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Nice and spicy, the NFL should be destroyed ... and, oh yeah, open thread

by: Eric B.

Sat Jan 31, 2015 at 11:42:40 AM EST

Got a gift card for Christmas to a chain of stores in the Chicago area that sell spices and herbs. It's called The Spice House. I got mostly stuff I can't find here in Mount Pleasant, like Chinese five-spice powder (I could probably make my own, but I'm also fairly lazy), fenugreek leaves tamarind paste and something called Vulcan's fire salt. What is Vulcan's fire salt? It's a salt blend that mixes in powdered chili pepper. I've been eating it on basically everything -- except the sauerkrat on Thursday night -- since it arrived: Eggs, more eggs, and the turkey I roasted yesterday. It's tasty, but GOOD GOD is it HOT.

As part of the shopping experience, I was asked to fill out a gift card. I decided to press the envelope a bit to see what they'd be willing to do. My first instinct was to write something like, "Merry Christmas, asshole," but figured that might be taking things a bit far. I was delighted that, when the package came, the gift card was filled out as I wished. It's inset. This is customer service I can get behind.

Meanwhle, most of us will tomorrow watch the Super Bowl. I gave up on the NFL earlier this season for a lot of reasons. It was the Ray Rice thing. Not the actual domestic assault, which I took as the actions of one person, but the way the NFL handled it, as if the NFL's image is always the primary thing of importance in anything. I mean, the "No more" PSAs are great and everything, and so is the pink shit everyone wears all October, but it's hardly a state secret that this is mostly publicity stunt stuff intended to burnish the league's image among its growing female fan base and to minimize damage because everyone knows the league's executives were lying when they said they didn't know that Ray Rice punched his fiance in the elevator. Also, the game announcers are all terrible and every time I see the insufferable Chris Berman I want to put a brick through the Tee Vee screen. Unfortunately, the games still come on where I work, because the people who live in the home like sports, which means I still get exposed to the games even if it is basically at gun point.

With that in mind, this piece from Deadspin is a great read. Occasionally I get someone who asks how I can like football (generally, my kid plays and with what we're learning about concussions I grow every year less happy about it) and hate the NFL. Well, it's not just the NFL. It's also the NCAA. And Lee Corso. God, is that man irritating. Anyway, go read this and you'll get a better idea for what people mean when they say things like that the NFL should be destroyed.

As for the rest of you, the thread is open.

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

And now, a word from our ... awv nuts

by: Eric B.

Fri Jan 30, 2015 at 14:39:04 PM EST

After this week's earlier post seeking sponsorship, someone dropped a little money into the tip jar. It was just enough to buy half a w for the headline. We're still two and a half w's short of a full headline. Won't someone stop the madness?

I should probably take a little time to thank the few folks who over the last month have set up recurring donations to the site. That would be how we got the half a w back, matter of fact. And, you know, if you're feeling particularly generous this time of year -- Second Halloween is fast approaching, after all -- please don't hesitate to just drop a few coins into the Paypal hat.

If you'd like to offiicially sponsor Michigan Liberal, however, our rates are a low, low $25 a day, $100 a week, or $360 a month.

Please contact me at ebaerren@michiganliberal.com, via text message at 517/881-8008 or via social media.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Art vs. propaganda

by: Eric B.

Fri Jan 30, 2015 at 12:42:31 PM EST

I was this week inspired to rewatch Clint Eastwood's films Flags of our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima. I was inspired to watch them after last week watching American Sniper and seeing the uproar that followed it. As most of us know, the biggest part of the uproar was kicked off by a weird Michael Moore tweet and something Seth Rogen said, which was followed mostly by people calling Michael Moore fat and a Michigan steakhouse saying that neither will ever be welcome there. Well, I'm not big on having my eating out politicized, so I guess I won't eat there, either. Fortunately, neither Michael Moore nor Seth Rogen nor I were every going to eat there in the first place, so no harm no foul.

