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If we are all over regulating women’s bodies, I’m thinking guns should not be a frakking problem.

 

What if gun rights were regulated like abortion rights? Here’s a list of just some of the hoops you’d have to jump through before you could own a gun:

  • Only one store in the entire state would sell guns. (See: Mississippi, Arkansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming for states with only one abortion provider.)
  • You’d have to fill out an enormous personal background check including intrusive personal information that has nothing to do with your ability to own or use a gun. Then you’d have to wait at least 72 hours and come back to the store. (Remember, it’s the only one in the state. You better hope you don’t live on the other side of Wyoming.)
  • Upon your return, you’d have to sit through intensive mandatory counseling. Your counselor, regardless of his personal beliefs, would have to tell you that gun ownership is actually a bad idea, and that it would negatively effect your mental health to own a gun. (This, despite there being no scientific evidence to support the claim.)
  • Next, you’d sit through a gruesome movie showing the actual aftermath of domestic gun crimes. You’d see people with half a head. You’d see dead children in their beds. You’d see the bloody aftermath of a school shooting. You’d be shown statistic after statistic warning you that you’d be contributing to this morally degenerate sanctioning of murder.
  • If you lived in Virginia, you’d have to come back (again) for an invasive and uncomfortable fMRI (which costs around $300 out of your pocket) to ensure your honesty in answering all the background check information and your intentions to use your gun responsibly. (This was as close as I could get to the invasive transvaginal procedure included in the recently passed Virginia bill.)
  • Oh… and if you were married, your spouse might have to sign off on your gun ownership.

 

   You would think someone spiked the punch in the US Congress  – they recently signed into a law (pending presidential approval) that would allow anyone (citizens at home and abroad) to be held indefinitely until war like conditions are over.

“Provisions in the bill codify an approach that allows for endless detention of US citizens and non-citizens picked up anywhere in the world. They also gives the US military the option to detain US citizens suspected of participating or aiding in terrorist activities without a trial, indefinitely.

A person can be detained “under the law of war without trial until the end of the hostilities”, the bill states. The hostility in question here is the “war on terror”, and at the moment, it seems to have no end.”

My first response was, are you frakking kidding me?  But no, the madness is in the Senate now.

“Indeed, the chief argument against codifying these provisions and giving the military a role in domestic terrorist investigation is that the system works just fine as it is.

“You can’t find any national security experts in favour of these provisions,” said Heather Hulburt, executive director of the National Security Network, a non-profit foreign policy organisation with a focus on national security.

The list of those against the provisions reads like and institutional who’s who of national security – FBI Director Robert Mueller, CIA Director David Petraeus, Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta and dozens of senior White House counterterrorism officials, retired generals and retired interrogators have all come out strongly against allowing the US military to police US streets and detain US citizens – possibly overseas – without trial or access to their countries’ legal system.

John Brennan, the White House senior counterterrorism adviser told a US radio show that he believes the provisions are unnecessary and that “a very strong established track record of dealing successfully with individuals here in the United States who are involved in terrorism-related activities”.

Expert opinion is not what it used to be, but the list of people who work in the business saying that this bill is two fruit loops past crazy is impressive.  I’m thinking that if the CIA and the FBI are saying “do not want” maybe congress should listen to their opinion.

“The bill defines the world – the entire world – as a war zone, meaning that anyone can be detained anywhere in the world and they can be said to be on the battlefield of the “war on terror”.

Was it me or did I just here the imperial march start playing…?  The US routinely criticizes other regimes for doing exactly what this bill proposes; the irony is crippling.

“Take the case of Sarah Shourd, Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, known to many as simply “the American hikers” during their detention in Iran, where the government accused them of being spies and sentenced them without trial. Shourd was held for more than a year, while Fattal and Bauer waited for two years before they were tried, convicted and ultimately freed.

The rallying cry to release them was strong, if not necessarily sustained. There was even a US Senate resolution, co-sponsored by two Minnesota senators – Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, both Democrats, urging Iran to free the three prisoners.

