Not All Opinions Are Tolerable

In every election year, the progressive folk start talking about tolerance. Actually, progressive folk talk about tolerance a lot. It’s kind of our thing.

I’m a Unitarian Universalist, which of course ALSO means that I hear a lot of talk about tolerance. One of our seven principles is that every person has inherent worth and dignity. I believe this on a theoretical level. Some days I even believe it on an actual level. In fact, I always believe it enough to be, for example, anti torture. Congratulations Al-Queda, you have enough inherent worth and dignity that you should NOT be waterboarded!

Here’s the thing, though. Tolerance is great. In all seriousness, obviously you need to treat people well. Don’t be an asshole, is what I’m saying. But I feel like tolerance often gets confused with the idea that all opinions are automatically valid, because TOLERANCE!

But…the thing is not all opinions are valid.

The opinion that women should not have agency over their own bodies and should not be able to make decisions about their own reproductive choices is bullshit, and I will not waste time discussing it.

The opinion that gay folks should not have the same rights as straight folks is bullshit, and I will not waste time discussing it.

The opinion that people of color are somehow less than is bullshit, and I will not waste time discussing it.

The opinion that global warming is not happening is bullshit, and I will not waste time discussing it.

The opinion that torture is acceptable is bullshit, and I will not waste time discussing it.

The opinion that “some women rape good” or it’s the victim’s fault if she was drunk or wearing a miniskirt, is bullshit, and I will not waste time discussing it.

The opinion that religion or football or Boy Scouts gives you the right to cover up the systematic sexual abuse of children  is bullshit, and I will not waste time discussing it.

The opinion that religion is an excuse for subjugation of any kind is bullshit, and I will not waste time discussing it.

The opinion that  hitting children is good parenting is bullshit, and I will not waste time discussing it.

There are lots of things that reasonable people can argue about. The drinking age. Whether marijuana should be legal. How best to improve our schools. Cloth or disposable diapers. Merit pay for teachers. The most ethical way to eat. Whether to use a clicker or just treats to train your dog. How to die well.  Whether goat cheese or Parmesan is better. The best kind of chocolate. What animals can be in zoos. Etc etc. And then there are things that are not debatable. There are opinions that are just not tolerable. If you hold these beliefs, well–hold them, fine. But my rights end where yours begin, and if you want to hold them, don’t you even think about putting them on anyone else. I’m tired of hearing about how good progressives or good UUs or whatever are tolerant. We can be tolerant in the sense that we do not hurt others, but that does not mean that we have to put up with opinions that are not tolerable. There is a right and a wrong, at least some of the time. It isn’t always absolute and there are lots of grays and nobody is ever all bad–as they say, even Hitler was a vegetarian–but there are still right and wrong. And the far right? They are just wrong. So yeah, that means I’m not going to respect you if you vote for Romney/Ryan. Because it is not ethical. And I can be tolerant and still assert your inherent worth and dignity if you vote for that ticket–but that doesn’t mean you are right, or that your opinions are tolerable.


Postcards From Milford

I think this is where Bluster Bluth went to school.

I was GOING to stop in Secaucus, NJ, back when I was having some geography troubles and thought it was after the GW bridge. It is not. So I just kept driving. And, I am pleased to say, I drove QUITE CALMLY over the upper level of the bridge. (When I was a kid, I was totally scared of bridges). I did, however, role down the windows, just in case Zoe and I needed to make an escape. I also left our seatbelts on, though, on the theory that we are more likely to get into an accident than to go flying off the George Washington Bridge.

I love driving 95 North. I know! And not ALL of it, and I hate the truckers with the passion of a thousand fiery suns, but it’s kind of reassuring to hit the same landmarks every day. Zoe, I said, here’s the Bronx! Here’s the New Jersey Turnpike! Here’s the Vince Lombardi reststop!

I am a dork, is what I’m saying.

Zoe was a total trooper. For the first bit of the drive, she kept accidently shifting and putting the car in neutral. This was…unnerving at first.

But then we figured it out, and she settled down on her stretched back passenger seat, covered with a sheepskin, wearing her seatbelt. So stinkin’ cute. For realz.

So we went over the bridge and then got stuck in traffic. I had a full tank o’ gas when I left and I kept waiting to find cheap gas to refill…then, in Connecticut, I discovered that I had maybe an 8th of a tank. Do you KNOW how much gas cost? DO YOU KNOW?

