Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Patience Is Wearing Thin

They say opinions are like assholes - everybody has one. Nowhere has that been more obvious to me than with today's letter to the editor from Christie Miller of Tupelo. Since she's seen fit to bare hers to the world, I'd like to present her with mine. Perhaps some would see this as a bit of petulance on my part but I think a large reason why we've gotten into the mess we're in is because we've decided it is impolite to ridicule stupidity. I disagree with that and, as my patience wears ever thinner with these "forced birth" people, I intend to indulge in as much pointed ridicule as I can.

God frowns upon Mississippians, as they voted NO on Amendment 26 that stated life begins at the moment of conception.

How the hell do you know that? Can you see Yahweh's face because even Moses wasn't given that privilege (Exodus 33:20). Or did Yahweh come down and tell you he was pissed? Can you please explain how you know anything about how Yahweh feels at a particular time and who the hell gave you the right to speak for said deity? (Perhaps there is some truth in I Timothy 5:13-14 which advises that it's best to keep women pregnant and busy; otherwise, they run around talking too much and poking their noses in people's business as we see here.)

How could this state, known as the Bible Belt of the South, have been so blinded and misinformed? Many myths and out right lies were circulated by the pro-choice advocates, but one cannot place all blame on these.

The reason so many are blind and misinformed is because they look to the Bible and their preachers as the ultimate source of truth and those are not valid places to look for scientific truth. As long as we've used holy books to determine scientific truth, we've thought that the earth was a flat disc, that a wife's fidelity could be determined by water, that bats were birds, insects have four legs, and that breeds are determined by whatever kind of plants they happen to look at while they mate. When we put aside these silly tales and take up actual scientific inquiry, we learn the causes for disease and how to cure (or better yet prevent) many of them. We learn how the world works and we use these discoveries to improve our lives. We didn't get good vaccines, surgical procedures, or plans for space shuttles from the Bible - we got them from science. So when you are going to the Bible as your source of authority for biology and American law, you've already double-failed.

The Bible, God's Holy Word, utterly dispels all that Planned Parenthood and the pro-choice groups would have one believe. Even nature itself provides common sense in defense of pro-life. It is each individual's responsibility to seek out and separate the truths from the untruths.

Are you still talking about the Bible? What is it going to take for you to extract your head from your rear and learn that ancient holy books are not scientifically accurate? What if we make a rule that those who do not value science no longer get to benefit from it? How about we take away your car, your computer, your cell phone, your easily-accessible food and clean water, your medications, and all the shit that makes your life worthwhile. Why don't we just take all that away from you and you can fall back on your Bible and take its advice instead. I can't wait to see you pack up your gear and trek to the Mississippi River, take a dip in it, and hope that your cancer is somehow cured.

As for what nature says, don't get me started. Some animals eat their young. Some primates kill the children of rival females. Nature is not always the best place to go for our morals as I suspect you well know. After all, we know that many animals are homosexual but you don't go saying that it's ok for humans to be gay because of that, right? 

Ignorance is indeed the enemy, and public perception seems to be guided by those with the least amount of knowledge at the present time.

You're totally right. Our public perception is largely guided by people like you who don't know jack about anything but are happy to spread that ignorance around in large doses. If you had any knowledge on the subject, you'd be making rational arguments from biology and law but you don't have any. All you have is your interpretation of an old book and your concept of a god (who apparently always agrees with you). 

Albert Einstein said, "Never do anything against conscience even if the state demands it."

I agree with this too for the most part. And since the government isn't demanding that you abort or use contraceptives, feel free not to do so. As for the rest of us, leave us the hell alone. Our consciences are every bit as important as yours.

Amendment 26 is not a socialistic governmental issue, but instead a life or death morality issue. Having said that, the current socialist White House Administration is very pleased with the citizens of Mississippi: God is not.

And with that last sentence, you just proved that you have no knowledge or insight on anything much that's going on politically. Apparently, all you can give us is whatever drops off the lips of the most ignorant and insane among us. At this point, no reasonable person should take you seriously since you think a center-right administration is somehow "socialist."

"Thus saith the Lord," Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord." Jeremiah 17:5.

Honestly, I don't care about the words of a deity who doesn't understand the world he supposedly made or how anything in it works. His curses don't scare me in the least. But if we want to play the battle of out-of-context verses, I'll offer up this one to you, Ms. Miller:

Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. - I Timothy 2:11-12.

That means you need to hush and quit lecturing men about how they should have voted. You are sinning - a disgrace to your husband and to your god.

Mississippians neglected a perfect God-given right and opportunity to lead this nation in the right direction, and instead chose to wander, just as the Children of Israel in the wilderness for forty years. It has been thirty-eight years since Roe vs. Wade, with forty years fast approaching. With the number forty meaning probation, Mississippians as well as this nation as a whole, should awaken to the truth.

