Just a Little Common Sense

For a life based on reason, ethics, literature and art.

Posts Tagged ‘Politics

A Ban On Atheist Advertisement?

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I’m all for it. In fact, ban all  public advertisement. I want the right to walk out the door and not being told by giant billboards everywhere what I have to buy, whom I have to vote for, and what I have to think.

It is one thing to be offering “product information” on the airwaves, where it is my free decision to access or ignore it. Nobody is forcing me to watch TV – and if I do, I’ll accept the commercials as a collateral, knowing stations have to finance their programme somehow.

It is a different matter altogether to shove your ads in my fucking face, every single day, on my way to work.
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Written by Phil

November 28, 2010 at 17:57

Much Ado About Nothing

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My local catholics are playing dress-up again, walking the streets chanting and carrying candles. I left my window open for just a minute too long, and now my whole fucking room stinks of fucking incense. I am seething. Just what gives them the right to rub their silly rituals in my face like that?
If I’d run through public streets at this hour being as loud and producing as much smell, I’d be arrested within minutes. From noise pollution to disturbance of public peace, scandalization and what-not, I’d be charged with a variety of stuff and it’d end up being a very expensive prank. Plus, if I was wearing as silly a costume and a funny hat while annoying the shit out of people for no reason, I’d probably be put straight into the mental ward. And rightfully so, because that is where people who engage in this kind of activity belong. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Phil

November 14, 2010 at 19:34

Iran: Over 70 People Executed in Mashad

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The following report was published yesterday, August 15th 2010, by the Human Rights House Of Iran, RAHANA.

RAHANA – It has been reported that some of these individuals arrested in relation to drug trafficking, had been handed down sentences that did NOT include the death penalty and had only been fined. Despite these sentences, they were executed suddenly and without prior notice based on a judicial order.

picture courtesy of iranian.com

Archive picture

According to reports by Iran Green Voice, the reason behind this sudden decision to execute has not been provided by the judiciary, however, there is speculation that the order was executed by Intelligence and Security Institutions. Previously, based on a similar case in the city of Mashhad at the start of the 1st term of Ahmadinejad’s presidency when ties between high-ranking security officials and a drug trafficking group were exposed, more than 60 people (mainly citizens of Torbat-e Jam and Taibad) associated with that case file were also suddenly executed. At that time, a number of the relatives of the security forces in question were also executed.

It is worth mentioning that based on received reports, this last round of executions included names of individuals under the age of 18.

Ahmad Eghbal, political activist arrested on December 21st, 2009 and released after 170 days in prison on June 10th, 2010, on approximately 48,000 USD bail made the following statement in court during his defense: “During my three-month incarceration at ward 6/1 at Vakil Abad prison, based on confirmed information I heard from the prison officials and crew, more than 50 individuals were transferred to ward 6/1 and later executed. However, at one point when 31 individuals were executed, the Justice Department and Information Ministry in Khorasan informed a news paper in Khorasan that only 5 international drug traffickers had been executed.”

The government of the Islamic Republic of Iran continues to execute its citizens despite international protests against such actions. The reported number of executions in prisons across Iran is still extremely high.

via freedomessenger.com

It is not even an exceptional story. The Iranian regime does stuff like this on a daily basis – just go to freedomessenger.com or the Rahana homepage to get a taste. And do keep in mind that these are only the fraction of the stories that the agencies and activists of Iran judge newsworthy enough to be translated into english. These are only the spectacular cases. What absolutely astonishes me is the utter disregard the regime shows for its international reputation. They just do not seem to care at all. The only thing that astonishes me even more it the complete lack of action from the west. There is not even a word of condemnation, and Iran’s seat in the UN Human Rights Council remains unchallenged.

Stories like this one do not even make the news over here. There we have a regime that didn’t even bother trying to cover up the rigging of its election, which is bad enough in itself, and a few days ago they executed over 70 people – few of them under the age of 18, most of them without even a justification, all of them without proper trial – and the rest of the world just looks on and does nothing.
And no, I’m not one of those calling for an invasion. But I do ask that we display the minimum of concern and put some political pressure on the regime. We cannot let them go on spitting in the face of the very idea of Human Rights like that. Condemn the actions that are taking place, ask for justification, acknowledge the reports of human rights organizations. I urge everyone to raise awareness of the situation. Spread the word, write to your political representative and news stations and ask them to take a stand.

Are You Sure  You’re Not Catholic?

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The question sounds silly only as long as you don’t know about the weird policy the church has regarding whom they consider to be a member. Essentially, once you’ve been baptized they regard you as a member for life – it doesn’t matter whether you actually believe in any of their doctrine, attend service, or belong to any community. Once a member, always a member, like it or not.
There are only two ways to end your membership in the Roman Catholic Church (and, by the way, most other churches too): Through either excommunication or formal defection.

Why is this important?
So if you have ever been baptized, by default you should assume that you are a member. Now before I tell you how to put an end to that sorry state, let’s discuss what reasons there are for withdrawing your membership. It’s quite simple: As most of us live in democracies, the churches’ claim to power is the number of people it represents, or claims to represent. Large membership numbers give them a kind of we-are-the-people-authority. Ending your membership is the most direct and effective way of diminishing the churches political power.
You don’t need to be an atheist to withdraw your membership, either. I think even believers should consider quitting the church; it seems quite obvious to me that if there was a god, this corporation organization of child-molesting, genocidal, chauvinist virgins is probably the one organization furthest away from representing his views. The structural problems and the political agenda that organization has by far outweigh any possible benefits that being a member could possibly have – Read the bible if you must, follow Jesus if you like, but please maintain enough of a link to reality to understand that the “Holy See” is pretty much the definition of evil, that condoms are a good thing, that stem-cell research saves lives without harming anyone, and that a woman’s interest in determining the course of her own life exceeds the imaginary right of a small, unfeeling, unconscious clot of cells to survive. You are perfectly free to believe in a higher being, and worship it by whatever name, but you should be awake enough to realize that the church is a political organization that represents views that, throughout history, have clearly shown to be extremely damaging to society.
So now that established the reasons to end your membership, how do you go about it? As I’ve said before, there are two ways: Excommunication and formal defection. Let’s take a look at both.

