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I Find Freedom To Be Offensive!

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My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular.
Adlai E. Stevenson Jr., Speech in Detroit, 7 Oct. 1952
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[Y]our mother was a hamster & your father smelt of elderberrys!
Monty Python & The Holy Grail
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Does freedom offend you as it does me? Lets hope so. After all, if you live in this society, you are likely offended each and every day.

Maybe it was the guy in the car next to you blasting acid rock music to everyone within a 20 block radius. Perhaps it was some religious kook who tried to hand you some kind of religious pamphlet on the street.

One way or another, all those losers have chosen to inconvenience you in some way. They want to sell you something or show you something or disagree with you on something, or any one of a million “somethings” that suits them and annoys you. Who are they, losers that they are, to waste your precious time?

In the United States, its a chronic problem. On a personal note, I could get to work much faster (45 minutes as opposed to 1 hour and 15 minutes) if everyone would either just learn to drive or get out of my way!

So, I have to ask… Is freedom really all it’s cracked up to be? Perhaps we could scale back just a bit to make this society a more civil, and civilized, place to live.

I think we should follow this guideline:

If it offends, get rid of it!

So, if we see offensive religious displays, they should be taken down. If a newspaper publishes offensive material, or if a radio/TV broadcasts offensive material, it should be shut down. If some kooky religious group organizes a march on an issue that offends people, they should be arrested!

I think what might be appropriate is the establishment of a group that I will call the “Civil Patrol.” The Civil Patrol (CP for short), will have as their primary responsibility the cleanup of this offensive society. Any citizen that sees something offensive can go to the CP and lodge a complaint and the CP will follow-up within 24 hours to assess the level of offense and to issue a ruling.

Where did I get this great idea? Well, I’ve been hearing people complain for years now that they are offended by things such as religious symbols worn in public, radio and TV commentary, and other outrageous elements of this society. And since the First Amendment mandates that the government should minimize, even eliminate, offensive material, such as the Ten Commandments from public places, or religious t-shirts in schools, it makes sense to formalize the whole arrangement and empower the state to get rid of the garbage… Don’t you think!

Just nod your heads and we’ll move on. Thanks!

What? You have concerns about First Amendment freedoms? But the First Amendment, as everyone seems to indicate, really was created to allow the federal government to put controls on religion and other offensive behavior, right?

Original intent? What in the world are you talking about?! Who cares what the framers of the Constitution intended! They were all slave owners and suppressors of women. LOSERS!!!!!! Really, a bunch of hypocrites one and all. We don’t care about original intent, we care only about our intent… right?

Again, just nod your heads.

The First Amendment was created to eliminate all offenses from a society. That is what we need to insist upon and that is what we must act upon. I don’t care if you say that the First Amendment was more about insuring the opposite, it has no relevance to what we want today.

Today, we don’t want to be bothered by religious values; therefore, we need to use the First Amendment to put the necessary controls on kooky religious folk. No, you can’t pray before your meal in a restaurant, you might offend someone. No, you can’t talk to someone about Jesus at the football game, it doesn’t go with beer and hot dogs. And absolutely no way can your sons and daughters pray with friends before a high school game!

Does that make sense? Good, now lets talk about this “waterfront” property I’ve been trying to sell for the past few years…

David Flanagan

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  • http://www.resonation.ca Jim Carruthers

    Y’know there’s this thing called Bayesian filtering. And a really good filter to use so you don’t waste your time is when somebody uses the phrase “acid rock”. It means “full on, out of touch, somewhat creepy, asshat”.

    But that may just me, your mileage may vary.

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    what, is this KickAStrawManInTheNuts week?

    i didn’t receive my invite.

    plonk.

  • Dwaine AKA Scooter AKA D.J.

    WHY DON’T YOU GO TO NORTH KOREA YOU FUCKIN’ ASSHOLE!!! WE DON’T NEED THESE PEOPLE WHO HATE THE MOST PERFECT TYPE OF GOVERNMENT THAT EVER WALKED THE EARTH IN ALL TIME! EVERYONE IS ENTITIED THEIR OWN OPINION IN THIS HERE COUNTRY DICKHEAD! AND IF YOU HAVE PROBLEMS WITH PEOPLE SHARING THEIR THOUGHTS TO YOU, MR. FLANAGAN, GO SOMEWHERE WHERE THERE ISN’T ANY FREEDOM! YOU WOULDN’T EVEN SURVIVE THERE, FUCKER. FREEDOM IS WHAT MAKES THIS COUNTRY THE BEST CIVILIZATION EVER! AND THERE WILL NEVER BE A CIVILIZATION LIKE THIS FOREVER MORE! USA, USA, USA! AND EVEN BETTER, FREEDOM! FREEDOM! FREEDOM! HOW ‘BOUT THOSE TWO CENTS, ASSHOLE!

  • Eric Olsen

    I felt like I was sitting in the drill sargeant’s section at a football game.

    I believe this post was meant in a satirical, facetious manner. I think he’s on your side, Dwaine.

