Friday 31 August 2012

Asking For It

So, this Franciscan dude in a dress friar accuses young sex-abuse victims of seducing the poor hapless priests.
"Suppose you have a man having a nervous breakdown, and a youngster comes after him. A lot of the cases, the youngster -- 14, 16, 18 -- is the seducer," said Groeschel, the host of a weekly show called Sunday Night Prime.

"Well, it's not so hard to see -- a kid looking for a father and didn't have his own -- and they won't be planning to get into heavy-duty sex, but almost romantic, embracing, kissing, perhaps sleeping but not having intercourse or anything like that."

The New York-based clergyman with the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal went on to say he doesn't think child sex abusers should be tried on their first offence.

"...I'm inclined to think, on their first offence, they should not go to jail because their intention was not committing a crime."

Groeschel sympathized with former Penn State University assistant football coach and serial child molester Jerry Sandusky.

"Here's this poor guy -- Sandusky -- it went on for years ... Why didn't anyone say anything?"
After the predictable shitstorm hit, everybody concerned walked it back and apologized. No, no, no, that's not what he/I meant. And besides he's an old fart who has medical issues.

Riiight. But this is no obscure loony Todd Akin in a frock.

He's quite a big noise in the Vatican Taliban.
Father Benedict Joseph Groeschel, C.F.R., (born July 23, 1933) is a Catholic priest, retreat master, author, psychologist, activist and host of the television talk program Sunday Night Prime with Father Benedict Groeschel, which is broadcast on the Eternal Word Television Network. He has also hosted several serial religious specials in addition to Sunday Night Prime. He is the director of the Office for Spiritual Development for the Catholic Archdiocese of New York as well as associate director of Trinity Retreat[1] and the executive director of The St. Francis House.[2] He is professor of pastoral psychology at St. Joseph's Seminary in New York and an adjunct professor at the Institute for Psychological Sciences in Arlington, Virginia. He is one of the founders of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal.
These little 'off-leash' comments are entirely in keeping with his history and beliefs.
Groeschel has also been a highly visible Catholic activist, first in the civil rights movement. He publicly criticizes insulting depictions of the church in popular culture and the media. In September 1998, he led protests outside of an Off-Broadway theater in New York City against the production of Terrence McNally’s play Corpus Christi.[17] In his 2002 book, From Scandal to Hope, he accused The Boston Globe, The New York Times and The San Francisco Chronicle of revealing anti-Catholic prejudice in their respective coverage of the sexual abuse scandal that disrupted the church. “Seldom in the history of journalism have I seen such virulent attacks on any institution that is supposed to receive fair treatment in the press,” he wrote.
His Wiki page desperately needs updating.

Definition of Insanity

Back in May, Chantal Hébert predicted that the failure of Woodworth's Wank, aka Motion 312, would be a 'crushing defeat to the anti-abortion cause'.

Not if events in Colorado are any guide.

We remember Colorado, don't we? Where twice so-called personhood initiatives have suffered what any sane person would call 'crushing' defeats -- like 3 to 1 votes against?

The monomaniacs are at it again only this time they failed to get the required number of valid signatures to put the initiative on the November ballot.

(One reason that Colorado keeps getting targetted, I learned, is that the required number for such a ploy is relatively low, compared to other states. Personhood failed in ultra-conservative Mississippi by a majority of 55 per cent in 2010. Surely, it can't be good for the cause to continue to get stomped by such wide margins in a more liberal state like Colorado? But then, as the M312 fiasco here has demonstrated again, intelligence is NOT fetus fetishists' strong suit.)

They needed 86,105 signatures and submitted 112,121. But a bunch were deemed invalid.

How many were 'invalid'?
The State of Colorado rejected 23,873 signatures as invalid. By my math, that is 21 percent of the signatures.
That's a whack of dishonesty and/or incompetence. Or, of course, both.

And a look at the actual text of the amendment reveals more of the usual chicanery.

The amendment’s text would make it illegal to intentionally kill “any innocent person”—with “person” defined as “every human being regardless of the method of creation,” and “human being” defined as “a member of the species homo sapien[s] at any stage of development.”

But the proposed text doesn’t define what to my theological ears is the more provocative term: “innocent.” 

Presumably, its use here is meant to do several things: (1) portray the fetus as an agent with moral standing, one in need of protection; (2) allow for the taking of guilty human life (since many social conservatives support the death penalty while also being opposed to abortion); and (3) contrast the innocence of the fetus with the guilt of the father. Indeed, on the last point, the amendment draws this contrast specifically: “No innocent child created through rape or incest shall be killed for the crime of his or her father.” 

But notice, where rape and incest are concerned, it is only the fetus’ innocence that’s stipulated.
They've gotten around any difficulties with the death penalty but kinda left somebody out of this careful moral balance, haven't they?

As per fucking usual, the woman is nowhere to be found.

Well, as we now know from wingnut science, if a woman gets pregnant from rape, it wasn't a legitimate rape. She must have enjoyed it, at least a little, eh?

Now that they've lost three times -- twice in thundering electoral failures, once caught in flimflammery -- they'll give up, right?

Personhood USA vowed to fight the Colorado rejection in court. The group argues some of the signatures were improperly rejected, including some on which a notary public changed a date.

"We are going to be filing to have those ballot signatures recounted, and we are confident personhood will be on ballots this fall," Mason said.
To those of us who've been thinking that a MASSIVE defeat on Woodworth's Wank will shut our fetus fetishists up for a while, I have three words: Not bloody likely.

Reminder: the final hour of debate on M312 is scheduled for September 21, with the vote on September 26. If you haven't already done so, shoot your MP a little note about how you'd like her or him to vote.

Thursday 30 August 2012

From the Department of Duh

The US National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy has released an earth-shattering survey.

Three-quarters (75%) of adults think policymakers who are opposed to abortion should be strong supporters of birth control, according to a new survey commissioned by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

Regarding sex education, more than 6 in 10 adults (65%) believe federally funded programs designed to prevent teen pregnancy should provide teens with information about both postponing sex and using birth control rather than either/or.In addition, most adults believe that taxpayer supported programs should focus on results rather than ideology -- 72% say that federal funds should primarily support those programs that have been proven to change behavior related to teen pregnancy. Nearly 7 in 10 (68%) adults surveyed believe their community needs more efforts to prevent teen pregnancy.
In other words, three-quarters of USians think the Rapepublicans, now featuring VP candidate, Paul ('Rape is a Method of Conception') Ryan, are totally out to fucking lunch.

