Friday, April 3, 2015

Object Lessons


Since the point of this essay largely involves Twitter, 
You can find me there at www.twitter.com/stonekettle
and view the source material for yourself



Love thy neighbor as thy self
- Jesus


It’s a curious thing, isn’t it?

It’s a curious thing that when religious people create a law granting themselves “religious freedom” somehow the rest of us end up with less freedom.

That’s how I began the previous post here on Stonekettle Station.

When those in a position of power create laws to grant themselves the freedom to discriminate against others, justified by arbitrary non-quantifiable nonsense such as  “sincerely held beliefs,” it is absolutely, utterly, inevitable that those others will end up losing their freedoms.

Every single time.

That’s the whole point of the law in the first place.

It’s ironic, since Christians, of all religious Americans, have not been restricted in any way whatsoever. They make up the overwhelming majority of the population. Every single major religious holiday in the US is a Christian one – and when other religions such as Islam request national recognition for a holiday of their own they are resoundingly shouted down by Christians offended at the very idea of any religious holiday not a Christian one. The symbols and fetishes of Christianity are everywhere in America. Caucasian bearded Jesus smiles or frowns from billboards along the highways, next to huge signs supposedly quoting the Christian God. Christian crosses hang prominently, proudly, from the necks of Americans wherever you look, and dot hilltops and sprout like weeds alongside our roads.  Christian churches reside on nearly every street corner. Small towns across America vie for the title of “Most churches per capita” – I grew up in a small Midwestern town that claimed that very mantle for itself. Christianity owns its own schools, and its own radio and TV stations along with hundreds of cable channels, and pulls in billions, billions, tax free.  Christianity even has its own amusement parks in America, but you don’t see any Jewish ones, or Buddhist, or Wiccan, or heaven forbid a Muslim one.

When Christian fanatics such as Westboro Baptist Church stand on a street corner in America and scream hatred at the rest of us, including other Christians, we say, well, you know, we don’t like it but that’s their right.  Let it be group of bearded men in Arab robes waving the Quran and see what happens. Go on, if you dare. When pastors want to make a political statement in America, it’s not the Bible they’re burning in front of the TV cameras, is it?

Christians are hardly discriminated against in America, there’s no public “debate” when Christians legally purchase land and set about building yet another church – but ask to build a mosque in the middle of town, see what happens.

No, Christians are not in any way discriminated against in America.

But religion loves to pretend persecution, even when it basks in power and privilege. Nothing proclaims piety like martyrdom. And nothing threatens religion like having to respect other beliefs, not even when your God and his prophet specifically command you to do so. 

The only reason for “religious freedom restoration” laws, the entire reason for such laws, is to give legal protection to bigots so that they may openly treat others as less than full citizens under the shield of religion.

Religious Freedom laws do not protect liberty, they take it away.


Every. Single. Time.


Naturally, the bigots who use religion as a shield don’t see it that way.

To them, freedom is a finite resource. If another gets more, they feel cheated, diminished, less.

And that is because to them liberty and freedom aren’t human rights but rather God given.

Given by their God, of course.

They proclaim that the rights enumerated in the Constitution are not a manmade contract between citizens, a template for law and government, but rather holy writ handed down by their God.  They say it over and over, rights come from our God, not government, not men, but God. Our God. Ours. Not your god, ours, Jehovah, the angry and petulant and spiteful Old Testament Christian God.  This is a Christian nation. Our nation. Our God. Ours.

This belief shapes how they view the world and in particular America.

Rights, freedom, liberty, belong to the righteous, see?

They believe this gives them leave to hate and despise others who are different, to treat their neighbors as less than human, as less than full citizens. Their God does not love these people, so why should they?

It’s just an excuse, of course – which was the whole point of yesterday’s tongue-in-cheek essay.

Naturally their God hates all the same people they do. Naturally. And conveniently, He always does.

If they didn’t have religion, they’d still find a way to way to hate others. They always do. Skin color, race, origin, accent, weight, sex, social class, and especially religion, the haters gonna hate. They’ll do it openly, smugly pointing to their God as an excuse, if they can. And when laws are created to protect the objects of their derision, when the laws don’t allow them to openly discriminate against race, creed, color, sex, age, or national origin, then they always and inevitably find somebody else to hate.

Every. Single. Time.

And now it’s gay people.

It’s always the same, this smug pious hate.

It’s not discrimination, they say. It’s not bigotry. We just don’t like their kind. It’s not us, it’s our God, see? He doesn’t like their kind. We have a right, they say, a right to refuse service, a right to keep them out of our schools, out of our government, out of our neighborhoods. We have a right to hate them, to despise them. They’re not like us, they’re not saved, not favored by our God, they’re not like real Americans. It’s our right to believe what we want. It’s not discrimination, it’s not!

In fact, said a prominent American Christian politician yesterday, they should be grateful. Yes, grateful. Grateful that we real Americans tolerate them at all. Why, in non-Christian countries they’d be put to death. So, yes, they should be grateful for what they have here in America. Second class is better than nothing and they should be grateful.

Bigots always say that.

They should be grateful.

Yes, they should be grateful. Why do they want to be here anyway? Why, you know, if I was them, if I was them, why I would just go somewhere else. I would. I wouldn’t make a big fuss. If a business refused to serve me, why that’s their right. I’d just take my business elsewhere. Let the free market fix it. I wouldn’t demand that they change their beliefs. Certainly not. That’s freedom. That’s liberty. I’d just go somewhere else.


Sure you would.

Let’s just see what happens when when a Christian is refused service, shall we?

I posted this on Twitter earlier in the week and began yesterday’s essay with it:


I got a lot of feedback.

