The Kingdom Hall was across the street from our house in Leoti, Kansas (112 N St, Leoti, KS 67861. It’s a home now. Interesting fact, there are technically two locations with the same address in Leoti, one block East and one block West from 4th Street on Avenue N. One of them was probably always a house. The other was not. -ed.) The Jehovah’s Witnesses came by our house after every service to tell us the wonders of their God Jehovah and how we were all going to miss out on resurrection if we didn’t come across the street and worship with them. Didn’t join them in denying all earthly pleasures so that we could ascend to heaven after death or whatever the particulars of their belief were at the time.
I had been forced to go to the Methodist church with my grandparents for as long I as could remember as a child. I hated church and wondered at why everyone else thought that god and church were so important. Why they all seemed so happy believing this stuff that seemed so transparently fake to me. Their insistence that the beliefs weren’t fake were as terrifying as an eternity of torture in Hell was to me.
I never wanted to believe the afterlife crap. I never wanted to believe it because I have an active imagination and the idea that you could live forever in bliss or in torture, either one, scared me more than anything else these church goers said. I didn’t and still don’t want to be confined to eternal existence. Yes, I said confined. Confined to an eternal, unchanging existence.
Infinity isn’t graspable by most human minds. If it was they would all be terrified by the notion that you could be mentally present for an eternity. Time itself collapses under the requirements of accommodating eternity, infinity. Eternity/infinity never ends. Do you understand never ends? Your favorite movie watched endlessly forever? Every movie ever made through the span of millennia strung together end-to-end in a loop is still not enough. Gone everywhere, seen everything, done everything once, then what? Do it all again? How many times? Eventually everything would become boring after you’d seen or done it a hundred or a thousand or a million times, and you would have to find a way to kill yourself anyway.
I considered it a blessing and a high irony when the Kingdom Hall building was purchased by the newly created Leoti or Wichita county or Great Plains cable company. Leoti had a cable company once, believe it or not. I may not remember what the outfit was called but I do know we couldn’t afford to have cable entertainment installed and that the Jehovah’s Witnesses stopped coming by regularly after they were no longer going to church next door to us.
If Jehovah’s Witnesses are capable of self-reflection and if they thought about their behavior dispassionately, they’d understand that forcing their believers to individually proselytize to people who told them not just once but a hundred times that they didn’t want them ringing their doorbell after church; that regular, predictable torment of the non-Witnesses next door tends to make these people want to take their years of frustration at finding their Watchtower garbage littering their front porches out on believers of the same stripe. If Jehovah’s Witnesses took this real human reaction to being forced to say FUCK OFF and GET OFF MY PORCH every week for years just because the Witnesses weren’t allowed to take no for an answer, maybe they’d understand why the group seems to be so persecuted. It kind of goes both ways. Persecute us with your delusions of true belief and we will persecute you in return.
It seemed like justice delivered to me watching that cable installer’s truck coming and going from the temple that had been founded on the principle of denying Earthly pleasure in favor of an everlasting afterlife. To see those parsimonious simpletons and their wrathful, imaginary god be replaced by a very real entity offering all the available Earthly amusements for a set dollar figure; even if that dollar figure was too high for us to afford. Such is the way with worldly things, the cost is higher than you want to pay in the end.
We bring these bastards to justice. We hold them to account for their words and their actions and their endless treason. We drop the hammer on fascism so goddamn hard that these miserable fucks and their craven shitty stormtroopers never dare show their faces again.
There is no compromise with those who would murder us for their own profit.
This was what was going on over on Conservative Reddit on January 6th, 2022. One year after Trump’s failed attempt at a Coup d’état the coup participants are still engaged in whataboutism. As the poster of the image in r/MarchAgainstNazis pointed out, this is typical behavior for Trumpists who still think they are the real conservatives in the United States right now.
A number of people who want to preserve the label Conservative from it’s ultimate demise in today’s America objected to the representation that the image featured sentiments that Conservatives are sympathetic to. There were other labels offered up as options that were more appropriate. Fascist was one of them.
I rather like fascist as a label for Trumpists, but it is a little overly general. Try defining fascist, it’s a lot harder than you think it will be. Are they fascists? Probably. It’s a pretty safe bet to say they are fascists, but if you are going to take the time to critique the behavior it’s better to have more than just a label to slap on it so that you can shout it at them.
I prefer the label that I created for them. They are the MAGA or the Misguided Appallingly Gullible Americans, thereby using their own language against them. Half the time I use the initialism I get likes from MAGA’s just because I used MAGA in a sentence. That is how blind most online resistance is.
The MAGA’s are the greatest threat that world civilization currently faces. They are the greatest threat because they are anti-science, anti-climate change and antivaxx and the list goes on and on. They are the greatest threat because they want to go back to fighting Muslims and the Chinese and whichever other ethnic group out there that they just can’t stomach instead of admitting that the problem with America is Americans. At least Americans that still support Caudito Trump.
