Brendan Eich case raises free speech issues for people who don’t understand how free speech works

No, Virginia. Intolerance of intolerance isn’t the same as intolerance of human beings.

When it became public that recently appointed Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich had donated to the controversial anti-gay rights Prop 8 initiative in California back in 2008, things – as we used to say back home – blowed up. Rarebit yanked an app from the Mozilla marketplace and in a highly visible move, dating site OK Cupid asked its users not to access the site with Mozilla’s Firefox browser.

Eich fought back, and we witnessed a couple of days of textbook crisis management as the company (and its under-fire CEO) worked to convince the world that a person’s official and personal beliefs can be compartmentalized – that is, you can be anti-equality in your private life but suitably inclusive at work. Continue reading “Brendan Eich case raises free speech issues for people who don’t understand how free speech works”

What. The. Fuck.: Gays shouldn’t be allowed to have children because they plan?

I … I … ummm. This is a joke, right? Marriage should be limited to unions of a man and a woman because they alone can “produce unplanned and unintended offspring,” opponents of gay marriage have told the Supreme Court. By contrast, when same-sex couples decide to have children, “substantial advance planning is required,” said Paul D. Clement, a lawyer for House Republicans. Apparently no, no it is not. Used to be teh queers couldn’t be trusted because they’d hump anything they could catch. Now they have to be restricted because … they’re responsible. 2016 is going to be a … Continue reading What. The. Fuck.: Gays shouldn’t be allowed to have children because they plan?

Tony Blair sits quietly as Liberian president defends law criminalizing homosexuality

Former English Prime Minister Tony Blair has taken his share of beatings here at S&R, and I’m grateful to my colleague Wufnik for periodically reminding us all what an invertebrate git Wee Bambi is. In the grand scheme of things (you know, helping his Mac Daddy George Bush invade Iraq, resulting in the pointless deaths of … well, the estimates vary, but range as high as a million-plus, many of them civilians) today’s news is piddling, but it nonetheless confirms what we have long known about Teflon Tony.

Nobel peace prize winner defends law criminalising homosexuality in Liberia: In joint interview, Tony Blair refuses to comment on Liberian president’s remarks supporting anti-gay laws

Continue reading “Tony Blair sits quietly as Liberian president defends law criminalizing homosexuality”

Gays and professional sports: Sir Charles stands up for what’s right. Again.

A few days ago, Phoenix Suns president Rick Welts revealed that he is gay. And the whole sporting world exploded yawned.

Okay, that’s not precisely true. There has been a bit of comment and analysis. But so far, no controversy. No homophobic ranting, no athletes stepping up to say that Jesus doesn’t approve, none of that. This is a wonderful thing. That the public response so far has amount to a collective shoulder shrug is evidence that America is finally getting over the idea that sports just isn’t ready for gays in the locker room. Continue reading “Gays and professional sports: Sir Charles stands up for what’s right. Again.”

Time for America’s Freddie Mercury moment: there are more than 100 gay pro athletes in the US, and the sooner they get out of the equipment closet the better

In a recent discussion on one of my political lists Sara Robinson (easily one of the brightest folks in the blogosphere) made an important point about what often causes people to migrate from socially conservative perspectives to more progressive points of view. In describing her experiences with a particular activist group that helped people leaving fundamentalist religions (something that can be emotionally traumatic at the very least, and that frequently comes at a significant price in their lives – lost families, ostracization, etc.), she noted:

[T]he first sliver of doubt came about when the person’s authorities asked them to believe something that they simply could not reconcile with their own experience. In a plurality of cases, this dissonance was caused by knowing and caring for someone who was gay, and realizing that the conservative storyline on the inherent evil of homosexuality just didn’t line up with what they knew of this wonderful person. (If the religious right knew just how often this one issue triggered those first unignorable doubts, they’d walk away from gay-hating and never go back to it.) Continue reading “Time for America’s Freddie Mercury moment: there are more than 100 gay pro athletes in the US, and the sooner they get out of the equipment closet the better”

Are liberals smarter than conservatives? Our nitwit media strike again…

CNN reported last week on a new study showing that liberalism, atheism and sexual exclusivity in males are linked to higher IQ scores. The findings are intriguing, for all the obvious reasons.

Evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa at the the London School of Economics and Political Science correlated data on these behaviors with IQ from a large national U.S. sample and found that, on average, people who identified as liberal and atheist had higher IQs. This applied also to sexual exclusivity in men, but not in women. The findings will be published in the March 2010 issue of Social Psychology Quarterly.

