Tuesday, November 29, 2011

One Case Showing the Problems of Criminal Law in America

Edgar Coker was 15 when he had consensual sex with a girl one year younger than himself. The girl, however, terrified of her father, decided to claim she was raped. Edgar was arrested. And he was offered a deal. If he pled guilty his sentence would be much easier, but if he insisted on his innocence, even though he was innocent, he would be tried an adult. Prosecutors love to force people to pled guilty by holding threats over their heads—and whether they really are guilty or not matters none to these petty bureaucrats wanting to become major bureaucrats.

Edgar and his family thought his only chance of surviving the justice system was a guilty plea otherwise the prosecutor would make his life a living hell. Worse, the defense attorney knew the girl had made such claims previously and then, when the judge ordered Edgar be put on the disgusting "sex offenders registry" she did nothing to protest the move—which amounts to a life sentence of harassment.

Then the girl admits she lied. The girls mother joins those defending Edgar and demanding justice. With some effort they got him released from juvenile detention—it's nice to know that they don't incarcerate innocent people for too long after they were proven innocent.

So, everything's good, except for that sex offender registry, but is that such a big deal?

"The family has moved several times, twice because of complaints from neighbors who learned that Edgar Coker Jr. was on the registry. Once, a neighborhood girl made a false sexual allegation against one of his brothers, and someone else left this note on their door when they lived in Stafford County: "We don't want a rapist living in our neighborhood."

As for Edgar he had to receive special permission to go to high school. But he couldn't take that. Seeking a job requires him to reveal he is a "sex offender" even though he isn't. So he doesn't look for work. He sits at home, afraid. What they are finding is that his innocence isn't enough to get Edgar removed from the sex offender registry. They have all sorts of methods and excuses to put people on the list, but apparently no one is sure how to remove someone. Once damned always damned. Edgar's mother says she doesn't believe "that anyone can undo the damage that has been done to him." And, remember, he is innocent of any crime.

People have to realize the Sex Offender Registries have become a sick joke. People are listed on them for the most inane things. Stopping to take a piss at the side of the road is now a "sex" offense. A kid can streak a school event and suddenly find he's a sex offender. The Puritans in America have criminalized virtually everything having to do with sex and nudity so things which before were considered normal are now sex offenses. Kids running around a playground slapping one another's butts were arrested as sex offenders. A woman who gave a blow job to another student when in high school has been on the sex registry for decades and continually loses her home over it, because of the cruel zoning laws that apply to sex offenders only.

We had one case where a man was arrested as a sex offender because he hired a stripper. The prosecutor said he used a stolen credit card and therefore committed a crime for sexual purposes. The theft of a credit card put the man on the sex offenders registry for life. A teenage boy was with a friend who robbed a Dairy Queen, for that he is on the sex offenders list. Apparently a customer was under 18 years of age and the robber made him stay in the store during the robbery. In Georgia forceable detention of a minor is a sex crime—unless I'm sure, if the schools do it. So you can be a sex offender without doing anything sexual.

The registries are a major reason that many sex offenders just choose to disappear now. The registries actually make it more difficult for released offenders from returning to a normal life and increases the risk of reoffending. The registries also tie up police resources because they have to visit all offenders periodically, even those who haven't reoffended and are doing well. It doesn't allow police to prioritize which ones to keep track of. So, in fact, police have made cursory visits to serious offenders and missed things like women being held captive in the back yard. With only a few minutes to spend at each location the visits are more routine than investigatory now. It didn't used to be that way, but the registry makes it so.

And, we have had individuals use registries to gain information on individuals and murder them. One case was a young man who had sex with his girlfriend who was slightly under the state age of consent. It wasn't rape, but that didn't matter. He was executed when he opened his door to a stranger, his mother witnessed the murder. In other cases these registries are so out of date that addresses that haven't been in use for decades are still listed. People who have done nothing but move into a new house have found themselves harassed as sex offenders because of someone who lived in the house some years before. The registries have been a disaster and need to go. At the very least they should be accessible to law enforcement only, and not to any moron with a gun and half a brain.

Labels: ,

Fox Invents War on Thanksgiving

Once again the fundamentalist nutters are out in force whining that Obamam didn't mention God in his Thanksgiving speech. And then some Republican buttwipe goes out and gives a sermon about his lord and savior, blah, blah, blah. The GOP is a theocratic party and that is why I won't support it.

Now, I would have to do some reading, but I'm pretty sure you will find the Pilgrims were a nasty lot of assholes who left England, not because they couldn't be religiously free, but because they felt the King was far too fucking liberal in oppressing sin. Their complaint was that people were allowed to do things they considered sinful and that this was displeasing to god. They didn't come to America seeking freedom of religion, they came because they thought they could restrict freedom of religion and damn sinners more easily without such a "humanist" as ruler.

The Pilgrims were not in favor of religious freedom. You might double check the various other Christians that they drove out of the colony or murdered for having the wrong religion. Remember also, that when these dark, brooding, fanatics once had control of the English government they literally made Christmas illegal and tried to force everyone else into being as sour, dour and dismal as they were. The Pilgrims were a grim, horrible beginning for this country and they shouldn't be lauded. They were murdering thugs with no respect for human rights and human liberties.

