The whole truth and nothing but the truth

TW: opinions, lesbians, the ACLU, human rights, lawsuits, lawyers, “true marriage” supporters, Catholics, family-owned businesses, conservatives, white upper-middle class liberals, married lesbians, money, Vermont, weddings, wedding receptions, Americans, modern journalism.

So there’s this lawsuit that a lesbian couple and the ACLU and the Vermont Human Rights Commission brought against an inn in Vermont whose owners apparently refused to host a wedding reception for the pair because of their (the owners) Catholic beliefs. To make a long story short, the inn’s owners agreed to settle for the amount of $30,000, of which $10,000 is going to the Vermont Human Rights Commission and $20,000 to a trust fund to be disbursed by the couple (quote from the ACLU site, excuse the borked look of the page if it looks borked — it did in my browser).

Conservatives, naturally, are disgusted. “Dear Gays, this is why people don’t like you,” comments Kathy Shaidle of Five Feet of Fury. “The price of following your conscience in Vermont is $30,000″ says Lifesite News. “Vt. government ends religious persecution of family business,” reads the first part of the headline of this article on the Alliance Defending Freedom (“for faith, for justice”) website. Basically the conservative consensus (based on those links anyway) is that once more a couple of icky gays and the bullies at the ACLU and in the godhating marriage-destroying liberal government of Vermont have attacked one of the conservative movement’s favorite big-eyed puppies: a “mom-and-pop” Christian-family-owned-and-run business.

For some reason, though, I felt dissatisfied, like some part of this story wasn’t being told. $30,000 isn’t chump change, and if the business really was a tiny mom-and-pop that amount of money could ruin them. The narrative, of course, is that the ACLU and their homosexual lackeys are bullies who Don’t Care, and who want to destroy all businesses anyway because Communism and it’s all part of a Plot to turn the country into a giant re-education camp where heterosexual marriage will be outlawed and children will be raised in dormitories to be loyal drones of the State. Be that as it may, the ACLU might have huge coffers, but they probably don’t want to waste time going after every pipsqueak homophobe in the land without good reason. There is such a thing as conservation of resources. Also, despite claims to the contrary, they’re just as sensitive to bad publicity as any other large activist organization.

What I’m saying is they had to have some reason stronger than the humiliation of a couple of lesbians to back them up, and to bring in the Vermont Human Rights Commission. (Which, by the way, is a real government body, not just some self-assembled group of local social justice warriors.) Private organizations are one thing, but state bodies are supported by taxes, and they can’t just go do whatever they feel like, despite what anti-government libertarians et al like to believe. In the government every penny has to be accounted for. That’s why it’s such a pain in the ass getting anyone in the government to do anything. It’s not like they can just write a check. Don’t you remember all those scenes in The X-Files with Mulder getting bitched out for driving an FBI car across the country to chase another alien space ship? Have you ever had to fill out an expense account at your job? What about a government job?

Anyway, something about this “tiny Christian family business attacked by  gay SPECTRE” didn’t satisfy me. I wanted to know what really went on between the couple and the inn and why it resulted in a lawsuit and settlement instead of a “fuck them” and an unfavorable review on Yelp. I decided to look things up. A-googling I went. The first thing I found was the ACLU article I linked above, but it was too painful to read due to the page not displaying properly in my browser for some reason.* So finally I found this in an article on the Chicago Tribune website:

The Vermont Fair Housing and Public Accommodations Act prohibits public accommodations from denying goods and services based on customers’ sexual orientation.

The law applies to inns, restaurants, schools, stores and other businesses that serve the general public. Exceptions are made for religious organizations and small inns with five or fewer rooms.

OH. And here is the description of the Wildflower Inn, from the same article:

The 24-room, dog-friendly Wildflower Inn, which sits on 570 acres of picturesque terrain, promotes itself on its website as an ideal spot for romantic getaways, among other things.

Bolds added by me. Please see the previous quote where it says the exceptions are, among other things, “small inns with five or fewer rooms.” The Wildflower Inn might be a family-owned business, and it might not be large, but it’s got almost five times the amount of rooms that would allow them to kick out the gays. But that’s not really my point — there’s the fact that there was already a law in Vermont prohibiting the inn for discriminating against lesbians or anyone else who didn’t follow Catholic marriage practices, and the inn’s owners knew it, and that’s why they settled.

