Where’d the Trolls Go?

August 8, 2006

Not that I’ve had a lot of them, and not that I would want to have more, but I have to wonder where the trolls who have hit this blog from time-to-time have gone? I don’t moderate posts here, and I only delete spam, so where are all the pro-war, pro-Shrub, What?-Me-Worry? trolls who were doing the cyberspace equivalent of ringing my doorbell and running just six months ago?

I took a short tour this morning of some of their blogs and was shocked – SHOCKED – to find that there’s hardly a peep coming out from them about The War on Terror (TM) these days. Or about the Smirking Chimp, the economy, the Israeli-Hizballah conflict, etc. Even Kender’s Musings, whose masthead seems to imply all-War on Terror TM coverage all-the-time, hasn’t touched on anything more threatening to America than the ACLU since June!

(Normally I don’t plug a right-wing site, but as someone once pointed out, the wingnuts have been good to me on occassion.)

Could it be that all is not well in right-wing fantasy land?

Nah. And anyone who thinks so probably just Hates Freedom (TM).

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Happy 230th Birthday, USA!

July 4, 2006

My birthday wish for the United States is that its citizens will remember and once again cherish the liberal and democratic principles upon which our republic was established, as so eloquently expressed by Thomas Jefferson:

We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

In these troubled times, those who support the undemocratic, unconstitutional rape of our body politic by the smirking chimp and his cronies would do well to remember the words of another great American statesman, Ben Franklin:

Those who would sacrifice essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Make no mistake, loyalty oaths, “free speech zones,” domestic spying programs, presidential signing statements, the creation of “special tribunals” to try “enemy combatants,” ad nauseum, aren’t just the first step towards fascism, they’re emblematic of a functioning fascist state. It’s no longer a question of stopping America from becoming a police state; it’s a question of restoring America to the democratic republic where the civil liberties of the individual once again trump the power of the state that it was just a few short years ago.

I’m the commander, see. I do not need to explain why I say things. That’s the interesting thing about being the president. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don’t feel like I owe anybody an explanation.

Mr. Bush, please keep in mind that you are the Commander-in-Chief of the military, you are not Commander-in-Chief of country; the U.S. Constitution is not just a “goddamned piece of paper.” You owe nearly 300,000,000 people an explanation for every lie you utter, every war you start, and for every drop of blood that’s been shed as a result of your arrogance, stupidity, and tyranny.

God can’t save America, but We the People can.


It’s On

March 22, 2006

Part of the reason I started this blog was in the hopes of making connections with like-minded people. If you haven't figured it out yet, like-minded people would be political animals and pretty liberal ones at that. Not that you have to share my views to post here, however. I'll dialogue with just about anyone whether they agree with me or not because I love a good debate.

I don't suffer fools gladly however. If you've got a point to make go ahead and make it – you’d just better be sure you're able to back it up with something more substantial than stereotypes, "common knowledge" or your ability to quote scripture, whatever your faith might be. If you want to live in a theocracy, by all means please email me and I will personally buy you a one-way ticket to Iran.

No, I am not kidding. Have credit card, will ship your ass to Tehran.

The strength of my convictions stem from values that have been instilled in me by a loving and well-intended family, reaffirmed by the warmth of good relationships and experiences, and tested – and tempered – by bad ones.

Bad experiences. Now there's a topic that covers the proverbial multitude of sins. When I have a bad experience I have learned to react to it with two old cliches in mind:

  1. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
  2. Don't get mad. Get even. Or a blog – which is almost as good.

These bits of conventional wisdom constitute the other part of the reason that I decided to start this blog. I had the very bad experience of getting into a "discussion" with Jason Cecil, a self-described evangelical Christian conservative on his eponymous blog. Jason has no hang-ups about posting his reasons for why gay people are immoral, a threat to the institution of the family and the security of the country, and shouldn’t be allowed around children.

Although he “posts about controversial subjects” with the expectation of getting “passionate responses in opposition to [his] views,” but “unlike many other [people never deletes] comments that disagree with [his opinions],” he did just that in response to what I had to say about his views and my questions about gender roles within the Cecil household.

It wasn't the actual act of deleting my post or the bigotry of his views that bothered me; it was the hypocrisy and cowardice of his actions. It reminded me a lot of the current media culture in microcosm.

And that's where the cliches come in. One self-righteous bigoted hypocrite was just the stimulus I needed to make sure that another point of view – mine – would get a chance to be heard, too.

