Saturday, March 21, 2009
read more | digg story
Un-American : Columbia Journalism Review: "In the weeks following the election, the debate over the issue of media bias, and of whether the press was overly kind to Barack Obama, has continued to swirl. Much less attention has been paid to another, more troubling aspect of the coverage, and that’s the relentless and malevolent campaign that the right-wing media waged against the Democratic candidate. Few people who did not regularly tune in to the vast, churning combine of bellowing radio hosts, yapping bloggers, obnoxious Web sites, malicious columnists, and the slashingly partisan Fox News have any idea of just how vile and venomous were the attacks leveled at Obama. Day after day, week after week, these outlets worked determinedly to discredit and degrade Obama, accusing him of being a Muslim, a Marxist, a radical, a revolutionary, a socialist, a communist, a thug, a mobster, a racist, an agent of voter fraud, a black-power advocate, a madrasah graduate, an anti-Semite, an enemy of Israel, an associate of terrorists—even the Antichrist. Supplemented by a flood of viral e-mails, slanderous robocalls, and Internet-based smear campaigns, these media outlets worked to stoke firestorms of manufactured rage against Obama and the Democrats in what was perhaps the most concerted campaign of vilification ever directed at an American politician."
I leave the refutations of stupidity to others, for the most part. I simply hit the next key or change the channel when hatred and stupidity engage in my presence. My freedom to stop listening is as fundamental as the right to free speech.
However, it is worth thinking on the stupefaction of media and vox populi for just a few moments; who benefits from this shitstorm of stupidity and pays the Pundocracy Of Poo.
They are all Terribly Serious and Rather Well Paid, unlike the other side of the blogosphere, who oft make do with ramen noodles and hot dog casseroles. Why is that?
Well, I think Glenn Greenwald (one of our proud exceptions) may have an answer. It goes to Quo Bono. The hatemongers manage to take up huge amounts of bandwidth and energy away from dealing with real issues of critical importance that sane people really SHOULD be pissed off about. Incandescently so. To stave off that fate, Rush is worth every dollar he gets - from a certain point of view.
Aside from the distraction, it makes reasonable sounding people seem - reasonable. Glenn reminds us that this is far from being a safe assumption.
It's politically impossible for the Obama administration to force any substantial revision of the way things are without the impetus of public outrage - whatever they may secretly wish to do or avoid doing. This is the sort of situation in which the reforms that are currently possible are clearly insufficient. It is not a time for "politics as usual," for in fact, the system has been so suborned and the dialogue so cheapened that nothing less that visceral fear will improve matters.
These endless lectures from sober, rational pundits about the relative quantitative insignificance of the AIG bonuses are condescending straw men. Nobody thinks that $165 million in bonuses for the people who destroyed AIG is what has caused the financial crisis. Nobody thinks that recouping those bonuses or having prevented them in the first place would solve or even mitigate systemic collapse. The amounts are miniscule in the context of the broader economic issues. Everyone is aware of that; nobody needs to have that pointed out. As Armando astutely observed, the attempt now to dismiss the anger over the AIG bonuses as the by-product of simple-minded ignorance and/or ideological rigidity (class warfare! crass populism!) is quite similar to how anti-war arguments were stigmatized before the attack on Iraq : ignore the screeching pacifists and let the sober Experts make the decisions, for they know best.
The AIG scandal is significant and has resonated so powerfully because it is a microscope that enables the public to see what and who has wreaked the destruction that threatens their security and future and, most important of all, to realize that these practices haven't ended and the perpetrators haven't been punished. The opposite is true: those who caused the crisis continue to exert control over what happens and continue to have huge amounts of public money transferred in order to enrich them.
Eliot Spitzer is absolutely right that, even at AIG, there are far larger scandals than the bonuses, such as the undiscounted compensation of AIG's counter-parties such as Goldman Sachs (and just by the way: it is indescribably symbolic that Spitzer has been punished and disgraced for his acts of consensual adult sex while the targets of his prescient Wall St. investigations, who basically destroyed the world economy, remain protected and empowered). But the bonus scandal is illustrative of why the crisis happened, who caused it to happen, and the ongoing political dominance of the perpetrators. It is, as Robert Reich put it, "a nightmarish metaphor for the Obama Administration's problems administering the bailout of Wall Street."
