Posts Tagged lgbt

“Let’s Not Demonize a Man’s Tools”

“In the wake of the horrific Orlando shooting that claimed the lives of 49 people and saw countless others injured, “Pink Pistol“, an LGBT self defense and gun rights organization, issued this utterly ridiculous statement:

GUNS did not do this. A human being did this, a dead human being. Our job now is not to demonize the man’s tools, but to condemn his acts and work to prevent such acts in the future.”

Gwendolyn Patton, First Speaker of the Pink Pistols.

Demonize a man’s tools.

Wow.

Now we are hurting the feelings of guns, it would appear.

This is nothing but the old spiel about how it is not guns that kill people, but people that kill people.  Which is bullshit and a fallacious, not to mention overly simplistic, argument.

While it is true that it was a person who picked up the gun and made the decision to mass murder those people, it is  easy access to guns that is ultimately allowing such mass shootings to take place in the first place.

I have said this before and I will repeat it again: banning guns does not make us a less violent society. It is just that guns allow violence committed to be more brutal, more violent and bloodier. It is much harder to mass murder people with knives and machetes than it is with guns, especially assault rifles.

So while it is true that people carry out the attacks, the tools used to carry out those attacks do matter. If they did not, then we would just not regulate arms or ammunition of any kind at all. Then ordinary citizens could own tanks and grenades and machine guns and missiles and nukes. Because ‘hey, it is people that kill people’, right?  And not missiles/tanks/bombs.

Wrong. They are banned because overall they pose a public health and safety concern and therefore must be regulated. Like food and pharmaceuticals and safe child seats and clean water and air etc. All those things exist becasue of regulation.

Now it was about time that gun follow suit and also got banned. Overall, the cost of public gun ownership is too high and does not justify the rather meager benefits.

At the PBS Newshour last week President Obama assured a concerned audience member that he or Hillary do not “want to take away [our] guns.

That is when I realized just how utterly powerful the gun lobby has been in this country that no matter how horrific the gun violence incidences, including the mass massacre of children,  no one, no one, is willing to stand up to the NRA and even suggest the radical notion that maybe we should consider banning all guns while reexamining the validity and benefit of the  Second Amendment on American society today.

“We dont want to take your guns away” is not the right answer Mr. President. We have to ban guns. That is the only way we will significantly reduce gun violence. It doesn’t matter that people can still get them illegally. Being able to get something legally versus illegally makes a huge difference in terms of the number of guns circulating. Making something illegal just makes it harder to obtain. It is no ‘no big deal’.

And fuck the Second Amendment. Really. It was written for a different time and for different reasons and for a different peoples and a different America and the only reason it is being cited by gun nuts as a right today, is because of gun manufacturers and the  gun lobby leading to the misguided interpretation of the Second Amendment by our equally misguided Supreme Court. 

It seems like we are just going in loops: a shooting happens, some hack steps forward whining about  why “the good guys” like them, who allegedly use guns responsibly, should be “punished” for the mistakes of others, saying trite shit like ‘people kill people, not guns blah blah blah’, just so everyone shuts up like they had a point, just so we can repeat the same discussion next time around. And again. And again. And again…and then we wonder why nothing changes. 

Thing is: there is no such thing as responsible gun ownership. That is a myth. Guns are tools designed to kill. They serve no other purpose. A responsible, decent person doesn’t need guns in their everyday life to begin with. And  I have this suspicion that anyone who thinks they are a decent guy who needs to own guns to get by, is secretly hoping to have to use them one day.

Finally, background checks (and mental illness checks) don’t work: Mental illness reporting and “checks” (whatever that is supposed to entail) are a gross violation of a person’s privacy and with it dignity. And background checks don’t work because a lot of the shooters did not have police records and thus a negative background. The Sandy Hook shooter had a clean background and would have fallen through any kind of radar and so would most of the mass shooters of late. None of them had shady, criminal backgrounds. They were not the “wrong” people to own a gun, until they were.

