There Is Also a Secular Argument For Infanticide

1522095_10152076191576077_222205893_n (1)American Atheists president David Silverman recently attended this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) with the intention of reaching out to non-religious conservatives. CPAC, if you aren’t familiar with it, has featured such illustrious moments as:

All of that, by the way, happened within the past week alone. So, how did Silverman go about sharing the word of atheism at this most respectable of political conferences? Roy Edroso of Raw Story reports on his strategy:

“I came with the message that Christianity and conservatism are not inextricably linked,” he told me, “and that social conservatives are holding down the real conservatives — social conservatism isn’t real conservatism, it’s actually big government, it’s theocracy. I’m talking about gay rights, right to die, abortion rights –”

A simple enough idea: conservatives can continue to uphold (some of) their political values without any need for religious faith. Silverman, understandably, didn’t seem very interested in legitimizing homophobia or the deprivation of terminal patients’ medical autonomy. Anyway, where was he going with that last part?

Hold on, I said, I think the Right to Life guys who have a booth here, and have had every year since CPAC started, would disagree that they’re not real conservatives.

“I will admit there is a secular argument against abortion,” said Silverman. “You can’t deny that it’s there, and it’s maybe not as clean cut as school prayer, right to die, and gay marriage.”

Oh. Okay.

Taken literally, the statement that secular arguments against abortion do exist isn’t a very controversial one. Yes, there are anti-abortion arguments that do not rely on supernatural or theological claims. These arguments can instead rely on concepts like “rights”, “human life”, “personhood”, and so on, without introducing any explicitly religious elements.

Of course, the mere existence of such arguments says nothing about their soundness. Silverman himself stated that he was simply recognizing these arguments even as he disagrees with them:

and please understand this is not support. I’m vehemently pro choice. Just acknowledging they exist. They do.

But whether such arguments exist, and whether they have any merit, is beside the point. What really stands out as notable here is Silverman’s more open-minded approach to this particular issue, even as he dismisses other issues outright.

Silverman is not interested in reaching out to conservative CPAC attendees who oppose marriage equality, oppose end-of-life decisionmaking, or support prayer in schools. However, when it comes to conservatives who oppose the right to abortion, he takes a rather more tolerant stance. While he sees homophobic conservatives as having no place in organized atheism, he’s more willing to recruit anti-abortion conservatives to the secularist cause.

Whether he would actually agree with this or not, that’s how his special exception for abortion opposition comes across. To him, homophobes don’t have a place in our movement – but abortion opponents do?

Is this necessarily a demographic worth reaching out to? JT Eberhard argues:

We must be willing to work with people with whom we disagree on some subjects. …So if you acknowledge that someone need not be right on all subjects for them to be right on the one you’re working on together, this can’t be a reason for you to be upset with Dave Silverman.

But this does nothing to explain why abortion rights should be a subject on which disagreement is acceptable, while LGBT rights, for example, should not. Drawing a line at that particular point seems arbitrary. JT continues:

I don’t think it’s fair to expect someone to avoid telling the truth (that a secular argument exists for being anti-choice, lousy though it is) in order to not give a hat tip to the people Silverman has said multiple times he opposes on that subject. That seems a bit like getting exacerbated at scientists whenever they acknowledge the existence of complexity in the universe because they’ve given a “tip of the hat” to creationists. … If you acknowledge as atheists we shouldn’t shy away from stating facts even though we know there are people out there who will twist them toward an inaccurate or unethical position, then you can’t really be upset with Dave Silverman.

Here is another truth that we, as atheists, need not shy away from stating: there is a secular argument for the elective infanticide of healthy newborn humans. It is not even a very complicated argument, and it is one that is perhaps especially well-suited to atheistic naturalism, scientific empiricism, and the rejection of mainstream Christianity.

Suppose that we abandon the idea that the human species occupies a uniquely privileged or “sacred” place among all organisms. Our ethical considerations in how we treat human life – from blastocyst to infant to elder – should not lean on an assumption that humans are special simply for the mere fact that they are humans. Ethical questions should take into account actual substance rather than just a name: the features that actually constitute an individual human. These features can include the extent to which they can experience pain and pleasure, their level of awareness of the world around them, their ability to possess distinct desires and goals, and their level of awareness of themselves as a sentient being.