Now you might think this anti-discrimination law is unfair, or ungodly, or stupid, or unnecessary. You might also think that gays shouldn’t go around suing people who discriminate against them even if there are laws supporting their lawsuit because it’s frivolous, a waste of the court’s time, makes people dislike gays even more, is petty, and so on. But that’s another argument for another day. As long as this law is on the books, businesses have to follow it. They can, of course, consciously resist, but it doesn’t seem as if the owners of the inn were interested in doing so, or else they wouldn’t have settled. It could be they decided to settle knowing that the Christian conservative part of the internet would rally to their defense anyway with the predictable “ACLU gay bullies!” cry, but that I don’t know. I do know that I was not satisfied that I was getting the whole story, and I think I can see why. The situation looks less like a tiny Christian ma-and-pa getting devoured by unreasoning gay lions and more like a successful business paying the price for screwing up. They have my sympathies, but so do the ladies who got treated badly. (If you don’t think they got treated badly, you try putting yourself in the shoes of someone getting refused service they’re willing to pay for because of what they are. Sound familiar?)

*Update: here’s a link to another, more detailed article on the situation on ACLU.org that also displays properly in Chrome. If what is in this article is true, the inn’s behavior towards the couple and other non-traditional couples as well was even more douchebaggy than I thought. Sample: “It turns out Wildflower Inn had a policy of not responding to initial inquiries or phone calls about wedding receptions if it was clear that the reception would be for a same-sex couple. In other cases, the owners of Wildflower Inn admitted they would discourage same-sex couples from using the facilities by telling those couples that hosting the reception would violate their religious beliefs.” Not cool, innfolk.

Why should the big boys get all the fun: my political platform

First I’ll add a disclaimer: this is not a platform for me to run under. Oh no, if it were up to me there would be no “running” for office, just a simple coup with the help of my minions and the installation of me as Supreme Dictatrix For Life. Then the beheadings would begin, starting with—

But let me focus. Here’s a few suggestions I have for a candidate to really make some good and lasting change in this country and the world. Let’s face it, we won’t get anything substantial from any member of the Big Two, what are those guys, well one is blue and one is red… anyway, it’s all status-quo-maintenance from your standard US presidential candidate. I’m quite frankly bored with the way my country has been going, trying to be a little liberal for a while, then getting a hangnail or something and going somewhat conservative, and then when we calm down we try a few tiny liberal gestures, but nothing ever really changes and for the rest of the world it must be like having an extremely obese, narcissistic, lazy person sitting on your lap. What we really need to do, of course, is decide if we’re going all-out with the Evil Supervillain part or if we’re going to get our act together and start doing the right thing. Unfortunately we’ve picked the third option: do everything evil supervillains do (oppress foreign nations, wage wars because we’re irritated or want stuff, intimidated opponents with our mega-death weapons, inflict hordes of tourists and college students on innocent nations, smoke all the best weed, etc.) without admitting it. Instead we’ve pretended we’re really Good Guys and all the stuff I listed above we’re doing for Freedom, or some bullshit. We don’t really believe it, everyone else can tell, and it pisses people off. If we’d at least have some fun — just go ahead and go Joker, America! — at least we’d entertain people. Instead we sit around moaning about how awful our life is and then we swipe all the good cheese off the buffet table before anyone can get to it leaving only that bright orange “sharp cheddar” that tastes like feet.

