Crime and Justice: For What It’s Worth

Three days of tragedy.

A tragic week in America.

There’s something happening here;
What it is ain’t exactly clear.
There’s a man with a gun over there,
Telling me I got to beware…

 

 

I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down

There’s battle lines being drawn.
Nobody’s right, if everybody’s wrong.
Young people speaking their minds,
Getting so much resistance from behind

…..

Paranoia strikes deep.
Into your life it will creep.
It starts when you’re always afraid.
You step out of line, the man come,
and take you away…
(from the Buffalo Springfield song, “For What It’s Worth”, ©1966.)

     TLDR ADVISORY: This article far exceeds 1,000 words, and may be lengthy for some readers. My apologies ahead of time, but please read on…

     Fifty years ago, Stephen Stills penned these lyrics in response to the “Sunset Strip Riots” of the summer of ’66. During the Vietnam era, the song was adopted and interpreted as an anti-war anthem. Fifty years later, these lyrics remain just as pertinent to the atmosphere in America as when “For What It’s Worth” was first released. During the past three days, our nation has borne witness to tragedy upon tragedy, as a direct result of both the lingering, systemic biases within law enforcement, and the public’s festering fear and anger over the outward examples of these biases.

     On Tuesday, July 5th, 2016, Baton Rouge resident Alton Sterling’s life was cut short by two police officers, who were responding to a phone-in complaint of a person threatening others with a firearm outside of a local convenience store. While we don’t exactly know what led up to it, we do know, from cellphone video that was taken of the incident, that one of the responding officers fired six shots into Sterling, at near point-blank range while both officers had Sterling pinned to the ground. The cellphone video of the incident went viral on the internet shortly afterwards, resulting in both national outrage, and the local authorities calling on the DOJ to launch an investigation. The owner of the convenience store, Abdullah Muflahi, has stated that Sterling was “not the one causing trouble” during the events that led up to the incident.

     Alton Sterling was a black man, the two responding officers are white.

     The very next day, near Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, two officers of the St. Anthony Police Department pulled over a vehicle belonging to 32-year-old Philando Castile, reportedly for a broken tail light. Also in the vehicle at the time of the stop, were Philando’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and Diamond’s four-year-old daughter. During the stop, one of the officers, Jeronimo Yanez, asked Castile for his license and registration. The officer was informed by Castile that Castile was carrying a firearm, and that he was licensed to do so. At that point, reportedly while Castile was putting his hands back up from reaching for his wallet, in an effort to comply with the officer’s orders, the officer drew his service weapon, and fired four shots into the vehicle in rapid succession, striking Philando Castile in the arm and torso. Castile’s girlfriend then began live-streaming the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook. At the time of the shooting, Reynolds’ daughter was in the back seat of the vehicle. Castile subsequently died as a result of the shooting. The governor of Minnesota has also called upon the DOJ to investigate.

     Philando Castile was black, the officer who took his life…was white.

      Then, all hell broke loose, and the world once again seemed that it was going off of the rails. On the evening of Thursday the 7th, in downtown Dallas, Texas, as a peaceful local protest against the prior two days’ killings was winding down, gunfire erupted from an elevated sniper’s nest, as 25-year-old Army Reservist Micah Xavier Johnson of Mesquite, Texas, aimed his weapon at police officers, shooting 10 from the Dallas PD, and two Dallas Area Rapid Transit officers, all of whom were present at the protest to ensure public safety. Also struck, were two civilians. As a result, four of the Dallas PD officers, and one of the DART officers, succumbed to their wounds and lost their lives. It was the deadliest attack for law enforcement since the tragic events of September 11th, 2001.

      During the ensuing standoff with the assailant, Johnson stated to law enforcement negotiators that “the end” was coming, that he was upset about the shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota, and that his aim was to kill white people, and specifically white police officers. He also stated that there were numerous explosive devices in the area. One suspicious package was indeed discovered, and Johnson was subsequently killed during the detonation of that package.

     In the aftermath of this week’s violence, a great many people are struggling to wrap their heads around what has taken place. My fine, young readers, that includes me. Just yesterday, after reading about the killing of Philando Castile, I was musing to a good friend that there seems to be a systematic “something” that’s happening in this country, and that it’s being fueled by racial divisiveness and preconceptions. On further examination, I tend to think that what ails us as a nation runs far deeper than just racial biases within the system. In fact, just a few days ago, I made the following observation on my Facebook wall;

“Is it just me, or does it seem to anyone else that, unless you’re super-rich or super-notable, we live in a country where we’re increasingly being discouraged from asking that favorite question of scientists and young children, “why?”, about the things that REALLY matter, like why we still have a problem with racial prejudice, or why our government never listens to or submits to its citizenry?

I’m sorry, but from where I’m sitting, it looks suspiciously like we’re being beaten down by a system that’s been rigged against us, a system designed to keep us, for the most part, pacified.

It’s times like these that trouble me the most.”

     I think that it’s safe to say that I’m far from being the only person who feels like we live in a country where the average Joe has little to no say in how their government is run, and lives with a fair amount of trepidation of that same government. From fears over what would happen if we’re pulled over by a police officer having a particularly bad day, to being audited by the IRS, to whatever governmental mechanism that might go haywire in our particular direction, the people live in fear of the government. John Basil Barnhill stated in 1914, that:

“Where the people fear the government you have tyranny. Where the government fears the people you have liberty.”

     What has occurred over the past three days, is indeed tyranny.

     My friend and I also discussed the state of the nation, and whether the penchant of certain people for displaying an upside-down flag on their profiles, a sign of a nation in distress, was appropriate. She (my friend) stated that she didn’t believe that our nation was in distress…this was before the events in Dallas. When I spoke with her again after the events in Dallas, I got the distinct impression that maybe her assessment of the situation had changed somewhat.

     My fine, young readers, we are indeed a nation in distress. This distress has claimed at least eight lives in the past three days; five officers in Dallas, Texas, an angry U.S. Army Reservist, a black man in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, and another in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  This distress will, unfortunately, claim many more lives until it is alleviated. While I’m sure that there are many opinions on how this distress might find its remedy, one thing is sure; this nation is doomed to perish without that remedy, because as our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln once said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” 

“…because evils being once recognized, are half way on towards their remedy.”
(Elizabeth Gaskell, circa 1849.)

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American Rhetoric: No Fly, No Buy…Bye Bye For Now

No Fly No Buy

No Fly, No Buy

TLDR ADVISORY: This article exceeds 1,000 words, and may be lengthy for some readers…but it’s still a good read!

(At the outset of the House Democrats’ recent sit-in protest on the House floor over firearms reform, I was all for the concept of “No Fly, No Buy.” Then, however, I began to do my own digging. The more I researched, the more I discovered that this might not be such a good thing. What follows here are my personal observations regarding this piece of legislation.)

