Notes and Comment Blog

Is she ready? Is she ready? Is she ready?

May 7th, 2016 11:01 am | By

Mr Let Them Marry, Vaughn Olman, has scrubbed his website since Vyckie blew the whistle on him. Now it has Answers to Your Questions instead.


In the past our views have been greatly misrepresented, here we attempt to clarify any misunderstanding and put to rest accusations which have been made against us.

Do you support child marriage? No. Marriage is for men and women not boys and girls.

Well that’s a relief.

Oh wait.

At what age do children become men or women? It varies. Every child matures physically at different rates. Mental, emotional and spiritual maturity vary even more.

Oh. So then you do support child marriage, you just claim you don’t, while reserving the right to decide what a child is.

Isn’t it funny that that’s exactly what Hamza Tzortzis (just for one) says? I bet Mr Letthemmarry would be shocked to be told that. Here’s Hamza saying it:

In England it’s sixteen. In Spain it’s twelve. In Greece it’s thirteen. In some places in America it’s twenty-one. This is the fallacy of secular law. It’s very arbitrary. This is our law: it’s nothing to do with age. Now listen to the principles. Number 1. Is she physically fit? Number 2. Is she emotionally ready? Number 3. Is she mentally ready? Number 4. Is this socially acceptable? Number 5. All these different kinds of principles that we apply. And it happened, that there was an outlier from the statistics that a nine-year-old was physically fit, was mentally ready . . . was . . . given by her own father and the tribe, so we have principles which makes our law far more typist, rather than putting a number, saying, you can do it when you’re sixteen. There are some sixteen-year-olds in this country that can’t even tie their shoelace. The point is: if that’s all you’ve got, a sexed-up view of sharia law, a Fox News narrative, if you study the situation properly it’s based on principles that you apply to different scenarios, and yes, if you apply them properly, the eight-year-old will not get married, because look you’ve damaged her, because the problem I have, is that there is no harming, so there should be no harm. So the point is this is really about sharia law on the basis of [inaudible] things and BBC News and Fox News and god knows what we have.

Back to the Christian version:

What age is too young for a young man or woman to get married? We recommend that a young man or woman wait until the legal age to get married. Even if it was legal we do not believe that children (i.e. not grown men and women) should marry. We choose not to specify a particular age because it varies from person to person.

Yeah. Like Lolita. Remember Lolita? Humbert Humbert told us all about how mature she turned out to be.

That Something she’d seen

May 7th, 2016 10:06 am | By

I’ve always hated “See something, say something.” It’s obvious why that’s such ridiculous (and dangerous) advice. “What do you mean ‘something’?!” Anything could be “something,” and given the fact that lots of people are assholes, if that’s the standard, there will be way too much saying something.

And so it came about yesterday on a flight from Philadelphia to Syracuse.

On Thursday evening, a 40-year-old man — with dark, curly hair, olive skin and an exotic foreign accent — boarded a plane. It was a regional jet making a short, uneventful hop from Philadelphia to nearby Syracuse.

Or so dozens of unsuspecting passengers thought.

The curly-haired man tried to keep to himself, intently if inscrutably scribbling on a notepad he’d brought aboard.

His seatmate thought something was a little off about him. She decided to check him out by asking an impertinent question about whether he lived in Syracuse. He said no and kept on scribbling.

He similarly deflected further questions. He appeared laser-focused — perhaps too laser-focused — on the task at hand, those strange scribblings.

Rebuffed, the woman began reading her book. Or pretending to read, anyway. Shortly after boarding had finished, she flagged down a flight attendant and handed that crew-member a note of her own.

Then there was a long wait. Then an attendant asked the woman if she felt ok and the woman said yes.

She must not have sounded convincing, though; American Airlines flight 3950 remained grounded.

Then, for unknown reasons, the plane turned around and headed back to the gate. The woman was soon escorted off the plane. On the intercom a crew member announced that there was paperwork to fill out, or fuel to refill, or some other flimsy excuse; the curly-haired passenger could not later recall exactly what it was.

Then he too was escorted off the plane and taken to have a chat with someone, whose role was never clear to him.

What do know about your seatmate? The agent asked the foreign-sounding man.

Well, she acted a bit funny, he replied, but she didn’t seem visibly ill. Maybe, he thought, they wanted his help in piecing together what was wrong with her.

And then the big reveal: The woman wasn’t really sick at all! Instead this quick-thinking traveler had Seen Something, and so she had Said Something.

That Something she’d seen had been her seatmate’s cryptic notes, scrawled in a script she didn’t recognize. Maybe it was code, or some foreign lettering, possibly the details of a plot to destroy the dozens of innocent lives aboard American Airlines Flight 3950. She may have felt it her duty to alert the authorities just to be safe. The curly-haired man was, the agent informed him politely, suspected of terrorism.

Jeez. I’m lucky I’ve never been escorted off a plane – I sometimes scribble stuff in illegible handwriting when on a plane.

The curly-haired man’s scribbles were math.

Had the crew or security members perhaps quickly googled this good-natured, bespectacled passenger before waylaying everyone for several hours, they might have learned that he — Guido Menzio — is a young but decorated Ivy League economist. And that he’s best known for his relatively technical work on search theory, which helped earn him a tenured associate professorship at the University of Pennsylvania as well as stints at Princeton and Stanford’s Hoover Institution.

Guido Menzio, an economics professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

They might even have discovered that last year he was awarded the prestigious Carlo Alberto Medal, given to the best Italian economist under 40. That’s right: He’s Italian, not Middle Eastern, or whatever heritage usually gets ethnically profiled on flights these days.

