Pro-Life Honesty

From the Altoona Mirror’s Letters to the Editor section comes this surprising bit of honesty from  “pro-life” activist Richard A. Ruth:

Pro-life – what does that mean? It seems to mean a lot of things to a lot of different people.

Some think it means to be concerned for the poor.

Others think it means to do away with the death penalty. Others think it means to be civil with people at all times.

But when anyone active in the pro-life movement, including myself, uses the term, it means one thing, and one thing only, namely, anti-abortion.

We are against murdering a baby in its mother’s womb.

So, if anyone uses the term “pro-life,” but does not mean anti-abortion, please do not use that term, but rather coin your own phrase.

Much of the confusion was caused years ago by a cardinal in Chicago, whose name I am happy to forget. His concept of pro-life included many things, like the spiritual and corporal works of mercy and almost any good deed one can think of. This concept is called “the seamless garment.”

It did much to weaken the pro-life movement and caused much confusion.

Rarely have I seen an anti-abortionist state it so bluntly.  It isn’t about women’s health.  It isn’t about what is best for the child.  It isn’t about the sanctity of human life, it’s about the sanctity of the life of the fetus, nothing more.  After they are born?  Fuck ’em.  Dare suggest that “pro-lifers” care about more than the embryo?  Your name will be gladly forgotten.

Of course, embryos are much easier to care about apparently.  Especially if your world view includes this:

Those who are in sympathy with the poor should research the abuses in the welfare system. One that I am familiar with is this: Women are encouraged to have many children. The more children they have, the more money they get. Often a woman will have three to five children to three to five different fathers.

Ahem.  Citation fucking needed.  Also, wait.  If a few poor people play the system, then fuck ’em all?  What about those that are not abusing the welfare system?  Do they not exist?  Oh, I know, they just need to work harder, is that it?  You know, I understand people who are anti-abortion.  I don’t agree with them, but I understand where they are coming from.  But the above quote?  That’s just ignorance.  And prejudice.  And unless I have the Karl Marx version of the Bible, it’s pretty far from the teachings of Jesus.

If Richard Ruth takes requests, I would love to read his thoughts on #blacklivesmatter.  I’m sure they are well thought out and enlightening.

I have to admit however, that Mr. Ruth defeats me with his closing paragraph.

The Democrats are not concerned whether their clients lose their souls or not. They are more interested in getting their votes and their children’s future votes. The more kids they have the more votes they will eventually get.

Wait, what?!?  If that was true, wouldn’t they be anti-abortion then?  Let me see if I can break it down sentence by sentence and see what I am missing.

The Democrats are not concerned whether their clients lose their souls or not.

Good?  The Democratic party is a political entity, not a religion.  The United States is not a Christian nation.  We do not have a Biblical government.  The Democrats shouldn’t care about their members, voters, or “clients” imaginary ghost spirits anymore than they are concerned if their auras are out of wack or if the feng shui of their homes is out of alignment.  (Do political parties have clients?  Does he think Democratic field offices also provide abortion services?)  Maybe the Republican party would find a more receptive audience for their fiscally conservative platform if they stopped worrying about their “client’s” souls?  Pandering to members of a religion tends to turn off those who are not members of that religion.  As much as the GOP would love to pretend “Christianity” is one monolithic religion, it is really a diverse collection of sects, all with contradictory beliefs.  Some Christians are pro-choice.  Some Christians are for LGBTQ rights.  Wait, they aren’t real Christians?  Maybe you aren’t the real Christian.  How about we just stop trying to force others to follow our religious beliefs?  Just an idea.

They are more interested in getting their votes and their children’s future votes.

That’s a bad thing?  Once again, I would hope a political party cares more about votes than religion.  *shrug*

The more kids they have the more votes they will eventually get.

Nope.  Even sentence by sentence, my head explodes at this point.  Did Mr. Ruth write a different letter raging against the Quiverfull movement and somehow edit them together?  Can someone explain this to me?


While we’re on the subject of Altoona Mirror anti-abortion letters, I give you one from Arnie Calaba:

My question/writing here is “How can we, as one nation under God, our United States, expect to prosper/have blessings when we are destroying our little ones in the womb by abortion?”

1954.  That’s when “one nation under God” was added.  That’s all for now, because that is a nonsensical question, along the lines of “How can we, as one town infested with unicorns, expect to prosper when we insist on locking gnomes into their hovels at night?”

There are so many telling signs of the downward, slippery slope we are on as a nation. Our economy’s $19 trillion deficit and so much bickering and upheaval in Washington, D.C.

Wait.  That’s not “so many.”  That is two.  Both caused by pro-life Republicans, I might add.

How can we stand by and allow Planned Parenthood to sell aborted baby parts (lungs, brains, etc.) for a profit?

Lying is a sin.  If you would have written this letter the day those deceptively edited videos came out, I would give you the benefit of the doubt.  But it is March.  Everyone who cares about the facts knows that those videos were cut to make it appear the Planned Parenthood representatives were saying things that they were not.  All you had to do to prove that fact is watch the uncut videos.  Add to that the investigations launched by various states into Planned Parenthood’s practices, all of which cleared the organization from any wrong-doing.

