Here in the USA there is no ‘War on Christmas’, no ‘War on Christians’, and no ‘War on Religion’. There is only a war on inequality and in support of the Constitution. This is the time of year when we see many stories about how the horrible Atheists and Secularists are fighting to destroy everything the religious hold sacred.
The problem to me seems to be that if one group (the Christians) have been abusing their power by doing things which are unfair and illegal for a long enough time, they forget that what they are doing is wrong. It is as if your neighbor built a fence that encroaches on your property. For years he enjoys his extra large yard and then when you have the property surveyed and his fence torn down he throws a fit over your ‘taking’ away his land.
The truth is
- Religious displays on government property are illegal unless any group that wants can add their own display so the Satanists are in the right in Oklahoma
- Any group that wants can advertise that Christmas without religion (no Christ) is still a lot of fun and in fact almost everything we do at Xmas was ‘borrowed’ by the Christians (the sign in New York)
- Any private organization can instruct it’s employs to greet shoppers however they wish (“Happy Holidays”).
None of this is taking anything away from anyone that was rightfully theirs in the first place. So can we all just relax and admit that the whole thing is only a manufactured conflict to raise Fox News’ and others’ ratings?
A blogger whom I respect greatly (PZ Meyers Pharyngula ) asks “Who Deserves Honor” . His piece is so well written I can do no better than to restate his opening line “Today is the day when nations around the world pause to celebrate their most colossal failures, the events that killed the greatest numbers of their citizens, that broke and crippled their men after they’d been intentionally trained to dehumanize other human beings”. Yesterday (11/11) I thanked my father for his sacrifice in WWII and that is truth. Even more true is that the most honor should fall to those who have dedicated their lives to stopping the madness that swallowed up my father’s generation. A popular phrase these days is “American Exceptionalism” . Along with “My Country Right or Wrong” or “America Love it Or Leave it” these memes and the emotional attachments that we (and those in other countries) have to them are at the root of the horrors. Are we exceptional? Yes sometimes, but so are people all around the world and sometimes we are much much worse than average. It is time for us to stop pretending that Patriotism is following whatever path the leaders say is ‘right’ without regard to details and recognize that those who are willing to endue the hate of their fellows in order to demonstrate the truth about wars and the reasons we fight them, those are the real Patriots.
The DK effect is a cognitive error where those who are less skilled have a more definite unshakable conviction in their opinions than the experts. This is likely caused by the unskilled not being skilled enough to see their mistakes while the skilled understand the full complexity of the issue and recognize the possibility of mistakes. In our culture excellent examples (among hundreds) are the anti ACA people who are certain it will destroy the budget and health-care while the experts say it will save money, the anti GMO protesters who call GMO crops poison while the biologists and food professionals indicate that there is no danger, and those who demand that, despite the complete consensus by all trained biologists and scientists in every field, biblical creation (or some variation thereof) be taught at least along side of evolution. In our complex world we can not all know everything. If we are to live in a society where we have made the best choices, we cannot afford to let our personal preferences get in the way of the truth. When the skilled agree, making decisions based on our unskilled opinions is detrimental to our health.
Juror B29 in the ZImmerman murder trial is certain that Mr. Zimmerman committed a murder and that he should receive punishment for that act. She however eventually voted to acquit. In her interview she says ”But you can’t get away from God” . Herein lies another failure for belief in the nonexistent. It seems likely that one reason Maddy was willing to let Mr. Zimmerman go free is that she believes he will the punished in the after life. For thousands of years people have suffered and died with this sort of an excuse. It is time to stop using the unknowable as an excuse for real pain. Any society that allow imaginary repayment for real debts is inherently and horribly unjust.
The June 9 2013 article in the Tennessean ‘Businesses step up efforts to attract LGBT customers” was certainly a breath of fresh air. While I have seen huge movement toward acceptance in Nashville, there is still a long row to hoe for us to catch up with the more advanced areas of the country.
One point you did not mention I think is significant: Although there is a large audience in the LGBT market, I think the most significant impact of the ads is to let the much larger progressive heterosexual community know that those businesses are not bigoted and are supportive of human rights.
