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

____________________

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

Advertisements

Judge: Hiding Money From Rape Victims A-OK

Regular readers will know that I consider Timmy Cardinal Dolan to be an example of the worst that humanity has to offer. A fetid pustule bloated by self-righteous ego-mania, Timmy is more than homophobic, more than just a defender of child rapists, he is also a fraud and a thief. Except, not according to one Wisconsin judge.

I wrote in my Human Excommunication of Timmy about how, when faced with lawsuits for those priests he allowed to continue to rape children for years when he couldn’t pay them to do it as a hobby instead of professionally, the sanguine coward moved money around into another fund to make it immune from being seized and given to the victims he tried to silence.

Unfortunately, to Judge Rudolph Randa, compensating rape victims is a secondary concern to making sure that men in Milwaukee can continue telling people stories every Sunday because having to pay for their crimes would, “substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion.” Basically, because it was moved into a cemetery fund, and the upkeep of cemeteries is important to the Catholic faith, then taking away that money prevents them from practicing their religion. And, as we also see with the Magdalene Laundries, it‘s pretty clear that accepting responsibility for and making amends when you do awful, inhuman things is not a part of the Catholic faith, ergo Timmy’s accounting trick is legal.

Do I really need to go into the problems with this? I recently got a traffic ticket, so does that mean that I can simply insist that the Flying Spaghetti Monster disapproves of tolls but demands that the fastest available route be taken, therefore trying to make me pay to use roads hampers my free religious exercise? What we’re seeing with Randa is another example of people who seem to think that believing in fairy tales with enough conviction is reasonable justification for any action. Usually it’s trying to force other people to live by the strictures of your religion (e.g. abortion, abstinence only sex education, same-sex marriage, etc), but it’s becoming quite in vogue for prominent religious people in this country to say that their faith should exempt them from the law or even criticism of their ridiculous ideas.

The good news is that Randa is usually overturned on appeal. The bad news is that there is at least one person who is so monumentally screwed up that he thinks that denying compensation to rape victims is entirely ok if an invisible sky pixie wants to make sure the things we use to mark where we keep decomposing flesh are well polished.

Hey, instead of just saying that he won’t actively be mean to gay people as long as they’re sufficiently closeted, maybe this is a place where the Pope can step in and do some real good for a change!

Confounding Quotations

Well, I am home sick this weekend rather then spending my time hanging out with friends, snuggling my girlfriend, fencing, and singing folk songs well into the night. I actually have a new one I wrote and wanted to premiere when it wasn’t 1:30 in the morning!

But so long as I am here getting over whatever the fuck has ruined my SCA event plans, I have at least gotten a chance to start catching up on the news I’ve been missing because of work deadlines. And I have to admit, while there has been plenty to make me angry, I find that I’ve just been confused by a whole lot of what’s being said. And today we’re going to work out some of my confusion on a number of quotes.

So here we go!

1. Divine Protection Racket

It’s often joked among atheists that what Christians call “salvation” (and other religions call other things) basically sounds like a Mafioso extorting people. “Hey, nice soul ya got there. Be a shame if something happened to it, like it burned in a lake of fire for all eternity.” It’s a bit of hyperbole to highlight that God is often trying to save us from itself. And that’s why this quote from Rep. Randy Weber is so hilariously confused and confusing.

It’s a good thing that he’s a holy, just non-vengeful God. It’s a good thing we’re not vengueful [sic], because he [sic] might ask him to bring an untimely demise to those in the abortion industry who are killing our babies. But we’re not that way. He’s a God of second chances.

Anyone else get the impression that the only thing keeping Randy Weber from murdering every abortion provider he can get his hands on is mortal law and disapprobation rather than divine grace? I mean, this quote is so all over the map. “It’s a good thing God doesn’t kill people, because we might wish God would kill people and God would do it, but he wouldn’t and we wouldn’t wish that on those goddamn BABY KILLERS that we totally wouldn’t wish harm on.” He really, really wants to be able to call for violence (and I would want to as well if I believed that people were actually killing babies), but he knows that that tends to look bad, so he keeps walking up to that line and backing away again.

