A judge in Italy has ordered a priest to appear in court and prove the existence of Jesus Christ. This is apparently the result of a law suit filed by a man with a stick up his butt.1
I suppose after centuries under the heavy hand of Rome, there is bound to be some push back now that the Vatican doesn't wield quite the secular authority it once did, but this is beyond stupid.
Since when has anyone been required to defend their religious beliefs in a court of law? The man with the rectal obstruction is apparently upset that the priest in question denounced his views in a parish newsletter. It is true. Parish newsletters do wield an incredible amount of influence over the masses.
The charge is "abuse of popular credulity," which is apparently a criminal offense in Italy and was probably intended to catch scam artists. I'm pretty sure in never entered the minds of the original framers of the law that anyone would ever turn it against the Catholic Church.
Why don't we just carry this to its logical conclusion and start eviction proceedings against the Vatican? Wait. It's its own country. I guess Italians will just have to go to war.
I suppose turn about is fair play. After centuries of Christians using the rule of law to enforce their world view, I guess it's fitting that the tables are finally turned, but I have concerns about where this will lead. The pendulum will simply swing the other way and we'll live in a world oppressed by intelligentsia. Do we really want to live in a place where faith and belief are criminal acts? Do we want to live in a place where all speech and thought is run through a PC filter and only appropriate and approved utterances are free of civil penalty? Is Italy turning into Oceania? Are we next? Is this really some people's idea of freedom?
You know what they say: Be careful what you ask for. You may get it.
Here we go again. 'Tis the season to piss and moan about being oppressed by Christians and to whine and complain that one don't get no respect. Bill O'Reilly's rant about the "war on Christmas" is by now as famous as it is stupid. I just don't get this attitude, especially at this time of year. War? At Christmas? Whatever happened to peace on earth, goodwill toward men?
Do I get upset if someone of Jewish persuasion wishes me Happy Hanukkah? No. Why would I? They are expressing a wish of good cheer, good health and good life in terms that are familiar to them. If I would have chosen different terms, what does it matter? Can I not appreciate the sentiment regardless of the words used to express it? Really, people, buy your underwear a size larger next time.
Last night two members of the local Mormon congregation showed up at my door and invited me to a holiday breakfast party at their church on Saturday. Am I interested in going? No. Did I chew them out and tell them to get the hell off my porch and to not bother me with their religious tripe? Of course not. Their intentions are good and their well wishing sincere. Now if they were trying to pass a city ordinance that would require me to attend their holiday breakfast, that would tick me off.
I seriously doubt many Christians are really up in arms about "Happy Holidays" or "Seasons Greetings" banners in stores. Frankly, the commercialization of the season has nothing to do with the original spirit of Christmas. It seems to me entirely appropriate that stores avoid using Christmas and thus keep the commercial separate from the spiritual. However, according to O'Reilly:
Every company in America should be on its knees thanking Jesus for being born. Without Christmas, most American businesses would be far less profitable; more than enough reason for businesses to be screaming Merry Christmas.1
Yeah. That's why Christ was born. His ministry, life and death was to improve the bottom line of Macy and Gimble's. Christians who get their knickers in a twist about department stores being too secular have completely missed the point of their own celebration.
The only thing I have issues with is X-mas. If you really have your panties in such a wad that you can't say or write Christ, then just say Season's Greetings or Happy Holidays. X-mas just strikes me as rude, inconsiderate and unnecessary.
I love this little gem found in the comments over at Balloon Juice.
This is a message from Brother Scalpel of the Ineffable Argument. I represent the Unitarian Jihad.
As God is our witness (or, at least, the witness of the 20% of us who accede to believing in a personal deity, although Sister Solitude of the Personal Solipsist asks that the minutes reflect her belief that none of the other votes count, as she alone exists. She remains silent on whether there is a personal deity)...we have acted as we (or others, acting on our behalf, as 80% of committee suggests) have in order to protect our brothers in arms (aware, as we are of the sexist connotations of the terms 'brothers', to which 36.27% of the committee, with a 95% error bar of 6.7%, object) by delightening the oppressive people of colored lights.2
HAT TIP: Greg Prince
David Parker is back in the news as he gets ready to go to trial for is arrest for criminal trespassing. Honestly, this whole thing has entered the realm of the ridiculous. Parker's "simple" request to be notified of anything he deems inappropriate for his child is just inane. Yeah, there's a law, but it's one thing for a school to send out a mass mailing before a scheduled event and something entirely different to have to keep track of each parent's preferences and force teachers to check their lesson plans against that list, and to make the school provide alternate supervision for that time period, since I'm sure turning them loose on the playground for a while wouldn't go over so well. If you don't like what is being taught in the public school system, you are completely free to school your child at home or enroll them in some private institution that enshrines your belief system.
The flip side is the vigor with which the school district is prosecuting Parker. If the lady writing her opEd piece on Fox is to be believed , the school district is looking at a widespread ban on Parker's presence. Also stupid. He's been arrested. He's going to trial. Defend yourself in court. Maintain a professional demeanor. Otherwise ignore him. If he becomes a disruptive presence to district government functions, which he is not at this point, fine. Ban him.
All this is now is an immature pissing contest.
What really gets my ire up is these people who play the I'm-not-a-homophobe-my-best-friend-is-gay card. Oh, really? Earlier in the article we read:
Parker expressed his belief that gay parents did not constitute "a spiritually healthy family"; he did not wish his son to be taught that a gay family is "a morally equal alternative to other family constructs."
Have you expressed that belief to the face of your gay best friend? Your best friend? You might think he's your best friend. Does he feel the same way? Does he also believe that he is incapable of establishing a spiritually healthy family? Does he believe your relationship with your wife is morally superior to his (perhaps future) relationship with his boyfriend?
What a jerk.
Hattip: Balloon Juice
Today in the Washington Post:
...Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba attributed the [Abu Ghraib] scandal to the willful actions of a small group of soldiers and to "a failure of leadership" and supervision by brigade and lower-level commanders. ...
But several senators challenged the notion that low-ranking soldiers could have devised the particularly humiliating measures on their own...
What planet do these people live on? Human beings don't need to be coached on how to humilate others. It seems to come naturally to most. I still remember vividly a boy named Phillip in my Jr. High gym class. Phillip was a couple inches taller than the rest of us, gangly and uncoordinated. The "cool" guys in the class seemed to think it quite entertaining to snap Phillip on the butt with their wet towels as he bent to put on his underwear. They found great amusement in listening to him yelp in pain. Once was rarely enough and Philip was often in tears with multiple red marks on his butt and legs before he was dressed enough to be protected. One could hardly blame the coach for this behavior. They certainly didn't learn it from him. One can blame him for not intervening since I find it hard to believe he couldn't hear Phillip's cries.
Folks, I think the joke is on us. Saddam Husien did have chemical weapons and actually was able to use them against us without us even being aware of it. And what, you may ask, is the result of these weapons? Everyone seems to have become blindingly juvenile.
Armin Burkhardt, a German-language professor from Magdeburg University, is vexed by English words, which have percolated through his country since World War II ended, displacing many familiar German and French terms. Mr. Burkhardt organized "Language in Politics," a four-member etymological policing group intent on purging English offenders. ...
...On April 8, he issued a starter list of 33 words to avoid, complete with French replacements. He promises similar lists in the future.
Mr. Burkhardt wants Germans to sit on a sofa, not a couch, at a fete, not a party, and be formidable, not cool.
Oh, grow up people! Don't you have anything better to do with your lives than devise useless and completely ineffectual ways of making some political statement? Let's assume for a moment that Mr. Burkhardt has some phenomenal power over the German population in general and teenagers in particular to affect a change in their speech patterns. ("OK" is on his black list.) Yes, that's a big assumption, but work with me here. The Germans and the French didn't like the US going to war in Iraq. I think we all got that. Is there anyone who missed that? So the Germans no longer "party" and are now "formidable." Am I supposed to care? Is this supposed to hurt my feelings?
Now, the Germans are not the only ones affected by these regression chemicals and not even the first. Anyone ever get an order of freedom fries? Did you have freedom toast for breakfast? Any of you ladies get your nails freedom tipped?
Let's hope the effects of this disastrous weapon wear off soon so we can all go back to being adults, stop hurling petty insults at one another and find something meaningful to do with our lives.
Nicholas De Genova, a professor at Columbia University, recently spoke at a teach in on said campus. Speaking of the war in Iraq Mr. Genova said "If we really (believe) that this war is criminal ... then we have to believe in the victory of the Iraqi people and the defeat of the U.S. war machine."
Okay. He's entitled to his opinions. Two problems here:
- It is the U.S. "war machine" that has kept this country a place where he can have his cushy job at a university and spout such nonsense.
- I don't see the Iraqi people fighting the US. The Republican Guard is, by no stretch of the imagination (except maybe De Genova's) "the Iraqi people." Even some of the Republican Guard don't seem to have their hearts in it.
Not content with wishing our forces defeated, Mr. De Genova had more words on the subject. "I personally would like to see a million Mogadishus." For those of you who don't know what a Mogadishu is (I didn't), it refers to the dismembered bodies of American servicemen that were dragged through the streets of Somalia in 1993. So apparently it is not enough to wish our armed forces defeat, they must be savaged and humiliated as well.
Since there really is no discussion to be had about the appalling nature of such a comment, let's skip that part. What I want to know is why is war criminal, referring I assume to the hundreds and maybe thousands of Iraqi troops who will die in the conflict, but it is okay to wish death on our own troops? Does that strike anyone else as, oh, hypocritical? Isn't that just the flip side of Bush calling Baghdad an evil regime except that you're naming America as the evil regime? What's that old saying? Something about a pot and a kettle...
You know what? If America is such an evil place, why don't you move to Iraq? I'll even help you pack.
Read an article today about a young Marine who is trying to obtain conscientious objector status now that his unit has been activated to be sent to Iraq. He claims to be a pacifist and a regular attendee of anti-war rallies. O. K. I have just one question: "What are you doing joining the Marines?" And here, really, is the crux of the whole thing. Service in America's military is voluntary. We are not like many European countries where service in the military is mandatory. In such a context conscientious objector makes sense. In America's military I'm not convinced it should even exist. I'm sorry, but there is such a thing as honoring your commitments and personal integrity. You volunteered for military service, most likely to have your education paid for by the U.S. Government. If you're going to talk the talk you have to walk the walk. Period.
"I object to war because I believe that it is impossible to achieve peace through violence."
So what the hell are you doing joining the MILITARY??
"It wasn't as well thought out as it should've been. It was about me being depressed and wanting direction in life."
Fine. Join the Peace Corps. Makes a bit more sense for a "pacifist" don't you think?
"They don't really advertise they kill people."
HELLO!!! It's the mil-i-ta-ry. What do you think that high-powered, automatic rifle is for?
Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against pacifists. I am certainly no advocate of war. I do have a problem with pacifists who join the military and then try and beg off their obligations when war actually comes along.
Sorry, Stephen, no sympathy for you.
Oh, and by the way, if he had real personal integrity he wouldn't have joined the military in the first place.