     There exist within the darkest back halls and deepest data repositories of the Federal Bureau of Investigations’ “Terrorist Screening Center”, secret lists that are not made available or accessible to the American public. These “watch lists” and “no-fly” lists cannot be readily viewed, and getting off of one is highly problematic at best. These are the lists at the heart of the Democratic push for “No Fly, No Buy.” Simply put, if you’re on the “no-fly” list, then the House Dems feel that you should not be able to legally purchase a firearm in this country.

     There’s only one…well, there are a lot of problems with this. First and foremost, many hundreds of people who are otherwise law abiding citizens, have found themselves on these lists. It’s not hard to make the list. In fact, until 2005, the TSA had been using people’s credit scores as a determining factor for placing people on the list! In other words, if your credit was in the toilet for some reason before 2005 / 2006, you might very well find yourself on the “no-fly” list.

     Oh, but that’s not the only way that you might end up being denied air travel! The Huffington Post’s Nick Wing outlined several additional ways that people have ended up on the list in a July, 2014 piece.(1)

      So, let’s just say for the sake of argument, that you’re an all-around good guy, who, like myself, has been pretty critical of the Transportation Security Administration, and its long, dismal record of mistreatment of air passengers. So, like I have, you post some highly incendiary things on social media about those jokers, including comments aimed specifically at John Pistole, the former TSA Administrator. Something to the effect of him being a mentally-deficient twat waffle, who deserves to languish forever in one of his own endless airport security lines. This could land you on the list, folks!

     Now that you’re on the list, let’s also say that the House Democrats have their way, and their “No Fly, No Buy” becomes law. Now, not only can you not take that Southwest Airlines round-trip flight to visit grandma Hazel in Duluth, now you can’t exercise your Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms either, should you so choose, all because you got righteously pissed off at the ridiculousness that is the TSA at one time or another!

     On its face, “No Fly, No Buy” seems like a good idea. If someone’s been deemed too dangerous to get on board an airplane in this country, then they’re definitely too dangerous to be allowed to buy a gun, right? Isn’t this a “no-brainer”? Not necessarily, if the list that we’re basing all of this on is flawed, which it is! Even the decidedly liberal American Civil Liberties Union, knows that these “watch lists” are a major Mongolian fuster-cluck.(2)

     In my own, not-so-humble opinion, (when have I ever been humble in the course of opining here!?) we need to first, fix the “No-Fly” list situation, because it is a fu**ered up situation. Hence the Republican gripe about, “trading second and fourteenth amendment rights for secret lists.” So…

     Open it up. No more Orwellian, “secret list” bovine scatology.

     I’m sure that the federal government can get a few MIT graduates to create a secure website, that citizens can log on to, like they log in to their online banking. (Hell, they’re messing with Quantum Computing, I’m sure they can write some HTML!) There, they can check the list to see if their name is on it. If it is, the website should also have a link to both an online form and a printable PDF form, for redress and removal of their name from the list. The arbitration process should take no more than 30 days. One month, for the government to either make its case for depriving you of both your Second Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment rights, or get your name off of the list, and let you go along your merry way as a free American citizen, with all rights and privileges thereof.

     Listen. I get what my congressman, along with the other Democrats in the House of Representatives, are trying to do. They’re sick and tired of being sick and tired. People are dying every single day from gun violence in this country, more than in any other developed country in the western world. We have a dismal (yes, that’s the second time I’ve used that adjective, so sue me!) record of gun violence and deaths, compared to the rest of our peer nations. We need to do something, however I’m not at all confident that “No Fly, No Buy” is the answer, especially when the list itself is screwed to such a high degree. I suspect that to the Republicans, and maybe even some of the more enlightened Democrats, it appeared as if House Dems were, as my wife just phrased it, “trying to make the shit smell good before shoveling it.”

      The overarching idea behind the sit-in, though, is that Paul (Lucifer) Ryan and the House Republicans weren’t even allowing debate on this issue, which is not conducive to solving these problems, and is simply a nipple-headed, right-wing elitist thing to do.

     Allow the debate.

     Allow the vote.

     Sure, the bill is going to go down in flaming death on the House floor, but at least we’re having the debate. At least we’re sussing out the problems, and trying to come up with productive solutions…and that, as one congressman said during yesterday’s sit-in, “..is a good Goddamned start!”

American Rhetoric: Some Thoughts on the Democratic Sit-In for Gun Legislation

House Dems Sit-In

House Democrats announce their “occupation” of the floor.

TLDR ADVISORY: This article exceeds 1,000 words, and may be lengthy for some readers, including Congressman Mark Walker, and the Republican leadership. My apologies…NAH!

     Today, I can say that I am proud to be a Democrat, because yesterday, I witnessed my party’s leaders make history. Starting at around 11:00 A.M. EDST, several House Democrats, led by the civil rights icon, Congressman John Lewis, staged an unprecedented “sit-in”, effectively taking over control of the House floor. This sit-in was precipitated by the recent tragedy in Orlando, at the Pulse nightclub, where a lone gunman killed 49 members of the LGBT(QI) community, before being killed by responding officers.

     In the wake of this mass shooting, which has been referred to in the media as the “worst mass shooting in U.S. history”, as with previous tragedies such as Sandy Hook and Aurora, national discourse on firearms legislation and control has risen to fever pitch; however nothing of significance ever seems to get accomplished. It was this angst that prompted members of the House Democratic Caucus to take the extraordinary step of staging yesterday’s “sit-in.”

     John Lewis is no stranger to things like sit-ins. The 76-year-old Troy, Alabama native was an integral part of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s, having been one of the 13 original “Freedom Riders”, and leading the march across the Edmund Pettis bridge in Selma in 1965. If anyone in congress was up to the task of putting together something like this, it was John Lewis. According to Lewis, the sit-in was not made known to the leadership. (I’ll comment a bit more on Lewis a bit later down the page!)

     At approximately 11:00 A.M., John Lewis was recognized by the chair, took the floor of the house, and issued the following statement:

     Thus started what would eventually become a 25-hour-long protest by House Democrats, over the Republican majority’s reluctance to allow a vote on two pieces of legislation; a “No Fly, No Buy” bill, which would prevent people on the government’s “No Fly” list from purchasing firearms, and a bill to close loopholes in the background check process where it pertains to online and gun show purchases. Both of the bills that Democrats were seeking a vote on, incidentally, are bipartisan authored bills. With their intent to force the Republican majority to allow a floor vote on these bills, or be held over with no holiday break, Democrats employed the rallying cry of, “No Bill, No Break!” The Republican chair was forced to adjourn the House once the Democrats took the floor.

