Five Best Friday Columns
BriGette McCoy on why the military response to sexual assault is not enough, William Saletan on the decline of anti-gay religion, Michael Gerson on why it should be harder to opt out of vaccinations, Adam Minter on passport checks and Malaysia Flight 370, Jerry Pattengale on the collapse of the 'Jesus Wife' hoax.
BriGette McCoy at the Guardian on why the military response to sexual assault is not enough. “Military sexual trauma has become a blood sport of the military – and the chiefs sit by and watch as the men and women who serve get hunted down, sexually assaulted by leadership, then subjected to a system which is continually biased against the victim. Service members who are subjected to military sexual trauma (MST) have no recourse in civilian courts, and, since the failure of the Senate to pass Sen Kirsten Gillibrand's Military Justice Improvement Act in its last session, victims have the same access to justice that they have always had: little or none,” McCoy writes. “Sexual assault in the military is helping to create a catastrophic blight to American public health, communities and even the economy, both in terms of veteran reintegration and military family population.”
William Saletan at Slate on the decline of anti-gay religion.“Throughout history, religion has sanctioned and fueled the persecution of homosexuality. That dynamic may be drawing to an end. Polls, clerics, and denominations are shifting. Theology is adapting. Resistance to same-sex marriage is dwindling, and there’s no end in sight,” Saletan writes. “There will always be Christians, Muslims, and Jews who condemn homosexuality. There will be bigots, bashers, and demagogues. And in some places, particularly in Africa and Asia, there will be persecution and oppressive laws. But in this country, religious resistance is crumbling. It’s being overwhelmed by love, conscience, and a God who keeps creating gay kids, even in the most devout families. Over time, He will prevail.”
Michael Gerson at The Washington Post on why it should be harder to opt out of vaccinations. “Recently I wrote about a type of scientific denialism that cheats children out of the wonders of modern cosmology and encourages unnecessary religious doubt. But there is another sort of scientific skepticism — often displayed by affluent and educated parents — that withholds routine childhood vaccinations and encourages unnecessary disease. These should be kept in proportion. The belief that human beings walked with dinosaurs is wrong. The belief that vaccinations cause autism or brain damage is wrong and dangerous,” Gerson writes. “In most health matters, defying medical authority mainly has individual consequences. But communicable diseases are different. This means that if even a small portion of the herd refuses vaccination, the risks rise for everyone.”
Adam Minter on Bloomberg View on passport checks and Malaysia Flight 370. “The first promising lead in the search for Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 was the discovery that two passengers boarded the plane using stolen passports that were among the more than 40 million recorded in Interpol’s Stolen and Lost Travel Documents database. The investigations and the public’s short attention span, have moved on. But at Interpol concern over stolen passports remains high,” Minter writes. “What’s the threat? If MH 370 didn’t make it clear enough, Ronald Noble, the United Nations’ Counter-Terrorism Committee and Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate, offered this: ‘History and past bloodshed have taught us that transnational terrorists will cross borders time and again to complete their distorted mission.’ He cited Ramzi Yousef, who came to the U.S. on a stolen passport and proceeded to mastermind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. What will it take -- other than money -- to get more passports screened worldwide?”
Jerry Pattengale at The Wall Street Journal on the collapse of the 'Jesus Wife' hoax. “In September 2012, Harvard Divinity School professor Karen King announced the discovery of a Coptic (ancient Egyptian) gospel text on a papyrus fragment that contained the phrase ‘Jesus said to them, 'My wife . . .' ’ Yet now it appears almost certain that the Jesus-was-married story line was divorced from reality,” Pattengale writes. “Almost from the moment Ms. King made her announcement two years ago, critics attacked the Gospel of Jesus' Wife as a forgery. But Ms. King had defenders. Then last week the story began to crumble faster than an ancient papyrus exposed in the windy Sudan. Having evaluated the evidence, many specialists in ancient manuscripts and Christian origin think Karen King and the Harvard Divinity School were the victims of an elaborate ruse. ... It will provide a valuable case study for research classes long after we're gone and the biblical texts remain.”