Four dollars and thirty three cents a gallon, that’s how much.

I told the guy (it was full service station) that this was a bit pricey, and then we had a little bitch session. He was all, everyone LEFT THE CITY AND NOW WE ARE A SUBURB AND WE USED TO BE A NICE QUIET TOWN. hee.

(I did not fill the tank).

Then I got a little more lost but finally wound up at a hotel. I was very excited to see that it had On Demand, because I LOVE me some On Demand in hotels. But then the TV made this loud buzzing noise that would.not.stop just when I started Cedar Rapids, so I had to call the front desk and ask for a refund. Then I was FURTHER foiled by the lack of good wifi here, and also the lack of Season 1 Veronica Mars streaming on either Netflix OR the WB website, and that made me sad. So now I’m watching Parenthood.

But I had a nice dinner and Zoe is being adorable and tomorrow I will hit my cousin Sarah’s house, and I am excited to see her. And Saturday Then…Sunday I need to find a place to stay, any suggestions near New Bedford, MA? And then Nonquitt. Whoa. Lots and lots of stuff.

Freaky moment of the day: I logged onto facebook and WHO POPS UP BUT MY SHRINK. At a book reading. I happen to be FB fans of the bookstore, and I was all…wait a minute. That’s my shrink. On my facebook page. Because THAT’S not weird or anything.

Also annoying: My Stupid Ankle. Which hurts to drive, and will not let me jump off the diving board, or go for walks on the beach, or basically ANYTHING FUN EVER.

Ho hum.

Oh! Links!

The A.V. Club is reviewing The X-Files, Arrested Development, AND Veronica Mars (“Hi everyone! Say repressed homosexuality!”). This makes me very, very happy. Reasonable discussions FTW!

What Happened That Night in Abbottabad? (New Yorker)

Melissa Summers has an incredibly brave post about her suicide attempt.

“This war on information is a battle. This war on information is injustice. This war on information is a strategically arranged set of operations designed to victimize and control a specific group of people. This war on information is war.”

Obama Turns Fifty Despite Republican Opposition. (GOP Vows to Say No, No, No).

Stephen Colbert Says that Obama is…well just watch. Also watch his Summer’s Eve bit.

Minimalist Posters for Children’s Books! (WANT. ALL OF THEM).

Things That Are Bugging Me, Some of Which Have Much More Global Importance, In No Particular Order

1. The all out GOP assault on women, and the fact that no one–even Obama–seems to give a shit. (yes, of course YOU care. I’m not talking about YOU. And you’re so pretty!)

2. The fact that the pope currently up for sainthood covered up child molestation. I just cannot even DEAL with the Catholic Church anymore. Not that we’ve had a lot of previous dealings.

3. The rather disgusting fact that we are STILL debating whose fault it is if someone is raped. Let me break it down for you: no matter how you are dressed, what you’ve been drinking, who you’ve been hanging with, where you’ve been, what your past sexual history is, etc, your only risk factor for rape is…wait for it….THE PRESENCE OF A RAPIST. I know, unbelievable, right?

4. The equally disgusting fact that there are a ton of FB stats that begin “I’m not a racist but…” or “I’m not a sexist but…” and go on to be completely racist and/or sexist.

5. The ankle. Still hurts. The jumping. Will not happen until NOVEMBER AT THE EARLIEST.

6. I am all Health At Every Size and Fat Acceptance but I hate the fact that I’ve gained weight over the course of these two surgeries. Hate. It.

7. Also, our wifi sucks and therefore I cannot watch Hulu OR Netflix streaming. On a related note, I am almost finished with season four of the Gilmore Girls.

8. Some of my favorite neighbors are moving. I hate it when people move.




Reading Rebecca Traister’s fantastic book, Big Girls Don’t Cry, was…hard. In the three years since the 2008 elections, in the drama of Obamacare and insane birthers and Gitmo and in Hillary Clinton’s rise to one of the most beloved women in America and perhaps our best Secretary of State, I’d more or less forgotten about the need for Shakesville‘s Hillary Clinton Sexism Watch. I’d forgotten about those on the left, the purported liberals, who let loose with such stunning misogyny that I was left speechless and raging, both at the time and in reading BGDC. (REALLY, Chris Matthews? REALLY, Keith Olbermann? Why are you still around? REALLY, tons of other people?)

