Thursday, August 30, 2012

Complex Rituals and the Just-World Hypothesis

What psychologists refer to as the just-world hypothesis is the cognitive bias that the world is in some fundamental way fair or just. Good actions are eventually rewarded, bad actions are eventually punished, and the results of any practice or action are directly propotional to the effort and/or suffering associated with them. While for us as magicians this sort of bias is something to be transcended rather than embraced, the idea has nonetheless managed to work its way into many systems of spiritual thought. There's the Christian concept of Heaven and Hell, which is one of the most glaring examples, but also the Theosophical/New Age interpretation of the concept of Karma, in which good actions magically produce otherwise unrelated good consequences and bad actions magically produce otherwise unrelated bad consequences. Furthermore, in some strands of Christianity you have a sort of synthesis of these two ideas into the so-called "Green Gospel," according to which God rewards your good actions with wealth and prosperity in the here and now. Churches of this sort tend to ignore troubling facts such as Jesus' concern for the poor and his statements regarding how difficult it was for rich men to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, choosing instead to focus on this flawed aspect of human cognition for moral guidance.

Magick is unfortunately no different. The idea that the world is somehow fundamentally just leads to all sorts of incorrect assumptions. While you need to adopt an actual spiritual practice to get anything resembling decent magical results, just-world would tell you that the harder you work and the more you suffer the further you will go. Many of the flagellates of Medieval Europe probably succeeded in altering their states of consciousness, but generally speaking beating yourself into submission is extreme and unnecessary. Far more mystics have managed to do the same without pain or violence. While that's an extreme example, it highlights a basic truth - some forms of practice are much more efficient and thus a lot less work than others. Magick works like most technologies, in that if you're smart about how you approach your practice you get where you want to go with a lot less effort. Furthermore, the whole idea of magick strikes me as counter to the implications of just-world, unless you happen to believe that people with high magical aptitude are more "deserving" than others in some objective sense. Instead of going about our lives following the generally agreed-upon rules of how mundane reality works, we spend our time devising ways to hack the system and turn it to our benefit.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Bigfoot Hoax Goes Tragically Wrong

When asked about the prevalence of bigfoot sightings, a famous skeptic once commented that there were probably just more people running around in monkey suits than is generally realized. Whether or not this is the entire explanation for the bigfoot phenomenon remains to be seen, but there certainly are hoaxers out there. In 2008, two hunters from Georgia claimed to have killed a bigfoot and presented photos of its frozen body to the media - before it was discovered that the "body" was in fact a Halloween costume encased in ice. Unfortunately, some of these hoaxes end badly. Recently a Montana man was killed while trying to hoax a bigfoot sighting by walking on a busy stretch of highway wearing a costume.

The Montana Highway Patrol reported that Randy Lee Tenley of Kalispell was pronounced dead at the scene on U.S. Highway 93 south of Kalispell after being hit by two cars consecutively.

Tenley was wearing a military-style ghillie suit, which is a type of camouflage that resembles vegetation or foliage. Police interviewed Tenley's friends to determine why he would be wearing a full-length dark ghillie suit in the right-hand lane of the highway at night, and were apparently told of Tenley's nocturnal Bigfoot-inspired mischief.

Trooper Jim Schneider, interviewed by the Daily Inter, said that Tenley "was trying to make people think he was Sasquatch so people would call in a Sasquatch sighting. You can't make it up. I haven't seen or heard anything like this before. Obviously, his suit made it difficult for people to see him."

Hoaxing a bigfoot sighting is dangerous. Even if the threat doesn't come from cars, there are hunters out there who might just take a shot if they see a convincing-enough display. It also is unclear what these hoaxers hope to gain. The hunters from Georgia were initially given $50,000 by a bigfoot-hunting organization but had to return the money once their ruse was uncovered. Even Roger Patterson, who took the most famous alleged footage of the creature, didn't come close to breaking even on his bigfoot expeditions. On top of that, he must have spent a lot more to create the footage if his film was in fact a hoax as some experts have claimed.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Mullet Cult Trial Begins

Those of us who follow news of the weird have waited months to finally see this day come to pass. Yesterday jury selection was completed for the trial of Amish Bishop Sam Mullet and fifteen other members of his breakaway sect. As my regular readers know, Mullet is on trial for allegedly ordering his followers to cut the hair and beards of other Amish men and women involved in a dispute with his Bergholz Clan, as the group calls itself. Mullet and his co-defendants were arrested last November in what one might call a daring nighttime FBI raid, you know, had the targets not been pacifist Amish who also happened to be asleep at the time. At any rate, with jury selection complete the trial of the Mullet Cult can now move forward.