No, Mississippians rejected the temptation to take your particular religious view and make it law. I know this may come as a shock to you but not every Christian interprets the Bible the same way you do and not everyone in Mississippi is a Christian. You have NO right to make your religion my law. You have NO right to determine my medical treatment for me. And you have absolutely NO right to demand that I have kids just because you think they are precious gifts from your god. What makes you think you have the authority to demand this of us?

Oh, I know. Because of your god. Because, sadly, you are playing god. 

Truly, God is long-suffering, but His patience will not last forever.

Truly, I'm not very long-suffering any more. I'm done with patience because people like you interpret silence as consent. I do not consent to your theocratic, pseudoscientific bullshit. I will not allow you to force your religious beliefs on me. And I will not sit idly by and let you lie and threaten Mississippians in the newspaper like a spoiled child because you didn't get your way. I seriously suggest that you go to your room for a time out and read the Bill of Rights. Read the history of America. Read and understand that you have a right to your religion but you've got no authority to make the rest of us believe it or practice it. You aren't a god. You're just a selfish kid who's mad because you didn't get your way and now your screaming, "My daddy's going to get you all!" Guess what? We don't care. We're not interested. Some of us don't see your god as a malevolent tyrant and some of us don't believe in him at all. So quit wasting our time with the foot-stamping. Grow up a little and realize that you don't own the playpen and you're stuck in it with those of us who aren't going to roll over or bow down every time you throw a fit. No, every time you come at us with this kind of nonsense, we are going to point and laugh and call you out for what you are. 

And for those who are extremely pissed off now that I've hit a nerve or two, there's a place for comments just below. Use it. Speak your mind. There's plenty more where this came from.

Friday, November 25, 2011

New Charts Reveal Personhood USA Doesn't Know Facts

If there's one thing I hate, it's a liar. The people involved with Personhood USA seem to be very angry with liars also. The trouble is: I say they are lying and they say Planned Parenthood is lying. In 5 minutes that I will never get back, I read Keith Ashley's little article entitled "New Poll Reveals Real Reason Behind Mississippi Personhood Loss." It came with a neat little pie chart and a whole bucketload of claims. 

The entire paper can easily be summed up as follows:

Planned Parenthood took our tax dollars and funneled it into Mississippi from out of state to lie about us and make everyone think we wanted to get rid of in vitro fertilization and birth control. They spent over a million dollars to make us look bad. How could we compete with that? 


For those of us who choose to live in reality on planet Earth, let's take a look at their whinging and complaining and see if we can find some facts.

1. Everyone should have known that IVF, birth control, and women's healthcare was safe because the Mississippi Center for Public Policy said so.

FACT: That's a huge argument from authority. The Mississippi Center for Public Policy is not an unbiased organization. They promote "strong traditional families" which we know is code for right-wing religious beliefs. To expect that one analysis from a biased source should have settled the debate is ludicrous.

2. Planned Parenthood sent over a million dollars to Mississippi to fight prop 26.

FACT: The truth is not nearly as simple as Personhood USA makes it out to be. As I demonstrated in our video "Following the Money," Planned Parenthood wasn't the only out-of-state contributor and wasn't even the biggest out-of-state contributor at the time. After analyzing the October 2011 financial reports, I discovered that 16% of all donations to Mississippians for Healthy Families were "in kind" donations. Again, that means they were NOT cash donations - they were materials, supplies, time, etc. If we're going to pretend that campaign money is dirty, then we must exclude all "in kind" donations.

If we leave in the "in kind" donations, Planned Parenthood did send 82% of the donations, the SEIU sent 3%, the FPA sent 1%, and the ACLU sent 2%. The remaining 12% was divided between private donations (5%) and non-itemized entries (7%). 

But, as I said, it's not really right to leave these "in kind" donations in the equation as if it's cash; after all, Personhood USA claims that Planned Parenthood sent in over a million dollars to fight 26. When we run the numbers again based solely on cash donations, we find this:

Planned Parenthood - $904,750.00 (82%)
Private Donations - $67,250.00 (6%)
SEIU - $40,000.00 (4%)
Non-itemized contributions - $89,260.97 (8%)

So when Ashley writes, "As of October 31, with well over a week to go before the election, they reported a hefty $1,030,000 poured into Mississippi from out of state Planned Parenthood affiliates alone." he is not actually making a factual statement.

Now I'd be remiss if I didn't apply the same vigorous scrutiny to the Yes on 26 campaign finance report. If you'll recall from the video I mentioned above, Yes on 26 did what I thought was a sloppy job of writing up their reports. I couldn't get their numbers to add up right and, unfortunately, I still can't. But I'm close enough from using their line-by-line numbers to give you what I believe to be a very fair and very close estimate. May I remind you at this time that NO donations were labeled "in kind" by Yes on 26. Everything they took in was cold, hard cash.

