Friday, August 29, 2014


Protecting Backs

PZ Myearshertz points to a video and a gofundme campaign by Daniel Ashley Pierce who was apparently beaten ... particularly by his mother ... and thrown out of the house by his family because he is gay.

His gofundme campaign was looking for $2,000 to "get the basic things I need such as a bed, text books, medical stuff and transportation."

Instead, in a day (last time I looked) he has raised $84,463 from 3,185 donations. That should keep him for a couple of years, at least.

The cynical lawyer part of me says it might have been staged to raise money, but it didn't feel that way. It would take a Shakespeare to stage such horror. Anyway, I kicked a few bucks in ... not more than I'd spend on lunch and a couple of drinks after work. I think it is worth it to do the same.

Maybe I'm a sucker, but maybe there is a bigger lesson in all this ... maybe the next kid will feel freer to tell the truth in a hostile environment in hopes that people ... caring people ... will have their backs.

Update: From Daniel:
I would like to the opportunity to thank each and everyone of you who has so generously donated. My intent is to pay if forward and hopefully turn something so negative into something positive. I will do my best to value the gift I have been given by so many of you. Thank you for your love and support.

If you would still like to make a donation please consider donating to Lost-N-Found Youth in Atlanta... they have been an amazing support and resource through this difficult time.
I sent them a few bucks too.



Poor Al Mohler!

His head is 'sploding.

A Federal judge in Utah has struck down a portion of the state's law against polygamy. Not the part of the law that refuses to legally recognize multiple partner marriages, only the part that that makes cohabitation between adults to whom they are not legally married a crime.

Al laments:
[W]hat we see here is a classic expression of the current sexual morality. That sexual morality now holds that the only defining and important moral principle is consent. So long as the persons involved in any sexual relationship are consenting adults, then there is understood to be no moral problem whatsoever, and society is told that it must simply accept the new arrangements. Finally, we also note that in his protest against laws against polygamy, Jonathan Turley says that the only factor of real interest here is whether or not the law is proved to prevent a harm to others. Well just consider that for a moment.

The only harm that he would consider here is a harm that is limited directed to the individuals involved. No reference here is allowable to the larger harm to society, or the injury to marriage as an institution. But as we have seen in the forward march to the legalization of same-sex marriage, the issue of harm to marriage and the larger society is simply excluded from moral consideration.
I wonder if Al would really consent to have the government install a camera in his bedroom to make sure he and his wife neither get nor give a blowjob ... part of the classic definition of sodomy ... and suffer criminal prosecution should it happen.

As to the stuff about "the issue of harm to marriage and the larger society is simply excluded from moral consideration," another bit of news shows the problem with that. No one has been able to demonstrate that there is any harm to marriage or society ... other than the heads of people like Al Mohler 'sploding because they can no longer force their ideas of what is right on everyone else.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014



Vicky Beeching, a British-born evangelical Christian worship singer has come out as a lesbian and has been urging churches to change their doctrine on homosexual behavior.

Scott Lively, president of Abiding Truth Ministries, present candidate (snicker) for Massachusetts governor and one of the progenitors or the horrific anti-gay laws in Uganda, Nigeria and, maybe next, in Kenya, is unhappy!
He explained that after the Stonewall riots in 1969, homosexual activists banded together to oppose every American institution that did not fully accept and promote homosexual behavior.

The first victory was over the American Psychiatric Association, and within 40 years, every other group had been conquered, he said. The Boy Scouts were the latest to fall, just a year ago.

Now, the only organization left is the church, he said.
Beeching had the temerity to say:
What Jesus taught was a radical message of welcome and inclusion and love. I feel certain God loves me just the way I am, and I have a huge sense of calling to communicate that to young people.
Lively, however, said Beeching represents "the drawing back of the tide before a tsunami" and an indicator of "how bad this is going to get."
Poor Lester Maddox must have felt the same way at some point!

