Continuing to embrace the fact that most traffic coming to my blog right now is driven by a scandal in the news, let’s get some new headlines out of the way first:
I’m not going to sum up the scandal yet again (if you really need to know, I quoted a great sum-up by one of thew writers at the Wonkette a couple days ago.)
Among the stories linked above, there is an official statement from the some leaders of Liberty University which claims that until last week there was absolutely no way to know that the former president of the University (and son of the scam evangelist who founded it as part of his multi-decade pro-racial segregation campaign) had been doing anything possible illegal or questionable with university funds, et cetera.
This is a blatant lie. If nothing else, because both major news organizations and dozens of bloggers like myself have been reporting on this issue for nearly three years. And one of the stories all of us covered in the last year was as a result of dozens of current and former employees of the university going to various Christian news sites to report the shenanigans. One former board member was widely quoted as saying they were no longer running a religious university, because Falwell Jr had turned it into a hedge fund that used student fees to finance his personal real estate deals.
And after that story broke, Falwell, Jr called the FBI to try to get the Feds to arrest all those employees… not for spreading false information, but for violating their non-disclosure agreements by revealing information they were supposed to keep secret.
Side note: I still have no idea why he thought calling the FBI of all people was the thing to do, but there you have it.
In other words, he essentially admitted that at least some of the allegations were turn.
That bit alone was months ago, not last week.
And again, the other news stories were published in the last few years. And at least when the mainstream news organizations were first publishing the stories, various board members and other officials of the university were contacted for comment.
Cynical people will say that “Of course they knew! But they are in on the deals, too!”
Most of the evidence is that, know, Falwell wasn’t spreading any of the money to anyone but his own family and apparently the young men who were schtupping Mrs Falwell.
No, it’s more complicated than that. And it is related to the structural forces in evangelical institutions (and probably other religious institutions, but let’s stick to what I know of personally) which enable abusers and turn the victims of abusers into villains.
First, most evangelicals believe that god is in control of the world. Which contradicts their equally sincerely held belief that satan causes all sorts of bad things to happen in the world, but such contradictions don’t bother them. Anyway, because god controls the world, then any person who is in charge of anything has been placed there by god. And god had to have a reason, even when it seems the person is completely unfit for the position. Therefore, if you question the actions of the leader, you are saying that god made a mistake putting him there. So the first line of defense when any wrongdoing of a leader is brought to light is to remind you that god works in mysterious ways, and eventually it will all turn out to be part of god’s plan.
Second, there is a section of the New Testament which is sometimes referred to as the Ministry of Correction, which details a process by which the faithful are to approach another member of the congregation/et cetera, when that person appears to have gone astray. And the first step in this process is to keep the problem private, do not share any concerns or issues with anyone outside the community. You are supposed to talk to the person directly, admit that you know that everyone including yourself sins from time to time, explain why you think what they are doing is wrong, invite them to pray with you about it, and trust in god to open their eyes.
You are only supposed to go to another person (and it is supposed to be someone who knows the person who you think has done something wrong, is a member of the same faith community, and preferably has some connection to the incident) if this conversation doesn’t lead to change and if, after you have spent time praying about it, you still think what they did was wrong. And you only take it to the entire church if none of that leads to changes and if the second person you brought into it agrees.
This process is easily subverted by a leader who doesn’t care whether what he is doing is right with god. He can pretend to take your concerns seriously, and then while you’re praying privately about it, start a whisper campaign undermining your credibility. That whole thing about everyone sin from time to time is practically inviting someone to claim some good ol’ what-about-ism—the leader may have made an unwise financial decision, but what about that time you did thus-and-so, hmmm? The Ministry of Correction is completely ineffective if any member of the leadership are acting in bad faith.
So even when you don’t have a legal non-disclosure agreement hanging over your head, if you grew up in these kind of churches, and you sincerely think that what the person is doing is wrong, your first instinct isn’t to save documents and emails and when you have enough to establish a case that the president of the university is diverting school funds to finance is luxurious millionaire lifestyle, turn said evidence over to the Department of Revenue or another agency that can investigate it, instead you go tell the grifter that you think he might be sinning and you ask him politely to think about not doing it any more.
This also how pastors who sexually abuse parishioners manage to abuse people again and again without consequence. The pastor or an ally goes to many members of the congregation, each time pretending that this person is the only one he’s talking to, and talk about their concerns about young Billy who seems to be light in the loafers, or whatever. Which is also how you end up with high ranking officials of a church telling reporters with a straight face that 11-year-old altar boys lead priests into sin, so it’s really the priest who is a victim, not the child.
