Categories
Commentary

DAHOF: South Dakota Rep. Michael Clark

Not every selection for the Dumb Ass Hall Of Fame is an idiot, dotard, or buffoon. Some, like this week’s honoree, are just brain-numbed by hate and ignorance.

America In Decline, From Facebook.
Bigoted SD Rep. Michael Clark doesn’t deserve to be anywhere near the tribute to these great leaders.

The morality of the nation crumbles around us, hurtling toward a precipice of as-yet-unimaginable depth, spurred by the pubescent leadership of our President, the jibbering sycophants who surround him, and the spineless cowards of the Senate and Congress, most of whom are more than intelligent enough to see what this man is, but refuse to act for reasons both partisan and personal. I awake each morning, take my pills, and empty my bladder beneath a cloud of dread: what terrible things have transpired since the day before. What has the skulking boy king said, what has he done or, most often, what excremental feats of churlish impertinence have the lunks and sneering bounders emboldened by his example been up to?

Another cop killing an unarmed black man? Running him down with a patrol car? Shooting him seven or eight times in the back? Gunning him down for closing a door–a fragile blue ego more important than a warrant and the Fourth Amendment? Or maybe another ally insulted? Another adversary provoked? Another treaty broken? Another bold faced lie maintained in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary? Another denial of that lie, despite video?

Given all of this and so much more, I am barely surprised to hear that South Dakota stateScreenshot(1) Representative Michael Clark tried to press the argument, that businesses should be allowed to turn down people based on the color of their skin. As my dad used to say, “I shit you not.”

In a heady stupor of exclusionist victory dancing following the Supreme Court ruling in favor of a homophobic Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple because of his religious beliefs, Clark boasted on Facebook that the decision was a “win for freedom of speech and freedom of religion.” Other FB users called him on his gleeful embrace of bigotry, and the intrepid lawmaker doubled down.

“It is his business,” Clark wrote in a comment. “He should have the opportunity to run his business the way he wants. If he wants to turn away people of color, then [that’s] his choice.”

We’ve seen this mindset before. On buses in Tennessee. In schools in Arkansas. At lunch civil-rightscounters in Alabama.

It is modestly affirming that a furor quickly built, on Facebook and among the general public and first regional, then national news organizations began covering the incident. At first he tried to frame his bigotry as standard anti-government rhetoric, asserting that  business owners only need serve certain segments of society and that the market would ultimately determine if the business succeeded or failed. The negative comments and press coverage built up, as some of reminded this attorney and elected lawmaker of a not-so-irrelevant document called The Civil Rights Act of 1964. Predictably, the heat was too much for tough cowboy Clark, who ultimately deleted the post on Tuesday. He said he had “jumped in on it a little bit too fast,” the Argus-Leader reported.

ScreenshotNot long  after, he apologized via email to a reporter for the Leader, followed by a glib, insincere retraction on Facebook. “I am apologizing for some of my Facebook comments. “I would never advocate discriminating against people based on their color or race.”

But in an interview with the Argus-Leader, Clark said he believed that business owners should be able to turn away certain customers if they would otherwise violate their religious beliefs. “If it’s truly his strongly based belief, he should be able to turn them away,” Clark told the Leader. “People shouldn’t be able to use their minority status to bully a business. The vote of the dollar is very strong,” he said.

I’m still parsing which is more disgusting, the unapologetic awfulness of the President and his Trumpkins, or these slimy, cynical clones who imitate his success playing to the lowest common denominators, shouting whatever vile and hateful bile they happen to indexbe regurgitating at any particular moment? It is a tough contest indeed. Trump is culpable for setting the tone, but they’re all playing the same game: vomit out sinful rhetoric to the bleating masses and keep pressing–then either deny it completely and blame the press for making it up, or mutter a dishonest, heartless apology rife with crocodile tears and move on. “I didn’t say that. But if you have tape that shows I did, then I certainly didn’t mean it.”

Well,  Mr. Clark, we’re not buying what you’re selling. You don’t get to worm and squirm out of it with a cynical “I’m sorry,” so take ownership for the man you’ve become. Burn a cross, beat a gay man–be your honest self. Your soul is already exposed before your neighbors, your friends, and especially your God.