I have taken to referring to the MAGA in generally more recognizable terms these days. I call them White Nationalists, like the Nazis were and still are or Christianists, the people who think that christian is a thing and that thing should be the thing everyone else values, namely capitalism and greed with a soupçon of nativism and isolationism. The prosperity gospel on steroids that is running rampant through what remains of the Religious Right.
The people who marched on the Capitol a year ago today chanting “Hang Mike Pence,” built a scaffold to hang him on, and then proceeded to force their way into the building beating cops all the way to their final destination were supporting Christianism and White Nationalism whether they knew this fact or not. I would further hazard the guess that most of the people who stormed the capitol also self-identify as Evangelical Christians. Most of the people who supported Trump and still support him are Evangelicals. They are Christianists of a more specific type.
There were several replies to the sub-thread I started that objected to the Christianist label. They wanted to split the hair infinitely. They wanted to be Christian instead of just whatever sect of Christianity that they participate in, but christian isn’t a thing that I’ve ever been able to define because there are people who want to be called Christian that disagree with each other about every single thing that Jesus said and every single thing mentioned in their holy book as defining what a christian is or would be.
So there aren’t Christians, there are just christians, a loose conglomeration of peoples that avow Christianity while not following it’s teachings. One can be a Jesus Freak and not be a christian; however you can’t be a Jesus Freak and be a Christianist. The two are incompatible. Christianism requires a militancy that Jesus would never have tolerated. Jesus was a lover not a fighter.
Thomas Jefferson was the original Jesus Freak. He took the time to excise everything from his personal bible that wasn’t a thing that Jesus could have said or done and not been miraculous. That is the definition of a freak, a fanboy, a geek for Jesus.
I was also a Jesus Freak in my youth. I loved everything Jesus. The whole god thing was an inscrutable mystery to me, but I loved me some Jesus. When I started drafting I spent a lot of time listening to the soundtrack of Jesus Christ Superstar:
I listened to it so many times that my mentor essentially forbade me from listening to it again. That is how I define Jesus Freak. However, decades of being immersed in the slowly evolving milieu that became modern Christianity drove me further and further away from my admiration for Jesus, just as discovering what Star Trek fandom was turning into ruined my appreciation of everything but the original series, stuck like a fly in the amber of the 1960’s.
Jesus Christ Superstar is a lot like Classic Trek in that you can’t change what it says in the original recording. You can only make a Next Generation Superstar and that won’t be the classic version no matter how loud you yell about how good it is. The militarism will prove that you don’t understand what the classic version was all about. I can still enjoy those original cast recordings. I’m listening to them as I write this.
As the decades continued to advance I lost my freakishness. I couldn’t stomach innocuous songs like Jesus is just Alright anymore. He wasn’t alright. Not if you just sing the song and don’t pay attention to the philosophy behind the name. I finally admitted to the break with the religion of my youth back in 2010. I never understood the need for gods anyway. Jesus’ teachings were worthy beliefs to follow, but not if I had to put myself next to people who happily spat on the poor and disabled and pretend that I wasn’t revolted by their callow natures.
Today, I look at these people who use their religion as an excuse to interfere in secular government and I can’t help but recall Jesus’ parable on paying taxes. If you want to resort to militancy in your goals for government, you can do it without your crutch of religion. If you instead use your religion as an excuse to beat your neighbor that you disagree with, then you aren’t a Christian. You might want to go back to studying your scripture.
And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?
They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.
“Join us in undeath” she said, in a quavering voice. It was definitely a female voice. I was just as sure that I had misheard her.
“Beg pardon?” I asked.
“Give in to the truth.” she whispered. “Join us in undeath.”
“I’m afraid I can’t understand you. Are you saying you are not alive? Then how are you speaking?”
“Many things speak that have not life.” The voice replied. “Do the rocks not shout their permanence at you? Does the water not speak of eternal motion? Is it so hard to believe in undeath?”
“Well, since you put it that way” I said “why don’t the things that speak as you suggest not use words that I can understand?”
“Can you not understand permanence? Can you not comprehend endless motion?”
“I began and I will end.” I said. “That is the truth that I know. What can I really know of permanence? What temporary being can comprehend eternity? I can grasp the concepts. I can’t really know the meaning.”
“Then join us.” The voice repeated. “Join us in undeath.”
“Let’s say I believe you are undead.” I replied. “What does that mean? Do you have substance? I can’t see you.”
“We are all around you. You cannot see us because your impermanence will not let you see. You have but to speak assent, and you will be one of us.”
“I will assume then that you do have substance. Are you confined within that substance forever? Or can you change what you are?”
“We are not water and we are not rocks. We are neither permanence nor fluidity. We are undeath.”
“Ah. So you are defined by what you are not. You are the alternative to death?”
“We are undeath”
“Yes. I think we’ve established that fact.”
“Do not mock that which you cannot understand.”
“No offense intended. I beg your pardon ma’am. I just want to know why this choice is being offered to me now?”
“All who face death are offered this choice at their moment of transition.”
