Indiana high schoolers want to ban gays from prom

It seems like not much has changed since I was an Indiana high school student:

A team of Valley high schoolers and parents rally for a separate prom that bans gays.

NBC 2′s Paige Preusse reports how Sullivan High School says there’s nothing legally they can do to allow it… several students and parents are taking matters into their own hands.

Several parents, students, and others who believe gays should be banned from the Sullivan High School prom met Sunday at the Sullivan First Christian Church.

“We don’t agree with it and it’s offensive to us,” said Diana Medley.

Their idea is to create their own separate…traditional prom. Students say there are several others from their high school who agree, but are afraid to take a stand.

“If we can get a good prom then we can convince more people to come and follow what they believe,” said student Kynon Johnson.

And now they want everyone to know where they stand.

“We want to make the public see that we love the homosexuals, but we don’t think it’s right nor should it be accepted,” said a local student.

We love you…but you’re offensive, wrong, and shouldn’t be accepted. Um, that’s kind of the antithesis of love, guys.

Diana Medley is a special education teacher in town. She doesn’t believe anyone is born gay.

“I believe that it was life circumstances and they chose to be that way; God created everyone equal,” said Medley.

“Homosexual students come to me with their problems, and I don’t agree with them, but I care about them. It’s the same thing with my special needs kids, I think God puts everyone in our lives for a reason,” said Madley.

“‘So the same goes for gays? Do you think they have a purpose in life?’ No I honestly don’t. Sorry, but I don’t. I don’t understand it. A gay person isn’t going to come up and make some change unless it’s to realize that it was a choice and they’re choosing God,” said Medley.

Your gay students have no purpose in life? That’s how you “care” about someone? This is how you talk about your students who are coming to you for fucking help? I can only hope that she’s not pushing her “you must choose God” bullshit on the special ed students trapped in her classroom.

Several local pastors support the separate prom movement.

“Christians have always been prepared for a fight. Jesus gave us armor for the front, not the back; we’re not running anymore,” said Bill Phegley with Carlisle Church.

Are you fucking kidding me? This is all about how the poor little Christians are being persecuted when you’re the ones banning LGBT students?!

If the thought of a girl dancing with a girl or a guy dancing with a guy unnerves you that much, that’s you’re fucking problem. Don’t go to prom. You don’t get to ban people because they give you the willies because we have separation of church and state in this country, which means you can keep your stupid fucking ass-backwards delusions to yourself and not force it on your fellow students.

Yeah, I’m mad. This pisses me off more than usual. You know why? Because I spent my high school years desperately defending my LGBT friends. When I overheard people saying “that’s gay” as an insult or calling someone a fag, I was the first to step in and tell them that it was offensive and unacceptable. When I was standing in lunch line and people would be talking about how disgusting my lesbian friends were, oblivious that I was friends with those ‘fucking dykes,” you know what I did? I spoke up. I told them they were fucking bigots and if they had a problem with my friends, they had a problem with me. And they shrunk into silenced fear in front of me, only to spread rumors that I was obviously a lesbian throughout the whole school. As if that would insult me.

When my lesbian friend wanted to start a Gay Straight Alliance to combat the constant bullying she faced from other students, I was the VP so I could do everything to help her organize. And she needed all the help she could get, since no one else wanted to help her. No teachers would be the adviser for the club because it was career suicide. The principal wouldn’t allow us to be an official group because we were “non-academic” and if he let us in, he’d have to let in other non-academic clubs like a “Nazi group” (his example). This was despite the fact that my high school already had plenty of non-academic clubs.

When my friend’s mom threatened to sue their asses off since what they were doing was blatantly illegal, the principal eased off…a little. He let us meet in a side room of the library, but wouldn’t let us be an official club. He let us put up flyers advertising our meetings, but the flyers couldn’t contain the words “gay,” “lesbian,” “bisexual,” “GLBT,” “sex,” or “sexual orientation” because they were “inappropriate for high school students.” When we came to our meetings, most of the time the librarians purposefully locked us out so we wouldn’t be able to meet. When we complained, nothing happened. The Fellowship of Christian Athletes, on the other hand, got plenty of meeting space and was allowed to freely advertise throughout the school despite technically being “unofficial.”

And when prom rolled around, they wouldn’t sell my friend and her girlfriend a couple’s ticket because those were only for “real couples” – aka a boy and a girl – because they didn’t want two female friends buddying up to just get a discounted rate. Instead they would have to buy more expensive individual tickets if they wanted to go, and would not get any of the couple ticket benefits (a balloon with your names on it, a couple photo, and basic fucking dignity).

