Tribute to Nick Josh Karean

Strictly speaking, as an Honorable Skeptic, I do not expect to have followers of my ethical philosophy. Nor am I a blind follower of anyone (because then I wouldn’t be a skeptic). No, not even Carl Sagan, though he was a idol of mine in childhood and he was one of my direct influences in the creation of my standard of ethics. But there is one person whose vision so closely mirrors my own, and even exceeds it in many ways, that I must pay tribute to him as a brother in arms against ignorance, superstition, and self-serving bigotry: Nick Josh Karean.

Facebook profile link: https://www.facebook.com/nickjoshkarean

YouTube Channel link: http://www.youtube.com/nicksfilmz

He lives in a nation split between Buddhists, Muslims, Christians and Hindus, among other religious communities, yet he was a fundamentalist Christian early in his life, just as I was. Eventually, however, he learned to get away from that and developed critical thinking, becoming one of the strongest advocates for reason, science and objective truth I’ve ever known. He currently works in film making and visual effects.

I invite all who know me to also join with him.

Is this Justice?

Consider the following scenario:

An African-American restaurant owner in New York City learns that one of his white employees was born in Alabama.  He calls that employee to his office.

Owner: “Is it true you came from Alabama, a southern state?”

Employee:  “Yes. But I moved to New York four years ago.”

Owner:  “Then you are FIRED!  I won’t have racists working for me. More than half of our customers are African-American and I won’t risk you offending them with racist remarks.”

Employee: “What?! But have I done anything wrong?  If I was a racist, I would not be here!”

Owner:  “I used to live in the south. And virtually every white person I dealt with there was racist, constantly looking down on me and other black kids. I finally got out of that situation, and I’ll be damned if the bigotry follows me up here.”

Employee: “Well, don’t you think I am also sick of the bigotry of my fellow whites? I also left the south to live here because of the culture. YOU are the one being racist against ME because of both my skin color and where I was born.  I’m not responsible for either of those things!”

Owner: “You still benefited from the racism you grew up in, just as I suffered from it. Now you are going to learn how it feels to be discriminated against!  GET OUT!”

Truth in Advertising: Photoshopping must be outlawed.

Photoshopping is using a special computer program that manipulates a photo to alter its appearance. Models that appear on magazine covers often have their pictures photoshopped to make them look more attractive than they really are (according to some standard of beauty held in most of the Western world, but not a universal one).

This unethical practice has been criticized for giving most girls a terrible self image by making them compare their imperfect bodies to what they see in magazines. A similar  argument has been made about Barbie dolls, with their unrealistic body proportions, but at least pictures of Barbie dolls are not photoshopped. Doing that to actual human models should be considered fraud. And fraud IS illegal, so it is not a stretch to outlaw photoshopping and require all magazines, newspapers, and news websites to only publish pictures that are not photoshopped. We should be able to see what is real, not someone’s idea of beauty that is not real!

How to Fight Gerrymandering

Gerrymandering is the unethical process by which one party which is currently dominant in a state attempts to maintain its dominance by drawing districts for state legislators or Congressmen to favor that party and its candidates. It is the very antithesis of democracy, in which the people are to elect their leaders and representatives; instead, in gerrymandering, the representatives choose what people they want to have voting for them. This allows certain extremist nutcases like Rep. Michelle Bachmann to be elected over and over again without fear of losing their seats to a more moderate opposing candidate.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerrymandering

Illustrated in that Wikipedia entry are some particular examples of gerrymandering, but the most obvious one of all seems to be:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illinois%27s_4th_congressional_district

GerrymanderingThere is simply no excuse for this, no matter what party commits it!  If Republicans filed a lawsuit to change or eliminate this district, I would support them too.

I have come up with an idea on how to identify gerrymandered districts.

CircleUsing the circle and the point indicating its center, I propose that any district that touches at least three points 45 degrees apart from each other and also contains the point at the center of the circle may be considered a fairly drawn district. By this test, the 4th Congressional District in Illinois would certainly not qualify. Nor would:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Carolina%27s_12th_congressional_district

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California%27s_23rd_congressional_district

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illinois%27_17th_congressional_district

All those districts should be opposed. I would lobby for a bill to be passed by Congress and in every state legislature mandating my standard for all congressional and state legislative districts. I would also ask for the federal courts to intervene. Indeed, I would strongly recommend that only federal courts, not state legislatures, be allowed to draw districts. Otherwise, it is like the fox guarding the hen-house.

Rape, School Sports and Small Town Insanity

P Z Myers put the spotlight on a teenage rapist yesterday:

http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/10/14/matthew-barnett-sleazebag-and-rapist

The story is sadly typical of small towns and their pathetic bigotries, but what really drew my attention later was a comment below it. (Emphasis mine.)

http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/10/14/matthew-barnett-sleazebag-and-rapist/comment-page-1/#comment-705351

39
MarkM1427

15 October 2013 at 1:04 am (UTC -5)

Anonymous? That scumbag will wish he only had the cops to deal with. If only they’d go after the media for not calling this shit what it is: an inexcusable, unforgivable act of violence against another human being. I didn’t see a word of this until ThinkProgress shared it on Facebook. I wonder why no one else seems to give a shit about the actual victims here. Ever since I first read this story it’s been stuck in the back of my head. It obviously pisses me off, but it also hits close to home in several ways for me.

As outraged as I am about this, I’m not at all surprised. It’s not the first time I’ve heard about a small town demonizing the victims who dared to put the town through the trauma of dealing with the fact that a heinous crime happened in their neighborhood instead of, you know, the actual criminal. A similar story of what happened to my grandmother has stuck with my family for nearly 50 years. (I’m not going to derail the thread with the whole story, but a small town covered up the murder of her mother since the guy who did it was close to powerful people in the town.) Why can’t this shit ever change?

And this has finally done it. I thought I would never say this, but I can’t go on believing that athletic programs are a positive influence for students. Even though I benefited from sports myself, I can’t support them anymore. I was an athlete in high school, and to this day I believe that being part of the football team did a lot to make me more social then. I have Asperger’s and I might not have as much as spoken a word the whole four years if I didn’t join one group or another. For so long I defended these sports programs as something that could be a great influence on the athletes if the coaches actually gave a damn about that like the ones I had did.

But no more. I now see that my experience was the exception, not the rule. School sports, much like religion, corrupts the adults who are involved in it, you know, the ones that are supposed to ACT LIKE ADULTS. If sports programs warp peoples’ minds to the point that they are consistently willing to enable rape by athletes in the name of winning a fucking ball game, they are toxic to society and we should cast them out of schools.

I don’t intend to derail the thread with the tangent I know I went off on, but this story has had my mind spinning faster than a centrifuge ever since I read it. I can’t wait for the town to finally have the wrath of the rest of the country descend on them for the scumbags they are.

