Sunday, August 05, 2007

Welcome to the Turd Reich.

Let's start with a really graphic truth.



As I commented on Clipmarks, where I found it, I'm not an athiest by any means, but I do make a point of not believing in the "god" followed by the folks this adorable young lady is referring to.

All of this started with a revealing look into what "abstinance only" Sex Ed is really supposed to accomplish, via quite an extended chain of associations...

Hell's Handmaiden > Nicest Girl and Destroyer of Planets > Winter's Haven > Classically Liberal > TPM Cafe: an excerpt from an Excerpt from "Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism"

For all who believe. Reclaiming America for Christ is a place where the Christian nationalist movement drops its democratic pretenses and indulges its theocratic dreams. So at the 2003 conference, when the abstinence educator Pam Stenzel spoke, she knew she didn’t have to justify her objection to sex education with prosaic arguments about health and public policy. She could be frank about the real reason society must not condone premarital sex—because it is, as she shouted during one particularly impassioned moment, 'stinking, filthy, dirty, rotten sin!"

A pretty, zaftig brunette from Minnesota with a degree in psychology from Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, Stenzel makes a living telling kids not to have sex. Rather, she makes a living trying to scare kids out of having sex—as she says in her video No Screwin' Around, if you have sex outside of marriage “to a partner who has only been with you . . . then you will pay.”A big part of her mission is puncturing students’ beliefs that condoms can protect them. She says she addresses half a million kids each year, and millions more have received her message via video.

Thanks to George W. Bush, abstinence education has become a thriving industry, and Stenzel has been at its forefront. Bush appointed her to a twelve-person task force at the Department of Health and Human Services to help implement abstinence education guidelines. She’s been a guest at the White House and a speaker at the United Nations. Her nonprofit company, Enlightenment Communications, which puts on abstinence talks and seminars in public schools, typically grossed several hundred thousand dollars a year during the first Bush term.

At Reclaiming America for Christ, Stenzel told her audience about a conversation she’d had with a skeptical businessman on an airplane. The man had asked about abstinence education’s success rate—a question she regarded as risible. “What he’s asking," she said, “is does it work. You know what? Doesn’t matter. Cause guess what. My job is not to keep teenagers from having sex. The public schools’ job should not be to keep teens from having sex.” Then her voice rose and turned angry as she shouted, “Our job should be to tell kids the truth!”

“People of God,” she cried, “can I beg you, to commit yourself to truth, not what works! To truth! I don’t care if it works, because at the end of the day I’m not answering to you, I'm answering to God!”

Later in the same talk, she explained further why what “works” isn’t what’s important—and gave some insight into what she means by “truth.” “Let me tell you something, people of God, that is radical, and I can only say it here,” she said. “AIDS is not the enemy. HPV and a hysterectomy at twenty is not the enemy. An unplanned pregnancy is not the enemy. My child believing that they can shake their fist in the face of a holy God and sin without consequence, and my child spending eternity separated from God, is the enemy. I will not teach my child that they can sin safely.”

The crowd applauded.

Of course, Stenzel isn’t just teaching her child.


There's more...
Now, this sort of candor about the frankly theocratic, Dominionist agenda of the Evangelical Right Wing is difficult to find outside of the provinces of converts and those who prey upon them, and it's rare for it to pop up in such a mainstream source, so this may all be quite new to you.

I've been watching these people for decades now - or more to the point, watching over the shoulders of the watchers, so if you actually require more convincing, you should start with Theocracy Watch. I mean, it's not that you can't find the truth of it, they are quite frank about their intentions when they think the other side isn't paying attention.

However, this is a particularly juicy bit of revelation, because the interlinked issues of sex ed and abortion are visceral illustrations of a worldview that, frankly, demonizes human nature.

Consider the contrast between the emphasis on making pregnancy as inevitable as possible with militant opposition to consider any social fail-safes for mistakes, accidents, poor decisions or the unpredictable circumstances of life, isseus that are of concern to any person of genuine Evangelical Christian faith, or indeed, anyone who takes the words of Jesus to be important and morally instructive.

I'm sorry if that seems arrogant, but those who discount the positive importance of the words of Christ while treating 19th century Dispensationalist twaddle as if it were Scripture are, aside from being grouchy, mean-spirited, spiteful, intolerant, fearful and judgmental prudes with an unhealthy interest in the bodily functions and private affairs of others, have also stretched the definition of "Christian" to the point where Christ Himself would not recognize it.

In my own opinion of course. But then, it's always been a feature of established Christan churches to ignore almost all of what Christ had to say, or to re-interpret it in favor of the interests of wealthy and powerful patrons - and this is why I belong to no church at all. I have found none that do not insult my faith.