Instead they told the school to go fuck themselves and went to a Star Wars convention, where they were accepted and had a blast.

My lesbian friends were the lucky ones. They were able to be out because they had supportive parents, and also because lesbianism is often more accepted. Especially when you happen to be really attractive lesbians, so all the bigoted straight dudes in the school can sexually objectify you instead of only bullying you. But my gay male friends? They were all hidden in the closet, and terrified at being outed. They might have been out to a couple close friends, but I found so many of my classmates coming out once they had escaped to college. It made me sadder. If I had known what those people were feeling in high school, I would have been an ally to them too.

And you know why I’m still so angry? Because even though I graduated 7 years ago, and even though students have been desperately trying to form a GSA every one of those years, they are still being stonewalled by the school administration. There’s still no GSA and students are still constantly bullied because of their sexual orientation. And this is in a town that’s part of the “liberal” part of Indiana.

And the Christian students are the ones who are being persecuted?

Why did I do all of these things? Why did I care so passionately about gay rights even though it didn’t personally affect me? Not because my parents “brainwashed” me to support gay rights or subscribe to some liberal agenda. We never discussed the topic, honestly. My parents just taught me to be a person who is kind to others. That’s all.

It saddens me that these Christian students have been taught to hate instead.

Atheism+: It’s time to walk the walk

Hundreds of you are excited about Atheism+. I’m excited about A+. This is our chance for a new wave of atheism – a wave that’s more than a dictionary definition about not believing in gods. This is our chance for progressive atheists to come together and deal with issues that we see as a natural part of our godlessness.

But we need more than just a catchy name and a logo. We need to get shit done.

This new wave of atheism isn’t about declaring “We’ve already achieved something better” or “We’re not like those assholes.” You don’t just get your shiny membership pin and get to say you’re done. This is about saying “We want to work TOWARDS something better.” We need to recognize that there’s still room for self-improvement and to address the root of why we’ve been having these problems in atheism and skepticism. We need to focus on actual change instead of prematurely crowning ourselves victorious.

We need a plan.

So consider this an open thread on what you would like to see come out of a new wave of atheism. What issues should we be addressing and how? What actions should we be taking? How can we prevent this from having the same exact flaws that worried us enough to call for a new wave?

To start us off, here are some issues I envision A+ addressing from a secular, skeptical perspective:

  • Racism
  • Sexism
  • Homophobia
  • Transphobia
  • Ableism
  • Classism
  • Ageism
  • Neurotypicalism
  • Animal welfare
  • Environmental issues
  • Political issues (Health care, crime, drug laws)

And as I said in my original post, I had been brainstorming with people to start a secular social justice organization. Our original tentative name was the Secular Alliance for Equality (SAFE) but we could always go with Atheism+ since that seemed to organically resonate with people. We envisioned ourselves as an umbrella group like the Secular Student Alliance that could provide services that help other groups become more welcoming and progressive. Here are some practical actions we came up with:

  • Providing basic anti-harassment policies that can be adopted and adapted by secular groups
  • Providing “101″ educational primers on privilege, intersectionality, proper language, etc
  • Providing guides for making your groups and events more welcoming, diverse, and accessible
  • Providing event planning resources and ideas
  • Providing a diverse speakers bureau
  • Encouraging conferences and groups to increase speaker and topic diversity
  • Holding workshops about social justice and diversity at conferences
  • Organizing national events around progressive issues (for example, getting as many groups as possible to participate in gay pride parades)
  • Working alongside other existing organizations that share our values (like humanists!)
  • Writing blog posts/press releases about relevant issues
  • Providing a safe, moderated community for discussion – Facebook, forum, blog comments, r/atheismplus (which already exists! check it out!)

I can’t stress how important it is that we actively work toward true improvement instead of patting ourselves on the back and declaring ourselves enlightened. I also desperately want to hear from people with as many different backgrounds as possible. As a cis, middle class, white person, I have my own privileges. I can’t unilaterally declare what would be best for a progressive atheist movement. So please – brainstorm in the comments so we can truly start to make change happen.

Atheism+

Yesterday I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I finally hit publish on “How I Unwittingly Infiltrated the Boy’s Club & Why It’s Time for a New Wave of Atheism.” The cynical part of me wondered why I had wasted five hours of my Saturday for the same torrent of hateful comments. How masochistic was I becoming? But the optimist in me hoped that just enough people would want to change this movement with me.

I can honestly say this is the first time that waking up to over 500 comments on a post that mentions feminism has filled me with absolute joy.

95% of the comments I’ve received have been overwhelmingly positive. That…that has never happened before. Usually if I can hit 50% supportive comments I feel like I’ve done well. But not only were you guys supportive, you were excited. I didn’t expect you to have come up with names and logos for the third wave…and I really didn’t expect you all to basically agree. We tend to be like herding cats, but not this time.

