The week began with Aprils Fools Day.
Google suckered folks in with Google Nose, a new feature that would supposedly allow users to search the Internet by smell – which seems like a really neat idea until you realize that you would be searching the Internet. By smell.
Twitter outraged the blogosphere by announcing that they would start charging $5 a month for vowels – cheapskates could still use the free version of the micro-blogging service, apparently now renamed “Twttr.”
Video sharing site Vimeo changed its name to “Vimeow” and declared that they would traffic exclusively in LOLcat videos – frankly, I thought that might be an improvement, but then I realized I was just being catty, in a dogged sort of way.
The British newspaper The Guardian announced new augmented-reality glasses with “anti-bigotry technology” that when used with the print version of the paper were supposed to filter out bias – Rupert Murdock attempted something similar, but when the glasses were used with his media, readers complained that they could only see a blank sheet of cheap paper…
NPR ran a piece about an oral history project dedicated to preserving the war stories of US Navy dolphins (now retired to a water park in Belleville, Illinois), while lamenting how Rescue Bunnies from the Korean War were largely forgotten.
And, of course, The Onion, The Daily Currant, and a number of other humor sites managed to fool the usual number of people.
You’d think folks would catch on by now.
But in all fairness, it turns out that distinguishing humorous satire from serious reality isn’t as nearly as easy as it would seem.
For example, did you know that you can’t buy a Tesla electric car in Texas?
Tesla has a “gallery” in Houston where they can display their cars, but there is no store or dealership in the Lone Star state because Tesla isn’t allowed to sell cars in Texas. There’s actually a state law that prohibits the company from selling its automobiles.
April fools, right?
Texas is afraid of what would happen to capitalism if established auto-dealerships had to compete with Tesla’s direct-to-market business model. So the state government prevents Tesla and other similar car manufactures from selling their products there.
Viva the Free Market! Texas style. Remember, Folks, it’s only Nazi Socialism when Obama does it.
OK, how about this? Which one of the following statements refers to same sex marriage?
"They cannot possibly have any progeny, and such a fact sufficiently justifies those laws which forbid the marriage of _____ ."
"By the laws of Massachusetts ____marriages between _____ are forbidden as criminal. Why forbidden? Simply because natural instinct revolts at it as wrong."
"Although there is no verse in the Bible that dogmatically says that _____ should not_____ marry, the whole plan of God as He has dealt with_____ down through the ages indicates that_____ marriage is not best for man."
"I believe that the tendency to classify all persons who oppose _____ as 'prejudiced' is in itself a prejudice. Nothing of any significance is gained by such a marriage."
Well? Which one?
Ha! April Fools! It’s a trick question – none of the quotes refer to same sex marriage.
All four quotes were made in reference to inter-racial marriage. The first one comes from an 1883 Missouri court case, State v. Jackson, which argued that laws forbidding marriage between blacks and whites were fully justified because such “marriages” “couldn’t possibly” produce children. The second quote is from Senator James Rood Doolittle (D-WI) in 1863, who despite being a big supporter of President Lincoln’s Civil War policies, including Emancipation, wasn’t a big fan of seeing blacks equal to whites and who strongly opposed ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment. The third is a statement issued by Bob Jones University in 1998, which said that even though it wasn’t specifically mentioned in the bible, inter-racial marriage was still contrary to God’s plan – apparently God forgot to mention a number of important issues when handing down His Law, but, as usual when it comes to this sort of thing, I digress. And the last quote is from a Friend of the Court Briefing filed during Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court Case that finally legalized inter-racial marriage as a civil right.
Funny thing, swap in “same-sex” or “gay” for the deleted race-specific words, and those quotes can be found nearly verbatim in any statement opposed to gay marriage today.
The more things change, right?
Speaking of which, Georgia GOP Chairwoman Sue Everhart warned that straight people might enter into fraudulent gay marriages to obtain insurance benefits.
"You may be as straight as an arrow, and you may have a friend that is as straight as an arrow. Say you had a great job with the government where you had this wonderful health plan. I mean, what would prohibit you from saying that you’re gay, and y’all get married and still live as separate, but you get all the benefits? I just see so much abuse in this it’s unreal. I believe a husband and a wife should be a man and a woman, the benefits should be for a man and a woman. There is no way that this is about equality. To me, it’s all about a free ride.”
Yes, you read that correctly, Everhart is worried that straight people might get gay married solely in order to get healthcare.
Everhart is convinced that same-sex marriage is really about getting a free-ride on the government. Liberals, you know, always looking for a free-ride.
Except, of course, that part where even if you did get gay married, or even regular married, just so you could get insurance benefits, well, see, you’re still paying for them – so the whole fraud thing doesn’t actually hold water, but again, I digress.
In the same interview, Everhart went on to say that she couldn’t understand how two gay people could even have sex.
"If it was natural, they would have the equipment to have a sexual relationship."
