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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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.

PWN: Faux news, discerning the truth from fiction in the news

RevKess and Zaracon freely admit that the Pagan Weekly News is not part of any recognized mainstream news service.  They do however endeavor to provide as accurate of information as they can during their broadcasts, often fact checking before, during, and after each broadcast to make sure that their information is correct. That said, PWN has earned a reputation in the Pagan world as a source for news.

Image from Faux News:Fairly Unbalanced on Facebook

Beginning the show with updates on the Marion Zimmer Bradley scandal and the discrimination issues Seekers Temple is facing in Beebe, AR (pt. 1, pt. 2), they moved to other cases of religious discrimination and separation of church and state in the United States. In the second hour Zaracon had to excuse himself for health reasons. RevKess moved into a discussion of how to discern truth from fiction in the news media.

LINKS

  • A Pagan priest in Huntsville, AL has become the center of national media coverage because of the city council changing their agenda and denying him the duty of the opening invocation for their June session.
  • Online source of information on religious tolerance, Wiccan section of the site.
  • SCOTUS’s recognition of Wicca and Santeria as religions protected under the law.

MUSIC

  1.  PWN Intro courtesy Aetopus
  2. Wendy Rule – From the Great Above to the Great Below – Black Snake
  3. Dragon Ritual Drummers – Zombi – Passage
  4. Lia Scallon – Mystery of Life – The Luminous Pearl
  5. Frenchy and the Punk – Make it Happen – Hey Hey Cabaret

 

PWN #101: Soap Box Frenzy

Due to some work conflicts for RevKess, this week’s edition of PWN was delayed by a day. Everyone at PMPChannel apologizes for the inconvenience this may have caused anyone. Zaracon was unavailable for this week’s edition.

RevKess feels he may have gone a little Rachel Maddow in the show, but he was on a roll. Sometimes being wore out from work loosens the tongue. He sure was up on his soap box a lot during the show!

Links

the Music

  1. Paradiso & Rasamayi – Harmonic Ascension – Attuning to Oneness
  2. Omnia – I Don’t Speak Human – Musick and Poetree 
  3. Dragon Ritual Drummers – Tuatha de Danann – Passage
  4. Heather Dale – Odin’s Other Eye – The Gabriel Hounds
  5. Lon Milo DuQuette – Roman Rider – I’m Baba Lon
  6. Featherscale – Gypsy Heart – Gypsy Heart
  7. Mama Gina – Summer of the Fae – Goddess Kiss’d
  8. Lis Addison – Crown in the Sky – Crown in the Sky

News and Links that didn’t air….

There was a lot of ground to cover with #101 this week. Many things may have been missed or just didn’t make the cut for the live broadcast. Below you will find links and short info snippets on some of those topics and issues that just didn’t make it into the show. Not because they aren’t important, but because RevKess sometimes goes on tangents or looses steam before he can cover everything.

PWN #100

The 100th edition of the Pagan Weekly News aired late this week. RevKess has been working odd hours, more so than usual, at his bills-paying-job and was completely wiped at 9am CT Tuesday the 2nd of July. Zaracon was off celebrating the birth his new grandson and unavailable to contribute to this landmark edition. The birth of a new child is truly  more important than sharing in the general news of the Pagan community. Family is one of those things that can and often does out weigh the needs of the many. Congratulations to Z, his daughter, his new grandson and indeed to the whole family!

This past week brings us a lot of news from the political and governmental realms as well as equality issues from around the world and lots of news and events from the Pagan community. We will start as we did with the archived edition of PWN and move into some of the stories that RevKess did not find time for in the broadcast.

Links

  • The Pagan community reacts to the SCOTUS decisions, an article edited by Jason Pitzl-Waters on the Wild Hunt.
  • A follow-up from June 27th on the Wild Hunt, further reactions. This article contains a segment of an email that RevKess sent to Jason Pitzl-Waters with his first thoughts and reactions to the rulings.
  • Amy Howe’s “in plain English” brief on the DOMA decision from SCOTUS.
  • T Thorn Coyle’s article on her blog from March in which she speaks about her stance on marriage equality.
  • A brief article on Doreen Valiente and how she stood in the face of resistance.
  • Phyllis Currot, Vice Chair for the Parliament for World Religions posted this to her Facebook stream on 2 july 2013: “THANK YOU – from the bottom of my heart – o everyone who helped save the Parliament by donating, by getting the word out, by sending your thoughts and prayers!! Last week we all signed the Settlement Agreement in the Barcelona case and today the Judge signed the order dismissing it. Finally, our lawyers said that we could publicly make a formal announcement that the Barcelona debt has been paid and the battle is over!
    Collectively, and from all over the world, the Wiccan/Pagan community donated over $26,000 to pay off the debt that could have bankrupted the Parliament – that’s 10% of the total debt and an incredible, strong demonstration of our community’s appreciation for CPWR and our ability to give when we are needed.! We consistently led the way in fundraising, inspiring other faith communities to organize and donate. Wiccans, Pagans, shamanic practitioners, members of every tradition around from Italy, Brazil, Belgium, the Netherlands, England, Mexico and all over South America, Canada and of course the US made generous contributions.
    I’m so proud to be a member of this amazing community and to serve as Vice Chair of the Parliament. So many more opportunities await us as we take our rightful place on the global stage of world religions. Blessings to you all and endless gratitude.”