What is also certain is that American Sniper was another film Eastwood made about the destruction that violence leaves in its wake. Not the physical destruction, but the emotional and mental destruction. Eastwood has been doing this since The Unforgiven gave us William Munny, who relives his heinous actions throughout (anyone remember the scene where he describes the drover he shot for no good reason). Although set in the Pacific Theater during World War II, and despite having given the Japenese defendes of Iwo Jima no human side, Flags of our Fathers is no pro-war film. It seeks to deglorify the idea of heroes during a war that everyone still thinks of as a decent necessity. It is in Letters from Iwo Jima that we finally get insight into what Eastwood thinks of the Japanese defenders. He thinks of them as human beings, with the same complex emotional turmoil and pangs of longing that we assume are reserved only for people on our side.

What sets American Sniper apart is that the war in which it takes place is still a highly politicized one. Conservatives still want to make it look justified and liberals still regard it as a colossal waste of people and resources. So, they tend to view art that has come from that war through their own political lenses, which is why most everyone has missed the film's message.

We got a fine example of this yesterday from Nolan Finley, who after calling Seth Rogen fat in response to Rogen's tweet about the film, writes this:

It apparently blanches Rogen that the movie starring the remarkable Bradley Cooper has streaks of patriotism and harkens, ever so slightly, to the days when Hollywood was committed to reinforcing American values rather than tearing them down.

The film is about a man who nearly loses everything to war. He loses most of his friends, nearly loses his family and has tremendous difficulty returning to civil society in between tours (one is reminded of Captain Willard from Apocalypse Now: "I hardly said anything to my wife until I said yes to the divorce"). He is forced by duty to kill women and children, and it begins to take an emotional toll almost immediately. Meanwhile, all around him, the people who he serves with lose faith in the justice of the war. One seriously doubts that any of these are what a conservative like Finley would define as "American values."

But, this is less about what the film says than how it is being perceived by the public. The film's critics, liberals, have missed the message because they want the film they would have made, one that shows the daily torment of Iraqi civilians whose lives are being ground down first by our invasion and then by the civil strife that exploded during our occupation. Conservatives entirely miss the film's message because a lot of bad guys get shot.

In this way is art turned into propaganda, not by the intention of the film maker, but by the audience. American Sniper is no longer a journey told through Clint Eastwood's eyes, but a cudgel used by the perceiver to beat his political opponent even if it would under the best circumstances be an imprecise weapon.

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

Dave Agema's self-inflicted racist wounds, summed up in one paragraph

by: Eric B.

Thu Jan 29, 2015 at 15:57:23 PM EST

For some reason, there's been an attempt to change the conversation over Dave Agema from, "A racist says racist things," to, "Not so fast, maybe the Grandville Dragon isn't so bad, after all..."

As I pointed out below in this post, those who have read the essay (and I have, several times) must concede that it does not ring hollow, it does not have the tone of a hoax. It sounds more like a disheartened liberal beaten down by what he has witnessed in the criminal justice system.

I've been happy, the last few weeks to find a considerable amount of common ground with various conservatives over this. These are people with whom I would probably find no agreement on policy -- folks like Ken Braun, Leon Drolet and Joe Munem (always like Munem) -- so you take your agreements where you can find them. One of them is Kathy Hoekstra, who blogs at the Detroit News. Today, she posted about it. It's one of the best takes on it that you'll find.

Agema started this mess because he could not control an impulse stemming from a presumption about black culture that he tried to validate with an ill-advised Facebook post.

This is really it, isn't it? Dave Agema isn't just someone who misread or who didn't fully read an essay before posting it to his Facebook wall. Not long after this all blew up, after all, he came here to Mt. Pleasant, where he told a gathering of Tea Party people that he once heard a Detroit (code for "black") lawmaker say that his people "needs" entitlements. People have said that Dave Agema thought it was okay to post this because Allen West had done it, and Allen West is a black man. Allen West, however, didn't force Dave Agema to use racially-coded language in addressing the Tea Party.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Norm Hughes: Friend to those little yellow fellows from the Far East

by: Eric B.

Thu Jan 29, 2015 at 10:25:40 AM EST

Cue another minority outreach effort from the Michigan Republican Party.