Personhood USA (Colorado) - $824,175.42 (78.4%)
AFA - $136,485.95 (13.0%)
Private Donations - $73,744.50 (7.0%)
Non-itemized contributions - $15,892.00 (1.5%)
MS Pro-life groups - $1,600.00 (0.2%)

When you take an honest look at the money, Personhood USA has no reason to whine. They came very close to singlehandedly putting more out-of-state money in the game than all the Planned Parenthood resources combined. And just as an aside, when Personhood USA talks about all the doctors, lawyers, and important people who backed them, it is worth remembering that many doctors, lawyers, accountants, retired military, and many others donated to fight 26. Their contributions should never be forgotten.

3. The money Planned Parenthood put into the Mississippians for Healthy Families campaign was income from our tax dollars. 

FACT: Federal tax dollars are required by law to be used for family planning services (not including abortions). There are strict rules governing the use of federal funds and PP has been investigated and found compliant numerous times. Personhood USA would be better served making sure that the churches they use to peddle their politics don't end up losing their tax exempt status because they can't follow the rules.

4. Planned Parenthood deceived Mississippi voters by making them believe Haley Barbour voted no.

FACT: Mississippians for Healthy Families did run an ad that used a media clip in which Barbour expressed his (well-founded) misgivings about 26. They had every right to use it but they did stop when he asked them to. There was no intent to deceive here - they simply repeated the clip and he did the talking word-for-word.

5.  Planned Parenthood deceived Mississippi voters by making them believe IVF, birth control, and women's healthcare was at risk.

FACT: Those things were at risk and if you still don't believe that, then you either haven't read Personhood USA's (and the other groups') literature or else you are incapable of simple logic. Time after time we exposed these groups saying in black and white that they wanted to get rid of IUDs, the Pill, and frozen embryos. A couple of times we even found where their literature stated that the mother's life wasn't as important as the fertilized egg's rights which would imply that treatment for an ectopic pregnancy might be delayed or refused. Every time they were presented with their own words, they stuck their fingers in their ears, shouted LA LA LA, and tried to redo their web pages. If anyone did any deceiving, it was on Personhood's side of the fence, not ours.

6. Useful information can be gleaned from the pie chart based on the exit polls located at the bottom of the article.

FACT: We can't really make any definitive statements other than the fact that whoever made the pie chart knew how to make a pie chart. We are not told how this exit poll was conducted. We are told that 10,000 people were polled on a question that almost 800,000 people voted on. The sample size of 1.25% isn't anything to write home about, especially considering that we don't know how these people were selected. Was it random? Were only registered Republicans (or Democrats) called? Did they self-select? It's important to know these things if we don't want our results to be tainted with bias.

Also, we don't know how many answers the respondent was able to choose. If the person could only give one answer, then Personhood USA needs to explain how 8% of 10,000 = 28. But if respondents were allowed several answers or were forced to list their answers in a particular order, then it will be difficult to draw any solid conclusions from the poll. For this reason, I am very skeptical of their claims that only 8% were pro-choice and only 8% were worried about no rape/incest exceptions. We just don't know enough about how the polling was done to feel as confident about the results as Ashley does.

So what have we learned from this whole fiasco? Well, this is what I've learned:

1. Personhood proponents believe math means whatever they want it to mean. I've never seen such sloppiness on reports and figures and that's particularly disturbing when the treasurer is getting paid $6k/month to fill out those simple reports. 

2. Personhood proponents believe science means whatever they want it to mean. They generally seem to distrust science when it comes to origins of life, age of the earth, evolution of the species, and such. But they fully embrace its language when they need to use it to push something and they don't let little things like facts or evidence get in the way of a good story.

3. Personhood proponents believe the law means whatever they want it to mean. They play fast and loose with legal language just as well as they do math and science terms. It's almost as if they are playing Twister with words. They seem to think that if they just throw enough big words out, the stupid sheep will come gobble them up.

4. Personhood proponents believe that the ends justify the means. If one must lie, slander, and demonize others to get one's way, oh well. They should remember that childhood saying: when you point your finger at someone, you have three fingers pointing back at you.

Personhood is not finished, not by a long shot. Although the concept is rooted in hard-core creationist minds, it is not intelligently designed by any means. It, like every other messy organism struggling to survive, is evolving as we speak. It is adapting to hostile environments and is learning new ways to propagate itself. If we want to see this thing go extinct, we must continue the exhausting work of rooting out the lies and severing the heart of the beast. I know we are all really tired of this. I know our friends and families probably don't want to hear about it any more. But we are no less in danger from Personhood now than we were a month ago. We must renew ourselves, reequip ourselves, and get moving. We must reach across state lines and help our neighbors as they so kindly helped us. Remember: anything you can do is helpful. It's not just about money (though that's always nice). Sometimes, making a picture, writing a blog, talking to someone, or volunteering some time is all you need to make a difference.  Get your gear on, team! The DFFT patrol is ready for action!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Brief History of the AFA

The American Family Association is one of the most influential "family" organizations in the United States. In November 2010, the association was labeled as a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center. I intend to document the history of the AFA here including its activities and prove that they have long deserved the titles of "hate group" and "anti-freedom."

