Westboro Supreme Court mis-rule

SUMMARY: This isn’t Free Speech, it’s freedom of politico-(pseudo-)religious gang-persecution organized on a national basis against random mourners (as such) uninvolved in the grievances supposedly being protested by Funeral Invasion.


Mob pseudo-religious persecution of mourners’ Free Exercise of Religion — the Baptists’ “speech” is usually not on-point, but irrelevant to the life and death circumstances of the decedent at funerals they INVADE — is just like the mob persecution of Christians in Turkey, long winked at by a supposedly-secularist State.  It violates the civil rights of decedents and their grieving survivors.  Only an unholy alliance between the Court’s fellow-fundamentalists and its (this time) misguided “liberals” would rule that the civil rights of off-topic, political, media-hog, worship-invaders trump Freedom of Religion.

Yes, all defenses of Westboro defend their protests as political, though they are veiled in religion.  If (Westboro) politics now trumps (everybody else’s) religion, maybe the rest of the Religious Right IS right, that religious freedom is being flushed down the toilet with the politicization of everything — IRONICALLY, BY THEM!

Another way of approaching it is that the Religious Right, a vast well-organized group, may now abuse its “rights” to violate the rights of usually-tiny groups of mourners anywhere in the country — not unlike the invasive, disgusting, terroristic tactics of Operation “Rescue” abortion-clinic protesters and their incited gunmen / bombers / racketeers / conspirators.  If the Bill of Rights is about anything, it’s about protecting the rights of the oppressed — not only those oppressed by governments or officials, but by their fellow human beings in this country generally, especially by groups bigger than them.  Look for other hate groups to go back to the Courts now for vindication against explicit civil rights legislation — the Ku Klux Klan, “sovereign citizens,” (neo?)Nazis, self-appointed “militias” and border guards, “Dot Busters,” ‘crosshairs’ assassins, the whole sorry, scary lot of them.  What will the lawless Scalia/Roberts Court say then?  Cross-burnings and lynchings are OK again?  Literacy tests and poll taxes for voting?  Forced segregation of public schools?  ‘The disabled or mentally ill, gay or “different,” should be neither seen nor heard’?  Torching Catholic churches?  Slavery?  Human females as their males’ property?  State-Established religions again?  Swastikas scrawled on synagogues’ outside walls are OK because they don’t violate the “privacy” of the interior of the building??!!  It seems the Court liberals, including two Jewish women and a “wise Latina,” have been tricked into signing on to the rollback of the whole 20th century, if not worse.  (And Clarence Thomas? Nevermind!!!)

Ironically, this unholy alliance represents the difference between Classical Liberalism, in all its forms, and Classical Conservatism, ie, progressive conservatism … the former represented by the whole near-unanimous Court Westboro majority, the latter represented by most Americans’ gut-reaction to Westboro’s atrocities, and this ruling, more bad law, ie, incorrect law, from the Republican Courts and Party.

Learn about the ascendant hate groups and domestic terrorists from the  Southern Poverty Law Center, and support the SPLC.

And how did this case become merely about “privacy and emotional distress“?  The mourners’ lawyers should be disbarred for incompetence!  Were they law students?!  Was this one of those volunteer, workshop, law school projects they do???


Furthermore, does the ruling consider that funeral “privacy” only applies inside a building-of-worship, funeral parlor, chapel, mausoleum, etc.?  What about processions outdoors, burials, cemeteries, motorcades, even the going TO the funeral by the mourners — Some Protestant services even sacralize this with a “Gathering for Worship” recitation or song.  What about Neopagans, adherents of Indigenous religions, or other “outdoorsy” faiths, which might not often even USE a building with a real “indoors” component?  Obviously outdoor portions of a funeral share the vicinity with the neighbors, if any, of the funeral sites, so that’s presumed within Free Exercise.  I’m not sure being attacked, verbally assaulted, or finding yourselves involuntarily amid a political demonstration, controversy, or riot, especially one featuring offensive language, IS presumed within Free Exercise, except during times of Persecution of your freely-chosen (or -retained) religion … something the Court seems to endorse today, even its Fundies!  (Appropriate, I suppose, since their fellow Repugs drove the President out of the church of his choice, then complained he wasn’t Christian enough!  “I played you a tune but you did not dance, I sang you a dirge but you did not wail….”)