And how do we here in the lawless north compare?
American teenagers are still getting pregnant at a higher rate than in other developed countries, including Canada. While the U.S. celebrates the decline to 67.8 pregnancies per 1,000 girls 15 to 19 years old in 2008, the latest Canadian statistic shows that in 2005, only 24.6 out of 1,000 girls aged 14 to 19 became pregnant.
A country with no abortion law, widespread comprehensive sex education, and a saner attitude towards sex in general has fewer than half the teen pregnancies of our christotaliban neighbour?


Teen pregnancy rate map source.

Tuesday 28 August 2012

What's new, Pussy Riot?
There's more than meets the (public) eye, it appears.

In 2007 I wrote about the social and political, pervasive and persistent, institutional oppression of women in Russia. The change in regime, from diluted Stalinist communism to criminal corporative and oligarchy-driven capitalism has not improved the living circumstances of women. It's the same-old same-old patriarchy, in a different guise.

It would seem gynophobia rules within organizations pledged to denouncing Putin's neo-totalitarianism. For example, Voina that spawned Pussy Riot.

This French abolitionist feminist organization is very critical of les rapports de force between the male and female artists that founded Voina. It deconstructs and savages its protest performances.
You can measure the degree of feminism of an action by how men react to it, and if men collectively cheer and celebrate it, then you can be pretty sure there’s something wrong about it, or that it doesn’t somehow support our liberation from men. And as far as I can recall, even the slutwalks didn’t get as much coverage or public appraisal. What was it that men liked so much about Pussy Riot?

Well, under closer inspection I discovered that the high level of coverage was related to – though indirectly – promoting men’s right to women’s sexual subordination and the pornification of our movement. The arrested women actually form part (and are victims of) a mixed anarchist group called “Voina” (meaning “war”), founded in 2007 by two men called Oleg Vorotnikov and Leonid Nikolaïev, who regularly engage the women in extreme and degrading women-hating pornography as part of their public “political stunts”. Some of Voina’s men have actually already been incarcerated in 2011 for hooliganism – which is punished for 7 years of prison in Russia, but their bail was paid for by an artist named “Banksy” four months after their imprisonment. (More information can be found here and here)

Included in their anti-government actions are a “public orgy” in the national museum of biology in a room full of stuffed bears, where several men anally penetrated their female partners in a position of submission, including one heavily pregnant women, as a metaphor to “bugger/fuck Medvedev”. “Medved” means “bear”, hence all the stuffed bears – this was meant to be symbolic, artistic and revolutionary according to the activists. Here the male anarchists literally used women as dead bodies or receptacles through which to make a political point to other men. Violating women as a means to offend other men is nothing else but an age-old patriarchal mechanism – behind which the intended target are us, for men to bond over our annihilation.

Another planned stunt in the name of “sexual freedom”, inspired by extreme forms of pornography such as zoophilia/ necrophilia, includes a member of Pussy Riot masturbating with a dead chicken in a supermarket under the watch and camera of the anarchist males, after which she inserts the dead chicken entirely into her vagina and hobbles with the chicken inside her out of the supermarket.

More about Voina, and its high-profile, confrontational media events from Libération (google translation provided).

Isn't it tediously predictable that the female members of Voina would be assigned submissive roles?

Think how much more visually transgressive the anti-Medvedev event would have been, had Voina women, equiped with strap-on godemichets, sodomized its men. A MASSIVE role reversal and gender fuck for misogynists. Signify THAT!

Unlikely it would happen though. It's evident that the weeny-waggers in Voina are controlling, macho chauvinists. They're unwilling to abandon their sexual fetishization of women - purportedly their equals - and their position of phallic privilege, particularly in their deliberate choice of agonic-imbued actions fuelling their campaign of provocations aimed at Putin and his male-dominated bureaucracy.

DJ! earlier posts about Pussy Riot, here and here. Perhaps the event staged in the Moscow cathedral was not only directed at Putin and Kirill, but also a statement of feminist revolt and revulsion against the Voina misogynists. I would hope so.

Asking a Clear Question: Who Decides?

This question should be included in every abortion poll.

Republicans for Choice wanted to know: Who decides?
"Regardless of how you personally feel about the issue of abortion," the polls, which surveyed 1,000 adults, asks, "who do you believe should have the right to make that decision regarding whether to have an abortion… [?] should the woman, her family and her doctor make the decision or should the government make the decision?"

Predictably, 89 percent of Democrats believed "strongly" that the woman should decide.

More remarkably, 71 percent of Republicans and 80 percent of independents also believed strongly that the woman should decide. An additional 10 percent of Republicans believed "not strongly" that the woman should decide, and a total of 81 percent who identified as "pro-life" responded that the woman should decide.

"We challenge ALL national pollsters to include this main question (Q1) in all of their surveys to test the validity of this outcome," Republicans for Choice said in a press statement.

The results portray a much different picture from that of a Gallup poll in May, which found pro-choice identification at its lowest point - 41 percent - since Gallup began asking respondents to label themselves.
Here's the Gallup poll from May that had fetus fetishists crowing in glee. It asked people their 'self-identified position' on abortion.

'Pro-choice' and 'pro-life' have become such loaded and muddied terms that in 2010 NPR changed its policy on language.
"NPR News is revising the terms we use to describe people and groups involved in the abortion debate.

This updated policy is aimed at ensuring the words we speak and write are as clear, consistent and neutral as possible. This is important given that written text is such an integral part of our work.

On the air, we should use "abortion rights supporter(s)/advocate(s)" and "abortion rights opponent(s)" or derivations thereof (for example: "advocates of abortion rights"). It is acceptable to use the phrase "anti-abortion", but do not use the term "pro-abortion rights".

Digital News will continue to use the AP style book for online content, which mirrors the revised NPR policy.

