Sunday, August 31, 2008

Irritating tragedy with a silver lining

'Twas a dark day for this lowly private. Bad communications left me a week overdate for the latest Battle of Wellington. Hence, my arriving to find the Radical Women not there, and only the security officer to tell me that it was last week. Thankfully, it wasn't ALL totally bad. From the officer I learnt two things:
  1. There were about 15 pro-woman's autonomy protesters there.
  2. Very few fundies on the other side turned up.
Whoa...15 of us?!!1!? Where did they come from? (If you didn't read my last blog entry on the BOW, there were only 6 of us last time) To triple in numbers (roughly) would've been fantastic-a major moral boost for the fertility control clinic workers to know that so many people want to protect woman's rights and autonomy.

However, I am rather concerned by the lack of fundies who showed up. Fundies, for all their mindless ignorance and bigotry, are still very dedicated their causes. If they didn't show up today, then I have the suspicion that they've ambushed a similar clinic somewhere else, causing even more emotional anguish to women going through what would be the hardest decision of their lives.

Ah, well. 15 of us-that's just frickin' fantastic, even if I couldn't be there for it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Micc Lazyboy Moments #1:

I've been very busy lately (as you may have noticed by the lack of posts), namely preparing to launch an attack across no man's land. */**

The Australian has some great articles on the US '08 election, featuring an candidate comparison.

Redirected by Captain Tobias, two very interesting articles about rumours and how our brains function when exposed to them.

Elsewhere, Lt. Keri pwns the ironically titled 'Tell the Truth Coalition' who maliciously lie about the current bill that is being debated in State Parliament right now. Either that, or they just think that the godless liberals are satanic monsters who want nothing more then to murder teh babies, so they assume that it's their worst strawmanning fears combined.

And the Green have an "all new, singing, dancing and blogging" website, replacing the original Greens Blog.

* Cr*p metaphor for doing an assignment.
**I AM a pacifist soldier, after all.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

America: 19th century country in a 21st century world.

Recently, Obama and McCain have been interviewed by Rick Warren. He asked them hard hitting stuff like "when does life begin?" Because, as we all know, if a woman is in control of her sexual organs, Baby Jesus will cry. As usual, McCain said that life begins at fertilisation ("cells are people, too!!") whilst Obama did his best to worm around the issue, desperately trying to grab as many votes from the Left and Right moderates as possible. But what scare me sh*tless is that this has to happen. That in America, the biggest issues for Average Joe Citizen isn't the Iraq War, or eroding civil liberties, or that George "Super-Christian" Bush has taken a giant dump over the Geneva Conventions when it comes to torture. Instead, the issues that matter to Mr. A. J. Citizen is whether Obama is a closet Muslim*, or how much of a Bible-thumper each candidate is, or who can repeat "family values" with an American flag waving in the background in TV ads as many times as possible during the Super Bowel. But also because, hidden in Article 2 Section 1, is the unspoken law that one absolutely has to be a Christian to gain any political ground.

In other words, the actual issues that the candidates stand for is overwhelmed and crushed underfoot by who can craft the best image for themselves. The Age makes this point clear:

Almost 80% of Americans believe their country is on the wrong track, mired in an unpopular war and burdened with a failing economy. Yet the conventional wisdom of the presidential campaign now is that it will be a referendum on Barack Obama, not a judgement on the past eight years of Republican administration.

Score this round to the Republicans, for setting the agenda.

Polls consistently show a much tighter personal contest between Senator Obama and Senator McCain than they do between the Democratic and Republican parties.

"It's the right question to ask: why doesn't Obama have a much larger lead?" University of Maryland politics professor James Gimpel said yesterday. "I think the race thing is there. It has to be."

(my emphasis)

I don't know now much of a factor race plays in the 08 election. What I think matters is the total stranglehold the Republican Party has over America. A. J. Citizen may resent the Iraq War and the failing economy, Gitmo and legalised torture, but will be lured to the Republicans by a shameless smear campaign against Obama, hitting him below the belt with everything; unpatriotism, celebrity status-you name it, they're doing it. In response, Obama has no choice but to play the "Christ Christ Christ, ra ra ra!!" card to lure the centre right "values voter" Christians. And he has to keep doing it to suck a little more oxygen from McCain's smears.