I know that may seem like a big leap, but it is the same system. The default reaction from those around Falwell would have been to first assume that whatever the accusation is, it can’t be true, because god wouldn’t have allowed him to become president if he were that kind of man. And if any portion are true, it may not be quite what it seems because go works in mysterious ways. And if more of it turns out to be true, well, obviously the problem isn’t Falwell, but people around him who led him astray.
So Mrs Falwell is castigated as having a sexual addiction (and she joins in on the self-castigation!). The former pool boy, and various students who have begun to come forward are all characterized as tools of temptation that trapped poor, innocent Falwell (who was only trying to help them) into an impossible situation, and so forth.
Because the respected leaders can’t possibly be in the wrong, otherwise god wouldn’t have let them become leaders. It must be nice to be the benefactor of such blatant circular reasoning.
Note: Part of this post’s title comes from the hymn, “Soldiers of Christ, Arise” by Charles Wesley, #416 in the 1956 Baptist Hymnal.
Dirty Deeds Coming Home to Roost, or, What’s Happening with those Evangelical Pool Boy Chasing Devils?
I’ve decided to just embrace that fact that because I have blogged a lot about the bigotry and hypocrisy of so-called Christians in general, and one anti-gay grifter in particular, that it is okay to just embrace the fact that as long as this story is in the news, people are going to be clicking on a lot of those old posts.
I laughed out loud when I saw this headline, because (particularly if you read in aloud with a lot of dread in your voice) it sums up how I’ve been feeling: And Now For Your Daily Update On Jerry Falwell’s Dick. This article was from earlier in the week, but I love his summary of the scandal:
Sometimes when a man and a woman love each other, and the man is the president of an evangelical Christian clown college and is friends with the pussy-grabbing authoritarian president of America, they get married and then they meet a 20-year-old pool boy named “Giancarlo” and they are like “Oh hey, Giancarlo, is that the Holy Bible in your pocket, or is it your boner?” and he is like “Oh it’s just my boner” and they are like “Good, we really aren’t into that Holy Bible shit when we aren’t profiting financially from it” and the pool boy is like “cool” and they are like “cool” and so they start having a sexual affair with the pool boy for years and years, where the lady does nakeds with the pool boy while the clown college Christian leader husband plays shadows puppets with his weener and watches in the corner, and they end up giving the pool boy SWEET business deals that kinda sorta look like payoffs, and fly him all over the country in their jet, and maybe there’s a similar arrangement with the hot jacked personal trainer, but we’re not sure yet, but anyway then everybody finds out and the man has to quit being a clown college Christian leader, WOMP WOMP.
The story quotes heavily from this interview: Falwell sought to cut financial ties to pool attendant before Trump’s campaign – Giancarlo Granda, who met Jerry Falwell Jr. and his wife at a Miami Beach hotel, offers new details on his relationship with the couple.
Note that Granda’s account in the Politico interview appears to change the timeline of events I and others have put together. But also note that some of it contradicts that photo of Falwell introducing Granda to Donald Trump at the rally at Liberty University 10 months after when Granda claims Falwell tried to cut all ties with him. On the other hand, if what the former pool boy says there is true, it’s possible that Falwell was trying to get out of the deal without actually coughing up the promised money, and since Granda wanted the promised money, while Mrs Falwell apparently didn’t want to give up the Pool Boy… well, it sounds like it was messy for months.
And, as many people have expected, a couple more guys are coming forward with their stories: ‘She was the aggressor’: Former Liberty student alleges sexual encounter with Becki Falwell – A former student at the evangelical university opens up about a 2008 incident with the wife of the school’s president. Warning! This story has a lot of creepy details about multiple instances of Mrs Falwell coming onto (and much more) a young man (in his 20s) who at the time was a bandmate of her son. That sentence alone may have already put too many bad images in your head. Sorry…
There are a few aspects of this story that I do want to comment. The young man was a student at Liberty University at the time, and he was a member of a band that had recruited the Falwell’s oldest son, Trey (who was also a student at the university, though a few years younger than they) as their lead guitarist. One of the stories the young man talks about he and Trey hanging out at the Falwell’s home drinking whiskey and jamming, and because he’d been drinking he stayed in the guest room, where things later happened.
I want to point out, however, that this is a violation of the Liberty University Code of Conduct: “Liberty University’s code of conduct, known as the Liberty Way, prohibits the consumption of alcohol for all students living on or off campus. This policy applies not only to those under the age of 21, but also those who are 21 and older… This policy not only applies for students during school, but also while they are on breaks or trips.”
At the time of this incident, Trey Falwell was both a student at the University and underage. The other young man was 22 at the time, but was still a student at the university, yet it seems that they were partaking of whiskey at the Falwells’ home with the knowledge of at least Mrs. Falwell… who was an employee of the University at the time, as well.
