Monday, March 17, 2014

The Imminent Absence of Gay-Rights Pioneer Fred Phelps

Apparently Fred Phelps of "God Hates Fags" infamy is on the edge of death, but his family can take comfort in his life's work as a strong (though inadvertent) promoter of gay rights. Seriously: I remember watching a documentary about him some years ago, before he was nationally famous (and, I think, before any state even recognized "civil unions," let alone "gay marriage") ... the Westboro Baptisters were holding one of their typical Tourette's-style insult-laden protests, and the documentary filmmakers were asking ordinary bystanders about it. One nearby driver watched the event as he sat in his car waiting for a traffic light to change, and when the documentarian asked him what he thought, he had a pained expression and said something like "Well, no, I don't exactly approve of homosexuality, but what THESE guys are doing ...." and I could almost see the little thought-wheels turning in his brain: "If these hateful idiots agree with me regarding sexuality, what  does that imply about my own attitudes ...."

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

The Sympathetic Magic Behind E-Cigarette Bans

Los Angeles has decided to ban e-cigarettes same way they ban regular cigarettes, and over at Consumer Affairs I discuss this and point out the similarities between e-cig opposition and the primitive belief in sympathetic magic: 

In modern American pop culture, the best-known example of sympathetic magic is found in voodoo-doll horror movies: “This doll looks just like you, so anything affecting the doll affects you too.” Western-literature majors or Old Testament scholars might also be familiar with the alleged healing or fertility powers of mandrake root — the roots of a mandrake plant often branch out to look somewhat like a four-limbed human figure, ergo the believers in sympathetic magic thought: “Since it looks like people, it must have power over people!”

And belief in sympathetic magic appears to be enjoying a renaissance among those who oppose “e-cigarettes” or “e-cigs,” basically on the grounds that a battery-operated metal tube emitting water vapor looks like a burning tobacco cigarette emitting cancerous smoke, ergo it must have the same disease-inducing power as said tobacco cigarette, right?

The full article is here
FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from