Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Marginal Sanity of Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Jerry Boykin

Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Jerry Boykin
Jerry Boykin, a retired army general, is executive vice president of Family Research Council, a designated anti-LGBT hate group. Boykin is an anti-Muslim, anti-LGBT bigot. He is probably an anti-Semite and racist as well. Today I received an email from Boykin titled “Obama era government thugs threaten Christian business owner.” Thugs? Boykin goes on to explain:
Obama-era government thugs have threatened to shut down a private business and put dozens of individuals out of work simply because Christian business owner Donald Vander Boon operates his family meatpacking plant according to biblical principles.

Before leaving office, President Obama snuck in a new rule that allows government officials to have incredible power to police private businesses.

This "rule" - which is unlawful, unconstitutional, and a threat to Christians across our nation - has allowed the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to leave Vander Boon and his wife hopeless: They are being forced to either remove brochures about natural marriage from their company break room or close their doors.
None of that seems to be accurate. This incident allegedly occurred in August of 2015 (which Boykin eventually confirms) and it relates to the Supreme Court's ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges. Therefore it is unrelated to any changes to rules that President Obama might have introduced as he was leaving office. Blaming Obama is one of Boykin's favorite hobbies. Vander Boon's operation, West Michigan Beef Company, is still very much in business so I am not at all sure what Boykin is getting worked up over other than a cheap attempt to raise some money for his employer.

I have written about this before. Unfortunately the USDA has frustrated my FOIA requests. Vander Boon is represented by Alliance Defending Freedom. Their version of events is that Vander Boon placed some anti-gay brochures in his lunchroom challenging the wisdom of the Supreme Court in Obergefell. This might have been offensive to the USDA inspector assigned to the plant. USDA inspectors required Vander Boon to remove the materials from his lunchroom in order to maintain the presence of their inspector. Even if we accept ADF's version of events the USDA was not being unreasonable. The law is clear (it was then and it is now) that a meat packer cannot create a toxic work environment for the agency's inspectors. If — if — the USDA required Vander Boon to remove the brochures that would have had no material effect on either the business or Vander Boon's Free Exercise of Religion.

I floated another theory. In August of 2016 the USDA sent Vander Boon a formal Notice of Intended Enforcement. On August 15, 2015 at 1:10PM the supervisory public health veterinarian witnessed a Vander Boon employee euthanize a downed dairy heifer inhumanely and not in accordance with USDA regulations. The intended enforcement letter goes on to state:
… the occurrence of this inhumane handling incident constitutes an egregious violation of the humane handling requirements specified within the provisions of 21 U.S.C. 603 , Section 3 (b) of the FMIA, and 7 U.S.C. 1901 and 1902 ofthe HMSA of 1978.
That matter is still open (the USDA moves at a glacial pace). It seems possible that Vander Boon is, or was, using this religious freedom nonsense as a counter-claim. It is a means of disputing the facts of the matter. It is probably coincidental but since I started writing about this, ADF has backed off. Vander Boon has not been part of the daily Christian weepfest.

There are four pleas and links in Boykin's email to sign some silly petition to Donald Trump:
We, the undersigned, are Christian Americans who ask that you immediately sign an Executive Order to protect religious freedom.
I think that Trump has done what he is going to do. If one “signs” the petition it does the expected. The landing page is a money-beg and FRC has succeeded in confirming an email address. Ultimately this is all about money. The porous narrative is less relevant than driving people to the supposed petition so that they are exposed to a gimme.

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