Getting Them Where It Hurts: A Huge Porn Site Just Banned NC IP Addresses.

Getting Them Where It Hurts: A Huge Porn Site Just Banned NC IP Addresses. April 13, 2016

(Cornbread recipe at the end of the post! Click to jump to it.)

North Carolina just passed an incredibly dehumanizing, humiliating, and blatantly discriminatory set of laws, and various people and groups are trying to show them what happens when a state decides that some of its citizens don’t rate the same civil rights that others get.

The pushback to their actions just got personal, if not downright intimate. House Bill 2 (HB2) has been nicknamed “the bathroom bill” and its repercussions may well strike North Carolina bigots in their “bathroom bits” as well. Here’s what happened and why this pushback is so hilarious–and strangely fitting.

Cue the ominous music. (Credit: Hannah Gilbert, CC license.)
Cue the ominous music. (Credit: Hannah Gilbert, CC license.)

Bigots Gonna Hate.*

In February, North Carolina passed an ordinance that would provide LGBT people more protections as a class. This law was a good thing. It gave transgender people the right to use the bathroom of whatever gender they identify as, among other things. The law was set to go into effect this month.

THEY HAVE AWAKENED HIM. (Credit: Vivatier, CC-SA license.)

Alas, the bigots-for-Jesus of North Carolina couldn’t take this simple gesture of compassion laying down! They had to do something! So the good ole boys of North Carolina’s legislature were summoned back to a special session purely devoted to overruling the new ordinance. And it passed very easily in that crowd.

That special session its resulting repeal resulted in new laws that, besides the infamous “bathroom bill,” actually made it illegal for any local NC governments to pass any sort of anti-discrimination ordinance and for good measure made it illegal for any NC cities to make their minimum wage higher than whatever the state sets.

But the “bathroom bill” is what has opponents the angriest, for good reason. The lawmakers drilled down on bigotry by introducing a law that decreed that transgender people had to use bathrooms that corresponded to the gender listed on their birth certificates. That means that a big, tough, tattooed, cowboy-hat-wearing, bearded man would be required to visit the ladies’ powder room if his birth certificate listed him as female. Lawmakers thundered that they “just” wanted to protect their womenfolk and whined about the potential risks posed by raising the specter of men who they insisted were going to pretend to be women to get at those poor, innocent cisgender women trying to use the bathroom.

This legislative fight is the latest foot-battle waged between North Carolina’s liberals and conservatives–between city folk and country folk, between young people and older folks, and between progressive people and regressive ones terrified of change.

SO OMINOUS. Dun dun DUN! (Credit: Marilyn Sherman, CC license.)
SO OMINOUS. Dun dun DUN! (Credit: Marilyn Sherman, CC license.)

Most of all, this is a battle being waged between fundagelicals and those outside the tribe.

Fundagelicalism–that weird fusion of evangelical and fundamentalist Christianity, whizzed in a blender with right-wing politics so extreme they seem downright fascist, then topped with a dollop of racism, sexism, anti-LGBT bigotry, and class warfare–is fighting its last fight and taking its last breath, and its leaders know it.

Horror is sometimes furry and cute and thinks you haz a flavor. Credit: 紫流, CC-SA license.)
Horror is sometimes furry and cute and thinks you haz a flavor. Credit: 紫流, CC-SA license.)

The battle was on back in 2012 when Republican politicians managed to capture both the legislature and the governorship of North Carolina and immediately set about trying to establish a right-wing theocracy in their state, as evidenced by their 2013 attempt to make Christianity the state’s official religion, which happened right about when they voted to repeal the state’s Racial Justice Act even though they were perfectly aware of the racial bias in their court system.

Really, trying to enshrine a religion into power isn’t the most repugnant thing that Republicans in that state have tried to do lately. One wonders if they’re wetting their pants over Sharia law purely because the flag involved has a crescent on it rather than a cross.

Then the Ordinance Slapped Their Dominance in the Face.

Fundagelicals must have felt frantic when the people they hated and had decided were their tribal enemies suddenly found themselves set to enjoy some of the basic liberties and human dignity that fundagelicals have been trying their hardest to deny them!

Ruh roh!

O.O See? SEE?
See? SEE? (Credit: aimee rivers, CC-SA license.)

So these loving TRUE CHRISTIANS™ sprang into action to make extra-double-sure that kindness, civility, dignity, and compassion sure weren’t gonna happen in the Tar Heel State during THEIR watch. (One wishes that Republicans could move so quickly and decisively when it comes to more noble causes.)

