Election 2016 – Final Thoughts



It’s been quite the year. And, all things considered, it seems like the mess may potentially not be over after November 2ed. All depending on if Trump remains consistent with his definition of a rigged election (a loss due to a majority of votes to the other candidates). But if there is ANY bright side or silver lining to this mess, it is the exposure element. It is changed and challenged all candidates. Or at least it has forever  challenged our perception of them. 

Let’s start with Hillary Clinton.

First off, a big part of this campaign cycle was the rise of Bernie Sanders. Though involved in all manor of politics since before I even existed, 2016 was the year he would make his biggest accomplishment. In this, the cycle of the underdog and grassroots candidate, he was the lefts manifestation (answer?) to years and years of cumulative frustration with business as usual. Though we don’t know what he would have been like in the oval office (if he would have kept his fire stoked, or let it go to a smolder alike Obama), he accomplished something far more important.

Despite being in a battle for the position of head Democrat, he did help to change his opponent by aligning her views more to the left. But more than that, he also kicked open the door for future progressive candidates. A benefit I hope to see in increasing maturity come future elections.

Getting back to Hillary Clinton, one can not talk about her rise from nominee to official candidate without acknowledging the funny business in between.


Bernie didn’t have a chance, with these odds. A fact that Donald Trump is never afraid to speak of. However hypocritical it is for him to be pointing out unlevel playing fields, given his past (more on that later). But how we got here, despite how questionable, is small potatoes now. Like it or not, at least this time around, Hillary Clinton is in the driver’s seat. As sweet as vengeance sounds, there are much bigger problems to overcome.

To look on the bright side, being forced to run against an alpha male windbag has had it’s benefits.

Being the first women in a typically male playground comes with huge disadvantages. Even if the competition is merely Trump, there is still an uphill battle against gender expectations (even if unconscious). One has to not just outperform your male opponent, but one also has to remain completely composed, no matter what transpires. Because the alternative, taking a page from Trump and being COMPLETELY honest about what he is, would only come to harm the big picture. While a male could be completely honest about Trump and not be viewed negatively, a women will be seen as bitchy, bossy, or emotional. The same thing that often dogs many women in positions of authority, everywhere. 

Knowing this, it’s no wonder the debates exhaust Clinton (as spoken of by Trump). It’s easy to be a willfully ignorant and easily triggered windbag. No effort at all. But it’s a hell of a workload to keep yourself totally composed in front of millions in the line of fire, as a matter of absolute necessity. I personally could not due it. Not that I would have to worry about it (since I have a penis). But that luxury (privilege?) is not available to females. 

Before you go thinking that this is strictly a pro Hillary statement interlaced with feminist SJW rhetoric, think again. It HAPPENS that the situation involves Donald Orangutan Trump and Hillary Clinton. But in reality, the formula would be similar with almost any other combination. Even if the male is NOT a pompous ass of a man, his campaign remains largely effortless. While the female has to not just be evenly or slightly intellectually superior, but EXTREMELY well read.

Having said that, this imbalance in evaluation based on gender is not all bad (believe it or not). While having a microscope on her back forced her to put much more effort forward than Trump, it only served to make her a better candidate. Not only did this process help her to bring more knowledge to the debates (and hopefully beyond), it also helped her to be more engaging to people generally. Very important in town hall type settings (where direct interaction counts).

While Hillary Clinton is no Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, I believe that her trials have made her a better candidate than she was even merely months ago.

Now, Donald Trump.

Though I have changed my mind on him a couple times in the months leading up to this point, it seems that the picture is clearer now. For awhile, being the man formerly had public views that could almost be labeled progressive, I thought that he may be acting as sort of a progressive Trojan horse in the Republican party. Apt to troll his way in, then create one hell of a ruckus once elected.

But that silly bout of wishful thinking is gone.

Good at coining viral (and quite destructive, despite being very simple) ad hominem memes like crooked Hillary and lyin Ted, they are ultimately hilarious coming from him, given his history. First off, are the charitable donations for the veterans. Formerly I praised him for doing something good in holding a charity gala rather than attending another Republican debate. But I would ultimately reverse that, knowing how little selflessness the man actually displayed. Then there are the thousands of contractors and employees fucked out of rightfully earned cash by the man (including some of his own campaign staffers!). And then there is the campaign itself . . . utilizing primarily Trump owned or connected venues and services. Which matters because he ends up becoming further enriched by funneling his own supporters donations into his financial grasp (or at least, his reach).

