I just re-watched the wonderful TED talk by Larry Brilliant wherein he talks about the case for pessimism and optimism. His story about how more than 30 countries of the world, people of all races and genders and religions, came together under the World Health Organization to eradicate smallpox, one of the horrors of history, is truly inspiring. It amazes me that people treat sports stars as heroes, yet don’t even know about this, one of the greatest accomplishments of humanity.
Much of the video is devoted to the situation in Bangladesh, particularly the part laying out the case for pessimism. It seems that Bangladesh has a very pressing problem. According to Larry Brilliant, even if we stopped all CO2 emissions right now, we are “baked in” to a situation that will see sea levels rise twenty to thirty inches, and possibly ten times that much. With the added snow pack melt coming down from the Himalayas, uninterrupted by the trees that are no longer on the deforested land, and the rising ocean, Bangladesh is going to be under water. There will be an estimated hundred million refugees fleeing into China and India.
So Bangladesh has problems. Big serious problems. One might expect demonstrations and protests in Bangladesh, and that’s what we’re seeing.
I would never have predicted what the protests are about. Are you ready for this. One hundred thousand protesters took to the streets to demand…. oh, this is serious business… the death penalty for the atheist bloggers who have been arrested by the police. They want strict enforcement of their anti-blasphemy laws. The most pressing thing on their mind is that their god has been insulted by people who say their god doesn’t exist.
It’s enough to swing my needle sharply toward pessimism.
Three things seem to be happening in Canada right now. First: The natives are restless. One native chief, Theresa Spence, has gone on a hunger strike to get the attention of the government. The natives are mostly upset about the fact that white people have been sucking money and resources out of land the natives claim is theirs, without compensating the natives adequately. Natives live in poverty with no running water while billions of dollars drain from their territories. They are also a bit righteously pissed about a pipeline through their land and oil tankers on their coast that could completely destroy their way of life.
The third thing that is happening is that my inbox is being inundated with racist propaganda undercutting the native position and claiming the natives are a bunch of lazy bums who don’t deserve any sympathy and certainly don’t deserve any more “taxpayer” money.
You don’t suppose these three things could be at all connected, do you? Am I just being a conspiracy theory nut for suggesting that anti-native propaganda blooming at the same time as the government is trying to sell off Canadian resources and trash environmental laws, with the native opposition one of the few things standing in their way, could be in any way related?
Here’s a recent email from a relative, introducing and forwarding an email from another relative:
I worked in Winnipeg in a hospital, when we got a patient with a Band Number. They arrived in left in a cab, no matter how short a stay, we also had to handle them with “kid” gloves or you could be reported & get into trouble. One of my fellow nurse worked in Northern community as a nurse practitioner. some of the tales she told would make you question a person’s sanity. often on week-ends they would get an influx of kids with temperatures, so they would be admitted for the weekend so the parents could party. They finally discovered that the parents were putting a chunk of cigarette into the kid’s bum, the nicotine would cause the body temperature to rise.. another nurse tole me of 2 kids that were left unattended with a coal oil lamp burning while the parents partied. Somehow the kids caused a fire & both were severely burned. These are only 2 of the ones I can recall. I think they must take responsibility for their actions & a lot of their problems. There is wrong on both side of the problem.
I’m not going to include the entire racist meme she was introducing and forwarding. Here’s a sample:
The Thompson Rec. center and Norplex pool incurred literally thousands of dollars in damages by the evacuees that they refused to billet them any more unless the federal Government paid the bill for clean-up and damages. Fire or any other evacuations are seen as vacations. Hell when I send kids to southern correctional Facilities, the kids see it as a holiday. They get all their medical issues taken care of, teeth, eyes, etc and schooling, and the parents don’t send any clothes with them, they are given to other family members as they expect the justice dept. will outfit the kid going to kiddie jail in a whole new wardrobe to take home with them.And they don’t want any Wal-Mart stuff. No, they want fancy label clothes! Most of these kids are illiterate because they don’t go to the big fancy schools that have been built for them on the reserve. The band administrators have the kids attend for the first week of school so the school qualifies for their per diem Student allowances and then don’t care about what the kids do after that. By Thanksgiving, of the 30 odd kids that started in a classroom, less than a dozen are still attending. So the poor native teacher who complained of being so overworked at the start of the year and needed a teacher aid, now has 10-12 kids and a teacher aid.that is a ratio of 5/6-1. And she is never there in the classroom because she is always traveling out of the community to the city shopping, visiting or whatever because she earns such a good wage, leaving the unqualified teacher aid to teach the remaining students. No wonder they have a dismal high school graduating record. Hell, the students don’t even get to grade 8. And the kids don’t walk to school, they are all bussed. They buy huge numbers of busses, drivers, fuel, maint. people at the start of the school year because all the kids “show up” (at the insistence of chief and council) and then by October less than half are still attending so you have all those big expensive busses driving around the community almost empty. And that doesn’t even begin to look at the waste at the nursing station where people plan their illnesses and ailments to coincide with out of town/city amusement fairs, calendar holidays or out of town family reunions. They never follow through with taking medications as directed as expensive as they are, they don’t look after themselves, diabeties is in epidemic proportions, alcoholism and drug abuse is rampant, It is not uncommon to see the garbage can outside the nursing station containing freshly filled prescriptions of pills or ointments, bandages but the pain killers are usually resold. A lot of northern community members make their own “home brew” even though it is a dry reserve.
