La La How The Life Goes On

I’m feeling ranty today. Well, extra-ranty, I suppose. Here’s why. I have now been invited to view and support three separate gofundme-type pages for adoptions, and my answer to those and to all like them is a giant, fat, unequivocal NO. (Be sure you’re sitting down before I tell you that one of them has a goal of $36,000).

I have been trying to think of how to say this nicely but I cannot be bothered. Here is the bottom line:

You should not fund your adoption by seeking donations.

You should not publish your waiting child’s name and/or photo to encourage donations.

You should not provide the general public with private details of your child’s life in order to encourage donations.

Above all, you should not tell me that God Has Called Us to adopt to encourage donations. If God has called you, why has He not also sent you some cash?

If you cannot afford to adopt a child, you should not adopt a child.

Are these the rantings of a nasty, mean snobby adoptive parent? Well, for perspective, let’s flip this discussion to childbirth. What if you had friends with two kids who said that God has called them to have more children. Only, they can’t afford to have more children. They don’t have insurance and so will need your financial assistance to pay for the prenatal care and childbirth.  Maybe they are lovely people who would be great parents to many, many babies. But wouldn’t such a request give you pause on behalf of the potential child-to-be? “We have no money to do this, but we are determined to get pregnant regardless. Won’t you please donate? Also, because God says we should.” You would likely–rightfully–have a moment of pause at the wisdom of such a choice.

So why do we not feel that collective sense of caution when it comes to fundraising for adoptions? Why is it considered elitist assholery to express the same trepidation at supporting such a venture for a family created through adoption?

One argument in favor of fundraising is that adoptions have no insurance to help, whereas couples with health insurance will have pregnancy and childbirth covered. Fair enough. But not all adoptions need be international with all of the visa and paperwork and travel expenses they entail.

Another argument in favor of fundraising is that it raises awareness of adoption in the community.  I submit that there are other, better ways to achieve this goal that don’t involve people writing you a check.

Another argument in favor of fundraising is that it offers caring friends and family a concrete way to assist you in building your family. To counter this belief I would simply ask that you consider the dynamic you are creating by having people close to your future child feel like they “chipped in” to bring that child home. I ask that you identify the relative or friend’s kid who will waste no time in mentioning to your adolescent child how her family totally helped make his life here in the US possible with their generous donation to his fund.

In short, I am asking you to think and act like a parent.  A person who seeks to protect your child from shame or harm. Who advocates for your child. Who ensures your child’s privacy and dignity. Who recognizes your child’s basic fundamental right to own his or her life story. Above all, a person who takes the long view of your child’s life. Who thinks ahead and sees the peaks and valleys that await your child. Who does not act in a manner that would compromise your child’s well-being even 5 or 10 or 15 years from now.

So is adoption only for the upper middle class people with disposable income? Of course not. Like all couples planning to create a family, it is entirely okay, and advisable, to start saving. To start that nest egg. To take extra shifts at work. To make and sell crafts. To offer services that will provide extra cash for your adoption plans. To cut back on cable and restaurants and trips so you can sock that money away in your Family Fund without telling the world who and what it’s for.

The proliferation of adoption fundraising sites illustrates the essential bias in favor of adoptive parents in the adoption process. The bias that implies that adoptive parents are owed a baby. From public pleas for funds to build a family, to outrage at countries’ restrictions on who can or cannot adopt, to anger at birth mothers who “change their minds.” These all spring from a deep-seated belief that adoptive parents are owed a child. That people without financial resources are entitled to a child simply because they believe God has told them so, or because they so fervently desire to have a family. That countries like China or Haiti are in the business of providing children to waiting families rather than providing families for waiting children. That a birth mother does not have the right to decide to parent her child at any time during an adoptive process. That the needs of the adoptive parents should be paramount over those of the child. the birth family or the birth culture.

A compassionate and ethical adoption system recognizes all members of the “adoption triad:” the birth family, the child and the adoptive family. It privileges the woman who is bringing the child into the world. It respects her rights. It protects the safety and well-being of the child by any means necessary. It absolutely offers a place of respect for the adoptive parents, but it should never center its concerns on them alone.

So of course there is nothing at all wrong with earning and saving funds for your adoption.

But there IS everything wrong with fundraising.

Yesterday’s Congressional hearings into Planned Parenthood were as ghastly as you’d expect from today’s Republican Party.

