Church & state and ‘beliefs’ that believers don’t care about

Republican state Sen. Dennis Kruse of has introduced a bill that would allow Indiana public schools to require students to recite the Lord’s prayer each morning.

Um … which Lord’s prayer?

Sen. Dennis Kruse wants to require Indiana schoolchildren to pray to Lord Cthulhu in His House at R’lyeh.

I don’t just mean the subtle differences of “debts” and “trespasses,” I mean that there are as many different Lord’s prayers as there are different Lords.

Could a school require students to recite this one?

In His House at R’lyeh Dead Cthulhu waits dreaming, yet He shall rise and His kingdom shall cover the Earth. …

To select an “official” Lord’s Prayer is to select to privilege one sect above all the others. It is, in other words, to establish an official religion.

Sen. Kruse wants to make a law respecting the establishment of religion and prohibiting the free exercise thereof. That’s not allowed.

Speaking of the First Amendment: Three nurses no longer work at an Indiana hospital because they refused to get flu shots.

The hospital has at least two good reasons for dismissing these nurses. First is simple public safety — having nurses who might be walking around and giving all of your patients the flu would be negligent bordering on reckless.

And second, hospitals really aren’t looking to hire medical professionals who don’t believe in professional medicine. Nor are they looking to hire nurses who defiantly refuse to protect the health of patients. Hiring a nurse who doesn’t “believe in” flu shots is a bit like hiring an auto mechanic who doesn’t believe in internal combustion. Or, you know, like hiring a nurse who doesn’t believe in hand-washing.

But the nurses’ attorney says their disbelief in modern medicine must be respected, because it’s their free exercise of religion:

lan Phillips, who represented several nurses at the hospital, says his clients had the right to refuse their flu shots under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits religious discrimination of employees. Religion is legally broad under the First Amendment, so it could include any strongly held belief, he said, adding that the belief flu shots are bad should suffice.

“If your personal beliefs are religious in nature, then they are a protected belief,” Phillips said.

But Phillips case has nothing to do with his clients’ “personal beliefs,” it has to do with their right to work as medical professionals despite their purported “religious” devotion to holy influenza. Phillips is pretending that this is a civil liberties case akin to the defense of conscientious objectors. It’s far stranger than that — it’s more like a pacifist Mennonite suing to become a U.S. Marine.

In any case, I have a very hard time accepting that these nurses really do believe “flu shots are bad” when, at the same time, they are completely uninterested in the question, “Are flu shots, actually, bad?” and when they seem unconcerned with the hospital’s flu-shot policies except as they pertain to themselves.

These nurses formerly worked at a hospital that requires its staff to get flu shots, and that administers flu shots to patients. Anyone who worked there and really believed “flu shots are bad” ought to be fighting those policies, arguing that the hospital must stop providing the shots for patients and stop requiring the shots for employees.

But Phillips isn’t arguing that the hospital should change its rules, only that the rules shouldn’t apply to his clients.

In other words, it doesn’t seem that these nurses lost their jobs out of devotion to their belief that “flu shots are bad.” It seems they lost their jobs out of devotion to their belief that “Nobody can ever make me get (or understand) a flu shot.”

When someone claims that a belief is a deeply held religious conviction, but simultaneously doesn’t seem at all interested in the substance of that purported belief, then it’s hard to see them as sincere. “Conviction” suggests interest and concern. Faith without interest is dead.

Related:

In South Dakota, a state senator, Jeff Monroe (R-Pierre), has introduced a bill making it easier for parents to refuse to get their children vaccinated thus guaranteeing an increase in deaths from preventable causes. Monroe says it’s all about religious freedom. South Dakota is already one of the states that allows parents to opt out of vaccinations if that is part of the doctrine of their sect. That’s not good enough for Monroe. He believes parents should be allowed to opt out if they have a “sincere, verifiable religious belief,” even if it’s at odds with the teaching of their sect.

 

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    “Illegitimate” is not the word I would use.

    Wait, what? You said initially “I’m more concerned about the claim that creating ego-gratification
    fantasies like Barclay is a legitimate part of writing. It strikes me
    more as an avoidance of reality.”

    It seems reasonable to me to infer from this that you believe such ego-gratification
    fantasies are not a legitimate part of writing.

    If you don’t believe that, as you imply here, I’m deeply confused.

    So let me try and rephrase my question to avoid this confusion, then.

