Wednesday, March 23, 2005
But tonight, I'm both enamored and frustrated with the idea of Intelligent Design. I have, for years, been perfectly happy to balance the idea of evolution on one hand with the idea of God setting the shit into motion on the other. To quote DEVO: "God made man but a monkey supplied the glue." I have no problem with this, truly. But it is, and this is important, A MATTER OF FAITH.
Because, as we all know, God, in any shape or form, is an article of faith. Exclusively. God cannot prove itself, because proof denies faith, and without faith, any adherance to those amorphous laws supposedly handed down by who-the-fuck-ever is absolutely meaningless. There's no morality if you're following laws ONLY because you KNOW that you'll be rewarded or punished. That's like when you were a kid and were really, really good the week before Xmas, or when you slow down to 55 mph when a state trooper comes rolling up your bumper on the freeway.
See, I think what's going on here with these folks is not so much that they believe in God and believe in behaving in the way they think God wants them to act (which I'm sure they do, mostly), but that they just want to be right. Y'know? It's like those idiots that wrote the LEFT BEHIND series, or when Jr. goes out of his way to try and save a bag of caucasian breathing meat down in Florida after legally slaughtering scores of Texan blacks and hispanics when he was governor of the one-star state. They don't believe so much in the idea of morality for morality's sake, they believe, firmly, in the idea of reward and punishment for adhering to a particular set of rules. So they're doing everything they can to adhere to the rules, expecting to be seated at the Right Hand of the Father, blah, blah, blah. Again, I say, if these are the folks that're going to be in Heaven, I'm almost relieved that I'll be heading for hell.
Intelligent Design (also known by the WAY too cutesy ID) seems to be trying to buck for that reward at a more materialistic level. Essentially, you indoctinate the kids into believing something that puts any control of their lives so far out of their hands that they can't believe they'll ever really have any freedom or control (which, yes, is exactly what's going on now, but that's relating more to the government...this is God we're talking about, fer Christ's sake), and then put yourself in a position of acting as a conduit between them and the Great Googley Moogley. And reap, reap, reap the benefits. Essentially, this is how you become Pope for the eccumenicals and fundementalists.
And the cool thing is, you get to claim you're a scientist and fuck all those liberals right in their God-damming eyes.
It's tough to argue with ("What, you're saying there's NO problems with Darwin's theories?" "Well, of course there are, but..." "So you won't even LISTEN to my ideas? I thought you were a scientist...") and it seems like too many folks are bending over. The thin edge of the wedge is coming mostly from the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based (my face is red, yes) group that's trying to present themselves as a forward-looking, technology-centric thinktank looking to change the world into a kinder, gentler, more compassionate place, but who couldn't have less personal interest in Intelligent Design. Two problems with that: 1. Their Fellows seem to have a lot of religion in their backgrounds (and, also, they're mostly fellas...3 chicks and 34 guys...in Seattle? Guys, c'mon...) and 2. They've got pro-Intelligent Design propaganda all over their front page.
I dunno. It's just one more thing that's being used to define who's right and who's wrong, but the ethics that are being put out there are all about fear and power and rightousness. There's nothing in any of it to allow for moral and compassionate Humanists, Agnostics, Athiests, or, shit, just anybody who ain't Christian. Seems to ignore pretty much EVERY FUCKING THING THAT JESUS EVER FUCKING SAID, doesn't it? It's not about forgiveness, it's not about joy, it's not about free will, it's about poking holes in free thought, it's about bringing fear (or at least intimidation) to the people, it's about putting one small group of power-mongers in charge of what a whole lotta kids (and dumb adults) are gonna think.
Or to quote Adam from Mythbusters: "Everything we can't explain is God."
Of course, he was speaking of about the superstitions of ancient peoples. Isn't it time that we got over that kind of stuff?
Sunday, March 06, 2005
WASHINGTON — The Bush administration is aggressively wielding a rarely used executive power known as the state-secrets privilege in an attempt to squash hard-hitting court challenges to its anti-terrorism campaign.
How the White House is using this privilege, not a law but a series of legal precedents built on national security, disturbs some civil libertarians and open-government advocates because of its sweeping power. Judges almost never challenge the government's assertion of the privilege, and it can be fatal to a plaintiff's case...
...The secrets privilege is an especially powerful weapon because federal judges, reluctant to challenge the executive branch on national security, almost never refuse the government's claim to confidentiality.
That is true even though a growing body of declassified documents suggests that the privilege has been used in the past to protect presidential power, not national secrets, according to Thomas Blanton, director of the National Security Archive at the George Washington University, which works to expand public access to government documents.
No snide commentary needed, I presume.
Indeed, a host of conservative Christian causes are moving forward: on April 5, Kansas voters will take up one of the strictest anti-gay marriage amendments in the nation; the state school board is embroiled in arguments between evolution and Biblical beliefs about creation; and fresh battles have begun over book banning and abortion rights.
This is one of those scary articles that makes you realize that consie Christians are really in a position to take over large chunks of the country. Large chunks of the country that we need, I feel I should point out, if only because they tend to produce a great deal of our foodstuffs out in the flyover states.
And, really, I can just about feel empathy for 'em, if not sympathy. I mean, hasn't the same kind of stuff gone down, in reverse, in most of the big urban areas? The coastal urban areas are where the gay folks came to live, the atheists, the artists, the free thinkers, the leftists all came West or East and settled in the big population centers and changed the angle that the population was coming at societal control. It's democracy in action, really: majority rule. If enough of your citizenry is sympathetic to a particular cause, you will change your rules to reflect that. It's about as simple as it gets.
