Saturday, March 29, 2014

Corporate Religion ... Monetizing Hypocrisy

Hobby Lobby has made the claim that funding a collective insurance pool that allows for birth control violates it's (the piece of paper that is the corporation) Religious Conscience. They say that there is no separation between the beliefs of the family owners and the actions of the company.  This would be an amazing change of corporate structure in the United States.  Corporations were created to remove owners from their corporations, as a shield to lawsuits, criminal prosecutions, liability and taxation. If Hobby Lobby wins will they accept the full consequences of their actions?

If, as Hobby Lobby says, corporations are only extensions of their owners and boards does it not follow that every act of the corporation is a direct act of those that control the corporations?  Would we not then be able to swear out warrants for car manufacturers that knowingly allow faulty ignition switches that have lead to deaths? Could we not hold BP officials personally responsible for the costs and damages incurred by the 2010 Gulf oil spill, and the negligent homicide of 11 individuals?  Could we demand prison time for the pilfering of the mortgage market by Jamie Dimone?

Of course this is not what they intend with their suit. They want to be able to dictate their moral views onto those that work for them.  They say that they believe that abortion is wrong, and that some drugs that may be covered in their insurance pool could cause abortions and so they should be allowed to not participate.  Where were their moral quandaries when they purchased goods from China, a state sponsor of abortion?  Why have they not banned all goods supplied by a communist nation that for decades had a forced abortion policy? Because it is not about morality. Corporations do not have morals, they do not have a conscience, or accountability, or doubts, or thoughts, or anything else associated with humanity. They are simply legal structures of organization for completing the tasks of business and providing a wall of protection for the owners.

Hobby Lobby has no soul, it has no God (other than profit) to answer to, there will be no day of judgement for this piece of paper in the ever after. The owners of Hobby Lobby believe that they should be able to use their wealth to tell people how they must behave at all times. They believe that they can hide behind their corporate charter and, at the same time, bind themselves into the charter as the soul of the corporation. They cannot have it both ways.

If the owners of Hobby Lobby wish to be the arbiters of morality for their employees, too bad. If they wish to not participate in the Insurance Market, they are free to do just that. They will have to pay a fine so that the subsidies for their employees will be covered. And if they want to be against abortion, I suggest they find new suppliers for their goods... but they won't because this is about money, and they need China, and their state sponsored abortion will never be a moral quandary for Hobby Lobby's bottom line.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Pro-Life Atheists

Patheos recently had an article by a Pro-Life Atheist explaining her position and the arguments for those positions.  It was not taken well by the community. You can read the Post here. A rebuttal was also added from a Pro-Choice Atheist here.
    I waded into the argument because I am Pro-Choice. I believe a woman's bodily autonomy is Sacrosanct and no one has the right to dictate decisions onto another about their bodies.  I explained my position as one of viability. I have no right to take another person and use them as a blood filter, food source or blood oxygenator for myself, all things a fetus must have from  a woman to survive. My point is that you cannot be forced to subject your body to the needs of your children (or anyone else) once they are out of the womb.  You can voluntarily give blood, a kidney, bone marrow, etc... but you cannot be forced to save another's life. 
    The problem I have with the Pro-Life people (Secular or Religious) is their granting special rights to the fetus. They say the right of the Fetus to live is more important than the right of the woman to her body, but if that is true then it would have to hold that a fetus is more human than all others or we all have the right to take what we need to survive from those around us. It always becomes an issue of emotion (think about the BABY) over rational conclusions. Outlawing abortions would be a disaster. I promote expanded sexual education, access to cheap birth control, and alternatives for those who do not want abortions. If you do not believe in abortions, no one is forcing you to have one. If you believe that abortion is murder then that is your right, but I disagree.
    The biggest problem I had with the original Pro-Life post (besides the horrible justifications disguised as arguments) were those in the comments saying she did not belong in the Atheist community. Last I checked Atheism was about the need for evidence regarding gods. Expanding the Atheism community to include the skeptical community would bring in those that demand evidence for all things, and this still does not preclude those with differing opinions, especially over something as vague as when life begins. Their us and them, black and white, mentalities were not acceptable to me. They called her an enemy thus removing her humanity and allowing for complete dismissal of her arguments, and any further discussion.  It was a sad view into the absolutists in the Atheist community.
     I asked there and will ask here: Where does it end? Factioning into little sub groups incapable of talking to eachother because of differences that have nothing to do with Atheism. Pro-Life vs Pro-Choice, Pro-Gun vs Pro-Control, Conservative vs Liberal, Anti-GMO vs Pro-GMO... all inside the Atheist movement and unable to come together over the issues that should unite us.
     Stop trying to stifle the voices you do not agree with, do not o"other" them in an attempt to not have to engage in civil discussion. Do not dismiss their opinions solely out of adherence to those views you already hold. We should be able to present our arguments to eachother with thought out, reasoned, rational debate and the best ideas should win the day. Shouting over those you disagree with does not support your side, it bashes theirs.I have been guilty of this when arguing with theists, I admit.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

What's Good for the Goose...

Hearing the members of the Senate Intelligence Committee complain that the CIA spied on their computer use has gotten me a little bit perturbed. Where was your outrage when the CIA and NSA were spying on every American living in this century? Where was your outrage when our spy agency was bugging the offices of our closest allies? Where was your outrage when it came to light that you approved these measures?

You attacked Mr. Snowden for making this information available to all of us. You make him an enemy of the State forced to seek sanctuary from our enemies. You demonize him on the morning news shows and act as if his taking a stand to uphold his oath to defend the Constitution from Domestic threats is wrong. You were the threat he was referring to, your lazy acceptance of justifications for the shredding of the 4th Amendment and cataloging of data that the government has no right to.

And now you want to cry foul when the CIA does exactly what you told them they had every right to do? I think not. Accept your roles in this situation. You handed the keys to these people, don't get pissed off when they use them to look through your dirt laundry.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

We are all people

Every movement has had its detractors, those that sat aside and neither spoke out for or against those not powerful enough to stand for themselves and those that took a stand for equanimity in our laws and acceptance in our society. From the end of slavery to women's suffrage to segregation to civil rights to marriage equality, it is the same. Treating other human beings as if they are the same as you. It does not matter their color, culture, heritage, creed, dogma, sexual orientation, body size, mental capacity, or reproductive organs... We are all the same. We are all complex, impossible to define and unique. Do not be one of those who sits aside and watches as the rest turn away from those that most need our assistance, compassion and simple acceptance as people.

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Problem with the Status Quo and Military Rape

We have expanded our military to include minorities and women and homosexuals over the course of the years. But in that time we have not kept an updated justice system that works for all of the members of the military. Professional retaliation is a real threat, bad performance reviews, collusion between officers to cause harm, assignment to the least popular and most loathsome bases.  There are many ways that commanders have complete control over their soldiers lives and futures.

The military is supposed to be about rules, fairness, responsibility, duty, honor, and respect.  Our current military justice system does not foster these ideals, it allows for personal retribution, clannish sexism and unspoken laws of silence.  There were 3,300 reported rapes last year in the US Armed Forces. It is suspected that the actual number of rapes was closer to 26,000. This is an astounding differential in reports and crimes.

The current system of having to report your rape to you immediate commander makes for an atmosphere of terror for the victims.  What if you commander was the rapist? What of the destruction of the unit cohesion with accusations, and counter accusations?  What of the camaraderie built up over time and its influence on the commanders decisions? What of the reflections on the commanders for allowing these things to happen in their own units? Who will the commander tell? How quickly will everyone find out? What if the rapist is spreading tales about the victim being lose and easy? Many other questions could be asked.

Commanders should not have the ability to determine the validity of claims over the men they serve with. AT best their judgement is clouded, at worst they will protect friends and allies for personal gain or protection. It is time to remove this power from commanders and place it into the hands of parties removed from those involved who can judge with a less biased eye.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Rant over new legislation

American Christian Conservatives

I am an Atheist. I am from Southeast Alabama, born and raised. I was brought up as a Christian. I have attended Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian and other denominations over the course of my life. I have read the Bible more than once. I have also read many other religious texts in my journey to find truth in this world. I have arrived at Atheism as the best answer available to me.

I would like you to look at our history as a Nation. Our founding principles and our ever evolving societal norms. When our Nation was founded  slavery was the norm. It was so normal that slaves were given a 3/5th’weight as a human. This was fully supported by Christianity in most of it’s forms at the time. Women were not considered citizens, and this was also completely acceptable in a Christian moral view.

