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  1. TheBluegrassSkeptic

    Burger King And Politics

    "No truly dedicated human being would stay with someone that sexually abuses others." "I wasn't happy about Bill Clinton's sexual harassment charges and affairs in office either." "Why would someone wait until an abuser is running for office to come forward? It's fame. S/He wants fifteen minutes of fame." I want to address the first statement from a Trump supporter's interview on CNN earlier this week. Honestly, this one is the most difficult to deal with, not because it's horrible to think that someone would stay with anyone known to have been predatory with other human beings, but because it reveals the humanity in HRC. Yeah, I said it. She's human. HOLY FUCKING SHIT! I've broken the internet. And this isn't an excuse. I'm just stating the obvious that HRC seems to try to hide or avoid discussing publicly. Not the affairs of her husband, but the rationale she employs in relationships, the motivations that drives her to make a relationship work, and why she seems so impersonal to the world about her very human experiences that would reveal her vulnerabilities. Some say her remaining with Bill was to further her political career. That could be true. It could also be true that she truly enjoys her humanitarian work (I know, there are some poor decisions that have cost lives too), and recognizes that same fact in her husband. I have little doubt they are at the minimum close friends, people. C'mon, there is a camaraderie there that can't be ignored. Also, there is definitely a passion within her to push for betterment of society and living in some sectors. We see she has chosen to make do with what she has. We employ our personal standards of rules for relationships to her life to try and understand her because she is giving us nothing to go on. And yes, I think in the public life, that is a huge flaw. True story. My father is a sexual abuser. He is an emotionally abusive man. And he would physically abuse me at times while I was a child, not just to punish me, but to release a lot of pent up frustration. My mother was unaware of his sexually abusing me, as far as I can tell, until I told her when I was sixteen years of age. She couldn't claim ignorance of his physically abusive rages as many times she would have to intervene and pull him off of me at times. She couldn't deny the tears of guilt, shame, and sadness from when he would drive her into the ground with words from his lips either. Yet, she remained. Much like Clinton, my mother doesn't discuss my father's abusive behaviors. Much like Clinton, my mother minimizes the damage done, or scuttles away the hurt with excuses about his childhood. And exactly like HRC, the veneer my mother has painstakingly shellacked over the image of her family remains spotless.....in her mind. This persistent need to not show vulnerability is exactly the chink in her armor that is glaringly obvious to everyone around her. I think HRC is aware of this, but isn't capable of processing it. If I hadn't been around this type of behavior from my own mother, I would be perplexed like the rest of America. This vulnerability doesn't make HRC incapable of leadership though. Quite the contrary, as with my own mother, HRC has many truly notable successes under her belt alongside her failures - like many of us do- though not many of us will be at such a high level of authority in our lifetimes either. Again, this is not a plea for you to vote for HRC, this is simply a perspective I take into consideration when weighing the public image versus the person away from the microphone. The next area I want to tackle is the this whole "You think Trump is bad, look at what Bill Clinton did to women while in office!" All I have to say on this matter is that it would seem to me if you were pissed you found out after Bill Clinton was elected into office the nasty things he did to women, then why aren't you glad you are finding out about it now with Trump and will be saving us millions in tax payer dollars to avoid impeachment and lawsuits? Share the same level of outrage, do not minimize the trauma of others to benefit your personal desires. To do so makes you as bad as HRC's supposedly staying with her husband to save her political career. Seriously. Pot meet kettle. If Bill's abuse of women is serious enough to never want him in office again, then why put another sexual predator in the Oval Office? And lastly, the fifteen minutes of fame argument. The problem isn't that many victims of sexual harassment and abuse wait what appears as a lifetime to come forward with their revelations. It isn't a problem that for many years they kept their suffering quietly to themselves and one day finally cracked open their scabs and let the pain come flowing out of the wounds again in public forum. The problem is that when these victims were abused, they looked in the mirror afterwards whispering over and over for many decades later,"It isn't that bad. I've seen worse." The problem is being programmed to immediately compare one's suffering to a social bar of acceptability and not personal self. The problem is we are not allowed to own our suffering in the public eye, or even have it recognized without being put on a litmus scale of public opinion. We are victims of not just our abusers, but our peers' standards of what is considered the acceptable course of action if one is victimized. Victimization knows no sexual identity, age, creed, or pain process. It is truly the most personal of all experiences in this world that can fairly be compared to no two snowflakes being exactly alike. Trauma never has a standard order of procedure. When