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On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll have Martha Kempner on to talk about this new switch from the phrase “unprotected sex” to “condomless sex.” The anti-gay bills cropping up around the country are a continuation of the same principle that justifies the attacks on the contraception mandate, and why does Fox News keep misrepresenting the Girl Scouts?
Rachel Maddow had an extremely important report on what appears to be the rise in illegal abortions.
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As you can imagine, the mother is being charged with illegal abortion. Here’s the thing to keep in mind: Most of the illegal abortions done with drugs bought online go off without any problems. For those that result in an E.R. visit, most of the time, the doctors won’t even know because it looks like a miscarriage. So for every case that happens like this, dozens and maybe hundreds are happening with no one noticing. For all we know, that could soon turn into thousands.
For months now, I’ve been warning, on this podcast and elsewhere, that the claim that the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act was a violation of religious freedom was never going to stay restricted to the issue of contraception coverage in your insurance plan. Once it became common wisdom in right-wing circles that you should be able to discriminate against your employees by slashing their benefits according to your religious beliefs, then it’s going to open up a flood of attempts to make discrimination and other forms of oppression legal by citing religious reasons for the behavior. Unsurprisingly, the next target is gay people. In a handful of states across the country, legislators are passing laws that are similar to the Jim Crow laws targeting Black people in the 60s, except gay people are now the target. And the excuse is religion.
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This is and should be understood as the least surprising thing ever. After spending a couple of years claiming and even winning court battles with the argument that religious freedom gives employers a right to opt out of federal regulations regarding what kind of benefits they have to offer employees, this is the next logical step. The idea is to create these giant loopholes in laws that conservatives don’t like, laws that make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender or sexual orientation or perhaps even race, by claiming that you have religious reasons to do so. I want to make special note of the employee benefits provision. As with demanding an exemption from having to fully cover their female employee’s health care because they oppose non-procreative sex, employers are hoping to get out of laws that say that if you offer spousal insurance for some employees, you have to offer it for all. And it’s not just Kansas.
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Again, this is not different from the argument that conservatives floated, and some still float, to attack the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The claim is that a business person’s “right” to discriminate and to pay employees what they want or how they want and to refuse to serve people based on their bigoted beliefs supersedes the state’s interest in preventing discrimination. The religion component was just added to make it seem like one set of civil rights is pitted against another, but that’s simply not true. In a sense, this bill is a form of religious discrimination, because it allows business owners to deny employees and customers their right to believe what they want to believe without fear of being punished or targeted for it.
Part of the right-wing talking points defending these laws is to claim that these laws are only about things like not baking cakes for same-sex weddings, and that these laws won’t be able to be widely interpreted to deny people housing, employment, and banking opportunities because some right-wing Christian doesn’t like the look of them. Kenji Yoshino, a law professor at NYU, explained that’s nonsense.
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Yoshino also explained why the Arizona law is much more stringent than the federal law that says you can’t burden an individual’s religious beliefs.
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This is all a direct result of conservatives using the supposed religious freedom arguments to justify their attacks on the contraception mandate, attacks that constitute a form of gender and religious discrimination against employees. It’s laying the groundwork to basically overturn decades of laws protecting people from being fired or penalized at work or being refused service based on race, religion, sexual orientation, or other private choices, all by saying that a person’s claim to have a religious belief gives them wide breadth to ignore the law and treat other people like crap. Anyone who thought they’d stop at denying women their earned insurance benefits was just being naïve.
I’ve reported on this show before about how the anti-choice movement’s choice to target the Girl Scouts has gained some traction in recent years, even though I first started seeing anti-choice bloggers attack the organization for perceived support for abortion rights as far back as 2007. But I had no idea how serious it had gotten with the mainstreaming of the claim that the Girl Scouts is some kind of subversive radical feminist organization. Media Matters did a round-up of various myths that right-wing media is promoting regarding the Girl Scouts, and what really stood out to me is how big time the people propagating the myths are. Like Bill O’Reilly, for instance.
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Even though the claim is clearly a lie, he kept hammering at her, characterizing the tweet as an endorsement of Wendy Davis. The tweet did not mention Wendy Davis. The tweet reads, in total, “Is there anyone you’d add to this list? Incredible Ladies Who Should Be Women of the Year for 2013.” The link goes to a Huffington Post video chat where Wendy Davis is one of many, many women mentioned. But she is not singled out. Basically, Bill O’Reilly and other conservatives are trying to game the situation so that pro-choicers are functionally shunned and treated like social pariahs, by falsely claiming that anything but shunning pro-choice women is tantamount to an endorsement. But that’s nonsense, as they would never agree that simply linking a list of names that had, say, a conservative woman on it constituted an endorsement of everything that woman stood for and therefore it shouldn’t have happened.
Elisabeth Hasselback, on her show, brought a representative on to make an even broader accusation.
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Even though they claim they want an “apolitical” Girl Scouts, that is clearly a lie. Running every liberal who is involved with Girl Scouts off and having a political test requiring you to be a conservative in order to be a leader in Girl Scouts is not, as they are pretending, an apolitical stance. It’s a deeply political stance. Requiring girls to believe in God or have a specific religious affiliation is not apolitical. It’s a strong political position. This is about demanding that the Girl Scouts adhere to an anti-choice, conservative position by throwing a fit every time they engage with people from all parts of the political spectrum, instead of limiting it just to conservatives, which is closer to what the Boy Scouts have done. Needless to say, Media Matters linked a Daily Beast article detailing the extensive support and participation that Girl Scouts has gotten from both Democrats and Republicans. The fact that their supposed evidence for this left-leaning stance is a tweet that linked an article that mentioned a pro-choice politician in a long list of women is enough to tell you they don’t actually have any evidence of these lurid claims.
It’s not just that Fox News is demanding that Girl Scouts shun involvement from any known feminists or liberals. Bill O’Reilly also demanded that Girl Scouts shun anyone who has, outside of their work in Girl Scouts, done things like be a known gay person or play in a rock band. Or at least if you did both at the same time.
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Here is the thing. There are two ways to be truly apolitical, as an organization. You can demand that none of your employees ever have a political opinion, or ever volunteer for a political cause, or ever vote. But that is not only untenable but guaranteed to get you people who are lazy and apathetic and irresponsible. Or you can simply not take political affiliation into account when hiring and just ask your employees to leave it at home. This is what the Girl Scouts has done. What Fox News clearly wants them to do, which is to shun people who lean left and only hire people who lean right, is definitely not apolitical. That is demanding that they create a right-wing organization.
While O’Reilly declined to name the band in question, it was easy enough to find who it was. They seem fun, and it’s not unknown for musicians to have day jobs. So, to counterbalance the irrational hate, here’s a little clip from this band, named the Dead Betties.
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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, strip club edition. Most sexualized conservative fear-mongering about social spending is geared towards women, raising fears that women are getting away with having sex on the public dime. But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t willing to target men with a bunch of sexualized fear-mongering. Fox News tried to use strip clubs to argue against food stamps. Yes, food stamps.
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I can safely say I don’t spend a lot of time in strip clubs, but I suspect very strongly that they, like liquor stores or pot dispensaries, do not accept food stamps instead of cash as payment. If they did, you wouldn’t get very far. The average monthly benefit for an individual on SNAP [the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program] is $133 a month. To be blunt, that’s probably less than a customer in a strip club spends in a night. This kind of nonsense is just another example of Fox using sexual fears to shut down critical thinking.