This party clearly wants women to avoid it in droves. There simply cannot be any other explanation for the misogyny, disrespect and straight-up ignorance displayed by the committee toward Cecile Richards, the CEO of Planned Parenthood, and to PP itself.

Some facts:

FACT: No federal dollars pay for abortions.


It’s already a law. It’s called the Hyde Amendment. It has been in force FOR YEARS. Your tax dollars do not fund abortions at Planned Parenthood. They never have. THIS IS FACT. PROVABLE, DOCUMENTED FACT.

FACT: Last year 865,000 women received breast exams and pap tests from Planned Parenthood. 87,000 of those tests discovered early stage cancer and saved people’s lives by allowing them to get early treatment. 87,000 people. Think about that. Right now, 87,000 people are alive and being treated for cancer who might otherwise have died had they not had these screenings at an affordable location like PP.

FACT: Planned Parenthood does not only benefit women: They provided services like cancer screenings and HIV/AIDS tests for 300,000 men last year.

FACT: The videos purporting to show PP “selling baby parts” have been proven by independent observers to have been doctored and to be not credible. Several states have conducted their own investigations and ZERO have found any evidence of wrongdoing. ZERO.

FACT: These hearings are run by men who do not understand women’s health care.It is clear that the men asking questions think that “breast exams” and “mammograms” are the same thing. Ms. Richards tried to explain that PP does not offer mammograms. They conduct breast exams, and if a lump is found, the woman is referred to a specialist who performs mammograms. Blank stare. Cluelessness. They don’t understand the difference.

FACT: These hearings are a witch hunt. View this video of the CHAIR of the committee talking over, interrupting and otherwise disrespecting Ms. Richards. Then declaring his chart to be from PP’s corporate reports. Then acting surprised and sheepish when informed that the “data” contained in it is actually from an anti-choice organization. You read that right. The Chair of the investigating committee doesn’t even have a clue about his sources. And you know why. Because he doesn’t care. He just wants pretty charts that fit his narrative.

FACT: Planned Parenthood meets an urgent need in the communities it serves. The community health centers and rural clinics in areas served by Planned Parenthood could NOT absorb the enormous numbers of PP patients were it to go under. In Wisconsin, PP sees 65,000 patients in its 22 health centers. There is absolutely NOT a system of clinics that could absorb those patients. Also note that the WI Congressman says PP is not necessary because “as a guy” he can go anywhere. Women of America: this is your GOP.  Reproductive health services are not necessary because I as a guy do not need them!

FACT: The Republican Party is willing to shut down the federal government in order to defund Planned Parenthood on the basis of dishonest, debunked videos. The committee did not call the video maker to testify precisely because he would be unable to honestly take the oath. Think about that. The entire basis for defunding our nation’s primary source for health care for almost one million of our citizens is manufactured outrage produced by videos that have been proven false. That are so false that the videographer cannot appear before the committee under oath without perjuring himself.

This is your Republican Party. The party of fiscal responsibility and individual liberty. Destroying our nation’s finances in order to control the bodies of female individuals. The train is officially off the tracks.

So it’s Yom Kippur 2015. The Day of Atonement. The holiest day of the year for Juifs. By the mere fact of this post after sundown, you can probably tell how not super observant I am about this holiday. Which is kind of grandly ironic considering that even the most assimilated Jew gets real serious about Yom Kippur. sideyeSomewhere there is a person named something like Taylor Maddysin Greenbaum getting so excited that Christmas stuff will be in the stores soon because she cannot wait to put candy canes on the Chanukah Bush this year. Even THAT chick is giving me side eye for dissing Yom Kippur. The liturgy is so damn scary that no one will eff with it. Who wants to take the chance that there is a God, and He is sitting on his throne. holding In his hands the Book of Life, and he has decided that you don’t get inscribed in it. Time to get your affairs in order, buddy. This ain’t your year. Tika-freakin-tayvu.delrio

So what’s my beef with Yom Kippur? I know I’ve bored you with my heresy before.  But let’s review, just so I can shoot the moon of sins on this most holy of holy days.