It’s the perfect scam. And as much as many Trump supporters annoy me, being that I know many tend to be in the lower rungs of the economic ladder, I feel bad for them. While even smaller donations for these people likley involve much effort, it’s toilet paper to PROVEN lyin Trump. His supporters break their back to prop up a candidate they feel is worthy, and he responds by sucking them dry BEFORE HE IS EVEN IN OFFICE! People talk about corrupt Hillary . . . NOTHING she has EVER done even comes CLOSE to this. Unfortunately, all of these ignorant Trump supporters could well make things interesting if Lyin Trump does what he says he will, and refuses to concede the election. I’m still not sure what to think of that. 

One thing is for sure . . . This election has brought a whole lot out into the open. Not only is it potentially historic for females, it COULD also be a turning point. Not just for people just starting into politics, but also for existing fixtures in various positions in politics. 

Dave Rubin (host of one of my favorite online shows The Rubin Report) lives by the mantra that is, the best way to fight bad ideas is to expose them to the spotlight. If we look at this in the context of this entire election, it is brilliantly accurate. 

Starting with Donald Trump. 

Despite running for president many times in the past (gotta love free advertising when the media hands it over without question), being under the spotlight as Republican candidate has severely damaged his image. Rather than hanging around the unchallenged depths of our minds as a business man and reality TV star, he was forced onto center stage. As was his long list of dirty laundry and shortcomings. While it’s debatable what will happen after the cameras go away, I suspect that the Trump brand and name may not ever be the same. 

For me personally, what happens to his business is irrelevant. What is more important, is that he will likley NEVER get taken seriously in politics ever again. The Trump tornado not only wrecked the RNC for the foreseeable future, but also his own house. But unlike the RNC (which will eventually figure it’s way out of this mess), I doubt Trump will ever fully mitigate his disaster. 

Another area of American politics that will likley under go  a shake up after this, are the alternatives. The Libertarian Party and The Green Party.

Though the horrendous choices in the main options finally ended up giving both underdogs more deserved publicity, their candidates to, have not weathered well. While both (like Trump) have typically never spent much time in the forefront of our minds, this election turned that around. Though involved in their respective parties for a long time, I doubt that will last now, being that their flaws have been clearly showcased to the electorate.

One has proven to be ignorant in many areas of importance to a potential president elect. And the other, while not an idiot, has proven far to open to embracing questionable conclusions and philosophies which at times border on the dangerous (such as enabling 9\11 truthers and anti-vaxxers). But really, as distressing as this election has been, it is not all bad. Though the silver lining may not be yet apparent, one has to look beyond decision 2016, maybe even decision 2020. 

Starting on the right.

The GOP is in tatters at this point. If things go as many figure they will progress, we may well have a Hillary Clinton landslide. Which should illustrate plainly, exactly what the RNC and the GOP need to do to survive. In an America with a rapidly changing demographic profile, what worked in the good ole days is no longer a gurentee. Whether or not this transitions into being beneficial for anyone outside the RNC\GOP is questionable. But we hopefully will be hard pressed to find another Trump in this situation.

Though the DNC\Democratic Party stands to benefit from the fall of the GOP in the short term, they can not let their guard down either. This election has shown just how much people dislike the system. If the Democrats are bleeding NOW, imagine what will happen when the GOP gets its act together!

And, the Greens and the Libratrians. While both were highly regarded this time around, imagine what it would be like if they had COMPETENT candidates. Candidates that AS A RULE, were more than just annoyed protest votes.

Bernie may be out of the race (and may never make presidency in his lifetime), but his inspirational movement still lives on. We will, with luck, see the fruits of this in up coming years. But in the meantime, it’s as good a time as any for ALL entities to do some house cleaning.

Posted in American, Opinion, Political | Leave a comment

…Did The CDC Silence A Vaccine Malpractice Whistleblower? – The Answer May Not Surprise You

​Yep. You read that correctly. 


Today I will look into a piece that makes some startling allegations. 

Let us begin.

Thomas Frieden, the director of the Center for Disease Control (CDC), has blocked CDC whistleblower, Dr. William Thompson, from testifying on scientific fraud and destruction of evidence by senior CDC officials in critical vaccine safety studies regarding the causative relationship between childhood vaccines and autism. 

My eyebrow is raised. 

Attorneys Bryan Smith and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., of Morgan & Morgan, have been seeking to have Dr. Thompson testify in a medical malpractice case to explain how the CDC committed scientific fraud in a series of studies, which found no link between vaccines and autism.

In denying the request, Dr. Frieden said, “Dr. William Thompson’s deposition testimony would not substantially promote the objectives of CDC or HHS [Health and Human Services].”

Dr. Thompson, a 19-year veteran at the CDC and former senior vaccine safety scientist at the agency’s Immunology Safety Office, is the co-author of four key studies that the CDC widely touts to exonerate the MMR vaccine and vaccines containing the mercury-based preservative thimerosal, from being linked to autism. Thompson is currently employed at the CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention.

