Tag Archives: Politics

People are only truly free if they have the freedom to err


other's rights

I shared this picture onto facebook today, thinking to myself, “Surely, people will agree.”

The response I got was as follows:

The reason this is bullshit is because many of these things are choices which those who disagree with are nonetheless forced to participate in. Gay marriage? Try refusing to photograph, perform the rites or cater one and get sued (already happened) Porn? There was a time when people in underwear weren’t shown in ads. Now they are nude in bed together on daytime TV for little kids to see. Alcohol? Try driving down the road while every third driver is legally intoxicated. Drugs? Try thinking you have raised your kid so he won’t be dumb enough to use illegal drugs and just sit back and enjoy the heartbreak. Cigarettes? Try dealing with the lies told your child by others who convince him it won’t hurt anything and it’s “cool”. Yep. this sign is total bullshit.

So, feeling strongly about the importance of rights and whatnot, I feel I need to respond.

First, let me take the responses points individually.

  1. Gay marriage? Try refusing to photograph, perform the rites or cater one and get sued (already happened)

The decision to refuse the benefits provided by being in a legally recognized union, known as a “marriage”, to those who choose to be in a non-standard relationship is tyranny. Whether or not homosexuality is moral or not is immaterial. The fact is that “marriage”, as we know it in the United States, means two different things.

One is to be joined in a commitment recognized by your religion. This union, by itself, does not bestow any particular benefits except to abide by one’s religious beliefs.

The other is to be legally joined to another person, and to be recognized by the government and in commerce as working together.

The first should be managed and administered by the “marrying couple’s” religion and it’s leadership. The second is managed by the government.

Now, religion and state being seperate entities, religious leaders should have the option to not participate in such ceremonies or personally recognize such unions. That is their choice, and they feel that their religion mandates such a position, and so long as they do not attempt to otherwise hinder the couple from getting married, then they should have the right to refuse to administer the ceremony or participate in it, even to the point of refusing to allow the service on their property or provide commercial services in support of the ceremony.

However, the state should recognize such a union performed within the laws of the state, and provide to the couple all of the rights and privileges it provides to anyone who enters such a union. The state is not a religion, and while it may offer lip service or a historical relationship with a religion, it should hold itself seperate from the religion. It should not, under any circumstances, show favoritism to one group or community over another group or community.

My opinion is that the state should have nothing to do with marriage at all, but that is not our situation in the United States. We have to work with the system that is in place, and that system requires that any couple who wants to be legally recognized as “married” has to pay for a license. To deny that license on any grounds to any individual, with the exception of a child, is inequality. All inequality that is supported by the state is tyranny.

If you support the idea that the legal institution of marriage should be refused to an individual or couple because they do not agree with your religious belief, then you support tyranny based on religion. If that is your belief, you have a right to it. I do not hold this belief, however, and thus, support the idea that ‘gay marriage’ should be legal.

The idea that any commercial service must be applied against the will of the proprieter of a business is also tyranny, but also madness on the part of a customer within a capitalist driven society. If you wanted a service provided for what you see as an important life event, why would you want people to do it who would be irritated and offended that they were doing it, when their work would invariably show this irritation and be ‘less’ than someone else’s who was pleased or indifferent to be there in the first place?

That there have equivalent lawsuits to try to force or coerce people into administering these ceremonies, or providing commercial services in support of the ceremonies, is tyranny as well, because it interferes with the individual’s right to practice their religion according to their own conscience. The fact that this has happened in no way takes away from the need for state recognition of homosexual and heterosexual marriage to be applied and allowed equally.

These are both situations that should be addressed properly by the courts, recognizing the rights of the individuals in each case first.

      1. Porn? There was a time when people in underwear weren’t shown in ads. Now they are nude in bed together on daytime TV for little kids to see.

What children watch on daytime TV is the responsibility of the parent. Morality is a pretty subjective thing, especially when it comes to sexuality, and it is the job of the parent to decide to what level children are exposed to it. I don’t personally think that they should be exposed to sexual ideas at a young age, but I do not feel that I have the right to decide what my neighbor thinks about their own children, to the degree which our society and culture suggests that it is appropriate. That is why we have laws which determine at what point a ‘child’ becomes an ‘adult’ and can make their own decisions.