And that led me to ask what, if anything, do sports programs have to do with the actual process of education? Nothing that I can see. Yet almost every school and college out there has a sports program which no doubt costs money to maintain. Perhaps it is time to start putting pressure on schools to eliminate funding for sports programs before they even think of eliminating anything else from a school’s budget!

An Open Letter to President Barack Obama

To Barack Obama, the President of the United States of America:

The Affordable Care Act is the LAW OF THE LAND, passed by both Houses of Congress (yes, even the Republican controlled House of Representatives), signed by you, and affirmed as constitutional by the U. S. Supreme Court. Therefore, attempts by Republicans in Congress to DEFUND what is federal law is criminal behavior, just as disobedience to any other law is criminal behavior. We should allow no exceptions here. By engaging in criminal behavior, the Republicans sitting in Congress, even going so far as to shut down the government rather allow what is federal law to be funded have forfeited their right to be representatives of the people, like anyone else who commits a federal crime. I call upon you, as the elected Chief Executive of the United States, to direct the Department of Justice to issue arrest warrants against every Republican in Congress and charge them all with CONSPIRACY TO COMMIT SEDITION! END THE GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN BY REMOVING THE ONES RESPONSIBLE FROM OFFICE NOW!

Dale Husband, the Honorable Skeptic

300 teens should be LOCKED UP!

I find this incredible!

http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/brian-holloway-former-nfl-star-reacts-teens-trash-house-twitter-091813

Ex-NFL player reacts to trashed house

An estimated 300 teenagers threw a party at the house of Brian Holloway over Labor Day weekend, authorities say, causing a reported $20,000 in damage to the property of the former New England Patriots and Los Angeles Raiders left tackle.

That sentence might normally make Holloway sound like the coolest irresponsible uncle ever, except there’s a catch: Holloway spends most of his time these days in Florida and wasn’t at the Stephentown, N.Y., vacation home at the time of the rager.

Continue reading

Random thoughts about the George Zimmerman/Treyvon Martin case

1. Since both the victim and the defendant in the case were male, why was there an all female jury? How is that different from an all-white jury judging a black person having killed another black person?

2. It does not matter who attacked whom first, the fact remains that Treyvon Martin was unarmed and George Zimmerman had a gun, giving him an overwhelming advantage. The fact that Martin was shot in the heart shows that Zimmerman meant to kill him, rather than merely disable him to stop the fight. He should have been convicted of manslaughter, at least.

3. “Stand your ground” laws might as well be called “permission to use violence as a first option rather than a last resort”. What do we call societies in which that is commonly accepted? Barbaric anarchies, which America should be anything but!

4. The jury probably did not want to convict Zimmerman of anything because doing so would have been a virtual death sentence for him. He’d go to a prison, and prisons across the USA are known to have a disproportionate number of African-American men, most of whom would be more than happy to kill Zimmerman. A possible solution would have been to sentence Zimmerman to house arrest for many years instead of prison. Indeed, why not sentence most convicted felons to house arrest instead of prison?

5. Neighborhood watch groups are supposed to call the police and alert them to possible crimes being committed as they occur, not take the law into their own hands like Zimmerman clearly did!

6. I was just as outraged when O. J. Simpson was found not guilty of those murder charges he faced. It makes NO difference to me whether a person of any race gets off after killing a person of any race.

7. Treyvon Martin’s family could still sue Zimmerman for wrongful death of the victim. Unlike criminal trials where the prosecution is expected to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt, civil court cases are decided based on how much the evidence is weighed on each side. By that standard, Zimmerman should lose badly, just as O J Simpson did.

Atheists on Facebook

The Center for Inquiry hosted a conference for women in which it’s CEO, Ron Lindsay, made a total idiot of himself and offended a LOT of the women (and enlightened men) for whom the conference was made by implying that feminists who wanted men to listen to them were no better than the men who were being disrespectful to them.

Continue reading

A powerful statement about abortion

This statement was made by a woman on Facebook who used to be an anti-abortion activist. Her name will not be mentioned, but her words should be shared far and wide:

Sometime in college it occurred to me through logical, empathetic thinking that [having an abortion] must be a very scary and difficult position to be in and I couldn’t help but have the utmost respect for any woman who made a choice for herself and her life, whatever her choice was. That was a turning point for me, somehow suddenly recognizing the human involved in the situation.

I was fed a lot of false statistics about the relationship between abortion, depression, breast cancer, etc., and I believed it all. They (youth pastors) told us too that there were far fewer abortions before Roe v. Wade, and that was proof that banning it would decrease the number happening, that the back alley abortion was an insignificant number, mythical almost. I’ve since learned international statistics don’t support that and that all the other stuff is false, too.

I was skeptical about different aspects of the Church since about middle school, but I had no support for those thoughts, and it took a long time to get to where I am today on my own.

First, it never acceptable to lie to support a cause, however well intentioned. Second, if banning abortion will not save the lives of unborn children, but instead endanger the pregnant women, then anti-abortionists have no right to call themselves “pro-life”. NRA members often say, “If you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns.” The same is true of abortions.

Traditionally, fetuses have never been considered citizens; personhood was always said to begin at birth, not conception, which is why you always to this day see birthdates on gravestones, followed by the date of a person’s death; the date of conception would be irrelevant even if it were known. Indeed, the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution says: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” (emphasis mine)

A pregnant woman who was born in the United States is unquestionably a citizen, unlike her unborn fetus. And nothing could be more depriving that woman of her liberty than forcing her to bear a child she does not want to carry to term!

And that is the legal basis for the Roe vs. Wade decision of 1973.

Copyright abuse

First, read this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DMCA

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a United States copyright law that implements two 1996 treaties of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). It criminalizes production and dissemination of technology, devices, or services intended to circumvent measures (commonly known as digital rights management or DRM) that control access to copyrighted works. It also criminalizes the act of circumventing an access control, whether or not there is actual infringement of copyright itself. In addition, the DMCA heightens the penalties for copyright infringement on the Internet[citation needed]. Passed on October 12, 1998, by a unanimous vote in the United States Senate and signed into law by President Bill Clinton on October 28, 1998, the DMCA amended Title 17 of the United States Code to extend the reach of copyright, while limiting the liability of the providers of on-line services for copyright infringement by their users.

The DMCA’s principal innovation in the field of copyright, the exemption from direct and indirect liability of internet service providers and other intermediaries, was adopted by the European Union in the Electronic Commerce Directive 2000. The Copyright Directive 2001 implemented the 1996 WIPO Copyright Treaty in the EU.

Takedown notice

Google asserted misuse of the DMCA in a filing concerning New Zealand’s copyright act,[25] quoting results from a 2005 study by Californian academics Laura Quilter and Jennifer Urban based on data from the Chilling Effects clearinghouse.[26] Takedown notices targeting a competing business made up over half (57%) of the notices Google has received, the company said, and more than one-third (37%), “were not valid copyright claims.”[27]

The original purpose of copyright laws was to protect creativity by allowing artists, both of visual arts and music, to make their fair share of money from selling their own creations. It is certainly unethical for anyone to claim another’s original work as his own and then make a profit from that work being sold.

