Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Brainwashed young girl asks Maryland legislature to deny gay marriage as her birthday present [updated]

| | »

While I have no problem with parents who choose to homeschool their kids, I do believe there should (ideally) be some sort of regulatory process in place to make sure that these children aren’t being brainwashed into mindless drones for their whackjob parents’ delusional and hateful beliefs. And here’s a prime example: A homeschooled 14-year-old birthday girl asks the Maryland legislature to deny marriage equality for same-sex couples as a birthday present, parroting all kinds of typical homophobic canards that make it beyond obvious how much of a puppet she is:

My transcript: (click the [+/-] to expand/collapse →) []

GIRL: Hi, I’m Sarah Crank. Today’s my 14th birthday, and it would be the best birthday present ever if you would vote ‘no’ on gay marriage.

I really feel bad for the kids who have two parents of the same gender. Even though some kids feel like it’s fine, they have no idea what kind of wonderful experiences they miss out on. I don’t want any more kids to get confused about what’s right and okay. I really don’t want to grow up in a world where marriage isn’t such a special thing anymore.

It’s rather scary to think that when I grow up, the legislature or the court can change the definition of any word they want. If they can change the definition of ‘marriage’, then they can change the definition of any word.

People have the choice to be gay, but I don’t want to be affected by their choice. People say that they were just born that way, but I’ve met really nice adults who did change.

So please vote ‘no’ on gay marriage. Thank you.

MAN: Thank you, that was very good testimony. One last question. Where are you in school?

GIRL: I’m homeschooled.

MAN: Okay. Good for you, you get an ‘A’.

This is so wrong on so many levels that it practically defies explanation. The sheer amount of indoctrination ensnaring that poor young girl’s mind is hideous. And the fact that her parents are obviously parading her as a tool for their hateful propaganda is beyond loathsome. We can only hope young Sarah will eventually escape the clutches of her parents and their accursed dogma, though all things indicate that this enlightenment won’t be happening anytime soon.

I once again find myself wishing that Hell were a real place solely for the comfort of thinking these wretched excuses for parents might one day get to experience it first-hand.

(via Joe. My. God.)

UPDATE (02/02/12 6:48 PM ET) – I’ve heard the girl’s name was Sarah Crank. If so, then this story just got infused with a not-insignificant amount of irony.

Fox’s Bolling: Conservative girls are prettier than liberal girls!

| | »

One sometimes has to wonder whether Fox News’s Eric Bolling might not actually be some sort of undercover liberal trying to embarrass his conservative co-hosts on the air. Or maybe he’s just deliberately trolling. Either way would go a long way to explaining how he can be so shamelessly and flamboyantly moronic, such as in his response to Bob Beckel’s reasoned take on the recent study purporting to show a link between lower IQ and and conservatism:

My transcript: (click the [+/-] to expand/collapse →) []

BOB BECKEL: I think what he suggested, by the way, wasn’t about conservatives being stupid. What he said was people who have lower IQs and less education tend to be inclined to vote conservative and they tend to be more racist. […] I have a very good friend, […] a very conservative guy, who wrote me, asked about this. I want to be very careful, ’cause you know I was in the South doing voter registration. The guys who beat me up – believe me, were guys not well educated, they were White, they probably weren’t that smart. But – as [friend] says here, I wanna read this to you: “I’m more inclined to believe that our attitudes come from nurture and not nature. But surely, the dumb ones of us have a more difficult time sloughing off our negative nurturing, regardless of whether we’re liberal or conservative.

And I think that that is a good point, that when you grow up in a situation where you’re surrounded by a certain political philosophy, and if you’re not very well-educated – I don’t care whether it’s Black or White and racism; you’re talking about people – it is group-think, and so, I think there’s a lot to be said about this.

ERIC BOLLING: You just refuted your own opinion.

BECKEL: […] I think [my friend]’s right, but the nurturing I think he’s talking about is when you’re in a community where it tends to be lower income, lower-educated, lower –

BOLLING: That’s not what I got outta this. You know what I got outta this? That conservative women are way smarter and more attractive than liberal women. Take for example, on their side: Rosie O’Donnell, Oprah, Whoopi and Joy Behar. And look what we have: Dana, Kimberly, Andrea, and Elisabeth Hasselbeck.

BECKEL: This is a serious conversation we oughta have, here.

KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE: We are having a serious conversation.

BECKEL: That wasn’t serious.