If it was a situation where people were required to watch television, and the only things on the television were sexual in nature, then it would be tyranny for parents’ rights to be overstepped and forced into allowing their children to watch such things. This is not the case, however, and the situation is that there are other choices in programming, choices which do not include such advertisements.

For the government to decide things that are within the parents’ purview is tyranny. The government can protect a child’s physical safety, as there are parents who are incompetent when it comes to this, but it is not the job of the government to determine the child’s morality, and the further they stay from that idea the happier I am.

  1. Alcohol? Try driving down the road while every third driver is legally intoxicated.

I would have to say that this sounds like quite the challenge, but far from reality. I invite you to give evidence of the claim that every third driver is intoxicated, as you say.

Alcohol is a substance generally used for recreation. It is illegal to use it publicly, except under certain conditions. It is illegal to drive while intoxicated or to be publicly intoxicated.

Are you saying you’d like to bring back prohibition?

  1. Drugs? Try thinking you have raised your kid so he won’t be dumb enough to use illegal drugs and just sit back and enjoy the heartbreak.

While I understand that you may have had a personal experience with this, and I’m sorry that you have, I cannot sign on to the idea that it is the government’s job to protect people from making the choice to use them.

The government should, by all means, expect a person to pay a consequence if they harm someone else or damage property or become a public nuisance while under their influence, it should not be up to the government to decide whether or not a person is able to use them.

I can see some wiggle room in this issue, as some drugs have far worse effects and chance of death than others, and if a drug is generally “safe for use”, then it should be legal, and up to the individual to decide if they will use the drug or not.

Thus, marijuana, which is the drug currently under examination as a possible legal drug, based on the current research, should be legal and regulated in the same ways that other legal drugs are regulated, so that the consumer is getting a viable product that does not harm them further than is expected by any such substance.

To allow access to other, more dangerous, less helpful substances while denying access to marijuana is tyranny.

      1.  Cigarettes? Try dealing with the lies told your child by others who convince him it won’t hurt anything and it’s “cool”

Again, while I understand that you have had a personal experience with this, and I am sorry for that, it comes down to the right of the individual to choose to use the substance.

Now, on cigarettes, I would have to say that it is reasonable to expect cigarette smokers to refrain from smoking in public places, considering that the smoke can harm others. It should probably be regulated with similar laws as alcohol, with the exception of those laws which were created to combat people trying to do activities which would be dangerous while experiencing an altered state of consciousness.

The goal here, as with all the other points, is protection of the rights of the individual. For the government to deny the rights of an individual is tyranny. For the government to deny the rights of an individual based on the desires of another individual’s personal beliefs or morality is inequality.

Individual rights, applied equally and protected to the utmost by the government would allow for all of these things to one degree or another. Without government influence, in a free, capitalism driven society, these things are self-limiting. Those who want success or long life are careful with the substances they take in. Parents who want their children to hold off on sex until they are of an appropriate age will do what they need to do to arrange for that. Those who do not, will suffer from the things they will experience within the capitalist society-less luxuries, possible homelessness, even death. Those people who are unfortunate enough to wind up in these situations can thus be held up for the rest of society as reasons to probably avoid those things within the society.

I think Gandhi said it best: People are only free if they have the freedom to err.

 

(extra note:  I hold a libertarian position on abortion, for more info on that go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertarian_perspectives_on_abortion )

 

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What are you doing 11/5/13?


I don’t care who you are, what your political or religious beliefs are, what color or gender or age you are.

divide and conquer

None of that matters.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of watching the government do as it pleases, whether D or R, conservative or liberal.  I’m tired of looking back over the last 20 years of politics and saying,”What the…  What are they doing?”

Take the day off.  It won’t kill you.  Make a trip to your capitol or to DC.  If you come to DC, look for a tall guy with white hair.  That’s me.  Say hi.

https://www.facebook.com/events/505027169551591/

Hope to see you there.  (masks and signs optional, body and mind necessary)

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“The Rise of the Christian Left in America”-some conclusions


demopublicanchristian

The article “The Rise of the Christian Left in America” in the publication “The Atlantic” is an interesting article depicting the apparent shift in voting attitudes within the culture of “Christians in the United States”.  It gives a variety of data which would lead the reader to the conclusion that Christians, especially the young adult, are turning away from more conservative ideals of the group and focusing more and more on the “feel good” portions of the message of Christianity, that they are focusing on altruistic ideals which will lead to voting attitudes.

