US Republican presidential candidates held a debate last night and they sent a pretty clear message to secular progressives: do not, under any circumstances, vote for us.

On separation of Church and State (from this transcript):

PAWLENTY: Well, the protections between the separation of church and state were designed to protect people of faith from government, not government from people of faith. This is a country that in our founding documents says we’re a nation that’s founded under God, and the privileges and blessings at that we have are from our creator. They’re not from our member of Congress. They’re not from our county commissioner.

And 39 of the 50 states have in the very early phrases of their constitutions language like Minnesota has in its preamble. It says this, “We the people of Minnesota, grateful to God for our civil and religious liberties,” and so the Founding Fathers understood that the blessings that we have as a nation come from our creator and we should stop and say thanks and express gratitude for that. I embrace that.

Our founding fathers were deists, atheists, and Christians but above all that they were secularists who made it blindingly obvious that there was to be a clear separation of church and state. Shouldn’t a basic understanding of American history be a prerequisite for a presidential candidate?

SANTORUM: I’m some who believes that you approach issues using faith and reason. And if your faith is pure and your reason is right, they’ll end up in the same place.

I think the key to the success of this country, how we all live together, because we are a very diverse country — Madison called it the perfect remedy — which was to allow everybody, people of faith and no faith, to come in and make their claims in the public square, to be heard, have those arguments, and not to say because you’re not a person of faith, you need to stay out, because you have strong faith convictions, your opinion is invalid. Just the opposite — we get along because we know that we — all of our ideas are allowed in and tolerated. That’s what makes America work.

Credit where it’s due: congrats to Rick Santorum for saying the least stupid thing that night about separation of church and state.

KING: Congressman Paul, does faith have a role in these public issues, the public square, or is it a personal issue at your home and in your church?

PAUL: I think faith has something to do with the character of the people that represent us, and law should have a moral fiber to it and our leaders should. We shouldn’t expect us to try to change morality. You can’t teach people how to be moral.

But the Constitution addresses this by saying — literally, it says no theocracy. But it doesn’t talk about church and state. The most important thing is the First Amendment. Congress shall write no laws — which means Congress should never prohibit the expression of your Christian faith in a public place.

And an award to Ron Paul for maybe the most stupid! Let’s get a replay of that:

But the Constitution addresses this by saying — literally, it says no theocracy. But it doesn’t talk about church and state.

Apparently Ron Paul doesn’t know the meaning of either theocracy, church, state, or all of the above.

Then the focus switched to Muslims. Herman Cain (who? Oh some businessman who once said he would never want a Muslim to serve on his cabinet) clarified that he’d let a Muslim be in his administration, just not the kind of Muslim that is trying to kill us:

CAIN: First, the statement was would I be comfortable with a Muslim in my administration, not that I wouldn’t appoint one. That’s the exact transcript.

And I would not be comfortable because you have peaceful Muslims and then you have militant Muslims, those that are trying to kill us.

And so, when I said I wouldn’t be comfortable, I was thinking about the ones that are trying to kill us, number one.

That’s a good point! Who would be comfortable working with someone who is trying to kill you? He’d probably be totally cool if one of his opponents said the same thing about black people. “It’s not that I don’t want any black people in my cabinet. I just don’t want any black people who may be trying to murder me.”

But here’s the problem: how do you tell the difference between a good Muslim and an evil Muslim? You could ask during the interview process, of course – “Tell me, how do you feel about murdering infidels? Strongly for, slightly for, indifferent, slightly against, or strongly against? Uh huh, I see . . . ” There’s a problem with that, though, which Newt Gingrich quickly pointed out:

GINGRICH: I just want to comment for a second. The Pakistani who emigrated to the U.S. became a citizen, built a car bomb which luckily failed to go off in Times Square was asked by the federal judge, how could he have done that when he signed — when he swore an oath to the United States. And he looked at the judge and said, “You’re my enemy. I lied.”

Now, I just want to go out on a limb here. I’m in favor of saying to people, if you’re not prepared to be loyal to the United States, you will not serve in my administration, period.

