7 things @ 11 o’clock (7.8)

7 things @ 11 o’clock (7.8) July 8, 2013

1. The Dalston House. The Mom from The Cat in the Hat vs. the Man in the Yellow Hat. “I don’t have to outrun the bear …”

2. Ever since the Supreme Court struck down DOMA and Prop 8, the professional fundraisers of the religious right have been warning that Christians will soon be thrown in jail for being anti-gay. This is stupid on at least two levels: First, because not all Christians are anti-gay and, despite their assumptions and insinuations to the contrary, being anti-gay is not a necessary trait or a defining characteristic for Christians. And second because no one wants to throw them in jail, no one is threatening to throw them in jail, and no legal basis exists for anyone doing so.

The clearest piece of evidence for that latter point is the continuing freedom of the Rev. Fred Phelps. In 2011, the Supreme Court reaffirmed that Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church have every legal right to continue their hateful, loathesome “ministry.”  And if Fred Phelps ain’t in jail for being anti-gay, then no one ever will be.

More recently, the White House responded to a series of online petitions calling for the president to officially designate Westboro Baptist as a “hate group.” The White House pointed out that the president isn’t in the business of designating hate groups — he doesn’t have the power to do so and isn’t inclined to try to change that, even in the extreme case of Westboro, whose behavior, the White House notes, is “reprehensible.”

“As a matter of practice, the federal government doesn’t maintain a list of hate groups,” the White House said. “That’s the prerogative of private organizations like the Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center.”

That won’t stop the fundraisers of the religious right from continuing to insist that President Obama is about to designate them as hate groups, or from falsely claiming that their organizations have somehow already been listed as such.

3. When you find yourself praising Vladimir Putin as your ideal moral leader, you’re doing it wrong.

4. Since Friday’s Left Behind post here dealt both with the Two Witnesses and with a trip to Galilee, here are a couple of recent items of related interest. First is James McGrath’s discussion of Lee Harmon’s speculation as to a historical basis (or identity) for the witnesses in the book of Revelation. McGrath finds the idea interesting, but he’s not buying it. Check the post out, though, for a good example of how theologians go about considering such things (and for the awesomely awful “Bible prophecy” artwork of the fire-breathing witnesses). The second item is the news of a weird discovery beneath the waves of the Sea of Galilee:

Researchers stumbled upon a cone-shaped monument, approximately 230 feet in diameter, 39 feet high, and weighing an estimated 60,000 tons, while conducting a geophysical survey on the southern Sea of Galilee, reports Prof. Shmulik Marco of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Geophysics and Planetary Sciences. The team also included TAU Profs. Zvi Ben-Avraham and Moshe Reshef, and TAU alumni Dr. Gideon Tibor of the Oceanographic and Limnological Research Institute.

Initial findings indicate that the structure was built on dry land approximately 6,000 years ago, and later submerged under the water. Prof. Marco calls it an impressive feat, noting that the stones, which comprise the structure, were probably brought from more than a mile away and arranged according to a specific construction plan.

Dr. Yitzhak Paz of the Antiquities Authority and Ben-Gurion University says that the site, which was recently detailed in the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, resembles early burial sites in Europe and was likely built in the early Bronze Age. He believes that there may be a connection to the nearby ancient city of Beit Yerah, the largest and most fortified city in the area.

That’s a cool piece of archaeological/historical news, but I’m also waiting to see what the End-Times enthusiasts and the “Bible prophecy scholars” will concoct in response to this story. I can see some Ken-Ham-types deciding this is a remnant of the Tower of Babel or evidence of Noah’s Flood. Or some enterprising huckster might decide it’s a kind of Asherah pole and start raising funds to have it torn down lest we risk incurring divine wrath. For folks like Tim LaHaye, John Hagee and Jack Van Impe, I’m sure this will be seen as yet another sign of the imminent End of the World, but how exactly they’ll go about spinning it as such I can’t guess.

5. On a related note about biblical study and the study of history, Paul at Disoriented. Reoriented has a nice overview of the very weak case for a historical interpretation of the story of Exodus (or, if you like, an overview of the very strong case against interpreting the story of Exodus as actual history). And Darrell Pursiful guides us through a discussion of some of the other, non-historical content in our King James Bibles — namely, the bits about unicorns, dragons, satyrs and onocentaurs.

6. From Brian McLaren:

Gregory of Nyssa said that sin is essentially a refusal to grow, and I think, in many ways, he is right. One narrative looks around and says that every day, in every way, the world is getting worse. Another narrative looks around and says that every day, in every way, the world is getting better. A wiser narrative might be — every day, and in every way, we are always negotiating between regression, stagnation, stability, and growth.

