Notes from the culture wars

John Hagee’s Creepy Christian Teddy Bear …”

“I guarantee you, if you see your table praying before the meal, you can mentally subtract a third from your tip.”

The Catholic Church had slaves as late as 1996.”

“Non-sexual self-bondage is not a recognized mental health diagnosis at this time.”

“When war, global devastation, and environmental ruin become things to celebrate as the ‘fulfillment of prophecy,’ then not only do we ignore clear Biblical mandates to be peace makers and stewards of the earth, we who should be working to bring the kingdom of God to earth, instead, become villainous co-conspirators in the reign of evil and death.”

“While he was alive, the right wing savaged King as a communist who hated America and a dangerous subversive. Now they’re claiming he was just like them. Not coincidentally, they’ve done the same thing with the Bible.”

“When the attorney general of the state of NJ decided that we had to put up a same-sex site, and we did it, we literally had to hire guards to protect our lives because the people who were so hurt and angry with us were Christian people who feel that it’s a violation to Scripture.”

Alfie’s Home, cited in PFOX’s Supreme Court brief, is the most horrifically disturbing children’s book we have ever seen.”

“We searched the Internet for any examples in which a religious group had been forced to host a same-sex ceremony against its beliefs. We couldn’t find any.”

“The story serves as an illustrative example of the way the conservative echo chamber can twist facts and turn baseless speculation into their controversy du jour.”

“While the ‘liberal media’ is often framed by conservatives as activist and acting on an agenda, it seems that the deeper criticism contained within that charge is the simple fact that, after hearing The Word of their side of the story, the media refuses to become an activist force for their cause.”

“When he lists all these denominations and atheists and Buddhists and Muslims it’s like we’re all equal, of equal proportion, and we are not.”

They never think about what the Jewish kid feels like, or the atheist, or, Powers forfend, the Wiccan.”

“Best wishes for your good health, and the speedy demise of the sham institution that employs you.”

“I still think that Ken Ham is genuinely out to make Christians look as foolish and dishonest as possible because he hates Christianity.”

“Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that the bishops are still complaining about contraception — but the administration should stop listening. Catholics already have.”

“Frankly, the culture wars are kind of over and Republicans largely lost.”

“That’s why, from the outset, many of us have resisted the rhetoric of embattled religious freedom. — If you want to take the Queen’s shilling, you must play by the Queen’s rules.”

“What has always been the worst about Douthat is that his conclusions, supported by whatever he can scrape together, have rarely been true.”

No evidence exists that those quotations are authentic. Yet they are presented to students in Texas public schools as real and historical proof supporting an ideological point of view.”


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  • I find that these days comparatively few homophobes are still willing to outright say that “being gay is a choice.” Though they certainly still act as if they believe it.

  • Imo, a lot of reason for that obsession is that we’re not allowed to be open. 

    For instance, it used to be sort of scandalous if a woman admitted to having and using sex toys. Now, even in mainstream gossip blogs, some of the most prudish, misogynistic, and generally backward places on the internet that are still considered mainstream, the response when someone talks about having one as if it’s rebellious or something is: um, so what. There’s an assumption that women are entitled to sexual pleasure. People talk about sex toys more now, but it’s more in the context of “which one should I buy” — normalized except in certain fundie corners. (Like the state of Alabama, in which sex toys are still outlawed, horribly.)

  • AnonymousSam

    Objects get imbued with the same conviction that they absolutely must tie in with sexuality somehow and there must be deepseated sexual meanings behind any individual object’s preference, etc. I can see playing around with something like a rope or even a gag the same way one might comb their hair or file their nails. Sometimes it’s just relaxing, and I have no idea how to describe why, but it’s not always [consciously?] sexual, so his story actually seems plausible to me.

    The problem is, I don’t think this kind of automatic behavior comes easily to most people. They see a ball gag and it only has one purpose to them and the idea that sometimes it could just be a thing to wear to keep one’s mouth occupied would sound like a flimsy excuse to them. They’d be thinking about it the entire time it was anywhere near them, and for a long time afterward.

    It’s my hypocrisy that I kind of want to hear more from this guy to know if he’s really one of the few people who could be that casual with something, even something usually associated with sexuality, or if he’s just embarrassed about it and is trying to deny it had any sexual meaning since he can’t claim it never happened in the first place. In the absence of any other persons surfacing with a connection to this (as you hypothesized is actually the case), there’s no way to really tell, just probability.