Good point, Newt! How can we possibly separate the Muslims who want to kill us from the ones who don’t? We can’t! So we should probably just find out who all the Muslims are and then black list them, right? That worked really well in the past. What was that guy’s name, McCarthy?

GINGRICH: We did this — we did this in dealing with the Nazis and we did this in dealing with the communists. And it was controversial both times, and both times we discovered after a while, you know, there are some genuinely bad people who would like to infiltrate our country. And we have got to have the guts to stand up and say no.

Yeah, remember when we were all like, “Hey, that McCarthy guy really had a point, didn’t he?” Yep.

Then the debate moved on to the gayz and how they’re trying to ruin marriage:

BACHMANN:
I also believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. I carried that legislation when I was a senator in Minnesota, and I believe that for children, the best possible way to raise children is to have a mother and father in their life.

Then she mentions that she was raised by a single mother because her parents got divorced. So yeah, let’s stop the gayz from screwing up marriage! The heteros are doing such a great job with it!

And speaking of the Republican agenda item of making life miserable for gay people, all but Santorum (omg he actually came across as not the worst) favor Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Yes, even the Libertarian idol Ron Paul, who doesn’t believe in gay rights:

PAUL: I would not work to overthrow [DADT]. We have to remember, rights don’t come in groups. We shouldn’t have gay rights. Rights come as individuals. If we would (ph) have this major debate going on, it would be behavior that would count, not the person who belongs to which group.

So yeah, it doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight, so long as you never act gay. Acting straight is fine because that’s normal.

And then of course we get to women’s legal right to abortion, an absolutely essential part of women’s health and freedom. Michelle Bachmann is anti-choice and would make the right to abortion illegal if she becomes president. Watch as she refuses to answer whether or not she would allow exceptions for abortion in the case of rape, incest, or maternal death:

FOREMAN: Hi, John. Representative Bachmann, I have a question for you. Governor Pawlenty says he opposes abortion rights except in cases of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is at stake. Do you have any problem with that position? And if so, why?

BACHMANN: I am 100 percent pro-life. I’ve given birth to five babies, and I’ve taken 23 foster children into my home. I believe in the dignity of life from conception until natural death. I believe in the sanctity of human life.

And I think the most eloquent words ever written were those in our Declaration of Independence that said it’s a creator who endowed us with inalienable rights given to us from God, not from government. And the beauty of that is that government cannot take those rights away. Only God can give, and only God can take.

And the first of those rights is life. And I stand for that right. I stand for the right to life. The very few cases that deal with those exceptions are the very tiniest of fraction of cases, and yet they get all the attention. Where all of the firepower is and where the real battle is, is on the general — genuine issue of taking an innocent human life. I stand for life from conception until natural death.

Tim Pawlenty isn’t going to let her top him:

KING: All right. Governor Pawlenty, it was your position that was brought into the question. We’ll give you a few seconds.

PAWLENTY: Well, this is a great example where we can look at our records. The National Review Online, which is a conservative publication, said based on results — not just based on words — I was probably the most pro-life candidate in this race.

As governor of the state of Minnesota, I appointed to the Supreme Court a conservative court for the first time in the modern history of my state. We passed the most pro-life legislation anytime in the modern history of the state, which I proposed and signed, including women’s right to know, including positive alternatives to abortion legislation, and many others.

I’m solidly pro-life. The main pro-life organization in Minnesota gives me very, very high marks. And I haven’t just talked about these things; I’ve done it.

And of course Santorum and Gingrich wouldn’t miss the chance to also mention that they’d take away a woman’s right to choose if given the opportunity:

SANTORUM: I think — I think an issue should be — in looking at any candidate is looking at the authenticity of that candidate and looking at their — at their record over time and what they fought for. And I think that’s — that a factor that — that should be determined.

You can look at my record. Not only have I been consistently pro-life, but I’ve taken the — you know, I’ve not just taken the pledge, I’ve taken the bullets to go out there and fight for this and lead on those issues. And I think that’s a factor that people should consider when you — when you look, well, what is this president going to do when he comes to office?