  • http://www.resonation.ca Jim Carruthers

    I think this really needs a donation to the R. Lee Emery FOR THE FUCKING CHILDREN FUND!!!!

    Do you not BELIEVE IN THE VIRGIN MARY? WHAT IS YOUR MAJOR MALFUNCTION!!!???

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Speaking on behalf of all people with IQs greater than an Alaskan temperature reading in January, I find Everybody Loves Raymond extremely offensive. That whining little poopie licker has to go.

  • duane

    All right, then. I find that “abs” guy on the TV commercials to be offensive. Where do I complain?

  • http://www.resonation.ca Jim Carruthers

    Hey, Al, free advice, your teevee set has an “off” setting, plus you can change the channels. Ask an expert how.

    Is this “everybody loves raymond” just a ripoff of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode where every woman in Sunnydale was entranced to fall in love with Xander?

  • Dwaine AKA Scooter AKA D.J.

    Actually Eric, Flanagan is not on my side. I’m a fighter. I belive in freedom and all of thal good stuff. If you want to PRAY AT A TABLE, DO IT! YOU CAN DO WHATEVER THE FUCK YOU WANT TO DO. YOU, FLANAGAN CANNOT CHANGE THE LAWS OF THIS HERE LAND ASSHOLE. DO YOU NOT BELIVE IN GOD? YOU ATHEIST! Man, I get pissed every time I think about what Flanagan said.

  • duane

    Dwaine, you have to understand that this post is using sarcasm to make a point. I think that if you read the post again… well, give it a try, dude. And where did you get that spelling of Duane?

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Duane, by ‘that “abs” guy’ I hope you do not mean to ban John Basedow commercials. Especially the one with the frosted hair. He looks SO HOT there.

  • duane

    Al, yeah that’s the guy. He may be “so hot,” but I’ve already committed my heart to Johnny Depp. Maybe I’m just jealous because I don’t have six hours a day to work on my six-pack abs.

  • http://www.viewpointjournal.com David Flanagan

    I believe this post was meant in a satirical, facetious manner. I think he’s on your side, Dwaine.

    Eric,

    You are correct sir! Now, I thought I might get some interesting responses and I was fairly certain that at least several people would either just read the title and then blow a fuse, or, perhaps, read the title and the first three sentences, THEN blow a fuse, or read the whole thing, miss the whole point, and have a complete meltdown.

    So… I guess that did happen in some form or another. I thought that my little intro blurb to the story might just give those people who weren’t sure the little hint they needed to let them know that this was, I hoped, a little moral story for those who insist that the First Amendment is some kind of guarantee that no one will ever be offended by another beliefs.

    The point here, of course, that exactly the opposite is true. As they say in the military, “no plan of battle survives contact with the enemy.”

    David Flanagan

  • http://www.unproductivity.com Tom Johnson

    Oh, for God’s sake, doesn’t anyone understand sarcasm and satire? Do I have to whip out the link to Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal? (Well, I suppose I did, since I linked it there.) “Dwaine AKA Scooter AKA D.J.”, I highly urge you to read “A Modest Proposal”, then go find an high school English teacher to explain to you the finer points of sarcasm and satire present in the piece. You’ll be a better person for it, and the world will be a better place for you having learned about the nuances of “dry humor.”

  • http://macaronies.blogspot.com Mac Diva

    Dwaine, Dwaine, Dwaine. Calm down. David Flanagan is a cluelees reactionary from Free Republic. In other words, he can’t – or won’t – help himself by actually learning the subject matter he tries to write about. And, if you are a Rightwing Christian fundamentalist, too, you guys could get together and do whatever such people do for . . . pleasure.

    This entry was written in response to one Flanagan posted yesterday. In that one, he gets all hot and bothered because the Establishment Clause of the Constitution forbids things he wants to do, such as:

    *Allow judges to put symbols of the Ten Commandments in courtrooms and other public buildings.

    *Make kids in public schools say the Pledge of Allegiance.

    *Put religious propaganda on currency.

    *Make Thomas Jefferson’s private correspondence the legal basis of government.

    ‘Holy Jerry Falwell!’ you say. Ex-act-ly. That is where Flanagan is coming from, though he may prefer Pat Robertson, who looks better than Falwell in an expensive suit.

    The First Amendment is not the problem here. The problem is people who want to impose their dictatorial far Right views on the rest of the population and use religion as a weapon to do that.

    I’ve been checking out Flanagan and his cronies at FR for a couple years. (BTW, Atrios has a great treasure trove of some of the material that was removed from the site because the hatred in it it even embarrassed the proprietor.) If those people get the society they want, most of us will not be allowed to live in it. Think American holocaust.

  • http://www.viewpointjournal.com David Flanagan

    Hey Mac! :-) I was wondering when you’d show up.

    David Flanagan

  • http://macaronies.blogspot.com Mac Diva

    Got the rope and jugs of gasoline ready, eh?

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Diva, now don’t you be whoring around with this new Flanagan guy. I, AL BARGER, am the Great White Devil of Blogcritics. You need to be denouncing ME.

