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Saturday, April 13, 2013

The evil of tolerance

I watched a video by Penn Jillette about how tolerance is condescending. While I agree with his broader point that this should be a marketplace of ideas where flawed ideas are shouted down, he missed a different aspect, a different face of tolerance. Tolerance, boiled down to its most basic form, says "I may not like you that much, and I may find you and your life morally repugnant, but I still give you permission to exist." Imagine going to your child and saying, "I tolerate you, son/daughter." If he or she is old enough to understand, the child would be right to run out after bursting into tears. I don't like tolerance. I have no use for it, and no patience with it. I find it repugnant and anathema to any definition of decency. Instead, I prefer acceptance. Let's go back to that earlier example. Imagine going to your child and saying, "I accept you and love you just the way you are, son/daughter." There may be tears involved, but those will be of joy, of relief, of happiness.

I'm now in my mid 30s, and I still haven't come out of the closet as an atheist. I hope when that time comes, I will be met with acceptance instead of hearing my mother blame herself or ask me why I'm not a better man, simply because I no longer believe in some invisible being. It is a fear I've lived with every day for years. I want her to accept me and love me even though I no longer share her beliefs, beliefs I grew up with. Still, I'm thankful for this experience because it has taught me, in some very small measure, what it must be like to be a member of the QUILTBAG community: hiding who you are, fearing being ostracized, keeping inside your heart or on an anonymous keyboard exactly how you think and what you feel. It has made me a better, more compassionate person. It has also made me determined to spot bigotry and confront it when I see it. I have no tolerance for bigots of any flavor, because I refuse to negotiate with or accept evil. As we all know, evil is not just a religious term; rather, it is a moral one.

So yes, tolerance is evil. It is condescending, and it is wrong. Instead, accept people for being who they are and be decidedly intolerant of bigotry, hate, and those banal forms of human evil.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Slow week, so God Particle and Katie Holmes

I decided I'd go with two news stories I don't fully understand. I get the Higgs Boson is a huge deal, but as I am not a particle physicist, I'm not even going to guess how this will change science as we know it. I just know that it's huge, and I wish CERN, ATLAS, and all other scientists keep up the good work. Once again, science has proven a natural cause for something the religious would have you believe is supernatural.

The thing I don't understand about Katie Holmes is why she married Tom Cruise. I get this was before the release of his video that launched over 9,000 protests. Still, long before then, the fact he is completely batshit insane was pretty clear to anyone who was paying attention. I'm very glad she has finally left his malign influence. On various news shows, I've heard the rumor repeated that Katie may have feared Suri would be taken to some sort of reeducation camp. While that link is to a story by the respected Aussie news show, Today Tonight, the same and worse is alleged to have happened here in the United States. Based on the extensive research I have done, those fears, if she has them, are not only warranted, but highly reasonable. I would like to express my respect for the paparazzi who brought the creepy private investigators to her attention, especially given their history of "fair game".

Thankfully, in observance of the Independence Day holiday, the Supreme Court has not eroded our civil rights today. I'm sure they'll resume their work of destroying the freedoms we hold dear this fall. I'm a liberal, and I don't hate America. I could never hate America. Instead, I mourn her passing, every single day.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Healthcare Reform passed constitutional muster.

Alternate title for this post: Because, GOP, fuck off. That's why.

If, by some strange chance, some conservatives come by here, I'll rise above your level and say "Neener neener neener. Told you so. Ppppttttthbbbbbbbbtttttttt." It was constitutional when Mitt Romney signed it into law as governor of Massachusetts, a state that has already seen significant savings and improvements to the quality of life, it's constitutional today, and it will be constitutional tomorrow. That said, I agree with Senator Patrick Leahy of, and do I really have to name a party, Vermont. This isn't the end of the fight to save the lives of our poor. This is a good first step. It's considerably less than what I wanted, and President Obama wasted a great deal of time and effort trying to appeal to the nonexistent better angels of today's extremist GOP. He added multiple provisions at their behest in an attempt to get bipartisan support, and after they agreed they would sign, they put more roadblocks. Hearing Tom Price, former orthopedic surgeon and current lying jackass, have the temerity to claim President Obama never really wanted a bipartisan plan and instead just pushed something through is just utter bullshit. He should know better. He's poorly served Georgia's 6th Congressional District since 2005. He was there. I have a lot of criticisms of President Obama, and most of them stem from one aspect of his character: he mistakenly believes he's dealing with a principled opposition, possibly because he wants to believe better of them than the evidence warrants. Hell, he's running on the GOP platform of 1990. He's doing exactly what the GOP has been saying was good for decades, and now that he's done it, they want to piss and moan like the little bitches they are and cry "socialism". President Obama is not a socialist. Hell, he's not even a liberal by reasonable standards. He's center-right, and the only reason he seems liberal is because his opposition belongs in their local chapter of the John Birch Society, Klansmen's hoods, a mental hospital, or some combination of the three. I apologize if anyone is offended by my inclusion of Eric Cantor in those three categories. I never should have hinted he belongs in a mental hospital.