women come forward during contested political seasons, or men reveal that they were pressured into horrible situations with upstanding community members, instead of looking at their coming out as suspicious timing, consider this: Maybe seeing their abuser's face all over every form of social media is a cruel flashback that is the catalyst they need to finally process their victimization and understand that it was THAT bad, and it is the WORST they have personally ever experienced. Which in itself, is very traumatic. Some find this realization angering, and they blast their anguish loud and clear for anyone that will hear, while others will simply file an anonymous lawsuit, wanting the public to be aware, but not wanting to have their pain politicized. At the end of the day, we all share a lot of traits with HRC. We minimize certain facts or news that disrupts our world view in an unpleasant way. We try to preserve our self image, because to not be secure in self is uncomfortable. I look at the POTUS race as a job interview for a CEO position. I care about personal life issues up to a certain point. I worry more about education, qualifications, experience, and work related professionalism. Some say HRC has been in politics far too long to effect any change, and that if she were truly going to change, then show the proof throughout her career that she has pursued change. I agree to some extent on this mindset. Career politicians will always leave me with a pessimistic attitude. My worry is that without a career politician who understands how government actually works, then that outside candidate will be completely taken advantage of by the hundreds of other politicians who know the system. If you want change, you have to change all levels of government. And to do that, you have to change the mindset of society to not act like those who are currently governing them. Maybe start with a willingness to accept standards outside your own. It is possible to accept that your standards are not the golden rule for an entire nation. I would really push to stand by unwavering empathy, and finally quit moving the goal posts to fit your views. I say it all the time. The political realm isn't a Burger King. You can't have it all your way. Find a candidate who is like you: someone who needs intimacy, empathy, and love. These traits require compromise. Make that the standard in your worldview, in your society, and you will make that a standard in government to be proud of, not a sign of weakness. You will encourage trust between government and the populace that allows for dialog. When we hold impossible standards to meet, almost to the level of saintliness that many of us abhor in the secular community, how can one expect personal honesty?
  2. TheBluegrassSkeptic

    Secular Rage Quit Syndrome

    The past few weeks, with the onset of Summer and seemingly aggravated like insects by climate change, many incidents of straight up assholery has permeated all manner of news. It could just be an intensely socially focused political season, but I still think we are animals in our behavior. This has been especially felt by me in the secular community, where activist networks have been tearing each other down. Yes, I realize that this isn't new, but it seems more intensified. Maybe because many involved I've actually worked with, or have networks of close friends in common. Bottom line is that this rash outbreak of everybody raging has arrived on my doorstep. I don't know if this is the Trump effect in action- considering any press good press, or if fellow writers and podcasters have just gone off the deep end the last few months with their need to reinterpret what secular, humanist, and atheist qualifications are. The amount of litmus testing made me wonder if anyone cares about being a rational family anymore. Now before I go into a much needed venting on my part regarding all the audio and written dramas lately, I need to put out a little disclaimer for the sake of those affiliated with me. Lately a bad case of "guilty by association" has been passed around too. What I speak on is my personal opinion as the Bluegrass Skeptic blogger. This isn't anything to do with my friends, family, or podcast crew members. Don't worry though, I don't need to announce there might be triggers, butt hurt, or NDA's. And feelings shouldn't be hurt with what I want to express here, unless you seriously just want a fight. I highly recommend you take yourself out of the equation for the next few paragraphs while I express my thoughts on the matter. I also don't plan to name drop. If you want free press to show off divisive behavior, this woman won't be a platform to get it. To the point of this article, these past few months we have all witnessed intensified animosities among members across many communities, but I have felt the hurt within the secular activist community most acutely. The drama of Reason Rally announcing rules for behavior and the fall out that ensued was terribly timed, as were some of the reactions by attendees to those who disagreed. My attitude at first was along the lines of allowing people to rage quit and continue on with what is planned. But then more incidents started pervading my news feed, my inbox, and chat conversations with friends and associates. Lately, I feel like someone who has to pick a side within church politics. You know, that awful scenario where a pastor's direction for the congregation leads to a split, and no matter who you side with, you know you are going to lose part of your community you cherish due to requirements for allegiance and alienation of the dissenting party. Worse, your character is assassinated during the fall out by