“You mean my time is up then?” I hadn’t thought about where or when I was until this very moment. Where was I? It wasn’t home, wherever this place was. It was too… fuzzy. Worse than my usual myopia. Were those my bookshelves? No. No, mine were not that large. Or were they smaller than mine? Were they even shelves? Bars, maybe? It was so damn hard to see. Where were my glasses? I started to reach out and realized that I had no arms. I didn’t have legs either, now that I tried to move those. They were simply not present. I started to panic. “What has happened to my body? Where am I?”
“Your people have many names for this place. The place of transition? Translation? Perhaps you wait for the ferryman? Purgatory? It is hard to say what concept that you would find meaningful in its description. It is the place of gathering. It is the place of weighing and judging. All come here before taking their place in the universe.”
“My wife and children? Are they here too?”
“All come here before taking their place.”
“Are they here now?”
“All come here before taking their place.”
“Can I see them? Can I talk to them?”
“This is your time and place. Yours and yours alone. Choose now.”
“All right then. What are my choices?”
“Ending or remaining are your choices. Choose.”
I contemplated existence. It had been a good life. She was beautiful, my wife. Maybe not beautiful to other people, but beautiful to me. She showed up just when I needed her in life, and stayed with me through all the ups and downs. We had beautiful children. They grew and moved on and had their own children.
I had work that had been rewarding. I had made the world a better place, I hoped anyway. It had been a good life. “What is there here that would make me want to stay here?” I asked.
“There is continued existence.” The voice said. It sounded impatient now. Demanding. “You will not cease to be and will continue on as you are now. Choose.”
I surveyed my existence. I couldn’t really see. There was little to hear other than the voice. What feeling there was was vague, but not unpleasant. It was a feeling like the edge of sleep. I could go on dreaming like this forever if I wanted. Surveying the landscape of my past life, possibly glancing other times and worlds. “Is this all that there is here?” I asked.
“Choose.” said the voice. It was definitely impatient now.
I wanted to see Terry again. I wanted to see her and Susan and Bill. To see them and their kids. I wanted to see mom and dad again, though they have been dead for years now. Now? What is now anyway? Eternal presence? I wanted to see my grandparents again, lost to me so long ago that their faces are blurred by time itself. I wanted to live, but living was over. Living was not a choice that I had now.
“Let me go,” I said.
“The choice has been made.” said the voice.
There was a blinding light. I blinked my eyes. There was a field in front of me. In the distance I could see Terry and the kids, and their kids in front of them. Behind them was mom and dad and their parents and their parents, parents waiting. Waiting in a field of flowers.
I had made the right choice. I ran to them with open arms and they opened their arms for me in anticipation. “I’m free,” I thought. “I’m fr…”
This is the kind of thing that sprouts up in your head after you’ve spent a solid 36 hours straight turning other players and non-player characters into zombies during the pre-patch event for Shadowlands. Featured image is a screencap from the Shadowlands cinematic trailer.
Evangelical christians have been putting that bumper sticker on thier cars for years now. WWJD, What Would Jesus Do? As if they have exclusive access to the motivations and ethics that the semi-mythical founder of their religion would have espoused in any particular situation.
I sincerely doubt that they have that access; and the reason I doubt that they have that access is that so many of their leaders, including Donald Trump himself, clearly don’t know what Jesus would have done in any given situation.
No one reached out to me and said, ‘As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that America loves for its children and grandchildren?’ And if that is the exchange, I’m all in.
Those of us who are 70 plus, we’ll take care of ourselves. But don’t sacrifice the country.
No one aside from Dan Patrick, Glenn Beck, and assorted other evangelical leaders has suggested that the trade-off is between saving the lives of seniors in the community, and giving up life in the United States as we have known it. Nor is it the elderly alone that will die in this pandemic, have died in this pandemic.
Anyone with immune deficiencies. Anyone with weak lungs. Anyone with hypertension. Anyone with none of the above, young and spry and outwardly healthy to all appearances, can fall victim to this virus and die. If you believe otherwise, you are simply whistling past the graveyard.
Evangelicals who seek to preserve their ideas of capitalism at any human cost prove only that capitalism is part of their religion. This is the prosperity gospel raising its ugly head and letting us know that it holds the reins in the evangelical world. In prosperity theology, true christians make money because that is god’s reward to them for doing god’s work. It would take a televangelist to believe wholeheartedly that getting people to give you money for nothing more than saying words that your audience wants to hear is doing god’s work.
If you are suggesting we ignore the warnings of people we pay to keep us healthy. If you are one of those people that thinks we can’t afford to let the markets stop for a month to make sure we have a handle on this crisis. If you are willing to let the poor, the sick and the elderly die simply because we can’t afford to take care of them; then you are exactly the kind of christian that helped make me the atheist that I am today. I will have nothing to do with hypocrites like you if I have anything to say about it.
As I ran down riverside park in the 70-degree weather, I smiled at people walking their dogs, pushing baby strollers and also running. You would never know that a virus was overtaking New York City, unless you worked in the hospital.
Day and night ambulance sirens alarm through the streets. Sirens give me PTSD. It seems like I am the only one that notices though. I went to get groceries at Foodtown but there were so many people in the store that I walked out. I have a greater chance of getting coronavirus in the store than in the hospital. Other stores have taken a more serious approach and limited the number of people in the store, thereby reducing the spread of disease.
