10. “It is not possible for there ever, in the United States of America, to be a separation between God and government because God is the source of every single right which government has a sacred duty to protect … not a single one of our unalienable rights will be safe in the hands of a president who believes that we evolved from slime and we are the descendants of apes and baboons … look at the nation states in the 20th century which rejected the creator God of the Judeo-Christian tradition – Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia, Communist China. The one thing all of these secular states share in common is dead bodies.”

Bryan Fischer, American Family Association

Click here for the American Humanist Association article


Republican to Rethuglican

Under Abraham Lincoln, the Republican Party ended slavery, saved the nation from division and reaffirmed the goal of the founding fathers, which was that each person be free to pursuit life, liberty and happiness.

Conservatism – the classical small government with little to no interference in people’s lives – fulfilled it’s promise – and the tyranny of the majority was set aside for the benefit and freedom of a minority group.

But this is actually classical liberalism – government ensuring that all citizens – no matter the number, no matter how small or tall, or gender or wealth or beliefs or characteristics innate or chosen – to be free to have choice, personal sovereignty regardless or even – perhaps especially – despite the majority’s preference or interest in curtailing and limiting that choice and freedoms.

After all, the reason that we organize ourselves with rules about how to interact with each other – how to balance my needs and and interests with or against your needs and interests – is because it’s difficult to be fair to others when we are in a conflict of interest with our needs vs their needs. So we default to rules that apply equally to everyone to settle the scores before they become feuds and grudge matches.

So, it is interesting to me that modern day conservatives claim to be for small government and no government interference in our lives – because social conservatives very much seek government interference in our lives – well, in the lives of the groups of people they don’t like – women seeking abortions, gays seeking to marry, and people seeking to end their lives because they are suffering death by slow degrees of illness.

It is as if the social conservatives, who are religious, have accepted that it’s up to god if they or their baby live – yet, they demand that government enforce what they claim that their god wants through if not secular law directly, then by forcing more religious law into secular law and if that’s not possible, then through terrorism of bombing abortion clinics, shooting doctors, using gross emotionalism and rhetoric and threatening political pressure of voting blocs – anything they can to force their preferences on the population by any means neccessary.

Rick Mercer, a Canadian comedic performer and political commentator once summed up the Canadian Liberals as willing to sell out grandma in order to hang onto power and the Canadian Conservatives as preferring self destruction to compromise.

Considering that the Canadian Conservatives are left of the American conservatives, we can extrapolate this further to that American Conservatives are willing to kill or allow to die rather than compromise.

This is the mentality of people who use violence to impost their worldview on the world – Norway, 9/11, Oklahoma, Spain – this is the mentality of terrorists.

The American Christians often complain that they couldn’t get away with the riots and protests that eastern Islamics “get away” with when they protest against editorial cartoons and other freedom of expression expressions that they find offensive to their religion.

But this is because American Christians themselves are unwilling to put their personal freedoms and lives on the line for their beliefs – they chose to not riot and risk arrest –  injury or even death, or jail time. They prefer that other people are sacrificed for their beliefs – other people’s freedoms especially – which is why they fight so hard now to oppose gay marriage, since they lost the battle of women voting ad black slavery – a serious set back given the victory over the aboriginal people of North America – which, when you think about it, is a little like elder abuse of grandparents.

No, Christians in the west have more effective tools than merely a violent showing of anger and frustration – they can instead, threaten to punish everyone else for not obeying.

This is the entire basis of the recent American debt ceiling – the American religious right holding the entire world’s economy hostage and threatening to destabilize everyone if their small and petty concerns – small and petty compared to the impact and destructiveness they were willing to release in the world.

It is as if the religious refuse to accept that many people do not accept the limitations they have have accepted as divine, so if we are not compelled by their god’s threat of hell or bribe of heaven to behave in particular ways, then they will hold the secular government – the authority of the secular world – hostage to their insatiable demands for blind worship of the authority they would have for themselves.

Which, you have to wonder, with all the terrorists who leave behind manifestos that ramble incoherently about the way the world should be back by a threat if the manifesto’s world view isn’t upheld – how is that any different than the bible or other so called sacred texts?

Is the only difference between a one man terror cell’s manifesto and a sacred text, the number of believers in it who are willing to carry out the stated threat?

New Atheists vs New Gays

There is much hullabaloo about the so called “New Atheists” by the Religious Righteous.

We’re aggressive, offensive, immoral and don’t work and play well with others – in short – all the things that the Religious Righteous are themselves but project onto others.

