Jeffress in Jerusalem: Hyperbole is Insufficient

So, let me start by saying that I am conflicted and don’t know where I want this post to go: I’m just going to write a bit and explore what comes up.

Robert Jeffress, a man of truly horrible behavior, is a right-wing pastor that does not believe in freedom of religion. Today he gave a christian prayer as the celebrated invocation at the opening of the new US embassy to Israel in Jerusalem. He has also repeatedly insisted that all faithful Jews are going to hell. Now while he’s also condemned just about everyone else to hell, I want to focus on his antipathy towards Judaism for a moment.

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FOR FREUD’S SAKE, YOU GET TO DISCRIMINATE!

Thirdmill – who is not an idiot, but is wrong in this instance – has repeated a bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, fucked and wrong trope over on Pharyngula. This trope is repeated by idiots so much that eventually some reasonable people start to think that maybe they have a point, which is why the trope needs to get stomped on hard, though please don’t stomp on Thirdmill as a person, should you choose to comment.

The trope is this: when considering discrimination, we need to consider the genuinely held beliefs and permit room for people to adhere to their consciences when doing so does not directly harm another. This was in the context of a Pharyngula post about how in the 99 years after the civil war and before the federal government started butting in, the invisible hand of the free market had totally taken care of private sector segregation just fine, and that Title 7 thing was completely unnecessary and Heart of Atlanta is a load of crap. Because of course it was, this is Sam Harris’ opinion, remember?

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The Nature of Reality Denial

PZ has an excellent post up, which I hope you’ve seen already, regarding the hatred of the Catholic bishops. I want to call out a small piece of that larger statement here:

Children especially are harmed when they are told that they can “change” their sex or, further, given hormones that will affect their development and possibly render them infertile as adults.

If you read this as the bishops obviously intend you to read it, this portion of their statement says:

You can’t actually change your sex, so telling this to children is bad. Also, it’s even worse when you change the sex of another human being, particularly a child.

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Who Does He Think He Is? Harvey Weinstein?

Because I write a blog, I can subject you to any damn fool thing I want, and they only thing either of you can do, my readers, is to stop reading. But then who suffers, huh? Huh?

And thus, while strung out on painkillers trying to find the way to finish the rest of my move today, I am taking the opportunity to write for you about a story that is years old, and not one like the Tuskeegee Experiments, which might occasionally still have up-to-the-minute relevance, or the Tuskegee Airmen, who were fortunate, indeed, to be part of a segregated air force unit so they didn’t have to fight side-by-side with Gungans. (I’m telling you, it was a pretty close call, there.) No, it doesn’t even have anything to do with slavery.

It’s just not that important. And yet, it is the very quotidian nature of it that stuck with me. I keep thinking every so often that I should write about it, then don’t because it’s never important enough. Well, today, strung out on a bit less than the prescribed dose of my prescription painkiller, so obviously not competent to consent to keyboard, there is nothing to stop me. Today is the day you get to hear me talk about the everyday horror that is vagina.

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For Your Enjoyment: To Save the Life of the Slut

Sam Bee is at it again, chronicling the most recent house bill to abort scientific inquiring in the name of protecting unarmed fetuses everywhere. Although this bill ignores research on the neurological development of human fetuses in order to ban abortion after 20 weeks when the sense of pain is not developed until approximately 29 weeks*1 (according to some “doctor” who went to “medical school” or something), it is not as restrictive as some other legislation Republicans have proposed:

The bill makes a few token concessions to women. It allows exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the slut.

Have I mentioned how much I love Samantha Bee?

Nonetheless, there is at least one major bit of misinformation in Bee’s video. An interview by Melissa Harris-Perry of Dr. Willie Parker who gave us information on fetal neurological development includes a chyron featuring the statistic:

58% of women have abortions in their 20s.

Well, no. Of all abortions performed, 58% are performed upon women in their 20s. That’s a little different than saying that not only do 58% of women have abortions, but 58% of women had abortions just during their 20s.

If that MSNBC fail doesn’t turn you off of Samantha Bee for not doctoring the video before playing it, then you should truly enjoy her entire rant:

 

Happy Feminist Friday, everyone.


*1: for Republicans: 29 is actually a larger number than 20. That means it’s better. 99 is even larger. You’d be really manly if you banned abortion after 99 weeks. Why don’t you try that next time? I’m even sure you could find a scientist to say that kids can feel pain after 99 weeks of life. IF another Republican tries to out-man you, you could always propose banning abortion after 999 weeks – that will show them.

Competing Interests

I swear, I find it amazing that they even half know what they’re saying, but they do. They know exactly what they’re saying, and for some bizarre reason they think it speaks well of them and their religion.

Who am I babbling about, you wonder? After all, that statement might be true of any number of persons, maybe even all of us at different points in time. So who, given the human ability to spout nonsense with confidence, might have done so to such a degree that Crip Dyke would be moved to post? Shocker: it isn’t anyone from the Trump administration.

