I finally have a superpower!

When I was a child, I wanted to be Spider-Man so much. I would run around the house with my fingers in the same shape the wall-crawler formed his when he THWIP’d his webs. I would pretend to stick to walls and be super-strong too. One time, I even injured myself, bc I was pretending I was swinging on a web. I had taken a rope and flung it around one of the prongs on those old standing metallic coat racks and actually put my weight on it, and of course the thing fell and hit me. On the head. I would have been fine, with perhaps nothing more than a bruise, if I hadn’t been in the habit of removing the plastic caps that go over the metal hooks. As a result, the metal hook hit my forehead with enough force to make me bleed. I recall walking into the bathroom telling my mom that my head hurt. If I recall correctly, I was 5 or 6. So yeah, you can imagine what it’s like for a parent to see their child bleeding from a head wound (it wasn’t terribly bad, once all was said and done, but that instinct of “OH MY GOD MY CHILD IS BLEEDING” is pretty intense). Needless to say, after that, I stopped trying to swing from things, and i learned my lesson about taking the plastic caps off metallic rods.

As I got older, I stopped wanting to be like Spidey. Not bc he wasn’t cool anymore, but bc I began wanting to fly. And that’s a feeling that has remained with me since I was a teenager. While I don’t remember my dreams in any significant detail, I *do* recall many nights (one even relatively recently) of dreaming of flying. Though vague, the details I do recall that my dreams involved flying all around the world. About the only joy I got out of the 2013 movie, Man of Steel, was watching Superman fly around the world, bc it reminded me-viscerally-of my dreams. The vicarious thrill I got out of watching that scene was *almost* enough to make up for the dreariness of the rest of the movie.

Unfortunately, we humans aren’t gifted with superhuman (or supernatural, whatever the case may be) abilities. We can’t manipulate the weather. We aren’t masters of magnetism. We don’t transform into half-ton jolly green balls of unbridled rage. Yeah, we’re pretty much powerless.

Or so I thought until today.

Today is a landmark day in human history. It has been discovered that we humans do indeed have superpowers. But #NotAllHumans. Unfortunately the majority of our species will have to muddle through life without experiencing the fantastic power that some of us possess. Apparently I am one of the recipients of this power. So too are all my fellow Orbit bloggers and anyone else who fights for the cause of queer rights. What power do we have?

We have the power to kill God.

Continue reading “I finally have a superpower!”

I finally have a superpower!
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Hey, Hey! Ho, Ho! Human rights have got to go!

Are you living in a country with a constitution that echoes-in part or whole-the human rights as enumerated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?  Do you ever get the feeling that those rights are just a little…I don’t know? Stifling? Do you, on occasion, feel that you and the people around you would be better served by eliminating a few of those pesky rights? On hopeful days, do you find yourself lost in thought, contemplating how exhilarating it would be to cast aside rights like bodily autonomy or freedom of religion (bc let’s be honest, you know that some people really shouldn’t have the right to dictate what happens to or with their bodies ((that’s a responsibility best left to others)) and no one, but no one, should ever be allowed to decide whether or not to hold religious beliefs)? On really good days, do you speak out online or in meatspace about the virtues of living a life with significant restraints on freedom of speech and expression (bc of your sincerely held  belief that the world would be so much better if more people were imprisoned for heresy)? Do you often find yourself alone at night, laying atop your bed replete with rosary covered 1200-thread count sheets, thinking about people being slaughtered in the name of blasphemy laws as you grasp your really Good Book in one hand and attend to personal matters with the other?  If you do, then you probably have something in common with he who doesn’t like human rights (some of them anyway) Patriarch Kirill, the Head of the Russian Orthodox Church:

Continue reading “Hey, Hey! Ho, Ho! Human rights have got to go!”

Hey, Hey! Ho, Ho! Human rights have got to go!

A Million Hundred Thousand Moms are angry

In a recent Facebook post, the conservative, retrograde, fundamentalist group One Million Moms (whose membership doesn’t seem to have a tenth of that number; of course that link is 3 years old, so maybe they’ve seen a tremendous surge in membership over the years) expressed their concern over an upcoming show from FOX, Lucifer:

FOX has plans in 2016 to air “Lucifer,” a new series which will glorify Satan as a caring, likable person in human flesh.

The series will focus on Lucifer portrayed as a good guy, “who is bored and unhappy as the Lord of Hell.” He resigns his throne, abandons his kingdom and retires to Los Angeles, where he gets his kicks helping the LAPD punish criminals.