Labels: ,

Monday, November 28, 2011

Prosecutor Tries to RailRoad Boy 6, Gags Parents

Back in May we reported on the vile actions of one district attorney, some bungling female Republican named Lisa Riniker, who, if there is a just God, will be sterile and never allowed near children. Riniker learned that a 5-year-old girl, her brother, and 6-year-old boy had been found playing doctor. Children playing doctor is normal and all but the religiously infested tend to see it that way. Riniker, however, is a Republican, which means she has to cater to the most fanatical elements of the American Taliban and sometimes that means you destroy a few kids along the way. After all, God loves it when one’s only born is sacrificed. Of course, Rinker prefers to sacrafice the only born of other people otherwise she would have to do the horizontal mambo and god doesn’t like it when Republicans, his chosen people, do that.

In this woman’s sick mind the children involved are evil sexual offenders who pose a threat to virginity, Jesus and the Republican Party. The boy in particular, is clearly dangerous due to, wel,l he is male, what more do you need? But Riniker was also out there looking to cover her big political ass. There were three children involved in the playing doctor game, but the girl and her brother are the children of a “well known political figure” in the county. They get listed as victims in this mutually consenting activitiy. The other boy, his parents are nobodies in policits, so all the charges are laid against him. Good move Lisa, you can further your political career while sucking up to the parents of the other kids, while destroying the life of a little boy! Bet, you say you believe in "limited" government and "family values" as well, don't you?

Riniker has been going all out to destroy the lives of this family and their son. She has gone so far as to threaten to have him taken from their custody. The parents are fighting back. Between Riniker and the cop she had constantly interrogating the child the boy now suffers from anxiety, depression, vomiting, crying, and can’t sleep. Dare anyone point out that Rinker is a child abuser. See, this is one of those things about child abuse. When government does it, it’s okay. When other people do it they crack down. So, let a pernicious prosecutor torment a child for the sake of Jesus, hysteria and the Republican Party, and everything is fine and dandy—just the way God wants it to be. Or let some TSA official run their hands through the genitals of Americans and it is not molestations. But three little kids getting curious, that's a major felony that needs attention.

Riniker has tried to force the parents of her victim to acquiesce to her jihad by telling them that she will have their child taken from their custody. It gets even more horrible when you realized the parents were told they were tampering with a witness when they invoked the right to have an attorney present while their child was being grilled.

The parents finally had enough of the harassment and attempts to intimidate them into allowing their six-year-old to register for life as a so-called sex offender—and what sex doesn’t offend Republicans? So they filed a lawsuit against the prosecutor. Up until this point Riniker had been the one whoring herself to the media and getting her bizarre accusations out to the public. The very idea that the parents would dare defend their little boy terrifies control freaks like Riniker, they need to control the dialogue so that only one side, her side, is made public. How else will she be able to protect society from the scourge of little children playing doctor.

So Riniker used her contacts in the court system to get a gag order issued against the parents. The last thing she needs is some sympathetic parents discussing how a sexually frigid political-whore used her position to destroy the life of a young boy. Riniker had a judge strip them of their right to freedom of speech.

The boy’s attorneys say the child is traumatized by the bullying tactics of Riniker and fears he will go to jail. As part of her intimidation Riniker didn’t have a summons sent to the child’s parents but mailed directly to the boy—as if a young child can understand what this means. According to Riniker the small amount of touching the children were doing is a crime because “the Legislature could have put an age restricting in the statue… the legislature did no such thing.” Apparently she would be fine in prosecuting a 9-month-old-child since the legislature didn't draw a line, that most people draw using common sense. Riniker doesn’t want just prosecution, she wants the boy put on a sex offenders list for the rest of life. It is Riniker and her ilk who have so flooded the SRO list with cases like this that any truly dangerous individuals are buried in a flood of cases that never should be there. If the SRO list is meant to protect children, then flooding the list with the names of children who clearly are not a threat to anyone, only destroys what little value the list may have had.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Why You Shouldn't Donate to the Salvation Army—Ever

With Thanksgiving days away, you know that means the Christmas lights will be out. And with them will be the bell ringers and their Salvation Army kettles. But libertarians and liberals may well wish to keep their change to themselves. Even conservatives should think twice. The Salvation Army is not exactly a charity, as many people assume. It is a religious sect, and a fundamentalist one at that. It is part of the Religious Right and it has an agenda like they do.

Like other fundamentalists they think abortion should be outlawed. They write: “The Salvation Army deplores society’s ready acceptance of abortion, which reflects insufficient concern for vulnerable persons, including the unborn.” Get that? The “unborn” are persons. That is in line with the “personhood” campaign to define every fetus as legally a person. Similarly you can count them out when it comes to defending the rights of individuals to terminate their own lives in the face of unbearable pain and misery. They say: “The Salvation Army believes that euthanasia and assisted suicide undermine human dignity and are morally wrong regardless of age or disability.” Yep, I sure would feel more dignified, if my mind was gone, and I was bedridden, lying in my own urine and feces while suffering pain—instead of being able to choose to terminate my life before that happens.

