Notes and Comment Blog

Our short and pithy observations on the passing scene as it relates to the mission of Butterflies and Wheels. Woolly-headed or razor-sharp comments in the media, anti-rationalist rhetoric in books or magazines or overheard on the bus, it’s all grist to our mill. And sometimes we will hold forth on the basis of no inspiration at all beyond what happens to occur to us.

Resting velocipede face

Jul 10th, 2014 6:34 pm | By

The things people worried about in the 19th century…

One such was the risk that women who rode bicycles would get – wait for it – bicycle face.

Instead, some late 19th century doctors warned that — especially for women — using the newfangled contraption could lead to a threatening medical condition: bicycle face.

Because…what? They were facing forward and paying attention, so they wouldn’t look all languorous and dreamy and fragile, as the fashion was?

“Over-exertion, the upright position on the wheel, and the unconscious effort to maintain one’s balance tend to produce a wearied and exhausted ‘bicycle face,’” noted the Literary Digest in 1895. It went on to describe the condition: “usually flushed, but sometimes pale, often with lips more or less drawn, and the beginning of dark shadows under the eyes, and always with an expression of weariness.” Elsewhere, others said the condition was “characterized by a hard, clenched jaw and bulging eyes.”

Yeah that’s wrong. Just for one thing, it’s only an effort to maintain balance on a bicycle when you haven’t learned to ride one yet. Once you catch on it becomes completely automatic and effortless, and you wonder why it was so difficult before then.

Anyway. It’s always interesting to see people trying to make women feel anxious about what they look like. Such a healthy pastime – unlike that dreadful bicycle thing.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Todd Akin regrets

Jul 10th, 2014 6:00 pm | By

Former Congressional Rep Todd Akin, Very Republican-Missouri, famous solely for being the guy who said “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” has regrets.

He has regrets about saying that ridiculous and insulting thing?

Oh no. No no no. He has regrets about apologizing for saying that ridiculous and insulting thing.

Sean Sullivan at the Washington Post tells us about the regrets.

Akin explains himself in a soon-to-be-released book, “Firing Back: Taking on the Party Bosses and Media Elite to Protect Our Faith and Freedom.” 

Let’s pause for a second to admire that string of clichés. Bosses, media elite, faith, freedom; enemy enemy, good good. Imagine what the book must be like.

Politico obtained a copy early and reported on a passage in which Akin suggests that he shouldn’t have apologized in a TV ad.

“By asking the public at large for forgiveness,” Akin writes,  “I was validating the willful misinterpretation of what I had said.”

Akin ran for the U.S. Senate in 2012. He stoked widespread controversy that derailed his campaign when he remarked in a local interview: “First of all, from what I understand from doctors, [pregnancy from rape] is really rare.” He added that “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” He later apologized in a television commercial, saying, “I used the wrong words in the wrong way, and for that I apologize.”

But now, well, he’s realized that he didn’t use the wrong words in the wrong way and that his duty to protect faith and freedom from the party bosses and the media elite requires him to say he was right the first time.

Ok. He really meant to say that raped women don’t get pregnant because the female body has a way to prevent that from happening. Sly, scary, powerful women, eh? Be afraid.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Few things are as grave as the rape of land

Jul 10th, 2014 5:02 pm | By

Back in 2008, in Cairo, another discussion of rape.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Pictures of themselves splayed out on the ground

Jul 10th, 2014 1:31 pm | By

Amanda Marcotte on the Jada outrage.

Man, does this demonstrate what a double-edged sword social media can be when it comes to issues of assault and bullying. On one hand, social media can be used to pile on someone who is already the victim of abuse. The Houston Press reports that after Jada gave her interview to KHOU, another round of ugliness started when idiots started tweeting pictures of themselves splayed out on the ground, mimicking the pose Jada was in when someone snapped the photo of her passed out.

View image on Twitter

I’ve seen some more on that hashtag. Callous, brutal – simply horrible.

