The Watering Hole; Thursday June 23 2016; Radical (American) Christian Extremism/Radicalism

It’s common knowledge these days that the words “radical Islamic extremism/terrorism” are spoken daily by Republicans even as more rational voices such as President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and most if not all Democrats, choose to not use those words on the inarguable basis that it is clearly WRONG to essentially castigate an entire religion — some 1.6 billion people, worldwide — when the perpetrators of ‘extremism’ and ‘terrorism’ are nothing but radical spinoffs: the few thousands who embrace the concept of radical extremism/terrorism.

Curiously, however, those same domestic voices that constantly (and sometimes horrifically) condemn the voices of all who disagree with them will invariably refuse to call out our (their?) own ‘Radical American _____ Extremists/terrorists”– those clusters of American citizens which have long proven themselves equally capable of spreading hate, fear, and even wanton mass murder. Why is that? Death by AR-15 gunfire is the same no matter who pulls the trigger, is it not? And those who use hate and fear to describe a particular entity — race, religion, national origin, LGBT, gender, abortion providers, to name but a few — seem to NEVER stoop to calling perpetrators “radical,” or “extremists,” or even, in the aftermath of mass murder, “terrorists.” Why is that?

A closer look at events of just the last few days brings forth several examples of what is, one might think,  clearly definable as Radical American Christian Extremism (presented sans unnecessary comment):

Family Research Council Tries To Stop Bill Helping Vets Access Fertility Services

The Family Research Council, which routinely maligns gay military service members, is now attacking a bill to make it easier for veterans to access fertility services if they have been wounded in combat, claiming that it undermines “pro-life” principles.

Falwell: ‘Every Terrorist In The World Will Crawl Under A Rock’ When Trump Becomes President

Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr. hailed Donald Trump as a “bold and fearless leader” ready to fight America’s enemies and bad trade partners.

Falwell, speaking at the Religious Right meeting with the presumptive GOP nominee, said that just as Ronald Reagan freed the hostages in Iran upon taking office (he didn’t), Trump will similarly scare terrorism out of existence: “In my opinion, the day after Trump becomes president, every terrorist in the world will crawl under a rock in similar fashion.”

Donald Trump Taps Michele Bachmann, James Dobson & Other Far-Right Leaders For Advisory Board

[Trump said] “We can’t be politically correct and say we pray for all of our leaders because all of your leaders are selling Christianity down the tubes, selling the evangelicals down the tubes, and it’s a very, very bad thing that’s happening.”

Pat Robertson: God Will Punish Us For Satanic Abortion Rights

[Pat] Robertson said that “we have to look at the spiritual roots” of abortion rights, blaming the right to abortion on Satan: “The enemy of our soul is Satan and he hates people, he hates human beings, and the idea is if humans can kill other humans, the devil wants to do everything to help it.”

Bryan Fischer: Democratic Gun Control Efforts Are ‘Exactly How Satan Works’

[Bryan] Fischer said that Democrats are lying when they claim that they are trying to protect Americans because what they really want to do is allow government bureaucrats to take away constitutional rights and destroy the Second Amendment.

“That’s exactly how Satan works,” Fischer said. “That’s how he deceives us. He never tells us, ‘Look, if you do this thing I’m dangling in front of you, it’ll destroy you.’ He never says that because he knows we wouldn’t go for it.”

“And that’s what the left is trying to do with this ‘no fly, no buy’ thing,” he said. “It’s just Satan — I’m not accusing them of being Satan, but this is how Satan works; [he] tries to get us to take a bite out of the apple without realizing the consequences of what we’re doing.”

Next, a pair of examples that seem to demonstrate an evolving Radical American  Christian Terrorism (again sans comment):

Oklahoma Lawmaker Shares Article Arguing Islam Isn’t A Religion, Calls For ‘Final Solution’

On Sunday, Oklahoma State Rep. Pat Ownbey re-published an article to his Facebook page entitled “Radical Islam – The Final Solution.” The article was originally published on the personal blog of Paul R. Hollrah, an Oklahoman who touts himself as a “retired government relations executive,” but Ownbey appears to have copy-pasted the piece and reposted it in its entirety, citing Hollrah.

Pat Ownbey

on Sunday

Radical Islam – the Final Solution

by Paul R. Hollrah
June 18, 2016 … See More

. . . the article Ownbey shared purports that in light of the recent massacre of 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando by an ISIS-affiliated shooter, Islam should no longer be categorized as a religion in the United States — or in any western nation.

[. . .]

“…if we in the west are to protect our children and grandchildren from the horrors of a worldwide Islamic caliphate, we must first dispense with the cruel fiction that Islam is just another religious denomination, subject to all of the legal protections afforded legitimate religious sects,” Hollrah argues. “Islam is not a religion, subject to First Amendment protections, as we in western cultures understand the term. Rather, it is a complete political, legal, economic, military, social, and cultural system with a religious component.”

[. . .]

“Look at your dollar bill,” Ownbey told local news station KXII-TV. “It says In God We Trust.”

