Oobie's Big Book of Stuff

"… in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent…"

When Your Body Violates Their Rights

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"Basically people that don't live like I think they should live are violating my rights." - Bishop William E. Lori, paraphrased.

“Religious leaders told a House panel Thursday the Obama administration was violating basic rights to religious freedom with its policies for requiring that employees of religion-affiliated institutions have access to birth control coverage.”

Ladies and gentlemen, but mostly ladies, I give you… the CULTURE WARS.

So President Obama pushed a policy a few weeks ago that would require religious institutions (schools, hospitals, etc, that are linked to a particular religious group, not churches) to offer female employees insurance coverage for contraception. It was an ill-conceived idea in today’s hyper-reactive climate where everyone wants to feel like their rights are being violated by everything, and was immediately met by a firestorm of complaints from religious leaders (note: not the religious masses, who support the effort), on the grounds that it violated their religious freedom.

So naturally, our president who has been said to be at war with religion pressed on undeterred, right? He jammed his ideological agenda right down their throats like the mindless Socialist he is? Is that what he did?

No, he made a compromise, and took all the responsibility out of the religious institutions’ hands, and put the onus on insurance companies to offer preventative care, including birth control, to women. Pretty anti-climactic for a battle in the CULTURE WARS, but at least something got done to protect women’s health and we can all go back to living our lives. Right?

Wrong.

The Republican party, in a gross miscalculation of the American public’s values, decided to keep browbeating the issue, and today held a committee before Congress to talk about the ramifications of this policy, complete with various “witnesses”. Who were these witnesses? Well, every one of them was a religious leader. Every one of them opposed the policy. And every one of them was a man.

Said former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, “The Republican leadership of this Congress thinks its appropriate to have a hearing on women’s health and purposely exclude women from the panel. I may at some point be moved to explain biology to my colleagues.”

"I don't know... I heard something about ovaries and whatnot. I wasn't listening because I assumed it didn't make sense."

Differences between boys and girls aside, what did the Republican-called witnesses have to say to the panel? Bishop William E. Lori, from US Conference of Catholic Bishops, compared the ruling to a law that would force all food providers, including kosher delicatessens, to serve pork. A powerful comparison… if the president were still asking religious institutions to provide the coverage. But, since he’s not, and insurance companies are the ones responsible for the coverage, a more apt comparison would be that all OTHER food providers would be required to allow their customers access to pork, even if those customers sometimes visit kosher delicatessens. Which, as it turns out, happens.

Lori went on, continuing to impress with his ability to dance around the issue at hand without ever actually stepping on it, “Does the fact that large majorities in society, even large majorities within the protesting religious community, reject a particular religious belief make it permissible for the government to weigh in on one side of that dispute?”

When the issue at hand is completely removed from the grounds of any religious institution? Absolutely. Some sects in Islam say women shouldn’t be allowed to drive. Our government disputes that. Some Jewish sects ban women from gathering together to pray on religious holidays, going so far as to call it illegal. Our government disputes that. It has over time become pretty standard practice for the laws of the land, laws for everyone of any religion, to disregard the archaic stance of any one religion.

Remember, nobody is forcing them to do anything against their religion. They’re just requiring that people be given -access- to certain health measures that they don’t even have to take advantage of if they don’t want to. But, nonetheless, there’s more to argue.

“… it is ironic that the religious organizations should have their rights crushed in the name of health care,” said Dr. Craig Mitchell, Baptist minister and head of the ethics department at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Because, to him, allowing women the right to preventative healthcare is crushing religious organizations rights to… what? Crush women’s rights?

Maybe it’s just showing my ignorance as a part of the unwashed masses, but I don’t see how anyone is being hurt by this policy. Women that don’t want to use birth control because of their religious beliefs don’t have to. Religious organizations can continue to rail against birth control in their services, and encourage their followers to stay away from it, as they’ve always done. The new policy does nothing to shift religious beliefs or practices, just makes sure women can have a certain kind of coverage if they want it.

Calling that a violation of religious freedom is confusing your own personal religious freedom with allowing your religion to infringe on the rights of others. Even if that’s what your religion claims you are capable of, I’m afraid the Constitution of the Unites States says otherwise.

"And, I say, won't it be fun to see how badly they misinterpret this one hundreds of years down the line!"

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Written by oobiedoo

February 16, 2012 at 8:23 pm

Land of the Free, Home of the… What Now?

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If the law doesn't fit, you must circumvent.

GOP presidential hopeful (stretching the definition of the word there, based on recent polls) Herman Cain recently joined the chorus on the right denouncing Islam as a whole, using the issue of a community in Tennessee that wants to stop an Islamic group from building a mosque to support their growing congregation. Cain agreed the community had the “right to do that” and “That’s not discriminating based on religion.” (Which begs the question of what -is- considered discrimination based on religion if stopping one particular religion from building their places of worship isn’t it.)

Cain went on to differentiate Islam from other religions, saying that it’s the only religion that comes with a set of laws, showcasing that he apparently has never read a Bible, Torah, or any other holy book for that matter, since they all come with laws; the other religions just ignore them more readily. On that point, he made the rather cryptic assertion that “there’s an aspect of them building that mosque that doesn’t get talked about, and the people in the community know what it is, and they’re talking about it.” Am the only one that gets Lovecraftian images of evil cults and human sacrifice out of that? Are the people in Tennessee the only ones aware that this portends the coming of The Great Old Ones, and they’re just trying to convince the doubtful world that could actually help them if we only believed? No, actually, he’s just keeping up with the boneheaded (and much more boring) argument that muslims are trying to secretly install Sharia Law in the United States. And this mosque in a Tennessee community I’m not even going to bother naming, because you’ve never heard of it, was apparently a key cog in that diabolical wheel.

So, let’s recap:

– Stopping a particular religion from building their places of worship solely because of what religion they practice is, in fact, not discriminating based on religion. (Please see the definition of “discriminate” and try again.)

– Islam is different from other religions because they actually take the backwards laws their religion preaches seriously, rather than sweeping them under the rug to sell their religion as a great place for peace and hugs. (Which is a massive generalization, since I’m sure plenty of followers of Islam ignore that shit just as well as any christian.)

– And finally, Dreaming Cthulhu is woken in his sleeping city, R’lyeh, and will soon be upon us. The luckiest among us will be the first to die. Ia! Ia! (Wgah’nagl fhtagn!)

Now, I feel like telling a little story to make my point here. It’s a little bedtime story I remember as a kid, and it might have a little bearing on this story. Let’s see if you guys remember it too, and can pick out the really subtle way it tells us about this issue:
Once, a long, long time ago, in a country far, far away, there was a great big empire that new it was a great big empire and wanted everyone else to know it too, so they went around planting flags in everybody’s back yards and called it their’s. Now, most people didn’t really like having their backyard taken by a great big empire, but what were they going to do about it? They were small and not so great, so they just had to follow along.

But one thing this great big empire couldn’t control was what the people in it thought. No matter how hard it tried, no matter how badly it punished people when it found out they were thinking these things it didn’t want them to think, people kept right on thinking them. Because that’s the way the human spirit is: if some outside force wants to control it, to hold it down, it becomes that much more devoted to its own freedom.

So, eventually, the king of this great big empire got tired of punishing those people whose minds he couldn’t control, and he sent them away, to a faraway land where he would only barely ever have to deal with them. But when all of those people were together, so far from the king’s eyes, they were able to think all kinds of other thoughts he wouldn’t want them to think. And they were able to plan things, and organize things, and pretty soon they decided they were greater than they’d believed all along, and that maybe the great big empire they’d been held down by wasn’t too big to stand against afterall.

In the end, they rose up and fought against the king’s army, and they won, and they made a home for themselves. And the people who started it all vowed their new home would be a place where people would be free, where they could believe whatever they wanted to believe, and that nobody would try to stop them from believing that, because the most basic freedom anyone can have is the freedom to think what you want to think. And they knew that if one group of people thought one thing, and the people in charge didn’t mind it, but another group that believed something different was fought against, then that would mean the people in charge were really favoring one belief over another, and that was just the same thing that the king had done to them.

It’s a nice little story, isn’t it? A real crowd pleaser.

It was Thomas Jefferson that first wrote of the separation of church and state, so that the laws of religion would never dictate the laws of the land, and that the state would not interfere with the free practice of religion. Herman Cain bastardized that belief as his defense for standing against the people of one religion, and completely inverted it. Sharia Law among the people that go to a particular mosque has no effect on the country at large. It would be the same as banning a Catholic church’s construction because they have ten rules people are supposed to follow. Until those rules find their way into the law of the land, there is no basis to cite the separation of church and state in your opposition. In fact, it is Herman Cain’s belief that the state has every right to intercede in this religious matter, where no laws of land have been broken.

In this instance, it is Herman Cain and the people that support his twisted belief that stand against the words of Thomas Jefferson and the Constitution of the United States. Last I heard, the star spangled banner waved over the land of the free and the home of the brave, not for the cowardice of men who would limit the freedom of people based solely on a belief that has been perverted by a few.