Do not use "pro-life" and "pro-choice" in copy except when used in the name of a group. Of course, when the terms are used in an actuality they should remain." [An actuality is a clip of tape of someone talking. So if a source uses those terms, NPR will not edit them out.]
'Clear, consistent, and neutral' is essential for reporting. It is also essential in polling.

The ReThuglicans are shovelling shit against the tide on this issue. When will they wake up? After they get slaughtered in the next election?

Monday 27 August 2012

Confronting Delusion

There's a brilliant opinion piece in Psychology Today that exposes and guts every single odious anti-Choice, so-called pro-life right-wing rhetoric and sexism perpetrated upon women.
Utilizing a philosophy, or rather a ruse, grounded in a fundamental religiosity and self-declared moral high ground, pro-lifers claim abortion is an affront to the sanctity of life. If one truly asserts for the sanctity of life, though, it needs to be without glaring exceptions, otherwise it smacks of hypocrisy.

Congressman Akin is hardly alone among rank-and-file Republicans. Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s Vice Presidential running mate, is a vociferous advocate for subjugating women’s rights. In October, Mr. Ryan cosponsored and voted in favor of the "Protect Life Act" act – an incredibly paradoxical name for a bill that would allow hospitals receiving federal funds to deny a woman an emergency abortion, even when one is needed to save her life. Ryan’s extreme views on women’s reproductive health don’t stop there: He is opposed to abortion in all cases, even for victims of rape and incest, and would ban the most common form of birth control.

These are provocative positions for a potential VP and beg a number of questions: Shouldn’t the health and life of a mother be equally cherished? If a mother with children is denied a life-saving abortion, her surviving progeny will be left motherless. What of their potential futures?

Moreover, does the veneration of life terminate once a fetus is born? Given conservative efforts to disband the EPA and their resistance to specific environmental safeguards that protect the life of a child – like limiting extremely harmful mercury emissions, among others[vii] – one must begin to wonder if this debate is even about human life. Do pro-lifers only cherish life prior to birth? Once the baby is born, does it become less precious? And why do conservatives consistently vote to degrade children’s wellbeing for the sake of profit? If it sounds all too bizarre, it is. What’s really going on here?
It's the US christian Sharia right-wing and fundamentalist assault on girls' and women's rights, aka the War on Women, which Con CPC MP Stephen Woodworth brought to Canada when he introduced M312.

Merci to atheist mommy for the link.

Debating Delusion

The longer I follow the ravings of fetus fetishists, the more I'm convinced their photos should illustrate the encyclopedia entry for magical thinking.

They want to believe something so badly they can twist anything to their purpose.

Today's example: over at Big Blue Batshittery, SHE links to this profile of the guy who thinks violated vaginas produce spermicide.

Here is the entire post.
I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Jack Willke two years ago at a pro-life conference.

One of the things that he said that surprised me the most was that when [he] studied medicine way back in the 1950's, he did not know whether a fetus was a human life.

He had to investigate the question and come to his own conclusion on the matter, because it was not taught in medical school.

I think this ignorance of the unborn was what led to the legalization of abortion.

Henry Morgentaler would have studied medicine at about the same period. The two men are about the same age.

It could explain why Morgentaler had no qualms about performing abortions.
Willke had to 'investigate' the question of whether a fetus is human.

When he was in medical school.

'Way back' in the 1950s.

When, you know, medical knowledge was so feeble that scientists managed only to develop the polio vaccine, medical ultrasonography, heart-lung machine, pacemaker, kidney transplants, and in vitro fertilization.

Oh, and they were working on the first oral contraceptive, which was approved in 1960.

Yup. Benighted times.

And medical schools were teaching We Really Aren't Sure What's in Those Big Bellies.

Which led to Willke's heroic investigation and Morgentaler's continuing ignorance.

And people who can believe that want to form a parliamentary committee, bring in 'experts', and debate When the State Takes Charge of Women's Uteruses.

This is why sane people say: We don't debate delusional nutbars.

Sunday 26 August 2012

Two frivolities...or are they? (UPDATED)

In keeping with my current practice of only posting frivolously, I think many of you may be amused by a blogfriend's take on the Akin "legitimate rape" flap. From Brando:

“As a woman, I have excellent WHORDAR,” said former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-UH). “You don’t go on television, whip out a pair of words like ‘legitimate rape,’ and then say, ‘Ooh, I was just trying to have a platonic pro-life dialog, I wasn’t trying to get everyone all hot and bothered.’ He was being a family values whore.”

And, once again like clockwork, it's time for another "End of Men" article from the New York Times (h/t Naked Capitalism):

If a woman wants to have a baby without a man, she just needs to secure sperm (fresh or frozen) from a donor (living or dead). The only technology the self-impregnating woman needs is a straw or turkey baster, and the basic technique hasn’t changed much since Talmudic scholars debated the religious implications of insemination without sex in the fifth century. If all the men on earth died tonight, the species could continue on frozen sperm. If the women disappear, it’s extinction.

While the article strikes up a nominally progressive tone, I'm not exactly sure what to think about this genre. It's quite popular. But the truth is, women have been raising children without men since forever, even under highly patriarchal circumstances. Men were never not mostly superfluous to the physical process of human reproduction. Now, hypothetically, we have moved from a situation from where a community needs access to only one human male (obviously, in the milking cage, humanely fed, watered, and exercised of course) to one where the community needs zero. Et bien?

Of course, there are all kinds of interesting things to discuss about the sex and gender arrangement in humanity's future, the most interesting of which, in my opinion, certainly do relate to how we connect social and biological parenthood. But this specific question---the insemination issue---seems to me to be the least interesting of them. Well, at least until deBeauxOs starts distributing the milking cages insofar as it hardly appears that, despite everything, women want to abolish the male sex.

In the meantime, let's go off an enjoy some more sci-fi gender dystopias...

UPDATE: Somehow I never actually got to the actual point of what I wanted to say, because I kind of got distracted by shiny things, which happens all the time.

Well, the point is that there is a real and valid anxiety here worth discussing, but this sort of article has the general effect of misdirecting it. Technological and social change has allowed (some) women to change their status and role, more or less consciously. For obvious reasons, this means that the male role has been destabilized, more or less unconsciously. This has been experienced by much of the male population, more or less, as anything from a mild and pleasant surprise to a full-blown, apoplexy-inducing existential crisis.