And, if that doesn't work, then he will simply lower his standards.

And America continues to remain hooked to it.

As Brian of Bay of Fundie said,
"It is nothing less than an “intellectual emergency”, in the words of Sam Harris, that in the 21st century, after having set foot on the moon, discovered and mapped the human genome, and being close to probing the instant of the universe’s birth at the LHC in Europe, we still insist on screening our candidates for what is perhaps the most important job in the word through the absurd and preposterous filter of religion. Not only must our president believe in a capricious and insecure monster in the sky in order to make sound decisions, it must be the Christian version of that abomination he or she must bow in subservience to. How much more fucked up can THAT get?"
Truer words never spoken.

*IT WOULDN'T HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH OBAMA BEING BLACK, NOW WOULD IT? Of course not. America, land of opportunity, land of the free, is beyond all that.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

When the ends justify the means

Casually flipping through Captain Tobias' archives, I discovered this little gem, featuring Andrew "Boy Wonder" Bolt. I think he's revealing a little too much of his authoritarian beliefs, here.
The real scandal isn’t that the US has locked up suspects at Guantanamo Bay, but that it’s let so many of them go free - free to resume their terrorism.


How many people have now been murdered by fanatics set free from Guantanamo Bay, at the urging of so many civil libertarians and Leftist activists?

How many deaths do those civil libertarians now have on their conscience?

Andrew seems to think that if we can save lives my locking up suspected terrorists, then we have a moral duty to do so. My question to Andrew; how far should we go? If we locked up every suspected murderer, rapist and child molester in Australia for life,chances are, we'd drastically reduce the number of murders, rapes and child molestations in the country. Only problem is, we'd be inevitably locking up innocent people in the process. Why is it justified when the suspects are suspected terrorists?

Oh, and one last point-nice try at trying to through some political mud at your fictional Leftists. Only trouble is, not every Lefty is a civil libertarian, and not every civil libertarian is a Lefty.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

McCain displays his true Republican colours

Most people (myself included) would prefer to genuinely like McCain as a person. He fought in the Vietman War, was tortured, and refused to be released unless his fellow soldiers were freed. I won't deny it, that's heroism.

But then he starts pulling crap like this.
Barack Obama enjoys a jog at Hawaii's Kailua Beach, keeping focused on his workout even as his fans try to snap photos. Meanwhile John McCain is campaigning in Pennsylvania, has twice spoken with the President of Georgia, and is working to prevent a close American ally from collapsing under the weight of a Russian invasion.
That's the great thing about being a Republican; no guilt, no shame. You can use a war in which over 1,600 civilians have died as a cheap shot at your opponent, and no-one will think any less of you, because you've got your 'war-hero' persona and (of course) the "pro-life", "traditional family values" and "tough of crime/terror" sound-bites to keep your flock of sheep voting base asleep loyal.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Wonder Columnist discovers irrefutable link between obsenities and hate. Leftists now run for cover, their pure evillness exposed.

Bolta once again displays his brilliance at intellectualism and in-depth philosophy.
It’s true that some of the Left are genuinely nice people motivated by a sense of justice and compassion, however mistakenly applied. But it’s also true that the Left is the natural home of the barbarian.
What was the research that Andy used to make such a philosophical claim? That the Left uses more swear words. I've always thought that a 'barbarian' was someone who didn't give a rat's about the poor, or was an outspoken bigot, or was obsessed with retaining power at all expense of human rights. Bolt sure showed me.

Bolt: 1. Strawman Left: Pwned.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The religious right and lying.

In response to this, Terry Wright wrote: "Great to see God's children lying out their arse." Which sent me thinking: what makes the fundies lie? It's one of the 10 Commandments-you'd think theocrats who want the 10C in front of every public building would make sure to obey them.

And on a related note: what is it with fundies and blatant hypocrisy? Jesus was clear he didn't approve of that:
1"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

3"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.