The organization actually began in 1977 as the National Federation for Decency and was started by United Methodist minister Donald Wildmon (b. 18 Jan 1938, in Dumas, MS). Wildmon graduated from Millsaps College in 1960, served in the Army from 1961-1963, then got his Master of Divinity (MDiv) in 1965 from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University. In 1977, he moved* to Tupelo to found the National Federation for Decency as a way to fight against pornography and violence, particularly on television. The organization's mission was to foster "the biblical ethic of decency in American Society with the primary emphasis on television." They started with only 1400 members and protested any show, network, or sponsor that supported what they determined to be violent or immoral. The NDF's first boycott was in 1978 when they targeted Sears for sponsoring three shows that they disapproved of: All in the Family, Charlie's Angels, and Three's Company. Although I couldn't find concrete evidence of what displeased Wildmon so much, I believe it had a lot to do with seeing strong, sexy women, women cohabiting with a man, and Carroll O'Connor's use of the word "god dammit."

In 1980, Wildmon joined forces with Jerry Falwell to create the Coalition for Better Television (CBTV). This group monitored television content and analyzed it to record the number of infractions - much in the way some who are virulently anti-pornography watch loads of it so they can tell us how awful it is. Although the group claimed membership in the millions, it fell apart only 2 years later when Wildmon and Falwell split, but not before they had bullied Proctor & Gamble into pulling advertising on about 50 TV shows.

From there, Wildmon founded Christian Leaders for Responsible Television (CLEAR-TV) and branched out from just TV into movies and magazines. He organized protests against any company that created or sold adult content while continuing to push for television programming to be censored according to his standards. No one was safe from the threat of boycott: not bookstores, not convenience stores, not even hotel chains. He successfully targeted Pepsico, Mazda, and Burger King among many others.

In 1987 he renamed his organization the American Family Association. It is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that seems to have its fingers in every pot imaginable. This empire boasts 180 radio stations,  a popular monthly publication (AFA Journal), a news division (, and a legal arm (Center for Law & Policy) that was shut down in 2007. The organization runs on a $14 million dollar yearly budget. There are approximately 3.4 million subscribers to their "Action Alerts" in which they instruct followers to protest or boycott anything that the organization deems offensive or unAmerican. If only 1% of those subscribers act on any given instruction, then they still have a powerful voice.

The AFA will boycott over anything that gets under their skin but they have a few targets close to their heart: the inappropriately named "War on Christmas," pro-choice activities, anything sexual, and LGBT issues. Their protest/boycott efforts include but are not limited to:

7-Eleven - selling adult magazines
Abercrombie & Fitch - using "pornography" in their catalog
American Airlines
American Girl - supporting the charity Girls, Inc.
Blockbuster Video - renting adult films
Burger King - advertising on shows considered "anti-family"
Calvin Klein
Campbell Soup - advertising in an LGBT magazine
Carl's Jr.
Domino's Pizza - supporting Saturday Night Live
Ford Motor Co. - advertising in gay magazines; promoting homosexuality
GAP Stores - not using the word "Christmas"
General Mills - supporting Saturday Night Live
Hallmark - selling same-sex wedding cards
Home Depot - promoting homosexuality
Kmart - selling "adult" CDs
Mary Kay
Mazda - supporting Saturday Night Live
McDonald's - having a director on the board of the NGLCC
Movie Gallery - renting adult films
Nike - promoting same-sex marriage
Old Navy
PepsiCo - supporting sacrilegious advertising (Madonna)
Proctor & Gamble - advertising on shows considered "anti-family"
Ralston Purina - supporting Saturday Night Live
S.C. Johnson & Son
Target - not using the word "Christmas"
Waldenbooks -  selling adult magazines
Walt Disney - offering benefits to same-sex employees

Although there have been some cases of the boycotts being at least partially successful, in recent years they seem to become less and less effective. The organization takes credit for a lot of store closings and other decisions that cannot be directly linked to their boycott efforts, a failure to understand that correlation doesn't equal causation if ever there was one. The AFA is also known to make grandiose claims about their success that don't always pan out to be true.

The AFA has been working diligently to erase the separation between church and state, particularly by trying to convince Christians that they are now a persecuted minority being oppressed by the federal government. He sees the solution to all our social ills as reinstating school prayer, electing only "godly" politicians who parrot his views, ending abortion and sex education, and cleaning up all forms of communication so they conform to his standards. 

No one is safe from the AFA's demonization. In the 1980s, Wildmon mentioned on a few occasions that he thought Hollywood was run by a Jewish cabal that sought to put programming on the air that would promote anti-Christian values and undermine the Christian culture. In 2005 he threatened the Anti-Defamation League with a loss of support for Israel by AFA members if its president Abraham Foxman didn't stop criticizing the religious right. 