This time.

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Really, Christians? That’s what you want to go with?

The generation to whom the Christians’ bigwig directly spoke 2000 years ago will not pass away before the Most Momentous Day. Of course, they have all passed away, unless you want to believe that some god made a few of them immortal and commanded them to live in secret just so that this obviously wrong prophecy would turn out to be technically true. But if they’re immortal, then we can’t foresee a reasonable limit to the waiting for the end of days.

Wars and rumors of war will immediately precede the second coming of Jesus, the Rather Greasy. But wars are happening all the time, rumors of war even more often. So how is it that a good Christian theocrat is supposed to use these to establish a timeline?

The traditional methods have failed to establish the timing of the Battle of Megiddo Hill, AKA Battle of Ar Megiddo, AKA Battle of Armageddon.  Again and again “prophets” have told us that one day or another will be the last for the sinning sinners of sinland. And yet, again and again they have been proven wrong.

What’s a Christian in search of money got to do to lay down some impressive prophesying these days?

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Ed Brayton Will Have a Field Day With This

So, this cannot compare to The Greatest Political Scandal Ever, but in California, the leader of the Republican caucus of the State Assembly is having an affair with the former leader of the Republican Caucus of the State Assembly. Of course Chad Mayes, the current leader of the State Assembly Republican Caucus (hereinafter SARC), and Kristin Olsen, the former leader, are more-moral-than-thou types, and protect-marriage-from-the-sinning-sinners types to boot. Mayes’ father is a preacher, and Mayes himself graduated from Liberty University.

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Right Thing, Wrong Reason

It’s not that often that one person will say that another lacks a moral compass, or has a moral compass that points in the wrong direction, on the basis of a decision on which they agree.

However the case of Afghanistan’s competitors in the FIRST Global Challenge, an international robotics expo/competition is that rare basis for calling amoral someone with whom I agree. The Afghanistan team, apparently made up entirely of girls, had been denied visas two times already on the basis of the Trump travel ban. A third, last-minute denial would have crushed their dream to meet other roboticist and participate personally in the challenge (though there was a back-up plan where organizers would agree to operate the Afghani team’s robot while the team, like any non-participant, watched a video stream of their own creation). Trump was criticized by a broad spectrum of people familiar with the event, and after several weeks or months of that criticism met with his advisers and very quickly they settled on a course of action where the girls were denied that visa for a third and final time, but given notification that they would be admitted under parole.

Parole is a long-standing procedure that is used much less routinely these days than in times past. Essentially, it allows border control agents to admit a person without a valid visa when travelling to the US on a passport from a country that does not have a no-passport agreement with the States. It is of course still used – people forget their passports, get pickpocketed in airports, or what have you. Normally people are denied entry under those circumstances, but if you know the right people and can have the right calls made on your behalf, it is sometimes possible to be admitted anyway. This procedure can also be used in cases where a person’s status as an asylum claimant is not certain, but turning the person away might result in risk or otherwise be an undesirable course of action. As I (imperfectly) understand how the system is used, it is very rare to be given notice in advance that you will be allowed entry on parole (rather than having that status be in doubt until you are physically present at a border entry point).

But Trump was in a quandary: if he issued visas, then he would be undermining his own policy, currently waiting for review by SCOTUS. How is it possible to insist that this really is a blanket, neutral policy and yet issue these visas? It seems especially dangerous if these Afghanis were described in the way that we are more used to seeing muslims attempting to enter the US described:

Amateur electronic engineers with a collection of circuits, gears, and structural and other elements that could be assembled to serve any number of purposes sought entry to the United States today despite lacking the proper visas. Officials said that they had determined these muslims taken to soldering together unknown devices were intending to travel to Washington DC where they would gather with others with similar skills at a location within walking distance of the White House, the Supreme Court, Capital Hill, and other sensitive locations.

But despite fitting this description to a T, the girls were given advance parole. Why can I not give credit to Trump for admitting the Afghani team? It’s a simple case of right decision, desperately wrong reason. Trump wishes to escape political consequences for his policies’ affects on sympathetic subjects. But if there is truly a national security need to deny entry to all Afghanis, then Trump is putting his personal political convenience before national security.

I believe we all know that there is no such national security need, but Trump defends himself and his policies by pretending one exists. It simply is not possible that Trump actually has a working moral compass and either

  1. Maintains a discriminatory policy without believing that there is a valid national security reason for that policy.
  2. Exempts certain persons on a case-by-case basis, even when they have technical skills that are frequently painted as dangerous by the administration, while believing that there is a valid national security reason to maintain their policy.

These are mutually exclusive and fully comprehensive possibilities. Either the ban is needed or it’s not. If not, the ban is immoral. If it is, then admitting persons who constitute a national security risk is immoral.

And this is all before we get to the fact that sexism likely plays a role in the Trump administration’s assessment that the team should be given entry parole.

Donald Trump is immoral. It’s nice to have it laid out so simply for all to see.