30 July 2012

Latest WikiLeak's Infantile Stunt: Fake OpEd Designed to Shill for Money

Wikileaks. Even the name of the organization raises my blood pressure.  From releasing files filled with the names of people who agreed to talk to the United States Government in confidence, to the frankly hypocritical views of Julian Assange about his personal privacy verses the privacy of the hundreds of people he outed.  Now this:

It looked like a legitimate New York Times op-ed, with working links to other sections and house ads for the newspaper. But a column allegedly authored by former Times executive editor Bill Keller on why media organizations should defend WikiLeaks was a fake. 
Keller cleared the air Sunday morning: “THERE IS A FAKE OP-ED GOING AROUND UNDER MY NAME, ABOUT WIKILEAKS. EMPHASIS ON “FAKE. “AS IN, NOT MINE,” Keller tweeted (caps-lock his). 
WikiLeaks claimed responsibility for the deceptive op-ed, tweeting: “Yes. We admit it. WikiLeaks (Assange & co) and our great supporters where behind the successful NYTimes banking blockade hoax on @nytkeller.” 
Keller added that he alerted the Times about the fake post, and he assumes the paper will “look into whether any of our systems were compromised or any of our copyrights violated.” 
Assuming the WikiLeaks tweet taking credit is not itself a fake, Keller said the episode raises another question: Why would an organization focused on establishing credibility boast of making something up? 
“When Jayson Blair got caught fabricating, it was — rightly — a major scandal. WikiLeaks does it and it’s, what, okay?” Keller said.

This whole thing is simply infantile.   If their intent was parody, they failed pretty dramatically.  If their intent was to raise attention to their cause, there were plenty of better ways of doing it.  No, this was an intent to put words into somebodies mouth out of at best spite and at worst a desperate attempt to raise money.

I know my disdain for WikiLeaks is often in contradiction to much of the Freethought movement.  Part of it is my background.  Seeing large amounts of military data, the release of which could compromise any number of on-going operations and cost NATO service-members their lives won't win you any respect in my book.  Another part of it is my dislike for the organization's leadership as a whole.  Despite all their pretensions, I can't see them as anything more than attention-hungry prima donnas.  

But even if you're a supporter of WikiLeaks, I can't see how you could support this particular action.  Even if you support the aims of WikiLeaks, this action can only hope to make the organization look that much worse.  It's certainly not going to help free up any funds; it will encourage quite the opposite reaction. Of course, what's annoying is the focus on the NYT Company.  Regardless of any ethical lapses or poor reporting they may have had in the past, that doesn't excuse somebody taking an equally bad action in response.

Christian Television Network Children Show Host Planned to Kill, Eat Children at his Church

You know, low budget children's shows are always creepy.  But trust the Christian Television Network (CTN) to take it to the next level.  Take this video, for example.  This is an excerpt from Joy Junction, a puppet show on CTN performed by one Ronald William Brown:

So, what makes it more creepy than the already creepy nature of a puppet show?  Brown was just arrested on not only child pornography, but also conspiracy to kidnap, kill, and then eat one of his church's congregants:

LARGO — Child predators are described as the stuff of parents' nightmares. But no parent would dream of the acts federal authorities say stoked the imagination of Ronald William Brown. 
Brown, 57, lived alone in the Whispering Pines mobile home park in Largo, a professional puppeteer with a soft, Southern-accented voice and thick eyeglasses. He often served pizza to kids in the neighborhood, then drove them to services at Gulf Coast Church, where he was an active congregant. 
But there was another side to Brown, according to a 29-page criminal complaint filed July 20 in federal court in Tampa: The man who, as he was feeding pizza to teenagers, nursed fantasies of murdering and eating them. The one who acted out Bible stories with puppets at his church, while musing online about carving and cooking the body parts of a young parishioner for Easter. 
"I imagine him wiggling and then going still," Brown told an associate in an Internet chat session, describing his plot to kill and cannibalize a boy at Gulf Coast Church, according to the criminal complaint. 
On Friday, Brown was arrested on charges of conspiring to kidnap a child and possession of child pornography and booked into the Pinellas County Jail. U.S. Department of Homeland Security agents who searched his home found lewd images of children bound and gagged, a flier for a missing child and "images of children that appear to be deceased." 
According to the affidavit supporting the criminal complaint, Brown told agents that he and Kansas resident Michael Arnett, another alleged child cannibalism enthusiast, "did discuss killing, dismembering and eating" a specific boy at Gulf Coast Church. However, Brown said "it was just a fantasy and he could never and would never hurt anyone."

