Category Archives: Politics

Undead Sexual Cliches: Harassment is an arbitrary term and accusers are anonymous

Covering two cliches about sexual harassment today. First, the complaint that, according to antifeminist Suzanne Venker, “harassment is a vague term because it’s so subjective.” This is an argument I’ve seen a lot: almost anything can be classed as harassment if a woman takes offense. It’s impossible for a man to know when he’s harassing a woman. Business owner Paula Fargo in writing about how harmful #metoo supposedly is complains cases “run the gamut from hurt feelings all the way to ‘hostile work environments'” — if there’s no physical assault we’re just dealing with a woman’s “perception you are being sexually harassed” It’s just a matter of opinion. Daphne Merkin complains about a “disturbing lack of clarity” in “sexual harassment.”

This is similar to a standard argument against prosecuting date rape: the boundary for consent is so vague and arbitrary, guys can’t tell they’re doing anything wrong. Just because a woman thinks the guy crossed a line does that make it so? But the legal boundaries aren’t that vague. Federal guidelines say harassment can include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, verbal and physical harassment “of a sexual nature” or offensive remarks about women in general. It does not include teasing, offhand comments or isolated incidents unless they become so frequent or severe it creates a “hostile or offensive work environment” or affects the victim’s career (e.g., firing them).

That’s not vague. It is partly subjective — is a given sexual advance welcome or unwelcome? — but that seems reasonable. It doesn’t mean, as Warren Farrell and others have claimed that harassment is anything a woman says it is. I’m confident that “he’s reading Mickey Spillane, a sexist author — that’s harassment!” wouldn’t fly, not that I’ve ever heard anything even remotely comparable. Admittedly some questions — is teasing is bad enough to create a hostile work environment? — could be vague and/or subjective, but that’s true of a lot of legal matters.

Were party A’s words so inflammatory they justified a physical response? Was a doctor’s error an understandable mistake or so bad as to constitute negligence?  Whether a police shooting or a stand your ground case is justified can depend on whether the shooter felt genuinely endangered or not. Was the killer acting in cold blood (first degree murder) or did they lose control and act in a rage (second degree)? So far as I know, the only place antifeminists object to subjectivity is when it comes to harassment.

Closely related are the arguments that “An equal amount of fury is directed toward actions as morally — and legally — distinct from each other as rape, harassment, rudeness, boorishness and incivility” as Lee Siegel claims. Or editor Rick MacArthur’s argument that #metoo “has had an unfortunate tendency to lump together everybody from Harvey Weinstein to the guy who looked at you funny at the lunchroom at the office cantina or who maybe sent you a suggestive message.” See, it’s so vague, any man can get into trouble!

The trouble with this argument is that nobody’s getting fired for looking at someone funny over lunch or sending a suggestive message. They are being talked about, as in the Shitty Media Men list, but that’s not the same thing. Saying (as someone in the list did) that someone sent you a creepy direct message is not getting people fired. It’s doing what women have long done, warn others in private (the list wasn’t originally meant to go public) about guys you should stay away from (“No, you don’t want a coaching session alone with Harry. Trust me.”). It may be just silly and unfair …but then again, maybe not (the link has some discussion of this). Violence predictor Gavin DeBecker has discussed that people can often pick up on Danger even if they can’t pin down why. I don’t think “looked at me funny” would be a good standard for firing anyone, but as a warning between colleagues? It might be.

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1 in 500 Americans have died of covid.

The WaPo discusses the grim statistics.

Washington state has managed its Trump Virus cases. It’s also accepting Idaho cases that state’s system is too overloaded to handle. Idaho Governor “Typhoid Brad” Little (I’m going to be using Typhoid Republican nicknames a lot for a while) is still adamant against any sort of mandates — he’s just going to wait for residents to do the right thing. Which worked out badly for one Alabama man. And the people are ending up in hospital from ivermectin poisoning. And the many people being forced to postpone surgeries.

LGM points out there are “huge numbers of basically apolitical or weakly political people who aren’t right wing zealots, but who are right wing adjacent in some way — they live in social/cultural bubbles where the Republican puke funnel is taken to be news rather than propaganda, and therefore it’s easy for them to just sort of slide into genuine vaccine “hesitancy” in the literal sense of the word. If not for the right-wing media, they might be okay. Instead, for some people, getting the vaccine feels like breaking with your community.

