Thursday, July 28, 2011

On Free Speech: In-Tolerance 2

Funny how last week I talked about the fraudulent idea of "free speech" as it's used to protect all sorts of nasty villains and bullies.

And then another rampage happens. And dozens upon dozens of youth are murdered viciously by another raving lunatic who has been inspired by some crazy manifestos. Including The Unabomber.

And anti-Muslim blogs not unlike Pam Geller's and Robert Spencer's.

If you've not had a chance to check out Atlas Shrugged, please don't. It's full of vile hatred and conspiracies against Muslims and any people group associated with them. The type that spew outrage about the so-called Ground Zero Mosque and that allege that every evil committed on God's green earth is done by Muslims or their sympathizers.

And the mass murderer linked to her site fifteen times in his "manifesto".

Of course, she is very defensive about this. And now every time another suicide bomber goes off, she wonders what liberal blogger inspired him/her.

Sadly, she doesn't really seem to understand that the policies of First World nations in Yemen, Gaza, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq are more responsible for pulling the triggers than possibly any other direct or indirect influence. Poverty is and breeds violence.

But Geller, like most relatively wealthy Americans, doesn't understand this. Glenn Beck obviously doesn't get this. And so he blames the victims - again - calling their political camp an indoctrination space just like the Hitler youth. (Yes, we all know he says Hitler like Rudy says 9/11, like fish need water, etc.)

The scary part? I saw some people criticize it, and then, out of the woodwork, others were coming out and saying what an inspiration he is. Not apologizing. Not stepping away from. But just short of deifying.

And those that were criticizing him? Apparently, they were actively seeking to censor the voice of reason and dissent on behalf of their Dear Leader, Barack Obama.


I really have no interest in a "debate" with Beck, Limbaugh, Geller or any of their uber-paranoid ditto-heads. There's no point trying to dialogue with blinders. And the mainstream has never really fallen for their claptrap either way. Besides, my heart can only take so much pressure. Rather, I want to look at some take-away lessons:

1) It's not worth engaging with people who fail basic logic. Unless you are good friends with them. And then you have no choice but to do so.

2) The vast majority of the American people are not crazy. They may, for a short period of time, buy into a crazy notion. They may believe that it's high time for the US to default on its loans, if convinced by what's seen as "common sense." Most people are too busy working and living their lives to think deeply and passionately about policies and the parlor games of politics. Those of us who tend to spend our free time doing exactly that (and have wasted innumerable hours both in face and online doing exactly that)

3) Bullying should never be tolerated. Yet, it is generally championed in American society, where Competition is King and the loudest and most explosive voice usually triumphs. To defeat the crazies, we do not need a louder voice, we just need a clearer voice. The marathon of public opinion goes to the one who is calm, reasonable, and clear (cf. McCain V Obama)

4) Take notes from those who call out bullying clearly (like Rachel Held Evans did when addressing Mark Driscoll, and then Grace from Are Women Human did in RHE's defense after she was attacked for taking on the boys club), and from those who speak gracefully when under fire (I also think that Rachel does this well, too).

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


A few days ago, our friend Alise (aka, Allison) Wright said:

  • If you equate gay and lesbian relationships with sex with animals or children, I'm not very interested in talking to you. #intolerant
The ensuing dialog got me to write my very own status:

Jason M Dye
Who passed around the memo that says that tolerance (willing to abide with those who are different than you) is supposed to mean blind support for intolerance? If someone hates others for their differences, and then makes up willfully ignorant excuses as to why he hates them, I *don't* have to put up with that bull****.
Among the many interesting discussions we had around this and around the ensuing discussions that followed was a little foray into what the word tolerance actually means.And this is where I disagree with many. When some talk of tolerance, they are speaking in a First Amendment sense: The right of people to speak whatever they believe or want to say without government interference.

In the First Amendment sense, of course, everybody has that right. What I don't like is the idea that because somebody has a right to say whatever they feel like (a radio talk show host repeats the term, "Ni**er, Ni**er, Ni**er", for instance, or a blogger says that homosexuals want more rights than straight people, because they want to "gay-marry" on top "straight-marry"), that I'm supposed to - as an enlightened, tolerant fellow - accept their statements without criticizing them.

open air marketphoto © 2009 Howe Kee Wong | more info (via: Wylio)They argue that it's the only tolerant thing to do. Apparently, they don't understand the essence of tolerance, just some sort of self-serving form of it.

What they are asking for is not only NOT tolerance, it's also not Freedom of Speech.

