I’m not laughing with you…

I’m not going to sugarcoat it. The Editorial and Letters to the Editor pages at the Daily Oklahoman are just fucking pathetic. It’s just sad that the largest newspaper in my home state publishes such utter dribble. To me, they’re rarely good for anything more than a laugh. So I figured, I might check in and see what kinds of things make them laugh

Ten Commandments critics’ claims laughable

Ha ha! Those silly people who think we should have to follow the Constitution! It’s so laughable! Who needs the Constitution when we have totally non-laughable things like the Bible, which says important things like this:

2 Kings 18:27

But Rabshakeh said unto them, Hath my master sent me to thy master, and to thee, to speak these words? hath he not sent me to the men which sit on the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you?

Serious shit, people.

We’ve raised questions about the wisdom of installing a Ten Commandments monument at the Oklahoma Capitol — not because we disagree with the commandments’ content, but because limited taxpayer dollars will likely be wasted on an unsuccessful legal defense.

You don’t disagree with the commandments’ content? Not even this one?

Exodus 20:17

King James Version (KJV)

17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

So you’re totally cool with slavery and men treating their wives like property? ‘Cause the author of that verse clearly is.

The U.S. Supreme Court has sent mixed signals, upholding some Decalogue monuments but ruling against others. Monuments passing court review have been components of larger, long-standing historical displays. The Oklahoma monument is a stand-alone item, likely undermining state arguments for its constitutionality.

A perfectly sensible paragraph. If only everything you wrote were like this. But the sense and rationality bus comes to a screeching halt and explodes in a ball of fiery pettiness and bad logic from here on out.

Even so, the claims of some critics are laughable. This week, New Jersey-based American Atheists Inc. and Oklahoma residents Aimee Breeze and William Poire filed a lawsuit challenging the monument. Breeze regularly travels to the Capitol during legislative sessions. As a result, the complaint claims that she’s “confronted” by the Ten Commandments display, which she finds “hurtful and exclusive.”

Seriously? The monument is on the north side of the Capitol. The main parking lot is on the south side. The main pedestrian entrances are on the south, east and west sides. To actually see the monument, you’d have to go looking for it. If Breeze is being “confronted” by the display, she’s deliberately going out of her way to experience this allegedly “hurtful” situation.

Where the hell do you get the balls to call other people’s arguments laughable when this is the putrid shit you spew?

“We put the monument on a side of the building where there are fewer people. If there are fewer people, then there are no people, and no one ever has a reason to go to it. Therefore, I get cupcakes!”

That’s the best I can do to parse out the illogical dumbfuckery on display here. Hey, Daily Oklahoman, how the fuck to you know which side of the building she goes to while she’s there?  Were you there? Do you know her? Do you know her routine? Did you ask her? If the answer to these questions is No (and I’m sure it is), then that last sentence came directly from somewhere between Saturn and Neptune. You have abso-fucking-lutely no way of knowing what her reasons for being on the north side of the building are.

Besides, even if she did go out of her way to see it, how the fuck does that undermine her argument? Rosa Parks got on that bus deliberately looking to get kicked off when she refused to go to the back. Does that make her claim that she was discriminated against “laughable”? Whether she was deliberately looking for it or not, she was discriminated against either way. Why she was there is god damn irrelevant.

And do you seriously expect people to buy this obviously fallacious “If it’s on a side of the building where fewer people go, then the complaints must be illegitimate” crap? If ANYBODY can see it then it’s in a public place and such complaints have at least some legitimacy. A ten year old could see the fucking holes in your logic. I fucking dare you to try an argument like that in court. The judge will likely find it, well, fucking laughable.

The lawsuit also claims the monument establishes a “thought crime” against coveting your neighbor’s wife, and restricts free speech rights through prohibitions on worshipping graven images and taking the Lord’s name in vain. Nonsense! There are no actual state laws against those activities.

Those are their italics. I didn’t put them there. They really want  to emphasize that last point. So here, let me use some italics of my own to emphasize the only rational conclusion any sane person should reach from this:

The Ten Commandments have precisely fuck-all to do with American law.

They came from a society where thoughts COULD be a crime. They came from a society that practiced slavery and traded women like they were fuckable action figures. They came from a society that had no religious freedom at all, no Bill of Rights, and you were taking your life in your hands if you said anything indicating you don’t believe in the Magical Pervert in the Sky.

They. Are. Not. Our. Laws. So what the fuck are they doing at our capitol? And why the fuck are you so confused when someone points out that putting them there is offensive?

Want to “worship” a statue you made in wood shop? Knock yourself out. Want to lust after married women or men? You can do so, although we wouldn’t recommend it.

