Democrats Shouldn’t Wish For Santorum For President

File this one under “Be careful what you wish for”. If you’re a liberal, you look at all the batshit crazy things Santorum is saying and you silently wish for him to win the Republican nomination, because no one in their right mind would actually vote for this guy over Obama right? I mean, sure, the extreme right-wingers will vote for him but he has no chance in a general election against Obama, right? Don’t be so sure. I was the one that thought Stephen Harper wouldn’t get elected a second time. He did. Then I thought he wouldn’t get elected a third time. He did, with a majority this time. And Canadians are socialists compared to Americans. Yet we’ve had a conservative government here for much longer than I find acceptable.
I get the thinking behind it, I do. You think someone like Santorum is too far to the right to have a chance. That’s what every Democrat will think and they’ll stay home on voting day. And Santorum will win because if there’s anything batshit crazy people do, it’s vote. Then you can’t wake up from the nightmare that is President Santorum. Be careful what you wish for.

People Against Abortion Rights Can’t Say They’re Pro-Life

Dr. Jen Gunter posted an enlightening story about an abortion gone wrong a couple of weeks ago that I only got around to today. It is horrifying and heart-wrenching at the same time. It’s short so you should go over and read it. It’s the perfect example of the consequences of this crusade against abortion rights.  All these people claim to want to protect life but they are always more concerned about a collection of cells not yet resembling a person than about the woman. Why is it that her life is not worth protecting? Why is her life expendable? How can you have the nerve to say you are “pro-life” when you know your actions are causing a desperate woman to risk her own life?

I’m appalled, disgusted and really just incredibly sad that this is what we’ve come to. What is wrong with society that we don’t value this woman’s life? We should do better.

Government Legislated Rape

I have heard about this for the last few days and I’ve waited this long to blog about it because I wanted to calm down first. I didn’t want to just shake my fist and rant. I’m not sure my plan will succeed since it seems to me that my anger has only gotten worse in the past few days.

Virginia has passed a bill that says a woman wanting an abortion needs to get an ultrasound beforehand. Once again, this is conservatives trying to put up roadblocks to any woman getting an abortion. Except it gets worse. Much worse. It turns out that most abortions take place before an external ultrasound would show anything (within the first twelve weeks of a pregnancy) so that means that these women would need to get a transvaginal ultrasound. Yes, it is as bad as it sounds. It means that a doctor has to insert a probe into a woman’s vagina in order to get an image. As bad as that sounds, even that is not the worst part. It turns out that they will do this without the woman’s consent. Yes, you are reading that right. The government is saying that an object must be inserted inside a woman’s vagina for no valid medical reason without her consent. Last I checked, that was rape. So there you go. Virginia is saying it’s ok for it to rape you. What. The. Fuck.

So they are using the usual excuses for this. One is that women should make a fully informed decision. Apparently, women are too stupid to make a fully informed decision without getting violated. I never got how this was a viable argument. Even if it’s just a regular ultrasound (the goo on the stomach kind), how does it provide any more information? The woman knows she’s pregnant. The ultrasound will show she’s pregnant. No more information than she had before.

There are several problems I see with the passage of this law. I will take these in no particular order.

First, there has not been nearly enough outrage expressed about this. Not even close. Everyone and their dog should be shouting how wrong this is. I am seriously dismayed that people in general are not taking this more seriously. Is it apathy? Is it that no one thinks that this will be enforced? Whatever it is, it’s not a good enough reason. Everyone in Virginia should be calling their representatives and telling them they are going to vote their asses out of office for this.

Also, has no one thought about women who are already victims of rape? Just imagine a woman who has been raped and finds out that she’s pregnant from that horrible experience. It’s understandable she would not want to carry her rapist’s baby to term so she wants to get a legal abortion, something she thinks is the right thing for her to be able to get on with her life. The government seems to think the right thing to do here is to rape her all over again. Because apparently, she hasn’t been through enough already. Again. What. The. Fuck.