     One of the more significant hurdles that the Democrats had to overcome, was the absence of media coverage of the sit-in protest. This was due to the House Majority’s control of the cameras and microphones in the House chamber. The Republican leadership had these shut off when the chair adjourned the House, much to the chagrin of the Democrats. No worries, though! As it turns out, there’s an app for that! Enter “Periscope”, and social media feeds from Congressmen Eric Swalwell (D-CA 15th), Scott Peters (D-CA 52nd), and Beto O’Rourke (D-TX 16th). Because of this, C-SPAN was able to broadcast the sit-in in its entirety, albeit with the occasional video glitch due to the nature of streaming video from a smartphone.

Jim Costa

My congressman, Jim Costa (D-CA 16) speaks.

     During the day-long sit-in, several Democrats took to the podium at the front of the House chamber, rallying their fellow Dems and outlining the many reasons for both the sit-in, and the need for tighter laws on firearms purchases, with the pictures and names of the many victims of gun violence in America as both their backdrop, and constant source of motivation, along with signs reading, “Disarm Hate.”

     The Republicans, led by House Speaker Paul Ryan, eventually used a parliamentary procedure to call an early recess, then left for the July 4th break in the wee hours of the morning, without even an acknowledgment of the issue. In fact, Speaker Ryan referred to the Democratic sit-in as merely a “publicity stunt.” This left the Democrats basically on their own in D.C.

     John Lewis and the House Democrats ended their sit-in at around noon on Thursday, the 23rd of June, with Congressman Lewis stating that their “struggle” was far from over, vowing to return from the holiday break and once again take up the issue. Lewis was the last one to speak. What began with Congressman Lewis, ended with Congressman Lewis, that courageous and noble gentleman from Georgia’s 5th congressional district.

     I find myself left with both a strong sense of pride in my party, and an equally strong sense of disgust at the statements and behavior of House Republicans. At various times during the Democrats’ occupation of the House floor, Republicans alternately heckled, laughed at, and yelled at the Democrats on the floor. During all of this, however, my party’s representatives maintained an overall sense of decorum and restraint. They did us proud, getting into what Congressman Lewis referred to as, “good trouble.”

     One of the more ironic things that came up during the protest, was when Southern Baptist preacher-come-Congressman Mark Walker (R-NC 6th) attempted to engage in a bit of “whitesplaining”, tweeting that;

Calling this a sit-in is a disgrace to Woolworth’s. They sat-in for rights. Dems are “sitting-in” to strip them away.

     I think that it’s a pretty “twunt” move, presuming to tell a civil rights icon about the civil rights movement, especially when the significantly younger Walker wasn’t even born until May of 1969, almost ten whole years after the Woolworth’s lunch counter protest.

     Once again, I am a proud Democrat. I’m proud of my party, proud of my congressional rep, and proud of my President. I also have my own opinions on things like the “No Fly” list, disallowing people on that list from purchasing weapons, and closing loopholes. Instead of going into that here, I’ll pen individual articles on each one, links to be found here soon! (Suffice it to say that this particular piece has indeed migrated towards the “TLDR” end of the spectrum!)

     #SickAndTiredofBeingSickAndTired #NoFlyNoBuy #CloseTheLoopholes #DisarmHate

Faith and Religion: A Flood That Doesn’t Hold Water

Comparison between the Ark and the HMS Titanic. Graphic courtesy of Patheos.com / PZ Myers.

Comparison between the Ark and the RMS Titanic. Graphic courtesy of Patheos.com / PZ Myers.

     TLDR ADVISORY: This article exceeds 1,000 words, and may be lengthy for some readers, including Mr. Ray Comfort and our friends at Answers in Genesis.

     It seems like the older I get, the more skeptical I become regarding things that, for the longest time, I held to be unquestionably true. A young Earth, the Genesis story, the story of Jesus, and the Noah’s Ark story. I grew up with things like the flood story, being told by my Sunday School teachers how Noah built this gigundous boat, and brought all of the animals in the world onto the Ark by twos, male and female, because God was going to flood the Earth. God made it rain for forty days and forty nights, they said. God made the rainbow, they said.

     I guess I started questioning things the minute I discovered that I could make rainbows, (a la the prism or a sprinkler!) and the questions only multiplied from there. I learned about dinosaurs in school. When I asked about them in church, I was told that they died in the flood. I took that answer, and ran with it for quite some time…but no longer. You see, the accumulation of knowledge and a greater understanding of things like cause and effect does something funny to a person’s perception of reality. It shatters illusions, and places certainty solidly within the realm of testable theory, evidence, and proofs.

     Look around for evidence of a global flood. There is none, despite the fact that something on that massive of a scale would leave indubitable evidence behind, in the form of sedimentary layers. The 2004 Boxing Day tsunami left sedimentary evidence everywhere in its impact area. (1) Evidence of earlier tsunamis has been unearthed in places such as Japan, the Cascadia subduction zone, and elsewhere. No uniform layer of ocean sediments, however, has been unearthed that would support a global flood having happened.

     Dinosaurs. According to young-Earth creationists such as the Hovinds, Ray Comfort, Ken Ham and the nice folks at Answers in Genesis, they lived alongside early man, from Adam to Noah. Where did they go? Wasn’t Noah supposed to have taken them aboard the ship as well? Let’s look and see what the ol’ King James says about that in Genesis 6, verses 19-21:

19 And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female.

20 Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive.

21 And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them.

Elephantitis is a pain! Graphic courtesy of Desktop Nexus / LivePencil.

Elephantitis is a pain! Graphic courtesy of Desktop Nexus / LivePencil.

     So God said every living thing. Of all flesh. (Sounds pretty definitive to me!) This begs the question; was Noah an obedient man? According to the Bible, he was. That’s why God hand-picked him to preserve life on that overblown raft of his. So if that’s true, then again, where are the dinosaurs? I’ve gotten a few different answers from the “answer” folks on this. Either they died in the flood, or they went extinct after. If they went “glug glug,” then that would have to mean that Noah was disobedient to some degree. If they went extinct afterwards, then why didn’t other reptiles, such as crocodiles, snakes, turtles and lizards go extinct? T-rex and Velociraptor were apex predators, for Christ’s sakes! So, I guess we wait for the creationists to come up with a better excuse.

     Where did all of the water go? There’s only a finite amount of the “wet stuff” on this planet, and it’s not nearly enough to have covered the Earth deeper than Mount Everest is high:

19 And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered.

20 Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.
(Genesis 7: 19-20, King James Version.)

     “Ah! But what about all of the frozen water, locked up in polar ice?” you may ask. Here it is; if we melted every glacier, every iceberg and every ice sheet, global ocean levels would only rise about 220 feet. (2) The tippy-top of Everest sits at a whopping 29,029 feet above sea level. Maybe if we added all of the ice cubes out of everyone’s freezers, we’d add a few more inches to that previous 220 feet number.