He was on his way to give a talk at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. The flight left more than two hours late.

Menzio for his part says he was “treated respectfully throughout,” though he remains baffled and frustrated by a “broken system that does not collect information efficiently.” He is troubled by the ignorance of his fellow passenger, as well as “A security protocol that is too rigid–in the sense that once the whistle is blown everything stops without checks–and relies on the input of people who may be completely clueless. ”

Rising xenophobia stoked by the presidential campaign, he suggested, may soon make things worse for people who happen to look a little other-ish.

In the United States, where most of the population looks a little other-ish,and that’s how we like it thanks very much.

“Ladies who lunch”

May 6th, 2016 5:44 pm | By

So this is what “White Feminism” is – a guaranteed win in the Oppression Olympics. It’s a piece from last summer by Paris Lees, politely titled Ban Sex Work? Fuck Off, White Feminism.

The title seemed stupid to me, as well as abusive, since Paris Lees is white. But she explains that.

I feel duty bound to break my self-imposed silence – I’m on holiday, fuckers – to speak out on a subject that, like so many important issues in the media, has been discussed almost exclusively by a privileged few who are neither affected by nor particularly informed about their current excuse to grandstand.

That’s a remarkably disgusting thing to say. What are the implications? That people should never seek to reform or end an exploitative institution if they’re not directly “affected” by it? That people should be even more ruthlessly selfish and coldly indifferent than we already are? And how does Paris Lees know that opposition to prostitution is nothing more than an excuse to grandstand?

The loudest voices I have seen in the latest sex work debate bring zero first-hand experience to the table. Yeah, I see you, White Feminists.

I am both white and a feminist. But I am not what you would call a White Feminist, capital letters, for I am also trans.

Oh. Oh is that how it works. She’s white, but she’s not White, because she’s trans. So being trans is her ticket to the right to be verbally abusive to feminist women she dislikes, because being trans makes her not White even though she is white.

What an ugly mind.

White Feminism is a special club but membership doesn’t rest solely on race. White Feminism is about privilege. Ladies who lunch and feel hard done by because a man held the door open for them on their way in to the Four Seasons. White Feminism is many things but it is not inclusive, or, in fancy feminist lingo, “intersectional”. The voices of the “wrong sort” of women – black women, trans women, sex workers and so on – get drowned out, just as “bad” women have been silenced and shamed by privileged women, men and society in general since time immemorial. White Feminists have the biggest media platforms and are able to do this. They can launch patronising campaigns to save “fallen women” who cannot possibly be expected to make choices for themselves or, if they do, to understand the implications of those choices like the clever, educated ladies of White Feminism do. White Feminism always knows best. It is paternal and judgmental and, in many cases, indistinguishable from the partriarchal dictatorship it ostensibly seeks to dismantle. I am just saying.

That is an ugly, ugly mind – and a misogynist mind. Talk about excuses to grandstand – this is clearly her excuse to pour venom on feminist women as “ladies who lunch” – the old “princess” taunt dressed up to look vaguely progressive.

An ugly, ugly mind.

Donga Gali

May 6th, 2016 5:16 pm | By

Via Raquel Evita Saraswati, a new horror in Pakistan

Pakistani police on Thursday arrested 15 members of a tribal council accused of ordering the burning alive of a young girl for helping a couple to elope in a so-called “honor killing”, police said.

Those are the men who had a 16-year-old girl set on fire.

They just look like ordinary men. No doubt they are. Ordinary people can be horrible; it doesn’t take extraordinary talents or qualities.

The 16-year-old girl was set on fire last week in the town of Donga Gali, about 50 km (30 miles) northeast of the capital, Islamabad, on the orders of the council, said district police chief Saeed Wazir.

Police said the honor killing was ordered as punishment for what the council deemed irreparable damage to the village’s reputation. The couple appeared to have escaped.

Well the village’s reputation is certainly burnished now. Donga Gali can join Lidice and Oradour and Srebrenica and My Lai and Dos Erres and Chibok.

The girl’s mother told police her daughter had helped a couple from the nearby village of Makol elope, in defiance of cultural norms.

“The jirga then took her to an abandoned place outside the village and made her unconscious by injecting her with some drugs,” said Wazir.

“Then they seated the girl in a van in which the couple had escaped. They tied her hands to the seats and then poured petrol on her and the vehicle.”

The vehicle was set ablaze.

For the sake of the village’s “reputation.”

Daddy, daddy, you bastard

May 6th, 2016 4:23 pm | By

Amanda Marcotte reports that Mr Forced Marriage Retreat Guy has been trying to backpedal now that he’s getting all this unwelcome attention from The Internet.

Now Ohlman and his Quiverfull crew are feeling the heat. “Note: Contrary to vicious internet rumors we do not support or in any way condone child sexual activity of any sort, child marriage, or any other illegal activity,” his website reads at the top. “Nor do we support or condone forced marriages. We believe that parents should NOT seek a spouse for a child where that child has not actively sought for the parents to do so.”

There is reason to be skeptical of these disclaimers, however. The claim that the child is supposed “actively” seek marriage first, for instance, doesn’t comport with the rest of Ohlman’s website.

For instance, in his FAQ, Ohlman says that “when they are of an age where marriage is appropriate for them,” a child’s father “should agree with another father as to their betrothal”. Only after the fathers agree to the marriage, the father “should again go to his own child to assure himself of their integrity of purpose before announcing their new betrothed spouse to them.”

