Freethinking for Dummies

Skepticism, secular humanism, social issues

Cold, Heartless, Selfish, Greedy Bastards

I stumbled into an unintended and upsetting FB conversation last night.  It started with this:

 

stupid

So I commented that if you can’t afford food, you do.

What follows is the conversation that ensued.  Much of the tone was expected, but some of it was a bit more… well, read on.  

(The identities of the other commenters have been masked out, mainly to protect myself from being banned from FB for calling them cold, heartless, selfish, greedy bastards)

Stupid1

Ok, fair enough.  Maybe she doesn’t understand that some people just find themselves in an unfortunate situations beyond their control.  Although, I do abhor this whole “mooching off the taxpayers” crap.  Doesn’t the U.S. Constitution say that one of the reasons that this government was created was to promote the general welfare?  I’d think feeding those who need it part of the general welfare.

So I decided to pull from my own experience and give an example of why programs like Food Stamps are important.

Stupid2

She doesn’t seem to get the idea that I got laid off.  I didn’t quite my job.  I didn’t get fired for being a fuck up.  I got laid off.   That wasn’t a good enough excuse for her though.

Stupid3

Now the greed and avarice become plainly apparent.  My comparison of paying taxes for food stamps to paying for fire departments didn’t fly.  I guess if it doesn’t immediately benefit her, it isn’t a valid tax.  

So I give a, sadly, too common example of how someone can find themselves and their children in a situation for which they have no responsibility at all.  She never replied to my last point, but posted another pithy, pity-the-poor-tax-payer, image.  Someone else, however, did respond.  His response was as vile and repugnant as anything I’ve ever read.  

Stupid4

Yeah.  Read it again.  If you aren’t angry enough to spit, then you better head off to Oz to ask the Great and Powerful Wizard for a heart.

I’m not going to go into why people feel like they can be such assholes when the have the anonymity of the internet to protect them, a recent article in Scientific America covers that topic pretty well.  What really disgusts and, honestly, frightens me, is that even though this bastard might feel emboldened to write this due to not having to actually look anyone who needs assistance in the eye while saying it, he surely believes it.

People like this talk about entitlement programs like they are a plague out to bring ruin to them.  They don’t like “entitlement” programs, but in reality, they are just trying to protect their own sense of entitlement.  The feel that they are entitled to everything they have, which is fine, we all deserve to enjoy the fruits of our labor, but they also seem to think that they are entitled to tell others what they can and can not have.  

Yes, we all pay taxes and none of us like everything our taxes go to.  I don’t like that my taxes went to bail out a bunch of greedy fucks on Wall Street, but I think that the bail out was needed to keep us out of a depression.  I didn’t like my taxes going to a completely unnecessary war in Iraq.   We can’t just have our taxes go to only the things we like.  Living in a democracy means that sometimes you have to accept things you don’t like.  When one party controls the government by 51%, 49% of the people have to deal with a government that they didn’t vote for.  This is the price of living in a free, democratic society.  

But this example I’ve given here speaks to more than just the reality of living in a democracy, it highlights the uncaring, selfishness and cupidity that seems to permeate our society.  The mood in our society is one of contumely and avarice.  There is no sense of charity or caring for anyone but ourselves and our families.  We have gone from a great society of Americans bound together by a shared vision of liberty and equality to a band of millions of small, insignificant familial tribes who care only for their own interests.  We have become a society of cold, heartless, selfish, greedy bastards. 

July 28, 2012 Posted by | Humanism, Social Justice | , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Skepticism’s Dirty Little Secret Isn’t Secret Anymore

It started with Elevatorgate.  Rebecca Watson related an experience she had at a conference at which she’d just spoken about how uncomfortable it makes women to be constantly hit on at conferences.  Afterwards she was going up to her hotel room in the elevator and there was a man there with her who was at the conference.  He asked her if she’d like to go back to his room.  That was exactly the type of unwelcome advance that she was speaking out about.  In a video blog about the incident she simply asked men to please not do that.  