I’m willing to consider that baptisms/circumcisions, funerals, and weddings aren’t the same as routine religious services which might be invaded by hecklers urging you to change your religion.  I’m not sure though!  When I was a Quaker in the 1990s I admired George Fox and his Friends’ doing so in 17th-century Anglican and other Protestants’ “meetinghouses.”  Maybe they would’ve really converted  England if they’d just waited till after services, and stumped outside the buildings as the faithful were leaving!  But IIUC these Baptists aren’t recruiting, merely advocating for their ethical or political positions.  And often their protests seem aimed not at anyone present, except the newsmedia.  That’s just rude … Supremely rude.

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Catholic Bishops attack Obama again

Let’s be clear: I deplore Embryonic Stem-Cell research or usage in any way at all except for a good-faith attempt to bring to those embryonic human beings to birth.  This is because, as an Eastern Orthodox Christian who aspires to be a member of Christ, ie, one of His body-parts, I don’t consider endorsing human destruction of unborn humans — even disabled ones (I am Disabled, perhaps from birth or before) — to be in keeping with Christ’s body-parts.*

However, the U.S. Catholic bishops go out of their way to attack the democratically- and Constitutionally-elected Obama Administration in recent news releases on the issue.  They’ve been indignant that we elected him and VP Joe Biden (himself a Catholic), as they made clear at their winter meetings days after the 2008 Elections, televised live on cable.  But as any Civics student could have told them, the Executive Branch of the US Government doesn’t lawfully appropriate money, Congress does.  The Executive Branch does nothing with money that Congress has not authorized.  This is the bishops’ national release; this is from one of their most “conservative” divisions, Pennsylvania.

Their Eminences and Excellencies could be forgiven (if I had the power!) their confusion, after their boy in the White House, George W. Bush, appropriated money without Congressional authorization several times, occasionally with active deceit on the part of the corrupt then-Republican leadership of both Chambers.  (And they wanna come back?!?!?!)  False or cowardly Federal judges or Congressmembers allowed this ACTUAL theft of taxpayers’ money to fly almost completely under the radar.

What do I want?  President Obama and Vice-President Biden are no more nor less a threat to advance abortion or its related horrors than a Congress that hasn’t brought to the floor a Constitutional Amendment to reiterate the protection of unborn Americans in 27 years in the Senate, and EVER in the House, NOT EVEN UNDER REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP!  Instead, Republican alleged “pro-lifers” spend their time and money (and yours) fighting [PDF] real Democratic proposals (and candidates) to eliminate nearly all abortions voluntarily by addressing their causes — showing that they view the lives of Unborn Americans less sacred than their own political power (witness their last-minute, repeated deceptions over [lack of] abortion funding in America’s Healthcare Reform).

What I want is for the bishops and other non-Democratic pro-lifers to understand that specific parties and candidates clearly aren’t how to prevail, but bona fide proposals on the floor of Congress.  Based on that, who’s the REAL pro-life party?  THE DEMOCRATS, AFTER ALL!!!

And what about the bishops’ dioceses’ tax exemptions for targeting Obama/Biden?  After all, a partisan church’s tax exemption is like spending YOUR TAX DOLLARS ON THEIR FAVORED PARTY OR CANDIDATE.  (There are Orthodox Church clergy who could be called on the carpet equally and worse than these. But Catholic bishops tend to have more resources on which to call, and lawyer friends advising them, so they should know better. Orthodox, not so much yet.)

(*–The only exception I can see is, in shorthand, to save the life of the mother: where the best available medical opinion[s] is that continuing the pregnancy will kill her in and of itself, not via suicide or threats thereat, or financial impoverishment [falling through our coarse Social Safety Net], her own mental illness or disability, etc.  Because I don’t believe we can require mothers by law to actually — not metaphorically — lay down their lives for their babies; that must be voluntary.)

PS: I’m not “an anticatholic;” I’m a convert from Catholicism with extensive graduate work in Catholic and other (Western) Christian theological ethics.  I don’t “hate Catholics;” some of my best relatives and old friends are still Catholic.  Just for the record.

