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.

Advertisements

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.

Move Over Todd Akin, It’s Pete Nielsen Time!

Remember Todd Akin?  Remember how he said that abortion restrictions didn’t need exceptions for rape because “legitimate rape” doesn’t result in pregnancy?  Remember how he lost a senate race that should have been a cake walk mainly due to that comment?

After the amazing crash and burn Akin performed for the nation back in 2012, you would think that Republicans would learn a lesson from the whole fiasco.  You’d be wrong, of course.  Why?  Damned if I know.  Maybe it’s because some of them really believe, with zero evidence, that, ahem, “legitimate” rape is too traumatic to result in conception.  Or maybe it is an “ends justify the means” situation, where as long as it results in punishing women for being sexual beings.  What, you thought I was going to strike that out and end the sentence with “less abortions?”  Why?  When has the so-called “pro-life” movement ever supported something with an actual chance of lowering the number of abortions?  They can say they care about the unborn child all they want, but until they stop opposing common sense measures, like Colorado’s long term contraception initiative for an example, measures that are actually effective at lowering the rate of abortion, why should any of us give them the benefit of the doubt as to their motives?  They aren’t just protesting Planned Parenthood’s abortion facilities; they want it all shut down, because this has much more to do with women’s sexuality than the fate of some fetuses.  Nothing should prove that faster than the speed at which they cease caring about the child upon birth.

Whatever their reasons may be, they keep beating that same old drum.  Today’s “Wait, What?!?” is brought to you by the Idaho legislature.  “I da Ho?  Well then close your damn legs, ya slut!”

From The Spokesman-Review:

During the hearing Rep. Pete Nielsen, R-Mountain Home, said, “Now, I’m of the understanding that in many cases of rape it does not involve any pregnancy because of the trauma of the incident. That may be true with incest a little bit.”

….

Nielsen stood by his remarks after the hearing, saying pregnancy “doesn’t happen as often as it does with consensual sex, because of the trauma involved.”

Asked how he knew that, he said, “That’s information that I’ve had through the years. Whether it’s totally accurate or not, I don’t know.”

He added, “I read a lot of information. I have read it several times. … Being a father of five girls, I’ve explored this a lot.”

Why, may I ask, has this man “explored this a lot”?  Hopefully it is for work, and not an attempt to figure out how likely his daughters would be to get pregnant if he…….

Moving on….

The scientific consensus on the issue is that rape is as likely to result in pregnancy as consensual sex, and some studies suggest the rate of pregnancy is higher in rape. A 2003 study that appeared in the scientific journal “Human Nature,” for instance, found that the rate of pregnancy from rape exceeded the rate of pregnancy from consensual sex by a “sizable margin.”

Is it any wonder if a percentage of the anti-choice brigade decides to ignore scientific consensus?  Members of the GOP already freely ignore the scientific consensus when it comes to evolution and global warming, what would make this a bridge too far?  Of course, in those cases the only people being called “liars” are scientists and biology teachers.  I wonder if they stop and think that by holding on to the “legitimate rape doesn’t cause pregnancy” thing that they are directly calling every rape victim who got pregnant from her attack a liar?

Something tells me they just don’t care.

Justice Antonin Scalia, RIP

Rest in peace, Justice Scalia.

My original idea for this post was to quote the old saying “if you can’t say some thing nice about someone, then don’t say anything at all,” followed by a page of nothingness.   However, great minds think alike, as they say (or obvious jokes are obvious), and Mock, Paper, Scissors had it up and posted before I could even open my browser.  Good show Tengrain.  Good show.