She didn’t  call the guy a scumbag, she didn’t rail against men in general, or even those types in particular.  She didn’t call for all women to rally around the feminists flag.  She merely asked men to be respectful of women and not hit on them.

For her troubles she was called a bitch and a cunt.  She was told that she deserved to be raped.  She was threatened with rape and violence.  Even the venerable Richard Dawkins weighed in saying that women like her needed to stop whining and think about all the women in the world who are forced into prostitution, abused by men, forcible raped, etc.  

All of this highlighted the ugly underbelly of the skeptic, humanist, and atheist communities: men just don’t get it.   Yes, there women around the world in much worse situations that Rebecca and other women like her in our society.  That’s not the point.  The point is that women feel unsafe in places where they should feel safe.  The point is that women are being treated like objects.  This treatment may not raise to the level rape, forced prostitution, or genital mutilation, but it is still unacceptable because it creates fear in thousands of women.  No one she feel unsafe, especially in a community that prides itself on its inclusiveness.

Not only do some men in our community not get it, some are downright misogynistic.  They are quick to call women who speak out about sexism in the community feminazis, whores, and man-haters.  

Then there are the, what I will call, accommodationist.  They try to show their understanding and support of women while at the same time making excuses for mens’ bad behavior.  They say that these men are a product of their society, that they didn’t mean to offend, or some other lame assed excuse.  

The fact is that there is no excuse for sexist and myogynistic behavior.  And there certainly is no excuse for character assignations and threats of violence.  

Women in the community have had enough of this disgusting behavior from men.   They have said resoundingly that they do not feel safe at conferences.  The vicious attacks from the misogynists have frightened them.

The effects of this may be seen at this year’s registration for TAM.  Up until last year, registration for women was close to about 40%.  So far this year it is 18%.  Once can’t help but wonder if the events of this past year have had an influence on the huge drop in female registrations for TAM.

JD Grothe, president of the JREF and TAM’s organizer certainly thinks so.  He recently stated, 

Last year we had 40% women attendees, something I’m really happy about. But this year only about 18% of TAM registrants so far are women, a significant and alarming decrease, and judging from dozens of emails we have received from women on our lists, this may be due to the messaging that some women receive from various quarters that going to TAM or other similar conferences means they will be accosted or harassed. (This is misinformation. Again, there’ve been on reports of such harassment the last two TAMs while I’ve been at the JREF, nor any reports filed with authorities at any other TAMs of which I’m aware.) We have gotten emails over the last few months from women vowing never to attend TAM because they heard that JREF is purported to condone child-sex-trafficking, and emails in response to various blog posts about JREF or me that seem to suggest I or others at the JREF promote the objectification of women, or that we condone violence or threats of violence against women, or that they believe that women would be unsafe because we feature this or that man on the program. I think this misinformation results from irresponsible messaging coming from a small number of prominent and well-meaning women skeptics who, in trying to help correct real problems of sexism in skepticism, actually and rather clumsily themselves help create a climate where women — who otherwise wouldn’t — end up feeling unwelcome and unsafe, and I find that unfortunate.

He singled out Rebecca as one of those who were being, as he claimed, irresponsible.

Rebecca: Off the top of my head, your quote in USA Today might suggest that the freethought or skeptics movements are unsafe for women. This is from the article:

“I thought it was a safe space,” Watson said of the freethought community. “The biggest lesson I have learned over the years is that it is not a safe space. . . ”

Rebecca recently announce that she will not be attending TAM this year.  I don’t blame her.  This is incredibly sad, not because a well know skeptic won’t be attending, but because that those 40% of woman attending last year is in large part due to Rebecca and others at Skepchick.  They have been raising money for years to send women to TAM and have succeeded in helping the number of women attending TAM to double over the last few years.   This surge in women attendees have spilled over into other conferences such as Skepticon, and has fueled a flowering of hundreds of skeptical female voices in the blogosphere.  

I was pondering attending TAM, but decided against it several weeks ago for financially reasons.  Now I’m defiantly glad that we didn’t register.  I would have been compelled to not attend TAM, despite losing  a substantial amount of money for the registration fee.  But more importantly, I could not attend TAM because I can not condone, or support with my money and presence, DJ’s stance here.  Blaming women who speak out about their feelings and fears is no different than blaming a rape victim for being raped.  

Of course this doesn’t rise to the level of rape, but the results are in the same.  Women are being victimized by being blamed for speaking out and taking action against an injustice.  They are being made to feel violated simply by saying they feel unsafe.  

I won’t consider attending TAM until I see that the organizers are willing to stop blaming women and take real, meaningful actions to stop sexual harassment at their conference.  I am also withholding my financial support for the JREF and will no longer write for the JREF blog while these conditions remain.

I am hoping that men in the community will respond to these events by voicing their support for Rebecca and all women in our community who are outraged by this latest turn of events.  I would call on PZ Myers, Phil Plait and other prominent male skeptics, who I know wholeheartedly support women’s rights,  to avoid TAM.  We need to send a message to DJ and other organizers that this behavior will not stand.  Maybe if we start throwing our support and our money behind other events, such at  CFI’s Women in Secularism conference, this will send a message to organizers of conferences to take real, meaningful actions to alleviate this problem.  Hopefully this will allow us to create events and venues where all participants can feel welcomed and safe. 

 

 

 

defiantly

June 2, 2012 Posted by | Atheism, Feminism, Humanism, secular humanism, Skepticism, Social Justice | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Heaven & Hell

 

John Shook has a great piece on the Center For Inquiry blog about how religion isn’t about hope, but personal wish-fullfillment, control, and our secret desire for revenge.  Here are two paragraphs that nicely sum up what I want to talk about today:

Heaven and hell are more about enforcing moral retribution upon everyone, and not about loving consolation for everyone. I said earlier that religion personally is largely about private wish-fulfillment. But at the social level, religion is mostly about imposing a public moral system. And not just any moral system – religions with heavens and hells have moral systems about obedience, vengeance, and retribution. With heaven and hell, private wish-fulfillment nicely pairs up with public moral-expectation. God delivers love to us because we feel deserving of that love. God delivers vengeful retribution upon others because we wish we could do it to them ourselves.

When believers say, “My God is all about Love!” what they are actually saying is that God really loves them and doesn’t love others. These are the kind of people who can’t feel truly loved unless someone else doesn’t get that love. Such a childishly selfish attitude, barely tolerable from the three year-old pushing the older sibling away from the parental lap, is entirely despicable from adults. Yet religious societies take this to the public level, effectively frightening members into obedience, and warning outsiders not in that good company that they will suffer for it. Join our religion, the message rings out, or else you’ll get hell for it!

I’ve read several blog posts today about this subject of heaven and hell and how you can’t have a heaven without a hell.  Except for Unitarian Universalists, all most no religion, especially forms of Christianity, has a concept of Heaven without a corresponding hell.  The problem with this, besides the horrific fact that so many people seem to take pleasure at the potential eternal suffering of others, is that hell just doesn’t fit in with the concept of a god of love.  God is seen as a parental figure, someone who makes the rules and rewards or punishes and who we always want to try to please.  What parent would willingly send their child somewhere where they would be tortured and tormented?  Only an sick, sadistic parent would.  So if there is hell, then god is a sick sadist.

Religious belief like this is, as John says, childishly selfish.  It has pain and punishment for those we are jealous of built right in.  The only real love there is the love for those we choose to love and for ourselves.

This is why I take a humanist approach to life.  Humanism has at it’s core the wellbeing of all people, everywhere.  When you put all people on a level playing field and treat them all equally, then you can’t help but act in the best interests of everyone.  Of course we have to take care of ourselves and our loved ones, but humanist ideals say that we shouldn’t do that at the expense of others.