You couldn’t make up someone that cartoonishly simple-minded and childish. No-one would believe it. And the best part is how Bolling accused Beckel of self-refutation … right before essentially going, “Oh, yeah? Well, our girls are prettier than their girls, cuz they’re all fat dykes! Neener neener!”

Again, folks, this man is the host of two nationally syndicated TV shows. I can only guess he must have bribed his bosses with boxes of half-eaten crayons.

(via @womensmediacenter)

Women for Rick Santorum: Gifts from God

| | »

A couple of weeks ago, Republican presidential candidate and professional fundagelical Rick Santorum created some waves when he called pregnancies that result from rape a “broken gift from God”. Now, I somehow neglected to blog about it, so instead, here’s an excellent response from comedy group The Partisans:

My transcript: (click the [+/-] to expand/collapse →) []

WOMAN 1: I have a busy workday. I make tough calls for my team all day long. So when it comes to my body, I’d rather someone else did the heavy thinking.

VOICE-OVER: Women For Santorum.

WOMAN 2: Rick says rape victims should accept what God’s given them. So when life gives you rape, make rape-ade.

WOMAN 3: Something that someone forcibly puts into your body is a gift from God.

Woman 3 has a jagged sword stuck in her skull.

WOMAN 3: And no, I won’t take the Viking sword out of my head.

WOMAN 4: A baby from rape is a gift from God.

WOMAN 5: And it’s never polite to look a rape-horse in the mouth.

WOMAN 6: Rick Santorum believes that even married couples should have limited access to contraception. Ah, finally, someone who takes away all the worry about when to have kids or how many!

WOMAN 6’S HUSBAND: Wait, what?

VOICE-OVER: Rick Santorum. Ladies, don’t worry your pretty little heads about nothin’.

All I have to say about this is … that’s not a Viking sword, dangit.

(via Friendly Atheist)

Vancouver police defend police dog mauling

| | »
Christopher Evans (33)
Christopher Evans

Lesson learned (albeit not quite the one one would’ve expected) for this unfortunate punk:

Christopher Evans, 33, is suing the Vancouver Police Department for excessive use of force after his leg was ripped open by a police dog during his arrest. Evans needed 100 staples to close the wounds after he was bitten four times.

At a news conference Monday, Vancouver police showed video of Evans repeatedly hitting the front doors of a city bus with his skateboard in the 1400 block of East Hasting Street just after midnight on June 12, 2011.

Deputy Chief Adam Palmer said a canine squad responded to the scene and chased Evans into an alley.

He said an officer warned Evans to stop running or the dog would be deployed. When Evans failed to stop, the dog was let go and ultimately took Evans down.

Palmer defended the tactics employed by dog handlers that night.

"When [an officer] is making an arrest, the first thing that has to happen is the suspect has to comply to the commands," Palmer said.


Evans claims the dog bit him repeatedly after he dropped to the ground, but Palmer said the dog bit down four times because the suspect continued to struggle.

Christopher Evans’s injured leg
Evans’s injured leg

Because being mauled by a large dog is certainly not reasonable cause for any person to panic and struggle, is it now?

It seems that municipal B.C. police departments have a bit of a long-running problem with their dogs:

Figures released last week indicate dog bites make up about 47 per cent of the in-custody injuries reported by municipal police forces in B.C. over the past two years.

Now, I’m certainly not defending Evans’s actions – the hoodlum definitely deserves some level of reprimand for what he did, and running from the cops (especially when you have done something wrong and stupid) is not generally a good idea. But just so we’re clear: When a civilian dog so much as looks at officers in a way they don’t like, that’s usually immediate grounds for doggycide. But when a police dog tears into a civilian’s leg like a loaf of ham, officials line up to excuse the mutt ’cause and it’s all the perp’s fault for “struggling” while he’s being mauled.

Got that?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Daily Blend: Monday, January 30, 2012

| | »
  • Excellent essay by Radley Balko on the chilling effect of the war over prescription painkillers on pain patients and the medical community.
    (via @radleybalko)

  • Also, another excellent essay by Adam Gopnik on the U.S.’s vast prison state. (And meanwhile in the Netherlands …)
    (via @ggreenwald)

  • Ed Brayton on the battle of government regulation vs. deregulation (and why the Libertarian idea of a self-correcting “free market” is folly).

  • Phil Plait rips into climate-change-denying articles in the Wall Street Journal and The Daily Mail.

  • If you have any story suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments or send them in.

