The Discrimination of Hate

August 22, 2010

If the anti-Muslim hate march in New York today had instead been opposed to Israel or Jews in general, every politician in America would have condemned it.

But in America Muslims are today’s negroes, disallowed their own beliefs and forced to restrict their actions to those areas allowed by the bigots.  I fear that if the Gingrich-Palin-Mad Hatter’s Tea Party take over Congress, they will swiftly move to amend laws and perhaps even the Constitution to ensure that Muslims become second-class citizens.

This is the bigoted community guilt trip: a tiny band of fanatical Islamists atack America, and so all Muslims must suffer.  That way genocide leads.

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Confirmation That The Vatican Is Run By Abusive Idiots

July 15, 2010

In an attempt to calm the maelstrom of criticism that has almost sunk the Catholic Church over the past decade due to its enabling of priests who sexually abuse both boys and girls, the Vatican has issued new rules for how such cases should be handled. The new rules themselves are a major disappointment — for example, bishops still do not have to report cases of known abuse to civil authorities — but that is the least of it.

For some bizarre reason, the Vatican thought to use the issuance of these new regulations to formally state that pedophilia and the ordination of women are crimes of equal value in their eyes. The new document says that a priest who tries to ordain a woman will be defrocked.

The Vatican has for hundreds of years been run, generally, by greedy power-hungry men, and the ex-Hitler Youth Benedict is clearly as bad as any before. The Catholic Church is in turn enabled in its abuse by nation states that allow the Church to run rough-shod over the hard-fought human rights — including gender equality and the duty of reporting known criminal behaviour — that govern all other aspects of our lives in civilized countries.

This disaster of leadership is so sad for all the ordinary Catholics, male and female, who go about their lives in faith and duty.


Don’t Worry, Be Happy!

January 7, 2009

In a clear victory for free speech and secularism, the Atheist Bus Campaign raised more than $150,000 in just four days.  Yesterday, they unveiled their message on the side of 800 buses across Britain.

atheist

Next week, the campaign will put up 1,000 posters on the London Underground system with similar messages.

An interesting element of the bus slogan is the word “probably,” which would seem to be more suited to an Agnostic Bus Campaign than to an atheist one … But the element of doubt was necessary to meet British advertising guidelines, said Tim Bleakley, managing director for sales and marketing at CBS Outdoor in London, which handles advertising for the bus system.For religious people, advertisements saying there is no God “would have been misleading,” Mr. Bleakley said. “So as not to fall foul of the code, you have to acknowledge that there is a gray area,” he said.

Good old England!


Of Burgers, Bigots and Neighbourhood Spirit

November 29, 2008

Last night, Herself and I went to dine at Fet’s.  Nothing unusual in that.  In fact, regular readers will know that Fet’s is our favourite hangout on the Drive.  However, last night we were not there just for the burgers.

While we are at Fet’s, though, we might as well discourse on the food first.   Fet’s has made a real effort recently to have a good changeable fresh sheet.  Last night it included “Moroccan Meat Pie” which I was intrigued enough to try.  It turned out to be a shepherds pie with a spice I couldn’t recognize, a lot of orange flavour, and cheese in the potato topping.  None the worse for all of that, either.  It was served piping hot and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

My bride had the Caribbean burger, which she declaimed was as good as ever.   And that is saying something because in this writer’s humble opinion, the Fets’ Caribbean burger is the finest burger available — definitely on the Drive and probably in the City.  I’m not usually a lover of pineapple, cooked or otherwise; but in this dish it works perfectly.  As always, Eric takes care of his meat, and the burgers are well-formed, generous, and perfectly cooked.

Another fine dining experience.  But on to the real reason we were there.

Some of you may have heard of the Reverend Fred Phelps and his tribe of followers from Kansas.  The leadership and members of his Westboro Baptist Church have become famous for showing up at US military funerals with signs saying “God Bless the Roadside Bombs” and “God Hates America”.   They do this in the belief that America’s soldiers are being killed by God because America allows gays to live and thrive.  Typical extremism, religious fanaticism of the American kind.

phelps

Next door to Fet’s is the Havana restaurant/art gallery/theatre space.  The play opening there last night was about the young gay man brutally murdered in Wyoming a few years back.   Rumour had it that Phelps and his maniacs were motoring all the way from Kansas to Commercial Drive to protest against the play.

His mob was supposed to arrive at 7.   We got to Fet’s at 6 and, on the way, met with several people coming to the Drive to protest against Phelps.  By the time we finished dinner and went back on the street, there were several hundred anti-Phelps folks there, with banners and rainbow flags and a lot of noisy joy considering the continuous heavy rain.  It was wonderful to see our neighbourhood pour out onto the cold and wet streets in support of the consenting diversity that flavours the Drive and, indeed, the entire Province.

My night-time camera skills are minimal and I didn’t have a tripod to steady the long exposures; so this is an impressionistic view of the crowd outside the Havana last night:

phelps-demo1

In the end, Phelps and his people never showed up.  Perhaps he was stopped at the border, perhaps he was scared off by our numbers.  Who knows?   We stayed around for quite a while.   This was community in action.


Happy Birthday Earth!

October 23, 2008

Back in the 17th century, Biblical scholar James Ussher calculated that God created the earth on October 23, 4004 BC.  That makes today the earth’s 6,012th birthday!

There are of course still some who actually believe the factuality of Ussher’s work.  I think some of them ran for US President this year.


Holi Day

March 20, 2008

The Spring Equinox is an important time for many religions and groups to celebrate a new beginning. There is Easter, of course, and Purim. In Iran and that region, many celebrate the new year — Nowruz Mubarak! In India, it is the festival of Holi.

Holi

A colleague at work, Vikas, wrote me about Holi: “It’s a festival of colors and brotherhood. People play with colors and apply color on each other’s face and give hugs. It’s actually about forgetting the differences of past and starting afresh and colors make all people look same, nobody is big, small, rich or poor, equality among all.”

How can you beat that?


The Debtor Religious Right

February 16, 2008

I left politics at my last blog, and this post is about the visualization of data at least as much as it is about the actual data itself. Researchers from the University of Utah and Cal State have examined the relationship between the location of payday lending companies and the political strength of the religious right. They find a strong correlation between the two. The explanation put forward by the authors is:

“When the Christian Right allied itself with conservative Wall Street business interests in the 1980s and early ‘90s, consumer protection law was placed to the side as an inconvenient sticking point. The laws allowing an astonishing number of triple-digit-interest-rate lenders throughout most of the Christian South and Mormon West are a legacy of that political alliance.”

I think that is kind of interesting; but it really comes alive when you look at the data in a visual way. Thanks to Consumerist, we have two splendid maps that speak for themselves:

religious lenders

This ties in nicely with another map recently published in an entirely different context.

US Religions