PWN S4E6: What we’re really say is….

On the Pagan Weekly News RevKess and Zaracon do their best to bring you news, views, and information that is of interest to the Pagan community. Along the way we often discuss religious intolerance/persecution and the brighter side of our religio-spiritual umbrella: festivals, books, and music. This week’s edition is no exception to that pattern. As the title of this edition implies, Zaracon and RevKess discuss some of the popular memes that are floating around on the internet, primarily on Facebook. What is a meme, you might be asking. It used to mean “an element of a culture or system of behavior that may be considered to be passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means, especially imitation.” It has come to mean “a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc. that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users.” Many of the memes that we see in social media are political in nature, especially during an election year. Whether they are political or not, memes are often half truths at best, out-right lies at worst. Many of the memes that people share seem humorous at first glance, if you look at them again you note that they are insulting to one group or another. Here is a prime example of such a meme. It is true that many who use politically correct speech are sugar coating things, but not because they cannot handle the truth. More often than you might think it is because they are trying not to insult someone else. This one makes no attempt to avoid insulting people. It does, however, bring to light what many think of politically correct speech. An example of how politically correct can be more insulting than sugar-coated would be many of the attempts the straight community use when talking about the gay community, in particular the trans community. See, look there. In an attempt to be general and “politically correct” I left out lesbians and bisexuals, gender queer and gender fluid. Other attempts to be more encompassing of everyone who might fit into that community is the abbreviation “LGBTQA” Even that collection of letters leaves people out.  Some like the acronym “SOGI”, sexual orientation and gender identity. This term is confusing for some, a literal look at the term would encompass the entirety of humanity. Perhaps that is the point. Maybe, just maybe, people should call it as they see it, or to use a phrase “call a spade a spade.” And then you have the opposite end of the spectrum. Memes that point out something that many might consider to be true. In this situation, many might consider it a fault to need alcohol and drugs to be entertained. Agreed. Drugs and alcohol are not necessary to have a good time. They can make for a little extra entertainment – like when your friend gets so drunk they can’t walk without falling down. In moderation, though, alcohol is fine – even some drugs are fine in moderation. RevKess would rather enjoy a glass of wine at dinner or while watching a movie than toke up, or even go out to the clubs. Combing through several pages of racist memes, none could be found that weren’t in some way disgusting or too far into the racist field (I think I need a shower now). But it is easy to understand that a racist meme is just wrong, insulting. Whether they are directed at whites, blacks, Jews, Asians, Latinos, whatever. They are all disgusting and insulting. After all this, there are some memes out there that are just down right funny, cute, or enlightening. Here is an example of one that is inspiring – at least for the bibliophiles out there. Just look around at RevKess’s home and you will see bookcases in every room (save the bathroom) and stacks of books literally to the ceiling. Never enough bookcases. And of course there are the snarky memes.

LINKS

Before we start with the links, RevKess would like to apologize for a tidbit of misinformation. He failed to double check the publication date of an article about Andy Griffth. Mr. Griffth died on July 3, 2012.  The article he saw just before going live was in memorial of him.