Daddy and Daddy get together and agree on the marriage and then tell it to the two children. Since the children have been raised to treat Daddy as a mini-God, that amounts to forced marriage. Saying No to Daddy is not an easy thing, given that raising.

The language is deliberately flowery, but the meaning is clear enough: Fathers decide unilaterally for children when they marry and to who. Ideally, while the children are still minors and have very little power to resist, to boot.

Just so, and especially given that they have been trained not to resist. They’ve never been to real school to learn from their peers that resistance is an option.

Also, Kansas has no age of consent for marriage provided the parents give permission. Daddy would give permission, so hey, why not marry off a girl of 12 if she has tits?

The cancellation of this event is a victory, but sadly, it’s a small one. The sad truth is there are  not enough safeguards in place to keep abusive religious fundamentalists like Ohlman and his followers from treating children like this. Yes, forced marriage is illegal, but we’re talking about minor adolescents here. The fact that they formally “consent” means very little, when they know that saying no is not an option.

These are kids who are usually homeschooled and kept separate from the rest of the world. They don’t have a lot of options if they reject their parents’ teachings: Few places to go, no real way to make a living. This event should be a wake-up call about how serious this situation is, and there needs to be more direct interference to keep these folks from pushing underage teenagers into arranged marriages.

Exactly. They’ve been raised to have no other options, so how are they going to say no to a marriage Daddy offers?

90,000 people

May 6th, 2016 3:59 pm | By

The people who were trapped north of Fort McMurray are getting out in convoys, the Times reports.

Convoys of cars and trucks made their way gingerly through the wildfire-ravaged community of Fort McMurray, Alberta, on Friday, headed south to safety past the charred ruins of neighborhoods and businesses, after being stranded for days north of town on the area’s main highway.

Bracketed by Royal Canadian Mounted Police cruisers and preceded by a military helicopter watching for flare-ups near their route, the first convoy got rolling shortly after dawn and others followed at intervals.

They’re hoping to get 15,000 vehicles out in the next few days.

When Fort McMurray was swiftly overtaken by a wildfire on Tuesday and the city was ordered evacuated, most of its 90,000 residents escaped south on Highway 63, and the road rapidly became choked with traffic and was blocked at times by the fire. About 25,000 people headed north instead, to take refuge in the large work camps used to house transient workers at oil sands projects. Some camps that had been mothballed after the recent slump in oil prices were reopened as shelters.

The camps, too, were cut off when the flames closed the highway, and they soon ran low on food and supplies. Officials tried to resupply the camps using a military transport plane, but on Thursday evening, Ms. Notley said that effort was no longer sustainable.

It’s reminiscent of the horror of Katrina, when thousands of people were stranded in New Orleans for days, dying because there was no water.

Overnight on Thursday, tankers with gasoline and diesel fuel were escorted north to Fort McMurray to top off the tanks of the isolated evacuees, many of whom had run out of fuel.

That would be one hell of a scary drive – gasoline and diesel fuel in the midst of out of control fires.

The police released the convoys to travel on their own once they were a safe distance south of Fort McMurray. Ms. Notley urged the evacuees to continue on to Edmonton, the provincial capital and nearest large city, or to Calgary farther south.

“What we’re trying to do is encourage them to go to the two major centers, because that’s where we have the greatest number of services, both in terms of health, income support, mental health support, as well as the capacity to absorb the students into the school system,” she said.

New shelters were expected to open in both cities on Friday.

A city of 90,000 people, many of whom have lost everything they owned.

17 times the size of Manhattan

May 6th, 2016 11:58 am | By

Eric Holthaus at Slate points out that the Fort McMurray fire is just the time to talk about climate change. It’s not as if it’s peripheral, after all.

Friday marks the fourth day of an intense firestorm in Canada’s boreal forest that has engulfed large parts of Fort McMurray, Alberta—a frontier town that serves as the base for the province’s oil sands region. Already, the fires rank as Canada’s costliest natural disaster on record, and the town’s entire population of more than 80,000 people has been evacuated. The area burned, about 250,000 acres, is now 17 times the size of the island of Manhattan. And conditions could still get worse. “The beast is still up. It’s surrounding the city,” said fire chief Darby Allen in a video update Thursday night.

That no one has yet died in the fire is a miracle, if you believe in such things. Photos of the fire from space on Wednesday resembled an explosion.

Photo published for Viewed from space, the Fort McMurray wildfire looks like an explosion

On Wednesday afternoon, the fire began to create its own weather conditions, with lightning from pyrocumulus clouds likely further fueling the fire’s growth. On Wednesday evening, one of the main evacuation centers itself had to be evacuated, as the fire spread out of control. On Thursday, the fire grew in size more than eightfold, after more than quadrupling in size the previous day.

And, not surprisingly, it isn’t just a random uncaused miraculous event.

I want to be clear: Talking about climate change during an ongoing disaster like Fort McMurray is absolutely necessary. There is a sensitive way to do it, one that acknowledges what the victims are going through and does not blame them for these difficulties. But adding scientific context helps inform our response and helps us figure out how something so horrific could have happened.

Because climate change isn’t “by the end of the 21st century” any more. It’s here. We’re in it.

Though uncertainty still reigns among those working to put out the fire in Fort McMurray, there are certain facts that we do know: Experts have warned for years that Alberta’s forests are being primed for “catastrophic fires.” We know that. In the boreal forest, once the winter snowpack melts, the exposed dry brush serves as perfect kindling—which is why this time of year marks the start of fire season. We know that. Record warm temperatures, a vanishingly small snowpack, and drought conditions—all of which are symptoms of climate change in boreal Canada—very probably made this fire worse. “This [fire] is consistent with what we expect from human-caused climate change affecting our fire regime,” said Mike Flannigan from the University of Alberta.

