Wednesday WTF: Real Men Go On Dates Edition

I haven't done a designated Wednesday WTF in a very long time - my WTF tag gets plenty of use as it is - but this seemed worthy of resurrecting it.

An ex of mine posted this on Facebook today (reminding me of *why* he's an ex [and dude, if you still read my blog, sorry, but yeah]): Stop Hanging Out With Women and Start Dating Them.

First of all, when the originating site is called The Art of Manliness, well.  That's a yellow alert right there, especially as it seems to take itself quite seriously. 

And then you read the article itself, which is chock-full of heteronormativity and marriage-pushing (it links to another article on the site called "The Case for Marriage", which hits the usual high notes of "married men are happier/wealthier/healthier" without noting why, and what that may be costing the wives in this equation, who are apparently invisible accessories one uses to gain happiness/wealth/health bonuses, not people with whom one has a fulfilling relationship).  It gets bonus points for lamenting how many guys are "just hanging out" with women these days - because gods know you would never want to just be friends with women - and playing the "young'uns today have had their social skills ruined by the internet!" card.  "Feminism makes boners sad" makes an appearance, too - damn us liberated women, making the questions of "who asks who out?" and "who pays?" a matter of conscious communication instead of assumptions!

The cure for these ills, of course, is a return to the days when men ask women out.  And that's pretty much it.  There's the "She secretly wants you to ask" bit, of course - "Despite the rhetoric you hear about the liberated woman, women still appreciate it when a guy asks her out on a date." - which...well, really.  First of all, what is "the rhetoric...about the liberated woman" even supposed to mean?  The idea that women are adults who are perfectly capable of approaching a stranger they'd like to get to know and asking him or her out, instead of helpless girls just waiting to be asked to dance?  This is just rhetoric that you should disregard?  Secondly, of course (most) women like to be asked out*.  So do (most) men, and I would venture, most people in general.  Being the askee is a confirmation that you are desirable and worth risking rejection for.  That's a nice feeling - assuming the ask was respectful and appropriate in timing/wording/approach, and the asker was actually okay with "no" if that was one's answer - which I don't think is exactly gender-dependent. 

"Be a man and ask these women out."

No.  Please don't.  Not if you're taking your advice from a shitty article on why gender norms ought to jump back a few decades. 

And of course it ends with "So what are you waiting for? Quit reading this post right now and pick up your cell phone. Call a woman and ask her on a date."  Just call a woman!  Any woman!  Doesn't matter if you're really interested in dating her or not!  Doesn't matter if you're happy being single!  By the transitive power of the uterus, all women are interchangeable, so just pick one and try to date her!

*Although not necessarily, and even if they do, not necessarily by men.  Which this whole article completely disregards.


Jon Kyl Does Not Understand The Internet

Jon Kyl, he of the infamous "not intended to be a factual statement" retraction after claiming 90% of what Planned Parenthood does is abortion, has scrubbed the Congressional record of his 90% claim.  Instead of reading "If you want an abortion you go to Planned Parenthood and that's well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does," it now reads, "If you want an abortion you go to Planned Parenthood and that is what Planned Parenthood does."

All this proves is the man has no idea how the internet works, or how the world's memory works in the age of the internet.

Dear Senator Kyl: When your misstatement and hilariously bungled attempt at retracting it have spawned a whole internet meme, complete with Twitter hashtag (#notintendedtobeafactualstatement, still going strong days after the incident) egged on by Stephen Colbert, no amount of scrubbing the official record is going to make people forget.  It's like taking down a really dumb or offensive post.  Google Cache will remember, and all you end up doing is looking like an ass who's trying to cover your tracks.

Which, of course, you are, but you don't want to draw attention to it by trying to hide it.  Is it really so hard to admit you were exaggerating wildly for the sake of scoring rhetorical points in your ideological war on reproductive-care services for low-income Americans?

Too much honesty for you?

Want A Student Loan? Show Us Your Finances First.

But of course, because low-income students really need more hoops to jump through before they can get government assistance to get an education.  Tidewater Community College in Virginia is planning to implement a system whereby students seeking government loans for schooling will have to fill out and turn in two "budget worksheets" - one assuming their current income and financial situation "in case they leave school unexpectedly", and the other a projected budget for after graduation based on the starting salary for a job they can expect to get with the degree they're working on - before the financial aid office will disburse their federal student loans to them.

