Socially Contracted Resistance

I was having a bit of lunch with Dave and I brought up a conundrum I was working on.  The couple in Oregon that possessed a bakery that refused to bake a cake for a gay couple.  I found the ruling against them reprehensible as I firmly believe that, with a few exceptions, the state should not compel the services of a private individual.  Despite it being a significant cultural and semi-religious event, the marriage of any two people is hardly a necessary action requiring legal or medical intervention.  And yet, I find almost all forms of racism or sexism to be incredibly stupid- I simply cannot attach a personal or emotional response to the idea of prejudice being attached to a race or sex purely on the grounds that they are that particular race or sex.  If you’re a hoodlum, whether your black, white, or any other color is irrelevant next to the actions that you, or your group, are taking right now.  Your color or sex did not, in and of itself, make you take actions that would have you designated as a deviant, criminal, or person of low or criminal character.

Yes, I understand that religious training, personal upbringing, sociological conditioning can cause people to associate certain aspects of race or gender with attributes that are considered negative.  However, if you step back from that, the reasoning and evidence do not hold up.  Women can, within physiological norms, be just as capable as men in any traditional role.  Jews are not part of a cabal controlling the world, at least no more so than any other political or religious group.  Blacks are not inherently inferior to whites.  So, to me, the idea of refusing to service an individual or group purely on the basis of their skin color, sexual orientation, etc, makes no sense to me.  From a self-interest perspective, racism and sexism don’t make a lot of economic sense unless you’re attempting to perpetuate a form of control over a population for the purposes of actual gain.  In today’s day and age, I don’t believe that is especially viable in the United States.

And therein lies the conundrum – if I support the right of people to choose, to not be coerced into service, does that weaken my firmly held position on all people being inherently equal.  I fear that if we were able to suddenly repeal all legislation requiring non-discrimination, to remove the yoke of the State, that we would begin to separate ourselves along racial and religious lines again.  I do not believe I would have thought that two to four years ago, but after the election of Presidents Obama and Trump, I have seen a much deeper sexism and racism than I thought existed here.  This conflicts with my deeply held belief that we have an implicit obligation to work to better ourselves and our fellow human beings as much as possible.  As Dave reminded me, there is a difference between legal and moral, and I’m not unaware of the difference.  Right now the State has gathered together increasing power over its citizens to the degree that even the thought of compelling service in support of racial and sexual equality is not enough for me to want to allow them to do it.  Perhaps it is time that we take an apparent step back in order to move ourselves very painfully forward.  And yet, beware that yo do not get what you have asked for…

Drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra…

I came across this shortly after Carrie Fisher’s death.

I realize by it’s very formation that the ‘zine is trying to develop and appeal to the feminist image, or at least, what passes for feminism these days, but I think they might be trying too hard.  When you cannot laugh at yourself, you have begun to take the world, and your situation in it, way too seriously.

The job of the news

I’ve started to actively disagree with things when I encounter them.  It’s not that I have necessarily become more extreme in my views so much as I’ve become more vocal.  I’m more sure of my self when I voice my opinion or advocate for my position.  I don’t try to steam roll anyone, or advance my position via belligerence, I just state my case in as honest and factual manner as possible.  What’s more, I hold others to the same standard.  I didn’t used to be that way.  There was a time when I said everyone was entitled to their own opinion, as if that meant they shouldn’t be confronted on things when they lied or misrepresented the situation.  I now longer believe that.  Now, if you can’t present your position using available facts, I call you on it.  You might have an opinion, but that no longer means it is valid simply because you exist.  It turns out you can be wrong.  Utterly, irretrievably wrong.  If you continue to promote that position, irrespective of the factual evidence, I have a problem and I will take it up with you.

For example, I present to you this Billings Gazette article.  It is somewhat light on facts, very heavy on assumptions, and absolutely without shame with regards to implied guilt.  I don’t agree with that approach by a news paper.  A news paper’s job, it’s very reason for existence in an ethical world, is to report the situation in as neutral and factual manner as possible as determined by the ideals left throughout history.  Leave the people to determine their own opinions, beyond the influence of the news.  Nothing about this article took that approach and I am disgusted that it was printed.  If we do not expect the best, demand the best, then we are left with what we are given.  Ideals are just that, perfection in a vacuum, but we strive towards them so that we might do better than we have in the past.  That is my expectation, and challenge, to the Billings Gazette.  Do better.


*** Updated *** Less than thirty minutes after I wrote my letter and posted this, the Billings Gazette actually called me to let me know that they received my letter and that it would be forwarded to the managing editor. I don’t know if anything will happen beyond that, but I will give credit where credit is due, I did not believe the Gazette would even acknowledge what I had written, much less contact me. Still, if anyone else feels the same way I do, or even differently!, please take the time to write the Gazette. If we don’t start holding our media to a higher standard, how we can we expect them to change?

Memorial Dal

I’m not sure there are many sacred cows left to me.  Yesterday was Memorial Day, a day meant for reflection and remembrance of our fallen soldiers.  I guess if you’re only going to set aside one day to remember a specific subset of the dead, a Monday in May will do the job.  I personally don’t have a problem with the idea, though if we’re going to honor soldiers, don’t we already have Veteran’s Day?  Am I not to remember the living soldiers in May, and the dead in November?  Technically, I believe that is the case..