the party you didn't side with because there is no way you should have picked the side you picked. That proverbial line in the sand in many cases leaves bystanders like myself stuck in no man's land. Fellow writers, bloggers, podcasters, activists, and listeners, this is atrocious and below our diverse secular communities standards. This type of emotional extortion for loyalty does not serve as a unifying tactic to elicit agreement or compromise. It's an exclusionary maneuver that rivals the community politics you find within the faith communities we work so hard to be a healthier alternative to. Naively, at the beginning of this article I said I wouldn't name drop, but the RFR versus Godless in Dixie debacle is a bit too infamous to cloud in anonymous naming. I mean, it is a more followed soap opera in our community than Days of Our Lives at this point. You have money, deception, betrayal, power hungry interlopers, and NDA's supposedly layered so thick, I doubt anyone in the organization remembers if they are even allowed to say their organization's name any longer. 'Cause you know, the first rule of Fight Club and all that. This situation is an upsetting issue to even bring up. I'm friends with members on both sides of the dispute, have had the depths of my allegiances questioned, have been assessed as to whether I should be allowed to remain in “the know”, and personally have been told I might be too much of a risk to keep connected within certain circles. This was very insulting, emotionally distressful, and downright wrong. I'd considered flipping that situation around completely and instead alienating all the parties involved for even attempting to elicit a choice of sides from me like that. On one side, I have an organization offering services in a desperately needed sector of secular humanism – outreach for those struggling with religious programming. Recovering from such brainwashing is seriously taken for granted in the atheist community, and RFR is putting a louder voice to this issue's need for recognition. On the other side of the table you have a very talented speaker and author who has lived through what RFR is trying to help individual's navigate: recovery after belief. GID is a positive public figure who puts in the flesh what many hide from the rest of the world. This is invaluable on so many levels for those unsure or hiding their disbelief. This is a dream union in the making, right? Apparently not. Due to financial politics, and demands for allegiance within RFR's board, their rich pool of contributors and spokes people are splitting from one another. Regardless of what one did to the other, this partnership has made personal reputation and self-defense priority over larger goals which has caused a polarization in the secular and humanist communities overall in regards to supporting either party involved. Seeing hashtags followed by team RFR or GID is upsetting. I am not waylaying the right to receive funding owed, or dismissing the demands for certain details to be kept private in order to preserve organizational credibility, but at what cost? Both sides have lost my own personal support on some levels because the bigger purpose of supporting ex-religious members has been overshadowed with cries for party allegiance. This is unacceptable. Just a head's up to those involved, I won't be promoting anyone at this point and work with another organization who is trying to do what all of you have sidelined. It is true business is as usual from the front for the most part, but the toxicity of the back office has colored my desire for product. My only advice is take the initiative, any of you in that hot mess, and hash your shit out with arbitration. Not in public postings, podcasts, or any venue where those who are not direct parties to the conflict might be exposed to it. I am not saying exposing one another's misgivings and abuses should be hidden or completely unspoken. I am saying that average consumers have little need for such exposure to inner workings and as drops in funding have shown, it's detrimental to the long term goal of your organization: helping people. When you focus on face saving, you don't save face. You don't help anyone involved, including all of us consumers out here. You just raise questions of credibility of the mission. And that makes us go elsewhere. In the public realm, even with those hanging on every non pertinent post about surprise podcast questioning to public shaming for defending one's reputation, we, the audience, do not care about personal drama. We just want to see the fruition of our support, which is effective outreach. Flame wars burn your fans more than those being targeted. And on the topic of flame wars.... This past week I was catching up on a couple podcasts (imagine actually enjoying my medical leave for a few hours!), one of which that ended with me unsubscribing, hoping to never listen again. I rarely unsubscribe from shows I have in my daily line up over difference of opinion. I count on differences because perspective helps balance out my personal perceptions. But this was more than a difference of opinion I encountered, it was straight up character assassination, under the guise of doing me, the listener, a favor by revealing who the scumbag, bullying, cool kids are in the humanist activism community. And if I didn't agree with this podcaster's determinations of people that he even declared he didn't know or wanted to know, then obviously I am part of the larger problem, being happily fed by these alleged scumbags on that which I want to hear. Essentially, my own character was being assassinated too, because by the podcaster's personal standards, I don't know what humanism