    • Read the statement from the CPWR here.
  • The Argus has an article about Doreen Valiente.
  • Over on the blog HecateDemeter you can read on perspective on why it is not a good idea to fall into the “denial” mode when discussing your Pagan path with others. “As long as you’re denying that you worship Satan (a Christian demi-god in whom Pagans don’t even believe; Satanism is a branch of Christianity), or eat babies, or cut the eyes out of newts for your potions, you, like LBJ’s opponent, are losing.”
    • Peter Dybing has a similar post on his Pagan in Paradise blog. “The time has come for our community to engage an alternative approach to these conversations. Answering the “devil” question should be viewed as a catastrophic way forward.  Alternative responses include, “Let me explain what the Wiccans I know believe” or even better “ Let me tell you a little about what Wiccans do”.  We must as a religious community cease to respond to the outlandish if we are to be viewed as a credible religious movement by wider society.  Such responses just feed the idea that Wiccans are the “other” and not engaged in a theology that has depth and meaning.”
  • Professor Ronald Hutton takes some of his epertise on various topics to the small screen with a new 12 part series on British television.
  • Some news of the weird from Nottinghamshire in England.
  • Harvey Milk’s nephew, Stuart Milk,  speaks up on marriage equality and other LGBT issues during the San Francisco Pride events.
  • The National Geogrpahic website has an article about the recently discovered moons of Pluto and their new official names, William Shatner was disappointed with the final decision.
  • The United Church of Christ (UCC) votes to divest itself of holdings in fossil fuels, make them the first Christian denomination in the US to take a stand on such ecological matters.
  • Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif) full survivor benefits for LGBT partners and families.

Music

  1. Celia (as the Trestlefoot Faerie) – I’m Not Homophobic – Naughty in Pink
  2. Leigh Anne Hussey – Harper David – Homebrew
  3. Paradiso – Truth of Nothingness – Shaman’s Trance
  4. Lorelei Greenwood – Gaullimaufry
  5. Wendy Rule – Out of the Dry Summer – Guided by Venus 
  6. Elaine Silver – Don’t You Know – Faerie Goddess
  7. Heartbeat – Creation
  8. Tuatha Dea – Hypocritical Mass – The Tribe (featuring Murphey’s Midnight Rounders)

Stories we didn’t have time for….

PWN: SCOTUS Rulings, First Thoughts

PWN banner 1

RevKess shares his first thoughts on the SCOTUS rulings on DOMA Section 3 and California’s Proposition 8. (Our apologies for any format errors, this was originally submitted for publication or quote for another site.)

In a 5-4 decision, SCOTUS has overturned DOMA. This ruling’s immediate effect is that Ms. Windsor does not owe the IRS $300k in estate taxes. Long term effects are many. The Federal government must now recognize the legitimacy of same-sex marriage performed in any state that has legal same-sex marriage, and the District of Columbia. This recognition is for the purposes of taxes, spousal benefits for military personnel and Federal employees, property rights, etc. This does not mean that all states must now legalize same-sex marriage.

In another 5-4 decision, SCOTUS has tossed Prop8 back down to the lower court with instructions to dismiss the case. Sometime by August 1, 2013, hundred, perhaps thousands, of same-sex couples in California will be applying for marriage licenses and making their plans final and legal to be married.
Today marks an affirmation by SCOTUS that the United States is a country of freedoms and equal rights. This despite their ruling Tuesday on Voter Rights and the Federal government’s further attempts to restrict or take away other rights of US citizens. The five Justices that ruled against DOMA will go down in LGBT history as heroes. The five Justices who ruled against Prop8 will also go down in LGBT history as heroes.
As a gay man I am thrilled to hear these rulings. At the time of this writing I have not slogged through all the legalese of both opinions the dissenters, that will come after the initial euphoria has waned a bit. I can only hope that the DOMA decision will reflect well on the efforts of my state to over turn their own version of DOMA. The ban on same-sex marriage in Nebraska was a complete farce. The law was written by a woman with no legal background, the phrasing of the law was son confusing that a literal interpretation can prevent a father and son from owning a business together, let alone two men or two women getting married. After the election day that voted Nebraska’s ban of same-sex marriage into law, many voters were polled and it was learned that over 50% of those who voted for the ban thought they were voting for same-sex marriage. Such is the wonders of legalese and a lack of education. Since then, Nebraskans have been fighting for marriage equality with half-hearted attempts and full-hearted attempts. I do hope that after today those who are fighting for marriage equality in Nebraska will reaffirm their convictions and stick it to the government.
As a Pagan I am thrilled by both rulings. “All acts of love and pleasure” are the rituals of the Gods. I personally feel thatpagan marriage equality the government should have no say in whether legal consenting adults get married, regardless of their sex or sexual identity. Marriage in this context is a religious institution. How politicos view marriage is as a legal contract. If you are going to view marriage as a legal contract, then any two consenting adults should be able to enter into such a contract.
I am a legally ordained and recognized minister in the state of Nebraska, and many other states that recognize my ordination. I have been asked many times to do weddings and handfastings. I’ve not had the joy or the privilege to perform a same-sex ceremony. I have been asked, but things changed in the lives of the couples and the unions did not take place. If I were asked today to go to one of the 12 (soon to be 13) states that have legal same-sex marriage (and the District of Columbia) to perform such a glorious union, I would gladly do so. If I were asked today to do a same-sex handfasting or other such ceremony in any of the 50 states or anywhere else in the world, I would gladly do so.
I am now and always have been of the firm opinion that all adults have the right to love who they want and how they want as long as it does not infringe on the rights of others or place themselves or others at risk of undue harm.
There is still a long uphill battle in the United States for marriage equality. The provision of DOMA that allows states without same-sex marriage to ignore the validity of a same-sex marriage from a state that does still stands. SCOTUS declared Section 3 of DOMA to be unconstitutional. The rest of DOMA still stands, which means that each state still has the right to define marriage according to its voters or law makers.
For further Pagan responses to the SCOTUS rulings, read the Wild Hunt.