It’s a shame that anyone would feel like they might as well come forward because they have lost so much control of their own situation. But, by putting her face out there, Jada is taking some power back. It’s much harder to marginalize or even demonize an alleged sexual assault victim who makes you acknowledge her humanity. As Emily Bazelon argued in defense of Daisy Coleman, another alleged rape victim who bravely showed her face on TV, while it is a “huge personal risk,” it “can only help erase the stigma of being sexually assaulted.”

As Emily noted about Coleman and another young woman who was speaking out at the time, Jada is also “teaching a lesson in resilience” by “being clear eyed about what they say happened” but “not letting it own them.” She is refusing to be reduced to a few blurred-out photos. She is looking directly at the camera, and that’s the pose I’ll remember.

High school boys? Don’t be evil.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

So raping girls for lolz is a thing now is it?

Jul 10th, 2014 12:58 pm | By

There’s another Steubenville type case in Texas, to provide us with yet more despair about human beings.

In an incident that shares several elements with the infamous Steubenville rape case that made national headlines last year, a 16-year-old girl from Texas says that photos of her unconscious body went viral online after she was drugged and raped at a party with her fellow high schoolers. But the victim isn’t backing down. She’s speaking out about what happened to her, telling her story to local press and asking to be identified as Jada.

After other teens started mocking her online — sharing images of themselves splayed out on the floor in the same pose as Jada’s unconscious body under the hashtag #jadapose — the victim decided to speak out.

I’m so sick of human cruelty.

According to Jada, she was invited to a party at a fellow high schooler’s house. The boy who was hosting the party gave her a drink that she believes was spiked with a drug that made her lose consciousness. She passed out and doesn’t remember what happened next. But then she started seeing evidence of her sexual assault circulated online, and some of her peers started texting her to ask her if she was okay.

Then, #jadapose started turning her rape into a joke. When the Houston Press reached out to one of the individuals who shared a popular #jadapose photo, he said that he didn’t personally know Jada and was simply “bored at 1 a.m. and decided to wake up my (Twitter timeline).”

Jada decided to share her name and her story with the press because she has nothing to hide anymore. “Everybody has already seen my face and my body,” she said, “but that’s not what I am and who I am.” Nonetheless, the social media firestorm has taken a toll on her. She says she now wants to be homeschooled.

Gee, I wonder why.

The Houston police is currently investigating Jada’s allegations, and no arrests have yet been made. The alleged perpetrator has denied that a sexual assault occurred, referring to Jada as a “hoe” who “snitched.”

She’s a “hoe,” and he’s…?

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

The god seats

Jul 10th, 2014 12:42 pm | By

Why, why, why.

Obama goes to Texas to chat with Rick Perry about immigration.

Obama delivered remarks after he met in Dallas with local elected officials, faith leaders and nonprofit leaders to discuss how to handle the flood of illegal immigrants, many of them unaccompanied minors from, crossing the southern border.

Why? Why did he meet with “faith leaders”? What have they got to do with anything? Why not limit it to nonprofit leaders, some of whom could well be religious? Why give “faith leaders” a seat at the table? Why can’t the government just stop doing this?

Asking for a friend.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

The mundane and beyond

Jul 10th, 2014 11:57 am | By

My boss (so to speak – the editor of Free Inquiry) Tom Flynn takes on the notion of “transcendence” in his editorial in the current issue.

In a 2013 Guardian blog post bewailing atheism’s poverty as a supporting matrix for secular ceremonies, British writer Suzanne Moore wrote: “We may find the fuzziness of new age thinking with its emphasis on ‘nature’ and ‘spirit’ impure, but to dismiss the human need to express transcendence and connection with others as stupid is itself stupid.”

If you’ve been looking for an elevator speech about the differences between religious and secular humanism, this is a great place to start. Religious humanists may well yearn to “express transcendence and connection with others.” How do secular humanists differ? While we cherish “connection with others” as warmly as anyone else, insofar as we are secular, we reject “transcendence” out of hand. For secular humanists, there’s simply no such thing as transcendence or the transcendent.

