Thursday, September 8, 2011

Don't worry too much. It happens to a lot of people.

I didn't post this to my FB page like I wanted to and like I should have. Why? Because I knew that everyone that should learn something from it would probably just stop listening once they felt accused - for all the reasons discussed in the video. They would feel I was probably pointing the video right at them. Guess what? I am. Guess what else? It's not said with the venom and misconceptions you think it is.  

Bigotry is a natural consequence of transition, of growth and progress. Not everyone can change their minds at the same pace, not everyone should. Not everyone that is a bigot is a bigot because they are hateful or spiteful, shallow or stupid. Sure there is plenty of that out there too, but I don't think that everyone that condemns homosexuality as immoral is a hateful person. Some people are bigots for all the 'right' reasons. They are trying to do the right thing. They are given a paradigm about love and righteousness. It can be instilled and reinforced in a myriad of ways. It happened with racism (which still exists but know you can count on it occurring mostly in the hateful people that I'm NOT talking about here).

I don't condone any mindset that promotes intolerance of people based on who they are but we can't hope to change it if we don't fact facts about what it is. It's not a group of slur spewing, red-faced, rage addicts that are getting in the way of progress. It's sweet mothers and loving fathers. It's the majority of voters in CA and AZ and many other states. Minimizing and demonizing them won't give us any insight in to how to overcome the cultural obstacles we face. It is simply hard for some (again, for a myriad of complicated and personal reasons) to overcome their preconceptions and prejudices about the LBGT community, and the value of "traditional" marriage.

We are also fooling ourselves if we think they don't see gays as fully human and deserving of rights. They really can manage to see these as separate issues. In many cases they don't think that "gay" is real. As DE-humanizing as that is it doesn't sound like it to them. It's not like skin color, it's too easy to make it seem like a choice - no matter how much contradicting evidence they aren't listening to.

Change is hard. Not all change is progress. It's not monstrous to want things to be like you think they were when you were a kid and everything was comfortable and simple. It's not evil to have faith in an ideology that is still shared by a large majority of your fellow citizens. But in this case it IS bigotry. It's intolerance of other people for who they are, and for their differences. It IS bigotry and it is wrong and it's time for it to stop.

Please, if you watched that video and were tempted to dismiss the content, or had trouble concentrating on the words, because of the appearance of the speaker. Or, if you shutdown as soon as you felt like the the bigot label was getting smeared all over you, again. If you didn't give the video your full attention the first time. Please watch it again and really listen.


I'm going to post this on my FB page now...

Monday, September 5, 2011

The terrible power of faith: Javon Thompson

I have often said that it isn’t religion, per se, that I object to. It’s the faithful adherence to dogmatic certainties. This can take the form of devotion to state, party, economic principles, and causes both good and bad. Anytime people choose their ideology over evidence and reason it is a recipe for disaster.

I still maintain that this is true. But I have a particular bone to pick with religion here and now.

I just read the story: Slain boy's mom discusses cult life

I was livid, as I’m sure you are – whether you are religious or not. I would have been when I was a religious person too. It got me to thinking though. What other examples are there of this type of behavior, outside religious devotees? For instance I agree that faithful devotion to an idea like communism (or capitalism) can be and has been as disastrous as any religious belief but where is the communist equivalent of Madeline Kara Neumann? Where is the party affiliation equivalent of Preston Bowers or Lydia Schatz? Where is the North Korean example of that is comparable to the dozens or more children that are beaten and killed , or suffer preventable deaths due to the religious beliefs of their otherwise “sane and loving parents" every year?

I would call the events at Wako with the Branch Dividians primarily religious in nature and but I would concede a similarity to the political motivated stand off at Ruby Ridge. The Jamestown Massacre, however where parents fed the Kool-Aid to their children has no political equivalent that I’m aware of.

There are examples of mass murder on both religious and non-religious sides. There are disturbed people that have done horrific things for religious and non-religious reasons. I fail, however, to conceive of more than a couple instances where otherwise loving, sane parents neglect to care for their suffering children. There are some rare examples, equally horrific like Gloria Thomas Sam , Eliza Jane Scovill where the suffering and deaths we caused not by religious faith, but faith in pseudo science like homeopathy, etc. Aside from these I don’t know of any other time when parents will defy the conventional wisdom/medicine that offers to treat a terrible sickness tormenting their child without a religious reason. In some cases like with Jehovah’s Witnesses and blood transfusions, they KNOW it will save their child’s life but deny it anyway , not because they think that they have faith that God will heal their child, necessarily, but because they think that it would be better to die than to disobey God. This is almost exclusive to religion as far as I can see. It may not be YOUR religion but it IS almost exclusively religion that is to blame. This is the dreadful power of belief in heaven and hell. This is the single threat and promise that would justify this behavior to a rational human being. This why I have to speak out against it. Because all the religions in the world have this power and all the major religions have, at one time or another, exercised this power to the suffering and death of men women and children inside and outside their congregations. Name me one religious tradition that has more than a million members and I’m pretty sure I can find an example. My head is swimming with them right now.

If I am wrong and you can think of examples of this type of abuse done for secular reasons by “sane” people, besides the ones I have already listed please share them. I have already considered and discounted vaccine refusal - as dangerous and deplorable as it is, for reasons that, if not already apparent, can be addressed if anyone wishes me to.

Thank you.