The GOP cannot concede 94% of the black vote, 71% of the Hispanic vote, 60% of females, youth and Jewish vote. Republicans get less than 15% of the Muslim vote and a fraction of the growing Oriental vote. There are many "minorities", "ethnics" and people of all and no faiths who have jobs, businesses, guns, believe in life and limited governments, are veterans, belong to churches or organizations with moral standards. These are the coalition we need to identify, find, communicate with, and get to the polls.

One imagines Norm Hughes stumping for votes in heavily Asian precincts with exagerated overbite, eyes shut into slits, saying things like, "Me rikey Mitt Lomney," all the time wondering why doors keep getting slammed in his face.

Also, people who are not of faith and go to church are called Unitarians. Probably a lost cause for the Republican Party on several different levels.

Of course, this isn't Norm's first time makng waves.

LANSING – On January 15 at a “Citizens Watchdog Training” sponsored by conservative advocacy group Americans For Prosperity, AFP’s state chairman Scott Hagerstrom outlined the group’s plan to continue to implement their education agenda in Michigan. Prominent Michigan conservative Norm Hughes was a featured speaker for a segment on “Saving Education,” and spoke about “ethnically challenged” charter school students.

Emph. mine.

This guy is a hoot. So are his friends. Here is one of them, Norm's grassroots organizer (or so said Norm in an e-mail the other day).

On Facebook, Tim Bos, an aide to the accidental congressman, Republican Kerry Bentivolio of Milford, has let it be known that he’s not so sure the massacre at Sandy Hook was fake. He also tends to believe that the collapse of the World Trade Center towers on 9/11 was also phony.

He's not just accidentail. For our purposes here today and regarding Norm Hughes, he's also occidental. And a Newtown truther.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

The Register of Deeds candidate who is behind on her property taxes

by: Eric B.

Thu Jan 29, 2015 at 09:53:43 AM EST

When Curtis Hertel Jr. became a state senator, it created a vanacy in the office of the Ingham County Register of Deeds. The other day, they named three finalists, who for some reason didn't include our own Alan Fox. The list did, however, include this lady.

THURSDAY, JAN. 29 — Ingham County Commissioner Carol Koenig, a finalist for register of deeds, is delinquent in paying property taxes on three properties she owns in the city of Lansing.

If selected as the register of deeds, she would be responsible for tracking and recording property-related information, such as sales, for county records. She would also be responsible for filing liens on properties which have gone into foreclosure — whether from the lender or under tax foreclosure proceedings for unpaid taxes.

Public records show Koenig has not paid winter or summer taxes on three of the six properties she owns in Lansing. She is a year behind on each property.

It's been awhile since I've paid real close attention to Lansing city/Ingham County politics ... the other two finalists for the job are Derrick Quinney and the marginally literate yet always entertaining Carol Wood. Assuming that being delinquent on property taxes is a disqualifer for a register of deeds, would the new person have to leave Lansing City Council?

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

One Gutless Nerd once again

by: Eric B.

Tue Jan 27, 2015 at 14:21:42 PM EST

What is with this guy?

LANSING, MI — Gov. Rick Snyder on Monday made a rare appearance before the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, outlining goals to improve race relations, welcome migrant farm workers and re-examine criminal sentencing guidelines.

But Snyder, in a 10-minute address, frustrated gay rights advocates in attendance by failing to mention an ongoing push to expand the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.

This reaches almost Cowardly Lion levels of courage.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Seatgate: The most bone-chillingest scandal ever to rock the Lansing bubble

by: Eric B.

Tue Jan 27, 2015 at 13:00:00 PM EST

Todd Courser, the anti-government zealot who is training his children to kill in the name of Christ, has seen things, man. Dark things. Forces colluding in the shadows to destroy the very foundations of representative government. Conspiracies upon conspiracies upon plots upon an enigma wrapped in a riddle wrapped inside a bean burrito covered in Arby's sauce.

This is not at all what happened during our first day as new representatives.  The “lottery” was merely a charade; in reality, each of us was handed a card telling us in which seat we were to sit.  When each name was drawn, we were instructed to “choose” the seat that had in fact been chosen ahead of time for us.  This is clearly contrary to the intent of the law. First steps matter; the steps that are taken on the front end of a process determines where you end up in the weeks, months, and years ahead...