The financial crisis has merely unmasked the corruption and rot in our establishment institutions that are staggering in magnitude and reach. Just as the Iraq War was not the by-product of wrongdoing by a few stray bad political and media actors but instead was reflective of our broken institutions generally, the financial crisis is a fundamental indictment on the way the country functions and of its ruling class. What would be unhealthy is if there weren't substantial amounts of public rage in the face of these revelations.
So, it's time to fan those flames in the right direction. And remember, folks; the average US citizen will muddle through. The people who have most to fear are those who built their success on lies, fear, manipulation, greed and violence.
It's time to get down to it, Chicago Style. If they fling crap, intended to discredit someone or some good idea, fling back ten sharp facts that proves the poo-flinger is a lying scumbag in the pay of even worse people.
If they try to start a sex scandal regarding a liberal - investigate ten conservatives and publish the results. And I'm not meaning that "The DNCC should do this."
I say unto you, the DNCC is the LAST group likely to do this. Ok, maybe the second last.
No, YOU should do this. It's amazing what electronic research tools - your computer and telephone - can reveal. Particularly if you collaborate via social media.
There is no fatter target in all the world than a known and famous liar, for they lie about everything. And once the lies start to unravel, well, it becomes quite the public entertainment, the perfect yarn to braid a line sturdy enough to hang a target out to dry.
Don't bother with rush, though. Look at where the money comes from. Don't go after Fox's spokesmuffins - go after the executives. Don't go after the people the people paid to lie, go after those who pay for lies.
Same principle for politicians. For instance - Jim Gibbons, Nevada Governor. I'm sure it would be fun to look into who sponsored this useful idiot. In Nevada, there are only two guesses - Mining and Gambling.
Oh, and by the by, it's not like it's an even playing field. In many ways, our financial overlords have a significant home court disadvantage. Here's a chunk from "The idiots who rule America."
There are two important things to realize that are revealed in that last, insightful citation. First, the very wealthy are not smarter than the general run by any stretch of the imagination. Nor are they wiser. Worst of all, they are blinded by their circumstances, their exclusive circles, their exclusionary behaviors. If All The People That Matter believe the same things, surely those things must be true, no?
Andrew Lahde, the Santa Monica, Calif., hedge fund manager who made an 870 percent gain last year by betting on the subprime mortgage collapse, has abruptly shut down his fund, citing the risk of trading with faltering banks. In his farewell letter to his investors he excoriated the elites who run our investment houses, banks and government.
“The low-hanging fruit, i.e. idiots whose parents paid for prep school, Yale, and then the Harvard MBA, was there for the taking,” he said of our oligarchic class. “These people who were (often) truly not worthy of the education they received (or supposedly received) rose to the top of companies such as AIG, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers and all levels of our government. All of this behavior supporting the Aristocracy only ended up making it easier for me to find people stupid enough to take the other side of my trades. God bless America.”
“On the issue of the U.S. Government, I would like to make a modest proposal,” he went on. “First, I point out the obvious flaws, whereby legislation was repeatedly brought forth to Congress over the past eight years, which would have [reined] in the predatory lending practices of now mostly defunct institutions. These institutions regularly filled the coffers of both parties in return for voting down all of this legislation designed to protect the common citizen. This is an outrage, yet no one seems to know or care about it. Since Thomas Jefferson and Adam Smith passed, I would argue that there has been a dearth of worthy philosophers in this country, at least ones focused on improving government.”
No. And if you wish an historical reference to where that sort of willful ignorance can lead, well, stuty a bit about the beginnings of the French Revolution, or the Bolshevik Revolution or, indeed, consider the genesis of the United States itself.
In each case, various oligarchs used the machenery of government to squeeze citizens until there was nothing left to gain - and nothing much at all for those being squeezed to lose. This is the sort of situation we are facing now in the US in particular. Further, if such a large economic domino is to fall - we all fall with it. So each of us need to look at our own leaders and decide what pressure may be brought to compel them to stick their heads out of the window, to gauge the mood of the mob.
