Category Archives: Society

Religion playing the victim in Prop 8 hearing

In what is likely the most ironic assertion made since Ann Coulter called liberal women ugly, The Catholic News Agency claimed Catholicism to be a target of religious bigotry on the part of California gay marriage advocates. Says the article:

“Today, religion has taken the stage, front and center, in the battle over the constitutionality of Prop. 8 and is being portrayed as an illegitimate basis for supporting traditional marriage. Religious bigotry surely found expression in today’s presentation by the plaintiffs,” he charged.

“To suggest that the people of California cannot consider their own political, moral and religious views when casting their vote on Prop. 8 is preposterous,” Pugno continued, adding that many issues are presented to voters that involve moral questions.

This is a straw man that my 12 year old could knock down in his sleep and sidesteps the very real and important issue that despite over 200 years of separation of church and state, the church continues to attempt to guide public policy through its adherents.

The facts are these: the right to marry was given to gay and lesbian couples. That right was taken away by the tyranny of the majority in large part due to out of state religious groups with deep pockets. The Mormon church was a key proponent of Prop 8 while operating out of Utah. If the residents of Utah are that concerned with the state of California’s public policy, perhaps they should start donating some cash to assist with  the beleaguered state’s budgetary woes. If one is going to say that the states should make up their own minds, then LET THEM. Do not sanctimoniously claim that none but the people of each state should choose which policy to embrace and then embroil yourself in that choice.

Further, the Constitution exists to protect the rights of the individual from the tyranny of the majority. To have a court interpret the constitution in such a way that rights are afforded equally among its citizens and then remove that right by appealing to the basest fears and prejudices of its citizens flies directly in the face of what it means to claim ‘freedom and justice for all.’

Most importantly: appealing to any citizen’s religious beliefs in order to perpetrate discrimination against any group is not only ethically reprehensible, it is unconstitutional. As soon as ANY leader claims anyone should vote a certain way because ‘it’s what God says,’ the United States Constitution has ceased to be followed. No law shall be made based on religious belief. If the people of the great state of California want to play at being legislators, then they need to follow the law. Not god’s law, the law of the United States of America and the state of California, which dictates a separation of church and state.  I don’t care what your personal beliefs are. The second they start infringing on the rights of others, you lose your credibility and your claim that you love this country.

Why advocacy ‘journalism’ has done nothing but hurt

Like most expressways to the netherworld, the road to populist political hell began with the best of intentions. Everyone is expected to take part in the electoral process, so everyone feels they have a right to know what’s going on. They do. Unfortunately, politics is by nature a complicated beast. There’s a lot of legal Latin involved and the nuances frequently go over the heads of even the politicians and analysts who studied politics for years, so it was no surprise that Joe Schmo in Regular Americaville missed about half of it. The demand for politics explained simply for ‘the common man’ (hate that phrase) was high.

Enter the radio talk show. At first, the political analysts used proper legal terminology and the listener was expected to keep up. If they couldn’t…too bad, go get a copy of de Tocquville you illiterate idiot. See? Perceived bias. Inferred even if not implied, it seemed political commentary favored the ‘intellectual elite.’ Clearly, a response was needed. A commentator able to interpret the goings-on in our system so that everyone felt involved in the political process. And so advocacy journalism was born, although it was not given that moniker initially. Radio hosts with politics explained simply so that everyone could understand.

Unfortunately, because breaking politics down into simple language requires interpretation, perceptions and opinions were conveyed with those interpretations. The bias became more pronounced, and it had a very one side of the aisle feel. Clearly, a response was needed.

And so with each iteration, we have gotten further and further away from reasoned political commentary. The loudest voices get the biggest share, and the way to keep it is by lionizing ‘the other side.’ All the while not even noticing that ‘the other side’ is just more of us, people we see on the street every day, in the office, at home. Us & them, ad infinitum. No longer people, just two dimensional representations of ‘everything that’s wrong with this country.’

Thus, we arrive at a place in which a coworker can passionately and unequivocally state his intense hatred of a man he has never met and has held office for (at the time of the pronouncement) less than a year.

How do we pull back? I don’t know, but pull back we must while there is still a feeling by most that we are all us, while the fringe that perceives a ‘them’ is still a minority. But it is a growing minority, and we need to take heed and correct the situation soon.

Sarah Palin & Fox News: Who didn’t see this coming?

In a move that should shock absolutely no one, Fox News has signed Sarah Palin as an ‘occasional commentator.’ Palin joins former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and former White House aide Karl Rove, giving Fox the trifecta for malicious fearmongering and blatant misinformation.