    If I write a story in which Dave mysteriously appears  in the Oval
    Office in 2007 and takes over from Bush, Cheney, etc. and saves the day
    because Dave is just that awesome, do you have a beef with that? Do you think I ought not write that story? Do you think that my desire to write that story is symptomatic of something unhealthy? Do you think my actually writing the story is unhealthy (as opposed to symptomatic)?

    Or, if it’s different: if I write a story in which Dave is chatting on the slactivist web site and he awes Carstonio and Sgt. Pepper and Anonymous Sam into adulation of his rhetorical brilliance, do you have a beef with that? Do you think I ought not write that story?
    Do you think that my desire to write that story is symptomatic of something unhealthy? Do you think my actually writing the story is unhealthy (as opposed to symptomatic)?

    (Just to be clear: I’m fine with it if the answer to any or all of those questions is ‘yes’; you are not attacking me in any way by answering my questions, and I’m asking about me and nobody else.)

  • Carstonio

    My apologies.

    I suppose it comes down to this – if a straight man walked up to a lesbian couple and asked if he could watch them have sex because it turns him on, they would rightly condemn him as an asshole. I don’t understand why the man would be less of an asshole if he took his cartoonish ideas about lesbians and turned them into stories to wank to. While the former is worse in its treatment of people, both seem repulsive to me. What am I missing?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Do you also object to fiction depicting rape, even though no actual people have been raped in the process of writing or reading the story?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Is there an equivalent term for “slash” for opposite-sex pairings in
    fanfiction? I was inaccurately using the term to apply to both types of
    pairings.

    “het”, usually.

  • Carstonio

     It’s easier for me to answer your question if I put myself in your spot…if I found myself writing a story where the other characters were singing my praises, I would wonder if I was too dependent on external validation and lacked internal sources of validation and comfort. But then, I question my impulses and fleeting thoughts on a fairly regular basis, wondering what these say about my personality and character.

  • Carstonio

     Excellent question. I would object only if the story appeared to condone or endorse rape, or if the writer was fantasizing about raping people. That’s a subject where even more care should be taken with the context. Some years ago, there was a trend in TV crime dramas where female officers were victimized that way by gangs. While I can understand the desire to increase awareness of vulnerability to rape, it eventually became a storytelling crutch, just another version of the old cliché of women in jeopardy being rescued by male heroes.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I’m with you on the fiction depicting rape in a manner that condones or endorses it, but now I’m wondering if it’s possible to write fiction exploring a sexual fantasy that you don’t object to on the grounds that it’s sexual fantasy.

  • http://twitter.com/Jenk3 Jen K

    There was Bobby Franklin in Georgia who wanted an investigation every time a woman reported a miscarriage.

    Ah, that kind of icky man. I always like to ask such men if they’re willing to take their idea to the logical conclusion, which is the monitoring and reporting of all menstrual cycles by all women.

    …and how does that work for women who aren’t regular?  Or women in their 40s who are irregular because they’re nearing menopause?  Icky indeed.

  • Carstonio

    It would be more accurate to say that certain aspects of sexual fantasy seem creepy to me even when they don’t involve rape.

    If I were a female celebrity and I read about millions of men on the Internet searching for nude photos of me, I might feel incredibly self-conscious, even experiencing trepidation about leaving my house. Especially if I were a newly matured actress like Emma Watson – after seeing the Potter movies, the attention she’s getting is like listening to someone make rude comments about my sister or cousin.

    Or I were a woman in a workplace and I found out somehow that a couple of male co-workers regularly pleasured themselves while thinking of me, I wouldn’t feel comfortable sitting next to them in meetings.

    But since I’m a man, it’s fair to ask how I would feel if I found out that a couple of female co-workers were doing that. I don’t have an answer.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Hey, I’m all in favor of wondering. Wondering is great. I wonder all kinds of things.

    For example, if I somehow knew that you were writing a story in which Dave was singing Carstonio’s praises, I would wonder (among many other things) whether perhaps I was being overly critical of you in real life. I would wonder (among many other things) whether I’m actually in the habit of singing people’s praises here and just didn’t notice. I would wonder (among many other things) whether perhaps you have a crush on me. I would wonder lots of things. And, sure, I might wonder (among many other things) if you are too dependent on external validation and lack internal sources of validation and comfort.

    That said, if my wondering progressed to the point where I began to seriously consider any or all of those as likely hypotheses, I would ask myself whether I actually had evidence of them being true.

