Funny thing about email…

•December 9, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I’m sure at some point or another most of us out there have received one of those emails playing up the “War on Christmas” rhetoric and saying bad things only happen in this country because we don’t have “prayer in schools.” I honestly can’t take it anymore, so I’m going to respond to it right here, right now. Line by line. My commentary is italicized.

< commentary >

The White House referred to Christmas Trees as Holiday Trees for the first time this year which prompted CBS presenter, Ben Stein, to present this piece which I would like to share with you. I think it applies just as much to many countries as it does to America .

The following was written by Ben Stein and recited by him on CBS Sunday Morning Commentary.

You can check out the various incarnations here on Snopes. Some of the content may not be from Ben Stein.

My confession:

I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees, Christmas trees. I don’t feel threatened. I don’t feel discriminated against. That’s what they are, Christmas trees.

I’m all for calling a Christmas Tree a Christmas Tree. Unless you’re hanging a bunch of holiday symbols like Menorahs, Kinaras, and Nativity Scenes on the same tree (which probably does more to disrespect the individual holidays than it does to show unity), calling it a “Holiday Tree” doesn’t make much sense.

It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say, ‘Merry Christmas’ to me. I don’t think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of likeit.It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn’t bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu . If people want a creche, it’s just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

It doesn’t bother me personally when people say “Merry Christmas” to me either, but we do live in a pluralistic society and not everyone celebrates Christmas, so saying it to everyone, without knowing their religious faith or lack thereof is erasure. I don’t think people are saying  “Merry Christmas” with malicious intent, but it shows a lack of regard for others when you don’t even take into consideration that they may not share your faith. “Happy Holidays” is just the better way to go when you’re greeting someone you don’t know well enough to know their religious beliefs.

I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from, that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can’t find it in the Constitution and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat.

Wait… what? No one likes being pushed around… I also think he’s a bit confused as to who has been doing a lot of the pushing lately. Where did anyone say that America is explicitly atheist? We are free to believe or not believe as we see fit. We have freedom of religion and freedom from religion. It’s in the 1st Amendment to the Constitution in case you missed it:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

No one is pushing religious people around just for believing (unless you’re a Muslim in America… then all bets are off apparently). People just don’t want the government endorsing/enforcing a particular religion.

Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship celebrities and we aren’t allowed to worship God ? I guess that’s a sign that I’m getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities came from and where the America we knew went to.

I don’t worship celebrities or god. You are free to do either, neither, or both. That is our civil right. The government won’t arrest you for praying just like they won’t arrest you for religiously reading tabloids… regardless of the merit of either activity.

In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different: This is not intended to be a joke; it’s not funny, it’s intended to get you thinking.

Billy Graham’s daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her ‘How could God let something like this happen?’ (regarding Hurricane Katrina).. Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said, ‘I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we’ve been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?’

Right. Because nothing bad ever happens to people who believe in god… I guess they forgot about most of the Old Testament in the Bible they’re so fond of.

Bad things happening is an unfortunate fact of life. Bad things will happen no matter what you do or don’t believe in. Good things happen too. Feel free to lean on your faith to get through hard times, I won’t begrudge you that, but don’t use it as an excuse not to solve problems. Hurricanes happen because of factors in the climate, not divine punishment. Katrina was as bad as it was because there were failures in preparation, maintenance of the levees, and governmental response. Worry about fixing the problems that lead to the devastation and helping those affected instead of shifting the blame.

In light of recent events… terrorists attack, school shootings, etc. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O’Hare (she was murdered, her body found a few years ago) complained she didn’t want prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said OK.

If you need a book with the threat of eternal damnation to tell you that you shouldn’t murder or steal, you have dubious morals to begin with. Also, plenty of people throughout history have murdered in the name of their god. I don’t know the circumstances of that woman’s murder, but it was wrong outright, and I know that even without a Bible telling me so.

Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn’t spank our children when they misbehave, because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock’s son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he’s talking about. And we said okay.

Apparently no spanked/abused child has ever committed or attempted suicide either… right? 

Now we’re asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don’t know right from wrong, and why it doesn’t bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.

Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with ‘WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.’

I don’t know whose children he’s referring to, but I don’t think we can reduce an entire generation to conscienceless killers. As a member of this generation (parts of this were originally written in 2005) I disagree and I’m offended by that insinuation. We do reap what we sow, but I don’t think the problems he mentioned are caused by a lack of prayer. That attitude ignores all of the systemic issues that contribute to a culture of violence and intolerance and doesn’t pose real solutions to making things better.

Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world’s going to hell. Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says. Funny how you can send ‘jokes’ through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing. Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.

A lot of the people who trash god don’t believe in hell either, so that statement doesn’t make much sense. Also, people believe what news media says because you can fact-check and you can hold people accountable when they lie. I can’t determine the journalistic integrity of your prophets or all the people who have edited and re-edited the Bible (or any religious text) over millenia, so it would get taken with a grain of salt. 

 Those people who think twice about sharing are what I like to call “decent” and “considerate.” Complete disregard for your friends and acquaintances’ personal beliefs in an effort to promote your own, isn’t something to be proud of. Know (and respect) your audience. 

Many people who write/send emails like this have no interest in “discussion,” just proselytizing. If your idea of a “discussion” is “let me tell you all about my religion and how you’re evil for not believing in the exact same way” we’re going to have a problem. School is for learning and work is for working (and learning). I fondly remember discussion of world religions in school and learning about others different from me. If your discussion is based on a genuine interest in learning about others without judgment or if someone wants to learn about you, that is awesome… but if someone doesn’t want to discuss your god, you should respect that. Treat others how you would want to be treated.

Are you laughing yet?

I would be if I found religious propaganda funny.

Funny how when you forward this message, you will not send it to many on your address list because you’re not sure what they believe, or what they will think of you for sending it.

I’m sure the person who sent this to me meant well, even though I’m not sure I’ve met her yet. I think she has strongly held beliefs, and I respect them, I just wish she respected me (and everyone else on the list that she may not know well) enough to learn my beliefs before sending something out that predicates my morality on whether or not I share her beliefs.

Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us.

I don’t worry about either.

Pass it on if you think it has merit.

If not, then just discard it…. no one will know you did. But, if you discard this thought process, don’t sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in.

Does he not get the irony of stating that you can’t complain about the “shape the world is in” if you don’t forward an email entirely complaining about the “shape the world is in?” Hopefully this is one of the added parts.

My Best Regards, Honestly and respectfully,

Ben Stein

</ commentary >

tl;dr version: if your email ends in something like “You don’t really love God if you don’t send this to everyone right now!!!” don’t send it to me.

An Effort to Defend Bisexuality and Polyamory

•April 15, 2010 • 3 Comments

So I was facebooking this morning, as I tend to do incessantly, and someone posed this question:

DO YOU BELIEVE IN BISEXUALITY? NOT JUST THE FACT THAT SOMEONE SLEEPS WITH BOTH SEXES, BUT CAN YOU BE BOTH PHYSICALLY, EMOTIONALLY AND MENTALLY INVOLVED WITH TWO PEOPLE OF THE OPPOSITE SEX AT THE SAME TIME? (LET’S HEAR YOUR THOUGHTS). 🙂

While I don’t identify as bisexual or polyamorous, I just had to say something. Here’s my response (tell me what you think):

That’s not a question of bisexuality, that’s questioning polyamory since a person’s relationship status doesn’t necessarily define that person’s sexual orientation/identity (plenty of bisexuals are monogamous, and plenty of monosexuals are polyamorous or in relationships with people of the non-preferred sex). The phrase “do you believe in bisexuality” is a bit insulting since we’re not really in a position to question the validity of someone else’s identity and plenty of bigoted straight folk ask “do you believe in homosexuality” as if to bring its validity as an identity into question. But back to the question; yes, I believe that you can be in a polyamorous relationship with multiple people of the same or different sexes at the same time, and have a legitimate bisexual identity while doing so. I feel that those relationships might not have the same depth because of the lack of hours in a day, but then again, a polyamorous person could put more effort into each relationship they have than a monogamous person puts into their one relationship. A relationship, while sex may be a part of it, has so many other parts that aren’t directly related to what your partner has between hir legs, and more to do with what ze has between hir ears, and you get different things from different relationships with different people… those people might just have different junk from each other lol.

