Thursday, June 27, 2013

Catching up ...

Been on something of a hiatus, lately.  Being on travel has meant I really couldn't post much.  It's not over yet, but I figured I'd throw out some thoughts on a variety of topics and see what happens.

Paula Deen

If you've followed my writings, you know I'm neither a racist nor afraid to use politically incorrect words.  Words are just words - they can only offend you if you choose to be offended by them.  "Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me!"

Paula Deen has admitted to using the word "nigger" - and is being vilified for it.  Perhaps she is a racist - I don't know her so I can't say for sure one way or another.  But using the word "nigger" is not direct evidence of Paula Deen being a racist.  What is distinctly racist, however, is the blatant discrimination associated with the notion that "African-Americans" can call one another niggers, but European-Americans can't use the word.  A racist is someone who believes (a) the notion of race has biological significance (I don't), and (b) one race is superior to all others (invariably, the race of the racist), and acts upon that belief by discriminating against those of other races, up to and including perpetrating violence on them.  Racism is manifested by deeds, not by words!  If Paula Deen has done things to demonstrate that she's a racist, then the criticism of her is justified.  If not, then she doesn't deserve the label.


In this secular nation, our Constitution was framed carefully to prevent tyranny by the majority.  The christian majority in this nation has been working ceaselessly for many decades now to undermine those freedoms and to impose their beliefs and practices on all Americans. Yet they whine constantly about being persecuted!  Many christians demand respect for their religion but they bombard all Americans with messages of condescension and disrespect for any other belief, and especially for the absence of belief (atheism).  They push their particular beliefs on everyone, professing love for their fellow humans while at the same time condemning them for non-belief in the tenets of christianity.

If christians demand respect for their religion, then it's hypocritical of them not to offer equal respect for the beliefs and non-beliefs of non-christians.  As fellow Americans, christians share their Constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms with every other American, including non-believers.  I honor those rights and will fight for them, but I have no obligation to respect their beliefs.  If you know someone who believes in flying saucers, alien abductions, bigfoot, a flat Earth, an Earth-centered Universe, an Earth that is only 6000 years old, that humans and dinosaurs co-existed, the divinity of royalty, etc., are you obligated to respect those beliefs?  I think not!  I respect their right to have those beliefs but the beliefs, per se, aren't worthy of my respect in any way.  I see christianity as irrational and even dangerous - the "God Virus" disables critical thinking (at least about spiritual topics, where logic and evidence are superceded by faith) and enables otherwise rational people to embrace irrationality.  In today's world, irrationality is potentially a threat to us all.

Reactions to the 2013 Oklahoma tornadoes

This topic might deserve an entire blog post on its own, but - here's a short version of what I think.  The idea that purpose-built shelters should be made mandatory in schools is inappropriate.  What might be more practical and much less expensive than mandating purpose-built tornado shelters in schools would be to have some knowledgeable people review every school's tornado plans and make changes where necessary, perhaps occasionally recommending the construction of shelters if nothing adequate can be developed from the existing structure(s).  I'd like to see building codes in the tornado-prone parts of the US enhanced to the same standards in place in hurricane-prone coastal areas.  And I want the media broadcasters held accountable for what they say to the public in tornado situations.  They're a key component of the integrated warning system, but they're not infallible weather deities and need to reign in their desire for ratings in order to perform their obligations to the public in a responsible way.  A key example is the manifestly false statement that "You need to be below ground to survive this tornado!"