As you can imagine, it was Christians who supported this action and testified against the ordinance in question. A Christian girl raised by bigots-for-Jesus stood up in front of those lawmakers and sniveled that she was totally scaaaaaaaaaared of the idea of a “boy” using the girls’ bathroom because that’s what her parents and trusted leaders had taught her to fear.

Adult bigots-for-Jesus whined that people shouldn’t be second-guessing their god and that everyone should use whatever bathroom corresponds to their plumbing, since obviously toilets are SO different for men and women and also obviously because all transgender people have obvious opposite-sex plumbing because that’s what their religious leaders and right-wing news sources had scared them into thinking.

For a people who say so enthusiastically that they believe that their god is eager to nurture them, protect them, find their car keys, get them great parking spots, clear up their acne, and get them to their Zumba classes on time, they sure do quiver in their booties at the idea of a woman walking into a women’s bathroom, using it without hassle, and leaving again without being humiliated–especially because there’s no evidence at all to suggest that any transgender man or woman has ever caused any trouble in a public bathroom.

Fundagelicals would love to be able to forget that fact, which is why we need to shout it from the rooftops.

Not Only Is This Bill Cruel, Humiliating, Bigoted, Nasty, and Hateful, But It Is Also Totally Pointless.

There is not one single reported case of a transgender man or woman attacking a cisgender man or woman in a bathroom. Nor is there any reported case involving a cisgender person (particularly a man) pretending to be a woman to gain access to a woman’s bathroom in order to harass women in there. (I raise gender here because I didn’t notice any fundagelical talking about the trauma of being a woman and having to use a men’s bathroom because her birth certificate listed her as male). These laws are a solution searching for a problem that flat-out does not exist. The NC law is purely about humiliating people that fundagelicals hate and fear, and its sole purpose is to make sure their hated enemies know their “place” in fundagelical-dominated culture.

However, transgender people do get attacked in bathrooms–by cisgender people, as unfortunate transgender teens are discovering when their schoolmates, young bigots-for-Jesus-in-training, attack them there. Sometimes cisgender people even sexually assault transgender people in bathrooms. That really is a problem that really does need definitive and prompt action. But the TRUE CHRISTIANS™ in North Carolina don’t know or care about the people who are actually being victimized–by them. All they care about is themselves and grabbing power using a dishonest message of fear and hatred.

Are you starting to understand my naked contempt for Christians who try to control and harass others in the name of “Jesus” when they don’t even understand what they’re talking about?

Thankfully, Pushback Has Been Swift.

It’s downright refreshing to see how strong and fervent the pushback has been over this law. One rights group called the bill “shameful” and said it was “one of the worst, most extreme” discrimination bills they’d ever seen out of some 150+ discrimination bills Republicans have tried to pass.

This is only a momentary setback. (Credit: Lyn Lomasi, CC license.)
This is only a momentary setback. (Credit: Lyn Lomasi, CC license.)

Various actors and companies, including Dow Chemical, immediately spoke against the bill. Bruce Springsteen famously decided to cancel a concert in protest of the harassment that state is attempting to deal out to LGBTQ people.

PayPal announced it wasn’t going to open a facility there after all–a move that would have employed some 400 North Carolina residents and “pumped millions into the local economy.” Deutsche Bank shortly thereafter made a similar decision–costing NC another USD$21million in annual payrolls alone.

The NBA may end up moving its next All-Star game in 2017 elsewhere, too, and at least five groups have canceled events in the state that would have brought in almost a million dollars total to the economy there (while 16 other groups may cancel their own upcoming events, which would be another $24M). Tourism industry watchers have noted that Indiana lost some USD$60M from canceled conventions and sports games alone after its own adventures in bigotry last year with the passage of the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which allowed Christians to discriminate against LGBTQ people. The same group reported that over 1,000 leisure travelers canceled visits to the state directly because of the law. They have no reason to believe that the same things won’t happen to North Carolina, which may well be why dozens of hotel and travel companies are strongly condemning the law and calling upon NC’s legislature to repeal it.

But TRUE CHRISTIANS™ only become emboldened by criticism. “We must be doing something right!” is their rallying cry.

Franklin Graham has been out campaigning for the bigots-for-Jesus, railing about “attacks of this wicked agenda” to keep the foot soldiers of “God” inspired to keep up their valiant fight against dignity and human rights. I’d say he’s a real expert on wickedness, all right.

But he also can’t be deluded enough to think that he and his bigoted pals are going to win this fight.

You see, they lost this culture war years ago.

And they know it.

