Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Great response to my whiny-ness

So, I posted this as a status update; "Just went and saw District 9. It's great! And depressing. I asked Paige if it made her lose faith in human beings as a species. She said no, it just reinforced her already low opinion. I love my wife."

One of the responses from a former student was; "I saw it and thought it was a really good movie! =] and i did loose some faith in humans, but i was very surprised to see that we didnt just kill them all, so from that i got a smidge back.."

So then I launched into this depressing tirade: "Yeah, I guess there's something to the qualifier "We're not all bad, just the most powerful/wealthy of us" that makes me feel a bond with my fellow (poor/powerless) man while not inspiring much hope for us as a species. After all, if we've set up a system that rewards the greediest and most ruthless among us with more money and power, we're really all to blame for what they do, right? I don't know, I've just been in a very anti-institution mood lately, and I feel like our need for safety, order, and stability drives us all into the clutches of the people who can take the maximum advantage of the worst aspects of the status quo. Whether it's weapons manufacturers trying to take advantage of aliens in a movie, or insurance companies and rich people trying to scare middle class people out of better health care in real life, it's the same impulse that pushes us to allow ourselves to be abused, right?"

And how great was her response? And I quote, in its entirety: "sure! =]"

Is there a better way to respond to a cranky old man? Perfect!

On that note, let me share this post from the blog "News From Hell" on the T-Shirt Hell website. Rather than a link, I'll just post it all here, because I don't want anyone to feel tempted to click on the comments section on the page and see the horrid, hateful, racist, painfully idiotic responses this got. Just enjoy the pick-me-up it provides:

"Please Tase Them Bro

In the past few weeks there has been a rash of protesters disrupting town-hall meetings with angry outbursts critical of proposed health care reform. Many claim these outbursts stifle intelligent debate while others say they are merely giving voice to a neglected segment of the population. But more important than either of these points is that these outbursts are highly entertaining. Below are some of the "greatest hits" of these outbursts.

West Virginia - Tuesday, August 4

President Obama: The thing we must consider is the cost of inac-

Crazy Lady #1: What da gub'ment gon' do 'bout my kids! [pause for response] I wanna know what da gub'ment gon' do 'bout my kids! I got all these damn kids... I don't believe in no birth control and my husband likes ta get drunk and fuck. That's why I got all these kids! What you gon' do 'bout that! I can't be watchin' 'em all da got-damn time. Gub'ment need ta help my kids! I pay my taxes!

Idaho - Friday, July 31

Nancy Pelosi: We understand times are hard, but to turn things around some sacrifi-


NP: Uh... I don't know to what exactly you're referring, but obviously tax dollars are used for funding. That just goes hand-in-hand with living in a democra-

CL2: DON'T FUCKING LIE TO ME! This guy on the TV was like "They want to take your money!" He wasn't too clear about who "they" were, or how they would take my money or how much they were taking or what they were taking it for, but he was, like, really mad - all red-faced and struggling to breath. It scared me to the point where I'd do any crazy fucking thing he told me to. That's why I'm here yelling at you about whatever it is you're talking about. I pay my taxes!

Utah - Thursday, August 6

Rahm Emanuel: If we don't act now it may we may very well lose this opportunity forev-


South Carolina - Monday, August 10

Hillary Clinton: This isn't going to be fixed overnight. This is going to require years of dedica-

Crazy Lady #3: I deliver unto you a message from your Lord and Savior, Werewolf-Jesus! He sayeth unto me, by way of the tape recorder I found under my dead daughter, that you shouldeth leave health care to big business. And all females are to cut their uteruses out and sew them together to form one super-gina that will produce all of America's babies. You should also crossbreed your poop with falcons, so your poop can fly and you won't need a toilet. I pay my taxes!

Alabama - Friday, August 14

Joe Biden: [Approaches podium]

Crazy Guy #2: [Reaches down back of pants and flings stool at Biden. Throws female journalist to ground and humps her left boob. Throws himself to ground and does that thing Curly did where he walks sideways in a circle on the ground while going "Woo woo woo." Pulls out a hatchet, cuts off his own foot and starts eating it. Suddenly stops and takes a seat] I actually forget to file last year."

Okay, now admit it. How far into that did you get before you realized none of those were real? Isn't that telling? See, human beings aren't terribly evil. They're just hilariously stupid. Does that make me feel better somehow?

"sure! =]"

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Channeling my Cynicism

I am losing hope in this attempt at health care reform.

No, that's an understatement. As a consequence of this health care reform effort, I am losing faith in the ability of an informed electorate to make educated and wise decisions.

Nope, that's an overstatement. I'm losing faith in a craven and selfish electorate's ability to make decisions that are in their self-interest.

No, maybe that's too generous. I'm starting to believe the majority of Americans prefer lies to facts and actively participate in maintaining their own ignorance.

Anyway, this pretty much sums up where I think we're at right now in this debate:

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Justifying and Updating My List

Yesterday I posted my official list of lies that would end a conversation. I almost immediately received a reply, via Facebook, from one of the people who'd repeated some of the lies that so infuriate me (not, as she suspected, the wacko I'd referred to in the post, but that's neither here nor there.) She essentially said we all have our own beliefs and she believes me to be ignorant for not recognizing her truths, and took me to task for "bashing" people who hold the kinds of beliefs included in yesterday's list.

