Indiana realizes it screwed up

After passing the Hate Bill, Indiana now realizes that it screwed up, but not out of morally mediated compunction, but because of the firestorm of excoriating comments, threatens of boycotts, real boycotts (e.g., Angie’s List is putting its Indiana expansion on hold), and even criticism from a basketball idol:

Former NBA star Charles Barkley added his voice to the debate.

“Discrimination in any form is unacceptable to me,” he said. “As long as anti-gay legislation exists in any state, I strongly believe big events such as the Final Four and Super Bowl should not be held in those states’ cities.”

And make no mistake about it: this was intended to be anti-gay legislation, despite the lying denial by Indiana governor Mike Pence. It was prompted by the legalization of gay marriage in Indiana, and the lobbyists (see yesterday’s post) included some particularly vicious homophobes. Now legislators who favored the bill (damn Republicans, of course) see their mistake, and are backpedalling fast. According to Yahoo News:

Republican legislative leaders said they are working on adding language to the religious-objections law to make it clear that the measure does not allow discrimination against gays and lesbians. As signed by Pence last week, the measure prohibits state laws that “substantially burden” a person’s ability to follow his or her religious beliefs. The definition of “person” includes religious institutions, businesses and associations.

“What we had hoped for with the bill was a message of inclusion, inclusion of all religious beliefs,” Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma said. “What instead has come out is a message of exclusion, and that was not the intent.”

The efforts fell flat with Democrats, who called for a repeal, and even some Republicans.

“They’re scrambling to put a good face on a bad issue. What puzzles me is how this effort came to the top of the legislative agenda when clearly the business community doesn’t support it,” said Bill Oesterle, an aide to Republican former Gov. Mitch Daniels and CEO of consumer reporting agency Angie’s List, which canceled expansion plans in Indianapolis because of the law.

There are, for instance, tw**ts like this:

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 6.58.10 AM

Sadly, that’s not quite accurate, for while it’s illegal to refuse blacks at places of public accommodation and service, it may now be legal in Indiana to refuse to serve gays on religious grounds (whether a restaurant can turn away gay customers has yet to be adjuciated). There are similar laws in 19 other states, although there’s variation in the degree to which companies or individuals must abide by them. Indiana’s law apparently has the broadest effects.

Designed to protect religious minorities from discrimination, “religious freedom laws” have in effect served to bolster the right of a majority faith, Christians, to discriminate against anyone deemed religiously offensive. How does “protecting religious freedom” become the right to impose one’s religious views on others? Does it really protect your religious freedom to prevent employees from getting medical contraceptive care?

Similar bills are pending in North Carolina, Arkansas, and Georgia. The problem with all of these states is that they’re fighting a futile rearguard action against the tide of anti-discrimination and pro-gay-rights sentiment that is sweeping the U.S. If the Supreme Court says that gay marriage is legal (and, despite their conservatism, I think it will), then the game’s over. These Court may still allow discrimination of the Hobby Lobby form, but eventually that, too, will be overturned.

To see an acrimonious CNN interview on the new law, featuring Ryan McCann, the policy director of the anti-gay Indiana Family Institute, click on the screenshot below. The guy is a slippery homophobe, and is obviously lying:

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 8.48.22 AM

Finally, on a lighter note, here’s a Google+ posts on the issue:

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 6.56.29 AM

h/t: Michael

More universities in favor of pro-ISIS clubs

UPDATE: Ethan Epstein, a reader, noted that “I think you’re being a bit too credulous about the O’Keefe ISIS videos. I wrote a little blog post about it at yes, The Weekly Standard“, and he makes some good points. So I’m adding the link to this post.

If you’re one of those people who immediately reject anything reported by an organization like Project Veritas, don’t watch this video. (But I’d add that you’re putting your fingers in your ears and screaming “nah-nah-nah-nah”, for even an execrable right-wing organization can reveal some bad stuff.) And yes, these videos taken in Florida colleges, showing student advisors and administrators giving tacit approval of pro-ISIS clubs, may be dishonestly edited. But are you going to refuse to watch because of the source? What if they are accurate?

I don’t know myself, but I’m willing to at least consider the possibility until the facts are in.

h/t: Malgorzata

Another atheist blogger hacked to death in Bangladesh

I hadn’t posted on this because I assume that readers here also look at other secular websites, and many of those have written about the death of another atheist blogger, Washiqur Rahman, a 27-year-old who was hacked to death in Dhaka with machetes. (This of course also happened last month to Avijit Roy, another Bangladeshi atheist.) Rather than reprise the news, I send you to Heather Hastie’s extensive report on the murders, with the note that I of course share her outrage.

Chalk this up to another life that wouldn’t have been lost in a world without religion. Apostasy is only possible when there is faith.