  • AnonymousSam

    … Now I’m seeing the following on a meme picture:

    “Fetuses want to make a rock so big they can’t lift it.”

    This is the closest I can get to that, though. :p

  • AnonymousSam

    Quite possibly. I keep wishing there was a way to gather data on how what kind of effects, if any, Trojan and other companies have had by advertising vibrators on television.

    Oh, they call them “personal massagers,” but yeah. Duh.

  • Wednesday

    I don’t think I’d be particularly tempted by a Death Note, but if anyone ever gives me an “Nonviable pregnancy that gets discovered in time to not be fatal but still requires an abortion” Note, well, expect a lot of male Republicans to suddenly be hospitalized.

  • AnonymousSam

    Pretty sure any pregnancy that happens to a male Republican is going to be nonviable and would require an abortion. :p

    All the same, it would make for some schadenfreude value.

    “Get this thing out of me!”
    “Ah… sir? You made that procedure illegal last year.”
    “There’s literally no way I can give birth to it!”
    “Well, I guess you should’ve thought of that sooner.”

  • *nods*

    I have a pair of handcuffs. I have quite often cuffed my hands in front of me, or behind my back, and then tried getting out of them – sometimes with a key, and sometimes with a hairpin. It’s fun!

    I have never used my handcuffs in a sexual context. And yet, the phrase “I own handcuffs” makes so many people instantly assume kinky sex that I mostly don’t let people know that I own handcuffs, because having people sniggering about my sex life is even more uncomfortable when they’re sniggering about a totally imaginary sex life that they just made up based on something I happen to have in my possession.

  • AnonymousSam

    You’re awesome, Deird.

    I’m just all around a naughty person. I’ve never grown up out of my teenage years. I have a kinky sex life, but not everything I do revolves around it, including my sex or my kink. If you see me strutting around town in a bondage collar, it’s not because I’m an exhibitionist who’s intent on thrusting sexuality into the faces of others, it’s more likely because (A) it’s comfortable and I like how it both looks and feels or (B) I’m purposefully watching how wearing it makes me invisible and causes people to either look anywhere but at me or talk to thin air somewhere to my side.

  • mountainguy

    “While he was alive, the right wing savaged King as a communist who hated America and a dangerous subversive. Now they’re claiming he was just like them. Not coincidentally, they’ve done the same thing with the Bible.”

    reminds me of Matthew 23: 29-32:

    Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,

    And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.

    Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.

  • hagsrus

    GOProud, Log Cabin Republicans Won’t Participate In CPAC This Year

  • fraser

     Some people have made the “contraception is a pre-emptive abortion” argument (and by some people I mean people posting in comments on blogs, so we’re not talking speakers with any standing).

  • fraser

     Sexism may be the last bastion to fall. You can build a life without many minorities in it, ignore gays, but it’s hard to live a life without women. And as Douglas and Jared Wilson were complaining last year, equality anywhere is a threat to patriarchy everywhere, because if one women is free, they’re all potentially free. So it has to be stamped out.

  • fraser

     If they thought it was a choice, gays in the military wouldn’t be an issue–just say “you can’t have gay sex and serve.” Instead it’s “you can’t be gay and serve.”

  • stardreamer42

    ” There’s no reason [self-bondage] couldn’t be a form of stress relief without being sexual per se.”

    I agree. It certainly wouldn’t be any stranger than cutting, and we know that happens and isn’t a sexual thing.

  • I just plain don’t care if people know I have kinky sex. I’m not going to burst into random places and start describing stuff in detail, but if they find out somehow, whatever. It’s not like it’s shameful.

  • stardreamer42

    It’s not clothing styles per se that set me off about “inappropriately sexualizing children” — it’s kiddie T-shirts with slogans like “Too Sexy” or “I’m Hot”. Honestly, what kind of parent buys crap like that for their kid?

  • AnonymousSam

    One could argue that it kind of is, in a way, since pain and pleasure share some neurological links, but yeah… kind of don’t want to talk about that. Self-consciousness acting up.

  • stardreamer42

    There’s even a website which specializes in marketing sex toys to Christians! (I don’t remember where I saw the link — it might very well have been here.) Both the website itself and the items featured on it are, shall we say, rather less garish than most other such sources. 

