equality

Spiritual Warfare, Among Other Things

Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd speaks to the faithful in Columbus, Ohio, June 16, 2015. Floyd exhorted members to stand united against same-sex marriage and vows that he will never officiate a same-sex union. (Eric Albrecht/Columbus Dispatch via AP)

We may or may not have mentioned before something about bigots, victimhood, and insurrection.α

If I told you we could add the Southern Baptist Convention to the list, would you really be surprised?

Or, as Craig Schneider of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution explains:

Declaring “spiritual warfare” on gay marriage, thousands gathered here Tuesday for the annual Southern Baptist Convention and vowed that, no matter what the Supreme Court rules this month, they will never yield on the issue.

The Baptists acknowledged that the court seems likely to legalize same-sex marriage when it rules in the next two weeks, but leaders urged the faithful to stand fast and, indeed, lead the nation in opposition.

“We are in spiritual warfare,” said convention president Rev. Ronnie Floyd. “This is not a time for Southern Baptists to stand back.”

Floyd echoed a generally defiant tone among attendees, many of them pastors, who have faced increasing criticism for their belief that the Bible declares homosexuality a sin and limits marriage to a man and a woman. At a time when society is increasingly tolerant of same-sex unions, he said, Southern Baptists must stand by their views.

“This is not the time to retreat,” said Floyd, who leads Cross Church in Arkansas. “The alarm clock is going off around the world. Now is not the time to hit the snooze button.”

And it goes on. Fuel to the “wildfire of sexual revolution” that would “move it beyond all control”. At least Dr. Floyd is honest about the connection between sexuality and control. But this is also an attempt by Southern Baptists to paint themselves as victims of gross injustice:

Many of their congregants, sensing the shifting cultural climate on gay marriage, feel defensive and afraid to publicly state their views, wary of being cast as bigots or hate-mongers.

“We understand how fully unpopular our view is, and where the culture is on this issue,” said the Rev. Bryant Wright of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in East Cobb and a former convention president. “But we must stay true to God’s word.”

Wright acknowledged the difficulty of communicating that church members are not hateful or discriminatory against gays and lesbians, though Baptists do believe they are sinners. He noted that he preaches to teens who have sex outside of marriage, people who divorce, and those who commit adultery. He loves them and hopes they find their way, he said.

Let us be clear: When you are calling for warfare of any kind, spiritual or otherwise, in response to the fact that other people have human rights, there is not really any useful way to slip the question of bigotry; nor do people believe the claim that you are not hateful or discriminatory.

Really, that part seems pretty self-evident.

(more…)

Reality

Serrano, Piss Christ (detail)“The reality is that there are few if any places in the world where it is better to be Christian than the U.S., so pretending that being forced to abide by the constitution is somehow a “war” comes off a lot like the spoiled rich kid whose parents won’t upgrade the radio on the new BMW I8 they are buying for his birthday. It just makes you look uninformed, selfish and silly.”

Dale Hansen

Is there really anything we need to add, or is this pretty straightforward?

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Hansen, Dale. “Christian Persecution Is a Problem, Just Not in the U.S.” The Huffington Post. 19 May 2015.

The Ted Cruz Show (Preposterous Pretense)

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) during the Reuters Washington Summit in Washington, October 24, 2013. (Jim Bourg/Reuters)

I assume Cruz knows this, but the more he talks about ‘mandatory gay marriage,’ the more I’m inclined to remind him that he probably means ‘voluntary gay marriage.’

Steve Benen

This is what we call E for Effort, but don’t let that be a dig; it really is difficult to make heads or tails of what conservatives mean. This is sort of a confusing issue for them, and it seems that is how they like it.

There was, for instance, the amicus brief from Same-Sex Attracted Men and Their Wives, submitted for consideration in Obergefell, that fretted about a “constitutional mandate requiring same-sex marriage”, and the idea of “Constitutionally mandating same-sex marriage”. By the time we get to Pat Robertson’s bestial-anal rape fantasy―“You are going to say you like anal sex, you like oral sex, you like bestiality, you like anything you can think of, whatever it is”―it is unclear what, if anything, remains to be said.