The Bible doesn’t say “the ends justify the means.”  I’m sorry.  No matter how badly you feel it should, it doesn’t.  Lying is still a sin.

And you are a liar.

How can we remain a United States, one nation under God, if abortion – the destruction of “little ones” in the womb continues?

I’ll give you this Arnie, repeating the nonsensical question you opened with to close is better than whatever the fuck type of closing Mr. Ruth went with.

You’re still a liar.

(Edited to fix two three typos.)

 

 

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Let’s Revisit the Blair County Justice System in Honor of Dawn of Justice.

Long time followers of Foster Disbelief will be familiar with some of the ludicrous prison sentences judges in Blair county dole out to drug dealers.  If not, I’ll wait while you do the required research here and here.

You back?  That was quick.  You must be really intelligent to have a reading speed that high.  I’m quite impressed.

As you learned from your research, I have this strange idea that Blair county judges throw any idea of rehabilitation out the window when a drug dealer, even a non-violent offender, finds himself (or herself, dealing is an equal opportunity employer)in front of the bench while acting like big ol’ softies when deciding a less serious case, you know,  such as the sexual abuse of a child, unwanted sexual assault by an employer, or domestic violence.  I mean, I guess it could just be in my head.  *shrug*  Anyway, on to today’s story.

Remember this guy?

A man’s gun reportedly went off in his pocket in the middle of a church service on Saturday in Altoona, Penn., before he handed the weapon off to someone else who allegedly hid it in the pages of a program.

While unnamed in the linked article, the man in question is one Matthew Andrew Crawford.  Am I bringing up his case just so I can reveal the name to my countless (several, definitely more than a few) readers?  Of course not.  No, it seems that Mr. Crawford enjoys activities other than unsafely carrying a concealed weapon in a house of worship.  You know all those good guys with guns; busy, busy, busy!

 

Records in the Blair County Courthouse show that Crawford in 2015 and 2016 has had PFA orders filed against him by three different women.

His past includes additional PFAs dating back to 2007.

In September 2010, Crawford entered pleas to simple assault and disorderly conduct and received nine months’ probation for pulling a .40-caliber Glock handgun on an older stepbrother during an argument over his use of a family vehicle.

It was also reported that he was expelled last year from Mount Aloysius College for possessing two guns while on campus.

Are you keeping track? More illegal possession of firearms? Check! (Damn gun-free zones.  This is Merikkka, dammit!)  Collecting protection from abuse orders as if they were baseball cards?  Check!  (Baseball cards are like the cards in a collectible card game, except each card represents a real player in MLB, and they aren’t part of an addictive game.  I know, us old people are weird.  No, I can’t quite remember why we bought them*.)  Pleading down to an insanely low charge after drawing a deadly weapon on a relative over a meaningless disagreement?  Why of course that’s a check!

I bring this all up because our Mr. Crawford found himself in court recently, and it is important that you understand his previous record to understand why the judge handed down such a harsh sentence to this misunderstood good guy with a gun.  Got it?  On to the latest incident!

In the most recent incident, his girlfriend went to the home to pack in preparation of moving out.

Crawford arrived when she was there. He shut the bedroom door and would not allow her to leave.

Charging documents said he hit her 10 to 15 times with the plunger.

The documents stated he tackled her on the bed and was choking her.

He said he was going to kill her.

In her PFA, the girlfriend said Crawford physically abused her in the past and becomes so angry at the young children in the home that be begins to shake.

Wow.  I don’t want to sound morbid here, but my mother watches a hell of a lot of Investigation Discovery and this sounds like at least 10 different true crime stories I’ve seen there.  Of course, those stories all end when the guy finally and predictably kills his poor estranged wife/girlfriend.  Thankfully in this case, the justice system stepped in, took control, and dealt this guy a severe punishment that will hopefully serve to deter him from the use of violence in the future.  I almost feel sorry for him, knowing how harshly non-violent drug dealers are dealt with in Blair county.

Oh shit.

Wait, that’s my whole thing with the Blair county justice system.  How they, to steal a jailhouse phrase, “knock drug dealer’s dicks into the dirt” while turning a blind eye to crimes I feel are a bit more serious.  No, absolutely not, not here, not now.  It didn’t happen this time.  I’m sure of it.  Judge Kagarise (a county judge who ran for election by stressing his pro-life beliefs, which says more about my area than anything else I could say) had to have crushed this guy, right?  I mean, look at his record!  The PFA’s!  The threats!  The fact that he’s drawn a gun in anger before!  Come on, Blair county, even blind justice gets one right every now and then…….

Blair County Judge Wade A. Kagarise placed Matthew Andrew Crawford, 30, on probation for four years after he entered pleas to terroristic threats and simple assault stemming from a Feb. 6 confrontation with the girlfriend.

You have got to be fucking kidding me.

The girlfriend appeared with other family members in court Thursday to ask the judge to order Crawford, as part of his probation, to follow whatever mental health treatment is recommended following an upcoming evaluation.