  • AnonymousSam

    I had no opinion on it for awhile, when the complaints were about short skirts and belly tops, but lately, I’ve been seeing ads for a t-shirt company, and one of them has a slogan reading “Admit it, you’d go to jail for this.”

    It comes in children’s sizes.

    That is the definition of fucked up.

  • Agreed, but while I could happily reply with “So, you know about my sex life. And?”, what I usually end up having to say is “Okay guys, that’s the twentieth joke in the last five minutes. Can we PLEASE stop making insinuations about my sex life? Please?”

    People “knowing” is very different from people “sniggering”. And I’ve mostly encountered people who do the latter.

  • stardreamer42


  • Makabit

    Hey, I delivered mine surgically. Any congressman who needs to can do likewise.

  • Wednesday

    Yeah, yeah, I know. But I’ve spent enough time in fandom circles that I felt it necessary to specify nonviable pregnancy even when the gestater would be a cis man.  =P

    And there are women who will gleefully throw other women under the bus — Jane Roe is one of them, ironically.

  • Rae

    I’ve actually had a similar conversation with some very hard-line (no abortion at all ever) pro-lifers before. I asked if in cases of rape, considering that the mother did not consent to sex in the first place, inducing premature delivery after the point of viability would be an acceptable solution in order to both preserve the fetus’ life and to reduce the amount of pain and suffering the mother would go through. 

    It was very telling that all the women whom I posed the question to reacted along the lines of “Huh, that actually might not be objectionable…” whereas everyone who said “No, it’s too risky to the health of the fetus” was a man.

    Like, really. Even if the life of the fetus was preserved no matter what, they still put keeping it from potential physical harm above reducing the pain and suffering and the risk of physical harm of an actual rape victim.

  • On the subject of non-sexual uses of ostensibly kinky things, I think that it is important to establish that “kink” is a thing, “sex” is a thing, and “kinky sex” is a thing, but they are not necessarily all the same thing.  

    Kink could honestly be any particular little unusual quirk that a person does that excites and/or soothes them, and that need not necessarily be sexual.  You know how a lot of autistic people like the feeling of pressure on their bodies, find it calming?  That might be an example of a kink that is not necessarily sexual.  Temple Grandin, for example, identifies as asexual but built herself a “squeeze machine” to apply pressure to her body as a form of relaxation.  

    That having been said, there is still a strong association in the cultural collective consciousness between kink and sex.  However, I would attribute that to sex itself being an inherently exciting/soothing activity, and that tends to mesh well with a person’s kink appeals.  There might also be a “chicken or egg” thing going on, where the cultural association between kink and sex causes a person to think of sex when exposed to kink because of that link, and vise-versa, which would become something of a self-propagating meme since having more kinky sex only strengthens the association.  

  • Lliira

     rather less garish than most other such sources.

    No, they aren’t. I don’t know what they are, but they aren’t, because most other sources are not “garish”. You seem to think online sex toy stores have porn plastered all over the place or something. Nope. Not Babeland, not Good Vibrations, not any of them.

  • Lliira

     I’ve actually never encountered people sniggering over my sex life. Not to my face, anyway. Not online that I’ve seen, either. Hm. I think it is possible I intimidate people. :D

  • AnonymousSam

    Heck, I don’t even see much difference between the three sites I looked up and the ones I’ve occasionally browsed. A little more scarcity of variety, at worst, but there are things on them that I’m honestly very surprised they’d carry– male masturbation toys, anal toys for both sexes, even strap-ons.

    That last kind of makes me want to throw things. “What, a gay man could marry a woman and have her go at him with this and that’d be just peachy, but the moment you introduce an actual male in the picture, then it’s a horrible sin?!” … *Checks* Actually, that’s exactly what they say. AAAAAARRRGH.

    I did find one that was explicit in its condemnation of certain things, though. Apparently it used to be even more so, as an outdated page referred to “sin free toys only” and “We pray to Jesus for guidance before adding any new toys, and He always responds.” (Um. I feel bad for Jesus.) Said site still includes a “Biblical Q&A” page which includes material that makes me want to throw bigger things at them, though, claiming that physical or sexual abuse in one’s youth is what leads to fetishes and BDSM leanings. They also claim God wrote the Bible and never uses euphemisms, which AAAARRRGH AGAIN.