As John sums up in another of his posts on the same subject:

Give me a morality, a humanist one, that finally centers on the one life that we all know we have.

March 20, 2011 Posted by | Atheism, Humanism, Religion | , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

The God’s Will Fallacy

…during (Timothy) Dwight’s tenure, since he personally delivered more than two hundred sermons to undergraduates on the dangers of religious infidelity. One of his most memorable perorations proclaimed the immorality of smallpox vaccination, introduced by Dr. William Jenner in 1796. An earlier form of inoculation against smallpox had been employed by progressive, educated New Englanders like the Adams family since the 1760s. In a departure from the general eighteenth-century approval of scientific advances—a predilection of many orthodox believers as well as freethinkers—Dwight argued that if God had decided from all eternity that an individual’s fate was to die of smallpox, it was a sin to interfere with the divine plan through a man-made trick like vaccination.”

 

The above quote is from Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism by Susan Jacoby.  It is an excellent example of the inhumanness of a conservative religious mindset.  It is the supernatural version of the Naturalism Fallacy.

 

The Naturalism Fallacy basically assumes that anything that is natural is good and by extension, anything that isn’t natural is bad.  Here we have the supernatural version of that which I shall call the God’s Will Fallacy.  This fallacy assumes that anything that mankind does to change or enhance the human condition is wrong because god made things the way they are and we are flouting the will of god if we try to influence things.

 

This ties back into the Calvinistic principles of Unconditional election and Limited atonement upon which modern conservative Christianity is based.  In a nutshell, Unconditional elections states that those who shall be saved were destined by god from the begging of time to be saved and everyone else was destine to spend eternity in hell.  Limited atonement says that Jesus died only for the sins of the elect.

 

I find these concepts to be grossly arrogant and selfish.  The ideas they promulgate are no different than any other ideology that promotes a select group of people gaining and holding power over everyone else.  We see this in almost every religion.  Christians have their pope, bishops, priests, ministers and pastors. Islam has it’s imams, Hinduism has it’s caste system.  We also see this in secular, mainly political, movements such as kingdoms, dictatorships, oligarchies, and even to a lesser extent, republics.

 

All of these ideologies are about power of the few over the many.  As Baron Acton said, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”  His observation, while somewhat pedantic and extreme, has real relevancy.  The quote above illustrates this nicely.  Mr. Dwight’s lack of empathy for the suffering of his fellow human beings is corrupted by the fallacy of “God’s Will”.  When put into practice, millions of lives are adversely affected.

 

This is just one example of the corrupting influence that religion can have on society.  This is why we need a popular movement based on the values of humanism.  Values that put the welfare of all human beings first and foremost.

March 6, 2011 Posted by | Religion | , , , , | 10 Comments

Comments on Atheism and Gender Equality

Here is an illuminating comment on my earlier post from a reader, Sas, and my reply:

  1. Thanks for this . I have been appalled by some men’s attitudes – I left Christianity hoping for an equal world and was horrified to see the same old crap in the atheist camp. ” girls are naturally less intelligent that’s why they go to church ” No you twat, church has free childcare and you don’t get touched up.Treat women right and they’ll join you.Also try to understand that liking men and sex doesn’t mean they will sleep with any man – ESP not the older ones who think we are gagging for a father figure…wpid-94fe68a35b9b4a2c0ba2445621a62470-2011-02-8-16-27.jpg Comment by Sas | February 8, 2011 | Edit | Reply
  2. Ps lots of men don’t like sex and will make you feel bad for asking for it. Strangely they lie about that to their male friends.wpid-6f2daef3a2c555a4bdb80036526e0f36-2011-02-8-16-27.jpg Comment by Sas | February 8, 2011 | Edit | Reply
  3. Sas, I agree with you completely. Men need to understand that just because a woman is sexually liberated doesn’t mean she will sleep with everyone, especially them. Yes, biology is powerful. Yes, males evolved to try to have sex with as many females as possible in order to pass on their genes. But to use this as an excuse to treat women solely as sexual objects is disingenuous and wrong. This only supports the theists’ contention that atheists are all amoral darwinists. We are moral creatures who have the benefit of intelligence and rational thought to rise above our evolutionary imperatives, especially when they interfere with our ability to responsibly interact with each other.wpid-402c429e71fcb15b380d58cd3ca72867-2011-02-8-16-27.jpg Comment by Jay Walker | February 8, 2011 | Edit | Reply

