Morass of Nastiness

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A poem, by Johnny Vector.

Morass of Nastiness

There’s a morass of nastiness well on the way,
From peyote to peeing, it’s coming to stay.
We said it would give you the freedom to pray,
Oh thank you so much for the RFRA.

It may have at first seemed like Truman Quixote:
Trying to legalize taking peyote.
But for logic, religion is most antidotey.
So excuse me if now I’m a little bit gloaty.

We made it all happen, we got us some laws
To make sure you never get out of our claws.
Keep away from our bathrooms and lunch counters, cause
We’re putting this country back, just like it was.

There’s an army of lawyers with claims to seek who
Have a living to earn, and some harm to wreak too.
With their war-cry of “Freedom!” they’ll help to keep you
From having to deal with LBGTQ.

But wait, that’s not all; we’re preparing a bill
(Which we know that the libs will be trying to kill)
To remind you that sex is a dangerous thrill,
We’re going to prevent you from taking the pill.

There’s a morass of nastiness well on the way,
A bit evil, for sure, but we’re happy to say
That it isn’t our freedom we’re taking away
With the ever-expansionist RFRA.

Trump: Jesus Is Somebody I Can Really Rely On.

Donald Trump said Jesus Christ is “somebody I can totally rely on,” particularly for “security and confidence.” (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Donald Trump touched on his thoughts about Jesus Christ Wednesday by saying Jesus is “somebody I can totally rely on,” particularly for “security and confidence” as he enters the general election phase of the race.

Trump also told Cal Thomas in an interview posted Wednesday that he doesn’t plan on asking for forgiveness from God too much going forward, even though he does plan on asking for it on occasion.

“Every president has called upon God at some point. Lincoln spoke of not being able to hold the office of the presidency without spending time on his knees,” Thomas told Trump. “You have said you never felt the need to ask for God’s forgiveness, and yet repentance for one’s sins is a precondition to salvation. I ask you the question Jesus asked of Peter: Who do you say He is?”

“I will be asking for forgiveness, but hopefully I won’t have to be asking for much forgiveness,” Trump said, before talking up his relationships with clergymen and evangelicals more broadly. “I’m going to treat my religion, which is Christian, with great respect and care.”

Thomas then repeated his initial question, asking “who do you say Jesus is?” The question stems from the Gospel.

“Jesus to me is somebody I can think about for security and confidence,” Trump said. “Somebody I can revere in terms of bravery and in terms of courage and, because I consider the Christian religion so important, somebody I can totally rely on in my own mind.”

I really didn’t need yet another reason to seriously dislike Trump, especially in high office, but I got one anyway.

Full Story Here.

The Lambda Literary Awards

lammy-awards-01_0

The winners of the 28th Annual Lambda Literary Awards (the “Lammys”) were announced last night in a gala ceremony hosted by comedienne Kate Clinton at NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. The Lambda ceremony brought together over 500 attendees, sponsors, and celebrities to celebrate excellence in LGBT literature and 28 years of the groundbreaking literary awards. The celebration continued at Le Poisson Rouge at the Official After-Party with celebrity DJs Sammy Jo and Tikka Masala, VJ Bleue Liverpool and an electrifying performance by Macy Rodman.

[…]

Clinton summed up the event saying, “Never have the Lambda Literary Awards ever sounded so much like the People’s Choice Awards.”

You can see a host of photos here. 28th Annual Lambda Literary Award Winners:

[Read more…]

Religious Freedom Flood

AP Photo.

AP Photo.

The current backlash of religious liberty legislation won’t come as a surprise to anyone, but it looks like we will be in for a long courthouse ride on the current wave. The Advocate has an excellent article providing a good summation of Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, and their various permutations now piling up on courthouse steps. As noted, attempts at circumventing civil rights rulings aren’t new at all, but some groups are getting more savvy about language use, which can allow some discrimination to be passed, where the ones with blatant discriminatory language won’t.

Religious freedom is all the rage these days. To hear it told by conservative activists, the constitutional promise of each citizen’s free exercise of religion is under attack like no other time in U.S. history. Surely, such an urgent question is headed for the Supreme Court, right?

Maybe not so fast. Several out attorneys who have spent decades fighting for LGBT civil rights tell The Advocate that we may be settling in for another long, drawn-out battle that challenges discriminatory laws state by state, clause by clause.

[…]

Perhaps proving they’ve learned from Romer, though, anti-LGBT lawmakers these days are less explicit about which groups they’re targeting. The trend in RFRA legislation is to never include any mention of the words “gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender,” or even “sexual orientation or gender identity.”