She said she fears not only for herself and her household but also for the safety of the public because of Crawford’s violent personality.

His mental health status is not good, she told the judge.

She said he doesn’t take his medication.

Sounds like some good recommendations.  I’d add five to ten up state on their, but I guess you can only ask for the possible.  Hmm, I wonder how the woman in question feels about the sentence of probation?  Maybe she asked the court to go easy on him….

She added that she was also “not thrilled” about the probationary sentence.

Well now, that is one serious understatement, ya think?  How could she be thrilled?  She probably gets Investigation Discovery as well.  She knows which path this story follows to the finish more times than not.

You know, I never do this, but this is a story that you may have a chance to influence.  You see, when Mr. Crawford hopped on down the bunny trail at the Cathedral last Easter eve, causing his gun to get excited and blow its load, he committed a crime.  (Yes, even though we can be sure that was far from the only load blown at a Catholic church in Blair county, if we go by the Grand Jury report.  But those were priests blowing those loads, and no one told the cops to ignore the one Mr. Crawford blew, so a punishment was due.  It was a weak one, but it was still punishment.

Kagarise in December placed Crawford on two years’ probation for the gun blast in the cathedral.

Why is this important?  Because, as I will be the first to tell you, based on personal experience, when you are on county probation, the county owns your ass.  In fact, even though Mr. Crawford was sentenced to only 4 years probation for beating his girlfriend with a plunger (out of love, I’m sure), he is currently in Blair county prison for violating his probation.

While Crawford received probation, he remains in the Blair County Prison because he was on probation for the church shooting incident when the most recent arrest occurred.

He told Kagarise he wanted a probation violation hearing on Thursday. Kagarise indicated he would have to wait awhile longer for that hearing.

“It’s time you got your act together, Mr. Crawford,” the judge said as he explained to Crawford that he could be sentenced to prison for violating terms of his probation.

When the probation hearing occurs, 3 things could happen.  (That’s assuming it’s his Gagnon 2 hearing, which is pretty safe since Gagnon 1’s have to be held 7 to 10 days after the arrest.)

  1.  The Judge decides he has done enough time for the violation and sets him free.
  2.  The Judge decides to sentence him to a jail term that cannot exceed his current probation sentence.  (So since he violated a probation sentence of 2 years, he could conceivably be sentenced to sit in jail until the day his probation was supposed to end.)
  3.   The Judge can take the nuclear option and Revoke and Re-sentence the offender.  In this instance, the Judge scraps the original sentence entirely and substitutes a different reasonable sentence.

In my opinion, the third option is the least likely one.  R&R’s are usually used against, you guessed it, non-violent drug offenders who fuck up on probation as a way to extend the probation.  For a personal example, my original sentence was 18 months of probation.  After being revoked and re-sentenced 4 times, I turned that 18 months into a total of 18 months in county jail, 13 months in state prison, to go with 4 and a half years on county probation followed by 11 months on state parole**.  Yeah, R&R’s can add up fast.  (For those curious, 2 of my R&R’s were caused by getting kicked out of 12 step based treatment facilities due to my atheism.  The other 2 were legit.  *shrugs*)

While I personally feel that 2 years is too light of a sentence for this man, after weighing his past charges, his violent history, the threats he made while assaulting someone he supposedly loved, and the fact that he fucking pulled a gun on someone in anger before, it is still two years.  I do not want to read the paper next month and learn of a murder committed by this jerk.  I do not understand why he wasn’t sent up state yesterday to be honest.  The quickest reason I can come up with is that Judge Kagarise doesn’t really think beating up your girlfriend is a crime, but I’m not going to make that accusation at this point, over one case.  I’m not sure if my voice will matter at all in this instance, but I will be reaching out to Judge Kagarise to let him know that I think Mr. Crawford is a danger to the community and needs to spend a bit more time on ice to pay for his crimes.  And hell, if you feel like chiming in, Judge Wade Kagarise can be reached at his law office, (814) 696-1108.  You can reach out to Blair county probation and parole from this page here, and from this one you can find links to many different departments at the Courthouse to annoy, er, respectfully question.

Maybe someone can explain to me why such serious crimes are met with a “meh” while a bag of heroin turns the judiciary into Judge Dredd.  Until then, remember the following:  Matthew Andrew Crawford got 4 years of probation for threatening to kill his girlfriend while keeping her against her will and beating her with an object.  I got 1 to 2 years in a maximum security state prison for scratching 100$ worth of lottery tickets off at work and then offering to pay for them.

Smells like justice to me.

*Actually, I remember exactly why I bought baseball cards.  Because I had invented a collectible card game to play using them.  Amazing what you can come up with when you have time, imagination, and ten sided dice.

** For those wondering, I finished walking off my state parole in 2007 or 2008.  Since then my only trouble with the law was a speeding ticket.

 

A “Wait, What?!?” That Caused Me To Cover My Monitor In Coffee.