It doesn’t help that he’s backing up world class idiot Paul Broun, which makes it difficult to be coherent. That being said, this was so out there that I’m not sure that it can be covered merely by being the Lou Costello to Broun’s Bud Abbott.

2. Getting What You Pay For

I really, really hate to bring up Ron Lindsay again, but the man keeps making these strange, nonsensical statements. First it was his introduction at Women in Secularism, then his absurd comparison of pushback to North Korean propagandists, and now this tweet.

Free inquiry. Free expression. Not only are these indispensable in our quest for the truth but they’re necessary conditions 4 human dignity

Where is this coming from? Ceiling Cat be praised, this is as ridiculous as The Thaw! Who has told Ron Lindsay that he can’t inquire or speak? Seriously, who? Is this just a general statement that coincidently sounds like a defense of his increasingly ridiculous and paranoid assertions? Again, we seem to have a person who is under the impression that in order to be free, they must be free from any criticism. Criticism is only something that Ron Lindsay and the people he agrees with are afforded the right to, you see. Anybody who questions that, even in the mildest of terms, is an enemy of freedom, I suppose.

Also, it’s taking a stand on some pretty nasty stuff. How do people’s heads Photoshopped on porn advance human dignity? How does publishing a person’s home address in front of a bunch of people who hate that person advance human dignity? As PZ pointed out in the link above

When they photoshop our faces onto porn, when they call us “manginas” and “cunts”, when they flood CFI conference streams with denigrating insults to the speakers, they are not making “free inquiry”, they are not using “free speech” in a “quest for truth” or to advance “human dignity”.

Not all expression is some noble gesture in favor of free expression. Listening to it is more a testament to the greatness of free expression than just saying whatever stupid thing comes to your brain. As per usual, I go to MovieBob’s The Big Picture on political correctness, which he defines pretty well as “being nice” and the enemies of political correctness as people who simply feel that some people don’t deserve their niceness. That doesn’t make you a samurai sworn in fealty to the First Amendment, ready to slit open your own belly if it’s necessary. It makes you a jerk who doesn’t want to be called a jerk while still predicating your behavior toward others on whatever impulses you have at the moment rather than anything they happen to do.

3. The Best Kept Secret

This is one that confuses me more on the practice than on the actual thing said. So, a couple of days ago, Pope Francis said a kind of nice thing about atheists and non-Catholics in general.

The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us children of God of the first class! We are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all! And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.

It’s not much, but it’s something, at least. And it’s something I can get behind, too, since I’m more than happy to work with believers of any kind in making a positive change in the world. I do it fairly often, in fact.

But this is the Vatican, and they really can’t let stuff like this go without swooping in to ruin the fuck out of it. Emphasis mine.

On Thursday, the Vatican issued an “explanatory note on the meaning to ‘salvation.’”

The Rev. Thomas Rosica, a Vatican spokesman, said that people who know about the Catholic church “cannot be saved” if they “refuse to enter her or remain in her.”

Look at that highlighted part right there and really think about it. It’s Catholic doctrine that people who are unaware of the Church get a free pass on the whole Jesus thing, so why the fuck would you tell anybody about it? No, seriously, if you care about the state of people’s souls after death, and you know that if you simply don’t tell them that there’s an option to sell your soul to a tiny nation-state in the middle of Italy instead of just doing whatever it is you do already, why wouldn’t you just not tell them about it? Wouldn’t that get more people into Heaven? Wouldn’t that just starve hell of people because nobody knew they had the chance to give 10% of their income to men in fabulous, if poorly cut, dresses? Catholicism should be two guys who live in secret and make sure the other one is always following the catechism and nobody learns of their arcane practices.

This also suggests the other question: what if the one true religion involves two brother gods fighting over the last doughnut eternally, one guy in Luxembourg knew about it in 1751 and died without telling anybody, and because of the loophole that you don’t have to believe if you’ve never heard of it, any person who is decently good and generous gets to spend eternity in the Divine Krispy Kreme, where the red light is always on? It’s no less plausible than any other myth base.

