On Patriotism and Tax Burdens

I have a question for the fuckweasels who sneer about Real Americans™, and call liberals and progressives "unpatriotic" and "anti-American" for failing to sufficiently genuflect before the golden calf of American Exceptionalism:

In a time where gigantic multinational corporations like GE and Bank of America pull in billions of dollars of profit and pay not one motherfucking red cent in taxes - indeed, they receive tax benefit! $3.2 BILLION for GE, and $1 billion for BofA - while funding for social services is being drastically slashed for "lack of funds" in the federal government, why the fucking fuck should I be patriotic?

I'm dead fucking serious.  What loyalty should I have for a country that slaps an unemployed woman - a close friend of mine who's been working temp jobs on and off when they're available while looking for steady work and scraping by on unemployment for over a year now - with an additional $14,000 in taxes, while letting multi-billion-dollar corporations practically draw a fucking salary from the taxpayers?  What love should I have for a country the vast majority of whose elected officials are wholly owned subsidiaries of the Koch Brothers, and who are thus working hard to pass laws that will further benefit corporations and the top 1% and the expense of everyone fucking else? 

I'm so fucking over this patriotism bullshit.  Boehner and the GOP have made it clear they hate me, as a woman and as a pregnancy-capable person.  The Religious Reich has made it clear that they hate me, as a woman, a pregnancy-capable person, and a queer person.  My so-called "fierce advocate", our so-called "feminist" president who I worked to help elect and voted for with great joy and enthusiasm, can't be arsed to speak so much as a token word in my defense, when he's not outright undercutting efforts to combat the aforementioned hatred.  "My" party, the Dems, have proven themselves utterly inept even with a near-supermajority in BOTH FUCKING HOUSES of Congress - see: the health insurance "reform" fiasco.  This country has a disgusting history of oppression, genocide, imperialism and colonialism, all of which goes mostly-unacknowledged in public schools because anytime someone tries to get accurate - read: less than glowingly positive - American history taught, conservatives & the privileged rush in screaming about reverse discrimination and "indoctrinating" children to hate America.  The entire tax system is basically set up to allow the rich as many loopholes as possible, while squeezing the poor of what little they have.  Republicans held the government goddamn well hostage in order to extend the Bush tax cuts - AND OBAMA COMPLETELY FUCKING FAILED TO STAND UP TO THEM ON IT - so that the superrich could keep even MORE of their obscene gobs of money, while the rest of the country is struggling through a full-on Depression. 

Conservatives like to talk about the USA like we're God's gift to the planet.  Being insufficiently patriotic and proud of our country is a kiss of death to a political campaign - remember the furor over Michelle Obama's infamous quote, "This is the first time I've been really proud of my country" or whatever the fuck it was she actually said?  But really, why are we supposed to feel this way?  Because of our conceit that we're the ones who came up with this whole freedom-and-democracy concept?  We didn't, by the way; we got it from the Greeks.  That's the only possible explanation I can come up with.  And it's not even accurate!  Oh!  Maybe it's our gigantic military cock we like to swing around all over the fucking place?  I think I'll go with that one.  Sadly, while it's vaguely impressive in sheer numbers, it's impressive in the way that a guy who has a gigantic truck with all kinds of bells and whistles he doesn't need is "impressive" - the truck makes you go "Whoa...I wonder what he's compensating for?"

Face it, fellow Americans: our country is not all that special, unless you count a spectacular degree of insularity and insufferable self-righteousness as "special".  We've got potential, sure, but we're squandering it, over and over, pissing it away in our headlong rush into the most tightly concentrated oligarchy possible. 

I'm staying, for the time being - not least because I can't afford to move, much less the costs of an international move - and while I stay, I will do everything I can to make this country - and the world - a less fucked-up place.  But I am beyond done with this whole "patriotism" shit.  You want my loyalty back, USA?  Force the corporations to pony up their fair share of dough to take care of this country they so happily exploit, so some of the tax burden can come off the middle and lower class.  It makes no sense to ask the struggling among us to carry the heaviest load, assholes.  And if the smartasses coasting on everyone else's work would step up, they wouldn't have to.  Get that sorted out, go back from being a government of, by, and for the corporations into a government of, by, and for the people...and we'll talk.

This rant brought to you by tax season and ridiculously unfair tax burdens.


Setting A Great Example: Picket The Allergic Kid!

I wish I were fucking kidding.  Apparently a group of parents of students at a Florida elementary school have had their compassion and empathy surgically removed, resulting in their willingness to fucking picket the school to try to have a first-grade girl with severe peanut allergy kicked out.

They're apparently upset because they think the procedures the school has put in place - to quite literally protect the allergic child's life, I might add - are "intrusive" and are "wasting academic time".  So, what protective measures are so onerous that they warrant community outrage and picketing the school?

Having lunches stored outside the classroom, and students having to wash their hands before coming in and after lunch.

That's apparently worth walking a picket line outside the school with signs saying things like "Our children have rights too!", "Who's paying for all of these special measures?", "Where is the happy median?", "How much academic time has your child LOST!", and, inexplicably, "No Dogs".  One parent was on-camera as saying "It's not fair for one kid to set a standard the rest of the kids have to abide by."

I don't even know what the fuck to say to this.  I genuinely don't understand how a group of parents, supposedly responsible adults, thinks it's okay to picket a school to get a kid thrown out for having a fucking allergy that could kill her.  Yes, let's teach our children to accept other people and play nice, unless you think you're being inconvenienced by someone else's disability - because as the report notes, the school is required to accommodate the girl's allergy because it counts as a disability under the ADA - and then it's time to break out the protest signs and make a huge fucking fuss and try to get them kicked out of school.

