Saturday, March 28, 2009

UN adopts anti free speech resolution

The U.N.'s top human rights body has approved a proposal by Muslim nations urging the passage of laws protecting religion from criticism. Members of the Human Rights Council voted 23 in favor of a resolution Thursday to combat "defamation of religion." Eleven nations, mostly from the West, opposed the resolution and 13 countries abstained. The resolution was proposed by Pakistan. Muslim countries have cited the inflammatory effect of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad as an example of unacceptable free speech. Critics say the resolution, while not binding, will have a chilling effect on free speech and may worsen relations between faiths. ------------------------------------------------------------------- This is bad news for anyone who values free speech. The UN has given cover to extreme fundamentalists (mainly Islamic); cover to torture, imprison and harass those who would dare to dissent.  The irony is that the resolution has very little to do with human rights. Rather than protecting people, the resolution offers protection to religions; a protection which can all to easily translate into protection for a state, a state guilty of violating human rights, the very human rights the UN ostensibly seeks to protect. Ironic, isn't it?

    Wednesday, March 25, 2009

    US facing gun crisis

    According to the 2007 Small Arms Survey, there are currently 270 million guns owned by civilians in the United States–that’s nearly half of all guns owned worldwide!

    Research shows that gun violence is directly linked to the easy availability of firearms. The key difference between the United States and other industrialized nations, however, is our rate of lethal violence from guns — not our overall rate of violence.

    Shockingly, in the United States:

    * There are approximately 90 guns for every 100 people.

    * Each year, an estimated 4 million guns are sold by licensed dealers.

    * Between 34-40% of households have a gun.

    You would think Americans were stock piling weapons for a revolution or war, but the truth is it’s simply become part of our culture — a culture of violence that we have become increasingly numb and accustomed to.

    Additionally, the gun lobby is very effective at convincing Americans that they need guns in their home, in their cars and in the workplace for self-defense. To be effective though, a homeowner, for example, would need to be sitting by the door holding a loaded gun and ready to fire it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It would be an isolating and anxious way to live.

    Facts are not on the gun lobby’s side either. Rather than making us a safer society, the proliferation of guns in the U.S. is in fact making us less safe as a nation. With more than 30,000 gun deaths each year, over 12,000 of which are homicides, we are the most violent industrialized nation on earth.

    Tuesday, March 24, 2009

    Creationism in Texas

    The Texas Board of Education votes this week on a new science curriculum. The new curriculum is designed to challenge evolution, and introduce creationism, a step that could influence what is taught in biology classes across the nation.

    The proposed curriculum change would prompt teachers to raise doubts that all life on Earth is descended from common ancestry.

    This is an assault on modern science, and an assault on reason. Good people need to stand up against religious ignorance and superstition.

    The far right agenda must be stopped. Christianity is often a backward, ignorant world view that preaches hatred for those who are different or dare to speak out.

    The repercussions could be devastating. Texas is such a huge textbook market that many publishers write to the state's standards, then market those books nationwide.

    To deny evolution is like a denial of gravity. To deceive children by teaching creationism is criminal.

    Texans should be outraged. Teaching creationism in a science class is child abuse.

    Banned in Ohio

    The latest issue of Nintendo Power has been banned from a middle school library in Ohio because of the cover, which features a piece of artwork from Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars.

    Censorship is never the answer.

    Monday, March 23, 2009

    More Gun Control Please

    U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly made a great ruling recently, halting the Bush Administration’s last minute attempt to allow loaded, hidden firearms into America’s national parks and wildlife refuges. The judge issued an injunction restoring prior rules in those public lands that weapons be unloaded and safely secured.

    Bringing a concealed gun into a national park is simply ridiculous. I do not want some trigger happy yahoo packing a gun into a park where me and my family might be spending time.

    There are too many guns in our society, and too many gun related deaths and injury. Education is a start, but we need to do more.

