Next week’s Doonesbury

Spoiler alert! Spoiler alert! Spoiler alert!

We’ve got the plot points for all of next week’s Doonesbury. I’ve got the summaries below the fold; don’t read them if you don’t want to ruin the surprise. Although…you may find you’re going to have to read them to see them at all, since many newspapers aren’t running them. Including our own St Paul Pioneer press, which says:

Re: Doonesbury strips. We are subbing in print at the Pioneer Press and directing readers to online if they want to read them. Not appropriate for Comics pages with its mix of Garfield and The Duplex and not a great solution to move them to the Opinion pages for a week.

Oh, yeah. We mustn’t taint Garfield!

The reason for this terror revealed below.

[Read more…]

Rush Limbaugh isn’t the only moron out there, unfortunately

I’ll say one thing for Rush Limbaugh: he just cracked the sewer valve wide open, but he’s not the only one contributing to the gusher of sewage. Take Bryan Fischer: he’s even worse than that slick pig Limbaugh. He thinks there’s nothing wrong with what Limbaugh said, and acknowledges, like Limbaugh, that the only thing he did wrong was use the “slut” word, which is naughty…but that his sentiment was entirely correct.

Here’s his interpretation of Sandra Fluke’s testimony. He is shocked that:

…this woman could, without any trace of shame, any trace of embarrassment, give open testimony before the entire United States of America, about how much promiscuous sex she and her classmates are having.

Of course, that’s not what she testified. She testified that women’s reproductive health could be expensive, citing the use of contraceptives for prevention of ovarian cysts. But she could have talked about the importance of contraception for a healthy, happy sex life even within a monogamous relationship: it does not make a woman a slut for enjoying sex with her partner. But even if she did have multiple partners, so what? There’s no shame in enjoying sex: every human does, unless they’re wracked with religious guilt.

It really exposes these people for what they are: anti-sex, anti-human prudes. Fuck the Puritans. Please.

And here’s another idiotic perspective on Fluke from Scott Adams, Dilbonian dimbulb. He sees two possible interpretations.

Which of these two events do you find more distasteful?

1. Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a slut for her position on contraceptives.

Or

2. Activists are treating Fluke as a helpless victim who needs society’s protection against the harsh words of an entertainer.

My interpretation of events is that Limbaugh saw Fluke as a capable adult, and a public figure, tough enough to handle some harsh language. The boycotters apparently see Fluke as more of an endangered child, or a helpless damsel in distress, threatened by a monster. Light the torches and launch the boycott!

Adams has always been this clueless. I don’t know of a single person who has responded to this by thinking that Fluke needs our protective embrace: she seems confident and mature. The reaction has been anti-Limbaugh. He has been exposed as a blue-nosed asshole who despises women in general — not specifically Sandra Fluke — who have a healthy attitude towards sex, who treat it as a reasonable and expected and even joyful aspect of normal behavior, rather than something to hide in shame.

That’s the battle. Not some peculiar chauvinistic idea that one poor woman needs our chivalrous shelter. I suspect Adams is just projecting.

Another person who is projecting is Bill Maher.

Hate to defend #RushLimbaugh but he apologized, liberals looking bad not accepting. Also hate intimidation by sponsor pullout

He did not apologize for despising women who enjoy sex or need medical assistance in maintaining their reproductive health; clearly, he still feels that’s a valid stance. He only apologized for using words like “slut” instead of being more formal and calling her a harlot or something similarly antiquated. Jon Stewart got this right: what’s wrong with Maher that he can’t see this?

As someone who also says things on behalf of a minority that a majority finds offensive, I sympathize with the detestation of “intimidation by sponsor pullout” — but the problem lies in the reliance on money to fund free speech, and coupling that to selling soap. What Limbaugh said is still wrong and stupid.

Anti-creationism legislation—imagine that!