And those signs!  "Our children have rights too!"  I'm sorry, but if you think your child's right to not have to wash hir hands trumps another child's right to an education free of life-threatening circumstances, you're clearly a Republican sadly misinformed and also a gigantic douchenozzle.  "Who's paying for all of these special measures?"  What...I don't...I wasn't aware that hand soap was that expensive in Florida.  Perhaps you could take up a collection at church?  "Where is the happy median?"  Can I reach through time and space and slap you across your stupid fucking face, please?  There is no "happy median" when you're dealing with a FUCKING LIFE-THREATENING ALLERGY.  Good fucking gods, what is WRONG with you?  Your "happy median" by definition means insufficient precautions taken to protect the girl's health, which means asking for a "happy median" is asking to compromise the safety of another child so your child doesn't have to be inconvenienced.  If you really feel that's a reasonable request, you should absofuckinglutely NOT be a parent, or in fact have any responsibility for any living creature bigger than a packet of yeast for baking. 

Let me tell you about my experience with a life-threatening peanut allergy.  There was a boy at my elementary school who had a severe peanut allergy.  Parents were notified, and it was carefully explained to us that if Tim was exposed to peanuts or peanut butter or anything having peanuts in it, he could die.  Even if he didn't eat it, but one of us touched him with a hand that had peanut butter residue on it from a sandwich at lunch, he could die because that's how allergic he was.  And we all said, "Wow, that sucks.  Okay."  So accommodations were made.  You'd be amazed what kids are okay with, if you just explain that it's what has to be done to protect one of them from dying.  A couple of us grumbled when, instead of having peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at the camp we went to that year, we had baloney and cheese sandwiches instead, but that was really the extent of it.  And I'd bet the kids of these dangling taint-hairs aren't anywhere near as upset at the "inconvenience" of accommodations made for this girl as their parents are making them out to be.

But no, now they're going to absorb even more thoroughly the selfish, disablist messages of our culture through their parents' public hissy fit:  You do not ever have to accept inconvenience for anyone else's sake.  It's okay to complain and make a fuss if you're ever asked to accept minor changes in order to protect someone else's health or life.  Accessibility, despite being the law of the land (on paper, anyway), is not important.  What's important is that the abled kids aren't inconvenienced in any way by the temerity of the disabled kids to exist and participate in public life.

Go fuck yourselves, you entitled, privileged dipshits.

Selfish Women Who Don't Have Babies

But I repeat myself; of course women who don't have babies are selfish.  Not having babies is a selfish thing to do.

Can I just say how fucking sick I am of hearing that resentful undertone of blaming childless women for, like, pretty much everything that's wrong with this country?  On its face, the claim is that *abortion* is the problem.  Abortion and/or "anti-family policies", depending on who you ask, which tends to be code for contraception funding, no-fault divorce and same-sex marriage rights.

This has come up twice in my reading today, both times via Right Wing Watch (and much love to RWW for being one of the main sources of material for this lil blog of mine).  First off was former-Senator Frothy Mix, claiming that the reason Social Security is having issues is because of abortion:
“The reason Social Security is in trouble is because we don’t have enough workers to support the retirees, well, a third of all the young people in America are not in America today because of abortion, because one in three pregnancies end in abortion...these demographic trends are causing Social Security and Medicare to be underfunded.”
Damn those selfish women, having fewer babies - or having them on their own time instead of whenever they happened to get pregnant (1/3 of women who abort say it's because they're not ready for a/another child), or choosing to stop having children (60% of women who get abortions are already mothers, and 38% say they're aborting because they've completed their childbearing) instead of emulating Michelle Duggar's 18-child family.  If not for them, we'd have more workers and therefore more money in Social Security!  Although he's actually wrong; one in three women will have an abortion at some point in her life, but the total number of pregnancies (not counting miscarriages) that end in abortion is actually closer to one in five, not one in three.  Not that facts have ever stopped these assholes, but I'm still a fan of them, so. 

Shortly after that, there was the email from Tea Party Nation - I see that the Teabaggers are totally just a fiscal conservatism movement, yes, not synonymous with the current conservative movement at all, of course, and it's totally not about race or abortion or gays or any of those social issues, nope, just the taxes. /sarcasm - claiming that White America is dying out because of "public policies promoting infertility".  Like, for example, those focusing on:
...reducing unwanted pregnancies, delaying child bearing to further career goals and even promoting childlessness and promoting adoption as a better option.
Child bearing has become something distasteful to many women, an unwanted and painful experience to be avoided rather than embraced.
This is even less subtle.  The problem is clearly stated: women are avoiding childbirth instead of embracing it - well, white women, anyway, which are the ones that matter here, as the guy who wrote this is clutching his pearls over the fact that immigrant populations supposedly have a higher birthrate than white people - and trying to further their career goals and not have unwanted pregnancies.

Let me just repeat that for emphasis: this guy is outright saying that reducing unwanted pregnancies, furthering one's career goals instead of giving it all up to have babies, and childlessness are the problem, and that [white] women should be embracing the baby-making in order to keep Real Americans™ from being outbred by those undesirables brown people "immigrants, both legal and illegal."

And yet I notice that, despite rather unsubtly leaning on the premise that women in control of their fertility is bad for the economy/Social Security/white supremacy, neither of these shitballs actually really talks about women and what this would mean for us.

Because neither of them, it seems, is willing to recognize that the point of view - I hesitate to call it policy, as it's a bit nebulous for that - they're advocating comes at a very real cost to the people upon whose bodies they would see their ideals enacted.  Women's bodies, to be precise.  It's to be expected from the Religious Reich, I suppose, yet another attempt to enforce their morals on women's bodies without ever mentioning women at all, making it all about everyone who's affected except the women themselves.

Let me set this straight:  Women are not the problem here.  Not the childbearing ones, not the childfree ones.  A person may choose to have children for selfish reasons, or may choose to not have children for altruistic reasons.  Pressuring women to make a mass exodus from the workforce and put aside their birth control and have as many babies as god gives them will not fix this country, or this world. 