Over the course of our history we have always had a majority of citizens that identified themselves as Christian. We have also witnessed these different sects fight over what was and was not acceptable as interpretations of the Biblical Truth. Slowly, we have moved from a strict and literal interpretation to a more open and progressive interpretation. Slavery is now considered unacceptable and women have been moved higher (although still second class) in our society. Justifications have been made, and then dashed using the Bible. It is able to be interpreted in many different ways depending on who the reader is and what portions of the Bible they are referring to. The Old Testament is all fire and Brimstone, death and rape, murder and slavery. Jesus brings a new outlook of compassion and acceptance and equanimity.

Yet, there are those among the Christian Conservatives who refuse to accept these progressive ideas. They still agree that slavery is wrong, and that women should have a greater role, but now they see Homosexuality as the great fight that Christianity must stand against. And they use the same justifications and interpretations to prop up their argument for discrimination. It is a sad repetition  of their past mistakes.

We also have those that demand State sanctioned prayer. Those that fight for monuments of their faith to be given exclusive rights to occupy our houses of governance. We have those that use their faith as a weapon to bash in the reproductive rights of women. Those who see their faith as more valid than the civil rights of those they disagree with.  I would like you to think long and hard about the consequences of this privileged view of yourselves.

Before 1955 there was no “In God We Trust” on our currency, or in our motto. We were formed under the banner of  “E Pluribus Unum” One From Many.   This is the thing you do not seem to understand about our great Nation. Our differences are what define us, not our likenesses. We are over 80 percent Christian, but we are not a Christian Nation. We are descendants of all the World. The Christians that came here, came here to remove themselves from the religious oppression of others.  There is a reason that the Constitution has no mention of Religion other than to preclude it as a necessity or preference to hold office. Religion is of the people, not of the State. You can live and worship as you see fit, but the Government cannot help or hinder your efforts. 

My State has a new proposal for governmental issuance of religious decrees. They believe that each morning, every child in public school should receive a word for word recitation of whatever prayers are uttered in the Congress. It is being sold as a civics lesson. I would prefer a civics lesson that included the rulings of our courts clearly defining the limits of school prayer. Students are completely capable of praying in school anytime they see fit. The limitation occurs when a representative of the school (State) tries to lead the class in religious practices. This also gives the Government the power to show preference to certain religions over others.

The exciting new argument is one of religious freedom extending to being able to refuse service to anyone who violates your religious convictions.  This is a terrifying prospect when it is codified to grant specific, special rights based on the religious beliefs of a person.  Remember those guys that all went to meet the Comet? Remember Jim Jones? And it gets worse here, we have a proposed law that would allow medical professionals to deny service based on their faiths.  Special, Specific powers and protections afforded only to religious persons.  This opens the door to so many contradictory beliefs and demands that it would become impossible for us to function as a society.  Who defines what is a valid protestation of faith, and what is simple a justification for anything? Will a religion that demands violence be allowed to be violent if their faiths says that they must?  Will we all have to pray to certain gods at certain times or face criminal sanctions? Will we have to wear all of our thoughts and feelings on a sign around our necks to make sure we are following the religious convictions of everyone around us?

Society is an agreement to all try and work together for the betterment of everyone involved. We use Government (Representative Republic) to give us a Secular point to maintain the agreement for everyone.  The Constitution was fashioned to give a framework to build upon. It is flexible and malleable and alive.  We cannot allow any group to grant themselves special powers or protections.

If you don’t like Gay Marriage, don’t get Gay Married.  If you don’t like abortions, educate children about sexuality, provide cheap contraception, advocate for your beliefs, don’t have one. If you want a monument to the Ten Commandments, build one on your property with your money. You want to have state prayers read at your children every morning? Move to some of the more theocratic Islamic Nations.  We are all Americans. We are every type of person there are. If your faith is so shaken by having to live with people different than you, perhaps you should seek a new faith or pray for direction.  And if you want your church to decide the policies of our Government, you are going to have to pay taxes like everyone else.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Letters to the Editor faceoff

 A Local Dentist decided to air his views on Polygamy and marriage in general, I had to respond.


My first response

Dentist Response

My Last Response