Friday, August 31, 2012

Political Debate over Facts vs. Belief

If you hold beliefs opposite of me, or think a policy is good and I think it's bad, then I am more than willing to engage in a debate of ideas with you. However, a debate of ideas is based on fact. For instance, if you think we should have school vouchers because it gives poor kids a chance of an excellent education and I don't because I think all our money and efforts should be poured into making our public schools the best in the world. That is a debate of ideas. And I will gladly spend hours on that. And even though I'll think you're wrong, I will be willing to debate your ideas because you present an argument based on facts.
Here's what is not a debate- when your argument is based solely on your beliefs, often in direct opposition to facts. For instance:
  1. If you believe gays are evil and therefore shouldn't have the exact same civil rights as everyone else or are somehow part of a conspiracy to bring down our civilization.
  2. If you think evolution is some sort of conspiracy theory. Bonus points for idiocy if you believe dinosaurs are tricks placed in the ground by the Devil because the world is only 6,000 years old.
  3. If you believe that Christian morality should become law. If it were any other religion stating that they were going to make their religion the law of the land (say, I don't know, Islam) you would throw a frakking fit. The United States of America is not a Christian nation- "AMERICA IS NOT, IN ANY SENSE, FOUNDED ON THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION." The Treaty of Tripoli, 1797 - Signed Unanimously by Congress and President Adams.
  4. If you believe abortion should be illegal. It's perfectly fine for you to think it's immoral. However, you have no right to impose your religious/moral views on me (see above point). If you're so worried about lowering the number of abortions then raise better Christians. You have control over that- not my body.
  5. If you believe that rape is ever because she asked for, dressed cheaply, or otherwise indicated it was something she wanted.
  6. If you believe funding the arts somehow weakens our civilization instead of raising it up.
  7. If you think climate change is made up.
And here's the problem when it comes down to Republican vs. Democrats. Too many highly visible Republicans are arguing the above. Don't believe me? Well, let's go down the above list:
  1. It isn’t that some gay will get some rights. It’s that everyone else in our state will lose rights. For instance, parents will lose the right to protect and direct the upbringing of their children. Because our K-12 public school system, of which ninety per cent of all youth are in the public school system, they will be required to learn that homosexuality is normal, equal and perhaps you should try it. And that will occur immediately, that all schools will begin teaching homosexuality.” ~ Michele Bachmann (New Civil Rights Movement)
  2. "I think there is a theory, a theory of evolution, and I don't accept it. ... The creator that I know created us, each and every one of us and created the universe, and the precise time and manner. ... I just don't think we're at the point where anybody has absolute proof on either side." Ron Paul Remarks made at a state Republican Party meeting in Spartanburg, S.C., Nov. 1, 2007
  3. "Yes, religion and politics do mix. America is a nation based on biblical principles. Christian values dominate our government. The test of those values is the Bible. Politicians who do not use the bible to guide their public and private lives do not belong in office." ---Beverly LaHaye (Concerned Women for America) and "I don't know that atheists should be considered citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God." --- George Bush Senior
  4. Since 1992, the official Republican platform opposed abortion even in the cases of rape, incest and severe risk to the life of the mother.  
  5. “A jury could very well conclude that this is a case of buyer’s remorse … It appears to me … you invited him over… the appearance is of consent.” - Ken Buck October 2010 
  6. “Public Broadcasting is a sandbox for the rich. The NEA and the HEH are simply enclaves of the left using your money to propagandize your children against your values.” -- Newt Gingrich
  7. "I believe the earth gets warmer and I also believe the earth gets cooler. And I think history points out that it does that and that the idea that man, through the production of CO2 — which is a trace gas in the atmosphere, and the man-made part of that trace gas is itself a trace gas — is somehow responsible for climate change is, I think, just patently absurd when you consider all the other factors, El Niño, La Niña, sunspots, moisture in the air. ... To me, this is an opportunity for the left to create — it's really a beautifully concocted scheme because they know that the earth is gonna cool and warm." --- Rick Santorum The Rush Limbaugh Show, June 8, 2011

