Why did you tell us if we were never supposed to believe it?

It’s been hard watching so many disparate parts of my past that I’d hoped would remain in the past intersect over the last few weeks as the Roy Moore story unfolded. Harder than I thought it would be. Aside from dredging up everything about courtship culture and then watching as sites like The Federalist proved my point and started arguing that child marriage was fine, I’ve also gotten to watch as the Operation Rescue/Operation Save America crowd is running around Alabama defending Roy Moore. My time with Operation Rescue is still one of the parts of my past that I have a hard time writing about, and while I’ve been talking about it more since the presidential election, it hasn’t gotten easier. I’ve spoken up about what I lived through in the ‘90s because it’s important to understand the past if people are going to figure out how to resist the religious right and the Trump administration, but rehashing the past when you’re still feeling your way forward is exhausting. That all of this is going down in Alabama, a state where I was arrested with Operation Rescue when I was 13, just adds to the emotions.

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Guilt By Association: The Injunction Hearing

Well kids, this week’s installment is at the end of the week instead of the beginning because my body decided that having a food allergy attack so I had to be doped up on Benadryl was a good way to keep me away from this barely readable novel. As I keep mentioning by calling our hero lawyer variations on, “Author Avatar Peter,” the character is a pretty obvious self-insert author avatar, down to the character matching an idealized depiction of his physical characteristics, and while Farris has mixed some things up so it’s not a one-to-one match, he’s not a good enough writer that it’s not obvious that he sees the character as an especially heroic version of himself. It’s time to soldier on, because as unreadable as this book is, it’s a glimpse into the mind of Michael Farris and this stuff needs to be documented so it’s out there.

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Guilt By Association: The series returns

It’s time to dust the series off because in the intervening two years the changes in the political climate and Michael Farris’s recent hire as president of Alliance Defending Freedom makes this especially relevant. When I started writing this series in 2015, it was an experiment in the serial book review format, and the book was only relevant to a small niche of people researching the religious right and the Christian homeschool movement. Today, Michael Farris is no longer the fringe religious right figure who I used to describe as the most influential man in the religious right that no one ever heard of […]

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Election Thoughts

I haven’t blogged lately because I’ve been too busy trying to win the election to write about it, but I wanted to share a few thoughts in advance of election day. I’ve been becoming increasingly frustrated with single issue anti-abortion voters who are either voting Trump or refusing to vote for Clinton because of abortion. When you declare that is the one and only issue you consider, you’re telling me that my life doesn’t matter to you. I’m not talking about my life in some sort of existential, quality of life sense, I’m talking about me not being dead. The rise of Donald Trump has unleashed violence against every marginalized group in this country. This didn’t make the news because the victim didn’t want to go public, but last Friday a man was gaybashed by Trump supporters in downtown Sarasota. They told him in a gay slur-laden rant that when Trump is president, people like him will be illegal and have to go away. I’m scared of what will happen if Trump becomes president and the people who are resorting to violence now believe that they have the support of the nation. I’m afraid for my own life, I’m afraid for my friends’ lives, and in the moments when I’m not busy distracting myself by doing everything I can to make sure the unthinkable doesn’t come true, it starts becoming overwhelming. When you refuse to vote for Hillary because of her position on abortion, even knowing that abortion rates fall under pro-choice Democrats and increase under “pro-life” Republicans, you’re telling me that you care more about maintaining ideological purity than people’s lives. You make me feel like my actual life right here in front of you is meaningless to you and that I’m disposable. But hey, the evangelical world wants[…]

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What happens after Colorado Springs?

