Category Archives: culture wars

What The Hell Is Wrong With Rep. Courtney Rogers?

I’m asking because Tennessee State Rep. Courtney Rogers of the “faith, family, freedom” caucus gave a seriously unhinged rant on the House floor Monday night and I’m starting to wonder what’s wrong with her. It came long after the House decided to defund UT’s Office of Diversity & Inclusion and redirect the money toward “In God We Trust” stickers for police cruisers. I know, that’s pretty crazy in and of itself, it’s the kind of hippie-punching nonsense the idiots in our legislature waste time on every day. But near as I can tell, Rogers had nothing to say when debate over that actual legislation was going on. But long toward the end of the day when business was concluding, she offered this ridiculous rant on the topic.

Thank you, Madam Speaker. I know I’ve been visibly agitated on the House floor tonight, and for that I apologize, but I have an announcement from the Hawaiian caucus tonight.

You know, it’s not easy being a minority, I get it. But try being an endangered species. A Hawaiian in Tennessee. You know, my grandmother in Hawaii would go offer her lava rock offerings to the family god, the Aumakua. And then she would go to missionary school and pray to good lord Jesus because she didn’t want to offend all the gods, so she kinda missed the point. But that being said, missionary school taught servitude to minorities, and the Hawaiians had to fight for education, for English, for math, for science, and we got it.

And as I can see, here are minorities. They have it. If you want to help minorities then what I wanted to say here was yes, continue to shut down those specific diversity offers that waste dollars to teach us ways to somehow sexually abuse our bodies or tell us what not to believe. I would fight any office that would tell me I cannot pray to my family Aumakua, even though I don’t, or to the good lord Jesus. You know as much I would say no Christmas, no Buddha, No Allah, I don’t pray to any of those, but we have a thing called ideological freedom here in America.

If you want to help minorities then quit pushing this intellectual rubbish and start supporting those diversity offices that are recruiting the best, from light meat to dark meat, across the entire spectrum, and start pushing hard work and mental accuity. Those things bring about progress and success and equality. Mahalo.

What the hell is she smoking? Light meat to dark meat? Hawaiians in Tennessee are endangered? Minorities in Tennessee have everything they need so just shut up?

You can see her rant somewhere around the 2 hour and 58 minute mark here, during the announcements. What’s even more alarming is that she appears to be holding a piece of papers as she’s talking, so I wonder if she wrote this drivel down in advance.

Anyway, this is a whole new level of wackadoodle that I can’t even explain.

And yes, this is the same Courtney Rogers who wants to arm college students because of Kent State.

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Filed under culture wars, Republican Party, Tennessee, Tennessee politics, TNGOP

TN Legislature Grandstanding Over Nonexistent Threat

Apparently Tennessee legislators are unfamiliar with the First Amendment of our Constitution because they have been crafting a “Pastor Protection Act” to make sure no pastors are forced to perform gay marriage ceremonies:

A new bill in Tennessee seeks to “protect” churches and clergy from performing same-sex marriages. But is it necessary?

The move comes after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage on Friday. State Reps. Bryan Terry and Andy Holt anticipated the Supreme Court ruling and have been working on the bill for several months, reports Nashville’s CBS affiliate.

Both representatives reject the validity of yesterday’s decision. “God is the ultimate Supreme Court and he has spoken. Marriage is between one man, and one woman,” Representative Holt said in a press release.

The proposed law would reiterate protections already in place. As Representative Terry noted, “The First Amendment of the US Constitution guarantees freedom of religion.” He also cited Article 1 Section 3 of the Tennessee Constitution and said “personal freedom of religion is protected and no human authority can interfere in the rights of conscience.”

Oh. So they know this law is unncessary but they want to “reiterate” protections already in place because Tennessee politicians can never pass up an opportunity to grandstand on the culture wars. Which they are always losing, I might add.

Hey, if you guys want to write in stone how you’re yet again on the wrong side of history, be my guest.

What this really comes down to, of course, is religious conservatives wanting to be protected from criticism for being on the wrong side of history. Sure as day follows night, there will be a case where a same-sex couple wants to use a pavilion or building owned by a religious non-profit and they will be denied — legally. And it will hit social media, and they will be mocked for their recidivist stance, and there will be pearls to be clutched and couches on which to faint, and once again conservatives will confuse free speech with the free hand.

This will happen because this always happens. Hell, churches around the South still have a problem with interracial couples.

