Why the Recent Spate of “Religious Freedom” Bills May Be a Good Thing

Anybody who has been paying attention to politics recently has probably heard about the “religious freedom” bills that have been hitting a number of states recently. It’s a little mind boggling that all of them have been making it to state legislatures all at the same time, with similar language, but so far it’s been very difficult to actually track where they are coming from. Usually when bills like this are all proposed simultaneously, there is somebody not only writing the model legislation but willing to claim it. So far it’s been difficult at best to track down the origin.

Regardless, what started in Kansas has grown to a number of other states including Georgia, South Dakota, Tennessee, Hawaii, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Oregon, Idaho, Alabama, Michigan, Maine, West Virginia, and is being considered in Utah. Most famous has been the recent veto of a bill that passed both houses of the Arizona legislature.

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Go see why this might be a positive thing in a couple of ways in the full post over at Queereka.

Lowered Expectations + Vague Statements = Person of the Year

fckh8-pope-meme

By now you’ve heard that the Advocate has named Pope Francis its person of the year. In perhaps one of the most cringingly apologetic and sycophantic pieces published about the Supreme Pontiff, Lucas Grindley reaches to draw the barest scraps of meaning out of the most innocuous of statements. In fact, reading this piece, you’ll notice that most of the article is Grindley doing little more than repeating himself or explaining why other people deserve the praise more. I almost feel as if the editorial board made the decision, and poor Lucas was tasked with writing it up. But let’s examine this article to see if we can divine the thinking that makes what appears to be pandering to pop culture lionization into a legitimate choice.

As I mentioned, the first six paragraphs are about how other people should have been given this honor. Grindley focuses especially on Edie Windsor, the brave woman whose case got a part of DOMA thrown out in court. It’s followed by this remarkably cop out

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Thus begins my new piece for Queereka. Read the whole article on that site.

Let Slip the Reindeer of War

Seeing as how we are post-Thanksgiving, I think it’s safe to say that the War on Christmas has begun again. I’m woefully under armored for this particular fight, having no t-shirts or jackets that actively disparage religion or Christmas in general.

In fact, I am a pretty miserable soldier in the War on Christmas. Yes, I commit the unpardonable sin of saying “happy holidays,” but there are those like Richard Beck who claim that I am actually being less blasphemous by doing so.

It’s blasphemous to post “Merry Christmas” all through a shopping mall. It’s blasphemous to slap the name of Jesus on all the Xboxs, Playstations, iPhones, and High-Def TVs. “Happy Holidays,” while still not great given that I don’t like the word “holy” being involved, is much better than “Merry Christmas.”

And the association of “Merry Christmas” with the local, state and federal governments is just as problematic. The Nativity set in the town square is just as profane and blasphemous as the “Merry Christmas” on the Xbox.

In short, while I’m very happy to have a more tolerant and liberalized shopping experience during the holiday season (out of simple civic respect I don’t want my Muslim or Jewish neighbours to be greeted with “Merry Christmas”), my deeper concern is how the “War on Christmas” panic is inherently blasphemous and idolatrous.

Leave it to Beck to ruin my fun.

Though, I have to admit, it’s a rather quiet war this year. I mean, we’ve had some early volleys with Sarah Palin’s failed book and Rick Santorum’s failed movie (point of order: what idiot thought to release a contemporary Christian film in theaters instead of direct-to-DVD?), but for the most part we haven’t been given the Full Fox Press on every retailer that didn’t address their specific holiday consistently. Maybe because it’s still Hanukkah and it could be considered anti-Israel to ignore that as long as it doesn’t conflict with December 26th?

Either way, unless Christians find some new way to weaponize The Christmas Shoes this year (a collectable card game, maybe?), I’m planning a nice, relaxing holiday season where I don’t have to worry about being berated for not paying obeisance to the cobbled together remains of somebody else’s celebration. So, here’s just some of the things I plan to do this December.