I am listening. 

He is employed by the very organization that he is claiming gagged him? Also interesting.

Dr. Thompson, a 19-year veteran at the CDC and former senior vaccine safety scientist at the agency’s Immunology Safety Office, is the co-author of four key studies that the CDC widely touts to exonerate the MMR vaccine and vaccines containing the mercury-based preservative thimerosal, from being linked to autism. Thompson is currently employed at the CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention.

In August 2014, Dr. Thompson revealed that the data underlying CDC’s principle vaccine safety studies demonstrated a causal link between vaccines and autism or autism symptoms, despite CDC’s claims to the contrary. According to Thompson, based upon interpretation of the data, “There is biologic plausibility right now to say that thimerosal causes autism-like features.” Dr. Thompson invoked federal whistleblower protection in August 2014. 

A casual link. What exactly does that mean? 

This apparently:


r. William Thompson is listed as author or co-author on the principal studies—Thompson, et al. 2007, Price, et al. 2010, Destefano, et al. 2004—most widely cited to “debunk” the link between autism and vaccines. Thompson said that his bosses, including the CDC’s Immunization Safety Office Branch Chief Frank Destefano, specifically ordered him and three other CDC scientists to destroy data demonstrating vaccine induced autism in CDC’s seminal 2004 study—Destefano, et al. 2004. The data unexpectedly showed a 250 percent increase in autism among young black males who received the vaccine on time—before their third birthday—compared to those who waited until after their third birthday. The data also showed a significant link between the vaccine and isolated autism (autism in normally developing children with no other medical problems), the kind suffered by Yates Hazlehurst, who is mentioned below. According to Thompson, Destefano called his four co-authors into a room and ordered them to dump the damning datasets into a giant garbage can. The published study omitted those data sets. That study, now cited in 91 subsequent papers on PubMed as proof of vaccine safety, is the principle foundation stone of the theology that vaccines don’t cause autism.

In a series of taped statements, a deposition to Congressman William Posey of Florida and in statements issued through his personal attorney, Thompson confirmed that the data underlying the seminal 2004 Atlanta study, Destefano, et al. 2004, showed a causal association between MMR and autism for both African-American boys and for children suffering isolated autism. Thompson also asserted that CDC’s leading thimerosal studies, rather than demonstrating thimerosal’s safety, have consistently showed a causal relationship between thimerosal and tics, a family of grave neurological injuries that are a well-established feature of autism.

That should be about enough. Let’s begin.

I will first utilize a piece from Forbes.


I won’t quote the piece, but I recommend all give it a quick read. According to the article, it seems that the issue is the CDC (Well, the studies author’s)  removing data about a cohort of African American children showing positive correlations of having developed autism VIA the vaccine. He is quoted (in Congress!) in saying that a big garbage can was literally brought in and all associated documents were discarded. Though (quite conveniently) Thompson himself allegedly held onto hard copies and digital versions of related documents. Though he release until 2014 apparently. 

All the studies other authors (but 1) remain at the CDC, none of which have commented but for one made on their behalf by the CDC (essentially No Comment). I suspect they were dragged just as unwillingly into this mess as the CDC was. 

Some background aside, lets get to some meat.

The result was a truly incompetently performed “reanalysis” of DeStefano et al purporting to show a 3.4-fold increased risk of autism attributable to MMR vaccination in African American boys. Of course, it showed nothing of the sort, and Hooker’s paper was later retracted 


Retracted? Yep.

The Editor and Publisher regretfully retract the article [1] as there were undeclared competing interests on the part of the author which compromised the peer review process. Furthermore, post-publication peer review raised concerns about the validity of the methods and statistical analysis, therefore the Editors no longer have confidence in the soundness of the findings. We apologise to all affected parties for the inconvenience caused.


That about covers it, ide say.

Ecowatch recycled an old story from 1 and 2 years past as news (judging by the date of publication of many of these sources). And it turned out to be a banquet of bullshit. Nothing new really, considering the source. But going against vaccination now? 

GMO and Biotech propaganda is one thing. Potentially turning the ignorant against life saving technology is quite another. 


Posted in Alternative Media Criticisms, Opinion | Leave a comment

What Is A Social Justice Warrior?