At the same time, God’s emissary, the angel Amenadiel, has been sent to Los Angeles to convince Lucifer to return to the underworld. 

Previews of the pilot episode depict graphic acts of violence, a nightclub featuring scantily-clad women and a demon.

Based (loosely, some might say) on characters from DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint, Lucifer follows the titular character (played by Tom Ellis) who decides he is tired of running hell and sets up shop in Los Angeles as a nightclub owner who wants to combat his millenia-old bad publicity:

Rush actor Tom Ellis plays the title role in the series, which explores what happens when the Lord of Hell decides to quit his job and move to Los Angeles. While that aspect of the series remains true to the comic book series, the television character’s decision to help the Los Angeles Police Department catch criminals is a pretty major departure from the more heady subject matter tackled by his comics counterpart.

Ellis is joined in the cast by Chicago Fire actress Lauren German as the LAPD detective who’s strangely immune to Lucifer’s charms, as well as Spartacus actress Lesley-Ann Brandt as a demon in human form who’s allied with Lucifer. D.B. Woodside (24) plays the angel Amenadiel, who’s tasked with convincing Lucifer to return to his realm in the underworld that he abandoned.

While Gaiman introduced the DC Comics version of Lucifer that inspired the series, it was writer Mike Carey who authored the popular, self-titled Lucifer series that ran for 75 issues and was published from 2000 to 2006.

Here’s the preview:

The idea of presenting Lucifer as a character who wants to combat his bad image and even being ::gasp:: likable? Well that’s just plain appalling to groups like One Million Moms (who love them some petitions). Given the theme of redemption inherent to Christianity, you’d think a group of religious people would support the most Evil Being® in all existence (OMG!!!) working to become a better person. After all, if Satan can become good (or at least not as evil), that says something about the power of redemption. If the Lord of Evil* can become a better person (or at least try) despite all the evil he’s done**, then us lowly humans born into sin***, definitely have a chance to bask in the presence of the Lord for all eternity. Your mileage may vary, but for me, that doesn’t sound like a good way to spend all eternity. It sounds rather like torture. In any case, the theme of redemption appears to be prominent in this show, so OMM ought to quit their complaining.

But they won’t.

Because Satan/Lucifer/The Lord of Evil can’t be nice. He can’t be likable. He can’t be anything approaching a decent person. And good golly gosh, he can’t be redeemed****! Attempts to paint Satan in a positive light are wrong because they mischaracterize Satan, who is an Evil Being®. As an Evil Being® we all know that Lucifer does not have good qualities. Depicted properly, Evil Beings® endorse, support, and condone slavery, rape, and infanticide. Evil Beings® are possessed of a bloodlust that must be sated with the ritual sacrifice of animals. They’re also petty tyrants who demand that their followers worship them, or else! Eternal Torment! Lake of Fire! Cut off From Being With Them For All Eternity! They create laws and commandments that prohibit people from engaging in completely innocuous activities like eating shellfish, wearing clothing with mixed fibers, dancing, consensual sexy funtimes, gambling, and more. Oh, and Evil Beings® will go on genocidal temper tantrums when their creations don’t act as they should (so glad that most human parents dpn’t kill their kids when they act up).

Whew. I guess that means Satan is safe. He hasn’t done any of those things. Good thing too, because then he’d be an Evil Being®. So my advice to One Million Moms-aside from “you ought to call yourselves Tens of Thousands of Moms” or “Moms who believe in religious nonsense” or my favorite “Moms who start petitions over harmless things”-you ought to start petitioning churches to quit worshiping that God guy. Between Him and Satan, it’s pretty clear which one is Evil-and it isn’t the guy with an upcoming tv show on FOX.

*Man, I love randomly capitalizing letters

**Or said to have done, bc honestly, I think Satan gets a bad rap

***Remember kids, sin is a fictional concept inherent to one particular strain of religion (out of thousands). Like other religious concepts, there is no basis in reality for this concept, so don’t get all confused thinking it applies to real world actions

****So sayeth One Million Hundred Thousand Moms

A Million Hundred Thousand Moms are angry

Utah lawmaker is a rape apologist

In The History of the Pleas of the Crown 17th century English lawyer and judge Sir Matthew Hale wrote:

But the husband cannot be guilty of a rape committed by himself upon his
lawful wife, for by their mutual matrimonial consent and contract the wife hath
given up herself in this kind unto her husband which she cannot retract.

