Penis Impossible: The most baffling transphobia ever

Purely out of necessity, people can be very creative when trying to invent real-world evidence – rather than merely abstract objections – to justify hating and fearing trans people. Some of this transphobia relies on arguments about scenarios that are theoretically possible, but do not actually occur: things like cis boys passing themselves off as trans girls to peep in locker rooms, something which happens only in the imagination of Bill O’Reilly. Other transphobia relies on citing situations that probably do occur sometimes, and then using them in arguments that are plainly illogical – like a cis man picking up a trans woman he finds attractive while assuming she’s cis, having a mutually enjoyable tryst with her, and later discovering she’s trans and retroactively declaring this was now a singularly horrific event which was wholly her fault.

Occasionally, we get the chance to see transphobes wander just a little too far into the realm of fantasy. I don’t know how I managed to miss this, but last year, transphobic radical feminist “Ann Tagonist” took the typical disclosure-and-deception sex trope and ran with it – directly into oncoming traffic. Tagonist’s breathtaking new argument (I’ve honestly never seen this one before) is structured as follows:

  1. Cis women can be at risk of becoming pregnant from sex.
  2. Cis lesbians might assume that limiting themselves to lesbian sex means they are not at risk of pregnancy.
  3. If a cis woman sleeps with a trans woman, the cis woman could be at risk of becoming pregnant.
  4. If the cis woman in question has not been informed that her partner is a trans woman rather than a cis woman, she might not realize she needs to take steps to mitigate her risk of pregnancy.
  5. Therefore, trans people should be obligated to disclose that they are trans before having sex.

Before getting into this, I’ll give you a moment to locate the exact point where this falls apart. (Hint: somewhere between 3 and 4.)

Tagonist first makes reference to a real-life case that can’t possibly support this line of argument:

The Scottish Transgender Alliance has filed a petition with the Home Office demanding that Scotland’s courts stop jailing people who lie about their trans status to their sexual partners. Over 2,400 people put their names on this thing. The Scottish Transgender Alliance argues that a person’s “gender history” is their own personal medical history and they are not obliged to disclose anything to do with it.

This petition followed the conviction of Chris Wilson, a trans man who did not disclose that he was trans before dating two women. Trans men (men who were assigned female at birth) lack the capacity to produce sperm, no matter which procedures or surgeries they may have had. There is no way in which the risk of pregnancy is relevant to trans men having sex with cis women – not even in theory.

Undeterred by this particular fact, or any facts at all, Tagonist goes on to lay out her concerns:

Lesbians, when they consent to sex with female partners, are doing so on the understanding that they are definitely not going to become pregnant. … If a lesbian ‘consents’ to sex with someone she thinks is reproductively female but that person is actually reproductively male, that lesbian has not given informed consent. She has not been given enough information with which to make her decision. Women need to know the reproductive capacity of a potential sex partner so they can decide not to engage, or take steps to protect themselves. …

“Gender history” is irrelevant here. We need to know the sex of the people we’re having sex with because, hello, pregnancy. Legislation which allows males to lie about their sex in order to obtain consent contravenes women’s bodily autonomy.

Rarely do I encounter transphobia rooted in something that is not just improbable, not just illogical, but in fact literally impossible. If we were to make a decision tree of every different way in which such a hypothetical event could proceed, there would be no possible endpoint where the cis woman partner would both experience an event leading to pregnancy and remain unaware that her partner is actually a trans woman and not a cis woman.

In order for it to be possible for a trans woman to impregnate a cis woman during sex, that trans woman must still be capable of producing sperm. This would no longer be the case following vaginoplasty (commonly known as “The Surgery”), during which the testes are discarded. A trans woman with a vagina has no remaining tissue in her body that can produce sperm – ever.

The only way in which a trans woman could conceal the fact that she’s trans during any kind of genital-genital contact is if she has a vagina, and thus can’t produce sperm. After all, the entire trope of trans women not disclosing prior to sex relies on a scenario where our partners can have sex with us and still not be able to tell we’re trans. Conversely, the only way in which a trans woman could impregnate a cis woman during sex is if she still has a penis (and testes), the presence of which can be assumed to disclose one’s transness inherently. Yet Tagonist seems to be under the impression that these two mutually exclusive possibilities could happen concurrently – that a cis woman could have sex with a trans woman without knowing she’s trans, and become pregnant due to this.