I seem to have gotten a bit lost. Anyway, I would vote for a candidate, even a white male one, who said they would do the following things once in office:

  1. Withdraw all US military personnel home and close all foreign bases, ending all wars we’re waging as well. That shit is expensive, we’re in a recession, we can’t afford any of this shit, and let’s face it, no one wants our military in their country. World War 2 is OVER. The Cold War is OVER. Time to put our toys away and go home. (Thought I’d get this one out for the screechers right away. Guys, if you hate this, you won’t like anything else I write here, so you might as well quit reading now and go to the DailyMail website or wherever it is you like to hang out. Isn’t Rush Limbaugh on? He’s always on somewhere. Go. Shoo.)
  2. Our border problem and illegal immigrant problem with Mexico will never be fixed the way we’re going now. Mr. and Ms. Richie from Richville aren’t going to mow their own lawns, and their neighbors’ high school kids haven’t lifted anything heavier than a laptop bag with an iPad in it since they were five years old. So I have a suggestion: semi-open borders, worker passes, dual citizenship, or even no border and a joint Mexican-American-run territory. Why not? If America is so fragile that the idea of Juan Martinez of Tijuana blowing leaves off a sidewalk in San Diego will destroy it, we deserve to be destroyed. Also, there is something a lot of people don’t know: there are native tribes whose lands extend over the border into both countries, and they have a hell of a time getting together because of white bigots. Let’s not stand in their way. I thought America was all about Family. (Ha ha yeah I know.)
  3. Gay marriage: approve it. Some of you who’ve read me for a while know I don’t actually care about gay marriage, but that’s because I don’t care about marriage. I’ve never wanted to be married and I have successfully avoided that horrid thing. I also object to the reification of “marriage” as some sort of Thing, instead of letting grown adults get together with each other however they want. That being said, it’s already a Thing that is considered something fully approved humans should be allowed to do. It’s time we stopped telling gays they aren’t fully approved humans. (Also, if this happens to “destroy the institution of marriage” the way we’re always being warned about, good. Marriage as it exists in the modern consciousness is a monster that needs to be attacked with any weapon at our disposal. Go!)
  4. By the way, what should we do with all that money we saved from closing our overseas military bases. Gosh, I don’t know, maybe we could finally have that universal health care plan and we could even afford to keep old people alive instead of driving them off into the wilderness to be eaten by wolves. (Whatever we do, we must make sure the Republicans don’t get their hands on it. They’ll spend it all on ugly golf pants and a gold statue of Ronald Reagan. Sorry, dudes, you got your library already.)
  5. This isn’t really part of the platform per se, but any candidate who is either a) single or b) gay will get my vote. I’m tired of the ideal perfect heterosexual family-plus-children setup. I need a break from that shit. I’ll also vote for any candidate who isn’t a Christian, because I really need a break from that shit. What Would Jesus Do? He’d say “stop bringing Me into this.”

That’s just for starters. Chew on it while I go do some things. I may or may not post a followup later. And hey, if you have anything to add to this list, go ahead in comments. I’ll accept or reject them based, of course, on my own perfect and brilliant personal taste.

You’re all worthless and weak

In light of the fun message we’ve been getting from people like Missouri senate guy Todd Akins, Mike Huckabee, et al, I have a message for our Republican congressdudes which you can extend to white American guys in general but for right now, let’s focus on the GOP. It is this:

SHUT UP.

I’m serious you guys, you need to close your mouths. Do not say another word. Do not even issue a statement through some poor flunky. I’d say don’t even think but I believe that little problem has been taken care of some time ago. But just, as a (not) friendly suggestion, please

SHUT THE FUCK UP.

And that having been said, here’s my second (not) friendly piece of advice:

GO AWAY.

Yes, go away. Leave the stage. Leave public life. Cease and desist all political activity. None of you so far have displayed the governing ability of warm sand. You act like you’ve never talked to another human being in your life, except for maybe your golfing buddies. Since it’s a requisite in this fine modern democratic individualistic (cough cough cough sorry got some irony stuck in my throat) land that anyone who wants to get anywhere in politics has to be married with at least 2.5 children you must have touched a woman at some point in your lives, but you don’t seem to have ever had a conversation with one. You act like you have no idea what these mysterious uterus-having beings are like. Why should  you be allowed to be anywhere near any position of power? I’d be hesitant to hire you as Walmart greeters — instead of saying “Welcome to Walmart” you might end up blurting out “Hey, that’s not legitimate rape!” And then you’d get torn to pieces and I might get blood on my cheap Walmart pants. That would suck. (Blood on my clothes, that is; I couldn’t care less if you were fed to wolverines and it was all shown on Pay-per-view.)