That’s why I would rather say that our strongest and best tradition is a willingness to learn, change, and grow. To be carefully and wisely progressive is — traditional in the best sense.

7. Want another seven things? Here’s Omid Safi offering “7 observations on North Carolina’s anti-democratic, anti-Muslim, anti-women legislation.” Appropriate reading for this, the 11th Moral Monday. (See also Ed Kilgore on North Carolina’s “Selective Fundamentalism“: “Having resolved to protect the Tar Heel State from the entirely imaginary threat of Islamic theocracy, the solons figured they’d show the world what home-grown theocracy looked like. …” )

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  • BaseDeltaZero

    Huh. For the first time in quite a while, I find myself thinking ‘you know, Diplomatic Immunity is kind of a good idea.’ Though, remarkable they’re willing to violate it for Snowden, but *not* for slavers…

  • BaseDeltaZero

    This incident is one everyone gets worked up about, but it never bothers me in particular – while an American citizen, he was also an active enemy agent in hostile territory. It wasn’t a matter of ‘he criticized us, so we killed him!’

    The drone strike program as a whole, on the other hand, is just a clusterfuck of epic proportions that went over the line the moment they decided dropping a missile on *anyone* in the middle of an occupied city was a reasonable thing to do.

  • BaseDeltaZero

    Yeah. They are afraid that Sharia law is about to be implemented because they are, in that moment, working to implement their own version of Sharia law.

  • themunck

    Silly Ross. They hate -all- religious law systems. The system they’re trying to implement isn’t religious. It’s Christian!

  • Carstonio

    I doubt the vast majority of the elected officials actually believe that, or that even most of their constituents believe it. But many of the latter probably do believe that all Muslims want to take over the world. Overall these proposed laws are elaborate dog whistles that pander to the allied mindsets of Christian dominionism and xenophobia, a way for officials to show that they’re tough on terrorism. Not much different from the local council in the UK that proudly banned “Life of Brian” even though there were no theaters in its district.

  • Ross Thompson

    Here’s a little anecdote about a marriage:

    I am a British national, and I fell in love with an American national, and we decided we wanted to spend the rest of our lives living in the same country together. Her career was more stable, and she owned a house which (combined with relative property prices) meant that it would be far easier for us to live in America together than Britain.

    So I applied for a K-1 fiance’s visa, moved to America, and we got married. It was not by any means a simple procedure, but there were no major road blocks, and everything went fairly smoothly Nine years later, we’re still together.

    Now, had we been the same gender, that path would have been denied to us. We could have lived in Britain, but in a far more uncertain situation, or I could have convinced an American company to hire me from abroad, come over on an employment visa, and run the risk of being deported if I lost my job within ten years.

    (I did, in fact, have a period of unemployment of almost a year which would have had rendered an employment visa void and forced me from the country)

    Why is my relationship so much more worthy of support just because we have different genitals? Why shouldn’t two people of the same gender be given the same opportunity to be together that we were?

    Is my marriage “all about the green card”? Would a same-sex marriage in the same circumstances be?

  • Launcifer

    There’s a product line waiting to happen, based on the last few moments from the Roger Corman version of Masque of the Red Death, where all the different deaths meet up and have a bit of a chinwag.

    Can someone please go and make this, if only so I have all of my relatives’ Christmas presents sorted out for a few years?

  • Ross Thompson

    he was also an active enemy agent in hostile territory

    Was he? If that’s the case, I’m sure the US government would be able to make that case in a court of law (even in absentia).

    So far as I’m aware, the only thing he’s actually been accused of is saying that people in the Middle East have a right to defend themselves against foreign invaders, which is clearly protected speech, viz Brandenburg vs Ohio.

    And, so far as I’m aware, Yemen is not “hostile territory”. We’re not even at Authorisation of Use of Military Force there!

    But if the government says we’ve always been at war with Eastasia, who am I to argue?

  • Well, yours might not be, but you should see how often I get or see messages from people trying to escape their countries’ anti-gay laws by finding people in the United States to marry them. PMs come in about once a week, messages to those groups at least once a day. Given that some of these countries execute people convicted of homosexuality, I can rather understand it, though…

  • Alix

    Language shift is fun, innit? I suspect those are two words that’ve permanently shifted, since I almost never hear the “real” definitions outside of very specific contexts. (In fact, I pretty much only hear that definition of indulgence when talking about the history of the Catholic Church.)