The other thing is this implication that only a certain kind of person gets an abortion. Conservatives sell this image of the woman who gets an abortion: a sexually loose, irresponsible, inconsiderate slut who has no respect for human life. Why not make her go through something unpleasant and demeaning? That way, maybe she’ll think twice about doing it again. For the record, even if it were true that only irresponsible women got abortions,  it should not be an issue. An abortion is a legal procedure that every woman should have access to if she wants one. Her sexual habits are no one’s business but her own and her sexual partner’s. Also for the record, the fact is that every kind of woman gets an abortion. Every woman has a reason to get an abortion at the time she gets it. She could be anyone. A teacher, student, lawyer, doctor, secretary, plumber, mechanic, mother, soldier. She could be catholic, protestant, mormon, atheist, muslim, buddhist. Don’t kid yourselves. Just because someone is religious doesn’t mean they can’t have something happen in their lives that makes it so they can’t handle having a kid at that particular point in time. No one but her can make that decision. No one but her should make that decision.

This is just another instance in this recent trend of attacking women’s rights. All these decisions seem to be made by a majority of men too. It’s interesting that these men don’t think that there is anything wrong with forcibly introducing an object into a woman’s vagina as a condition for her to have a medical procedure. I’ve seen and heard a few people make the argument that this would be equivalent to saying men can’t get access to erectile dysfunction drugs unless they get sodomized. While it seems to make a good argument in the moment, I actually don’t think that comes close. What happens to a man who doesn’t get ED drugs? He doesn’t get to have a normal sex life. That sucks and I really am not trying to diminish this but let’s compare that to a woman who doesn’t get an abortion. She gets a baby she doesn’t want. That’s a lifetime commitment. And that’s only if everything goes right. There are a variety of complications that can occur during a pregnancy, including death of the woman. Also, I’m not sure that I want to sink to their level to make my point. My point is that requiring women to be raped before they can get an abortion is wrong. So I don’t think we should suggest doing it to someone else, whether it be to get even or make the point. It’s wrong. No one should be violated for any reason.

Rape in the Military

Liz Trotta did an interview/commentary on Fox News about rapes in the military. It’s a vomit-inducing rant about how the army should have expected rapes to go up when they allowed women in the military because, apparently, putting women and men in close contact automatically leads to rape. I’m not sure who should be more insulted: the women or the men.

On the one hand, she’s basically saying that men are incapable of self-control when put in proximity to women. That’s pretty bad. It’s almost like accusing men of being unthinking savages completely controlled by their sexual desires. If that’s really the case though, why aren’t all men rapping women on the street. They are in close contact with each other. Why isn’t 5th avenue one big rape-fest?

On the other hand, she’s basically saying that the women are asking for it just by being in the military. That’s a terrible thing to say about people who want to serve their country. It’s a terrible thing to say about anyone. No one ever asks for rape. Making comments like that only perpetuates the backwards thinking that continues to minimize rape in our society. The answer is never to avoid the situations, by preventing women from serving in the military for example. What we need to do is educate people. We need to teach people to work with each other in high pressure situations and not take out their stress on each other. We need to make it ok to report rape when it happens. We need to support raped soldiers, not treat them as if they have done something wrong. We need to make them understand that it does not make them weak, or any less of a soldier, if they are raped.

That’s another problem. Not only do we have a habit of blaming the victim, but we blame them for being victims. There seems to be this thought that somehow being a victim of rape makes someone less of a person. The stigma is even worse for soldiers. They are supposed to be tough, fearless, able to fend off any attack. It’s even harder for them to come forward because they will feel like even more of a failure. We have to work on that. We need to support soldiers because they risk their lives to defend our way of life.

Cardinal Withdraws Apology for Sex Abuse

File this one under further proof that the catholic church is utterly full of itself. A cardinal has just withdrawn his 2002 apology for the way the catholic church handled the sex abuse scandals:

In an interview this week with Connecticut Magazine, Cardinal Edward Egan, withdrew his 2002 apology for the Church’s handling of the sex-abuse scandal, which was once read in all New York parishes.