Too often, however, what happens is that people wanting to censor a viewpoint they find offensive make claims based on their interpretation of the DMCA to claim copyright infringement that is not valid or, even if technically valid, really is not fair at all.

Here is a perfect example. Watch this video by YouTube user cdk007:

Did you enjoy it? Maybe if you were a younger person you were bored by the classical music track that was used for it. But in fact, that was not the original music that was used for the video. Instead, cdk007 used this music first:

That DOES sound 100% better, in my opinion. But soon after cdk007 posted the video about evolution, he was slapped with a DMCA takedown notice and he was forced to replace the soundtrack. But he never claimed the song “Jesus of Suburbia” was his creation, nor did he make money from that video. I doubt that Green Day, the artist that made the song, was to blame for what happened, it seems so unlike them!

What happened in this case was de facto censorship. The DMCA actually SUPPRESSES creativity and freedom of speech and it should be repealed.

Laci Green condemns “witch hunts”

This is the direct sequel to

http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2012/07/10/a-death-threat-against-laci-green/

At the time, I assumed she was being attacked by people who were against her being an atheist and/or hated her sex positive stand. I later learned that she was being attacked by transgendered people and others because she had used the word “tranny” which they considered offensive. Continue reading

A Brilliant Statement About Gay Marriage

A friend of mine, Michelle Parsneau, made the following extraordinary public statement about the issue of gay marriage:

https://www.facebook.com/michelle.parsneau

https://www.facebook.com/michelle.parsneau/posts/4332476863607

For all those who talk about “traditional marriage based on the Bible”…

Now would that be Abraham and Sarah (half siblings), Jacob, Rachel and Leah, (not only bigamy but also cousins), David who loved Jonathan “better than any woman” and had multiple wives, or Solomon with his 300 wives and 900 concubines, or the one where a raped virgin is now ‘married’ to her rapist? Biblical marriage has never been one kind only, nor are all of them particularly just constructs.

At the end of the day, a marriage in the U.S. is a legal, civil contract. We only give pastors and religious leaders the courtesy of having the power to perform those ceremonies with legal binding. Preventing two adults from entering into that contract of their own accord based on gender is discrimination, and is not Constitutional, nor is it an American value.

In Minnesota, gay/lesbian marriage is currently illegal already. Can’t bring yourself to vote NO on the amendment? Then, I respectfully ask that you refrain from voting on that issue, as it is only mean spirited and discriminatory to vote for it. Utilizing empathy would be a good way to evaluate this issue.

I want to live in a country and a state that practices full equality as well as freedom of and from religion. Nothing in the idea of gay/lesbian marriage will force people of any religious faith to do anything against their faith. Concerned that pastors and clergy people will be forced to perform marriages they don’t agree with? Get over yourself. They aren’t forced to perform marriages for anyone they don’t like now. How do I know? A narrow-minded pastor who didn’t like what he thought were weaknesses in Kevin and my faith refused to marry us. Of course, he was wrong and 15 years has pretty concretely proven that one. Am I saying that religious leaders can be wrong? Um, hell yes I am. They are just as human as the rest of us.

I want that statement to be seen everywhere!

No King Rules Forever….or Should

First, read this:

http://news.yahoo.com/fans-lance-armstrong-doping-saga-spoils-memories-174746249.html

For fans like me, Lance Armstrong doping saga spoils memories

Peter Ford, who covered Lance Armstrong’s winning streak at the Tour de France for the Monitor, writes that Armstrong’s doping has ‘tainted some of my happiest memories of reporting in France.’

By Peter Ford | Christian Science Monitor – 1 hr 21 mins ago

Thirteen years ago, on an idyllic summer’s afternoon, I stood by the side of a road in the cheesemaking region of Cantal and watched Lance Armstrong speed by, tucked into the peloton, on his way to his first victory in the Tour de France.

It was 1999. A year earlier the Tour had been in tatters, devastated by a doping scandal that had seen police and judges raiding riders’ hotel rooms in the middle of the night, seizing drugs. Armstrong’s successful arrival on the scene after overcoming cancer “is symbolic of the way the Tour de France is emerging from its own battle against disappearance,” said the tour director at the time.

His victory would be “highly symbolic of the combat he fought against death, and that we are fighting against doping,” promised Jean-Marie Leblanc.

It turns out that Mr. Armstrong beat the Tour de France organizers just as he had beaten death. Today the International Cycling Union (UCI), accepting evidence gathered by the US Anti-Doping Agency that Armstrong was a serial drug-taker, stripped the US “champion” of all his titles.

Even back in 1999, people suspected something was wrong. “Armstrong is very strong, too strong, incredibly strong,” commented one French TV journalist the evening that the US rider won a punishing stage in the Alps.

But that could be dismissed as sour grapes, as an American charged into a sport long dominated by the French and swept all before him, “winning” a record seven Tours.

And we all wanted to believe in Armstrong, from the UCI – for whom he was a magnificent money-spinning mascot for his sport – down to the lowliest spectator standing by the side of the road who admired his comeback courage.

Well, not all of us. My (French) wife never believed Armstrong was clean. She never believed that any of the top riders were clean. In argument after argument over the years I called her cynical, pointing out that my hero had never failed a drug test. Now I know that she was just clear-eyed.

Everybody who followed Lance during his “glory days” will have his or her own way of feeling disappointed now that the truth, it seems, is out. (Armstrong has not acknowledged any guilt but says he will not challenge the USADA report.)

For me, the news has tainted some of my happiest memories of reporting in France. I used to love covering the Tour, driving halfway up an Alp one July afternoon, parking my car near a steep hairpin bend, picnicking sociably with whomever I found parked next to me (and there were always crowds of families waiting for the Tour to come by), sleeping in the car, and then the next day enjoying the hoopla of the publicity caravan before the riders themselves came by, just an arm’s length away, thighs straining, sweat pouring from their chins, teeth gritted.

It was an annual treat for me, the most fun I have ever had at work. And watching these men at the outer edges of endurance even inspired me to take up cycling myself: I had a go at one of the Tour’s mountain stages in 2005 and I spend my weekends now cycling up and down mountains. (You can imagine what my wife thinks about that….)

Lance Armstrong, whose feats excited a lot of interest in American newspaper readers, was my passport to this kind of fun, and now that we know he was cheating, it feels almost as though I was piggyback cheating by having that fun.

Even at the time though, I realize, I could not entirely ignore my wife’s doubts. That evening in July 1999, as I dictated my article over the phone to my editor, I ended it with something the spokesman for Credit Lyonnais bank, the Tour’s leading sponsor, had told me.

“We cannot be certain that a scandal won’t drop on our heads,” he said. “I have just one hope: that the rumors about Lance Armstrong are not true.”

The fact that Armstrong won the Tour de France seven times in a row, rather than just two or three times, despite having suffered from cancer, should have made us all suspicious. Not content with merely competing and producing a realistic result, Armstrong overreached.