I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that for the foreseeable and perhaps even unforeseeable future, a large chunk of the male population are going to be biological parents, a large chunk will be social parents, and there will be a large overlap between these two groups. In which case, there are interesting things to discuss about what that is going to look like, because it probably won't look exactly like the 1950s something-topia and historical anomaly.

But this genre of articles that focuses on reifying the mathematical consequences of male gamete hyper-production is about the only thing you'll see in mainstream media on the subject on any regular basis. And immediately is the whole discussion short-circuited to trite clichés about gender stereotypes.

And to close off this long "update" and reward you for your patience, I will now proceed to present you with the DJ vision of the male role in society:

The Shore of Women by Pamela Sargent cover

The spiky crown thing is particularly important.

Friday 24 August 2012

Open Thread: Confess Your Embarrassing Gaffes

OK. Godel Noodle and I are having fun in the comments here, confessing embarrassing gaffes.

I'm declaring an open thread for anyone else who wants to join.

I'll reprise my (first) offering:
Embarrassing gaffes: In Grade 11, I had read Albert Camus but had never heard the name pronounced. So when I bragged to the snotty big-mouth class intellectual. . .
Top that. ;-)

Thursday 23 August 2012

Are we in the 21st century?

Everything *old* is new again.

In a political climate where the ideological dogma & lies of christian Sharia influence public policy and legislation, this casual display of racism should come as no surprise.

Who would believe that items on the menu from Toronto's Holy Chuck Burgers called "The Half-breed" and "The Dirty Drunken Half-Breed" are appetizing?

What, no "Lard Black Beef Pucky" dusted with gold flakes?

via a tweet from Lynda Kitchikeesic.

ADDED by fh: Check out twitter timeline. Seems Holy Chuck Burger got larned a lesson.

UPDATE, August 28/12: Confirmed by enterprising tweep. Lesson learned.

Wednesday 22 August 2012

Her Own Damn Fault (Part Umpty-Eleven)

This is a cool science story.
Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan have identified a hormone in semen that nudges a woman's body to ovulate. It's a finding that could potentially open up new testing and treatment of infertility in both women and men, and might explain some "oops" babies.
Researchers go looking for something, find it, find out it's not new, but that they've found a new function for it.
Veterinary biomedical sciences Prof. Gregg Adams, who is with the university's Western College of Veterinary Medicine, says he expected to find a brand new protein in the seminal fluid. Much to their surprise, they found this poorly-understood protein (called ovulation-inducing factor or OIF) is the same molecule as an old friend in the nervous system that's critical for normal neuron function.

"I didn't know whether to laugh or cry in my beer after that," Adams said.
On Twitter, Lynne A said: 'I bet the RWNJ Conservatives will make this about women.'

Easy-peasy, I said.
The presence of OIF may also explain why some women ovulate -- and get pregnant -- when they didn't think they were ovulating. Adams said follicles in the ovaries experience waves of activity, and it's on a third and final wave when the ovary spits out an egg. The presence of OIF from semen might be enough of a nudge to prompt an ovary to push out an egg on an earlier wave.
So, RWNJ will say: sluts have too much sex. Lotta that OIF stuff up there, fools the ovary into 'spitting out' an egg, and presto! It's the slut's fault!

BTW, in addition to 'spitting', there's more odd language in the piece.
In species like cows and humans, ladies ovulate in a cycle, but they, too, are influenced by the protein called OIF (or ovulation-inducing factor), Adams said.

Oo. Lady cows and lady humans.

We've come a long way, baby. ^NOT

Monday 20 August 2012


In case you missed it, here's the Tea Party gaffe du jour (video at link).
Senate Candidate and Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) told a local television station on Sunday that “legitimate rape” rarely produces pregnancy because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Akin cited conversations with unnamed doctors for the bizarre claim.

Twitter went batzoid. In my opinion, Kaili Joy Gray won the Intertoobz with:
Pregnancy is just a woman's way of consenting retroactively.
(By the way, here's a real sciencey paper on rape related pregnancy, a brief history of politicians' use of this canard, and a history of the BAD (biased, agenda-driven) science behind it.)

While Akin issued a statement later saying he'd 'misspoken', he did not retract the claim.

Why would he? He believes it. He was also co-sponsor -- with VP candidate Paul Ryan -- of the attempt to redefine 'forcible rape'.

Akin belongs to a church called the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) and hold a Masters in Divinity from its college.
A 2001 PCA report on the prospect of women serving in combat positions in the military, titled "Man's Duty to Protect Woman," states, "woman is the weaker sex and part of her weakness is the vulnerability attendant to her greatest privilege-that God has made her the 'Mother of all the living.' Men are to guard and protect her as she carries in her womb, gives birth to, and nurses her children." 

Yes, that was written in 2001, not 1001.

In its lengthy position papers on abortion, the PCA has made clear that what it claims are biblical prohibitions on abortion should take precedence over any other law, because of its views on the separation of church and state.
But there's more. Not only is he a proud Dominionist, he's linked to a batshitcrazier branch of it -- Christian Supremacists.

So what? you're thinking. The US is full of religious nuts.

Thing is, we got 'em here too. Maybe not as many, but in prominent and influential positions.

Look what Dave at the Galloping Beaver wrote in 2008.

And they're still at it. In fact, one of the Astroturf groups backing Woodworth's Wank is a project of one of these gangs.

Here's their avowed mission:
The mission of ARPA Canada is to educate, equip, and encourage Reformed Christians to political action and to shine the light of God’s Word to Canada’s municipal, provincial, and federal governments.
Think Woodworth's Wank is merely a typical mealy-mouthed Canadian effort to have a civilized 'discussion'?

Think again. Not only is Woody's Wank authored by a member of an older theocracy, it is enthusiastically supported by exactly the same kind of nutters as Todd Akin.

In the US, Dominionists want to redefine 'rape'. In Canada, Dominionists just want to redefine 'person'.

BONUS: Amy Davidson at the New Yorker. Excellent deconstruction.

Saturday 18 August 2012

Unicorns and Fetuses

I've just discovered Lynn Beisner*, by way of Steph Herold.