The plan itself sounds pretty fucked up, to me.  I personally don't think the college's budget office - who is not providing the loan money themselves, mind you, just taking federal money and disbursing it to students who have already applied and been approved for it - has any goddamn business seeing my budget.  Offering budget counseling or workshops for students who want it?  A good idea.  Making it mandatory to fill out worksheets and disclose the details of your finances to the loan office before they'll give you the money you've already been approved for?  Not cool.  Especially since "the college also plans to identify high-risk borrowers who are still enrolled and summon them for financial counseling."  So if your budget doesn't meet with approval, you're going to be "summoned" to talk to someone about it, whether you really want to discuss the details of your financial situation with a total stranger at your college or not.

Further, the second budget worksheet assumes the student will have a job after graduation.  Lolwut?  Unemployment is still at nearly 10% nationwide, people.  It's not like jobs are thick on the ground.  I'm not sure I like the idea of having students work up a projected budget based on a job that may or may not be there when they've anticipated having it.

But the real fun part of this is the display of privilege in the comments thread.  Right in the first few comments, someone pointed out the problematic nature of assuming immediate employment upon graduation, and the response was basically "Well, then maybe they shouldn't be taking out money to go to school."  Effectively implying that the only people who deserve an education, which is pretty much necessary at this point to get ahead, are those who can already afford to pay for it out of pocket.

And when someone else pointed out that adding more work and required disclosure like this is putting further barriers in front of those people who need the help most, the answer from a few other commenters was basically "Good!"  ...what?

Education is already a privilege in this country far more than it should be.  Low-income students are already struggling, and to put further barriers between them and the help they need is reprehensible.  It smacks of deliberately replicating and perpetuating the already-widening class divide by reserving all the bootstraps for people who own the bootstraps factory.


Cruel And Unusual "Pro-Life" Tactics

This is just sick.  A 14-year-old girl got pregnant - circumstances were not specified, so for all we know the baby was a product of rape or incest or other forms of coercion - and on her way into the clinic, a "pro-life" "activist" tried to talk her out of getting an abortion, got her phone number, and while she was in the waiting room, texted her to say "If you go through with this, we've named your baby Britney."  When the girl went through with the abortion, the "activist" put up a pink cross with the name on it.

The wankstain who did it defends her actions and says she doesn't think she was being cruel, because "the sooner you deal with it the easier it is in the healing."  What the fucking fuck?  That girl might not have NEEDED any "healing" after the abortion, if that shitwad hadn't done her damndest to personalize and force an emotional connection to a pregnancy the girl didn't want, and emotionally abused her by trying to guilt her for "killing her baby" afterward!

Personal story time!  In the six months or so following my abortion, I had a strange emotional dilemma.  I felt guilty for not feeling guilty, if that makes any sense.  As someone who, with her first unrestricted internet connection at age 18, dove headfirst into the contentious abortion debate message board on Beliefnet.com and would spend hours there arguing with people who really did believe all women who had abortions were murderers, I'd been exposed to a lot of anti-choice nastiness even before it was a personal issue for me.  In the aftermath of it, although I didn't regret my choice, I had a tiny voice in the back of my mind asking what that said about me?  If I could have an abortion and feel nothing but relief and gladness at having the matter taken care of, didn't that make me a terrible person?  A terrible woman, specifically?  And this was me at 21, intelligent, well-educated, informed about the issue and very well-practiced in the arguments surrounding it, and I still was able to be made to feel like there was something wrong with me because I wasn't unhappy or regretful or grief-stricken.

So when I think of a 14-year-old girl, having to make the choice that would let her keep her life as it was or change it forever, being cruelly manipulated into feeling guilty because of a total stranger's opinion of her decision, it makes me sick.  Anti-choicers claim that abortion leads to guilt/regret/depression/etc - they've even named their made-up post-abortion condition "Post-Abortive Syndrome", despite the complete lack of evidence (and evidence to the contrary) that such a condition exists - but that's basically a self-fulfilling prophecy, isn't it?  How many people out there who've had abortions suffer and struggle with guilt and regret not because those feelings organically arose in them - and they do, for some people, I'm not trying to say all abortion decisions are as uncomplicated as mine was - but because they feel like they should feel bad?

Anyone who wants to call themselves "pro-life" needs to concern themselves with the woman's life, too.  That 14-year-old girl has a life, and trying to force her to feel guilty by forcing the pro-fetus framework onto her situation shows a distinct unconcern for the life of the girl.  

Michigan Republican: Foster Kids Don't Deserve New Clothes

This classist asshole takes the far-too-common rhetoric of "poor people deserve nothing nice ever" and steps it up another notch, by saying that foster children in his state should only be allowed to purchase clothes from Goodwill and Salvation Army.

