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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What CAN You Do Today? How The Terrible Case of Cece McDonald Can Change The Way We Think

What would you do if it happened to you? What if you were out for a walk with friends and wound up fighting for your life in a jail cell? You're a good person with a good life, but it still could happen to you. And what on earth would you do? How would you feel if it happened to you?

On June 4th of this year CeCe Mcdonald was a pretty, 23 year old college student. She took care of some other young people, had fun with friends, and was making the most of her working-class, African-American upbringing that wasn't always kind to her as she had been born biologically male. Still, in the eyes of her friends and the Minneapolis youth crowd, she was an awesome example of hard work done right.

However, it's when we cue to the next day that her life truly changed  forever. CeCe was walking with some of her mates to score some food when they walked past a bar. Three white folks began using racial epithets, as well as homophobic and transphobic slurs, many of which I would feel incredibly uncomfortable even typing. One even involved a reference to rape, one of humanity's most heinous of crimes. It was then when one of the folks then broke a glass of liquor on Mcdonald's face, resulting in a complete-thickness cheek laceration which went so far as to damage her salivary glands, among other injuries.

More people joined in, resulting in a dangerous brawl, in which Mr. Dean Schmitz, 47, died from a stab wound. It was stated in witness reports that he had began the verbal barrage and, along with his friends, caused the initial assault and that it's not certain who caused the fatal blow to Dean Schmitz.

CeCe Mcdonald was arrested the same night on a most serious charge of Murder in the Second Degree.  Initially, Ms. Mcdonald claimed to an interrogator that Schmitz lunged into her scissors, but has since said in a letter that someone else must have done the stabbing. Ms Mcdonald has since additionally stated that the liquor within the weapon was of a strong enough concentration to seriously alter her vision and that she was incapacitated by the blow to the head and doesn't know what actually occurred.  Despite the fact that a knife was also recovered from the scene, nobody else has been charged in connection with the death.

She was held on a hefty bond for months in solitary confinement and denied medical treatment for what, after 2 months of no intervention, had become a massive facial abscess. She spent some time in a men's criminal psych unit to be returned to solitary and has been returned only recently to the psych unit for her safety.

As it stands right now, she's reasonably safe, yet still in a psychiatric cell in a men's jail on $75, 000 bail and her trial date is January 9th of next year. The judge who lowered her bail a few days back deems her to not be a threat to anyone, yet she lingers, enduring harassment and intense isolation. Still, she keeps her head up for the time being, knowing that her kids are indeed paying attention. The media has portrayed this fine lady as a man, the courts have done so, and even the prison has. And in my humble opinion, it ain't a game, it's a crying shame.

I cannot even claim to know what it is like to a transgender African-American woman living in Bachmann's Minnesota. While I know that every time I step outside, I could be taken out, it's vastly more terrifying to be CeCe Mcdonald or anyone like her. In recent years, up to half of all murders of American LGBT people have been of transgender women. Throw in the obvious racism and initial physical attack and you have a situation in which Ms. Mcdonald had reason to believe her life was in danger.  If she stabbed him by accident, or if she did  in self-defense, or a friend did, or even a bystander did it, it doesn't warrant a hold for second-degree murder, and certainly not for CeCe Mcdonald.

The fact of the matter is that neither African-American, nor the gender-nonconforming are treated with fairness in the American legal system. Whether it comes to policing, incarceration, or prosecution, transfolk and people of colour are not treated the same as a middle-aged white fellow. We know these things.

CeCe Mcdonald was making a difference in her community, and was looked to to lead young people, and as she hopes for release, still inspires others. There are bigots and she knows it, and on June 5, she was physically attacked by such people, and one of the assailants wound up dead. It's a tragedy that anyone should have perished, and CeCe Mcdonald is highly aware of this, but the thing is, nobody knows who killed Dean Schmitz or even how. The State's case is all resting on DNA evidence that won't even be processed until at least December.

In this case, we are not simply speaking of evidenciary burden, but the conditions to which Ms. Mcdonald continues to be subjected to. Every human being deserves to be treated with dignity prior to and during trial. To begin with, trans women should not be housed in facilities designed for macho men. Some states have special yards for trans and/or gay folks or house them with women, which alleviates the some of the fear associated with detention. Either of these would be appropriate, and accepted by Ms Mcdonald, but all she's received is solitude and medical care that would make the guys at Gitmo bitch.