    Russian airline forces gay flight attendant to marry a woman

    | | »
    Maxim Kupreev (25)
    Maxim Kupreev

    For all the troubles pertaining to LGBT rights currently going on in certain regions of the Western world, it’s always useful to step back and look at just how far we’ve come. For example, we have laws in place that make it so that, say, companies can’t punish employees for trying to create anti-discrimination alliances by forcing them into sham marriages:

    Gay activists in Russia are planning to ask air passengers to boycott Aeroflot, Russia’s leading airline and not to use its services until the creation of equal conditions for all workers.

    The call comes following the revelation that gay flight attendant Maxim Kupreev was forced by his employers to enter into heterosexual marriage with his former high school girlfriend following his announcement last year to create an LGBT group within the company to fight for the protection of the rights of homosexual employees.


    According to internal Aeroflot sources reported by GayRussia.eu, 25-year-old flight attendant Maxim Kupreev was given an ultimatum late last year to enter into heterosexual marriage or to lose his job. At the end of 2011 he married his school friend Sofia Mikhailova who got the right to fly Aeroflot for 10% of the fare – and other company privileges.

    In order to register marriage with Kupreev, Mikhailova had to dissolve her real marriage to Grigoriy Andreykin. The divorce was finalised on 11 October last year.

    ‘Aeroflot effectively broke a real marriage and created a sham one,’ Alekseev said.

    The fact that Aeroflot management is so ridiculously petty that it would ruin both a young man’s reputation and another woman’s matrimony by forcing them into a publicly humiliating sham marriage, and all over a mere attempt at introducing a little fairness and equality into the workplace, really speaks for itself to the point where there’s precious little to add.

    Ironically, though, it’s interesting to note that this sort of bigoted nonsense is exactly what social conservatives are apparently rooting for when they pretend that forcing gays and lesbians to marry people of the opposite gender constitutes “equal rights”, whereas allowing them to wed those they actually love somehow counts as “special rights”. Because if the currently adopted legal definition of ‘marriage’ isn’t strictly the one they prefer, then it must be fake, right?

    (via Rob F)

    Doggycide in Ogden, Utah

    | | »
    Dog chalk outline

    A most irregular occurrence, where police shot and killed a dog that might actually have been aggressive for once:

    Three officers said they were in the 1000 block of Patterson Street about 2 p.m. investigating an incident when an unleashed pit bull charged at them from a nearby backyard. Officers said they ordered the 31-year-old bystander to get control of the dog, but the woman told them it wasn’t hers.

    The officers, who were standing in the road, said the dog started to circle the three officers and "bumped" into one of the officer’s legs, police said. The first officer deemed the dog a threat and fired a shot toward the animal. A second officer fired two more shots.

    The dog died from its injuries. No officers were injured.


    Police said they’ve asked the Weber County Attorney’s Office to complete an independent investigation into the incident since a bystander was injured. The department is also conducting its own administrative investigation to make sure the officers followed policy and procedure.

    It may appear reassuring at first that the police department is looking into the matter, though this is tempered by the fact that they’re only doing so because a woman was injured, not because cops actually opened fire on a lowly animal. At any rate, details and other eyewitness reports are sorely lacking, so it’s impossible to know if the officers’ claim that the dog attacked them is based in reality, or possible anti-pitbull prejudice.

    Doggycide Bingo card

    Doggycide Bingo Index

    Confirmed hits:

  • Dead dog
  • Total: 1/25
    A remarkably rare score, that. No bingo.

    (via The Agitator)


    Sunday, January 29, 2012

    Daily Blend: Sunday, January 29, 2012

    | | »
    JT Gaskins (17)
    JT Gaskins

    If you have any story suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments or send them in.


    | | »

    This entry has been removed from Preliator and can now be found over at Creativitas. (See here for more info.)

    Soap star commits suicide after forced to euthanize dog

    | | »
    Nick Santino and Rocco the pitbull playing in swimming pool
    Nick Santino and Rocco

    Stupid rules and breed-specific prejudice combine to take two innocent lives:

    A US soap star took his own life on his 47th birthday just hours after putting down his beloved pit bull, which was believed to be the target of an anti-dog campaign in his New York apartment building.

    Nick Santino, who appeared in All My Children, Guiding Light and Gossip Girl, took his life last week after putting his dog Rocco to sleep.

    In a note, Santino blamed the strata board at One Lincoln Plaza for the decision to put down the rescue dog, saying they had harassed him and other dog owners in the building, the New York Post reported.

    ‘‘Rocco trusted me and I failed him,’’ Santino wrote.

    ‘‘He didn’t deserve this.’’