You may think Planned Parenthood is wrong, you may think they’re immoral. Dehumanizing their employees, which is something I’ve been seeing a lot of on social media over the last few months, helps fuel violence like the kind that happened today. I haven’t said a lot on social media about the Planned Parenthood videos and the associated reactions other than to point out that one of the board members of the group that released the heavily edited videos is a bona fide terror group leader closely associated with the man who murdered George Tiller. My general silence on the matter aside, I’ve been worried for the last few months because the tenor of the rhetoric, both from the chattering class and Republican politicians, reminded me eerily of the talk I heard in the months leading up to David Gunn’s murder in Pensacola. There are times I hate being right and this is one of them. We saw today what happened because people who should have known better were more interested in playing with fire and amping up the rhetoric in hopes of defunding Planned Parenthood than they were about the consequences. The last go round in the ‘90s, what happened next was a mix of halfhearted denunciations, insistence that “most” pro-lifers were peaceful, and a whole lot of debate that played out in living rooms, churches, and the pages of Life Advocate Magazine arguing back and forth about the theological and ethical merits of a philosophy of justifiable homicide. It was a debate that shouldn’t have happened at all and went on for far too long before Flip Benham pulled a power play and marginalized the justifiable homicide proponents. Meanwhile, the debate and the dillydallying successfully legitimized the justifiable homicide camp as holding a valid position worthy of debate. The[…]

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Guilt By Association: You got served

Chapter Six take one | Main | Chapter Seven Last time we ended with me urging Suzie to run as far and as fast as she could away from the rest of our Merry Band of Protesters before they destroyed her life. This being a novel written by Michael Farris instead of me, of course that didn’t happen. Instead, Suzie triumphantly goes to call Author Avatar Peter Barron for help. Saintly Mom Gwen, now Gwen Barron, takes the call and seems utterly surprised that Suzie might call her from the other side of the state. Naturally, Gwen thinks Suzie must be joking when she says she’s being sued for a million dollars. Let’s think about this a minute Gwen. You’re surprised to get a phone call from Suzie since she’s off in Bellingham, suggesting that Suzie must not call them up on the random while she’s at school. That’s a pretty big hint that if she’s making a long distance call on a Saturday morning it must be something important. So of course the appropriate reaction is to ask if it’s a joke. Oh well, Gwen is the one who almost kidnapped her kid out of foster care in the last book, no one ever accused her of having common sense. Poor Suzie almost starts crying, wondering, “Why won’t anyone believe me this morning?” Move far, far away from all of these people and change your name, Suzie, it’s for the best. Aaaaaaand, of course the conversation with Author Avatar Peter gets passed off to the Creepy Colonel Control Freak and Pastor Randy Wallace while the women wait in the other room. Couldn’t possibly have the women contribute to their own defense, nope, that’s men’s work. By the way, anybody think it’s the least bit odd that Suzie is getting sued[…]

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Guilt By Association: Here comes the lawsuit

Interlude | Main | Chapter Six take two Hello my pretties, are you ready to find out what happens next with our Merry Band of Protesters? I can’t wait! Remember last time we were left with Vince, who really needs to grow a mustache so he can start twirling it, and Rhonda meeting with the clinic owners and their lawyers in LA to plot out a lawsuit against our poor innocent protesters who have never done anything wrong (except of course for the time that random college student protester tried to punch a guy, but we’ll ignore that because he was egged on by Stephen Vince). I still don’t think a name partner at a major law firm would go along with knowingly submitting a doctored tape in to evidence, but whatevs. Creepy Colonel Control Freak is mad, very mad. He’s being sued in federal court, even after all of his control freak efforts to make sure the protesters behaved. While he’s busy storming about the room, poor little Suzie is sitting quivering in fear over the lawsuit. “She was being sued in federal court–one million dollars plus attorney fees. Suzie O’Dell, college sophomore and mobster.” The mobster thing must mean this is a RICO action, so I’m super stoked because I know all about the controlling legal precedent. I researched NOW v. Scheidler back when I was writing a paper on everyone’s favorite masked internet vigilantes, Anonymous. We shall see whether Michael Farris knows what he’s talking about with RICO and it will be splendid. Creepy Colonel Control Freak is still ranting and raving. “I will have this lawyer’s license. He has to know all this is a wicked sham. These people have no shame, no, shame!” The colonel’s voice echoed down the hallway. “How can these people say these things?”[…]

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Guilt By Association: Our Merry Band of Protesters demonstrates that they’re The World’s Most Naive Activists

