I’m delighted to belatedly announce the future has finally arrived. Premium content on anewscafe.com can now be accessed for just $1 per day!
I’ve been waiting for this moment since 1987.
That’s when the science fiction action movie Robocop was released. Set in an indeterminate near-future in post-industrial Detroit, the film centers around a police officer who is violently murdered and reincarnated as a cyborg which then pursues the killers. It’s considered to be the most violent action movie ever made by many film aficionados.
In the movie, the characters watch a reality TV show, “It’s Not My Problem!” The show is hosted by Bixby Snyder, a pudgy, balding man with coke-bottle-bottom eyeglasses, a walrus mustache and a bow-tie who is always inexplicably surrounded by scantily clad stripper chicks.
In three short snippets spread throughout the film, Bixby first smashes whipped-cream pies into one woman’s chest and then asks two of the girls if they’re willing to sleep with him. “We’ve had our shots,” they inform him.
“I’d buy that for a dollar!” he says lecherously.
Thus, an immortal American meme was born. Bixby Snyder is the quintessential forgotten man pursuing his own version of happiness, one dollar at a time. By extension, economically, we’re all chasing that same dream, perhaps with more mundane appetites than Bixby’s.
What, after all, is the value of a dollar, other than the ultimate measure of all things in our late-stage capitalistic society?
Interestingly, a dollar today, as measured by the Federal Reserve’s price-adjusted dollar index, has roughly the same purchasing power as it did in 1987, when Robocop came out. It doesn’t seem like a dollar today stretches as far though, does it? You’ve got to dig in Dollar Tree, let alone Dollar General, to find anything that actually costs just a buck.
According to the Urban Dictionary, Robocop is definitely the source of the meme “I’d buy that for a dollar.” It is now universally used to refer to anything “that is really amazing and fantastic whether it be a person, place, thing or idea.”
“Amazing and fantastic” are two adjectives I’d definitely use to describe ANC’s premium content, which, as it so happens, you can purchase for just a dollar for 24-hours access to the whole site, not just one story. The price seems right for the time. I’d buy it for a dollar, if I didn’t already have a contributor’s subscription.
Surely, after reading a couple of stories by my esteemed colleagues, I’d realize the $5 recurring monthly subscription rate is a bargain, and I might even be tempted to generously sign on to the maximum $40 recurring monthly subscription plan. Prices go down in $5 increments from there. Do what’s right for you.
It’s time to pay up. The future is now.
Then They Came For The Transgenders
Because I have a contributor’s subscription, I was unaware that ANC had a $1 option to read individual stories until last week. When my profile of a former Bethel student, "Losing His Religion,” began notching up page-views at a faster pace than usual, I realized at least some people were signing up to read the story.
I’ll buy that for a dollar!
Of course, I learned that Bethel makes for good copy earlier this year, when I wrote about No. 2 apostle Kris Vallotton’s efforts to defeat a bill in the California Legislature. The bill, if passed, might have prohibited Bethel and other religious entities from charging adults money for sexual orientation change efforts, more infamously known as conversion therapy.
The story went viral, by ANC standards at least, gaining tens-of-thousands of page-views, and inspired a series. Many of our readers are obviously concerned about the charismatic megachurch that rakes in millions of dollars annually through Bethel Publishing, Bethel Music, the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry, and dozens of other associated ministries, including Equipped To Love, the church’s conversion therapy outfit.
Conversion therapy has been thoroughly discredited and declared potentially harmful by virtually every credible mainstream medical and psychological association in the Western world. It is illegal to practice conversion therapy on minors in California and 13 other states.
Nevertheless, the bill that might have restricted practicing conversion therapy on adults was ultimately withdrawn after conservative Christian leaders statewide, including Vallotton, lobbied their congregations to contact the Legislature en masse.
According to the Freedom of Religion Foundation’s website, none of this lobbying activity appears to be prohibited by the laws separating church and state enumerated in the Constitution and other statutes.