A lot of folks run for president as pro-life and then that issue gets shoved to the back burner. I will tell you that the issue of pro-life, the sanctity and dignity of every human life, not just at birth, not just on the issue of abortion, but with respect to the entire life, which I mentioned welfare reform and — and the dignity of people at the end of life, those issues will be top priority issues for me to make sure that all life is respected and held with dignity.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Governor Romney, let me give you — take — take 20 or 30 seconds, if there’s a Republican out there for whom this important, who questions your authenticity on the issue?

ROMNEY: People have had a chance to look at my record and look what I’ve said as — as I’ve been through that last campaign. I believe people understand that I’m firmly pro-life. I will support justices who believe in following the Constitution and not legislating from the bench. And I believe in the sanctity of life from the very beginning until the very end.

Yep, Santorum is taking the bullets! Not the bullets meant for abortion providers, of course. No, those are in the process of being protected by his Republican cohorts in South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Nebraska.

No seriously, go back and read that link. It’s about a man who traveled to Madison, WI in May to shoot abortion providers “right in the head.” The day he was arrested a State committee approved a bill to allow residents to carry concealed weapons with no permit or training. The article also mentions that Nebraska is considering the same bill that was overturned in South Dakota that considered the murder of abortion providers as justifiable homicide. Just an aside.

So anyway, there you have it: anti-abortion, anti-first amendment, anti-gay rights. Stellar line-up, Republicans!

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org and appears on the weekly Skeptics' Guide to the Universe podcast. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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45 Comments

  1. Avatar of mrwilson41
    June 14, 2011 at 8:55 am —

    Thank you for blogging this, Rebecca. That was a nice summing up of the debate.

  2. Avatar of oragette
    June 14, 2011 at 8:59 am —

    Yo,
    Just wanted to say thank you very much for that summary, as I could not bring myself to watch the debate the concise analysis is much appreciated.
    Keep thinking.

  3. Avatar of martian_bob
    June 14, 2011 at 9:10 am —

    Ron Paul also apparently doesn’t know what “literally” means – the word “theocracy” appears nowhere in the document.

  4. Avatar of Imrryr
    June 14, 2011 at 9:37 am —

    Wow. First off, I’m surprised that Gingrich even showed. And second, I keep trying to decide which of these candidates would do the least amount of damage if elected, but it makes my brain hurt.

    I also have to wonder if Pawlenty knows that Minnesota became a state in 1858. Most of the Founding Fathers were dead by then, bro. One thing I am sure of is that he definitely doesn’t understand that the right to religious freedom is incompatible with his idea of forcing people to express gratitude to some kind of “creator god”.

  5. Avatar of mrmisconception
    June 14, 2011 at 9:52 am —

    Wow, eighteen flavors of crazy!
    .
    Kind of puts that whole Kucinich UFO sighting thing into perspective doesn’t it?

  6. Avatar of chriss
    June 14, 2011 at 10:08 am —

    The most disturbing part of this debate was Herman Cain’s answer to the Muslim, and your commentary on this nails it. All this guy was doing was trying to dress up ordinary bigotry with the trappings of political expediency, which made his answers sound even worse.

    It brought to mind a passage from Heinar Kipphardt’s play about Oppenheimer:

    “There are people who are willing to protect freedom until there is nothing left of it.”

  7. Avatar of scribe999
    June 14, 2011 at 11:38 am —

    There was a GOP debate last night? Aw man, I didn’t watch because I thought it was the world’s shittiest game show.

  8. Avatar of spaceykate
    June 14, 2011 at 12:18 pm —

    Oooh. It’s a bad omen for the next election that we’re already using “Rick Santorum” and “least stupid” in the same sentence.

  9. Avatar of bluescat48
    June 14, 2011 at 1:09 pm —

    I didn’t watch it, it is not my type of mythology.

  10. Avatar of Glow-Orb
    June 14, 2011 at 1:29 pm —

    @Scribe999: COTW

  11. Avatar of winchwench
    June 14, 2011 at 1:32 pm —

    As a libertarian and a skeptic/atheist this sort of thing is exactly why I could never get excited for Ron Paul. I would be interested to know what this group thinks of Gary Johnson. I have heard him say that he will never make a religious argument for policy, and that he at the very least supports civil unions and some abortion rights. Anybody have any thoughts?