I’ve got to pay attention to the good news more often. My in-box is full of comments about anti-evolution, creationist legislation, but I missed this one: Louisiana SB70 is an anti-creationist bill that “Repeals the Louisiana Science Education Act.” Zack Kopplin has a website combating creationism that focuses on the rational Louisianians and what they’re doing to bring reason to the state.

I’ll call your attention to one notable fact: they’ve got 75 Nobel laureate scientists to endorse this law. If you know a science laureate who hasn’t signed the petition — I noticed a few names missing myself — you might mention it to them.

All you have to know about the Limbaugh affair

Just go read The Rude Pundit. He’s got Limbaugh pegged. He also has a somewhat realistic prediction for the aftermath.

And thus Limbaugh will go on, damaged, but unbowed. He’s now tainted, but you can bet that all of his listeners see him as the victim here and that, six months, a year from now, nearly all of those sponsors will be back. But maybe, just maybe, he will be poisonous enough to be nothing more than a deranged cult leader, a deaf and dumb and dying dinosaur in the tar pit of his fading career.

The Rude Pundit being optimistic? Wow. I don’t think the poison will daunt his fans — they wallow in that stuff.

Good news from Anoka-Hennepin

The Anoka-Hennepin school district has been notorious for its bullying, anti-gay discrimination, and suicide rate. A group of six students sued them for the district’s outrageous lack of common decency; tonight, the school board folded and settled the suit out of court. There was a cash settlement of $270,000 to the kids, and the district has also agreed to work with the US Justice Department to end their history of tolerance for abuse.

One Republican board member, Kathy Tingelstad, resigned over the settlement, claiming that it was going to cost too much. Where was her concern for the cost to the district when kids were killing themselves and the district was becoming infamous for its war on gay teens? She was just a tool of the anti-gay Parents Action League. Good riddance, and may PAL wither and die.

Free amateur porn for Rush Limbaugh

Recently, Rush Limbaugh confirmed his vile nature by calling a woman who testified for contraceptive insurance coverage a slut, and later amplified his idiocy with this comment:

“So Miss Fluke, and the rest of you Feminazis, here’s the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex. We want something for it. We want you post the videos online so we can all watch.”

I hope still photos will do, because one woman has agreed to those terms and has posted her contraceptive-dependent sex pictures online.

Holy crap! I’ve got to get me a gun!

The Minnesota legislature is working up a new law that makes it justifiable to pull a gun and shoot someone on mere suspicion of a threat. Don’t run away, don’t avoid trouble, just open fire!

The just-passed Minnesota bill to expand “Castle Doctrine” gun rights should be called the Shoot First law. The Minnesota law—and bills like it pending in Texas, Pennsylvania and other states—allows gun owners to use deadly force outside of their homes on the basis of merely feeling threatened. No longer would there be any onus to retreat from perceived danger. That’s why the term Shoot First is appropriate.

Under HF1467, you can shoot somebody:

[6.25] to resist or prevent what the individual reasonably believes is an offense or attempted offense that imminently exposes the individual or another person to substantial bodily harm, great bodily harm, or death; or

[6.27] (3) to resist or prevent what the individual reasonably believes is the commission or imminent commission of a forcible felony.

I was horrified to see who’s defending this bill, but totally unsurprised.

Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, said, “This bill is about good folks and giving them an opportunity to defend themselves.”

I voted against Ingebrigtsen in the last election — I could tell he was just another pig-ignorant Republican thug. Now it’s confirmed.

Somehow, I have this notion that “good folks” aren’t all about hair-trigger firearms use.

Somebody ought to mention to the sponsors of this bill that it allows atheists to carry a gun, and use it. Don’t forget, we’re untrustworthy and not good folks.

Knitting souls with an approved wanton sounds like fun to me

It’s been a while since I said this, so it’s time for a booster shot: I really hate “framing”. It’s a sell-out that leads to people making their opponents’ arguments for them, as they try to bend over backwards to see it through the oppositions’ eyes. It’s far, far better to see your own position clearly and try to explain it well to others.