If that isn't a total condemnation of all hypocrisy, then nothing is.

Certainly, the greatest example of a fundie hypocrite is Randall Terry. The story is this: Terry is a real 'pro-family' kinda guy. Wife, 3 kids etc. Very outspoken of his conservative family values, going as far as to write in The Judgement of God that "Families...are destroyed as a father vents his mid life crisis by abandoning his wife for a 'younger, prettier model." So what does he do? Divorces his wife and marries his secretary, almost 20 years younger then him*. You couldn't imagine hypocrisy that brilliant.

So, after several minutes of thought and googling, I've come up with two thought processes that fundies use to justify lying and hypocrisy. They are: the Messiah Complex and the Persecution Complex.

Common to just about every fundie, the Persecution Complex is the belief that you are being persecuted for who you are (in most fundies' cases, it's because of their Christian faith). Pat Robertson pretty much summed it up with this comedy gold:
Just like what Nazi Germany did to the Jews, so liberal America is now doing to the evangelical Christians. It's no different. It is the same thing. It is happening all over again. It is the Democratic Congress, the liberal-based media and the homosexuals who want to destroy the Christians. Wholesale abuse and discrimination and the worst bigotry directed toward any group in America today. More terrible than anything suffered by any minority in history.
Couldn't've put it better myself. Despite every President being a Christian, every Congressman (except for the Hindu and the Muslim) being Christian and about 4/5ths of the entire population being Christian...Pat, his cronies and fundies in general are under the belief that they are being persecuted by the media and the gays.

The Messiah Complex is a person's delusion that they are a 'saviour' for a community of people, and have a special destiny to save said people. Although fundies usually don't have this trait to a tremendous degree, it would in part create the arrogance and "I'm, right, you're wrong, end of story" thought process that is seen in fundies.

So what happens when these two Complexes come together in unHoly Matrimony? It's simple: the belief that you are totally right in every possible way, because you believe in the Almighty God. Because you believe in this God, you are being persecuted. It doesn't take a great leap in logic to then think "these people (who are pure, absolute evil, BTW) are denying the absolute inherency of the Bible. They are denying the Truth of Jesus and God, etc." From there, fundies believe that in order to create their perfect country (free of feminism, gays, atheism and science) God will permit them to lie and be general hypocrites, because the ends (fundie utopia) will justify the means. Certainly, Terry has taken this thought process to its logical conclusion:
"Let a wave of intolerance wash over you. I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good.... If a Christian voted for Clinton, he sinned against God. It's that simple.... Our goal is a Christian Nation... we have a biblical duty, we are called by God to conquer this country. We don't want equal time. We don't want Pluralism. We want theocracy. Theocracy means God rules. I've got a hot flash. God rules."
Clearly when Jesus said to love your neighbour, even love you enemies, that was clearly a secret coding for mindless hatred instead.

Ok, that's my idea anyway: that a combination of extreme arrogance in their monopoly over the truth, along with their belief that they are being persecuted, has led Christian American fundies to believe that lying and hypocrisy is fine if it suits their theocratic agenda. Any other ideas?

*For the record, for the most part I'm opposed to a person's private life being used as a political football. The whole "OMG KEVIN RUDD WENT TO A STRIP CLUB HE HATES FAMILIES WON'T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!1!!1!!!!!" was very annoying. However, if somebody's personal life and values are contradicted by their public life and values (such as with Terry), then there's a genuine point to be made. If you can't uphold yourself to certain morals, then don't espouse those morals to the public.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Show compassion? Must I?

I never consider myself to 'hate' anything or anyone. I consider genuine hate to be prejudice-prejudging someone from a characteristic (ie skin colour, religion, sexual orientation) that frankly has bugger-all to do the person themselves. But some people really know how to push my buttons. Like racists. You know the type. The knuckle dragging, club wielding, bear pelt wearing, 'just dragged my freakishly hairy ass out of the same caves that the rest of humanity left thousands of years ago' types of racists. Like these.

