Zach Weiner, Destroyer of Homophobes

By Phil Plait | February 4, 2011 10:31 am

My pal Zach Weiner is a good guy. Smart, funny, talented — and he draws Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, my favorite web comic bar none. And it’s that last bit which has elevated him into my exclusive pantheon of personal heroes. Let me tell you this tale (and you can read Zach’s version too).

On Thursday, he posted this cartoon:

Pretty funny, and like most of his stuff, also kinda true. What it isn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, is an endorsement of "traditional" modes of insemination, or an indictment of the homosexual lifestyle.

But that’s how the National Organization of Marriage interpreted it. This is a group that believes marriage should be between a man and a woman, and you can imagine how I feel about that. To give you an idea of how low this organization goes, I’ll remind you of this truly vile and despicable ad they put together a couple of years ago against gay marriage.

Yeah. So this group decided somehow that Zach’s cartoon supported their cause, and they used it on their site. Thing is, they hotlinked it: instead of grabbing the image and uploading it to their server, they linked it straight from Zach’s server. So whenever someone went to the NOM site, Zach’s server had to send the image. Hotlinking is a big net no-no; it puts the burden on the other person’s server (that they pay for, as well as for bandwidth, the amount of data sent), and is considered at the very least to be rude.

But from that group, which espouses hatred and inequality, it was far more than merely rude to Zach.

[UPDATE: My mistake: Zach doesn’t mind hotlinking his comics, so the above is incorrect. It was just, and justifiably, the intolerance and bigotry of NOM that prompted Zach’s following actions!]

So he decided to play a prank. He swapped out the cartoon image on his server with another one, so everyone who went to the NOM site saw this instead:

BRILLIANT! The rainbow flag is the symbol of equality and support for LGBT folks, and the quote is by a Founding Father, whose ideas routinely get mangled by narrow-minded ideologues.

Zach tweeted about it (and so did I), and minutes later so many people were clicking the link that the NOM site went down. This is a double win: people looking for support of their homophobia either couldn’t get it, or if they did they saw a message of support and freedom for LGBT people. Note that Zach could’ve replaced the cartoon with something mean, but he didn’t. He chose to deliver an even better message. As he put it:

There seems to be this idea out there that action through the Internet has no important effect. Even people I really respect, like Jon Stewart, promote this idea. Well, today, I probably got a message of equality to over 100,000 people, among them members of the other side. This generation fights in a new way, but we fight just as hard.

And that, dear friends, is why Zach Weiner is a personal hero of mine.


Related posts:

Critical thinking about personal beliefs
Being married in California
Comic Con 2: SMBC and me
Saturday morning breakfast pandering

Comments (122)

  1. Tim H

    Hotlinking may be rude, but appropriating the comic wholesale to their site could have been grounds for an expensive lawsuit. “Fair Use” is a legal gray area.

  2. Dan I.

    WARNING…WARNING…WARNING!

    Incoming sh!tstorm from the fundies!

    On a serious note, that is just awesome and the clever response from Zach makes it even better.

  3. Martha

    Brilliant! NOM has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. SLPC through lawsuits on behalf of victims of violence helped to bankrupt the ku klux kowards a few years ago. NOM is becoming more fanatical as they realize that the homophobes are losing the culture war. The days when people like those in NOM can limit or control the lives of gay people are over. I predict that gay marriage will be legal in all 50 states in my lifetime.

  4. Zach Weiner gets +10 Internets for that! Brilliant!

  5. Ray

    Mr Jefferson, what about women? Aren’t they created equal too? And how do you reconcile your ownership of slaves?

  6. I see you had the sense to put a copy of his carton on your server. ;-)

  7. Ray — yeah, yeah. History isn’t perfect. In the context of his day, Jefferson’s statement is a nice one. If somebody said it that way today, the context is different enough that they could be criticized for being sexist.

  8. Roger

    Thanks for spreading the news about this. Zach has become my newest Internet hero for pulling this off.

    And Ray, people will look back 200 years from now and wonder how Obama didn’t support gay marriage. Many things are rather situational with the time in which people live.

  9. NOM has since made their own copy of the comic and are hosting it themselves. As a result, the comic remains on their web site, the flag is gone and NOM gets to continue violating Zach’s copyright without consequence.

  10. strixus

    Actually, Jefferson himself was rather uncomfortable with the fact he owned slaves – he talks at length about the nature of slavery in some of his letters. He also talks at length about the role of women too. The man was rather progressive and quite radical for his time – I just wish more people gave him credit for that, rather than seeing only part of the picture. Unfortunately he was a product of of his time, and as Rob Knop said, history is never perfect.

  11. Nick

    @Martha
    I fully expect that gay marriage will be legalized across all of the states in the next 30-40 years. My only hope is that this is done through ballot measures and not forced upon people by the courts. While gay marriage may be legal in 5 states at the moment. There has never been a vote by the people to legalize it.

    It may be slower, but more good will be done by changing the hearts and minds of people, than simply changing the laws.

  12. mike

    I left feedback on their site:

    Hi,

    I’m so glad I found this site! My partner and I have wanted to get married for so long, but can’t.

    Now that there’s a group called Nation for Marriage, I’m sure that Steve and I will finally be able to get married.

    Keep up the good work!

  13. The Beer

    Great attitude and response from Zach! Change is slow so sometimes you need to plant the seeds, NOT relocate the tree!

    @ Ray #5: All heroes and wise men have their flaws:

    Martin Luther King was a philanderer
    Phil Plait hates Armegedon
    Lincoln would’ve kept slavery to keep the Union

    You sometimes have to weigh the bad with the good and appreciate the big wide grey area between the thin lines of black and white.

  14. OtherRob
  15. @Matthew

    Not only that, but the link that they have for “Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal” goes to a PDF of a screenshot of Zach’s page, not to the page itself. Guess they don’t understand the 8th commandment.

  16. Martha

    @ Nick. As Judge Walker pointed out in striking down Prop 8 the rights of citizens should not be the subject of popular votes. If interracial marriage had been on the ballot 45 years ago it might still be legal to deny marriage rights to interracial couples. Just a few months ago national polls began to show majority support for marriage equality in several states. Those polls show that younger voters especially are in favor of marriage equality. The future does not belong to opponents of gay marriage. There has been one state where civil unions were voted into law by a vote of the people. In 2oo9 Imitative 71 passed with 53% of the vote in the State of Washington. The proposal was refereed to as “the everything but marriage act.” Also in Washington DC where gay marriage is now legal there is an ordinance that says the rights of minorities cannot be placed on the ballot and that Constitutional rights are not a popularity contest. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected an attempt to have the issue challenged on the ballot and marriage equality stands in the nation’s capitol.

  17. NAW

    Odd, I just took it as an old people joke. Because most of us here are going to say one day “When I was your age we didn’t have the internet.”

    But yea, as long as your are happy and not being an arse to others live like you want to.

  18. Adrian Lopez

    @Nick

    “While gay marriage may be legal in 5 states at the moment, there has never been a vote by the people to legalize it.”

    Nor should there have to be. Equality under the law should be non-negotiable.

  19. “Thing is, they hotlinked it: instead of grabbing the image and uploading it to their server, they linked it straight from Zach’s server. So whenever someone went to the NOM site, Zach’s server had to send the image. Hotlinking is a big net no-no; it puts the burden on the other person’s server (that they pay for, as well as for bandwidth, the amount of data sent), and is considered at the very least to be rude.”

    Not true. In particular the SMBC page specifically asks to be hot linked by the following statement “Click here to put this comic in your blog/myspace/forum.” Upon clicking there are no text stating that only certain people can link to it, or that if the author does not like the web page in which the link occurs, for whatever reason, the author will feel free to substitute other content, probably content that is offensive to the readers. It is interesting to note that unlike XKCD, for example, SMBC does not provide a permanent link. Nor does it provide a link for requests for permissions. Therefore any reasonable web developer would assume that the hotlink is the preferred method of distribution.

