People want to say that not having the right to marry whomever you love isn’t hurting anyone. Here is the proof that it is.
There are some people out there who love President Obama so much that they will defend him to their last, dying breath. Everything he does is perfect. He is the greatest president in American history. No one can top him.
There are some people out there who hate President Obama so much that they will attack anything and everything that he does. Everything thing he does is wrong or a failure. Everything bad that goes on in the world is his fault. He is the worst president ever.
This next case is one of those latter scenarios.
Welcome to “Umbrella-gate!”
On Thursday, President Obama was holding a press conference with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. During the conference, it started to rain, so President Obama called on two Marines standing nearby to hold some umbrellas for the two of them.
And conservatives are freaking out!
The Daily Caller, a conservative blog, had the headline, “Obama breaches Marine umbrella protocol.”
According to the Washington Post:
“Obama expects our troops to hold damn umbrellas rather than go inside: It’s disrespectful, inconsiderate, classless,” tweeted Lou Dobbs.
“Mr. President, when it rains it pours, but most Americans hold their own umbrellas,” former Alaska governor Sarah Palin added on Facebook.
The conservative Move America Forward PAC likened the umbrella-holding to what conservatives view as Obama’s weak response to September’s attack in Benghazi, Libya. A fundraising e-mail from the group read, “Rain: ‘Hold My Umbrella.’ Benghazi: ‘Stand Down.’ ”
Seriously. Who gives a flying fuck?
I’m not trying to defend President Obama. There are things he does that I like and things I don’t like (drone strikes, crackdowns on medical marijuana, etc.).
But seriously, people. If you’re not going to like the President, do it for legitimate reasons. Hating and attacking him for having a Marine hold an umbrella, which he can do as Commander-in-Chief, is not a legitimate reason.
Holy shit! Listen to this voice mail that was left to Dan Koller of D Magazine by Dallas city council candidate Richard Sheridan (shown above) about one of his opponents, who is gay.
No surprise, he’s a conservative Christian.
According to Robert Sobel of Examiner, “…18-year-old Jacob King received 77 votes, 49 more than Sheridan’s 28 votes, which landed him in fourth place in the election held this past Tuesday. The “gay” opponent, Leland Burk finished second to Jennifer Staubach Gates.”
There’s not really much else I can say about it. Just listen to it. Please, put your headphones in if you have children around or people who are easily offended.
As D Magazine put it, when you listen to this, you “may need a shower afterwards.”
In a recent post of mine, I talked about and rebuked an excerpt from Frans de Waal’s new book, The Bonobo and the Atheist: In Search of Humanism Among the Primates, that was published in Salon.
His book is, to say the least, infuriating. That is to say, when he talks about what he likes to call the “neo-atheists,” he stereotypes us and employs the same kinds of misconceptions and arguments that theists use, and he himself is an atheist.
For example, he says at one point in his book (emphasis mine), “Why are the “neo-atheists” of today so obsessed with God’s nonexistence that they go on media rampages, wear T-shirts proclaiming their absence of belief, or call for a militant atheism? What does atheism have to offer that’s worth fighting for? As one philosopher put it, being a militant atheist is like “sleeping furiously.”
Seriously, read that excerpt. He likes to pick on and bash the late Christopher Hitchens a bit in it. The link is available through my blog post linked above. Be sure to read my post about it too.
Anyway. De Waal made an appearance on my local public radio station, 90.1 KERA, to talk about his new book. When I found this out, I was actually kind of pissed.
To me personally, it’s the equivalent of having Deepak Chopra show up in town to peddle his quantum spirituality bullshit. Speaking of which, Chopra will be in Dallas at the end of the month. I’m not trying to compare de Waal to Chopra. I just wanted to jab at Chopra mostly.
Let it be made clear, when de Waal appeared on Think, the the interview was actually very interesting. He actually is a very intelligent biologist and primatologist, and he knows his science and the comparisons that can be made between humans and our closest living relatives, the chimpanzee and bonobo, when it comes to morality.