And, just because I’ve always wanted to say it: If you don’t like it, you can get out!

Written by oobiedoo

July 18, 2011 at 7:30 pm

Together We Rise

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We are today at one of the countless crossroads our young nation has faced. It is this moment that future generations will remember us for, and forever laud our foresight, despise our cowardice, or curse our indecision. The choices of the past, fair and foul, have brought us here, to this time and this place, this now that cannot be wished away through desire alone, but must be met with dedication and a will to sustain the struggle against a world that has for so long idled uncontested to this moment. We are, all of us, here, and only together will we salvage a brighter future for our children, as well as for future generations we will never meet and cannot yet imagine.

One is not afforded the opportunity to choose his own family, the time and place of his birth. We did not choose to be here now, to be brothers and sisters on this earth in hard times. But here we are, together.

Today’s America is a fractured one. It has, throughout its history, always been so. The rivalry between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, two of this nation’s most integral founders, is well-chronicled, we fought a war against ourselves because of conflicting ideals, and one man from Atlanta with a dream and a voice that would move mountains inspired in some the greatest hope for the future, and in others brought forth bitter hatred. We have always been divided. It is the nature of any good democracy that we should be, so that we will always hear the dissenting argument, the at-first unpopular opinion that may one day become the imperative, the world-changing ideal that may grant freedom to all the men and women of this earth.

But today’s America is different. It may not be more fractured than it was in days before, but this is the world we have now, the one we can change. We will always be divided, but in order to solve the litany of this nation’s ills, from budgetary problems to healthcare, to truly help each other and ourselves, we must understand the argument we disagree with. We must hear it ourselves, consider it, disseminate its meaning to our own ear, without relying on the pundits who make their living selling controversy, an “us versus them” mentality, to translate those opinions for us. We must resist the urge to wrap ourselves in the comfort of our own opinions, resist the urge to speak of the issues with only those who would agree that our opinion is right. We must seek out the other side, in articles, on television, in good debate that doesn’t resort to two equally simple dogmas clashing over the field of mindless partisanship. We must hear the other side with an open mind, rather than listening only to disagree. We must disavow talking points and political scare tactics.

I believe that is the key to progress. I believe if the people of this nation were to listen to one another with an active interest to learn rather than one vested in strengthening our pre-existing convictions, we would find that there is some merit to both sides of nearly any issue. In a democracy such as ours, compromise between at least two differing opinions is the only way to make any progress. Only through an understanding of the other side can we truly accept the necessary compromises that everyone must make.

There are people in this nation, a great many of them, that know this to be true. But they look at the world as it is now, and they believe there is no use in one person dedicating himself to progress, that we are set in our ways and must follow this path until we reach its ultimate termination point. But only we will decide when that day comes.

The winds of change blow at our command, and so too come the doldrums of our disregard, our indifference, our callous acceptance of that which we wish would change, but dare not act upon ourselves. We are the designers of destiny, the purveyors of our own future, the catalysts through which change will come, yet all we can manage is cynicism as we sit idly by and wonder why the world will not change around us. We wait to be saved by people we believe must be greater than ourselves, but who do not exist. They are gods of our own imagining, and before them we make ourselves small. We are content to complain about the efforts of others as we refuse to make the same effort, or better, ourselves.

Robert Kennedy once said, “Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.” President John F. Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Both brothers understood that the power to change the world was not in their hands as politicans, but all of ours.

We don’t have to like each other, we don’t have to agree with each other, but we are the American family, and as family we must make an effort to understand each other, and through that effort we will find that progress is possible, that together we can move mountains, that we can fell the mightiest walls that stand between us, and that we can lift ourselves up to the lofty reaches that have long been imagined, but never attained.

United we stand, and together we rise.

Written by oobiedoo

May 28, 2011 at 9:01 pm

The Unseen Empty Seat

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David Angell, a writer and a producer for television, was born in Rhode Island. He worked on “Cheers”, where he won two Emmy Awards, one as a writer, one as a producer. He won six Emmy Awards between his writing and producing duties on “Frasier”. He and his wife, Lynn, were known for their generosity, particularly to the Hillsides home for abused children.

Edmund Glazer was born in Zambia, but moved to the US as a teen. He graduated high school early and enrolled at the University of Southern California when he was just 17. He became the CFO and vice president of finance and administration for MRV Communications in 1995. He was known as a bright, caring man with a love for chess and hockey, had a dry sense of humor, and was dedicated to his wife and young son.

Mr. Glazer and the Angell’s never knew each other, but they died together on American Airlines Flight 11 when it crashed into the World Trade Center’s north tower on September 11th, 2001.

