Cause to celebrate!

I surprise myself. I actually have two positive things to say about the movie, God’s Not Dead.

First, the projection was excellent. The last time I wrote about the workings of the theater, I described the amazing elaborate old-timey gadgetry to show a movie print. That’s all gone now, replaced by a modern digital movie projector. Crisp, bright, reliable.

Also, the movie itself was an elaborate exercise in projection. The academics were all portrayed as dogmatic and authoritarian and rather stupid — even the debate which was supposedly the core of this movie consisted of the Christian protagonist and atheist professor exchanging rounds of quotes from their respective corners. Dawkins says this, but Lennox says that. Hawking asserts X, but Strobel trumps it with Y. That may be how dopey Christians argue, with dueling authorities, but sorry, that’s not how philosophers discuss much of anything.

It was also implied that all of the students at this university were atheists, or apathetic enough about religion to blithely agree with the statement that God is dead, as part of the filmmakers’ martyr complex: this straw America is populated almost entirely with godless unbelievers. Here I am at a secular state university, and even here, that’s simply not true. Most of my students are religious, although probably not to the degree that the hero of the film is.

The second bit of praise, though, is for the fact that this is the most profoundly anti-Christian movie I’ve ever seen. I left the theater filled with contempt and loathing for Christians.

You know, most of us atheists are able to respect believers as human beings — I can appreciate that they’re just as intelligent, just as capable of living a productive life as I am, but that they’re simply burdened with years of indoctrination. Not this movie. In the hands of whoever wrote this drivel, Christians are dumbasses. It has to set up a whole universe made of straw. All the atheists are callous, cruel, vindictive people, while the Christians are pious and sincere. A first year college student is knowledgeable enough to out-argue a philosophy professor…and every argument he makes is well-worn idiocy dredged from the bowels of people like William Lane Craig, Lee Strobel, and C.S. Lewis, larded with bad quotes from Hawking or Dawkins, or good science mangled and distorted. It was little more than a Big Daddy style fantasy in which a Christian student can regurgitate tired, facile nonsense and send the godless professor reeling back in confusion and anger.

Really, the arguments for Jesus are: 1) the universe had a beginning, 2) life had a beginning, 3) there had to be a god to start things, and 4) how can you be moral without Jesus telling you what to do? And every time the professor would try to put the kid in his place by telling him that some other Big Name said otherwise, and how dare the credential-less punk disagree with them? It was appalling. I shall look forward to the young students who optimistically believe they will be able to crush the atheists with their brilliant strategies lifted from God’s Not Dead. This movie is setting up a lot of Christians with feeble assertions that will be so trivial to destroy — I fear my opponents have just been made stupider.

I would just like to thank Hunter Dennis, Chuck Konzelman, and Cary Solomon (the writers) for sabotaging the brains of another generation of proselytizers. You make it so easy for us.

But all that vapid noise was just the white bread foundation for the awesome mountain of fecal matter that would top this shit sandwich. I am going to tell you about the ending. You shouldn’t care — you don’t need a spoiler alert for a movie that is rotten from the first few minutes. This was the part that had me gawping in disbelief; it was the fate of the atheist professor that had me convinced that Christianity is actively evil.

He is crossing a street when he’s hit by a car and killed.

Not right away, though. He’s hit right in front of a car containing two missionaries, who get out and run to his ‘assistance’. Somehow, they are sufficiently knowledgeable about medicine to be able to tell that he’s going to die, and only has a few minutes left to live. So, with smiles on their faces, they tell him he’s going to be facing God in heaven in a few minutes, and that he must accept Jesus into his heart. It was my nightmare, that the last, brief, passing moment of life is spent with smug stupid assholes quoting Bible verses and pressuring the dying to affirm their superstitions, which is obviously the most important thing he could do.

See, projection. I just wish whoever made this film could imagine lying on their deathbed, when an atheist barges in and starts yelling that they are about to cease to exist, and there will be nothing forever, and slaps them a few times ordering them to reject God right now. That’s not going to happen, but of course all they can do is project their authoritarian proselytizing impulse on other. And of course, since this is the Christian straw universe, our atheist professor accepts Jesus with his dying breath.

After which, the two smiling missionaries tell each other that they have “cause to celebrate”. A man just died. They want to celebrate. They’re going to Disneyland!

Fuck me. All I felt was hatred. That was despicable.

I’ve got to start carrying a knife now. Just so all you Christians know, if I’m in a fatal accident, and I’m lying in the street dying, and you’re not running over to stop the bleeding or otherwise physically help me, and you try to pull that prayer-and-conversion shit on me, I’m going to stab you. I’ll have nothing to lose, and you sure as hell don’t deserve to continue living. I don’t like violence, but I will make an exception for this one possible circumstance.