The statistics are grossly under reported. Deaths are much higher – I tried to report two deaths yesterday and was on the phone for a half an hour before I grew frustrated and hung up the phone. I have to treat patients, I can’t sit on the phone for that long. Later I had one of the physician assistants call and she was on hold for an hour and still could not report a death.
Were these deaths counted? Are prehospital deaths counted? Are prehospital deaths being swabbed for the coronavirus?
I’ve been swabbing all cardiac arrests and deaths. And guess what? They are ALL positive for the coronavirus.
A year later and they are still at it. Unhappy that the solution to the pandemic they don’t believe in, a product of the science that they reject, can’t be limited to the good (wealthy) Christianists, United States evangelicals now want to keep all the vaccines, that they won’t admit to taking themselves, just for themselves, and not pass them out to the rest of humanity. Jesus would also tell you we need to vaccinate everyone, just like Bernie wants to do:
Atheists may not believe religious teachings, but they are quite informed about religion. In Pew Research Center’s 2019 religious knowledge survey, atheists were among the best-performing groups, answering an average of about 18 out of 32 fact-based questions correctly, while U.S. adults overall got an average of roughly 14 questions right. Atheists were at least as knowledgeable as Christians on Christianity-related questions – roughly eight-in-ten in both groups, for example, know that Easter commemorates the resurrection of Jesus – and they were also twice as likely as Americans overall to know that the U.S. Constitution says “no religious test” shall be necessary to hold public office.
That was just one of the ten facts about atheists that Pew listed in their updated article from 2015. None of the facts were surprising to me, even back in 2015 when I first ran across the article. Especially that one. In order to form an opinion about a religion, enough of an opinion to decide that you don’t want to be religious anymore, you have to study the subject pretty thoroughly.
I’ve studied every religion that I’ve run across in my 50+ years on this planet. None of them ended up being something that I wanted to devote my life to, much less any significant amount of my time. All of them ended up failing on some measure of value and relevance to life in the here and now. My last flirtation with religion was when I read the entire Book of Mormon in order to be able to argue knowledgeably with the Mormon missionaries who used to bicycle up to the house and lend a hand with projects we had going on while trying to convert us to their religion. This was back before the turn of the century, an event that both of them thought would spell the end of the world and bring on the second coming of Christ. The last time I spoke to them I said that I’d get back to them in 2001.
Anyone who has read both the Bible and the Book of Mormon that doesn’t have unanswered plagiarism questions isn’t paying attention to what they are reading. When I found myself still here on January 1, 2001, I contemplated looking those two guys up again and asking them what they thought about there not being an armageddon as was promised. Look, we’re all still here. Now what?
That sort of playful argumentation about emotionally charged subjects like religion have gotten me in trouble many times. You’d think I’d eventually learn to stop doing that, but I haven’t. It’s what lead me to state that Atheism is not a Belief System, a subject I document in this article.
The resultant arguments from that fiasco only firmed up my lack of belief in gods or the supernatural. I still marvel at how little proof most people require to believe even the craziest of things, religion just being one of those crazy things.
I take issue with several of the facts in the Pew article though. One of them was #3, Atheists make up a larger share of the population in many European countries than they do in the U.S. This was the motivation for me starting this article on the blog. The entire basis of the Pew article, limiting the findings to just those people who checked off the box atheist, is a major flaw in their article. There are even more significant numbers of people who are irreligious than there are actual atheists, not to mention the one/fifth of people who are so poorly informed as to identify as atheist and still avow to have a belief in god or gods.
The larger, more important, group are the people who are simply irreligious. People who say that they have no religion. That number in the United States is still less than half (39%) but represents a percentage of the population that can swing issues that are basically religious in nature (subjects like abortion) in surprising directions. If you use that number instead of the number that claim atheism, you have majorities of the population of most of Europe, with Australia ranking in the top ten countries in the world for numbers of irreligiousness.
The portion of humanity who don’t think religion is important enough to even have one is very large, and it is growing. Growing by leaps and bounds as the evangelicals in the United States and across the world attempt to alter governments to suit their religious beliefs. Nothing turns people off of a subject faster than having that subject forced on them when they don’t think it is important.
We could even create a soundtrack for this season from the various songs inspired by Lovecraft’s fantasy writing that appear on various Blue Oyster Cult albums, some of these songs penned by fantasy and science fiction writer Michael Moorcock. Here’s one from a recent album with an appropriate name and theme.
The fact that this research keeps being revisited on the media is just about to drive me crazy. What research? The finding that going to church correlates with less depression. This finding is so overblown in importance that I almost hesitate to talk about it here simply because I don’t want to spread misinformation about the subject. But really, someone should say something to debunk the bullshit.
To be specific; just getting out of your home or workplace and talking to different people has been shown to reduce depression. Just spending less time alone has been shown to produce similar results. There is no mystery here. Religion does not magically make you a happier, more stable person. Talking to new people does. Now, can we please stop having this insane argument?