November 2006, the AFA had a fit when Congressman Keith Ellison, the first Muslim to be elected, was sworn in on a Quran. Since that time, the AFA, chiefly through their tool Bryan Fischer, have done everything they can to convince Americans that all Muslims are evil and out to destroy America. Fischer has even gone so far to say that Muslim Americans should not have the same rights to free speech, assembly, and religious expression as Christians do. This is just the tip of the iceberg of Bryan Fischer's (and the AFA by proxy's) hate.

As far as money goes, the AFA has plenty of it and they don't mind using it to promote their absolute hatred of freedom. They spent $500,000 to pass Prop 8 in California against marriage equality. They spent $140,000 in Iowa to defeat some judges they didn't like. They spent at least $125,000 in Mississippi to promote the Personhood Amendment/Yeson26 campaign. And they also funneled money to Texas for Rick Perry's ridiculous prayer rally.

Although Donald Wildmon has stepped down from the leadership of the AFA, his son Tim runs it now as president. Nevertheless, Bryan Fischer appears to be the most public face and certainly the loudest voice of the AFA. It's a well-documented fact that the organization has suffered from and still suffers from a strict, authoritarian management style (probably driven by ego mania on the part of its leaders) and that working there is not very "comfortable." Employees have been criticized, chastised, and censored with no regards to their feelings or situations. They are generally not allowed to question organization leadership and they are expected to play fast and loose with the facts in order to further vilify AFA's opponents. The organization is believed to have at least loose ties to some racist organizations such as the American Renaissance magazine and FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform). But regardless of which group the AFA is targeting for their bile, you can always be sure that their barbs will be wrapped in the American flag and delivered in the name of God and the family. 

So, to wrap up, the AFA has been in existence under one name or another for about 35 years. It's primary goals are to censor American thought, speech, and media and to control American government through the merge of (their particular) church and state. If you boil all this down, you get one overarching theme: these people hate freedom and they don't want you to have any AT ALL.

As I have said before, the AFA has been working to undermine our freedom and spread their hatred almost as long as I've been alive. There is no way I could possibly list everything they have done here but I've given you a good start. I will write more in the coming weeks to try to zero in on what they've done and what they are doing. If you are interested, please be sure to check out our weekly podcast which will always contain an AFA Watch segment.

If you'd like to strike back at the AFA, please visit the blog every day for our Carrotmob list on the right section of the screen. These are stores that the AFA is boycotting. We don't ask you to necessarily shop at these stores (though that would be nice if you wish to) but we hope you'll find a way to contact them and let them know that the AFA's stranglehold on this country is about to end. It's time for Mississippi to "take out the trash" so I hope you'll help us however you can and stay tuned!

*Although the referenced article says that Wildmon moved to Tupelo in 1977, sources below say that he was already in town. I have reason to believe this is true.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Introducing DFFT Carrotmobs!

As part of our ongoing commitment to dethrone and neutralize the AFA, we at DFFT are proud to introduce Carrotmobbing! What is carrotmobbing, you may ask? Well, it's the opposite of boycotting.

You know how the AFA likes to boycott every company that isn't as bigoted or homophobic as they are? Well, we are going to keep tabs on their boycott list and encourage you to carrotmob those stores. Here's how you can do it:

If you plan to shop, consider giving your trade to stores on the AFA's target list. If you do not plan to shop, follow our links and show your support. You can call, email, or simply send them a comment letting them know that not all Mississippians buy into the AFA's hate and we support the store's efforts at inclusiveness and diversity.

So keep an eye on the right side of the screen where we'll keep an ongoing, updated list of boycotted stores for your convenience. If you think this is a good idea, please participate and share, share, SHARE. That's the only way we're going to change Mississippi. If you don't think this is a good idea, leave us feedback telling us why. Thanks, guys, for your time and efforts. Let's turn this state around!

Barbour Blues

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Satan Wins

Listen to the first track from our upcoming album Accountability Is a Bitch. This is a remix of the Yes on 26 press conference audio. It is not intended to be in context or to necessarily represent anyone's point of view. Just take it for what it's meant to be - a funny, but frightening, song.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Skeptic's Duty

A credulous mind will believe whatever it's told and, generally, will put the most weight on the last statement heard. A skeptic, however, is not so easily persuaded. With any subject, it is reasonable to start with the null hypothesis and require evidence in order to believe. For example, if you told me that you had an alien spacecraft in your barn, I'm not likely to believe that until you show me the evidence. The same applies in everyday life: if you tell me that an extraordinary thing is true, then I'm going to need to see some extraordinary proof.

Amending a Constitution falls into the realm of the extraordinary as far as I'm concerned. Constitutions aren't easily amended for a reason and they certainly aren't something we should tinker around with on a whim. Changes are difficult to make and just as difficult to repeal; therefore, if there is any doubt as to whether an amendment is good, then the skeptic must (in good conscience) vote no.