    When you started out, I got the impression that you believed that writing such a story was evidence of of some sort of unhealthy state, but I wasn’t sure, so I tried to clarify.

    I’m still less sure now.

    This is perhaps unsurprising, since you’re at the same time being yelled at by others for expressing related beliefs.  In your place that would certainly make me unwilling to answer any questions if the answer might upset those people. Then again, perhaps you possess sufficient internal sources of validation and comfort that you don’t have that difficulty.

    Anyway, I’m happy to drop the subject here, or you can reply to me privately if you prefer.

  • EllieMurasaki

    The problem there isn’t the fantasies themselves. The problem is that the fantasies are not being restricted to the fantasizer or to a small group of people who are consenting to hear the fantasies. Yeah, I’d find it creepy if I knew that the guy in the next cubicle masturbates to thoughts of me. But I’m not supposed to know that he does, whether he does or not.

    There’s a reason why fandom considers it over the line to send fanfic about a character to that character’s actor, and way over the line if the fanfic is sexually explicit, but perfectly acceptable to write and post the fanfic.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    While the former is worse in its treatment of people, both seem repulsive to me. What am I missing?

    For my part, you’re free to be repulsed by whatever repulses you, so in that sense you may not be missing anything. I’m repulsed by all kinds of things, including certain certain cuisines, hobbies, and sexual practices that mutually consenting and fully informed adults choose to engage in. There’s nothing wrong with that.

    OTOH, it doesn’t follow from the fact that I’m repulsed by it that there’s anything wrong with the people doing it, either.

    The question of to what extent writing a story in which a character-like-me does something is subject to the same kinds of principles of informed consent that, say, having sex with me is, or that asking if you can watch me having sex is an interesting one, I’ll admit.

    But it’s a very different question from whether doing those things is unhealthy.

    My answer to the consent question, BTW, is roughly that it depends on the cultural context around my writing that story. A little more precisely, it depends on how broadly instantiated the cultural tropes that the story reinforces are, and on what the consequences of those tropes are, and on how much the story is going to reinforce those tropes.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    and probably don’t think that hard about which characters are secretly having sex.

    I’m less convinced of that, than I am that they don’t consider it acceptable to publicly admit to doing so. Though admittedly, I suspect that most private speculation about the sex lives of fictional characters is of a more explicitly self-inserting variety. (In the literary sense!).

  • EllieMurasaki

    Oh. We’re not having the discussion I thought we were having.

    Carstonio, let me share a bit of wisdom that I learned from participation in fandom.

    Your kink is not my kink. Your squick is not my squick. No more are my kinks and squicks yours.

    And that’s okay.

    You seem to be squicked by the whole concept of sexual fantasy. That’s entirely your right and prerogative and no one’s business but yours. I should not be trying to talk you out of it, which I’ve been doing, and for which I apologize.

    But you don’t get to try to talk me out of my kinks, either.

    What consenting people do with and to each other is nobody’s business but their own, and fictional characters don’t get a say. And all participants in sexual fantasy, excepting the fantasizer if applicable, are fictional characters, even when looking and acting like real people the fantasizer knows. Unless it’s a physical sex scene acting out a fantasy, but that’s not quite the same thing.

    (Also, the time to discover that whips and chains don’t excite you is not when you’re being chained and whipped.)

    I’m out of this discussion.

  • Carstonio

     

    I would wonder (among many other things) whether perhaps I was being
    overly critical of you in real life. I would wonder (among many other
    things) whether I’m actually in the habit of singing people’s praises
    here and just didn’t notice.

    I had to read that twice because it didn’t seem real. In both types of stories (me singing your praises and you singing my praises), I would wonder first and foremost if the problem was with me. It didn’t occur to me that anyone else might see hirself as overly critical of me.

  • Carstonio

    While I agree in principle, my scenario didn’t have the co-workers deliberately telling their fantasy to me. It would probably involve some means of finding out by accident and they wouldn’t know that I knew. 

    And yes, that’s an excellent principle for fandom to follow. If I were in the actor’s place, I might feel I was expected to trust the fandom community to police itself, a level of trust I might not possess. That has nothing to do with fandom, since I’ve written a couple of pieces of Smallville fanfiction myself. In many situations I tend to focus on possible negative outcomes, and I don’t pretend that’s healthy, but I can imagine being worried about stalkers if I were an actor.