  • I don’t fast. Some people love to fast. They say it heightens the spirituality of the day. Please enjoy, family. Have at it. I, however, correctly diagnose that sensation as Low Blood Sugar and seek to avoid it. I also swallow about 15 pills a day, some of which have to be taken with food. So something tells me that Dr. God is fine with it too. I show respect for the Baby Daddy by not, you know, ordering a sausage pizza while he can’t even swallow his own spit lest he go straight to hell. But beyond that, I’m fine with repenting on a satiated stomach.
  • unforgiven (1)I don’t repent. Yeah I said it. I don’t repent. Not all at once anyway. I’m trying to be a better person by taking a ruthless inventory of myself on a semi-regular basis rather than just during the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. I have received hurried emails from people just hours before Kol NIdre (the opening service for Yom Kippur, that starts at sundown) just making sure they don’t owe me an apology or anything. WHAT?! While I do have the certified ability to out-bitch anyone with my belief that you not knowing I’m mad at you is worse than whatever you did to make me mad at you, I really don’t understand these emails. Are we gonna hug it out in the next 39 minutes or something? If you’ve been wondering if you’ve hurt or offended me, why are you waiting until now to ask? Why wouldn’t you just ask at the time it happened? This then puts the pressure on me to write back, “Oh no! We are fine!” because otherwise this poor schmucko has to go through Yom Kippur unforgiven by me. Nice. The truth is that if you had pissed me off, you would already know, so rest easy. Save all that energy for the not eating you’re going to do. Except for you–you know who you are. I am furious with you. About that thing. At the place. With the guy. Have a nice teshuvah (repentance) though.
  • Having had a few actual near-death experiences in my brief 43 years on this earth, I am just flat out reluctant to–no, recalcitrant in my refusal to–engage in any word games with The Almighty that entail me being a person who might die this year. “Quick! Repent before I close the gates! Who by fire and who by flood!” Nah bruh. But you do you..



So that’s the short version of my Airing of Grievances. None of which I feel badly about. As Heinrich Heine said on his deathbed: “God will forgive me; it’s his trade.”

Easy fast to you, darlings. Easy fast.


*We have rebelled/revolted. It’s part of the Ashamnu, an aleph bet acrostic that serves as a litany of our collective sins as a People. For more info on this, please enjoy the following link:

My response to racism is anger. I have lived with that anger, ignoring it, feeding upon it, learning to use it before it laid my visions to waste, for most of my life. Once I did it in silence, afraid of the weight. My fear of anger taught me nothing. Your fear of that anger will teach you nothing, also. — Audre Lorde

I had never heard of the term Tone Policing until recently. Which is ironic considering that it has been my stock-in-trade for decades now. Tone policing is the culturally-ingrained habit of focusing on and critiquing how something is said rather than on the content of the statement. The great benefit of being a tone police officer is that you get to then dismiss or ignore what the other person is saying, whether it is true or not, simply because you don’t like how she said it.

Tone Policing is separate from those valid lessons you teach your kids about not sounding like jerks, and separate from political strategy and tactics which often require candidates to speak the language of the voters they are trying to reach. Tone Policing often and primarily occurs in discussions of social issues. Someone will say something. Their words and demeanor obviously demonstrate that the topic is a raw one for the speaker. They will express anger, disappointment, perhaps even rage. Cue those of us for whom the deeply-ingrained notion that conflict is bad, that discussing topics vociferously is impolite, that anything that makes us feel uncomfortable is to be avoided and judged negatively. We jump in to “tone police” the discussion. To call out the angry person for being angry. For not speaking in a more appropriate manner. We get multiple “likes” online and IRL in support of our efforts to “keep things civil.”

What we need to recognize is that this compulsion to erase anger from any debate is counterproductive. Righteous anger has fueled almost every major social movement in world history. What’s more, the people speaking from anger have a right to the same rainbow of emotions that you and I take for granted as non-participants.

Think about all the great social movements for change in our recent history. Let’s talk about the women’s suffrage movement. We’re all behind it now, but the stark reality of that time was that the “suffragettes” were considered dangers to decent God-fearing people everywhere. They were beaten in the streets. Called terrible names. Shunned by polite society. They disrupted a presidential inauguration. They protested in front of the White House during war time. They were absolutely considered enemies of the State. To be for the female vote was to be considered a woman of ill-repute. To be related–or heaven forbid–married to one, was the end of life as you knew it.