  • As happens every election season, the debate of ideas seems to be drowned out by the screaming "believers". In a world where public shootings are getting worse not better; where people are dying due to issues with healthcare; where veterans are returning to few, if any options; where getting an education is no longer a guarantee of a better life; there seems as though there is a huge need for a public debate on these issues. And yet, these issues are being ignored in favor of sound bites from crazy people who are screaming their beliefs, and passing them off as facts to the American public.
  • Unfortunately, the quotes above represent the public face of the Republican Party. So if you wonder why intelligent, reasoning people lump together ALL Republicans with the crazies above, it may be because they are the only ones we're hearing from.
  •  Regardless of your own political views, I encourage you this election season to engage in a debate of ideas instead of a screaming match of beliefs.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Chick-Fil-A, Facebook posts, and staying silent about hate in order to be polite

The internet has been abuzz lately with news about Chik-Fil-A and their anti-gay stance. Everyone has an opinion, and well they should. Everyone should have strong opinions based on their beliefs, and should be proud of standing by them. There's been a lot of talk about how the people supporting Chick-Fil-A have rights under "free speech" to state their beliefs.
And they do- but so does everyone else. So do I. Just because you are entitled to free speech doesn't mean you're right, or just, or smart, or not a prejudiced bastard.
I was extremely proud when I saw the statement below, not just because they took a stance, but because this company influences children, and our best hope for a better world rests in new generations NOT having beliefs based on hate.
While these people have the right to say anything they want, I have some severe issues with the rhetoric being used by people online. One person's statement said that liberals were hypocrites because they claimed to be all inclusive, and then boycotted Chick-Fil-A for standing up for their beliefs. That argument doesn't even make any sense. By this logic, anyone who opposed apartheid was a hypocrite for boycotting South Africa- boycotts that were largely responsible for apartheid not being around anymore. 
I also have a serious issue with people who only follow the parts of the Bible that they like (hello- Leviticus?) and don't seem to take the Bible in any sort of context. I am a screaming liberal- so by this post, I am a hypocrite. Someone I've known for a long time posted this on their Facebook. And then said anyone disagreeing with them need not post a comment, just unfriend if anyone disagreed. So I did. Because the statement is hate speech. And ignorant.
I have a hard time understanding why I'm a hypocrite when I stand up for my beliefs, but you're a saint for standing up for yours.
Here's another example of the ridiculous tripe floating around the internet:

"The recent attacks on Dan Cathy and Chick-Fil-A over Cathy’s support of “the biblical definition of the family unit” show, once again, that leftwing elites who support a radical homosexual agenda are nothing more than hypocrites and bullies.  As I have followed the developing controversy, I have noticed a tone of desperation in the over-the-top attacks on the Chick-Fil-A organization.  It is as if radical homosexual organizations fear that the pro-family, pro-Christian values of one of America’s fastest growing restaurant chains will, once again, take hold in an America that has forgotten these values."

So I'm a hypocrite and a bully? And did I miss the memo that states how guaranteeing civil rights such as marriage, and equal protection under the law somehow constitutes a "radical homosexual agenda"? If believing that every American citizen is entitled to the same rights as every one else equals a "radical homosexual agenda" then by all means, sign me up.

I know some people are just refusing to engage in political discussions on their Facebook or Twitter. They delete the insane email forwards that insist President Obama is a fundamentalist Muslim with an agenda. But through all of this, one phrase keeps floating through my mind-
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
While  some may believe that they're not making waves, or not upsetting Aunt Sally, or not trying to change a generational viewpoint, it's much simpler than that. You are supporting hate. If you do not agree with people who are racist and prejudiced, then you need to speak up. Otherwise, you are just as guilty as they are. No friend, no family member is so high and mighty that they are worth you giving up your beliefs.
So yes, I will continue to stand up for my beliefs- I believe that EVERY one is entitled to their civil rights and equal protection under the law. I will continue to believe that hate and prejudice is wrong, and that people that hold these beliefs under the ridiculous protection of their religion are still prejudiced. I also happen to think you're ignorant, but that's another matter.
I have lost people as friends because of my beliefs, but I'm okay with that. Because if you think that hating people for who they are is right and just, then I don't want you as my friend anyway.

So the next time you read something you think is wrong, and you think "I'll just let it slide", take a moment and think about what the repercussions of doing that are- because I don't think manners should take precedence over beliefs. Think of where the world would be if we didn't stand up for women's rights, or civil rights, or against apartheid or racism because we didn't want to upset anyone. It is always the little, consistent habits that speak much louder than any one large action. 

If we want the world to be a better place, the least we can do is stand up and say so.