Saturday, April 4, 2015

Shane Vander Hart, Iowa's conspicuously caffeinated right wing blogger, is singing the RFRA blues

It's been a while since we surfed to Shane Vander Hart's blog, Caffeinated Thoughts. 
     Shane, understandably, isn't crazy about this blog. He told us one (just one?) of our posts demonstrated "the worst in political blogging."
     AKSARBENT, for its part, thinks Shane has some extremely creepy friends and/or acquaintances.
     Anyway, Shane is currently mad about the fact that various Religious Freedom Restoration Acts are blowing up in the faces of the conservatives who thought no one notice how different their new versions are from the federal RFRA (Hey, look — ours is just like the one Clinton signed! HEY! You're looking too closely!)
      After claiming that "the media and certainly liberal activists are being dishonest about what it actually does," reliably reactionary Vander Hart purported to do otherwise, or so his headline, like a phony Grindr come-on, seductively promised:
     Vander Hart deplored the "feigned uproar over Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act." (Funny, neither the GOP mayor of Indianapolis and its Tourist Bureau nor the Indianapolis Star thought the uproar was feigned.) 

     To borrow a seque from George Takei, we can only say to Shane, "My, my! What an expansive definition of "individual" you seem to entertain when you equate Indiana's RFRA with the one Bill Clinton signed!" Here's what Vander Hart conveniently omitted from his defense of Indiana's unamended RFRA:
     As you can see, Indiana's unrevised RFRA was so broad that it "protected" an entity whose religious feelings were allegedly hurt by marauding mobs of homos even if that entity was actually a for-profit corporation in which most of the stock was held by atheists, provided the firm was actually "controlled" by pushy Christers who had a "substantial" amount (but not even necessarily a majority) of the stock.
     How's that for a loophole, huh kids?
     But wait, there's more that seemed to escape Shane's sacred spin:

     Oh — so it's all about the GOV'MINT abasing and abusing Christian cake bakers who are pitifully reduced to depending on the kindness of benevolent strangers, like the multimillion-dollar Christian legal steamroller, the so-called Alliance Defending Freedom, right?
     Well, not exactly. What Shane didn't mention is that the act helps protect the "piety" of, say, a hospital corporation, if a homophobic Christian doctor or nurse invokes "next-of-kin" rules to isolate a critically injured patient while while cruelly relegating his or her frantic life partner to a lobby because their legal marriage was in a different, more liberal, state or country.
     Nowhere did Vander Hart bother to mention what the actual Indiana RFRA plainly states (below)  that the law provides a defense "regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding."
     In fact, ThinkProgress, for one busted Vander Hart's specious (or maybe just dishonest) argument before he even wrote it:
     But while RFRAs advanced in previous years were designed to prohibit the government from burdening the religious beliefs of citizens, Indiana’s bill would allow individuals to use their religious beliefs to defend themselves in court even if the state is not party to the case. Thus, this would allow a business owner to use their religious beliefs to justify refusing services for a same-sex couple’s wedding. As a state law, this would supersede any municipal nondiscrimination laws that protect LGBT people.

     In a follow-up article, Shane Vander Hart even busted his own duplicity in a post called Indiana Just Gutted RFRA Making It Meaningless:
In their “clarification” they neglect that language so basically we have a RFRA which is meaningless for anyone except those in religious organizations and they were mostly already covered by an exemption in most Civil Rights Codes that I can think of.
     Are you following this? Vander Hart argues that because clarification of a bill called "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" now grants exemptions only to actual religions, not for-profit corporations, it has been "gutted."

     Kinda makes you wonder if the terrible liberals and oh-so-naive corporations like Apple, Lilly, Levi's, Marriott, Nascar, Walmart, etc., who wanted the act amended to make it do only what its name said, were onto Indiana Governor Mike Pence's song and dance about how he wasn't sneaking a stealth right-to-discriminate law into Indiana's statutes — even after he invited a Who's Who of Indiana's professional homophobes into a "private" signing ceremony.
     Maybe Vander Hart should lay off the caffeine. Dressing a right-wing agenda of enabling homophobes in the drag of religious freedom just got a lot harder because the old tricks aren't fooling as many people as they used to.
     For a more honest and sensible explanation than you'll ever get from the Shane Vander Harts of the world of the alarming new generation of RFRAs and how the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision turned even relatively benign older RFRAs from freedom shields into right-wing swords — read this expose at the Daily Beast.

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