The cheating by Armstrong could have been swept under the rug by a sporting establishment that wanted to keep making vast amounts of money due to his name and influence. But that would have sent the wrong message among young people that wanted to become cyclists as well as athletes in general.

Also, it is never acceptable to do a dishonorable thing for a good cause. Lance Armstrong was well known for promoting research on cures for cancer, having suffered from cancer himself. He still would have been a credible spokesperson for that cause even if he had never won a Tour de France race. Now, he is useless to any cause.

Two Types of Corruption

There are two types of corruption in society: direct and indirect.

Direct corruption is when someone engages in unethical actions to make a gain for himself. An example is a public official taking funds that were paid to the government in taxes and embezzling  the money to make himself rich.

Indirect corruption is when someone enables the corrupt acts of someone else by not taking action against the other person or, even worse, taking action against anyone who tries to stop the direct corruption. Like a Catholic bishop who may never molest children himself, but upon learning that a priest under his jurisdiction has done that, he simply moves that priest to a different church and digs up dirt on the accusers of the priest to try to blackmail them. It is easier to do that than do the honorable thing, because the entire system is corrupted and removing all the corrupt members would make it fall apart.

Of course, one might argue that both types of corruption are equally bad. Indeed, if there were no examples of the indirect kind, the direct kind would not be able to do as much damage as it has. Therefore, we must have zero tolerance for either kind. A system with both direct and indirect corruption for too long will eventually rot from within and will have to be torn down anyway.

Corruption and Betrayal in a WoW Guild

This is a sequel to

http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2011/12/27/some-thoughts-on-world-of-warcraft/

Last night, my faith in one of the oldest and largest guilds in all of World of Warcraft, Order of Knights Templar (OKT) of Lothar realm, was destroyed after several of its officers conspired to kick my main character, Bichorak, from the guild, claiming I caused “drama” in it.  My actual crime: Reporting to Blizzard cheating activities by one of the members, Kibblenbits, and discussing it privately with at least two of those same officers, one of whom dismissed it with the comment “Who cares?”. The actual officer who kicked me from the guild, with no warning whatsoever, was Kymophobia.

This was after I had been a member of the guild for many months and worked hard to help make the guild one of the best and most popular in Lothar realm. I’d had many, many great experiences with the guild and its members and thought nothing would ever end that. But another member, who had first alerted me to the cheating, also warned me that the corruption of the guild was not limited to that one member. I should have listened to her! Continue reading

Women shouldn’t teach at Christian schools, round 2

First, look at this:

http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2010/06/14/women-shouldnt-teach-at-christian-schools/

Are all Christian schools this bigoted? Appearantly!

http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/highschool-prep-rally/former-coach-fired-christian-school-wedlock-pregnancy-145601399.html#

Former coach of the year fired from Christian school for out-of-wedlock pregnancy

In an incredibly bizarre situation that appears headed for a legal challenge, a Dallas-area volleyball coach and science teacher was fired by the Christian school at which she worked for becoming pregnant before being married.

As first reported by Dallas Fort Worth network WFAA, Rockwall (Texas) Heritage Christian Academy volleyball coach and science teacher Cathy Samford was fired during the fall semester after she became pregnant out of wedlock. Samford had led the volleyball program for three years and had been named the school’s coach of the year once during that span.

Still, that couldn’t help save her job when she first admitted her pregnancy during the fall semester, with the school terminating her based on a  violation of her contract’s morals clause because it was determined her pregnancy meant she could not serve as “a Christian role model.”

“I looked it up and thought, ‘They can’t do this,'” the 29-year-old Samford told WFAA. “We all have different views and interpretations. It’s not necessarily the Christian thing to do to throw somebody aside because of those.”

While Samford and her lawyer, Colin Walsh, are working toward filing a discrimination suit against the school, their case may be complicated by the fact that Heritage Christian Academy is a private school, and recent Supreme Court decisions have defended the right of Christian schools to exert more influence on their hirings and firings because they consider teachers to be “ministers in the classroom.”

“The Supreme Court, as a matter of fact in the last month, has ruled 9-to-0 that a Christian school does have that right, because this is a ministry, so we have the right to have standards of conduct,” Heritage Christian Academy headmaster Dr. Ron Taylor, who acknowledged that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had contacted the school, told WFAA. “How’s it going to look to a little fourth-grade girl that sees she’s pregnant and she’s not married?”

 

While the two parties attempted mediation, those efforts failed quickly because the school refused to consider a settlement for the case.

That has left Samford uninsured and in financial distress as she heads towards giving birth, a situation she never considered possible when she was a proud member of Heritage Christian Academy’s faculty.

Would it have been better if this teacher and coach had chosen abortion to hide that she was ever pregnant? According to traditional Christian morals, isn’t having an abortion even worse than having the baby out of wedlock? And have any men been fired for getting a woman pregnant out of wedlock? I’ve never heard of that happening!

This is why I will never teach at or send any children I have to such a school….most of them seem to be run by sexist hypocrites! This is not about enforcing morals, this is about a school trying to save money by denying an insurance claim, something you would expect only from corrupt private businesses! And even if having a baby out of wedlock is considered immoral, the BABY should not be punished for her parents’ mistakes!

Andrew Breitbart is Dead

Conservative media activist and trickster Andrew Breitbart died today at the age of 43. As far as I’m concerned,  that was simply justice after all the contemptible lies he told using media manipulation to advance his right-wing agenda, which I see as itself dishonorable. He was even responsible for the unjustified downfall of ACORN shortly after Barack Obama became President, which ACORN had helped get elected.

I think we need to do what we can to either reestablish ACORN or replace it with a simular organization. I only regret that Breitbart will not live to see that happen. But there are plenty of other Republican bigots out there we can seek to punish! Their day of reckoning will come if we just have enough backbone to go after them and make them pay!

A question of incest

I just got a comment from someone named Sally. Rather than approve it where it was placed, I will copy and paste it here, along with the identifying information on it, and attempt to respond to its  points in red.

Sally
sallyfancy@hotmail.com
200.127.106.252

I have a question for you, please don’t consider that I’m attacking you.

Usually when someone opens with something like that, he is about to make a statement that really IS an attack. 

I like how you expose ignorants and bigots in this blog, but I fail to notice something important now you’re bringing up the subject of homophobia. As a bisexual woman myself in a same-sex long term relationship, I am definitely against homophobia, and as a liberal person I condemn any kind of discrimination. I’m also agnostic, so I don’t refrain from critizing religions. So far I guess we pretty much agree in our views, but I haven’t seen you (maybe you did and I’m not aware) critizing the criminalization of consensual incest between adults.

Of course, she would equate the prohibition of incest with the prohibition of homosexuality, since both were condemned in the Bible and in all Abrahamic religions. But just because the Bible condemns something doesn’t make that thing good for atheists to accept. Unless you think atheists should also accept stealing and murder.

