Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Top Ten Fifteen: Offensive Terms for White People

I consider myself an insult aficionado, and I am particularly interested in the etymology of various offensive epithets (all part of the growing field of research I created, Misanthropology, which is the study of people’s hatred for each other). The problem is (and I do see it as a problem), I am a white male, and there’s not a lot of offensive things a person can say to me. Sure, there are some, but nothing you can say to a white guy really carries that extra “oomph,” the way a word like “nigger,” “cunt,” or any of a number of other slurs and terms of less-than-endearment can do for other demographics.

Frankly… I feel kind of left out, and I find myself (like I imagine many of you do) at a loss for how to insult some white dudes, usually resorting to the tired old practice of feminizing, or perhaps bringing up questions regarding their sexual orientation. Yeah, I could criticize what someone says, finding fault in their ideas, but let’s be honest: sometimes it’s not about “proving someone wrong” (you can’t prove a fool wrong without their approval, unfortunately), it’s about telling them what an impotent little prick they are.

Ultimately, I think people would be less offended by what white males say if they had some things that were really offensive to say back at them. In a way, it isn’t fair for me to say “nigger” when black people have nothing of equal cultural weight to say in response back at me (or white people in general).

Sure, there are a bunch of different ethnic slurs for all of the various types of white people. I think you could write several pages just about what the British, Irish and Scottish thought of each other. And of course you got your wops, kykes, huns, frogs, polacks, and those stupid Eastern European countries that don’t even warrant me Googling them (I’m talking to you, Croatia). Honestly, who has time to get to know a person enough to distinguish between all of these different groups and then research how to insult them in their native tongue? You want to insult the person, not learn about their heritage. That would be so… so… multicultural!

So, for the lazy and unintellectually inclined people out there who want a blanket insult for white people, I compiled this list. I can’t fight everyone’s battle for them, but I can point you towards the ammunition and suggest you aim for the groin.

15. Pasty-face
14. Honky
13. Hairback
12. Gringo
11. Ghost/Casper
10. Redneck
9. White Bread
8. White Trash
7. White Devil
6. Whitey
5. Neanderthal
4. Peckerwood
3. Cracker
2. Ofay
1. Nazi

Monday, August 29, 2011

Political Correctness is Retarded

For whatever reason, some people get really hung up on word choice. Sometimes I understand it. I hate when people say “thing” when describing how to do some task, especially if they make a habit of it. Like, stick the thing into the thing, but keep it away from your thing, or you might go sterile. Being specific is useful in technical situations.

In a sense, a lot of words people get upset about are like that. They’re sort of like filler words.

“Fuck” is certainly the most common one, and there are actually still people in polite society who act shocked when they hear this word. The multitude of uses for “fuck” are well attested to. But really, while “fuck” is generally considered offensive, it has little to do with the discussion of “political correctness.”

Political correctness is not about obscenity, per se. Political correctness is a sort of positive form of censorship. It’s positive, not in the sense that it has a beneficial effect on society, but because it concerns itself primarily of what you should say. Inevitably, there are terms that we are not supposed to say, but it’s because they lack the seal of approval. It’s not that you can’t say something in this system, but rather, that you are expected to use terminology that is pre-selected as being acceptable.

The problem is, I think this selection process is fucking retarded. Case in point: “retarded” is not politically correct. How idiotic is that? No one has a problem with “idiotic,” even though it has the same history as “retarded.” Both were medical terms for people with some form of mental deficiency, both were abandoned by the medical community, and both have entered common use as an insult for someone who clearly possesses a functioning brain, even if they don’t appear to be using it.

I’ve also been chided many times on how I address the gay community, which is discouraging for someone who supports gay rights. I was particularly stunned when someone told me, “You can’t say gay, that’s offensive. We prefer queer.” Really? That doesn’t make sense to me one bit. Gay doesn’t seem offensive to me at all. Gay means happy, and I think that’s a rather positive view of homosexuality. I’m a heterosexual, and I wouldn’t explain my experience with it as “happy.” It’s more of an embarrassing struggle, maybe a “fiasco.”

I just find “queer” to be far more offensive than “gay,” maybe because I never played “smear the gay” when I was growing up. I’m happy to call someone anything they want to be identified as, but I’m not going to make the brazen move of calling every gay person “queer” just because one over-zealous fan of obscure wordage thinks “gay” is sooo 2004.

Part of why I just find myself unable to really identify with any particular liberal movement is because you have to watch what you say around liberals. I like commenting on conservative blogs because I find that generally, conservatives actually let you say your piece any way you want. Liberals will almost always ignore what I say and just engage in the most inane assault on the way I said it.

I sometimes wonder if people who complain about this stuff have any conception of how counter-productive all of this can be. Many words have been unnecessarily empowered by this whole attitude. If you never use a word, you leave its use to those who use it the way you don’t want it to be used.

Instead, you should own the words that offend you. And I don’t mean the way black people own “nigger.” They got it all wrong, and it’s not really black people who did it. I think it was a small group of black activists and a large group of white liberals who came up with the idea of simultaneously damning “nigger” and inventing “African-American.”

Trust me: changing what anyone calls black people isn’t helping any black person, not even psychologically. There were no black people who woke up one morning and thought, “Ahh… I’m no longer a nigger, I’m an African-American, and things are finally turning around.” If you want to help black people, you need to make a tangible difference in a system that dumps truckload after truckload of shit on their communities. You can’t end oppression through vocabulary.

In fact, if you think about it, plenty of people get criticized constantly, yet they are doing great. Doctors, lawyers, and politicians are doing alright, but they’re the butt of more jokes these days than black people and women combined. And when was the last time you heard anyone say anything positive about white men? And yet, white men are doing just fine. We don’t need more positive messages for white males, because despite the disparity in society’s representation of them as fat idiots, you don’t need society’s approval to feel good about yourself, nor is success linked to being liked.

If anything, I wouldn’t want to be a part of any demographic that is too afraid to be criticized in public. That’s generally a sign of weakness, being unable to take a little ribbing. Those who have any self-esteem can take criticism in stride. I don’t mean they have to grin and bear it (hell, I encourage people to fling insults back at anyone, for any reason), I just mean that it’s pathetic if you resort to saying, “You can’t say things like that” in response to something you didn’t want to hear or read.

Instead, if a word offends you, use it every day in a different way. For example, why not use “nigger” as a synonym for “very.” For example, “Bill Gates is nigger rich,” or, “That new Tom Hanks movies is nigger good.” Don’t use it just for black people or black-related things, though don’t go out of your way to back-track if what you say might be perceived as racist, like if you say “It was so cloudy last night, it was nigger dark,” don’t draw attention to the fact that it could be misinterpreted.

That’s ultimately what political correctness has done, created systematized misinterpretation. Rather than drawing on overall context or the character of the person saying it (and forget about getting the benefit of the doubt), political correctness encourages misunderstandings. That is not only what political correctness was supposedly meant to stop (misunderstandings), but it runs counter to the very concept of language, because it seeks to attach a history and weight to words that the speaker never intended, defeating the very ability of people to discuss certain topics without the distortive lens of hyper-sensitivity.

I also notice that most people who get upset about certain words think nothing of using or endorsing extreme language against those they disagree with. I don’t see a lot of liberals getting offended by my verbal abuse of conservatives, nor do women hesitate to laugh at a gender joke, so long as it is at a man’s expense. It’s a classic double standard, where certain groups can be subjected to unabashed criticism, while doing so for others is taboo. It is actually a bit racist and sexist to treat groups differently, or so I have been told.

I can criticize a man for being a weepy little dick with grit in his urethra, but calling anyone (though usually a man) a whiny pussy with sand in their vagina is somehow magically “misogynistic.” I guess “misandry” is not a word discussed quite as often among feminist circles.

Maybe my ultimate complaint about political correctness is not that it misrepresents intentions and distorts communication, but that it points out and mocks the limitations of language.

My thoughts are my own, and I cannot share them with anyone. The best I can hope for is to put the intangible ideas from my head into words which I say or write. Once those words are out there, it’s up to those who hear or read them to interpret them, and there may be as many ways of interpreting what I say (and how I said it) as there are people on the planet. Try as we might, language is a poor substitute for truly peering into a person’s mind.

In any case, I could not bring myself to embrace political correctness, because it seems to encourage people to think the worst of others. That’s just a little too intolerant, even for me.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Saturday Reflection #44

Every wall was built to be torn down, and every border was drawn to be erased.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Weighing In On Elevatorgate

I usually like to wait and make decisions in retrospect, at least when they have little or nothing to do with me. I find it best to reserve judgment until the emotions die down. Generally, people don’t respond to my way of speaking or writing when they’re still taking things very seriously.

But, it’s been a while, and I think both sides have said their piece, and it’s generally settled in the minds of those involved, even if no consensus was reached between the various views. So, what better time than now for me to pick at the scab?

For those not in the know, a female atheist at an event for skeptics gave a talk about how she didn’t like how women were objectified by men, typical feminist stuff. As the woman was leaving via elevator, a man who saw the talk got on with her and asked her back to his room for coffee. She declined, she ended up off-handedly mentioning it later online, and it set off a crazy debate about the treatment of women in the atheist community.

It shouldn’t be news to most that there are more men who are atheists than there are women. I highly doubt this is because atheist men are driving women out. Out to what, religion? Right, because religion is known for treating women well.

