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
Advertisements

Op-Ed: SCOTUS & Reproductive Rights

Phil in StudioI’m going to start this out with a full disclosure. I’m a former employee of Hobby Lobby, I’m a man, I do not have children, and I am gay.  The store I worked in had a Jewish woman as a supervisor, a Buddhist working the sales floor, a Pagan (me), and at least two openly gay employees.

On Monday 30 June 2014, the Supreme Court of the United States delivered their ruling on the case involving Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods. These companies had challenged the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that companies pay for contraceptives. The ruling effects a limited number of contraceptives, “morning after” pills and IUDs, not contraception in general. And of course abortion. The USAToday has a list of examples of the contraceptives that this ruling does and does not effect.

Wednesday morning at work, a customer with whom I regularly have political conversations with came in. I noticed that he had a limp and asked him about it. That turned towards talking about health care, in particular the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). This man is relatively intelligent, compared to man of the conversations I have with customers, he is very intelligent. He’s a small business owner and a Christian. He agrees with Hobby Lobby and other companies that are owned (or the majority shareholders are) by Christians should not be required to cover contraceptives in their insurance policies. Saying that people who wish to use prescribed contraceptives should pay for them with private insurance or out of pocket.  (Note: the majority of Hobby Lobby employees work less than 30 hours a week, thus not qualifying for insurance coverage in most states. They are also paid minimum wage or slightly hiring, thus not being able to afford private coverage.) He went so far as to say that “he shouldn’t pay for these whores.” I looked him dead in the eye and asked him if my sister-in-law is a whore because she uses birth control pills to regulate her menstrual cycle.

These kinds of conversations are happening all over the place right now, of that I am sure. I see the memes and discussion threads on my friends’ Facebook pages. I’ve seen articles in the local and national papers that come in at work. People have been following this case carefully and continue to follow the outcome now that SCOTUS has made their decision, a decision of a 5-4 vote.

As a gay man without children, it seems odd to some that I might have a strong opinion on this case. I have a strong george takei on contraceptionopinion because I am a person living in the United States. I have sisters, nieces, and female friends that are effected by this decision. I am effected by the precedence this ruling makes.

Already companies have been filing suits or briefs requesting religious exemption from other Federal laws. This ruling can and will open the door to cases where companies, privately held or otherwise, want to use their religious beliefs to have legal discrimination. We’ve already seen, since the 2013 SCOTUS ruling on DOMA section 3, private owned companies seeking to deny marriage services (including wedding cakes) to same-sex couples. With this current ruling from SCOTUS these companies and others may have more ammunition in those cases.

Listeners of my community radio program Lavender Hill, have heard me speak out on these situations. I do feel that a privately owned business, single person or single family ownership, that has less than 15 or so employees should be able to determine what kind of clientele they serve. That freedom, however, ends when it encroaches on the civil rights of others. A company or business should not be allowed to discriminate against people of other races, national origins, or other similar criteria. But, those same companies may have a design that would preclude them seeking to hire person that does not fit that design – for example the YWCA (a large institution) may not want to hire a man to teach aerobics or some such as it may interfere with business. A “gentlemen’s club” may not want to hire a male exotic dancer, etc, etc.

That said, I am a realist. If we allow companies to pick and choose willy-nilly (or after long consideration) what “kinds” of people they will hire then we open the door to discrimination of all kinds. It may be a faux-news site, but I have seen articles where privately owned restaurants are seeking a religious exemption to not serve black people. Many feel that the SCOTUS ruling on the religious exemption in Obamacare regarding contraception coverage will open the door for companies to seek such exemption in the yet-to-be-Federalized Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA).

According to a TalkingPointsMemo from Wednesday, “Without a robust religious exemption this expansion of hiring rights will come at an unreasonable cost to the common good, national unity and religious freedom,” according to a letter of intent sent by 14 faith and business leaders to President Obama. This letter was sent response to Obama’s June announcement to use his executive power to require Federal contractors to provide an environment of non-discrimination for LGBT employees. Though the letter did not mention the Hobby Lobby decision, the timing of the letter and its intent makes it clear that these faith and business leaders wish to use this SCOTUS decision to sway the Administration.

I’m a man, I’m gay, but I am person. SCOTUS is granted the legal right to make decisions that may have direct effect on me and others in the United States. When others in the United States seek to use those decision to have discriminatory effect on other citizens then they, in this case business, are over stepping their bounds. Fine, Hobby Lobby and certain other privately owned multi-million (multi-billion) dollar companies have won their case with SCOTUS and do not have to follow the Obamacare requirement to provide coverage for certain forms of contraceptives, including abortion. That does not open the doors, on moral and ethical grounds, for other companies to apply for religious exemptions when it comes to hiring and firing of people that they perceive to be gay, people that are of another national origin or race. Etc. Etc.