4. Designed Economics

The Sensuous Curmudgeon is hilarious. I love reading their take on creationists and their mockery of evolution deniers. It’s really something to read every time. However, they also are a fiscal conservative, so occasionally will write a post discussing economics that inevitably misses a point someplace. This was, however, exceptionally weird.

This post is based on their support of a quote from Ronald Bailey, which goes, “Intelligent design is to evolutionary biology what socialism is to free-market economics.” There is then a lot of writing about how shopping malls are like evolution in that stores change and the mall you knew growing up is probably almost nothing like the mall you know today. I think this may be the crux of their argument.

Aside from the mall itself, who planned the assembly of all the individual stores, with all the wares they display? No mall developer could possibly design all that. Even if he started out with a few chain stores in mind as tenants, the roster of retailers currently at the mall is probably quite different from the original tenants, many of whom may have gone out of business and were replaced by new retailers. Not only do the stores gradually change over time, but the goods being sold are probably different from those that were originally on display. In the space of a decade or two, virtually everything is different.

I’m not sure if the Curmudgeon thinks that developers create malls, take on original tenants, then just let them go and develop as they will or what, but developers have constant say in what can go on in stores in a mall. When one store fails, the developer finds another store to replace it. Stores have very strict limits on what they can display and how they can display it. A mall quite literally is intelligently designed constantly.

Down here in Orlando we have the Mall at Millenia, which is supposed to be high end stores. Take a look at the directory. I see a Crate & Barrel, Monteblanc, Louis Vuitton, every Gap brand except for Old Navy, an Apple store, Prada, Rolex, and several other places that cater to the wealthy. Know what I don’t see? Spencer Gifts. Or Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Or Target. Why? Because there is a developer who has complete control over this mall and decides who can and can’t open a store there. That’s nothing like evolution, which would allow any store that set up shop and made money to thrive, whether it was Tiffany & Co. or Dollar Tree.

The original quote makes no sense, either. As I pointed out, most businesses are, in fact, intelligently designed. The original person just took two things he liked and two things he didn’t like and made a syllogism that only stands as true if the comparison is something that Ronald Bailey approves of to something that Ronald Bailey doesn’t approve of.

The other problem with this quote and the whole perception is that this isn’t necessarily a good thing. I mean, think about it: two common atheist complaints about religion are that a) evolution is an endlessly cruel process and it’s hard to imagine an all-good creator putting entire species through that, and b) if we are intelligently designed, then the designer isn’t that good at their job since there are so many ways things could be better. We reject ID because it’s in all likelihood not true, not because there’s something inherently bad about the idea of a designer. Hell, if there were a genuinely omni-benevolent creator who knew what the fuck they were doing, that would actually be a lot better! We would have redundancies built into our bodies, we wouldn’t have pointless organs, we wouldn’t run down with age, there would be no part of us that didn’t heal or grow back, we wouldn’t be so fragile, we wouldn’t be susceptible to disease…the possibilities for improvement are endless. Why wouldn’t we prefer it if species were just gotten right the first time and didn’t have to go through the gruesome machine that is natural selection?

To apply that to economics, why would we prefer a system that is manifestly more brutal and apathetic to human suffering than one that actually tries to alleviate human suffering? No, I’m not talking about pure socialism, which doesn’t work, but surely we can socialize aspects of things to increase the happiness and well-being of as many people as possible instead of shrugging our shoulders and saying that that’s just the price of free markets. Again, atheists are constantly saying that given omnipotence we could do better than any of the perceived gods thus invented, so why would we embrace apathy instead of empathy when we have the chance?

5. Timmy and the Washing Well

Regular Conversationalists know that I consider Timmy Dolan one of the most horrendous humanoid creatures to walk the face of the Earth. I mean, the slimy trail he leaves through the media is toxic in the most nauseating sense of the word. I’m pretty sure he can’t order breakfast without a back handed compliment to queer people or atheists, and his excessive pride in what he thinks is incredible subtlety reads like a child who can see up a girl’s skirt and can’t stop giggling at their own naughtiness.

