Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Why Are We Such Prudes? Part 2

Some people are just into some freaky shit.
And I kinda dig it.
Yesterday I talked about why I think pre-marital sex is not morally wrong, and how Puritanical it seems to view sex in such a derogatory way.  One of my readers, FreeThinke, in his response asked 10 questions.  I will answer some of them, and try to bring my major point full circle.

1.Is bad sex better than no sex?
That depends on how bad it is and whose fault it is.  Bad sex when it's not your fault, ie. your partner is just not doing something right, is better than no sex.  No sex is better than bad sex when it's your fault, because if it's your fault then no only do you go unsatisfied, but then you get to experience the concomitant humiliation and embarassment.

2.Is friendly sex without love better than no sex?
Absolutely.  Sex is the most fun that two human beings can experience together, and if you and another person are attracted to each other sexually, then why deprive yourself?  If when we say "friendly," we mean that it's someone you consider to be your friend, more than an acquaintance, then yes having sex would be better than no sex so long as both parties are mature enough to handle it.

3. Is sex in a loveless marriage out of a sense of duty better than hot passionate sex outside of marriage?
Yes and no.  Sex is a reciprocal, mutual thing so there are two ways to look at it: what am I getting out of it, what is my partner getting out of it?  If you're looking at it in terms of what you're getting out of it, then it's probably better to have passionate sex outside of marriage.  If you're looking at it from "what is my partner getting out of it," then it would be better to have sex in marriage out of a sense of duty, assuming that this at least satisfies your partner.

4. Should "decency" and "propriety" ever enter into sexual encounters, or is it better just to let go and let 'er rip?
That honestly depends on quite a couple of things.  First the type of relationship you have with the person, and second the mood of the situation.  Are you and your partner "together," or just strictly sexual partners?  Are you adventurous in bed and your partner a prude, vice versa, or are you on the same page?  Do you feel like expressing your love to your partner, or are you in a fit of primal passion and you absolutely have to fuck him or her?  At the end of the day you have to know what your partner is into.  If he/she wants dirty, impulsive sex, then why not?

5. Is no sex better than gay sex for a gay person?
No.  I've said it before and I'll say it again: although something might be considered "unnatural," by conventional standards, that doesn't mean there's anything morally/ethically wrong with it.  If a gay person is attracted to another, then that person has just as much right to act on those feelings as anyone else.  Why should they be told they have to supress their natural desires while everyone else is allowed to fulfill them?

6. Is masturbation a sin -- or merely means to relieve sexual tension?
Seeing as how probably every living adult in history with working parts has jacked off at least once in their lifetime, I'm going to say that if it is a sin then there's no one in heaven.  It's better to relieve that tension than to bottle it all up.  But of course, all things in moderation.

7. Is it possible to have love without sex?
Yes.  It's possible to love someone without jumping their bones.  We know that there are three kinds of love that the Greeks thought of--eros, philia, and agape--so it is possible to truly love someone without sex being involved.

8. In a sexless marriage, should the partners be bound to the law against adultery?
Part of the marriage vow is that you will always be faithful to each other so long as you're married.  If you're not having sex in the marriage, then you're still bound by the vow you made to not be unfaithful.  While adultery is not necessarily something that we can legislate against, I would say that having sex with someone other than your spouse is a grave betrayal and is morally wrong.

9. Is artificial insemination a form of adultery in married women -- or of fornication in unmarried women?
No.  Insemination is not the same as the act of sexual intercourse itself.  Sex is more than just the biological processes that it entails.  If sex were only about procreation, then it would not be so pleasurable.  If you believe that humans are the creation of God, then you have to believe that God meant for humans to experience sexual pleasure.  If you don't believe in God, then it's simple as chocking it up to logic.  Artificial insemination is not sexual intercourse, and therefore is not adultery or fornication.

10. Is sex primarily designed for recreation or only for procreation?
That's probably the toughest question out of all of these.  I don't think it's mean primarily for either purpose.  We can't deny the efficacy of neither pleasure or procreation.  Procreation is absolutely important for obvious reasons, but pleasure I think goes a bit deeper than that (no pun intended . . . maybe).  Look at couples who don't ever have children because they can't or don't want any.  They still can end up happy and fulfilled,.  Besides, most people, when having sex, aren't always thinking about spawning children.  The only time when it's all about procreation is when the couple is actually "trying."  The other 90% of the time it's all about making each other feel good.

Every human being on this planet deserves the chance to be happy, so why would we tell some people that they're not allowed to be happy just because we think the junk they're into is "depraved," "unnatural," or "weird"?  If being freaky is your deal, then do it up. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Why Are We Such Prudes? Part 1

She is probably not a prude . . .
On Sunday, Silverfiddle joked that my post didn't use any vulgarity.  So to counter the lack of lewdness and salacious behavior, I've divised a two part article on how Jack Camwell views human sexuality.  Warning: it will be crass in parts.

Disclaimer: I'm not a hippie.  When it comes to marriage I'm fairly traditional.  I believe that marriage should be only between two consenting adults of sound mind and legal age.  If you're married, then your entire sexual self should be devoted to that person to whom you are married.  Cheating on your spouse is, in my mind, the ultimate betrayal that someone can perpetrate on another human being.

But if you're not married, then why does it matter whom you fuck?

Why should you even wait until you're married to have sex?  I think there's a lot of people in America who, if asked the question, would say that pre-marital sex is wrong.  Most Americans would probably also look poorly upon those who have sex with a partner that they're not even in love with.

What?  Sex for fun and not necessarily love?  I know, it sounds all hedonistic and horrifying, but lets consider a few things.  First off, how many people reading this article have never had pre-marital sex?  My guess would be that 99.9% of you did the deed before you were married, and even more than likely with someone who you didn't intend to marry.

I mean, c'mon.  We've all been in high school.  When you're a teenager you've got all those hormones coursing through your veins with reckless abandon.  You've just discovered that you are a sexual being, and that you'd likely have sex with a meat grinder if it was warm enough.  And even for those who presented themselves as being virtuous and above such carnal things often lost heart when standing at the precipice.  I know I did.

But why do we think it's wrong?  My bible knowledge on human sexuality is a bit fuzzy, meaning that I can't remember where or if in the bible it says that sex should only be done within the legal bonds of holy matrimony, but my guess is that even if the bible says that's the case, it's probably still not wrong.  How?  Well, we have to remember that the concept of marriage 2,000+ years ago was a bit different than it is now.  First off, they were indeed allowed to take as many wives as they could afford.  Secondly, there wasn't any legal binding about it, although marriage was considered a socially recognized institution.

But really, why should sex be limited to married couples?  Our biology tells us that we're not scientifically meant for monogomous relationships anyways.  One man could technically impregnate every woman in Europe that is able to bear children up until the day he dies.