February 8, 2011 Posted by | Atheism, Humanism, Skeptical | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Atheism and Gender Equality (or lack thereof)

I read a guest blog post at Blag Hag by Sharon Moss, President of the Humanist Community of Central Ohio with Lyz Liddell, Director of Campus Organizing at the Secular Student Alliance, about their experience at the American Atheists’ Southeast Regional Atheist Meet in Huntsville, Alabama. In it, they explain the sexism they encounter while there.

What is ironic is that the sexist attitudes were most evident at a panel about how atheist organizations can attract more women. I’ll let them explain in their own words:

A panel of five guys and one woman discussed what an atheist group should do to attract more women. The all-too-common problem came up of a woman showing up to a meeting and every dude there hitting on her. First, the panelists grabbed a theme that had been floating around all weekend: that men hitting on women is just biological (therefore excusable), making it sound like a woman in that kind of situation should just STFU and get over it.

Then the moderator asked the women in the audience, as if it were a rewording of the same question, whether they would feel harassed or flattered if they showed up to an event and a few guys started flirting with them. We women in the audience, pressured to respond to the question at hand but feeling duped because we knew it wasn’t the same thing, gave an honest response. Sure, a few guys flirting with us is sexy. BUT!!! (we all screamed in our heads, even though the panel never let us say it out loud) 20 guys our father’s age blatantly staring at and talking to our cleavage is a totally different situation! It’s not sexy, it’s gross and creepy.

It was extremely frustrating. So I wasn’t surprised when the young woman who finally stood up and started challenging the panel snapped. First, despite her having her hand raised for most of the discussion, the panel never even acknowledged her or invited her opinion (despite soliciting the opinion of several guys both on and off the panel. Finally, she just stood up and started shouting to make her voice heard. Her question focused on the language the panel had been using – “female” instead of “woman,” and pointed out that it made us sound like livestock rather than people.

But did the panel address the question, perhaps looking for the point at which the discussion took on the word “female” so universally? Did they take the opportunity to discuss how things like language can make a group uncomfortable for women, and what we could do to make it better? No! The woman asking the question was viciously torn apart and ridiculed for even bringing it up. First, a combination of panelists and audience members tried to defend themselves by saying that feminists won’t let men use the word “women” off-limits because it has “men” in it. Then a commotion of everyone talking at once, which was cut off by one panelist’s definitive comment: “What do you want us to say, ‘the weaker sex?”

She got upset (and who wouldn’t be?) and left the room. I – a member of the audience, not one of the event organizers – went after her. While there were a few odd calls from the audience for the panelist to apologize, the moderator sort of awkwardly pushed the discussion on to a new topic, with an embarrassed air of “Sorry for the disturbance.” No apology, no discussing a better way it could have been handled. Not even a joking “This is how *not* to be welcoming” comment. Just “nothing to see here, move along.”
From there, the conversation wandered into a weird discussion about how men’s biology drives them to frequently (if not constantly) pursue sex, and since it’s biology, no one should get upset at, judge, or think less of men for any skirt-chasing they might engage in. (Because we never intellectually overcome our animal instincts in other areas of our biology, right?) The attitude in the room shifted: suddenly women were the bad guys for saying no to men’s propositions because it denies the men’s innate biology. Most of the guys in the room loved it, but as a woman in the audience – it was really uncomfortable. It was demeaning, frustrating, and not what you want to say to attract more women into this movement. And the attitude stuck around.