When we recognize that questions of ethical treatment should consider such features, two conclusions emerge: First, humans are not the only organisms that merit our ethical concern – various animals are also capable of suffering pain, having desires, and possessing different degrees of awareness and self-awareness. And second, not all humans are identical by these metrics; depending on their degree of development, some may be more or less aware, more or less capable of experiencing pain, and so on.

Therefore, instead of a model wherein all humans occupy a special ethical category meriting unique concern, we can conceive of a spectrum of ethical concern along which all organisms fall – humans and other animals alike. One potentially uncomfortable fact is that some animals may be more well-developed than some humans in their capacity for self-awareness, desires, and so on. As Kate Wong notes in Scientific American:

Human babies enter the world utterly dependent on caregivers to tend to their every need. Although newborns of other primate species rely on caregivers, too, human infants are especially helpless because their brains are comparatively underdeveloped. Indeed, by one estimation a human fetus would have to undergo a gestation period of 18 to 21 months instead of the usual nine to be born at a neurological and cognitive development stage comparable to that of a chimpanzee newborn.

Similarly, MRI scans of dogs suggest that they are capable of experiencing emotions on a level similar to human children:

Do these findings prove that dogs love us? Not quite. But many of the same things that activate the human caudate, which are associated with positive emotions, also activate the dog caudate. Neuroscientists call this a functional homology, and it may be an indication of canine emotions.

The ability to experience positive emotions, like love and attachment, would mean that dogs have a level of sentience comparable to that of a human child.

Dogs may also possess mental capabilities on par with those of 2-year-old humans:

According to several behavioral measures, Coren says dogs’ mental abilities are close to a human child age 2 to 2.5 years. … As for language, the average dog can learn 165 words, including signals, and the “super dogs” (those in the top 20 percent of dog intelligence) can learn 250 words, Coren says. “The upper limit of dogs’ ability to learn language is partly based on a study of a border collie named Rico who showed knowledge of 200 spoken words and demonstrated ‘fast-track learning,’ which scientists believed to be found only in humans and language learning apes,” Coren said. … Dogs can also count up to four or five, said Coren. And they have a basic understanding of arithmetic and will notice errors in simple computations, such as 1+1=1 or 1+1=3. …

Through observation, Coren said, dogs can learn the location of valued items (treats), better routes in the environment (the fastest way to a favorite chair), how to operate mechanisms (such as latches and simple machines) and the meaning of words and symbolic concepts (sometimes by simply listening to people speak and watching their actions). … During play, dogs are capable of deliberately trying to deceive other dogs and people in order to get rewards, said Coren.

So: Humans are not the only organisms capable of emotion or developing accurate mental models of the world, and we’re certainly not the only organisms capable of experiencing pain or a desire to continue to live. Indeed, some animals possess these capabilities to a greater degree than newborn humans.

And yet, despite their possession of these capabilities, there exists a widespread disinterest in recognizing a “right to life” of animals. Instead, people commonly consider it acceptable to kill animals if we simply decide it is necessary. Cows “exhibit behavioral expressions of excitement when they solve a problem”, but all that’s needed to justify killing a cow is our mere preference that it should become several delicious steaks rather than continue existing as a feeling, thinking organism. Dogs exhibit intelligence and emotions similar to toddlers, but people leave healthy dogs to be euthanized at shelters every day.

In a society that accepts such treatment of animals as a norm – and accepts even the most trivial of human desires as a justification for such treatment – it should be similarly acceptable for the custodians of any newborn human to have that infant killed, for no reason other than their simple desire that this baby no longer be alive. Newborns have lesser abilities of thinking, modeling, perceiving, feeling and wanting than animals, and probably an equal capacity to experience pain. Yet the presence of even greater capacities in many of these areas has largely failed to convince us to recognize a “right to life” of animals. So why should the life of a human embryo, fetus, or infant be seen as always worth preserving and protecting?

Scientific findings support the facts underlying this argument for infanticide rights. This argument also has strengths which other common pro-choice arguments lack. For instance, one such argument contends that whatever right to life an unborn fetus may have, it is always outweighed by a person’s right to bodily autonomy – their right not to be compelled to provide sustenance, in the form of their own bodily resources, to another organism.

However, this “competing rights” argument opens the door to debate over just how important these respective rights are, and whether a fetus’s right to life really is small enough to be overridden. It implicitly agrees with abortion opponents in recognizing that a fetus actually does have, to some degree, a right to exist. And it requires proponents of a pro-choice position to maintain that a person’s right to bodily autonomy is, in all circumstances, the more important right in this situation. Abortion opponents, like Kristine Kruszelnicki of Pro-Life Humanists, may in turn contend that the fetus’s rights carry overriding weight.

In contrast, the pro-infanticide argument presented here does not have this vulnerability. It does not recognize an embryo, fetus, or even a newborn human as possessing a “right to life” to any degree whatsoever. And so it is not even necessary to argue that a person has a right to bodily autonomy which overrides a fetus’s supposed rights.

Clearly, there is a secular argument for infanticide. One does not have to support it or agree with it, and one may feel that it is far from decisive or clear-cut, but it does indeed exist. Others might twist this argument to make atheists look bad, but that doesn’t mean we should avoid recognizing this truth.

I’ve met David Silverman before, and he was a really nice guy – I hope we get to meet again. I don’t have any problem with believing that he certainly meant well with his outreach efforts at CPAC, as idiosyncratic as his views on acceptable political differences may be. And a few isolated quotes expressing a nuanced position – albeit a potentially disagreeable one – aren’t necessarily cause to dismiss and ignore a person entirely.

What I would ask is this: What is American Atheists doing to reach out to pro-infanticide atheists and bring them into the cause of organized secularism? Is our conception of the parameters of a “right to life” any less worthy of being courted than that of abortion opponents? If we’re really seeking to expand the tent of atheist activism, why extend it only in their direction, and not ours? I’d contend that if anything, those of us who are pro-infanticide can bring much more of value to the atheist movement than anti-choice conservatives would, such as our evidence-based approach to secular ethics. And if you think it would be distasteful to reach out to us, ask yourself: is it really more distasteful than inviting people who would legally force a person to give birth against their will?

How Small Is Your Dick? Some “uncomfortable wiener questions” for Tim Graham

Last week, actress Laverne Cox and model Carmen Carrera appeared on Katie Couric’s talk show to discuss their careers and their experiences as trans women. What could’ve been an otherwise respectful interview instead took a turn for the incredibly inappropriate as Couric openly and shamelessly asked Carrera about whether her “private parts” are “different now”. Carrera, who was just not having any of that, responded perfectly: “I don’t want to talk about that, it’s really personal.” Cox later took the opportunity to explain how focusing on “the genitalia question”, as Couric phrased it, ignores the very serious issues of homelessness, discrimination, economic injustice and violence faced by trans women. Both Carrera’s and Cox’s segments are worth watching for their fantastic responses, if you can handle the severe awkwardness of the situation.

Naturally, the conservative NewsBusters.org – a Media Research Center outlet billing itself as “exposing & combating liberal media bias” – doesn’t really see a problem with any of this. It seems there’s only one thing with the power to unite the MRC and Katie Couric, whom the MRC previously bestowed with the singular honor of “Worst Reporter in the History of Man”. This is, of course, a mutual and overwhelming sense of entitlement to trans women’s bodies.

Tim Graham, the MRC’s director of media analysis, upholds the standard of excellence in news coverage for which conservative media are famous: vacuous commentary, lazy misgendering, and literal toilet humor. In his post, titled “Katie Couric Upsets the ‘Trans Women’ By Asking Those Uncomfortable Wiener Questions” (why the scare quotes? Is he calling us cis?), Graham spends a few short paragraphs putting in the least effort possible even for a transphobe. Meandering from calling Carrera and Cox “men” who “dress like women” (clearly Couric was actually inquiring about the surgery they’ve had done on their wardrobes), to suggesting questions about genitals (or “the bulge issue”, as he so cis-ly put it) were “inevitable”, to pondering whether it’s “possible to pretend to be a woman and use a urinal”, he ultimately projects an air of befuddlement that only comes from people who’ve never had to think about this in their lives: how could you possibly see anything wrong with asking trans women which genitals they have on national television?

Indeed, what’s the big deal? It’s just genitals, right? No need to get uncomfortable over a few wiener questions. Yet Graham would do well to ask his colleagues at NewsBusters the same thing. Since 2010, his fellow writers have published numerous articles expressing their outrage at the Transportation Security Administration’s updated screening procedures – namely, the full-body scanners that reveal the shape of passengers’ bodies, and the “extended pat-downs” which can include contact with the breasts, buttocks and genitals. Just look at all these very upset stories:

Oh, and an article from just last month in which Graham himself described the TSA as “well-known for being too aggressive in its body searches”.

So, let’s put it all together: When some bored TSA agent in another room merely looks at the shadow of an angry cis white guy’s “junk”, or checks whether that’s a firecracker in his pants or he’s just happy to see them – for the purpose of potentially preventing hundreds or thousands of deaths – it’s “invasive”. It’s “overboard”. It’s a “civil liberties abuse”. It’s “too aggressive”.

When trans women of color are asked point-blank about their genitals in front of a daytime audience of millions, for no reason other than prurient and entitled curiosity, it’s “inevitable”.

Inevitable. Inevitable that trans women’s bodies will be treated as public property and denied even basic human dignity. Inevitable that they’ll be gleefully dissected in detail for the enjoyment of cis people – or, as Laverne Cox pointed out, simply murdered in the streets if that’s what cis people want.

As long as no one touches Tim Graham’s junk.

But those “uncomfortable wiener questions” are still on the table, right? That’s totally an appropriate topic for everyday conversation. Has anyone gotten around to asking Tim Graham if he has a penis? Or is that “bulge” just a packer? Are those his original genitals or did he have them reconstructed? Does he have to sit down to pee, or can he use urinals like a real woman? Is he a grower or a shower? How big does it get? How does he have sex – like, how does that work? Does he have to take medication or does he have one of those erectile implants?

Most crucially: Can we all make sure that he’s forced to answer these very important questions every single time he decides to share his valuable opinions and experiences as a straight cis man?

National Organization for jailing lesbian parents? Yep.

Jennifer Roback Morse, a spokesperson of the National Organization for Marriage, had some extremely poorly chosen words yesterday for lesbian couples who use donated sperm:

This is the appalling thing right there, I mean right there is the problem, okay? The way almighty God created our bodies, a man and a woman are supposed to come together in an act of love to produce a new human being. This is the way God wants the human species to continue, as a participation in his divine love and in his divine creative power. That is what is imprinted into our bodies, that’s what we’re supposed to do, that’s what we need to do, that’s what we want to do.

And what we’re doing now, Todd, as a result of the sexual revolution and all its fruits, is that we are in full-on retreat from human relationship between a man and a woman in order to create that child. So going online to buy sperm from a stranger is about as far as you can possibly get from the participation in divine love and divine creation. The fact that these two women want to have sex with each other has no bearing whatsoever on whether this should be permitted or not. You know, buying sperm on Craigslist should be abolished. Buying sperm at all should be abolished. And furthermore, these people should be in jail, I’m afraid.

I mean, you know, honestly, I just can’t even imagine where people think this is going to lead. You know, because the child is no longer a gift from God and a fruit of human love participating in God’s love. The child is now a product, manufactured by adults, and therefore the child cannot be fully the equal of its parent. The object cannot be the equal of its producer or its maker, you know. And so the further we go down this path, the further away we are going from the true ideal of equality before God, of equality before one another, of treating one another with dignity. And the child becomes a kind of chattel. So the legal complications and the sort of ick factor of all of this, it’s important to sort all that out and look at it, but let’s not take our eye off that ball, which is that we have defaced the creator’s plan and intention here by this behavior.

Wow! So, to recap:

  • Loving same-sex partners who want to raise a child of their own should be in jail for the crime of using sperm.
  • The children they raise, love, and care for are merely “products” and “chattel” that can never be fully equal.
  • For daring to want a child of their own to love, they’re now an “ick factor” and responsible for “defacing” the divine plan of the almighty creator of the universe.

Let’s not beat around the bush here. An organization that opposes committed, devoted couple, who want nothing more than to start a family and cherish and protect their children does not in any way stand on the side of marriages. They are not on the side of “family values”. They stand for the criminalization of marriages and families. They stand for the legal persecution and capricious incarceration of minorities. They stand for using the long arm of the law to enforce their own twisted theology on everyone.

They “protect” nothing.