In yesterdays essay, I used this Twitter response as a lead in:


Earl was unhappy that I used him as an example. And he wrote a long, long response to yesterday’s post, condescendingly explaining to me how I was wrong about America and religion and the law.

I didn’t like his tone.

So I didn’t let his comment post.

Earl was not happy about that:


As you can see, I explained to Earl why I didn’t let his comment post.  It was an ad hominem fallacy, he’d made it personal and therefore it didn’t meet my clearly posted commenting rules.

Rewrite the comment, or go somewhere else.

Naturally, Earl, being a Christian and all, understood and gratefully complied.


Why, it seems Earl was getting angry.

But why?


I guess Earl was upset about something.

Coward, he called me. Why you sniveling coward! Cry home to mommy! Coward! That’s Earl, threats and insults, rage and anger. How very Christ-like, these Christians.

Jesus, I’m certain, would be so proud of Christians like Earl.


Madder and madder. Threats and insults.

I guess ol’ Earl didn’t like being mocked and denied his supposed right to comment on my blog.

How odd. How perplexing. Why, why was Earl so angry?  Just because everybody else got to comment, but not him? Because I was being unfair? Because I treated him differently?

Why didn’t he just go to a different blog then?

Why didn’t he just keep his Christianity to himself?



I wonder why I was doing that.

Treating an outspoken in-your-face Christian like Earl differently, I mean.



It’s a curious thing, isn’t it?

It’s a curious thing how when it’s your voice denied, when it’s you being mocked, when the shoe is on the other foot and the foot is on your throat, well, it is curious thing that it is only then the idea of discrimination makes you angry.

Yes, a curious thing indeed.

We're not discriminating against anyone, that's just our belief…
- Crystal O’Connor, owner Memories Pizza, Walkerton, IN
  Explaining why her business refuses to cater gay weddings


  1. I would love to read Earl's response (which I imagine to be a whole boatload of right wing fanatical bullshit) but only because I would also love to read the inevitable responses to his response. I would so enjoy reading as the other commenters tear Mr Blacklock a new digital asshole.

    But, alas I trust in your judgement Jim to not post his response.

    Keep up the good work Jim.

    And as for your previous post Jim, it was 100% accurate and I will be using parts of it in future dealings with the lunatic fringe.

    1. I would love to read it too, K Smith! But it just might be as much fun to imagine the smoke rising from Earl's ears as he huffs and puffs not getting his way.

      So glad you're on the side of sanity, Mr Wright. Thank you again.


    2. "Digital Asshole." You just made my day!

  2. You, sir, are a cat; and it is delightful fun watching you when you get hold of a really juicy mouse. :)

    (Typo correction, btw, since I know you ask for them: "Grateful that we real Americans tolerant them at all...." should, I think, be "...tolerATE them at all?")

  3. Seems to me that Earl could publish his comments anywhere he wishes as long as he meets either his (if it is his site) or the site's manager's criteria. His thinking might go over nicely at Aleksandria.org (I think it is an org but don't go there much anymore since I got tired of the noisome nature of the discussions.

  4. In theory, a religious freedom law can only increase freedom (when it has to yield to anti-discrimination laws, for example); if a general law says "you may not wear stripes with plaid" by the priests of my religion are required to wear stripes with plaid on Holy Gozinterday, then a religious freedom law would permit them to. One of the underlying causes of the federal law was a Supreme Court ruling that use of peyote was prohibited even to a group that had been using it in its rituals for hundreds of years.

    That said, the Indiana law wasn't of that sort. Though I would point out that the statement from the owner of Memories Pizza was quite true: the store doesn't cater anything, and never did.

    "I won't sell you a wedding cake because I don't like the fact that your fiancee is taller than you are." "That's discrimination!" "Oh, and because I'm a hardware store."

  5. Jim I hate to break it to you but I kinda think Earl is flirting with you. Sure seems like what he REALLY wants is a date.

  6. Never argue with someone who buys ink by the barrel. (Or, bytes by the tera)

  7. Nice essay. Keep 'em coming!

  8. Poor Earl. Shoe... meet other foot.

  9. I enjoyed this post. Reminded me of an old high school cheer (perhaps because Earl sounds like a high schooler): "Rah rah ree, kick 'em in the knee. Rah rah rass, kick 'em in the other knee." Keep kicking. I like your style.

    1. "We got Mars! We got Venus! We got you guys by the Pull, Tigers! Pull, Tigers!"

    2. "Rick 'em, rack 'em, ruck 'em, ruck 'em! Get that ball and really FIGHT!"

    3. "Rick 'em, rack 'em, ruck 'em, ruck 'em! Get that ball and really FIGHT!"

    4. Bricka, Bracka, firecracker
      sis boom ba!!
      Bugs Bunny, Bugs Bunny
      Rah Rah Rah!!!

  10. I think I get Earl's stance (and that of folks defending this law): If we don't want you to play in our sandbox, then we are a good and righteous people who have deeply held beliefs that we are not required to back it up with anything. It's our belief. God said so.

    On the other hand, if YOU people clearly post rules about the sort of behavior you expect in YOUR sandbox, I should be free to ignore that and still get treated the same way as the people who do follow the social expectations in your place. Because that's my God given right. /Earl's ilk.

    I cannot fathom how anyone can think both of these things at the same time. It hurts my head just trying to understand that. Thanks for not subjecting us to Earl's tirade.