In grade school, we were taught that each one has the right to express himself, to make herself heard, unencumbered by the federal government (though I'm not quite sure how that works in broadcast - since it's obviously not unencumbered by federal regulations...). While there are other censors out there (monied interests, for instance; gatekeepers; self-preservation), the main idea that most of us growing up with an American education have been taught is that we live in a marketplace of ideas. This marketplace is a sort of competition in the open fields where the best ideas try to outshine each other to grab the American conscience.

Fish marketphoto © 2006 Glen | more info (via: Wylio)As flawed as this comparison truly is (for one, its need for retail / consumer analogies), it is still the best picture we collectively share for how FoS works. For every Neo-Nazi that floats an idea out, an anti-racist can respond to it in a million other ways. It's not intolerant if the anti-racist objects to the racist's claims. That's actually free speech in practice. That's the idea of the marketplace of ideas.

The intolerance would come if the anti-racist would criminalize the racist before the racist did anything violent - recognizing however that some forms of speech/expression are violent calls of aggression (the 'n****r' word in certain circumstances. Calling out for armed rebellion, for others). This is especially true among racists.

Intolerance isn't even that, however. Intolerance says that the majority population cannot live with a minority population for fear of contamination. Intolerance tells the minority population that the other populations are dangerous/stupid/insane and therefore should not be lived with. This is where war begins - racial/religious/ethnic/cultural differences are not accepted as being different, but being worse and less-than-human.

What we need is more tolerance. Not more hateful/hurtful ideas being bandied about. Nor the excuse that not accepting those hateful ideas is, in itself, intolerant. But actual, living, breathing tolerance.

Then maybe we could move on to hearing each other out and living in community.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The New Bullies: Grandma Peace Activists, Christian Feminist Bloggers, and Consumer Advocates

wookie warriorphoto © 2007 Simon | more info (via: Wylio)Did somebody say Wookie?

There's a cynical and ironic phenomenon that I've noticed most glaringly in US foreign relationships in the Middle East and is now manifesting itself in the financial / political world as well as the Evangelical social media world in the States: Bullies like to call anybody who holds them accountable a bully.

Israel does this any time her stranglehold on Palestinians is challenged. Likewise, WORLD Magazine (a Neo-Conservative Christian bulwark) called Rachel Held Evans a slanderer for calling out mega-pastor Mark Driscoll's irresponsible, homophobic, and trans-phobic behavior (with a bit more civility than I would probably afford him). And now House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, (R-CA) and spokesmouth for corporatocracy, is calling Elizabeth Warren, consumer advocate, a bully who would target the poor, little, downtrodden banks and loaning institutions and give them swirlies and wedgies and all that mean stuff.

Small pockets of men and women (and most recently, grandmas) try to get into Gaza, armed only with senselessly banned material - including harmless school supplies. At one point, they are gunned down at point-blank range by Israeli soldiers. At another point, Greece enforces Israel's rules for them, in the hope of international aid favor from the US. Illegal settlements are being sprouted up on top of Palestinian homes, bulldozing and setting ablaze homelands, groves, and families that have resided there for hundreds and thousands of years. The Palestinians are denied pencils, buildings, and jobs in their own homeland.

And yet, it's the international, hippy grandmas that are the bullies...

Author and blogger Rachel Held Evans demonstrated occasion after occasion of Mark Driscoll's dehumanizing taunts towards women, feminists, "effeminate" males, and queersteh gays. And then she asked her readers to address their concerns to the board of elders at his church. While Driscoll (of a large church in Seattle named Mars Hill) offered some sort of apology, WORLD Magazine writer Anthony Bradley belittled the criticisms and offered his amusing perspective that, "There is nothing loving about calling a pastor a “bully.“"* The rest of the paragraph sends a message that this male writer can only interpret as, "Woman no talk to manly man such way." (Considering that - without any evidence - Bradley calls her a liar who spreads false testimony, I'm left to believe that the problem isn't the testimony itself, but the testifier. After all, in biblical times, woman no important.)

So, it isn't the influential, authoritarian pastor who, once again, ridicules so-called effeminate men who needs to be corrected. It is the woman who dared stand up to him...

Issa is a bit of an extreme example in an extreme time of extreme extremities. It's common (though often ignored by pro-corporatists) knowledge that the recession is a direct result of predatory lending, borrowing and all means of deceit by big banks and other financial institutions - much at the hands of the poor and middle class. Warren, who has a proven track record of looking out for that important buffer - the middle class - as well as for those on the margins, is trying to protect the rest of us from the horrible practices that make a few very wealthy, very fast, on the backs of the rest of us who are left with fewer and fewer options. But she, not the banks that foreclosed on millions of hard-working Americans, is the bully? Because she would rather that these institutions not eat the poor and devour the middle class?? Really?