Reactions have been all over the place, but there’s been strong suspicion of the findings from both “liberal” and “conservative” corners (especially conservative, as you’d expect). Which is good. Continue reading “Are liberals smarter than conservatives? Our nitwit media strike again…”

Democracy & Elitism 4: equality, opportunity and leveling up the playing field

Pulitzer- and Emmy-winner William Henry‘s famous polemic, In Defense of Elitism (1994), argues that societies can be ranked along a spectrum with “egalitarianism” on one end and “elitism” on the other. He concludes that America, to its detriment, has slid too far in the direction of egalitarianism, and in the process that it has abandoned the elitist impulse that made it great (and that is necessary for any great culture). While Henry’s analysis is flawed in spots (and, thanks to the excesses of the Bush years, there are some other places that could use updating), he brilliantly succeeds in his ultimate goal: crank-starting a much-needed debate about the proper place of elitism in a “democratic” society.

Along the way he spends a good deal of time defining what he means by “egalitarianism” and “elitism.” Continue reading “Democracy & Elitism 4: equality, opportunity and leveling up the playing field”

America and its presidents: what the fuck is wrong with you people?

Let’s begin with a brief Q&A with America.

Q: Let’s say you’re sick with a potentially deadly disease. Who do you want for a doctor?
A: The smartest, most experienced and highly qualified expert in the field.

Q: You’re looking to invest your life savings. Who do you trust to handle your money?
A: The brightest, most agile financial mind I can find.

Q: You’ve been selected to participate in a “private citizens in space” program. Who do you want in charge of building the rocket? Continue reading “America and its presidents: what the fuck is wrong with you people?”

Democrats to Progressives: We’re just not that into you

not_that_into_youA modest proposal, perhaps.

It’s been entertaining watching American public “discourse” since the election. (I use that word in its broadest, most ridiculous sense, since nothing that hinges so completely on self-absorption, rank ignorance and pathological dishonesty can be accurately characterized by such a noble word. But indulge me. I’ve been working on my irony lately.)

On the one hand you have conservatives fainting dead away that we’re now in the clutches of a “socialist” president. Never mind that these folks wouldn’t know a real socialist if he was gnawing their balls off. Never mind that most of these folks think “socialist” is the French word for Negro. Never mind that Obama demonstrably is to socialism what Joe the Plumber is to brie-sucking Northeastern intellectualism. As arch-conservative TV pundit Stephen Colbert says, “this is a fact-free zone.”

On the other you have the righteous outrage of the progressosphere, which feels six different kinds of betrayed by a president who promised them the moon and stars and has now left them to what looks like at least a four-year walk of shame. If I might borrow from an old fraternity joke, imagine the following scene from the Oval Office: Continue reading “Democrats to Progressives: We’re just not that into you”

Author Orson Scott Card: Gays not “acceptable, equal citizens”; “I will act to destroy that government and bring it down”

Orson Scott Card is a barking fascist asshat. Let me illustrate.

I always marveled at how some of my friends worshiped the writing of Orson Scott Card. Maybe, I thought, it’s because we’re North Carolinians and he’s from Greensboro. From my perspective he was nothing special, at best, and has in the last couple of decades evolved into perhaps America’s most overrated science fiction author. Ender’s Game was prescient in its way – in a world where weaponry is so technologized that war is a video game, of course kids can be uber-warriors. But when the boy is made into some kind of equally uber moralist and philosopher (or whatever the hell Speaker for the Dead was about) I smelled the pungent aroma of self-indulgence that so often attends SF writers of a certain stripe.

The Alvin Maker series was even less bearable. We were doing fine in Seventh Son, clipping through an interesting enough little story (assuming you could get past the inexplicably patronizing treatment of Native American names) and then – the damnedest what the fuck passage in all of known literature. Continue reading “Author Orson Scott Card: Gays not “acceptable, equal citizens”; “I will act to destroy that government and bring it down””

What Would Jesus Do (with $40 million)?

33And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

34Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

35For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

36Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

37Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

38When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

39Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

40And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

– Matthew 25: 33-40

I was reminded of this little passage today as I reviewed these numbers: Continue reading “What Would Jesus Do (with $40 million)?”

Dear Lord Baby Jesus, we come before you today to inaugurate the new president of the United States of God…

Well, here’s a fine howdy-do: Rick Warren, pastor of the mother of all mega-churches, has been tapped to channel Jesus conduct a seance deliver the invocation at Barack Obama’s inauguration. Because Warren is, you know, a “moderate.”

