Home-grown religiously-inspired terrorists (and their enablers)

Oh how easy it is for those of us in North America to think that terrorism is only bred in countries overseas.  Tonight I watched The Assassination of Dr. Tiller, and I’m just sick about what happened to this heroic and compassionate doctor.

No matter which side of the debate you fall under, you should watch and bear witness to Dr. Tiller’s story (not to mention the stories of the women he sacrificed so much for).

Here’s a bit from the conclusion of the documentary:

For those who worked for Dr. Tiller, a raw anger remains — though not for the man who pulled the trigger.  For them, much of their rage is focused on the anti-abortion forces in Wichita who targeted Dr. Tiller for so many years.

“The ones who don’t carry guns definitely incite the ones who do have guns.” [Shelly Sella, MD]

“They gather all these people up, they fill them with hate, and then they stand back when the least imbalanced among them does something.  They stand back and say they didn’t have anything to do with it.” [Joan Armentrout, Clinic Administrator]

“[They say:] ‘We never advocated violence.’  No?  You didn’t? You advocated everything else.  You put [Dr. Tiller] up to hatred, contempt, and ridicule.  And he gets killed, and you step back from it now and say, “Well, that really wasn’t our intent.”  Well, what the hell was your intent?!  [Nola Foulston, District Attorney of Sedgwick County, Kansas]

When it comes to discussing the abortion issue with people who disagree with me, I try to get them to see what their position looks like when it’s practically applied.

Now I’ll also get them to see what their stance looks like when their ideology is drawn out to its extremes — this documentary provides a very good picture of how anti-life that view really is.

What she said:

Melissa Harris-Lacewell on the extremist anti-abortion position of never allowing any abortions, even in the case of rape and incest:

Let‘s be completely clear about the facts here.  There is no place in the world and no time in history where restricting women‘s reproductive rights makes a people or a nation more free or more equal.  These extreme positions on abortion are without any question a war on American girls and women.

[…]I‘m from a people who really did experience the need to hold on to a God who would see them through difficult times, including generations of black women who in slavery were forced to bear the children of their rapists.  And I do believe, because I‘m a person of faith, in a interceding God that can help people through difficult circumstances.  But I‘m also an American who believes that the point of government isn‘t to make life so hard for half of our citizens that the only force there to help them is God.  We, as a government and as a people, deserve and should do better.

history in the making

Today U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled AGAINST Proposition 8 in California, clearing the way for the case to make its way to the Supreme Court.

I’m just DYING to read his entire ruling, but I’m just so swamped right now between

  • teaching/marking/meeting with students,
  • gardening,
  • planning the Freethinker Family Camp next weekend,
  • applying (and being ACCEPTED!) into Celebrant training,
  • mamahood,
  • and the occasional few hours of sleep I can grab.

So — until I can sit down and savor this human rights victory, I’ll enjoy the few snippets I read online, like this one:

The evidence shows that the movement of marriage away from a gendered institution and toward an institution free from state-mandated gender roles reflects an evolution in the understanding of gender rather than a change in marriage. The evidence did not show any historical purpose for excluding same-sex couples from marriage, as states have never required spouses to have an ability or willingness to procreate in order to marry. FF 21. Rather, the exclusion exists as an artifact of a time when the genders were seen as having distinct roles in society and in marriage. That time has passed. (113)

And, this one:

Moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and lesbians.The evidence shows conclusively that Proposition 8 enacts, without reason, a private moral view that same-sex couples are inferior to opposite-sex couples. (135)

The clincher:

Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. (138)

Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick’s reflects on the judge’s decision, and writes:

It’s hard to read Judge Walker’s opinion without sensing that what really won out today was science, methodology, and hard work. Had the proponents of Prop 8 made even a minimal effort to put on a case, to track down real experts, to do more than try to assert their way to legal victory, this would have been a closer case. But faced with one team that mounted a serious effort and another team that did little more than fire up their big, gay boogeyman screensaver for two straight weeks, it wasn’t much of a fight.