Which makes sense, when we have Republicans are telling them vaccines mandates are fascism. Or Erick Erickson, right-wing ass-hat, claiming it’s all a plot to whip up hate for unvaccinated Republicans. Or that Christian conservatives are incorporating vaccine and mask opposition into their Christianity (one anti-vax pastor also thinks math is nonsense).

We’ve always had vaccine mandates in America. One worry is that while Republicans are focused on covid, it won’t stop there. After all, right-wing anti-vaxxing goes back before Trump, and not just on the fringes. Of course, when President Obama said vaccines were good, a lot of Republicans denounced them. Tucker Carlson says the goal of mandatory military vaccination “is to identify the sincere Christians in the ranks, the free thinkers, the men with high testosterone levels, and anyone else who doesn’t love Joe Biden and make them leave immediately.” Breitbart claims that liberals are aggressively pro-vaccine and mocking anti-vaxxers because they want right-wingers to reject it and die … hmm, maybe taking it would be the ultimate way to own the libs?

It says a lot about the right that that’s the best rationale Breitbart can offer. As Roy Edroso points out, it’s bullshit (conservatives had to refuse the vaccine before they got mocked) — and he’s probably right it’s less about encouraging vaccination than giving readers a new reason to hate liberals.

Though it’s not just politics that’s the problem — a lot of online wellness influencers are anti-vax.

It’s hell on the medical personnel dealing with this: “I’m fatigued because I’m working more than ever, but more people don’t have to die,” Erickson told Medscape Medical News. “It’s been very hard physically, mentally, emotionally.” It’s certainly a good thing that at least one doctor spewing misinformation has lost his license.

LGM sums up the Republican position: “People should be free to acquire and transmit to others a deadly and extremely communicable virus, that is causing a catastrophic pandemic, even though this catastrophe could be avoided completely if people chose to take a free and safe vaccine. Furthermore, it’s morally wrong for the government to engage in even the mildest coercion to nudge people toward getting vaccinated, because such coercion interferes with individual liberty, which is always the highest social value in every circumstance.”

Likewise,  “That Reeves would dismiss these deaths as bad “timing” says plenty about what Republican governors value — optics over lives.”

Or as John Scalzi says, “They’re killing their own people because of politics. Not anyone else. Not any more. And they’ll keep doing it. For as long as it takes. Because this is how they think they will win.”

 

 

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Undead Sexist Cliche: Women are so happy when men dominate them

Much like the long tradition of pretending slaves loooved them some shackles and white dominance (and the same for Jim Crow), there’s a tradition of insisting that women really, really want men to be the boss of them.

Psychologist Leonard Sax, for example, claimed back in 2008 that all feminism’s denial of innate gender differences has accomplished is to create “a horde of girls who adore the traditional male and female roles and relationships in the ‘Twilight’ saga.” Women enjoy Twilight, ergo they must crave a strong, dominant man to control them like Edward controls Bella. Feminism has failed, women are happier under men’s thumbs. Molly Hemingway of The Federalist similarly claimed (though I don’t have a handy link) that the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey proves women want to let men be the boss — maybe they should try for that instead of aspiring to the prestige of an executive position (said by the online magazine’s editor in chief — though given the level of bullshit they churn out, Hemingway has successfully avoided acquiring any prestige).

After Republican Paul Ryan briefly sported a beard, Nicole Russell at The Federalist (again) gushed how he “exuded manliness” and women need and crave manly men to support the emotional roller-coaster of the female mind. Guys who won’t take charge of their women are as cruel to them as men who discriminate against women!

A number of the evangelicals quoted in Jesus and John Wayne say the same thing. Male supremacist Edwin Louise Cole, for example, argued back in the 1980s that women were begging for men to lead them; when men dominated, women would want them more. Evangelical Gordon Dalbey argued that women were “crying out” for men to become all male and dominant so that women could regain their submissive, “authentic femininity.” John Piper, one of the misogynist complementarians, claims man’s nature is to protect women and “women, at their deepest and most honest selves, give profound assent to this noble impulse.”

This is one of those lipstick-on-a-pig rationalizations. At some level, they may have just enough awareness of their own bullshit that they need to reassure themselves they’re making women happy. Or they’re simply using this as a cover for how misogynistic they are — no, women want to live in a Handmaid’s Tale dystopia! It fits with the claim they’ve been making since Phyliss Schlafly was the vanguard of antifeminism, that the reason women aren’t happy to stay home is because feminists brainwashed them with their dark Jedi mind tricks.