    • Avatar of Louis Doench
      June 14, 2011 at 3:34 pm —

      I’m not sure why Johnson is still in the Republican Party. He has to know that the Republican primary base has been reduced by the southern strategy to the level of a racist mob. And the money primary will be won by some empty gray man like Mitt or Pawlenty.

      It’s not like any of the wingnut stuff we make fun of here is considered that far out by the republican base. Almost all of that dreck is part of every republican platform.

      • Avatar of winchwench
        June 14, 2011 at 8:41 pm —

        But isn’t that precisely why we should be excited about him being in the republican party? I just think that any candidate willing to publicly repudiate religion in politics is good, and that fact that it is a republican candidate (admittedly a long shot but even so) is a reason for celebration.

        • Avatar of mikerattlesnake
          June 15, 2011 at 3:43 pm —

          Free market worship is just as irrational as any religion and equally as scary for our country’s future.

          • Avatar of anarchist
            July 4, 2011 at 10:02 pm

            Cheers to that.

  12. Avatar of JeffGrigg
    June 14, 2011 at 4:58 pm —

    Regarding Gingrich’s comments about Nazis and communists, we should remember the German populations of Saint Louis and other areas in WWII, and…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese-American_internment

    • Avatar of robm
      June 14, 2011 at 5:34 pm —

      We should, they shouldn’t, it would only give them ideas.

  13. Avatar of Buzz Parsec
    June 14, 2011 at 6:49 pm —

    Santorum: I will tell you that the issue of pro-life, the sanctity and dignity of every human life, not just at birth, not just on the issue of abortion, but with respect to the entire life, which I mentioned welfare reform and — and the dignity of people at the end of life, those issues will be top priority issues for me to make sure that all life is respected and held with dignity.
    .
    So he must be in favor of a free, Universal Health Services, right? Oh, sorry, my mistake. That’s the name of an extremely dodgy hospital company that includes one Rick Santorum on its board of directories.
    .
    But I assume the rest of them don’t subscribe to the opinion that the right to life ends at birth. <crickets> Anyone? Anyone? Romney? Anyone? </crickets>

  14. Avatar of BubbaRich
    June 14, 2011 at 10:58 pm —

    If you read closely, you’ll see that Romney was trying to convince wingnut voters he’s their man without actually committing to anything. I’m hoping he can resist the wingnut sirens, because I’d like to have two human opponents battle it out in the 2012 campaign. I felt like we did in 2008, until McCain picked That Woman. Even after he picked Palin, I had big hopes for her as a political outsider who cleaned up political dirt in Alaska. But she started talking, and she could only speak “wingnut” in public, so I was left with no choice but the man who campaigned on two issues: “I’m not Bush” and “I’m gonna let you continue thinking I can walk on water.” I hope a good opponent will break him out of that, force him to take actual positions on some issues, instead of letting everybody assume he agrees with them.

  15. Avatar of wafonso
    June 15, 2011 at 7:35 am —

    Did Santorum sort of imply he would be in favour of making assisted suicide entirely legal? Or isn’t this what “dignity of people at the end of life” mean in his dialect?

  16. Avatar of eli54
    June 15, 2011 at 2:26 pm —

    And once again we are reduced to trying to pick the least objectionable.

  17. Avatar of riotboi
    June 16, 2011 at 12:47 am —

    Simply put- Fuck. Forget anything ‘Merica has done positive in the past (black president, anyone?), this is what the rest of the world sees when they look at us.

    • Avatar of mrmisconception
      June 16, 2011 at 12:00 pm —

      I see your point, and I agree to an extent, but it’s like saying the French Renaissance is wiped away because Sarkozy is a misogynist dick-munch.
      To whit, I hope what you say is not true though I <i.fear that it is true.
      C’est la vie.