I struggle to comprehend the reasoning behind this. Perhaps Tagonist believes that cis women can become pregnant from exposure to trans women’s vaginas, something which is physically impossible. One might as well fret about the potential risk of virginal conception (and any unintended deities that may result). Or maybe she believes cis women are so totally ignorant that they would not recognize the presence of a woman’s penis as an indication that this woman is indeed trans – which is contradicted by her assumption that cis women will have enough baseline knowledge of trans issues that they will know how to act on this information.

Or perhaps she imagines that a cis woman could somehow remain completely unaware that a real, live human penis is present in close range of her genitals – before, during, and after a sexual act that could lead to pregnancy. Maybe, in Tagonist’s world, trans women are capable of flawlessly concealing their own penises even during penetration itself, like the sexual equivalent of the hallway scene from Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol.

Which totally happens all the time, what with our state-of-the-art Invisible Stealth Parts – the latest craze that’s sweeping Thailand! I mean, how else would such a thing be possible? Have I missed something here, like time-traveling trans sperm? I’m genuinely curious as to how this whole line of argument coalesced in her mind. For all I know, this is something she’s dealt with before, in which case she should strongly consider taking up Randi on his $1 million paranormal challenge. Otherwise, her ramblings about “informed consent” in regards to trans people having sex ring rather hollow, given that she doesn’t seem to be informed about much in this area at all.

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.

Female genital mutilation: “Balance” at the expense of justice

At Sociological Images, Lisa Wade has decided to promote a report by the Hastings Center on the practice of female genital mutilation. In response to what they consider “hyperbolic and one-sided” coverage by “Western media” without regard to the “cultural complexities” of mutilation, the report claims to offer “a better account of the facts”.

By uncritically parroting the report’s findings, Wade repeats its central mistake. For the sake of “balance”, she and the report both leave a gaping chasm where you might expect to see the most pressing, urgent, relevant aspect of the entire issue: the outrage that children are made to undergo medically unnecessary, disfiguring and disabling surgery upon their healthy, normal genitals without their consent.

However much they’ve tried to dance around what should be the central concern here, and excise any suggestion of moral judgment of FGM (they reserve that for “hyperbolic” journalists), its absence screams throughout the piece. You just can’t avoid noticing how this bioethics think tank seemingly displays no interest in considering the ethics of the very practice under discussion.

And while their intention may have simply been to dispel misconceptions about FGM rather than offer yet another condemnation of the practice, their overall characterization of this issue treats it as something that can be sterilized, prettified, and abstracted away. They repeatedly downplay the reality of mutilation – they prefer to call it “surgeries” or “modification”, stripping away any hint of negativity – with an attitude suggesting that those who oppose it should find something better to do with their time. It is a masterwork of callousness, sure to appeal to anyone who regards women as less than human.

This is underscored by the shortcomings of the “facts” they purport to offer. Their claims are almost wholly irrelevant to the inescapable problems presented by FGM, and provide only a cursory analysis of complex phenomena like cultural attitudes toward women’s bodies before dismissing the very possibility that this could have any bearing on the practice. As a whole, it comes off as pathetically reaching for any remotely plausible reason to oppose the “one-sided” condemnation of FGM, in the name of mere contrarianism.

For instance, the report criticizes a New York Times columnist for describing the mutilation as “the sewing or pinning together of both sides of the vulva, by catgut or thorns, and the obliteration of the vaginal entrance except for a tiny passage”. They contend that this “is not factually correct”. The report goes on to explain how three subtypes of mutilation are performed.

Type I is “restricted to procedures involving reduction of either the clitoral hood (the prepuce) or the external or protruding elements of clitoral tissue, or both.” Type II “involves partial or complete labial reductions and partial or complete reductions of the external or protruding elements of clitoral tissue.” In type III, infibulation, “the operation is concluded by shielding and narrowing the vaginal opening with stitches or other techniques of sealing, which forms a smooth surface of joined tissue that is opened at the time of first sexual intercourse.”

The authors then point out that “infibulations amount to approximately 10 percent of cases across the continent” and are sometimes performed using sutures under hygienic conditions in hospitals or clinics. Yes, what a relief that only one in 10 girls subjected to FGM have their vaginal opening sewn shut before later being torn open, whereas the other nine in 10 must only endure having their labia or the visible portion of their clitoris cut off. Surely the Times was out of line for implying that there’s anything wrong with this practice.

