Video Games as Art

Poor Roger Ebert has created some sort of Internet Firestorm by claiming that Video Games aren’t art.  Everyone is pissed off at him, which is really quite silly.  But it’s interesting.  PZ Myers posted in agreement with Ebert, and now there’s extreme craziness over there as well.  Seriously, 3000 Comments at Ebert’s page and over 500 at Pharyngula.

It all seems a bit ridiculous to me because obviously art is a subjective experience.  One man’s art is another man’s urinal.  This hits home with me because I think comedy is an art form but it generally isn’t treated as one.  If it makes you cry, it’s art, if it makes you laugh, it’s just entertainment.  Video games straddle this line between entertainment and art, much like film does, and it’s why people act as though some films are art and some aren’t.  Rather than accepting that some films are just really shitty art made by committee.  As though calling something “art” automatically makes it good, worthwhile or insightful.  Have you ever been to DeviantArt?

Someone mentioned this in the comments over on Ebert’s page, but it seems like it’s the difference between a chess board and playing chess.  A chess board can be a work of art, but a game of chess is a game.  The act of playing a video game isn’t artistic, but the game itself is some combination of puzzle and art.  Although, playing a game for other people might be considered some kind of performance art…

I think the lines are a bit blurred, because storytelling is generally considered art, though it is also entertainment.  Video Games, particularly RPGs, follow specific story lines and develop characters, you can genuinely become emotionally involved with them.  This is why the people defending the video games are so defensive, to them the games have real emotional depth and feeling and Ebert and PZ are saying that that isn’t a valid reaction.

I don’t think it makes you old-fashioned not to think of video games as art anymore than it makes someone old-fashioned to think TV or bad films aren’t art.  It’s a very difficult line to draw between entertainment and art.  Is Blazing Saddles art?  Is Die Hard?  Is Eddie Izzard?

It’s a subjective question.  Some people might say that Uwe Boll is art, and I’m not sure I could disagree with them.  Now, if they claimed it was worthwhile, I’d have to laugh derisively in their face.  Personally, I think the in-depth narratives, stunning graphics, and emotional investment that a lot of video games provide do make them art.  I’d argue for Kingdom Hearts, Prince of Persia, Ocarina of Time or even Katamari Damacy — they present unique visions of the world and stories that have stuck in my mind as much as any film.

But, I think the entire discussion is best encapsulated by a comment by Brownian over at Pharyngula:

Oh, goody.

You know what this society sorely lacks? More pretentious conversations asking What Is Art? (and then answering with something along the lines of “Whatever it is, kids today aren’t doing it.”)

I look forward to Ebert’s next essay: “Why Lawns Are Important And Why The Kids Should Get The Fuck Off Mine.”

If you want to see something really boring, watch someone else playing a video game.

Complete bullshit. Boring for you maybe, but I spent a great part of my childhood and teenage years watching other people play video games, and found it to be as full of opportunities for socialisation and entertainment as many other activities.

Tuesday, April 20th

I wouldn’t say a single word to them. I would listen to what they have to say, and that’s what no one did. - Marilyn Manson

I don’t like April 20th.  All day long people are telling me to have a happy 4/20 and making jokes about pot and stoner culture.  Nothing wrong with that necessarily, but I hate that it’s on this day.  Every time someone says “4/20″ I feel pained.

It’s hard to believe that Columbine was as many as eleven years ago, on a Tuesday not terribly different than this one.  It was nearly the end of the school day when whispers started going around.  Not a lot of access to news in a high school, but people hear things.  I know they addressed it the following day, I can’t remember if there was an assembly or it was over the announcements, I do remember there were tears shed.

I was a freshman, and I’d very nearly survived my first year, only just over a month to go.  Of course, in high school time that’s eons, but there was a sense that I could make it.  High school is a horrible place and going to school was always a bit horrific.  I’d switched school districts, not made many friends, and dreaded the start of every school day.  That was, of course, about to get much, much worse.

Looking back, I’m torn between thinking the reaction to Columbine was completely absurd and totally understandable.  It hit a raw nerve.  For adults, it confirmed their fears that high schoolers were monsters and criminals; for high schoolers, it confirmed their fears that adults treated them like criminals and monsters.  It turned high school into a waking nightmare.

For the remaining month of school everything was topsy-turvy.  Parents were afraid to send their children to school, the students were afraid of the administration and each other, and the administration came down hard on anyone who seemed different.