Donald Trump Courts Activist Who Wants Abortion Providers Put To Death

[Troy Newman] and [Cheryl] Sullenger once wrote at length about why it is a government responsibility to execute abortion providers:

“In addition to our personal guilt in abortion, the United States government has abrogated its responsibility to properly deal with the blood-guilty. This responsibility rightly involves executing convicted murderers, including abortionists, for their crimes in order to expunge bloodguilt from the land and people.

[. . .]

“Rejecting that innocent blood is to reject the only standard that is effective against innocent bloodshed, excluding the lawful execution of the murderers, which is commanded by God in Scripture.”

Clearly, Radical Extremism and Radical Terrorism are NOT, as so many would have us believe, part and parcel solely of Islam. We here in “the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave” don’t appear to differ much from the rest of the world as far as production of radical thugs is concerned. But we are different — we refuse to use the same epithets with which we brand others, to brand ourselves. Here, the words “Black Lives Matter,” or “illegal (‘Hispanic’) immigrants,” or ‘Syrian refugees’ are likely to bring forth far more vicious vitriol than are any of our OWN home grown offenders (as quoted or referred to above), i.e. those who hate and detest LGBT people, or gay marriage, or reproductive rights, or abortion rights, or anyone who stands forth as being ‘ungodly’ in the Christian sense of the word. Why is that?

Now don’t get me wrong — I am in no way advocating that we expand the vitriol to include everyone with whom we might disagree. My personal choice remains as it always has been, to simply speak of things as they genuinely are, and NOT in the process paint with a wide brush, thereby denigrating the vast majority who do not deserve any sort of denigration. If I should choose to use, for example, the words “Radical American Christian Extremist/Terrorist,” I would use them only to describe an individual, maybe a small group — but never to describe the entire of the nation’s Christian population. Anyone who chooses to paint with that particular-sized brush would be no better than, say, our current crop of Republican politicos and their loyalists.

That’s a depth to which I will not sink. So when I say Trump is a sleazy lying racist bigot fascist wannabe, I’m speaking only of one individual, not everyone on the planet whose name might happen to be Trump. And for all of those noted and quoted in the above links, the words ‘Radical American Christian Extremists/Terrorists’ apply only to each, as indicated, and never to all Christians everywhere. Never.

But I do remain puzzled: Why the disparity? Why do some choose to insult or vilify everyone everywhere who might answer to a particular label? What is to be gained? And why are those who practice that sort of universal vitriol not called out and resolutely vilified by this country’s so-called ‘Free Press’? The Press does have that guaranteed right, after all, the judicious use of which might well elevate the level of political dialogue to currently unimaginable levels.

I miss Edward R. Murrow, that much is certain.

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, Saturday, April 2nd, 2016: A Little Humor

I’ll start with the first of two jokes which one of my co-workers sent me; the second of the two will be at the end. That way we can begin and end with a smile. (Okay, there’ll be humor in the middle, too.)

“A Lexus mechanic was removing a cylinder head from the motor of a LS460 when he spotted a well-known cardiologist in his shop. The cardiologist was there waiting for the service manager to come and take a look at his car when the mechanic shouted across the garage, “Hey Doc, want to take a look at this?” The cardiologist, a bit surprised walked over to where the mechanic was working.

The mechanic straightened up, wiped his hands on a rag and asked, “So Doc, look at this engine. I opened its heart, took the valves out, repaired or replaced anything damaged, and then put everything back in, and when I finished, it worked just like new. So how is it that I make $48,000 a year and you make $1.7M when you and I are doing basically the same work? The cardiologist paused, leaned over, and then whispered to the mechanic. “Try doing it with the engine running.””

Next, a whole bunch of political stuff from a recent Washington Post newsletter called “The Daily Trail”, including but not limited to:

-poll numbers indicating how ‘yugely’ unpopular Donald Trump is among women and other demographics;
-Trump + Reince Priebus = GOP Party Loyalty?
-Ted Cruz pulls out RNC rule book in anti-Kasich move;
-Superpac for Kasich responds with weird Pinocchio-themed anti-Cruz ad (created by the same guy who made what was called the “Demon Sheep” ad.)
-initial Electoral College projections from the University of Virginia show some good news for Democrats;
-will candidates never learn how to eat a slice of New York pizza in a New York pizzeria in the traditional New York manner? (Jon Stewart, I hope you’re not following ANY of this, please, it’s not good for your blood pressure!)
-and more!

Also from the Washington Post, an ‘April Fools’ story (okay, I’m a day behind) about two college professors who “gave up the fight to convince Americans that Africa is not, in fact, a country.”

And now the second of the two jokes:

“While the IRS agent was checking the books he turned to the CFO of the hospital and said, “I notice you buy a lot of bandages. What do you do with the end of the roll when there’s too little left to be of any use? “Good question,” noted the CFO. “We save them up and send them back to the bandage company and every now and then they send us a free box of bandages. “Oh,” replied the auditor, somewhat disappointed that his unusual question had a practical answer.

But on he went, in his obnoxious way. “What about all these plaster purchases? What do you do with what’s left over after setting a cast on a patient? “Ah, yes,” replied the CFO, realizing that the inspector was trying to trap him with an unanswerable question. “We save it and send it back to the manufacturer, and every now and then they send us a free package of plaster.

“I see,” replied the auditor, thinking hard about how he could fluster the know-it-all CFO. “Well,” he went on, “What do you do with all the leftover foreskins from the circumcisions you perform?” Here, too, we do not waste,” answered the CFO. “What we do is save all the little foreskins and send them to the IRS Office, and about once a year they send us a complete dick.” [rim shot]

This is our daily Open Thread – enjoy yourselves!

The Watering Hole, Tuesday March 1, 2016 – Super Tuesday

We interrupt our regular programs to bring you up to the minute commentary by posters of this blog on the Super Tuesday primary event. As a way of introduction and background, here is a snippet from Raw Story:

Democrat Hillary Clinton aims to build an impregnable lead on “Super Tuesday,” the most consequential day of the presidential nominations calendar, while Republicans struggle to derail their insurgent and controversial front-runner Donald Trump.

With barely 24 hours before the big day, Clinton and Trump are well positioned to secure the lion’s share of the delegate bonanza in the 11 states voting in each party’s primaries.

Trump and Hillary? Let the voters decide.

Follow the money (per NBC News):

 

 

 

Sunday Roast: Antonin Scalia is no more*

Via RawStory (various headlines):

“On behalf of the court and retired justices, I am saddened to report that our colleague Justice Antonin Scalia has passed away,” Chief Justice John Roberts said in a statement on Saturday, calling Scalia, 79, an “extraordinary individual and jurist.”

My dear old Mom always said, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”  So here’s me sitting quietly…

Here’s how Antonin Scalia’s death changes the balance of the court and alters the 2016 presidential race.

Minutes after Scalia’s death right-wingers seek to block nominee Obama hasn’t even appointed yet.

Obama speaks about passing of Supreme Court Justice Scalia.  Our President is such a kind man…

Jon Stewart shreds Scalia’s marriage-equality dissent:  “He had no problem telling voters to ‘f*ck off’ in Citizens United.  Feel the Bern…

And finally, this apropo headline from The Onion:

Justice Scalia Dead Following 30-Year Battle With Social Progress

*HT to John Cleese in Monty Python’s “Dead Parrot” sketch for the headline of this post.

This is our daily open thread — Leave your thoughts in the comments section, while I sit here quietly.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, February 6, 2016: Stumbling Bloc

When catching up on recent political issues yesterday (after having been focused a bit too much on that goddamned Bundy clan and their terrorist cohorts), I ran across this piece on ThinkProgress about the House “Freedom” Caucus. One of my first thoughts while reading it was “the term  ‘Freedom’ has absolutely no connection with the group’s raison d’etre“; after reading it, I grokked that ‘raison’ – reason – didn’t enter into the equation either. An excerpt:

[House Speaker Paul] Ryan spoke about the divisions in the Republican Party at a policy forum hosted by Heritage Action in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, pointing to groups within the party which demand things that are unachievable and refuse to work across the aisle in any way.
“When voices in the conservative movement demand things that they know we can’t achieve with a Democrat in the White House, all that does is depress our base and in turn help Democrats stay in the White House,” Ryan said. “We can’t do that anymore.”

Just a few hours later, four members of the roughly 40-person House Freedom Caucus, a faction of hardline Republicans, said that they will not work with the president and that realism and compromise will cause Republicans to lose elections.

Freedom Caucus member Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) directly addressed Ryan’s comments, saying that the measures the Speaker thinks are “unachievable” are actually just practical, “small things.”

“On the omnibus, the big spending legislation that happened at the end of last calendar year, our group went to leadership and we asked for a couple small things,” he said. “We said do something on this pro-life issue — after all we have this organization that gets your tax dollars and does all kinds of disgusting things. We said it doesn’t have to be defunded completely, but let’s just do something that’s going to protect the sanctity of life.”

According to a Roll Call piece from September 10th, 2015:

“The House Freedom Caucus has spoken.
On Thursday, the conservative HFC took their seventh official position: They will oppose any spending bill that doesn’t defund Planned Parenthood.

“Given the appalling revelations surrounding Planned Parenthood, we cannot in good moral conscience vote to send taxpayer money to this organization while still fulfilling our duty to represent our constituents. We must therefore oppose any spending measure that contains funding for Planned Parenthood.”

