Tag Archives: violence

Why we need guns, even in the wake of yet another school shooting.

17 Dec

With the advent of another school shooting, gun control is back in the spotlight.  The focus of much of the debate revolves around assault rifles and high capacity magazines. I’ve heard people argue that we should ban both high capacity magazines and assault rifles. The proponents of this argument reason that neither are used for hunting, but instead have the sole purpose of enabling someone to kill more people faster. While this is true, the proponents of the ban are wrong in their assumption of what the 2nd amendment was intended for. The 2nd amendment was not written for hunters, it was not written for collectors, it was written for a specific purpose. Here is a simple fact of life:

Government authority is derived from violence.

Like it or not, the government claims a monopoly on socially acceptable violence. (Whether they are justified or legitimate in doing so is another issue.) A government’s laws only have weight because they are backed by the threat of violence. This threat may be very well concealed by formalities like a bureaucracy, but ultimately, if you resist a chain of laws long enough, you will come face to face with an individual with a gun acting on behalf of the government who’s laws you are breaking.

Given that violence equals governmental authority, what happens to a government’s people when they are relieved of their ability to use violence?

They lose ultimate authority over their government.

It is possible for people to exercise authority over their government by voting, but this is not the same as ultimate authority. People can vote about something all they want, but if other people show up with guns, the ones with the guns are going to have the final say. I realize this might sound absurd to someone living in a first world country, but the reason it sounds absurd is because first world countries, by in large, have a relatively good track record when it comes to adhering to the will of their people when the people exercise their will through voting. This track record, however, has varying degrees of length depending on the country.  You only need to look at now first world countries during the various hot and cold wars of the 19th and 20th centuries to see governments repressing their people. (Franco Spain, Vichy France, DDR Germany) It can happen. It does happen. It currently is happening across the middle east. Syria, Egypt, and recently Libya are good examples of where the government swept away any illusions that ultimate authority rested on anything other than violence. It is also here that the people have attempted to reassert their ultimate authority through violence. When the 2nd amendment was written, the colonists in the newly formed United States had just thrown off an oppressor with violence. They had attempted various non-violent means previously, but fond them to be ultimately powerless. They used the last recourse available to them: violence. Having learned this lesson, they drew up the 2nd amendment to ensure that their people would never again be powerless in the face of an oppressor.

The 2nd amendment exists to ensure a people’s ability to use violence against the government.

It is for this exact reason that weapons like assault rifles and their extended magazines are needed. They are designed for you to fight a war scenario and kill people. When someone argues for banning assault rifles, high capacity magazines, and other implements designed specifically for war scenarios, what they are actually arguing for is the removal of a people’s final say over their government.

Children dead, media eager for misery, society’s double standard.

15 Dec

So unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve heard of the new school shooting that happened in America yesterday morning; this time in an elementary school by yet another deranged individual. Every time there is some horrific tragedy like this the American media collectively orgasm in their pants with excitement. They love it when this type of thing happens and they’re fucking sick human beings for it. They need tragedy, they need grief, fear, and human misery to keep you glued to their “coverage.” Clinical psychiatrists have come out time and time again pleading with the media not to cover these stories because they inevitably inspire copy-cat killers and just fuel the ego of the sick individuals who perpetrate these acts. Does the media care what the clinical psychiatrists say? Fuck no. It’s not about stopping these acts, it’s about ratings. Ratings, and consequently the money the earn from those ratings, is more important that human lives and suffering. Fucked up and disgusting, but that’s the truth. The “news anchors’ these pampered, dolled up husks of human beings will describe to you the misery of others with a twinkle in their soulless eyes.

In the rush to be “first” to cover a heartbreaking story, facts don’t matter. The media named the killer Ryan Lanza when it was his older brother Adam. Not only was Ryan suddenly confronted with the horror that his brother just murdered his mother and a bunch of children, but now he was quite possibly in danger for his life as well. Within minutes  there were multiple Facebook groups condemning Ryan to hell.

