Keep Akin in the race!

Everyone has heard about Akin’s comments about “legitimate rape” and the push now coming from the GOP to get him out of the race. But is this really fair or ideal? The problem with removing Akin from the race over this is that his gaffe was not just one exposing his scientific ignorance, but because it was a Kinsley gaffe. That is, it’s a gaffe because it unintentionally revealed the truth.
I’m not saying that his medieval medical hypothesis has any scientific validity, he is after all just parroting pro-life misinformation spread to attack scientific data about the frequency of pregnancy after rape. The Kinsley gaffe in this case is that he revealed the truth about what he, and other pro-life politicians who support no-exception abortion bans, believe.
Why should we punish this truth-telling with removal of Akin from the race? All that will happen is that the GOP will replace Akin with another pro-life fanatic who is simply better at hiding what he actually believes about women, reproduction, sexual assault, and their autonomy over their own bodies.
I’m thankful for Akin’s honesty, because he has dropped the facade that the radical right cares about women, respects their autonomy, understands sexual assault or has any place in this century. He has pulled back the curtain and shown what they really believe. Other examples of this attitude abound, from the abusive ultrasound bills, to this comment from Idaho Republican Chuck Winder in March wondering if women even know what rape is, to American Vision’s comparison of the blowback against Akin as “like gang-rape”. He has only further exposed the misogyny of the pro-life movement and brought some of their more despicable lies front and center for all to see. We should be thanking him for his honesty.

Rejecting Homosexual Children Results in Disastrous Health Outcomes – An Appeal to Parents

Blogging on Peer-Reviewed Research

Not infrequently, science butts heads with culture as the data scientists collect about issues of the day may conflict with cultural perceptions and deeply-held beliefs. Attitudes and perceptions about homosexuality are, not surprisingly, a source of denialism as certain overvalued ideas about sexuality are being challenged with our deeper understanding of human sexual desire. For one, homosexuality is not a choice, despite all attempts to reprogram or suppress homosexual desires, the desires do not go away. One might even hypothesize the attempts to repress or disparage such a fundamental aspect of someone’s identity might cause harm long term and result in negative health outcomes. Sure enough, this article published in the journal Pediatrics last week suggests this is in fact the case, and I believe we must begin to view the rejection of homosexuality by parents as not just as small-minded, but actively harmful, constituting child abuse that has long term implications on their childrens’ health.

The authors identified 224 gay and lesbian youths between 21 and 25 years of age and using surveys to evaluate for high risk behaviors, mental health and levels of rejection by family, they found some startling patterns…

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What the family values folks don’t get about family

On the weekends, my four-year old daughter comes to work with me. There isn’t much for her to do. She certainly isn’t allowed in patient rooms. She doesn’t help me make medical decisions. But we spend twenty minutes each way in the car laughing. We walk around the hospital, everyone greeting her, everyone her friend. One time, when she was actually admitted to the hospital, she wasn’t scared at all because, “all my friends are there.”

Friday night, we went to services. My mother-in-law was singing, and she asked us to come. Normally, I’m not one for formal religious observances—it’s just not my thing. So rather than contemplating the nature of the universe, I watched my family. My daughter ran around saying “hi” to all of her friends (that’s everyone), cuddled her grandfather, sat on her pre-school teacher’s lap, played with her cousin. It was about family.

When she is having one of her tantrums, and my wife can’t possibly take another minute of it, we trade places. When it’s all over, we all climb in bed together and cuddle and laugh. It’s family.

I was watching Dan Savage and and some Family Research Council talking head on Anderson Cooper the other night. The were talking about the Prop 8 debacle in California, and it finally hit me for the first time—the “family values” groups have no idea what family is, not even a clue.

If you read their websites, James Dobson and others are always talking about things like “Three Lies About Sex Before Marriage”, “Pornography”, and “The Gay Revisionist Agenda”.

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Mike Leavitt to patients: “F*** you”

A number of us in the blogosphere have been outraged by Bush’s Department of Health and Human Services’ desire to put the arbitrary wants of doctors before the needs of patients. At first it was just a draft proposal, but now Mike Leavitt is pushing to implement the changes. Soon, it may be legally acceptable to deny you a needed health service because the health care provider thinks your decisions are immoral.

I’ve already written several times about why there can be no “conscientious objectors” in health care. This law would essentially allow doctors to ignore the standard of care set by their professional organizations. Let’s hear a bit from Leavitt himself:
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A hint of sanity from McCain

John McCain has succumbed to sanity—or perhaps to political expediency. Either way, he has finally rejected the endorsement of Pastor John Hagee. If you’ll recall, Hagee is one of those wacko cult leaders on the right-hand side of the Evangelical movement (I hope). He hates Catholics, and thinks Jews are just great! (That is, if you think “great” means “responsible for their own near-extermination”, and “founding Israel so that they can hasten the return of Christ and be sucked into Hell at a later date.”)