[…]

Some of the modern iterations of these religious freedom laws hew closely to the federal RFRA, which is comparatively narrow in scope, and therefore generally considered constitutional. But the new wave of bills claiming to protect religious freedom have a broader and, advocates say, more sinister motive.

“It’s not just about LGBT people,” Warbelow explain. “It’s about so much more. That’s an element of why these states are trying to pass [religious freedom laws], but it’s also very much about birth control. It’s very much about restrictions around abortion or even having to talk about abortion. It’s about creating a system in which the religious majority gets to live out their faith regardless of whom it hurts.”

The challenge, these attorneys agreed, is that litigation is designed to address one particular issue or constitutional question at a time. With laws that enable such widespread, multifaceted discrimination, each of those discriminatory provisions will have to be struck down individually, in every state where such a law exists. And even if this Herculean effort is successful, there’s nothing stopping determined anti-LGBT lawmakers from reintroducing slightly amended versions of bills that may have already been struck down in court.

“I actually think the American people are fundamentally with us, on understanding how the effort to use religion as a sword needs to be rejected in this [election] cycle,” says Wolfson. “It’s a multiple set of engagements we need to do, but the big lesson of the marriage work is: Get ahead of it. Have an affirmative strategy. Don’t just be reacting.”

Warbelow agrees and stresses that the problem isn’t with the concept of religious liberty.

“There’s still a real need for protections for religious minorities,” says Warbelow. “It’s just that the [federal RFRA] law has been misused by the courts.”

She points to the Do No Harm Act, a piece of legislation introduced by two Democrats last month in the U.S. House of Representatives that looks to revise the federal RFRA to clarify that it cannot be used to discriminate against members of any minority class, be they religious minorities, LGBT people, and/or women. The bill, Warbelow says, seeks to “restore RFRA to its original intent.”

“We need to reenvision what it means to protect religious liberties,” Warbelow says, “without creating a system in which it’s a free-for-all for discrimination.”

Full Story Here.

The Beauty of Impermanence.

 Chuan-Bin Chung.

Chuan-Bin Chung.

We are impermanent beings, and perhaps that is best illustrated with anatomy.

Chinese illustrator and anatomy instructor Chuan-Bin Chung encourages his students to understand the intricacies of the human body by drawing them. For many of his lessons he creates impermanent drawings on chalkboards as a helpful guide, but instead of quick sketches as one might be accustomed to, the pieces are exacting and colorful depictions of bones, muscles, and tendons—practically works of art in their own right.

I’ve seen many art pieces based on human anatomy, all of them stirring and beautiful. I would put these in that class. They may not last long, but there is a striking beauty there, which will reside in minds long after the chalk is gone.

 Chuan-Bin Chung.

Chuan-Bin Chung.

Those of you with Facebook accounts can hit the above links, fortunately, for the those of us without FB accounts, Chuan-Bin Chung has a youtube channel. There’s much to enjoy!

Via Colossal Art.

Best Wedding Photos. Ever.

Even though much of the work here is wedding photography, it reads much more simply as love photography. Maybe Happy! Happy! Happy! photography, too. Whatever it some photographers have, Viet Duc Nguyen has it in abundance. The absolutely stunning locations get to feature as well, and it’s hard to imagine a more beautiful place for a wedding. Click on over and have a look, you won’t be disappointed. You will be busy for a while.

eyeem-87186465

© Viet Duc Nguyen.

 

© Viet Duc Nguyen.

© Viet Duc Nguyen.

Viet Duc Nguyen.

Helen Chavez has walked on.

Helen and Cesar Chavez with six of their eight children in 1969 at the United Farm Workers’ “Forty Acres” property outside Delano. Standing from left are Anna, Eloise and Sylvia. Seated from left are Paul, Elizabeth and Anthony. (United Farm Workers)

Helen and Cesar Chavez with six of their eight children in 1969 at the United Farm Workers’ “Forty Acres” property outside Delano. Standing from left are Anna, Eloise and Sylvia. Seated from left are Paul, Elizabeth and Anthony. (United Farm Workers)

Helen Chavez, the widow of Cesar Chavez, who aided the farmworkers union her husband founded by keeping the books, walking the picket line and being arrested — all while raising their eight children — died Monday at a Bakersfield, Calif., hospital. She was 88.

A statement from the Cesar Chavez Foundation said she died of natural causes and was surrounded by family members.

Though notoriously reticent and uncomfortable with media attention, Chavez sometimes found herself in the spotlight alongside her husband, who led the United Farm Workers of America for 31 years. In 1978 she was arrested and convicted with her husband for picketing a cantaloupe field where workers were represented by the Teamsters Union.

Yet at the height of the movement, she remained in her husband’s shadow. She seemed to push past nervousness whenever she spoke publicly. “I want to see justice for the farmworkers,” she told a reporter for the Los Angeles Times in 1976. “I was a farmworker and I know what it is like to work in the fields.”

The Chavez’s were another major window for me, in early life. They helped me to see past my own privilege, and I was honoured to help work with and for their causes when I was a teenager. Goodbye, Helen, and thank you.

Full Story Here.

Norway Moves Ahead on Trans Rights.

A general view inside the Norwegian parliament in Oslo August 1, 2011. © 2011 Reuters

A general view inside the Norwegian parliament in Oslo August 1, 2011.
© 2011 Reuters

Thanks to a new healthcare law voted in by Norway’s Parliament yesterday, the country’s transgender people will be able to self-declare their appropriate legal gender. In the past, they needed to undergo compulsory psychiatric evaluations, diagnoses, and sterilization surgeries in order to be legally recognized as who they are.

The vote makes Norway only Europe’s fourth country to separate medical and legal processes for legally recognizing transgender people.

Already in Denmark, Ireland, and Malta (following a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights), transgender people can legally self-declare their own gender free of any medical assessment or procedures.

[…]

Norway’s new law was introduced in parliament by the Ministry of Health. Healthcare professionals have an important role providing affirmative care for transgender people, free from discrimination and to the highest standard possible. But the process for legal recognition of gender identity should be separate from any medical interventions.

Since the 1970s, Norway has required that the Oslo University Hospital certify to the Norwegian Tax Administration that a “real sex conversion” – based on surgeries and psychiatric evaluations – had taken place. This subjected transgender Norwegians to a bureaucratic nightmare while simultaneously stripping them of their autonomy.

Forty-one states in Europe have legal gender recognition provisions in place. Thirty-five of them require a psychiatric diagnosis to obtain recognition. Twenty-four require sterilisation before recognizing gender identity.

Legal gender recognition has been gaining global momentum as governments start to uphold their commitment to the core idea that the state or other actors will not decide for people who they are.

Countries like Norway are charting a path others should follow. This basic legal dignity cannot come a moment too soon for a minority that shoulders a disproportionate burden of violence, discrimination, and negative health consequences often stemming from the lack of recognition before the law.

Kyle Knight has the Full Story.

23.

Nineteen days after taking office, Benjamin Harrison signed a proclamation opening Indian Territory in Oklahoma to settlers.

Nineteen days after taking office, Benjamin Harrison signed a proclamation opening Indian Territory in Oklahoma to settlers.

Nineteen days after taking office, Benjamin Harrison signed a proclamation opening Indian Territory in Oklahoma to settlers.

The March 23, 1889 proclamation made 1.9 million acres of “unassigned lands” available to white settlers and kicked off one of the most chaotic chapters in American history. At high noon on April 22, a gunshot rang out and an estimated 50,000 settlers crossed into the territory by wagon, horseback, bicycle, train or foot and claimed all the available land before nightfall.

The Oklahoma Land Run came on the heels of two acts signed by Harrison’s predecessor, President Grover Cleveland. The Dawes Act of 1887 authorized the President to divide Indian land into individual allotments and the Indian Appropriations Act of 1889 officially opened surplus or unassigned lands to white settlers.

Known for its “boomers,” settlers campaigning for the land to be opened, and “sooners,” those who illegally entered the territory ahead of time, the land rush has become an iconic era in the history of the West. Thousands of Americans gained new hope as they claimed 160-acre parcels and the opportunity that came with land ownership.

But the rush also set the tone for Harrison’s presidency, which was marked by similar land grabs and last-ditch efforts by Indians to hold on to their territory.

During Harrison’s four years in office, six states were admitted to the Union, including four during his first year alone: North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington and Montana. Idaho and Wyoming were admitted in 1890.

Harrison also forced the Sioux Nation in the Dakotas to divide into separate reservations and relinquish 11 million acres of land, and the Crow to give up 1.8 million acres of land for general settlement in Montana. As more Indians accepted land allotments, Harrison also opened to white settlers “surplus” lands acquired from the Cheyenne and Arapaho nations and the Sac and Fox.

[…]

Harrison was less inclined to preserve the lives and ways of living Indians. In his first message to Congress, in December 1889, Harrison called Indians an “ignorant and helpless people” whose best chance at survival was assimilation.

Reservations were generally surrounded by white settlements and the only way to manage the Indian was to “push him upward into the estate of self-supporting and responsible citizen,” he said. Adults should be located on farms and children should be enrolled in school.