I, for one, am much more likely to give my business to a company that stands up for the rights of all people. Of course, there is also the chance of backlash, so I additionally applaud the courage of a business that will risk losing income in order to stand up for others.
Link To Letter in The Tennessean
Edward Snowden is beyond a doubt my hero. He has sacrificed a high-paying job and the ability to live as a free man in the U.S., to let us know that our government is violating our rights.
The Fourth Amendment clearly prohibits any search without warrants specifying who is being searched and why. This administration have chosen to completely ignore the Constitution, force Verizon to provide phone records and, even worse, appear to be reviewing my Google documents.
It is so sad to see that the 9/11 terrorist have won. We have lost many rights and trillions of dollars, things which they could not possibly have done — we now have done to ourselves.
Link to The Letter in The Tennessean
It is time to stop supporting the Boy Scouts of America (http://bit.ly/OORoDT) . By refusing utterly to accept reality in their leadership they have shown that they are either ignorant of the facts or are pandering to their homophobic base.
Of course I realize they are called the Boy Scouts not the Rational Scouts but the fact is that in this case they are acting like children. Open adult homosexual males are actually less likely to commit the sex crimes they seem to be worried about. They are no more attracted to young boys then they are to women. Allowing them to lead a group does not increase any risks and simply encourages and teaches bigotry.
In contrast the Girl Scouts allow not only lesbian troop leaders but have no problem with males being in leadership. I encourage anyone who supports the Boy Scouts or is affiliated with a group that allows them to meet to consider if you want to continue to do so.
(published in Tennessean Letters)
I am utterly amazed at the continual consternation and confusion concerning the question of Same Sex Marriage (SSM). Rationally it is clear and simple.
- In order to prohibit SSM there needs to be some reason
- The reasons must be either social (allowing SSM damages society as a whole or individuals in some manner) or religious
- If the reasons are religious any laws based on them are unconstitutional
- Therefore in order to prohibit SSM there must be societal issues
After years and years of these discussion I have heard only 2 societal reasons
- Marriage is for procreation and SSM does not pair humans who can procreate
- SSM makes some people very upset because they are disturbed by it
#1 is clearly not a valid reason since we allow infertile people to marry and #2 is simply no reason at all
Thus clearly and simply Same Sex Marriage cannot be prohibited in an rational manner and must be allowed.
(link to letter in Tennessean)
It seems our state legislature has never read the Ten Commandments. They are by no means the basis for the morals or law of our country and it is a lie that they (the legislatures) are interested in displaying them because they are part of our heritage. In fact the Jews/Christians do not even agree on exactly what the 10 are so it is impossible to truly even list them. Looking in detail at the most common version.
Commandments 1-4 are clearly religious in nature and therefore irrelevant to law or morals (for any non Christian)
Commandment 5 (honor thy parents) is not reflected in our legal system and, in the case of some abusive parents, not the correct moral action.
Commandment 6 (thou shalt not kill) is simply not true as a blanket statement. Centuries of common and established law is required to clarify the situations when our society accepts and rejects killing. In the context of the Bible this commandment clearly applies to Jews only which is clearly immoral. Furthermore, the fact that indiscriminate killing is bad for a culture predates the commandments.
Commandment 7 (thou shalt not steal) is part of our legal and moral systems, and as mentioned above, did not originate with the Torah.
Commandment 8 (keep the Sabbath day holy) is of course not part of our law (anyone old enough to remember ‘blue’ laws?) an in fact is violated by almost all of the most religious protestants. As you may recall the 10 were written by Jews so the Sabbath is undoubtedly Saturday not Sunday!
Commandment 9 (no lying) is barely our legal system (only when under oath in court) and coveting (10) is realistically the basis of our entire economy.
At best 1 (steal) and maybe part of 9 (lying) are even in our culture at all. A weak 1.5 out of 10 is all anyone can claim. So please, please, stop saying these 10 are anything but part of the doctrine and commandments of religion. If individuals or groups want to venerate and follow these instructions in their private spaces, that is their privilege but they are currently and have never been the primary basis for our or any modern nation.
(link to letter in Tennessean)