    Indeed, I am TOO HOT for Free Republic. I got bounced off the site years ago, with nary a word of explanation. Best I can figure, even just purely my pseudonym [“Bongtalk”]was too offensive for decent folk.

    Oh yes Diva, I am FAR more evil than this Flanagan guy. Come and get me!

  • http://www.viewpointjournal.com David Flanagan

    Got the rope and jugs of gasoline ready, eh?

    Mac,

    You are so utterly predictable. You are also one of the most hatefully racist people I’ve ever met. You’ve created your own prison.

    David Flanagan

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    flanagan, you take smug pills?

    …or does it just come naturally?

  • http://www.viewpointjournal.com David Flanagan

    flanagan, you take smug pills?

    …or does it just come naturally?

    Yes. Any other questions?

    David Flanagan

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    yes….uhhmmm, lemme think…

    ok.

    if you’re driving your car at a rate approaching the speed of light, and then you turn your headlights on…will your posts still be incredibly transparent?

  • http://www.viewpointjournal.com David Flanagan

    if you’re driving your car at a rate approaching the speed of light, and then you turn your headlights on…will your posts still be incredibly transparent?

    No. At the speed of light (186,000 miles per second or 299,792,458 meters per second) my blog posts actually become more of a bluish green color. Don’t ask me why.

    Thanks.

    David Flanagan

  • http://macaronies.blogspot.com Mac Diva

    Bounced from Free Republic? Bah wah ha ha ha! That beats all, Barger. What’s next? Dissed by Lucianne?

    Seriously, despite your neo-Confederate proclivities, you are not ready for the would-be big time. The people I am talking about at Free Republic have a whole new, ‘shitstem’ as you say, planned for after the secession. (The First Amendment is the least of what they are dissatisfied with.) And, it is about as authoritarian as one can get, all under the rubric of making the U.S. a more Christian nation. If you would do it, I would suggest you explore the writings of their appointed intellectual leader, Michael Hill, chairman of the League of the South. This is not some fly-by-night interest of mine. I have been exploring the movement Flanagan is part of for years, since I stumbled across it while a reporter in the South.

    Careful, Mark, Flanagan has God’s ear, allegedly.

  • http://www.viewpointjournal.com David Flanagan

    Careful, Mark, Flanagan has God’s ear, allegedly.

    Actually, it is God who has my ear, not the other way around. And sure, yes, I’m a Yankee who is a member of the League of the South. ;-)

    David Flanagan

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Thing about you explaining something like Free Republic, Diva, is that you aren’t a good gauge of such things generally. You pretty much routinely villify anybody even a half step to the right of Hillary Clinton as [go into Howard Dean rant mode here] EVIL NEOCONFEDERATE WHITE SUPREMICIST EUGENICIST RACISTS.

    In my limited time at Free Republic, there seemed to be a decent range of mostly reasonable conservative opinion, and maybe a few folks who were perhaps a bit obsessive with their Clinton hating.

    I haven’t hung out there much in the last five years- so I can’t speak to current activities, but they seemed pretty benign overall. Certainly they were not part of any obvious high level Republican conspiracy.

    At worst, they were some grumpy guys that needed to get girlfriends.

    God hasn’t seen fit to grab my ear, well except just that one time. I reckon that means she thinks I’m doing ok without him micromanaging.

  • JR

    David Flanagan: Now, I thought I might get some interesting responses and I was fairly certain that at least several people would either just read the title and then blow a fuse, or, perhaps, read the title and the first three sentences, THEN blow a fuse, or read the whole thing, miss the whole point, and have a complete meltdown.

    Indeed, and did you notice WHO blew a fuse? Hint: it wasn’t the “secularists”. Looks like you need to preach to the choir on this issue.

  • http://macaronies.blogspot.com Mac Diva

    Barger, I am not particularly giving Flanagan a hard time. In fact, if he wrote an an honest entry about being a far Right Christian fundamentalist who wants the First Amendment to be bent to his desires, that would be fine with me. I would disagree, but I would not need to ‘out’ where he is coming from. But he is too dishonest for that. Instead, he tries to claim his interest is in greater freedom for Americans, when what he and his fellow travelers really want to do is take away the freedoms of the rest of us and impose their will (which they mistake for God’s) on us. That isn’t about loving your fellow man, it is about dominating and oppressing him. (And their targets include you. As an atheist, you are equivalent to the devil himself to them.)

    JR, this isn’t the first time Flanagan has shed his thin veil of nice guyhood. I really don’t believe he is cut out for the task of foolery he is attempting. A few of his fellow Right Wingers at Blogcritics have nodded in his direction, but they do not realize how far to the Right he is – that to him, they probably don’t qualify as ‘real’ Christians. Other people have been misled because he always pretends to be talking about Mom, baseball and apple pie when he means something quite different. But, if Dawn, for example, realized this person’s religion is inherently anti-Semitic, she might have second thoughts.