No, I think there are other cultural and socio-economic reasons for this, and I believe the new crop of highly educated females in my generation and younger will translate into more female atheists in the future. But this isn’t really the point.

The initial issue at hand is: was the guy wrong for doing what he did?

Without getting into a too detailed account of how one ought to date (and I would know, I was ugly, out of shape, lazy, not very bright… yet I still did pretty well for myself while dating, and managed to get married), I think what he did was certainly gauche, which in this case is a polite way of saying “fucking creepy.”

Generally, you should wait until the last possible second to proposition someone for anything, be it a date later or “coffee” (and we all know he meant the coffee he was brewing in his pants). This means waiting until someone is leaving company for good, like as he or she is stepping off the elevator. This way, when they most likely decline, it won’t be as awkward, because you will be parting company immediately.

Also, it’s always inappropriate to ask someone out when in an enclosed setting. If they are a captive audience, it’s borderline intimidation. When in doubt, just remember this bad pun: asking a girl out while riding in an elevator is wrong on many levels.

Then there is the issue of addressing the backlash to the woman’s comments regarding the incident. I believe it was a video initially, and I think I remember seeing it, as well as some post or comment from her on it. I got the distinct impression this was far less of a big deal for her as it was for the community at large. If you want to blame anyone, she’s not the droid you’re looking for.

I feel like the initial hostility came from men blowing the whole incident out of proportion, and then women (and level-headed men) jumping all over these horn-dogs who were unabashedly being their primal, male selves. Hmmm… primales? Maybe a Wednesday Word, if I’m having a slow week…

There ended up being stupid things said on both sides. For one, I think it’s okay to proposition a woman who gave a talk on not objectifying women. Asking a girl out or back to your room is not objectification. Men don’t fuck objects; we fuck people or our hands, both of which are biological. I assure you, I have had sex with more than my fair share of women, and I never saw any of them as objects.

Although… isn’t it women who have multi-colored dildos, and vibrators with a little rabbit that stimulates the clitoris? Then you got your nipple clamps, and of course you gotta have a butt plug in this day and age… I guess what I’m saying is, I know more women who sexualize objects, and I have heard women talk about guys as being literally “pieces of meat…” so maybe this whole “men objectify women” nonsense is just projection.

Plus, I’ve dated plenty of feminists who have told me at one point in the evening that they were trying to focus on their career and couldn’t handle a relationship right now, and later that night, after awkward sex, she was asking if she would see me again as she was leaving, even though I asked her to stay. Hell yes she would, because unlike guys on TV and assholes in real life, I’m like most guys: I dated to find someone to be with, not to collect sexual partners (and STDs) like Pokemon.

Call me old fashioned, but I like to really get to know a person before I dump their ass to the curb… I’m kidding. I have never dumped someone in my entire life, ever. I prefer the female method, where I just become intolerable to the point where the other person ends it. Since so many women I dated do this too, it became a seriously irritating game of progressively tortuous verbal abuse chicken, but I have incredible emotional stamina and a real knack for annoying perseverance (or at least a perseverance for annoying). This is more of a confession of a personal short-coming than part of the whole general argument…

So here’s my final advice to guys: you can ask a girl out whenever and however you want, but don’t go sobbing like a beaten puppy if she mocks you for your tactless come-ons. Be a man, jerk off, and try again tomorrow. At least she didn’t slap you.

Last Post on Israel For A Bit

The individual whose e-mail prompted me to post “History Lessons” From Idiots sent me a response and encouraged me to post it, so I will. I intend to retire the issue for a time, because it bothers my wife when I talk about it. She grew up Orthodox Jewish and has an expired Israeli passport, and is sick of talking about the issue, and me writing about it inevitable leads to me bringing it up in conversation. It’s not that she disagrees with me, she just married a non-Jew in no small part because she wants nothing to do with her Jewish past. She can clarify if she wants, but it’s my impression she sees the situation in a similar fashion as I do, in that Palestinians are being mistreated by Israelis.

Anyway, I think the only thing you need to know up front to catch up on these e-mails is that the person who wrote to me is an atheist of Jewish heritage and lives in Israel… and took a sort of sick glee in pointing out it was disputed settlement territory. Reading the “History Lessons” From Idiots post might help, but is not necessary.

Dear Ginx,

Thanks for the encouragement though I don’t really care enough about that any more to try and work around blogger’s hidden restrictions on comment length. I’ve been away from my inbox this week so I’m receiving your response a bit late. Yesterday I was amused to read your response (“history lessons from idiots”). I particularly liked the part where you refer to Israel itself as an anti-semitic plot by the west. Ha! I bet that isn’t so far off from the truth, at least as intentions go.

You seem to have taken particular offense to my characterization of you as an anti-semite. It’s a charged word, but one that I suspect may be altogether fair in your case. For sure yours is a more sophisticated brand of anti-semitism. One that feels the need to rationalize the hate. Maybe you don’t buy into crude conspiracy theories such as the Jewish conspiracy to Rule The World, but you cherry pick facts that support your bias while discarding the rest. It’s confirmation bias gone wild, and I suspect the seed of that is good old fashioned Christian anti-semitism. Perhaps something that was planted in your mind before you could build up any defenses against it. Before you completely rejected the other baggage that came with religion. Something that lingers as a subconscious impulse, which your rational mind serves but can not master.

Or maybe not. I can’t truly see into your mind. Maybe I shouldn’t attribute to malice what can equally be attributed to incompetence. Then again, you’re so passionately black and white about a situation that is so full of subtle shades of grey (with blame enough to go around). Any ignorance you exhibit seems to be so suspiciously selective that one requires a more satisfying explanation.

Regarding irrational impulses, I’m not preaching from some lofty pedestal. In fact, I’m not accusing you of anything I haven’t been guilty of myself. The part of my mind I control are rational, atheist and humanistic. But I’m not deluding myself. There are dark corners where the collective subconscious still rules. Knee-jerk racist emotional reactions against “the others”. For example, you are a “goy” and I remember people saying that word in my childhood as if there was something dirty, unwholesome about it. Nobody would ever say as much in polite company but the undercurrent was always there. That sort of impression sinks in. The same goes for “Aravim” (arabs in hebrew). The word and its uses in the Hebrew language is associated with primitivism at best, dehumanized blood thirst at its worst. Most educated adults would never voice such an opinion out loud, but talk to the children who haven’t learned political correctness yet and the truth is laid bare.

Again, I do not claim to truly know your mind. That would be hopelessly arrogant. I’m just making an educated guess and may be completely off the mark.

I also have a somewhat simpler competing theory. Pick your poison if you like. It’s not as interesting as a “new brand” of anti-semite though: maybe you’re just a knee-jerk contrarian leftist. Anything that the neocons are for, you are against. You just don’t want to be in the same camp on any issue with them.

I wouldn’t expect you to admit it either way, but you can tell if this is true if your political opinions on most issues align with one side of the false right/left political dichotomy. If so, that really is just lazy minded of you. But better than being an anti-semite I suppose.

Oh dear, am I rambling again? It must be that funny mood again. Well, at least it’s not 6 pages worth this time.

Anyhow, as I said before you have my leave to publish my rambling correspondence if you like on your blog. Anonymously. I doubt you will though perhaps you would be more eager if my views were easier to dismiss or make fun of, such as those of the uneducated, tribal, short-sighted people that are the majority (on both sides) in my particular part of the world. But It wouldn’t do you much good to call me an idiot if your readers could judge to the contrary for themselves. Let’s just say I wasn’t exactly surprised that you published only the first paragraph in which I accuse you of anti-semitism without anything else to balance that out. At least you’re consistent.

My response:

I don’t take offense at being called an anti-Semite, but largely because I don’t get offended. If anything, I’m perturbed at the over-use of the term, and I feel like Jews would be better off not crying wolf. If I hated Jews, I wouldn’t have married one, and if I hated Israelis as a matter of principle, I wouldn’t have married someone who has an Israeli passport. I also assure you that Christian prejudices don’t carry over into my views as an atheist. I think it’s fine that you use the blood of blonde Christian kids in Matzo, which is why we call white people “crackers.” I kid, of course.

If anything, I was taught through Christianity that Jews had to be in the Holy Land in order for daddy Jesus to come back, which is why most Christians in America feel morally obligated to defend Israel: they want the end of times to come. I heard this idea mentioned maybe twice before I became an atheist; Israel just wasn’t a common topic for me growing up.

I personally don’t think what happens in Israel has anything to do with the end of the world, but I do think it is a disaster waiting to happen upon the Jewish people, which is a shame. It’s already been a disaster for the Palestinians, and I don’t want the same hardship visited upon anyone, be they Jewish or any other religion or race.

But if it comforts you to call me an anti-Semite, by all means. I am technically against Judaism, in that I see the religion as an archaic form of institutionalized prejudice, so it’s not as though it cannot be argued that I am an anti-Semite, but I am probably more strongly anti-Christian and anti-Muslim, if only because I prefer picking on the bullies, not the bullied. It just so happens that on this occasion, Israel is the bully, and that Israel is full of Jews.

I urge you to see my view on Israel not as black and white, but as the result of a long, continuous interest in the matter going back to high school, when I dated a girl who was born in Israel (not my current wife... what can I say, I have Jewish-fever). I teetered on neutrality and siding with Israel for years while I dated her, rationalizing the treatment of the Palestinian people based on the actions of a few in their number who violently attacked innocent Israelis. I re-assured myself that the secular Jewish state was superior by virtue of it not being another fundamentalist Islamic stronghold. I have come to see these views as highly biased, and that the reality is much more complex than this.