“The fact that these three innocent Americans have been unjustly detained for over a year is incomprehensible,” said Franken at the passage of the resolution in August 2010.

“The Iranian government needs to release Shane, Sarah and Josh immediately so that that they can be reunited with their families and start putting their lives back together.”

Franken and Klobuchar both voted in favour of the NDAA.

Given the way the US typically lambastes states it feels violating fundamental rights by detaining people without end or trial, it seems odd that it seems to going in that direction.

Between increasing troop levels within the US (roughly 20,000 to be deployed internally) and then giving them the option to pull US citizens off the streets and send them Guantanamo Bay indefinitely, the provisions in the NDAA take a page out of the playbooks of governments they routinely criticise.

“This flies in the face of fundamental rights, the constitution and recent US history,” said Manatri, referring to the 2001 attacks.

“In some ways, we’re less thoughtful, we’re less reflective, we’re less concerned with protecting individual rights now than we were 10 years ago. Were any other country to apply the terms of this bill to the US or its allies, the US would be the first to complain.”

The steady march toward authoritarian rule seems to be going unnoticed in the US.  The damage wrought by fear and ignorance seems to have no bounds.

 

The Swiss, being sensible, have denied the US and France’s requests to shut down WikiLeaks.

“The site’s new Swiss registrar, Switch, today said there was “no reason” why it should be forced offline, despite demands from France and the US. Switch is a non-profit registrar set up by the Swiss government for all 1.5 million Swiss .ch domain names.”

Pretty embarrassing, but hardly surprising, when the “land of the free and home of the brave” do their utmost to destroy the very lifeblood democracies thrive on, namely information.  Hey of course, it is ‘sensitive state information’.   You can find it on google now, perhaps like other state apparatus google should be censored as well.  Back in the ‘home of the brave’ the censorship is not so obvious:

“The reassurances [from the Swiss] come just hours after eBay-owned PayPal, the primary donation channel to WikiLeaks, terminated its links with the site, citing “illegal activity”. France yesterday added to US calls for all companies and organisations to terminate their relationship with WikiLeaks following the release of 250,000 secret US diplomatic cables.”

Of course, you target the infrastructure that keeps WikiLeaks afloat.  The Americans, let their poor die in natural disasters (Katrina anyone?), but watch the organization and money being spent when an attack on the elite happens.  The response to Wikileaks is a case study in who has the power in the US and who is really driving that national agenda.

It makes one wonder, with all the furor, what is still classified and quietly festering in the background on a hard drive somewhere of actions that our governments take in our name.

The George Orwell quotations are being dusted off again and rightfully so – consider…

“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give the appearance of solidity to pure wind.”

This quote prefaces the video, also released on WikiLeaks, of the American Army gunning down men and children while in Iraq.  Does anyone, anymore have the gall anymore to say “why do they hate us?”

 

If there is one general feature of North American psyche that does not appeal to me, it would be our inability to see how privileged we are, and the small things we take for granted that other people are fighting for right now.  Take Lebanon a state riddled with sectarian violence and all the divisiveness that comes with running a country on religious principles.  Al Jazeera reports:

“Thousands of protestors have gathered in Beirut to demand a separation of politics and religion in Lebanon.

The demonstrators marched on parliament on Sunday chanting “secularism” and waving placards calling for the recognition of civil marriage in the Mediterranean country.”

Wow.  A secular state not ruled by the wisdom of 2000 year old magic books and the delusional rantings of assorted high priests and mullahs.  We take it for granted that we can keep the tomfoolery out of state affairs and run a marginally rational state and by that extension a marginally rational society.

“The idea of a secular political system has faced stiff opposition from ruling politicians who fear an erosion of power if the complex power sharing system between the different religious communities is abandoned.