You know, it's unfair enough to dump on poor adults and insist that adults struggling financially not ever spend a single penny on anything anyone watching might deem frivolous or pleasurable, but at least with adults in poverty there's a chance that it was their own choices that led them into poverty.  Maybe they gambled a lot or ran up credit-card debt on shopping sprees or whatever.  I still don't believe it's any of anyone's business to try to police their spending, as if the mere fact of their financial situation gives everyone better-off a right to pry and comment and judge.  But I can at least see some kind of internally-consistent logic in the kind of mindset that believes people should suffer for their irresponsibility, whether that irresponsibility is real or imagined, even while I think it's a bunch of judgmental bullshit.

But it's another thing entirely to take out one's resentment at having to let the government help those who need help on foster children, who are in the position they are because of the choices and fuckups of the adults around them, not because they did something wrong.

Much like Wisconsin's union-busting fiasco, where Walker couldn't say how much money his union-busting would actually save the state despite claiming it was all about the budget, Sen Caswell has yet to give hard evidence that his plan would save the state any money or how much, despite claiming it's about the budget. Which is basically the modus operandi of the slash-and-privatize GOP: wait for (or manufacture, ahem) a crisis, then use it as a boogeyman to force through cuts in the name of "what must be done right now" while people are willing to put up with more without demanding much justification.  Hand-wave in the direction of the Budget Gremlins, and most people will let it go.

So what it basically is, is Caswell using the excuse of the current economy to punish foster children for being foster children.  For absolutely no reason that I can see, except mean-spiritedness.  Because really, what's this going to save the state?  A few thousand dollars, perhaps?  Is a few thousand dollars really worth further stepping on children on whose necks Life has already stomped plenty hard?

It's not like foster kids are rolling in piles of state dough as it is.  When you talk about foster kids, you are by definition talking about people who have already been pretty badly screwed over by life.  Most of them have experienced some kind of abuse.  They're already trying to move through the world and negotiate the process of growing up without any reasonable sense of stability - they can get bounced from home to home on the whims of the families, relocated from one county to another for no particular reason except overcrowding, constantly having to start over in some new place.  What possible purpose could it serve to add another indignity by mandating that they buy hand-me-downs instead of spending a couple more dollars to buy a brand-new shirt at Walmart or Target? 

Sen. Caswell:  Your heartlessness is showing.  You might want to do something about that. 


More GOP Hypocrisy...

Check this shit out...

Paul Ryan, who drafted the GOP's Road to Ruin budget for next fiscal year, was himself a recipient of federal Social Security money that he used to pay for college, which was the starting point of a career that has led him to a point where he has the power to draft a budget that would drastically cut the programs that helped him get his start.

What an epically clear case of the GOP's core value:  "I got mine, screw the rest of you."


In Case You Weren't Convinced Yet That Koch Industries Is Evil...

Freed by the Citizens United case, which granted free speech rights to corporations (in related news, I've figured out what I want to be when I grow up!  A corporation.  I wouldn't have to pay taxes, the government would listen to me, I could get bailed out...yeah, life as a corporation sounds pretty good.), Koch Industries has begun politically proselytizing its employees.  A mailer was sent to the home addresses of all their U.S. employees this past fall, right before the election, containing a list of 19 Koch-approved candidates (16 Republicans and 3 "Blue Dog" Democrats, and a mix between state-level and national candidates) and urging employees to vote for those candidates.  Padded out with 14 pages of teabagger propaganda masquerading as economic theory and history lessons (did you know that FDR and the New Deal *prolonged* the Great Depression?  Me neither.  Probably because it's manifestly untrue revisionist history.), the whole thing has an ominous feel of "We're not saying you have to vote our way, but..."  Somehow I don't imagine anyone who complained about being told how to vote would have a job for long, y'know?

I don't even know what to say anymore.  Talk about a hostile workplace.  My sympathies to those employees who feel they have no choice but take this blatant political pressure quietly, or lose their jobs.

Texas' Rick Perry: Governor, or Priest?

Given the proclamation he's just issued, either he's not sure himself, or he's desperately misinformed about what elected leaders are supposed to do in a crisis.

Pop quiz!  When your state is in a long drought that's causing terrible fires and having bad effects on crops and livestock, what are appropriate responses a governor could undertake?

A:  Declare a state of emergency
B:  Redirect funds to additional firefighting equipment/personnel
C:  Ask for help from the federal goverment
D:  Issue an official proclamation declaring a three-day period as "Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of Texas"

If you answered some combination of A, B, and C (or other paths of material help that I didn't think of), pat yourself on the back!  If you answered D, you're either Rick Perry, or just as deeply confused about appropriate uses of elected office.

Here's a hint for those who picked D: there is no appropriate place in the secular government of a highly diverse nation (or state) for proclamations, or declarations, or whatever the hell else, promoting religious practice.  Prayer, in case you're still confused, is a religious practice.  And even if you slip in the little "citizens of all faiths and traditions" line to try to make it less sectarian, you're still privileging belief over nonbelief.  This is, for obvious reasons, Not Okay.

