Texas Attorney General: I Support the Cheerleaders and Their Bible-Banners

Remember how the Freedom From Religion Foundation asked the Kountze Independent School District to stop letting cheerleaders hold run-through banners at football games with Bible verses on them?

Now, the Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is getting involved. Yesterday, he sent a letter (PDF) to Kountze ISD Superintendent Kevin Weldon “offering assistance” to them:

I write to offer my assistance and to provide advice about a menacing and misleading letter you recently received from an organization called the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF). That organization has a long history of attempting to bully school districts into adopting restrictive religious speech policies that go well beyond what is required by the United States Constitution. Consistent with that history, the letter you received incorrectly claims that allowing Kountze High School cheerleaders to display banners decorated with Bible verses at football games amounts to a “serious and flagrant violation of the First Amendment.” That exaggerated claim is not supported by the Constitution. Instead, it is based solely on FFRF’s distorted, anti-religion view of the First Amendment, a view that is unsupported by court precedent and has recently been rejected by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Think about it: Can a school district or the Freedom From Religion Foundation stop a student from making the sign of the cross before taking a test, or stop football players from pointing toward heaven after scoring a touchdown or kneeling to pray for an injured teammate? Of course not. Just like the cheerleaders’ banners, such public displays of religion are voluntary expressions of the students’ beliefs and are not attributable to the school district.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently vindicated these legal principles—and rejected FFRF’s restrictive view of the First Amendment — in a case involving Medina Valley ISD in Castroville, Texas. In May 2011, a group called Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed a lawsuit against Medina Valley in an attempt to prevent student speakers from praying as part of their speech at their graduation ceremony. My office supported the school district by arguing that the First Amendment does not require public schools to interfere with students’ right to freely express their religious beliefs. A unanimous panel of three federal appeals judges ruled in favor of the school district and permitted Medina Valley High School seniors to pray at their graduation ceremony…

That last bit is an absolute distortion of the facts.

In that particular case, the Appeals Court initially voted in favor of the school district. But after Americans United filed an amended complaint a few months later — with additional details they had discovered — the two sides resolved their differences through a settlement agreement. (AU explains how this all went down in far more detail here.)

Hardly a unanimous victory in favor of religion.

I’m amazed that the Attorney General wants to get involved in a case that has been settled time and time again. FFRF wins these cases all the time because they’re right on the issues and the judges know it.

You can’t endorse religion as representatives of your public school. Your principal can’t lead the staff in prayer at a faculty meeting. The administration can’t begin a graduation ceremony with a Christian prayer. And cheerleaders can’t promote the Bible at a football game.

Individually, they can do whatever they want. When they’re competing/performing as part of a public school athletic team, they can’t.

But Greg Abbott is ready to file a brief on behalf of the school district… because promoting faith is more important to him than upholding the law.

(Thanks to Richard for the link)

***Update***: Well, shit, this comment on Facebook, on a post about this story, is just frightening:


About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/GodVlogger GodVlogger (on YouTube)

    Just one more example of why we need to support/join/fund FFRF and similar  organizations.

  • Tainda

    Hahahaha!  Did you read Don Moel’s info?

    “Studying Conservative thought at….”

    Conservative thought.  That’s an oxymoron, right?  lol

    • Tainda

      Here’s another good quote from the comments…

      These “Freedom From Religion” people mske me sick they are no better than the KKK, or Black Panthers.

      • Coyotenose

         Are they ever going to figure out that the Black Panthers have been gone for decades and the guys calling themselves that now are a tiny gang of thugs? It’s even stupider than jabbering about ACORN years after libel and slander demolished it.

    • 3lemenope

      I’d be delighted if people would ease off the “conservative idiot” punchline. Part of it is selfish; I’m conservative and putatively not an idiot, so it’s insulting. Mostly, though, it just reinforces unpleasant stereotypes about both groups. Call me crazy but I get the sense that most people harping about the stupidity of conservative thought have never seriously read Nozick, or Burke, or Oakeshott, and so are casting aspersions upon thought they themselves are not familiar with, and so could not possibly know the quality of. It becomes a deserved case of “liberals turning up their elitist noses at ideas they don’t understand”, and then when they argue with a conservative who is actually familiar with their intellectual history they tend to come off not terribly well.

      Meanwhile, we have a reactionary populist party running around calling itself “conservative” while acting distinctly un-Conservative, which reinforces all the more why it is stupid to ruin a label. I know that silly season still has six weeks left to go, and so this is all explicable as simply blowing off ideological frustrations while waiting in anticipation while Obama deservedly cleans Romney’s clock, but in the meantime if you could refrain from calling me and my fellow travelers idiots, that would be swell.

      • Tainda

        I like my elitist nose

        • 3lemenope

          Got yer nose.

          • Tainda

            That made me laugh.

            Too bad that guy in Texas already chopped it off rofl

      • C Peterson

        The point is, the label has changed in meaning. “Conservatism” as an idea is now represented by unintellectual, anti-intellectual wingnuts. “Conservative” has become synonymous with batshit crazy. You can’t really blame people for recognizing that.

        While there is certainly an older type of conservatism, a rational way of viewing the world, if you call yourself a conservative today you will almost certainly be seen in the modern light of the word, not the one that you use to represent yourself. Using a single word to describe an entire social, political, and economic world view is pretty hopeless, anyway. When discussing your beliefs, you’re better off using at least several words if you want people to get some grasp of where you stand.

        • http://www.facebook.com/eukota Darrell Ross

          I disagree. Bat-shit crazy conservatives do not own “conservative”.

          Claiming the definition has changed is a silly excuse to keep using it instead of clarifying one’s remarks. Plenty of sane people still consider themselves conservative.

          I agree with your second bit starting with “Using a single word to describe an entire social, political…”

          • C Peterson

            I don’t know who owns the word, but the reality is, if you define yourself as “conservative” and nothing more, you are almost certain to be seen as a wingnut, not a follower of Goldwater or Eisenhower. That’s just the way it is. By all means, try and change the meaning back to something more sane… but you’ll need to do that by using the word AND by carefully explaining what you mean at the same time. The word alone IS corrupted.

            • 3lemenope

              . That’s just the way it is.

              It isn’t, by any means “just the way it is”. There is nothing whatsoever natural about the definition of a word; it is an artificial, intended, human construction. When it was created, it was created with a purpose: to describe a particular political disposition and a philosophy of governance consistent with that disposition. When people attempt to change it, that is purposeful too. Terms change over time because people want them to, usually because it confers a rhetorical advantage to do so.

              And so the people who would like to claim that conservatism magically has become what they want it to mean would like to wash their hands of the fact that it is no less their own use of the word in that way which does the work of shifting definitions, of making it “just the way it is”. The reactionary Christian populist party starts calling themselves conservative (their fault), and you buy into it (your fault). They want to wrap themselves in Reagan and Eisenhower and Goldwater and I don’t hear anyone liberal complaining; quite the contrary, are often more than happy to endorse the equivalence to play to their own preferred reading of those figures.

              That is the primary advantage of using historical definitions over the definition as it is used by the nearest breathless newscaster; you don’t get led astray by momentary convulsions in contemporary political jargon. As Darrell said, crazies don’t get to own the terms they like to associate with, and they can only get away with it if people who know better are too lazy to challenge it. A “pragmatic” approach to what words mean would render most of political history unreadable and all political terms basically useless. You might as well take every instance of “liberal” and “conservative” and replace them with Star-bellied and Plain-bellied Sneeches.

              • Coyotenose

                 Two words: “Pro-Life”.

                We make concessions to what people call themselves for the sake of dialogue and so that we aren’t derailed when they start (legitimately or not) challenging what we call ourselves.

                • 3lemenope

                  If that is actually a concession in service to dialogue, then it can’t also be used as a bludgeon to exclude everyone under the umbrella of the term from the ranks of non-idiots. It can’t serve as both. 

              • C Peterson

                It is just the way it is. If you don’t want people to misunderstand your views, you can’t call yourself a conservative and leave it at that. If you do, you almost certainly will be misunderstood.

                Historical definitions mean nothing outside of elevated discussions. What matters is how people actually use words in everyday practice. If you mean something different than that (including any historical meaning), you’d better be clear about it!

                • 3lemenope

                  It is just the way it is.

                  No, it was *made* that way. You’re misunderstanding the thrust of the critique. I’m not saying that many people don’t go around misusing these political terms–obviously they do–it’s that people who know better, including you, do as well, and *that’s* why the term has changed in the discourse. It isn’t magic, it’s people deliberately misusing a term for rhetorical advantage. 