Of course, it would provide a nice, steady supply of expendable labor for corporations to squeeze every last ounce of profit out of.  And it would keep a solid 50% of the population under firm control and keep them from making trouble.  But if you think those are benefits, you are clearly on the wrong damn side of this war.


California Republicans: "We Will Do The Will Of The People, Even If It's Not The Will Of The People!"

You know how Republicans like their public image to be all about Real Americans™ and grassroots America versus the evil liberal elites?  They like to say they're doing the will of the people by fighting against things that help the people, like social safety nets and assistance programs.  But those who are paying attention know they're full of shit.

Like here in California, for instance.  California's legislature operates under a terrible little procedural rule that requires a 2/3 vote for the state's budget to pass*.  This leads every time to "the ransom letter", the list of demands the Republican minority requires in order to pass a budget and keep the state running.  If you've heard about CA repeatedly having late budgets and running on IOUs on a strangely regular basis, this is why, btw.  I don't think there's a single time in my adult life that the budget has come from the legislature on time.  Apparently 2009 set a record for 100 days after the deadline. 

Anyway, the full list can be read here (via).  But buried in there is a bit about gutting AB 32, California's landmark greenhouse emissions standards law that passed a couple years ago.  Big Oil, which has quite a number of refineries in California (There are 4 refineries within a 15 mile radius of where I live, for example), is not a fan of this law, for obvious reasons.  There was a pitched battle over Prop 23 this past election, which would have suspended AB 32 "until the state's economy is back on track" - which is to say never, because they'd keep manufacturing crises to justify keeping it suspended - bankrolled by Valero, which we won.  AB 32 is safe and still on the books. 

So the Legislature passed AB 32...Big Oil and the Republicans tried to use the financial crisis to get it suspended...that didn't work, and the people voted to keep AB 32 intact.  So what's their response?  To use the yearly budget fight to try to destroy AB 32 anyway.

Let me repeat that: the people voted to keep it.  So why is the party of Real Americans™ attempting to use backroom deals to override the stated will of the people? 

I guess the "will of the people" is just a soundbite to trot out when its convenient, rather than an actual principle they'll abide by.  Thanks for letting us know where you stand, CA Republicans.  Now kindly fuck off.

*Prop 25 in this past election changed it to require a simple majority, but that doesn't seem to have taken effect yet as far as I can tell, and I can't find an "effective as of" date anywhere.


Today In Conservative Hypocrisy, Part Whatever

As I may have mentioned once or twice before, so-called "crisis pregnancy centers" (CPCs) are hotbeds of anti-choice lying and manipulation aimed at doing whatever they feel is necessary to coerce women into carrying their pregnancies to term.  Pro-choicers have been saying this for quite some time, but recently - finally - lawmakers on various local levels have begun to pay attention, and a few laws have been passed - mostly on a city or county level - that compel CPCs to post a sign admitting they don't have medical staff on-site, aren't a real clinic, do not provide or refer for abortion or contraception services, or some combination or all of these things. 

Well, anti-choicers are nothing if not flaming hypocrites, so despite their hard-on for regulating every last nuance of actual clinics' functioning, they have this tendency to throw whiny hissy fits about having to be upfront about what they do and don't do.  I mean, I get it.  If your whole business model is based on the premise of lying to your clients, and someone starts forcing you to be honest, it would kind of cramp your style. 

But in reading a press release (via) about the challenge to NYC's CPC-signage law, this phrase jumped out at me:
...[O]ur suit contends that, at a minimum, the ordinance "unconstitutionally compels Plaintiffs to speak messages that they have not chosen for themselves, with which they do not agree, and that distract from and detract from the messages they have chosen to speak."
I...I just...*head explodes*. 

Does anyone else remember all those laws forcing counselors at abortion clinics to read a script set down by lawmakers, compelling them to tell women things like "terminating the pregnancy ends the life of a unique, separate, living human being" and that abortion increases their risk of breast cancer and depression, neither of which is true?  (Fun fact: in Maine and Wisconsin [253.10(3)(c)1.a.], the first fact of which women must be informed according to the script set down in law is "You're pregnant."  You learn all kinds of interesting, and by interesting I mean headdesk-inducing, things when you actually read the statutes.)

Why is it that it's okay, and commendable, and "pro-life" to require abortion clinics to pass on biased and scientifically-inaccurate information to women under the guise of "counseling" and "[mis]informed consent", but these fuckers howl bloody fucking murder when lawmakers want to require them to be honest and upfront about what services they do and don't offer or refer for?  If biased and flat-out wrong information about abortion is not being compelled "to speak messages that they have not chosen for themselves, with which they do not agree, and that distract from and detract from the messages they have chosen to speak", then fuck, I don't know what is.

But I suppose that's conservatives for you.  Now introducing the "today in conservative hypocrisy" tag!  Sadly, I have the feeling it'll get plenty of use.


I Love The Liberal Media

Where by "love" I mean "roll my eyes at so hard I am in danger of spraining something", and by "liberal media" I mean CNN, who happily continues to employ this jackass as a contributor.

You know, when an NPR executive made a comment about the rampant and virulent racism evident in the Teabagger movement, there was immediately such a hue and cry that he resigned.  Wanna take bets Erick Erickson takes no such hit to his career, despite saying shit like this [TW for sexist stereotyping of women and disablism]:
It's, apparently, the women in the Obama administration who have decided we needed to go to war in Libya. … This is typical. This is so typ-- i'm mean, I'm going to bring my inner sexist out I'm afraid tonight, some of you are going to be very upset with me. But this is like women drivers. We're going to war in Libya, we have no plan, we have no map, even if we have a map of war, um, it wasn't going to get read, they were going to pull over and ask the French apparently for help, or at least make the guy pull over and ask the French for help. This is crazy.
So when a guy at NPR points out actual but unpleasant facts about the Teabaggers, he has to resign amid scandal, but a "political analyst" highly-placed enough to be included in CNN's coverage of the State of the Union address can blame "the women" - which is a sexist dogwhistle against Secretary of State Clinton's urging Obama to do something about Gaddafi, fruit of a seed Obama himself planted as a "joke" - and make sexist jokes about "women drivers", necessarily implying that he believes women should not be making major political decisions, and thus far the response has been...?  Anyone?  Bueller?