Please note that I’m not talking about incestuous rape or incestuous abuse of minors, only consensual incest and between consenting adults. I’m sure you’re aware that consenting adults involved in consensual incestuous relationships are going to jail, punished by archaic laws because of a victimless crime like this.

I wonder if she saw my blog entries about prostitution. But even prostitution is not the same as incest, just as homosexuality is not the same as incest.

I’m not incestuous myself nor planning to ever be, but seeing how a good number of people is threatened with a long imprisonment (until 14 years in Canada, for example) only for loving a person of their family causes me too much indignation, even more noting that almost none of these self-avowed liberal activists seem to care or speak in their favour.

Loving a family member? Sorry, but in fact I do not equate “love” with having sex. If you do, I think you have some serious issues.

Please, if you really hate hypocrisy and bigotry this much, I encourage you to show support to consenting incestuous adults, they deserve to live and love in freedom.

Hypocrisy is when you profess a system of values that you fail to live up to in practice. Since I have never professed support for legalizing incest, I would not be a hypocrite. As for bigotry, that charge would make sense only if it could be proven that incest was something as fundamental to human nature as skin color. All the evidence indicates just the opposite. Unlike homosexuals, who are compelled by their nature to engage in sexual relations with members of their own gender, there is no evidence that people who practice incest are obeying some natural instinct. In most cases, there are plenty of other possible mates for the incestuous partners to avoid having sex with each other.

And I beg you not to perpetuate the offensive “deformed offspring” myth, deformed is NEVER an aceptable [sic] word to qualify a human being. 

Why not? It’s only descriptive of the person’s physical nature. It’s not a racial slur like the N-word is for black people of African descent.

Yes, disabled children may be born from incestuous couples, but most of consenting incestuous couples are NOT interested in having offspring and even if they can’t help loving a relative they’re consciously against inbreeding, besides sex is not longer only for procreation purposes (my partner and I are both women and still have sex, that’s pretty much self-explanatory), and contraceptives and sterilization exist for a good reason.

You earlier called the issue of “deformed offspring” a myth, then admitted it is not so. It seems interesting that you try to make incest more palatable by claiming that incestuous couples need not have children, but in fact there are cases of such couples who do, and often those children ARE deformed. Indeed, ONE such child resulting from such a union would be one too many!

Consensual incest between adults cause no harm to anybody, people shouldn’t be punished for loving or having sex with another consenting adult. Please, help us end the hatred and spread the tolerance, it’s very much appreciated.

Incest is harmful because it limits genetic diversity in the offspring that result from it, and thus it negates the most obvious evolutionary benefits of sexual reproduction, indeed making it pointless.  The accumulation of recessive genetic mutations results in a inbred line being weakened over time. Consider this sad case:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inbreeding#Royalty_and_nobility

  • One of the most famous example of a genetic disorder aggravated by royal family intermarriage was the House of Habsburg, which inmarried particularly often. Famous in this case is the Habsburger (Unter) Lippe (Habsburg jaw/Habsburg lip/”Austrian lip”) (mandibular prognathism), typical for many Habsburg relatives over a period of six centuries.[24] The condition progressed through the generations to the point that the last of the Spanish Habsburgs, Charles II of Spain, could not properly chew his food.[25]
  • Besides the jaw deformity, Charles II also had a huge number of other genetic physical, intellectual, sexual, and emotional problems. It is speculated that the simultaneous occurrence in Charles II of two different genetic disorders: combined pituitary hormone deficiency and distal renal tubular acidosis could explain most of the complex clinical profile of this king, including his impotence/infertility which in the last instance led to the extinction of the dynasty.

And it’s not just humans that are affected badly by inbreeding. Animals like dogs in Japan have also suffered as well!

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/28/business/28dogs.html?pagewanted=all

Rare dogs are highly prized here, and can set buyers back more than $10,000. But the real problem is what often arrives in the same litter: genetically defective sister and brother puppies born with missing paws or faces lacking eyes and a nose.

There have been dogs with brain disorders so severe that they spent all day running in circles, and others with bones so frail they dissolved in their bodies. Many carry hidden diseases that crop up years later, veterinarians and breeders say.

Kiyomi Miyauchi was heartbroken to discover this after one of two Boston terriers she bought years ago suddenly collapsed last year into spasms on the living room floor and died. In March, one of its puppies died the same way; another went blind.

Ms. Miyauchi stumbled across a widespread problem here that is only starting to get attention. Rampant inbreeding has given Japanese dogs some of the highest rates of genetic defects in the world, sometimes four times higher than in the United States and Europe. 

<snip>

Hirofumi Sasaki, a pet store owner in the western city of Hiroshima, has seen so many defective dogs that last year he converted an old bar into a hospice to care for them. So far he has taken in 32 dogs, though only 12 have survived.

One is Keika, a deaf 1-year-old female dachshund with eyes that wander aimlessly. Her breeder was originally selling her for about $7,500 because she is half-white, a rare trait in dachshunds.

“That is an unnatural color, like a person with blue skin,” Mr. Sasaki said.

The breeder told Mr. Sasaki that he had bred a dog with three generations of offspring — in human terms, first with its daughter, then a granddaughter and then a great-granddaughter — until Keika was born. The other four puppies in the litter were so hideously deformed that they were killed right after birth. 

Therefore, my decision is that I will NOT support legalizing incest. I don’t want to see any more people like Charles II or those unfortunate puppies in the future.

Reform the U N Security Council!

The structure of the United Nations (UN) reflects the political realities shortly after World War II. Since that war ended nearly three generations ago, it’s time for a change in the UN, starting with its Security Council. Until such reforms are made, it will only be a laughingstock for decades to come.

There are five permanent members of that Council: The United States, Russia, France, Great Britain, and China. These have veto power over all Council decisions. I would recommend that the veto power within the Council be done away with; it only makes paralysis of the Council more likely than not. I would also recommend that Germany, Japan, India, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and Brazil be made permanent members of the Council, with at least 20 others subject to election. The number of nations on the Security Council must always be a prime number to prevent tie votes. Only the UN Secretary-General could veto a UN resolution, but his veto could still be overridden by a two-thirds majority vote of the Security Council. In any case, no single nation should have the power to veto a resolution, because as the chart above shows, the Soviet Union abused that power more than any other nation in the early years of the UN. One wonders how many innocent people died in wars or armed uprisings of one kind or another because of this.

Reviving the spirit of civil disobedience

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Image via Wikipedia

Unitarian Universalists have recently started an effort to engage in the sort of civil disobedience that civil rights activists like Martin Luther King Jr and his followers did in the 1950s and 60s, and Mohandas Ghandi did in India a generation earlier.

http://www.uuworld.org/news/articles/178994.shtml

Utah UU convicted for environmental activism

Federal jury faults Tim DeChristopher for blocking auction of oil and gases leases.
By Donald E. Skinner
3.7.11

Environmental activist Tim DeChristopher, a member of First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City, Utah, was convicted Thursday of two felony counts of disrupting a federal auction of oil and gas leases more than two years ago. He faces up to ten years in prison.