    1. But RR holding 2 beliefs is a lot like science. I love Neal DeGrasse's quote that science continues whether you believe it or not. The result is people tend to pick and choose the science that fits with their beliefs. They believe in climate change but not vaccinations, or the other way around. Its as if their beliefs validate the science. "That must be good science because I believe it to be true." Really?
      There is bad science, which is why it is important to get it from reviewed sources instead of People Magazine, or a political organization.

  11. It's ok with Earl to restrict service to people he wants to, based on his own views. But for you do restrict "his" posting, well, that's another kettle of fish.

    It took to the end of the essay for the shoe to drop and for me to realize that this was the real point of the essay. Check and mate. Point for the sailor.

  12. Jim, If I didn't know better I would swear you were right here in Arkansas, sitting right next to me during the whole legislative session while I looked on in amazement at the craziness of all these lawmakers trying to out-Jesus one another. I was talking to one who told me his church has solved the dilemma of whether or not to perform a gay wedding by not allowing the church to be available to the general public for weddings. Just members. So I asked him, "What if a gay person in your congregation wants a church wedding once it becomes legal in Arkansas?"

    "Oh, we don't have any homosexuals in our congregation," he replied.
    "How do you know that?" I asked.
    "Oh, we just don't. It's a sin, you know."

    I actually don't know anything of the sort but I was so floored by the idea of a church congregation composed wholly of corpses (at least that's my understanding of how to avoid sin) that I couldn't think of a response.

    And, the political process being what it is in our little red state, a very badly written, and quite crappy piece of legislation was traded out in favor of an equally badly written, and somewhat less crappy piece of legislation, which allowed all sides to declare victory. And all of it utterly unnecessary in the first place except that Jesus was cowering in the corner and about to fold under the monumental persecution besieging the righteous from all sides because somebody might catch gay from a wedding cake.

    Or something. Because apparently, for some people, freedom isn't really very special if just anybody can have some of it.

    Anyway, your analysis is spot on.

    1. Dale, may I please, PLEASE, borrow this line: "Because apparently, for some people, freedom isn't really very special if just anybody can have some of it."
      (Only posting as Anon because I don't know how not to. Sigh.)

    2. I would love to have a bumpersticker that reads : Freedom isn't really very special if just anybody can have some of it. - Any and all Republicans

    3. Anonymous. to post under a name when you click reply a dropdown menu comes up with a list of choices, one of which is Name/URL. Click on that, Type the name you wish to use and disregard the URL box and then enter. It took me a bit to figure out I did not need the URL part.

    4. Heidi, I was a different Anonymous from the one above, but your directions have allowed me to post under my chosen name too. Thank you most kindly!

    5. The mayor of Brownwood, TX (population at least 10K at the time) famously said about 35-40 years ago that "We don't have any homosexuals living in this town. Oh, there are a few who work here, but they live outside of town". Johnny Carson had a wonderful time with that statement on his show. For anyone with an ounce of intelligence or life experience to make such a statement is truly mind-boggling.

    6. Every time I see that inane WWJD plaque or bumper sticker (and there was a DVD with that title in the store this week!!), this liberal mind screams in silence " throw up his hands in disgust at how his teachings/words have been perverted".

    7. There is a bumper sticker that says "Jesus, save me from your followers."

  13. It seems to me that Earl has his head so far up his own ass that he can see daylight through his teeth.

    Great essay BTW.

    1. A Navy CPO once told a group of us that he told one of his subordinates that" I'll stick my foot so far up your ass that when you brush your teeth you'll shine my shoe".

  14. "Come, come, into my lair. Post another silly twitter feed that proves my point." Said, the spider (Jim) to the fly (Earl). I love it!!

  15. I always love the, "you're a coward for not responding to my long-winded, twisted, completely illogical, arguments" ploy. As a matter of fact, most liberals I know are just so sick of hearing the same deluded conservative talking points, regurgitated over and over and over, always in some condescending, insulting, passive-aggressive bullshit tone, that we just don't bother engaging anymore. It's gotten completely boring.

    Not only that, but when your first line of argumentative logic is to fall back on calling people names (coward, sniveling liberal, etc.), you sound like you're in the 4th grade.

    1. Makes me wonder if Jim is also fat.

  16. I bowl weekly in an LGBT league. We have partners, wives, husbands, moms, dads, and people in much more casual relationships. Some, like me, are straight friends and supporters of the league. We give precedes of our 50-50 to charity at the end of the year -- and no, not all of the charities are associated with LGBTQ causes. Above everything else, we all try to be good citizens. Another thing -- ALL of us -- gay or straight --wouldn't be caught dead having a small town pizza shack cater our weddings!!!

  17. "Make people afraid of it.
    Tell them who's to blame for it.

    That is how you win elections."

    Is it too much to hope that, someday, the way to win elections is to have ideas that make sense, instead of pandering to peoples fears?

    to provide proper attribution, that is a quote from The American President, starring Michael Douglas and Annette Benning.

    1. Oh yes! I used that exact speech in a blog post I wrote a few years back! If you happen to be interested, here's a link to that post - http://journalistesagace.blogspot.com/2011/05/political-screaming-aka-whining-and_19.html I promise this is not a link to a spam, or a virus, or anything dangerous...

      Love the movie "The American President!" And I also wish the playing to people's fears would just go away... It's a pitiful way to go about getting elected, but it's how it's been done for so long, I think people would wonder what was happening if it stopped.

    2. Recognized the words instantly, the great Aaron Sorkin. Wish The Newsroom could have had a longer run than 3 season. Ditto for Studio 60 which only got a single season. I help out by buying the DVDs I want this man to keep writing/producing.

    3. What I find so ironic about Earl's tirade is calling a man who's been shot at in combat a coward. He never even had the courtesy/decency to find out anything about you: he went straight to Rush Limbergur land and the evilest word he could think of. Pathetic doesn't even do it justice.

