Insanity = repetition with expection of different outcome

reality as both a liberal and a science bias

if you believe there’s a creator, then study said creation.

not texts written by people, edited and recompiled by people and then interpreted again by more people – all as a get of hard labour and get your money for nothing and your chicks for free…. or in the case of pedo priests… other people’s children

Need to be told

Winston Blackmore, Canada’s most famous polygamist, will be defending his marriages not in criminal court, but in tax court in January, 2012.

In a way, Canada has gone after Blackmore the same way that Chicago went after Al Capone – for tax evasion rather than criminal charges.

Blackmore has requested a publication ban in hopes of preventing the testimony to be given in the tax court from being used in a later criminal trial. This request has been denied, as the request falls short of the usual reasons for granting bans and that it would extend the range of power that the tax court currently has.

What’s unique in the Blackmore case is:

…whether Blackmore’s large family (which includes 19 or more wives and more than 130 children), plus his extended family of siblings and their multiple wives and children constitute a “congregation” for tax purposes.

Blackmore’s attempt to blur the lines between what constitutes a family versus a church group is certainly creative – something legislation does not contemplate and as such, is not likely to allow.

It’s this kind of situation that demonstrates the lack of similarity between gay marriage proponants and those who would argue against gay marriage as a gateway to having to allow polygamy.

But polygamy is really bigamy, which clearly falls under the criminal code – although bigamy is usually a person who maintains separate families that are unknown to each other – legally speaking, a man married to 19 women who know about each other is not different than that man married to 19 women who do not.

Culturally, the religion may call the women “sister wives”, but the 19 women do not have a legal relationship to each other – each of them is individually married to the same man.

Gay marriage, being 2 people exclusive of all others, does not fundamentally change marriage and the only change needed under the law was to use gender neutral language.

Polygamy raises a wide range of legal matters that are fraught with convolutions – not the least being inheritance, legal representation in the case of incapacity, divorce, division of assets and so forth.

If Blackmore falls into a coma, which of his 19 wives gives direction to the medical staff? What if the women have a difference of opinion; do they resort to majority rule or seniority?

And that’s before getting into issues such as would an employer have to provide the same level of employee benefits to an employee with 19 wives and 130 children as they do to employees with one spouse and a mere handful or single child.

Just because Blackmore’s family is the size of a congregation, doesn’t mean that he should avoid personal income tax, he’s the head of a household which happens to be the size of a small community. Family size doesn’t mean an upgrade to a different category and families aren’t incorporated non-profit groups, even if they share a religion.

Which is what all of this comes down to – Blackmore is seeking to blur the lines between family and congregation both to avoid paying taxes as a family and to avoid criminal charges by claiming his family structure as being a religious structure/institution.

It is time to stop coddling religious ideas in the face of the harm that these ideas cause.

Whether it’s circumcision or genital mutilation or polygamy, religion and tradition are not acceptable reasons to allow physical or mental or emotional abuse of children and young men and women.

The polygamous communities in the US and Canada have operated under the radar for a long time, illegally trading women between the communities in an effort to broaden an increasingly shallow and in bred gene pool.

Young men and women are not prepared in school for life outside of the closed polygamous community – and with men needing at least three wives to qualify for heaven, there will never been enough women for each man to meet the requirements.

Young men are forced out of the communities and into a mainstream world they are not prepared for when they become threats or trouble for the older men.

Young girls are married off to men old enough to be their grandfathers, and later have to be reassigned to other men when their husbands die. No clear word on which man’s celestial wife that she’d be upon her own death.

There are many horror stories written about what really goes on behind closed communities, but there’s a few things for certain – taxpayers shouldn’t be underwriting these communities, we need to be demanding accountability and investigations to the allegations of abuses and examining the provincial and federal monies that have been supporting the schools that do not teach the provincial curriculum and the businesses receiving government contracts for not conforming to labour laws and employee safety.

Religious ideas should not be granted more consideration than flesh and blood people. Nor should religious ideas be held above secular civil law.

Further reading:

Stepford Wives of Bountiful BC

Bountiful – Religious Freedom or Canada’s Shame

Secret Lives of Saints – Child Brides and Lost Boys

The religious martyr east-west divide

If you aren’t prepared to die for what you believe in, you don’t deserve to live

In the mid 1980’s on a school field trip from Chilliwack, a rural community, to Vancouver, the comparative Big City, I saw those words were hand lettered in white on the back of a denim jacket worn by a punk rocker.

Most of the other teens – the school was primarily cliques of head bangers and goody two show kids – on the field trip, made ooo and ahhh cat calls in complete non-comprehension and likely more to do with the fact of the young man being a punk rocker than the sentiment on his back.  I sat frozen, looking at the words and absorbing them very deeply. When you’re a teenager, everything feels epic, life and death, but you don’t really have a sense of what those concepts really mean. Or what if anything, you believe in, never mind what would be worth dying for. Dying was for old people; except….. my favorite movie at that time, was TAPS, starring Tim Hutton and pre-Ridgemont High Sean Penn and introducing Tom Cruise as three military students who lead a student revolt against the closure of their school – to disastrous and predictable conclusion of romanticizing the death of youths for a cause greater than oneself.

This idea of martyrdom continues to hold sway, people who die for religion are made into saints, religions demand sacrifice of supporters and promise eternal afterlife rewards for those who die in service or at least, when taking out the enemies of religion.

In American, religious zealots are less willing to die themselves but are often fairly open to taking out those who they see as betrayers or enemies – shooting abortion doctors right inside their own community church if need be. The American zealots tend to prefer to live to kill more another day, but when they do end up dying, it’s more likely suicide by cop during a shooting event than taking their own life. Suicide being a sin for which you burn in hell, and apparently this is not balanced against the good of protecting the unborn by the murder of a medical doctor.