You would have thought that CTN would have placed a greater focus on one of their children's host.  Besides the fact that he was interacting with minors on a frequent basis, the very fact that he was appearing on children's television would have made it much more easy for him to convince a child to leave with him.  Now, as the article points out, it's difficult to identify sexual predators like Mr. Brown because they have no criminal record, but surely things happened on or around the set of the show that should have peaked somebodies interest.  And perhaps, from that perspective, the idea that a godly man can't be an immoral man is shown once again to not only be a mistaken, but one that can potentially do a lot of damage.

Why am I posting this story here?  It's certainly not because it's creepy.  There's enough of that in the world to go around, and I don't feel the need to dwell on it.  Nor is it because I think Christianity necessarily had anything to do with this, just as Joseph Stalin's atheism had little to do with his reasons for murdering so many of his own citizens.  There's no evidence to support such findings.  Instead, I'm posting this story for two main reasons:

1) Though relying on anecdotal evidence alone is an obvious logical fallacy, anecdotes DO help focus people's attention before you actually break into , like the under-representation of atheists in prison populations* or the results of Dr. Marc Hauser's exploration of the trolley experiment.  Like it or not, to reach some people you're going to have to start out with a concrete example, then expand from there into the evidence if you ever hope to get through. Of course, if you don't bother to provide any evidence to back up your claim, then you're no better than the hundreds of piss-poor religious apologists that are rattling around out there.

2) I'm going to go ahead and take bets, depending on how much traction this story gets, as to how many people come out arguing that Brown is No True Scotsman, or that atheists are that much worse, or some other nonsense.  Hopefully I'll be wrong, which would be nice, but I'm not holding my breath.

*If you roll out this statistic, however, be prepared to deal with two common responses.  First, you'll hear the argument that the number of atheists are under-represented because people pretend to be devout once they're jailed to influence their parole boards in a favorable direction.  I hope you see what's wrong with that response.  The second response you'll hear, even from atheists, is that there are more religious people in prison because there are more people from disadvantaged (and therefore religious) economic backgrounds in prison.  The unfortunate reality of this, however, is that increasing evidence indicates the correlation between socioeconomic status and criminal activity, once correcting for factors like police emphasis, is actually quite weak.

29 July 2012

Today's Fundamentalist Derangement Courtesy of Matt Barber

From Right Wing Watch:

Homo-terrorism: After Batman shooting, pray no harm comes to MD marriage-protection signers whose names were published by @WashingtonBlade.

Homo-terrorism, huh?  Can we expect suicide glitter bombings?  Victim-operated pride parades?  The passing of coded messages in Lady GaGa albums?  Hell, maybe we'll see them blowing up medical centers and murdering doctors.

Oh well, maybe we'll see gay groups passing along money to political organizations abroad who want to make homosexuality a capital crime.

...damn, wrong again.

In a way, I feel bad* for people like Mr. Barber and his peers in the religious right.  At a certain level, they have to realize how much the violence and intolerance they're projecting into the public forum is making them look to ordinary, decent Americans.  Of course, if they actually realize how morally bankrupt it's making them, they couldn't hope to admit it.  It would ensure that they can't rake in money and adulation from their ignorant followers.  So their only hope is to try and make the other side look as horrible as they are.  

Perhaps another interesting take on this tweet is that its nothing more than run-of-the-mill projection.  Taking all those violent feelings that are socially unacceptable to be open about and then projecting them onto the targets of your own intolerance.  

The problem with both options, of course, is that it makes them look that much more foolish.  Either way, in a hundred years it'll be items like this that appear in history books talking about that embarrassing period in our history where large numbers of our fellow American's actively campaigned to deny people equal rights.