We need to talk.

It is a criminal offence when bloggers hurt religious sentiments

May 6th, 2016 8:48 am | By

The government of Bangladesh has drilled down to a new level of horribleness. The Daily Star headline sums it up:

Govt displeased with anti-religion bloggers, their killers: Minister

The government is more angry at the bloggers than at the people who chopped them to death.

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal today said that the government is not pleased with “bloggers who demean religion” and the people who are killing them.

“Bloggers should [refrain] from hurting religious sentiments,” the minister said. It is a criminal offence when bloggers hurt religious sentiments of the public, he added.

If it is a criminal offence, it shouldn’t be.

If it is a criminal offence, it’s a very minor and non-violent one. I would argue that it’s a victimless crime, because the murderers’ sense of grievance is illegitimate. People shouldn’t be working up their grievances into red-hot justifications for blood-drenched murder.

But in any case it shouldn’t be a criminal offence at all. On the contrary: it should be treated as a public benefit. Religion has a death-grip on the minds of too many people, and those who loosen it are doing a service. It’s disgusting of the Home Minister to claim that the bloggers are doing a bad thing.

He was briefing reporters at his office after a meeting with Nisha Desai Biswal, US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs.

The murder of LGBT magazine editor Xulhaz Mannan, press freedom in Bangladesh, terrorism and US-Bangladesh partnership came up in the discussion.

The United States is said to have agreed to cooperate in helping setting up a counter terrorism unit and assist in training of law enforcers to combat terrorism in Bangladesh.

And that’s all there is about that. Apparently it was important to scold the bloggers, who did nothing wrong, while passing over the murderers who murdered them in silence.

What a dreadful government Bangladesh has.

H/t Stewart

Random man has life advice

May 6th, 2016 8:28 am | By

They will be providing a bag breakfast

May 5th, 2016 6:13 pm | By

The nice man at Let Them Marry has a nice page for us where we can see the plans for their forced marriage “retreat” in Wichita – now put on hold because of the Salvation Army’s refusal to let them rent its facilities. It’s a mildly amusing read.

Mostly it’s about the money. Actually it’s almost all about the money. The pricing is complicated enough that there are examples, so that we can understand:

The Smith family want to come to the conference with their five children. Their oldest child, George Smith, is seeking a wife. The Smiths want a bit of comfort so they sign up for our ‘Cottage Family’ package. They heard about our conference a bit late, so they don’t get our special ‘early bird’ discount. The Smiths would pay:

$125 Cottage Family Package registration fee
$150 per person for Mr. and Mrs. Smith and the four little Smiths (six people)
$130 for George

Mr. and Mrs. Smith would get a double bed in a cottage, three younger Smiths would be in twin beds in the same cottage, and George and one of the younger Smiths would be staying in the ‘men’s bunkhouse’.

Their total fee would be:
$125 + $900 + $130 = $1155

Poor Smiths, missing out on the discount – but never mind, they get eight meals for that price.

Then there are what is expected of the forced-marriage families. It’s a long list:

We ask that everyone who attends the conference (parents and marriageable-age children) agree to the basic statements of faith and purpose:

  1. Statement of Faith: Basic agreement to a major statement of faith such as London Baptist Confession or Westminster Confession of Faith (Note: those are intended as examples, not to be an exhaustive list. We are not attempting to limit our conference to Calvinists. But we do feel we owe the participants some kind of assurance that they are coming to meet with other Christians. Feel free to contact us with questions.)
  2. Intentionality: While we hope to provide information and encouragement to the families that come to this retreat, we ask that a family agreeing to come state that they are actively, deliberately, seeking a marriage for one of more of their children.
  3. Confidentiality: We ask that all participants respect the privacy of the other participants and keep all discussions and revelations private. Things might be said in the context of discussing a potential marriage that would not be at all appropriate for general revelation.
  4. Definition of Marriage: We ask that all of the participants agree to the following minimum definition of marriage: a lifelong sexual relationship that is always open to the blessing of children.
  5. Trust: In order to preserve the integrity and purity of our children’s hearts and affections wholly for their spouses, we expect the interactions of the young people while at this retreat to be purely on the spiritual sibling side (I Timothy 5:1-2). We ask that any ‘courting’-type behavior be withheld until after this conference. For the purposes of this conference we ask that a young man who is interested in a young woman approach her father (mother, brother, etc.) before approaching her. In the case where he is interested in a young woman who is not accompanied, we ask that the young man speak privately to one of the retreat staff members. This is not because we are insisting on any one given way for marriages to happen, but because many families may have serious objections to the young women being approached directly. We will be able to sound out a given young woman and determine what will be appropriate.

So wholesome, so reassuring, so not at all creepy.

Then there is the schedule, which promises a wealth of fun and excitement:

Thursday 4 pm: Check-in
Thursday 6 pm: Dinner
Friday – To Be Announced
Saturday – To Be Announced
Sunday: Breakfast (in an effort to give families the flexibility to attend church on their own, we will be providing a bag breakfast)

That’s it, the whole of the schedule. The money is figured out down to the last dime, but the way the time will be filled…not so much. Good thing the schedule is only tentative.

A lack of consent is a choice of disobedience

May 5th, 2016 5:04 pm | By

Vyckie Garrison reports on another Quiverfull plan: get a bunch of grownups together for the purpose of arranging marriages among each other’s children. Don’t bother about what the children want.