So background checks don’t really do anything but give people on the other side a false sense of security and that someone is being held accountable here, when in reality these checks are so pointless in reducing gun violence, we may as well save ourselves the money and not bother with them at all.

And mental illness checks will do nothing but add more stigma to mental illness, further demonizing the already vulnerable, stigmatized mentally ill who, by the way, are more likely to be the victims of violence than its perpetrators.

The only way we can and will put an end to this fuckery is by BANNING ALL GUNS. Everything else is just self aggrandizing bullshit while pandering to the stupid masses and the damn gun lobby that’s turned gun ownership into a virtue and necessity via vile propaganda, lies and scapegoating.

If we don’t stop “demonizing” that man’s tool, the gun, as PInk Pistol put it oh so romantically, then nothing will change and we’ll be having the same discussion for another 50 years. 

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The Death of A Wretched Human Being: Antonin Scalia

downloadLast week, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died at the age of 79 in some luxury resort in West Texass. He did not pay to stay at that luxury resort owned by John B. Poindexter,  a Texas native and decorated Vietnam veteran who owns Houston-based J.B. Poindexter & Co., a manufacturing firm with  seven subsidiaries and a  combined annual revenue of nearly $1 billion. Poindexter told The Washington Post that Scalia was not charged for his stay, something he described as a policy for all guests at the ranch.

I did not pay for the Justice’s trip to Cibolo Creek Ranch,” Poindexter wrote in a brief email Tuesday. “He was an invited guest, along with a friend, just like 35 others.”

A friend, indeed.

One of Poindexter’s companies was involved in a case that made it to the high court. Last year, the Supreme Court declined to hear a case involving an age discrimination lawsuit filed against one of these companies, court records show.

Is it just mere coincidence that a year later we see a Justice of that very same court invited to the luxurious home/ranch of the owner of the company involved in a case which the Supreme Court refused to hear?

Nothing about who Scalia was suggests that it could be a mere coincidence. What is for certain, however, is that it constitutes a conflict of interest.

Interesting to note is that this was not the first time Scalia acted unethically (that we know of).  In 2004, he joined then-Vice President Richard B. Cheney on a hunting trip while Cheney was the subject of a lawsuit over his energy task force, and in response to calls that he sit out the case, Scalia issued a highly unusual 21-page argument explaining why he refused to do so.

While judges have to file financial disclosure statements, including reporting of gifts they receive and disclosing when someone who is not a relative gives them “transportation, lodging, food, or entertainment” worth a certain amount (see 1978 Ethics in Government Act passed in the wake of the Watergate scandal), there is really no one who enforces that. And while every other federal judge below the Supreme Court and the decision about whether or not they should be recused from cases where there could be a potential conflict of interest is potentially subject to the review of a higher judge or other judges on his court, no one reviews the decision of a Justice and thus Supreme Court justices essentially become the final arbiters of whether or not to recuse themselves from cases that may constitute a conflict of interest.

Why am I bringing this up on the day of Antonin Sacalia’s funeral? Because while much of the mainstream press was quickly lining up to offer glowing commemorations of his career as a public servant and brilliant man, I want to be sure that Scalia’s destructive judicial legacy is  not completely whitewashed.

He was an extraordinary individual and jurist, admired and treasured by his colleagues”…  Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr  said in a statement confirming Justice Scalia’s death. “His passing is a great loss to the Court and the country he so loyally served.”

No it is not. Antonin Scalia’s death is great news and this nation’s salvation. He did not serve this country loyally.  On the contrary,  he used and abused his position in the highest court of the land to align himself with power, against the powerless.

Scalia was a contemptible human being who once during oral arguments in a pivotal affirmative action case suggested that African American students might belong at less rigorous schools than their white peers, and that perhaps the University of Texas should have fewer black students in its ranks.

He decided his cases based on what the Catholic church preaches about women and reproduction.

He repeatedly and casually equated LGBT and its advocates to apologists for incest, rape, bestiality, child pornography and murder.

He has been nothing but an antagonist to social justice ever since he took seat on that bench/ivory tower of his. Heck, his last official act was denying a stay of execution.