On alcohol and drugs they don’t want legalization or harm reduction strategies. As they note there are “both spiritual and temporal dangers inherent in the use of alcoholic beverages” and the church “believes total abstinence to be the only certain guarantee against overindulgence and the evils attendant on addiction.” They also believe there is a “direct connection between the incidence of addiction and the easy availability of alcoholic beverages and the increasing social acceptance of their consumption.”

No gambling either, they say that “engages its participants and promoters in an exercise of greed contrary to biblical moral teaching.” “We believe gambling is wrong, regardless of any perceived benefit of entertainment, charity, or personal gain, even when its destructive influences may not be seen on an individual basis.”

How about gay people? Well, they try to sound enlightened by saying that “same-sex orientation” is not blameworthy but “requires individual responsibility and must be guided by the light of scriptural authority.” If they stopped at “individual responsibility” there would be no problem. Instead they toss in the Bible and then say this means homosexuals “are called upon to embrace celibacy as a way of life.” Sure, celibacy, that worked so well with Catholic priests, didn’t it. Thus they oppose marriage rights for gay couples because “There is no scriptural support for same-sex marriage as equal to, or as an alternative to, heterosexual marriage.” I would note there is also no “scriptural support for cars as an equal to, or as an alternative to, riding an ass into town.” They even try to say they will accept gay people in their church and don’t discriminate, provided they “accept and abide by The Salvation Army’s doctrine and discipline.” In other words, gay people are fine provided they don’t actually have a relationship, remain celibate, only shake their tambourine to raise money for the sect.

The church, remember the Salvation Army is a church, says that marriage is “the loving union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.” I think that “for life” part precludes divorce for heterosexuals, and, of course, it precludes all marriages for gay people at all. And marriage “is the only proper context for sexual intimacy.” Otherwise it is “abstinence before, and faithfulness within, marriage” but only for opposite-sex couples. Gay people are NEVER, NEVER, NEVER to have sex. They also push the myth that marriage is “God’s institution” and that God invented it. They no more believe that marriage evolved than they believe humans did.

And, since gays can’t marry, can they at least have a wank? Well, it's not clear but they can’t if they look at erotica which the Salvation Army opposes “in all of its forms.” They also promote the lie of the Right that porn “is clearly linked with prostitution, sexual abuse and assault, and other forms of sexual exploitation.” They claim it “promotes deviant sex and violence”—I was so naïve I thought the Old Testament did that; it is pretty kinky book with fathers and daughters fornicating, multiple wives, etc., and there is more genocide there than in the worst blood and gore film around.

And don’t think you have a private right to erotica. They say it is “not an issue of private morality alone,” and that people “have the right to protection from enterprises that erode society and exploit persons.” What does it mean when you say people have a “right to protection from” something? If you have a right to protection from assault it means that the act of assault is a crime. It means those who assault are arrested and may be imprisoned. When you have a right to protection from murder it means that murder is a crime, as is attempted murder, and those who try, or succeed, in such an endeavor are arrested, tried, sentenced and imprisoned. It is clear they want the low to censor erotica under penalty of prison.

They also urge people to “start or join grassroots efforts to protect your community against pornography.” And they even have a “click here” button so you can download information on how to do that. And where does that information come from? Focus on the Family, of course. In other words, the Salvation Army directly promotes one of the most active Religious Right groups around. And Focus on the Family then quotes a Salvation Army official who says erotica “is prostitution for mass consumption.” (Note to libertarians, they would oppose legalize prostitution as well.) The brochure the Salvationists distribute says that all porn is technically illegal and that the problem is that “law enforcement agencies at the local, state or federal level do not enforce obscenity laws.” The Salvationists, and Focus on the Family, note “Active, informed and vigilant citizens are needed in every community to ensure laws are enforced and community standards are maintained.” Get that, what we need are more vigilant fundamentalists trying to impose their moral values, through the force of law, on the rest of us.

So, the “right to protection from enterprises that erode society and exploit persons” means that people should be arrested for producing and selling porn, perhaps even for owning it. And since it is not just “an issue of private morality alone” don’t take naughty videos of yourself and your partner, presumably even if you married (which means straight, and for life).

But, wait a second. If there is a “right to protection from enterprises that erode society and exploit persons,” and since the Salvation Army already said that alcohol and gambling do just that, then aren’t they also hinting that gambling and alcohol production should be criminal offenses as well?.

They also say they support human equality and then put in enough loopholes to indicate that they don’t. They say they support “the Biblical and Christian imperatives of human and civil rights.” So, if the Bible says you can have the right they are fine, otherwise, not so much. They don’t oppose discrimination per se, just “unlawful, unjust, or immoral discrimination.” Apparently “moral discrimination” is fine, such as denying gays the right to marry because it isn’t a “Biblical and Christian… civil right.”