Then he started drifting into the atheist part of his book very briefly in the middle of the interview.
[33:33 - 33:41]
I don’t agree with the neo-atheists who have been bashing religion as universally bad.
No one is bashing religion as universally bad, Frans. You’re erecting a strawman right there.
Most of today’s atheists, the so-called “neo-atheists” to use your term, would agree with you when you say in your book, “I consider dogmatism a far greater threat than religion per se.”
Dogma is the problem, but dogma and religion are almost synonymous in our time. The most dogmatic of beliefs are, 99% of the time, religious in nature. Yes, political ideologies, such as communism or fascism, can be dogmatic too. No one denies that, except maybe your strawman.
[33:41 - 33:50]
If all human societies believe in the supernatural and all human societies have some form of religion, it must be doing something for us.
Let me tackle the first half of that statement first.
No. Not every human society has religion or the supernatural. My favourite example of this is that of the Pirahã tribe in the Amazon. When confronted with Christian missionaries, they laughed at them for believing in something for which they could not see or prove and trying to make them believe in it too. They had no gods, no religion, and no superstitions, and they were perfectly happy and moral.
Now onto the latter half of that sentence. “…it must be doing something for us.”
According to a piece in the Pacific Standard, “It’s clear that religious faith confers a variety of benefits. Being part of a community of fellow believers has been shown to boost both mental and physical health.”
That same article goes on to say, “Thoughts of faith and God apparently spur people to view the world in black-or-white terms. A just-published study finds exposure to Christian concepts or imagery increases one’s intolerance for ambiguity.”
That’s something religion does: gives us an intolerance of gray areas and ambiguity, and as we have seen in the past, thinking in black and whites can be dangerous.
Not only does religion do that for us, but it also gave us the Crusades (my favourite of them being the Children’s Crusade), Holocaust, Witch Hunts, Inquisition, justification for American slavery, justification for oppression of women, justification for oppression of the LGBT community, 9/11, 7/7, Darfur, parents refusing their children medical care because their beliefs prohibit it and instead letting them die as they prayed over them, children refusing medical care for themselves and letting themselves die because their parents forced those same beliefs onto them, and much much more. I could go on, but I hope my point has been made.
Religion gives us (false) comfort and hope when we are weak. Religion gives us (false) answers when we refuse to figure it out or simply want answers now. Religion gives us wars, genocides, infanticide, homophobia, sexism, and hope of a better tomorrow if we ignore the present. That’s what religions does for us.
For the rest of the interview, he never mentions other atheists. Which is good. I’m glad he didn’t take this time to bash atheists and instead stuck to the science and origin of morality.
Then this happened in the last two minutes of the show when Krys Boyd, the show’s host, asked him a particularly weird question.
[46:49 - 46:55]
Do you find that there are other atheists that are bothered by your openness to the existence of religion in the world?
No atheist is bothered by de Waal’s “openness to the existence of religion.” No atheist is bothered by the existence of religion in the way you think they are. Religion and mythology are fascinating really, and the study of religion is a hobby of mine. David G. McAfee got his degree in Religious Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
We’re not offended by religion. We’re offended, if that is the appropriate word, by what we see done in the name of religion: Holocaust, Crusades, oppression of women and gays, infanticide, martyrdom, retardation of societal and scientific progress, etc. etc. Everyone should be offended by that, religious or not.
We might be bothered if de Waal makes excuses for those atrocities committed by the religious in the name of religion, especially since he is a scientist. He does seem to do that in his book.
He says at one point in the book:
The connection between science and religion has always been complex, including both conflict, mutual respect, and the church’s patronage of the sciences. The first copiers of books on which science came to rely were rabbis and monks, and the first universities grew out of cathedral and monastic schools. The papacy actively promoted the establishment and proliferation of universities. At one of the first ones, in Paris, students cut their hair in tonsure to show allegiance to the church, and the oldest document in the archives of Oxford University is its Award of the Papal Legate of 1214. Given this intertwinement, most historians stress dialogue or even integration between science and religion.