Women who had been arrested for that protest in front of the White House in 1917 lived through this:

Under orders from W. H. Whittaker, superintendent of the Occoquan Workhouse, as many as forty guards with clubs went on a rampage, brutalizing thirty-three jailed suffragists. They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head, and left her there for the night. They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed, and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate Alice Cosu, who believed Mrs. Lewis to be dead, suffered a heart attack. According to affidavits, other women were grabbed, dragged, beaten, choked, slammed, pinched, twisted, and kicked. (source: Barbara Leaming, Katherine Hepburn (New York: Crown Publishers, 1995), 182.)

These woman had a righteous anger. An anger at the fact that the most uneducated male in the country was considered more worthy of a vote than any female. That by accident of birth, women were automatically excluded from participating in our nation’s democracy.

Within the women’s movement there was also righteous anger from Black women who also wanted the vote and who were told to march at the back of the parade, To table their suffrage goals in order to not incite opposition from the Southern legislators who feared additional Black people on the voting rolls. Ida Wells-Barnett, founder of the Alpha Suffrage Club, not only did not acquiesce to the demand to march at the back or bow out, she put herself right in the middle of the white ladies from the Illinois Delegation. She would not comply with the segregation request from her supposed white sisters. White sister suffragists who themselves could not tolerate the anger and unreasonableness of Ms. Wells-Barnett, who spoke out forcefully for the women’s vote for ALL women.  So even within the suffragist movement, full of already scandalous women, there was tone policing of women who had every right to be angry. Even while they themselves were criminalized and villainized, the white women of the Suffragist movement still found a way to tone police their Black compatriots by taking issue with their “impolite” behavior and demeanor.

Suffrage is but one example. I can call to mind about twelve others, just from my own personal experience. Where I felt like the person speaking was really making things “unnecessarily tense.” Until I realized that it was only ‘unnecessary” in my mind because of the luxury I had of never having to experience their reality.

I’ll take it from the Jewish angle. Jews are constantly accused of “making everything about the Holocaust.’ Geez Louise, it happened, what?, a hundred years ago! Why are those people still talking about it? The emotional fragility they display is just mind-boggling. No one here now in this town was ever in a camp either as a prisoner or a guard. So why can’t they just get over it? Why can’t they move on? Why do they always have to raise the tension level in the room when someone calls something else a holocaust? Amirite? Geez, the sensitivity is just ridiculous. Why do they flip out when someone makes a joke about a Jewish stereotype? It’s funny! Laugh a little! So much angst and anger from such a small segment of the population. For the love of God, it’s ridiculous how we let them hijack everything with their “history” and their “legacy of pain” from that history. We have to hear ad nauseum about Israel. They get so worked up and mad if you invite the wrong person to speak at their temples. If the wrapping paper inadvertently shows a swastika in the design. I mean, just stupid minor nonsense sets them off. Just a bunch of angry whiners, if you ask me.

I invite you to substitute the group of your choice in place of “Jews” and tell me honestly if you have never thought something along these lines when confronted with that group’s anger (however non-righteous you consider it to be). It’s okay to be honest; I won’t make you fess up in the comments. But do be honest. The desire to Tone Police is rampant in our culture. The desperate need to not feel the discomfort of difficult conversations. The desperate, almost pathological, need to believe that discussing racism causes racism. That calling out racism is in and of itself an act of racism.

So what I’m going to suggest in this post is that, for those of us for whom this sounds familiar, that we pledge that we will, just one time, resist the urge to do this to others with whom we are in discussion. That if the “tone” of the conversation is making us uncomfortable, that we just let it happen. If folks aren’t “keeping it civil” (by which we mean polite, which is in all honesty a wildly different animal than civil), we just let it happen. If we feel so tremendously uncomfortable and irritated and upset by what is being said, that we disable our immediate impulse to “fix” the conversation and just let it happen. That we sit with that discomfort and ruminate on why the discomfort exists. What I imagine many of us will find is that we think it is the worst thing in the world to be accused of racism, even in a non-personal way. That word is the third rail of all social conversations. It will freeze a discussion and ruin friendships. But what I’m coming to realize is that there is indeed something worse than being accused of racism, and that is experiencing racism and being told you are not. Being told you are imagining it. Being told you are too sensitive. Being told you need to lighten up. Being told you hate America. And worst of all: being told you can’t be angry.