    To be honest I don’t like what NOM does. I have written against them in many places. But, as science based individuals, what is right and what is wrong has to be based on what is observable, not what we feel. What is observable is that a group SMBC does not like linked to one of SMBC cartoons at the suggestion of SMBC. Rather than being mature, SMBC threw a temper tantrum and went to great effort to deface the NOM site. The child in me that dislikes NOM says ‘yeah’ but the mature person asks if this was the best response. Does it not reinforce the NOM belief that the scientist, the skeptics, the rational people who want everyone to have equal rights, are just selfish brats that are out of control and would do good with some harsh justice from the hands of the creator? Is that what we want to communicate to the conservatives that visit NOM. Wouldn’t it be better to use this to change the opinions on those who work for civil right.

    At the minimum I hope you use this a learning moment to educate everyone with a major web presence to remove invitations to hot link content unless they are willing to accept hot link from anyone, not just those they agree with. In fact, this can be a learning moment for all skeptics. That to be skeptics we much interact with the entire world, not just the agreeable. To any NOM supporters that might read this, not everyone who is ‘working against’ your agenda believes you are the enemy.

  20. Tim H:

    Hotlinking may be rude, but appropriating the comic wholesale to their site could have been grounds for an expensive lawsuit. “Fair Use” is a legal gray area.

    Which is why I like what Phil does here. He takes part of the comic and places it on The Hive’s servers, and then says “click on it to get the whole thing”.

    (Of course, in this instance, the comic was only one frame, so he had to use it all.)

  21. Hanna

    I don’t mind the gay marraige agenda, but I resent the fact that gays have turned the rainbow in to a political statement. Most flags only steal two or three color combinations, this one stole the whole pie.

  22. Nick (#12):

    My only hope is that this is done through ballot measures and not forced upon people by the courts. While gay marriage may be legal in 5 states at the moment. There has never been a vote by the people to legalize it.

    Nit: The courts don’t (and probably can’t) “force” gay marriage upon the people. The courts have merely ruled that, according to the laws of those states, it’s not illegal for two people of the same gender to marry each other. Or, that a law that was passed which did declare it illegal, was unconstitutional.

  23. NAW:

    Odd, I just took it as an old people joke. Because most of us here are going to say one day “When I was your age we didn’t have the internet.”

    In my day, we had to deliver bytes through 18 POTS links, upstream, 110BPS at a time, and half-duplex at that! And we were lucky to have it!

    Yes, I know that “110BPS at a time” doesn’t make sense. Deal with it. It’s a joke.

  24. lowt (21): thanks for the note; I fixed the text in my post.

    But I disagree with you. Certainly Zach lets people embed his comics, and even if he asks people that doesn’t mean he has to endorse everyone’s use of it. And I reject your characterization of this as a “temper tantrum”. It was nothing of the sort. It was a reasoned response to someone else’s repellent actions.

    You might be able to extrapolate this as a “slippery slope” to say that anyone who embeds Zach’s comics needs to be aware he might turn on them. That may very well be the case, but I don’t think you can just make that extrapolation and condemn it. Slippery slope accusations are themselves slippery slopes; at some point IMO there a time to draw a line. NOM is an awful, awful group, and it’s Zach’s right to rescind his invitation if he chooses to.

    There are times to take a stand. When something you’ve created as art is used to support intolerance, hatred, and bigotry, well then, that’s a really good time to stand.

  25. MartinM

    I fully expect that gay marriage will be legalized across all of the states in the next 30-40 years. My only hope is that this is done through ballot measures and not forced upon people by the courts. While gay marriage may be legal in 5 states at the moment. There has never been a vote by the people to legalize it.

    It may be slower, but more good will be done by changing the hearts and minds of people, than simply changing the laws.

    To add to Martha’s point that it’s not, in fact, true that “there has never been a vote by the people to legalize it”, last Monday, Illinois became the latest state to legalise civil unions, through a legislative act which had the support of the majority of the population.

    I’d also add that changing the laws is a way to change hearts and minds. Anti-gay bigots have been talking about gay marriage as if it would bring about the downfall of civilisation. In every state where gay marriage or civil unions have been legalised, people are now discovering that the bigots were lying, as life continues essentially unchanged for everyone, with the happy exception of those who are now finally permitted to marry the person they love.

  26. Unaspammer

    In my day, we had to deliver bytes through 18 POTS links, upstream, 110BPS at a time, and half-duplex at that! And we were lucky to have it!

    Ha, you whippersnappers had it easy! In my day, we had to encode the HTTP requests on punch cards and mail them to the server admins by carrier pigeon! The pigeon roost was 10 miles away and we had to walk there! Barefoot, in the snow! Uphill both ways!

  27. MartinM

    Slippery slope accusations are themselves slippery slopes; at some point IMO there a time to draw a line.

    Horizontally, I presume.

  28. mike

    Hmm, unless I’m mistaken, they’ve pulled the post entirely!

  29. nancyem

    @mike #13- I LOL’d ;-)

  30. @mike (#30)

    It does appear to be gone completely, now. Guess they’re fans of Ye Olde Memory Hole.

  31. TerryS.

    Thanks for pointing out this bigoted organization. It’s good to see; however, that for the ~1500 “likes” there are ~24000 ‘dislikes’. Their freedom of expression was given to them in the First Amendment, but they will deny it to all who don’t believe as they do.

  32. truthspeaker

    strixus Says:
    February 4th, 2011 at 10:58 am

    Actually, Jefferson himself was rather uncomfortable with the fact he owned slaves – he talks at length about the nature of slavery in some of his letters.

    Additonally, because he had trouble paying his bills, he couldn’t legally free his slaves. Since they were “property” with a monetary value, his creditors could have forced him to sell the slaves and use the proceeds to pay creditors instead.

  33. Rae

    Hanna (#23):

    You know, if you replace “gays” with “straights, and “rainbow” with “basic civil rights,” I couldn’t agree more.

  34. Steve

    “Marriage is about LOVE, not Gender” is pertinent and should be the main thrust of any argument for ALL marriages.

  35. Squidgirl

    There was never a vote by the people to end slavery, have women vote, integrate schools, or legalize interracial marriage, either. Know why? Because rights should not be determined by popular vote. It’s this funny idea we have, I know. That people should be treated equally even if a lot of other people don’t think they should and vote out of bigotry and bias.

    Sometimes you have to “force” it. If by force it you mean rely on the courts to do their job and declare things unconstitutional through weighing the facts, the law, and the Constitution. I doubt very much that anyone in this thread would want any of their civil rights determined by “the people”.

    As for that stealing the rainbow comment… I saw one in the sky 2 weeks ago… I guess molecules have a gay agenda.

  36. Daffy

    Homophobes are bigots. It’s that simple; they can dress it up in all the frilly, religious hoo ha, they want, but they still remain ignorant bigots.

    I have also noticed that the most vocal homophobes often are gay themselves. I don’t understand that, but I do know such self loathing is to be pitied.

  37. PayasYouStargaze

    Well done to Zach. I love his comics. Sadly, I can’t say I would have been so measured in my handling of the situation.

  38. Martha

    I think that before mid century this will be a settled issue and that same sex marriages will be just as common place as opposite sex marriages. Just as we look back to 1967 and wonder how they got away with outlawing interracial marriage people in 2040 will wonder why there was such a fuss over same sex marriage. And yes it is the same thing. Two human beings love each other and want their union to be recognized by society. Mildred Loving who with her white husband won the Supreme Court decision that struck down laws against interracial marriage definitely believes same sex marriage is the same issue:

    “My generation was bitterly divided over something that should have been so clear and right. The majority believed that what the judge said, that it was God’s plan to keep people apart, and that government should discriminate against people in love. But I have lived long enough now to see big changes. The older generation’s fears and prejudices have given way, and today’s young people realize that if someone loves someone, they have a right to marry.

    Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the ‘wrong kind of person’ for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people’s civil rights.

    I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight, seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mildred_and_Richard_Loving

  39. J.J.E.

    @ Phil

    You might want to unstrike this part of your post:

    “Thing is, they hotlinked it: instead of grabbing the image and uploading it to their server, they linked it straight from Zach’s server. So whenever someone went to the NOM site, Zach’s server had to send the image.”

    That’s accurate to my understanding.