You called for Atheism+.

Logo suggestion by One Thousand Needles

Logo suggestions by Jadehawk

It’s perfect. It illustrates that we’re more than just “dictionary” atheists who happen to not believe in gods and that we want to be a positive force in the world.  Commenter dcortesi suggested how this gets atheists out of the “negativity trap” that we so often find ourselves in, when people ask stuff like “What do you atheists do, besides sitting around not-praying, eh?”

We are…
Atheists plus we care about social justice,
Atheists plus we support women’s rights,
Atheists plus we protest racism,
Atheists plus we fight homophobia and transphobia,
Atheists plus we use critical thinking and skepticism.

It speaks to those of us who see atheism as more than just a lack of belief in god. danielmchugh summarized how I feel perfectly:

Religion is responsible for generating and sustaining most of the racism, sexism, anti-(insert minority human subgroup here)-isms… it gave a voice to the bigotry, established the privilege, and fed these things from the pulpit for thousands upon thousands of years. What sense does it make to throw out the garbage bag of religion yet keep all the garbage that it contained?

I can’t help but see social justice as a logical consequence of atheism. I’m for getting rid of all the garbage.

As for the next steps on how to get rid of that garbage, I’ll make another post with my ideas soon. Feel free to use this post to discuss how you feel about A+. I don’t think it needs to be an official name – I want to improve the atheist movement, not create a splinter faction or something. But it’s fabulous marketing-wise and as a way to identify yourself as a progressive atheist, or whatever term you want to use. I know I’d love for people to start wearing A+ pins and Surlyramics so I know who I want to chat with.

EDIT: How could I forget to mention that commenter Pteryxx deserves the credit for the A+ idea? A bajillion internet points to you!

How I Unwittingly Infiltrated the Boy’s Club & Why It’s Time for a New Wave of Atheism

It’s been five years now since I first became involved with the atheist and skeptic movements. And for most of those five years, I felt like I belonged. When I started the Society of Non-Theists at Purdue University, I was relieved to know I wasn’t the only atheist on my campus. So when I realized there was an even greater national movement, I was elated to become a part of it. I had finally found people who shared my passion and values. I was welcomed with open arms.

Until I started talking about feminism.

You see, my previous atheist activism wasn’t sullied by the f-word. People applauded me for starting an atheist group on a conservative college campus. For blogging about our events and getting local media attention. For volunteering as a board member of the Secular Student Alliance. And most of all, for creating Boobquake.

I’ve always considered myself a feminist, but I used to be one of those teenagers who assumed the awesome ladies before me had solved everything. But Boobquake made me wake up. What I originally envisioned as an empowering event about supporting women’s freedoms and calling out dangerous superstitious thinking devolved into “Show us your tits!” I received sexual invitations from strangers around the country. When I appeared or spoke at atheist events, there was always a flood of comments about my chest and appearance. I’ve been repeatedly told I can never speak out against people objectifying or sexually harassing me because a joke about my boobs was eternal “consent.”

So I started speaking up about dirty issues like feminism and diversity and social justice because I thought messages like “please stop sexually harassing me” would be simple for skeptics and rationalists. But I was naive. Like clockwork, every post on feminism devolved into hundreds of comments accusing me being a man-hating, castrating, humorless, ugly, overreacting harpy. Despite the crap I received, I continued to publicly support these movements and stress that the haters were just a tiny minority. I thought this flood of sexism I had never experienced before was just a consequence of me growing up and heading out into the real world, and had nothing to do with these movements in particular. I can’t count how many times I publicly stressed that the atheist/skeptical movement, while not perfect, is still a safer place for women and other minorities.

But now I recognize that I was trying to convince myself that this is true.

I don’t feel safe as a woman in this community – and I feel less safe than I do as a woman in science, or a woman in gaming, or hell, as a woman walking down the fucking sidewalk.  People shat themselves with rage at the suggestion that cons should have anti-sexual harassment policies. DJ Grothe, president of JREF, blamed those evil feminist bloggers for TAM’s female attendance problem instead of trying to fix what’s scaring women away (and then blocked me on Twitter and unfriended me on Facebook for good measure). A 15 year old girl posted a photo of herself holding a Carl Sagan book to r/atheism and got a flood of rape jokes in return. The Amazing Atheist purposefully tried to trigger a rape survivor. Paula Kirby decided we’re all feminazis and femistasis. I’ve become used to being called a cunt or having people threaten to contact my employers because a feminist can’t be a good scientist. Rebecca Watson is still receiving constant rape and death threats a year after she said “Guys, don’t do that.” And mentioning her name is a Beetlejuice-like trigger for a new torrent of hate mail.