Though it is a  fairly new term (popularized in recent years anyway), I doubt there are many others that evoke the same reaction that is often associated with being labeled a social justice warrier, or SJW. Some take pride in and willingly accept the designation. Others cringe at the thought of being a part of THAT crowd. I have even been labeled an SJW myself, by a white supremest / Nationalist that didn’t like where my research into a collective called the European Brotherhood ended up. Which is fine by me, really. If posting information I find though online digging makes me an SJW or a Goebbels level propagandist, I am not insulted by it. In fact, it makes me smile, knowing that I apparently hit a nerve. 

But my foray into the topic of immigration (coincidentally, just months before the Syrian refugee crisis blew up worldwide) is an aside. Today’s topic is far more controversial (at least in some circles). 

What is a Social Justice Warrior/SJW?

Going into this with an eye on the relevant online scene for the last while, I already have my biases. One of the first things to come to mind is feminism, followed closely by Black Lives Matter. The associated label turned pejorative progressive also comes to mind. As does the term regressive, as coined by the alt left and picked up by the now widely known alt right. 

It’s all a real mess. And it’s why the right has walked all over the left for decades. 

Anyway, that is how I perceive the term at present. As a pejorative that is almost gurenteed to stir up any conversational pot it’s thrown into. But is it more than that? Perhaps, a term that started out as neutral or positive, but evolved into the insult it is today?

Naturally, a quick query has brought up a mixed bag of answers to my question. And some imagry.

And just for fun . . .

I used a mixture of memes from the left \ alt left and the right \ alt right because that is where most of the conversation about SJW’s originates. As for how the term is defined, that is also interesting. And varying. 

Wikipedia and numerous other generally impartial sources tend to define it as some paraphrased form of this definition:


Places that are less impartial (or that are more controlled by external edits) tend to have a very different definition however. The paraphrased form also varies, but it generally ends up something like this:

So . . . what is a social justice warrier? Many things, it would seem. 

Like the femenists, racial equitists and many other groups that often self identify overlaping into this catagory, most likley have good intentions. People that not just  wish for a better world for all, but also people that are not afraid to speak their minds. Be that be in the context of the internet, or in the real world.

Because this is the internet age, the entire SJW catagory is also primarily identified publicly by its most attention grabing elements. Many of which also overlap into other ideological catagories (these days, most commonly famenism or Black Lives Matter). The media mantra was once if it bleeds, it leads. Now it has evolved into if it clicks, it sticksThough social media in itself is bad enough for breeding closed minded ideology in any number of groups, the ability to share videos has only made things worse. Nuance and intellectual understanding of a given topic does not click. However, stuff like this does. 

And because few people (it seems) are able to truly embrace what nuance (or almost ANY  intellectual buzzwords really!) truly mean, you have ideological opposition croping up that seems to be based only on the loudest facets of a sect of ideologues. A great example that comes to mind is Milo Yiannopoulos’s increasing fanbase of famenist critics and anti-SJWs. Though they call out SJW femenists for things like not being open to debate or new ideas, they themselves often display little use for nuance. My favorite example is this video, filmed at a Milo speech event. 

The fellow (similar to someone I know within the realm of academia)  seemed to be on the same ground as the group in some respects, but he had one big disagreement. He felt that Milo (and the rest of the people of his mindset) didn’t fully understand what they were critiquing. Given limited exposure to academic femenist teachings, I agree. 

When confronted with this, rather than explore this new avenue of information, the room choose to disregard it. Choose to dismiss a gender studies course, and even a visit to a youtube channel. One commenter in the above video even claimed that the actions of the room didn’t involve free speech because the man was advertising his youtube channel. 

1.) Almost no one (it seems) has any understanding of free speech. Certainly not its most volcal promoters, most sitting at the absolutist edge of the debate. 

But no, his right to free speech was not infringed. 


2.) HOWEVER, if I view this from a perspective typical of the types that are always on about free speech and censorship, then I can find hypocrisy in the actions of the audience. 

The man was invited in to speak his piece, even interupted once. But when it came to actually making his point, the audience would not hear of it.

Sure, he didn’t present anything at the time, granted. But I also understand why.  To understand femenism (femenist theory?) at an intellectual level involves nuance beyond which is representable in simple point form. Something that a gender studies course would likley clear up. Or if not inclined to go that route, something likley explored in the youtube series. 

3.) To the commenter that sidestepped the censorship claim by calling it advertising . . . no idiot, he was not advertising. He was presenting materials for the audience to explore. Materials of which  they cast aside unseen. 

If the advertising comment was due to a possibility of the videos being monetized . . . who cares?! Many other youtubers monetize anti-SJW and Anti-femenist material all the time, even though like Milo’s little following, they also generally don’t know what the hell they are talking about. If you don’t take issue with THEM making fat stacks, then why the double standard for their opposition?

Its amusing really. Though the group of this mindset thinks they are superior to their radical SJW opposition, they are more alike than they realize. In some cases, often being the same in practice, but the oppisite merely in stripes. 