    4. I thought it was amusing that "coward" was the worse thing poor Earl could think of, in his incoherent sputterings. "Coward." I mean, really?? I was reading Earl's tweets, thinking, "What a hypocrite! What an ignorant, childish, illogical tantrum-thrower. He calls himself a Christian? He doesn't know the meaning of the word. Flinging foolish insults around like that, like a monkey throwing faeces – does he think that's 'Christian'?"

    5. The question you want to ask is this: what takes more courage, acceding to the demands of a blustering bully? Or not?

      Earl's playground taunts are the kind of thing bullies do. He couldn't play by the rules, he couldn't sway me with reason or logic, so he resorted to taunts and name calling like an 8 year old.

      I don't need to prove my courage, or lack thereof, to anybody. I've got a box of medals around here somewhere that attests to my character in the face of far, far more formidable adversaries than poor old Earl. There's nothing he can throw at me that will hurt my feelings or force me to do what he wants.

      If he wants his comments to post here, he can behave like an adult.

  18. I can hear that guy stamping his feet all the way over here far across the Lower 48!
    M from MD

  19. Love your eloquence. I'd be stuck at the level of: "Truly, if you cannot make your point without calling names, you have proven you have no point to make." Or words to that effect. Any schoolyard bully learns nasty names (nearly any schoolyard KID learns 'em, for that matter) in grade school. Learning how to use logic, rationally, That's HARD. Poor stunted Earl.

    Your mention of "...should be grateful..." reminds me, that phrase was used close to my, er, livelihood. We should be grateful to have a job. Grumble mumble grumble.

    If they aren't corrected before I type this out, there's an extra couple of words in the sentence, "If they didn’t have religion, they’d still find a way --to way-- to hate others." (I put dashes around them) and right before the Twitter clips, there is a duplicate "when" I doubt you intended to have.

    Feel free to post this or not. Though I almost (not quite) wish I could think up a logical, rational, calm and reasoned argument that does not call names or resort to bullying, just to show Earl that I'm betting you would let it post. Except that I can't indulge in that sort of intellectual lies without severe discomfort. I agree with what you've said, and I'm not the sort to debate as devil's advocate when I just can't see even a kernel of truth on that side.

    Gretchen in KS

  20. So nice to share your post on Facebook. It's like you quote the thoughts I have when I read through the bigotry and sheer unfairness. Thank you for such succinct, cogent analysis!

  21. I repeat my comment, posted elsewhere: If discrimination is not the purpose of the law, and if the law has been amended to prohibit discrimination, why does there need to BE a law? In other words, which religious "freedoms" have previously been infringed upon, that must be "restored" by this act? Can anyone cite a religious freedom (a Christian one, I mean...I'm passingly familiar with the Native American peyote case) that was previously available, is no longer available, and must be "restored?"

  22. Christian KosanovichApril 3, 2015 at 4:49 PM

    I have had a running joke with my friends about the issue of gay marriage for some time now. I thought this was a settled fight but since these bigots keep coming back I'm going to attempt to post it here. It has some very politically incorrect and deliberately chosen language and I will understand if you choose not to post it. I intend to found a religion with one precept;

    (bald man with jerry curl) Friends, God came to me in a dream and he told me that the most perfect union to understanding him, knowing him, and LOOVVINGG him is that between a man and a man. I am the prophet of the Church of Faggot Marriage. That is the only blessed sacrament. That is all you need to do to be a good and holy person. That one thing. Now we do allow marriages between a man and a woman but only after completing the 57 rituals for a less than truly holy marriage. As for marriage between two women, HELL no that's just icky. After all this is a religion and we gotta persecute somebody. Those marriages are handled next door at the Sanctuary of Sapphic Sisters.

    If I can find a women to found the Sapphic Sisters I am so tempted to found this Church because after all isn't this an issue of religious freedom?

  23. I think what's most sad is the ORIGINAL, federal law was put in place to protect Native Americans who used peyote as part of their ritual and went to jail as a result. How perverted this has become, once the bigots got a hold of it. :( Love will win; it always does.

  24. I wish you'd met my Art teacher "Killer" Reeves, International Brigade Spain '33-'36 No.3 Commando '39 -'45. You remind me so much of him. I remember him teaching me the same lesson in much the same way you did to Earl.

  25. One thing I don't seem to understand about this law (as it is of no concern to me living across the Atlantic) - is it supposed to protect only from the religion's side or can businesses refuse to service said religious sects too based on this law like what Jim did to Earl's response?

    1. I mean this whole thing with religions everywhere in the world has made me rather harshly believe that religion really is the highest form/expression of human stupidity. For me there is no nicer way to say it even if this doesn't make it past the commenting rules.

    2. In theory, a shop owner could discriminate. Can you hear the wails and gnashing of teeth if an an atheist, a puritan descendant t (or someone who is just plain fed up with certain striped of fundamentalists) were to announce that "I"m only baking cakes, etc. for secular weddings since it's my deeply held belief that there are only two sacraments. Those would be baptism and communion. Stand back and watch out for flying debris,

    3. Sure, where can I buy the popcorn? I'd only stand from a safe distance as I can imagine the discriminated part shed froth everywhere in their screaming rage.

    4. Forget flying debris, watch out for fallout and stray neutrons.

      Also, the bright flash preceding it can't be good for your eyesight.

  26. The Stonekettle guy is just a little off on the idea that every holiday in the U.S. is a Christian one. Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, New Years, and Independence Day aren't (to name a few).

    1. You should probably try reading that paragraph again.

      Signed, that Stonekettle Guy.