Even I, one of the academic untouchables (people with scores the school needs for prestige/funding reasons), got called into the principal’s office for having been seen talking to someone who had worn a trenchcoat before.  I was terribly shy and hadn’t quite gotten the hang of being a smart ass in person rather than on the computer, but I was furious enough to tell them they were being ridiculous.

It would be hard to exaggerate how much high school felt like a prison.  Rumors always spreading.  Next year there would be metal detectors, see through bookbags — no bookbags.  Random locker searches, random pat downs and strip searches.  Don’t bring a birthday cake with a plastic knife or a utensil with your lunch.  Be well-behaved, be afraid and they might still punish you.  No one is safe.

They shortened lunch to just over 20 minutes, not actually enough time to get through the lines and eat.  They shortened the time between classes to 4 minutes, not enough time to pack your bag and get to the next class, much less go by your locker.  And woe upon you if you had to pee.  The hell of having your period while attending public school still gives me nightmares.  Mandatory pep rallies, the principal saying “Have a blessed day” over the announcements, nice kids getting expelled for no reason, back pain from the number of books we had to carry, you couldn’t leave if you didn’t feel well, you couldn’t leave if you needed something, you couldn’t leave to get lunch, you couldn’t give an Advil to someone else.

The people who graduated high school my year, 2002, had a unique experience — high school was bookended — Columbine our freshman year, 9/11 our senior year.  Both were collective experiences, we shared in the terror and catharsis of the rest of the country, but we were also unified in our resentment of the backlash from the administration.

I try to imagine how much different it would have been in college — where we would have been allowed to go home and watch the news instead of getting it in bits and pieces throughout the day.  How different it would have been to be too young to notice how much those two events changed the way the students were treated.  I wonder if those two events could have been less traumatic, if high school could have been less traumatic.

I don’t know.  I know that I will always hate high school, I know that I’d be incredibly reluctant to send my children into the public school system, and I know I will always try not to treat young people with contempt for the crime of being young.

And I will always owe a debt of gratitude to my chemistry teacher, Mr. Nance, who let us watch CNN instead of trying to have class the afternoon of 9/11.  It was an awful day, but it was a relief to see what was actually going on, instead of guessing which rumors were true.  We all watched, we all cried, and we all felt bad for Mr. Nance.  He couldn’t go home either.

Perhaps there’s something life-affirming about the fact that the largest celebration of 4/20 happens some 30 miles from Columbine High School, at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

Why I hate you if you voted Yes on 8

I’ll sum this up for you.  Two men, Harold and Clay, lived together for 20 years in Sonoma County, CA, they took extreme care to make sure they had legal protections in place so that they could take care of one another.  Instead, when Harold fell, the county and healthcare workers ignored all the legal paperwork and refused to let Clay see him, refused to let Clay dictate the medical treatment, they forcibly removed Clay from their home and put him in a separate nursing home from Harold, against his will, and finally they took all of their belongings from that home and auctioned them off.  Harold died alone three months later.  Clay was finally able to get an attorney to get him out of the nursing home, but his home and all of his belongings were gone.

All of this in a county in California that voted 68% against Prop 8 — this is a place with support for marriage equality that still did this to a gay couple.  People don’t understand that this isn’t just a fight for a word, this is a fight for adults wanting to be treated as adults, capable of choosing who is important to them and who has a say in their lives.  This is about incredibly basic human decency that gay people are denied.  People think, oh stuff like that doesn’t happen anymore.

Yes, it does.  And it’s inhumane and disgusting and cruel.  And when you don’t support gay marriage, what you’re saying is “I want this to happen to people.  I don’t think gay people deserve to be treated like humans, they aren’t human as far as I’m concerned.  It’s not enough for them to live their lives away from me, I want them to suffer.” Every single organization, every single politician, every single person who supports the ban on gay marriage is tacitly endorsing this abuse.

http://www.nclrights.org/site/PageServer?pagename=issue_caseDocket_Greene_v_County_of_Sonoma_et_al

Clay and his partner of 20 years, Harold, lived in California. Clay and Harold made diligent efforts to protect their legal rights, and had their legal paperwork in place—wills, powers of attorney, and medical directives, all naming each other. Harold was 88 years old and in frail medical condition, but still living at home with Clay, 77, who was in good health.

One evening, Harold fell down the front steps of their home and was taken to the hospital. Based on their medical directives alone, Clay should have been consulted in Harold’s care from the first moment. Tragically, county and health care workers instead refused to allow Clay to see Harold in the hospital. The county then ultimately went one step further by isolating the couple from each other, placing the men in separate nursing homes.