Want to go to the capitol without being told that you’re inferior and this capitol isn’t really for you? Well too bad, unless you’re Christian or Jewish.

An individual’s actions can be immoral without being illegal, just as a monument can be a bad idea without validating the overwrought claims of its thin-skinned critics.

I really wish the right wing would get that first part through their glacially thick skulls. That would end every single argument against gay marriage.

But the latter half of that sentence is just fucking dumb. The monument at the capitol isn’t just a bad idea. It’s ILLEGAL. And, more importantly, its actual purpose is very, very clear. Apparently, the editors at the Oklahoman don’t read their own letters column, or else they’d already know what the bigots who read their pathetic rag think this monument is for:

The First Amendment doesn’t mandate the Christian faith for each person; however, it does mandate the freedom to worship as one chooses — or not at all. Ten Commandments monuments on public property are a tribute that recognizes our historic, constitutional commitment to the principles and values that the Ten Commandments provide. Other faiths not based on and committed to honoring the Ten Commandments don’t truthfully represent this Christian nation and its commitment to these civilizing principles and values. Neither can their monuments.

Got that? Only Christianity–with its “civilizing” principles–can represent the USA #1 RAH RAH RAH. So we can only put up the 10 commandments. Not, say, the Five Pillars of Islam, or something from Hinduism, or a fucking awesome Satanist statue. Nope, just Christians. They get special treatment. The rest of you don’t even have civilizing principles, you heathen barbarians!

So, no, their claims are not overwrought. The obvious purpose of the monument is to promote Christianity while denying that promotion to every other religious belief, thereby demeaning everyone who isn’t Christian. It’s not laughable for someone to claim to feel hurt by that.

The monument violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment by elevating one religion over others and thereby creating an establishment of religion. It also violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by allowing Christians to put up monuments but not Satanists or Muslims or Humanists. Hell, it might even violate the  No Religious Test Clause in Article VI, paragraph 3 of the Constitution, if you consider “Guy who puts the monument up” to be an office or trust. That last one’s quite a stretch, I admit. But it’s still better reasoning than the laughable shit the Oklahoman comes up with.

Discrimination: It’s good for business!

There are different types of conservatives out there. There’s just the run of the mill conservative, a person whose beliefs differ from my own liberal beliefs, but who isn’t an asshole or a bigot. Just different. Then there are the assholes and bigots, the ones who pick up on conservatism because it gives them an excuse to attack some racial or sexual minority. There are the True Believers (aka god-humpers), the ones so caught up in a religious ideology that they believe it without question and see implications of it in everything. There are also the plutocrats, heartless elites interested only in augmenting their own wealth and power, and constantly pushing for lower taxes even if it means the environment is raped and poor people die of preventable diseases. (Seriously, fuck those guys.)

But then there are the libertarian types. They’re generally easy to get along with in comparison to the assholes and god-humpers. They tend to be mostly rational and willing to see other people’s viewpoints. The points they have to make are not always irrational, authoritarian or just downright ignorant. They are often intelligent, informed and politically engaged. Honestly, if the libertarian types ran the Republican Party I wouldn’t find it loathsome like I do now. (Unfortunately, the plutocrats hold the real power in the party and the base is overrun with assholes and god-humpers. Hence the loathsomeness.)

But the libertarians do have one really, really, REALLY fucking annoying tendency. They have difficulty seeing the political, social, or legal value of anything apart from its economic value. If they get it into their heads that a law hurts the economy, then they’re against it, and their money-hardened brains don’t really even process the concept that it could be a good law apart from whatever (real or imagine) economic damage it does. Case in point, Joshua Steimle at Forbes.com, who recently spat out this bit of Libertarian Wankery:

Entrepreneurship Threatened By Ruling In New Mexico Gay Marriage Case

It should be noted that this case wasn’t about gay marriage per se. Gay marriage is in fact advancing in New Mexico and is already being carried out in some counties. But the case in question took place at a time when gay marriage was not allowed and the case is not about legalizing gay marriage. Rather, it’s a discrimination case about a photographer who refused to work at a gay wedding ceremony several years ago.

Steimle (I don’t have the foggiest idea how that letter-salad of a name is supposed to be pronounced) begins reasonably enough:

Whenever the law interferes with entrepreneurial activity it creates a barrier to entry and makes the practice of doing business less efficient. Some would say certain inefficiencies in an economy are good and desirable, as when bad people are prevented from doing bad things by laws and regulations that catch them before they do any harm. This realm of “positive law” includes laws against drunk driving and insider trading. These laws create criminals where there is no victim but merely the perhaps likely threat of harm, and reasonable people can debate the merits of such laws.