    Decadent became a dessert descriptor, I suspect, via sinful, and the idea that these rich desserts were themselves a sign of moral decay. I rather suspect people embraced that – just like I know people who’ve embraced “sinful” as a dessert descriptor – and it’s acquired a new meaning.

    (I really don’t understand being annoyed at word shift. It happens all the time, and it’s not like it’s a process we can stop.)

  • Ross Thompson

    Sure, and some people live in countries that persecute them for being Christian, and they want to marry someone in the US for a green card. Not sure that that has any bearing.

    It’s like the way that some on the religious right say that same-sex marriage should be illegal because heterosexual men will marry each other for the tax breaks. It never seems to occur to them that the current laws allow (differently-gendered) people to do that just as easily.

  • We Must Dissent

    I thought it was a reference to the statement from Shimada at the end of the film about never winning a battle–“We didn’t win; the farmers won.”–as the camera pans across the graves of the other samurai who defended the village.

    And while there aren’t specific samurai earlier in the film, the Sengoku Jidai has been going on for 120 years when the film takes place. It is very unlikely that this is the first conflict that has involved the village.

  • Daniel

    I get pissed off with the decadent misappropriation because I studied Decadent literature for a Master’s degree and the whole reason that movement started was to piss off exactly the kind of people who now use “decadent” to talk about chocolate cake. As a movement it’s whole purpose was to shake people from that sort of tame complacency and self satisfaction “ooh! Aren’t I naughty? Chocolate cake! Imagine!” and so it’s a personal bugbear that it now has less to do with an early tubercular death smashed on laudanum in a Parisian brothel having spent your brief, frail life chasing dangerous and unknown pleasures to escape the hideous reality of existence and more to do with a slice of cheesecake at lunch. Kind of devalues the whole thing, and misses the joke. But that’s just me.

  • Daniel

    I’ve proposed to the Archbishop of Canterbury for exactly that reason (and of course, because he’s a total dreamboat). I reckon we can deduct more from our joint tax bill because he’s a religious institution. And, as I say, a total dreamboat.

  • Daniel

    Seriously, I suppose you’re just trolling with comments like this, but I am really interested to hear what that actually means- are gay people avaricious in your mind? Have you misunderstood the term “tightarse”? If you are serious and not just trying to piss people off would you please reply? Your dismissive “see. I knew all along” tone really doesn’t help your case- if you’re not just trying to piss people off.

  • dpolicar

    FWIW, I assumed jojo was implying that same-sex couples want our families to be treated equally to other families exclusively in order to obtain financial benefits, and not for any other reason.

  • Daniel

    I thought that, it’s just the “no surprise” bit sounds a bit like eye rolling sarcasm, as though gay people are famous for hording wealth. He seems to have gays and dragons mixed up. And I am honestly quite curious to know if there’s anything behind this or if it was just an off the cuff “cuh! Of course!” kind of comment which has had too much attention paid to it and that’s why no defence has been offered…yet.

  • Daniel

    Addendum- there’s also a tenuous claim that can be made that Decadence in its literary form was a proto-gay rights movement. Gide, Wilde, Rimbaud, Verlaine et al all wrote about homosexuality in their Decadent phases, and in the case of Gide he actually published a full defence of being gay while it was still punishable by imprisonment and hard labour (years after following Wilde around like a lovesick puppy in Morocco- famous as a haven for Urienists). So to take the term and apply it to something as tame as dessert (that doesn’t involve copious quantities of drugs/alcohol/being consumed off or out of another person) is kind of- kind of, sort of, almost- doing a disservice to its more proper meaning. This is extremely tenuous, I know.

  • Daniel

    “playing with toys that are guaranteed lead-free”
    Although an old theory suggested for the original Decadence- the decline of the Roman Empire- was because they were all going mental from all the lead in the water.

  • Daniel

    You say that, but I have two words and a number that shuts that whole argument down: Lethal Weapon II.

  • dpolicar

    I think the “no surprise” is meant to imply that gay people are famous for not having actual loving relationships with one another the way straight people do, such that our desire to marry can’t be explained by reference to the same kinds of reasons that loving straight couples give for getting married, and therefore must be explained by something else, such as greed.

    And people like jojo, who knew that all along, are unsurprised, as contrasted to other less clear-thinking people who foolishly believed gay couples actually love each other.