While this may be true for many Christians, I would suggest that this article misses one of the main points.  Christians have already shown themselves to be of varied opinions and voting attitudes, and have been for years.  There is one ideal that they hold to, which is make or break, that they will generally all vote together on, regardless of what any political group offers otherwise.

Freedom to practice their religion.

Freedom to express religion, for Christians of any variety or political leaning, is an issue that ranks right up there with the second amendment for gun owners.  It’s a “do not cross” line, which, if social and alternative media is to be believed, is being crossed on a number of fronts.

From the choice of various Islamic friendly individuals to high level appointments to recent rumblings of the potential disciplinary action of soldiers for evangelizing(a topic of major importance within any religion seeking to grow), many Christians now feel that they are “under siege” for their beliefs.

Could this data be used by politicians?  Sure.  They simply have to continue the same arguments they have been having in the “general public” realm about healthcare and social policies.  The side who supports subsidizing healthcare and other social issues will draw the Christian “left” and the side that calls for encouraging charity over legislated mandatory solutions for these things will draw the Christian “right” votes.

This focus will only be effective in terms of drawing separate portions of Christianity as a voting group, however.

To really get Christians, and possibly more importantly, their leadership, behind one side or the other, they have to turn to using religion as the age-old “opiate of the masses”.

One way to do this would be to focus on any assault on the practice of religion by the other side, and claiming that candidates from “our party” are Christians and will not allow any legislation to pass which threatens their constitutional right to practice their religion.  Even simply focusing on this desire to protect the right, without pointing to threats, will provide an undercurrent of  “We have to protect ourselves”, which will allow any group that uses this wisely to sway voters to their side, in many cases regardless of most other issues.

The politician in question, though, will have to publicly avoid certain discussions, if they have moderate leanings themselves.  Conservative Christians will want a person who will “stand strong” on social issues, while moderates and liberals will be willing to make allowances on the social issues, so long as the politician makes a public issue to “really care” about the social issues.

Unified, as a block of voters, Christians are quite a force in politics, and using these methods, easily manipulated into voting for or against a politician, usually with little in the way of valid evidence.  Seperated, divided into “left”, “right”, “moderate” and the rest, they can be basically ignored.

It is my opinion that politically, Christian leanings will be marginalized in an effort to appeal more broadly to a wider number of voters.  This may be inevitable, in the long run, but in the short run, any appeal to Christianity in areas that are heavily populated by Christians would be wise to consider this “fear/protection” element in their campaigns.

 

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Monsanto is….?


I’ve been through the deluge of information out there that “Monsanto is EEEEVVVIIIILLLL!”.  “GMOS ARE TEH DEBIL!”.  I dunno, it all smacks of heartfelt claims that don’t have a legitimate basis.  Don’t get me wrong, Monsanto could be horrible and GMO’s might be the end of all humanity, but I just need more information to come to those conclusions than,”They’re playing with God’s work” or “Well, they did something bad once upon a time”.

Of course, then there’s this:  http://exitmundi.nl/exitmundi.htm  (click on the picture labeled “yuk!”)

Indestructible grain destroys humanity.

Indestructible grain destroys humanity.

So…  me being me, I sent them a letter asking for more information.  Here’s the letter I sent through their “contact us!” link:

Hello, I’m trying to form a reasoned position about your company, your products, and your practices. There is plenty of information that depicts your company and products as “bad”, but some of the concepts-like drought resistant corn, appear good. Right now, I think that there is a general fear of anything people do not understand, as well as a fear of “large corporations” and their potential to do powerfully bad things. Put it all together, and I can’t speak for or against you or your products. I wind up fearing the products, even though I can see the potential for genetic modification to produce powerful agricultural items that could help the world. I can also see the potential for horrific consequences. I asked someone who was presenting you as a negative whether the problem was all GMOs, or more a fear that the GMO’s you produce are understudied and not understood by the public. The answers I got were heartfelt, but pretty unclear when it came to logic, appealing to opinion, religion, or security in “the old ways”. One even suggested that enough food is already produced without GMOs to end world hunger, and that your products were unnecessary, as if that was a reason in and of itself. So, I come to you. What are the potential products? Besides drought resistant corn, could you increase the nutritional value of a vegetable? Give it different flavors? Increased crop yields? What safeguards are there in place to prevent hybridization of special strains of corn? How many generations of plant should I expect to get if I purchase seeds from your company? (There are rumors that strains cease to be able to be replanted after 2 or 3 generations) What about the future? Could you produce a plant capable of growing on a semi-habitable planet, or one that does well with less sunlight, more sunlight, differences in gravity? Could you make a plant that would be able to be planted and grown in someone’s house without special equipment, that might be a way for urbanites to feed their families healthier food? If you have any other information that you think would be helpful to me in defining my position and thinking about your company, please, bring it up. Thank you, Arthur Russell

