The Honesty Was Nice While It Lasted

So here is the title of the original post I was writing about this:

Trump Says Something Anti-Abortion Activists Have Been Drooling for Decades to Hear a Politician Say, Anti-Abortionists Promptly Do What They Do Best: Lie.

Yeah, that’s a mouthful.  But since this is Foster Disbelief and not The Daily Mail, I decided to scrap it and start over.

For some reason Donald Trump, the(gag) front running candidate for the Republican presidential (I just threw up a little) nomination, had a sit down interview with Chris Matthews the other day.  I didn’t watch it.  I actually stayed as far away from the television as I possibly could when MSNBC aired the interview.  No thank you.  I can suffer through a Trump interview to see if anything is newsworthy.  I can tolerate watching Chris Matthews on MSNBC because I respect the other voices that make up MSNBC’s political coverage.  Matthews interviewing Trump is just a black hole of idiocy that I won’t even pretend I would willingly put myself through.    (Seriously, listening to Matthews go on about the possibility of a Clinton/Kasich unity ticket during one night of MSNBC’s primary coverage had me contemplating either switching to Fox News or puncturing my ear drums with an ice pick.  He’s the liberal answer to Bill O’Reilly.  Something that, along with the ideological purity police, is something we really don’t need.)

And seemingly for no reason but to punish me and force my poor ears to hear clips of the interview all week, Trump decided to show anti-abortion activists that he really was one of them, honestly, scout’s honor, no take backs, no crossed fingers, he swears.

At a taping of an MSNBC town hall that will air later, host Chris Matthews pressed the Republican presidential front-runner Trump for his thoughts on abortion policy. Trump said he’s in favor of an abortion ban, explaining, “Well, you go back to a position like they had where they would perhaps go to illegal places, but we have to ban it,” according to a partial transcript from Bloomberg Politics.

Matthews asked if there would be a punishment for women who received abortions if they were made illegal. Trump responded, “There has to be some form of punishment.” He elaborated that the punishment would have “to be determined” and the law will depend on the upcoming Supreme Court confirmation battle and the 2016 election.

Matthews, to his credit (I feel dirty for typing that), was all over Trump like a bad toupee rather than allowing the reality show star to word salad his way out of the question.  Progressives immediately held it up as yet another extremist view held by Trump,  Wow, that’s a surprise.  Liberals were going to disagree with Trump’s position on abortion no matter what he said.  Trump’s running as a Republican, which means he has to be “pro-life.”  (What a great political system we’ve built on the corpses of the founding fathers.  Sigh.)  What was surprising was the response by anti-abortion activists as they rushed to distance themselves from Trump.

The central goal of the pro-life movement may be to eliminate abortion, but to the vast majority, the responsibility doesn’t lie with the woman getting an abortion, but the doctor who is providing it.

Even the most staunch pro-life groups were quick to express their disappointment with Trump’s initial statements. Susan B. Anthony List and March for Life, two of the country’s most prominent anti-abortion groups, tweeted that women who have abortions need “healing and compassion” and that punishment is “solely for the abortionist who profits off of the destruction of life.”

Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Pro-Life Action League and a long-time pro-lifer, says that the responsibility of an illegal abortion “should fall on abortion providers, not the women who turn to them in desperation.”

“If Donald Trump is going to run successfully as a pro-life candidate, it’s time he started listening to the pro-life movement,” he says.

Trump’s Republican rivals said much of the same.

“But of course women shouldn’t be punished,” Republican candidate John Kasich said. “I don’t think that’s an appropriate response. It’s a difficult enough situation.”

Fellow GOP presidential hopeful Ted Cruz echoed Scheidler’s sentiments, saying in a statement that being pro-life isn’t just about the “unborn child,” but the mother as well – something that is “far too often neglected.” The movement, he said in a statement, is about “creating a culture that respects her and embraces life.”

“Of course we shouldn’t be talking about punishing women; we should affirm their dignity and the incredible gift they have to bring life into the world,” he said.

Me thinks the activists doth protest too much.  The only reason pro-life people claim they don’t want the woman punished is because that is a horrifically unpopular position in the larger population.  I am sure some anti-abortion activists honestly do not want the woman punished beyond being forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term, just as I’m also sure some of them really want to reduce the amount of abortions and would support proven programs such as Colorado’s IUD program,  and some of them think those who shoot abortion providers are murderers.

And if the majority of anti-abortion activists share those beliefs, if they truly want to end abortion and not punish women for being sexually active, if they’re “pro-life” position prohibits the assassination of providers and the bombing of clinics, then those people need to make that clear and stop providing cover for the more extreme members of their movement.

It is the same argument I make to “moderate” Christians.  Shrugging your shoulders and saying that the gay haters aren’t “real Christians” doesn’t cut it.  In fact, going from the Bible, most of the time the fundamentalists have more textual support for their position.  Hey “moderate pro-lifer?”  When you call abortion “murder” and insist it is the “American Holocaust,” you are giving coverage to the clinic bombers and doctor killers, just as the moderate Christian who argues for the infallibility of the Bible protects the anti-gay bigots.

Watching Ted Cruz attack Trump over this issue is even more rich.  The “Pro-Lifers for Cruz” coalition that Ted loves pointing out, is co-chaired by the president of Operation Rescue, Troy Newman.  Newman wrote the book “Their Blood Cries Out,” which was written before anti-abortionists began softening their language to find more support.  Here’s a telling passage (and I urge you to read the whole article from Right Wing Watch.)

While Newman never explicitly calls for the execution of women who have had abortions, as he does abortion providers, he makes very clear that he sees these women as equally culpable for the supposed crime.

He tells the story of a woman in California accused of paying two men $1,000 and some “sexual favors” to murder her husband. Both the woman and the men who executed the hit, he reports, received the same sentence. How, Newman asks, is this different from abortion?

There was no outpouring of public concern from the community declaring her a victim of society. There were no help centers set up to give aid to all future contract killers so that they might find alternatives to murdering their husbands. The churches did not welcome her on the condition that neither of the parties would discuss the crime. There was no legislation brought forward by the National Organization for Women to pardon her and all future murderesses. There was no sympathy publicly expressed for her — only the satisfaction that comes from witnessing justice.

Why, then, do we consider any differently the women who seek to hire killers to murder their pre-born children? Why the hesitancy to say that not only the mothers, but also the fathers who willfully abort their babies, are guilty of murder? Why is there such outrage expressed at the notion that those who know of the crime but do not intervene, like most of the churches in America, share a portion of the guilt?

Who holds the fathers, the mothers, the neighbors, the pastors, and the bystanders guilty? Who would dare?