I had a school in one community where a full 60% of the kids from grades K-8 were FAS/FAE! If they flew in as much fresh fruit and vegetables as they did pop and chips and Kentucky chicken, there would be a real difference. In one northern community the nurses reported that they could always tell when the caribou herds were near the community for the men to hunt cause they saw such an improvement in the overall health of the band members from eating fresh wild meat and less junk food. I am babbling on..I have NO.repeat NO sympathy for those poor northern reserves and YES, the responsibility rests at the Band office and don’t let any one tell you different. None of them have any training in band administration, finance or even a high school education.
Nope. None of them have learned how to be a good white man or woman or obedient white school kid. We’ve been wasting all this effort and money on them all these years. <sarcasm>
I’ve been there/done that! Funny that the news didn’t show where the chiefs(3) and 14 counselors live!!! Bet it wasn’t in a shack! $34 million a year !
No. But I doubt it as in as nice a place as Mayor Ford lives either. But no, nobody could possibly mistake you for a racist. <sarcasm>
Whatever the motivation behind the propaganda, I would like to point out that it is truly racist. How do I know? Well, a sure sign of racism is a statement along the lines of: I’m not a racist but those natives get no sympathy from me. That statement has a built in contradiction. It’s an oxymoron. If the natives don’t get any sympathy from you, then you are, by definition, a racist. It’s as simple as that.
So here’s my response to these emails.
This is very interesting to me. I’m really sorry to have to say this but I think it is racist, both the account you sent me and your introduction to it. But explaining why I think it is racist is very difficult.
It upsets people to be told that what they are saying is racist. That is such a judgement, such a bad thing to say about somebody or think about yourself.
What makes this racist? Well, let’s consider taking the word “native” and replacing it with “American” or “white person”. I have seen white people do everything that these natives are charged with doing. But nobody notices because they are “just one of us”. We don’t think for a minute that they represent “us” as a group. They are just the bad people. The greedy people. The people who do bad things. We never think that we are part of what they do, or should be in any way responsible for what they do. So when the white junkie exploits the system, cheats on welfare, doesn’t take his medication and sells the painkillers to other white junkies, we never say “White people get no sympathy from me.” Can you see why the statements in this are racist? It’s because they generalize from the worst example of behavior to the whole community. That’s what racism is.
I have had some experience with natives, but not in a hospital or school setting. I worked on a film about the potlach, which the white people banned in 1922 because it was one of the traditions that
kept the native culture together and we white people were out to destroy the native culture. So we banned the potlach. Think about that. Banning the potlach for the natives would be like banning your
Catholic church. Actually, it would be more like banning all Christian churches. It was part of cultural genocide. The B.C. Natives fought to be allowed to potlach again, and finally, in the 1970′s this was allowed. I was privileged to attend as a film technician, doing sound recording. Up until that point I had only known natives as the skid row bums you see littering the streets of downtown Vancouver. I had no idea of native community. I had no idea of what life on a reserve might be like. What I saw when I went to Alert Bay was a real eye opener. You tend to think badly of a group when you only see their problems, their losers, their dregs. It’s really easy to feel contempt for the whole group, when all you know is their worst cases. And that is racism. In Alert Bay I discovered natives who had heritage and community and a completely different way of looking at life than we have. For example, we tend to think of a child as belonging to a family. Nobody really takes responsibility for that child, except for close family members. But the native children grow up surrounded by a village who all took care of them. The children belonged to everybody. That is a very different view of childhood, and of community.