Take IBS seriously!

Healthcare rationing as “New American Genocide”

Read all about it.  Except it isn’t just killing and threatening Blacks, but Native Americans, Hispanics, the disabled non-elderly like me, the poor like me, even the elderly who despite Medicare’s successes still can’t manage to get what they need, urban residents, rural** residents….  [*I* should be on Medicare, but that’s another story…!]

Yes, folks, we’ve been rationing healthcare all along: TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER, or in more “economical” terms, “as high as the market will bear.”  Reform ideally should care on the basis of need, without regard to class, party, religion, orientation, race, Tribe, language, Ability, age, religion, color, intelligence, or any other criterion.  Frankly, I think we get an NHS like Britain (once had), add the benefits of the French and Norwegians and Germans AND America … and KICK BUTT!!!!!  AND SAVE MONEY!!!!!

PS #1: Is Rachel Maddow getting cuter and cuter?  Sweetheart, if you ever want to give “the other team” a try….  I kid!  God grant you and your loved ones Many Years!

PS#2: “Whitey On The Moon” — ah, the ’60s, great larks!

(**–Now THAT’S going to make you “Bitter”!)

Welfare accountability

Why do Republicans think there’s no accountability on Welfare, Assistance, etc.?  How many of them have ever been on it??  Since 2000 I’ve been on General Assistance, Food Stamps, Medicaid, and SSI/Disability (not all at the same time), and been turned down for Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability.  I’d also worked for a couple years helping other people try to get help from various governments and other agencies, so I knew what I was doing.  The questions they ask, the re-asking every few months to a year, the unreasonable rejections, the unhearing appeals….  Haven’t they even heard of the Intrusive Social Worker? — it’s so common it’s a stereotype!!!  There are few secrets, and little dignity left when you’re done.

I think this may be an example of something Ronald Reagan kicked into high gear, Government-by-Anecdote.  Sure, a few people game the system, and DA’s like to trot out the accused Welfare Queens with three Rolls Royces and such.  But probably government loses more money each year from rich folks and businesses gaming the system than people on various forms of Assistance!  Welfare Cheats vs. Tax Cheats?  You do the math!

When politicians or their surrogates trot out negative examples, suspect that there’s an agenda, and deception, going on.  Ask for total numbers, credible statistics, before collectively punishing all of us for the relatively-insignificant sins of the few.

What makes poor Americans overweight?

Speaking as an overweight poor American, I’ve had enough of unknowledgeable right-wing BS on this point.  So let’s look at a few realities, shall we?

(UPDATE 3 October 2008 with another possible reason.)

  • Americans are overweight.  What is it now, two-thirds of all adults?  So all the reasons that apply to the non-poor also apply to us, and some even more to us, such as advertising, cheap and convenient bad food, the corporate-owned USDA “nutrition” guidelines all these years, little else available all these years what with overrefined grains and vegetables, an increasingly-sedentary workstyle and lifestyle, TV-watching, computer-watching like you and I are doing right now, no time for exercise, the automotive lifestyle, etc etc etc.  But more specifically:
  • Many of us poor have health problems that cause weight gain or interfere with weight loss, directly or indirectly; in my case, IBS and “nonspecific ambulatory painful foot syndrome” – an uncompensated work injury.
  • Many of us poor are from cultures / races / ethnicities especially sensitive to the traditional Northern European diet of the U.S.
  • Supermarkets and grocery stores move out of poor neighborhoods; “convenience” stores and liquor stores move in.
  • Sometimes when you’re down on your luck, you just say, “Screw it,” and indulge.
  • Even if you’re not so unlucky, we too have holidays, barbeques, birthdays, graduations, where we don’t wanna eat just broccoli like those Puritans would have us do!
  • We disabled or unemployed get more TV advertising thrown at us at home, including for bad food.
  • For those of us working two or three jobs to stay afloat, Whole Foods and PCC aren’t open 24/7, while 7-11 is.
  • And even if they were, who can afford them?!  Health food is more expensive than the crap.
  • As the Salon article points out, high fructose corn syrup and other bad things are federally subsidized, holding down their cost.  (Talk about gummint programs!)
  • Every time my SSI Disability goes up, my Food Stamps go down, robbing me of some of my “cost of living adjustment.”  The poor get poorer….
  • Some of us can’t stand at a kitchen counter long enough to prepare a “home-cooked meal,” like because of my feet problem, so we have to “outsource” some of that to convenience and microwave foods.
  • For us Indians, cows vs. bison!
  • Government butter and cheese and cow’s milk and peanut butter programs: Are they intentionally fattening us up?!!!  And then complaining about it?!!!
  • Of course they aren’t.  Fats are calorie-dense and thus tax-dollar-efficient; it takes fewer of them to provide basic energy than carbohydrates or proteins.  They also help you feel satisfied sooner when eating them.  Sounds like a hunger panacea, right?  WRONG!
  • This one from my own IBS-Diarrhea perspective: When health foods push “high fiber,” usually it means insoluble fiber, the kind that goes right through you, rather than soluble fiber, the kind that absorbs intestinal fluid and bulks-up, passing more slowly and humanely.  Perhaps when some had a bad experience with the former, they said, “Forget this!”  (NB: Everybody needs both.  The traditional US diet – starches and proteins, aka meat-n-potatoes – hugely lacks both.  The average “healthy diet” here probably contains too much insoluble and not enough soluble fiber.  Some packages are starting to list these separately.  Thank you!)
  • This one may date me, but for many perhaps health foods are associated with different people, such as health-food freaks, Fundamentalists, liberals, suburbanites, the rich, Protestants, the anal-retentive, perfectionists, Californians, the educated, etc.: an image problem.
  • If you’ve got a family, the cost goes even higher than for an individual like me.
  • How many health-clubs get built in poor neighborhoods?  And who can afford them anyway?!  And are they 24/7?!
  • City parks cutbacks.
  • A short-term or temporary mistake or bad luck, you can pay for the rest of your life: diabetes, overdrinking, overeating, blowing-off exercise, depression-eating, etc.  It’s harder to lose it than to put it on.  Maybe you weren’t poor when you started out, became poor, and now can’t get out so easily as someone with more money can.
  • Historically speaking, before the Enclosure of the Commons forced many of the poor to work for wages in the cities’ industries (owned or invested-in by their rural landlords!), they had family farms they worked, with all that physical exertion and relative self-sufficiency to boot.  Here in America we never even had a chance!
  • It’s possible many of us aren’t aware of what would be better for us, or aren’t used to caring about it.  That’s certainly the kind of lower-working-class eating atmosphere I grew up in, and I’m middle-aged.  Not everybody’s as ‘plugged-in’ to food/health media or information as I happen to be right now, disabled with time on my hands, or having worked as a journalist for a while, or spent much of the ’90s as a vegan.

There’s probably lots more I haven’t thought of.

Buffalo is/are good for you

If you ‘must’ eat meat, that is.  Just don’t burn down the house trying to cook it, like I almost did the other day!  Carbonized hockey puck isn’t as pleasant a buffalo burger as it was once I got the hang of it (sort of) this morning (Chaotic Sleep Patterns strike again).  But it turns out even a bad buffalo burger is still pretty good….

Neat article from a Canadian producer about our continent’s buffalo/bison heritage.

Why most Indigenous North Americans’ ancestors revered the beast.  Pretty damn useful!  But I’m surprised the National Bison Assn. didn’t produce a basketball-styled “NBA” T-shirt like Rez Dog’s “Native By Ancestry” one!

Have *you* ever heard of this place?!  Another of North America’s best-kept secrets!  Turns out I twice drove past it years ago, unawares….

“Bison bison,” eh?  I can visualize the ad campaign, like “Pizza pizza”!  A few years ago I read that it turns out bison meat may be what the Doctor Upstairs ordered for Native diabetes….

Somebody linked from somewhere up there commented that the pre-Catastrophe environment of most of North America was shaped by buffaloes’ (sp?) munching and trampling of grasses and such (and of course, excreting too – BTW: buffalo-chip jewelry?  Sometimes progress is good!!).  Think about it: their range area stretched from the Appalachians / Alleghenies to the Rockies, and from Sonora to the Northwest Territories – HUGE!  Then Whitey came along and mucked it all up, and now we have weeds out the kazoo….