All these people got presented with a totally skewed perspective on our movement’s views on gender equality and sexuality. The message was loud and clear: it’s totally ok for guys to be assholes. Women should just STFU when men treat them like sex objects. The appropriate way to solve the problem of gender imbalance is to ask a bunch of guys about it (oh, and the entire problem is just because women won’t let men have sex with them whenever they want to). The way to handle women’s input is to ridicule them.

This whole experience would be laughable, like something from a bad Saturday Night Live skit, if it weren’t for the fact that it really happened, and happened in the context of a discussion of how to attract more women to the atheist movement.

This sort of thing makes me ashamed to be a man, not to mention a white, middle-aged, male atheist, and rightly so. The insufferable sense of male privilege permeates the description of the conference and I can only imagine what it must have been like to be a woman in attendance. I can tell you that had I been there I certainly would have, for one, apologized for my insensitive and idiotic fellow white males, and then I would have ripped them a new one for being to fatuously insensitive to 30% of the audience present.

I believe that if atheist organizations want to make their organizations more open and welcoming to women, they need to, first and foremost, actively seek out women to be, not just members, but organizers. I know, that is putting the cart before then horse, but they must at lease try to truly understand the discrimination and sexism that woman face in our society. They need to educate themselves on this subject and take what they learn to heart.

There is no excuse for these kinds of sexist attitudes or behavior at an atheist conference, unless these are some kind of male only atheist organizations, in which case, who needs them?

February 8, 2011 Posted by | Humanism, Skeptical | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Religion Kills Another Child

In Bangladesh, a religious cleric ordered a 14 year old girl to be given 100 lashes with a bamboo pole for supposedly having an illicit relationship with a married cousin. The man’s wife said that she saw the girl speaking to her husband near their home and notified the village cleric who order the husband and the girl to undergo the punishment of 100 lashes. The girl collapsed half way through the beating and was taken to hospital where she died a week later.

If this weren’t horrifying enough, the wife tried to claim that her husband was raping the girl and upon hearing the girl’s cries, the wife ran in and began beating the girl. Let me repeat that. Upon supposedly hearing a 14 year old girl being raped by her husband, the wife said that she ran in and beat the girl! The police aren’t buying that story, but what does it say about these people that she would think that beating the girl who was being raped was actually justification for her death?

This incident speaks volumes about the almost non-human status of woman in many religions and cultures. While it may be true that some of the attitude toward women is cultural, it is almost always supported by religious writings and teachings.

Wether the girl was just talking to her cousin, who is a male relative after all, or if there was an illicit relationship ilvolved, murder is not an appropriate punishment, especially for a young, impressionable 14 year old child.

I am reminded of a quote by Nobel laureate and physicist Steven Weinberg:

        “With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil – but for good people to do evil – that takes religion.”

February 6, 2011 Posted by | Humanism, Religion, Skeptical | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Religious Thinking Hits Home

A good friend of mine from my Army days has unfriended me on Facebook. He took issue with my post of the morality of sex acts. Here I present his message and my response. Other that my response to him, I don’t really have anything more to say about this, except that it make me very sad.

Ed Connor February 1 at 2:42pm Report
Jay

I saw your extremist writing on sex not being connected to morality. As a father and a husband, you should really be ashamed of yourself and deeply embarassed and you really need to get a grip on reality. I doubt that hurt spouses whose partners have commited adultery, or prosititutes whose lives have been destroyed or children who have been sexually exploited, or those suffering from aids or other veneral diseases would agree with your bizarre and warped views promoting sexual immorality on a wholesale scale. Your children are in deep trouble given your bizzare views. So given your criterea, I guess your ex “Holly” was justified in engaing in beastiality and other infidelities. I guess the the children victimized by pedophile priests are in the wrong and need to put up with having their persons violated by these perverts. I guess you want one big Soddom and Gommorah to prevail. I see through you and other perverts like you and that is this: You want a life of unrestrained immorality with no accountability or consequences. That is what you promote and I’m sure that is what you teach your children and you deride and insult any people AKA Christians, who disagree with you.