1. Listen to Holiday Music – This can include a lot of things. I’m always looking for new versions of Good King Wenceslas, since that’s my favorite carol. Of course, I’ll probably work on trying to learn the perennially beautiful White Wine in the Sun. I’m a big fan of the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society’s A Very Scary Solstice and An Even Scarier Solstice (my favorites are “Harley got Devoured by the Undead” and “I Saw Mommy Kissing Yog-Sothoth”). Otherwise, whether they’re religious or not, I love Christmas carols and will spend the next month singing them to myself and anyone who stands still long enough to listen.

2. Watching Holiday Movies – When I was growing up, I had a VHS tape that was just loaded with holiday movies. Santa Claus: the Movie, A Chipmunk Christmas, A Charlie Brown Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and a number of others. I have since found digital copies of all of them seeing as I no longer own a VHS player and the tape is worn out anyway, and I make an effort to watch them all this month. I have since added a number of others. Alf’s Special Christmas is a tearjerker about love and life that shouldn’t come from a big nosed puppet Rodney Dangerfield rip-off.

The Muppets have so many Christmas specials it’s hard to watch them all (BTW: if you haven’t seen this year’s with Lady Gaga, watch it. It’s hilarious, and the gender-swapped “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” with Joseph Gordon-Levitt is perfect), but I try. The Muppet Christmas Carol is a must, however, and it’s something the whole family enjoys. In fact, part of the tradition is gushing with my father over how entertaining the rats are in that film.

A Claymation Christmas, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, Christmas Vacation, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, Die Hard. I love them all and can’t wait to be able to start watching through them this year.

3. Charity – I find myself more in need of charity than able to give it this year, but I still plan to work for local charities when I have the opportunity. By sheer luck, the restaurant the Dark Lord of Bakery works at got in contact with the person who runs a local battered women’s shelter, so I’m going to try to help them do fundraising for that group. I also won’t donate to the Salvation Army for obvious reasons, but I do make a point of noting how much money I would have given a bell ringer and, at the end of the season, donating that amount of a local charity, usually one that takes in homeless LGBT youth like the Zebra Coalition. And there are countless opportunities to do good all season long that I will try and avail myself of.

4. Spend Time With Loved Ones- The Sovereign of Aesthetics and the Bladed Poet are having a gathering at their home this year for us to get together, drink, sing, and play board games. So basically the same thing we do all year long, but I get to do it in a sweater, and I look amazing in sweaters. I also plan to go over there, in combination with #2 above, to show said Sovereign the Muppet/Gaga holiday special she missed. Plus I might make my family’s annual Christmas party this year, which is always fun. And for the holiday itself, it’s a big Italian meal at my parents’ house. So there will be plenty of time to socialize and enjoy the company of loved ones this year.

I could go on, but this is how I plan to fight the War on Christmas this year. More to the point, I plan on fighting it by doing basically the same things as the religious right professional martyrs do, but with no obligation to say “Merry Christmas” unless I feel like it. I encourage everyone, this holiday season, to use the greeting they feel comfortable with, accept other greetings in the spirit in which they were meant, and focus your ire on yelling at your family about health care reform, as is traditional.

Happy holidays to you all, and keep an eye out for more posts as I can.

Batkid is The Best Thing Ever

Wow, it’s dusty around here.

So, all of my writing time has been for work these days (please click the donate button on the main page if you want to see me focus more here), but I had to come out and write here because I apparently missed the best story of the month, possibly the year, and need to comment on it.

My favorite charity, the Make-a-Wish Foundation (I toured Europe with a jazz band doing work for them twice) granted a wish for a leukemia survivor by going to my favorite medium, comic books. Not only did they turn him into “Batkid,” they had him running around the city in a Lamborghini Batmobile with Batman and his kid brother dressed a Robin. He disarmed a bomb and rescued a woman tied to cable car tracks, mere seconds before the cable car came by. Then he stopped the Riddler from robbing a bank. Then he saved the SF Giants’ mascot, Lou Seal, from being kidnapped by the Penguin who was also hauled off the prison. Both villains were in their delightful Adam West-era costumes.