*Just kidding!  I don't actually feel bad;  I'm a decent human being after all.

28 July 2012

"Of fusions and humanists" OR: I Just Participated in Another Pharyngula Podcast

As was true last time, participating was an absolute blast.  Each and every member of the panel was eloquent, knowledgeable, and contributed greatly to the discussion.  I just hope I didn't come off as *too much* of a rambling idiot.

Plus, according to the Youtube comments, I pissed off a 9/11 conspiracy theorist, which is always great!  It's also like shooting fish in a barrel, but what are you going to do?

Tampa Strip Clubs Ready to Cash in on GOP Convention; Cite Promise Keepers Convention as Evidence

This was funny enough that I just couldn't let it go by without comment.  From the New York Times:

As Tampa gears up for the Republican National Convention, the biggest party it has ever held, the city and its businesses are primping and polishing for the August arrival of tens of thousands of visitors. Like it or not — mostly not, for city officials — Tampa’s well-known strip clubs have joined the welcome wagon.

Angelina Spencer, the executive director of the Association of Club Executives, which serves as a trade association for strip clubs, said an informal survey of convention business in New York and Denver had determined that Republicans dropped more money at clubs, by far.
“Hands down, it was Republicans,” she said. “The average was $150 for Republicans and $50 for Democrats.” 
As further evidence of the clubs’ nonpartisan appeal, Don Kleinhans, the owner of the 2001 Odyssey, said when the Promise Keepers, a male evangelical group, came to town years ago, business was rollicking.
“We had phenomenal numbers all weekend, and they walked in wearing badges and name tags and weren’t shy at all,” he said.

First off, strip club owners have a trade association?  I shouldn't be surprised, I suppose.  Gotta make for an interesting round of icebreakers at parties.  "Oh, what do you do for a living?"

Second, so much for the family and community values plank that the evangelical community is usually pushing for during the convention.  To steal from their own parlance: physician, heal thyself.

Third, and finally, I love the part about the Promise Keepers.  Here's one of the promises they pledge to keep:

Promise 3: A Promise Keeper is committed to practicing spiritual, moral, ethical, and sexual purity.

I guess that they're just going in to spread the good news, right?  It couldn't be that they're massive, sexually repressed hypocrites.  Backward, bronze-age mythology couldn't possibly do that to somebody, right?

But perhaps we can expect to see them hitting the club circuit this election for another reason.  To quote from a particular section of their FAQ towards the end:

Does PK use Mormon speakers? 
No. As a Christ-centered ministry, Promise Keepers takes the privilege of choosing speakers for our events very seriously, and we enter into each decision with a great deal of prayer. Promise Keepers extends invitations only to those speakers who believe in Jesus Christ and who are committed to sound biblical instruction. Our ministry chooses speakers based upon their agreement to provide a message that is relevant to men, while adhering to and agreeing with the Seven Promises and our Statement of Faith. 
The beliefs of the Mormon Church are inconsistent with historic, orthodox Christianity and the Promise Keepers Statement of Faith. 

I guess this convention is going to be pretty hard for the ol' Promise Keepers considering its final event will be this guy accepting the nomination.  Maybe they'll need a place go drown their sorrows.

Now, I don't have a problem if they want to go visit a strip club.  It's a free country, and they're welcome to do whatever they please (so long as its legal and with a consenting adult).  But please, if you're a Promise Keeper and you do decide to go to a strip club, don't you dare lecture me about sexual morality.

26 July 2012

Bad Catholic, The Oatmeal, and Indignant Responses

This morning, while lounging around the house, I decided to see what was new on Matthew Inman's supremely funny web-comic, The Oatmeal. After a few clicks (the author has some great comics) I ended up on one in particular, entitled How to Suck at Your Religion. Like much of the work on The Oatmeal, it’s really quite good.

