Indiana's "religious freedom" bill you know all about, but tomorrow afternoon, a Tennessee House subcommittee will meet to discuss HB 0566, which would prevent public institutions of learning from disciplining students in counseling, social work, and psychology programs if they turn gay clients away due to their "sincerely-held religious beliefs." How do we determine if religious beliefs are "sincerely-held," by the way? Do we open people up and count rings? Anyway, you already know the trouble with that idea: if you're training in any counseling field, your instructors are supposed to ensure you get exposed to a wide diversity of problems and experiences -- and that means, not incidentally, that students who get accredited in Tennessee might not be able to work in very many other places in America, since people in other states can choose counselors whose schools did force their students to do all kinds of work and broaden their horizons. So the Tennessee Equality Project has begun a petition on change.org that helps you tell the Tennessee House Education, Instruction, and Programs Subcommittee to reject another "turn away the gays" bill.
Meanwhile, the Friends Committee on National Legislation helps you tell your House Reps to support H.R. 1232, the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act. What would H.R. 1232 do? It would, as its title suggests, stanch the flow of military goodies to local police forces, by disallowing such transfers in the name of counter-drug operations and by limiting the kinds of weapons DoD can transfer in the first place. The bill puts other hurdles up, too, and right-leaning folk might call that "bureaucracy," but I don't see what's so damn hard about accounting to your government why you need the weapons and how you're going to use them. Sadly, though weariness of tough-on-crime law enforcement strategies remains a bipartisan feeling among our nation's good citizens, only two of the 45 House sponsors of H.R. 1232 are Republicans -- libertarian-inflected Justin Amash of Michigan you'd probably figure, California gadfly Tom McClintock you probably wouldn't. But again: it doesn't matter what they want. It matters what we want. And if we believe it, sooner or later they'll have to believe it, too, if they want to keep their jobs.
Finally, hot on the heels of the World Health Organization's declaration that Monsanto-produced herbicide Roundup is a "probable carcinogen," CREDO helps you tell the EPA and FDA to ban glyphosate (Roundup's main ingredient) in herbicides. We've been using glyphosate on crops since the 1970s, and while glyphosate replaced some considerably less-healthy herbicides then commonly in use, often you don't know how bad something is until you've used it for a while, and when big ag is sponsoring most studies of the matter, well, you may not know how bad it is at all. But the WHO disregarded industry-funded science in concluding that glyphosate probably causes cancer, and while it didn't assess the precise risk of getting cancer from glyphosate, it found enough evidence that we really should be conservative about this. Glyphosate is now the most-used herbicide on Earth, its wide use prompting the development of genetically-engineered crops that can withstand it better, the promulgation of which has spurred, in turn, the development of glyphosate-resistant weeds. We should fight these trends, of course, but we should also get back into the mindset that we should grow our food, rather than buy it.