A jury was selected on Monday for the case being heard in U.S. District Court in Cleveland, The Associated Press reported.

Samuel J. Mullet Sr. and his co-defendants, all but one of them relatives, face charges of conspiracy, kidnapping, hate crimes and obstruction, "because of actual or perceived religion" of the victims, according to an affadavit.

Sixteen men and women are accused in three separate attacks on nine people. Mullet, 66, is accused of being the ringleader of the assaults although authorities say he was not present during any of them, according to Reuters.

Prosecutors will seek to show that Mullet had cult leader-like control over the members of the Amish clan who allegedly engaged in the attacks.

There's no word yet on whether any of the members of the newly selected jury actually sport mullets. But that raises an important question - would the presence of a genuine mullet on the hair-cutting jury sway deliberations for against the defendants? I could see that one going either way. On the one hand, I can only assume mullet-wearers are more likely to think of being given a bad haircut as no big deal. On the other, they probably are also none too happy about being associated with a man some describe as a controlling cult leader - because even though the mullet is business up front, it also promises a party in the back. The Amish, after all, aren't exactly party animals, and Mullet's group is regarded as quite conservative even among other Amish.

UPDATE: On Wednesday Salon put up an article covering the first day of testimony in the trial. Andy Hershberger, the son of one of the men who was attacked, testified that his father's hair was cut in retaliation over a religious disagreement with Mullet. The defendants do not deny that the attacks took place, but rather claim that the Amish are bound by religious rather than secular law. We'll see how that works out for them as the trial unfolds.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Hasidic Jews Versus the Internet

I've posted a number of articles recently about conservative Christians who seem to believe that any person or institution with beliefs different from theirs constitutes a dire existential threat. In those posts I've also pointed out that any religious belief that cannot withstand the basic facts of everyday life must be a flimsy belief indeed and that these Christians should have nothing to worry about if have genuine faith in their spiritual path. According to this article from Slate, though, perhaps I spoke too soon. Apparently widespread exposure to the Internet has resulted in Hasidic Jews abandoning their conservative beliefs in record numbers.

Many of the former Hasidim I interviewed started using the Internet innocently, with no intention of ever leaving the community. Pollak got an email address when she worked an office job briefly between high school and getting married at 19, and was initially hesitant even to read basic news from Yahoo. Vizel told me she at first was interested only in politics, books, and clothes, avoiding anything "that didn't reconfirm my existing beliefs." But online, once she’d started her own anonymous blog, she struck up an email conversation with a Brooklyn rabbi, presumably not Hasidic, who suggested that, contrary to what she'd been taught, she might not be obligated to have as many children as possible, and she might even be morally permitted to use birth control. She was learning, in other words, that she had choices.

“I had a theory that [H]asidic life provided security from infidelity, drugs, violence, loneliness—which made it incredibly valuable,” Vizel, now in her mid-20s, wrote me recently in a series of emailed interviews. “I slowly began to learn about the price we pay.”

Even if the aforementioned Christians are right, though, driving out the atheists and Pagans and occultists is not going to do it. The Internet is everywhere, and all you need to connect these days is a smartphone. The only solution to that I can imagine is for these folks to start their own country and set up nationwide filtering controls on every relay passing through like the Chinese do, and even then that system has proven impractical for completely shutting down unapproved communications. Alternately, they could ban the use of Internet technology by their members, but such a prohibition would likely result in profoud disadvantages navigating the modern world or in some cases even holding down a good job.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Lying About Acupuncture

Awhile back I posted an article over on my author web site about the documentary that inspired the film The Men Who Stare at Goats. Both the fictionalized film and the documentary deal with attempts by the military to make use of paranormal phenomena such as remote viewing and psychic influence. While these programs have for the most part ended (or, if you happen to be conspiracy-minded, classified beyond the reach of the public) one area in which this sort of thing is still ongoing is in the use of alternative medicine such as acupuncture. Slate published an article on the use of acupuncture by military doctors this week, but unfortunately what surprised me the most about it was not anything about the techniques themselves but rather the author's dishonesty.