Later on, while perusing (read: obsessively monitoring) my Facebook newsfeed I noticed a Catholic friend of mine had posted what I thought was a direct link to the comic. It turns out he was instead linking to a popular Catholic blog, Bad Catholic, which resides on Patheos’ Catholic channel. Now, despite possessing a pretty good sense of humor (the link to his email is prefaced with this note: “All death threats will be disregarded unless written in iambic pentameter” – awesome!), he unsurprisingly took issue with the comic. There were a few parts of his response I take particular issue with.

One of the biggest parts I take issue with is his faulty response to The Oatmeal’s accusation that religion gives people weird anxieties about sexuality. To quote:

No, it doesn’t. You know what does give people weird anxieties about sexuality? The current (oh-so-secular) sexual culture. We’re looking at 1 in 5 women having been raped, 1 in 3 reporting sexual abuse, 1 in 4 teenage girls contracting an STD, 2/3 of pregnancies unplanned, untold millions addicted to pornography, 63% of married women reporting they’d rather be watching a movie than having sex with their husbands, and the general degradation of the human body into an advertising, money-making machine.

Now this is not to say that a false view of Christian teaching can’t screw up your understanding of sexuality. Sure it can. This is simply to point out the obvious: The current, prevalent, secular understanding of sexuality has undoubtedly screwed up many, many people.

I’m not about to absolve our national culture of responsibility for some of our problems. We obviously have a problem with rape, teen pregnancy, and sexually transmitted diseases. These are all problems, and it would be asinine to deny that they aren’t. But placing these problems squarely on the lap of our supposedly "secular" culture is either profoundly ignorant or intentionally misleading.

First, we should start with the the STD and pregnancy statistics.  In this regard, the religiously conservative, to include the Catholic Church, have absolutely no right throw stones.  After all, much of the problem lies at their feet.  Is it any shock that our teen pregnancy rate, the worst in the industrialized world, is the most concentrated in abstinence-only states?  The link between reduced teen pregnancy and comprehensive sexual education isn't just supposition, it's a consistently proven fact.  Now, Mr. Barnes is also the author of the incredibly disingenuous 1Flesh site, which is dedicated to perpetuating long-standing myths about contraceptives.  Claudia, a blogger on Friendly Atheist, has done a phenomenal job responding to this site, as has Hemant Mehta the blogs owner. 

In short, you cannot condemn our "secular" culture for STD and pregnancy rates, then turn around and peddle the kind of flawed approach that abstinence-only education bases itself on that is responsible for those very problems.  And I haven't even touched the contemptible damage that this kind of dogma causes once exported to the developing world.  The work of religious missionaries in Africa, and their constant anti-contraception advocacy in Africa should be recognized as one of the contributing factors to the spread of the HIV/AIDS epidemic there.  Forget teen pregnancy, this kind of aversion to contraception is literally killing millions annually in Africa and elsewhere.

Second, I have no doubt that elements of our modern culture has helped immensely to contribute to sexual assault rates.  The problem of the rape culture in our society is well document, and is one we in the secular community have to face and face aggressively.  But to excuse the role of dogma from all spectrum's of Christianity play in maligning sex out of wedlock is to ignore a major source of those problems.  So long as one views sex as only permissible within the confines of marriage, one will inherently malign all those who choose not to follow that frankly outdated approach.  How many times have we seen people in our society casually dismiss women as "sluts" just because they've had multiple sexual partners while unmarried?  Stigmatizing sex outside of marriage doesn't help with that; quite the opposite.  And it is that very concept that leads people to explain away rape and embrace that very same rape culture.  After all, if the victim had just been more virtuous, she would have been fine!  But nooooo, she had to have the audacity of exploring their sexuality; she egged the rapists on!  It's infantile, but pervasive, and the constant stigmatization of sex helps foster it.  If we want to wipe it out, we must so too wipe out that stigmatization.

His post continues:

The basic tenet of Christianity’s teaching on sexuality, that sex, as a physical, chemical, biological, emotional and spiritual bond is a) best saved for the willful and promised bond marriage, and that b) it is both unitive and procreative and should be treated as such. If this gives you anxieties, there’s other issues going on. 