  18. Avatar of
    June 16, 2011 at 5:38 pm —

    Rebecca,

    I found your blog through the SGU podcast – I’m a huge fan. Don’t check your blog regularly, but this post really shocked me. I’m very disappointed in your handling of these issues, mostly because the skeptical eye that you always turn to issues like homeopathy or acupuncture is notably absent in this rant.

    You’re a liberal progressive, I respect that. You have a political point of view that I happen to disagree with, that’s not a problem. But you seem to fall into the trap – as so many on both sides do – of thinking that there is absolute truth in politics, and your side has a monopoly on that truth.

    Republicans in general – and the presidential candidates on stage the other night in particular – are not stupid. They’re not mean. They’re not plotting some secret plan to unleash the mighty god Xenu to force all the heathen liberals on the planet to watch Tom Cruise movies. These presidential candidates are serious people with serious ideas about public policy backed up by years or decades of writing, research, and actual practice in the field.

    You disagree with them, got it. But nowhere in this post (and I’ve not read many of your other posts) do you lay out a coherent argument for why you disagree with them. Nor do you leave any room for disagreement with you. If your intent with this post was to preach to a choir, mission accomplished.

    Couple of points on substance. Tim Pawlenty got church and state pretty much right, and this is something I didn’t learn/realize until graduate school. A professor of mine at Georgetown devoted an entire class day to this subject, separation of church and state, and how the intent was not to protect the state from the church, but to protect the church from the state (although the protection of both institutions was desirable). Our founding fathers were British subjects who grew up in the tradition of the Church of England. They were disappointed with the way the politics of the state infected the church and vice-versa. You can see a similar effect played out today in Muslim countries – women in Saudi Arabia can’t drive because of a line in the Koran forbidding women from riding on donkeys (I’m paraphrasing). When women are eventually granted the right to drive (which may be 10ish years in the future, according to a Saudi friend of mine), the rulers will have to morph religious doctrine to ensure it doesn’t violate the state religion. In sum, a state separate from a religion has no say in what that religion teaches – and that was a desirable outcome for the founding fathers.

    On to gay rights – here is where I actually agree with many liberals. I do believe gays should be able to marry and serve in the military (I’m on active duty right now). But many religious voters (including some liberals!) see marriage as a religious institution, not a state institution. People are married in the eyes of God, and whether or not they’re married in the eyes of the state is a secondary matter. The question for me then becomes one of terminology – civil union v. marriage. But again, people who hold views that don’t match yours are not out to “make life miserable for gay people.”

    How do you feel when creationists distort your arguments into straw man statements like that?

    On the Muslim issue – speaking from personal experience there are absolutely Muslim religious fanatics in the world (like the abortion fanatics you cite later in your post, only few orders of magnitude more) who will kill me or you for no other reason than we are infidels. Secondly – echoing the earlier straw man theme – did any one of the candidates mention blacklists or internment camps? Do you cite any policy recommendations they made which lead you to this conclusion? No and no. As an aside, no matter what you think of his politics, Gingrich is one of the most well read, intelligent people I’ve ever met or heard speak. I disagree with him often (and his chance of becoming president is nil) but he’s not someone you can airily dismiss with a wave of your hand. He’s a serious man.

    Lastly, on abortion. This is a very emotional topic for a lot of people, dealing literally with life and death. However it’s also an issue on which reasonable, serious people can disagree. I heard a relatively long discussion on the SGU about the question of when life begins (and what the term life refers to). Scientifically this is a complicated question depending on how you define your terms. As a matter of public policy it’s also a complicated question – and one that, for all intents and purposes is off the table unless/until a constitutional amendment banning abortion is passed (highly unlikely to say the least). As a matter of law, the Supreme Court has declared the practice legal, and has subsequently upheld that decision.

    I’d love it, just once, if someone on the pro-abortion side (see what I did there, changing the language I used to describe the issue, just as you have done) would come out and say “you know what, as a matter of public policy I think it’s more important for a woman to have control of her body and be able to abort, but I understand those who believe life begins at conception and think they have a point.”