Four admit to bashing Sudanese teen

RIDING home from his part-time job at KFC last October, 17-year-old Sudanese refugee Ajang Gor was attacked by a group of youths who shouted racist taunts at him.

In an unprovoked assault they called him a "black c--t", punched him and hit him over the head with a Bacardi Breezer bottle, before leaving the Melton resident unconscious on the road and stealing his mobile phone.

Shane Psaila, 19, of Patho, Chris Carlin and Andrew Hoskins, both 21, of West Melton, and James Butler, 19, of South Melton, pleaded guilty in the County Court yesterday to one count each of recklessly causing serious injury.

Hoskins also pleaded guilty to theft and Carlin to possession of a drug of dependence.

Prosecutor Paul Moran told the court the four men had spent most of October 9, 2007, drinking and smoking cannabis. They left the local pub with a takeaway pack of Breezers about 5pm.

On their way home they passed Ajang Gor and his younger brother riding their bikes home from work.

"They immediately began shouting abuse at them saying, 'You black dogs, you get off your bikes and wait for us,' " Mr Moran said. "(One of the men) caught up to Ajang and used a closed fist to strike him."

He said the Sudanese youth was then hit over the head with a bottle that smashed on impact. He fell to the ground, striking the gutter and losing consciousness. Hoskins then stole his phone, and the four men fled.

The four were arrested on November 2, and made admissions in interviews with the police, but only one admitted to racially taunting the refugee.

Psaila told police that he had called him a "black c--t" and repeated the sentiments during his interview. "He's a bitch and he shouldn't even be in the country," Psaila told police.

Barristers for the four men said their clients had histories of drug or alcohol abuse, but none could give a reason for the assault. But Brian Birrelle, for Psaila, said his client's "lack of schooling has robbed him of a value system".

Terry Strong, for Butler, said the 19-year-old regretted his part in the assault: "He is sorry and he is ashamed of his conduct."

Counsel for the four asked Judge Phillip Coish not to impose immediate jail terms, a submission that the prosecutor, Paul Moran did not oppose.

But Judge Coish said he felt they had committed serious crimes that could warrant immediate jail time.

"I've got a 17-year-old riding home from a part-time job. He's just attacked and bashed senseless and then I've got a series of extreme racist taunts," he said.

The assault occurred a day before the funeral of 19-year-old Sudanese refugee Liep Gony who died after he was bashed and left for dead on a Noble Park nature strip two weeks earlier.

The week before the attack on Ajung Gor then immigration minister Kevin Andrews said that the Howard government had cut African refugee numbers because "some groups don't seem to be settling and adjusting into the Australian way of life".

In May this year The Age revealed that racial harassment of Africans increased following Mr Andrews' claims, according to a confidential Immigration Department report.

After he was attacked, Mr Gor told The Age he believed Mr Andrews' comments had spurred on his attackers.

"It's been said that we Sudanese are misbehaving and that there is a higher rate of crime, but I'm not sure if all these accusations are right," he said after his release from hospital.

Yesterday Mr Moran told Judge Coish that Ajang Gor no longer lived in Melton because of the incident.

Judge Coish ordered Psaila, Butler and Hoskins to undergo assessment for community based orders and released all four on bail until August 22.

(my emphasis)

At times like this, I'm reminded of the theologian and civil rights activist Malcolm X- "I believe in the brotherhood of man, all men, but I don't believe in brotherhood with anybody who doesn't want brotherhood with me. I believe in treating people right, but I'm not going to waste my time trying to treat somebody right who doesn't know how to return the treatment."

For someone to qualify as a human, one must require certain traits: kindness, compassion, empathy, altruism...traits that prevent this from occurring. I'm more reserved about Butler, but for Psaila...I don't count him as a human.

I have a new wish for my birthday: to put Shane "KKK" Psaila in the same room with Jasmyne "Unapologetically Black" Cannick and Sergeant "Savage" Wah for 1 hour.

A side note: could you imagine the hysteria if a young white guy had been bashed by violent Sudanese-Australian youths? You'd hear Kevin Andrews screeching "UNINTEGRATED" all the way from Canberra.

