MAKE ’em fly it

A lot of people are calling for South Carolina and other southern states to quit flying the Confederate flag outside of government buildings. I’m not. I say make ’em fly it.

Make ’em fly it until they redraw their voting districts so that black votes have as much weight as white votes.

Make ’em fly it until black applicants are as likely to be hired as white, for jobs that white applicants want.

Make ’em fly it until the police are no more likely to stop and frisk a person of color than to do the same to a white person.

Make ’em fly it until schools with mostly black students are as well-funded as schools with mostly white students.

Make ’em fly it until they end the practice of railroading young black men into prisons under the pretext of a so-called “war on drugs,” release everyone unjustly imprisoned by this sham, and expunge their records so they can vote and hold decent jobs and live normal lives.

Make ’em fly it until they quit pretending not to be racists, and actually produce substantial, substantive improvements in civil rights and racial equality.

It’s a shameful, ugly, disgusting symbol for a host of shameful, ugly injustices. Fix the injustices, and then we can talk about removing the shameful symbols.

Caitlyn Jenner vs Tim Tebow

The “soldiers are brave” meme, as an attack on Caitlyn Jenner, pretty much flopped, so conservative evangelicals have come up with a new meme to spread the word about what a poor, persecuted majority they are.

The people applauding Bruce [sic] Jenner for “being himself” [sic] are the same people who condemned Tim Tebow and told him to “keep his beliefs to himself”. That’s what is wrong with America.

[Read more…]

The opposite of separation

If you want a cautionary tale of why it’s important to maintain a separation of church and state, look no farther than the Republican party today. Once they were liberal (no, really, they started out as liberals), and for a very long time they were secular. But then they decided, as a political move, to abandon separation of church and state, and embrace its opposite. I’m not entirely sure what the opposite of “separation” is—the phrase “incest of church and state” comes to mind—but they embraced it. And now look at them: paralyzed by internal divisions and bickering by leaders whose vision ranges from the intransigent to the hallucinatory, always sliding deeper and deeper into an agenda that none dare call fascist, promising “security” in exchange for liberty, and delivering neither.

And they want to make America Republican. Think about that.

[Read more…]

Life After Jesus: How to live with believers

I ceased to be a believer late in the year 2000, and in many ways the decade and a half since then has been a struggle to understand how to relate to my past. Or rather, how to relate to those who still hold the same beliefs and practices I did during all those years that started with “19–.” My first approach was nastily adversarial. Jesus, or his designated representatives, had deceived me for most of my adult life, and I was pissed. I made believers uncomfortable, and I made myself uncomfortable, and to be honest I was rather relieved when that phase passed. I wasn’t happy being the angry atheist.

And yet, neither could I be comfortable with the more tolerant alternative. I find it hard to hold my tongue when I hear people say things that I know are wrong and/or hurtful. I couldn’t just go to church and keep my thoughts to myself. Suffering in silence isn’t my thing. I’ve compensated somewhat by writing blog posts, which helps, but even that tends to get repetitive and unsatisfying after a while. And I still have to live and interact with believers, some of whom are in positions of authority over me.

I feel like I’m getting closer to a livable principle, finally, and it’s based on my understanding that religion is essentially a degenerate game of make believe.

[Read more…]

Is free college the answer?

According to Salon.com, plank number one in Bernie Sanders’ presidential platform is a plan to provide free college tuition at four-year public colleges and universities, funded by a tax on Wall Street stock transactions. I think overall that this would be a great thing, a great investment in America’s future, and an entirely appropriate use of government funds. That said, however, I have some reservations about whether this would really do as much good as we might hope.

[Read more…]

Calling it what it is

It bugs me when I hear the right-wing propaganda engine refer to the wealthy as “job creators,” as though our economic well-being depended on appeasing them and encouraging them and generally admiring them. I think that whenever you pay your employees less-than-poverty-level wages, you deserve to be known for what you are: a poverty creator. You’re creating poverty, and thus, you’re creating a burden on society. It is you, and not the people you are impoverishing, who are the true parasite. Noble titles, like “job creator,” should be reserved for those who actually benefit society, and don’t just enrich themselves at society’s expense.

The coming Gaypocalypse

Ed Brayton has been documenting the rising hysteria and apocalyptic paranoia of the Christian right in connection with the Supreme Courts upcoming ruling on gay marriage. If the Court legalizes same-sex marriage, they warn, we can expect wars! and diseases! and the end of families! and of law! and of civilization! and so on and so on, with lots of extra exclamation points.

I have some sympathy for believers. I think legalizing gay marriage will be just as devastating for Christianity as these groups are predicting. Not because any of their predictions will come true, but because they won’t.

[Read more…]

A reminder to believers

Since the Supreme Court is currently hearing arguments regarding gay marriage, I thought it would be a good time to remind believers of a very important moral principle that’s relevant to this particular case. That principle is as follows:

You always have the option of not doing harm to those who have done no harm.

That’s it. That’s all that gay rights advocates are asking for. Just don’t do harm to gays and gay couples, who have done no harm to you or to anyone else. Don’t slander them or discriminate against them or attack them physically or interfere in their personal relationships or do anything to them that you would not want done to yourself. Every major religious or moral system in the world gives you that option. It is allowed, and morally acceptable, to refrain from doing harm to those who have done no harm.

[Read more…]

Gender in Genesis

[Edit: The original post used the term “hermaphrodite” in two places, which I have since learned is considered a slur. My apologies.] Via Pharyngula comes word of a couple articles by Ken Ham on the subject of the sanctity of binary gender. The first complains about schools that are trying to teach kids not to let gender stereotypes limit their thinking and their understanding of one another.

Really, what this handout is encouraging teachers to do is to destroy any distinction between male and female. This is a natural outcome of a culture that has rejected the Bible as its foundation for thinking in every area…

This type of thinking has serious consequences. If man is the ultimate authority, then why not just discard gender?

There’s lots of ways we could determine the right answers to questions about gender. We could turn to ethics, and see which attitudes and behaviors do the most good and least harm, for instance. Or we could look at gender scientifically, and see what biology is actually telling us about sexuality and human development. That should be right up Ham’s alley, since he considers God to be the author of biology. Learning from biology ought to be just another way of studying what God has revealed through his creation (to put it in creationist terms).

But no, Ham isn’t interested in answers based on what’s good or on what’s true. He wants answers based on Authority! If the answer to “Why?” ain’t, “Because I said so!”, it ain’t the answer he’s looking for. The phrase he’s looking for is, “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it.” But can he really say that?

[Read more…]