Mark Bingham played rugby as a teenager and in college. He was the CEO of The Bingham Group, his own public relations firm, when he died aboard Flight 93, and was believed to have participated in the passengers’ efforts to down that plane before it could reach its intended destination. He carried on his love for rubgy after college, playing for the San Francisco Fog, “the preeminent rugby club in the world that actively pursues the participation of people of color, gay men, women, and other groups traditionally underrepresented in rugby”. He served as a volunteer for John McCain’s 2000 bid to be the Republican nominee for president. When Flight 93 was hijacked, he called his mother and his aunt to tell them what happened, and that he loved them.

Heather Malia Ho was a pastry chef at the Windows on the World restaurant, on the World Trade Center north tower’s 107th floor. She discovered her love for cooking as a child growing up in Honolulu. San Francisco magazine named her the pastry chef of the year in 2000. She’d joined the restaurant’s staff just months before the attack, and dreamed of opening her own pastry shop one day.

Reverend Mychal Judge served as the chaplain for the Fire Department of New York for nine years. He lost his father when he was a boy and found his religious calling as a teenager. He served as pastor for several churches in New Jersey and New York before being named the FDNY’s chaplain. “Father Mike” counseled and comforted people from all walks of life. He was killed by a piece of falling debris shortly after performing last rites for a fallen firefighter at the World Trade Center.

Lorisa Taylor had just celebrated her seventh anniversary with her husband days before, dancing until 4a.m. Hector Tamayo loved to sing. Barbara Olson was a conservative television commentator fiercely critical of the Clintons. Hilda Taylor, a teacher originally from Sierra Leone, was determined to show her students a world beyond Washington DC. Glenn Thompson was wearing shorts when he got on his knees in the snow to propose to his soon-to-be wife. Marie Abad planned to spend her retirement traveling and exploring a world of books with her husband. James Hayden was married to Elizabeth Gail Hayden for nearly twenty five years, but she said he made her feel like she was 18 all the time. David Halderman, a firefighter, didn’t like a lot of attention. Kevin and Thomas Hannafin, brothers, were both firefighters; Kevin was part of the company that discovered Thomas’ body in the remains of the World Trade Center. Brian Terrenzi had just bought his first home and never met his daughter, Elizabeth, who he was “so excited” about.

The world was robbed of all these men and women, and thousands like them but entirely themselves, in a single, terrible breath of blind hatred nearly ten years ago.

Sunday, Osama bin Laden paid the ultimate price for taking so many sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, husbands and wives from their families, for stealing from the world so much of its potential. Too, he paid for stealing the young sons of so many families in the Arab world, and bending them to his hate-filled mandate that sought not to make the world a better place for anyone, but merely to kill and burn, to revel in death and dismay, and to make misery where it before did not exist. Nineteen men gladly gave their lives to carry out the atrocity of 9/11 because of bin Laden’s words, countless more have sacrificed themselves to further his despicable vision.

Make no mistake: bin Laden’s death does not mark an end to the war on terror. His disciples, some utterly brainwashed, others just as gleeful as he must have been at the very idea of destruction, will continue their campaign of cold-blooded murder in the name of phony ideals. But, in the words of President Obama, “Justice has been done.”

His death will not bring back the thousands of innocents whose blood is on his hands, but maybe it can serve as some small piece of mind for Elizabeth Terrenzi, who will never know her father, that Brian’s killer is no longer roaming the world, smug about the deaths of thousands of human beings he never cared to know. If that is the only reward from Osama bin Laden’s death, it will be more than worthwhile.

Justice has been done, but the world remains forever scarred by what it might otherwise have been. 2,996 human-beings, self-made successes and slackers, book lovers and video game players, lovers of life and lovers of love, were taken from us on 9/11. It is impossible to measure the true number of deaths on Osama bin Laden’s hands. They will, all of them, be missed. He will not.

The world we have goes on, better today than it was just a few days ago, but a sorrier thing than it ever could have been.

___________________________________________

Stolen Words from NBC’s “The West Wing”:

“More than any time in recent history, America’s destiny is not of our own choosing. We did not seek nor did we provoke an assault on our freedoms and our way of life. We did not expect nor did we invite a confrontation with evil. Yet the true measure of a people’s strength is how they rise to master that moment when it does arrive… The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels tonight. They’re our students and our teachers and our parents and our friends. The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels, but every time we think we have measured our capacity to meet a challenge, we look up and we’re reminded that that capacity may well be limitless. This is a time for American heroes. We will do what is hard. We will achieve what is great. This is a time for American heroes and we reach for the stars.”

