Category Archives: politics

Sister Margaret Farley censured by Vatican for thought crimes. Still no censure for child-raping priests.

What continues to amaze me about the Church’s focus on this nun is the length to which they will go to punish the words and thoughts of religious women, while utterly failing to punish the significantly more harmful actions of religious men.  If you’re a wrong-thinking nun, the Catholic Church will censure you.  If you’re a priest who rapes children, Cardinal Timothy Dolan will reward you with $20,000.

Sister Margaret Farley Denounced by Vatican – NYTimes.com.

Sister Farley has clearly stated that her book is not intended to be read as a statement of Catholic doctrine.  From the article:

Sister Farley, a past president of the Catholic Theological Society of America and an award-winning scholar, responded in a statement: “I can only clarify that the book was not intended to be an expression of current official Catholic teaching, nor was it aimed specifically against this teaching. It is of a different genre altogether.”

The book, she said, offers “contemporary interpretations” of justice and fairness in human sexual relations, moving away from a “taboo morality” and drawing on “present-day scientific, philosophical, theological, and biblical resources.”

On the plus side, because the Catholic hierarchy is totally ignorant of the Streisand effect, their official censure of Sister Farley’s book has catapulted it into the Amazon best sellers list.

 


Is Pleasure a Sin? – Thoughts on Maureen Dowd’s NYTimes column

Columnist Maureen Dowd addresses a question that has been on my mind a lot recently.  The headline is a little misleading, and I think that she doesn’t give the real question enough time, but the facts that she points out are illustrative.

Is Pleasure a Sin? – NYTimes.com.

From the column:

“Just Love: a Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics,” by Sister Margaret Farley — a 77-year-old professor emeritus at Yale’s Divinity School, a past president of the Catholic Theological Society of America and an award-winning scholar — came out in 2006.

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, which seems as hostile to women as the Saudi Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, spent years pondering it, then censured it on March 30 but didn’t publicly release the statement until Monday.

The denunciation of Sister Farley’s book is based on the fact that she deals with the modern world as it is. She refuses to fall in line with a Vatican rigidly clinging to an inbred, illusory world where men rule with no backtalk from women, gays are deviants, the divorced can’t remarry, men and women can’t use contraception, masturbation is a grave disorder and celibacy is enshrined, even as a global pedophilia scandal rages.

Dowd then contrasts the focus of Sister Farley’s book, and the hierarchy’s response to it, with this:

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York blasted The New York Times after Laurie Goodstein wrote that, as the archbishop of Milwaukee in 2003, he authorized payments of up to $20,000 to sexually abusive priests “as an incentive for them to agree to dismissal from the priesthood.”

Cardinal Dolan insisted through a spokesman that it was “charity,” not “payoffs.” But if you were the parent of a boy abused by a priest who went away with 20,000 bucks, maybe “charity” is not the word that would come to mind.

Its crisis has made the church cruel. The hierarchy should read Sister Farley’s opprobrium against adults harming vulnerable children and adolescents by sexually exploiting them; respect for the individual and requirement of free consent, she says, mean that rape, violence and pedophilia against unwilling victims are never justified.

Dowd’s ultimate point is that the Catholic Church has lost track of right and wrong, which is obviously true.  However, what she misses is that in terms of personal relationships and human sexuality, the Catholic Church has never been concerned with questions of right and wrong.  They are now, and always have been, concerned with the question of personal hierarchies; that is, which persons are not permitted to have agency or control over themselves.

In Sister Farley’s world, we are all agents of our own lives.  In the Catholic Church’s world we are not, women and children especially.  It isn’t difficult to see why the Church is prioritizing the punishment of uppity nuns over the punishment of child raping priests.  Men, and priests in particular, are allowed to make such errors.  Priests raping children does not upset the Catholic hierarchy’s view of the world.  It is the place of women and children to accept the dominion of these men over them, and to do so without complaining or requiring recognition as being fully human also.  To the Church, these personal hierarchies are an unchangeable truth.  Uppity nuns, on the other hand, threaten these systems of domination in a way that threatens the church.  If enough Catholics truly believed that we are all agents of our own lives, the systems that support Catholic authority would be decimated, and the Church would eventually disappear.