We white people, with our values and beliefs, can really not understand what it feels like to be a native. You should read Chief Dan George’s book, “My Heart Soars”.
He talks about what it was like to grow up at a time when families lived in a long house and everybody was connected to everybody else. We don’t have that. We can’t conceive of that.
This writer talks about a person who killed somebody, a friend, in a drunken rage, and her attempts to “bring that person to justice.” But what she is really talking about is white man’s concept of justice. What did the community want? What good would be served by white man’s justice? Thinking that white man’s justice is the best for everybody involved is racism. The writer is a racist. Do you not suppose that in a tight community, such a crime would not have consequences for the perpetrator? Do you not suppose that the community would do something to deal with it. But what is the best thing to do? Send the guy who “killed his buddy” to a white man’s prison? Is that really good for anybody, for the victim, for the murderer, for the families of both? The shear arrogance of the writer astonishes me. And the blind refusal to see racism that is so obvious to me is really amazing.
I could write more about this, but it’s late at night and I have other things on my mind. But I really encourage you to read what you wrote, and what you forwarded, with a critical mind. Think about who you are, the circumstances of these anecdotes, and your perspective on life compared to the perspective of the people that are being criticized. I hope you can open your mind to some compassion and empathy for the native point of view.
With much love
One thing I did not address in my response was the possibility that the native land claims might have validity, and that they might have some right to money that is being sucked out of their territory. The natives in Canada are not “a conquered people”. We were never at war with them. Except for a few police actions, we have never fought them. What we did was move into their land; kill nine out of ten of them with our diseases, sometimes intentionally transmitted as with the infamous smallpox blankets given to natives as gifts; steal their children and send them to residential schools where they were beaten for speaking their own language and subjected to sexual abuse; do our damnedest to destroy their culture as with the banning of the west coast potlach in 1922 instigated by our Christian missionaries; and generally fuck them over every way we could, including stealing their ceremonial objects and shipping them off to museums in other countries. We have been such bastards to the natives it’s hard to believe. And now we have the gall to treat any money they get from us as “charity they don’t deserve” when in fact it should be royalties paid for the rape and pillage of their resources.
Let me tell you about potlach. Most white people have no idea what the potlach is, and what it meant to the native culture. You see, we have the concept of capitalism. This is the idea that excess wealth can be put to work for you to bring in income. If you have enough excess wealth you can stop working, because your wealth is working for you. But the natives had no such concept. The only thing they thought excess wealth was good for was to give it away, hence the potlach. A family would save resources for years, until they felt ready to potlach, and then they would throw a party and invite everybody they were connected to or wanted to be connected to. They would give everything they had collected away. In the process they built up relationships, connections, obligations, and they gained status. Their whole culture was glued together with the potlach. But the white man saw this as just a big crazy party. The missionaries claimed it was sinful because there might be drunkenness and fighting. And since it was a keystone of the culture, it was in the way of conversion to Christianity. So the potlach had to go. Ceremonial coppers used in the potlach were seized, no not seized, let’s call it like it was, they were stolen and sent away to museums. Natives who tried to potlach were sent to the white man’s jail. No potlach happened in B.C. From 1922 until the seventies, when the natives finally got the law repealed.
Potlach and residential schools are just the start of it. When the white man first showed up on the coast of British Columbia, the natives were wealthy. They weren’t wealthy by white man’s standards of wealth. They didn’t have fine china teacups from which to sip tea from India. But they had it pretty good. Not much of what they did was considered work. They gathered berries. They caught salmon. They lived high on the hog with not all that much effort and with lots of free time, time to create art and make amazing hand crafted objects and sit around telling stories about how the world was created when the great raven spat out the first human beings. Then the white man showed up and called them lazy for not wanting to work ten hours a day doing something they didn’t like doing. Lazy? They just weren’t crazy.
What the white Canadians are complaining about is that the natives game the system. White Canadians don’t think about who set up the system, and whether others are gaming it with our total approval. The same people who sat down and watched the Beverley Hillbillies and never give a thought to whether the Clampets deserve that incredible wealth will get all judgemental when it is the legitimate residents of the land who claim a portion of it. They don’t think this is racism. How blind to our own racism we can be.