So why don’t we dispense with the bullshit and remind everyone that nobody is forcing anyone to perform a ceremony they don’t want to perform — hell, religious groups have been refusing to officiate ceremonies between divorced couples, interfaith couples, etc. since forever. None of that is changing. Lots of churches already refuse to rent out their buildings for weddings to couples who are not church members. Why? Because weddings are a huge pain in the ass for church staff.

So nothing is going to change. And every time you idiots grandstand about how God doesn’t wants gays to get married and God Hates Fags and all that crap we’re going to mock you and tell you you’re wrong and call you names. And that noise is just going to get louder and louder.

[ALSO, let me repeat: Tennessee Republicans are really off the mark when they grandstand on the homophobic crap but can’t be bothered to grandstand with a vote of disapproval when the goddamn Ku Klux Klan holds their annual meeting at one our state parks.]

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Filed under culture wars, gay equality, GLBT, religious right, Tennessee, Tennessee politics

Was Discovery Communications Complicit In Covering Up A Crime? Inquiring Minds ….

I first wrote about the Quiverfull movement waaay back in 2009. I called it a cult, and it is a cult, a creepy pedophilia cult (if you aren’t familiar with this group or its beliefs, Gawker has a handy dandy rundown under the headline “Quiverfull of Shit.”)

I’m not the least bit surprised to learn that Josh Duggar has admitted to sexually molesting children as they slept — some of them his own sisters. I’m not the least bit surprised to learn that one of the leaders of this movement, Bill Gothard, has himself been accused of sex-based offenses.

What I do find interesting is that it’s become increasingly clear that The Learning Channel/Discovery Communications knew of Josh Duggar’s sex offenses years before the first show of the reality series aired, while the Duggars were starring in specials on sister network Discovery Health. And, despite knowing this information, they still signed the family to star in their own reality show, falsely promoted the family as some kind of wholesome Christian novelty, misrepresented the family to the public, and profited from it. They lied to their advertisers and they lied to their viewers. How is this not fraud?

According to the police report published by InTouch, the investigation was sparked when someone tipped off an Oprah Winfrey staffer in 2006, in advance of a taping by the family on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Here’s how it all went down:

The Duggars told police that at the time Josh was accused of, and admitting to, these sexual acts, “a family friend aware of what had happened had written down in a letter what he knew of [redacted, Josh’s] actions…That letter had been placed in a book and had subsequently been forgotten about. Just recently [in 2006] the book had been loaned to someone else with the letter in it and another person discovered the letter.

The Duggars refused to tell police who wrote the letter and who found it.

When the family was scheduled to appear on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show in 2006, an email was sent to the show warning them about the alleged molestation. The email was written by a 61-year-old female who is not identified.

Harpo Studios faxed the letter to the Department of Human Services hotline. The report was then opened for investigation, leading to the investigation by Springdale police.

When police asked Jim Bob to bring Josh in for an interview in 2006, he attempted to hire a lawyer and refused to produce his son for questioning. At least two lawyers refused to take his case. “Det. Hignite received a voice mail from Mr. Duggar stating that [redacted] had hired an attorney and would not be coming in for an interview.”

Oprah Winfrey has been very open about her own history of being a survivor of child sexual abuse. So good for her and her staffers for starting this whole ball rolling. And shame on everyone who subsequently covered it up: the Arkansas state trooper who let Josh Duggar off the hook and two years later was himself jailed for child pornography, and most especially Discovery Communications. Because it defies belief that TLC and Discovery didn’t know about this — indeed, after the Oprah cancellation, the internet was on fire with rumors about Josh Duggar’s sexual offenses. At the very least, Discovery Health would have wanted to know about the abrupt and last-minute Oprah cancellation.

This needs to be investigated. The FCC needs to look into this. If a basic-cable network is covering up crimes against children and then promoting a pedophilia cult into the popular culture, they are not acting in the public interest. This is far worse than Bono saying an award is “fucking awesome” or Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction. These are real crimes, and it appears the network not only knew about it, but ignored it so they could promote this creepy, far-from-wholesome family for their own financial gain.

Shameful.

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Filed under cults, culture wars, media, religion

Holy Loophole

IMG_1649I just love this story: A swinger’s club which had operated without incident for years near Nashville’s oh-so-hot Gulch neighborhood was recently forced to move because of a new mega-development going in. So they were going to relocate to a building in Madison, north of town. And the good Christian folks up there got wind of it and decided they didn’t want no swingin’ sullying their neighborhood and would someone please think of the children and so the Tennessee State Legislature and the Nashville Metro Council passed laws that prevented “social clubs” from being in certain neighborhoods (small government alert!), and so now the swinger’s club is reopening as a church. Whose members all pay dues to the swinger’s club:

On paper, at least, plans have changed dramatically for a Madison property where a swingers club tried to open before city and state policymakers moved swiftly to block it.