DeChristopher made false bids of close to $1.8 million for more than a dozen properties in Utah during a Dec. 19, 2008, Bureau of Land Management auction, in an effort to block development near Arches and Canyonlands National Parks and bring attention to the global climate crisis.

The jury deliberated nearly five hours after the four-day trial. Sentencing is scheduled for June. Prosecutors said in a news conference they would not seek the maximum penalty.

DeChristopher’s supporters on Thursday worked to put the best possible face on the verdict. “This is a beginning, not the end,” said Joan Gregory, First Unitarian’s Environmental Ministry coordinator. “We are looking at this as a turning point in the fight for climate justice. This verdict will not stop us.”

<snip>

After the verdict, DeChristopher told his supporters, “We know that now I’ll have to go to prison. We know now that’s the reality, but that’s just the job I have to do. And many before me have gone to jail . . . If we’re going to achieve our vision, many after me will have to join me as well.”

Said Gregory, “What Tim wants, what we all want, is for everyone, wherever they live, to feel the urgency and be empowered by Tim’s actions and take actions in their own communities. This may have been a guilty verdict, but we have a very positive message to send out into the world. We need to take responsibility for change.”

And it’s not just a few of the rank and file members doing this!

http://www.uua.org/news/pressroom/pressreleases/186880.shtml

UUA President Responds to Sentence in Arizona Protest Trial

August 23, 2011

(Boston, MA) The Rev. Peter Morales, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), was convicted August 5, 2011, on misdemeanor charges stemming from his nonviolent civil disobedience in Phoenix, Ariz., in July 2011.

Rev. Morales was arrested while protesting Arizona’s anti-immigrant legislation, SB 1070. Today, August 23, 2011, his sentence was announced in Maricopa County court. For his act of conscience, he received a sentence of one day in jail, with credit for the one day already served.

Rev. Morales released the following statement upon hearing of his sentence:

“While my trial has finally ended, my determination to oppose Arizona’s SB 1070 and the inhumane practices of Sheriff Joe Arpaio is stronger than ever.

“As people of faith, we are called to oppose injustice and help protect the most vulnerable among us. We cannot turn a blind eye to the inhumane immigration enforcement practices of Sheriff Arpaio, nor should we accept similar policies in other parts of our country.

“We Unitarian Universalists will continue to stand on the side of love against such legislation and the anti-immigrant sentiment it represents. We look forward to an opportunity to witness publicly against such injustices at our Justice General Assembly in Phoenix in 2012.”

The UUA is a faith community of more than 1,000 congregations that bring to the world a vision of religious freedom, tolerance and social justice. For more information, please visit our online press room.

And the movement is spreading like a virus!

http://www.uuworld.org/news/articles/186523.shtml

Tar Sands Action inspired by a UU’s civil disobedience

A proposed pipeline could be ‘game over’ for climate change, say environmentalists.
By Donald E. Skinner
8.15.11

In late August, Barbara Ford will cross the country from her home in Portland, Ore., with several other members of that city’s First Unitarian Church. They’re headed for Washington, D.C., to participate in a large public witness event calling attention to the threat of global climate change.

Religious activists and organizations are gathering August 29 outside the White House as part of a two-week protest called Tar Sands Action, which is aimed at pressuring President Obama to reject a proposed oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast. The proposed Keystone XL pipeline would carry oil extracted from clay and other materials in the tar sands region of Alberta. Environmental groups describe tar sands oil as one of the dirtiest fuels on earth, resulting in higher emissions during the refining process. Investing in tar sands oil will delay investment in clean and safe alternatives, environmentalists add.

Construction of the pipeline requires the signature of President Obama. The Tar Sands Action, which will extend from August 20 through September 3, is aimed at convincing him to not approve it.

“I’ve been feeling for the past five years that civil disobedience was going to be necessary in the climate movement,” said Ford, a former chair of the Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Earth, an independent organization that works closely with the Unitarian Universalist Association on environmental justice issues. “It seems clear we can’t count on our government to do the right thing without our influence. To me, we’re at a similar crossroads as the civil rights movement was in the 1960s. There is no choice but to step forth and work for justice. We all need to do something besides recycling. This is my opportunity.”

The Tar Sands Action is the latest in a series of public witness events that have grown, at least in part, out of the arrest and conviction of Unitarian Universalist Tim DeChristopher, a 29-year-old climate activist, for disrupting a Bureau of Land Management oil and gas lease auction in 2008 in Salt Lake City. Last month he was sentenced to two years in prison. DeChristopher’s actions have inspired UUs and many others across the country, and have caused them to take to the streets in pursuit of climate justice.

Five members of his congregation, First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City, were arrested in Washington in April in a protest against energy policies as part of the Power Shift 2011 energy and climate conference. They went as part of a group DeChristopher formed, Peaceful Uprising. Other UUs took part in a march across West Virginia in June to raise awareness of mountaintop removal mining. They cited DeChristopher’s actions as a reason for their own. When DeChristopher was sentenced, 26 people were arrested outside the courthouse.

Tar Sands Action was organized by Peaceful Uprising. DeChristopher is in prison, but his impact is still being felt.

What’s going on? Why are UUs doing these things now? The answer, quite simply, is that in the face of the almost total corporate domination of our politics made possible by that contemptible Citizens United decision by the U S Supreme Court, rejecting and physically fighting back against unjust and dishonorable governmental and corporate policies that are not in the best interests of the people have become fashionable once more, just as they were 40 to 50 years ago. And a possible side effect of these efforts will be more  people seeing the Unitarian Universalist Association and its churches as the organization to join for finding more progressive social and environmental activists. After all, if it had not been for those stupid Jim Crow racist policies of the southern states, would most of us even know who Martin Luther King Jr was? UUs marched alongside him too.

Related articles

The downfall of Richard Dawkins’ credibility

The atheist community, of which Richard Dawkins has been seen as a leader for many years, has been rocked by this latest controversy which has shown, once and for all, that just because you are atheist doesn’t mean you leave behind all your outdated attitudes and become consistently rational. If anything, Dawkins’ blatant sexism has only made him and his atheism look worse.

He wrote this in response to a complaint by Rebecca Watson about her and other women being mistreated and disrepected at atheist and freethought conferences.

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/07/always_name_names.php#comment-4295492

Dear Muslima

Stop whining, will you. Yes, yes, I know you had your genitals mutilated with a razor blade, and . . . yawn . . . don’t tell me yet again, I know you aren’t allowed to drive a car, and you can’t leave the house without a male relative, and your husband is allowed to beat you, and you’ll be stoned to death if you commit adultery. But stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering your poor American sisters have to put up with.

Only this week I heard of one, she calls herself Skep”chick”, and do you know what happened to her? A man in a hotel elevator invited her back to his room for coffee. I am not exaggerating. He really did. He invited her back to his room for coffee. Of course she said no, and of course he didn’t lay a finger on her, but even so . . .

