Archive for the “General” Category

Posts of a general nature

LGBT flag map of ConnecticutI assume my readers know about the vile practice known as “conversion therapy” (aka “reparative therapy,” and some other innocuous-sounding circumlocutions). Its proponents say it’s a way to help gays become straight, and they’ve been pushing it on the country for a couple decades now (WebCite cached article).

In the 1970s, the psychiatric profession stopped treating homosexuality as a mental illness, but shortly afterward, Christianists took up the cause, and cooked up “ministries” intended to “deliver” gays from their “sin.” Among the most famous of those was Exodus International, which more or less shut down just a few years ago (cached).

By the early 90s the “convert the gays” movement was almost entirely fueled by evangelical Christianity, even though a few psychologists like Joseph Nicolosi tried to give their weird pray-the-gay-away “treatments” a clinical veneer, having signed on as consultants to their ministries (cached). The bottom line is that “conversion therapy” is not only ineffective, it’s harmful to many who participate (cached). It’s pseudoscientific, and frequently barbaric (in the case of the “aversion techniques” they use). It also provides a pretext for the mistreatment of gays.

While my home state of Connecticut is as deep-blue Democratic/Liberal as one can get — and was among the first states to permit gay marriage (in 2008) — it’s taken a while to address “conversion therapy” here. As CT Mirror reports, though, the state House of Representatives approved a law to ban it in the Nutmeg State (cached):

The House of Representatives voted 141 to 8 Tuesday to pass and send to the Senate a bill that would make Connecticut one of a half-dozen states barring conversion therapy, the discredited practice of trying to change the sexual orientation of young homosexuals.

“This practice and treatment is not science, it’s science fiction,” the bill’s chief House sponsor, Rep. Jeffrey Currey, D-East Hartford, told his colleagues.

The bill would enshrine in state law the conclusions of the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association and other national associations of health professionals: Homosexuality is not a disease, and forcing conversion therapy on a minor can be harmful.

Only 8 legislators voted against it … all Republicans (no surprise there!). One of them offered this boneheaded excuse for her “nay” vote:

[Ann] Dauphinais [of Killingly] said passage put Connecticut on a slippery slope of further interfering with parental rights.

“I believe this is a violation of the rights of parents to make choices they see as in the best interest of children,” Dauphinais said.

I guess she’d approve of parents treating their kids’ maladies with bloodletting, then … right? That is, after all, the natural consequence of her stated wish that parents have absolute, unfettered freedom to do as they wish to their kids. No?

What a fucking moron!

If the bill passed 141-8 in the House, I expect it will get through the state Senate, too, although probably with a little tighter margin.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Unsplash, via PixabayThe Commonwealth of Kentucky has an awful lot of problems … or so I thought. I mean, last I knew, it’s home to some of the most impoverished counties in the entire US (WebCite cached article). It’s taken decades for Kentucky to devolve into its current dismal status. Yes, it’s been hurt by the loss of coal production, but no, this wasn’t caused by the coal-hating Barack HUSSEIN Obama; coal jobs have diminished steadily since the 1980s, under presidents of both parties.

But it seems the Bluegrass State has solved all of its problems, including the deep poverty of its eastern reaches, because Frankfort has moved on to dealing with problems it doesn’t have: Namely, not enough Bible-thumping. As the Christian Post reports, Kentucky’s governor bravely signed a bill that establishes a foundation for Bible classes in the commonwealth’s public schools (cached):

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin recently signed a bill into law that authorizes public school boards to allow schools to offer elective Bible literacy courses and provides state guidance to help establish such classes, local news outlets have reported [cached].

According to the Ohio County Monitor, Bevin, a Republican, has signed House Bill 128 into law, which provides guidance to schools as they begin offering students the ability to sign up to take Bible courses.

The bill, which was introduced by Rep. DJ Johnson, passed overwhelmingly in the state’s senate 34 to 4 late last month.

The CP article includes obligatory references to the historic nature of the Bible and how important it is to civilization and yada yada yada. It even included this claim:

“Additionally, studies show that students that have a higher level of Bible literacy also tend to have higher GPAs,” [Republican representative DJ] Johnson continued.

