Sunday, October 11, 2015

When The Next One Happens

I've long since become desensitized to mass shootings.  I didn't stop caring that innocent people keep getting murdered.  I'll never stop caring about that.  I've just stopped being interested in the story when it happens.  And I've stopped pretending we're going to do a damn thing to stop it from happening.

We're not going to do anything about it.  We're going to keep letting right wing politicians and pundits tell us that it's "too soon" to talk about gun control because that's "politicizing a tragedy".  We won't actually fight for any real gun reform, even though we know it would work.

We're going to keep letting them distract from the gun issue to make it about mental illness.  But we won't fight for any meaningful action about mental illness.  We'll let them scapegoat the mentally ill and blame them for these tragedies while doing nothing to help either problem.

We're going to keep letting them blame secularism rather than the guns.  They'll keep saying people get murdered because they need Jesus.  Sure, we'll bitch about them on the Internet.  But we won't put them in their place anywhere of consequence, like a legislature.

We're so used to these things happening, Presidential candidates casually refer to "the next one".  Because we all know there will be more.

We're not going to do anything to fix it.  We've even shown indifference to elementary school children being murdered.  After ignoring that, what the fuck would it take for us to fix it.

The pattern is so predictable, The Daily Show can joke about prerecording their responses to it.  Anyone could prerecord a response to the next one and have it work.  Because it's the same fucking thing every time.

Mass shootings are a part of our culture that, for a variety reasons, we're not ready to give up.  I refuse to pretend we are ready until we are actually doing something outside of the script.

Unfortunately, that time isn't coming any time soon.

How do I know?  I wrote most of this after the Aurora shooting and just updated it with current references.

I can write this without even mentioning which shooting, and most people reading it will probably have a different one in mind.  Especially since there have been 4 shootings since the one I most recently wrote this for.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

That Time My Baby Was Assaulted with $21

This morning, Omaha Atheists joined some others at our local Planned Parenthood clinic to counter their anti-choice protesters.  

We knew we'd encounter some shitty behavior from them, but I still wasn't expecting my 16 week old baby to be assaulted.

It was mid-morning, so it was kinda cold out.  My girlfriend, Rosalyn had the baby in her jacket.  It was zipped up, and he was in the wrap low enough to make her look pregnant.  We noticed several of the protesters trying to figure out if the bump was a real baby or a fetus.

Later in the day, it had warmed up and she had removed the jacket, making the baby quite visible.  It was after this that a woman in a red hat approached her.  This woman had been attempting to give balloons with "Pro-Life" propaganda to the children there.  After my girlfriend politely refused her offer of balloons, she said that she had looked in her purse for her and shoved a wad of cash into my girlfriend's shirt.  When this happened, it was very clear to her that a baby was there.

That money, $21, was immediately walked over the Planned Parenthood staff as a donation.  Thanks for the donation, anti-choice people!

I later explained to her that she had assaulted a baby and the problem with shoving germ filled money in the face of a preemie.  Her response was to not say a word and walk away.

Later, I was explaining what had happened to some of the red hat lady's fellow protesters.  Their response was, "Well, then call the cops."  I don't think she appreciated how close that was to happening and how lucky she was that it didn't.

Earlier, the people pictured above, were having a prayer circle.  So I took that photo to document the hypocrisy.  The guy looking at the camera was attempting to photobomb with a wave.  After having read the sign pictured.  They are oblivious to their hypocrisy and brazen about not caring.

A while later, my step-son got curious about the prayer circle.

Unfortunately, he didn't make it out of the circle without being given a small crucifix.  The cross was promptly returned to the group with a request to not hand our children things.  The man acknowledged me by saying "thank you" for me returning the cross.  He never really acknowledged that he'd done anything wrong or apologized.

This became more apparent later when they were leaving and he attempted to hand a quarter to our oldest as they walked by him.  I yelled at him to stop trying to hand things to my kids, so he took a few more steps and handed it to the girl instead.  After being chastised by multiple atheists for involving the kids, a different guy said "sorry" a few times and then they all disappeared.

I get that they do shitty things.  I even get that they have no qualms about involving children.  Ultimately, I'm not even that surprised that they were all okay with assaulting a fucking baby.  And that lack of surprise says all that needs to be said about the morality of these people.

I'll leave you with this sample of how Omaha Atheists behaved during the same event.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Shambles of the Fourth Estate

Corporate media is a joke.  And I don't just mean Fox News, the Republican Party's main venue to spread propaganda, which has repeatedly been found to be blatantly dishonest.  CNN regularly fails to correct errors, instead choosing give "both sides" equal merit.

Having someone with an audience, who calls this out is rare thing.  Jon Stewart did so often, but he was far from the norm.  Even less common was the fact that he got results.

Crossfire was cancelled, with Stewart's appearance cited as the reason.  Tucker Carlson has been on the air almost the entire time since.

Knowing there will never again be "The Daily Show, with Jon Stewart" to call out the bullshit we're constantly inundated with creates a huge sense of loss.

This does a lot to show the massive service Stewart provided.  But it does even more to show the even bigger disservice done to us all by the rest of our popular media.  This comedian was a more trusted journalist than almost all of our so called journalists.