And you, Muslima, think you have misogyny to complain about! For goodness sake grow up, or at least grow a thicker skin.

Richard

Talk about missing the point!

Others have denounced Dawkins and defended Rebecca on this, including Rebecca herself:

http://www.blaghag.com/2011/07/richard-dawkins-your-privilege-is.html

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/07/oh_no_not_againonce_more_unto.php

http://skepchick.org/2011/07/the-privilege-delusion/

Dawkins is dead wrong about this! Indeed, he couldn’t be more wrong if he were to suddenly endorse Young Earth Creationism. And since his position is so repulsive, the only honorable thing for him to do at this point is for him to state, in a public forum or even on his own website: “I’m sorry, I was being sexist and hypocritical and I will never make such foolish statements again.” And then shut the hell up afterwards for a long time.

Until he does that, I will never listen to him again.

Dentists, sex dolls and pedophiles, oh my!

This story, and variations of it, are all over the web now:

http://www.cnngo.com/tokyo/life/japanese-turn-sex-doll-dental-training-robot-976056

Japanese turn sex doll into dental-training robot

Tokyo university reveals realistic synthi-patient, claims “root canal” gags play no part in its appeal
By Mark Hiratsuka 1 July, 2011

Tokyo frequently presents a story that’s borderline fiction — sex dolls for cavity-filling practice, puhlease — but the pedigree of the new Hanako Showa 2 dental training robot tells us this is no product of a fevered imagination.

We previously saw big sister, plain Jane Hanako Showa, in early 2010, noting that the synthetic patient was being used in the Showa University dental school for more than simple caries-evacuation practice on her plumbed-in dentures.

That model even incorporated the concept of being female simply so junior dentists could learn not to accidentally fondle her breasts. We kid you not.

Silicone sheath

So, a year and a half later, little sis makes her bow sheathed not in her sibling’s PVC skin, but lifelike silicone, and sporting a host of internal modifications besides.

Hanako 2 genuinely is based on a Dutch Wife-style love doll from Orient Industry in Tokyo’s Taito Ward — trust us, you don’t want to click that link at work — giving her a head start in the “realistic” stakes.

Aside from the human-feel skin on her face, mouth and tongue, she also contains robotics that allow her to mimic a range of motions, including sneezing and gagging when clumsy trainees dip their instruments too far into her gullet.

Talkative, ain’t she?

Hanako 2 also has the gift of the gab and can chat with her human companions about how she’s feeling, what ails her and, probably, how she can manage to speak with all that medical metal in her face.

Japan being Japan, there’s clearly no scope for the tried-and-trusted medical school technique of pulling passersby in off the street for a free “checkup.”

Rather, Tokyo’s finest would-be dentists get to grapple with a chimera created originally for self-gratification, but packed instead with cutting-edge robotics and put to work in the name of a nation’s oral health. It’s a beautiful thing.

My first reaction to this was, “Wow, here’s another example of Japanese technical wizardry being put to a good use! It’s certain better to train dentists with dolls that can react like real patients than with real patients that might be injured or infected due to a mistake.” Continue reading

An unbalanced view of doing business

The basic goal of all businesses in a free market capitalist system is to make as much profit as possible. Of course, there is nothing wrong with making money, as long as you are honest and fair about it. But sometimes companies look at only ONE issue of making a profit and fail to see the big picture. Consider these  stories:

Micheal was hired to be a delivery assistant for Southside Deliveries in mid-November, doing what he was told would be a temporary job that would last until Christmas Eve.  Unfortunately, he was terminated after just two weeks (early December) and the excuse the company gave was “You are too slow.” Micheal was so disgusted at being tossed so quickly that he vowed never to even use Southside Deliveries as a customer. Thus Southside Deliveries, by firing him to save profits, actually lost profits they might have made from him over the next few years.

Mary was a loyal customer of Blue River Energy for years, so she reasoned that she would be an ideal employee for it as well. She was hired to be one of its Sales Representatives  and was sent to public places like shopping malls, grocery stores, convention centers, and electronics stores. At these places, she set up her booth and tried to persuade people coming there for other things to switch to using Blue River Energy as their electricity retailer. Despite her going by the book over a two month period, she never sold enough policies to satisfy management, and she was suddenly terminated by her supervisor when she went out to do another day’s work. He simply took her materials and table from her and left her in shock. Soon afterwards, she switched to another electric company, AP Power, because she felt totally betrayed.

Henry signed up for employment with a temp agency, and was sent out a week later to do work at a factory owned by Masters Manufacturing. He worked hard all day, and never got the impression from the supervisors that anything was amiss. But the next day, he got a call from the temp agency that Masters Manufacturing had rejected him. “They said you were too slow, ” was all Henry was told. Henry felt that was unjust, since he’d only done as he was told by those same people who rejected him….and vowed never to buy another cell phone or other electronic device made by Masters Manufacturing.

Now, there is nothing wrong with firing a worker who commits acts of direct insubordination or disrespect for either management or customers,  vandalism, assault of another employee, theft, drunkeness or drug abuse on the job, or some other illegal activity. In my opinion, those should be the reasons to fire employees and nothing else. Terminating someone because he is slightly less productive than someone else is a form of discrimination. What if this is due to a mental or physical disability, rather than laziness? What if the employee is new and just needs time to get used to his job? What if the employee’s contributions still count for something, as does the decision of the former employee to boycott the business after his termination?

Workers need to get together and stop letting companies bully them into ruin. They can do that by boycotting any company that treats them as disposable. Maybe if enough people start doing that, then the companies will start treating workers with more respect!

A clear case of internet FRAUD!

Read this outrageous story:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20110613/wl_uk_afp/syriapoliticsunrestgayinternetbritainus

Blogger admits ‘Gay Girl in Damascus’ hoax

Mon Jun 13, 4:20 am ET

LONDON (AFP) – Rights campaigners reacted furiously after a US student based in Scotland unmasked himself as the author of the “Gay Girl in Damascus” blogs, which charted the security crackdown in Syria.

Tom MacMaster, a 40-year-old Edinburgh University masters student, admitted Sunday that he was “Amina Abdullah”, who had described “herself” as a Syrian political blogger.

The Abdullah character rose to fame with her reports on the pro-reform movement, posting as “an out Syrian lesbian’s thoughts on life, the universe and so on”.

Then last Tuesday someone claiming to be her cousin wrote on the website that Abdullah had been snatched off the street by three armed men and bundled into a car bearing a pro-government window sticker.

The report sparked a wave of alarm among her online followers. Supporters even set up a “Free Amina Abdullah” group on the social networking site Facebook, attracting nearly 15,000 followers.

MacMaster finally came clean in a posting on his blog Sunday, after doubts began to emerge as to whether Abdullah really was for real. He admitted that he was the sole author of the posts.

“I never expected this level of attention,” MacMaster wrote in an “Apology to readers” posted on the blog.

