Sunday, June 29, 2014


Taking a Vacation from Sense

As Right Wing Watch reports, Ken Ham is promoting creationist tours of the south rim of the Grand Canyon.
No matter where you go when visiting America's national parks, city zoos, and other attractions, the religion of evolution and millions of years permeates the culture. To help combat these lies and proclaim the authority of God's Word, every year Answers in Genesis partners with Canyon Ministries to hold creation raft trips through the Grand Canyon in northern Arizona. ...

Last year, Canyon Ministries began providing land-based rim tours of the Grand Canyon along its South Rim, operating under the name A Different View Tours. Now, rather than go to the rim and hear the anti-God, evolutionary explanation of the Canyon's formation, I encourage you to consider a tour with Canyon Ministries. It will provide you with a Bible-based presentation of the geology of the Canyon and how it confirms the Bible's account of a global Flood and belief in a young earth.
I frankly cannot understand how anyone can look at the above and think it came into existence in less than a year only 4,500 years ago.

But now, you can become stupider in air conditioned comfort in full or half day bus tours.

Saturday, June 28, 2014


It's Over ...

... the fat lady has officially sung!

The tiny town of Latta, South Carolina, with just 1,400 people, had a female Chief of Police who happens to be a lesbian. Despite having been on the police force for 23 years with a spotless record, she was fired by the new Mayor, supposedly for questioning authority and failing to maintain order, among other pretexts.

Then an audio recording of the mayor's homophobic rant surfaced:
"I would much rather have ... and I will say this to anybody's face ... somebody who drank and drank too much taking care of my child than I had somebody whose lifestyle is questionable around children.

Because that ain't the damn way it's supposed to be. You know ... you got people out there -- I'm telling you buddy -- I don't agree with some of the lifestyles that I see portrayed and I don't say anything because that is the way they want to live, but I am not going to let my child be around.

I'm not going to let two women stand up there and hold hands and let my child be aware of it. And I'm not going to see them do it with two men neither.

I'm not going to do it. Because that ain't the way the world works.

Now, all these people showering down and saying 'Oh it's a different lifestyle they can have it.' Ok, fine and dandy, but I don't have to look at it and I don't want my child around it."
The townsfolk rose up in protest and eventually held a referendum that overwhelmingly passed and stripped the mayor of much of his powers and transferred them to the town council. Last night, Crystal Moore was reinstated as police chief.

This is an example of antipodian philosopher John Wilkins' 95/95 rule: 95% of people are decent human beings 95% of the time. It is also an example of the power of familiarity. When you know people who are gay and realize that they are human beings, just like you; when you know that they are your friends and neighbors and even family members; when you see them as people with the same hopes, aspirations, sorrows and tragedies as you have; it is oh so much harder to hate them ... so much harder to stand by silently when the hatred by others tries to destroy them.

I have said all along that the most powerful aspect of the many recent court decisions in favor of equal rights for gays is not the legal reasoning or the sometimes soaring rhetoric, it is the stories of the people involved ... how ordinary they are, how so much like the rest of us they are. If you are one of the 95% and operating as you should that 95% of the time, you cannot help but to come to the aid of people like Crystal Moore.

Congratulations to the people of Latta, South Carolina!

For the haters who still insist it isn't over ... that LGBT bigotry can still make a comeback ... I say when you can't make a firing of a gay person just for being gay stick in a small town in South Carolina, it's OVER!!!


King Canute Keeps Losing

The tide keeps rolling in.

In another good week for marriage equality, a Federal judge in Indiana has struck down that state's same sex marriage ban and the first of the Circuit Courts of Appeal, the Tenth, has weighed in, upholding the District Court's overturning of Utah's ban. For the time being, this ruling also effects the District Court's ruling in Oklahoma, also part of the Tenth Circuit, that overturned that ban.

The 10th Circuit's decision was by a three judge panel and was 2-1. The state now has two choices: it can ask for an en banc hearing before the twelve judges of the full Circuit Court or they can immediately seek a writ of certiorari from the Supreme Court for permission to have the case heard there.

Some interesting things to keep in mind: if the state opts to seek a writ of certiorari, it only takes four justices to grant the writ. If the four "liberal" (really, "moderate") justices vote to grant it, it would signal that they think Justice Kennedy is willing to find that same sex marriage is a constitutional right and the opposite will apply if the conservative justices vote for certiorari.

The 10th Circuit panel applied the toughest of all standards in determining whether a statute is constitutional: "strict scrutiny." Earlier this week, the Ninth Circuit, in a case that involved, not same sex marriage, but preemptory challenges of jurors, refused to hold an en banc hearing of a three judge panel's determination that, in matters involving government action against gays, the second toughest standard: "heightened scrutiny," applies. Thus, again for the time being, any same sex marriage cases in the Ninth Circuit will be judged by "heightened scrutiny," which nobody thinks such bans can survive. Anyway, a number of the lower court decisions have made impressive cases for the fact that these laws don't even pass the lowest scrutiny, "rational basis."

Of course, as the writing on the wall has become clearer and clearer, the Religious Right has been progressively losing whatever mind they started out with, saying ever more crazy things.

I hope they keep it up.

There can be no better evidence that these laws were enacted, as Justice Kennedy put it in Windsor, out of animus; a purpose and effect of disapproval; an intent to impose a disadvantage, a separate status, and so a stigma upon all who enter into same-sex marriages.

At the very least, the wingnuts' shouts to the skies demonstrate that there is no rational basis for these laws.

Sunday, June 22, 2014


Stay Classy!

