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Saturday, April 30, 2005

People Who Piss Me Off: Parents who don't PARENT!

I guess that, unless you've been living under a rock for the last week, you've heard about the 5 year old brat who was arrested in Florida. After seeing that footage, I was struck by one thing, the same thought I have all too often when I go to virtually any public building, especially stores: HASN'T THAT KID EVER HAD HER BOTTOM WARMED?! I'm not talking about beating, because that's wrong. I'm talking about spanking, and there is a distinct difference. The child on that tape was systematically destroying that room, and when she tired of that, she resorted to HITTING a school official. For 30 minutes, this hellion's antics continued until the local boys in blue came to arrest her. People may debate whether or not giving the child the kind of bracelets no one wants was excessive, and that's fine. Guidelines need to be set. However, what should NOT be a topic for debate was whether or not the situation should have devolv ed to that level. It's very clear that, in direct opposition to what should have happened, what would've happened when I was a child, that it was the CHILD, not the adult, who was in control. This is wrong. Were it not for our culture that has so twisted things that the children have far more rights than the adults whose job it is to mold them into the good citizens of tomorrow, the administrator would have done the right thing and popped that kid on the ass, or called her mother, or put her in a corner in a room with nothing she could destroy, or done SOMETHING. I'm not all that old. I'm only 27 years old, but I would never have THOUGHT to behave that brattily when I was 5 years old, because I knew that I had actual PARENTS who would have made sure that I saw CONSEQUENCES to my bad behavior. That isn't to say that I wasn't raised in a loving environment, because nothing could be further from the truth. Growing up, I knew that I had parent s who loved me, and it was for that reason that they set boundaries so that I would grow up to be a responsible adult like I am. For that, I'm deeply thankful, and it is for that reason that I get so angry at parents today. People may think they're doing children a favor by coddling them, by insulating them from the consequences of their actions, but the reality is the exact opposite. They're doing children a grave disservice by allowing them rights without teaching them responsibility and the fact that every action has a consequence, and that if they want positive consequences, then they should engage in positive actions. By failing to teach children this early on, all her mother, and mothers and fathers just like her all over the nation have done, is create the next generation of people only qualified to flip burgers at best, and felons, swindlers, cheats, murderers, and other wards of the state at worst.

I don't think spanking is always necessary, and may not be effective for all children. The deeper point is that parents and adults in authority have to find punishments that work, whether that means removing their television, telephone, video game, play, and other privileges; or if that means tanning their bottom. This may cause the child some pain and discomfort now, but it's far better and kinder to have them face minor consequences now than to have them facing a judge 15 years from now and being ordered to spend several years in prison, or worse. Let parents be parents. The consequences of failing to do so are not worth it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

People Who Piss Me Off: Roy Moore

For those of you who haven't followed Alabama's latest serial-grandstander, frequent disregarder of the United States Constitution to which he once swore (apparently with his fingers crossed) to serve and protect, pinheaded pompous windbag, and the biggest embarassment to blight our state since George Wallace, you may know him as the "Ten Commandments Judge". However, I refer to him as "That Fucking STUPID Nebbish," or TFSN for short. I said years ago, when he was still just a lowly circuit court judge and therefore only had the ability to humiliate a county or two, and had first pulled a similar stunt that he was going to make a play for the Governor's Mansion one day. So, what does he do when he clobbers a far more qualified and intelligent candidate for the office of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of Alabama? In the dark of night, he and a few of his (brownshirts would be a touch too strong, so I'll stick with "zealots") plop a 5280 lb. (2397 kg) monument of the Ten Commandments in a prominent position of a building that he, as Chief Justice, legally controlled as part of the duties of his office. But not only did it have the Ten Commandments. It also had very pro-religious quotes and quotes from the Founding Fathers cut and pasted into an extremely different context from that in which they were originally written, all of which made it not only a very clearly Christian monument, but one that was geared especially towards his extremely conservative faith with its unabashedly evangelical bent. He challenged it all the way to the United States Supreme Court, and at all levels of the federal court system, he was, to use far coarser language than the judges involved, an asshole and to remove that eyesore from public view. When told by the United States Supreme Court the same thing he'd been told by all of the lower levels of the federal court system, and was told that the State of Alabama would face significant daily fines for each day it remained after a generous grace period to remove it, he kept it there, not caring about the financial duress in which the state was mired at the time, and not caring that even other church leaders, not to mention many others of my fellow Alabamans, wanted him to remove it. Eventually, his other eight Associate Justices voted to remove him from office, as they apparently felt that any judge who didn't respect the law shouldn't be on the bench. I applauded their act then, and I continue to do so now.