Flush with their success at further blurring that line, Johnson and Vallotton in recent weeks have been encouraging their flock to endorse President Donald Trump’s proposal to remove Obama-era Title IX guidance that protects the estimated 1.4 million transgender individuals in the United States from discrimination under federal law.
Title IX, civil rights legislation enacted in 1972, states,"No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."
Presented with ample evidence that transgender and gender non-conforming individuals face a high level of discrimination in public education and health care, Obama addressed the issue during his second term. His new directive expanded the definition of “sex” under Title IX to include “gender identity,” placing transgender people under the federal umbrella.
The religious right, especially white evangelicals, reacted to these modest reforms as if Western civilization had collapsed. So they made a deal with the devil—Trump. Give us conservative Supreme Court justices and roll back these progressive reforms, the evangelicals told Trump, and we will turn out the votes.
They did, Trump was elected and true to his transactional nature, he has delivered for the evangelicals and the rest of the Christian right. Right off the bat, he attempted to ban gender non-conforming individuals from serving in the military. Secretary of Education Betsy Devos reversed Obama’s directive to allow transgender individuals to use the bathroom at school conforming to their gender identity.
Now Trump is moving to roll back Obama’s reforms for good with a new presidential directive. The new guidelines for the Department of Health and Humans Services have yet to be officially released. But in October, they were leaked to the New York Times, which ran with the headline, “‘Transgender’ Could Be Defined Out Of Existence By Trump Administration.”
According to the Times, “The agency’s proposed definition would define sex as either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with, according to a draft reviewed by The Times. Any dispute about one’s sex would have to be clarified using genetic testing.”
“The new definition would essentially eradicate federal recognition of the estimated 1.4 million Americans who have opted to recognize themselves — surgically or otherwise — as a gender other than the one they were born into,” the Times concluded.
Although the Trump administration has yet to release the new guidelines, Johnson and Vallotton have been asking their parishioners on Facebook to sign a petition to implement the changes. Here’s the full text from Vallotton’s Dec. 10 Facebook post:
“Please read this urgent information and consider signing this petition to uphold the scientific definition of sex in Federal Law and Policy.
“This petition, supported by thousands of doctors, attorneys and key public leaders, seeks to solidify the U.S. government’s definition of biological sex for the sake of society as a whole. Maintaining a specific definition of biological sex guides medical science (treatment of disease), genetic/biological family heritage and physical identity for the sake of public identification (police records.) This is not discrimination or bigotry, it’s common sense.
“Our post-modern culture wants us to believe that our true identity is based upon feelings and internal thoughts. This simply isn't true! Our physical body is essential to our entire being—our chromosomes, sex organs, sex hormones all inform our personalities and emotions. It’s physically impossible to change one’s biological sex. All we can do is change the externals—what other people see.
“God desires that we cherish our bodies and celebrate our unique differences that reflect His beauty. It’s vital that our culture protect these differences for the sake of our children, their sense of safety and the development of family. Removing biological sex as a key definition in our culture will have future ramifications that we cannot envision as we get further from God’s wisdom in society.
“Please take a few minutes to review this petition and let’s stand together for the future of our children, grandchildren, and the generations to come!”
One could go paragraph-by-paragraph dismantling Vallotton’s specious arguments. It’s nice that Bethel has taken a sudden interest in science, for example, but this isn’t about science, it’s about discrimination law. Nothing in the law changes how actual scientists define sex and gender—two different topics—across fields such as biology and psychology.
Transgender people who undergo sex-reassignment surgery understand that the procedure doesn’t make them biologically a man or a woman. For most of the people who undergo the surgery, the “external changes” provide relief from the sense of not being in the “right” body, which can be extremely discomfiting on a long-term basis.
Finally, if God desires us to cherish our bodies so much, why does he command all men to whack off their foreskin to seal the covenant with him in the Old Testament?
I could go on, but I won’t. For those readers familiar with the difficulties transgender and gender non-conforming people face in society, Vallotton’s words speak for themselves.