And that's all that's really going on in Kansas. Buncha folk who THINK they're following the bible (which they are, so long as they stop with the Old Testament...which, I think, actually means that they're adhering more to Judaism than Christianity, but that's just me) want the laws they have to live with to reflect that. They're not calling for national change (at least, not yet), they just want to have their home they want they want it. Which, again, is exactly what happened on the coasts twenty, thirty years ago, and which is happening again. Massachusetts Yankees don't necessarily want to see a couple of guys making out on Cambridge Square, but otherwise they're pretty much okay with guy/guy, girl/girl stuff. Maybe they're just more cosmopolitan, maybe they're all closeted queers. Either way, their laws make it cool.
What's interesting about this story is actually THIS story, which ran in the Seattle Times today:
The state Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on whether the state constitution entitles the Rainier Beach couple and 18 other gay and lesbian couples to marry. All are challenging Washington's Defense of Marriage Act, which limits marriage to a union between a man and a woman.
If the justices rule as the couples hope, Washington could become the second state in the country, after Massachusetts, to grant gays the same marital rights as heterosexuals. And it would be the only place — at least for a time — where gays and lesbians from any state could marry each other.
And what's interesting about Washington State voting on same-sex marriage comes down Washington's dualistic nature. See, Washington's got The Cascade Mountain Range running just East of Puget Sound (which is where Seattle and Tacoma and Olympia are located), and those mountains are the dividing line for politcal thought in the state. All the abortion-loving, queer-postitive, tax-and-spend liberal types are on the western side of the mountains, which also happens to be where the majority of the population resides. The gun-toting, fag-bashing, Christianity-lip-service-paying, we-hate-outsiders types are roaming around on the eastern side of the mountains, keeping a hairy eyeball on all us nutty shitheads over here. CNN's 2004 election results show it pretty clearly. Everything to the East of the Cascades is Red State, and everything to the West is Blue State.
So in local elections, no problems. The hippie liberals get what they want in the cities, and the God-fearing illiterates get what they want out in the countryside. But when it comes to state issues, like same-sex marriage, all the bullshit suddenly comes flying out, and Washington becomes the country in microcosm. But reversed, with the Dems controlling everything (after the state Supreme Courty decided that the Dem won the gubernatoral election) and the Reps bawling and scowling and sucking their thumbs every time something doesn't go their way. So there's a really good chance that same-sex marriage will go through, if only because so many of the people want it that way. And that will get the Red State Washingtonians and the Kansisian puritans all fired up and there'll be more chanting in the streets and people passing legislation that tells people how they can live, how they can feel, what they're allowed to want and there will be fire, and riot and death and pain and hatred (in the name of Christianity and morality, no less), and, hey, won't that just be the most fun?
I dunno. I look at this stuff and realize that it doesn't make any sense for a country this large and divided to exist. I mean, really, who thinks this is working? You've got at least two distinct camps trying to wrest power from each other, you've got different ideaologies driving different economies driving different values driving different populations towards different goals. You've got endless squabbling at a national level that clogs up resources the rest of us could use to, y'know, get on with our fucking lives. You've got a situation in which a large portion of the population willl ALWAYS be dissatisfied with what's going on in the country.
So, for real, let's break up. It's not you, it's me, okay? I just want different stuff than you, that's all. It's not like one of us is right and one of us is wrong...we've just grown apart...we've stopped moving towards the same goals...we're both looking for something different in this relationship...we're, really, just two wildly different people, and while opposites attract in the short-term, the only way you can have a successful relationship, a successful Union, if you will, is if the partners are working with the same ideals. And we're not. You know it as well as I do, so let's just call this whole thing quits, split the assests down the middle, and go our separate ways. I love you, but I'm not in love with you, if you know what I mean. No, there's nobody else, it's just time to end this farce and get on with our lives. Is that harsh? Okay, then it's harsh, but it's time. You know it as well as I do. Let's put some walls up along the coasts, around Chicago and Austin, man the gates, issue passports for The Western Republic, The Union of Eastern Territories, The New Confederacy.
Man, wouldn't that be nice? Small, self-contained territories that can deal with their own issues and nobody else's. Your little country passes laws against free speech? Who gives a shit! Move fifty miles away and you'll be in a whole new place with new rules and new concerns. Don't like those rules, but love the place you live? Not a problem. It'll be small and streamlined. Most of the legislature will be your neighbors, people you grew up with, people you've invited over to your house for dinner. Changing the laws, when most of the people around agree, is like initialing a company memo. It's presented, it's voted, it's done. Life is simple, and you don't have to keep changing and compromising to make sure that the liberals and the consies and the religious nuts and whoever else are all happy.
Okay, that's been nothing but a big long ramble, but I think maybe I've hit upon something here. Let's split up the fucking country. For real. Let's just find the obvious idealogical borders and lay down a fence right there and start picking out new names. Let's burn the old flag and come up with new ones. Let's all design our own currency. Let's have the atheists and agnostics in one place and the theocracies in another. Let's stop having an ego about how important this piece of land is and slice it up into sections that we can actually handle and get on with our fucking lives.
Okay, everybody start thinking up borders and picking out names. I call The Death Star...