So having lost my planned commentary on Antonin Scalia’s death, I was left with a choice.  I could make the same joke as I originally intended to make while linking to MPS and congratulating them on beating me to the punch, I could post absolutely nothing on the subject, or I could turn my brain on and actually write something about the passing of a Supreme Court Justice.  The first option was out immediately.  Sloppy, lazy, and no matter the truth, it would appear as if I simply stole tengrain’s joke and called it a day.  The second choice is exactly what I am trying to get away from by relaunching the blog.  No, I was going to post something about the news.  Ignoring it was really not an option.  So it seems now, as I drink a cup of Peet’s and breath out a immense cloud of nicotine spiked vapor that I must remember where the “on” switch is located for my brain.  I promise the following will be a bit more substantial than my tweet of “ding dong, the witch is dead.”  Also, unless otherwise noted, the factual information in the following comes from Wikipedia.


Antonin Scalia, born March 11, 1936 in Trenton, New Jersey, was one of the most divisive figures in American government.  After attending Georgetown University for his undergraduate degree, he went on to Harvard Law.  At both schools, he was an exceptional student, according to Wikipedia:

In 1953, Scalia enrolled at Georgetown University, where he graduated valedictorian and summa cum laude in 1957 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history. While in college, he was a champion collegiate debater in Georgetown’s Philodemic Society and a critically praised thespian.[20] He took his junior year abroad at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland.[13] Scalia studied law at Harvard Law School, where he was a Notes Editor for the Harvard Law Review.[21] He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law in 1960, becoming a Sheldon Fellow of Harvard University: The fellowship allowed him to travel throughout Europe during 1960–1961.[22]

After six years in a Cleveland law firm, Scalia became a law professor at the University of Virginia, sacrificing a chance at becoming a partner in the firm to follow his desire to teach.  In 1971, after 4 years teaching, President Nixon drafted Scalia into public service, appointing him as General Counsel for the Office of Telecommunications Policy.  His virginity thus ended, Scalia would continue in public service until President Carter’s victory left him unemployed.

  • General Counsel for the Office of Telecommunications Policy, 1971
  • Chairman of the Administrative Conference of the United States, 1972-74
  • Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel, 1974-76

During the Ford presidency, Scalia appeared to spend most of his energy arguing for executive privilege, testifying several times before Congress in support of President Ford’s desire to not turn over certain documents.  He took a key role in arguing for a presidential veto of a bill amending the Freedom of Information Act that greatly widened the scope of the act, a position that was successful partially, as Ford did indeed veto the bill, only to see his veto overridden.  In 1976’s case Alfred Dunhill of London, Inc. v. Republic of Cuba, Scalia had his first opportunity to argue a case before the US Supreme Court and was successful.  Also successful was Jimmy Carter’s attempt to win the White House, resulting in Scalia returning to the private sector.  He first spent a few months with the American Enterprise Institute, a well-known conservative think tank.  He then went back to teaching, this time at the University of Chicago Law School, as well as spending a year as a visiting professor at Stanford.

After Reagan took control of the White House in 1980, everything seemed set for Scalia to return to public service.  It seemed to take longer than expected, however, as his first desired position went to another candidate, and then he declined an offered position, preferring to wait for something more consequential.  This paid off in 1982 when he was offered, and accepted, a position on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.  While serving in the DC circuit, Scalia built up an impressive conservative record and quickly rose to Pres. Reagan’s short list for the Supreme Court, along with Robert Bork.  Then in 1986, Chief Justice Burger announced his retirement and Pres. Reagan first nominated Justice Rehnquist to fill the position of Chief Justice, and then Antonin Scalia to fill Rehnquist’s Associate Justice role.

Looking back on the confirmation proceedings, it is easy to just assume that nominees were just rubber stamped back then when you notice that Scalia faced no opposition and was confirmed with a 98-0 vote.  Things really are not that cut and dried, however, as Scalia’s confirmation hearings took place soon after the divisive fight over Renhquist becoming Chief Justice.  Yes, Presidential nominees were met with less knee-jerk opposition at the time, but some think that a large part of why Scalia flew through the proceedings untouched was due to the Judiciary committee having no taste for a second fight, along with a reluctance to hold up the potential first Italian-American Supreme Court Justice.  While Scalia was approved 98-0, the vote for Renhquist to become Chief Justice was a much tighter 65-33.  No matter the confirmation process, on September 26, 1986, Scalia became Justice Antonin Scalia, the first Italian-American to sit on the nation’s top court.