But that’s not the best part. The best part is that thousands of people got involved in this. San Francisco was turned into Gotham City for this event. There were people cheering him wherever he went. The actual Chief of Police made a public call for his help, and thousands begged his assistance. Graham Nolan, co-creator of Bane and artist for several excellent Batman stories, drew a picture of Bane being frightened of Miles Scott, the 5-year-old secret identity of the mini Caped Crusader.

batkid baneAbout 12,000 volunteers from the city got involved in this. The president of the United States sent him a Vine to congratulate him on his work. He was given the key to the city. The San Francisco Chronicle turned its front page into the Gotham City Chronicle to run stories about his exploits. Former and future Batmen Ben Affleck, Adam West, and Michael Keaton all had great things to say to him.

gotham city chronicleThere is nothing bad about this story, except for a few assholes who think that it was wrong to do because he is in remission. Make-a-Wish’s response: “We would never penalize a child for getting better.”

This is so incredible. This is what comic books are supposed to be about: giving hope to people who don’t have it, making ordinary people feel extraordinary, and uniting people in goodness. It’s what a lot of comic book fans were saying was missing from Man of Steel.

But the sheer outpouring reaction from people is a perfect example of the greatness of human beings. When we come together for goodness, we do amazing things. Thousands of people gave up part of their days just to make a sick five year old feel good about himself.

This story made my year. This is why I read comic books, and why I support Make-a-Wish, and why I love human beings despite all of our flaws.

Man Divorced From Reality Running For Sheriff

Mark Kessler, a man who doesn’t let reality get in the way of his simplistic worldview and violent hatred of people not like him, has decided since it’s likely that he will be fired as police chief of Gilberton, PA, that he will run a write in campaign for county sheriff.

The parade of ridiculous is amusing and frightening, like Halloween Horror Nights with fewer strobes, but pay attention to the bolded part from this Facebook post (emphasis mine) :

when your back is against the wall, when the odds are almost impossible to overcome, that my friends is when we the people finally stand up and say , ENOUGH! so all I can say is this!, BRING IT YOU PACK OF SCUM SUCKING SHIT BAG POLITICIANS, i’m not politically correct , damn proud of that I must say! I don’t come with a smile and a bag of bullshit every four or two years, NEVER HAVE NEVER WILL!, I don’t need to suck the so called elected elites ass cracks to run for anything, or get the stamp of approval from the so called elected elites! I’m an AMERICAN, nothing more nothing less, I love my country, I honor our military who honor their oath, I honor all American Patriots, and all those who shed their blood of gave the ultimate sacrifice defending freedom whether on the field of battle or not! as for you scum sucking politicians from the left & right, WE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ARE COMING AND YES WE ARE PISSED OFF! so NOVEMBER 5TH 2013 WRITE IN MARK KESSLER FOR SCHUYLKILL COUNTY SHERIFF, one true american patriot! and lets give this CURRENT thuggery regime here in Schuylkill county & across the nation THE BOOT!

I’m going to do a favor to everyone who has ever claimed not to be politically correct and recommend that you stop making that claim. When you say, “I’m not politically correct,”  you think you’re saying, “I’m a bold warrior for free speech.” What you are actually saying is, “Other people? Who gives a shit about them? Why should they stand in the way of my saying any bizarre or ridiculous thing that comes into my head the moment I think of it and suffer no social consequences for it?”

You see, another phrase that means the same thing as being “politically correct” is “being nice.” If you sincerely believe that there are people who, due to any given difference from you, don’t deserve at least a modicum of respect or kindness as the default behavior, then you should not be proud of that. You should be ashamed and start immediately watching re-runs of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.