Aside: We always hate in others what we are ourselves.*

* Not ironic or without self awareness, as I fight my tendencies towards being a dogmatic rules lawyer and policy wonk daily.

It comes down to the Religious Righteous being threatened because atheists are no longer staying quiet or in “our place”.

We’ve become uppity.

Any time there has been a group that is no longer content to be legally and socially less than, well, straight white males with wealth, those groups are threatening to the status quo and so are painted with the same brushes:

uppity, unnatural, immoral, disturbed, incompetent and lacking in respect

Aside: “Status Quo” seems to be a lot like “The Popular Kids” in high school, they are the top of the social scale, but no one actually likes them. So, how did they get to be the popular or the status that everyone else is deemed lacking in comparison and value.

The problem with the “respect” is that what is meant is entirely different and that is “reverence” – and this is the most important aspect, because the rest all stem from this aspect. The problem for the Religious Righteous is not how the questions are asked, but that they are asked at all.

Religion cannot be separated from discrimination, as both come down to the same belief that “my” group of people are special and better than all other groups.

What the Religious Righteous are protecting is not the status quo, but rather their entitlement to discriminate being confused with a right to discriminate since that discrimination is divine to their mindset.

Every social advance is a rejection of the Religious Righteous’ status quo and is not reverent or deferential:

  • women getting to vote, own property, drive and be in charge of their own sexuality and bodies;
  • ethnic minorities being able to vote, be treated equal under the law, be able to marry people outside of their ethnicity; and
  • sexual minorities with gays and lesbians leading the charge, being granted the same basic civil rights as every other citizen, slowly and too often by referendum because rights flow from legislation, not rule by the mob.

There have been atheists for a very long time – back to ancient Greece in fact.

These atheists were very outspoken, so the so called new atheists are really getting back to the roots – coming out of centuries of shadows that religion pushed us into under fear of death.

Aside: Given how medievally Pope Palpatine dresses and his stated goal of reuniting all xtians under his…under the Catholic Church…I can only assume he longs for the days of absolute rule and being able to force hemlock martinis into science minded folks .

What’s more interesting than all the Religious Righteous’ engaging in childish name calling and discrimination is the discussion going on with the so called New Atheists – and that is how the New Atheists are looking to the Gay Rights Movement for strategy.

Because in a relatively short time, gays have become a part of the mainstream and even status quo fabric in many places in a much faster and less violent manner than any earlier wave of social change.

Part of it is that no one is calling anyone the “New Gays” despite a certain accuracy of that phrase.

In entertainment, gays are no longer the ill fated suicide or murder victim, not the Nelly or Sissy Boy, not the sexually threatening Diesel Dyke preying on innocent school girls.

Gay characters in entertainment moved quickly after the 70’s – going from the earlier stereotypes of shadowy and miserable but occasionally fabulous to real people coming out and standing up for themselves to plain folks just trying to make their way in the world the same as anyone else – but with a better sense of fashion and wittier.

In real lives,  when I came out in the 90’s, it wasn’t illegal or likely to result in being locked up in a mental institution like it was for people who came out in the 70s or earlier.

But, it was legal for me to be fired, evicted, denied promotion, not be legally protected from sexual orientation discrimination and the idea of gay couple rights was nothing I expected to live long enough to see.

But, in the last decade – in Canada:

  • mid 90’s legal to serve in the military openly
  • 2000 included in common law marriage
  • 2003 included in marriage, which triggered a wide range of rights and most importantly, established legal kinship

Gays coming out now, have no idea what it was like for gays in the 70’s, never mind the 50’s and are generally horrified that there was a time you could be fired for being gay, never mind beaten up by the cops for it.

This is a very good thing that what earlier gays and lesbians went through is unimaginable by today’s gays and lesbians because that also means that the straight folks are also changing and not thinking that the discriminatory and even violent behaviour towards gays and lesbians is remotely okay.

That is what scares the Religious Righteous the most – they are increasingly preaching to the converted.

There certainly are new gays, but until atheists achieve a mainstream momentum – as evidenced by a politician declaring themself an atheist would not make them unelectable.

Unlike other social movements, there has been few atheist characters in entertainment and there isn’t a strong stereotype of atheist, which makes social measurements more difficult.

Most entertainment – TV and movie characters – tend to be vague on a character’s belief system and only in the last decade have there been overtly atheist characters – like House, MD and Bones – both medical procedural programs.

When more kinds of characters in movies and TV are specially atheist – rather than merely refraining from being overtly religious – then we could start to say that there’s such a thing as a new atheist.

Because not too long in the future, the mainstream will be surprised that being an atheist was ever an issue.

