Rick Perry suffers bout of temporary sanity

Rick Perry, the recently re-elected governer of Texas, is a complete tool. The religious right owns him so thoroughly he might as well walk around wearing a dog collar and tags. This guy has such brazen, naked contempt for the concept of separation of church and state that he actually signed both an abortion bill and anti-gay marriage bill in a Fort Worth church. He’s an unapologetic theocrat who isn’t shy about letting you know you’re a second class citizen if you don’t flash your Jesus Fan Club membership card on command. Like a lot of people in his camp, he’s even got his own Ted Haggard rumor, though unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be any evidence to support it. (Though that didn’t stop the production of this hilarious bumper sticker.)

But Perry has gone and done something shocking. He’s actually gone against his Christian Taliban masters and issued an executive order requiring all girls entering the sixth grade in Texas to receive the HPV vaccine against cervical cancer.

Naturally, the anti-science fundie brigade is freaking out, because, in their quintessentially idiotic fashion, they have decided that the vaccine is not about preventing disease, but giving kids a licence for sexual promiscuity. Bimbette Cathie Adams of the Christian Right group Texas Eagle Forum reached this classically asinine conclusion: “Would they be more promiscuous? Chances are very good that they would be.” Yeah, well, speak for yourself, Cathie. Don’t you just love fundie “thinking”? In their world, every adolescent girl who gets this vaccine will suddenly experience an epiphany: “Wow! I’m innoculated against HPV now! And since things like my reputation or even my own common sense and personal tastes have never for one moment been an issue to me, this means I can go out and fuck everyone I see, starting with the high school janitor and working my way up through the whole football team and all the coaches.”

Yeah, Cathie. Sixth grade girls have just been itchin’ to put out like soda machines. And it’s only been the lack of this vaccine that’s held them back from their porn star aspirations.

As I’ve said before, fundamentalists just don’t seem to understand people very much, do they?

It remains to be seen what political punishment the Christian Right will exact upon their bitch for peeing on the carpet like this. Still, it’s rare when Perry does something that’s not only supported by sound science, but that’s actually for the good of the people of Texas he supposedly represents, and not just good for those clutching Bibles and scowling angrily. Perry’s bout of sanity may be only temporary. But it’s sure to have saved a number of girls’ lives.

Texas Mess

Texas State Senator Dan Patrick, author of the Christian bestseller, The Second Most Important Book You Will Ever Read, has published a press release announcing that the Texas State Senate unanimously approved the “Patrick Resolution” (SR 141). This bill requires the State Preservation Society to permanently affix the phrase, “In God We Trust” above the Lt. Governors podium.

The Atheist Community of Austin has published their own press release, admonishing the senate and the 80th Texas legislature for their authorship and support of this bill.

There are a few points about this situation that absolutely astonished me. First, I was surprised to learn that the Texas House of Representatives passed a similar resolution last week, by a vote of 142-3. (The Representatives voting against this resolution were; Donna Howard, Lon Burnman and Garnet Coleman.) Second, I was amazed that while all of this information was available online, it took a bit of digging to get to it. The press release regarding the Senate resolution didn’t come from the Senate, it came from the office of Senator Patrick. If Senator Patrick hadn’t mentioned the house resolution in his press release, many of us might not have known about it.

But the biggest surprise was the the Senate vote was unanimous. It’s a bit disheartening to learn that every one of our State Senators thinks that divisive statements of faith, as official actions of the legislature, are a good idea. Someone out there is thinking, “You live in Texas! What did you expect?!” That’s a sentiment I generally understand – but living in Austin has made me a bit more optimistic about Texas. A single ‘no’ vote, as a sign that there’s some hope, would have been nice.

As I pointed out in the ACA press release, the author of this bill has made it clear that it serves no secular purpose and is, as far as I can tell, a violation of the Constitutions of both Texas and The United States. While most people consider this bill a ‘good thing’ or, at worst, ‘no big deal’, I think it’s time that we challenge legislation like this – and a direct appeal to reverse the mistakes of the McCarthy error and restore the original national motto, is long overdue as well.

In the past, I’ve wavered on whether or not challenging “Under God” in the pledge or “In God We Trust” on our money was really a good idea. I was certain that they both needed to be changed, but I wasn’t certain that these were necessarily the best fights to pick. I’m now convinced that these are exactly the right fights.