Schlafly’s niece Suzanne Venker, for example, claims women have been “indoctrinated by feminists” who “robbed you of what you naturally want: to be a wife, a mother, homebound.” Of course, as a professional pundit, Venker isn’t homebound and clearly doesn’t want to be, but that’s a typical “do as I say, not as I do” attitude for professional female antifeminists. And it fits with the idea that women year for someone to boss them around; it should be men, but instead it’s those evil feminists.

This ignores that many women of the 1950s happily left those supposedly ideal marriages when easy divorce became an option, or renegotiated the terms (getting jobs outside the home, say). They weren’t brainwashed by Sith feminism; they knew what they were doing. Like other undead sexist cliches, claims women yearn for male dominance are a pile of codswallop.

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Peace and prosperity are the point (a late 9/11 post)

“For all the nostalgia for the sense of national unity in the 9/11 aftermath, I remember feeling rubbed the wrong way by one specific variant of triumphalism: the idea that post Cold War we’d grown soft and frivolous and now we’d at least toughen up and deal with reality. [But] Peace and prosperity are the point of all the policy, right? The goal? Give me a soft society doing yoga and pottery and starting businesses and going on nice vacations over a tough, purpose-minded society where everyone is joining the military to fight a big foreign threat. The latter is necessary at times but it’s hardly to be desired for itself.” — from Lawyers, Guns and Money.

As Corey Robin documents in Remembrance of Empires Past (which I’ve blogged about before), that was a controversial view back when 9/11 hit. Pundit Frank Rich declared the attack “has awakened us from a frivolous if not decadent decade-long dream” and David Brooks celebrated that “it is no longer possible to live so comfortably in one’s own private paradise.” None of this sitting around on our butts enjoying life, nosirree! We’d be forced to fight! To achieve greatness! No more living comfortably … unless you were multimillionaire David Brooks, whose sacrifice to the war effort was devoting columns to how embarrassed liberals would be for criticizing W’s stunning success rebuilding Iraq (when he later wrote about how our leaders misjudged Iraq, he somehow forgot to mention his own errors). He remains enthusiastic about other people fighting wars while he cheers them on.

The belief (as John Stuart Mill put it “that savage life is preferable to civilized; that the work of civilization should as far as possible be undone” is not a new one. Nor is the belief of countless rich conservatives that working minimum wage jobs to support yourself is a proud and noble endeavor. That doesn’t make these views any more palatable or sensible. It’s true that someone who can work 40 hours a week, then chill in front of the TV knowing their bills are paid (during the Clinton years a lot more people could live that way) may never be driven to high achievement. But while someone who has to work 60 hour s a week to keep a roof over their kids’ head may be struggling harder and showing greater self-sacrifice, their life is not preferable.

And while I have respect for people who serve honorably in the military, coming home from Afghanistan with PTSD or a missing limb from combat is not preferable either. Certainly not compared to not getting involved in wars when it’s not necessary. Some conservatives wail that we’re not all stoic like the Donner Party, but you know what? Avoiding situations where people have to resort to cannibalism is preferable. If that takes government intervention, I’m okay with that.

It’s possible that people who have it easy will never achieve greatness, but struggling just to survive isn’t achieving greatness either. I’ve done a small bit of that and it’s not pleasant. Living more comfortably actually makes it easier to achieve: less stress, more time, greater mental resources.  It’s also possible to make sacrifices and contribute to the public good even in time of peace and prosperity. Donate to charity. Run a food bank. Give blood. Volunteer at an animal shelter. These are also easier to do when you have time and money.

There’s a line in the film Things to Come to the effect that “our revolution didn’t abolish danger or death, it simply made danger and death worthwhile!” That’s what people like Brooks and countless others who shit on peace and prosperity (for the common throng, that is — they ain’t giving up their own) don’t get. The challenge and struggle of launching a business, painting a masterpiece, writing a blockbuster investigative journalism piece, trying to change public policy, those mean something. The challenge and struggle just to put bread on the table? That’s necessary, but it’s not a desirable way to live. It’s depressing that some people think otherwise.

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Vaclav Havel and the Trump Virus

Reading the news this week puts me in mind again of Vaclav Havel’s essay “The Power of the Powerless” and how modern tyrants claim “the center of power is identical with the center of truth,” — it’s not simply that they’ve seized power, it’s righteous and just that they’re in charge.