Which brings us to this bizarre piece of tripe that he wrote titled “All Are Welcome!” in which he describes how the Church loves people to show up and wants them to know Jesus and blah blah blah. Then we get to this.

This balance can cause some tensions.  Freddie and I were loved and welcomed at our family table, but the clear expectation was, no dirty hands!

He’s, of course, talking about gay people, people who live together before marriage, and people who have been involved in abortion in some respect. To his credit, he also calls out businesmen (and only men) who don’t pay their workers a fair wage, but it feels tacked on considering he rarely seems to discuss it otherwise and the Church doesn’t throw their weight behind living wage laws as much as they do behind fighting marriage equality or contraception.

But what is bizarre and infuriating about this particular extended analogy, is that he really didn’t think that anybody would question his comparison of being gay or cohabitating to being dirty.

It gets worse in that when several Catholics showed up at St. Patrick’s Cathedral (where Cardinal Timmy preaches) with dirty hands for a silent protest, they were not only told they weren’t welcome inside, but Timmy of the Imposing Jowls called the NYPD to have them removed! And, what’s worse, the NYPD enforced it! Because, as we all know, it’s imperative that an organ of the state enforce religious rules like the one that was broken here (i.e. “Do what I fucking tell you because I have a fancy hat!”).

I admit, this one pisses me off, but the idea that protestors don’t plague him like the Furies did Orestes also pisses me off. What baffles me is the repeated failure of people to stop and think in this whole debacle. First Timmy having a secretary translate his crayon scribble into a blog, then him calling the cops to prove that “all are welcome”, then the NYPD showing up and enforcing religious dictates. It’s just failure after failure after failure here, and nobody was able to figure out that this might not look very good, even if they weren’t sure if it was right or not? I know that the Catholic church doesn’t much care about bad PR at this point, but I thought the NYPD still did. Maybe too many loving handjobs on network television that convinces people they’re all saints in blue suits?

(h/t to Slacktivist for that last one)

So, yes, things have gotten really confusing while I’ve been away. Am I being unreasonable, here? Do these things really make perfect sense and I’m just being dense? Because I really can’t figure out how any of these things have gotten said or done.

Responding to Fandom

First thing’s first: to everybody who has been sharing my post from last night all over Facebook and the like, thank you so much. I wrote it because I was too angry to sleep. and now it’s really just taking off like crazy. I have the best, most intelligent, most attractive readers on the internet, and I hope that those of you who came around for the last Human Excommunication or to read about how re-posting the Frankenstein’s monster of a Bill Cosby speech doesn’t make black people the absolute worst will stick around for more rage coupled with supporting details.

Yea. Like that.

And it is on that note that we’re going to take a small digression away from rage to discuss something that is merely frustrating, perhaps a bit anger-inducing: the new Robin.

But first, some history.

During the 90’s, when everything about comics sucked, the few gems in the industry really stood out. Among them, we were introduced to a semi-villianess named Spoiler, the daughter to Chuck Dixon’s pulled-from-the-bin-and-dusted-off Cluemaster. Basically, she ruined her father’s plans, but wasn’t really a “good guy”, much like the Huntress from Green Arrow. She had her own agenda, and often it matched up with the Dynamic Duo, specifically Tim Drake Robin for whom she became a love interest.

Due to a number of things, Tim’s father finds out that his son is Robin, forces him to retire, and Spoiler, who is named Stephanie Brown, gets her own Robin costume and demands that Batman train her. He does, she’s Robin, all is good until she makes some serious mistakes and is fired…and becomes Batgirl.

During this time period, however, Steph really gained a major fan following. She’s spunky, raw, and really an interesting character. So when DC annouced they would be bringing in a female Robin, people got excited that it might be Steph.