It's very telling that many Mississippians fell into the "yes" category solely on the basis of the feel-good language and that they had to be educated into voting no. If our society were skeptically minded, the opposite would have been true. We must work to educate our families, friends, and neighbors into the skeptical mindset - not just for future elections, but so that these people can better protect themselves from the schemes, frauds, and fakes that assail us every day. We must help them understand the value of the null hypothesis and the importance of evidence in their daily decision-making process.

The poster boy for failed skepticism over 26 is Gov. Haley Barbour. He was skeptical about the amendment - unsure of its consequences and ramifications. And yet he claims he voted for it. He offers us no new evidence that helped change his mind. He appears to have voted for it (or at least said he voted for it) simply because it pissed off the AFA and its cronies. If he didn't vote for it and said he did, then he's a tool. If he did vote for it after expressing such concerns, then he fell victim to sloppy thinking and emotional appeals. He failed in his duty to uphold the Mississippi Constitution. Either way, I think he did himself and our state a great disservice.

In the days to come, let's remember to focus on the fact that the null hypothesis is the way to go. We must teach others to be skeptical of personhood claims (especially religious claims) and not be afraid to demand good evidence to back up all the assertions. People must come to realize that credulous belief is no virtue and may, in fact, cause a great deal more harm than anyone realizes.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sour Grapes: Wildmon Chastises Mississippi Voters

They say that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree but, as my late father-in-law used to say, "It can sure the fuck roll downhill." Nowhere has this been more evident to me than in the Wildmon family. I had the privilege of having Mrs. Ettis Wildmon as a kindergarten teacher. She was the kindest, most gentle person who went out of her way to make an awkward, painfully shy, little girl feel welcome in a new place. She helped me learn how to write my name properly and encouraged my love for science. She was a wonderful woman who shaped my early childhood in very positive ways. Little did I know then that her son and grandson would become the bane of my existence.

Now we are forced to deal with the wormy apples that rolled too far downhill. After their stinging defeat over prop 26, the Wildmons and their AFA circus are lashing out at Mississippians who voted no and trying to pull the biggest guilt trip of all time. Let's take Tim "Sour Grapes" Wildmon's claims apart one at a time so we can see where the dishonesty really lies.

I, however, still believe that a majority of Mississippians agree that human life does begin at conception but they voted “no” anyway, in effect, being intellectually dishonest with themselves. To many who adhere to the Judeo-Christian moral value system, this kind of thinking has grave moral implications.

Let's dispel this myth that the Bible says abortion is murder and all Christians must believe that. The Bible doesn't directly talk about abortion anywhere so any scriptural belief we derive from the Bible must be inferred. That right there leaves a lot of room for human error and bias. Prop 26 supporters most often trotted out verses like Jeremiah 1: 4-5, Job 31:14-15, and Psalm 139:13-14. They failed to notice two very important things: first, these verses refer to the "womb" which is the uterus. They do not refer to conception in the Fallopian tubes. Therefore, the best we could say is that the Bible supports life at implantation. But the second important thing to note is that this is poetic language specifically reserved for anointed prophets, kings, and messengers. It is not used to refer to the unwashed masses.

Another important verse that is often left out is Exodus 21:22 which says: 

If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart [from her], and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges [determine].

One can reasonably infer from this that an unborn child did not have the same value under the law as a born person. Causing the death of an unborn was not murder or manslaughter - it was a property crime against the husband. The punishment was not stoning but was a fine.

Not to mention Genesis 2:7 which describes Adam as dust until God breathed the "breath of life" into him and he became a "living soul." This could be interpreted to mean that a human must breathe in order to be a person.

So for those who want to base their anti-abortion beliefs on the Bible, they have a tough sell to anybody who has actually read the book. The arguments work great on the churched masses who only hear what their preachers read to them but they do not work as well on anyone who has read the Bible cover to cover.

But the vote does not change the facts. We all know scientifically that life begins at conception or fertilization; otherwise there would be no reason to have an abortion in the first place.

Here Wildmon plays fast and loose with definitions. Scientifically, we know that life began billions of years ago and, through evolution, has continued down the ages. Scientifically, we also know that "life" generally exists before conception: the sperm and the egg are both living human tissue, each with their own unique DNA. While it is true that these gametes fuse at conception and may begin the journey toward birth, it is not necessarily true that this is a magical moment of personhood. There is no evidence that a soul (whatever that is) is fused into a fertilized egg at the moment of conception. When you consider the scientific fact that most of these fertilized eggs will be lost during a woman's monthly cycle, it's difficult to ascribe any particular value to them. 

Abortion is a gruesome, savage, unnatural procedure. Even pro-choice advocates do not want to hear it described in detail because it is more than most people can stomach. The most common form of abortion is called suction curettage. 