People who rail against political correctness either don’t understand what it means, or they’re looking for an excuse to be gigantic assholes and feel morally superior for it. Nobody is buying it, though. You want to be a douche of epic proportions, you go right ahead, but don’t expect me to praise your honesty. If your honest opinion is, like the thoroughly unhinged and armed Kessler that people who disagree with him are “fucking cocksuckers” who ought to be shot, then you are a seriously sick individual and I hope you’ll limit your contact with human beings.

If you reject kindness as some sort of unfair burden on your liberty and attempt to martyr yourself because people didn’t like that you’re a jerk, then it’s time to re-evaluate your behavior. There is nothing noble about being “not politically correct.” It is no more a virtue than being uninformed and claiming that that gives you a completely unbiased perspective. In both cases you are glorifying ignorance.

Daily Caller Mocks Trans* Students

There are some people who think that Tucker Carlson is a nice guy, one of those conservatives that aren’t fire breathing radicals. They remember when he was on MSNBC, they look at the bowties that preceded Doctor Who but not Buckaroo Banzai, and think, “he’s not so bad.” But they would be wrong, at least when it comes to his website.

The Daily Caller actually has a habit of being awful, especially to trans* people, but this is somewhat of a new (not really new) low: being awful to trans* kids. On September 11, the Douche Canoe posted an article titled, “This week in transgender high schoolers running for homecoming king, queen, whatever“, a misgendering nightmare about school districts that are giving trans* students a hard time about running for the appropriate Homecoming title.

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Thus begins my latest post for Queereka. Head over there and take a look.

Words Mean Things: “Out of Context”

We’re introducing a new feature on this blog called “Words Mean Things.” It’s where I explore various phrases that have come to be used in pop conversation as defensive or offensive rhetoric, but are completely divorced from any substantive meaning.

The inspiration for this feature and today’s entry comes in the comments for yesterday’s post about Dawkins. Quoted partially.

Way to take on [sic] paragraph out of context and write an essay condemning him. Do you have too much time on your hands?

I have since asked James for the context that makes his statements better and have received no reply, so I assume he’s merely been too busy.

However, there are many people far less scrupulous than James who don’t realize that “out of context” has a meaning and is not code for “thing that makes somebody sound bad.”

Let’s explore.

“Context” refers to the information surrounding something. Data is rarely clear in a vacuum, and is rather influenced by other data surrounding it that gives you, the observer, a sense of perspective by which you can accurately determine meaning from what you are seeing.

This is an aspect of science that particularly confuses Creationists. You see, when we discuss the mountains of evidence for evolution, we are talking about context. We understand how gravity and time work, for example, so we know that things on the bottom of piles got there first and are therefore older, so when we find a fossil that appears to be in an earlier stage of development for various traits buried deeper in the ground, we can draw a provisional conclusion that it may be a transitional fossil to something we found higher up from something that will be found lower. Keep in mind that this is a highly, highly simplified example.

Now, let us take that same fossil discovery and put it to a Creationist. Whether they want to admit it or not, for that discovery to not be consistent with evolution, either time or gravity would have to work differently in order to deposit fossils someplace in the ground that they wouldn’t otherwise be if they were consistent. So, Creationists often try to pick apart the validity of the find itself (often referring to Piltdown Man), rather than addressing that it was found exactly where we predicted it would be. That is taking out of context.

How about another example?

Out of context things are often used in the service of comedy. For example, one of my favorite Tumblrs is Archie Out of Context, which takes one or two panels from Archie comics and separates them from the rest of the comic, letting you draw your own, mostly sexual, conclusions. Here’s twenty that are absolutely hilarious, including a few of my favorites (“Oh! So Jesus is a giant Aspirin tablet!!!”).