    I was a good reporter. That required developing an ability to look behind the rhetoric of people and find out what was really going on. I don’t believe David Flanagan likes that ability.

  • http://macaronies.blogspot.com Mac Diva

    Oh, Barger. I think you should write a blog entry about your experience at Free Republic. A lot of us in the blogosphere use it as a barometer of far Right behavior. You could provide your insights.

  • http://resonation.ca Jim Carruthers

    Wow, how did you get so many ass-clowns in that tiny car?

  • Dwaine AKA Scooter AKA D.J.

    Jesus Christ! Damn! I didn’t catch that “sarcasm” part! If you guys didn’t help me realize that that was sarcasm, I probably would have painted my groin area red, white and blue and ran naked at a busy intersection in ten degree wheather, sreaming,”USA!” again and again. Thanks bloggers for saving me embarrassment and possible jail time!! Also, Duane, the name “DWAINE” is the ONLY way to spell “DWAINE”! CLONE!!

  • http://macaronies.blogspot.com Mac Diva

    You go, dude-:)!

  • duane

    Dwaine, your ranting has become tiresome.

  • Dwaine AKA Scooter AKA D.J.

    KABOOM-SHAK-A-LAKA-LAKA!!!STICK THAT IN YOUR PIPE AND SMOKE IT, DUANE! AND CALL ME CHARCOAL CUZ I’M OFF THE GRILL!

  • superman

    Yo Mac Diva,

    Uhh what’s wrong with religion being prevalent in everyday life? Isn’t atheism a religion? If religion is a system of beliefs, then atheism is a religion, right? Even if atheism isn’t a religion, I still know some people who are religiously atheistic. So, before I continue, let me quote you here.

    “The First Amendment is not the problem here. The problem is people who want to impose their dictatorial far Right views on the rest of the population and use religion as a weapon to do that. ”

    So, uh, wouldn’t totally secularizing society be just as bad as totally Christianizing society? I know that my train of thought is going all over the place here, but I’m just kind of saying whatever comes off the top of my head. If God existing is the “default,” so to speak, by all means let the US become a theistic nation. If secularism is the default, then by all means, let’s do away with God in every way we can.

    I believe, however, that there is no “default.” I believe that Christianity is THE one true religion, and that no other religion is correct, but I still think that free society is the best way to go. For instance, if a rightie is offended by homosexual marriage being legalized, too bad for that rightie. If a leftie is offended by the ten commandments being publicly posted, too bad for him.

    Plain argument has never solved anything. You can talk to Al Barger all day and he will never capitulate. He can talk to you and you will never capitulate. So, when he says something dumb, you don’t say “Al Barger %$^# you you rightie, you are so wrong” you say “Here is my viewpoint…” Being civilized is the way to go here, I guess. Again, this whole post is just right off the top of my head. It probably doesn’t make much sense. Whatever! I look forward to hearing your response.

  • http://macaronies.blogspot.com Mac Diva

    You answered your own ‘question’ to an extent.

    I believe, however, that there is no “default.” I believe that Christianity is THE one true religion, and that no other religion is correct, but I still think that free society is the best way to go. For instance, if a rightie is offended by homosexual marriage being legalized, too bad for that rightie. If a leftie is offended by the ten commandments being publicly posted, too bad for him.

    The error I see in your reasoning is that you aren’t distinguishing between religious expression by Joe Public and The Government. If Joe wants to post the Ten Commandments in his mom-and-pop grocery he is free to do so. But, the government is not free to put a monument to the Ten Commandments in the foyer of the state justice building in Alabama. (Sound familiar?) Doing so means the government is favoring religion and imposing an interpretation of it on the populace. That is what the Constitution forbids. Having no religious monument there is not favoring secularism, it is staying out of the religion/secularism conflict altogether – the right thing for the government to do.

    On my civil rights blog, I’ve written about a fellow in South Carolina who believes the Bible confirms black people are meant to be slaves. He passes out pamphlets in his restaurants, Bessinger’s, stating those views. He is free to do that. However, if the post office administrator in Charleston shares Bessinger’s views, he is not free to disseminate pamphlets explaining what a good, Christian thing slavery is in post offices. That is because Bessinger is a private citizen and the postal administrator represents the government.

    An odd twist to Bessinger’s story is that he, an aged segregationist who has never wavered on the matter, believes grocery stores should be forced to carry his barbecue sauce. He believes his speech is being abridged if they don’t. Wrong. I think you know why.

    And, oh, I don’t even need to say Bessinger considers himself a fine, upstanding Christian gentleman, do I?

  • http://www.viewpointjournal.com David Flanagan

    Okay, so we see a few people with the opinion that it is not proper for the government to put religious symbols or phrases in or on official government property. That point is debatable, but lets look at a slightly different example.

    There have been many complaints of this sort: You have a public facility, funded by taxpayer dollars, that is supposed to be open to any group. The local government allows all kinds of groups to hold meetings and activities in the facility, but, when a religious organization tries to reserve the facility they are denied because of “separation of church and state” ideology.

