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.

Advertisements

Texas Atheists Host Kids’ Camp

Something encouraging is happening in the state of Texas. Children who would otherwise feel compelled to keep their religious beliefs to themselves found out they’re not alone. In a state like Texas, where God is a daily topic of conversation, that can be difficult to find. As a transplanted Californian coming from a place where religion is everyone’s choice not an expectation, I can state without hesitation that finding secular friends here can be daunting. I can’t even imagine how hard a 12 year old child must find it.

Another boy, 14, whose stepfather requested his anonymity, started home-schooling this year after enduring years of bullying for his open atheism.

This is simply unacceptable. We teach our children that people of other faiths should be respected. Why can that not extend to atheists as well? I will never understand the mind set that ignorance is a trait we should instill in our kids.

I’m thrilled this camp is here. We missed out on sending our youngest this year. Hopefully next year they will be doing a full week of camp, and he can meet some kids who not only share his love of science and the natural world, but don’t feel the need to insert a god into discussions about them.

Pope Blames Global Warming on Atheism

Thank you to the kind reader that sent this article to me. I’m as gobsmacked as you are. Clearly Catholic guilt is being taken in a new and exciting direction. For everyone else, I will now explain what I’m blathering on about.

After the Pope makes a public announcement or address, it is translated and released on Catholic.net. In his most recent speech, Pope Benedict said:

Is it not true that inconsiderate use of creation begins where God is marginalized or also where is existence is denied? If the human creature’s relationship with the Creator weakens, matter is reduced to egoistic possession, man becomes the “final authority,” and the objective of existence is reduced to a feverish race to possess the most possible.

Creation, matter structured in an intelligent manner by God, is entrusted to man’s responsibility, who is able to interpret and refashion it actively, without regarding himself as the absolute owner. Man is called to exercise responsible government to protect it, to obtain benefits and cultivate it, finding the necessary resources for a dignified existence for all.

So now, it’s the fault of atheists that we have global climate change. Never mind that until recently the church refused to acknowledge that such a thing existed. Now that it’s impossible to ignore, at least we can blame the atheists! It wasn’t C02 emissions that killed the ozone layer. It was a refusal to acknowledge God. The mind boggles.

Michelle Duggar Pregnant Again/Carrie Prejean Sues Miss California Pageant

I’m making this a twofer. Call it an homage to Snarkywood. “Celebrities I wish would just go away already.”

Let’s start with Michelle Duggar. Today, the Duggars announced the impending arrival of their 19th child. I have not the words to tell you just how selfish I find this type of behavior. First: My god, woman! A vagina is not a clown car! Second: how can one possibly expect to care for children you already have if one is constantly having new children? Kids need you to be a mom. Being a mom means more than simply popping out a fresh human every ten months or so. Kids need guidance and love and attention and above all, a mom who doesn’t have such a short attention span that she hands one baby off to her daughters to care for while she gets ready for the next. After a certain number, multiple births stand a real chance of killing a woman. Is reproducing so important to you that you’re willing to die to do it, leaving your children orphans?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for motherhood. I love my children desperately. I do not for a second question my impact on their lives. In fact, I know that impact is so deep, that I would question sending that kind of message to them.  Is that what you should be telling your daughters? Have babies, that’s all you’re ever meant to do? I know my girls well enough to know they have real plans for their lives. While children probably enter into those plans, they should never be shamed into giving up their dreams because someone tells them their ‘biological  (or religious) purpose’ is children.

And speaking of religious idiots: Carrie Prejean is back in the news. The former Miss California is seeking damages for “religious discrimination, slander, libel, public disclosure of private facts, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress.”

Give. Me. A break. The woman posed topless then lied about it on her pageant application, bilked the pageant itself for several thousand dollars to pay for her implants, generally acted like a prima donna about the entire damn gay marriage issue (own it, Carrie, you made a WAY bigger deal out of it than Perez ever dreamed) and then flat out refused to make good on her public appearance obligations. Know what this lawsuit is? Nothing more than the dying gasp of a famous for being famous celebrity that recognizes the end of her fifteen minutes.

Stop it with the Nazi thing already.

No, really. Everything is NOT comparable to the attempted annihilation of an entire race and the ensuing World War that followed. Enough already. The offenderati are out in droves, and they can’t stop dragging out the cross (or swastika, as the case may be) and climbing up onto it. Everyone is being attacked by Nazis. The attackers are all on a par with Hitler.

