Thursday, May 17, 2012

The future of gay people will be determined by black people

Much has been made about the connection between black and gay civil rights, and the tendency for some parts of the former to deny any such connection, to the disappointment of progressives. David Weigel discussed the divide yesterday in this piece for Slate.

The principle difference argued by anti-gay blacks is that homosexuals chose to be homosexual, whereas no one can choose to be black. If you find yourself arguing with these people and try to directly counter the assertion, you're making a mistake, for the nature/nurture debate only skims the surface of a much deeper issue, which is that of personal liberty. It doesn't matter if homosexuality is chosen or if it is inborn, it is a personal liberty that no one has any valid reason to deny.

Getting to the heart of the matter is important. It makes the picture clearer for everyone, and makes it clear you know exactly what you're talking about. (The opposite example is a creationist who attacks every possible detail of evolutionary theory without a connecting fiber in any of his arguments.) For this particular case, you'll then be able to skip past sticky discussions of race and other traits you are born with and talk about why homosexuality is or isn't a personal liberty. As I've said before, there is no logical basis for their religiously or culturally motivated bigotry, and they will lose that argument every time.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Cack-Man cometh

Well, this is disappointing. Manny Pacquiao, world boxing champion, congressman, and humanitarian, is not so humane when it comes to LGBT rights. From the article:
Pacquiao, bearing a conservative stance on the Reproductive Bill which is still pending in the Philippine Congress for approval even after contemptuous debates, believes the sweeping campaign of Obama favoring the gays and lesbians to legally marry is nothing more than a direct attack on the moral society and against the creative power and will of God.
Pacquiao's position as both a lawmaker and an asshole shows why church/state separation is important. A friend of mine, a Mormon, once told me she supports her church in its stance against gay marriage, but she did not support her church's support of Proposition 8, which made gay marriages illegal in California. "If you're gay and you want to get married, don't be Mormon," she said. I wholeheartedly agree. That is exactly the position that theists should have regarding personal liberties such as these, because it is not for them to legislate their moral code to everyone else, unless they can prove that they have a secular, logical basis for their objection. The successful appeal against Prop 8 last year showed in a court of law that there is no secular or logical argument that can be made.

Atheist fan(atic)s

Last weekend I got into a conversation with my brother about religion. He has a BS in anthropology so this topic comes naturally to him, and though we see eye to eye on many criticisms of religion, as an agnostic, he doesn't really throw in with our lot of self-proclaimed heathen atheists. As is predictable to experienced "active" atheists, this phrase came up:
Some atheists are just as fanatical as the religious.
A day later, Rabbi Dow Marmur wrote in the Toronto Star
...impartial observers will know that contemporary atheists are often even more fanatical than religious fundamentalists
You know what? They're right. Some atheists are indeed crazy. Some atheists are stupid. And some atheists are just atheists by default, not because they've given it any thought (also like many of the religious). All this goes into the larger narrative of painting atheism as another religion, which is ridiculous.

There's a wealth of material from Marmur's title alone: "Zealous atheists resemble religious fanatics." My first thought was what a stupid title that was, like saying "really passionate people resemble other really passionate people." But then I read it again and thought, do the zealous atheists of the world really compare to the religious fanatics of the world?

Your answer is no. Emphatically. Find me an atheist suicide bomber. Find me an atheist trying to get the government to limit the rights of other human beings because they're different from him. Find me an atheist that will knowingly allow pedophiles to violate and denigrate the health and safety of helpless children.

I suppose if you really try, you will undoubtedly find some sick, murderous individuals who happen to be atheists. The difference is that such are examples of individuals. The inhumanity of religions are institutional, training good people to be bad, inculcating generations to believe in nonsense and affecting the world with that nonsense.

But there was still more controversy brewing on Mothers' Day weekend. On Sunday, Deepak Chopra Tweeted the following:
#Atheism is a cult with a small following.
Oh we're a cult, are we? A cult, you mean those institutions run by batshit loonies who tell their flock to shun their friends and loved ones who are not part of their faith, and encourage people to donate everything they have? The ones that threaten hellfire and physical, financial and social abuse if anyone tries to leave? You're insane, Deepak.