Posts Tagged opinion

Where I Stand

I have been accused recently of “hating” religion and its followers. I’d like to make something clear. I don’t hate anyone. This is sincere. I have tried to purge the idea of hate from my own personal ideology. I believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every human being. One of the biggest things that I am trying to teach my children is to love everyone. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to go have gay sex with just anyone on the street, but it does mean that we humans are all stuck together on this big mud ball flying through space, and we all are interdependent. There’s no way around this fact. We’re stuck with each other and we depend on one another.

As far as religion goes, I fully support everyone’s right to believe anything they want. The first amendment means a lot to me. I will defend to the death your right to believe in whatever god(s) you want. I will also defend your right to NOT believe in any god(s). Freedom of religion == freedom from religion. You want to believe that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Light? That’s all right by me. I don’t believe in that, but unless you want to engage in debate, I’m not gonna try to talk you out of it. And I’d thank you to not try to change my mind, unless I express an interest in hearing your point of view. You also have every right to put your opinions on religion out there, for public perusal. But you have to accept that there will be others who don’t believe as you do and they have the exact same right to express that as well. Public expression implies the possibility of public contradiction. Just because it’s called “religion” and invokes the sanctity of a god doesn’t exempt it from scrutiny and that includes the possibility of ridicule. Deal with it.

Here’s what I DO NOT respect: individuals and groups attempting to legislate their religion into my life. Contrary to what some people think, religion is not the sole repository of all Truth with regard to morality and ethics. Just because you believe that a fiery pit in hell is reserved for you for all eternity if you violate the principles of your religion, that does not mean that you have the authority to impose your moral structure on the rest of us, especially when your ideas of “right” and “wrong” take away fundamental human rights.

When people try to rob the citizens of this (or any) nation of their freedoms in the name of their god(s), that’s when I get angry. I don’t go trolling around christian sites looking for people to ridicule. I don’t make it a point to make an example of every logical fallacy that exists in religious belief. But when you bring it out into the open and try to force your beliefs on others, that’s when I open up with both barrels. Sarcasm and ridicule are potent weapons in the battles of thoughts and ideas, and I don’t hesitate to use them. If you are willing to try to change the laws of this country, if you are going to try to subvert science and medicine in the name of your god, your religion then you are fair game for response. And the response is going to be something you don’t like. I’m going to point out the ridiculousness of your position, the inherent hatred and bigotry in your policies and the absolute lack of any foundation in reality that your religion possesses. I will ridicule it. I will mock it. I will give it the respect it deserves, which is none.

So if the basic tenets of what you are trying to impose on the rest of us is based on the principle that you are in possession of The Truth, that you (or what you believe) is superior to the rest of us and must be imposed on us, well, in short, fuck you.

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How about that debate, huh?

So, what did you think? How about that time when Barack said that thing and then John said that other thing? Pretty amazing, huh?

*sigh*

You got me. You and your “gotcha” questions. Fine, I confess: I didn’t watch all of the debate. I wanted to, really. I got back up at midnight after falling asleep with the little Lizards. After catching up with the news (which means watching The Daily Show and The Colbert Report), I switched over to the debate (aren’t DVRs great?). I got through a question and a half before I couldn’t keep my eyes open any more. I was a little annoyed at the beginning of Obama’s answer to the first question. Enough rhetoric, answer the damn question! But when he did, he was a lot clearer and more factual than McCain.

I will be sooooo happy when this election is over and I don’t have to see that little troll every single day. Of course I’ll be glad that I won’t have to see the candidates either.

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I won’t be buying a GM car anytime soon

Bob Lutz was the guest on the Colbert Report tonight (last night, it’s after midnight. whatever). He’s there to talk about the Volt, GM’s new electric car. Ok, cool. Except Mr. Lutz isn’t so cool. It would appear that he is a climate change denialist. Came right out and said he thought the planet might be warming, but didn’t believe the “CO2 theory” was responsible. Earlier this year he said he thought global warming was “a total crock of shit“.

Well, he apparently felt the need to out do him self. When Colbert got into the “man talk” and asked him if the Volt was sexy, if it would get him laid, Lutz responded that it might, but that it would attract a different type of woman. What type is that, you may ask? “…a lot of no makeup, environmentally aware [mumble]” women. Say what? Maybe I’m overreacting, but that sounds like a slam to me. Given Lutz’s disregard for the environment it wouldn’t surprise me that his attitudes towards women get the same regard.

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I Can Haz Munny?

IANAE (I Am Not An Economist). I vaguely recall taking economics in college. I think. But things are lookin’ pretty bad out there. I hear even fervent supporters of the “free market” clamoring for more/new regulation of our financial markets. But one thing they will never acknowledge is the fact that their pushes for deregulation are what led us here.