John Ralston Saul, quoted in the truthdig article cited above, says something about what I believe to be the core issue that we are not actually seeing, nor discussing.
Saul has a bleak vision as to what will happen if this is not dealt with, if government is not separated from commerce - and, as I often emphasise myself, religion. Collapse or revolt, and with little hope of replacing it with something sensible and workable - unless we become the solution ourselves. Saul points out that the current crop of people in government simply do not have the perspective, background or capablity to see the problem.
“I’ve talked to several Supreme Court justices, several times in several countries,” Saul told me, “and I say, look, in your rulings, can you differentiate easily in cases between the social contract and the commercial contract, and to which the answer is, we can no longer differentiate. And that lies at the heart of the problem. You don’t have the concept of the other, and of obligation of the individual leading to individualism. You can’t have that if the whole legal system has slipped over the last, really, 50 years, increasingly, to a confusion between the social contract and the commercial contract. Because they are two completely different things. The social contract is about the public good, responsible individualism, imagining the other. The commercial contract is a commercial contract. They’re not supposed to be confused. They don’t actually fit together. The commercial contract only works properly when the social contract works in a democracy.”
So, here's the solution. You. Get involved. Take the civil service exam. Become a sentator's aide and adviser - whether they like it or not.
Show up. Chicago style.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Republicans having fun!
I'm not one to belong to any political party; I'm not at all interested in politics as a social endeavor, I don't think of it as something that is inherently fun or interesting. But between the win-at-any-cost mentality, the clear evidence that principles within the party are honored mostly within the breach. The current party darlings could make a Lawrence Welk Tribute Evening With Faux Elvis seem classy and original, as Meghan McCain observes.
I am sure most extreme conservatives and extreme liberals would find me a confusing, walking contradiction. But I assure you, there are many people out there just like me who represent a new, younger generation of Republicans. It took me almost two years of campaigning across this country and hanging out, on a daily basis, with some of the most famous and most intelligent Republicans to fall in love with the Republican Party. If it took that much time and exposure for me to join the party, how can GOP leaders possibly expect to reach young supporters by staying the course they have been on these past eight years? Where has our extreme thinking gotten us? President Bush will go down as one the least popular presidents in history. I constantly hear stories about Republicans who previously worked for President Bush and my father feeling ostracized, unable to get jobs in D.C. right now.
On Monday night Ann Coulter and Bill Maher kicked off a weeklong debate tour. Maybe they will prove me wrong, but this seems more like a traveling circus than a serious debate about the ideological differences between these individuals. I hope viewers understand Ann Coulter is not the woman we Republicans need representing us right now. The GOP is at a crossroads. I love the Republican Party, but if it turns out I am somehow not conservative enough to please its leaders, it makes me wonder—am I then not worthy of even being a member?
You have it backward, Meghan. What have they done lately to be worthy of you? A party circling the drain - and they are - is in no position to be excluding anyone, and certainly not anyone with significant name recognition and name appeal. That's just stupid. Stupid people don't throw good parties - or make good policies.
You know, there is a party name with a fine old tradition in North America. It's not being used right now, and I bet Joe Clark would know where the old letterhead was stored. It's called The Progressive Conservative Party. I think there might be room for a Center-Right party of that sort in the US now.
New Progressive America
Twenty Years of Demographic, Geographic, and Attitudinal Changes Across the Country Herald a New Progressive Majority
"Obama’s 53 percent of the popular vote is the largest share of the popular vote received by any presidential candidate in 20 years. The last candidate to register that level of support was conservative George H.W. Bush, who won by an identical 53 percent-to-46 percent margin. So, separated by 20 years, we have two elections that are practically mirror images of one another, but with conservatives on the winning end of the first and progressives on the winning end of the second.By way of contrast, I wrote this some time earlier.
What happened? How did conservatives do so well in one election but progressives so well in the other? The answer: In those intervening 20 years, a new progressive America has emerged with a new demography, a new geography, and a new agenda."