My Take on the War on Terror

Terror in the Best Laid Plan

Sites featuring profiles of the 9/11 victims:

Portraits of Grief

In Memoriam Online

9/11 Profiles

Written by oobiedoo

May 2, 2011 at 8:00 am

Sean Knows Bias

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If you don't like the facts, Hannitize them for your pleasure!

So last week, Sean Hannity aired an hour long special, “Behind the Bias: The History of Liberal Media” on his show. I’m sure it came as a great surprise to many that it was full of shit.

I’m not going to spend this blog deconstructing how it lied and misled its audience; that’s already been done. Instead, I’m just going to point out a multitude of reasons Sean Hannity should never, ever, have been allowed to host a special about bias from anyone other than himself.

So, let’s begin with just a little sampling of Sean Hannity’s well-documented bias. Let me point out that I came across all of these examples in a single afternoon. It’s not hard with Sean. Also, keep in mind, these are just examples of Sean Hannity’s bias. If I included other Fox News programs, we’d be here a while.

Here’s just a quick rundown of the few I came up with in one sitting:

– Sean lies about a Bill Clinton op-ed (Because with Hannity, there’s never enough hate for the Clintons.)

– Hannity spouts nonsense about Sarah Palin being treated worse in the media than Hillary. (Because conservative women are apparently the victims of a massive left-wing mysogynist conspiracy, and of course nobody bashes the Clintons enough for Sean’s liking.)

– Hannity quotes remarks made about Rahm Emanuel and then acts as though they were made about President Obama. (Because a lot of people think Emanuel is a dick, and Sean thinks Obama is dick, thus they might as well be the same person, right?)

– Sean claims President Obama called insurance executives “bad people”, then ran the video where Obama clearly states they aren’t bad people. (Granted this one requires at least an iota of contextual understanding, but let’s let Keith Olbermann break it down. )

– Sean says President Obama has “surrendered” in the war on terror. (Because believing we can win without torturing people and holding them prisoner indefinitely without charging them with anything is the same as giving up.)

– Hannity lies about the amount of support for Ron Paul after Fox News Republican primary debate. (When you can’t lie about a liberal, just lie about the least conservative person in the story. Also of note, Ron Paul was not invited to the next Fox News debate, despite polling higher in the state it was held than some of those that were invited.)

– Sean claims Obama was cutting $53 million dollars from New York City’s Anti-Terror Fund using fuzzy logic, when New York actually got $47 million more than they had previously. (Because, as the story goes, liberals hate America and want Americans to die horrible deaths in the name of Allah, so obviously one must twist the facts accordingly to fit that narrative rather than just admitting the man is actually increasing funding against terrorism.)

– During the presidential campaign Sean berates his guest, calls him an “idiot”, and says any claims that our economy is in a dire situation are based on lies. (Now he thinks Obama is doing an awful job because of how bad our economy is. But before it was just a lie.)

– Sean says California’s water shortage is Obama’s fault. (Because the “drop in the bucket” he harps on is more important than the vast amount of water wasted by the poor irrigation techniques he doesn’t want to talk about.)

– Hannity claims the president of Planned Parenthood told an “outright lie” when she said the organization provides mammograms for women… based on the fact that -some- PP facilities do not. (Because, ya know, if she says the organization does it, she better make sure every single one of their locations offers it, dammit!)

– Hannity says he’s never questioned anyone’s patriotism, to look like less of a goon. (Or because he doesn’t know what patriotism means.)

– Hannity airs a video edited in a misleading fashion to make it seem like Obama said he’s raising taxes for everybody, when he actually said under Bush’s plan, which Obama wanted to change, taxes were about to go up for everybody. (Again, the narrative says liberals and Democrats want to raise everyone’s taxes, so we have to do what we can to support that story, regardless of the facts.)

But remember, folks, Sean Hannity isn’t a news man, so it’s okay that he makes things up. Because everybody that watches his show knows, even when he’s presenting things as facts, that it’s really just his opinion that he’s talking about. And it’s that tacit understanding of the difference between news and commentary that leads Fox News viewers to be the most misinformed of any major news outlet, right?

No, wait… See, what I actually meant was… um… that our universities are filled with liberal ideologues and you can’t trust anything they say. Yeah. Yeah, that sounds better.

Just Be Wrong!

New segment time. This one focuses on people who harp on particular issues, are then proven wrong, and can’t just say they were wrong.

The obvious focus today? Birthers! They’ve been proven wrong time and again, and that never stopped them from continuing with the absurd claim that they weren’t sure if the president was born in Hawaii. But today the president came out with the long-form of his birth certificate, the one thing the birthers have been clamoring about all this time, saying if they saw that then the issue would be over.