A core aspect of the secular view is the insight, rooted in science, that reality is mundane. Reality is the domain of matter, energy, their interactions, and (so far as we can tell) nothing else. On the secular view, then, words such as spirit and transcendence simply have no referents. To the degree that reverence is understood transitively—as denoting awe, veneration, or respect toward something beyond—it has no referents either. The domain of everyday experience can’t be transcended. There is nothing above it, nothing beyond or over it, nothing to revere . . . only reality. That’s not to say that secular humanists can’t have sweeping aesthetic or emotional experiences—but we understand them naturalistically.

How about “elevated”? Elevated emotions, language, experiences, that sort of thing.

That’s not a woo-ish or pseudo-goddy word is it? Poetry often uses elevated language, and so does some prose. (And then there’s the bathetic sort of prose that tries for elevated and just gets windy.)

Also I don’t think it’s exactly true that there is nothing beyond or above or over the domain of everyday experience – because sure there is: there’s the cosmos, for one thing, and all the particulars of the cosmos, for another thing (or rather billions of billions of things). They’re literally beyond the domain of everyday experience, and they’re beyond it in other senses too. They’re naturalistically beyond it, as far as I know, but still beyond it. Way the hell beyond it. Thinking about that can make you feel small and pointless and mournful, or small and pointless and exhilarated, or it can make you feel lost in infinity. What it doesn’t much do, I think, is remind you of fried eggs and getting batteries at Target and doing the laundry.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Combat the demons by taking their pants off!

Jul 9th, 2014 6:16 pm | By

Another from the annals of video game weirdness.

The plot of Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed, a new Japanese adventure game making its way to the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PS Vita this year, is pretty straightforward: As a young man, you’re tasked with identifying and eliminating bloodthirsty demons that have invaded Tokyo. The concept seems harmless, if a bit tired, until you realize that the “demons” in question seem to primarily take the form of young girls, and your best method of combating them is to strip off their clothing and expose them to the sun.

So, instead of battling grotesque enemies like you can in so many games involving demons, you’re stripping what appears to be a teenage girl down to her panties. There’s even a new and exciting game mechanic being introduced in this sequel (yes, a sequel) that lets multiple players strip an enemy together. Yikes.

The word is underpants. But anyway, yes, yikes.

Also, what if you’re not a young man? Is the game just for (straight, cis) young men?

And just in case you were about to defend the game as a totally-not-inappropriate demon fighting adventure, the PlayStation 4 version of Akiba’s Trip even lets people watching the game control the panties of the random female characters that inhabit the world. When streaming the game using the PS4’s Twitch and UStream broadcasting features, viewers can type “panty” in chat to cause a random young girl on screen to drop her underwear. “Panty jump” causes ladies underthings to rain down from the sky, and “panty around” surrounds the player in—you guessed it—a ring of panties.

At a time when gaming is struggling to grow up and become a more inclusive hobby, a sexual assault simulator—sorry, “game”—like this is a great example of just how much work there is left to be done.


Now – take your pants off.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)


Jul 9th, 2014 6:01 pm | By

Have a red panda.

Have I ever told you about the evening the male red panda somehow went for walkies and ended up lounging in the smaller (and fortunately empty) outdoor gorilla enclosure? Yes I probably did.

Have a red panda.

Embedded image permalink


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

The Obama administration’s initial, parsimonious exemption

Jul 9th, 2014 5:03 pm | By

This is a depressing story, which I didn’t know about – the role of liberal columnists in stoking the fires of rage about the “religious exemption” from the ACA birth control mandate. Patricia Miller at Religion Dispatches tells that story.

On the left, E.J. Dionne calls for a “broad public consultation with religious groups” on the issue to avoid another firestorm:

After first providing a far-too-narrow exemption from the contraception mandate for explicitly religious nonprofits, President Obama came up with an accommodation that provides birth control coverage through alternative means….

It’s unfortunate that the Obama administration’s initial, parsimonious exemption for religious groups helped ignite the firestorm that led to Hobby Lobby. It might consider this lesson as it moves, rightly, to issue an executive order to ban discrimination against LGBT people by government contractors. I’ve long believed that anti-gay behavior is both illiberal and, if I may, un-Christian.

Far too narrow…parsimonious…So religions should have broad rights to ignore laws that everyone else has to obey, eh?