A group of ultra-conservative Christian men are planning to meet up in Kansas later this year to arrange marriages for their pubescent daughters … and they don’t believe their daughters’ consent is actually necessary.

Quiverfull patriarch, Vaughn Ohlman, who runs a website promoting early, “fruitful” marriage for Truly True Christian™ children, has announced plans for a “Get Them Married!” retreat where fundamentalist fathers will find, and TAKE, suitably submissive young brides to bear many babies for their adolescent sons.

And this will be good, because all those babies will overwhelm the few babies infidels have, and soon God’s kingdom will be established.

For around $1200 per family, Quiverfull parents will spend three days “networking” with similarly-delusional zealots who believe men are to be in charge, wives are to be submissive baby-makers, and children are to be sheltered, isolated, indoctrinated, and pushed toward early, prolific marriages for Jesus.

Jesus was all about the marriages. That’s all Mark, Matthew, Luke and John ever talk about: marriage marriage marriage. Jesus is so happy that Americans are doing all this marrying and baby-having. Jesus likes to watch.

How early? As soon as they can fuck, of course.

In case you’re inclined to doubt these freaks actually mean to marry off their girls the minute their bodies have developed enough to have children, Ohlman elaborates, so make no mistake about it:

John Calvin defines the “flower of her age” (1 Corinthians 7:36) as “from twelve to twenty years of age”. Likewise, John Gill defines it as “one of twelve years and a half old”. And Martin Luther says, “A young man should marry at the age of twenty at the latest, a young woman at fifteen to eighteen…” We do not endorse marriage at ages as young as twelve. Our position is that, for a woman:

  1. The ‘youth’ ready for marriage has breasts. A woman who is to be married is one who has breasts; breasts which signal her readiness for marriage, and breasts who promise enjoyment for her husband. (We believe that ‘breasts’ here stand as a symbol for all forms of full secondary sexual characteristics.)
  2. The ‘youth’ ready for marriage is ready to bear children. Unlike modern society Scripture sees the woman as a bearer, nurser, and raiser of children. The ‘young woman’ is the woman whose body is physically ready for these things, physically mature enough to handle them without damage.
  3. The ‘youth’ ready for marriage is one who is ready for sexual intercourse sexually and emotionally. Her desire is for her husband, and she is ready to rejoice in him physically.

Or not, but she does what she’s told, so it comes to the same thing. More Ohlman:

Scripture speaks of the father of the son “taking a wife” for his son, and the father of the bride “giving” her to her husband…. It gives example after example of young women being given to young men, without the young woman even being consulted, and often, in some of the most Godly marriages in Scripture, the young man is not consulted….

Some use the idea of “consent” to deny the very relevance of the action of their authorities to bind them in covenant, as if a covenant was of no effect whatsoever and all that matters is what the person themselves decide. Others consider a covenant to be something substantial but that it is not really binding until the person themselves “consents”.

In contrast, our study of Scripture has shown that the Word of God considers a covenant made by an authority to be meaningful and binding upon the those under his or her authority. Biblical consent is not the “consent” of dating or courtship. It is not a “veto” power. It does not presume to cast judgment over their father’s actions. And so, a lack of consent of the individual concerned is a choice of disobedience, a breach of a vow and of a relationship. God has designed the marriage relationship (in particular that of the virgin daughter marrying the virgin son) to be a relationship initiated by the parents, in particular the fathers, of the young couple.

So if she hates the very idea, and doesn’t like the boy she is supposed to “marry,” and says so? That’s disobedience, of “God” as well as Daddy. Disobedience is not allowed. She will “marry” the boy anyway, and no talking back.

Vyckie has a followup story today: the Sally Army has refused access to the group.

A Christian retreat for Quiverfull fathers to marry off their teen daughters has been cancelled after Raw Story readers expressed concerns that the event constitutes human trafficking and contacted the Salvation Army which owns the campground where that retreat was scheduled to be held in Wichita.

Even the Salvation Army can’t stomach these rape-promoters.

The Raw Story article sparked outrage among readers and many were moved to action, demanding that authorities be notified in order to protect the children who were slated to be married off young for the purpose of procreating lots of babies for Jesus.

Readers discovered that Camp Hiawatha, where the retreat was planned to be held, is owned by the Salvation Army. I contacted a good friend who is a officer at the Salvation Army’s training school in Chicago, and she responded right away to let me know the Wichita corps has already denied access to Ohlman’s group for what would have amounted to a child trafficking “retreat.”

Well done, Vyckie.

Update: The Salvation Army of Wichita/Sedgwick County released a statement on the group’s decision, as seen below.

The Salvation Army has denied a request by the Let Them Marry organization to conduct its event at Camp Hiawatha.

Our decision is based upon our long-standing concern for the welfare of children. At The Salvation Army, we work every single day to provide a safe, caring place for children, many of whom have been left vulnerable due to the actions of adults.

We remain steadfastly focused on our mission of advocating for and protecting children.

Good job.

Being good stewards of the taxpayers’ dollar

May 5th, 2016 12:53 pm | By

The Governor of Wisconsin is really terrible. The worst. He likes to inflict harm on people who lack money.

Governor Scott Walker on Wednesday, May 4th approved a rule requiring certain Wisconsinites receiving unemployment insurance benefits to pass a drug test.

“This new rule brings us one step closer to moving Wisconsinites from government dependence to true independence,” Governor Walker said in a statement issued to FOX6 News.

Insurance is not dependence. Unemployment insurance is funded by workers and employers, and it’s insurance, so there shouldn’t be pointless bullying hurdles to getting it. Scott Walker is a bad man.