Apparently Rep. Jordan and his group are unaware – or willfully ignorant – of the fact that every investigation into the alleged “disgusting things” Planned Parenthood has been wrongfully accused of have found absolutely no evidence to back up those allegations. FFS, even Texas, after exonerating PP, is now prosecuting the criminals who produced the doctored video “proof” that Planned Parenthood was ‘selling baby parts for fun and profit.’ We all know that Texas HATES Planned Parenthood, so one would think that the turn of events there would give the Caucus pause. But, again, ‘reason’ doesn’t seem to enter into the collective mind of the Freedumb Caucus. But I digress…

The ThinkProgress excerpt continues:

“Another “small thing” Jordan pointed to was a request that legislation to reject Syrian refugees be tucked inside the must-pass omnibus spending measure. The bill would have temporarily halted Obama’s plan to bring roughly 10,000 refugees to the United States because of the persistent threats they face in Syria…
…Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) also implied Wednesday that he is not willing to compromise with others in his party, let alone with Democrats. He said that while he knows he has to be realistic with his expectations, “when you have the will of the people and their voice behind you, it’s amazing what you can accomplish.”

I love the way these (in reality) extreme policy shifts are described as “small things.” And it’s particularly ironic that what the House Freedom Caucus considers to be “small things”, which Speaker Ryan called “unrealistic”, are the same things that the current Republican Presidential candidates are running their campaigns on: overturning Roe v Wade, immigration – along with their favorite hopeless cause, repealing Obamacare. Yes, they’re still wasting time trying to overturn Obamacare, now for the 63rd time. I guess that the Repubican’s motto is “if at first you don’t succeed, keep trying and the hell with real governing.”

Pew Research has an interesting piece from October of 2015 on Congress’s “Freedom Caucus.” Here’s a snippet that I found insightful:

“…the Freedom Caucus does not officially disclose who belongs to it (aside from its nine founding members)[**], though various unofficial lists have circulated. Membership is by invitation only, and meetings are not public.”
What most distinguishes the Freedom Caucus from other House Republicans has been their willingness to defy the wishes of leadership…and to band together with like-minded Republicans who threaten to block any temporary measure to fund the government that didn’t also defund Planned Parenthood.”

**Congressman Matt Salmon (R-AZ) issued a “press release” on January 26th, 2015, announcing the formation of the House Freedom Caucus and its mission statement:

“The House Freedom Caucus gives a voice to countless Americans who feel that Washington does not represent them. We support open, accountable and limited government, the Constitution and the rule of law, and policies that promote the liberty, safety and prosperity of all Americans.
The HFC’s founding members are Rep. Scott Garrett, Rep. Jim Jordan, Rep. John Fleming, Rep. Matt Salmon, Rep. Justin Amash, Rep. Raúl Labrador, Rep. Mick Mulvaney, Rep. Ron DeSantis and Rep. Mark Meadows.”

Along with another 30-odd (very odd!) hard-right Republicans who joined the HFC, after John Boehner decided to give up the position (I suspect mainly so that he could just go home and get drunk,) this small bloc of ultra-conservatives nearly derailed their own party’s contest for the House Speakership by issuing a list of demands questions for Speaker hopefuls. A couple of their “questions” include:

“Would you ensure that the House-passed appropriations bill do not contain funding for Planned Parenthood, unconstitutional amnesty, the Iran deal, and Obamacare?”

~ and ~

“Would you commit to impeach IRS commissioner John Koskisen and pressure the Senate to take it up?”

So they also still believe that the IRS was unfairly targeting conservative groups, despite investigations showing that both religious-right AND non-religious left tax-exempt organizations were audited by the IRS? Paul Ryan is right, they DO need to be “realistic.”

This “freedumb” caucus apparently has zero interest in actual freedom, or governing, or anything beyond their own pseudo-christian-induced tunnel vision. And they’re more than happy to not only fuck with their own party, they’re delighted to fuck with the entire country. As many parents have said to erring children, “This is why we can’t have nice things.”

This is our daily Open Thread–have at it!

The Watering Hole, Monday, January 25th, 2016: All-“Christian” Edition

Today’s offerings are from two sites whose only thing in common seems to be that they both have the word “Christian” in their names.

First, let’s look at a few things from the Christian Post website (the more ‘persecuted-RW-Christian’ site.)

The Christian Post has sent the 2016 Presidential candidates a list of 12 questions which they feel are most important for the candidates to answer. So far, only two Republican candidates, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina, have responded.

Here’s Ben Carson’s responses, a few of which I’d like to comment upon:

2. What is marriage, and what should be the government’s interest and role in marriage?
Like many Christians, I believe that marriage is a union between one man and one woman in the witness of God. The government’s interest and role in marriage should be to protect and sanctify this institution[emphasis mine] because it is the cornerstone of our society. Raising families with two parents is key to a child’s development, and marriage is a strong institution that solidifies this crucial social structure. Marriage combines the efforts of two people to provide for and raise children, and gives children two parental figures to love and care for them.

Okay – First, define “sanctify”. According to Wikipedia:

“Sanctification is the act or process of acquiring sanctity, of being made or becoming holy.[1] “Sanctity” is an ancient concept widespread among religions. It is a gift given through the power of God to a person or thing which is then considered sacred or set apart in an official capacity within the religion, in general anything from a temple, to vessels, to days of the week, to a human believer who willingly accepts this gift can be sanctified. To sanctify is to literally “set apart for particular use in a special purpose or work and to make holy or sacred.”