    In 2010 the board banned dogs from riding in the elevators or being left alone in apartments for more than nine hours.

    Breeds like Rocco were also banned, but Santino was allowed to keep his dog because he had rescued him from a shelter before the rules changed.

    ‘‘I’m sorry the man is dead,’’ board member Marilyn Fireman told the Post.

    ‘‘But it has nothing to do with the pet policy.

    ‘‘You just assumed that [his suicide] was a result of a board’s decision.’’


    [Santino’s sister Catherine] Schmidt said Rocco wasn’t dangerous but ‘‘mushy, sappy and lovable."

    Granted, it’s a bit roundabout to blame Santino’s death on the board’s decision, but the point remains the same. Prejudice hurts everyone, not just the specific individuals at whom it’s aimed. That the board refuses to show any remorse (beyond a rather robotic attempt at sympathy) makes it clear who the bad guys are in this case.

    Saturday, January 28, 2012

    Europe’s “right to be forgotten”: Privacy or censorship?

    | | »

    Nowhere is the right to privacy more prevalent, and yet so often a controversial issue, as it is on the Internet. But Europe is now stepping dangerously close to the line of censorship with its new proposal to allow users to demand that any and all information about them be removed from the Net at will:

    According to the BBC, the European Commission is apparently set to adopt formal rules guaranteeing a so-called “right to be forgotten” online. As part of the Commission’s overhaul of the 1995 Data Protection Directive, this new regulation will mandate that, “people will be able to ask for data about them to be deleted and firms will have to comply unless there are ‘legitimate’ grounds to retain it,” the BBC reports.

    […] While I can appreciate the privacy and reputational concerns that lead to calls for such information controls, the reality is that a mandatory “right to be forgotten” is a recipe for massive Internet censorship. As I noted in those earlier essays, such notions conflict violently with speech rights and press freedoms. Enshrining into law such expansive privacy norms places stricter limits on others’ rights to speak freely, or to collect and analyze information about others.

    The ramifications for journalism are particularly troubling. Good reporting often requires being “nosy” while gathering facts. Journalists (and historians) might suddenly be subjected to restraints on their research and writing. The Brits have been struggling with this when trying to enforce gag orders and “super-injunctions” on media providers to protect privacy. It hasn’t turned out well, especially since new social media platforms and speakers easily evade these rules.

    Retaining control over what sorts of personal or sensitive data is made available online is one thing, and until now, Internauts have been required to rely on proper judgment and prudence in order to prevent issues ranging from spambots hijacking their social networking accounts to having their naked pictures posted on 4chan. After all, cyberspace is anything but a forgiving place, and even less a forgetful one. But there nonetheless remains a difference between what sorts of information should be liable to be erased at the user’s whim, and what should remain available as part of the public record, if primarily to avoid such things as officials whitewashing their troubled history and the likes.

    At any rate, if there’s one thing that far too many people have demonstrated thus far, it’s that they tend to be remarkably careless and naive about what sorts of information they see fit to post online, which all too often comes back to bite them in the arse sooner or later. The Internet is a metaphorical playground, and you can’t just leave your address and photo album lying around and then be surprised when you start receiving creepy letters with your face photoshopped into the latest edition of Horny Hunks.

    But all the same, it’s equally absurd to grant said careless and naive people the right to purge the Net of anything they claim to be personal information under the guise of privacy, a practice that would undoubtedly prove just as deleterious in the end for any number of reasons.

    (via The Agitator)

    Friday, January 27, 2012

    Daily Blend: Friday, January 27, 2012

    | | »
    Rep. Larry Pittman (R-NC)
    Rep. Larry Pittman (R-NC)

    If you have any story suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments or send them in.

    Study: Prejudice and conservatism linked to lower intelligence?

    | | »
    Black and White man

    While it’s obvious that prejudicial and regressive ideologies can be espoused by anyone, anywhere, a new study tentatively claims that bigotry and social conservatism tend to be more pronounced in people of statistically lower intelligence:

    There's no gentle way to put it: People who give in to racism and prejudice may simply be dumb, according to a new study that is bound to stir public controversy.

    The research finds that children with low intelligence are more likely to hold prejudiced attitudes as adults. These findings point to a vicious cycle, according to lead researcher Gordon Hodson, a psychologist at Brock University in Ontario. Low-intelligence adults tend to gravitate toward socially conservative ideologies, the study found. Those ideologies, in turn, stress hierarchy and resistance to change, attitudes that can contribute to prejudice, Hodson wrote in an email to LiveScience.