As if forcing a police officer into killing you is somehow different than doing it yourself….. might as well take up extreme sports as the avoid hell loophole to suicide and not traumatize another person.

Whereas, Islamic zealots are more the hands on martyrs, strapping on a bomb belt and detonating in the crowd – even though sometimes, they only manage to take out themselves – we have to give them kudos for being fully committed in a way that makes North American Zealots look like they are phoning it in.

Not that there’s anything remotely admirable about being a martyr or, for that matter a criminal. The admiration in American culture for the gunslingers, mobsters, gangsters, outlaw bikers and gangstas is on the same wavelength as admiration for saints and martyrs. They are all the same spectrum of rule breaking outsider who’s become romanticized in pulp fiction, movies and video games.

They are an archetype that fulfills the fantasy of rule breaking freedom, being the law unto yourself, to be the power or to be the one fighting the power. The reality is far short of the fantasy.

Criminals are no different than businessmen, they are in it for the prestige and the cash, the power and influence, one through force and the other through cunning. Their respective criminality and anti-social behavior is only limited by the scope of their reach – and businessmen have a far greater reach than criminals – organized or otherwise – as businessmen who put stockholders above employees, customers, financial institutions and the environment do far more damage to society than the most violent of criminals can hope to.

Criminals, be they in legitimate or underground business, are related to the zealot martyrs, in that they often feel entitled by a higher call or by some quirk of birth or force of personality, to be above or beyond the rules that apply to mortal and lesser men. To be rule makers unto themselves.

Hmmm, putting it that way – the dictator/politicians, criminal/business, outlaws and zealots are really the same spectrum of anti-social disorders. Especially with the recent revelation that many if not most American Republicans believe that they are called by god to run for office and that dictators assure their populaces that they are themselves divine – but never in a fun campy way, always the creepy religious way.

To some degree, the mentality of “live fast, die young” explains the willingness of criminals to accept life as brutal and short, to live and die in service of the gang or larger community, is no different than a person who is a religious martyr, who either dies as part of an assault on their religious foes or in self-sacrifice in self-immolation as a form of protest.

Western secular zealots are less self-sacrificing than their eastern counterparts generally, again, preferring to not be caught or to be killed by police or by the state after a media saturated trial. The most horrifying fate for the western murderous zealot would be to be caught and endure life in obscurity and prison; without even a made for TV movie to explain their crusade.

Perhaps if we could understand the nuance between a zealot willing to self-sacrifice and one who is only willing to sacrifice others, we could identify the thought process that allows a person to sacrifice life in the name of ideology.

The willingness to die for causes has traditionally been thought linked to the degree of economic participation and freedoms one had in their respective society.

For bigoted reasons, the 9/11 hijackers changed this idea – suicide bombers where thought of as disaffected, disengaged young men – but the 9/11 hijackers were middle aged, married and many with children and professional career credentials. Most of them were engineers by training and trade. The increase in female suicide bombers also flies in the face of convention.

I say for bigoted reasons, because Timothy McVeigh was middle class and employed and he looked and could have been anyone. Homespun terrorists hit too close to home to analyze perhaps, much easier to hand wring and wonder about the truth when we don’t have to examine ourselves too closely.

People are something in between herd and pack animals – we like just enough structure to provide a consistent and stable framework, but we also like our individuality and some freedom from restrictive social roles (gender or socio-economic). Collectively, anyway, some people reveal in anarchy and others rejoice in rigidity. To each their own comfort level, but most of us in the middle spectrum like these two extremes in some balance or variability – it maintains our illusion of not only freedom, but free will.

Aside: Here’s a terrible thought, what if the only true expression of free will is choosing to die?

It all comes down to what do you value, or, as the punk rocker wrote, what you believe in.

Do you believe in yourself or do you only credit you with value when you are in service or attached to something bigger?

I think that if you are not enough to assign value to, you have no option but to glom onto something bigger, be it religion, politics, sub-culture, anti-culture or social movement. But, by casting yourself in a supporting role, you become vulnerable to exploitation by people who have no problem with their own self worth and often will fall prey to people with the opposite problem – those who value themselves as better than everyone else.

Leaders of movements have dupes, pawns, toadies, hangers on, minions and disaffected fanatics to do the sacrificing.

It’s never the leaders of any movement who self-immolate or strap on a bomb belt – when the leaders of a movement die, it’s usually a result of either their own over-indulgence with drugs/alcohol or in a doomsday cult mass murder/suicide when the legal authorities come knocking and blaring music and blazing gunfire.

It doesn’t matter how much education or professional accreditation or career accomplishments or families one has, without self-worth, there can be no value or worth inherent in these accomplishments and connections. Without valuing yourself, you have no value to transfer or put into accomplishments or connections; and instead, seek external validation to convey worth and value to your person.

It seems to me, that in addition to fluoride to compensate for the state of dental hygiene, that the government may wish to add anti-depressants to the water. Except that governments of any kind prefer a compliant and only marginally disaffected population who feels bad enough to console themselves through shopping therapy, but not bad enough to get out and vote or revolt.

We find meaning and purpose when we are connected to other people, to the community and we can economically participate and contribute to the world. But this cannot be our only source of value – we have to value ourselves in order for other people to value our contributions and to value ourselves.

Individuals are the basic part that make up the larger blocks of family, friends, colleagues (packs), demographic groups (herds), and segments of society (hives). We are the parts that form the sum, and must in turn, be enhanced as a part by the resultant sum. It is not enough that we contribute, but our contribution must be honored and recognized uniquely.

By us being a part and merely feeding the machine without recognition and enhancement, without that feedback  balance, it is little wonder then, that maladaptive and anti-social behaviours emerge, and eventually, bites the hand that has stopped feeding them.