Any previous laughable attempt to call the network ‘fair and balanced’ pretty much meets its death with this deal. Asking Sarah Palin to provide creditable political commentary is like asking Slobodan Milosevic for an objective opinion on Albanian citizenship.

‘It’s my right to know my wife’s sexual history.’

This is what I heard on the way in to work this morning. Usually I try to listen to stations without morning shows, but it’s difficult to find such an animal in a metro area considering my demographic and musical preferences. Had the dj not used the word ‘right,’ I would have changed the station. Once he asserted a right, however, I was hooked. Call it recreational outrage.

A listener had called in and was complaining to the dj about his relationship as for some reason, listeners are wont to do (and WHY? What is it that causes some people to vent the most intimate moments of their lives to a listening audience of indeterminate size?! ). He explained that his sex life with his wife had grown somewhat stale and he wanted to spice things up by watching porn together. She told him she had done it before with a previous boyfriend and she didn’t enjoy it. He then badgered her for the name of the boyfriend she had watched porn with, saying it was his ‘right’ to know. The dj egged him on, agreeing with him. At that point, I popped in a CD. Green Day I’ve heard a thousand times was far preferable.

I’ve been mulling this over since I heard the discussion, trying to find which part bothers me the most and why. I think it breaks down this way:

  1. No one has a right to their spouse’s past and it pisses me right off when anyone asserts otherwise. You may want to know and have personal limits which necessitate knowing your SO’s/spouse’s history more fully before being able to trust that person completely. That’s understandable and even laudable. After all, when you’re in a romantic relationship you want to make sure this person is the right one for you. But you do not have a right to know their past. Nor do they have a right to know  yours. If that man’s wife’s past was so significant to him, why didn’t he ask her about it more fully before marrying her? Especially if it was a trust issue. If you simply cannot fathom marrying a person without getting to know every intimate detail of their prior sex lives, that should have been cleared up long before he slipped the ring on her finger.
  2. How is knowing  the name of the person she watched porn with in any way important? Why does it matter? His stammered answer of ‘I just wanna know…’ was barely an excuse, much less an explanation. Yes, I get that you want to know. What I want to know is why it matters? From what I can tell, when one asserts a ‘right’ followed by a demand, it’s an implication of ownership. You don’t own your partner or their past. This smacks heavily of insecurity. The problem does not lie with the person with the past, but the person who can’t let go of said past.
  3. ‘You did it with him, why won’t you do it with me?!’  This was something else the caller kept asking. This had me yelling at the radio. Think about it. Is there nothing in your past that you wouldn’t do or haven’t done with your current partner? Either because you don’t enjoy it or for one reason or another, don’t feel comfortable trying it with that person? Comfort levels and what turns you on vary from partner to partner. That’s just the way it is. Sex is subjective. Get over it.
  4. You want to ‘spice up’ your physical relationship. Your wife tells you she doesn’t like what you want to try. Is that the only option you can come up with? It has to be porn or it won’t work? The end? And then you complain that it’s all her fault. Let me ask you. Has your wife ever insisted that you try something sexual that makes you uncomfortable and you don’t like? That would be pretty selfish of her, wouldn’t it? So then why is it okay for you to do it to her? We’re back to the ownership thing. Your wife’s body is not your personal property, it’s hers. Here’s an idea: FIND SOMETHING YOU BOTH ENJOY. Other than porn. It doesn’t have to end the experimentation just because she said no to one thing. Hell, there are tons of books out there on the subject. You can read, can’t you? Your relationship is worth it, no? Here. Hot Monogamy is probably one of the better of those, as it helps BOTH partners work toward keeping their sex life fun and enjoyable.
  5. I don’t know what planet this guy came from, but here on Earth, badgering a woman to death to do something sexual is a sure fire way to make sure she a) never wants to try it and b) resents the hell out of you forever if she does. Badgering gets you nowhere fast. Try using language that won’t put her on the immediate defensive. Ask her what she would like to try. Women like seduction. Watching other people screw does not fall under that category, sorry.

Sex isn’t just physical, it’s emotional and psychological. If you can’t be bothered to put in a little work, why should she get bothered about you? Putting it all on one partner (male or female) and expecting that person to fix it is a recipe for disaster. Just like the rest of a marriage, the physical side requires work. It doesn’t just happen. And FFS, stop calling radio dj’s for advice. How much sex do you think you’re going to get when the person you want to have sex with finds out you’re sharing your private lives with the entire Dallas Metro area?

The Reason for The Season? Whatever You Want.