At least Westboro is intellectually honest

I have more respect for the Westboro Baptist Church – barely – than I do for disingenuous fools like Mike Huckabee and Bryan Fischer, who beat around the bush when it comes to school shootings because even they realize that the implications of what they’re saying are too repulsive to be stated openly. Consider Mike Huckabee’s simultaneous backtracking and doubling-down on his earlier remarks:

…it’s far more than just taking prayer or Bible reading out of the schools. It’s the fact that people sue a city so we aren’t confronted with a manger scene or a Christmas carol. That lawsuits are filed to remove a cross that’s a memorial to fallen soldiers. Churches and Christian-owned businesses are told to surrender their values under the edict of government orders to provide tax-funded abortion pills. We carefully and intentionally stop saying things are sinful and we call them disorders. Sometimes, we even say they’re normal. And to get to where… we have to abandon bedrock moral truths, then ask, “Well, where was God?” And I respond that, as I see it, we’ve escorted him right out of our culture and we’ve marched him off the public square, and then we express our surprise that a culture without him actually reflects what it’s become.

To Huckabee, it is a “bedrock moral truth” that LGBT people are not even “disordered” but sinful, that businesses providing insurance to their employees ought to be able to pick and choose whether those employees can have their birth control covered, and that the government should provide its official stamp of approval to the Christian religion. And when we no longer regard sexual minorities as abnormal and condemned by God himself, we’ve somehow created an environment conducive to the mass killings of children. In the twisted mind of Mike Huckabee, LGBT rights and women’s rights and the Establishment Clause are part and parcel with school massacres. Either we side with Huckabee’s God, a God that hates gays and contraception and secular government while also supposedly providing some measure of protection from tragedies, or we must accept the inverse: gaining our freedoms at the cost of children’s lives, which Huckabee’s God allows murderers to take freely. Where was God? Oh, he would have helped out somehow, if only we’d kept paying our dues of misogyny and homophobia and theocracy.

It doesn’t sound so “rah rah God and country, amen!” when you put it that way, does it? But that’s what Huckabee means. Hate the queers, crush women’s reproductive freedom, disrespect the faith of everyone who’s not a Christian, or God will let your children be gunned down in their schools.

Contrast that with the Westboro Baptist Church, who share this opinion but make no effort to hide it whatsoever. To them, the shooting was a direct act of God to punish an insufficiently homophobic nation, and they’re ready to tell the world. No evasions. No prettying it up. No circuitous, long-winded explanations to try and dance around what they really mean to say. They just say it: God sent the shooter. God hates fags. God will kill your children because you accepted gay people. So deal with it.

They’re all scumbag religious vultures feeding on the still-warm corpses of children. But it’s even more insulting that some of them would try to disguise themselves as anything other than the revolting, merciless opportunists they are.

The company they keep

Guess who the Salvation Army chose to give a speech at their 2012 annual luncheon? Dinesh D’Souza, a homophobic conservative commentator who blames American liberals for causing the 9/11 attacks by angering Islamic terrorists.

For the 2012 annual luncheon Salvation Army leadership tapped renowned New York Times best-selling author and filmmaker (2016: Obama’s America) Dinesh D’Souza as guest speaker. He rewarded the audience of more than 500 with a talk on the influences that Christianity has had on religions and people worldwide. His talk at the Hilton Americas-Houston received a standing ovation.

Chaired by Penny and John Butler, the luncheon, hosted by the Salvation Army Advisory Board, honored Rob Mosbacher. Proceeds from the fundraiser topped $425,000, all for Salvation Army coffers.

In his 2007 book, The Enemy At Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11, D’Souza wrote:

I am saying that the cultural left and its allies in Congress, the media, Hollywood, the nonprofit sector and the universities are the primary cause of the volcano of anger toward America that is erupting from the Islamic world. The Muslims who carried out the 9/11 attacks were the product of this visceral rage—some of it based on legitimate concerns, some of it based on wrongful prejudice—but all of it fueled and encouraged by the cultural left. Thus without the cultural left, 9/11 would not have happened.

In his book The Crisis of Islam, Bernard Lewis rehearses what he calls the “standard litany of American offenses recited in the lands of Islam” and ends with this one: “Yet the most powerful accusation of all is the degeneracy and debauchery of the American way of life.” As these observations suggest, what angers religious Muslims is not the American Constitution but the scandalous sexual mores they see on American movies and television. What disgusts them are not free elections but the sights of hundreds of homosexuals kissing each other and taking marriage vows. The person that horrifies them the most is not John Locke but Hillary Clinton. …

Thus we have the first way in which the cultural left is responsible for 9/11. The left has produced a moral shift in American society that has resulted in a deluge of gross depravity and immorality.