                  If you know that the historical, time-tested definition is one thing, and the current popular local definition is something else, and you willfully use the second to the exclusion of the first, you are part of the problem, and the whole “but it was like this when we got here” routine sounds pretty silly.

                  If you don’t want people to misunderstand your views, you can’t call yourself a conservative and leave it at that. If you do, you almost certainly will be misunderstood.

                  This conversation started when one person declared conservative thought an oxymoron, pretty off-handedly I might add. Mine wasn’t a view to be misunderstood, but a label apparently to be abused; to wit, there is no such thing as “conservative thought”, to the point that the mere implication of such existing is humorous. *Any* person who self-identifies as a conservative, of whatever shade or variety, reading that, has grounds to take offense, regardless of how textured or qualified their conservatism needs to be to be communicated to people who apparently can believe such a thing. My conservatism, as I  have described it on other days in other threads, is detailed enough that I think your “use more words to describe the position others are thoughtlessly denigrating” is an odd one to direct at me. I do, and it certainly doesn’t insulate me when someone wants to make a jibe inclusive of all conservatives.

                  Since you mentioned it earlier, I find it odd that since you like to be precise about the usage and meanings of “atheist” and “agnostic” despite, shall we say, popular drift of the concepts, why is that reasonable to be fussy about but my desire to not be off-handedly dismissed because I share a label with those who have hijacked it is not?

                • C Peterson

                  Okay. I’ll agree the definition was made.

                  But I also consider “conservative thought” to be an oxymoron in the current political environment.

                • 3lemenope

                  So we should take everything written by David Frum, Andrew Sullivan, Francis Fukuyama, Conor Friedersdorf, Christopher Hitchens, George Will, Peggy Noonan, Bruce Bartlett, Reihan Salam, Ross Douthat, Radley Balko, P. J. O’Rourke, Jim Manzi…

                  …written in the past ten years of so and just throw it all in the trash. It isn’t worth a damn, not one idea between them worth considering. 

                  Yes?

                • C Peterson

                  No. But the fact remains, in you are not careful about context, “conservative” will be confused. The vast majority of people do not currently associate the word with the views of any of those you listed, but with the views of Limaugh and Akin and Bachmann.

                  I’m pretty savvy politically, but my first reaction to “conservative” in most contexts, absent clarification, is the latter. So I have no problem at all with the assertion made earlier, given the context, suggesting that “conservative” and “thought” are oxymoronic.

                • 3lemenope

                  Replyat bottom; text splits getting crazy. :)

              • sunburned

                 I would say a more pragmatic approach would be to distance yourself from crazy.

                If your a Goldwater conservative say so.  That way there isn’t any ambiguity. 

                You cannot control what/how other people define themselves.  You can certainly control how you define yourself.

            • Coyotenose

               That sounds suspiciously like several issues with terms like Atheist, Humanist, Bright, Atheism +…

              Nah. :P

        • 3lemenope

          I am of the school of thought that “words mean things”. Crazy, I know, but it generally means that when a word has an established and long-standing meaning, the people who seek to use it another way are…wrong. For what it’s worth, this attempt to redefine the term really only has taken place in one country; everywhere else,  conservative means what it has always meant. The US doesn’t have a monopoly on the meaning of political terms, which occasionally historically means when Americans talk out loud about politics, we sound like morons to the rest of the world. This is one of those times. I can blame people for being ignorant about what they speak.

          While there is certainly an older type of conservatism, a rational way of viewing the world, if you call yourself a conservative today you will almost certainly be seen in the modern light of the word, not the one that you use to represent yourself.Older? Come on. Burke is admittedly old, but Nozick and Oakeshott are squarely modern, both writing in the middle of the 1900′s. Anarchy, State, and Utopia was published in 1974. To claim this as the correct meaning of the word “conservative” does not require me to reach back to some remote antiquated period to capture archaic thought processes and ancient viewpoints. We’re talking about a scholarship that hails from all of forty years ago. The great liberal theorists like Rorty and Rawls who nearly nobody has read either (from what I can tell) hail from the same period.

           Using a single word to describe an entire social, political, and economic world view is pretty hopeless, anyway. When discussing your beliefs, you’re better off using at least several words if you want people to get some grasp of where you stand.

          Well, and this is where it comes down to it. I almost never use one word when several will do; I am certainly not blessed with a tendency toward brevity. And in the past, when I have talked (here and elsewhere) about my political viewpoint I have used the word “conservative” as a touchstone from which to launch more detailed explanations and analyses. From that experience, I can say that having “one word” from which to start, a label that accurately summarizes a disposition perhaps better than a set of policy principles, is invaluable. It seems silly to me to discard a useful tool because some people do not meet the requisites to understand its use properly.

          But if someone starts off with some version of…and you’re an idiot, how could you possibly be anything else, because [label]…, one never gets to the “several words” since why would a person waste their time giving several words to a person who judges them on the misunderstanding of one? I put it out there as pointing to an irritant, since I’m a member of this community and communities should be able to discuss things like this without having one’s intelligence questioned off-handedly in service to political opinion.

          • C Peterson

            I also believe that using words correctly is important (which is one reason I often complain about the misuse of “atheist” and “agnostic” in this and other forums). But the reality is, the meanings of words shift, and “conservative” does mean something different now than it meant in the past, and (as you note) it carries different senses depending on where (geographically) it is used.

            I’m just being pragmatic here. In typical current American usage, it isn’t a word any rational person would want applied to themselves. I consider myself fiscally conservative (by which I mean that, regardless of how much the government spends- and I’m in favor of large spending, it should never spend more than it takes in- I’m also in favor of large taxation). You see what I did there? I said “fiscally conservative” but then expanded on that. Because even those two words do not serve to define my view.

            • 3lemenope

              You see what I did there? I said “fiscally conservative” but then expanded on that. Because even those two words do not serve to define my view.

              I did see what you did there, and it strikes me as a pretty hollow argument. You might think that “regardless of how much the government spends- and I’m in favor of large spending, it should never spend more than it takes in- I’m also in favor of large taxation” means more than “fiscal conservative” means more than “conservative”, and you’d be right. So every time we talk about politics, is it reasonable for me to demand that you use the first instead of the second to describe your position? And that probably won’t do either. In order for me to be sure exactly what you mean by your expanded fiscal conservatism sentence I’d have to ask you for numerous other details. Otherwise I’m sure to make an error of assumption that would ascribe some policy position to you that you don’t hold. When the fiscal situation dictates a change, do you on balance support raising taxes or curtailing spending? Or does it matter specifically on which program might be cut, or upon who taxes would be raised? Should a dedicated tax be raised for any new program, or is it OK to expand taxes originally inaugurated for other purposes?Can all those fine-grained decisions be covered in a convenient label-rich sentence?

              If a person’s metaphysical position is best described as “an agnostic adeist and a gnostic atheist” as Daniel Fincke recently did, is it necessary for him to say that in the place of “atheist”, or will “atheist” do just fine for most purposes, where the only thing being touched upon is believing or not in any given deity? Some details really only pertain to specialized contexts.

              When confronted with a label that doesn’t provide enough information for a context (and, really, objecting to a denigration of a label shouldn’t have much of a prerequisite, but still), it is entirely beyond the pale to ask for clarification? Like if someone said “I’m a conservative” and the subject was gay marriage, you could either make an assumption like “hey, this asshat must be bigoted against gay marriage because he’s a conservative” or you could ask, and perhaps be surprised by a response like “I think that supporting gay marriage is a conservative position because it shores up an institution upon which many of our social structures depend and allows more people who were formerly excluded from participating in that very important structure to participate fully”. You may well not, but of course you’d never know until you asked.

              • C Peterson

                In a casual discussion of politics, I’d choose to identify myself as neither conservative or liberal, both words being too vague and neither, in the current vernacular, really describing my views. In any deeper discussion, I’d obviously define my views using as many words as necessary.

                Given the choice, I prefer to be pragmatic and avoid overly simplified usage that I have reason to believe will be unclear to many people.

                • 3lemenope

                  If someone then wrote “the idea of fiscal conservatism is laughable, and fiscal conservatives are idiots” (much as this thread started), would you feel restrained from responding because although you hold a position that is fiscally conservative, you don’t feel comfortable with the label? Would you leave it to another fiscal conservative to defend fiscal conservatism for fear that you’d be pigeon-holed as that sort of fiscal conservative, and not the other sort?