Monday, August 4, 2008

I still say it's satire.

I probably should have blogged about this earlier, but meh.

Does anybody remember this?

Thought so.

The Obama campaign called the cover "tasteless and offensive" and the McCain campaign agreed*. I disagree. The point of the cover was that it was simultaneously sending up the endless rumours about Barack's and Michelle's religion and patriotism, and in doing so showing the bigotry that still exists in America. The NY was stating "America, you're so f*cked up that this is actually what you believe." If anything, the cover was attacking the Republicans who continued to believe-and peddle-the long since debunked rumours.

As David Remnick said:
"The intent of the cover is to satirize the vicious and racist attacks and rumors and misconceptions about the Obamas that have been floating around in the blogosphere and are reflected in public opinion polls. What we set out to do was to throw all these images together, which are all over the top and to shine a kind of harsh light on them, to satirize them. That’s part of what we do."

The main problem with the cover is that none of this is mentioned. If there was a caption which said "Obama: dispelling the myths" or something similar, then more people would probably realise the satire behind the image-I took me over a week to realise what the cover was saying.

Personally, I hope to see an cover parodying McCain's ludicrous smears to Obama.

*Although McCain's spin doctors were probably salivating over the cover and how it was reinforcing the image of Obama that had already formed in the minds of the redneck Republican voters.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

McCain thinks owning guns is more important then freedom of speech

Well, that seems to be the case, if you look at his official site. Take a guess-either the First of Second Amendment-gets its own issue page. Under the 'issues' tag, down near the bottom...
Protecting Second Amendment Rights

John McCain believes that the right of law abiding citizens to keep and bear arms is a fundamental, individual Constitutional right that we have a sacred duty to protect. We have a responsibility to ensure that criminals who violate the law are prosecuted to the fullest, rather than restricting the rights of law abiding citizens. Gun control is a proven failure in fighting crime. Law abiding citizens should not be asked to give up their rights because of criminals - criminals who ignore gun control laws anyway.

Assault Weapons

John McCain opposes restrictions on so-called "assault rifles" and voted consistently against such bans. Most recently he opposed an amendment to extend a ban on 19 specific firearms, and others with similar characteristics.

Because, in order to defend yourself, you definitely need a gun that can fire 200 rounds a minute.
Banning Ammunition

John McCain believes that banning ammunition is just another way to undermine Second Amendment rights. He voted against an amendment that would have banned many of the most commonly used hunting cartridges on the spurious grounds that they were "armor-piercing."

Wow. I never that law-abiding citizens needed armour piecing rounds to take down common burglars.
The Confiscation of Firearms After an Emergency

John McCain opposes the confiscation of firearms from private citizens, particularly during times of crisis or emergency. He voted in favor of an amendment sponsored by Senator David Vitter prohibiting such confiscation.
I totally agree. What possible harm could a population of suspicious, fearful and all-round scared sh*tless citizens armed to the teeth with military grade weapons do in a crisis?

Is anybody else a bit weirded out by the American Right's obsessive love of machines that were invented as a quicker way of killing people? You'd think that, given how much the conservatives love talking about being a nation of freedom, beacon of hope, etc etc, they'd be just a little concerned with Bush wiretapping Americans, locking up Australian citizens for years on end with no trial, the religious right doing everything they can to turn America into a 14th century theocracy...but clearly that will never happen if we have our guns. That's precisely why every so-called 'Western democracy', excluding United States of Jesusland America, have all turned into ruthless dictatorships because the citizens didn't have guns...except for the fact that they haven't.

I don't know about John, but I feel much safer in a country where almost nobody has guns, then in a country where almost everybody does.

Friday, August 1, 2008

A ghost town of a blog

Holy Cr*p. I've just realised that just over 2 months ago, on July 26, on my original blog (before dropping it in favour of a new email addi), I made my first post. Since then, 40 or so posts later, I've had...11 comments. 6 were between me and everybody's favourite Hannibal Lector-eqsue intellectual Iain Hall, and another was a test to make sure the comment system was working. Surely it's taken less time for other bloggers to gather a minor audience? Is there something I'm doing wrong? I'm no more boring then the wingnuts on A Wackjob's Habitat (at least I don't pick the same political opponents to blame), and certainly more philosophical. My blog isn't a total circle jerk like it is on every conservative blog in existence, or Commie Groupthinking like on progressive blogs. Just a classic Leftist, winging on how he isn't very popular. KG will be thrilled, I'm sure.