Libertarians, and conservatives will both be appalled to learn that the Salvation Army believes: “All people have a right to secure the basic necessities of life (e.g., food, clothing, shelter, education, health care, safe environment, economic security.) So along with their socially conservative agenda they are very Obamanesque when it comes to a “right” to health care and a “right” to shelter, education and “economic security.” They claim all people have a “right” to a “just wages and benefits” but fail to define what that means. Rights are something other people have to respect, and how do they respect your right to health care? Not by leaving you alone, but by being forced to fund your health plan.

So what kind of governance would exist if we implemented the ethical system of the Salvationists. First, there would be no decriminalization of drugs, a reimplentation of prohibition, a war on gambling, and erotica would be illegal. Gay people would not be allowed to have sex, let alone marry. Abortions would be illegal. And if you think all of this is rather unbearable you aren’t allowed to commit suicide either. And before the Religious Right starts having wet dreams over the Salvationist ideal society they should remember that it also teaches that every person has a “right” to health care, economic security, just wages and benefits, education, etc. We are talking about very active government with fingers in every aspect of human existence.

Next time you see one of those annoying bell ringers, remember your donations do more than feed some hungry people. It goes to a fundamentalist sect with the same agenda as the rest of the Religious Right. It allows them to promote brochures on how to bring the law down on people who don’t live according to their religious morality. It is used by them to promote a political/religious agenda, not just to help people in need.

There is nothing wrong with helping people in need. If you want to feed hungry people give to a food kitchen for the hungry. What you don’t have to do is donate to an organization that has a “charitable” public face, while pushing a fundamentalist, religious agenda behind the scenes. The only reason the Salvationists are not as open as their good friends at Focus on the Family, is that they, unlike FOTF, rely on naïve, charitable people for their donations. In a way, that makes them worse. At least Focus on the Family is upfront about their political agenda and only people who support that agenda donate to them. But the Salvation Army has their agenda hidden behind a wall of “human needs” and that allows them to dupe a lot of well-meaning individuals to fund an agenda they would not normally support.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Two Kids Kiss, School Brings in the Cops

This blog has tried to warn about how "sex offender" laws have gotten entirely out of control. While no one seriously wishes to allow children to be raped, the laws have completely left common sense behind.

In this case two children 12-years-old had a playground kiss. The school immediately called the police and reported the miscreants. Thankfully the police had more common sense in this case than the school officials did.

But laws to protect kids have become themselves threats to the same kids. One of the signs of government overreaching is when the solutions are more harmful than the problems they were meant to solve.

Labels: ,

Saturday, November 19, 2011

More out of control cops attack peaceful family, kill dogs


Labels: ,

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thanksgiving Hilarity

One of the funniest skits in the history of television for Thanksgiving.

This should take you to the entire show, if you want to see it, but with commercials.

WKRP Turkey Drop
- Watch more Videos at Vodpod.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Life Imitates Art

Paul Krugman

Not Paul Krugman
Far Safer


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Funny Mistakes and Malignant Intentions: The Real Rand and Her Critics

Somebody at the distribution house for the film adaptation of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged goofed. They wrote jacket copy saying the story was about "courage and self-sacrifice." An error, to be sure. And given that Rand believed no one should be sacrificed to anyone there is a certain amount of humor in the error. Of course, the film company is not laughing as they are recalling 100,000 copies for new covers.

Well, I've got mine and I'm not giving it back. Damn, that is a collector's piece. Copies with the old, erroneous cover will always be worth more than the reissued copies, especially since these will be unqualified proof that the edition is the real first one issued. All others will have the corrected cover.

What is interesting is the choir of hate that rose up to use this as another excuse to misstate Rand's views, to lie about her, and to smear her. It is predictable. Be they Christian Rightist or Left-wing Progressives, they simply can't help bashing Rand, usually by inventing her as a monster, often one espousing the very opposite of her actual beliefs.

Here are a few of those lies.

Gawker: "Self-sacrifice is for idiots, duh! Ayn Rand use to mock poor beggars for being so poor." Of course, no source is cited for this claim. So how did Atlas Shrugged deal with such a person in the novel? No doubt Rand had her "hero" shove any beggars into ovens to die the wretched death they deserve. Or did she?

Luckily Rand actually describes an incident beginning on page 654 of Atlas Shrugged. Heroine Dagny Taggart is riding in one of the trains of her company. She exits her car and hears a conductor screaming: "Get off. God damn you!" She describes the victim of the scream as an "aging tramp" who "had taken refuge" in the corner of Dagny's vestibule. He was someone with "no strength" but his eyes were "observant, fully conscious, but devoid of any reaction." The conductor has the door open and the train is slowing for a curve. It is clear the conductor wants to push the man out into the darkness.

Of course, according to true Randian inspiration, Dagny rushes forward and kicks the man to his death—or NOT!

Dagny actually looks at both men and sees that neither views the other properly: "The two men were not human beings to each other any longer." The tramp gets up, ready to jump, grabbing the small bundle of his belongings. Dagny yells out: "Wait." Rand wrote, "'Let him be my guest,' she said to the conductor, and held her door open for the tramp, ordering, 'Come in.'"

