xkcd nails it.
Archive for the ‘News’ Category
If you absolutely feel the need to join your friends in setting fire to an abandoned building, you probably shouldn’t post a video of your shenanigans on YouTube. But if you do decide to record the dastardly deed, it’s pretty dumb to include your name and the names of the other perps in the video credits.
OK, so it’s not cool for a 14-year old girl to post nude pics of herself on the web (ditto for you 14-year old boys). But regardless of her age, it’s beyond belief that she could be charged with a felony for posting her naughty bits online. What are authorities thinking, threatening her with sex offender status for life? Even if it’s inappropriate and stupid for her to bare all on the net, such actions hardly rise to the level of a major crime. This is a gross misapplication of the law that has no foundation in justice.
Social networking online is a revolution in communication and information sharing, and as the old saying goes, “with great power comes great responsibility.” True that, but breaches of said responsibility should not result in life-altering punishment. Stigmatizing irresponsible behavior is one thing; ruining people’s lives for it is quite another matter altogether.
It’s fitting that a video of an Iraqi reporter throwing his shoes at George W. Bush will be one of our last memories of the 43rd president. Watch for how this action will manifest itself in protests — both serious and humorous — back home in the States and perhaps elsewhere in the world. This one’s going to have legs… err, feet.
I’m as disappointed as anyone about the passage of Prop 8 and similar initiatives to prevent marriage equality nationwide. But this Day Without a Gay campaign is likely to backfire. I understand what organizers are trying to accomplish, to raise awareness that we are an integral part of society and the workplace. But I’m not convinced that the timing is right to wield a largely symbolic economic truncheon when what we need is to continue to highlight the similarities of gays and straights in all facets of life. Messing with someone’s money is more likely to cause resentment than to get his attention in a positive way, particularly with a global economic crisis looming.
I believe a major contributor to the loss of marriage equality in California, and likely elsewhere, was the economy’s downward spiral. People have a hierarchy of needs, and gay marriage just doesn’t rank in the face of lost jobs, sinking home values, and a general feeling of uncertainty about our near-term economic future. It is shared aversion to economic pain that drives a populace that is normally inclined to be detached observers of labor unrest to be sympathetic with the efforts of employees of Chicago-based Republic Windows and Doors to protest by occupying the now-closed factory. Apparently the next president feels the sit-in is politically popular to sufficient degree that he can voice his open agreement with these workers’ efforts to obtain adequate severance pay.
I don’t perceive the same sort of support for the issue of gay marriage. It just doesn’t impact people in the same way as an economic downturn. People who are supportive of marriage equality in the best of times may become — often subconsciously — less at ease with the concept when so much of their everyday life is being impacted by more basic concerns of food, health, and shelter.
History is likely to be on our side, but that doesn’t mean that this Wednesday is the day to make history by “calling in gay.” Gay activists are right to feel proud and empowered by the recent and damned near spontaneous post-Prop 8 protests that were organized online and witnessed all over the country. But we need to keep our finger in the winds and gauge when they’re blowing our way and when they’re likely to turn into a tempest, and perhaps even worse and more difficult, to recognize when they peter out altogether.
Let’s be active responsibly and not squander the goodwill and support garnered in recent weeks. I’d hate to see us lose momentum by overreaching. I can all but guarantee this is one bailout the government is not prepared to make at this time.
Western Washington is known for being among the most tolerant areas in the country, but somehow the Christmas season brings out the worst in us. Instead of being a time for joy, love, peace and presents, people go apeshit over religious displays in public spaces and dig in their heels in the tired Christian vs. Atheist debate that is fast becoming as much a part of Christmastime as Rudolph and ringing bells.
In this year’s local drama, which once again has garnered national attention, the battle lines are being drawn with an anti-religion sign and a nativity scene, both of which are displayed in the Washington Capitol building.
As is so often the case, the dispute has been led by the loudest proponents of the most extreme positions on either side. You and I would likely be happy with a non-religious display of trees, bows, candy canes, and Santa Claus (I don’t want to hear a peep from the overweight lobby!), but these squeaky wheels will not rest until all traces of their opponents’ agendas are wiped from collective memory. And what a silly waste of time that is.
Leave the creches out of the public square; as it is we see them in church lots all over town. If you want the baby Jesus in your yard or business parking lot, that’s your prerogative. But government buildings and spaces we own collectively are not appropriate locations to display a central tenet of a given faith (in this case, the birth of the Christian Savior).
But this also means that atheists need to lighten up and accept that Christmas is a long standing Euro-American tradition, one that didn’t always cause so much enmity between the religious and non-religious. They should be thankful that all they have to protest is a manger, the Ten Commandments, and the use of the word God on currency notes and in the Pledge of Allegiance.
In some areas of the world, where one side has undue power over the other, non-believers are killed and the religious can be jailed for their beliefs. We are extremely fortunate to live in a pluralist society where most all beliefs and opinions are tolerated. But we take that good fortune for granted when we devolve into these petty arguments.
There truly are some serious incursions on personal freedoms by those who would impose their religious beliefs on the rest of American society, but this perennial battle over holiday displays is not one of them. Let’s exert our energies on those things that really matter, like marriage equality and control of one’s own body in matters involving both life and death.
For now, just enjoy the holiday, and let’s simply agree on traditions and common themes such as peace, love and rampant consumerism to help our ailing economy. If we were focused on what really matters, we’d display a pink slip and a credit card bill in the Capitol, right next to the soup line.