I think that explains some of the deranged pushback against getting vaccinated. They talk about “choice” but obviously a lot of them are seething that anyone is making a different choice than they are. Harassing and threatening healthcare workers to prevent vaccinations. Coughing on people in stores. Mocking a kid for discussing his grandmother’s death from covid. Their god king, The Former Guy, said the virus wasn’t a big deal. His toady, Sen. Ted Cruz, said if Biden won, Democrats would immediately end all pandemic precautions. The center of power — remember, a lot of Republicans have chosen to believe that Trump is still president — has spoken. By refusing to conform, we dissent from Republican orthodoxy, and their fragile fee-fees can’t stand dissent, any more than they tolerate criticism. And as Paul Campos says, if they question any one part of the truth, their whole belief system could collapse.

So at the local level, even with school cases rising, they freak out at efforts to change that. A group of anti-maskers drove one San Diego-area school board out of its meeting, then appointed themselves the new board. One father compares the school’s directive to keep his kid in quarantine for a few days with a Gestapo order and brought zip ties to the school to make a citizen’s arrest of the principal (didn’t happen, fortunately). Dude, if this were Nazi Germany you’d face a shit-ton worse for challenging the authorities.

QAnon cultists are pressuring hospitals give Trump Virus patients ivermectin (feed stores are now selling out of it) instead of valid medical treatments. And we have predators like “Typhoid Ron” DeSantis ignoring Florida’s rising number of cases and trying to hide the numbers. Idaho gubernatorial candidate Janice McGeachin claiming vaccines are lethal. Or Rand Paul who wants Dr. Fauci in jail. Dave Daubenmire insists he hasn’t caught Covid, he’s been sickened by electrical energy from vaccinated people. Joe Rogan, who came down with Covid after performing stand-up shows in Florida, but still won’t piss off his audience by accepting science. Given his past claims that vaccine passports lead to dictatorship, we can assume his audience doesn’t want to hear “I was wrong, everyone should get vaccinated.”

We’ve had 800,000 excess deaths since February but the Republican stance remains the same, as Rebecca Solnit says: “some have the right to determine the truth more than others, and facts, science, history are likewise fetters to be shaken loose in pursuit of exactly your very own favorite version of reality, which you enforce through dominance, including outright violence.”

It doesn’t help, as LGM says, that a lot of media still won’t say outright that the real, if not the only issue, is the antivaxxers. If we’re stuck figuring out the endgame, it’s because too many people won’t get vaccinated. That’s what leads to the surge in cases (including among the vaccinated) which is why military doctors are having to help out. Eric Boehlert suggests after years of Trump safaris — talking to white, working-class Republicans about why those simple, plain-spoken Americans supported The Former Guy — reporters are having trouble seeing them as politically paranoid, anti-rational extremists (none of which ever came out during those safaris).

So the end result is we’re starting to debate whether it’s justifiable for hospitals to turn away the unvaxxed when space is tight (I don’t think the often-used comparison to smokers is justified  — smoking is an addiction, staying unvaccinated isn’t. And let’s face it, beds in ICUs are not currently unavailable because of too many smokers in hospital for cancer). And hospitals going short-staffed because of staff refusing vaccine mandates.

I think a harder line is definitely good, such as Biden now mandating vaccination for all federal workers and many employees outside the government. And increasing fines on airplane travelers who don’t wear masks. Unsurprisingly, Republicans who feel perfectly entitled to tell private businesses No Vaccine Requirements are furious that Biden dares tell private businesses what to do (I’ve heard speculation a lot of business owners will be thrilled — now they have an excuse to push vaccinations).

That said, Medscape concludes the way to change vaccine-hesitant minds is less confrontation, more persuasion — even allowing them to do it discreetly so their anti-vax peers won’t know (which is insane, but if it gets results, hey).

We should have been largely back to pre-pandemic normal by now. It does not bode well for this country that we aren’t getting close.

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The center cannot hold … and the rest of it ain’t looking so good

“The point is, if you wanted to stop evictions, you could do it, with legally appropriated money. In theory.” But in practice, even with lots of money available and a simple method of distribution — show up at eviction hearings, pay the debt — we can’t make it happen.