One could also argue that the humor in comedies of errors results from taking things out of context. The Life of Brian is a great example, where we have poor Brian of Nazareth who is assumed to be the much hoped for messiah, despite nothing in his life indicating that this is the case. He’s a fairly unremarkable guy who has his every action re-written in order to fit the new context that others have developed for him, such as in this, one of my favorite scenes:

The “context” of the scene that we see is that Brian is running from a mob of fanatical devotees who want him to lead them, and he loses his shoe in the process. However, the zealots don’t understand that he is a normal guy with no wisdom to impart. They have taken the event out of the context of his life and inserted it into the context of a messiah giving them guidance. The shoe stops being a mistake caused by being in a hurry and is now The Sign.

Now that we know what “context” is, let us see how “out of context” is abused.

Remember this ad from the last presidential campaign that seems to have President Obama saying, “If we talk about the economy, we’re going to lose”?

It was the first Romney ad that came out for the general. But when we took at look at when and where that line was actually said, we see that Obama was actually referring to a quote from a John McCain staffer in the presidential election before that. He was trying to summarize the attitude of the McCain campaign at the time, which was suffering from its party identification with the president and Congress that helped put us in what we were just realizing would be one of the worst economic disasters in American history. In this case, context demonstrates that what is being implied is the exact opposite of what was said.

On the flip side of that, last June Rep. Trent Franks from Arizona commented that, “The incidents of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low,” in order to justify having no rape exception in his 20 week national abortion ban. When he was hit from the left for the statement, he claimed he was “taken out of context.” In this case, that is nothing but a dodge, because nothing he said around that statement in any way changes that he was basically ignoring the 32,000 pregnancies that result from rape every year, nor would it make his statement any more relevant (i.e. even if only one woman got pregnant from rape, shouldn’t she not be forced to carry her rapist’s baby?).

It is in this second vein that I am taking claims about Dawkins being “taken out of context.” Maybe there is more to the article that I am missing, but so far it doesn’t look like anything that was said around those quotes changes that he appears to be speaking for his classmates regarding whether they were affected by their molestation, that he recognizes degrees of molestation, or that he thinks that you can’t judge people in earlier generations for their horrible behavior based on social expectations of the time. And taking in further context of previous statements he’s made, it’s directly in line with a demonstrable callous indifference to people who are not just like him or capable of serving his interests.

And that is what “out of context” means.

Why Do You Want To Be on Team Rapist?

CN: Rape/rapists

I’ve been mulling this over for a little while now, and I think I have an idea of what’s going on with the Team Dickwolves thing: these people think they’re funny.

But let me set this up a little bit:

In the 1980s, Gary Brodsky, son of longtime Marvel comics executive Sol Brodsky, started Solson Publications. Solson specialized in black and white books with even more ludicrous premises than most comics, stuff like Reagan’s Raiders and The Bushido Blade of Zatoichi Walrus, but that wasn’t the end of it.

You see, Brodsky is an MRA. While he failed miserably at comics, he has made a killing consulting with pathetic men on how to get laid more often. However, that propensity for ubermench dickishness came out in Solson books as well, most notably with titles like Sultry Teenage Super Foxes, a book about scantily clan women living on an Air Force base with their high-ranking fathers and, despite having many conversations, still can’t pass the Bechdel Test because they used an alchemy machine to give themselves superpowers for the express purpose of attracting the hot, young airmen.

Now, I’m going to put up an ad here for Sultry Teenage Super Foxes, and I want you to pay attention to what the disembodied MRA head is saying.

Stupid ad for Solson Publishing

Even “grating” is an aspect of “personality,” I suppose.

You see, Gary Brodsky and his publishing house aren’t incredibly sexist. They have personality. In fact, they’re the only comic publisher who does.

Getting back to the relatively recent past, after Mike made his…well, fairly standard dumb statements at PAX Prime, my friend and guest blogger here, Lisa, texted me with a really good question: why would you want to be on Team Rapist?

Seriously, that’s an excellent question. Those who freaked out about not being able to buy shirts that said “Team Dickwolves,” where Dickwolves=rapists (so much so that @TeamRape was created on Twitter just to harass people who don’t like rapists), were basically saying that they want to walk around proclaiming their allegiance to rapists. Not to the idea of rape or the thought that rape is somehow a joke, but within the context of that shirt, of actual rapists.