    2. Keep up the good work!

    3. Reading comprehension. A. Lost. Art.

  27. Mr. Wright, you again impress. I've tried to say what you've said, but my words don't come out right. Yours do.
    I wonder how the Christian Pizza Lady would feel if the Gay Christian Marriage she refused to serve sued her for being discriminated against by virtue of THEIR religion. There are plenty of Christian churches that do wedding ceremonies now.....

  28. Why aren't you on main stream media? I know they would have to raise their standards. Oh yes, every major holiday is a christian one. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/02/12/almost-all-u-s-presidents-have-been-christians/ ...Christian soldiers onward, Christian Laborers (or are they socialists?), Christian drunks celebrating New Years ball dropping and Christian Independence because love those fireworks by the dawns early light.

  29. Y'know I didn't finish reading this post and that is a rarity. I think way too much time is being spent trying to dissect these laws and deconstruct their validity.

    Most laws being put forth by Republicans are designed to screw people in one way or another. Drug testing for welfare recipients designed to humiliate and dissuade the poor. Anti-union laws to slash pay. Marriage laws to prevent same sex marriage. The list goes on...

    None of these bills or laws are needed. Not when you consider what the GOP has been whining about--deficits and the economy. They just come up with these laws because they have enough bigots in their state to make this happen.

    So when any bill comes up by the GOP rest assured that it is designed to screw and lash out at someone and elevate their "chosen." I think we all accept this. Who are we trying to convince? Republicans? It is a moot point.

    It's time to stop giving this law the undue respect and attention it has gotten and simply dismiss it as another hate filled attempt by the GOP. They're not very original.

  30. I just ran across this old Dixie Chicks song that you might get a chuckle out of. Even if you don't publish this post with the blog. enjoy the laugh.

    It is a song titled Goodbye Earle, by the Dixie Chicks (I think that makes it a irony twofer somehow)


  31. Greetings! I was having just such a 'discussion' with some conservative people I know. I was trying to qualify the DRFL environment. Some interactions are contractual. A contractor can opt to not sign the contract. The transaction is isolated and is based upon a legal document and work associated with that document.

    Other businesses are based upon public access to goods and services. A public restaurant or other service should not be allowed discriminate based upon gender, age, creed or religion. A patron to a publicly accessed business should have the choice to buy the goods or services unless there is other reasons to deny the transaction- like violation of the law, or disorderly conduct etc.

    I think people are self-righteous when they get offended. That in and of itself fuels the fires of rhetoric and discord. If someone doesn't like people with brown hair, glasses and mustaches and decides he doesn't want to be my gutter repair guy- that's too bad for me and incidentally him. That's a 'push'. Personally I wouldn't care to use such a vendor, but I wouldn't let the myself sink past a momentary reaction of disgust. It is permissible for him to pass on engaging the service. Is it discrimination, I think so, but it doesn't cross the line of civil rights violation- that's the discernment that Mike Huckabee was talking about.

    Now if I'm out with friends and I want to have dinner with them and the same criteria are used to let my friends in, but not myself and anyone else with brown hair, glasses and a mustache - THAT is discrimination beyond discernment and a violation of civil liberties. Is that clear enough?

  32. One thought on political strategy...by the time the next election comes around, Republicans who have pushed for and passed "religious freedom" bills can and will use that mileage at the polls with extremely ignorant bigoted constituents to push through for wins. GLBT individuals are being painted as the bogeyman, the threat, the problem...
    Which will be a nice huge emotional issue at the box office, while other issues such as financial reforms and crumbing infrastructure and dirty dealing will get lost in the uproar. It might even drown out any personal stupidity that might render a candidate un-electable. Face it, Romney shot himself in the foot fair and square every time he opened his mouth. But the rising. manufactured, and fanned-into-a-firestorm-backlash against gays, transgenders, and others has the potential to unite instead of divide at the ballot box. Its probably even a big enough scare that a lot of people will forget the "shut down the government" shenanigans that have drawn so much scorn. I think some of this is so politically calculated its sickening.

    1. According to surveys, the kind of bigoted laws being passed are approved of by a not very large minority. That means, the majority of people are not bigoted. The problem is that those non-bigoted people are not being given encouragement by the people who want to push the non-bigoted way to run things. If there were some way to get the word out that the majority of Americans don't believe what these loony-tunes are pushing, we would see the end of this kind of madness. We need a "Not-Fox News" News Channel - Fair and Balanced with the Truth, not Truthiness.

    2. As I see it the " majority " that is thrown out there when anything related to beliefs, morals,righteousness and freedoms of such are used to enact or revise any law at any level, it means," the majority of people who think/feel/believe like me", not the majority of the Americans who are willing and or able to vote this stupid shit (religious beliefs) into an enforceable law. There is no longer a separation of church and state in this country and when the governing bodies are full of "religious conservatives" instead of rational, realistic and unemotional law makers and representatives, we have and will continue to have this same kind of bullshit forced upon us by these guilt ridden sinners for fucking ever unless or until we no shit get religion and the religious out of politics. I remember hearing men of power when I was growing up (80's & 90's) saying how women were too "emotional " to ever properly rule this country as a take no shit powerhouse! I call bullshit on that because look at how all of these mama's boys religious fuckin soul savin' men have well and truly violated the original constitution with all their whiny religion based bullshit and totally fucked this country up! We are continually the fodder for being "those fucked up crazy Americans" who by appealing to their religious insanity can be talked into any number of fucked up crazy shit, as the other nations shake their heads and laugh at the stupid fucked up Americans once again!