No citations to these “studies” are provided, and I’m willing to bet either that no such thing exists, or they were commissioned by religious groups, in which case their results are suspect at best.

The article also points out the classes designed as a result of this law are to be “electives” only. The problem is that large swaths of Kentucky are packed with militant Christianists, so in many schools these “elective” classes won’t really be “electives”; nearly all kids will take them as a matter of course, and the few who dare not do so will be harassed and bullied. Yes, it will happen, no matter how vehemently the people promoting these classes insist they won’t permit it.

As someone who’s studied the Bible both from a religious and secular perspective, I don’t deny that secular Bible-literacy courses can have value for kids. The problem is, will the folks who teach these classes be willing to limit themselves to a secular approach? Will they have the restraint not to use them as an opportunity to proselytize? I’m not sure all of them will be able to resist the temptation to do so.

Really, what’s going on here is a kind of Bible-worship, or treating the Bible as though it were an idol. The people behind this law think that exposing kids to it will magically make them Christianists just like themselves. They really need to stick crowbars into the Bibles they long ago slammed shut, though, and actually read them for once … because it contains admonitions against idolatry and other forms of magical thinking.

At any rate, allow me to congratulate the Commonwealth on its achievement. Obviously there’s nothing wrong with Kentucky any more, and all that’s left is the passage of laws to promote Bible-reading. Well done, Kentuckyites! You must be so proud!

Photo credit: Unsplash, via Pixabay.

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Better to remain silent, and be thought a fool, than to open one's mouth, and remove all doubt! (proverb) / PsiCop original graphicThe compound train-wreck which is the Apricot Wonder’s presidential administration just keeps piling up more wreckage. White House press secretary Sean Spicer — who already faces a monumental credibility gap, having begun his tenure by angrily (not to mention brazenly) lying about the size of the Groper-in-Chief’s inauguration crowd (WebCite cached article), just outdid himself in asinine stupidity. At today’s press conference, as the New York Times explains, he not only went off the rails, he polevaulted over them and sailed half a mile beyond (cached):

Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, set off an intense backlash on Tuesday when he suggested that President Bashar al-Assad of Syria was worse than Hitler and said incorrectly that Hitler had not used chemical weapons during World War II or against his own people.

Mr. Spicer was attempting to lend gravity to the actions of Mr. Assad, who United States officials believe used sarin gas, a lethal chemical weapon, in an attack on a rebel-held area of Idlib Province last week that killed dozens.

Hitler oversaw a network of extermination camps where gas chambers were used to kill millions of Jews and others deemed to be harmful to the German state.

“We didn’t use chemical weapons in World War II. You know, you had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons,” Mr. Spicer said.…

Asked to clarify his remarks, Mr. Spicer acknowledged that Hitler used chemical agents, but maintained that there was a difference.

CNN offers video of Spicer’s cringeworthy debacle:

I can’t even describe the inanity and idiocy of comparing al-Assad to Hitler. There are just no words. I mean … seriously!? … what the fuck is wrong with Spicer? As a rule, Hitler comparisons are always a bad idea. This one is many times worse, because as it turns out, the Nazis definitely gassed Jews and others in concentration camps — in horrifically large numbers, at that. Spicer’s comparison is pure lunacy! It’s indefensible … period, end of story, full stop.

I expect, though, that Spicer and the rest of the Groper’s minions will continue — in spite of the obvious absurdity of doing so — defending this insane comparison. Moreover, their fanbois will join in the defense, and rail against any members of the media who lambaste Spicer over his buffoonish comparison. They’ll do so largely because of their allegiance to the Groper-in-Chief, whom they think can do no wrong, and because some of the Democrats they so vehemently despise have demanded Spicer’s resignation over the matter (cached). Democrats’ vilification of Spicer means — in the eyes of militant Rightists — that he must be correct.

This is a lesson in my principle (described above) that Third Reich comparisons are usually a bad idea, just by their very nature. I blogged about this, not only because of how tremendously crazy Spicer’s comparison is, but because as a rule, Hitler comparisons are altogether too common. The Right flung them at Barack Obama and the Democrats for the last 8 years, and they’re now being heaved at the Right from the opposite direction. It needs to fucking stop already. Time for everyone to grow up, fercryinoutloud, and put the Nazi comparisons away.