There is so many delusional people in the United States today that it is difficult to pick a most delusional faction of the populace.  Is it members of the GOP who insist they had nothing to do with the rise of Trump?  Members of the GOP who still think Marco Rubio will become the GOP nominee?  Voters who believe Ted Cruz wouldn’t strangle a puppy on camera if it got him the nomination?  Progressives who apparently think the Tea Party and the House Freedom Caucus are on to something and claim they will sit out the election if HRC wins the nomination, refusing to acknowledge that another Clinton in the White House would be better than the modern GOP having control of every branch of government for a few years?  Pro-lifers who honestly believe Planned Parenthood is selling baby parts out of the trunk of their car to the highest bidder?  Gun owners who seriously believe the authors of the Bill of Rights would agree that the private ownership of an assault rifle is a right, not a privilege?  Citizens that truly believe we are living in a post-racial society, even after being smacked in the face with the crime that is the poisoning of Flint?

Just when I think it is impossible to choose a winner, Ed Brayton rescues me, drawing my attention to indeed, the most delusion segment of the population, hands down.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you your hysterical overreaction of the day. In an article on Pat Robertson’s CBN website, unhinged anti-gay bigot Brian Camenker of MassResistance says that Christians today are being treated just like the Jews were in Nazi Germany because they’re being “demonized.”

 

Some say American Christians are paranoid, that they’re feeling targeted and persecuted. But is it possible America is facing a growing anti-Christian agenda?

Some on the frontline of the culture wars have responded with a resounding “yes.” They feel it up close and personal – right in their faces.

“I’m particularly sensitive to that because I’m Jewish,” Brian Camenker, with Mass Resistance, told CBN News.

“I saw what happened to Jews in the 1930s and 40s and much of that same thing is happening to Christians now,” he said. “There’s an organized movement to demonize Christians.”

Maggie Gallagher, with the American Principles Project, agreed.

“What we’re seeing very clearly is an effort to target them [Christians] legally when possible and then to humiliate or deprive them of social respect,” she said.

I’m honestly speechless.  Thanks Ed.

A Realization as the Catholic Sex Abuse Scandal Hits Altoona

Embattled Attorney General of Pennsylvania Kathleen Kane (D-Suspended) took a break this week from taking as many people down with her as possible to do Attorney General type things, suspended law license be damned.  About a mile and a half from my front door, AG Kane spoke at the Blair County Convention Center and tore the local Catholic diocese to shreds.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane said Tuesday that hundreds of children were sexually abused by about 50 priests over more than 40 years in the Altoona-Johnstown Catholic Diocese, and some bishops attempted to cover up the crimes.

While a grand total of zero charges will be filed as a result of this investigation due to statute of limitation issues, the information contained in the report is worse than any prison sentence.  This report has it all.  Police collusion, Bishops wielding enough political power to chose police and fire chiefs, a standardized settlement list detailing how much “hush money” victims would get for each grope or thrust, and a Church so lost that it was fighting vicious legal battles against victims they knew full well had actually been abused by priests, calling them “liars” mercilessly and taking victory laps in the press after each rotten victory.  The report contains at least 100 posts worth of information, and with no charges being able to be filed, I feel it is an ethical imperative to amplify some of this information, to make sure people don’t forget and to try and see how deep this rot runs through the Church.

But this is not that post.  This is not any of those posts.

For those of you who do not know, I was sort of raised Catholic.  To avoid telling the whole story again, until I was 11 or so I was raised as a totally lapsed Catholic.  I knew who Jesus and Mary were, and I celebrated Christmas and Easter, but we never went to church or anything.  God was just something that was, it wasn’t a huge part of your life.  When I was 11, in some order my mother’s mother died and my mom was diagnosed with rather serious breast cancer.  This combination was my mother’s “come to Jesus” moment and I suddenly found myself not only at church every Sunday, but expected to take the Sacraments and get Confirmed in time.  While my mom found Jesus, I went in a differing direction.  Having just seen my oldest sister convert to Judaism for her wedding, I was much less inclined to believe there was a particular “right” way to worship, especially after having avoided the indoctrination of youth so many of my friends experienced.  I spent Sundays learning the arcane teachings of Cathol.  I had to study to earn my first Communion and there was some that wanted me to join the First Communion class.  See, not just anyone is supposed to eat the flesh of Jesus, then wash it down with some delicious fruit of the vein.  You’re supposed to attend classes to learn the significance of ritualized cannibalism.  The problem was one of age.  I was 11 or 12, while the First Communion class was first or second graders.  The decision was made to allow me to “test out” of the class.  As long as I showed the parish priest that I had grasped the material, I would be permitted Communion and spared the embarrassment of joining a class full of 7 year olds.

My mother drove me to the church in the early afternoon.  I know it was not on a Sunday, but my memory doesn’t help past that reconstructing a time frame.  I thought I would meet the priest in the church, but was surprised when my mom dropped me off at the old dilapidated house just before the church’s driveway that served as the rectory.  I remember her telling me to call her when I was ready to be picked up, and then she must have driven away, leaving me there.  The inside of the house was dark, cluttered, and old.  The knick-knacks brought to mind my grandparents house in the dead coal graveyard their town had become.  It smelled a lot like their house as well.  The old priest and I sat in a living room that my mind has decorated with a piano, with me sitting on its bench.  We used an old copy of the Catholic Catechism and we spent 30 to 40 minutes talking about the Catholic faith.  I could tell you how he would touch my arm while pointing out something in the book, or how he would rest a hand on my shoulder when making an important point, but both could be memories born in my mind rather than honest recollections.  I do remember him inviting me to stop over anytime I had a question, or even if I just needed to talk.  His door would always be open.