By now you have no doubt heard the story of Ahmed, the 9th grader from Irving, Texas who was arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school. I have been in full lather all day about this disgusting injustice. Consider if you will:

  1. The child created this clock on his own and was so proud of it he brought it to school to show his engineering teacher.
  2. When another teacher saw it, she apparently thought it looked like a bomb and alerted the principal.
  3. The principal then involved law enforcement.
  4. Law enforcement questioned this minor without his parents present and while refusing the child’s requests to have his parents called.
  5. Law enforcement and the school administration found the child’s answers that it was “just a clock” to be “passive aggressive.” They found his inability to explain why he would build a clock “for no reason” to be suspicious.
  6. Law enforcement then handcuffed this 9th grader and perp-walked him to juvenile detention, all still without contacting his parents.
  7. Afterward, instead of apologizing for the clear violation of this child’s civil rights and the obvious racism and Islamophobia that precipitated it, the school doubled down by sending a letter home advising kids not to bring “suspicious” items from home. You know, like a fucking CLOCK.
  8. The police involved also decided to shoot the moon by justifying the arrest in two mutually exclusive ways:
    1. We arrested him because he kept saying, “It’s just a clock.” That’s suspicious.
    2. We arrested him because he perpetrated a bomb hoax.

So which is it? Did he create a bomb hoax or did he keep saying “it’s just a clock”? Because it can’t be both, right? But, wait. This is Texas. So OF COURSE IT CAN. You see, a “bomb hoax,” according to the police chief who spoke to reporters, is defined as any item that gives the impression that it might be a bomb. So, if you walk into a restaurant in Texas with your umbrella and someone jumps up and yells. “OH MY GOD IT”S A BOMB!” at you, you can apparently be arrested for perpetrating a bomb hoax simply because someone thought your umbrella was a bomb. You apparently don’t need to act like it’s a bomb, discuss how it’s a bomb, or even have considered for a single second that some random moron is going to think your umbrella is a bomb to be arrested for perpetrating a bomb hoax in Texas.

Also, if your name is Ahmed Mohamed.

The level of dumbassery and racism and hillbilly nonsense involved in this story is absolutely staggering. The vitriol from the rightosphere on Twitter and Facebook is shocking but not at all surprising. This family has lived in Texas for 30 years. This child was born here. This family is American. They are as American as you and me. They have worked hard, paid taxes, obviously raised smart and decent children. What more do we want from them so they can be considered equal to us? So they can make a science fair project and not be suspected of wanting to kill people?

It would all be deeply, unrelentingly depressing if not the for the response of many of Ahmed’s fellow Americans to this shameful situation. Most notably from the President of the United States, in what will go down in history as the most presidential and deft “FUCK YOU, RACISTS” in American history.

Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great.


None of which, sadly, mitigates the truly unbelievable quantities of FAIL that occurred at every level of this entire sorry circumstance. This town, so steeped in Islamophobia (the mayor ran–and WON–on an anti-sharia law platform) that a child widely known as sweet and nerdy and lovely and smart is immediately and irredeemably accused of wanting to KILL PEOPLE. By a teacher who KNEW HIM. This woman knew this child and still her mind went directly from “science experiment” to “terrorist.”  That is some shameful shit.

The fact that an English teacher felt sure enough that she was looking at a bomb “from a movie.” Yes. This was her statement. It looked like a bomb from a movie. Oh, that kind. The kind with no explosives attached, right? The kind that a kid would bring to school and SHOW PEOPLE. Because, you know, when you want to kill people you definitely want to alert your teachers first. As they do ‘in a movie.” That is some shameful, uneducated shit.

The fact that the police went along with the obviously not-competent school principal. I know that police get stupid calls all the time. There’s a black guy on my street. There’s a voice in my head. There’s a long line at the Walgreens. The police do the honorable and smart thing and ignore these fools. But because this town is living on the existential edge about the Great Mohammedan Peril, there are no sane adults in the room to say “Move along. Nothing to see here.”  That’s the tragedy here. This was not a law enforcement issue. Until it was. This is the exceedingly important role our LEOs play in our society. Beyond enforcing the law, they can help ordinary citizens determine what is and is not a law enforcement issue to begin with. Neighbor dispute? Work that shit out. Strange dog crapping in your yard? Sorry, but that’s not our gig. Kid made a clock for his teacher who can easily be asked if it is indeed a clock? Thanks for calling. Everything here looks in order. We’re off to write up this idiotic report. That is some shameful, unnecessary shit.

The fact that Texas is an open-carry state. Meaning that you can saunter through and around Texas with a gun on you. Out. Visible. Accessible. Loaded. And yet you bring a CLOCK to school and that is grounds for arrest? On what planet does this make any sense at all? After all, clocks don’t kill people, people kill people. Right? That is some shameful, hypocritical shit.