    Here’s the problem, if the government opens the facility for groups to use, they must honor all requests or no requests. They cannot selectively choose who can and cannot use the facility. To do that is discriminatory. And this kind of thing happens all the time.

    Here at least is one clear example of where religious organizations are actively discriminated against in violation of the First Amendment. If we all pay taxes, and the government uses that tax money to fund a facility and allows groups to meet there, then all taxpayers must have access. Not the only good example, but it will do for now.

    David Flanagan

  • superman

    Uhh actually when I said a public display of the ten commandments I wasn’t referring to the one in Alabama. I meant in general. Sorry that wasn’t clear. Probably just a bad example to pick. Both examples are fully legitimate things in the US (homosexual marriage, posting of the ten commandments), and that’s awesome. I mean, I believe it’s a sin to be homosexual (the Bible’s explicit about this), but if someone doesn’t believe the Bible is true, they have no reason not to be homosexual.

    Please don’t look down on me simply because I am conservative. I am intelligent and well-learned, I try to be informed. I apologize for many like me who do not know all the facts (which, by the way, I don’t know all of either), but have good intentions. Yes, I will not say the Bible is false. That’s where I’m closed-minded, I guess. And I’m sorry for that. And, if it’s not true, in the words of the apostle Paul, “I am to be pitied above all men.”

    But whatever! You are entitled to your opinion. I’m entitled to mine.

    About grocery stores being forced to carry this segragationist’s barbacue sauce, is that similar to situations where companies must hire one woman for every two men or homosexuals say that a company didn’t hire them because they were narrow-minded? I mean, if the guy makes good sauce, it’s the same as not letting a homosexual work at the cash register. If the sauce is good and the homosexual guy is a good worker, then it is discrimination not to hire one of them. The homosexual will offend some Christians who will boycott the store and be labeled “closed-minded.” The segragationist’s sauce will offend everyone who knows who the guy is and label them “open-minded.”

    The reason my hypothetical situations lead to a given end is because, you got it, I’m biased! You are too. So’s everybody. There IS no neutral viewpoint.

  • http://macaronies.blogspot.com Mac Diva

    You’ve convinced me, Super-:).

    (Would the Diva kid a fellow?)

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    As to this establishment of religion stuff, I tend to go for tolerance. What freedom of yours is restricted if some Baptists want a Ten Commandments plaque on the courthouse lawn? What, the freedom not to have to see anything you disagree with? Just hold your frickin’ nose as you pass. So I’m pretty much with Flanagan here.

    Now, on the other hand, that tolerance stuff runs all directions. If the Baptists get a Yahweh plaque, then they will have to accept when I get a religious urge to similarly erect [huh, huh- I said “erect”] a statue to Baal. Perhaps a golden calf. And don’t think I won’t do it.

    You cool with that, Flanagan?

  • http://dirtgrain.com/weblog Dirtgrain

    You all should read my post, On Being Offended (nobody left a comment–thanks assholes, I was really offended), in which I analyzed where we should draw the line when it comes to offensive ideas versus political correctness that has gone to far, becoming itself oppressive.

    Al, you ignorant slut (no offense intended). The reason for not having the Ten Commandments on display at a public site is not so that people can avoid being offended. It is rather so that any particular religion does not creep its way into the government, taking it over like the Ebola virus. Bad things happen when church and state mix: the Taliban, The Salem Witch Trials, Tammy Faye Baker (oops, she isn’t an example of a mixing of church and state, but she is a bad thing), the Inquisition, the G.W. Bush crusades, the time of the three conflicting popes, the reverend Jim Jones (they did try to establish their own religious-based government in Guyana–around 900 people died), the deaths of Jesus and Socrates, Galileo getting thrown in jail, (The Catholics and Protestants fighting in Ireland?), Israel vs. certain Muslim governments, and so on. Government is bad for religion, and religion is bad for government.

    Lastly, “A Modest Proposal” technically is an example of burlesque, although one could argue that this is a subset of satire.

  • Eric Olsen

    I both read and commented upon it, as should the multitudes

  • http://www.resonation.ca Jim Carruthers

    Why all the kerfuffle about marriage? It isn’t about religion, it is a simple case of contract law. You engage in a contract with another individual to clarify issues of ownerhsip and inheritance.

    Your gender shouldn’t enter into it.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    So Dirtgrain, you figure that the baby Jesus doll is going to crawl in out of the nativity scene and take the county comissioners hostage? How’s that work exactly? You’re really pushing the idea of establishment of religion to the breaking point.

    I would generally put more stock in the real, direct clear and present freedom of expression of, say, a high school cheerleader wanting to express a prayer at a football game than in the purely hypothetical and extremely tenuous idea that this somehow will lead to theocracy and oppression.

    I understand and appreciate concern about separation of church and state, but at some point this stuff gets to be just plain silly, and actively COUNTER to civil liberties.

  • http://dirtgrain.com/weblog Dirtgrain

    Kerfluffle? You speak a strange language, Carruthers. I heard a TV commentator say that marriage is both a governmental and religious construct; therefore, she said that homosexuals should not be included in the institution of marriage. This raises questions of church and state, again, so I’m not inclined to buy into that argument.