     I’d like to know something. At what point did Noah stop off in Australia, and drop off the Marsupials? Kangaroos. They’re endemic to just one continent on this, God’s green Earth; the Land Down Under. How did they get there, especially when there’s no land bridge between New Guinea and Queensland? The interesting thing about this one, is that the YEC’ers have pulled a new explanation out of their posteriors; a post-flood ice age. Intriguing…proof, si vous plait? Conversely, why are they only endemic to Australia? If the ark landed in Turkey somewhere, then why don’t we see them in Africa? In South America? In India at least?

     For that matter, how did Aboriginal Australians and Native Americans get across the Torres and Bering Straits? Once again, post-flood ice age. Right, sure. Ya bet’cha.

     Supposedly, the flood happened around 2350 BC, according to the folks at AiG. (3) At Creation Ministries, Dr. John Osgood fixes it at 2304 BC. (4) In 1650, Irish Archbishop James Ussher fixed the date of the flood at 2348 BC. What’s a few (or 40) years, right?

     Centuries of research by the best and brightest scholars, have narrowed the date of the building of Khufu’s pyramid on the Giza plateau to sometime between 2560 BC and 2470 BC. (5) So, what gives? Were the pyramids built pre-flood then? (AiG makes an attempt to answer this question, albeit rather poorly. They fail to offer a date of their own for Khufu’s pyramid being built.) Young-Earth creationists have come up with a theory of their own with regards to the movement of land masses, which they’ve termed, “Catastrophic Plate Tectonics.” (6) If that theory was true, and the pyramids were built before the flood, then they surely would have been destroyed, don’t ya think? Again, YEC’ers can’t answer with a firmer date for the building of the pyramids, so…?

     Come on. We know that the Earth’s plates are drifting at about 2cm/year average speed. If we push “stop” on the global VCR, and then press “rewind,” it would take far longer than a mere 6k years for the landmasses to rejoin. We know about how long it takes for rocks to form. We can measure plate movement via GPS, and can prove subduction via Seismology. Science has yet again jumped in where religion has fumbled the ball, and taken it down the field and toward the end zone of understanding the physical processes that have shaped the planet. (A gratuitous football reference there, in anticipation of Sunday’s big game!)

     To sum all of this up, the global flood story has more holes in it than the colander in my kitchen cabinet. So, what are we disillusioned believers now supposed to believe?

Et Tu, Brute? An Open Letter In Response To The Founder of Liberal America

...a full measure of ire, unleashed.

…a full measure of ire, unleashed.

     I don’t usually do this type of thing with my weblog. I try to stay as close to stories and editorials as I can, without airing personal issues or using The Cybersattva as a forum for redressing grievances, if it can be at all avoided. This time however, the offending party has left me no other choice, no alternate avenue for an in-kind, personal response; therefore I am  forced into the open. (The rules set by Ms. Willis, seem to indicate that a personal attack can be launched, with the avenue for a personal response immediately being closed off, thereby necessitating a public response. So in essence, I am now playing by her rules. So be it, id est quod id est.) With Sinead as my inspiration, I proceed…

Now I'm the Bad Guy.

Now I’m the Bad Guy.

“You want me to be the bad guy? Fine…now I’m the bad guy.”
(Mother Gothel, “Tangled,” ©2010, Walt Disney Pictures.)

     This all stems from an article that was written for the “Liberal America” website, a decidedly biased commentary on a news story from August of last year. I, in turn, composed a rebuttal piece, in which I expressed a fair amount of disdain at media bias from both right and left-wing sources. Let me make this abundantly clear: at no time, and in no way, shape or form, did I ever set out to besmirch Liberal America on the whole. I merely had strong opinions with regards to one article, and expressed them accordingly. No, on the contrary. I like a lot of the stuff coming out on LA, Ms. Willis has managed to accumulate a fine stable of writers.

     As a result of last night’s piece, Ms. Willis sent me the following message via Facebook, which I will be parsing and answering ammodum:

“Willis

Did you seriously write an article on your blog targeting my site? With a screenshot of the Facebook post from my site? And the phrase “certain publications”? And call me partisan media? Which we are, unabashedly biased. Hence our name. And called it a “spin”? Can you not give your opinion – however stupid it may be – without smearing a friend’s website? First you get all in my business with an employee with whom I’m facing a legal issue. You didn’t know her. In fact, you don’t know me. And now this? Let me get on my soapbox: screw you. With friends like you….I dump them and get new friends.”

Willis

Side note: you’re narcissistic, self-promoting, and you’re not British, so drop the fake “apologise.””

     So let’s delve into this, shall we, Ms. Willis? First, you asked this of me;

“Did you seriously write an article on your blog targeting my site? With a screenshot of the Facebook post from my site?”

     The answer to your first question is no. I did not write an article on my weblog for the purpose of “targeting your site.” I wrote my article as a refutation of one article at Liberal America, and not Liberal America on the whole. As to your second question, yes. I employed the use of a screenshot, from my own newsfeed, which referenced the article in question. (It’s fair use, and perfectly acceptable.) You went on to inquire:

“And the phrase “certain publications”?”

     Yes, I employed the phrase you mention, not only with regards to Liberal America, but also publications on the opposite end of the political spectrum. Had you read my article thoroughly and objectively, you may have noted that.

“And call me partisan media? Which we are, unabashedly biased. Hence our name.”

     Very well, since you just so much as admitted to being partisan, then I fail to see why you should be up in arms regarding my assessment. In addition, I did not call you “partisan media,” I referred to your website thusly. I had no idea that you and your website were the same entity. (Ms. Willis, you are not merely your website. The sooner you reach that epiphany, the easier your lot in life will become.)

“And called it a “spin”?”

     Absolutely. What would you call an article with a misleading title, meant to incite bias? Is that not “spin”? I’ve witnessed this enough from Faux News, to recognise it when I see it from publications on the opposite end of the spectrum. It should be noted that I referred to the article as “spin,” and not the site itself.

“Can you not give your opinion – however stupid it may be – without smearing a friend’s website?”

     So now it gets personal. So now, my own opinions are “stupid.” That, Ms. Willis, is an immature, cheap shot. Again, and I’m tiring of saying this, I wasn’t out to “smear your website,” I published a rebuttal to one piece.

“First you get all in my business with an employee with whom I’m facing a legal issue. You didn’t know her. In fact, you don’t know me.”

     Since you went there, then by all means, let’s go there. The information that I was made privy to, came from Ms. Smith. At no time at all, did I dig into your business. If calling one of your writers a “dumb bitch” in Facebook chat is your method of engaging in “business,” I would seriously look into changing my business model, if it ’twere me. In addition to that, I would not be referring to my stable of writers as “employees.” They’re the “talent.” They’re the ones who are fueling the Liberal America vehicle with the gas of articles, and making it go. Heaven forbid that they should walk en masse, then your fledgling endeavor would cease to be. While you are “Gene, Gene,” they are “Jo, Jo.” Don’t become “Art, Art.”