Now I know a lot of Christians aren’t like that, and that there are many who are also appalled at this wretched excuse for a movie. You can have another reason for disliking it: it has hardened the heart of an atheist even further against your religion.

Christianity is barbarism, evil, and gibbering insanity. Thanks, God’s Not Dead. When your religion is extinct, then I’ll have cause to celebrate.

Fascists thinking out of the box

Sometimes, you just can’t make this stuff up.

Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of France’s far-right Front National, has suggested the deadly virus Ebola could solve the global "population explosion" and by extension Europe’s "immigration problem".

Right. Unimaginable misery and agonizing death for millions of innocents, all to make a white man comfortable…and a white man so stupid he imagines a devastating plague would pass over all the good white French people like the Angel of Death meting out genocide to only those people he dislikes.

Charles Pierce is a bit angry

And he should be. So am I. The state of Oklahoma tortured a man to death, in the name of justice. Clayton Lockett was a bad man who committed a deeply evil act: he shot a young woman who caught him in a robbery and then buried her alive. I have no sympathy for the guy at all. But the state of Oklahoma convicted him and then sentenced him to death by lethal injection…and botched it. It took him half an hour to die, choking and seizing.

Isn’t torturing someone to death what Lockett was convicted of?

This is the problem: the death penalty ends up turning all of us into murderers, and I’d rather not promote the same brutality that Clayton Lockett committed. It dehumanizes us. All you have to do is look at the first five comments on the news story in the Miami Herald.

Why over complicate it, use a long drop gallows, or a bullet to the head.

Who cares how he died! Maybe he should of thought of this before he beat a women to death in her own home while he was trying to break and enter

how sad gee I wonder if he had the same feeling about his victim, before he killed piece of sht
if it where me I would had made it long and slow

Did the victim die humanely?

did u hear what this scum bag did to his victim he isn’t human anyway got just what he deserved

We’re just fostering barbarism when we don’t reject these kinds of sentiments…and it makes it hard to reject them when states support them.

Also, another thing that strikes me about these many stories of botched executions, is why is this so difficult? We have countries and a few states with legal euthanasia, practically every veterinarian has put pets to sleep without this ghastly botch, and I’ve personally euthanized many large lab animals — killing gently is easy. There are many drugs that are dangerous because they can kill you quietly, painlessly, almost without you noticing; people buy them, often illegally, for the pleasant effects at low doses.

So why does our bloated, over-funded penal system have such difficulties with this whole process? It’s almost as if the commenters up above are running the whole show, and are maliciously screwing up the procedure to cause maximum agony.

The murderers of Stormfront

The SPLC has done an analysis of Stormfront’s contribution to murder. It’s a bit unsettling: it has story after story of proud racists posting unashamedly on Stormfront, and then going off to gun someone down. And so many of them fit this profile!

A typical murderer drawn to the racist forum Stormfront.org is a frustrated, unemployed, white adult male living with his mother or an estranged spouse or girlfriend. She is the sole provider in the household. Forensic psychologists call him a “wound collector.” Instead of building his resume, seeking employment or further education, he projects his grievances on society and searches the Internet for an excuse or an explanation unrelated to his behavior or the choices he has made in life.

His escalation follows a predictable trajectory. From right-wing antigovernment websites and conspiracy hatcheries, he migrates to militant hate sites that blame society’s ills on ethnicity and shifting demographics. He soon learns his race is endangered — a target of “white genocide.” After reading and lurking for a while, he needs to talk to someone about it, signing up as a registered user on a racist forum where he commiserates in an echo chamber of angry fellow failures where Jews, gays, minorities and multiculturalism are blamed for everything.

Assured of the supremacy of his race and frustrated by the inferiority of his achievements, he binges online for hours every day, self-medicating, slowly sipping a cocktail of rage. He gradually gains acceptance in this online birthing den of self-described “lone wolves,” but he gets no relief, no practical remedies, no suggestions to improve his circumstances. He just gets angrier. 

And then he gets a gun.

Also chilling: Anders Breivik was a fan. Such a fan that he took care to protect Stormfront by lying about his involvement.

Hours before he began his terror campaign, Breivik E-mailed a copy of his racist manifesto to two other influential Stormfront members, Billy Joe Roper (see related story, p. XX) and Timothy Gallaher Murdock, who runs the racist WhiteRabbitRadio.net. In his manifesto, Breivik claimed he was banned from Stormfront, though a search shows no suspension. Breivik later admitted he was not removed as a registered member.

“I was never kicked out of Stormfront,” he said last September. “Instead, I attacked them in the compendium in order to protect them … [as] an army of leftist journalists otherwise would strike hard.”

Read it and learn how horrible human beings can be…and how participation in Stormfront can be a useful marker for evil.