According to Governor Walker’s office, by being good stewards of the taxpayers’ dollar and fighting fraud and abuse, Wisconsin transformed its unemployment insurance trust fund from a $1.3 billion deficit in 2010 to a $743 million positive balance, and employers now pay less unemployment insurance tax as a result of these efforts.

Unemployed people were made poorer, but I suppose they deserve it, because they’re unemployed.

Via Miriam Ben-Shalom

The Lord said get in the truck and leave

May 5th, 2016 12:08 pm | By

A pretty incident by the side of the road in South Carolina.

A tow truck driver refused to a help a customer stranded on Interstate 26 in Asheville on Monday.

“Something came over me, I think the Lord came to me, and he just said get in the truck and leave,” said Ken Shupe of Shupee Max Towing in Traveler’s Rest, S.C.. “And when I got in my truck, you know, I was so proud, because I felt like I finally drew a line in the sand and stood up for what I believed.”

Huh. It takes some hard thinking to come up with a reason for leaving someone stranded on a freeway that could make a person proud. It was Bernie Madoff?

The customer was in an accident, and Shupe arrived in about an hour to tow her home.

He arrived after about an hour and began the process of towing the vehicle.

“He goes around back and comes back and says ‘I can’t tow you.’ My first instinct was there must be something wrong with the car,” McWade told News 13 on Wednesday. “And he says, ‘No, you’re a Bernie supporter.’ And I was like wait, really? And he says, ‘Yes ma’am,’ and just walks away.”


No, I don’t think that’s something to be proud of. I wouldn’t think that if she were a Trump supporter, either. Bad behavior is bad behavior.

Shupe claims he did it because he has had two customers who were Sanders supporters who argued with him over his bill.

McWade, 25, has psoriatic arthritis, fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and early-stage Crohns, which she said made sitting on the side of the road without a restroom nearby”terrifying”. She is legally disabled and says the handicapped placard was hanging on her mirror when Shupe arrived.

She also says the family mechanic informed Shupe that she was disabled.

After waiting more than an hour and a half, McWade was towed by another company.

Shupe says he did not know that McWade was disabled.

“Had she been disabled, would I have towed her car? No ma’am. I would have pulled forward and sat there with her to make sure she was OK until another wrecker service showed up to get her home safely, but I still would not have towed her car,” said Shupe. “I stand by my decision, and I would do it again today if the opportunity presented itself.”

That’s a nasty guy.

Guest post: If it made some effort to actually tie it back to women

May 5th, 2016 11:48 am | By

Originally a comment by Freemage on This toxic cloud is called.

The odd thing is, to me, that this would be easier to take seriously if it didn’t try to be quite so dramatic about the situation, and it might fit in a site called Everyday Feminism if it made some effort to actually tie it back to women specifically.

The constant push for fictional characters to end up in monogamous relationships with their ‘one true love’ is annoying to folks who have no desire for such a relationship; this annoyance rises to the level of a micro-aggression when it’s accompanied by ‘proof’ in the narrative that anyone who claims to be happy alone (say, because their career is too important to them, or because they genuinely have no such attractions) is somehow completely deluded and just needs to meet the right Special Someone in order to learn true happiness.

It’s also trivially easy to prove that this microaggression (like a great many in the media) is directed principally at women; male leads can be focused on their jobs, with either a string of casual hook-ups or simply no romance at all, and it usually doesn’t so much as get pointed out that that’s what they are doing. From there, it’s certainly simple to point out how this plays into a greater narrative that teaches that men are ‘complete’ human beings in their own right, while women can only be made whole by the addition of a romantic relationship. Thus, one could make the case that killing this trope would, by and large, benefit women and advance feminism in one small way. It could thus fit quite well into, say, a course on sexism in media.

But this article doesn’t want to do any of that work; it just wants to point out the annoyance, and leave it as if that alone makes it the cause of a great crusade.

Jump a little higher

May 5th, 2016 11:20 am | By

This is where the public ownership of women’s reproductive capacities gets you: a girl of 12 in Queensland had to jump through hoops for weeks to get the abortion she wanted all along. If she hadn’t jumped correctly apparently they would have said no – and a girl of 12 would have been forced to push out a baby she didn’t want to push out.

A 12-year-old Australian girl with a history of suicide attempts was forced to seek a judge’s approval to end an unwanted pregnancy under strict abortion laws.

The girl gained a Queensland supreme court order allowing her to have an abortion after a month dealing with a string of medical, mental health and child safety professionals, who all found her decision as being in her best interests.

Which implies that they could have found the opposite: that being forced to push out a baby against her will would be in her best interests. How could that ever be in her best interests? So that she learns early and thoroughly that she has no rights, because she’s a female? Is it in girls’ best interests to get that over with quickly, so that they won’t bruise themselves in the struggle?

A psychiatrist and her parents held concerns that Q was at real risk of further self-harm or suicidal behaviour if forced to carry a child to birth. McMeekin was satisfied Q had independently arrived at her decision to end her pregnancy, a conviction she held for more than a month while having consultations with a general practitioner, a social worker, two obstetricians and a psychiatrist.

“She has no wish to be a mother,” McMeekin said. “Unsurprisingly, she feels that she is not fitted for that task.”

However, McMeekin said her consent alone did not make the abortion lawful under Queensland’s criminal code, which required it to be “authorised or justified by law”.

Why should suicide and self-harm be the standard? Why shouldn’t just not wanting to be reason enough?

McMeekin said an obstetrician advising Q said the “risks of continuing the pregnancy (some of which were potentially life threatening) ‘far outweigh’ the risks involved in terminating”.