Groups of people are obsessively devoted to slandering Freethought Blogs as a whole because many of us have feminist leanings. They photoshop things to try to humiliate us, they gain unauthorized access to our private email listserv. And anyone associated with us feminists are fair game. People have tried to destroy Surly Amy’s business, and Justin Vacula has publicly posted her home address with a photo. One blogger who describes their blog as “rejecting the watson/myers doctrine” ridiculed skeptical teen activist (and feminist ally) Rhys Morgan for flunking his exams because he had severe physical and mental illnesses.

I now realize I was never truly welcome in this movement. I just managed to unwittingly sneak in before I opened my big fat feminist mouth.

I was exactly what a Boy’s Club wanted. I was a young, not-hideous woman who passionately supported their cause. I made them look diverse without them having to address their minority-repelling privilege. They liked that I joked about sex and boobs not because it was empowering for me, but because they saw it as a pass to oggle and objectify. But the Boy’s Club rescinds its invitation once they realize you’re a rabble-rousing feminist. I was welcome at TAM when I was talking about a boob joke, but now I’m persona non grata for caring about sexual harassment. I used to receive numerous comments about how hot and attractive I was, but when I politely asked for people to keep the discussion professional, the comments morphed into how I was an ugly cunt. I was once considered an up-and-coming student leader, but now I’m accused of destroying the movement.

Well, that last bit is partially true. I want to destroy the part of the movement that has privilege as its foundation, as Natalie Reed perfectly describes:

The creepy thought that the reason a lot of outspoken, committed, passionate atheists are choosing this as their arena is because they’re too selfish, too entitled, or too sheltered, to allow any other issues to really matter to them. That they choose this ONE civil rights issue to dedicate themselves to, because it’s the ONLY legitimate civil rights issue that actually affects them, secure in their absence of ovaries, melanin, exogenous hormones, medical devices/supports, welfare checks, track scars and rainbow flags.

[...]It seems that there’s some kind of weird psychological need that a lot of people, perhaps in response to feelings that their belief of their privileges being earned is under threat, valorize and mythologize themselves as valiant Robin Hoods who dare to speak truth to power and stand up for the little guy against the tyrannical… …. Jews? Blacks? Trans people? Atheists? Women? The theme is always the same, however.

And what I worry is how much Atheism might be offering a similar sort of feeling without requiring the same levels of divorcing oneself from reality and diving into some kind of Bizarro World inversion of actual social dynamics. That what atheism is offering so many middle-class, white, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied men is the capacity to see themselves as these savvy, smart, daring, controversial rogues who are standing up against an oppressive dogma in order to liberate the deluded sheeple. They’re, like, totally against swallowing the blue pill, dude. And so they get to be the heroes of their own narratives, instead of a passive passenger adrift on social forces more or less beyond their control… social forces that happened to guide them into a relatively safe and comfy position.

No matter how limited your views, no matter how much privilege you have, when you prop yourself up against Christianity, you get to be clever, and you get to be the rebel.

I don’t want good causes like secularism and skepticism to die because they’re infested with people who see issues of equality as mission drift. I want Deep Rifts. I want to be able to truthfully say that I feel safe in this movement. I want the misogynists, racists, homophobes, transphobes, and downright trolls out of the movement for the same reason I wouldn’t invite them over for dinner or to play Mario Kart: because they’re not good people. We throw up billboards claiming we’re Good Without God, but how are we proving that as a movement? Litter clean-ups and blood drives can only say so much when you’re simultaneously threatening your fellow activists with rape and death.*

It’s time for a new wave of atheism, just like there were different waves of feminism. I’d argue that it’s already happened before. The “first wave” of atheism were the traditional philosophers, freethinkers, and academics. Then came the second wave of “New Atheists” like Dawkins and Hitchens, whose trademark was their unabashed public criticism of religion. Now it’s time for a third wave – a wave that isn’t just a bunch of “middle-class, white, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied men” patting themselves on the back for debunking homeopathy for the 983258th time or thinking up yet another great zinger to use against Young Earth Creationists. It’s time for a wave that cares about how religion affects everyone and that applies skepticism to everything, including social issues like sexism, racism, politics, poverty, and crime. We can criticize religion and irrational thinking just as unabashedly and just as publicly, but we need to stop exempting ourselves from that criticism.

