Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Frightened and the Insane: Looking at the Latest In Right-Wing Intolerance

If for reasons of indolence or cowardice this fight is not fought to a finish we may imagine what conditions will be like 500 years hence. Little of God’s image will be left in human nature, except to mock the Creator.

- Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf

These last several weeks have brought out the worst and most unreasonable attitudes in people. It must have been the eclipse. Or the full moon. Or Gay Pride parades. 

Let's see, there was: Lou Engle spewing as much hatred as possible behind closed doors; not one, but TWO strikes against DOMA that inflames Tony Perkins' sense of the melodramatic; a HuffPost columnist trying to link Darwin to Hitler; the Call 2 Fall movement on 4th of July causing a lot of bruised knees and egos; the Texas GOP going completely draconian; Sharron Angle hoisting herself by her own petard; and the Phelps clan going to the Supreme Court armed with self-righteous stupidity.

We've covered Lou Engle's attempts to eradicate homosexuality (by eradicating homosexuals) and, quite frankly, if people haven't gotten the message that this is a very, very dangerous man, then no amount of additional, honest but unrestrained rhetoric will seep in. 

"Your honor, we believe the protesters were within their rights because they were nuts."

Before arguing a case before the Supreme Court, it is wise to submit a brief stating your client's case. It is not wise, however, to state that your client (also being your own family) was "hysterical" while exercising their right of free speech. The brief for the defendant in the case of Snyder v. Westboro Baptist Church is a case in point:
Phelps also argued that the church was engaging in public speech on a matter of public concern; that the funeral was a public event; and that the church did not assert provable facts but instead expressed “hyperbolic, figurative, loose, hysterical opinion.”

This is a case that will receive national attention simply because it is so emotional: do dimwitted right wingnuts have any right to spew insanely vile hatred anywhere near something as emotionally charged as a funeral? Remember, these were the same people (stretch of the imagination here) about whom The Laramie Project was based and who have a website featuring Matthew Shepherd engulfed in the flames of hell. The basic rule of humanity - that you NEVER insult widows or orphans or anyone connected to someone who has just died - is breached by people screaming how glad they are that the deceased are dead and rotting in hell! 

If the Phelps clan wins, then every hate-filled group on the planet will be marching with misspelled signs (oops, the Teabaggers already do that). At the very least, their victory will encourage some people to be more uncouth and vile in their protests. But if they lose, the Christian Right will have a very real conundrum on their hands: someone they hate (Phelps is bad PR) will have gotten the heave-ho using their only real defence - free speech. Tony Perkins will have a hard time choosing puns for that article.

It may also be the first time "hate speech" has ever gone to trial on a national scale. Will the "man addicted to hate," the man banned from entering other countries, the man who bred a family of haters, the man who invented passages of the Bible for his own purposes of argument, will that man win?

I shudder at the thought.

Well, Ducky for DOMA!

Sorry, but whenever I see headlines by Tony Perkins, my prose starts to whack to the right. His bon mots, puns and witticisms are as toxic as the BP oil spill and I should be pitied for having to slog through them every day. When district court judge Joseph Tauro decided two cases against DOMA, Perkins had this to say:
Yesterday, a U.S. District Court did its best to preserve Massachusetts's reputation as the most liberal state in America on marriage. In Boston, a federal judge used his gavel to shatter the one law preventing a complete capitulation to same-sex "marriage" at the federal level: DOMA. 

"... gavel to shatter." There's drama (which I like) and then there's melodrama. The characters in Perkins' plays all seem to have a large appetite for scenery. 

In his decision, judge Tauro ...
...stated that he could not find “any identifiable legitimate purpose or discrete objective” for DOMA to treat same-sex couples differently.
Lisa Keen pointed out:
That finding was important because, in 1996 decision, in Romer v. Evans, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that animus cannot be used to justify a law.
Hmmm. Perhaps the same can be said for the Phelps v Snyder case. 

On The Origin of Species Was REALLY Mein Kampf!
Columnist David Klinghoffer wrote a piece last week titled The Dark Side Of Darwin. And readers of the Huffington Post commented accordingly: 
Humans have been killing each other for millenia, we didn't need Darwin to tell us to do it. To claim such is intellectual dishonesty to the extreme.
Lauri Lebo at Religion Dispatches:
In his piece, Klinghoffer recites the tired lie that Hitler was inspired by Darwin’s theory of evolution to force the sterilization of 400,000 people he judged inferior in the quest for racial purity. Klinghoffer, by the way, is a senior fellow of the Discovery Institute, an organization which has been trying to insert religion into public school science classrooms under the guise of intelligent design and anti-evolution lesson plans.
There are, of course, intelligent people in the evolution debate, but an irony lies in the fact that they don't seem to be on the side of intelligent design.

"Spoiled" Nevada Unemployed Have Sharron Angle Coming To Their Rescue!

Nevada U.S. Senatorial GOP candidate, Sharron Angle, the one who promised Harry Reid physical violence via the Second Amendment, has a new attack ad featuring Nevada's high unemployment rate. It would be good strategy if Angle herself hadn't herself said that people receiving unemployment benefits were "spoiled" and that she would have voted against any extension of those benefits. Sort of like saying "you don't deserve jobs, but I'm going to get them for you anyway!" 

Prayers For Fear And Loathing

Sometimes it takes a foreign voice to give us a better perspective of how things really are: Matthew Harwood's article in Britain's Guardian, America's Paranoid Religious Right, gave a fairly good picture of Tony Perkins' Call 2 Fall nationwide 4th of July event. Harwood and his wife attended a Call 2 Fall service in a suburban DC church:
The experience was an insight into the cultural insecurities at work within the religious right and its Christian nationalism – the belief that the United States was, is, and for ever shall be a "Christian nation", utterly dependent on God for its success.
What Harwood experienced was what we, as Americans, have been experiencing on a constant basis: the "Christian nationalism" of which he writes has endeavored to put a strangle-hold on government and our daily lives. And in the process of strangulation, America has had to scream out the injustice:

What originally began as songs of love and sacrifice quickly rot into gay-bashing and the dangerous, yet indistinct talk of enemies everywhere. The room began to take on the darkness of Arthur Miller's Crucible more than the enlightenment of Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence.
This article also begs the question: Just how many degrees of separation are these people from Fred Phelps? Certainly not six. 

No People Evolving or Marrying Queers In Our State! 

And last but certainly not least, America was treated to the latest GOP aberration: the Texas GOP platform, proving that since they don't believe in evolution, Texas GOPers haven't bothered to evolve. 

From Huffington Post's David A. Love:

To round out an astonishing set of policy positions, the Texas Republicans are against any regulations on gun ownership. Oh yeah, and they declare that this is a Judeo-Christian nation. And there should be capital punishment for rape convictions (like the good old days). Deep water oil drilling should resume in the Gulf of Mexico, employers should be able to discriminate, and the minimum wage law should be repealed, they say. No more birthright citizenship -- citizenship by birth would be limited to those born to a U.S. citizen. Finally, the Texas GOP assert that the U.S. should get out of the United Nations.

Of course, tthe Texas GOP may have simply stated which direction other extreme right-wingers in this country really want to move: not right, not left, certainly no forward, but - you guessed it - backwards.

An emotional vandalism case hits the big time. A Senate candidate runs a clueless attack ad. A repudiation of DOMA creates some serious melodrama. The 4th of July incites prayers of paranoia. An egregious link between Darwin and Hitler surfaces. yet again. A party platform takes its clues from the Dark Ages. Whatever brought all this on? 

I dunno. But as surely as you can say "rabid right" we'll have more of the same. 

Pass the hemlock.