Put the cameras AWAY.

I saw something on one of those main sites for Game of Thrones news that bugged me today. It was more material on the “Hair Watch” of Jon Snow, in which fans painstakingly document every appearance by Kit Harington in Belfast, and keep track of his hair length. I may have participated a bit in this business myself, so I’m not in a position to throw very large stones.

This much does bug me, though, and this is why I’m not posting a link to the article in question: there were a couple of photos of Kit Harington clearly not wanting his picture taken. They’re blurry, but not too blurry to let us see his facial expression, which is obviously not consenting to the camera. I Tweeted about the article early today, then it finally occurred to me that I was adding to the problem by sharing the link with the photos. I deleted the Tweet and explained why.

If we really treated celebrities appropriately, we wouldn’t even insist on taking their pictures without their knowledge, but as I have already done my part to talk about Kit and his man-bun showing up in Belfast, I’m not in a position to criticize. That ship has sailed, with me on it. When they can see you whipping out the camera, though, and are clearly communicating that they don’t want to be photographed? Then put the damn camera away and back off. Everyone is allowed to have boundaries, including famous actors on popular TV shows. Even the most positive attention can get exhausting after a while, and Kit Harington has clearly passed that point. He should not have to be on his guard every time he leaves the set.

Also, if you run a popular fansite, and you post pictures that were very obviously taken over the actor’s objections, you’re part of the problem. Stop rewarding people for violating boundaries.

Radioactive Traditionalism

Strange things happen when I get out of bed before 9 AM on a Saturday. For example, today I read a blog entry by Ross Don’tDoThat, in which he speaks to Enforcers of Tradition who are concerned about how hard they will lose the battle over same-sex marriage.

I mostly agree with these sentiments, but I do have one flicker of doubt about them. Unless something dramatic changes in the drift of public opinion, the future of religious liberty on these issues is going to depend in part on the magnanimity of gay marriage supporters — the extent to which they are content with political, legal and cultural victories that leave the traditional view of marriage as a minority perspective with some modest purchase in civil society, versus the extent to which they decide to use every possible lever to make traditionalism as radioactive in the America of 2025 as white supremacism or anti-Semitism are today. And I can imagine a scenario in which a more drawn-out and federalist march to “marriage equality in 50 states,” with a large number of (mostly southern) states hewing to the older definition for much longer than the five years that gay marriage advocates currently anticipate, ends up encouraging a more scorched-earth approach to this battle, with less tolerance for the shrinking population of holdouts, and a more punitive, “they’re getting what they deserve” attitude toward traditionalist religious bodies in particular. If religious conservatives are, in effect, negotiating the terms of their surrender, it’s at least possible that those negotiations would go better if they were conducted right now, in the wake of a Roe v. Wade-style Supreme Court ruling, rather than in a future where the bloc of Americans opposed to gay marriage has shrunk from the current 44 percent to 30 percent or 25 percent, and the incentives for liberals to be magnanimous in victory have shrunk apace as well.

Teal Deer translation: Mr. Douthat’s fellow travelers are concerned that the longer the battle over marriage equality rages on,  the more the “family values” contingent will be seen as contemptible bigots on par with white supremacists and Jew-haters. They sense themselves to be at the mercy of liberal magnanimity.

I can see how they would be nervous, as the traditionalist faction has long been extremely non-magnanimous towards sexual minorities and their families.

I’m not exactly sure what they are afraid will happen if we have to fight too long and hard for the right to marriage equality in all fifty states. Pastors will not be dragged out of their pulpits. Traditionalist churches will not be shut down. We’re not going to plant equality signs on the lawns of conservative households and set them on fire in the night. Children of conservative parents will not be bullied at school the way LGBT children are bullied now. We don’t even intend to coerce traditionalist houses of worship to officiate same-sex weddings. Couples want to be married by officiants who don’t hate them. It is not in any couple’s interests to say their vows in front of a pastor who would rather be anywhere else.

No matter what happens at the end of this fight, the consequences for Enforcers of Tradition will not be nearly as dire as the actual, real-life persecution that’s been inflicted on sexual minorities for decades just for being who they are.

With that in mind, if the Enforcers of Tradition want us liberals to be magnanimous in victory, perhaps they could start by showing a bit of magnanimity themselves. If “tradition” is used to mean hate and persecution, then it deserves to become radioactive.

Sometimes, the wrong people win.

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has given South Dakota the green light to force abortion providers to tell their patients that by seeking abortions, they face an increased risk of suicide. There might be a case to be made for “informed consent” if the “science” behind this increased risk weren’t a transparent case of correlation-not-causation. This is the part that chaps my ass, as Erin Gloria Ryan quotes from the majority opinion:

“On its face, the suicide advisory presents neither an undue burden on abortion rights nor a violation of physicians’ free speech rights.”

What is that I don’t even.

The law requires all physicians offering abortion care to read a script to their patients, including some word salad about how the woman has an “existing relationship” with a “human being” who will be terminated in the procedure, as if they haven’t figured out what’s actually going on. In this script is also the “suicide advisory,” which compels doctors to tell their patients that having abortions will make them more likely to off themselves, all scientific evidence to the contrary. IOW, it forces doctors to tell their patients what the state wants them to hear.

This is an infringement on their right to free speech.


The Obama Administration is Having None of That Bullshit

According to Amanda Marcotte, Pres. Obama just brought out a “compromise” on mandatory contraceptive coverage that makes the GOP look like a pack of ridiculous assholes. Not that it’s all that difficult:

After two solid weeks of Republicans rapidly escalating attacks on contraception access under the banner of “religous freedom,” Obama finally announced what the White House is proposing an accomodation of religiously affiliated employers who don’t want to offer birth control coverage as part of their insurance plans. In those situations, the insurance companies will have to reach out directly to employees and offer contraception coverage for free, without going through the employer. Insurance companies are down with the plan, because as Matt Yglesias explained at Moneybox, contraception actually saves insurance companies money, since it’s cheaper than abortion and far cheaper than childbirth. Because the insurance companies have to reach out to employees directly, there’s very little danger of women not getting coverage because they are unaware they’re eligible.

That’s the nitty-gritty. The fun part of this is that Obama just pulled a fast one on Republicans. He drew this out for two weeks, letting Republicans work themselves into a frenzy of anti-contraception rhetoric, all thinly disguised as concern for religious liberty, and then created a compromise that addressed their purported concerns but without actually reducing women’s access to contraception, which is what this has always been about. (As Dana Goldstein reported in 2010, before the religious liberty gambit was brought up, the Catholic bishops were just demanding that women be denied access and told to abstain from sex instead.)

Right. So, that happened, and meanwhile, Anna North reports that still, not everyone is satisfied by the compromise:

She’s right — some conservatives are unsatisfied with the compromise. In advance of the official announcement, Katie Pavlich of TownHall.com wrote,

Later today President Obama is expected to announce a “compromise” that allows religious employers to opt out of paying for providing birth control to women, but will still be required to provide contraception. What this means is, insurance companies will pick up the tab for contraception, but religious employers are still required to provide contraception through insurance plans to their employees, despite the move being against religious beliefs.

Let me see if I have this right: there are some employers who do not want to provide their employees with insurance plans that include full coverage of contraceptives, even if the insurance companies themselves eat the cost of providing the contraceptives, because…the employers’ religious beliefs are not amenable to birth control.

So, that means, these employers simply don’t want their employees to have full coverage of birth control, because it makes baby Jesus cry. They feel that their religious liberty is infringed-upon if they have to allow their insurance company to provide employees with fully-covered contraceptives.

Let’s keep in mind that we’re talking about organizations which are not primarily concerned with religious activities, but with providing services to the general population. We’re talking about hospitals and universities, for instance. They also hire from the general population, which means that many of their employees do not hold the same religious beliefs.

If one of those employees observes a religion that prohibits use of hormonal contraceptives, for example, then she is free to refrain from using them. No one is stuffing birth control packs in her purse before she leaves for the day.

However, most of those organizations female employees within a certain age range either are currently using or reasonably expect to use some birth control method in the future, and aren’t worried about what their God (if they even believe) thinks about their not being pregnant all the time.

The opponents of full contraception coverage are not concerned about defending religious liberty. They are defending the rights of religious organizations to force their beliefs on employees who may or may not agree. IOW: what about the employees’ religious liberty to plan their families? Who’s defending that?

Well played, President Obama. You’ve earned that shit-eating grin.

The religion of Macy’s is “Thou Shalt Not Suck at Turning a Profit.”

Is this the new front in the War on Christmas? Are we now taking the battle to vicious, soulless corporations who heartlessly force their employees to do their jobs?

A week ago, a Macy’s employee spotted a transgender woman going into the women’s dressing room, and decided to stop her and inform her that she wasn’t really a woman. The company promptly fired her, but now the employee has enlisted the help of a hatemongering conservative organization and is claiming that Macy’s discriminated against her religious beliefs by denying her the right to harass whichever customer she chooses.

Johnson says she told a manager, “I’ve made my choice the other day … I refuse to comply with this policy.” Since she was incapable of complying with company rules, Macy’s fired her. Johnson went to the Liberty Counsel, a conservative organization that’s called GLBT rights “a radical agenda,” then filed a complaint with the federal employment commission. When asked for a response, Macy’s said it doesn’t “comment on personnel matters,” adding, “At Macy’s, we recognize and appreciate the diversity of our customers and associates.”

Johnson says that by mandating that all employees appreciate the diversity of Macy’s customers, the store is forcing her to violate her Christian beliefs.

Right. Here we have the overinflated sense of entitlement multiplied by the persecution complex which American Christians have raised to an art form.

That said, I also think that, Liberty Counsel notwithstanding, most American Christians, including the ones who agree with Natalie Johnson’s rather reductive view of gender, would agree that if you cannot perform your work duties as your employer requires, you can work somewhere else.

You are entitled to your beliefs. You are entitled to practice your religion, but only within bounds that do not encroach on someone else’s beliefs. You are not entitled to have your employer bend its policies around your beliefs. You are not entitled to force customers to live according to the rules of your religion.

Your customers do not have to follow your religion. Your employer does not have to follow your religion. The imperative of a major retailer such as Macy’s is to turn a profit by selling goods, and they accomplish that goal by providing good customer service. If you do not provide good customer service, they will not employ you. No one is entitled to draw a paycheck for a job they refuse to do. I could go to my supervisors today and tell them that duplication of efforts is a violation of my religious beliefs, and rather than re-arrange our department’s workflow so that I never have to deal with duplicate invoices, they’d fire me and hire someone who isn’t too devout to get the job done.

If allowing a transgirl into the woman’s dressing room is a violation of your Christian beliefs, then you can go find a job that doesn’t involve dressing rooms. Meanwhile, Macy’s will employ someone who serves all customers so that they will purchase goods. Problem solved on both sides.


It’s like Phyllis Schlafly let her cat dance on her keyboard!

According to ThinkProgress, Crazy-Eyes Bachmann is the first occupant of the GOP Clown Car to sign onto the FAMiLY LEADER pledge (no, I am not making up that random non-capitalization), a little manifesto for The Handmaid’s Tale with a wee side of V for Vendetta theocracy.

I have found a copy of the full text of the pledge, and I’ve read it so you don’t have to. Here are some selected highlights!

Faithful monogamy is at the very heart of a designed and purposeful order – as conveyed by Jewish and Christian Scripture, by Classical Philosophers, by Natural Law, and by the American Founders – upon which our concepts of Creator-endowed human rights, racial justice and gender equality all depend.

Yeah, that same Jewish and Christian scripture that portrayed powerful patriarchs with multiple wives and hordes of concubines. “Natural Law” just means they want more juicy sperm-meets-egg goodness. The “American Founders” would have to be some weird secret society I’ve never heard of, as our Founding Fathers weren’t really concerned with “family” “values.” We’ll see what these idiots mean by “racial justice” and “gender equality” in just a moment.

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Epic Real-Life Trolling

*clutches bottle of beer in one hand, cigarette in the other*

Before you leave your husband for some guy you met online, make sure you actually meet the online guy IRL first.

Hoping to find some answers, Bonhomme filed a lawsuit that was eventually moved to Kane County, where in December 2009 a judge dismissed her complaint. But last month, a divided Illinois appeals court reinstated the case, rejecting St. James’ argument that she was creating fiction and therefore wasn’t liable.

“The concepts of falsity and material fact do not apply in the context of fiction,” her attorney had written, “because fiction does not purport to represent reality.”

No. The liberties of fiction do not apply when someone who has the ability to hire a lawyer and sue your crazy ass is in the middle of your fantasy. Nice try, though; I’m sure it was a fun idea while it lasted.

Just in case those nasty pro-aborts might get ideas

At Jezebel, Irin Carmon reports that generic feminist endeavors make cause anti-choicers to lose their minds. Senators Coburn and DeMint (R-isible) and (R-eprehensible) have put on hold a request for…a private group…to use their own money…to lease land from the Smithsonian…to build a museum about women’s history. What do these two absurdly privileged men have against a women’s history museum funded with private money?

The senators’ action came two days after the Concerned Women for America, a conservative group, wrote DeMint asking for a hold. The group’s CEO, Penny Nance, wrote in July that the museum would “focus on abortion rights without featuring any of the many contributions of the pro-life movement in America.”

Stop right there. As soon as you see “Concerned Women for America,” you know what follows is going to be utterly batshit. Just how much museum space do you need to show how rape victims can thank the pro-quantity movement for making emergency contraception so difficult to get ahold of? Is it true, though, that NWMH would have an obvious pro-choice bias?

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She’s trying to ban THAT?!

Anna North reports at Jezebel that a Wisconsin mother is trying to get Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants banned from the school library:

If parents insist on thoroughly sanitizing the books their kids have access to, kids will probably respond by reading less, and by turning to media over which their parents have less control. And really, efforts to ban books from school libraries have come to seem almost depressingly quaint. I wish kids were sneaking into the library, of all places, to get their hands on edgy shit that would freak their parents out. The reality is that kids can get shocking material much more easily on the Internet, and books are so uncool in comparison (with, I suppose, a few vampiric exceptions) that parents who think the printed word will destroy their children’s innocence are looking in the wrong place.

As if that dumbass in Georgia campaigning to get Harry Potter banned from the county library wasn’t hilarious enough, now people are after the Traveling Pants series? What?

Speaking of Harry Potter, as Book 5 noted, the most effective way to get young people to read something is to ban it! By all means, parents, excite your teenagers’ curiosity about the secrets hidden in ink on paper at the library! If they can’t get the books from the library, they might have to spend money at the bookstore, which will both contribute to the royalties paid to authors and support the publishers, which will mean more books in the marketplace. If they have to spend their money at the bookstore, they’ll have less left over for junk food and drugs. While you’re at it, you might even end up making books cool.

The priest holds his nose through the ceremony

Paul Hogarth liveblogs Day 3 of the Prop 8 trial:

Chauncey: “There’s a growing debate [in religions], but most religious groups are not with us.”

Since they’ve mentioned the relationship of religion with gay marriage, I’m going to run off on a wild tangent and give my thoughts on this.

This will take some time to unpack; where to start?

There appear to be three major categories of objection to marriage equality: children, religion, and definition. I’ve already given my thoughts on marriage equality and children, so today I’ll go into religion.

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