While on the right, Ross Douthat, who has backed broad religious exemptions, opines that “the contraceptive mandate itself would have never become a major political flashpoint if the administration had included a more expansive religious exemption from the get-go.”

The takeaway is remarkably similar for two men from opposition ends of the political spectrum: that the controversy over the contraceptive mandate could have been avoided if nonprofit religious organizations were exempted from the get-go. But this misses the fundamental problem with the so-called compromise. The problem wasn’t that the exemption that the administration crafted wasn’t broad enough. The problem was that the administration was trying to respond with a policy solution to what was essentially a political statement by the Catholic bishops.

And you know what? The Catholic bishops aren’t supposed to be running the US government. They really aren’t.

The firestorm over the policy resulted because liberal columnists like Dionne and the National Catholic Reporter’s Michael Sean Winters came into the conversation about religious exemptions—a conversation that women’s health and religious liberty advocates had been having for over a decade—in mid-stream. They were apparently unaware of the reproductive health policy issues at stake, the previous precedents that had been set, or the bishops’ long-term efforts to use conscience exemptions to beat back efforts to expand access to contraception. It was their off-the-cuff, emotional responses to the mandate, which they perceived as an attack (Winters accused the administration of “punch[ing] us Catholics in the nose” while Dionne wrote that “Obama threw his progressive Catholic allies under the bus”) that made the original exemption politically untenable, not the formulation of the mandate itself.

That; that’s what I didn’t know. I’ve always thought E J Dionne was a platitudinous jerk, but I didn’t know he was as thick as that.

The fact that the bishops refused to even sign on to the so-called compromise shows that for them the whole point of the exercise was to make a political statement about the moral unacceptability of non-procreative sex (especially for unmarried women), to save face about the fact that most Catholics use contraception, and to gin up “religious liberty” concerns that would backstop their campaign against same-sex marriage.

The lesson of the contraceptive mandate debacle isn’t that Obama should attempt to craft a resolution that will please both sides. It’s that it’s probably not possible to craft an exemption that will please those intent on making a last-ditch political statement that they won’t accept same-sex marriage without giving them carte blanche to ride roughshod over the rights of others.

The bishops have won a huge battle, and hardly anybody realizes it; even most people who are horrified by the Hobby Lobby ruling don’t realize it.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Surely goodness and mercy

Jul 9th, 2014 4:26 pm | By

The pastor of a California church and a couple of other guys pleaded guilty on Monday to charges of beating and threatening the life of a 13-year-old boy.

Some unpleasant details ahead.

Lonny Lee Remmers, 56, Nicholas James Craig, 24, and Darryll Duane Jeter Jr., 30, tortured the boy in the church-run group home where he lived, according to a witness report in affidavits for search warrants.

The March 2012 incidents included Craig and Jeter driving the victim to the desert and forcing him to dig his own grave. They then made him get in and threw dirt on him. They were responding to Remmers’ instruction to “scare” the boy, according to the affidavits.

While the boy was showering, one of the men rubbed salt into the cuts on his back, according to Steven Larkey, who lived in the group home and provided the witness report in the affidavit. He told investigators he could hear the boy screaming and saw blood all over the shower the next day.

The victim was later tied to a chair with zip ties and placed in the shower. Mace was sprayed on his face, causing it to bleed, and he was not allowed to rinse off for about 30 minutes, according to the victim’s account in the affidavit.

At a Bible study later that evening at Remmers’ home, Remmers asked the boy to sit in the middle of the group and then squeezed his nipple with pliers.

It’s always good to see the way religion makes people kind and compassionate.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Balance, baaaaaalance

Jul 9th, 2014 3:48 pm | By

I’ve spent one half of today arguing with people who think I’m too ideologically pure and the other half arguing with people who think I’m not ideologically pure enough.

I can’t decide if that’s hilarious or annoying.



(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Can I sidewalk counsel people on their way to…?

Jul 9th, 2014 11:49 am | By

I got an idea from Katha Pollitt on Twitter – she’s making suggestions for sidewalk counseling. Like:

Can i sidewalk counsel women on their way to Mormon temple? Stay away from that sexist place where 12 year old boys have more power than you.

Let’s play.