I have no idea why the entire LGBT community isn't losing their minds over a the plight of a bright young American citizen such as CeCe. I'm absolutely perplexed by the overall lack of media attention this is getting, and as much as I am sometimes bemused by the causes the major activist groups take on, I thought this would be one of them. In reality, all she's got are a Wordpress site and a hundred or so Minnesota college kids. That's right- no ACLU, no Advocate, nor screaming Jane Velez-Mitchell. Just a surprising and creepy quiet when it comes to the plight of CeCe Mcdonald, save for a few intensely transphobic blog posts.

 I hold no doubt in my mind that CeCe Mcdonald will eventually see justice. Either the case will be dropped for lack of evidence or she'll get her day in court in front of a judge and jury that are hopefully not as blind as the overzealous police and prosecutors. Hopefully they'll see a scared young lady and her friends who were fighting for their lives after being attacked on a summer night in South Minneapolis; they'll see someone who didn't choose to be involved with bigots; a human being in search of a snack and who wound up in solitary.  If they don't, they'll see a white man killed by what Dean Schmitz called a freaky 'nigger' and 'faggot' and she'll get 15 to life upstate.

Gentle readers, I do encourage you to further research CeCe's case, and if you'd like to support her, you can drop her a line HERE. Please keep in mind that her facility does not accept parcels. Just put 60 cents on an envelope containing some posi-thoughts to give one misunderstood human hope for a new and brighter day.

On what Ms. Mcdonald would call a most serious note, she was also supporting 4 youths who have since become displaced and they do need toiletries as well as larger items like beds. If you can help these kids, email HERE for more information. If you'd like to skip the fuss and provide a cash donation to help the kids, secure a bondsman, help with legal costs or medical expenses, you can wander over to Paypal and donate.

Empathy should be a part of the human experience, and just as CeCe Mcdonald has given support to so many young people, we should offer her a hand up in her time of need. Even if one cannot afford a monetary donation to every person who suffers from undue harassment or even incarceration, you can assist in reducing the problem by not engaging in bias against those you encounter.  CeCe Mcdonald never set out to cause an issue, nor would ever wish death upon the most jaded; for when one is still alive, they can still be redeemed.

When we treat those we do not know, or may not even understand, with the same degree of respect that we would a neighbour, we epitomize humanity at its finest. It is within us that the human condition does not have to become a disfiguring disease.

"Everybody should just be treated like human beings, no matter who they are." : Chrishaun "CeCe" Mcdonald

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Quote Of The Day

Those who know me, know I'm a fan of dogs. Big, small, mutts, purebreeds- I love them. However, a special place in me is reserved for tough but misunderstood pooch love.

To find out more about the amazing pit bull, check out these fine sites.

Hug A Bull  My favourite rescue group, which can also be found on Twitter

The Working Pit Bull 

Pit Bull Rescue Central of North America

National Canine Research Council

Law Dogs USA

Sign Of The Times

In the heated debate known as church versus state, opinions can go to extremes.

With absolutists on one end telling everyone that they're surely going to hell and those on the other certain that religious nuts are going to cause hell on Earth, sometimes it's nice to see something that simply conveys succinctly what most of us really do think.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Facebook-Related Post Of The Week

For those of you who are freezing your balls off on Neptune, Facebook is a social network. You may not have an account, but you absolutely know someone who does.

The internet is awesome. I preferred the old MySpace layout (before it got all fucked up with too many Zynga apps), but Facebook is okay too. I don't use it often, but when I do, I often see people posting laughable rumours such as these generally grammatically-poor pleas :


Here's the thing, kids- even if Facebook were to shift to a pay-for-play format, a screen would ask you for money like they did with the $237 you spent on Farmville. There is no law stating that you must have a Facebook account- your boss might even prefer if you didn't have an account, so his wife couldn't see him drinking shots of a stripper at the Super Bowl party. If Zuckerberg takes the money and runs and they want to charge you for their services, you can do your own thing. No social network is vital for human survival.

However, Facebook pledges to be free, so your aunt can continue posting pictures of you when you were an awkward teenager. The story is fake so please Google something before you copy and paste it. There are viruses being spread this way.