Well, now it’s out there, so clearly people like Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin came out and apologized for making an issue out of nothing, right? Or at the very least just admitted that the issue is finally put to rest?

Nope! Actually, Palin and Beck (who isn’t as funny as he thinks) would rather talk about the timing of the president’s move. See, they think the president might have been waiting for today to do this to distract from other issues. Because, ya know, the birthers harping about this for years wasn’t used as a tactic to distract the public from other issues, or discredit the president, or anything.

“Carnival barkers” indeed.

Written by oobiedoo

April 27, 2011 at 10:39 pm

Say WHAT?!? April 14, 2011

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So, today’s crazy-du-jour comes courtesy of the far-right’s ability to manufacture a culture war sort of controversy out of anything, no matter how utterly meaningless it might actually be. First, I’m going to show you a picture. It strikes me as an innocuous little moment between a mother and a son. Then we’re going to examine the hysteria in an article by Dr. Keith Ablow, a psychiatrist writing for Fox News, in which he links this moment to “grotesque” sex change operations and claims it will lead to the complete and utter ruin of society. I kid you not.

This is the demon seed some supposed -people- want to plant into your children’s heads. Beware! BEWARE! *insert Boogeyman creepy fingers here*

So, according to the author of that article, because a little eight-year old boy has his toenails painted pink, that clearly means that this photo was staged as part of an organized effort by J. Crew to break down the walls of gender and forever throw our society into chaos.

I’d like to take this moment to remind you that the author of that claim is a psychiatrist.

Now, let’s insert a little reason that doesn’t even require a degree.

1. The kid is eight. He’s not even thinking about girls or how to impress them, or if maybe boys are better than girls afterall. He’s a little kid who doesn’t think about these things yet, and he happens to like pink.

2. The author writes, “This is a dramatic example of the way that our culture is being encouraged to abandon all trappings of gender identity—homogenizing males and females…”, and goes on to describe the feminization of men, but when it comes to women he only says that they are more openly sexual now than before. Remember, he’s using that as evidence to support his claim that men and women are acting more like each other, so he’s essentially claiming that it’s perfectly normal for a man to want to have sex with anything on legs, but that women should be the demure little naysayer in the matter. I’ve never quite understood how women’s sexuality has always been a more taboo thing than men’s.

3. He also writes, “… it may be fun and games now, Jenna, but at least put some money aside for psychotherapy for the kid—and maybe a little for others who’ll be affected by your “innocent” pleasure.” Okay, folks, this is an important one. For the kid, it’s just a little bit of color on his nails. And anyone else in the world that needs psychotherapy because they just saw a kid with pink toenails really probably needed that psychotherapy a long time ago for entirely different reasons. It’s just a color. Calm down. Take a breath. Have some dip.

4. From the article: “If you have no problem with the J. Crew ad, how about one in which a little boy models a sundress? What could possibly be the problem with that?” This is the classic culture warrior strategy, to take something tiny and utterly meaningless and then link it to something that people would more easily object to. Also:

Oh, the times, they are a-changin!

So, to cap it off, I’d like to end with an unedited section of Dr. Ablow’s article to show how quickly he jumps from something meaningless, to something completely objectionable, using only the power of his own delusion. Writes Ablow:

“If you have no problem with the J. Crew ad, how about one in which a little boy models a sundress? What could possibly be the problem with that?

“Well, how about the fact that encouraging the choosing of gender identity, rather than suggesting our children become comfortable with the ones that they got at birth, can throw our species into real psychological turmoil—not to mention crowding operating rooms with procedures to grotesquely amputate body parts?”

Yes! This is the fundamental argument of the culture warrior, folks. Pink toenails might not strike most people as bad, so you have to very quickly make the link between them and boys wearing dresses! And if people out there still think that might not be so bad (or also have vintage family photographs of young boys wearing what look suspiciously like dresses, and know for a fact those young boys grew up as healthy members of the male populace), then what you should really be afraid of is all those confused young men that are going to be getting their penises lopped off! Brilliant!

It’s toenail polish. On a kid. Who likes pink. And is also eight. He might wind up completely screwed up in the head somewhere down the line, possibly even to an impressive scale like Dr. Ablow and those that are whipped into a frenzy by him and his ilk, but it won’t have anything to do with the existence of a photo in which his toenails are pink.

Dr. Keith Ablow, folks. Disembodied wangs by the truckload won’t be on HIS conscience.

(Bonus, another article by Erin Brown calls the picture “… blatant propaganda celebrating transgendered children.” I wasn’t aware toenail polish meant someone was transgendered, especially when they’re, ya know, eight.)