In short, I don’t have to like Palestinians or agree with what they’re doing in order to see that they are still the victims of Israeli oppression. They may not take it in stride like the Buddhists of Tibet, but I don’t fault a people who refuse to give up.

Regarding the view that I am a contrarian leftist: I certainly might be on some issues, but you should know by now that the left in America is every bit in favor of Israel as the right. Both the left and the right in America have a favorable view of Israel (if they hold any opinion at all), and both the left and the right have those who oppose Israel on various grounds. The Aryan Brotherhood and other white-supremacist groups on the right certainly oppose Israel, and my view all but puts me in the same camp as KKK members and neo-Nazis. If I was trying to avoid being categorized as in the same view as people like Bush or Glenn Beck, I seem to have left the ideological company of the right for an even more hateful, far-right stance.

And yet, my reasons and ideas for solving the problem have nothing in common with brazen anti-Semites.

The fact that you can’t see how stealing the land of hundreds of thousands of people is something I would oppose on principle is strange, and leads me to believe you are trying to write between the lines I wrote. It’s almost as if you have predetermined that I could not have come to my conclusion through any sort of research or careful moral reasoning, but must instead hold my view out of some form of ignorance. That’s a convenient way of ignoring what I have to say, but I think it’s a rather lazy way of just avoiding my evidence.

I have many opinions, and all of those which I have come from years of research and writing, which I have been lucky enough to have been given the time to do without the burden of needing to work for a living. I have had an unusual amount of time and energy to pour into my philosophy, and I see myself as profoundly lucky for having this opportunity given to me by others. There is a lot I don’t know about, from the crisis in Darfur to the world of fashion, and on matters like these, I hold no opinion one way or the other.

I don’t feel compelled to take a stance on every issue, but those which I decide to learn about will inevitably lead me to a strong and pronounced viewpoint once I have a certain level of understanding. To have someone imagine they can negate my efforts to think beyond the popular consensus by hurling hate labels at me or passing me off as some sort of unprincipled malcontent doesn’t so much frustrate me as it does make me sad to count myself as part of the same species.

Regarding Israel, I’ve done the typical things like reading books, keeping up with the news, reading various historical accounts, and even talking to individuals. My wife met a young woman whose grandfather’s land was taken, and it can no longer be given back because Israelis built the Benghazi airport [correction: Ben Gurion Airport] on top of it. I’ve met people whose families fled to the US in the face of Israeli attacks, and these were the lucky ones who could escape.

I’ve also talked to Jews, and some, like my wife, have come to the same conclusions I have after being confronted with the facts which their upbringing shielded them from. But mostly, I meet befuddled opposition from folks (Jews, Christians, and atheists) who are as sure as can be that Israel is the victim of Arab oppression. And most of them just resort to calling me an anti-Semite, without providing any evidence based argument for their view.

I would say, more than those who agree with me, it’s the empty arguments of Israel’s supporters that assure me I am correct in my view, so perhaps in this respect, I am a contrarian, though I hold my view contrary to the majority in nearly every demographic I can imagine (with the obvious exception being the handful of Palestinians I have met).

I thank you for your reply, and I hope you decide to comment on my blog if you get the chance. I would like your views to be made public, because I think anything worth writing is worth being read.

- Bret

[Addendum: when looking up if there was a name for people who prefer dating Jews, I had an interesting suggestion from Google. Pic below.]

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Some Christian Clichés, Rethought

I get the feeling that when some people hear something for the septillionth time, they just nod their head and accept it, as if a nonsensical collection of words which lack any logic is somehow acceptable because it has been said so often. Some apparently take it for granted that they’re still supposedly using the English language.

I am not one of those people. Often, Christians are.

I don’t want to call Christians broken records, because some people reading this probably don’t know what a “record” is, so I’ll just say that Christians are like an iPod stuck on “repeat song.” Their brain has gigs of space, but it seems like all they ever listen to is “Oh Mickey, you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind, hey Mickey *clap clap… clap* hey Mickey!”

So, I will take it upon myself to explain why some of these clichés ought to be retired, and as always, I will do my best to give a suitable replacement.

“God wouldn’t give you something to do if He didn’t think you could handle it.” Really? I wish someone had told that to the little kid on my block growing up who died of leukemia. Clearly he just wasn’t a fighter. Maybe he didn’t pray hard enough. Or maybe this is just a completely full-of-shit statement that it should be legal to groin-kick someone over if they say it publicly. If you ask me, the phrase should be, “God wouldn’t give you something to do if he didn’t get a kick out of watching you struggle through it.”

“I’ll pray for you.” Often said when someone is going through hard times, and I don’t have a problem with it in such circumstances (though it is an empty act, it’s also harmless). I hate this cliché when someone has a long discussion with me about my religion (or lack thereof, as the case may be) and I emphatically state that I have no interest in accepting Jesus in their particular cultic fashion, yet they still say they’ll pray for me. Look, I don’t care if you curse me, it makes no difference. I’ll make a deal: you pray for me, and I’ll think for you. This way, we’re both doing what we’re good at.

“God loves everyone unconditionally.” Really? You’re sure? You are 100% positive of that? Good, then I don’t have to be a Christian. Oh, I get it, there’s a condition, and I have to love Him first. Noted.

“There is nothing you can do that will make Jesus stop loving you.” Look, this is getting creepy. If He loves me so much, He should tell me Himself, not send His friend, a la 5th grade. Next you’re going to hand me a folded up note saying, “Do you love God?” with “Yes” and “No” at the bottom, right above where it says, in parenthesis “Circle one.” This must be why they have to get you while you’re young…

“I have Christ in my heart.” Not unless McDonalds makes their French fries in Jesus grease. In fact, can we please just retire the whole idea of the heart being anything but a blood pump?

“What would Jesus do?” I’m all for people actually acting like Jesus. Jesus healed the sick, for free. He fed the hungry, cared for the poor, and hung out with sailors at weddings where they drank so much, they ran out of wine. Jesus was friends with prostitutes and those damn, dirty tax men working for the government. Basically… Jesus was a liberal. Maybe the cliché ought to be, “Jesus would have hated Republicans.”

“Jesus still loves you!” Seriously… I’m sure he does, but I think we should see other people. Tell him it’s not him, it’s me. I just have a lot going on, and I don’t have time for a relationship with a 2000 year old Jewish Messiah. Don’t tell him this, but he has a lot of emotional baggage I’m just not interested in dealing with, like his whole “savior” complex, not to mention his weird mother issues, where he doesn’t even want to admit she ever had sex… honestly, I just think it’s best for both of us if we move on.

“Atheism is a religion.” Okay, then you’re a shoe, since I can stick my foot in your ass. Next.

“Being gay is a choice.” I’ll agree to that, if you agree that you chose to be an idiot. I’m not trying to suggest you were born an idiot, but something obviously happened in your childhood that scarred you and made you the way you are, and it’s a disorder. Luckily there is a cure, they’re called “books.”

“Without God, life is meaningless.” I’m afraid you have it backwards, actually. If there is a God, and there is a heaven, then this life is meaningless, and all that matters is getting into heaven. So if you really have faith in God, you should give me all your stuff (since a rich man’s chances of getting into heaven rival a camel’s chances of passing through the eye of a needle). Don’t worry about the life of poverty, this life doesn’t matter, only heaven does. Why haven’t you given me all your Earthly riches yet? Still have some doubts?

“It’s too bad you’re going to go to hell.” Not really. I’m an atheist, after all. I think that after I die, nothing happens. Hell is decidedly preferable to nothing, regardless of how often you tell me hell is horrible in ways I can’t imagine. I would rather exist than not exist, there’s no arguing that. What’s more, I would be consoled by the fact that people like Hitler, Chairman Mao and Jerry Falwell were burning nearby, so they would finally get what’s coming to them. You can’t put a value on the existence of ultimate justice. I wish it were so, but alas, it’s probably not how things work.

“It’s all part of God’s plan.” Isn’t it convenient that this can be said regardless of what happens? How would someone even know if something didn’t go according to God’s plan? And if it is all planned, it sort of makes Adam and Eve’s sin in the garden seem rather staged. And what about stuff that clearly wasn’t planned, like needing to flood the Earth and save Noah, or having to make a fish swallow Jonah? If every little thing is planned out, the Bible doesn’t seem to make much sense at times.

Always said when accepting some sort of honor or award, “I wanna thank God…” If you want to, then fucking do it already, no one is stopping you. Just say, “Thank God, even though He has way more important things to worry about, I want to believe He had something to do with this, and clearly prefers me over these other people. How’s it feel to have God hate you, bitches!”

“I am a witness for Christ.” Really? Based on your actions, I would have taken you to be a judge.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wednesday Word: Conswervative

Conswervative: a right-winger who sometimes veers left

Why America Deserved – Nay, Begged For – 9/11

Before I begin, I want to be clear: though I will say this now upfront, I know there will be people in the comments who say something to the effect of, “But those innocent people!” or “My [insert close personal relation] died on 9/11, you heartless piece of shit.” This article is primarily a challenge to myself, a rhetorical exercise, an attempt which I know will most likely be a futile failure, but which I see to be an effort worthy of my time and [limited] talents. I don’t like violence, and there is no excuse for it, ever.