truly is if I don't see things his way. Can we not go down the Atheism + path again? Don't misunderstand me, though. Like with RFR versus GID, I think you don't have to hide the issues, but presentation is important and should be thoughtfully planned. Have your differences, air them in a useful manner. When you refer to a long list of people with a long list of ad homs, focusing on how they are using their audiences, don't care about their audiences, dismiss their activism as not truly humanistic (no true Scotsman anybody?), and announce they are scumbags, and then have the audacity to brow beat the audience you claim to love if we don't share your view? You come across as a pastor emotionally bullying his congregation. Please take this kind of hypocrisy back to the church where it belongs. One friend in particular made this scumbag list of bullies that are disingenuous and fame hungry. Again, the podcaster calling out my friend said he didn't know her and didn't want to. This doesn't make logical sense in the process of rational thinking. It's not a very humanistic one either. To decide that one person's opinion on a matter should be enough to dismiss that person in his/her entirety under the guise of practice being a “true humanist” is cognitive dissonance by the podcaster's own definition of what humanism is. In the skeptic community, humanist community, and even the faith community, one would be hard pressed to not go a day without recognizing cognitive bias every half hour. We're wired that way thanks to our frontal lobe conflicting with our emotional primitive bits. Lost? Here's an example: That podcast called my show stupid. Personally attacking me like that is not cool. Here is a list I made up of people that are scumbags and bullies. (This is not a literal quote.) I understand this particular podcaster felt that other shows had different motives for success in activism. He also kept bringing up the money factor and how those who get larger amounts of money from supporters tend to drown out the small fries. Unfortunately his argumentation involved only ad hom, false cause, appeal to emotion, tu quoque, and appeals to an authority who couldn't be disclosed. There is a burden of proof to be met here for his claims. And frankly, when declaring that no true humanist would disagree with him? I felt like a personal standard of humanism was being applied to all. This podcaster was being as inflexible as the doctrine of Christ. You can't expect to be taken seriously when treating all parties involved (including your listening audience) as sheeple if they don't agree with your opinion. Anecdotal evidence does not a compelling argument make. By the end of the podcast, after being told I am contributing to a larger problem (I guess fake humanism?), that a large majority of popular skeptic activists are using me and don't care (pot meet kettle, buddy) and that humanism doesn't allow for facetiousness, disingenuity, or excessive success, I realized humanism doesn't mean what this podcaster thinks it does. Humanism doesn't need to be ruined with Atheism + standards. You don't have to be humble at all times to be a humanist. You don't have to forsake pride in what you do. You don't have to support members of your community that don't have the same standards as you, and you certainly do not have to sink to the depths of ego and personally slander those who don't agree with your standards. And most importantly you don't have to step up and be a champion of humanity at all times. And you certainly don't have to feel bad if there are certain areas of humanity you just aren't good at helping with. There are 7 billion more people in this world who are willing to help take the lead. You know what you can do though? You want to tout a badge of humanism, then stay above the levels you accuse others of instead of wallowing in it. This podcaster was rolling in the same mud puddle as the rest, but had the nerve to claim he wasn't in the mud puddle. When you add personal bias to a standard in the proverbial line in the sand, and essentially condemn people if they don't come to your side, without rationally and fairly figuring out your own biases, you aren't just alienating your community, you are living in a very padded cell of personal apologetics while rationalizing away your illogical disagreements. When you start creating poorly founded and completely unrepresented standards to be considered in your personal network, you might as well go sit in a church pew. I'm sick of these kinds of attacks among one another. Just because someone initiated it does not mean you go down to such an immature level. I watch everyday transwomen being booted out of feminist, women only groups because they aren't "women" yet in the genital department. I see leading role models like David Silverman reply caustically and without care for members who disagreed with Reason Rally's focus on LGBTQ and Trans issues, instead of being a leader and helping dissenters understand that standards have to be met to insure safety of all since even the secular community has major issues with sexism. My own friends even practically turned on me on my birthday this week. I was telling some friends of mine yesterday over a lunch of sushi that I don't mind Donald Trump. You'd thought I'd signed up for the KKK and planned to work for Westboro Baptist Church. It took no less than half an hour of knee jerk name calling, heated assurances to calm down, and a barrage of degrading word salad before these two dear friends of mine came off the edge of incredulity. No, I don't mind Trump. I find his method of campaigning fascinating. I've read up on him over the past year and colorful doesn't begin