The ISIS sex toy flag made quite a ripple in London, though not in Alabama, where it’s illegal to sell sex toys and “public officials are ministers of God.” Can I have an “Oh, man?” (More)

“Whenever I see the ISIS flag anywhere, all I can see is dildos!”

By now you’ve probably heard that CNN’s Lucy Pawle embarrassed herself at London’s Pride Parade:

If you look at the flag closely, it’s clearly not Arabic. In fact, it looks like it could be gobbledegook. But it’s very distinctively the ISIS flag.

Actually, it wasn’t gobbledegook. Those not-Arabic ‘letters’ were images of sex toys and the flag’s designer, Paul Coombs, wanted to send an important message:

The decision to make the flag was a simple one: a sense of outrage at ISIS’s brutal advance across North Africa, Libya, Syria and Iraq. Medieval ideologies and barbarism were being spread and recorded through that most modern of expressions, social media, with that flag ever-present. It has become a potent symbol of brutality, fear and sexual oppression. If I wanted to try and stimulate a dialogue about the ridiculousness of this ideology, the flag was key.
Several hours passed before I noticed spreading news that CNN reported on the flag as though it was an actual ISIS banner, not a piece of cloth covered in sex toys. #DildoISIS quickly started trending online. People made tribute dildo flags. But how could a report so hysterical and so clearly false possibly get onto the air, discussed by a terrorism expert? CNN correspondent Lucy Pawle described my flag as a “very bad mimicry” but the only bad mimicry I could see was CNN’s impression of a reputable news organization. What does this say about every other report that they broadcast? And why have they not mentioned it since? They seem to think that if nobody says anything about it then it can’t have really happened.

But oh, it did. On a message board someone posted: “Whenever I see the ISIS flag anywhere, all I can see is dildos!” Mission accomplished.

Now that’s what I call pride.

“As if it were the days of Noah!”

You can’t sell sex toys in Alabama, but you can get a preview of the far right’s eventual explanation for climate change:

Time for Public Officials to take their stand one way or the other

Jesus Christ is Lord of all. He came to save the world by His death and resurrection. That world includes you, me, the family, the civil government, all the institutions of life. He came to advance His Father’s kingdom, not watch man run rampant upon the earth as if Christ had never come. As if it were the days of Noah!

Thus begins a screed by Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore’s lawyer, Win Johnson, rebuking Gov. Robert Bentley for accepting last week’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality. Johnson continues:

Public officials are ministers of God assigned the duty of punishing the wicked and protecting the righteous. If the public officials decide to officially approve of the acts of the wicked, they must logically not protect the righteous from the wicked. In fact, they must become protectors of the wicked. You cannot serve two masters; you must pick – God or Satan.

I’m just a squirrel, but I thought public officials were assigned the duty of enforcing the laws of their state governments, subject to the Constitution and laws of the United States. I didn’t realize we lived in a theocracy of the sort Paul Coombs mocked with that sex toy flag.

“An extra measure of dignity on the single-earner family”

Speaking of mockery, Phyllis Schlafly vomited on her keyboard again:

Justice Kennedy’s opinion for a 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court has rightly been condemned for its lack of grounding in the constitutional text he is sworn to uphold. Unable to find gay marriage in either the due process clause or the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, Kennedy ultimately rests his case on what Justice Clarence Thomas sarcastically called the “dignity clause” of the Constitution.

In fact Justice Kennedy did find marriage equality in the Fourteenth Amendment. Specifically:

Under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, no State shall “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” The fundamental liberties protected by this Clause include most of the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights. In addition these liberties extend to certain personal choices central to individual dignity and autonomy, including
intimate choices that define personal identity and beliefs.
The nature of injustice is that we may not always see it in our own times. The generations that wrote and ratified the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment did not presume to know the extent of freedom in all of its dimensions, and so they entrusted to future generations a charter protecting the right of all persons to enjoy liberty as we learn its meaning. When new insight reveals discord between the Constitution’s central protections and a received legal stricture, a claim to liberty must be addressed.

The conservative flummery over Justice Kennedy’s use of the word “dignity” misses the point. The Court has long recognized marriage as a fundamental right and, after exploring the history and role of marriage in our society and laws, Justice Kennedy concluded there are no constitutionally valid reasons – no “due process of law” – by which to deny marriage to LGBTs.

But let’s return to Madame Flummery, who argues that Congress should pass a resolution declaring “that the traditional family, founded on a married husband and wife, carries special dignity and deserves special recognition because it provides unique benefits to society,” and adds:

Once Congress is on a roll to confer dignity, it should confer an extra measure of dignity on the single-earner family, where a provider-husband is the principal breadwinner and his wife is dedicated to the job of homemaker, a role more socially beneficial than working in the paid labor force.

So Madame Flummery thinks Congress should tell opposite-sex couples “We like you best,” especially if the wife is “dedicated to the job of homemaker.” You know, like she wasn’t.

“The belief that marriage is a duty, especially for women”

While on its face a critique of Ross Douthat’s sour grapes in the New York Times, Amanda Marcotte’s rebuttal at Talking Points Memo is more plainly on point in response to Schlafly:

This argument, that same-sex marriage somehow undermines “traditional” marriage, never really made sense to many Americans, for good reason. Since conservatives would rarely define what they meant by “traditional” – saying that it’s about a man and a woman and declining to elaborate beyond that – it ended up sounding like they were saying that if gay people were allowed to marry, then straight people would all get divorced or something. This makes conservatives sound like idiots and ended up backfiring on them, helping many fence-sitters to figure if that’s the best they’ve got, then they must have nothing.

In reality, however, there was a subterranean argument that actually is logical and makes perfect sense. It was never just about man-woman marriages. The tradition that is disappearing is the belief that marriage is a duty, especially for women. As Douthat argues, Americans are rejecting “the old rules, its own hopes of joy and happiness to chase.”

Douthat isn’t wrong on the facts, even if he’s wrong on his assessment of them. It’s true that women in modern society no longer feel like they have to be married to be granted entrance into adult society. Single women living by and supporting themselves is no longer considered scandalous. Marriage is, bit by bit, becoming more about a partnership between equals who choose each other for the purpose of love and happiness. Which means it’s becoming less about giving men control over women’s lives.

As Audrey Bilger wrote in 2012 for Ms. Blog, the arguments for marriage equality are founded on feminist principles:

What does it matter if we bring feminism into our discussions of marriage equality? For one thing, it means that this struggle is not just about the rights of lesbians and gay men – as big a deal as that is. Whether you’re straight or gay, if you’re committed to the feminist principle that marriage is a union of two equals, then you need to take this fight personally. Or else the next marriage the state tries to redefine in traditional terms may be yours.

Small wonder that Madame Flummery and other right wingnuts are outraged. They don’t even dare offer their real argument – that marriage should allow men to dominate women – so they’re reduced to the We Never Did It That Way Before of Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent:

When the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified in 1868, every State limited marriage to one man and one woman, and no one doubted the constitutionality of doing so. That resolves these cases. When it comes to determining the meaning of a vague constitutional provision – such as “due process of law” or “equal protection of the laws” – it is unquestionable that the People who ratified that provision did not understand it to prohibit a practice that remained both universal and uncontroversial in the years after ratification.

This is hardly surprising, coming as it does from a man who believes the phrase “any person” – in the Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection Clause – does not include women.

At its core, the conservative howling about “the sanctity of marriage” is a longing for Ye Goode Olde Dayes, when (white) men were men and women knew their place … as sex toys.


Good day and good nuts