I’ll pause for a moment so y’all can fully savor the part where a Southern Evangelical conservative finally agrees with Bill Clinton that he did not, in fact, have sex with that woman.
What’s that you say?
How? How is it different? They might have had “the equipment” as specified by Sue Everhart, but Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinski weren’t using it any differently than a same sex couple might and if it’s not sex between members of the same sex, then it’s not sex between members of the opposite sex.
You can’t have your intern and eat her too. Or rather you can – if you’ve got the equipment. I’m just saying.
Listen, here’s the thing, if you’re really, and I mean really, worried that straight people might have to resort to getting gay married in order to obtain affordable healthcare, well, there’s an obvious solution for that: mandated universal healthcare with a single payer option.
You know, like they have in civilized countries.
But there I go, digressing. Again.
And as long as we’re talking about God and the South, Republicans in North Carolina want to declare a state religion.
House Joint Resolution 494, filed by State Reps. Harry Warren and Carl Ford, would refuse to acknowledge the US Constitution’s separation of church and state in North Carolina. And in fact, if you read the resolution closely you’ll see that it goes beyond just the First Amendment, Warren, Ford and nine other Republican members of the North Carolina House want the right to refuse Federal Court rules on any Constitutional topic:
"The Constitution of the United States does not grant the federal government and does not grant the federal courts the power to determine what is or is not constitutional; therefore, by virtue of the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, the power to determine constitutionality and the proper interpretation and proper application of the Constitution is reserved to the states and to the people”.
"Each state in the union is sovereign and may independently determine how that state may make laws respecting an establishment of religion.”
“SECTION 1. The North Carolina General Assembly asserts that the Constitution of the United States of America does not prohibit states or their subsidiaries from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.”
“SECTION 2. The North Carolina General Assembly does not recognize federal court rulings which prohibit and otherwise regulate the State of North Carolina, its public schools or any political subdivisions of the State from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.”
I wonder if this means the Second Amendment could be considered null and void in North Carolina too?
A state religion.
Damn those stinking Muslims and their crazy beliefs, trying to impose Sharia law on us, trying to force Islam down our throats! They’re trying to turn America into Iran! Those Taliban bastar…
They’re Christians you say?
Oh, well, then that’s totally different.
I’ll pause so you can ponder for a moment why it’s actually not, any different, I mean.
A state religion.
Listen, I’d be all for it if it was Frisbeetarianism (you believe that when you die, your soul gets caught in a gust of wind and lands on the roof and you can’t get it down without a step ladder. There’s also Killer Frisbeetarianism, but that’s practiced mostly by college kids).
Oh, right, you eat the flesh of your 2000 year old dead prophet and symbolically drink his blood, but Frisbeetarianism is silly. Got it.
Fine, let’s just see what the North Carolina Constitution says about this, shall we?
Article 1, Section 5 of the North Carolina Constitution: "Every citizen of this State owes paramount allegiance to the Constitution and government of the United States, and no law or ordinance of the State in contravention or subversion thereof can have any binding force."
Well, shit, y’all.
So much for that idea.
But, hey, at least recently announced GOP efforts to “reach out” to Democrat voters are making advances on other fronts.
Like the one where Alaska Republican Representative Don Young referred to Latinos publicly as “wetbacks” on state radio. Ouch.
Like the one where an Idaho high school teacher found himself in hot water this week for using a controversial word during a tenth grade biology class on human reproduction. That word was “vagina.” Because when you’re discussing human reproduction, you’re not allowed to name the naughty bits – in Idaho, kids aren’t allowed to learn the names for their various body parts until they join the military and get some shore leave in Thailand. Apparently the teacher was supposed to tell the kids that babies are found under cabbage leaves or delivered by FEDEX.
Like the one where Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus wrote an article for the Uber conservative right-wing website Red State in which he declared President Obama, and indeed all Democrats, guilty of mass infanticide.
Now Priebus didn’t out and out accuse liberals of cheerfully tossing screaming babies into the ovens, not exactly. What he said was that Democrats support funding for Planned Parenthood. And Planned Parenthood loves killing babies. Ergo Democrats believe newborns have no rights and can be killed without consequence. Because obviously that’s what liberals believe, right?
“The President, the Senate Majority Leader, the House Democratic Leader, and the Chair of the Democratic National Committee (in whose home state this hearing occurred) made funding Planned Parenthood an issue in the 2012 campaign. They should now all be held to account for that outspoken support. If the media won’t, then voters must ask the pressing questions: Do these Democrats also believe a newborn has no rights? Do they also endorse infanticide?”
I know what you’re thinking: What a minute, how did we get from abortion, i.e. terminating a fetus in the uterus, to killing newborns – which by definition exist alive outside the womb?
Because that would indeed be infanticide.