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The mindless mob then went on the witch hunt for anything remotely connected with the person wrongly accused of the committing the massacre. For example: Ryan “Liked” the video game series Mass Effect, a series I, myself, am very fond of. Well the public, whipped into a frenzy by the media, started to decry the evils of this video game they knew nothing about. (click to enlarge)

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In a nutshell, Mass Effect is a science fiction roleplaying game about saving the galaxy from a race of alien robots. It has nothing to do with anything remotely connected to a school shooting (but since when have facts mattered?).  Before all the information was available, the governor of Connecticut pleaded with the media not to speculate on the number of dead. Wolf Blitzer, of CNN, reported this and then immediately started to speculate about the rumored death toll, all with a straight face and without skipping a beat. FOX news, not to be outdone, even went so far as to try and interview a child about the trauma she just witnessed, a trauma she’s most likely unable to even comprehend.

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How much you want to bet FOX news got a parental release formed signed by Sofia’s parents so they could interview an 8-year old about her classmates being butchered? The victims are not human beings to these people, they are tragedies to be exploited for profit. It’s fucking sick. While reading over a discussion of the media’s reaction to the shooting on Reddit.com, I came across an insightful comment a user made quoting Robert Ebert (a movie critic) talking about his review of the movie “Elephant.”

Let me tell you a story. The day after Columbine, I was interviewed for the Tom Brokaw news program. The reporter had been assigned a theory and was seeking sound bites to support it. “Wouldn’t you say,” she asked, “that killings like this are influenced by violent movies?” No, I said, I wouldn’t say that. “But what about ‘Basketball Diaries’?” she asked. “Doesn’t that have a scene of a boy walking into a school with a machine gun?” The obscure 1995 Leonardo Di Caprio movie did indeed have a brief fantasy scene of that nature, I said, but the movie failed at the box office (it grossed only $2.5 million), and it’s unlikely the Columbine killers saw it.

The reporter looked disappointed, so I offered her my theory. “Events like this,” I said, “if they are influenced by anything, are influenced by news programs like your own. When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event. Cable news drops ordinary programming and goes around the clock with it. The story is assigned a logo and a theme song; these two kids were packaged as the Trench Coat Mafia. The message is clear to other disturbed kids around the country: If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. The TV will talk about nothing else but me. Experts will try to figure out what I was thinking. The kids and teachers at school will see they shouldn’t have messed with me. I’ll go out in a blaze of glory.”

In short, I said, events like Columbine are influenced far less by violent movies than by CNN, the NBC Nightly News and all the other news media, who glorify the killers in the guise of “explaining” them. I commended the policy at the Sun-Times, where our editor said the paper would no longer feature school killings on Page 1. The reporter thanked me and turned off the camera. Of course the interview was never used. They found plenty of talking heads to condemn violent movies, and everybody was happy.

The main focus of this post is on the tragedy that unfolded yesterday in Connecticut  but I would like to point out something else I find interesting, something that is likely to upset a lot of people in a very particular way. I imagine many will react with ‘now is not the time!”, however it is precisely at times like this that the contrast I’m trying to elucidate is so clear. We have a refined sense of selective outrage in this country. There’s a quote from the Joker in the movie “The Dark Knight” that encapsulates this very succinctly. In this scene the Joker is talking to Harvey Dent about plans, chaos, and society:

You know what, you know what I noticed? Nobody panics when things go according to plan. Even if the plan is horrifying. If tomorrow I tell the press that like a gang banger, will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it’s all, part of the plan. But when I say that one, little old mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds!

Even if the plan is horrifying.

We, as a nation, routinely murder innocent civilians, including children like those murdered yesterday in Connecticut. However, when we murder civilians, we do it with flying drones and laser guided missiles in far away lands. We watch them die on little CCTV monitors and go about our day. 98% of the people we murder are not the people we intended to murder, rather, they are collateral damage. Perhaps I was wrong in saying “children like those murdered yesterday in Connecticut.” There are some glaring differences between the children in Connecticut and the children overseas. The children overseas are of a different skin tone, religion, country, and speak a different language. I guess that’s enough to make their lives not matter. Never mind everything they have in common, most importantly of which is being human.

Amelia, over at Imaginary Playgrounds, has a section in a post that I believe sums up why such selective outrage exists.

Within a sick, violent society, all people are taught violence. We are told to look at those who commit violence as role models, so long as that violence takes place within certain relationships where violence is culturally sanctioned. Violence is socially acceptable when authorized by a legitimized authority, and considered unacceptable when performed outside of an authority’s approval. To give an example, a police officer shooting an unarmed person of color is often overlooked, and when it is brought up, excuses are made, and the blame is placed on the victim. Yet, when a person of color defends themselves against police violence and injures a cop in the process, it is viewed as a heinous, irredeemable act of violence. Violence is socially acceptable when performed in service of dominant social ideologies, and unacceptable when it disrupts or subverts dominant social ideologies. A straight, cis man can kill a trans sex worker and get away with it, often being able to use her trans status as a justification, but when a trans woman of color defends herself against a racist, transphobic attacker, she is charged with murder and sentenced to 3 years in prison.