It is easy to say, “I would never advocate discriminating against people based on their 1963-derechos-civilescolor or race” but the simple fact is that yes, you would, because yes, you did. It’s not like we haven’t seen your kind before.

Categories
Commentary

Indiana State Codifies Hate

Indiana_no_gays_allowedIn a shocking (to civilized human beings) development, Indiana Governor Mike Pence flourished his burning cross ballpoint pen and signed Senate Bill 101, the ” Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” a so-called “religious freedom” law which forbids state or local governments from “substantially burdening a person’s ability to exercise their religion–unless the government can show it has a compelling interest and that the action is the least-restrictive means of achieving it.”

Just what the hell does that mean?  In short, it means that as of July 1, any business in the state of Indiana can deny services, employment, or acknowledgement of anyone based on their religious beliefs.  Practically speaking, it is a license to practice bigotry.

Senate leaders say conerns just a "misunderstanding."
Senate leaders say conerns just a “misunderstanding.”

Governor Pence, denying that the law does any such thing, said “This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination I would have vetoed it.”  Leaders of the Republican-controlled senate called concerns nothing more than a “misunderstanding.”

But Eric Miller, the Founder and Executive Director of Advance America stated, a leading supporter of the legislation, said  “It is vitally important to protect religious freedom in Indiana.  It’s the right thing to do.  It was therefore important to pass Senate Bill 101 in 2015 in order to help protect churches, Christian businesses and individuals from those who want to punish them because of their Biblical beliefs!”

Because the 85% of people in the state of Indiana who identify as Christian suffer daily at the hands of the overbearing, rights-denying, freed0m-hating, gods-damning unwashed 15 who haven’t been bathed in the blood of the lamb, so to speak.

A press release from the ironically titled Advance America continued “Churches, Christian businesses and individuals deserve protection from those who support homosexual marriages and those who support government recognition and approval of gender identity (men who dress as women).  SB 101 will help provide the protection…Christian bakers, florists and photographers should not be punished for refusing to participate in a homosexual marriage!”

The bill passed despite loud public outcry from citizen groups, celebrities (including Indianapolis Colts Punter Pat McAfee, who grew up about half an hour down the road from my home–good for you, Pat!), businesses, the NCAA and the sponsors of several major conventions that bring millions of dollars to the state have expressed serious concerns, not only for the economic impact of this bill but for the safety and welfare of conventioneers, business persons, employees, and others who might suffer the soon-to-be legal wrath of Christian extremists looking for payback after losing their struggle against equal marriage rights last year.

CBB7BK6UgAAFfXcIt is telling that Pence signed the bill during a private ceremony, which was barred to both public and press, in his Statehouse office just before 10 a.m. Thursday. He was joined by supportive lawmakers, Franciscan monks and nuns, orthodox Jews, and some of the state’s most powerful lobbyists on conservative social issues.

While this bill is aimed at punishing and denying civil rights to homosexuals, I’m curious what happens the first time, say, a Muslim store owner denies service to a Jewish patron, or perhaps a Hindi restaurant owner refuses to seat a Muslim–or, for that matter, a southern Baptist hotelier denies lodging to Catholic?  It is a slippery slope, once we step away from the ideal of equality–I mean, what are the Scientologists going to do with this law?  I shudder to think.

It’s going to suck to live in some corners of Indiana for a while, but supporters of equal rights should take comfort in the absolute surety that bigoted business owners in all but the most insular communities will quickly feel the financial effects of their discriminatory practices.  Indeed, the main reason that shameful laws like this pass is because it requires the average person to sit quietly by and let the professional hate-mongers who make careers of sewing discord do the dirty work.

I very much hope that a network is quickly formed to call out the hidden bullies who will pick and choose when to use religion as a cudgel to wield against their neighbors. In fact, I’d love to see someone call out businesses in the State of Indiana who intend to adopt discriminatory policies because–you know what?–most of them are going to be too cowardly to actually see it through, let alone admit it publicly.

And, once again, I offer this old rhetorical chestnut:  WWJD do, brothers and sisters?

And by the way, fellow Pennsylvanians–get off your high horses, we’ve got one of these laws too.