The owners now plan to open a church — a church that honors the paid memberships from the swingers club.

The United Fellowship Center at 520 Lentz Drive will honor memberships to The Social Club, according to a member newsletter, but baseball caps, bandanas, skull caps and sagging pants won’t be tolerated.

The center was “founded on the basic belief that we are all children of the same universe,” the newsletter says. “Every individual is free to practice their religion in the manner of their choosing, as mandated by the First Amendment, so long as that expression does not impinge upon the rights or freedoms of others and is in accordance with the government’s laws.”

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ….

By the way, I spotted the decal above on a mailbox outside a bbq place here in town during the height of the swinger’s club controversy. I thought it was pretty funny. I just love how we’re all in favor of small government here until sex gets involved and then it’s like OMG WE GOTTA PASS A LAW. I mean honestly, I do not care what people do in their bedrooms, who (or how many) they share a bed with, who marries whom, etc. It simply is not my business. As long as it’s all consenting adults, I really would prefer to not even know about everybody else’s sex life.

I used to live in a small town in Kentucky and let me say, you would be shocked at how many of these fine Christian folks who were so downright upright were also taking trips into Nashville on the weekends to indulge in carnal entertainment. I’d place bets that some of those passing laws targeting this “social club” have indulged in a little swing time themselves.

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Filed under culture wars, Nashville, Tennessee

Doing It Wrong

I am not sure why East Tennessee State University has opened its campus to crackpot evangelists who harass students, but apparently being fat-shamed and berated as a “fornicator” is something you must endure as an ETSU student. From the Johnson City Press:

One student, whose identity will be protected by The Press, emailed the newspaper complaining that she was verbally harassed by Jackson in front of a large group of her peers when the streetcorner deacon said she “looked like (she) weighed as much as a football linebacker.”

[…]

But Jackson, who travels a circuit of U.S. college campuses issuing provocative condemnations of nearly every vice, bad habit, alternative lifestyle and differing viewpoint, properly filled out and submitted his application to speak in ETSU’s Borchuck Plaza, one of the college’s defined limited public forum areas, Smith said.

Apparently this guy is part of a fundie outfit called Revival Mission Ministries, which sends preachers out to college campuses to do “open-air preaching,” in which they rail and rant against pretty much everything they don’t agree with. They look an awful lot like the Westboro Baptist Church cult. Here they are at East Carolina University back in March:

img_4053

Note the joy on the students’ faces. /sarcasm

According to the story, Jackson’s ranting was followed by yet another raving street preacher the next day, with the campus public safety office erecting wooden barriers around him, something deemed necessary after Jackson’s appearance the day prior. Ye shall know them by their fruits, folks.

This isn’t preaching, it’s harassment. It’s ego-indulging, attention-seeking, self-promotion. In fact, people like this aren’t doing themselves or their cause any favors:

A landmark Pew Research from 2012 shows that attachment by young people to organized religious bodies is on the decline. Many of those who don’t belong to a church, synagogue, or mosque still practice religion informally to a certain extent. However, they have grown wary of the way that traditional institutions mix political power with the pursuit of otherworldly aims.

Nine out of ten older Americans are directly affiliated with a religion, a statistic that goes down to two-thirds with the youngest adults. Softened commitment generally means less strong attachment to God and less frequent attendance at services. It also entails more liberal political views, a higher likelihood of voting Democratic, and support for abortion rights.

Here’s a video of Jackson, pulled from the ministry’s website. As one might expect, he doesn’t seem to be winning many converts. Instead, he seems to be indulging his ego. He also seems to have a very narrow view of “sin.” Intolerance and unkindness are just as much sins as what you do with your naughty parts. Not sure why college students should be subjected to this. Jackson seems young and inexperienced, perhaps in a few years he’ll wake up and realize he’s Doing It Wrong.

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Filed under culture wars, Tennessee

Occupy Madison Avenue

Hey America, did you know there’s a culture war going on? Not the religious vs secular one we’ve always had, but a fun new one, the rich vs poor one? The takers vs makers one? The Occupy Wall Street vs Americans For Prosperity one? The “Me Generation” vs “Us Generation” one?

As an observer of the culture I find this new one far more interesting, relevant and, quite frankly, a far bigger deal than that other one. I know it’s a lot more fun for your Gannett fishwrap to write about Koran-burning pastors and fights over Muslim cemeteries in Rutherford County, and indeed these are important issues, I don’t mean to downplay them. But in terms of having a broad, lasting impact on American society, I think these religious wars over birth control and whether we are a Christian nation are really just sidebars.