He’s either ignorant of history or purposely appeasing the religious by making it seem like religion and science can get along.
Nonetheless, let’s look at de Waal’s response to this question (emphasis mine).
[46:58 - 47:26]
The book has gotten more criticism from atheists than from believers, even though I come down on the side saying morality is not produced by religion. It’s the neo-atheists that are very upset, because I ask them to stop shouting and to calm down a little, because I believe that the question of why we are on Earth and what to do with our life and why would we want to be moral, those are important questions that are not answered by saying that God exists or doesn’t exist.
If you want to know why we’re shouting, why we can’t be calm, why we’re angry, look at the world, de Waal. You refusing to see the harms that religion causes does not make them go away. You refusing to see them and to do anything about them does not make us these belligerent, intolerant people that you paint us as.
What de Waal is doing with his book is giving ammo to the religious who think atheists are all close-minded, hateful people who want to destroy religion and persecute the religious. He, an atheist, is feeding the stereotypes of atheists. But I guess he’s an atheist, and we’re the “neo-atheists,” who are so dogmatic in our non-belief in a god. We’re “sleeping furiously.”
With the ouster of Steven Miller, the now former commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), by President Obama due to the recently uncovered scandal where the IRS was specifically targeting and applying extra scrutiny to conservative and ultra-nationalist groups, such as the Tea Party, when they applied for a tax-exempt status, it’s important to focus on who this “new leadership” that President Obama called for in a statement delivered from the White House’s East Room.
Being the optimist and idealist that I am, I would hope that President Obama would find someone to lead the IRS that will finally go after churches that purposely break their tax-exempt status by endorsing or opposing candidates for public office. Just in case people didn’t know, that’s illegal.
Knowing Washington politics the way I do though, the new commissioner will probably be someone within the Democratic Party or average bureaucrat already within the IRS that no one knows about – I didn’t know the name Steven Miller before this whole thing happened – or has never ever paid any attention to who will continue to do nothing about this clear violation of the law, because appeasing the religious is more important to this administration and every administration before it than the law.
If churches want to play the game of politics, then they have to pay like everyone else. If the Secular Student Alliance, Center for Inquiry, American Atheists, or other secular and atheist organisations wanted to endorse a candidate, I’m sure the IRS would have no problem in taking away their tax-exempt status.
That’s the thing. Christianity is given greater status under the law, not equal status, as the laws says it should have. Christianity is given a pass or excuses are made when it breaks the law or when a Christian does something wrong, but when atheists commit the same crimes or it is said that atrocities were committed “in the name of atheism,” then that’s proof that atheism is a terrible “ideology” and atheists are terrible people.
President Obama: make sure the “new leadership” is someone who will follow the law and not allow for the inequality that has been rampant throughout the American tax code by allowing certain organisations to break the law. I don’t think I need to mention it, but churches should also be taxed.
Truth in Action Ministries tries to cover up lies of high school athlete disqualified for ‘act of faith’
An update to a story that I reported on a few days ago.
A few weeks back, Derrick Hayes, a Texas high school track member, was allegedly disqualified from a relay race, along with his entire team, for raising his arm to the sky, supposedly pointing towards and thanking God, as he was crossing the finish line and winning the race with a new record for UIL track competitions.
The Christian right took this as further proof of anti-Christian discrimination in the American public school system. Governor Rick Perry himself demanded an investigation into the incident. One of the organisations that jumped on this was Truth in Action Ministries, whose spokesman, Jerry Newcombe, wrote a column detailing the event.
The only problem was that, according to Right Wing Watch, “the week before [Newcombe] published his column, the athlete admitted that he made the story up.”
So what was TAM’s response to this? Was it to admit that they made a mistake and correct the article? Of course not! That would require honesty and integrity.
Newcombe instead rewrote the article, completely taking out any reference to the event, and replaced it with a column about the Kountze Independent School District and the cheerleaders there who sued the school district to allow them to put Bible verses on the banners that their high school football team runs through before games.