Captain America wasn't sure about Thor and Iron Man, but he realized that sometimes he had to consider the unthinkable when the cause was great enough. (Credit: Carol Pereira, CC-ND license.)
Captain America wasn’t sure about Thor and Iron Man, but he realized that sometimes he had to consider the unthinkable when the cause was great enough. (Credit: Carol Pereira, CC-ND license.)

A War Lost Years Ago.

The culture war that Christian extremists have been waging for decades against LGBTQ people is coming to a head. The scales tipped years ago. A majority of American citizens are now fine with equal marriage and are also clearly comfortable with seeing transgender people in the media, if popular shows like Orange is the New Black are any indication.

It’s not that rights depend upon what the majority thinks, for which Franklin Graham and his pals may be grateful if it’s ever their right to be bigots-for-Jesus that are up on the proverbial chopping block.

It’s that all the campaigning they’ve done, all the many millions of dollars spent, all the hours passionately preaching about the evils of LGBTQ people generally, all the persecution and harassment they dole out to a group that never meant them any harm at all, all the training they give their children in how to persecute and harass that group, all the tantrums they throw, all the threats they make to starve themselves for bigotry, to raise arms against the country they claim to love and even to ragequit that country by trying to secede from it, and all the smears and lies they tell with their biggest Jesus smiles on their faces, are being spent to wage a war that they have already lost and that is being lost harder every year. Just imagine what our country’s attitude about women’s and LGBTQ rights would be if fundagelicals hadn’t been dragging us back for forty years and more!

They’re also well aware that they have lost and that the losses grow worse and larger every year.

Worldwide, they are getting slapped down constantly–which is what happened in Ireland, a formerly staunch bastion of Catholicism, where voters legalized equal marriage, thereby giving their onetime overlords a jaunty raised middle finger. In America, the surest indicators of whether or not a person will support equal marriage is that person’s age, education level, religious affiliation, and how close that person is to any LGBTQ people. I’m guessing that someone’s feelings about LGBTQ rights track pretty well with an acceptance of equal marriage, so it sure doesn’t seem like fundagelicals will see the tides turn on their new fight against transgender folks.

In North Carolina particularly, demographics are leading the state toward LGBTQ equality whether fundagelicals like it or not. As people become more educated, and as more young people age up and replace dying bigots-for-Jesus, as those young people begin to reject Christianity in greater and greater numbers, as more and more LGBTQ people make themselves known and make inevitable friendships and business relationships with those young people, those younger folks will inevitably reject the bigotry of their parents and grandparents. Worse, all of those trends only accelerate as those young people from small towns flee those economically-challenged areas to seek jobs and futures in the state’s larger cities, where they will only encounter more LGBTQ people and more people rejecting bigotry and Christianity alike.

Demographics are simply working against right-wing Christians.

As culture wars go, one couldn’t ask for one that is more doomed than the fight against LGBTQ rights. Focus on the Family figured this truth out back in 2011, two solid years before they hired pedophile sex attacker Josh Duggar to spread lies for them.**

Bigots-for-Jesus are never going to get a majority of Americans to sign on to their platform of brutal intolerance, hypocrisy, cruelty, and savage oppression against innocent people. Their only hope of keeping that message alive at this point is to export it to other countries that aren’t quite as savvy about fundagelical dishonesty, as Scott Lively attempted to do with bigoted ideas that are extreme and toxic even by fundagelical standards.

All right-wing Christians are doing now is playing the end-game. Republican politicians are pandering to them to get votes and power from the one demographic they know for sure they can sorta-kinda count on, and fundagelicals are actively demonstrating that they’re happy to be pandered to. This is an end-game that might run for a while, but there won’t be a magical turning of the tide.

Indeed, the New York Times speculates that Governor Pat McCrory (R-the Fetid Swamps of Hell), the Jesus-smile-wearing bigot-for-Jesus, is using this law to get himself brownie points with his state’s fundagelicals because he’s facing a tough race next election against a Democratic candidate. He’s never been a very popular candidate, having lost his 2008 gubernatorial race and then having won the 2012 race 55%-43%. He’s pissed off fundagelicals a few times since then, so he really needs to do something to shore up support with them.

This bill might be tailor-made for that purpose. It’s definitely not going to succeed, but it doesn’t really even have to do so.

Republicans love doing this kind of thing with culture-war issues like abortion and LGBTQ rights. Whether their irresponsible and largely-unconstitutional laws pass or fail, their sponsors and authors will win major points with fundagelicals. Such Christians love feeling victorious against their enemies, sure, but they will see even a stunning defeat as evidence that they are “doing something right” and “fighting the good fight against Satan.” Nothing but victory makes them as happy as feeling persecuted. Both outcomes convince them that they are Jesus’ special buddies and “God’s” chosen people.