She offers the man a seat and asks him when he last ate. He responds, it might have been the day before. "She rang for the porter and ordered dinner for two, to be brought to her car from the diner." Damn, Rand, she missed a chance to prove that her critics aren't liars!

The tramp and Dagny talk. He tells her he doesn't want her to get in trouble. She wonders why she would, and he says because she must be traveling with a tycoon to be in her own car. She says she isn't. He assumes she must a tycoon's wife then. She says she isn't. He responds with a knowing, "Oh," implying her purpose was that of a prostitute or mistress. Was this where she sends him flying to his demise? Damn, not again! Instead, she laughed and told him she ran the railroad. They share dinner and conversation for several more pages. What a monster!

An unnamed author at Huffington Post ridicules the company that released the film because they set up a site where people can order, free of charge, a corrected version of the cover, if they wish. This for "angry Objectivists." Does Huffington Post think there are any other kind? There are, of course, it's just that they don't think so, they prefer their stereotypes. Actually the Objectivists I know find this error more amusing than infuriating. The anonymous author then misrepresents Rand's views by claiming "The generous offer strikes us as distinctly un-Randian." How is it "unRandian?" They don't say and I hazard they would have a hard time given a coherent answer—they would just stutter some remarks indicating they have no fucking clue what they are talking about? To say the least, there is nothing "unRandian" in making good on an error you committed. In fact, she would frown on those who didn't do so. But that doesn't fit the stereotype.

Gothamist used the same kind of smear, one you expect from bigots. Bigots tend to operate with a stereotype of the person or group they hate? Ditto for the Randaphobes. Bigots also tend to have limited knowledge about the group or person they hate. Ditto again when it comes to the Rand bigots. So, yes, this is a form of bigotry rooted in the same ignorance and hatred as other forms of bigotry. Gothamist can't even start the article about the recall without issuing an insult—much the way neo-Nazis can't mention Jews with first throwing in insults: "Ayn Rand's dogmatic 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged, beloved by simpleton frat boys and self-serving millionaires alike....."

How does that work? How do these simpletons become millionaires? There have been lots of insults thrown at Atlas, but this is the first time I've run into anyone who honestly thinks that it is a book for simpletons. But then, I said "honestly thinks" didn't I? And there is no indication that is a honest thought at all. And didn't Hillary Clinton list Atlas Shrugged as an influence on her life? Oh, I forgot, she actually is a "self-serving millionaire."

Gothamist twists Rand's actual ideas grotesquely. They claim the DVD recall was to prevent purchasers from absorbing "some sick, twisted message of generosity." The emphasis on generosity was their own. Not only did Rand never condemn generosity but she was herself generous. Numerous people were given places to live at Rand's own expense. She sent food packages after World War II to friends and family. When she learned of a former teacher in a settlement camp in Europe she sponsored the woman to come to the US, and allowed her to live in her own home for a year.

Consider what happened when Ayn Rand came across the Kato family. These Japanese-Americans were incarcerated in racially-based concentration camps by the "benevolent" administration of Franklin Roosevelt. The husband and wife, along with a young daughter and small son, had been imprisoned entirely due to their race. But Roosevelt said all the things that make the Left go soft in the brain, so he's a good guy—unlike that evil bitch, Ayn Rand.

As for the evil bitch, well she discovered the Kato family had lost everything. Ryoji Kato lost his business when he was arrested due to his ethnicity. His wife Haruno, had worked in their business as well. They also lost their home. Once they were released they had nothing left. Daughter June was staying in a church-run hostel that was helping people from the camps trying to regain their life. Younger brother Ken was with his parents. Rand certainly knew what this felt like. Her father lost his business to the Bolsheviks the same way Mr. Kato lost his business to FDR. Her family lost their home and she was a refugee as well.

At the time, Rand and husband, Frank O'Connor, lived in a rural area north of Los Angeles, now part of Chatsworth. Rand hired Haruno as a cook—even though June says her mother couldn't cook very well and in spite of Rand already having a cook. Ryoji was also hired to help Frank with the flowers that he grew on the property—even though Mr. Kato had no previous experience gardening. Ten-year-old Ken was a bit young to be hired for anything. As for June, though she had just graduated high school, and had no experience, Rand hired her as well, to come to the house every weekend and do typing. In addition to paying a salary to June, Ryoji and Haruno, Rand also gave the family two rooms in her house so they had a place to live. Damn, apparently she didn't know that generosity was against her own philosophy. No one told her. But then, she was such a monster, who would dare? In addition to the Kato family another resident in Rand's home was Maria Strachova, an elderly refugee who had taught English to Rand as a child. Rand took her in for a year.