Traister is very honest about her own shifting feelings throughout the contest, and the book is peppered with anecdotes about her experience covering the campaign, hearing Bill Clinton talk, sobbing at Hillary’s concession speech…she is a really gifted writer and a really gifted observer, and she was watching very closely. The book’s story about gender and class in the election is really important reading.

I remember meeting Gloria Stienem. I was sixteen and writing for Young D.C. and covering some sort of pro choice concert with Ani Difranco. Wish I could remember the exact event. At any rate, they sent me to interview Stienam. It was, obviously, a huge thrill. One of my favorite parts of reading Traister’s book were the Gloria Stienem Stories, especially her conversations with Shelby Knox, who was living with Steinem at the time. Knox reported telling Stienem that not only did she (Knox) want to see a woman president but she wanted GLORIA to get to see it.

So there were lots of gutting moments in this book, and there were lots of goosebumpy moments, lots of enraging moments and of course lots of joyful moments. But none–none–left me as gutted as this exchange:

“It was in this same interview that Stienem first told me that she voted for Clinton because she did not believe she could win her party’s nomination. Believing Stienem to have misspoken, I interrupted her. ‘Because you knew she couldn’t win?’ I prompted, waiting for the correction. ‘Right,’ she said gently. ‘I’ve always known she couldn’t win.'”

It’s not that I wish Clinton had won. I’m glad of the way things turned out, very glad. It’s just that I wish so much that she could have won.

Wow. –SO MANY ETA’s worth checking out!’s

Coming tomorrow : aV.S.V.Steck exclusive photo gallery of images that remind her of OBL. No, he will not have his face cut off. TELL ARE YOUR INTERNET FRIENDS OR JESUS WILL CRY

there may also be thoughts from people who are not me,

ETA with a fewwwwww more links:

This is good.

What Pakistan Knew.

Disturbing Details (note: I am bothered by the fact that she may not have been his wife and we were told otherwise and I don’t want to make light of this, although I can see how the narrative could be confused without any nefarious reasons. That does not mean that weren’t any, and we should watch.

I am far less bothered than I probably should be about bin Laden possibly not being armed. Among many other things I cannot believe he’d allow himself to be taken alive.)

Details on the Disturbing Details.

The Evolution of Al-Qaeda (I’m spelling it differently every time).

the compound is handed over to civilian authorities. (VIDEO and that compound is NUTS)

I would like to read Stratfor but they require payment. You can read ONE article for free, though, if you mosey on over there. I suggest the one about what Palestine thinks.

Who were bin Laden’s hosts?

Much watch TV: Rachel Maddow and Jon Stewart. Must read: NYT coverage, Talking Points Memo, Atlantic, New Yorker.

If any of you all ever read this blog, please let me know what you’ve found the least  nonsensical way making it understood.

My god. What a time.

I was trying to find a picture for you and all I got was gymnastics–I did, actually, have several that would be PERFECT but I cannot locate them on my harddrive. So instead, tomorrow we will do a Vanessa Steck does a Gallery Showing of Photography That Has Sort of Reminded Her of Osama bin Laden. TELLALL YOUR FRIENDS I NEEDZ READERZ

ETA Ethics Edition: What are the ethics of government sanctioned assassination? Well, hell if I know.

Is it a slippery slope? Of course it’s a slippery slope. Although ‘ve always that the slippery slope argument is a fallacy.

And yet…I confess. I did not expect to feel this way. I really didn’t.  I’m usually pretty far to the left of the Dems. But…I’m not dancing in the streets or anything, and it DOES feel weird to celebrate death, any death. And I’m not pleased that a woman who was being used a shield died.

That said, I feel like this is, overall, A Good Thing. It is going to stop Al Qaida? (and what the hell is the correct way to spell that, anyway?)  Of course not. Will there be more terrorist attacks? Yes. But that was going to happen anyway: whether or not we caught Bin Laden, there were always going to be more attacks. It would be naive to think otherwise.