I fully expected to get no response, them being a “big, terrifying company” and me being “nobody important”.  I was pleasantly surprised to get this in response yesterday:

Dear Mr. Russell:

Thank you for contacting us – and my apologies for sending you so much information . . .

Executive Summary, Product Safety Summary and Peer Reviewed Safety Publications for our products can be found on our website www.monsanto.com:

http://www.monsanto.com/products/Pages/product-safety-summaries.aspx

Our Research & Development Pipeline (corn, soybean, cotton, specialty crops & vegetables):

http://www.monsanto.com/products/Pages/research-development-pipeline.aspx

From the Golden Rice Humanitarian Board http://www.goldenrice.org/

Please see information about agriculture and biotechnology:

http://www.monsanto.com/improvingagriculture/Pages/a-brief-history-of-agriculture.aspx

http://www.monsanto.com/improvingagriculture/Pages/biotechnology-101.aspx

http://www.monsanto.com/products/Pages/biotech-research.aspx

I invite you to take a look at the PBS series America’s Heartland ( http://www.americasheartland.org/ ), which offers a picture of American agriculture.

We have a series of videos on YouTube – such as Food for Thought – What do America’s Farmers grow?

Also, please see these articles about food safety:

http://www.monsanto.com/newsviews/Pages/food-safety.aspx#q1

http://www.monsanto.com/newsviews/Pages/food-safety-science.aspx

http://www.monsanto.com/newsviews/Pages/Biotech-Food-GMO-Safety.aspx

http://www.monsanto.com/newsviews/Pages/biotech-safety-gmo-advantages.aspx

along with some outside sources:

http://www.who.int/foodsafety/biotech/en/

http://www.who.int/foodsafety/publications/biotech/20questions/en/

http://www.ama-assn.org/resources/doc/csaph/a12-csaph2-bioengineeredfoods.pdf

http://reason.com/archives/2013/02/22/the-top-five-lies-about-biotech-crops

http://www.aaas.org/news/releases/2012/1025gm_statement.shtml

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2408621/

Top Five Myths Of Genetically Modified Seeds, Busted

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/10/18/163034053/top-five-myths-of-genetically-modified-seeds-busted

and Mark Lynas in the UK:

http://vimeo.com/56745320    &    http://www.whybiotech.com/newsandevents/Mark_Lynas_Speech.pdf

http://www.marklynas.org/2013/04/time-to-call-out-the-anti-gmo-conspiracy-theory/

A good source about biotechnology and GM crops is the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications. (http://www.isaaa.org/default.asp )

ISAAA does extensive surveys and studies on biotech/GM crops worldwide each year.  Their 2012 report has just been issued.

http://www.isaaa.org/resources/publications/briefs/44/executivesummary/default.asp

They also have many publications available.

A very good one is “Agricultural Biotechnology (A Lot More than Just GM Crops).”

http://www.isaaa.org/resources/publications/agricultural_biotechnology/download/Agricultural_Biotechnology.pdf

This brochure presents tools that are important for agricultural biotechnology such as

– Conventional plant breeding

– Tissue culture and micropropagation

– Molecular breeding or marker assisted selection

– Genetic engineering and GM crops

– Molecular Diagnostic Tools

as well as questions and answers about GM crops

and http://www.isaaa.org/resources/publications/pocketk/5/default.asp (Documented Benefits of GM Crops)

I hope you find this helpful. Please contact us again if you need additional information.

Sincerely,

Monsanto Webmaster

Now, I have not gone through all of this information yet, and I don’t think I will be entirely satisfied when I have gone through it all.  However, their simple willingness to share the information is, to me, a good sign.  It’s all freely available on the internet, but they certainly saved me a lot of time in looking around, and I really appreciate that.

