Crass Merchandising March 31, 2006Posted by Evil Bender in News and politics, Religion.
Category: Religion and Economics.
Add this to the long list of people who exploit religious belief for profit.
"Cross day." Because not buying a $4 button means you're supporting the enemy in the "War on Christians."
Prayer Power? March 31, 2006Posted by Evil Bender in Religion.
1 comment so far
Category: Science and Religion.
There's been a lot of talk on the blogosphere recently about a study that found no healing power to prayer.
Predictably, the non-religious have taken this as evidence of what they already believed, and the religious have mainly gone around suggesting the experiment was either flawed or, more often, evil.
My take on this is simple: the whole debate is silly. The study won't convince anyone of anything; everyone will believe what they believed before it. Science can't test the personal, emotional impact of faith, and doesn't claim to be able to, and anyone who thinks faith healing is the important part of their belief system seems also to have missed the point.
Studies comes out, people use them to reinforce their personal beliefs no matter what the study says. Life continues.
Creepy Ultra-Convervatives (pt 1) March 31, 2006Posted by Evil Bender in Religion, Right-wingers, wingnuts.
I've been writing a lot recently about the problems of legislating morality. Based on the number of replies to various topics, it's safe to assume that these are my least popular posts. But I still feel like writing about it, so screw you.
I kid. Actually, here I want to combine a general observation with a specific note abouta place so creepy you might not even know it existed. So stick with me–it will, I think, be worth it.
General Observation: there is no moral worth to doing what you are forced to do. Morality consists of choices, and if you are forced to do something, then doing it (or not doing it) is by definition not a moral act.
Specific Situation: Take Pensacola Christian College, with an enviroment so restrictive it reminds one of the worst of the Taliban. The difference here is that you can't be born into the college, like you can be born into Afghanistan. You have to agree to go.
A few of the rules of conduct at Pensacola, beginning with a SMALL part of the dress code ane moving on.
Men may not allow the end of your belt to hang down from the belt-loops resembling a phallus.
Women may not wear pants in your dorm, although sweats ARE permitted after prayer group.
In your dorm, rules include
You may not put up a picture of unmarried people in physical contact unless they are "little kids."
You may not sing "too loud" during prayer group.
You may not open your window.
It gets creepier, folks.
As stated in the Student Handbook, leaving campus is a "privilege;" one which the administration will revoke as they see fit.
If the intended destination is not listed on the computer, the student must obtain a permission pass from various staff at designated times. This is also applicable if you wish to leave campus on a Sunday.
Males and Females are to use separate public beaches and may not go to the popular Pensacola Beach or to the nearby Boardwalk.
You may not go to a public library.
Women are not allowed to hold off campus jobs. (All school jobs during the year pay minimum wage or below).
Each gender must use segregated stairways, elevators and in some cases, sidewalks.
There is to be no physical contact between students of the opposite sex, except perhaps on some "dating outings," where hand-holding games are played.
These are just some of the rules. There are many more. Now not only is this obviously a super-creepy cult, but it also is a perfect example of the cult activity of keeping people from being able to act morally. The rules are designed around the assumption that right action must be enforced, and therefore none of these students have a choice about how they should act.
Enrollment of PCC: 5,000.
A poem March 30, 2006Posted by Evil Bender in Poetry.
Category: Poetry (see title).
A Kim Addonizio poem, and on a subject that's near to my heart and hard on my wallet:
First Poem for You
I love to touch your tattoos in complete
darkness, when I can't see them. I'm sure of
where they are, know by heart the neat
lines of lightning pulsing just above
your nipple, can find, as if by instinct, the blue
swirls of water on your shoulder where a serpent
twists, facing a dragon. When I pull you
to me, taking you until we're spent
and quiet on the sheets, I love to kiss
the pictures in your skin. They'll last until
you're seared to ashes; whatever persists
or turns to pain between us, they will still
be there. Such permanence is terrifying.
So I touch them in the dark; but touch them, trying.
Porn, fresh from WalMart? March 30, 2006Posted by Evil Bender in General.
A woman is claiming that a WalMart DVD player came pre-loaded with porn, causing her to accidentally show said porn to her kids.
The article is well worth the read. My question: do you believe her? How much porn could her kids have accidentally been exposed to in five seconds or so? Especially since there are multiple disclaimers federal law requires you to have before the actual porn starts?
Evil Bender wants to know if you buy this, and if not, what you think is going on. He has his own theory, but would like to hear from you first.
And while we're at it, WalMart has an additional problem: they're too Christian for Christianity.
More Kilgore March 29, 2006Posted by Evil Bender in wingnuts.
Larry Kilgore's 2006 big for Texas govenor didn't turn out so well, but he's already gearing up for 2010. Gone from his "issues" page are the craziest elements, such as advocating the death penality for homosexual acts. But lest you think he's getting saner, he still advocates such positions in his FAQ. And now on his front page (linked to above) there's a photo from the holocaust.
Remember kids, comparing things to the holocaust makes you stupid. And probably sterile.
Evil Bender: on the cutting edge of Larry Kilgore news.