I was reminded of that by this excellent point made by Amanda: that in the process of trying to reach a subsidiary goal, making contraception available to all, many liberals are conceding a larger, more important point to the conservatives and buying into their dogma that sex is evil.

All that said, I want to be clear that it’s not enough to be outraged at the anti-contraception shit and take it as a given that it’s way out of bounds. I mean, it seems obvious that it is, but without an aggressive counterattack from the left, right wingers may gain ground in their attempts to redefine the over 99% of women in the country who have sex for fun and not just for procreation as sluts. We need to frame our arguments as a full-throated, unapologetic belief that sex is good, women are good, and women’s right to enjoy sexual pleasure without shaming or government interference is good. Unfortunately, I’m not seeing enough of that. Instead, the most important argument—that a woman has a right to be a sexual creature and that sex is good—being abandoned by all sorts of liberals and feminists. The most common form this concession takes is well-meaning, and often person conceding the argument that women who have sex for pleasure are somehow less-than don’t intend to concede it. But that’s nonetheless what they’re doing. That concession looks like this:

"Some women aren’t even taking the birth control pill for contraception! They need it for cramps/endometriosis/etc."

Every time you say this, a right winger wanting to imply that women who have sex for pleasure are sluts gets his wings. This statement and all variations on it feeds into the right wing claim that a) contraception is not health care and b) that women who have sex for pleasure are so indefensible that you have to lean on off-label uses for a contraceptive drug to justify its existence. It also does absolutely nothing to defend the non-pill contraception that’s covered by the health care act, such as IUDs or sterilization. Plus, that gives them an easy out, which is to say that they’re fine with insurance covering pills that are prescribed for non-contraception use, but just object to prescriptions for women who use them to prevent pregnancy.

It’s a very political argument to make, very short-sighted and damaging in the long run, but I can understand why people do it. You’ve got an immediate political battle to win, the defeat of a bill that strangles access to contraception. So you take the typical approach of your everyday social primate with a theory of mind: you imagine the world through your opponent’s eyes, and then you try to frame your arguments to take into account his or her values, to find reasons that they would find compelling. Unfortunately, what it accomplishes more than anything is to make particularly odious attitudes commonplace…and it makes the next fight harder.

Our problem isn’t a few bills in state legislatures. It’s the whole deeply imbedded, constantly reinforced notion that good women are sexless and chaste, while bad girls are the ones who enjoy sex and actually have sex with more partners than just the one man who owns her. That’s why those right-wingers are getting their wings: because every time we implicitly accept that premise, we dig our progressive goals a slightly deeper grave.

And oh, how deeply this poison is infiltrating our culture! The other night, I was watching Much Ado About Nothing, the Branagh version. I very much like part of the story — the banter between Benedick and Beatrice is wonderful — but another part, the relationship between Claudio, a dashing soldier, and Hero, the beautiful young bride-to-be, is horrifying. Claudio is tricked by the villain (played by Keanu Reeves, unbelievably) into thinking that Hero was playing around with another man on the side…and then he waits until the hour of the wedding to publicly shame and humiliate this woman he supposedly loves with all of his heart.

CLAUDIO

Sweet prince, you learn me noble thankfulness.
There, Leonato, take her back again:
Give not this rotten orange to your friend;
She’s but the sign and semblance of her honour.
Behold how like a maid she blushes here!
O, what authority and show of truth
Can cunning sin cover itself withal!
Comes not that blood as modest evidence
To witness simple virtue? Would you not swear,
All you that see her, that she were a maid,
By these exterior shows? But she is none:
She knows the heat of a luxurious bed;
Her blush is guiltiness, not modesty.

LEONATO

What do you mean, my lord?

CLAUDIO

Not to be married,
Not to knit my soul to an approved wanton.

It’s a terrible scene, full of Shakespearean viciousness, and all of the contempt and hatred falls on poor Hero for her supposed licentiousness. And then, of course, the true villains are exposed and her true and good chastity vindicated. The resolution was just as appalling as the accusation, because it simply endorses Claudio’s behavior, that it’s perfectly reasonable to scorn and despise a woman if she’d ever shown passion for another human being.

