SSM is Not Like Abortion

One of the things I’ve been neglecting by not doing much blogging is holding Ryan Anderson’s feet to the fire. He hasn’t been inactive lately, by any means. So to kick things off for the new year, let’s tackle one of his latest instances of foolishness.

In the video below, a distraught middle-aged woman complains to the panel that her young niece looked at her like she was “a horrible person” when the woman told her niece she thought marriage was between a man and a woman, and looked to the panel for some help with “How are you guys winning [millenials] over” to the side of bigotry (OK, that’s my word…)?

And “Dr.”* Anderson’s (looking increasingly like Grizzly Adams–not such a fresh face now) response? Comparing abortion to same-sex marriage: “My generation is more pro-life than my parents’ generation, and there’s no reason why the same thing can’t happen on the question about marriage.”

Oh, but there is. It’s a bit like comparing support for nuclear weapons programs to believing it’s acceptable for men to wear pink.
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The Rat

clipart ratThe police and policing have been in the news a lot in the last few months, starting with the events in Ferguson, MO. I wrote about the police a couple times. And I’ve heard a lot of discussion, and one question has come up a few times. Why don’t the good cops do something about the bad cops? The answer: they’re afraid to. Whistle blowers are called “rats” and “snitches”. They can’t find partners to ride with them and get shitty assignments. Worst of all, they don’t get backup in dangerous situations, meaning they are literally endangering their own lives by coming forward. A case in which all this allegedly happened is that of former Baltimore Police Detective Joseph Crystal.

By all reports, Crystal was a rising star in the BPD, until he saw something he couldn’t keep quiet about: the beating of a drug suspect by a fellow officer.

In fleeing from police, the suspect broke into the home of a woman who was (presumably unknown to him) the girlfriend of a BPD officer (Anthony Williams). The man was arrested and taken away in a police van. But then Officer Williams–who was not involved in the arrest–showed up. The sergeant on scene had the van come back and the suspect brought back into the house where Williams beat him:

“I can hear the assault,” Crystal said. “I hear the banging. I hear the guy hit the floor.

“A couple minutes later, they bring the guy out,” Crystal added. “His shirt’s ripped. He’s having trouble standing. Later on, I found out his ankle was broken. It was obvious not just to any cop but to any person that saw it what had just transpired.”

The battered Green was led back into the police van and driven away.

After consulting with his parents, who were both former NYPD officers, he decided he had to report the incident. His sergeant advised against it: “If you snitch, your career is done. Nobody’s going to work with you.”

He did it anyway. His sergeant was right. What followed were all the things I mentioned above, in addition to having a dead rat placed on his car at his home and his security clearance revoked.

For obvious reasons, Crystal felt he had to quit his job, and he has been unable to find another law enforcement job in the area. He is currently suing the department, the chief and his former supervisor.

Read all the depressing details here.

This is why the good cops don’t do something about the bad cops. The Blue Wall is insurmountable. This is why the police are not capable of policing themselves.

The Fresh Face of Bigotry: A Kinder, Gentler Hate

We have all seen the signs carried by the fire-breathing homophobes of the Westboro Baptist “Church”, who famously declared “God Hates Fags”, which goes against pretty much all Christian teaching. Fortunately, this tactic convinced almost nobody, and made people hate the WBC more than anything else.

Unfortunately, more savvy bigots have caught on to the fact that such tactics don’t win people over to their side. Enter a new breed of bigots, who smile and speak softly while they “politely” try to keep as much discrimination in place against LGBT folks as they can.

The poster boy of this movement is one Ryan T. Anderson. Ryan, allegedly an intellectual (he works for an “Institute” and is associated with right-wing think tank The Heritage Foundation), is 32 and never married, and professes to be an expert on marriage. He has even coauthored a book about it!

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Uniform Code

Last night, another black male teenager was killed by police in the St. Louis area. This time, according to police, the teen was armed and fired at the officer. If that’s true–and once again, I believe all police shootings should be independently investigated–I can’t find fault with the officer for shooting. The fact that he fired 17 times tells me he’s probably not a good shot and should spend more time at the range, but that’s a different matter.

A fact in this story that will likely get overlooked–I may not have noticed it, if not for the tweet below–is that the officer was wearing his uniform while off duty and working private security gig.

And that’s a problem. Not that he was working another security job; I know cops don’t often make a lot of money (except at the Port Authority apparently, but that’s a topic for a separate post) and it’s fine putting their skills to work in another job. The problem is they do this in uniform. And it’s common.

In most cases, cops retain their police powers off duty, which is fine. But when you see an officer in uniform, how are you to know if they’re working in their official capacity or as hired help? The distinction is important! Are they enforcing the laws, or obeying the wishes of a private employer? As I stated in a previous post, you’re generally compelled to obey a police officer. Are his orders based on the law or the whims of his boss?

This is just another one of many things that should be fixed with policing in America.

On Police

I composed this entry weeks ago, and then sat on it instead of posting it. But I can’t really sit on this issue any more, now I that I see the story of John Crawford, a black man fatally shot by police in Ohio. The man was carrying a gun in a Walmart store, and police responded to a 911 call. The gun turned out to be toy, but it was apparently realistic looking from a distance. However, there are two considerations here: 1) Ohio is an open-carry state, meaning it was not against the law to carry a real gun in the store. In fact white people do it without getting shot. 2) It appears from the video that Mr. Crawford dropped the toy gun before being shot by police.

A grand jury failed to indict, and the city released a statement that “The officers followed accepted law enforcement training protocol in their response to the report of an active threat in the Wal-Mart store.” Apparently officers are trained to shoot black men after they drop their gun on the floor.

More information here and here. The video is…disturbing.