I mean, we shouldn’t be surprised at the hypocrisy and double standards are in play, but… well…
The young man who has now came forward says that part of the reason he kept the story to himself for over 10 years is because his mother has always admired the late Jerry Falwell, Sr, and that the young man himself didn’t want to detract from all the supposed good that Falwell, Sr accomplished.
Falwell, Sr accomplished no good in his entire life. He was a liar, a grifter, a proven-in-court chiseler, who promoted racial and anti-gay hate for many decades. He was one of the leaders of an evangelical conference in the mid-70s that met for the express purpose of trying to figure out how to get donations flowing in again like they used to be able to by preaching against racial de-segregation and women’s rights. He was one of the people who made the cynical decision to change their doctrine regarding abortion (which before hadn’t been exactly pro-choice, but had been this complicated ‘the old Testament says clearly that unborn babies are not yet people, so this prove Catholics aren’t real Christians because they insist they are, but we’re not saying the we approve of abortion, but…’) and to make Abortion and The Gays their new focus to see if that would fire up people to send in donations. He then formed the so-called Moral Majority and dragged the Evangelicals into the Republican base and amped up the bigotry on all levels.
The gospel was a tool Falwell, Sr distorted to manipulate people into giving him money and influence. It shouldn’t surprise us that his son is a grifter and abuser, too.
Falwell, Jr has tried to wiggle out of this scandal by throwing all the blame on his wife and claiming the Pool Boy was blackmailing him. Mrs Falwell has joined in, saying it was all her fault for being weak and sinning and bringing the Pool Boy into their lives. That doesn’t really Falwell sharing nudes and such of his wife with all sorts of people who didn’t want to see them, as well as the Pool Boy, Personal Trainer, and apparently several others. It doesn’t explain grooming college students as additional sex toys. It might possibly explain some of the multi-million dollar deals, but doesn’t really explain sending the jet for the Pool Boy again and again after the deal, nor enthusiastically introducing him to Trump (which we have not just photos, but Fox News video of).
Sorry, the Falwells are both predators and jerks. A pox upon them!
And now, I’m going to let Stephen Colbert have the final word:
Stephen Colbert Unloads on Jerry Falwell’s Cuck Affair, Shares Photo of Trump Shaking Hands with Pool Boy – “Jerry Falwell Jr.’s Link To Trump Is Far More Troubling Than His Sex Scandal”:
(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)
Apparently I’m writing about Jerry Falwell, Jr some more…
Joe Jervis at JoeMyGod.Com has a really good collection of stories summing up yesterday’s churn on this issue, as Falwell said he was resigning, then retracted it while issuing a legal threat to the university trustees, and then supposedly resigned for real this time. Maybe: Jerry Falwell Jr. Re-Resigns From Liberty University.
While talking to Fox News in the middle of all that churn, at the point when he was still threatening to sue the board he said: “The board put me on leave, took away my duties as prez, and that’s not permitted by my contract. And they put me on leave because of pressure from self-righteous people.”
Pressure from self-righteous people, which he thinks is unfair. Really? This from a man who has campaigned to keep queer people from getting various civil rights. A man who has campaigned to prevent trans people from getting medical care, among other things. Has campaigned for the rights of medical personnel to refuse to treat queer people if they claim a religious objection. He has publicly condemned abortion, pre-marital sex among straight people—has even called for laws criminalizing not just gay people having sex, but also straight people having sex with people they aren’t married to be reinstated.
And he’s complaining about pressure from self-righteous people?
Wow! Talk about having your head shoved so far up your own hypocrisy you can lick your own tonsils!
I should explain the title of this post. The Pharisees were an ancient Jewish sect, distinguished by strict observance of the traditional and written law, and commonly held to have pretensions to superior sanctity. They appear in the Gospels on several occasions, usually being in opposition to Jesus. In many modern Christian circles that word Pharisee is often used to refer to any self-righteous person or hypocrite.
I already pointed out in yesterday’s post that Falwell’s claim that he wasn’t a willing participant in the sex going on between his wife and Giancarlo Granda is contradicted by Falwell’s actions during Donald Trumps visit to Liberty University in 2016. You don’t enthusiastically introduce your blackmailer to the candidate for President that you’ve just endorsed… I’m glad other people are pointing this out. I’m also glad people are pointing out that Falwell sent naughty pictures of his wife to Personal Trainer (the guy I have often called the Other Pool Boy)… and accidentally cc-ed a ton of staff members at the university. Again, not something one would do if they weren’t a willing participant in the sexual shenanigans.
I hope, I really hope, that some state tax examiners are going to look into these transfers of million-dollar-properties to the Pool Boy and the Personal Trainer. Because I can’t believe those don’t violate some laws governing how non-profits handle their assets. And if the anti-guy, anti-feminist, pro-racial segregations non-profit entity takes a big financial hit because of it, I won’t be complaining.