Is it too much to hope that I might see an end to government promotion of religiosity in this country, in my lifetime?

Look, I get the desperation of long drought and bad wildfires.  I'm Californian born and raised.  As I used to joke with friends from other parts of the country about the difference in seasons from one place to another, "Sure, California has seasons.  Fire season and water season."  I live in a state in which fireworks are mostly banned because of the regular fire danger during the summer.  My family adopted a dog that had come to a rescue organization during the really nasty fire season in SoCal five years ago or so, when she quite literally just came trotting out of the burning areas alone as if her family had left her behind when they evacuated, who couldn't bark properly because of smoke inhalation.  So I really, truly do understand the devastation a bad wildfire season and a bad drought can cause to a state.  I sympathize with the people of Texas who are having to deal with this right now. 

That does not change the fact that declarations urging people to pray for rain are not an appropriate response from a supposedly-secular government in a supposedly-secular country.  People who are so inclined will pray for divine intervention in a time of crisis anyway.  To use an elected position of power to tell everyone they should be praying and what they should be praying for is deeply inappropriate.  Period.


3 Simple Rules for Anti-Choice Politicians

Since abortion, and laws intruding on women's ability to access it, is a hot topic this year (nearly a thousand bills impacting reproductive health so far this year in all 49 states whose legislatures are in session, 56% of which are restrictions on access in some way), and this has been, is, and will likely continue to be discussed rather vehemently, let's lay some ground rules to be adhered to from here on out, shall we?  I'm really goddamn tired of the fallacies that saturate this "debate".  So, anti-choice politicians, here are three simple rules to follow when discussing abortion-related legislation:

Rule #1:  If it imposes something MANDATORY, it is not to be referred to as "allowing" women to do anything.
[The bill] would require the woman view the fetus and hear a detailed verbal description of it before undergoing the mandatory waiting period. "This bill just allows them to see the child inside of them, so it's not just out of sight, out of mind," said Alabama State Sen. Clay Scofield (R-Albertville).
In this situation, you are not allowing women to see the fetus.  You are forcing them to.  There is a vast difference there.  Please to knock it the fuck off with this disingenuous pose of magnanimity toward those poor, uninformed women. 

Rule #2:  Unless you are, yourself, every single person whose potential pregnancy will be impacted by the law under discussion, you do not have the authority to declare what is or is not a necessary part of the decision-making process.
"This bill just allows them to see the child inside of them, so it's not just out of sight, out of mind," said Alabama State Sen. Clay Scofield (R-Albertville). "It's critical in their decision-making process."
I didn't need to see an ultrasound to make up my mind, and being forced to see one would only have pissed me off, not changed my mind.  Major studies have shown that so-called "informed consent" requirements don't actually affect people's decisions on abortion.  We know what we need to make our decisions.  We know how to seek out information if we want it.  It's no business of legislators to try to decide for people what they need for their decision-making.

Rule #3:  Treat pregnancy-capable people like adults, goddamnit.  Adults who know what pregnancy is, what it means, how it happens, and what it leads to.  This "out of sight, out of mind" and "remind them of their natural relationship with their child" (can't find a citation, but I distinctly remember it; it was recent, and if anyone knows who said this please remind me!) bullshit has got to stop.  Pregnancy does not remove one's capacity for reason.  I know you actually *do* see pregnant people as walking incubators, but this is desperately inaccurate and obscenely insulting.  Fucking stop it.  Or at least keep that shit to yourselves.  I'm tired of writing about this particular attitude.

There.  Simple enough, yes?  Now, if y'all anti-choice bastards can just do these couple little things for me, maybe we can make it through the rest of this legislative season without giving me too many headaches, mmkay?  Thanks bunches!


Today In Conservative Hypocrisy: But The Children! Edition

There's a J. Crew ad that's been causing some nontroversy of late - a photo of J. Crew's creative director with her preschool-aged son, whose tiny toenails are painted neon pink:
The text reads "Lucky for me, I ended up with a boy whose favorite color is pink.  Toenail painting is way more fun in neon."

Well, the usual suspects have been up in arms over this.  She's ruining him!  She'll turn him gay!  By the feminizing power of pink and nail polish, she's gender-confusing him!  Blah blah etc.  The gay agenda is at work here, whatever.

And then there's the recent, and growing, pushback from the self-proclaimed morality police against anti-bullying programs that try to teach kids not to beat up gay/trans/perceived-non-gender-conforming kids.  Gay agenda!  Indoctrination!  Brainwashing!  Alarmist nonsense!