Jeffrey Toobin, writing today at the New Yorker, says this:

“No one today is shedding any tears about bin Laden’s death. (He apparently resisted capture, which offered an additional justification for killing him.) But it’s worth remembering what gave rise to the ban on assassinations. It is, to put it mildly, an easy power to abuse. Bin Laden didn’t get a trial and didn’t deserve one. But the number of people for whom that is true is small. At least it should be.”

And I think that’s a good way to do things. I know, I know. Slippery slope. But…do I think Bin Laden deserved a trial? I actually kind of don’t, and if that makes me a Bad Liberal, well, so be it. I looked at the royal wedding dresses and that apparently makes me a Bad Feminist, so you know. You can’t do everything right.

At any rate. Yes, it feels weird to celebrate death. And I’m not *celebrating* but I am relieved. And I do have a lot of respect and admiration for the people who went into the compound. And yes, for Obama, who made the call that said the soldiers could go in. That really is a gutsy call.

Other things to rad:

Jane Meyer on torture

What Pakistan Knew About Bin Laden (the answer seems to be: um, YES, they must have known something was up!)

Fascinating Specifics

I also recommend Morning Edition and the Diane Rehm show, as well as Kojo, from NPR today, and especially their special.

Also, the WH Briefing.(This is REALLY interesting, and surprisingly forthcoming).

Oh, and this guy is a now a twitter superstar.

Look at other ETAs for links–NYT obit is great. DNA has been confirmed.

ETA whateverthefuck: great animation, awesome photo of everyone monitoring the situation in The Situation Room. Is there a better name for a room? I cannot stop looking at their faces. Obama and Clinton look…a bit tense.  And Rachel Maddow.

ETA to say THIS is why social media is awesome. ACTUAL BREAKING NEWS–how often does that *really* happen?

ETA 2: This is a great article about how it leaked. My favorite quote: “Mr. [Brian] Williams said some journalists received a three-word e-mail that read, “Get to work.'”

ETA3 to live blog announcement–below.

ETA 4 to this great pic of Obama when nerd prom host Seth Meyers made an OBL joke: http://twitpic.com/4s777w

ETA whatever to this fantastic pic.

ETA this is the last time I swear: today’s front pages.

ETA OK THIS is the last time: NYT obit. Lots of background. They’ve had this one on file for awhile now.

So there are advantages to bumming around on the computer at night watching Castle. I clicked over the Washington Post awhile ago to check something–I cannot remember what it was now, although it’s not out of the question that it was more royal wedding pics–and saw something about Obama making an announcement soon. Apparently no one knew what this announcement would contain.

I clicked around a bit, CNN, the AP, etc, and came across a brief statement on top of the New York Times homepage: U.S. official says Bin Laden has been killed.

Whoa, I said.

A few minutes later, the NYT had this story up. That’s some fast work there, good for them–it was up even before the Associated Press had a story on their homepage.  Which is impressive. (my  hometown paper, the good ol’ WaPo, was very slow!)

No official word yet. The White House has a video feed up, but it hasn’t started yet.

It’s kind of nuts though. I mean, I cannot be the only one who thinks this is kind of nuts, right?

I do not, as a rule, believe in the death penalty in any form. Nonetheless, don’t ask me to get worked up about Bin Laden dying. I might just ask you why it took so long. (Oh wait! I remember now! Something about GWB being not the brightest bulb in the chandelier…)

Nice victory for Obama, too. I want to see the debate where some GOP asshole calls him soft on terror and he gets to say, really? What president got Osama, just out of curiosity? CAUSE I THINK THAT WAS ME.

11:35: Love how there is a red carpet. Where are they, some random hallway?

11:36: Love how solemn he is. The report is that he wrote the speech himself around 10-10:30. I can tell, it has the same rhetoric that his book does.

11:37: Empty seat at the dinner table is nice. Blah blah, came together, wore lots of flag lapel pins…

10:38 yay for “no matter what god we prayed for.”

11:38:30 has it really, actually been ten years? good lord. seems like yesterday and forever ago.

11:39 SCORES of terrorists!

11:40 last August, briefed on a lead on Osama. Hiding in compound “deep inside Pakistan.” Last week decided they had enough to go for it. Today at his direction they launched an attack. No Americans were killed. Took care not to harm civilians. Killed him in a firefight and took custody of the body.

11:41: Good. Reminder that this doesn’t end the War on Terror (nothing could). And that we are NOT at war with Islam. Bin Laden “not Muslim leader, he was a mass murderer of Muslims.” Good (that he SAYS this, not that Bin Laden killed people!)