Reply to Marshwiggle March 29, 2006Posted by Evil Bender in constiutional issues, News and politics.
1 comment so far
Marshwiggle has responded to my previous post over at his blog. I recognize that many of you don't particularly care about this debate, but I've known Marshwiggle about as long as I can remember, so it's of interest to me. There are posts on other subjects below if this isn't your cup of tea.
Getting back to the point. He begins by challenging my assumptions about the role of government: "What social order," he asks, do I express? This is a fair question, and one I was hoping to raise by questioning how morality should figure in government.
He continues, arguing that
Pre 1960, it was considered social order for abortion to be illegal. This protected unborn children from their parents. We had amendment to the constitution which allowed women to vote, thereby removing the protection men had to run the country impeded, and yes, this example is tongue in cheek. Slavery was once approved by the social order as well, and various racist laws abounded to protect men of one skin color and oppress those of another. These laws can be contrary to moral laws and can only be shown to be wrong (after all, they were passed in human wisdom) when examined by a divine law.
I would suggest that the final sentence's claim is too broad to be useful, largely because it equates "moral law" and "divine law," but any attempt at refutation would take more more off topic than usual, so instea I wish to point out that that he seems to be missing my point. As I hope was clear from the context, when I say "social order," I mean the general expectation that we have that we can go through life without having others constantly harming us. It is this order which we expect, at minimum, a government to provide. Notice that under my definition, and under my argument about what should be forbidden by governments, most of his examples–certainly slavery and racist laws–would be overturned by my envisioned government. As the saying goes, "my right to throw a punch stops at your face."
What defines protection? Who deserves protection? Murder is wrong? Stealing is wrong? Why? If I am poor, why can I not take from the rich? Is he any more entitled to his lexus than I am? I am after all, a good person, and he made his money by exploiting people like me. If I kill him and steal his lexus, then I have rid the world of an evil business man and provided myself with a set of wheels. I am well on my way to being a productive citizen. Why am I not protected for bettering myself?
I frankly don't find this useful. I argue the government should protect us from each other, and he asks why he can't kill a rich man and steal his things? Because the government is supposed to protect us, first and foremost, protect our right to autonomy; everything else is secondary and must be carefully defended.
Indeed, people sometimes don't want to be protected from one another. Should I be protected from a drug dealer if I want to buy meth? If it only kills me, why bother? Should I be protected from Big Tobacco if I want to smoke? Should I be protected from friends who drink and drive? Why? If no one gets hurt, why does the government legislate?
Again, I think the answers her are obvious. I have huge problems with the government telling us we can't hurt ourselves–banning smoking or drinking, for example, would be a problem for me, because then the government is encroaching on autonomy. I don't believe the government should protect us from Big Tobacco, unless Tabacco companies are shown to be harming people through their lies. As for drinking and driving, I think the thousands of deaths a year from that evil speak for themselves.
My biggest problem with Marswiggle's arguments, though, come from his discussion of the republic:
If this was a theocracy, then indeed, I could logically state that all of God's laws should be followed to the extreme. However, this is a republic, and a great one, that allows opinions like EB's and mine to be expressed, and to be voted on.
I would like to refer him to my previous post about the role of a republic–not to protect the views of the majority, but to defend against tyranny (including that of the majority) the rights of the minority.
My system is logical and internally self-sustaining. The government exists to enact the will of the people, so long as the will of the majority–or of whoever has power–does not infringe upon the rights of those out of power. The government's most important role is to protect from oppression those without the political power to protect themselves.
I would ask Marshwiggle for an equally coherent explanation of what the role of government should be. The useful thing about my explanation is that I don't have to change it based on who is in power. The same basic tenants hold. His views of what "the losing side" should do basically argues that each side–whoever is winning–should do whatever they feel like, because they won. This winner-take-all approach guarantees a "republic" which will systematically abuse whoever it can, because they can't stop it. Any casual perusing of American History will show numerous examples of exactly such behavior, and the only check against it is a firm commitment to the rights of everyone, whether you like their views or not.
Liberty University–less crazy than some! March 29, 2006Posted by Evil Bender in wingnuts.
Some of you may be aware that Liberty University, Falwell's institute of "higher learning," has been getting completely illegitimate coverage of being the contry's top debate team, but that has sparked some controversy, as uncovered by Dispatches from the Cuture Wars, where Ed's uncovered that John Lofton is upset because the Liberty debate team debates both sides of the abortion issue. The best part of Lofton's post:
As for O'Donnell's "debate theory," I have no idea – nor do I care — what, exactly, Aristotle's "theory of enthymeme" is. It sounds sneaky and dishonest. But, I do know that Aristotle was a heathen, a pagan, and, probably, a homosexual. This is someone whose "theory" should govern Christian debaters? I think not.
Further proof that we live in a world where people feel no desire to actually have any idea what they're talking about. But even for crazy types who would institute Mosiac Law in the US, it's pathetic to see such willful ignorance. "I don't know what he said, but I can personally attack him and pretend I'm thinking."