FIPA is a disaster for Canada. Exploitation of the Alberta tar sands, Enbridge, and their pipeline would be a disaster for the whole planet. Time we stopped slagging the natives and got in line with them. They might be our only hope.
Meet Kayla Bourque. This lovely young woman is a fan of serial killers, slasher movies, and sadistic sex. You can check out her self-portrait on this website where she goes by the name of MurderErotica.
Ms. Bourque hit the news recently after she tortured and eviscerated the family dog while videotaping the event and providing live narration. She had previously disemboweled and dismembered her cat back in Prince George where she spent her childhood, and she revealed this, one imagines gleefully, to a classmate at Simon Fraser University where she was a criminology student. The classmate, not as enthusiastic about cruelty to animals as was Kayla, went to the police and the subsequent police investigation uncovered the video of Kayla’s fun with the family dog. That lead to her arrest and incarceration for six months.
I imagine the investigating authorities, and those who examined Kayla’s brain box and the evidence on video, were horrified. The problem is, there is no legal reason to hold her in custody. She was not, technically speaking, crazy. So they reluctantly released her, with as many restrictions as they could find excuses to impose, 46 conditions in total, including that she is to keep a strict curfew and have no contact with birds, animals, children, the elderly, knives, colleges, universities or (most dangerous at risk of all) the Internet. They also put out a warning to the general public, featuring her picture and a description of her crimes, with the information that she is dangerous and “a high risk to re-offend”.
When that picture and warning hit FaceBook, it went viral. Much swooning and hand wringing ensued, not to mention violent fantasies of giving Kayla Bourque the same treatment she had given the family pets. Many were the calls for her continued incarceration.
A very few of the FaceBook comments were calmly rational and simply questioned how such a person could come to be the way she is. But many were threatening violence, or fantasizing violence enacted on Kayla, while at the same time calling for Kayla to be incarcerated because she has violent fantasies. Irony is wasted on some people.
Anyway, Kayla Bourque is out on the street, at least during daylight hours. Monsters walk among us, and they can be very hard to recognize as monsters.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, a man who has never hurt any living creature as far as we know is also facing criminal charges and legal sanctions.
Remy Couture is a special effects and makeup artist. But Remy Couture’s work is simply too realistic. So realistic, in fact, that pathologists were supposedly unable to be certain that no actual homicide had taken place. He’s been charged with corrupting morals. Corrupting morals? Do you ever get the feeling that the authorities have a lot of nerve charging an artist with that “crime” in today’s world, a world in which the president of the United States kills civilians in far away countries with drones flown by video game pilots in Arizona?
The very term, “corrupting morals”, harkens back to the days when everybody seemed to be so very sure about what was moral and what wasn’t, and most of the time got it wrong. It brings to mind the burning of witches.
The article I linked to doesn’t say what punishment Couture faces if found guilty. But the mere fact that he’s gone to trial should be enough to freak out any fan of realism in cinema or art.
I can understand the need for a public warning on the release into society of somebody like Kayla Bourque. The fact that she has acted on her fantasies in the past must surely indicate that she would like to take her fantasy life out into the real world. It would be irresponsible of the authorities to refrain from warning the general public, no matter what the social consequences for Ms. Bourque. The violent fantasies she inspires in the FaceBook commenters are less excusable. Perhaps, like Remy’s art, that is her real crime.
I wish we had a legal excuse to keep Kayla Bourque institutionalized for the rest of her life, and I detest the kind of movies, pseudo-snuff films, that Remy Couture is involved in making. You couldn’t pay me to watch them, much less be involved in their production. But the argument that he is influencing others to commit crimes doesn’t work for me. He’s not telling anybody to commit any crime. If you are going to censor him, then we should also censor any reporting of violent crimes, because it’s a known fact that copycats, possibly serial killer fans like Kayla Bourgue, will imitate.
“And if my thought dreams could be seen
They’d probably put my head in a guillotine.”
If we are going to punish people for their fantasies, or for expressing their fantasies, do we start with Stephen King? I’m sure there are many who would like to do that.
Complicated questions. Your thoughts on this would be most welcome.
And it’s apparently my fault. The sins of the father…. As a child I was a cowboy freak. When I was a kid there was a gun in the closet of every home. But it wasn’t an assault rifle. It was a single shot .22 or an army surplus bolt action .303, purchased at the local Army and Navy Department Store for about twelve bucks, with a three round clip. My dad bought me a .22 for my eighth birthday. I loved that gun. And then later I got a pellet gun and damn near wore it out. In my teens I got my bronze, silver and gold pins for marksmanship at the local range.