Funny things about the Religious Righteous

I think society has an interest in what people believe or at least people with beliefs that they attempt to shoehorn them into law or public policy.

Society’s interest isn’t merely ensuring that law and public policy is for everyone equally, but really any arena where a person with the ability to impose their beliefs on the public.

For example, the CEO of a polluting company who is a young earth creationist waiting for the second coming is going to be very resistant to environmental protection laws that will decrease company revenues when he thinks that the jewish zombie is coming back and will fix everything for the faithful.

Or people who influence foreign policy to support Israel because they want to bring about Armageddon based on vague bible passages.

Aside: For me, supporting the only democratic country in that region is reason enough to support Israel generally. Support isn’t blanket approval however, but when you are faced with an enemy using civilian shields, you can’t abandon your self-defense.

We get very distracted by the high media profile of the religious righteous’ opposition to gay marriage that few tend to see these bigger picture issues.

Although,  I think it’s funny is that the religious righteous seem to think that they can prevent gay marriage – and make gay people stop being gay by extension –  when they have lost every other human rights advance in the last century.

Delay is possible, but not prevention. Sometimes I wonder if these large organized church groups want to be engaged in future litigation and reparations arising from their active oppression and suppression of equal rights.

I also think that we don’t have to examine beliefs very deeply to determine which are the more extreme and harmful ones.

Any group whose basic premise is that their belief defines them as a special privileged group with a mission to bring others into the fold or eliminate non-believers is a problem.

Because these groups come down not to “Us vs Them,” but “Us at the expense of Them.”

Us vs Them is workable because that has some balance, conflict is between an evenly powerful pair of groups or at least on somewhat equal footing or at least one not favoured by law over the other.

But the mentality of Us at the expense of Them is what drives and justifies – well, demands actually – the oppression of the Them group from denied equality to special laws limiting Them’s ability to participate in society as any other member, all the way up to genocide.

Humans dominate the planet not because we’re the best or smartest or strongest – we lack tearing teeth, claws, scales or fur, our sight and hearing ranges are limited – our sense of smell is impaired – but it’s our ability to co-operate – to share resources to develop and build upon technology – that has allowed us to become so dominant and alter our environment that we are now a threat to other life on the planet.

Groups that do not want to work and play well with others are everyone’s concern.

I guess that wasn’t that funny.

How is this justice?

In 1993, Robert Latimer, a Saskatchewan farmer ended the life of his severely disabled daughter by carbon monoxide poisoning from vehicle exhaust. He then turned himself over to police and started a firestorm public discussion about euthanasia and disability. He was sentenced for second degree murder and isn’t eligible for full parole until December 2010. He is currently in a halfway home with some unescorted day parole, which he uses to travel back to Saskatchewan to be with his family.

On Feb. 27, 1999, Anton “Tony” Lorenz  kicked his girlfriend, Sandra Quigley in the teeth, battered her head with a telephone and finished her off with a pillow. Sandra was 32 and had previously been hospitalized twice following beatings and one of those times, the beating was so severe that she miscarried.

Lornez is now on partial parole and living in the community where the murder took place and where Sandra’s friends and family live.

Latimer has never denied his actions and many Canadians, myself included, agree with and are sympathetic to the mercy reasons behind his difficult choice. His daughter was in constant pain, with no relief and no hope for any meaningful life. He ended her life gently.

Lornez brutally beat Sandra on several occasions and doesn’t take responsibility for his actions. Shockingly, the parole board still granted him parole while he has avoided questions and doesn’t take responsibility.

Parole is supposed to be for people who have admitted what they did and regret it. Not for people who push the responsibility to the victim and refuse to discuss the events.

This is especially disheartening when you consider people like David Milgaard who was not eligible for parole because he wouldn’t admit to murder and remained in jail for 21 years until DNA finally cleared him of the crime and the actual killer was identified.

Has it really become more socially acceptable for a man to brutally murder a woman than for a parent to end the life of a severely disabled and in chronic pain child?

Latimer does not pose any danger to the public while Lornez does.

Latimer has never denied responsibility and maintained that he was motivated by mercy, while Lornez doesn’t accept responsibility and blames his victim.

Latimer, in addition to being incarcerated for a longer time period has the added punishment of national infamy. While Lornez has the dubious benefit of being one of many men anonymous to the public who’ve murdered wives and girlfriends and ex-wives and ex-girlfriends.