In this case it’s a man killing a group of school children with a gun versus a man killing a group of school children with a rocket fired from a remote controlled plane. In our society, as long as the violence is directed in a direction we’ve been taught is acceptable, irregardless that the end result of the violence is just as horrifying independent of who’s doing it to whom, we have no problem with said violence. It is only when such a heinous act is committed against a group of people we haven’t sanctioned for suffering and death do we cry foul.

Forlorn hope

15 Mar

This is perhaps one of the most important posts I’ll ever write on this blog, or at least it is to me personally. As such, this guarantees that almost nobody will read it, and fewer will comment. That always seems to be the case with posts I find particularly important.

Over the past several months, years even, I’ve struggled with faith in humanity. I know that sounds horribly cliché, but this is extremely important to me so if it bothers you then kindly fuck off.

So what do I mean by “Faith in Humanity”? I guess I mean the hope that we won’t ultimately destroy ourselves, that we won’t kill our planet, that we will continue to better ourselves.

This storm of vague ideas has been swirling around in my head for a while. Mostly it has been comprised of just feelings, gut instincts about the world that don’t easily translate into words. I started taking down notes, dictating messages to myself, whenever one of my nondescript feelings manifested itself in some tragedy or another. I figured that if I was going to say that I no longer had faith in humanity I would need evidence to back that up. I recently realized that it doesn’t matter.

Overtime I slowly came to realize that just as the universe is governed by the natural laws of physics, so too is humanity. When a plane takes off from a runway it must fight to overcome inertia. The engine and wings must fight to overcome those forces that would have the plane stay as it were, idle and motionless on the ground. Humanity is much the same way. The natural order of things is to be shit. The natural order of things is for everything to remain the same. It is only through great struggle that we overcome this inertia. I’m not sure I have the energy anymore to fight it.

Human inertia. It’s why it is always easier for conservatives to get elected rather than liberals. It’s why we had to fight so hard to overcome things like slavery and theocracy, our natural barbarism and superstitions. A natural resistance to change; why women had to fight for so long against the conservatives of their day to gain recognition that they too were human beings deserving of equal rights and opportunities. The same can be said for blacks fighting against the conservatives of the 1950’s and 60’s for the same thing. We see it currently as people of non-heteronormative genders fight modern conservatives to be recognized as people deserving equal rights and dignities afforded heterosexual individuals. Human inertia. It’s partly why religion is more successful at propagating itself than science. Religion preaches certainty and inertia. It does not change. The only time something “changes” in religion is once in a while a small sect will split off and declare themselves the sole masters of truth and certainty.

Just as all objects have the natural tendency, through gravity, to fall to the earth, we too have a natural tendency towards suffering, ignorance, and squalor.

The second realization I had was that, at least to most of humanity, reality does not matter.

Once I realized this I lost my interest in debating the merits of ideas. It is no use discussing a concept with someone if they do not recognize that there exists an independent reality, an independent fact, indifferent to how strongly they hold a position.

If you want to see first hand how reality no longer matters, take a look at American politics. It is absolutely pointless to try and have debates on the issues. The issues don’t matter. Conservatives have their narrative and that is it. “Democrats always raise taxes and are fiscally irresponsible.” Well actually, there are times when democrats do cut taxes, but this never gets noticed. It gets so bad that people can make statements that are demonstrably not true like “the healthcare reform will create death panels” and other people will believe it. Fox News and the conservatives constantly do this! They actually incorporate it into their tactics. They know they can make up the most insane shit and their base will swallow it, even if it’s blatantly untrue. They do this so the liberals are always having to defend themselves from bullshit claims that are false in the first place. (Not that any conservative will change their mind when a liberal shows that a claim is wrong because hey, he’s a fucking lib and you can’t trust him!)