A decade after that letter, the former archbishop of New York, and former bishop of Bridgeport, now describes the handling of the priest-abuse crisis under his watch as “incredibly good.” He said of the letter, “I never should have said that,” and added, “I don’t think we did anything wrong.”

Wow. Just… wow. It amazes me that they think they did nothing wrong. Then again, it probably shouldn’t amaze me. These people think they are above the law. They are convinced that the rules of society don’t apply to them because they are better than everyone else. Part of the problem is that we let them get away with it. Prosecutors should be lining up to take the abusive priests to court and hold them accountable for the damage they have done to countless children and their families. They should also go after all the others in the church who kept quiet and did not report the crimes to authorities. In all I have read about scandal after scandal, I don’t recall reading about anyone getting charged, either for the crimes themselves or for protecting the guilty.

That’s the problem. When the church does this and no one punishes them for it, it sends the message that they can keep doing it and it’s ok. How many times were priests moved from church to church after they had molested children just so they could have a fresh start and do it again? Just think how many children could have been spared if these people had been stopped at the first instance. This is a consequence of us not being willing as a society to call out religions on the things they do wrong. We don’t want to criticize religion because it’s not politically correct. It’s not acceptable. Oddly enough, it seems to be more acceptable to let kids get traumatized just so we can spare antagonizing the church. That is absolutely unacceptable in my book. It should be unacceptable to everyone, including the catholic church. If the church had any morals, they would be the first ones to condemn the actions of the molesters and the ones who protected them. But of course, they don’t. Because they are in it just to protect their own interests. They don’t care who gets hurt as long as it’s not the church.

This is yet another example of religion being harmful. I use to be one of those people who thought that everyone should just live and let live. The problem is that the religious are actually causing harm. They kill kids when they refuse to take them to the doctor because they want to pray for them instead. They oppress women by refusing them access to contraception. These sex scandals are just another notch in religion’s belt of harm.

These situations make me even more angry because one of the comments I always get when someone finds out I’m an atheist is: “How do you know the difference between right and wrong without religion?” The cardinal retracting his apology make me wonder how anyone religious can tell the difference between right and wrong. They certainly don’t have good role models and there are not nearly enough religious people denouncing these kinds of actions. I still don’t understand for the life of me how there are still catholics in the world. I just don’t understand.

Via the Blue Collar Atheist

One Step Forward, One Step Back

Proposition 8 was ruled unconstitutional in California. That is absolutely a step in the right direction. I ultimately think the case will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court and, if the court ends up hearing the case, I hope they will also end up making the right decision.

While watching the rejoicing on Twitter and Google+ about the Prop 8 decision, I was reminded that I had finished reading a heart-wrenching Rolling Stone article by Sabrina Rubin Erdely about a town in Minnesota that’s been driving its gay teens to suicide. Go read it, but be warned it’s an emotional article and it’s difficult to get through. I remember being in high school… kids are cruel. I just don’t remember kids being that cruel. After her friend killed herself, one student transferred schools to attempt to start fresh and escape the bullying and was faced with this:

Her very first day of eighth grade, eight boys crowded around her on the bus home. “Hey, Brittany, I heard your friend Sam shot herself,” one began.

“Did you see her blow her brains out?”

“Did you pull the trigger for her?”

“What did it look like?”

“Was there brain all over the wall?”

“You should do it too. You should go blow your head off.”

Seriously? Who is raising these kids? Who in their right mind, at any age, thinks it’s ok to tell someone they should blow their head off? Has bullying gotten worse than when I was in high school (about fifteen years ago)? Are small towns worse (I went to school in the suburbs of a decent-sized city)? Is the U.S. more polarized about LGBT issues (I’m Canadian)?

What was even more shocking about this story is the inaction from the faculty at any of these schools when kids were bullied. The policy they had in place basically made all the teachers afraid for their jobs if they did anything to come to the bullied teens’ defence.

