From Tommy Christopher at The Daily Banter:
One of many media subplots to the recent unrest in Baltimore has been the popularity of the word “thug” among members of the media, and the racial connotations thereof. The debate over that particular word began with the much more clear-cut example of the Seattle Seahawks’ Richard Sherman being labeled a “thug” for behavior that’s usually called “fiery” or “brash” when white players do it.
Since then, though, the label has been applied to peaceful protesters and violent rioters alike during periods of unrest over police violence, but not to white rioters at pumpkin festivals. In both instances, context matters, but more so in the latter. It is into that debate that the White House press corps has waded for several days now, attempting to extract an apology or a walkback from Press Secretary Josh Earnest on several (five) occasions for President Obama’s use of the term at a press conference Tuesday.
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If you had thought there had to be a limit to the pandering of Texas Republican officials to the insane right, then this should change your mind. Governor Abbott has caved in to the conspiracy nuts on the right (who believe the federal government is preparing to declare martial law). The very idea of this is ludicrous, but Abbott shows us there is no ridiculous belief on the right that he (and our state government) will not pander to. Here is how it is described in a blog at the conservative Dallas Morning News:
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Some history is a bit more recent. A couple of years ago, Charles Cooper argued before the Supreme Court against marriage rights for gay people. When he was pressed for some social harm that would come from marriage equality, he pretty much swallowed his tongue. Now we finally have an answer. Mad Mike's America reports the newest from religious conservatives. It seems America will disappear in fire if gays are allowed to marry. Okay. That fits the definition of "compelling."
- The Big Empty analyzes how media news journalism works.
Birth Control - Should You Get Permission from Your Boss? (6:15)
The Republican idea of religious freedom in birth control has become freedom of a manager to make intimate decisions for an employee.
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From Human Voices:
Private morality does not seem to me to be the state’s business unless it compromises the public welfare.
-Bishop Shelby Spong-
It's not the sort of thing that demands a reasoned response, but a local Catholic priest has been buying a lot of ad space in the local papers to excoriate Humanists, Atheists and free thinkers for being the main reason for the world's wars, persecutions and acts of genocide. Heretics and unbelievers you see are attacking "freedom of religion."
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The Republican definition of religious freedom recently became the freedom of an employer to decide whether employees could get birth control as part of their insurance package.
Then freedom of religion transmuted into the right of an employer to order an insurance company not to provide birth control on its own.
Now freedom of religion has mutated into the right of any boss to require workers to report to management, and ask permission, if they want to go to their local pharmacy on their own time and pay for birth control themselves.
The vote was unanimous.
Arguments over religious freedom have been with us for a very long time:
... we have in this case a very easy remedy, and that is to pray ourselves and I would think that it would be a welcome reminder to every American family that we can pray a good deal more at home, we can attend our churches with a good deal more fidelity, and we can make the true meaning of prayer much more important in the lives of all of our children. That power is very much open to us.
- President John F. Kennedy, June 27, 1962
From The Baltimore Sun:
When a handcuffed Freddie Gray was placed in a Baltimore police van on April 12, he was talking and breathing. When the 25-year-old emerged, "he could not talk and he could not breathe," according to one police official, and he died a week later of a spinal injury.
But Gray is not the first person to come out of a Baltimore police wagon with serious injuries.
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From Jon Perr PERRspectives:
On April 15th, Congressional Republicans missed their deadline for the fiscal year 2016 budget resolution. Nevertheless, and despite their differences on defense spending and the voucherization of Medicare (absent from the Senate bill), the GOP conferees aim to balance the budget in 10 years by slashing over $5 trillion in social programs and safety net spending, including the repeal of Obamacare. (Their plans are also magically aided by $2 trillion in mythical revenues and mystery savings.)
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The burden of carrying about blackness in this country is one that seems to compound exponentially as times goes on if you let it. The state of being “in a rage all the time” as James Baldwin said is something that comes with a tax; there is a price to pay. Relationships suffer, isolation sets in.
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Sites like Republic of Gilead and Right Wing Watch perform a very valuable service in reporting and analyzing what "the other side" in the struggle for America's future is saying and thinking, and I rely on them a good deal for that purpose. However, I also have a firm belief that to truly understand an ideology and its adherents, one must read them in their own words, unmediated by any paraphrasing or interpretation by one's own side.
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Infidel, if I may ask a sincere question… do you feel discriminated against or marginalized because of your unbelief? If so, may I ask how so? I am truly trying to find out, because I do not want to be a part of those that discriminate against others simply because they believe differently than I do. I have not noticed others in my daily life that treat unbelievers differently from others. Perhaps this is simply because I have been oblivious to it.
- T. Paine, April 27, 2015
I hope you won't mind my answering a question directed at someone else.
"do you feel discriminated against or marginalized because of your unbelief?"
I haven't encountered discrimination, but I also don't find myself in many situations where people both (1) know that I am an atheist and (2) have an opportunity to discriminate against me. If one wants to find genuine cases of discrimination against atheists, he can just use a search engine.