To say Antonin Scalia was a divisive figure on the Supreme Court would be an understatement on par with saying the GOP controlled Congress that Pres. Obama must work with is a little bit obstructionist.  His Originalism did not always mean he fell on the conservative side of decisions.  He was a strong defender of the Confrontation clause of the Sixth Amendment, protecting the right’s of defendants to confront their accuser, including lab technicians in drug cases, as well as the Sixth Amendment’s promise of a trial by jury, striking down a judge’s ability to increase the sentence of a convict if the judge felt the crime was motivated by hate in Apprendi v. New Jersey.  In Blakely v. Washington, and then United States v. Booker Scalia took down mandatory sentencing guidelines, turning them into suggestions rather than ranges set in stone.  Fans of the Fourth Amendment could also find opinions by Scalia to like; in Kyllo v. United States he found that Han and Leia’s son was indeed guilty of murdering his fa…wait.  Sorry, that’s Kyllo, not Kylo.  Sorry.  ahem, in Kyllo v. United States he wrote the majority opinion finding that thermal imaging of a home was an illegal search, and dissented in the 1991 case County of Riverside v. McLaughlin that found it was legal to hold someone arrested without a warrant for 48 hours before seeing a magistrate.  In 1990 he wrote the Court’s opinion striking down a hate speech law in St. Paul, admirably protecting the First Amendment.  (Sorry fellow liberals, if you support hate speech laws you may want to reexamine the reasons why.  Hate speech needs to be confronted and defeated in the marketplace of ideas, not outlawed and suppressed.)  Unfortunately, while more than I expected to write in this section, that is about it when it comes to praising his decisions.

I am not going to spend a lot of words detailing his opinions progressives would find noxious.  There really isn’t a need, as most liberals know exactly who Antonin Scalia is and what his beliefs are, because he made them no secret.  He was outspoken, at times rude, at times condescending with those who disagreed with his views.  Life truly is black and white, good and evil to Justice Scalia, as anyone who saw him turn on an interviewer who seemed incredulous at his belief in a literal Devil:

Soon afterwards Senior brought the conversation to the afterlife asking, “You believe in heaven and hell?” to which the Justice responded, ‘Oh, of course I do. Don’t you believe in heaven and hell?’

Turns out Ms. Senior does not – to which Scalia tsked, ‘Oh, my.’

In a reflection on salvation that seemed to be comparing Judas Iscariot to gay people, Scalia was unwilling to speculate if Senior’s disbelief indicates that she will wind up in hell. However, just as Senior was ready to move on to Scalia’s drafting process, the Justice leaded forward and told her:

“I even believe in the Devil.”

Go on..

Q: So what’s he doing now?

A: What he’s doing now is getting people not to believe in him or in God. He’s much more successful that way.

But as the questioning continued Scalia appears to have gotten irate saying:

You’re looking at me as though I’m weird. My God! Are you so out of touch with most of America, most of which believes in the Devil? I mean, Jesus Christ believed in the Devil! It’s in the Gospels! You travel in circles that are so, so removed from mainstream America that you are appalled that anybody would believe in the Devil!

 

While a devout Roman Catholic, Antonin Scalia was pro-life only in relation to the unborn, supporting the death penalty fully.  His support for the death penalty included killing those who offended at 15 and 16 years of age, as well as the mentally retarded, using his originalism as justification in the latter case.  He firmly believed that the Constitution did not include a right to abortion, urging his fellow justices to overturn Roe V. Wade at any possible opportunity.  In Stenberg v. Carhart in 2000, Scalia dissented from the Courts decision to overturn Nebraska’s ban on “partial-birth abortions” due to the lack of an exception for the health of the mother, comparing the Court’s decision to Dred Scott and Korematsu.  In 2007, Scalia joined with the four other Catholics on the Court in Gonzales v. Carhart  to uphold a federal ban on the procedure, a decision that faced blazing criticism on First Amendment grounds.  From Wikipedia:

University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey R. Stone, a former colleague of Scalia’s, criticized Gonzales, stating that religion had influenced the outcome as all five justices in the majority were Catholic, whereas the dissenters were Protestant or Jewish.[68] This angered Scalia to such an extent that he stated he would not speak at the University of Chicago as long as Stone is there.[69]

Ahem.  Me thinks the esteemed juror doth protest too much.  Scalia was firmly against affirmative action, voting against it every chance he got, and was similarly skeptical of laws that sought equality of the sexes.  Recently Scalia allowed his hatred of affirmative action to get the best of him in Fisher v. University of Texas, either revealing his own racism or simply giving the appearance of racism.  As Mother Jones reported:

During oral arguments in a pivotal affirmative action case on Wednesday morning, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia raised the suggestion that African American students might belong at less rigorous schools than their white peers, and that perhaps the University of Texas should have fewer black students in its ranks.

Scalia’s comments came during arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas, a case over whether the university’s use of race in a sliver of its admissions decisions is constitutional.

He said:

There are those who contend that it does not benefit African Americans to get them into the University of Texas, where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a slower-track school where they do well. One of the briefs pointed out that most of the black scientists in this country don’t come from schools like the University of Texas. They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they’re being pushed ahead in classes that are too fast for them.

He went on to say, “I’m just not impressed by the fact the University of Texas may have fewer [blacks]. Maybe it ought to have fewer. I don’t think it stands to reason that it’s a good thing for the University of Texas to admit as many blacks as possible.”

Even more than affirmative action however, Justice Scalia saved his worst vitriol for the gay and lesbian community.  In 1996 Scalia dissented from the majorities opinion in Romer v. Evans, a ruling that effectively ended the 1986 ruling that permitted states to make homosexual sodomy illegal, Bowers v. Hardwick.  Quoting from Wiki once again:

Scalia later said of Romer, “And the Supreme Court said, ‘Yes, it is unconstitutional.’ On the basis of—I don’t know, the Sexual Preference Clause of the Bill of Rights, presumably. And the liberals loved it, and the conservatives gnashed their teeth.”[78]

In 2003 Lawrence v. Texas formally reversed Bowers, a case that Scalia not only dissented from, but practically made a mockery of himself over.

According to Mark V. Tushnet in his survey of the Rehnquist Court, during the oral argument in the case, Scalia seemed so intent on making the state’s argument for it that the Chief Justice intervened.[79] According to his biographer, Joan Biskupic, Scalia “ridiculed” the majority in his dissent for being so ready to cast aside Bowers when many of the same justices had refused to overturn Roe in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.[80] In March 2009, openly gay Congressman Barney Frank described him as a “homophobe”.[81]Maureen Dowd described Scalia in a 2003 column as “Archie Bunker in a high-backed chair”.[82] In an op-ed for The New York Times, federal appeals judge Richard Posner and Georgia State University law professor Eric Segall described as radical Scalia’s positions on homosexuality, reflecting an apparent belief that the religious stances supposedly held by the majority of US citizens should take precedence over the Constitution and characterizing Scalia’s “political ideal as verg[ing] on majoritariantheocracy.”[83]

Scalia was a supporter of the 2nd Amendment as well, and I really don’t think I need to tell you how he voted in regards to marriage equality.