Fortunately, more so unfortunately for Truth in Action Ministries, RWW obtained screencaps of the original article, which is available here.
As I stated in my original blog post about this, even if Hayes had been disqualified for his alleged “act of faith,” which he was not he was disqualified for his behaviour towards a referee, the disqualification was viewpoint neutral, as Hayes’ actions fell under “excessive celebration.”
Now, I personally don’t think that this rule should be there at all, but it is, and students should comply with it until it is removed or revised, regardless of their religion or what their choice of “excessive celebration” is. Christians do not get a special pass to break the rules just because they’re Christian.
Letting them break the rules, because they’re Christian and feel entitled to greater status and not equal status is why we have principles and teachers allowing students to skip class in order to pray.
I just posted about the gang rape of an Australian woman who was then imprisoned by the United Arab Emirates…for being raped. That is a horrible injustice and a disgusting story.
This next story is disgusting and terrible, but still not as disgusting as the aforementioned rape story.
Matthew Barber, who’ve I’ve talked about before and his hatred for gays and science, seems to have a recurring theme of tweeting out some of the most homophobic things you could possibly find, such as comparing NBA player Jason Collins’ coming out as gay to that of someone who has incestuous relationships coming out in a major league sport.
Barber is a lawyer from the Liberty Counsel, which is a right wing public interest law firm and ministry that’s purpose is to advance “religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the [traditional] family,” so it’s of no real surprise when he does this stuff.
As Right Wing Watch put it, Matthew Barber is “one of the most nasty and mean-spirited figures of the Religious Right.” I’m sure he would take that as a compliment though.
Just yesterday, he tweeted out a political cartoon of a young Boy Scout being lured into having sex with an effeminate looking Scout leader.
He’s obviously implying that if the Boy Scouts were to change their policy and allow in gay Scout leaders, the Scout leaders will use their position to sexually abuse and exploit the children under their supervision.
Here’s a nice database by the LA Times of 1,200 cases of sexual abuse already happening in the Boy Scouts of America, most of which the BSA tried to cover up. They’re essentially the Catholic church now.
If they didn’t want gays in their organisation, would they not publicize that these cases are happening, granting the premise that they are all indeed being committed by gay men, to get the American public behind them in keeping their ban?
Of course not, because they’re not being committed by gay men. They’re being committed by pedophiles, which have nothing in common. They have about as much in common as pedophiles have with straight men.
In case anyone was wondering if gay men actually are pedophiles or a threat to children, here’s the proof that they aren’t.
This is one of those stereotypes that is not often thrown out there. When it is, most atheists don’t know how to respond, because it is such a ridiculous proposition to us.
I personally have only heard this once, or at least something similar to this claim, when it was directed at me. Someone said of me that I wanted to become God, that I wanted all the powers and knowledge of God.
Even though this particular instances was clearly meant as an insult, that’s not entirely untrue. Who would not want to be all-knowing and all-powerful? I would much rather have Spider-Man powers (shut up, I like Spider-Man), but I guess the powers of a god will do.
I believe this kind of misconception and misunderstanding of atheists arises from the mindset amongst certain Christians that cannot fathom not believing in a god, specifically their god. It is so obvious to them that they must rationalise it when they encounter people like me who are atheists.
Sometimes those rationalisations are somewhat irrational, and they come up with the most ridiculous of propositions, such as atheists thinking that they are God or that atheists just say they don’t believe in God, because they are angry at God for something.
Alise had a slightly differing explanation, which is still a very fitting one. She said, “Sometimes this is borne out of the idea that in order to be an atheist, one must assert an absolute knowledge that there is no God. If one conveys any kind of certainty in the lack of God, they can encounter the accusation that they are somehow omniscient and/or omnipotent. Ipso facto, atheists believe that they themselves are God.”
I am not certain that there is no god. I am equally uncertain about that as I am that there are no such things as Leprechauns though (no offense meant). I do not believe that there is a god or Leprechauns, and I live my life accordingly.