Can I sidewalk counsel people on their way to a yoga place? Hey, don’t go in there, you can’t twist yourself into a pretzel like that!

Can I sidewalk counsel people on their way to a rock concert? Stay away from that place, you’ll damage your hearing!

Can I sidewalk counsel people on their way to get a haircut? Don’t waste your money in there, get a friend to cut it for you!

Can I sidewalk counsel people on their way to a basketball game? Go home, those people are way taller than you!

Can i sidewalk counsel people on their way into McDonalds? ARE YOU KIDDING, you don’t want to eat that shit!

Your turn.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Canya fixit?

Jul 9th, 2014 11:39 am | By

CFI urges:

Help Fix What Hobby Lobby Broke: Tell Your U.S. Senators to Protect Women’s Access to Birth Control

Yes do that, even if you think this is just window-dressing by the Democrats.

Trying to repair the damage done by the Court, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) today introduced the “Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act of 2014.” The bill states that employers cannot refuse to cover any health coverage – including contraceptive coverage – promised to employees and their dependents under federal law. It includes the exemption for houses of worship and the accommodation for religious non-profits already put into place by the Obama administration.

We at the Center for Inquiry believe that the Court’s decision in Hobby Lobby requires lawmakers to address the root cause of the problem: that RFRA may now be interpreted to grant for-profit corporations broad religiously based exemptions, such as from anti-discrimination laws. But we also believe that this bill is a necessary short-term fix which willensure millions of women do not lose access to birth control simply because of their bosses’ religious beliefs.

Women must have the ability to make their own reproductive choices without interference from religious members of society who believe their beliefs trump other individuals’ personal freedoms.

We urge you to write or call your U.S. Senators immediately and tell them to support the Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act of 2014.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

No longer tenable

Jul 9th, 2014 11:03 am | By

The Advocate has more on the organizations dropping their support for the current version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

Following the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s announcement this morning that it would no longer support the current version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the American Civil Liberties Union announced this afternoon that it would also drop its support for the bill.

The announcement was also cosigned by Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Transgender Law Center. A joint statement from the groups says that the current version of the bill, allowing religiously affiliated employers the ability to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity, has “long been a source of significant concern to us,” but the Supreme Court’s decision on Burwell v. Hobby Lobby has made it clear that religious exemption provisions are “no longer tenable.”

Because if you open that door a crack, the religious boffins will smash it wide open and then take it off the hinges and batter you to death with it.

The organizations say that after decades of introducing multiple versions of a bill to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, the country is due for a suitable one. They say that if this bill were to be passed and signed into law in its current state, it would still leave many LGBT workers without workplace protections.

“Moreover, it actually might lessen non-discrimination protections now provided for LGBT people by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and very likely would generate confusion rather than clarity in federal law,” they wrote Tuesday. “Finally, such a discrimination provision in federal law likely would invite states and municipalities to follow the unequal federal lead.”

And for that matter it also gives it a kind of imprimatur, a stamp of approval. It tells citizens that discrimination is bad except when goddy people do it, and then it’s ok.

“Federal legislation to protect LGBT people from workplace discrimination is way beyond overdue, but Congress has no place giving religiously affiliated employers a license to discriminate against LGBT workers,” said Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office. ”We can no longer support a bill that treats LGBT discrimination as different and somehow more legitimate than other forms of discrimination.”

And religious discrimination as somehow more legitimate than secular discrimination.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

ACLU Withdraws Support for ENDA

Jul 9th, 2014 10:34 am | By

In a press release today:

WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union today announced that it is withdrawing its support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in a statement also signed by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Transgender Law Center. The ACLU objects to a provision in the bill that would allow religiously affiliated employers to continue to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Federal legislation to protect LGBT people from workplace discrimination is way beyond overdue, but Congress has no place giving religiously affiliated employers a license to discriminate against LGBT workers,” said Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office. “We can no longer support a bill that treats LGBT discrimination as different and somehow more legitimate than other forms of discrimination.”

President Obama has announced his intention to sign an executive order that would ban discrimination against LGBT people employed by federal contractors. The ACLU opposes any inclusion of a discrimination exemption in this executive order.