“And now this? Let me get on my soapbox: screw you. With friends like you….I dump them and get new friends.”

     Ms. Willis, I had no idea that you were this thinly skinned, or I might have approached my rebuttal even more gingerly than I believe I did. As for “screwing me,” while I’m flattered by the offer, I’m afraid I must refuse. As to the “unfriending,” that I cannot prevent, and Godspeed. Then again, you couldn’t simply leave it at that, could you? It seems that you added a…what did you call it?

“Side note: you’re narcissistic, self-promoting, and you’re not British, so drop the fake “apologise.””

     You will find no sidenotes here, only mainline responses. I’m narcissistic? I took a little impromptu poll, and the consensus is that no, I’m not. Self-promoting? Sure, no one else is going to promote me, so I might as well. As for the cultural requirement that you’ve placed upon my spelling, who in the blue, bloody hell are you to tell me how to spell “apologise”? I am, in point of fact, part English. I’m also 1/2 Hispanic, 1/4 Dutch, and a mix of Scots-Irish and English. The refinements that I employ when I write are my own, and you are in absolutely no position to presume to dictate to me when and where to employ them.

     Ms. Willis, if you were under the impression that I would sit by, in silent acquiescence of your invective-laced, “third degree” personal attack, then I regret (meh, not so much) to inform you that you were, putting this in Halloween terms, “frightfully” mistaken.

“If you think I’ll sit around while you chip away my brain,
Listen I ain’t foolin’ and you’d better think again.
Out there is a fortune waitin’ to be had,
You think I’ll let it go, you’re mad…
You got another thing comin’.”
(Judas Priest, ©1982, Columbia Records.)

Domestic Politics: Shutdown, Showdown and Who Pays The Price (With Videos!)

A Washingtonian Stand-off.

A Washingtonian Stand-off.

TLDR ADVISORY: This article exceeds 1,000 words, and may be lengthy for some readers, including Speaker Boehner and Congressman Cantor.

     Ah, Sunday. It’s a day filled with things like church, football, household chores and relaxation. There is however, an undercurrent of anxiety that has punctuated the last few Sundays on the calendar, at least for some. As we transit into week three of the government shutdown, its effects and implications are beginning to be noticed by more and more Americans. The political landscape has become further divided, and tempers are running a bit higher among both participants on Capitol Hill and those watching from the sidelines.

     As the increasing toll of the impasse in our nation’s capital becomes more apparent, one is led to wonder; just who is to blame for this quagmire? What factors contributed to this situation, and how did we get here? Who and what are being affected by the shutdown? My fine, young readers, please allow me to present a few facts and figures that may help answer these questions, starting with…

What Led Up To The Shutdown – A Tale of Two Houses

Charlie Rangel (D-NY)

Charlie Rangel (D-NY)

     On September 17th, 2009, Congressman Charles Rangel (D-NY) introduced a bill on the floor of the then-Democrat-controlled House, initially entitled, “Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009.” This bill (the initial HR 3590 (PDF)) was considered by the Ways and Means committee, and subsequently passed the House by a 416-0 vote. (1) In other words, this bill contained language so “warm and fuzzy,” that even Tea Party-affiliated Republican representatives could get behind it! So the bill proceeded, like all bills usually do, to the Senate. The Senate, in turn, gutted Rangel’s existing bill, and filled the container with the rough language that would eventually become PPACA. This new bill, rechristened as the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” (PDF) was voted on and passed by a slim majority in the Democrat-controlled Senate on December 24th, 2009, and this “Christmas present” was sent back to the House. (2)

     I think it would be fair to say that at this point in the tale, the House Republicans were feeling a bit dyspeptic over what they considered a “bamboozling.” Who can forget the dramatic diatribe of Ohio representative John Boehner, during the final hours of the House’s consideration of HR 3590;

     Regardless, the bill was passed by the House on March 21st, 2010, by a narrow 219-212 vote, mostly along party lines. (3) (It should be noted that 34 House Democrats also voted against the passage of PPACA at the time.) It was during this time, that the seeds of the current shutdown were first planted in the political soils of the capital.

     In the fall of 2010, several Democrats lost seats in the House to Republicans, and as a result, John Boehner, the distinguished gentleman from Ohio, was minted as the 61st Speaker of a now-Republican-controlled House of Representatives, on January 5th, 2011. The balance of power…had shifted. Since then, GOP pols have stated, sometimes openly, that they would do whatever they could to kill this “bane of their existence,” this monster, nicknamed “Obama-Care,” up to and including, if necessary, forcing a government shutdown.

Eric Cantor (R-VA)

Eric Cantor (R-VA)

     Flash forward to the fall of 2013. The GOP-controlled house now found itself in “planning mode” for two upcoming events; the end of FY-2013, and the start of open enrollment in the new health care exchanges of PPACA, both of which would be happening at the same time, October 1st. At some point, perhaps even as far back as January of 2011, a plan was hatched by the GOP leadership, to force the hand of the President and Democrats to make concessions that would either defund or delay the implementation of PPACA, by means of the threat of shutting down the government. (4)

     On September 20th of this year, House Republicans began their offensive in earnest, by inserting language into House Joint Resolution 59, the “Continuing Appropriations Resolution,” that would rob PPACA of all federal funding;

SEC. 137. (a) IN GENERAL.—Notwithstanding any
22 other provision of law, no Federal funds shall be made
23 available to carry out any provisions of the Patient Protec
24 tion and Affordable Care Act (Public Law 111–148) or
25 title I and subtitle B of title II of the Health Care and
1 Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (Public Law 111–
2 152), or of the amendments made by either such Act.

     Having “engrossed and passed” this altered version of the continuing resolution, the House sent it back to the Senate, and so began a series of back-and-forth volleys between the two houses of congress; the Senate rejecting the House changes and sending a “clean CR” back to the House, and the House inserting the language to defund or cripple PPACA, and sending it back to the Senate. Round and round they went, right up to the midnight, September 30th deadline for passing the CR. With one final, evening push of the altered bill, (5) and its subsequent tabling by the Senate, (6) the “Partial Government Shutdown of 2013” was fait accompli.

     Now, there’s a catch to this story, my fine young readers! In the early morning (01:10 A.M.) hours of October 1st, another House Resolution, HR 368, was passed by the House. (7) It contained the following language:

SEC. 2. Any motion pursuant to clause 4 of rule XXII
relating to House Joint Resolution 59 may be offered only by
the Majority Leader or his designee.