Nope. It’s Carrie Kelly from “The Dark Knight Returns.” This is about as much of a letdown as when DC announced that one of it’s “major characters” would be gay, then made it Alan Scott, who is absolutely awesome as a character, but let’s not pretend that when people think of “Green Lantern,” they’re thinking of his Earth 2 counterpart. Similarly, I really, really like Carrie Kelly, but there’s a whole lot more going on behind this.

Ultimately, DC isn’t my comic label, Marvel is, but after reading Jess’s take on the bizarre and active opposition to Steph at DC, I can’t help but wonder what the hell they think they’re doing over there. Here’s a partial list of the things that DC has done to prevent this character from seeing the light of day, as compiled by Jess.

  • made Steph Robin as part of a publicity stunt, only to promptly kill her off in a lengthy, brutal, sexualized sequence;
  • subsequently announced that she had never really been a Robin and denied her a memorial case for years;
  • hosted a panel in which one of their freelancers, speaking as a representative of their company, expressed a desire to violently murder her fans for asking when they would see her again, and did not subsequently apologize nor request that the writer do so;
  • removed a character who, again, made The New York Times bestseller list, along with Cassandra Cain, from their New 52 in favor of Barbara Gordon, claiming it was to avoid confusion, while retaining four essentially identical-looking male Robins (thus eliminating not just two female characters, but a character of color and a differently-abled character);
  • rejected multiple pitches from popular writers to use her, including Gail Simone, Grant Morrison, Scott Snyder, Bryan Q. Miller, and Scott Lobdell;

There are several more examples over at the post, and I highly recommend reading them all. The point is, despite a dedicated and huge fanbase, the high muckity-mucks at DC really, really, really don’t like Stephanie Brown and they’re going to do everything in their power to ignore fans and keep this character out.

That’s one reason why I’ve always been more of a Marvel reader, really: they tend to be more responsive to the fans (also, Doctor Strange is an amazing character, and the new Defenders is fantastic). In fact, like we see with the absolute train wreck of 90’s Spider-man plots that eventually ended up with a plane-crash-on-train-wreck attempt to correct those plots (One More Day, the Clone Saga, I’m looking at you guys), they may be even too responsive to their fans. However, I prize more highly a ham-handed attempt to correct a wrong than the steadfast refusal to admit to it.

And now we get to the crux of the matter: is it better to save face and deny a problem or to admit to it? Well, we can look at some examples.

Perhaps the most obvious is the Vatican, an organization that has staked its claim on infallibility, so they are completely unable to admit to wrongdoing, instead having to hide, deny, and command away any problems they may face. Even when they do apologize, it’s for things far too late or minor that any change can be affected. By extension, the ever-dwindling group of people who still give credence to the Vatican as a moral guide will reflexively proclaim every pope BESTEST POPE EVAAAAARRRR, and the problems will continue.

But yes, that’s an easy target. “You’re always down on the Church, Kaoru! Why don’t you ever criticize atheists?” Well, dear reader, let me do just that.

Sam Harris has recently come under attack for being “Islamophobic”. This is part of a recent trend these last two weeks to conflate the criticism of Islam by the New Atheists with a hatred of Muslim people in that weird way that we say “race” when we’re talking about “religion” (see also: Jewish). I think many of the criticisms of him and people like Jerry Coyne are off base, but then we have Harris’s response (h/t PZ Myers).

A general point about the mechanics of defamation: It is impossible to effectively defend oneself against unethical critics. If nothing else, the law of entropy is on their side, because it will always be easier to make a mess than to clean it up. It is, for instance, easier to call a person a “racist,” a “bigot,” a “misogynist,” etc. than it is for one’s target to prove that he isn’t any of these things. In fact, the very act of defending himself against such accusations quickly becomes debasing. Whether or not the original charges can be made to stick, the victim immediately seems thin-skinned and overly concerned about his reputation. And, rebutted or not, the original charges will be repeated in blogs and comment threads, and many readers will assume that where there’s smoke, there must be fire.