Sexuality and Subjecthood

•April 5, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The other day a friend told me about an artist having a problem with the message portrayed in the Lady Gaga & Beyonce video for telephone, calling it “socially-irresponsible”. I remember asking if it was the mass murder part, the glamorizing prison part, or evading police part that was problematic, and she went on to say that this artist only specifically stated that them pushing the envelope in their manner of dress was irresponsible (something along the lines of “how long before someone does a video naked“). I personally feel that it’s far more socially irresponsible for parents to not pay attention to the media that their kids are consuming than for people to be dressed scantily in a video (granted you can’t be there every single second… but isn’t that what parental controls and V-Chips are for? People shouldn’t have to be excessively censored and denied freedom of speech/expression since you suck as a parent*) .

All of this brings me to the subject of this blog. Why did this artist, out of all of the videos with half naked women in them, choose this one to bash? If anything, this would be the last one I’d have a problem with because unlike other videos where the half naked women are props, Lady Gaga and Beyonce were the stars of this video and were part of a clear narrative. Did they have to be half naked in this narrative? Probably not, but I don’t think it was gratuitous (it’s not like they were running around in pasties and thongs, the stuff was pretty fashion forward). The important thing was that they had agency and were subjects who chose to show their bodies as opposed to the more often observed half-naked thing to be consumed with no agency, story, or inherent value to a narrative other than being enticing/nice to look at. When watching this video I was engaged in the story, and while I enjoyed that the main characters were half-naked and attractive, that wasn’t the only focus (unlike a video such as “Single Ladies” which could be just as effective watched on mute… yes I am aware that is pretty objectifying, but at least in that video Beyonce still has more subjecthood than the random video chicks of the past 20 years).

So what’s my point in all of this? My point is that there is nothing wrong with a display (gratuitous or not) of flesh when the actors (in a narrative or real life) are still given the opportunity to be subjects and have some inherent value other than consumption. I think a woman’s body is one of the most beautiful things one could behold on this earth, but when we forget that this body is not just a thing, but a person, things go awry. In this society we’re constantly fed that a woman is only worth what we can see of her, that women are commodities to be bought and sold, and that people can claim a right to these bodies because they are nothing more than objects to be possessed. This sense of entitlement leads to a whole host of problems. Even when men are sexualized and objectified for the sole purpose of consumption, they are usually given an automatic subjecthood that is often denied to women. (I have a theory that this is why promiscuous men are seen as players while promiscuous women are automatically labeled whores. Men are seen as subjects consuming an object so that expression of sexuality is perfectly fine and holds little moral weight on that person’s character. Women however, are seen as objects measured by their level of purity so the more this object is consumed, the less value it has. Once a woman is allowed subjecthood, she is judged morally because of this idea that she failed to protect her purity as an object.) Expressing one’s sexuality through manner of dress (or lack thereof), through words, or consensual behavior is perfectly fine as long as everyone regardless of sex, gender, race, etc. is still allowed to be a person, to have their bodies and decisions respected, and this subjecthood is always present. When we start reducing people to objects, we start treating people like objects instead of appreciating their humanity… that’s what’s really “socially irresponsible.”

*hyperbole

Some notes on Teabagging

•March 24, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Honestly these people are completely ridiculous and detached from reality. Funny how their country wasn’t “taken away from them” until it started being run by a black man. Their personal freedom wasn’t under attack because of the “Patriot Act” but it is because the government wants you to have healthcare? Last time I checked, if you owned a car, you have to have insurance, at least where I live (the great state of Maryland)… if you have a body, why shouldn’t you be mandated to have health insurance? So that if every time you get sick or injured, probably from something preventable with regular medical care, the rest of the country has to foot the bill for your emergency room visit. A bill that will probably cost more than any tax increase from the health care bill.

