Bishops’ Stance On Motives And Behaviors

“Hate the sin, but love the sinner”,
So I do not hate the gays—
Their desires aren’t a problem
What’s a problem is their ways

It’s their actions, not their motives,
Which define a life of sin
What’s important is their conduct
Not what drives it from within.

If you act on your attraction
That’s what matters most, you see,
Not your motives but your actions
Are forbidden by decree

Thus, I treat them like pariahs
While I love them, every one—
I don’t hate their evil thinking,
Just the evil they have done

You might want to call it bigotry—
It isn’t, really, quite—
See, I’m practicing religion
So it has to be all right

Since my faith’s my motivation
There’s a fact you’ll have to face:
It’s my motive, not my actions
That’s important in this case

According to the Catholic News Agency, representatives of US bishops have made clear their position: When it comes to same-sex relationships, it is perfectly fine for someone to experience attraction, but acting on that attraction is beyond the pale. The problem is that “the bill does not differentiate between same-sex attraction and same-sex conduct, posing a problem to faith groups such as Catholics that affirm the dignity of homosexual persons but oppose homosexual actions.” That is, it’s ok to be gay, so long as no one knows it from what you do, like, say, getting married or actually engaging in a human relationship. It’s what you do that they have a problem with, not your reasons for doing it.

They also made clear their objections to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which focuses on what you do, ignoring your reasons for doing it, which the bishops think is entirely unfair.

“Churches, businesses, and individuals should not be punished in any way for living by their religious and moral convictions concerning sexual activity,” the bishops wrote in a July 17 blog post for the U.S. bishops’ conference.

They have religious reasons for discriminating, which means they can’t possibly be actually discriminating; it’s their reasons for doing stuff that is important, not the actual discrimination they are engaged in.

It’s all so simple, really.

Inclusive Becomes Sexist, In One Easy Step

If you want to play the market—
And to out-perform the Dow—
There’s an index fund that’s figured out
A brand-new method how!
If you recognize diversity
In leadership positions
You can make a great portfolio
From other funds’ omissions!

If you specialize in companies
Where women are in charge
You’re omitting eighty-nine percent
(Cos men rule, by and large)
See, women in the boardroom
Are a rarity, it’s true,
But investing in these women
Can be lucrative for you!

But! Addressing disproportion
In the modern business scheme
Means investing more in women!
(It’s a feminazi dream!)
So the MRA’s start screaming
“This is sexist, can’t you see?—
Why, such actions are atrocious…
They no longer favor me!

So… I found this by traveling backward, having seen the final product first–but I think it best to start at the beginning. There is, New Hampshire Public Radio reports, an index fund that focuses on companies with women in leadership positions:

There are 406 companies in Pax’s new index fund, including Microsoft, General Electric, and Estee Lauder. Besides being well-established brands, they have one thing in common: women in leadership positions. Ninety-seven percent of all the companies in the fund have two or more female board members. In a traditional index fund, says Pax CEO Joe Keefe, women sit on only about 11 percent of board seats.

You know there’s significant research at this point showing that where women are better represented on corporate board and where women are better represented in senior company management that those companies actually perform better.

So… 2 or more female board members. So most of the boards still have men, and may well have a majority of men. There’s no real threat to men here, nor is there any implied in the research:

It’s not that women are better at business than men. Sorry, ladies. “What the research points to,” Keefe says, “is that diverse groups make better decisions than non-diverse groups.”

Ok, I could do without the “Sorry, ladies.” What the research is telling us is what feminists have long realized: you don’t do your business any favors by excluding half of the potential brainpower. If the existing inequalities (seriously, 89% of companies have no women on their boards?) are there because men are naturally better at business, this fund should tank. But no, a fund that addresses institutional sexism is doing quite well!

The NHPR article is titled “Pax Index Bets Women-Led Firms Can Beat The Stock Market“. I’d probably have read it with that title anyway, but that was not the title I first saw. Via a box at the Union Leader, the first title I saw was “Pax World believes sexist fund can beat the market“.

That’s right–a fund that seeks inclusiveness and diversity, because it deliberately searches for the 1/9th of companies that have both men and women on their boards, and not the 8/9ths of companies that have men only, has been labeled “sexist”.