The same is true, Ezra Klein says about the humanitarian case for war: if we want to improve the lives of women, or medical care or anything else in the developing world, we have the money, the resources and the skills to do “far more good and less harm.” But as LGM says, that doesn’t generate money for military contractors, or satisfy the chickenhawks who glory in fighting a war from their living room.

Part of it is that we have a deranged, anti-American, white-supremacist, male-supremacist party that’s wildly unpopular — it’s won the popular vote once in a presidential election this century — but due to the structure of our government is often able to grind government to the halt. They’ve got right-wing judges into as many courts as possible. They’re coming for city councils and school boards. And election officials. And more city councils. And more school boards. And it’s only going to get worse because there’s enough extremists to oust anyone who doesn’t play ball. And nobody has the spine to step back — they’ll punish Liz Cheney for questioning Trump but they won’t say boo to Madison Cawthorn. Another example of spinelessness is that despite criminalizing abortion in Texas, they’re trying to pretend it’s nothing of the sort.

And it’s clear they’ll impeach a Democratic president for any reason, at any time they think they can get away with it.

We have liars who claim concentration camps for the oppressed, abused unvaccinated are inevitable. Maybe he believes it; maybe he’s catering to the people who do. Either way, it makes things worse. So do scam artist hatemongers like Mat Staver who claims vaccine mandates cause suicide, while encouraging people to give him money to Fight The Man.

Then we have “Typhoid Ron” DeSantis whose policies have made the Trump Virus much worse in Florida than necessary. Those extra deaths, he says “are a terrible thing … what we’re trying to do is say, ‘OK, what was not being done? Where was the gap?’ And the biggest gap was in the early treatment.” Not, of course, his efforts to prevent businesses and school boards from requiring masks or vaccine mandates.

Not that the right-wing public is any better — attacking breast cancer patients over a clinic’s mandatory mask policy, for instance. They pretend their issue is choice, but they’re willing to harass and intimidate medical workers so other people can’t make a choie they disagree with.

The right-wing hatemongers are getting louder. I don’t think Josh Bernstein has much political clout, but calling on the trucking industry to starve Democratic-majority areas until Biden resigns is still alarming rhetoric.

“In late July, anti-vax conspiracy theorist Chris McDonald asked for prayers for his father, who had contracted COVID-19. Two weeks later, he announced that his father had died. Last night, McDonald said COVID-19 vaccines are a plot to commit “genocide” and urged everyone to refuse to take them.” Right-Wing Watch

The media are listening to the national-security “experts” who, Ross Douthat says, “managed to build nothing in the political or military spheres that could survive for even a season without further American cash and military supervision”  — and unsurprisingly hate that Biden pulled us out (his fault, not theirs!). It’s slightly horrifying I agree with not only Douthat but Ann Coulter about this. I’m much less surprised I agree with this LGM post on the topic.

And let’s not forget, the America-Hating Party attempted a coup earlier this year. And they’re still nervous about their own leaders involvement — House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is threatening telecoms that turn over member phone records from Jan. 6 to the investigating committee. I do find some amusement that 17 of the seditionists were represented by an anti-vax attorney who’s now come down with covid. Or that Rand Paul is pretending nobody’s studied ivermectin as a covid cure because they hate Trump (here’s a look at how ivermectin became an obsession). And if we criticize them and they get upset, we’re the special snowflakes.

A school board in Wisconsin has refused a free lunch program that’s free to the district too. They’re claiming that making free lunches available will make children spoiled.

Then there’s sports.

Then there’s lawyers.

 

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Links about UFOs, nature and science

A physicist argues we shouldn’t try to contact alien life — who knows what the reaction will be (see, for example, Battleship)? And if some astrophysicist or amateur scientist makes contact, what’s to stop them presenting themselves as speaking for the human race?

A journalist argues that we should accept UFOs are real, physical things (as opposed to “real but just a trick of the light”), though not necessarily spaceships.

Here’s a lost of America’s more prominent UFO sightings. And some naval aviators say they see them every day. A fair number of officials in DC are believers, or at least interested enough to push for investigations. But a recent documentary claims the evidence for UFOs is just a government psy-op. A federal report comes to no definite conclusions about UFOs, but does suggest they are physical  objects. But both skeptics and believers agree that talking about it openly is a good thing.

Some scientists say the art of creating crop circles is worthy of serious study, but the UFO association makes that hard.

Are conflicts over “trash fish” surrogates for conflicts over Native American rights?