                  All communication comes pre-packaged with ambiguity of meaning. It’s an ineluctable part of human communication–perhaps ironically underwritten by that which requires human communication to be undertaken in the first place–and it does not matter whether the answer to a question is one word long or ten paragraphs. Recourse to anomia simply because someone somewhere might misunderstand you when you take a label strikes me as a problematic position to advocate. 

                  If Stalin and Mao and baby-eating satanism aren’t enough to put one off using the word “atheist” to self-describe in our culture, then it’s difficult to see how Limbaugh and Akin and people who think Atlas Shrugged is the pinnacle of all English literature could possibly put a person off of the word “conservative”. Every “side” has idiots. The trap is in assuming the other side is only idiots. And if you care (and in this case, if you vote/campaign, you care) you’re on a side, even if that side doesn’t have a name sufficiently comfortable for you. Pretending to not hold an explicable position cashes out as little more than a rhetorical stance, but to state your positions, sometimes you do indeed have to put up with being misunderstood. If they want to know more, they’ll ask, or perhaps you could offer extra details if you think your conversation partner has mistaken you in the course of the discussion.

                  (And just to come full circle, putting up with being misunderstood is different in turn from putting up with blanket insults directed at your identity.)

                • C Peterson

                  The term “fiscal conservative” doesn’t really carry the same baggage as “conservative”. While the former is still rather vague, it is nowhere near as useless as the latter.

              • TheBlackCat

                 You completely ignored the whole point of Peterson’s comment, which is that language changes over time.  Just because conservative meant one thing in the past, does not imply it means the same thing now, or that it will mean the same thing in the future.  The meaning of words changes over time.

                • 3lemenope

                  The argument over words changing meaning focused on whether the intentionality of such shifts was relevant; he was proposing, essentially, that words change and “that’s the way it is”, as though it was a natural process, and I’ve been arguing that labels like this one tend to shift because people desire them to, rejecting the natural hypothesis in these cases. 

                  Maybe you missed that part of the thread.

          • RobertoTheChi

            I describe myself as fiscally conservative and a social liberal who the 2nd Amendment is important to when describing my political stance.

          • Coyotenose

             I usually call them neocons because I can recognize the concept of an “Eisenhower Conservative”. (Quick tip: if they throw a shit-fit when you say “neocon” in reference to anything, they are definitely one.) But – and please keep in mind, as far as I can tell, this does not apply to you – too often, in fact nearly always, conservatives here throw their hats into the ring with the crazies, betraying a bizarre circle-the-wagons mentality that won’t allow them to speak ill of one another to outsiders*. When they do so, I can only invoke Indiana Jones’s angry words to Elsa about who one chooses to stand with. Those are the people belittling and corrupting your political voice, the ones who are getting away with claiming it as their own. It’s not the people who treat the most prevalent voice by a couple of orders of magnitude as if it is the most representative of the species.

            *I’ve seen them – in print so they had time to think about what they were saying – defend people whom they admit they know are liars because “they just want what’s best”, express absolutely no problem with documented political manipulation and corruption because the transgressors are “right anyway”, and back up people who seriously suggested forced sterilization for minority teenagers to reduce Welfare because “they’re just frustrated at the president.” People like yourself are an extreme minority not because your opinions are truer to Conservatism, but because you will actually call conservatives and not lie to protect them from Evil Liberals in some psychotic version of “First they came for the Socialists…”

            • 3lemenope

              Quick tip: if they throw a shit-fit when you say “neocon” in reference to anything, they are definitely one.

              While not precisely a “shit-fit”, the term ‘Neo-Conservative’ is a very precise, inside-baseball sort of term for a very small cadre of Hawk Democrats and anti-Red (and ironically ex-Trotskyite) academics who wished to distinguish their stance from (then) modern liberalism which they thought was too soft on Communism, while retaining a social moderate-to-liberal position on domestic issues and an on-again-off-again love of Keynes for economic direction…and it is never, EVER, used accurately anymore.

              This does not make me a neo-con, just an irritable political scientist. :) The only reason it entered the lexicon at all was because figures who had come to prominence as neo-cons, like Fukuyama and Podhoretz, were also the ones enthusiastic about a war with Iraq, and so the word somehow, somewhat insanely, became synonymous with “GWB’s administration, full stop”. Most of the movers in the administration, including the ones most responsible for war, such as Cheney and Rumsfeld, were not neo-cons either self-described or otherwise. The highest ranking actual neo-con in the GWB administration was Paul Wolfowitz. 

              I’d suggest folks who want to know more about the history and constitution of neo-conservatism should read Francis Fukuyama’s “America at the Crossroads”, which is something of a retrospective of the movement from a prominent former, disillusioned member. It’s a remarkably fair history, though the author lets himself off the hook a bit easily (much like McNamara’s “Fog of War”). 

              EDIT: And no to your larger question. I am not one of those circle-the-wagon conservatives. I have no use for people who cannot tolerate criticism, much less occasionally actually being wrong and owning up to it.

        • usclat

          Exactly. Bravo. 

      • Octoberfurst

         I sympathize with you but unfortunately being a “conservative” now means that you align yourself with creationists, Bible-thumpers, gay-bashers, misogynists, bigots and anti-intellectual cretins.  It didn’t use to be that way.  William F Buckley used to be your standard bearer and I admired him. But now you have people like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, etc as leaders of the movement.  It’s like having Anthony Hopkins as your acting coach and then  having him being replaced by Chuck Norris.
           So it is up to you and like-minded allies to take back the conservative movement so that “conservative” isn’t a synonym for “reactionary” anymore.

        • 3lemenope

            So it is up to you and like-minded allies to take back the conservative movement so that “conservative” isn’t a synonym for “reactionary” anymore.

          Well, I agree with this. But none of it justifies the pre-emptive disqualification from having anything worth saying, now, does it?

          And I do blame “liberals” (yeah, that one has shifted in the US too, nearly as radically) for the current state of affairs too, insofar as they perpetuate and accentuate these stereotypes for their own political advantage; after all, it’s easier to out-act Chuck Norris than it is to out-act Sir Anthony Hopkins. They don’t want a fair fight with an ideological adversary, because that would mean they’d occasionally have to admit error. Much easier is exploiting cultural touchstones to push their adversaries even further into Crazyland. From 1998-2008 the Dems made it their business to crush middle of the road Republicans while often not even bothering to challenge fire breathers. Jeffords, Chafee, Morella, Bass, Leach, Johnson, Simmons all were defeated, eviscerating the moderate wing of the GOP. When the modern GOP becomes *that wrong*, the Dems don’t have to worry about being criticized for not being right, because all they have to do is point.

          • http://politicsproseotherthings.blogspot.com/ Nathaniel

             Uh, it wasn’t Democrats who voted out non looney Republicans.

            • 3lemenope

              The party decides how to spend its finite resources. They pick and choose who will be targeted and who will remain unchallenged. And the pattern is crystal clear; the dems systematically picked off borderline republicans preferentially, for many reasons. Many already had faltering support from their own party (which had already started to swing full right) which made them vulnerable, and they allowed the dems to run less liberal candidates as spoilers in areas where their unadulterated ideas don’t have much traction. They pointedly left alone or did not support opponents against the scariest republicans. Voters can’t very effectively vote against an unopposed candidate.

              • TheBlackCat

                I am sure you have some evidence that the dems could have won against the scariest candidates.  As you said, they have finite resources.  What is the point of wasting those resources in a race they had close to zero chance of winning?  You are the one claiming they should have done this, so the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate it was anything other than a total waste.

          • Antinomian

            “From 1998-2008 the Dems made it their business to crush middle of the road Republicans while often not even bothering to challenge fire breathers. Jeffords, Chafee, Morella, Bass, Leach, Johnson, Simmons all were defeated, eviscerating the moderate wing of the GOP.”
             
            Um, well, no, not exactly..
             
            I only went as far as Jeffords and Chafee who defected to the Democratic Party. That in itself is enough to declare shenegans on that statement.
             
            Then I checked out Morella and Bass. You can’t say Morella was crushed by Democrats
            when the truth is, she served eight terms as a Rebublican in a heavily Democratic district and was defeated by a Democrat. Bass is back in Congress as of 2010. Jim Leach was refused backing by the Republican party because of his refusal to allow Republican activists to distribute an anti-gay mailing and replaced by a Democrat. You’ll have to clarify which Johnson you’re speaking of: Libertarian Gary, Senator Ron or chair lynching Bud.

