Mexico City seen from above—photo by Pablo Lopez Luz
More than seven billion people live on planet Earth right now, and each of them is as important as you are. I haven’t checked his math, but Gabor Zovanyi of Eastern Washington University has something sobering to say about population growth:
“If our species had started with just two people at the time of the earliest agricultural practices some 10,000 years ago, and increased by one percent per year, today humanity would be a solid ball of flesh many thousand light years in diameter, and expanding with a radial velocity that, neglecting relativity, would be many times faster than the speed of light.”
To paraphrase Kurt Vonnegut, I suppose they will all want dignity. Today is Friday, and your rights end where my nose begins. Won’t you find yourself enclosed in a thicket of sharp elbows with me?
Arkansas House member and sponsor of religious freedom Rep. Bob Ballinger (not pictured: puppets)
I’m not saying that if a wizard transformed all the members of the Arkansas House of Representatives into animals, Rep. Bob Ballinger (R–Berryville) would be a walrus who goes “harrumph!” But he wouldn’t be a mallard, would he? That’s because a mallard is gay, and Ballinger sponsored the religious freedom law that Arkansas passed yesterday. That law is totally not designed to let businesses refuse service to homosexuals. That would be discrimination, and that’s not what Ballinger is about. Earlier this session, however, he did sponsor another bill that forbid Arkansas towns and cities from passing anti-discrimination ordinances protecting gays and lesbians. But that’s a coincidence, owing to the widespread discrimination against Christians in America and the comparative absence of bias against gay people. Here’s Ballinger explaining to the Times why he didn’t think to clarify that his bill wasn’t about anti-gay discrimination:
“All the way through this I thought it was unnecessary because of the fact that it didn’t do everything that everybody was saying it was doing. In hindsight maybe I would have done it to maybe avoid all the pain.”
He said that a few minutes after the bill passed.
A hue and cry has risen against Indiana since Governor Mike Pence signed the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which exempts individuals from laws that conflict with their sincerely held religious beliefs. Critics say it amounts to legalizing discrimination against homosexuals. Pence called that claim “a smear” and insists the law merely reiterates the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. In the interview with George Stephanopoulos above, however, the governor refused to say whether it would be legal for a Christian florist in Indiana to refuse to serve a gay wedding. He refused repeatedly. Stephanopoulos’s vain attempt to get him to answer yes or no begins around 1:25 and continues for four minutes, during which Pence hedges like a damn juniper. He simply will not say whether Indiana’s bill legalizes discrimination.
Montana Rep. Carl Glimm (R–Kila), his family, and their certainty
Last Thursday, Indiana passed a bill authorizing business owners to refuse service to gays and lesbians based on sincerely held religious beliefs. The state immediately became a laughingstock. I guess laughingstock is the wrong word for this civil rights issue; Indiana became a cryingstock, or maybe just a boycottingstock. Regardless, it was a disaster. The very next day, the Montana House took up its own religious freedom bill, sponsored by Rep. Carl Glimm (R–Kila.) That bill failed on a 50-50 vote, after a contentious debate that saw Glimm brandishing his camouflage Bible on the House floor. He also said this:
[The U.S. Constitution] is the word of God, and the First Amendment says I have freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.
Literally no part of the sentence is true, and yet it tells us so much. Close reading after the jump.
An ad from the Alliance Defense Fund urges students to report discrimination.
Look at the kicker in that ad: “Deliberate discrimination against Christians is now the official—or unofficial, but actual—policy at an increasing number of publicly funded colleges and universities.” It’s like the copywriter caught himself lying and then convinced himself what he was saying was basically true anyway, all in the space of one sentence. Welcome to the age of creeping mendacity, where telling the truth is less important than getting people to believe what’s true. It’s a subtle difference—so subtle you can use it to trick yourself. Today is Friday, and the truth is too important to let other people sort it out for themselves. Won’t you conflate “correct” and “honest” with me?