No, there bloody-well aren't other issues going on.  Sex is a natural, physical activity that should be best left to two or more consenting adults.  Sex doesn't have to have an emotional or spiritual bond.  Sometimes it's just fun, nothing more.  Now, its an absolutely important component in marriage, to be sure, but the Catholic stance that people shouldn't have sex before marriage certainly doesn't help with that.  While it is an individual couples decision to choose if they want to have sex prior to tying the knot, I certainly recommend against it.  While abstaining obviously works for some couples, going into marriage without first having sex means that you're going into said marriage completely blind to a very important aspect of your union.

I don't want to be mistaken as focusing my criticisms on Catholicism exclusively.  While it often captures my attention because of my upbringing (I was raised Catholic, confirmed, and spent my primary and secondary school years in Catholic education institutions), its certainly not my sole focus.  I discuss religious faith so frequently because, like all ideas, it deserves to be put on equal intellectual footing as any other concept and challenged.  Catholic traditions fall into that category, and thus I feel them necessary to discuss.

Now, the hysteria that this comic has spun up can be amusingly tracked on The Oatmeal's Twitter feed.  If I get time, there are one or two other responses that have been posted on there I would like to examine (my favorite is the one that inexplicably pulls out a Holocaust reference).  But there's one last little bit I would like to respond to, and that's the articles introduction:

Oh dear. Matthew Inman of the marvelous web-comic, The Oatmeal, seems to have experienced that exquisite twitch all modern atheists are doomed to experience — the I-know-what’s-best-for-you-silly-religious-people-come-heed-me spasm. This particular train of thought requires the thinker ignore the vast majority of Christian belief — which is entrenched in reason — and focus solely on minority caricatures of the creationist or the wailing-out evangelical, caricatures firmly established and grounded in The Holy Internet Worldview.
Yes, the atheist community spends a large amount of time responding to the most evangelical elements within Christianity.  We do this because they're the most aggressive at both putting their worldview center-stage and because they're also the most aggressive at attempting to impose that worldview onto secular society.  But just because we don't focus on that "vast majority" doesn't mean that their views are any-less deserving of intellectual inquiry.  That's just silly.  The "entrenched in reason" part of that quote is a good example of that.  Put simply, religious faith is by its very definition irrational.  It is the embracing of a world-view that is BASED on the fact that there is no evidence for it.  Being "less extreme" doesn't explain that problem away.

(On a lighter note, I notice Mr. Barnes is from Stubenville, home to a fantastic pizza-style.  Cold cheese on a hot crust.  Somebody opened up a pizzeria that specialized in it near my university, and it quickly became a regular late-night snack location)

15 July 2012

Secularism and Military Leadership: Why Secularism Matters

This post marks the first in a series about secular leadership.  To reiterate the boilerplate disclaimer found elsewhere on this blog, the opinions and statements contained within both this post and this series are my own. They do not reflect the official position of the United States Army, the Department of Defense, or the Government of the United States of America. 

I've been ruminating of late over why secularism matters, and it occurred to me that leadership and secularism go hand-in-hand. So what is leadership? To paraphrase the Army definition, leadership is providing peers and subordinates purpose, direction, and motivation. And within that framework, secularism isn’t just a good idea; it’s essential.

Imagine being a Muslim Soldier standing in formation when a Christian leader asks his Soldiers to bow their head in prayer. He knows that he couldn't get up in front of that formation and ask them to face towards Mecca. As an atheist, I know that I wouldn't be allowed to stand up in front of a formation and start talking about the reasons I don’t believe in god.

Remember that definition of leadership? Leadership is providing purpose, direction, and motivation. How much motivation do you really think a Soldier is going to have if everyone around them seems hell-bent on pushing their religious viewpoint on them? That’s hardly creating an inclusive atmosphere, and the idea that we’re “all in the same boat” allows people to get past personal differences and motivate each other to accomplish the mission.

Now, a popular response to this that I hear far to frequently is that Soldiers shouldn't be coddled, and that they should learn to just "suck it up." After all, toughening up your Soldiers is essential for deployment. The problem is that there's a difference between having your Soldiers do something because it will demonstrably toughen them up for war and doing something because you feel like it. For instance, doing physical training during inclement weather and having Soldiers sleep on the ground and out in the cold during a field training helps them learn how to function under realistic conditions. In contrast, refusing to help a Soldier who gets evicted from their house or had their heat cut off in the name of "toughening them up" just makes you an unsympathetic dick.