    And you could even amend the next sentence as follows:

    “Hotlinking is usually a big net no-no; it puts the burden on the other person’s server (that they pay for, as well as for bandwidth, the amount of data sent), and is considered at the very least to be rude, though Zach himself doesn’t universally forbid this practice.

  40. Gary Ansorge

    36. Steve

    “Marriage is about LOVE, not Gender”

    ,,,or, to put it more succinctly, “Love knows no gender.”

    People who steal another persons creative efforts and then twist that effort to support their own agenda are both thieves and liars and should be treated as such under the law.

    12. Nick

    ” My only hope is that this is done through ballot measures and not forced upon people by the courts.”

    This is the major reason we have a tripartite system of governance, with power split between the executive, legislative and judicial. Whatever those first two branches do, the judicial branch has to decide if it’s legal, under our system of law and constitutionality.

    Thus, denying a right to ANY minority group has nothing to do with the popular will. It’s either legal or it isn’t and ONLY the courts can decide that.

    Gary 7

  41. gia

    That quote would’ve been nice if it didn’t imply that only HALF of the human population is created equal. Apparently those of us that aren’t men, be that gay or straight, are not worthy of equality, but that’s hardly any news.

  42. Daniel J. Andrews

    Hats off to Zach for going the classy route. Beautifully and sensitively done.

    Zach’s cartoon reminded me of a sci-fi novel I read many years ago. The main character, a highly trained soldier of some type, ends up quite a few years in the future (by choice, I think). As he trains and works alongside a new group of soldiers, he’s considered the pervert because he prefers to have sex with the opposite sex. The societal norm in that future is male and male, female and female partnerships, with procreation done externally in artificial wombs.

  43. Joseph G

    Kudos to them for going the classy route. I probably would’ve put the goatse.cx image up there, with a caption along the lines of “OH NOES!11 TIHS IS WAT HAPPEENS WEHN YOU GET TOOO GHEY!”

    Yeah, I’m immature, so sue me.

  44. Joseph G

    The truly awful part is that NOM has taken perhaps the best word in the English -er… lolspeak language and corrupted it. NOM should conjure up images of cookie monster and cute kitties!

  45. Joseph G

    @#37 Squidgirl: There was never a vote by the people to end slavery, have women vote, integrate schools, or legalize interracial marriage, either. Know why? Because rights should not be determined by popular vote. It’s this funny idea we have, I know. That people should be treated equally even if a lot of other people don’t think they should and vote out of bigotry and bias.
    Sometimes you have to “force” it. If by force it you mean rely on the courts to do their job and declare things unconstitutional through weighing the facts, the law, and the Constitution. I doubt very much that anyone in this thread would want any of their civil rights determined by “the people”.
    As for that stealing the rainbow comment… I saw one in the sky 2 weeks ago… I guess molecules have a gay agenda.

    Oh, there you go with your progressive liberal gay socialist communist fascist agenda, thinking that big government is the answer to everything. This is a Democracy, dammit! What I say goes! I mean, because I’m a voter, you know… Er… We should get to vote on everything! That’s why I belong to a homeowners association. One of the neighbors gets new rims for his car and it starts looking a little too Mexican-ish, boom, we vote ‘em out. That’s freedom!
    All this nonsense about the guv’ment coming in, without asking anyone, and giving people these so-called “rights” – that’s just plain un-American! First those socialist commies made us accept women voting (knowing full-well they’d all vote for the attractive hip young candidates, like this Hussein fellow!) THEN they try to shove healthcare down everyone’s throat, completely disregarding the citizenry’s right to get sick and die if they choose to… and now they want to force me to live in a topsy-turvy world where gay couples (whose combined income exceeds a certain federally mandated threshold) can qualify for extra itemized deductions on their yearly income taxes!
    It’s a madhouse! A MAAAAADHOOOUUUSE!

  46. Tensor

    @44Daniel. That was “The Forever War” by Joe Halderman

    @47 Joseph LOL

  47. Michael Swanson

    @44. Daniel J. Andrews

    “Zach’s cartoon reminded me of a sci-fi novel I read many years ago. The main character, a highly trained soldier of some type, ends up quite a few years in the future (by choice, I think). As he trains and works alongside a new group of soldiers, he’s considered the pervert because he prefers to have sex with the opposite sex. The societal norm in that future is male and male, female and female partnerships, with procreation done externally in artificial wombs.”

    Joe Haldeman’s “The Forever War”

  48. Odd, I just took it as an old people joke. Because most of us here are going to say one day “When I was your age we didn’t have the internet.”

    One day? I had that conversation with a co-worker this week. He couldn’t imagine a world without the Internet. He asked me how we did research for school reports. Going to the library seemed like some weird concept to him.

  49. C’mon, gia (#43)! While it is true that our society was male dominated in the time of Jefferson, the terms “men” and “mankind” were all-inclusive.

    But then, you knew that, right?

  50. Steve Metzler

    In my day, we had to deliver bytes through 18 POTS links, upstream, 110BPS at a time, and half-duplex at that! And we were lucky to have it.

    Aye, you were *lucky*. There were a hundred and fifty of us living in t’ shoebox in t’ middle o’ road.

    (hats off to Monty Python. Google ‘4 yorkshiremen’ if you don’t get the reference)

  51. juniper

    Actually,barber of civility, considering women could not own land nor vote and were regarded as property of their father or husbands at that time, #43 is completely correct in her statement.

  52. Two things:

    Thing 1: I wish one of these “defending marriage” folks would please point out the process by which my marriage can affect any other marriage, gay or straight, either weakening it or making it stronger. Honestly, what is the mechanism by which this occurs? Because my husband and I were legally married in Vancouver, B.C. about 6 years ago, and to listen to these people we must have been inflicting vast amounts of harm on every other married couple in the world. So, please, itemize the complaints and explain the connection, if you will.

    Thing 2: Watch this guy:

    www (dot) youtube (dot) com/watch?v=FSQQK2Vuf9Q

    Seriously. There has never been a more eloquent argument defending same-sex marriage (even though he’s only defending same sex domestic partnerships) than this young man gives in the Iowa state legislature. And this kid has more honest integrity and character in his little pinky than a dozen fundy marriage zealots have in their whole bodies.

  53. sHx

    @44Daniel
    @48Tensor

    I read The Forever War (1973) several years ago and I remember being surprised by that ‘perversion’, considering its time.

    A similar message of normality in future society was given in the first Star Trek movie, when they showed a few male crew members walking around in single piece dress/uniform that cut at knee-line.

    The future proved to be camp, but not that campy. :)

  54. @ sHx & Daniel & Tensor:

    In The Forever War, Haldeman’s hero actually experiences several shifts in societal attitudes toward sexuality. The homosexual era doesn’t last “forever,” but morphs into something else during the hero’s next deployment.

    This would be a valuable lesson for the people of NOM to consider, assuming they could actually think clearly.

  55. Kris

    “When something you’ve created as art is used to support intolerance, hatred, and bigotry, well then, that’s a really good time to stand.”

    No, Dr. Plait, it’s a really good time for you to finally get a clue.

    First of all, I had to look for the NOM page in question myself, because you didn’t bother to link to it directly. (Was it an ommission or fear that actually going to this website would irreversibly corrupt the souls of your readers? Never mind, it’s irrelevant). So if someone wants to know what kind of heinous crime has NOM done with the cartoon, have a look here (remove spaces): http: / / nomblog.com / 4183 /

    …That’s right. The offense NOM is guilty of (which has prompted SMBC to do a childish stunt that you apparently support) is posting a cartoon on their blog, with due attribution. That’s all.

    You are essentially arguing that SMBC is right to deny NOM the right to display the (intact, attributed) work, because the context in which the work is presented is inacceptable. Really? REALLY? Okay, take that: the logical conclusion of your argument is that Hoagland should be able to sue YOU, because your site debunking his ideas includes, verbatim, his diagram of the Cydonia geometry.