...Yawning, cavernous, echoing silence.  Yep.  That's our liberal media for you.


FRC: Projecting So Hard, You Could Point Them At A Screen And Show Powerpoints!

Via Right Wing Watch, my favorite source for tracking the Religious Wrong's antics, comes this prayer directive from Family Research Council.  They're all whiny about the one-year anniversary of "Obamacare" and making dire promises that God is about to destroy America, no really, he's THISCLOSE now guys, any day now that fire's gonna rain down, I mean it this time...yeah, whatever.  And then there's this bit about the fight over defunding Planned Parenthood:
May God grant our House leaders courage and conviction to defend Life at any cost. May He stir consciences in the Senate and bring an unexpected miracle. May pro-abortion liberals fail in their effort to deceive America, and if a "shutdown" occurs, may they get the blame (Ex 9:13; Dt 31:6-8; Josh 23:6-9; Is 41:14-16; Jn 8:9; Eph :11-13).
When one uses phrases like "Republicans ought to draw a line in the sand," and throws the blame on the other side, for refusing to give into one's demands and let one run over them unopposed...I rather think the "other side" is not the problem. 

Dear FRC: Our side is not the one threatening shutdown.  I thought bearing false witness was against your moral code, yes?  Perhaps you should stop projecting your desires for victory "at any cost" and praying that the left takes the fall for the shutdown you people engineered, if it comes to that. 

PS:  You know one group of people that gets totally fucked in a government shutdown?  Military members and their families.  You know.  That group you venerate as the pinnacle of American valor (*cough* and try to speak for as if they are a monolithic mass *cough*) and use as a club to browbeat anyone who dares oppose America's militarism with the accusation that we are "not supporting the troops"?  Maybe you could try supporting the troops, by not making extremist demands and refusing to give so much as an inch from them even in the face of a government shutdown, hmm?  If nothing else, do it for the soldiers, you heartless fuckbags.


Dear South Dakota GOP: Go Fuck Yourselves, You Paternalistic Asshats

South Dakota Governor Daugaard signed a law today that will not only increase the required waiting period from 24 hours to 72 hours - three days - before a woman can obtain an abortion, but will also mandate a visit to a crisis pregnancy center for counseling prior to her abortion.  There are so many layers of fuckery to this I don't even know where to start.

Perhaps with the paternalistic, "Slow down there, little lady" attitude this kind of bill conveys, as if the lawmakers who drafted it and supported it really do believe women flit off for an abortion between her manicure and pedicure without giving it a second thought?  Or maybe the are you fucking kidding me-ness of not only requiring counseling, but mandating where and from whom the woman must get that counseling, explicitly funneling women into CPCs which have been proven time and again to lie, mislead, withhold information, and use emotional strongarm tactics to try to coerce women out of having abortions?  How about the barriers this will place in front of women who live in rural areas and are already having to take multiple days off work and drive hundreds of miles to the state's one and only abortion clinic?

No, I think I'll start with the juicy bit: the astounding, jaw-dropping misogyny from Rep. Roger Hunt, the bill's main sponsor.  Protect your keyboards.
"Women need to just be reminded of the fact there is a natural, legal relationship between them and their child."
You unspeakable misogynist shitstain, what the fucking fuck do you think women have between their ears, pink lace and fluffy kittehs??  I am just at a loss here.  What do you say to/about someone who apparently thinks women really are too dumb to understand what being pregnant means?  Or maybe he thinks we've got too many episodes of Sex and the City stored in our delicate ladybrains to remember the baby part between the positive pregnancy test and the abortion clinic, and need to be reminded of what we went there for?  For the love of fuck, people, does it never cross your mind that pregnant people do, in fact, know exactly what's going on inside them when they're pregnant, and that's why they want an abortion?  And what does a "natural, legal relationship" mean, anyway?  Can someone translate that from douchebaggish to English?

Then there's Gov. Daugaard's statement on the issue, not quite as jaw-dropping, but pretty eyeroll-worthy
"I think everyone agrees with the goal of reducing abortion by encouraging consideration of other alternatives...I hope that women who are considering an abortion will use this three-day period to make good choices."
What.  Just...what.  First of all, no, I think it's fair to say there are quite a number of people who do not agree with the goal of reducing abortion by attempting to manipulate women into choosing not to have them.  And "make good choices"???  Oh my fucking gods, are you talking to the adult female citizens of your state, or your ten-year-old daughter?  Because that's the kind of condescending, paternal tone I'd expect to hear a parent using with their child, not a politician to HALF HIS FUCKING CONSTITUENCY.  Gonna follow that up with a nice lil pat on the head?

On the subject of "good choices," fuck you.  I DID make a "good choice" when I chose to have an abortion instead of a baby.  I made a good choice, given my life circumstances and personal desires.  "Good choice" is a value judgment that is entirely subjective.  What constitutes a "good choice" when faced with an accidental pregnancy will differ for each woman.  It's not a one size fits all kind of thing.

And of course, if it's South Dakota and abortion, it's Leslee Unruh:
“They heard the women's cries, they listened to the women who talked about coercion and said they wanted more time to make that decision. These are women who have had abortions. And so we are thrilled that they listened, they heard, they put politics aside.”
First, to Leslee Unruh: Shut the fuck up, you self-important wanknugget.  And what do you mean, they put politics aside?  This is textbook Republican politics when they have power; their politics imposed on women's bodies.