After even more legal wrangling, his impeachment was upheld. In my opinion, he and his asshole friends should've been forced to pay his legal fees, but apparently state law didn't allow for that. That was over a year ago. Since then, and even during the height of that scandal, his name has been oft mentioned in the mix for the gubernatorial election in 2006, a race he still has yet to commit to running, though it looks as though he's certainly considering it, if not outright leaning towards it. In my view, he needs to find a nice congregation of people like himself: self-involved assholes who define "persecution" as "not being allowed to force my religious views on everyone else." He should take that congregation and torment them until they wish for that hell that he and his fellow evangelicals like to use to threaten nonbelievers and thinking believers. I certainly know that if he were elected, I'd wish for hell. It would be better than Alabama at that point. I have no problem with Christians. Some of them are among the best people I've ever known. In fact, the single best woman I've ever met is among their number, and is about as conservative as William Buckley, only she's one of the gentlest but liveliest souls I've had the great pleasure and unspeakably deep honor of meeting. However, there is nothing meek, gentle, or thoughtful about Roy Moore. So Roy Moore, I ask of you that which our nation's parents ask of their kids: "Just Say NO!"

Saturday, April 23, 2005

People who Piss Me Off: Ann Coulter

I can honestly say that I would have no problem at all with her... If she didn't talk, or write, or appear in public. People from any area of the political spectrum should have no problem at all with saying that, physically, she's a very beautiful woman and could easily have been a model, with those long legs, movie star face, and other physical attributes. However, behind that beautiful face lies one of the most vicious, malignant minds in modern political discourse. The only reasons people know her name are because she was on Paula Jones' legal offense team and a quirk of genetics. Read or listen to what she has to say, and she will scare the hell out of you. True, she's no Matt Hale, but she makes even Bill O'Reilly seem warm and cuddly. (And isn't THAT a lovely mental image given his settlement of a sexual harassment lawsuit stemming from unwanted attempted phone sex with one of his producers.) But I digress. Below are some of her scarier quotes.

"The portrayal of Senator Joe McCarthy as a wild-eyed demagogue destroying innocent lives is sheer liberal hobgoblinism. Liberals weren't cowering in fear during the McCarthy era. They were systematically undermining the nation's ability to defend itself while waging a bellicose campaign of lies to blacken McCarthy's name. Everything you think you know about McCarthy is a hegemonic lie. Liberals denounced McCarthy because they were afraid of getting caught, so they fought back like animals to hide their own collaboration with a regime as evil as the Nazis." -- Ann Coulter, P. 10, Treason

"Whether they are defending the Soviet Union or bleating for Saddam Hussein, liberals are always against America. They are either traitors or idiots, and on the matter of America's self-preservation, the difference is irrelevant." -- Ann Coulter, P. 16 Treason

"McCarthy was a popularizer, a brawler. Republican elitists abhor demagogic appeals to working-class Democrats. Fighting like a Democrat is a breach of etiquette worse than using the wrong fork. McCarthy is sniffed at for not playing by Marquis of Queensbury Rules -- rules of engagement demanded only of Republicans. Well without McCarthy, Republicans might be congratulating themselves on their excellent behavior from the gulag right now." -- Ann Coulter, P. 70 Treason

"Gore said foreigners are not worried about 'what the terrorist networks are going to do, but about what we're going to do.' Good. They should be worried. They hate us? We hate them. Americans don't want to make Islamic fanatics love us. We want to make them die. There's nothing like horrendous physical pain to quell anger. Japanese Kamikazes pilots hated us once, too. A couple of well-aimed nuclear weapons got their attention. Now they are gentle little lambs." -- Ann Coulter, P. 230 Treason (side note: HOLY FUCKING SHIT!!! She makes Trent Lott look like a Kennedy.)

"Americans cannot comprehend how their fellow countrymen could not love their country. But the left's anti-Americanism is intrinsic to their entire worldview. Liberals promote the right of Islamic fanatics for the same reason they promote the rights of adulterers, pornographers, abortionists, criminals, and Communists. They instinctively root for anarchy against civilization. The inevitable logic of the liberal position is to be for treason." -- Ann Coulter, P. 292 Treason (side note: See the US Constitution to see how out of step she is with the definition of treason in the U.S. It should be noted that treason is the only crime specifically defined in the Constitution, so that people who simply express unpopular opinions as is their right under the First Amendment need not fear being sent to a gulag run by a shrill harpie like her.)

But for the worst, alas, I haven't the space or the attention span to post them here. So, instead, follow this link. I highly recommend this site as it explains, using Ann Coulter's own words, why she is such a dangerous, frightening individual. One of the few things that could make her more dangerous is if she were articulate, which, despite her graduation from law school, she is not. Her love of polemicism gets in the way.

Announcement, though it's a bit late:

Given the success of my last article called "People who Piss Me Off," I've decided to make it a regular feature on this blog. Of course, the measure of its success is that it made me feel a lot better, and it was fun. As far as I can tell, that's the only true measure of success in the blogsphere. The difference between me and many of the most pathological bloggers is that I know I'm full of shit at least occasionally, and as such, I don't take this too seriously. But everything I post is what I genuinely think. So if you like it, fine. If not, I allow and in fact welcome comments from anyone. Just don't expect a softball response, though those will happen.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