Sacre bleu! Mind=blown. I'm surprised that the corpse of the assassin who silenced this brave patriot isn't already cooling in his hastily dug grave somewhere deep in the Manistee National Forest. This is just not shit you lay on the public so cavalierly.

Many may wonder why I am making such a big deal out of this - does it really matter where we all sit?  This is a critical issue for several reasons.  First, I think it goes to the heart of the integrity of this particular process and the whole of the processes of state government that we are asked to administer; I think it is appropriate to take great issue with the fact that the first thing we were all asked to do as new representatives was to break a law and act in some sort of play for the public.  This is the first set of steps on a path that is meant to set a precedent for how we are expected to behave: it's a do as you’re told and it certainly creates an inauspicious beginning for all of us who are sworn in.  Secondly, the seats were assigned in a strategic manner such that forming coalitions between like-minded legislators is very difficult.  Finally, the charade of seat selections is a small piece of a much bigger picture: go along with what those in power tell you to do, or be stripped of your ability to be an effective legislator.

It took him 200 words to explain that he really wanted to be seated where he could easily pass notes while the teacher was talking. Or is it more like conspiring? Inquiring minds don't want to know.

The first sentence of the next paragraph will have you running for your tin foil hats and the latest edition of The Lone Gunmen.

This is how the machine keeps its grip on power.

I get correspondence occasionally with sentences like this, except that they also tend to include random capitalizations, key words put into italics and underlined (which, when put into ALL CAPS and bold, is a little something called batting for the cycle). Occasionally it has something to do with Agenda 21. Occasionally. The paragraph in which this sentences appeared, by the way, clocks in at just a little north of 350 words, or more than half the length of one of my weekly columns.

He ends as he started, in that strange, blurry place between sleep and wakefulness, between day and night, which is where anyone is apt to be after penning a 2,000-word, Tolstoy-length political manifesto about seating assignments:

In His Grip... 


No doubt, brother. No doubt.

Discuss :: (10 Comments)

MichLib alum's company wins award for Dingell website

by: Eric B.

Tue Jan 27, 2015 at 11:29:15 AM EST

In today's edition of "What are MichLib alums up to?" we go back in time to Las Vegas this last weekend to visit with Laura Packard, who was one of the three founders of this here website. What was Laura doing in Las Vegas? Spending her mortgage money on slots? Getting in a swim in a fountain before the megadrought shuts off access to Lake Powell's water entirely? Getting one last cheap shrimp cocktail buffet before global resource depletion forces an end to them? No, it was this...

I just got back from an amazing weekend in Las Vegas at the 2015 Reed Awards, sponsored by Campaigns & Elections Magazine. The Reed Awards, named after Campaigns & Elections founder Stanley Foster Reed, embody excellence in political campaigning, campaign management, political consulting and political design. Chosen from the largest and smallest organizations in the industry, the winners represent the latest techniques and talent in the business. PowerThru was a finalist for three awards for our campaign website work last year — for the sites Debbie Dingell for Congress (MI-12 congressional site, SE Michigan), Oye Mi Voz (multi-lingual English/Spanish get out the vote site, aimed at Millennial Latino voters in the Sacramento CA area), and Stop Measure Q (stopping a bad ballot measure in San Bernardino CA).

Okay, so I lied. We neither went back in time nor did we go to Las Vegas. I just posted a link to, and borrowed the lede paragraph from, a post Laura wrote about what she did in Las Vegas.

Congrats to Laura and the team at Powerthru Consulting, and congratulations to Debbie Dingell's campaign team, on this. A past winner of this award went to the consulting group that helped Mike Duggan win election.

As to what else Laura did while she was in Vegas, like whether she ate shrimp cocktail from a cheap buffet, well, what happens in Vegas is not something I'm terribly interested in.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

And now, a word from our ... aw, nuts

by: Eric B.