I suppose I don’t really care what McCain’s motivation was for dumping Hagee—I’m just glad he did.

Values Voters and Neo Nazis

I see that I’m in good company in my curiosity about why Ron Paul enjoys so much crank magnetism. And his crank magnetism and appeal to racist groups can’t be denied. Here for instance, is Ron Paul posing with Don Black, culled from the neo-nazi Stormfront website:


Now, I think its unlikely Ron Paul knew who this was when he posed for this shot, but between this and their endorsement of Paul on Stormfront radio, I think it’s pretty well confirmed who their candidate is. Also note, this picture was taken at the “Values Voters Presidential Debate” just as a reminder of who “Values Voters” debates appeal to.

One of my commenters, quoting Digby, made the point that Ron Paul support isn’t so much a political position as a sign of disaffection. Based on the wide political spectrum of cranks that seem to think this anti-government radical is their guy (including the poorly-named Reason magazine as PZ points out) I think Digby’s assessment is the correct one. Cranks recognize one of their own.

I’m not actually concerned about Ron Paul’s candidacy, I believe his appeal is overblown as any real exposure to his beliefs will turn off the 95% who realize such a fervently anti-government radical libertarian would be the worst candidate one could conceivably elect. He scores easy points at these debates mocking the rather pathetic Republican presidential field and appealing to the people’s populist sentiments, but underneath this facade is a crank, and crank candidates rarely poll higher than about 5-10% (and I include Nader in this category – deal with it). So while it’s been fun mocking this also-ran all week, I don’t think we’ll be seeing much more of this guy after Iowa and New Hampshire.

Now I can’t wait to see the Golden Compass (what kind of daemon do you have?)

It’s already got the fundamentalists up in arms. Apparently, one of them managed to read something outside the accepted cannon of Christ-like books and now they’re all bothered about the December 7th release (see trailer) of the first installment of Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy – the Golden Compass (IMDB).

According to, leading atheist writers and intellectuals are engaged in a “scientific” quest to ultimately destroy organized religion, particularly Christianity. Oxford professor Richard Dawkins, author Sam Harris and journalist Christopher Hitchens are some of the big names leading this “new atheism” initiative. Evidence of their agenda is seen in efforts such as the Out Campaign and the Blasphemy Challenge.

Pullman’s book trilogy is the story of “a battle against the church and a fight to overthrow God,” BBC News reported. The Guardian, a British newspaper, goes even further to describe the books as “metaphysical fantasies encompassing parallel worlds, the death of God and the fall of man ….”

Therefore, without yet seeing the film, at least one pro-family group — the American Family Association — is alerting Christians to the potential dangers of The Golden Compass. Because of Pullman’s clearly articulated anti-Christian motives, AFA is warning all viewers to run from the film.

The Golden Compass is set in an alternative world with a sinister Magisterium. It is about a girl named Lyra who sets out to rescue her friend Roger who has been kidnapped by an organization known as the Gobblers. Roger’s rescue turns into an epic quest to save two different worlds — one in which people’s souls manifest themselves as animals. These manifestations are known as “daemons,” and Pullman says they help a person grow toward wisdom.

In addition, the movie website allows visitors to answer a set of questions and create their own daemons that journey alongside them in life.

“One of the [book] series’ main themes — the rejection of organized religion and in particular the abuse of power within the Catholic Church — is to be watered down,” according to the Telegraph, a newspaper in the U.K. “But when the film is released in December the Magisterium will be shown as a critique of all dogmatic organizations, thereby avoiding a religious backlash.”

I’ve got to say I’m excited after seeing the trailer, because it looks beautiful, and it’s got damn good casting. Nicole Kidman is a perfect choice for Coulter (no not that one – don’t worry) Daniel Craig is an excellent choice, if a bit young, for Asriel, and Sam Elliot couldn’t be more fitting a choice for the Texan Lee Scorsby. Ian McKellen is even voicing Iorek.

It’s a funny double-standard the AFA and others objecting, after all, if the Chronicles of Narnia is acceptable as a children’s movie despite the Christian dogmatism inherent in the plot (and purposefully placed their by C.S. Lewis), surely atheists are allowed to have a film that discourages dogmatism (purposefully placed their by Pullman). Isn’t it only fair? We’ll have a poll after this comes out, which is better. I found Narnia to be insipid and bland. Hopefully they won’t be to scared of offending the religious to give these films an edge.