So Carson believes that the U.S. Government has role in every citizen’s marriage, and that role is to make it “holy or sacred”? Does that make the U.S. Government a god?   Doesn’t that conflict with the Establishment Clause?  If Ben Carson believes that marriage is such a strong institution, why not rail against divorce? Christians get divorced at the same – or higher – rate as any other group, not to mention that divorce is said to be a big sin in the eyes of Jesus. If Jesus thought divorce was so wrong, but didn’t mention homosexuality, why can’t the “key” two-parents-must-raise-a-child be in a same-sex marriage?

10. What are your priorities related to both protecting the nation’s natural resources and using those resources to provide for the nation’s energy needs?

Energy is the life-blood that keeps our economy growing. It fuels the tractors that plow America’s fields. It powers the trucks, trains and planes that deliver American products. And it drives the American people in their everyday lives. If we want to return America to its former prosperity, we need to ensure that America’s energy grid is not only reliable, but affordable. That means looking into all potential energy sources to find the most efficient, most effective and more reliable energy grid possible.

We can’t afford to mandate unrealistic fuel standards or price-inflating renewable mandates. But as these energy sources compete head to head, technological advancements and innovations will help drop costs and raise efficiencies even further.

[and the money quote]

When it comes to the environment, we should be good stewards of God’s resources, but the best way to do that is through market-based mechanisms and private efforts, not via government edicts that destroy businesses and intrude into citizens’ lives.

Yeah, because I’m sure that “God” was thinking of “market-based mechanisms and private efforts” when he told mankind to be good stewards of Earth. And wasn’t Carson just talking about how “government” should have an “interest” and “a role” in a couple’s marriage, i.e., “intrud[ing] into citizens’ lives”, and very personally, I might add? But the “government” shouldn’t be involved in determining how the entire country uses its natural resources, because that would “intrud[e] into citizens’ lives”?  Carson has very mixed, and incorrect, notions of what government’s priorities should be.

12. What caused the Great Recession, and what should be done to ensure it doesn’t happen again?

A number of factors contributed to the global financial crisis, but what became clear was that when bankers engaged in highly leveraged financial bets, ordinary taxpayers ended up footing the bill for the big banks’ bailouts.

I believe that certain types of regulations are reasonable for regulating financial markets. For instance, Glass-Steagall was a reasonable piece of legislation after the 1929 stock market crash, and perhaps should be re-imposed in a modified form.

This does not mean that the regulations imposed after the financial crisis were appropriate. In fact, Dodd-Frank is a monstrosity that does not address the root cause of the crisis, imposes heavy burdens on community banks, severely limits the freedom of financial institution to engage in ordinary business and saps economic growth with restrictive government controls.

I believe that when such government regulations choke economic growth, it is the poor and the middle class that are hurt the most.

Carson (or whoever wrote his ‘responses’ for him) must have just skimmed the “U.S. Economic History, Late 20th – Early 21st Century” Cliff Notes(TM), latching on to just enough topical buzzwords and meaningless phrases to put together a few sentences. Too many points there to elaborate on, I’ll let you all pick them apart if you wish.

And here’s Carly Fiorina’s responses. I’m just going to comment on one of them.

10. What are your priorities related to both protecting the nation’s natural resources and using those resources to provide for the nation’s energy needs?

Fiorina: As president, I will ensure that the United States is the global energy powerhouse of the 21st century.

That means reinstating the Keystone XL Pipeline that President Obama rejected. It also means rolling back the regulations from this administration that limit our ability to find resources by imposing regulations on hydraulic fracturing and our ability to be energy independent by regulating drilling on federal lands. As president, I will make America an energy leader through technology and innovation.

No, no, no! Fiorina is just so wrong, it’s hard to believe that she could possibly be serious. Keystone XL, fracking, and drilling, and on OUR federal lands, no less? How does one become an “energy leader through technology and innovation” while relying solely on finite, filthy fossil fuels? Aaarrgghhh!

Let’s turn to the Christian Science Monitor for a few things that are more reality-based and inspiring.

First, I’m sure that you’re all aware by now that Earth may have a new neighbor, as astronomers announced the possibility of a hidden ninth planet.

The evidence for the existence of this “Planet Nine” is indirect at the moment; computer models suggest a big, undiscovered world has shaped the strange orbits of multiple objects in the Kuiper Belt, the ring of icy bodies beyond Neptune.

Next, we can once again thank the Hubble telescope and NASA for showing us the amazing beauty of space, in this article about the Trumpler 14 star cluster. Just don’t let Donald Trump know about Trumpler 14, he’ll probably think that (a) the star cluster is named for him, and (b) therefore he owns it.
Trumpler 14Source: Hubblesite.org

And finally, for our Zookeeper, here’s an article discussing why the zebra has stripes. While it appears that the idea that the striping is for camouflage may be incorrect, there is still no consensus on a proven biological reason.
brown striped zebra

This is our daily Open Thread–discuss whatever you want.