I used to really like guns. When I got old enough and wealthy enough to buy guns, I indulged my childhood interests. I belonged to a fast draw club and I acted out my western fantasies every weekend with my Ruger .44 magnum Super Black Hawk with the modified fanning hammer, along with the other guys who were accountants by day and western gunslingers on Friday night. I had a lot of fun. I won a turkey. And gradually the romance of the six gun wore off, and I started to see the gun as simply a well machined tool designed to throw a slug of lead through the air with considerable accuracy. No more romantic than a drill press and a heck of a lot less useful.
I used to like guns. But then… I had a gun safe that I bought for several hundred dollars and installed in a closet in the correct way so that it was supposed to stop a burglar from getting my guns. It didn’t stop a kid with a crowbar for ten minutes. I was working out of town when I got the news that my younger son was on the loose with my 9mm in his backpack and the police were looking for him. If you want to taste fear, just get this kind of news. Fortunately my son was arrested without getting shot. And then it all turned on me.
You see, I thought my guns were legally stored. But I hadn’t paid attention and the laws had changed. It wasn’t good enough to have the guns in a gun safe any more. They now needed a barrel lock and a trigger lock and the ammunition had to be stored in a separate safe in a different room. So I was told that I would be charged with “a weapons offence”, namely improper storage of a restricted weapon. That would have had terrible implications for my work, because I have to cross borders. The computer would not explain the circumstances. For all the border guards would know, I was an arms dealer selling thermonuclear devices. It would be a career killer. So I begged for a deal. I would get rid of my guns, and turn in my FAC. No more guns for me. And that was the end of my fun playing with hand guns.
But it still goes on. My son continues: ” No…. i will not accept this. I am a responsible, non violent person, i pay taxes and rent and deal with the stupid bullshit that society subjects me to. I have no criminal record. I am not addicted to any drugs or medication. I want the same rights that you have enjoyed most of your life. ”
My son wants an assault rifle and he feels entitled to an assault rifle. He wrote: “You remember when i was a kid, you gave me and my brother half a can of black powder, I was 12years old dad. You remember taking me to the gun range and at 12 years old i was firing a 45 caliber revolver. 22 semiautomatic pistols with 20 rounds in the clips. You owned two snub nosed 9mm semi automatic pistols, one was gun metal black and one was chrome silver. What the fuck was the point of all this? just to say enjoy it, because by the time you grow up all this will be banned and regardless of how responsible you are, someone else will totally screw this up for you. ”
And yes, somebody else has screwed this all up for us. Too many idiots have “gone postal”. Too many innocent people have died. And now we have this latest tragedy, a young man with an assault rifle killing children for fuck sake. Children. The world I grew up in isn’t there any more, and neither is his. So what is going on here. Does this kid think I control the world? That this is all my fault. Sorry to tell him that times have changed. And I’ve changed with the times.
I haven’t responded to his letter yet. There’s really nothing I can say that will get through to him. He doesn’t seem to have the ability to see how other people view his desire to play with a toy that was designed for only one purpose – to kill lots of people very quickly.
Talk about bad timing. This is the worst time in the world for a guy who tends to be emotionally volatile to start pushing for his right to own deadly force.
I wish he would ask himself this question: Other than the people who make money from manufacturing them and selling ammunition, can you think of ANY reason why ANYBODY ELSE should be comfortable with you owning an assault rifle?
Just his desire to own one makes me think he shouldn’t be allowed to own one.
There a new Catch 22 for you. You need to be believably emotionally balanced before we’ll let you own an assault rifle. But obviously if you want to own an assault rifle, you aren’t emotionally balanced.
I’m pretty sure that nobody can have sex with a female pit bull without the consent of that dog. In this case, the man and the dog “had a relationship”. He’d been hired to clean out the dog’s kennel. Obviously he liked the dog. I can only assume that the dog liked him too. We can probably rule out rape.
So, applying my standard rubric for the righteousness of any law, who was harmed? The dog does not seem to have been damaged. The young man managed to withdraw without having his dick locked in that horrible spasmodic vice that female dogs are known to generate, trapping the male dog’s penis for a considerable length of time. The owner of the dog had no idea a crime had been committed until the police knocked on her door. The police were alerted by a neighbour who taped the dog-man encounter.
