Thanks a lot, Bible, for inspiring the temperance movement that nearly broke America.
Last Wednesday was the 79th anniversary of the ratification of the 21st Amendment, which ended Prohibition in the US. The thought process for getting rid of the national ban on alcohol was two-fold: First, no one really gave a fuck about following it, using their bathtubs to ferment their own gins or wines, if they couldn't find a speakeasy within spitting distance. And secondly, because instead of helping the country, the law was actually ruining it.
Class distinctions were becoming further and further entrenched because, like always, the rich drank easily while the poor got arrested. And oh yeah, Prohibition helped the Mafia rise to become one of the most powerful institutions around due to the money they were bringing in from bootlegging operations. So, just whose idea was this Prohibition anyway? More pointedly, whose hands are covered with all this class warfare and Mafioso blood? As usual, look to the Bible. Groups like the Woman's Christian Temperance Union – sure, they did a lot of great things for women's rights – sent the nation down the tubes because, in essence, Jesus gave them the right to do so.
Those ramifications are still showing up today. Maybe most damning of all, in fact, is that they're responsible for the annoying Prohibition-style bars which are spreading like a cancer into every recently-gentrified area, who believe their dim lighting and handful of antiques give them the right to charge $14 a cocktail. Thanks a lot, WTCU! Thanks a lot, Bible!
Onto the roundup!
- The Mormons launched the website mormonsandgays.org in order to make clear their official position on the gays. Where does the Church stands? “The attraction itself is not a sin, but acting on it is.” In the wake of Mormons throwing millions of dollars behind the campaign to restrict gays from marrying in California, the admittance that homosexuality is a genetic predisposition rather than a learned activity is a step in the right direction. But there's still quite a few more to take.
- Speaking of Prop 8: The Supreme Court has decided to hear a few cases about gay marriage this term. On the agenda is a case about Prop 8, a voter initiative to prevent same-sex marriage in California, and deciding the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, pretty much the same thing on the federal level. Things are about to get crazy, one way or another. (Meanwhile: Mexico ruled in favour of same-sex marriage for the southern state of Oaxaca last week.)
- A US-led coalition rescued a doctor that was abducted by the Taliban.
- Stephen Baldwin, born again Christian, apparently doesn't think his Higher Power cares about taxes. He was arrested in New York for failing to pay them for three years, owing the IRS more than $350,000.
- A remote-controlled bomb went off in Nairobi, wounding nine. This, most likely, is the work of al-Qaeda.
- Looking for the perfect gift for your crazed evangelical relatives? You can do worse than the TVGuardian, a device that mutes the TV whenever cuss words like “fuck,” “Jesus Christ,” or “goddamn” are uttered. The sordid and disturbingly filthy example the creators of the product use in their ad? That terrifyingly foul-mouthed classic E.T.
- Despite the Indiana congress already deciding that it's probably not the best idea to teach creationism in their state's schools, Senator Dennis Kruse is trying to back-door that kind of behaviour by promoting a “truth in education” bill that will allow students to demand proof from a teacher to “prove” the “fact” they're teaching. A fun theoretical example: Students can force their teacher to prove the moon landing wasn't faked.
- Afghanistan's head of intelligence, Asadullah Khalid, survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban.
- One Million Moms, the anti-gay rights group, have called a boycott of JCPenney because Ellen Degeneres is in one of their commercials. Also fun: The National Organisation of Marriage, another anti-gay rights group, announced that a campaign of theirs called “Dump Starbucks” caused the pro-gay rights coffee franchise to get hit where it hurts, right in the ol' pocketbook. Hit them so hard, in fact, they're opening another 1,500 stores in the US over the next five years.
- In Pakistan, a senior al-Qaeda leader was killed in a drone strike.
- The American Freedom Defense Initiative apparently believes the best use of their money is putting up a bunch of anti-Islam ads in New York subway stations that use images from 9/11 to incite rage.
- Want to solve the whole Israeli/Palestine situation? The Atlantic has an interactive map that allows users to figure it all out.
- Hey, everyone! Pope's on the Twitters now!
- An Israeli basketball player decided to trash talk a Swedish-Israeli opponent by calling him a “German Nazi”, wishing him to get brain cancer, and hoping that his father would die. On the flip side of that, students at Boston College really don't like Jewish folk.
- Since a church in Pasadena decided to host the Muslim Public Affairs Council, meant to inspire positive Muslim-Christian relations, it's received plenty of hate mail that accuses them of “consorting with the enemy”.
- Kim Kardashian went to Bahrain in order to open a milkshake franchise. Islamist fundamentalists, who don't enjoy her “bad reputation”, started protesting her like-a-crazy.
- The Indian state of Bihar, a predominantly Muslim area, has banned the use of cell phones by women. Their excuse? The phones were “debasing the social atmosphere.” If caught with a phone, an offending female will be fined about $180 bucks.
- And Our Person of the Week: Jon Stewart and everyone at The Daily Show, who spent a lot of Monday's show detailing exactly what's so idiotic about the ongoing War on Christmas that the right-wingers (i.e. Fox News) continue to trot out on an annual basis. Respond to your stupid relatives forwards about the attack of Jesus's birth by atheists with a link to this sucker.
Previously - The Half-Man's Dilemma