Second, to the women she's talking about, who "wanted more time to make that decision"*:  Here's what you do, if you ever find yourself in a situation like this again.  You put the phone down, do NOT call the abortion provider, you back away, you sit your ass down and fucking think about what you want to do.  If you made a kneejerk decision about terminating a pregnancy and have come to regret it, I'm sorry for your suffering, but that's on you, and it is NOT a goddamn justification for forcing other women to suffer for your mistake.  If you "want more time", then fucking take more time.  Do it yourself, instead of crying to the state to force you to do it, to do it for you.  See, the funny thing is, pro-choicers, we're not actually trying to rush you.  The only thing rushing you is biology, which wouldn't be that much of a problem except for your anti-choice "friends" who keep pushing the legal limit back as far as they possibly can.  But say you realize you're pregnant at 6 weeks, which seems to be a fairly common point of realization.  You've still got another 6 weeks before you're out of the first trimester!  That's a month and a half.  You have plenty of goddamn time.  Take all of it if you need to. 

See, part of being an adult is that beautiful, terrible mixture of freedom and responsibility, choice and consequences.  You can make your own choices in a way you can't as a child, but the price is that you bear the responsibility for their cost.  If you make a bad choice, that sucks, and I sympathize - gods know I haven't always made good choices in my life, either - but you are responsible for it, because it was your choice. 

But laws like these, the message they send, writ large, is nothing more or less than this:  Pregnancy-capable people, we do not consider you adults capable of making difficult choices about your life and body, but children, who the state has a responsibility to protect from the consequences of your own rash actions.

Either you believe we are people, with the freedom and responsibilities of people, or you do not.  Clearly, the South Dakota legislature does not.  My sympathies for the people affected by this big bag o' fail, and good luck to the organizations intending to challenge it in court.


Christian Students Protest Losing Overtly Favored Status. Call The Waaaahhmbulance!

I wonder if any of these kids had taken whatever American Government/Civics class is taught at Giles High School.  And I wonder if that class covered the Constitution, and specifically, the religion clause in the First Amendment.  Because if they had, and if it did...the point, they have missed it.

Apparently a display of the Ten Commandments had hung in the school for about a decade, and was removed recently under threat of a lawsuit by the ACLU and the Freedom From Religion Foundation.  And now some of the Christian students, encouraged by at least one youth pastor who was quoted as being "proud of our youth for taking this stand," are all upset because the school, a secular government institution in a nation whose founding document explicitly condemns and rejects a government endorsement of any particular religion, is no longer endorsing their religion by displaying quotes from its holy book.

Or, to put it more succinctly:  These 200 Christian students are mad because their school has been pressured into following the dictates of the Constitution and our country's laws, instead of obliquely supporting Christian dominance.

It's a cliche phrase, but what are they teaching these children nowadays? 

One student said, "Christ is a big, big, big part of Giles County. For those who don't like it, go somewhere else."  Apparently the concept of tyranny of the majority, and why that's a bad thing and America's system is designed to protect against it, has never come up in social studies. 

But I think my favorite Christian-supremacist quote from a student was this one:
"If you don’t like the Ten Commandments, don’t look at them. They are ours to look at if we like to look at them. If you don’t like them, don’t look at them."
Uh-huh.  So in terms of the rights of Christian students versus the rights of non-Christian students, Christian students have the "right" to have the school displaying and thus tacitly endorsing their holy text, while non-Christian students only have the right to look away?  Yeah, that sounds totally like a fair and equal school experience between Christian and non-Christian students.  Totally no privileging of one religion at the expense of all others, nope.

Kids, if you want the Ten Commandments to be part of your school experience, I suggest you go to a private Christian school, one that is not funded by the government and thus has no obligation to the laws regarding endorsement of religion in a government building.  Or, failing that, print them out and stick them in your locker, or on the front of your binder, or embroider them on your backpack for all I give a damn.  That way you get to look at them, and nobody else is forced to look away. 

And to the youth pastor quoted, and the "about a dozen parents and community leaders" who met the kids outside the school and helped organize their protest:  Shame on you.  You're adults and you damn well ought to know better than to encourage this kind of pro-theocratic fuckery in your kids, inculcating in them the notion that their religion deserves to be catered to and granted power in government, despite America's pluralistic nature and explicit founding documents making clear our existence as a secular state.


AL Senator Says 10 Commandments "Not Distinctly Religious." In That Case...

...neither is the Charge of the Goddess, a staple prayer/poem of Wicca and Goddess-centered Paganism since Doreen Valiente wrote the core version of it back in the 50's.  If this asshat's law passes, I look forward to seeing this hung in schools and courtrooms:

Hear ye the words of the Star Goddess, she in the dust of whose feet are the hosts of heaven; whose body encircleth the Universe; I, who am the beauty of the green earth, and the white Moon among the stars, and the mystery of the waters, and the heart’s desire, call unto thy soul. Arise and come unto me.
For I am the Soul of Nature, who giveth life to the universe; from me all things proceed, and unto me must all things return; and before my face, beloved of gods and mortals, thine inmost divine self shall be unfolded in the rapture of infinite joy.
Let my worship be within the heart that rejoiceth, for behold: all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals. And therefore let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honour and humility, mirth and reverence within you.

...What?  If  "...you’d have a hard time saying the Ten Commandments are distinctly religious,” as a spokesperson for the Foundation for Moral Law - a new conservative-Christian group founded by Roy Moore, yes, that Roy Moore - who is helping to push this bill says, why is the Charge of the Goddess any more religious than this:

ONE: 'You shall have no other gods before Me.'

TWO: 'You shall not make for yourself a carved image--any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.'

THREE: 'You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.'

FOUR: 'Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.'

FIVE: 'Honor your father and your mother.'

SIX: 'You shall not murder.'

SEVEN: 'You shall not commit adultery.'

EIGHT: 'You shall not steal.'

NINE: 'You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.'