I remember that the visit upset me a great deal.  No, not because he did anything improper towards me sexually, but rather the indoctrination aspect of it all.  At 11 and 12, before I had suicide bombed any of my brain cells with idiotic teenage drug use, I was testing at genius IQ levels and loved listening to adults talk, let alone talk to them myself.  I didn’t have the “from the cradle” brainwashing most of the kids he spoke with had experienced, which allowed me to understand as he tried to convince me of the reality of hellfire and the saving, simple truth of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.  It sickened me and slammed the door to Christianity, a door that had previously been looking invitingly like the obvious choice, firmly shut for decades (until the 12 Steps found me sniffing around the rotting corpse of Christianity once again much later.  But that as well is a different post.).  My mother was struggling to work full time at a high stress job while suffer through seemingly endless courses of chemotherapy, treatment that only had a coin flips chance of succeeding.  To prepare her for this fight, God saw fit to kill her mother as a “good luck” gift.  It was the first time I thought “wait. how is this God omnibenevolent then? I didn’t understand that I had stumbled upon the problem of evil at that point, but I did realize that if this so-called God did in fact exist, that I could not worship it.  It wasn’t deserving of worship.

I haven’t thought of that day in decades.  When I examine the building blocks of my current world view, there are many days during high school that involve the church and have had a much greater lasting impact on me.  Priests who would have a much stronger influence, considering the priest of this story passed away before my Confirmation classes began, making this time spent together the only time I was ever alone with him.

Today the Altoona Mirror printed some of the names of priests accused by the grand jury.  Page A4.

www.mynewsonthego.com

I remember the house.

I remember my mom telling me to call when I was done.

I remember sitting across from Father Regis Myers.  Alone.

If the existence of this story didn’t call it’s worth into so much question, this is when I would say “There but for the grace of God go I.”

I’m angry.  I used to be angry at him and religion, for the indoctrination of children, for brain washing and for teaching the unforgivable concept of Hellfire.  Now I’m angry for a different reason.

I’m angry at the Church for giving him access to children.  I’m angry at my mother for leaving me alone with him, trusting him for no other reason than he pretends to talk to God.  I’m angry at him because now I have his request that I become an altar boy after my communion in my head and no idea of his intentions.  I’m angry at the police for the protection they gave these predators.  I’m angry at the bishops for  abusing their political power and at the mayor’s for allowing them to do it.  I’m angry at the bishops for callously moving child abusers from parish to parish with no thoughts about the victims other than as a number on some pay out chart.  Strangely enough, for someone who considers themselves an anti-theist, I’m angry at the embarrassment they brought to the priesthood.  The priest I was confirmed by was a good man who does not deserve the shame this brings down on the whole priesthood.

I was not abused by Father Regis Myers.

Don’t thank anyone for that joyous outcome.  No one stopped it.  No one prevented it.  I just hit the “please don’t sexually abuse me” lottery.

Yeah.  I’m angry.

“Things Old White Men Probably Shouldn’t Write” and Thomas Sowell Go Together “So-Well” (See What I Did There!!!!)

From the “Letters to the Editor” page in the Altoona Mirror, I bring you today’s installment of “Things Old White Men Probably Shouldn’t Write, ” submitted to the Mirror by a John K. Coyle (NOT THE SPEEDSKATER!!!) from Bedford, Pennsylvania.  (Bolding is mine as always)

Award-winning syndicated columnist Tom Sowell’s column on “racial representation” is a must read.

In it, he offers his opinion on whether the black race should be continuously complaining of how they are not equally representative in every phase of “what matters.”

He writes with “tongue-in-cheek” of how even the NFL comes up short, with his perfect example of “failure to represent.”

I quote Sowell, “I have seen hundreds of black players score touchdowns, but I have never seen one black player kick an extra point.”

I’m surprised there wasn’t a group of professional protesters at the Super Bowl.

And as always, Tom says it “So-well.”

– See more at: http://www.altoonamirror.com/page/content.detail/id/630747/Sowell-makes-his-point-well.html?nav=737#sthash.p016CZLe.dpuf

Oh God, what is that “black race” complaining about now?  I bet it’s something really petty, amirite?  Let’s go to The Jewish World Review to check out the column in question, shall well?

The latest tempest in a teapot controversy is over a lack of black nominees for this year’s Academy Awards in Hollywood.

