Cruz Sucks Anew    (2015Jul20)

Monday, July 20, 2015                                             1:03 PM

It seems that Ted Cruz’s stupidity goes unnoticed in the shadow of Trump’s monkeyshines. This morning I heard him say that he would defend ‘religious liberty’ for those being persecuted for their belief that marriage was a sacred institution between a man and a woman. I assume he’s talking about how horrible it is to ask a Christian to make a wedding cake for a gay couple.

But if you’re in the cake-selling business and you don’t serve gay people when they ask for a wedding cake, that’s bigotry, not freedom. If you don’t serve any group, for any reason, the way you do others, that’s bigotry. We have the freedom to believe whatever we believe, but we do not have the freedom to make our religious beliefs part of our business policy. If we did, the shop aisles would run red with blood from the stonings, the beheadings, and the crucifixions. And if they were honest about it, these ‘religious freedom fighters’ would hang a sign outside their shops that says, “Christians Only”. If they’re against anything non-Christian, then why would they serve Jews or Muslims or Buddhists? Doesn’t an altogether different religion trump a difference on a single point of protocol within the Christian faith?

Not that I wouldn’t put that past Ted Cruz, in his heart of hearts. The fundamentalists only attack gays as the most vulnerable target—and (this is important) the least likely to impact their revenue stream. They really are against other religions just as much as they’re against gays—but they can attack the gays without it being attached to a specific religion. As if gays are just evil incarnate (a sentiment I’m sure they feel quite genuinely, if quietly).

But Cruz skirts around the central issue of freedom—inclusion. He confuses inclusion with permission. America certainly includes Christians—even Ted Cruz can’t deny that. But he tries to make the case that denying Christians permission to force their beliefs on others is somehow exclusion—it isn’t—any more than we exclude gays by forcing them to serve Christian customers along with the rest of their businesses’ patronage.

Cruz is slippery—his stupidity is in his cleverness in trying to make a wrong a right. He can talk all day, but bigotry is still bigotry, even if you claim it as a ‘religious freedom’. His attempts to glorify ignorance are impressive, but he’s still not stupid enough to pull ahead of Trump in the GOP polls. I still remember when you shut down the whole government out of personal pique, Ted, and I ain’t gonna forget it. You suck.

It’s been said that religion is just an excuse—that the fighting in the Middle East and elsewhere all stems from more mundane motives: real estate, racism, greed, lust for power, etc. When fighting localizes down to Muslims of different sects, the mundane motives become inextricable from the differences of scriptural interpretation—just as they did during the European wars sparked by the Reformation.

There are very few saints among the believers—they are just as human as we atheists. Some of them secretly are atheists—a concept which should give pause to the atheist-hating fundamentalists—shouldn’t they be more afraid of the undeclared atheists in their midst? But, whatever. My point is that sometimes religion is used as an excuse—not always, but people under duress will sometimes reach for an answer. Worse, it is entirely possible that a ‘great religious leader’ is actually an insincere manipulator, using religion to further his quest for influence or dominance.

While such abuses are not the norm, they are also not unheard of. Thus even when we accept religion as the root cause of certain global aggressions, we still have not pinned the specific causes down with any great accuracy. Just as religion takes many sub-sects, all religions can be used to justify a variety of actions in a variety of ways. As many decisions are based on a limiting of piety as are based on a surfeit of it. If we apply these uncertainties to the virtually infinite spectrum of religions, we find that the only real compass for our motives is a gut understanding of the difference between good and evil.

If religion were the root of conflict, wouldn’t atheists be obliged to be the most pacifist humans on the planet? Well, I can assure you that we aren’t any better than the faithful when it comes to acting in good faith. There are just as few saints among the atheists as there are among the believers.

I think the root of all conflict is the will to fight. When a person has no sense of justice or respect for the peace and property of others, that person will commit injustices. That’s the bad kind. When people are oppressed to the point of feeling the need to strike back at their oppressors, they will fight. That’s the good kind. But once the fighting starts, all players play by the same rules.

And once the fighting stops, there will always be casualties calling to their loved ones for vengeance. Vengeance is a temptation, but it is also our greatest enemy. Many wars, ongoing and long-ended, are still being fought in the minds of those who loved the casualties or lost their homes—and will never fully end until the thirst for vengeance is foresworn. But how do you ask someone to lay that burden down?

The intermingling of politics and religion in America is a great danger to our government—but it is a greater danger to religion, and I’m surprised that more religious leaders don’t see that. America has always walked a knife edge, carefully deciding where faith will be spelled with a capital ‘F’ and where faith is spelled lower-case. The attempt to merge faith and government has innate hazards—the same hazards that drove the first colonists here, followed them, and plagued them anew, splitting off new colonies to accommodate the emerging sects of Protestantism. Ultimately, the American colonists adopted a policy of separation of church and state (and this was long before the Revolution) as a matter of practical need. Even the most staid religion is too amorphous to be a guiding principle of government—only justice can be counted on for universality of application in civil matters.

And justice sometimes has to be fought for. I tell myself that this is why America tries to inculcate world peace by having the most powerful military. And that is the true conundrum of war—it’s not about religion—ultimately, we can only hope for peace while fighting against injustice. The trick—and we seem to have lost the knack of it, if we ever had it—is not to compound the injustice being fought with the ways in which we fight it.

And that’s a thought worth considering, if your atheism is of the virulently anti-religious sort. Don’t be a carbon-copy of Ted Cruz for the other side—be better than that jerk, no matter which side you’re on.