“A Symbol Of National Unity”

I shouldn’t be shocked—hey, they’re only the news,
They can say what they want with impunity—
But it took me aback that they called a cathedral
A “symbol of national unity”.

It’s a beautiful building, I have to admit,
(Darth Vader hides in the façade!)
But it seems our one nation once deemed indivisible
Separates now, “under god”

The cathedral is of the Episcopal Church
So the Baptists, of course, disagree—
Not to mention the Wiccans, or Muslims, or Jews…
But it’s Unity, clearly, you see?

It’s not their intent to do anything wrong
They try to be open, it’s true
They’d love to unite the whole nation, of course,
But that’s something religion can’t do.

It’s a feel-good story; the National Cathedral is getting its needed repairs after the 2011 earthquake sent God’s message that He is a Darth Vader fan. It’s beautiful architecture, wonderful stone carving (my favorite is at 1:40 in the video, reminding us that artists have long used whatever source material they could, from pagan gods to bible stories, as an excuse to showcase naked bodies), extraordinary stained glass (which includes secular themes, like the Apollo lunar landing, incorporating an actual moon rock in the design), and I am happy to see it being restored.

Also, despite being the “National Cathedral”, every dime paying for its construction and repair is from private donors. It officially is an Episcopalian cathedral, not a U.S. one (its official name is “The Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in the City and Diocese of Washington”), although it has seen events from many denominations, and secular events as well.

But one thing it is not, though the linked story makes the claim–it is not a “symbol of national unity”. I can see why the Episcopalian Church would want to call it that–the Pew numbers put traditional and evangelical Episcopalian/Anglicans, combined, at under 2% of the US, not even in the top ten denominations, percentage-wise; to lay claim to a unified “National” anything would be a serious cap-feather. I think, maybe, the only real symbol of unity for this diverse country might well be the motto e pluribus unum, which at once recognizes our differences and our common identity.

But of course, that has been replaced by “in god we trust”, which just emphasizes the fact that it is not in religion’s power to unite, only to divide.

Vials Labeled “Variola” Found. Could Have Been Worse.

Unless you are from Brazil, the scariest news today may have been the discovery of forgotten, unsecured, vials labeled “variola” (smallpox, to you and me) in an NIH lab.

Hey, at least it was labeled! I’ve been cleaning out my office these past weeks, and if that NIH lab had been anything like my office, the detritus of decades would still be present, but virtually none of it would have been labeled.

One small unlabeled vial
Sitting there, forgotten
One small unlabeled vial
Lurking in the lab
It might be dehydrated spores
Of a weaponized fungus
Just waiting for wars
It might be a virulent pox
An assistant mistakenly
Left in a box
It might be a deadly disease
That could devastate countries
As quick as you please
It might be a parasite fluke
Or an isotope ready
To power a nuke
It might be some chemical goo
That can turn your cheeks’ roses
To cyanide blue
It might be a germ that’s evolved
So an antibiotic’s
A problem that’s solved
It might be the ultimate cure
Unless we uncap it,
We can’t know for sure…
There’s little more frightening, no denial,
Than one small unknown, unlabeled vial

With sincere apologies to everyone’s favorite Uncle Shelby, who did all the heavy lifting.

On The Deeply Held Religious Beliefs Of Corporations

A local corporation is a member of my church
Though it never puts a dollar in the plate
I haven’t seen it in the pews, no matter how I search
Though it claims it’s more devout than me, of late
It reads its bible daily, and of course it watches Fox,
It’s offended by the liberal elite
It loves Scalia’s reasoning (“He thinks outside the box!”)
Saying personhood is not confined to meat

If the church’s wisdom dictates, say, that women be controlled
There’s a trick our local corporation learned:
Your insurance isn’t yours at all, despite what you’ve been told
Compensation isn’t something that you’ve earned
You must subjugate your wishes to the corporation’s will—
Your insurance is dependent on their whim
So it’s really up to Jesus which prescriptions you may fill,
Cos the corporation puts its faith in Him.

If it holds beliefs devoutly, while abstractly it exists
It’s protected by the constitution, too
And (all thanks to Hobby Lobby) the Supreme Court now insists
Its protections mean it’s even safe from you!
In a battle of religious rights, it’s kinda, sorta, funny—
Corporations have beliefs, by all reports!
They are just like you or me—except, of course, they have more money…
But, of course, that doesn’t matter to the courts.