Saturday, August 23, 2014


The Tide Continues to Roll In

A Federal district court judge, Robert L. Hinkle, has joined 19 prior decisions in Federal court by finding Florida's constitutional and statutory bans of same-sex marriage or recognizing same-sex marriages legally entered into in other jurisdictions to violate the 14th Amendment's Due Process and Equal Protection clauses.

As always, I think the stories of the plaintiffs in these cases are the most important part. There were many plaintiffs in this case but one story stands out:
Arlene Goldberg married Carol Goldwasser in New York in 2011. Ms. Goldwasser died in March 2014. The couple had been together for 47 years. Ms. Goldwasser was the toll-facilities director for Lee County, Florida, for 17 years. Ms. Goldberg is retired but works part time at a major retailer. The couple had been living with and taking care of Ms. Goldwasser's elderly parents, but now Ms. Goldberg cares for them alone. Social-security benefits are Ms. Goldberg's primary income. Florida's refusal to recognize the marriage has precluded Ms. Goldberg from obtaining social-security survivor benefits. Ms. Goldberg says that for that reason only, she will have to sell her house, and Ms. Goldwasser's parents are looking for another place to live. Ms. Goldberg also wishes to amend Ms. Goldwasser's death certificate to reflect their marriage.
It takes a particularly virulent bigot to deny Arlene Goldberg the relationship of marriage with Carol Goldwasser.

Judge Hinkle begins his opinion with this:
The founders of this nation said in the preamble to the United States Constitution that a goal was to secure the blessings of liberty to themselves and their posterity. Liberty has come more slowly for some than for others. It was 1967, nearly two centuries after the Constitution was adopted, before the Supreme Court struck down state laws prohibiting interracial marriage, thus protecting the liberty of individuals whose chosen life partner was of a different race. Now, nearly 50 years later, the arguments supporting the ban on interracial marriage seem an obvious pretext for racism; it must be hard for those who were not then of age to understand just how sincerely those views were held. When observers look back 50 years from now, the arguments supporting Florida's ban on same-sex marriage, though just as sincerely held, will again seem an obvious pretext for discrimination. Observers who are not now of age will wonder just how those views could have been held.
He is right, of course. The tide of history will wash any "controversy" about same-sex marriage away, leaving nothing but a few ripples in the sand, just as it did with interracial marriage. I think he put it particularly well when he said:
The institution of marriage survived when bans on interracial marriage were struck down, and the institution will survive when bans on same-sex marriage are struck down. Liberty, tolerance, and respect are not zero-sum concepts. Those who enter opposite-sex marriages are harmed not at all when others, including these plaintiffs, are given the liberty to choose their own life partners and are shown the respect that comes with formal marriage. Tolerating views with which one disagrees is a hallmark of civilized society.
There are no losers here, only winners who deserve to win.

Saturday, August 16, 2014


Before It's Too Late

Al Mohler is happy ... sort of. A Tennessee state court judge has disagreed with the consensus of judicial rulings since United States v. Windsor that banning same-sex marriage is a violation of the equal protection and/or due process provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The issue in the Tennessee case was whether Tennessee had to consider and grant a divorce to two gay men legally married in Iowa. Al was particularly happy with this from the judge's decision:
Marriage can simply not be divorced from its traditional procreative purpose.
According to Al:
Christians looking at this judge's reasoning would recognize the very logical case that the judges [sic] made. A case based upon a rational objective understanding of what marriage is. Tying marriage not only to its historical structure but also to its recognized functions: procreation and the raising of children. And also the fact that as that stable, unifying institution of society, marriage rationally deserves the kind of protection that the state of Tennessee offered through this ban on same-sex marriage.
Al, of course, does not tell us how, rationally, banning same-sex marriage "protects" marriage or why the state still allows post-menopausal women, women who have had hysterectomies or men who have had vasectomies to marry if procreation is the rationale of the law.

In fact, Al goes on to demonstrate that his, and Christians in general, real objection is that they don't like some peoples' sexual and gender identities, by railing against a transgendered teacher and her elementary school, which is seeking to have its students understand and accept Rebecca (nee Robert) Reuter.

