In Defense of -Ismlessness

“Isms” in my opinion are not good. A person should not believe in an “ism”, he should believe in himself. I quote John Lennon: “I don’t believe in Beatles, I just believe in me.” Good point there. After all, he was the Walrus. I could be the Walrus. I’d still have to bum rides off of people.  – Ferris Bueller

I have struggled for some time with how to describe myself. I have finally concluded that no single “-Ism” defines me. If you want to know what I believe or what my stance is on a given issue, you are going to have to ask me.

Joe Flintham [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Flickr

I’m not interested in any ideology that doesn’t think lambs are cute.

Photo credit: Joe Flintham [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Flickr.


Texas AG Paxton under the Microscope

It seems fair to say that statewide Texas politicians of the Republican variety are having some legal troubles.

Some of them have led to full-blown legal proceedings, like former Governor Rick Perry’s pending criminal charge, the civil fine against Attorney General Ken Paxton from the Texas State Securities Board (for an incident that occurred before he was elected), and the criminal securities fraud complaint filed against AG Paxton by Texans for Public Justice (which goes before a grand jury soon).

Some have remained in the realm of allegations and suspicions, like current Governor Greg Abbott’s alleged misconduct with regard to the Texas Enterprise Fund when he was Attorney General. I’m not sure if any formal complaints are currently pending against Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick—which is not to say he hasn’t had complaints (PDF file) before—but he sure does know how to stir people up.

"SCOTUS Marriage Equality 2015 (Obergefell v. Hodges) - 26 June 2015" by Ted Eytan from Washington, DC, USA (SCOTUS Marriage Equality 2015 58151) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Most recently notorious, I’d say, is AG Paxton’s official opinion (PDF file here or here), issued on June 28, 2015 in response to a request from LG Patrick, regarding the U.S. Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges and the Fifth Circuit’s order affirming that ruling in De Leon v. Abbott. Continue reading


The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And, but for the interference with his arrangement, there would be no cause for such marriage. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.

Judge Leon M. Bazile (1965)
denying the motion of Richard and Mildred Loving to vacate their conviction for miscegenation

If Chief Justice Warren and his associates had known God’s word and had desired to do the Lord’s will, I am quite confident that the 1954 decision would never have been made. The facilities should be separate. When God has drawn the line of distinction, we should not attempt to cross that line.

Rev. Jerry Falwell
“Segregation or Integration: Which?” (1958) Continue reading


Pregnant Hands?

Here’s something a grown adult apparently said recently:

A Turkish televangelist has taken masturbation guilt to a whole new level that even puts the Catholic Church to shame.

Mücahid Cihad Han, a Muslim preacher, was fielding the questions of viewers on his television show this Sunday, when one distressed caller asked him about masturbation.

The caller said he that he keeps masturbating although he’s married, even doing the forbidden deed during the “Umrah,” which is the pilgrimage to Mecca performed by Muslims.

From the Hurriyet Daily News:

After repeating the question a few times, Han claimed that Islam strictly prohibits masturbation as a “haram” (forbidden) act. “Moreover, one hadith states that those who have sexual intercourse with their hands will find their hands pregnant in the afterlife, complaining against them to God over its rights,” he said, referring to what he claimed to be a saying of Prophet Muhammad.

[Emphasis added.]

Pregnant hands? I’m trying to give this guy the benefit of the doubt and ponder how that might even work, and, well, I’m going to get a bit crude here. Continue reading



So, here’s a thing that actually happened (h/t Jason):

Former Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN) predicted in a recent interview that President Barack Obama’s handling of the Middle East was a sign of the End Times and that Jesus Christ would soon return to Earth.

“If we actually turn our back on Israel as we have seen Barack Obama do today, if that happens then I think we will see a scale and a level of push back in the United States, negative consequences,” Bachmann told Understanding the Times radio host Jan Markell on Sunday. “I don’t know what they are, but I believe that the Bible is true. And believe what the Bible says is that our nation and the people of our nation will reap a whirlwind, and we could see economic disasters, natural disasters.”

Sometime I wonder if these folks think that heaven has a sign that’s like the “DEFCON” sign in WarGames. Every time conservative Christians enact one of the signs from Revelation, God has to lower the APOCCON (that’s “apocalypse condition,” obvs.) When it hits APOCCON 1, well, things will get interesting.


Choosing to Be Heterosexual

(It’s strange that I have to update a post before it actually publishes, but that’s what I get for writing a post on Wednesday and scheduling it to post on Thursday. The restaurant described below is apparently closing for a while until the hubbub dies down. I also haven’t ruled out that this is all some elaborate April Fool’s hoax.)

An Indiana pizza restaurant has become one of the first businesses to announce publicly that it supports the new state law that would allow it to refuse to provide pizza for a gay wedding (h/t Jen). This seems….unlikely to happen regardless of what Indiana law says….but then, I dont know anything about Indiana weddings. Maybe pizza catering is a thing.

A small-town pizza shop is saying they agree with Governor Pence and the signing of the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The O’Connor family, who owns Memories Pizza, says they have a right to believe in their religion and protect those ideals.

“If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no,” says Crystal O’Connor of Memories Pizza.

She and her family are standing firm in their beliefs.

The O’Connor’s have owned Memories Pizza in Walkerton for 9 years.

It’s a small-town business, with small-town ideals.

What, exactly, are “small-town ideals”?