The Watering Hole; Thursday December 31 2015; Gay Marriage, a Flashback

Fifteen years ago this last July, Vermont became the first state in the country to allow and accept civil unions as a legal entity, an arrangement which no doubt served as a prime motivator in the movement to ‘legalize’ gay marriage once and for all. Then this year — fifteen years almost to the day down the road — the Supreme Court ruled that Gay Marriage was legal everywhere and had to be accepted, at which time the vast bulk of the religious/evangelical right wing found itself in dire need of a diaper change. Apparently that’s what happens when secularists sneak in right under god’s nose and start the destruction of Amurka by being, you know, tolerant and stuff.

A couple of weeks ago, while taking a peek at some old floppy-disk backup files from way back when, I ran across the transcript of a chat room (email) “discussion” I’d had back in 2002 with, of all people, an Evangelical Christianista from, of all places, Vermont. He had responded to some things that I and a couple other fair-minded folks (screen names ‘Herb’ and ‘Gillian’) had previously written while discussing same-sex civil unions and marriage. The end result, I think, quite well presents the polar perspectives on the matter — ie. the hyper- vs the non- religious viewpoints — and the judgments that are implicit when the discussion’s principle religious motivator is the interpretation of a word or two — phrase maybe — from that bestselling fictional work some call The Bible.

What follows is the transcription of my own email response to that post written by “Jim in Vermont;” it wasn’t a ‘live’ discussion, obviously, so if “Jim in Vermont” had a response to anything I wrote, it would not show here. Still, the conversation is, I think, interesting and, if compared with current day viewpoints, it demonstrates that, indeed, some things NEVER change.

******

At 0151 PM 11/1/02 -0500, Jim in Vermont wrote:
DOGMATIC CHRISTIAN HORSE PUCKEY

Frugal wrote: “Not all of the dogmatic Christian horse puckey in the world is enough to logically condemn and warrant legal discrimination against that roughly ten percent of the earth’s human population which generally believes it had no choice in the matter of sexual preference but is condemned anyway. To maintain otherwise is to pretend that dogmatic bigotry represents the high moral ground.”

Who’s been talking about condemning homosexuals, Frugal? I know that I haven’t.

You might try this site, GodHatesFags. It pretty much answers your question.

If their sexual behavior condemns them, that’s God’s business, not mine.

Then further argument is basically moot, so why worry?

But if we are interested in sustaining civilization . . .

Oh, yes, now I see.

. . . I think that we should not give legal or moral sanction to any immoral behavior, including homosexual behavior.

I’m starting to lose count of the fallacies — have run out of fingers. “Sustaining civilization” is not an issue. Ten percent who do not reproduce do not doom society; they probably don’t even make a blip on the population increase scale. “Immoral behavior, including homosexual behavior” is a straw man argument; there is no basis other than Biblical upon which to ‘define’ homosexual behavior as “immoral”, and the Bible does not enjoy universal acceptance or privilege. Nor should it.

Is it begging the question to argue that homosexual behavior is immoral?

Of course it is. “Morality” is peripheral, not absolute; nor is it secularly mandated, far as I know. What was it the Scottish Bard wrote about Morality?

“Morality, thou deadly bane,
Thy tens o’ thousands thou hast slain
Vain is his hope, whase stay an’ trust is
In moral mercy, truth, and justice!”

Ah, yes. Thank you Robert.

I don’t see how. How can two mutually exclusive sexual behaviors
both be right?

“Mutually exclusive sexual behaviors”?? First of all, I don’t know what you mean by ‘both be right’, although I assume you’re referring to more than simply the procedural? In any case, and as far as I’m concerned, the only ‘right’ that’s on the table is the ‘right’ to equal treatment under secular law. Christian “law” (or whatever you choose to call it) may, in your view, apply, but it doesn’t – or certainly shouldn’t — be applied to the nation as a whole.

If homosexual coupling is “right,” it logically follows that its opposite (i.e., heterosexual marriage) is “wrong.”

Good grief. That one about takes the cake, so far at least. The most sophistic argument in several days, in fact. It’s also just plain silly.

Yet the former, if taken as the norm, would lead to the end of the human race . . .

It would only lead to the end of the race if it was the ONLY norm. As it stands, “it’s” the norm for only about ten percent of the population, and has little or no impact on population growth. (I think I probably said that already).

. . . while the latter, which has traditionally and universally been taken as the norm, has been the building block of civilization.

“Appeal to Tradition” fallacy — ‘the latter’ which has certainly at least been the cause of a globe grossly overpopulated with humans. If you want to call that a “building block” I guess I won’t quibble.

It is a perilous enterprise to abandon the norm in favor of an “anything goes” attitude towards human sexuality.

There is no ‘norm’ being abandoned, Jim. No one is saying that you have to marry a man. The single issue is simply to extend the same legal rights to a homosexual relationship as a hetero relationship already enjoys. That’s ALL.