    Furthermore, your reasoning directly contradicts centuries of scientific development based on quoting and critically commenting other people’s ideas. What you are advocating here is basically a censorship, or, more exactly, imprimatur. As a practising scientist, I find your treatment of the matter completely unacceptable. Also, contrary to you, sir, I actually value freedom of speech. Because my bookshelf contains, inter alia, a copy of Orwell’s 1984, printed in 1986 (sic!) in an illegal, underground printing shop in Eastern Europe. Everyone involved in translation, edition, printing and distribution of this book risked imprisonment, only because the gang which happened to be running the country didn’t like the ideas which the book contained. From your post, you’re coming across as no better than these guys.

    And, while we’re at it, some commenters are already raising copyright issues, so let me deal with it as well: not really. Since the cartoon is attributed, it may be treated as a quote, which is covered under fair use. Although typically the quote only includes a part of the work, here, the work is short enough that it to be quoted in it’s entirety.

    Sure, SMBC is within their rights to do such childish stunts; they are even free to initiate a legal action against NOM for copyright violation. But something being legal doesn’t imply that it’s RIGHT.

    Respectful regards.

  56. Dark Jaguar

    About “hotlinking”, that hasn’t been a “net no-no” in almost a decade from where I’m sitting. Photobucket, Youtube, and countless other upload sites kinda sank that bit of “net manners” a long time ago. Bandwidth is downright huge these days. Generally, unless someone specifically requests that someone “not” hotlink a video or picture or whatever, it’s fair game so long as you tell everyone where it comes from.

    I remember how silly “hotlink” accusations became back then. It got so bad that putting in a direct link to a site’s news article was getting frowned upon, instead with demands you link only to their “home” page. Honestly it’s a silly thing to get concerned about. Traffic is traffic.

    To the person above me: Not exactly. While I don’t think hotlinking is in any way a form of stealing, in this case his comic is being used to support a message he doesn’t agree with. If he had demanded they remove his comic from their site with a cease and desist order, I might be on your side a bit. But, in this case, his own server was serving THAT web site, and it is perfectly legitimate to simply replace his own image with another one. That’s not destroying their site, that’s not attacking them, it’s not hacking or any such thing since it’s directly sourced from their site. He’s just making a statement rather simply. In no way is this “silencing” since they can easily just replace the image with one from their own server. His own server doesn’t have to support that message though, that’s it.

    Don’t make it out to be something it isn’t.

    I’ll say this though. It’s a little odd that a group can claim the refraction of light as their symbol. Not “offensive” mind you, I find it a fitting symbol of diversity, just amusing to me. It’d be like, say, atheists claiming hydrogen as their symbol.

  57. jaranath

    Kris:

    Perhaps in your universe all actions occur in a vacuum, completely severable from notions like intent and association. Sadly, no such vacuum exists in mine, and so artists continue to be annoyed when people they find icky interpret their work as supporting their ickiness.

    Zach Weiner fairly exploited an opportunity to defend his reputation and embarrass a bunch of bigots. That’s about as RIGHT as you can get.

  58. Kris

    “Zach Weiner fairly exploited an opportunity to defend his reputation”

    From where I sit, this is a cheap, childish, publicity stunt. Sure, I would be even capable of doing such a thing myself to someone I don’t like. But, again, that doesn’t mean such behavior is commendable.

    Also, you may be interested to learn, that a large part of the Internet runs on software directly descended from the code written by two gay gentelmen named Marshall Kirk McKusick and Eric P. Allman. However, I have never heard them using their position to even propose, let alone advocate, that we should cut off internet connectivity to groups like NOM. Unfortunately, once you put something up publicly, you have to live with the consequences. Which include it being used by people you don’t like. Adults, you know, just can deal with this.

  59. jaranath

    “From where I sit, this is a cheap, childish, publicity stunt.”

    Yes, I know. And you know where I think you sit. We’re talkin’ far…like Jamie Farr!

  60. Snowshoe the Canuck

    I thought the cartoon was an old-folk shot; ‘When I was your age Pluto was a planet’ sort of thing.

    The ad was uniformly bad: narrow-minded, discriminatory, fear mongering, full of out right (and I mean right-wing) lies, mistruths, bad writing, acting, directing, screenplay and music scoring. Can I nominate it for a raspberry award?

  61. PeteC

    Kris (61): Maybe, in a perfect world, Zach should have contacted Nom and explained his position. They of course, would have immediately removed the comic and published an apology and retraction in its place, explaining that Zach in no way supported them or their cause, and that the cartoon should not have been interpreted in the way that they were reading it, and, in fact, that the original artist rejected their views entirely.

    But I doubt that would have happened. If they really are so incredibly well-mannerly as to give time and effort, not to mention front page space, posting a retraction and apology even though it makes them and their cause look bad, then they probably wouldn’t be the group they are.

    Just sitting back and allowing one’s name and work to be associated with a position you find abhorent is not a good option. The other main option – reaching for the lawyers and muttering words like ‘defamation’ – isn’t necessarily better, though I suppose it’s less ‘childish’.

  62. The original comic reminds me of the bit in The Forever War where the main character is being called an “Old Queer” because of his odd preference for (potentially procreative) heterosexual sex, which the government had successfully stigmatized and virtually eliminated in all the time he’d spent near the speed of light.

    That was a great book for challenging assumptions.

  63. Kris said:

    Adults, you know, just can deal with this.

    The fact that so many adults “deal with this” by letting such actions slide is one of the reasons groups such as NOM can flourish. Bravo to Zach Weiner for standing up to b.s. like a true adult.

  64. shanemonkey

    Kudos for the fight. I think little will convince those hate groups of any reality or facts. Thanks Phil for the updates, including those that make you wrong…or unknowing. To find any truth, ya have to throw away what has been changed. Jefferson was a complicated character in so many ways. He had many faults. He was a human, a man of his time. He did manage to write some of our best ideals down. He did manage to dream of a better day. For that part of his person, I applaud. Jefferson did not know the impact of ideas that came about after his time. He only collected ideas around at his time. Forgive a human his weakness, when so much genius is evident.

  65. Nowhere Man

    @58, Kris:

    No, Dr. Plait, it’s a really good time for you to finally get a clue.

    There are better ways to start a mature dialog, methinks.

    First of all, I had to look for the NOM page in question myself, because you didn’t bother to link to it directly.

    Well, I’m glad you know about the google.

    Okay, take that: the logical conclusion of your argument is that Hoagland should be able to sue YOU, because your site debunking his ideas includes, verbatim, his diagram of the Cydonia geometry.

    First of all, where did Phil say, imply, suggest, or hint at a lawsuit?

    Second, there is such a thing as fair use. Now, what constitutes fair use is always subject to great debate (and lawsuits — and, btw, I Am Not A Lawyer), but it’s generally agreed that quoting limited amounts of material for critical analysis (as Phil did) falls under fair use. Taking someone’s artwork to support your own cause — without critical analysis — is far sketchier.

    Since the cartoon is attributed, it may be treated as a quote, which is covered under fair use.

    Oh, you have heard of fair use after all. But, but, but… what’s attribution got to do with it?

    There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission. Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.

    Oh.

    Sure, SMBC is within their rights to do such childish stunts; they are even free to initiate a legal action against NOM for copyright violation. But something being legal doesn’t imply that it’s RIGHT.

    Whether SMBC’s stunt is “childish” is clearly subject to debate, just as fair use is. Some would say it’s no more childish, and perhaps less, than complaining about having to use the google to find the article being discussed. Or telling someone to get a clue, who evidently has an ample supply of same.

    And, it should go without saying that even if NOM’s use of SMBC’s material were legal, that doesn’t imply that it’s RIGHT.

  66. Keith Bowden
  67. Peter Eldergill

    Bravo indeed, but I didn’t find the comic remotely amusing..it didn’t even incite a grin from me. Sorry

    Pete

  68. Brian Schlosser

    @Kris : “You are essentially arguing that SMBC is right to deny NOM the right to display the (intact, attributed) work, because the context in which the work is presented is inacceptable. Really? REALLY? Okay, take that: the logical conclusion of your argument is that Hoagland should be able to sue YOU, because your site debunking his ideas includes, verbatim, his diagram of the Cydonia geometry. ”

    Oh puh-lease. If the web-admins at the NOM site didn’t know that hotlinking the image would open them up to this kind of response, that is their fault. No one, Dr Plait or anyone else here that I have seen is suggesting that NOM doesn’t have the right to “quote” the cartoon. If they wanted to do so, they should have hosted their own copy. If they had, Zach would have either had to 1. Ask them to take it down on copyright grounds (and probably fail) or 2. Simply comment (via Twitter, his blog, etc) that NOM was misrepresenting his stance on the issue.