One could say that I “know” in a somewhat colloquial sense of the word, but when we get into epistemological philosophy, I revert to solipsism. The only thing that I can know with 100% certainty is that I exist. Outside of that though, I am not 100% certain of anything.
It really is a difficult misconception to respond to. We really do not see it that often, because most people are smart enough to get the basic gist of what an atheist is, even if they may still have some certain misconceptions about them.
Often when Christians make this claim, I hear them joking, or at least I think they are joking, about atheists believing in a “higher power” and how that higher power is themselves. That is actually a somewhat accurate depiction of LaVeyan Satanism, even if unintentional, and as we have already seen atheists and Satanists are often confused or seen as synonymous by certain people, so this might just be a legitimate misunderstanding.
I’m not an expert on LaVeyan Satanism, but as far as I’m aware they believe in and worship themselves. This is not to say that they think of themselves as gods, but their beliefs are very centric to the individual and about experiencing life and pleasure. In a sense, they “worship” themselves.
Simply put: I do not believe or think that I am a god, let alone the god of the Bible. I do not believe or claim to be omniscient or omnipotent, and I don’t know that there isn’t a god (at least, in the epistemological sense; we can argue colloquialisms later). I’m just a human being. Just one human being out of seven billion on this planet.
I don’t think I’m a very special or important human being at that. Sure, everyone is narcissistic to a certain extent, but I’m not to the point where I believe that I am God.
Nonetheless, anyone who were to make this claim about atheists is admitting that they simply don’t understand atheists or what atheism truly is, whether that be on purpose or not. It does not help our discussions and hinders our ability to have rational discourse when the Christian will throw out these baseless claims for no apparent reason whatsoever other than to insult atheists.
As always, be sure to read Alise’s wonderful post on the subject.
Next week’s Christian Guide to Atheists: Atheists refuse to accept that they sin.
This is probably one of the most disgusting stories I have ever read. Ever. Please, forgive me if I all of a sudden break out into a caps lock rage. I will try to remain as calm as possible though.
Back in 2008, Alicia Gali, a woman from Queensland, Australia, was working at a hotel in the United Arab Emirates. While at the hotel bar having a drink, she was drugged by her coworkers, who then proceeded to rape her. When Gali woke up the next day, she had severe bruising all over her body and four broken ribs.
That’s not the worst part of the story. I know. What really can be worse than being violently raped by multiple men after being drugged by them?
When she went to the police to report her gang-rape, they took this as a confession that she had taken part in premarital sex and had had alcohol, both of which are crimes in the UAE. She was sentenced to a year in prison for her “crimes.”
She was eventually pardoned in 2009 after serving eight months of the sentence. Oh, I’m so happy there’s a silver lining to this disgusting and awful story.
For the past few years, she has been dealing with the horrors of what happened to her. She has been diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder, is unable to work, and has to borrow money from family and friends to pay for her counseling.
Thought this was an isolated incident? Think again!
There are many more cases that can be pointed to of woman being jailed, lashed, and/or even executed for being raped. The vast majority of these cases, if not literally all of them, happen in the Middle East or in other predominantly Muslim countries.
I simply cannot fucking express how fucking angry this fucking story fucking makes me. I cannot. Caps lock would not do it justice. No amount of caps lock, anger, or swearing can do it justice. No amount of anger can ever do Alicia Gali or other women throughout the Muslim world justice.
Fuck. This. Shit.
Fuck misogyny. Fuck sexism. Fuck rapists. Fuck Shariah Law. Fuck Muslims, more so fuck all people, who think women should be imprisoned, tortured, and killed for being raped. Fuck them.
I wish I had more to say and in more an articulate way, but that’s all that needs to be said, and this seems like the most appropriate way to say it: Fuck them.
For those who don’t know, I’m engaged (kind of) to Shayrah Akers. She’s the most brilliant and wonderful person on this planet. She also is the parent of a nine-year-old girl. Her name is Kylie.
I consider Kylie to be my stepdaughter, even though I’m not married to Shayrah (and probably won’t be until I at least get out of college), and Kylie considers me to be her stepfather. Kylie will openly refer to me as such when talking to others, and I do the same.