Now can you imagine for one second a liberal trying to spew as many paranoid bullshit statements a minute like Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, or Sarah Palin? They could never get away with it! That’s human inertia in action! During the 2008 presidential election, Sarah Palin paraded her pregnant unwed daughter out onto the stage. All the conservatives went “Aw, isn’t that sweet. They’re going through some rough times but God will help them!” Can you imagine if Obama had a pregnant unwed daughter? Can you image what conservatives would say? Most likely something along the lines of “Great, another fucking nigger crack whore who’ll take my money in welfare!” It’s only a crime when a liberal does it and to hell with your “facts.”

Everyone already has their minds made up, there is no “market place” of ideas in politics. All that decides elections is who has more babies, and who can get more of their people out to vote on election day. My team vs your team, us vs them.

I’ve stopped caring about the news all together. Every day it’s the same story: “Liberals are giant pussies cowering to conservatives who have won yet another victory on their endless march to make the world shit for everybody but their billionaire donors. Elsewhere in the world religious fanatics continue to oppress others, cut the clitorises off of young girls, slaughter gays, and generally fight anything that might ease collective suffering in the name of their one true god. Meanwhile peaceful protesters were brutally put down by the military in <insert country here> as large corporations pressure the government to keep a tighter grip on it’s worker population so as not to cause waves in the stock market.”

But I digress into specifics. What about human nature on a larger picture?

Well speaking of larger, the greater the number of people hurt/killed/in need, the less we care. How horrible is that? If we see a fellow human being hacked to death we are horrified and outraged. It be logical then to believe that hearing of 100,000 people being hacked to death would make us feel the horrified and outraged 100,000 times more, but no, we couldn’t give a shit. Genocide? *yawn* What’s on sports?

We also collectively never learn from our mistakes. If you pay attention, you’ll notice there is a cycle of disasters. A perfect example are mine collapses. Every few years a mining disaster will happen, costing millions of dollars and human lives. Families are destroyed, politicians outraged, and the press calls for blood. What happens? An investigation. Somebody gets sued and more protective legislation is passed. Everything calms down for a few years as mines buck up and put forth the extra effort to operate safely. Then, one day, someone decides they can cut just a little corner, then a little more, and a little more, and soon enough the whole thing explodes again and the cycle repeats.

It happens all the time. I am numb when I see another massive disaster that leaves families destroyed and the environment ruined. It’s just what we do. There is no point getting upset because it’s just going to happen again. I guarantee it.

So is humanity going to hell in a hand-basket? Is it because of “kids these days”? Is society going to collapse? Is the end near? Sort of.

The people who normally say those things are social conservatives that don’t understand why the world is changing. I don’t believe in hell, kids have always been this way, society will never “collapse” because as long as there are people there will be “society”, and the only way there will be an “end” is if we make one.

For a while I used to dismiss people who thought we were coming closer to the brink of destruction. I used to rationalize that humanity has always been like this, we will continue to push the envelope forever because there is no end to that envelope. I reassured myself of this with the following saying:

“Uniforms and weapons change, war doesn’t.”

But I was wrong.

You see, there is something very important hidden in that saying that nobody really pays attention to: “weapons change.” Humanity has always been like it is now, and we always will be. That doesn’t change. What DOES change is our technology. I can’t overstate the importance of this. Throughout history the damaged humanity could do to itself and the planet was always limited by our technology. Now we’ve reached a point where we can exterminate all life on the planet 7 times over with a push of a button. Each day we dump millions of tons of toxins and trash into our environment. We are speeding towards the cliff and people are only pressing the gas pedal harder.

What am I supposed to do? Go out and join a protest? Change my light bulbs? I’ve done all that. It doesn’t do shit. It’s a rain drop in a desert. Nothing will change until all of humanity collectively decides to change. That won’t happen until the danger is so imminent, so in your face, not even conservatives will be able to ignore it, though many will try. By that time it will be too little too late. It’s just our nature.

For the longest time I avoided this conclusion because of the despair I thought it would bring. Are there enough good things about humanity to warrant hope that we can change our nature, limit suffering, and not destroy ourselves?

I liken this to my views on religion. One of the most common arguments I hear from believers when I tell them religion is harmful is: “But religion does so much good in the world! Look at all the charities and shelters! Look how much hope it brings to people!” Ignoring the fact that there are plenty of secular charities and shelters with a lot lower instance of their leaders driving around in mercedes, “giving people hope” doesn’t help the millions of people around the world who are forced to undergo some physical or emotional torment/suffering/death because of their (but more often someone else’s) religious convictions. The sum of religion’s good does not out weigh the sum of its evil.

And so it is with humanity.