Thursday, November 23, 2006
The Populist Libertarian
But the return to Populism this is not seemingly the result of an ongoing political debate among the members of the electorate; this is much more a dawning realization that there has been theft and chicanery at the highest levels. It is a wholesale disgust with corruption over a span of years that leaves neither party - or indeed any person associated with Washington in general - wholly free of taint. Add to this the outrage of the heartlands, who thought that in sending a wave of republican freshmen into congress in `94, they would be changing things for the better.I'm not doing this to point out my prescience, or my potential value on the pundit circuit. This isn't to flog my brand; rather, it's to point out that my gut check on the New American Progress article is that they are almost correct. They are seeing this as political phenomenon. I see it, rather, as a function of the medium.
Instead, they were presented with the results of corruption and indifference to the needs and fates of ordinary folks that passes all understanding.
So a return to populist politics is both inevitable and refreshing - even though it is a fickle wind from a dangerous quarter. That is why I join with my liberal and progressive friends and allies in pointing out that whatever size and shape government is, an ethical and Constitutional government in these Americas (and yes, I mean all of them) is concerned with the well-being and prosperity of The People - as a whole.
I'm not one to dig into things in depth. I shamelessly rely upon others for that. My niche relies having a familiarity with a wide variety of many things, rather than a deep understanding of a few, because that allows me to realize that certain interpretations - such as the one put forward in "New Progressive America" - suffer from the inadvertent framing of the author. I've read it, it's written as honestly as any position piece of it's sort could ever be expected to be - but it presumes that this shift in viewpoint is a shift toward more progressive values. I did a blog search and found this to be the general consensus, but I already knew of one other outlier, The Dark Wraith, who's reaction to the political quiz put out earlier by Center For American Progress is a wonderful example of High Snort.
How progressive are you? Take the quiz and find out not only how progressive you are, but also how annoyed you get when complex matters of your relationship to society, your sentiments about politics, and your philosophical underpinnings get packaged into a 40-question instrument that reduces you to a series of knee-jerk Right-Left talking points, buzz words, and over-simplifications.I should note that I took the quiz and scored as "Highly Progressive," with over 300 points. That doesn't mean I am a "progressive," it means that the term is almost meaningless, if constructed innocently. Personally, I think it's intended to create the impression that there is a direct correspondance between not being an idiot and being a political progressive.
Who knows? By the end you might be so annoyed that, whether or not you get labeled a progressive, you can tell for yourself that you are old, impatient, and downright curmudgeonly.
Just like me.
Why not be content with "a high degree of correspondence?"
There are many policy positions that I take a hard line for reasons that diverge significantly from the common herd, and therefore, my position on those issues is not at all predictive of my views in general.
Take the death penalty. I oppose it, utterly, in practice. In theory, IF it could be applied impartially and only in cases where guilt was not merely "beyond a reasonable doubt," but certain to an absolute standard, I'd have no objection. However, that is not the case, and mistakes are far too common, nor do I see any persuasive evidence to suggest that the death penalty causes a deterrant effect. So, since it's both expensive and often corruptible of our political process - I oppose it. 25 to life without possiblity of parole achieves the same thing, at lower expense. Or as I often say, when asked why I oppose it - "I'm not that merciful."
My readings suggest that we should not be thinking of this in terms of traditional politics. I think that sort of framing is as dead as the MSM it has always depended on. I see this as a reaction against biased and inaccurate media, against information managers who's agenda is to tell us what we should think, and have gotten so lazy that they have long ceased to bother to make a respectable case as to why we should vote for any particular party.
The report actually contains the data that points me to that interpetation:
True enough; the question is why. And with two generations now having grown up with rich "pull" media that empowers them to seek out the information and entertainment they enjoy and find useful, rather than the passive acceptance more typical of earlier generations, we may be seeing something that is perhaps not all that obvious to traditional politicians and other marketers.
"The Millennial Generation—those born between1978 and 2000—gave Obama a stunning 66 percent-to-32 percent margin in 2008. This generation is adding 4.5 million adults to the voting pool every year. Or consider professionals, who are now the most progressive occupational group and increase that support with every election. Fast-growth segments among women like singles and the college-educated favor progressives over conservatives by large margins. And even as progressives improve their performance among the traditional faithful, the growth of religious diversity—especially rapid increases among the unaffiliated—favors progressives. By the election of 2016, it is likely that the United States will no longer be a majority white Christian nation."
