left biblioblography: June 2013

Saturday, June 29, 2013

More Good News….Ban On Gay Marriages Has Been Lifted.

Cross posted @ the Atheist Oasis
GayMarriageEvolutionCalifornia. Often likened to a bowl of cereal – it’s full of fruits, flakes and nuts.

It’s no real surprise (despite the best efforts of a bunch of Utah Mormon assholes) that the ban against gay marriages has been lifted. As well it should’ve been, decades ago.

Often, the question on the non-atheist’s lips is…if you’re not gay, why do you care?

Because it is an essential question. Why? Because this issue cuts to the bone of religious discrimination: the only ‘plausible’ arguments are religious in nature and tone. If one subtracts the option of supernatural divinity from the equation, it becomes a house of cards, collapsing before the light breeze of simple logic.

There are of course, some bozos who are trying to fight it, but the chances are good that their imaginary sky daddy isn’t going to step up, to the plate or to the altar, to help or head this off. Divine intervention is a comic book fantasy, and an unhealthy one at that.

Tip of the glass, tip of the hat, be merry. Salud!

Till the next post, then.


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Defending The Delusion: Or How Journalists Pander To The Sheeple…

Cross posted @ the Atheist Oasis

Separation1.003It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing. — Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 5)

Puff pieces. Nauseating things. They’re usually filler, pandering to the great unwashed, designed to tug a tear from the brainless. And this article is illustrative of that:

In defence of prayer

Whenever the US Congress and Senate are officially in session, the daily activities commence with someone saying a prayer. The same ritual occurs in many state and local governments throughout America: a prayer, the pledge of allegiance to the flag and then the business of the day.

To get a feel for what these prayers are like, consider this one that opened the US House of Representatives session on Friday:

"God our Father, we give You thanks for giving us another day. Bless the Members of the people's House as they gather at the end of another week in the Capitol. Endow each with the graces needed to attend to the issues of the day with wisdom, that the results of their efforts might benefit the citizens of our Nation and the world.

"On this Flag Day, may we be reminded of the greatness of the democratic experiment that is the Republic of the United States and diligent in our responsibilities as citizens to guarantee the freedoms enumerated in the Constitution for all who claim this country as their home.

"We also ask Your blessing leading into this weekend upon fathers throughout our country. May they be their best selves, and may their children appreciate fully the blessing their fathers have been to them. May all that is done this day be for Your greater honor and glory. Amen."

This was said by the House's resident chaplain, a Roman Catholic priest. He gives many of the prayers, although "guest chaplains" from other faith backgrounds are also invited throughout the year.

This is a clear violation of SOCAS. But this author goes on a tangent:

In an increasingly diverse nation, people are rightly asking if these prayers still have a place. The simplistic answer is to demand complete separation of church and state and advocate for the end of these prayers. But they are a tradition that has been in place since the initial meeting of the Continental Congress in 1774 (and even earlier in some state sessions).

No, it’s not ‘simplistic’ to demand that separation. An argument from tradition would also state that the Founding Fathers had slaves – so we should re-institute that atrocity.

It's the reason the US supreme court decided in 1983 (Marsh v Chambers) that these prayers are legal – but on one very big condition: the prayer opportunity cannot be "exploited to proselytize or advance any one, or to disparage any other, faith or belief".

What exactly constitutes proselytizing is hard to pin down and means something very different to each person.

What a load of shit. The word proselytize means, "1: to induce someone to convert to one's faith. 2: to recruit someone to join one's party, institution, or cause, and transitive verb: to recruit or convert especially to a new faith, institution, or cause”. The meaning is unambiguous, and not contingent on interpretation.

The supreme court is again hearing a case about crossing that line, this time from in a town in western New York where the claim is that the prayers have been far too Christian over the years and efforts have not been made to invite non-Christians to participate.

  And the best way to deal, is to eliminate the superstitious fluff.

The issue goes to the heart of the first amendment of the constitution that grants religious freedom:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

Wrong again. The issue is about expressing religion itself – and that the government should stay out of that arena.

Keep in mind that these prayers are said among grown-ups (well, as much as you can call lawmakers that some days). Those who want to take a moment to pause and reflect can, those who don't can reasonably be expected to tune it out.