    Instead, you went for the non-sequitur. Maybe I’m wrong about the whole Xenu/Tom Cruise plot thing, but I’m absolutely certain that concealed carry laws are not part of a secret GOP plot to kill all the abortion doctors on the planet. There are good public policy reasons for concealed carry laws. You may disagree with them, and I respect that. But to conflate the two issues is completely wrong.

    On a side note – on the SGU you routinely mock the Huffington Post for their anti-science articles, yet you cite them for their political arguments because you agree with them politically. I find that interesting.

    • Avatar of Rebecca Watson
      June 16, 2011 at 5:54 pm —

      I don’t need to lay out in every post why women deserve the right to their own bodies, why gay people deserve the same rights as straight people, or what separation of church and state means. Frankly, that would be exhausting. Suffice it to say that the First Amendment and subsequent Supreme Court rulings demand the government remain secular, no matter how much Pawlenty wants Jesus in charge. And banning abortion? Well the research shows us that that ends up killing more women and not saving any embryos or fetuses, so no, I don’t think the anti-choice lobby “has a point.” They are anti-life, and yes, I am pro-abortion and don’t mind you calling me that. Abortion makes lives better. It is a blessing for the many women who desperately want children but end up having horrific complications, and for those who don’t want the 9-week old <1″ embryo inside them become an 18-year burden.

      • Avatar of
        June 16, 2011 at 6:40 pm —

        Rebecca – As a professed skeptic, someone who looks at issues of science dispassionately and arrives at her conclusions through logic and reasoning, you seem to check those skills at the door when it comes to politics.

        Are you saying that reasonable, serious people cannot disagree with you on any of these issues, that you have arrived at the absolute public policy truth of these issues? That’s what you seem to be saying, and it’s something I find chilling (and I agree with you on both gay marriage and abortion, although probably for different reasons).

        Public policy isn’t science and there is no one ‘right’ answer. You make your argument and try to persuade as many people as you can.

        The point of my reply was that instead of argument, you went for hyperbole. The candidates in the debate aren’t morons who arrive at their positions having given them no thought/study, and I tried to illustrate a little of that. I had hoped, at the very least, you would acknowledge there is an argument to be made.

        • Avatar of mrmisconception
          June 16, 2011 at 9:32 pm —

          They’re not plotting some secret plan to unleash the mighty god Xenu to force all the heathen liberals on the planet to watch Tom Cruise movies.
          .
          In a strange confluence you have lead me to the name David Iglesias. If you don’t know who he is you should look it up; you see, he was an States Attorney who was fired because he refused to bring bogus vote fraud charges against democrats. The “secret plan” that the Republican’s have involves “legally” making it nearly impossible for them to be opposed in any serious way through intimidation, conspiracies (in the legal sense) like described above, redistricting, and sowing fear of the unknown. You don’t need to take my word for it, look it up.
          What have to do with Tom Cruise? David Iglasias is one of the people that Tom’s character Lt. Daniel Kaffee was based on.
          But many religious voters (including some liberals!) see marriage as a religious institution, not a state institution. People are married in the eyes of God, and whether or not they’re married in the eyes of the state is a secondary matter. The question for me then becomes one of terminology – civil union v. marriage.
          I am sure that gays do not give a flipping fig whether God thinks they are married or not; what they want is the protection that is afforded spouses making it the primary issue; what you are proposing is the equivalent of separate-but-equal and it doesn’t hold water. And since you want to make appeals to popularity, more people than not now agree with our opinion.
          .
          Anyway, welcome to the site, I think you will find that only a few of us actually have fangs.

          • Avatar of
            June 17, 2011 at 12:36 am

            Absolutely, I completely agree. Anthony Weiner is a prime example of that kind of sinister Republican mentality. Karl Rove secretly recruited him to run as a liberal Democrat, court and then eventually marry an aide to Hillary Clinton (with Bill Clinton presiding at the wedding), then – at the perfect moment, and upon telepathic command – self destruct both personally and politically in a bid to take the rest of the Democratic party with him. Damn those guys are good.

            Do I believe Republicans use dirty tricks to get elected and stay elected, yes. Do I believe Democrats do the same thing in equal numbers, yes (i.e. the ‘recounts’ in WA and MN).