  • In the New York Times, opinion columnist Nicholas Kristof talks about how religious freedom is in peril, focusing on how Muslims seem to be using the idea of religious freedom to persecute non-Muslims – primarily in the Middle East and “underdeveloped” countries.
  • The Pope apologizes to Buddhists for the Christian Colonial Rule of Sri Lanka. Is it enough?
  • Rev. Chuck Currie, a minister for the United Church of Christ and columnist for Huffington Post – Religion, writes about how religious freedom is in under attack, and not how you might think. His focus is on how the SCOTUS ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby’s religious exemptions for certain birth control coverage may lead to further misuses of the law and the protection of freedom of religion. “In a nation as diverse as the United States of America, it is critical that the federal government be trusted to follow — and indeed, to role-model — equitable employment practices. We believe that our mutual commitment to the common good is best served by policies that prohibit discrimination based on factors that have no relationship whatsoever to job performance. We are better and stronger as a nation when hiring decisions are made based on professional merit rather than personal identity.” – from a letter Currie wrote to President Obama.
  • On the Wild Hunt, Cara Schulz writes about the SCOTUS decision, after breaking things down in understandable terms she quotes several Pagans who voiced their opinions. RevKess is quoted.
  • RevKess’s full opinion piece on the SCOTUS decision for Lavender Hill.
  • In the days following the SCOTUS decision many businesses and organizations have begun prep work to petition for religious exemptions from Obama’s promised executive order to ban discrimination of LGBTQ employees of federal contractors, and the current draft of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act before theHouse. RevKess wrote an opinion piece for Lavender Hill after the announcement that  the Nation Gay & Lesbian Task Force, the ACLU, and other civil rights groups have withdrawn their support for the current version of ENDA.
  • In the current edition of the Pagan Community Notes on the Wild Hunt, Jason PItzl-Waters talks about the New Alexandrian Library Project and the special issue of Green Egg in honor of Morning Glory Zell.
  • Heather Greene has written a two part series on Pagans on campus for the Wild Hunt. Part 1, Part 2.
  • Cara Schulz, taking a step away from the seriousness of SCOTUS, birth control, and religious freedom, writes on the Wild Hunt about discovering Pagan ethics in modern secular life – Football.
  • Silverspring on her blog writes about why some people may choose to remain in the broom closet.
  • Writing on Witches&Pagans’ blog, author and lecturer Karen Tate talks about integrity in Pagan writing. Read an excerpt from her new book Goddess Calling on the blog Bad Witch.
  • On Patheos, T Thorn Coyle writes about public priesthood.

MUSIC

  1. PWN intro, courtesy Aetopus
  2. Damh the Bard – The Parting Glass – Tales from the Crow Man
  3. Big Bad Gina – Freedom Connection – Lake of Dreams
  4. Leigh Anne Hussey – She is Grandmother – Homebrew
  5. Mama Gina – Summer of the Fae – Goddess Kiss’d
  6. Spiral Dance – Weaving the Summer – Magick (also available on their best of CD, The Quickening)
  7. Frenchy & the Punk – The Circus Parade – Hey Hey Cabaret
  8. Celia – Carry Me Home – Carry Me Home
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Lavender Hill: Op-Ed: ENDA, why LGBT activists are abandoning ship

LHv6AIn light of the recent Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) decision (read Phil’s earlier piece) regarding the limited religious exemption for Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods in regards to the Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act (Obamacare), the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has decided to withdraw their support for the current version of the Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA) that is sitting before Congress. The Washington Post, through their blog, reported on this Tuesday, shortly after the announcement was made.

From the Washington Post:

[A] coalition led by the American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights said in a joint statement that they also would be withdrawing support. The bill’s religious exemptions clause is written so broadly that “ENDA’s discriminatory provision, unprecedented in federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination, could provide religiously affiliated organizations – including hospitals, nursing homes and universities – a blank check to engage in workplace discrimination against LGBT people,” the group said, adding later that if ENDA were to pass Congress, “the most important federal law for the [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] community in American history would leave too many jobs, and too many LGBT workers, without protection.”

It should be interesting to note that one of the best recognized “activist” groups for LGBT rights is absent from that every growing list of groups that has withdrawn their support of ENDA.  That group being the Human Rights Campaign. Listeners of Lavender Hill know that Corwin has a strong stand against HRC for their push for heteronormalizing of the LGBT community.