According to Hale, a husband is entitled to sex from his wife, the signing of a marriage contract means a wife gives her ongoing consent to sex, and a wife cannot retract her consent so long as she remains married. In other words, husbands have a marital rape exemption. By virtue of being married, a husband has the right to demand and engage in sex with his wife, regardless of her wishes. Marital rape exemptions in the United States, which can trace their roots back to Hale’s treatise, were included in the criminal code of all U.S. states for most of the country’s history. In 1976-200 years after the founding of the United States-Nebraska became the first state to abolish the marital rape exemption, with other states following…very…slowly. North Carolina and Oklahoma became the last states in the nation to remove their marital rape exemptions-in 1993 (27 years after Nebraska).

Unfortunately, while the courts have criminalized marital rape, deep-seated cultural and religious beliefs about married women continue to persist in our culture. These sexist and misogynistic beliefs make it difficult for many people to recognize sexual coercion in marriage (thanks a bunch Sir Matthew Hale, for your role in perpetuating sexism and misogyny). As a result, despite the elimination of the marital rape exemption, the crime is infrequently prosecuted.

Though infrequent, prosecution for marital rape does happen. For Rep. Brian Greene of Utah, this is cause for concern:

A Utah measure seeking to make that legal clarification won early approval in a state legislative committee Tuesday, but some lawmakers qualified their support, questioning whether the law would designate sex with an unconscious spouse as rape.

“If an individual has sex with their wife while she is unconscious … a prosecutor could then charge that spouse with rape, theoretically,” said Rep. Brian Greene, R-Pleasant Grove.”That makes sense in a first date scenario, but to me, not where people have a history of years of sexual activity.”

Rep. Greene clearly holds the same disgusting, misogynistic beliefs about a woman’s “wifely duties” as Sir Matthew Hale. And he’s just as fucking ignorant. If your wife is unconscious, she cannot consent. Sex without consent is the very definition of rape. Marital status does not change that definition. Husbands are not entitled to sex from their wives and wives do not owe their husbands sex (or anything else for that matter). Whether you engage in non-consensual sex on the first date, or after 10 years of marriage it is still rape. It doesn’t magically become NOT rape if a husband has non-consensual sex with his wife. Thankfully, decent human beings spoke up in opposition to Greene:

Others disagreed. If a person is unconscious, having sex with him or her “is rape. Period. End of story,” said Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City. “Let’s make the statute clear. Let’s not dance around it.”
According to prosecutors, “consent is a decision that has to be made at the time of the act,” said attorney Donna Kelly from the Utah Prosecution Council. “You cannot give consent to sexual activity if you’re unconscious.”

Utah’s current law doesn’t adequately protect victims, advocates and others told the House Judiciary Committee at the Capitol on Tuesday.

“This is something that’s been a long time coming,” bill sponsor Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, said after the meeting. “At the end of the day, if someone’s unconscious or they’re a vulnerable adult, then the logical answer is: Don’t try to have a sexual relationship with them.”

Lawmakers parsed HB74 to understand the implications for sex between partners, husbands and wives and those who may be incapacitated by mental disabilities, medication or surgery. The legislation aims to clarify the definition of consent in sexual assault cases.

“I’m not at all trying to justify sexual activity with an unconscious person. It’s abhorrent to me,” Greene said. But he questioned whether sex with an unconscious person should be “rape in every instance — dependent only upon the actor’s knowledge that the individual is unconscious. That’s the question. That’s what I struggle with.”

If you’re trying to question whether non-consensual sex is rape, then you are arguing that not all rape is bad, and you have utterly failed to be a decent human being. I wonder if Rep. Greene’s Mormon beliefs play a role in his odious views on marital rape.

Nah. I’m sure there’s nothing in Mormon doctrine that says the husband is entitled to sex from his wife, or that a wife is duty bound to give her husband sex when he wants it regardless of her desires.


If you have been the victim of sexual assault or if you are a family member or friend of someone who has been victimized, please call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit them online for secure, free, and confidential help.