Categories
link

“Don’t Sneak”–a great story from NPR

The entire StoryCorps program is pretty damned awesome.

http://www.npr.org/2014/06/27/325917505/dont-sneak-dads-unexpected-advice-to-his-gay-son-in-the-50s

Categories
Commentary Quote

Quotes From The Dark Side: “Reverend” Pat Robertson

One of my all-time favorites:

”The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.”
—Pat Robertson

Categories
Quote

Best Damn Quotes #8 Armistead Maupin

Armistead Maupin

“I know I can’t tell you what it’s like to be gay. But I can tell you what it’s not. It’s not hiding behind words, Mama. Like family and decency and Christianity.”
Armistead Maupin
Categories
Quote

Best Damn Quotes #7 Hannah Harrington

Hannah Harrington

“I hate organized religion. I hate that people use it to justify their crappy, bigoted beliefs.”
Hannah Harrington, Saving June
Categories
Uncategorized

No Homosexuals Allowed!

Just when you think people can’t get any worse, a deeper and more sinister evil oozes out of the black hearts of men.

They’re at it again. Last week I ripped the state of Kansas after it’s House of Representatives passed a bill that, if it becomes law, will bring segregatioinking institutionalized bigotry to The Sunflower State.  The good news, however, was that so many good, angry people are putting so much heat on Kansas’ Governor and State Senate that passage of their bill in it’s present form is not likely to pass–not if the Republican incumbents have any hopes of an easy re-election.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/02/14/1277718/-Kansas-State-Senators-face-Backlash-and-plot-retreat-A-Report-from-the-Capital

gay-hate-signNow, only a few days later, similar laws have raced through both the Arizona House and Senate, leaving that state teetering on the edge of a full-blown, retrograde, hate-fueled Jim Crow reality.  The question is: who, in present day, twenty-first century America, thinks like this?

beardless-Robertsons-490x367
Cast members of Duck Dynasty before their Hee Haw make-overs.

It’s rhetorical question, of course–I’ve already pointed at the Westboro Baptist Church, and that Dick Duck Dynasty yahoo made a splash not too long ago spouting his own noxious ideas for revision of The Declaration of Independence and, sadly enough, a small but loud minority of Americans, most of them lazy Christians either too lazy to read what Jesus actually said about treating other people, or too filled with fear and anger to care.  Not that he had anything at all to say about gays.

I suppose that it is natural and expected that bigots push back against the progress our nation has achieved in the past few years, both in securing equal rights in many states, and defending those gains, but I have a hard time taking it.  For most of my life, I was largely ambivalent to the political aspects of sexuality, accepting but not particularly invested, but the older I become the more angry I become, the more annoyed by the inanity of it all.  What is more small and petty than targeting an individual for social and political exclusion on the basis of who they happen to love?  Why can’t people keep their hate to themselves, mind their own business, and get on with their own lives?

The justification is ridiculous–it would be laugh-out-loud hilarious if it oppressedchristiansweren’t so awful. According to the fiends responsible for these attempts to undermine the constitution, requiring Christians–or anyone who adopts a religion or belief that hates homosexuality–to treat gays as actual human beings and citizens, is tantamount to religious persecution.  So, in essence, the vast Christian majority of the USA is supposedly being discriminated by the small percentage of people who are gay.  I’d honestly had no idea that the faith was perched on such tenuous ground.

On the plus side, these backwards-assed redneck regional political assaults on liberty won’t go unnoticed on a national scale, and while they’ll undoubtably find support in aging, rural fundamentalists the Republican party–which just can’t seem to catch a break despite a train wreck of recent Presidential missteps–is going find itself guilty by association with young voters, most of whom don’t see what the big deal is, but will definitely wonder why so much time and effort is being devoted to the persecution of a tiny segment of the population, when young people are facing some of the worst economic realities in recent history.

stewart

Categories
Uncategorized

Jim Crow, Thy Middle Name Is Kansas

I’ve been through Kansas a few times–it doesn’t seem like a bad place: Kansas-Sunflowerslots of sunflowers to go with the wheat, though it’s awfully flat, which puts that whole tornado alley/Wizard of Oz thing is perspective.  One of my very favorite people loved Kansas, and while he lived there only briefly I’ll forever attach his affection to the place.  My wife and I even spent an absolutely wonderful night camping under the stars at Cedar Bluff State Park, about a thousand years ago.  I’ve followed some of the weirder stuff to come out of that state in the years since, specifically the science vs. bible new earth foolishness, but I have to admit I did little more than snicker a little and write it off to old-fashioned stubbornness.