As we can see from the figures provided by the Guttmacher Institute, most abortions are done in the first trimester. RU486 can be used up to 9 weeks (though it is recommended only for 7 weeks) and it is very safe and effective. A woman gets 2-3 pills, inserts them vaginally, and then has something like a heavy period. Physically, it is not that big of a deal.

The suction-aspiration method is indeed the most common method in the first 15 weeks. This "mini-suction" procedure does not require dilation of the cervix, rods, or any of the things Wildmon went on to discuss in this article. He seems to be referring to the dilation and curettage (D & C) procedure which is the second most common type of surgical abortion or the intact dilation and extraction (D & E) which is rarely done at all.

D & C has a lot of other important uses and it is not nearly as common as it used to be since RU486 got approval. It's purpose is to remove tissue from the uterus. This may be tissue not shed during menstruation, a retained placenta, an incomplete miscarriage, or indeed a fetus under 15 weeks. This method only accounted for 2.4% of abortions in 2002 and continues to decline.

After 16 weeks, an intact dilation and extraction must be done. Few abortions are done after this time as you can see from the chart above. It does sound like a rather gruesome procedure but I've yet to see any kind of surgery that wasn't. It's also worth mentioning that the U.S. has a partial birth abortion ban in place so women in their third trimester can't get up one morning, skip to the clinic, and decide to get one for fun....and what idiot thinks this is the case in the first place?

So how could people who are self-described “pro-life” vote against an amendment that says life begins at conception? One explanation might be that that they said to themselves, “Yes, life begins at conception but … so what? If people want to have abortions, what do I care?”

A better explanation for this is probably, "I don't like abortion but this amendment goes too far." Despite what the AFA and Phil Bryant said, this wasn't simple. The amendment was so broad that it could have many implications. It's very disingenuous of them to pretend that a reasonable person couldn't see 26 as a threat to birth control - particularly when the Yes on 26 site and the Personhood literature clearly stated that they wanted to ban some types of it.  I don't think the issue is that nobody cares about abortion. I think the truth is that a lot of Mississippians do care about abortion and they understand that having birth control access is one way to keep abortion rates low. I also suspect that many Mississippians care a great deal about the women in their lives too and are not willing to risk those precious lives for the sake of Wildmon's rabid dogma.

In other words, not enough voters believed that life begins at conception and that human life is sacred. Sacredness is a religious concept, I understand. Perhaps this reverence for human life will not be recaptured when it comes to abortion because individualism trumps righteousness in modern day America. The right to choose, it is called.

Perhaps most voters understood that 26 didn't ask us when life begins - it asked if a fertilized egg should be granted legal personhood. There is a tremendous difference between the two concepts. Hopefully many voters also understood that their view of "life is sacred" is a religious belief that should not be enforced by secular law. And finally, perhaps some voters understood that the right to life must be balanced by the right to liberty. No woman is free if she cannot access birth control and make decisions about her pregnancy. To force her to breed for the church or state makes her nothing more than a brood mare. If some women want to be QuiverFull moms, that's their choice. But the state has no business compelling women to breed.

Abortion is the shedding of innocent blood, and 99 percent of the time it is done for convenience or birth control purposes.

Once again, this "innocent blood" thing is Wildmon's religious belief, a belief he wants every Mississippian to be forced to accept. I find it very telling that he doesn't seem to care about the innocent children who are neglected and abused in this state. He hasn't come out strongly against the innocent children who've been beaten to death in the name of his faith (usually with a copy of Michael & Debi Perl's "To Train Up a Child" in plain view). 

Women have abortions for a lot of reasons - there's rarely just one. But in most cases it has a lot to do with the fact that they don't feel like they can adequately provide for a(nother) child. In other words, it's not merely a question of convenience but one of responsibility. Sometimes women are left holding the bag and they simply can't afford to feed another child. Sometimes, the family is together but the parents are already working extra to make ends meet. Regardless of the circumstances, women generally take abortion very seriously and few casually use it as simple birth control.

It's a shame that Wildmon used his column to spread more misinformation and bile but it isn't surprising. He and his dad have done very well using these tactics for a long time now. Their organization has made a lot of money by peddling cheap religion and sticking their noses into everybody's business. They are professional busybodies who can't wait to tell you how you need to live and they're happy to support the candidates (like Phil Bryant) who will push their legislation on how to force your hand.

I hope everyone will take this opportunity to write in to the paper and tell Tim Wildmon that the AFA can stick it. Mississippi has had enough of their meddling and we're tired of their deception and hate. Let's make enough noise to dislodge the AFA in Tupelo and to shake up Phil Bryant's office in Jackson!

Saturday, November 12, 2011


                                                                            arrow sharp angle NE

Finally, we've got things set up, recorded our first podcast, and managed to get it online. Just go to the top right-hand corner of the page and subscribe through the RSS or you can find us on iTunes (might take a little time for us to get listed there). The DFFT Podcast page will have the show notes, links, and any graphics we use.