  • GDwarf

    Oh, indeed, the point of the speech is that yes the villagers are cowardly opportunists who would kill a wounded man for his weapons…But it’s generations of abuse by samurai that have turned them into such, and so the seven can be offended all they like, they don’t have the high ground here.

  • Daniel

    Oh. That didn’t occur to me. That’s much worse than what I thought he meant. That’s really bloody horrible. I can’t even think of a sarky remark to make.

  • Ben English

    I’d say that the odds of the Supreme Court overturning Roe vs Wade are slim, but then we just had a black Justice join in the majority opinion that gutted the Voting Rights Act so I don’t even know what to think.

  • EllieMurasaki

    What I wish would happen is the Court overturning Roe v Wade and establishing new rules that in the first trimester, the right to an abortion on demand is absolute, in the third trimester, abortion only if the mother’s life or health is at immediate risk or the fetus is doomed anyway, and in the second trimester, the states may restrict abortion within reason.

    Which is basically what Roe v Wade originally said. Not that anybody knows that.

  • FearlessSon

    That is pretty much exactly what Roe v. Wade established.

    Apparently the forced-birth voting block thinks that any period where the pregnant woman has control is too much…

  • One of the most central ideas of the rape culture is that there are “deserved” and “undeserved” rapes. Prison rape is a useful trap for them, since there’s a whole lot of people who think of themselves as fighters against rape culture who can be goaded into conceding the fundamental point of there being “deserved” and ‘undeserved” rape by shouting how prison rape is Different (and even mentioning it gets classed as derailing) because it involves men-who-deserve-it, when they’d rightfully balk at the idea of suggesting that any other kinds of rape victims “deserve” it.

  • It’s not dragons.

    Having failed to gain any traction by repurposing arguments against miscegenation, they’ve resorted to repurposing antisemitism.

    They hoard money. They secretly run the world. They have an Agenda. Next, they’ll be telling us that TEH GAYZ killed Jesus.

  • Them hoity-toity Romans, thought they were too good to drink water out of the same river they shat in, and look what it got them? Lead poisoning from all that fancy-pants “indoor plumbing*”

    (* Obvious-only-in-retrospect fact: It’s called “plumbing” because the people who invented it made all their plumbing out of this stuff they called “plumbinum”)

  • BaseDeltaZero

    Yeah, hence why I only think that once in a while. Or for more real world examples, the genius at the Libyan(?) embassy that opened fire on a crowd protesting outside.

  • BaseDeltaZero

    I think there were two, actually, and the first one Anwar al-Awlaki, was pretty unambiguously a member of Al-Qaeda, what with regularly ‘preaching’ on their behalf. Furthermore, he *was* tried in absentia… by Yemen (when I said ‘Hostile Territory’ I was referring to ‘the middle of an Al-qaeda dominated region’). Killing someone who’s a high-ranking agent of a power against which we’re in a de-facto war (of sorts), in the middle of their camp, even if they are an American.

    The problem is the drone program, not that Al-Awlaki was targeted. ‘Justified’ or not, it kills civilians, does more harm than good, and strategic bombing (which is what the Drone Strike program ultimately is) has never won a war, ever. (Not to mention fighting counter-terrorism operations like a conventional war is dumb). It seems a little odd to be upset particularly because the guy who happened to die this time was technically an American.

  • Space Marine Becka

    Absolutely agree.

    I saw some bloggers who spoke out against the whole “now they’ll learn what rape is like” attitude and commentors called them rape apologists.

    Excuse me? It’s not them who were being rape apologists.

    (Does being anti-capital punishment make me a murder apologist too?)

  • Fusina

    Congratulations!!!! Felicitations!!!!!!

    I’d say I hope you have a wonderful marriage, but it sounds like you already do, and now it will be supported legally.

    It is a tradition to cry at weddings, yes? Tears of joy, I assure you. Love is a wonderful thing–my daughter has a very good friend who is gay, who went a little happydance crazy at the overturning of DOMA. All we could do is stand around and enjoy his euphoria.

  • Fusina

    Ah. I ran into that with my Sis-in-Law, until I explained that the counted cross stitch piece that she thought I could get at least $100 for if I sold it took me about 100 hours to stitch up. Without accounting for materials, that gave me the impressive pay of $1/hour. She looked at the piece again, and decided that I probably couldn’t get a decent price for it. It is the reason that I only give my stuff away. I refuse to sell it for less than it is worth–and it is my hobby. The jewelry I make, on the other hand, is much less time intensive, and I can afford to sell it for a lot less while still getting a decent return on my time investment. And I still can’t believe the number of people who want to buy the handcrafted earrings that I sell for $1 for 50 cents. (No, I don’t give discounts, but if you buy five pairs of them, I throw in a sixth pair free–and actually, I do give the occasional discount, like the military wife with three kids who came by and the kids wanted to get their Mom Christmas presents, the Dad was overseas, money was tight, so I gave them a “military” discount.)