11:42: Cooperation with Pakistan helped us get there. Team has spoken with Pakistanis. Apparently they agree that this is a “good and historical time for both our nations.” Hmm. Well, I agree…

11:42:30: He looks like he means it when he says that these concerns trouble him every day.

11:43: Relentless etc. Rhetoric of war.

11:44: “unparalleled courage.” Indeed.  huge props go to the incredibly brave men and women who went directly after Bin Laden.

11:45: I want to know what his immediate reaction was upon hearing that OBL was actually dead. Somebody on twitter reported they did DNA from his sister’s body, from  a hospital in Boston.

11:45:30: OK MAYBE I had goose bumps at the end. Also, I’m pretty sure I just heard fireworks.

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Got Religion?

Watching a Catholic mass is interesting. The fact that Ted Kennedy died makes me very, genuinely sad: he was a man who did a lot of good and I will miss him.
And yet I am so NOT Catholic. I should say, at the outset, that I don’t have any kind of problem with Catholicism (except their views on women and gays, OK, those I have some serious problems with–but I understand and recognize that certainly not all Catholics fit that profile). But I find the entire religion confusing.
Recently I was listening to the terrific monologue by Julia Sweeney called Letting Go of God, in which she talks about Mormon missionaries coming to her house and telling her the story of Mormonism (listen to it, really). At first she thinks the whole thing is damn insane. Then she starts thinking about the stories that Catholics tell, and wonders what someone who had never heard the Catholic origin story would think upon hearing it. She goes on to talk about Karen Armstrong’s book The History of God and how Armstrong talks about things in the Bible being “psychologically true.” This leads Julia to wonder why, for example, Greek myths do not have the same resonance in our culture. They are just as psychologically true.
I have lots more to say about Julia’s monologue, especially where she talks about Jesus being–how shall I put this–kind of an asshole sometimes. And God! Like me, she finds the story of Abraham being asked to sacrifice his son appalling. This is the story in the bible that bothers me the most. Julia has good things to say about it. Please go listen to her.
In the mean time, I will continue thinking about my own religious beliefs. I have had an incredible fear of death for as long as I can remember and so I have trouble thinking about it quite often. But I suppose I believe in something bigger, most days. I just don’t know what that something is. (I’m a UU. I’m allowed to not know. I get to engage in a free and responsible search for truth and meaning. Just saying.)
I think I have a lot more to say about this.

(yay decent quality health care being prayed for at Teddy’s service! Ha, Republicans, good luck NOT passing health care. And…oh my Lord I might tear up. And prayers for alliances between gay and straight folks…love.)
ETA to say that I do not believe in the same God that Catholics do, but I found myself saying the Lord’s Prayer along with everyone else.
Even though I don’t say “under God” when I recite the Pledge.
ETA 2: Ted Kennedy’s son is giving me goosebumps. and making me choke up.
ETA 3: TK2 “He even taught me some of the harder lessons of life, like how to like Republicans.” Ah, Teddy…I haven’t really learned that one yet.
ETA4: just going to jot down what I think while Obama talks. Because I love him.
and what better man to eulogize Teddy? “A champion for those who had none.”
God, Obama is a good speaker.
They called Teddy the Big Cheese? really? ha.
They tossed him off a boat? That’s pretty funny.
The Kennedy family is fascinating to watch. I’m not a fan, generally, of old wealthy families. I find them alluring in a creepy way.
But the Kennedys…I don’t feel that way about them.
Love the pictures they are showing. Hi Hillary! I love you. You are doing a great job as SoS.
yay reference to gay soldiers!
Seriously, was there ANY important progressive legislation that Teddy Kennedy didn’t have a hand in?
“veritable force of nature” i like that.
love the photo of TK and Biden. Biden makes me laugh.
thats right. “greatest legislator of our time.” Go, O.
These are some excellent stories. Love the cigars.
“luck of the Irish.” love.
And Bo! We need more Bo.
“we cannot know for certain how long we have here…what we can do is to…live our lives with purpose and joy.”
That’s pretty much my philosophy, O.
What a legacy to leave behind. All we can hope, really, is that we can all leave behind an equally important–if not so public–a legacy.
Rest in peace, Teddy.