Power.  Control.  Influence.  Make no mistake, religion rules by no heavenly mandate; only the lowly aspirations of pernicious, greedy men who value power over any so called ‘ethical’ pronouncements their assorted magic books may make.

“What is missing is the political support. In the last election in 2009, all the main political parties paid lip service to the sectarian system,” Elias Muhanna, a Boston-based political analyst and blogger, told Al Jazeera.”

The Lebanese people are rallying for a secular nation.  This should be front page news here in the North America where we purport to hold the institutions of Liberal Democracy and personal freedom so dear to our collective identity as a nation.  Of course the religious nuttery of  the USA precludes covering any movement so clearly geared toward freeing a country from religious rule.  Depending on the news cycle it can look like the US is regressing toward some flavour of a theocratic state, where delusional behaviour is openly celebrated.

“Lebanon is home to 18 religious sects, and is deeply divided between Christians and Muslims.

Its sectarian system was soldified in a 1943 national accord in a bid to avoid religious conflict, but the country was torn apart by a brutal 15 year civil war that started in 1975.

The agreement that ended the conflict called for the abolition of sectarianism, but the system has endured.

Under the complicated rules, public sector jobs are subject to religious quotas that change year-on-year in a bid to maintain the delicate balance.”

Such a waste of time and resources all just to keep the people who wear funny hats and irrational attitudes happy and in check.

North Americans should take notice and see what a religious state is like and realize it is not a good outcome if we are interested in maintaining the liberal democratic society which we seem to regularly take pride in while at the same neglecting the institutions that maintain it.

One of my first posts was about the silly legislation that was going to codify the insipid notion of blasphemy.  Well it happened and an Irish Atheist group is fighting back.

They have set out 25 statements that contravene the law and here they are:

“If you run a website, blog or other media publication, please feel free to republish this statement and the list of quotes yourself, in order to show your support for the campaign to repeal the Irish blasphemy law and to promote a rational, ethical, secular Ireland.”

List of 25 Blasphemous Quotes Published by Atheist Ireland

1. Jesus Christ, when asked if he was the son of God, in Matthew 26:64: “Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” According to the Christian Bible, the Jewish chief priests and elders and council deemed this statement by Jesus to be blasphemous, and they sentenced Jesus to death for saying it.

2. Jesus Christ, talking to Jews about their God, in John 8:44: “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him.” This is one of several chapters in the Christian Bible that can give a scriptural foundation to Christian anti-Semitism. The first part of John 8, the story of “whoever is without sin cast the first stone”, was not in the original version, but was added centuries later. The original John 8 is a debate between Jesus and some Jews. In brief, Jesus calls the Jews who disbelieve him sons of the Devil, the Jews try to stone him, and Jesus runs away and hides.

3. Muhammad, quoted in Hadith of Bukhari, Vol 1 Book 8 Hadith 427: “May Allah curse the Jews and Christians for they built the places of worship at the graves of their prophets.” This quote is attributed to Muhammad on his death-bed as a warning to Muslims not to copy this practice of the Jews and Christians. It is one of several passages in the Koran and in Hadith that can give a scriptural foundation to Islamic anti-Semitism, including the assertion in Sura 5:60 that Allah cursed Jews and turned some of them into apes and swine.

4. Mark Twain, describing the Christian Bible in Letters from the Earth, 1909: “Also it has another name – The Word of God. For the Christian thinks every word of it was dictated by God. It is full of interest. It has noble poetry in it; and some clever fables; and some blood-drenched history; and some good morals; and a wealth of obscenity; and upwards of a thousand lies… But you notice that when the Lord God of Heaven and Earth, adored Father of Man, goes to war, there is no limit. He is totally without mercy – he, who is called the Fountain of Mercy. He slays, slays, slays! All the men, all the beasts, all the boys, all the babies; also all the women and all the girls, except those that have not been deflowered. He makes no distinction between innocent and guilty… What the insane Father required was blood and misery; he was indifferent as to who furnished it.” Twain’s book was published posthumously in 1939. His daughter, Clara Clemens, at first objected to it being published, but later changed her mind in 1960 when she believed that public opinion had grown more tolerant of the expression of such ideas. That was half a century before Fianna Fail and the Green Party imposed a new blasphemy law on the people of Ireland.