Last week, the darling man forwarded a meme laden Christmas spam letter. He and I had a lot of fun tearing apart the various little logical fallacies and appeals to emotion contained therein (I’ll go ahead and post it below). One of the things that struck me was how HARD the person who originally wrote this (if it wasn’t just spit out by some meme machine) tried to convey their outrage at their holiday being trampled… TRAMPLED I TELL YOU!… by the godless heathens who wanted their mid-winter holiday acknowledged, too. ‘IT ISN’T FAIR!’ the email seems to be screeching. They appear to be under the impression that by recognizing other cultures and religions, that somehow translates into THEIR religion being completely ignored.

First amendment aside (you remember. The one that says all religions are equally valid in the eyes of the law?), it’s a pretty selfish, uncharitable and distinctly un-Christian attitude to take. Jesus’ birth (which took place ’round about April for those of us able to count) was not the first mid-winter holiday. Nor did it supplant all others. We live in an amazing, wonderful time and place in which everyone is able to celebrate their own chosen mid-winter festival, whether it’s Christmas or any one of many others like the solstice, Modranect, Diwali, Yule, Sadeh, Rosh Hashana, the Saturnalia or even Festivus with the Costanzas. Whichever of these anyone celebrates, it is because it’s what is meaningful to them, not out of some desire to stomp all over someone else’s celebration. So have a cup of egg nog, kiss under the (pagan) mistletoe and get over yourselves already.

The email (complete with my and the dm’s responses):

Twas the Month Before Christmas

*Twas the month before Christmas*
*When all through our land,*
*Not a Christian was praying*
*Nor taking a stand.*

Give me a freakin’ break. Nobody takes a stand or jerks their knees *faster* than the “Christians.” If they even remotely perceive their precious traditions or “values” are being infringed upon, they start screaming from the rooftops about their rights and how they’re being “overrun,” despite being 85% of the population. I guess the “Christian” value of “sharing” just sort of fell by the wayside…

*See the PC Police had taken away,*
*The reason for Christmas – no one could say.*
Which is? Ditto. Cite?

*The children were told by their schools not to sing*

*About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.*

Let us make this perfectly clear. NO ONE is told they cannot pray in school. They are told they cannot lead others in prayer, and that the schools cannot endorse any religion. THAT is the state espousing one particular religion over others, and THAT is against the first amendment. Were the school or teachers to expect children to read from the Torah, wouldn’t you be howling the place down? However. For the sake of clarity, please see Everson v. Board of Education, here: http://members.tripod.com/~candst/tnppage/eclause1.htm

*It might hurt people’s feelings, the teachers would say*

And this isn’t because Christians are having their feelings hurt? Well. Only Christian feelings matter, after all…..everyone else is just a heathen…

* December 25th is just a ” Holiday “.*

It’s one of many…  isn’t it? And, not even the original mid-winter holiday. But that’s not important right now….

*Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit*
*Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!*

Makes you wonder where all the “Christians” who shop at Wal Mart got to…..

*CDs from Madonna, an X BOX, an I-pod*
*Something was changing, something quite odd! *
*Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa*
*In hopes to sell books by Franken & Fonda.*

So…  this is a libr’l thing? Rush Limbaugh Is A Big, Fat Idiot is one of my favorite books….

*As Targets were hanging their trees upside down*

Do they get that the trees are a cultural symbol and not a religious one?  (Pagan tradition trumped again) OMG!! UPSIDE DOWN!?!?! Like an upside down cross??!! OH NOES!!

* At Lowe’s the word Christmas – was no where to be found.*
*At K-Mart and Staples and Penny’s and Sears*
*You won’t hear the word Christmas; it won’t touch your ears.*

Dude! That totally sucks that they’re the only stores in the entire country we can shop at! And it’s, like, really, RILLY important to me that they not acknowledge other holidays, because my god is the bestest and they need to, like, totally acknowledge that instead of attempting to cater to as many customers as possible and bolster their bottom lines, even if they are corporations.

*Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-si-ty*
*Are words that were used to intimidate me. *

They sound indignant… I hate it when people tell me to be all tolerant and stuff….Wait! What’d that guy in the New Testament say about tolerance? I forget….

*Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzen*

Ah…  more libr’ls… Yeah, but c’mon… Wolf Blitzer gets on my last nerve, too.


*On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton !*

Because Democrats don’t have God on their side…. We have that scary science thing. We’re not allowed to have god. Apparently.

*At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter*
*To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.*

Isn’t this a bit of an over characterization? Sadly, yes. But considering they had to make it rhyme, and couldn’t come up with a good one for national policy, it stretches. Sorta.

*And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith*

Took it away?!?!  WTH??? Is your faith so flimsy that retailers not expressing your specific holiday sentiment will take it away?

* Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace*

By whom? When? Was the first amendment repealed and nobody told me?

*The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded*

Probably forgot to keep the receipt….


*The reason for the season, stopped before it started.*

Jesus’s birth?  I’m getting confused… Jesus wasn’t born now? He was. Just…not in December. I think Christians try very hard to ignore that. Let’s look at it logically (if that is for a moment possible). When Jesus was born, the shepherds were “watching over their flocks by night.” On the high steppes of Israel , there’s really only one time they do that, which is during lambing season, which is typically, y’know, Spring. Not December. The Eastern Orthodox church continued to reject Dec. 25th as “Christmas” til around 529 AD, and in 567, the Council of Tours proclaimed the 12 days from Dec. 25th to the epiphany as a “sacred season,” thus stepping all over the pagan mid-winter festival.

*So as you celebrate “Winter Break” under your “Dream Tree”*
*Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me. *

So….it should be called a “Christmas tree,” right? Because, renaming it is wrong, and totally goes against what the true spirit of the holiday means? K. Do me a favor, too. Right now, before you do anything else. Go find a bible and look up Jeremiah, ch. 10 verses 1 through 5-ish, and see what Jesus said about hanging out with people who put trees in their homes in mid-winter. Then get back to me about how changing the name of something doesn’t change the intent. You don’t even wanna *know* what mistletoe used to get you. Kissed would be putting it mildly.

*Choose your words carefully, choose what you say*

*Shout MERRY CHRISTMAS ,
not Happy Holiday !*

And show everyone that nobody’s allowed to have a holiday but Christians!!1!ELEVENTY!

Happy New Year, Everyone. Celebrate. The days are getting longer. I mean…for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, I guess for people in Australia and New Zealand….ah, the hell with it.

Ohio Science Teacher Accused of Teaching Creationism In Hearing Today

Despite overwhelming evidence of a First Amendment violation, Mt. Vernon middle school was not allowed to simply terminate John Freshwater in 2008. The school has spent months and hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, money that should have rightfully gone to educating students, in order to justify the termination to an independent committee.

Yet despite knowing exactly what he is taking from students and the school district, Mr. Freshwater has dragged out this hearing to a ridiculous length; 14 months and counting. He has lied multiple times during testimony. He has attempted to manipulate and misdirect. It is unconscionable and beyond the comprehension of this atheist how anyone could still call themselves a Christian while behaving in the manner this man has behaved.

Creationism and ID have caused nothing but confusion and detracted heavily from actual science. The insecurity felt by fundamentalists when confronted with scientific research in no way places a burden upon scientists to falsify data to satisfy religious dogmatic teachings.

John Freshwater has not demonstrated a single reason why he should continue to be trusted with the education of Ohio’s children and several as to why he should not. Sadly, instead of taking those children into consideration and simply accepting the termination, he seems intent on causing as much damage as possible.

The Sad, Strange Case of Akmal Shaikh

In about 6 hours, a man is going to be put to death in China. His name is Akmal Shaikh. He’s not a hero. He wasn’t jailed for civil unrest or condemned for speaking out against China’s humanitarian transgressions. He is, quite simply, a British national whose mind has betrayed him and led him through a fantasy life as people are sometimes led through a fun house hall of mirrors.

Shaikh left his wife and children for a life on the streets in Poland trying to become alternately an airline magnate and a pop star. He criss crossed the country, sometimes staying in homeless shelters writing hundreds of emails to Tony Blair, Paul McCartney and George W Bush. In his madness, he met a man named ‘Carlos’ who promised to help him become famous. At some point in 2007, while convinced he was on his way to meet music executives, he boarded a plane with a suitcase carrying £250,000.00 worth of heroin from Tajikistan into China. This was seized by customs officials. Shaikh insisted he knew nothing of the drugs, that his friend, due on the next plane, would help explain everything. The friend never showed.

Though mental illness is usually taken into account for severe crimes, the Chinese government takes a very dim view toward drug trafficking. Shaikh was sentenced to death. The British Foreign Office was not even informed of his sentencing until late in 2008, and Shaikh himself was not told of his sentence until 24 hours prior to the scheduled execution.

And so the tale of this very ill man will come to an abrupt end far from his children and family in a little less than six hours. His family, ill from anxiety from the coming execution, can do nothing. Appeals have been put through at the highest level. All that can be done is to wait.

My own governor as recently as 5 years ago denied clemency to a mentally ill inmate for a crime far more heinous (IMO) than drug trafficking. Where do we draw the line? Shaikh, for his deluded fantasies, seems a harmless character. My support for the death penalty waivers when faced with such cases.