But getting back on the topic that is what is an SJW? , I think the term is more encompassing than many would realize. If it is simply standing up for progressive ideals online or off, then I could well fit the bill myself. As would Milo Yiannopoulos, his little following of anti-SJW’s, and anyone really that plants themselves in opposition to SJW’s of any focus. 

If you are anti-SJW . . . you may be an SJW. 

But, being a person that respects a persons personal choice to identify however they choose, I do not state this as a rule of thumb, a fact. Ill leave that brand of intolerant group think to the Atheists.

There are to many fucking labels anyway. Groups, sub groups, macro groups. Groups that are alike in almost every way, yet groups that can’t see eye to eye often due to single silly differences of opinion. 

When its all boiled down, there is only 1 group that really matters.

Posted in Opinion, Other, Social Issues | Leave a comment

Meteorological Racism

Not long ago I came across this meme making the rounds on social media. I meant to cover it sooner, but now is as good a time as any.

The Social Justice Warrier here is seemingly calling a storm racist. And the rest of the internet is saying “What the fuck are you talking about?!“. 

At first glance, my eyebrow did go up. And that question did go though my mind. But it is possible to follow the logic, as the simpleton’s say.

One must first start with climate change. It is a phenomenon driven not soley, but arguably primarily by the west. Fossil fuels (or the harnessing of their energy potential anyway) originated in the west. And the west was responsible for a huge amount of consumption of fossil fuels. And factions of the western world are continually responsible for this status quo, despite other often less damaging options emerging. 

If one looks within the power structures of the western world, you will primarily find Caucasians. Decision makers of both past and present, are primarily white. White men if one wants to be very precise, but for this  exercise, only race matters. 

As a result of fossil fuels, the western world has seen great benefits. Reaped rewards never before possible in history. In fact, the bar has been set so high that it can never be reached again. This is it. 

A mostly unforseen (ignored?) side affect of this binge on petroleum products is the hangover of climate change. Meteorological cycles and activities are becoming increasingly unstable with more carbon added to the atmosphere. While no area will be spared from this, right now, the most obvious symptoms of this come in the cyclones and super cyclones spawned by very warm seas. While western (or wesrern held) locations can be affected, the biggest death tolls tend to be in poor countries. Be it in the Caribbean, Latin America or around Asia. Westerners often lose buildings and possessions. But poor nations often lose entire communities. 

Taking this into consideration, I can understand the basis of the tweet. Or if not, I can at least build a framework that could culminate in such a resulting tweet.

Some background into the thought processes that cullminated in the tweet would have been good to share alongside. I know its Twitter (the platform where its almost impossible to have nuanced discussion), but even so, one should know that the lowest common denominator will just assume rather than attempt to decipher. Its easier to photoshop a KKK wizard onto a hurricane than it is to stop and ponder the words beyond face value. As is the norm these days. 

But despite coming up with this hypothesis of the tweet, I still think its a bit silly. Particularly without context. 

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The Trump Hand Shake

Just when you didn’t think it could get any worse . . .oh, hell, who am I kidding. This barrel has no bottom. 

I didn’t expect a baboon resembling versian of Bill Cosby. But given his past track record . . . it woudn’t surprise me.

What the fuck . . .

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Firebrand Atheists vs. Diplomatic Atheists – Who Is More Effective?

Today upon my visit to Aron Ra’s channel to check out what he is up to, I came across this panel discussion (of sorts). It revolved around what is considered a better methodology of atheist activism, firebrand or diplomatic. 


First off, previous to this, I didn’t even know that atheists also asigned a term to their less provocative alies. Ive heard the term firebrand atheist before, as have most of us. But diplomatic atheist is a new one for me. But it does not stop there. Sometimes a 3ed group (known as the accomadation atheists) are also considered. 

Though this is the first that im hearing these terms, I can’t say that it surprises me. The volcal atheist cohort tends to already label all secular people under their brand. Thus it’s not really surprising to me that this schism would also spread internally. 

But before I go into THAT  again, I’ll explore some of the terms, starting with definitions. Keep in mind that even THIS can be difficult, since the definitions can differ with the source (as illustrated by the panel discussion). 

Firebrand Atheist

American Atheists president David Silverman defines this (his) variety of atheism as (to paraphrase) “telling the truth about religion, with emphasis on the telling. Do not attack the humans, attack their silly beliefs”. I borrowed the definition from this patheos blogger , of whom uses a slightly different definition (unapologetically arguing that religion is false and harmful, including elements of polemic and ridicule, even if it causes some believers to take offense)

I think it’s safe to say that a good explanation\definition is an atheist that is willing to be vocally abrasive to all aspects of religion, no matter how it is taken.