Mon Jan 26, 2015 at 13:00:00 PM EST

I warned you. I said it was going to happen. I said that cutbacks were coming and that we were going to have to lose a third w from the headline. Well, it happened this morning. I looked over the budget and we had to cut someplace, and the w was the only place that made any sense. So, it's lost until we get a sponsor, although to be honest when that happens it'll be a proper "And now, a word from our sponsor" headline instead of one begging for money.

Would you like that to be you, to have your name -- or logo -- up in lights where everyone can see and admire it? I can make that happen. I am the gatekeeper and have the keys to all the doors. Ask around.

To get in touch with me, either send an email to ebaerren@michiganliberal.com, a text message to 517/881-8008 or over social media. The password is, "I'd like to sponsor your fine website."

Rates are $25 by the day, $100 by the week, or $360 by the month.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

The hard truth about punting on road funding

by: Eric B.

Mon Jan 26, 2015 at 10:36:00 AM EST

I have to confess to not having a strong opinion either way on the plan punted to May by the last incarnation of our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect. Part of me is suspicious of it, and part of me is angry that they were so gutless that they just couldn't do the jobs they are handsomely paid to do. Part of me is also okay with restoration of the Earned Income Tax Credit, although restoring the Homestead Property Tax credit would probably be even more benefiicial (at least to this working poor person). I also know a lot of like-minded folks hate the proposal because it's mostly regressive and just continues to shift the tax burden from non-living entities to living, breathing people. I'll probably develop a hard opinion on this, in fact, 10 minutes after I've cast my ballot and if past is prologue I predict that I'll be deeply disappointed with myself.

That said, here is the penalty for not doing your job.

Lansing — Gov. Rick Snyder may have to sell a May 5 sales tax increase proposal, tied to boosting road funding by $1.2 billion, without the full support of a powerful business ally.

The Michigan Chamber of Commerce’s members are deeply divided about whether to help bankroll the multimillion-dollar campaign to raise the sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent to fund road repairs as well as increase education and local government funding, president and CEO Rich Studley said.

Every time I appear on Off the Record, the governor's record on leadership always, always, always comes up. And there are the two conservatives, arguing that he's a great leader because of this and that and the other thing, all of which were incredibly easy for the guy to make happen. On the flip side, there is his inabillity to eject Goat Killer from his a position of leadership within his own party, even though the governor is nominally the party leader, and there was his inability to get a state health care exchange done and there was his inability to get Medicaid expanded, despite it being mostly a no-brainer except the Tenther set. He's been on about roads since 2010. If he can't make this happen, can we finally all agree that our benevolent overlord Rick Michigan doesn't have very good leadership skills?

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Michigan's finest legal mind argues that he has no business attacking medical marijuana

by: Eric B.

Mon Jan 26, 2015 at 10:17:00 AM EST

In 2008, Michigan voters were asked whether very sick people should be able to smoke weed. Michigan voters overwhelmingly said yes, because a) weed sometimes helps with the symptoms of being very sick and b) because we should leave very sick people the fuck alone and let them deal with their problems without others telling them how to do it. Two years later, Bill Schuette was elected attorney general and set about a course to try as best he could to tell very sick people how to deal with their problems. He did this by waging an unrelenting war on marijuana dispensaries, which he argued shouldn't exist because Michigan voters never intended a natural marketplace for weed to spring up, that only government can create markets.

Today, Michigan's finest legal mind argues that because in 2004, Michigan voters said that they didn't want homosexuals getting married, he's obligated to defend said-such ban even though most everyone is basically over it at this point, is okay with homosexuals getting married and just wants to move on.

Imagine what would happen if the attorney general of a state ignored a federal court ruling, failed to uphold the state constitution and paid no attention to the results of an election supported by 59% of the people statewide.

It sounds shocking. Yet amazingly, that is exactly what some voices are advocating in the debate over the definition of marriage.

Here's the back story: A decade ago, roughly 2.7 million voters in Michigan voted to amend the state's constitution to define marriage. Specifically, the voters, by a 59% margin, approved an amendment stating that "the union of one man and one woman in marriage shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose." That is now Article I, section 25 of the Michigan Constitution.