  • WalterC

     Jesus Christ – Brand Marketing Agent for Sex Toy Website was probably one of the more unusual musical theater pieces.

  • Maybe the bishop was Anton Chigurh.

  • Anonymouse

    I can back this up without being particularly self-conscious… My current working theory is that I started cutting when I was a teenager out of very poorly managed masochistic urges. I knew the idea of pain fascinated me, but I couldn’t possibly be one of THOSE perverted people, so I concluded that I must have been depressed and wanted to cut myself for that reason! Which led to me actually developing self-punishing thought patterns tied to self-injury that have persisted nine years to this day and still provoke the occasional relapse. :|

    I also used to think that everyone must find bondage etc. sexy but there was a tacit agreement to condemn it and by golly, I wanted to be on the “right” condemning side. So yeah. Reading that article made me very sad for the bishop.

  • Carstonio


    I also used to think that everyone must find bondage etc. sexy but there
    was a tacit agreement to condemn it and by golly, I wanted to be on the
    “right” condemning side.

    I had understood that some variants of Christian sexual ethics insist that sex for any purpose other than procreation amounts to enslavement to desires. That might explain why some Christians lump homosexuality, masturbation and bondage into the same category. The ethic is troublesome because it completely ignores the role of sex in emotional intimacy.

  • AnonymousSam

    I have a limited amount of how much about myself I’m willing to say per day and apparently I hit it last night. Quick, while I’m still too tired to care!

    I had a cutting period myself, to the point where suddenly reading it out of the blue kind of triggered me (no apologies needed stardreamer; I honestly had no idea that was there until it happened and it wasn’t a bad trigger, just gave me the chills something awful). It was a low point in my life. I recognized that it wasn’t going anywhere good, so I made myself break the habit by– replacing the pain with pleasure.

    The funny thing is, it led somewhere good. The conversion of emotional pain into physical pleasure eventually became emotional pain -> intellectual pleasure, by which I mean that I started writing erotic fiction. To this day, my most prolific writing comes when I’m under stress — and it almost always takes on an erotic slant, to the point where my current writing, in order to satisfy that drive, has to be divided into two versions (“PG-13” and “R”) in the event that I finish this and no publisher wants to touch the erotic content.

  • PatBannon

    Sigh. It’s a good thing for a whole lot of people (including me) that I don’t own a Death Note.

    Man, if I had a Death Note…I would probably be identified and captured immediately, because I am no Light Yagami. Might be cool for a little while, though, especially with the ability to set the method of death. See some virulently anti-gay preacher found dead from auto-erotic asphyxiation while watching hardcore gay pornography, now that would be something.

  • PatBannon

    I can see how powerful and corrupting a Death Note is. On one hand, there are some people in the world that could really use killing…

    “The first time you blow someone away is not an insignificant event. That said, there are some assholes in the world that just need to be shot. There are hunters and there are victims. By your discipline, you will decide if you are a hunter or a victim.” – Marine General James Mattis

    On the other hand, you know, if you use it, you’re a mass murderer. Or at the very least, a serial killer. And mass murderers and serial killers tend to be the sort of people that could really use killing.

    I suppose to preserve your morality, such as it is, while using a Death Note, your final target would have to be yourself. Since at this point you would probably be the most prolific murderer in the world. Well, the most prolific murderer in the world who ever acted alone, and didn’t have, say, an army or a nation or something.

  • “My current working theory is that I started cutting when I was a teenager out of very poorly managed masochistic urges.”

    Yes, that’s how it was for me.  Cutting wasn’t about depression, it was just kind of fascinating.

    I’ve found other outlets for my masochistic urges.  And since Babeland has been mentioned – I miss them greatly from when I lived in Seattle. An awesome sex-positive shop.

    And as mentioned, kink doesn’t have to be about sex… but there’s nothing wrong with it when it is. :)

  • I’m an anti-war, anti-death penalty Quaker. But if a Death Note dropped into my lap I’d become a monster within a week.

    I do think I’d evade law enforcement better than Light Yagami, though, because I would avoid the central mistake of making people realize someone was behind the deaths. Yes, I know he wanted to change people’s behavior and all, but the fastest way to get found by the police is to let them know they should be looking for someone.