Al quotes Mary Hasson in some rag called The Federalist to the effect that:
It is unlikely that children are going to immediately buy into this. It's going to take some very sophisticated brain tampering to get them to accept what they're going to be told. Some kid, perhaps even the majority of children, when told that the individual for them who used to be Mr. Reuter is now Ms. Reuter is simply going to think, and perhaps even to say, "no he is not."
I seriously doubt that. Children are pretty accepting of change and different people. In fact, the process runs in the other direction. Rodgers and Hammerstein were right:

You've got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You've got to be taught
From year to year,
It's got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught!
You've got to be carefully taught!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Surprise, Surprise!

Due to some recent health problems, including a couple of days in the hospital when I was gravely (pun intended) informed by doctors that I could have died, I have not been following the blogosphere as closely as I should ... if I was as obsessed as the once and (maybe) future Catshark should be.

Thus, I missed Neil Rickert's highly amusing discussion of a post over at Uncommon Descent, by "johnnyb" (who I understand is Jonathan Bartlett, a computer scientist), entitled "Do Darwinists Think that Women are Closer to Chimps than Men?"

It is Ray Comfort-like in that it all but commits the fallacy that human males and females have to evolve separately. Johnnyb even mentions bananas.

Go read Neil's post to fully appreciate the silliness.

What interested me was the comments over at Uncommon Descent. A good third of them explained why johnnyb was wrong. But his strongest supporter among the commenters, was "Silver Asiatic," who said:
Evolutionary ideas leave us with these kinds of conclusions. Distinctions which should be obvious to anyone are blurred. In classical Western philosophy, for example, humans are a radically different kind of being than apes. The gap between the two is virtually infinite.

When viewed by evolutionary-science alone, however, humans are a few mutations away from non-human ape ancestors.

In my view, reductionism of this sort leads to absurd conclusions like this. Humans are not apes and should not be redefined as such.
But ID is science, right? Except when science comes up with a result that "classical Western philosophy" (read as Christian philosophy, since there are plenty of different philosophies) doesn't like ... until it can no longer deny reality.

It was, of course, "obvious" to "classical Western philosophy" that the Earth was the center of the universe, that everything else revolved around it and, therefore, was the "bottom" of the universe where all the bad things "fell down" from the perfect "heavenly spheres." Damn Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo and Newton for their "reductionism."

The pretense of the IDers is that "design" is a scientific, empiric result but even their own adherents know that isn't true.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014


Pitch Melba

I've been reading, first, Barbara Tuchman's The Guns of August and, now, her The Proud Tower. The first was about the first month of World War One and how, based on the decisions of individuals, it turned from a war of vast military maneuver that could have been, as every supposedly sophisticated ruler, politician, pundit and average man in the street, the latter about to become cannon-fodder, thought, over in a month, but, in fact, became a four year abattoir.

The second book is about the societies in the late 1800s and early 1900s that let that tragedy happen. In her section on Anarchists (who I have no sympathy for anymore than their bastard stepchildren, Libertarians) there is one account that resonates:
The poor lived in a society in which power, wealth and magnificent spending were never more opulent, in which the rich dined on fish, fowl and red meat at one meal, lived in houses of marble floors and damask walls and of thirty, forty or fifty rooms, wrapped themselves in furs in winter and were cared for by a retinue of servants who blacked their boots, arranged their hair, drew their baths and lit their fires. In this world, at a luncheon for Mme. Nellie Melba at the Savoy, when perfect peaches, a delicacy of the season, were served up "fragrant and delicious in their cotton wool," the surfeited guests made a game of throwing them at passers-by beneath the windows.
Our own over-wealthy, governmentally over-pampered, elite, such as the Koch Brothers, have, at least, learned not to pelt the proletariat with the Peach Melba. Instead, sanctioned by the courts, they throw billions of dollars at them in the form of commercials to convince the prols to vote against their own interests.

Will the disaster be any the less? Certainly, whatever disaster comes will almost completely skirt the new elite. We can only wish us prols the best.

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