To begin with, I hadn’t planned to say any more about the most recent Jerry Falwell, Jr. scandal than to include the link in the last Friday Five to the story about him calling in drunk to a conservative radio show to try to explain away the scandal. I thought, of all the corrupt, greedy, grifting, manipulating things Falwell has done over the last several years, that this was fairly minor. Except nearly every day all week, whenever I logged into WordPress, I saw that a lot of people were coming in to click on a few of the previous posts where I went into details about his scandals and why they matter. This always happens when news stories about one of Falwell’s scandals are published. Half the time the way I find out about a new scandal is that I see lots of people clicking on my blog post Oh, you dirty devil—or The preacher and the pool boy… or my other post The Dark Domain, or a queer ex-evangelical looks at an agent of intolerance and his scandalous heirs, which prompts me to google news stories with Falwell’s name in the headline to find out what he’s done this time.
But I didn’t expect to read this on Saturday: Jerry Falwell Jr to take leave of absence after racy photo.
So Falwell was having a big party on his yacht. That’s right, the guy who leads a super conservative religious university and a massive evangelical ministry also owns a large yacht. And not only does he pose in a slightly racy photo—with his pants unzipped, holding a glass of what looks like maybe bourbon or wine, and his arm around a woman who is not his wife wearing unzipped daisy duke shorts and what appears to be a wig—and post said picture to his own Instagram, but also one of his son’s friends posts a video on Instagram or walking around the party where everyone is dressed kind or weird and trashy, lot of people are holding what appear to be cigarettes, lots holding drinks. Falwell, Jr appears in part of the video apparently drunkenly hanging on yet another young woman and slurring his speech.
Both posts are taken down within a day or so, and Falwell issues several explanations:
- It’s supposedly a “Trailer Park Boys” themed party, which I guess is a thing? So everyone is supposed to look kind of like characters from this comedy series, and they’re all holding candy cigarettes, not real ones. Oh, and no one was holding drinks, those glasses were just full of black water. Whatever that is.
- The unnamed woman’s pants were unzipped because she’s pregnant and couldn’t get the zipper up. By some bizarre coincidence, Falwell was wearing a very old pair of jeans that he no long fits into, and also couldn’t get his zipper up, and thought that in solidarity he should pull up his shirt and push his belly out while standing beside her for a picture.
- He’s on vacation, not at the University, so it doesn’t matter.
Liberty University, founded by Falwell’s racist, homophobic, misogynist televangelist father, is extremely conservative with an even more extremely strict set of codes of conduct for students and faculty. No smoking (tobacco, marijuana, or anything else), no drinking, no premarital sex, no being gay (you not only can get expelled for being caught having gay sex, if you admit your gay but swear you’ve never actually had sex you’re still in trouble), no interracial dating… the list goes on and on. Students can’t date without permission from the school administration, for goodness sake!
So that’s why these photos are scandalous. Now, I don’t know how they are more scandalous (from the point of view of the University’s evangelical base) than the earlier photos of Falwell, his wife, son, and daughter-in-law at a big Miami nightclub drinking comically large margaritas, but apparently they are.
Or the time he accidentally texted photos of his wife in fetish gear to the entire staff of the university… which is how the world found out about the second pool boy. See, Falwell’s explanation was that he meant to send to to this former student and now personal trainer because said trainer had helped his wife lose a lot of weight. For which (subsequent investigation found out) Falwell had repaid the trainer by forcing the university to cut the trainer a multiple million dollar real estate deal
Before I list off a bunch of other reasons that the organization should have probably canned him a while ago, I want to remind you why this matters to folks like you and me: his million+ dollars salaries come from being the head of two nonprofit organizations. A lot of the questionable real estate deals are financed by said organizations. Those organizations are exempted from lots of taxes. That means that all of the rest of us who aren’t exempt from those taxes are subsidizing these shenanigans with our tax dollars.
Then there is the fact that just before the Iowa Caucuses in 2016, Falwell surprised everyone to endorse Trump instead of Ted Cruz, who was the darling of the Evangelicals until then. And it appears Falwell did that because Trump’s fixer and former lawyer, Mike Cohen, made some blackmail photos involving Falwell’s wife and the first Pool Boy go away. Falwell’s endorsement swung the evangelical vote to Trump and (among other things) four years later we have tens of thousands of COVID-19 deaths that probably wouldn’t have happened if we had a competent president.