Trevor Noah's run as host of the Daily Show will begin next week, but by no fault of his, it could take him years to build the trust Jon Stewart built over his 16 years in the job.

It's a real shame that people doing what Jon Stewart did are so rare when that should be the bare minimum for the entirety of the Fourth Estate.  It's a real shame that one man is able to create such a void by simply claiming his well earned retirement.  Some consolation is in a few people whose work on the subject began with "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart", like Larry Wilmore, Steven Colbert, and John Oliver.

Jon Stewart will be missed because he was special.  I long for a world where such integrity wouldn't be missed because it's the norm.  Where it's on the regular news, not late night and mostly on cable like Comedy Central or HBO.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

How Feminism Has Benefited Me - Friendships Edition

I was going through Laci Green's YouTube channel to find a specific video to share in a conversation, and as happens most times I visit her channel, I ended up watching a few more of her videos because she's all smart and stuff.

This time, one particular video caught my attention.

I've never understood the myth that men & women cannot be platonic friends.  Throughout my entire life, the vast majority of my closest friends have been female.  There's really only been a handful of exceptions.  My oldest friend is male, and we've been through some pretty rough, and some pretty good times together.  But I'm just as close to his wife as I am him.

I have separate bonds with each of them because I'm able to see them as separate people.  My friend's wife wasn't just my friend's wife.  She's a person of her own, and because I was able to see her that way, she quickly became the closest thing I've ever had to sister.  We're close friends, and we both find the idea of it being anything else as laughable as if we really were siblings.  And I wouldn't have it any other way.  It's never been weird because none of the three us have antiquated views on friendship and gender.

Rarely has sexual interest ever come up with any of my friends, and it's never seriously hindered or ended a friendship of mine.  I attribute this largely to the fact that I never bought into the idea that it should.  Plus, I've made (mostly) good choices about who I've called friend.

I never specifically sought out female friends or male friends.  It's happened that most of my friends, and nearly all of my closest confidants, have been women.  I'm glad I never bought into the archaic ideas that friendships should be gender segregated or that the only interaction between genders must involve our genitals.

If I'd let that silly notion into my head, I'd have needlessly deprived myself of most of the best people in my life.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Life In The Bible Belt From A Tourist Perspective

Having to constantly have Jesus thrown in your face is a common theme I see from people all over the United States, but this is especially so in the Bible Belt.  As if to illustrate my point, just as I started writing this, my family in the other room started talking about a Bible study one has been attending.

I was in the same house as that much of my family because we were on a trip to Branson, Missouri.  On the day we visited the part of town with all the touristy, gift shops, I encountered something I was not surprised to see, but it was still interesting to see it in that volume.

Jesus merchandise was everywhere I went.

This was just over a few hours, and it's not even close to all I saw.  It's not even all the pictures I took.  For several of the places, it's just about all they had.  These were all found in private businesses, so there are no Church-State issues involved.  I'm not writing this to say they should not be allowed to sell this much religious merchandise or even that they're wrong to do so.  In fact, considering the fact that these are for-profit businesses in this place, they're right to do so.

This is merely a visual representation of what many atheists have to put up with.  All the time.  Around here, Jesus sells.  It sells this way because Christianity is ingrained into every part of the culture in these places.  It's even in their newspapers.

Just something to think about before you go all rageface at someone who comes from this environment and believes things that seem absurd to those who've been lucky enough to escape it.  Something to think about before you call all Christians stupid or call closeted atheists in these places cowards.

Just because you were lucky enough to overcome something does not mean it comes easily to everyone.  It couldn't hurt to keep that in mind.

Interviews, Anxiety, and Society

I'm sitting here waiting for a phone call from a reporter with the Omaha World Herald.

This should not elevate my heart rate, and yet it does.

I shouldn't be worried about saying something to hurt Omaha Atheists or Apostacon.  I've done this before.  And yet I am.

I shouldn't worry about the reporter surprising me with a hidden agenda against us.  He already has a history of treating us fairly, and there's no reason to expect he'll behave differently today.  And yet those thoughts are in my head.

I should not go through this neurotic thought process before every interview or conversation with someone new.  And yet I do.

I shouldn't have lost sleep over this.  And yet I did.

My brain should not play tricks on me like this.  And yet it does.

There should not be a negative stigma from society for people like me, whose brains play tricks on us.  And yet there is.

I should not be ashamed of having a brain that plays these tricks on me.  And I'm not.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Particular Ice Bucket Challenge

Last weekend, I was challenged to the Ice Bucket Challenge, and I responded with a donation.  So, I've decided to challenge 3 people.

  1. Susi Bocks, a wonderful person and organizer for Kansas Atheists.
  2. Micah Weiss, an organizer for one of my favorite conferences, Skepticon
  3. Chris Attaway, author of my favorite Christian blog, The Discerning Christian

If you'd like to donate, please visit the Out of The Darkness Walk page for the woman who did the dumping of the water, a dear friend and the mother of the girl sitting next to me in the video, whose story you can also read about on that page.