I suppose Orwell is shaking in his grave. It got awfully chilly.

*Obviously, nobody has informed Bradley of the practices of spiritual abuse rampant in fundamentalist churches, specifically. I'm sure that if he were dealing with questions of his own sexuality in such a church, his perspective would change.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

U2 Concert in Reverse


Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The Fourth of July in Sri Lanka

The week leading to the birthday celebration of the United States tends to be the biggest for my good blogger friends. Kurt Willems and Carson Clark and other moderate-to-progressive (for America, at least) Evangelical writers tend to generate a lot of heat for being Debby Downers while every body else is blowing crap up and singing "God Bless Amurika For Being the God-Blessingest-Country-Evah!!!" The genius in their writing is that they are Americans who belong to a tradition that often confuses America with God and who critique America as not being God nor Godly.

But my favorite Fourth-of-July post this year did not come from an American. In fact, I'm pretty sure it was not meant as a Fourth-of-July post. It just happened to be released on that date, and simultaneously speaking of the need for democracy, action, and liberty.

But not in the sense that those words have been co-opted to mean what they don't mean. Sri Lankan Vinoth Ramachandra is speaking of the need for the oppressed to rise with the oppressors and shake off the bounds of our oppression.

The gods of “ limitless growth” and “consumption” brook no rivals. For all the posturing of Western governments on human rights and human dignity, we know how deeply they have become indebted to repressive political regimes such as the Chinese and how deeply enmeshed they are in exploitative financial systems from which they cannot extricate themselves, even if they wished to. Like the client-kings of Rome, depicted in the Book of Revelation, Western governments have capitulated to the Beast and do his bidding (while pretending to be politically sovereign)...

If Greek coffers are empty, it is not because of social benefits given to the sick and the poor; but, rather, the irresponsibility of Greek business corporations who hid their profits in off-shore tax havens. Rich Greeks, with the blessing of their politicians, enjoyed public services while not paying for them. (And the Greek Orthodox Church, owner of vast assets, has also been exempt from taxation). But it is the middle-and working classes who are now being forced to practice “austerity” to rescue Greece from bankruptcy. Moreover, Greece is being charged interest higher than the eurozone rate. Like global warming and subprime mortgages, it is the poor who forced to pay for the sins of the rich.

Reforms in the financial sector, whether in the US or Europe, are purely cosmetic. None of the institutions and individuals who were responsible for the foreclosures of peoples’ homes have been brought before courts of law. Banks seem to be exempt from the bankruptcy procedures that apply to ordinary people and small businesses.

All this speaks of political failure. The racists, the corrupt, and the mediocre have taken over parliamentary assemblies. Even highly intelligent and moral leaders like Barack Obama have their wings clipped by financial elites. Politics in Canada and Italy is no different from India or Thailand. Given these failures of governments all over the world, isn’t it time for more of us to be get out on the streets like the courageous men and women in Athens, Damascus and Bahrain? Direct democracy is when the people themselves directly claim the right to decide the laws and policies that will shape their collective life. Their chosen representatives have betrayed them in favour of unelected business and banking tycoons.
I'm of the opinion that international Christian voices need to be listened to in the churches in the States. The very voices that can speak directly, authoritatively, and clearly about hard truths that those of us in the US - even those of us who try to speak up for the developing world - cannot quite fathom or imagine.

This is the voice that your local pastor needs to hear.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Narcissistic Stockholm Syndrome I: Profits of the War Machine

Note: This entry was originally posted at
The Broken Telegraph (a wonderful site on its own).
Part two here, part three here.

What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?
- Mahatma Gandhi

Someone out there is planning a counter-demonstration to a peace march.

Oddly enough, it's not Boeing, Haliburton, Blackwater, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, nor any of the other war profiteers taking out the banners and megaphones to stymie the influence of the peace activists.

It is a Marine who served in Vietnam.

Please don't miss the irony of this. A man who suffered under the direction and fingers of war-mongers and war-profiteers believes that those who oppose those same mongers and profiteers need to be opposed. That those who oppose brutality are the villains.

It's as if he's fallen love with his captors.

He seems to be suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. Not unlike the vast majority of Americans whom also adore the Conquering Warlords, the Invested Bankers who finance them, and their Corporate Bosses.

But we shan't talk badly about them, shan't we? Republican President George W. Bush got a little bit of flack for starting some wars. And he was called some bad names. And that made others very, very angry. For to them, it's much more disrespectful to kill a man's reputation than to kill an actual man.