Nor have I ever felt that anyone has the right to question me - or even inquire into - what precisely my faith is, or whether I'm "right with God." I refuse to even be pinned down as to whether I believe in a literal God, much less a literal Christ.

Hell, HE refused to make a clear statement as to his own divinity; I take that as a clear statement of intentional ambiguity. But I digress, other than to observe that anyone who takes the Bible as a clear set of instructions on what you - not them, but YOU - should do or not do, regardless of your faith or the lack of it may be - is both a busybody and damnably lacking in the most essential ethic of all.

"That which is hateful to you, do not do to others." "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." "An it harm none, do as you will." Three religions, three different ways of putting the same idea - mind your own relationship with the divine and let others mind theirs. And further, let your actions speak in accordance with your words.

One of the more famous Christian parables is the Parable of the Fig Tree, which states, essentially, that you know the worth of the tree by the fruit that it bears; that the tree that bears sweet fruit is tended and cared for while the tree that bears bitter fruit is cut down and cast in the fire. Like most, if not all parables attributed to Christ, it's a self-evident observation of everyday reality in first-century Palestine; only the very rich could afford the non-productive luxury of a purely ornamental fruit tree - when productive trees were every bit as beautiful.

Now, here at Graphictruth, I'm not particularly respectful of nor interested in religious morality, but I am passionately concerned with issues of ethics, which I pithily refer to as the science and discipline of "not fucking up."

The single MOST predictable source of "fucking up," of "mistake generation," or of "sin" if you will, is an inordinate concern with the affairs of and actions of other beings, coupled with a willful blindess as to the consequences of one's own intrusive actions. A "sin" is a mistake, a transgression against another, a harm or disharmony, willful or mistaken. A sin is a trespass - as anyone who has attended both Lutheran and Catholic services will know.

Well, there can be no greater trespass than to presume for another what actions are, for them, sins, WITHOUT REFERENCE to any harm that may be done to others.

To state that sex IS a sin, without any linkage to causation of harm is in fact "the bearing of false witness." Sexual activity - and the urge to do it - often puts us in absurd and dangerous positions, and quite often leads to "unfortunate blessings, absence the prudent usage of birth control. But to define pregnancy as an inherent consequence of sin and to enforce that attitude as a social truth by draconian legislation and social shame is to do harm against the innocent product of what would otherwise be not so much a sin as a surprise.

The harm that is done is the deliberate result of prudes and pecksniffs ensuring that there ARE harmful consequences, when it is their plain duty as human beings first and Christians second is to ensure that no harm, or as little harm as possible comes to any member of their community, and most absolutely to spare no trouble or expense in meeting the needs of the innocent and needy.

But when we study their words and their actions, we find that the only members of the human community that they consider worth consideration are those who are "saved." That stance alone - well, it's fairly orthodox, if somewhat despicable, and condemned by implication in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, but with most Christians, that's expressed as inaction, rather than as actions against the interests of other.

Dispensationalists and dominionist theocrats have taken this a step further, if not in doctrine then in explicit teachings by their most respected writers and leaders. The "saved" are those who share their dominionist theology and who therefore actively suppport the effort to impose - by whatever means - a theocratic rule on earth.

Those who are NOT saved deserve no help, no shelter, no succor, no consideration; they do not deserve even life itself, save for the length of time needed to bring a life into the world that can be potentially saved in order to oppress the unsaved.

Later in the same talk, she explained further why what “works” isn’t what’s important—and gave some insight into what she means by “truth.” “Let me tell you something, people of God, that is radical, and I can only say it here,” she said. “AIDS is not the enemy. HPV and a hysterectomy at twenty is not the enemy. An unplanned pregnancy is not the enemy. My child believing that they can shake their fist in the face of a holy God and sin without consequence, and my child spending eternity separated from God, is the enemy. I will not teach my child that they can sin safely.”
If it's something that cannot be said aloud in the marketplace, if it is something that can only be spoken of in private, to the self-appointed "elect," the likelihood is that it is a "truth" that depends on a shared, unquestioned, untestable, unprovable assumption. That, or it's an outright lie of Xenuvian magnitude.

Here's the lie.
"I will not teach my child that they can sin safely.” She is not making millions of dollars teaching her own children, or even the children of fellow believers. She's making those millions uttering calculatedly dangerous falsehoods to children in public schools, based on the assumption that a little premarital fornication is "shaking their fists in the face of holy God."