    If homosexuals were offered an alternative to marriage that allowed them the same rights as married people, would they take it without future complaints? I’m not so sure. It seems that they want a piece of the traditional, cultural construct that is marriage. You could say it is for purposes of establishing inclusion at the highest levels, or perhaps they intend to overturn our existing cultural paradigms, forcing their way into public consciousness by creating controversy that shocks the general public.

    I’m ambivalent on the issue. It seems like the institution of marriage has already be sundered by the common occuerence of divorce. It doesn’t need any more stress and redefinition. If anything, I would prefer marriage to return to its glory days–when not so many people got divorced (without the subordination of women, though, and with equality in the relationship). Would inclusion of homosexuals weaken the institution of marriage? How? Why?

    In line with what Jim Carruthers says, what difference would it make? Although Jim, “contract,” “ownership” and “inheritance” seem to sell marriage short a bit. Love and commitment? Do any married people have a deeper definition of marriage? If so, does it clash with the concept of homosexual marriage?

  • Eric Olsen

    I believe in marriage’s more subjective elements. I don’t think there is any excuse to preclude gay marriage from a civil standpoint, but as to the religious element, that will have to be up to the individual religions since we are defending seaparation of church and state, as well we should. I don’t see how accepatance of gay marriage can be forced on any church.

    I’m not that worried about the divorce rate: it’s come down after being inflated when it became widely available and the stigma was greatly reduced, and as long as it’s under 50%, then more are lasting than aren’t. I think it’s also probably cyclical and the downsides of “easy divorce” will cause more people to stick it out longer, which I think is already happening. I don’t think you’d have so many people living together if they weren’t trying real hard to avoid divorce, which from experience, I can tell you was devastating and horrifying.

  • http://dirtgrain.com/weblog Dirtgrain

    Many radical, ridiculous and cult-like groups have existed in our country. Many have found their way into our major media venues. Heaven’s Gate? Raelians? Pat Robertson? David Duke and white supremacists? All you have to do is open the door, Al, and they will find their way into positions of power in our government, imposing their beliefs on the rest of us. I have met people who do want our government to be based on their particular religious views. Yes, Al, all you have to do is open the door.

    That said, I think you did slightly misconstrue what I mean about the separation of church and state. That high school cheerleader can pray all she wants–by herself, or with willing participants. But she has no right (nor need) to force her prayers on everybody. And she has no right to do so (forcing her prayer on others) at government-sanctioned activities. Government institutions are not to be used to promote one religion over another–they shouldn’t promote religion at all.

    To further convince you, consider if it were Islam that was being incorporated into our government. How would you react to a system in which Islam dictated our laws and punishments? As for Christianity, would you be happy living under Oliver Cromwell? Say goodbye to strip clubs, non-religious music, non-religious reading and writing, swearing and dirty jokes on the internet, Sundays away from church, and so on.

    There are plenty of willing religious-extremist oppressors out there who will jump at the chance to impose their will on you and me. The best way to prevent them from doing it is never to open the door.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    I don’t see how a mere plaque or nativity scene constitutes “opening a door” to theocracy at all. Granted, such a thing can get pushed to the wall, such as in Alabama with the demagogue chief justice of their supreme court putting in, what, a two ton monument in the middle of the hallway [and paid for by state money]. That’s pretty much prohibitive of any equal display for anyone else.

    However, you’re really pushing a point beyond any reasonable justification if you insist on calling a high school valedictorian or cheerleader an agent of the state. If you DON’T call the cheerleader an agent of the state, then it seems to be a case of HER free speech rights to try banning a prayer.

  • http://macaronies.blogspot.com Mac Diva

    Dirt, Barger refuses to read much beyond the two writers he worships, one of whom is atrocious in ideology and ability. (The other is a dyed-in-the wool racist, but could write.) He is not kidding you. Barger probably isn’t aware of the centuries of conflict between religion and government all over the world.

    And, to bring the thread back to where it started, Flanagan’s people – far Right Christian fundamentalists – want a theocracy. Oh, they may claim to be concerned about the supposed outrages of secularists. But that’s just a puton. A Falwell, a Robinson or a faithful follower like Flanagan would not really be satisfied unless his particular brand of the religion ran the country.

    Barger is at least toying with the idea Flanagan (who I’m using to embody a type here, so there is no need for him to throw another tantrum) would accept equal treatment of religions if the EC were not a problem. They wouldn’t. If symbols of other religions were placed in say, the foyer of the justice building in Alabama, that would anger them even more than not being able to sneak the Ten Commandments in. Their point is that they have a superior religion people should follow . . . or else. Including other religions in government recognition would not do. Read Super’s tirades again. Though raw, they are honest about where Christian fundamentalists are coming from.