Now, I have absolutely no tolerance for cruelty to animals. It’s one of the very few issues that can turn me violent. Even cruelty to something as non-sentient as a starfish or an oyster makes me see red. But maybe this wasn’t cruelty to an animal. What if the dog liked it? That’s a possibility. The dog may have been in heat, and just desperate to get some…ahem…penetration. What if it was a mercy fuck, and the young man was doing the dog a big favor.
I’m sure there are people who will claim that damage was done by this act. Some kind of terrible destructive moral damage. Perhaps the neighbour across the street who taped the encounter will be scarred for life by the images they recorded. Perhaps the police, having seen those images, will go home and do terrible brutal things to the family pet. This all seems like a stretch of the imagination to me. Before we make a law that puts a young man in jail, I want to see some real manifest harm having been done.
Now, I want you all to know that I don’t think animals are appropriate sex partners. I would never fuck a dog myself, though I will admit that back in my excessively horny teens when I’d been celibate for far too long, I did ask a black lab if she was interested. She wasn’t, and I had to resort to the more mundane and manual techniques to relieve my sexual tension. But if she had been interested, would any harm have been done.
Bernard Archer is now in jail, charged with two counts of bestiality, and the reports are calling it rape. One really has to ask, was it “legitimate rape”?
Just so you know:
2010 Georgia Code Title 16 – Crimes and Offenses Chapter 6 Sexual Offenses 16-6-6 Bestiality O.C.G.A. 16-6-6 (2010) 16-6-6. Bestiality
(a) A person commits the offense of bestiality when he performs or submits to any sexual act with an animal involving the sex organs of the one and the mouth, anus, penis, or vagina of the other.
(b) A person convicted of the offense of bestiality shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years.
Yikes? One to five for a “crime” that has no victim and causes no harm to anybody.
I’ve watched that video clip of the American Apache helicopter murdering civilians, two of whom were a journalist and her driver, in Baghdad a couple of times recently. Each time I watch it, it gets worse. There is something that is is such a contrast between the disciplined request “Permission to engage?” and the callous disregard for human life displayed by what I presume to be a very young soldier. No, calling him a soldier insults all soldiers. Soldiers face the enemy, and risk getting killed. This guy is just a technician. He’s sitting back about a quarter of a mile away, with technology doing all his work for him. All he has to do is push the button. I’m not going to call him a soldier. He’s like those drone operators in America, thousands of miles away from any danger, who kill people half way around the world. Somehow America has found a way to filter out humanity and create killers with no conscience who can be trained to hold back until unleashed, but who actively itch to be unleashed and allowed to kill.
The language use is also instructive. “Come on. Light ‘em all up.” Not “Kill them in cold blood.” but something that sounds more like setting off a Fourth of July fireworks display.
“We’ve just engaged with all eight individuals.” Is this kind of one sided slaughter really engagement?
And what is his comment when he learns that he’s murdered children? “Serves them right for bringing kids to a battle.” A battle? This was a battle? No, this was not a battle. This was a cold blooded massacre. Does this kid think he’s a glorious fighter for democracy?
So many questions flood my mind when I watch this clip: What kinds of filters does the military put on its training to get rid of people with any sense of humanity or compassion? How do they test their recruits, and find the ones who have no heart, the real killers, the sociopaths?
I imagine this murderer, this heartless, compassion free, monster going back to America. He finds a girlfriend. He gets married. He goes into business. He’s a hero, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan. He gets respect. He’ll probably be very successful. How many people will recognize him as the monster that he is?
Since this clip has been released, and gone viral, will he be able to hide from his past, from what he’s revealed himself to be? Will he laugh it off. Will he strut and wear that T-shirt about loving to kill, loving to hear the wailing of the widows and children? Will he turn to alcohol and drugs? Or will he go to church every Sunday, and make sure the kids go too?
Well, who cares about him? My question is, how do we protect society from rapacious killers when we have an institution that filters them out of the population, trains them, rewards them, and then sends them home to blend in among the good people we see all around us.
If anybody thinks we don’t need Wikileaks, they should watch that video clip a few times. Then think about what we know, what we don’t know, and what we will never discover without organizations like Wikileaks shedding light on behavior that should sicken us all.