Schools exist to teach data and facts, ideally as free from ideological and religious bias as possible. Why? Because we, also, wish our children to avoid "sin," not from fear, but from good information that leads to making rational, informed choices. If they must take risks - and for some, it does seem they must, let them at least become the best risk calculators possible.

And this woman wishes to subvert this whole process, knowing, for we have her own words to tell us the truth of her knowledge, that due to her lies, there will be pregnancies, there will be abortions, there will be STD infections and there will be deaths that could have been avoided with a condom, because it's better that a few sheep who stray should perish, lest the flock as a whole be led astray!

Waaait a minute! That's not what the parable of the Lost Sheep says! But if your concern is to herd the maximum number into the slaughterhouse against every natural urge and instinct, yes, you have to convince them that the only thing more terrifying than the scent of blood and fear is an unreasoning fear of everything else.

These verses from the King James could not be more clear:

15 ¶ Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Mt. 3.10 · Lk. 3.9
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Mt. 12.33

Boy, it takes a lot of thumping and theology to obscure the meaning of this. False prophets (prophets being those entrusted with explaining scripture) will be known by their fruits; by the consequences of their actions, the harm they do to others and to the faith of innocents.

By their fruits, you will know them. By their actions, they stand condemned before you. But fortunately, you do not need to "cut them down and throw them in the fire" in any but the social sense. "Shake the dust from your feet."

Read their works, discern their intents - and then vote for the OTHER fellow. Mock them. Question them loudly in public, and snicker at the prevarications and evasions that they substitute for answers. Do as I have done here, and shine lights into their dark places to show what scuttles and chitters within.

If your school board continues to embrace such nonsense as abstinance-only sex-ed or, god forbid, requires equal time for some creationist folly, you need a new school board. That means that some of "you" need to run for that office.

Meanwhile, make a point of doing what you would normally do in life or in business in any case. If you know someone is a liar, a cheat, a fraud or a thief, you avoid them. You don't take them into the bosom of your families and you certainly do not knowingly employ them. We are speaking of a mental disease that is as socially dangerous as methamphetimine, crack, heroin and alcohol together, if for no other reason that it brings about the ruin of families and entire towns, while remaining undetectable in urine. When thier choices affect you, you bring them before your neighbors for justice - just as you would with any other criminal.

Am I advocating "religious discrimination?" Only in the sense that we all must learn to discriminate between good apples and bad. You give 'em a thump, have a good sniff, and then, and only then do you take a bite. If it's late in the season, you might go as far as to cut it open just to be sure.

You see, we are told not to discriminate against people of faith for what they believe - that's wrong. But nothing in the Constitution or the Bible says that you should suspend judgment about what people actually do when their actions affect you and put you at risk. It really does not matter whether their actions are due to some faith-based delusion or a more honest greed for power - their mental state is not your concern unless they ask you for insight or access to appropriate medication. We can only righteously and reasonably act on what people actually have done and will probably do based on what they have done before.

Judging people on the good or evil of the outcomes of their actions and the worth of their stated, real-world goals is not "religous discrimination." It's critical review, and it IS judgment - but then, they claim the right to judge you based on your actions and choices without any reference to outcome. Having so judged, let them be judged also.

These are people who's essential theology depends on dominating public policy by stealth or force. In some far reaches, some will go so far as to say that there must be atomic war in the middle east so that their vision of pie in the sky will come sooner rather than later. These are people that pray faithfully for Armageddon and work toward that end, every day.

Now, take a look at the Middle East and the meddling there. Does it seem to you that averting the risk of wholesale atomic warfare there is a current domestic policy priority? Does it seem there is any respect for, much less consideration of the rights and value of the millions who must inevitably perish as a result of this hateful delusion?

If you believe in the Bible, or any other time tested and reputable ethical system, somewhere in it you will find reference to a universal truth, one that is so predictable that there may well one day be literal equasions describing it.

It amounts to this: when you harm others, that harm will rebound, and likewise, when you do good to others, that good will rebound. Most actions tend to be mixed somewhat, so life is a mixture of both good and evil consequences - and indeed, many times which it is depends entirely on how you choose to look at it.

Those who choose to see only evil in the choices of other and to actively reject any good that comes from the actions of "such people" as my good friend, ana voog, as being "satanic deceptions" are willfully lying to themselves and others. Having blinded themselves to much good, and devoting the whole of their attention to seeing particular sorts of actions, for good or ill, as being evil by definition, they have renderd themselves blind themselves to the evil they do in the name of good and the overwhelming, insupportable, reeking pile of karmic crap they have accumulated.

Those great and insightful Prophets, Cheech and Chong, had something to say about that.

"You can't polish a turd."

And that is exactly what the their vision for our future is; A Turd Reich.

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