So. Leave office. Leave the public eye. Leave town. Go off into the wilderness and found that Christian community of righteous-living sexist racist pigs you seem to want to live in. Just go away.

(Note: this can, as I said above, be extended to many who are not in the GOP. Plenty of white male Libertarians, Democrats, Socialists, and “independents” are like this. So this goes for you guys too. And for those of you Republicans who protest you’re not like this, well good. Run these guys out and clean up your party.)

The Butchering: I Read Changes, Book Something Or Other of the Harry Dresden Files

So there’s this popular fantasy series about a “wizard detective” called Harry Dresden. I’d never read any of the books before; I don’t particularly care for “urban fantasy” — i.e., fantasy set in the more or less modern world. While I might have loved it when I was younger (and some of the fantasy I read in my teens and twenties had elements of what is now a fixed subgenre, namely magical things happening in the “real” world), now it strikes me as a subgenre suited for children and adults who never grew out of the childish desire to have magical things happen while never having to leave the comfort and safety of their bedrooms. You know, like wanting a tame dragon to be your pet, or a handsome rich vampire to marry you and settle down with you in a nicer neighborhood in your home town. But anyway, I was given the chance to read one of the books of this series, called Changes. I’m a couple chapters in, and frankly already I’m bored.

I’m also pissed off. Jim Butcher is an American dude, you can tell by the way the only thing his protagonist seems to care about is the fact that his ex-girlfriend didn’t tell him he had a daughter until said daughter was kidnapped by some of his enemies. Oh yes, the plot: Harry the Wizard gets a phone call (because despite the effects of his wizardly powers on computers, somehow he can get phone calls without the things fritzing — oh yes he talks about “receivers” and “the hook” but those old-fashioned things had electrical parts and computer bits in them since the 70s, and this story is not set in the 70s). Anyway he gets a phone call from his ex, who left him for Tragic Reasons (tl;dr: she was half-vamped by an enemy of his, and she’s okay only as long as she doesn’t drink any more blood, so she ran away south of the border so as not to be tempted to drink her boyfriend’s blood, and also to become a vampire fighter), and she tells him they had a daughter and the daughter’s been kidnapped by his vampire enemies. Anyway, you can tell that Butcher is an American male because he has his hero spend precious thinky time moaning about how awful it is he was never told about this daughter, even though as his ex has to point out (because hurt male ego and reason can’t share space in Harry’s head) they are both involved in dangerous evil-creature fighting which leaves no time to take care of a kid, so she had the kid fostered by a “normal” family. I will point out I can understand his ire but the question of just what can two vampire fighters with dangerous enemies do with a kid is left sort of hanging. I mean even if they retired until the child was grown, they’d always have to be in hiding… I dunno.

This fucking thing is longer than the Silmarillion so I’m just going put the rest under a more tag. You have been warned:

Continue reading

100 Ways To Raise My Blood Pressure

A site called “A Circle of Christian Women” has a list of “100 Ways to Reduce Stress.” Let’s take a look at this thing:

1. Get Enough Sleep
2. Wake up 15 minutes early.

Uh. Doesn’t one contradict the other? And why should the woman get up fifteen minutes early? Since this is a “Christian” woman site I’m going to assume the focus is on married women, so why can’t hubby get up early? Oh haha what am I saying, of course wifey has to get up early to prepare everything for everyone else.

3. Prepare for the morning the night before.
4. Avoid tight-fitting clothes.

Sensible. Okay.

5. Don’t rely on your memory.

Um, what. That’s all they say; you really need to qualify a statement like that with some explanation and tips, like “stress can make us forget things; keep a to-do list handy just in case.” Or else it sounds like you’re saying “you flighty woman, you know you can’t remember shit and it gets you all stressed out. Chillax and ask your husband!”

6. Practice preventative maintenance.

O-kay, though they don’t say of what — car, house, you? I’m thinking they’re referring to health, because treating our bodies like cars that need regular oil changes is so American. (Stay tuned, I’ll have more to say on that subject.)