TEN: 'You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's.'

Cause, yeah, that's totally not religious.  You know, despite the fact that the first four - that's 40% of the document - are instructions from their deity on how he wants his worshipers to worship him.  And that it comes out of a holy book for the coercively dominant religion in this country.  It's still not religious or anything.  Therefore, neither is CotG and I look forward to seeing them hung side-by-side in Alabama schools and courthouses and government buildings. 

...I was going to add something beginning with "in all seriousness" but really, how serious can you be about this kind of stupidity? 

Although I suppose it says something about how desperate they are to cram their religion down everyone's throat, that they're willing to claim that the How To Live Properly instructions that, according to their mythology, comes straight from their God's hand, are not religious.  The only ways I can think to interpret that are as I did, that this means no religious text may be considered religious for Establishment Clause purposes and therefore we can put up any snippet from any religious text on government property with government endorsement, or Christianity is not meant to be treated as a religion and therefore its texts aren't "religious" in nature.

So, Roy Moore et al, here's a tip for you.  If you want to get government endorsement of your religious texts and have the government displaying those texts for you, you should probably not try to justify it by claiming that they're "not religious".  That is a line of reasoning that can seriously come back to bite you in the ass, and in the meantime, it's just making you look stupid and/or blatantly duplicitous. 


On Mental Health Exemptions

Has anyone noticed the "required exemptions" for abortion bills seems to be getting narrower and narrower without much comment from TPTB?  It used to be, even in the most restrictive anti-abortion bills, you could count on there being an exemption for "rape, incest, and health of the mother."  But these days, it's more like "rape-rape (but not date rape or grey rape or whatever they're calling it these days), incest if the victim is under 18, and life of the mother but only if two separate physicians declare medical emergency."  Rape has become a negotiable term in these bills, thanks to H.R. 3.  Incest exemptions are narrowing to minor victims of incest and excluding adult incest survivors, also thanks to H.R. 3.  And most dramatically different, it's gone from "health of the mother" to "life of the mother", and the threshold for proving risk to the mother's life has gone up and up.  This last has happened more and more on a statewide level (the pro-forced-birth battleground of choice), where bills have repeatedly been passed that contain no exemption for the health of the mother, or which specifically disallow mental health from being considered a health exemption.

Cause you know those tricksy wimmenz.  They lie, you know.  And those sluts will totally lie about some emotional distress bullshit if it gets them their abortions, yep yep.  They'll say anything, won't they?  We can't trust women who claim that continuing a pregnancy will result in harm to their mental health, they're just saying that to get that abortion.  We all know mental health doesn't really count as health-health, amirite?

Well, here I go into personal story land again.  I am a woman with a mental illness - well, one diagnosed one, and symptoms of another one but I can't afford to see someone for it - and I am also a woman who has had an abortion.  And you're damn right considerations of my mental health factored into the decision to have an abortion. 

[TW for depression, forced pregnancy, suicidal ideation]

Because let's look at this.  Take a woman who is (especially at that time) suffering from moderate to severe depression complicated by anxiety.  Who has decided she does not ever want children, no seriously, she's not going to change her mind, she has thought about this and doesn't want kids.  Who also has some admittedly strange anxiety issues around the process of pregnancy and birth.  Who has a history of suicidal tendencies.  Now, if that woman becomes pregnant, and is told that she cannot obtain an abortion, but instead will be required to carry to term a pregnancy she does not want, and give birth to a child she does not want, what do you expect to happen?

I can tell you exactly what would have happened.  Setting aside the possibility of illegal abortion or doing it oneself for the moment, had I truly been faced with a reality in which I would have no control over my body and be forced to give birth, something I know without a shadow of a doubt I NEVER, EVER want to do, I would have rather killed myself than gone through with it.  I would have seen no other option.  Rather than be forced to have a baby, I would have chosen death at my own hand.  This is not an exaggeration.

To those who advocate stripping mental-health exemptions from abortion restrictions: do you know what it is you're really doing?  I know conservatives hate this word, but try out some empathy real fast.  Imagine being a woman who doesn't want to have a baby, but who is pregnant.  Imagine you're staring down the barrel of nine months of pregnancy, followed by childbirth.  Imagine you're facing the kinds of drastic physical changes pregnancy imposes on the body - on your body - against your will.  Imagine you're facing physical risks including permanent physical illness, disability, or even death.  Imagine you're facing labor and birth, a deeply trying experience by all accounts, one which, again, carries substantial risks.  I have one word for you: episiotomy.  Imagine you're facing the emotional trial of either completely rearranging your life and plans and goals and dreams to accommodate a baby, or giving it up for adoption and always wondering, always being haunted by what happened to it.  Adoption is not an easy decision to make, nor does it come without cost for the vast majority of biological mothers.  Your life has been turned upside down, and you are being denied the ability to control what happens to you.  This is your body, and you are suddenly being told that, because of a broken condom or failed birth control or a bad decision, you are no longer in control of it.  The state, and a fetus you don't know and don't want, own your body and you have no say in what is done to it.  Imagine the stultifying horror of that realization.  Then compound that with a vulnerable mental/emotional state caused by mental illness, pregnancy hormones, and suicidal tendencies. 

Now, having imagined all that, look me in the fucking eyes and tell me straight out that you you still think it's a good idea to remove the mental health exemption and force a woman who could easily become a danger to herself to have a baby against her will, because her mental health doesn't warrant an exemption from your law.

And if, after all that imagining and empathy and descriptive horror, you can still say you want to remove mental health exemptions from life/health of the mother exemptions...you are clearly lacking a crucial element of human compassion and should not be allowed within a mile of decision-making authority over other beings, not even a goldfish, much less other human beings. 


Praying To The Test

Via Religion Clause, a WTF moment that makes you genuinely wonder if the thought has even occurred to these people that, y'know, not everybody around them is or wants to be Christian...?