This is why I like the libertarians (Steimle doesn’t claim to be one, but comes across to me as one, so I presume he is). Even when I  disagree with them, I don’t entirely disagree with them. Part of what they say usually makes good, rational sense.

The recent ruling wherein the high court of New Mexico ruled against Elaine Huguenin, a professional photographer who refused to photograph a gay marriage ceremony due to her religious beliefs, goes far beyond merely attempting to prevent harm. Rather, it aims to criminalize behavior that has no potential to cause physical harm, but at worst can only be considered offensive. If allowed to stand, the consequences will be negative for all entrepreneurs whether straight, gay, black, white, male, or female.

And then he turns around and says something stupid. The worst harm discrimination can do is to be “considered offensive”? Do you know ANYTHING about the history of this country?

Elaine Huguenin is the co-owner of Elane Photography along with her husband. Their small business is based in New Mexico. In 2006 she refused to photograph a gay marriage ceremony for Vanessa Willock and her partner, citing religious beliefs. Elaine and her business came to national attention after the couple sued her, claiming discrimination. According to the New Mexico Human Rights Act, it is illegal for a business to refuse its services to an individual because of that person’s sexual orientation. The same law also prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry and gender.

On August 22nd, 2013, New Mexico’s highest court ruled against Elaine, stating “When Elane Photography refused to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony, it violated the NMHRA in the same way as if it had refused to photograph a wedding between people of different races.”

It cannot be disputed that Elaine broke the law.

And now he’s being sensible again. Yes, she clearly violated the law. Whenever a god-humper talks about issues like this, that part is often lost on them. If Steimle were a god-humper, he would probably “dispute” it by regurgitating Bible verses and whining that he’s being persecuted just like the Jews under Hitler.

What we can dispute is whether the long term consequences of having such a law in place are beneficial for society.

After the ruling, Louise Melling of the American Civil Liberties Union issued a statement saying “When you open a business, you are opening your doors to all people in your community, not just the select few who share your personal beliefs.”

Were this reasoning to be applied equally to all cases, as blind justice demands, then a business owned by a gay individual must provide services to the Westboro Baptist Church, if asked to. A Jewish entrepreneur must provide services to a neo-Nazi.

And now he’s being stupid again.

Dear Mr. Steimle, would you please LOOK AT WHAT YOU YOURSELF WROTE JUST A FEW PARAGRAPHS AGO.

According to the New Mexico Human Rights Act, it is illegal for a business to refuse its services to an individual because of that person’s sexual orientation. The same law also prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry and gender.

Do you see “political affiliation” or “organization membership” on there? No. And that’s the law. What Melling says is not the law. She’s just someone from the ACLU who said something that doesn’t accurately represent the law.

The reasoning behind anti-discrimination laws is to protect groups that have historically been given second class citizenship on a basis of something that is either not under their control (race, sexual orientation, place of birth) or that is specifically protected in the constitution (religion). There is no history of persecution of the KKK–in fact, they’ve historically been the ones doing and promoting discrimination.

That’s why we need these laws. What Melling said is irrelevant, and you know this, because you said so just a little while. Please pay attention.

According to a recent Rasmussen poll, 85% of Americans believe Elaine had the right to refuse service to the gay couple. I suspect the percentage would be even higher if respondents had been asked not if a Christian woman could refuse to photograph a gay marriage ceremony, but if a business owned by an African-American woman must provide services to the KKK.

What do you think the percentage would be if it were a klansman refusing service to a black woman? People don’t exactly think very clearly on issues like this.

And a black woman refusing to serve the KKK is not comparable to a photographer refusing to serve someone just for being gay. The KKK actively hate and attack black people. Gays do not have anything against photographers.

It is important to reiterate that no harm was done to the gay couple other than to offend their sensibilities.

Utter bullshit. It cost them time and resources to find another photographer. If this practice were allowed to proliferate to other businesses, it could seriously impact the lives and well-being of gays by making it more difficult for them to obtain services than straights. Real harm, even ECONOMIC harm (since that’s how Steimle thinks) has been done here.

How do I know this? Because that’s exactly what happened to blacks back when it was allowed to discriminate against them. Ask anyone who played on an integrated football team in the 1950s who had to scramble to find a hotel for 80+ players and coaches when they learn that the one they booked didn’t allow blacks. Or any hungry black many who had to search around town to find a restaurant that would serve him. It hurts people.

If you are a Christian woman who a week ago was thinking of starting a wedding photography business in New Mexico, might you be thinking twice today?