Blurring the lines of bigotry

Some time ago, I wrote a post about how 'racism' was a term that was inaccurately applied to hatred of Muslims (and more historically Jews). I asserted that this was due to race and religion being two totally different concepts (namely, one being biological and the other being cultural). This is fair enough. But recently, in classic spontaneity that only my brain is capable of, I realised that they were much closer then I first thought.

Although racism and religiophobia have differences in the target of hatred, what they do share in common are the thought processes behind them; namely, the fear of the Other.

The Other is the classic 'use and them' philosophy: that there is us, united as one, against them, which will overrun us of we don't band together. The Other can be group of people with a defining similarity; Muslims, Lebanese, Afro-Australians, Jews, name a group, chances are, they are considered the Other by another group.

In this sense, religiophobia and racism are similar to the point of being the same. It isn't a tremendous leap in logic to go from disliking a group of people for their ethnic heritage (for example, Arab-Australian Muslims) to disliking them for their perceived racial characteristics. The lines become even more blurred with Neo-Nazis and white supremacists in general, who often refer to Jews as a 'race', despite Judaism so obviously being a faith.

This raises an interesting question; if racism and religiophobia are the same (or at least, very similar), then where does that leave homophobia? Hatred of the gays is certainly the fear of the Other-go to any ultraconservative 'Christian' organisation's website and you'll see the same smears being trotted out-that gays molest children, that they actively 'recruit' children, that they're in league with pedophiles, that they're sinners, that they hate Christians...the list just goes on.The us and them philosophy is in full swing here, just the same as racism and religiophobia. So why do we count religiophobia as racism and give homophobia a separate classification?

My reasoning is that, quite often, certain religious practitioners have clear 'give aways' that identify their faith. Currently, Muslim women are the best example. If you see a woman wearing a hijab, it's just as clear to what her religion is, as is knowing the ancestry of a white man (namely, European). Also, the reason in the 4th paragraph establishes that racism and religiophobia more easily align to each other then with homophobia, although racists and religiophobes do tend to be homophobes as well.

Finally, why doesn't sexism rate a mention? Although it certainly is bigotry, in my opinion is a bigotry (quite possible the only one) that doesn't rely on the Other-or at least not in the same way as the aforementioned bigotries. Racism, religiophobia and homophobia all share the same idea that this is 'our' country, and those who don't fit into 'our' ideal citizen. In most cases, 'our' model citizen share most-if not all-of the following characteristics:

1. White
2. Christian
3. Heterosexual

We've seen these prerequisites mentioned by Drew Fraser, with the CDP and the Camden affairs, with Liberal Party members routinely attacking the Muslim-Australian community in classic dog-whistling style, and certainly with both Rudd and Howard endorsing Alan Jones' views that those "Middle-Eastern grubs" should "scurry their lairs." The difference between a racist, a religiophobe, a homophobe and a sexist is that the former three would state their particular Other (most likely Afro-Australians, Muslims and gays) would bring nothing but dysfunction to 'their' country, the sexist wouldn't. No sexist would deny that women are vital to the country's existence; they would just say that women belong in the kitchen/laundry.

So, conclusively, where have we arrived at? Pretty much the same spot we started at. However, I have been able to articulate some thoughts and distinction of various incarnations of hatred:

1. Racism and religiophobia, although different in terms of a target, share the desire to label someone's external difference (whether it be a hijab, kipa or skin colour) and use it to justify demonising the Other.
2. Point 1. differs religiophobia and racism from homophobia, due to there is no defining external characteristic for gays.
3. All of the above differ from sexism, as the former hatreds mark the particular group of people as an Other, whilst sexism is just more generally oppressive.