He had choices, by the way. The hands of Michigan's finest legal mind are not tied on this, to go down in death match, pitting the state constitution's ban on same-sex marriage against the majority of the state's citizens who are mostly just embarassed that we have to keep talking about it. He could have opted to give it only a nominal defense before shrugging off further action (and expenditure of taxpayer money) as a waste of resources better devoted to other things that are more important priorities to the state. He could have even said that he thought that it would eventually be ruled unconstitutional and said that he had no intention of wasting public resources in a fight others were already paying for and that he was likely to lose. Or, he could spend hundeds of thousands of dollars defending the thing, and be required to bring to the state an embarrassing clown show of witnesses that looked largely like this:


On his way to concern trolling everyone not to judge the law, he drops this little nugget.

But urging the state attorney general to decide on his or her own which laws to enforce and which to ignore is a slippery slope. Let me give one example: Michigan law does not allow for the death penalty. Yet nationally, a majority of citizens support the death penalty for convicted murderers, and an overwhelming majority support the death penalty for certain offenders, such as cop killers.

Last year was a particularly brutal year for law enforcement. Nationwide, more than 100 officers lost their lives in the line of duty, including two brave peace officers here in Michigan. Under the theory advanced by some gay marriage defenders, the attorney general and other elected officials should ignore Michigan's prohibition and apply the death penalty to those criminals convicted of killing police officers.

I give you January's nominee for the Worst Political Metaphor of 2015, comparing a state's attorney general who leads a lynch mob against cop-killing drug dealers with a state's attorney general who says, "We are likely to lose at the Supreme Court, so we'll file a brief saying that we support this law as the will of voters, but will lift a finger no heavier than that." P.S. The state's attorney general doesn't get to "apply" the death penalty. That would be the job of a judge. But, since Michigan's finest legal mind has a) no relevant experience in a court of law at the trial level and b) in the case of medical marijuana dispensaries simply used an attorney's general opinion as an argument for why the state supreme court should narrow how people get medical marijuana, you can understand his confusion at how the legal system works.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Weekend thread, open for your convenience

by: Eric B.

Sat Jan 24, 2015 at 11:59:02 AM EST

The last couple of days, for a couple of different reasons, I've been contemplating edamame. it might seem like a strange think to contemplate if you live in mid-Michigan, except that a) I really like salted, boiled edamame pods to eat with beer, and b) they are easy to grow. I used to grow them because they would help lock additional nitrogen into the soil of the garden I keep, so I would have less need to add nutrients.

We've also hit what are statistically speaking the coldest days of the year. It's the seasonal calendar's equivalent of Wednesday. After, oh, Groundhog Day it really is all downhill into summer, which is the weekend. What am I talking about? Yesterday, I went to get my paycheck, and it took four solid minutes to get dressed so I could go the three blocks to pick it up. I also had to get to the bank, my ISP and the coop to pick up lunch, alll of which involved further annoyance. All told, it took me 45 minutes to accompllish errands than in summer might take 20.

Also, for me, there's no edamame. For you, there is only open thread.

Discuss :: (15 Comments)

On atheism, West Michigan and the end of Christian supremacy

by: Eric B.

Sat Jan 24, 2015 at 11:03:13 AM EST

If you pay much attention to demographic trends, one of the most striking is how unreligious young people are these days. It's been a trend, like newspaper circulation, that has been in decline for a very long time but has accelerated with the millenials. They are increasingly not interested in religion and find new, other ways to build community. You can probably blame the Internet for that, too.

That has set up yet another unavoidable generational conflict, that between the religious and the irreligious. It was at the heart of last month's controversy over Satanists from Detroit erecting a display on the state Capitol lawn, John Truscott calling it a public disgrace and Rick Jones finding someone to man the Nativity scene. It's now playing out in West Michigan, too.

— What is an atheist doing in the heart of Michigan's Bible Belt?

Raising hell, for one thing.

Mitch Kahle, who moved to this lakefront community in western Michigan a year ago, has quickly made his presence felt.

He convinced Ottawa County to remove a religious sign from a county park, persuaded Grand Haven to turn a 48-foot cross on city land into an anchor, and got two school districts to stop a minister from continuing to hold lunchtime programs at schools.