Diplomatic Atheist

This one is even more of a mess in its usage among various individuals than the previous. Some seem to characterize this type of atheist as thinking it a bad idea to challenge religion. Others characterize them as simply being less caustic than their firebrand peers in their approach. And there may be even more definitions. 

I prefer the latter definition myself. It comes with less implications attached to it. 

This patheos article  serves as a commentary on the panel discussion link at the opening of this piece. 

Accommodation Atheist

This type of atheist seems to be characterized as being willing to respect religion as a means of earning the respect of the religous. I say seems to be characterized due to the liquid nature of the definition as acknowledged by diffrent people. 

The last 2 atheist types also seem to be lumped in as one by some people. I would argue, falsly. And I have even heard so called atheists in denial (anyone vocally calling themselves any secular adjective besides atheist) included in the accomadationist catagory. Again, falsely. How a person responds to theistic belief is irrelevant to their outward adjective. 

Though the panel discussion above ended up being very biased in favor of the firebrand viewpoint, I think that all (or at least, most) panelists eventually conseeded that they were not all that different from one another. I can agree. Even from my outsider perspective, I can see a little of each in myself. There is a time to get out the claws. There is a time to take a more thought out and tactful approach. And there are times when the best recourse is to let sleeping dogs lie. 

This panel illistrated a quite aparent lack of nuance of many atheists, even in terms of their own community. This particularly involved one member of the panel, but it persists in others to a big extent as well. Mainly (it seems) due to ones geographic location. 

First off, is the role of localized culture. In terms of religiosity, in the US, there exists a big diffrence in cultual penetration between the northern and southern states. This disparity often even exists between cities and rurel areas, anywhere. Those that are well traveled are familier with the variations, but others may not be. 

These differences also make for a big variation in how open one can be with their atheism. Someone in Las Angeles, New York, Boston, and possibly even southern  urban centres may be able to be an open atheist and anti-theist without issue. But that sort of thing can get you socially exiled from smaller environments. One would think an obvious point. But none the less, it had to be mentioned. 

Now to explore the diffrent methodologies. 

I will be honest by saying that being openly anti-theist does feel good. I often do it when refering to the idea of religion, be it here or elsewhere on social media. But when directly speaking to the faithful, I now tend to avoid such incendiary tacts. I USED to love lighting things up in the faces of Christians (online ones, of course). I was a young rebel with a just cause. But I didn’t understand the power of delusion. Or more, how directly critically engaging a persons personal beliefs and conclusions often only emboldens them. This is with ANY topic or subject, not just religion. 

To refer to the panel again,  early on, one panalist I will paraphrase said “someone has to tell these people that they are stupid for having these beliefs!”. Also in line with this more firebrand methodology, are the atheist billboards in southern states.

 First off, I should note that not all of those chosen by me were  aimed at a southern US audience. The last is obviously more at home in Utah or areas of Idaho. But none the less, the purpose is the same, as are the results. 

My first comment is that none of these (to me at least) seem all that controversial (well, aside from the last, which did make me laugh out loud). But I have become fairly desensitized to the whole sacred cow aspect of dealing with all things religion. For example, I recently said “Fuck the holy ghost!” to a (very hypocritical) Christian friend of mine, which was met with shock that I didn’t expect.

I don’t take it with any seriousness, obviously. And I guess I assumed that the person would not take it with much seriousness either, being a big fan of premarital sex and AT LEAST a three time home wrecker of 2 engagements and a marriage. But I guess I forgot just how well some can blissfully ignore such lackings in ethics, despite being hyper aware (and bigoted) against others (like homosexuality). 

First off, l am not against premarital sex in any way. As long as it’s legal, safe and consensual, have some primally driven fun. But breaking up relationships or marriages is frowned upon by almost any standard of ethics or morality. Not to mention the whole “he without sin cast the first stone” thing. 

The firebrand approach I took with that person is uncharacteristic of what my normal recourse would be. I would not go barging into my local church uttering blasphemous statements. Don’t get me wrong, it would be hilarious to me (and any other closet or budding non believers in attendance). But despite it seeming not all that bad in this case, it’s not my normal approach. 

To go back to where I left off before that tangent, I have some difficulty in appreciating just how controversial many of the  anti-theistic billboard’s can be. Though where I live is far from any measure of progressive (and arguably almost the worst in Canada for backwards ideals), here, having an overt anti-theistic stance is not exactly a death sentence (figuratively OR literally). 

