family values

What Folks in “Middle America” Call “Family Values”

Detail of FLCL episode 3, 'Marquis de Carabas'.

Okay, so, there is certainly a lot going in Indiana, but it seems worth checking in on this small point:

An Indiana pizzeria under fire for saying it would refuse to cater a gay wedding shut down on Wednesday after its owners said they received threatening messages.

However, a GoFundMe page set up for Memories Pizza in Walkerton has raised more than $40,000 in just six hours.

The pizzeria made national headlines this week when its owners called the business a “Christian establishment” and said the state’s contentious Religious Freedom Restoration Act would allow it to refuse to make pizzas for a hypothetical gay wedding.

That led to a flood of angry reviews on Yelp as well as the threatening messages.

“I don’t know if we will re-open, or if we can, if it’s safe to re-open,” co-owner Crystal O’Connor told TheBlaze, the news network run by conservative talk show host Glenn Beck. “We’re in hiding basically, staying in the house.”

The fundraiser was set up by Dana Loesch of TheBlaze, and Lawrence B. Jones III, a contributor to the network.

“Nobody should ever have to suffer or suffer alone for their faith, for standing up for Christian principles,” Loesch said on her broadcast.

(Mazza)

So you pick a fight on behalf of bigotry, and people send you money. This is the real face of “Middle America” and its “family values”.

Then again, this is Indiana, after all.

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A Note on an Abomination

"Governor Mike Pence Is an Abomination" ― Headline from Marc Leandro of The Huffington Post, 31 March 2015, in reference to the Indiana Republican signing into law a Religious Freedom Act intended to enshrine discrimination in state law.

There really is a reason for Marc Leandro’s headline, “Governor Mike Pence Is an Abomination”.

The situation in Indiana is upsetting for a lot of reasons. First among them is the overt discrimination against LGBT individuals the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act, as currently written, will protect under the law. And a close second is the utter venality displayed by Indiana Governor Mike Pence.

In the photograph taken of Pence at the bill’s private signing ceremony, he is surrounded by various religious figures, and some activists well known to the LGBT community in Indiana. Micah Clark, standing behind and to the left of the governor, has claimed publicly that homosexuality is a “disorder” that can be treated. Curt Smith, directly behind the governor, has equated gayness with bestiality and helped to write the bill the governor was signing. Eric Miller, to the right, was the man behind a flyer claiming falsely that if same-sex marriage was allowed in Indiana, religious figures might be imprisoned for preaching against homosexuality.

Again, this was a closed ceremony, and one has to presume that the governor had knowledge of who would be there. These are people that the governor is close to, who in at least one case helped to write the bill, and in two other cases have taken public stances against LGBT individuals. I take that back — publicly they might state that they love “the homosexuals” but hate their “sin”, a distinction as infuriating as it is dunderheaded.

This goes back at least a quarter of a century. Or, it was on already on fire when I arrived.

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Full Color Hatred

Detail of cartoon by Lalo Alcaraz, via Daily Kos, 1 April 2015.“Governor Pence swears [Senate Enrolled Act 101] was not created to allow religious conservatives to discriminate against gays. Trouble is, this bill’s most fervent backers are notorious homophobic anti-gay activists. Sheer coincidence! State sanctioned discrimination needs to stay in the 1950s, where it belongs.”

Lalo Alcaraz

Ouch.

Certes, Indiana will resent so pointed a hit, but those who might protest the basic notion of such a comparison would find themselves enlightened by certain wisdom offered nearly forty-five years ago:

Huey P. Newton, co-founder of the Black Panthers.Whatever your personal opinions and your insecurities about homosexuality and the various liberation movements among homosexuals and women (and I speak of the homosexuals and women as oppressed groups), we should try to unite with them in a revolutionary fashion. I say “whatever your insecurities are” because as we very well know, sometimes our first instinct is to want to hit a homosexual in the mouth, and want a woman to be quiet. We want to hit a homosexual in the mouth because we are afraid that we might be homosexual; and we want to hit the women or shut her up because we are afraid that she might castrate us, or take the nuts that we might not have to start with.

We must gain security in ourselves and therefore have respect and feelings for all oppressed people. We must not use the racist attitude that the White racists use against our people because they are Black and poor. Many times the poorest White person is the most racist because he is afraid that he might lose something, or discover something that he does not have. So you’re some kind of a threat to him. This kind of psychology is in operation when we view oppressed people and we are angry with them because of their particular kind of behavior, or their particular kind of deviation from the established norm.