Ignoring Clay’s significant role in Harold’s life, the county continued to treat Harold like he had no family and went to court seeking the power to make financial decisions on his behalf. Outrageously, the county represented to the judge that Clay was merely Harold’s “roommate.” The court denied their efforts, but did grant the county limited access to one of Harold’s bank accounts to pay for his care.

What happened next is even more chilling: without authority, without determining the value of Clay and Harold’s possessions accumulated over the course of their 20 years together or making any effort to determine which items belonged to whom, the county took everything Harold and Clay owned and auctioned off all of their belongings. Adding further insult to grave injury, the county removed Clay from his home and confined him to a nursing home against his will. The county workers then terminated Clay and Harold’s lease and surrendered the home they had shared for many years to the landlord.

Three months after he was hospitalized, Harold died in the nursing home. Because of the county’s actions, Clay missed the final months he should have had with his partner of 20 years. Compounding this tragedy, Clay has literally nothing left of the home he had shared with Harold or the life he was living up until the day that Harold fell, because he has been unable to recover any of his property. The only memento Clay has is a photo album that Harold painstakingly put together for Clay during the last three months of his life.

With the help of a dedicated and persistent court-appointed attorney, Anne Dennis of Santa Rosa, Clay was finally released from the nursing home. Ms. Dennis, along with Stephen O’Neill and Margaret Flynn of Tarkington, O’Neill, Barrack & Chong, now represent Clay in a lawsuit against the county, the auction company, and the nursing home, with technical assistance from NCLR. A trial date has been set for July 16, 2010 in the Superior Court for the County of Sonoma.

I get e-mail; How not to talk to an atheist

This is an email I got from someone I was debating on a facebook thread. We were talking about how the Catholic church needed to stop being so secretive and punish the molesters and let local governments prosecute the crimes and he said why shouldn’t they punish the homofags and adulterers and I said the church could do whatever it wanted to its own members but that in America that behavior wasn’t illegal because the church didn’t dictate morality.  And it devolved from there.

I think evangelicals or born-agains or Christianists or Crispies or whatever you want to call them don’t really understand people who have actually thought about their beliefs rather than accepted them on blind faith.  They say things that they think are meaningful but have no meaning for someone who doesn’t have any belief whatsoever.  This is a service to them, so they understand how they come across.  I doubt they care how they come across, but maybe they do.  First, the letter in its entirety, then, with comments.

Dear Ashley,
Sorry, I thought it more appropriate now to respond with a message.

BTW, I’m an XXXX graduate. I was a XXX Fraternity and have that mark of shame branded on my ankle, though I do love many of the friends I made in the fraternity.

The judgments of the Old Testament are nothing in comparison to what the Holy Spirit has revealed will happen when Christ comes to judge the world in the book of Revelation. According to Revelation, people will beg to be stoned to escape God’s wrath. Christ also makes many references to this as well in the gospels.

So the question that this whole discussion leads to is one of belief or unbelief. Was Jesus Christ a fraud and liar? If he was a fraud then I’m a fool and I’m wasting my life. If he was who he claimed to be then I’d encourage you to read the gospels, and see how often he calls people to repentance.

Also, Christ did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill the law. The Old Testament laws you mention are only understood rightly in the context of the gospel of Christ’s resurrection. The law is there to make us aware of our sin. We are all guilty. But in Christ we are washed and made clean. Your soul and mine are tainted, and we deserve the wrath of God. But God is merciful and gracious, and has sent given us a means to be spared our just punishment. Scripture reveals that God is holy, and there is not one of us that does good (Psalm 14). The sacrifices of the Old Testament point to the sacrifice of Christ. All of the blood of goats and lambs cannot save any man’s soul, but they are markers which point to Christ, as prophesied in Isaiah. The laws of the Old Testament are harsh judgments, but again, nothing in comparison to what Scripture reveals the wrath of God is like.

We may think that the God I believe in is not like that. Again, the Old Testament is full of the history of Israel’s idolatry, worshiping false gods. Things haven’t changed much. They just take on a different form in our postmodern world.

Morality will never bring peace to this world. Notice how the more laws we make, the bloodier we become.
Feminism has its victory and we slaughter babies in their mothers womb and men more and more see women as objects of sexual pleasure.

There is no true peace outside of Jesus Christ. As a fellow artist, you may some day find that art will leave you hungry, and empty, always wanting to do more. We think that the next success will lead to our satisfaction, but it is an empty well.

