Back in the early 1950s a biologist named James V. McConnell taught flatworms to run a maze. Well, not run exactly. We’re talking flatworms here. Dugesia dorotocephala. No legs, you see. And not much of a brain. Just enough brain to understand that turning left results in an electrical shock and turning right doesn’t. Just enough brain to comprehend that not getting shocked is, as Shakespeare put it, a consummation devoutly to be wished.
Elizabethan playwrights aside, the point is as follows: Dr. McConnell demonstrated that flatworms are capable of learning from their mistakes.
So why aren’t Republicans capable of that same intellectual feat?
Assuming you haven’t spent the last week orally attached to an opium pipe, you probably noticed there was a lot of anger directed at Indiana’s Governor Mike ‘Tunahead’ Pence for signing into law a pretty reprehensible Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA, which, sadly, is often pronounced ‘riff-rah’). Spence, who seemed genuinely surprised that folks would get upset by a law that effectively allowed businesses to discriminate against gay folks, has spent the last few days engaged in a virtuoso performance of high wire stupidity without a net.
Having witnessed the outrage directed at Indiana and the ensuing havoc, what did the Republican legislators of Arkansas do? They decided to pass a virtually identical RFRA. Seriously. They watched Mike Pence slam a door on his own dick and turned to each other and said “Man, that looked like it hurt…let’s try it.”
Cuddly State Representative Bob Ballinger defends the Arkansas bill, saying it protects religious freedom.
“If it’s a butcher who is a Muslim and doesn’t deal in pork, you can’t make him deal in pork. If it’s a Christian who is against same-sex marriage, you can’t make him perform a same-sex marriage.”
Right there — those two sentences — a demonstration of densely packed stupidity. Flatworms reading those two sentences would look at each other in consternation and make unflattering comparisons between Representative Ballinger and a bag of hammers.
Allow me to clarify the issue. A Muslim butcher can’t be forced to sell pork, but if that Muslim butcher chooses to sell pork to the public, then he has to sell pork to all the public. He can’t refuse to sell pork to gay folks. What Ballinger and Spence and everybody else in the Fuckwit Collective that’s become the Republican Party want is the right to refuse to sell pork to gay folks.
It’s not that complicated. Thirty-three years ago the Supreme Court of These United States issued a ruling that spelled it out pretty clearly. Here’s the relevant portion of the decision in United States vs. Lee 1982 (emphasis added):
The state may justify a limitation on religious liberty by showing that it is essential to accomplish an overriding governmental interest… Congress and the courts have been sensitive to the needs flowing from the Free Exercise Clause, but every person cannot be shielded from all the burdens incident to exercising every aspect of the right to practice religious beliefs. When followers of a particular sect enter into commercial activity as a matter of choice, the limits they accept on their own conduct as a matter of conscience and faith are not to be superimposed on the statutory schemes which are binding on others in that activity.
Entering a commercial activity as a matter of choice. That’s it, right there. Becoming a butcher, a baker, or yeah, a candlestick maker is a choice. If you really truly honestly believe there’s a conflict between that commercial decision and your religious beliefs, you have to make another choice. Follow the law or follow your faith.
But refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding doesn’t make you a good Christian. It makes you an asshole.
Here’s a Bible story (seriously, I’m going to tell a Bible story here). So Jesus is noodling around Capernaum, right? And this Roman Centurion sidles up to him and says — wait, a tangent; you have to remember that Roman soldiers weren’t particularly popular with the native population of Palestine. So anyway, the Centurion comes up and says “Jesus, my body servant is way sick. Do us a solid and heal him, would you please?” Okay, body servant — another tangent here. Roman citizens who served in the military often had slaves whose job was to attend to their master’s bodily needs — everything from washing them to massaging them to dressing them to helping them release sexual tension. It was just part of Roman culture. So, back to the Bible story. This Roman asks Jesus to heal his body servant, right? Did Jesus say “Sorry, dude, I don’t serve the gays”? No. Did Jesus say “No cake for Centurions”? No. Did Jesus say “Oh, man, I’d really like to help, some of my best friends are Romans and boink their body servants, but sorry, no can do”? No, he didn’t. Jesus just said “Okay, done.” And bingo, the servant was healed.
I’m not a Christian, but that’s a pretty good story. It’s a story that maybe Mike ‘Tunahead’ Pence and Bob ‘Bag of Hammers’ Ballinger and the rest of so-called Christians in the Fuckwit Collective might want to read. If Jesus can heal a body servant and dine with prostitutes and hang out with tax collectors, then you’d have to be a piss poor Christian to refuse to bake a cake for a gay wedding.
UPDATE: Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, who had previously pledged to sign the legislature’s RFRA, changed his mind today. He returned the bill to the legislature and asked them to change the language. But it’s important to note that unless the governor actually vetos the bill — if the Arkansas legislature refuses to change the language as Hutchinson requested — the RFRA will automatically become law without the governor’s signature.
The Fuckwit Collective strikes again.
aside from the lack of truly proper holidays (in December) celebration in the USA, the greatest mindfuck (can that be said on public internet?) is the selectivity of Bible passages. reading this, witty as ever, an anecdotal impression is that these “Christinanists” really avoid the quotation of the New Testament. maybe they do so because they have not read it, and why read the same story told 4 times, and some Letters To/Fro bearded dudes, when you got the juicy stuff (since the time of slavery?) in the Old Testament you got Leviticus for the Gays, and Genesis for the science, and whatever else. so are these Christianists better defined as some radical/literal non-Christians?
was the “slam a door on his own dick” metaphor and the appearance of flatworms an intended coincidence? just sayin’
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I know a lot of Christians. Well, of course I do — I live in the US, where you can’t throw a stone without hitting a Christian (many of whom, by the way, would probably deserve stoning if they truly lived by Old Testament laws). The thing is, Christians who are private citizens instead of public figures tend to be a lot more moderate. Public figures become public figures because they tend to be more extreme.
But that’s true in just about every walk of life, I suspect. I mean, rock stars tend to be more extreme in their ideas and behavior than musicians who never graduate beyond their garage band. Professional athletes tend to have more extreme behavior and opinions than folks who give up sports after high school. So yeah, Christians who become professional Christians tend to be more extreme than Christians who retain their amateur status.
in Puerto Rico, I am going to guess that 98.7654%** of the people are Christians, and they wear it on their sleeves, and I was raised as one (and beyond just being raised too). while the distinction between the loud and the… hmmm… less-loud Puerto Rican Christians is not related to public figures, I will agree that your distinction is demonstrated in the USA. and, that it seems to be “natural” because that is how notable figures are usually established.
the new wrinkle in that reasoning is how social media now amplifies the non-public figures “Christinianists”. are they encouraged by example? (something akin to video games inciting violence.) or is that a representation of the “moral majority”, which no longer has to be the Nixonian “silent majority”? L’internets surely knows how to air out our minority majorities.
** I think the rest of the people were not counted, so that would make it 100%.
Oh Fernando, how I miss you. :–)
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