    NOM’s foolish use of the hotlink allowed Zach to respond in a way that got his views across in a much more elegant, quick and humorous manner. Nothing he did prevented them from re-uploading the cartoon themselves. Which, as you so helpfully point out, THEY DID!

    SO please, spare us the Brave Freedom Fighter analogies and accusations of censorship.

    The Hoagland argument you make is nonsense because, as you know, fair use explicitly covers criticism and scholarly uses. Which Dr Plait’s writing on the subject clearly are.

    “As a practising scientist, I find your treatment of the matter completely unacceptable.”

    If the critical thinking skills you displayed here are any indication of your scientific mind, please tell us you practice science in a field unrelated to nuclear weapons, neurosurgery, climatology or anything that really matters.

  69. Brian

    YAY FOR ZACH
    SO MUCH WIN
    NOM CAN SUCK
    MY CHINNY CHIN CHIN

  70. Gilda

    Kris,

    Referring to the action that the artist took as a “publicity stunt” is misleading. It implies that he set the whole thing up from the beginning in order to get people to look at his comic, and it takes just a bit of logic to see that that idea is preposterous on both counts. First, there’s no way he could have set up the appropriation of his work by the group he disagreed with; it’s so very unlikely as to be nigh impossible that he would even have known that anyone from NOM would see his comic, much less to set up the incident. And his actions upon finding out were clearly not intended to draw attention to his comic or his site, they were intended to draw attention to his cause, and that is quite obvious. So I’d say that it’s childish to purposely throw a preposterous accusation of his retaliation being a “publicity stunt” out just to deflect the conversation. Unless you honestly believe that it could have been a publicity stunt, which is, frankly, naive.

    Furthermore, I believe that one of the traits which defines adulthood is knowing what you believe in strongly, and why. It’s childish to fight for something if you have no reason to, or to fight for something which doesn’t matter. It is a different case entirely, however, when you are fighting for something which does matter, something which is important, which you believe in strongly, and something in which you can justify that strong belief.

    It would be easier for one to sit back and complain that the world isn’t fair, and feel comforted because, hey, at least one acknowledges that the world isn’t fair, and feel comforted further because one at least knows that their thoughts and heart are in the right place. It would be easier to say, “I would try to help change the things that are wrong, but I’m too busy right now. Maybe when things in my life slow down; maybe next year.”

    An adult should not do that, however. An adult shouldn’t sit back and watch when something wrong is happening and resign themselves to that wrongness. An adult should take action, and try to ensure that what happens is what is right.

    I’m a writer, and an artist, not a scientist. But I am an adult. And I will tell you that what I strongly believe, strongly enough to feel justified defending my belief, is that when one person or group uses misdirection to win an argument, or misuses someone else’s words or, yes, their art (particularly when that misuse is with the aim of abusing the rights of another person or group), retaliatory action is justified, so long as that retaliatory action doesn’t harm anyone.

    There was no harm in the action that Zach took. He changed the image that they were misusing so that they could no longer misuse it. He could have posted something vile, inflammatory, rude, or crass to the page instead. Instead he chose to use his site to promote his cause in a remarkably peaceful way. He didn’t sink to the childish level of slinging insults or fighting hate with hate; he posted a message of equality without any direct attacks on the homophobic NOM people. Furthermore, he didn’t actually do anything to the NOM website; he changed his own site, and that only affected NOM because they chose (of their own free will) to link their page to his.

    Maybe, if you take out the emotional context (which removes the humanity from the issue, something which in good conscience should never be done), Zach’s actions were wrong. But NOM is more wrong. And, Kris, children see the world in absolutes or, to use a tired cliche, in black and white. Adults understand that there are no absolutes in morality, that there is such a thing as “more wrong,” and that an action which harms no one and which is done in protest of the greater wrong is a justified action.

    Zach stood up against a harmful group, which is an adult thing to do. He did so on his own website (it was, after all, NOM’s own fault that his image wound up on their site, too). He posted the image that he did in support of the rights of his fellow human beings, a cause which is certainly worthy of fighting for. His actions didn’t harm anyone, whereas the agenda of the people with whom he is disagreeing directly harm many people. He was protecting his artistic integrity, but more importantly he was making a stand about his morals. The world would be a better place if more people would have this sense of personal responsibility.

    So, you wouldn’t have taken the actions that Zach did, had this happened to you, and that’s fine. But to declare his actions “childish” rather than, like an adult, agreeing to disagree or to even look at the situation without the subjective lens of your own opinion about those actions…that’s a bit immature, Kris.

    Good night.

  71. Kris-

    Wow, you’re shockingly wrong on pretty much every level.

    First, I didn’t link to the actual page at NOM, because they fixed it so that it now shows the original cartoon once again. No real reason to link to it in that case, so I linked to their front page (with a “rel=nofollow”). By your reasoning I shouldn’t have linked to them at all. Since I did, your argument is invalid.

    Second, their freedom of speech is not at all an issue here. My original claim about hotlinking turned out to be wrong, of course, but that doesn’t change the fact that their freedom of speech was never abridged nor censored. They always had the right to grab the cartoon and display it themselves, as I did (with attribution and a link back, as I did).

    And adults don’t have to sit back and watch their works be distorted or used for propaganda. What a bizarre thing to advocate! They have a right to exercise their own speech, which is what Zach did. And he happened to quote the guy who write the Declaration of Independence and was a Founding Father of the country, so I suspect there’s an irony in your argument there somewhere.

  72. Joseph G

    @ 58 Kris: I think perhaps it’s not that you missed the point, but that the point missed you, by several astronomical units. It all depends on your reference frame. In any case, you and the point never even got close to colliding.
    You’re making this wayyy too complicated.
    ♦ Phil’s friend makes a comic that has nothing to do with gay marriage, and he is in fact pro-gay marriage.
    ♦ Ridiculous organization uses comic (without permission) to promote a point of view contrary to that of the author.
    ♦ Author takes the opportunity to temporarily make his actual point of view known on the offending website.
    ♦ Phil thinks that this is a good thing.
    That’s it. Period. No one is trying to censor anyone else. No one is filing lawsuits. The interenet is not, in fact, Serious Business. And the other stuff you wrote, about scientists sharing their source material is a total non-sequitur. We’re talking about a webcomic here, not tree-ring data.
    Have some tea and relax. Sheesh.

  73. TheBlackCat

    @ Kris:

    First, generally speaking, copying something in total verbatim usually does not constitute fair use. I know that many cartoonists are very strict about forcing websites to take down individual comics. Gary Larson I know does this as a policy, which is why you will rarely, if ever, find any Far Side cartoons online. So I think it is quite clear in this case that it does not fall under fair use. I also do not see any obvious license on the web page indicating what uses the comic is allowed for, so under copyright law that means “nothing without the artist’s approval”. All in all I would say this is a clear-cut case where fair use is not applicable. Nevertheless, the artists never made any effort whatsoever to get them to remove the comic.

    Second, no one was censoring anyone. NOM is still allowed to say anything they want about the comic. The comic is still available on the original website. And the NOM people were still able to put the comic on their own servers.

    The closest thing anyone could come to censorship in this whole affair is actually the NOM, people, who link to a PDF copy of the web page rather than the page itself so viewers don’t see the artist’s opinions of them, but even that is a huge stretch. They also censor comments they don’t like on their blog.

    Third, intercepting hotlinked images and replacing them is pretty common. I have never seen anyone compare it to censorship, because the images are still available if you visit the website through the owners’ preferred method. He did nothing whatsoever to their website, he simply modified his own website, and the fact that they were leaching off his site resulted in what we saw. Anyone is free to do whatever they want to their own images on their own site.

    Finally, I think conflating a harmless prank like this with banning books and imprisoning those who violate the ban to be a huge insult to the people who risked a great deal to violate real censorship.

