem, rather the problem will be with the guys running the team.
“I told him that by and large, the players wouldn’t be a problem,” Kluwe told Salon, but that the “older white men” who own and run the teams would be a different story.
While Chris Kluwe has the experience of being a part of an NFL locker room, I hope his view on the bigotry of players versus management is not colored by his own personal situation. Two football players from the CFL, Canada’s professional football league, have been disciplined for their own homophobic comments towards Sam. Anyone want to wager if religion is involved?
“YOW!!!!! Mr/MSam you scared to rub on titties and ass and coochie you gaey, Man up and do some MFN push UPS and get on your knees and submit to God fully. Come out of her: Americas Trap….Lil homie don’t go thru with it it’s a trap bruh,
Those are the words of one Arland Bruce. I am not quite sure what this trap happens to be, or the logic of talking about “titties” and “coochie” while trying to convince someone to drop to their knees and give
Jesus a sloppy hummer themselves over to Jesus. While most NFL players will more than likely be wise enough to keep any personal homophobia out of the media, it is anyone’s guess what the locker room reality will be like.
Of course outside of professional sports, the usual suspects kn0w ratings gold when they see it, and after years of building a following with bigotry and hate, they were not about to let this one pass without comment. It was, after all, an “assault” on heterosexuals.
Rush Limbaugh has a lot of thoughts about Michael Sam’s decision to almost certainly become the first openly gay player in the history of the NFL. These thoughts may not be coherent, and in truth it may be a bit of a stretch to describe them as “thoughts” rather than “primeval spasms of confusion, resentment and fear” — but he has them nonetheless!
Speaking on his radio show on Tuesday, the right-wing’s favorite pundit responded to Sam’s coming out by saying, “Heterosexuality has no political agenda and there is no agenda attached to it.” He continued: “Heterosexuality does not have activists.”
And then he continued some more: “[Heterosexuals] may be 95, 98 percent of the population — they’re under assault by the 2-5 percent that are homosexual.”
What this has to do with Sam is not clear, although the inference listeners are supposed to make appears to be that Sam’s coming out was evidence of his “political agenda” or — worse still! — proof that he was being manipulated by “activists” who are placing heterosexuals “under assault.”
Wait, what? If Rush had any credibility to stretch, I’d say he was stretching his credibility. Being Rush however, all I can do is draw attention to how frightening it is that so many people listen to him.
No matter your view on sports, if you care about equality, this years NFL draft is an event worth following.
Which is more than likely as close to a rape joke as I will ever come.
While I am not sure if I have discussed it here before, I am pro-porn feminist. I am not going to get involved in the discussion right now, I just wanted to point that out since I am about to do a little dance over the misfortune of a “pornographer.” If you are interested in feminist porn, or wonder what it even is, may I suggest you look into Tristan Taormino. (Here is her wiki page, and here is her website Pucker Up, which is I believe is NSFW but the link is to a SFW cover page that is a decent overview of who she is.) Of course, this is all consensual, non-exploitative stuff. Educate yourself. Support the good stuff. Put the bad stuff out of business. With that out of the way…..
The likely majority of teens and young adults, now that teens, in the words of Dan Savage, carry around mobile porn production studios wherever they go, who have given their significant other naked pictures only to see the relationship run its course and come to an end can sleep at least a little bit better tonight. One of the biggest names in “revenge porn,” that non-consensual misogynistic genre made up largely of pictures sent in by jilted lovers of their exes, pictures that were never intended for public consumption, has been indicted on federal charges. *dance*
From the Salon:
The proprietor of the “revenge porn” website Is Anyone Up has been indicted on federal charges of “conspiracy, seven counts of unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information and seven counts of aggravated identity theft,” according to an indictment announced Thursday by an official at the United States Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.
As Time reports, Hunter Moore was indicted in addition to a man named Charles “Gary” Evens, who Moore paid to break into the email accounts of victims and steal nude photos to post to his website against his victims’ will.
“We’re ecstatic,” said anti-revenge porn activist Charlotte Laws, whose daughter is one of the victims listed in the indictment. “We’re super pleased that the FBI have brought this to fruition. I’ve talked to several of the victims and they are extremely pleased and I know all the victims are going to feel happy and they are going to feel that finally justice is being served.”
More on the case here.
That article is by Katie McDonough, and since I just realized I quoted the whole piece, go give the Salon a click of traffic in celebration.
This of course only leaves one question: Once he is inside, how long til someone tells him he has a “pretty mouth?”
Funny. For some reason I don’t feel bad making prison rape jokes about this scum. Oh, well.
At this point, it almost seems pathological. It is like they can’t even help themselves. Here is Mike Huckabee making a political statement about Obamacare, quoted from the LA Times:
Speaking at the Republican National Committee’s meeting in Washington, the former Arkansas governor and Fox commentator teed off on Democrats who, he said, “think that women are nothing more than helpless and hopeless creatures whose only goal in life is to have the government provide for them birth control medication. Women I know are smart, educated, intelligent, capable of doing anything anyone else can do. Our party stands for the recognition of the equality of women and the capacity of women — that’s not a war on them, that’s a war for them.”
And if he just would have left it there, the story would end. People who share my viewpoint would roll our eyes, he would score some points with the Republican base, and he would keep his name in the papers with a throw away line that no one would remember next week. But this is Mike Huckabee, proud warrior in the GOP War on Women That Doesn’t Really Exist Because We Keep Saying It Doesn’t Exist, So There! Where is the condescending paternalistic casual misogyny? Wait! What?!
Oh, there it is!
“And if the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it — let us take that discussion all across America,” he said.
I was almost disappointed with ya, Mikey.
If you are keeping score at home, add inability to keep their panties on without government assistance to the long list of supposed superpowers the GOP believes women possess. I have it right below “magic uterus’s that can shut down pregnancy if the rape is ‘legitimate’” on my list. “Uses the government as their sugar daddy to provide them their slut pills” actually sets me on my Misogyny Bingo card, but I am sure it gave someone a bingo. Probably The Wonkette
First, can we point out that “Uncle Sugar” is gross, and you are basically saying women are being molested by their creepy uncle, and also they are gold-digging “sugarbabies” or “whores” if they disagree with you on the value of government programs in American life? Mike Huckabee, that’s on the verge of being rather rude!
Second, women who need a prescription each month for birth control may indeed not be able to “control their libido.” Fuck, buncha hot-ass nymphos out there just cold screwing every sad alcoholic under a bridge they can find, because they cannot. Stop. Fucking! And we say, GURRRRL, GET IT! FUCK THAT SAD OLD BRIDGE MAN! Spread the love!
Or they may be married women (the minute 77 percent of married women of childbearing age who use contraception, of course) practicing responsible family planning. You know, that thing where families only have children they can afford. We see a lot of comment from the right about “personal responsibility” and “welfare queens” (and lately “golddiggers”) when women don’t practice responsible family planning, or have the nerve to get a divorce after having responsibly born their children in wedlock. It is almost as if they would like to have it both ways!
It seems that Noah Lugeons from The Scathing Atheist podcast and I have yet another thing in common. For this weeks episode of the Cognitive Dissonance podcast, Noah joined Tom and Cecil to provide the hosts with a Tarot card reading. Yes, it seems that a long time ago, in a galaxy that just possibly could be ours, Noah’s trip into the world of woo included Tarot. Oh, look at that. I just cheaply plugged two of my favorite podcasts at the same time. Imagine that.
For those of you who do not know, after my grandmothers death and my mother’s battle with cancer, my mother transformed from a lapsed Catholic into a determined-that-I-would-get-confirmed-practicing Catholic. I was somewhere between 11 and 13 when all of this occurred. Now while my family celebrated Christmas and Easter before this time, and would watch The Greatest Story Ever Told and The Ten Commandments on tv every year, I thankfully missed out on the indoctrination part of childhood. Add this to the fact that my one sister had just gotten married, and converted to Judaism in the process, which I believe caused me to see religious belief as fluid rather than an unchanging, cradle to grave, all encompassing belief system. (I find it endlessly amusing that this sister, who thought nothing of saying “Yeah, ya know that Jesus guy? Definitely not God. Nope, I’m not Catholic anymore, not me.” in order to get married later became hands down the most religious member of my family, which is really saying something if you knew my mother.)