Changing a movement seems like a mighty task (especially when you lack a witty name – the Newer Atheists doesn’t have a great ring to it). But the reason I’m not throwing my hands up in the air and screaming “I quit” is because we’re already winning. It’s an uphill battle, for sure – in case you’ve forgotten, scroll up and reread this post. But change is coming. Some national organizations accepted anti-harassment policies with no fuss at all. A lot of local or student groups are fabulous when it comes to issues of diversity and social justice. A number of prominent male leaders have begun speaking out against this surge of hate directed at women. I’m working with others to hopefully start an atheist/skeptical organization specifically focused on issues of equality. And although the response from the haters is getting louder and viler, they’re now vastly outnumbered by supportive comments (which wasn’t always true). This surge of hate is nothing more than the last gasp of a faction that has reached its end.

There will inevitably be people who use this post as evidence of some gynocratic conspiracy and will hunker down even more (for examples, check the comment section in a couple of hours – odds are good you’ll find some). There will be organizations, conferences, communities, and individuals that will never care about diversity or equality or social justice. There will be some that continue to devote their free time to harassing and threatening the rest of us instead of going outside for a walk or reading a book. Though these people claim to love reason, no amount of reason will ever get them to admit that they’re wrong. So to them, all I have to say is have fun as you circle jerk into oblivion. Keep unintentionally or intentionally excluding women, minorities, and progressives while cluelessly wondering why you’re losing members, money, and clout. The rest of us will be moving on.

If you’re ready for this new wave of atheism, now is the time to speak up. Say that you’re ready. Vocally support organizations and individuals that are already doing it right. Vocally criticize the inappropriate and hateful behavior so the victims of such actions know you’re on their side. Demand that your organizations and clubs evolve, or start your own if they refuse.

The Boy’s Club may have historically ruled the movement, but they don’t own it. We can.

*EDIT: I want to clarify that I did not mean the people and organizations involved with the official “Good without God” campaigns are the ones behind the rape and death threats. My intent was to show that if we’re publicly promoting atheists as good people, we need to deal with the not-so-good stuff that’s happening behind the scenes. I chatted with Greg Epstein specifically and he’s super supportive of the mission of A+.

Violence is never the answer

The headquarters of the Family Research Council, a Christian anti-gay hate group, was attacked this morning. A gunman who seemingly disagreed with their stance opened fire and wounded a security guard. I don’t care how much I disagree with someone’s political and religious views – violence is never the answer. If we want to live in a civilized society, we need to let our ideas speak for themselves without the fear of murder. My condolences to everyone affected by this terrible act.

Conservative pundit wants “Underground Railroad” to kidnap children of gay parents

Today’s example of “Holy fuck I didn’t realize bigots could be this evil”:

On Tuesday, conservative pundit Bryan Fischer released an internet firestorm after advocating for an “Underground Railroad to deliver innocent children from same-sex households.” The comment, released on Twitter, links to a Chicago Tribune article about a Mennonite priest charged in aiding in the abduction of the 10-year-old daughter of a same-sex couple.

Fischer, who hosts the radio show Focal Point on American Family Radio, stated earlier this week:

“The only way now in America’s legal system that you can protect your child from being raised in a same-sex household is to get that kid into the Underground Railroad and get that child out of dodge.”

I’m not even sure where to start, so let’s begin with the obvious: Being a child of same-sex parents is kind of a tiny bit different than being an African American slave. Like, for one, you’re not a slave. I can’t comprehend how someone thinks having two daddies or two mommies is equivalent to literally having no rights. Are children of same-sex parents shackled and beaten? Are they forced to work in terrible conditions? Are they never allowed to leave or own land or vote even when they grow up? No. Children of same-sex couples fare just as well as children of opposite-sex couples, with children of lesbians actually doing better. Way to simultaneously say “fuck you” to both same-sex families and descendents of slaves.

The truly bizarre thing is that Fischer frames this as a way to protect your child. As if all children in same-sex households were originally kidnapped by The Gays from wholesome Christian families, where Peter Pan gathering up Lost Boys is a literal interpretation of the gay agenda. Is this seriously a concern of conservative opposite-sex couples? “How do I protect my child from being raised by The Gays?!” Maybe you could…I dunno, not put your child up for adoption? Not become gay? There seem to be less radical options than kidnapping other children available.

Despite criticism, Fischer stands by his remarks, and stated on Focal Point that the kidnapper has an obligation “to obey God rather than man.”

As for that, all I have to say is read your own Bible:

“Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21)

So you were just called a bigot

I know your feelings are hurt. No one wants to be called a bigot, right? But before you do something silly like scream “FREE SPEECH” or say I’m the bigot, let’s rewind a bit.