Chapter Three | Main | Chapter Five — Welp, I made the mistake of trying to knock out a few days worth of posts in one day, and after taking a break to watch Agents of Shield (if you’re not watching it yet, seriously do, it’s getting really good), I decided to power on to chapter four. I now remember why livetweeting Anonymous Tip over the course of a few days was such a chore. Michael Farris’ writing style can best be described as, “trying to write a novel like it’s a legal brief.” The whole thing is stilted and not at all like people actually talk in real life. I’m pretty sure my middle school attempt at Hardy Boys fan fiction was more true to life, and that story included the Hardy Boys thinking someone was trying to sell them weed when they were really being offered “pizza hash,” a delicious pizza with a bunch of random toppings (I’m only just now realizing that sounds like excellent stoner food). Enough about my Hardy Boys fanfic though, on to the story. The first part of the chapter is rather dull, blah blah, detailed description of the outside of Creepy Colonel’s house, blah blah, Suzie likes to show up early for their pro-life meetings because she likes being in a real home instead of her heathen coed dorm, blah blah, Suzie is super polite, blah blah, I’m putting myself to sleep just typing it out. Also, college is the farthest away from home Suzie has ever been, even though it’s only 360 miles. Oh, and Shirley Alper rode there with Pastor Randy Wallace because she doesn’t like driving at night, apparently because she’s sixty-five going on ninety. I continue to hold fast to my assertion that Colonel Danners is creepy, he just[…]

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Guilt By Association: Volvo-driving Doctor Rhonda’s backstory

Chapter Two | Main | Chapter Four — Well kiddies, today we get to meet the Volvo-driving Dr. Rhonda Marsano, abortionist at the wordily named Whatcom Women’s Center For Choice. I can’t wait! Hmm, this doesn’t bode well for our Volvo-driving doctor, Farris is humanizing her. I mean, it could be possible that he suddenly learned how to write well-rounded characters instead of cookie cutter villains, but the first two chapters haven’t really supported that theory. However, killing her off in a fire as punishment for selling out and going to work at an abortion clinic sounds about right. We shall soon see. Anyway, Volvo-driving Dr. Rhonda grew up in a New York City bedroom community in New Jersey, to an NBC accountant father and part-time Rutgers librarian mother. Italian Catholics, because we’ve got to introduce tension and the idea that she should have known better. As I said though, it seems like Farris is trying to humanize her, so maybe this is just his attempt at sketching out backstory. Adding to the idea that we’re at least somewhat supposed to sympathize with Rhonda is the information that her father died during the last part of her senior year and her mother had to struggle to help her finish school. This part confuses me because her college should have been paid for through the end of the semester, it’s not like universities operate on the installment plan (as nice as that idea is). In any case, because of her father’s death, Rhonda isn’t going to be able to go to medical school. Again, I’m a bit confused, I know PHC doesn’t take federal monies, but doesn’t Farris know about student loans? It’s not like her parents would be able to finance med school on an accountant and a part-time librarian’s salary[…]

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Guilt By Association: Meeting the Merry Band of Protesters

Chapter One | Main | Chapter Three Before I delve into the next chapter, I wanted to go into something I left out of my review of chapter one. One of the most frustrating things about Michael Farris’ writing is his propensity to write scenes where we, the readers, are supposed to empathize with his characters, but that end up making you dislike them. The first time I attempted to read Anonymous Tip, while I was in college, I gave up when Saintly Mom Gwen was contemplating kidnapping her daughter out of foster care and fleeing to Canada. We were supposed to feel for her and her distress about losing custody of her child, but all I got from it was that she was unhinged and there was no way I could root for her. When I finally managed to read all the way through, I ended up hating Saintly Mom Gwen and her entire family and wishing CPS would just take the poor kid away permanently before her bio family traumatized her for life. The paragraph I excerpted from the first chapter of Guilt By Association is another example of Farris making me dislike characters we’re supposed to like. Handsy Sidewalk Counselor Ginny and Creepy Colonel Danners are introduced to us as they’re invading a young woman’s personal space, with Ginny initiating physical contact without consent and Danners looming over the whole scene as an intimidating presence. These are people we’re supposed to like, and by page two I already want to get as far away from them as I can. That’s compounded by the part I didn’t mention last chapter where Creepy Colonel Danners puts a fatherly hand on Handsy Sidewalk Counselor Ginny’s shoulder, because well, none of these people respect personal space. Not to mention that from my[…]

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