Wait, what?  That’s the controversy Sowell is writing about?  Is Mr. Coyle misrepresenting Mr. Sowell’s column by only quoting that eye roll worthy joke example of NFL placekickers?  I mean, I admit that I don’t really like Thomas Sowell’s political and social ideas, but he is a nationally known columnist.  Surely he wouldn’t dismiss the lack of nominations for blacks at the Academy Awards the past two years, while the nominations are decided by a voting body that is overwhelmingly white with just that weak ass example.  Right?  I mean, just because he never saw a black place kicker in the NFL doesn’t mean they don’t exist.  At the time this article went to press there had been 4 black NFL place kickers.

I doubt whether any of the guys who grew up in my old neighborhood in Harlem ever went on to become ballet dancers. Nor is it likely that this had anything to do with either genetics or racism. The very thought of becoming a ballet dancer never crossed my mind and it probably never occurred to the other guys either.

Oh, okay.  See?  I knew good old “So-Well” wouldn’t just bring that one sad example.  He has two sad examples.  It took me two clicks on Google to find this story featuring 2 black male ballet dancers from Brooklyn.   I really have no idea what Sowell is playing at by bringing up these two examples.  There are non-racist reasons why some fields (such as NFL place kicking) have lower than normal participation by African Americans.  As the 2012 article said on place kicking:

The Rooney Rule requires NFL teams to interview minorities for coaching jobs. The difference is there were plenty of candidates being ignored when the rule began.

Black kicking prospects aren’t being ignored. They aren’t turned into defensive backs or wide receivers, like promising black quarterbacks used to be. Nobody’s pulling a Jimmy the Greek and saying they lack the leg strength or other “necessities.”

There simply aren’t many out there.

“The hard part is finding a kid who’ll stick with it,” said Oglesby, who runs a kicking camp in Atlanta. “I come across kids who have the talent, but either they’re not interested or don’t have the money to attend camps. Or they play on a team that doesn’t put any emphasis on it.”

Almost all young kickers played soccer, which is not popular in black communities. They get specialized training and don’t depend on high schools developing their skills.

That’s a good thing, since kicking is often an afterthought on the high-school level. And even if a kicker is a young Sebastian Janikowski, the position doesn’t have much sex appeal to an impressionable kid of any race.

As for the ballet dancing, I must admit that I also didn’t know any male ballet dancers growing up.  The thought never crossed my mind, and I doubt it really ever did for most of the guys I went to school with.  Yet I grew up in a school that was 99% white.  How can that be?  Shouldn’t I have been swimming through future ballet principles?  Could it be that some forms of dance, like, ballet maybe, are favored more by girls growing up than boys?  The stereotype when I went to school, which was ages ago, granted, was that little boys played sports while little girls did gymnastics and dance.  Was it sexist as all get out?  Hell yeah.  It wasn’t as divided as I make it seem, girls did play basketball (soccer had yet to catch on) and eventually softball, but the now common sight of a girl playing Little League certainly didn’t occur during my childhood.  The point is that although not the common path, some little white boys and little black boys do decide they want to do ballet.  And if Mr. Sowell, or Mr. Coyle seriously think racism isn’t an obstacle for those black children who want to dance ballet, then they have never done any research into ballet.  Ballet has a serious obsession with “the look.”  Women must be lithe, flat-chested, and delicate while the men must fit their own mold.  The ballet company, the director, and the audience all have an image of what a ballet dancer should look like, and all too often that mental image is of a white person.  Look at Misty Copeland’s rise to Principle dancer and the pitfalls she had to face in spite of her unquestionable talent because she was black with a body outside the classical image of a ballerina.

Even with his pitiful examples, the most audacious part of Sowell’s column is his attempt to obfuscate the  actual argument against the Academy Awards.  Black actors point out the complete white-out for acting nominations, two years running, and Sowell does some quick slight of hand and is suddenly talking about professions where African Americans are underrepresented.  But that misses the point entirely.  Acting is not a profession that is void of black talent.  There were legitimate candidates for nomination the past two years.  This isn’t a case of “well, maybe black folks don’t act, ” or “maybe black folks don’t like to kick balls,” or “none of my black friends danced ballet.”  It’s more “gee, isn’t it funny that this incredibly white voting bloc keeps giving all the nominations to white people, even though there are deserving candidates with differing skin tones.”  It has much more in common with the old “so if white people and black people use drugs at similar rates per capita, then why does such a massive amount  more black people wind up getting arrested?” than Sowell’s sad sack examples.

For Thomas Sowell?  I know, it’s not hard.  As a black conservative columnist, you can pretty much say anything and your intended audience will lap it all up.  But judging by your CV, you are not a stupid man.  So come on, out of intellectual integrity at the least, a bit less baiting, and a bit less switching.

And Mr. John K. Coyle (Not the Speedskater!  Seriously, don’t mess with the speedskating guy, he didn’t say anything.)?  As a fellow white person, although a few decades your junior, I urge you to refrain from ever telling “the black race” what you think they should do.   Especially in a public forum with your name attached while possessing a non-private (not mean enough to link it, it’s easy enough to find.) Facebook account.  I assure you, they do not care what you think, and you sound like your next words will be  “I’m not racist, but…”

“Good Guy with a Gun” of the Week

This week’s “Good Guy with a Gun” award goes to one Matthew A. Crawford of Altoona, Pennsylvania.  Some of you may recognize the name from his previous bout with fame when his concealed handgun accidentally discharged during a church service he was attending at the Cathedral in Altoona.

One person who may be quite thankful of Mr. Crawford’s earlier problems is his ex-girlfriend, since his plea agreement included a provision prohibiting Mr. Crawford from possessing firearms for his time on probation.  Otherwise, this story may have a much darker ending.  For as the Altoona Mirror reports:

An Altoona man whose handgun discharged while attending an Easter Mass at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in 2015 is in jail after an alleged domestic dispute at his home, Altoona police said Monday.

Matthew A. Crawford, 30, of 1418 18th St. was arrested by Altoona police late Saturday after he allegedly beat his girlfriend with the handle of a plunger about 8 p.m. after confronting her as she gathered her belongings to move out, Crawford’s arrest papers indicate.

According to police, responding officers were told by Crawford’s girlfriend that she was at their home to pack in order to move out and that Crawford returned while she was there and cornered her in an upstair’s bedroom. Crawford shut the bedroom door, and as she tried calling 911, he picked up a plunger and started hitting her with the handle. Police said the woman said she was hit 10 to 15 times on various parts of her body. Police noted the woman had a mark consistent with being struck with a a plunger handle on her arm and suffered a scratch on her left hand. She also complained of pain to her right shoulder blade and neck.

During the alleged assault, Crawford reportedly told his girlfriend he would kill her, police said.

Remember, as the NRA says, “Guns don’t kill people, people do.”  Thankfully, that’s people with guns, not people with plungers mostly.  In Mr. Crawford’s defense, I am sure he had a good reason to beat his (hopefully) ex-girlfriend with a plunger.  Let’s see:

Police said that Crawford told an officer she was supposed to pick him up but didn’t, and he was angry he had to walk home. Crawford told police he fell into his girlfriend and then said he didn’t want to answer any more questions without his attorney present.

Okay then.  Well, in his defense, other than the accidental discharge at church, it isn’t like Mr. Crawford had a history of violence, right?

In 2010, Crawford was arrested for pulling a gun on a family member during an argument.

Oh, for fuck’s sake.  Responsible gun ownership, people!  Good guys with guns!  Feel safe!

 

School is Now in Session

Greetings, students.  Please find your seat.  I’m not going to call roll today, but I will insist on enforcing our usual “no cross talk” policy.  Today’s lesson will be quick and hopefully, easy to understand.  Ready?

For arguments sake, let’s say that you run an establishment that hosts weddings.  To really crank up the realism in this scenario, let’s also say that you are a horrible bigot.  Now as a horrible bigot who runs a wedding hosting establishment, I am sure you are asking yourself who you are legally allowed to discriminate against.  You know how it is, life is short and you only get so many chances to ruin someone else’s day for no reason other than your own prejudice or outdated cultural beliefs.  The damn government already pissed in your Cheerios by forcing you to open your establishment to black weddings, and it was only by the grace of god that the resulting lingering odor of fried chicken and watermelon stained table cloths that you were positive would be the end result never materialized.  Thanks again, Jesus, for that small blessing.  Then that damn government went and forced you to open your doors to those unbiblical heathen sinners who were engaging in the abomination of miscegenation.

While you were certain god had a lightening bolt with your name on it for allowing that blasphemy to occur, Jesus apparently understood that you were forced by the evil, mean jack-booted federal thugs to permit these weddings, and approved of your little acts of protest (cranking the AC in the winter and the heat in the summer while claiming the system was broken) enough to spare you and your family.  Even though you managed to escape the fires of hell in that instance, when you saw those two carpet-munching man-haters trying to mock god himself by pretending their demon-possessed souls and father-abused bodies could feel love, god’s perfect gift to the world, you had to put your foot down.  After all, it was Adam and Eve, not Audra and Eve, and didn’t god send Aids down from heaven to deal with dykes like this?  And while Jesus himself may not have said anything about homosexuals, the Old Testament and Saul of Tarsus, who most definitely was not a sexually repressed closet case, both condemned the beast like act.

Imagine your surprise when, after honoring your hateful god and turning those sinners away, you found yourselves the proud owners of a 13 thousand dollar fine for discrimination.  You almost swear, before catching yourself of course, wondering what happened to this great nation when god-fearing Christians can’t even discriminate against a couple of queers anymore.  I mean, you weren’t going to stone them to death, even though, biblically, that’s exactly what you should have done.  You just didn’t want their icky gay germs to contaminate your beautiful wedding location.  What’s worse is that if you catch the Aids from breathing the same air as these god haters, the government probably won’t even let you sue them.  How is that fair?  Having not taken this class yet, you call up your lawyer to see if you can do anything about this horrible infringement on your religious liberty.  Your lawyer, after performing a ton of research on your bank account balance, assures you that you should give him a lot of money.  He definitely, without a doubt, is not telling his friends about the unwinnable case he just took on for a couple of rich religious idiots and how, counting appeals, he just paid for his first house, that sports car he always wanted, and an engagement ring for his soon to be trophy wife.  I promise that, after a couple of lines and beers, he never once said to his friends, “Hey, some people hit the lottery, some people inherit, and some people find well-off religious bigots; we all get rich in different ways.”