    And I know two people who do the most awesome photos–and I am trying to convince one of them that her work is amazing. I am hoping that one of these days she will believe me. Her family totally takes advantage of her good nature to photograph family weddings etc…and never pay her a dime, while bitching about the quality of the photographs. I’ve seen the photos in question, and her family is–awful? Because the pictures were very well done.

  • Fusina

    My daughter decided that although she likes going to overnight parties on occasion, she is no longer going to host sleepovers because at some point she needs to get away to decompress, and as the hostess it is not good manners to disappear. And she is both underage and doesn’t particularly enjoy the taste of alcoholic beverages, so the slightly tipsy route doesn’t work for her either.

  • Daniel

    Exactly. Typhoid was good enough for the rest of the world, it should have been good enough for them. Bloody Romans.

  • Daniel

    How exactly did Judas identify Jesus to the Romans again? Hmm…

  • Ross Thompson

    regularly ‘preaching’ on their behalf.

    Once again, Brandenburg vs Ohio. Protected political speech. First Amendment. The government cannot murder people for preaching or propagandizing, even if it results in people being killed in terrorist attacks. One can argue that that was a bad decision, but one cannot in good faith argue that the executive has the right to ignore the Supreme Court and the Constitution.

    Of course, it probably doesn’t help that I agree with him; I think that people do have the right to fight back against foreign invaders, in whatever way is effective. I think that the War on Muslims Terror is the greatest recruiting tool that al-Qaeda has ever had, and that it makes Americans as well as Middle-Easterners less safe.

    he *was* tried in absentia… by Yemen

    And yet it’s not the Yemeni government that executed him.

    If the American government thinks that sufficient evidence exists that he’s committed a crime worthy of capital punishment under the American judicial system, why has that evidence never been presented? Why have such charges never been levelled?

    when I said ‘Hostile Territory’ I was referring to ‘the middle of an Al-qaeda dominated region’

    Ah, “we know it’s an al-Qaeda dominated region, because al-Awlaki was there, and he’s a high-ranking member of al-Qaeda. And we know he’s a high-ranking member of al-Qaeda, because who else would be in the middle of an al-Qaeda dominated region like that?”

    This is dangerously close to the doctrine of the global battlefield, where America is justified in murdering anyone, anywhere, regardless of whether or not we’re at war there. After all, if Padilla was arrested in O’Hare Airport and Boumedine was pulled out of his bed in Bulgaria, and they were both denied due process on the grounds that they were “engaged in combat” and “on the battlefield”, what limits can we set?

    It seems a little odd to be upset particularly because the guy who happened to die this time was technically an American.

    That’s not why I’m upset. I do think it signals a dangerous precedent that the US government will murder even those people it’s supposed to be protecting, but that’s the only relevance his nationality has for me; after all, I’m not an American citizen myself.

    I was not the person who raised this case, and had someone been supporting “signature strikes” (“Three guys with moustaches and guns – they must me al-Qaeda”) or collateral damage, or the targeting of weddings and funerals, or the many cases in which we have no idea who was targeted, or why then I would have raised equally strident objections to those. But in this case, the US government killed someone for what it claims are the bedrock of a strong democracy, and everyone goes along with it because the people he’s advocating revolution against are Americans and not British.

  • Jurgan

    We’re not very tolerant of trolls here. Get back to where you once belonged, jojo.

  • Jurgan

    I think that was a joke from Get Smart: “We’re a hate group. We hate hate. Just hate it.”

  • Jurgan

    Well done, good sir! I wish you well, and don’t let the haters get you down!

  • Jessica_R
  • Steve

    Congrats from Australia. That’s wonderful news. I wish you and your husband well.

  • SisterCoyote

    Belated congratulations! A happy and stress-free day for both of you, and a happy rest-of-your-lives together.

  • Notasaltine

    Someone just announced they are getting married. The ONLY appropriate response is to offer your congratulations. Asshole.

  • Notasaltine


  • Oh, wow! Congrats!

  • Daniel

    You know the saying “You’ve got to spend money to make a significant proportion of the population even more alienated and miserable than you’ve already made them.”