As disgusting as I find many of the man’s beliefs, it can not be said that he was not a brilliant legal mind.  He was a man of conviction who seemed to love life, taking his role on the Court seriously while never losing his sense of humor.  For such a conservative firebrand, it may come as a surprise to find his closest friend on the Court was Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a progressive hero.  The two shared a love for the opera, ”  even appearing together onstage as supernumeraries in Washington National Opera‘s 1994 production of Ariadne auf Naxos.[103] Ginsburg was a colleague of Scalia’s on the D.C. Circuit, and the Scalias and Ginsburgs had dinner together every New Year’s Eve.[141]”

I am not going to lie.  I feel the nation is much better off with Scalia off the Supreme Court.  Even if the US Senate succeeds in obstructing Obama’s nominee to replace him, even if a Republican wins the White House this year, I find it unlikely that they can get a nominee approved who is as dependable of a conservative vote as Scalia was in his time on the bench.  I believe he used his originalism as an excuse to hide his religious motivations behind, with the Court’s 5-4 ruling along religious lines in Gonzales v. Carhart being one of the low points in the history of the Court, making mockery out of JFK’s famous speech allaying fears of his Catholicism.  His belief in a literal Satan as an actual force in reality, while possibly shared by a large portion the the population, is none the less terrifying coming from a man with his level of education and power.  That being said, I wish I was celebrating his removal from the Court because he retired; not due to his death.  I wish nothing but the best to his family and friends in this difficult time.  As a person, I know the pain that his death has caused his loved ones.

Yet as a public figure, as a Justice of the Supreme Court, I am nothing but glad to see him go.

 


I have oral surgery later today, so this will be the last post of the day.  I hope to have a post detailing what Scalia’s death means to the 2016 Presidential campaign tomorrow.

Can I Haz Lawsuit Plz?

From Dispatches from the Culture War:

Apparently pulling a page from Donald Trump’s playbook, Saudi Arabia is now threatening to sue anyone who compares their “justice” system to the extreme form of Sharia law practiced by ISIS in the territory they control. The threat was aimed at someone on Twitter, but they say they’ll go after anyone who makes such a comparison. Okay, I’m game. Your legal system is, if anything, even worse than ISIS.

Saudi Arabia will sue any Twitter user who compares the Kingdom’s recent decision to execute a poet to punishments handed down by Isis…

“The justice ministry will sue the person who described … the sentencing of a man to death for apostasy as being `Isis-like’,” a justice ministry source told newspaper Al-Riyadh…

“Questioning the fairness of the courts is to question the justice of the Kingdom and its judicial system based on Islamic law, which guarantees rights and ensures human dignity”, the source seemingly told the pro-government newspaper.

They claimed the Kingdom’s courts would not hesitate to put on trial “any media that slandered the religious judiciary of the Kingdom”.

I’ll bite.  Hey Saudi Arabia?  Your system of justice is very ISIS-like.

 

Shed a Tear

Attention, fellow evil secularists!

While I am aware that most of you are quite busy this time of year, waging our non-stop war against a holiday half of us already celebrate culturally, I urge you all to take a quick time out from your assault on Christmas this December and think of poor Linda Harvey.  While we are all plotting who to say “Happy Holidays!” to next, or designing seasonal cups in minimalist, inclusive ways, all in our effort to persecute Christians, Mission America’s Linda Harvey used her column at the World Nut Daily to share her heart-breaking tale of holiday woe:

“Well, it’s that time again — time to get out the Christmas list and start hitting the stores,” she wrote. “The problem is — what stores? For any Christian who wants to spend hard-earned dollars with family-friendly, Christian-affirming retailers, restaurants and service providers, the list is growing shorter all the time.”

Harvey urged readers to avoid stores such as Macy’s, Target, Walmart and JC Penney, along with items from Mattel, Levi-Strauss and General Mills. For online shoppers, Harvey said that Amazon, Google and Facebook should also be off-limits.

Companies that post high scores on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, Harvey wrote, are joining “Satan’s Office Party” and “the nation’s leading self-declared enemies of Christians.”

Isn’t that sad?  I seem to have a bit of a cold, as I can not get a single tear to roll down my cheek over Linda’s plight.  Stupid tear ducts.  Also, I seem to have misplaced my tiny violin collection, which means I can not play “My Heart Bleeds for You” for her on the world’s tiniest violin.

So if any of you have a single tear to spare, or a little violin to condescendingly play for her, feel free to correct my oversights.

 

 

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.