SB 2681, again. Discrimination back on the table. (With only 13 minutes to spare).

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Remember that Mississippi Senate Bill I spent a whole week stirring up outrage against? The one that so many people opposed, the MS House of Representatives was afraid to just go ahead and pass it on the floor? The one they amended to create a study committee? Well, I have no idea what the status of the study committee is in the bill that was filed at 7:47 tonight (the deadline was 8 p.m.). But look at what’s going back to both chambers for an up-or-down vote, and thanks to our friends at Deep South Progressive for telling us something the local news might not mention at all.

Section 1 of the bill says, “Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, except as provided in paragraph (b) of this subsection.”

In practical terms, for example, that would mean that a hotel or restaurant owner could refuse service to gay customers while claiming “exercise of religion” and government would have no recourse.

New to the bill is this, found in lines 16-18 of Section 1:

(b) Laws “neutral” toward religion may burden religious exercise as surely as laws intended to interfere with religious exercise; (c) Government should not substantially burden religious exercise without compelling justification;

The target of this section seems to make it clear that the bill is meant to reach far beyond just attacking LGBT rights. In fact, it seems to hint at a case before the Supreme Court right now, Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby. In what could prove to be a landmark decision, the Supreme Court will decide whether or not corporations can refuse to provide female employees healthcare that includes birth control on the basis of religious belief (and thus whether or not corporations are people with all the rights people enjoy – including free exercise of religion).

The requirement that all healthcare plans include birth control for women may be one of those “neutral” laws that SB 2681 now mocks with quotation marks. This bill would make it clear that employers in Mississippi can refuse to comply with laws that don’t like on religious grounds. So if an employer who happens to be a Jehova’s Witness wants to deny employees access to healthcare that includes blood transfusions (which Jehova’s Witnesses are religiously opposed to), the government would have to provide a compelling justification before “interfering with” the employer’s “free exercise.”

If both houses agree to this travesty, it will land on the governor’s desk, and he will sign it. And since the senate’s already let us know how they feel, it’s time to contact your State Representative.

The towns that support Mississippi’s three largest state universities have all passed non-discrimination ordinances to ensure equality for LGBTQ Mississippians. This is about overturning those ordinances, and preempting other cities who are thinking about doing the same. Pure and simple.

Mississippi said no to this, State Legislature. This is not what we want. Get that through your thick skulls and move on. We want you to spend your time figuring out how to make the rest of us less poor, not overturning city ordinances we agree with.

Now I’ll say one more thing. Because if I can’t say this, what good is this blog? If you live in Wayne County, or Lamar County, and you are hanging your head in shame right now, you be sure you thank the Hon. Phillip Gandy and the Hon. Joey Fillingane for this disgrace. Their signatures are both on the conference report, and if it weren’t for them, the senate probably never would have taken up this bill to begin with.

 Note: Just found this out tonight. I’ll have more as I receive it. The ACLU and other organizations will have statements, and there will be a date and time for the vote. But do go ahead and scream at your representative, and if your senator’s name is on the conference report, find a way to let him know he just lost a registered voter forever. Gandy and Fillingane both represent counties where we have a lot of connections, and it doesn’t take that many votes to swing a state senate race. If you’re reading this and live in Mississippi, go take a look at your Facebook network and think about that for a minute.

Image via Campaign for Southern Equality on Facebook.

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The Time Lord Victorious

by William Hohmeister

Confession time: I like Doctor Who, and I don’t want to claim something about the show that doesn’t help us understand the story. I think the writers intended to use the myth to drive their story, and that it made both the character and the story more understandable. I wasn’t just trying to seem clever when I (possibly mis-) quoted Mark Twain; if the Doctor needs saving, what does that say for the myth of the devil?

Time_Lord_Victorious_by_Anji_was_here

Satan and the Doctor rebel against authority, and each story uses rebellion as a motivation and a result. But I want to be clear: when I say rebellion, I do not mean the Fall. The characters rebel because of their personalities, and the rebellion leads to the possibility of a Fall. What separates them – why I think the use of this myth in Doctor Who is important – is that while both rebel, only one Falls*.

I need to start with the Daleks. Hannah asked on my last article if the Daleks could be read as angels. She has the right of it. Gene’O correctly said that the comparison has problems, as Satan is an angel, but the Doctor is not a Dalek. Though the Doctor fights against the Daleks as Satan fought the other angels, he does so alone and as a separate species. There is no betrayal in the conflict, as there was in Satan’s fight.

Angels and Daleks are similar because they represent the infallibility of another power. I wrote that both devil and Doctor are dependent on the myth of their own infallibility. God and Time knock this myth down. The angels (and Christ) represent god’s undefeatable power in Paradise Lost. As soon as Christ takes the field, the battle is over. Satan falls into hell.

The Doctor faces the Daleks five times in the first four seasons, and each time he cannot face them directly. The Daleks stand out as the enemy the Doctor fears and hates above all others. I listed three of their appearances in my last article, but here is each episode that features them:

“Dalek”

“The Parting of the Ways”

“Doomsday”

“Daleks in Manhattan”

“Journey’s End”

Each time, the Doctor loses something, and these losses mean more to him than the victories. The Doctor cannot recover these losses; once they’re gone they are gone forever. The real enemy is Time. A madman with a box that’s a time machine has only one real enemy: the laws of Time he cannot break, as Satan could not break the law of God’s infallibility.