5. Tom Lehrer, The Vatican Rag, 1963: “Get in line in that processional, step into that small confessional. There, the guy who’s got religion’ll tell you if your sin’s original. If it is, try playing it safer, drink the wine and chew the wafer. Two, four, six, eight, time to transubstantiate!”

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clipped from the CBC

Irish law makes it illegal to speak blasphemy

A reveler holds an Irish flag while attending the St. Patrick's Day Parade Tuesday, March 17, 2009 in New York. St. Patrick's Day revelers took a break from worries about the global economy to enjoy a day of shamrock-themed frivolity, dyeing city fountains green, taking icy ocean plunges and crowding sidewalks along parade routes to see and be seen.
A blasphemous slip of the tongue could cost you 25,000 euros under revamped legislation that will soon be signed into law.
In recent years, western countries such as England have been taking blasphemy laws off the books, or changing their focus so that they cover hate-related crimes in general. Ireland has taken a different approach, updating its legislation but maintaining a focus on religion.

  • He or she publishes or utters matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion.
  • He or she intends, by the publication or utterance of the matter concerned, to cause such outrage.
  • The bill puts the onus on a defendant to prove that a reasonable person would find genuine literary, artistic, political, scientific, or academic value in the matter to which the offence relates.
    Can you even fathom the stupid coming out of Ireland these days? The pious seem to have hijacked rationality, sprinkled it with magic jebus dust and cranked out this perfidious little gem of proposed legislation.
    What is outrageous is the lengths so called rational legislators go to ‘make happy’ with the delusional segments of their constituencies.

    There is a prevailing view within the “progressive” community that religious tolerance (RT) is a virtue necessary for a just, egalitarian society.  This is preposterous.  Not only does RT have horrific implications, it is an “ideal” that I seriously doubt is actually held by its proponents.  To begin with, lets take a look at what its advocates would like you to think RT means. RT means people are allowed to have whatever faith they want without fear of prosecution, persecution, or any other undesirable ‘ution’ and thus, RT would result in less hate crimes, violence, and a whole bunch of other nasty stuff we would rather be without.tolerance

    The very first thing I’d like to point out is that all that nasty stuff that RT proponents say they’re trying to reduce can be dealt with much more efficiently.  Instead of saying, “You’re not allowed to lynch someone or burn down their house just because they hold to a faith that differs from yours,” it would be much better to simply say, “You’re not allowed to lynch someone or burn down their house at all, for any reason”.  The former of these maxims can be interpreted to mean that there are some circumstances which would allow one to lynch another, its just that differences in faith isn’t one of them.  The second, however, makes things pretty clear.  So this first short bit is just to show that basic protection laws make the common perception of RT irrelevant; if not a markedly inferior approach and a step in the wrong direction.  That is just examining the possible benefits of RT. Let us analyze the completely ignored and adverse ramifications of RT.

    RT would be a restriction on society, but not on individuals.  This is very different from other egalitarian movements and why RT is dangerous.  For example, tolerance of alternative sexual orientations is a two way street.  Simply speaking, straight people are OK with gay people and gay people are OK with straight people.   If it was only a one way street, then the ideal of the freedom to be with the consenting adult of your choice, regardless of their physiology, would be undermined.

    RT, however, can only be one way.  The community must accommodate the beliefs of the individual, but not the other way around.  If one is allowed to adhere to any faith one wants to (as RT says one is) then if someones faith does not include RT, then that feature must be allowed and respected as well.  Because RT is presented as a freedom of beliefs/values, and RT is itself a belief/value, proponents of RT cannot enforce RT on anyone without going back on the basic principles of RT.

    So lets look at three people, each with very different faiths…

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