Lisa also pointed out that while it’s nice that they’re identifying themselves so that they can be avoided, it might not be worth the triggering on people who can’t really handle walking around with people loudly proclaiming their support of non-consensual sex.

The funny thing is, these are the same people who likely react to concepts like Schrodinger’s Rapist by claiming how sexist it is to assume all men are rapists. I’d be curious to know if it’s ok to assume that the people walking around with t-shirts claiming support for rapists might be, or if that would be sexist as well?

Alex Lifschitz has an amazing piece on the nature of apologies and why it’s so important that we continue to be vocal about why it’s a good thing to not sell shirts that say, essentially, that the wearer supports rapists, and not some action that further embroils you in controversy.

Outright identifying as “a dick” or getting angry with a critic does not unshackle Mike from the personal responsibility of tempering his outbursts, like some discoursal equivalent of the Stand Your Ground law. He doesn’t get to be a dick anymore if Penny Arcade want to be perceived as a positive industry force. His thumb-fingered morality has become the trough feed of tens of thousands of up-and comers in the game industry. And as long as he spews it, he will have high-minded, conscience-stricken people to be his personal pains-in-the-ass until he gives things a second thought.

Do I think Mike cares about the comfort of people at his conference? Yeah, I do. But apparently, his desire for everyone at PAX to feel safe does not outpace his lack of understanding regarding why anyone would feel unsafe in the first place, nor his improvised intertwining and decoupling of his identity with his station in game culture to more effectively skirt the accusation du jour.

The problem with Mike and with Brodsky and with the people who really, really want shirts that say “Team Rapist” is that they sincerely think that rape can be funny. They think that merely stating an absurdity (because obviously none of them are racist or sexist) is funny, like they’re the Monty Pythons of rape jokes.

Now, I’ve studied comedy for most of my life and I can assure you that even if there was some way to tell that you weren’t a rapist just by looking at you, it’s still not funny just to misidentify something. Remember when Prince Harry thought that it would be hilarious to wear a swastika armband to a Halloween party? I have less of a reason to think that Prince Harry is a Nazi sympathizer than I do to think you’re a rapist, and it still isn’t funny.

Absurdist comedy is really difficult, and it’s more than just putting a sign on a chair that says “cat” and calling it a day. It’s more than drawing not very smart, underaged girls fighting crime for the sole purpose of getting men’s attention. It’s more than walking around proudly proclaiming your love of rape because everybody should know that you don’t actually love rape.

As the old showbiz saying goes, “Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.” So, let me be perfectly clear: you’re not funny. I know you’ll dismiss me as some Feminist killjoy, but saying that you support rapists is simply not funny.

So don’t feel sad that you can’t proclaim to everybody who sees you how awesome you think rape is. Instead, think of it as an opportunity to not be a giant douche while simultaneously not telling the world that you think sex with unwilling partners is just the bestest. You’re welcome.

Update: Just looking through @Teamrape, and here’s exactly what I’m talking about:

Why Do We Keep Listening to Dawkins?

Seriously. I know he has been incredibly important to the atheist movement, but let’s take a step back and ask if it’s worth listening to somebody who apparently thinks that we can’t judge pedophiles before a certain arbitrary date because they didn’t know any better.

In a recent interview with the Times of London, Dawkins described his own early schooling and pointed out that he was molested as a child by a master at his boarding school.

Professor Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist, describes in a new autobiography how a master at his Salisbury prep school “pulled me on to his knee and put his hand inside my shorts”. He writes that the episode was “extremely disagreeable” and that other boys were molested by the same teacher, but concludes: “I don’t think he did any of us any lasting damage.”

He also describes this as “mild paedophilia” and says that you can’t judge people in the past by your own moral standard.

