Humanist Thought of the Week: 7 6 2010
Skepticism and The Constitution
Because it’s the 4th of July weekend, I thought I would talk a little about skepticism and the Constitution.
Ok – so on Tuesday Biden dropped on F-Bomb on Obama telling him that signing the health care reform act was a big effin deal. Which it is. When I heard about this though, I laughed. That’s so Joe. He is often off color and always says what’s on his mind. But then I realized that I did not like it at all when Cheney used the exact same word on the floor of Congress a few years ago. So… what’s the difference and does context really matter? Yes. Yes it does.
So after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, the two individuals in America who are prone to say stupid and hateful things after such disasters said stupid and hateful things. I am talking of course about Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh. THIS ISN’T NEWS! Look – at this point I think we can all agree that Pat Robertson lives in a demon-haunted world. That means that he really believes that demons exist and that you really can make deals with them and so when something bad happens he blames the victims for consorting with said demons. It is sad that he views the world in such bizarre and terrifying terms, but at this point it isn’t news. If his congregation suddenly realized what an insane person he is, that would be news. The same goes for Rush. I don’t know what his problem is but the fact that he says stupid and hateful things isn’t news. It would only be news if his ditto heads decided that they have had enough of his ranting and stopped listening and started protesting. That isn’t happening in either case so there is nothing to see here – just move along.
As for Haiti – the Humanist Charities are doing an excellent job – find out more and donate to help their efforts here. Now this is news worth talking about.
First, let’s remember that Obama inherited the Afghanistan problem
and that Bush did not send additional troops when he was asked to either. So
presumably, there are good reasons pro and con on the troop level issues. What
I want to discuss is the nature of this problem and the Humanist approach to
solving problems in general.
The question of whether or not to send more troops is not an easy
one and it is the main reason why I am really glad I am not president. Because
I would hate to have to make that decision. Simply put, there is no good solution
right now available. Now, it is entirely possible that Obama is biding his time
hoping something on the ground in Afghanistan will change to help him make his
decision. But since there have been several high level meetings on the subject,
I think it is clear that he is actively tryng to come up with a good plan in
a bad situation.
Ok. So, we have US Senators committing violations of the
Logan Act and we have all sort of senators trying to convert health care
reform into a government giveaway to the health insurance industry to the detriment
of both our wallets and our health. Now, I do watch Keith Olbermann. Not for
the news, but for his commentary. And lately he has been asking, what is going
on. He hasn’t figured out that the problem is that ALL the senators in questions
are members of a religious cult known as the Family.
And their actions are totally consistent with historic policy promoted by the
Family. And in case you aren’t family with The Family, I suggest you read the
book. Basically, all the crappy foreign policy debacles the US has been
involved in are the Families fault.
The biggest irony of Joe Wilson’s, Rep of South Carolina, outburst
during the joint session of congress the other day is that he could have been
a bit of a hero to everyone. I am not saying that what he did was okay by any
stretch of the imagination. Interrupting the President during a joint session
is just plain rude. It’s just that he called Obama a liar when Obama was speaking
the truth. If, however, he had called Obama a liar when he was telling us that
the plan was debt neutral, a claim no one believes, we could all at least have
understood his frustration. Instead, he looks like an idiot. All because lying
about whether or not someone else is lying is just bad form anyway you look
Ok – so I get that the Republicans need to be seen opposing the President because that is what their base wants and you can’t get elected unless you win your primaries. Of course, they also can’t afford to sound like complete lunatics or they won’t win the general election. Which apparently explains the latest weirdness coming from the right wing of the Republican Party. They have to be seen as opposing the stimulus even though they desperately want that money. Which, of course, makes them seem like hypocrites. Their compromise is apparently to take all but the unemployment money. Keep in mind that the amount they are taking is in the billions and they are only rejecting, in the case of Louisiana’s Jindal, about 90 million that would have gone to about 25,000 people who are unemployed (~$3,600 per person). (Sigh) Aside from coming off as totally heartless, it is clear leading Republicans still don’t understand economics 101, which would explain how we got into this mess in the first place. Aside from being the compassionate thing to do, providing a little bit of money directly to the unemployed and/or poor helps them afford things like food. This is a good thing because it not only helps stimulate the economy; it also helps prevent increases in violence, which tends to increase when people can’t afford to feed themselves or their family. To simplify this, putting 90 million directly into the economy is good; causing food riots is bad. Because of this latest ruse of theirs we are now forced to look at the Republican party as hypocritical heartless idiots who are delusional to think that the desires of their small delusional base is somehow reflective of the will of the majority. What a great way to win primary elections. Not so great if you are actually trying to, you know, improve the lives of the average citizen.
Finally got around to reading my latest Humanist magazine from the American Humanist Association. I was reading a really large book that I needed to return to the library so I wasn’t able to get to this until now. Anyway – they have an article from Judge John Jones III who accepted the AHA’s Humanist Religious Liberty Award last year. In it he talks about the Dover PA Intelligent Design case and his role in it. In this article he describes the school board as being out of control and run by young earth creationists who he also describes as "bullies, quite frankly." It is a very interesting read and focuses mostly on how most people in America do not understand our government and we must do better on civics education if we want our democracy to stand. I think he is right on and I think that is something that Humanists could offer our communities as part of our Humanist outreach. Humanism is after all the philosophy of Democracy. You have to believe people are basically good and can manage their own affairs to even conceve of Democracy. If you think people are bad and need to be controlled you set up monarchies, theocracies and other forms of dictatorship. Anyway – there was an excellent paragraph that summed the whole thing up and includes his feelings on the importance of science education as well.
"The issue of good civics educaiton goes to the survival of our American democracy, because if you don’t understand what your rights are, if you don’t understand the constitution and its Bill of Rights, then you stand ready to lose those rights. But the issue of good science education – and I don’t think this is an overstatement – goes to the longevity and the suvival of the people of all nations. It’s that important."
– Judge John E Jones III
Don’t throw rocks at men with guns and don’t hang out with people who throw rocks at men with guns. It is a stupid thing to do that will get you shot. A case in point is what just happened in Athens. Some kids were throwing rocks at 2 men with guns (police) and when the men with guns couldn’t convince the kids to stop (the kids resisted arrest by continuing to throw rocks), the men shot into the group and killed one of the kids. Not to surprising. I am not saying the actions of the officer are ok, I am just saying if you throw rocks at men with guns, you kind of need to expect them to shoot back at you. So DON”T THROW ROCKS AT MEN WITH GUNS!