“He also commented that there were psycho-social implications of having a child at the age of 12, with a ‘lifelong burden, which is likely to affect mental health’,” the judge said.

The child safety department, which had earlier involvement with the family, also supported the abortion.

That applies to all women and girls, of course. Pregnancy is more risky than early abortion, and having a child definitely adds to the work load. It’s just more so for a child of 12.

Larissa Waters, a federal Greens senator, said the striking out of Queensland’s “archaic, harmful laws that treat abortion as a crime in some circumstances… is long overdue”.

“I warmly welcome Mr Pyne moving to update the law so that it is in line with modern values that trust and empower women to make decisions about their own bodies,” she said.

“Nearly a third of women will seek an abortion over their lifetime and they must not be made to feel like criminals for making their own decisions about their own bodies.”

Just as if women were human beings.

The taboo word

May 5th, 2016 5:51 am | By

From the abstract of an article in Contraception Journal, What women seek from a pregnancy resource center:

Twenty-nine states enable taxpayer funding to go to pregnancy resource centers (PRCs, often called crisis pregnancy centers), which are usually antiabortion organizations that aim to dissuade women from abortion. Some abortion rights advocates have called for the elimination of PRCs. However, we know little about why women visit PRCs.

We analyzed deidentified intake survey data from first-time clients to a secular, all-options PRC located in Indiana between July and December 2015 on their reason(s) for seeking services, material resources provided and content of any peer counseling…

Clients went there mostly for free diapers and baby clothes.


PRC clients largely sought parenting, not pregnancy, resources. The underutilization of pregnancy-options counseling and high demand for parenting materials and services point to unmet needs among caregivers of young children, particularly for diapers. Our findings are limited in their generalizability to typical PRCs, which are conservative Christian and antiabortion. Nonetheless, our results suggest the need to rethink the allocation of resources toward funding or eliminating PRCs solely for the purpose of influencing women’s decisions about abortion.


Understanding the services women who go to PRCs seek (i.e. diapers and parenting support) can help women’s health advocates better meet those needs, notably in contexts that are nonjudgmental about women’s pregnancy decisions.

That’s the abstract of the actual study. Now for the news article about the study at Rewire, written by Nicole Knight Shine:

Study: Pregnant People Seek Diapers, Not Abortion Counseling

Clients most commonly sought diapers and baby clothes, the study said, with only four clients out of 273 asking about abortion services.

The fact that so few clients discussed abortion surprised the researchers, said co-author Katrina Kimport in a phone interview Thursday with Rewire.

Typically run by religious groups, CPCs often masquerade as reproductive health clinics with the primary goal of dissuading “abortion-minded” pregnant people.

Kimport noted that the work underscores that pregnant people are not making abortion decisions at these centers. Instead, as authors of the report indicate, pregnant people arrive at their decisions by conferring privately with family and friends.

The Rewire story on the study doesn’t use the word “women” once. Not once. The actual study uses it repeatedly, but the journalist reporting on the study does not use it once, and puts the phrase “pregnant people” into the mouth of one of the authors.

Women are being erased.

Everyday Applied Intersectional Feminism That Ignores Women

May 4th, 2016 4:51 pm | By

What, a couple of you asked on my latest post about Everyday Feminism, does this have to do with feminism, and why can’t they talk about feminism? It’s because they’re too InterSectional to talk about feminism, but I thought I might as well find their About page to see how they explain it themselves.

Everyday Feminism is an educational platform for personal and social liberation. Our mission is to help people dismantle everyday violence, discrimination, and marginalization through applied intersectional feminism and to create a world where self-determination and loving communities are social norms through compassionate activism.

There it is right there – they’re intersectional, so that’s why they talk about everything but feminism more than they talk about feminism.

Notice that there’s something missing – they forgot to say everyday violence, discrimination, and marginalization against/of whom? They forgot to say – or they intentionally didn’t say, because they want to dismantle violence, discrimination, and marginalization against/of everyone – but in that case why do they call it Everyday Feminism? Why not call it Everyday Social Justice or Everyday Human Rights or Everyday Equality or Everyday Progressivism?

Then notice again the absence of women from the world where self-determination and loving communities are social norms – notice that the goal is generic as opposed to particular. That’s ok, but then why call it feminism?

They go on to spell it out.

Through our online magazine, we work to amplify and accelerate the progressive cultural shifts taking place across the US and the world. Our unique focus on helping people apply intersectional feminism and compassionate activism to their real everyday lives has deeply resonated with people around world.

We aim to shift our culture to end the everyday violence, discrimination, and marginalization that people face due to their gender, sexual orientation, race, class, size, ability, and other social differences.

Gender plus all the other things. So then they shouldn’t be calling it feminism, because that’s not feminism. Feminism is of course compatible with other branches of activism, but that doesn’t mean it’s the same thing.

I wonder if a major reason they talk so much about activism that has nothing to do with feminism is because they’re afraid of being called transphobic. It’s the hot new thing, calling feminists transphobic for talking about FGM, so next it will be calling feminists transphobic for talking about women, and maybe Everyday Notfeminism wanted to get out ahead of the curve.

I suspect that is a big part of why they’re so all over the place and so squeamish about talking about women.

What a pathetic place we’ve reached.

He was unaccountably surprised when she didn’t immediately concede his points

May 4th, 2016 4:17 pm | By

Adam Lee has some thoughts on Maryam Namazie’s encounter with Sam Harris on his podcast a few weeks ago.

While I agree with Harris on some things, I’ve often criticized his views on Islam – especially his indefensible beliefs about profiling – and I was hoping she’d give him a dose of perspective.