At the close of the seven-month-long sex-ed review, Anderson and her colleagues wrote a memo to the Anoka-Hennepin school board, concluding, “The majority of parents do not wish to have there [sic] children taught that the gay lifestyle is a normal acceptable alternative.” Surprisingly, the six-member board voted to adopt the measure by a four-to-two majority, even borrowing the memo’s language to fashion the resulting districtwide policy, which pronounced that within the health curriculum, “homosexuality not be taught/addressed as a normal, valid lifestyle.”

The policy became unofficially known as “No Homo Promo” and passed unannounced to parents and unpublished in the policy handbooks; most teachers were told about it by their principals. Teachers say it had a chilling effect and they became concerned about mentioning gays in any context. Discussion of homosexuality gradually disappeared from classes. “If you can’t talk about it in any context, which is how teachers interpret district policies, kids internalize that to mean that being gay must be so shameful and wrong,” says Anoka High School teacher Mary Jo Merrick-Lockett. “And that has created a climate of fear and repression and harassment.”

Nine kids killed themselves in two years in the district. Let that sink in for a minute. The school board decided to stick their heads in the sand and pretend that the bullying wasn’t going on. When teachers heard a kid get called “fag” or “dyke”, they ignored it because the policy said to ignore it.

Once again, the religious right was promoting the idea that it was the kids’ fault for being gay. They could avoid being bullied if they would just not be gay. Who know it was that simple? (In case it’s not obvious, I am being sarcastic here).

I’m always conflicted when these situations are brought up. I think it’s human nature to want to assign blame but I’m never sure who should be blamed for these tragedies. I think the schools and teachers have a responsibility to protect children while they are at school. So a kid should not have to walk the halls of their school and hear discriminatory slurs (whether they be about race, gender, sexual orientation, etc). Faculty should stop that and discipline the kids accordingly with the behaviour. In this day and age though, the bullying extends beyond school into social media or even just in person off school grounds, after hours. The thing is, where are the parents? Before any of you jump down my throat, I don’t mean the parents of the bullied teens. I don’t think it’s possible to know what’s going on in your kid’s head. I think kids that age want to protect their parents to a certain degree. They also don’t want their parents to think that they are weak so they keep quiet. There’s nothing a parent can do in that situation. You can’t read your kid’s mind. But what about the parents of the bullies? Why aren’t these parents raising their kids better? Why are they not teaching their kids that it’s not ok to treat others like pond scum?

The answer of course is that the parents are sometimes just as bad as the kids. They are teaching their kids that it’s ok to treat gays and lesbians this way. This is where the disconnect happens for me. I’ve never understood how people can treat other people in such a disgusting manner because of something that is beyond that other person’s control.  How can mistreating someone like that be considered acceptable. Religious people constantly ask how atheists can possibly be moral if they don’t have god and religion to guide them but a situation likes this makes me wonder what their definition of morality is. Their religion is their excuse to mistreat people.

The 9th Circuit Court took a step forward when they made the ruling on Prop 8. Unfortunately, religion keeps society walking backwards. We should not stand for that.

Hat tip to PZ Myers for the Rolling Stone article.

Don’t Trust In God

For all those who ask “What’s the harm in religion?”, you have to watch this YouTube video. It’s two hours long, but completely worth your time. It’s a series of interviews with religious people (mostly christians) and atheists about religion. I was particularly appalled by the portion of the film where the interviewer asked people if they would kill someone, their own child possibly, if god asked them to. Way too many of them said yes. When asked how they would know it was god, most answers were along the lines of they would just know. Wow. Just wow.

I always find it surprising that christians constantly say that we should be tolerant of their beliefs and accommodating to them. Yet they are never inclined to be accommodating to any other view but their own. How can they be that blind to their own hypocrisy? It’s also hilarious that many of the christians make fun of the beliefs of other religions. They think that other peoples’ beliefs are far-fetched and stupid but their beliefs are what? Completely rational? Give me a break.

I am grateful the filmmaker interspersed the movie with interviews of atheists and humanists. It was the only thing that prevented my head from blowing up.

Also, homosexuality is worse than slavery because the bible says so.

The stupid. It hurts.

Via The Friendly Atheist