It’s been a while since I posted anything. Sorry about that. Life gets in the way sometimes. Given the number of new registrants to this site, probably thanks to my pet troll spamming his entire mailing list with all caps rants about me, I think it’s time to say something. There certainly is a lot going on. First off, there’s a great thread on the circumcision debate over at Pharyngula. It’s probably dying down now, but I was very gratified to see that the thinking crowd is generally scathing in its criticism of the practice, and delighted to read PZ’s very straight up denunciations. If you are at all interested in the subject, it’s well worth a read. Thanks for the heads up from HaggisforBrains for this.
There are other articles on Pharyngula, newer posts than the circumcision one. His post about the interview with Dame Jocelyn Bell-Burnell also told me things I did not know. Also well worth reading. Heck, PZ is always worth reading and if you aren’t dropping in on his blog regularly you are missing some great stuff.
My own surfing has turned up some truly shocking stuff that I also didn’t know. After posting about the judicial murder of Troy Davis, a man who was quite possibly, in fact most likely innocent, I got following links to other articles. I ended up disgusted by the commentators who claimed to be convinced, from carefully weighing the online evidence, that Davis was guilty and deserved to die. The arrogance of the arm chair analysts, and the smug way they can dismiss a man’s life, was truly depressing. And then one of the links took me to the New Yorker story about Cameron Todd Willingham by David Crann, a fine piece of journalism and one of the most disturbing accounts of an innocent man being destroyed and executed I have ever read. The first part had me totally convinced that Willingham was guilty, and the second part completely destroyed that conviction. Now I am just as certain that Willingham was totally innocent.
The callous way that those in authority ignored appeals and scientific evidence should sicken every American. Actually, it should sicken everybody. And the man ultimately responsible for sending an innocent man to his death is now a potential presidential candidate. I’d love to know if he’s read the New Yorker article, and how he feels when he looks in the mirror to shave in the morning.
Okay, one final appeal for you. Please go and participate in my circumcision survey. Believe it or not, you have something to say. In fact, you are the only person in the world with your perspective on the practice. Talk to me.
Again, sorry about the scattered post. I have some good stuff in the pipeline, much of it written already. So come back and see me sometime soon.
Troy Davis has been on my mind. I got sucked into reading some of the facts about his case yesterday. He quite possibly was guilty. He also quite possibly was innocent, and the guilty person may still be breathing in and out with no threat of punishment. It doesn’t matter whether Troy Davis was guilty or not. That’s not the point. The point is he should not have been executed. It is wrong to execute a man when there is the slightest doubt about his guilt. I believe it’s wrong to execute anybody.
I had a conversation with a devout Christian last night. Well, sort of a Christian. A devout Mormon, a person steeped in that particular sect. A person who considers herself a “good Christian”, who goes to church every Sunday without fail, and thinks about things like sin and Heaven and Hell.
Because he has been on my mind, we talked about the execution of Troy Davis, and the Christian agreed with me that it was a bad thing, but only because of the possibility that Troy Davis was innocent. Otherwise the Christian remains a devout supporter of capital punishment.
It’s something I’ve never understood. I remember learning the Ten Commandments a long time ago, back when my parents still had the power and authority to make me go to church every Sunday. Now, my understanding of a “commandment” is that it is something you have been told to do, commanded to do. It’s not something you can shrug off or rationalize away. Christians tell me that these commandments came directly from God, the real He-who-must-be-obeyed, the big Kahuna Himself.
To me the Ten Commandments seem very clear. I remember one of them being: Thou shalt not kill. That one in particular seems as clear as it’s possible for a commandment to get.
How could God’s voice be clearer than that? “Thou shalt not kill.” See, it’s in quotes. It’s the Voice of God.
Can you find any confusion there? Any vague wiggle room?
It does not say: Thou shalt not kill unless you are really really angry and the person you want to kill really deserves it.
It does not say: Thou shalt not kill unless you get together in a large group and all agree that, in this case, it’s acceptable. You can make an exception this time. I’m your God and I’m not really serious about this one. I’m just putting it in as boiler plate. Just for show. It’s a PR kind of thing, like Republicans supporting the fight against Global Warming. Go ahead and ignore this one.
It does not say: Thou shalt not kill unless you do it all together and spread the collective blame.
To my simple mind, this Commandment could not be more clear and unambiguous. THOU SHALT NOT KILL.
It doesn’t even say: Thou shalt not kill except in self defense. It doesn’t even allow us to defend ourselves. No wiggle room at all.