flatHow backwards could they be?  After all, Kansas was a fertile field for abolitionists during the civil war, and some of the fiercest fighting during the war took place in Kansas and Missouri, as militias, guerrillas, and old school n’er do wells on both sides fought tooth and nail over Kansas and it’s status as a free state. Indeed, the term Jayhawker, which has become synonymous with “Kansan” originally referenced the fierce anti-slavery John_Brown_Paintingirregulars who fought against the primarily Missouri-based pro-slavery “Border Ruffians.”  This is a state which the legendary John Brown, one of America’s greatest sons, called home, and where his image–and the freedom he has come to represent–is immortalized on the very structure of the Kansas Capital building.

It befuddles me to no end that the state of Kansas would gleefully reject and spit upon that legacy by embracing a set of laws that would effectively establish homosexuals as second class citizens, making it legal for Kansas businesses or individuals to treat them as Black Americans were treated in the south during the days of Jim Crow.  Indeed, the Kansas law may be worse, as it also limits–and in many cases eliminates–the options for redress against such open bigotry.

The law, Kansas Bill 2453, not only carries us backwards a hundred years, but it allows bigots to act on their suspicions, not just facts. Should a business owner decide that I might be gay, he can throw me out on my ear–or you.  Or your parents.  Your children.  Anything goes in a bill that is so purposefully vague that it can be twisted to validate just about any bigotry short of physical violence.

The entire movement is so ludicrous–the vast majority of white Christian Americans are being represented as being religiously oppressed by the relatively small number of homosexuals.  Imagine a room full of 100 people, 96 of whom start beating the shit out of the other 4 percent.  Now, imagine that 96 percent claiming that they are oppressed by the 4 percent who are their victims.

Ironically, folks my age and older will remember when being on the side of “the Russians” was a terrible thing to be constantly summoned by conservatives. Well, where are the Kansan bigots finding their strongest support right now?  You guessed it: Russia.  Way to go, comrades.

On the other hand, Kansas is home to the Westboro Baptist Church–a weird-ass hate-cult that tortures the bible to justify their message of 56363689venomous, violent animosity towards homosexuals and–oddly enough– American war dead.  Yes, Westboro has reserved a place in what Shepherd Book called “that special part of hell”, but who would have thought that the Republicans of the Kansas House of Representatives would go ahead and establish a place for themselves in the same zip code.

Now, I’m reading that it’s not quite a done deal.  The Kansas House got a free one–nobody really expected that these crackpots would actually go out and make themselves look like such a band of backwardsassed buffoons, so they didn’t hear a lot of protesting before the vote–but since then the sky has sort of opened up, raining down a fierce storm of dissent and putting the fear God (more irony) into the Kansas Senate, who are scrambling for ways to be rational and vote against this debacle without alienating the extreme right-wing teat upon which so many of them feed.

This doesn’t change the fact that this happened, or that these yahoos managed to push this through the house with a convincing margin of success.  Rational people aren’t going to forget this, nor will the growing reputation of Kansas at a laughingstock diminish any time soon.  It’s my hope, as it always is when the crazy pull off a coup, is that the resulting backlash will propel the mainstream further towards the future, but as the maxim goes: only time will tell.  It’s quite possible, from what we’ve seen this far, that Kansas will collapse in on itself so completely, so irrevocably, that it condenses into a super-dense black hole no bigger than a pea.

Categories
Uncategorized

Belated Congratulations: Hawaii, Illinois and….

art.same.sex.marriage.gi

Hawaii and Illinois recently moved on legislation that will make them the 15th and 16th states to end discrimination against same-sex couples who wish to marry.  To them I say, “congratulations–it’s about damn time.”

I’ve mentioned before that I didn’t wish politics to intrude too heavily on this blog–not that I’m shy about my views, which pretty much amount to conservatives thinking I’m a godless liberal, and liberals thinking I’m some sort of–well, they don’t know–like a Kraken or something, a beast from the deep eager to eat up (sacred) cows and the village children whole and raw.  The thing is, marriage shouldn’t be a political topic. It’s a human thing.  We live in times of war, violence, and hatred across so many lines–social, ethnic, religious, political–who are we to deny the full measure of whatever love others might squeeze from our shriveled husk of a society?

