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Bite Their Smiling Heads Off

August 19, 2019

Emma Green at The Atlantic explores how LGBTQ rights are in a total muddle five years after Obergefell, which seems to have convinced many Americans that this “fixed everything.”

Also, Green interviews Ben Howe, an evangelical and former RedState blogger who has soured on Trump. She doesn’t just let him make his case, though. She grills him. Well played, Green:

Green: So how are you going to fix the grifterism and total cynicism of right-wing media?

Howe: How am I going to fix it?

Green: You’ve anointed yourself, haven’t you?

Jessica Prol Smith of the far-right, anti-gay Alliance Defending Freedom (and before that the perhaps-worse Family Research Council) is the real victim, you see, just like Martin Luther King. In a piece for USA Today railing against the Southern Poverty Law Center, she says the org “weaponizes hate,” and whatever you think of the SPLC, you really have to digest the disgusting irony of that accusation coming from someone whose job it is to enshrine her particular brand of hate into law.

Trump’s Justice Department really wants it to be okay to fire transgender people because they’re transgender. BuzzFeed says, “the latest court filing asks the nation’s top court to establish federal case law in a potentially sweeping setback for LGBTQ rights nationwide.”

New St. Louis County council member Kelli Dunaway was sworn in on a copy of Oh, the Places You’ll Go! which says:

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

Reflecting on Skepticon, James Croft looks at the rift between the secular-skeptic movement’s social justice wing and its opposition who feel they have “lost their safe space”:

No longer could they be the fearless reason-warriors battling religion, unproblematically on the side of good. Now, they had to investigate the ways in which they themselves benefited from a series of secular social structures every bit as powerful and unquestioned as any religion – the secular social dogmas of our age.

Joel Achenbach explores the rise of “eco-fascism,” in which Nazi types use the environment as an excuse for their awfulness:

In recent years, the mainstream environmental movement has moved strongly in the direction of social justice — the opposite of what hate groups seek. Now, the leaders of those organizations fear white nationalists are using green messages to lure young people to embrace racist and nativist agendas. …

… Michelle Chan, vice president of programs for Friends of the Earth, said, “The key thing to understand here is that ecofascism is more an expression of white supremacy than it is an expression of environmentalism.”

This is all happening in a rhetorically and ideologically overheated era in which public discourse is becoming toxic, not only in the dark corners of the Internet but among those occupying the highest elective offices. Environmental activists want to create a sense of urgency about climate change, the loss of biodiversity and other insults to the natural world, but they don’t want their messages to drive people into deranged ideologies.

Steven Salzberg explains what’s wrong with the bill that would make Medicare pay for all of chiropractors’ smorgasbord of snake oil treatments:

Congress, don’t be fooled by arguments that this proposed new law will lower medical costs, or give patients what they need: it won’t. Instead, it will dramatically increase the amount of funds wasted on ineffective treatments.

At The Conversation, Ohio State University communications scholars explain what’s wrong with the glut of satire news online:

The truth is, understanding online political satire isn’t easy. Many satirical websites mimic the tone and appearance of news sites. You have to be familiar with the political issue being satirized. You have to understand what normal political rhetoric looks like, and you have to recognize exaggeration. Otherwise, it’s pretty easy to mistake a satirical message for a literal one.

It’s not just that Andy Borowitz is not funny at all. He’s also destroying America.

Melissa Krawczyk, who heads up our Translations Project, announces that The Blind Watchmaker and River Out of Eden are now available in Arabic translations. Free, of course.

Dr. Jen Gunter disembowels Marriane Williamson’s book Tears to Triumph in a single tweet, calling it an “atrocity”:

I’m half way through and this is the worst book I’ve ever read. For so many reasons. Medical ignorance passed off as enlightenment and terrible writing. Trees died for this crime of a book.

Wily Savage is not a DC comics villain but a band that will play at the Storm Area 51 clusterfudgeapalooza, specifically at a 10-room motel called Rachel’s Little A’Le’Inn (see what she did there?). Slate decided that this band was worth talking to, and they’re not saying it’s aliens:

I like to entertain the ideas. I’m a skeptic at heart, but personally I had a pretty intense UFO experience. I won’t necessarily say it was aliens, but it was definitely beyond my understanding of our current technologies.

Richard Conniff at National Geographic reminds us what life was like before vaccines:

Like most American children of my generation, I lined up with my classmates in the mid-1950s to get the first vaccine for polio, then causing 15,000 cases of paralysis and 1,900 deaths a year in the United States, mostly in children. Likewise, we lined up for the vaccine against smallpox, then still causing millions of deaths worldwide each year.

Religious exemptions to vaccines aren’t always actually about religion. I’m as shocked as you are.

A New Jersey judge has put a hold on the state’s new law allowing for medically-assisted dying.

A “Bigfoot researcher” is looking for the creature in the Kisatachie National Forest in Louisiana, and he goes by the name of “Tex-La.” I assume he is part of Cobra-La.

UN human rights expert Javaid Rehman calls out Iran for its liberal use of the death penalty. AP reports:

Rehman expressed concern that Iran has more than 80 offenses punishable by the death penalty, including adultery, homosexuality, drug possession, “waging war against God, corruption on Earth, blasphemy and insult of the Prophet” Muhammad. He said many of the offenses are not considered serious crimes under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Tara Isabella Burton, I get it:

I cry easily — I cried once, at an embarrassingly advanced age, during a commercial for the snack food Goldfish, because the jingle told me that it’s the snack that smiles back until you bite their heads off. This unilateral cruelty was too horrible to contemplate.

If you decide to buy some goo in a bottle from Jim Bakker and then smear said goo on your naughty bits, you’re asking for trouble. You were probably not asking for cancer, but you might get that too.

Quote of the Day

The Washington Post condemns the president on climate science denial:

The warming will continue. Humanity has steadily shifted the chemistry of the atmosphere, in ways that could not be reversed quickly even if rational policy were being implemented. The carbon dioxide that emerges from smokestacks and tailpipes lingers in the air for decades. All the more reason to change behavior now. Yet, whether for political advantage or out of sheer pigheadedness or both, President Trump continues to deny and ignore reality. It is beyond unforgivable.

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Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is.