This is the dishonest backhand: don’t like it? Shut up about it.

Any appearance of religion in government does not mean there's a theocracy. Yes, some legislation (anti-abortion bills, in particular) in America is motivated by religious causes, but by and large, there is respect for the diverse society that we live in today. It's built into the very nature of such large deliberative bodies that are responsive at the ballot box to a multicultural voter base. If someone really crosses the line, they will be called out and voted out.

Oh please. It must be soothing to be so na├»ve. Lawmakers cross the line so often, it’s been smudged out of existence. George W. claimed ‘gawd told him to invade Iraq’ (which was ploy to get him re-elected). There’s too many of these sort of examples to list in a single post.

It's true that the US has a growing atheist (or simply agnostic) population, though it is still less than 20% of the population. The overwhelming majority of Americans practice and identify with some religious tradition. It forms a part of many people's personal morality and their sense of being. That doesn't mean every decision comes from the Bible or the Qur'an or the Torah or the Vedas. But it does mean that people see their belief system as a spiritual guidance.

An argument from numbers? Pathetic.

That's why the prayers should stay in place, albeit in a more explicitly diverse way. These daily prayers can showcase how pluralistic America is, and they can still offer some inspiration for those for whom faith is an integral part of life.

No they shouldn’t – because they’re symptomatic of a more primitive, more superstitious tradition that we should’ve outgrown centuries ago.

There is nothing to hide with the prayers. They become part of the official record. At the federal and state levels, they are easily searchable online. What stands out to me after browsing through them for this year alone, including at the federal level, is a need for more diversity. Many governments are good at inviting clergy from different Christian traditions, but not at inviting other religions to take part. For example, in my home state of Pennsylvania, the state house hasn't had anyone other than a Christian give the prayer, according to the records released thus far for 2013.

Oh no, we can’t do something as simple as discontinue this…no, no, no, too many people’s petite toes might be stepped upon. Instead, let’s complexify everything even further by allowing every crazy delusionist a shot at being heard.

When I called the offices that coordinate the prayers in Pennsylvania, it was clear that they weren't trying to exclude anyone, they simply select people to give the prayers based on the nominations they receive from fellow lawmakers (and sometimes the politicians themselves will offer the daily prayer). There probably needs to be a greater effort to recruit people from other faiths. And yes, that should include having some atheists, as well.

Pander, pander, pander. It’s nauseating, it is. It’d be simpler (but not simplistic) to simply do without the nonsense altogether.

Controversies are inevitable. Recently in Arizona, an atheist politician used his prayer slot to offer some thoughts that one of his fellow lawmakers took issue with. Having so many faith traditions exist side by side has brought plenty of friction over the years in American society. It's never going to be perfect, and there are likely to be more court cases about public prayers, regardless of the outcome of the current one.

And yet still the obvious solution is avoided assiduously.

That is part of the grand experiment of America. But so is the ability to practice religion. Simply striking it entirely from our legislatures doesn't honor the many faith traditions who have come to this nation seeking religious freedom.

Wrong – striking it from the legislatures saves a whole lot of tax money, and that means a fatter wallet for us the citizenry. Wouldn’t you agree?

Because it really boils down to ‘my dad can kick your daddy’s ass’, only in this case, the fathers are not only not present, but never existed in the first place.

Till the next post, then.


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Republicans Gone Stupid: Yet Another Pseudo-Scientific Claim

Cross posted @ the Atheist Oasis
trentfranksassholeReally, just when you thought these jackasses couldn’t come up with anything stupider:

Trent Franks's Abortion Ban Now Has a Rape Exception

On Wednesday, Representative Trent Franks argued that the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban abortion after twenty weeks, did not need Democrat-proposed exceptions for rape or incest because, "The incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low." The Republican-led House Judiciary Committee agreed enough to approve the bill, but the Arizona Republican's comments (which either were or were not worse than Todd Akin's legendary abortion gaffe) drew some unwanted media attention to the legislation. In what appears to be an attempt to limit the fallout, the House Rules Committee's GOP leadership has quietly amended the bill to include previously dismissed rape and incest exceptions, though women hoping to make use of them would be required to report the crimes to the police before getting the abortion.