So just how many women do undergo FGM, anyway? Could it be that it’s just very limited, and blown out of proportion by “one-sided” reporters? According to the report:

In some countries, the prevalence among women aged fifteen to forty-nine is very high (over 80 percent). These include estimates from Djibouti (93 percent), Egypt (91 percent), Eritrea (89 percent), Guinea (96 percent), Mali (85 percent), Sierra Leone (91 percent), Somalia (98 percent), and northern Sudan (89 percent).

Oh. So it turns out that 10% of about 90% of adult women in these nations have had their vaginas painfully sealed shut. This is not a small number. I don’t see why anyone would be reassured by the fact that 10% of these women have been forced to undergo infibulation. When millions of girls are still subjected to FGM, it doesn’t cease to be a problem merely because one writer’s description of a certain method’s prevalence was off by perhaps a factor of 10 and most of these girls “only” have their labia or clitoral tissue sliced off.

But hey, maybe FGM isn’t all that bad. Maybe it’s just a harmless little “modification”. And yes, that’s where they’re taking this:

Research by gynecologists and others has demonstrated that a high percentage of women who have had genital surgery have rich sexual lives, including desire, arousal, orgasm, and satisfaction, and their frequency of sexual activity is not reduced. This is true of the 10 percent (type III) as well as the 90 percent (types I and II).

Most obviously, how does one tell the difference? Just as in male circumcision, girls are subjected to FGM long before they become sexually active. So how would they know what they’re missing? Of course they don’t notice any difference in their sexual satisfaction – they have no basis for comparison. This doesn’t mean that these practices have no impact whatsoever on their sexual functioning.

The report continues:

It should also be emphasized that cases of sexual dysfunction and pain during sex have been reported both by women who have undergone female genital surgery and by those who have not.

Notice how this sentence is carefully crafted to give the impression that women experience sexual dysfunction and pain at similar rates regardless of whether they’ve undergone genital mutilation, while actually telling us absolutely nothing. All it says is this: Some women who have undergone FGM experience sexual dysfunction and pain. Some women who haven’t undergone FGM experience sexual dysfunction and pain.

Well, so what? This provides no information whatsoever about the rates at which these two groups experience sexual dysfunction and pain, or the nature of the dysfunction and pain, or its cause, or its intensity. The report completely glosses over these relevant facts, instead preferring an ambiguous, equivocating, intellectually dishonest statement of “well, sometimes women have pain during sex even when they haven’t had FGM”. This tells us nothing about the effects of FGM.

Regardless, they continue in their attempts to minimize these effects:

The widely publicized and sensationalized reproductive health and medical complications associated with female genital surgeries in Africa are infrequent events and represent the exception rather than the rule.

What’s especially ironic is that the article Lisa Wade cited in her blog post says just the opposite:

It shows that few studies are appropriately designed to measure health effects, that circumcision is associated with significantly higher risks of a few well-defined complications, but that for other possible complications the evidence does not show significant differences.

Regardless of how exceptional the risk of complications may be, why should it be acceptable to expose a healthy child to these risks at all for no medical reason? Just because something is “the exception rather than the rule” doesn’t mean it’s an acceptable risk.

Yet even if there were never any complications, and even if this never caused any sexual dysfunction or pain, removing parts of a child’s body without reason and without consent simply isn’t justifiable. It also doesn’t really harm a child’s ability to function if you arbitrarily decide to give them a permanent tattoo, or remove one of their testicles (they’ve got two!), or lop off a toe or fingertip. But for some reason, people who do this to their children for no medical reason are arrested. Why? Because a lack of harm – or minimal harm, or low risk of harm – doesn’t equate to an unlimited license to alter a child’s body frivolously.

The report then goes on to explore the motivations behind this mutilation:

Female genital surgeries in Africa are viewed by many insiders as aesthetic enhancements of the body and are not judged to be “mutilations.” From the perspective of those who value these surgeries, they are associated with a positive aesthetic ideal aimed at making the genitals more attractive—“smooth and clean.”