The homophobia in D’Souza’s book is not an isolated occurrence:

– As editor of the conservative Dartmouth Review, he outed the officers of Dartmouth’s Gay-Straight Alliance. He then accused the GSA of using the university’s money for “gay parties, gay orgies, or whatever.”

– In 2003, he offered his opinion of gay men and lesbians:

Journalist Andrew Sullivan argues that it is social ostracism that encourages the reckless promiscuity and socially destructive behavior of male homosexuals. If gays are allowed to marry like everyone else, Sullivan is confident that this outrageous element of gay culture would diminish. Sullivan’s argument can be condensed to the slogan, “Marriage civilizes men.” But Sullivan is wrong. Marriage doesn’t civilize men, women do. This point is even evident in the gay community: it helps to explain why lesbians are generally much better than male homosexuals in sustaining long-term relationships.

– And in 2008, he had this to say about same-sex marriage:

Yet if it’s discriminatory to gays to require that marriage be between a man and a woman, why isn’t it discriminatory to Mormons and Muslims to require that it remain between two people? Isn’t incestuous marriage also between “consenting adults” who have a right to equal protection of the laws? And why doesn’t the Fourteenth Amendment protect the fellow who wants to walk down the aisle with his poodle on the grounds that “I love my dog and my dog loves me”?

This is the man the Salvation Army selected to speak at their $425,000+ fundraiser. They saw no problem choosing someone who would blame our own country’s values of equality and civil rights for provoking Islamic extremists into launching the most deadly terrorist attack in our history. They chose someone who considers gay people “socially destructive” and compares our commitments to poodle marriage. He’s their man.

If the Salvation Army wants to counter their public perception as a homophobic organization, this isn’t helping.

Being on the Supreme Court is not supposed to be easy

Justice Scalia offers up some of his usual legal wisdom:

“The death penalty? Give me a break. It’s easy. Abortion? Absolutely easy. Nobody ever thought the Constitution prevented restrictions on abortion. Homosexual sodomy? Come on. For 200 years, it was criminal in every state,” Scalia said at the American Enterprise Institute.

Yes, I’m sure deciding on this sort of thing is a breeze when the extent of your reasoning is “it’s illegal, therefore it should be illegal – QED.” The Supreme Court is the end of the line. It’s where cases go when all of the formalized decision processes at the lower levels of the judiciary have failed to resolve them adequately. These questions are not sent to the highest court in the land just so that they can benefit from the previously unknown perspective of “well, the founders would have meant for it to be illegal, problem solved!” – something which obviously no one else could have come up with, without deferring to the brilliant reasoning of Scalia.

The Supreme Court is not there to fire off “easy”, ill-considered, poorly-thought-out conclusions like this. It’s there to reach carefully developed and well-supported conclusions which are not always readily apparent. So don’t pretend that all nine of you could just as easily be replaced by the average gay-bashin’ clinic-protestin’ yokel, when you really only mean yourself.

 

An especially pointless lie

Matt Barber of the homophobic right-wing Liberty Counsel recently tweeted a photo of a massive crowd gathered at a rally, which he described as “Media report support for Romney dwindling. Media lie”. In no time at all, blogger Jeremy Hooper found that this was not a gathering of Romney supporters, as Barber implied, but actually a photo of an Obama rally from 2008.

What exactly did Barber think he would accomplish with this? To bolster his claim that support for Romney is actually more substantial than is being reported, he had to find a photo of a huge crowd that had not turned out for Romney at all, but rather for Romney’s opponent. It doesn’t get any more self-defeating than that.

Which is more respectful of religious freedom?

A. Allowing military chaplains the option to perform, or refuse to perform, same-sex wedding ceremonies or any other wedding ceremonies on military bases.

B. Banning all military chaplains from performing any same-sex wedding ceremonies on bases, regardless of their beliefs or whether they may actually want to perform such ceremonies.

If you answered B, congratulations! You’re Senator Jim Inhofe:

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe hasn’t given up his resistance to the acceptance of gays and lesbians in the military or same-sex marriage.