Rather than admit that at the very least when he regurgitates well-worn philosophical experiments and tries to apply them to the real world, they have the potential to negatively affect people in the real world (PZ has plenty of examples), he basically says that any of his critics are unethical for calling him names. I disagree with most of his critics, if for no reason other than they are criticizing the wrong thing, but Harris’s response is a blatant attempt to cover up mistakes by blithely putting his fingers in his ears and repeating to himself how much better a philosopher he is than other people.

We make mistakes. It happens and it’s a part of human nature. Sam Harris needs to admit that his philosophical riffing often comes across as callous because he is trying to impose the results on a real world that doesn’t so easily conform to thought experiments. DC needs to realize that Steph Brown is not going away and it’s time to confront that and address it rather than attempt to suppress it. The Vatican…well, it needs to close up shop, but at the very least it needs to show some real humility (not just washing the feet of AIDS patients or choosing a less ostentatious wardrobe, neither of which require any effort), admit to its mistakes, and make an effort to actually fix them (working with governments for the prosecution of people who had raped children, falsely imprisoned women, or snatched babies from their parents would be a start).

Joe Davidson can donate 10% of the nightly earnings to Camp Quest from the night that he reneged on his deal with them.

Brad Paisley can resolve to talk to some black people who are from the South and not multimillionaires to learn about modern racism, why wearing a Confederate flag is not a color-blind expression of heritage, and make an effort to highlight actual Southern contributions to this country.

We all make mistakes, but we can learn from them, we can grow and we can make amends. That sometimes means listening to our fandoms, even when they’re being our critics.

Timmy Dolan Admits the Church is Failing

Regular readers all know my deep and abiding feelings (mostly disgust and nausea) for Timmy Cardinal Dolan, child-rape defender and financial fraudster extraordinaire. So I find it entirely unsurprising that in his recent interview with George Stephanopoulos he said some stupid things about gay people and people with no religious affiliation.

This should come with two caveats:

1. At least he wasn’t saying awful things about these particular groups for once.

2. This is April Fool’s Day, or, as Dave Weigle puts is, “‘the internet is unreadable’ day”. That being said, if this is an elaborate prank by ABC, they did a fine job of fabricating video and I tip all of my fabulous hats to them.

Ok? We good? Moving on.

First, Dolan was asked about the Rise of the Nones and if the Church will somehow be able to bring people back in. This is how he responded.

What I’m afraid is that that’s afflicting society in general. That’s afflicting families. That’s afflicting — communities.  People want privacy.  People crave isolation.  We’re hearing parents say that they can’t even get their kids to talk anymore. They’re – they’re tweeting one another.  So, this – kinda this craving of individualism, being alone, be – aloofness, that’s afflicting all of culture, all of society. We’re feeling it in the Church, too, because we’re not about ‘me.’  We’re about ‘us.’ We’re about the ‘our.’  We say ‘Our Father.’ But society is saying, ‘It’s me, myself and I.’

Keep in mind that part of the question was about the tone-deafness of the Church, and Dolan displays a tin ear that can only come from decades of sitting through Mass.

He really, truly thinks that child rape, baby snatching, forced castrations, increasing AIDS in Africa, opposition to birth control, opposition to outspoken women, opposition to gay people (do I really need more links about this?), allowing women with difficult pregnancies to die, running unofficial prisons for people who have sinned but broken no laws, and living in opulance during a global economic catasrophe have nothing to do with people leaving the Church? Actually, that’s not a question, of course he does.

The problem, Cardinal Dolan, isn’t that people don’t want to be part of a group or that those of us with no religious affiliation are somehow poor loners who will cut ourselves off from the world in order to avoid the responsibilities that come with knowing people. In fact, this happy little atheist is more social butterfly than most of the people I know, and spends so much time with friends and family it’s often weeks before I have even a minute to myself.

No, the problem is that the “we” you’re offering is a corrupt organization run by terrible people such as yourself. Ones who prize authority over justice, ones who believe themselves above the law, ones who will pursue any ends that result in more power for Holy Mother Church. People want to be part of something larger, but the cesspool that the Church offers is not the one they choose. Instead, people find their connections elsewhere, in healthy spaces that will respect them and their loved ones. Not being part of the Catholic Church isn’t an indication of social dysfunction, it is an indication of good taste.