That’s what makes the most recent pushback against the North Carolina law so hilarious.

Getting Them Where It Hurts.

In a news release that looks like it came straight out of The Onion, one of the largest pornography sites on the internet, XHamster, just announced that its owners had just blocked all North Carolina IP addresses from their site.

XHamster is one of those porn sites that has its porn offerings divided into categories that people can search for and watch from the privacy of their own homes. There are many of these kinds of sites around, all giving users the thrills they want (and the malware they don’t) for free. In terms of its popularity online, Alexa ranks it 91st in the world for traffic (59th in Japan specifically!). By stark contrast, Focus on the Family’s website ranks 26,259 in the world and 5791 in the US, where the vast majority of its visitors are–numbers which are almost identical for Creationist powerhouse Answers in Genesis.

The overlap between visitors to these Christian sites and porn sites like XHamster is likely near-total. Reporting on a Barna Group survey on the topic of Christians and pornography, the Washington Times noted, “There are two kinds of Christians in America — those who watch porn and those who lie about it.” The survey found no difference whatsoever between Christian and non-Christian porn consumption habits. So this IP block is going to be a problem for a lot of Christians!

Every computer or hub connected to the Internet has an IP address. That IP address is a unique number that broadcasts a lot of details about that computer/hub, most important among them what internet provider it uses to get online and where it’s located. This identifier is so unique that it’s been used in criminal investigations and court cases to help identify the perpetrators of crimes. Yes, it’s possible to fake an IP address, but I’m betting most people don’t know that it’s even possible, much less how to do it.

So if someone from North Carolina wants to watch porn on XHamster, they’re shit out of luck, because they’ll get a screen that looks something like this:

Screenshot of what XHamster users in NC saw as of this writing.
Screenshot of what XHamster users in NC saw as of this writing.

Do What We Say (OR ELSE!), Not What We Do.

An XHamster spokesperson thinks that their blackout will more effective than the cancellation of a rock concert because hundreds of thousands of North Carolina users come to XHamster to see porn from categories labeled “Gay,” “Transsexual,” “Shemale,” and others that are not sensitive, loving depictions of penis-in-vagina, true-love-in-the-dark, Jesus-approved marital relations between one man and one woman.

It’s no secret that the TRUE CHRISTIANS™ in the Deep South account for a huge number of porn subscriptions and porn site visits–but what might be even more unsurprising is that there are more consumers of gay porn in the Southern states than there are elsewhere–even in states that led the way to equal marriage!

(Amusingly, the #1 state for gay porn appears to be Mississippi, where anal sex was illegal even for consenting couples until 2003.)

A more official 2009 study found that conservative, religious states tended to use more pornography than did states boasting a large liberal and non-religious population, leading one Harvard Business School associate professor to note, “Some of the people who are most outraged turn out to be consumers of the very things they claimed to be outraged by.”

400,000 visitors in North Carolina came to XHamster last month alone for “Transsexual” porn, and over 300,000 visitors sought out gay porn. Considering that the state has a population of about 9 million people, that’s quite a large percentage of them looking for off-limits sex acts to watch!

Why This Backlash Is So Necessary.

In the wake of all this backlash, the governor issued a frantic-sounding video decrying what he called “selective outrage and hypocrisy.”

Gaslighting the victims he’s abusing isn’t actually responding to the serious concerns that have been raised about his irresponsible behavior, and neither is the weak-sauce backpedaling and rationalizations he offered for why he decided that he felt like oppressing his state’s citizens and destroying his tax-paying constituents’ human dignity over totally imaginary fears trumped up by fundagelical bigots who are so furious over the loss of their own dominance that they’ve trampled underfoot the Great Commandment to “love their neighbors as themselves.”

Governor McCrory walked back some of the bill, saying he was expanding job protections for LGBTQ citizens, but refused to make any changes in the “bathroom bill” part of it. Which is why the backlash is continuing, and needs to do so.

Bigots-for-Jesus sometimes get so caught up in their bubble that they forget that what they say and do has consequences outside of it. They’re some of the quickest people I’ve ever seen to start screaming about lawsuits and boycotts whenever a person or company doesn’t do what they want, even though their lawsuits usually fail and their boycotts make them bigger and bigger laughingstocks with every single one they try to organize.

I suggest that this time we learn why they keep making those threats.