Just once, it would be nice if the heroine turned out to be a lusty, experienced sexual partner and the moment of revelation, in which the horrible accusations are shown to be base and dishonest, didn’t involve showing she was innocent of the crime of sex, but instead involved the man realizing that he loved her anyway, and that there was nothing wrong with a woman enjoying sex…and realizing that the wedding night was going to be phenomenal (for him, if not for her; in the play, Claudio also brags about his abstinence, so I suspect he’s going to be a bit of a disappointment.)

But no, we keep perpetuating this view. We keep supporting the men and women and religions and other institutions that make sure young people are ignorant and ashamed — we look the other way or don’t even see it as a problem ourselves, but it’s really just another kind of child abuse. Let’s keep the children terrified of hell, ashamed of their bodies, and disgusted by their sexual feelings…because, by god, that’s how our parents raised us, and no way are those little brats going to grow up to find joy in what has been denied us!

I favor making contraception available to all because I think everyone should be able to have happy, safe, consensual sex. It’s also a nice bonus that some forms of contraception alleviate menstrual problems or side-effects like migraines, but it’s dishonest and bad framing to pretend that those are the real reasons we should encourage sex education, or insist that health insurance cover prophylaxis, and every time we sweep the most important issue of happy sexy time under the rug, we are pandering to the prudish conservatives.

And don’t get me started on that abortion slogan of “safe, legal, and rare”: I want abortion to be safe, legal, and available as often as women need or want it.

That anti-intellectual Santorum

Rick Santorum really hates universities.

On the president’s efforts to boost college attendance, Santorum said, "I understand why Barack Obama wants to send every kid to college, because of their indoctrination mills, absolutely … The indoctrination that is going on at the university level is a harm to our country."

He claimed that "62 percent of kids who go into college with a faith commitment leave without it," but declined to cite a source for the figure. And he floated the idea of requiring universities that receive public funds have "intellectual diversity" on campus.

Universities are places where one goes to experience diversity and learn about reality, so we already have opportunities to experience "intellectual diversity" — the problem is that they are places where diverse views are questioned and criticized. What he wants is not diversity, but that his fundamentalist/evangelical Christian views can be presented in a protected environment on campus, where they won’t wither under the scathing light of reality-based scrutiny.

Oh, and I don’t know where his 62% figure came from specifically, but it’s in the ballpark of numbers often thrown around by conservative Christians. It’s total nonsense. 62% of our students don’t graduate as atheists (I wish!); what it means is that large numbers of students come to the university and change their minds. They arrive with a very narrow, very specific version of evangelical Christianity which the antique purists insist they must hang on to, or go to hell…and they leave, usually still entirely Christian and even mostly church-going Christian, but they tend to soften and have more inclusive, liberal views. That constitutes apostasy to these culture warriors like Santorum.

Ken Ham is big on beating his breast over all the defections from literalist Christianity that go on in the colleges. He’s even got a book on it called Already Gone in which he blames it all on “millions of years” and the abandonment of a strict interpretation of Genesis.

(By the way, you can tell an evangelical Christian has a book when they plug it by telling you you can order them in “cartons of 48″.)

Isn’t the US supposed to be over this now?

A good ol’ boy named Gordon Warren Epperly has filed a lawsuit in Alaska to keep Obama off the ballot. The reasoning behind it is…well, see for yourself.

As stated above, for an Individual to be a candidate for the office of president of the United States, the candidate must meet the qualifications set forth in the United States Constitution and one of those qualifications is that the Candidate shall be a "natural born citizen" of the United States. As Barack Hussein Obama II is of the "mulatto" race, his status of citizenship is founded upon the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Before the [purported] ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, the race of "Negro" or "mulatto" had no standing to be citizens of the United States under the United States Constitution.

What a charming reminder of the United States’ racist history and current strain of virulent racism.