Next, we see Timmy struggling to deal with how the Church approaches LGBT people. Well, LGB people. As per usual, trans people aren’t addressed unless somebody is freaking out over what bathroom they’ll use.

Well, the first thing I’d say to them is, ‘I love you, too.  And God loves you.  And you are made in God’s image and likeness.  And – and we – we want your happiness.  But – and you’re entitled to friendship.’  But we also know that God has told us that the way to happiness, that – especially when it comes to sexual love – that is intended only for a man and woman in marriage, where children can come about naturally. We got to be – we got to do better to see that our defense of marriage is not reduced to an attack on gay people.  And I admit, we haven’t been too good at that.  We try our darndest to make sure we’re not an anti-anybody.

Here, I can only fault him with believing in something stupid and bigoted. To an extent, he’s correct. If these are your beliefs, it’s very, very difficult to not come across as if you’re against people.

I would argue that “trying [your] darndest” would be to avoid calling sex between queer people “intrinsically disordered” and describing homosexuality as a “condition” that needs to be “overcome.” Also, using Christmas to say that gay marriage is a “manipulation of nature” and calling it a threat to world peace. But let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Dolan is being legit and the Church really is trying not to be “anti-anybody.”

He still runs into a problem: there is no way to communicate the message that the emotional connections between people and the physical manifestation of those connections are evil without also condemning the people who have them. No amount of dancing around the subject or drawing imaginary lines between “nature” and “actions” can make a position like that anything but anti-somebody. The Vatican is trapped by their own dogma, and no brilliant theologian is going to show up and demonstrate how they can maintain their current opinions while not appearing hateful and bigoted.

People are therefore left with two choices if they disagree with that stance: stick around and hope things will change or leave. Personally, I support the latter, for obvious reasons. If your life if inextricably intertwined with the Church, especially in your community, it can be difficult to walk away, and that is entirely understandable. But if you’re going out of habit, surely you can find something else that better matches your experience of the world around you. Obviously, I’ve chosen reality, a system in which I work with the things I know and can check with independent observers to get an idea of what “truth” there is to be found. Some people prefer to think there is somehow more out there, which is fine, though I can’t imagine how much more you could want with such a universe as we can observe. Some people like the sense of community that is provided by a worship ceremony, and I assure you that there are plenty of places where you can find that without being part of the Church.

I have no doubt that there are other reasons people stick around, but I really hope they reconsider. What this interview shows us, more than any of the bigoted tirades in the past, is that the Church leadership really doesn’t get it. They don’t understand why so few of their parishioners actually agree with them, they don’t get why people have been walking away from religion in droves, and they don’t get that the way to stop saying terrible things is to abandon the terrible beliefs that drive them.

The Church is failing to reach out to LGBT people, allies, and Nones because it refused to accept responsibility for any of its mistakes and fix them, as if we still lived in a world where they are not easily found by anybody who cares to make an effort. The Church is stuck: it needs to change, but it can’t without actually changing. The question becomes, is a Church that will one day be relegated to impoverished African citizens and a handful of people on the other continents worth trying to maintain doctrinal purity? That’s slowly what’s happening. Timmy Dolan will probably not live to see the ruins left of his once mighty Church, but his successor just might, then maybe they will find their way to accepting other people on their merits, the same way they had to do for an earth that orbits the sun.

(h/t Pam’s House Blend)

Human Excommunication: Timothy Dolan

Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan is the most evil man alive. The Great Old Ones recoil at the sheer level of wicked, inhuman behavior that this man displays. I have no words to accurately describe what a living pile of snake excrement he is with any sort of accuracy.

Now, let’s discuss why.

Currently, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee is filing for bankruptcy. You see, there was this issue where they, unsurprisingly, hid pedophile priests over a period spanning about 60 years. As a result, they’ve lost a lot of money to legal claims when victims and the families of victims tried to receive some amount of compensation for the mental and physical violations they suffered. Also, times are tough, even for the Church.