I’ve been tested. I’ve been tempered. I’ve got a copy of my reply that was too hot for the Web right here (best read after the original – context is key):

I really enjoy the pretzel logic that evangelical Christians use to capitalize on scriptural passages that justify their prejudices and omit, ignore, or explain-away passages that contradict their biases or just plain inconvenience them. The verses from Leviticus that allude to homosexual conduct take the same form, use the same wording, and appear in the same place as the prohibitions against eating shellfish, weaving or wearing mixed fibers, and establishing sanitation rituals. Yet it's the "scriptural literalists" who are first in line to make the call on which of G-d's words are "enduring moral principles" (that just happen to make good political hay for attacking people and their families they don't like), and which passages are – what? – cultural relics that don’t hold water with our modern knowledge of science, biology, and sociology.

How convenient.

For the record I never stated you forced your wife to stay at home against her will. I posed a question, which you've answered rather defensively. Since you've made it quite clear that you have no problem editing the content of posts you don't like, I'll repost exactly what was said, just in case you've got an itchy finger hovering over the delete key.

"As for your family life – I honestly think it's great that your child will benefit from a stay-at-home parent, but I wonder how much genitalia had to do with the division of labor in your household as opposed to ability?"

See the question mark (?)? That makes it the opposite of a statement.

As for me accusing you of things I couldn't possibly know and attacking you personally: What accusations? What personal attacks?

It's not name-calling to refer to someone or something with a word that describes them. I posted three definitions of "bigot," all of which apply to the position you've staked-out in this thread. If you want to go ahead and "delete the messenger," knock yourself out. The fact that you would even make that threat says a lot more about you and the strength of your argument than it does about anything I’ve posted in response to it here. Furthermore, as this is a politically themed blog (keeping in mind that blogs by definition are interactive) that brings a new word to mind: hypocrite.

You are the one taking an entire group of people to task for demanding that they be given equal consideration as potential loving parents for orphaned children.

You state up front that these are people whose "lifestyle" you don't recognize as legitimate and whose families you refuse to acknowledge.

The slave traders and their patrons didn't acknowledge the "lifestyle" or families of their African "product," either. By dehumanizing the objects of their prejudice they were able to shrug off the moral obscenity of their trade in human flesh.

By dehumanizing the targets of their bigotry they came to see nothing wrong in denying children parents, and vice-versa.

To ensure that the labels they applied and the arguments they made to cast human beings as something less than fully deserving of the kind of relationships they valued for themselves, it was essential to destroy the family unit among their chattel. And it was all buttressed with selective use of scripture.

At least among those looking for a way to justify their indulgence in it.

Sound familiar?

But don't take my word for it. Again, I've checked my sources:

religioustolerance.org/slavery.htm
americanpresbyterianchurch.org/the_north-south_schism_of_1861.htm
quodlibet.net/foutz-slavery.shtml
liberalslikechrist.org/about/slavrelg.html

As for the Catholic Charities I've already addressed the inherent contradiction of their position, which you yourself acknowledge in your last post (although what you call moral beliefs anyone who understands the word calls “bigotry.”) To recap: they're not just following their “conscience;” they're throwing the baby out with the bathwater to indulge their prejudices.

Which children would Jesus deny a home to, Jason? Since Christianity teaches that we all fall short in the eyes of G-d, which sinners would Jesus forbid from giving a loving home to an otherwise unwanted child?

The other poster in this thread raises an interesting point that I think bears elaboration. Whether or not the Catholic Charities receive money from the state isn't the issue. That they are licensed and regulated by the state is. Adoption, like marriage, is a legally binding contract that falls under the purview of the state, not the prejudices of individuals or churches.

Which takes us back to your original post, Jason, and one of your admitted prejudices, upon which you base your entire post: the right of same-sex couples to marry.

The right that’s being fought for is not to force homophobic religious denominations to perform or acknowledge same-sex marriages. That would be a violation of the First Amendment Rights of the members of those churches and an undue intrusion of the state into the affairs of the churches in question.

I find it ironic that people like you who cry the loudest about the state interfering with your religious freedoms refuse to acknowledge how hypocritical your stance and actions on this subject are vis-à-vis those less bigoted denominations that don't have a problem with same-sex marriage. The very thing you claim to be most afraid of (which isn't even on the "gay agenda"), is the very thing you're imposing on others: a secular "enforcer" in the form of the state imposing your religious beliefs on everyone else.

What is on the "gay agenda" is state recognition of the right of same-sex couples to enter into a marriage contract. It's the recognition of that contract by the state – with all the responsibilities, liabilities, and privileges that entails – that's at issue. Likewise, what the Human Rights Campaign (rightly) asked the state to do was force the Catholic Charities to respect their established, legal right to form a contract, in this instance a contract governing an adoption.

Since you readily acknowledge that your religious beliefs shouldn't hold sway over the political dimension of this issue (quote: "I agree that my religious beliefs have no bearing on this issue in the political world."), what other conclusion is there to be drawn other than that the whole point of your post is to advertise your personal prejudices and your religious views that you believe support them?

And now it’s on.