People who piss me off: Evangelicals

I think it's just precious when Evangelicals, mostly Christians in the U.S. but I'm not picky, go off on these incessant holier than thou rants about how they're "persecuted" every time a court ruling comes down that says they don't have the right to force their shrill, poorly-thought and even more poorly-expressed beliefs. When I say "Morning," I don't want to hear, "It's a good morning, because God saw fit to allow me to breathe air." When I'm working, I don't want to hear some probably well-intentioned individual singing some gospel hymn. I honestly can't imagine what non-Christians like myself, and other non-Evangelicals would find off-putting about being told that we're going to be tortured for all of eternity because we don't think like them, no matter how much good we do in this world, while Jeffrey Dahmer, if he were "Saved" before his death, would be in some form of Paradise. If Jeffrey Dahmer and other monsters are granted entrance into Paradise, I'd prefer Hell. It isn't "persecution" when someone is told that he or she cannot force his/her views on other people using taxpayer money. If you want to spout your mindless diatribes, you have that freedom in the U.S.; I just ask that you do it on your own dime and/or on your own property. Schools are about education, not religion. While I'm not against religious discussion in school, I'm only not opposed to it when it is discussed informally among classmates, or to explain the society and beliefs of a society when historic events occurred. I just don't want a teacher to preach to any child in any school that receives my tax dollars. But private schools? As long as at least the minimum standards for accreditation are met, it's their decision, and that of the parents that send them there.

To the Evangelicals, I can tell you exactly how to gain more lasting converts: Live your life well. Be a positive example to those around you. Be that candle that cannot be hid under a barrel. In short, be the type of good, humble, but happy and fun person that everyone wants to be around, help out your fellow man in whatever way you can, and be an example of the best your faith has to offer, BUT DON'T PREACH HELLFIRE AND BRIMSTONE OR SING GOSPEL SONGS FOR NO APPARENT REASON!!! In short, be like the deity you worship, and the people will come. Maybe not as many as happens by the showier methods, but more stable.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

In Memoriam: Pope John Paul II

He was a flawed man, as every one of us is, but I personally could not name one of those flaws, and that speaks very highly of him. He was a man who truly loved his fellow man, in accordance with the teachings of his faith, even going so far as forgiving and developing a friendship with the assassin whose bullet nearly took his life. That alone was such a remarkable display of Christianity in the best sense of the term that I cannot even begin to comprehend how he did it. I disagreed with him on capital punishment, abortion, birth control, and Iraq, and probably a few other issues I can't even think of right now, but unlike Mother Teresa of Calcutta, he was truly every bit as great as his reputation and, more remarkably, he didn't market his greatness, instead allowing his actions and words to speak for themselves.

And great actions indeed they were, the most significant of which were his speeches in Poland that Lech Walensa and others familiar with that time said were the most instrumental factor in getting the Solidarity movement started. That set off a chain reaction that eventually led to the destruction of an Evil Empire. While former United States President Ronald Reagan and the United Kingdom's Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher deserve quite a bit of credit, it was Pope John Paul II, survivor of both the Nazis and the Soviet communists, who set the foundation upon which they built. But Pope John Paul II didn't just speak. He acted, by providing fax machines and other communications equipment, as well as other logistical support and supplies, to the blossoming peaceful resistance through his priests and other church officials. For that, for his support of change through peaceful means, and for what he accomplished, he was truly the definition of two words that are sadly overused to the point that the original meaning has been lost in today's society: A survivor, and a hero.

But people will not remember him for that alone. Indeed, that is not what they will remember the most about him. They will remember him for his tireless efforts to foster dialogue and understanding among all faiths, and for his amazingly active schedule which saw him travel to more places to visit his flock and those in need than any pontiff before him. And they will remember the quiet dignity with which he lived his life, especially in his later years. This was truly a man who loved his fellow human beings, and while he left the world far better than he found it, the hole his absence leaves will be felt for some time to come. As an agnostic, I don't share his belief in an afterlife, but if ever one person deserved the reward his faith taught him to believe, it was Pope John Paul II. Rest in peace, beloved Bishop of Rome, Pope John Paul II, Karol Jozef Wojtyla. While you are no longer with us in body, your spirit, your ideals, your example, and your accomplishments live on.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

In memoriam: Terri Schiavo

Like many, I feel betrayed by a court system that failed to protect an innocent woman while being almost anticipatory in catering to the needs of convicted murderers. My heart truly goes out to the Schindler family who fought so hard and so long to save their daughter's life. I wish them solace and comfort during their time of grief. To Michael Schiavo and the judges, I wish all of you a very long life free of any problems beyond the normal ones everyone experiences from time to time. I wish you this so that you may have time to fully reflect on your decision in this case and have the opportunity to atone for this lapse in judgement, though whether or not any of you do will be between you and whatever Creator you believe in. And for Michael Schiavo, I also wish this for you so that you will have plenty of time to reflect on your lack of honor and its consequences.

And as a special aside to members of the Florida state legislature, that which I advocate is nothing less than something I almost invariably detest, but feel is warranted in this case: Grandstanding of the most blatant variety. Terri Schiavo was subjected to a death that, were it proposed, would get defeated as a form of capital punishment before even getting near the Governor's desk. If she were someone's dog, the person responsible for that treatment would receive significant fines and jail time. Had she been a convicted multiple murderer, any guards or other prison officials who did this would be getting their own orange jumpsuit and would probably never breathe free air again. Yet the courts allowed it for an innocent woman whose only "crime" was that of being disabled. So I say take it to the courts.