7. Make duplicate keys and store them where you can get to them.

Sensible, but who doesn’t do that. Oh I forgot — “women are so flighty and silly they need to be told to make duplicate keys.”

8. Say “no” more often.
9. Set priorities in your life.
10. Avoid negative people.
11. Use your time wisely.
12. Simplify everything you can.

I’d like to know who the Christian woman, who is supposed to devote her life to family and God, is allowed to say “no” to. Besides Satan of course. I’m going to assume this list is designed for everyday normal stress, not “Satan is here and he wants your soul” stress. So, who can the average Christian woman, who is supposed to be agreeable, say “no” to? Her kids, I guess, when they want snacks between meals, to stay out past 8 PM on a school night, or to be gay, I guess. As for number 9., that’s funny. I thought proper Christian women let others (God, their husbands) set priorities for them. I guess those priorities then are “do what God and your husband say, because their commandments are one and the same.”

Sorry, I’m letting my snark show aren’t I? Okay, on to number 10- avoid negative people. Gosh. What if those people are the ones they live with? Like, say, their husband? Numbers 11 and 12 sound like my New England-bred grandmother’s “use it up/wear it out/make it do/do without” dictum. Other than that I have no real objection to them, unless it’s to point out that a Christian wife and mother is not always the one in charge of how her time is used. (Nor are any of us, but let’s focus.)

13. Make copies of important papers and store them where you’ll be able to find them.

Okay, again, who doesn’t do this? Well, lots of people actually… but again this sounds a lot like a “you silly woman” thing. And also there are “important papers” that copies of are generally useless, like things that are notarized and stamped — house deeds and so on. I don’t know what good a copy would be in case of, say, a fire, if it’s one of those documents that needs to be original to be recognized. A better suggestion would be to get a safety deposit box or fireproof safe for your important papers. Just my two cents.

14. Repair anything that doesn’t work properly.

Yeah, do it yourself. I guess. (Note: repairing some things is sometimes more expensive than just chucking the broken desk lamp and buying another one for five bucks at Walmart. YMMV.)

15. Ask for help.

American advice always has this in it, but we don’t mean it. Asking for help, as everyone knows, just reveals that you’re a useless moocher and parasite and also a loser and weak so go ahead, carry those cinder blocks from the car to the garage wall you’re fixing yourself (because your husband has a golf meeting with the pastor and your kids are ages 3, 5, and 7). Your ruined back will prove to the world that you’re a martyr to Doing It Yourself And Being Good Frontier Wife all in one.

16. Chunk down big jobs into little ones.

Carry the cinder blocks one at a time. (As long as you can get them all piled up before it’s time to make dinner.)

17. View problems as challenges.
18. Look at challenges as opportunities.

This is an American list for Americans. No one else says goofy shit like this as if it were a real thing that people believed.

19. Unclutter your life.

Leave the church, divorce your husband, dump the kids at Grandma’s… oh that’s not what you meant. Sorry, I’m untrainable.

20. Smile
21. Be prepared for rain.
22. Laugh at something.
23. Pet a dog or cat
24. Don’t try to know all the answers.
25. Look for the silver lining.
26. Say something nice to someone.
27. Teach a kid to fly a kite.
28. Walk in the rain.
29. Schedule some time each day to play.

Here it is, in a nutshell: the training American women get into being nicey-nice Miss Sunshine Happy Face at all fucking times no matter what. Turn that frown upside down! Be nice to everyone! Don’t think too many thoughts — they make frown lines! Be a giggly happy playmate! Be nice to everyone no matter how they fuck you over! Also bonus aim-her-at-a-kid, any kid: just grab some random kid off the street and teach them to fly a kite, never mind whether they want to learn to fly a kite or not, whether or not you even have access to a kite, or the outdoors. Anything but have a moment alone without some freshly-spawned human mite dependent on you. Good God.

Anyway I’m tired of copying-and-pasting. The list just goes on and on, telling women to de-stress by doing things like putting air-fresheners in their car, going to a ball game and screaming (I hate sports, so no), and the last one, my personal favorite: “stop counting things.” No really, that’s number 100 on this list. Well then.