My response in 2006 went something like “Republicans have no intention of reversing Roe v. Wade. They would be fools if they did reverse it.” I’m beginning to suspect that I overestimated their intelligence on this particular subject. There has been a veritable deluge of attempts to overturn Roe v. Wade in the last decade, not to mention the war that conservatives are waging on Planned Parenthood in the mistaken belief that Planned Parenthood is where all abortions occur in the US.
As the writing appears on the wall in this final gasp of American conservatism, the soon to be disempowered Republican party continues to slice parts of itself off in an orgy of self-congratulation. It seems that throwing all their morals out the window and voting for a confirmed con-artist, philanderer and pathological liar requires them to double down on those demonstrably debunked claims to a moral high ground. They are convinced that if they only pass one more law they’ll finally be able to get rid of the medical procedure, abortion, by overturning Roe. They also seem to think that they’ll stop women from using birth control or morning after pills, but I personally think that they should stop while they are ahead.
You see, Roe was already a conservative decision based on science and the law back when it was decided in 1973. It was and is conservative because it represented a partial step towards granting women the same bodily autonomy that men enjoy, before there was a detectable change in the woman’s body, while protecting the state’s interest in making sure that the maximal number of new citizens is born to each new generation of women.
Access to healthcare is a woman’s right. There really isn’t any question about this because access to healthcare, a combined investment by the society at large as well as individuals caught up in the various healthcare systems across the globe, is every human’s right. This right is established through the fact that each person born came from someone who in some way contributed to the current status of medical knowledge and the existing medical infrastructure. People come from somewhere, and that somewhere is from other people. People created the healthcare system over generations, this grants later generations access to the combined knowledge of their forebears on an equal basis. An equality that is currently being denied to most people living today, but that observation is a digression from the specific point I’m trying to make with this article.
Abortion is a medical procedure, no if’s and’s or but’s about it. As a medical procedure, abortion should be available to anyone who wants one, end of story. Or rather; it would be the end of the story if men had to carry the next generation in their bodies in the same way women do. But that isn’t how nature set procreation up. Nature put the bearing of young on women’s backs, not the men’s. This left the women at home while the men formed hunting parties. It left them at home caring for children while the men created the first governments. It left the women at home changing and washing diapers while men learned professions and took jobs outside the house. And so men vy for access to women’s reproductive organs by violence if necessary, and then try to keep their unwanted progyny in the woman’s body by force of law since they, the men, set up that law through their control of government.
No one expects men to reveal whether they’ve had a vasectomy. No one wants to hold men accountable for wasting potential life every time they masturbate (no one who is sane does, anyway) their privacy is respected, even when it comes to making decisions about whether they will have children or not. This is not true of women.
Women’s health is fraught with demands to know things about their physical being that a man would never, ever, put up with. “She’s on the rag.” “You look fat.” “your tits are too small.” “When are you due?” the intrusions into their personal privacy defy any attempt at comparison to the way men are treated in public. The next time a man loses his shit in public, ask him if he’s played with himself recently. Go ahead, I dare you.
In Western medicine hysteria was considered both common and chronic among women. The American Psychiatric Association dropped the term hysteria in 1952. Even though it was categorized as a disease, hysteria’s symptoms were synonymous with normal functioning female sexuality. In extreme cases, the woman may have been forced to enter an insane asylum or to have undergone surgical hysterectomy.
There is a right to privacy in the constitution, and the reason this right exists even though it isn’t enumerated is itself constitutional. Political pundits talk about how abortion is a litmus test for potential Supreme Court (SCOTUS) justices. If there really were a litmus test when it comes to abortion, it ought to be the constitution that forms it since the constitution is what they swear to uphold. The test could be formed of a single question with two possible answers. What is the meaning of the ninth and tenth amendments to the constitution? The answer to this question could be either unenumerated personal rights and/or limited government power. Any potential judge that does not concede the existence of a right to privacy, of a limit to state power, does not have a place on the bench within the US court system. They demonstrably do not understand the document that they will be sworn to protect.
Roe v. Wade establishes a right to privacy in jurisprudence. The findings of all of the cases that involve privacy since that case rely on the findings of Roe for their justification. The court will have to find some other basis for privacy as a right in any form if they hope to preserve privacy after reversing Roe. Yes, the prospect of reversal of that judicial precedent is that far-reaching. To reverse it is to make us all wards of the state and to make all claims to privacy by persons, including the multi-national corporations null and void. Pick one. Outlaw abortion or lose your ability to talk to your doctor or attorney in confidence.
Yes, dear reader. I hear you out there exclaiming “What about protecting life, dammit?”
That’s all fine and good. First you have to prove that there is a life, a life with a conscious mind, a will to live, and not just autonomic responses. You have to prove the presence of brainwaves denoting an active consciousness. After you do that you still aren’t done. You still have to show how you will preserve that life without harming the life of the mother-to-be, and by harm I mean economic as well as physical or emotional harm. If you did all of that, you might have a telling argument. Failing to do any one of those things will put you back at where we started this entire fiasco. Individual choice. The woman decides if she will have a child, and that means right up to the day before delivery, as far as a legal argument is concerned.