     What this basically means, is that only Eric Cantor (R-VA) or whoever he picks as his designee, can put forth a motion that would adopt a clean version of the CR, and end the shutdown. In the following video clip, House Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) draws attention to this change in established House rules, as they apply to HJ Res 59:

Government Functions Grind To A Halt – The Rising Toll

     During the past two weeks, the news reports have been replete with stories of national parks being closed, memorials being barricaded, offices being shuttered and thousands of federal employees being furloughed, but that’s only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The government shutdown is also having a “trickle-down” effect on other industries and recreational activities, such as:

  • Private Security companies – Cannot run federal background checks on prospective employees, due to the closure of those offices.
  • Local lakes – Hensley Lake in the Central California foothills, which is NOT a national park, but run by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, has been closed. Other state lakes have also met this fate during the current shutdown.
  • Deadliest Catch – Captain Keith Colburn testified before the Senate on Friday, regarding the shutdown’s impact on fisheries in the Pacific Northwest;

     This week will see the second deadline in this drama; on Thursday, our government will “hit the debt ceiling,” meaning that unless a deal is reached on the passage of any bill that would continue to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling, we will automatically default on our debts, which will impact the economies of other nations worldwide. Applying their own typical spin, China’s Xinhua news published an op/ed this morning, commenting on this situation while calling for a more “de-Americanized” world. (8)

     Ladies and Gentlemen, I will leave it to you to decide who bears the ultimate blame for the mess we’re in, and to opine on how we might extricate ourselves from it.

__________________________________________________

For another interesting view of this ongoing imbroglio, please see the following article by the fine folks at Liberal America:

Republican Shutdown 101: The Definitive Guide,” by Liberal America writer Amanda Fleming.

Life and Living: What Makes Bad Words…Bad?

RRated Language

CAUTIONThe following article addresses the use of language that some may consider foul or coarse, and includes words to that effect. Readers who possess strong reservations against this type of language are advised to proceed with discretion.

TLDR ADVISORY: This article exceeds 1,000 words, and may be lengthy for some readers.

     My father is a church board member. He attends services most every Sunday, and is an upstanding member of the community. At home, he does his very best to live his life accordingly, the way that he believes that God would want him to. I love my father very much.

     That being said, I do have a slight issue with his restrictiveness of my speech freedoms whenever I’m down visiting. I am a former soldier, and as most people know, soldiers tend to pick up quite a bit of “colorful language” along the way. As a result, sometimes I slip and give utterance to words that my father doesn’t necessarily appreciate; and of course, he’s quick on the trigger with the “hey, language,” or “watch your mouth” retort. So, I started wondering; what exactly is it that makes “bad words” bad?

     Now, up to this point in my musings on and forays into the human condition here at The Cybersattva, I have done my level best to do so without resorting to using language that some would deem “profane” or “coarse,” words that one would normally hear in another setting, such as a bar or a pool hall. The “F” word, the “S” word, the “P” word and the “B” word are nigh present as of this article. I find myself wondering, for the sake of the article itself, if I should include them…

     What makes bad words bad? Is it the words themselves? Let’s look at a few, starting with the venerable George Carlin’s list of the “Seven Dirty Words You Can’t Say on Television.” (For those of you who are absolutely averse to “coarse language” of any sort, now would be the time to go browse for nice pictures of cats or flowers.) These words are:

  • Shit
  • Piss
  • Fuck
  • Cunt
  • Cocksucker
  • Motherfucker
  • Tits

     Does anyone besides myself notice a pattern forming? If one considers the generally accepted definitions of these “cuss words” and others, they will begin to note that almost 95 percent of them describe functions relating to, or parts of the human anatomy and human sexuality. Then there are words such as;

  • Bitch
  • Bastard

     These are words used to disparage a person directly, although they also have more acceptable uses within the English language. For instance, a bitch is the proper term for a Canine female, and a bastard is a male child born out of wedlock. These types of words make up about four percent of the “cuss word pie.” The other one percent is taken up by words such as “damn” and “hell,” which are words with a decidedly negative religious connotation.

     What makes bad words bad? Is it their intended effect or contextual use? If I stand up before leaving my parents’ house and say, “Well, it’s time to get my shit together so I can get on the road,” is the word “shit” within the context of the previous sentence, still a “bad word”? What I’ve done there is use the word “shit” as a synonym for the word “stuff” or “items”. Now, I know some people who purposefully use words that are considered profane, purely for their “shock value”. However, if that was not my intent, why would it still be a “bad word”?

     Is it how others perceive what we are saying? If you did not speak or write even a blip of English, and I walked up to you on the street and said, “Hey! How the fuck are you doing?” and shook your hand, you would only know that I was greeting you, and would do your best to respond in kind, with no offense taken. If on the other hand, you do understand the English language fairly well, you might or might not be offended, depending on what context you apply to what I’ve just said. In other words, exactly how much of the onus for offense lies with the offended person, if any at all?

     What makes bad words bad? Why are they collectively referred to as “profanity”? Let’s stop for just a second, and examine the definition of the word “profane”:

pro·fane  /prəˈfān,prō-/
adjective:
1. relating or devoted to that which is not sacred or biblical; secular rather than religious.
2. (of a person or their behavior) not respectful of orthodox religious practice; irreverent.
verb:
1. treat (something sacred) with irreverence or disrespect.

     Once again, we see religion’s influence on society, specifically how the expression of thoughts and ideas through language is measured against a sense of what is “holy” or “sacred”.

     There are also words (and please forgive me ahead of time for committing these words to electronic media!) that have been used throughout history to disparage select groups of people, words used to discriminate;

  • Nigger
  • Spick
  • Wop
  • Chink
  • Chin
  • Dago
  • Raghead
  • Kike

     These and similar “racial epithets” have varying degrees of conversational acceptability, depending on the company one keeps. I even know people who are perfectly comfortable using a racial epithet, but cringe at words such as “fuck” and “shit”, regardless of their contextual use. (If you ask me, no racial epithet is acceptable at anytime.)

     Gets you thinking, doesn’t it? In my own, not-so-humble opinion, we should all give a lot more thought to the words we use, and how we use them. What does our vocabulary say to others about us? How does it convey what kind of person we are, our upbringing, our value system and our level of consideration for our fellow life travelers? Within this respect, there are words which should be considered far worse for use than words such as “bitch” or “fuck”;

  • Idiot
  • Dummy
  • Retard (or any of its politically-motivated variants!)
  • Stupid
  • Moron

     To what degree do we value our fellow human beings? The words listed above are used primarily to demean another’s intelligence. Other words, such as “ugly” or “fat” are used to demean appearance. Shouldn’t those words be considered equally as unacceptable as the original seven? What does it say about us as a society, or individuals, when we have no problems calling someone a “dummy”, but cringe whenever someone says the word “fuck”? What does that say about our value system?

     I’ll close with this thought; be excellent to each other. Communicate better with each other, and use your words meaningfully!