Acupuncture is based on a mythical, nebulous energy called qi that has never been detected, even though scientific instruments are capable of measuring quantum energies at the subatomic level. It is said to flow through hypothetical meridians and to be altered by sticking needles into hypothetical acupuncture points. Originally, there were 360 acupuncture points, corresponding to the days of the year, which is not surprising since the idea grew out of astrology. Now so many acupoints have been described that one wag suggested there was no place left on the skin that wasn’t an acupuncture point in someone’s system.

Many proponents of acupuncture reject the esoteric explanations but believe acupuncture has a real physiological effect. Various mechanisms have been proposed, but none is convincing. Needling can release pain-killing endorphins in the brain, but that’s a nonspecific effect: Placebo pills do the same thing, and just throwing a stick for a dog releases endorphins in the dog’s brain.

We don’t need to know how it works to know if it works. Acupuncture has been tested repeatedly and found wanting. Studies have shown that it doesn’t matter where you stick the needles, and it doesn’t matter whether you pierce the skin. Stimulating intact skin with toothpicks or electricity works just as well. The crucial factor seems to be whether patients believe they are getting acupuncture.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Religions, Social Clubs, and Profanity

While according to their strict definitions "profane" and "sacred" are considered antonyms, one of the things I wondered about a lot as a teenager is why many religious leaders consider profane language sinful. At the time, I read through the entire Bible trying to figure it out and came up empty. The Lutheran church my family attended tried to lump "swearing" in with taking God's name in vain, which struck me as incredibly silly. After all, it's not like the word "shit" has anything to do with God's name. Furthermore, "crap" means the exact same thing but none of my Sunday School teachers seemed to think it was anywhere near as bad. I realized later that this is the same Lutheran church that lumped the making of graven images into the First Commandment and was stuck with two separate "Covet" commandments in order to get to ten, which is almost certainly an incorrect reading of Exodus, so there's that to consider as well.

Slate has an article up today addressing this very question in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, and it's nice to see that in reading through the Bible I didn't miss anything. The text actually says very little about naughty words.

The Quran doesn’t directly address vulgar language, but the Prophet Mohammed made his opposition to it clear in the Hadith—statements attributed to the prophet with varying degrees of reliability. According to one of Mohammed’s contemporaries, he once said that “Allah does not like obscene words or deeds,” while another acquaintance reportedly observed that “the prophet was not one who would abuse (others) or say obscene words.” These anti-obscenity provisions appear regularly in the Hadith, making Islam the sole Abrahamic religion with a clear prohibition in its sacred texts on obscene language.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Loch Ness Mystery Solved?

When I was in grade school I resolved that I would read the entire science section of our local library. The material on crytozoology happened to come first in order according to the Dewey Decimal System, so that's what I started on. I did eventually make it through the whole section, but those first books sparked a lifelong interest in the romantic idea of uncovering previously unknown species based on eyewitness sightings. Back in the 1970's, the big cryptoids that showed up in the media were the Loch Ness Monster and the Sasquatch. Each had their respective pieces of evidence, with the "Surgeon's Photo" the most famous image from Loch Ness and the Patterson video the best footage of Sasquatch. In recent years the Surgeon's Photo has been exposed as a hoax, and while no direct evidence has been found proving that Patterson faked his footage a number of investigators now believe it to be a real possibility.

Back when I was younger I thought that the Loch Ness Monster was more likely to be real than Sasquatch, even with Patterson's video. The fact is that it simply is much easier for a large animal to hide underwater, particularly in a lake as deep and murky as Loch Ness, whereas so many people live on the west coast of the United States it struck me as hard to believe that nobody else was able to find anything besides footprints for decades after Patterson shot his famous film. Then a funny thing happened - scientists conducted a full sonar sweep of Loch Ness from end to end and found nothing, and I flew out to the west coast for the first time. Flying across the country on a clear night with a window seat brought to my attention just how enormous the unsettled areas of the Pacific Northwest really are. At the same time, scientists turned up a primate in the fossil record, Gigantopithecus, that bore a strong resemblance to reports of the Sasquatch. So my opinion changed, relegating the Loch Ness Monster's status to substantially less likely.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Enchanted Swords On Display

Two swords bearing esoteric inscriptions are now on display at the Guildhall Museum in Boston, UK. They date from the 13th or 14th century and were discovered together at the bottom of the Witham River. So far the inscriptions have defied translation, though they may very well consist of magical formulas rather than words from any particular language. The use of such formulas was a common practice in the Middle Ages and early Renaissance. The famous phrase SATOR AREPO TENET OPERA ROTAS, for example, does contain words that can be translated from Latin, but its function is more likely linked to that of the 5x5 magic square of Mars which its structure resembles.

Officials at the Guildhall say the best guess is that the weapons were dressed in such a fashion to endow them with special magical properties such as enabling their owners to vanquish any foe and endow their swords with the life force energy of their opponents.It is probable that the "magical" inscriptions were not visible when the swords were made and that only corrosion and decay of the outer surfaces over the centuries has now allowed their secrets to be revealed.

Mystery also surrounds their discovery close together at the bottom of the river near Bardney. One theory is that they may have been votive offerings to please the gods and so deliberately placed in the waters. At that time the Witham was the "motorway" of the day between Boston and Lincoln so the swords' owners may have been from this area and would certainly have been familiar with it. The swords are iron double-edged with a groove running down the greater part of the blade.

One has straight hand guard of circular section and a wheel pommel. The inscription on this one reads: '+SNEXORENEXORENEXOR ENE XOREIS+'.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

No More Spells on Ebay

Maybe the leprechaun for sale was the last straw. According to Ebay's 2012 Fall Seller Update, the auction site will no longer accept listings for magical and metaphysical services. The site is also prohibiting "magic potions," which strikes me as slightly problematic in that the same item could be prohibited based on its description - so calling a blend of essential oils a blend of essential oils would be fine whereas commenting that the scents correspond to particular columns in Liber 777 could result in the item being delisted.

Items that will be prohibited include: advice; spells; curses; hexing; conjuring; magic services; prayers; blessings; Psychic, Tarot, Reiki, and other metaphysical readings & services; magic potions; healing sessions; work from home businesses & information; wholesale lists, and drop ship lists.

Ebay's supposed rationale is that such services often produce disputes between sellers and buyers, which I suppose is why they also include "Advice" (this was really a category?) among the prohibited items. It seems to me, though, that this is going to be the case with any sort of service that is not easily quantified. Does Ebay have other categories of this sort? If services in general are being phased out, frankly that strikes me as a business opportunity for some other similar site willing to pick up the slack. Services are a big part of the economy and a centralized marketplace for them would be quite convenient. Maybe some of the professional sorcerers who read this site can clue me in - are Ebay listings useful in terms of attracting clients? Also, what percentage of the listings are as hokey as the leprechaun one or the "vampire spell" shown above?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

"Right to Pray" Amendment Passes in Missouri

The state of Missouri just passed what on the surface seems like a relatively common-sense measure, but which in reality will likely be used to further marginalize religious minorities - the so-called "right to pray" amendment. Critics of the amendment also point out that it is unnecessary, as religious freedom is already protected by the Bill of Rights.

Although the measure does not (and, in fact, cannot under the US Constitution) single out any one religion, it was pushed by many of the same Christian groups that bizarrely believe the very existence of non-Christian faiths constitutes some sort of threat. Generally speaking, since these groups believe themselves to be constantly under attack, their ability to deal with religions other than their own tends to be quite limited.

The amendment’s official ballot title:

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to ensure:

• That the right of Missouri citizens to express their religious beliefs shall not be infringed;

• That school children have the right to pray and acknowledge God voluntarily in their schools; and

• That all public schools shall display the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution

Freedom of speech and religion are already protected under the Bill of Rights, and critics of the bill called it unnecessary and a push to trample religious minorities. Republican lawmakers pursued the measure as a clarification of doubt.

As I mentioned in a previous comment, I would so love to see a Thelemic kid decide to run with this and, say, recite Aleister Crowley's Prayer of the Aeon to open a school assembly - because then we would really see if the supporters of this amendment are serious about protecting religious freedom. My guess is that they would totally freak out on the spot and tip their hands.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Russian "Mole People" Cult Unearthed

Survivalists spend a great deal of time preparing for a future in which they imagine huddling in a bunker with stacks of gold and "survival seeds" will become a reasonable lifestyle. Recently a Russian Islamic cult was discovered putting this way of life to the test. Members of the cult and their families resided with their leader in an underground bunker for more than a decade, with some of the younger children having never seen the light of day.

The group - known as the "Fayzarahmanist" sect - was named after its 83-year-old organizer Fayzrahman Satarov, who declared himself a prophet and his house an independent Islamic state, according to a report by state TV channel Vesti.

Satarov was described as a former deputy to a Sunni Islamic cleric in the 1970s. His followers were encouraged to read his manuscripts and most were banned from leaving their eight-storey underground bunker which had been dug in the basement of a building, Vesti said.

Prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into the sect and have said it will be disbanded if it continues its illegal activities, such as stopping its members from seeking medical assistance or education.

Contrary to what you might expect from certain popular films, these Russian mole people are neither mutants nor cannibals, but merely normal underground dwellers - or, I suppose, as normal as one can expect underground dwelling religious fanatics to be. While I support religious freedom, it seems to me that any organization this extreme and controlling is pretty much by definition dangerous to its own members at the very least, if not to outsiders as well.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Sinister Kisses

Yahoo Answers can be a great source of amusement with all the strange and bizarre questions people are willing to ask once they have some degree of anonymity. While a lot of those questions are just plain dumb, a few describe situations that are downright weird - like this one. The person asking the question found a bag of candy on their doorstep, and wonders if it could be some sort of spell.

Is this witchcraft, a prank, or a gang initiation ritual?

I found opened Hershey's kisses in a plastic grocery bag on my doorstep this evening. Is anyone familiar with any kind of witchcraft (ranging from European, to African, to Latin American) or gang initiations? Is this considered a threat and should I be worried? I take things like this very seriously. I want to know the motive behind this so that I can have peace of mind. I always assume the worst, so I'm on the verge of calling the police to investigate this.

Additional Details

Yes, calling the police is something I am considering. If you knew where I lived and how malicious and envious people are of each other, you would too. I'm obviously not going to reveal where I live. I've had people break into my home before for no good reason. My home was just a target for gang initiation. I have all the right to be this paranoid. These godforsaken people have ruined my peace.

Wow. Wherever this person lives, their situation must be pretty darn awful. Still, calling the police over something like this is just going to get you laughed at. For better or worse, one of the advantages of using magick against enemies is that there are really no laws that apply to it unless the caster does something else illegal as part of the spell.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Don't Mess With Morgan's Secret Chiefs

Awhile back fellow magick blogger Morgan Drake Eckstein revealed a sinister secret to the Golden Dawn world - the Secret Chiefs of his magical order are in fact cats. Their influence can be felt everywhere, as they are now the most popular pets in the United States and one of the most common subjects of Internet memes, such as LOLcats. One might imagine their cute, playful, furry presence to be innocuous, but don't be fooled. These feline Secret Chiefs are ruthless murderers, as exposed by National Geographic's Crittercam project.

In a study of 60 cats fitted with cameras for seven to 10 days, a University of Georgia research team has found nearly 30 percent of them killed prey, ending the lives of two animals per week on average. Their prey? Unlucky lizards, snakes, and frogs accounted for 41 percent—but the cats ate only 30 percent of what they killed.

With the help of National Geographic Society's Crittercam project, the study also found the felines to be pretty adventurous, nearly half crossing roadways and a quarter eating and drinking things they found.

With 74 million cats in America, the potential amount of cat carnage is much higher than was earlier thought, according to the research.

One need only look into the cunning eyes of a cat to understand its capacity for evil. One of these diabolical Secret Chiefs has even taken up residence in my home, which means that nowhere is safe. Our only hope is to placate these creatures with offerings of fish, bits of string, and scritches and pray that their murderous intentions remain fixed on mice and other vermin - instead of us!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Wrath of Mordor

New Zealand's beautiful terrain played a prominent role in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings film trilogy. One of the locations that was extensively filmed during the production was Togariro National Park, which includes a volcanic mountain that has been dormant for the last century. Monday night, though, Mount Tongariro erupted, covering much of the park with a thick layer of volcanic debris.

Rocks and pumice erupted from Mount Tongariro on Monday night, closing roads and forcing people to flee while domestic flights across the country were also cancelled. The volcano had been inactive for more than a century before it exploded following weeks of increased seismic activity.

It was more like Lord of the Singe as winds scattered ash up to 100km (60 miles) away on the North Island and volcanologists do not know if it will erupt again. Layers of thick ash blanketed areas surrounding the popular tourist destination but fortunately the eruption did not cause any injuries or serious damage.

Witness Bryn Rodda, told New Zealand National Radio: 'I saw this beautiful, big cloud and I thought: "Gee that looks like a volcanic plume".'Just as I thought that there was a great big orange flash. It was quite impressive.'

Peter Jackson is currently working on his version of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit as a followup to Lord of the Rings, and it should be pointed out that the One Ring appears in that story as well. Maybe somebody managed to sneak it off the set, climb to the top of Mount Tongariro, and drop it in, triggering the eruption. So far there have been no reports of missing magical props, but let's face it - if it happened, it's not like that's something the film crew is going to share.

Friday, August 3, 2012

More Maya Artifacts, Still No 2012 Apocalypse

I've long been skeptical about the "Maya Apocalypse" scheduled for December of this year. My reasoning is pretty straightforward. With all the hysteria kicked up by New Age groups going on, researchers got in touch with some Maya daykeepers in Central America. In the Maya tradition, the term "daykeeper" refers to those who are trained to maintain and interpret the Maya calendar. The daykeeper line remained unbroken even during the Spanish conquest of Mexico and endures to this day, and what these experts from the actual Maya tradition had to say about the "apocalypse" date is that it has nothing to do with the end of the world, just the top date on the calendar flipping to the next highest number. In other words, people who thought that the transition from 1999 to 2000 would be apocalyptic for essentially the same reason are just at it again with a calendar that's unfamiliar to most Westerners. Didn't they learn their lesson the first time?

At any rate, a recent archaological dig has managed to turn up a Maya artifact with a reference to the 2012 date, but it unsurprisingly occurs in a non-apocalyptic context. The artifact, discovered in Guatamala, is a monument erected by a ruler who lived about 1300 years ago and wished to associate himself with the 2012 date. I imagine the monument inscription had a similar to meaning to someone declaring that their legacy would endure until the next millenium or something similar. Rather than apocalyptic, archaeologists believe that the reference is intended to communicate the endurance and continuity of the ruler's particular dynasty. 13 Bak'tun is the Maya date that begins on December 21, 2012.

Archaeologists working at the site of La Corona in Guatemala have discovered a 1,300 year-old year-old Maya text that provides only the second known reference to the so-called “end date” for the Maya calendar on December 21, 2012. The discovery, one of the most significant hieroglyphic find in decades, was announced today at the National Palace in Guatemala.

“This text talks about ancient political history rather than prophecy,” says Marcello A. Canuto, Director of Tulane’s Middle American Research Institute and co-director of the excavations at the Maya ruins of La Corona. “This new evidence suggests that the 13 Bak’tun date was an important calendrical event that would have been celebrated by the ancient Maya; however, they make no apocalyptic prophecies whatsoever regarding the date,” says Canuto.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Majority Religions in the United States

Here's an interesting map than I came across on Facebook showing the majority religions in the United States by county. You can click on the image to enlarge it and examine it in more detail. As I've mentioned in previous posts, the idea that Christians are oppressed in some mysterious way is not supported by any real data. All of the majority religions that appear on this map are Christian aside from whatever is lumped into the "Other" category - and as you can see there are only a handful of counties in the entire country in which that category constitutes a majority - and one of those in Minnesota is labeled "Other" because there's one county in which Lutherans and Catholics are tied for membership. For all the complaining that fundamentalists do about Pagans and occultists, even when you put the two groups together you get so few people it's hard to see how we could constitute much of a threat.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

So Stupid It Burns

I sometimes wonder if show-stopping ignorance is a requirement for hosting Christian talk radio. You have the Harold Campings of the world, who insist that an apocalypse is just around the corner and that they can predict the exact date. You have the folks who support "creation museums," I suppose because there's nothing more awesome than Jesus except for Jesus riding a dinosaur. There was Jerry Falwell, who blamed the 9/11 attacks on "the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians," and of course Pat Robertson, who's made so many bizarre statements over the years on his radio and television programs it's hard to pick just one.

But even compared to all those examples, this little gem pretty much takes the cake. If I saw it in The Onion I would have had a good laugh and that would be that, but it's apparently a real news story. Here's the background - the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain donates to organizations that oppose marriage equality for same-sex couples. Marriage equality supporters decided to boycott the restaurant, but the last straw was apparently that the Jim Henson Company withdrew from a licensing agreement with the chain for muppet-themed toys in solidarity with the boycott. For this betrayal, apparently the only remedy is that Kermit must die.