As Stupid Does   (2015Mar02)

Monday, March 02, 2015                                 4:36 PM

I showed my twenty-six-year-old son something I wrote yesterday—he told me he’s tired of reading criticisms of the GOP. Then it struck me—what a perfect tactic. Do something unbelievably stupid or say something unbelievably harsh every single day, and people will get tired of hearing all the outrage it engenders. It’s foolproof—which is lucky, since we’re talking about conservatives. The only problem I see is that they’re destroying the world and everyone in it. I don’t understand—why is that their goal? Are all their prejudices and fears really so valuable that the end of the world is their preferred alternative?

Oh, they’ll tell you that’s ridiculous, that they’re just trying to defend American values—but what right do they have to use words they clearly do not understand? Plus, they’re lying. How do I know? You know the answer—their lips are moving. Part of the new Stupid craze is believing you can lie your ass off—blatant, incredible, dangerous lies—and no one will notice. Plus, we can now pretend that science is a matter of opinion. Darwin, Einstein, Hawkings—all pretty smart people—where does a high-school drop-out get the cojones to stand up on his or her hind legs and howl their ignorance in the face of true intelligence? Sheer stupidity, that’s where.

We live in an age of wonders. Idiots have stumbled on a way to discredit intelligence and deny knowledge. What a through-the-looking-glass concept! And I think I know the reason for its sudden appearance in society—computers. Before computers, pencil-necked geeks were just pencil-necked geeks. The stupid jocks who beat them up got little satisfaction from it—they remained stupid and the geeks were still getting straight A’s. But once digital tech began to make geeks into super-stars and millionaires, the stupid majority had to put its foot down—intelligence has no value—it can’t and it never will, they cried. Thus, climate-change-deniers, evolution-deniers, holocaust-deniers—people by the thousands with their heads neatly tucked up their asses—but happy that way.

And we see a resurgence of fundamentalism—the world champion of stupidity. We see it in Europe, with the return of anti-Semitism. (How many times do we have to go over this, Europe? Any vague memories of last time? What the hell?) We see it in the third world, with the rise of Derf, or IS, or “book-no” haram. (It’s just my opinion, but I think you’d all prefer food, schools, and medicine—and think of all the fatigue of sledge-hammering our ancient history into oblivion. Is that really helpful?) And we see it here at home, where we’d rather have our kids mown down by lawfully-purchased firearms than let them catch a glimpse of two men kissing on TV. Men kissing? What a nightmare! “Get yer guns, boys—these sickos need to be dead.

My current theory is that money makes people stupid—and guess which political party is preferred by the rich? We all know how many people are super wealthy in the USA—one percent of us. So how does the party of the rich get support from fifty percent of the population? Masochism? Self-loathing? Or is it sheer stupidity? In the majority of cases, these people don’t have two dimes, but they American Dream that someday, they will—which makes them just as stupid and selfish as actual rich people. Or more so, if you consider how willfully and willingly deluded they are.

Part of the problem is that people are too sensitive about their smarts—someone posted something incredibly stupid on Facebook the other day, and even though she’s a friend of mine, I called it by its true name. She was incensed that I called her stupid. She missed the point—I was calling her post stupid. But she didn’t even consider the pros and cons of her narrow-minded meme; she just got pissed off because someone called her stupid. I would have been more diplomatic about it, but stupid ideas, like her meme that day, are destructive and dangerous. To me, it was as if she shot someone and got mad for being called a murderer—it’s not the insult that takes priority. Or is it? Maybe I’m the one who doesn’t get it. But at least I don’t post racist, exclusionary, misogynistic, fundamentalist bullshit on Facebook.

And, more importantly, I will never post or say or rant about anything in a way that encourages other people to do violence or practice hate—and that doesn’t mean I’m against freedom of speech—I’m just against misuse of freedom of speech. ‘Freedom’ implies that the choice is left to the individual—it doesn’t mean that you should abandon your own good judgment and say whatever the hell springs to mind.

Speaking of Freedom of Speech, let’s talk the Koch boys—they’re so crazy about it they want to extend it to money as well as words. Fine—I’ll tell you what the Koch boys’ money is saying. It’s no complex frigging mystery. It’s saying they are greedy and selfish—just the same as anyone else who has a ridiculous amount of money and doesn’t feel any obligation to spread it around. Sure, they’re probably ‘philanthropists’, but that just means they’re spending their money to influence others and to take tax breaks in April—it’s not the same as giving it away, free and clear. To them, that would be madness. That’s how greedy and selfish they are.

So, should you vote for a Koch boys candidate? Not unless you’re greedy and selfish enough to have a few billion dollars in your own bank account. See? Their money doesn’t have to say a word—we can take it as read. And how should we interpret the Koch boys’ support of the GOP? Well, birds of a feather, of course.

The way I see it, money talks plenty loud enough as it is. Try dissing your boss—what? No freedom of Speech all of a sudden? How’d that happen? Is your paycheck talking to you? Well, we have to be practical—food on the table first, freedom second. But should we actively support politicians who champion the rich and powerful? Should we purposely go out and vote for more restrictions, even more influence than the rich already have? I can’t imagine why. Maybe I’m too stupid. Uh-oh, guess I got to join the Republicans.

The Republicans, however, are running into a little trouble with the Stupid Stratagem. It seems that stupidity can be obstructive to more than ones enemies. John Boehner, whom no one could accuse of being a nerd, is apparently not stupid enough to lead his party—they demand someone even more idiotic, like Scott Walker. I wonder if they can achieve a stupidity-singularity, wherein intelligence or information once again become relevant? Maybe that’s their plan. Genius!

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