ENDA, as it is written right now, contains a religious exemption component. “ENDA’s religious exemption recognizes that the U.S. Constitution protects certain employment decisions of religious organizations and that some religious organizations may have a specific and significant religious reason to make employment decisions, even those that take an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity into account. It also acknowledges that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees of religious organizations should be aware that they could lose their jobs, even jobs that do not serve a clearly religious function, because of sexual orientation or gender identity.” This breaks down into three parts (from CivilRights.org):

  • A complete exemption for houses of worship, parochial and similar religious schools, and missions
  • A codification of the so-called “ministerial exemption” recognized by many federal courts, exempting positions at religious organizations that involve the teaching or spreading religion, religious governance, or the supervision of individuals engaged in these activities
  • A provision allowing religious organizations, for classes of jobs, to require employees and applicants to conform to a declared set of significant religious tenets, including ones which would bar LGBT people from holding the position

I own two businesses. I’ve worked in the real world for the better part of my life. I’ve worked fast food, retail, customer service. I’ve done a lot of things to pay the bills. In my experience I have seen the necessity of the accepted idea “We reserve the right to refuse service.” I can even see where certain small businesses, privately owned, may feel that they have the right to refuse service to anyone who represents a violation of their deeply held religious beliefs. What I don’t understand is the resistance to follow federally mandated regulations and laws that are constructed to protect not only the individual, but the business.

I live in Nebraska. There is only one city in the entire state that it is illegal for me to be fired because I am gay. Omaha passed a city ordinance a few years back that added protections for lesbians, gays, and bisexuals to their non discrimination law. Lincoln, Grand Island, and Kearney all three have tried to pass similar ordinances. Lincoln’s was passed, but it was put on hold by the same city council that passed it after a voter petition succeeded in gaining more than enough signatures to require the ordinance be put before the population during the general elections. The city council has not brought it forward for a ballot vote yet.

Though Lincoln does not have such protections, many of the companies I have worked for over the  years do have such protections in their non discrimination policies. In recent years the only exception to that would be when I worked for Hobby Lobby seasonally five and six years ago. Even the current company that I work for has such protections. At this point in my life, I would not work for a company that did not.

Almost immediately after the decision was announced by SCOTUS in regards to the contraception case with Hobby Lobby businesses and organizations across the country began petitioning President Obama and the courts for religious exemptions that could allow them to discriminate against people of color, other religions, national origins, let alone discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity. With the hotly anticipated executive order from Obama that would make it illegal for federal contractors to discriminate against the LGBT community in hiring, promotion, and firing of employees many of these companies are federal contractors. There has been hint, mostly rumor, that some small businesses might use the SCOTUS ruling to allow them to refuse service to individuals that are perceived to be “different” from those business owners’ religious beliefs.

I still maintain that privately owned businesses, in cities/states that do not have protections for the LGBT community in their non discrimination policies/laws, have the ability to refuse service to LGBT people. This means that a bakery specializing in wedding cakes can refuse to make a cake for a same sex wedding if that bakery is in a city/state that does not have such protections. This also means that a landlord or rental agency can evict a tenant that they perceive to be gay under the same legal circumstances. This does not mean that a privately owned business can refuse to provide their services to a black man, a Jew, a woman, or an elderly or disabled person. Those situations are covered by federal protections.

A grey area you say? No. An opportunity. When someone is refused services because they are or are perceived to be gay, lesbian, bi, transgender, etc then that person has the right to sue.  Such a suit may lead to legal precedent in that city/state that could lead to the addition of protections for LGBTQ people to local or state (or even federal) non discrimination laws.

Phil Kessler is one of the hosts of Lavender Hill on KZUM in Lincoln, NE. KZUM is Nebraska’s first and onlyPhil in Studio community radio station. Lavender Hill is perhaps the only LBT/SOGI news and talk program on Nebraska radio, locally produced or otherwise. The opinions expressed in this op-ed piece or his alone and do not reflect the opinions or beliefs of his co-host, KZUM – its programmers, employees, underwriters, or board of directors – nor do they necessarily reflect those of the producers and hosts of programming on the Pagan-Musings Podcast Channel and contributors to the PMPChannel.com blogsite.

Tune in every Sunday at 11am Central for Lavender Hill with Corwin and Phil on KZUM-Lincoln/KZUM-HD.