You are not the same person I was friends with and we have nothing in common and I want no part of what you espouse. As such, I do not want to have any further contact with you. Thanks.

Ed

Jay Walker February 1 at 7:32pm
You know, Holly cheated on me. She tore out my heart and ground it into the dust. But it wasn’t the sex, it was the betrayal of trust. It was taking me for granted.

I teach my children to respect each other and other people and to treat people as they would like to be treated (you know, that do unto others stuff from that bible of your). Most importantly I teach them to be honest, with themselves and with others.

I am all about accountability and consequences. I’m about adults being open and honest with each other about their feelings and emotions, their needs and their desires.

Immorality is lying, to yourself and to others. It is hiding the secret desires that you have and pretending that they don’t exist. When you are open and honest about everything then you can decide to act or not act on those desires, but if you do decide to act you must do so with the understanding and support and agreement of the one you love. If they don’t agree or support you, then you have a moral obligation not to act. The morality comes from your respect of one another. The immorality comes from disrespect, selfishness and disregard of other’s feelings and well being, not from the acts themselves. The actual act has no morality attached to it, only the intent and execution makes it moral or immoral.

I am sad that you choose not to have anything to do with me. I certainly don’t agree with your religious views, but I believe you have every right to believe as you choose and I would never let that fact that you believe in some things that I find disagreeable influence our friendship. Unless you have done me harm by believing as you do, then I have no reason to not be friends with you. You haven’t done me harm with your beliefs and I don’t see how I have harmed you in any way with mine.

You must do as your conscience tells you, but your reaction proves one of my main points about the religious: you may espouse forgiveness as a central tenant of your religion, but you don’t mean it and you certainly don’t practice it. The bible also teaches you to judge not lest ye be judged, but I don’t see much of that going on here either.

I don’t follow any book or writings and I don’t let anyone tell me what to believe so I don’t have anything to refer back to to justify how I live my life, only my espoused belief in honesty, truthfulness and respecting my fellow human beings. You may not agree with what I believe, but at least I have the honesty to live my life by own words. You, and those like you, on the other hand, don’t have the honesty to live by the words you claim to revere.

I’ll always consider you a friend, Ed, regardless if you don’t consider me yours. But I will respect your wishes and will leave you alone.

February 1, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sex Acts Shouldn’t be a Moral Issue

Sex is one of the most basic activities that we as humans engage in. Next to quest for water, food, and shelter, sex is the most compelling force that drives our actions and emotions. That may sound crass to some, but sexual desire takes many forms such as our longing for romance, companionship, affection, and love of other caring adults.

Here I define sex as responsible, consensual, non-coercive sexual and social relations between adults that takes place in private. This definition applies no matter if the adults involved be straight, gay, bi-sexual, transsexual, transgender, or polyamorous; monogamous or non-monogamous. No sexual act, as long as it is agreed to by all involved, is prohibited and all such sexual acts are considered morally neutral.

I say in the title of this entry that sex acts shouldn’t be a moral issue, but our sexual freedom is and should be. Just as access to shelter, water, and food are moral issues, in that no one can justly keep these things from us, so too is sexual freedom a moral issue. No one has the right to keep us from engaging in responsible, non-coercive and consensual sexual relationships with other adults, or dictate how those relationships must, or must not, be expressed.

There are many people who would try to deny the right of sexual freedom to others based strictly on their own, almost exclusively, religiously motivated beliefs. These people try to make a moral issue out of social and sexual relationships and activities that they have no compelling interest in. How are they harmed or affected by what transpires in petto between responsible and consenting adults? The reality, of course, is that they are not harmed in any way, and any effect the imagined sexual activities of others may have on them is their own issue to deal with, not a matter for public discussion and government interference.