The full statement announcing the withdrawal of support can be found here:

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Even if they worked for businesses that had religious objections

Jul 8th, 2014 5:51 pm | By

The NY Times reports on this new bill, which (of course) preserves all the exemptions Obama already gave away to the god-botherers.

Democrats in Congress said Tuesday that they had developed legislation to override the Supreme Court decision on contraceptives. The bill would ensure that women had access to insurance coverage for birth control even if they worked for businesses that had religious objections.

The bill, put together in consultation with the Obama administration, would require for-profit corporations like Hobby Lobby Stores to provide and pay for contraceptive coverage, along with other preventive health services, under the Affordable Care Act.

The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, said the legislation was high on his agenda.

“The one thing we’re going to do during this work period, sooner rather than later, is to ensure that women’s lives are not determined by virtue of five white men,” Mr. Reid said Tuesday. “This Hobby Lobby decision is outrageous, and we’re going to do something about it. People are going to have to walk down here and vote, and if they vote with the five men on the Supreme Court, I think they’re going to be treated unfavorably come November with the elections.”

I don’t. I hope he’s right, but I’m not optimistic. We do love our religious fanaticism here.

[Senator] Murray’s bill criticizes the court’s majority opinion and declares that “employers may not discriminate against their female employees” in the coverage of preventive health services.

To this end, it says that an employer “shall not deny coverage of a specific health care item or service” where coverage is required under any provision of federal law. This requirement, it says, shall apply to employers notwithstanding the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

I hate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Hate it hate it hate it. That’s not a very thoughtful commentary, but it’s late in the day and about 100 degrees here at this desk (ok no it’s not, it’s 76, but that’s hot).

Representative Diana DeGette, Democrat of Colorado and a co-author of the House version, said: “Our main concern is making sure that women are not denied contraceptives while we sit around trying to figure out what to do. The bill is an interim solution, to make sure women can get birth control while we look at broader issues, including the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”

Yes! Look at it!! Look at it and then tear it up into a million billion pieces and feed it to the dog!


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Oh dear, did you hurt your hand?

Jul 8th, 2014 4:38 pm | By

The National Women’s Law Center has a great, fierce analysis of the biases of the Evil Five in the Hobby Lobby ruling on its blog. Summary: Y U ignore women, Evil Five?

The majority opinion in Hobby Lobby erases women from the picture altogether. In a decision that is squarely about women’s health and equality, the male justices in the majority refuse to acknowledge the centrality of women. And in evidencing greater concern for protecting corporations from discrimination than in protecting women from discrimination, the majority opinion creates a hierarchy of discrimination where women are at the bottom (if they even merit consideration at all).

To begin with, Justice Alito’s opinion for the majority barely mentions women. As the Washington Post reported, the opinion uses the word “women” or “woman” a mere 13 times in 49 pages. Closer reading of the majority decision makes clear that seven of those mentions were either because the majority was refuting Justice Ginsburg (and her use of “women”); summarizing the government’s position (and its use of “women”) or describing the birth control coverage requirement (a simple recitation of fact).

Well you see it wasn’t about us, it was about the owners of Hobby Lobby, and the owners of corporations in general (let’s face it, most of them aren’t women), and the bosses of religions (also nearly all men), and the boss of the whole thing (definitely male). Women are peripheral to almost everything. They’re tiny little creatures way off in the corner somewhere, who don’t count.

That leaves precisely six instances in which the majority — on its own — mentioned the word “women.” There are two possible explanations. Both are troubling.

One is that the majority purposely, as a legal and literary strategy, left out “women” — the better to hide the actual women whose rights are at stake behind asserted concerns about religious freedom. Alternately, it was unintentional, but nevertheless the result of an unacknowledged but deep-seated and culturally-reinforced worldview that just does not take women into account.

It could also have been a combination of both, I think. The strategy of leaving them out would have seemed more obviously absurd if it weren’t already so normal to leave women out of everything as it is (and then look around brightly and observe that it’s all more of a guy thing).

I’m very tired of the deep-seated and culturally-reinforced worldview that just does not take women into account.