The problem is in how bitter this is to swallow. Just as with religion, there are some very beautiful aspects of humanity that make one extremely reluctant to declare it hopeless. For me two things stand out among the rest: Art and science. The only time I’ve ever felt the awe that others call a “religious experience” is when I stood in awe of either some form of art or in awe at understanding, through science, some magnificent part of the universe. Human art can be amazing, breath taking, mind blowing. Nothing cheers me up better than listening to great music at the end of a long day.

Science has the ability to move me just as powerfully as art. The first time I saw this video it left me in tears. Tears for just how amazing the universe is, and tears for just how far we’ve come, only for us to inevitably make it all shit.

So I guess the important question now is “where does this leave me?” Do I become a nihilist? Do I just shoot myself?

No.

While I’ve come to the conclusion humanity is fucked, individual human beings aren’t. People as a group might be nasty, barbaric, superstitious, and willfully ignorant, but individual people can be amazing. I’m still here, I still have the opportunity to feel and enjoy life before the rest of mankind kills us all off, so I’m going to do just that.

Proof conservatives and liberals are not equal on violence

11 Jan

Everyone in the media is scrambling to make the false equivocation that conservatives are really just like liberals, that both sides are equally bad and need to tone down the hateful rhetoric. Well that would be a convenient little story if it were true, but the cold hard fact of the matter is that liberals and conservatives are not equal when it comes to blame or violence. Not all conservatives are crazy anti-government wingnuts who shoot police officers, congresswomen, and children, that would be absurd. However! All crazy anti-government winguts who shoot police officers, congresswomen, and children are conservative. All the politicians and media heads that are wrapping themselves in violent gun imagery are conservative. Tough shit. It’s a fact. Here is a list of all the past politically related shootings in the US and the people in positions of responsibility who use violent imagery to egg their followers on. Here’s a hint boys and girls, they’re all conservative.

Am I mad about this? Can’t you tell? I’m fucking furious. Despite reality everyone will insist that it isn’t so. It’s like we’re to appaled and scared of the ugly truth to admit it to ourselves. In the end, we’ll keep telling each other that we see the emperor’s new clothes even though he’s naked, just like we’ll continue to avoid the naked truth that conservatives have a problem with violence.

Passion, zeal, and my history.

28 Nov

I just finished watching The Baader Meinhof Complex on netfilx and found it pretty thought provoking. The movie follows “the birth of West Germany’s Red Army Faction, a radical left-wing terrorist group formed in the lat 1960’s amid a climate of revolution and a fallen generation.” The movie struck a cord with me because back in my teenage years I might have joined such a group if given the chance to time travel. Might have. Past tense.  The movie was in some way a loose exploration of those teenage fantasies.

As a teenager I never fantasized about bombing buildings or assassinating people, but rather I abstractly fantasized about fighting the man and dying for my comrades. I guess I connected with this movie in that I empathized with the characters’ zeal. I could relate with their feelings of oppression, of desperation, and their sense of the injustice in the world.

I’ve been thinking about zealotry a lot lately. I’m wondering if some people are just more inclined to zealous behavior than others. Thinking back, I was always a zealous person. I’m not sure if it was something in my nature, or the result of the time and place I grew up.

The first time I remember feeling a fanatical devotion to something(someone in this case) was when I was twelve. I was in love, or so I thought, with this beautiful girl who lived just a short ways away. We dated for three months before her mother caught us kissing and her father forced us to break up. I would leave roses on her front porch and her father would throw them away. I was determined to get her back, even though she said her father wouldn’t let her date until she was sixteen. I would count the days in my school calendar. Later, I received a tip from her friend pointing me to her live journal. There I found two entries where she detailed how much she disliked me, was never interested beyond a mere crush, and how she had found a new guy. (I printed it out at the time and I still have that worn old piece of paper in a fireproof lockbox, along with other sentimental things)

It was around this same time that I discovered evangelical Christianity. A friend from school was a born-again Christian and he taught me how to pray/mediate. I remember going to special church classes and watching videos that detailed the evils of psychics and ouija boards. My parents, a moderate methodist and an apathetic non-practicing Jew, didn’t see much harm in it; though they were slightly annoyed when I used all my mom’s garlic powder to seal the doors and windows on Halloween in order to keep evil spirits out. The odd thing was that my new found religious faith never really transfered over to politics. I was 12-13 and too busy playing video games and sneaking onto porn sites to pay much attention to politics. I remember standing in my parent’s bedroom late at night watching the 2000 election. I was rooting for George W. Bush, though in the same manner one arbitrarily roots for a sports team in a game you don’t overly care about.