Utah lawmaker is a rape apologist

Extraordinary claim? Check. Extraordinary evidence? Umm…

The late Carl Sagan popularized the phrase “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” (I mistakenly thought it was the late atheist warmonger Christopher Hitchens-you learn something new every day). Central to critical thinking and skepticism, the phrase is often uttered in skeptic, atheist, and rationalist circles.  “God exists”, “aliens visited ancient civilizations and erected massive structures”, “Bigfoot is real”, and “psychics can commune with the dead” are just some of the extraordinary claims the phrase is applied to. Believers in psychic powers, aliens, or gods often have little to no evidence to back up their claims (and when they do provide what they think of as evidence, it doesn’t hold up to scrutiny), let alone the extraordinary evidence necessary to convince others that [for example] human beings can communicate with the dead. Obviously the popular phrase doesn’t apply to all claims.  When I tell readers that I ordered a deep-dish pepperoni and Italian sausage pizza from Domino’s Pizza earlier, that’s not an extraordinary claim. Why? Domino’s Pizza exists.  That can be confirmed by millions of other people. You can visit their stores. You can view their online site. Phone numbers and addresses exist for their locations. The names of franchise owners can be found. Articles discussing their products can be Googled. You can actually call them up, order food, and have it delivered to your door.  All of that is evidence that Domino’s Pizza exists. Contrast that with the lack of evidence to support the claim that

  • the positions of the planets and stars affect the personalities of human beings
  • Uri Gellar can bend spoons with the power of his mind
  • any deity exists-be it Odin, Zeus, Hephaestus, Isis, Osiris, Quetzalcoatl, Allah, or Yahweh

Nor is there, to the best of my knowledge, any evidence to support the claim that airplanes existed in India 7,000 years ago:

Aeroplanes existed in 7,000 years ago and they travelled from one country to another and from one planet to another, the Indian Science was told today in a controversial lecture that examined ancient aviation technology in the Vedas.

The hosting of the lecture, presented by Captain Anand J Bodas, a retired principal of a pilot training facility, had recently attracted criticism from some scientists who said it undermined the primacy of empirical evidence on which the 102-year-old Congress was founded.

The lecture was presented on the second day of the Congress under the aegis of University as part of a symposium on ‘Ancient Sciences through Sanskrit’.

Drawing upon the ancient Vedic texts to support the claim that there was flying technology in ancient India, Bodas said, “There is a reference of ancient aviation in the Rigveda.”

He said Maharishi Bharadwaj spoke 7,000 years ago of “the existence of aeroplanes which travel from one country to another, from one continent to another and from one planet to another. He mentioned 97 reference books for aviation.”

“History merely notes that the Wright brothers first flew in 1904,” he said.

Bharadwaj, who authored the book Vimana Samhita, had written about various types of metal alloys used to build an aeroplane, Bodas said, adding, “Now we have to import aeroplane alloys. The young generation should study the alloys mentioned in his book and make them here,”

He also spoke of the “huge” aeroplanes which flew in ancient India. “The basic structure was of 60 by 60 feet and in some cases, over 200 feet. They were jumbo planes,” he said.

“The ancient planes had 40 small engines. Today’s aviation does not know even of flexible exhaust system,” he said.

The ancient Indian radar system was called ‘rooparkanrahasya’. “In this system, the shape of the aeroplane was presented to the observer, instead of the mere blimp that is seen on modern radar systems,” he said.

Bharadwaj’s book mentioned a diet of pilots. It contained of milk of buffalo, cow and sheep for specific periods, Bodas said.

The pilot’s dress cloth came from vegetation grown underwater, he said.

An online petition by a scientist at the NASA research centre had demanded that the scheduled lecture be cancelled as it mixes mythology with science.

The comments by Bodas came a day after Union Minister for Science and Technology Harsh Vardhan told the Congress that Algebra and the Pythagoras’ theorem both originated in India but the credit for these has gone to people from other countries.

Incidentally, these 7K-year-old airplanes must have been far more advanced than the airliners of today, as there is no plane I know of that can achieve the speed necessary to escape the pull of Earth’s gravity*, let alone the speeds necessary for interplanetary travel.

*escape velocity, roughly 25,000 mph

Extraordinary claim? Check. Extraordinary evidence? Umm…

The Charlie Hebdo massacre is an attack on freedom of expression

Wednesday is normally a big day for the creators at Charlie Hebdo. It’s usually print day; the day when the French satirical weekly sends out a new edition. Sadly, today was a Wednesday like no other as gunmen armed with a Kalashnikov and a rocket launcher entered the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo and opened fire. The shooting, labeled by French President Francois Hollande as a terrorist attack, has left at least 12 dead and several in critical condition (as of this writing, the terrorists have not been apprehended).

