1. Azie Mira Dungey used to have a strange commute, traveling back to the 18th Century every day to work as a “living history” character at Mount Vernon. She’s mined that experience to create a pointedly hilarious comedy Web series: “Ask a Slave.”
2. The NALT Christians Project now has more than 50 videos posted, including, to my delight, this one from the Rev. Susan Russell, who I hope you know from her insightful, inspiring blog, An Inch at a Time.
3. Hemant Mehta and Steve Benen provide some helpful background on the Massachusetts case involving the Pledge of Allegiance. This is a First Amendment issue regarding the words “under God” in the revised pledge. I’m a Baptist, so yes, I’m opposed to state-mandated religion and think the folks bringing this case have a correct argument — whether or not the courts agree. (The courts may make Christianists happy by finding that God-talk is a vague and meaningless expression of civil religion and that concerns about the establishment of religion don’t apply to something as impotent and inconsequential as the Americanized God of Christian America. Yay!)
None of this directly involves my main reason for hating the Pledge of Allegiance: It’s the creepiest creepy thing from Creepy Town. Don’t get me wrong, I love the sentiments the Pledge expresses about “liberty and justice for all.” But those ideals are contradicted, emphatically, by the very act of requiring children to pledge allegiance. “Swear your loyalty to liberty, or else,” is not compatible with actual liberty, or justice.
Other countries don’t do this. They don’t make their children swear a daily loyalty oath. Because it’s creepy — creepy like Patrick Bergin in Sleeping With the Enemy creepy. Exactly like that. Reciting the Pledge isn’t patriotic, it’s a ritual in coercive conformity. Love and coercion can never exist in the same space.
4. A bill is moving along in California that would “allow — but not require — a local government to disapprove of the conversion of a mobile home park if a majority of park residents do not support it.” The word “conversion” there refers to the displacement of every manufactured-home owner in the park. Some of their homes may be relocated — at great expense to people who cannot afford such an expense. Others would be simply lost — leaving them without a home and without all the savings they’ve spent acquiring one.
This bill is a step in a positive direction, but an appallingly modest step. It shows that poor people don’t have rights. What they have, instead, is the potential possibility that maybe government might be allowed — but not required — to prevent them from being evicted from their own homes.
5. An evangelical Christian minister in West Virginia says his home security camera has captured an angel on video. This is, of course, ridiculous. This is West Virginia, and if you look at the video, you’ll see it’s clearly not an angel, but simply the Mothman, making the rounds, apparently, before the big festival later this month.
6. Here is one of the better responses to the awful responses to Miley at the VMAs, from the Queen of the Couch:
What I’m trying to say is that I don’t respect nor trust my sons, or men in general. For that matter, I don’t trust females either. I think that men are mindless slaves to their genitals, incapable of compassion, or reasoned decision-making. I think, and pass on to my sons, that if they falter, it is partly their fault, but mostly the fault of women (or a woman), guilty of infecting them with lust. I am teaching them to not trust their own instincts or emotions, in the way that I distrust them, because even if they think they’re thinking with their heart, they can rest assured that it is their penis, unless told otherwise. I want them to see women as objects, save their future wives, of whom I’ve set an almost impossible standard of beauty, piety, and influence over my sons’ happiness, satisfaction and overall quality of life that will only be achieved through a relationship with this one, special, specific person, that meets said criteria.
7. Here’s a helpful video from the Urban Institute looking at the much-touted “47 percent pay no income tax” idea.