Imaginary Problems and Imaginary Voters

Huckabee confuses voters, St. Louis wars on T-shirts, and people are having sex for fun, creating mass chaos in the streets. Plus, an interview with sex therapist Marty Klein about panics over problems people don't have.

Links in this episode:
Stephen Colbert lobbies
Huckabee's Biblical allusions
America's War On Sex
St. Louis T-shirt war
Tinker v Des Moines Schools
South Dakota v birth control
Oh noes! Sex for fun!


This week on Reality Cast, I'll have an interview with Dr. Marty Klein about sex panics, an illustration of one sex panic in action, a discussion of Mike Huckabee's evangelical dog whistles, and an update on the South Dakota Birth Control Protection Act.

Stephen Colbert now moved to my number one spot of celebrity crushes. And it was this that did it—a clip of Colbert trying to talk a lobbyist from the Human Rights Campaign into being straight.

  • insert Stephen Colbert

Let me assure you, the look on the guy's face when Colbert says "vagina" is the funniest thing that's happened on TV since the writer's strike got underway.


Now that Huckabee is falling way behind in the Republican primaries, he's getting a little desperate, and has resorted to the only tactic he really seems to know how to employ, which is to thump the Bible even harder. He was bad about using coded terms that only make sense to the religious right before the primaries heated up, but now he seems to be talking only in arcane Biblical allusions. It may not be the best strategy for attracting votes, as NPR discovered, because no one can figure what he's talking about. Their reporter took a tape of Huckabee-isms to the Washington Monument and asked various tourists if they understood his allusions.

*insert huckabeeism 1*

Most people they asked didn't remember that the story was Jesus feeing a hungry crowd. Let me make it clear that they made sure to only ask self-identified Christians these questions.

The next clip was a quote of Huckabee claiming that he was a small stone, an allusion to the story of David killing Goliath in the Old Testament.

*insert huckabeeism 2*

Only one person got that one right. Here's the last one.

*insert huckabeeism 3*

Of course, all these rely on the King James translation of the Bible. NPR did find one woman who was able to grasp all these allusions, and she was a member of a born again mega-church. Clearly, this strategy of Huckabee's has a very limited reach.

I have to admit, I'm somewhat glad that Huckabee has switched to making Biblical allusions, because before he did this, it was mostly a bunch of dog whistles about how terrible it is that women have the right to abortion. They weren't even subtle dog whistles. Witness his victory speech after he won the Iowa primary.

*insert huckabee whistle 1*

And they're going to make sure you're producing that generation frequently with the full force of government making sure you don't have a choice.

It's nice to hear actual Biblical allusions, because in all the obsession over abortion and gay rights coming from the religious right, you're hearing something with only a tentative relationship to the Bible. Now, I'm not religious, but I do know a thing or two about what's actually in the Bible. So as a public service to you fine folks about there, a guide to how much the Bible dwells on those topics that the religious right dwells on.

*drum roll*

Mentions of abortion in the Bible: Zero!

Mentions of gay marriage in the Bible: Zero!

Mentions of the evils of birth control in the Bible: Zero!

Mentions of the evils of STD protection in the Bible: Zero!

Mentions of gay sex in the Bible: Well, there are a couple, but it's roughly the same number as instructions not to cut your hair and avoid eating shrimp. The importance of secluding women who are menstruating from the rest of the tribe is a big deal in the Old Testament, but you never hear much from the religious right on that one.

  • interview with marty klein

Now here's a story that really illustrates what Marty Klein is talking about in this week's interview. Two St. Louis teenagers had their freedom of speech violated by their junior high school, with the evil sex as the cover story to justify this unconstitutional oppression of student rights.

  • insert st. louis teens 1

It's interesting to me that the shirts that caused the fuss weren't anti-abstinence. The shirts didn't say "Every day is hump day" or "Everyone get to fornicating". The shirts had a straightforward health-based message—if you can't use a condom, don't do it at all. What this affirms to me is not that abstinence-only is about health or even really so much about abstinence. It's about a deeper anti-contraception agenda. The counter message to the shirts is, in essence, don't do it but if you do, for god's sake don't protect yourself. You deserve to suffer for being a sinner.

  • insert st. louis teens 2

The ACLU and other civil liberties organizations probably don't have the resources to take this case on, which is too bad, because I think the girls have cause for action. It seems to me that the precedent on this case would be the 1969 Supreme Court decision on Tinker v Des Moines Schools. The majority found in a 7-2 decision that the disruption excuse, which this principal uses here, doesn't give the school a right to shut down symbolic protests by the students. At issue was high school students who were suspended for wearing black armbands protesting the Vietnam War and calling for peace.