Also, a female abortion opponent, Tennessee Republican Marsha Blackburn, will now oversee the debate of the bill (which Franks sponsored) when the entire House takes it up next week. Unsurprisingly, the changes were not enough to win the hearts and minds of the pro-choice crowd. Planned Parenthood Eric Ferrero called the last-minute rape and incest provision, "A cynical political attempt by House leadership to cover up the deeply ignorant and offensive views on women’s health expressed by the bill’s sponsor." Putting Blackburn's female face in front is similarly unlikely to fool anyone.

Man, I am so sick of these assholes. Always legislating the reproductive health of women, and trotting out facile stupidities when challenged. What is it about this party that attracts the mentally deficient?

Furthermore, I could give a rat’s fart in a hurricane what gender, religion, or pseudo-philosophy an anti-abortion (aka ‘pro-life’) nitwit is – wrong is not contingent on any factor except being wrong.

The fact is, that while these idiots are putting on a dog-and-pony show about their alleged morality, and that pointy-hatted moron in Italy is dictating prophylactic policy, our planet is getting dangerously over-overpopulated, and the witless masses out there just keep pumping out more mouths to feed that drain our resources.

I predict that outcome will end in more than just tears.

Till the next post, then.


Saturday, June 01, 2013

More On The Madness Of Muslims: Street Patrols In London

Cross posted @ The Atheist Oasis
Actually, this is exactly on point:sharia-law-explained

Extremist ‘Muslim Patrol’ attempting to enforce Sharia law in East London is condemned by England’s imams

The Muslim Patrol has verbally harassed gays, calling them“dirty” and demanding that they leave the neighborhood quickly.

A small group of Muslim extremists are patrolling the streets of East London, publicly targeting gays, drinkers and women who aren’t dressed modestly, in an attempt to enforce Sharia law.

The self-styled “Muslim Patrol” group has posted videos of at least three verbal attacks on YouTube. Out of the handful who participate in the attacks, at least five have been arrested on suspicion of harassment, according to CNN. The group’s alleged purpose is to defend Islamic morals, but numerous local and national Muslim leaders have denounced their dubious methods.

The vigilantes start their patrolling late at night and make sure that their faces don’t appear on camera. The attacks were based in the Tower Hamlets area in London, some happening right outside the East London Mosque.

In a video, the Muslim Patrol tells a woman wearing a short skirt that she “cannot dress like that in a Muslim area.” In another incident, they harass a young man, saying that he looks like a homosexual.

“What’s wrong with your face, mate? Why you dressed like that for? You need to get out of here. You’re dirty, mate,” an anonymous attacker said on a video obtained by CNN.

The patrol also accosted a man who holds a beer can while walking through the streets. An anonymous voice stops him and says, “This is a Muslim area, okay? Alcohol bad.”

Members of the group claim that these vices are contributing to the moral degradation of their neighborhoods.

“Alcohol is causing so much problems in the area, in fact it’s blighting the area. It causes crime, it causes people misbehaving and drunken disorderly behavior,” said Abdul Muhid, whom CNN identified as being a part of the Muslim Patrol.

But leaders at the East London Mosque have said that their imams have condemned the verbal attacks.

In a statement, the mosque’s leaders said that “These actions are utterly unacceptable and clearly designed to stoke tensions and sow discord ... The actions of this tiny minority have no  place in our faith nor on our streets.”

That’s complete crap. This sort of behavior is not only considered acceptable, is applauded regularly in the Middle East. In fact, it could be considered the epitome of Sharia law. Groups of self-appointed ‘defenders of the faith’ running around making sure local folks are behaving themselves properly is the very foundation of the Big 3 of monotheism. Because of course religion(s) teach us we can’t trust ourselves with anything, so we need Big Daddy In The Sky to mildly scold us (all the while we’re supposed to adore this invisible babysitter), so naturally, we need gangs of crazy people running around making sure we behave.

Does that make sense to any of you? Because it sounds as crazy as a shithouse rat to me.

I’ve said it before, but I’ll repeat myself: religion is for narcissists with low self-esteem.

Till the next post then.