Now I totally admit that I made our hypothetical business owning bigots into a pair of ridiculous strawmen.  Yet cases such as this one are currently taking place, as students who clicked the above link now know.  Let’s look at that non-hypothetical case, shall we?  Once again, here is the link.

Owners of a New York wedding venue who were fined $US13,000 for violating the state’s anti-discrimination law are arguing Monday that they should be legally allowed to follow their Christian faith.

The owners of Liberty Ridge Farm north of Albany refused to host the 2013 wedding of Melisa and Jennie McCarthy, citing their own religious beliefs. Now the business, owned by Robert and Cynthia Gifford, is appealing a ruling from the state’s Division of Human Rights that it violated New York law and is seeking to have the fine reversed.

Now note first of all that the owners of this particular venue were fined for violating the New York state anti-discrimination law.  Why is this important?  Because if you take a look at that law you will notice that it applies to the following: “age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex, marital status, or disability.”  Well, will you look at that?  Sexual orientation is included.  Unfortunately that is not always the case in the United States, but in New York state it is part of the law.  So let us see what the bigot’s Gifford’s lawyer is going to argue in this case.

“It would violate the Giffords’s faith to facilitate this union,” attorney Caleb Dalton told a five-judge supreme court appeals panel.

But Dalton, counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, said the Giffords’s faith did not allow them to participate in a marriage other than between one man and one woman.

So it seems that Dalton is arguing that this case sees two rights in conflict:  the McCarthy’s right to access versus the bigot’s Gifford’s right to religious freedom.  Or as the bigot Cynthia Gifford melodramatically puts it:

Cynthia Gifford told reporters they are asking the court to respect the freedoms upon which the United States was built.

“When the government tells you what to say and punishes you if you don’t, it’s very frightening,” she said. “And all of us Americans should be scared about this, no matter where we stand on the issue.”

Now churches, as far as I know, are exempt from anti-discrimination laws.  It would be kind of heavy handed after all to force a church to hire an atheist pastor.  I believe that exemption ends once the employees no longer have any pastoral duties.  My uncertainty on the matter is irrelevant, of course, because the homophobe’s Gifford’s business is not a church.  Their argument is absurd, which you can discover by substituting any of the other protected classes in place of homosexuals and see how long it would take their case to be thrown out of court.  If the Gifford’s bigoted viewpoint became law, you would immediately have various businesses not only refusing service to homosexuals, but also to blacks, interracial couples, women not accompanied by a man, Muslims, Jews, women, Catholics, the disabled, and white males over 50 (that would be my store.  Hey, they may be a Trump supporter, and I’m not taking that chance.), to name a few.  Perhaps the Giffords feel it should only be a narrow exemption allowing the discrimination against homosexuals, but there is not only no logical reason to limit the religious freedom exemption to only that group, it would also be ruled unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court, especially after this year’s ruling on marriage equality.

Now I am sure I have some libertarian students who feel a business owner should be able to serve who ever they want, with the only possible punishment for open bigotry being from the free market.  To those students I kindly say, “Fuck off.”  (I have tenure.)  While they are kindly fucking off, they can remove their cars from the tax funded roads.  Every single business, no matter how small or large, benefits from the public coffers.  Be it the publicly funded roads that their customers travel on, to the publicly funded police force that protects their business, we all depend on public money at some time.  New York state has decided that one of the concessions they demand from people who wish to operate a business in their state is is adherence to the state’s anti-discrimination law.  If you are not willing to obey that law, then you are perfectly free to move your business to a different state or country with laws more to your likings.

We keep hearing people in these situations complain that their religious liberties have been violated.  Bull.  We have freedom of religion in this country, as we have freedom of speech, yet neither freedom is absolute.  I hate the “yelling fire in a crowded theater” example, so instead I will suggest you visit the nearest airport and joke about how long it took you to hide all the bombs in your suitcase.  From your jail cell, please write me and let me know what they said when you played your “freedom of speech” trump card.  Religious freedom has limits as well.  Even if I sincerely believe that the only way to please Jesus and get into heaven is by using copious amounts of heroin, the drug task force is not going to allow me to freely practice my religion.  Child sacrifice, ritual cannibalism, marrying multiple 12 year olds, and the withholding of medical care from minor children are just some of the “sincerely held religious beliefs” we have decided, as a society, are not to be protected.  Your religious freedom stops when it begins to affect the freedoms of other people.

You can march in bigot parades every weekend.  You can attend and tithe a church that preaches that Starbucks includes human semen in their lattes.  You can write internet post after internet post about how all homosexuals are going to burn in everlasting hell.  You can even preach that the bible calls for the death penalty for homosexuals, at an event with presidential candidates in attendance.

What you can not do, assuming you are in a state that protects people from discrimination based on their sexual orientation, is deny them the same services you offer to everybody else.  It really isn’t that difficult of a concept.

Quiz on Friday.  Enjoy the rest of your day.