            Beneath the skin of any socalled “Liberal” I think that you’ll usually find a “Fiscal Conservative” since anyone in their right mind wouldn’t want our government to spend more than they take in. So YES, the conservative movement has lost its mind and bearings in its focus on private social issues, a black man in the White House, how much the poor suck and how to make the rich richer, instead of improving the life and futures for all Americans.

            But to say that “Liberals”, and I get the feeling that when you say the word “Liberals” you look like you have a mouth full of alum, have ‘crushed’ the moderate Republicans is disingeneous at best. The conserative movement, led by the xtian right and their snooping scolds are who is responsible for the loss of moderates in the Republican Party.
             

            • 3lemenope

              Um, well, no, not exactly..

               
              I only went as far as Jeffords and Chafee who defected to the Democratic Party. That in itself is enough to declare shenegans on that statement.

              Chafee did not defect to the Democrats; he is currently the Independent governor of Rhode Island, after losing his re-election bid as a Republican to Sheldon Whitehouse, after fending off a primary challenger (Steven Laffey). Chafee, at the time, was the most liberal GOP member of the Senate.  The Whitehouse campaign was heavily supported by the national Dems, Chafee not so much by the GOP. He lost by a hair. 

              Jeffords, likewise, did not defect to the Democratic party. He moved from Republican to Independent following some rather stupid GOP procedural maneuvering which left him in the cold, so Jeffords is more of a self-inflicted wound. He declined to re-run after the switch, citing his wife’s cancer diagnosis, so he really isn’t a data point either way, but serves more as a bellweather for what happened to GOP moderates afterward.

              Then I checked out Morella and Bass. You can’t say Morella was crushed by Democrats when the truth is, she served eight terms as a Republican in a heavily Democratic district and was defeated by a Democrat.

              Uh, what? Are you entirely clear what it is I’m actually arguing? This is a *perfect example* of what I claimed, which is that moderate GOP officeholders, such as Morella, got defeated with a little help from Democrats actually running someone serious against them; upwards of 80% of House races nationally are not competitive each year due to many factors, prominent among them no credible challenger is presented and/or no resources are expended by the party to attempt to elect them. In Morella’s case, the actual culprit was a twofer; there was a credible challenger who was well-funded, and atop that was the redistricting done (intentionally, according to the Maryland Senate President, no less, who was a Democrat in a heavily democratically controlled legislature) by the legislature to undermine her bid for re-election. To make it the perfect case for my point, she in fact was more liberal, record-wise, than her Democratic challenger.

              Before you sound off about how obviously wrong someone is with their examples, you might do well to understand those examples first.

              • Antinomian

                Uh, what? Are you entirely clear what it is I’m actually arguing? This is a *perfect example* of what I claimed, which is that moderate GOP officeholders, such as Morella, got defeated with a little help from Democrats actually running someone serious against them;

                Let’s repeat this gem one more time:
                This is a *perfect example* of what I claimed, which is that moderate GOP officeholders, such as Morella, got defeated with a little help from Democrats actually running someone serious against them;

                So that I’m clear on what you’re saying, may I rephrase this and say; the Democrats, whos job is to win seats to try to gain a majority should NOT have run anyone serious about their job to preserve a moderate Republican in office,  even though it may give the Republican party the opportunity to hold a majority.

                You should know; I enjoy and always read your posts any many times learn from them. But, to blame the Democrats and Liberals for the loss of moderates when their own party won’t support them is, is:
                Are you sure your not a poe? Stephen Colbert is that you?

                • 3lemenope

                  Well, I suppose it all depends on whether you think politics should be about policy outcomes or whether it should be about your team winning.

                  If you think politics should be about policy outcomes, then it makes little-to-no sense to preferentially target ideological allies that happen to be party enemies with scarce party resources. Instead, you’d want to defeat ideological enemies who would actually try to stymie your preferred policy prescriptions, while reaching across the aisle for ideological support for your proposals.

                  If, on the other hand, winning for your party is all that matters, then it certainly makes sense to target flagging ideological allies that happen to be of the other party, as the other party probably doesn’t like them any way. You get a win, and another person in your column, though when it matters (such as when you actually try to pass legislation that matches your policy desires) your new party member turns out to be less amenable to your bold policy because he/she had to run to the left/right of their opponent to outflank them with their own dissatisfied base, not to mention the firebreather down the hall you didn’t bother to oppose.

                  Personally I couldn’t give a damn which party wins what seat, and care a great deal more strongly about what actually ends up in the laws they propose and vote for. So, some party faithful might throw a celebration when a Morella goes down to a Van Hollen, but if they actually cared about anything they supposedly stand for, the champagne would remain in the bottle.

                  I tend to think that politics is about governing, and that elections are the unfortunate necessity. Some people, for unfathomable reasons, think that the election is everything, and the governing part is just what they have to wait through between elections. 

                • Antinomian

                  You’re right, right, right, and right again.

                  But policy ain’t politics.
                  Many times good policy makes bad politics and vis-a-versa.

                   Politics are about winning, and sadly, at any cost.

                  I look at the non-support of the moderate Republicans by their own party as a tactical retreat in order to gain an enemy to fight and demonize. Plus the Republican lawmakers you used as an example wouldn’t dance at the party’s ideological purity
                  ball.

                • 3lemenope

                  Well, quite so. I certainly wouldn’t hold the GOP blameless for their moderate losses; it was just as much their intentional neglect (for the reasons you outline) as much as a sudden enthusiasm from the Democrats that did the moderates in. Neither was a sufficient condition, but together is what did it.

                  My thing is, then everyone on the Democrat side a couple of years later can be found moaning about “Wherefore have all the sane Republicans gone away?” at which point I just icily stare at them for a bit.

                  Look, I’m not saying that the Democrats or the Republicans shouldn’t play to win. That is, as you pointed out, their job. But given the overarching task, and given that the task is not an end-in-itself but purportedly only a means to achieve greater policy ends, there are better ways to go about it. Those choices somehow never get made well, to the detriment even of the party’s own viability down the line. The GOP certainly is reaping the whirlwind on its insane program for greater ideological purity.

          • TheBlackCat

            “From 1998-2008 the Dems made it their business to crush middle of the
            road Republicans while often not even bothering to challenge fire
            breathers.”

            Let me see if I understand this: democrats would rather have people in power who agree with them on issues rather than people who agree with them on some issues and disagree on others?  And that they focused their efforts in districts where they actually had a chance of accomplishing their goals rather than ones where they didn’t?  The only thing that surprising about this is that you consider this some sort of nefarious plan on the dems part.  It isn’t, it is common sense.

            The moderate republicans were already marginalized by their party long before that.  You can only point out a handful of people that were moderate out of hundreds.  How much power and influence did they have in their party?  What were they accomplishing there that was stopped by replacing them with dems?

  • The Godless Monster

    Piece of shit, scum sucking, fascist assholes like Don Moel are the reason I support the 2nd Amendment and the right to be able to adequately defend myself, my loved ones and friends.
    I’m fed up with reading or hearing about death threats from the American Taliban. Time for more candid discussion on effectively dealing with aggression from these bastards.
    Probably time to fire up the old blog again…

    • CelticWhisper

      Same here.  I don’t particularly like guns, but I DO particularly like rights, and so I support the 2nd Amendment on that ground.  Protect the rights you don’t care about (gun ownership) because sooner or later, someone’ll try to come for the ones you do (freedom from religion) and knowing that people stand up for all rights is going to make it a more daunting proposition to try to attack any.

      I know atheism is commonly associated with some stereotypically “American liberal” values, due in no small part to the GOP courting religious social conservatives, but this is one area where I’m more than willing to go against the grain.  I remember the excerpt from a fundie hate-letter that was printed in The God Delusion, where the christian says “My rifle is loaded!” when talking about a supposed coming war between religious and secular people.  My initial thought was “Screw you, so is mine.”

      I support the 2nd Amendment if for no other reason than to shove it in the faces of the religious that they DON’T have a monopoly on gun ownership and the ability to protect their lives, liberty, property and families from aggressors.

      Maybe it all seems a bit barbaric, but back me into a corner and the last thing I’m going to do is say “okay, you win, I’ll roll over and do whatever you ask.”