Why the Christian Right Is Wrong about Abortion
I learned a dirty little secret in Bible college: It is easier to prove the existence of unicorns by using the Bible than it is to establish the personhood of a fetus. In fact, it is so hard to make a case against abortion using Christian scripture that for decades most Evangelicals did not even try. Instead, their leaders were silent on the issue or told their followers that abortion was part of the larger feminist agenda to destroy families.
So what changed?

A deal was made.
We know from those who were present at the birth of the Christian Right that it was actually a series of horse-trades by powerful men in conservative religious groups. Each group came with its own non-negotiable agenda and problems with the agendas of others. Catholics demanded that any alliance they joined must back the Pope’s edict against abortion, but Evangelicals were resistant since there was not enough in the Bible about fetuses to support a ban on abortion. Evangelicals, on the other hand, needed an unfettered capitalist market to perpetuate their dominance, and that ran afoul of the Catholic Church’s teachings about economic and social justice. Catholics agreed to down-play the issue of social justice (which is why Nuns on the Bus is such a problem), and Evangelicals agreed to take an anti-abortion stance despite the lack of Biblical support for it.
She goes on to say that many Evangelical Christians lack in 'biblical literacy' (not too surprising when one considers their regular literacy) and don't know that there is so little support in the bible for fetal personhood.

She thinks they can be persuaded to abandon the personhood movement and are, in fact, looking for an 'escape clause'.
The one problem that I can foresee is that the Biblical teaching about personhood does not come in one easily quotable package. But if gay rights leaders could find a way of countering the passages in the Bible which are explicitly anti-homosexual, we can counter the incredibly weak and nebulous Biblical arguments against reproductive rights. It is up to the witty writers of our movement to craft succinct and even humorous arguments that will go viral across social media.

I don't know if we have enough fundies in Canada to make this tactic worthwhile. I've always been told that a basic difference between USian and Canadian fetus fascists is that theirs are predominantly Evangelical while ours are Catholic.

But I know a witty writer who's got the feminist, Christian, socialist chops to pull it off.

Go read the whole thing.

*Lynn Beisner is a pseudonym. Read about her life in 'I wish my mother had aborted me'.

UPDATE: Luna turns in her homework and a dandy read it is too.

Friday 17 August 2012

Weaseldicks Vladimir and Kirill silence dissidents.

They are trying to muzzle the members of Pussy Riot and their supporters. To no avail, as this statement from Yekaterina Samutsevich goes viral, alongside their protest video.
During the closing statement, the defendant is expected to repent or express regret for her deeds, or to enumerate attenuating circumstances. In my case, as in the case of my colleagues in the group, this is completely unnecessary. Instead, I want to express my views about the causes of what has happened with us.

The fact that Christ the Savior Cathedral had become a significant symbol in the political strategy of our powers that be was already clear to many thinking people when Vladimir Putin’s former [KGB] colleague Kirill Gundyaev took over as head of the Russian Orthodox Church. After this happened, Christ the Savior Cathedral began to be used openly as a flashy setting for the politics of the security services, which are the main source of power [in Russia].

Why did Putin feel the need to exploit the Orthodox religion and its aesthetics? After all, he could have employed his own, far more secular tools of power—for example, national corporations, or his menacing police system, or his own obedient judiciary system. It may be that the tough, failed policies of Putin’s government, the incident with the submarine Kursk, the bombings of civilians in broad daylight, and other unpleasant moments in his political career forced him to ponder the fact that it was high time to resign; otherwise, the citizens of Russia would help him do this. Apparently, it was then that he felt the need for more convincing, transcendental guarantees of his long tenure at the helm. It was here that the need arose to make use of the aesthetics of the Orthodox religion, historically associated with the heyday of Imperial Russia, where power came not from earthly manifestations such as democratic elections and civil society, but from God Himself.

Powerful, lucid, trenchant.

The Putin-controlled court may have sentenced the trio to prison for their challenge to his glorious national immanence, but the international media winners of this confrontation are clearly the women. Other dissidents, as well as those opposed to Putin's totalitarianism, are the windfall beneficiaries.
The Putin system has made a PR catastrophe out of a situation that could have been easily contained with an administrative fine for a public order offence. Its actions have also revealed its clear desire to align itself closely with the Orthodox Church as a source of political support. The visible price of this policy has been the fusion of the Church’s principles and values with the “legal” process in the trial of the Pussy Riot activists.
The result has been to sow divisions within the ruling elite about how to handle the case and, at the same time, to create new dividing lines in society, including among Orthodox believers, about the type of justice that should be applied to Pussy Riot and the form it should take.

The authorities have also gifted a rallying point to the nascent and amorphous political opposition. Paradoxically, this comes at a time when opposition forces are struggling to rekindle the protest mood that swept Moscow in March during the run-up to the presidential election.

How is it that the Putin system was able to produce these outcomes that run counter to its interests of dividing the opposition and demonstrating the futility of protest?
There is more. Unlike the New York Times which dismissed the Pussy Riot's deliberately engineered protest as a "stunt", other media have considered the dissidence, the trial and the outcome.
In a chilling passage of the verdict read aloud in a Moscow court today, three members of punk group Pussy Riot were said to be "motivated by religious enmity and hatred". A reasonable response might be that those who have locked up these young singers for the crime of blasphemy in Vladimir Putin's Russia were motivated by religious bigotry and fear.

Far from being hooligans, as the prosecution alleged, the three feminists were unconventional campaigners whose anti-Putin songs in a Moscow Cathedral achieved a much vaster audience than originally anticipated.

The Kremlin's foolish over-reaction, which included keeping the band members in custody and away from their families for five months, led it to a lose-lose situation today. Hand down the full sentence of seven years and incur the wrath of international condemnation; let them go free and appear weak.

No open society can brutally suppress free expression in the name of preserving other people from offence. If such suppression becomes the norm, it will inevitably be mobilised at the convenience of those in power. So it is, by all accounts, in Moscow now. The scenes outside the courtroom today, which included the bundling into a police van of former chess champion Garry Kasparov, suggest the country's slide into autocracy is, if anything, accelerating.
The Pussy Riot saga (DJ! original post last month).

It appears Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, one of the three women sentenced today, has a Canadian connection through her husband.


Woodworth's Wank has been insultingly dishonest from the get-go.

As JJ said:

But no. Woody thought he was sooooo clever. Faffing about with talk of a '400-year old law' that needed 'modernizing' with input from experts.

If they were serious about imprecise, antiquated language, there is a simple fix as JJ has pointed out repeatedly on Twitter. In sec. 223 of the Criminal Code change 'human being' to 'person'. There. Problem solved.

But no. Because while SHRIEEEKING (as usual for Fetus Fascists) that their cute little ploy had nothing zip zero nada rien to do with abortion, it is about if not personhood then about gestational limits to abortion.

The ploy itself is a lie. And the ensuing 'campaign' has been a laff riot.
Why Lifesite would choose to publish this less-than-encouraging data at the height of the battle of words & wits over Motion 312 is a mystery.  But then again, why not: it’s in line with the haphazard and utterly clueless way the rest of the M312 campaign has been run, a confused and riotous crusade of Twitterspam, fetusmobiles, inconsistencies, transparent lies and general dumbness.  For an initiative thought by some to be the last kick at the anti-abortion can for a long, long time, the ineptitude of its handling has been breathtaking to behold.

And fun to watch.  Did I mention fun to watch?
They could have salvaged some cred by -- as I relentlessly asked -- offering up some examples of experts MPs should hear from should M312 pass.

Fumbled that ball too.

While JJ finds it fun to watch -- and it has been -- I'm getting really bored. (Betcha regular DJ! readers hit that wall months ago.)

It's soon over. The second and final hour of 'debate' is on September 21, with the vote on September 26.

How big will the FAIL WHALE be? According to ARCC, there are 108 anti-choice MPs. Those among that number with any political sense or ambition in Stevie Spiteful's caucus are booking dental appointments for September 26 as we speak.

How many will be left? I'm thinking Woody will be lucky to get 70 yeas.

What do you think?

Thursday 16 August 2012

Harper Government Has Angered the CMA

Remember this?

That scene, a physician disrupting a CPC government event or interrupting a Harper Cabinet Minister, occured several times as Bill C-31 with provisions that reduce the quality of healthcare that refugees could receive when in medical crisis, is challenged.

The Canadian Medical Association's annual general council meeting is currently being held in Yellowknife. Yesterday it passed this motion.
[...] delegates called on the federal government to reject attempts by a Conservative backbench MP to amend the Criminal Code [...]

“This constitutes the criminalization of abortion or any form of contraception,” said Dr. Geneviève Desbiens, a urologist from Valleyfield, Que.

“This change could even prevent a pregnant woman from travelling or taking certain drug treatments,” she said.

Dr. Desbiens also warned that doctors who counsel or provide abortion services could become criminals.

Currently, subsection 223(1) of the Criminal Code states that a fetus “becomes a human being within the meaning of this Act when it has completely proceeded, in a living state, from the body of its mother…”

Stephen Woodworth, a Conservative MP from Kitchener-Centre has tabled a private member’s bill to have the part of the Code changed. Motion M-312 is slated to go to a vote in Parliament this fall.

The CMA, which represents the country’s 76,000 physicians, interns, residents and medical students, has a policy saying that abortion is an ethically acceptable medical practice as long as the fetus is not viable.

Dr. Robin Saunders, a family physician from Sooke, B.C., and chair of the group’s ethics committee said M-312 is a “backdoor path to enacting restrictions on abortion.” The CMA has a long history of supporting free choice.
The CMA has called as well for
a full diagnosis of the health and environmental effects of natural resource development — particularly in Alberta’s oilsands — as a national debate continues to rage over energy issues.

Delegates to the Canadian Medical Association’s annual general council meeting overwhelmingly endorsed a resolution asking for public and timely access to all government and industry data on the potential human health effects of “natural resource extraction projects.”

Physicians also backed a call for better monitoring of the environmental and health impacts of such initiatives.

Whether there is any effect from the oilsands is unclear, but the issue has become “a hugely emotional and highly politicized” one, Yellowknife physician Dr. Ewan Affleck said Wednesday.

“When our patients come to us and say, ‘Everyone in our community is getting cancer and we’re scared,’ we’re not sure what to answer,” Affleck said. “Maybe they’re right, maybe they’re wrong. There hasn’t been clarity.

“All we’re asking for — it’s not a blameworthy thing — is our hope to just have data in order to provide effective care to our patients, because it’s unclear whether there is a health effect.”
Members of the Harper government have also been singled for scrutiny on public health issues: Kenney - as mentioned and MP Kellie Leitch for her support of asbestos export.

Friday 10 August 2012

Personhood: 'Against Science & Scripture'

Yay! I got an answer to my question: 'What experts would pro-Wankers propose MPs listen to on prebornchildology if M312 passes?

This morning I noticed that SUZY said:
‪@j_tick‬ ‪@fernhilldammit‬ Scott Gilbert. I think he'd come up to Canada to give his information. ‪#M312‬
Note lack of helpful link for a quite common name.

I googled and hit this as most likely, but alas it has no linkie either.
Biologist Scott Gilbert, an expert in human development, tells us that there are at least four distinct moments that can be thought of as the beginning of human life. Each can be said to be biologically accurate.
Googled some more and found this.
Professor Gilbert received his B.A. in both biology and religion from Wesleyan University (1971), and he earned his Ph.D. in biology from the pediatric genetics laboratory of Dr. Barbara Migeon at the Johns Hopkins University (1976). His M.A. in the history of science, also from The Johns Hopkins University, was done under the supervision of Dr. Donna Haraway.
Seems likely, eh? Real credentials in appropriate fields even.

More google and then this article by the good professsor from last year on the occasion of the thundering defeat of the personhood initiative in the Mississippi election.
In 2007, the Legionaries of Christ, one of the most conservative Catholic orders, asked me to speak about the question Mississippi voters confronted this week: When does personhood begin? I was surprised at the invitation because, as an embryologist and historian of biology, I had written that there was no scientific consensus on this issue.
He then lists the various points at which religious and non-religious people have speculated 'life' begins.

Sounding good for the fetus fetishists, eh?