“Just as we don’t look back at the 18th and 19th centuries and condemn people for racism in the same way as we would condemn a modern person for racism, I look back a few decades to my childhood and see things like caning, like mild paedophilia, and can’t find it in me to condemn it by the same standards as I or anyone would today.”

Ok, first of all, how the fuck would Richard Dawkins know if any of his schoolmates who were also molested by this creepy schoolmaster suffered “lasting damage?” As Greta Christina points out, he can speak for himself, not for them. Considering his demonstrable disdain for the the science of human behavior, he probably wouldn’t accept the opinions of people who say that molestation can and does inflict lasting damage on many, many children.

Secondly, in exactly what year did it become no longer ok to touch children’s genitals for sexual pleasure? I’m really kind of curious. PZ touched on this as well, but I would like to point out that one of the many arguments that atheists use to counter the “the New Testament got rid of all that Old Testament stuff” is that the Old Testament stuff was never moral to begin with. The premise of the argument is that a perfect god would never have ordered the wholesale slaughter of thousands of people, or the capture and rape of young girls, or the stoning of any number of people, including those who had the audacity to gather firewood on the Sabbath. A perfect god would have outlawed those things to begin with rather than wait a few thousand years and then correct that error. Just saying, “Well, things were different back then, cultural context, it was the only way to protect them, blah, blah, blahty, blah,” doesn’t actually make any of those things ever a good or moral thing to do. It’s an effective tactic because the person making the argument must either admit that god wrote those things, but is not perfectly moral, or that men wrote them in the cultural context in which they lived and as they grew more enlightened, they started to correct their self-serving, barbaric behavior by claiming that a perfect deity changed its mind.

So to hear Dawkins say that there was a time when child molestation was a-ok basically undermines the argument that immoral behavior remains immoral whether or not the pervading opinions of the time hold it to be so. In other words, I damn well do hold the racism of the 18th and 19th century against the people holding those opinions. I may recognize that they were not in possession of the wealth of thought that I have available to me to formulate the conclusion that race is a bullshit idea with no bearing on a person’s potential except inasmuch as they must deal with racism, but that doesn’t mean that I will blithely excuse their terrible opinions or wave them off as insignificant. It means that I will engage their racism as I do with any of their other arguments and demonstrate why its wrong, even if that person may be right about other things.

Knowing Dawkins, he will spend the next couple of days on Twitter trying to explain how everybody just doesn’t understand the nuances of what he was saying, then trying to describe those nuances in 140 characters or less, but I sincerely hope that maybe he surprises us and actually learns from this that there are no degrees of pedophilia, that you absolutely can and must judge the past by the new information we have today, and that he doesn’t get to tell us whether his schoolmates suffered because of what happened to them.

UPDATE: Dawkins has clarified his statements and apologized for his presumption about his classmates’ reactions or experiences. I am, frankly, surprised, and while there’s a lot in there that suggests that it’s our fault for not getting it, he seems contrite on the important points, and that seems reasonable.

Pull List of Justice: September 2013

pulllistofjusticeRegular readers of my stuff will know that I am a comic book fanatic and have argued many times that comics have historically been at the forefront of social progress, often addressing issues that television and other mediums have been unable or unwilling to. Yes, they can also be problematic, but I contend that finding the right book with the right author can lead to a wealth of fantastic characters representing all sorts of diverse types of people and ideas.

So welcome to the beginning of what will hopefully be a monthly feature in which I describe the wonderful things that are happening in the comics I read that send a positive message in the social justice arena. I should point out that I can only really write about the comics I actually read, so if you have a book that you think would be great that I don’t cover, mention it in the comments. Otherwise, all comics and characters are the property of their respective companies and are being reproduced in part here under Fair Use guidelines.

Now, let’s jump right in.

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Thus begins my latest piece for Queereka. I hope that this will become a regular thing and get more people reading some of the amazing and socially progressive comics out there.