Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Rhode Island Passes Civil Unions

Only five days after New York state passed laws allowing gay marriage, the Rhode Island legislature has passed a civil unions law and the governor, Lincoln Chafee (a Republican turned "Independent") says that he will sign it. While civil unions usually confer more limited rights than full marriage, it seems a step in the right direction, and perhaps the beginning of a trend inspired by actions in New York. It is notable that even some opponents of gay marriage found that they could accept these more limited civil unions. Remember that evolution, in biology, and public opinion, operates on a slower scale than we might often like.

As usual, religious extremists are apoplectic, claiming that such bills are unpopular with voters and suggesting that such laws could be repealed. It does remain to be seen whether these laws will help or hurt democrats. It could very well give republicans another rallying cry to help turn out votes. Some have suggested that the Republican legislature in New York may have allowed the bill to pass on purpose in order to have an issue to run against, given that they cannot run on their unpopular economic policies of fiscal austerity in a time of severe economic hardship.

We also should not have any illusions about gay marriage spreading to all states. There is no chance that Bible Belt red states in the deep south will allow it. These are states that still make homosexual activity a crime.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Gay Marriage passes in New still hasn't fallen

Well gay marriage is now law in New York State. Despite a Republican-controlled Senate, the vote was 33 to 29 with a handful of Republicans crossing party lines to support it. Governor Cuomo was on hand to sign it shortly after passage.

A lot of religious extremists pulled out the stops to oppose this, most notably ex-NFL player David Tyree and Archbishop Dolan. One is tempted to ask, "don't you feel stupid", we that is probably a feeling they have on more than just today. It's also pointless to ask if they are furious beyond comprehension, for the same reason -- they're always furious about things. As it turns out, the two conditions are connected, because, contrary to myth, ignorance is not quite as blissful as advertised, at least for these people.

Tyree was notable for claiming that this *law*, if passed, would lead to *lawlessness* or "anarchy". He later backpedalled when he was confronted with the fact that (1) he didn't even know what the word meant (or how to spell it) and (2) he had no evidence for any of his claims except what he heard his preacher lying to him about on Sunday mornings. He even said that if he could give back his superbowl winning catch that he would do to prevent gay marriage, at which point they stopped the interview and had to tell him that Hot Tub Time Machine was not a factual documentary.

Dolan, on the other hand, is not ignorant by circumstance, but by vigorous, conscious efforts and choices. He still has his head in .... the Middle Ages ... arguing that the state doesn't have the right or authority to define marriage, despite the fact that all states and nations have done it, pretty much since the Middle Ages. He is still railing against modernism in a post-post-modernist world.

Of course, he's also playing the standard game of equivocating about the difference between state marriage and church marriage. He knows the distinction, but he thinks others are too dumb to catch his obvious maneuver. After all the Church doesn't automatically recognize any marriage that it does not conduct, but you don't have to be married in a church to be legally married. He knows that people can be legally married by a justice of the peace, and that this form of legal marriage was all that the New York Senate was ever considering. Hello, they're the state law-making body.

The most hilarious maneuver of all was for this man with the title Archbishop to claim for a state to adjust its own marriage requirements amounted to the establishment of a "secular theocracy". He then made the reporter kiss his ring, and returned to palace to issue more nonsensical decrees condemning anything and everything that is not his part of his church.
He even claimed that the definition of marriage was "as old as human reason", but apparently thinks that reason had a rather late start, because "1 man + 1 woman" was not the old testament definition of marriage. It was more like "1 man + 1 woman, her sister, cousins, servants, and goats". Well maybe not the goat part, but you get the idea.

Marriage has changed hugely even in the last century or two. Mormons were practicing polygamy officially until the 1890's (and still do in places today). Laws against inter-racial marriage existed in the US until quite recently. The age of marriage varies and has been tweaked. Common law marriages were defined. Genetic testing and licensing were required. There are tons of things that have changed about marriage, all well within the scope of human reason.

Perhaps Dolan just meant that he can't be reasonable on the subject, but I think we already knew that.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Legal Marriage versus Church Marriage

You see fanatic religious know-nothings running around with signs about "1 man + 1 woman = marriage", insisting that people are trying to "redefine marriage". A few points need to be made. To begin with nobody is saying that "1 man + 1 woman" is not a form of marriage. Those of us with at least middle school literacy are aware that other definitions for marriage already existed for thousands of years, including "1 man + lots of women, slaves, cousins, even daughters = old testament marriage". The pretense that marriage has always been defined as monogamy is laughable enough.

However, there is another much more basic point that opponents of gay marriage intentionally miss. Religious marriage is not being redefined for the basic reason that state legislatures never define what a particular church believes. We don't hold a vote and tell the Vatican what they think. Democracy is not a strong point in many religious traditions. Nobody is redefining the kind of marriage that these loud-mouths care about, which is religious marriage.

They were only ever talking about legal marriage, which has long been completely separate from what you do at a church. You don't get your marriage licensed issued by a church. It is issued by the state. You can then choose to get married by any person licensed to perform marriage, which includes religious people and non-religious people alike.

The definition of legal, state-established marriage gets changed all the time, depending upon where you are. The age at which you get married, requirements for genetic testing, etc are all things that vary from time to time and place to place.

When people talk about "God's marriage" that is not something that any state legislature claimed it would or could change. As I've already said, the New York State Senate only passes laws relating to their state. Nowhere do they claim to vote about, or care about, the various definitions that your church may have relating to theological doctrines.

Many churches do not even recognize the marriages of those outside the faith. Therefore gay marriage is simply one more thing for them to not recognize.

The fact that religious people are confused on this point proves that their religious traditions have been, for too long, injecting themselves into state matters where they don't belong. Marriage is one of the last remaining vestiges of a time when religion used to co-mingle with the state, and it is high time that we insisted on the clearest possible division between the two.

1 man + many women = bible marriage

As the gay marriage issue continues to lose its potency for right-wing evangelicals in the US, and even the Republican New York Senate is within inches of legalizing gay marriage, the rhetoric from Bible-beaters continues to get more shrill and asinine.

A man who resembles that last remark would be Archbishop Dolan, who claims that the definition of marriage is "as old as reason". Clearly his own reason is none to sharp these days, because the bible quite clearly did not limit men to 1 woman. Reason must have started pretty late in the day. After all, King Solomon was reputed to have a thousand wives. Of course, some times they were called "concubines", but if you get to screw them silly, impregnate them whether they want it or not, and treat them as your property then this is pretty much synonymous with the definition of a "wife" in the Old Testament.

As I am having to say all too often about religious extremists these days, Archbishop Dolan cannot possibly be as stupid as he sounds when he makes such pig-ignorant claims. There were many types of marriage throughout the Bible, and throughout the world. Levirate marriage was just one form in which the brother of the deceased husband was obligated to marry his brother's widow, as per Deuteronomy 25:5. Now tell me how this squares with "1 man + 1 woman = God's marriage", especially if the brother is already married.

Similarly, sororate marriage also exists, in which the husband marries (or just has sex with) the wife's sister if the wife dies or proves infertile. While this form is not found in the Bible, it existed in places from ancient to China to Greenland and the Americas.

And then there are the Mormons, who also claim to be Christians, and had no problem with polygamy. They only ended up outlawing it, in theory but not practice, around the turn of the beginning of the 20th century, primarily as a political maneuver to gain admission to the Union.

Another detail about marriage described in the Bible is a restriction upon the mixing of races. In Ezra 9, for example, there is condemnation of the men of Israel having married foreign wives. In the US, well into the 20th century, laws existed, particularly in the South, which prohibited miscegenation, or inter-racial marriage. In fact Bob Jones University, a center for religious extremism, only rescinded bans on inter-racial dating in the year 2000. are you going to marry when you can't even date?

I suppose it's possible if you hit her over the head with a club like they show the cavemen doing. That's probably the original definition of "marriage", and I doubt it's one that most people want to keep.

Mormon Ad Campaign...or is it a Presidential Campaign

The Mormon church has been running their "I'm a Mormon" ad campaign since last August, and recently bought a $7 million billboard ad in Times Square, some say to counter the the Tony-award winning _Book of Mormon_ musical put on by the creators of Southpark. Clearly these ad campaigns don't come cheap, and most of the previous ones -- you know the ones where they promise to send you a free copy of the Book of Mormon -- have been dismal failures.

In fact, the word is that church leaders have leaned pretty hard on church members to "give of means and time", which is code for "deplete your life savings or be excommunicated", and this is coming on the heels of similar demands for donations to defeat Prop 8 in California.

All this money is being used to convince us that Mormons are more or less normal, and/or electable to the Whitehouse. That is, many people suspect that Romney and now Huntsman have been preparing the groundwork for the public to accept a Mormon president, which they see as a watershed moment, similar to Catholic John F. Kennedy being elected.

The problem is that it's not easy to convince people that Mormons really are that normal. The billboard in Times Square disingenuously shows three black faces, but if there were truth in advertising there would be a little asterisk that says, "accepted as full members since 1978". It was at that point, and not uncontroversally, that the Mormon Church reversed its policy of excluding people of African descent from the priesthood.

However, the Mormons remain one of the lily whitest people on the planet. Go to Salt Lake City and see how many brothers you can round up. Hint: most statistics say they are less than 1% of the population. The population of black faces on the billboard ad is 18%, which is more than a little exaggeration.

There's also a picture of a guy with a prosthetic leg climbing a mountain. I notice he isn't wearing any magic underwear though, and he better not have a sports drink with caffeine, or want to throw back a cold one at the top of the mountain.

Likewise, you can be a Mormon surfer all you want, as long as you don't smoke any Maui wowie, and you can't bag any babes unless you plan to marry them and have 14 kids with them.

The rest of them only have mug shots. They aren't all sporting crew cuts, white shirts, and back packs, as has become stereotypical. However, I have never seen any Mormons who look like the billboard coming to my door.

So for my part, I'm not sure who they think they're fooling. I guess as many people as possible, including themselves.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Religious Extremist Tyree would "give up" superbowl catch to block gay marriage

David Tyree, the former NY Giants receiver, whose only real claim to fame was a lucky catch in the 2007 Superbowl, says that he would give up that catch if it would stop gay marriage in New York State from becoming law. Of course, this is an easy claim to make when, lacking a time machine, it is impossible to change this past event. It is simply another empty pledge that Tyree is making in an attempt to force his religious standards upon other people.

One will recall that Tyree did not always live up to the alleged Christian standards that he now claims to profess. He admits that throughout his teen years he was always partying, drinking, and getting high. That ultimately led Tyree to a jail sentence when he was caught with a half pound of marijuana in his car. However, he now claims to be a changed man, and has found religion.

Which means that he has now decided that everyone else needs to believe like he does. He now claims that gay marriage will lead to anarchy. His years as a drug dealer, under-age drinker, etc apparently didn't cause the country to slide toward anarchy, so it's not clear why gay marriage would. At least that is something that people are doing when they're sober.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Tyree embarrasses himself again on CNN

Ex-Giants wide receiver David Tyree went on CNN recently in order to defend his controversial anti-gay statements with respect to same-sex marriage laws under consideration by the New York State Senate. However, he was quickly tackled by interviewer Kyra Phillips, who asked him for evidence for his claims, and he fumbled badly.

Asked to produce evidence for the "negative impact" of gay marriage on traditional marriage, or society in general, all he could muster was "I can’t necessarily get into statistics". Indeed he could not, because, as I already noted, the 2010 Census indicates that 3 in 5 families have no children under 18 living with them. Therefore his belief that same sex marriages could be harmful to children is both unfounded and largely irrelevant.

Of course this did not stop Tyree from claiming that "the original intent of a marriage is to procreate". I'm not sure if all religious fanatics feel entitled to just make s*** up whenever it suits them, but apparently Tyree does. Let's take a look at what the Bible actually says, shall we?

According to Genesis 2:18 God says, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." In other words, God wants a companion for Adam. That is his *ahem* ORIGINAL intent. God then tries to make various animal pets for Adam, but Adam doesn't want a puppy or pony, as God discovers (Gen 2:21). So God induces a coma in Adam, steals a rib and makes Eve, as the bizarre story goes.

So what was Adam's reaction? Did he say, "Oh boy, it's time to procreate?" No, sorry, he does not. Instead Adam finally likes this companion and says, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man", as though Adam new where she came from (Gen 2:23). The point, however, is that Adam does not identify his desire to procreate with her as having anything to with being pleased with Eve. He simply likes the fact that there is a second creature in the world who is like him. Of course, fundies love to point out "Gawd made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve", but from these verses it is clear that Adam would not have cared. He just wanted a friend who was made out of the same bone and flesh that he was. Either Eve or Steve would have fit that bill.

Now, often times religious whackadoodles attempt to fire back with the "be fruitful and multiply" line in Genesis 1:28. For the record I will note two issues with this. Firstly, says absolutely nothing about marriage. It is addressed to both men and women, but clearly men could not be "fruitful" in the sense of becoming pregnant, like women. Secondly, I will note that this same verse says, "have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air". Does this mean that God wants us to own a pet fish and bird too? Maybe that's part of God's plan, Mr. Tyree. Why don't you get working on that. I'm sure that petshop owners will love you for it and then you can find something to occupy your time instead of bashing gay people.

Friday, June 17, 2011

"Ominous Threat" from Gay Marriage Says NY Archbishop Dolan

New York's Archbishop Dolan recently claimed in an interview that gay marriage, as is being considered in the New York State Senate, represented an "ominous threat" to society.
Granted, Dolan is not as woefully undereducated and uninformed as some recent gay marriage opponents such as NFL receiver David Tyree and comedian Tracy Morgan. Yet, even with his education, he can't manage to make a case that would convince the average middle school student that gay marriage is any kind of serious threat at all.

Consider that gay marriage is already legal in a handful of US states, and a smattering of European countries. Religious people, including Dolan, all bemoaned such developments, and insisted that the sky would fall if this were permitted. Then it was permitted and basically nothing happened. There were supposed to be all these terrible consequences of gay marriage, according to naysayers, and yet, here is the only dubious harm that Dolan could come up with in his interview. He claims that an anonymous couple in England who wanted to adopt a child was turned down because the interviewer didn't like the fact that they were opposed to gay marriage.

Even if this suspicious, urban-legend sounding claim were true, which I seriously doubt, since religious people constantly make up this kind of "evidence" out of thin air, discrimination can happen for any reason. A person could decide that he doesn't like the color of your shirt or the way that your nose looks, and therefore discriminate against you. However, discrimination on the basis of religion still remains illegal, and gay marriage laws would not change that. If these people really existed and could prove discrimination then the law would back them up. In fact, in the US, it might serve as a basis for attempting to overturn gay rights legislation, if similar discrimination could be proven. The problem is that it turns out that these stories usually just turn out to be hot air.
The rest of Dolan's "arguments" basically amount to Vatican sour grapes over the fact that they no longer rule the world and appoint Holy Roman Emperors. He whines darkly about the "the presumptive omnipotence of the state", as though this is a new development. It's been that way since this nation was founded.

Most hilariously and ridiculously of all, he continues the Vatican's boilerplate fulminations against "secularism". With no sense of irony or hypocrisy he laments about a "new religion of secularism that feels it’s going to come to a theocracy and impose its values on society". This man has a lot of nerve to talk about a theocracy, when he is a member of one. He is the one calls himself by a lofty, regal title and wears vestments normally reserved for a medieval monarch. That is just too much for an Archbishop who's word is law in his tiny little bishopric to accuse others of plotting to impose theocracy. I guess he doesn't appreciate the competition from others attempting to horn in on his monopoly.

I wish just one time that religious fanatics had the intellect to understand this point. If you are right that secularism is a religion then it is protected by the very same religious prerogatives that you claim for yourself. See the reality is that religious people can never make up their minds on such things. One minute they declare that non-religion is a religion, like an empty glass being a beverage, and then when we ask them why we don't get a tax break like churches, they decide that secularism shouldn't be considered a religion.

It's also funny that they feel that marriage is the purview of religion, and yet the state has been doing it for centuries without their blessing. Make up your minds whether marriage is religious or not. If it is then religion does have official state sanction, as it stands, and receives special treatment which it is not supposed to get. If it is not religious then they should not feel threatened by legislation about any form of marriage, whether straight or gay.

Of course, most people look at marriage as both. You have a civil agreement, and then you can also have other, optional parts that only church members are interested in doing. It would be like the difference between infants being circumcised at the hospital, versus at a bar mitzvah. Nobody thinks that what the hospital does is a religious ceremony. Nobody demands that Synagogues circumcise non-members and non-Jews just for the heck of it.

I think that the reason that the majority of people now support gay marriage is because they are just tired out by all the nonsense objections coming out of the other side. They just want the incessant, incoherent babbling of religious know-nothings to come to an end, at least on this topic. It's not like they won't have plenty of additional nonsense to obsess and babble about. We just hope that they can go back to their churches and do it there.

UN resolution supports gay rights.

Tracy Morgan and David Tyree are likely seething with rage now that the UN Human Rights council has passed a resolution calling for equal rights for all people, regardless of sexual orientation. Morgan and Tyree have both recently expressed anti-gay rhetoric, though arguably Morgan was at least attempting to be funny.

This council had previously adopted a statement aimed at "Ending Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity", which was widely supported. However, passing this resolution proved more controversial with 23 in favor and 19 opposed and three abstaining. Perhaps if right-wing ideologues had control over the US delegation at the UN, as they did in the days of Bush and Bolton, then the US would have been forced to vote against, rather than for this resolution.

Make no mistake. Fanatic religion is the fuel that fires opposition to gay-rights. Opponents, like Tyree, as discussed yesterday, often attempt to couch objections in other terms. This was true in the early days of the Civil Rights movement in the US as well. States with Jim Crow laws that discriminated against African Americans protested that their sovereign state rights were being violated when they were forced to integrate schools. Of course, as the slogan goes, your rights always stop where the other guy's nose begins, and the "right to deny rights to unpopular minorities" has never been a legitimate right. It has to be forbidden, specious "sovereignty" arguments to one side, or democratic governance cannot long endure. Otherwise the mob prevails and we are divided and conquered by our differences, rather than united by our common humanity.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

NFL's Tyree Says Gay Marriage Leads to "anarchy"

New York Giants receiver David Tyree has recently made controversial comments off the football grid about his opposition to gay marriage laws under consideration in the New York State Senate. In an interview with an anti-gay group called the National Organization for Marriage he claims that allowing same sex marriage will result in the United States, "sliding towards, you know, it's a strong word, but 'anarchy'". He went on to claim, probably quoting a Sunday sermon he had heard, since he gave no citations, that this had proven true in other cultures and other countries historically.

While he doesn't deny that his opposition to gay marriage is largely fueled by his religious beliefs, he bases his arguments against it primarily on issues involving child rearing. It seems lost upon him that married people are not required to have children, and are not always interested in having children. According to the 2010 US census, 3 out of 5 families have no children under 18 living at home.

However, assuming that we focus upon the minority of couples who do want to have children, Tyree alleges that same-sex couples would be unable to effectively raise children of the opposite gender. "You can't teach something that you don't have, so two men will never be able to show a woman how to be a woman", Tyree comments. Yet, by this logic, the government would need to remove children from single parent households where the parent gender differed from the child.
How far should we take this. What about families where parents and children are from different races, such as a Caucasian couple who adopts an Asian child? According to Tyree's logic that sort of thing shouldn't be allowed either, because the parents don't know how to teach the child the same way that an Asian parent might. Now it may be objected that gender and race are quite different things. Yet both have a physiological basis, when it comes down to it.

Capping things off, Tyree attempts, rather inarticulately, to make an historical argument, if you can call it that, against same sex marriage. In what sounds vaguely like a question he asks, "How can marriage be marriage for thousands of years and now all the sudden because a minority, an influential minority, has a push or agenda ... and totally reshapes something that was not founded in our country". Unfortunately, Tyree seems unaware that many things are changing, in our rapidly advancing modern society, after being unchanged for thousands of years. For thousands of years people rode horses as the best available means of transportation. It is only relatively recently that the horse was eclipsed by trains, cars, and automobiles. Modern digital communications have changed things even faster. Therefore, it's not clear from a historical perspective, why marriage should be any less subject to change.

Given the muddled state of Mr. Tyree's it might be better for anti-gay marriage opponents if they found a better spokesman.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Baptist President Say Atonement "only in Jesus"

Yesterday it was reported that Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler told Jewish Congressman Anthony Weiner that he needs to turn to Jesus, because Mohler stated that atonement is "found only in Jesus Christ". Apparently Mohler has never heard of Yom Kippur, or perhaps he thought it was some kind of spicy ethnic food dish. Back in reality, sir, Yom Kippur means "Day of Atonement". Of course, Mohler cannot really be as ignorant as he sounds. I'm sure that he has both heard of Yom Kippur and knows what it actually means. He just denies its theological efficacy. However, it is based upon the same ancient holy writings and traditions from which Christianity is derived . Jesus himself is depicted as fasting and praying in much the same way that Jews still do today on High Holy Days.

There are also a few other things upon which Mohler appears to be confused, and apparently needs some help figuring out. To begin with, I just want to remind him that "Christ" is not the last name of Jesus. He might be Jesus THE Christ, if you ignore the Bible's criteria for Messiahship. However, he was not the only person designated a messiah in the Bible.

More importantly, he might want to check with Jesus before referring Weiner to him. See, I did my own prayer interview with Jesus last night, and if I heard the Lord correctly, as my spiritual mentor Pat Robertson might say, Jesus told me that even He did not want to see Weiner's junk in a towel. He asked me to pass on to Mohler that, while in theory Jesus loves everyone, "I'm just not into Tony that way. Sorry dawg, but DAMN!" He then told me that he was changing his number to prevent Weiner from sexting him. Perhaps if Mohler would check with the guy up stairs before running his mouth then he would produce more accurate public comments.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Baptist President To Anthony Weiner: Turn to Jesus

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler offered some free and unsolicited advice to Congressman Anthony Weiner, who is embroiled in a scandal over the posting of racy pictures of himself. He says that, "There is no effective ‘treatment’ for sin. Only atonement, found only in Jesus Christ." Some considered this statement provocative, since Congressman Weiner is Jewish. However, perhaps they are missing the larger picture of what is wrong with this kind of cheap-shot evangelism.

Like most free advice, Mohler's seems to be worth every penny, and here's why. This man is offering no licensed medical advice on the subject, and it is clear that he has done little research on treatments related to sexual disorders. He claims that "sin" cannot be treated, but clearly Weiner is not trying to treat his previous actions, which cannot be undone. Rather, he is seeking treatment, presumably to understand and therefore avoid some of the irrational, perhaps even obsessive behaviors in which he engaged. Obsessions can be, and frequently are treated quite successful, Mohler's apparent ignorance on the subject notwithstanding. The same goes for irrational ideations, which are frequently addressed in therapy.

Jesus may or may not be able to forgive Weiner for his actions. Some of them, such as the sending of the single x-rated photo, if legitimate, may arguably cross the line into marital infidelity. Weiner's wife, being the injured party, would be the primary from whom atonement should presumably be sought. Given that she is a Muslim, it is unlike that she would want to involve Jesus as a third-party mediator here.

As a consequence, we have to conclude that Mohler could not have been altogether genuine in his suggestion. He had no reasonable expectation that he would convert a Jew or a Muslim to his brand of hard-line Christianity. Instead, he just wanted to exploit the present circumstances as an excuse to proselytize. He was just reminding his own base, as thought they did not already know, that Anthony Weiner is not one of them.

I would like to suggest that Congressman Weiner is not the only person who needs therapy. Mr. Mohler could probably benefit from therapy to treat his own obsessions with evangelical Christianity.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Nostradumbass fails to predict his own stroke

Harold Camping, the octagenarian false prophet of Family Radio fame, who goaded his followers to spend $100 million promoting the incorrect view that the world would end on May 21st, 2011 apparently failed to predict something else today -- his own stroke. Camping, the front-runner for the 2011 Nostradumbass Award from this site, has padded his lead for that accolade by failing to foresee a comparatively easy to predict event in his own immediate future. After all, even a medical examination probably would have given some indication of an impending stroke. You don't need to count up all the jots and tittles in Leviticus and divide by the square root of Bible pi (you know, 3) to figure out that that you're probably going to have a stroke if your blood pressure is through the roof. Of course, it should go without saying, which means that I'll have to say it anyway, but I certainly don't wish any ill health upon Mr. Camping. Some religious types, however, are a bit more judgmental, and will likely see this as God's clear and direct punishment of Camping for his obviously bogus teachings, and his transparent attempts to lie about it afterward, insisting that he was (1) not wrong and (2) not responsible for misleading his followers into spending their life savings on his bogus predictions.

It might be possible that his own guilty conscience is responsible for some of the stress that lead up to this event. However, again, this is hardly impossible to predict. Even I, with no divine powers whatsoever, predicted that Camping would use ridiculous apologetics to explain away the failure of his prediction and I also predicted that he was banking on the possibility that he would not be alive in few months when he has re-predicted the end of the world. He is on track to fulfill that prophecy with this latest incident, which will be too bad, because I would like him to live long enough to see that prophecy fail too and perhaps even to be sued or indicted for the scam that he perpetrated.

By the way, I hope this guy doesn't go to the hospital for treatment, because the Bible teaches that faith-healing is sufficient to fix you right up. This guy should have the courage of his convictions, and show us whether he really believes the swill he's slinging by refusing to use modern medicine. If he is miraculously cured, that might help to rehabilitate his reputation.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Weiner shouldn't throw in the towel

It's hard to tell who is more pathetic, Anthony and his Weiner, or the right-wing holy-warriors who have been ridiculously trying to crucify him over pictures that are mainly PG rated. I mean Republicans like Senator Vitter were caught banging prostitutes while married. Weiner boy takes a picture of himself wrapped in a towel and it's manufactured into a scandal. It's not like there is a sex tape. That's how the rest of our celebrities roll. There is no indication that Anthony stuck the Weiner into anything other than his own wife. It's not like he's Tiger Woods or anything, though he apparently has checked himself into sext-a-holics anonymous, taking a page out of the Tiger playbook. However, at least the media didn't have to wildly exaggerate Tiger's serial philandering. In Weiner's case they seem determined to create the illusion of philandering with the wave of a magic towel. Clearly Anthony has some issues, and probably should talk to a sex therapist about his freak little over-exposure fetish. However, it's hard to believe that this is anything other than intentional weiner roasting by a media who believes that they can embarrass a person into reversing the results of an election.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Gawd doesn't want Weiners to Pull Out

Just to reiterate a point for right-wing theocrats who are determined to see Anthony Weiner pull out of Congress, God may have other ideas. See God got mighty upset with Onan when he hit the road before dumping his load inside of his brother's wife Tamar. Since then the so-called "Sin of Onan" has been that of coitus interruptus, or robbing the booty without doing your duty. Yet now they keep demanding that Weiner pull out. I say he needs to stick with it until the Weiner has done what it came to do. No premature ejections. He needs to take a firm stand on this. He's a Weiner not a pussy-cat. I know he's being dogged by reporters, and he sometimes may feel like he's going to blow his top. But the longer he can last the better. Maybe that's what he's getting therapy for. These kinds of decisions can keep you up all night. But he can't let Pelosi and the DNC shove him around like a piece of meat. They're just trying to play with him and tease hiim and put him back in his cage. Don't fall for it. Don't droop to that level. Slap the table and show them whose in charge.

Should Weiner Pull Out? Has he shot his wad?

Gosh it sure seems to be getting hard on the Weiner right now. I'm not sure he can last much longer, under such an intense pounding. I mean, I'm sure he has heard these jokes his whole life, but usually not repeated every day in the press. Note to self: if your name is Weiner, then it will probably not make things better to be involved in all kinds of kinky phone sexting, now will it?

I suppose that some of the far-right religious theocrats who have waged a jihad against Weiner can at least take consolation in the fact that Weiner has not committed the Sin of Onan, in that he apparently has no intention of prematurely pulling least until he has shot his wad. That's apparently why his wife is pregnant in the first place.

Personally, I think the Weiner should have just used better protection and not jizzed out a bunch of pictures of his junk to scandalous internet hoochies. I mean my how dumb do you have to be to send these things from your own phone and your home computer. Ever heard of free wifi, and cropping your pictures better?

Gawd sez, You better like women, but not too much

You really got your Weiner in a jam now, didn't you Anthony? I'm speaking, of course, about Congressman Anthony Weiner, who always seemed to have a name too unfortunate for a top leadership, though he has proven himself a fiery, and entertaining speaker at times. Now Pelosi is calling for his resignation, and Weiner is allegedly checking himself into sext-a-holics anonymous. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

Of course, right-wing theocrats have long and gleefully waged a jihad against Weiner, a Jew whose wife is a Muslim. Their latest tactic was to claim that he had phone communications with a 17-year-old Delaware girl. While I tire of defending this Weiner-brain, I don't think it takes more than 3 seconds of searching to confirm that the age of consent in Delaware is 16, and nobody is saying that Weiner actually had sex with this unnamed girl. In fact the girl denies that any inappropriate communication too place, and you know that has to be true, because otherwise it would be all over the internet by now.

My only amusement is that this comes on the heels of Tracy Morgan bashing gays. See he wants us to remember that God hates fags. That would make you think that he loves the Weiner. But apparently it's more complicated than that. While God wants you to love women, and the Old Testament thought polygamy was a dandy marriage, the Eternal One apparently changed his mind later on. He decided that you should love women, but just not too much. At least their God should take consolation that Weiner wasn't sexting dudes.

Tracy Morgan Should Join God Hates Fags Church

Tracy Morgan thinks that being born homosexual is "bullshit", because "God don't make no mistakes". I suppose he missed the memo about all the kids being born with no arms or legs or eyes, or any number of other horrific birth defects. Not that I'm saying that homosexuality is a birth defect, or even a "mistake". That is Morgan's faulty premise, but it reflects the simple-minded thinking of a deeply superstitious person, brainwashed by religious extremists who spoon feed idiotic talking points like "god don't make no mistakes". I fully expected Morgan to bust out "God made Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve", but he spared us that one.

Of course Morgan has apologized for this and other comments, including the statement that he would stab his son to death if he turned out to be gay. The thing about apologies, though, is that you actually have to mean them for there to be in value. Granted, I'm sure that, on some level he is sorry that he offended people, especially to the extent that it might harm his popularity and his career. Also, I am also the first person to say that "a joke is a joke", and if he were merely joking, or playing a character, that would be quite a different matter. However, this is no indication that Tracy Morgan is completely joking. OK, he probably wouldn't really stab his son, but he does believe that homosexuality is a "choice", and because he sees it that way, certainly sounds like he would be angry and unaccepting of this "choice".

The thing about this ridiculous choice-only argument, as I have noted before, is that it doesn't stand up to reasonable scrutiny. If this were all a matter of "choice", uninfluenced by biology or hormones, then we would expect as many as 50% of men and women to choose to become homosexuals. Instead, we see very small percentages of the population being homosexual. If you tossed a coin and 99% of the time it came up one way (i.e. straight), I think you would conclude that something is biasing that coin. It's not all just culture.

Gender is, after all, determined chromosomally, but, as we know from the discussion of birth defects, things don't always proceed perfectly from fertilization onward. While most men will naturally develop hormonal based urges that cause them to seek females, and females will feel attraction toward males, it is conceivable that biological wires can cross. Most honest, rational men, for example, can easily admit that didn't just wake up one day and say, "after lengthy deliberation, and careful weighing of the pros and cons, I have decided that I like women". We just started liking women, and would have even if it hadn't been socially acceptable to do so -- whereas, before puberty, most young boys don't particularly care for girls one way or the other.

Of course, one of the groups which has the hardest times being honest and rational is doctrinaire religious adherents, like Tracy Morgan. They're in a bind because their Bible does say some uncomplementary things about homosexuality. However, if the basis of homosexuality were biological, it would seem rather unfair for God to punish people for things out of their control. It would be like punishing Tracy Morgan for being goofy-looking. He really had little "choice" in the matter, at least up until the point that he started making a lot of money and could afford plastic surgery.

Of course, it is conceivable that both sides could be partly right. This is another option that hardcore believers often fail to grasp in their 100% black or white universes. It could be that only some people are genetically and hormonally disposed to be homosexuals and others do it more as a matter of choice. Ever heard about what goes on in prison? Of course there too, those guys don't have a lot of choice in the matter either. Given their limited options they decide that some form of sex is better than nothing. However, outside of prison, many of those individuals tend to show more typical preferences.

This leads me to my last point, which is that Morgan should really have the courage of his convictions, like those Westboro Baptist Church people. Maybe he can join them and become a high profile spokesperson for their group. They could certainly use a bit of diversity, from the look of things. That way he could at least be "out" and honest about his anti-homosexuality, instead of hiding behind insincere apologies.

Monday, June 6, 2011

A man's bare chest is pornography?!!

Gosh, if a picture of a man with a bare chest is pornographic, as some right-wing religious hypocrites are suggesting, in the case of Anthony Weiner, then apparently almost every man in America is guilty of the same crime. I walked outside without a shirt this morning to take the garbage out to the curb. Who knew that I was guilty of the same epic "scandal" that is now being fabricated around US Representative Anthony Weiner. Have you ever seen a crucifix -- you know the ones with Jesus on a cross. More pornography, eh? I'm sure there are loads of Christians offended by Jesus's bare chest and loin cloth, right? Not so much.

How about going to any beach? You'll see a lot of bare chests there too. You might even see the fully clothed bulging crotches. And people of all ages go to a beach. There are women in skimpy bikinis, men in speedos, and even young children. Is anyone scandalized by this? Are you scandalized when you go to a gym? Maybe if this were 1811 instead of 2011. Maybe if it were Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia, instead of the United States of America. Get real, people. All the current evidence about Mr. Weiner's conduct suggests that this is a manufactured scandal. It is a mole hill in search of a mountain. If this is all the better that his opponents can do then why should we give them the time of day?

Pictures of a Weiner. Put it in perspective.

US Representative Anthony Weiner recently admitted that he had send lewd pictures of himself to several women whom he had met online, over the course of several years. He had previously claimed that his twitter account had been hacked. Now everyone is looking at a shirtless picture of someone who is purported to be Anthony Weiner. Really? Is this all they've got. It's not illegal or immoral for men to walk around topless in the summer. Ever heard of a public swimming pool?

Holier than thou right-wing theocrats are having a hypocritical field day condemning Weiner for such activity. That is, they are condemning him just on the basis of a few photographs less provocative than many Hollywood celebrities have taken of themselves on an almost daily basis.
Remember that, on many occasions, holier-than-thou right-wingers have been caught doing far more than sending photographs. For example the self-proclaimed "bishop" Eddie Long has been accused of homosexual activity with four men who were members of his church. Nobody is actually claiming that Weiner really had sex with any of these women. A number of these photographs, while inappropriate, are not invitations to perform any kind of sexual act. Some are just jokes. Yet in the minds of many evangelicals, they can't see the distinction. Even feeling momentary lust is tantamount to adultery, for them. To wit, see my previous post called "The Imaginary Teaching of Jesus".

See, according to Jesus, even looking at a woman lustfully is tantamount to adultery. Arguably, sending a provocative picture of yourself to a woman is not even looking at the woman, though presumably he did look at her picture online, or he probably wouldn't have sent the provocative photo. Still, is there really anyone who observes the standard of not even looking at an attractive woman (or man)? Is it even possible, without living in a monastery, or being blind altogether, to avoid this kind of momentary, hormone-induced reaction?

Now, if it turns out that Weiner actually slept with other women while he was married, or attempted to sleep with them, then that is a different story. But just sending mainly clothed pictures isn't much of a scandal.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

MisBelieving in the Bible

CNN has an article today which is really just a rehash of what any Bible student could tell you for decades. People know little or nothing about the Bible, and many things that they think they know about it are actually not even Bible verses. In other words, modern day myths have grown up about the mythic Bible itself. It cites people like Mike Ditka, who mistakenly believe that "This too shall pass" is a bible verse. In reality, the only thing that is close to this in the bible is the frequent transitional phrase "then it came to pass that ...." Other things like "God helps those who help themselves" or "cleanliness is next to godliness" are also mentioned as being mistakenly identified as Bible verses. However, with respect to the first misquote, perhaps people are confusing the sentiment with Mark 4:25 where Jesus makes the charming pledge, "Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them."

This highlights a point which cannot be over-emphasized about Bible believers. They pick and choose the verses they like, interpreting them in ways that they wish were true, and sometimes completely fabricate Bible verses to justify believing what they already believe. That many of them are unaware that they even do it is not the point. Of course they need to be unaware of this or they wouldn't really believe it anymore. Ignorance may not be bliss but it is belief for many. The best way for most believers to maintain blind faith in the Bible is for them to not have a clue what it actually says.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Magical thinking about end of life

Few things inspire more fear and fascination than death. Arguably religions were invented in ancient times to provide fanciful and elaborate answers for people's insatiable questions surrounding death. These days, however, death is not quite as mysterious. People like the now late Dr. Kevorkian, in part, helped the world to understand that death is not as mysterious, and magical as people might think or fondly wish it to be. It is a brute mechanical fact about how our biological systems work. No system works forever. There is no reason to think that there is a magical land for broken human bodies any more than there is a magical land for broken cars or computers.

Of course, this offends the wish and desires of people who would rather that reality be otherwise. They find more comfort in invisible, undetectable entities like spirits that go to invisible, undetectable places like heaven where they can sit on clouds and play harps. Most of us gave up that kind of fantasy when we left childhood. Most adults, especially in their later years, have acquired enough wisdom to know reality from nonsense, and that is why many old people do not fear death, even if it is the end. Some, like Kevorkian's patients, saw through the ridiculous myths and lies made up by ancient scribes, and sought to take control of their own biologies. Thank you, Jack, for helping people understand that death is not some magical place of candy, and rainbows, and a big family reunion. It is just when our machine stops and our hamster falls off our wheel.