My Zealotry really took off after I met my first actual love. She was witty, intelligent, beautiful, and one of those liberals I had loosely heard about. I have a vague memory of us leaving the mall in her mom’s car at night, and us having some deep political conversation where she converted me to liberalism. According to my memory, which very well may be a complete and unconscious fabrication, she was very proud of herself for convincing me, but warned me saying something like “Careful, there is non more zealous than a convert.” That poorly lit memory has stayed with me all these years.

It was at this time that the focus of my passion was shifting from Christianity to politics. High-school opened me up to new people, new ideas, and I no longer considered myself an evangelical Christian, but some amalgamation of Christianity, Buddhism, and my own spirituality. The city I grew up in was fairly large for Virginia, about a quarter million people. Nonetheless the area I grew up in was very conservative. Throughout high-school I became increasingly politically active as I became ever more aware of just how much in the minority I was. I would print out long political messages on entire sheets of paper and tape them to the back of my car. I started volunteering my weekends at political campaigns, making phone calls, updating data bases, and going door to door. I even went to an anti-war protest with the afore mentioned beautiful girl. I was perhaps most active in yard sign wars.

During election season I would sneak out early in the morning, with my car full of yard signs, and place them at strategic locations I had scoped out the day before. I often did this while blasting Green Day on the stereo. It gave me a huge rush to do this in a very conservative area. I guess I became addicted to that rush. One time I spent over an hour placing about 100 signs early in the morning, only to discover them ALL stolen a few hours later when I drove to school. I was so furious, I couldn’t concentrate at all that day. I then started a tic-for-tat retribution campaign. I kept track of my signs, and stole one in retribution every time one of mine went missing. I even got a large poster, wrote my tic-for-tat war policy on it, placed it at a major intersection where several signs had gone missing, and signed it “The Democrat”. Later I got a phone call from a friend who had watched as someone stopped, got out of their car, and destroyed my sign before his very eyes.

That election season, I think it was 2004 and the second presidential election with Bush, was particularly bad. Not only were my signs constantly stolen, but even the signs on my car were stolen or vandalized. I was even run off the road one night because of a yard sign I had taped to the back of my car. I was shaking, even though I felt the rush. The majority of my teenage years were spent under a heavy siege mentality. This in turn just spurred on my zealotry. I felt like an animal trapped in a corner, and I was determined not to go down without a fight. Sometimes in class I would daydream of setting up a democrat paramilitary fast response team, should civil war break out. I fantasized about us roping in from helicopters or speeding to the rescue on motorcycles, protecting civilians from the conflict. I would even design the patch emblems for our uniforms in the margins of my school work.

During the election seasons I became an avid news junkie. I would turn on CNN any chance I got. Sometimes I’d even watch C-SPAN (a channel that broadcasts the live, and rather bland, proceedings within congress). There was one show on CNN in particular that really struck me: Crossfire. I was amazed at how these political pundits could cite names, dates, statistics, etc from memory. I REALLY wanted to be able to do that. At the same time I was taking Advanced Placement Government in high school and we’d often debate in class. This being the day before smart phones and instant internet access, I sat down one night and spent several hours building a “Battle Binder.” In this 1 inch D-ring binder I created sections for every major issue of the day, along with every relevant name, date, statistic, and talking points. I even included common arguments and refutations. It weighed a ton, but I carried it around with me everywhere I went. I dared other kids to debate with me. Some foolishly did, stating their view on some position, citing some anecdotal evidence about what they heard their dad say, and then I would pull out my battle binder and crush them. They couldn’t compete when I could instantly produce full color charts, timelines of legislation, relevant court cases, you name it. Eventually the other kids stopped talking to me about politics. (I still have that binder in the attic)

2006 was when everything shattered. It was an election year for congress, and I fought hard to get democrats elected. Bush had won a second term, the two wars were starting to drag on with no end in site, and we were starting to learn of the warrant-less wiretaps, secret detention centers, and torture. Well democrats one big that year, I was so elated. They took control of congress and I thought “Now! Now that the good guys are in charge, we can finally stop Bush! We can even impeach him for his war crimes!”

And then nothing changed. Nothing.