The justices in the majority are very concerned about discrimination, but only when it appears to harm for-profit corporations. The majority opinion paints a picture of for-profit corporations that are trying to operate according to religious beliefs, but are threatened by discrimination at every turn. Focusing on the need to protect these corporations allows the majority to ignore the other harm that is at issue in the case: discrimination against women.

If birth control does not really promote public health, then it doesn’t matter if taking the benefit from these female employees means more unintended pregnancies. If requiring insurance plans to cover birth control isn’t acknowledged to close gender gaps in health care, then it doesn’t matter if only female employees lose a health insurance benefit that they earned with their work. If gender equality is not a real result of birth control access, then there is no need to consider whether women are forced to give up educational or career opportunities. If birth control is not directly linked to a woman’s health and the course of her life, then sex discrimination deserves no attention by the majority. And so it gets none.

The bottom line for the majority is that when discrimination against women is tied to their reproductive health, it is different from other forms of discrimination and consequently less important. In this case, it is certainly less important to the majority than protecting for-profit corporations — which the majority decided, for the first time, can exercise religion — from asserted religious discrimination. That justifies the decision’s final conclusion: it is not just acceptable but legally required that the religious beliefs of bosses are allowed to trump a woman’s health and access to the health care she needs.

It’s a bit like rushing to comfort the guy who bruised his knuckles punching a woman in the face, while ignoring the woman on the ground with blood pouring out of her nose.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

S.1696, The Women’s Health Protection Act

Jul 8th, 2014 3:25 pm | By

All right! Let’s do this thing.

There’s a hearing in Washington next week:

S.1696, The Women’s Health Protection Act: Removing Barriers to Constitutionally Protected Reproductive Rights

Full CommitteeDate: Tuesday, July 15, 2014 Add to my Calendar  

Time: 10:00 AM

Location: Dirksen 226 

Presiding: Senator Blumenthal

We need this.

There’s a petition. Sign and share. Tell your Representative and Senators (if you’re in the US).

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Gandhi! That’s Gandhi!

Jul 8th, 2014 2:44 pm | By

Yet more reason to loathe Penn Jillette.

Penn Jillette says that people are “burying the lede” in the alleged incident that led to SiriusXM’s decision to fire “Opie and Anthony” host Anthony Cumia. He also argued that he’s never seen any evidence that suggests Cumia is racist as many of his critics have alleged.

“We are burying the lede of this story, which is that Anthony, who has a reputation for being a bit of a hot head, is carrying, comes up gets hit in the face and does not hurt the person back,” Jillette said during his “Penn’s Sunday School” podcast this weekend.

“That is incredible. If I am in the position where I cross somebody who is carrying a gun and who can defend themselves and hurt me, and their choice is to write angry stuff on Twitter instead of fighting me back — wonderful. Gandhi! That’s Gandhi! … That is Martin Luther King,” he continued.

It is? Just refraining from killing people when you’re pissed off is Gandhi and Martin Luther King? I don’t think so; I think it takes more than that. 

Cumia was fired last week over racially-charged tweets he wrote after an incident where a black woman allegedly punched him several times after she ended up in a photo snapped by the radio host. He claims he was carrying a firearm at the time of the alleged assault but exercised restraint. So far, we only have one side of the story — Cumia’s.

In a “livid” state after the incident, Cumia took to Twitter and called the woman a “cunt” and a “savage.” He also alleged there is a serious violence problem within the black community. He later deleted the controversial tweets and explained on Monday that they “were being picked apart & used, out of ANY context, to fuck me over.”

But he’s Gandhi Luther King, because he didn’t shoot anyone that we know of.

PZ gives some samples of Cumia’s Gandhi Luther Kingness:

Savage violent animal fucks prey on white people. Easy targets. This CUNT has no clue how lucky she was. She belted me 10 times. I had a gun

No,an ANIMAL BITCH used it’s instinctual violence on me. I restrained myself from putting it to sleep

It’s a jungle out in our cities after midnight. Violent savages own the streets. They all came 2 defend this pig. I had to yell like at dogs

Yup that’s Penn Jillette’s Gandhi Luther King guy. Free market booya.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)