RSSCategory: Bigotry

Morgan Freeman’s solution to the race problem: Stop talking about it.

July 12, 2012 | By | 2 Replies More
Morgan Freeman’s solution to the race problem: Stop talking about it.

Morgan Freeman doesn’t want a Black History Month because “Black History is American History.”

On Sixty Minutes, Mike Wallace asked Freeman how we could solve America’s race problem? Freeman’s answer: “Stop talking about it. I’m going to stop calling you a white man, and I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man.”

I like this approach immensely, since there is no scientific basis for “race.” I also offer a slightly different suggestion: All of us should acknowledge that we are all from Africa. Whenever people ask me about my ancestors, I tell I’m “African,” because it is true, despite my outward appearance.

Specialists in race, both geneticists and anthropologists, maintain that modern ideas of race are . . . primarily historical constructions that reflect the pattern of contact between previously distinct populations in the colonial period.

Given recent findings, though, I shouldn’t merely say that I’m “African.” I should add, “With a touch of Neanderthal.” And I should add one more thing to be even more accurate: I’m a descendant of many other critters, including sponges, fungi and bacteria.

It’s amazing how so many of us still put any emphasis on “race.” It’s time to admit that it was a ridiculous category to create in the first place, and that it has caused only mischief ever since. The characteristics associated with “race” are a infinitesimally small part of what it means to be a physical human being. It’s time to bring our culture in line with our physical reality.

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George Lucas moves to Plan B

May 21, 2012 | By | Reply More
George Lucas moves to Plan B

I’d bet that a lot of those obstructionists in Marin County are wishing they could rewind the clock.

But after spending years and millions of dollars, Mr. Lucas abruptly canceled plans recently for the third, and most likely last, major [studio] expansion, citing community opposition. An emotional statement posted online said Lucasfilm would build instead in a place “that sees us as a creative asset, not as an evil empire.”

If the announcement took Marin by surprise, it was nothing compared with what came next. Mr. Lucas said he would sell the land to a developer to bring “low income housing” here.

I’d bet about 10% of people go utterly ballistic about their property. I’ve seen it in my own neighborhood, where a contingent of people stepped forward about 15 years ago to prevent a low-key art fair on my street. You couldn’t believe all of the hyperbole and all the venom. The opponents were worried that people would be walking on the sidewalks in front of their houses during the fair, if you can believe that one. Well, the fair went on, and it continues to this day on an annual basis. I’ve thought a lot about the “sacred” since reading Jonathan Haidt’s thoughts on it (I’ll post on it soon). The basic idea is that once some declares something (e.g., their home) to be sacred, there is no negotiation allowed, and anyone who tries to cross them is evil. The bottom line is that otherwise reasonable people become crazy.

George Lucas apparently had enough of it and decided to let some ordinary folks move into Marin. Talk about inhumane punishment: forcing rich folks to live nearby modest-income Americans . . .

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Does the bible really prohibit gay marriage?

May 5, 2012 | By | 4 Replies More
Does the bible really prohibit gay marriage?

Does the bible prohibit gay marriage, or are conservative Christians again up to their favorite trick, cherry-picking? The following excerpt from The Miami Herald suggests that cherries are being picked in earnest.

[Matthew] Vines is a Christian, a 22-year-old Harvard undergrad raised in a conservative evangelical church in Kansas. He is also gay and says he grew up being taught that the Bible condemns his sexual orientation. He took two years off from school to research and study whether or not that assertion is true. The result is The Gay Debate: The Bible and Homosexuality. It’s a video. . . Vines’ speech is a masterwork of scriptural exegesis and a marvel of patient logic, slicing and dicing with surgical precision the claim that homophobia is God ordained. So effective is the video that after viewing it, Sandra Delemares a Christian blogger from the United Kingdom who had, for years, spoken in staunch opposition to same sex marriage, wrote that it “revolutionised” her thinking.

Vines points out, for instance, that the frequently quoted condemnation (homosexuality is an “abomination”) from the Old Testament lawbook of Leviticus has no application to Christians, who are bound by the teachings of the New Testament. He explains that St. Paul’s admonitions about the “effeminate” and “abusers of themselves with mankind” stem from modern mis-translations of ancient Greek terminology.

