What I Missed

CN: Rape, Catholicism

Been gone for over a week now. If I have the time, I might also post about my trip, which was amazing, and will interest almost three of you.

The world stopped spinning in the interim, right? No noteworthy events I need to worry about? No? Some things did happen? Guess we should talk about those, then.

Steubenville rape convictions

The two football players who raped a girl, then posted all of the evidence online, have been convicted of rape.Which means that we now have a bunch of rape apologia to wade through, from Candy Crowley’s bemoaning the loss of such promising lives that the rapists could have had if they weren’t busy assaulting passed out girls, to Breitbart.com’s predictable “blame the media” gambit.

The worst responses, I think, are coming from Ma’lik Richmond’s family members, though, who are understandably trying to blame anybody other than their family member. One has been arrested for threatening Jane Doe online for “[ripping her] family apart.” I kinda feel sad on this one, since she really is incapable of recognizing that her rapist cousin is the one at fault, not the person who turned in her rapist cousin.

The saddest, though, is Richmond’s father who has sad, “I told Ma’lik to put all his trust in God. God will see him through this.” It’s a shame that God didn’t decide to see Ma’lik through to not raping somebody. I can’t understand this reliance on an all-powerful super being that wants the best for us only after dropping the ball on making sure the worst doesn’t happen in the first place. I would much rather that Richmond and Mays learn the value of other human beings, especially women, than put their trust in a man in the sky that isn’t historically known for treating women with respect or dignity.

I will admit that my first reaction to all of this was to revel in the schadenfreude. I didn’t much care that the defendants broke into tears after the verdict was read. They’re rapists, they deserve that sort of misery at least. However, I will also admit that my enjoyment of their sorrow was tamped down by Ashley Miller’s post calling for a middle ground that does recognize that rapists are still people without also requiring that they be forgiven or let off the hook.

Dehumanizing rapists has the effect of distancing ourselves from the chilling reality that people who have raped aren’t uncommon, making them just monsters makes it that much harder for us to accept that “normal” people who are accused may well be guilty.

Thanks for the perspective, Ashley. Trying to make them “monsters” contributes to the idea that “regular, nice” people can’t be rapists, and that makes it more difficult to combat rape.

New pope

We now have a new Pope, and already people are praising him for his “humility” and how he’s a “reformer.” The fact is, he’s almost as much of an asshole as the last one (thanks to Aoife at the Tea Cozy for collecting that research), he just doesn’t like to remind people of it. That he lives in an apartment doesn’t mean that the Church didn’t spend millions maintaining the opulent residence that he eschewed back in Buenos Aries, it just meant he wasted all of that money that could have been used to help real people.

Also, he still considers me to be basically a tool of the Boogeyman…er, Satan, and my (as well as your) female friends to be incubators, even when they were raped. Also, while he feels that people who support bodily autonomy for women and same-sex marriage should be denied communion, he has no problem personally administering the sacrament to brutal dictators that kidnap political opponents and, much like the Church itself, steal babies to place in more acceptable households.

Let’s be fair to Pope Frankie, though. In order to get to that level of power within the Vatican, you kind of have to be an asshole. It’s very rare that you get real reformers in the Holy See because a) they were appointed by their predecessor, usually, and b) this is the party line. John XXIII was an aberration, and even then the reforms he made were mostly about making the same old stuff more accessible. The really radical stuff from Vatican II has been ignored by conservative popes like John Paul II and Benedict XVI who have been clear that they consider it all meaningless and heretical. So it’s not like Frances can walk into office and say that the Church is now pro-gay.

There are things he can do, however. He can demand that the order of nuns that ran the Magdaline Laundries stop working with the Irish government to run similar social welfare programs today. He can actually do something about people who covered up child abuse in the Church. He can go to Africa and say that condoms don’t spread AIDS, they reduce it.