    3. The Federalist papers, a gloss of the Constitution, make it very clear that the founders meant freedom of religion also meant freedom FROM religion. This is what these batshit crazy arseholes don't get. And it drives me absolutely out of my mind. And to think most of these nutjobs are lawyers and should know better. Guess that joint these exclusive 'fraternies' will make them say and do whatever it takes, sorta like flyboy McCain.

  33. You can bet that if "Earl" got a chance to meet Jim face to face he'd either run and hide, or bring a crowd/mob to back him up. Who is the coward, I wonder?


    1. I'd want to sell tickets and popcorn to such a meeting.

      The proceeds, of course, going to Stonekettle Station.

  34. When lawmakers think a problem is simple to fix, they usually don't understand the problem and this latest "Religious Freedom" kerfuffle is no different. The laws in Indiana and Arkansas are bigoted laws passed by bigots for their bigoted, hate-filled constituents. That being said, there is "something" there that needs to be addressed - but it doesn't have anything much to do with religion. For example, gay marriage doesn't bother me - I think people should get to love whomever they wish - but Confederate flag waving white pride neo Nazi KKK types really get my blood boiling. So a guy comes in my shop and wants to order a cake (or t-shirts, signs, bumper stickers, pins or whatever) decorated with swastikas and Confederate battle flags for their upcoming annual hate convention - and if I don't take on the job and fill their order they'll sue. That has nothing to do with religion but still - ick! When can it become legal to discriminate against people, not because they're gay or look different but just because they're assholes?


    1. It can't. Because if you make allowances to discriminate against *anyone*, you make it okay to discriminate against everyone. And that opens the floodgates to every single bigot in the country, and we are right back to inequality for black people and women and LGBT people, and anyone else who doesn't look like a straight, white, Christian man.

    2. You're not discriminating against them on the basis of their sex/gender, race, religion, or any protected ground. You're refusing to support their hateful and discriminatory ideas. You have the right to refuse based on what they are doing, not based on who they are.

    3. Wes has set out one of the three main ways to deal with this problem -- any business must provide services to any person who will pay, but would you really want to force -- say, a Jewish or African American baker to make a cake celebrating the anniversary of the local KKK chapter? I wouldn't.

      Maryellen has articulated a second approach -- pretty much the way the law does it now -- general right to refuse service unless the denial is based on a prohibited rationale (like refusing service based on membership in a legally protected class).

      When you think it all through, though, including the ramifications for society as a whole, these issues aren't so simple -- especially around the margins.

    4. It might be icky, but l don't think we were promised a society free of ick in the constitution. Freedom can be messy. If we're not all free, none of us is free.

    5. When I was a teenager I wanted to go to a convention in Houston. Except I didn't have the money for a hotel room. So I put the word out via the grapevine that my brother and I needed a place to stay, and some oil refinery workers that we barely knew volunteered to let us use their spare bedroom and sofa. So anyhow, it quickly became apparently that these two roughnecks were gay. Them sleeping in the same bed in the same bedroom sort of gave that one away :). But they were nice guys, they didn't do anything or say anything out of the ordinary. But one of them as we were packing to leave after the convention asked me, curiously, "what do you think about gay people?" And I said "I think gay sex is kinda squicky, but what people do in the privacy of their own bedroom is none of my business." Which is truth. Who bangs who in the privacy of their own bedroom is no business of anybody except the bangees. And only a harridan busy-body with nothing better to do with his or her time really cares about such things.

    6. You could bake the cake and put frosting on it, but now write the hate speech, that is what someone under similar circumstances did. You are providing the service (the cake), but not condoning the hate speech.

      This could be a policy of your business, No Hate Speech on any cake. That way you are not discriminating. You are applying your business rules equally to everyone.

    7. Maryellen, Peter et al ......Seems the problem in Indiana is that members of the LBGT community have NO legal protection against discrimination. You can't discriminate based on race, gender or religion - but sexual orientation? That's still OK in Indiana (as it is in most other Republican controlled states).


  35. The best sentence in the entire exchange.

    "Why didn’t he just go to a different blog then?"

  36. It takes a whole lot of cognitive dissonance to view your acts of oppression as evidence of you being oppressed; of your cowardice as evidence that you are being attacked by cowards; of your anger as evidence that everyone is mad at you! Classic projection, but the problem isn't the immaturity of people like Earl.

    No, it's the certainty. "The really dangerous people believe they are doing whatever they are doing solely and only because it is without question the right thing to do. And that is what makes them dangerous." — American Gods, by Neil Gaiman

    I'm Jewish. Lived amongst Christians all my life. Always been approached to convert -- Episcopalian, Methodist, Catholic, Evangelical, etc. and so on. Convert or Hellfire. Don't you want to fit in? What's wrong with Christianity that you don't want to join? Blah blah blah. After the proselytizing dies down then comes the eyes full of righteousness, of that damn dead certain KNOWING that what they are about is the right thing to do.

    I know that recent Scientology documentary got everyone scared about the prison-bars and fanaticism of cult religious, but in my experience, Scientology has NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING on Christianity. It takes a whole lot of certainty to act a coward while oppressing others in all your rage and it's not you, it's everyone else.

    1. Too bad there is no "Like" button on the comments - you'd get a great big one from me! Having spent my childhood being indoctrinated in the Evangelical branch of Christianity, I watched that certainty at work, but when I became a teen, couldn't FEEL it, and thus their hold on me was broken.

      In order to prove our loyalty to the Christian god, our youth group was required to go door to door in the neighborhoods and "witness for Christ", an activity I detested because I could NOT believe our faith should require that we jam our beliefs down the throats of people that wanted no part of it. I was a minority of one, sadly. I just couldn't be a "good little Christian" no matter how disappointed it made my mom or the people of my church. But as bad as that was, those people were still decent and basically kind. I don't even recognize the religion I was brought up in anymore, it has become so twisted with hate and fear!