I'm not saying that we should have sex, or try to, with every person we're sexually attracted to.  I'm definitely not advocating promiscuity.  All I'm saying is if two adults find each other sexually attractive then why should some people in society place a stigma upon them for doing the horizontal mambo?  If we're all creations of God, then that means every aspect about our nature is something that God intended for us.  Humans, like any other animal on this planet, are sexual beings, and human sexuality is a gift from God.

Humans are social animals, and we have no problem forming emotional intimacies with other humans.  Am I emotionally promiscuous because I enjoy becoming emotionally close to more than one person?  Of course not.  So why is there such a difference between that and physical intimacy?  Sure, it's extremely pleasurable (if you're doing it right) but there's nothing wrong with experiencing pleasure so long as you're able to moderate yourself and not become a slave to your desire.

So do we say sex should only be in marriage just because you think God says so?  If sex is a way to experience God's love for us, does that mean the only way we can experience is love is in a heterosexual marriage?

Today was not so gritty, but tomorrow will be.  We'll talk about some of the more deviant stuff, and why so many people have an aversion to it.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Dumbass Idea of the Week

So imagine you're making your morning commute to work and out of nowhere, a Greyhound bus loses some canisters of its cargo.  The canisters emit a nasty odor, and the reason for that is because they're carrying bull semen . . .

Yes, the bus had prematurely ejected it's bull semen cargo.  It can happen to anyone, really, so it's not that this is a particularly dumb idea.  But the news article I read about it takes the cake and earns the spot as the dumbass idea of the week.  Here's the line that did it:

The incident began when the driver of a Greyhound bus carrying the freight alerted the fire department he had lost a part of his load while negotiating the ramp on a highway near Nashville.
I can't make this shit up even if I wanted to, people.  Fact is stranger, and funnier, than fiction.

Oh, and here are some of the best search terms used to find my blog from this week:

Heather Graham breasts
Bruce Willis facepalm
hotties pro life hotties

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Classical Music Sunday: Alban Berg

Alban Berg is sort of in the same vein as Stravinsky, I think (help me out on that one FreeThinke).  A friend of mine is a composition student, and whenever I ask him to give me some music along the lines of Stravinsky, he'll either give me something from Schoenberg, Berg, or Webern.

When I listen to Berg, the sense I get is that he's trying to show the weirdness and darkness of life.  A lot of Beethoven's work, for me at least, is more about the complexity and potency of raw human emotion.  It's not like the Romantic period, where emotions are treated much as an adolescent would understand his or her teen angst; it's more about the emotions we feel when life hits us with an incredibly difficult situation.

Berg seems less about emotion and more about madness.  If you've never seen his opera Wozzeck you would immediately know what I'm talking about.  Life is difficult, cold, and dark.  Some of us are able to go on, but others are driven to dispair and even insanity.

Berg wants us to see life as it is objectively and not necessarily through the lens of our own emotion and understanding.  Instead of trying to elicit a specific emotion in the audience, perhaps he wants the audience to find something out about themselves.

Enjoy, and have a wonderful Sunday =)

Friday, August 26, 2011

One thing the world will never be short of . . .

"What do you mean the rebels looted
my wardrobe???"
. . . is crazy ass dictators.  Gadhaffi's reign of bullshit is all but ended, but we still have some loons in charge of entire peoples.  What's worse is that these nut-jobs are also actively working on nuclear "projects."  Let's look at some of the crazies we have running sovereign nations.

Actually, I only want to focus on two of them, and they're in the news all the time: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and Kim Jong Il of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.  I used the "official," country names for a reason.  As usual I hate to point out the obvious, but both of these totalitarian states try to seem democratic or republican just by throwing in those words into their names.  Fun fact, an Iranian will not refer to his or her country as Iran, but will actually refer to it as the "Islamic Republic."

These societies intrigue me, because I always wonder how much of the people actually support their regimes.  In the DPRK, I imagine that it's pretty brutal, and that the people would rather just accept their lot and live rather than be thrown in a secret prison.  I know that in Iran there's a lot of youth upstarts, but why doesn't it go anywhere?

Anyway, Ahmadinejad is a fucking wacko.  He supports their theocracy, we know that he's likely trying to obtain nuclear weapons, he's constantly defiant on international issues, he's a Holocaust denier, and he thinks that Israel is a "rotting corpse," that should be annihilated, along with all the Jews in it.  And the best part is that he has no problem saying any of this out in the open.

" . . . but seriously, fuck all those Jews."
I spent six months in the Persian Gulf, and I had to devote a lot of my time, effort, and research on Iran.  I can tell you that their military is somewhat formidable, especially their Navy and Air Force, and they have a big geographical strategic advantage in the Gulf.  I can also tell you that the Iranians play chicken a lot.  A frigate got close enough for us to see its weapon loadout, and when we were guarding the Al Basra and Khor Al Amaya Oil Terminals (ABOT and KAAOT), the Iranians were the only ones that gave us any trouble.

And then there's Kim Jong Il.  You have to question the sanity of a world leader who stars in his own music videos.  You also have to question the sanity of someone who's constantly threatening nuclear holocaust, all the while knowing that using nuclear weapons would pretty much doom him and his entire regime.  Either all of his threats are hollow, or he's actually insane.

Kim could be bipolar as well.  One minute he's threatening us with righteous nuclear holy war, or some such shit, and the next minute he wants to just sit down and talk it all out.  It's always like daddy just hit mommy at the dinner table, and he's trying to appologize so we don't go blabbing to a social worker.

This photo still leaves me speechless.
Honestly, all I know is that I'm glad I'm not a world leader, so I don't have to deal with all these nutjobs and wacktards.  Lucky for the Libyans they had some of the most powerful nations in the world backing up their revolution.  Would you start an uprising without that kind of support?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Teacher Tells the Truth

I was going to make a post about wacky dictators for today--I even found some good pictures of them--but I read this story and immediately became incensed.

This was a follow-up story about a highschool English teacher in Pennsylvania who was censured for writing "offensive," things about her students on her blog.  I remember reading about it a few months ago, and I found the whole situation fairly entertaining.  The woman said that her students are "dim," and that many of them are whiney and complain too much.

Well, apparently the students and parents caught wind of this, and they were pissed about it. 

Let's get something straight here.  If my child's teacher tells me that my kid is dim, whiney, and unmotivated my reaction would be to jump up my kid's ass and ask him why the hell he's being such a shithead.  Not every teacher is perfect and right in their estimation of their students.  I once observed an 8th grad social studies teacher that was absolutely attrocious.  The kids in her class were shitheads, but it was difficult to tell if they were shitheads because she was attrocious, or if she was attrocious because they were shit heads.