Unfortunately, in this case, "let's agree to disagree" is not an acceptable option, and I told her so. As I tried to explain to her, we can't just say "you have your truth and I have mine" and call it good. If a person says the Sun revolves around the Earth, or the sky is not blue but pink with purple polka-dots, we don't agree to disagree. And those things aren't even offensive. When someone says things about another person which are patently, demonstrably untrue and refuses to accept any evidence to the contrary, that's wrong. I told her, "What if I accused you of something horrible and then, when you gave me every bit of proof in the world that this was untrue, I said, 'Well, you can think what you like, but I trust what I read in my Bible, so you are a X, Y, or Z.' You would have every right to say I was ignorant, and if you had any power over me you would be right to call my ignorance dangerous. When people who can vote hold opinions which are simply not factual (i.e. Hillary Clinton wants to make peace with Iran, or President Obama is anti-white) these beliefs are not only inaccurate, but dangerously so, and if it's offensive to say so, then we find ourselves in a situation where people with dangerous, erroneous beliefs have the power to hurt all of us, and we can't call them on it. Perhaps this makes me guilty of "bashing", but people who are willing to believe demonstrably untrue things, and who provide no evidence for their claims or even feel the need to support those claims with facts, are capable of doing far worse than 'bashing'. Your feelings about Obama are fine; they're feelings. But don't make false statements about him; that's bearing false witness, which is breaking one of the Ten Commandments. I'm sorry I hurt your feelings. Please understand that when you write things that are demonstrably untrue, you hurt my feelings, and, by perpetuating lies, you do something a lot worse."

Along those lines, here are the new additions to the list I've received (thanks, Marla!), remembered, or encountered today:

23. All Muslims are radical extremists/ terrorists who wish only for death to America.

24. The Quran says "death to the infidels" which means Americans in code language.

25. People can be "turned" gay or straight.

26. Illegal immigrants come to the U.S. to collect welfare.

27. The American health care system is the best in the world.

28. The Confederate States were the victims of Northern aggression and had a right to have an economy based on slavery.

29. The Founding Fathers were Christians and the U.S. is officially a Christian country.

30. The official language of the United States is English.

I'm still on the look out for more additions to this list of insidious and unsupportable lies, so keep 'em coming!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

My List

After another frustrating online conversation wherein I allowed myself to roped into a debate with a person who turned out to be a complete wacko, I've come up with an invention that I think might save me a lot of time and trouble in the future. This is just my first crack at it, but I'd like to post a list of specific lies which, if believed by the person with whom I'm conversing, officially shut down the conversation. Now I can simply say, "Wha? Nope, sorry, that one's on my list." Then I'll add a link to this post and be done with them. Nut-jobs can then find their misinformation on the list, and read the rules about how they should respond below.

So, here's the list as it currently stands, in no particular order:

1. The moon landing was a hoax.

2. Global warming is not a man-made phenomenon.

3. President Obama is not a natural born citizen.

4. President Obama is a socialist/ ultra-leftist.

5. President Obama is a terrorist/ terrorist sympathizer.

6. Saddam Hussein was involved with the attacks of September 11th.

7. The Earth is six thousand years old.

8. The Bible is entirely consistent and inerrant, requiring no interpretation whatsoever.

9. God favors America over other countries and Americans over foreigners.

10. Fox News is a legitimate source of objective journalism.

11. The holocaust didn't happen.

12. Human beings are not the product of any evolutionary process.

13. The Republican Party is consistently the party of fiscal responsibility.

14. The Republican Party is consistently the party of moral/ family values.

15. People from rural areas are inherently more moral than people from cities.

16. Cities are inherently dangerous/ more crime ridden than small towns/ rural areas.

17. People who are pro-choice want abortions to be more common/ numerous.

18. Gay marriage would diminish the value of heterosexual marriage.

19. Homosexuality is a choice of a perverse/ hedonistic lifestyle.

20. There is no more racism in America.

21. White people suffer regularly from reverse-racism.

22. Feminists all believe women are superior to men and should be in power over them.

23. All Muslims are radical extremists/ terrorists who wish only for death to America. (added 8/02/09)

24. The Quran says "death to the infidels" which means Americans in code language. (added 8/02/09)

25. People can be "turned" gay or straight. (added 8/02/09)

26. Illegal immigrants come to the U.S. to collect welfare. (added 8/02/09)

27. The American health care system is the best in the world. (added 8/02/09)

28. The Confederate States were the victims of Northern aggression and had a right to have an economy based on slavery. (added 8/02/09)

29. The Founding Fathers were Christians and the U.S. is officially a Christian country. (added 8/02/09)

30. The official language of the United States is English. (added 8/02/09)

I expect that I will have to add to this list, perhaps frequently, as I come across more of these lies and expressions of ignorance. As I do so, I'll date them. I'm also accepting recommendations for more items to add to the list.

Now, there are certainly beliefs which I disagree with, which bother me, and which may even offend me deeply, but which would not be included. I'm limiting this list to the kinds of beliefs which are simply not grounded in any evidence, which are demonstrably untrue, and/or which shut down any possibility of further civil debate.

Because the fact is, even when someone voices one of these beliefs, I try to be civil and explain why I disagree. I find evidence to disprove these ridiculous claims. And people who hold these beliefs, in every case, simply deny the evidence or refuse to acknowledge the sources I provide.

Now, so that we're clear, here's what I want from someone who violates the prohibition against stating claims on the above list to me or around me:

1. The First Amendment grants you the right to free speech. I don't. Stop talking to me, writing to me, irritating me, and generally wasting my time.

2. If you cannot abide by rule #1, the onus is on you to support your claim with, if not proof, at least enough evidence that the item on the list is called into legitimate question, at which point I will remove it and a genuine, rational debate can begin.

3. If you are incapable of providing the evidence mentioned in rule #2, but continue to espouse these beliefs, or even hold them privately, you will forgive me for thinking you are, at best, a naive, overly-credulous, ignorant person, and at worst a dangerous idiot. Furthermore, you heretofore acknowledge that rational people, who believe that truth claims should be supported by evidence, are intellectually consistent and correct to think of you as such.