    Now, before anyone jumps the gun in either direction, I’ll point out that this is just one study that purports to discern one small link between overall intelligence and general levels of prejudice. I suspect there may naturally be any number of intervening factors at play, localized cultural viewpoints and religious beliefs being key amongst them. I’d also like to know just where the study’s sample pool comes from. In the end, I’ll leave it to actual experts and statisticians to decide just how reliable these findings are.

    But nonetheless, it certainly does seem to mesh with both common sense (think the growing anti-intellectual/anti-“elite” sentiment amongst conservatives of late) and other bits and pieces of research we’ve seen on related matters so far. It also apparently supports similar findings from previous studies, as noted in the article, itself. All in all, it boils down to basic human psychology: People who are less able or privileged in life for one reason or another, especially those stuck in more restrictive or regressive cultures, tend to stick more to their traditional and tribalistic guns, which acts to discourage higher levels of tolerance and open-mindedness for new or different things, including other social groups and minorities. That much, at least, has been established beyond debate.

    (via Joe. My. God.)

    Thursday, January 26, 2012

    Inhuman Soundtrack | 02: Down to Earth [deprecated]

    | | »

    This entry has been removed from Preliator and can now be found over at Creativitas. (See here for more info.)

    Daily Blend: Thursday, January 26, 2012

    | | »
    Bill Gates
    Bill Gates

    If you have any story suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments or send them in.

    Zon: ‘My Little Pony’, Derpy and ableism

    | | »

    The following is a guest post by Zon.

    Full disclosure: I am a bit of a “brony”, myself; I enjoy the show, though I don’t take any part in the fandom.

    Derpy Hooves

    I've been a huge fan of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic since the middle of the first season. I found the characters creative, real, and endearing, the writing solid and well-planned, and the animation pleasing to the eye. For a kids show, it manages to work quite well for any age group.

    The matter that I have decided to chime in on is the first vocal appearance of a well known background pony, named Derpy Hooves by the fandom. I'm going to skip the history of this character, since there is a lot that would need to be said. I was confused, however, when I found out that there were quite a few people who were offended by her appearance, saying that she was perpetuating an ableist stereotype. After reading these posts, however, I have decided that I do not agree.

    I'm not saying that you shouldn't be offended by this. I don't care if you get offended by anything, provided that when you start talking about why you're offended, you keep your argument reasonable. I can even understand why Derpy's appearance can be seen as offensive. Personally, I don't think it is, but I can't speak for everyone.

    I really think that everyone is reading a bit too deep into this. I can't imagine that anyone from the studio would be so insensitive as to think “Well, let's give her the voice of a retarded person”. As for the clumsiness, I think everyone needs to keep in mind that this is a kids' show; it started as a kids' show, and will continue to be a kids' show for its entire existence. The fact that adults started enjoying it was more of an accident, really. To a kid, clumsy is funny. Ask any parent if they ever dropped something in front of their kid, and if the kid started laughing about it. To a child, it's funny. I remember a moment from my childhood where my father slipped on ice and accidentally whacked my mother with the snow shovel. I thought it was the funniest thing I had ever seen.

    That poor little bacterium had no chance against that leukocyte

    | | »

    Run, little guy, run …! Oh, wait, that’s a bacterium. In that case, go, white blood cell! Crush! Destroy! KILL IT!

    Damn, one wonders why microbes and such even bother with trying to make us sick with these globular monsters on the prowl.

    (via @cwage)

    Fox’s Bolling attacks Obama for using Air Force One

    | | »

    Today in Obama Derangement Syndrome, brought to you by Fox News’s Eric Bolling:

    My transcript: (click the [+/-] to expand/collapse →) []

    GRETCHEN CARLSON: Let’s talk about the President, because after the State of the Union, he’s gone out now on a fundraising tour – the Swing State Tour, it’s being called: Arizona, Nevada, Iowa, Colorado, and Michigan. So, these states are picked on purpose.


    ERIC BOLLING: Let me just do – Air Force One, guys: $181,757 per hour to operate. So I just did a little math, I followed the money a little bit, I did the flight times between the cities. You end up with, D.C. to Iowa, Iowa to Arizona, Vegas, etc., etc., back and forth: Eight hours and 48 minutes, and that comes to about $1.6 million, just to fly that airplane around the country. Forget, y’know, security and the other things that are associated with it. So it’s costing the taxpayers a lot for Mr. Obama to show up in these places.