Any previous Falwell scandals: tried to sue reporters who wrote stories about the university refusing to refund tuition for students afraid to return to campus during a pandemic, he claimed that local politicians were begging him to force students to return to the campus (the politicians all denied it), he ordered a campus security guard to write up an arrest warrant for the reporters mentioned above and then lied on several news shows about how it was a magistrate that swore out the warrant, then local prosecutors dismissed the warrant, fired the entire Philosophy department teaching staff to make up for the cash flow drop off as students stopped enrolling during the pandemic, subjecting university staff members to frequent bragging about the size of his penis and the sexual antics he and his wife get up to, transferring millions of dollars to the pool boy (helping him buy a gay flophouse in Miami Beach) after the very young man started spending a lot of time with the Falwells—including numerous times when they sent their private jet to Miami to bring up back to stay at their mansion in Virginia…
It’s just so weird that this one stupid Instagram photo might be the thing that finally does him in.
First, big news today out of New York: New York attorney general seeks to dissolve NRA in suit accusing gun rights group of wide-ranging fraud and self-dealing .
The chief executive of the National Rifle Association and several top lieutenants engaged in a decades-long pattern of fraud to raid the coffers of the powerful gun rights group for personal gain, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday by the New York attorney general, draining $64 million from the nonprofit in just three years.
In her lawsuit, Attorney General Letitia James called for the dissolution of the NRA and the removal of CEO Wayne LaPierre from the leadership post he has held for the past 39 years, saying he and others used the group’s funds to finance a luxury lifestyle.
She also asked a New York court to force LaPierre and three key deputies to repay NRA members for the ill-gotten funds and inflated salaries that her investigation found they took.
Lots of headlines are going to focus on the ‘dissolve the NRA’ part, but note that if she proves the executives in question of unlawfully pilfered the NRAs coffers for personal gain and gets any of it back, it will go to the contributors who will be free to use it to immediately form a new organization if they want.
But because I have already seen some people distort and over-react to this news story, I realized this was a good opportunity to finish and post about a related topic: How is it that people who claim to follow the Prince of Peace are so enamored with guns and unwilling to take any reasonable efforts to stop mass shootings in schools.
Before we get to the meat of the answer, one digression: the phrase “God, guns, and gays” is frequently (and falsely) attributed to various Democratic politicians as a disparaging description of the values of conservatives. Wrong. It actually came from the 1994 campaign of Republican Senator Jim Inhofe. He didn’t mean it disparagingly. It repeated the phrase again and again to enflame the fears of his Oklahoma constituents that the libruhls were going to take away their guns, outlaw their religion, and force them to live next to and work with gay people—all so they would ignore the economic and environmental polices of the Republicans that were destroying their livelihoods. And it’s the same kind of reasoning that has Trump claiming the Biden is going to “hurt the Bible.”
But back to the guns and why a certain type of Bible-thumper thirsts for weapons that can massacre dozens of people in short periods of time.
An important component of the evangelical fundamentalist self-identity is being under siege. In their worldview they are constantly under attack from the forces of evil in the form of depraved sinful people (who they generally define as anyone who doesn’t believe exactly as they do). Even they have control of an entire political party and often the entire government of their home state, they see themselves as the victims or a vast and powerful empire of evil. An empire they believe will eventually literally take over the world under the leadership of the anti-Christ. They interpret several verses of the Bible as a specific call to arms for them to resist that looming evil.
And because they insist that every word in the Bible is literally factual and also the inerrant word of god, those cherry-picked verses mean they believe it is their duty to be prepared to literally go to war.
Then there’s the eternity issue. Because they see our mundane mortal life as nothing but an entrance exam to try to qualify for an eternity in heaven, they don’t see suffering and death in this world as being anything more than a test. This gets further complicated because many of them also adhere to one of the variants of the Just World Fallacy. Because god controls the world, see, bad things happen to people either because they are being punished by god, or because they are being tested by god. I’ve written previously that one aspect of this before that often plays out as, “Bad things happen to you because you’re bad. Bad things happen to me because god is testing me.”
This contradicts their other belief that the devil is alive and well and causing a lot of evil, but that doesn’t bother them, because it just gives them another reason to rationalize their decisions about which things to take action about, and which to just let happen. “Bad things are happening to some people I care about because the forces of evil are attacking us,” or “This bad thing has happened to me and/or people I care about because other people under the influence of evil are causing it.”
Besides, all the deserving people who die are just going to heaven, so if they happen to have been hurried along because someone which a semi-automatic rifle shot up their school, it’s not really a tragedy. True, some of the teachers and kids might be godless atheists or otherwise bound for hell, and that is sad, but it’s really their own fault for not inviting Jesus into their heart before someone decided to massacre half the school.
Some of them will even come out and say it!
They ultimate truth, as far as they are concerned, is that all the right-thinking “good” people will get to spend eternity in mansions in heaven built especially for them by Christ himself. And this imperfect world is eventually going to be destroyed in that great and glorious war, which they may get to fight in, and if they have stockpiled enough weapons so that they can kill more of the unrighteous people than anyone else, maybe god will give them a special medal. Or a better mansion.