The creators of Charlie Hebdo have a history of satirizing all groups (more on the history of Charlie Hebdo here), and has made no exception for Islam. In the name of satire, everyone and everything was fair game. The creators knew that satirizing Islam could touch off a firestorm of controversy, as they found in 2006, when they reprinted cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed that had originally appeared in Danish daily Jyllands-Posten. Many in the Muslim world were furious and condemned what they perceived as “attack on Islam”. The Charlie Hebdo staff were also aware of the dangers in pointing their satirical barbs at Islam. In 2011, after publishing a cartoon of Mohammed titled “Charia Hebdo”, their office was fire-bombed. In spite of this attack (as well as being taken to court under anti-racism laws) the staff at Charlie Hebdo refused to back down from satirizing Mohammed or Islam.

And Islamic extremists don’t like that.

They don’t like it so much that they felt the need to murder 12 people. All because they poked fun at religion. As seen in the video below, the gunmen can be heard shouting “Allahu akbar” and according to police they exclaimed “we have avenged the prophet!”

Make no mistake. This attack was not about freedom of religion. It was not about being offended at a cartoon (though it looks that way on the surface). This attack was an attack on freedom of expression. On freedom of press. On the right of every human being to express the opinions of their choice without interference…to seek and receive information and ideas from any media…to impart that information and those ideas to others. This is what the Charlie Hebdo terrorists wanted to squelch. They want Islam placed on a pedestal above criticism or mockery. They want everyone to revere and show proper respect and deference to their religion. If you don’t do so of your own volition? They’ll put a gun to your head and force you. That’s religious totalitarianism at work. That’s the antithesis of freedom of expression.

Some might argue that the Charlie Hebdo creators brought this on themselves. That this tragedy is somehow their fault. That they brought this upon themselves:

Gérald Kierzec, 40, a casualty doctor on duty at Hôtel Dieu this morning was among the first on the scene at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, and described the “carnage” and “war scene” that met him.

He told The Telegraph’s Henry Samuel:

Quote
We were near Charlie Hebdo on a call when I heard ‘plan red’ on the emergency service radio. We rushed to the scene as this is the signal for an incident with lots of victims.

I could see this was a military-style attack. There was a first body lying in the lobby. Then I took the stairs which were covered in blood. When I got to the second floor, there were bodies lying one on top of another.

It was carnage with war wounds. There was blood everywhere. These were Kalashnikov injuries with huge bullets that create huge trauma in the victims’ faces and chests. They literally explode. As a civilian doctor who deals with car accidents and the like, I have never seen anything like it in my career, so many wounded by gunfire. This was clearly a terror strike.

I’m not one of those people. Such a response would be victim-blaming. The perpetrators of this massacre-the rocket launcher armed masked men-are the ones responsible for the violent murders. No one else.

Among those slain in the attacks are Stéphane Charbonnier, known as Charb, Jean Cabu, Georges Wolinski, and Bernard Verlhac, known as Tignous-all well-known French cartoonists. Deputy editor of the magazine, Bernard Maris, was among those slain. Several other staff members are reported to have been killed as well, though their names are not currently known. Also among the dead are two police officers, one of whom was brutally executed by one of the gunmen with a shot to the head.

Today’s violent intimidation tactics have sparked worldwide outrage (though in what will come as no surprise to anyone, Islamic extremists have applauded the attacks). Among those who have expressed sympathy with France, and condemnation of the attacks are several world leaders:

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman offered his condolences to the French people and government and said that Israel identified with the pain now being felt in France. Lieberman added that it was imperative not to give into terrorists and let them threaten the free world. The West must stand united and determined to fight this danger, he said.

U.S. President Barack Obama condemned the deadly shooting, calling it a terrorist attack against its ally, France. “We are in touch with French officials and I have directed my administration to provide any assistance needed to help bring these terrorists to justice,” Obama said in a statement.

British Prime Minister David Cameron described the attack as “sickening” and said Britain stood with France in the fight against terror.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also condemned the shooting, saying it was “not only an attack on French citizens, but on freedoms of press and speech.”

UN chief Ban Ki-moon voiced outrage at the “horrendous, unjustifiable and cold-blooded crime.”

The Vatican condemned the attack as “a double act of violence, abominable because it is both an attack against people as well as against freedom of the press,” said the Vatican’s deputy spokesman, Father Ciro Benedettini. He added that Pope Francis would likely issue a personal condemnation later on Wednesday by sending a message to the archbishop of Paris.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also came out against the attack, saying that he “strongly condemned and deplored the heinous crime that is in contradiction of religion and morality,” in a telegram sent to Hollande, Palestinian news agency Maan reported.

Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, also condemned Wednesday’s shooting attack. “…The kingdom therefore strongly condemns and denounces this cowardly terrorist act that is rejected by true Islamic religion as well as the rest of the religions and beliefs,” the Saudi state news agency SPA said, citing an official source.

