Bill O’Reilly vs. ACLU Over Crosses on Los Angeles County Seal

Personally, the American Civil Liberties Union’s successful effort to force Los Angeles county to drop a small cross from its public seal is exactly the reason I would never even consider donating to that group.

In case you didn’t follow this controversy, the Los Angeles county seal is subdivided into an number of sections and one of those sections features a cross to signify the historic role that Catholic missionaries played in California’s history. According to the ACLU, however, the cross is offensive to non-Christians (though not offensive to this atheist or my Wiccan wife), and violates the separation of church and state. As my wife puts it, perhaps next the ACLU should go after numerous other examples of Christianity embedded in California municipalities,

After this they’ll want to change city names that harken back to the days of the Spanish missions to something less offensive to non-Catholics: Los Angeles … Santa Ana, Santa Barbara, San Bernardino, San Bruno, San Carlos, Santa Clara, San Clemente, Santa Cruz, Santa Clarita, San Diego, San Dimas, San Francisco, San Fernando, San Gabriel, San Joaquin, San Juan Bautista, San Jacinto, San Juan Capistrano, San Jose, San Anselmo, San Leandro, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Monica, San Marcos, Santa Maria, San Marino, Santa Paula, San Pablo, San Rafael, San Ramon, Santa Rosa….Ah, I luve the smell of litigation in the morning!

It’s stupid crap like this cross case that will keep me from ever donating money to the ACLU.

Equally as dumb, however, was Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly. O’Reilly is like the conservative clone of Al Franken. If he’s got a good point, it’s not enough to make that point and move on. No, he has to stretch the point past the breaking point and into sheer lunacy. Here’s O’Reilly on the ACLU’s threatened lawsuit (emphasis added),

“Talking Points” wants you to know that we are rapidly losing freedom in America. Judges are overruling the will of the people, and fascist organizations like the ACLU are imposing their secular will.

Fascist organizations like the ACLU? What an idiot.


The O’Reilly Factor Transcript. June 2, 2004.

Mr. Foot-In-Mouth on the Dixie Chicks

Well, I guess he should know about putting his foot in his mouth in public — Jerry Falwell has weighed in on the Dixie Chicks controversy.

Of course, I don’t think the woman who said this,

Just so you know, we’re ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.

. . . need a lesson in propriety from the man who said this,

The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way — all of them who have tried to secularize America — I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen.’

Also of note is that Falwell apologized for those comments — except now he says that was “not so much as an apology” as simply a clarification. I.e. Fallwell really means what he says above, he just thinks it was probably not a good idea to say so just a few days after the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history.


Falwell criticizes Dixie Chick’s anti-Bush remarks
. USA Today, April 30, 2003.

Stupid Slashdot Tricks

Every time I see someone online talking about the accuracy of traditional media vs. weblogs — and usually extolling the virtue of the latter — I think of Slashdot. A few errors could be forgiven, but often it seems like they actively try to avoid reading the actual articles that they post about and link to.

For example, Slashdot has a story on its front page that is headlined,

Circuit Court Okays Vote Swapping Site

The text of the post and the headline lead many of Slashdot’s readers to think that the 9th Circuit Court has ruled that it was legal for a web site to facilitate the trading of votes for Al Gore and Ralph Nader (the idea was that a Nader voter in Alabama would vote for Gore, and in exchange a voter in California — where Gore was going to win by a large margin anyway — would vote for Nader).

But the court said absolutely nothing in its ruling about whether or not what the web site did was legal. All it did was reinstate a lawsuit that the web site owner and the ACLU had filed against California’s Secretary of State, Bill Jones.

Jones threatened the web site with prosecution if it didn’t bring a halt to the vote trading. The web site and the ACLU in turn sued saying their First Amendment rights were violated. A lower court dismissed part of the lawsuit and found against the web site on another part.

All the 9th District Court did was reverse those decisions and told another lower court to take a fresh look at the lawsuit.

Yes, the details are buried at the bottom of the CNET story that Slashdot links to, but would it really kill Slashdot editors to read the whole story before posting?

ACLU Defends Satan

It’s the sort of story the nuttier Christian fundamentalists are going to have a field day with — the American Civil Liberties Union is threatening a federal lawsuit against a Florida town that has posted signs forbidding Satan to enter.