Amazon’s inhumanity

Is it really worth it to order from Amazon? Read this exposé of Amazon’s labor practices — they are ruthless, demeaning, and evil.

At the Allentown warehouse, Stephen Dallal, also a “picker,” found that his output targets increased the longer he worked at the warehouse, doubling after six months. “It started with 75 pieces an hour, then 100 pieces an hour. Then 150 pieces an hour. They just got faster and faster.” He too was written up for not meeting his targets and was fired.27 At the Seattle warehouse where the writer Vanessa Veselka worked as an underground union organizer, an American Stakhnovism pervaded the depot. When she was on the line as a packer and her output slipped, the “lead” was on to her with “I need more from you today. We’re trying to hit 14,000 over these next few hours.”

Beyond this poisonous mixture of Taylorism and Stakhnovism, laced with twenty-first-century IT, there is, in Amazon’s treatment of its employees, a pervasive culture of meanness and mistrust that sits ill with its moralizing about care and trust—for customers, but not for the employees. So, for example, the company forces its employees to go through scanning checkpoints when both entering and leaving the depots, to guard against theft, and sets up checkpoints within the depot, which employees must stand in line to clear before entering the cafeteria, leading to what Amazon’s German employees call Pausenklau (break theft), shrinking the employee’s lunch break from thirty to twenty minutes, when they barely have time to eat their meal.

That’s just a small sample. If you work for Amazon, you’re a modern serf, relentlessly monitored and given increasingly unreachable goals.

Jeff Bezos has a net worth of 27 billion dollars. Do you think he works even a tenth as hard as the wage slaves he’s got working in his “fulfillment centers”?

One thing this story makes clear, at least, that a key element in the process of achieving some kind of equality is a vital labor movement.

Roller coaster time!

Wait, wait, that last post was just too cheerful and optimistic. We can’t have that! So now that you’re feeling all happy about a peaceful response to oppression, let me bring you down to earth with this site, My Duty to Speak, in which military personnel recount their personal tales of getting raped while serving their country. That description is enough that I don’t have to say, “trigger warning”, right?

(via Bateman on rape in the military. Also pretty intense. OK, just don’t read any of this article or anything it links to. Go back to the dance video. Although…dancing won’t fix this problem.)

This is a real thing?

I am blown away by this ad from the American Life League, a fanatically Catholic organization dedicated to opposing contraception, abortion, and euthanasia.

Suffering is a grace-filled opportunity to participate in the passion of Jesus Christ. Euthanasia selfishly steals that opportunity.

Suffering is a grace-filled opportunity to participate in the passion of Jesus Christ. Euthanasia selfishly steals that opportunity.

They do realize that “passion of Jesus Christ” is a euphemism for prolonged torture, right? “Hey, grandma, we love you so much, we’ve decided to hire a couple of thugs to whip you within an inch of your life, and then to strangle you slowly.”

Maybe this would be a good excuse if you had a couple of Catholic relatives who you really, really hated. I don’t know anyone I’d want to “grace” with that kind of opportunity.

Where a rational conversation about guns ought to start

The newspaper of record reflected the disease last night. They had an article about the man killed over texting during the previews at a movie that included this ridiculous paragraph.

The killing underscored the increased debate about when to use smartphones in public. In October, the singer Madonna was spotted texting during the Lincoln Center premiere of “12 Years a Slave.” That led Tim League, chief executive of Alama Drafthouse, a Texas-based chain of boutique cinemas, to post on Twitter that she was banned from watching movies at his theater.

No, it did not underscore that debate. It underscored the debate over whether we should continue to allow armed assholes to wander the streets freely. You know, that real issue that no one in America, including the New York Times, wants to deal with, because the proponents of armed assholery like to kill you if you disagree with them.

(By the way, if you go read that article now, you’ll discover that it has been cleansed of that astonishingly stupid paragraph.)

It’s about time the US had a rational discussion about gun control, though. It’s way past due, and the weird aversion to changing the way we manage guns has to be overcome. So here are my suggestions for a start.

  • Repeal the second amendment. All right, we don’t actually have a mechanism to strip that sucker out of there, but we can override it with a new amendment. Face it, the second amendment stinks: it’s an 18th century relic, it’s ambiguously worded (it’s about militias, people), and somehow stupid Americans have it fixed in their brains that the Constitution is sacred magic — all they have to do is shout, “Second amendment!” and we’re supposed to dissolve into accommodating bits of gelatin before them. We can criticize and revise the Constitution, you know; if you revere the Founding Fathers, you should at least still recognize that they thought an informed citizenry was important. You’re supposed to think, not just follow rules.