The Beliefs of a Non-Believer

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“An Atheist loves himself and his fellow man instead of a god. An Atheist knows that heaven is something for which we should work now – here on earth – for all men together to enjoy. An Atheist thinks that he can get no help through prayer but that he must find in himself the inner conviction and strength to meet life, to grapple with it, to subdue, and enjoy it. An Atheist thinks that only in a knowledge of himself and a knowledge of his fellow man can he find the understanding that will help to a life of fulfillment. Therefore, he seeks to know himself and his fellow man rather than to know a god. An Atheist knows that a hospital should be built instead of a church. An Atheist knows that a deed must be done instead of a prayer said. An Atheist strives for involvement in life and not escape into death. He wants disease conquered, poverty vanquished, war eliminated. He wants man to understand and love man. He wants an ethical way of life. He knows that we cannot rely on a god nor channel action into prayer nor hope for an end to troubles in the hereafter. He knows that we are our brother’s keeper and keepers of our lives; that we are responsible persons, that the job is here and the time is now.” – Madalyn O’Hair.

I am an atheist, a non-believer. To those more prone to angry terminology, I’m a heretic, a blasphemer. Those terms come not from ordinary people of faith, but from people who use their faith as a means to differentiate themselves from others, to hold themselves in higher regard than others because of their faith. Much in the same way some noted atheists often use their lack of faith  to believe that they are somehow better than the average faithful, who to them are merely delusional, misguided creatures. People are people, and no matter what they believe there are going to be those who are reasonable, and understanding of those that disagree with them, and there are going to be those that think of people that believe something else as somehow lesser beings. The average person of faith and the average atheist are both generally reasonable people, but the public perception of each is tinted by the divisive attitudes of people like Jerry Falwell and the Congressional Prayer Caucus, or Bill Maher and Richard Dawkins.

Faith is not something I often choose to talk about. I have none, and a great many people seem disturbed by that thought, so I mostly avoid it. But, lately I feel my own personal responsibility to clear the air on what being a non-believer means to me.

Religious institutions often try to paint non-believers as lacking in morals at worst, or just sad, pointless beings who think there is no meaning to life but themselves. While I can’t speak for the majority of non-believers, for myself nothing could be further from the truth.

I believe there is all the more meaning in life because of my lack of faith. I don’t believe there is any afterlife waiting for me to treat this life as little more than the entrance-exam. This is the only life I have, and it’s up to me to make the most of it, for myself, for those around me, for the future of the world in general. While people struggle with the immortal question of the purpose of life, I have a pretty good handle on the purpose of mine. I can’t imagine a greater purpose in life than to give just a little effort toward leaving this world better off for the next generation than it was when we came around.

The accusation that non-believers are lacking in morals too is absurd. It’s based in the belief that the Ten Commandments, or whatever any particular religion calls its basis of rules, were passed down from some divine being, and must be adhered to lest you provoke God’s wrath, and that anyone that doesn’t believe that has no fear of breaking those laws and thus nothing to lose by doing so. I find that belief insulting, and frankly, alarming. It suggests in the castigator a desire to do those awful things, that is only quelled by their belief that God will punish them for it.

I don’t have any desire to steal from someone, or to murder them, not because I fear repercussion from a God, or from police, but because the idea of bringing any kind of pain or suffering on someone else turns my stomach. I don’t do good things in the hope of getting a pat on the back come Judgement Day. I do good because it is right, and I stray from ill because to make someone suffer is unthinkable to me. The idea that a person must believe in a God to think that way is foolish.

I hold no animosity toward the vast majority of believers. I very much enjoy talking to my friends of faith about their faith and how they came to it, what it means to them. But those that would use their faith to cast a scornful eye on those that are different from them, in ideology or anything else, I have no patience for. To say more people have been killed in the name of God than anything else would be an understatement.

So, with that in mind, I ask that my readers of faith understand how much it insults me to read a letter several Republican members of Congress wrote to the President of the United States, chastising him for (get this) using “E Pluribus Unum” (English: Out of many, one) as our national motto, rather than “In God we trust” in a speech in India. Let me reiterate: they are angry because the president would rather quote our old motto, one of unity that perfectly encapsulates what the United States of America stands for to much of the world, with all its different types of people coming together for the common goal of their country, rather than the newer one that suggests people should mostly be united in their love for God rather than each other.