Marginalization? Certainly. Prominent members of my government, popular religious groups, and popular media describe my kind in harsh terms. Polling finds that the public regards us as untrustworthy. Unlike openly Christian candidates, openly atheist ones are not likely to be elected. I don't feel that (still uncommon) fictional portrayals of atheists tend to be very positive. Those members of my family that know of my beliefs think of them as a mistake and just a phase--and those who don't know of them would be no more understanding. I feel out of place in events with typically religious undertones that I am expected to attend, like weddings, funerals, and baptisms.
Marginalization is a broad term. Some of it is relatively serious and worth fighting. Some of it is just a natural but unpleasant consequence of being an atheist or just a non-Christian in a largely Christian country. Some of it is just my own feelings as a sort of outsider.
I am fairly happy with how things are. In those areas that need improvement, I believe that we will see positive change in the future, both near and distant, as the non-religious grow in number and the religious are more exposed to us. But I also believe that this should not be taken for granted, so when I hear the Religious Right go on about us or about how our country can't succeed without the Bible's guidance, I bear it in mind when it's election time.
"Within a generation, if this continues, I would not be able to continue to espouse my religious principles and core values without it being labeled as illegal hate speech."
Illegal hate speech? Evidence, please. People will increasingly find it hateful, as they have for racist and sexist remarks, but it's still a leap to "illegal hate speech"--especially within a generation.
Please visit Ryan at Secular Ethics.
Infidel, if I may ask a sincere question… do you feel discriminated against or marginalized because of your unbelief?
Marginalized, definitely. It's only relatively recently that it's become socially acceptable to be known as an atheist. My atheism never comes up in situations like work or housing; if it had, I might well have been discriminated against. I've certainly been harassed by proselytizing busybodies from time to time. And I've lived all my life in the San Francisco and Portland areas. Most of the country is worse.
Gay people are still routinely beaten and killed. I've known people who have been victims of violence, and again, a few decades ago when Christianity and the bigotry it generates were more pervasive, such things were much more common. Until 2003 homosexuality was actually forbidden by law in several states.
If the rabid morass of hatred and insanity which the Republican party has become ever gets control of the Presidency and the Supreme Court as well as Congress, things will certainly get much worse. As I said, they very blatantly proclaim their intent to make me a second-class citizen in my own country. They want to consecrate the lie that the US is a "Christian nation" and roll back the progress toward legal equality that gays have achieved.
This is not the kind of thing it's appropriate to ask me to have polite debates about. This is war. The Republican party as it exists today has made itself the mortal enemy of me and everybody like me. It has to be fought against and defeated. Period.
As for Hillary, at last count seven Republican-led investigations of Benghazi found no wrongdoing. These supposed scandals are as fictional as the Gospels. I have no reason to think anything else the wingnuts say about her any substance either.
Please visit Infidel at Infidel753.
From PZ Myers at Pharyngula:
There actually exists a book called 25 Ways To Communicate Respect To Your Husband. It’s got nothing but good reviews on Amazon, and also I read this summary of the 25 ways, and I’m thinking now that I need to buy the book.
Not for my wife, of course, but for me.
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From The Moderate Voice:
Vera Scroggins of Susquehanna County, Pa., was found to be in contempt of court, Thursday, and fined $1,000.
Her offense? She tells the truth.
Truth is something that apparently has bypassed the court of Judge Kenneth W. Seamans, who retired at the end of 2014, but came out of retirement to handle this case.
The case began in October 2013.
Scroggins, a retired real estate agent and nurse’s aide, was in Common Pleas Court to explain why a temporary injunction should not be issued against her. That injunction would require her to stay at least 150 feet from all properties where Cabot Oil and Gas had leased mineral rights, even if that distance was on public property.
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From Michael J.W. Stickings at The Reaction:
There isn't much about the Kardashians and their bubble of cultural degradation and egomaniacal excess that I respect, but I do respect Bruce Jenner's decision, if one can even call it that, to come out as a woman (he is still a "he" for now, but he says that he is a woman, and the "he" may soon become "she"), that is, his courageous coming to terms with, and acceptance of, his sexual identity. Even now, in 2015, it is not an easy thing to do, in private let alone in public, where you subject yourself to speculation and ridicule, if not worse, as much as to admiration and respect.
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From Jonathan Bernstein at Bloomberg:
Bloomberg Politics broke the story: The House committee investigating Benghazi is planning on dragging its feet long enough so it can dump its report right into the middle of the presidential campaign next year. Meanwhile, the committee reportedly plans to hold two public hearings next month with Hillary Clinton as the guest of honor.
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From Tim's Thoughtful Spot:
"Laws are to govern all alike -- those opposed as well as those who favor them." -- President Ulysses S. Grant, March 4, 1869
Reconstruction meant a lot of things.
Politically, it meant the re-integration of the Union. Physically, it literally meant the re-construction of cities, rail lines, and other infrastructure that had been blasted to rubble. It had many other meanings as well, so many that it's probably a hopeless task to cover it in one, two, or a hundred essays. The fact that it's still a matter of contention a century and a half later should tell you how complicated and convoluted a matter it is.
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Tommy Christopher, at the Daily Banter, analyzes the ongoing disagreement on trade policy between Senator Elizabeth Warren and President Obama. Everyone has strength and weaknesses. Tommy concludes that President Obama is telling the truth. In this case, Senator Warren has ...well... other strengths.