    You get that? President Obama should totally stop using the plane that was built to transport the President around. Or maybe he should just sit at the back of it. After all, Bolling & co. never had any problem with any other president using Air Force One.

    And to cap it all, here’s his response to critics:

    Libiots panties in a wad- I questioned Obama using AF-1. for five (swing) state tour. I did the math 8h 48m airtime @ $181,757/hr = $1.6m #Fail #hopeforchange

    Well, as long as you continue to dazzle us with your rhetorical mastery, Bolling.

    Indiana Senate committee passes Creationist education bill

    | | »
    Sen. Scott Schneider (R-IN)
    Sen. Scott Schneider (R-IN)

    Someone might want to point out to Creationist legislators in the Indiana Senate that they’ve just about to vote themselves into losing a major lawsuit:

    An Indiana Senate committee on Wednesday endorsed teaching creationism in public schools, despite pleas from scientists and religious leaders to keep religion out of science classrooms.

    Senate Bill 89 allows school corporations to authorize "the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life" and specifically mentions "creation science" as one such theory.

    State Sen. Scott Schneider, R-Indianapolis, who voted for the measure, said if there are many theories about life's origins, students should be taught all of them.

    But John Staver, professor of chemistry and science education at Purdue University, said evolution is the only theory of life that relies on empirical evidence from scientific investigations.

    "Creation science is not science," Staver said. "It is unquestionably a statement of a specific religion."

    The Rev. Charles Allen, head of Grace Unlimited, an Indianapolis campus ministry, said students would be served better by teaching religion comparatively, rather than trying to "smuggle it in" to a science course.

    The Republican-controlled Senate Education Committee nevertheless voted 8-2 to send the legislation to the full Senate.

    What does it say about your capacity as a lawmaker, particularly one in a senate committee devoted to education policy, when both scientists and even ministers are telling you you’ve got your head up your posterior?

    (via Blag Hag)

    Pastor destroys children’s belief in Heaven through kittycide

    | | »
    Moody the cat
    Moody the cat

    Pastor Rick Bartlett of the Bastrop Christian Church in Texas is in a spot of trouble. It all started when he caught what he believed was one of those feral cats he’d been having problems with:

    Rick Bartlett, pastor of the Bastrop Christian Church, is facing animal cruelty charges. Bastrop Police Chief Michael Black said Bartlett admitted that he caught the cat, named Moody, in a trap on Sunday, Jan. 15. Bartlett told them that he was having a problem with feral cats in his garden.

    Moody [sic] also told police that he had the cat in a cage in the back of his pick-up truck for three days and forgot about him until Tuesday, Jan. 17., when Bartlett brought the cat to police. An animal control officer noticed a name tag including the phone number of Moody’s owners, Sarah and Eddy Bell, on the cat's collar.

    Okay, so he was negligent, but he ended up doing the right thing and dropped kitty off with its owners, right? Happy ending?

    Oh, wait:

    The officer offered to take Moody back to his owners but police said Bartlett told them he’d take the cat back himself since they were his neighbors.

    Later on the same day, a park visitor discovered Moody’s near lifeless body on the bank of the Colorado River, some 40-50 feet below a bridge.


    Moody was Sarah and Eddy Bell's cat for 11 years. They are having a difficult time understanding what happened to the beloved member of their family. Trying to explain his death to their five-year old daughter has proved challenging.

    “She also asked me where Moody is now and I said, 'Baby he's in Heaven,'" said Sarah. "She knows the man who did this is a pastor at the Bastrop Christian Church and she said, 'I don't believe in Heaven anymore, Moody's just dead.'”

    Score another one for that superior, God-given Christian morality we’re always hearing about.

    As a grim silver lining, though, we now have a sure-fire way to get young children to stop believing in religious fairy tales: Just show them what these so-called holy leaders are really capable of.

    Edit (01/26/12 11:50 PM ET) – Thanks to Skwiver for pointing out something I’d missed. Fixed.

    (via Pharyngula)

    Wednesday, January 25, 2012

    Daily Blend: Wednesday, January 25, 2012

    | | »
    Stephen Slevin
    Stephen Slevin
    • Extreme incompetence or plain cruelty? New Mexico man [pictured] awarded $22 million after spending two years in solitary confinement for DWI. The details only make it even worse.
      (via @radleybalko)

    • Interesting 4th and 5th Amendment issues raised: Colorado judge rules that citizens may be ordered to decrypt their personal computers so that police may search them for incriminating files (even if they have no probable cause for believing such files actually exist).