Being caustic to religion and condemning racial bias is not always popular, but it won’t wreck your social standing. Granted, this is anecdotal to my life. And I live within an urban environment (things may be drastically different in any of the many smaller communities surrounding my city of residence). But I would not really fear being an openly atheist (or secular) activist, if I was so inclined. 

I suspect that the same can be said for many fans of the firebrand form of atheist activism. Working within organizations likely based in large metropolitan areas, and continually surrounded by like minded individuals (the secular convention circuit in a nutshell), I can understand how the reality of many areas outside of that bubble may not be considered (aside from those that came from the thick of it, of course). 

But even if that observation is unfair (or wrong), the open hostility of the firebrand Atheist towards religion can still do more harm than good. To reference the panel discussion again, I would never call a believer stupid anymore (or otherwise go to ad hominem). Yes, I have fairly regularly in the past. And I have even recently when the person seemed more malicious than good. But its no longer an initial reaction.

The insult could in fact be true (even though that is the nature of such conversations. EVERYONE thinks the opposition is stupid!). But it also ensures that the conversation ends, and the person shuts down. And not only that, it could tarnish any future chance of such discussion. As such, I do not think it is really all that helpful for organizations to be putting up caustic (at least to the religious community) billboard’s in very religous areas. If the goal is to normalize and destigmatize Atheism, slapping the face of those misinformed of the benign concept seems extremely antithetical. 

I should first make something clear. Not all firebrand atheists resort automatically to insults. Indeed, some do. However, its more about being honest about religion. Whether they feel that religion is dangerous, or that it just offers nothing of value to society (often both), this is more what the term entails.

While being in your face and brutally honest is good in some circumstances, this is not always the best course of action. First off, I get why people would do it. I get why people would enjoy doing it to. Be it  downplaying and condemning religion to devot believers, or paying for secular oriented billboards in the heart of fundamentalist Christian or Mormon country, it can be fun to poke the snakes nest. When I am filling a bottom shelf at work (thus, on my knees) and some moron comes up to me and says “say a word for me, won’t you!”, I would love to say a prayer to Satan. Maybe one of these days I will. 

Directly confronting some problems is the best course of action. But not so much with internal beliefs (particularly if they are life long, not to mention potentially proped up by misguided education systems). In terms of macro situations (like billboard’s), the act could instill hostility instead of inspire thought. If a segment of the population already has a negative perception of atheists and\or Atheism, this will only play into and confirm that bias. Rather than make it easier for atheists and secular individuals to come out, you make it more difficult. 

As for the micro level (face to face or online conversation), taking on religious beliefs directly is not always best idea since (contrary to what we often tell ourselves) this often makes people just dig in deeper. This goes for any topic really (a notable 2ed to religion being politics). But this is particularly so, when the belief is reality (at least to the person).

I have not figured out how to really get around this hurdle and drawback of said conversations. As such, most of the time, I try to stand back. Some could call that being accommodationist. I view it as more, not making the problem any worse. 

Speaking of which, during the panel, Aron made a comment about smart minds like Neil Degrasse Tyson and other scientist’s being accommodationist for using labels like agnostic (instead of atheist). While unsurprising and annoying, I’ll get back to this later. 

First off, indeed, accommodationist Atheism can be destructive if left unchecked in the presence of religious zeal. Though this particular set of terms likley didn’t exist in her day, Madelyn Murray O’Hare had a lot to say about accommodationist atheists. Of course, she is using the same dicotamy that is common today (non-believer = Atheist). But none the less, the rest of the criticism is spot on.  I remember when I first heard this, how enlightening it was. It’s not a case of fighting for a secular state that never was. It’s more, a case of gaining back what was lost to inaction and self interest. It’s almost unbelievable that the US federal government was once hostile towards organized religion (namely Christianity). 

But as in other contexts, it is ridiculous to burden the sons with the sins of the forefathers. Original sin is stupid, no matter what the context. Even if past atheists\secularists mucked up a once secular nation to be proud of, todays generation is trying to help reverse the damage. That is what matters. 

One place one can start towards that long-term goal is cohesion.

First off, for those that like to categorize atheist activism by type (firebrand, diplomatic, accommodationist), stop. For one thing, the terms as defined and understood are often so variable that they only add unnecessary friction. And for another, to borrow from one of the panelists, all of these methods should be viewed more as tools. One is not likely going to get good results by hammering in a screw, or using a screw driver on a nail. Each job requires a different tool (or set of tools).

Another step towards the goal of cohesion is to lay off this dogmatic and ridiculous requirement that EVERY non-believer HAS to identify as an atheist. When I hear how some of these people speak (“I was lying to myself that I was *whatever* before I accepted that I was an atheist!”), they remind me of their opposing zealots! 