God can! God does!

By comparing abortion directly to any other act of premeditated contract killing, it is easy to see that there is no difference in principle. However, in our society, a mother of an aborted baby is considered untouchable where as any other mother, killing any other family member, would be called what she is: a murderer.

..

When Newman endorsed Cruz, Ted was quick to play up the endorsement on his campaign website.
“I am grateful to receive the endorsement of Troy Newman,” Cruz said. “He has served as a voice for the unborn for over 25 years, and works tirelessly every day for the pro-life cause. We need leaders like Troy Newman in this country who will stand up for those who do not have a voice.”
How extreme is Newman?

“Today’s scheduled execution of Paul Hill is not justice, but is another example of the judicial tyranny that is gripping our nation. A Florida judge denied Rev. Hill his right to present a defense that claimed that the killing of the abortionist was necessary to save the lives of the pre-born babies that were scheduled to be killed by abortion that day. Our system of justice is based upon ‘innocent until proven guilty,’ but in Rev. Hill’s case, there was no justice because the court prevented him from presenting the legal defense that his conduct was justifiable defensive action.

“There are many examples where taking the life in defense of innocent human beings is legally justified and permissible under the law. Paul Hill should have been given the opportunity to defend himself with the defense of his choosing in a court of law. [Operation Rescue West press release, 9/3/03, via Media Matters]

How about banned from Australia extreme?

Troy Newman, the president of Operation Rescue, had been scheduled to begin a speaking tour in Australia on Friday. But immigration officials canceled his visa before he left the United States after Australian politicians raised concerns that he might encourage violence against abortion providers or women seeking the procedure.

He managed to board a flight from Los Angeles despite not having a valid visa but was detained by immigration officers at Melbourne Airport while trying to enter the country on Thursday.

[…]

Terri Butler, a Labor member of the Australian Parliament, had called for the government to revoke Mr. Newman’s visa this week. In a letter to Mr. Dutton, she cited passages from a book that Mr. Newman co-wrote that called for abortion doctors to be executed. [New York Times10/2/15]

Anti-abortion activists may spend the whole week screaming that they don’t want women punished for having an abortion.  Just like they claim they aren’t against contraception when it serves their purposes, just like they claim they are against violence in the aftermath of each clinic bombing or doctor assassination.

What matters is their language when no one is watching.  The stuff they say when they are surrounded by only true believers.  As they continue to escalate the debate with inflammatory language.  As they publish the names and home addresses of providers.  As they unscientifically claim one contraception method after another is actually abortion.

It is about ending abortion.  It is also about taking reproductive control away from women and forcing them back into the kitchen.  If it was honestly all about abortion we live in a nation that is rich enough to practically eliminate elective abortions.  Abortion could be nothing but a procedure that occurs only during the current “exceptions.”  Rape, incest and the life of the mother or non-viable pregnancy.  We could provide every woman of reproductive age contraception.  We could turn abortion into an incredibly rare procedure, rather than one that is more common than anyone realizes.  But there’s no slut shaming involved there, and it doesn’t serve to reinforce the patriarchy.

Trump says some insane shit.  Trump takes some extreme positions.  Don’t buy the lie that this (even though he did walk it back later) is one of them.  This is a mainstream belief in the GOP.  It just isn’t one they like outsiders to know about.

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

WotW-Gate: Why are We So Quick to Call Rape Victims “Liars?”

Unless your mind is unconsciously, or consciously for some reason, choosing to ignore reality, you have probably noticed that practically every rape case covered in the media includes some element insinuating, if not outright declaring, that the victim is lying about the crime in question.  In fact, if you were to form an opinion only from the information presented in the media, you could be forgiven for assuming that the United States was experiencing an avalanche of false rape accusations.  And yes, people do lie about being raped.  People have been known to lie about being the victims of just about every crime short of murder, and I’m sure a few enterprising liars figured out ways to claim they were murdered as well.  But the idea that we are experiencing an epidemic of false rape allegations would be laughable if it didn’t make it more difficult for the victims to get justice.

How many rape victims are lying?  The truth is, sadly, that we don’t know.  A quick spin at Google University  gives numbers ranging from 2% or 8% on the low end to 25% or 40% on the misogynist MRA end.  Megan McArdle  at Bloomberg View tried to make sense of it in 2014, yet, in my opinion at least, fell victim to her ideology filter, quickly dismissing the 2% number:

Here’s what we do know: The 2 percent number is very bad and should never be cited. It apparently traces its lineage back to Susan Brownmiller’s legendary “Against Our Will,” and her citation for this figure is a single speech by an appellate judge before a small group of lawyers. His source for this statistic was a single area of New York that started having policewomen conduct all rape interviews. This is not data. It is an anecdote about an anecdote.

In the very next line she goes on to praise a study MRA sites point to that sets the number at 41%, although to her credit she does point out that study’s incredibly small sample size.  (Small like the average penis size of MRAs.)  She then dismisses the 8% statistic as well as just about every other statistic, citing the ideology of the study’s author.

This number should be used only with grave caution.

But so should any other numbers, such as the 8 percent figure that is commonly attributed to the FBI. When you dig into the research itself, you find it is often heavily inflected with the authors’ prior beliefs about what constitutes the “real problem”: unreported cases of rape or false reports?

I agree with her to a certain extent.  Statistics can be made to say just about anything you want them to, and the higher percentages cited almost certainly owe much to author bias.  The problem, however, is that there are some good studies out there, and she seems to flippantly dismiss the lower numbers, especially the 2% number, which I have a hard time believing only comes from an old, minor speech.  The truth is probably somewhere in the 2% to 8% range, which is where most studies I have seen seem to put it.  I tend to think it is higher than 2%, not because women be lying, but because the vast majority of rapes go unreported, which I think would skew the data a bit.

From a South African site:

MYTH: Women say they have been raped to get revenge on a man.

The truth is that women very rarely do this, as reporting rape to the authorities and going through a rape trial are very traumatic. It takes a lot of courage to report a rape and go through with a rape trial. Other people often make rape victims feel ashamed or guilty about the rape, which makes it even less likely that a woman would lie about rape. Statistics show that number of false reports of rape is the same as any other crime.

TRUTH: People lie about all crimes, not just rape. The number of people that lie about being the victim of a crime is very small.

From a feminism 101 site:

For those who stubbornly wish to believe that bitches be lyin’, I can point them at studies. I have before and will again. But in the future, I will first make them chew on this “false” rape allegation statistic until their teeth break.