I’m pretty conflicted about the holiday.  Not because I don’t honor our veteran’s, or those who have sacrificed their lives in military service to our country, but because I think we’ve allowed ourselves to define patriotism in terms of warfare, and in doing so, we have failed to honor our country.

I’m still thinking on it, working out what it is I want to say, but it’s coming.

Implacable Opposition

I’m a pacifist at heart.  Not because I don’t like violence, I’m actually a bit fond of it.  Not because I am weak, as I have the will commit intentional harm.  No, I’m a pacifist because I find violence stupid.  It’s stupid to harm another person because we disagree, or don’t believe in the same things, or any of the other two million reasons we routinely use to hurt each other.  It’s stupid that we have to harm people because they wish to do us, or others, harm.  It’s stupid that we glorify violence and violent means as the ultimate option to exercise our viewpoints over others.  Be passionate, be disagreeable, stand firm for your beliefs- but do no harm, if you can.


Christian Values or Christian State?

You hear it a lot, especially among the conservative right, but also among more middle of the road Christian groups.  “We need to return to good Christian values,” or “We need a Christian leader to bring us back to our values.”  Simple, earnest statements, but I suspect what they really mean is, “We need a Christian government, a Christian State.”  You see, they* talk about values on one hand, but then segue into talking about everything from prayer and Creationism in schools to the regulation of Muslims and other nationalities that, “Don’t reflect the beliefs and values that this country was founded on.”

Statements like these are tough for me to deal with.  Being a Christian, though, admittedly, not one of any particular dogmatic bent, I have incorporated, or identified, a lot of so called Christian values in my world view.  But I also know that those values can exist independently of the Christian faith, and often do.  If you Google “Christian Values”, you’re likely to come up with roughly ten statements that seem to consistently represent Christian Values, all theologically supported, of course.  Many of these values are recognized by other religions and philosophies as being solid foundations for being a decent human being.  If you dispense with the theology behind the principles, you still have a solid foundation for ethical, productive living.  My conflict comes from my personal belief that these values are not exclusive to Christianity, and in some aspects, have been perverted by the faith as a means to a political end.  I cannot support a call to Christian values or leadership in light of this, and yet I support them exclusive of their religious influence.  The vast majority of my Christian friends would view this negatively.  After all, am I not rejecting Christ and His authority?

My ideology wars with the teachings of my faith on many, many things, yet I am not content to merely reject one in favor of another.  I have certainly moved from my fundamentalist beginnings to something else, though what I do not know.

I am not done with this, yet.


The hole cost

I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.
Read more at:

I really don’t know enough about Eisenhower, but I do know he had some excellent quotes.  Whoever, or whatever else he might have been, he had that going for him.

The above quote brings to mind much of what I am seeing today.  We have a warmongering leadership, and have had one, for quite some time.  Our response to societal discord and discontent is violence.  We glorify it in music and movies – the righteous response of a man done wrong.  We romanticize it.  Indeed, we dream of one day doing it.  “Tear it from my cold dead hands!” exclaims Charlton Heston during an NRA rally.  Whether it’s a burglar breaking in to our house, an armed lunatic in line at McDonald’s or the ever present Government, we know what our response will be and we are primed for it.

There is a parable I am fond of remembering.  I try to keep it in the forefront of my mind at all times; a golden rule, you might say.  The bare bones of it is about a father who has a son that is always losing his temper and lashing out at the people around him.  He is admonished, feels guilty and apologizes to those he has lashed out at, but he continues to lose his temper, failing to change his ways.  One day the father brings his son a hammer and nails and directs him to hammer a nail into the fence surrounding their yard every time he feels the desire to lash out come upon him.  At first there are many, many nails, but over the weeks there are fewer and fewer nails, until one day the son does not add a new nail to the fence.  He has learned the first step to peace.  The father then instructs the boy that for every day he does not put a nail into the fence he may take one out.  Over many months the son slowly removes all the nails until there are none remaining.  He has learned the second step to peace.  Standing there with his father, looking at the fence, the son notices how many ugly holes are now all over the fence, marring its appearance.  His father explains to him- “The nails were your anger, damaging the fence with each new nail you added.  When you removed them, that was your apology.  The holes that remain is the damage left in your wake.  An apology removes the nail, but only by controlling your anger can you prevent the harm.”  The son began to understand the why of peace.

We cherish our anger, proud of how we might use it, but we do not see the holes.

Post Debate – The First Penis

Back around 1996 there was a movie featuring Jack Lemmon and James Garner titled, “My Fellow Americans“.  Tonight’s debate, and the references to certain anatomical parts reminded me of a scene in which former President Douglas, played by James Garner, is using the restroom.  In comes a gentlemen who recognizes him and wants to shake his hand.  Garner’s line is fantastic, “I can’t shake right now. Have to keep my hands on the First Penis.”  Very apt, this evening.

Great movie by the way, grab a chance to watch it, if you can.