Keeping abortion legal does protect the life of the real, live woman whose body you want to use as a government mandated living incubator. Women die during pregnancy and childbirth, all the time. Savita Halappanavar died an unnecessary death in horrible pain due to Ireland’s (since repealed) ban on all abortions. This will happen here too, if abortion is banned. Underaged girls get pregnant. Rape and incest figure into these pregnancies. Will you inflict further harm on girls who have already been violated by someone close to them by forcing them to carry those pregnancies to term? Some of them will die during pregnancy and childbirth. Just exactly what limits will you set in your pursuit of protecting the life of the unborn? How many women will die because of your crusade? It should be your job to count them all. All of those lost lives will be the blood on your hands. May you have better luck than Pontius Pilate had in removing that blood.
I started this article while the Kavanaugh hearings were going on. I felt so miserable for most of that time that I limited myself to just re-editing the Witch Hunt post, never managing to get this article formed up into the finished work I wanted it to be. Reviewing the evidence revealed by the talking heads I listened to, talking heads endlessly discussing the hearings, I came away with the fact that Christine Blasey Ford, the prosecutor that the Senate Judiciary Committee had hired to cross-examine now Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh, got him to reveal his character by making him lose his cool. He had secrets he was hiding, and he wasn’t going to reveal them willingly. He probably should have played with himself before going into that hearing. It might have made him less of a raging asshole, but I doubt it.
After this groundbreaking revelation, that Kavanaugh was lying on the stand, an impeachable error for a sitting justice, the Republican leadership of the committee fired Christine Blasey Ford, burning another witch. They had two witch burnings in one Senate hearing, and they counted that as a success. I know that Lindsey Graham saw it that way. The Senate Republicans burned the witches and pretended none of that bad stuff that Justice Kavanaugh was accused of ever happened. Just as they did with Justice Thomas. #IBelieveHer and That Still Isn’t Enough People. The outcome of the hearings was preordained by the Republican leadership of the Senate. Holding the hearings were just a sham.
On top of that, justice Kavanaugh was drunk on the witness stand. Pull up the video of his Senate hearing. Look at the flush on his nose and cheeks. That man is one angry drunk. I pity his wife and children.
The stage is set for the final act of this farce. The farce that started when Christianists decided to make America a christian country and set about forcing their beliefs about the nature of existence on the rest of us. The problem for them remains the same problem that the United States Supreme Court faced back in 1973. Namely, if they force women to carry every pregnancy to term, who pays for that? Who pays for those children’s futures? Who makes sure that they have equal access to the benefits of society right alongside every wealthy, wanted child?
Who? Well, we all will.
Your taxes will be raised to cover those costs. Don’t bother to try to disagree, this is written into the constitution. Brown v. Board of Education outlines the bare bones of what will be required of the general public if women are forced to carry every pregnancy to term. Equal schools for all those children. Equal access to healthcare. Equal access to the courts will ensure that this prediction will play out as I describe. Trillions will be spent.
Not just on schools and medical facilities, things we should probably be investing in anyway, but also on police and investigative capacity. Every woman will have to be registered as soon as they have their first period. They will have to be registered as a potential mother so that they can be properly tracked (already happening in Missouri) Sexual activity will have to be monitored to make sure that no one attempts to prevent a pregnancy. This task will require a police force the likes of which has never been seen before in history. The Handmaid’s Tale only hints at the depths of depravity that will be required to insure that no pregnancy is terminated, ever.
That is what reversing Roe will entail. But it only begins there. The current thinking for who will pick up the tab for all these new children amounts to making the men who father them pay for them. As if men are made of money and all you have to do is tap them like a Maple tree and they’ll ooze more money than any number of children will require. Most men are too shiftless to be willing to work to support the results of every orgasm they experience (considering the thousands of times the average male masturbates in a given lifetime, this is understandable) Most men are unwilling to devote themselves to raising children themselves. This has been my experience, speaking as a dad who spent two years at home raising his second child. Most men that I have revealed this fact to have been incredulous that I would waste my time in that fashion. As if crafting the minds and bodies of the next generation of humans was work that wasn’t of prime importance to every currently living person.
Equality will not be achieved by enslaving the men unlucky enough to be caught fathering children. They will never produce enough to pay the costs of raising those children properly. The failure to produce funds to guarantee equality will result in the taxpayer having to fund the shortfall. This means your taxes will go up, and up, and up… if you ban abortion. Someone has to pay for these children, and the full faith and credit of the US government will require that the taxpayer eventually pays that bill.
Should men carry their share of the weight? Certainly. Should we leave children in the hands of women who don’t believe they are people and don’t want them? No. Should we force the fathers to share the poverty with these women and their unwanted children? No. Shall we then confiscate children from parents that cannot raise them? Make them wards of the state and then task the state with making sure they have the best life possible? Seems to me we probably shouldn’t even begin to head down that road, the road that is labeled banning abortion. That’s the point that I’ve been trying to make since this subject was forced into my personal space as a teenager, witnessing the misfortune of people who didn’t pay attention in health class. Someone will pay for the stupidity, eventually.