Photo credit: PsiCop original, based on proverb.

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And Jesus WeptThe list of Religious Rightists who feel compelled to yammer about rape continues to grow. They do it, even though they ought to have learned, by now, to just shut the fuck up about it already. Their absurd spew about it just makes them look ridiculous, and it’s sunk a few of their candidacies, too. So one would think they’d want to avoid the subject entirely. But too many of them refuse to do so. They’re too worked up about it, and too sanctimonious, to hold back. In other words, they just can’t help themselves.

The latest example of this kind of asinine behavior comes from the Oklahoma legislature. There, as KFOR-TV reports, Rep. George Faught agreed with the idea that rape is “the will of God” (WebCite cached article):

A controversial anti-abortion bill passed the House Tuesday, but not before a heated debate over the Bible, rape, and incest.

HB1549 punishes doctors who perform abortions if the mother is seeking one because of a genetic disorder.…

“Representative, is rape the will of God?” Rep. Cory Williams asked [the bill’s author, Rep. George] Faught.

“Well, you know, if you read the Bible, there are a couple circumstances where that happened, and the Lord uses all circumstances,” Faught replied.

“Is incest the will of God?” Williams asked.

“Same answer,” Faught said.

Here’s video of Faught’s bone-chilling pronouncement, via Youtube:This sounds horrific to anyone who’s not deeply immersed in evangelical Christianity. What person with a brain would want to worship a deity who “uses” terrible incidents like rape like some kind of cosmic tool? And it sounds horrible to the ear of this cynical, godless agnostic heathen.

But with that said … there is a reason Faught trotted this out: This chilling theology does, in fact, have sound roots in Christian thought.

First, it’s not uncommon for Christians to view horrific events, such as violent crimes, or larger catastrophes such as plagues, earthquakes, etc. as warnings issued by the Almighty. This is, in fact, what I call “disaster theology,” and I’ve blogged about many examples of this sort of thinking. It’s a very old and tired trope within Christianity.

Second, it’s a natural consequence of believing that God is the omnipotent and omniscient creator of the universe. God’s limitless power and knowledge of all that has ever happened, is happening, and ever will happen, is an absolute quality, and that has a number of logical ramifications. One of them is that nothing can ever happen that God does not permit to happen … because if God didn’t wish something to occur, then it couldn’t occur. His/her/its wishes are, after all, absolute! What’s more, since God knew everything that would ever happen, even long before s/he/it ever created the universe, that means the very act of creating the universe caused it all to happen. Thus, God bears final and total accountability for everything … and I do mean absolutely everything!

This last point is one that most theists don’t accept, even if it’s completely logical. The bottom line is that God is, according to much of what Abrahmic-tradition followers say about him/her/it, a monster who uses events like rape as tools to achieve his goals. It’s an unavoidable conclusion. So any Abrahamic believer who says they don’t agree with vicious cretins like Faught, are going to have to think long and hard about what, exactly, they believe in and what kind of God they worship. Most of them, for better or worse, have never really thought out what it means to believe in a deity who has all the qualities they say their God has. It’s just never occurred to them to lay it all out — all of it — and figure out exactly what it means. They simply like thinking their deity is all-powerful. The emotional comfort this provides, is all they know and all they care about. They ignore the other ramifications of this belief.

Photo credit: Terry Alexander, via Flickr.

Hat tip: Raw Story.

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Word of Faith Fellowship Church grounds in Rutherford County, N.C. / CBS affiliate WSPAI’ve already blogged about the Word of Faith Fellowship church in Spindale, NC which was the subject of a series of Associated Press stories.

In addition to some North Carolina prosecutors (who were also members of the church, and one a relative of its leaders) being reviewed for having helped prevent Word of Faith from being fully investigated through the years, there’s been a little more fallout. As the Associated Press reports, a county social worker — also a member of the church who may have helped shield them from accountability — has resigned from her job (WebCite cached article):

A veteran social worker accused of coaching congregants and their children on what to say during a 2015 child abuse investigation of her secretive religious sect has resigned, an attorney for a child welfare agency said Friday.