CONTENT NOTE FOR ABOVE LINK: Massive trigger warning for graphic description of violent sexual assault and horrific treatment by law enforcement

Now, some of them will spit out that report along with their shattered teeth and flap their bleeding gums at me: “That’s just an anecdote.” And that is true. It is just one data point behind the 2-8%. Since we are Good Skeptics™, we know to look beyond anecdotes.

So let me add in a study of police attitudes toward rape victims. It would seem EEB isn’t alone, then. And if we could factor in the victims who never reported at all because of shit like this, that “false” rape allegation statistic would drop like a rock. Since they don’t, the statistics are skewed, making “false” allegations look more prevalent.

Now add the horrific treatment victims experience from defense attorneys who believe they’re scum. I can tell you from experience this can be worse than the rape. It can be a form of torture, and like torture victims, some rape victims will recant just to make the pain stop. Magically, their allegation is now “false.” But they’re no less raped, and the rapist is no less a sexual predator.

Add in the fact that some rapists have the lock on society, and can crush their victims. If their victims had the courage to report, they’ve soon got their buddies to sweep the crime under the rug. And another several ticks are added in the “false” rape allegation column.

Add in children who receive such a terrifying reaction to their attack that they recant just to protect themselves. More “false” rape allegations.

What about victims who aren’t supported by friends and family because many cultures make it easier to believe the victims are filthy, disgusting, crazy liars rather than people suffering from sexual assault? I think you know what happens to the statistics by now.

Add in the fact that some police departments don’t make a distinction between “reports that are actually, genuinely, provably false” and “reports that can’t be prosecuted due to statute of limitations, lack of evidence, or some other reason, but no doubt the victim was assaulted.” Both numbers end up counting under “false” allegations, although a sizable percentage weren’t false at all.

Back in 2014, after the Rolling Stone rape article debacle, a graphic was making the Twitter rounds that claimed to visually show rapes, false accusations, trials and convictions.  While popular (no, I’m not posting it because it is huge and I’ve already taken up a lot of space for this post.  You can see it at the upcoming link.), it received 3 Pinocchios from the Washington Post’s fact check site, which claimed that it was misleading and contained incorrect data.  I bring this up not because of the infographic itself, but rather this quote the Washington Post made while slamming the chart: (bolding by me)

False reporting is a difficult number to measure. The Enliven Project uses 2 percent of “falsely accused” cases, out of the 100 reported cases of rape. There is an important distinction that must be made here, between accusations and reports. “Accusations” may refer to claims that were not made in official police reports, whereas “reports” generally refer to cases that were filed with law enforcement.

That, again, seems to be the lower end of the estimate range. The “Making a Difference” Project, which used data collected by law enforcement agencies over 18 to 24 months, found 7 percent of cases that were classified as false. That study is the “only research conducted in the U.S. to evaluate the percentage of false reports made to law enforcement,” according to the National Center for the Prosecution of Violence Against Women. Other studies also estimate somewhere between 2 and 10 percent.

It’s quotes like that that convince me the truth is far closer to the 2% to 8% range than the MRA nightmare numbers.  Unless you called the police to report that your illegal drugs were stolen, I have a hard time imagining a crime where the victim is treated as poorly as we treat rape victims.  Even then, they wouldn’t ask you what you were wearing or if you asked the thief to steal your drugs then changed your mind.  Honestly, knowing the way victims are blamed, questioned, looked at, and outcast in many cases, along with the incredible likely hood that the rapist is going to get away with it anyway, I’m surprised the number of rapes reported isn’t, sadly, even lower.

When someone reports a burglary, we do not immediately assume the victim trashed their own house and hid the valuables in order to commit insurance fraud.  When someone is hit by a hit and run driver, we don’t immediately jump in with the thought that maybe they wrecked their car and injured themselves in an attempt at claiming disability.  When a store says they are having problems with shoplifters, we don’t assume they are lying so they have an excuse to raise prices.

Yet every single rape case that is covered by the media, I have to listen to someone accuse the victim of lying.  The women who are accusing Cosby?  They all just want money apparently.  Jameis Winston and Ben Roethlisberger?  Innocent little angels who almost fell victim to evil gold-digging whores.  It doesn’t matter what the facts are of the case, someone will claim the victim is lying.  Did a 14 year old girl get filmed being raped while passed out by three members of the high school football team?  (Hypothetical case here, not making mistakes about Steubenville)  Oh, that girl was a slut who consented before she passed out and just doesn’t remember.  And this isn’t only an issue with women victims, either.  Every time a new priest is accused of sexually assaulting a child in the past, the victim is accused of only wanting to cash in on the molestation gravy train.  Living as close to State College as I do, where Joe Paterno was treated at the minimum as a minor deity, I heard claims about the men accusing Jerry Sandusky ranging from the usual “they just want money” to the batshit tinfoil insane “they were paid by a shadowy Penn State booster who realized the team could never be great again with Paterno as coach to start a scandal that would force PSU to fire him, an act most locals considered unthinkable. Hell, it may even have been Penn State’s own athletic director!”

Even if the rape is believed, or in the cases where there is undeniable proof, the rapist can receive more sympathy than the victim.  I’ve heard very little sympathy for Jerry Sandusky after the facts of the case all came out, although it sadly still exists, but as a cultural Catholic I have heard many justifications for the child molesting priests, which, anecdotally of course, seem to mainly consist of “yeah, he made a mistake, but look at all the good he has done!  Doesn’t that kind of even it out?  And I’m sure he confessed his sins to God and was forgiven, so who are we to judge.”  And how can anyone forget this quote out of the Steubenville case?  (Hopefully no one can, and if they can, I will do my part in reminding people of it when I can.  Seriously, was CNN channeling their inner Fox News?

During the course of the delinquent verdict on March 17, 2013, CNN’s Poppy Harlow stated that it was “Incredibly difficult, even for an outsider like me, to watch what happened as these two young men that had such promising futures, star football players, very good students, literally watched as they believed their lives fell apart…when that sentence came down, [Ma’lik] collapsed in the arms of his attorney…He said to him, ‘My life is over. No one is going to want me now.'”

Aw.  Were their promising little futures all derailed?  O M G, we are so mean to convicted rapists, seriously!

How did we get to this point?  What can we do about it? WTF is WotW-gate anyway?