On the other hand, while no violence is excusable, a great deal of it can be explained. No act of violence has been the victim of more misinformation and emotional blindness in America this past decade than the events of September 11th. As we are quickly approaching the 10 year mark, the tin or aluminum anniversary, I could think of no better time than now to bust open a can of truth.

Where to begin… while I could (and maybe should) start earlier, I think the late 70s and early 80s are sufficient, at least initially. While I will allude to events prior to this later when discussing the motivation for attacks on Western targets, the true seeds for 9/11 were planted in the 70s and 80s.

During the 70s, Afghanistan came under the rule of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, a pro-Soviet government, when pro-Communist supporters overthrew the ruling family in Afghanistan. This party attempted to instill state-sponsored atheism, and Islamic opponents cried out to the West for help.

Beginning with Jimmy Carter, with continuing support from Reagan, various “mujahideen” (Arabic for “those who struggle” or “those who commit to jihad”) groups were funded by the West to end such horrible practices as erasing debt for all farmers and poor laborers, outlawing bride prices, raising the age of consent, encouraging literacy, and providing education for women. That shit had to be put to an end… clearly.

But honestly, that has little to do with the issue at hand. I just can’t pass up an opportunity to point out that, yet again, America’s foreign meddling stifled what could have been a progressive improvement in another country, and that America’s sole reason for doing so was based on the fact that it had a slight connection to the great mid-twentieth century boogie man, Communism.

The US and USSR engaged in another of their long, drawn out proxy wars through the 80s, with liberal progressives on the left supported by the Soviet Union and right-wing fundamentalist Islamic jihadists funded by the US. Atrocities occurred on both sides. The Soviets even fought directly, much as the US had done in Vietnam, and like Vietnam, the Soviets found themselves bogged down in an unwinnable war.

When the smoke cleared and the Soviets had retreated in 1989, there was still no victory on either side. The Afghan communists held out for 3 more years in the capital of Kabul until 1992, when the capital was besieged by Islamists. With the communists defeated, civil war continued in the capital as three rival militias fought for supremacy, each backed by various foreign governments in the region hoping to gain favor with the eventual victor.

A fourth group began to emerge in 1994, and after suffering crippling defeats in 1995, regrouped in 1996 with the military support of Pakistan and the financial backing of Saudi Arabia. This group called themselves the Taliban, meaning “students.” They controlled most of the country, including the capital, by September of 1996, while still never being recognized as a true national government by anyone but those Arab nations who backed them (primarily Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, but also the United Arab Emirates).

Mujahideen began looking outside of Afghanistan, seeking other Arab Muslims who may benefit from the successful tactics used to repel the powerful Soviet army. One of these groups, Al Qaeda (meaning “the base”), made the effort to expand outside Afghanistan into other areas of the Arabian Peninsula, as well as Africa.

Hopefully that explains everything you need to know regarding the origins of the powers behind the 9/11 attacks.

As all of this is going on, hostility for Israel grew throughout the Arab world. Whether you support Israel or not, here are the facts pertinent to Israel/Palestine, for the purposes of understanding the motivation behind 9/11:

During World War I, the Ottoman empire allied itself with Germany (1914) and provided safe harbor for German war vessels. This drew the ire of the British, who were at war with Germany, and who began to actively engage this new enemy.

While the Caliphate experienced many early military victories, growing unrest within the empire spilled over, resulting in an Arab revolt which sought to capitalize on WWI as an opportunity for independence in 1916. The revolt succeeded, and the Ottoman Empire shrunk, losing substantial territory in the Arabian Peninsula in 1918.

By 1919, the British had won substantial victories. Britain was given rule over the rest of the Ottoman Empire, with the exception of Anatolia, what is essentially modern-day Turkey (where the capital of Constantinople was located, currently named Istanbul). These lands given to the British were handed over with the aim of being under British control until which time they could govern themselves independently (there are currently 40 countries formed from the former Ottoman Empire).

To understand the next events, one must be familiar with the Jewish diaspora. Without going all the way back to 70 CE, when the Temple of Jerusalem fell to the Romans, I’ll just summarize that Jews have had a rough history, especially when they refuse to assimilate. Though to be fair, often the Jews’ best efforts to fit in have not been enough to avoid violent opposition.

Jews had been living in Europe since well before 70 CE, but they were forced out of the region of Israel in droves after Roman conquest, and they dispersed or were taken as slaves to some of the farthest reaches of the Roman Empire. With the rise of Islam and the subsequent Muslim conquests of Northern Africa, the Iberian Peninsula (Spain/Portugal) and other places in Europe, like Sicily and Greece, Jews followed their Arab neighbors throughout the Western world. After Christian Europeans seized control of these regions again, after numerous Inquisitions, and after other forms of forced conversion and slaughter, Judaism remained a seemingly permanent fixture in Europe.

Many referred to this phenomenon as “The Jewish Problem,” the problem being, “How do we get rid of all these Jews?” Bear in mind that this is through the lens of a starkly Christian worldview, where non-Christians were seen as sub-human barbarians (unless they were jumping at the opportunity to convert), and Jews in particular carried the unflattering designation as being the ones who killed Jesus (never mind that Jesus was Jewish, or that he was killed by Roman order in a traditionally Roman fashion… facts never get in the way of a religious person).

Zionism was arguably the dream of many Jews since the 1st century, though it did not take on that name until the 1800s. The idea was that the removal of Jews from areas where they experienced hostility was in the best interests of all involved, and the ideal solution would be to create a Jewish state where Jews could be Jews without the fear of institutionalized persecution, and live in peace and harmony. If that was the goal, Israel has certainly failed in this regard.

It’s important to point out that I fundamentally disagree with these presuppositions. For one thing, I see a parallel between this view and the American idea that was also common around this time (mid to late 1800s), which was that if black people in America were no longer slaves, they should not be free to become Americans, and should be shipped back to Africa.

This idea is wrong at its core. Both Jews in Europe and black slaves in America have no true ties to their “homeland.” There were certainly vestiges of their former culture still present among those populations, but they had no true “home” to go to. Their home was where they lived then, in Europe or America (though there were some Jews living in the Middle East), and the problem was not that they needed to “return home,” but that their real, true homes in the West had to be rid of the prejudice that made the their existence so difficult.

When Britain initially gained control of Palestine, they issued “The British Mandate for Palestine” under the support of the League of Nations (a sort of pre-cursor to the UN). The mandate states that Britain would maintain control of Ottoman Syria (part of which includes the whole of what is now Israel) until the people of the region could govern themselves. An interesting clause in the mandate reads, “…it being clearly understood that nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.”

During this time, Jews immigrated to the area by the thousands, and immigration really picked up with the advent of World War II. As Jews faced heavy persecution in Europe, they fled to any country that would take them. Many nations limited Jewish immigration, or blocked it outright, and Israel was one of the few (and closest) countries that took in Jews fleeing Nazi oppression. At this time, Palestine was essentially a British territory, and Jews immigrated and settled like anyone else wishing to live in the region.

Then things get a little tragic.

Militant Jewish groups began pressing for independence from Britain almost immediately after the end of WWII. Haganah, the Irgun, and the terrorist organization of Lehi (which assassinated the British Mandate Resident in the Middle East, Lord Moyne, in 1944) organized to put pressure (often through threats and violence) on Britain to make Israel a sovereign, Jewish-controlled state.

The British, in response, began placing Jewish immigrants (mostly Holocaust survivors and refugees) in detention camps, in order to stem the violence. Arabs in the region refused to accept a solution that involved Jewish-only control of land that was already inhabited by non-Jewish people.

Britain decided they wanted to withdraw completely in 1947, seeing no possible solution between the Jewish and non-Jewish communities. The newly formed UN decided upon a partition plan that sought to appease both Jewish nationalists and Arab nationalists in the region. Jewish representatives agreed to the plan, Arab representatives rejected it, and Britain refused to enforce it, though publicly accepted it so that they could pull out.

Before any plan to transfer power, Britain announced the day they would withdraw from the region: May 14th, 1948. The passing of the partition resolution sparked violence, especially in mixed communities, where people on both sides lived near each other.

During this time period, it’s hard to determine which side has the moral high ground, though I find the Arabs to have a little more going for them. They were largely the victim of disconnected, uninformed bureaucrats from a foreign land drawing arbitrary lines on the map of a land which they knew little about. Despite Arab protest, the resolution was passed, without any counter-negotiation or even really any consideration given to Arab Muslim opinion.

On the other hand, it may be tough for some to fault the Jewish community with accepting an offer that was so generous, and it was generous. Perhaps in the interest of their own safety, it would have been wise to reject the deal and work towards a more balanced agreement in order to ensure a more peaceful existence in the region, but that isn’t what happened, and we’ll probably never know what events would have transpired had a partition agreement been made that was acceptable to both sides, or even if a single-state solution might have been the way to go (I prefer the latter).

On May 14th, 1948, Israel declared itself an independent nation and acquired its current name. Fighting had been happening among both Jews and Muslims in the streets for months, bordering on all-out civil warfare, with Britain occasionally stepping in to do something. With the British Mandate set to expire and the official announcement of the formation of Israel, war was declared against Israel by five Arab nations (Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen, the latter of which sent no troops; Saudi Arabia sent troops that were commanded by Egypt).

