When Religion Promotes Hatred & Violence

There are those who would say that since I am not a Christian, I have no right to comment on the religion or its adherents.  In most cases, I would agree with them, but … it seems I just cannot keep my nose out of this one.  In no way am I criticizing Christianity or its followers as a whole, but rather certain elements that are doing more harm than good to this entire nation, and that are giving Christianity overall a bad image, a reputation that Christians won’t find easy to live down.

While I find ‘evangelicals’ to be particularly narrow-minded and offputting, my current target is two specific evangelical pastors, men of the cloth who are supposed to be preaching peace, love, and all that sort of stuff, but instead are promoting hatred and violence.  I might not care if they were one-offs, if nobody much was listening and most people took their rantings with a grain of salt, but as it is, both seem to have a fairly large following and thus they have the potential to inflict great harm in this nation.  And in that, I find justification for offering my two cents worth.

The first is Pastor Mark Burns who is running for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives from South Carolina’s District 4.  Now, I have a problem with Burns’ platform, with some of his recent statements such as …

  • “We need to replace God at the center of American politics. The separation between church and state was not designed to keep the church out of the government, it was designed to keep the government out of the church.”
  • “I will fight to restore law & order, election integrity, secure our borders, protect our God-given & America 1st agenda!”
  • “Life begins at conception, marriage is defined as between one man and one woman, our right to keep and bear arms is INHERENT, given to us by God almighty — NOT by any man.”

Feeling sick yet?  This is the type of rhetoric that is often used by the Republican Party these days to rile the uninformed masses, to play to their religious beliefs, and as I said, if he only attracted a handful of people, I wouldn’t waste my time writing about him.  But he has a fairly large following and he has the support of the former guy which, sadly, counts for a lot among some fools.

Mark Burns lied through his teeth about both his military service and education, lies that were easily disproven and he later admitted to them, but used the pathetic excuse that he was attacked because he is “a black man supporting Donald Trump for president.”  Oh yeah … minor detail, he still claims to believe that the election was stolen and that Trump is the rightful president.

But what raises my hackles is that he is urging his supporters to commit violence.  Our friend Scottie did a post on this with a couple of relevant videos a week or so ago, but in summary, Mr. Burns, while speaking at a rally in Oregon, told the audience to smash the car windows of anyone they believed was ‘antifa’.  Now, I am 100% against fascism, so that makes me an antifascist, but I am not a member of any group called antifa, and from everything I’ve read, it is a very small, unorganized group that gets far more credit than it deserves.  But to the point, when a candidate running for office advises violence, he should be removed from the ballot.  When a religious ‘leader’ calls for violence, he should be thrown out on his ear.  Instead, the crowds love him.  There is something pathetic about that.

The second is Pastor Greg Locke whose message is one of hate rather than peace and love.  Locke is a white supremacist and pastor of Global Vision Bible Church in the small town of Mount Juliet, Tennessee.  He participated in the events of January 6th at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., and the Proud Boys white supremacist organization often provide security at Locke’s events, if that tells you something.  To me, it speaks volumes, but even more so are Locke’s words.  He is against the COVID vaccine, saying …

“If you’ve had the covid-19 shot, I’m telling you you’ve got poison in your veins. We call out the covid-19 vaccine out right now. Keep that demonic spirit out of you right now in the name of Jesus!”

Just words, you might say, but when words are believed, as Locke’s often are, they can cause great harm.  How many people, listening to Locke’s words, have died of COVID because they believed his spiel?  He has a large online presence … he claims millions of followers, but even if it’s only thousands, he is a dangerous firebrand.  Two months ago he held a massive book burning, throwing in copies of such beloved books as the Harry Potter series among others.  He promotes hatred against the LGBTQ community and against people with mental disabilities.

I find it disturbing that according to an article in The Washington Post

“Locke has a social media following of 4 million across multiple platforms, and attendance at Sunday services has grown from 200 before the pandemic to more than 1,000, spilling out of the church building and into an enormous climate-controlled tent, which Locke calls a ‘canvas cathedral.’”

Again, the real danger is that so many people, for whatever reason, listen to and hang on Locke’s words – words of hate, words of dissent, words that incite violence against any and all who view the world through a different lens than Pastor Locke.

I don’t know the solution to counter the hate of both of these men, Mark Burns and Greg Locke.  I only know that they are a threat to us all in one way or another.  The 1st Amendment that guarantees free speech enables them to spread their message of hatred and violence unchecked, and those without the ability to think and reason may well become their private army against the rest of us.