  • superman

    Yeah, I think there’s no really good solution one can come to. No matter who gets their way, someone’s going to be unhappy. I’m just kind of saying what I said before in a different way here (which is probably pretty obvious). Dirtguy, any belief can screw up governments. Hitler believed the Germans were a superior race. He killed a bunch of people. That’s why they don’t let the swastika/swatchsticka/i have no idea how to spell it be displayed on government stuff. Religion isn’t the only thing that’s bad for government.

    I think the problem is that Christians and non-Christians or any conflicting groups of people can’t both be right. Obviously an atheist and a theist CANNOT both be right. Either there is a God or there isn’t. For sure, either the atheists or the theists are wrong. The problem is that no one knows until they die what is actually true about God’s existence. I, right now, would say I’m 100% confident God exists. But, I mean, I COULD be wrong, sure, but I know I’m not. That doesn’t make sense, but it does (what am I saying????)

    Anyway, how do we solve this problem? The only way to avoid conflicts is to agree on everything. And guess what, we don’t agree on everything.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Wait now Diva, you’re saying that there has long been historical conflict between governments and religious groups? Why, I’ve never heard of nothing like that. Rand nor Mencken (the only two authors I’ve ever read) certainly never mentioned any such thing.

  • sam

    That’s pretty funny, Al

  • http://macaronies.blogspot.com Mac Diva

    Barger, consider your animals down there on the farm. If you put your little red rooster in charge of all the other chickens in the barnyard, Lil’ Red’s gonna set up a pecking order based on his fowl beliefs, you know? His potential rival, Cock-A-Doodle-Doo, will likely be targeted right away. Lil’ Red will have the other chickens pecking Doodle every chance they get. So, the best thing for you to do, as The Government of green acres, is to stay out of the belief system chicken sh!t altogether.

    (Aside: I think he might actually understand the issue discussed in terms he can relate to.)

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Perhaps Diva Acres roosters would be hell bent on bullying everyone else into adopting their beliefs, but Barger Road roosters would be rather more inclined to being funky and gettin’ down with the hens.

    And Cock-a-Doodle-Doo [huh, huh- I said “cock”] hanging up a picture of his supreme leader (and Al role model) Foghorn Leghorn would not constitute a threat to his fowl brethren. Indeed, the heavy boot of fascism would actually be coming in when Ol’ Macdiva came down from the farmhouse to tear down the tribute to Leghorn.

  • superman

    C’mon, Mac Diva, Al may not agree with you, but you don’t have to be condescending to him. And anyway, if the government of green acres would “stay out of the belief system chicken sh!t altogether,” one of them would still become dominant and maybe Li’l Red would be at the bottom of the pecking order. Staying out wouldn’t make them get along better, necessarily.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Thanks for your vote of support Superman, but don’t worry about Diva being shitty with me. That’s just her way of saying ‘I love you.’

  • http://www.viewpointjournal.com David Flanagan

    You cool with that, Flanagan?

    I agree with you 100% Al. :-) I would rather see a plurality of religions and faiths rather than the opposite.

    I am a Christian and I believe that Christianity as both a faith and a worldview can hold its own against any faith.

    Thanks.

    David Flanagan

  • http://macaronies.blogspot.com Mac Diva

    Liar.

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    so mr. flanagan would support/allow a taxpayer-funded display of satan-worship?

    somehow i doubt that.

  • http://www.viewpointjournal.com David Flanagan

    so mr. flanagan would support/allow a taxpayer-funded display of satan-worship?

    Actually, I have two good friends who are Wiccans. One of them is a college friend who I’ve kept in touch with. She is a Dianic Wiccan and is actually a High Priestess in her local order. The other is a co-worker, a Phd who also happens to very close to her due date for having her first child. I don’t know what order she is in because I try not to mix politics or religion with work.

    Now, to answer the question, would I allow a taxpayer funded display of satan worship? Well, most Wiccans would not like the title of Satan worshipper. They worship the “earth-mother,” or other titles for nature, or various gods they worship. In that sense, then, taxpayer dollars already go to support those kinds of displays of art through programs such as the National Endowment for The Arts. My concern would be less over religion and more over my own personal tastes.

    Is the display making a mockery of Christianity? If so, then I have a problem with that and I’m going to speak up about it. Otherwise, people must be allowed to express their faiths.

    Thanks.

    David

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    i didn’t say Wiccan, i said “Satan”.

    i believe that you have no trouble with a Wiccan display, but you’d be in the vast minority.

  • http://www.viewpointjournal.com David Flanagan

    i didn’t say Wiccan, i said “Satan”.

    Well, I do want to point out that this does go to my point that I care about religious pluralism in this country more than a secularist. The vast majority of people who are accused of being “satanists,” are not. Instead, they are Wiccans, which is why I try and show sensitivity to those of the Wiccan religion.

    For a true satan worshiper who wants to, for example, meet in a public building that is open to other groups to discuss the coming month’s worship schedule, I would give you the same answer, the government cannot discriminate on the basis of religion. Now, if they are meeting to sacrifice a cat or something, I would as members of PETA to back me up here when I say I’d have a problem with that. ;-)

    Honestly, though, this is truly where I stand and I appreciate your questions and the points you’ve made on this issue.