Remember, we have not established a revolutionary value system; we are only in the process of establishing it. I do not remember our ever constituting any value that said that a revolutionary must say offensive things towards homosexuals, or that a revolutionary should make sure that women do not speak out about their own particular kind of oppression. As a matter of fact, it is just the opposite: we say that we recognize the women’s right to be free. We have not said much about the homosexual at all, but we must relate to the homosexual movement because it is a real thing. And I know through reading, and through my life experience and observations that homosexuals are not given freedom and liberty by anyone in the society. They might be the most oppresed people in the society.

And what made them homosexual? Perhaps it’s a phenomenon that I don’t understand entirely. Some people say that it is the decadence of capitalism. I don’t know if that is the case; I rather doubt it. But whatever the case is, we know that homosexuality is a fact that exists, and we must understand it in its purest form: that is, a person should have the freedom to use his body in whatever way he wants.

That is not endorsing things in homosexuality that we wouldn’t view as revolutionary. But there is nothing to say that a homosexual cannot also be a revolutionary. And maybe I’m now injecting some of my prejudice by saying that “even a homosexual can be a revolutionary.” Quite the contrary, maybe a homosexual could be the most revolutionary.

Huey Newton

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Alcaraz, Lalo. “Indiana, coloreds not served”. Daily Kos Comics. 1 April 2015.

Newton, Huey. “The Women’s Liberation and Gay Liberation Movements”. 15 August 2015.

The Shadow over Indiana

22 FEBRUARY 2015: Indiana Gov. Mike Pence appears on 'FOX News Sunday with Chris Wallace'.  Guest host John Roberts interviewed Mr. Pence regarding various issues, including his status as a 2016 'dark horse' for the GOP presidential nomination, and the Hoosier State's 'religious freedom' bill empowering discrimination, which Pence signed into law in late March.  (Image credit: FOX News)

“Indiana businesses can now discriminate against gay people because of the ACA’s contraception policy?”

Steve Benen

Perhaps it seems an odd question, but there is a reason, after all:

The Republican governor, and possible presidential candidate, published a Wall Street Journal op-ed overnight in which Pence outlined his plan to address businesses that exploit his new law to discriminate against gay consumers: “If I saw a restaurant owner refuse to serve a gay couple, I wouldn’t eat there anymore.”msnbc

As Rachel joked on the show last night, “So, if you were worried that gay people might be refused service by a business in Indiana now, don’t worry. That could never happen because the state has decided to wield the grave threat of depriving businesses of Mike Pence’s personal patronage.”

In the same piece, the Hoosier State governor suggested this whole mess can be traced back to Obamacare.

Many states have enacted [Religious Freedom Restoration Acts] of their own … but Indiana never passed such a law. Then in 2010 came the Affordable Care Act, which renewed concerns about government infringement on deeply held religious beliefs. Hobby Lobby and the University of Notre Dame both filed lawsuits challenging provisions that required the institutions to offer certain types of insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.

Last year the Supreme Court upheld religious liberty in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, based on the federal RFRA. With the Supreme Court’s ruling, the need for a RFRA at the state level became more important, as the federal law does not apply to states. To ensure that religious liberty is fully protected under Indiana law, this year the General Assembly enshrined these principles in Indiana law. I fully supported that action.

Hmm. Indiana businesses can now discriminate against gay people because of the ACA’s contraception policy?

This apparently wasn’t persuasive, either, leading Pence to announce this morning his support for a legislative “fix.”

The question persists: How did Pence not see this coming?

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A Note on “Family Values” in “Flyover Country”

In this May 3, 2010 photo, attorney Kris Kobach poses for a photo in Kansas City, Mo. When politicians and police across the county want to crack down on illegal immigration, they often reach out to Kobach, a little-known Kansas attorney with an Ivy League education who is the architect behind many of the nation's most controversial immigration laws. Kobach helps draft proposed laws and, after they are adopted, trains officers to enforce them. If the laws are challenged, he goes to court to defend them. His most recent project was advising Arizona officials on a new law that empowers police to question anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

Two words: Middle America.

Two more: Flyover country.

Do the phrases ring a bell, maybe hearken back to 2008 when Republicans condemned coastal liberals as treating the interior states like a foreign country?

How about two more words? Sunflower State.

And two more: Kris Kobach.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, one of the chief architects of the anti-immigrant movement’s legal and legislative strategies, told a caller to his weekly radio program last week that while he thought it was “unlikely,” it would not be a “huge jump” to predict that the Obama administration could call an end to the prosecutions of African Americans for any crime. Claiming that “it’s already happened more or less in the case of civil rights laws,” Kobach told listeners that “I’ve learned to say with this president, never say never.”