Surprise, surprise. It seems the Hastings Center has discovered that People Tend To Think The Choices They Make Are Good. Of course the people who do this think they have a good and right reason for it. It would be ridiculous to think they just go around intentionally being evil and doing this to girls for no other reason than “hey, I’m evil and I’m going to slice up this girl’s genitals!” No one envisions themselves as the villain in the story of their life. This is to be expected.

But it doesn’t mean that their reasons or their aesthetic value judgments are valid. Just because someone has a justification doesn’t mean this justification is sound. While these explanations can help us understand what drives this practice, it’s not an excuse. Even if a culture regards a certain body modification as a visual improvement, it doesn’t justify violating a child’s bodily autonomy. If aesthetic sensibilities are so important here, where is the respect for that child’s own judgment? Shouldn’t they be given the opportunity to make these decisions for their own body as an adult, instead of having it forced upon them at a young age?

And why is anyone this concerned with the aesthetic appeal of a child’s genitals, anyway?

The red herrings keep on coming:

Customary genital surgeries are not restricted to females. In almost all societies where there are customary female genital surgeries, there are also customary male genital surgeries, at similar ages and for parallel reasons. In other words, there are few societies in the world, if any, in which female but not male genital surgeries are customary. As a broad generalization, it seems fair to say that societies for whom genital surgeries are normal and routine are not singling out females as targets of punishment, sexual deprivation, or humiliation.

This is an enormous and unexplained logical leap. While some societies may perform both male circumcision and female genital mutilation, this fact alone is not sufficient to conclude that the motivations behind each of these practices must be identical, or that a desire to control women and their sexuality could not possibly be a factor in FGM.

Indeed, just a paragraph later, the report explicitly acknowledges this:

In some societies where genital surgeries are customary for females and males (for example, in Northeast Africa), chastity and virginity are highly valued, and type III surgeries involving infibulation may be expressive of these values, but those chastity and virginity concerns are neither distinctive nor characteristic of all societies for whom genital surgeries are customary.

So, the practice of infibulation may be tied to values of virginity and chastity. Yet somehow, sealing a girl’s vagina into just a small opening must have nothing to do with inflicting sexual deprivation upon women. I suppose if they started bending boys’ penises in half and sewing both sides together, that would have nothing to do with sexual control, either?

The authors outdo themselves with the next conclusion they jump to:

Female genital surgery in Africa is typically controlled and managed by women. Similarly, male genital surgery is usually controlled and managed by men. Although both men and women play roles in perpetuating and supporting the genital modification customs of their cultures, female genital surgery should not be blamed on men or on patriarchy. Demographic and health survey data reveal that when compared with men, an equal or higher proportion of women favor the continuation of female genital surgeries.

Just because women are involved with a practice, or endorse it, does not mean that their views haven’t been influenced in any way whatsoever by the values of a male-dominated, male-controlled society. A woman’s approval does not suddenly make a certain practice completely acceptable. An opinion of “but I like it!” should not exempt these values from being critically examined. It doesn’t mean that the origins of these values are now irrelevant just because, hey, women say they’re okay with it. It’s not as though every choice made by a woman is morally unimpeachable and has nothing to do with the beliefs and standards of her culture.

The report declares that “far greater attention should be paid to the perspectives of African women who value the practice and describe it accordingly (for example, as genital beautification or genital cleansing).” Where does the notion that this mutilation is actually a “beautification” come from? The authors explain:

Within the aesthetic terms of these body ideals, cosmetically unmodified genitals in both men and women are perceived and  experienced as distasteful, unclean, excessively fleshy, malodorous, and somewhat ugly to behold and touch. The enhancement of gender identity is also frequently a significant feature of genital surgery, from the point of view of insiders who support the practice. In the case of male genital surgeries, the aim is to enhance male gender identity by removing bodily signs of femininity (the foreskin is perceived as a fleshy, vagina-like female element on the male body). In the case of female genital surgeries, the aim is often to enhance female gender identity by removing bodily signs of masculinity (the visible part of the clitoris is perceived as a protruding, penis-like masculine element on the female body).

Yes, because people have so often failed to give a fair hearing to the notion that someone’s healthy, normal genitals are actually dirty, smelly and ugly. After all, our society has never held such negative views toward genitalia, especially women’s genitalia. It’s unheard of! Likewise, I’m sure that the literal stripping of any perceived hint of femininity from boys’ bodies has no connection to the lengthy global history of elevating men above women and removing any association they might have with a lesser sex. And these attempts to deprive girls of the “masculinity” they were born with certainly has nothing to do with the goal of keeping them out of the elevated status of men.