Chick-Fil-A has funneled millions of dollars toward certified hate groups in order to fund campaigns that depict gay people as pedophiles, fight against “gay behavior” and the legalization of same-sex marriage, and support dangerous “pray away the gay” programs. They also used their profits to support Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” bill. When I first found out about these atrocious things a couple of years ago, I stopped eating at Chick-Fil-A (despite how much I love their delicious chicken sandwiches). I did not feel right knowing my money could ultimately be used to hurt GLBT people.

I could originally understand why someone wouldn’t boycott an organization that they disagree with politically. I bet there are things I buy that support things I hate, mostly because I don’t know any better, partially because I can’t financially afford to boycott everything. But now that Chick-Fil-A has been in the public eye, you know better. And if you drove to a Chick-Fil-A today to show your solidarity with the organization, you’re not just some random apathetic person who likes a chicken sandwich and doesn’t care about where their $5 goes.

You are a bigot.

You are saying “I agree with Chick-Fil-A’s anti-gay stance!” And your irrational hatred of gay people is bigotry at its finest.

Now, why do I bring this up? I tweeted that “I love seeing the long lines at Chick-Fil-A. It’s not often you get to watch the last desperate gasp of bigotry before it loses.” I then discovered that saying “Chick-Fil-A” on twitter is like some sort of terrible Bat Signal for assholes who are irrationally afraid of Teh Gay. The BigotSignal, even. But instead of a bat, it’s a giant chicken. Or a cross. A chicken on a cross?

I digress.

It seems like people don’t like it when you call them bigots, so the stupidity started rolling in. There were three main classes of responses:

1. Waaaah, you called me a name! I’m not a bigot because I say so!

If I call you a mean name, it does not mean my argument or stance is incorrect. It means I’m kind of being a jerk. But I didn’t call anyone names. When I call you a bigot, it’s not because I disagree with you. I don’t call people who like mint-chocolate ice cream bigots. It’s because you were being bigoted. It’s simple. If you want me to stop calling you a bigot, stop being a bigot.

2. FREE SPEEEEEEECH

Here is a case where I might call someone ignorant (no screen capture of her tweet because she later blocked me). But again, it’s not name-calling because it’s true. The government is not taking away your right to say how much you love fried chicken sandwiches or how much you hate gay people. Thus, no free speech violation. Just as you have the right to spew ignorant hatred on Twitter, I have to right to point and laugh and say you’re wrong. And a bigot.

3. You’re the real bigot!

Ahh, the old “Your intolerance of intolerant people makes you the real bigot!” gambit. It’s amusing on so many levels. For one, it’s like they’re implicitly admitting that yes, they are bigoted toward GLBT people, but it doesn’t matter because you’re bigoted too! Against bigots! GOTCHA!

I call you a bigot because you support those terrible things I listed above: legally denying GLBT individuals equal rights, slandering them publicly, damaging them through terrible psychological programs, and even killing them. You can call me a bigot if I start campaigning that Chick-Fil-A-Holes should not be able to marry, adopt, or serve in the military. You can call me a bigot if I ship my friends off for traumatic psychological boot camps because they dared to eat a chicken sandwich. You can call me a bigot if I compare being Republican to pedophilia, bestiality, or necrophilia.

If my worst offense is disagreeing with you, trying to convince you that you’re wrong, or calling you a name? That’s not bigotry, despite how much your martyr complex wishes it were so.

This is bigotry:

Consenting adults.

The last gasps indeed.

Sources claim Purdue’s next President is Mitch Daniels

As a liberal Purdue alumna, this is terrible news:

Purdue University officials plan to vote on a candidate for the school’s next president this week – and WISH-TV has learned Gov. Mitch Daniels is the candidate in question.

The Purdue Board of Trustees will meet at 10 a.m. Thursday in Steward Center’s Loeb Playhouse to vote on a nominee to be the school’s 12th president. Several sources close to the proceedings tells WISH-TV that the nominee is Daniels. After the vote, the president-elect will be introduced, the school said in a news release.

Daniels’ office had no comment Tuesday afternoon. However, sources with connections to both Purdue and the governor said it’s a done deal.

There’s a lot of reasons to be freaking out that this Republican Governor is about to become President of my alma mater. He defunded Planned Parenthood, hurt public education with conservative voucher programs, supported anti-union legislation, opposed same-sex marriage and civil unions, and enacted voter ID laws that primarily negatively affected young, elderly, and minority voters…just to name a few things. But the thing that will enrage most of my blog readers is what he had to say about atheists in 2009:

People who reject the idea of a God -who think that we’re just accidental protoplasm- have always been with us. What bothers me is the implications -which not all such folks have thought through- because really, if we are just accidental, if this life is all there is, if there is no eternal standard of right and wrong, then all that matters is power.