It sure seems like it.
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I’ve been stewing on this for while, composing parts of it in my head, and then forgetting most of them. Then as I was finishing up with work today, I saw the following tweet, and accompanying link from @redeyechicago:

And I’m sure most of the developed world heard about what happened in Ferguson, MO no long ago. And lo and behold, this tweet also popped into my timeline:

So it’s time to talk about police, I think. Police, or cops, are a necessary part of society, unless we want to live in anarchy. I want to be clear that I am not anti-cop. I appreciate the job is dangerous, challenging and often thankless. I appreciate that men and women are willing to put their lives on the line in service to society, often for sadly low pay (you don’t go into policing to get rich). And many cops are good people. I don’t say “most”, because I don’t know that to be true. I don’t that it isn’t true either; I lack facts either way. But it’s no secret that the power that comes with a badge and a gun can attract the wrong kind of people into the line of work. People like the guy in the first tweet above, if the allegations are true. And like many of the people I saw in action in Ferguson, MO.

And the whole thing in Ferguson started with a police officer fatally shooting an unarmed 18 year old boy. All the facts in that case have still not been revealed, so I am not going to try to pass judgement but it definitely doesn’t smell right to me. But Mike Brown is hardly the only person to be shot to death by police. In the US alone, more than 400 civilians were killed by police in 2011. In Australia there were 6, in Germany there were 6 and in England and Wales there were 2 for the same year.
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Open Letter to the Internet (and Beyond)

Dear Internet,

Actually dear Everybody, but particularly everybody on the Internet,

Please stop feeding the trolls.

In Internet slang, a troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.

I know, it’s tough. We hate it when someone is wrong on the Internet!

What do you want me to do? LEAVE? Then they'll keep being wrong!

It’s so tempting to respond when you hear or see someone say something completely asinine, wrong-headed and/or offensive. But here’s the thing. Many of them are doing it for attention. There is at least one well-known and particularly egregious offender for this. I don’t even want to say her name because it will just give her what she wants, so I’ll let you figure it out yourself. Her name rhymes with Can Houlter. Know who I mean?

Of all the people that say ignorant and truly offensive things, she may just be the queen. And she’s doing it for attention, nothing more. She doesn’t actually hope to persuade anyone with her so-called “arguments”. She just wants people to say “Oh my God, did you hear what [name redacted] said about [whatever]?!” Because then people are talking about her. And she gets invited on TV to say more stupid shit, because people eat it up. Whenever I see someone complain about her I just want to scream “STOP! She is WINNING because of you!” Without attention, trolls shrivel up and die, and the world is a better place.

The only way to elevate the (abysmal) level of discourse in our society is to reward it when it’s constructive, and ignore it when it’s not. I know, it’s so very hard to do. Trust me, I know. It’s something we can all work on, together. Are you with me, Internet (and Beyond)?

Arizona SB 1062 dissected

Let’s take a closer look at the bill currently sitting on Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s desk, awaiting her signature. It is SB 1062 “AMENDING SECTIONS 41-1493 AND 41-1493.01, ARIZONA REVISED STATUTES; RELATING TO THE FREE EXERCISE OF RELIGION.” Full text available here (pdf) for now. (Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, take my analysis with a big grain of salt.)

First of all, this is amending an existing law, not creating a new one. Arizona already has a law to protect religious freedom. This amendment extends its reach to ridiculous and unenforceable proportions.

What are some of the key changes? (Additions to existing law in bold and caps).

In Section 1:

19 5. “Person” includes a religious assembly or institution ANY
20 INDIVIDUAL, ASSOCIATION, PARTNERSHIP, CORPORATION, CHURCH, RELIGIOUS ASSEMBLY
21 OR INSTITUTION OR OTHER BUSINESS ORGANIZATION
.

Cue Mitt Romney: “Corporations are people, my friend!” Apparently in Arizona, corporations may also have religious beliefs. This ought to be a warning sign that things are starting to go off the rails in Arizona when any business entity is given “person” status in relation to religious practices and beliefs.
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Arizona, What the Fuck?

While my attention was elsewhere the Arizona legislature passed an anti-gay discrimination law similar to the nonsense that was considered in Kansas.

What the fuck?!

The Arizona legislature gave final approval to legislation that allows business owners asserting their religious beliefs to refuse service to gays, drawing backlash from Democrats who called the proposal “state-sanctioned discrimination” and an embarrassment.

The 33-27 vote by the House Thursday evening sends the legislation to Republican Governor Jan Brewer and puts Arizona back at the forefront of a polarizing piece of legislation four years after the state enacted an immigration crackdown that caused a national furor.

from the Guardian

Of course, the GOP supporters claim this is about preventing discrimination!

“This bill is not about allowing discrimination,” Yarbrough said. “This bill is about preventing discrimination against people who are clearly living out their faith.”

So if someone’s “faith” tells them to kill infidels, we should probably protect that too, right? My faith tells me to punch those fucking jackasses in the nuts. I’m so over this bullshit.

If Jan Brewer signs this, she and all those who voted for it should be impeached for failing to uphold the Constitution of the United States.

Kansas, What the Fuck?

Work has been kicking my ass (and still is) so I don’t have time to get into this, but I wanted to get a WTF post out there, in case people aware of this bullshit.

The Kansas state legislature is on the verge of approving—and Kansas’s Republican governor has pledged to sign—a bill that legalizes discrimination against gay couples. Businesses, individuals, government employees—anyone will be able to discriminate against gay couples once the law is signed. Under the law firefighters could refuse to put out a fire if the house was owned by a gay couple.

What in all the fucks are they thinking?

The piece this quote is taken from is definitely worth a read, and a share.

I just… I can’t even right now.