With that as an introduction, here is the video featuring Matthew Vines:

This is an impressive presentation. At the 16 minute mark, Matthew begins to examine the six bible passages that supposedly condemn homosexuality. None of them survive his scrutiny.

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Zach Wahls honors his two moms.

May 3, 2012 | By | Reply More
Zach Wahls honors his two moms.

Today, an attorney with whom I work told me I absolutely needed to drop what I was doing in order to listen to a 19-year old man giving a statement to the Iowa legislature. Under consideration was a constitutional amendment that would reverse the landmark case of Varnum v Brien. I looked up Zach Wahls on Youtube and watched his incredible speech.

My friend then told me that Zach also happened to be in town, at Left Bank Books, 5 blocks away from my law office. I walked over, arriving in time to hear Zach ending his prepared remarks, and opening the floor to questions. One of the main points he made is that people react badly to households of two gay parents because they have a “fear of the unknown.”

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Eleven years prior to Rosa Parks refusing to move, Jackie Robinson refused to move

April 5, 2012 | By | Reply More
Eleven years prior to Rosa Parks refusing to move, Jackie Robinson refused to move

Today I learned from Wikipedia that Jackie Robinson refused to go to the back of a bus 11 years prior to Rosa Parks’ refusal, suffering racist mistreatment by the military as a result:

An event on July 6, 1944 derailed Robinson’s military career. While awaiting results of hospital tests on the ankle he had injured in junior college, Robinson boarded an Army bus with a fellow officer’s wife; although the Army had commissioned its own unsegregated bus line, the bus driver ordered Robinson to move to the back of the bus. Robinson refused. The driver backed down, but after reaching the end of the line, summoned the military police, who took Robinson into custody. When Robinson later confronted the investigating duty officer about racist questioning by the officer and his assistant, the officer recommended Robinson be court-martialed. After Robinson’s commander in the 761st, Paul L. Bates, refused to authorize the legal action, Robinson was summarily transferred to the 758th Battalion—where the commander quickly consented to charge Robinson with multiple offenses, including, among other charges, public drunkenness—even though Robinson did not drink.

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The Other Sides

March 23, 2012 | By | Reply More
The Other Sides

Let’s imagine the conflict known as the Civil War. It had been brewing since before the Constitution was ratified. The issues were marrow deep in American society, so much so that any attempt to address the issue of slavery was, in effect, a deal breaker for the new nation. The South made it abundantly clear that any action on the part of the North to write into the new guiding document the idea that black slaves were somehow deserving of the liberty being claimed for their white owners—and thereby signaling the end of slavery among the Thirteen Colonies—would be met with absolute refusal to play. Had the reformers, exemplified by the likes of Benjamin Franklin, tried to assert any kind of racial equality at the time, the United States would have been stillborn.

Instead, they put a time limit into the document—20 years—which forbade the topic from even being discussed in Congress until that later year, at which time, presumably, the issue would come to the floor for some kind of resolution. History shows that every such attempt was met with denunciations by southern members of Congress and often with threats of secession—which by then were illegal.

Make no mistake, as some revisionists might have you believe, secession was not an option and everyone who voted to ratify the Constitution knew it. Contrary to popular mythology, the original 13 states locked themselves together permanently.

[More . . . ]

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Many species of animals are homosexual; only human animals are homophobic

March 8, 2012 | By | 22 Replies More
Many species of animals are homosexual; only human animals are homophobic

At Slate, Will Oremus reminds us that many species of animals are homosexual, though very few are exclusively so. There is no evidence that any animals other than human animals are homophobic:

Not as far as we know. Homosexual behavior has been documented in hundreds of animal species, but the same does not hold for gay-bashing. For starters, few animals are exclusively gay. Two female Japanese macaques might have playful sex with each other on Tuesday, then mate with males on Wednesday. Pairs of male elephants sometimes form years-long companionships that include sexual activity, while their heterosexual couplings tend to be one-night stands. For these and many other species, sexual preferences seem to be fluid rather than binary: Gay sex doesn’t make them gay, and straight sex doesn’t make them straight. In these cases, the concept of homophobia simply doesn’t apply.