Speaking of right, here’s how race, oyster fishing and pollution intersect.

Argentinian developers turned wetlands into an upscale gated community. The capybara are fighting back.

The power of seaweed to fight global warming.

Dubai promised to plan one million trees. The reality is less impressive.

Is it sustainable farming if nobody can afford the food?

San Francisco International Airport is saving a snake from extinction.

Beavers have returned to Scotland.

I’ve written before about the problems of relying on algorithms to make judgment calls (also see here). The AP says ShotSpotter software, designed to identify and locate gunshots, is another example: not always accurate, the company won’t let anyone analyze its programs and the techs are willing to rewrite reports if police say the gunshot happened somewhere else.

Well, that’s just the best new (he said sarcastically). The first responders of 9/11 may be slipping into dementia at a much accelerated rate due to the chemicals they were exposed to. But until there’s hard confirmation via research, the responders’ health fund won’t cover it.

#SFWApro. Cover by Gene Colan (t) and Curt Swan (b). All rights to images remain with current holders.

 

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“I’m antifa but I vote the Nazi party ticket!” WTF?

According to 538, a recent survey shows that Generation Z is socially liberal but votes Republican at roughly the same percentage as older generations. The article at the link interviews guys who are variously pro-choice, pro-gay marriage and believe in climate change but they all voted for Trump in 2020.

Why? They disagree with Democrats on immigration and race and they strongly disagree with them on the economy. Z Republican voters oppose a minimum wage hike, oppose higher taxes on the rich and oppose cutting taxes on people making $100,000 or less (I presume it’s the myth that they’re lucky duckies who already freeload with their low tax burden). They object to cancel culture and think “we should end the practice of shaming people who say things that aren’t politically correct.”

I think 538’s use of “socially liberal” is doing a lot of work here. The only social issues shown on which a majority skew liberal are “invest in technology to protect the environment” (a majority opposes caps on carbon emissions, however), legalizing pot and gay rights. Other than abortion there’s no discussion of women’s issues — how do they feel about sexual harassment? Or is that covered by not shaming people for political incorrectness? How about birth control? Rape culture? What about police shooting of black Americans? And do their objections to shaming people go both ways — do they object to the endless shit dumped on Hilary Clinton over the decades? To lies about gays spread by professional liar Tony Perkins? To the attacks on Kamala Harris’s sex life?

And beyond those details, if these Z-ers are voting Republican, they are not socially liberal (in fairness, they don’t claim to be — it’s the article that paints them as such). The 70 percent or so who say they support gay rights do not support gay rights. They’re voting for candidates who actively undercut gay rights, appoint anti-gay judges and would reverse the Obergefell gay marriage decision if they found a way (hell, they’d overrule Lawrence, the case that said gay sex is legal, if they could). To paraphrase John Scalzi anyone who votes Republican is willing to accept anti-gay policies, even if they don’t support them.

As Thomas Jefferson once put it, “it is in our lives, and not from our words, that our religion must be read.” The religion I read is not socially liberal at all.

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The fruit of a poisonous tree

According to the book of Matthew, “a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” So judging by the last chapter of JESUS AND JOHN WAYNE: How White Evangelicals Corrupted A Faith and Fractured a Nation by Kristin Kobes Du Mez, the fruit of right-wing Christian complementarianism shows the doctrine is ultimately vile.

Du Mez shows that gender was a major problem for 20th century evangelical Christians. All this church talk about being nice, being good, being compassionate, not solving problems with violence — it’s so damn unmanly! This was not a unique problem — mainstream America worried about a decline in masculinity too — but it’s one American evangelical churches have been grappling with for a long time.

The solution was to hold up John Wayne as a role model for the kind of manly men American Christians should be, and to emphasize female submission  — God made men to be the boss, women should submit, stay home and pop out Christian babies. In a kind of bizarro-intersectionality this became wrapped up with other things conservative evangelicals cared about, such as fighting communism and keeping black American down. Strong families would help us hold the line against Communism. Keeping women in gilded cages was held up in glowing contrast to Communism which gave lip service to women’s equality. Because evangelicals had developed their own media ecosystem and sales channels, books and radio programs spread these ideas through their community. Some, such as Marabel Morgan’s The Total Woman, broke through into the mainstream.