Scalia’s death is not a loss to this nation or the Supreme Court. Scalia was the disease that’s been gnawing and eating away at our Democracy like a malignancy.  His death is our salvation as a nation.

And that is what I have to say about him on this day of his funeral.

May he rest in the hell he believed in so much and which he created for others during his short time in this world.

 

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Religion Is Harmful

atheists are so mean

Religion is harmful. I cannot repeat this enough and I am going to continue repeating it a hundred million more times: religion is harmful.

Religious people, especially in this country, always piss and moan about how unfair everyone is to them. That their god, and Jesus, and Bible and Cross and Guns and Christmas and overall “right” to shit on people as they feel they are entitled to, are all under so much assault by them evil, gawd-less atheists, homosexuals and Liberals.

The hatred and vile diatribes lodged against women, homosexuals, transgendered people, atheists, liberals and evolutionists is mortifying but religious people continue playing the victim card, branding critics as intolerant, militant and haters.

Criticizing religion and speaking up against the religious powers (and lobbyists) that be is often futile and is generally considered bad form. “Ohhh, don’t criticize the religious person and their faith, you hurt their feelings“. “Oh no, you cannot say that to them, it is rude.” “Just be careful to not hurt their feelings – oh no.”

You should respect people’s beliefs“, I am always told. “It is not polite to criticize someone’s faith“, a guest once said to Bill Maher, trying to shame Maher who was, rightfully so, speaking out against the massive amount of ignorance and hatred religion spreads and purports, into not “criticizing” people for their faith. Often you are dismissed as being miserable, unhappy, bitter, picky…you name it.

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My own co-worker who considers himself a man of god has an irrational disdain for gay people and has, on many occasions, referred to them as “faggots”. Yet when I even make the mention of religion, I am admonished and asked to “not start again.” He can go on and on about how terrible atheists and gays are trying to “impose” their lack of religiosity and homosexuality, respectively, onto others, and he makes sure anyone who may be interested finds out just how critical he is of atheists because they are “so extreme”  but if anyone mentions the widely-spread religious bigotry in this country, including his homophobia, he feels offended and under attack, playing the wrongfully vilified victim.

Then there is the  often-used bad-apple analogy: “I am religious but my group/church/denomination is totally not like that. The problem is not religion, it is just those religious extremists that are the exception/a small minority“. You will be hard pressed to find a religious person who does not employ the “oh yeah them, not me” trope. Only that even so-called moderates subscribe to unfounded and harmful beliefs that they then want to impose on others in the form of legislation.

Case in point, the theocratic government of Arizona, a state whose legislature is infested by religion and religious ideology to such a degree that the long list of measures and laws the state has enacted resemble more something the Ayatollahs in Iran might agree with than legislation one would expect to find in the constitution of a state of the United States.

The Center for Arizona Policy (CAP),  a conservative Christian advocacy organization, is responsible for having backed and co-drafted 123 laws and measures since the group’s 1995 establishment, including the state’s 2008 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. That effort was spearheaded by the group’s president, Cathi Herrod.

Just this month, measure SB 1062 was signed into law — a measure that would have allowed business owners to reject services to any individual on religious grounds, effectively discriminating against the LGBT community. While that measure was vetoed by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R),  on Thursday, the state House passed another controversial measure: the “Women’s Health Protection Act,” (I love it how they try to drown the harmful legislation they just drafted in euphemisms) or HB 2884 which seeks to permit surprise inspections of abortion clinics without a warrant.

Despite the national outcry and bipartisan opposition to the group’s most recent legislative affront on LGBT rights, a number of CAP’s controversial bills continue to make their way through the Republican-controlled Arizona legislature. Here are four more such similar legislation pushed entirlye by the state’s religious activist groups, seriously bringing into question religious peoples’ claims that their beliefs are  “merely private” and do not hurt anyone:

HB 2565: Criminalizing assisted suicide
Passed the House, referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Although Arizona already has a law banning assisted suicide, HB 2565 seeks to expand the definition of manslaughter to include “offering or providing the physical means that another person uses to commit suicide, with the knowledge” that the individual intends to end his or her life.

