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I May Still Be a Little Sad

June 17, 2019

Endorsing a constitutional amendment banning flag-burning (what year is it???), Trump showcases his astounding inability to recognize or process irony by declaring said amendment “a no brainer.”

Law professor Jay Wexler has a big piece at Vox in which he lists things he wishes more people understood about atheists. For example, the whole thing with “under God” in the Pledge and “In God We Trust” on the currency:

I mean, what’s the big deal, right? Shouldn’t we just chillax?

Well, how would you feel if the dollar bill said “There Is No God” and the Pledge of Allegiance proclaimed that we are “one nation under no God whatsoever, yay”? How would you like it if your kids were forced to say that every day before class?

I have a very clear memory of leaving out the “under God” part of the pledge when I was forced to recite it in elementary school, and I’ve talked to countless other atheists who have similar memories. When the government forces you as a kid to affirm something about the nature of the universe that you think is fundamentally incorrect, it tends to stick with you.

And on atheists’ larger place in the culture:

While the Christian majority has occasionally welcomed atheism into the public square, often our presence has been met with ridicule, anger, and derision. … But that’s okay; we atheists tend to have thick skin. We have been putting up with this kind of treatment for a long time, and our numbers are still rising. In the future, I may still be a little sad, but atheism as a whole will likely become a loud, mainstream, and inescapable force in American public life.

Professor of Jewish history James Loeffler writes in The Atlantic that civil rights organizations have a legal tool at their disposal to protect minority groups that they have all but forgotten about, the concept of “group libel.” Here, he discusses why it’s been abandoned:

A rising faith in free speech, equal protection, and due process as the best antidotes for racism and anti-Semitism formed the quintessence of postwar American Jewish civil-rights work. There was a compelling logic to this approach at the time. Eliminate prejudice as a whole, treat everyone as individuals, handle hate speech as an individual pathology best fought in the classroom and church pew rather than the courtroom, and anti-Semitism would vanish together with American racism. … But white supremacists and neo-Nazis also took note [which] began using their freedom of speech to directly target their victims.

WBFO in Buffalo talks to CFI’s Nick Little about our lawsuit against Walmart over their deceptive sale and marketing of homeopathic fake medicine.

After the state of New York ended non-medical exemptions for vaccinations, we gave the legislature a high five:

“Passing this demanded political courage from lawmakers,” said Robyn Blumner, CFI’s President and CEO. “Fueled by outlandish conspiracy theories and misinformation, anti-vaxxers have stoked fear and sown confusion about vaccines, attempting to intimidate legislators from protecting public health. We hope that every state that allows non-medical exemptions will now follow New York’s example today.”

David Gorski shows how for-profit stem cell clinics are using the same playbook as cancer-quack Stanislav Burzynski by taking advantage of the clinical trial process as a marketing tool.

Tara Isabella Burton looks at the $4.2 trillion global “wellness” market (holy crap, right?) comes “encoded with religious promise”:

Wellness culture may not have an established creed, but it has an implicit metaphysic. Energy — nebulously defined — runs through all things. This energy can be good or bad, depending on a variety of factors, but it’s definitely more than a little supernatural.

Another week, another Nevada news outlet checks in with former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid about his desire for the government to open up about UFOs. Via KNPR:

Reid would like Congress to hold public hearings into what the military knows.

“They would be surprised how the American public would accept it,” he said, “People from their individual states would accept it.”

Simón(e) D Sun at Scientific American pushes back against claims that science has somehow decided that sex and gender are absolutely binary:

… the science is clear and conclusive: sex is not binary, transgender people are real. It is time that we acknowledge this. Defining a person’s sex identity using decontextualized “facts” is unscientific and dehumanizing. The trans experience provides essential insights into the science of sex and scientifically demonstrates that uncommon and atypical phenomena are vital for a successful living system.

California State Senator Brian Dahle, along with Redding, California mayor Julie Winter, held a Christians-only town hall. Very little surprises me anymore, but this did make my eyes widen with a shred of amazement.

Now that’s California. Turning to the Anti-California, Texas, we see a different kind of surprise: The religious right didn’t get everything it wanted from the legislative session. David Brockman at the Texas Observer reports:

While lawmakers closely aligned with religious conservatism proposed several measures to enable religion-based discrimination, further blur the line between church and state and attack abortion rights, few of those bills made it to the governor’s desk. And the ones that did were weak or symbolic.

NASA spots the Starfleet insignia on Mars. The only question, really, is whether it’s a result of the Prime or Kelvin timelines.

Quote of the Day

Adam Serwer writes in The Atlantic about how the religious right is eager to ditch liberal democracy when it doesn’t serve their specific ends:

This understanding also helps illuminate the right’s eruption over YouTube’s decision to demonetize (but not remove) the channel of Steven Crowder, a conservative YouTuber who called the Vox reporter Carlos Maza a “lispy queer,” among other slurs. A world in which one can refer to gay people as “lispy queers” without repercussion is one in which the illiberal right is winning the culture war, so it matters little that YouTube is no less a private business than Masterpiece Cakeshop, and has a right to define the rules for using its platform. The same sort of protests that the right decries as illiberal when deployed against right-wing speakers on college campuses are suddenly a legitimate tactic when used against Drag Queen Story Hour. The objective here … is to defeat “the enemy,” not adhere to principle, and that requires destigmatizing anew the kind of bigotry that was once powerful enough to sway elections. …

… The state of emergency occurred when, and only when, liberal democracy ceased to guarantee victory in the culture war. The indignity of fighting for one’s rights within a democratic framework is fine for others, but it is beneath them.

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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.