For one of the most inspiring moments of the day, watch Rachel interview the lawyers behind defeating the Proposition, Ted Olsen and David Boies:

What a great day for equality.  I cannot wait until I’ll be able to be a Celebrant at a same-sex wedding.

What she said:

I’ve been following the whole mess that is the Shirley Sherrod resignation/firing over her NAACP speech, and there’s definitely a post in there about the importance of context and good will.  Needless to say, it’s been entertaining to watch the coverage of the story on various news networks.

Last night, apparently Bill O’Reilly took a shot at Rachel, and I LOVE LOVE her response to him — check it out:

When you got all ‘kick your network’s butt’ and ‘madam’ on me, you weren’t really trying to tout your network’s ratings. You were trying to take the attention off of me saying that your network, Fox News, continually crusades on flagrantly bogus stories designed to make white Americans fear black Americans, which Fox News most certainly does for a political purpose, even if it upends the lives of individuals like Shirley Sherrod, even as it frays the fabric of the nation, and even as it makes the American dream more of a dream and less of a promise… but even if no one watches us at all, except for my mom and my girlfriend and people who forgot to turn off the TV after Keith, you are still wrong on what really matters, and that would be the facts, Your Highness.

So dad, if you’re reading this post, this week illustrates for you why I don’t trust Fox News. Any “news” organization that has such a hateful ideology isn’t worth my remote click.

Why I like to argue

(and it’s not just because I’m disagreeable)

I’m very vocal in my affection for Rachel Maddow.  I love how impassioned she’s been in covering the BP oil spill, I love how she’s social-justice minded, and I love how she doesn’t sink down to the lowest-denominator when covering the gong-show antics of Republicans these days (though there’s no shortage of material available).

One of the ways that Rachel is different from Keith Olbermann is how she doesn’t just take the easy cheap-shot when covering some of the wackier news of conservatives.  She takes a bigger picture approach, and it’s one that leaves the viewer (me!) in a place where I feel challenged and educated, not just entertained for a cheap laugh (a la “worst person in the world” clips, etc).

Last week offered one of those moments for me.  Maddow was covering the Sharron Angle interviews in Nevada — a little background: if you’re looking for wingnut Republican, Angle pretty much fits the bill in her platform stances.  But rather than just stringing together a bunch of clips that would just illustrate how silly this candidate is, Rachel took another approach, and made a commentary of why it’s important to open up conversations with people who you don’t necessarily agree with.  Here’s some of what Rachel said:

But when Sharron Angle‘s political career ended last night on local television in Nevada, it was a perfect case study in what happens if you don‘t ever talk to people with whom you disagree.  Because here is the thing – when your positions are never questioned, you‘re never forced to develop strong logic to back them up.  When your arguments are never challenged, you don‘t ever have to improve them.  You don‘t ever have to cast out arguments of yours that don‘t make sense or learn how to deal with evidence that appears to contradict your conclusions.

That‘s why I regret that we don‘t have more conservatives on this show.  Because I do have a point of view, of course, but I like talking with people with whom I disagree, both because it is fun and selfishly because it makes my arguments better. [my emphasis] link

Here’s the clip from the show:

While Rachel was talking in the context of politics, I can take what she’s said and apply it to other areas of discussion/debate that I love to take part in — including conversations on religion.

I once had a friend who never understood the merits of a good argument.  One night another good friend and I were duke-ing it out over the cinematic worth of The Hurt Locker (she hated it, I liked it), and for some in the room with us, they were quite upset to see how impassioned each of us were in our position.  But we weren’t “fighting;” we were seriously discussing our positions — and afterward, we learned more about each other in the process (not to mention the fact I got to gloat over all the Academy Awards the film eventually won).

It’s for these reasons that I enjoy opening myself up to all the untouchable subjects of conversation (read: politics and religion) — namely, because I like to be challenged just as much as I like to challenge.  It’s just a shame that many people today would rather surround themselves with ideological clones, rather than opening themselves up for debate.