This other culture war is the one which really defines us. It’s a battle of two beloved archetypes, pitting the “rugged individualist” against the “community organizer.” It’s a battle for the soul of America and American values. Do we value stuff? Or do we value each other? Are we all on our own? Or are we all in this together?

We’re not really having that national conversation right now, but it doesn’t mean the battle isn’t raging. Mitt Romney’s infamous “47 percent” comment and Elizabeth Warren’s “you didn’t build that” speech brought it to the forefront, but post-election we’re just sort of dancing around the topic instead of having a direct debate.

And I have to say, if you want to know what’s happening in a culture, look at its advertising. Have you noticed that all of a sudden we’re seeing mixed-race and same-sex families in TV ads now? I think this is great. When Madison Avenue recognizes that the “average American family” is now multi-racial and multi-oriented, it tells me the bigots have lost and the all-inclusives have won (I know that’s not a word, I just made it up, but I like it).

So now we have a new culture war raging, and I find it absolutely fascinating to see it played out in … wait for it … car commercials.

If you watched the winter Olympic games, you repeatedly saw Cadillac’s ad featuring Mr. 1%er, a self-satisfied douchebag bragging on American exceptionalism and showing off all his cool stuff. This truly useless idiot seems to think we’re going to go back to the moon despite the fact that we keep cutting NASA’s budget so we can afford tax cuts for wealthy assholes like him. What a buffoon. I suppose he’s Cadillac’s target market. If you missed it, here it is:

This ad irritated a lot of us liberals, and no doubt it was designed to do just that. And now Ford has answered that ad with its own, featuring an actual community do-gooder named Pasho Murray, founder of Detroit Dirt, which takes food waste and turns it into compost for urban gardens.

You can see Ford’s “parody” ad here:

I just find this so fascinating. I suppose someone else will come out with an ad telling us to ride bicycles or use public transit. Wait for it, in 5… 4… 3….

Something big is happening in American culture right now. I wonder, maybe we need to be a little more intentional about the conversation? Instead of letting advertising agencies have the conversation for us? Just a thought.

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Filed under advertising, culture wars, pop culture

Hate Isn’t Dead But Fred Phelps Is

Good riddance to a despicable person.

I know we’ll be hearing the usual, “if you can’t saying anything nice …” mealy-mouthed pablum on hearing that Fred Phelps has finally left this earth, but I say, screw that. He was an evil person. He caused so much pain and suffering, not just to LGBT people but to his fellow Christians, to the families of our soldiers, even to his own family. Using gays as a scapegoat for every tragic event that hit the headlines, from Whitney Houston’s death to plane crashes to 9/11, all these fools ended up doing was uniting the nation against them. Again, good riddance.

He was not a Christian and please, stop calling his organization a “Baptist church.” It wasn’t. He presided over an abusive religious cult that operated as a hate group. His wasn’t the only one, there are plenty similar organizations in this country (here’s one), Westboro was just more adept than others at gathering headlines. Phelps probably had something horrible happen to him when he was a child that made him that way, who knows, but guess what, lots of people suffer similar tragedies and don’t end up like this.

When a cult leader dies the cult tends to dissolve into the breeze. I don’t know if that will happen in this case because it seems a Phelps daughter long ago picked up the protest mantle. But one can hope the day of the hate-headline is over.

From the memory hole:

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Filed under cults, culture wars, religion

A Question About Protecting The Right To Discriminate

Regarding this discussion about exempting churches from ENDA, I have a question:

Until 1978, Mormon church doctrine viewed black people as inferior. Blacks were prevented from joining the priesthood, which is something all male Mormons who’ve been on their mission get to do. If you’re not in the priesthood there’s a bunch of stuff you can’t do, events and rituals you can’t participate in, offices you can’t hold, etc. My question: were the Mormon Church and its institutions (like schools) exempted from the Civil Rights Act of 1964?

Anyone know? Seems like a parallel here.

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Filed under culture wars, GLBT, racism, religion

Kids Today, Sex Ed Edition

kf2kN

Once again, dear blog readers, I’ve neglected you. I’ve been meaning to write about this story since it first appeared in our Gannett fishwrap, but I’ve been way too swamped with other stuff. Since then Betsy at Pith and ThinkProgress have covered this, so hit those links if you want more info.

The bottom line is, some Fundiegelical conservative abstinence clowns somehow got approval to give a sex misinformation assembly at Nashville’s Hillsboro High, which happens to be the high school my kids would be attending had Mr. Beale and I not decided to stick a fork in Jesus’ eye and avoid breeding this lifetime. I know, how un-Christian of us.