She offered him a dose of perspective, but he’s way too convinced that he already knows everything to listen to other people, especially not women. In short, he rejected her offer. For two hours he rejected it.

I got the impression that Namazie was treating it as a debate, whereas Harris didn’t think of it that way. However, his insistence on “correcting” some allegedly wrong ideas she held made it inevitable that there’d be sharp exchanges, and he was unaccountably surprised when she didn’t immediately concede his points just because he insisted she was mistaken.

That’s so Sam Harris. He’s so imperturbably confident in his own correctness that he seems incapable of listening.

Harris was very invested in getting Namazie to retract some of the critiques she’s made of his ideas, but she was having none of it. He seemed confident that if he just explained himself clearly enough, she’d be certain to come around and agree that he was right, and he was befuddled when she wouldn’t go along. It seems totally outside his sphere of possibility that two atheists might have a genuine difference of views about how to defeat radical Islam, or that ex-Muslims might find his approach unworkable or even counterproductive. He accused her of “starting these fights unnecessarily” (30:30), as if his stance was the default from which all atheist activism should begin – an immensely condescending attitude.

And all too typical of him.

Honestly I think we’d all be better off if Sam Harris had never had that first best-seller. Far too many atheists make a cult of him, and as a cult figure he’s a terrible influence – humorless, charmless, rude, and vastly conceited.

A great many bro-atheists used to admire Maryam and now think she’s just another one of those awful SJW people, because she dared to continue to disagree with Sam Harris even after he told her not to.

Clothing, behavior, and personal appearance

May 4th, 2016 11:48 am | By

Speaking of identity – some of my friends have been trying to pin down exactly what “gender identity” is supposed to mean: whether there is a universally accepted, objective meaning for the term, and whether it makes any sense.

One elucidation that was offered is from Planned Parenthood, and it sounded odd, so I took a look.

PP elucidates on its Gender/Gender Identity page.

What Is Gender? What Is Gender Identity?

Each person has a sex, a gender, and a gender identity. These are all aspects of your sexuality. They are all about who you are, and they are all different, but related.

Sex is biological. It includes our genetic makeup, our hormones, and our body parts, especially our sex and reproductive organs.

Gender refers to society’s expectations about how we should think and act as girls and boys, and women and men. It is our biological, social, and legal status as women and men.

Gender identity is how we feel about and express our gender and gender roles — clothing, behavior, and personal appearance. It is a feeling that we have as early as age two or three.

Those last two don’t make any sense in combination. They say two opposing things.

The first says, correctly, that gender is imposed on us from the outside: it’s society’s expectations about how we should think and act as female or male.

The second says, nonsensically, that gender identity is how we feel about and express society’s expectations about how we should think and act as female or male. Is it?! Isn’t it more how we do or don’t comply with society’s expectations about how we should think and act as female or male?

I don’t emote about society’s expectations about how I should think and act as female; I tell them to go fuck themselves. Is my “gender identity” therefore “go fuck yourselves”?

This is bullshit. They’re trying to have it both ways. They’re trying to combine two things that don’t combine. On the one hand yes gender is imposed on us, but on the other hand now that it’s been imposed on us let’s pretend it’s a big fun package and spend the rest of our lives playing with it.

I suppose they fell into this trap because they didn’t dare point out that society’s expectations about how we should think and act as female or male are systematically unequal; that females are supposed to think and act as submissive and subordinate to males; that males are supposed to think and act as dominant and superior to females. Oops. If they’d included that part, maybe they wouldn’t have talked the absurd bullshit about how we feel about and express our gender and gender roles — clothing, behavior, and personal appearance. But then that might have gotten them into trouble.

This toxic cloud is called

May 4th, 2016 11:15 am | By

Everyday Feminism is such good comic value.

One of its new roads on the Great Map of Intersections is aromantic, “an orientation comprised of a complete lack of romantic interest, behaviors, and relationships.”

Aromanticitude of course has its corresponding Enemy.

The truth is that we’ve all been living under a cloud – choking on it – and hardly anyone else seems to notice it. It’s insidious, and it’s made a complete mockery of friendship and other forms of intimacy outside of romantic entanglements.

It’s so bad that even in the non-monogamous community, aros (a shorter name for aromantic people) are looked at strangely.

This toxic cloud is called amatonormativity – and it’s terribly harmful.

Called by whom? According to whom? That’s one of EF’s best jokes, the way people who write for it always assume their claims are just obviously authoritative and decisive.

Amatonormativity is, essentially, “the assumption that a central, exclusive, amorous relationship is normal for humans, in that it is a universally shared goal, and that such a relationship is normative, in the sense that it should be aimed at in preference to other relationship types,” according to Elizabeth Brake.

Oh good, an attribution. But why the assumption that because Elizabeth Brake said it, it therefore is true? Because it’s Everyday Feminism, that’s why.

Ironically, I have some sympathy with the ideas behind this, but the way they’re expressed makes it hard not to laugh.

The vast majority of information for non-monogamous populations is still heavily couple-centric, hetero- and cisnormative, ableist, and virtually completely romantically oriented.

Heteronormative, cisnormative, and amatonormative. No wonder Everyday Feminism has to do something about it. (And where does actual feminism come in? Don’t be silly, that’s so last century.)

4. Amatonormativity Leaves Aros, Asexuals, and Others More Vulnerable

I happen to be asexual, autistic, aromantic, and kinky – as well as left-handed. All of this leaves my brain wired extremely differently to most.

Asexual and kinky?

Ok that’s enough comedy for today.