Various thoughts on current events with an emphasis on politics, legal issues, books, movies and whatever is on my mind. Emails can be sent to email@example.com; please put "blog comments" in the subject line.
I saw these "Mixis" dolls praised by a biracial tweeter, noting her niece loved them. They don't only honor interracial individuals but try to be a more accurate "non-Barbie" representation of actual dimensions. Price also seems reasonable.
Facing the Music:I am reading Jennifer Knapp -- known for her Christian music background and coming out as a lesbian -- now. I'm not to the latter part, but just her early struggles with a broken home, alcoholism, a personal religious path and starting in the music business are handled very eloquently. No co-author is cited and am very impressed with her writing. Clearly, she can write more than songs!
ETA: Somewhat germane, and just because it's such a good read (e.g., the author repeatedly speaks of himself as "the undersigned"). The federal judge SSM train comes to Mississippi. It just arrived in Arkansas too, but this effort is of special note, including a series of questions such as "can gays and lesbians love." See more here.
IUDs and Religion: A new Slatearticle jumping into the Christmas display wars again already flags a 1980s research article finding IUDs are not an abortifacient (it flags Stevens' citation otherwise, but not the pro-choice advocate doing so). The point is useful, since "abortion" is such a scare word, but it doesn't matter on some level for a Hobby Lobby claim -- see, e.g., the religious beliefs of Catholics. Suffice to say though the one article wasn't some sign of the debate being over -- at least, past research suggests even certain Planned Parenthood fact sheets didn't get the memo. This is so even if it is basically deemed a scientific fact per today's knowledge that IUDs act as a contraceptive under "life begins at conception" terms. The point again is somewhat moot since "abortion" is not usually understood this way, and for many for which it is, contraceptives would violate God's law too.
The article itself does bring to mind a concern I flagged back when Slate had a fray -- treating religious speech as basically speech is problematic when governmental action is involved. There are religious liberty issues too here and "speech" can neutralize them. It -- as is sometimes the case -- can do so by cheapening religion in part by suggesting certain claims don't really matter. So, e.g., Scalia is okay with Ten Commandment displays, hand-waving that there are doctrinal differences between various versions. Eh. Trivial difference! Then again, the separatist wing of the religion is great but render to Caesar only what he is warranted caucus is an uncomfortable one for some.
Secular Humanism: Also flagged is a recent prisoner's right case that treated secular humanism as a religion. On some level it's besides the point:
“I really don’t care if Humanism is called a religion or not,” Greg Epstein, Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University and author of Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe [flagged a little while back on this blog], told ThinkProgress. “But if you’re going to give special rights to religions, then you have to give them to Humanism as well, and I think that’s what this case was about.”
Basically, don't call it a religion, you cannot favor other beliefs of a "religious" nature without running into Establishment Clause problems. And, this isn't a "gotcha" for the Right -- the individual here is actually practicing a certain belief structure, one that is not done by the state, e.g., when it separates church and state (which again many deists support) or teach things like evolution. If secular humanism is in effect treated like your personal "religion," there is a "free exercise" right at issue here.
Thanksgiving: Let me prematurely break for the week by saying a few words about the holiday. (1) It's a proper means to give thanks, be with family, celebrate football and so on. (2) Pardoning turkeys, even without Obama's record as to humans here being a problem, is moronic. (3) Thanksgiving has and had some religious aspects, but again isn't just of that nature. In both respects, however, it often was honored as a time warranting fasting and repentance. A full history here is a bit different than, let's say something you'd get from a Spencer Tracy movie.