The conclusion.
Still other biologists contend that only birth itself makes us physically distinct individuals, independent of maternal physiology. The anatomy of our heart, lungs, and blood vessels changes at our first breath.

This, interestingly, is where the Bible claims personhood originates. Genesis 9:6 says that one who murders a man must himself be destroyed. But Exodus 21:22 says a man who causes a woman to miscarry is not to be put to death, but rather should pay a fine. In the Bible, personhood is a birthright.

The advocates of "zygote rights" - who plan to pursue measures in several other states following their Mississippi defeat - are going against both science and Scripture. It is a dangerous thing to equate a fertilized egg with an adult human. It not only makes the zygote like the person; it makes the person like the zygote. As less than half of normal human conceptions make it to term, most zygotes don't become babies. Zygotes can be cheap, and human life never should be.

Weeks after I started asking about experts, Chief Fetus Fetishist comes up with ONE.

And -- surprise! -- he's NOT on HER side.

UPDATE: Apparently that was a (weird) fetus fascist joke.

Suzanne Fortin ‏@Roseblue

@fernhilldammit Haha. I knew you'd fall for that. #M312 #cdnpoli

I don't geddit. He has exactly the right sort of credentials to speak to the subject.

MORE UPDATE: I still don't geddit.

But SHE does admit that when life begins is merely an opinion, NOT as SHE has been screeching on Twitter a Fact.
The article also does not give Scott Gilbert's opinion on when life begins. And it is his opinion that will matter when he testifies in Parliament (assuming he would come to Canada for this purpose.)
SHE says he's staunchly 'pro-abortion' so I think we know his opinion.

Thursday 9 August 2012

Wingnut Wedgie

While deBeauxOs splendidly spanks the fetus fetishists for their glurge-filled lies, there's more to learn from this survey. It seems that in speaking amongst themselves they reveal more than they think.

Despite being on this beat for more than five years, I did not fully grasp the rift between fetus fetishists when it comes to the incremental (aka 'Fucking Women Over in As Many Ways Possible' [FWOIAMWAP]) and gestational limits strategies on abortion.

Of the nine responders, only four support gestational limits.

The Catlicks and looniest loons don't support them because the instant egg meets sperm -- BOOM! -- there is an itty-bitty proto-person that just needs some more time in the oven. To allow abortion up to some point -- any point -- is to condone murder.

And. Also. They don't work.
European pro-life leaders which have gestational limits have told us repeatedly that gestational laws do nothing to prevent abortion but only assuage the public conscience.
If Woody's Wank passes and a committee of MPs get to hear 'expert' evidence from prebornchildologists from which they conclude that a 'human being' is sufficiently baked formed at some point after the BOOM moment, the loons will not be pleased.

But some people will be. Both Stephanie Gray of Fetal Gore Tour fame and Mark Peninga of the Association for Reformed Political Action, which is the backer of We Need a Law, support both gestational limits and FWOIAMWAP.
ARPA Canada is convicted that gestational restrictions on abortion can be a prudent and principled means to restrict abortion to the greatest extent possible. Doing politics means working with what is possible. . . . Canada is a secular nation that does not respect God’s standards about the value of human life.
While demonstrating a spark of rationality over Canada's pro-choice stance, he continues to outline the antichoice delusion that Canadians really really really want SOME KINDA LAW DAMMIT.

But of course that won't be good enough.
And if we are blessed with restrictions, we must press on and keep working for more.
It will never be over for them.

All of them, however, are totally behind the FWOIAMWAP approach Here, at least, they are refreshing honest.

Alissa Golob of Campaign Life Coalition Youth said:
I support incremental approaches such as parental notification, complete informed consent, defunding and ultrasound laws; basically any law that would make it extremely difficult for women to obtain abortions.
While the accompanying cartoon shows the usual featureless female incubators, the words 'women' or 'woman' appear just four times in the responses, once in the quote above and these.
Recently we have witnessed our opponents willingness to sacrifice the women of tomorrow to safeguard abortion for the women of today.
. . . incremental measures such as defunding, women’s right to know, medically necessary abortions, conscience legislation and the unborn victims of violence.
One more point made by SUZY here.
I only found out about five years ago that Campaign Life Coalition opposed gestational limits.

And to me, the fact that I did not know this salient fact about CLC strategy spoke to a problem I see in the pro-life movement.

We're still a very fragmented group of people with a relatively weak sense of community, and that limits our ability to mobilize. I was involved in a pro-life community for some years and didn't know this point.

So I'm thinking: if I, with my regular contact with Campaign Life, didn't know this, imagine what other pro-lifers don't know...
Yes, just imagine what they don't know. . .

In the continuing wank that JJ calls the Masturdebate, let's ask supporters of M312 if they would be good with gestational limits.

If not, why not? If so, at what point? If it's murder after 12 or whatever weeks, what do you call it before that point?

Let's help drive that wedge.

Tuesday 7 August 2012

Lying AntiChoice Liars on M312

The above drawing, from here, encapsulates the odious dishonesty at the heart of M312.

The pregnant women are featureless incubators, whose human rights are secondary to the *personhood* rights that Blob Blogging Whinge-Nut SUZANNE and other assorted lobbyists for The Fetus©™ would shove down the throat of the majority of Canadians who believe that the current manner of administering abortion works well.

The fetuses look like one-month-old infants, not the *preborn* that the lying liars are always yammering about.

The various antichoice dissemblers quoted want to criminalize a medical intervention that is currently provided to pregnant women by healthcare professionals. Those are not practiced capriciously, as the grotesque caricature suggests, 2 days before the end of gestation.

Here's a good example of prevarication and extreme ideological glurge, as expressed by Stephanie Gray:
We support any incremental measures that are effective in saving lives and which act to limit, not introduce, the evil of abortion. Evangelium Vitae provides a helpful guideline by stating, “when it is not possible to overturn or completely abrogate a pro-abortion law, an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality. This does not in fact represent an illicit cooperation with an unjust law, but rather a legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects.”