They go on to make clear, through their use of quotes by John Adams and Ronald Reagon, that they believe this country will somehow fail if we don’t go around the world professing our love for God, as if to even acknowledge that a sizeable segment of our population doesn’t believe and that it’s not the role of the government to make them is somehow a bad thing, as if to be a person without faith is a moral failing. As a non-believer, I never felt any great slight when members of the US government stood on the steps of the capitol building and sang “God Bless America”, or the litany of speeches from senators, congressmen, and presidents that ends with the same statement, but this group feels it is necessary to get angry simply because the president doesn’t mention God. Not that he doesn’t believe in God, he does, or that he actively campaigns against the teachings of God, he doesn’t, just that he doesn’t feel like he needs to talk about it. With all the things going on in the world today, how is that an issue for anyone?

I don’t do drugs because I believe to do so is a personal weakness. I’ve never cheated on a partner, because I believe to needlessly hurt someone like that is wrong. I don’t steal because I have no desire to have something I didn’t earn or have gifted to me by someone that cares. I don’t resort to violence to solve my problems, because understanding is the only way to truly solve anything, barring when violence is brought upon you. I donate what money I can spare to charities that help those less fortunate than me, and I am not a financially fortunate person. When I am capable of helping a friend or family member in need, I do because I like to. And I don’t believe in God because to do so doesn’t make sense to me, personally.

And yet, it is only that last statement that determines in the eyes of some, Michelle Bachmann, Paul Broun, Louie Gohmert, and the other 39 members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus among them, what sort of person I am.

There once was a day morality was the sole domain of religion. I believe that day is gone. It’s a shame that some are so closed-minded to think so little of people like me for such a trivial reason.

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Say WHAT?!?

So I’ve decided to start including a subsection to each piece, with different themes. This weeks subsection, “Say WHAT?!?” focuses on things someone in the media or government said that just defies all reason.

Some people like to do research about an issue before they rail against it. Others like to live on the edge.

And the first ever “Say WHAT?!?” award goes to Mike Huckabee, and it’s a two-fer.

Last month, the Huckster said President Obama likely had anti-British sentiment, which would be bad for a US president to have, because of his upbringing in Kenya, with a Kenyan father and grandfather. The first problem, of course, is that Obama wasn’t brought up in Kenya, and only ever visited the country in his 20’s.

That’s okay, though. Because, according to Huckabee, he only misspoke when he said Kenya, and actually meant Indonesia, where Obama did spend a few years of his childhood, after Kindergarten. That’s understandable. Everyone makes mistakes. I’ll even let it slide that he mentions Kenya multiple times in the interview. We’ll call it a recurring brain fart.

However, to actually believe that he accidentally said Kenya when he meant Indonesia means he also “accidentally” said the president would have anti-British feelings, when he must have actually meant he would have ill-will toward the Dutch, since it was the Dutch that had colonies in Indonesia; the British had them in Kenya. Also, he must have said Obama was raised with his Kenyan father and grandfather by accident, when what he must have actually meant was Obama never even knew his father, and only met the man on a couple of occasions. Unless, of course, he’s just suggesting that things like anti-British sentiment are just passed down through your genes. And, when he suggested the Mau Mau Rebellion, a Kenyan uprising against their British rulers, would have had a major effect on the young Obama, he must have actually meant… Well, he let’s be honest here. He meant the Mau Mau Rebellion, and when faced with his obvious inaccuracies didn’t have the spine to say he was just speaking without knowing the facts, and instead came up with a pathetic, obviously false lie. Because that’s what good leaders do, I guess.

For the second half of Huckabee’s lock on this award, he took a good, hard moral stand against someone whose really had it coming for a long time, if you ask me, and I’m glad someone is finally taking this person to task. So, clearly we’re talking about a whackjob politician, or an irresponsible member of the media, right? Nope. A tyrannical dictator in another country? Not even close. That person?

"No, Mr. Bond... I expect you to -die-!"

Natalie Portman.

That’s right. Natalie Portman, Harvard graduate, Oscar-nominated actress, and activist, is now a bad role-model for women, according to the Huckster. Why? Because she got pregnant without being married, and is apparently sending the message to women that being a single mother is cool, or something, and that’s dangerous because most women don’t have the resources Portman does to take care of a baby themselves.

First, let’s just get the obvious out of the way. Portman is a fantastic role-model for women. If you have a daughter, and she turns out like Natalie Portman, you’re going to be pretty happy, I assure you.

Second, does Huckabee really think that little of young women? What, they’re so caught up in fads and being like celebrities that they’re going to run out and get pregnant because all the cool kids are doing it? Apparently, and I know this comes as a shock to some, women are just as capable of thinking for themselves as men are. Unless, of course, you compare Natalie Portman and Mike Huckabee, in which case the ladies obviously win.

I give you Mike Huckabee, folks, whose mouth has long-since lapped his brain.