None of that is official theology of any of the denominations I’ve familiar with, and most of them won’t say all of that bluntly out loud, but it’s what many of them believe.
So to sum up, in their minds Jesus is the Prince of Peace only in the sense that there will be peace for eternity for those who are in heaven, after all the rest of humanity is purged and thrown into hell. And the sooner that war to end the world happens and they all get their to the heavenly reward, the better.
(Part of the title of this post comes from the hymn, “Softly and Tenderly (Jesus is Calling),” by William L. Thompson. It was hymn number 236 in the 1956 Baptist Hymnal. The lyric occurs in verse three, “Shadows are gathering, Deathbeds are coming. Coming for you and for me.”)
Of course they did. Because that’s what they do. They inflict violence on people they perceive have no power, and that they believe will lose any we said/cop said scenario. They almost always escalate. It’s a version of the old “if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” Police academy training primes them to assume that everyone not wearing a badge is just someone waiting for an excuse to attack them, and they only tools they believe they can rely on are violence and the complicity of their fellow officers.
If they were serious at reform they would look at those federal cases, we see that in the eyes of the law, cops are just crime accountants, not crime fighters. Their only obligations are to observe and record the aftermath of crimes, not prevent crimes, and not even to arrest criminals if they don’t want to.
So what we need is a Law Enforcement Act. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed various kinds of discrimination under an argument that while the Constitution guarantees basic civil rights, it doesn’t always spell out what those rights are. Though the Tenth Amendment does say that powers not specifically delegated to the federal government in the Constitution belong to the States and to the People. And the Fourteenth Amendment says that no person can be deprived of the equal protection of the law and that citizens can’t have their rights abridged has often been interpreted as affirming that people are entitled to rights not spelled out elsewhere. That was most of the legal justification of the Civil Rights Act: at attempt by Congress to define what some of those unspecified rights are, and to provide a framework for the enforcement of both enumerated and unspecified rights.
The Law Enforcement Act could extend that framework, though the points I suggest such an Act must have can be read right out of one ennumerated right from the First Amendment, and one part of the Fourteenth.
Lots of people claim all sorts of things are protected by the First Amendment, and I don’t want to get into that debate. For this purpose, I’m going to stick to the text. One of the rights specifically mentioned in the First Amendment that most people forget about is the right “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” My proposed Law Enforcement Act would define the following things as part of that right to petition the Government:
- The right to sue individual police, police departments, and local and state governments which fund those police departments for failure to protect ordinary residents, or for police misconduct that harms a person or deprives them of property, or for wrongful death. In other words, repeal limited immunity.
- The right to require public hearings for police misconduct allegations, and a right for ordinary residents who make such allegations to appeal any findings of the misconduct hearings to a civil authority outside the police department.
- The right to demand judicial review of clauses of police union contracts which in any way impede those aforementioned rights
- the right to have any property seized through asset forfeiture returned (and in the case of cash, with interest) unless there is a conviction by a jury of a crime related to said assets. (I would prefer that asset forfeiture be outlawed completely, but I know that’s not going to happen.)
Next, turning to the Fourteenth Amendment, one of the rights that it forbids States from infringing is “the equal protection of the laws.” And so the act should spell out the equal protection includes:
- An obligation of the police to protect all persons within their jurisdiction.
- Any State the fails to enact laws that protect the rights listed in the Act shall be denied all federal monies for any current or future program to support law enforcement.
There are a lot of others things that Act ought to have, but if we can just get the right to sue the police and government over misconduct and failure to protect citizens, the stick of all those lawsuits is going to force police reform.
Let’s change topicsSince the surprisingly pro-LGBTQ pro-trans Supreme Court ruling about employment discrimination, I have heard and read a lot of queer folks incorrectly saying that the Court found employment discrimination about queer folks unconstitutional. No. The ruling was not about constitutionality. It was a statutory interpretation ruling. It was a logical recognition that discrimination against LGBTQ people is a form of sex discrimination. The ruling could probably be undone by the simple passage of a law of Congress that “clarifies” the meaning of sex discrimination in the earlier law.
Now, as long as the Democrats control at least one house of Congress, that isn’t likely to happen. And, heck, if you noticed how few Republican Senators put out a spirited criticism of the ruling, reflects the reality that a large majority of voters support the ruling, so support for such a bill is likely soft on the Republican side.
However, religious freedom is explicitly protected in the Constitution, so we shouldn’t be surprised if, before the Court adjourns for the summer, one of those so-called Religious Freedom cases doesn’t walk much of that ruling back (Like Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru which was just argued last month). And whether it does or not, we can expect a lot more attempts to invalidate our lives in the name of religion.