Because Canada has an absence of any law on abortion, and because in such a situation that means any abortion is permitted, and because our criminal code does not consider the pre-born human beings until they have “completely proceeded, in a living state, from the body of [their] mother[s],” we support gestational limits on abortion. Our ultimate goal is that all abortions be banned, but we recognize that achieving that larger goal means meeting smaller goals in the meantime. Every year in Canada, 100,000 children are killed. We believe all 100,000 need to be saved, but if we cannot save 100,000 right away, we believe that saving 10,000 (or whatever number we can in the meantime) is better than 0. Because no abortions are currently banned, introducing a gestational ban on abortion acts to limit, rather than introduce, the evil.

Friday 3 August 2012

Steve's Farm Animals

Conservative Party of Canada lawyer Arthur Hamilton, seen here in a file photo from 2010, says his party objects to the introduction of new evidence from Elections Canada in the robocalls case.

Peter Van Loan. Vic Toews. Jason Kenney. Dean Del Mastro. Andrew Scheer*.

Is there some unwritten criteria that CON _movers and shakers_ in Harper's CPC must resemble the voracious four-legged residents of Willy Pickton's farm, stuffed into expensive suits?

The smug mug above is of Arthur Hamilton, the CONtempt Party's consigliere on these cases: the Elena Guergis hatchet job, the CPC's varied criminal and/or illegal manipulations during the 2006 elections, and now this.

Joe Soares

Oh look, here's another one, eager for the opportunity to stick his snout into the CPC feeding trough.

Oink. Oink.

*anyone who believes that speaker Scheer is no longer a member of Harper's inner circle of CPC koolaid drinkers hasn't been paying attention to his decisions in the House of Commons.

Wednesday 1 August 2012

What does it mean?

I found this fascinating picture here. It is located above a link to the Christian Science Monitor's daily photographic coverage of the Olympics.

What do the elements of this striking graphic represent?

Chick-fil-A: Everything you wanted to know ...

about the controversy & boycott, but were afraid to ask, can be found in this blogpost, written by a thoughtful US citizen.
It can seem ridiculous to get all worked up over fast-food chicken.

Let’s also agree that this isn’t about curtailing anyone’s rights under First Amendment. The Constitution is a legal document. This is not a legal argument. No one is arguing that Chik-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy should be put in prison, or silenced, or censored by the government. This has nothing to do with government censorship or government abridgment of Freedom of Speech. So don’t worry: the ability of this millionaire to legally spend his millions as he sees fit is not in jeopardy. You need not defend it. [...]

1. This isn’t simply about marriage. [...] here’s what you should know:

- In 29 states in America today, my partner of 18 years, Cody, or I could be fired for being gay. Period. No questions asked. One of those states is Louisiana, our home state. We live in self-imposed exile from beloved homeland, family, and friends, in part, because of this legal restriction on our ability to live our lives together.

- In 75 countries in the world, being gay is illegal. In many, the penalty is life in prison. These are countries we can’t openly visit. In 9 countries, being gay is punishable by death. In many others, violence against gays is tacitly accepted by the authorities. These are countries where we would be killed. Killed.

- Two organizations that work very hard to maintain this status quo and roll back any protections that we may have are the Family Research Council and the Marriage & Family Foundation. For example, the Family Research council leadership has officially stated that same-gender-loving behavior should be criminalized in this country. They draw their pay, in part, from the donations of companies like Chick-Fil-A. Both groups have also done “missionary” work abroad that served to strengthen and promote criminalization of same-sex relations.

- Chick-Fil-A has given roughly $5M to these organizations to support their work.

- Chick-Fil-A’s money comes from the profits they make when you purchase their products.
It's a long piece, well worth reading.

Our own Benediction Blogs On has posted some thoughts, from an evangelical perspective that's neither bigoted nor supportive of christian Sharia.

Chick Fil A Cow Appreciation Day

By the way, the Chick-fil-A "cow appreciation" campaign ripped off one of Gary Larson's cartoon. I suspect that the corporation didn't pay him a cent of royalties for his concept and he's probably too classy a guy to litigate.

Wednesday's M312 Report

On the Twitter #M312 timeline there are a few new players, some yet to be blocked by the Woody Wankers.

One such, Voice of Reason, tweeted at Stephen Woodworth himself:
‪@WoodworthMP‬ ‪#M312‬ You do of course realize that you are becoming single-issued. What would be your favoured outcome of this debate?‪#cdnpoli‬
And s/he got the typical weaselly reply.
‪@V_of_tReason‬ ‪#cdnpoli‬ My favoured outcome of ‪#M312‬ would be that Parliament&Cdns are better informed abt the implicatns of S223(1)
Voice of Reason immediately recognized this for the faux-innocent dodge that it is and returned with:

Rev Paperboy jumped in and a genius hashtag was born.

I applauded the good Rev's genius and asked him to use the #M312 hashtag. He said he was a tad busy but told me to feel free.

Then Voice of Reason spelled it out for the dimmest of fetus fetishists.

Surely the smart creative people who read DJ! can come up with some other fun snarky questions for the pro-M312 crowd to be tagged with #justaskingaquestion or #JAQingOff for short(er). (Goes well with Woodworth's Wank, doesn't it?)

In related news, every day certain people spam-tweet MPs and other politicians with one or both of two scripted tweets. Today I noticed that the same MPs and politicians are targeted each day. Are they programmed? Are they bots?

And speaking of bots, another new player is M312FETUSBOT, who is totally pro-M312 and a demanding little twerp to boot.


With all this fun stuff going on and more and more uncomfortable questions being lobbed at the fetus fetishists, I'm thinking that Woody regrets swapping his spot. He probably had a better chance of sneaking his sneaky motion past MPs in June.

The second hour of debate is on September 21, with the vote on September 26.

If you don't do Twitter, you might consider busting a cherry for this one. ;-)

Weighted medal count

A brief break for the Limpix. We at DJ also celebrate the triumph of our demonic one-eyed overlords.

Big teletubbie is watching you.

Anyway, I wanted to share this awesome economically-weighted medal count with y'all, presented by econ blogger Bill Mitchell. The columns are unfortunately a little misaligned, but if you use the GDP tab and read it carefully, you can see that North Korea is far and away the big winner from these Games. However, if you divide by population, China tops out as it does in raw current gold count...followed by NK. The US is third. By population, we find that Eastern European and Central Asian countries do rather well.

NK is still up there, though.