    • Oops: English education secretary Michael Gove’s plan to send a personally inscribed Bible to every school in the country fails when told he’d have to pay for it himself.
      (via @todayspolitics)

    • Failed presidential contender Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) wants a fourth chance to continue dragging down Minnesota’s IQ.

    • Well, how about that: An actual Republican nomination animated horse race.
      (via The Agitator)

    • Would-be horrific video: Dog’s leash caught in elevator. (Don’t worry, happy ending.)
      (via The Agitator)

    If you have any story suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments or send them in.

    Godless babies in Minnesota!

    | | »

    Minnesota Atheists has set up a round of billboards in Minneapolis that’s sure to get some discussion going (and not just over the collective heart attack from graphic designers everywhere):

    Billboard with picture of baby: “Please don’t indoctrinate me with religion. Teach me to think for myself.” (Atheists.org & MinnesotaAtheists.org)
    Billboard with picture of baby: “We are all born without belief in gods. Learn how to be a born-again atheist.” (Atheists.org & MinnesotaAtheists.org)

    Anyone else see this and think “Ed West bait”?

    (via Pharyngula)

    Tuesday, January 24, 2012

    Study: Abortion safer than childbirth

    | | »
    Abortion: My Mind, My Body, My Choice

    Yet more research debunks yet another religious-Right canard, with an added twist that’s sure to get their conniptions going:

    Getting a legal abortion is much safer than giving birth, suggests a new U.S. study published Monday.

    Researchers found that women were about 14 times more likely to die during or after giving birth to a live baby than to die from complications of an abortion.

    Experts say the findings, though not unexpected, contradict some state laws that suggest abortions are high-risk procedures.

    The message is that getting an abortion and giving birth are both safe, said Dr. Anne Davis, who studies obstetrics and gynecology at the Columbia University Medical Center in New York, and wasn't involved in the new study.

    "We wouldn't tell people, 'Don't have a baby because it's safer to have an abortion' -- that's ridiculous," she told Reuters Health. "We're trying to help women who are having all reproductive experiences know what to expect."

    Why, it’s almost like these people are actually trying to help women. And here I thought they were just trying to get them to suck & dunk their unborn babies in life-threatening abortion mills. It’s almost like all those howling anti-choicers are just completely full of shit or something.

    Who knew?

    (via ThinkProgress)

    One in every 419 U.S. citizens is now a registered sex offender

    | | »
    Sex Offenders: A flawed law

    The rampant criminalization of anything deemed remotely “sexually inappropriate” is taking its grave toll:

    Today, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) released the results of its latest survey regarding the number of registered sex offenders located in the U.S. The organization's most recent survey of states found there are 747,408 registered sex offenders in the country today, which represents an increase of 7,555 offenders from the previous survey in June 2011.

    NCMEC conducted its first survey in 2006, which showed there were 606,816 registered sex offenders in the U.S. In just five years, an additional 140,592 convicted sex offenders have been added to sex offender registries across the country, an increase of 23.2%. The three states with the largest number of registered sex offenders are California (106,216), Texas (68,529) and Florida (57,896).

    You know, I readily consider myself a general cynic when it comes to the human condition, but even I find it extremely difficult to believe that roughly every one-in-419 U.S. citizens is a potential rapist or child molester, and especially, that the American public has increased its sex crime rates by 20% in the last five years alone.

    The obvious explanation, as has been made incontrovertibly clear in the last few years alone, is that virtually any behavior that can be considered “inappropriate” – from teens having sex to mere public urination or streaking, not to mention other equally harmless acts such as merely paying another consenting adult for sexual services – is now being labeled a criminal act and prosecuted accordingly.

    Of course, none of this will ever change so long as those in charge refuse to get a clue:

    "The courts have long held that the requirement that a convicted sex offender register with authorities is not punitive, it is regulatory," said Ernie Allen, president and CEO of NCMEC.

    Being forced to register as a convicted sex offender isn’t a punishment, eh?

    Edgar Coker Jr.
    Edgar Coker Jr.

    Tell that to Edgar Coker Jr., who was falsely accused of rape at 15 years old and is now unable to live without being constantly hounded by police because he’s still on the Virginia sex offender registry, despite having been proven innocent.

    Tell that to Frank Rodriguez, a married father of four who can’t play with his kids or get any halfway-decent job because he once had fully consensual sex with his then-15-year-old future wife when he was 19.