The 1948 Arab-Israeli war lasted about a year. This is arguably the defining moment for Israel, and the outcome is the very basis for my hatred of the nation. Israel engaged in war crime after war crime, and is unapologetic.

Israel guilted West Germany into paying the nation of Israel reparations for the Holocaust in order to fund the war. Israel shot down neutral British reconnaissance planes, which were running missions primarily to document the progress of the war and to keep an eye on their interests in the region, namely the Suez Canal. Israeli troops executed hundreds of prisoners of war. Over 700,000 Palestinians were forced from their homes, many of whom provided no resistance and posed no threat. Some, like those from the villages of Iqrit and Brim, surrendered peacefully and were explicitly told they could return to their homes after the conflict, but were denied this when the time came.

It was an ugly war. The Arabs in the region call it Nakba, which in Arabic means “the catastrophe.” The UN passed resolution 194, stating that refugees wishing to return to their homes and live peacefully should be allowed to do so, and that compensation should be paid for the victims of the Palestinian exodus. Israel refused to honor these measures.

Israel has a long history of ignoring UN resolutions and orders, with the sole exception to my knowledge being the resolution that declared them a nation. Very convenient…

At this point, I could stop. People try to pretend this is a complex political issue, when really it is quite simple. I have laid out all the specifics, with many irrelevant tangents which I merely found interesting, and it all fits into five and a half pages. I could write about one hundred times that much on the fall of Rome.

This is a decidedly simple issue, and it is not “complex” in the slightest bit, unless you consider the fact that there has been a concerted effort to keep Americans ignorant and in the dark regarding these events, because history for Americans ends after we beat Hitler. If I can explain it in a document that can be read in 10-15 minutes or less, it’s not that complex.

And really, the conflict in the region had only just begun in 1948 and 1949 (and I scoff at fools who buy the bullshit that the region has been in turmoil for thousands of years… things were fine until Israel showed up). There was also a Six-Day War of aggression that Israel waged in 1967, which began with surprise air-strikes on Arab targets and ended in the expansion of Israel’s borders. There is also the small matter of continued excessive use of deadly force by the Israeli army in response to comparatively small, isolated attacks against Israeli targets.

At no point in the history of “Israel” as a nation has it ever been justified in what it has done. Even if one argues that defense is a basic human right (though defense of something you steal is not), the manner in which Israel has “defended” itself is atrocious and downright criminal.

My opinion on this matter is not swayed in the least by my views on Judaism or Islam, both of which I see as being dangerous forms of contagious ignorance. And frankly, Israel has actually shocked me in that they are able to make me feel sympathy for a people who stone women to death for the most minor of infractions. That takes a lot of effort, but apparently Israel is not above rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands bloody.

As far as I can tell, there is no hope for peace in the region, so long as Israel remains.

At this point, I should remind you of what the title of my post was:
Why America Deserved – Nay, Begged For – 9/11

I’m not big on catering to terrorist demands, as people would like to phrase it. However, when a people are oppressed and they are given no peaceful means for seeking redress, they will not generally sit around and wait to be given justice; they will try to take it.

Terrorists don’t hate America. Most terrorists don’t know much of anything about America, besides the fact that we fund Israel and that we had/have a lot of military bases in the region. America has actually given in to one of those above demands. Many US bases that were operational before 9/11 have been closed across the Middle East, most notably in Saudi Arabia. Sure, we just opened new ones in Iraq and Afghanistan, but those were post-9/11.

The primary demands of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda were the removal of US troops from the region and the destruction of Israel. Bush himself helped make part of the first demand a reality when we began closing bases, but the second one is something we have just gotten worse and worse with.

The US gives billions of dollars a year to Israel in the form of grants, weapons of war, cash, and possibly even nuclear arms (we are pretty much sure Israel has nuclear arms, and America is probably responsible for this, but Israel manages to avoid any sort of nuclear regulatory oversight because… well, they don’t give a damn about the UN ever since the UN gave them their country).

In fact, Israel would arguably not still exist had it not been for American intervention from the start (US soldiers fought on the side of Israel in many of the conflicts listed above). This is the source for Arab hostility against the US.

Arab Muslims don’t care about US women wearing short skirts and getting educations. Arab Muslims don’t care about our media or extravagant lifestyles. Arab Muslims don’t care what religion people in America subscribe to. Arab Muslims don’t “hate us for our freedom.” Those Arab Muslims who do hold a grudge against the US do so not because of what we do here in America, but because of what we do there, in their backyard.

I can’t fault bin Laden for going big with 9/11. They tried attacking a political target in 1998, when they bombed the US embassy in Kenya. They tried attacking a military target in 2000 when they blew a hole in the side of the USS Cole. America just yawned and never paid attention.

But on September 11th, 2001, Osama bin Laden got our attention. I have to hand it to him; it’s not easy to get all 300 million of us to look in your direction. That takes some serious effort, to draw the gaze of the most distracted nation to ever exist. Every one of us dropped our Diabetes Cola and stared in shock as we realized, “Holy shit… we’re not invincible.”

Bush did a rather artful job of deflecting attention back away from the issues at hand. “They hate us for our freedom” became the mantra. Never mind that we could have saved ourselves billions of dollars a year and absolved ourselves from the crimes that got us attacked in the first place by just cutting off Israel. It was more important to first attack Afghanistan (even though the nation itself was not in any way to blame) and then Iraq (because Saddam Hussein tried to kill Bush’s daddy, and you don’t mess with Texas… or I think that’s the logic).

Did the people in the planes, the towers, and the Pentagon deserve to die? Not especially. But they weren’t innocent. None of us were, and none of us are to this day. We are all still guilty of the crimes our nation commits, and the crimes that our nation aids other nations in committing. We invite violence when we dole it out ourselves with reckless abandon.

In short, we were (and still are) begging for our comeuppance, and I understand why many groups and nations lash out violently against US policies. Even within our own nation, there are those who see the criminality of the US, and the question becomes: are they guilty, too? Am I just as guilty as the idiot Fox News viewer who knows nothing of the events I described above, and sees America only as a noble, unerring, infallible beacon of perfect freedom?

I don’t know if I’m guilty (I’d like to think I’m not), but by continuing to reside in this blood-thirsty, thoughtless nation of war hawks and militants, I must come to acknowledge that I, too, may be seen to be a target, just as much as any other American.

This is a fact all Americans must live with, and it is the driving force for my desire to change mindsets and make this a more peace-loving nation. My efforts do not absolve me of the crimes of my country, but I hope that the combined work of all civilized, war-hating Americans may exact a change that alters our course, away from one that teeters on the brink of violence, and instead towards one that embraces diplomatic solutions and non-interventionist policies.

TL;DR: Americans are stupid and deserve to be treated with the same violence we dole out.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Why I Should Be Allowed To Eat Vegetarians

Please remember, this whole article is tongue in cheek. Granted, I wish it was a vegetarian’s tongue, but still…

Eating meat is intertwined with our physiology. The energy from meat allowed us to develop our brains, and was essential for human evolution.

When I see one of these plant-murdering vegetarian assholes try to lecture someone against eating meat, I have only one instinct: to hunt them.

What is wrong with you vegetarians? What did plants ever do to you? What have plants done to anyone? Plants don’t eat people or animals. Unless you’re eating a salad of Venus flytraps, you’re committing a genocide against innocent organisms that live off the sun, dirt and water.

Why do you vegetarians hate harmless vegetation that never did anything but make oxygen for you to breathe? How does it feel being a heartless, ungrateful piece of shit? People have been killed by pigs, but I have never heard of lettuce so much as injuring anyone.

I, on the other hand, eat primarily animals. Every animal on the planet eats other living things, either other animals or poor, defenseless plants. Animals are parasites upon the land. I try to eat only other parasites, because I respect plants and I don’t mind making that extra effort (I’m talking about long after eating… in the bathroom).

Vegetarians are willfully denying one of the most human activities: eating meat. Vegetarians might be human, I don’t know, I’m not a biologist. I do know, however, that vegetarians are lower on the food chain than me. Ergo, I should be allowed to eat them.

And before you judge me, remember: Hitler was a vegetarian. If I had had my way, someone would have eaten Hitler.

So really, you have to ask yourself, “Do I love Hitler?”

Top Ten: Post Topics I Know Will Get Feedback

10. Reasons Other Atheists Are Wrong
9. Why Someone Who Recently Died Was a Cunt
8. Excuses For Using Words Like “Cunt”
7. My Favorite Offensive Images of Mohammed
6. All Circumcision is Barbaric Genital Mutilation
5. I Should Be Allowed to Eat Vegetarians
4. Hey, I Mentioned You In This Post!
3. I’m a Feminist, but…
2. America Deserved 9/11 [untested]
1. Israel Doesn’t Deserve to Exist

Monday, August 22, 2011

“History Lessons” From Idiots

I consider myself a bit of a history buff. While those around me mentally masturbate to pointless fictional dramas, deriving some sick pleasure from watching fake cops catch fake criminals or fake friends going through fake dilemmas, I find far more interest in reading the accounts of events that actually happened.

Does this make me smarter than the average person? I’m going out on a limb here, and I’m going to say, “Yes.” I’m not naturally smarter, but I have made the effort to be informed, and I tend to have a deeper understanding of the underlying causes of events that happen in the past.

To be fair, I don’t know the names of the characters or actors on any “CSI” show. I am truly stupid when it comes to TV trivia, a trade-off I’m comfortable with.