RIP Thomasina, a beloved cat

Yesterday reader “pghwelshgirl” commented in the Hili thread that her beloved cat Thomasina had died at the age of eight.  The cause was sudden hind limb paralysis caused by a “saddle thrombosis” (a blood clot), and pghwelshgirl added that if you see this in your cat, get it to a vet immediately. Sadly, Thomasina didn’t make it, and her staff added this comment (pghwelshgirl was involved with cat rescue for many years):

Thomasina came to us with a kindle of stray kittens and their mom eight years ago, back when we were doing rescue work. She was scrawny, sick with URI, and about the most unattractive kitten I’d ever seen. But she responded to meds and love, and blossomed into a beauty a few months later. All the other cats found homes, and when Thomasina was still with us months later, we decided to keep her. She looked very much like the cat in “Pussycat’s Christmas”. [JAC: Image below]

She was the only one of our cats who didn’t have any behavioral or medical issues. If anyone had told me that we’d lose a cat this week, Thomasina would have been the last cat I’d have guessed. She’s lying under a handknit cat blanket with some sprigs of rosemary over her gentle loving heart until I make the call to arrange her cremation.

Give all your moggies an extra snuggle today.

That’s always a good idea. Pghwelshgirl added in a separate email:
I’ve had cats all my adult life, have always had multiple cat household, and did foster/rescue for a couple of years.  So I’ve said goodbye to over 15 at this point – from young adults to one who lived to 20 1/2.  The old age, natural deaths are sad but bearable – it’s the young cats, the cancers, the no-warning ones (like Thomasina) – that are harder to incorporate.

I requested a photo to give the cat a proper memorial, and got two old photos and this response:

I was chagrined to find that I had no recent photo of Thomasina.  For the past few years, The Joy of Cats has been more often been the Heartbreak, Expense, or Chaos of Cats.  Not that there haven’t been compensations, even triumphs – like the two FIV+ cats who are now thriving.  But we’ve experienced some extraordinary medical and other complications with several cats, and taking photos has fallen to the wayside.
Two photos are attached:  first one is Thomasina in her still-awkward kitten stage, about 8 weeks old.  Second one is when she was about 5 months old and really blossoming.
She and her brother Squealer never actually meowed, but made a kind of aspirant “ah” sound.  I used to ask her “What does Thomasina say?”  and she would usually oblige me by “ahhing” in response.  I thought I would be asking her that question for many more years.

All_20070523203434_108 - Thomasina

All_20070916100311_68 - Thomasina

RIP Thomasina—with her lovely ruff and funny voice.

And here’s the cat from the highly rated children’s book “A Pussycat’s Christmas“:


Google Doodle celebrates opening of the Eiffel Tower

Today’s Google Doodle (screenshot below, click on it to go to it) celebrates the 126th anniversary to the day of the opening of the Eiffel Tower.  And it’s a particularly lovely one, isn’t it?:

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 6.07.23 AMAs Time Magazine notes:

Construction of the iron lattice structure, named after engineer Gustave Eiffel, began on Jan. 28, 1887. Despite the early protests, the tower was an instant hit, with an estimated 30,000 people climbing its steps in the first weeks — before even an elevator was installed.

Eventually, it grew into a worldwide landmark; as TIME wrote during last year’s 125th anniversary celebrations, “the tower became more than a tower, and more than a symbol of Paris.”

At 1,063 ft. high, it was the tallest man-made structure in the world for over four decades, until it was surpassed by New York City’s Chrysler Building in 1930.

The Doodle itself features a group of supposedly French painters hanging precariously from the tower as they beautify the Grande Dame of Paris.

But they left out the artist, which The Guardian helpfully supplies:

The doodle, by French visual development artist Floriane Marchix [JAC: Her website is here], shows the tower being painted by cheery workmen in berets and overalls, swinging from the tower.

I have to confess that although I must have lived in Paris for a year in the three long stints I was there, I never went up the tower, nor had the desire to (there’s also a restaurant, the Jules Verne, halfway up, and it’s said to be good).  And if you’re somewhat morbid, you’ll want to know that jumping off the Tower is the third most popular means of suicide in France, after hanging and poisoning. A happier note: one woman who jumped survived after landing on the roof of a car, and later married the owner of the car!


Tuesday: Hili dialogue

Tuesday’s Cat is full of mice.  But today in Dobrzyn, Hili and Cyrus are secretly planning to purloin some beef.  Their conversation shows the difference between cats and d*gs:

Cyrus: There is a piece of beef in the fridge.
Hili: When they open the fridge to take something out, I’ll jump inside.
Cyrus: No, we have to prevail on their better nature and get them to act.

P1020443 In Polish:

Cyrus: W lodówce jest wołowina.
Hili: Jak będą coś wyjmować, to ja tam wskoczę.
Cyrusa: Nie, trzeba zmiękczyć ich serca i zmusić ich do czynu.



I really like this photo sent in by reader Barry.  The possibilities are endless!


Following right along. . . .

Reader Pliny the In Between’s take on the Indiana “We Hate Gays” law:

Toon Backgroundbsing.001

Bill Maher calls out the weaknesses of liberalism

I have mixed feelings about this clip by Bill Maher decrying the “politically correct” Left, but I’m putting it up for comments. (Several readers sent it to me.)