These laws are also the source of each character’s rebellion. Satan betrays his fellow angels, but rebels against the belief that defined his character before the rebellion: that God is infallible. Satan takes up infallibility for his own use.

The Doctor is open to almost anything. He rarely says anything is impossible, and the Daleks are one of the few enemies he shows fear of directly. He clearly thinks anything can be overcome. But in “The Satan Pit” we see another side of the Doctor:

“Is that your religion?” These four words set the stage for “Waters of Mars” and the Doctor’s rebellion.

The Doctor also believes in fixed points in time, which are events that can never be changed. What these are varies, and there is not a hard and fast rule for determining one. The safe rule is, if you’re not sure, best not to meddle. In “Waters of Mars” the Doctor encounters a known fixed point in which people must die. He tells the people destined to die this. He leaves. The last few crew of a scientific outpost on Mars are about to die. And the Doctor comes back to save them.

It’s a hugely important moment, because of the Doctor’s character and the story up to that point. The Doctor believes in the laws of Time. They are the closest to a religion he comes. But the story has been pushing him away, pushing him to rebel. Both the Doctor and Satan come to believe that the power which resides in each character belongs to them by right, rather than being granted by another, higher authority.

“Daleks in Manhattan” has a goofy title, but the Doctor says an important line in it: “They always survive while I lose everything.” He refers to the Daleks, who have reappeared after being killed off entirely twice before this. By rebelling against the laws of Time, the Doctor claims them, as Satan claimed god’s infallibility. He places himself above them, as the “Time Lord Victorious”. Like Satan, he thinks this will make him greater than any other creature. If the laws of Time obey him, the Doctor is greater than even the Daleks. They will never be able to hurt anyone again.

And like Satan, the Doctor loses his rebellion. He saves the crew, but one – the most important, and the person he really wanted to save – kills herself to prevent the Doctor from controlling everything. She claims the Doctor can’t have the power to choose who lives and who dies.

I think she’s right. Like Satan, the Doctor gained his power through a higher authority. Unlike Satan, with the exception of the Daleks, the Doctor has almost no one to stop him from succeeding. He refers to the rest of the crew as “little people.” It makes me wonder about Satan’s view of humans. At first he sees Adam and Eve as beautiful and laments his decision to drag them down as well. When does that change? Why do both characters come to see humans as a means to an end?

*This is part of my belief that a myth can become stronger than the story which spawned it. Satan as a myth existed before Paradise Lost, but Milton wrote the story that combined most of the myths about the character and story in one place, which helped to spread a new myth. Milton’s myth is both stronger and more comprehensive that what came before.

Over time ,the myth-Satan created in part by this story has changed into a more sympathetic character than Milton ever intended. Because of this, the myth-Satan I’m comparing the Doctor to does not completely match Satan in Paradise Lost. He actually has more in common with the Satan characters from the Lucifer comics and the Midnight Nation graphic novel, both of whom are based on Paradise Lost.

image: We can’t make out the artist’s last name on the signature, nor find it anywhere else online, but it’s too beautiful not to share. We’ll credit or replace it if we happen to hear from the artist. via fc05/Deviant Art

April Plans, and Preview for the Week

First, a couple of things.

@tripghetaway has set up a Thunderclap for his Project Marijuana indiegogo campaign. He wants to make a documentary about legalization, and I’m supporting him. I have an explainer for Thunderclap if you’re interested.

A big thanks to Comparative Geeks for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award. This is one of my favorite awards, and I’m thrilled to have received it from them. CompGeeks is the first WordPress blog I commented on back in November, and they left a comment here wishing us good luck on day 1. Since we’re still talking, I say we’re friends. If you’re looking for some good blogs to follow, you should check out their other nominations. I follow many of them already.

As I mentioned a couple of times this week, I almost withdrew from the A to Z Challenge. I changed my mind because @hohmeisw(Will) and @quaintjeremy have provided me with enough posts to update Monday-Thursday here for most of the next two weeks without writing a word. We’ll have a Doctor Who post this week and a comics extravaganza for the next little while. Here are my two top priorities:

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Destino: Where Are the Rock Goddesses?

That’s a very good question, and you can find a post here that discusses it. It  includes music videos and is loaded with links to metal and rock bands with female members.

Social media is a wild and crazy thing. I can’t remember how I discovered Destino, but it’s a blog I thoroughly enjoy. Its owner, @EvaDiva0516, is a great blogger to have as a tweep. Not long after we started tweeting together, the two of us managed to have a conversation with artist David Mack and I realized that in addition to music, photography, blogging, and humor, we share an interest in comics. That kind of made us buds. Her latest project is a blog carnival devoted to comics, and we’ll be submitting a lot of Jeremy’s work to it in the next week or so.

So, I was thrilled when Eva tweeted me that she was posting on a feminism-related topic. She was kind enough to drop me a link, so I figure the least I can do is encourage folks to read it.

Here’s a rock goddess for you: