Thursday, October 23, 2014

Early Voting. And Dump The Ads!

I voted yesterday. What's your excuse?

It took two minutes. No exaggeration. If you count drive-time, it took five minutes. I did it while being nervous that it would make me late for class. I ended up getting to class ten minutes early for once.

Not registered to vote? You can register right there. Then it will take you three minutes.

In fact, early voting is such a breeze that I'm rather disappointed that I can only do so here in the suburb of Greenfield. Just for contrast, I want to purposely change my address to Milwaukee just so that I can experience what early voting is like when I have to fight downtown traffic to get to city hall and vote there. (Not that I'm advocating stuffing the ballot, or anything.)

So, if this wonderful new mechanism for getting out the vote works so beautifully, why are we still forced to hit the 'mute' button every time the local news breaks for commercials to keep us from being assaulted by whopper-lie-telling political advertisements?

Isn't that money better spent on buses and car pools?

Hey, here's an idea! Vote taxi! It could be free and available to all! All candidates have to contribute to it, then voters without transportation can book a time, get to the polls and vote!

I'm going to have to blog about that again!

Anyway, my ultimate point is simply this: The demographic in Wisconsin has not changed in the four years we've managed to survive Scott Walker. 45% of the state is infatuated with him. Another 45% can't stand the bastard. And it's no secret that I'm in the latter camp. Here on this blog I've insulted Walker with any number of creative nicknames. I've called him Little Boy Blue (because he's a former employee of IBM). I've called him the drop-out kid because he IS a college drop out. (Left Marquette, never even thought of completing his degree since. Dumbass.) I've called him slash-and-burn Walker, based on his track record of slashing and burning as County Executive of Milwaukee and his first (unbelievably disastrous) month in office as governor. I suppose the 10% of people in the middle would like to see Walker gone, but aren't too sure what to make of Mary Burke, either. 51% of Wisconsinites wanted Walker gone during the recall election of two years ago, but voted for him because they hated the politics behind the recall itself. I can only think that the disgruntled middle will swing the other way this time.

Current polls show that Walker and Burke are tied. But poll projections are based on two things: registered voters and likely voters. In both polls, it's still close, with Walker having a slim edge. Both registered voter numbers and likely voter numbers can swing dramatically democratic with a large voter turnout, because let's face it, Wisconsin is blue-purple. When people actually bother show up, Obama wins, Obamacare is approved of, and Planned Parenthood is fully funded. When people don't show up, the loud minority shoves right-wing crap down the throats of an unwilling constituency.

And we'll have deserved it, because we stayed home.

Back to my original point, not staying home and voting early is easy.

So don't stay home! Go vote, Wisconsin!

Quick, before they figure out a way to gerrymander the governorship as well.



Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Have you voted yet? Early voting is on, you know. If you haven't, do so. And here's a little added incentive in the form of my informing you what little tidbits are on this year's ballot which you might not have known about. Did you know there are some interesting referendums on the ballot this year? None of the referendums are binding, but at least the government will get some real feedback from its electorate for once. I will detail them for you, and give a little bit of my own input at the same time. But before I do, let me point out that I found these via my local municipality's website. The City of Greenfield, where I live, details everything which is on its ballot in .pdf format, allowing me to read up on who's who on the ballot itself. I can then research any names I don't know about and vote accordingly. It's a fast and easy way to stay informed. One quick internet search and your done. You don't even need to bother putting the news on your radio dial. (Although I recommend everyone stays informed.) And now, on to the good stuff:

First, the State of Wisconsin would like to know if you wish to create a transportation fund.  "Shall section (blah, blah) of article (blah, blah, blah) of the constitution be created to require that revenues generated by use of the state transportation system be deposited into a transportation fund administered by a department of transportation for the exclusive purpose of funding Wisconsin's transportation systems and to prohibit any transfers or lapses from this fund?"

Interesting. (Yawn!) Personally, I think that the odds of public transportation fees actually generating a profit are about as likely as aliens landing on top of the state capital.  But in the unlikely event that I'm wrong, I don't think those excess funds should be barred from being used to pay other debts. Money should be flexible, or it's not really useful. But that's just me.

Now things get more interesting. You get to vote on whether corporations are people! "Shall the United States Constitution be amended to establish the following? 1. Only human beings, not corporations, are entitled to constitutional rights, and 2. Money is not speech, and therefore, regulating political contributions and spending is not equivalent to limiting political speech."

Well, DUH! Obviously, this is in retaliation for our generation's Dredd Scott case in the Supreme Court. What a shame this one isn't binding.

Here's another interesting one: "Shall the next State Legislature accept all available federal funds for BadgerCare to ensure that thousands of Wisconsin citizens have access to affordable health coverage?"

Translation: Will you Republicans stop fucking with Obamacare and let us have the damn money already? Hey, since it seems to finally be working, you might as well not kick the sick while they're down in order to play politics. That one should go without saying.

Next question: "Should the State of Wisconsin increase the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour?"

Yes, some make-work jobs will be lost by this move. But those who are forced to depend on minimum wage jobs will get their chance to improve their lives, and possibly even be able to invest in better education to better their lot in life. This will ultimately mean more real-wage jobs for everyone, long-term.  Don't worry, 2% inflation will restore even this wage hike to a non-living wage in about five years. Do nothing, and minimum wage goes from near-slavery to outright slavery.

And finally: "Should Wisconsin Statutes be amended to allow Milwaukee County to transition its management and administrative functions from an elected County Executive to a professional County Administrator?"

Fucking what? I'll admit, I had no idea what this question was meant to be about, either. But I did a little bit of digging, and here's what this referendum item seems to pertain to. Apparently, Chris Abele proposed a new law which would limit the governing powers of the County Board and turn some of those powers over to hired professionals instead. The board is bristling over this move, and is basically asking us to side with them in saying, 'Well, Abele, how would YOU like it?'

Personally, I'm voting 'no' on this one. Too many cooks spoiling the broth is disgusting enough at the national level. But when I see it at the local level, it makes me want to puke. We should have  no more than five county board members (like Los Angeles does!), and yet we are burdened with a whopping seventeen of them. Just shut up and collect your over-bloated paychecks already!

So that's it! Five referendum questions. Your government wants to hear from you for a change.




Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Taking On ISIS.

Well, here we go again.

Yes, once again we're involved in a conflict with what's left of Persia. And, once again, we have shitty reasons for going in. The terrorists who comprise the Islamic so-called State (notice that I don't say, 'so-called Islamic State') are continually trying to provoke us into overreacting, and we are, of course, trying to avoid being appeasers by giving them exactly what they want. How very logical. These terrorists want an all-out fight with the West, and we are more than willing to oblige them.

It's almost as if they've forgotten we have nukes. Even worse, it appears as though we've forgotten we have them.

No, don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating we drop a nuke or two on thousands of innocent women and children just to kill millions of evil, religious assholes. But I must admit, it is tempting.

In spite of our nuclear advantage, ISIS is somehow seen as a threat to us. But why? Do they have ICBM's? No. Do they have long-range aircraft? No. Do they have any operatives working in the US or its neighbors? So far, we know of none. So how are they a threat when they're stranded on the other side of the fucking planet?

I guess they're seen as a threat because that makes for good television. It's worth dropping a nuke on them just to eliminate that nonsense. Or we could just nuke Newscorp's corporate offices. Again, I'm not serious, just tempted.

What I want to discuss, however, is not the ethical "dilemma" of whether or not to render the territory of Islamic State a radioactive wasteland. Rather, I want to discuss Our Trophy President, and what on earth he could be thinking about as he goes ahead and does precisely what Dick Cheney would do in his place.

You see, this proves (yet again) a point I've been making for years, which is that Barack Obama is a Republican in all but name. Of course Bush II would have done exactly this. So would McCain. Mitt Romney would undoubtedly be trying to garner federal funds to send Mormon missionaries off to do their two-year stint in ISIS-held territory only to have their young heads chopped off. (A thought which, in spite of my better judgement, I find rather funny.) Over and over again, Obama does exactly what Reagan would have done, and the reaction by the dittohead caucus is to brand all these conservative actions as rabid socialism. Barack should simply change his party affiliation so that Republicans can fall all over themselves converting to the Democratic party and declare that institution the new safe-haven for True Conservatism. (Another thought which, in spite of my better judgement, I find rather funny.)

The truth is deeper than this, however. True, Our Trophy President pledged that we would not get involved in this sort of warfare again. He campaigned over and over again about leaving the region for good. And yet, here we are, marching right back in to try to glue back together an area of the world which has been repeatedly broken.

It ought to be enough to make us regret breaking it in the first place.

So what is making this self-professed peacenik go back on his vows? What could turn this purported dove into such a hawk? I think I know why.

You see, Our Trophy President is a man of conscience. He really is. He honestly tries to do the right thing every day, which puts him far and away above most politicians. But this means that he must look at the situation regarding ISIS in a somewhat moralistic light. As president, he could act militarily and prevent ISIS from committing mass genocide. On the other hand, he could stick to his pledge, keep his promises, and sit by as millions of innocents are slaughtered. The former saves lives. The latter saves his political cohesiveness.

For a man of conscience, the answer is clear: He has chosen to save lives rather than preserve his stature in political history - even during a midterm election season.

Honestly, I'm so proud of the man that I'm moved to tears. It's amazing! What a magnanimous creature our president is! I was quite right to label him as Our Trophy President. He is precisely that, and more!

And I disagree emphatically with what he's doing.

Yes, I understand it. But I still disagree with it. ISIS (or ISIL, or whatever this doomed-to-be-short-lived state calls itself) is a direct consequence of our bungling the process of helping to set up a new Iraqi government. The Sunnis were shut out of the political process, and now they have come back with religiously extremist allies bearing guns and spouting Koranic scripture. Honestly, what did we expect would happen? But as much as this is true, it doesn't change the fact that Islam has a terrifying problem within its own ranks. Right-thinking and tolerant Muslims who believe in true religious freedom are in the minority, and the vast majority (ISIS-minded people, all of them) are bent upon forcing others to the Law of Allah. No, they cannot force men to their religion, as the Koran forbids that. But then again, they are not forcing people to accept their religion. All they are doing is forcing people into accepting the Laws of Allah. (See the subtle difference, there?) This is not dissimilar to the situation facing Christianity during the Dark Ages, an era which gave rise to endless religious oppression, the Spanish Inquisition, and (thanks largely to religious condemnations against cats) the Bubonic Plague and the Black Death. But the Inquisition did one beneficial thing - it paved the way for an intellectual backlash, one which we still refer to as The Enlightenment. It gave rise to Secularism, and with it, freedom of religion and democracy.

So, am I arguing that ISIS is necessary for there to be a true Arab-world Renaissance? You bet your ass I am! For liberal Islam to emerge, it is absolutely necessary for fundamentalist Islam to burn itself out. Without a Torquemada to condemn, an Enlightenment movement does not take place. Without a Hitler, no memorials go up saying, "never again." Yes, the road is hard, but it is necessary. We need the Evil Empire to rise to prominence if the Just and Righteous are to defeat it. And furthermore, we need the Evil Empire to be fully and completely Islamic, just as we need the people who defeat it to be.

You see, the Inquisition was not a perversion of Christianity. It was the perfect expression of it! It is logically better for someone to be tortured a little bit in this life so that they may avoid eternal torture in the hereafter. Christians themselves tore this down. But ever since this notion was defeated, Christianity has struggled to regain both its lost status and its moral certainty. Democracy had its chance to flourish only because liberal Christians held the fundamentalists in check. Islam, too, must undergo this transformation from fervent belief to milquetoast moderation. But for that to take place, the Perfect Evil version of itself must be allowed to fester. The boils must come to the surface before they can be lanced.

I know full well what I am arguing. I am arguing for the deaths of mothers and their babes in arms, of fathers who are just trying desperately to protect them, of children who are too young to understand any of it. And I know that their deaths will come by the thousands. In the eyes of our president, this is too high a price to pay, and he feels compelled to do something about it. I don't blame him. But while he sees the thousands who will be massacred today, I see the tens of hundreds of thousands who will be massacred later on if we don't stay the hell out of it. The better (but harder!) course of action is to not get involved, and it is easiest to achieve with a lame-duck president sticking to his original principles. Too bad he isn't, noble though his motives might be.

Put simply, my argument is that evil must feed upon evil until it consumes itself, like a snake eating its own tail. But it will never have time to feast if we keep dropping bombs on it with airstrikes.

And wouldn't the terrorists just love it if we get goaded into spending ourselves to death militarily just like the Soviet Union once did?



Wednesday, September 17, 2014

How Dems Can Win In 2014 (And Every Mid-Term Election Thereafter!)

When it comes to midterms, liberals just don't seem to give a damn.

No, really. The book on democrats is, they just don't get out and vote if there isn't a president to vote for on the ballot. It's easy for democrats to get out the vote when the White House is at stake. But congressmen? Senators? They don't care. Why?

Part of it is because democrats only vote when they're pissed, and they're seldom pissed when there's a democrat in the White House. They also seldom get pissed in general. Unless something affects them directly, such as a huge spike in oil prices or a sudden downturn in the economy (often the same thing), they're reasonably content. Republicans also tend to vote when they're pissed, but they happen to be pissed all the time. Being a conservative often entails being old and cranky. Part of the problem is also religion. The irreligious liberal base tends to not get prodded into voting by any sort of edict from certain pulpits in violation of church/state separation. But this isn't the whole story. The primary reason, it seems, is simple logistics.

The bulk of what comprises the base in the Democratic party is well known: Poor people, minorities, young adults, and women. For all except the last one, getting out and voting means going well out of one's way, as barriers exist in transportation and scheduling. If you're poor, you are likely working all the time just to make any sort of headway. Good luck voting during the lunch break you don't really have, right? If your're young, a similar situation exists, as barriers are present in the form of school and jobs. Poor people and minorities are often dependent upon public transportation, making the process of getting to the polls that much more difficult. Groups exist to help provide transportation to and from the balloting areas, but during midterms, these resources just aren't there in the numbers they need to be.

Well, there's now a way around all that, and it just might save the Democratic party's ass this November (and the rest of us, by extension). It's such a new phenomenon that it slipped under the radar two years ago, and it may well do so again. For example, statistician Nate Silver is predicting a Republican Party victory in both the House and the Senate, and he's seldom wrong  in his predictions. Yet one X-factor might have been overlooked, even by him. One thing might tip the scales to favor the Democrats - for good.

What is this wonderful thing, you ask?

I already revealed it back in 2012! It's called early voting! Instead of waiting until the first Tuesday of November, you show up in advance at your local City Hall, fill out your ballot ahead of time, and you're done! It's fast, it's easy, and it's convenient!

Best of all, you have two whole weeks to get it done before election day. Problems getting a bus there and back? Not as much of a problem. Are you dirt poor and only get off Thursdays? You get two Thursdays to vote before everybody else! Get it done! Get it done! Vote early!

Yes, there are still some issues involved with this. Especially in Milwaukee, City Hall can be a little difficult to get to. Voter ID laws have been upheld in Wisconsin, adding yet another barrier (although I've already speculated that this tactic might backfire). But hey! You can get your ID right near City Hall! There's a Milwaukee DMV on 819 N. 6th St., only two blocks away! Go get your ID, then go vote! It's easy! And you have two whole weeks to do it! Vote early! Vote early! VOTE EARLY!

Yes, liberals are often famous at procrastinating. But the usual services in place to get voters to the polls on election day can be in place for two whole weeks prior to election day as well. How about a car-pooling network for inner city voters without their own transportation to help out? How about getting black community and church leaders to organize their buses and vans for two whole weeks instead of one Tuesday? How about well-off liberal college academics and professors getting off their lazy asses and putting their vehicles to good use for once?

Remember, the best way to steal a vote is to convince someone in the opposition not to bother.

Will it work? I believe it can! It can drive up votes for Democrats by double-digit percentage points! Even if Republicans tried to mirror the tactic, they would not gain nearly as much, since they've maximized their voter turn-out already. And it's so new that it might have flown underneath even Nate Silver's radar. Imagine the shock on conservatives' faces when all the voters they were counting on to not show up suddenly have their voices roaringly heard when the absentee ballots get counted, and the victory needle suddenly swings from the Republican side to the Democratic side! What a lovely sight that would be!

So vote early! Vote early! VOTE EARLY!

And, did I mention, vote early?



Thursday, June 19, 2014

Time For Iraq To Stand!

In an earlier blog post, I asked the question of whether Egypt is ready for democracy. I concluded that it was, and that democracy had a better chance of standing when its citizens had to fight for it themselves. I was right. Egypt won its elections, and then won them again when a technicality handed power over to a minority-interest religious thug. They won - twice.

Well, now it's Iraq's turn.

I combed through all my past posts, knowing that in the past I predicted that this day would come.  I predicted that terrorist cells would attack Iraq, and that the young nation would have to learn how to stand on its own. Alas, that blog post was likely during a time in which I was blogging to Facebook directly rather than using this outlet. So the post has been lost. But I did predict this. Iraq must now stand on its own two feet. We can help with relief, or possibly even with drone strikes, but we can't do much otherwise.

You see, people simply tend not to appreciate what they have unless they've paid for it themselves. This is why low-rent housing slums are dumps - the people living there don't care about them after paying sub-market prices. They bought it dirt cheap, so they treat it like dirt. A child who is given a toy as a gift tends to neglect that toy much more than a child who bought the same toy after earning the money doing chores or mowing people's lawns.  It's just human nature - you appreciate something according to the amount of effort you put in to acquire it. The same holds true of a nation. If its freedom was paid with someone else's blood, it tends not to be appreciated either.

Not that I'm suggesting that Iraqis didn't pay a blood price. On the contrary! They suffered collateral damage for years as fighting took place in their own streets. But their own sons and daughters didn't fight for freedom. Ours did. And that means that they might not fully appreciate what they have.

Until it's threatened, that is. Until such time as they must pay the price with the blood of their own sons.

Now that day has come. Iraq will stand, or it will fall. But if it falls, its people will remember what it was like to be free, and will fight for it back. Either way, Iraq's freedom is not in question. It will be free! But which path will it take? The easy path, or the hard one?

I'm not certain. If Iraq falls, what rises again may be a Shi'ite East Iraq, a Sunni West Iraq, and an independent Kurdistan. Or perhaps the current Iraqi government may beat the odds and survive. Either way, Iraqis will decide their own fate.

And that's the way it should be.

Enough with calling this a failure of Obama's administration. This was Bush's failure. You can't stem the tide of the inevitable forever. Sooner or later, this had to happen.

To be frank, I'm surprised it took this long for the Islamists to attack.



Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Bowe Bergdahl and... Slender Man?

In the strange thought-association orchestra which constantly plays inside my brain, a pair of chords often gets struck which seems, at first, to be rather dissonant, but upon further hearing, resolves itself into the onset of what becomes a lovely symphony of juxtaposition.

Translation: I've once again tied together two unrelated news items brilliantly.

True, the primary reason I do this is because I'm limited in my blogging time, and so wish to discuss more than one news event simultaneously. That doesn't mean what you're about to read isn't both true and fun.  I promise you, it's both.

Here at the Sacred Cow Wursthaus, the drum is often beat again and again that belief continually leads to bad events.  This itself is not a belief, it's a proven fact, and it has recently been proven so yet again in the sad city of Waukesha, Wisconsin, where traditional faith in Jesus Christ is lionized, and politicians repeatedly win on platforms of promoting old world superstitions. Well, my friends, faith kills, and it has struck once again. This time with two little girls who believed that the "Slender Man" would come and take them away to another world if they offered up the life of another little girl. Well, the Slender Man did not come. But these two are headed for another world - one of steel and concrete, where other female inmates await during mealtimes with sharpened spoons. At least the girl didn't die.

It's not enough to emphasize how belief nearly killed an innocent girl. It's not even enough to emphasize that this poor girl did not, herself, necessarily believe this crap - one doesn't have to be a participant within a particular faith to be a victim of it. No, it's necessary to also point out the urgency needed in the promotion of skepticism in this day and age.

My own generation, raised in the poor special effects of the 1970's and transported to musical Eden with MTV in the 1980's (oh where, oh where has the music gone?), struggled mightily with coming to grips with reality against such a fantastical riptide.  Every minute of every day, we were blasted with man-made magical realism, and not just on television and the commercials which made our favorite shows financially solvent. No, we were immersed every day with lies that encouraged us toward credulity, from zodiacal horoscopes to the Sunday School sessions which told us so many ghastly lies. This was the era which saw the rise to prominence of phony spoon-bender Uri Geller, of fake psychic Sylvia Browne, and the National Enquirer at the grocery store checkout aisle. None other than Leonard Nimoy led us In Search Of... well, bullshit, to be perfectly honest. I remember my own mother epitomized this trend by getting me a pet rock for Christmas in 1976. I really didn't know what to make of it. My dad, I seem to now recall, looked decidedly smug at my skeptical reaction. In retrospect, it was quite a father-son moment.

But today's children have so much more to overcome than we did. We believed in UFO's when all the evidence ever consisted of was a few grainy photographs of what looked to be hubcaps or aluminum-foil-covered frisbees thrown into the air.  Imagine what kids must feel when they see the amazing videos showing aliens flying over Haiti, put together by a special effects artist for free? (And that having been done seven years ago!) We believed in dragons and dinosaurs when all we had for special effects was Sid and Marty Krofft's production of The Land of The Lost.  But what must today's children think when they see something as amazing as the dragons on the HBO series Game of Thrones? Hell, I remember being scared shitless by the witch on The Wizard of Oz at age six, and not fully realizing that the movie, Jesus of Nazareth, was not filmed on location by time-traveling cameramen. Can today's kids truly cope with a world where any sort of magic can be made real by any nerd on a computer?

I'm not sure. But I know this: This is not the age where skepticism can afford to slack off. People need real resources to find the truth.  Tendency towards believing the irrational runs deep in our species. We need to root it out before it does even greater damage.

Which oddly enough leads me to Bowe Bergdahl. The U.S. Government has secured his release in exchange for five P.O.W.'s held at Guantanomo Bay, Cuba. Republicans are up in arms that we traded away five for one, and are even more outraged that we let terrorists go free. Yes, these people we released from Gitmo could become active in terrorism again, and probably will. But why did we do it? And what does it have to do with belief and two girls turning murderous in Waukesha?

The answer has to do with belief systems again, this time in politics - where such systems are much more pernicious than the ones found in religion. You may recall that, shortly after Obama's first election, the first thing he tried to do was close Guantanomo Bay as a prison for suspected terrorists. But it didn't quite work. Howls of outrage were heard all over the nation at the thought of housing terrorists in prisons which were inside the borders of the United States. Never mind that this is exactly the same thing we did with other terrorists who were even worse, such as Charles Manson, Timothy McVeigh, and the Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Never mind that due process of law, even for suspected terrorists, is one of the fundamental traits which makes America the Land of the Free (as opposed to the Land of the Enslaved). And never mind that any terrorist would find the prospect of being in a prison filled with Christian inmates, surrounded on all sides by the Bible-thumping Midwest heartland and subject to all the prejudices such a region has to offer, much more terrifying that Gitmo ever was. No, apparently it was determined that we mustn't soil our, well, soil with such people. It was imperative to the Republican Party that the terrorists not be brought into America.

This was a belief, pure and simple, without logical basis or merit. It had no evidence or empiricism to support its claims, nor did it even bother with such trivialities.  This belief won. The detainees at Guantanomo were left there to rot.

And now the result of that belief has come back to haunt us.

You see, because this belief prevented Gitmo from being emptied, it created a problem. To close the base, everyone had to be transported out of it. But where? America was the only option, and it got ruled out by petty politics! No other nation has stepped forward as willing to house these people, guilty until proven innocent. And they have to go somewhere, don't they?

The unfortunate solution is, if we can't house them in American jails, we simply have no other choice but to get rid of them some other way. Perhaps a bullet to the head, except that would violate international law. We could let them die naturally, which would be even worse. Or, we could simply release them, which would be anathema.

This time, Our Trophy President has opted for the latter.  He has let five detainees go.

An outrage? Very likely. Soft on terrorism? Certainly. But if we have to let them go, and thanks to Republican shenanagins, we do, then we could at least get something back for them. Which we did. We got a shell-shocked and badly abused P.O.W. out of the clutches of the Taliban.

It looks like a bad trade, and it is. But better to get something rather than nothing, and Republicans left us with no option but to get nothing. We could have housed the terrorists here, making legally almost impossible to trade them away for one P.O.W.  But once again, belief was the problem, not the solution.

So what now? Can we prevent these released terrorists from acting out again? Probably not. It's silly to hope that they've grown too old in our unconstitutional prison to go back to their old tricks. But then again, perhaps we broke them. Maybe twelve years of waterboarding has convinced them that they're better off spending the rest of their lives smoking cigarettes and watching television. We can hope so.

And if not, maybe we can convince two little girls that they'll get to meet the Slender Man if they go find them and stab them to death.



Thursday, April 17, 2014

Vandalized FFRF Sign @ WI Capital

Finally, the rare concurrence of free time with an interesting current event has led to another blog post from yours truly.

Recently an "Easter" sign inside the Wisconsin state capital building was vandalized. The sign was put there by the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The reason it was vandalized is rather obvious, as the message is quite deliberately offensive.  It reads: "Nobody died for our 'sins,' Jesus Christ is a myth." Here's a photo of the mutilated sign.

Now, there are a few interesting points I need to make regarding this interesting news tidbit. Yes, the sign is deliberately offensive, but then again, that's precisely the point. If Christians don't want signs in the state capital that attack their views in this way, then they shouldn't put up signs which attack others' creeds there, either. It's the Golden Rule writ large. Do unto other religions as you would have those religions (or, in this case, lack of religion) do unto you. Or, conversely, if Christians insist on using state property for evangelism (and they stubbornly do), then signs as offensive as this one ought to be allowed. Fair's fair. Don't like it? Then reconsider your position.

Okay, I get the point. But I simply don't like the idea of any state capital building, much less my own, being peppered with signs proclaiming various dogmas at various times of the year. There's freedom of speech, yes, but there's also pragmatism. The bottom line of religious freedom is that government plays no favorites. If everyone's viewpoint gets to be heard in the form of a sign inside a government institution, that sounds fair on paper, but in practice it means that the capital building gets cluttered with signs from every major denomination as well as every dog-and-pony creed out there, which is pretty much what the Wisconsin state capital building currently looks like. Lawmakers and concerned citizens alike should be able to roam the halls of legislation without having to hurdle and endless array of religious signs like some Olympic athlete. So, instead of everyone's religion getting to put up their sign. it makes more sense for no one to put up their sign. This is not favoritism of the lack of religion, as the Freedom From Religion Foundation, American Atheists and other similar institutions don't get to put up their signs either.  It's high time Wisconsin adopted that policy.

That said, I don't like this sign.  I'm an atheist myself, and I find it embarrassing.  Seriously, I'm not sure what Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor are thinking these days, but I wouldn't have approved of a sign like this on the bumper sticker of a volunteer's automobile, much less in the middle of the Wisconsin state capital building. Seriously, saying that Jesus Christ is a myth is just a little bit overboard. Yes, I happen to think that nobody died for my sins, but I do think there's barely enough anecdotal evidence to think that there was a historical man named Jesus living in first century Judea.  No, I don't think he fed five thousand with a few loaves and fish, turned water into wine or walked on water, but Jesus is a transliterated version of the name Joshua - which was a very popular name. Many people in that time and place must have had that name.  It's reasonable to assume that one of those people was famous.

So why the fuck is FFRF putting up a sign that's offensive to me as an atheist?

I know from experience that the path to atheism can only be taken with slow steps. It never, NEVER happens that someone leaves a religion right away after a sudden realization of truth. It took me a long time to come to grips with the reality that Jehovah/Allah/Yahweh was in the same category as Zeus/Odin. So had I come upon a sign such as the one in the above photograph when I was, say, 25, I myself would have considered vandalizing it! At the time, I had left fundamentalism and the ministry for good, but was still hopeful that I could find a more rational path for Christianity, one more friendly to science and evolution. But finding this sign would probably have militarized me, and I would have re-entrenched myself in the Christian camp, finding new bogus rationalizations for me to believe the traditional dogma. So you see, the FFRF sign accomplishes the exact opposite of what it's trying to achieve!  Nothing makes people dig in quite like a direct attack.

In other words, if you want people to come out of their foxholes, stop bombing! You'll find that the same people who stuff fingers in their ears at a shout will strain to hear a whisper. You'll catch more flies with honey than vinegar.  You'll... oh, pick your own metaphor.

Dan & Laurie, I love you both, but get a clue.

Finally, I must address the idiot who actually did vandalize the sign. Yes, I fully understand your viewpoint. I was there myself, once. I was a Christian, and I would have wanted to react much the same way. But how is the willingness to commit vandalism supposed to convince others to take your opinion seriously? Because from my perspective, destroying other people's property makes your opinion look pretty fucked up! It's people like you who have been peeling off my Obama bumper stickers and ripping off my Darwin fish from off the back of my car. And it's people like you who throw acid in the faces of women who don't wear their burqas in Saudi Arabia. Oh, yes indeed, sir! You are no different from a mullah with a sword who cuts off the head of a man who leaves Islam for Christianity! It's exactly the same intolerance, and I damn you for it in this life, even as you pretend to damn me in my eventual death.

So let's everybody just silence the cannons and take a deep breath, shall we? Bible burning is as wrong as Bible thumping.

Thank you.