A flyer advertising the school-sponsored prayer service

Forget "teaching to the test", the premier strategy of US education thanks to Bush's No Child Left Untested Behind and an increasing culture of emphasis on standardized testing to measure schools' efficacy.  No, in a Baltimore elementary/middle school, they're praying to the test.  The school is holding optional Saturday classes to help kids prepare for the tests, and this prayer service marks the end of those weekend prep classes.

The principal says parents asked her to hold the classes and prayer service.  You know?  If the parents want a prayer service for their kids, and think that will help them on the tests, fine.  They can organize whatever they want at their churches or homes or whatever.  But that's a totally different animal from this, an official school-sponsored prayer service explicitly referencing Christian belief and citing a bible verse.

You have to wonder how a teacher or student or parent opting out would be received.  Peer pressure can be an enormous influence.  Do you want to be known as the teacher who wouldn't show the kids zie cared by being at their prayer group - especially with that fine print reading "Teachers, we would love to see you at the celebration and prayer!"?  Tell me how that doesn't imply a culture wherein Christian religious affiliation is preferred and potentially necessary to advance.  Or the kid who was noticed not to be there, or the parents who might be assumed to be disconnected from their kid's success and well-being because zie chose not to be there?

The president of the local principal's union is being a douche about the whole thing, saying the problem isn't the principal who arranged this, or the parents who requested it, but "the narrow-minded politicians from some 50 years ago, for removing prayer from our schools."  Really?  Enforcing the Constitution's provision of separation of church and state is narrow-minded, but holding a clearly sectarian gathering that makes broad assumptions about the religious choices of the students, parents, and teachers, and subtly implying that a particular religious choice is superior in that it is what makes the children succeed, that's, what?  The very definition of open-minded and tolerant, right?

Two different parents are quoted in the Baltimore Sun article as saying basically that this is what their children need to succeed.  Well, if that's what you believe, fine.  But that's something you provide for them, on your own time, sponsored by a church or family group, not something the school should be promoting and sponsoring and managing!  Can you imagine the flaming uproar if a non-Christian religious group, say Muslim or Pagan, had wanted the school to hold a prayer or ritual service to enhance the kids' performance on the test? 

Ugh.  My sympathy to any students, families, or teachers at the school who are of religious persuasions other than Christian and felt pressured or bullied by this stupid, blatantly unconstitutional act.  And seriously, if the standardized test is something that so frightens a school that they will go to these lengths...that's just a bad goddamn sign, and something needs to change that won't be fixed by at-school prayer rallies.


Commercializing International Women's Day

You may have noticed I've never been particularly good at observing "Days".  Coming Out Day, Blogging Against Disablism Day, I'm just terrible at getting posts up to coincide with observed Days.  International Women's Day would have been the same*, except for a thing I saw today which I couldn't let pass unremarked.

I'm a cosmetics-and-beauty-products junkie.  I have probably over 100 colors of eyeshadow, primers, liners, all kinds of makeup.  Lately, I've taken a renewed interest in painting my nails, enticed by Zoya brand nail polishes.  I love Zoya's polishes so much (I got my first bottle in January, and by now I have 11 bottles; admittedly, 6 of those were free thanks to their kickass Facebook promo, but still, for someone on a budget 5 bottles of polish in 3 months is kind of an investment) that I follow them on Facebook so I can jump on promos and sales when they're announced.  This morning, they announced an IWD promotion, so I clicked over to read about it on their blog.  The promo itself didn't really interest me, as it was offering their six-color spring 2011 collection at a special price that I still can't justify spending, and I didn't really like the spring collection anyway.  But in the copy for the promo, this jumped out at me:

Celebrate the great women in your life on March 8th International Women’s Day! This 100 year old holiday is traditionally celebrated by giving small gift to the women that are important in your life.

IWD: Now non-procreative women can enjoy the tokenism and meaningless capitalism of Mother's Day, too!  

I suppose I shouldn't be so shocked, that a business catering to women is trying to capitalize on IWD to drive sales.  After all, Mother's Day began as an anti-war movement, and look what it's become.  But it struck me as ridiculous.  So I checked the official IWD website, and found a thorough explanation of the history of IWD, explaining the origins and goals of the movement, focusing largely on modern observance of IWD as a day to remind a complacent world that Feminism Ain't Dead Yet, with one little throwaway line...

In some countries IWD has the equivalent status of Mother's Day where children give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers.

...in three pages worth of text, describing how IWD is observed in some countries.  And this is what Zoya - a US company with a largely US customer base - boils it down to?  

Dear Zoya:  I love your nail polish, but please to not tokenize IWD as "another day to give small gifts to X woman".  IWD is not Mother's Day, nor is it Valentines Day.  It is a day to remember and celebrate how far we have come on the grindingly exhausting journey toward a truly equal and egalitarian society, while still being aware of how far we have yet to go and how many women have not even benefited from what advances we have made.  I get that you're a business and you're thinking of sales and your bottom line here, but could you at least have a blurb that reflects accurate reality, instead of turning IWD into a glorified Secretary's Day?

I would think the global struggle for complete social, political, and economic equality of half the world's population might deserve that much, at least.

*As it is, I'm high-fiving myself for squeaking in with 2 hours to spare on March 8th.


I Think Jesus Would Have A Few Words To Say About This...

First let me say, if you're not following Sociological Images, you should be.  Awesome analysis of visual culture, updated quite frequently.  Love it. 

Secondly, trigger warning on the video for xenophobia, threats, accusations of domestic violence, and virulent Islamophobia. 

This video was posted on SocImages a few days ago.  A SoCal chapter of ICNA Relief, a Muslim organization which raises and distributes money for various charitable efforts including food pantries, disaster relief, and women's shelters, hosted their annual fundraising dinner in Yorba Linda.  The funds raised were to support women's shelters, as well as homelessness and hunger relief work. However, a bunch of racist fuckwits got wind of it, and came to protest.  Because, of all the things in this country to be protesting right now, a fundraising dinner for a charitable relief agency is totally Important, right?