Either way, I can think of no better advertisement for a movie for kids than the AFA saying it’s bad for them.

Here’s the site to design your daemon by the way. My daemon’s name isClymonistra, and she’s a tiger.

Another monkey put in charge of the zoo

WaPo reports on the appointment of Susan Orr:

The Bush administration again has appointed a chief of family planning programs at the Department of Health and Human Services who has been critical of contraception.

Susan Orr, most recently an associate commissioner in the Administration for Children and Families, was appointed Monday to be acting deputy assistant secretary for population affairs. She will oversee $283 million in annual grants to provide low-income families and others with contraceptive services, counseling and preventive screenings.

In a 2001 article in The Washington Post, Orr applauded a Bush proposal to stop requiring all health insurance plans for federal employees to cover a broad range of birth control. “We’re quite pleased, because fertility is not a disease,” said Orr, then an official with the Family Research Council.

The Family Research Council. Why should I be surprised? When they’re not sending Charmaine Yoest out to lie about Plan B, or trying to hide where their chief Tony Perkins looks for political support (*cough* David Duke *cough*), they’re bashing gays or women’s rights.

Yes, fertility is not a disease, but it is a problem. Women simply don’t want to push out a baby a year for their entire reproductive lifetime. And who can blame them?

The motives of the FRC are pretty clear, disempower women, suggest they’re bad parents if they don’t stay home at the beck and call of their rugrats, keep them pregnant for 30 years, out of the workplace, and subservient to men. Think I’m kidding? Why the vehement opposition to birth control? It prevents conception – you’d think they’d approve. Why should they oppose contraception if not to tie women down by the uterus? Or to deny them from possessing sexual power equivalent to men?

Support our troops! Don’t let them have Playboy!

They’re fighting for our freedoms. And in order to fight for our freedoms, thousands of miles away from home, thousands of miles from their sweethearts and husbands/wives, they must be kept pure and without sin. Therefore, Christian groups demand the military not allow PX stores to sell porn (aka Playboy).

A Christian advocacy group is encouraging military families, and other concerned citizens, to write letters to the Defense Department expressing concern over the recent decision by the Pentagon that allows the sale of certain adult magazines at military exchanges.

Trueman says the Alliance Defense Fund is encouraging citizens to get involved in this fight over this pornography policy. “What we’re going to do is try to get more and more complaints into the military about this policy. Because in justifying this policy by the military what they’ve said [is] they’ve had few complaints from families about the sale of pornography in the military,” he says.

Trueman says sexual harassment and other problems in the military are exacerbated by pornography. He says this new policy, of deeming magazines like Penthouse and Playboy as not sexually explicit, counters common sense.

Gambling on military bases is ok though, because what could they do better with their hard-earned cash? Surely, not send it home to family or save it, instead it’s best if casinos on bases ensure their paychecks end up right back in military coffers. It’s the best possible situation, because then they have less to spend on porn.

So support these heroic family values groups and their all-important crusade to keep our fighting men and women in Iraq, adults all, free from access to magazines that might show nudity. They must remain chaste over there, so that we can freely abuse ourselves over here.

Dobson Latches onto Ex-Gay study – Exaggerates Results

Why can’t people just be bigots and not demand science reinforce their bigotry? James Dobson is promoting the Exodus Ex-Gay study (reviewed by Jim Burroway here). You remember the study? The one where they ignore all the people that dropped out? The one where success also included chastity, or merely staying with the program despite not changing sexuality? The one where “conversion” left participants still sexually conflicted? Yeah, that one, is being promoted as proof that Dobson is right.

Focus on the Family, the Colorado Springs-based Christian media ministry, on Monday endorsed a recent study finding that it is possible, through religious mediation, to change one’s sexual orientation.

“This study bolsters our position of advocating for people’s right to self-determination,” said Melissa Fryrear, director of Focus’ Gender Issues Department, in a statement.

Focus on the Family is a worldwide media ministry broadcasting in 26 languages.

The results were more promising than expected, with 67 percent of study participants reporting “a change toward heterosexual orientation or … successfully continuing to work towards that goal,” Fryrear said.

Study findings were first released last week in a book, “Ex–Gays? A Longitudinal Study of Religiously Mediated Change in Sexual Orientation.”

Only a tiny minority of participants actually experienced a meaningful change and they were still conflicted. This is a gross inflation of success. The study, read accurately, suggests exactly 0% of gays can be converted to heterosexuals, was flawed in execution, and manipulated to pose the brightest possible picture for the cranks.

This is why family values associations are so disgusting. That in the name of values they unabashedly lie and mislead to suit their bigotry.