Did Obama win because he was more popular - or did he become popular because his understanding of reality and the situations we face had a greater correspondence to wired voters than others. I would bet that the latter is a large factor - and it doesn't seem to be a factor that the "movement leaders" seem to be considering, even now.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Properly, I should have created a really impressive looking "Master's Degree" certificate as the proper header - perhaps with an abstract background executed in crayon and finger-paint - but there are depths to which I cannot descend even in jest.
To me, it's an insult to even have to consider this matter, much less have to stoop to mocking it. And yet, here it is, a steaming pile of stupid, communicated in an incredulous tweet.
- Texans, please don't let this flat-earth BS happen - bill proposed to grant Master's in Creationism. http://tinyurl.com/c25qsh
Twittering about twittery of this sort has been a House Blend Special since before twitter existed. :)
Oh. My. God. The inmates are running the asylum in the Lone Star State legislature:State Rep. Leo Berman (R-Tyler) proposed House Bill 2800 when he learned that The Institute for Creation Research (ICR), a private institution that specializes in the education and research of biblical creationism, was not able to receive a certificate of authority from Texas' Higher Education Coordinating Board to grant Master of Science degrees.
Berman's bill would allow private, non-profit educational institutions to be exempt from the board's authority.
"If you don't take any federal funds, if you don't take any state funds, you can do a lot more than some business that does take state funding or federal funding," Berman says. "Why should you be regulated if you don't take any state or federal funding?" HB 2800 does not specifically name ICR; it would allow any institution that meets its criteria to be exempt from the board's authority. But Berman says ICR was the inspiration for the bill because he feels creationism is as scientific as evolution and should be granted equal weight in the educational community.
"I don't believe I came from a salamander that crawled out of a swamp millions of years ago," Berman told FOXNews.com. "I do believe in creationism. I do believe there are gaps in evolution.
"Texas Engages In A Whole New Breed Of Stupid: Master's Degree For Creationism."
Now, speaking as a Theist who does believe that there is a Prime Cause - I cannot bear the stupidity that is creationism. I don't think that if there is a Creator, that we would be created with critical facilities in order to not apply them and I cannot begin to tell you how utterly farcical Creationism and ID is.
Any proper scientific theory, indeed, even a respectable theological hypothesis must first, last and always deal honestly with facts in evidence. Even theology has standards of evidence and, as a discipline, puts a high value upon critical review.
When you try and simply dismiss facts that incontrovertibly exist (whatever you may make of them) while making naked assertions, such as the claim in ID that each species was created as it is, just as it is now, with the expectation that they should be taken as seriously as, say, transitional fossils in the geological record, the proper response is not to "consider the evidence." An assertion is not evidantary. A rationalization of scripture is not even an hypothesis, much less a theory.
If the goatherd's creation myth differs from the geological record, if it's proposed timeline does not match the data gathered by cosmology and paleontology, if it's modern expression is contradicted by experiment - then the goatherd's story loses. The goatherd's Rabbi would have told you, had you a time machine and could have asked. Who the hell do you think developed and founded the whole search for The Meaning Of It All? Who sharpened and codified the tools of the intellect? Who developed the idea that this sort of thing was worth writing down and discussing? These are the people who's efforts and thoughts created and defined the scientific method itself!
The abomination that is ID, Creationism, and more boldly, the bankrupt and ignorant theology that is what has become known in general as "American Conservative Protestantism," from it's thin white skin to it's bitter core of intolerance is founded upon a denial of the whole root, branch, tree and fruit of the genuine spiritual explorations of the last ten thousand years. It is a most damnable counterfeit, and their first response to anyone resembling Jesus would be to waterboard him to find the rest of his terrorist sleeper cell.
The absolutely proper response is to treat it as an impertinent fraud upon the public. And that's how it is treated by people smart enough to tell shit from shinola.
Moreover, let us take this further; the sheer, mind boggling contempt for intellectual rigor and critical thought will absolutely ensure that nobody associated with "creation theory," anyone foolish and deluded enough to invest a scintilla of their life-path into this onanistic cargo-cult mockery will, by definition, never approach any understating of creation or Creator worth having - any more than the associated social understandings and political imperatives have contributed in the slightest measure to a nation worth living in.