Well, other than the obvious, which is to wonder what the hell these people are talking about.

But Mr. Benen does, between failed valiant attempts to take Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) seriously, manage to make the obvious point:

The only “mandatory” aspect of this is that the notion that the law would be required to treat all Americans equally. It would be “mandatory” that there are no second-class citizens.

This is what we must remember, though: The confusion is the point.

It is just harder to sell the fear of “mandatory gay marriage” if people take the mandate for what it really is: You got married, so now you’re married.

You don't want the ark to sink - Lebanon gives advice to Suou.  Detail of frame from Gemini of the Meteor, episode 4, 'The Ark Adrift on the Lake'.It is not that this is somehow hard for conservatives to understand; rather, they need it to seem hard to understand. The only confusion is that which they pretend, or, as some circumstances might have it―Same-Sex Attracted Men and Their Wives amici, I’m looking in your direction―actually genuinely suffer for whatever deceptions they have inflicted upon themselves.

This sort of seemingly incomprehensible incomprehension is actually pretty straightforward, depending on how deeply one wishes to delve. It is ego defense, nothing more, nothing less. They don’t like what is mandatory, but it is kind of inherently mandatory. So they need the idea of what is mandatory to be kind of scary. So they pretend to be kind of confused about what is mandatory, and then they manage to confuse themselves. This is actually something people do to themselves quite regularly, regardless of political orientation.

In the question of the Republican Party and its desperate, evangelical wing, there does remain a question as to whether or not such failures of healthy psychological function should present themselves as so consuming. That is to say, sure, it’s one thing to have one’s dysfunctional moments, but shouldn’t your part in the public discourse have something more to it than just a neurotic tumbleweed?

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Image note: Top―Sen. Ted Cruz during the Reuters Washington Summit, 24 October 2013 (Photo: Jim Bourg/Reuters) Left―”You don’t want the ark to sink.” Lebanon gives some advice to Suou. Detail of frame from Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor, episode 4, “The Ark Adrift on the Lake”.

Benen, Steve. “Cruz warns of ‘mandatory’ same-sex marriage”. msnbc. 18 May 2015.

The Jeb Bush Show (Quiet Cruelty)

Detail: Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks at the Economic Club of Detroit meeting in Detroit Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015. The Detroit event is the first in a series of stops that Bush's team is calling his "Right to Rise" tour. That's also the name of the political action committee he formed in December 2014 to allow him to explore a presidential run. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Detail of 'Bug Martini' by Adam Huber, 9 March 2015.“For Falwell’s school to be embraced so completely by the Republican mainstream says quite a bit about what’s become of GOP politics in the 21st century, Maybe someone will ask Bush for his thoughts on this over the weekend.”

Steve Benen

This is a quiet cruelty: Christian supremacism is losing ground, and conservative politicians are happy to pander for votes stoking desperate fears and elevating that supremacism as equality and justice. But the loss is inevitable, and will be even more painful for the deliberately manipulated, magnified false hope offered by those such as Jeb Bush, who would continue to pay homage unto bigotry.

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Image note: Detail of Bug Martini by Adam Huber, 9 March 2015.

Benen, Steve. “Jeb Bush heads for Falwell’s Liberty U”. msnbc. 8 May 2015.

History, Passing

Mary Doyle Keefe poses beside Rosie the Riveter in undated photo from Associated Press.

Rosie is dead.

Mary Doyle Keefe, the model for Norman Rockwell’s iconic 1943 Rosie the Riveter painting that symbolized the millions of American women who went to work on the home front during World War II, has died. She was 92.

(Collins)

Parenthood is a lifetime gig, you know, and if there is any comfort to be found in the passing of a cultural icon, it is that I have the rest of my life, still, that I might someday figure a way to explain to my daughter just how important Rosie the Riveter really was.