For half of my life I didn’t give much thought to homophobia beyond a sort of smug, thoughtless disdain, but a series of acquaintances with gay folks gave me pause to consider their lives beyond the general.  I don’t know what I expected, but I quickly realized that most of their lives were exactly like mine, except for the part where a small but loud segment of the population despised them for no other reason than who they happened to love.

And that made a lot of sense?

One day I asked a friend of mine what she thought about the whole “homosexuality is a lifestyle choice” argument that was then the rant du jour of conservatives, particularly Christians.  She laughed bitterly, “the last time I went home, my parents prayed for me to find my way back from sin. At the dinner table. In high school I was Most Likely To Succeed and Valedictorian, now I’m the lesbian.  People point at me in the grocery store.  If I took someone I loved back there, it might not be safe to walk down the street holding hands.  She surely wouldn’t be welcome in my parents’ home.  I’m not ashamed about who I am, but there are times when I feel like I was seeded at the back of the pack, you know?  That’s nature–but would I choose it?  Are you kidding? I envy straight people, you put your arm around your girlfriend and walk down the street and everyone smiles and thinks: ah, young love!  How sweet!  I get obscene and demeaning catcalls and McDonald’s milkshakes thrown at me.”

phyllis-lyon-and-del-martin-in-2004This shot of the wedding of  Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin is one of my favorite pictures, not only because deep beneath my scaly, misanthropic crust I’m a romantic who cries at the end of Miracle on 34th Street and Love, Actually every god-damned Christmas, but because–hell, I don’t even need to say it.  Look at the way they look at each other!

And yet, by conservative ideology, these two are a grave threat to “traditional” marriage–like the three sacred, holy matrimonies Newt Gingrich has enjoyed.  Now, I can’t speak for those conservatives, but my wife and I aren’t afraid our marriage will be undermined by a GAY MARRIAGE OPPONENT HOLDS SIGN IN PROTEST OUTSIDE STATEHOUSEcouple of old women with matching rings.  I’m not even afraid of those leather people at the Folsom Street Fair.  (In the interest of full disclosure, I live in rural Pennsylvania and had to look that up on google–but doesn’t the reference make me sound, I dunno, uh, worldly?) I am, however afraid of this guy to the right, mostly because he reminds me a lot of what I’ve heard from these guys:

kkk

They thought God was on their side, too.  In fact, here are some quotes for you:

“Nature’s law, which is a creation of YAHWEH, dictates that kind reproduce after kind. The different people of the world were never supposed to mix. Even the different animals and species of our world practice natures law of reproduction “Kind after Kind”…

(Our) belief on homosexuality is not homophobic, but like all subjects, it’s based on our biblical beliefs. So what does the bible teach us about these perverted lifestyles. In Leviticus 18:22 we read “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind it is abomination.” Also in Leviticus 20:13 “If a man also lie with mankind as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination, they shall surely be put to death, their blood shall be upon them.” In Deuteronomy 23:17 we read “There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel.”.

Its extremely clear what our Father in heaven has to say about homosexuals. Other Old Testament verses on the subject can be found in 1 Kings 14:24 and 15:12, II Kings 23:7, Isaiah 3:9 and Jeremiah 23:14. There are more verses in the Bible on this subject, but I think I have made my point. Some say the New Testament does not address homosexuality at all. So, let us read 1 Corinthians 6:9 “No ye not that the unrightous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind.” Also in Jude 7, Romans 1:22-32 and 1 Timothy 1:10. By the way, for those that don’t know the meaning of the word effeminate it means a man that takes on the characteristics of a woman.

So, as you can see, if any Judeo-Christian minister does not preach against homosexuality, he is a liar and a deceiver. Homosexuality, like a cancer, must be cut out of our society or it will grow until it kills the body, like a cancer. This is not the words of (this essay), this is the word of Yahweh.”

Sound familiar?  I hope not, because it is lifted directly from a KKK propaganda tract–though I just read some very similar words from a Baptist minister whose church is 10 minutes from my doorstep.

So, with that in mind, to the remaining states, I say:  Who’s Got Next?