“It is to be regretted that the policy of breaking up the tribal relation and of dealing with the Indian as an individual did not appear earlier in our legislation,” Harrison told Congress. “Large reservations held in common and the maintenance of the authority of the chiefs and headmen have deprived the individual of every incentive to the exercise of thrift, and the annuity has contributed an affirmative impulse toward a state of confirmed pauperism.”

Indians viewed these policies as campaigns to take their land, and some sought answers from spiritual sources. In the winter of 1889, a Paiute man named Wokova had a vision of the Creator and the dead of his nation. When he returned from the vision, Wokova encouraged his people to work hard and live peacefully with the white settlers, promising that “eventually they would be reunited with the dead in a world without death or sickness or old age,” Stephen Cornell wrote in his 1990 book, The Return of the Native: American Indian Political Resurgence.

Wovoka also brought back a ceremonial dance he said would bring about this transformation. Known as the Ghost Dance, the ceremony quickly spread to other tribes, including the Sioux at Pine Ridge, South Dakota. Burned by a legacy of broken promises, the Sioux adopted the Ghost Dance and “gave to the prophecies a hostile content: In their version, the whites were to be annihilated by a massive whirlwind,” Cornell wrote.

Government officials in Washington, fearing the ceremony could incite violence, sent military troops to Pine Ridge. Leaders of the Ghost Dance movement retreated to the reservation’s isolated northern boundary. In the early morning of December 15, 1890, agents surprised Chief Sitting Bull and tried to arrest him. When Sitting Bull resisted, agents shot him at close range, escalating tensions between the Sioux and the U.S. military.

On the morning of December 29, 1890, soldiers from the Seventh Cavalry perched on a hill above Wounded Knee Creek and shot unarmed men, women and children. An estimated 146 Sioux and 29 soldiers were killed in the infamous Wounded Knee Massacre, which marked the last time the U.S. militia systematically slaughtered Indians.

Harrison, who had a reputation as “the human iceberg,” took no responsibility for what happened at Wounded Knee. He honored the Seventh Cavalry for their distinguished service, and 20 soldiers later received the Medal of Honor for their part in the massacre.

In his third message to Congress, a year after the massacre, Harrison admitted that the Sioux had some “just complaints” stemming from the reduction of rations and the delay in receiving government services. But, Harrison said, “the Sioux tribes are naturally warlike and turbulent” and posed a threat to white settlers near the reservation. The “uprising” was handled with a militia that prioritized the “thorough protection” of the settlers and “of bringing the hostiles into subjection with the least possible loss of life.”

During his final year in office, Harrison commemorated the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s discovery of America. In a proclamation issued in July 1892, Harrison appointed October 21 as a general holiday set aside for citizens to “honor the discoverer and their appreciation of the four completed centuries of American life.”

Alysa Landry’s full column is here.

I don’t want to sound like a victim, but I’m a victim.

CS

Former Major League Baseball player Curt Schilling, who was recently fired from his ESPN analyst position for a transphobic Facebook post, joined conservative radio host Rick Wiles on his show on May 18, where he attacked ESPN and its parent company, Disney, claiming that his firing was just another case of white Christians being marginalized in America.

“I don’t want to sound like a victim because I’m not trying to sound like a victim but I think the only thing people now acknowledge publicly is that it’s okay to infringe upon or talk down on white Christians,” Schilling said.

“We all knew this was coming,” he continued. “The Scripture’s pretty clear on what’s gonna happen with us, to us, and about us in, you know, many parts of the Bible.”

[…]

“The only positive I’ve seen in this administration is the sale of firearms has gone through the roof in the last seven and a half years because law-abiding citizens are arming themselves to protect themselves from what feels to be every bit that the tyrannical government, the Second Amendment was created to protect us against,” Schilling said.

Wiles claimed that “the left is pushing us towards civil war and they don’t realize we have all the guns.”

“The left is pushing a civil war that they would never fight,” Schilling said. “They don’t have the guts to stand up.” He then claimed the left wants the government to fight in the civil war for them, as, unlike conservatives, “they want the government to do everything for them.”

Right Wing Watch has the full rant.

Stuart2012

Stuart Shepard. Family Policy Alliance.

Stuart Shepard, of Family Policy Alliance, descended into incoherence when trying to express how much transgender people are victimizing and oppressing all the normal humans.

Shepard claimed that transgender people reject the existence of a God who creates everyone with purpose in mind. “When you reject the idea of the ability to know what’s true, you’re essentially rejecting God,” he said. “You’re saying, ‘You put me in the wrong body,’ if you accept that there’s a God, or, ‘There can’t possibly be a God so none of this matters and everything is fluid and unknowable therefore.’”