Everything I just said should be obvious. Yet I see otherwise fantastic leaders missing this point all the time. As such, this is a discussion worth having. I will hopefully have more posts on this topic later on down the road.

13 July 2012

“Dear John,” a Changing Army, and our views of Gender Roles: Why Equality is Important

"Jesus Christ, the dog?!?"

Any service member who has deployed downrange or spent a significant amount of time away from home is familiar with the Dear John letter. Either they've watched one of their comrades receive one or have received one themselves. It’s that note that you get from your wife/fiancĂ©/girlfriend telling you that your relationship is over. The term “Dear John” for these letters only dates back to World War II, but this kind of correspondence certainly wasn't new back then.

These kinds of letters are an absolute sucker punch to a Soldier. Your relationship ending is always hard, but being deployed far away from home, regardless of how relatively safe you might be, only makes it worse. I remember having to take a Soldier’s ammunition away  in the aftermath of a Dear John. We were on an isolated little combat outpost in the middle of an Iraqi city, living in crowded, stinking hot tents. The patrols were constant, the heat oppressive . One of my soldiers, a gunner, found out that his wife was leaving him. It was like the final insult.  It was an absolutely brutal thing to watch. It was only made worse because of the poor conditions and the general lack of ways to escape to have some time to deal with it.

During World War II this was a common fear for people in uniform, and it’s one that hasn't gone away. The fear that some draft-dodger back in America was taking your place helped spawn one of the most famous cadences in the military, “Jody,”, about an unscrupulous civilian living back in America who moved in with your wife as soon as you ship out. Want to know how pervasive a fear this can be?  The Jody cadence has survived to this day.

Perhaps one of the more worrying elements of all this the potential decent into misogyny post-letter. I’ve always suspected the detestable “Boycott Western Women” website that sprang up a few years ago was started by a jilted service member in the wake of a deployment break-up. It’s easy to see how somebody could get caught in that trap. It wasn't you! It was because your significant other was a “slut.” Jody moved in because your SO was never that loyal in the first place!  After all, she's just a woman, who only cares about nylons and trips into town!

…except, of course, that Jody now more often than not won't be a man. The last decade has helped dissuade us of the infantile notion that somehow women are delicate flowers who needed nothing but protection. There has been no real front line to hide female service members behind; women who had been serving in the largely “safe” roles of being a truck driver, a mechanic, or a military police are fighting with their male counterparts. And they’ve accorded themselves just as well as men. Can people honestly say that women just aren’t cut out for combat after the heroic actions of women like Sergeant Leigh Ann Hester or Sergeant Monica Lin Brown? Women have earned their place in combat.

Part of that, of course, is that women now get to experience getting Dear John letters of their own. Women who go downrange have to wonder in the back of their heads if their significant other is being faithful just like their male counterparts. Their relationships are no more inherently stable, and they get to face the same kinds of pressures that exist for their peers.What bothers me the most is that by failing to recognize this we're only helping to perpetuate odious gender roles.  Think back to the Jody call.  It's called Jody because its focusing on Jody, the unscrupulous male who took over your life.  It's not named after the wife, and the blame is focused on Jody.  Because, after all, the woman is just a piece of property that Jody absconded with.  That's the mindset that opens the door for that misogyny to tear a Soldier apart, and in doing so makes him both a worse Soldier and a worse citizen.

Further, these entrenched gender roles can only make a relationship for a deployed female Soldier that much harder.  On top of all the hardships a couple have to go through wile deployed, they also get to look forward to the most extreme elements evangelical chunk of society judging them.  After all, this is a role-reversal; one away from the traditional role the man.  "Why aren't YOU off fighting? Aren't you a real man?"