Space and Science: Alone, Are We

In the absence of new material, I thought I’d try reblogging a few articles…

The Cybersattva

     TLDR ADVISORY:This article exceeds 1,000 words, and may be lengthy for some readers.

     Ah, the title. The title, the title the title. See, whenever I compose one of these pieces, I endeavor to come up with a catchy title, in the hopes of snaring those few extra readers by virtue of the title’s interesting nature. In this case, I drew upon the downwards, backside-up-speak of the venerable Yoda. Depending upon both the order of these three small words and the placement of punctuation marks, the title can become a question…or a statement. As to how these three words should read, that all depends on who you ask.

     There seem to be not one, not two, but three major schools of thought on the subject of whether we are alone in the universe. The fundamental, religious types will tell you that, since God created the heavens and…

View original post 914 more words

Faith and Religion: Under Siege III – Soft Targets

Todd Starnes: Defender of His faith...

Todd Starnes: Defender of His faith…

TLDR ADVISORY: This article exceeds 1,000 words, and may be lengthy for some readers, including Todd Starnes.

     A few articles back, I mused about how some people “of faith” insist on whipping out the victim card whenever their faith, or their actions performed in the name of their faith are questioned. In “Of Faith and Friendship“, I opined that;

It saddens me, more than anything else, that so many people of faith these days insist on wearing the “victim here!” shirt. (Then again, the constant shaming and ridicule by some of the atheistic factions of society can’t be helping that situation either, can it?)

     Last night, I came across an article by Todd Starnes, a contributor to the conservative Fox News site. The title of the piece, “NBC Declares War on Christians” should give you a good idea of what the crux of the article is about, and what one should expect to be reading in the 571 words that follow the title. (Only 571 words, Todd? I dedicated over 1k words to my assail of Faizan Syed and Sharia! You’re dozing on the job, Todd!) Todd’s sensibilities were offended evidently, by a recently aired SNL skit entitled “Djesus Uncrossed”, in which a resurrected Christ equipped with guns, takes bloody revenge on his Roman-era detractors and assailants. He (Starnes) even takes a quick-op to ensnare Catholic readers in particular into his mindset, by noting that the brazenly sacrilegious skit aired a mere “three days after Ash Wednesday.” Starnes goes on to explain the reasons why he feels that the offense of Christians and Christianity “is apparently what passes for entertainment these days.” (1)

     Ladies and gentlemen, I find myself in a number of quandaries over this one, not only due to my own closely-held beliefs, but also due to the myriad of statements and actions of those who claim to be “Christians” that have caused justifiable scorn and ridicule in the media. So, what I’m going to attempt to do here is to refute Starnes ammodum, while at the same time explaining just why it is that not only Atheists, but also many of us who still believe yet no longer identify as “Christians”, are so utterly disgusted with what evangelical and fundamental Christians are doing to discredit the name and outward image of Christianity. Therefore, I open my salvo with a question; would Todd enjoy some cheese with his cup of whine? Perhaps a nice brie, or a tasty gouda?

     ~ Todd Starnes is the author of a book entitled, “Dispatches from Bitter America: A Gun Toting, Chicken Eating Son of a Baptist’s Culture War Stories”. (2) Since Starnes is a self-avowed carrier of a weapon primarily purposed to inflict bodily injury and death, I fail to understand just why he should be so incensed at the image of his chosen deity, armed with and using the same types of devices. Sauce for the goose, Todd. Sauce for the goose.

     ~ Starnes makes mention of a recent article by Rick Chandler, a blogger in the employ of NBC Sports. Chandler’s article, which Todd refers to as a “scathing smear” and a “hit piece”, was critical of New York Jets QB Tim Tebow’s planned speaking engagement at the First Baptist Church, of Dallas, Texas. (3) It seems that the pastor of the Dallas area megachurch, one Robert Jeffress, has been using his pulpit to attack everything from marriage equality and homosexuality, to Mormonism, Buddhism, Catholicism and Islam. For example, during a 2008 series of sermons entitled “Gay Is Not OK”, he made the statement that;

“What they [homosexuals] do is filthy. It is so degrading that it is beyond description. And it is their filthy behavior that explains why they are so much more prone to disease.” (4)

     Evidently, Starnes agrees with these types of statements against the LGBT community, otherwise why would he jump so quickly to the defense of the megachurch and its pastor? What Jeffress, and by extension Starnes fail to understand is that it is possible to be gay, and not engage in sexual activity. In addition, why is it that evangelicals and fundamentalists are so focused on gay sex? Are their own sex lives so uneventful or “plain brown wrapper” that they have to concentrate their mental energies on the nookie that gay people are having? Oh, and one more thing; gay people are no more or less prone to infectious diseases worldwide than straight people. (It’s important to note also, that Tebow cancelled his speaking engagement at First Baptist Dallas after being informed of the nature of the pastor’s and the church’s beliefs and recent declarations. (5))

     ~ Starnes quotes Southern Baptist Convention spokesman Sing Oldham, who expressed the following sentiment;

“It’s open season on those who profess personal faith in Jesus Christ and pattern their lives by biblical morality,” he said. “Evangelical Christians are treated with contempt and targeted for ridicule.”

     Ugh, open season. No Sing, it’s “open season” on those who would seek to deny equal rights under law to every single American, regardless of race, creed, religion, sexual preference or gender identification. It’s “open season” on people like Trinity Broadcasting Network’s Pat Robertson, who “profess personal faith in Jesus Christ”, and then suggest things like leaving a spouse with Alzheimer’s. It’s “open season” on institutions like San Diego Christian College, who profess those high Christian values, but then fail miserably at such basic Christian things as forgiveness. (6) In other words, it’s open season on religious hypocrisy. The folks at NBC realise that people are fed up with the seeming “double standard” that the evangelicals and fundies have continued to display, again and again, and again, and again…ad nauseum.

     ~ Todd goes on to mention that NBC medical editor Nancy Snyderman, while appearing on the “Today” show, denounced religion as being a part of Christmas. He quotes Snyderman as having stated;

“I don’t like the religion part,” said Snyderman. “I think religion is what mucks the whole thing up.”

     Todd then makes the assumption that “The “religion” she was referring to is celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.” I however, don’t think so. I think what Snyderman was trying to convey was the same idea that I have expressed time and again; that while faith is a good thing, “religion” has throughout the course of history, mucked things up more often than not. It has caused deep divisions in society, pitted brother against brother and son against father. Religion has the propensity to be taken to extremes rather easily, as evinced by events such as 9-11 in the case of Islam, the tumultuous reign of “Bloody Mary” in 1550’s England and the “Rule of The Saints” in Covenanter-era Scotland.