  • Regulate gun ownership. Regulate the heck out of it. I live in a state where all liquor sales, even of wine and beer, have to be made through state-licensed stores — but I can order a freaking AR-15 through reddit. This is absurd. End all the loopholes, including the gun show provisions. All gun sales must be made through strictly licensed dealers, with extensive background checks, and all gun sales must be made in person with photo ID and a permanent record made. Make gun ownership public: anyone and everyone can look up who owns guns and where the guns are.

    If you are a responsible gun owner who needs the tool for hunting deer, this should be no burden at all on you. I’m very suspicious of people who insist that their possession of a deadly weapon must be secret and untraceable, and that they must be allowed to buy it from the skeevy guy operating out of a trailer.

  • You have no right to carry a gun in any public place. No more concealed carry permits. No more “stand your ground” laws. Only authorized agents of the law should be carrying weapons in public, and even there, not all of them should be armed, and those who are, should be clearly and obviously armed. You’re packing heat in a movie theater? Fuck, WHY??.

  • End the “gun collector” excuse. I don’t believe the pretense that you’re merely building a historical archive, that you’re simply gathering Americana of note. Collect bottles or hubcaps, instead. If you must insist that you’re creating a museum, OK…then you won’t object if every weapon in your collection is thoroughly and irreversibly modified to be non-functional: firing pins removed, solid plugs placed in the barrel, mechanisms locked in place with a nice glop of super-glue. If you have religious reasaons that they must be functional, go collect old hand grenades and undetonated bombs. You’ll expunge yourself from the population soon enough.

    We have no problem recognizing that if you have a bale of marijuana in your garage you’re in the business of dealing, not just recreationally consuming, drugs. If you’re accumulating an arsenal of deadly weapons, this isn’t for your personal enjoyment any more, you’re up to nefarious purposes.

  • No more “self defense” excuse. The only people we need to defend ourselves from are the jerks who carry guns. And guns are a lousy instrument for self-defense — they’re indiscriminate and irreversible, they tend to punch holes in objects and people that we didn’t intend to punch holes in, and there are no take-backs after you punch a hole in someone by mistake.

    You want to defend yourself? Take a martial arts course. Too unathletic to do that, like me? Support your local police and have a phone by your bedside.

  • Change the culture. You may think you’re a macho stud when you swagger down the street with a pistol at your hip, but the rest of us think you’re a pathetic asshole who is not just stupid, but a real danger to others. The rest of us have to get that message across to the NRA membership.

    There are very few legitimate uses for guns by general citizens — hunting, target shooting — and none of those require assault rifles, secrecy, or huge stockpiles of guns and ammo. If you actually have a practical use for the gun as a tool, I can respect that and have no problem with it, just like people who have a use for a tractor. But you know, it’s a tool with a specific purpose, and the nitwits who want to extend that purpose to being a constant presence in our lives are overcompensating losers.

Now, cue the stupid people declaring their love of guns in the comments, and accusing me of being a commie. I’ll prime your anger by telling you right off the bat that if you love guns, you are a sick, pathetic, twisted dingbat, and I won’t care about your arguments.

‘Corrective rape’ aimed at ‘curing’ lesbians

All right, I have to stop reading world news first thing in the morning. What did I encounter today? A crisis in South Africa — there is an epidemic of really stupid men who believe the way to ‘cure’ lesbians is gang rape.

"If we want to finish lesbians and gays they must be forcefully raped," says one, grinning at the camera. "A man must go back to his manhood. Women must be women. She must be ready and willing to have sex."

"They must be raped so that their gay and lesbian behaviour can come out," adds another.

The third raises his voice, points two fingers at his temple and concludes: "This gay and lesbian thing must end. I say bang bang bang!"

If I were a woman, those men would turn me into a lesbian, I think. Also, no illusions here: this isn’t about converting women to heterosexuality. It’s about intimidation and power. Some of the events in the story are about women being executed after the rape.

Dick Cheney is simply an awful human being

Incurious, unempathetic, soulless dead-eyed bug. That’s our former vice president, who had a heart transplant and doesn’t really care much about who the donor was.

When I came out from under the anesthetic after the transplant, I was euphoric.  I’d had–I’d been given the gift of additional lives, additional years of life.  For the family of the donor, they’d just been [through] some terrible tragedy, they’d lost a family member.  Can’t tell why, obviously, when you don’t know the details, but the way I think of it from a psychological standpoint is that it’s my new heart, not someone else’s old heart. And I always thank the donor, generically thank donors for the gift that I’ve been given, but I don’t spend time wondering who had it, what they’d done, what kind of person.

Generic thank yous, generic bombing, generic military-industrial complex spending. He’s just an empty generic human being, I guess.

I’m just wondering if the family of the donor can ask for it back. It’s obvious he’s not using it.