Egypt’s leading Islamic authority, Al-Azhar, also condemned the attack, which killed at least 12 people including two police officers, the worst militant attack on French soil for decades.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon voiced outrage at the “horrendous, unjustifiable and cold-blooded crime.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin denounced the attack as a “cynical crime.”

“The fight against terrorism can only be effective in the form of a deepened international strategic partnership,” Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

the Media Institute (a Washington D.C.-based organization that counts among its trustees representatives from major media companies such as the Walt Disney Co., CBS, and 21st Century Fox):

“We are shocked and outraged by this mass murder, and we join with media organizations around the world in condemning this politically motivated attack,” the organization’s president, Patrick Maines, said in a statement.  “Once again journalists have given their lives for the cause of free speech and free press. Our sympathy goes out to the families of these victims. As threats, acts of intimidation and outright violence against the press continue to increase, we trust that journalists, backed by their news organizations, will stand strong as the torchbearers of freedom around the globe.”

moderate Muslims who refuse to allow these terrorists to be the face of Islam:

Hours after two policemen and 10 others were killed Wednesday in a shooting at the Paris offices of French satirical news magazine Charlie Hebdo — an apparent attack by Islamic militants — moderate Muslims have taken to Twitter to condemn the killings and deny any association between their faith and that of Islamic extremists.

“All day today, I’ve seen tweets and press releases from Muslim leaders from across the world, and Muslim religious institutions, condemning the Charlie Hebdo attacks. They’re not really obliged to, in my opinion,” H.A. Hellyer, a nonresident fellow with the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World at the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, told International Business Times in an email. “We haven’t seen the calls for Buddhists worldwide, for example, to condemn radical Buddhists in Myanmar.”

And when prominent Muslims do make public statements, he contended, their voices are rarely heard.

“Each time a terrorist atrocity takes place, the condemnations of Muslim mainstream figures are barely registered,” Hellyer said, pointing to recent statements by the Mufti Emeritus of Bosnia, French Muslim leaders, the Azhar University and Muslim public intellectuals who have condemned the attacks.

“And yet, we’re still doing stories about ‘Are moderate Muslims speaking out?’” Hellyer said.

Some moderate Muslims reacting on Twitter are using the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie – which translates to “I am Charlie” —  to condemn the attack. Some are outraged over what they see as an assault on free speech; others are concerned Muslims will be linked to an attack committed by extremists and become the target of discrimination.

and cartoonists from across the world:

That last image sums up my feelings too. I am Charlie Hebdo. So is anyone who values freedom of expression and freedom of the press for all.

The Charlie Hebdo massacre is an attack on freedom of expression

Quote of the day: Annie Laurie Gaylor

Thanks to my friend Iris Vander Pluym for highlighting this great quote by Annie Laurie Gaylor that perfectly sums up the problem with religion (the quote is part of a longer post by Gaylor, which can be found here):

Religion’s greatest “sin” lies in displacing human endeavor, thought, time, resources and efforts from this world, our only world, in order to exalt a highly unlikely, unknowable, unseeable, unprovable and unbelievable pretend afterworld. The only afterlife that ought to concern us is leaving our descendants (along with the other animals and life we share our planet with) a secure and pleasant future.

Quote of the day: Annie Laurie Gaylor

"Women are not the equal of men" says President of Turkey

That’s bad enough on its own.

That statement becomes even more ugly when you consider where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan uttered those words:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan once again waded into controversy on Monday when he told a mostly female audience at a summit on justice for women that women are not equal to men.

That’s right. At a summit on justice for women, those selfsame women have just been told by their President that they are not equal to men.  Surely the President has a strong argument (backed by Olympic-sized swimming pools of evidence) in support of his belief, no? An argument so strong that his critics have no choice but to concede defeat.

Not so much:

“You cannot put women and men on an equal footing,” he said. “It is against nature. They were created differently. Their nature is different. Their constitution is different.”

The good ole argument from nature as justification for denying women equality.  No one in the history of…well…ever, has heard that one (<—snarcasm).  In his eyes,  women can never hope to be the social, political, or economic equals of men.  Because, biology.  But he does think there is something women are good at.  A role that women excel at and which they are born for:

Erdogan, a devout Muslim, said women’s role in society is clear:

“Our religion has defined a position for women: Motherhood. Some people can understand this, while others can’t,” he said. “You cannot explain this to feminists because they don’t accept the concept of motherhood.”