I say this while being personally convinced that the Universe is pervaded with intelligence, that there is, for want of a more precise concept, a God/Essence; one who is ultimately knowable and that we must certainly be intended to make the effort. We have, after all, been given the tools. And at the very least, if you believe in intentional Creation, must not the tools imply the task?
Don't bitch about what that hearty shovel digs up. There it is. Cope.
Truth is truth and facts are facts; the understandings of primitive goat-herders cannot be assumed to be superior to our own, if we are achieve progress toward knowing what is yet unknown, embracing the unknowable implications of such discoveries that may present themselves.
And that, of course, is the problem. When you achieve a a greater understanding, one often has to come to terms that one's previous worldview was limited, childish, possibly even a tad delusional.
Well, faced with such a fate - and such a potential loss of revenue and influence over the willful fools that prefer comforting lies to uncomfortable truths, lies will be produced. Evident lies, lies that are an insult to fine, professional liars of all ages.
The utter, batshit, false-to-fact, hysterical assault on reason and critical thought that Creationists have mounted underlines this. Treating them with respect traduces the very concept of "respectable."
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Of course, the biases are clear - but irrespective of interpretive bias, are there any facts to go on? That would be a rhetorical question, folks. I AM citing Leftbrain|Rightbrain, noted for it's tiny, barely noticeable perseverance bias toward sources with an high factual content. So what does Kev find, going to the literature? Precious little, but what there is contradicts doom and gloom as a prognosis.
Two stories recently made a splash in the autism community. In the first:An 18-year-old man described as “severely autistic” is in custody on suspicion he murdered a 59-year-old Coos County woman…
and in the second:A judge has ruled that Asperger’s syndrome cannot be used by the defense in the case of a man accused or murdering a woman after he lured her to his home in Savage in October 2007.
Three blogs carried this story, each revealing their owners particular viewpoints. In his small circulation blog, Harold Doherty said:In recent days and weeks two severely autistic young men have been implicated in homicides. In one case, a young man with autism has been implicated in the death of his mother who publicly professed her deep love for her son and the joy that he brought to her….Neurodiversity ideologues are unlikely to change. Their views are entrenched and tied to their own public careers as professional “autistics” or “enlightened” autism parents. The truth is that they discourage society from addressing the harsher realities of autism by effective therapy, treatment or cure. They help keep members of the public from understanding the full nature of autism, particularly as it affects the most severely autistic. Theirs is a movement whose aim is to keep everyone from facing autism reality. Theirs is a movement which wants society to keep our heads in the sand and ignore autism reality.
And on their advert covered anti vaccination site, Age of Autism said:How many stories of violent deaths allegedly at the hands of autistic teen males will we have to read before the world either A) embraces treatment for autism as a medical ailment or B) paints all autistic males as dangerous killers and locks them away a la 1955?
So you can see that Harold uses these deaths to say how silly neurodiversity is and AoA use them to say that treatment for autism is the only valid option before society is overrun with autistic killers.
In a side note, I've long observed that the real issue with these groups is that they are generally composed of authoritarian social conservatives who cannot easily cope with a child who's wetware biases them against reflexive conformity and who has a substantive deficit in making sense of emotional demands for reassurance or submission cloaked in only superficially sensible communications. I've often had interactions with such parents and frankly, I've lost patience to such a degree with that mindset that I no longer bother at all - and I find it entirely likely that "loss of language" is far more a coping strategy than a "disease process."
I found it quite difficult to get ahold of papers about autism and death attributed to an autistic person. But the few that I did get access to point to quite a different direction than the overly bleak and purposefully twisted futures foreseen by Harold Doherty and AoA.
In this study, the authors looked at rates of criminality amongst those with a Pervasive Developmental Disability (subgrouped to ‘childhood autism’, atypical autism and AS) . In the childhood autism group (which corresponds to severe/kanners/etc) 0.9% had a conviction as adults. In the control group, the rate was 18.9%. For atypical autism the conviction rate was 8.1%. The control group was 14.7%. For AS, the rate was 18.4% and the control group was 19.6%.