When you have a different outlook on things, one based on nuance and esoteric information most are not privy to, you tend to get a lot of people thinking you’re stupid, ignorant, nuts, or all of the above. For those wondering the difference between stupidity and ignorance: stupid is something you’re born with, ignorance is something you learn (or more often, the result of what you refuse to learn).

When I get e-mails about my stance on Israel/Palestine, a strange thing happens. Generally, people assume I have come to my decision to oppose the formation and existence of Israel through some sort of ignorance, or worse, anti-Semitism. People feel compelled to explain to me, at great length, the “history” of Israel. I use quotes, because usually it’s not a history, so much as a series of unconnected events used to justify a crime against humanity.

I got one such e-mail the other day. The e-mail was 6 pages long when I copied and pasted it to Word, and the sender was confused as to why it didn’t fit in the comments of my blog, insisting I check to see what the error was, because they tried posting it in many different browsers.

Now, before you question the intelligence of this person based on such a silly thing, why don’t I share with you the pre-amble to this “history lesson”:

Usually I wouldn't comment on a blog post by such a small minded, uneducated antisemite masquerading as as [sic] a morally superior anti-zionist, but I'm in a funny mood so what the hell.

Oy vey… this is going to be a hoot, I can tell already.

I contemplated posting the e-mail in full (without the person’s contact info, of course), but frankly… it’s just too long and rambling. I felt like the whole thing never got to the point, even as I was reading the last paragraph. I kept waiting for the history lesson, for something interesting, for anything new, perhaps some novel argument or angle. But no, it’s the same pre-packaged, freeze-dried propaganda I see out of all pro-Israel clowns.

Instead, I’ll try to cull out of the primary arguments, the same stock bullshit I see on a regular basis when discussing this issue, and I’ll explain why these ideas are empty and meaningless to me.

Perhaps one of the strangest points people make when discussing Israel with me is the definition and origin of the very concept of “nation.” I’m quite familiar with the idea of what a nation is or isn’t, how they came about, and all of that. For some reason, it’s a compelling argument for Jews to say that “Palestine was not a nation.”

I’m assuming this is how the logic works: there was no nation of Palestine prior to the formation of the nation of Israel, ergo, there are no Palestinians who have any claim to the land.

Here’s why this makes no sense: it doesn’t matter if a person is living in a tribal system or a national system. Coming to people’s homes at gunpoint and dislocating them against their will from a place their ancestors have lived for generations is criminal.

It also doesn’t matter that Britain controlled the land and was “legally allowed” to do what they did. You can’t hide behind the mask of Colonialism and pretend that just because everything was done “by the books,” that it’s okay. I would have thought that the Jews, of all people, would be sympathetic to the idea that a government order to carry out an immoral act does not justify that act. Apparently the Holocaust was acceptable, since we have all the paperwork and it was clearly done with full bureaucratic approval…

Except, that’s not how morality works…

So anyway, Nazi comparisons aside, another common argument I see constantly brought up is the persecution Jews have experienced in the diaspora or while in the Holy Land prior to the formation of Israel. I’m not 100% sure why everyone mentions this. I guess I’m supposed to shed a tear and feel sorry for the Jews as a people, and then turn a blind eye to what they decide to do now, today.

This is a pretty piss-poor attitude. “Well, horrible things happened to my people, so I can do whatever I want now.” That is what I hear when I listen to people lecture me on the persecution of Jews while defending the existence of Israel.

I also think, “Yeah, what a great idea, let’s encourage anti-Semitism by telling Jews they’ll never be able to be accepted by other cultures. Instead of encouraging tolerance, let’s ship them all back to Israel. Next step: shipping the niggers back to Africa.”

That’s truly a healthy way of looking at things: let’s ship people we don’t like someplace else. And not just anyplace else, we’ll move them someplace where people already lived, and in the process, we’ll create a whole new population of oppressed people from that general region.

Frankly, I find the very notion of Israel to be anti-Semitic. I see the “Jewish Problem” in Europe being “solved” by a bunch of Jew-hating Western nations shipping their Jews off to the world’s largest concentration camp, conveniently surrounded by people who already hate them. Sounds like a good recipe for Jewish extermination.

Another major argument I read regarding why I should have sympathy for Israel is that Israel is constantly being attacked. These people generally leave out the “why,” and when I ask them why Israel is attacked, I generally get no real answer. The reply I most often hear revolves around “anti-Semitism,” which is the catch-all argument for everything having to do with Jews or Israel.

News flash: the people attacking Israel are largely people who have been adversely affected by the very creation of Israel, or are sympathetic to the victims of these violations. Israel routinely uses excessive force and needlessly kills scores of innocent civilians in their campaign to instill fear in the surrounding non-Jewish communities. Entire villages are decimated because of reports of rocket fire perpetrated by just a few individuals in the area.

The Muslim people in the region have grown to hate Israel, and I would argue that they’re justified in their violent rage. I don’t condone specific acts of violence, but I fully understand that when an outside, foreign people invade and occupy your home, there are going to be plenty of people in the affected communities who fight such a thing. Personally, I would get the fuck out of the whole area and try to start over, but the urge to defend your home is generally seen as an acceptable response to invasion… unless, apparently, those invaders are Jewish and they have UN approval.

It’s strange, really, because people who support these Jewish foreign occupiers ask me, “Don’t people have a right to defend their homes?” When they say this, they always mean the Israelis should have a right to defend Israel, not that the people whose homes they took have a right to defend what was theirs.

These are basically the only arguments I ever hear made. There are other distractionary points hurled from time to time, irrelevant tangents which serve only to muddy the waters. Things like, “The US took land from the Indians” or “Israel is a beacon of Western democracy” don’t address the facts at hand, they are merely meant to veer the discussion off course, because if one focuses solely on the events as they occurred, there is no conclusion one can come to besides complete and utter dismissal of the right of Israel to exist as a nation.

This is important, because as an American, my country’s stance on Israel is just another dark-spot on our history. We funnel billions in cash and weapons to Israel to fund ongoing war crimes. Speaking out against Israel can get you fired in the US, especially if you work in the press. No federal politician dares to speak out, for fear of being labeled an “anti-Semite” or losing out on huge amounts of pro-Israeli lobby cash.

At some point, every sane and rational person is going to see Israel for the travesty that it is, even if it’s decades from now, through the retrospective lens of history. I hope there are still plenty of Jews around then to see the error of their ways.

And one final note: if you can’t make an argument in favor of Israel without using the term “anti-Semitism,” you are a lazy and ignorant debater.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Saturday Reflection #43

When it comes to morality, I am more inclined to do what someone else does, rather than what they say I should do. In this respect, it is a good thing I do not take my moral cues from God.

Friday, August 19, 2011

An Open Letter to All I Have Ever Offended

Hey, how’s it going? First off, I know you probably think this is about you, and it sort of is. However, this isn’t addressed to anyone in particular, while also being to everyone, whether in the past, present or future. In fact, I wrote this and held onto it for months, so I assure you: this is not in reaction to anything in particular.

[Added later: In fact, I am posting this because I just went through all my saved computer files.]

I do a lot of apologizing, and it’s always the same. I figured I could save some time and write this form apology to cover all my bases, especially since something I say may get me killed one day, and I won’t have the opportunity to say any of this in such a situation.

I want you to know there must have been some confusion, perhaps a loss of context, and clearly it’s my fault. I apologize. I had no way of knowing, before I made those inflammatory remarks, that you were a whiny little milksop. Had I known beforehand you were going to piss and moan so much after I made those comments… well, I probably still would have said them, but I would not have stuck around to bother reading the sniveling drivel you left in reply.

But again, I’m sorry you’re such a weepy-eyed chicken shit. It must be tough going through life like that, and I imagine you get a lot of people pointing out what a spineless little piss-ant you are, so you certainly don’t need me adding to the misery that is your existence. That isn’t fair. If I had known what a putrilaginous pudendum you were, I would have obviously had more sympathy. Now I know.

Again, sorry about the whole “being a little bitch” thing you got going on, and I hope you paper-thin skin heals. I only said those things because, unlike your mother, I can’t bear an utter fool.

Let this be an opportunity. Try to allow this be a lesson for you, a chance to learn to let criticism roll off your back. I know you are probably a spoiled, coddled, middle- to upper-class white person (this is the internet, after all). I’m sure no one has ever questioned you or suggested you were anything but an amazing, unique and special little snowflake. I don’t blame you for the shitty way your parents raised you, I just hope you use this as an opportunity to become less of a prat.

And don’t worry, I forgive you.

- Ginx

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Top Ten: Possible Titles for the Leader of China

[It occurred to me as I was about to look it up… I know so little about China that not only do I not know their leader’s name, I don’t even know the name of the Chinese leader’s position. Here are my ten best guesses before I went to find the answer.]

10. Director
9. Head of State
8. President
7. General Secretary
6. Dear Leader (shit... that’s North Korea)
5. Emperor
4. Party Leader
3. Premiere
2. Chairman
1. Prime Minister

Some News

I’ve had about five Blue Screens of Death (BSoD) in the last few days, so I’ve been backing up the important files on my computer. I’m preparing to reformat and re-install Windows and everything else (probably Wednesday). This is why there was no Music Monday, and I’m sure everyone is broken up about it. It would have been Devo, but I got frustrated that their YouTube music videos have disabled embedding, and I couldn’t be bothered to track down other sharing sites while I was backing up files (playing videos was also one of the triggers for blue screens).