  37. This isn't about Earl - he appears to be Canadian - but rather those in the US who are like him.

    Countries have creation myths. They are the stories we learn as children about the founding of the country, and the history. They may have a kernal of truth, or they may be 'chinese whispers' history, a meme with little basis.

    The US has three:
    Fleeing pilgrims
    The Civil War

    The American ideas it has about religious freedom stems from the lies it tells itself about the pilgrims and that period.

    The Myth is that the nasty English persecuted them until they fled. This myth is repeated in the Religious Right of today in the US: Because we can not do what we want, we are being persecuted.

    It is the same persecution.

    The Puritans lived in the West Country of England - Somerset, Devon, Cornwall. They proscribed the way worship was to be among locals, even those who were not of their denomination. They tried to set up a theocracy- because their law came from God, their law trumped that of the King ('King' at this point means a lot of parliamentary laws in the name of the King - though James II was in a rearguard action - whatever your republican feelings, I mean laws from man, not god)

    Obviously no country can allow a community to enact its own laws outside of those from the legal authority. When the puritans refused to stop, including refusing to stop persecuting others, they were themselves controlled. They left for the Netherlands, where again their persecution of others was not tolerated. So they left for the Colonies, where there would be no one to tell them to stop being dicks.Remember that England still remembered the Puritan Republican rule of Cromwell, a man who turned the country into a virtual Theocracy.

    Modern America is founded on precisely on the bigotted theocratic principles the modern right are espousing - the right to suppress anyone who doesn't fit your strict fundementalist interpretation of Christianity.

    Except when it suits them. Funny how when you bring up the rest of the Old Testament the anti-gay Christians go "Oh, no, that was got rid of by the Crucifixion". Only the Gay part - the bit Jesus never commented on - remains. You know, that bloke who is mentioned no where else outside the Bible.

    1. Actually, Mr. Hussar, there are a very few references to Jesus outside of the writing collected as the Bible from comparatively contemporary (though CE) sources -- largely in the context of the discussion of the Christ cult amongst the Jews. It is likely there would be more such references but for the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by the Romans in the late 1st Century CE.

      There is decent historical evidence that such a man such as Jesus existed, and was crucified by the Romans around 32 CE -- one of a number of Jewish so-called Messiahs in that apocalyptic-minded era. Almost all of the details, of course, are unverifiable now. But that's why it's called faith.

    2. Beg to differ Peter Curtin. There are no proven historical references of anyone named "Jesus" in the first 100 years of Christianity. More than likely, once again, Christians took existing myths, and other prophets, and mashed them together into one palatable myth. Here is the latest book to discuss such a lack of historical fact.

  38. I'm curious. I've never used this Twitter Intertube thing, but if Lincoln and Davis had Twitter back then, would the US Civil War have been less or more bad. I get the sense that disaster wud have still happened, just with a more personal feel. Like Gen Hancock twitting Gen Pickett "@Loser, come get me m/f!!" and Pickett twitting "@HCock, come out into the field you coward". Response: "@Loser No, I'm good". You get the idea.

    But, what's the point behind instant communication if it does not improve discourse and clarity, and lead to positive resolutions. You know, be Christian to each other.

    Oh wait.....I just actually read Jim's post. Never mind. Tommy D

  39. Excellent post Jim, but I'd live Memories Pizza alone. (I know this wasn't your point, but .it strikes a chord with me.) First, a little shop in a small town who just answered a reporter's question really doesn't deserve the opprobrium being heaped on them. They weren't asking for trouble, and as far as anyone can tell they haven't discriminated against anyone. They were just asked a hypothetical question. Apparently there is not a big demand for pizza for wedding receptions.

    Second, while it stings and stinks to be turned away anywhere -- quite hurtful -- there is a very legitimate issue about where to draw the line in terms of government mandating our conduct. When we're dealing with expressive conduct like photography, making floral arrangements, or baking a fancy special cake for someone, that's a different animal than serving someone food from a menu or selling knickknacks from a shelf. Religious justifications or not, we should be very careful about where and how we mandate behavior under penalty of law.

  40. Poor Earl....have another doughnut.

  41. Well, when the rapture happens, I hope all of those morally upstanding, righteous, perfect, 'Christ-like' people like to eat pizza.

  42. You haven't lost a single right when you are prevented from forcing me to perform in your gay ceremony, abort your baby, etc. What you really want is the fascist power to force others to approve of you, or to fake it if they don't. That is not your right.

    1. What you really want is the fascist power to force others to approve of you, or to fake it if they don't. That is not your right

      Don't tell me, tell your fellow Evangelical Christians.

  43. Why would we seek approval from the 'designated driver of satan'? We aren't forcing you to dance in our ceremonies, cheer lead in our parades. There is only one side seeking to force anything down anyone's throats here, and it's not the christians. It's you.

    1. You got me.

      How fascist of me to suggest tolerance and understanding, turning the other cheek and all that hippy stuff. Mea culpa.

      Oh, wait, no, no, it wasn't Satan who commanded his followers to treat their neighbors as themselves. Hmmmm, who was it? Who was that guy who told the parable of the Good Samaritan? Who told you to look to the beam in your own eye first? Who said judgment was reserved for God? Who was it? Wait, don't tell me, don't tell me, I know this one.

      The hypocrisy of "Christians" like you, Anonymous, amuses me. I certainly hope you're right about your God, because it'll be hilarious watching you miserable fuckers get yours. Alas, I suspect you're just another asshole. Screw off now, you're done commenting here.