Now, I’m all for making money. I have a good job, I pay taxes, pay (most) of my bills. I understand the need to exchange currency for goods. I’m not anti-money, or anti-capitalism. But it seems to me that there is a fundamental problem that the free-marketeers are overlooking: humans are selfish, maybe even greedy. We’ve evolved that way. Survival of the fittest. May the best man win. It’s what kept us alive when survival was a tooth-and-nails experience. However we, as thinking, rational people, manage to balance this innate desire with some common sense and compassion.

Also, most of us are living in a world where we will never have access to the kind of money (and power, I think that falls under this same concept) that Wall Street tycoons, big corporate CEO’s, certain religious leaders and high-level government muckety-mucks deal with on a daily basis. Because of this, our desires tend to take a back seat to necessities, like paying the mortgage/rent, car payments, buying food and fuel. We live in a much smaller world where the impacts of our actions have a much more noticeable affect on our immediate family and friends. If you cheat your friends or your community out of money, or commit crimes against them, there is a much more direct and immediate response against you. So our desires for more money and possessions, at this level, generally lead to us working harder, getting education, trying to move up the corporate ladder and so forth. The results of this are generally beneficial to us and those around us. There are exceptions, of course, and those of us in more dire circumstances find a lot more pressure to engage in activities that circumvent the improvement process; crime, get-rich-quick schemes, lottery tickets, etc. But on the whole we manage to make do and hopefully improve our lives. All well and good.

But I think that when you reach a certain level of wealth/power, those negative impacts become further and further removed from you. Rather than engaging in commerce with a specific individual, you’re dealing with an abstract “corporation”. You’re dealing with “constituents” rather than neighbors. You begin dealing in numbers so staggering that the relative impact of losing a few grand gets smaller and smaller, so you lose sight and comprehension of that impact to someone not in your position.

I must admit to falling into this trap myself. I can remember a time, not all that long ago, 10 years or so, when my wife and I would literally scrounge pennies and loose change from the sofa to be able to go to Taco Bell (remember $0.39 tacos?). Time passes, careers progress, and I have found myself sweeping up those same pennies and dropping them in the dustbin without thinking. Humans have a remarkable ability to forget pain, which can be a good thing; otherwise women would never have more than one baby 😉 But it also allows us to forget how to relate to others in more difficult circumstances than we are. And if you’ve never experienced more difficult circumstances yourself, it becomes that more more difficult to relate. I’ve never been homeless, never been truly hungry. I’ve never had my family massacred or been forced to flee my home.

But that’s where another human trait comes in handy. We have the ability to empathize with others. We are capable of consuming information, processing it, and using it to extrapolate what it must be like to be in an other person’s situation. This means that is possible to understand the impacts of our decisions on others who aren’t at the same place in the world that we are. And the further you are removed from that situation, the more difficult that process becomes. Which is why we need to work harder at it.

So, my point, after all this rambling, is that we need to provide safeguards against the known proclivities of people and part of that, I believe, is reasonable regulation of the financial markets. That way, even if those people who are so far removed from our reality that they fail to or cannot fathom why them making money at the risk or expense of others is wrong, they might still avoid doing it for a greedy and selfish reason: to avoid going to prison.

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You can have my gun, when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers

First of all, I don’t own a gun, have never owned a gun and never intend to own a gun. I am a pacifist. What sparked this title was the fact that the Supreme Court of the United States of America is going to hear a case about the handgun ban in the District of Columbia. They last heard a case about the Second Amendment nearly 70 years ago. None of the sitting justices have heard a Second Amendment case, so we have no idea which way this will go.

The text of the Second Amendment states, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” This has led to great controversy about the impact the phrase, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state” has on the second part of the Amendment. If it simply stated, ‘The right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed,’ we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

I think it’s fairly clear why the Amendment was added. Our country was founded through a violent popular revolution. Had the ordinary citizen not been able to own guns, our history would be quite different. That being said, arms in those days were muzzle-loading muskets over 3 feet long. In addition, hunting was a necessary part of survival; the banning of guns would have left thousands starving.

Fast-forward to today. A handgun can be concealed damn near anywhere. The sole purpose of a handgun is to kill/harm a person. It’s not like you’re going to go after that 10-point stag with a 9mm Glock. One of the prevailing arguments for owning a handgun is self-protection. However, that argument has been solidly squashed. The instances where someone actually used their gun to successfully defend themselves against a home invader or an attacker are quite small. Far more people are killed either accidentally or deliberately with those same handguns purchased to protect them.

That all being said, I’m actually ambivalent about this issue. Some times I feel quite libertarian and want the government to get the hell out of my life. On the other hand, I can quite clearly see the need for government regulation to protect vulnerable populations. In this case, does the need to reduce death and injury by handguns override the “right” of people to possess something designed exclusively for the death of another human being?

Maybe I’m not so ambivalent. Britain seems to have done quite well banning handguns. I don’t see their people suffering greatly from their inability to “defend themselves”. At any rate, it will be interesting to see how this all plays out with a right-wing court.

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