I write this not to be right. I don’t care about winning arguments, and frankly, I’m pretty bad at it as you could tell.
I don’t care about conservatism and political movements. But I do care that people know the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ and pray that they will come to know the incredible and lasting joy of the Lord.

All of the world’s experiments of unity through diversity are failures…just look at a college campus. But there is true unity in Christ, since he makes his own all brothers and sisters in him. In Christ we are all made equal in what Christ does for us, not in what we do.

Blessings,
XXX

———–

And with thoughts.

Sorry, I thought it more appropriate now to respond AKA proselytize with a message.

BTW, I’m an XXXX graduate. I was a XXX Fraternity and have that mark of shame branded on my ankle, though I do love many of the friends I made in the fraternity.

K, much as I hate Greek life and think tattoos are tacky, mark of shame?  Really?  I’m already so creeped out I don’t want to read the rest.

The judgments of the Old Testament are nothing in comparison to what the Holy Spirit has revealed will happen when Christ comes to judge the world in the book of Revelation. According to Revelation, people will beg to be stoned to escape God’s wrath. Christ also makes many references to this as well in the gospels.

Read: Blah blah blah End Times blah blah.  Yeah, I read the Left Behind novels… started, and then it got too stupid.  Here’s the thing, who wants anything to do with the dickhead God who did all of those things in the OT and is going to do all those things in the future?  He may be ineffable, but a dick move is a dick move.  Trying to scare me into worshipping God isn’t going to work.

So the question that this whole discussion leads to is one of belief or unbelief. Was Jesus Christ a fraud and liar? Or did he even exist?  Did other people make up myths around a real guy?  Let’s not assume he’s the bad guy here.  If he was a fraud then I’m a fool and I’m wasting my life. True. If he was who he claimed to be or who other people later claimed him to be  then I’d encourage you to read the gospels, and see how often he calls people to repentance. I’ve read the book, I have yet to be enlightened as to why I’m supposed to believe it.  And that was an if phrase, meaning you’ve gotta prove your side before I have to do anything.

Also, Christ did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill the law. The Old Testament laws you mention are only understood rightly in the context of the gospel of Christ’s resurrection. The law is there to make us aware of our sin. We are all guilty. But in Christ we are washed and made clean. Your soul and mine are tainted, and we deserve the wrath of God. But God is merciful and gracious, and has sent given us a means to be spared our just punishment. Scripture reveals that God is holy, and there is not one of us that does good (Psalm 14). The sacrifices of the Old Testament point to the sacrifice of Christ. All of the blood of goats and lambs cannot save any man’s soul, but they are markers which point to Christ, as prophesied in Isaiah. The laws of the Old Testament are harsh judgments, but again, nothing in comparison to what Scripture reveals the wrath of God is like.

Creepy.  And underlines my point that God is a dick.  I like the christians who think God is love and hippies and stuff.

We may think that the God I believe in is not like that. Yes!  Like those hippies!  If a god commits evil acts what makes him not the devil?  Again, the Old Testament is full of the history of Israel’s idolatry, worshiping false gods. Things haven’t changed much. They just take on a different form in our postmodern world.

Yeah, difference between worshipping a false god and not worshipping.  And, had there not been so much to make me tune out already, I’d have tuned out here.  This guy seems to think Paganism and atheism/agnosticism/skepticism are the same thing.  Which is straight up uneducated.

Morality will never bring peace to this world. Notice how the more laws we make, the bloodier we become.

The hell does this even mean?  I’m seriously.

Feminism has its victory and we slaughter babies in their mothers womb and men more and more see women as objects of sexual pleasure.

Let us dismiss for a moment my stance on abortions and sex, but let’s talk feminism.  You’re really going to talk to a woman and say that men are better than women and then expect her to listen to anything you say?  You’ve got to ease into those things, lure them into religion with cookies and songs, then spring the whole “Women should be submissive and worship men” thing after they’re already in.  And religions, even Christian ones, don’t all agree on the abortion thing, there’s the whole “breath” thing or the whole 40 or 90 days thing.

There is no true peace outside of Jesus Christ. As a fellow artist, you may some day find that art will leave you hungry, and empty, always wanting to do more. We think that the next success will lead to our satisfaction, but it is an empty well.

Condescending.  Oh so condescending.  Why is it so difficult for the Jesus lovers to accept that some people can have fulfilling lives that are about living their life not trying to please some guy who’s not very good at explaining what he wants or why in an attempt to make the theoretical after life better?