The Texas State Constitution has the following statement in its Bill of Rights:

No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall any one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.”

We know that this is a violation of the U.S Constitution; a uninamous decision by the Supreme Court in Torcaso v. Watkins established that quite firmly. So why does it still appear in the Texas Constitution? Because no one has bothered to push for its removal – we recognize the passage is irrelevant, so it’s just not worth the bother.

Unfortunately, everyone isn’t up to speed on the finer points of law. Which means that this unconstitutional piece of nonsense still serves a purpose – it’s trotted out to support various myths about the religious nature of our government. It is a way of reenforcing a bias to those who won’t bother to investigate.

It’s right there, in black and white and it’s time we changed that.

Hey, at least he wasn’t gay, right?

Men of the Cloth Behaving Badly, Part 3,291: From sunny Vegas comes this delightful story about Catholic priest George Chaanine, who, in a fit of randiness that would cause even your average drunk Spring-Breaker to cringe, smashed a full bottle of wine over the head of a woman working at her desk in the parish office, dragged her by the hair to his own office, and proceeded to go all caveman on her. He then broke off the attack, declaring he was going to kill himself. Sadly, he didn’t follow through. The cops eventually got him, but not before he managed to make it almost all the way to Phoenix.

Things have been pretty calm for the Catholics for the last few years, as the horrors of the never-ending pedophilia scandals began to fade somewhat and most of Christianity’s sexual misadventures came from evangelicals instead. This is an unwelcome incident, but at least the diocese can take comfort in the fact Chaanine’s victim wasn’t a little boy.

When life intrudes…

Not much activity here the last few days. Well, the other guys post pretty rarely anyway, but I’ve had a number of other obligations on my time so it’s been quiet here overall. As for the final TAM report, I will probably post some photos and a quick rundown of the last day shortly. But to be honest, I’ve been kind of disappointed by the lack of response to the TAM coverage, so I’m wondering if the trouble I went to — running all over town to rent a laptop in the midst of an ice storm, paying the ridiculous surcharge for wifi that didn’t even extend to the Riviera’s convention center — was worth it. I’m sure it was; those reports resulted in much higher than usual traffic on the days they were posted. But the comments were light to nonexistent, making me wonder if the largest skeptic’s conference in the US is something people care all that much about. I mean, they really should. For all the work Randi’s doing, the woos and wackos still draw bigger audiences, and we need involved, not apathetic, people on the pro-reason and skepticism side making their voices heard.

Anyway, not to come across all angsty today. But I thought an explanation of why I’ve had better things to do than blog here over the past week was in order. I imagine I’ll get fired up again here soon. Somewhere out there in the world are religionists doing stupid things that deserve a smackdown, and I’ll be back here with a big smile on my face and a big stick in my hand.

Chocolate is the reason for the season!

Okay, I know everyone is still looking for that final TAM report. I am working on it (amazing how, when you return from a vacation, life just…slams you back into a routine). But this, I felt, was too good to pass up.

If there’s one thing I dearly, dearly love, it’s getting the “Action Alert” newsletters from Donald Wildmon’s American Family Association. I even love the name alone. “Action Alert”! One imagines a fundagelical prayer warrior, sitting at home minding his own business, when suddenly, a red light starts blinking (with accompanying staccato buzzing noise) on his computer! He leaps up, tearing off his shirt to reveal an AFA superhero costume underneath, and, grabbing his Bible — whoosh! — he’s out the door as his wife and kids wave to him, calling out, “Come home safe, Daddy!”

In reality, the Action Alerts are not nearly so Action-Packed. It’s mostly the usual round of homophobia and we’re-so-persecuted stuff, along with calls to boycott this or that other business that isn’t sufficiently genuflecting to their Christian superiority.

Most recently, the AFA wants to extend the shelf-life of the War on Christmas by turning it into a War on Easter. As has been reported many times, the War on Christmas was created by Christian activist groups for the purposes of fundraising. It’s a cash cow, with groups like the AFA stirring up persecution fears in their flock in order to sell zillions of dollars in buttons, decals, and the like. The fact of Christian Right groups being dishonest and sleazy is not, I know, earth-shattering news. But it’s sad that so many are still so easily suckered by it.