 

I haven’t come to any conclusions yet, but I’m working on it.  I just can’t assume that they are bad without considering all the possible information.

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No hope for peace in the middle east(even against zombies)?


http://home.myhughesnet.com/news/read/category/Top%20News/article/ap-in_zombies_israelis_and_arabs_find_commo-ap

 

This article starts off interestingly, pointing out that, at least in a fictional zombie apocalypse, Israelis and Arabs can come together against a force that is mindlessly destroying the species.  As you go on, however, it darkens.

The film is seen as too “pro-Israel” in arab circles, apparently.  The idea that there ever can be peace between the two, even when faced with a threat to all of humanity, is called difficult to imagine.  I don’t get it.  How can a racial hatred run so deep that it cannot be put aside, even for a fictional situation?  Worse, what would happen in reality?  Would the Israelis find that those they had saved in the fictional world would immediately begin trying to kill Israelis or something?

 

What madness.  I think I have to use the “Cthulhu approves” stamp for this one.  If racial hatred runs this deep, especially if it turns out to run this deep in other examples of racial hatred, then there really is no hope for the human race.

th

Cthulhu would be so proud.

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Divided we fall…


Black vs White.

Liberal vs Conservative.

Christian vs Atheist.

Rich vs… everyone else.

These divisions are brought to the forefront of our social consciousness by our mainstream media.  These are the things highlighted by journalists in order to capture our attention to gain ratings and sell papers and magazines.

They are unnecessary, though.  The only purpose in highlighting these things is to maintain the divisions in our society.  Ask yourself-who does that serve?

My opinion-it serves the government.  It keeps the citizens focused on their problems with each other and not the systemic issues that exist throughout our government.

Have you paid attention to recent elections?  George Bush was a nice enough guy, but probably a puppet.  John McCain was about as desirable a presidential candidate as Mussolini, and ran against someone who the media refused to show anything negative.  Romney, on the other hand, seemed to be a nice guy, but who seemed to have much of the same agenda as the man he ran against.

The man who won, Barack Obama, ran on the idea of “hope” and “change” and “moving forward”.  The only idea that really came through for me from either of the times he ran for president was that he supported socialism.

I say all that to say this-we are presented with the choice, every election it seems, with bad and worse.  We vote for (and fanatically support) the “least bad” and put them at the head of our government.  Having two “parties” which are diametrically opposed simply makes us have to choose some “bad” things with some “good” things when we vote.

The divisions in our society prevent us from doing anything to fix it, either.  Nobody can get together and make a move similar to Egypt, with millions marching on DC in order to demand change in the Federal government and an end to “party” politics.

Nothing can be done because the people are divided.  People who are for abortion and gay marriage can’t march with a person who waves a bible because their views differ, even though they would both be served by bringing real change to the system.  Few black people would march with white people (and vice versa) because “they” are “different from us” and “they” don’t understand “our” problems.  The rich, well, they will get richer, no matter the situation presented.  The poor will be focused on the other divisions of our society, as well as being made consistently aware that poor is equal to powerless.

Until we can overcome these things, our ballooning, out of control federal government will continue to balloon in size and act as it chooses, no longer as a servant to the citizens of the US, but in support of their own personal goals, keeping, maintaining, and increasing power for themselves.

Even if change was made, though, how our lot as a nation would improve is pretty unclear, to me.  Would people be able to move on and act together to build up our country and improve the lives of our citizens after such an act?  Could an electoral system be put into place that brings an end to the concept of “the guy with the most money and who is loved by the media wins”?  Could people effectively eliminate political parties, and be able to vote on leaders based on individual merit?

Given human nature, I’m just not sure.  It has been said that the US would best be served by a revolution every 50 years or so.  After that time, the system will have spoiled, tyranny will be on the rise, and individual rights will be sacrificed, because people will have forgotten just how ridiculous the government had been before.

Revolution, bloodless or armed, though, is not something that can be reasonably considered as long as we remain divided by the things I mentioned before.  Can these divisions be overcome?  How?

 

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Rage against the Machine-Sleep now in the fire


I love this video.  I was 16 when this happened, and completely unaware of the politics or anything.  I wish I had been there.  20 years later, and nothing has really changed, except for the fact that the “men in blue” would probably show up in full swat gear in militarized vehicles with M4s or AR-15s.

Tom Morello-care to do a repeat performance?

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