So, in each subgroup of PDD the authors looked at, the rate of criminal conviction was lower than controls. For the type of autism that Doherty and AoA are talking about less than 1% had a conviction compared to 18.9%. I think its clear that if this paper is accurate then we’re hardly going to be overrun with autistic killers.
Seriously, I'm entirely familiar with the astounding phenomenon of being argued with over sensory issues. "You don't really feel that way" is an utterly disrespectful response to a child for whom sunlight is painful. The issue is addressed with sunglasses, not a lecture. But such sensory processing issues are often seen first and tragically, sometimes last and always as "willful disobedience," or "insufficient submission."
That's my experiential bias, at any rate, and somewhat beside the point. There's no reason to be concerned that a few exceptions prove any sort of rule, indeed, less so that in regard to "normal" adolescents.
If you don't like your faith being ridiculed - don't support ridiculous arguments that presume upon your faith.
H/t Pam Spaulding, whom I adore for her delightfully tactical irreverence.
The ridiculous part here is that a religion, properly speaking, teaches you how to live a better life. If, in order to achieve that, it must force other people to conform so that adherents can be unaware of workable counter-examples, it's not a religion - it's a sort of boutique government, a theocracy with neither sufficient power to produce good outcomes or the moral advantage needed to be genuinely persuasive.
Andy at Eleventh Avenue South reports that the local anti-gay organization rounded up a group of religious zealots who fear catastrophic end times will result if gay and lesbian couples are able to marry in Minnesota.The Minnesota Family Council says it will introduce an amendment banning same-sex marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships in Minnesota in the next few days. The group announced the new amendment push at a press conference with fundamentalist religious leaders on Tuesday.The reason their collective panties are in a bunch is that there a bill has been introduced (by Sen. John Marty and Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis), in both the Senate and House that if passed would make Minnesota's marriage laws gender neutral. According to the AP, it's unlikely the legislation will make it out of committee.
Those leaders put forward a multi-faith diatribe against gay and lesbian relationships stating that should gays marry, the world would end.
"If everyone is a gay, this world will cease to exist in 10 years," said Ikram ul-Huq, the imam and religious director of the Muslim Community Center of Bloomington.
"Homosexual unions are forbidden and cannot be licensed with the term marriage," said Rabbi Moshe Feller, Shliach of the Rebbe to the Upper Midwest, a Chabad-Lubavitch sect of Hasidic Judaism.
"We see this as a pivotal issue to life, not just for our nation but the life we have known for 3,000 years," said Tom Parrish, administrative pastor of Hope Lutheran Church. Parrish represents Hope Lutheran Church, whose senior pastor, Tom Brock, raised some eyebrows in 2003 when he insisted the 9/11 attacks were God's wake up call.
"That's a lifestyle that God says is sinful," Brock said of homosexuality in 2003.
Digg Link for Pam's Post
That objection comes even before we address the merit of the proposition to be imposed from any more abstract angle, ethical, moral or scriptural.
Oh, and since all these fine religious leaders are using arguments from authority right out of the gate - you have every reason to be quite skeptical as to the merit of all moral and scriptural arguments. The utilitarian ones, I believe, are well disposed of already.
I'm perfectly capable of saying this while being a person with a strong preference against having sex with men. I'll go a step further - I'm an androphobe. I don't even want male friends. It takes me bad places in my head, places that I cannot help going when men are around, having to do with social dominance issues.
But, you see, this is MY issue. It colors MY relationships. It defines what sort of relationships will work for me and what ones cannot work, regardless of the quality of people involved. And it really doesn't matter whether I "should" be able to have this relationship or "shouldn't" be able to have that one. It makes far, FAR more sense to concentrate on the positive - a solid relationship built on the things that make me feel good and happy and make it possible to make someone else feel good about being in a relationship with me.
Having done that, and having that relationship prove it's mutual value every day in the face of being nothing like what people would assume, based as it is on mutual social needs and unfortunate experiences that to understand would require explanations of the TMI variety, it's perhaps somewhat simpler for me to see the unstated and deliberately unaccounted costs of forcing all human relationships into a few approved molds. It also tends to reveal to me the degree to which arguments against homosexual relationships are driven by outright phobic irrationality.