This was my first taste of betrayal, and boy was it a spoonful. Here I was, a zealous supporter of the party, willing to fight and die if need be, and I was betrayed by my leaders who promptly caved to every republican demand. It was like being thrown into a pool of icy cold water. I became intensely cynical and bitter. Almost five years later and I still am, though the edge has worn off.

My passion, what was left of it, needed a new seemingly hopeless cause to fight for. By now I had developed a strong love for the underdog. I believed that democrats were the underdog, and worthy of fighting for, but with them in power and ceding everything to the conservatives, that was gone. I needed a new underdog, something with deeper meaning than just political parties.

Enter atheism.

It was my freshman year of college and I was exposed to more world-views than at any other point in my life. It was also the first time I had ever heard of an atheist, or met one for that matter. In fact, I met two. One was a history professor, the other was a friend of a girl I had a crush on. Though I was a wishy-washy feel good spiritualist at the time, I took their advice and began investigating atheism on my own. One of the first people I ran into was Richard Dawkins and his book “The God Delusion”. The arguments really resonated with me and his passion spoke to something crestfallen within me. To add to that, you’d be hard pressed to find anything more underdog-ish than atheism. We’re the extreme minority, despised and distrusted by the vast majority of the world. Atheism is hopelessly outnumbered, and there is something deeply attractive in that.

So my passion was rekindled, though tempered by my experiences. While watching that film tonight, I could see a lot of my pre-2006 self in those RAF members. Naive, hopelessly idealistic, reckless, zealots. The whole time I could not help but notice the extreme contrast between how beautiful, sexual, and vibrant they were, and how violent, disgusting, and shocking their actions were. The way the film was shot, I knew we were supposed to at least partially be on their side, but I could not bring myself to support them. Through the use of violence, you watch them transform into the monsters they set out to fight. As good as it might feel to shoot back, you lose the moral high ground when you do, and that is imperative when winning a war of ideas.

My zealotry has been tempered, and that includes my teenage fantasies about fighting. This is especially true when it comes to atheism. Atheists pride themselves on not doing the dumb shit religious people do to each other. No setting off car bombs in cafes, no flying planes into buildings, no shooting doctors, no assassinations, no gang style shootouts. While I still sometimes fantasize of an Illuminati style atheist resistance, violence would be off-limits. I’d sooner shoot my own squad member then let them carry out some act of violence against our rivals. Not only would it only make them martyrs and stronger, but it would sacrifice our moral high ground.

So as a terse conclusion to this abnormally verbose post: It’s interesting for me to think back about how I was in my teenage years. Was I alone in feeling like this? Did other people go through a similar zealous phase? If you did, what made you change? Or is it ongoing? Was this passion and need for a cause some how inherent in me, or a product of the environment in which I grew up?

Islam is a religion, not a race.

15 Oct

One of the most dangerous notions threatening free speech today is the notion that Islam is not just a religion, but a race. I call bullshit. I call it big time. Just last month six people in the UK were arrested for burning a Koran. Why? “Inciting racial hatred.” Just the other day in France, another person was also arrested for destroying a Koran. Why? “Inciting racial hatred.”

Let’s not fool ourselves. The Muslims that called the police on these men were insulted; their poor little feelings were hurt. Normally, in Islamic countries, they could march down to the offending person’s house as an angry mob, drag him into the street, and stone him to death for blasphemy. Unfortunately western countries are not as forward thinking as Islamic countries, and blasphemy is not a crime because of a little something called free speech.

So what is a poor Muslim to do? Their feelings were hurt! Justice must be done! I know! After that whole WWII thing, Europe’s been super sensitive about race! Jews are a race and religion, so let’s claim to be a race like them!

Presto, there you have it. The Muslims have figured out how to exploit race laws in order to enforce their draconian views on free speech and blasphemy. The sad thing is that this wouldn’t work if the people and politicians of Europe had the balls to call bullshit. Unfortunately they’re too afraid of being attacked by angry mobs burning things, since that’s apparently what happens when a cartoonist, an author, or some bloke with a camera says anything remotely disrespectful of their religion of peace.

You know what a Muslim looks like? Here are a few pictures of Muslims:

May 20th, Draw Muhammad

20 May

May 2oth is Draw Muhammad Day! Will you stand up and exercise your freedom of speech? Or will you cower in the shadows and allow barbaric fanatics to take away you inalienable rights? Do you have the courage to do what is right?

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