In general, I think I’m dropping Music Monday. It was a pleasant distraction maybe a few weeks, but I’m not sure the lag it causes my blog is worth it. There are basically always four embedded videos on my front page, and my wife has commented on that, as well as the fact that posting too often can dilute the content of my site. She thinks this might be why I don’t get as many comments as she does, I think it’s because I’m an enormous jackass to some of the people who comment here. I guess we’ll see…

Today’s Top Ten list and Wednesday Word should be unaffected.

In summary: Music Monday is out, I will be conspicuously absent on Wednesday, and hopefully all goes well and everything gets re-installed on my computer so that I don’t miss a beat in posting.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Saturday Reflection #42

A persuasive poem
By an amateur shows
It's generally best
To leave rhetoric to prose

Last Words on DM

This is the last thing I am writing about DM or the petition to the Montreal Police for a while. Feel free to comment, but don’t feel insulted when I do not reply (it will be tempting, so I just might after some time). It’s not that I’m purposely ignoring anyone, I just don’t give two shits about DM, and it’s ridiculous that I spent the last two days primarily answering to people who think I am defending him.

The police almost certainly won’t stop him from commenting on your blog, your twitter account, or the blogs and twitter accounts of everyone who has ever commented on yours. Maybe they can try, because maybe there is some sort of spam law somewhere (I would be more surprised if there wasn’t), but I doubt these ordinances will be utilized for an online troll.

Really, the best people can hope for is for the specific threats to cease. This might happen, though again, I doubt it. However, I am confident that if the police do anything, ending the threats themselves is what they will focus on. Maybe someone will explain to him that he can’t make death threats, but that isn’t going to stop him from spamming in the comments of hundreds, or perhaps even thousands, of people.

No one likes DM or what he does, but what makes him so horrible is not the death threats. If there are actually people out there who honestly feel threatened, I don’t have any sympathy for them. I feel about as much pity for these individuals as a person who gets worried on a plane because another passenger looks Middle Eastern.

You don’t have a right to be free from fear. No one does. And thank goodness for that. Some of the worst decisions come only from fearful people, from individuals who think that being afraid entitles them to do anything, even if it violates the rights of others. I like to think of it as “Bush logic.”

It’s the same kind of logic that suppresses science, because it “threatens” religion. It’s the same kind of logic used to round up people of various religions, ideologies, races, etc., because they are a “danger” to society. It’s the same logic used to take down atheist billboards for being “unacceptable.”

Suppression is not the answer. What is the answer? Free speech. If you don’t tolerate everyone and what they say (even how they say it), you will simply justify any action you wish to take against those who oppose you. You will label your enemy “intolerant,” and it will be too tempting to adopt the views that, “I tolerate everything but intolerance.” Then, you no longer see the person, you see “intolerance,” and you have dehumanized them enough that you feel comfortable doing anything you want.

I advocate tolerating everything except violence. That’s the line I decided to draw, because I don’t see a world where speech of any kind can be censored as being better than a world where all ideas can be subject to being labeled “threatening.”

I’ve said this many times before on this matter, but it’s the ultimate reason for my stance: today it’s DM, but tomorrow it could be atheists, or feminists, or liberals, or conservatives… or anyone. This isn’t a slippery slope, it’s a precedent. There is nothing good down that road.

Rethinking Some Clichés

I don’t want to say I have a unique perspective. I’m much more modest about it. I think of it more as… I have a warped view of things.

Sometimes expressions we use all the time just don’t make sense to me. Sometimes I feel like I can fix them, other times I think they should just be thrown out. But no matter what I determine, I can expect the same result from the rest of the world: zero notice and no actual change. It’s kind of like arguing politics, only its clichés and I’m by myself.

“Old as dirt.” Sure, some dirt is old, though very old dirt is “rock.” Some dirt is very, very new. Anyone who has ever composted knows you can make dirt that wouldn’t be old enough to enter kindergarten. I would suggest “old as rock,” but volcanoes make new rock all the time. So frankly, I’m at a loss on this one.

When times are tough, people might say, “it’s a dog eat dog world.” I think this is basically false, unless you’re Michael Vick.

I don’t like it when people say, “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” Talk about obvious. Everyone knows money comes from a “cash cow.”

It kind of bugs me when someone says, “What’s he been smoking?” If you can’t tell the difference between someone who has been smoking marijuana and someone who has been smoking crack, you’ve probably been smoking both.

“When push comes to shove” supposedly means when a situation gets more active or intense, but push and shove seem pretty much the same to me. Why not, “When push comes to punch?”

My parents used to talk about their early life without kids as, “before you were a glimmer in your father’s eye.” I never thought about it before, but does this mean my dad had semen in his eye?

“To chew someone out” means to angrily chide someone, but it sounds like what you call it when a girl who likes it rough wants oral sex. I prefer “telling someone off,” which can also be misunderstood to be a type of sex, this time with a someone who likes dirty talk.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Threat Guide

Threats have been in the news among atheists circles lately. DM is accused of making death threats on many atheist blogs (and really, he did not allegedly do it, he does make threats, quite regularly, including on my blog), and Fox News notoriously racked up many death threats in the comments of the story about American Atheists suing to remove the WTC cross. So, as a helpful guide to society and DM, I have compiled a simple classification for discussing death and torture fantasies.

I’ll start with the most severe. A direct threat, like, “I am going to eat your tongue,” are not legal in any jurisdiction that gets internet (see local ordinances, I am not a lawyer, but I assure you, there is the possibility for prosecution). It is highly recommended you never use these threats in writing, or speak it near any sort of recording device. Saying these things can get you in trouble if someone who is having a bad day, or has a grudge against you, sees it.

Then you have calls for violence. “Someone should kill Justin Bieber” is completely illegal. Even though every single one of us has thought it, actually writing it down in, say, the Youtube comments of his video, is technically illegal, and possibly even a terrorist act (from my understanding, he constitutes 35% of the Canadian economy). “Kill all Eskimos” is technically hate speech. Calls to incite violence against a group is, like everything else so far, totally against the law.

Finally, we reach some legally ambiguous stuff. Qualified threats, or a threat to react to a certain action, may be legal or illegal, depending upon the situation and law in your area. “Tell me to shut up again and I will rip off your balls and shove them down your throat,” is a quintessential example. This is sort of ambiguous, but is probably illegal, and it becomes more clear if the threat is over something inane, like, “Look at me again and I will skullfuck you.” That is totally out of the question in civilized conversation. “Sleep with my daughter again and I’ll shove my foot up your ass,” is generally a bit more socially acceptable, though obviously uncomfortable (by the way, the correct response to that is, “Yes, sir…” trust me…).

Then you have statements that are not really threats, so much as douchebaggery. “I wish you would keel over from a stroke” is a classic example. “I hope God gives you prostate cancer” is another. These are basically violent fantasies shared with others, like all the rest, only you remove outside human action from the equation. This is the most common loophole for avoiding the “threat” label.

For example, saying, “Someone should shoot that infant” is totally illegal, as is, “I hope that baby gets shot.” However, “I hope that baby gets SIDS” is fine.

Hopefully this has been both educational and confusing, since you may have learned something, and I’m sure it baffles you as to why such a post is even necessary. It is not, but it was something I had never seen before, so I took it upon myself to give it a whirl.

Feminism is Obsolete

Now that I have your attention…

Women have a long way to go before they are treated as equals in America. They don’t get paid enough, most maternity leave policies in this country are a joke, date-rape is actually winked at by most in law enforcement, abortion is under legitimate attack in many states, and the list goes on. The problem is, feminism has run its course, and it is time to retire it so we can usher in a movement that can finish the job.

There are two glaring problems with feminism, one linguistic and one cultural.

The name “feminism” is not very inviting to men, and that’s putting it politely. I can proudly wear a dress in public in front of people I know, but I cringe a little at calling myself a feminist from time to time. I agree with feminist goals, but the name is just not doing it for me.

I remember the first time I would say I was ideologically exposed to feminism. It was in a Junior year English class in my high school, and the teacher was explaining feminism in literature. She spent a good length of time fielding increasingly hostile questions from male students, most of whom took issue with her definition of feminism. I raised my hand and asked something to the effect of, “Does it have to be called feminism? Why not gender equality?”

I think by that point she was just sort of tired, so I got a smirk and a nod, and some flippant comment about how that might be more fair. Seeing her basically get bullied just trying to explain feminism sort of cemented my empathy for the movement from then on.

In fact, I married a feminist, a bona fide, professional feminist. I mean, she’s a professor of sociology, but I like to think of her as a professional feminist, though I still don’t like feminism as a whole.

And really, what does it matter?

'Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a [feminist].
What's [feminism]? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a [wo]man. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet […]

If it was name alone, I would say that men should just sack up and climb on board the feminist-train to Equality. The problem is… a few feminists are sometimes really annoying cunts. And I mean that in the crudest possible way.

Seriously, I have slagged off plenty of individual feminists for being absolutely repugnant human beings. Some women in feminist communities are just man-haters, and if you have a Y chromosome, they treat you like you’re Rush Limbaugh. There is no pleasing some of them, and the small minority who engage in this sort of behavior make feminism a very hostile setting for men (thus ruining the reputation of feminism unfairly). No guy wants to fight for the rights of someone who is accusing him of flaunting his privilege every five minutes.