Rosalie Wilson was a small child when she met Rand and O'Connor. Her mother was once engaged to O'Connor's brother Joe, but eventually married someone else. When the Wilson couple were having a hard time in their relationship they went away to try to mend it. Rand and O'Connor gave Rosalie a home with them for the time, even though they lived in a one bedroom apartment. At night Ayn and Frank would sit in the lounge while Rosalie slept in the only bed. After a few hours they would trade with her, sleeping in their bed while she finished the night on the couch. Rosalie remained close to Ayn until one summer when she and her mother were invited to Rand's home for dinner. Her mother, who Rosalie describes "as a real bigot," made some bigoted remarks to Rand that ended the friendship between the mother and Ayn. Rosalie says she never contacted Rand again because she was too humiliated by what her mother had done.

Tammy Vaught lived with her parents and brother in Titusville, Florida, when Ayn Rand came to town to see a shuttle launch. Due to the high number of people in town for the launch the local Chamber of Commerce arranged for visitors to stay with families. Rand and her husband stayed with the Vaughts. Tammy remembered her as "just a nice lady" and didn't know Rand's fame, and clearly didn't realize what her reputation was supposed to be.

Even though her parents told her not to bother the visitors, Tammy did bother Ayn, to have conversations with her and to tell her about her stamp collection. For years afterwards Rand would send Tammy stamps for her collection, from letters she received, and would periodically call her on the phone to see how she was doing and if her gifts had arrived. Tammy described Rand:
I didn't know her as an artist: I knew her as a friend, through the stamps, and things like that. It was more of a grandmother, or an older person, that just took an interest in you, and just kept in touch. I don't think as a child I had any idea of how famous she was. She didn't act like a famous person. I didn't know of her work.
Damn the woman! Has she no decency? And she got worse, Tammy's father said, "I was surprised about her not having children, because she seemed to be so good with them." And it doesn't end with that horror: "She seemed to enjoy the children so much. They were swimming in our pool, and she just enjoyed listening to them laughing." Ayn Rand enjoyed hearing the laughter of children—clearly she was a beast and should have been burnt at the stake.

Obviously these critics are either intentionally confusing what Rand believed, or they simply have no idea what she said. She did damn a moral creed of altruism and self-sacrificing. She didn't think any human was a sacrifice for any other human. She was a critic of altruism and carefully defined what she meant by the term: "that service to others is the only justification for his [an individual's] existence." She warned people to never "confuse altruism with kindness, good will or respect for the rights of others." Apparently Rand's whiny critics never actually read what she wrote, otherwise they wouldn't have made this kind of accusation. The accusation itself proves their own ignorance about Rand. There is nothing wrong with knowing little to nothing about Rand and her ideas—but these authors are speaking to the public as if they are knowledgeable when clearly they aren't. But bigots are rarely really knowledgeable regarding the objects of their irrational hatred.

One of the traits of a bigot is that he strips his prey of their humanity. He presents cardboard characters that are supposed to fit some predetermined, evil mould. While such blatant bigotry is no longer tolerated when it comes to gays, blacks, Jews, women, etc., the Left seems to relish it when it comes to Ayn Rand—even if they have to lie to do it. Then lying is how bigots convince themselves their bigotry is actually a clever perception that the rest of us "simpletons" don't see.

Labels: , ,

Friday, November 11, 2011

Christians Ignore Constitution to Recruit Children

This blog has long contended that the persistent whining from the Religious Right, that their "religious freedom" is being eroded, is like almost everything else they say, a lie. Religious freedom is alive. What has been under "attack" is the desire of fundamentalist bigots to use other people's resources to preach their nonsense.

You won't, for instance, find a line of people preventing churches from opening. You won't find Occupy-type thugs trying to use their eerie group-talk "mic" to drown out a speaker in a church.

What is happening is that fundamentalists are some of the most notoriously dishonest people in American politics. It seems the more the drool over Jesus they more dishonest they become. They routinely lie about just about everything they say.

Separation of church and states gives them freedoms that no other groups experience. Pretend that some divinity is whispering in you ear—especially when you forget to take your meds—and you are pretty much in line for an automatic tax exemption. Promote reason, liberty and such human values it it can months for the IRS to decide whether you are worthy of the exemption that gospel lunatic asylums get pretty much automatically.

But these people are not happy just being tax exempt, they also want tax funds actively put into their own pockets to enable them to preach their silly idea of spiritual socialism: take the good from Christ who has more good in him than anyone else, and they redistribute it to evil sinners all these people "are equal in the eyes of God," and get the same reward. Divine redistribution was preached long before Marx picked up on the silliness and tried to apply it to this world.

Here you have video from the misnamed New Heights Middle School, Jefferson, South Carolina. Admittedly South Carolina is not precisely a civilized area of the country. But the constitution still applies to all areas. Here you have a government school, one founded on the force of government, compelling students to attend, whether they wish to do so or not. In addition the school itself and the staff are paid from taxes taken from everyone in the areas—whether they wish to pay them or not.

The alleged reason for all this force is "educate" children. Instead, this school brought in some obvious evangelist who spent the day trying to get children to covert to Christianity. He set up a revival meeting in the school, the school coerced students into attending. They claimed that they convinced 300 some students to covert to Christianity because of this. SCHOOLS are not churches and they shouldn't be used for religious indoctrination. See the incident in question below:

There is more. While the Jesus-addicts who have taken control of this school are preaching nonsense they are also failing to teach students the lessons they are allegedly coerced into learning. New Heights Middle School, where this conman tent revivalist was given free reign to molest the minds of children, is failing to teach their kids things like science, writing, English, math and so forth. The school apparently doesn't have enough time to teach the lessons that the schools were allegedly set up to teach, but has time to push religious fantasies as if they made rational sense.