to describe this guy. But he'll never get my support or admiration. The simple fact that I didn't hate him, though, had almost turned my friends against me. Fortunately, they have a flexible appreciation for how perspective works. They admitted they don't know shit about Trump, don't want to and agreed that it's not fair to hold me to the same standards for not sharing the same vehemence against our orange faced Dr. Evil personified. Inflexibility and doctrine purity (in this case humanism) is an alienating mix. This pick me or you're an ignorant skeptic type of demand doesn't make a community unite. It doesn't encourage us to re evaluate the party being opposed, but treat the one trying to divide as suspect. How about demonstrating directly how harm was caused by these “scumbags”? Could this podcaster explain whether I can be a scum bag or not if I haven't harmed anyone? What's the standard for being a scumbag anyway? Presentation without cognitive dissonance coloring this podcaster's whine would turn the presentation in to a much needed talk about the real issue within humanity itself: hypocrisy and how much damage it causes when behaving no better than the supposedly fake podcasters you claim have attacked you. This type of behavior proves only one thing: You don't care about what you are trying to convey, or you would not duplicate the same scumbag behavior. Stop the emotional violence. Instead of being sour grapes about others' seemingly atrocious behavior fueling their success, do something about it and not treat the ones you love, the audience, like pawns in games of popularity. Personally? I want to take my ball and go home because these types of games aren't any fun. I just want my gang back, to feel part of a functional community of diverse like minded people. Differences are healthy. Disagreements do not have to divide us. Debasing one another is atrocious. Think of your family first and how compromise is a wonderful attribute to being secular. We're allowed to be flexible without surrendering our individuality, and I'll be damned if any group, or individual, will force me to conform, allow myself to be dismissed, or worse, abandon me. Family doesn't do that. Gods do.
  3. Going to be a fun night on political issues. The esteemed Alan M. Gold, funny man Joe Dixon, and my opinionated self will be having a discussion of the 2016 elections, issues surrounding it, and how we see the impact of the years to come with a new president from our current selection of terrible options. Catch it tonight!
  4. TheBluegrassSkeptic

    The Reality Of What Tragedy Really Does

    So, today is that day in my lifetime's history that garners specific attention to the catastrophic events of September 11th, 2001. The common descriptive phrase I hear being used is "another day that will live in infamy." Myself, it doesn't have any catchy phrases or memorable quotes attached to it. I never fell into the hype that surrounded that day, and I think my own personal misgivings about the events that transpired was set ablaze by the absolute selfish hysteria I saw the rest of our beloved land fall into. I remember vividly the shock of the images playing across our office's large television screen in a conference room we never used. Having just bore my third child exactly eight weeks prior, when seeing such destruction and then stunned by the sight of another plane fly into a building right before my eyes on national t.v., my first instinct was to go home and hold my child close. Still, the four of us that made up our small corporate team sat there, watching in disbelief, flabbergasted into complete silence. Within twenty minutes, I watched cameras zooming in, sharing the most intimate moments of victims' lives as they started falling, even jumping, from the blasted out windows of the buildings they were trapped in. Seeing them drop, often head first, down the many stories to the rubble below, was heart wrenching and peaceful all at once in the midst of the chaos that had erupted around them that morning. There is no imagining the mix of emotions that must have been leading up to and during the follow through with such a decision. It makes me wonder if the individuals that did fling themselves from the destroyed buildings had believed in some type of deity or another. I realize there are many who contend that these victims were either thrown out or so blinded by smoke and flame that they had dived out thinking they had found a cleared doorway to safety. For the purpose of this discussion, I am eliminating those two possible factors. There have been numerous occasions where folks have purposely flung themselves to their demise in situations that were hopelessly futile and this is a mind set I want to focus on here. Yes, there are a lot of assumptions in this blog, so please bear with my ambling around, through, and within the issue. So, I am sitting there with my coworkers, watching people falling from these wrecked buildings (at this point in my life, I'm skeptically agnostic). Seeing individuals dropping off burning buildings was a very new experience for me. I'd never witnessed desperation played out live before my eyes. As some who have read many of my previous essays on here know, I'm not unfamiliar with pain and suffering, still this was a game changer for my perspective on reality. Naturally, I immediately sympathized with the situation these doomed people were faced with, and felt incensed at the spectacle being made of their decision on national television. My coworkers, on the other hand, were dismayed at the victims plunging down the sides of the building amidst smoke, paper and other clothing raining down with with them. Two were outright incredulous