I’d be impressed if you could think once.

If the Court’s ruling is allowed to stand, this sends a chilling message to entrepreneurs—if someone, anyone, doesn’t like you, your business, or what you stand for, then all they need to do is claim discrimination, and they can sue you.

Utter paranoia. Hypothetically, someone might attempt to abuse the law in this fashion, but whether they could actually succeed would require them to prove you actually discriminate.

It does not matter whether the entrepreneur is black or white, gay or straight, liberal or conservative, male or female. Anyone can be targeted. It’s only a matter of time before alleged inferior service, rather than outright refusal of service, is all that is necessary to claim discrimination and bring suit. To those who claim this is unrealistic and will never happen, I would point out this is exactly what I was told about the type of lawsuit Elaine Huguenin just lost.

“I was told this by my imaginary friend Steve the Wonder Chicken. He’s never done me wrong before!”

Entrepreneurs already face enough hurdles. They must deal with the IRS, The Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act (otherwise known as Obamacare), and other city, county, state, and federal regulations.

Yeah, I’m sure wedding photographers are really struggling with Obamacare.

Add to this the threat of an expensive lawsuit based on your beliefs, even if you pick no one’s pocket nor break anyone’s leg, and for some it will be the difference between starting a business that brings us an innovative product or service that improves our lives, and getting a safe job working for someone else.

Anti-discrimination laws are bad, because people who want to discriminate won’t do business in your state. Think of the economy!

So should we allow discrimination against blacks or Hispanics or Muslims or Jews so that people that want to discriminate against them will do more business in our state? According to Heimle’s stupid argument, that’s exactly what we should do.

But the argument is utter nonsense. For one thing, there is more at stake here than merely who’s doing business in one’s state. There’s also the interest of protecting the rights of a class of people who have been historically subject to widespread discrimination. Even if that means a few bigots won’t do business in your state, it’s still worth it. But libertarians simply can’t process this. They see something that might hurt business and immediately conclude it’s bad without further consideration.

But even if we limit ourselves to economic arguments, it’s still stupid. Yeah, anti-discrimination laws might drive the bigots away, but so fucking what? Smart, educated people are more likely to favor gay rights and equality, and they also make for great entrepreneurs, and they would find a state that protects gay rights to be more attractive for business. And it’s not just entrepreneurs. Many big businesses today, including big ones like Google and Boeing, are actively pushing for protections for gays and lesbians and would find a state more attractive if it had laws to that effect. One could easily argue that protecting gay rights could improve the economy.

And as for a bigot who’s so petty and hateful that he/she wouldn’t open a business in NM simply because they won’t allow him/her to discriminate? Fuck ’em. Who needs ’em? Let ’em move to fucking Saudi Arabia and live in the repressive theocratic nightmare that they apparently think society should be. Let ’em move to fucking Russia, where discrimination against gays is now enshrined in federal law. I don’t see why we should need or want their business.

They’re probably shitty photographers anyways.

Religion vs. Reality

WingNutDaily has a story out of Washington about a woman who has made a very poor career choice.

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson recently sued a Richland florist, Barronelle Stutzman, for alleged violations of state law authorizing same-sex “marriage,” but now he is finding himself a defendant for allegedly trying to violate the state and federal constitutions’ religious freedom provisions.

Bit of advice: If you don’t want to be around gay people, DON’T BECOME A FUCKING FLORIST.

But how exactly did she violate the “state law authorizing same-sex marriage”? How is that even possible? Here’s what voters in Washington voted on:

The ballot title reads as follows:[4]

The legislature passed Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 6239 concerning marriage for same-sex couples, modified domestic-partnership law, and religious freedom, and voters have filed a sufficient referendum petition on this bill.This bill would allow same-sex couples to marry, preserve domestic partnerships only for seniors, and preserve the right of clergy or religious organizations to refuse to perform, recognize, or accommodate any marriage ceremony.

Should this bill be:

Approved [ ]

Rejected [ ]

The ballot measure is accompanied by the following summary:

This bill allows same-sex couples to marry, applies marriage laws without regard to gender, and specifies that laws using gender-specific terms like husband and wife include same-sex spouses. After 2014, existing domestic partnerships are converted to marriages, except for seniors. It preserves the right of clergy or religious organizations to refuse to perform or recognize any marriage or accommodate wedding ceremonies. The bill does not affect licensing of religious organizations providing adoption, foster-care, or child-placement.

There’s nothing in there to break. There are no penalties mentioned. How could anyone “violate” this law?