At Friday's Faith And Freedom Coalition Conference someone put a figurine shaped like President Barack Obama's head in a urinal in the ... um ... head.

In comparison, Dan Pfeiffer, a senior Obama adviser, Tweeted: "Totally uncalled for: Those ears are huge."

Saturday, June 21, 2014


The Virtues of Discrimination

The ever odious Bryan Fischer is extolling the virtue of "discrimination," specifically when it comes to sexual behavior:
We need to reclaim the word "discrimination." We need to take back the word "discrimination." "Discrimination" is not a bad word. The Left has turned "discrimination" into a bad word and when it comes to sexual behavior, "discrimination" is not a bad word. "Discrimination is, in fact, a good word.

We discriminate against non-normative, sexually abnormal behavior all the time and we should. From our vantage point, we believe ... I believe ... that homosexual behavior is non-normative. It is abnormal. It is a sexually deviant form of sexual expression. By that I mean it deviates from God's plan for human sexuality.

"Discrimination" when it comes to human sexuality is not bad, it is good and it is necessary. The alternative is utter social chaos. It's time, ladies and gentlemen, to reclaim the "discrimination" word when it comes to sexual matters. It's not bad, its good. It's a virtue and it's necessary.
To a certain extent Fischer is right. Words aren't good or bad. It's the thoughts and actions that words represent that are good or bad.

Let's look at the definition of "discrimination" from Merriam-Webster:
1 a: the act of discriminating

...b: the process by which two stimuli differing in some aspect are responded to differently

2: the quality or power of finely distinguishing

3 a: the act, practice, or an instance of discriminating categorically rather than individually

...b: prejudiced or prejudicial outlook, action, or treatment
I would add to definition 3 "the use of the law and/or the power of the state to enforce a prejudiced or prejudicial outlook."

I, as I'm sure most advocates for equal rights for LGBT people, couldn't give a rat's ass for any "fine distinctions" Fischer might actually be capable of making between gay and homosexual sex. We only care about his and his cohort's attempts to use the law and the power of the state to enforce their prejudice on others.

Fischer and his ilk are free to use the first two definitions of "discrimination" but not the third.

And I love the claim that, if we merely let consenting adults alone to decide what to do in their bedrooms, there will be "social chaos." No doubt the same "social chaos" George Wallace stood in the schoolhouse door to prevent.

Friday, June 13, 2014



Family Research Council president Tony Perkins said recently, in response to Colorado's Civil Rights Commission unanimously upholding a judge's finding that a baker unlawfully discriminated against gay customers:
I'm beginning to think, are re-education camps next? When are they going to start rolling out the boxcars to start hauling off Christians?
Uh, huh!

Meanwhile, Republican candidate for Oklahoma's state house of representatives, Scott Esk, having advocated stoning gay people to death in a Facebook post last year, defended the idea, writing that such a plan is "totally just" because he has "some very huge moral misgivings about those kinds of sins."

So, let's see ... Christians are taken to court where they have rights to counsel and due process and that is a harbinger of boxcars to death camps ... but Christian candidates for public office can advocate stoning gays to death and ... well, have you heard any great hysterical outcry from the Religious Right against Scott Esk? No, me neither.

Quell surprise!

Sunday, June 08, 2014


Wisconsin State ... Come On Down!

A Federal District Court judge in Wisconsin is the latest in a long line who has overturned anti-equality laws and state constitutional measures on the issue of same-sex marriage in a case entitled Wolf v. Walker. Based on only my informal and cursory survey of these decisions, Judge Barbara B. Crabb's may be the most learned and (legally speaking) scholarly of the bunch.

As I've said before, however, the most important part of these decisions may not be the legal reasoning, nor the sometimes soaring judicial rhetoric about freedom, but the stories of the basic humanity of the people involved. Judge Crabb says little about the gay plaintiffs involved and indulges in even less soaring rhetoric but there is a bit of neat legal reasoning that I'll highlight.

Wisconsin Family Action (you all know what "family" in an organization's name means!) filed an amicus brief in favor of Wisconsin's law and amendment to the state constitution and against same sex marriage. Naturally, it contained all the pretenses the religious right have put forward to avoid their real objection to gay marriage, namely that it is icky and because "God said so," which they know are losing legal arguments. Judge Crabb dealt with those arguments at length. Reading the decision is worth it for her evisceration of them all. But this one was particularly neat:
Although amici try to rely on the inherent "nature" of marriage as a way to distinguish anti-miscegenation laws from Wisconsin's marriage amendment, the argument simply reveals another similarity between the objections to interracial marriage and amici's objections to same-sex marriage. In the past, many believed that racial mixing was just as unnatural and antithetical to marriage as amici believe homosexuality is today.
Judge Crabb quotes Mildred Loving as stating that "[t]he majority believed . . . that it was God's plan to keep people apart and that the government should discriminate against people in love" but that she believes that "all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry" and goes on to say:
Although amici may believe that a particular sex is more "essential" to marriage than a particular race, this may reveal nothing more than amici's own views about what seems familiar and natural. ...

Even if I assume that amici are correct that the condemnation against miscegenation was not as "universal" as it has been against same-sex marriage, the logical conclusion of amici's argument suggests that the Supreme Court would have been compelled to uphold bans on interracial marriage if the opposition to them had been even stronger or more consistent. Of course, the Court's holding in Loving did not rest on a "loophole" that interracial marriage had been legal in some places during some times.
Neatly skewered, Judge Crabb ... neatly skewered!

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