And atheism leads to brutality. All the horrific crimes of the last century were committed by atheists -Stalin and Hitler and Mao and so forth- because it flows very naturally from an idea that there is no judgment and there is nothing other than the brief time we spend on this Earth.

Everyone’s certainly entitled in our country to equal treatment regardless of their opinion. But yes, I think that folks who believe they’ve come to that opinion ought to think very carefully, first of all, about how different it is from the American tradition; how it leads to a very different set of outcomes in the real world.

When I was at Purdue, I founded the Society of Non-Theists, a student organization for atheists, agnostics, and irreligious students on campus. I founded it because I felt like the only atheist on campus, and Purdue was not a welcoming place to me. Over the years as my old club has grown and grown, so many people have thanked me for providing a place where they can openly discuss their non-theism without fear or stigma. And now Mitch Daniels is slated to be President.

Let’s be honest. Purdue is one of the most socially backwards universities in the Big 10, if not the most socially backwards. We’re always dead last when is comes to having GLBT resources on campus, and the community is hostile to anyone who isn’t a white, conservative Christian. My only hope before was that the administration was very supportive, even if the students and greater community wasn’t. Now I’m not so sure.

During my time at Purdue, I was also a member of the President’s Leadership Class. 30 of the ~7,000 incoming freshmen were selected for PLC based on their academics and exemplary leadership abilities. We met in the living room of President Jischke’s house every Monday to discuss leadership, receive training, and make connections. They were fostering us to be the leaders of tomorrow.

The leaders of tomorrow don’t discriminate against atheists, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered individuals.

If you’re a Purdue student or alumni, please email the Presidential Search Committee and [email protected] and let them know why you don’t support Mitch Daniels as President of Purdue.

Obama publicly declares support for same-sex marriage

Finally.

This was probably my favorite part of the interview:

“It’s interesting, some of this is also generational,” the president continued. “You know when I go to college campuses, sometimes I talk to college Republicans who think that I have terrible policies on the economy, on foreign policy, but are very clear that when it comes to same sex equality or, you know,  believe in equality. They are much more comfortable with it. You know, Malia and Sasha, they have friends whose parents are same-sex couples. There have been times where Michelle and I have been sitting around the dinner table and we’re talking about their friends and their parents and Malia and Sasha, it wouldn’t dawn on them that somehow their friends’ parents would be treated differently. It doesn’t make sense to them and frankly, that’s the kind of thing that prompts a change in perspective.”

I think the first thing you learn once you become an adult is that adults don’t always get it right. What a perfect example.

I’m still cranky that he framed it as a “leave it up to the states issue”… I mean, if you truly believed this about equal rights, why should it be left up to popular vote? That didn’t exactly go well in North Carolina last night. But his support is still progress.

What do you think about this announcement?

Christianity is bullshit, and I’m not apologizing for saying that

Religious bigots are furious with Dan Savage yet again. This time their rage is inspired by a speech Dan gave at the National High School Journalism Conference, where he points out the “bullshit” in the Bible and a trickle of Christians get up and walk out of his talk. Watch the video for a wonderful speech and the poor butthurt Christians leaving (in a single file line that starts in unison…smells like a planned walk-out to me):

Here’s a transcript of the speech for those of you who can’t watch the video:

“People often point out that they can’t help it. They can’t help with the anti-gay bullyings because it says right there in Leviticus, it says right there in Timothy, it says right there in Romans that being gay is wrong.  We can learn to ignore the bullshit in the Bible about gay people the same way we have learned to ignore the bullshit in the Bible about shellfish, about slavery, about dinner, about farming, about menstruation, about virginity, about masturbation. We ignore bullshit in the Bible about all sorts of things.

The Bible is a radically pro-slavery document. Slave owners waved Bibles over their heads during the Civil War and justified it. The shortest book in the New Testament is a letter from Paul to a Christian slave owner about owning his Christian slave. And Paul doesn’t say Christians don’t own people. Paul talks about how Christians own people. We ignore what the Bible said about slavery because the Bible  got slavery wrong. Sam Harris in Letter to a Christian Nation points out that the Bible got the easiest moral question that humanity has ever faced wrong: slavery.

What are the odds that the Bible got something as complicated as human sexuality wrong? 100%. The Bible says that if your daughter’s not a virgin on her wedding night – that a woman isn’t a virgin on her wedding night, that she shall be dragged to her father’s doorstep and stoned to death. Callista Gingrich lives. And there is no effort to amend state constitutions to make it legal to stone women to death on their wedding night if they’re not virgins. At least not yet. We don’t know where the GOP is going these days. People are dying because people can’t clear this one last hurdle. They can’t get past this one last thing in the Bible about homosexuality.