The Virus and Abortion

Our friend Nan’s post today is spot on. One cannot simply cherry-pick one’s freedoms … if you believe in the freedom to control your own body, then you must also believe in MY freedom to control my own body. Good post, Nan … Thanks!

Nan's Notebook

Does anyone else see the correlation between those who reject COVID-19 vaccinations and those who supportAbortion?

Again and again the anti-vaxxers scream that it’s their PERSONAL RIGHT to reject the vaccine and/or to go maskless. They will frequently provide examples where they attended maskless gatherings of friends … “and no one contracted the virus!”

For some, it has become so important for them to “exercise their rights” (e.g., the Canadian truckers) that they lose all empathy for anyone who might be negatively impacted. Indeed, many are so adamant about enforcing their personal choice that they have physically attacked others and even disrupted public gatherings where masks were required. One individual even encouraged an armed attack against those who supported masks and/or vaccines!

Yet in many cases, these same individuals will attempt to take away a WOMAN’s right to seek an abortion. Even though it is as much HER RIGHT to…

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A Bit Of This And A Tad Of That

Just a few short snippets on my radar today …

Invasion of privacy

Beginning this summer, in order to access your file on the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website, you will have to scan your face!!!  No!  Just NO!  The IRS can keep their damned website and I’m sure that if they need information or money from me, they will let me know … sans my picture!  This, to me, is a gross invasion of privacy!  According to an article in Popular Science …

“Users will need to submit a combination of documents and even a video selfie to ID.me, a third-party company, to verify their identity.”

And we should trust either this “ID.me” company OR the Internal Revenue Service WHY???  No!  Just NO!  Believe me, if the IRS wants to get in touch with you, they will definitely do so and without the invasion of your privacy that this photo ID scheme would involve!  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr …

The process might be a barrier even for the tech-savvy, as Brian Krebs, who runs the Krebs on Security blog, found. In his post about the ID.me system, Krebs details having to re-enter his personal information several times before being asked to join a video call and was told the wait time was over three hours to do so.

Call me paranoid if you wish, but long ago I disabled the video cams on both my phone and laptops … a little bit of privacy, please!

Not the brightest bulb in the pack

Sarah Palin … remember her?  She was the floozy who John McCain misguidedly selected as his running mate in 2008 when he ran against Barack Obama, and she likely cost him the election.  She was once the governor of Alaska, famously and falsely claiming that she could “see Russia” from her back door.  Well, she seems to be determined not to fade into oblivion, much to our chagrin.  Recently, she made the statement that …

“It’ll be over my dead body that I’ll have to get a shot. I will not do that. I won’t do it, and they better not touch my kids either.”

Never mind that her ‘kids’ are all, except the youngest, well above the age of legal consent.  Well, karma stepped up to the challenge and last week she tested positive for Covid.  It’s what I call poetic justice.  But wait … there’s more!

Ms. Palin is an egomaniac, apparently, who feels no sense of responsibility to those around her, and so two nights in a row this week she dined out in New York in the company of several other people and sans mask.  New York City Hall spokesman Jonah Allon said in a statement …

“By repeatedly flouting CDC guidelines, Ms. Palin has shown a complete disregard for the health and safety of small business workers and her fellow patrons. The city offers multiple resources to support isolation for those who test positive for COVID-19, and we encourage Ms. Palin to join the 98 percent of New Yorkers who report they have followed guidance on isolation and have helped New York City stop the spread.”

What a selfish and self-focused woman Sarah Palin is.  You’d almost think she was a Republican … oh wait …

WTF Pennsylvania???

Back in 2019, before we had even heard of Covid, a law was passed in Pennsylvania that permitted no-excuse absentee voting, created a permanent mail-in voter list, reduced the voter registration deadline from 30 days to 15 and provided for $90 million in election infrastructure upgrades. It also eliminated straight ticket voting.  Act 77 was passed by a Republican-controlled legislature and signed into law by Democratic Governor Tom Wolf … truly a bipartisan effort that would benefit the people of the state.

But now, in the shadow of the Big Lie, the former guy’s false claims of a ‘stolen’ 2020 election, eleven of the fourteen lawmakers who voted for the bill in 2019, sued to kill the bill … and succeeded, at least for now.  A state court struck down the state’s landmark election law as unconstitutional. The majority opinion, written by Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt, a Republican, ruled that the legislature could not make changes to voting laws without amending the constitution.  An appeal has been filed … whether it is successful or not is anybody’s guess, given the current climate of political divisiveness in states and courts around the nation.  This is yet another attempt to restrict our rights to participate in the democratic process via our vote, our voice.