Andrea Leslie-Fite said Lori Cornelius left her position at the Cleveland County Department of Social Services.…

[North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation] spokesman Patty McQuillan said Friday the agency isn’t currently investigating Cornelius or the Rutherford County Division of Social Services. But she said that could change.…

In its ongoing investigation, the AP has reported that the 2015 social services investigation included complaints that students at the church-run K-12 school were encouraged to beat classmates to cast out devils. Former members also said Cornelius coached children on what to tell investigators with the help of assistant prosecutors Frank Webster and Chris Back. Back is the son-in-law of sect leader Jane Whaley.

That DSS probe ended with no charges.

The abuse this church inflicted on people was all about devils:

Victims of the violence included pre-teens and toddlers — even crying babies — who were vigorously shaken, screamed at and sometimes smacked to banish demons, according to on-the-record interviews with 43 former members. Those interviewed said congregants also were subjected to a practice called “blasting” — an ear-piercing verbal onslaught often conducted in hours-long sessions meant to cast out devils.

Yes, let’s torture people in order to drive out devils (or demons or ghosts or poltergeists or whatever-the-fuck)! Why, of course it makes total sense that incorporeal beings can be harmed that way. Obviously!

Photo credit: WSPA-TV, via CBS News.

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In this Feb. 22, 2017 file photo, Oklahoma state Sen. Ralph Shortey, R-Oklahoma City, speaks during a Senate committee meeting in Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma Senate has voted to punish Shortey, who police say was found with a teenage boy in a motel room. Police officials in the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore are still investigating the circumstances surrounding an incident last week involving Sen. Shortey and a teenager. No charges have been filed. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)Note: There’s been an update to this story since I first posted it. See below.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A loud, sanctimonious Religious Rightist prick — who runs around demanding others comply with his wishes, decrying society’s moral decline, and claiming moral superiority over everyone — turns out to be a brazen fucking hypocrite who’s actually guilty of some of the very immoral crap he accuses his opponents of. Yep, it’s a familiar story, all right! The Oklahoman reports it happened in the case of a state senator in the Sooner State (WebCite cached article):

A conservative state senator who once wanted to be a missionary was accused Thursday in a child prostitution case of offering to pay a 17-year-old boy for sex.

Sen. Ralph Shortey, R-Oklahoma City, was charged with three felony counts, one week after police found him with the teenager in a Moore hotel room.…

The evidence against Shortey includes a graphic online conversation where the two discuss having sex and smoking marijuana, police reported in a court affidavit. The conversation was found on the teenager’s Kindle tablet.

Shortey, using the online name “Jamie Tilley,” at one point during the discussion about sex called the teenager “baby boy,” according to the affidavit.

I think that’s enough detail to explain the accusation here. What’s important to know about Shortey is that, a year ago, he’d tried to advance a “bathroom bill” through the Oklahoma legislature, which would have prevented transgender people from using appropriate public bathrooms (cached). Advocates of these kinds of “bathroom bills” they’re necessary in order to prevent women from being assaulted in restrooms — as though assault isn’t already illegal (and it is).

Shortey’s lawyer has said he plans to resign, but hasn’t done so yet, as far as I know. Not sure what he’s waiting for — he’s probably negotiating some kind of deal, such as continuing to get benefits, or something like that.

Update: It turns out the wait for Shortey to quit lasted only a day. The Oklahoman reports he has resigned from the OK state senate (cached).

Photo credit: AP Photo, Sue Ogrocki.

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Secret of my success: I'm going to succeed because I'm crazy enough to think I can …. / Motifake.ComI’ve lived some 5 decades, but have yet to see anything quite like the clusterfuck that is Washington, DC right now. The White House is desperately wrenching itself all over the place in an effort both to back away from, and simultaneously justify, the Groper-in-Chief’s claim that his predecessor had ordered him wiretapped prior to the election.

Yesterday, the GiC’s press secretary went off on reporters at his daily press briefing, still defending his boss’s indefensible — and deceptive — claim that Trump Tower had been wiretapped (cached). In the course of this exercise in derangement, he cited a Fox News pundit’s claim that the previous president used GHCQ, the UK’s equivalent of the NSA, to bug Trump. As one would expect, this (naturally) incensed the Brits, who as one would expect, denied any such thing happened. As the (UK) Telegraph reports, White House functionaries had to apologize for this (cached):

Intelligence sources told The Telegraph that both Mr Spicer and General McMaster, the US National Security Adviser, have apologised over the claims. “The apology came direct from them,” a source said.

