Megafaun's "Carolina Days" -- A Faux History of Raleigh's Creation

Raleigh's own Megafaun have released a new video for "Carolina Days," from the Heretofore EP. The video features an irresistible reinterpretation of the creation of the City of Oaks, starring God, tobacco, and funny underwear.

'Storm': Tim Minchin's Pro-Science Animated Short

A wonderful animation set to Tim Minchin's poem, "Storm," an ode to science, skepticism, and critical thinking.  It's also quite funny.


Westboro Baptist Church's Latest: 25 Minutes of Hate

The Westboro Baptist Church has released a 25-minute, profanity- and slur-filled "spoof" of the NoH8 Campaign. The video also serves as a Westboro FAQ, describing their interpretations of scripture.  It's also a total freak show.

Warning: profanity and extreme ignorance.

Court Rules Wal-Mart Legally Justified In Firing Anti-Gay Religious Bigot

The religious discrimination provisions of the 1964 Civil Rights Act do not include the right to harass co-workers with anti-gay religious tirades, according to a federal appeals court in Chicago.

Via Gay City News:

According to the unsigned ruling, Tanisha Matthews, who describes herself as an Apostolic Christian, worked as an overnight stocker at a Wal-Mart store in Joliet, Illinois. While on a break, she took part in a heated conversation with other employees about God and homosexuality.

Another employee who participated reported to management that Matthews was "screaming over her" that God does not accept gays, they should not "be on earth," and they will "go to hell" because they are not "right in the head." During a company investigation of the incident, five other employees confirmed that Matthews said gays are sinners who are going to hell.

The ruling made it clear that one's rights to religious freedom stop at the moment that a workplace becomes a hostile environment for an employee:

The appeals court ruling stated, "If Matthews is arguing that Wal-Mart must permit her to admonish gays at work to accommodate her religion, the claim fails." The court pointed out, "Wal-Mart fired her because she violated company policy when she harassed a co-worker, not because of her beliefs, and employers need not relieve workers from complying with neutral workplace rules as a religious accommodation if it would create an undue hardship. In this case, such an accommodation would place Wal-Mart on the 'razor's edge' of liability by exposing it to claims of permitting work-place harassment."

Many anti-gay religious groups believe that such rulings, as well as hate crime legislation, infringe on their right to speak of their beliefs, which might include judgment on the LGBT population. Some have gone so far as to state that clergy could be arrested for such remarks made from the church pulpit.  Which is nothing more than hysteria.

If anything, the ruling should make it clear that no one is prohibited from holding or sharing such beliefs -- as long as it's in the appropriate setting. Like, for instance, church.  


Reluctantly In Defense of Terry Jones

The Terry Jones Quran-burning flap certainly has ignited fierce discussion across the globe. Jones, who burned the Quran after a mock trial in which he declared the book to be guilty of crimes against humanity, is receiving his fair share of criticism -- and death threats (the FBI states that Hezbollah has a $2.4 million bounty on his head.)

While I have no lack of concern for our men and women serving in the Middle East, I don't quite agree with those who are blaming Jones for the brutal deaths of Americans. Is Terry Jones ignorant? Yes. Is he needlessly fanning the flames of anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world? Yes. Is he a hate-monger on par with Reverend Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church? Without a doubt.

All that being said, we can choose to blame the beheadings of American citizens on a man who set fire to a book, or we can blame those who did the beheading.

Terry Jones is clearly a man who does not understand (or does not care) that our free speech comes at a cost. "With freedom comes responsibility," and all that.

These beheadings were the result of religious fanaticism and scriptural literalism. If Terry Jones had drawn a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad, and had he not already shown his colors as a religious extremist himself, Americans would be supporting him in droves.

There are two lessons to learn here. One is that although we enjoy freedom of speech, we need to understand that our actions have consequences. The other is that we have to stop accepting that people will behead other people for disrespecting their religious beliefs.

Terry Jones is a grade-A douchebag. But sometimes it takes a douchebag to remind us that we should never comprimise our freedom. It took a juvenile cartoon in Larry Flynt's Hustler Magazine to remind us that free speech includes the right to be distasteful and offensive. Granted, nobody died as a result of that cartoon. But had Southern Baptists become so enraged as to behead readers of pornography, would the correct response be to jail the cartoonist?

If, as a result of the violent response to the Quran burning, we limit what we can and cannot say about religion, we become less free as a society. (Obviously, hate speech is another matter.)

It is insensitive, ignorant and stupid to do what Terry Jones did. But it is completely and utterly insane to take an innocent human being's head off because someone else did something offensive.

Unfortunately, until people can get their heads out of the Bronze Age, people will be willing to kill other people due to religious beliefs. But by accepting that people will die for offending religious beliefs, we are complicit in impeding the progress necessary to eliminate such needless bloodshed.