As many of you know, I am a huge fan of A Song of Ice and Fire, the book series that HBO’s Game of Thrones is based on.  I was a huge fan of the show as well, and I am not ashamed to admit that I only found the books through the show.  WotW-gate is just a fandom kerfluffle that, to be quite honest, is probably meaningless to most of my readers.  But I did want to touch on it mainly because of this “trend” our culture seems to be following now of insinuating that rape victims, even non-pregnant ones who are not seeking an abortion, are lying about the rape.  I want to be clear that I do not know any of the people involved.  I have had a few quick conversations (and even calling them that is a stretch) with the blogger at GoTgifsandmusings about other subjects, have had even shorter conversations with the blogger at The Cultural Vaccum, and started to get my news about Game of Thrones exclusively from Watchers on the Wall once they broke away from Winter is Coming, although my visits to WotW have shrunk significantly since the horror that was Season Five.  (WotW is way too show apologetic for my tastes, so I mainly avoid it now.  I don’t blame them for that though, if my actual job was running a GoTs fan site, I wouldn’t chase away my traffic by harshly criticizing the show either.  I’d like to say that I would quit instead, but that is an easy claim to make when you have no skin in the game.)  While I find myself occasionally enjoying a tweet from AngryGoTfan, we are pretty much opposites politically and have never communicated.  I also do not know the author of A Rape Victim Speaks Out on the Sansa Scene, which is the post that started WotW-gate.  Never met her, never talked to her, and have no idea as to her identity.  What I am saying is that I do not have proof to rub in anyone’s face over this idiocy.

Here’s the story in a nutshell.  (You can find much more information on it at GoTgifsandmusings, I am just giving the bare bones of the situation.)

  • The “Let’s rape Sansa Stark for no real reason” episode of GoT’s aired, causing several members of the fandom to give up on the show.
  • AngryGoTfan published an anonymous, long post from a rape survivor detailing the emotions watching that scene caused her to have.
  • Some show apologists in the fandom responded to this post in several ways, including comments like “shut up,” “nuh uh,” “people get raped in the books, why doesn’t that make you cry,” “grow a thicker skin,” and “wow, you are lying about getting raped to critique my show?  I call foul!”
  • A conspiracy theory evolves that states the whole 6500 word article was actually written by AngryGoTfan, sock-puppetting as a rape victim so he can…..? Continue bitching about a show he was already bitching about?
  • WotW’s Editor-in-Chief Sue the Fury decides that the above conspiracy theory is the truth and claims to have proof that AngryGoTfan is the author.
  • The author of the post, who has been in internet contact with GoTsgifsandmusing for a while now, attempts to convince Sue the Fury that she actually exists.  She is instead blocked on Twitter.
  • The author reaches out to GoTgifsandmusings, who attempts to contact Sue the Fury and is blocked.
  • Sue the Fury states these people are all AngryGoTfan’s minions sent to attack her.
  • The author of the article continues feeling marginalized and victimized, and now can’t even seem to convince people of her existence without outing herself on the internet or giving her personal information to someone she obviously can’t trust not to reveal that information.

Now I will admit that it is possible that Sue the Fury, and the conspiracy theory are correct.  But read that 6500 word post and ask yourself if it sounds like the words of a rape victim, or a conservative male pretending to be a rape victim.  If that is really AngryGoTfan, then I am impressed.  Disgusted of course, but impressed as well, because to me, it sounds legitimate.

So yeah, it is possible that Angry wrote that post just to add on to his criticism of the show, and I suppose it is possible that he then opened up a conversation with GoTgifsandmusing and convinced her, through in depth written conversations, that he was actually a woman who was raped in the past.  I just don’t think it’s very likely.  Criticism of season five wasn’t exactly hard to come up with.  Why take the risk of sock-puppetting the tale of a rape survivor?

But what really confuses me in this case, honestly, is Sue the Fury’s response.  The post wasn’t going to hurt Game of Thrones and then trickle down into hurting WotW’s page views.  Not only has the show survived criticism over rape in the past, but it remains the darling of critics.  Those of us book readers who feel the show jumped the shark are an extreme minority when compared to the massive audience that watches the show, legally and illegally.  I don’t see why this got a response from Sue in the first place.  Sure, if she really hated AngryGoTfan that much, if she had proof that he wrote the post and released it she could single-handedly  strip his site of all credibility,  but that proof hasn’t been posted, just the accusation.

And without that proof, I just do not see an upside for Sue, in a sea of possible land mines.

But that’s the rape culture we apparently live in, where every rape victim is a liar until proven honest.

Sigh.

Two Quick Things.

First off, greetings m’lord, how’s the fog and  rain?  Not sure what caused the rather large influx of visitors from the U.K., but I’m not complaining.  Some of my fondest memories occurred on the British Isles.

Of course, that’s not enough to warrant a post, so….

Progressives, liberals, or whatever you prefer to call yourselves.  Can we please get off Ahmed Mohamed‘s underage dick?

He built a clock.  Yeah, the school’s response was idiotic, especially since they knew damn well it wasn’t a bomb (cause if they actually would have any doubts, you can bet the school would have been evacuated and the bomb squad called in to make sure), but it isn’t like this is the first time a school has responded idiotically to a zero threat situation.  Yeah, a lot of the stories the right’s outrage machine cranks out are false.  Kids don’t get suspended for reading the Bible, or praying silently at their desk.  But a girl did get strip searched over an Advil and a kid did get suspended for chewing his Pop Tart into a gun like shape.  I don’t remember either of them getting invitations to the White House, though the right did admittedly try to make the Pop Tart Bandit into a poster child for something or other.  (Which was every bit as ridiculous as the left making the Clock kid into a celebrity.)

Let’s be honest.

Photo provided by the Irvine, Texas, Police Department of the digital clock that 14-year-old Ahmed Mohammed made from a pencil case.
Photo provided by the Irvine, Texas, Police Department of the digital clock that 14-year-old Ahmed Mohammed made from a pencil case.

That is awesome.  When I was 14, if I would have built something like that I would have been proud as well, and I would have also wanted to show it off.  But in a post-9/11 America, where people are on edge and taught to report any unattended package, can you kinda understand how someone may look at that and get a bit freaked out?  Hell, first time I saw the picture, with no background information, I thought it was a fake bomb.  I would have still brought it in to show my science teacher, but I first would have explained to him/her what I was bringing in before hand.