General McMaster contacted Sir Mark Lyall Grant, the Prime Minister’s National Security adviser, to apologise for the comments. Mr Spicer conveyed his apology through Sir Kim Darroch, Britain’s US ambassador.

Normally that would have been the end of the matter. At least, during previous administrations, it would have. But not this one! Oh no. Instead of being tamped down, as CNN explains, the insanity of this minor debacle was actually amplified, instead (cached):

White House press secretary Sean Spicer flatly denied Friday that the White House apologized to the British government after citing an uncorroborated Fox News report to allege that a UK intelligence agency spied on President Donald Trump at the behest of former President Barack Obama.

Far from conceding he’d done anything wrong by reading a false report during his press briefing, Spicer actually defended what he’d done:

“I don’t think we regret anything,” Spicer told reporters at a gaggle Friday afternoon. Asked by CNN’s Jim Acosta if there was an apology by the administration to the British government over the matter, Spicer replied, “No, we were just passing on news reports.”

Spicer thinks that he can stand behind the White House podium and read unsupported conjectures by former judge Andrew Napolitano that the previous US president colluded with another country’s intelligence service in order to break the law and bug his opposing party’s presidential nominee, and not be called to account for having done so. Yes, Napolitano’s spew about GCHQ is, by admission of his employer, unsupported conjecture (cached).

There is, of course, no evidence — not a whiff of a hint of a speck of it! — that Obama ordered the Groper-in-Chief’s campaign offices in Trump Tower tapped, which is what the GiC has said occurred. Yesterday, Spicer’s meltdown consisted of him trying to make that claim appear true, using conservative blogs and opinion pieces that don’t actually have anything to do with the specifics of that claim. At best, it appears the FBI had sought FISA warrants … and after an initial rejection, finally got one … to monitor two Russian banks. That was all. It wasn’t (so far as we know) a “wiretap,” but an electronic-records search. Even if this search turned up information about the Apricot Wonder’s minions (which, let’s face it, is quite possible, given their dealings with Russia), this does not in any way support the idea that President Obama had personally ordered a wiretap of Trump Tower. Yet, in the view of the Groper and his minion Spicer, that settles it entirely, and no disagreement is permitted.

Look, let’s cut away all the rest of the bullshit here and lay out the truth of this matter: The Groper-in-Chief and his minions cannot, and will never, admit error or fault. They can’t do it, even in instances where they might wish to. It’s not in their nature. They’re incapable of it.

Normally, such irrational intransigence is psychopathological in nature. In other words, people have to be crazy to go to such lengths. And the Apricot Wonder wouldn’t be the first person to operate that way. Many celebrities, politicians, etc. all proceed in that way. There’s often a rational reason for it, however: Not alienating one’s voters and/or fanbase. You see, public figures accumulate followers who come to identify with them. For the public figure to admit fault or error might offend those followers, because those followers might question why they looked up to the person in the first place and (ironically) become upset with that figure.

It’s possible the Groper-in-Chief thinks he and his people can get by with their petulant defiance on this matter. He and they have done it before. He routinely says false things and never really is meaningfully challenged either to support what he says or concede he was wrong. It just never happens. He gets away with it because he disparages anything contrary as “fake news” and his followers just soak it up and absorb it. They often perpetuate the falsehood for him, even if he drops the matter, himself.

In this case, though, the Apricot Wonder and his staff are risking an international incident. Accusing one of their intelligence agencies of helping his predecessor break the law is not something the UK is likely to sit still for. And tossing it away as “well, I was just reading someone else’s report” isn’t going to cut it. Standing before the national media and using that statement as evidence of a claim, is not simply reading someone else’s material. No, rather, it means one believes that material; it’s an implied assertion the report is true! Not that I think the UK would go to war over something like this, but taking things as far as they have, suggests the Groper and his people are psychopathological liars rather than just unwilling to offend the electorate that put them into the White House.

Photo credit: Motifake.

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