Yeah. See Priebus is playing at the camel and the tent (um, okay, that’s a bad metaphor, but you know what I mean). He quotes an exchange between Alisa LaPolt Snow, a lawyer for Planned Parenthood, and Florida lawmakers who were arguing a bill before the legislature that would require emergency life-saving medical care for a fetus, if that fetus was removed from the uterus and inadvertently remained alive during an abortion procedure.
Rep. Jim Boyd: “If a baby is born on a table as a result of a botched abortion, what would Planned Parenthood want to have happen to that child that is struggling for life?”
Snow: “We [Planned Parenthood] believe that any decision that’s made should be left up to the woman, her family, and the physician.”
Rep. Daniel Davis: “What happens in a situation where a baby is alive, breathing on a table, moving? What do your physicians do at that point?”
Snow: “I do not have that information. I am not a physician. I am not an abortion provider. So I do not have that information.”
Rep. Jose Oliva: “You stated that a baby born alive on a table as a result of a botched abortion that that decision should be left to the doctor and the family. Is that what you’re saying?”
Snow: “That decision should be between the patient and the health care provider.”
Oliva: “I think that at that point the patient would be the child struggling on the table, wouldn’t you agree?”
Snow: “That’s a very good question. I really don’t know how to answer that. I would be glad to have some more conversations with you about this.”
Somehow Priebus gets from “I don’t know, I don’t have the expertise to answer your question, you may be correct, you maybe incorrect, but I’d be happy to discuss this unusual situation with with you further” to “OMG! OBAMA IS KILLING BABIES!”
But then it always comes down to Obama killing babies, doesn’t it?
I don’t know. I’m no particular fan of abortion, but like Planned Parenthood’s argument I don’t see where it’s my decision to make.
I think the people making the decision should be the same people who made the baby – with medical professionals in an advisory role. I think the person who owns the uterus should have the final say. I think that the state, the goddamned church, and anybody who wasn’t directly involved in the conception should mind their own damned business.
As I’ve said elsewhere, the morality of abortion bothers me very little, either way. Thousands of children die unlamented every day, when the right-to-life crowd pulls the beam out of their own eye and starts doing something about that, I’ll allow that they’re sincere in their beliefs. Until then, I’ve got no use for their hypocrisy.
That said, I wonder about the scenario described by the Florida legislature, i.e. a living fetus outside the womb as a result of a botched abortion. The proposed Florida law would declare that baby legally human and grant it all the rights of any other citizen – including the right not to be terminated out of hand.
I don’t know what to think about that, to be perfectly honest.
I find it somewhat ironic that this would be the case in Florida of all states, you know the place where you’re only considered human and worthy of sanctuary if you can reach shore alive.
Certainly this situation deserves detailed examination. Perhaps, like boat people reaching the safety of the Florida beach, a fetus that survives an abortion attempt should be granted personhood and afforded protection under the law. Or perhaps not, perhaps the level of damage is so high, so extensive, that death may be preferable. I honestly don’t know. I strongly suspect every situation would be different, requiring those on the scene, parents, medical experts, those responsible, to make the difficult decision – instead of the distant state, instead of politicians, instead of the goddamned clergy, instead of the mob.
Again, I certainly don’t know. I’m glad that I don’t have to make that decision. My deepest and most sincere sympathies to those who do.
I find many hypocrisies big and small on this subject, but the one I find most ironic is that those who advocate loudest for small government and personal responsibility are perfectly willing to impose their will and ideology on others with the full force of the United States government when it comes to abortion.
Like Alisa LaPolt Snow I think we ought to talk about it in a rational manner – and I think we should be able to do it without calling the President a baby killer.
And on the subject of killing kids, I see that gun control is all but dead in the United States Congress.
I hate to say I told you so, but, well, I told you so right here in The Seven Stages of Gun Violence. Nothing much has changed, except the death toll.
An overwhelming majority of Americans support universal background checks for all gun purchases. Even if they can’t agree on anything else, they agree on that. But background checks will not make it out of congress. What happened? What happened is that the check cleared, that’s what happened. The simple truth of the matter is that gun manufacturers and the gun lobby can buy more politicians than you can, it’s really just that simple, and no amount of dead kids will change that fact. Period. Since I wrote The Seven Stages of Gun Violence, the NRA has spent more than $2 Million buying politicians, the gun-control lobby spent around fifty thousand during the same period. And so it goes.
The good news is that the gun nuts are going forward with their plan to require NRA trained and armed teachers in every American school.
That’s what America needs, Ted Nugent training the staff of your kid’s school.
Boy, if that doesn’t make you want to shit your pants, I don’t know what will.
As I said up above, when the right-to-lifers actually start supporting life, I’ll start listening.
Obama announced a new national initiative this week to map the human brain. Skeptical neurologists say that that the program is too ambitious, that the regular human brain is too complex and that we should start with something simpler – say like Ted Nugent.
And on a final note: scientists reportedly have discovered the actual Gate to Hell.
And apparently it’s in Turkey, not Texas.