Now, phobic overreactions do not make those natural variations in affinity disappear. The irrational reaction forces them underground, where their manifestations will become unconscious or perverted to various degrees, which are then taken to be proof of inherent, rather than circumstantial depravity. To the degree homosexual unions are "sinful," (a mistake, in the Hebrew), it would be in large part due to the social and psychological costs imposed from outside and the difficulty, for most people, of living outside of cultural sanctions that guide and advantage most of us in our daily lives.
I could easily argue that the common, scriptural arguments against homosexuality and legal recognition of homosexual couples are at best tenuous, but that is to miss the more important point. Many religions do impose arbitrary restrictions upon the behavior of their adherents, and there is, arguable merit to making such voluntary sacrifices, if one can.
But whatever merit such voluntary sacrifice may have vanishes if they are imposed by fiat upon all, when an argued moral good becomes mere conformity imposed by law. Such moralisms inevitably and predictably lead to immoral actions in their imposition and outcomes, and inevitably also lead to a numbing of the moral and ethical sensibility of their advocates, for in order to argue the benefits of imposing them, they have to dissociate themselves from any responsibility for negative outcomes caused by their willful and unjust desire to interfere in the moral agency of others.
Violence is done - and not merely to those the religion decides to attack. Not even most significantly in this particular case, for regardless of the precise arrangement of laws, the recognition of committed homosexual marriage is a fact. That is to say, anyone who cares to investigate knows that it's as possible for homosexual couples to maintain a committed and stable relationship as it is for heterosexual couples - even in the significant absence of religious sanction and support.
A religion that finds itself in argument with both reality and the obvious human rights issues of deserves to be questioned in regards to it's actual substantive support OF human rights. It seems to me to be exceptionally questionable that one can support human rights in general while advocating particular exemptions.
And indeed, these moral absurdities long ago led me to question the reason and rationale of their justification, which in turn led me to study the foundations of the arguments for myself. And, as I've stated, I found the arguments to be, at best, questionable. When I raised that question - well, you may well imagine the answers I got.
Dismissive and disrespectful responses to questions of significant and personal moral uncertainty are not proper for any person claiming moral authority. Their authority must be founded in a clear mastery of the moral and ethical universe. They must be conversant with the full range of human nature, nor should their council tend toward the violent and abusive, for one can get that for free, simply by posing the same question to any randomly selected, culturally isolated ignoramus.
In other words - the arguments given by the "moral authorities" cited above are persuasive that they do not have any genuine, authoritative understanding of the moral and ethical dimensions of the foundation of their principles or the unsanitary and unsavory outcomes of their imposition over the last few hundred years.
You'd be better advised to read what text scriptures you like for your own benefit and come to your own conclusions than rely upon the advice of such fools as these. (allow me to commend unto your study the writings of St. Julian of Norwich.)
However, it's fair to state that these are exceptional fools, speaking to an issue that seems to provoke exceptional foolishness. There are fools in every profession. It's wise to cultivate the skills that make discernment between wisdom and foolishness possible, for all wise men are fools in spots.
Values Clarification and Update: The American Family Association has come out against a UN declaration condemning countries that put homosexuals to death, on the grounds that such a condemnation might cause a slippery slope toward tolerance.
Robert Wood, Acting Spokesman for the UN issued the following statement today:
The United States supports the UN Statement on “Human Rights, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity,” and is pleased to join the other 66 UN member states who have declared their support of this Statement that condemns human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity wherever they occur.
And the anti-gay religious organization AFA responded with the following:
The United States is an outspoken defender of human rights and critic of human rights abuses around the world. As such, we join with the other supporters of this Statement and we will continue to remind countries of the importance of respecting the human rights of all people in all appropriate international fora.
The Obama administration and other proponents of a United Nations statement that calls for the decriminalization of homosexuality claim it merely targets the seven countries that put homosexuals to death. But one pro-family activist [that would be the AFA] warns the document elevates homosexual behavior to skin color and religious belief.
Yes, it's so very offensive to Christianity that one equate killing someone for their skin color or religion be compared to, say, beating a gay to death and claiming the right to celebrate it.
"Christians" like this bode fair to putting Hell into receivership, due to unfair competition.
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