Be that as it may, we need to stop pretending that our children are our little scholarly angels.  We demand that teachers help develop our children into productive, mature young adults, and our response when they try to tell us how our kids are is to shit on the teacher?

What is even more laughable is that students at this particular high school are allowed to have a different teacher than her if they request.  That's exactly what we should do!  Not only should we tell our precious kids that they're all so special and wonderful, but we should also accommodate them for every whim they have.  Because, you know, no one in their adult life will ever criticize them, and they'll always be able to request a different boss if they don't get along, or if their boss is too hard on them.

I honestly don't get why parents these days feel the need to shelter their kids from shit that will help them grow.  You know what I want for my children?  I want them both to be strong, independent adults who are not afraid to work hard in order to get a job done.  I don't want them to be hypersensitive pansies who can't take any criticism from anyone.

Call me old fashioned, but the future is likely to be filled with a bunch of whimpy dumbasses with stupid names.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Something Is Really Pissing Me Off

I don't like to talk about my job very much because it sucks ass.  I work in a call center, which is a horrifying turn of fate for someone who considers himself to be an intellectual, so naturally I constantly want to gauge my eyes out.

Yesterday was particularly aggrivating because nearly every call I got was someone wanting to argue with me about shit.  I schedule appointments, so the arguments ranged anywhere from being pissed about availability, to what the appointment was actually supposed to be for, and things of the like.  For some bizarre reason, these people didn't want to believe a god damned word I said.

Why do people do that?  Sure, we should always question, but acting as if you know better, or arguing with someone when they've presented you with the reality of the situation in question, is not indicative of a healthy inquisitive attitude.  It's indicative of being an ignorant asshat who thinks the world should be fucking handed to you on a god damned plate.

Perhaps that's just a symptom to a larger societal problem that we've all talked about: the age of entitlement.  What is lame, though, is that I usually ascribe the "generation of entitlement" decriptor to the youngsters of today, but I'm seeing it in grown-ass adults.  Have we become such a welfare state that even grown adults, who should by all rights be people who understand that the path to success and happiness is to work hard, sit back and think that everything should just fall into their laps?

Clearly, the answer must be yes.  I know this is not true for all Americans, and probably not even for a majority of Americans, but it's just enough people to totally piss in my cornflakes most days.

And the worst part about it is that if I want to keep my job, I just have to fucking take it.  I can't tell them what giant shitheads they are, or tell them that they should not have no-showed their last appointment if they really really needed to get in right away.  I can't tell them that I think they are retarded, worthless drains on society's resources and that they are what's wrong with this country.

The irony about that, though, is that even if I were allowed to say what I thought to them, even if I were permitted to tell them what horrible people they are, it still wouldn't matter.  They'd just think I'm some bitter asshole who hates his life because he works in a call center, when all he could have done was have like 7 children and get the government to pay for it.  What a sucker I must seem to them.

No, they'd go on with their dispicable little lives believing that there is nothing wrong with them.  They would think I'm rude and just plain wrong.  Well guess what, you shitheads, I may be a rude, bitter asshole, but that doesn't mean I'm wrong.

Fuck that job, and fuck all of them.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

This Guy Has a Lumber Yard in His Eye

This, ladies and gentleman, is the face of a shithead.
What is it with men of the cloth committing horrifying acts of sexual depravity?  The most prominent men caught destroying the lives of their flock are Catholic priests, but down in South Carolina a Baptist preacher has been taken into custody for allegedly using the grounds behind his church to rape 3 women.

Seriously: what the hell?  How do we even make sense of silly shit like this?  In human society there's only a handfull of people that you can trust, and for the most part we consider those people as trustworthy.  We trust fireman and policeman, and of course we trust our pastors and religious figures.  I guess the question we all have to ask ourselves now is should we trust them?

I don't blame any Catholic who doesn't fully trust their child around a priest, even if their parish priest is generally a good man who would never do anything to harm the children.  It's happened so much over the years that it even makes me a bit uneasy, eventhough I know that it's not as rampant as everyone is made to believe.

I hate to point out the obvious, but it stings a lot more when the people who spit out sermons about Christian goodness every Sunday commit such violence against mankind.  It makes me wonder what the hell is going on in their heads.  Are they merely predatory beings?  Are they just fucked up in the skull and can't help themselves?  What went so wrong?  Also, it makes me wonder just how much of their own bullshit they believe, or if they believe in anything at all.

Do they really believe in Jesus and his message of peace and love, or is it all a lie?  We can say that it must obviously be a lie, but we don't know what's in their hearts.  As asinine as it sounds, they could very well believe in what they preach.  However, of course, that does nothing to excuse what they've done, and this is not an attempt on my part to dismiss judgment upon their actions.  I'm just curious to know whether they're lying through their teeth on Sundays, or if they simply can't help but give in to their detestable desires.

What's super ironic about this shithead Dale Richardson is that the sermon he preached on the Sunday before he was arrested was specifically about Jesus' "before you remove the speck from someone else's eye, you must first remove the plank out of yours" message.  For a man who has to spend his Sunday mornings telling his faithful flock that they are going to hell lest they repent from their sinful lives and be saved by Jesus, it sounds like he's got a god damned rain-forrest's worth in planks in his eye.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Dumbass Idea of the Week

So a ferry captain in Helsinki goes to take a shit, and I guess before he went to do so he didn't think it'd be a good idea to make sure that someone else took the helm to make sure they wouldn't run aground.

Well, the ferry ran aground because the shitter door got stuck, and he couldn't get out of the head (bathroom for you land-lubbers).

Fortunately, no one was hurt, and the damage was fairly minimal.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Messiaen and the Quartet for the End of Time

Olivier Messiaen was a 20th Century French composer.  During World War II, he was taken as a prisoner of war by the Nazis and spent a good amount of time in a Nazi prison camp, and it was during this time that he composed "Quartet for the End of Time."

The piece was even first performed in a German prison camp.

It is in eight movements, and it expresses the perception that the world around him was ending.  A lot of people likely thought that the Nazis were bringing about the end of all things, and hope is a rare commodity in a Nazi prison camp.

Here I've included only one of the movements, this one titled "Praise to the Eternity of Jesus."  Keep in mind that this was composed and first performed while he was a prisoner of war.  The human mind never ceases to amaze me.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Mitt Romney: The Last Best Hope to Beat Obama?

My article is on Political Realities today.  Check it out here.  Enjoy!

And for your visual edification, another actress I'm in love with: Katherine Heigl.

If there is a God, then this is proof that he doesn't completely hate us.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Man's Obsession with Heroes

What the hell even makes someone a hero anyway?  I guess a hero is someone who demonstrates courage and bravery in an extremely shitty situation.  I guess then heroes could come in all shapes and sizes, and arise out of various circumstances.  My guess is also that being a hero means that the actions you're taking are done in the face of a high probability for personal injury, whether that injury is inflicted on his physical person or his honor.