Fools Rush In …

I have no idea what the numbers are, how many there are, but there are a heck of a lot of damned fools in this nation who have completely misunderstood the concept of ‘individual rights’ or ‘personal freedom’.  These fools have taken those terms to mean they have the right to kill.  Yes, I said kill, for it is certainly killing when a person walks into a store, restaurant or other public venue without being vaccinated and without bothering to wear a mask.

Today at 10:30 a.m., a group of somewhere between 3,000 and 20,000 such fools plan to gather in a march from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.  Their purpose?  To protest against vaccines.  They will waste millions of dollars to travel from as far away as California and are determined to spread Covid wherever they go, sans masks.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Leading the pack is Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., son of the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy and nephew of former President John F. Kennedy.  This Kennedy, unlike his father and uncle, is a conspiracy theorist who was once a respected environmental lawyer and activist, winning a $289 million jury verdict against Monsanto and winning multiple cases to protect coastlines and waterways.  But of late, he is the leader of the anti-vaxxer movement.

The permit the group filed with the National Park Service said they expect 20,000. They’re bringing in 97 port-a-potties. Even though D.C. police are expecting closer 3,000 people, it may be the biggest super-spreader event yet.

It is because of these fools that the rest of us, those of us with a functioning brain, have been largely confined to our homes for nearly two years now!  It is because of these fools that more than 1,000 people are still dying nearly every day in the U.S.  On Friday, 2,917 people died from Covid in the United States, and we are expected to have recorded a million deaths by the end of spring.  It is because of fools like those planning to march in Washington this morning that children must risk their lives every day to attend school, many in states that have banned mask mandates.  It is because of these fools that many of us have given up any hope of returning to a normal, functioning society.

Washington D.C. is currently under a vaccine mandate and the people of D.C. are concerned, rightly so, for the safety of those who work in restaurants and other businesses in the city.  One of the organizers of this protest has stated that they fully intend to enter ‘hospitality venues’ in order to protest against the D.C. vaccine mandate that went into effect on January 15th.  My hope is that they will not be allowed to do so, even if it means closing all businesses including restaurants for the day.

I simply cannot understand the mentality of these fools.  Do they also drive at 100 miles per hour down the highway in protest of speed limit laws?  Do they dine out nude in protest of dress codes?  Do they refuse to pay taxes in protest of the laws of the land?  What selfish, greedy bastards they are.  I can only hope that their protest is minimal and that there is no violence, but I’m pretty sure there will be a spike in new cases over the next two weeks, and we’ll know, without a doubt, who caused it.

Filosofa Is Grumpy …

Apologies in advance … I am in rant mode today!

Of all the men (and a few women, but mostly all men) who occupy seats in Congress and call themselves “Republicans”, there is not one who possesses a conscience.  Not a single one.  Oh sure, a few actually stood up to the former guy last year, but even they have now reverted to form and are toeing the party line … whatever the party line is.  And so, I have this to say to every Republican who has an office in the Capitol …


Whew!  Sorry, folks, but I just had to get that one off my chest.  We the People were guaranteed the right to participate in our government, to have a voice about who represents us, centuries ago and now, all of a sudden, the entire Republican Party is working diligently to steal that right from us.  I, for one, will not sit quietly by watching the demolition of our rights in this nation without raising my voice and maybe a fist or two!

If you live in Orange County, Florida, be advised that your local health department wants you to die.  Yes, you heard me right.  The Orange County Health Department has placed its Director, Dr. Raul Pino, on administrative leave.  Why?  Because he is in favour of people being vaccinated in an effort to eventually end this horrible pandemic that has ruled our lives for the past two years!!!  After finding that out of the 568 active staff at the department, only 77 had received a COVID-19 booster, 219 had two doses of the vaccine and 34 had only one dose, Dr. Pino wrote in an email …

“I have a hard time understanding how we can be in public health and not practice it.  I am sorry but in the absence of reasonable and real reasons it is irresponsible not to be vaccinated. We have been at this for two years, we were the first to give vaccines to the masses, we have done more than 300,000 and we are not even at 50% pathetic.”

And for this, he was suspended from his position.  According to a statement issued by the Orange County Department of Health …

“As the decision to get vaccinated is a personal medical choice that should be made free from coercion and mandates from employers, the employee in question has been placed on administrative leave, and the Florida Department of Health is conducting an inquiry to determine if any laws were broken in this case.