I also distinctly remember a hue and cry when some same-gender couples in California brought their kids to anti-Prop H8 protests.  It was "shameful" that us pervs would "use our children this way".  No links, but I'm sure I'm not the only one who remembers it.

So why are the bigots, who are so keen to label participation of young'uns in pro-gay and pro-equality movements as this horrible brainwashing abuse we're perpetuating on the innocent behbehs, okay with things like Peter LaBarbera's Youth Hate Camp?  And why has there been no terrible outcry against these fucknuggets, who have filed about 50 lawsuits against various school districts across Ohio, Kentucky, Florida, and other southern states, for banning t-shirts saying things like "God Hates Whores." and "God Hates Muslims Gays.", when they made their daughter wear those shirts to school?  That's a couple who is outright using their daughter to push their hateful right-wing agenda by making her wear controversial slogans and face punishment from her school administrators in order to give them cause to start another lawsuit.  I eagerly await the disavowal and condemnation from Faux News and One Million Moms, over this shameful example of brainwashing and exploitation of a child for a degenerate cause.

Bueller?  Bueller?


Yeah.  That's what I thought.


I Got Your Theocracy Right Here

or, The Religion Clause Means Nothing To These People.

The Texas textbook dustup last year ended with the Texas Board of Education adopting new textbook standards that emphasize the role of conservative and Christian organizations/people like Phyllis Schlafly and the NRA in American history, stress the superiority of American capitalism, remove Thomas Jefferson as one of the philosophers to study (not Christian enough, y'know; he was replaced with several Christian theologist/philosophers), and require "teaching of “the importance of personal responsibility for life choices” in a section on teenage suicide, dating violence, sexuality, drug use and eating disorders."  Abused by your partner?  Take responsibility for your life choices!  >.<  It was widely seen as conservatives attempting to rewrite history - or, if you listen to their version, "correcting bias."  Damn history, all liberal and shit.

One of the things the new standards required, apparently, was emphasis on the phrase "the laws of nature and nature's god" in the Declaration of Independence:
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
Now take a look at the following clip.

[A panel discussion in a large college classroom; three white men and a white woman sit behind the table at the front of the room.  The woman, Cynthia Dunbar, is speaking.]  We have a Biblically-illiterate society that does not even know...they're churchgoers only.  I call them CHINOs - Christians in name only.  [audience laughs]  And that's what we have in our society, so that our laws reflect what our underlying worldview is.  That's why we were framed as a nation, on the "laws of nature and nature's God."  One of the things I required in the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills education requirement was that they had to learn certain things from our Declaration of Independence, which by the way, textbooks have a shelf life of 10 years, and this will impact nationally, so for the next ten years, the students have to learn the Declaration of Independence, "self-evident truths," "inalienable rights," and "the laws of nature and nature's God." [break]  What are "the laws of nature and nature's God"?  Why did Jefferson pick that term, as opposed to "natural law", which was the Enlightenment/French Revolution standard?  The "laws of nature" are the will of our Maker.  And because of the fallen state of Man, we have to have the laws of nature's God revealed through the Holy Scriptures.

So because we have a "Biblically-illiterate society" full of "Christians in name only", and need "the laws of nature's God revealed through the Holy Scriptures" to combat the "fallen state of Man", Cynthia Dunbar and her compatriots on the Texas State Board of Education felt entitled to rewrite textbook standards to promote their God-centered worldview to every child in the state?  What the unholy fuck?  And I do mean unholy fuck.  What about those who are not even "Christians in name only" but are deliberately and entirely UN-Christian?  Do we need the "laws of [the Christian] god" revealed to us through their scripture, too?

Even if their answer is yes - and I'm sure it would be, with that whole "go forth and make disciples of all nations [whether they want to be disciples or not]" thing - while we're studying America's foundational documents, let's fast forward to the Constitution, Amendment 1, of which the first section reads:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
Given that, using an arm of the government - which education systems funded by the taxpayer's money and run by elected officials certainly are - to promote "Biblical literacy", and defining "the laws of nature and nature's God" as taught in school classrooms as "the will of our Maker...revealed to us through the Holy Scriptures," is a pretty fucking blatant violation of the Constitution, wouldn't you say?

And the only way a person so deeply concerned with making sure the children of this country are accurately educated on our history and founding would be able to overlook such an egregious contradiction...would be if zie genuinely desires Christian supremacy and theocracy. 

This is why I say the Christian Dominionists here in the US scare me more than the boogeyman of Sharia law.  Sharia law is nowhere near becoming reality in this country.  But Dominionists like Cynthia Dunbar are here, they are real, and they are already in power.  And that is truly scary.