We're still having problems with audio. In our trial run, I was very loud and no one could really hear Nathan at all. This time Nathan's all up in the mic and I sound timid in places. We cleaned it up the best we could but we're going to have to find some solutions to these problems. We're having to learn as we go.

Our goal is to keep everything that we do free. We don't want anyone to have to pay one penny for our content. So we do ask that, instead of cash, you give in other ways: like, share, or leave comments. Give us constructive criticism. Help us learn and grow. And if you have any technical advice you want to give that would help us improve the quality of our work, please say so.

Once again, thank you to our friends, new and old, who've supported us and been so kind. We look forward to continuing to work with you all to fight the establishment and move Mississippi forward!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Legislating Morality

All too often lately have I seen a Facebook conversation take a turn like this:

No Supporter: We don't legislate morality in this country.

Yes Supporter: Of course we do! We legislate morality when we pass laws against murder or stealing. That's the whole point of laws.

The response appears to stem from a faulty understanding of the nature of our rights and how our Constitution works. Authoritarian people, particularly conservative Christians, tend to look at the Constitution the way they look at their Bible: it's the inerrant Word from above and if everyone would just follow it, then things would be great. They love to thump it but most of them probably have little idea exactly what's in it. I'm willing to bet that most of these people couldn't recite the Ten Commandments if asked and I'm willing to bet even more that those same folks couldn't tell you contents of the Bill of Rights if someone was holding a gun to their heads.

The primary purpose of government is to secure the rights of the people. Behind that comes a vague notion of promoting the general welfare. The whole point of the Bill of Rights is to tell the government what it cannot do. The idea is that humans have rights that are intrinsic to our nature and these rights can't be completely handed over or stolen away. With those rights are necessarily coupled the responsibilities of participating in civil society. When we are newborn, our parents must accept those responsibilities for us but, as we grow older, we are able to take on more responsibility until - one day - our full legal rights as an adult are confirmed.

First, we must understand that our natural rights are inherent and, as such, are not subject to the morals and beliefs of other.  For example, I have a right to free speech and I am free to write, "I find the entire concept of Scientology to be absolutely ludicrous!" Now that speech is not immune from criticism but no person and certainly no government has just cause to take away my right to say that.  Likewise, if I choose not to believe in any gods, then the government has absolutely no authority to infringe on my right to disbelieve by promoting, endorsing, or mandating some type of religion.

Yes, it is true that we surrender some of our freedom in the process of determining legal rights so that others may also express themselves equally but we cannot justifiably take away a person's natural rights on the basis of some religious or moral belief. For example, the government can make sure that a church is adhering to proper tax law and paying all its taxes on non-religious property it owns but the government can never tell the church that it's beliefs are false and they must start believing something else. See the difference?

i26 falls flat here for two reasons. First, because the idea that life (whatever that is) begins at the moment of fertilization is a religious belief. It's a modern way of saying, "The soul enters the body at the moment of conception." Don't believe me? Ask any supporter what happens to the soul of the aborted and they will tell you that the unborn get a free pass into heaven. Read the official Personhood pages and they will tell you how this whole drive is about serving Jesus. Nobody, even for what might be a good cause, has the right to force you to obey their religious teachings that this is exactly what this amendment intends to do - force you to "conceive and carry" Jesus style.

Second, 26 fails because it infringes on the natural rights of the women who get pregnant (or want to get pregnant). We have a well-defined right to liberty and to be "secure in our persons." How can anyone be secure if the government is strapping her to a bed and forcing her to have a C-section? How can a person be free if a fertilized egg can claim more rights over her body than the mother herself? If we decide that the right to life reigns supreme, then we must accept the duties that go with that - being living, breathing, walking organ donors at everyone else's beck and call.

As the ever-wise Mr. Paine once said," Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all religions established by law."

Now religion has come to the door to demand of us our natural rights. Tuesday I'm going to shut the door right in its face. My personhood is not up for a vote. What about yours?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Hypocrisy Wars!

A Piccolo Moment: Logical Searching

Testing out the new mic and A/V software so please give us some feedback - Thank you

This a brief review of an article I read in "Wired" magazine and how it relates to everyone and their kids.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

It Happened to Me (Continued)

It Happened to Me

Our new video series showing how serious and how prevalent these issues are and why amendment 26 must be defeated.

Please, if you find value in these videos, share them far and wide. If you have suggestions for more of these, let us know. This costs no money, only time, and we're happy to give. These are very short - close to a minute - and have a higher production value than those done with our previous software. We hope you will, not enjoy, but appreciate. We dedicate these to you.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Appetizers: 26ed - The Wit and Wisdom of Yeson26 Supporters

I'm off bedrest again and hope to be back in full swing again. All your comments, shares, likes, and such are greatly appreciated! I will work on answering comments as soon as I can and we are committed to getting a regular podcast going here soon. Enjoy!