I write this not to be right. Well, thank God he knows he’s wrong.  I don’t care about winning arguments, then why are you arguing? and frankly, I’m pretty bad at it as you could tell. Well, there’s a moment of bright shining honesty.

I don’t care about conservatism and political movements. Except the ones I’ve mentioned in this letter like feminism and abortion policy.  But I do care that people know the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ and pray that they will come to know the incredible and lasting joy of the Lord. Vomit.

All of the world’s experiments of unity through diversity are failures…just look at a college campus. Again, what does that mean?  And what does it have to do with anything?  And… just what?  But there is true unity in Christ, hence the complete lack of sectarianism.  I forgot that all Christians were exactly the same and had exactly the same beliefs.  since he makes his own all brothers and sisters in him. In Christ we are all made equal in what Christ does for us, not in what we do.

Blessings,
This reminds me of a vice principal i had in public school who always said “Have a blessed day.”  This really got my goat for two reasons.  A) the whole George Carline stop telling me to have a nice day and B) The unnecessary religiosity of the statement.

In other news, I’m now an ordained minister with the First Church of Atheism, meaning I can officiate weddings and stuff.

Speciesism or strange thoughts from an occasional vegetarian

There are lots of things I don’t understand in the world.  One of the primary ones is “animal people”.

For example, people who treat their animals like people rather than pets.  I mean, I get some psychological reasons that one might do that, as a replacement for children for example, but I don’t understand it.  I don’t understand people who are against meat eating or wearing fur because they think it’s wrong to kill animals.  I understand people who don’t eat meat because they’ve got problems with the meat industry, particularly how it treats humans, but that’s about humans.  I  don’t understand people who really get themselves into financial trouble over creatures that probably won’t live much longer and are in pain.

Now, I don’t mean to say that it’s OK to abuse animals.  You know, I get that Michael Vick was not cool, and he was punished, so good.  But even that is something I don’t know how to summon real moral outrage for.

There are probably two main factors in this.  One, I am allergic to everything.  Two, I grew up in the South where the dogs I met were all hunting dogs.  They were loved, and they were useful, but they weren’t typically over-sentimentalized.  When they were 11 and got cancer, no one spent thousands of dollars on prolonging their life, they just put them down.  And of course the entire point of a hunting dog is to assist in the pursuit and killing of a different animal.

I am just as prone to squee at the cute face of a puppy or kitten.  I grew up on the beach, though, so I have a closer affinity to baby sea life.  Like Baby Sea Turtles.

I don’t think people should go around squishing them or torturing them or anything.  And I’m totally for preserving animals that are going extinct.  But if sea turtles weren’t endangered, and someone wanted to eat one, I’d say “OK, you’re a freak, but go for it.”  I mean, I read Hatchet, I know you can eat turtle eggs, but they sounded pretty gross.

I don’t lack sympathy for the idea that animals shouldn’t be locked up, I mean, I tried to keep a gecko and it was always trying to get out and I couldn’t stand it, it was too sad and there was no point in keeping it trapped.  I feel the same way about dogs and cats — it’s awful to keep them locked up in tiny condos and houses and not let them out to run and play in wide open spaces.  I know a lot of pet owners are really diligent about walking their dogs and playing with them and so on, so don’t take it as a personal attack, I assume you are a great pet owner, but is keeping a dog on a leash or in an enclosed space 24/7 really more ethical than eating a free-range chicken?

And let’s not get into the crazies that think that eating unfertilized eggs and honey is wrong.  If you don’t eat honey because you think bees are mistreated in captivity, you’re whackadoodle.

But you know, live and let live, you want to spend money on your pet, go for it, if you want to not eat meat, by all means.  I can even live with you telling me that I’m a horrible person because I like hamburgers.  Because I know I get to eat hamburgers and have honey on my toast.

But then we get into thornier issues that I really struggle with and that’s the idea that animals are better than humans.  I really take issue with people who think that there shouldn’t be animal testing/research and people who spend their money on animal issues while ignoring human issues aka PETA.

Animal testing saves human lives, and I’d much rather have something tested first on an animal than first on a person.  This seems obvious to me.  But then, allowing embryonic stem cell research also seems obvious to me.  But really, how is it more OK to try something out on a person than on a rabbit?  How can someone see these things as morally equivalent?  And, even so, it’s got to be tested, if humans and rabbits are morally equivalent, why not the rabbit?