  • reynard61

    “The story serves as an illustrative example of the way the conservative echo chamber can twist facts and turn baseless speculation into their controversy du jour.”

    If the University *REALLY* wanted to drive the Rethuglicans apeshit crazy they’d *renovate* it and use it as the Barack Obama Presidential Library. I’d bequeath real money to see that!

  • Mrs Grimble

     I’m reading Temple Grandin’s Thinking In Pictures  and she describes how, as a child, she discovered that pressure on her body would relieve the stress, panic and fear that resulted from her autism.  Eventually, she built her own ‘pressure box’ that applies controlled, gentle pressure all  over her body (which she still uses). Also, in her work with cattle, she observed that applying similar gentle ‘squeeze’ pressure to their bodies calmed them, and designed chutes for that purpose.
    Having read that, I think it’s perfectly possible  that this priest’s self-applied bondage served much the same purpose and had no sexual angle at all.

  • Mrs Grimble

     Or the T-shirt I saw once that had “Porn Star in Training” emblazoned across it. In child sizes in a display of kid’s clothing….

  • Tricksterson

    Bad Christian!  No Death Cookie!

  • Tricksterson

    So according to Alfie’s Home homosexuality is caused by “bad touching” and the cure is…more bad touching?

  • Tricksterson

    I like to point out that if people’s sexuality is a choice then that must mean that humans are naturally bisexual.  I like to wear something easliy washable when I do so however because it makes their heads asplode.

  • Tricksterson

    Way wo to make an RTCs head aspode.  If they say the United States was founded as a Christian nation ask them “Then why does it have fifty pentagrams on it’s flag?”
    Also, reccomended as an atidote to Ken Hamm’s  creationist museum, the Dinosaur national Monument.  It’s apparently worked for Douglas, the man who was responsible for it’s creation.  He was raised a Six Day Adventist but while working on the site wrestled with the evidence of his senses.  He apparently compromised by becoming a Unitarian.

  • banancat

     No, “want” is no longer a metaphor.  It’s wrong to appeal to some archaic, obsolete meaning when people don’t actually use it that way.  This is how language works.  There wasn’t some time point where that definition was right and now new definitions are wrong compared to it.  “Want” used to mean something different than what it means now, and unless you’re using it in some poetic sense, you are the one who is wrong for using it in a way that most current speakers don’t use it.

  • banancat

     Wouldn’t it follow then that abstinence is pre-emptive contraception, and therefore also pre-emptive abortion?  The difference is the sex involved, which shows clearly that these people thing sex should be punished (for women) with childbirth.

  • Actually, in science we sometimes use “want” that way to express what is more cumbersomely expressed as “that tendency of a system to behave under the given conditions of (laws governing the system).”

    So we might say, “quarks want to be stuck together” when actually it is better precisely stated “quarks stay bound due to the nature of the strong interaction (cue page-long blabber about gluon exchange, gluon self-interaction resulting in quark confinement, running coupling constants, and so on)”.

    As can be seen, sometimes a moment’s imprecision avoids a world of earbashing over stuff the average person won’t care about.

  • Admittedly, from a scientist’s perspective it’s not quite clear what we ever mean by “want” other than the tendency of a system to behave in particular ways under the laws governing that system.

    That is, when I say I want pizza, from that perspective it’s not like there’s some sort of extraphysical impetus that creates this desire. Rather, this desire is a natural consequence of my brain operating under the laws that govern its behavior.

  • AnonymousSam

    But to be clear on the subject, the problem is that when most pro-life advocates say a fetus “wants” to be born, they don’t mean the fetus is operating according to its biological imperative to grow and catalyze labor contractions, yadda yadda. They’re using the word with anthropomorphizing intent and saying the fetus has feelings and consciousness.

    In the best case scenario, they’re arguing that the fetus wants to be born so that it can love its mother and grow up and yadda yadda some more. In the worst case scenario, they actually claim that the fetus is aware of its impending destruction and would be begging for life if it only had the means to do so. The more they anthropomorphize the fetus, the more nightmarish their mind interprets what happens and the more vehement they are that an act of evil is being performed.

    This is why clarity of language is necessary. A fetus has biological imperative to be born, but does not have the consciousness to desire to be born. It’s not even like a coma patient. More like saying that a tadpole understands skyscrapers and wants to climb them as a frog.