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Catholic clergy, obsessed about gay rights, again shoots itself in the foot.

March 4, 2012 | By | 15 Replies More
Catholic clergy, obsessed about gay rights, again shoots itself in the foot.

I’ve known Charlie Robin for many years, so I was deeply saddened to hear that the Catholic Church retaliated against Charlie’s partner, Al Fischer immediately after the pair announced that they were traveling to New York this week to get married.

Al has done exemplary work as a music teacher at St. Ann Catholic School, a St. Louis grade school. For many years, Al and Charlie have been out in the open as a committed gay couple. When they recently announced that they were getting married, though, it was too much for the St. Louis Diocese. The Administration of the St. Ann Catholic School has been, and remains, supportive of the couple, but must now hire a new music teacher for the children, even though they already had a perfectly good music teacher.

I was raised Catholic and I know a huge number of Catholics who are completely in support of gays getting married. The upper clergy are another matter, though. I’m not really angry about Al’s firing, because this is the kind of thing I expect of the Catholic Church at this point, and I’m also delighted to see how supportive the local Catholic school has been of the relationship and proposed marriage. The Clergy, on the other hand appear to be engaged in classic groupthink, combined with a willingness to elevate a personal feeling of disgust into a dominant moral principle; and this is combined with a classic reaction formation–I’ve heard from many sources (including many men who were in the Catholic seminary) that a significant proportion of Catholic clergy are, themselves, gay.

What should Catholics do in the meantime? That’s certainly not for me to say, since I don’t believe in any of the miraculous claims of the Bible. Then again, from my discussions with many Catholics, neither do many Catholics. What they do tend to believe in is coming together as a community to celebrating their community in song and ritual, as well as maintaining an admirable commitment to helping others in need through on-the-ground good works. It is in this context that the Catholic clergy displays its ugly vindictiveness. Perhaps this self-destructive decision by leadership of an ever-dwindling church will become a flashpoint for reform efforts in St. Louis, or even nationally.  Decisions like the firing of Al Fischer, combined with many other salient moral lapses of the Catholic clergy, help explain why one out of every 10 people in the United States (22,725,000) is an ex-Catholic. Not that any of this will sway the Pope, whose constant vitriolic rants against gays strongly suggest to me his own frustrated gayness.

I often wonder whether and when large numbers of Catholics will start buying up abandoned Churches, and start their own churches.

Then again, this animosity toward gays goes well beyond the Catholic Church. Rick Santorum, one of the front runners for the GOP has indicated that, if elected, he would work hard to pass laws to un-marry the 130,000 gay married couples in the United States. Such are these times . . .

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On not making people pay for things they morally oppose

February 19, 2012 | By | 3 Replies More
On not making people pay for things they morally oppose

Bill Moyers applauds the Presidents position on mandating birth control coverage:

The president did something agile and wise the other day. And something quite important to the health of our politics. He reached up and snuffed out what some folks wanted to make into a cosmic battle between good and evil. No, said the president, we’re not going to turn the argument over contraception into Armageddon, this is an honest difference between Americans, and I’ll not see it escalated into a holy war. So instead of the government requiring Catholic hospitals and other faith-based institutions to provide employees with health coverage involving contraceptives, the insurance companies will offer that coverage, and offer it free.

At Huffpo (same link as above), a writer named Michael Dodd, perturbed that many conservative politicians oppose even this compromise, turns their argument (why should citizens be made to pay for things that they morally oppose) on its head:

Okay, people, those of you who think it is all about “why should we pay for anything?” Why should churches NOT pay taxes? Why do I have to support THEM by paying taxes so that the roads to their buildings are built and the snow plowed? Why do I have to support churches who use the money they save by not paying taxes to pay advertisin­g firms to produce anti-equal­ity ads to suppress equal rights for tax-paying citizens who happen to be LGBT? Why should my taxes make it possible for them to use the money saved to pay salaries to lawyers to shield pedophiles­?

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