The thing is, in the leadup to these filings, the Archdiocese moved $125 million to newly created trusts in order to avoid having that money count toward paying victims, a part of their settlement in the abuse cases. A forensic accounting firm was hired to find out what happened to that $125 million and whether it was legitimate in the bankruptcy case, and they found it was.

This took a slightly different turn recently as the Church argued that people coming forward with abuse claims after the statute of limitations ran out were incapable of making those claims. They say that they made a good faith effort to inform people of their opportunity and published the names of potential abusers in 2004, making it possible for people to file claims then. Which is entirely fair and literally legal. Except, according to the first link, sealed documents show that the Church didn’t publish over 8,000 incidents of reported abuse by 100 Church employees, 75 of which were clergy.

What does this have to do with Timothy Dolan? He was the Archbishop of Milwaukee during this period, while the Church was moving money to avoid having to pay it to abuse victims and publishing incomplete lists of abusers. That’s right, the man about to be named Cardinal hid even more child rapists while pretending to be complying with the law.

Does everybody understand that? He released a partial list of abusers so he could hide other ones, hid money so it couldn’t be used to pay victims, and now his old archdiocese is trying to screw abuse victims out of money they were rightfully owed by claiming they didn’t meet the statute of limitations on the cases where he didn’t publish the information.

This, for once, is not a widespread excoriation of the entire Catholic Church. Four priests from the archdiocese banded together with abuse victims to demand the Church have more transparency and to support their claims. These priests are both very brave and genuinely good people. Lots of Catholic clergy are. Timothy Dolan is not.

I’ve complained a number of times about Apple Cheeks’s hateful and bigoted statements. This is a guy who compares gay marriage to incest and makes slippery slope arguments. This is a man who lies about being “forced” to provide same-sex marriages (which has never, never, never happened despite the number of states that have legalized it, but why let facts stand in the way of fear), being unallowed to provide adoption services (another lie, since the Church still can, just not with public funds), and who was willing to sue over New York voting for marriage equality.

This is a man who continues to push the lie that “religious liberty” means “making you follow my religion.”

This is a man who, last week, refused to comment on the odious retraction of a 10-year-old apology by his predecessor, Cardinal Egan, about the handling of abuse cases under his watch. Why would he not say, “This is an incredibly disappointing decision by Cardinal Egan and I hope that the Church continues to vigorously pursue accusations of abuse”? Would that have been so hard? Not for anybody with a hint of human feeling.

But this is a bridge too far. For all the claims of Dolan and his ilk that they are “moral leaders” and the only guide for people to live lives of goodness and purity, they seem to also be the most cowardly group of ass-covering fucks on the planet. This egomaniacal jackass, this holy barbarian, this grasping, clawing scum from the Dark Ages has the audacity to tell people how they should live in a moral fashion. I would sooner ask a wife beater the secret to domestic tranquility than believe a word this depraved hollow body utters.

I’ve said this a number of times, but I’ll say it again: religion does not teach morality. Evil men like Dolan will continue to be evil and find justifications in their faith to do so. He brought this with him to the clergy, and he will retire just as blinkered, black-hearted, and brazen as he is today.

If the Church cared about abuse on its watch, they would stop his assencion to the rank of Cardinal. They would fire him on the spot, make him leave the Church and find employment elsewhere. Or, even better, they would insist that authorities look into his complicity in covering up child rape.

Though I suspect I have no readers at the Vatican, I will still make this open plea that you punish this loathsome, vile man. Separate yourself from him and make it clear that that sort of behavior will not be tolerated. He would not be the first supremely despicable person in history to be given a red hat, but we now live in the 21st century and know that this sort of behavior is never, never, never acceptable. If you raise him to the rank of Cardinal next week as opposed to firing him tomorrow, you will be demonstrating only that no mere mortal can express this level of moral bankruptcy. For that, you would have to be a Prince of the Church.