Remember my theory? People tend to use the arguments and tactics against others that they think would be most effective on themselves. Christians threaten boycotts and punitive lawsuits because they respect the power of money and legal action to produce changes in monolithic institutions, governments, and individuals. They don’t really care about the culture wars themselves so much as the power they get through pursuing them.

That’s why so many of them tend to lack follow-through when it comes down to actually doing any of the things they threaten to do: they care about money and comfort far more than they do about their various culture wars. They’ve been telling us this truth for years, but we haven’t heard them clearly enough–yet. Maybe now we’re starting to understand:

Christians will change even their most cherished doctrines and ignore their most blustered threats if it hits them too hard in the wallets or habits.

Just as Utah dropped their doctrine of polygamy when it became obvious that this doctrine was interfering with their ambitions of joining the United States, just as fundagelicals might wave their fists in the air and stomp their feet over lists of LGBTQ-friendly companies (such as the ones currently speaking out against HB2) and yet still use their products constantly, you’ll find that when their bottom line gets threatened, Christians quickly figure out some way either sneak around their blustering threats or else ignore that they ever said anything like that. They can’t even stop eating their favorite brand of corn-based crack to send a statement about their deeply held religious convictions bigotry.

So let’s not imagine for a second that they’ll be happy about losing their favorite concerts, sportsball games, and porn sites as the price they must pay to be bigots-for-Jesus. History has shown us time and again that their “deeply held religious convictions” last exactly as long as it takes to inconvenience them even the smallest bit!

Playing Adult Pretendy Funtime Games is great and all, but if they could jerk off to their religious convictions there wouldn’t be hundreds of thousands of them sneaking off to Xhamster every month to find gay and transgender porn to watch.

Even hamsters know that.

If you can say one thing about hamsters, it's this: they multiply when given half a chance! (Credit: , CC license.)
If you can say one thing about hamsters, it’s this: they multiply when given half a chance! (Credit: Luvs :3, CC license.)

* “Bigoted” is what we call people who dehumanize, persecute, and harass an entire group of other people and work to strip away that group’s human and civil rights. That these particular bigots are doing it under a cloak of “just following orders” does not excuse that what they are doing is, in fact, bigoted and that they are bigots because they think that LGBTQ people do not deserve rights that non-LGBTQ people enjoy. I realize that this terminology may upset bigoted Christians, who don’t like to think of themselves as bad people and who long ago erroneously conflated their beliefs and behaviors with “being Christian” or “exercising their freedom of religion.” I’m past caring what bigots do and do not like. Bigotry performed while wearing a Jesus smile is still bigotry, and I am not going out of my way to avoid hurting the delicate fee-fees of people who treat others like that.

** In that 2011 piece, by the way, the FoF leader’s takeaway was to decide that maybe “God” wanted his group to start fighting against no-fault divorce for straight people. Talk about magical thinking! Every time his group of merry misogynists have tried that avenue, it’s become a cover for horrifying abuse while strangely not impacting LGBTQ people’s behavior in the least.


Captain Cassidy’s Favorite Cornbread Recipe
The Best Recipe, 1999, p. 389. Serves 8.

1. Ask an adult to preheat oven to 450. (Just kidding. You can do this yourself, promise.) Set 8″ cast-iron skillet with 4tsp bacon fat or Crisco or vegetable oil (in order of preference) in it on a rack set in the lower-middle of the oven.

2. Measure 1/3 cup cornmeal into a medium bowl. In a smaller second bowl, whisk until well blended: 2/3 cup more cornmeal, 2 tsp sugar (can increase to 2 or 3 Tb dark brown sugar–Mr. Captain likes this), 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp baking powder, and 1/4 tsp baking soda; set aside.

3. Pour 1/3 cup boiling water into the medium bowl and stir to make a stiff mush. Whisk in 3/4 cup buttermilk until smooth, then whisk in 1 egg (beaten lightly previously).

4. By now the skillet should be hot and the fat melted, so pull it out, swirl the fat around to coat the sides of the skillet, and then set it on a burner. Immediately pour the rest of the cornmeal into the mush and stir until it’s just barely combined (DO NOT over-stir; it gets a weird texture). Pour in the hot fat from the skillet immediately afterward, and stir that quickly until barely combined. Pour the resulting batter into the hot skillet and put it back into the oven.

5. Bake about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Pull from oven. Turn the cornbread onto a rack and cool for 5 minutes. It’s ready to eat as soon as you can handle it.

To store, wrap in plastic wrap and you can either leave it on the counter, or, if you have kittens, put it in the fridge. If you want to use it for stuffing, you can park it on top of the fridge for a few days first.

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