The inspiration for this article comes from one I read today about how the first responders to the 9/11 attack are not invited to the memorial ceremonies.  Apparently, specific government figureheads and only the families of victims are invited.  Naturally people feel sort of outraged about it, because these heroes placed the safety and value of the lives of other people above their own.  But should we be upset that they're not invited?

A professor of mine in college, a Vietnam veteran, said that he always took issue when people called him a "hero" for his service to his country.  He was drafted, and he definitely didn't want to go because he was actually studying to get his PhD in political science at the time.  I guess if you were in college or whatever, the government said that they'd pass over you for the draft, but he was picked nonetheless.  He said that he vehemently opposed the war, but he answered the call because it was his duty to his country.

He always felt that he should not be held in any higher esteem just because he fulfilled his duty.  That's how I feel about my own military service.  I only spent four years in the Navy, and three of those years were spent on a boat, the USS San Jacinto (CG-56).  Yes, I did a deployment to the Persian Gulf.  Sure, I might have done some stuff that people considered "important."  But does that make me a hero?  Being on a U.S. naval warship, one of the most advanced and deadly pieces of warfighting equipment on the planet, meant that I was never in any real danger.  And even if I was in danger, I still wouldn't feel like a hero.

Would I feel like a hero if I had survived ground combat and maybe saved a life or something?  Probably not.  Don't get me wrong: I'll always be proud of my service and recognize that I was able to do something that not everyone is able/willing to do.  But "hero" will never be how I describe myself.

I have a hard time believing, though, that the real heroes in life ever actually think of themselves to be heroes.  The type of person who risks his or her life for someone else does not strike me as the type of person who thinks about whether or not he or she will be venerated.  Afterall, an act of heroism is supposed to be altruistic, isn't it?  If you're simply doing heroic things because you want people to consider you to be a hero, then would you still be a hero? 

So I hope the responders are not upset by this "slight," and we shouldn't be upset either.  Yes, they're heroes.  They risked their lives for the lives of others, but for many of them that's their job anyway.  To be perfectly frank, they did what any of us should have done in the same situation.  If they are heroes, it's not because they displayed extraordinary courage or bravery, it's because they lived up to the highest standard of what it means to be human.

So why are we obsessed with heroes?  Maybe it's because they represent everything we wish we could be.  Perhaps it's because we desire to live up to their example, and we admire them for having the courage we may lack.  So I suppose it's not the deed that makes the hero, but rather his or her heart.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

What Makes You a Liar?

I consider myself to be a fairly moral guy.  Sure, I curse a lot, but I have a set of moral values that I try to follow.  I try not to wrong anyone: I'm generally honest, I'm generous, and I try to be kind to others and not cause anyone undue pain.

Nearly everyone has a set of moral convictions to which they try to adhere, but there are extreme cases that cause our morality to be shaken.  It's easy to sit back and say "lying is wrong, therefore I don't lie to people."  That's an easy thing to follow through with.  But what about something like the death penalty or abortion.

For some of us, there are issues that are fairly unsettling because our intellectual understanding of the subject sometimes conflicts with our gut intuition on it.  Killing happens to be one such issue.  Intellectually and morally, I can sit here and say that killing is never a good thing.  I can say that taking a man's life out of vengeance or justice is probably not good, even though it might serve some practical purpose.  And I can say that with a straight face, because in my heart I believe that it's wrong to kill someone out of vengeance.

Being the empathetic person that I am, I always imagine myself in the situation where I would have to choose whether or not to take a person's life.  I wonder to myself if that person had, say, murdered someone I love, or molested my children, would I grant this person mercy?

Intellectually, I know that I should.  I know that exacting vengeance will ultimately solve nothing in the realm of morality.  Even though he's a monster, he's still a human being, and all humans no matter how horrifying deserve to be treated as humans.  If I am able to kill him in cold blood then what does that say about me?  But then I start to think about how disgusting child molesters are.  They prey on innocent children and shatter their lives forever.  I see them as not even human--subhuman.  To me they're twisted visages, malevolent humanoids who haven't a shred of decency.

If a person committed such an attrocity against my children, I could kill that person and feel no moral compunction about it whatsoever.  In fact, if a child molester were dragged out of the comfort of his home right this minute and beat to death in the middle of a street, I wouldn't stop it.  I wouldn't cry out for human rights.  Hell, I'd probably help beat his ass.

So because of that, I recognize that there are certain scenarios that make a liar out of me.  I can sit here and say that I would stick to my moral guns in most situations, but in others I fear that my passion would outweigh my conviction.  I wish that I could be a stalwart like St. Thomas More, or anyone else who has gone to their grave over their conscience, but I have to admit that I'm all too human.

So what makes a liar out of you?  Once you admit your own moral frailty, where does one go from there?  My guess is that there aren't many Thomas Mores left in the world, so how many of you are honest enough to admit it?  I can't shake this feeling that nearly everyone on this planet has their moral limits.  Granted, most people have a very high limit and would not lightly stray from their moral path, but does everyone have a breaking point?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Why So Sensitive?

Well, today's article was supposed to be about how the HBO series True Blood is better than the Twilight movies, but a friend of mine threw down the gauntlet on me and said that it would probably be better for me to actually watch one of the Twilight films before I ream it a new asshole.  Since the Master Chef finale is on tonight thus keeping me from watching twilight, I guess I'll have to save that for tomorrow.

Instead, here is a rant about people being whiney bitches.

Of course we should be mindful of other people's feelings, but how come society as a whole has to be so god damned sensitive to anything that anyone says?

Someone in the US Consulate in India made a remark that "smacked of racism."  I'm going to throw the bullshit flag on this one.  The woman was recounting a 72 hour train ride to some college students, and she said that "after 72 hours, my skin became dirty and dark like the Tamilians."

Sure, a retard might take that to sound racist, but lets examine the logic of the statement.  The woman who said this is white, so in order for her skin to become dark like the Tamilians, it would have to become dirty.  Since she was on the train ride for 72 hours, and since the conditions were likely pretty dirty themselves, it makes sense that her skin would have been darkened a little bit.

But of course, people took offense to it, and now she has to apologize.  And of course being offensive wasn't her intention, but that doesn't matter.  All that matters is that some asshats took what she said out of context.

This might not be a big deal to some people, but for people like me it's pretty fucking grating on my nerves.  Although America is a guilt culture, in my head I'm living in a shame culture.  So for me, public affronts to my character actually mean something.  I try not to do things that are legal yet unethical, because I don't want to live with the shame.