The sheer laziness and deceit of this report, from a supposedly esteemed bioethics group, is disappointing enough. That they would engage in these intellectual contortions and willful ignorance for the purpose of downplaying the genital mutilation of girls, and criticizing those who speak out against this practice, is outrageous. It just goes to show that bioethicists don’t necessarily know what they’re talking about it. Despite their title, they have no greater grasp of morality than anyone else, and the Hastings Center has made that unavoidably clear.

And it’s a discredit to Lisa Wade’s blog, usually an excellent source of analysis on how negative attitudes toward women are expressed in media, that she saw no need to point out the glaringly obvious flaws in this piece before giving it her stamp of approval. Good job adding some “balance” to counter all those silly people who think girls shouldn’t have their vulvas fused shut, you rebel you!

The Christian’s Thanksgiving mistake

John MacArthur of the Washington Times has a real stumper for all of us atheists: if there is no God, then why do we feel gratitude?

Ingratitude is dishonorable by anyone’s reckoning, but to be willfully ungrateful toward the Creator is to deny an essential aspect of our own humanity. The shame of such ingratitude is inscribed on the human conscience, and even the most dogmatic atheists are not immune from the knowledge that they ought to give thanks to God. Try as they might to suppress or deny the impulse, “what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them,” according to Romans 1:19.

Indeed. How can we possibly account for the urge to be thankful, without recognizing the crucial role of this specific deity of this specific faith with this specific mythology? Because, of course, the fact that people feel gratitude has everything to do with the story of the Christian God, its creation of the world and its interactions with humans, as relayed by one particular religious text which is completely reliable. People feel stuff, and that means God. How could this ever be explained otherwise?

MacArthur continues:

One atheist has practically made a hobby of writing articles to explain why atheists feel the need to be thankful and to answer the question of whom they might thank. His best answer? He says atheists can be grateful to farmers for the food we eat, to doctors for the health we enjoy, to engineers for the advantages of modern technology, to city workers for keeping our environment clean and orderly — and so on.

Here’s the problem with that: Tipping the waitress or tipping one’s hat to sanitation workers doesn’t even come close to resolving the problem of whom Mr. Dawkins should thank when he looks at the stars, stands at the edge of the Grand Canyon, or studies the world of countless wonders his microscope reveals in a single drop of pond water.

Clearly, whether something is spiritually satisfying is unambiguous evidence of the truth of a particular religious claim. Atheism must be invalid if it can’t explain people’s feelings of awe and undirected thankfulness, because this is obviously a problem of theology and metaphysics – not one of human psychology. I’m surprised MacArthur didn’t get into more of the weak points of atheism, such as its failure to provide emotionally fulfilling answers to human wonder at childbirth, dogs, fire, and magnets. Such feelings must point to a God, because it says so in the Bible. And we know the Bible is true, because there’s obviously a God as indicated by Richard Dawkins’ feelings about canyons and Shaggy 2 Dope’s awe at rainbows.

Check and mate.

With God, everything is permitted

Like killing children. Charlie Fuqua, candidate for the Arkansas House of Representatives, recommended child execution in his book, “God’s Law: The Only Political Solution”:

The maintenance of civil order in society rests on the foundation of family discipline. Therefore, a child who disrespects his parents must be permanently removed from society in a way that gives an example to all other children of the importance of respect for parents. … This passage does not give parents blanket authority to kill their children. They must follow the proper procedure in order to have the death penalty executed against their children. I cannot think of one instance in the Scripture where parents had their child put to death. Why is this so? Other than the love Christ has for us, there is no greater love then that of a parent for their child. The last people who would want to see a child put to death would be the parents of the child. Even so, the Scrpture provides a safe guard to protect children from parents who would wrongly exercise the death penalty against them. Parents are required to bring their children to the gate of the city. The gate of the city was the place where the elders of the city met and made judicial pronouncements. In other words, the parents were required to take their children to a court of law and lay out their case before the proper judicial authority, and let the judicial authority determine if the child should be put to death. I know of many cases of rebellious children, however, I cannot think of one case where I believe that a parent had given up on their child to the point that they would have taken their child to a court of law and asked the court to rule that the child be put to death. Even though this procedure would rarely be used, if it were the law of land, it would give parents authority. Children would know that their parents had authority and it would be a tremendous incentive for children to give proper respect to their parents.