Kylie is a kick ass kid. Honestly. I know many parents say that about their kids (well, maybe not the way I just put it, but whatever), but Kylie is completely different from any child I have ever met.
I hate children. I think they are some of the most annoying, and not to mention expensive, things on this planet. Kylie is different.
Kylie is very brilliant when it comes to many things. She was home schooled by the most brilliant and wonderful person on this planet, so that makes sense.
Anyway. Kylie was apparently over at a friend’s house today, and they were playing on a trampoline. You can probably see where this is going.
I don’t know what exactly happened, as I wasn’t there to see it, but she apparently was doing a kart-wheel on the trampoline and either fell on her arm weirdly or bent it in a weird way. I don’t know exactly.
Point is, Kylie hurt her arm pretty badly.
Shayrah called me to tell me this, and we both soon rushed over to Kylie’s aunt’s place (as Kylie currently lives with Shayrah’s sister, which is a whole other story I won’t go into) and were ready to take her to the nearest emergency room just in case it was as bad as it sounded.
I could go into how we don’t have insurance for Kylie and how terrible the healthcare system in America is for not providing that to its citizens. I thought about writing about that, but I’m not going to.
I will say though that while we were considering taking Kylie to the emergency room, we found out that just admitting her and taking one X-ray would cost around $250. To actually have some of the most minimalist insurance would be about that every month. That is money that Shayrah and I just don’t have.
Anyway. The entire drive over there, I kept asking myself questions in my head. Is she okay? What’s wrong with her? How badly hurt is she? Did she break her arm? Did she fracture something? Is a bone sticking out?
I can’t speak for Shayrah and her thoughts, but my mind was racing with all of these questions and possible worst case scenarios the entire drive there. I was sort of freaking out a bit over this.
When Shayrah and I finally got there, we both ran into the house. What did we find? Her sitting there on the couch watching Phineas and Ferb, her arm in a sling.
She was obviously upset and still in some pain. I could also see that her eyes were a little red. Shayrah told me when she called me that Kylie had been crying, which was an immediate sign that something was really wrong. Kylie does not cry when she is hurt unless it is really bad. She just does not.
Shayrah inspected her arm after taking it out of the sling and some bandages that her elbow was wrapped up in. The bandages were obviously done by someone who did not know what they were doing, as her arm was put into an awkward angle that does not help when someone has an injured arm.
We were told by Shayrah’s sister that Kylie’s friends had put the bandages on and given Kylie the sling after it happened. We also found out that Kylie had a secondary falling. She had apparently tripped over the child barrier that Shayrah’s sister uses for their eight-month-old and had fallen on her arm, as she was unable to stop her fall while in the sling.
It seems that the kind intentions of her friends had caused her more harm.
After further inspection, we found that no bones had been broken. No fractures or anything of the sort. We came to the conclusion eventually that Kylie did indeed hurt herself badly (twice) and that she may have some bruising but that she was going to be fine.
To cheer Kylie up, while I was going out to get an icing/heating pack at the pharmacy, I bought her some of her favourite kind of ice cream. Apparently she likes cookie dough ice cream.
After staying over there for a few hours, Kylie seemed very much cheered up and her arm already seemed to be improving. She could bend her arm normally, even though that came with some minor pains, and she even pointed at something that was on her uncle’s shirt when he walked in the room with her hurt arm.
Kylie is currently on the mend. She won’t be doing PE anytime soon at school, but she appears to be fine. Also, Kylie lost her first molar while she was eating the ice cream, which was an interesting experience for her.
Tonight really scared me, even if it was just a false alarm. I may not be Kylie’s father. I didn’t raise Kylie from when she was a newborn. I’ve only known her for about two years, but she is my daughter, albeit stepdaughter, and I love and care about her very much. I want to raise her well so that she may grow up to be an even more awesome person than she already is.
Hopefully there will be more scares like this in my future as her stepdad. Hopefully not too many though.