It’s all shameful. Every last person involved needs to ruthlessly examine their conscience, their intellect and their heart. And then they need to apologize to this 14 year old child for their sins against him. The final chapter of this story has not yet been written, but Ahmed Mohamed’s response to the events speaks volumes. When asked by the New York Times what he’d advise other “young gadget builders”:

“Go for it,” he said. “Don’t let people change who you are.”

Spoken like a true American.

UPDATE:  Fabio concurs.


Let’s discuss Ms. Erin C. Devaney, the interim Registrar of Motor Vehicles, here in Massachusetts. It is her job, via the clerks in RMVs throughout this great Commonwealth, to ensure and certify that those applying for a drivers license meet the legal requirements thereof. Are my papers in order? Am I eligible? Have I met the appropriate legal criteria? If so–Drivers license issued. As the Registrar, Ms. Devaney’s signature will appear on my drivers license.

Now, I don’t know Registrar Devaney. But let’s all contemplate the incredible oversized sense of self it would require for her to imagine that her signature on my drivers license in any way connotes her personal, moral, religious stamp of approval on me as a person. That her rubber stamped signature provided by her role as a government functionary in any way says “The person holding this license meets my moral and ethical standards for human decency. I personally vouch for this driver.”

The entire notion is ludicrous, right? Her signature simply means, “This person met the legal requirements for having a drivers license. Insofar as it is my job to ensure these legal requirements are met, my signature signifies same.” The End. My job is to make sure your papers are in order. License issued. We are done here.

So please tell me why Kim Davis, a “Christian” County Clerk in Kentucky, thinks that she is the moral arbiter of random citizens applying for a marriage license in her jurisdiction (the question kind of answers itself though, now that I re-read it). Think about the unbelievable, out-sized, truly arrogant, self-involved sense of pride (a sin, if I recall correctly) it requires to think that your government functionary signature on a piece of paper is the very pinnacle of moral judgment and approval for fellow humans you do not even know. Think about that. Beyond the very real issues here, I am simply struck by this one. The intense and borderline pathological sense of self-importance Kim Davis obviously feels, that her rando signature on a rando document in a tiny county in one southern state signifies HER moral stamp of approval of an entire group of American citizens. As if her personal stamp of approval is even necessary.

The delusions of grandeur are epic. Fed by the Right Wing’s very own Al Sharpton, “Rev.” Mike Huckabee. A failed politician who has never met a religious sideshow he doesn’t like. The total lack of constitutional knowledge, coupled with the fervor only an American Taliban mouthpiece can provide, would be hilarious if it weren’t so frightening.

Assertions that Kentucky statutes supersede rulings by the United States Supreme Court.  Answer: No they don’t. I mean, if you want to hark back to uglier times in American history where “states rights” was a rallying cry for some really sick shit, then sure. Go ahead. Or you can join the rest of us in the 21st century who understand the way our democracy works.

Assertions that Davis’ first amendment rights are being violated. Answer: No they aren’t. She has all the religious freedom in the world. She can practice her religion all she wants to. What she may not do, as a tool of the government (which her position is), is deny American citizens their 14th Amendment rights guaranteed by the Constitution and reaffirmed by the Supreme Court.

Assertions that this is a war on Christianity. Answer: See the young girls raped and beaten by ISIS. THAT is a war on Christianity. This is more like “Christian throws tantrum because she can’t force everyone else to be Christian.”  For a group of people so vocal about “Sharia Law” infiltrating America, they sure seem eager to set up their own Christian version of it. Think about it. A religious group seeks to have its religious laws supersede the civil laws of a country. It seeks purview over marriages, births, eligibility for services. It seeks to control behavior, not by widely-accepted civil statutes governing citizen interactions, but by its own religious canon. THAT is sharia law, whether Islamic or Christian flavor.

Huckabee claims that no person should ever have to choose between their religion and their career. WRONG. There is a reason black hat Orthodox Jewish men don’t get jobs as cashiers at Victoria’s Secret. There is a reason devout Muslims don’t work in pig slaughterhouses. There is a reason Quakers don’t work in ballistic missile factories. Religion gets in the way of career goals all the time. If your religion matters to you, it will absolutely impact your career choices. If you keep the Sabbath, you won’t do that extra work on Saturdays or Sundays. Maybe that will affect your career trajectory. Maybe you won’t care because you know what’s important to you.