On Blame

There’s something gone wrong—why, he’s clearly insane;
There’s a chemical problem that’s hurting his brain,
Some organic dysfunction that helps to explain
Why he hasn’t been acting quite right
It’s clearly these deep neurological flaws
That are making him act in defiance of laws;
It has to be something! It can’t be because
He is young, and he’s male, and he’s white.

We’ll break it all down in the usual way
Is he poor? Is he black? Is he godless, or gay?
There must be a reason he’s drifted astray
Any label at all is fair game.
There has to be something (the experts discuss,
And for experts to notice and make such a fuss
There’s a reason) that means “he is not one of us!”
Cos we don’t want to share in the blame!

The misogynist message he posted online?
The authorities saw it, and called it benign!
Why, it’s only in hindsight we call it a sign—
We see worse things than that every day!
Why, if all of society ground to a halt
When some internet loner claimed plans of assault
We’d be doomed—with the innocent loners at fault
When it’s only a game that they play!

See, freedom of speech is a blessing and curse
You can say what you want—you can bully, or worse—
(And they can’t even force you to say it in verse)
Save specific and credible threat
But legitimate threats don’t stand out from the noise
And the language a dangerous asshole employs
Since it can’t be distinguished from “one of the boys”
Are the claims #YesAllWomen will get

It is a common claim: if you blame society, you are letting the perpetrator off the hook! But remember the flip side–when you blame the perp, you are letting society off the hook.

I am not a fan of “justice”; it’s a concept that, near as I can tell, was invented to let us blame individual criminals after the fact, instead of doing the hard work of changing the environment to actually prevent crimes before they occur, in cases where there are known variables we can control.

We have heard, and will continue to hear, reasons why a particular individual should shoulder all the blame. We will be told that we are weak on crime if we even entertain the notion that anything other than that individual is to blame.

Bullshit.

I would much rather prevent a crime than punish a criminal after a crime has been committed. And yes, I know that paints me as someone opposed to freedom–the freedom to swing my fist up to the point where someone else’s nose begins. If it is right to intervene after a crime is committed, it is right to intervene. If moral responsibility exists, then knowing that an element of our culture contributes to crime, and doing nothing about that element, makes us as culpable for our inaction as we wish others to be for their action.

The difference is whether we wait for people to be hurt before recognizing our ability to make a difference.

Unexpected Good News On The Cuttlefish Front

I have written before with bad news from Point Lowly, Spencer Gulf, in South Australia. That was from 2011; in 2012 the news was even worse, and last year things looked grim indeed.

Unexpectedly, this year, the numbers are up again!

Hundreds of giant Australian cuttlefish have swum into breeding grounds at the top of Spencer Gulf in South Australia, reversing a worrying decline of recent years.

It’s not a return to previously normal levels, but it’s the right direction. There has been federal support for cuttlefish research in the area over the past couple of years; I hope people were looking at the right variables to learn from this. These are beautiful creatures, and an amazing gathering. I still hope to visit some day… and I would hate to be the only cuttlefish showing up for the party.

Cuttlecap tip to Kylie, of course!

“He Meets And Exceeds My Criteria For Such”

When the townsfolk demand I resign
For a statement I’ve owned up as mine
For my honest opinions
Of Hussein and his minions
That I uttered out loud
(I’m not sorry—I’m proud!
See, the man makes me sick
So I turn him off quick
Cos he’s all that I see
when I turn on TV)
I respectfully, strongly, decline

I’m not racist—he met my criteria!
For Benghazi, for health care, for Syria!
The list is much bigger,
So, yes, he’s a n****r
It’s not that he’s black
So call off your attack!
I’ve said all I will say—
Take those cameras away
Why, you media leech—
It’s my right to free speech
It’s what separates US from Siberia!

All this fuss, when it’s only a word!
“F*****g n****r”, she claims that she heard
Yes, some people abuse it,
But no, how I use it
It isn’t his skin
But the content within
And each time I use it
I carefully choose it
And the trivial fact
All my targets are black?
Me? Racist? The thought is absurd!

A few days ago, NPR’s Code Switch blog made the argument that racism is “part of the mix” when it comes to hatred of Obama. As predictable as mayflies, commenters swarmed both to support and to deny the assertion (protip: never read the comments!).

Now, news out of New Hampshire (video at link, well worth watching)–a Wolfeboro police commissioner, Robert Copeland, accused of calling Obama a “f*****g n****r”, admits it (in writing), saying “For this, I do not apologize — he meets and exceeds my criteria for such.” (Sarah Palermo’s article at the Concord Monitor has the most thorough version of the backstory I have seen so far.)

Remember how politicians fled from Cliven Bundy when he talked about “the Negro”? Yeah, not so much in Wolfeboro, so far. Though a hundred or so citizens showed up to protest, fellow commissioners defended Copeland. From the Concord Monitor:

Copeland and another commissioner, Ron Goodgame, did not return calls seeking comment last night. But commission Chairman Joseph Balboni said he has no plans to ask Copeland to resign.

“I think it’s crazy. Bob is a very nice person, and he’s been very generous to the town of Wolfeboro,” Balboni said.

“He’s worked with a lot of blacks in his life. . . . He said some harsh words about Mr. Obama, and here we are. This woman, she’s blowing it all out of proportion.”

(note–even his defenders know this is a racial slur; “meets and exceeds my criteria for such” is a thin attempt to pretend it is not.)

And don’t get me started on the comments (protip: NEVER READ THE COMMENTS!!!), expecially at the WMUR story and at the Union MisLeader (the Monitor comments, unbelievably, are about how well-written Palermo’s story is). “Free Speech!” “Mark Twain used the word!” “‘N****r’ isn’t racist any more, because reasons”, “Bush got called things too!”, “thought police!”… but also, “I call that N-word an N-word all the time”, birther tropes, and more.

Copeland unapologetically admitted his words, and for some reason seems to think that the fact that he is not covering up somehow makes it all right. We ought to be filled with admiration for someone who stands up for what he believes like Copeland does.

No, not “admiration”, so much as “disgust”.

***Update***
The story has now hit CNN. So, while there is no additional information in the story, we now have a much larger population of commenters. You can guess the result, and you’d be right. (once again, protip: NEVER READ THE COMMENTS!!!)

No Black Mass For Harvard…

After quite a bit of back-and-forth, Harvard does the wrong thing. Well worth watching, if head-bangingly frustrating.

My favorite quote, of course, is from a Harvard Senior (and, I am guessing, Catholic), who noted “I am very pleased that my religion is not going to be desecrated or my gender objectified or my university embarrassed by these actions”… showing that even at Harvard, we cannot expect people to understand either A) the Satanist view of gender, or B) her own Catholic view.

Those pin-headed libruls at Harvard discovered*
American values they didn’t expect.
In Harvard’s array of fine classes, Black Masses
Are never included—it’s simple respect!
Why, Boston is Cath’lic, and Satan keeps waitin’,
He won’t be invited, and that’s for the best
The devil and “Cultural Studies” are buddies
But this isn’t culture, it’s purely hate-fest

It’s good that the Satanists’ voices, their choices,
Are silenced in favor of Catholic rule
It’s Harvard—alternative viewpoints are new points,
And freedom of speech isn’t taught at this school.
The students at Harvard object to a sect, to
A viewpoint that treats them as less than they are
The Catholic Church, though, keeps trying, denying
That women are equal… at least, not so far.

*this counts as a rhyme, courtesy of Tom Lehrer’s “The Elements”.

Today Is Limerick Day?

I’ve been busy–I only just heard–
They’ve been horrid at spreading the word
But it’s limerick day!
(I’ve just one thing to say…
Just one day? Why, the thought is absurd!)

Thanks to commenter “williamhumenansky”, I hear that today is Limerick day (Edward Lear’s birthday, appropriately, although Lear’s limericks are actually not very good limericks for the most part). I have written well over a thousand limericks, over the past two or three lifetimes, and that makes me an absolute lightweight when compared to the good folks over at the OEDILF. The Omnificent English Dictionary In Limerick Form is a thing–a very real thing, and a very cool thing. And, actually, a thing that could use your help, if you happen to be a fan of limericks.