She changed everything. And perhaps this is an inadequate expression; therein lies the challenge. But still, it is no less true.

We’ve got some work to do, still, as a society. And, you know, we’ll get there, someday. Or kill ourselves trying. Thank you, Mary Doyle Keefe; your part in this story is etched in hearts and minds of generations, a permanent chapter in the collected tales of our American conscience.

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Image note: Mary Doyle Keefe poses alongside Rosie the Riveter in undated photograph from Associated Press.

Collins, Dave. “Model for Rockwell’s Rosie the Riveter Painting Dies”. ABC News. 22 April 2015.

Required Reading: Choices and Changes Edition

Serrano, Piss Christ (detail)“To all of my Christian brothers and sisters who insist that homosexuality is a choice, I need to break down and finally admit something: I agree with you.”

John Pavlovitz

Oh, come on. With bait like that, you know it’s worth the click.

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Pavlovitz, John. “Yes, Homosexuality Absolutely Is a Choice”. The Huffington Post. 21 April 2015.

The Twenty-First Century, Last I Checked

Gerry Pickens discusses his current situation and unemployment. Pickens, who was Orting’s first black police officer, was fired five days before his one-year probation period ended. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post, April, 2015)

This is unsettling:

Maybe it was because he had the least seniority that he had been given an older car, with a battery that occasionally went dead when he turned on his police lights. Maybe the police chief was only trying to be thoughtful when he mentioned, in Pickens’s memory at least three times, that Pickens should be vigilant about his self defense because Orting was an old-fashioned place that believed in the Second Amendment, where white supremacist groups remained active and well armed. And maybe Pickens had only himself to blame when his imagination began obsessing about those groups between 2 and 6 a.m., when he was the only officer on duty. He sometimes wondered: If one of those groups ambushed him, would anyone provide backup? How long before help would arrive?

(Saslow)

Growing up, Orting was the next town over. It is not quite accurate to say the place isn’t memorable, but it is what it is, a small town. Believe it or not, what I remember is playing golf in Orting. And a weird anecdote about a lady whose next door neighbor in one direction was a local call, but long-distance in the other. There was also the realization that if the warning sirens waited until Mount Rainier actually explodes, there would be no point, as the people would not have time to get out of the way.

But this? Having come up in that part of Pierce County, Washington, the unsettling aspect is not specifically that the issue arose, but, rather, that it somehow managed to wait until the twenty-first century. After all, this is not an unfamiliar waypoint along the path to societal justice, but it also seems like something our society should have gotten through sometime last century. Other than that, yes, this was probably inevitable.

This is Orting we’re talking about, after all.

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Saslow, Eli. “For tiny Orting, Wash., a foundational shift”. The Washington Post. 18 April 2015.

One of Those Important Things

Ninamori eats a popsicle.  (Detail of FLCL episode 5, 'Brittle Bullet')

So this is how it goes: Ms. Thomas’ right to expression of conscience is at least as protected as the bigots demanding “religious freedom” in order to discriminate. Still, though, look at the outcome. Religious supremacism and the right to bully people? Apparently we need a Religious Freedom Restoration Act to protect supremacism as if it was equality. But, hey, being gay? Offensive. The idea of human rights for women? Offensive. These things, apparently, need to be suppressed. You know, as a matter of freedom and equality.

When 8th grader Sophie Thomas got her class picture this year, she was shocked to see that her t-shirt had been photoshopped. The actual shirt has one hand-lettered word on it: ‘Feminist.’ The picture shows her wearing a plain black shirt.

Sophie wasn’t about to take that lying down. She posted a picture on Instagram of herself in the t-shirt, along with this message:

“HELLO EVERYBODY! I UNDERSTAND THAT THIS PICTURE ISN’T GREAT, BUT THERE IS AN ISSUE AT HAND. I WORE A SHIRT WITH THE WORD “FEMINIST” ON IT. OUR SCHOOL TOOK A PICTURE OF OUR GRADE TO HANG UP IN THE SCHOOL. TODAY, I FOUND OUT THEY BLACKED OUT MY SHIRT. I WENT TO OUR PRINCIPAL AND SHE CLAIMED IT WAS “OFFENSIVE” AND SHE “DIDN’T WANT IT IN THE PHOTO”

THIS FRIDAY, APRIL 17TH 2015, IS THE DAY MY PROTEST TAKES PLACE. EVERYONE PARTICIPATING WILL BE WEARING A SHIRT WITH A PHRASE LIKE “I DESERVE FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION” OR “FEMINISM ISN’T OFFENSIVE” OR ANYTHING THAT YOU BELIEVE FITS! PLEASE MAKE A SHIRT AND JOIN US AND HELP TAKE CARE OF THIS ISSUE. PLEASE REPOST AND SPREAD EVERYWHERE USING THE HASHTAG #IDESERVEFREEDOMOFEXPRESSION THANK YOU!”

That certainly got people’s attention — not only among students in this little town of Batavia, Ohio, but also in the media- nationally and internationally.

(Montesano)

And as we are wont to say, things only go downhill from there.

But this is what it’s really about. Supremacism is not equality, and we really ought to reject any sort of community standard that would suggest otherwise.

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Image note: Eri Ninamori eats a popsicle. Details of frames from FLCL episode 5, “Brittle Bullet”.

Montesano, Deborah. “8th Grade Feminist Is The Winner In Dispute With Narrow-Minded School Officials”. Addicting Info. 17 April 2015.

A Matter of Ceremony and Circumstance

LGBT advocate and civil rights attorney Mary Bonauto in her office, 2014.  (Photo via MacArthur Foundation)

A rite of honor:

Lawyers advocating for a right to gay marriage at the U.S. Supreme Court announced on Tuesday they had chosen Mary Bonauto, a longtime champion of gay legal rights, to argue the landmark case on April 28.

(Biskupic)

Do the job, madam. You’ve got this one.

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Biskupic, Joan. “Prominent gay rights advocate to argue landmark U.S. marriage case”. Reuters. 31 March 2015.

The Gap in the Line

Detail of cover art for 'Glyph', by Floater.

Sometimes it is hard to know just how to respond. React. Perceive. Feel.

Author Peter Monn appears to be retiring from the fight:

I don’t claim to know or understand God. I know there is one and I’m not it. I don’t need to reinvent the wheel but I also believe in religious freedom. But this isn’t about religious freedom. What knowing LGBT person would want to spend their money or hire someone who so opposed who they are at their core? Not me.

But I’m tired of fighting. I’ve been fighting since I was 5 years old to have other people accept me for something I never understood in the first place. And if I couldn’t understand it then I know they certainly can’t understand. And I’m done trying. I’m tired of explaining to people who would never be affected by such a bill how it haunts me and once again makes me feel different; less than.

My life is probably more than half over anyway. This is for our children. I refuse to fight so that when I’m 80 I can have my picture taken for the local paper because it’s such an honor that they finally passed some ridiculous bill of rights that I should have had all along. Nope. I’m done fighting. And to me, that is freedom. It is obvious that my word is not important anyway. It is obvious that my life does not matter to those voting in fear, hiding behind religious freedoms that do not specifically affect their personal lives. The best that I can do is step away.

There must be something I’m missing, because the first thought to mind is bitter: “Go tell it to the headstones.”

To the other, many of us hid while others stood the line for us; it is hard to protest the desire to stop fighting and simply live.

There are others who will fill the gap in the line. This isn’t over yet.

Thank you for your service, Mr. Monn; we are all, truly, grateful.

Be well. You helped with the heavy lifting; we’ll take it from here.

And we will stand. We will speak. We will fight. And we will win. And then we can all get on with the business of living.

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Monn, Peter. “How I Will Express My Religious Freedom in Indiana”. The Huffington Post. 24 March 2015.