Was the school’s response colored by a healthy dose of Islamophobia?  Yeah, probably.  Is it sad that we live in a country where I would urge any young person, no matter their race or religion, not to bring an awesome science project to school if anyone could possibly mistake it for a bomb?  Yep, definitely.  National paranoia doesn’t make us safer, just less free.  Depending on racial/religious profiling to prevent terrorism just increases the likelihood that the people behind the next attack don’t fit into those categories.  Protip: Not every Islamic terrorist looks like the stereotypical Islamic terrorist.  Do you think they can’t read or listen to the news?  That they are unaware that we pay special attention to those who “look terroristy?”That all, or even most terrorists are Islamic?  *cough*OklahomaCity*cough*

Ahmed Mohammed never should have been put in handcuffs.  The school’s reaction was insane.  But all “zero tolerance” policies are insane, just like mandatory minimum sentences are insane.  But he isn’t a “hero,” just another victim of the “zero tolerance” society we are creating.  I’m reluctant to do any victim blaming here, because I am far from convinced the school would have had the same reaction if he would have been Christian and white.

So yeah, feel free to continue bitching about a “zero tolerance” system that routinely treats kids like criminals for nothing.  But get off this kid’s dick already.  He’s underage.

Wonderful, Rational, and Above All Else, Fair. Our Justice System.

Seeing how I come from the county that handed down a totally reasonable 104 1/2 to 216 year prison sentence (not a typo, and not the only insane sentence for drug distribution to come out of Blair County courts) for non-violent drug offenses while imposing an excessively harsh, borderline unconstitutional sentence of 3 to 23 months in jail, followed by 5 years of probation for the indecent assault of a five year old girl, I figured there was nothing the US justice system could do that would surprise me.  Wow, how wrong I was.

And so it was that in February, the two teenagers were arrested for sexually exploiting … themselves.

Wait, what now?

The strange story began last year when the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office was investigating accusations of a statutory rape involving students at Douglas Byrd High School in Fayetteville, N.C., according to the Fayette Observer.

As part of a broad investigation, Sheriff’s deputies examined the cellphone of Cormega Copening, a star football player who was then 16 years old.

The deputies didn’t find any evidence relating to the alleged statutory rape. What they did find, however, were consensually taken nude photos of Copening and his girlfriend, Brianna Denson, also 16 at the time.

(The Post is using the teenagers’ names because they have been charged as adults. They did not return requests for comment.)

Just as a quick aside.  How “broad” was their investigation into this statutory rape to justify them seizing this kid’s cellphone?  And then they charge him with a crime over pictures they found on his phone unrelated to the case they were investigating?  That may be legal, but you will never convince me that it is ethical.  Moving on….

In almost any other state, such consensually taken photos would be completely legal or, at worst, a misdemeanor. But in North Carolina, Copening and Denson came up against a counterintuitive confluence of laws.

“In North Carolina you are considered an adult at 16 years old as far as being charged,” Swain said. “But to disseminate and receive sexually explicit texts, photos or videos, you must be over 18.”

And so it was that in February, the two teenagers were arrested for sexually exploiting … themselves.

North Carolina to the teens: “Sex?  Sexting?  Don’t you kids know you could ruin your lives doing this stuff?  Here, let us ruin your lives to show you.”

Charging documents listed Copening as both the culprit (as an adult) and the victim (as a minor), simply for snapping a nude photo of himself in the mirror and sending it to his girlfriend.

“Copening’s age traps him in a sort of sexting legal netherworld,” wrote North Carolina Lawyers Weekly. “He’s accused of exploiting a minor (himself), but because North Carolina is one of just two states that automatically tries 16-year-olds as adults, he’s being tried as an adult.”

So as we try to wrap our minds around the idea of sexually exploiting yourself, at least we can take solace in the knowledge that as ridiculous as these charges are, at least they aren’t serious.

All told, prosecutors charged Copening with five felony counts of sexually exploiting a minor: two for taking nude selfies, two more for sending them to his girlfriend, and one for possessing an explicit photo of Denson on his phone. Denson, meanwhile, was charged with two felony counts of sexual exploitation of a minor: one for taking a nude selfie and another for sending it to Copening.

The felony charges meant that Copening faced up to 10 years in prison, if convicted; Denson faced up to four. They also could have been labeled sex offenders for life.

Jesus fucking Christ on a pogo stick.  Hasn’t this prosecutors office ever heard of judgement calls?  Why the hell did they even file these charges?  Are they black or something?  (Yep.)

While the existence of the internet resulted in the accused couples prom(?) pictures to be plastered on newspapers across the world, it also made damn sure that this case wouldn’t be yet another example of prosecutorial misconduct heard of by no one except those involved.  Thankfully, in this case the outcry may be loud enough to change future applications of the law.

The case quickly drew intense criticism, both in Fayetteville community and around the globe.

“We’ve got too much big crime in this community to put this kind of effort into wrecking two kids’ lives,” wrote the Fayetteville Observer’s editorial board, recommending the statutes be amended. “This should never happen again to anyone.”

Legal scholars lined up to pick apart the prosecution’s case. Many focused on the sheer absurdity of the situation.

“It’s dysfunctional to be charged with possession of your own image,” Justin Patchin, a professor of criminal justice at the University of Wisconsin and cyberbullying expert, told the Guardian. “I don’t think it should be a criminal offense where there is no victim.”

“You’re talking about millions of kids being charged with child pornography” if the law were applied nationwide, psychologist Jeff Temple of the University of Texas Medical Branch told the Fayette Observer.

Others delivered even starker assessments.

“It’s ludicrous,” Fred Lane, a computer security and privacy expert, told the Guardian. “It’s crazy. It’s an overreach.” He explained that such laws stem from the 1983 Supreme Court decision upholding a ban on child porn, but that many state laws were woefully outdated in our current era of cellphones and texting.

Sgt. Sean Swain is not impressed with the outcry.  In what is sure to earn a nomination for “Most Ludicrous Comment by Law Enforcement Personnel, 2015,” Sgt. Swain insists that he is saving these poor, misguided kids by arresting them for multiple felonies.  Seriously.  (Bolding, as always, is mine.)

“This technology and this problem that we’re having with this case, we don’t know where it’s going to go in five years when they apply for college,” Swain said. “We don’t know where these pictures are going to go. We’re more or less saving the kids from themselves because they’re not seeing what’s going to come down the road.”

Oh, fuck off.  Or for a less vulgar response, here is U. of Miami law professor Mary Anne Franks:

“This [case] demonstrates an utter failure to understand the nature of sexual exploitation,” she wrote in an e-mail to The Post. “Consensual sexual activity among peers should not be a crime; we should not allow our social hysteria over teen sexual activity to justify prosecutions that will destroy teenagers’ lives ‘for their own good.’

….

“Sexual activity that does not even involve another person — such as taking a sexually explicit photo of yourself — should not ever be a crime. In fact, criminalizing such expression likely violates the First Amendment,” she said. “Child sexual exploitation laws were clearly designed to address the exploitation of children by adults, not teenagers exploring their sexuality on their own or with a willing peer.”

Officials would be better off focusing on numerous instances of people maliciously sharing explicit photos or videos against the wishes of those depicted, so called “revenge porn,” she said.

“Non-consensual sexual activity, on the other hand, including the creation or distribution of private sexual images, is wrong and should be a crime. This should be the focus of law enforcement, yet North Carolina does not yet even have a law prohibiting this conduct,” Franks said.

What makes me even more sick over this case?  Rather than risk their futures in a legal fight, they both signed plea deals.

….

both teens have taken plea agreements in order to avoid trial. In July, Denson pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of “disseminating harmful material to minors.” If she stays out of trouble for the next year, her record will be wiped clean and she will avoid the label of sex offender.

Copening followed suit earlier this month, pleading guilty on Sept. 4 to two similar misdemeanor counts in exchange for the same deal.

Now let’s watch the authorities responsible justify their actions.

“The legislature makes the law; I enforce it,” Cumberland County District Attorney Billy West told the Fayette Observer. “The legislature has obviously criminalized the conduct, arguably at a more serious level than we resolved the case at.”

Similarly, Sheriff Moose Butler told the newspaper that he didn’t necessarily agree with the felony charges but that it was his duty to enforce the law as it’s written.

While the actual author of the law just rolls his eyes.

But the man who wrote the law back in 1990 said he never intended for it to be used against kids in a consensual relationship.

“That would seem to me not the thing that most prosecutors are elected to do,” said North Carolina state Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam of West’s decision to prosecute the two teens.

Seriously, that justification from DA West is laughable.  He’s telling us that he has never made a judgement call while in office?  Bullshit.  By his logic, why does it even matter who the DA even is if all they do is mindlessly follow a set of guidelines handed down by the legislature?

 

Hey Bigots! Can I Have Some Bigot Cake as Well?

Remember Melissa and Aaron Klein?  They are the owners of Sweet Cakes By Melissa, an Oregon bakery that shot to national infamy by refusing to bake a cake for the local Satanic cult’s 3rd Annual Fetus Cook-Off.  The cake was to celebrate the addition of Planned Parenthood as a Gold level sponsor of this year’s event, and….  Yeah, actually they refused to make a wedding cake for two women because Jesus said very plainly in that book the bigoted Christians really wish existed:

“And Thee Sayeth Onto Thou, Skip a bit, brother, and thee Woman folk I command thusly; Touch no man but thou husband; be pure and chaste in all, but slut in the bed of marriage; enjoy thee not sex, but suffer through it whenever your lawful husband, your master, wishes it; know that if your husband strays, it is your fault, oh woman, once tempted led to the fall of man; God created fellatio, as a way for woman to worship her superior, and you should provide your husband nightly; cunnilingus however, is the work of Satan, never ask it of your husband; and now woman, pay close attention, for this is the key to your salvation.  Thee are permitted, encouraged even, to lick, kiss, touch, feel, fondle, poke, rub, hug, and/or suck on any part of another woman ONLY for the entertainment and pleasure of your lawful husband.  For a woman marrying a woman robs two men of their rightful property.  So spoke Jesus the Christ.  Seriously.  That is what I said.  Jesus.  That’s me.  And that is what I said.  Honest. ” – The Book of “God We Wish We Had This,” chapter 5, verses 11 to 73.

See?  It’s right there in that made up quote from that imaginary book about the mythical sky daddy who tells these people to be bigots.  It’s not their fault!

So anyway, Sweet Cakes by Melissa refused to bake the nice couple a wedding cake and possibly also told them they were abominations in the eyes of god*.  The nice couple sued, and since our judicial system doesn’t base their decisions on what they think a 2000 year old mythical figure would do, Sweet Cakes by Melissa lost and was ordered to pay close to 150k.

So everything worked out alright in the end, right?  The couple, who just wanted a wedding cake, got compensated for being discriminated against, which kinda makes up for their unwanted infamy among the Christian right wing lunatic fringe, the courts did court stuff lawfully, and the cake bakers who refused to bake cakes for people in relationships they did not approve of had to pay a hefty fine.  All’s right in the world!

Until you read this:

Sweet Cakes by Melissa was kicked off GoFundMe earlier this year, but has since raised more than $350,000 on the crowdfunding site Continue to Give. The growing total, which far exceeds the couple’s $150,000 goal, is the largest individual campaign in the history of the three-year-old site, the Washington Times reported. The couple previously netted more than $60,000 from Go Fund Me before that campaign was taken down.

What good are fines at stopping discrimination when there are a whole bunch of bigots out there all too willing to send their bigot bucks to whatever bigot needs bigot bucks at that particular moment?  It’s practically an encouragement to discriminate, a bigot safety net, there to catch bigots who face complaints and lawsuits in a big pile of bigot bucks.**

Which leads us to our next chapter in this story; what the Klein’s decided to do with the leftover cash.

This week, the owners of an Oregon bakery ordered to pay $135,000 for refusing to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple sent out 10 specially made cakes to LGBT groups.

Sweet Cakes By Melissa sent the cakes, which say “We really do love you!” in white writing over a red heart. The packages also included a DVD copy of “Audacity,” an anti-gay film, according to The Advocate. The film’s website says it “delivers an unexpected, eye-opening look at the controversial topic of homosexuality.”

“Our purpose is to express our love for them as a Christian,” bakery owner Melissa Klein wrote in an email to the Oregonian. “We don’t hate them. We also included in the package the movie Audacity. I feel it is a well done movie that shows what being a Christian is about. My hope is that they will watch it and maybe just understand our heart.  We want to show them that it’s not about not serving them it’s about not being able to partake in an event.”

audacityPic credit: Equality California

Okay, three cheers to the Kleins for a textbook example of the second definition for “audacity”:

au·dac·i·ty
ôˈdasədē/
noun
noun: audacity
  1. 1.
    the willingness to take bold risks.
    “her audacity came in handy during our most recent emergency”
  2. 2.
    rude or disrespectful behavior; impudence.
    “she had the audacity to send GLBTQ organizations a cake with the hate flick Audacity.”