    Thanks.

    David

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    personally, i think it’d be a great idea if more (all?) public schools made available a “Religions Of The World”/comparative religeions class.

    heck, i went to catholic school and knew almost nothing about other religions.

  • Eric Olsen

    I agree entirely. I took comparative religion classes in college and became fascinated: they touch upon philosophy, culture, sociology, and EVERY religion has some insight of use to all.

  • http://www.resonation.ca Jim Carruthers

    Everybody knows Foghorn Leghorn ain’t a chicken, he’s a loud-mouth schnook! And Al should know this because he’s a chicken-hawk.

  • Dwaine AKA Scooter AKA D.J.

    Al and MD sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G, first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Little Al in a baby carriage, But that’s not all, that’s not all, here comes the baby on alcohol!

  • http://macaronies.blogspot.com Mac Diva

    Mark, we had those at the Quaker school I attended. And, it was good for us in the long run. We learned at least the rudiments of the major world religions and how the variations on Christianity developed. Some of us became curious enough to take comparative religion classes in college as a result, which I agree with Eric about. Information is a good thing. (Lord knows, I didn’t become religious, just reasonably well-informed.)

    But, not everyone believes information is a good thing. Notice how our far Right Christian fundamentalist has already twisted the meaning of the word while claiming to support something he doesn’t. In the blink of an eye equal treatment of all religions has been burdened with a duty not to offend his extremist notions about being a Christian. To be acceptable, ‘information’ is not to be a mockery of Christianity, which would mean banning anything he and his heroes — Jerry Falwell, Pat Robeson, that clown in Alabama, etc. — don’t like.

  • http://macaronies.blogspot.com Mac Diva

    Addendum to first issue: Flanagan would make a poor lawyer. His evasions are too obvious. Separate posts and he is still stepping right into the trap he set for himself by claiming he supports equal treatment of all religions. Trying to convert ‘Satanism’ into ‘Wicca’ is particularly shoddy. Duh.

    But, I believe we are missing the overall point. Government does not exist to promote any religion, singular or plural. Furthermore, our tax dollars are limited. Better that we spend that money on providing services to the public than erecting religious symbols of any kind. It is a shame that Christian fundamentalists have made putting up religious iconography on government property a national campaign in areas where they grab domination of local governments. That forces taxpayers to spend money to defend something that is patently unconstitutional. Sadly, many of those local governments are in the Deep South, where people are particularly poor. Instead of spending money on food, healthcare or education, the Christian fundamentalist dominated boards and councils spend it on defending posting the Ten Commandments in courtrooms or putting religious sculptures in parks. That is a sin. Jesus would weep.

  • http://www.viewpointjournal.com David Flanagan

    heck, i went to catholic school and knew almost nothing about other religions.

    Mark,

    I didn’t go to Catholic school but I did go to CCD (Catholic sunday school for the “non-believer” ;-) and I agree with you. My education came during college when I began to attend a small liberal arts college.

    No offense to Catholics (of which, I am no longer one), but the Catholic church doesn’t do a great job of teaching members about the Catholic faith much less any other.

    David Flanagan

  • http://www.viewpointjournal.com David Flanagan

    Information is a good thing.

    Mac,

    You seem more a master of disinformation to me. I guess its only good information if you agree with it, otherwise, its to be banned, censored, or, at the very least, berated.

    Rock on Ms. Diva.

    David Flanagan

  • http://macaronies.blogspot.com Mac Diva

    As Meryl Yourish said, I do indeed rock.

    Now, go, and sin no more.

  • http://www.viewpointjournal.com David Flanagan

    …forces taxpayers to spend money to defend something that is patently unconstitutional.

    Mac,

    So, would it then be okay for private organizations to spend their own money to erect statues and memorials of religious significance? Many of the public monuments with religious significance that are being ordered removed because of ACLU lawsuits were funded by private organizations and put in public parks.

    Can’t the people of this nation express themselves freely in the public square as well as on their personal property? If we are a nation that values the freedom of religion, which, historically, we have been for our entire history, then why can’t our art and literature reflect those values?

    And you still have not answered my post outlining another example of state descrimination against religious organizations using “separation of church and state” in a lame excuse to deny religious freedom.

    There’s a word for people who accuse people of not doing what they themselves refuse to do. Or do you follow that old adage of “do as I say, not as I do?”

    David Flanagan

  • http://macaronies.blogspot.com Mac Diva

    MEGO! Flanagan has no idea when to just shut up and move on.

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    aw cripes, i’ve got nothing more to say about this topic.

    but about catholic schools….they weren’t great at teaching about other religions…but they did have catholic schoolgirls.

    oh yea….

  • http://www.viewpointjournal.com David Flanagan

    MEGO! Flanagan has no idea when to just shut up and move on.

    Now I remember the word… It’s hypocrite! Your behaviour is profoundly hypocritical. No big surprise.

    David Flanagan

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    carruthers had it right in comment #1