While it is true that Latimer’s daughter was a far more vulnerable victim, being a child and having severe cerebral palsy making her unable to communicate or move on her own, and had a relationship with a far greater duty of care – parent to child. To many people, Latimer was acting to spare his child a life of pain and suffering. His actions are intellectually understandable although emotionally anguishable. Latimer was not motivated by greed or anger or rage, but compassion for his daughter and his family. A decision of life or death of one’s child has to be the most difficult one a parent has to make, especially if it’s not a simple removal of hospital care.

Parents who’s child is hospitalized aren’t charged with second degree murder for removing life sustaining treatment. Which is a much closer comparable for Latimer’s situation.

Lornez’s murder of Quigley and earlier beatings of her are not at all defensible. That the couple had broken up and he convinced her to return to him suggests that he probably would have murdered her for leaving him.

Women are often more at risk of being murdered by the abusive ex-boyfriend/husband once a restraining order is issued – as it is a direct challenge to the man’s perceived authority and masculinity and this can escalate his actions from abuse/stalking to murder.

What’s interesting to me is that the groups that were so publically outraged by Latimer’s ending his daughter’s life were typically the religious groups.

Yet, these same groups never come forward to protest against the Lornez type cases.

It is very peculiar to me that the religious righteous tend to be so concerned to maintain the continued existence of anyone who can’t speak for themselves (the unborn, the Terri Schiavo‘s, etc). The Religious Righteous remain silent on the deaths of people who can communicate when they are crime victims or soldiers. But the Religious Righteous speak out in favour of death for people who can communicate when they are the murderers.

I have to wonder, why it is that the Religious Righteous attempt to speak out for “those who can’t”. Is is because if the person could, they would tell the Religious Righteous to back off? That they don’t share the Religious Righteous’ beliefs or terror of death?

It’s peculiar that the Religious Righteous upholds Family Values as ideals, yet attempt to interfere in many people’s families that they are not members of.

It is the legal and moral responsibility of parents and spouses to make decisions for spouses and children who are incapacitated. It is up to the woman to decide what is occurring within her body, and she is the first in line to speak for any offspring.

It is not up to unrelated people to step in between a parent and child or potential child; nor between two spouses. Not legally and not morally.

It is in everyone’s interests to ensure that society is as safe as it can be – so it is in our interests to intervene and condemn the beatings, rapes and murders of any member of society.

Sure, some people view abortion as murder and that would have some credibility if their concern about abortion was matched by a concern about murder generally. But it doesn’t.

Too often what abortion objections come down to is subjugating and controlling women, punishing them for sex and often racism. More often than not, there’s more concern that it’s white women having abortions and it ties into the xenophobic fear of being outbred by other ethnicities.

If you don’t believe me, think about all the anti-abortion demonstrations you’ve seen or activists you’ve heard of – primarily white and usually male.

It occurred to me some time ago to not only listen and consider the message, but also look at the group demographics promoting the view.

It seemed to me that if the group was largely homogenous on ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status, that likely, there’s something else uniting the group that underlies the issue they are making public.

That if an issue was truly just or correct, that the supporters would cross a lot of those demographics. Because it would be the issue, such as environmental protection, that drew people from all walks of life to unite in common cause.

Whereas an issue dominated by a particular demographic feels more like a symptom of a larger unifying cause.

To my mind, motivation counts, a lot.

Which takes us full circle back – Latimer’s motivation was compassion and Lorenz was control over his victim.

Funny then that the Religious Righteous is outraged at the compassion and unfazed by the attempt to control.

Are people of the religious right insecure?

The religious right has demonstrated over and over that what it fears more than atheists, more than gays/lesbians/bis/trans, more than single unwed mothers – is non-conformists of any kind.

It doesn’t matter how you don’t conform, it’s the non-conforming to what they think is optimal.

It’s as if they so insecure in being publicly straight and married with kids – that they are only validated when they can force everyone to behave or at least act in public like they are too.

You can see it in their eyes: “if everyone just doesn’t have sex before they are married and has kids and stays faithful (or at least doesn’t get caught), then no one has to know that I like kinky sex in front of mixed groups”

Because this is the thing – the more straight laced a person is in public, the more kinky they turn out to be in private.

Now the funny part is that when a member of the religious right is shown to be a hypocrite and does get caught with the dreaded dead girl or live boy – is that they don’t lose their credibility with the rank and file religious right.

This is confusing to the left, because word and deed are supposed to be the same – and being a hypocrite is supposed to matter – it’s supposed to show that the words people say mean nothing.

But that’s not what happens, the left forgets that the religious right is very big on redemption – the only thing better than being pure to the ideals, is failing and redeeming, being born again to those ideals.