Lofton is probably unfamiliar with the term "ad Hominem," too. Don't worry, though, I'm sure a man like Lofton, who's probably a child molester, wouldn't need to understand it.
On the Role of Faith in Government March 28, 2006Posted by Evil Bender in constiutional issues, News and politics, Right-wingers.
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Having just discovered from his post here that Marshwiggle has a blog, I thought I would take a few minutes to respond to one of his posts. In this post, he argues for a higher moral law, among other things. I believe that particular point has had millions of gallons of ink had poured into it.
I wish instead to respond to (largely unstated) assumptions of his post.
If there is to be right and wrong, then there must be morality. Is it wrong or immoral to impose my morality on you? Then you admit a sense of right and wrong. If it is subject to your whims, of what value is it?
I agree with Marshwiggle that morality cannot be purely personal. I reject moral relativism, at least so far as it relates to our ability to determine the moral rightness of our actions (relativism is very useful for reminding us to evaluate moral decisions in context, but that is neither here nor there). But there is a larger question here. Marshwiggle further argues that
Without a clear cut moral compass, any group of people, whether it be a tribe, company or country loses it's sense of direction.
What, I wonder, does this even mean? It is a statement that seems safe enough, but it’s dangerous in its implications. It is absolutely true that one of the effects of organized religion is that it is really good at giving people the feeling of absolute authority that allows them to have a “sense of direction.”
But its this same authority that drives people to believe that the government of Afghanistan should execute a man for converting to Christianity, or that tells some leaders of this country that homosexual behavior should be outlawed because it is condemned in the Bible.
It is in his next post where this difficulty really arises. He extends his argument to suggest that the correct response to this “clear cut moral compass” is to have the government mandate a response. In this case, he selects the issue of abortion, arguing even against abortion in cases of rape and incest. While he never specifically advocates government action in these cases (though in another post he does), the implication seems obvious.
And here is the problem. I support Marshwiggle’s right to believe in and act on his conception of right and wrong, but there is a large (and critically unexamined) gap in his logic, a gap that is between “I believe this is wrong” to “I believe the government should not allow this action.”
To give an example: I believe that it is wrong for parents to ban their children from access to ideas that they find uncomfortable, but I fully support those same parent’s right to have their child enrolled in a program that teaches what the parents want taught, whether that is through homeschooling, private school, or “opting out” of unwanted classes.
I do not, however, support those parents rights to inflict those beliefs on other peoples’ children. If you don’t want your child taught about sex ed, then don’t let them take the class—don’t try to get that class banned from public schools.
Not that this is what Marshwiggle is advocating, of course, but it follows the same logic. Religion does provide a moral compass, and for true believers, there is no higher appeal than this compass. But that is precisely the danger. Because there is no consensus about which religion is right—or even which aspects of a certain religion should be made law—it is extremely dangerous to legislate based on religious morality.
To legislate this way is to invite abuse. I can make a case that the Bible advocates killing non-believers. I can make a case that the New Testament advocates communism. Should those be made law? What about taking the sacrament? What about taking the Lord’s name in vain? Should we have laws dealing with this as well?
Any time one advocates laws based on a moral code—other than laws needed to protect people from one another, since these laws uphold the social order—the government is legislating morality, which is dangerous and counterproductive.
When Marshwiggle can argue that, because he believes Moral Law condemns something, the government should also condemn it, then his argument will at least be internally consistent. In the meantime, I would remind him that this same line of reasoning enforces the oppressive and immoral agendas of theocracies of all stripes.
Theocracy is what the unscrupulous or pious use to enforce their will on others. But until we can all agree what will should be enforced, arguing that “something is immoral” does not make the case that the government should forbid it.
A Plot to Ruin America March 28, 2006Posted by Evil Bender in bigotry, constiutional issues, sex, wingnuts.
I'm writing to share with you a threat to the very foundation of this country, a group of people who wish to inflict their deviant views on the rest of us. Not content merely to live their lives, they hope to convert are children to their way of thinking and force them to follow their twisted, immoral lead.
These people have already found support among the activist judiciary, as well as many state legislative bodies, and our congress. I suspect their conspiracy goes all the way to the president himself, though of course he denies it.
These people must be stopped. What follows is a catalogue of their agenda. I warn my readers that it is not for the faint of heart.
These people wish us all to engage in exactly the same sort of intercourse that they prefer. They want to bind us forever to a single partner, and to force sex to only be for the purpose of procreation. They believe, in some extreme cases, that every sperm is sacred, and that if you're not having sex to have kids with your spouse, you shouldn't be having sex at all.
As if this weren't enough, they wish to inflict these disgusting practices on the rest of us, forcing us to go without the Pill, without condoms, even without the rhythm method. Enjoy masturbation? You won't if these people are allowed in power. They're in our homes; they hate the laws that allow us to make our own choices about our sexuality.
These radical straights must be stopped. We must speak out now against this Straight Agenda.
Evil Bender asks that if you have experience with these people, if they've tried to "convert" you, or if you're aware of yet another instance–they're everywhere–where they are trying to push their agenda on us, please post here and bring it to my attention.