All you women who want to chart the course of your own lives? All you women who want to be mothers and have a career?  Tough luck according to President Erdogan. You are bound by biology and the religion of Islam to be nothing more than mothers.

 ::remembers that Turkey is supposed to be a secular democracy::

I’m sure the women of Turkey have nothing to worry about. I’m sure the President was just voicing his beliefs, and his religious beliefs have no role in crafting public policy. Right?

"Women are not the equal of men" says President of Turkey

“Women are not the equal of men” says President of Turkey

That’s bad enough on its own.

That statement becomes even more ugly when you consider where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan uttered those words:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan once again waded into controversy on Monday when he told a mostly female audience at a summit on justice for women that women are not equal to men.

That’s right. At a summit on justice for women, those selfsame women have just been told by their President that they are not equal to men.  Surely the President has a strong argument (backed by Olympic-sized swimming pools of evidence) in support of his belief, no? An argument so strong that his critics have no choice but to concede defeat.

Not so much:

“You cannot put women and men on an equal footing,” he said. “It is against nature. They were created differently. Their nature is different. Their constitution is different.”

The good ole argument from nature as justification for denying women equality.  No one in the history of…well…ever, has heard that one (<—snarcasm).  In his eyes,  women can never hope to be the social, political, or economic equals of men.  Because, biology.  But he does think there is something women are good at.  A role that women excel at and which they are born for:

Erdogan, a devout Muslim, said women’s role in society is clear:

“Our religion has defined a position for women: Motherhood. Some people can understand this, while others can’t,” he said. “You cannot explain this to feminists because they don’t accept the concept of motherhood.”

All you women who want to chart the course of your own lives? All you women who want to be mothers and have a career?  Tough luck according to President Erdogan. You are bound by biology and the religion of Islam to be nothing more than mothers.

 ::remembers that Turkey is supposed to be a secular democracy::

I’m sure the women of Turkey have nothing to worry about. I’m sure the President was just voicing his beliefs, and his religious beliefs have no role in crafting public policy. Right?

“Women are not the equal of men” says President of Turkey

LGBT Link Round Up 11.6.14

Broken bones.

Chipped teeth.

Severe bruises and lacerations.

A young man was subjected to all that and more. Simply for being gay.

Two weeks ago, 17-year old Dylan Beard was lured to a skate park in Baytown, Texas by one friend, then beaten by others. They called him “faggot,” and “booty lover.” They broke his nose, punched him, kicked him in the ribs, and left him with  chipped teeth, severe bruises and lacerations on his knees, elbows and face.

Dylan’s mother says the local police aren’t doing enough, and she’s hired a lawyer who’s now asking the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate this as a hate crime.

It doesn’t surprise me that the police aren’t doing enough. For all that marriage equality appears to be an unstoppable juggernaut, there are still a great many hateful bigots in this country who would brutalize someone for being gay.

“We are asking for the Department Of Justice to step in and investigate this assault as a hate crime. It was planned to target him because he’s gay,” Quanell X, Beard’s attorney, said in a press conference yesterday. He accuses police of being negligent, ignoring witnesses, refusing statements, and insulting Dylan, just because he’s gay.

“It doesn’t make you a man, it doesn’t make you a tough guy, it doesn’t make you some real person to be proud of because you want to prey on a little kid because he’s gay,” Quanell X added. “Why don’t you pick on somebody your own size? Why won’t you pick on some men who you know will fight you back?”

“This little kid does not deserve to be treated like this. Whether you agree or disagree with his sexual orientation, or not, it does not give anyone the right to treat him like he’s less than a human being and rob him of his human and civil rights.”

Argh. There it is again. “Disagreeing” with someone’s sexual orientation is like “disagreeing” with someone being Asian. Or “disagreeing” with someone being left-handed. Or “disagreeing” with someone being blind. This is part of who we are. You can not like us because we’re gay, but how do you disagree with how someone exists? I mean, don’t get me wrong. The overall point of the lawyer is still correct, but some of the language used is problematic. I’d like this notion of ‘disagreeing with someone’s sexuality’ die a horrible death.

* * * *

Speaking of ‘disagreeing with someone’s sexual orientation’, Lea DeLaria of Orange Is the New Black shut down a subway street preacher ranting about the ‘sin of homosexuality’:

Judging by the video, DeLaria — who is also considered the first openly gay comedian to appear on television in a 1993 episode of The Arsenio Hall Show — seems to have been riding the M train when she epically shut down the homophobic preacher. “You have no right! Go to another train,” she told the man, before adding, “Get off this train. Other people believe other things and have every right to believe other things on this planet and in this world. We do not have to be force-fed this man’s religious beliefs. Jesus never said for you to do this – ever! […] Don’t come at me because I went to f***ing Catholic school for 12 years and I know every line.”