Excommunication
It’s the unlikely option. Excommunication means that you do something so horrible that the church herself will take action to end your membership, or as they put it, “deprive you of the privileges of being a member”.
You may think that in an organization as conservative as the catholic church it should be pretty easy to shock them enough to kick you out, and you’d be wrong. As recent history has shown, being excommunicated turns out to be rather hard. Apparently, things like genocide or the molestation and rape of over 200 deaf boys just don’t seem to be enough. Covering up all those crimes doesn’t do the trick, either. Well, you might always try to do one of those really revolting, unforgivable things, like getting divorced. That worked pretty well back in the 16th century, but recently the church seems to be loosening up on that one.

Formal Defection
Formal defection definitely is the more workable solution. Write a letter to your local bishop or parish priest. Here is a beautiful example of what that might look like:

Cardinal Francis George
c/o Archdiocese of Chicago
835 N. Rush St.
Chicago, IL 60611-2030

Declaration of Defection from the Roman Catholic Church

I, ——–, do hereby give formal notice of my defection from the Roman Catholic Church. I do not consider myself part of the church, and I have not attended or donated to any church since 2004. I do not believe in God, the divinity or resurrection of Jesus, the immaculate conception or assumption of Mary, or the Holy Ghost. I am an atheist and have been working to promote skepticism of religion since 2008.
I am especially repulsed by the church’s teachings regarding homosexuality. I reject the notion that homosexual desires or the expression of these desires are in any way sinful, disordered, or an “intrinsic moral evil.” On the contrary, the church’s continual mistreatment of gay people is the true moral evil at work here.

Make sure your defection gets noted in your baptismal register, though that should happen more or less automatically. Bureaucratic stuff like that is one area the church is actually good at. It might be of interest to you that defecting from the church does not actually undo your baptism. According to the laws of their weird twisted fantasy-land, the baptism is a mark that “is an ontological and permanent bond which is not lost by reason of any act or fact of defection”, meaning that although they recognize that you left the “earthly” organization of the RCC, they cannot change your underlying identity as a catholic, which results in your soul still being subject to all canon laws, whatever that means.
However, what the defection does  is stopping them to use you as a number in their statistic to justify their political power. And that makes it totally worth it.

PS: In some countries the process might be more complicated, namely when the state is involved in the administration of membership and church tax. I can’t tell you much about that, but I’m sure that in pretty much any country of this world there are secular organizations happy to provide you with all the information and help you might need. If you’re a German planning to leave the church, feel free to contact me. I’ll be glad to help out or put you in touch with organizations that will.

Orwell’s “Two Minutes Hate”: Uganda Made it Real

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Female Gay Atheist Prime Ministers

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I came across two great stories today. Both are about Female Prime Ministers, namely the ones of Iceland and of Australia. Both of them are pretty much the pope’s worst nightmare come true: Women in positions of political power, who are not ashamed of their sexuality and even worse, are open apostates.

Yesterday, the Telegraph published a story about the marriage of Johanna Sigurdardottir, Prime Minister of Iceland. She married her long time partner Jonina Leosdottir on last Sunday, the day gay marriage became legal in Iceland after the legislation was unanimously passed on june 12. They had been in a civil union since 2002, which has now been formally transformed into a marriage.

The other story has been covered already, but it’s so great that I’m gonna share it again anyhow: Australia’s PM Julia Gillard openly talked about her lack of faith on a radio interview with 744 ABC Melbourne at 9 am this morning. The Interviewer asked her straight out whether she believed in god, and her reply was an unambiguous “no I don’t, John. I’m not a religious person.” She then elaborated on her upbringing in a Baptist family but said that she chose to “pursue a different path in my adult life.” The interviewer also asked her about how she was going to attract the “vital christian vote”. Her awesome reply was that she was “not going to pretend a faith I don’t feel”. She gained some points on my  authenticity-scale with that one. Her clear message was that she was concerned for Australia as a whole and was not going to suck up to a particular group in order to gain votes. I like that. You can find the interview here, the bit about religion starts at 6:30 min before the end of the segment. (it’s got a weird backwards-counting timer, hence my odd phrasing)

I think this is great news. It is an indicator that there is some change happening. Public perception is shifting, on the topic of homosexuality as well as on the topic of religion. It’s awesome to see it moving into the right direction.

Written by Phil

June 29, 2010 at 13:54

A Huge Step Forwards: Obama Acknowledges Gay Parents

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Words of common sense from the White House – who would’ve thought?
In his Father’s Day speech, Barack Obama acknowledged same-sex parenthood.

Fatherhood also carries enormous responsibilities. An active, committed father makes a lasting difference in the life of a child. When fathers are not present, their children and families cope with an absence government cannot fill. Across America, foster and adoptive fathers respond to this need, providing safe and loving homes for children facing hardships. Men are also making compassionate commitments outside the home by serving as mentors, tutors, or big brothers to young people in their community. Together, we can support the guiding presence of male role models in the lives of countless young people who stand to gain from it.

Nurturing families come in many forms, and children may be raised by a father and mother, a single father, two fathers, a step father, a grandfather, or caring guardian.

(My bold.)

Finally, somebody in american politics talking sense about parenthood, and acknowledging that a parental bond is not dependant on biological kinship. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Phil

June 22, 2010 at 06:40

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