On May 24, 2017 in a high-stakes Montana Congressional election, Greg Gianforte (R) “bodyslammed” Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs and broke his glasses. If you’re asking yourself what Jacobs could have done that was deserving of physical violence, the answer is this: he asked Gianforte questions. Gianforte was apparently fed up with reporters dogging him about the American Health Care Act (AHCA) and its dismal Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score. Jacobs’ was unfortunate enough to be the question that sent Gianforte over the edge. Fox News reporter Alicia Acuna (yes, Fox News!) witnessed the occurrence and documented it the following day here. Gianforte won the election at the same time as charges were being brought against him for assault.
A recent story detailed an interaction between a customer and a Walgreens pharmacist where, due to the pharmacist’s deeply held personal beliefs, the customer was denied a prescription for a birth control drug and made to go to a different pharmacy to have it filled. It’s important to note that Walgreens did not refuse to fill the prescription at all; their policy simply accommodates individual pharmacists who refuse to do their job and “allow” customers to fill their prescriptions at another Walgreens location where, presumably, a different pharmacist would be willing to fill it. Another note: this isn’t just a Walgreens thing; their policy reflects laws established at the state level allowing businesses to exercise discretion for conscientious objectors based on the employees’ moral or religious beliefs. In order to confirm the veracity of the story, I wrote an e-mail to Walgreens’ customer relations department and got the following response:
To fairly resolve these situations, and where allowed by state law, we believe it’s reasonable to respect the individual pharmacist’s beliefs by not requiring them to fill a prescription they object to on moral or religious grounds. We also believe it’s reasonable to meet our obligation to the patient by having another pharmacist at the store fill the prescription. If another pharmacist is not on duty, we will arrange to have the prescription filled at a nearby pharmacy before the patient leaves the store.
This is problematic for a number of reasons and I’d like to detail them here.
Matthew Archbold penned an article in the Catholic Register today wherein he professes to have proof that atheism is not a “cool choice.” Given that premise alone, I wouldn’t really disagree with the guy. The decision to embrace atheism or not, if based on whether it’s “cool,” would be a poorly reasoned decision and demonstrate a thought process counter to what most atheists view as rational or based in logic. We, in the United States, appear to have a fascination with celebrity and perceived authority so it’s no surprise that famous, outspoken atheists can have an impact on people’s decision-making processes but I’d argue that if the “coolness” of these people were the sole basis for someone’s atheism then we’re filling a pool with irrational people that will ultimately undermine the rationalist basis for the atheist movement (if you believe there’s a “movement” as such). In order to “prove” that atheism is uncool, Matthew presents eight arguments against the choice. I’d like to break these down and discuss them.
This “Hanging Out The Walsh” series will be an ongoing critique of Matt Walsh’s blog posts and podcast in an effort to highlight misinformation, blatant lies, and misapplication of religious ideas to the real world.
Mr. Walsh published an article decrying the political persecution of David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt of the Center for Medical Progress due to charges being brought against them for having misrepresented themselves, filmed discussions without consent and heavily edited them before release in order to present an argument that Planned Parenthood murders as many babies as they can in order to sell fetal tissue to research companies and, I suppose, make a bajillion dollars in order to fund their Satanic cult.
Passively watching The Voice, I heard an amazing singer named Chris Blue who did a version of Smokey Robinson’s “The Tracks Of My Tears” that raised the hairs on my arm.
He managed to turn Alicia Keys around and get on her team, and she’s lucky to have his talent on her side. After his performance, Chris offered up a personal story that went something like this:
This is my fiancée who has battled bone marrow cancer and [some time ago] during surgery she flat-lined. I asked god to heal her and he did, so I made him two promises: I would marry this woman and I would try out on this show.
My issues with this statement (and statements like it) stem from the apparent disconnect with reality and a lack of awareness as to the human element of this story. I understand that people maintain deeply held religious beliefs and that those beliefs entail crediting that person’s chosen deity with miracles, coincidences, and happy accidents. I understand that, in the absence of a simple explanation for an event, it becomes easier and more natural to fall back on the “god did it” mantra and stop thinking about it.
I don’t know who Matt Walsh is. I only know he has bad ideas. This “Hanging Out The Walsh” series will be an ongoing critique of his blog posts and podcast in an effort to highlight misinformation, blatant lies, and misapplication of religious ideas to the real world.
At random, I’m starting this series on a post titled “Dads, We Can’t Expect Our Sons to Become Real Men If We Don’t Teach Them How.” What strikes me first is the black-and-white view of gender roles Walsh imposes on his world. The theme of this post is that boys need to be taught to be “real men” (just as girls need to be taught to be “real women”) and that an inevitable break-down of society is occurring because men are (as a whole?) becoming more feminine. There are plenty of issues with this idea.
MSN posted an article today referencing France’s new law banning violence against children, including corporal punishment (or “spanking”). While Conservatives would argue this is yet another sign of the downfall of society, I’m encouraged that we’re now discussing on a broader scale the efficacy of hitting children. I previously wrote a piece titled “Spare the Rod” in which I discussed my personal experience with corporal punishment and the fact that it never really deterred me, but I want to point out a few items from the article with which I heartily agree:
Since Drumpf was elected as our next President I’ve used the #NotMyPresident hashtag a few times. I realize that this hashtag, in the wake of the Portland and Oakland protests that turned violent and resulted in property damage and at least one life lost, has become somewhat marred with irrationality, “cry-baby” entitlement, and unjustified anger. This is obviously not representative of my views on #NotMyPresident as an idea. This post is intended to clarify why I still use #NotMyPresident.
As egregious as Donald Drumpf’s missteps in this election have been, few people have really drawn any real attention to the following fact: Mike Pence is worse. Sure, Drumpf may be the one spouting all of his nonsense, inciting fear and hatred, and generally being a bigoted asshat but Mike Pence is still his Vice Presidential running mate who waves away, justifies, or adopts Drumpf’s harmful rhetoric. It’s one thing to “just be yourself” and be an outwardly awful person but another thing entirely to pretend to be a man of principle while refusing to take a stand and distance yourself from the awful person. You’ve always heard that you’re judged by the company you keep and, in this case, Pence is an awful person.
Pence has had ample opportunity to stand on American values and make what would be an enormously historic statement in American politics by simply saying, “I cannot in good conscience back a man who would undermine American democracy with abandon” and formally remove himself as Drumpf’s running mate. Think of how Pence would be remembered for decades – maybe centuries – just by making a single gesture of patriotism and moral fortitude! He could be one of the most famous politicians of all time!
On Friday, October 7, 2016 the Washington Post released audio of Donald Drumpf on an open mic bragging to Billy Bush about his rich, white privilege in relation to his sexual behavior toward women. Drumpf said that he could grope and kiss women whenever he wanted because when you’re famous “they’ll let you do anything.” The release of this recording fueled a national debate on social media and television in what seemed to me a surreal division of people who thought it was “no big deal” and those who were deeply troubled by it. I fall into the latter category, not because I’m offended by words but because I look at the bigger picture and evaluate the environment in which this occurred.
If this were simply about words I would most likely say, “Well, that’s not very Presidential. It seems to me that someone running for office should conduct him/herself in a more professional, adult manner.” I would then move on and worry about actual issues that will affect the country, both short- and long-term. As previously stated, though, this isn’t about words.