(Blue)

This is standard fare for Kobach. Remember, people in Kansas elected him, not despite the lying and racist paranoia, but because of it.

The next time you hear a conservative crying about “Middle America” and how the nasty liberals in the Democratic Party―(What? All three of them?)―”hate” the “family values” of “Middle America”, remember that these are the values in question. Mr. Kobach’s tenure in office is its own condemnation of Sunflower State values.

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Blue, Miranda. “Kris Kobach: ‘Not A Huge Jump’ To Think Obama Could Ban Criminal Prosecution Of Black People”. Right Wing Watch. 4 March 2015.

The Value of Woman in South Carolina

Undated photo of South Carolina state Sen. Thomas Corbin (R-05, Greenville/Spartanburg).

The question sometimes arises: What the hell is wrong with Republicans?

And, yes, there is a reason for this. No amount of pathetic equivocation―no mewling about how both parties are the same―can really stand up to scrutiny; they are the words of embittered surrender.

Because, really, while many might stop to wonder about the abysmal situation in South Carolina, most are also quietly and sadly aware that according to Palmetto virtue things can only get worse. After all, this is a state where prosecutors argue that women are not allowed to defend themselves against domestic and intimate violence.

And when we stop to look at who the people of South Carolina are choosing to represent them, we need not wonder how those Palmetto virtues have become such an embarrassment to pretty much everyone. We might also add that in South Carolina, if embarrassment is the worst one suffers for this situation, they ought to consider themselves fortunate. In a state where women cannot defend themselves yet unsettle those Palmetto virtues by going and dying of domestic violence at a rate of one every ten days on average, people like state Sen. Thomas Corbin (R-05, Greenville/Spartanburg) pretty much sum up what’s wrong with South Carolina:

Chauvinist in any context, Corbin’s remarks occurred during a legislative dinner this week to discuss domestic violence legislation. Sources present at the meeting told FITS that Corbin directed his comments at fellow GOP state senator Katrina Shealy, the sole woman in the 46-member chamber.

“I see it only took me two years to get you wearing shoes,” Corbin told Shealy, who won election in 2012. Corbin, the site explains, is said to have previously cracked that women should be “at home baking cookies” or “barefoot and pregnant,” not serving in the state legislature ....

.... Indignant at Corbin’s rank sexism, Shealy asked him where he “got off” making such remarks.

“Well, you know God created man first,” a smirking Corbin replied. “Then he took the rib out of man to make woman. And you know, a rib is a lesser cut of meat.”

(Brinker)

Ah, South Carolina. And this is the part where we should just crack a glib joke about what passes for “family values” in the Palmetto State, but the truth of the matter is that this just isn’t funny.

South Carolina, where domestic abuse victims should not be allowed to defend themselves, according to prosecutors in Charleston.We might wonder just how much gravity such dense ignorance as Sen. Corbin’s might actually have, and even make the point about his bizarre obsessions in general, including the time in 2013 he suggested Sen. Shealy (R-23, Lexington) leave the room while he discussed children performing oral sex on older men.

It probably wouldn’t help to ask him to explain why, if the Adam’s rib story is supposed to be true, God went so far as to make all humans female by default. No, really, even XY starts out female; hormones received in utero trigger the physiological male development. We ought not be surprised that the Bible has it backwards; after all, we’re talking about a bunch of men writing down oral traditions.

Sen. Corbin was elected in 2012; the question remains whether Palmetto virtue in District Five want another four years of this sort of madness. Then again, it’s South Carolina, so … right.

An equally fair question: What the hell is wrong with South Carolina?

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Brinker, Luke. “GOP lawmaker calls women ‘a lesser cut of meat'”. Salon. 13 February 2015.

A Confession Unto the World Weiner

Detail of 'Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal' by Zach Weiner, 11 February 2015.

With apologies to the Weiner Almighty; forgive me, Weiner, for I have sinned, and yes, I owe you another apology for trying to cram “weiner” into the sentence twice thrice.

Still, though, it is unkind to give away the punch line. Then again … something about cosmic justice goes here. That is to say, if only ....

I mean, it was always a doctor, or a lawyer, or in the eighties an MBA or other special someone in finance, and even if one hasn’t a care in the world about who their daughters marry, look at what the rest of us have gotten from that stupid, greedy ownership culture.

No daughter of yours is going to marry a Negro? No son of yours is gonna be a queer? Tell us this: Now that your kids have fucked the whole of American society, are you proud of the social disease you passed along?

So while you fret about whether or not you own your kids’ sex lives or whatever, the rest of us will be over in the corner talking about something important. You know, like giving away the punch line.