The assembly was full of crackpot ideas, such as:

All medical textbooks say life begins at conception.

… and ….

Having sex with eight partners would be the equivalent of drinking a whole classroom’s spit…

… and ….

[…] “fetus” means the same thing as “baby” …

…. and ….

[…] a grim picture of the various types of abortion: dismembered fetuses, punctured uterine walls, bleeding for 8-9 weeks, death.

… and ….

As for adoption — never discourage it, she tells the class. Don’t even use the term “give up” the baby. If a girl says she’s pregnant, send her to the nurse, and she should start taking prenatal vitamins.

… and my absolute favorite:

If a girl becomes a single mom to a boy, she says: “Who’s going to do all those things that men like to do with men? Hunting, fishing, playing ball, all those things that teach them how to be a man and setting those boundaries?”

Got that fellas? So, if you don’t like to hunt, fish or play ball, you are not a man! You’re some kind of girly-man, sissified by your single mom. And Jesus hates you.

I’m trying to imagine how an assembly like this would have been greeted in my day. Back in the ’70s when I was in high school, these ladies would have left our classroom pulling spitwads and chewing gum from their hair, their model fetus baby reduced to shards and their Hope Center flyers transformed into origami 747s.

Of course, that was a more innocent age. Today kids record these assemblies on their cell phones and take it to the media. Bravo, unnamed student. My hat’s off to you.

I mean, I’m just trying to imagine what these kids thought when they heard this stuff about “who’s gonna teach your boy how to hunt and fish” and all. Did these ladies not think there might not be a few sons of single moms in the audience? What incredible idiots.

What’s really scary is that one of the presenters, Beth Cox, is a member of the Sumner County School Board. Cox is also on the board of directors for the organization which brought this nonsense to a Davidson County high school, Decisions, Choices and Options. Though the group claims everything they teach is “medical, fatual information,” the group has just one doctor on its board of directors: Dr. Bryan Bondurant, a veterinarian and failed conservative Republican candidate for Congress.

Hilarious. How did these Sumner County hayseeds get on the list of approved presenters in Metro Nashville schools in the first place? This stuff they’re selling isn’t medical, factual information! It’s an ideologically-driven misinformation campaign. In case y’all missed it, you lost the culture wars. Now fuck off.

My mom went to Catholic boarding school back in the 1940s. This is exactly the kind of “sex ed” kids of her generation were given. She told me the Jesuits taught that at the condom factory, one out of every 10 condoms is given a pin-prick. I asked her, “Did anyone ask the priests why a condom factory would do that?” No, she said. It didn’t occur to them.

That really was a more innocent age, when teenagers were a bit more gullible — though no less inclined to engage in sexual exploration. Kids today are a little savvier. And I’m glad at least one had the forethought to blow the lid off this ridiculous excuse for “education.” Now, let’s yank these clowns off the “approved” list for Nashville’s public schools. Because at the very least, our kids deserve factual information, not religious views and pseudo-science.

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Filed under abstinence-only education, culture wars, Nashville, sex

*POP*

It’s a gorgeous day in Nashville today. The sun is shining, the humidity is low, the temperatures are mild. The birds are singing and rabbits are hopping through the yard.

So, we survived the first sitting president of the United States coming out in support of marriage equality. The earth has not swallowed America and the skies have not been darkened by an army of Sodomite angels.

Heh.

But the response from right-wingers has been more like this:

Dramatic Frog Is Ready For His Close-Up

People, I do not have the patience for another round of right-wing hysteria over being on the wrong side of the culture wars. I do not have the stomach for another “national conversation” over this shit. I’m so over it. I don’t want to hear the half-truths, exaggerations and outright lies, where Fox News pundits outline the extreme, fact-free position (“Obama will force churches to perform gay weddings!”) and the “mainstream media” soberly muses that they may have a point!

I am not sure I can handle another round of commentary from the likes of Jim “Dim” Hoft, the dumbest man on the internet, who writes:

I don’t have a problem with gay unions. I do have a problem with a president pushing a law on the people with the specific intent of punishing the Church and Christian Americans.

What law is Obama pushing here? Anyone? Bueller?

Ah, the irony of Rush Limbaugh bloviating about the president launching a “war on traditional marriage”! It has been lost on no one:

Shut Yer Pie-Hole You Hypocritical Oaf

Time for a news fast. The world is just too lovely to wade into the cesspool of right wing hysteria today.

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Filed under culture wars, GLBT, President Barack Obama