Stutzman has served homosexual clientele with a wide range of floral products over many years, and also has employed those who portray themselves as homosexual, with no issue. But she decided she could not, without violating her faith, give the appearance of endorsing same-sex “marriage” by creating special services for such an event, according to legal documents in her case.

A few things here.

  • The same sex marriage law in Washington says nothing about fucking floral arrangements, so WND is clearly misrepresenting which law she’s alleged to be in violation of.
  • They’re likely doing this on purpose in order to create the illusion that legalizing gay marriage somehow harmed someone.
  • So if you provide floral arrangements, that means you endorse said wedding? Who made that fucking rule? If a serial killer eats a McRib, does that make Ronald McDonald a proponent of axe-murder?
  • There’s that word “special” that we see again and again from the dumbass wingnuts who want gays to be second class citizens. If a florist provides THE EXACT SAME SERVICE that a straight person gets to a gay person, that service suddenly becomes “special”.
  • She has Gay Friends. So it’s not like she hates gays. It’s all about Jeeeeeebus.
  • And you just gotta love the way WND insists on putting scare quotes around “marriage” whenever it’s a gay doing it. Note that this is not an opinion piece. They do this even in their articles which are supposed to be straight news. (See what I did there?)

Moving on, what in the great gobblin’ shitbuckets is this countersuit based on?

The countersuit asks for a declaration that Ferguson’s actions are “unlawful” and to enjoin similar future actions, reasonable attorneys’ fees and litigation costs and “such other relief that the court deems just and equitable.”

The countersuit was filed by Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys on behalf of Stutzman, whom they already were defending from the attorney general’s complaint.

If there were a Bad Legal Advice Hall of Fame, this countersuit would have its own wing. I’ve already pointed out that there’s nothing in the law legalizing gay marriage that has anything to do with fucking flowers.  The law she actually violated is this one:

RCW 49.60.030

Freedom from discrimination — Declaration of civil rights.

(1) The right to be free from discrimination because of race, creed, color, national origin, sex, honorably discharged veteran or military status, sexual orientation, or the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability is recognized as and declared to be a civil right. This right shall include, but not be limited to:

(a) The right to obtain and hold employment without discrimination;

(b) The right to the full enjoyment of any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, or privileges of any place of public resort, accommodation, assemblage, or amusement;

That’s right. Washington prohibits businesses from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. News articles about this issue clearly state this:

“Because she refused to sell flowers to Mr. Ingersoll and Mr. Freed for their wedding,” the ACLU’s website states, “defendant Barronelle Stutzman aided Arlene’s Flowers in violating the Washington Law Against Discrimination by discriminating against the Plaintiffs on the basis of their sexual orientation.”

Maybe the ADF and WND should have paid a little more attention. And by a little more I mean any at all. She clearly broke the law. This countersuit has no hope of succeeding whatsoever, and is only going to be a big waste of money for them. Oh, and get this:

“He said he decided to get married, and before he got through I grabbed his hand and said, ‘I am sorry. I can’t do your wedding because of my relationship with Jesus Christ,’” Stutzman told KEPRTV News.

How does a sentence like that even exist? How could anyone possibly utter something so nonsensical and imbecilic without her brain giving up, shutting down, and putting her body into a permanent catatonic state?

“Everyone knows that plenty of florists are willing to assist in same-sex ceremonies, so the state has no reason to force Barronelle to violate her deeply held beliefs,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Dale Schowengerdt.

Do these guys really think that argument is going to fly? I’d love to see them try that in court.

“Your honor, I hearby submit that it is okay for me to break the law because there are other people who don’t break it.”

*Lawyer permanently enters catatonic state. He is placed on the courthouse lawn as a warning to others. He is later murdered by Mayor McCheese, who is exonerated on the basis that there are other people who wouldn’t have murdered him.*

“In America, the government is supposed to protect freedom, not use its intolerance for certain viewpoints to intimidate citizens into acting contrary to their faith convictions. Family business owners are constitutionally guaranteed the freedom to live and work according to their beliefs. It is this very freedom that gives America its cherished diversity and protects citizens from state-mandated conformity.”

Boiler, meet plate.

It’s especially amusing that they refer to our “cherished diversity” while defending a woman against a discrimination charge. Cherished by whom, exactly? Certainly not by any of the god-humpers. But they do have a worrying penchant for heaping praise the very things they fight against. The praise freedom while fighting to restrict it. They insist on the importance of equal rights while doing everything in their power to preserve inequality.  They babble about how much god loves women while carefully inserting as much government as they can into every vagina that walks the land. They love the Constitution, but try to violate it every chance they get. Jesus loves the poor and sick so much that he wants them to stay that way! It’s more to love, right?

Dumbshits.