So can we, as a society, please stop crying and fucking whining about everything that everyone says?  That would make my life a lot easier, and my blog a lot more readable.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Music: Because I don't want to write anything today

A friend of mine who is a composer got me switched on to Igor Stravinsky.  He was truly a man who was ahead of his time, and his music is amazing.  So because I don't want to write anything for today, I'm going to post a youtube of an excerpt from his ballet Firebird.

This work is one of his earlier works, and it's before he started to do some of the riskier stuff.  What makes Stravinsky so amazing is that his music has so much content, even when he's trying to tone it down.  It's not a simple "I'M SO ANGRY," or "I'm so in love," type thing.  There's a depth to it that you can't fully grasp the first time you listen to it.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Dumbass Idea of the Week

A study showed that most people seem to prefer spoilers, and that spoiling the end to moviea  or a book does nothing to decrease someone's enjoyment of said piece.


How many of you have seen The Sixth Sense?  Without the twist at the end, that movie would have meant very little.  In fact, how many of you have watched that movie more than once?  More than twice?  Or take Ocean's Eleven for another example.  The end, figuring out how they pulled one over on that heist, was one of those "holy shit," moments that you can't replicate, and would have been meaningless if you knew for fact that it was going to happen.

When I read a book or watch a movie, I'm not the type of person that tries to predict the ending.  I try to stay in the moment, follow the story the way it was meant to be followed.  Why do people prefer to have the story spoiled for them?

Some asshat that conducted this study said that the plot is "just an excuse for good writing."  What the fuck does that even mean?  Of course the plot is important.  I don't care if you're Walt-fucking-Witman: the plot matters just as much as the writing. 

**Spoiler Alert**

People are fucking retarded.  Shit, did I ruin it for anyone?

Oh and here were the best search terms of the week:  "hot volleyball ass,"  "demotivational poster cum," and "Jesus shoots a bird."

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Divine Words Still Go Through Human Channels

The other day I mentioned something about Richard Nixon's "silent majority," and how scary a ploy like that was.  I think I used the example on Political Realities, a blog I contribute to occasionally, and I believe it was in reference to Gov. Rick Perry.  Perry is a God-fearing Christian who is rather vocal about his faith, and so naturally I posed this question: is he the type of man who claims to be doing "God's Work"?

President George W. Bush said that he was doing God's Work by trying to plant the seeds of democracy in the Middle East, and I'm sure he's not the first president that has thought he was doing what God wanted him to do.  The trick here is the medium through which the message is conveyed.  Nixon said that he spoke for the silent majority and what they wanted, but how did he know what they wanted if they were all silent?  Was he claiming that it was through him, and him only, that their will could be manifest?

The same thing goes for anyone who claims that God speaks to them and reveals his will through them.  If the rest of us are incapable of discerning that will, then could Nixon and good Christian warriors just be bullshitting us?  How would we know that it's the will of the silent majority, or the will of God, if we can't hear them, or if they choose to stay silent?  It seems to me that God and the Silent Majority can say whatever the hell you want them to be saying so long as there's no possible avenue for independent verification.

So that brings me to the actual matter I want to discuss, and that is divinely inspired religious texts, i.e. the Bible and the Quran.

Now, the official teaching for the Quran is that it is the direct dictation of God's word to the prophet Mohammed, and I think just about all Muslims agree with that.  The Bible is a bit different in terms of consensus.  The official teaching of the Catholic Church is that the Bible is indeed the word of God, but that it was divinely inspired.  Explication: God used the individual talents of the many humans who contributed to the bible in order to convey his message, rather than forcing them to write a dictation.  There are some Christians and Jews who believe, however, that it's a direct dictation, and that the word is immutable.

Well I read an article today that talks about how some fairly prestigious bible scholars in Israel have noted that the Bible itself has actually changed over the 2,000+ years it has existed.  We know that the Bible was never compiled as one work until well after the actual content was written.  The Pentateuch, or the Torah if your Jewish, was written long before the books of the Prophets.  The Torah, although traditionally held to be written by Moses himself, was probably written by several different authors who were not contemporaries of each other.

Of course some will reject this idea completely.  Despite the fact that the earliest manuscripts differ from current publications--i.e. there are words that are completely changed for meaning, and entire phrases are left out--some people will still cling to the idea that it's the immutable, unalterable word of God.  What is ironic about that--and irony makes the world taste better--is that most people who levy such a claim are probably reading the modern versions of their holy text, and don't even realize that the word they claim to be unalterable has been altered.

Sure, I believe that the Bible and Quran were divinely inspired, but I also realize that the will of God is not something that humans can fully articulate.  When Mohammed finally had the Quran written down, it had been years after he received the dictation.  So who is to say that what God "dictated" to him through the angel Gabriel hadn't been lost a bit, or retranslated by him?  Who'se to say that he didn't alter it completely to suit what he believed in his own heart?

The same can be said about the Bible.  How do we know for sure that these people actually wrote what they thought God wanted them to write?  Even more cynical, how do we know that any of these people were actually divinely inspired?  Could it be that the authors of the Bible's content, and even Mohammed himself, were completely full of shit?  Could it be that they just thought God spoke to them?  Better yet, could it be that they were just plain lying about God speaking to them?

Again, it all comes down to a matter of faith and a scholarly understanding of whatever religion you buy into.  The authors may have been lying their asses off about their sources of inspiration, but as bad as that might sound, it still wouldn't change anything.  There are universal truths found in these texts, truths that would exist whether or not humanity exists.

It's not comfort, factual veracity, or eschatology that you should be seeking from the religious text of your choosing:  it's Truth.  The good post-modern in me has to remind you, though, that no matter how hard you look for the Truth, you probably still won't find it.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Movie Everyone Should See: "Network"

It's not often that I come across a movie that truly speaks to me, but last night I did.  A good friend of mine who comments on here occasionally recommended that I watch the movie "Network," and holy shit was that a good recommendation.

For those of you who haven't seen it, it was made in 1976 and it's about a failing TV network that finds success in a shit-on news anchor, Howard Beale, who is later dubbed the "Mad Prophet of TV."  Beale rants on his news program about how the world is going to the shitter because people are being dehumanized, devalued, and they're okay with it happening.

I wish that I could do the movie justice by giving it a more in depth analysis and what it means to me, but I can't.  The movie speaks so clearly for itself, that any attempt on my part to deconstruct it for the purpose of extracting meaning would most assuredly be woefully inadequate.

Anyone who cares about humanity, individual liberty, and common decency should watch this movie.  Here's a clip to whet your appetite.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Fucking 101 (FCK-101)

Her class would be completely unproductive.
To my readers and those whose blogs display my article titles, I want to first apologize for such a crass title.  Impulse control, even when I have ample time to correct something that might be a mistake, is not one of my finer qualities.