Yes, I get it. I have a dick and I’m white. I honestly had nothing to do with it. I’m not sure what you want me to do about it, but you should know that while you were barking that lecture at me on the “evils” of my gender, you started developing some foam around your mouth. I’d get it for you, but I don’t want you to think I’m trying to rape you, since that seems to be the only thing on your mind.

There just isn’t any self-policing in the feminist community, and why should they? They are facing tough odds, and the last thing you do when outnumbered is start kicking people out. The problem is, from a long-term perspective, it would be better to shed the extremists in favor of wooing men into the cause.

So, I think feminism should be relegated to the status of an archaic social movement that is kept alive by whackjob extremists. We’ll call it a success and just acknowledge it’s time to move on.

My wife likes the term, “Equalitarian,” and I am inclined to agree, but I don’t think the specific name is as important as the goals. As long as no male or female designation is attached, I’m sure it will be fine.

As for what needs to be done in this “new” movement (I guess academics might see it as another wave of feminism, so be it), I think the primary aim needs to be including men in the gender debate, and for women to make a few concessions.

First of all, men have been butted out of feminism, so they’re bound to be rough around the edges. Don’t misinterpret ignorance for hostility.

Second, you need to stop shaming men for their gender. You won’t hurt our feelings (our egos are way too big for that to be possible), but you will drive some of the less patient among us to pontificate at great, boring length… and no one wants to deal with that.

Third, women need to give up some of their privilege. Women should have to register for the draft, and if a boat is going down, I want an equal chance on the life raft. Prostate cancer research funding should at least equal breast cancer research funding, and if we can figure out how, I think women should give men some extra years on our life-expectancy… I’m being told that the last one is impossible, but frankly, that’s just how I negotiate.

Basically, I don’t think there are many advantages women have to give up, but maybe putting a few on the table would drum up some support for what are more meaningful measures in the other direction.

Ultimately, women have done their part. With the support of men, I think it's possible to see an end to systematic gender discrimination in America, then it will be down to individuals. It’s really up to men to catch up at this point.

Ladies… please… *wheezing* slow down. I’m so out of shape… no wonder you live longer…

My Engraved Invitation to Dennis Markuze

I just wrote about how I don’t like joining atheist groups, and I was reminded yet again of why I don’t read most atheist blogs. Apparently, with all that’s going on in the world, it seems really important to some people to try to use the Montreal police to harass a known anti-atheist commenter.

Dennis Markuze also uses the alias David Mabus, and is [un]affectionately known by most atheist bloggers as DM, or “that annoying, grammatically challenged, mentally deranged spammer.” If you’ve blogged about atheism for over a week, you’ve probably deleted some of his comments.

Rather than just ignore him and continue deleting his spam, additional steps are being attempted by some atheists (I’m not going to publicize who, but again… if you’ve blogged about atheism for any length of time, chances are you can track her down… hint, I link to her from my website, and she goes by the title of “Blag Hag,” which is honestly an awesome moniker and makes me want to change mine to “Blag Fag,” just because I love self-deprecating humor).

Basically, atheists are petitioning to have Montreal police… do what, I have no idea, exactly. Jen, the originatorfilled up with Fox News commenters.

What’s more, I see campaigns like these as being nothing but free advertising for this guy. This is exactly what he wanted, for atheists to feel scared and threatened, and he has undoubtedly achieved more internet fame than I ever will. If anything, the lesson from this is: if you want your message out there, make lots of violent threats and people will give you all the attention you crave.

Of course, there are more important things in this world than attention, even if simpletons like DM can’t see it. And who am I to judge? This very post is essentially the same thing as the petition: attention. But here’s the rub: I don’t care if DM gets the attention he wants, because attention is free and he obviously needs it.

So, in honor of the petition to harangue DM using the Montreal police, I am no longer deleting DM’s comments from my blog. Dennis, you will always have a safe place to rant here. I can’t assure you that anyone but me will actually read it, but still.

So, DM, how about that interview you promised me via e-mail?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Top Ten: People I Can Safely Mock On The Internet Without Offending Them

10. People without internet access
9. Infants and toddlers
8. Chinese citizens
7. Non-English speakers
6. Illiterate people
5. The Amish
4. Scientologists [Lawsuit pending]
3. Blind people
2. Dead people
1. Myself

Atheism: To Organize or Not to Organize

That is the question. I don’t think it’s a question for atheists as a whole to decide, but is instead one each individual must ask him/herself.

For me, it’s been rather simple: as a general matter of practice, I don’t associate with groups. It’s hard enough just identifying as an atheist for me… I can’t personally imagine gaining anything from surrounding myself with other atheists and counting myself as “one of them.”

I have read Christians and believers in other religions talk about how the most bitter and angry responses often come not from atheists, but from fellow believers. And it’s not just Protestants and Catholics going at each others’ throats; it’s Protestants damning other Protestants, and Catholics condemning other Catholics.

These people are basing their beliefs off the same book and overall dogma, and yet they still can’t get along, so I don’t hold out hope for finding any kinship with other atheists as a whole. Atheists have no common ideology beyond a rejection of gods… oh wait, we don’t even have that.

This is not to say I can’t identify with other atheists, but I am just as able to identify with a Christian or a Buddhist or Odin worshipper (I even had an acquaintance who was a Moonie). If you consider that I am undoubtedly going to differ from someone in some way, it might as well be on a matter as inconsequential as their stance toward the gods.

After all, there are Christians who are pro-abortion socialists. I don’t really care that they agree with me politically for completely different reasons (like, that people should be allowed to sin or that America is a Christian nation, and Christians are called to help their neighbor). For me, it’s all about “what” you believe, not “why” you believe. You can’t fix anything with good intentions, and plenty of good things have been done ruthlessly.

So ultimately, I don’t feel any need to make the precondition for meeting someone the fact that they don’t believe in gods. This is not to say I am not glad there are atheists out there networking and exchanging ideas. There’s no “but,” either. It can only help me if people are working to make life easier for atheists, and I guess part of accomplishing that is forming an organized group. That stuff is just not for me.

For me, part of atheism is not associating myself with other people based on my theological opinions. This isn’t an inherent part of atheism, merely a characteristic I have associated with atheism. That is the nature of atheism: it is what we make of it.

And by “we,” I mean atheists. I see the religious spending a strange amount of time making claims about what atheism is in blogs, lectures and what not. Oddly enough, in all of this pontification, they usually do not even correctly identify the one thing that atheism is (or, at least what it should be, according to its literal meaning).

But why would Christians know? There’s so many atheists out there saying so many things, it’s no wonder the picture of “what atheism is” has become a muddled mess. But I think that is what atheism ought to be: flexible, inclusive, the sort of things a religion is not.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Music Monday: The Foo Fighters

My favorite band of all time was Nirvana, so of course I’m a sucker for the Foo Fighters. They have produced some of the best rock hits and music videos since the 90’s.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Two Dudes: Cross

Apparently ripped off from Bill Hicks:

Thanks to FigMan for keeping me honest.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Saturday Reflection #41

I hate the term "”ROFL.” I never actually see anyone “roll on the floor laughing” in real life, except after telling a joke while walking with someone in a wheelchair.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Secular Case For Plural Marriage

There is no legitimate reason to place a limit on how many spouses make up a household. That is a fact I hope you keep in mind, in case you find what I have to say here crazy.

Whenever I mention the topic of plural marriage in one-on-one conversation, I tend to get strange reactions. For one, if I haven’t talked to that person about religion before, they think I’m Mormon, especially if they know I don’t drink alcohol or coffee or tea (which are facts much more likely to come up than religion is).

What’s strange to me is that bringing up polygamy causes the conversation to quickly swing towards pedophilia and rape. For some reason, people can’t separate the idea of polygamy from concepts associated with predatory marriages. There’s nothing unique about polygamy that would single it out for abuse, besides the fact that it was pushed underground and is therefore unregulated.

One man can marry one woman against her wishes when she’s too young to know better, or through an arrangement with her father, without the need for plural marriage. It happens already, and I don’t see the people who react so harshly to plural marriage taking a stance against such practices in the current system of monogamous-only marriage (which is not to say people condone these things, they are just conservative, traditionalist do-nothings on most issues, probably out of sheer laziness of thought and action).

What’s more, I do not support a male-dominated model. Women should be allowed to have multiple husbands if they want. Hell, I imagine there’s more need for a woman to have multiple husbands than for a man to have multiple wives. The only reason a man could conceivably want more than one wife is for sexual reasons, most of them related to child-bearing or the discrepancy between male and female sex drives.

But in point of fact, we as a society don’t need families with dozens of kids, and if we’re going to get lewd about it, at least a woman with three husbands has a hole for each one during sex. If anything, I’m more inclined to not allow men to take extra wives, because from what I understand, there are far more men who are terrible at sex than there are women who are, so what’s the use in one guy having a whole harem of women to disappoint?

Anyway, why not allow multiple spouses? In these tough economic times, the more paychecks coming into the household, the better. Two couples could conceivably combine resources and afford to have one person stay home to handle housework and childcare, while three people worked. Or, the fourth could even work from home or part time. There is undeniable efficiency in combining resources and sharing a common home and budget. Two or three families can afford a higher standard of living as a single unit than they can individually.

And who knows... given Obama’s utter failure of a presidency and the current Republican frontrunner, this just might be a reality as early as 2012.
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