[…]

Regarding the federal government’s protection of transgender individuals’ rights, Shepard said, “All of these, I mean every time you see it, they say, ‘Well, this is about discrimination.’ Well, their solution is to discriminate against all of us who don’t accept that point of view. It is a discriminatory act that they’re proposing, but they don’t even see it as that.”

He said of transgender people, “They just can’t get to that view of the world to realize that their own actions are discriminatory at the most private level possible, with the other humans that we share this country with.”

Ultimately, Shepard said, accepting transgender rights will undermine the traditional family structure and create chaos. “It comes down to this rejection of everything that’s come before, the idea of mom and dad and male and female and marriage or not married, about all of those things, they want to throw it all out,” he said. “…They want to bring us to a state, essentially of chaos where whatever you feel about anything is acceptable, and we all just think and feel the way that we do about everything, including the most foundational elements of culture and society: the family.”

“There is a deeper question here of, ‘What can we know is true if you can’t even know whether your child is a boy or a girl, what can you know?” Shepard said. “I mean, what’s left that is knowable? And that’s where we’ve gone. We’ve gone from an understanding of everything to be found through science to this understanding of, ‘Everything I know is what I feel. I feel this way. Therefore, it is. And you can have your own feelings and feel the way you do.’”

Hey, Stuart, about knowing the gender of your child? It’s pretty easy, you just listen to your child, they know what gender they are. There are good parents everywhere who could have clued you into that little bit of knowledge. As for this “understanding of everything to be found through science”, how did science get in the word salad? I thought this was all about god. You should stick with god, Stuart. You really wouldn’t like what science has to say about, well, pretty much everything.

Right Wing Watch has the full word salad.

Applied Bioethics…

Shutterstock. [The Right-minded people at College Fix couldn't bother with a credit.]

Shutterstock. [The right-minded people at College Fix couldn’t bother with a credit.]

Christian style. Oklahoma Wesleyan University is launching an applied bioethics certificate program this July that will train students in pro-life activism and pregnancy center management.

Equip yourself to answer pro-choice arguments compellingly and winsomely in any setting. Recognizing that an abstract approach to bioethics is insufficient, Oklahoma Wesleyan University is proud to be one of the few universities in the nation committed to equipping the next generation of life-affirming apologists, politicians, and pregnancy center executives.

“Applied Bioethics at OKWU is the most important pro-life training you will ever receive…I went from the frustration of finding myself flat-footed in conversations about abortion to being thoroughly equipped to winsomely answer arguments in ways that are life changing. Don’t pass up this opportunity to take your ministry to the next level and begin making abortion unthinkable in your community.” – Jody Ward (Project Manager, Women’s Care Center, Baltimore, MD)

Nationally recognized pro-life organizations are partnering with Oklahoma Wesleyan University to offer certifications in pro-life training and ministry essentials.

My emphasis there. Winsomely? I take this to mean they’re trying for a folksy Huckabee type of approach and argumentation. Perhaps they think they can simply charm people into a rabid anti-life position.

From the Right-Minded College Fix:

OKWU is also studying the “feasibility” of expanding the program into a full-blown bachelor’s degree that prepares students for “vocational work in pro-life apologetics, political consulting, or for an executive role” in pregnancy help centers and medical clinics, according to the program website.

I think someone doesn’t understand how quote marks work. I know that’s on the petty side, but it’s bothersome. Why is feasibility in scare quotes? Moving past that, this is on the seriously depressing side. Fake clinics already proliferate the landscape, and there are plenty of professional liars staffing them already. More are not needed, winsome or no.

While OKWU says applied-bioethics credits earned by students will be transferable, it’s still working out the details because the program is “in the very early stages,” England told The College Fix.

It ran a pilot session last summer after “a group of highly-respected pro-life voices put the curriculum together and began looking for a university to take the idea and run with it,” she added.

One of those voices was Scott Klusendorf, founder and president of the Life Training Institute. If Christian students want to simply keep their faith through college but not make a larger cultural impact, “then we are in trouble,” Klusendorf told The Fix in a phone interview. Students “need to be able to make a case for the pro-life view in one minute or less if necessary,” he said: “There is no major out there anywhere that is teaching people to do this.” Klusendorf teaches an ethics and abortion course that examines “the toughest critics of the pro-life view, the academic critics,” and equips students to answer their objections, he said.

If you can cope with it, there’s a 45 minute video of Klusendorf giving one of his talks in the UK at the site, along with Sribd documents describing the Ethics of Abortion online class. Apparently, Mr. Klusendorf can’t limit his arguments to one minute.