And then there’s PETA, which I have an infinite number of problems with, particularly their retarded (it’s satire!) ad campaigns.  How can you spend money that goes to that crap, when there are so many humans in the world, in this country even, whose lives are much, much worse than most animals’ lives.  I mean, even if you think humans aren’t better than animals, don’t you think they’re at least as good?  Don’t they deserve food, shelter, not to be sold into sexual slavery?  Is it better to lock a human up for the rest of his life in a prison than to lock an animal up in a zoo?  Shouldn’t you worry about saving animals of your own species?

Is it really so ridiculous to make value judgements about which animals it’s less ethical to “mistreat”?  Because when you spend your money at PETA you’re saying “I’d rather save animals than humans.  A cow, a dog, a fish, a bee, these things are better than humans.”  And hey, we’ve all got to pick and choose our causes, can’t care about everything, and I think I’m OK with caring more about humans.

So, I’ve probably made some new enemies, sorry animal people, I don’t understand you.

How I feel today

Reminds me of the first time I saw Star Wars, which was when it was re-released in theaters.  I went home and cried afterwards because I was overwhelmed with how awesome it was as a film and how tragic and awful it would be to be any of the characters.  It was that movie, and my emotional response to it that first really got me interested in film.

I don’t know that many people have found A New Hope to be a heartwrenching experience, but I really did.  I guess a lot of things are profound when you’re 13, but as much as I’ve managed to block from my teenage years, that inconsolable sadness is something I think I’ll never shake.

Blog Against Theocracy: How religion controls America

I was fortunate enough, in my myriad wanderings through this world wide web, to come across something that’s going on this Easter weekend, which is Blog Against Theocracy.

So, I’m writing an entry for it, because I’m anti-theocracy, which doesn’t necessarily mean anti-religious, but I am also anti-religious.  I am not, however, against believing in God, or being spiritual, but I have a real problem with the political power structure that envelopes most organized religions.

I feel that religions take advantage of people who are at their most vulnerable, people who are scared, lonely, facing death, grieving, or simply at a loss as to the meaning of life.  These are serious, debilitating issues that everyone faces and religion offers an easy fix for them.  “Don’t fear being alone, Jesus loves you; don’t fear death, for you will go to heaven, and so will the loved ones you’ve lost.  Also, could you please donate a tenth of your net worth so that we can proselytize to help other weak and pathetic people in need and use that money to take advantage of politicians and control the government protect your interests.”

It’s incredibly difficult to live in this country without religious support.  Nothing in the country offers anything like the instant support, acceptance, friendship and network that religion does.  Most fraternities and sororities, the boy scouts, 12 step programs, many summer camps, many schools, and the pledge of allegiance (since 1954) all demand your belief in a higher power.  I live alone in Los Angeles, I don’t have a lot of friends, I don’t have a support network.  I am incredibly vulnerable to the appeal of joining a church or synagogue.  I mean, I’m in the entertainment industry, and I’m not Jewish or a Scientologist, how am I ever going to make it?

Religions are a power structure.  They are cults, they offer you the chance to fit in with a group, to be supported by the group, so long as you toe the line.  You get pressured into supporting irrational ideas, financially and politically.  You get put on the ground to do things that no sane person would do on their own.  They are incredibly political groups that are about self-promotion, self-protection, and getting away with as much as they can.

Who, in their right mind, would go to someone’s funeral to say that that person deserved it, were they not egged on by a group of supporters?  Who would refuse their child medical care were they not part of a group that demanded it?  Who would feel obligated to murder people who had harmed no one if it weren’t for religion?  Who would attack or murder a woman seeking an abortion without even asking her why she was doing it?  Who would refuse two people legal protection of the state, if it weren’t for their small-minded, 2000 year old book?  We’re not talking about isolated incidents, we’re talking about things that happen every day, throughout the country, and all over the world.

The founders were incredibly insightful, separating Church from State, but the problem is that churches are allowed to be states of their own.  They are impenetrable, untaxable, untouchable by the state.  Do I think that churches should be run by the state, no, but I also don’t think they should be above and outside the law.  I don’t think they should be allowed to be engaged in politics and spend millions and millions of dollars to get religious legislation passed.  I don’t think they should be allowed to hide their criminals and pedophiles.  I don’t think God’s forgiveness should remove someone from legal justice.

And so I wait for the US, founded on ideals it never quite lives up to but always strives to achieve, I wait for it to look at its Constitution and realize it needs to do something to protect itself and its citizens from the constant onslaught of religious nonsense.  I wait for it to say that I am deserving of equal protection under the law, that I deserve to be protected from mob rule, that other people’s imaginary friends and ancients books of myths are not more important than science and rationality and basic humanity.