  • vsm

    Now that you mention it, I don’t really know how non-fandom people watch TV shows. A certain amount of speculation and, ah, self-insertion is surely to be expected, but probably not the kind of study of clues and subtexts that characterize fandom activities. Say, the normal viewer may have wished for Mulder and Scully to get together, but I’d imagine fewer were speculating on the romantic possibilities of Scully and Skinner, or Skinner and Mulder, and certainly not with the same intensity as those in the fandom.

  • Carstonio

     

    And all participants in sexual fantasy, excepting the fantasizer if
    applicable, are fictional characters, even when looking and acting like
    real people the fantasizer knows.

    I disagree somewhat. Hypothetically, if I were fantasizing about you, and you found out through means beyond my control, you would have a right to feel squicked out. The argument you’re using could easily be interpreted to mean that you wouldn’t have a right to feel that way, although that’s obviously not what you’re arguing. The odds are probably very low that someone who fantasizes about me won’t take the next step and put the actual me in the fantasy, but that doesn’t change the squick for me.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     Let me echo that back to you to see if I got it, because the pronouns confused me.

    If you fantasized about me singing your praises, you would wonder first and foremost if you were too dependent on external validation and lacked internal sources of validation and comfort.

    And if you fantasized about singing my praises, you would wonder first and foremost if you were too dependent on
    external validation and lacked internal sources of validation and
    comfort.

    And if, upon discovering you fantasized about me singing your praises, I wondered whether I was being too critical of you, you would find that puzzling.

    Did I parse that correctly?

  • Carstonio

    If you fantasized about me singing your praises, you would wonder
    first and foremost if you were too dependent on external validation and
    lacked internal sources of validation and comfort.

    Yes.

    And if you fantasized about singing my praises, you would wonder first and foremost if you were too dependent on external validation and lacked internal sources of validation and comfort.

    No. I would wonder first and foremost if I was being too critical of you or if I was denying you validation. The key is I focus first on what I might be doing wrong, not on what someone else might be doing wrong. That’s why I would be puzzled if you questioned your level of criticism, because that would imply that undeserved criticism of me was a real thing and not something I would hope exists.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I lied, I’m not done, I have to clarify this point first.

    If you were fantasizing about me, it wouldn’t be the actual me. It would be a fictional person you created with various characteristics in common with me. A character who behaves as the fantasy demands, rather than how I would actually behave. If I had a share in building the fantasy, it might be the actual me in the fantasy as much as the fantasy contains the actual you, but depending on the parameters of the fantasy it might not be the actual either of us. If I don’t have that share in building the fantasy, then the fantasy’s none of my business unless you choose to share it and I consent to it being shared with me, or unless you forcibly share it with me in which case you’re way over the line.

    And yeah, I’d have the right to be squicked by the existence of a fictional me participating in somebody else’s sexual fantasy. But I don’t get to say your kink being my squick makes your kink not okay.

  • Carstonio

    I edited my earlier post to clarify that being in someone’s sexual fantasy might make me feel afraid and vulnerable, not merely squicked out. Obviously I wouldn’t expect the person to know this without being told. But I’ve been on the opposite end – I’m tall and I walk fast, and I felt horrible recently when I was told that some pe0ple find this intimidating. Does the possibility occur to some fantasizers that some subjects might find it intimidating?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Sorry, missed that. Damn Disqus anyway.

    I haven’t seen anybody say that it has. Which does not of course mean that it hasn’t.

  • AnonymousSam

    I can’t think of any reasonable guidelines for how to prevent incidents of a more serious nature from occurring. If a person decides to write a violent rape fantasy about a popular actress and host it himself and said actress stumbles upon it and is psychologically harmed by what she reads, is there anything that can be done?

  • EllieMurasaki

    That situation shouldn’t ever arise, because all such stories should be clearly labeled either ‘here be a list of dragons’ or ‘caveat lector’ (the dragons in your example being rape and violence, but there’s lots and lots of dragons). If it is not so labeled, the author’s to blame for any harm that results, though the reader really hasn’t any way of seeking recompense.

  • vsm

    I think a good guideline would be to not look up fanfiction of yourself, and in case that fails, not reading fanfiction of yourself. Compared to all the real life harassment from paparazzi and what have you popular actors face, having a relatively peaceful time on the Internet shouldn’t be very difficult for them.