As Beth Allison Barr has written, this led to evangelicals disregarding or ignoring all the parts of the Bible that made this inconvenient, like the references to Junia (female apostle) and Phoebe (deacon) as they don’t fit the right-wing view  that women having authority over men, or teaching to them is against the Bible. As feminism became a mainstream stance, the right-wing response was to cling more fiercely to their views, insisting absolute female subordination was a Biblical stance. They also began insisting that Jesus was not in any way, shape or form a nice, gentle man — he was a total badass! He didn’t want his followers turning the the cheek, he wanted them to bust heads and take names!

I will pause here and note that in my own Christian view Jesus does say (“I come not to bring peace but the sword”) and do things (cleaning the money-changers from the temple) that are not meek and mild. But he says and does a great many things that are antithetical to the macho badass interpretation, from compassion for outcasts, sinners and the sick to emphasizing the importance of love, forgiveness and charity. Trying to fit them into a cohesive worldview is difficult  — ignoring the parts you don’t like isn’t even trying (admittedly that’s a long Christian tradition too).

So in the 21st century we end up with right-wing evangelicals loudly and gloriously enthused by waging endless war in the Middle East without any of the moral qualms past Christian generations have had about war and ethics. In most cases (some were combat veterans) they were classic chickenhawks, rooting for other men to do the fighting (women, of course had no business in the military in their eyes). And rooting for Trump as precisely the kind of macho thug they wanted to be, as well as the practical advantages of rooting for someone who’d deliver on policies they liked.

In the last chapter, Du Mez looks at the level of sexual harassment, rape and assault in complementarian churches, and this is the really poisonous fruit. Astonishingly, a number of people who preach absolute male domination and absolute female submission (including in sex — some of them are very big on wives’ obligation to have lots of sex with their husbands, even if the women don’t feel like it)) turn out to be men who exploit male domination and female submission. And many who don’t abuse or assault women themselves back other clergy or members of their own church who do. They talk a good game about how men must protect women, but when a man fails in his duty the first response is not to stop him but to make sure women stay obedient.

Which as Fred Clark says, raises the question of Matthew: if the fruit is toxic, can we trust the tree? I’m not a complementarian, but if I was, would it be possible for me to separate the teachings of Douglas Wilson or John Piper from their misogyny? Or would absorbing their writing mingle them both? And what does it say to survivors if we hold up sexual predators as wise men of god who should be listened to?

The fruit is bad. I think the tree is too.

#SFWApro. Cover by Jared Oriel, all rights to image remain with current holder.

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The mills of God grind slowly …

But eventually, once in a while, horrible people get thoroughly ground under. So let’s have some schadenfraude, shall we?

Anti-Muslim bigot Laura Loomer sued the Muslim-rights group CAIR for supposedly conspiring to get her off Twitter. A judge threw out her case and charged her $125,000 for CAIR’s legal fees.

The first defendant in the kidnap plot against Mich. Governor Gretchen Whitmer gets six years — a low sentence because he sang like a canary.

An E/R doctor charged parents $50 to write medical-exemption letters to schools with mask mandates. He’s been fired.

Leash the kraken! A Michigan judge has slapped Sidney Powell, Lin Wood and other Stop The Nonexistent Steal attorneys with legal fees, requirements to attend law classes and requests the relevant bar associations discipline them. It’s not the only court giving The Former Guy’s attorneys their comeuppance.

A thirtysomething woman in Pennsylvania spat on a produce display, coughed and yelled that she had the Trump Virus. She’s getting a year in jail.

Republican scam artists Jacob Wuhl and Jack Burkman have been fined $5 million for making illegal robocalls to discourage voting (mail-in ballots will be tracked for mandatory vaccinations!).

Texas now has a website where you can report someone for trying to get an abortion or helping someone get an abortion (both illegal under Texas’ new forced-birther law). People are spamming the site big-time with porn and memes. It doesn’t eliminate the problems of this ugly law, but I’ll celebrate what small blows we can strike.

Lawsuits against vaccine mandates keep failing.

Build The Wall, an effort to crowdsource The Former Guy’s “big beautiful wall,” has been fighting a lawsuit for a year. And guess what, in all that time they haven’t paid their lawyers (I presume their in-house counsel, Trumpite slime Kris Kobach, gets his cut). So now the lawyers want the court to let them walk away, leaving Save The Wall only 30 days to find new attorneys (“Finding a lawyer I don’t think is a big problem. I think finding a lawyer who is willing to risk not getting paid is probably the issue here,” Crane said.)

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