One thing I want to talk about is – ha, so you can tell the Bible guys in the hall that they can come back in because I’m done beating up the Bible. It’s funny that someone who’s on the receiving end of beatings that are justified by the Bible, how pansy-assed some people react to being pushed back. I apologize if I hurt anyone’s feelings but I have the right to defend myself, and to point out the hypocrisy of people who justify anti-gay bigotry by pointing to the Bible and insisting that we must live by the code of Leviticus on this one issue and no other.”

I transcribed that speech so I’m sure you know exactly what Dan Savage said… because right-wing lunatics seem to have listened to an entirely different speech. Focus on the Family was the first time chime in, opportunistically on their bigoted anti-Day of Silence event:

“Using profanity to deride the Bible—and then mocking the Christian students after they left the room—is obviously a form of bullying and name-calling. This illustrates perfectly what we’ve been saying all along: Too many times in the name of “tolerance,” Christian students find their faith being openly mocked and belittled in educational environments. Incidents like this one stand in stark contrast to the principles we’ve continually espoused on our Web sites, truetolerance.org and dayofdialogue.com, which call for a free exchange of ideas and respect for different viewpoints, including those that are faith-based and socially conservative.”

You see, it’s exactly the same. On one hand, we have someone pointing out that certain ideas of an oppressive majority group are wrong. On the other hand, we have that oppressive majority group bullying children until they commit suicide because those children have a biological trait that the oppressive majority finds abhorrent because their invisible sky daddy told them so in a really old book. And Focus on the Family is pro-dialogue because they’re allowed to talk about their beliefs, but you have to shut up about yours.

Duh.

It’s not just Focus on the Family: the various conservative fundies have chimed in with the typical “Help, help, us poor Christians are being oppressed and bullied! Waaaah!” The concept of Christians being persecuted in the US is laughable, but I’m not laughing. Why? Because Christians who scream “persecution!” are doing it to silence dissent. It even worked on Savage, who apologized for calling the walk-out “pansy-assed” (which it was) and explained that he wasn’t calling Christianity bullshit:

“I didn’t call anyone’s religion bullshit. I did say that there is bullshit—”untrue words or ideas“—in the Bible. That is being spun as an attack on Christianity. Which is bullshhh… which is untrue. I was not attacking the faith in which I was raised. I was attacking the argument that gay people must be discriminated against—and anti-bullying programs that address anti-gay bullying should be blocked (or exceptions should be made for bullying “motivated by faith”)—because it says right there in the Bible that being gay is wrong. Yet the same people who make that claim choose to ignore what the Bible has to say about a great deal else. I did not attack Christianity. I attacked hypocrisy. My remarks can only be read as an attack on all Christians if you believe that all Christians are hypocrites. Which I don’t believe.”

Sure, not all Christians are hypocrites. We have the Westboro Baptist Church, Ken Ham, and other Biblical literalists as perfect examples of unhypocritical Christians. But they’re still wrong. They’re still following a bullshit book and a bullshit religion. And despite the whining of Focus on the Family, Christians deserve to have their faith mocked and belittled, because it is an idea worthy of only mockery and belittlement.

And I’m not just talking about the Phelps of the world. I mean the moderate and liberal version of Christianity too. Because it all boils down to believing in ludicrous superstition you have no evidence for, and much evidence against. That sort of thinking wouldn’t be tolerated or respected in our society if it weren’t for the unfairly special status religion holds. We can use “bullshit” to describe ideas like astrology, reptilian conspiracies, alien abductions, Big Foot… but God is off limits, despite being equally ridiculous.

That’s why Christian groups cry foul when someone points out flaws in their religion. It’s not their emotions that are so fragile: It’s their faith. Because Christianity, like all religions, simply cannot stand up to questioning. It’s why so many parts of the Bible actively denounce questioning faith. It’s why Christians have to run out of talks and make press releases about persecution. Because Christianity crumbles in the face of history, biology, and analytical thinking. Silencing dissent is the only way for Christianity to survive.

And I don’t want a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, anti-science, and simply false idea like Christianity to survive.

Now, am I going to be violent toward Christians? Am I going to enact laws banning Christianity? Am I going to run around burning churches? Of course not. I’m going to be a radical evangelical atheist by writing blog posts for whoever cares to read them, and by giving talks for whoever cares to attend. I’m going to destroy religion through convincing arguments that people have to understand on their own time, not through guilt or social ostracization or threats of eternal damnation (the tactics of religious evangelicals).

That’s why Christians want to shut up people like me and Dan – because they know our tactics work.