You can easily check how well a school does when it comes to the results of standardized testing. New Heights FAILS to meet even the state-wide average in every class and for every subject. They may have time for Jesus, but they aren't doing a good job teaching courses.

Below are the three grades in the school. Below them are the subjects that are taught. Next to that you will see a negative number. This number reflects how far below the state average this said little school is. You will clearly see that the school administration here is failing to teach kids their lessons but apparently has plenty of time to violate constitutional protections on separation of church and state.

Social Students • -7%
Science • -9%
Writing • -11%
English/Language Arts • -13%
Math • -13%

Average lag for these students -10.6%

Grade 7

Social Students • -15%
Science • -12%
Writing • -8%
English/Language Arts • -9%
Math • -19%

Average lag for these student -12.6%

Grade 8

Social Students • -20%
Science • -21%
Writing • -12%
English/Language Arts • -14%
Math • -17%

Average lag -16.8%

This school is so badly run that the more time they have with the students the further they fall behind the state average. When the kids enter this school there are lagging the state average by 10.6%, one year later their lag has increased to 12.6% and when they leave the school for high school they are now 16.8% behind the state average.

New Heights is not just failing the students, but the longer it has control of these kids the worse their education becomes. Yet the school has time to violate the constitution and, instead of doing their teaching job, usurps the role of parents in deciding what religious indoctrination their children will receive.


Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The Morality of Glee and Immorality of the Religious Right

Glee is one of those shows that gets the typical fundamentalist tied in repressive knots of anger. For the last week the Religious Right has been fusing and fuming about Glee's episode regarding virginity. Of course, you knew they would. And, it should be said, they didn't even need to see the show to start having kittens on the spot, howling loudly about the evil that is Glee.

Well, in this blogger's mind, Glee remains one of the most moral shows on television. And those Bible-bashing banshees remain one of the most immoral groups the American South has ever spawned. I include the Klan in that category since the Klan was always closely allied with Christian fundamentalism.

If you've see the show you would know that the most sexual thing depicted is a kiss and a hug. And you get individuals wanting to lose their virginity "for the wrong reasons." In the show they are shot down by their would-be partners and the emphasis is on love and commitment. There isn't a shred of "sex for fun" in the entire episode.

We see three relationships at work here. Two are the long-term relationships between Rachel and Finn, and the one between Blaine and Kurt. A third relationship is in the works, that of Coach Bieste and a sports recruiter. Bieste is a large, rather masculine woman but she makes it known that she likes men. And she has a crush on the recruiter. But he's a nice looking man and she doesn't want to entertain the possibility that he is interested in her, so she ignores his invites for lunch.

So, three relationships, at different points in their cycles. The four glee club members discuss issues like condoms. But they also discuss the necessity of having relationships for the right reasons, and none of them imply that sex just for the fun of it is perfectly fine—by the way, I have no issues with consenting individuals having sex together because it enjoyable and for no other reason.

But the "kids" in the show are acting very responsibly. They are not pushing themselves to do something they are not ready for, even if they have the wrong motives part of the time. And, if you expect to see a clear indication that they were having sex you won't get it. Of course, it could be a "you'd-miss-it-if-you-blinked" scene and I blinked. But I didn't see anything that was even close to being clear sex, let alone explicit depictions.

And, the best moment, for me was when the recruiter fights through Beiste's rough exterior to make it clear that he finds her attractive and wants to have a date with her. She finally realizes he is not just leading her on and tears run down her face as, for the first time in her life, someone treats her as she wants to be treated—like a woman.

Glee is a damn moral show. The entire storyline about Coach Beiste pushes the value of seeing who someone really is, not just their appearances. Glee teaches rational moral values—tolerance of others, acceptance, love, character, community.

Fundamentalists are opposed with sex and pay little to no attention to humane values, such as those in Glee. They are intolerant, hateful, cruel and they define community entirely by one's agreement with their hateful agenda. They are irrationalists and they hate Glee because it is not as irrational as they are.

Now much has been made by religious kooks about the show depicting "children having sex." That is typical of their inability to be truthful. Glee doesn't have children. The main characters in this episode are high school seniors and legally adults when it comes to consenting to have sex with another teen. Even if you take the fictional town they are in, it is located in Ohio and the age of consent is 16 there. They are not defined as children either emotionally, physically or legally. But then fundamentalists believe we are all children and they are the stern papa sent to beat us into submission to God's awful will.

Glee, in fact, is pretty much spot on with the real world—the world fundamentalists know nothing about. The average individual in America is around 17 when they lose their virginity. All the teens in this show are this old, if not older. In addition about half of all teens are sexually active, but half the glee club is not sexually active. The show doesn't do anything but depict the world as it really is, at least when you block out all the singing and dancing that happens—everywhere.