But that is just the way of a world that is unfamiliar to the nuances that even a light education in philosophy can bring. Definitions of ambiguous terms become the irronicly rigid rules of an area that is otherwise outside of the boundaries of scientifically proven reality. But even if that intellectual criticism will never be considered by most (however terribly it was proposed, being I am without any post secondary experience), a good argument for laying off this intolerance is the endgame itself. 

I have said it many times now. Other people have also said it many times before me. And it even came up in the panel discussion (to paraphrase, “maybe we need to acknowledge that we need more words than atheist to build a voting block”). A notion that Aron would of course quickly dispel. As is typical of his type.

Though I respect Aron for his many efforts in making his nation (and the world) a genuinely better place, like everyone else, he is not spot on with everything. Though many atheists do it by assertion, when confronted (by either an audience member or a panelist, not sure which), he flat out claimed to know better than anyone using an alternate secular term to atheist. Quite an intolerant statement for a member of a cohort that supposedly praises critical thought and free thinking. 

Should atheists be more inclusive in their work in building a voting block of secular values? Yes. 

Take a page from religion. 

Even though there are a huge number of factions in existence, this does not cause them much grief in holding onto the status quo.  It would seem that they learned to put those differences aside when a more important common goal necessitated it. Right from when the secular minded first let their guard down, to this day. They may not see eye to eye, but when priorities dictate, they cooperate.

Atheists should not be walking around and treating Atheism as though it is as proven as the sun’s existence. It is merely one of many possible solutions to a complex problem. Some of the other solutions may be temporary, silly, or otherwise disagreeable. But really, when compared to what is to be gained by swallowing pride and being just a LITTLE more accepting, the drawbacks become minor. 

Many of these preachers of dogmatic Atheism love to say that if everyone would just accept what they are (atheist!), then atheists could have damn near a third of the national population (more than Catholics! As said by Aron Ra many times). Indeed, that is a big number, and a big deal. 

But we could have that tommorow, with a slight change of tactic. Those of secular background are already similar to atheists. Though they do not agree on adjective, there is likley more agreement than disagreement. There is your voting block. 

Secular. Humanist. Secular Humanist. 

I don’t care what you call it. The potential is there. All that stands between that cohesion and our current lack of power, is ridiculousness and stupidity.

By many measures, the world is on fire. Were the Titanic, and the iceberg is in sight. So what are we waiting for?

A Nuclear winter?!

Posted in Atheism Criticisms, Opinion, Religion & Atheism | Leave a comment

Is Julian Assange Holding Out On Us? 

Todays big story gave me a bit of a chuckle. Trump supporters (and Hillary dislikers alike, really) got quite a surprise from Assange, when he didn’t effectively end Hillary’s career, as many were expecting. In fact, not only did he not drop anything on that front, he also used the limelight to plug his new book. 


So, the October surprise was . . . his new book? 

If that was the plan all along, well played. He forced people to listen to his speech in its entirety. And he got (or, will get) to ride the wave of free publicity that comes with annoyed people venting on social media about his trickery (and of course, the media coverage). If that was the plan all along, again, well played. He baited the hook, and they bit down hard. 

A part of me wonders if there is more to this, however. 

Wikileaks exists for the purpose of transparency. How much transparency is necessary (and where one draws the line) is debatable. But the organization has a purpose. One that im thinking has kept a lot of people more on their toes than they would have ever thought necessary before. 

But as they say, with great power  comes great responsibility. To be Assange or Wikileaks, is to have great power. Though one can argue that transparency overrides all other considerations, there are situations in which real world threats may be attached to the release of a given set information.  Or if not an explicit threat, than an overt amount of influence. 

Back when this wikileaks stuff got big, a couple people I know  were angry, because some of the releaseses may have put close acquaintances of theirs at risk. I suspect them to be judged as acceptable collateral to the bigger picture that is transparency. 

What we have with possible Hillary information however, it  is not as much danger (though one could also argue that hypothesis) as it is the possibility of influencing a national election. One with a baboon for a Republican candidate, no less. 

Which makes me wonder . . . is Assange holding out because he views (as many people of intellectual capacity have in recent months) Trump as genuinely dangorous? Is he holding out because he does not want to interfer with the democratic process of a nation? Or was it all just a bluff after all? 

At this point, I guess we will see. If the information was extremely damning, I doubt that Assange or Wikileaks would hold onto it. As for the conspiracy angle (the DNC threatened Assange!), I highly doubt it. If he still walks this earth after the releases up until now, I doubt the DNC offers any threat. 

Either way, I guess we will know once November 2ed is upon us. 

Posted in American, Opinion, Political | Leave a comment