    You are cheapening their efforts to the point that they are practically meaningless. If redirecting an image that is still available with 2 second through probably a dozen other channels (including just visiting the website) is equivalent to imprisoning people for violating censorship rules, then the very idea of censorship loses all meaning.

  74. TheBlackCat

    No one is trying to censor anyone else.

    Except the NOM people who only let through comments they like. Although that is well within their rights, since they do not have to provide a platform for people they don’t agree with.

    Of course, the same goes for the cartoonist. He doesn’t have to use his own servers to help them promote a message he doesn’t agree with. They can use their own servers, but he doesn’t have to let them use his. That is really all this is about. They tried to make help them spread their message, but he wouldn’t do it, and he is well withing his right not to do it.

    Further, by hot-linking the image, they were using servers he paid for to support their cause, in other words forcing him to financially support them. He apparently isn’t bothered by this usually, but he is under no obligation whatsoever to do this and is well within he rights to deny it in general or in specific cases.

    People are free to say what they want, but they cannot force other people to help them say it, or force other people to pay for them to say it.

  75. Stargazer

    I don’t get why people want to vote on whether everyone should be equal under the law or not.

  76. @78 – They don’t. They want to vote to accommodate the special needs of a minority.

  77. Mike G

    There was never a vote by the people to… legalize interracial marriage, either.

    Hey now, you’re forgetting all about Alabama. We voted to legalize interracial marriage way back in the year 2000! :rolleyes:

  78. Messier Tidy Upper

    Superluminous! (Beyond mere brilliance):-D

    Go Zach Weiner & thanks for keeping us all up to date with this BA. :-)

    **********************************

    NB. Mike G. & others : roll : (Without the spaces) = :roll: in case that helps.

  79. Messier Tidy Upper

    & to the homophobes out there : http://www.sadtrombone.com/

    What is your problem with this?

    People, newsflash :

    Human individuals love other human individuals!

    Whatever else there is,

    There is LOVE!

    http://il.youtube.com/watch?v=Dyswe_XY8LY&feature=fvst

    Now get over it & let others live as they choose!

    Gay marraige, non-hetero-normative sexuality hurts nobody & is nobodies business but that of the people who feel how they feel.

  80. mike burkhart

    This reminds me of Brave new world where people are geneticly engenered and born in test tubes .As for gay marriage I have a warning for gays:Get redy to go thro hell when you get divorceed.

  81. Messier Tidy Upper

    Memo to homophobes : If you don’t like gay marriage, don’t marry another lady / bloke. (Whichever applies to you.)

    Its that simple.

    Other people’s lives – sexual or otherwise – are their own & not yours.

    Period.

    The day when homophobia reigned is long gone & fast fading into ancient history – & good riddance to it! :-P

  82. @ Jedibear:

    @78 – They don’t. They want to vote to accommodate the special needs of a minority.

    Who wouldn’t have “special needs” if the majority were not busy throwing hissy fits and passing laws stripping them of the rights they, themselves enjoy without a fuss.

    This “special rights” line is old, tired, and increasingly pathetic.

  83. Nowhere Man

    @79, JediBear: People wishing to get married are not a minority, nor do they have a special need. It’d be more accurate to say that this is about correcting an oversight. In that light, it’s hard to argue that a vote would be needed or appropriate.

  84. @ MUT:

    The day when homophobia reigned is long gone & fast fading into ancient history – & good riddance to it!

    Not quite so fast. There’s still a lot of that ancient Israelite “wisdom” to deal with.

    //dredging the bottom

  85. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ ^ Kunhigget : I don’t know about you but, almost by definition, I do NOT see *any* wisdom (Israelite or otherwise) in homophobia.

  86. I like how the screen shot you took just says “nom blog”. I could go for some noms right about now…

  87. Paddy

    @Kris,

    “From where I sit, this is a cheap, childish, publicity stunt. Sure, I would be even capable of doing such a thing myself to someone I don’t like. But, again, that doesn’t mean such behavior is commendable.”

    I quite agree – this was indeed a very cheap stunt by NOM, taking someone else’s words and twisting their meaning to make it look as if the other party supported their position. Very bad form indeed.

  88. Martha

    It is not a “special right” for me to want to marry my partner. It is a matter of equal rights. Back in 1967 some states outlawed interracial marriage when a majority of marriages happened to be between people of the same race making interracial couples a minority. When laws against interracial marriage were struck down was that an example of “special rights?” Of course not.

    Same sex relationships are every bit as legitimate as opposite sex relationships. Gay and lesbian couples are already adopting children and raising families. Our kids go to the same schools and for thousands of school children having classmates with two dads or two moms is no big deal. What is a big deal is that currently opposite sex couple have special rights that same sex couples are denied.

    Federal Judge Vaughn Walker puts it so eloquently in his decision to strike down Prop 8 in California:

    “Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.

    Plaintiffs have demonstrated by overwhelming evidence that Proposition 8 violates their due process and equal protection rights and that they will continue to suffer these constitutional violations until state officials cease enforcement of Proposition 8. California is able to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, as it has already issued 18,000 marriage licenses to same sex couples and has not suffered any demonstrated harm as a result, see FF 64-66; moreover, California officials have chosen not to defend Proposition 8 in these proceedings. Because Proposition 8 is unconstitutional under both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses, the court orders entry of judgment permanently enjoining its enforcement; prohibiting the official defendants from applying or enforcing Proposition 8 and directing the official defendants that all persons under their control or supervision shall not apply or enforce Proposition 8.”

  89. @ MUT:

    @ ^ Kunhigget : I don’t know about you but, almost by definition, I do NOT see *any* wisdom (Israelite or otherwise) in homophobia.

    That may well be, but in my experience almost every argument leveled against same sex marriage ultimately, when stripped of the b.s., gets down to “because Yahweh doesn’t like it.”

    They couch their positions in bogus psychology-speak and this and that study (always bankrolled by fundy Christian groups), but at its foundation it’s about “my god says this and therefore I’m agin’ it.”

  90. Gary Ansorge

    92. kuhnigget

    I was talking to Yhaweh just last night and S/He said “I really don’t give a frak.”

    Seems Yahweh is a fan of SciFi. It’s also apparent S/He is also a DeadHead,,,snark,,,

    Gary 7

  91. Brian MacDougall

    My impression of bigotry after 58 years is that it is generally the result of received “wisdom.” And thankfully, it has a shelf life, but that is cold comfort for those living in the here and now. I’ve seen segregated water fountains in diners where everyone in the kitchen was African-American. Those don’t exist anymore, but the sole reason they don’t exist is because the only remedy to the abrogation of human rights is the shortest distance to restoring (or implementing) those rights. Not the ballot box, which is notoriously unfair and messy, and subject to contemptible forms of disinformation and manipulation (CF California Proposition 8 2008; California Proposition 14, 1963). Not “playing nice,” or avoiding the stigma of the puerile.

    When “ideas” are beneath contempt is it in everyone’s best interest to engage critically? I personally think not, and all methods of remedy are fair game. Should the oppressed be held to a higher standard than the oppressor? Hell no. That’s called insult to injury, and it’s been a source of wonderment to me after all these years that those African-American kitchen workers didn’t spit in every plate of food that passed through their hands.

    And really, getting your knickers in a twist over some mild monkeywrenching on the web? Isn’t that central to the web’s DNA? Somebody hasn’t been paying attention. Finally, courts are very amenable to artists seeking relief from their products being used as branding efforts by political groups, and there’s nothing “fair use” or “first amendment” about it. It’s a licensing issue, start to finish. (CF John McCain v. Jackson Browne, 2009.)

  92. Joseph G

    I was going to add my two cents about why same-sex marriage as a natural right is a no-brainer, but kuhnigget and martha did it far better then I ever could.

    @kuhnigget: …in my experience almost every argument leveled against same sex marriage ultimately, when stripped of the b.s., gets down to “because Yahweh doesn’t like it.”
    They couch their positions in bogus psychology-speak and this and that study (always bankrolled by fundy Christian groups), but at its foundation it’s about “my god says this and therefore I’m agin’ it.”