     Wow, we’re already over 1,000 words into it here, so I’d better make my point, huh? My point is that evangelicals and fundies are making themselves soft targets, by engaging in behaviors that are widely viewed as antithetical to what being a “Christian” is all about. It’s laughable to the point of sheer irony, that Todd has the temerity to play on the sympathies of Catholics, then jump to the defense of a pastor that has referred to Catholicism as the result of “the Babylonian mystery religion” and being representative of “the genius of Satan.” (7) Todd Starnes is trying to play as multiple pieces on the chessboard, when in actuality he’s just another pawn.

     Todd would definitely refer to this article as yet another “hit piece”. Okay, sure. Yabetcha.

American Rhetoric: Sharia. Sure. Yabetcha.

Never gonna happen, Cap'n!

Never gonna happen, Cap’n!

TLDR ADVISORY: This article exceeds 1,000 words, and may be lengthy for some readers.

     There are certain elements amongst us, certain persons and groups with dangerous agendas. Agendas that, if carried to fruition, would see the very freedoms that we currently enjoy taken from us. This has been made crystal clear to me, especially within the past few hours. It all started with a Facebook post. (Doesn’t it always these days?)

     One of my Facebook friends had commented on an article post. Now, I can’t find the post in newsfeeds again, but I did have the presence of mind to bookmark the article itself. The website “Bare Naked Islam” posted an article today, in which they allege that CAIR-Missouri director Faizan Syed “wants people who insult Islam on the internet to be punished under Sharia law.” I immediately questioned this as what I thought was just so much neo-conservative, anti-Muslim fearmongering. So, I went and read the article on the website. (1)

     Hold on a few minutes, let me back up and elaborate a bit on who and what “CAIR” is, for those who don’t know. It stands for the “Council on American-Islamic Relations”, and is headquartered in Washington D.C., with regional offices in various places around the country. Their stated aim is to “enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding”. In addition, their stated core principles include the following;

  • “CAIR supports free enterprise, freedom of religion and freedom of expression.”
  • “CAIR is committed to protecting the civil rights of all Americans, regardless of faith.”
  • “CAIR supports domestic policies that promote civil rights, diversity and freedom of religion.”
  • “CAIR opposes domestic policies that limit civil rights, permit racial, ethnic or religious profiling, infringe on due process, or that prevent Muslims and others from participating fully in American civic life.”
  • “CAIR is a natural ally of groups, religious or secular, that advocate justice and human rights in America and around the world.” (2)

     The article at “Bare Naked Islam” explains how the director of the St. Louis, Missouri branch of CAIR, Faizan Syed, has outlined his suggestions for addressing and controlling what he refers to as “anti-Islamic and anti-Muslim content on the internet”, suggesting the necessary formation of a youth-based group that would monitor social media. According to the article, Mr. Syed believes that Islamic “Sharia Law” should be introduced and applied to the American justice system. (1)

     Again, I initially took this as right-wing rhetoric, but decided to do my customary “internet datamining” to determine the truth of the matter for myself. What I discovered absolutely floored me! It seems that the folks at BNI are telling the truth! (At this point, it’s important to understand that so many of the things that the neo-conservatives are positing these days are slathered with lies and half-truths, so when something this starkly honest comes to the fore, it’s a true surprise!) By following the links and doing some google searches, I arrived at the CAIR-Missouri website, where I was able to read Mr. Syed’s original post, replete with grammatical errors. (3) (It should be noted that as of 21 Feb 2013, this link has been removed from the CAIR-MISSOURI website.) In the article, Syed makes the following suggestions;

  • An association of Muslim Youth should be created, they be trained in media monitoring and response and in media relations (See above link of Jewish organization for further details)
  • These Youth should be encouraged to be passionate, aggressive and prompt in their responses.
  • There need at least one such team in every country (I know it’s a daunting taks, but one small steps takes us to bigger one)
  • They should coordinate with other Muslim youth operating in different countries.
  • Report anti Islamic and anti Muslim content on the internet to appropriate authorities to take action to remove it and go after those who post it online and prosecute and take actions according to the Shariah ruling. (Emphasis added.)
  • Highlight the inconsistencies of the mainstream media and spread it across the web using social networking and all other platforms available to us.
  • Highlight the bias of media in reporting issues pertaining to Islam and Muslims
  • Write to editors and journalist reporting on Islam and on Muslim issues (Believe it does have an impact)
  • Send mass emails out promptly urging Muslims to respond on news reports that is bias and anti Islamic in nature to the editors and journalist and TV anchors.
  • Promote books, documentaries, movies that is of beneficial to the Muslim youth.

     Now, a lot of these are noble ideas, but there is one in particular that would seem to run contrary to the very concept of the laws and principles that our nation was founded upon; the United States Constitution. Not only that, but it also seems to directly contradict CAIR’s stated aims! So, either CAIR is lying about their aims, or they would appear to have a renegade director.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
(Amendment I, Constitution of the United States of America.)

     [SOAPBOX=ON. IT IS SO ON.] When I swore my oath of enlistment in the United States Army back in March of 2000, I swore to “defend the constitution against all enemies; foreign and domestic.” Although I no longer serve actively, I still take that oath seriously. See, that same constitution guarantees my freedom to do what I do here; examine, comment, dissect, counter, dissent. If I think that someone’s religious views absolutely suck, then it is my right to state that opinion without fear of reprisals. What Mr. Faizan Syed is suggesting is a complete denial of those freedoms, in favor of the application of a set of laws based in a religious dogma…one that I don’t happen to adhere to. In my not-so-humble opinion, this is yet another example of how religion can become a danger to the good and proper maintenance of a free and democratic society.

     Sharia law is part of a religious doctrine. As such, any adoption of it by the justice system of this country would be blatantly unconstitutional. Mr. Syed wants Sharia in our courts, but I would ask him, “How does it feel to want?” It would appear that Mr. Faizan Syed is opposed to the constitution, and that would make him an enemy to it. And, as I have sworn to defend my country and its highest laws from these enemies, I am bound by honor and principle to respond to Mr. Syed’s attack on our freedoms;

Mr. Syed, I present to you; the "Single-digit Freedom Widget"!

Mr. Syed, I present to you; the “Single-digit Freedom Widget”!

     Mr. Syed, I will submit to Sharia the minute you go procreate…with yourself. Now, I hope you found that equally as offensive as I find your suggestion that my right to free speech be amended and / or denied by your proposed “task force”, and your proposed adoption of Sharia law by our courts. Mr. Syed, you and I both know full well, that the Sharia penalty for speech critical of or opposed to Islam…is death. I find your suggestion that my criticism of your religion be met with the deprivation of my very life, completely unacceptable. And, since this suggestion finds its basis in your chosen religion, I will close with the following sentiment, complete with the appropriately-dropped “F” bomb. With extreme prejudice: F – you, your “suggestions” and you can shove your Sharia…shall I “suggest” where?