So a couple hundred (according to news accounts) asshats showed up with American flags, signs, and vicious xenophobia to protest the dinner and harass the people entering and leaving.  Again, trigger warnings on the video - this shit is *ugly*.  Partial transcript below.

Footage shows groups of angry white people behind police tape, carrying signs and a veritable forest of American flags, screaming hateful things, interspersed with shots of Muslim families, some women in headscarves and some without, being harassed as they enter the community hall where the dinner was being held, and shots of elected officials standing on a flag-draped and -bedecked podium letting their ignorance and hate hang out for their constituents to see.

"Make no bones about it - what is going on over there is pure. unadulterated. evil...My son is a Marine - in fact, I know quite a few Marines who will be happy to help these terrorists to their holy meeting in Paradise!" - Deborah Pauly, Villa Park Councilwoman (R)

Random protester, after threatening to rip the video-taker's fucking camera out of his fucking hands and break it if he kept taking video: "Go back home!  Go back home!  You beat your women and children!  Why don't you go beat up your wife?  She probably needs a good beating!"

"The problem with America is that our children have been taught that every idea is right, that no one should criticize another's positions, no matter how odious...They call that "multiculturalism".  And it has paralyzed too many of our fellow citizens from making the critical judgment we need to make to prosper as a society!" - Congressman Ed Royce (R)

Random protester, as a woman in a headscarf walks by with a girl beside her: "One nation under God, not Allah!  Get out of here!  Never forget 9/11!"

Various other protesters: "Take your Shariah and go home!"  "You don't belong here!"  "You're not welcome here!"  "Get out of here, terrorist!"

I watch this video and want to cry with shame at what my "fellow Americans"* think is acceptable behavior.  The ignorance on display here, the hate and seething rage that feels, even from the distance of three weeks, half a state away, and viewing it on video, a hair's breadth away from exploding into outright violence, is stunning. This is the kind of mob mentality that ends up with people getting killed.  And further, that elected officials feel safe in getting up behind a microphone and adding fuel to the fire...I have no words for that.

Like Councilwoman Pauly's assertion that a charity dinner, purely by virtue of being sponsored by a Muslim organization, is "pure unadulterated evil".  And her veiled threat about Marines she knows who would "be happy to help them to a meeting in Paradise!"  I cannot believe that an elected official feels safe and supported in getting up and saying, on-camera, that she knows some people who would like to kill those people over there whose only crime is belonging to a religion she disapproves of.  What the fucking fuck?

Or Congressman Royce's schtick about "multiculturalism" being a bad thing that "paralyzes" our "fellow citizens" - hey, asshat, you know what?  Most of the Muslims at that dinner you're so loudly criticizing are, in fact, also citizens of this country.  I thought the whole point of America was that, even if you believe something different from the mainstream or dress differently than the mainstream, you are still American?  No? - from "making the critical judgments."  So, let's pull the veil off this one, Royce.  What exactly are those "critical judgments" you think we need to make?  I have a fair guess: you want us to outright declare that any beliefs but your WASPy traditions are Wrong and Bad, and only White Cis Straight Christian Men (WCSCM) should be allowed to run this country because they're the only ones with the right Principles and Morals, yes?  And of course it has nothing to do with the fact that you yourself are a WCSCM and would benefit greatly from official codification of the status quo and official condemnation of anything that does not fit your standards.  Right?

And of course, the protesters, who have no obligation to be coherent or even pseudo-rational in their screamed hate, because they won't have names attached to what they say.  The themes of "Go home" - as if there are no Muslim Americans?  As one attendee to the dinner was quoted in the local paper as saying, "I'm actually from Fullerton, CA.  So I don't know where "back home" is." - and of course, conflating "Muslim" and "terrorist" as if they are one and the same, are incredibly disturbing.  The anti-Sharia sentiment is telling, as well.  As I pointed out to a family member the other day, when talking about the wave of anti-Sharia bills being passed by various states, it's not as if anyone has ever proposed implementation of such in any American legal system.  And it's not like the Christian stranglehold on government is easing, nor is there some sudden Muslim majority in governments which could pass such a law.  It's a solution in search of a problem - and they are demonizing and scapegoating American Muslims to create the "problem" they need.  This protest just shows the fruit of those efforts. 

This also highlights the further hypocrisy of mainstream political Christianity in this country.  They're so keen to have the government funding "faith-based" charity efforts and disaster relief - even our super-secular-socialist President has maintained funding for faith-based initiatives - and there have been outright claims that the government's social safety net programs can and should be replaced by community faith-based charity organizations and individual charity giving.  I've often heard it claimed, too, in debates over the merits of various religions in this country, that Christianity is superior because "all the charities that are religious are Christian.  Nobody else takes care of the poor and needy like Christians do."  And yet here it is, a non-Christian faith-based charitable organization, raising money from individual donors to spend on what I'm fairly sure would be nearly-unanimously regarded as Good Causes, and what do they get for it?  Protests, mocking, angry threats, told to "go home" even though they ARE home, being called terrorists.  Well, angry Christian assholes?  You say you want other religions to step up and be all charitable in order to earn your respect.  But then you do everything you can to make that not happen.  Which is it, hypocrites?

But there's a tiny little silver lining here.  Some nice, solid, undeniable evidence for the next time some privileged meatsack claims there's no anti-Islam sentiment in the US and that those hysterics are just exaggerating everything.  >.<

*I have absolutely less than zero interest in sharing any kind of cultural identity with these fucking shitstains, yet by virtue of being white and read mostly as middle-class (despite my current financial situation, I have the clothing, dialect, and mannerisms of a middle-class upbringing), most of them would classify me as one of them.


Related Posts with Thumbnails