But he won’t. And you’ll have people like commenter Emmet at WWJTD who wax on about the “depth and richness of the faith“, as if pomp and circumstance make up for the cruelty and victimization. Much like there are not enough soup kitchens in the world that somebody can start to make up for a single raped child, there is no amount of gold brocade dresses and gem-encrusted slippers that can do the same.

Growth and Opportunity Project

The GOP has unveiled their “Growth and Opportunity Project,” the plan on how to start winning elections without mucking with voting laws again. And, unsurprisingly, it’s basically just the same thing they’ve always believed, but not shouted as loudly.

The Party should be proud of its conservative principles, but just because someone disagrees with us on 20 percent of the issues, that does not mean we cannot come together on the rest of the issues where we do agree.

That, according to RNC chair Reince Priebus. The problem, of course, is that there is nothing to be proud of with those principles. It’s a stunted ideology that prizes nothing but the desire to slit the throats of anybody standing in the way of everything you want. The GOP won’t be able to get young people on board so long as they are still the party of homophobia, racism, and misogyny, even if they are quieter about it.

That’s why I have trouble giving full credit to Rob Portman, a conservative Senator who has come out in favor of same-sex marriage because he has a gay son. First, I wonder how often in the past two years Portman has tried to convince his son to get help, that he’s not really gay, but that’s speculation. Secondly, while I appreciate his new stance, he didn’t come to it out of a sense of justice, but because it affected him personally. Matt Yglesias calls it “the politics of narcissism.”

Rob Portman doesn’t have a son with a pre-existing medical condition who’s locked out of the health insurance market. Rob Portman doesn’t have a son engaged in peasant agriculture whose livelihood is likely to be wiped out by climate change. Rob Portman doesn’t have a son who’ll be malnourished if SNAP benefits are cut. So Rob Portman doesn’t care.

Those of us in the atheosphere often talk about the problem with doing good things for bad reasons, usually in response to “Well, if that person’s belief in Jesus/Ahura Mazda/Whatever gets them to be kinder and more charitable, then what’s the big deal if they’re right or not?” And this issue with Portman is a great example. Without a solid, foundational basis in material reality, then a person’s goodness and empathy become highly specialized, and they stop pursuing justice because it’s just, and rather do so because specific action items benefit them.

Also, faith-based goodness is too easy to turn on its head, a phenomenon best illustrated by Greta Christina’s (really Brownian’s) Hair Dryer analogy. Whether you’re shooting redheads or volunteering at soup kitchens because your hair dryer is telling you doesn’t matter because you’re still listening to your hair dryer which could presumably change its mind at any point. If Rob Portman’s son decides he doesn’t want to get married, Portman’s newfound love of SSM will evaporate as quickly as it materialized and he will quietly start following the Growth and Opportunity Project plan of opposing equality, but in a way that doesn’t turn off young straight voters.

The Amazing Atheist again demonstrates that he’s an entitled jackwagon

Before I left, I posted Anita Sarkeesian’s first Tropes vs Women video (which was awesome). Unsurprisingly, she turned off comments on it because she’s capable of learning and that it would just be a place where mouth breathing MRAs masturbate themselves into a frenzy complaining about how the video doesn’t meet whatever standard they’ve suddenly decided was the most important thing in the world ever.

And one stands out. The Amazing Atheist hasn’t figured out that making a ten minute video about how someone isn’t letting you critique them is hilarious for those of us possessed of self-awareness. More “not being able to abuse people wherever I feel like violates my rights” bullshit. No need to dwell further.

“Sincerely Held Beliefs” rears its ugly head again

Miri points out that if your beliefs keep you from doing a job, find another one. Tennessee has started the process of passing a law (just got voted out of committee) that allows bigots who want to be counselors to be able to express their bigotry.

Personally, I find this sort of thing highly ironic coming from the Christian Right, for whom it is literally an element of faith that they will be persecuted and discriminated against. However, they go to incredible lengths to make sure that they never have to suffer the most minor inconvenience for their faith. I suppose the way they get the third nail in is to just claim that it’s there.

