Archive for July 7, 2007

The New World: Religious Freedom = The Ability to Discriminate

July 7, 2007

At the risk of going somewhere I maybe shouldn’t at the moment, I found this story at Pandagon about the firing of a gay employee who had come out to his boss the day before. I know, I know – it’s probably just coincidence, right? Right? Sigh….it’s too early in the day for this.

What makes it, um, interesting, is that the boss in question (who apparently had a habit of badmouthing gays and lesbians at work) is claiming that he doesn’t have to answer questions about the reason he fired the employee because such questions infringe on his “constitutionally protected religious beliefs.”

Um, what the fuck? Since when? I get that religious freedom allows a person to believe what they want. However, religious freedom has never meant the right to harm others based on your personal beliefs. Or the right to expect others to live as though they held your beliefs.

Or has it? Maybe that’s one of those big gaps in communication between the ‘left’ and the ‘right’. Maybe there are folks who believe that ‘religious freedom’ really means ‘christian state’ or ‘my religion trumps your well-being’.

Or maybe some people actually expect the world to conform to them.

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Creationist Debating 101

July 7, 2007

From Pharyngula, a handy list of things to do when preparing to debate creationists. I think with some minor tweaking, this is a great list in general for folks to use when preparing for a potentially controversial debate or forum.

If only Rob Walsh had seen this before he got in over his head…

Empathy

July 7, 2007

No, I’m not going to go on at length, at least not right now – someone already did it for me! Aren’t the Interets wonderful?

Go read Republic of T on Creating a Culture of Empathy. It dovetails so incredibly well with both my own thinking and, I suspect, Team Liberation’s underlying philosophy.

I think this quote is particularly important:

…”I think we are experiencing something amiss culturally where the TV shows if you turn them on and people are laughing at one another’s pain,’’ said Coloroso. “Enjoying seeing someone kicked off the island, enjoying seeing someone go down in flames on American Idol, satire not being used but sarcasm. If you turn on radio talk . . . it’s mean and cruel.’’

…With teens learning to laugh at others’ pain, it’s little wonder that bullying is running rampant in North American schools, she said. And as in many other cases, the shooter at Virginia Tech and those at Columbine were what she calls “bullied bullies.’’ After being the target of bullying, eventually the victim becomes what he fears the most.

“The bullied bullies not only strike back but they do it with that utter contempt, that cold look on their face. They have become themselves what they hated,’’ explained Coloroso. “Just as he was treated as an `it,’ he treats other human beings unmercifully.’’

I cannot begin to describe how spot-on this feels when I think about my experience as a high school substitute teacher. There were dozens of times when I was shocked at how much pleasure students got from being cruel to one another. In fact, that seemed to be the primary reason to be mean or cruel in the first place. It was, and is, simultaneously creepy and incredibly, deeply sad. My understanding of where this came from was pretty incomplete at that point, and while I’ve thought about it since, this post – go read it – really provides some clarity.

Those in the know will catch the reference to Martin Buber’s I-Thou. For me, that’s a sign that those folks have a pretty good idea of what they’re doing.