Kansas Anti-Choicers Think Women Are Stupid

Kansas governor Sam Brownback (R, of course) has signed two anti-abortion bills today.  They've got the fetal pain law - it's all the rage this season, spring's hottest legislative accessory - banning abortions past 20 weeks, parental consent - both parents, in fact, so if your mom is okay with it and your dad refuses, you're fucked - changing all references to "fetus" in the state's legal code to "pwecious widdle behbeh" *cough* I mean, "unborn child", and narrating the counseling a doctor must provide a patient seeking an abortion to say "[her abortion will] “ter­mi­nate the life of a whole, sep­a­rate, unique, liv­ing human being.”"

I swear, I almost want to get pregnant and go to Kansas for an abortion, specifically so that when they let that bomb drop, I can do my best Macauley Culkin impression and freak the fuck out, all "Omg I had no idea!  You mean it's a human baby?  I thought I was going to have a litter of kittens!  A human being?  Oh, doctor, that changes my mind ENTIRELY!   And knowing that magically changes the financial and social circumstances that brought me in here in the first place, of course."  And then go to the lawmakers who voted for this shit, and the Governor too, and parade my "OMG I had no idea until you were so considerate and helpful as to inform me that I had a human being inside me!" performance all over the legislative offices.  Just to be a pain in the ass and make a spectacle of myself.  Call it performance art.

Really, I don't know what else to say that I haven't said a bazillion times before.  Women know what being pregnant means, and they know what abortions do.  That's *why* they seek them.  Termination of pregnancy is a feature, not a bug, in the abortion process.  Parental consent laws are fucking bullshit - the vast majority of young women who get pregnant *do* tell their parents, and those who don't generally have damn good reasons not to - not to mention, why is it that if she chose to have the baby, her parents couldn't force her to abort, but if she chooses to abort, her parents can override her and force her to have the baby?  Seems a little imbalanced to me.  Either the parents have the absolute right to override their progeny's medical decisions and minors must get permission for every medical decision they make - and yes, carrying a pregnancy to term is a medical decision - or they don't.  And this changing of wording from "fetus", a medically- and legally-defined term, to "unborn child", just for the warm fuzzies of it, is first of all a stupid waste of time and second of all a fucking creepy attempt at language manipulation.  It's like right-wingers use 1984 as a fucking *playbook*.

I was gonna blog about a whole bunch of other stuff today, but life got in the way.  But good news!  My partner is employed again as of Monday!  I'll blog more tomorrow, I promise. 

Until then, go fuck yourselves, anti-choicers.  And my sympathies to the women of Kansas and every other state in which this retrofuck shit has been proposed and/or passed. 


Bryan Fischer Didn't Mean It. Except That He Does.

Remember on Friday, when I posted about Bryan Fischer's horrible "convert or go home" sentiment for Muslim/non-Christian immigrants?  I mentioned at the time that I could only use Right Wing Watch's quotes from the article, as the link to the original wasn't working, almost as if the article had been taken down...

Well, guess what?  It was.  And then it was put back up, but with the offending paragraphs scrubbed and re-written to say the exact opposite of what they originally said.  Where before, Fischer wrote that Muslim immigrants who "insist on clinging to their religion...will need to exercise their freedom of religion in a Muslim country," and that "Someone with a Muslim background who wants to become an American had best be prepared to drop his Islam and his Qur’an at Ellis Island," now it says:
 Does this mean that folks need to convert before they immigrate? No, but at a minimum, it would mean making sure that immigrants to the United States affirm and believe in the superiority of the Judeo-Christian system of values and truth claims over alternative value systems such as sharia law.
Hmm.  That's a nice little logic pretzel you've got yourself in, Fischer/AFA.  First it was that Muslims who wish to immigrate have to convert to Christianity in order to enter, now it's "Do they have to convert?  No, but..."  And that nasty little "but" in there leads to a sentence I'm still trying to extract a coherent meaning from.  They don't have to convert...but they do have to believe in the superiority of euphemistically-phrased "Judeo-Christian values"?  You don't have to convert, but you do have to believe my religion is superior before I'll let you in my clubhouse.  How incredibly asinine.  Also, can you stop with the "Judeo-Christian" euphemism?  We all know you mean fundamentalist Christianity.  You're only adding "Judeo" on there to make it look a little less sectarian, and it's not fooling anyone.