If, on the other hand, I were trying to craft political positions for the movers and shakers on the issue of abortion. If I were asked to advise them on the subject of whether to support this or that bill limiting women’s access to healthcare (as far-fetched as that notion would be) I would tell them to insist on a quid pro quo arrangement.
“Fine, I’ll support your interference in the health and family decisions of the average woman in exchange for legislation that guarantees that there will be no homeless children in our state. Legislation that insures no children go without meals or beds to sleep in or whatever level of education they prove themselves capable of working towards. Either we agree on this equal exchange, or I will torpedo your bill with every legislative trick that I can muster.”
That would be my advice. Anti-abortionists claim to be pro-life. It should be beholden on them to prove that they really are pro-life by making every child a wanted child, every child a child with a home, every child a child who is not hungry. Either that, or they can just admit that abortion is sometimes necessary and give up the whole idea of interfering in a woman’s right to choose. They are, after all, the shiftless men I’m talking about.
Punishment is where the entire roller coaster ride of anti-abortion sentiment goes off the rails. The moment that anti-abortionists decided to punish women for their promiscuity with forcing them to raise children they don’t want, they crossed an unforgivable line in the sand. Children are not punishment, and we cannot afford to treat them as punishment. Infants become adults, people with rights they can assert for themselves, and those people will take their dissatisfaction with their unwanted lives out on the rest of us.
This experiment has been tried in recent history and the results are known. Ask Nicolae Ceaușescu how well that worked out for him (another dictator that Trump would have loved) You can’t, because all those unwanted childrendragged him out of office and killed him. That is what has happened before when an authoritarian government attempted to make women raise children they didn’t want. If avoiding that fate means abortion is legal for the full term of a woman’s pregnancy, then so be it. As I said at the start of this article, anti-abortionists should have settled for what they already had, because all of the alternatives will be far less satisfying for them than the status quo is right now. Roe v. Wade was a conservative decision, far more conservative than what the status quo will be after the precedent is reversed, no matter which way the country goes after that. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
You demand this life be born to appease you miserable vengeful god, but you then abdicate any responsibility for it whatsoever. Life begins at conception and ends at birth, well, at least society’s responsibility for it. To you, “sacred” means life must be born, no matter the consequences, and then it can die in the dirt and it’s not your problem. You would force life into the world, but shrug off any responsibility to build a better world for it.
Reason, Observation and Experience – the Holy Trinity of Science – have taught us that happiness is the only good; that the time to be happy is now, and the way to be happy is to make others so. This is enough for us. In this belief we are content to live and die. If by any possibility the existence of a power superior to, and independent of, nature shall be demonstrated, there will then be time enough to kneel. Until then, let us stand erect.
I found it amusing that Mr. Strong felt he had to point out that Ingersoll was not an atheist but an agnostic. As a freethinker, I understand the finer points of the difference, probably better than W.F. Strong does. There is little doubt that Ingersoll had no use for religion as an institution, as this last quote should illustrate.
While utterly discarding all creeds, and denying the truth of all religions, there is neither in my heart nor upon my lips a sneer for the hopeful, loving and tender souls who believe that from all this discord will result a perfect harmony; that every evil will in some mysterious way become a good, and that above and over all there is a being who, in some way, will reclaim and glorify every one of the children of men; but for those who heartlessly try to prove that salvation is almost impossible; that damnation is almost certain; that the highway of the universe leads to hell; who fill life with fear and death with horror; who curse the cradle and mock the tomb, it is impossible to entertain other than feelings of pity, contempt and scorn.
This discussion started in the Babylon 5 fan group. There is a rule in the group that disallows all politics and religion that isn’t part of the show from being discussed in the group. If a post strays too far into the real world, the moderators will delete it. I know why moderators do this, but I don’t honestly care. It is unrealistic to expect human beings to be able to separate their beliefs from the entertainment that they enjoy. This is especially true of shows like Babylon 5 or Star Trek, shows that are always tweaking politics and religion in the course of their storytelling. Discuss any episode of the show without straying into weighty matters of philosophy or politics. Go ahead and try.
The long and the short of why I started the article this way is, I have no idea how long the writing I’ve done on the subject will exist within the Facebook group. It just takes one religious zealot, one antitheist, and the thread goes poof. Can you blame me that I want to export the writing so as preserve it?
This image is from the Babylon 5 episode Believers. Here is a link to a synopsis of the episode in case you haven’t seen it or if you don’t want to spend an hour watching the show right now. Also, you should stop reading now if you don’t want any spoilers before you watch the episode, because this article will be full of them.
Still with me? Okay then, here we go. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
The OP included this statement with the image, “I still remember how outraged I was when I saw it the first time.” A sentiment that I wholeheartedly endorse. When the episode aired back in 1994 I was furious when the credits rolled. As a young parent myself, I couldn’t imagine how any parent could be so blind as to do what the parents did in the final scenes of the episode. The story revolves around a sick child:
Shon, a young alien boy, has developed a “congested blockage in his upper air passages.” When Dr. Franklin explains to Shon’s parents that Shon’s condition can be cured by a fairly routine surgical procedure, the parents seem bewildered. “You will cut him open?” they ask, and explain that the “Chosen of God” cannot be “punctured” — for their souls will escape.