    Which always brings me back to the question of why the anti-Gay Christian groups are taking stuff from the OT and running with it? As I was raised Jewish, this really ticks me off (don’t even get me started on the iffy translations). That’s not to say that there aren’t Orthodox Jews who take issue with homosexuality, but thankfully, they usually seem to keep to themselves. My theory is that this is because Jewish folks don’t proselytize – telling other people what religion they should believe in isn’t all that far from telling them how they should be in other ways.

  93. Radwaste

    Hey, if you have the tendency, quit being so eager to try the “two wrongs” fallacy on Thomas Jefferson. You act like his ideas all suck because of one thing. If that was a good idea, nobody would ever listen to you about anything. If the man was perfect, you’d just make an excuse for not emulating him.

    As it was, he and his fellows set up a system – THE system – which allows you to correct a perceived wrong from within it – and so craftily that apparently, nobody noticed that slaves could be freed when it was put into place!

    Tiem for the funneh: NOM can biet meh!

  94. This is absolutely spectacular! Thanks so much for posting this!

  95. Radwaste

    Oh, by the way – Winstron Rowntree has addressed this sort of thing before; maybe you’ll enjoy his work at Subnormality. Look here and here.

    Heh.

  96. Brian Too

    Anyone notice that groups like the National Organization of Marriage, could have approached the gay marriage issue from the perspective of freedom, liberty, and the non-interference of the government in personal relationships? Yes, I know that marriage has a religious aspect too, carry on.

    Such groups could have gotten on a positive bandwagon and one completely in keeping with the usual parcel of values I think they would hew to. Instead they had to go negative.

    This is going to haunt them for at least a generation, as homophobic attitudes become socially unacceptable. Many others have drawn the comparison to racism and it’s an apt comparison. Considering that the human rights conflict in the US is still within living memory, one wonders how NOM has managed to overlook the parallels?

  97. CaitiVoltaire

    Found this site through SMBC. Hi!

    To comment on the NOM mess of hilarity: The wonderful – and scary – thing about freedom is that we are given the freedom to believe whatever it is we choose to believe, including such bigoted things as these people believe. This is not right, per se, but it’s okay. It’s acceptable. We would, in fact, be lobbying against freedom, to say that they cannot believe what it is they want to believe. Doing so would be wrong. Its a kind of thought censorship. We cannot make them believe things they do not want to believe.

    What we can – and I believe should – do is build the system in such a way that these beliefs do not infringe upon the happiness and freedoms of others. Personally I consider myself firmly on THE OTHER side of the fence entirely, in that I find heterosexual relationships kind of weird and unnatural, probably because I’ve been with the same gender in my relationships for … almost as long as I can remember. But what I don’t do is make those people feel uncomfortable for doing what it is that makes them happy. I have no right to take happiness from someone like that, nor do I have the right to make them feel uncomfortable for doing what makes them feel happy so long as it does not affect me. And, for that matter, no one else does either.

  98. Joseph G

    @98 radwaste: Awesome examples – I love subnormality (even if the wordier ones could better be expressed in blog form and the small text makes my head hurt) and I never saw the “weird” one.

  99. Kris… I’m shaking my head at the “holier than thou” and “fake learned” commentary you’ve put here.

    It’s SMBC’s cartoon. NOM screwed up. SMBC fixed their wagon. What he did was legal and aboveboard, which is more than you can say for what NOM did.

    If you’re gonna opine on this stuff, understand it first. That works in science, too.

  100. @ Brian #99:

    Considering that the human rights conflict in the US is still within living memory, one wonders how NOM has managed to overlook the parallels?

    To them, there is no parallel. Homosexuality is a “choice” in their minds, whereas race is an innate quality of one’s being.

    Of course, they go on to ignore the obvious fallacies this introduces, such as why homosexuality is “chosen” whereas heterosexuality is not, or when this supposed choice takes place.

    Bottom line is, their arguments are b.s. because, as I noted above, it’s not about logic or biology or equal rights, it’s about religion — their religion. The rest is just window dressing to hide their theocratic agenda.

  101. Messier Tidy Upper

    @92. kuhnigget :

    @ MUT: [Um .. don’t you mean MTU, Kuhnigget?]
    @ [#87] Kunhigget : I don’t know about you but, almost by definition, I do NOT see *any* wisdom (Israelite or otherwise) in homophobia.”

    That may well be, but in my experience almost every argument leveled against same sex marriage ultimately, when stripped of the b.s., gets down to “because Yahweh doesn’t like it.” They couch their positions in bogus psychology-speak and this and that study (always bankrolled by fundy Christian groups), but at its foundation it’s about “my god says this and therefore I’m agin’ it.”

    Yes, that may be but remember that’s not good religion but bad religion -as well as reflecting the worse side of Humanity rather than the better side.

    The homophobes misusing and distorting religion by attempting to justify their prejudice on religious grounds are overlooking stuff like this that’s in the Torah / Old Testament Bible :

    http://www.thebricktestament.com/david_vs_saul/jonathan_and_david/1s20_42a.html

    1 Samuel 20:42
    Jonathan said to David, ‘Go in peace, for we have sworn in the name of Yahweh that Yahweh will bond you and me and your descendants and my descendants forever.

    Which seems to be a case of God blessing and sanctifying a gay marriage or relationship! King David, one of the great heroes of the Torah and Bible was bisexual and was not condemned for his sexual orientation.

    Plus the homophobes are cherry-picking and taking out of context parts of Leviticus while ignoring others as this parody site notes :

    http://godhatesshrimp.com/

    I think certainly to some large degree, religion is what people make of it.

    There are, sadly, those who make religion and their idea of God hateful – the Fred Phelps and Jerry Falwell’s and there type.

    But there are also those like Fred Clark of the slacktivist blog

    http://slacktivist.typepad.com/slacktivist/

    and Rabbi Michael Lerner of the Tikkun group whose religious ideas are far more compassionate and open-minded and better.

  102. Messier Tidy Upper

    Shorter version of my comment above :

    Don’t blame all of religion and judge all religious people by the nastiness and ugliness of a few prominent ones. Yes, there are homophobic nuts who use their idea of religion to demonise gays but there are also many tolerant, pro-gay rights religious folks who use their religion to fight and challenge and defeat such homophobia and bigotry generally as well. The Bible & Torah are a lot more complex and less bigoted than the homophobes would have you believe.

    Three more links on this that may be interesting for y’all here :

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/cathleen-falsani/the-great-gay-awakening_b_808235.html

    http://slacktivist.typepad.com/slacktivist/2010/10/hold-on-to-the-good.html

    &

    http://slacktivist.typepad.com/slacktivist/2010/08/charleston.html

    that last one there is kind of bittersweet but interesting. As usual the slacktivist blog comments are also often really worth reading too.

  103. Mary

    I’ve seen that linked advertisement before. It is quite horrible. But, I get a chuckle when he says that ‘a rainbow coaliti0n of every creed and colour is coming together’ to protect marriage and protest gey marriage. Maybe I’m hearing it wrong.

  104. @ Messier:

    1 Samuel concerns a story regarding loyalty. Its finale describes an oath of allegiance that will be honored for generations. Hence in the King James version Jonathan talks about it continuing in his seed (i.e. his descendants) as well as David’s, thus clearly indicating they will breed and procreate apart from one another. It is not about gay marriage, which did not exist in the Iron Age Levant.

    And I never blamed religion for homophobia. I said homophobes use religion to justify their bigotry. Like many others, who shall remain nameless, they have a tendency to pick and choose what sacred writ they choose to emphasize in order to tailor it to match their own particular agenda.

  105. flip

    I’m sure this has already been said somewhere, but I haven’t had a chance to read all comments yet…

    #58, Kris

    It’s generally considered polite to ask permission before using someone else’s artwork. If the artist allows you to link to something, that’s one thing: but to then copy and paste the artwork onto your site (ie. to save the image as your own), even with a credit, that’s in bad taste.

    Unfortunately, creative commons has blurred the lines and artists everywhere are trying desperately to define where their work is allowed to be used and where it isn’t. Just because you give up your right to license your work for a fee doesn’t mean you give up your copyrights altogether.

    Furthermore, it’s an even greyer area because copyrights are different depending on which country or state you’re in. This makes it even more imperative that you ASK before you USE.

    Artists get upset just at the fact their works are used without permission: it does not necessarily have to have anything to do with who is using it or why.

    On top of this, copyright is an individual thing. If one person wants their work to be used for anything and everything, it does not follow that that same person wants a different work to be used in that way; or that the person can’t change their minds or refuse to ‘serve’ a particular person; or that anyone else wants their work used in the same ways.

    This is no different than making a replica of the Mona Lisa, giving correct attribution, and then screaming when someone says that it’s not allowed. As far as I could see SMBC allows you to LINK to the art, not COPY it.

    Why does everyone think that if you give attribution, it’s ok to COPY the image? Attribution is only ONE of many creative commons licences, and there are different degress of copyrights. Even fair use is a grey area, as again, it depends on your country’s laws and your own personal method of dealing out copyright usage.

    As an artist, and as far as I am concerned, SMBC is well within his rights to be upset and take whatever action is necessary to prevent his work being used in an illegal manner. I haven’t spent a lot of time on the site, but I could not immediately see any copyright disclaimer or explanation of what correct usage is. It’s funny how many people out there assume that if you put something on a website and provide a link (or put it on Flickr) that it’s somehow ‘fair game’. That if it doesn’t have an explicit disclaimer of copyrights, that it’s somehow ok to use.

    That’s really unfair to those of us who work so hard on our art. It really doesn’t take much effort to email someone for permission: or simply seek out other artwork where you know exactly what you’re allowed to do with it. Not seeing a disclaimer is not the same as the artist being ok with you using your art for whatever purposes you see fit. Not seeing a disclaimer does not mean the artist has given up all of their copyrights.

    If we’re talking about common courtesy, then I don’t see why you would support people who couldn’t be assed sending an email and requesting permission to COPY the image.

    (Also, what #60. jaranath said)

    As for your comment at #61, that’s a complete strawman. No one is denying them free speech. They are allowed to go off and find another cartoon that has a message that meets their ideas: one which doesn’t break copyright. They could commission an artist or draw their own cartoon. Or they could simply make do with text.

  106. flip

    Darn, ran out of editing time…

    Also what #73. Gilda said… and #76, TBC

    … Ah hell, they all indeed beat me to the punch.

    Anyway, my actual reaction to the comic:
    LOL! That’s a good trick for a nasty attempt at using artwork for their own ends.

  107. Messier Tidy Upper

    @107. kuhnigget Says:

    @ Messier: 1 Samuel concerns a story regarding loyalty. Its finale describes an oath of allegiance that will be honored for generations. Hence in the King James version Jonathan talks about it continuing in his seed (i.e. his descendants) as well as David’s, thus clearly indicating they will breed and procreate apart from one another. It is not about gay marriage, which did not exist in the Iron Age Levant.

    That is one (dare I say bowdlerised) way of looking at it. Another is the way I have suggested.

    David and Jonathon kissed and wept together, there is the famous line where David notes this :

    1 Samuel 20:17
    Jonathan made David swear again by his love for him, for he loved him with his whole being.

    & the even more famous one after Saul & Jonathon’s death’s where David notes this :

    2 Samuel 1:26
    ‘I grieve over you, my brother Jonathan. Your love was more dear to me than the love of a woman!’

    I’m not sure why you seem so keen to downplay and minimise the obvious meaning and strength of these verses. :-(

    For me, they sum up very powerfully and clearly what the David & Jonathon’s relationship most likely was! ;-)

    Homosexuality (& committed gay and bisexual relationships) has always been around and these & marriage been treated differently in different cultures and different ages. But then you already know that, right?

    And I never blamed religion for homophobia. I said homophobes use religion to justify their bigotry. Like many others, who shall remain nameless, they have a tendency to pick and choose what sacred writ they choose to emphasize in order to tailor it to match their own particular agenda.

    I think all sides of the debate have done that.

    I think religion is often what we make of it.

  108. Messier Tidy Upper

    Off-topic sorry, but thinking of the recent great “agnosticism versus atheism” debate we’ve been having; I’ve responded further here :

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2011/01/31/bill-oreilly-tidal-bore/comment-page-8/#comment-356655

    in case you’re interested.

    I am also re-reading The God Delusion to see if I can re-discover those quotes I’ve mentioned before from memory & to see whether it is as bad as I thought first time round or not. Lack of time, work & RL are getting in the way but I’m open for continuing civilised discussion as always if others are. :-)

  109. Christi

    @Martha (40): Thank you so much for sharing that quote. I was vaguely familiar with the Loving case but didn’t know Mildred Loving had spoken out in favor of marriage equality. That’s awesome.

  110. @ Messier:

    I’m not going to dredge this whole thing up again, but once more I will state that you are judging ancient cultures and their writ by your own modern standards, not theirs.

    I’m not sure why you seem so keen to downplay and minimise the obvious meaning and strength of these verses.

    Because the “meaning” is an ancient one. A man kissing another man, swearing love and allegiance with God as a witness, is not a sign of a homosexual relationship in Iron Age Levantine civilizations! It’s a symbol of loyalty, nothing more. That this allegiance is “more dear” than the love of a woman only reinforces the low status of women in this society, it has no implication about romantic or physical love between the two men. Again, Messier, stop reinterpreting the Bible based upon your own modern points of view.

    Homosexuality (& committed gay and bisexual relationships) has always been around and these & marriage been treated differently in different cultures and different ages. But then you already know that, right?

    Yes, I know that. And I know that homosexual marriage did not exist in the Levant. Ancient Egypt is the only society (that I know of) that presents historical evidence for such a sanctioned arrangement, and even that is only evidenced among the elite of society nearest to the pharaoh. There just isn’t any evidence for it anywhere else.

    Religion is what you make of it, but its historical roots are what they are. You cannot rewrite a text and claim “that’s what they meant.” You can only state, “Here’s how I reinterpret that text today.”

    Enough already.

  111. TheBlackCat

    Yes, that may be but remember that’s not good religion but bad religion -as well as reflecting the worse side of Humanity rather than the better side.

    The homophobes misusing and distorting religion by attempting to justify their prejudice on religious grounds are overlooking stuff like this that’s in the Torah / Old Testament Bible

    So in other words, whenever someone does something good in the name of religion, that shows how great religion is, but whenever someone does something bad in the name of religion, that is a misuse and distortion of religion? Can anyone say “no true Scotsman”? What’s next, begging the question?

  112. Phelp

    @Nick:

    Everyone forgets about Vermont! We legalized same-sex marriage by ballot, not through the courts. Though it DID have to be passed by overriding a veto from our (then-) governor.

  113. Mr. Zach Weiner is the Bee’s Frakkin’ Knees! I read that comic often and love it, but doing that to a hateful organization such as NOM is just absolutely one of the best things I have ever heard of!

  114. JMW

    Regarding the “minority rights” argument, and whether there should be votes to give rights to minorities (such as women voting, interracial marriage, etc., etc.), vs whether the courts/government should rule/legislate, I cite Thomas Jefferson:

    All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.

  115. Darth Robo

    And may I also express my distaste for that organisation to have co-opted the acronym ‘NOM’?

    After this event, perhaps it would be more appropriate to refer to them as “NOMMED”.

  116. So why does “Grampa” look like Isaac Asimov?

  117. Hugo Schmidt

    Okay, that is just seventeen shades of awesome. Let’s hear it for Zach!

    Regarding the “minority rights” argument, and whether there should be votes to give rights to minorities

    Just want to disagree violently with the implicit premises here. Rights aren’t “given” by some higher power, they are innate. Similarly, there is no such thing as “minority rights”, that is, there isn’t a special package of rights that pertain only to gays or whomever, there are only the Rights of Man that pertain to every human individual, and it’s just that not everyone seems to get that message.

  118. exprophet

    @100. CaitiVoltaire

    That’s nice. A nice sentiment. But since we are talking about a national group devoted to taking away your ability to feel happy about your relationships, completely irrelevant

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