I mean, spot on use of language there.  Very impressive.  Second, you fucking sent them “Audacity”?  While claiming that you love them?  Holy mixed messages, Batman.  That’s like giving your kid a kitten then running the cute, cuddly ball of fur over on purpose,  then replacing said kitten with a puppy because puppy rape is what gets you going.  “Audacity” has an incredible amount of audacity (first definition) in even calling itself a film.  Half the damn movie is Ray Comfort clips from Youtube.  My feelings on “Audacity” can be summed up as follows; if Ray Comfort came up to me with a video camera and started asking idiotic questions about sexuality, I would fuck with him like no other.  But that’s not fair, I know who he is.  If a random stranger with a video camera came up to me and started asking me insane questions on sexuality in the same tone of voice and manner of speaking as Ray Comfort, I would say whatever I thought he wanted to hear to shut him up and get him away from me before he started to shoot or stab people.  If you torture yourself into watching “Audacity,” put everyone of his interviewees in that frame of mind.  If you want the full scoop on Ray Comfort’s masterpiece of Christian cinema, Eli, Noah, and Heath review this gem on The Scathing Atheisthere. (Review starts at the 23:45 part if you don’t like well written comedy. Not that you’ll like the review then either, but I still wanted to include the time stamp.)

So let’s see, we have spot on use of language, and inflicting a film that makes God’s Not Dead look both like  Oscar bait and a subtle, nuanced work of apologetic.  We’ll add that together, carry the one, divide by the square root, multiply by the ………

I got it!

Dear Melissa and Aaron.

Please take your bigot cakes, paid for with bigot bucks, and shove them as far up each of your bigot assholes as you each can reach, you passive aggressive, condescending, holier than thou, asshatted bigots.  While Jesus has surprisingly little to say about homosexuals, considering how much time and effort Christian bigots dedicate to all things gay, your god* could be the most homophobic deity in the pantheon and it still wouldn’t give you a legitimate excuse to not bake the cake.

When you bake a cake for a wedding, you are not giving your blessing and/or seal of approval on the match being made.  No one is asking that of you.  When they ask if anyone has any objection to the wedding, they don’t frantically look around to make sure the cake baker is in the room and giving consent.  It is the same as a county clerk, except even less vital; the clerk is also not approving or blessing the union, they are just verifying that the couple is eligible to get married according to the secular law, while you are just providing a decoration that will probably be shoved into at least one of the couple’s faces.

Melissa, you are a bigot.  Unfortunately, you happen to live during a time period in America where being a bigot pays.  You may have to move to a more bigoted location, or open up a mail order business, but it is beyond certain that while many talented and driven small cake shops will fail in the coming years, you will make a decent living either baking for bigots or speaking to bigots.  But do not let yourself be fooled.  Do not buy into the lie, that you are the one being oppressed, and that you are somehow fighting a fight for religious liberty.  You are not.  You are a homophobic bigot.

Why am I so comfortable in making that statement?  Well, partially this:

When one of the reporters called and asked if the business could make two identical cakes to help a friend celebrate the grant she received for cloning human stem cells, a Sweet Cakes employee simply laughed and said, “It’ll be $25.99 each, so about $50 to start.”

A request for a cake to congratulate a friend on her divorce was also happily accepted, with a Sweet Cakes worker saying, “We can definitely do something like that.”

Sweet Cakes was even happy to take orders for cakes for a pagan summer solstice fete — complete with a green pentagram decoration — and celebrating babies born out of wedlock.

But even more than that is the simple fact that all of you “traditional marriage” people are bigots.  No one is kidnapping the men off your block and forcing them into gay marriages.  You argue for biblical marriage, yet ignore the polygamy running rampant throughout the book.  Marriages were arranged for decent chunks of history, and while clans like the Duggars long for the days when women were passed like property from one man to the next, something tells me that even most Christians are not willingly going to accept arranged marriage.  While we’re keeping things traditional, are we bringing back the dowry as well?  I’ve recently been fascinated with medieval history, and the rare cases where a King or dowager Queen marry for love are often seen as scandalous.  (For one example, the dowager Queen Katherine and Owen Tudor. Or if we’re speaking of dowry, the marriage of Henry VI to “a Queen not worth ten marks”***, Margaret of Anjou.  Ah, traditional marriage.)  If you are that concerned about “traditional” marriage, why aren’t you freaking out about interracial weddings?  Cause you’re fifty years too late?  Cause that type of bigotry isn’t acceptable in polite, Christian circles anymore?  I guess it depends on what “polite, Christian circles” you run in, does it not?****

What about divorce?  You will bake divorce cakes, and something tells me you gladly bake cakes for people’s second (and third, and fourth, and….) weddings when Jesus, your whole fucking reason for refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding, was quite clear (for once) on divorce(my bolding):

Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.

10 The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”

11 Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it. Matt 19

See, Jesus’ opinion isn’t “be fruitful and multiply,” it’s “keep it in your pants, but if you absolutely can’t stay celibate, which you definitely should, but if you can’t, I guess you can get married.”  And since he starts the chapter talking about how marriage was totes awesome according to god, who’s the enemy of traditional marriage in this story?  I’ll give you a hint.  It’s the same guy who’s on the other side of the glory hole.

Invariably, about this deep in any anti-marriage equality article, after the author has exhausted the weak arguments available to them, you find the anecdote about the author’s child (or friend’s child) finding out about gay marriage through tv/a magazine cover/ a newspaper cover/ an assigned book in school and that person having to explain something they are uncomfortable talking about to the child, and…..  Well, and then I’m not really sure.  I see this argument all the time I’m really not sure what they want.  The ability to hide reality from their child until that child is of legal age?  Here’s one recent example, from Right Wing Watch (although Wonkette covers it here as well.)

Ruse said that he started to worry when he realized that one of the chefs on Chopped “looked like a butch lesbian” and put his finger on the remote just in case he got exposed to gayness. “But this is the Food Network so we don’t have anything to worry about, right?” he said.

But it was too late. Despite his best efforts, Ruse and his daughter were forced to see a lesbian couple:

So I didn’t have my hand on the trigger fast enough when they did a hard cut to a backstory about this lesbian chef and don’t you know it she’s got her arm around her ‘wife,’ she refers to her ‘wife,’ and I was too slow in fast-forwarding. My eight-year-old Lucy, sweet Lucy, turned to me and said: ‘Did she say wife?’ And I said, ‘No, I think she meant girlfriend.’ And Lucy said, ‘I think she said life.’ God bless the innocence of this child. But they will not let us off the mat, the ideologies who want to cram this thing down our throats no matter where we go.

And it gets worse. Ruse laments that unwitting children may have had their vacations ruined by an edition of USA Today that featured a gay couple kissing:

The day after the decision of the Supreme Court was a full page photograph of two men kissing on USA Today. This is a paper that lands in front of hotel room doors all over the country, this is vacation time, families open that door, children may have opened this door to see two men kissing. They are making us explain things to our children that we don’t want to explain and they know what they’re doing, they absolutely know what they’re doing.