And I haven’t even TOUCHED same-sex relationships, segment of our population that are volunteering to serve their country in combat who have the added pain of that society refusing to recognize their relationship. Same-sex couples get to face a deployment where they’re not even getting the extra financial assistance and access to support networks that are there specifically to help married couples. A gay Soldier doesn't just get to worry about the enemy, but also the fact that if their loved one gets sick or hurt that they won't have insurance coverage from the government like their straight counterparts. If a gay Soldier is wounded in battle, their loved ones will face many more hurdles to see them as they’re recovering in hospital. And if a gay Soldier is killed in battle, the support networks and benefits that are designed to take care of a Soldier’s spouse are denied to them.

All of this is reason why equality is so damned important; without it, we're that much worse as a country, as a society, and as a military. One of America’s strengths has always been that our military isn’t some Spartan entity; it reflects our society as a whole. And yet right now because our society is weaker because of how we treat women and the LGBT community we're weaker as a military too.  If we as a society can't change, we can't expect the military to do so either.

As an aside, that's why I’ll never understand how the skeptic and atheist communities can’t get behind trying to eradicate sexism, sexual harassment, and gender discrimination. We all understand how religious fundamentalism allows what should be people to fly planes into buildings or blow themselves up in a crowded cafĂ©, and yet some of us simply can’t understand how failing to enforce basic human decency can do just as much damage downrange. And if we can’t agree to simple ideas like “no means no” how can we expect to make progress fixing the damage fundamentalism causes us at the very roots of our society because a book from thousands of years ago demands it?

That's why the good people at Freethought Blogs should wear the #FTBullies slur with pride.  If you're earning the ire of these kinds of people, then you're on the right track!

11 July 2012

American Family Association Threatens Google Boycott

I so do love the American Family Association.  After all, thanks to them we're almost guaranteed energy independence once we figure out how to convert ignorant vitriol and ill-conceived hyperbole into an alternate energy source.  Until then, however, we'll just have to settle for being amused by their appallingly stupid efforts as well as their poorly lettered arguments.

What specifically are they talking about lately? Google.  The internet giant decided to show an actual moral backbone, rolled out plans to combat anti-LGBQ legislation world-wide.  The AFA is not happy, so much so that they're threatening a boycott:

We are a part of boycotting efforts similar to this with other businesses — this is going to be a hard one for a lot of us.
It's more than just a search engine. Many of us have Android phones ... many of us use Google Calendar, Google Tasks, and Gmail... YouTube, and all the other things, it's not just the search engine.

Good riddance.  If less mindless evangelicals like the AFA and its followers quit using Google, maybe I won't have to deal with their pitches coming at me from Google Ads.*  Of course, I suspect that this is more bluster than anything else.  Like it or not, hate groups like the AFA need services like Google to survive.  Without it, they'll increasingly have trouble reaching their bigoted, ignorant audiences with their intellectually bankrupt ideas.  So as much as I wish they would follow through, I somehow doubt we'll be that lucky.

*On this front, though, nothing quite beats Facebook.  Their creepily racy Christian dating ads ("Barely legal saved girls are waiting for you to treat them like second class citizens in [LOCATION] NOW!") always manage to simultaneously amuse and horrify.

10 July 2012

Bryan Fisher: Declaration of Independence isn't a Rebellion.

Dispatches from the Culture Wars has passed along a great video of Bryan Fisher from Right Wing Watch, stating that the American Revolution was not a "rebellion."  After all, if it was a rebellion it would go against some obscure verse in that book of mythology he's so very obsessed with.  It isn't a rebellion because, ready for this, the publication of the Declaration of Independence magically bypassed that step.

So there you have it, folks:  when is rebellion a sin? When you don't go through the proper administrative steps. Remember, if you're going to overthrow the established government and found a new nation, make sure you've filed the applicable forms.  Don't forget: I want to see NOTARIZATION, PEOPLE!

Perhaps a better observation: it wasn't a rebellion because our side won, just like every other revolution in history.

I've had a few posts now about Mr. Fisher, and I always feel like I should shy away from posting about him. But the stuff he puts out there is just such a perfect example of the Wingnut Wing of the Republican Party that I just can't help but comment sometimes.