HB 2284: “Women’s Health Protection Act”
Passed the House, headed to the Senate.

House Bill 2284 would allow unannounced government inspections of abortion clinics without a warrant. The legislation also seeks to make it a class 1 misdemeanor to help “a minor avoid Arizona’s parental consent requirements” to obtain an abortion. Furthermore, the bill would require abortion clinics to submit an extensive report of each abortion performed at the facility, including “what steps are taken to save that child’s life.”

SB 1048: Corporate scholarship tax credit
Passed the Senate, passed the House Ways & Means Committee. Referred to the House Rules Committee.

By expanding Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Account program, SB 1048 would permit small businesses organized as S corporations to claim tax credits for contributions to “school tuition organizations” — tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organizations that allocate the majority of their annual revenue to scholarships or grants for private schools. Opponents of the bill argue that it would divert funding from public school districts.

HB 2281: Property tax exemption for religious institutions
Passed the House, transmitted to the Senate.

House Bill 2281 would exempt nonprofit religious assemblies, as well as institutions leasing “property, buildings and fixtures,” from paying property taxes. A similar CAP-backed effort was vetoed by Brewer in 2013.

Here are 13 of the 123 CAP-supported bills that have been signed into Arizona law:

    • Prohibiting abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, strengthening informed consent requirements and requiring FDA compliance for medication abortions (2012). The 20-week ban was later ruled unconstitutional.
    • Exempting religiously-affiliated employers from being forced to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs or contraception (2012). Viagra is ok, though.
    • Ensuring that arts funding is not spent on obscenity or material that disgraces the flags of Arizona or the United States (2012).
    • Requiring an ultrasound before an abortion, banning telemedicine abortions and “improving” safety standards for abortion clinics, also known as meddling in. (2011).
    • Ending taxpayer-funded insurance coverage for government employees’ abortions (2010).
    • Banning partial-birth abortion (2009).
    • The Abortion Consent Act: requiring informed consent, enhancing parental consent and expanding rights of conscience protections for healthcare workers (2009). Also known as shaming and manipulating a woman into carrying to term a pregnancy she does not want and overall making access to abortion as hard as possible for women.
    • Defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman in the Arizona Constitution (2008). This bill was advanced through a ballot initiative.
    • Funding community-based marriage classes (2007).
    • Funding for abstinence-until-marriage education (2005, 2006 and 2007). In 2008, former Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano (D) rejected federal Title V abstinence-until-marriage funding.
    • Banning taxpayer funding of human cloning (2005).
    • Providing equal access for religious groups to rental of school facilities (2003).
    • Prohibiting physicians’ assistants from performing surgical abortions (2002).

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Religion a private matter?

Religion does not hurt anyone?

One should not criticize religion?

I beg to differ and the facts about the harm of religion stand for themselves.

Religious people have set into motion a plan and worldview which is a slap in the face to the enlightened and reason and they keep getting away with it by pulling the “right to religion” card not realizing that their “right” to religion ends when someone else’s rights are being trampled upon by that religion.

The First Amendment separates church from state, explicitly saying that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”

Religious people are, per the First Amendment, free to exercise their faith without government persecution but they are not  free to make laws or establish policy that incorporates and respects their faith.

Why do religious and non-religious people alike not understand that and call demands for them to stop infesting public policy and government as infringing upon their freedom to religion?

It is like the King of France saying that the demands of his subjects for equity constitute an infringement upon his rights to oppress them. It is utterly absurd.

For far too long, religious people have put intellectuals and rational people on the defense forcing them to, time and again, guard against and explain themselves to these delusional fools.

It was about time, however, that religious people started defending their unfounded stance, their delusions, their fairy tales, their bigotry, their hatred, their ignorance. No one should have to politely nod when religious people and their actions hurt people in a very real way while taking humanity down a dangerous path.

Religion is harmful.

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