The thing is, I don’t want people to suffer, for their faith or for any reason. Suffering sucks. But if you’re going to tell me over and over again that my pointing out your bigotry means I’m oppressing you, then stop making yourself a liar and actually be oppressed. You can’t have it both ways.

Also, I really hate the phrase “sincerely held religious beliefs.” The fact that you really, really believe something awful doesn’t make it less awful. The strength of your faith in cruelty makes it no less cruel. The weight you place on your commitment to stupidity makes it no less stupid.

Malala goes back to school!

Going to wrap up with some positive notes. I Facebooked about this on the road yesterday because I was so excited, but Malala Yousafzai has started going back to school again in Birmingham. She is safe in England where she can attend classes without having to worry as much about being shot in the head for it. She’s, without a question, my favorite for the Nobel Peace Prize this year and somebody I truly admire. I hope she continues to do amazing things with her life.

Finally, some videos
A dad altered his daughter’s Donkey Kong game so that Pauline is the playable character rescuing Jumpman

Via Emma Wolf

Somebody wrote a musical interpretation of Pi based on numbering the notes in the scale and using the numbers for chords. In the mood for interesting musical things. Heard an original piece last week that did something really clever with the Cantus Firma (will only go into detail on request here), so playing with theory is my current mood. Either way, this sounds good.


7 thoughts on “What I Missed

  1. Stubenville: did you read Henry Rollins’ ramblings on it? I liked a lot of what he had to say. I linked to it over on my FB, and it sparked a bit of a discussion you might want to wade into at some point.

    CPAC: Basically we got more of “Conservatism cannot fail, it can only be failed”. Then Orly Taitz and Geller screamed at each other, KKK members vouched for the “Frederick Douglass Republicans”, and we all facepalmed and said: “This is why you can’t have nice things, GOP.”

    TAA: Thunderfoot also chimed in with some anti-Anita Sarkeesian douchehattery.

    Fun week.

    • The Rollins stuff was good, and I get annoyed when people like the one on your FB deny rape culture and pretend that the way to stop these sorts of things is, once again, more and harsher punishment. He seems to get that teaching people about consent is good, but fails to understand that the idea that consent is something that isn’t clearly and obviously given on a case by case basis is a part of what is meant by “rape culture.”

      CPAC just gets more and more pathetic every year. We keep seeing them attempt to maintain the power of white straight cis evangelical men and simultaneously not understanding why people who aren’t those don’t welcome that authority with open arms. It was at least nice to see that Brian Brown was roundly ignored, but that doesn’t mean that young conservatives are any better for ignoring Brown while still supporting people who mirror his opinions.

      Checked out tf00t’s little rant, and it’s pretty sad. More of the “she only talked about things that support her thesis! We all know that every argument has to talk about everything ever!” It’s sad the number of people who think that this passes for legitimate argument.

    • Saw that. I think the best part is that the Mail didn’t even read their own chart correctly. It’s bad enough that they had a bad chart, but then they even got that wrong.

  2. “I think you’re subhuman and don’t deserve basic bodily autonomy, but hey. We agree on X other thing, so you should totally vote for us!” Or “Our party line is that you’re a horrible abomination that is out to ruin the sacred institution of marriage and also you like to diddle kids, but we agree on economics, so here’s your RepubClub card!”

    No. Just…No. How does that even work? Do they really, honestly believe that people are going to think like that?

    I don’t even.

    • Exactly. I have a question for anyone who falls for that sort of lines. “How much are you willing to sell other people’s rights for?” Seriously, if you back people who oppose civil rights for women or queer people because you think you’ll get tax cuts or your boss will magically raise your salary because he has more money, then clearly there’s a price you put on the civil rights of others. I like to know exactly how much people will take to sell me out. It teds to put their “we just support the economic policies” into perspective.

  3. Pingback: “So I’m not going to marry one” | Reasonable Conversation

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