The Department is committed to upholding all laws, including the ban on vaccine mandates for government employees and will take appropriate action once additional information is known.”

The ‘Department’ would better serve the people by demanding every one of their staff be fully vaccinated and encouraging the vaccine, rather than punishing people for promoting it!

And speaking of Florida …

According to the Associated Press

“A bill pushed by Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis that would prohibit public schools and private businesses from making white people feel “discomfort” when they teach students or train employees about discrimination in the nation’s past received its first approval Tuesday.”


Maybe, just maybe it’s about damn time that ‘white people’ start to feel a bit of discomfort for how Black people have been treated throughout the history of this nation and are still treated today!  Maybe if they feel a bit ‘uncomfortable’, they will take a stand and be a part of the movement to end racism in the U.S.  Any ‘white’ person who believes that they are somehow ‘superior’ to others based solely on skin colour deserves to be made to feel uncomfortable, deserves the feelings of guilt that they and their ancestors have earned.

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr …


Take a look at the above picture.  How many people do you see wearing a mask?  Look how close the people are.  Social distancing?  HAH!  I think not!  This was the scene at the 4-day music festival in Chicago called Lollapalooza held this past weekend.  Approximately 100,000 people attended each of the four days.  To attend, people had to either provide a Covid-19 vaccine card or proof of a negative Covid-19 test from the previous 72 hours.  Big f*cking deal.  This event should not have even been held, but to allow nearly a half-million people during the event to mix and mingle sans masks is the height of stupidity.

My daughter is a member of the Cincinnati Caledonian Pipes and Drums band, and as such they typically play at 15-20 events in the eastern half of the U.S. and Canada each year, including a Winter Storm festival in St. Louis, Missouri, in January.  All but one of their events this year was cancelled, and the Winter Storm festival for next January has already been cancelled due to the pandemic.  Yes, the organizers and sponsors of these events are losing money, but they value human life over profit.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Tina Tan said: “When you have 100,000 or more people who are in a fairly enclosed space and there’s no social distancing, the vast majority are not wearing masks, you are going to get some transmission of Covid-19 Delta variant.”

It has already been proven that even if you are fully vaccinated, you can transmit the virus.  Even if you are fully vaccinated, you can catch the virus and become ill.  Doesn’t it just make sense to stay home???  Oh … there’s that word again … ‘sense’ … a lot of people seem to have none.

Chicago is already averaging more than 200 new cases per day, a significant increase from a few months ago. It could be two to three weeks before the effect of Lollapalooza on the city’s case rate is known, and there is also concern about people who visited the city for the festival taking the virus back home with them.  Picture the parents who attended, leaving their children behind with Grandma and Grandpa …  “Oh look, kids, I brought you souvenirs from the festival and one other thing … a killer virus!”

A reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times asked the question, “Why was Lollapalooza allowed to go forward?”  Easy answer … $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

The average cost of a ticket was $545, and that did not include food, drinks, souvenirs, parking, etc.  Multiply that times 100,000 people.  Let me save you the trouble … over $54 million.  Hell no, they weren’t going to give that up, no matter how many deaths may come as a result.

I have long lamented that the human species seems determined to bring about its own extinction and this event is further proof to support my premise.  Climate change, chemicals in our food, plastic in our oceans, nuclear weapons, and so much more … all man-made disasters that, if we don’t wake up and work toward fixing the problem, will render this earth uninhabitable not only by humans, but by thousands of species.  And now … the utter greed and stupidity of people as a response to the pandemic that has already killed more than 4 million people worldwide.

Way to go, humans.

Did The Press Let Us Down? Yes.

I am a staunch supporter of the rights of the free press, for without a free press, we are subject to being held hostage by the lies and cruelty of a dictatorship.  However, in exchange for We the People supporting the free press, we have a right to expect them to give us facts, not fiction.  We have a right to expect that they will provide us with all the facts, not just the ones that sensationalize a story and bring them readers, aka profit.  Sure, there are the likes of Fox ‘News’ and Newsmax that exist for the sole purpose of providing right-wing conspiracy theories, but I’m talking about the legitimate press, what some refer to as the mainstream media.  Over the past decade, the press has let us down numerous times in a number of ways, but today’s example is one that could cost lives, as Eric Boehlert of Press Run tells us …

How the media botched the J&J vaccine “pause” story

Headlines matter

Eric Boehlert

Concerned about six rare and severe blood clot reactions out of nearly seven million Americans who have received the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine, the CDC and the FDA on Tuesday announced a sweeping pause of the immunization in order to investigate the handful of cases.