I do think that the Left is in danger of fragmenting itself via identity politics, but some of the comments that people found distasteful—like Dolce and Gabbana’s remarks about “synthetic children”—do bother me. On the other hand, to blow those verbal missteps into huge rage-laden issues fragments what unity is left on the Left, and maybe we should just learn to hold our noses and focus.

Who lobbied Indiana’s governor Pence to sign the pro-discrimination bill? He ain’t saying.

Three days ago I posted a picture of the signing of Indiana’s “Religious Freedom Restoration Bill” by governor Mike Pence:


Apparently there was another photo, too, with a different group of “guests” at the signing, including lobbyists  And some of those guests were identified by the GLAAD Facebook page with the caption, “Some of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s guests at the signing of the state’s ‘license to discriminate’ bill look familiar to us.” (GLAAD’s former name was “Gay & Lesbian Alliance against defamation”.)


To make it easier for you to see what these people have said about homosexuality, here are the links (note—it ain’t pretty!):

Curt Smith
Eric Miller
Micah Clark

Note that, according to GLAAD, Governor Pence refused to identify lobbyists in the photo when asked by the Indianapolis Star newspaper  That is indeed the case, for here’s the Star‘s article verifying it:

Who did Gov. Mike Pence invite to a private ceremony at his Statehouse office for the signing of a controversial “religious freedom” bill?

His office won’t say.

The event was closed to the public and the press. His staff even told a reporter to leave the governor’s office lobby/waiting area during the ceremony. And when asked for a list of attendees, they declined, promising a photograph would be posted on Pence’s Twitter account.

His office then declined to identify those in the photo.

The photo includes Pence sitting at his desk, surrounded by 18 others. The legislation’s primary sponsors – Sen. Scott Schneider, Sen. Dennis Kruse, and Rep. Tim Wesco – are pictured. So, too are several Franciscan monks, nuns, and orthodox Jews. One of the monks appears to be Fr. David Mary Engo of the Franciscan Brothers Minor in New Haven. He testified in favor of the bill during legislative hearings.

But according to people who attended, there were dozens of others present as well, perhaps as many as 80 total.

Another photograph, posted on Twitter by the American Family Association of Indiana’s Micah Clark, shows Pence at his desk surrounded by a different group. They include the state’s three most prominent lobbyists on conservative social issues: Clark, the Indiana Family Institute’s Curt Smith, and Advance America’s Eric Miller.

Those three, with their connections to a vast network of conservative churches, led a failed effort last year to ban same-sex marriage in Indiana’s constitution. The governor has tried to distance the religious freedom legislation from that issue.

Pence is a real piece of work: a dissimulator and a liar who continues to deny both that the new bill legalizes discrimination or that it was motivated by animus against gays. However, both of those happen to be true.

As Pundit Fact reports:

At least five times Sunday, ABC This Week host George Stephanopoulos asked Indiana Gov. Mike Pence a variant on a simple question about Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act: “If a florist in Indiana refuses to serve a gay couple at their wedding, is that legal now in Indiana?”

And at least five times, Pence would not answer.

The article goes on to analyze how this bill differs from those of other states, and fact-checks claims by Pence and others about it.  It’s well worth reading.

This, of course, is the predictable outcome of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case, which ruled that a family-owned business could, on religious grounds, refuse to pay for contraceptive care for its employees. That opened a whole can of worms, which allows the damn Republicans to follow suit everywhere, denying gays equal protection. How far one can legalize this kind of unconscionable discrimination is unknown, but there will be plenty of cases. And if you can discriminate against gays on religious grounds, who else can you discriminate against?

To show the pervasiveness of this kind of discrimination, and the baffling animus against gays (I can understand it only as a byproduct of religious “morality”), here are two comments that people attempted to post on this site in the last three days:

From reader “R.C.”:

I’m thrilled about this new bill! Go Pence! Indiana is putting an end to LGBT “rights” insanity.

And from reader “DesertDaave”:

Perhaps in Indiana, I, a cake baker, can now choose to not bake a wedding cake specifically depicting a same sex marriage. Or, I a florist, don’t have to deliver flowwers [sic] to celebrate a gay marriage.

So fricken’ what? There are lots of bakers and lots of flowers. Why should the baker of the florist have to recognize what he or she believes is sinful.

As to the rest of what the haters are ranting, it just isn’t true.

Read and pay attention to this: [link to piece on religious freedom laws].

As a side note, I believe that those who have sued and received damages have deliberately gone to those they knew wouldn’t do it, just to create a legal issue. Freedom goes both ways you know or should.

“What he or she believes is sinful”? Seriously? What if Christians think that Jews are sinful by denying the Messiah Jesus Christ? Can they discriminate against Jews? As for those who were discriminated against and sued, I don’t believe for a minute that they planned it.

h/t: Amy


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