            I’m not proposing anything with respect to gay marriage – and I’ve already stated that I agree gays should be allowed to marry. I’m simply stating that, in matters of public policy, there is no ‘right’ answer. There are valid and reasonable points to be made on either side of almost any issue.

            What I can’t stand is when partisans (on either side) proclaim that the other side of an issue is ‘stupid’, ‘mean’, or – as Rebecca seemed to suggest in this post – wants to bring back McCarthyism/internment camps or make life hard for gay people just for the hell of it.

            That kind of rhetoric doesn’t add anything of substance to the political debate. And suggesting, as Rebecca did, that a presidential candidate doesn’t have a basic understanding of American history when in fact she is the one who’s mistaken, is outrageous. Ditto for suggesting that Republicans want to make life difficult for gay people or want to kill all abortion doctors. C’mon…seriously? Is this where politics has descended and aren’t we better than that?

        • Avatar of Dale Husband
          June 17, 2011 at 10:45 am —

          majortom, you must not be an American. American politics is not really about things like logic and reasoning. It IS about hyperbole.

          “Are you saying that reasonable, serious people cannot disagree with you on any of these issues, that you have arrived at the absolute public policy truth of these issues? That’s what you seem to be saying, and it’s something I find chilling (and I agree with you on both gay marriage and abortion, although probably for different reasons).”

          If your goals are different from that of Rebecca, you need to clarify what those goals are. Some people claim to have the same goals, but lie, either about the goals themselves or about historical or scientific facts. That’s part of American politics too.

          • Avatar of
            June 17, 2011 at 12:56 pm

            Dale – in a general sense I agree, hyperbole is a politician’s best friend. But should skeptics sink to their level? I don’t think so.

            In simple terms, I believe the goal of public policy in general is to create the best possible environment in which to live. And I believe the US system is as close as humanity has ever come to that ideal. However, some people prefer communisim, Islamism, etc., and for them that’s the ‘best’ way to live. They have their reasons, I have mine. Are either of us ‘right’? I don’t know if that’s a question for which there is an answer.

      • Avatar of anarchist
        July 4, 2011 at 10:08 pm —

        Hell yes to that, Rebecca. Abortion should be available on demand, free of charge, for any reason, no apologies. Here in Ohio they are working on making abortion illegal after 6 weeks, effectively prohibiting abortion. The GOP was busy passing that and two other anti-abortion bills in the same session. The war on women rages on and yes, there is a wrong side to be on in this issue. If a person is anti-abortion, they are wrong. Empirically wrong if they call themselves “pro-life” because abortion-prohibition kills. Morally wrong because abortion prohibition kills. Thanks for your stance and strong voice on this issue.
        –some privileged dude who is a moral secular humanist and therefore pro-choice.

  19. Avatar of Buzz Parsec
    June 16, 2011 at 5:39 pm —

    Well, that was kind of cool. I just got a fund-raising call from the DNC, and the subject came around to the Republican debate and snarky comments on the Internet, and when I mentioned Skepchick, the guy was totally familiar with it and was obviously at least an occasional lurker here! Yippee!

  20. Avatar of savi
    June 22, 2011 at 7:56 am —

    With all due respect, I’m willing to bet your knowledge of constitutional law is shit compared to that of Ron Paul. The man has been passionately defending the constitution for decades. Secular progressives like myself would be far better off with the kind of policies Ron Paul endorses than those of the average republican (or even the average democrat). Do you even know anything about him? You even twisted his stance on gay rights, making it seem like he doesn’t believe gays should have rights. What he said was that rights don’t belong to groups (gay, straight, men, women, black, white, etc); they belong to individuals. He was merely trying to dispel the collectivist notion that certain groups deserve certain rights. He values individualism rather than group-think, and you butcher the meaning of his words and make him look like he’s the bad guy. That’s a terrible thing to do. You need to do some research on his positions before spewing empty criticism.