I had a fairly busy weekend, so no time to do a Weekend Update post. So here are some news links to stories that either broke after I made this week’s Friday Five, or are further developments on stories previously commented upon, or didn’t make the cut for the Friday Five but I wanted to make some comments…
The shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery: A timeline of a case that’s gripping the nation: it took over two months for the white men who killed him — Gregory McMichael, and his son, Travis McMichael — to be arrested.
FBI investigating Ahmaud Arbery shooting as possible hate crime, lawyer says – Attorney for family of black jogger shot by white men says federal authorities are looking into prosecutors and police in case.
Justice delayed is justice denied. Was Ahmaud Arbery killed for ‘jogging while black’? The answer is an emphatic yes.
I’m not sure what else to say. That it took the leaked video of one the murderers’ co-conspirator being seen by the public to get a prosecutor to look at the case? Right. Anyone who thinks America is a post-racist society has their head stuck up something…
Husband Of Reopen NC Leader Says He’s ‘Willing To Kill’ To Stop ‘New World Order’. Also, insists he’s not a terrorist.
Threatening to kill people if they don’t do as you say—threatening to kill anyone you perceive has not doing as you say—is the very definition of terrorism. Y’all aren’t heroes. You’re not patriots. You’re certainly not Christian…
How many times do we have to say it: the restrictions aren’t what tanked the economy. It’s the fact that we’ve built the economy on a need for a lot of people to work themselves to the bone to keep things going, and that as soon as a significant fraction of the population cuts back on certain types of spending, everything collapses.
And saying, “People who are afraid of getting infected can just stay home. The rest of us want to be able to go to a restaurant or get our hair cut.” Just proves that you don’t think service industry workers are people. Because if there isn’t a shut down and there isn’t unemployment to cover them, then they have no choice but to risk their lives and the lives of their loved ones just so you can have your dang hot wings.
Conspiracy theorists, far-right extremists around the world seize on the pandemic- Civil rights advocates have warned for months that the coronavirus could aid recruiting for the most extreme white-supremacist and neo-Nazi groups.
I can’t even…
In fairness, I want to point out that it isn’t just Americans who are capable of this level of stupidity: 107 COVID Cases Have Been Traced Back to One Church Service in Germany.
Youth pastor claims he was kidnapped by black men to avoid admitting why he was in a hotel room – After his wild claim made it to social media, local news investigated the racist tale and the now-unemployed pastor admitted the truth.
This is an old, old topic I’ve written about many times. Human institutions of all kinds have a terrible habit of protecting people in power and enabling abusing behavior. But there is something particularly insidious about how that manifests in churches. Particularly in how often the pastor or other leader who has abused other people is embraced and offered forgiveness almost before they ask for it, and how their victims are treated as if they are the offenders. And this next story illustrates that:
One Youth Pastor After Another Sexually Abused Kids at This California Church. It’s in the news because civil lawsuits have been filed. But the killer detail is how in 1983, when a 13-year-old boy explained how the youth pastor had sexually assaulted him, it wasn’t just that the church leadership decided not to punish the youth pastor, but they contacted the police and reported the boy for making a false accusation! And the first reaction of the police was to grill the boy about his own sexual desires…
That’s the fucked up world many of us grew up in.
Some days you really can’t do more than roll your eyes or yell “WTF!?” Just skim the headlines to see what I mean (you can also go read the articles for all the grim details
I’ve been seeing people refer to rightwing dominionist so-called christians as a death cult, and I used to think that was a (very) slight exaggeration, but now I’m rethinking that.
Let’s shift gears a bit. The following headline and the opening of the article would appear to contradict one of the articles I linked to on Friday, but that actually don’t:
The problem is that the phrase “class war” is being used to mean very different things. The article I link to today shows that poor other working class people overwhelmingly support continuing shelter in place/stay home orders. While only a slightly smaller percentage of middle class people also support it. Opposition to quarantines comes not just from a very small minority, but almost entirely from the very well-to-do and the stinking rich.
Folks like the executives and highest-paid pundits at Fox News, for instance, while they all continue to work from home, are egging governors to “reopen” the economy, by which they mean, stop the unemployment payments and force people who aren’t well off enough to quarantine voluntarily to go out and work and expose themselves and their families to the pandemic.
The polls in the above article clearly indicate that it is the rich who want to reap the benefits of social distancing, while making the working poor shoulder most of the risk of the pandemic.
Friday’s headline, which claimed that was no evidence of a class war was using the class war phrase much differently. And, IMHO, poorly. They were using it not to refer to actual economic strata within society, but instead to refer to a mostly mythical division. Fox News and their ilk have been trying to portray the protestors as representing the working class, while saying the only people who want the quarantine orders to continue are leftwing elites. The article then quoted virtually identical findings as the one above: the overwhelming majority of the country favor the quarantine measures, and the lower income the people are, the more likely they are to support it.