Soon, New York City schools will require mandatory sex education classes for their older students.  This isn't just a little talk that the school nurse has one day: these classes will be a semester long, and will teach about such things as STDs, proper condom use, and apparently how to rebuff unwanted sexual advances.  I'm no prude or anything, but I've got a bit of a problem with this.

First, shouldn't it be the parents that teach their kids about the birds and the bees?  Don't get me wrong, I am *not* looking foreward to having that discussion with my children when they come of age, but as a parent it's my job to make sure they're flying straight.  I know this notion of "personal responsibility," and being a "responsible parent," might have some flaws to it.  It seems like a lot of parents these days are all too willing to dump their parental responsibilities on outside entities, for what reason is beyond me.

It's also apparent to me that many parents these days are plain retarded.  They give their children too much freedom, and for some reason they expect their kids to just "figure out," the difference between right and wrong, ethical and unethical.  There's this weird movement towards laissez faire parenting, and I definitely think it's not a good thing.

Lewd and counterproductive, but I couldn't resist.
Don't get me wrong; I know that kids need to have some freedom to screw up, or else they'll never learn.  And I know that sometimes no matter how closely you watch them, they'll still get themselves into trouble.  I mean, that's sort of what you're supposed to do:  get in trouble when you're young and when the stakes are low.  That way when you're older, you'll have a much better appreciation for consequences (I'm speaking in generalities, of course).

I don't really remember anything from when I had to go through sex education.  I think I was in 5th grade at the time.  I do, however, remember the whole STD thing in health class in high school, which I do think is a valuable thing to teach kids.

But how many kids these days don't know that unprotected sex can lead to pregnancy by the time they're in high school?  I mean I guess it's possible that they might actually just not know, but it's far more likely that they just don't care or lack impulse control.  And how hard is it to put on a condom?  Isn't that something that we can just sort of assume that someone would be able to figure out pretty easily?

What I don't want out of this, however, is the thought that somehow this is all because of the softening of morality in America.  This has more to do with virtue than anything, and the growing lack of temperance.  This actually reminds me of Brave New World.  *Spoiler Alert* Aldous Huxley's future society was controlled not by totalitarian means, but they were controlled by themselves.  The theory was that if people were allowed to fulfill their every desire, they would no longer experience emotions like jealousy or rage.  it seems counterintuitive, but the people were given the absolute freedom to do as they please, and that ended up keeping them under control.

The lesson from that is that if we indulge in our desires too often, eventually we become slaves to our desires because we lose our ability to control our impulses.  Having no control over your life or your destiny is the very definition of slavery.

So perhaps we need to teach the kids about virtue and the value of temperance more than we need to teach them about how to fuck each other without getting pregnant or the clap.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

It's time for a round of "Good Idea, Bad Idea"

Disclaimer: I got that title from a cartoon show called Animaniacs.  Anyway . . .

Good Idea: Tearing down the Berlin Wall as a symbolic end of 50 years of Communist rule on East Germany.

Bad Idea: Rebuilding part of the Berlin Wall as a tourist attraction.

It was a pretty big deal when the wall fell.  It wasn't really a moment of triumph of West over East, or Capitalism over Communism, but more a triumph of liberty and human decency over the inhumanity of totalitarian government.  Tearing down the wall was symbolic of an end to the old world as we knew it; that world that was mutilated by Stalin and Hitler.

So why in the hell would we want to build that back up again?  This works bad on a couple of levels.  First, it's stupid because it's like we're constantly trying to remind people of the pain and opression that they endured under Soviet rule.  We should never forget history, and we should never try to pretend that something didn't happen just to spare our feelings, but there are ways to remember it that don't involve resurrecting the physical memories of such a painful past.

Seeing the wall torn down and in shambles, for me, would mean so much more than seeing even a portion of it rebuilt.  Destroyed and crumbled is how it should be seen, because the triumph it represents is what's most meaningful.

This is a short post because I'm not entirely sure how fully to articulate all of this except to say that sometimes, destruction can be a monument in itself.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Let's Stop Kidding Ourselves

I know that the "we do it, too," argument pisses Silverfiddle off, but that's okay.  Please remember that whenever I throw one out there like that, I'm not in any way trying to justify the horrors perpetrated by peoples in other societies, nor am I trying to say that we have no right to call them out for their bullshit.

But seriously, lets stop pretending that one culture has some sort of huge moral monopoly over all others.  Britain recently had to get more cops on the streets to stave off all the riots.  People are setting fire to buildings, dumpsters, cars, and they're apparently looting.  But how can such things happen in a Western, Christian culture?

Oh sure, "it's all the Muslims' fault!  They're ruining Britain."  Yes, like the Muslims somehow pushed all these people to get pissed off to the point where they're willing to set fucking fire to shit.  As we know, riots only happen in Muslims countries, and riots are only over religious reasons.  Or at least riots are only bad when they happen for religious reasons in a Muslim country.

We all know that's a crock of horseshit.  The riots in Ireland were over religious reasons, but those riots were in a Western nation between rival factions of Christianity.  Anyone remember Rodney King?  "Oh, but Jack, those were righteous!  It's okay to riot when you're defending freedom and justice!"

But is it really?

Probably not.  Violence is never a good thing.  At times, violence may be a necessary thing, but it's never good, and no one culture has a monopoly on violence.  Add up all the shootings and mass murders perpetrated by Western non-Muslims and I guarantee you that the numbers will make Muslim incidents look like a god damned pleasure cruise.  Sure, some Muslim countries behead people, but how long ago was it that the guillotine was finally banned in France?  Did anyone see that a large number of Britons are now calling for a reinstatement of the death penalty?

There's an awful lot of white people in that crowd . . .

I'm sorry if it seems like I'm ragging on Conservatives a lot lately, but it's well deserved in my opinion.  How can some Conservatives say that they're all about realism and what not, yet they make ridiculous inferences that somehow humans in Western civilization are all above their nature?  Are humans naturally violent?  Under normal conditions, probably not, but how often are humans under "normal conditions"?

We have to face facts sometime: most human beings, regardless of religion, geography, culture, or whatever, can and will be violent when pushed.  Does it really matter what the motive is?  The slaves in Santo Domingo revolted agains their masters.  The things they did were horrifying.  They cut off the genitals of their masters and stuffed them in the mouths of their wives and daughters.  Sure, the slaves had been brutalized for a long time, but does that mean they suddenly had the right to torture people who had virtually nothing to do with their bondage?

Also, I've seen how callous some Christians can be in the past couple of months.  They pretend to follow the teachings and ministry of their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, but they largely ignore just about everything he advocated.  Peace?  Compassion?  Empathy?  Fuck all of that, especially if we're suggesting that we employ such humanity towards people who have a different cultural experience than us.

Oh how the West is so enlightened.