  • AnonymousSam

    At the very least, it’d be nice to be able to pursue the writer for willful negligence leading to the harm of another, but I don’t think it’d fly. I can somewhat sympathize with being uncomfortable with something being written about one’s self, though — part of the reason for my anonymity is because I have been involved in the production of something which, if not recognized by anyone here, does have a following. I admit, for a few months when it was finished, I was afraid to check fanfiction websites to see if my likeness had been turned into badly written porny fantasies for public consumption. I’m still not 100% sure it hasn’t somewhere, but I kinda sort of don’t want to dig that deeply, you know.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    If I don’t have that share in building the fantasy, then the fantasy’s none of my business unless you choose to share it and I consent to it being shared with me, or unless you forcibly share it with me

    I would add to this that someone’s fantasy can also be my business if it has knock-on effects that affect me.

    For example, if someone writes a fantasy about me, and shares it with other people in my community, and as a consequence of that the way other people see me and interact with me changes, that might create problems for me even if they never share the fantasy with me directly. I might never find out what the cause of those problems was, but they would make my life worse just the same.

    And no, that behavior is not OK in that situation, although admittedly it’s not always obvious what the situation is (or will become) and it’s possible to make well-intentioned mistakes.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/SirWinstoneChurchill Winston Blake
  • http://www.youtube.com/user/SirWinstoneChurchill Winston Blake
  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     Well, yes. Leaving troublesome words like “normal” aside, I would say more generally that if a mainstream viewer becomes as intense/obsessive about a particular TV show as fen typically do, they are de-facto fen. The FIAWOL/FIJAGH border can be crossed in both directions.

  • EllieMurasaki

    FIAWOL/FIJAGH?

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    Why are they suddenly called bromances and why are they always about
    some stone stupid man child and his posse? (I realize that last part is
    in no small part thanks to Judd Apatow, but still.)

    Like I keep saying, comedy was a lot funnier when the male characters were predominantly men, and not sexually precocious toddlers who had been enlarged to adult dimensions.

  • vsm

    Looks like that “normal” slipped past my proofread. And I started out so strong by using “non-fandom” in the first sentence too. Ah well.

    I don’t think that’s quite the right binary opposition there, though. Even the FIJAGH people are likely much more involved in fandom than most viewers.

  • vsm

    Looks like that “normal” slipped past my proofread. And I started out so strong by using “non-fandom” in the first sentence too. Ah well.

    I don’t think that’s quite the right binary opposition there, though. Even the FIJAGH people are likely much more involved in fandom than most viewers.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    As the point of such a law is really just to Put Women In Their Place, it works just fine. It’s confusing and contradictory and really just boils down to a license to harrass a woman at a whim (You can bet they’d just Conveniently Ignore the implication that they need ot inspect every uterus every month, except in cases where they had some other reason to want to invade a particular woman’s private life.), so, mission accomplished.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    You know, Chris Carter used to say that the only three things so outlandish that they would never happen on The X-Files were: Mulder and Scully doing it; Scully and Skinner doing it; and Mulder and Skinner doing it.

    I suspect that this is the reason that Mulder flippantly smooches Skinner in the series finale.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Fandom Is A Way of Life
    Fandom Is Just a Goddamned Hobby

  • EllieMurasaki

    Ah. Thanks.

  • P J Evans

    Looks like that “normal” slipped past my proofread.

    In fandom, they’re usually called ‘mundanes’.

  • Carstonio

    Update – the head of the court here has said that any objecting clerks will be disallowed from performing any marriage ceremonies. Overall I’m pleased with this, since there are still enough clerks to meet the demand for both types of marriages. Apparently the state hasn’t heard of any clerks in other counties objecting.

  • Rachel Mcg

    My thought is to base it on actual requests for a particular day off, not a pre-set calender.

    I used to work at the Command Center for a 350+ person call center, meaning I was one of the main schedulers.  We needed coverage everyday, including all holidays, and addressed the problem of who got what days off first by seniority, as those who had been with the company the longest were given higher priority for getting their preferred days off, and then by lottery, if there were still too many wanting the weekends, for instance.  We also had extra pay for both Saturdays and Sundays, and time and a half on actual holidays, to encourage people to choose to work those days.  For requests for time off from a person’s regular schedule, it was first come first serve, with each day allowed to have a certain number of seats empty.

  • Rachel Mcg

    Also, we allowed people to swap shifts with another person, either temporarily or permanently, if they both agreed to the swap.  And every six months, we had a company-wide shift switch, where a new lottery would be held so people stuck working one of the weekend days now had a chance to get the whole thing off.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X