The court found students had a right to engage in political protest in school, so long as the protest was what they called pure speech, instead of genuinely disruptive behavior. What was permitted, and I quote the decision, is "silent, passive expression of opinion, unaccompanied by any disorder or disturbance on the part of petitioners." Describes this situation to a T.

So what the school did is not only wrong, but blatantly illegal. Now, our courts are more conservative than they were in the 60s, but I don't think Tinker really stands a chance of something like a reversal.

CNN gets a parent perspective.

  • insert st. louis teens 3

I'm glad he supports the message of the shirts, because it's the right message. But even if it was not a good message, the shirts should be protected as a matter of free speech. Getting back to the interview earlier, this is how the state starts to chip away at your rights. The sex paranoia that justified suspending these girls gave cover to what was essentially an illegitimate power grab by school official.

Now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts. First, a bit of follow-up on last week's show, which mentioned the birth control protection bill in South Dakota that legislators were avoiding addressing. Well, they finally sucked it up and dealt with it, by refusing to pass it.

In honor of this blatant demonstration that they're basically trying to ban sex for pleasure, here's a clip from the American Life League explaining just that. The host shows a bunch of clips from kicky fun Planned Parenthood ads that commit the grave sin of admitting that contraception is generally used for sex.

  • insert planned parenthood is for sex

Reminder: Planned Parenthood is a non-profit. They are not a business. Therefore, they are not selling sex to make money. But I like this clip because it's so blatant about the anti-choice agenda. He's angry because Planned Parenthood makes it possible for other people to have sex for fun, full stop.

This ad is doing exactly what they accuse Planned Parenthood of doing—using salacious images to raise money. Planned Parenthood wants you to protect yourself, but American Life League wants your money to strip you of basic rights. I don't think I should have to defend Planned Parenthood for being upfront about the fact that you use a condom during sexual intercourse, but if they hinted around about it, they'd never be able to reach a young audience that's bombarded day in and day out with sexual imagery.

Follow Amanda Marcotte on twitter: @amandamarcotte

  • invalid-0

    I think you made a good point about “biblical” injunctions against human behavior, particularly gay sex. We don’t keep kosher laws (at least most modern evangelicals don’t, nor do we make amends for various sins by sacrificing pigeons at the Temple) and we shouldn’t goof around giving greater sin weight to homosexual sex than we do to, say, heterosexual sex out of wedlock. Still, it’s ingenuous not to acknowledge that the stricture against abortion is rooted in “thou shalt not kill.” There are plenty of arguments to be made about what’s being killed and when, and whose rights take priority, but it’s unfair to pretend that there is no biblical jumping-off point for pro-life views.

    Thank you for raising the thing with the t-shirts. I wish I’d thought of that in high school instead of writing it on school property like desks and bathroom walls.

  • invalid-0

    There’s also this thing I’m having trouble with: I could have sworn that Jesus was the new Covenant, rendering the old one and all it’s laws irrelevant for followers of Jesus. Essentially, that the Old Testament is just there for background or something.

    However, I think I might be wrong. This was my understanding for a while, and recently I heard something that says otherwise.

    But then again, there’s heretics like Marcion who think that the OT and NT have utterly separate gods.

    …Anyway, if it is true, then Christians no longer have a real Biblical argument against homosexuality, except maybe for some of Paul’s statements. But Paul is also where most of the little details came from: Jesus gave the big picture and Paul did the Q&A after – and for an entirely different audience.

  • invalid-0

    Thank you Amanda, I appreciate your writing here and Pandagon.

    As a born again Christian, I could not buy in to the anti-abortion issue that was adopted in the late 70s (not adopted immediately after Roe v Wade as some suggest), nor the gay issue.

    With Old Testament scripture assigning a lesser value to the fetus, condemning a pregnant woman to death, the woman’s penalty for an affair, and the diverse historical treatment of abortion by Christians – I had a hard time buying into the anti-abortion view. For the gay issue, I also do not see how these are elevated above other issues that are no longer adhered to today.

    Jesus himself never said anything about abortion or gay marriage, even though they were known in his time.

  • invalid-0

    I meant to say ‘…gays, even though they were known in his time.’

  • invalid-0

    You say that the students have a right to free speech in wearing those shirts, but you mistakenly assume that the Roberts Court actually cares about free speech.

    “Bong hits for Jesus,” anyone?