Some Conservatives seem to think that the only people on this planet who deserve anything that even closely resembles human rights are white, conservative Christians.  Despite the fact that Western Civilization has worshipped violence as far back as the Romans (and continues to worship violence to this day), and although Christians have murdered, executed, tortured, and proselytized far more people than the Muslims have in the entirety of human history, somehow we still think we're better than them.

And why?  Because we believe in Constitutional government?  Because we believe in liberty and secular justice?  Well, it's true that those are ideas that are better than their alternatives, but it's not like that gives us license to be inhumane shitheads.  In fact, believing in those things means that we should never, ever be inhumane shitheads, no matter the cost.

Please, continue to flame other cultures for their bullshit, but stop being afraid to flame your own culture, especially when it's the same bullshit.  The reason I shit on our own faults more is because there's almost nothing I can do or say to change the minds of other cultures.  The best I can do is point out our own bullshit and hope against hope that people will wake up and want to change it.

I'm not holding my breath though, so perish any fear that I might asphyxiate.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Why The Dark Knight Rises Will Be Fucking Awesome

When I first heard Heath Ledger died it was before The Dark Knight had even released.  It wouldn't be until I actually saw his performance as The Joker that I would fully grasp the shittiness of that situation.  Knowing that he'd never be able to reprise that epic role, and knowing that director Christopher Nolan had fully intended him to do so, my heart sank that the prospect of Nolan's Batman series continuing on without him.

There are very few details coming out about the plot of The Dark Knight Rises, mostly because the entire cast and crew is sworn to secrecy, but I've got this feeling that the film is going to be a perfect book-end to this three part series.

I admit that when I heard Bane would be the principle villain in the third installment, I wasn't too sure about that decision.  It's not because of his horrible portrayal in the Schumacher production of Batman and Robin, but it was because I just don't find the character all that interesting.  I mean, I can recognize that he is an interesting villain: he takes super steroids that exponentially increase his strength, but he's also supposed to have a genius level intellect.

But then again, I was doubtful when I first heard that Heath Ledger would portray The Joker.  I thought, "the kid from A Knight's Tale and The Patriot?  What the eff?"  Look how wrong I was to doubt.  Christopher Nolan seems to always pick just the right actor for whatever role he needs, and we've seen some stunning results.  I'm not familiar with Tom Hardy's work, but this imagining of Bane will likely be another amazing performance.

With all the high-octane performances in TDK, and with the notion of escalation that runs through this Batman series, we have to logically conclude that TDKR will only ramp up the action and the stakes.  Just by looking at the poster art, we can see that Gotham may actually get torn to pieces.  There have been hints of a prison break, and it might be Bane that leads Gotham's most wanted psychoes on a rampage.  The Joker broke the seal in terms of unleashing chaos and anarchy on the city, and now Gotham is probably reeling from all the havoc.

I'll take Anne Hathaway in skin-tight leather anyday.
I'm a big fan of Nolan's work.  If you've ever seen movies like The Prestige, you know that he's operating on an entirely different level than his contemporaries.  I'm sure we'll get much more exploration into the philosophy behind this little world he's crafted, and I'm positive that it's going to be a wild-ass ride.

Oh yeah, and it doesn't hurt that we get to see Anne Hathaway in a skin-tight, black leather get-up as Catwoman.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Dumbass Idea of the Week

A strange, orange substance washes up on the shore of a beach in Alaska.  Scientists didn't immediately know what it was, and they had to call in some algae experts to figure out just WTF was going on.  Apparently, it emits some kind of weird smell as well.  The end of the article reads:

Pictures taken by resident Mida Swan show an orange sheen across the harbor and on beaches in the village about 625 miles northwest of Anchorage.

Swan says she didn't smell anything odd when she dipped her hand into the substance.
Wat?  Dipped her hand into the substance?  Why in the holy horseshit would your first reaction be to stick your hand in some strange orange goo?  Nothing happened to her, but still, wouldn't it be a prudent move to just keep your hand out of the shit?

I guess no one ever accused Alaska of being full of scholars.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Since I don't feel like writing anything today . . .

. . . I'll leave you all with a youtube clip of one of my favorite movies, The Big Lebowski.  This is one of the best scenes.  Thank you John Turturo.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

5 Things I've Noticed After 20,000 Page Hits

I've been thinking a lot lately . . .
First off:  Fuck S&P right in the goat ass.  Secondly, I've now had over 20,000 page hits since I started back in late March.  I'm not sure if that's good or not, but I'm pretty pleased with myself.  Now that I got that off my chest, there have been some trends that I've noticed on the blogosphere in the past couple of months, and I think they're rather interesting.  So in the words of The Joker, "Here  . . . we  . . . GO."

5.  Strikethrough seems to be going away:  a few months ago I did a top 15 list of things that needed to go away, and strikethrough made the top 5.  One of my fellow bloggers was baffled that it somehow beat Obama for the top 5, but in my mind it was fairly justified.  I tried to be as delicate about it as I could, because even some people that I considered to be good writers/bloggers used it.  Well, lo and behold ever since I derided its use, it seems like it's being used a lot less now.

Maybe it's just a coincidence.  I mean, why would anyone give a shit about what Jack Camwell has to say about their writing style?  That especially rings true when you consider the fact that I use "adult" language here at CFGM.  But I'm going to take the low-road of vanity on this one, and chalk it up to me holding everyone else accountable.  I'm glad that it seems to be going by the wayside, because there are many better ways to sarcastically express our disdain for current events.

4.  Venom:  Speaking of adult language, I've been noticing other blogs using it a lot more lately.  In a recent article about Argentina, Karen Howes over at Eastern Right referred to Evita Peron as a whore.  She also has dropped more F-bombs than usual lately.  I've only been a reader of hers for a short time now, so perhaps she's always been that way.  I've also noticed it a little bit over at Capital Commentary and Western Hero.

Again, I've only been reading these blogs for a few months, but in the past several weeks I've noticed an uptick in foul language.  That's not to denigrate anything they're doing.  All three blogs bring excellent perspectives to the table, and they often offer a point of view that I haven't considered before.  I won't attribute this to myself, as it's probably more likely that they're just getting increasingly frustrated with everything that's going on.  I guess that's what happens when you get old . . .  BOOMSHAKALAKA*

I found this when I searched "strikethrough."
3.  "Compassionate" Christians:  Man, there's a lot of Christians out there who make a big stink about being Christians, yet when the chips are down they're pretty quick to give a big middle finger to people in need.  One blogger actually said that people who "allow" themselves to be ruled by totalitarians deserve to be ruled that way, and some people say that we should tell illegal immigrant children to fuck off on k-12 education.  Also, there's a big "what's mine is mine, and no one can force me to be charitable" attitude.  What's funny about that is no one should have to force you to be charitable if you're a God-fearing Christian.  What do I know . . . I'm just a Catholic.

