Our Stupid Discourse


A CNN bathroom, no doubt.

With apologies to our lord and master Atrios for stealing one of his frequent post titles, I present the following:

Two religious groups are fighting over a small patch of public land,
refusing to give legal ground over competing symbols of faith. The
outcome of their battle could have nationwide ramifications.

On one side are the Summum, who believe in mummification, the rites of transference and “The Seven Aphorisms.”

Opposing them are the elected leaders of this community, who hold more
traditional values that reflect the area’s strong Mormon roots.

Now the U.S. Supreme Court has gotten involved in an unusual
constitutional showdown about a small group’s free-speech effort to
erect a granite monument in a local park.

It’s a case mixing religion, politics and social norms. Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for Wednesday.

At issue is whether such donated monuments on public property represent
“private” or “government” speech. A ruling from the justices clarifying
the difference would be felt in municipalities nationwide, on a range
of expressive memorials.

Officials in Pleasant Grove want the
discretion to decide the kinds permanent displays that can be erected,
since they would claim ultimate ownership and control. A Salt Lake
City-based group wants to put up a three-foot granite slab on the
“Seven Aphorisms of Summum,” at their expense.

Necessary permits
were denied, so the Summum sued, saying it was being discriminated
because an existing Ten Commandments monument had been placed in 1971
by a private group.

Dear reporters: Will you please, please, fucking PLEASE stop using the numbnuts, mealy-mouthed, bullshit phrase “traditional values?” Please?

I mean, isn’t belief in reincarnation (or mummification, for that matter) “traditional?” It’s a damn sight older than Mormonism. I know that “traditional values” is shorthand for “the religious right’s bullshit anti-American agenda,” and that column inches need to be saved, but let’s cut the crap, huh? You know what’s a traditional value? Misogyny. No, it is. Western society has, until quite recently, been all about oppressing women (please note that I don’t think misogyny is dead; however, it’s no longer unquestioned or entirely legal). How about homophobia? Xenophobia? Obviously, I could go on. Look, media types: “Traditional” is not a synonym for “good.” You should have learned that long ago. Also, what’s “traditional” for one group is not for another–see also Mormonism, the tenets of. Stop using loaded language. It’s bullshit, and it doesn’t do any of us any good.

Personally, I’m happy that this case is coming before the Supreme Court, and I hope they rule in favor of the nutjobs. No, the other nutjobs–the Summum. Because “freedom of religion” means just that–you don’t get to exclude some groups in favor of others. This means, of course, that Hindus in Alabama can put up shrines next to Roy Moore’s beloved 10 Commandments, or Raelians get to do whatever crazy shit they want to do in public, too. These theocrats have shown their hole card again and again–they’re only interested in freedom for me and not for thee. I’m not opposed to private individuals putting up the Ten Commandments on public land, just so long as everybody else’s myths are welcome (Though I do think it’s kind of stupid to need a cheat sheet for your religion everywhere you go–who can’t remember ten simple statements?). 

Well, fuck ’em.

Also, as far as religions go, I’m much more inclined to support ones that promote sexual ecstasy. 

8 thoughts on “Our Stupid Discourse

  1. I’m more inclined to think polytheism, shamans, etc. are a far sight more older than my Christianity. Not to mention, would “traditional values” mean that the Christians have to admit the superiority of Judaism?
    When I heard this case on NPR this AM, I wondered if the donation of the 10 commandment display wasn’t some under the table way of getting around the seperation of Church and State and the local govt was getting hoisted by its own petard.

  2. Ah, I was reading about this one this morning. Having fought the 10 Commandment battle here in Boise in the not to recent past, I find it interesting. Of course, our battle was over the hateful Fred Phelps wanting a monument to hate erected in the park next to the precious 10.
    I do agree with your point, though, Jude. The phrase “traditional values” is a dogwhistle, and you and I both know that CNN damn well knows it is.
    On the religious front, the City is in the wrong – and I hope that the Supremes see it that way. There is simply no way that the 10 Commandments are anything but religious speech, and allowing them, and not the other nutso’s, is a violation of the 1st.
    The article in the NYT made it pretty clear that the mayor was a major weasel on this stuff.

  3. Jude- I have a similar problem when people use the word “reform” for everything, as it seems to indicate positive change when that’s not usually the case.
    I think the sentence could be rewritten in a way to make the one group sound less like whackjobs and make it clear that the Mormon folks tend to control the dice in that area. Then again, if it were a fight between Catholics and Protestants regarding a patch of land, would we care as much? Nah, it’s cooler when the mummy people come to play… News of the weird.

  4. I’m sorry but I think you are *way* over-reacting, because it concerns a brand of religion you don’t happen to like. To me , in this context ‘traditional’ reads as merely a synonym for ‘conventional’ or ‘usual’, and little more.

  5. Ruth, “usual”/”conventional” doesn’t make it right for everyone to have to abide by. Just because most of the uber-cons and their faux Xtian selves think because there are so many of them they have the corner on might makes right and can do as they will…no, just no. If all of us of non-“mainstream” (read: non-Abrahamic) faiths were to stand up, there’d be a big surprise for the far righticons.
    And that Jude is “over-reacting” because it’s something he doesn’t like??? Oh, he’s just supposed to “sit down and STFU” because tough cookies, the xtians are running the show???? He (as indeed we all as Americans – until the outgoing regime executive orders it away) has the right to say what he feels, and call bullshit on bullshit. We don’t all have to kowtow and agree like sheeple unless we feel like it, but he has a basic human right to express himself. He hurts noone in the process. And in my spiritual path “and it harm none, do what ye will” is my golden rule.
    Elspeth

  6. Elspeth, please point to where I said *anything* like “sit down and STFU”. Oh, right, you can’t, because I didn’t: if you use quotes you had better actually be quoting me. And PLEASE don’t pull that ‘if you disagree with someone’s opinion, you must just want to silence them’ schtick. It does not work on those of us capable of rational argument, and makes the position of the person using it less credible.
    Nor did I infer that describing something as “usual” or “conventional” forced anyone to fall into line, simply that *in this context* it could merely be a reference to the type of practices and opinions one might expect to see in a certain area – descriptive journalistic shorthand if you will. Certainly that is how I read it, hence my comment. Other readings may and have been expressed.

  7. I should apologise as extreme annoyance made me sharper than I would have been. I should probably have phrased it “people wishing to have a rational discussion”. The rest stands.
    A response to my comment of “no, it isn’t overreacting, because of x y z reasons” is one thing.
    Trying to infer, no, actually pretty much saying outright, that if I don’t agree with Jude’s point of view and have the temerity to say so, I *must* want to silence hir and likeminded views and uphold oppressive power is entirely another: not only totally unwarranted, but intensely insulting.
    It’s also the kind of unworthy tactic people here castigate the other side for.

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