      • Tainda

        I’m the same way.  The criminals are going to get guns whether they are illegal or not.  I don’t own a gun because I don’t like them but that doesn’t mean someone else can’t own them.

        Though I don’t like the argument of protecting yourself if someone breaks in.  Unless you have the gun loaded by you at all times, they are going to get the jump on you.

        • CelticWhisper

           True, and that’s why I’m more of an advocate of people learning martial arts.  You become your own weapon, you gain acute insight into exactly what your body is and isn’t capable of, and you learn how to control application of force to cause as little injury as possible to all involved while still maintaining control of the altercation.  Great workout and confidence-builder, too.

          And no, I’m not talking about that Women’s/Parent’s/Men’s/Generic Humanoid Carbon Units’ “Streetwise Self Defense” bullshit you see flyers for on college campuses.  Learn a real martial art, the kind you can’t master in a 2-hour course at the local park district.  Something like Kung-Fu, Hapkido, or Jiu-Jitsu.  Something that teaches you theory, principle and practice of using your body to defend yourself, and not just a cheap-ass bag of one-off tricks to clumsily throw at an assailant before crying “ERMAHGERRRRD!” and running off.  Advanced classes even include the psychology of confrontation and how to cause an assailant to second-guess themselves long enough to give you the seconds you need to disarm or evade them so, again, nobody gets hurt.

          Learned well and applied properly, the martial arts will mostly obviate the need for a firearm.  I wish more people studied them.  Since they don’t, though, (and even if they did) I’m still a staunch defender of weapon-ownership rights.  Again, not because I love guns, but because I love rights.

          • Tainda

            I actually thought about learning some form of martial arts now that I’m in shape lol

            I keep pepper spray and a bat by my bed.  Though more than likely I will just end up spraying myself in the eyes and getting the shit beat out of me with my own bat.

            • CelticWhisper

               Times like that make me wish I had a pet facehugger.  Sure, it’d die the first time it defended me, but hey…then I’d have a new pet.  :)

              • TheBlackCat

                 “It’s cancer, you can’t teach it tricks”

                • Coyotenose

                   Where is that quote from and can I get a copy of whatever it is?

            • Grizzz

              Know how to use the spray. When I went through “Bear School” I had to take a full face of the bear-strength capsicum spray. 

              I would rather have both my femurs broken with baseball bats than take another face full of that shit.

              • Tainda

                I  know how to use it but I have a tendency to have bad stuff happen to me through no fault of my own.  In other words, I’m an accident waiting to happen lol  I’m the girl who shattered her ankle just from slipping on some ice.

                • Coyotenose

                   Gotcha beat. *cue up the Bigger Scar Contest from Jaws, Lethal Weapon 3, Chasing Amy…*

                  At the age of five, I snapped a bone in my lower leg by falling off a log less than one foot in diameter. And I have no relevant health issues to explain that.

            • Don Gwinn

              That’s actually not likely at all.  If you’ve thought it through and done some practice, you’re way ahead of most people.  The idea that your weapon usually gets taken away and used against you is silly when you think about it–it’s possible to do that, but if it was the most common outcome, nobody, including police and criminals, would use weapons.
              Disarming someone is *hard* and *dangerous.*  Don’t sell yourself short.

          • PessimiStick

            “You become your own weapon, you gain acute insight into exactly what your body is and isn’t capable of, and you learn how to control application of force to cause as little injury as possible to all involved while still maintaining control of the altercation.”

            Controlling the application of force is for training.  I don’t crank an armbar or a heelhook because I don’t want to hurt my friends/training partners.  In an actual self defense situation, I apply technique with 100% force.  The health of the assailant is not even remotely on my mind.

            “Learned well and applied properly, the martial arts will mostly obviate the need for a firearm. ”  

            This, on the other hand, is complete bullshit.  There is no martial art on earth that will protect you from someone who knows how to use a gun properly, and wants to shoot you.  Assuming equal skill/crisis management abilities, a person with a gun wins against a person without one 99 times out of 100.

            • shouldbeworkin

              “There is no martial art on earth that will protect you from someone who knows how to use a gun properly, and wants to shoot you. ”

              As long as that knowledge includes  knowing how far away from an individual you need to be in order to fire before being engaged, I agree with you. 

            • Antinomian

              Wait! What? I can’t bring my karate chop to a gunfight?

          • http://www.zazzle.com/atheist_tees The Godless Monster

            I used to be a use of force instructor and trained in TKD and Jeet Kune Do many, many years ago. Also played around with some of Michael D. Echanis’s techniques (THAT should date me) and was an instructor in Lamb Baton and P.P.C.T., both of which I abandoned for S.C.A.R.S. , developed by Jerry Peterson.
            I was also a weapons instructor in the service and worked as a private military security contractor overseas after 9/11.
            Might I suggest Krav Maga (I have not trained in this system, but am convinced of its effectiveness) or S.C.A.R.S. (mentioned earlier). The martial arts you listed are good alternatives if you cannot afford the training in the systems I mentioned, but do not seem as comprehensive in their coverage of effective disarming techniques. While I have a high level of competency, I am NOT an expert in this field, so I may be mistaken. I am an expert in firearms.
            That being said, I would humbly suggest that martial arts do not eliminate the need for weapons and training in  their use. To give all of my reasons why would take some time to write and I’ve hijacked this thread enough.
            I like guns, but can’t say that I’ve ever “loved” them. Anyone who does probably needs their head checked. I like tools and to me the weapons I keep on my person, vehicle and home are just tools for different jobs.

            • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

              Peter Boghossian hosted an MMA fighter (trying to find the video) who basically said most martial arts don’t teach you shit about actual defense.  As I recall, he mentioned Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling as being better.  A lot of real life ends up on the ground.  Kung Fu is so broad, IDK.

              I think the main thing though is how do you know that you can defend yourself?  It’s no different than anything else.  You have to be skeptical, and have a way to objectively assess.  If the most you do it try to tap an opponent wearing pads, using some set of rules the opponent is using, you’re setting yourself up to be surprised in real life.

              • http://www.zazzle.com/atheist_tees The Godless Monster

                 Yes, most martial arts don’t each anything about real fighting. I speak form personal experience, not from some video. Still, soem martial arts training is better than none at all, given the right circumstances.

                “I think the main thing though is how do you know that you can defend yourself?”

                One has either trained and practiced how to fight or they haven’t. You can either fight or you cannot fight. Whether you win is another story. Perhaps your opponent is more skilled then you. Maybe he isn’t, but he gets in a lucky shot and offs you.
                The best of the best die in combat just like the lowliest of poorly trained grunts. Maybe not as often, but it still happens. The idea is to stack the deck in your favor, not to “know” that you can defend yourself.

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  I should have added another Donald Rumsfeld meta level of ‘know’ to my statement.

                  It’s one thing to go into a fight, and know that nothing is certain.  It’s quite another to think that because someone gave you a black belt that you have some magic power.
                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEDaCIDvj6I 

                  So, more like you said, you don’t know you can win, as opposed to the guy who ‘knows’ he can win.  Kind of like having faith.

                • Grizzz

                  I have only been in three “real fights” in my life – you know the type. These are the fights that are real life-threatening situations that are vicious and all out. In all three I fought “dirty” – which is a misnomer because under those circumstances there is no such thing as “fair” fighting. The other person means to do me real harm. I am not going to go by the “Marquis of Queensbury” rules. I managed to do enough harm to the other person in each situation that they backed away. 

                  But during the actual fights, there was no sophisticated technique, no “fisticuffs” and managed hits. It was all out hurt as much as possible. I don’t ever want to be in another fight such as these because one of two things will happen:

                  (a) I will kill the other person during the fight, defense or otherwise and I will pay the price emotionally, legally and mentally.

                  (b) I will get damaged and/or killed.

                  I will fight and defend myself like a freaking badger/wolverine/bear but I also know that I would rather do everything in my power to avoid that conflict.

                • The Godless Monster

                  ” I will fight and defend myself like a freaking badger/wolverine/bear but
                  I also know that I would rather do everything in my power to avoid that
                  conflict.”

                  That’s the best policy.

              • http://www.zazzle.com/atheist_tees The Godless Monster

                 excuse all the typos…

          • shouldbeworkin

            “you learn how to control application of force to cause as little injury as possible to all involved while still maintaining control of the altercation. ”

            From this (and the fact you mentioned it) I’m guessing you studied Hapkido.  :)

          • nakedanthropologist

            I’m with you on that one.  I’ve been studying pai lum since I was a kid, and its definitely helped me in more than one occassion.  Word of warning to all those interested in martial arts though: don’t go to one of those “black belt factory” schools.  If you can get your black belt in three years – then you’re taking the wrong the class, amirite?