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Weiner, Zach. Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. 11 February 2015.

A Note About Tennessee Family Values

Elizabeth Lauten, former communications director for Rep. Steven Fincher (R-TN08)

How … interesting. And you can take that proverbially or not as per your inclination. But consider this: Elizabeth Lauten has resigned.

Some might wonder who the hell Elizabeth Lauten actually is, and they would likely not be wrong to do so. Well, unless they happened to be a regular follower of the ins and outs of Rep. Steven Fincher (R-TN08), whose communications director reminded us all of the relationship between Republicans and family values.

A GOP staffer will resign after launching a verbal assault on Malia and Sasha Obama in the wake of their appearance at the president’s annual turkey pardoning ceremony last week at the White House.

Elizabeth Lauten, who served as a communications director for Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn.), criticized the two girls in a Facebook rant which eventually went viral. “Act like being in the White House matters to you. Dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at a bar. And certainly don’t make faces during televised, public events,” wrote Lauten.

She also said that the Obama daughters, who largely stay out of the limelight, should show “a little class.”

Many have argued Malia and Sasha were behaving like typical teenagers at the event. They appeared unamused by their father’s corny jokes and at one point Malia declined to pet the Thanksgiving turkey by simply saying, “Nah.”

You might recall we mentioned this episode recently, in an attempt to fill space in an otherwise useless post about a really stupid American holiday tradition celebrating a mythical act of human decency. And while it is one thing to point out that it is Gawker, and wonder what else we should expect, one might think a communications director for a sitting congressman should know better.

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What Passes for Family Values in Texas

Futility is the essence of the Camusite Absurd. And, yes, Sisyphus is happy. Even when he is unhappy.

Dan Savage offers Sisyphan Texans a bit of advice:

Antigay protesters in Houston, Texas, teach their children to fantasize about hating other people, 2 November 2014.  Photos and collage by Brad Pritch.1. To homophobic parents who bring their kids to antigay hate rallies: You tempt the God of Irony when you put your prepubescent children in antigay T-shirts. Seriously. That could come back to haunt you one day. But, hey, that pic will make for a hilarious #TBT on your grown-up gay kid’s Instagram account one day—provided, of course, that his hateful parents didn’t drive him to suicide before he could come out. (Like Chris Rock said: “Whoever you hate will end up in your family. You don’t like gays? You’re gonna have a gay son. You don’t like Puerto Ricans? Your daughter’s gonna come home with Livin’ La Vida Loca!”)

2. So you reserve the right to discriminate against gay people? You don’t want gay people patronizing your businesses? Great! Put that fact in your ads, put it on a sign in your window, mention it in all of your marketing materials. But you won’t, of course, because when it comes right down to it … you’re a bunch of fucking cowards.

Just, you know. Don’t blame the children for being assholes. That is acquired behavior, learned from parents who have no earthly business raising children.

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Savage, Dan. “Antigay Haters Reserve the Right to Discriminate Against Homosexuals on the Down Low”. Slog. 4 November 2014.

Image credit Photos and collage by Brad Pritch.

A Different Disgrace Out of Mississippi

The Great Seal of the State of Mississippi

“It’s as if you gave me a car, I took off the wheels and refused to put gas in the tank, and then blamed you when the car doesn’t go anywhere. In this case, Bryant is blocking the law’s full implementation and whining that the law isn’t working effectively. Under the circumstances, shouldn’t the governor be bragging? He is, after all, getting the results he set out to achieve.”

Steve Benen

There is not, really, anything to add, except perhaps to remind for those inclined toward disbelief that this is, after all, Missouri, where they have a nasty tendency toward self-destructive blatancy such as skipping the pretense about patient health and crowing that they are trying to violate the constitution, or explaining the need for the return of coat-hanger abortions.

It’s an interesting trick, isn’t it? Bryant has done as much as he can to sabotage the ACA in Mississippi, and by standing in the way of Medicaid expansion, among other things, the governor has largely succeeded in hurting his state on purpose. As “Obamacare” sharply reduces the uninsured rate elsewhere, Mississippi is being left behind, by its governor’s design.

And so he’s blaming the White House.

In other words, no matter how stupid Gov. Phil Bryant might sound in trying to blame his successes on the president in order to denounce Obama for their damaging effects, it is, after all, Mississippi. When conservatives remind you of “Middle America” and “family values”, these are the “values” they are invoking.

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Benen, Steve. “Chutzpah Watch, Mississippi edition”. msnbc. 29 July 2014.

—————. “Mississippi lawmaker: Coat hanger abortions might come back. ‘But hey …'”. msnbc. 6 September 2013.