It’s very easy to find this commandment. Christians tell me it is central to their beliefs and faith. Christians tell me that it is a commandment, not just a suggestion, and that it comes directly from their God.
My partner tells me that some Christians argue “Thou shalt not kill.” is a mistranslation from the original, whatever the original actually was, and that the true “voice of God” said “Thou shalt not commit murder.” Wouldn’t you know it? Their book is the inerrant Voice of God, unless they don’t agree with it, in which case it isn’t inerrant at all. It’s been mistranslated by some previous doofus under orders from King James. This argument brings up the whole question of what is murder, and how many people does it take to agree on a killing before we stop calling it murder and start calling it capital punishment. I see this as just a variation of cherry picking. A fart by any other name is still a fart. If they agree with their book, it’s the inerrant the voice of God. If they don’t agree with their book, it just doesn’t apply, for whatever reason or excuse.
So, the next time a Christian complains that we take passages from their outdated Old Testament to make their religion look silly, asking them why we can’t sell our daughter into slavery or stone our neighbour for working on the Sabbath, you can toss this one at them.
If Christians didn’t cherry pick, there would be no capital punishment in any “Christian nation” and the deep South of America would have the staunchest advocates for abolition of the death penalty on the planet.
They all ignore the actual voice of God commandments which they say they believe in.
I am not a Christian. So I am free to support capital punishment. I don’t. I think capital punishment is a primitive response fed by a desire for revenge, justice, and fairness that is seriously misplaced. It makes no logical or rational sense, and carries the terrible risk of killing the innocent.
If you put me in a room with Clifford Olson and gave me a gun, I’d happily blow the bastard away. I’d pay money to do it. But this is because I’m still a primitive human at the hard wired neuron level.
Clifford Olson is slowly dying of cancer, according to the latest news report. Can’t happen slowly enough for my taste. But even if he wasn’t, he’s a monster. He’s a brain damaged aberration of humanity. We need our monsters. We’ll never understand our monsters if we kill them the minute they are discovered.
Aside from this, Olson will be dead soon enough. Killing him would make us, in no small way, just like him. Even if we do it collectively. I do not want to be a killer. I do not want to support killing. I do not want to be, in any part, like Clifford Olson.
Christians ask me: Why should we have to pay to keep a man like Clifford Olson alive for the rest of his life? And now we are down to the real basis of Christian morality. It’s a matter of economics. It’s about money. It’s just not fair that we have to feed and cloth and house this monster when he has done such terrible things and so richly deserves to die. And my response: Suck it up, folks. We can afford it. America has privatized jails and made them into a growth industry. It’s good for the economy. Chip in the few pennies that are your share to support murderers and feel good about your moral position. Be consistent. Listen to the voice of your God.
I don’t support capital punishment for what I hope are rational reasons consistent with my personal beliefs.
But Christians? They scoff at consistency. They have no trouble with contradictions within their belief system. They have no problem with cognitive dissonance.
I had hopes that America might be changing. I had hopes that Americans had learned some lessons, and had an interest in improving their image in this world. Once again, my hopes for that nasty country have been proven naive.
The Supreme Court refused to commute the death penalty for Troy Davis. Accordingly he was put to death, despite strong doubts about his guilt.
Troy Davis - Murdered by the people of America.
There are people I would be happy to see dead. Clifford Olson comes to mind. In fact, give me a gun and put me in a room with Olson and I think I’d enjoy killing him myself. But Olson is a man about whom there is no doubt at all. To kill a man when there is the slightest doubt about his guilt seems incredibly barbaric.
The execution of Troy Davis is one more black smudge on the American conscience. One more reason most of the world still thinks of Americans as primitives. One more opportunity lost.
Another sad day for America, even if Americans don’t know it.
It saddens me to see people dancing in the streets of Washington and New York in celebration of a death. Not that I lament his passing, but I don’t celebrate anybody’s death. Poor taste. Obama had the grace to announce this occasion without cracking a smile or a joke, as a matter of fact statement of reality. Classy guy.
So the fools can celebrate. Osama is undoubtedly more powerful dead than alive. One more martyr for the cause. But it’s good to know we no longer share the planet with that homophobic and homicidal fanatic. The nice thing about being an atheist is that Bin Laden is just dead. He isn’t in some other place, in a heaven or a hell. He’s just gone. And yes, he’s gone for eternity. Solid gone. Just dead. That’s enough.