Finally, if I haven't mentioned that the GOP can all go fuck themselves until they can pay a surgeon to remove their heads from their asses, I apologize. I hope this suffices.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Mormon Question: Mitt Romney edition

Looking back on my days as a Mormon, and this was something I knew even back then, there are some things that are just strange about that faith. That said, the underlying premise, that a Jewish rabbi was nailed to a tree, died, woke up three days later, then partied with his followers, and was all-knowing but got basic geography and physics wrong, is pretty fucking weird. That's where Mormons agree with their fellow Christians. If you really think of it, though, all religion is weird. The Trinitarian Christians, who form the solid majority, believe that God talked about His Son, but His Son was actually Him, and then the Holy Spirit was still just God all along. They also believe that the God who preached love but had an anger management problem in the New Testament was all about smiting enemies and committing genocide in the Old Testament. Oh, and they think he'll rise up from the dead again, even though his last spurious sighting was just shy of two millennia ago. Let's not even get into the Zoroastrian influences on early Christianity and Islam. I won't get into what Muslims believe because, frankly, my knowledge is sorely lacking. Still, I'm pretty sure that it's as weird as Christianity. Buddhists believe you keep being reincarnated as various animals until you reach enlightenment, and if you suffer in this life, it's payback for something that happened in your previous life, so fuck sympathy. Jews believe some Neolithic fiction writers are the be-all and end-all of wisdom, as interpreted over the millennia by those poor souls tasked with making sense out of laws that were written when the first civilizations were being formed.

All of this still makes more sense than Scientology, who believe the souls of aliens were dumped from space ships resembling DC-8s into volcanoes that didn't even exist 75 million years ago, and those souls are the source of all human suffering, examples of which are every Tom Cruise movie since Rain Man. They also think human trafficking and enslavement, torture (Lisa McPherson), and child labor law violations (Daniel Montalvo lawsuit) are just a-okay. At least with Catholicism, critics are not subjected to torment from their intelligence department as Scientology did in Operation Snow White, which remains the largest infiltration of the United States government in our nation's history.

This post was initially about Mitt Romney, and I will bring it back to him. There are those here in Alabama who will not vote for him because he's a Mormon, no matter if they agree with whatever he's being paid to believe this week. They hate his religion, and that's wrong. They should hate him for being a job-destroying douchebag and moderately functioning sociopath who likes to fire people and strap dogs to the roofs of cars. He's also the de facto head of a party who believes the proper punishment for being poor is death through preventable and easily treated illnesses and injuries. That's why I would hate him, if I cared enough about him to do so.

Finally, I leave you with this, just for teh lulz.

In the name of Raptor Jesus, rAmen.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Mars One, a plan for the colonization of Mars

Mars One, a Dutch group, has launched a daring attempt at the colonization of Mars, with the goal of a founding population of 40 individuals. That got me thinking: What type of skills will they need, and what will their government resemble? The first is pretty obvious. They need at least one doctor, engineers, biologists (who can be doctors at first), geologists who would become the first areologists to directly examine large swaths of the planet, and other related fields. Just as important as the physical needs, though, are their legal needs. What will their constitution look like? I am unfamiliar with the Dutch legal system or the mistakes they have made over the centuries that they would like to address. However, I am quite aware of America's constitution and its failings. With that in mind, I have a few humble suggestions.

1) All sentient beings (hereafter referenced as "people") are created equal and are endowed with the rights of free speech, free assembly, and the freedom to have or not have any religious beliefs they so choose, as long as those beliefs actively harm none.

2) The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and their modern equivalents, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

3) Cruel and unusual punishment, including, but not limited to, torture and capital punishment, is expressly forbidden. If committing an act during war would be considered a war crime, that is torture as defined by this paragraph. Also, excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed.

4) No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of liberty or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

5) When the population gets to a point this is a realistic possibility, acts of war, except in response to a direct attack, are forbidden.

6) All have the right to health care at no cost, as it is part and parcel of Article 7 listed below.

7) Article I Section 8 of the United States Constitution is accepted in full, except where it is not relevant to Mars and/or directly contradicts any of the other paragraphs in this section.

8) The privileges of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, and no Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

9) In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

10) When new exculpatory evidence becomes available, those already incarcerated have the right to an impartial review of their case.

11) All persons have the right to consume any substance they choose, as long as they harm none in the process. Addicts should be treated with compassion and with the goal of treatment and rehabilitation.

12) All persons have the right to a living wage, paid with a negative income tax if necessary.

What suggestions do you have?

Monday, June 04, 2012

Bill Riales and Devon Walsh, go fuck yourselves.