Since this is the third time so far this year that the AFA has had to take down and scrub Fischer's articles (the other two times were for claiming Native Americans "deserved" colonization and nearly being wiped-out for not converting to Christianity, and for criticizing welfare programs as promoting African-American families who "rut like rabbits"), perhaps they should, I dunno, stop giving him a platform to spew his bullshit from?  Let him get his own damn blog like the rest of us, where he can be one more ranty bastard in the sea of ranty bastards that is blogging, without having the title of Director of Issues Analysis for the American Family Association and the media reach that goes with it.  After all, these censorings aren't going to stop him.  Bryan Fischer means every word he writes [link goes to video of Fischer pontificating].  If the AFA isn't willing to stand by that, it's time to cut him loose like the offensive, loose-cannon liability he is.


What Trigger Warnings Are Not

Trigger warnings are not censorship.

Trigger warnings are not "keeping you from speaking your truth."

Trigger warnings are not "stifling your free expression."

Trigger warnings are not about you not saying things.  They are about how you say things.  They are about courtesy, by giving people a chance to prepare themselves for potential consequences if they read what you go on to say.  They are about compassion and concern for your fellow beings.  They are about giving other people the option to look away, instead of shoving painful stuff in their face with no warnings.  They are about giving other people the right to make an informed choice about what they can handle in that moment and trusting them to make their own decisions, instead of making the decision for them. 

I have not always been the best at remembering to add TWs to posts here.  For that, I apologize.  It's a reflection on my privilege that I don't *have* to always remember what to put warnings on.  I am trying to do better with it.  Again, if my forgetfulness has hurt anyone, I'm sorry.

I just wanted to post this because a women's spirituality community that I spend a fair amount of time on had a bit of a dustup last month about diet/weight-loss threads being triggering to people with disordered eating pasts.  And we discussed trigger warnings, and a few people said things like "Well, I'll try to add TWs since you say it would help, but I won't let it stop me from speaking my truth here!  I won't censor myself.  Etc."  And I know the issue has come up before, but I wanted to do my part to clear up the misunderstanding a lot of people seem to have about what trigger warnings are...and what they aren't.

Speak your truth.  Don't censor yourself.  Say what you want and need to say.  But if it's a graphic description of how depression feels, or your experiences of sexual violence, or the eating disorder you struggle with, etc...put a goddamn trigger warning on it out of courtesy to the people around you.

That is all.  Carry on.


Bryan Fischer's Biblical Immigration Policy: Convert or Go Home

Bryan Fischer hates Muslims.  A lot.  Let's just make this clear upfront, no matter how much the fuckwad tries to deny it, he really, really, really, really, really hates Muslims. 

So this isn't surprising, exactly, but it is absolutely over-the-top, a new low even for Fischer (if you'll pardon the mixed metaphors).  To quote from the RWW post (since the actual link to Fischer's original article seems to be broken *cough* as if it's been pulled, like several of his other pieces lately):
We believe in freedom of religion for Muslims like we do for everybody else. But if they insist on clinging to their religion, they will need to exercise their freedom of religion in a Muslim country which shares their values...Immigration is a privilege, not a right, and our policy should be to admit to our shores only those with a commitment to a full assimilation to American culture, adopting our faith, our heroes, and our history. Someone with a Muslim background who wants to become an American had best be prepared to drop his Islam and his Qur’an at Ellis Island.
Shorter Bryan Fischer: "Freedom of religion means you have the freedom to follow my religion, or GTFO!"

And yet again I wonder, does he even realize that, ahem, not everyone in America is Christian?  He lists  "adopting our faith" as a requirement of immigration, but see, "we" don't have a singular faith.  America is like three-quarters Christian or so, but that still leaves an awful lot of people practicing faiths other than Christianity.  And even within Christianity it's not like they're the most homogenous bunch, with Catholics, Baptists, Mormons, etc all having amazingly divergent views and practices, given they're all functioning from the same basic premise.  So what is this "our faith" he's referring to? 

It leaves me with the nasty feeling that Fischer quite genuinely doesn't see non-Christian Americans as Americans.  I may not be a particular fan of my country, of late, but at present it's the only one I've got, and I'd like it if politicians would stop schmoozing with and lending legitimacy to a demagogue who gives me the impression that, if he thought he could get away with it, he'd be calling not only for deportation and forcible conversion of Muslims, but every other non-Christian group in this country.

Also, there was this neat-o little quote in the article that caught my attention... (emphasis mine)
It’s simple: don’t break the law (that is, come in through the front door instead of breaking in through a window), convert to Christianity, fully assimilate (become an authentic American, not a hyphenated American), and support yourself.
So if you qualify your American identity with any other identity reflecting your ethnicity or national origin or any other marker that's important to you, you too are not to be considered a Real American™.  There is only one kind of American, according to Fischer: the WASP.  And all the rest of us need to GTFO their country.

It makes you wonder what it will take for the AFA to finally come to their senses and drop Fischer.  They wonder why the SPLC labeled them a hate group?  They should try reading their Director of Issues Analysis' blog sometime.