While we’re on the topic of taxes, why is it a bad thing to pay a bit more to help your fellow citizens? Especially when you take account of the fact that the basic structure of our capitalist system insures the economic disparity that keeps some in poverty despite their best efforts. You can’t have capitalism without the unemployed and the underemployed, any economics class will tell you that. The private sector doesn’t make everything better, just look at the banking industry without real government regulations. Not to mention the social injustices that have lead to a lot of economic disparities among different groups.

Now back to the teabagging. The actions of this group have been transparently racist and homophobic. Calling our elected officials niggers and faggots and spitting on them? Taking “our” country back is only code for reinstating the government being represented only by the straight, white, and Christian. I don’t understand how you can be so “anti-government” and “pro-personal freedom” when you push for the government restricting who can get married and how people can control their bodies, but it’s a problem when the government wants to prevent its citizens from dying? How completely fucked up is that? Unless of course by “personal-freedom” you mean the personal freedom not to give any money to help those lazy niggers, spics, and drug-addicts who are just drains on the system… discounting the fact that, despite your racist rhetoric, those are your fellow countrymen/women and these people do contribute to this society. Funny since most of the people on welfare are white and most of the people who benefit from affirmative action are white women…

I have no problem with people dissenting against the government. I have no problem with people expressing their opinions, even if I disagree, because I demand the same respect. What I do have a problem with is people regurgitating talking points and manufacturing oppression and injustice when it’s nothing but thinly veiled racism, classism, and homophobia. They are terrorists, threatening to “water the tree of liberty” by encouraging violence against the government. Last time I checked, there’s a difference between civil disobedience and criminal insanity, and they are treading a fine line here. Most of them don’t even recognize the hypocrisy of most of their positions, and even more sad than this ignorance, is the fact that they seem to revel in it. They don’t care to actually examine their position because they can just regurgitate it. They don’t have to defend their position with facts or logic, because when you challenge them, all they feel they have to say is “that’s what I believe” as if that is the end all and be all. This is just a political abuse of an outlet for white rage…

So in closing, if I had balls, they could put them in their mouths, because that’s as close they belong to calling themselves “teabaggers.” What they’re doing has nothing to do with something the likes of the American patriotism of the Boston Tea Party and does nothing but divide this country.

Ze’s Baaackkkk…

•March 13, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I know it’s late, and I took all year, but you can stop complaining ’cause I’m finally here 🙂

I haven’t written in FOREVER! I think I have internet ADD because I have serious problems remembering to regularly update things other than social networking sites. So… I’m just going to start writing whatever I think/feel and maybe some smart percentage will be interesting, at least more will get written *shrugs*. For this latest entry, I’m posting a poem I wrote the other day… let me know what you think 😉

Bad Grammar

When singular,

I find that the past tense

Overwhelms my present in sorrow.

But when she returns,

Her and me become the plural us,

And the present tense becomes blind to the past,

Ignoring the uncertainty of the future.

See, we’re both subjects

With different verbs

Coming up with no agreement,

And no matter how I comma splice,

It all adds up to a double negative.

Lost in my mind,

Speaking to myself in third person,

In futile attempts to be objective,

But I still miss the

She and I,

While the conjunction

Always becomes or instead.

All of these thoughts swirl in my head,

Converging on one word

“love.”

All the connotations and denotations thereof

As a noun or verb,

But no matter the grammar,

As I write it,

I find my soul still bleeding

Like ink on the page.

I keep wishing for it all to make sense

And replace these question marks and ellipses

With less tentative punctuation.

I know I can’t erase

Or hit backspace,

And as much as I try to be strong and declarative

My voice trembles, becoming passive.

So all I can do is wait

For my co-author to decide

This story’s fate.

Ze Revolution begins…

•December 16, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Hello world! There’s a lot of crazy stuff going on out there… and I have taken it upon myself to make the ridiculousness known, and (hopefully) do my part to make it stop. Some issues that frequently grind my gears have to do with social justice, politics, gender, race, sex, class, queerness, society at large or just people being completely clueless. With all of this said, welcome! Sit back, relax, and enjoy my infuriated ranting… coming soon 🙂