I was watching WKRG 5 this morning when Bill Riales and the lovely Devon Walsh were discussing this story from Al Jazeera about the torture of prisoners at Guantanimo Bay. They laughed as though amused when they talked about the Elmo Song, among others, being used to torture prisoners. I agree. It's hilarious that the government, in our name, did the very things we have bombed cities and toppled governments over. It's deeply amusing that we have grossly violated Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions and the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, time and again. I can't stop laughing because our government, most notoriously under George W. Bush, violated Article VI (b) of the Nuremberg principles. I am shitting myself laughing because our nation, in this error-plagued "War on Terror", has systematically violated Articles 5 through 11, inclusive, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I mention all of these because these are our legal documents or international laws we have voted to support. It's the funniest fucking thing I've ever heard in my entire goddamned life!

During and after World War II, we treated our German and Japanese prisoners humanely, no matter what atrocities they may have ordered or supported, and ultimately got a lot of good intelligence from them. We didn't torture them. We interrogated them while holding true to our deepest, most precious principles, and this was before all of the international agreements listed above ever came into existence, though not before the Eighth Amendment, which itself was based on the English Bill of Rights of 1689. Part of that reason was principle, but part of that reason was the inaccuracy and utter worthlessness of "intel" based on torture. When one is tortured enough, eventually, he or she will say anything to make it stop. I disagree fundamentally with most of what Senator John McCain has said and done in his lengthy, undistinguished career. However, he has been a consistent moral voice against torture, based on his own experiences as a POW in Vietnam. We used to be a better nation than we now are. There was a time not too long ago that we would not have stood for this behavior, that we would have been horrified by that which has been done in our name, and when we would have risen up and demanded that those responsible be held accountable in a court of law. These are laws and principles that have been part of the governance of the United States and its predecessor colonies for over three centuries, and we have tossed them away so people could feel more "safe", without regard to the effectiveness of torture or the permanent stain this will leave on this nation's soul. If, as the Christians believe, this is "one nation under God," I ask them what type of god would support endless torture and indefinite detentions without hope of access to justice. I ask them what god would support the use of loud music for days on end, or waterboarding, or electric shocks, or the export of torture to those regimes who are even better at it than we are. I'm sorry. That last bit is euphemistically called "extraordinary rendition," except that's a lie just like "enhanced interrogation." They're both more properly called "exporting torture" and "torture." I ask them what type of god wept at the torture of His Son, yet smiles when thinking about the torture of His children, who in their world view, all humans are. To all who would support the use of torture in the name of a god, I say your god is none other than Satan, the irony being that LaVeyan Satanism is deeply influenced by the works of Nietzsche and Ayn Rand, the current darlings of the "Christian" Right. To all who would support the use of torture, I say your god is dead, and you killed Him through your hypocrisy and lies.

So, in closing, Bill Riales and Devon Walsh, go fuck yourselves. For the rest of us, we're already fucked.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

An amazing new artist, Arkasia

While I still like hard rock, metal, and related genres, lately, my tastes have run more towards trance and other forms of electronic music, mostly dubstep/Drum and Bass. This is an artist I just discovered about an hour ago. I've never heard of him before, but damn! That Frenchman is an artist! Enjoy.

Edit: The following quote is repeated in the above track, and it's worth reading. It was supposedly penned by President Abraham Lincoln in a letter to Colonel William Elkins, but the proof is thin. According to Snopes, this "quote" first appeared more than 20 years after his death, Regardless, it's an intriguing point, and regardless of its origin, it sounds an awful lot like what we've seen in the last two or three decades. Still, I think it was probably more an observation of what was happening in the 1880s-1890s than a prophecy of what was to come. This is food for thought, and I am very much nomming on it.

"The money power preys upon the nation in time of peace and conspires against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, more selfish than bureaucracy. I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me, and causes me to tremble for the safety of our country. Corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people, until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the republic is destroyed."

Friday, June 01, 2012

Thinking about green, not thinking Green.

It would be easy to think I switched everything to a green color scheme because of my change in political leanings. It would be easy, but wrong. Green's just been one of my favorite colors for as long as I can remember, along with blue. It could be that's just the way I'm wired, or maybe it's because of the beautiful, lush greenery everywhere I look on the Gulf Coast and the blue of the water here, even if I think Pensacola is prettier. Green is life. Cyanobacteria are blue-green, and they helped make life as we know it possible by liberating oxygen through photosynthesis. I think of the green of the golden watermelon I bought that was grown a county or two away in Mississippi, the green of the tomato plants and okra we had in our garden when I was a kid, and even the green of the kudzu that grows many places here. I think of the green the lawn we have to cut twice weekly in the summer, and the blue of the sky after a nasty thunderstorm. There is a lot wrong with Alabama, including my hometown, but nevertheless, I still love it for reasons I can't begin to understand, let alone express.

I know this is a dramatic shift from my previous posts, but this was just bubbling in my heart today. I had to express this, because this is who I am, and this is how I feel.

Click here for the Natalie Imbruglia video that last paragraph brought to mind. Looking back on it, 1997 was not that bad a year, compared to many that have followed. I miss the innocence this nation had somehow managed to retain even then.