        • http://www.zazzle.com/atheist_tees The Godless Monster

           

          “Though I don’t like the argument of protecting yourself if someone
          breaks in.  Unless you have the gun loaded by you at all times, they are
          going to get the jump on you.”

          Actually, that’s not true in many cases. Yes, they might “get the jump on you”, but it’s incorrect to try to present all home invasions as if they happen in the same way. There are far too many variables involved in interpersonal physical conflict to make a blanket statement such as you made. There are many folks alive today because they had access to a safely stored firearm in their home and had the time and/or presence of mind to load it and use it effectively.
          Me? I have a loaded firearm within arm’s reach 24/7.
          Just my 2¢…

        • Gringa

           I too support someone’s right to own a weapon, but I get nervous that people can get them so easily and don’t know how to use them properly.  Having a gun in the home is likely to cause an accidental death of a family member.  I think there should be training requirements for gun ownership, similar to the fact that you have to pass a drivers test and in some cases a road test before getting a drivers license.

          • http://www.zazzle.com/atheist_tees The Godless Monster

             

            “Having a gun in the home is likely to cause an accidental death of a family member.”

            Can you cite your sources?

            • Coyotenose

               I think there are just some very important words missing from the quote. People who own guns are far more likely to have an accident causing injury or death with them than they are to successfully protect their household from an intruder.

              • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                I thought it was worded so as to include suicide, by either the owner or someone else.

                Basically “more likely that a ‘good’ person his hurt than a ‘bad’ person.

              • sunburned

                 I sense a disturbance in the force:

                People who own knives are far more likely to have an accident causing injury or death with them than they are to successfully protect their household from an intruder.

                Any object can be inserted here.  The presence of the object in question creates the statistic.

                People who own cars are more likely to have an accident with a car than protect their families from an intruder.

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  What are the odds on a given day that said object will serve its intended purpose, as opposed to being a significant factor in injury or death?

                • sunburned

                  The odds are pretty good as it provides personal protection all the time without causing a single injury.   Just like a smoke alarm provides protection:)

                  I wish I could say the same for cars.

                • Coyotenose

                   The purpose of keeping a handgun in the household is almost always that of personal protection. They cause harm more often than they fulfill their intended function. Your analogies don’t fit.

                • sunburned

                   “They cause harm more often than they fulfill their intended function.”

                  Really?  My handgun provides personal protection 365 days a year and has never caused harm.

                  My car on the other hand…that is a different story.

        • Coyotenose

           Yeah, seriously. Instances of someone actually successfully defending themselves because they owned a gun are trivial compared to injuries and deaths caused by those who own a gun “for defense”. Some people are mature, but most get stupider and more aggressive when they consider a handgun to be among their tool kit for handling situations.

          Remember when there were ten people shot in NYC recently because of a gunman? NINE of them were hit by professional police. Yet the dimwit neocons here insist that civilians carrying handguns would make everyone safer.

          • The Godless Monster

            “Remember when there were ten people shot in NYC recently because of a gunman? NINE of them were hit by professional police.”

            Ironically, it was because of gun control advocates that those cops ended up shooting those folks.
            NYPD cannot hit a fucking thing with their standard issue sidearms because know-nothing nannies decided to make it mandatory that the pistols be DAO and have heavier than normal trigger pulls. Why? Because these shit-for-brains thought it would be safer if the guns were impossible to shoot without Herculean force. Combine that with the fact that it takes much, much longer to train with such CRAP to even become marginally efficient  and that the NYPD doesn’t spend the needed amount of time and money on training their “professional” police and you have a recipe for disaster.
            Actually an armed citizen with a decent weapon and marginal training would have done better than those NYPD officer did.
            I’m a former small arms and use of force instructor, btw.

            • Coyotenose

               *facepalms*

              I know that police rarely get as much training as they need, but the pistol thing… wtf.

              • The Godless Monster

                 Yeah, messed up, isn’t it?

          • http://www.zazzle.com/atheist_tees The Godless Monster

             

            “Some people are mature, but most get stupider and more aggressive
            when they consider a handgun to be among their tool kit for handling
            situations.

            Remember when there were ten people shot in NYC recently because of a
            gunman? NINE of them were hit by professional police. Yet the dimwit
            neocons here insist that civilians carrying handguns would make everyone
            safer.”

            The incident that you use to demonstrate your POV isn’t a good one, but I agree with your overall take on this to some degree. Most folks that currently carry have NOT received proper instruction and I question the ability of many of them to do the right thing in a stressful (but less than lethal) situation.
            I was threatened by a concealed carry permit holder (he did not pull his weapon, btw), but was able to deescalate the situation before I had to pull my weapon.
            I support the right to carry, but with strong reservations.

      • http://twitter.com/ylaenna M. Elaine

        I think when it comes down to it most liberals aren’t against the 2nd Amendement per se, but do have a problem with rocket launchers and automatic weapons in the hands of pscyhologically unstable nut jobs.

        • http://www.facebook.com/eukota Darrell Ross

          I agree. The right to bear arms was introduced at a time when guns had a single shot and took 30 seconds to reload if you were quick. I think the closest to rockets would be owning a cannon.

          I understand the importance of the right to bear arms but there has to be some middle ground.

          • Coyotenose

            The Second Amendment is also explicit in its reference to well-regulated militias, which means it isn’t about owning a gun on your own behalf, it’s about keeping a gun to defend your community/state/nation against outside aggression as part of an organized, well-regulated group. It essentially means that the government doesn’t get to act like a monarchy.

            Note that it doesn’t say that one has the right to own firearms, but to keep them. That goes along with the militia concept; they’re distributed so that there won’t be a centralized, vulnerable arms depot that everyone has to reach and whose location is widely known.

            • rth

              The Second Amendment doesn’t say that militias have the right to keep and bear arms. It says that “the people” have that right.

              Also, “well-regulated” did not have the same meaning in the 1700s that it has today. “Regulated” didn’t necessarily mean “subject to government control.” It meant “organized.”

              • Coyotenose

                 It says “the people” in the context of a well-regulated militia.

                I didn’t say “government controlled.”  I implied the opposite of that.

          • Don Gwinn

            Aw, come on.  The Constitution gives Congress the power to issue letters of marque and reprisal.  That means Congress was given the power to bestow privateer commissions on private individuals who owned their own fully-armed merchantmen warships.  The equivalent today would be a private citizen who owns a frigate, destroyer or submarine with all the ordnance it would ordinarily carry, or if you consider aircraft analogous to ships, ground-attack, bomber and fighter aircraft.

            That means that the men who wrote and ratified the Constitution came from a world where people did indeed own their own field pieces, crew-served weapons included, along with warships.  When people suggest that they would be shocked at the idea of a citizen owning the same rifle as the average infantry soldier or Marine, I don’t see the evidence.

        • Amakudari

          I’ll have to disagree, given the de facto bans on almost all guns in places like DC, NYC and Chicago. DC was particularly rich for requiring a license that they wouldn’t issue, which gave us DC vs Heller. Those laws wouldn’t exist unless they had strong local support.

          There are some that are more principled civil libertarians who generally abstain from such issues (like the ACLU), but that quarter of Americans who support a handgun ban has to come from somewhere.

      • Grizzz

        Well said. I am no fan of guns, but I am a HUGE fan of the Constitution, and that is why I will not fight second amendment issues (I am not going to go join the NRA – but I tend to shy away from those fights) because at some point they will come for the other ones (First Amendment).

        And this fuckweed down in Texas is a prime example. This fucking ASSHOLE took an OATH to defend the Constituion and laws and he is actively – nay HAPPILY – engaged in breaking the very laws he made a promise to uphold.

        Texas sucks the fetid, stinky, moldy shit from my ass crack.

        • Findog53

          Grizzbomb, how the freek are you!!! look at you talking about the chocolate starfish again. I knew you were a receiver. Wow the 5th circut shows us some love and you all make it about the 2nd amendment?  Show my address again Grizzy, I want some more hatemail (2 so far). Hop a plane maybe? so i can see those dingleberries and shove something that appropiately belongs up there like a broom stick?  
            Come on people, comment on the thread and stop sidestepping the issue!
            See ya Grizzbomb you sassy chocolate starfish worshipper. My grammar getting any better?