“While the narrative voice may have been fictional, the facts on this blog are true and not misleading as to the situation on the ground.

“I do not believe that I have harmed anyone — I feel that I have created an important voice for issues that I feel strongly about,” MacMaster added.

“I only hope that people pay as much attention to the people of the Middle East and their struggles in this year of revolutions.”

The Guardian newspaper said that in recent days, bloggers had uncovered evidence that pointed towards MacMaster and his wife Britta Froelicher.

MacMaster is a Middle East activist, while his wife is studying at Scotland’s St Andrews University for a doctorate in Syrian economic development.

In his apology, MacMaster said he had been touched by the reaction of readers.

But the revelation of the hoax has sparked fury among some former followers of the blog, particularly those who had been campaigning for Abdullah’s release.

“This just makes me so angry,” said one comment on the Facebook group set up to press for her release.

“The situation in Syria is too dire for this sort of gameplaying!”

“Time and effort was taken away from other vitally important news stories happening in Syria,” another contributor protested.

As an Honorable Skeptic, I took little notice of “Amina”, but find the case of someone pretending to be her intolerable! Now the voices of REAL Arab political activists, gay rights activists, and others communicating via the internet will be less likely to be taken seriously, for how do we know they are not fake? Tom McMaster (or perhaps I should call him McBastard) should immediately be arrested, tried and either heavily fined or imprisoned for fraud. If Amina had been a real person that McMaster had been impersonating, he would have been committing identity theft. How can making up and portraying a fictional person, but claimed to be real, be any better?

Indeed, one of my basic principles is that it is NEVER acceptable to do bad things for a good reason or cause. The long term credibility of the cause is more important than any possible short-term gains from the deception.

Incidentally, this relates somewhat to what Rep. Anthony Weiner did with his Twitter account and the aftermath of that incident. Putting a picture of your crotch publicly on Twitter, intending it to be a private message to a woman not your wife, is stupid, but it can be overlooked. What CANNOT be tolerated or ignored is that Weiner LIED afterwards about the matter, claiming that a hacker had broken into the Twitter account. He should be condemned for that and made to resign. Back in the 1990s, I was appalled at that Bill Clinton did, having affairs with women, including Monica Lewenski, and then lying to everyone about it. He should have resigned too. But I also recognize that the attempts by Republicans to get rid of him were self-serving as well, and they have had too many of their own scandals among themselves to be taken seriously when they condemn people like Clinton or Weiner.

A critique of the Declaration of Independence.

United States Declaration of Independence

United States Declaration of Independence (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Declaration of Independence here refers to the document drafted and signed in 1776 declaring the separation of 13 colonies along the Atlantic coast of North America from the British Empire. It is indeed one of the greatest writings ever made in human history…..but that hardly means it is flawless. Indeed, in this age it may be considered obsolete and merit some serious criticism. I will post text from it in red and my critiques of it in green.

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

Considering that the colonists involved were mostly of the same European-Caucasian stock as the people still in Britain, this is odd. If this had been written by black people of Africa striving to break free from British rule, this would have made better sense. But in fact, the blacks in the colonies were mostly slaves and their freedom was not an issue here.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

No, those ideas are NOT self-evident. What about that slavery issue? And if by “Creator” they meant the Biblical God, that is certainly not valid. That God was by nature an absolute monarch and ruled his subjects like kings and emperors did, even condemning to hell those who rejected his rule. What rights do people have in such a system? NONE!

— That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

This was derived from the political philosophy of John Locke. In reality, kings and other absolute rulers never attempt to get consent from their people to rule. They simply take power by force and keep it by force…..until another tyrant overthrows them. The American Revolution was the first serious attempt in modern times to break that cycle, and it worked. But it would have been far more accurate for the Declaration to have said,  “Governments should be instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

— That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

This makes perfect sense. It should be that way everywhere.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

Maybe that explains most of the absolute monarchies and dictatorships that have existed for many decades in many parts of the world. But is it not better to say that NO evils should be considered sufferable, in order for the people to constantly seek and establish the best possible governments?

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

The recent revolts overthrowing the dictators of Tunisia and Egypt were all about this. Ironically, the USA supported the regime of Hosni Mubarak until this year because it did not attempt to destroy the State of Israel, despite Mubarak being abusive to his own people. Can you spell H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-S-Y?

Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

I cannot comment on most of the supposed violations of the king referred to here, but I will make note of this one:  Libertarians  ofter refer to this and claim that many of governmental offices established in the USA are no better than what the British monarch did. Including the IRS, the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

Today, the USA has by far the largest military budget in the world. In fact, it is six times larger than that of any other nation! 

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

This refers to the Boston Massacre. Ironically, the British soldiers who committed it were defended at their trial by John Adams, who would later become the second President of the United States. Hardly a “mock trial”, the proceedings were an attempt to give the soldiers a fair one. Thus, this statement was totally unjustified.

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

The purpose of the colonies was to increase the wealth of the United Kingdom. Imposing taxes was part of this. You might as well have asked for there to be no colonies.

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

This refers to Canada, which remained in the British Empire, partly because so many Loyalists from the colonies fled to it as the American Revolution took place. Even more ironically, part of Canada was Quebec, a French colony which had been conquered by the British in the French and Indian War decades earlier.  But the British were able to hold onto Quebec anyway. Maybe if the French and Indian War had not been fought, the British would not have lost the other American colonies. Even the strongest national empire can only do so much.

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

Many of these mercenaries came from the German kingdoms and provinces. But the colonies soon got their own mercenaries from France and other countries. 

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

This was known as impressment and was similar to the draft or conscription that was done to increase the membership of armies in most countries, then and now. After the Revolution, the United States never did this, and after the Vietnam War the draft for the land based American Armed Forces was abolished as well. Drafting and impressment are forms of slavery.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

This is a statement of blatant racism. Native American tribes, like all other human groups, have a variety of behaviors. Plus, they were fighting in most cases to keep the land they had been living on that the whites were stealing from them. And consider what the U S Army did to Native Americans in the Wounded Knee Massacre, which until recently was called the “Battle” of Wounded Knee.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Here are some examples of  Earth’s core irony: In addition to killing off Native Americans and imprisoning the survivors in concentration camps called “reservations”, we Americans conquered Hawaii and disposed of its own native government for American business interests and then fought a war to keep control of the Phillippines after taking those islands from Spain. I cannot imagine a Native American, a native Hawaiian, or a Philippine reading the Declaration of Independence and regarding it with anything other than scorn. And I swear, if I ever hear another conservative American politician claim that we owe our freedom to the American troops, I will scream! It’s simply one of the biggest lies ever told. It wasn’t generals who wrote the Declaration of Independence or the U S Constitution of 1787, it was LAWYERS. And you don’t hire a soldier to fight for your rights in a court, do you?

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

Maybe those British subjects were as blind to their wrongdoings as Americans today are often blind to many of their nation’s wrongdoings over the past 200 years.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.