That is not to say that we invite it. Most of us enjoy letting our hamsters run on our wheels as much as they would like. However, all must end and life is not obligatory. The best person to decide how to proceed with your life is you, and lacking compelling reasons, that is how it works most everywhere. After all, it turns out that, even if we wanted to it is too much work to try to run other people's live for them. So, by default, unless there are serious threats to the rest of us, modern society says, go for it. Do what you gotta do. Life is short enough anyway without other busybodies trying to slow you down. If life is not what you want it to be then that is largely up to you to figure out how to change. Most of us find plenty in life worth living. However, in the final analysis there is nothing magical about life or its absence. There are no guarantees, and anyone who tries to sell you one, via religion, politics, or late-night info-mercial, is probably not on the level. Once you stop believing that things have to be magical, and wonderful, and secretly different than they appear, you might just have the time to actually live your life, in peace, and freedom, on your own terms.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Life "from womb to tomb" is nonsense

I know that there is nothing more impressive to certain, simple-minded people than short, infantile slogans that rhyme. Never mind the fact that their slogan, "from womb to tomb" makes no sense, in the case of certain so-called "pro-lifers". After all, you aren't alive well before you make it to your tomb. You probably haven't been alive for several days before you are put in your tomb. Anyway, there is nothing to say that you reached your tomb naturally. There are a lot of unnatural things that could put one in a tomb too, and to listen to their slogan, they apparently support that too. Suicide puts you in a tomb, doesn't it?

Furthermore, I thought religious fanatics believe that life starts at conception. This "womb to tomb" slogan contradicts that, because conception does NOT take place in the "womb". Fertilization takes place in the fallopian tubes, and then the conceptus moves to implant in the lining of the uterine wall. So life really happens before the womb, at least according to them when they're trying to argue issues like abortion. Or is that only the BS they claim to believe when they're getting all-self righteous, and preachy? know it would be too complicated to say that life goes from the second you're born to the second you expire.

Kevorkian is dead. Long live Kevorkian.

Controversial figure Jack Kevorkian died today, at age 83, joining the 130 patients whom he helped end their life journeys. Most of the legitimate, intelligent "controversy" about euthanasia centers around making sure that adequate safeguards are put in place so that terminally ill patients make an informed and mentally competent decision when it comes to ending one's own life. However, in many places where euthanasia, in the form of physician assisted suicide, is legally permitted, there are elaborate safeguards. You can't just break up with your girlfriend at age 18, get drunk, and go down to the suicide drive-thru for your shot of cyanide. You have to be a terminally ill patient in a sound state of mind, and often have to wait months. Now then, Kevorkian and some of his sympathizers thought this was too much of a burden for very sick, pain-wracked patients, and they sought short-cuts. Reasonable people can disagree on the types of safeguards which should be in place, as a matter of public policy.

However, there are also the unreasonable, unintelligent objections to suicide. These often come, unsurprisingly, from absolutist religious fanatics, who seem to believe that suicide is not permitted under any circumstances. The actual number of bible verses relating to suicide are surprisingly slim, and as usual, quite vague. Some try to claim that the body is a temple and killing oneself defiles that temple, as per passages like 1 Cor 3:17. However, it's not clear why this would defile the body any more than natural death. From a Jewish perspective, dead bodies were unclean, and it didn't particularly matter how the body died. Besides, lots of things might theoretically defile the body, such as shaking hands with a gentile, or masturbating. Is suicide in the same trivial category as these types of deeds?

Others say that suicide is wrong because it is killing, and the so-called ten commandments prohibit killing. Of course, they don't really prohibit all killing. We still kill in war, and self-defense, and even in capital punishment, which is heartily endorsed by the same bible that supposedly commands us not to kill. It is conceivable that people could interpret suicide in terms of administering capital punishment to oneself, as per a variety of biblical directives which call for capital punishment of people committing minor offenses, up to and including gathering sticks on the Sabbath, blasphemy, etc.

Some try to put words in the Bible's mouth and say that what it really means is that you aren't supposed to kill innocent people for no reason. However, nobody is truly innocent, and terminally ill people certainly have reasons. At the very least, we must admit that killing of oneself is quite different than killing of a non-consenting other.

Consider the analogy to stealing. The same commandments say we are not supposed to steal. However, is it stealing when you say it is OK? Is it stealing when you do it to yourself. Clearly, no. If someone takes your money then it's stealing. If you give your money away freely then nobody would say that this donation amounts to "stealing from yourself".

Comparing then with killing, when you kill someone else you steal that person's life. However, you can't really steal from yourself, in the same way, as we just explained, because you have given at least a measure of consent, whereas an outside individual may not have.

One might similarly take the view that killing oneself can be a form of justifiable defense, or even a form of warfare, both of which are traditionally exempted from prohibitions against killing. In the first case, one might argue that killing oneself was defending oneself and one's quality of life against mortal attack by the ravages of disease, and pain. It is conceivable that one might look terminal diseases as a form of war, declared by nature against one's own body. Killing is sometimes justified in war, and that killing might include destruction of oneself, to prevent the enemies of disease and ill-health from making further gains on the battlefield.

Of course, if you disagree with anything, then you certainly shouldn't do it. You are even free to attempt to persuade others not to do it. For the record, I am not advocating that people do it, generally, because, aside from the terminally ill, most of us have plenty to live for. If this life is the only one we get, contrary to the wishful thinking of many religious people, then we want to make sure we get the most we can out of it. However, if one is satisfied with what one has gotten out of life already and now the burdens of life have become too heavy, that is something that the individual will have to address. That was what Kevorkian, in his own way was saying, which is why I say, though "Kevorkian is dead. Long live Kevorkian" in terms of his idealism.