The Erasure of Autonomy

Earlier this month, California's assisted-dying law went into effect. As I wrote previously, the bill was passed in a special session of the legislature last year, over the fierce opposition of religious groups.At first, there was uncertainty about what Gov. Jerry Brown would do. Brown studied at a Jesuit seminary in his youth, and some people worried that his former beliefs lingered and would persuade him to veto the bill. But in the end, he signed it into law with a simple, powerful … [Read more...]

Thoughts on the Orlando Shooting

If I wrote about every mass shooting in gun-sick America, I wouldn't have time for anything else. But the bloodbath at a gay nightclub in Florida this weekend, now the deadliest in U.S. history, has a grim power to break through the scar tissue of our indifference.The NRA and right-wing Christianity in this country are locked in a vampiric embrace, each feeding on the other. There's no better proof of that than lawmakers who sold their souls for NRA blood money trying to cloak their … [Read more...]

How Billionaire Lawfare Threatens Free Speech

I didn't have a strong opinion on Hulk Hogan's lawsuit against Gawker Media for posting his sex tape, until I found out that Peter Thiel was secretly funding it. (You may remember him as the billionaire libertarian who's against democracy in general and women's suffrage in particular.) Thiel has held a grudge against Gawker since it outed him as gay a few years ago, and ever since then, he's been quietly looking for a lawsuit to back that could destroy the company. With this case, he may have … [Read more...]

Changing Minds Takes Empathy (and Civility)

I used to follow the liberal writer Matt Bruenig's columns on politics and economics, but I stopped reading a while ago. Although I agreed with him more often than not, he radiated an attitude of aggressive contempt for anyone who disagreed with him that I found insufferable. That's why I wasn't surprised to hear about this:After multiple conversations, Matt Bruenig and Demos have agreed to disagree on the value of the attack mode on Twitter. We part ways on the effectiveness of these … [Read more...]

How Catholic Hospitals Flout the Law

I've often written about the life-endangering refusal of Catholic hospitals to perform abortions, even when a pregnant woman is facing sepsis or hemorrhage and nothing can be done to save the fetus (see here, here and here). Now the ACLU in partnership with MergerWatch has released a new report, Health Care Denied, that reveals the full scope of the problem (HT: Butterflies and Wheels):Today, one in six hospital beds in the United States is in a Catholic hospital. In some places, such as … [Read more...]

God’s Endorsement Isn’t Worth Much

There's only two conclusions we can draw from the 2016 Republican primary: either God doesn't exist, or he has a hell of a sense of humor.I was thinking of this last week, when Ted Cruz dropped out after his crushing loss in Indiana. Cruz, more than any other candidate in the race, exemplified the attitude that God has a very specific political platform and had chosen him to implement it. Cruz's father, Rafael Cruz, is a bona fide dominionist who believes that Christians have a divine … [Read more...]

Why Donald Trump Will Lose the Election

The battle lines of the 2016 campaign are set. Barring a miracle, it will be Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton.Trump's rise has confounded the pundits who predicted it could never happen, that surely the Republican party would unite to deny him the nomination. His crass remarks and missteps, which hurt him not at all, cemented the sense of a candidate immune from normal political laws. As a result, many people are treating his primary victory as a paradigm-shattering event that overturns … [Read more...]

New on the Guardian: Civil Rights and Corporate Power

The American corporate sector is becoming more liberal-friendly territory than ever, and it has the potential to split the conservative coalition that's prevailed in our politics for decades. That's the topic of my new piece on the Guardian, Businesses are powerful allies on LGBT rights. The left should embrace them.This column expands on my recent post "Beating the Religious Right with Corporate Power", and presents new evidence that businesses may even be progressive allies on some … [Read more...]

The Church of Not Gay

In the riot of awful laws coming out of Republican-controlled statehouses, Mississippi's HB1523 may or may not be the worst. It has a lot of competition for that title. But I'd argue that out of all these bills, it's the one that gives the clearest insight into the motives of its supporters.The law's obligatory Orwellian name is the "Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act". It claims to shield people from state interference or punishment for following their … [Read more...]

Vote for Harm Reduction, Not Purity

North Carolina's appalling HB2, which I wrote about on Monday, is just one bill in a parade of awfulness from state legislatures. In the last few weeks alone, Indiana has outlawed abortion if the fetus has a defect or disability, and Utah requires women getting abortion to receive unnecessary anesthesia against their will. A South Carolina bill would make anyone who sponsors a refugee criminally liable if that refugee commits a crime. Mississippi wants to grant shoot-to-kill authority to … [Read more...]