    • Avatar of Holytape
      June 27, 2011 at 3:39 pm —

      With all due respect, Ron Paul’s knowledge of constitutional law is shit. It’s best to view him as a champion of small federal government or even as a enemy of the power of the federal government, than a champion of individual liberty. He has repeated come out against a federal ban on gay marriage, not so much because he supports gay marriage, but because he doesn’t believe that federal government should deal with that issue. He believes it’s a states right to regulate marriage. And when it comes to states, he doesn’t mind if states don’t accept gay marriage. In fact, he thinks it’s the states right to make homosexuality a crime. So in a nutshell, Ron Paul doesn’t mind a draconian government as long as it’s not the federal government.

      As for the group rights/individual rights, its a meaningless and dishonest way of addressing the issues. Gays aren’t asking for special rights. Women aren’t asking for special rights. They are asking not to be denied basic rights based on group membership. So him arguing than that groups don’t have special rights is just a coded way of saying that it’s okay to deny rights based on group identification.

      Ron Paul was way too many connections to the White Power Movement and the Christian Nationalist to be considered a good guy.

      • Avatar of savi
        July 4, 2011 at 4:36 am —

        Holytape, you haven’t done your homework on Ron Paul or Constitutional government. There were so many mistruths in your post. Where do I begin?

        Paul has been supporting constitutional policies/legislation and rejecting unconstitutional policies/legislation longer than most people on this site have been alive. There is not a chance in hell that anyone here knows as much as him about how a republic is supposed to operate.

        Small government is synonymous with individual liberty. Everyone should know this.

        In the debate discussed in this very article on which you are commenting, Paul stated clearly that it is the church’s decision whether to allow gay marriage, not that of the government. He wishes government never started regulating marriage in the first place. He realizes the dangers of separating people into groups and giving some of them privileges while withholding those privileges from other groups. He’s firmly against this, and he’s been trying to halt any legislation that contains such policies throughout his entire career.

        As soon as you mentioned the white power movement and Christian nationalism, I knew you had no interest in knowledge. Those are collectivist movements. And if there’s one thing that libertarians hate more than anything in the world, it’s collectivism.

        I was an active participant in the effort to get Ron Paul nominated for president in 2007-2008. Believe me when I say I’ve done my homework.

    • Avatar of anarchist
      July 4, 2011 at 10:16 pm —

      Ron Paul has ties to white nationalist movements. He regularly attends meetings and does speaking events with members of Stormfront, American Renaissance, the Institute for Historic Review and other white nationalist and Holocaust-denial groups. He is a well-known supporter in those circles. He won’t acknowledge it publicly because it would be even worse than his acknowledgement of his anti-drug war stance (which I think is a fine thing.) So I really don’t care what he knows about the Constitution or any other documents.

  21. Avatar of midnightvoice
    June 27, 2011 at 1:01 pm —

    To quote Ron Paul “The notion of a rigid separation between church and state has no basis in either the text of the Constitution or the writings of our Founding Fathers. On the contrary, our Founders’ political views were strongly informed by their religious beliefs. Certainly the drafters of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, both replete with references to God, would be aghast at the federal government’s hostility to religion. The establishment clause of the First Amendment was simply intended to forbid the creation of an official state church like the Church of England, not to drive religion out of public life”

    He and I obviously read different versions of our Founding Documents :D

    • Avatar of savi
      July 4, 2011 at 5:11 am —

      The text from which that quote was taken (http://www.lewrockwell.com/paul/paul148.html) was in reference to secular attacks on the freedom of Christians to hold religious ceremonies and place religious decorations in public. I personally don’t have a problem with the public practice of religion, as long as the decorations and ceremonies aren’t funded with taxpayer money. Even though I despise religion, I despise even more the act of imposing one’s will over that of another, even if it’s a secular group telling a religious group they can no longer practice their religion in public.

      The federal government is not supposed to be opposed to religion. It’s stance on religion should be neutral. It should neither lend support to, nor work to undermine any religious group. And to me, that is a true separation of church and state. “Separation” does not mean opposition.

  22. Avatar of flarrgunstow
    July 6, 2011 at 3:38 pm —

    Guys, guys. Ron Paul’s quotes were just taken out of context. Ya know, like the bible.

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