This is what the Catholic Church is, and what it always will be.


Mitt Romney: Sociopath or just Chet from Weird Science?

Today I read this:

Mitt Romney’s prep school classmates recall pranks, but also troubling incidents

..and it honestly freaked me right out.

It’s a Washington Post article by Jason Horowitz about how Mitt Romney was (and probably still is) a total sociopath during his tony prep school days.  In one incident, memorable to all who participated (except for Mitt Romney who claims no recollection), Mittens led a small horde of other prep school students into an assault on another student.  Apparently the other student, a year behind Mitt in school, had returned from spring break with floppy, bleached blonde hair, which was unacceptable to young Mittens.  Our fearless psychopath and wannabe POTUS led an assault on the kid, and while his crew held the guy down, Mitt cut off his hair.

What the hell.

Anyway, after picking my jaw up off the floor, in an effort to save my sanity, my brain made an inevitable connection.  Watch the following video and try to deny that Mitt and Chet are the same goddamned person.

 


Another great book that is going on my Kindle queue is Maggie Koerth-Baker’s Before the Lights Go Out: Conquering the Energy Crisis Before it Conquers Us. I am so ridiculously excited to see someone talking about the real costs of fossil fuels, including health and environmental costs. Anyway, another fine author interview on Grist. Yay!


Boston Review — Corey Robin and David V. Johnson: Contraception and Counterrevolution The Reactionary Mind, conservatism

Lovely interview with Corey Robin, the author of The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin.  He makes an excellent point, flagged on Digby’s Hullaballoo, which is that although liberals frequently express astonishment at what we perceive to be the conservative base voting against their own self-interest, this is not necessarily true.

As Robin notes in the interview:

I don’t have a theory of false consciousness; I don’t think anyone’s being distracted. I think the right really does deliver the goods of power and privilege to more than an elite class. And the way it does that is often through the private life of power, the slave plantation being, of course, the most obvious form, but the family and the workplace also being critically central. Burke understood this—that our identity is a historical inheritance, and one of the main aspects of that inheritance is this private relationship of power and domination. And that relationship is so close to us that to give it up would really be a form of self-destruction.

And as Digby further states, noting that conservatives have a different definition of what their self-interest is:

They believe that giving up their private power would be far more destructive than giving up political power. Sure, right wing politicians are all liars and cheats and do anything they can to hold on to their public power. That’s the gig. But to the true believers their central concern is losing the privilege that defines them. And it isn’t really about money, although that’s tangentially part of it. It’s about hierarchy, status and dominion.

Click the link for the entire interview, which is great reading.  I know what I’m downloading onto my Kindle next.

Boston Review — Corey Robin and David V. Johnson: Contraception and Counterrevolution The Reactionary Mind, conservatism.


John Boehner and NOM

In an editorial today, the New York Times takes note of the horrific contents of unsealed National Organization for Marriage (NOM) memos, pointing out that the contents of the memos clearly identify NOM as a purely political organization, despite its claim to be a social welfare organization.

Among the highlights are the following:

The documents brag about its “crucial” role in passage of Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage that was overturned by a federal appeals court. They describe the group’s use of “robo-calls” to scare residents in different states away from supporting marriage equality. They talk of a plan to “expose Obama as a social radical,” but the most appalling portions deal with the group’s racially and ethnically divisive strategies.

“The strategic goal of the project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks — two key Democratic constituencies,” says one memo.

Another stated aim is to manipulate Hispanic voters by making the exclusion of gay people from marriage “a key badge of Latino identity.”

Although I am sure that the evidence, as usual, will fail to convince those who need convincing, it should be painfully obvious that NOM consists of horrible, hateful people whose entire existence revolves around constant attempts to insure that other people are miserable and oppressed.

However, I took special note of the paragraph following the above, in which the NYT noted that House Speaker John Boehner recently appointed NOM’s co-founder, Robert George, to a U.S. commission “focused on addressing religious intolerance and extremism around the globe.”  This is the same Speaker Boehner who is wasting hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to defend the indefensible DOMA in court.