Let me clue you in, kids. Unless you and your families are being forced to wear gold stars to identify you as an inferior being, then forced at gun point onto trains to internment camps where you will be starved and (eventually) killed in the most grisly manner possible?….you are not being attacked by Nazis. No. No, you’re not. And it is just incredibly arrogant and ignorant all at the same time of you to pretend that’s what’s happening here.

Penn and Teller jabbing the Catholic Church for half an hour does not make them Nazis, no matter what Bill Donohue may want to think.

Barack Obama? NOT Adolph Hitler incarnate just because he wants everyone in the entire country to be healthy.

Getting your little kid in on the act is not heart tugging, by the way. It’s sick and stupid. The kid doesn’t even know what a Nazi is, and you’re loading him up with a swastika protest sign. Way to go. Enjoy the therapy bills.

Enough, people! Stop with the Nazi/Hitler crap already. We get it. You don’t like that you lost the election. It sucks. You hate it. Trust me, I’ve been there all too many times. And yes, it was just as wrong when people inaccurately compared Bush to Hitler. That doesn’t mean you should do it. I feel like I’m addressing a bunch of 6th graders. “If Rush jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge would you?”

We get that you’re angry. But you’re hurting your country in the process of throwing these little temper tantrums. Because really, that’s what they are. Tantrums. Enough. Time to be reasonable. Time to recognize that you are not the sole moral voice or even necessarily the correct moral voice of the country. The voice of the right has for so long been that of incoherence and anger, it now knows no other way to express itself. And that’s too bad, because incoherence and anger are not the guiding forces that should be running the country. Ignorance and self serving machismo brought us to the point of collapse.

Time to grow up, people. Not getting your way does not make those you oppose Nazis. It doesn’t even make them wrong.

I’ll Adopt Your Dog After the Rapture

As recently reported in the Telegraph, a group of enterprising atheists here in the states have offered to care for the left behind pets of Christians after the Rapture. Yup, for a small fee ($110.00) this thoughtful group of unbelievers will happily take care of your pet after you’ve gone up to heaven with Jesus.

You’ve committed your life to Jesus. You know you’re saved. But when the Rapture comes what’s to become of your loving pets who are left behind?   Eternal Earth-Bound Pets takes that burden off your mind.

Kind of a bummer they’re not here in Texas. I mean, talk about a natural market! I’m thinking about contacting them just to see what they say about expanding here. I’d even put fliers on doors. OOo! Maybe leave some business cards at the mega church up the street!

After all. Atheists love pets, too.

Kentucky Dept. of Homeland Security to Remove God From State Law

As previously reported on my StumbleUpon blog, the Kentucky Dept. of Homeland Security decided the Constitution of the United States was being silly about no state sponsored religion and went ahead and put in language in its 2006 law insisting that:

the safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God.”

Pretty much handing down the edict that every citizen of Kentucky has to recognize God or the state won’t be safe. I’m going to give you a minute to think about that. A state legislature willfully ignored the Constitution of the United States and passed a law that was the equivalent of telling all its citizens that they had to clap their hands and say “I believe in fairies!” or the state would fall to terrorists.

Fortunately, there exists the group American Atheists. Along with ten other complainants, the American Atheists sued in federal court to have the language struck down. On Friday, Judge Thomas Wingate agreed:

“The statute pronounces very plainly that current citizens of the Commonwealth cannot be safe, neither now, nor in the future, without the aid of Almighty God. Even assuming that most of this nation’s citizens have historically depended upon God, by choice, for their protection, this does not give the General Assembly the right to force citizens to do so now.”

The original drafter of the Bill, Rep. Tom Riner, has said he will appeal. I think it’s worth noting that Rep. Riner is a minister and this underscores yet again my assertion that precisely because of issues like this, ministers should not be allowed political office in this country. They cannot serve two masters. God, for them, will always come first. As a result, our country will come second and suffer.

Religion, by its very nature, cannot help but attempt to control. That’s what it’s there for. To make rules. To guide toward a god and specifically, their doctrine. To allow religious leaders a place in our political  body is to open the door to theocracy.

I shall continue to follow this story with interest.