You go Lea! I’d love to see more people speak up in this way.  Publicly criticizing bigots is a great way to marginalize them. If they’re not going to change their views, let’s shove them to the fringes of society.

* * * *

6th Circuit Court rules that states may ban same-sex marriage

In a continuation of conservative values slamming Americans this week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit just ruled that states can in fact ban same-sex marriage.

The ruling, while not unexpected, is still stunning.

In a cautionary warning that clearly does not understand history, the Court claimed “the people,” and not lawyers or judges, should be allowed “resolve new social issues like this one.”

I really appreciate the Court’s decision that my rights and the rights of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people across the country should be determined by popular vote. I wonder what these judges would have said about interracial marriage. I guess they’d have said that should be up to the people as well. What about women’s right to vote? Should that have been up to people as well? Or how about slavery? That one should have been up to the states, no?

Fuck these conservative shitstains!

You can read the Court’s ruling here.

You can also read the scathing dissent by Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey here.

* * * *

MO Attorney General appeals ruling that allows same-sex couples to marry in St. Louis

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, who has gubernatorial aspirations, says he personally supports marriage equality but has chosen to defend Missouri’s ban. Koster sought a temporary restraining order to stop further marriages, but it was denied by St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison after city officials voluntarily agreed not to issue any more licenses to same-sex couples without first notifying attorney general’s office and the court. Attorney General Koster then sued the city of St. Louis.

Yesterday, Judge Burlison heard the attorney general’s challenge to the city’s act of civil disobedience and ruled that denying the freedom to marry to same-sex couples in Missouri is unconstitutional. No stay was placed on his ruling, so the weddings began immediately – but only in the city itself, not in all of Missouri.

Today, KSDK reported that Attorney General Koster has filed an appeal, saying  in a press release that the issue needed to be resolved by the Missouri Supreme Court. It’s not unexpected, but Koster would not be the first attorney general to decide not to fight on – perhaps he is thinking more about the governorship in 2016 than the hundreds of couples waiting to be married.

(bolding mine)

If you’re defending the ban, you’re not in support of marriage equality fuckface!

* * * *

Public businesses refusing to serve gay customers isn’t limited to the United States. A couple in Belfast who own and operate the Christian run Ashers Bakery refused to make a cake for LGBT activist Gareth Lee:

LGBTI rights activist Gareth Lee ordered a cake from Christian-run Ashers Baking Company in May for an International National Day Against Homophobia party held by QueerSpace Belfast.

In a 16-page letter dated 27 October, the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland accused Ashers of discriminating against Lee on the basis of his sexual orientation and demanded an apology and compensation within seven days.

A commission spokeman yesterday said the company did not believe it had acted unlawfully and would ‘accept service of a civil bill in regard to this matter.’

‘In its letter the Commission stated that they would prefer not to have to litigate these issues and sought an acknowledgement that there has been an unlawful breach of the equality laws and an assurance that this will not be repeated,’ he said.

‘It made clear that the claimant will be seeking only modest damages for the upset and inconvenience caused and that, failing this, a civil bill will be issued.’

Shop staff initially took Lee’s order for a cake decorated with a picture of Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie in an embrace and the slogan, ‘Support Gay Marriage.’

However, the owners of the family-run business later called him to explain why they could not fulfil his request and offered him a refund of his deposit.

In a statement on the website of Christian Institute (CI), which is supporting the family, general manager Dan McArthur said, ‘We feel that the Equality Commission are pursuing us because of our beliefs that marriage is between a man and a woman.

‘It feels like a David and Goliath battle because on one hand we have the Equality Commission who are a public body, they’re funded by taxpayers’ money, they have massive resources at their disposal whereas we are a small family business and we have limited resources at our disposal.’

‘We’re continuing to hold to the stand that we took originally because we believe it’s biblical, we believe it’s what God would want us to do, and we also think that if we do cave in to the Equality Commission at this point it’ll put pressure on other citizens who are defending their view of traditional marriage.’

Once again, it’s “my sincerely held religious beliefs should allow me to discriminate against whomever I choose, despite the fact that my company is a public entity”. These people need to realize that they can still continue to believe that marriage is between a man and a woman, but they cannot discriminate against LGBT people. Christian privilege on display once again.

LGBT Link Round Up 11.6.14