No, Glee doesn't represent the hateful, cruel "morality" of the fundamentalist Christian. And that's a good thing. What it does do is show caring, humane people trying to live their own lives, and loving others in the process. It is a humane show with humane values. And that is what the fundamentalist really hates. They hate the show because of its virtues.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Mario Vargas Lllosa and Socialism

Mario Vargas Llosa, Nobel prize winner in literature discusses his rejection of socialism and his embracing of classical liberalism.

The one thing that is unfortunate is that his position at Atlas is funded by the Templeton Foundation. Unlike Llosa, who supports rights for gay people, Templeton is run by conservative religionists. Much of Templeton's money goes into pushing a religious agenda in free market circles. But John Templeton, Jr., was a major funder of the bigoted Mormon-led Proposition 8 in California. Templeton and his wife gave $1 million to promote anti-gay bigotry.

Please understand that there are good people at Atlas who take no cotton to bigotry. But they get tarnished when Templeton funds so many of their projects.

Templeton also had funded a project for Atlas to bring Michael Reagan in a "Leadership fellow." They were pushing Reagan as a speaker for free market think tanks around the world that Templeton would fund. Michael Reagan, unlike his adopted father, Ronald Reagan, is a major anti-gay bigot. Reagan penned a diatribe on morality, and expressing his own issues with his father, for the Southern Baptist Church publishing house. He claimed that gay people would force kids, through bullying, to try homosexuality otherwise they will be labeled bigots. Odd since that is precisely what the fundamentalists like Michael Reagan try to do to gay people.

Michael Reagan and his book were to be touted at a Atlas Foundation conference but ran into problems. One was that the book vendor who agreed to stock the book refused to sell it when he read the book. This was the old Laissez Faire Books, before it was taken over by people who would have no such problems with anti-gay bigotry. This blog has rescinded all previous support to LFB after the new owners took control and changed LFB policy is a decidedly conservative direction.

With the book vendor refusing to sell the book Atlas officials wanted to know why and were told in no uncertain terms why. Staff members grabbed the book, which none had previously read and started scanning it. It took only seconds to find bigoted remarks by Reagan. Atlas board members and officials soon learned of the kerfuffle and quiet discussions were held out of public view. Gay staff members and board members of a decidedly libertarian bent were not impressed. In short order, Atlas removed all references to the program with Reagan and it went down the memory hole.

Atlas did the right thing. And they are run by good people. But taking money from bigoted, conservatives advocates of moralistic government comes with problems. Templeton donations made Atlas less prone to investigate the positions of Michael Reagan. They were truly caught off-guard by the rabid nature of the bigotry in the book. But there is a certain amount of trust and compliance involved when one funder, like Templeton, makes up such a higher percentage of Atlas Foundation funding.

Templeton's first agenda is religion. Any support he has for liberty comes in second, and a very distant second. He will sacrifice freedom on the altar of his faith if necessary. His gift of $1 million to Proposition 8 is indication of that.

That said, Llosa is a true liberal, not a conservative trying to put on classical liberal drag. Llosa said he is an agnostic, wants separation of church and state, supports legalized abortion and supports gay marriage. Now, if Templeton had to throw their money at someone I'd rather see it go to someone who actively opposes their moralistic Big Brotherism.

Labels: ,

Saturday, November 05, 2011

To Preserve Liberty We Must Destroy Liberty

Theocrat Rick Santorum, your typical Republican these days, says that the way to preserve religious liberty is make civil law subject to "God's law."

Of course, what theocrats mean in particular is not God's law at all, but their interpretation of which God they think is the magic man in the sky, and their view of what the man in the sky allegedly says is the law.

Even the violent, cruel God of the Bible is unclear. Christians don't agree with each other as to what writings make up the Bible. For instance, Santorum is seen here trying to appeal to hateful fundamentalist Baptists at their church. What Santorum calls the Bible is different from what these Baptists call the Bible. Santorum's Bible includes Tobias, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, additional parts of Esther and First and Second Machabees. The Bible carried by Santorum's audience has none of those books.

Then there are the Old and New Testaments with different versions of "God's law." Which law is applied in which circumstance? Christians have literally gone to war with each other to try to settle these questions. Their assumption was that whichever side managed to kill the most people had the right to determine what law of the "God of love" could be imposed under penalty of execution. Even within the same denominations these people can't make up their mind which "God's law" is the correct "God's law."

And since the deity is silent on such matters it really comes down to man's beliefs, not God's law at all. It is man who has to determine what "God's law" is supposed to be. And men disagree with one another as to which God is true, if any; which law is God's law and how that law is applicable, etc.

In the end, when a politician like Santorum appeals to "God's law" as superior to all civil law, he is asking for unlimited powers, unrestricted by any concept of individual rights. What he means is that he wants the power to impose his alleged moral code on others, by violence if necessary, because he pretends to speak for God. As far as I know God is not a registered voter and hasn't endorse Santorum, or any other two-bit con man with a lust for power.

Labels: , , ,