On Tuesday, Inhofe and fellow Republican Roger Wicker of Mississippi introduced a measure that would ban same-sex marriages on military bases and protect military chaplains from “pressure” to perform such ceremonies.

The two senators described the Military Religious Freedom Act as an effort to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act, known as DOMA, on the Defense Department in the wake of the December 2010 repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which ended the official ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military. …

A Defense Department directive issued last year says: “A military chaplain may participate in or officiate any private ceremony, whether on or off a military installation.”

For all of their concern about non-existent “pressure” to perform same-sex weddings, the authors of this “religious freedom” measure certainly don’t seem to mind when homophobic lawmakers legally pressure LGBT-accepting chaplains to stop doing the ceremonies they themselves wish to perform. What about their religious freedom? Or do anti-gay politicians only subscribe to the “you are free to do as we tell you” theory of freedom?

Let’s not forget what Dinesh D’Souza said about 9/11

On a recent episode of “Secure Freedom Radio”, conservative author Dinesh D’Souza had this to say about President Obama:

It fits in this way Janet, because I think Obama is weirdly sympathetic to Muslim jihadis who are captured in Iraq or Afghanistan, giving them constitutional rights, wanting to close down Guantanamo or when Obama keeps taking the Palestinian position against Israel, some people think that the reason he does this is because he must be a secret Muslim himself. I think that’s wrong. But what I do think Obama thinks is he thinks, ‘look, America is the evil power occupying these poor Third World countries, so the Muslims who are fighting against America are freedom fighters, they’re like Mandela, they’re like Gandhi, they’re like Obama’s own dad fighting to push the British out of Kenya.’ He views those guys in favorable terms and he sees America, not Iran or North Korea, but America as the rogue nation that has to be pulled back.

Such accusations are especially striking in light of what D’Souza wrote in his 2007 book, The Enemy At Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11:

In faulting the cultural left, I am not making the absurd accusation that this group blew up the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. I am saying that the cultural left and its allies in Congress, the media, Hollywood, the nonprofit sector and the universities are the primary cause of the volcano of anger toward America that is erupting from the Islamic world. The Muslims who carried out the 9/11 attacks were the product of this visceral rage—some of it based on legitimate concerns, some of it based on wrongful prejudice—but all of it fueled and encouraged by the cultural left. Thus without the cultural left, 9/11 would not have happened. …

Shortly after the fall of Baghdad, graffiti began to appear on the walls of the city and its environs. The following scrawl caught my attention. “Marriage of the same sex became legal in America. Is this, with the mafia and drugs, what you want to bring to Iraq, America? Is this the freedom you promised?” Even if the source of this statement is of little consequence, the content is revealing. It is not an objection to freedom, but to the kind of freedom associated with drug legalization and homosexual marriage. As such, it is a vital clue to the sources of Muslim rage. And here is an excerpt from a recent videotape by Ayman al-Zawahiri, deputy of Bin Laden and reputed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. “The freedom we want is not the freedom to use women as a commodity to gain clients, win deals, or attract tourists; it is not the freedom of AIDS and an industry of obscenities and homosexual marriages; it is not the freedom of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.”

What these statements convey is that these Islamic radicals do not hate America because of its wealth and power; they hate America because of how Americans use that wealth and power. They do not hate us for our freedom; they hate us because of what we do with our freedom. The radical Muslims are convinced that America and Europe have become sick, demented societies that destroy religious belief, undermine traditional morality, dissolve the patriarchal family, and corrupt the innocence of children. …

There seems to be a growing belief in traditional cultures—a belief encouraged but by no means created by Islamic fundamentalism—that America is materially prosperous but culturally decadent. It is technologically sophisticated but morally depraved. As former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto puts it, “Within the Muslim world, there is a reaction against the sexual overtones that come across in American mass culture. America is viewed through this prism as an immoral society.” In his book The Crisis of Islam, Bernard Lewis rehearses what he calls the “standard litany of American offenses recited in the lands of Islam” and ends with this one: “Yet the most powerful accusation of all is the degeneracy and debauchery of the American way of life.” As these observations suggest, what angers religious Muslims is not the American Constitution but the scandalous sexual mores they see on American movies and television. What disgusts them are not free elections but the sights of hundreds of homosexuals kissing each other and taking marriage vows. The person that horrifies them the most is not John Locke but Hillary Clinton. …

We should not dismiss the Islamic or traditional critique so easily. In fact, as our own domestic and cultural debate shows, we know that many of the concerns raised by the radical Muslims are widely-shared in our own society. Indeed, many conservative and religious Americans agree with the Islamic fundamentalists that American culture has become increasingly vulgar, trivial and disgusting. I am not merely referring to the reality shows where contestants eat maggots or the talk shows where guests reveal the humiliating details of their sex lives. I am also referring to “high culture,” to liberal culture that offers itself as refined and sophisticated.

Here, for example, is a brief excerpt from Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues,” a play that won rave reviews and Hollywood accolades and is now routinely performed (according to its own publicity materials) in “more than 20 countries, including China and Turkey.” In the book version of the play—now sold in translation in Pakistan, India, and Egypt—Ensler offers what she terms “Vagina Occurrences”: “Glenn Close gets 2,500 people to stand up and chant the word cunt…There is now a Cunt Workshop at Wesleyan University…Roseanne performs ‘What Does Your Vagina Smell Like?” in her underwear for two thousand people…Alanis Morisette and Audra McDonald sing the cunt piece.” And so on. If all of this makes many Americans uncomfortable and embarrassed—which may be part of Ensler’s objective—one can only imagine how it is received in traditional cultures where the public recitation of such themes and language is considered a grotesque violation of manners and morals. …

Thus we have the first way in which the cultural left is responsible for 9/11. The left has produced a moral shift in American society that has resulted in a deluge of gross depravity and immorality. This deluge threatens to engulf our society and is imposing itself on the rest of the world. The Islamic radicals are now convinced that America represents the revival of pagan barbarism in the world, and 9/11 represents their ongoing battle with what they perceive to be the forces of Satan.

So, who really seems “weirdly sympathetic to Muslim jihadis” here? Who do you think believes “America is the evil power occupying these poor Third World countries” and sees America as “the rogue nation that has to be pulled back”? Obama, or the guy who blames The Vagina Monologues, Hillary Clinton and “hundreds of homosexuals kissing each other” for provoking attacks by Islamic extremists?

Incredible hypocrisy about the FRC’s own statements

In the wake of Wednesday’s tragic shooting of a security guard at the headquarters of the Family Research Council, right wing radio hosts Janet Mefferd and Peter LaBarbera have found someone to blame other than the shooter: people who quoted what the FRC’s staff, campaigns, and official publications have actually said.

Mefferd: I was reading through for example what the Human Rights Campaign had posted the day before the shooting and they had a whole list there that was very inflammatory about the Family Research Council, ‘they want to export homosexuals from the US’ and ‘they equate homosexuals with pedophiles’ and all this stuff. I thought: if you were somewhat of an unstable person and you read this sort of stuff and you were in line with what they believe I think it could drive somebody to violence. So we’re back to the question of, to what degree should there be public pressure on some of these gay rights organizations to tone it down?

Tone it down? These quotations are not something that LGBT groups have made up out of whole cloth. The FRC and its representatives really said these things. Peter Spring, senior fellow of the FRC, did say “I would much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them into the United States, because we believe that homosexuality is destructive to society.” Sprigg did say ” I think there would be a place for criminal sanctions against homosexual behavior.” And Tony Perkins, president of FRC, did say “While activists like to claim that pedophilia is a completely distinct orientation from homosexuality, evidence shows a disproportionate overlap between the two. … It is a homosexual problem.”

How exactly are we supposed to tone down their own words? If they’re really going to argue that mere exposure to their own words is sufficient to inspire violence (a notion they strangely find unthinkable when others point out that their ongoing campaign of homophobia and transphobia might be in part responsible for anti-LGBT hatred and violence, LGBT youth suicide, family rejection and homelessness), then how can they hold others accountable for simply quoting what they said, but not themselves for actually saying it? Why are they saying any of this in the first place if they don’t want anyone to know they said it, and believe that people are literally going to shoot them upon hearing what they’ve said?

It’s like they started with victim-blaming and ended up blaming everyone but themselves. When they say something, they are responsible for nothing; when we just quote what they said, we are responsible for everything. This makes no sense whatsoever. If you really don’t want anyone to notice that you said gay people are pedophiles who should be “exported” and criminalized, then there’s an easy way to avoid this: don’t say it in the first place.