The main conflict of the episode, quoted above, is introduced in the teaser opening. The show starts this way for a reason and develops the way it does specifically in service to the moral quandary of the problem the episode will focus on. “Oh, but his soul!” say his parents. The soul is unmeasurable, unidentifiable. The soul, for the purposes of this episode, is non-existent. The McGuffin, in scriptwriting terms.
There are other episodes of the show where the soul is treated as a physical or at least a detectable energy presence. The episode Soul Hunter, eight episodes before this one in the first season, springs immediately to mind as an example of this. So the problem isn’t that there are no souls in the show, or that the writer, David Gerrold, didn’t flesh out the story well enough. It is simply necessary in this episode that the presence of the soul cannot be detected because if it could be verified as being present after the surgery, then there is no moral quandary. There is no story to tell.
When I ran across the thread discussing the episode it already had over 100 comments. However, in reading through the comments I found a near absence of understanding of the purposeful moral dilemma presented by the story. Comments like this one,
Sorry, but I call BS on that one. “Unmeasurable, unidentifiable; AKA, non-existent.” Is nothing more than an argument to silence. For the vast majority of human history things like cells, atoms, and gravity were “Unmeasurable, unidentifiable;” so they were “AKA, non-existent”, right? Just because it is not (yet) measurable does not mean it does not exist.
As I have mentioned a number of times about this episode, the reasons for this particular belief were not addressed. That’s either a failure of Franklin or David Gerrold.
His willingness to blame the writer and actor simply reveals his beliefs on this particular subject. His rejection of the argument is far more revealing of his moral rigidity and lack of understanding of the mechanics of storytelling than it is a truthful observation about the episode and the moral quandary that it contains.
Like the trolley problem, there is no right answer to this problem. In the trolley problem you are asked to choose between taking one life or five under varying circumstances. When the problem is framed one way, you predominantly get an answer that underscores utilitarian ethics; i.e. most people will choose to sacrifice one life to save five. However, when the problem is framed another way, usually requiring the person making the decision to take an active physical role in the decision by pushing a person onto the tracks to stop the trolley, as one example, most people will chose to allow the five people to die.
The problem here, narrowly defined, is medical intervention vs. natural selection. The doctor is required to help his patients. He makes a reference to this fact when he alludes to taking a medical oath to do no harm. The good doctor saw his moral obligation as at least attempting to save the child’s life. The child will end up dead no matter what the doctor does. Of course, neither he nor the audience knows this until the reveal at the end.
The parents knew their child was dying. They expected to find him dead when they are summoned back to the medical lab the final time in the show. They’d said their goodbyes. The struggle was over. When he was instead alive and well when they returned, they knew that the doctor had violated their beliefs and saved the child against their wishes. So they acted on their beliefs and did what they thought should have been allowed to happen in the first place.
If the soul is measurable, produce a measurement. If it is definable, define it in a way that can be demonstrated empirically. In this specific episode of Babylon 5 there was no measurement, no definition. In the world that we exist in, believers have been trying to prove the existence of the soul for hundreds of years. They have yet to demonstrate a single method for determining the properties of a soul, and yet few humans will step forward and say they have no soul. Why is this? The soul cannot be shown to be real by any measurement that we humans can attempt, and yet we all still believe that we all have a soul. That it is important we not deny the existence of our own souls.
The doctor is certain that the parents will see reason. He is certain about what his moral path is. The parents are certain that their child should be dead. They are certain of their moral path. The conflict is unresolvable, on purpose. You are supposed to question “what is the moral course?”
Delinn asks the only important question “Whose beliefs are the correct ones?” when she refuses to help the parents stop the operation. Whose beliefs are correct, and how do you demonstrate the correctness of your beliefs? What would have happened if the parents had accepted that their child was healthy but unchanged? If they had taken him home to their planet, would the rest of their people have recognized him as a demon on sight? Or would they have blithely accepted that medicine had saved the boy without sacrificing his soul? They wouldn’t know that he had been cut unless they could sense the change in his body like a soul hunter would in that other episode.
The boy’s parents did know, because they said goodbye to him minutes before he would have died only to return and find him alive and well. But if they could have accepted him, would anyone else have noticed? This was the lesson I learned from the episode and I’ve carried it with me ever since. You cannot save a child from their parents without removing the child from the parents. The separation has to be physical, and the child has to accept that this is the right thing to do. Without that action, without the agreement of the person you are trying to help, you will simply deliver the lamb to the slaughterer at another time and place, and you might as well have not bothered to make the attempt in the first place.
Act or not act, the outcome is the same in this story. The only question is, what was the moral thing to do? I still side with Dr. Franklin. You, however, are free to disagree.
The avalanche has already started; It is too late for the pebbles to vote.