By adopting the disingenuous definitions of class, they wind up writing a headline that says the opposite of what the article showed.
Because the so-called “left elite” isn’t an economic class. It mostly is a myth, because inherent in the way the phrase is usually used is the notion that no one in the working class support any liberal policies, at all.
Isn’t language fun?
Once again, here’s some news that either broke after I assembled this week’s Friday Five, or is a new development in a story I’ve linked to or commented on previously. Plus more commentary than goes in my Friday Five posts.
Let’s start with a frequent guest in these updates: a disgraced, former Congressman who used to be a self-loathing closet case, and now has become a self-owning gay party boy: Aaron Schock is partying with a group of gay men in Mexico for his “self-isolation” – The “Instagays,” one journalist noted, “have a very different definition of ‘social distancing’ than the rest of us!” Gathering a whole bunch of your pretty boy friends and acquaintances from the get-high-and-dance-and-have-sex-with-random-people circuit in order to get high and dance and have sex with each other at a resort is not isolating, and it is exactly the opposite of a quarantine… and posting dozens of pictures of you doing that just seems stupid.But hey, there are a lot of other ways to be stupid during an epidemic of a deadly disease! You can gather a bunch of strangers from your community into a public place, and shout your nonsensical statements at each other: Michigan manbaby protest: Wait, we thought conservatives were “rugged individuals” – Who’d a thunk it? Right-wingers are a bunch of spoiled brats who start whining over the slightest inconvenience and Hundreds gather in California to protest stay-at-home orders. Yeah, shout and scream, wave your confederate flags and swastikas (I’m not kidding) and signs around. Spread those microscopic droplets of saliva all over the place! That’s how to protect yourself from the tyranny of a quarantine order, all right!
Or you can gather a whole bunch of people in a crowded space indoors and sing hymns! That’s another great way to protect yourself, your family, and your community from a deadly illness! Authoritarian Christians are deliberately undermining the public health response to coronavirus.
Or maybe not? Member of defiant Central church dies from coronavirus illness. Oops! No one saw that one coming, I guess. Virginia pastor who defiantly held church service dies of coronavirus. Or this one, either. I heard a clip on one of the news podcasts I listen to, where a woman who was leaving one of these church services kept repeating that she couldn’t get sick, because she was covered in the blood of Jesus, just like everyone else in the congregation. When the reporter asked her about people she might encounter afterward who weren’t church members, she replied that if they were covered in the blood of Jesus like she was, they had nothing to worry about.
I can’t find any passage in the Bible where Jesus claims his followers are immune to communicable diseases. It just isn’t there.
And while we’re on the topic of misinformed people trying to spread misinformation, Watch Dr. Tony Fauci debunk Laura Ingraham’s comparison of HIV treatment to treating coronavirus – Dr. Fauci: “Laura, this is different. HIV/AIDS is entirely different”. I have pointed out some similarities in that way that some people are reacting to this epidemic and how they reacted to (and still are) the AIDS epidemic. But that was about attitudes of people toward the victims. Not about how the two diseases spread. AIDS is not infectious through casual contact. HIV take years, many years, to become a threat to the person’s life. And eventually, we developed treatments that let people go even longer without getting sick, and it turns out that those some treatments make the person no longer capable of infecting others (as long as they stay on the meds). A vaccine would still be preferable to the regime of taking a cocktail of anti-viral drugs for decades.
This disease is communicable through casual contact. Because this virus is new to humans, there aren’t large fractions of the population carrying anti-bodies to older strains of the bug like there is for flu. There is no vaccine like there is for some strains of flu. And there is no effective treatment. None: Malaria Drug Study Halted Over Heart Arrhythmias.
And for a wide variety of reasons, some segments of the population is at higher risk for dying from this than others. And it isn’t just old people: The pathology of American racism is making the pathology of the coronavirus worse – Covid-19 is disproportionately killing black people because the whole system is worse for us. and Covid-19 is ravaging black communities. A Milwaukee neighborhood is figuring out how to fight back. Systemic racism means that some communities of color have a higher rate of some underlying conditions. Systemic racism also means they are less likely to seek medical help (either because they fear financially ruining their family, or past experience tells them that medical professionals don’t take their symptoms seriously, or both).
Let’s move on…
Oh, look! Paycheck Protection Program out of money: Thousands of small businesses shut out. We sure burned through that fast… if only there were the Inspector Generals available to monitor the funds, we could find out what really happened to the money. Guess we’ll never know…
And let’s close with this reminder of what our narcissistic president sees as being the important part of a disaster that has killed tens of thousands of his citizens and put more than twenty million out of work: