Last night’s Democratic presidential debate, in which ten candidates were I guess just utterly disappointed in each other, didn’t raise too much that warrants attention/alarm/mockery here, but I did like this line from the climate-focused Jay Inslee, who pushed back on Joe Biden’s plan regarding transitioning from coal, “Your argument is not with me, it’s with science!” That’s moxie, right there.
Also, Inslee wore glasses this time, which as we learned from Rick Perry, means he’s now smarter.
Zack Beauchamp at Vox wants all the gushing over Marianne Williamson at the previous evening’s debate to stop, calling her a “menace to public health”:
At a June campaign stop in New Hampshire, Williamson argued against mandatory vaccination, calling it “Orwellian” and “draconian.” “To me, it’s no different than the abortion debate,” she said. “The US government doesn’t tell any citizen, in my book, what they have to do with their body or their child.” …
… In her book A Return to Love, Williamson wrote that “sickness is an illusion and does not exist,” and that “cancer and AIDS and other physical illnesses are physical manifestations of a psychic scream.” She advised her followers that “seeing sickness as our own love that needs to be reclaimed is a more positive approach to healing than is seeing the sickness as something hideous that we must get rid of.”
Elsewhere in the book, she insists that she’s not saying people shouldn’t take medication. But the upshot of these passages seems to be that people with cancer or AIDS can will themselves back to health.
In the latest Free Inquiry, our boss Robyn Blumner discusses CFI’s efforts to push back against anti-vaxxers, and wisely uses the headline “CFI Thinks Outside the Pox”:
Fighting the anti-vaxxers is the perfect Center for Inquiry (CFI) issue. By standing up for mandatory vaccinations, CFI is able to challenge a particularly potent mix of religious extremism, kooky conspiracy beliefs, the rejection of evidence-based science, and the undermining of public health.
That’s four of our top buckets of work—a superfecta!
The anti-vax movement represents a bizarre coming together of the religious Right and the Big Pharma conspiracy-theory Left. Where there are outbreak clusters you tend to see insular, religious communities, such as the Orthodox Jewish communities of Brooklyn and Rockland County, New York; or the New Age-y, alternative medicine crowd, such as in Vashon Island, Washington.
Prof. Susan Shaw at Ms. Magazine denounces the State Department’s moves to advance “natural law”:
…this new Commission rests on the assumption that the framework of international human rights that has evolved over the past few decades exceeds natural law and natural rights.
By narrowing rights to natural law and natural rights, the Commission can remake the official view of human rights into a contracted reflection of a particular conservative religious stance. Within a framework of natural law as envisioned by the Commission, gay sex, abortion and contraception may be morally wrong; thus, no right to them can exist. Socio-economic rights may not exist either, nor the right to request asylum. The Commission’s findings may also decrease the likelihood of the U.S. speaking out on LGBTQ human rights abuses, such as we’re seeing in Poland, around the world. …
… Seeking a return to natural law and natural rights, as defined by conservative Christians, is not an act of supporting religious liberty; rather, it is the opposite. It is an attempt to impose the belief system of a narrow faction of one religion on a pluralistic U.S. public and the rest of the world. This Commission is a dangerous enterprise that threatens human rights progress and perverts the notion of religious liberty for political gain.
Simran Jeet Singh says he now wears Sikh cultural attire more openly in public as an act of resistance, “a small thing I can do to combat the xenophobia creeping up all around us.”
Remember Miracle Hill Ministries, the adoption agency that insists on discriminating against non-Christians? Well, that meant also excluding Catholics (you know, those heathen papists), but now they’ve slightly altered course and will now allow those Pope-loving, transubstantiating heretics to serve as employees and volunteers and to serve as foster parents. Desperate times, I guess.
A federal judge has temporarily blocked three abortion restrictions in Arkansas. NYT reports:
In Tuesday’s ruling, Judge [Kristine] Baker concluded that all three restrictions — the 18-week ban, a ban on abortions sought because of a diagnosis of Down syndrome, and stricter requirements on who may perform the procedure — all seemed likely to be found unconstitutional based on the evidence provided so far.
“Since the record at this stage of the proceedings indicates that Arkansas women seeking abortions face an imminent threat to their constitutional rights, the court concludes that they will suffer irreparable harm without injunctive relief,” she wrote.
An old Islamic rule that allows a man to divorce a woman by shouting
Beetlejuice “talaq” at her three times has been outlawed in India, which is of course now run by Hindu nationalists, so let’s not get too excited about signs of progress is all I’m saying.
In Myanmar, a government-appointed council of Buddhists has outlawed an ultranationalist faction, the Buddha Dhamma Parahita Foundation.
We need more of this: John Baesler at Smithsonian magazine looks at how polygraphs have been misused to deny people things like employment and, you know, their freedom.
Target ever-so-briefly had for sale a little throw pillow with the word “HUMANIST” embroidered on it, and then suddenly pulled it, allegedly because of “customer feedback.” James Croft loved the pillow:
I am quite impressed with the quality of the pillow. The texture is soft and nubby, the colors are attractive, and the stitching is clear and contemporary. It makes a great addition to my office, although I wish it were just a little bigger – 8/10.
Wow, 8 out of 10. That’s a good pillow. American Humanist Association has a petition to get them to bring it back.
Some guy in Kentucky shot his gun when Bigfoot came near him. Jeff Tavss at WPLG writes, “Quick! Someone make sure the Loch Ness Monster is safe.”
Leah Williams at Gizmodo rounds up some Australia-native cryptids, unfortunately playing up the whole “well you can’t prove they don’t exist” angle, which is very un-Gizmodish.
Dwayne Johnson has expressed opposition to the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope in Hawaii in solidarity with a group of Native Hawaiians who have been protesting the project as a violation of sacred land. Retired Air Force officer John Riess writes an open letter to The Rock to change his mind:
Any astronomical telescope, the TMT included, is the most passive piece of technology imaginable. It collects starlight. … I am a fan of your movies, especially “Moana.” Disney made a considerable effort to portray the Polynesian people in “Moana” authentically and respectfully. … Moana’s people were explorers. It was wrong of the Elders to prohibit seafaring, and potentially fatal to the entire population. Moana wanted to save her people, but she also yearned to see beyond the reef surrounding her island, to see beyond the horizon.
Moana’s counterparts today are the astronomers advocating for the TMT. They want to see beyond the present horizon of human knowledge.
Quote(s) of the Day
Dig this rebuke of Trump’s racist rhetoric, not from a Democratic candidate, but the clergy of the Washington National Freaking Cathedral:
When does silence become complicity? What will it take for us all to say, with one voice, that we have had enough? The question is less about the president’s sense of decency, but of ours.
As leaders of faith who believe in the sacredness of every single human being, we proclaim that the time for silence is over. We must boldly stand witness against the bigotry, hatred, intolerance and xenophobia that is hurled at us, especially when it comes from the highest offices of this nation. We must say that this will not be tolerated. To stay silent in the face of such rhetoric is for us to tacitly condone the violence of these words.
Relatedly, here’s an organization whose existence is overdue—Christians Against Christian Nationalism:
Christian nationalism demands Christianity be privileged by the State and implies that to be a good American, one must be Christian. It often overlaps with and provides cover for white supremacy and racial subjugation. We reject this damaging political ideology and invite our Christian brothers and sisters to join us in opposing this threat to our faith and to our nation.
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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.