PRESS RELEASE: Blogger loses will to write/live after being asked to weigh in on proposed gay discrimination laws

Kristen Howerton, the blogger who regularly writes here, has reportedly given up the will to continue blogging after being faced with writing yet another post about Christians behaving badly towards gay people. The blogger, who has written many times on the topic of how Jesus would respond to the LGBT community, received numerous requests to weigh in on the discriminatory bills being proposed in Arizona, Kansas, Georgia, South Dakota and Tennessee. And while her level of outrage would typically motivate her to respond, this time was different. “I cannot *$#@ing even,” she was heard mumbling as she walked away from her laptop. fall winter 2013 267 Howerton and family in happier times, before she’d heard of SB 1062. In an interview, Howerton disclosed that initially, she believed the proposed bills to be a hoax from a satire news site. When she realized that some conservative Christians were actually proposing a Jim Crow-type law that would make discrimination legal on the grounds of someone’s sexual orientation, Kristen said, “Something inside me just broke. And the constant requests for me to weigh in on the matter just made me want to lay down and take a nap. So I did. And then I watched Paul Rudd lip-syncing and a couple episodes of the Mindy Project and felt a little better about the world. That’s when I realized . . .  I just want to watch mindless crap on YouTube and pretend this isn’t happening.” As Howerton was faced with the prospect of writing yet another post gently reminding Christians of their duty to love others, she suddenly felt that she could no longer go on blogging. “I just cannot handle writing one more response to this kind of ignorance,” she said. “I quit. Rachel Held Evans can handle this bull$%@#.” When asked if perhaps her hetero-privilege was showing by writing a post that focused on how these laws affect her blogging as opposed to the ACTUAL victims of the law, Howerton conceded that perhaps she was, in fact, minimizing the real pain and suffering that this would cause for gay residents of said states. “Look, I know it will be difficult for them. But I went with this ‘press release’ literary device in the hopes that the absolute absurdity of it all could perhaps sway the minds of some of the folks behind this madness.” Howerton went on to detail the many times she has addressed bigotry towards the LGBT community at the hands of Christians. She maintains that satire was her only hope, since previous attempts at using logic, compassion, and the ACTUAL WORDS OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST had not put an end to the hate. Tune in tomorrow when Howerton gouges her eyeballs with a steak knife while considering how to respond to another unarmed black teen being shot by a scared white man with a gun.

oh yes he did

Mark and I volunteered at Ground Zero shortly after 9/11.  Mark flew out as one of the first official chaplains allowed on the scene, while there was still ash in the air and hope of survivors.  About a week later, he returned and I went with him, finding the scene much more somber and mechanized.  We spent some of our days down at what was referred to as “the pile”, an eight-story heap of debris, making ourselves available for counseling with the men charged with the task of finding remains.  We also spent some time at the morgue, helping to process the paperwork of families coming to identify the remains of loved ones, and we spent time at the pier, where displaced people were coming for assistance.  I can’t pretend to know what it was like to lose someone that day, or to know the trauma of surviving such a frightening experience.  But I do know the horrors that we saw during our time there . . . the sights, the smells and the stories I will never forget.  At the end of our time there, we got to return home to our family and friends, and to a home and a city that was not effected.  But we have always felt a deep connection to the people affected by 9/11. Tonight I got home from my big show in LA, kissed my kids goodnight, and settled into the sofa to see the latest banter on twitter.  As soon as I did, I saw the tweets that people were waiting for Obama to make a statement about Osama Bin Laden’s death. What a surreal night . . . to observe with the world a major moment in history.  I watched the speech at home in my pj’s, and vacillated between a swelling pride for our military, and the fears of what might come as a result Would this incite more venom towards Muslims? Would there be retaliatory attacks on our troops?  I also watched the typical twitter cycle of news: people share information, people make jokes about the information, people scold each other about making jokes, people make poignant and emotional commentary about information, people retweet each other, and, if you follow lots of other Christians like I do, people quote bible verses.  Mark had a different experience altogether, since instead of sitting home on twitter, he was out at a bar hanging with a friend who is in town from London.  He said the bar had the televisions on with the volume all the way up, and that a hush fell over the room when Obama started speaking.  At the end of the speech, the bar erupted in applause. I know that a lot can be said about whether or not it’s appropriate to celebrate another person’s death.  There is some cognitive dissonance there for me.  I saw this quote tonight, and appreciated it:

There’s a big difference between "justice" and "vengeance." Justice is about about making sure people get what they deserve, Vengeance is about delighting in the suffering of another person. I pray that we Americans can respond to the news about Bin Laden in a way that celebrates and honors justice, not just vengeance.
-Mark Finney

I don’t rejoice in the death of another person, and I also have no illusions that any threats to America are put to rest by the death of one man.  But I do feel a sense of pride in our military, and I’m happy that the people who lost loved ones might have a little more closure this evening. I was also struck by the way people of both sides of the oft-polarized political spectrum where united today.  As they say, there is no bond like a common enemy, and I appreciated hearing about the phone call Obama made to Bush, and also hearing Bush’s remarks:

"This momentous achievement marks a victory for America, for people who seek peace around the world, and for all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001.  The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done."

It’s nice to see everyone on the same team for once, right? I also appreciated Obama’s emphasis:

"We must also reaffirm that the United States is not, and never will be, at war with Islam. I’ve made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam.  Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader. He was a mass murderer of Muslims."

I have to say, I thought tonight’s revelation was quite a cap on the last few weeks of birth certificate drama drummed up by Donald Trump.  When Obama handed over the long-form in an attempt to squelch the rumors, he quipped that he had more important matters to attend to.  Indeed he did. And since I’m a bit awash in patriotism at the moment, I’m going to post Obama’s speech from the White House Correspondents Dinner that happened Saturday night.  It was HILARIOUS.  I think he did a better roast of Donald Trump than the one Comedy Central televised.  And anyone who can root out Osama Bin Laden and make a Tupac and Biggie reference in the course of a 24-hour period has my respect for life. Where were you when you heard the news?  What was your reaction?

counting the cost of violent rhetoric

I am watching the news in horror today, as a gunman opened fire on politician Gabrielle Giffords at a public event she was holding, shot her point-blank in the head, and shot 17 other people.  At the time I’m writing this, Giffords is in critical condition and six people have been killed.

It’s times like this that require introspection as to what is going on in our country.  The gunman is allegedly a 22-year-old man named Jared Loughner.  People have been speculating all day on his motives and political ties and clearly, at this point, no one knows.  Nonetheless, many references have been made to some of the violent rhetoric that has been used from certain political figures and whether or not there is some culpability in their use of language.  Until we know this man’s motives, it’s hard to place blame in this specific incident.

Excerpts from Jared’s myspace page and YouTube videos are full of references to conspiracies.  In my opinion and experience, given his age and his ramblings I would not be surprised if this young man was having a schizophrenic break.  From his YouTube video:

Firstly, the current government officials are in power for their currency, but I’m informing you for your new currency! Of you’re treasurer of a new money system, then you’re responsible for the distributing of a new currency. We now know — the treasurer for a new money system. is the distributor of the new currency. As a result, the people approve a new money system which is promising new information that’s accurate, and we truly believe in a new currency. Above all, you have your new currency, listener?

Secondly, my hope s for you to be literate! If you’re literate in English grammar, then you comprehend English grammar. The majority of people, who reside on District 8, are illiterate — hilarious. I don’t control your English grammar structure, but you control your English grammar structure.

Thirdly, I know who’s listening; Government Officials, and the People. Nearly all the people, who don’t know this accurate information of a new currency, aren’t aware of mind control and brainwashing methods. If I have my civil rights, then this message wouldn’t have happen.
In conclusion, my ambition — is for informing literate dreamers about a new currency, in a few days, you know I’m conscience dreaming! Thanks you!

He goes on to say on his myspace page:

In conclusion, reading the second United States Constitution, I can’t trust the government because of the ratifications: The government is implying mind control and brainwash 0n the people by controlling grammar.
No! I won’t pay debt with a currency that’s not backed by gold and silver!
No! I won’t trust in God!
What’s government if words don’t have meaning?

These definitely sound like the words of a paranoid schizophrenic to me.  I think think it will emerge that this man is mentally ill.  There is no information thus far that indicates that he was working off the prompts of some of the violence rhetoric of Palin, et al.

However . . .

Anytime there has been a tragedy, it makes sense to take a step back and look at how to prevent further tragedies.  Even if Jared Loughner had no political ties, I think it still behooves us as a nation to reflect on what it means that political figures and pundits are so liberal with violent rhetoric.  I’ve said it before . . . many times.  I get that Beck and Palin and the like are not actually calling people to arms.  But I also get that there are crazy people in this world who are not so discerning.  Some examples that I find particularly concerning:

“I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back.” and “…having a revolution every now and then is a good thing” – Michele Bachmann

“I hope that’s not where we’re going, but you know if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying my goodness what can we do to turn this country around? I’ll tell you the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out. –Sharron Angle

“Don’t retreat. Instead – reload” -Sarah Palin

“To the day I die, I am going to be a progressive hunter.” -Glenn Beck

And getting the most press today is this disturbing map that Sarah Palin posted on her facebook page, with rifle targets pointed at the locations of individual politicians.

palin

I understand hyperbole – I used it quite often myself.  But I think that sarcasm and metaphor still require responsibility.  In the case of politicians or pundits who help shape the political views of millions, even more responsibility should be exercised.  The possibility of crazy people taking things literally should always be taken into account.

Do we know if today’s shooter was inspired by the “take amrs” metaphors?  No, we don’t.  But we shouldn’t have to wonder.  It shouldn’t even be a speculation that a political figure’s words could inspire a mass shooting.

This is not a political post – this is an anti-violence post.  If there is similar gun or war rhetoric coming from the liberal side that I am missing, point it out and I will denounce it as well.

I think the reminder today, whether there is a connection or not, is that we as a nation should not tolerate metaphorical calls to violence from our political leaders, in any form.

much ado about nothing

Here is the transcript of the dreaded indoctrination back-to-school speech Obama gave to students today. That is, after a good portion of the conservative contingency got their panties in a wad about the president giving a pep talk about hot-button issues like perseverance and staying in school and setting goals. Of course, it sounded a little more exciting when the extremists were using words like re-education and brainwashing. Comparisons to Hitler are always a little more provocative then the banal reality of irrational partisan squabbling.

My kids are not in school yet, so I didn’t have to worry about their pretty little minds getting brainwashed by our president and his cult of personality. But I did Tivo it and let my kids listen. I watched them very, very closely for signs that the socialism might be catching on, but they mostly looked pretty bored. That is, until Jafta started quoting Charles Fourier and India put a beret on her head and planned a cooperative communal uprising with her Groovy Girls dolls.

I kid, I kid.

In all seriousness, perhaps this “red scare on schoolyard” debacle can be a reminder that there IS, in fact, and time and a place to set partisanship paranoia aside. Sending a message to our youth about the importance of their education seems like a good time to me, and might even be an indication that our president is not, in fact, an enemy to our children, even if we disagree with his policies.

Of course, this brand of partisan drama isn’t new. George Bush was met with resistance from some liberal extremists who felt he shouldn’t be speaking in the classroom, though the criticism at that time did not seem to erupt into quite so great a furor. Perhaps that’s because George Bush was more appealing to a whiter majority. Er, I mean a wider majority.

Where was I going with this?

Just for kicks, here is the speech in all it’s licentiousness.

Prepared Remarks of President Barack Obama Back to School Event
Arlington, Virginia September 8, 2009

The President: Hello everyone – how’s everybody doing today? I’m here with students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. And we’ve got students tuning in from all across America, kindergarten through twelfth grade. I’m glad you all could join us today.
I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it’s your first day in a new school, so it’s understandable if you’re a little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now, with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you’re in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer, and you could’ve stayed in bed just a little longer this morning.


I know that feeling. When I was young, my family lived in Indonesia for a few years, and my mother didn’t have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday – at 4:30 in the morning.
Now I wasn’t too happy about getting up that early. A lot of times, I’d fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I’d complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and say, “This is no picnic for me either, buster.”


So I know some of you are still adjusting to being back at school. But I’m here today because I have something important to discuss with you. I’m here because I want to talk with you about your education and what’s expected of all of you in this new school year.


Now I’ve given a lot of speeches about education. And I’ve talked a lot about responsibility.
I’ve talked about your teachers’ responsibility for inspiring you, and pushing you to learn.
I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox.
I’ve talked a lot about your government’s responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren’t working where students aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve.


But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.


And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself.


Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide.


Maybe you could be a good writer – maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper – but you might not know it until you write a paper for your English class. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor – maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or a new medicine or vaccine – but you might not know it until you do a project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a Senator or a Supreme Court Justice, but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.


And no matter what you want to do with your life – I guarantee that you’ll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You’re going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.


And this isn’t just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.


You’ll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You’ll need the insights and critical thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. You’ll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy.


We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.


Now I know it’s not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork.


I get it. I know what that’s like. My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us things the other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn’t fit in.


So I wasn’t always as focused as I should have been. I did some things I’m not proud of, and got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse.


But I was fortunate. I got a lot of second chances and had the opportunity to go to college, and law school, and follow my dreams. My wife, our First Lady Michelle Obama, has a similar story. Neither of her parents had gone to college, and they didn’t have much. But they worked hard, and she worked hard, so that she could go to the best schools in this country.
Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don’t have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job, and there’s not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don’t feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren’t right.

But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life – what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home – that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That’s no excuse for not trying.

Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.

That’s what young people like you are doing every day, all across America.
Young people like Jazmin Perez, from Roma, Texas. Jazmin didn’t speak English when she first started school. Hardly anyone in her hometown went to college, and neither of her parents had gone either. But she worked hard, earned good grades, got a scholarship to Brown University, and is now in graduate school, studying public health, on her way to being Dr. Jazmin Perez.


I’m thinking about Andoni Schultz, from Los Altos, California, who’s fought brain cancer since he was three. He’s endured all sorts of treatments and surgeries, one of which affected his memory, so it took him much longer – hundreds of extra hours – to do his schoolwork. But he never fell behind, and he’s headed to college this fall.


And then there’s Shantell Steve, from my hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Even when bouncing from foster home to foster home in the toughest neighborhoods, she managed to get a job at a local health center; start a program to keep young people out of gangs; and she’s on track to graduate high school with honors and go on to college.


Jazmin, Andoni and Shantell aren’t any different from any of you. They faced challenges in their lives just like you do. But they refused to give up. They chose to take responsibility for their education and set goals for themselves. And I expect all of you to do the same.
That’s why today, I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education – and to do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending time each day reading a book. Maybe you’ll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you’ll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all kids deserve a safe environment to study and learn. Maybe you’ll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines, I hope you’ll all wash your hands a lot, and stay home from school when you don’t feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter.


Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it.
I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work — that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things.


But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.


That’s OK. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures. JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, “I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”


These people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn’t mean you’re a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.


No one’s born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work. You’re not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don’t hit every note the first time you sing a song. You’ve got to practice. It’s the same with your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right, or read something a few times before you understand it, or do a few drafts of a paper before it’s good enough to hand in.


Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new. So find an adult you trust – a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor – and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals.


And even when you’re struggling, even when you’re discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you – don’t ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.
The story of America isn’t about people who quit when things got tough. It’s about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best.


It’s the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and found this nation. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google, Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.


So today, I want to ask you, what’s your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country?

Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you’ve got to do your part too. So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down – don’t let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.