and disgusted at the jumpers, not the camera crews filming. "What are they doing?" "Why would they do that?" "God forgive them. I think another one decided to jump! Look at that!" The last line is particularly chilling to me. Automatically assuming these men and women had turned into unforgivable sinners for jumping to their deaths instead of choking on smoke or burning alive? These statements further highlighted, in my own mind, the sharp divide between Christians over whether one is saved by grace or saved by action. Personally, I was raised on doctrine that espoused saved by action. I was routinely fed the whole multiplying of talents bit, though I never truly bought it since it didn't make sense that you would ask this deity into your life and then, in order to keep his favor, you had to follow rules that seemed to constantly conflict with one another or couldn't be applied consistently. I was a very literal child, to say the least, and had a very difficult time interpreting the same biblical rules five different ways depending on the situation. And this is the exact mind set I still possessed when listening to my fellow peers' commentary regarding the events streaming to us live on 9/11. Turns out, the one who made the forgive them comment was a Catholic, which, while explaining a lot, still disturbed me greatly that day. How does allowing oneself to die of smoke inhalation, or being crushed by a flaming building all around them, demonstrate more faith than someone who makes the choice to welcome death sooner? To me, the show of faith seemed equal. Still, the judgement passed by onlookers that day seemed to question to what extent one must seek martyrdom when faced with a situation resulting in severe injury or certain death. Is it really God's will to expect suffering in the worst way imaginable when in the middle of a disaster? Or is it the constant comparison to Christ's own martyrdom that fuels this type of religious scrutiny against those that suffer? Who is it that is truly demanding such levels of penance to be necessary? I think it the practice reeks of selfish ego resulting out of a very sick and twisted jealousy. My own upbringing had taught me that those who take their own lives have sinned, no matter the situation, and that they would face judgement for their actions, ultimately receiving a lesser reward in God's kingdom. Essentially, it was disgraceful to take your life, no matter the situation. But whenever someone died, it seemed members of my church focused on how much the individual suffered prior to dying. Sisters of our congregation would prattle on for hours over how many hours they sat by so and so's bedside during their final hours and describe in great detail every needle prick or surgery complication that further delayed their death painfully. So, to my point of this rambling blog entry. The day of the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and Shanksville tragedies taught me a very important lesson: Step back from the horror and observe the many ugly facets of humanity that are drug out into the light of its aftermath. There wasn't only Islamic extremism showing its ass to the world that day. In the hours, days, months, even years to follow, the hypocrisy of the Christian Right came charging out from the closet, with their political machine in tow, pushing a sick agenda similar to the Red Scare of the '50's. And, it seems it has been a successful push. The groups of Christian extremists have managed to gain traction and now have stronger footholds in our government once again. Groups like the Tea party or the Christian Liberal party have provided doorways for members of these minority splinter groups to have a legislative voice in arenas deeper inside the congressional halls of Congress-- literally in the Senate committee offices. They have more than just lobbies now. They have Super PACS and corporate sponsors who buy their candidates. To me, this is the equivalent of Hezbollah or the Muslim Brotherhood's own successes in becoming legitimatized political parties within Middle Eastern governments. The idea that the American Family Association could ever get a sponsored candidate into office seemed ridiculous twelve years ago, but not anymore, and it is a frightening reality. The Muslim Brotherhood managed to get Morsi in, and look at the turmoil Egypt has now found itself in thanks to the extremist policies his government rammed down the citizens' throats. This is a day of remembrance for me, but not so much because of the large number of lives lost and injured. Today is a reminder of how all tragic events, big or small, should not cause us to jerk our knees in hysterical abandon. It should be a call for calm analysis and healing. A lesson in continuing our lives day to day by allowing ourselves to think outside our carefully constructed boxes that have been over insulated by special interest groups and doctrine tainted patriotism. Much like the act of those who opted to take control of their fates that day, we must do the same in our own lives. Hurling ourselves from the proverbial towers our nation has forged out of disillusioned patriotic ego over the past decade. Letting the tower crumble under the weight of misguided fear it has represented instead of reinforcing it with further misconceptions about the world around us. Allowing ourselves to end the cycle of Cold War Era demonization of other cultures and nations to justify our selfish wants. One must learn from this tragedy, and many others we have experienced, that while the threat can be very real, retaliation and preemptive prejudice will not prevent others from harming us, but instead make it more likely we will be struck again.