…in 2004 Warren declared that marriage, reproductive choice, and stem cell research were “non-negotiable” issues for Christian voters and has admitted that the main difference between himself and James Dobson is a matter of tone.  He criticized Obama’s answers at the Faith Forum he hosted before the election and vowed to continue to pressure him to change his views on the issue of reproductive choice.  He came out strongly in support of Prop 8, saying “there is no need to change the universal, historical definition of marriage to appease 2 percent of our population … Continue reading “Dear Lord Baby Jesus, we come before you today to inaugurate the new president of the United States of God…”

Too. Much. Information!

DNC08, day one observation: there’s just way the hell more going on that we can cover. There are 11 of us, and I’m not sure we could do what we feel like we ought to be doing if we had 111.

It’s especially tough because S&R isn’t and never has been about being the firstest and the fastest. We rarely scoop anybody. Instead, we like to digest, to ponder, to reflect, to think as thoroughly as we can and finally produce something that takes the reader deeper. But today – there’s so much that the team has covered, so many people we’ve talked to, so many pictures we’ve taken… When it comes to information coming in, it’s been like drinking from a firehose. Continue reading “Too. Much. Information!”

The “McCain standard” and the rise of the Calphalon Candidate

If you’re following America’s electoral theater at all, you know that we have a candidate with a preacher problem. And that the candidate in question has been put in the uncomfortable position of having to repudiate some of said preacher’s remarks (while not alienating those voters in the flock who actually, you know, agree with what the Reverend was saying). In case you haven’t been paying attention, the controversial cleric has pronounced God’s doom upon certain of the nation’s citizens, and the backlash against him and his favorite for the White House has significantly damaged the candidate’s chances.

Of course, I’m talking about the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Barack Obama. Errr, wait … that’s not right. That’s not who I’m talking about at all. Continue reading “The “McCain standard” and the rise of the Calphalon Candidate”

“We don’t need 5,000 more illiterate peasants in the state of Colorado”

Colorado’s most infamous asspipe, Douglas Bruce, is at it again.

Bruce booted after “illiterate” remark
By Jessica Fender
The Denver Post

Disparaging remarks aimed at migrant workers got resident rabble-rouser Rep. Douglas Bruce banned from speaking on an alien worker bill today.

“We don’t need 5,000 more illiterate peasants in the state of Colorado,” Bruce, R-Colorado Springs, told the chamber to an audible gasp.

Rep. Kathleen Curry, leading the House at the time, immediately barred Bruce from speaking at the podium, an uncommon maneuver. Continue reading ““We don’t need 5,000 more illiterate peasants in the state of Colorado””

Is Obama the new JFK?

Something big happened a few nights ago in Iowa. Barack Obama began the evening as one of the top two contenders for the Democratic nomination and by the time people went to bed he was John F. Kennedy.

This might sound like hyperbole – and to be sure, the race is far from won – but if the results we saw in the Hawkeye State last Thursday are replicated in New Hampshire and beyond, then what we are seeing may be a defining shift in American politics and culture. The key factor is the emergence of the 75-100 million strong Millennial Generation as a political force. Let’s look at some of the evidence.

The Young Voter PAC’s roundup provides ample data for consideration. Continue reading “Is Obama the new JFK?”

2007 in Review, pt. 5: Politicians, whores and the media who love them…

Welcome to the fifth and final installment of the Scholars & Rogues year-end wrap-up. Today we tackle the dirty, but oddly riveting world of politics. We’ll take a couple shots at the even dirtier world of media that makes it all possible. Let’s start at the top, shall we?

George Walker Bush: I’ve been telling my Republican friends for five years now that Dubya was going to do more damage to their party than an army of Hillarys could dream of doing. And 2007 was the year where I think the truth of this proposition finally started becoming evident. Scandals at the Justice Department and World Bank did him no favors, nor did the conviction of Scooter Libby (which necessitated the most politically debilitating pardon/commutation sequence since Ford saved Nixon). Iraq got worse by the day and we’re not seeing a lot of GOP presidential hopefuls looking to surf that Bush legacy. Continue reading “2007 in Review, pt. 5: Politicians, whores and the media who love them…”

Shame on the White House (for officially recognizing homosexual unions and “play house” parenting)

Boy howdy, The Dick’s lesbian daughter and her “partner” done pizzizzled off The Parents Group. I hate to actually excerpt anything from this release because it’s all so good, but let me see if I can find an especially juicy bit. Ah, here’s one:

If the Vice President and his wife Lynne are joining their daughter Mary in playing this homosexual game of “house,” then all have chosen their roles and designated lesbian lover Heather Poe as the “Daddy.”

Everyone knows there can only be one REAL biological Mommy. We are all grown adults. Playing “house” is a game for children, not for The White House or the Vice President and his wife. Continue reading “Shame on the White House (for officially recognizing homosexual unions and “play house” parenting)”