What you won’t get to do is mandate that everyone else in the world follow your path. Especially if your job is a government job. If you get paid with taxpayer money, you must do the work of the taxpayers. Or, in words Huckabee can better understand: render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s.




A thread in a group on Facebook blew up today when a mom, upon seeing all the “Back to School” pics of kids, thought it wise to communicate her shock at the parents who would allow their daughters to wear such short shorts to school. She finished it with the classic passive-aggressive chestnut, “To each his own.”  This is what I thought when I saw that post:


It was really something. Sexism, rape culture, and religious posturing all rolled into one sweet post. The point this mom was trying to make was this: “Girls showing all that skin on their legs is inappropriate for school and reflects poorly on the morals of their parents.” You don’t need me to tell you that she got shut down. And hard.

But she had a couple of defenders. So let’s walk through this, shall we, in the interests of education.

  1. It was 100 degrees over vast swathes of our country yesterday. Most schools lack air conditioning. So if you want to sit for 6 hours in jeans in 100 degree heat, you go ahead. I won’t be forcing my daughter to do it.
  2. The notion that showing skin equals moral turpitude is so antiquated that I am consistently stunned when someone voices it. These girls (and I emphasize the word “girls”) were not showing nipples or outlines of genitalia or anything that really would be considered inappropriate for a school. They had on shorts that showed some thigh. GASP! Get the smelling salts! I do believe I have the vapors!
  3. The connected opinion that these shorts are “distracting” and therefore inappropriate is the ages-old attempt to control women by controlling their bodies. Countries that stone women for not wearing burqas use this exact language. The body of a female is distracting and must be covered so as not to excite the males in their presence. The woman’s body must be covered, bound, hidden, shamed–all in service of male superiority.
  4. And if they do elicit responses from the males, well what did they expect with those shorts on? As if wearing any article of clothing says, “You may physically or verbally harm and abuse me” or “these shorts obviously imply sexual consent.”  All decent people know that what someone wears is irrelevant to his or her sexual availability. But this is our rape culture. The normalizing of victim-blaming and the promulgation of the virgin-whore complex.  Nice girls dress like THIS. Nasty girls dress like THAT. All of which is false. I can recall girls from the local parochial school, all long skirt and high collar, giving blow jobs behind the mall on a Friday night. Meanwhile the girl in the  miniskirt and Iron Maiden shirt was home studying to get her full ride to Phillips Andover. Their outfits signified NOTHING about their sexuality. Except to those dirty-minded individuals who could not see anything but.
  5. This obsession with modesty would be more credible if it included an obsession with what boys wear. Oh my god! His Boston Celtics tank top shows his arms AND armpits! His boxer shorts are peeking out over his jeans! What kind of no-morals child would show his underwear?! What kind of no-morals parent would allow him to! But there is not associated concern with boys because 13 year old boys are not sexualized like their 13 year old female counterparts. That, in fact, is what infuriated me the most about this mom’s post. What the rest of us saw were young girls of all ages, maybe 3-15, heading off to school with smiles and hopes and laughter. This mom saw short shorts. And she saw sexuality. If you look at a photo of my 11 year old child and any thought of anything sexual about her enters your mind? Sequester yourself from children and seek immediate counseling. You need help, if not law enforcement intervention.

So here’s my final thought on this today. If any boy or man EVER harms or disrespects my daughters, I will weep a thousand rivers of tears if any notion of “what did I do/not do/say/wear to deserve this?” ever entered their minds. And I would literally end my life if anything I had said or done had contributed to them feeling that.  But this is the world we live in. Where joyous photos of young girls heading off in the summer heat to learn and grow and blossom becomes a rhorschach test for misogyny and sexism. For “boys will be boys” and “nice girls don’t.” Well you know what? If your son’s or husband’s or uncle’s behavior toward women relies on a hemline or a neckline, you have larger problems than haberdashery can solve. If you cannot see a girl in shorts without sexualizing her at the age of 11 and making sweeping judgments about what crimes she will deserve to suffer, you are a cancer on our society. If your son cannot go to school and see a girl in shorts without acting the fool and being disrespectful, you need to raise a better class of boy. Don’t you dare put your son’s failings on my daughters. Put them on yourself, where they belong.


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