I can think of at least 3 problems with this plan. First, in order for a threat to be effective, it has to be credible. The target of the threat must believe there is a possibility that it will be carried out. That’s what makes it so ridiculous for Fuqua to try and walk the line of “we need this as a disincentive to bad behavior, but I’m sure no one will ever actually execute their kids!” If it never happens, it starts to lose its power to influence anyone, as it becomes difficult for people to believe it could actually happen. If he really finds child executions so dreadful that he seeks to downplay how likely this is, maybe he shouldn’t want to make explicit legal allowances for it. And if he does believe that the goal of discouraging disobedience is so overwhelmingly important that it warrants the execution of children, then it makes no sense within his own value system that he would want to get in the way of doing what he believes is necessary to achieve the very objective he considers so crucial. It’s almost like the guy who supports child execution is being irrational or something.

Second, people have killed their children for religious reasons on plenty of occasions, both intentionally and unintentionally. People also kill children for reasons other than religion. What grounds does he have to be so certain that parents have never, ever wanted their children dead? And how can he possibly believe that the world he envisions, with a religious community that has a social norm of executing children for parental disobedience, would be at all averse to doing just that?

Third, you seriously want to make mere disobedience a capital crime for children when there’s already substantial debate over whether the death penalty, an irrevocable act which allows for no reevaluation or correction or pardon after the fact, is appropriate even for morally culpable and mentally sound adults? What is wrong with you? Knock it off!

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.


There’s a photo on Facebook? Quick, set something on fire!

Seriously – why?

Thousands of Bangladeshi Muslims set fire to at least 10 Buddhist temples and 40 homes in anger over a Facebook photo of a burned Quran before authorities restored order. …

He said at least 20 people were injured in the attacks that started late Saturday after a photo of a burned copy of the Muslim holy book was posted on Facebook. The rioters blamed the photo on a local Buddhist boy, though it was not immediately clear if he actually posted the photo.

Bangladesh’s popular English-language Daily Star newspaper quoted the boy as saying that the photo was mistakenly tagged on his Facebook profile.

I don’t particularly care if this was just a pretext that was cynically used to inflame already-existing tensions, as this sort of thing usually is. This is asinine and the mere attempt to use it as an excuse is fucking disgraceful. If you think it’s at all understandable to tell people “um, yeah, we burned down all these buildings because of a picture somewhere on Facebook!”, you are simply broken as a human being.

And they see nothing wrong with this?

Even for, this is a whole new kind of low. What I’ve always found most disturbing about that site is not merely that it exists, but that the wider “men’s rights” corner of the internet apparently sees no need to repudiate its content. This is a place that proudly hosts articles claiming that pointing out misogyny is the same as centuries of vicious racial hatred and abuse, and whose founder rants about “feminists, manginas, white knights and other agents of misandry” in their mission statement. He is also completely unable to refrain from calling women “whores” (just count ’em!).

And how does the men’s rights movement at large respond to this? Do they declare that this site does not represent their interests? That it’s simply too reprehensible to support? That it doesn’t deserve to be read and it doesn’t deserve to speak on their behalf? It would seem not. The site is almost always heavily upvoted on various MRA sections of Reddit, and it’s a challenge to find anyone aligned with “men’s rights” who denounces it for its ridiculous and extraordinarily offensive claims. Nowhere do we see an acknowledgement that perhaps this is not the voice that men need. It’s unsettling that so many of them seem to find this tolerable and not at all problematic.

NOM speaker explains his homosexuality/incest parallels: “Too much sameness”

Robert Gagnon, professor of theology and speaker for the National Organization for Marriage’s Ruth Institute, recently explained one of his anti-gay arguments on Facebook:

When I compare homosexual practice to incest it is primarily to make the point that if we are opposed to the latter we should also be opposed to the former, since both involve a union of persons who are too much alike on a structural (formal, embodied) level: too much sameness as regards kinship (incest) or gender (homosexual practice), not enough complementary otherness.

Next up on the chopping block: marriages of white people, Christians, and partners who both prefer salty snacks over sweet. Not enough complementary otherness!