Social innovators – such as those who think that marriage should be redefined to include homosexual couplings – never know how close to the tap root of civilization they are hacking with their innovations. I see no reason to trust their judgment about human sexuality over the lessons taught by thousands of years of civilization.

Sophistry. There is no “innovation”, for BGate’s sake! The relationships already exist, have always existed, and will always exist.

The essence of my argument, Frugal, has been that abandoning moral standards (sexual or otherwise) in obedience to the zeitgeist of postmodern relativism is no way to perpetuate civilization.

“Appeal to fear” fallacy. And once again, you assume a single ‘governing’ morality which, if it exists at all, remains mixed in the same pot with all the other ‘moralities’. Because the Bible says something does not make it a universal standard except in opinion.

Homosexuality (the sexual preference) may not be a conscious choice, but homosexual behavior (acting on the preference) is.

Really? And that particular “behavior” is somehow your business? Jim, you’re wandering further and further into the realms of sophistic hyperbole.

Recognizing that does not obligate us to pass laws against homosexual behavior, but neither does it obligate us to pass laws granting homosexual couplings legitimacy on a par with heterosexual marriages.

You’re right, it doesn’t obligate either of those. The only obligation is to insist on legal fair play. Name one good reason why a homosexual partner should have any less right to accumulate and inherit an estate with his/her partner than you.

As Phillip Johnson wrote: “A rational society will be generous in recognizing exceptions, but it will emphatically define the norm around the values of the stable families that build the future.”

I don’t know who Phillip Johnson is, and I don’t necessarily disagree with that statement. What I do find disagreeable is the implicit pronouncement that a homosexual couple has less ‘values’ than any other couple, that they are any less interested in or capable of building the future. Not everyone begats, you know, thank all gods. Some heterosexual couples make the choice not to, some are biologically unable. And whatever shall we do with the sot who gets a vasectomy? Or the woman who undergoes a tubal ligation? Birth control? Should we relegate all of those ‘sinners’ to the same dirt pile as homosexual couples simply because they, too, violate “the norm around the values of the stable families that build the future” by not spinning off begats??

Homosexuality is viewed in different ways by different people . . .

By golly, we finally agree on something! Let me take a brief respite and
‘carpe momentum’ (or however the Latin works there).

. . . but it is most emphatically NOT the norm that builds the future. In a rational society, then, the definition of the norm (i.e., monogamous heterosexual marriage) should not be changed to accommodate homosexual relationships – which is the goal of homosexual activists.

That was, indeed, a brief respite. There you go again with your standard “Appeal to Fear” fallacy. Who has suggested that the “definition of the norm (i.e., monogamous heterosexual marriage)” be changed in any way? It doesn’t have to be changed to accommodate homosexual relationships, they already exist. The “definition of the norm” might come into play if the proposition on the table were to put the shoe on the other foot and allow full legal benefit to homosexual ‘marriage’ only and to take it away from heterosexual couples, but last I looked that had not been suggested. As Burns noted:

O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us,
an’ foolish notion
What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us,
an’ ev’n devotion!

At any rate, Frugal, your characterization of the traditional Christian view that homosexual behavior is immoral as “dogmatic bigotry” is evidence of, well, dogmatic bigotry.

Well, yes, perhaps from the Christian point-of-view it could be so seen. I should note, however, that my ‘dogmatic bigotry’ has its basis in a phrase that goes something like this (from memory): “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Now I know as well as anyone that the DOI’s thesis statement is not legal basis or legal authority for anything, that it’s simply a statement of elevated understanding, of elevated purpose, and of elevated goal. And (especially) in that regard it stands as if a beacon of light when alongside the relative darkness which so often is poured forth from the Bible. Perhaps I’m not alone when I say that I care less about the “traditional Christian view that homosexual behavior is “immoral;” my concern is with the secular practice of denying a group of people a ‘right’ granted others, denied a few only because of that “traditional Christian view that homosexual behavior is immoral.” Ridiculous. And, in fact, not all Christian denominations believe in or preach that BS. Most are not, in fact and THANKFULLY!!! not of the fundamentalist and/or evangelical mold, and that fact sometimes is VERY comforting.

Frugal asked: “Have any of you Christians ever heard the word LOVE when used to describe interpersonal relationship?” Of course we have, Frugal. As Christ said, love is God’s “greatest commandment.” But we Christians have also listened to God’s descriptions of sinful (i.e., immoral) behavior and to His desire that we not condone sinful behavior – in our own lives or in the lives of others. Love does not grant us a license for immorality.

“Immorality” in your eyes, Jim. Somewhere I thought you said that was God’s business, not yours. Maybe I was mistaken. Jim, you can “listen to God” all you want — and if you’d just keep it all between yourself and whatever you envision “God” to be, no one would ever argue with you about it. But using your belief as a basis upon which to justify the denial of others a very simple ‘right’ is a bit much.

Your avoidance of the topic of Love between two people (regardless of gender) as opposed to ‘sex’ between two people (regardless of gender) has been noted, btw. I’m disappointed, but not surprised.

Meanwhile, the list of fallacies grows like Pinnochio’s nose.