Aside from the obvious prejudice and desire to oppress and marginalize, I do wonder what’s the connection between Boehner and NOM?


Voice of Choice – turnabout on anti-abortion harassment is fair play

Fantastic article in the Washington Post on how the landlord of an abortion clinic chose to respond to anti-abortion harassment:

A clinic’s landlord turns the tables on anti-abortion protesters – The Washington Post.

Todd Stave owns the building in which LeRoy Carhart operates.  Carhart is one of the few doctors in the country who does late-term abortions.  In addition to protesting at the clinic, the forced pregnancy freak show began harassing Stave, including calling him at home and showing up at his daughter’s school.  In response, Stave recorded the telephone numbers and addresses of the people who were harassing him, and distributed them to what began as a small group of friends, who then called the harassers at home.  Since then, the group has gotten much bigger.  Stave founded an organization called Voice of Choice, and its thousands of volunteers will respond, in a calm and measured way, to the harassing tactics of the forced pregnancy crowd.

I love this guy.


Why knowing about ALEC is important

Paul Krugman has a must-read piece up on the influence of the shadowy corporate-sponsored group, American Legislative Exchange Council (“ALEC”), on state legislatures.

For one thing, the “shoot first, avoid arrest” bill that has allowed Trayvon Martin’s killer to avoid charges was drafted by ALEC.  ALEC has also provided multiple state legislatures with voter ID bills intended to suppress the votes of minorities, the poor, and the elderly.  It should be a surprise to no one that many members of ALEC are the corporations that are bring us the privatized prison-industrial complex, and who are also bringing us privatized, for-profit schools that are bringing profits to its members at the expense of actual education.

We are looking at a very, very bleak future for the vast majority of our citizens if ALEC continues to write our state’s laws unchecked.


Catholics rally to continue taking public tax money while imposing medieval religious values on non-Catholics

Today I am (relatively) hard at work at my desk.  The weather here in Chicago has taken a turn from the sunny, late spring-like days of the past week to rainy and chilly.  So I am surprised to hear chanting and screaming coming in through the thick glass of my 20th floor window.

Oh.  It’s the local “pro-lifers,” egged on by our home-grown Pro-Life Action League, rallying for the freedom to continue sucking at the public teat while denying access to contraception through their insurance coverage to their non-Catholic employees.  Hilariously and ironically, one of their loudest chants is the word “freedom.”  Today’s ridiculous, riddled-with-irony rally has provoked irritation, contempt, frustration, and a certain sense of “how can this be a real thing in the world” bemusement.

It is a fact that no actual churches will be required to provide contraception coverage through their insurance programs.  It is also a fact that there is no government mandate that Catholics actually avail themselves of contraception.

On the other hand, institutions such as hospitals, which are publicly funded to a substantial degree, and which provide services to the general public are and should be required to follow the same standards as every other large employer.

You know what?  If the Catholic church wants the right to impose its asinine religious values on all of its employees, it needs to wean itself off public money.  Until then, they can really go fuck themselves.  The Catholic hierarchy is a deeply morally troubled institution, and their continued insistence that they have any sort of moral authority is just fucking laughable.  The idea that any Catholic employer’s minimal contributions to its employees’ health insurance programs violates the institution’s conscience is so fucking ridiculous that I find it difficult to believe that anyone, anywhere is falling for it.  It’s insurance coverage.  It’s a benefit of employment.  If we accept this brain-damaged argument that the employer’s portion of health insurance premium contributions violates religious principles, then surely the paychecks that go to employees who might use contraception is an even more egregious violation.  After all, there isn’t even the middle man of the insurance company standing between the flow of money from the institution to the employee.

We live in a bizarre, bizarre universe.


Ladies heading into the election season, never forget that Republicans hate you!

The same Wisconsin Republican shitheel legislators, Glenn Grothman and Don Pridemore, famous previously for introducing Senate Bill 507, which specifically blames single mothers for child abuse, are now on the record as discouraging women from seeking divorce, even in instances of abuse.

Pridemore, in his infinite wisdom, helpfully explained that abused women should just send their thoughts back to what originally attracted them to their husbands to begin with.

Close your eyes and think of England, ladies.


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