        • Findog53

          Have a nice day grizzy.

        • Findog53

          Grizzbomb where are you?

        • fin312

          Last time I went to the market Grizz store brand toilet tissue was $.59 a roll 1000 sheeters!!

    • RobertoTheChi

      Protecting the 2nd Amendment is important to me and assholes like Don Moel make me fume.

    • fin312

      Wow is anyone on this thread going to address the issue at hand or you all going to continue sidestepping it cause you all got a little butt hurt?

  • Hemlock Tea

    Greg Abbot’s also the guy who sued the EPA, because Texas should be able to pollute the air as much as it wants to! http://www.statesman.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/texas-attorney-general-sues-epa-to-overturn-air-pe/nRwZ7/

  • GabyYYZ

    There’s crazy.
    There’s bats–t crazy.
    And then there’s Texas bats–t crazy.

  • http://twitter.com/HealthyHumanist The Healthy Humanist

    You know, we atheist Marines whom have a liberal bent know a thing or two about gun control.  Slow steady breathing, muscle relaxation, proper bone support.  Oh, I’m just sayin’! (hehehehe)

    • 3lemenope

      Subtle?

  • Isilzha

    There needs to be an NPO dedicated to keeping track of those who make threats and which also serves as a resource for those who are threatened to help them find justice and even protection if necessary.  It pains me to know that the ones who are brave enough to speak out often find themselves facing repercussions alone.

    Also, those who make threats and use intimidation to silence others need to know that their words of hate will be cataloged, recorded, made searchable and saved for posterity.  Maybe once they face this type of scrutiny they’ll be less inclined to find threats and intimidation a viable tactic.

  • A3Kr0n

    If a judge doesn’t understand the law then there is no law and it’s each man to himself.
    Sad.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001627228091 Alexander Ryan

    Eh, the comment isn’t that frightening. People here in the US seem more likely to kill someone over a sports argument than about a religious argument… (‘Tis a sad country we live in.)

  • Ibis3

    I wonder if  Greg is prepared to pay all the legal costs out of his own pocket if the School District decides to let the matter go to court and they lose?

    • Findog53

      They won’t lose this time.

  • David

    So if both sides in a football match use banners with bible quotes ………. which side does god support?

    • http://www.facebook.com/eukota Darrell Ross

      The winning side, obviously.

    • 3lemenope

      The one who does it in Hebrew and Greek.

  • CanadianNihilist

    It’s amazing that the Texas Attorney General doesn’t know the law.

    • Findog53

      We’ll find out soon enough. Perfect name for you by the way.

  • Foster

    “But Greg Abbott is ready to file a brief on behalf of the school district… because promoting faith is more important to him than upholding the law.” Sounds to me like he’s doing both, given that he supported his stance with federal case precedent.  You just don’t like the outcome, so you’re impotently claiming Abbott is acting in bad faith, when all he’s doing is upholding the law.

    • Adwindham

      He’s not upholding the law.  He’s basing his argument on precedent that isn’t truly applicable because a) the settlement does significantly restrict religious expression in school events but b) doesn’t explicitly cover written expressions from a school sponsored organization.  Details of the settlement that he is basing his precedent argument on are here: http://www.au.org/files/legal_docs/Medina%20Valley%20settlement%20agreement.pdf

      Not that it matters, but IMO a person or people in the stands not representing the school in any official way are legally entitled to display such banners, but cheerleaders, who are official representatives of the school, should not.  If cheerleaders are not official school representatives, then schools will have a hard time arguing that fans should not be allowed on the field since the school is allowing other “non-official” people on the field.  

      • Poi517

        The FFRF may want to have some student out of the stands put up a sign and see if the school allows it to stay up. 

    • Coyotenose

       It’s very sad that your entire complaint hinges on ignoring what’s been explained in the blog post you’re complaining about.

  • http://www.everydayintheparkwithgeorge.com/ Matt E

    I wish there was a high school in Texas that had the intellectual curiosity and moral courage to have their cheerleaders hold up banners with Qur’an verses and see what happens.

    • fin312

      And they are more than welcome to do that so says the 1st Amendment.

  • Grizzz

    You know, Texas never seems to let me down. Just when I think and believe Texas cannot get any dumber, more repressive, ignorant of Constitutional law, or be any more assholey, they go and one-up themselves.

    Witness this dickweed. WTF. How the **** could this possibly happen?!?

    I mean, you have the Guv who is all a afraid of spooky Satan, and a state Attorney General who is willing, nay – HAPPY – to break the very laws he swore to uphold.

    And what is the solution? Seriously. How can this tide possibly be pushed back. The Texas genie is out of the bottle and history shows they do not want to go back in once out. So what can possibly be done to tell this backwater hillbilly dickweeds that what they are doing is ILLEGAL. There is no accountability. No one will go to jail, lose liberty or freedom/be fined. So how the hell do we fight this horrifying bullshit and nonsense?

    Shit like this just ruins my day.

    Texas – FUCK YOU.

    • Findog53

      The solution with you Grizzbomb is to shoot him. Is that how the  people in your faction solve their problems.?
        Should I have used there or their? How’s my grammar Grizzy?

      • Findog53

        Grizzbomb where are you buddy?

    • fin312

      A little butthurt Grizz?

  • The Other Weirdo

    “Thanks be to God…” Isn’t that the exact sort of thing Christians used to say before going into battle those who weren’t Christians or those who weren’t Christian enough(meaning, like them)?

  • Flyz4free

    When someone quotes the First Amendment at me, stating that it means that our government cannot creat and endorse a government run religion I point out that the term ‘establish’ also means “to cause to be accepted”. This is obviously the definition that is in line with Jefferson’s ‘wall of separation” statement. It is also how our Supreme Court has defined the term when they paraphrase the First Amendment such as in the Board of Education of Kiryas Joel Village School District v. Grumet, 512 U.S. 687 (1994). Justice David Souter, writing for the majority, concluded that “government should not prefer one religion to another, or religion to irreligion.” I think that distinction should be emphasized in these sorts of disputes.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/FDGYHBEWVNGUG763L5X4TON3JQ Nazani14

    I don’t understand why the teams that play against Kountze haven’t complained.  After all, they’re ones being told that God like Kountze better.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    New motto for Texas: “We make up our OWN facts!”

  • Sue Blue

    How about Texas secedes and they write their own “constitution”.  I’m sure it will bear remarkable resemblances to that of  Iran or Afghanistan as far as religious freedom goes, and will probably make the old Soviet system seem tolerant, productive, fair, and open politically.  In a couple of years you’d probably see a mass exodus north – or even south; Mexico will seem like a haven compared to the home of the Alamo.

    • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

      If Texas seceded they’d still have nukes. Can you imagine Texas a sovereign nuclear power, threatening anyone who disagrees with them within a range of 12,500 miles, meaning everywhere on the Earth?

      • Coyotenose

         They’d have nukes. Would they have the people who could operate, maintain, and most importantly, reprogram them for very long?

        Scratch that, stupid question. They’d just “detain” all the smarty types that they disdain so much to run their shit for them.

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          You’ve seen “Waiting for Armageddon”?

          Some of the people who program those things are end-of-times types.  I know they don’t seem very smart, and there is that inverse correlation between religiosity and education… but there are some very smart people who have, as best I can describe, a screw loose.

  • jdm8

    Menacing? You’d think there was a threat of bloodshed.

    • Coyotenose

       Abusers always try to paint their abuse as being justified by implying that the victim wronged them. His use of that word is the same thing.

      Not to Godwin things, but it’s what Hitler did to build hate against the Jews.

  • Gary B

    The examples the AG uses of a student making the sign of a cross before a test and a football player pointing to the sky or kneeling in prayer are clearly personal expressions of religion and would generally not be perceived as a religious message supported by the school.  Saying a prayer in a graduation speech is not as clear a case, but still would generally be perceived as a personal message because in that context students are representing themselves by expressing their personal comments about graduation.  Sharing a personal viewpoint is the whole purpose of the speech.

    Based on what I know about how the courts have dealt with this, I think the key question is how the expression might be perceived by people with differing views.  If it is an overtly religious message and it is reasonable to think that the message  could be perceived as being endorsed by the school, then it can be considered unconstitutional.  I think this cheerleader case, with the context in which the religious expression is being made, fits that definition.

  • Ryan Bauer

    I’m reading a lot of Texas-bashing on here. It’s understandable but a bit simple-minded. I live in Dallas (born and raised actually). This sort of thing disappoints me — and I’m sure many other Texans — to no end and makes me want to move to a blue state. There is no denying that Texas has a proclivity toward unchecked religiosity, with Austin being perhaps the only exception.  However, Dallas has a pretty active freethinker community, as small as it may be.

    Kountze is located in Southeast Texas, which is pretty much a backwater holdout of racism and bigotry of all sorts. It’s not far from the notorious town of Vidor, which has a history of being known as a “Sundown Town,” where blacks aren’t supposed to be out past dark. As you might imagine, this is a comparatively very low-income, uneducated part of the state. These people cling to their religion, their patriotism and their bigotry in a vicious cycle that’s passed down from generation to generation.

    It’s a shame that politicians like Abbott, who won a SCOTUS case a few years ago defending the state’s right to maintain a monument of the Ten Commandments on the state Capitol building grounds, is such a rabid defender of cases like this.

    Needless to say, I hope this goes to court and is deemed unconstitutional, as it seems to be. Unfortunately, I would imagine the district’s students would lose out to the tune of thousands of dollars in court costs. Perhaps this is a justified cost in the defense of the rights of all.

    • Coyotenose

       Ryan I’ve felt and still feel the same way emotionally about North Carolina, and want to defend those parts that can be circled in red and pointed out as redeemable. There are tons of great people here, but, rationally, I can no longer defend the state when people use generalizations about it. I now consider them justifiable for the sake of rhetorical expediency, and feel that we should know that there’s always an unspoken qualified of “this does not apply to the decent people there” attached to these generalizations.

      This state passed legislation to say that scientific data can’t be used when protecting beaches. Fuck them.

    • curtcameron

      I agree with everything Ryan said about Texas. I lived in East Texas when I was small, then West Texas as a teenager, and I’ve been living in Dallas the last 30 years as an adult.

      There are a bunch of over-religious officials here who just don’t understand that Christianity is not supposed to have a privileged position in government.

      Greg Abbott, our AG, seems to think he has precedent on his side, but it seems to me that he doesn’t. He’s comparing what the cheerleaders are doing to private religious expression, when in reality they are agents of the school, endorsing one religion over others. That’s the crux of the matter – whether the expression is that of private individuals, or is given a privileged position by the school.

      The line between the two seems to be very near where a valedictorian gives a graduation address. In that case, I can see that a valedictorian’s speech would be perceived as her private beliefs, and not endorsed by the school. The case of the cheerleaders, however, is not near that line – it’s clear to me that the football game signs are properly viewed as official school endorsements.

      Abbott is encouraging the town of Kountze to make an expensive mistake. He may even help arrange for their defense lawyers to work pro-bono, but when the FFRF wins and the judge tells Kountze to pay their legal fees, where will Mr. Abbott be then? Is he going to help pay for that?

  • 3lemenope

    @daf2335999abd273bbfc3a4d6ce22c68:disqus 

    No. But the fact remains, in you are not careful about context, “conservative”will be confused. The vast majority of people do not currently associate the word with the views of any of those you listed, but with the views of Limaugh and Akin and Bachmann.

    Um…so? Since when is people being ideologically lazy and or inaccurate a good reason to give up on a perfectly cromulent word? How much effort was put into associating Stalin and Mao with atheism? Do many, many people make that association freely when the subject turns to atheism? Is that really a good reason to discard the word “atheist” as a label?

    The fact is, both Limbaugh, Akin, and Bachmann are self-described conservatives, just as everyone I listed is. The ones I listed have a better historical claim to the term, but even if we allow that both have equal claim to the term, that still leaves no room to justify equating them all as being no better than Limbaugh and calling it done. Either conservatism is a complicated and full-bodied political movement that includes all-of-the-above, or it is the rather more narrowly described historical political movement; it takes willful blindness, and nothing less, to claim it is only Limbaugh and his ilk, only the contemporary local manifestation of the political ideology.

    I’m pretty savvy politically, but my first reaction to “conservative” in most contexts, absent clarification, is the latter. So I have no problem at all with the assertion made earlier, given the context, suggesting that “conservative” and “thought” are oxymoronic.

    Well, then you aren’t nearly savvy enough to overcome your own prejudices to see what is in front of your nose. As I said, even if your contention is right that they are *all* conservatives, the ones who can think and the ones who can’t, you are still compelled to concede the existence of the former. It is then intellectually dishonest to ignore their existence in favor of an ideological easier conclusion (in which all your opponents are idiots by definition). To assume, given no further facts, that all references to conservatives should be taken to mean “idiots”, that only speaks to your intellectual prejudices, not so much reality.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      No. It speaks not to “intellectual prejudices”, but to our very real experiences of conservative morons pushing religion on non-Christians.

      • 3lemenope

        Uh, your “very real experiences” are of all conservatives acting like morons pushing religion on non-Christians? I think not, not least because I’m a conservative who has never done that.

        Because that’s what the argument is about. At worst conservatives as a group contain both people like me and people like Rush Limbaugh. So, it is illegitimate and lazy and dishonest to claim it only contains people like Rush Limbaugh. That you or anyone else has had unpleasant experiences at the hands of Limbaugh-types on religious or other issues bears not at all on that argument. So, no. It speaks, quite simply, to prejudices. Full stop. Hey, everyone has prejudices. I just find it somewhat perplexing just how hard it is for some folks around here to recognize and admit some of their own. If you, for example, find that your personal experiences with conservative idiots sufficient to tar all conservatives in your mind such that it become acceptable to you to assume we’re all idiots, then that’s your business, but it is still prejudice, and from an intellectual point of view, it is a pretty unhelpful vice to indulge in.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson
    • 3lemenope

      Good response.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    I wonder if Abbott will defend a student’s right to have a bumper sticker on their private car.

    http://www.myfoxaustin.com/story/19669689/rebel-sticker-stirs-trouble-at-hays-high-school

  • Don Gwinn

    Leaving aside the 2nd Amendment for a minute to return to the 1st . . . . this guy is basically telling the school district that he’ll hold their collective coat.
    “Come on, he’s got nothin’!  Let’s you and him fight!”

    I’d be asking him what kind of help I can expect if his rosy predictions don’t work out so well.

    To bring it back to the subject of the 2nd Amendment, Chicago had a similar problem. When the Macdonald v. Chicago plaintiffs brought suit, most of the suburbs around Chicago who’d had “me-too” gun bans on the books repealed them relatively quickly–several had simply repealed them after Heller v. District of Columbia, even though it technically didn’t require that, because the writing was on the wall.  Chicago wanted at least some of the suburbs to stay in the crosshairs so that it couldn’t be argued that Chicago was all alone.  They solved this the way Chicago solves things: they threw money at it. They promised Oak Brook and others that Chicago would pay the legal expenses and any damages awarded to the plaintiffs for all the municipalities involved. It sort of worked, and a couple of them did leave their bans on the books and suffer through the case by Chicago’s side.  Last I heard they were having a little trouble collecting, though.

    But I don’t suppose the Texas Attorney General’s office is making a similar offer to Kountze, so maybe this is an opportunity for careful thought and reflection.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      he’ll hold their collective coat

      He’s campaigning http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greg_Abbott#2014_election_for_governor

      And it’s working out quite well.  Even after they lose a court case, he will have stood up to defend religious freedom.

  • Kaydenpat

    It’s interesting to me how some Christians advocate violence against nonbelievers yet somehow can’t see how much they are the same as some Muslims who advocate violence against nonbelievers.  How is Don Moel’s comment different from that of extreme Muslims who want to kill when their religion is insulted?

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    “Think about it: Can a school district or the Freedom From Religion
    Foundation stop a student from making the sign of the cross before
    taking a test, or stop football players from pointing toward heaven
    after scoring a touchdown or kneeling to pray for an injured teammate?”

    In the case of the football players, YES. Because those players are in uniform, and therefore representing the school, which IS a government entity.

    • TheBlackCat

       I don’t agree with that.  The important thing is not whether they are
      in uniform so much as they can be reasonably thought of as representing
      the school.  In those cases I don’t think it is clearly the case, while with these cheerleaders it certainly is.

  • Brian Macker

    Title was a little ambiguous.   Are the cheerleader’s bible-banners people who want to ban bibles.   Reminds me of Joe Bidens gaffe about cheerleaders, “The Stuff They Do on Hard Wood, It Blows My Mind”.


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