The signs read,

Be it known from this day forward that Satan, ruler of darkness, giver of evil, destroyer of what is good and just, is not now, nor ever again will be, a part of this town of Inglis. Satan is hereby declared powerless, no longer ruling over, nor influencing, our citizens.

I just want to know how the ACLU plans to establish standing. Are they going to go into court and complain that Satan is feeling unfairly discriminated against? If Satan is in the United States, is he even here legally? Will the INS try to pick up Satan before he can testify in his defense?

The other thing I’ve been curious about is whether or not this ban applies to Satan’s minions. Maybe she’s got a point about Satan, but if she’s stopping all Satanic forces isn’t that supernatural profiling? (BTW, how come webloggers never have minions? I need to get me some minions!)

I love the ACLU — heck I’d even donate to them if they were willing to defend my right to own fully automatic weapons without a license — but sometimes you have to just let some nutbags be nutbags.

(BTW, I hereby declare that all claims that the tooth fairy may have over my dentition are hereby null and void. If I hear any flapping of wings near my pillow, I’m a comin’ out blastin!)

Pornography Is Just Like Terrorism — It Destroys a Society

The Salt Lake Tribune ran a profile recently of a Utah group that calls itself Women for Decency. Formed earlier this year, the group campaigns against pornography, which its director, Janalyn Holt, seriously compared to the 9/11 terrorist attack. According to Holt,

The parallels between [smut and terror] are uncanny. Pornography destroys families. It’s not a one-time shot like an airplane flying into the World Trade Center. But little by little, blow by blow, it can be just as destructive. We are getting bombarded on all sides.

High on the list of pornographic publications that are terrorizing the United States are Better Homes & Gardens, which ran a Spiegel ad showing a woman leaning against a naked man, and, of course, women’s magazines like Cosmopolitan and In Style which are typically displayed at supermarket checkout counters. Women for Decency is participating in a nationwide campaign to persuade supermarkets to put covers in front of Cosmopolitan, Glamour and other magazines.

Women for Decency recently met with Utah’s porn czar, Paula Houston, who herself has been on the job for eight months now. What’s she been up to while drawing her $80,000 salary?

Aside from viewing a lot of pornography, Houston told the Associated Press that she’s fielded about 1,500 complaints about pornography. Most of the complaints, however, stem from advertisements and magazine covers. As an example, over 1,000 Utah residents signed an Internet petition against a Victoria’s Secret ad which featured a nude women strategically covering her breasts with her hands.

Legally, of course, Houston can’t do much about such vile filth, but like Women for Decency, she thinks that pornography kills families by spreading the idea that sex might occur outside of marriage,

It portrays a mindset that people buy into — of objectification, of not having a primary relationship. Pornography promotes free sex and that’s not good for marriages or families. I absolutely believe the only way to stem the tide is through grass roots efforts and understanding the law.

Meanwhile, Andrew McCullough, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, made the astute observation that, “She’s harmless enough, but it’s a terrible waste of taxpayer’s money. She is not doing anything important for society. She is making people feel good.”

Or, at least, trying to prevent people from feeling good.


Women uniting for war on porn. Mark Eddington, The Salt Lake Tribune, October 14, 2001.

After eight months, Utah’s ‘porn czar’ handles 1,500 complaints, instructs others on laws. Catherine S. Blake, The Associated Press, October 15, 2001.

The Home Grown Religious Fanatics

Today I was laughing out loud at the media coverage of the 9/11 attack after CNN reported that Iranian hard liners were blaming the attack on Israel and chanting “Death to Israel.”

But comments by Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson on the terrorist attack are even more distressing to my mind than even the Palestinians and Lebanese celebrating the attacks.

Appearing on the 700 Club, Falwell said of the attack, “God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve.”

To which Robertson replied, “Jerry, that’s my feeling. I think we’ve just seen the antechamber to terror. We haven’t even begun to see what they can do to the major population.”

Then Falwell really goes off the deep end (which is saying a lot given his previous statements over the years),

The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way — all of them who have tried to secularize America — I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen.’

Sickening. Fortunately, Falwell/Robertson no more represent most Christian Americans than Osama Bin Laden represents mosts Muslims.