They also have the audacity to insist that “We’re not discriminating against anyone, that’s just our belief and anyone has the right to believe in anything.”

Well, now I have some beliefs about you. Maybe it’s unfair, though, to single this business out. It’s probably too early to know just how many businesses are on board with this. I guess my point is that I don’t want my reader(s) to give this one business any excessive amount of shit on account of anything I said.

Anyway, I just keep coming back to this part:

“That lifestyle is something they choose. I choose to be heterosexual. They choose to be homosexual. Why should I be beat over the head to go along with something they choose?” says Kevin O’Connor.

I have a few thoughts here….

A. I didn’t “choose” to be heterosexual, and I feel fairly confident that most heterosexual people—of all political stripes—would agree with me on this, so WTF is this dude talking about?

B. Please, do go on, Mr. O’Connor. I feel like there’s an interesting story afoot….

C. At a minimum, I support “beat over the head” as an alternative to the ubiquitousrammed down our throats.”


What I’m Reading, March 4, 2015

Beyoncé as Gateway to Satan? The Long, Strange History of Conservative Christian Panic Over Satanism, Evan McMurry, AlterNet, February 27, 2015

Last week, a priest in Ireland blared a severe warning about a dark practice that was surreptitiously leading people to the “Kingdom of darkness” where “Satan and the fallen angels” waited to prey upon them.

What nefarious activity had so insidiously masked its agency of darkness? Yoga.


Spotting links between Satanism and yoga and Harry Potter is both the ridiculous result and the natural continuation of a decades-old practice of spying Satanism’s flag in the most innocuous segments of western culture, an evolving trend that functions as a map to the shifting class and gender anxieties beneath the culture wars.

What Christians Mean When They Use the Word “Atheist”, Neil Carter, Ex-Communications, February 19, 2015 Continue reading


What I’m Reading, February 24, 2015

The First Victims of the First Crusade, Susan Jacoby, New York Times, February 13, 2015

The message from the medieval past is that religious violence seldom limits itself to one target and expands to reach the maximum number of available victims.


Cultural ignoramuses portrayed President Obama’s references to the Crusades and the Inquisition at the recent National Prayer Breakfast as an excuse for Islamic terrorism, but the president’s allusions could and should have been used as an opportunity to reflect on the special damage inflicted in many historical contexts by warriors seeking conquest in the name of their god.


Thomas Asbridge, director of the Center for the Study of Islam and the West at the University of London, commented in this newspaper that “we have to be very careful about judging behavior in medieval times by current standards.”

This issue is better judged from the other side of the looking glass. What we actually see today is a standard of medieval behavior upheld by modern fanatics who, like the crusaders, seek both religious and political power through violent means. They offer a ghastly and ghostly reminder of what the Western world might look like had there never been religious reformations, the Enlightenment and, above all, the separation of church and state.

Unreconciled History: Why even victims don’t have the right to rewrite the past, Michael Kinsley, Slate, February 13, 2015 Continue reading


The Cake Will Be Bone-Shaped, I Assume

Pat Robertson is worried. In other news, the sky is blue.

But seriously, Pat Robertson is concerned about same-sex marriage. Again.

After a Washington state judge found on Wednesday that a Christian florist had violated the state’s anti-discrimination law by refusing to sell flower arrangements for a same-sex couple’s wedding, Robertson asserted that an “intelligent judge” would have ruled against the gay men.

“To say that some procedural anomaly in the statute overrides the fundamental religious freedoms of the people, it’s just crazy,” he insisted. “And I hope that the lawyers for this florist will appeal this thing to get into the federal courts.”

“But this is outrageous!” the conservative preacher continued. “To tell a florist that she’s got to provide flowers for a particular kind of wedding. What if somebody wanted to marry his dog? She’s got to have flowers for that? What if there’s a polygamous situation where a guy has five wives and he wants to have five ceremonies, and she’s going to be forced by the law to provide them flowers. I mean, this is crazy.”

[Emphasis added.] (h/t Alice)

My favorite part of this whole “marrying-your-dog” trope is that it gets the question backwards. If you really value liberty and freedom, the question should always be “why should this be illegal?”, not “Why should we as a society allow this?” (Yes, I’m paraphrasing Donna from “The West Wing.”) Continue reading


What I’m Reading, February 19, 2015

Blame the Muslims: how government and media stoke the fires of Islamophobia, Lindsey German, The Age of Blasphemy, February 12, 2015

Why are the approaches to different groups of terrorists so different? Part of the reason is racism: Muslims are portrayed as fanatics and extremists, caught in a clash of civilisations where the good guys are representatives of western civilisation while the bad guys are identified with backwardness, superstition and barbarity.

This dichotomy conveniently ignores western lack of civilisation, whether through two world wars and a holocaust or through the creation of empires which ruled over whole peoples – many of them the same who are being demonised here. It also ignores the record of Muslim culture historically.

There is one overwhelming reason why this happens however: the wars themselves. There is a refusal to link terrorism with the wars which have taken place over a decade and a half, and a refusal to see that one of their outcomes is a rise in Islamophobia.

There is a hideous symmetry in this: as the wars involving Britain and the US have become more mired in failure, so civil liberties have come under greater attack and the rise in Islamophobia has become more pronounced.

“The bills! The bills!”: A Japanese woman’s experience giving birth in the United States, Fran Wrigley, Rocket News 24, February 13, 2015 Continue reading