Not the least bit concerned that their motives are nakedly obvious to the rest of humanity, the AFA is sounding the “save Easter by sending us money” klaxon loud and clear. Their latest cash cow (cash calf?) is this button/magnet series to let the filthy unsaved know goddamn good and well that Easter is not about bunnies and chocolate. Nor is it, as them evil librul professors will tell you, a ritual originating in pagan cultures related to the vernal equinox in which they honored their goddess Cybele/Eostre/Astarte. Nope, it’s all about their god-man coming back to life at the end of that Mel Gibson movie…and nothing else! And what better way to remind those unsaved heathen about that fact than by sending Donald Wildmon a lot of money for some of these:

There! That’ll show ’em.

This is your invitation to sponsor you [sic] church’s participation in Silent Witness Week, to be observed during Holy Week April 1-8. Imagine this: Thousands of Christians wearing a very attractive lapel button which reads: Easter. He Lives! …This extremely attractive button is a silent but effective witness to Jesus and the Resurrection story. Wear it while shopping, at work, at school, etc. Silently let others know that Easter is about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, not a bunny or eggs.

Now, as Bugs Bunny often would say, “You realize of course that this means WAH!” I’ll put up with a lot from fundagelicals. But when they diss the Bunny and His Magic Eggs, they’ve gone too fucking far!

So in the spirit of the season — especially the “making money!” part — I’ve decided to respond with a button/magnet of my very own! Bask!

And you can order this lovely item right here!

Imagine thousands of atheists spreading the good news of chocolate and colored eggs to all of humanity! And all via the effective “silent witnessing” tool of a simple, elegant button or magnet! There has never been a better time to be a Silent Witness for the Bunny. Join Silent Witness Week, won’t you?

Poor, Tragic Yahweh

Christians often have the impression that atheists somehow hate Yahweh, the God of the Bible. We don’t, and we can’t, because we do not believe there are any gods to hate, even if we wanted to hate them.

Actually, in a sympathetic way, I find the character of Yahweh quite likable. Like most of the ancient gods, he’s an exaggeration of humanity, with both his good side and his foibles written larger than life. He’s just mucking along, trying to get his relationship with humanity to work out, but is met with failure after failure: he fails to keep Adam and Eve in the dark about good vs. evil; he’s so upset by his sons interbreeding with human women to create the hybrid god-man race know as Nephilim, that he decides to eradicate everyone but Noah and his family; he frees the Israelites from Egypt, but when their scouts are intimidated by the forces of Canaan, he pouts and has them remain nomads for forty years until most of the responsible adults are presumed dead; he establishes the reign of kings, starting with Saul, but that idea turns out to be a mixed bag; etc., etc., etc.; at long last, he inseminates Mary to become his own son, and sacrifices himself to himself to take advantage of a loophole in his own law of sin and death–but even this convoluted gesture failed to resolve his problems with mankind; he promised to come again and set everything straight within the lifetime of the apostles, but that didn’t happen either; two millennia later, it still hasn’t happened; those to whom he speaks, once respected as prophets, are regarded as lunatics today. What a compellingly tragic figure is Yahweh.

Welcome, Pharyngulites!

Due to another link from PZ to my latest TAM 5 posting, yesterday was this blog’s best day ever. Today is already about twice what we usually get in daily uniques, and it’s only 9:15 in the morning! Hope all of you fellow godless heathens stopping by from Pharyngula like what you see, and see fit to do the bookmarking thing. Next TAM 5 update coming later today!

Facing 10 years as Bubba’s Bitch, Hovind loses mind

This is just too funny. Hovind’s latest too-good-to-pass-up offer for the government: let me go and I’ll stop suing you. Oooo! Got ’em on the ropes there, Kent baby.

This editorial lays the smackdown on this cretin.

“You dishonor your fellow Americans” by dodging a fair share of taxes, [Judge Casey] Rodgers said.

She sentenced him to 10 years in prison.

Even then he resisted reality.

“I sure would like to go home,” he told Rodgers.

Oooh man. I almost feel sorry for the guy.

Wait! — what the hell am I saying? No I don’t!