But, ultimately, who was hurt more? Who has been harmed worse: the hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians who lost their lives, homes, families, basic needs through the acts of aggression of the American War Machine, or the leader (or is it puppet?) of the AWM who was compared to Hitler a few times?

Bomb Bayphoto © 2009 Steve Jurvetson | more info (via: Wylio)

And now a Democratic president of these United States is feeling the heat.

Not as much heat as the dozens of civilians who have come into contact with our Patriot bombs, but, maybe just a little bit, right?

The most current manifestation of America's War Machine was sold as a necessary way to stop a mad dictator (Gadhafi) from killing his own people (Libyans - who were not just being fired at from the air, but so confused by hordes of mercenaries hired to kill off Gadhafi's opposition that many started attacking any person of sub-Saharan descent), to level the playing field a little bit. And if, perhaps, there was a way it could be limited to the agreed-upon No-Fly Zone action, then perhaps it would be justifiable. That is, if the War Machine weren't so apt to make sure that their mission isn't accomplished first.

And it will be. Because they'd like to replace Gadhafi with someone more compliant to US and coalition (meaning, Other Corporation-backed "democracies") desires.
A cruise missile blasted Moammar Gadhafi's residential compound in an attack that carried as much symbolism as military effect, and fighter jets destroyed a line of tanks moving on the rebel capital. The U.S. said the international assault would hit any government forces attacking the opposition.
The War Machine is itself only one of several arms of Empire. And Empire exists for the aim of Empire. In the current US climate, the driving force of Empire is corporate need. And corporations need cheap gas. So, um, congratulations, Libyans! We'll be able to liberate you AND get cheaper gas.

We thank you for your sacrifice. It allows us to more easily oblige with our captors.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Tea Partyin', Partyin', Something...

Social Media & Memesphoto © 2011 Gwyneth Anne Bronwynne Jones | more info (via: Wylio)
I think we should just get one thing straight: the part of the universe that we are not parts of are not necessarily monoliths. The "Black Community" is not of one voice about anything, let alone everything. I can't tell you how many of my more-conservative friends I've had to correct about us progressives (that, for example, we don't necessarily believe in bigger government or more taxes), and how they've shown me that not all conservatives hate or blame immigrants (documented or not), the poor, homosexuals, etc.

I'm almost daily trying to convince fellow progressives to explore the option of voting third party, and they're wondering why some of us are practically handing the keys to the H-bomb button to Sarah Palin.

Today's lesson is brought to us by the letter T. As in "Tea Parties." Notice the deliberation with which I painfully point out the plurality here*. Not, "Tea PartY", but the plural version. Because it's not one single movement, or ideology, or people group. Just as Evangelicals shouldn't be known simply as followers of James Dobson, Jim Wallis, or (Lord, please no!) Franklin Graham, nor does every Tea Partier belong to the racist and arrogant class of the Mark Williamses or the arrogant and racist class of the Andrew Breitbarts or the pro-bullying, anti-gay, blame-deflecting class of Rich Swier. None of which, ironically, have any class. Or morals.

These butt-hats don't represent all of the Tea Party. Just parts of it (apparently, the parts that call itself Tea Party Nation and the Tea Party Express). Tea Partiers don't agree on racism, bullying, or theocracy, or even owning guns. They ostensibly say that taxes are too high and that government spending is out-of-control. Among this crowd are some black and Latino conservatives.

We may not agree with them much of what they espouse - and even if I did, I would completely distance myself from the likes of Bachmann, Breitbart, Palin, and Swier, that guy with the sign of President Obama in an "African witchdoctor" get-up, or that California douchebag who distributed emails of watermelon outside the White House lawn - but we can find points of interest and agreement with most of those on "the other side".

Conservatives, moderates, libertarians, progressives, liberals, anarchists, and lefties can agree on any number of issues - as long as we're not all tied down to the definitions given us by the lazy media. The leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention and I may disagree about any number of matters, but when it comes to giving migrants a fair chance in this country, we're on the same page. Many L&O types are as well, including this lovely conservative Republican mayor of a small town in Georgia, Paul Bridges.

Many TP'ers are against wars, as are many of the conservative and liberal libertarians and anarchists. That is an area that progressives (and like-minded liberals and moderates, etc.) can join together and will NEED to join together in order to challenge the Military-Industrial Complex that has taken control of both parties in the United States.

My friends, I ask only of you what Crosby, Stills, Nash and sometimes Young asked:

We can change the world!

*Bad, pseudo-intellectual self joke...