    Monday, January 23, 2012

    Daily Blend: Monday, January 23, 2012

    | | »
    “The Simpsons”-style cartoon: Hollywood vs. The Pirate Bay
    [full size (200×237)]

    If you have any story suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments or send them in.

    Breakthrough: Stem cells return vision to legally blind patients

    | | »
    Stem cells

    It’s no exaggeration to say that these sorts of medical breakthroughs are what so-called “pro-lifers” are fighting against in every practical sense:

    Two women who had gone legally blind from untreatable eye diseases had dramatic improvements in their vision after injections of human embryonic stem cells, making it the first documented time these controversial cells have helped someone.

    "I'm thrilled and so excited," said their ophthalmologist, Dr. Steven Schwartz, at UCLA's Jules Stein Eye Institute. "We're not saying we found a cure for blindness, but this is a big step forward for regenerative medicine."

    Schwartz and his colleagues published their study in The Lancet. For each patient, stem cells derived from an embryo were injected into their retinal tissue. They had to take anti-rejection drugs for a short period so their eyes wouldn't reject the foreign tissue.

    Before her stem cell surgery in July, Sue Freeman, 78, couldn't take a walk, go shopping or cook by herself because of macular degeneration, a disease that affects millions of Americans and for which there is no cure.

    "I couldn't pour a glass of water without spilling it on the counter," she said.

    Now, after surgery in one eye, she cooks, shops and walks on her own. "I can even read my own writing now," she added. "And I've noticed other things. My husband and I were walking around one of our rental properties and I noticed scuff marks on the wall. I told him we need to fix this, and he said, 'You're seeing things better, but that's making my honey-do list even longer.'"

    Uh-oh. I sense a pro-life/disgruntled partner anti-science coalition in the works.

    U.S. soldiers: It gets better

    | | »

    There’s something especially neat and invigorating about seeing out-and-proud U.S. soldiers spread the It Gets Better message from overseas:

    It’s amazing how, only a few months ago, this same video would have resulted in their immediate discharge. Oh, how I love progress … especially when it comes bundled as both a message of hope and a middle finger in the snarly faces of social regressives.

    (via Joe. My. God.)

    Doggycide in Minneapolis, MN

    | | »
    Dog chalk outline

    Includes blatantly flawed court ruling concerning illegal entry:

    What happened: A policeman went into a plaintiff’s garage because plaintiff’s garage door was open and the policeman wanted to investigate. The plaintiff’s pit bull dog ran, or jogged (depending upon whom you believe), at the policeman, so the policeman shot the pet in the head and killed it.

    Decision: No liability for the police because of qualified immunity. Decision seems to say that a police officer can shoot a dog even if the dog is on its own property.

    Criticisms: [In short: 1) The court opinion doesn’t specify whether both the officer and the dog were inside the garage at the time of the shooting, which matters because 2) people (including police) are not allowed to trespass, and thus anything that happened afterwards should never have happened to begin with given the officer’s original transgression. Finally, 3) The officer did not have probable cause to enter an open garage even despite searching for suspects, thus he was not supposed to be there.] As it is, the opinion simply seems wrong for failing to consider the Constitutionality of the entry, and instead improperly focusing exclusively on what happened after the dog started his approach.

    Doggycide Bingo card

    Doggycide Bingo Index

    Confirmed hits:

  • Dead dog
  • Firearm as first reaction
  • No apology
  • Wrong address (no probable cause for entry)
  • No disciplinary action taken
  • No investigation
  • Owner/cops disagree on dog behavior
  • Illegal police entry
  • Total: 8/25
    Somewhat routine. No bingo.

    (via The Agitator)

    SCOTUS: Police need warrant to secretly track suspects

    | | »
    GPS tracker attached to underside of car
    Got a warrant for that?

    This is pretty big, albeit (should be) entirely unsurprising: The U.S. top court has ruled that cops actually need to obey the law, too:

    The U.S. Supreme Court says police must get a search warrant before using GPS technology to track criminal suspects.

    The court ruled in the case of Washington nightclub owner Antoine Jones. A federal appeals court in Washington overturned his drug conspiracy conviction because police did not have a warrant when they installed a satellite device known as a GPS on his vehicle and then tracked his movements for a month.

    The only thing remarkable about this story is precisely why it’s garnering such attention: that it took this long for a court, much less the highest in the country, to declare that, no, it isn’t legal for law enforcement to spy on someone 24/7 without court approval. You’d think that no-one had ever heard of that “Fourth Amendment” thing or something. (Then again, some lower courts apparently haven’t, either.)

    (via @BreakingNews)