    Those who own and possess guns put everyone around them at risk. There should be strict and stringent requirements for those who own and possess fire arms. Aside from criminal background checks, individuals desiring to own a gun should be made to pass competency tests (both written and practical) as well as a psychological evaluation. The cost of these examinations and evaluations should be paid by the individual desiring to own a fire arm.

    Guns should be restricted whenever and wherever possible. We need more gun control, not less. It is time to take action. It is time to stop the gun lobby's radical agenda. It is time for Democrats to reclaim their leadership on the prevention of gun violence. It is time to support meaningful and comprehensive gun laws to address the gun violence crisis in America.

    Sunday, March 8, 2009

    More Americans say they have no religion

    A wide-ranging study on American religious life found that the Roman Catholic population has been shifting out of the Northeast to the Southwest, the percentage of Christians in the nation has declined and more people say they have no religion at all.

    This is good news for all free thinkers who value reason and truth.

    Be brave; be strong; be an atheist!

    Friday, March 6, 2009

    Prop 8 & Gay Marriage

    A mistake was made in California. The passage of proposition 8, a constitutional amendment defining marriage as being only between a man and a woman, was a mistake. The California state supreme court now has a chance to correct that mistake. Let us hope they do the right thing.

    Civil rights, human rights, gay rights, should not be put up for a vote. The minority must be protected from the tyranny of the majority. It is time to put away the hatred and bigotry. The discrimination has gone on too long. Our religious institutions are largely to blame, for it is from these institutions the bigotry and hatred comes.

    Gay rights are civil rights are human rights. Discrimination is always wrong. In the future, those who oppose gay marriage now, will appear as ignorant and foolish as those who opposed interracial marriage fifty years ago.

    Make no mistake, if you oppose gay marriage you stand on the side of ignorance and hate; you stand in darkness and shame.

    Indeed, it is only a matter of time. Prop 8 passed with only the slightest majority. Studies show the proposition passed based on the votes of the old and the uneducated. The old will die. The uneducated can be enlightened. Very soon the majority will recognize what many Americans recognized long ago: homophobia is wrong.

    Conservatives love porn!

    A recent study has shown that conservatives subscribe to more on line adult entertainment (porn) than their liberal counterparts. In particular, the study shows Christian fundamentalists and Mormons consume the most porn.

    States that consume the most porn tend to be more conservative and more religious than those that consume less porn. The biggest consumer was Utah, with 5.47 subscriptions per 1,000 users; where as Montana bought the least with 1.92 per 1,000. Eight of the top ten biggest consumers of porn voted Republican in the 2008 Presidential election.

    Residents of the 27 state that have banned gay marriage have 11% more porn subscribers than those states that do not explicitly ban gay marriage.

    Subscriptions are also more prevalent in states where surveys indicate conservative positions on religion, gender roles, and sexuality. In states where more people agree that "Even today miracles are performed by the power of God" and "I never doubt the existence of God," there are more subscriptions to this service. Subscriptions are also more prevalent in states where more people agree that "I have old-fashioned values about family and marriage" and "AIDS might be God's punishment for immoral sexual behavior."

    This story is worth a good chuckle, and serves as a pointed moral lesson concerning repression and hypocrisy.

    Sunday, March 1, 2009

    Punishing Bush & co

    Truth and reconciliation: Crimes of the Bush administration.

    The country is faced with a dilemma: What to do about the high crimes and misdemeanors of the past administration. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has suggested a "Bush Truth Commission".

    Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee, plans to hold hearings on creating a panel to investigate crimes of the Bush administration. The proposed truth and reconciliation committee would investigate the use of torture, warrantless wiretapping, extraordinary rendition, and executive override of laws.

    However, there are objections to such an approach. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) rejects Leahy's proposal. Pelosi objects to giving anyone immunity, something Leahy's proposal would grant to those who cooperate. Pelosi wants all those guilty prosecuted.

    Is Leahy right? Is immunity the best means for truth and reconciliation? Or is Pelosi correct? Does justice demand a pound of flesh? What course of action is in the best interest of the country?


    The truth is more important than retribution.

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