Herb wrote: “Marriage is actually a contract. A contract that allows two people to live together and act as one financial entity.”

If that’s all that marriage means to you, Herb, then you’ll never understand the argument I’ve been making.

I’ll never understand the argument you’ve been making, Jim. The issue has nothing at all to do with what YOU might think marriage means, it has to do ONLY with, as Herb says, allowing “two people to live together and act as one [legal] financial entity.” How in the heck you can equate that simple premise with the demise of civilization is beyond me, but if civilization has truly sunk so low that it’s demise will be brought forth by that dot over that ‘i’, I guess it’s high time to demise away and start over.

As I’ve repeatedly explained, I think that homosexual marriages should not be legalized because doing so fosters the dangerous notion that all sexual relationships build for the future in equal measure. In my view, it is utterly foolhardy to redefine marriage to accommodate the sexual preferences of homosexuals. Let them have their sex, but don’t let them undermine the institution of marriage and the (dare I say it?) traditional family values that sustain civilization.

Let’s see. Appeal to Fear, Appeal to Belief, Appeal to Spite, Appeal to Emotion, Appeal to Common Practice, Appeal to Consequences of Belief, Appeal to Ridicule, Appeal to Popularity, Questionable Cause — have I missed any?

Do I believe in separation of church and state? Yes – in the sense that we should not have a theocracy and in the sense that the state should not interfere in religion. No – if separation means that religious beliefs have no place in deciding social policy. The First Amendment does not require people of faith to leave their faith behind when they enter the public arena.

Nor does it allow ‘them’ to overlay ‘their’ belief on others. “Congress shall make no law respecting establishment of religion . . .” about covers it, I think. We are a society based on secular law, not on religious law. Thank all gods.

If it did, the institution of slavery (to cite only one example) might still be alive – given that Christians, informed by their faith, were the leaders in ending that institution.

Of course, Christians, informed by that same faith, were pretty good at
participating as well. When was it that God decided slavery was evil, I wonder?

I doubt that Christ regards my defense of biblical morality as “bad.” He spoke at great length about the evils of sin – which made his mission to Earth necessary. Among other things, He said that “the things that come out of the heart…make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” (Matthew 15:18-19) Is there any doubt, given Christ’s full acceptance of “the Law,” that the phrase “sexual immorality” referred to the sexual sins (including homosexual behavior) described by “the Law?” Is there any doubt that Christ hates sin? Following Christ’s lead, I think that we are to love all people, but that we are to hate all sin.  I also have no doubt that Christ would not approve of those “who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality…” (Jude 14)

All of that is very nice, I’m sure. It’s also irrelevant, with its generally inferred but unspoken conclusions. “Appeals to the Consequences of a Belief” is probably close enough.

Gillian wrote: “…the problem is that some people are hate-filled.”

I quite agree. Given a choice between “hate-filled” and
“respectful” to describe the replies to my thoughts on the issue of
homosexuality, I think that a fair-minded reader would pick “hate-filled” as being the most apt. The problem with some people that you’ve identified has been repeatedly demonstrated on this very forum, and I’m not afraid to let the lurkers decide for themselves just whose writings have been filled with hateful vitriol.

Jim, I have to hand it to you. You have the most amazing gift of re-spinning the yarn that I’ve ever encountered.

Given a choice between “hate-filled” and “respectful” to describe the replies to my thoughts on the issue of homosexuality, I think that a fair-minded reader would pick “hate-filled” as being the most apt.

Or maybe rather than ‘hate-filled’ or ‘respectful’, how about calling it what it is — ‘a direct, no nonsense, no BS refutation of the assumed privilege of public meddling in private lives because the Bible so instructs’?? Whichever words you care to use, ‘it’ all comes down to one thing: the US legal system and canon of law and jurisprudence are NOT legally referent to the King James (or any other) version of the Bible; that notion is, in fact, specifically refuted by the very clear language of The Bill of Rights, Article I: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. . . .” Works for me.

******

So that was it, that’s where it apparently ended — thirteen years ago last month, at least. Problem is, ‘it’ is back in force now that the SCOTUS has ruled that homosexual marriage is legal in all states. I recently read where Ted Cruz’s daddy Rafael, in his new book titled ‘A Time For Action’ wrote, “. . . the recent Supreme Court ruling legalizing homosexual marriage is one of the biggest signs of our country’s moral degradation.” Apparently Rafael’s preferred method of solving that “problem” is to do all he can to see to the election of his son Ted as President. Some of us think differently, however. Meanwhile, I still gotta wonder — how come so many folks who profess to be ‘Christians’ and ‘driven by Love’ of others are so filled with so much hate and fear of everything in the world that’s not spoken highly of in their favorite fictional manuscript? I mean, what’s it to them, anyway?

If I should ever stumble upon the answer to that one, I promise I’ll post it here the same day. Don’t hold your breath, however; ain’t no margin in suffocating.

OPEN THREAD

Oh, and Feliz Año Nuevo!