I find it interesting that the same people who attempt to legislate sexual morality are often the same people who cry the loudest about the government interfering with their rights to own firearms, their access to health care, or trying to take away their precious social security and Medicare (where are government programs created by the federal government and which no one has an intrinsic right to).

These same people don’t want to be told by the government how to live their lives and yet they have no problems trying to get that same government to tell others what sexual acts they can and can’t engage in.

The right to practice sexual freedom, as I’ve defined it here, is an intrinsic right that no one except the parties involved have any compelling interest in or standing on. The kinds of relationships that responsible, consenting adults enter into, the sexual acts they engage in, and the various orientations and numbers of people involved in those relationships are sacrosanct as long as they are engaged in openly, honestly and without any coercion.

January 29, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Another Case of Male Privilege – Reproductive Rights

Why is it that people, mainly men, think they have the right to control what a woman does with her own body?
There is an artlce in The Telegraph discussing a private clinic in the U.K. which is offering walk-in, ten minute sterilization procedure for woman that leave no scars.  The clinic is marketing this procedure to woman who want to keep the procedure a secret, and there in lies the rub.

The article says:

Medical experts condemned the sales pitch being used, which they said was a “cynical” attempt to encourage secrecy in relationships.

Dr Allan Pacey, a fertility lecturer at the University of Sheffield said: “This seems really sad – it looks like a worrying and cynical attempt to trade on dishonesty and deceit.

“Of course women have to be able to control their fertility, but in a relationship people need to be able to have conversations about this kind of thing – taking a step like this behind a partner’s back is so dysfunctional, and if women are doing it just so they can sleep around, they are leaving their partner at all sorts of risks. Ethically, this is a huge can of worms.”

He said some women who chose to have the operation in secret because their culture or religion opposed the use of contraception, could end up suffering ill-consequences if they mysteriously stopped producing children.

Ann Furedi, chief executive of British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said: “I do think this is pretty cynical. It’s really important when women are making a decision like this that it is very carefully considered – for most of them that means a conversation and coming to a shared view with their partner.

“I can understand why some women might not want to discuss this but I would be very cautious of promoting that as a specific benefit of any treatment.”

 

The point that everyone seems to be missing here is that they, the ones who are urging caution and/or outrage, are assuming that they actually have any kind of vested interest in what any woman does with her body.  It’s just assumed that it is OK to push themselves into this most private of medical and life decisions.  It is also assumed that they, and by proxy, society at large, have a vested interest in what happens in a relationship between two consenting adults.

It is this false sense of privilege that is the real outrage here.

I’m sure most of us would agree that it would be best that both partners in a relationship be honest with each other about something as important as their reproductive status and desires, but there is, and should be, no law against keeping these things private.  Even if one of the parties were to lie to the other, this is still a matter between the two of them and no one else.

Here is an interesting question I’d love to put to these people: Would you, or do you, apply the same standards that you would to women in this case to men who have vasectomies, which also leave little or no noticeable scaring?  I have a pretty good idea that the answer is no.

This is another example of male privilege that I’ve talked of time and time again.  Yes, it is true that one of the people who questioned the privacy issues in the article is a woman, but that doesn’t mean that she isn’t still influenced by the male privilege that permeates society.  She, like many woman, just accept the male privilege without question, not necessarily because they really believe in it, but more likely because that’s how they were brought up and they have never even considered that there is another way to look at it.
That’s the point of this and other posts I have written.

That is the point that other writers like Amanda Marcotte, Jen McCraight, and Rebecca Watson are trying to make.  Among consenting adults, only one person has any say in decisions about their reproductive capabilities, and that’s the person who will undergo a sterilization procedure. Period.  Full stop.

Only we have the right over our bodies.  Only we should decide health and reproductive matters for ourselves.  Unless there is harm or the immediate potential for harm, only we and our partners should decide what goes on between us.  These are fundamental human rights and it is up to us to stand up and defend them where ever and whenever we can.

December 20, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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