2.  Reasoned Debate (for the most part):  Whenever someone disagrees with me, rarely do they insinuate that I am ignorant, retarded, or whatever.  Ted over at Country Thinker wrote a big ol' rebuttal to my free market article the other day, and he couldn't help but apologize profusely to assure me that he wasn't being acerbic or anything.  Of course, there was no apology necessary.  Ted is an intelligent guy that always offers reasoned, logical debate, and I love it.

1.  Weekly installments:  Harrison has been doing his blogger interviews, Silverfiddle seems to be starting to feature quotes from his commenters, Karen posts some sort of musical number on Sundays, and Ted (although he's had weekly things for a while now) is starting some new weekly quote thingy.

And a random Epic Fail for your enjoyment.
I've got my Dumbass Idea of the Week, but I don't think that's enough.  One of the neat things that blogger does is it shows us the search terms that are used in google to find our sites.  Because I say "fuck" and "shit" a lot, I get some pretty wild fucking search terms.  So every week, I'll post some of the search terms used to find Christian Fearing God-Man.  Some of them are funny as hell, other disturbing.

So here's the winner for this week:  "casey anthony hot"  Take that however you will.

Anywho, thanks to all of my readers, Liberal and Conservative alike.  I'm appreciative for all those who enjoy CFGM and what I'm trying to accomplish.  Have an excellent Saturday afternoon!

*I love you guys, but since I'm like half your age I just couldn't help myself =D

Friday, August 5, 2011

How Totalitarianism Works

When we study totalitarian regimes, we always seem to ask ourselves "how were they able to sustain such horrors for so long without the people rising up against them?"  We look at our own nation's birth, and we marvel at how a rag-tag militia outlasted the greatest military force on the planet at the time, and we did it under conditions that were far less opressive than any totalitarian regime we've seen.

If you know nothing about totalitarian regimes and how they work, then the only logical explanation is that the people who don't rise up against their opressors must support the regime.  As I mentioned, that's only logical if you know little to nothing about how these regimes operate.*

How was Hitler able to do what he did with little fear of reprisal?  How did Stalin stay in power for so long despite his barbaric behavior?  Why didn't the Iraqis just rise up and kill Saddam if they were so unhappy with his regime?  The short answer is fear.  The long answer is far more horrifying.

The 20th Century philosopher Hannah Arendt wrote a fairly definitive piece on totalitarianism aptly titled The History of Totalitarianism.  In part three of the series, she actually analyzes the regimes of her time, including the one that she fled (Nazi Germany).  There is one persistent theme that permeates all the totalitarians of the 20th Century, and that theme is horror: unmitigated, illogical, random, senseless horror.  Totalitarian regimes last so long because they successfully create an unyeilding sense of hopelessness in the people.

Not a totalitarian
A very interesting point that Arendt spends some time on is the fact that totalitarians try to destroy the people's sense of humanity.  They put people in horrific work camps, and they even make death meaningless.  Think you're going to be a martyr for the cause of freedom?  Think again, because there are no martyrs in a totalitarian society.  As Arendt said, they even destroy the meaning of death.  If you commit suicide, or if you rebel against the regime to the point that they have to execute you, they promise you that your family will pay for your transgressions.

Not a lot of people know this, but Saddam Hussein personally sanctioned rape as a tool to be used to get dissidents to capitulate.  Some of you might say "I'd be willing to endure that for liberty!"  But would you be willing to doom your family to that fate?  Saddam's goons wouldn't just rape you, they'd arrest and rape your entire family in front of you.  They would round up anyone that was even remotely related to you: cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, your spouse and your children.

That's also how the Nazis operated.  Jews in concentration camps knew that should they commit suicide or try to escape, the SS would torture their families.  And who in a totalitarian society would even hear about your death?  How can you be a martyr if no one even knows that you died for a cause you believed in?  Executions are only public for high profile figures, and that's to show that no one has a power greater than the regime.  For everyone else, they get the silent treatment.  They disappear into thin air, and it's as if they never existed.

So riddle me this: if you knew that partaking in some sort of resistance would almost inevitably doom your family to a horrifying fate, would you still rebel?  To suggest that totalitarian regimes exist in the Middle East because the people actually support them is a ridiculous claim at best.  The people may be uneducated and brainwashed, but they all know the price for dissent.

Totalitarian government is not just about who has the most guns.  It's about how much humanity you can strip from the people.  It's about how much fear you can instill in their hearts.  Mbarak fell because his regime, although despotic, was not totalitarian.  If Ghadaffi falls, it will be because the rebels had help from NATO.

Let's not equate acquiescence for complicity, shall we?

*Although I am by no means an expert on totalitarianism, a good portion of my scholarship in college was spent studying totalitarian regimes and how they are born from democratic societies.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Give Free Markets a Try?

Someone commented on one of my articles that it's time we "give free markets and personal liberty a try."  I guess my history lesson on the Gilded Age was not enough.

America has had a free market system since its inception, and to say that it is not a free market is pretty ridiculous in my humble economic opinion.  If you want the market to be freer than it already is, then I urge anyone with that notion to please do a little bit of research on the living conditions of the average American during the Gilded Age.

I read this article today that sort of bothered me.  It's about the perks that some CEOs were receiving even as the economy lay in shambles with over 8% unemployment.

Look, I'm not a god damned Communist, Socialist, Marxist or whatever.  I don't believe in wealth distribution, or a market that is strictly controlled by the government.  But I also know that all humans, whether they work for a private company or for the government, are susceptible to greed.

How can we say that the markets need to be freer when part of the reason we're in this mess is because of underregulation?  Who here can honestly tell me that repealing Glass-Steagall was a good idea?  We've seen what humans do to their fellow man when there isn't at least some regulation placed upon them.  No one argues that the Gilded Age was not an age of exploitation, so why do we want to return to that?

What kills me is that people on both sides of the argument seem to place way too much confidence in the benevolence of which ever group they're trying to stroke.  It's pretty ridiculous to assume that if given the chance private corporations would not screw over whoever they wanted in order to make more money.  Why?  Because the people at the top are fucking loaded and all they want is to be more loaded.

It's equally as ridiculous to assume that people in government don't enjoy the power that they have, and if they're not actively seeking to actually increase that power, they are at least always working to maintain whatever power they have.  Money and power are the two things that have the potential to corrupt even the kindest of heart and purest of soul.

I'm a via media (middle way) type of guy.  I understand that humans need to be as free as possible, but I also understand that too much freedom leads to injustice and ultimately less freedom.  So can we please stop acting like the solution to all of our ails is to adopt an extreme?  That is a request I pose to people on both sides of the aisle.  I think history is on my side in such a request.