  5. I really think a lot of good points are brought up about the ridiculous nature of how religious beliefs are being observed in governmental policies that affect everyone, including the non-religious, and how the candidates are touting this fact. Hell, Santorum insisting that abortion is "legal" only because of the Supreme Court.... Ummm, isn't that what the Supreme Court does? Interpret the law and judge accordingly? This nut job would rather I stay home, work in the kitchen, and pop out as many babies as I can, regardless if I can afford it financially or PHYSICALLY. Sheesh, what has this country's voters come to? You have the religious traditions of mutilating our children via circumcision...and I mean male or female. I'm sorry, but if 10 different countries have their medical associations do studies, and all 10 either say it isn't recommended unless demonstrated medically or that they question the practice but do not want to infringe on other's belief systems, WHAT DOES THAT TELL YOU? What gives you the right to force YOUR belief system on a child? Let them decide for themselves what they want to believe! I understand it is impossible to completely leave a child's persona completely devoid of our own observances BUT we can foster an environment of open opinion and practice. Who am I to tell my sons that I had their foreskins chopped off because that is what everyone else was doing, or because that is part of our culture's belief system? Does that make it right? To mutilate their bodies in the name of what I personally believe? I don't think so. How about if I let a Mohel literally suck the blood off the tip of that newly forced wound? In the name of God? The same for piercing of our daughter's ears in infancy. What if your daughter grows up and believes that such piercings are a desecration to her body? You can never make her whole again for what you did. Here's a fun fact! Did you know that here in the United States female genital circumcision/mutilation isn't illegal? As long as the female is over 18, it can be done. Now think of all the cultures (including Christian orthodoxy), that emigrate over here with young teenage daughters who do everything they are told to do. Think of all the families that aren't immigrants, but citizens for generations, that live here, and their daughters do as they are told. Including having their most intimate of regions cut off in the name of purity? How are we still living in this Dark Age? I live in a secular home. Some of my children believe in God, some do not. I support either view as long as no one is being overly aggressive. Basically, the ones that believe in God are welcome to pray, attend church, share in fair debate. IF I hear any "You are going to Hell", "You aren't going to enjoy life without God", etc., I have to kindly and sometimes forcefully ask them to hit the mute button. Why? It's emotional abuse. Period. I am not walking around my house telling them they are idiotic for believing in an idol. I don't even have a comment on the subject unless we are watching the news. THAT is fair game for both sides of the table. We agree to disagree. It's not rocket science. Right now, in the United States, we have limited abortion rights. I do not see a problem with this. Just like my views on mutilation, there is a line to be drawn as to how far as a parent we should be allowed to go in decision making, but do we need to take it overboard and make contraception hard to obtain? I find that religious/cultural beliefs blur the line between observance of life and general idol worship. I understand that many feel life is sacred in all its forms, including as just the ingredients of eggs and sperm. BUT, that's not universally accepted. That line of belief comes from cultural/religious practices and has no place in governing an entire nation that doesn't follow that same belief system. To tell me that I am not allowed to have access to contraception because YOUR beliefs dictate it is wrong to prevent conception is absurd. We are a nation of many beliefs, we can't impose them on one another federally. I say leave it to the states to decide, and they can reap the consequences of residents moving to a different state that is more ideologically appealing. It's a losing battle for the religious to take it to the state level, and I know that is why I am now being federally bullied.
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