Today In Anti-Choice Hypocrisy

When a Wichita, Kansas doctor planned to begin offering abortion services in her clinic, the landlord sued to stop her, on the grounds that the protests held and security risks posed by Wichita-based zealots Operation Rescue [the Fetuses and Who Gives a Fuck About the Women?] would be disruptive to the building's other tenants.  To stop the suit and appease the landlord (and other tenants, who had supposedly told the landlord they would terminate their leases if the clinic began doing abortions, to avoid dealing with protesters outside the building), Dr. Means agreed not to provide abortions.  The Religious Reich, of course, declared this a grand success and were very smug about it. 

And yet, when a library director in Wisconsin cancelled a 40 Days for Lies Life group's planned showing of an anti-abortion film at the county library, because he was afraid pro-choice groups would protest and the showdown would interrupt normal library functions...the group whined to the county, and when the county stood behind the library director's decision and instead offered an alternate space for their showing, they sued to force the library to allow their showing to go as planned.  The library has since backed off and allowed the group's reservation of the showing room to be reinstated.

So when a pro-choicer is forced to stop or refrain from doing something because of threat of pro-life protests, that's awesome and a victory.  But when an anti-choice group is forced to stop or refrain from doing something because of threat of pro-choice protests, that's grounds for a lawsuit.  Have these fucking meat nuggets ever even heard of the concept of fairness and equal treatment?

If they have, they're sure as fuck not showing it.  Anti-choicers are absolute fucking bullies.  And that, my friends, is why they're winning.  They're willing to stoop to any low.  Any tactic, no matter how extreme, is on the table, if they think it might achieve their goals, while we stand on principle and try to do the right thing. 

How can we win, against utter unprincipled extremism, unchecked by any sense of self-awareness or human decency?  I really don't know.


That Same Day On All The Other Streets

Some shitball in Texas has introduced an amendment in the budget process that would require any state-funded university which maintains a "gender and sexuality center or other center for students focused on gay, lesbian, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, transsexual, gender questioning, or other gender identity issues" to spend an equal amount on a "family and traditional values center". Those uppity queer students, trying to have places where they can focus on their issues without being shouted over by heteronormative, gender-policing society!  Why, it's just like the reverse discrimination of Black History month and Women's History month and gay pride parades! 

I think the best response here to quote the sometimes-disturbing, often-brilliant A Softer World comic (click the image to enlarge):
Comic reading, in three panels, over a backdrop of photos of a ferris wheel: I don't understand your complaint./There totally is a straight pride march./That same day, too. On all the other streets.
Look, 'phobes, I know you're scared.  But there's no need to be.  We're not trying to eradicate "traditional values" entirely or anything.  You're welcome to them if you want them.  We just want a space to be ourselves alongside without coercive attempts to remold us in the image you want, and currently, that means having our own centers dedicated to our issues.

If you *really* want to make LGBT/gender centers obsolete, you could always try overturning our culture's heteronormativity and gender-policing and transphobia, and then we wouldn't need them anymore.  Sadly, forcing your little "traditional values centers" on people is actually just going to exacerbate the issue and make our centers stick around a lot longer to combat the damage you're doing.

Suit yourself.  Asshole.


Turns Out, Army Chaplains *Not* The Unprofessional Crybabies DADT Repeal Opponents Made Them Out To Be

Spoiler alert: the conservatives were wrong again!

CNN had a brief article the other day about the Army chaplain corps working on training in preparation for DADT repeal to go into effect.  I'm sure y'all remember the claims made by anti-gay bigots during the DADT repeal fiasco, that it would cause chaplains to be unable to exercise their religion and thus abandon the service en masse, right?  Well, guess how many chaplains have applied for voluntary separation, now that they're actually training them in how to appropriately counsel and help openly LGB soldiers?

None.  That's right, not a single one, according to the spokesman for the chaplain corps.  Apparently one did ask for separation before the training began, but since it has, not a single one has asked to leave.  Further, no endorsing organizations (military chaplains must be endorsed by a religious group in order to qualify for service as a chaplain, it seems) have threatened to pull their endorsements, which would force their endorsed chaplains to leave the service.  The Army chaplain corps has some 2,900 members, and out of that, precisely ONE has left since the repeal bill was signed.

The CNN article is sprinkled with quotes about how the chaplains are basically shrugging and going about their business, already being fairly used to counseling and ministering to members of diverse faith groups, and not seeing this as much of an issue.

Looks like FRC underestimated the maturity and coping capacity of military chaplains.  But that's not much of a surprise.  I'd hope they're used to being wrong by now; they have so much practice at it, after all.


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