The J&J vaccine, with its single-dose regimen, currently represents less than five percent of the 100 million-plus vaccines that have been administered this year. The government has more than enough Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to hit the goal of 200 million shots by the end of the month, according to the White House.

Unfortunately for Tuesday’s J&J breaking news, crucial context was missing from most of the headlines. Instead of stressing that less than one in a million J&J shots had produced the troubling blood clot reaction, the press focused on “concerns” surrounding the “halt,”  and how the move “threatens to slow U.S. pandemic progress”:

  • “Johnson & Johnson Vaccinations Halt Across Country After Rare Clotting Cases Emerge” (New York Times)
  • “CDC and FDA Recommend US Pause Use of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 Vaccine Over Blood Clot Concerns” (CNN)
  • “US Recommends ‘Pause’ For J&J Vaccine Over Clot Reports” (Associated Press)
  • “Pause of J&J Vaccine Threatens to Slow U.S. Pandemic Progress Amid Rising Caseload” (Washington Post)
  • “Stocks Wobble After J&J Vaccine Halted, Inflation Uptick” (Wall Street Journal)
  • “US Calls For Pause in Johnson & Johnson Vaccinations Over Blood Clot Concerns” (ABC News)
  • “U.S. Recommends Pausing Use Of Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Over Blood Clot Concerns” (NPR)

It would have been such a simple fix to include “six cases” in each of those headlines, or “extremely rare” in order to give the story crucial, factual context. It’s especially important to provide that full meaning during a public health crisis. Reading those headlines, people likely assumed there were hundreds if not thousands of cases that prompted the vaccine “pause.”

The key omission played into the hands of conservatives who work hard to raise doubts about the virus shots.

It’s true that news consumers who dug into the reports discovered how rare the vaccine-related blood clots were. But those consumers were likely in the minority. According to a  a 2016 study by computer scientists at Columbia University and the French National Institute, nearly 60 percent of links shared on social media have never actually been clicked. “People form an opinion based on a summary, or a summary of summaries, without making the effort to go deeper,” the chief researcher announced.

The J&J news also attracted lots of media attention speculating whether the halt would cause more people to not want to get vaccinated.

It was a bit ironic Tuesday to watch reporters repeatedly press White House officials at the daily media briefing about whether the J&J pause will increase vaccine hesitancy, while never addressing the role the press might play in that phenomenon. By repeatedly failing to put the J&J pause in proper context, specifically with headlines, news outlets bear some of the responsibility this week in pushing alarmist narratives that don’t match the facts.

The CDC and FDA move comes at a time when the conservative media have raised doubts about the vaccines and Republican voters, and white evangelicals in particular, have expressed disdain for getting vaccinated as the country tries to achieve herd immunity in order to return to normalcy. For that to happen, anywhere 75% to 85% of the total population — including children, who are not currently getting the shots — need to be vaccinated.

Nationally, a recent Marist poll in partnership with NPR and PBS found 49% of Republican men said they would not take the vaccine. In Texas, 61 % of white Republicans say they’ll decline. In one county in Alabama, just seven percent of the eligible population has opted to get vaccinated. (More than 90% of county voters backed Trump last year.) And in North Carolina, a coastal county will stop administering vaccines at the end of the month because so few residents are scheduling appointments for the shot.

On Tuesday, the J&J announcement was treated as the biggest Covid news in weeks. The halt came at a time when there had been endless encouraging news about the vaccine rollout during Joe Biden’s presidency.

Is it possible the bad-news angle appealed to the press? A recent study found that the U.S. press prefers to lean into bad Covid news:

The [pandemic] coverage by U.S. publications with a national audience has been much more negative than coverage by any other source that the researchers analyzed, including scientific journals, major international publications and regional U.S. media. “The most well-read U.S. media are outliers in terms of their negativity.”

The important J&J pause story was one that cried out for full context in all aspects of the coverage, including the all-important headlines. Instead, the press bungled the assignment.

The Week’s Best Cartoons 12/5

Mind bounce has kicked in today, and I’m unable to produce a single coherent sentence!  Mostly, I think, it’s that I’m sick and tired of writing about you-know-who and the shenanigans the you-know-what-party is trying to use to overturn the will of the people.  So, I turn to TokyoSand for her latest post of political cartoons, and she doesn’t disappoint!  Thank you, TS!


See All The ‘Toons!