Messy, Fractious, Contextual Relationships

August 5, 2016

The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.

Idaho is going to take a hard look at its "faith-healing" exemptions, which let parents not provide their kids with actual medical care if it conflicts with religious beliefs. Ada County Prosecutor Jean Fisher says, "I don't think the rights of the parents should so supersede the rights of a child." I don't either.

Three crisis pregnancy centers (fake abortion counseling clinics that pressure and proselytize to women) are warned by the Los Angeles City Attorney to follow the law or be fined. Nicole Knight Shine (best name ever?) at Rewired reports:

The law requires the state’s licensed pregnancy-related centers to display a brief statement with a number to call for access to free and low-cost birth control and abortion care, and for unlicensed centers to disclose that they are not medical facilities. ... All three centers referred questions to their legal counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), an Arizona-based nonprofit and frequent defender of discriminatory “religious liberty” laws.

Max Boot describes how Trump is the product of the GOP's decades-old strategy of anti-intellectualism:

If you think about Eisenhower or Nixon, they were actually incredibly worldly, sophisticated, and knowledgeable. The problem is that Donald Trump is every bit as ignorant in reality as his predecessors only pretended to be. In a way, the joke’s kind of on the Republican Party because after masquerading for decades, the Republican Party has actually become the ‘Stupid Party.’

Pope Fluffy is not so fluffy as many would like to believe, recently saying that it is "terrible" and "ideological colonization" for children to learn that choosing a different gender identity is okay. 

Ben Radford looks at the politics of vaccinations at Seeker, and notes that Clinton is the only candidate who seems to be in line with reality on the issue. 

A DC transit cop is charged with aiding ISIS, the first time this has happened with a police officer. 

A federal court throws out Alabama Chief Justice Roy "Ten Commandments" Moore's suit to be reinstated while he faces ethics charges for attempting to block same-sex marriages in the state.  

Illinois governor Bruce Rauner signs SB 1564, which makes sure that any "conscience" objections medical professionals have are not allowed to endanger a patient's health. The always-reasonable Liberty Council says the bill forces "Christian and pro-life doctors and pregnancy centers to participate in human genocide." WHO KNEW.

Mayor Anthony Silva of Stockton, California gave God the key to his city, and later was charged with playing strip poker with, and giving alcohol, to minors. "God, I'm gonna need that key back." 

Anita Khan at Guernica tells the story of Tahmid Hasib Khan, by all accounts a gentle soul who was something of a hero during the terrorist attack on a Bangladesh cafe in July, but still found himself under arrest in the Bangladesh government's roundups. Anita Khan writes:

The larger question hence becomes: while Bangladesh arrests people who may not be terrorists, is it also using these same hostages as scapegoats to pretend that it has a grip on the rising specter of extremism? 

What does a feminist look like? The President of the United States, in fact.  

Ed Yong at at Aeon takes a look at the multitudes within all of us, the trillions of microorganisms that live inside us:

Many people now see microbes as allies to be protected. Magazines regularly warn that antibiotics and sanitisers might be harming our health by destroying our microscopic support system. Slowly, the view that ‘all bacteria must be killed’ is giving ground to ‘bacteria are our friends and want to help us’. The problem is that the latter view is just as wrong as the former. We cannot simply assume that a particular microbe is ‘good’ just because it lives inside us. There’s really no such thing as a ‘good microbe’ or a ‘bad microbe’. These broad-brush terms belong in children’s stories. They are ill-suited for describing the messy, fractious, contextual relationships of the natural world. 

Quote of the Day

Edzard Ernst has a list of "signs you're being treated by a quack," and the first one is just great:

There is nothing better for enhancing a quack’s cash flow than allowing him to treat a condition that does not exist. Many alternative practitioners have made a true cult of this handy option. Go to a chiropractor and you will, in all likelihood, receive a diagnosis of ‘subluxation’; consult a practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine and you might be diagnosed as suffering from ‘chi deficiency’; see a homeopath and he might tell you that your ‘vital force’ needs boosting.

The beauty of a non-existing diagnosis is that the practitioner can treat it, and treat it, and treat it… until the client has run out of money or patience. Just before this point, however, the practitioner would proudly inform you that ‘you are completely healthy now’. This happens to be true, of course, because you have been healthy all along.

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#1 Randy (Guest) on Friday August 05, 2016 at 11:31am

“What does a feminist look like?”  Obama?  You really think so?  This is a man who was for same-sex marriage, then “against” it, then for it again.  He’s a politician, and will say whatever he thinks people want him to say.  He wants his team to win, and his team has gone hard feminist, so of course he’ll follow.  Remember candidate Obama?  He said a lot of stuff too.  Too bad almost none of it happened.  He didn’t need any of it once he was in power.

As for feminists, yeah, we’ve seen what they look like.  Madeleine “special place in hell” Albright.  Big “shut the f—- up” Red, and Anita “everything is sexist” Sarkeesian, make it very clear what feminists look like, act like, and say. 

We’re not fooled.

#2 Mario (Guest) on Friday August 05, 2016 at 12:58pm

Max Boot: “If you think about Eisenhower or Nixon, they were actually incredibly worldly, sophisticated, and knowledgeable. The problem is that Donald Trump is every bit as ignorant in reality as his predecessors only pretended to be.”

That’s ridiculous—neither man pretended to be ignorant.  The I’m-a-dummy-just-like-you stuff began with Reagan, a president endlessly praised by “liberal” talking heads as eloquent and accomplished.  Just saying.

Re the GOP as a victim of its own ruse, Trump is where he is only because the media, including its so-called “liberal” wing, hyped him mercilessly, as if determined to feed its own stock narratives about the right, including the endlessly rehashed “Is the Religious Right dead?” headline (a meme that keeps “religion writers” safe from having to quit and seek honest employment).  Minus the unlimited free publicity given to him by MSNBC, et al., Trump in all probability would have been contained by the GOP.  Sure, by pushing Trump ahead we’ve put the GOP in quite a bind—it hates Trump, but it hates losing even more—but at what possible cost to our democracy and its people?

#3 dmbierlein on Friday August 05, 2016 at 1:56pm

Blame the media all you want, but I don’t remember any of the debaters making a point of Trump’s long history of support for Democrats or simply disinviting him from the debates and the Party. They had their chance and they decided “eyes” were more important than principle and now they have been reduced to the principle of “vote Republican because Hillary is dangerous”. More dangerous than Trump? Go ahead and argue that one.
But blaming the media is simply lazy thinking.

#4 Mario (Guest) on Friday August 05, 2016 at 4:49pm

“More dangerous than Trump? Go ahead and argue that one.”

Better that someone who believes it should argue it.  I’m voting for Hillary.  How about you?

Blaming the media is “lazy thinking”?  The media, esp. the mainstream version thereof, has hyped Donald 24/7 from Day One, at the same time pushing the “People don’t like/trust Hillary” meme.  Why?  Because they’ve been setting up a “two flawed candidates” narrative, one they’re milking to death as we speak (I saw it coming months ago).  And, sick to say, having Hillary run against a loose cannon with the temperament of a three year old makes, for the clowns who cover our politics, exciting TV.  Frankly, I think they’re less moral than Trump, and without the excuse of his clinical narcissism.

I don’t think I’m making a bold or lazy claim in holding the media responsible—it certainly has the power to shape popularly perceived reality through the narratives it writes.  Unless you’re suggesting otherwise.

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