    2. I see, so you agree with Pat Robertson that the evil supervillain The Gay Agenda (otherwise known as Big Gay) will force all straight Christians to have anal sex. Carry on, then!

      Oh, BTW, the only people who obsess about gay sex are, well, gay. Us normal straight people don't think about gay sex all the time like you and Pat. Funny how that works, huh?

      - Badtux the Snarky Penguin

    3. "designated driver of Satan"...that has a nice ring to it.

  44. Again, intellect trumps emotion. Even though the emotional are deaf, keep the intellect coming, Jim.

  45. From the ad below, "God Cares About Your Needs and Wants to Help. Ask Him Now."

    Really? He's going to tell his followers to stop with the stupid and start fixing the infrastructure and the educational system? Having those fixed is my primary need.

    I love how clueless the ad generator is - no context for you *snort*

  46. Coward? Hmmm, that's an interesting word to use. Isn't it an ad hominum though? :)

    I'm not sure the other Earl knows what that word really means though. Really, the man could start his own blog, couldn't he? Or would that take a bit of courage?

    The courage to put out your ideas and let other people say what they will about it. The courage to cut the comments that are not appropriate. Courage to defend the ideas without using nasty words. (oh, boy am I guilty of being a f'n cowardly arse there. You should see some of the nasty things that I've written on disqus. No. Actually, don't go looking for them. Some of them are me trolling people, some are posting when I'm not in a good condition to post, the odd post is worth reading.)

    The other Earl seems to like twitter. Maybe he'd be happy to post a link to his blog of 'courage' on your twitter feed. I do hope he knows more swear words though. The ones he's used are kinda boring and floppy.

  47. Wow, what a scared, little person Earl is. Typical of today’s American Christian – only able to spout crude, psycho-Bible while watching everything he holds dear collapse around him.

    People like Earl are used to a world run by white, male Christians who can say and do whatever they want and the rest of us just take it. Well, Earl, I am happy to say that that world is going away, and fast. The rest of us are not taking it. We are fighting back using the Internet to show everyone how truly childlike you are.

    And you don’t like it!! Well, Tough Shit! Get used to it. Get used to having YOUR bigotry and racism shoved down your throat little man. The rest of us are not going away. We’re here to fight!

    Chris in S. Jersey

  48. I was raised as a christian and heard most of my childhood how persecuted christians were in this country. Most all of the time it was with regards to them not being allowed to force their beliefs etc. on others... for example the recent "in god we trust" controversies. Nowadays, my spiritual beliefs are of the extremely controversial sort. If I expressed my beliefs at work, in the same way a christian might wear a cross or talk about attending their church very openly, I would almost certainly be fired. I have no doubt about this. (But believe me I would attempt to sue.) Every day I risk who I am outside of work destroying my career. I don't feel as if this is an unreasonable fear; it is based on observation and experience (of others as well as myself). And then I hear my family members complain about the persecution of christians in this country. And it fills me with disgust. I want to haul back and slap them straight across the face. I have no idea what they are talking about. They have so many freedoms they are completely ungrateful for, and I agree they are in no way oppressed or persecuted. It feels as if they can't bear to watch anyone have different beliefs. And I have to wonder.... if their religion and their god is so strong....why are they so frightened? Other beliefs should be no threat if they are in the right; and my personal beliefs do not affect their personal beliefs. So where is the threat?

  49. OT I tried to post a comment earlier asking for your opinion on the furor over the Jade Helm 15 exercise. Don't know if I did something wrong trying to post it or what, but would you look into it and comment on your opinion. Would sure appreciate it. I don't know whether to laugh or to be concerned.

  50. Why is it that all christians are lumped together these days? Why is it that nobody seems to know what a congregationalist is anymore? Why does my skin crawl whenever Jim writes about christians?

    I invite Jim & all who agree to check out the congregational church and this list of Congregationalists in history:


    My church is located on a busy NY street. Listed here are a few of the messages we have shared on our church's street sign:













    1. Mote, bean, eye.

      If you see yourself in what I write, that's entirely on you. If you don't, then I'm probably not talking about you.

      But I'll say this: Your comment has the faint reek of a persecution complex, the same supposed persecution mentioned in the essay. And you used "Christians" the same exact way I did.

      So maybe I am writing about you after all.

    2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  51. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    2. This person first first missed the point, then became an obnoxious martyr, then turned into a creepy Facebook stalker. Therefore her comments have been removed and she will no longer be allowed to post here.

  52. Why can't these people understand that not all people need or want religion in their lives?? They all come at it from the viewpoint that if we just open our minds that we'd see we what we were missing all along!

    They don't get that we could have possibly been exposed to their religion and found it lacking!

    I would never argue the value that religion has in the life of another person, but I have no need for it.. And it is always the Christians who seem hell bent on trying to convince everyone that their way is the only way! Then they scream "persecution" if anyone pushes back in the slightest.

    I say let's feed a few of them to the lions like the Romans did so they'll really have something to whine about! I propose we start with your former governor first, Jim!

    1. You said it! Try growing up Jewish in an all fundamentalist area. I could not be open with my Judaism or else I would have had my windows smashed. The year after I graduated the township instituted busing and somebody burned a cross on the high school grounds. Why yes, I am originally from Indiana. How did you guess?

  53. Very well written essay, Jim. Thank you. The "religious right" in this country has harmed the reputation of real followers of Christ and skewed our politics to the point of absurdity...but there are still plenty of good people who go to church.

  54. There's nothing "Christ"-like about these "Christians"


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