I heartily endorse all of this. There might have been a time when it was okay to put this stuff on public property, when communities were more homogenous, religiously speaking. It's not right, mind you, because it's still sends a message to dissenting belief systems that they exist on a lower tier, but you can rationalize it as an expression of community identity.

That age has passed, however. We now live in a time when communities are rapidly becoming more diverse places because of changes in who the American people just happen to be. And one of those places is in public expressions of spirituality.

I mark my official "coming out of the closet" as an atheist to a column I wrote about half a decade ago in opposition to the blue laws that prevented me from buying booze on Christmas. Why should I, the consumer, be forced to amend my purchasing habits to someone else's religious beliefs? The response I received was a torrent of rage and hate. Like this:

"How is it that a dirtbag can come into a community and cause so much controversy and destruction?" asked Rick Phillips, 59, a Spring Lake real estate broker who organized a rally to support the cross last year. "These carpetbaggers need to be driven from our community."

Now that I think about it, I received a piece of correspondence when my son was still an infant advising me that because I'd expressed myself that I'd consigned my son to eternal damnation. That was more than a decade ago, but the real point are the horrible things that self-described Christians feel entitled to say about people with different religious beliefs, especially those of us who are atheists.

Unfortunately for them, Christianity in America is in a state of generational contraction. Of the people I know, and I know a lot of people at all age groups, the percentage of them who are regular church goers is roughly inversely proportional to their age. While it's true that people tend to find God as they get older, a lot of those people grew up nominally and socially part of a church and who maintain connections to it throughout their young lives. Most of the young people I know these days simply say, "No thank you."

This sets up these sorts of legal fights. And social and cultural fights. It also strikes me as no surprising thing that Mitch Kahle wants to spark a number of culture wars across the state, but that are liberal in nature. I've met a lot of Christian people who believe that you need to believe in God to have an actual moral center, that people who don't believe in God have no source for a common morality except that we were raised properly.

That's a fairly insulting argument, and one that skips past the uncomfortable realities that established codes for morality predate the Bible. Some of it is based on the idea that unless we have rules we have chaos, some of it is -- I suspect -- hard wired into our genetics. As a species, contrary to what the Randians think, we do not thrive as individuals. No great human accomplishment was ever realized without group effort. We are a gregarious, weak creature and before we harnassed the power of our brains required others of our kind to survive. Would anyone be surprised to learn that, as such, our species' basic genetic code reflects that we require unspoken rules in how to interact and treat each other?

That is perhaps too much philosophical musing in a thing that is about what will become more frequent conflicts between the religious and America's growing number of people who remain unaffiliated, spiritually speaking. Change is coming, and like a lot of change that is taking place, our population of aging white people are the least likely to think that it's a good thing.

Discuss :: (7 Comments)

Benevolent overlord to meet with civil rights commission; Eliot-Larsen a possible topic

by: Eric B.

Sat Jan 24, 2015 at 09:26:51 AM EST

From Gongwer:

Governor Rick Snyder is planning Monday to attend the Civil Rights Commission's meeting, potentially making him only the second sitting governor to make that trek.

Mr. Snyder announced Friday that he would be attending the meeting to outline his priorities for the coming year. An issue likely to be discussed is changes to the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to provide protections for sexual orientation and gender identity.

it'll be interesting to see what our benevolent overlord does about the recalcitrance by our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect. As most of you know, he renewed calls to "discuss" expanding Eliot-Larsen in his state of the state.

For the record, they had the votes to move a fully inclusive expansion last Lame Duck. They also had the support of the business community. Why didn't they? Because Jase Bolger is a dick, who then blamed "the gays" for his own dickishness (as he always did). And, as we know, Mt. Pleasant's Finest isn't interested himself (despite the fact that his hometown two years ago expanded its own local version of Eliot-Larsen). The stumbling block was, is and will for the foreseeable future be our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect. Perhaps this is a sign that our benevolent overlord recognizes that and, like his work on the second Detroit bridge, is looking for a way to skirt it.

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