While Ruse complains about being persecuted by the Food Network, let’s remember that this is same anti-gay activist who condemned the United Nations for investigating “discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.”

I mean, I get the urge to protect your children.  If I had kids (and I do have nieces, a nephew, and a young cousin who’s pretty much a niece) I would want to protect them from Confederate battle flags, neo-nazis, Fox News, Westboro Baptist Church, Catholic priests, The 700 Club, guns, and poster sized pictures of aborted fetuses.  But these things all exist, and at age appropriate times, I think it is important to introduce children to the concepts.  I do not want the first time my daughter hears about a poster sized picture of an aborted fetus to be when she’s walking into a Planned Parenthood for her well-woman check and some protester is shoving it in her face.  “Traditional marriage” supporters will throw my own “age appropriate” comment right back in my face, but we aren’t talking about hardcore gay porn here.  We are speaking of the existence of a group of people who most certainly do exist.  Everyone knows a homosexual.  If you do not know a homosexual, it is more than likely because you are a bigot and the homosexuals you do know just aren’t telling you.  Chances are a few of the kids at your child’s school have gay parents.  A lesbian couple on Food Network is not an endorsement of that lifestyle.  A lip to lip kiss on the cover of a newspaper is not a religious statement.  They are just holding a mirror to society.  What evil lifestyle is the couple on Chopped displaying?  The one where you love someone and commit to them in marriage?  Those bastards.

Marriage equality is about love, consent, and equal rights under the law.  Freedom of religion means you do not have to get gay married.  Your church doesn’t have to perform gay weddings.  You and your pastor/priest can bitch about how gay marriage is going to lead to the end of the world all day long, and twice on Sunday.  You are even free, as sick as it is, to raise your kids believing that homosexuality is a sin and that gay marriage is wrong.  (Hopefully you’re not one of those bigots who will throw their child out of the house if they come out as gay.)

What you don’t get is the ability to force that belief on others.  No anti-gay prayers in school (or any prayers for that matter….and note, I am referring to official prayers, not non-disruptive silent prayers by individual students.)  If you hold elective office (or appointed office) you don’t get to refuse to do your job because Jesus.  You took an oath to obey and support the laws of our nation, not those of your book or church.  If you can’t do your job, then quit.  Save us all the trouble of firing you.  Especially when you are more than likely a “fiscal conservative” as well, and it is tax dollars you are wasting grandstanding for martyr points.  If you are a business, then you serve everyone or no one.  Simple, is it not?  Think that isn’t fair?  Well, how would you feel if I had a business and I refused to serve Christians?  Could you imagine what Bill O’Reilly would say about me?  He’d probably have David Silverman on as a guest, show the one picture of me posing with Silverman, and spend the whole segment yelling over David about how much of a treasonous bigoted scum sucking commie I was. But that whole thought experiment is meaningless to you, is it not?  Because you can not place yourself in another person’s skin.

Enjoy your bigot bucks.  Enjoy sending out your condescending cake with the bigger waste of a disc than “Free AOL” software.  Because on this front of the culture war, you lost.  You can pretend that you will out breed the progressives all you want, but most of your children will end up rejecting your bigotry.  The “Sweet Cakes by Melissa” kerfluffle will be a dark family secret, with their great grand children shockingly discovering those bigot were their ancestors, wondering what went wrong, eventually chalking it up to a different time, just as those of us did with ancestors who protested against things like interracial marriage, women’s suffrage, or ending slavery.

Now, get back to shoving that cake so deep in there that you see it in your santorum for the next year.

*While I never really thought of it before, after listening to this week’s diatribe on The Scathing Atheist, I am making a conscious effort to not capitalize “god,” except when it appears at the start of a sentence.  This is a habit I have had for ages, so please don’t mind the inconsistency as I retrain my fingers.

**Dude, I can not be the only atheist who’s retirement plan looks like this:

  • Fake conversion
  • Plead poverty/persecution due to my new found faith
  • Rake in the bigot bucks
  • Write book on my experiences in the Christian fringe movement.

Fucking ethics and morals.  I wonder how “psychics” and alt-med practitioners get rid of those pesky things.

***From the title of chapter 7 in The Wars of the Roses by Alison Weir.  Also from this book comes my personal favorite nickname for the future Queen of England, “la petite creature.” (pg 107)

****Bigotry against an “outgroup” is fascinating.  While I was growing up and during my teen years, bigotry against homosexuals was seen as the standard in my area.  It was the default assumption.  Unless you spoke up, everyone assumed you hated the “fags.”  Those who were different at all for any reason were labeled “fags.”  (Before Nirvana went mainstream, I think I was called “leather fag” more often than my actual name for a while.)  There was also a really strong undercurrent of racism, just not as automatically assumed as the homophobia.  Perhaps because while my school had (I believe, I am not getting out my yearbook) one African-American (in 1994!!!)  and two Indian-Americans in my graduating class, we were just outside of Altoona (and all hung out with people from each school) which had a much more diverse racial make up.

Now, with outright racism largely frowned upon by society and the acceptance of GLBTQ community members as actual normal people, we’re witnessing a strange outbreak of bigotry across multiple fronts as, I don’t know, bigots look for an acceptable place to release it?  From the resurgence of anti-black racism (see the comment thread on any story dealing with Trayvon Martin or Michael Brown) to the last gasps of those who desperately wish they could choke on a nice hard cock (see Brian Fischer, Ray Comfort, Kirk Cameron, et al.) to the shockingly counterproductive anti-Mexican immigrant hate coming from the GOP’s field of presidential candidates (see. well…all of them?) to the confusing issue of actual post 9/11 anti-Middle Easterner racism being lumped together and equated with legitimate criticism of the tenants of the Islamic religion, it seems society is determined to prove those who claimed we had moved beyond race, beyond bigotry as wrong as possible.  What’s the next group?  It can’t be women, although the GOP has made a go of it over the past couple of years, but women simply have too much voting power.  My guess, and we’ve definitely seen it in action before, I just think it will get much more mainstream: bigotry against the poor.  A group with almost no political power, with no money to buy politicians, that is so easily demonized (they buy steak with food stamps!  They get free phones!  Welfare mommas!  Your hard earned tax dollars, Rabble Rabble Rabble!!!)  It’s coming hard, from your local GOP candidate.  Bet on it.

***** Just a note here.  The piece on Jindal is over half done at the moment.  It hasn’t been the best week as it goes with my family and health, so I’ve been a bit behind.  I’m also just about to become unemployed,  hopefully for a very short period of time, which has been cutting into my time.  I will work on getting it up on Monday.  Thanks all for reading this!