Now here's the other type we're going to discuss today. It is the internet bedbug that nourishes itself on your sense of empathy:

15 year old girl holds hands with her 1 year old son. People call her a "slut", no one knows she was raped at age 14. People call another guy "fat", no one knows he has a serious disease causing him to be overweight. People call an old man "ugly", no one knows he experienced a serious injury to his face while fighting for our country in the war. Re-post this if you are against bullying and stereotyping. I bet 88 of you won't,the other 22 arent heartless and will.
Hi, my name is Amy Bruce. I am 7 years old, and I have severe lung cancer . I also have a large tumor in my brain, from repeated beatings. Doctors say I will die soon if this isn't fixed, and my family can't pay the bills. The Make A Wish Foundation, has agreed to donate 7 cents for every time this message is sent on. For those of you who send this along, I thank you so much, but for those who don't send it, what goes around comes around. Have a Heart. Put this as your status.

The first problem with this one is mathematical. 22 fewer than 100 is 78, not 88. While there is a theoretical possibility that the "girl" was using a fraction of 88/110, it just isn't likely. Next, children are not exactly susceptible to lung cancer- asbestos and cement workers, firefighters, pavers, and roofers, sure, but not 7 year olds. Additionally, brain cancer is not caused by being beaten. It is an insult to the thousands of children with traumatic brain injuries and suffering from all other types of abuse to perpetuate this fallacy.

However, the most grotesque slam is to the Make A Wish Foundation, one I personally dig. The amazing staff help kids enjoy what may very well be the last awesome moments in their too-short lives. And they're not the only ones who care. Between Medicaid, a request from Make-A-Wish and plain awesome humanity, most children are given medical intervention in America. Moreover, neither Make-A-Wish or Facebook would participate in a scheme where a girl's wellbeing was held hostage in exchange for promotion. Not only are you doing a disservice to other people in exchange for the chance to post some complete farce, you are potentially libeling Make-A-Wish. Think about that for a second.

Facebook can be fun, but please think before you automatically repost everything you see but not read. One day, you could accidentally post that the head of the company you work for is a jackass or that you want to kill all Latinos. It probably won't be that extreme. Mainly, you'll just look stupid, particularly when you don't put apostrophes where they are supposed to be. And the ramifications will be your fault because you didn't pay attention before cosigning something seen by a billion people.

Spreading false stories are internet cancer. And unlike the thousands of real-life Amys out there, we actually have the cure.

Your Monday Bullshit- The Unfriendly Skies Edition

 In a ridiculous case of Monday morning bullshit, mighty fine actress and musician Leisha Hailey and her paramour were kicked off a flight because they voiced their disapproval with being discriminated against on a Southwest Airlines flight.

  On the flight, the attendant noticed the gay couple showing some sort of affection and they were warned not to kiss because, of all things, Southwest is a family airline. You see, in the FA's myopic viewpoint, gay families aren't the real deal. Naturally, Ms. Hailey didn't take the blatant bigotry sitting down, and voiced her displeasure, which was apparently caught on camera. (I don't have the video, kids. sorry.) It was then when they were forced off the plane, just as Southwest had done with film director Kevin Smith when they determined him to be too fat to fly.

  On Southwest's website, they claim to be the go-to airline for gay-friendly travel, proudly stating that they are the official airline of GLAAD, the Gay-Straight Alliance Network, and the Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. Nowhere on the site did I find anything that states that Southwest kicks queers to the back of the plane.

  While I'm aware that there are 3 sides to every story, it is still a surprise in today's enlightened day to think that an airline that makes so much bank off of the gay community would endorse an attack on any group, let alone this one. Besides, who knows how many average, taxpaying families their staff have put through hell before they nailed someone well-known enough to have a voice?

  I, for one, won't be flying Southwest's unfriendly skies. I also think that GLAAD and other gay groups should no longer endorse Southwest. While I understand that Southwest is paying all of these groups, it's not worth selling an organization's integrity down the shitter for some free flights and ad revenue. The question now is if GLAAD has the balls to stick it to Southwest.

 The honchos at Southwest are probably wishing they bought Maytag because they're going to need approximately 34289365 spin cycles to wash this stain out.

  By the way Southwest- your planes are hideous. If you were friendlier to gays, maybe one would offer you a proper colour scheme.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Yummy Treat: The Kitchen's On Fire Edition

Stoners and others, feast your eyes upon these. What I thought was a packet of toaster pastries was in fact a box of six individually packaged 'chicken' cutlets that you heat in your home toaster. A lady upstairs says they're wonderful, but she heats them in her George Foreman grill. Personally, I'm incredulous as to why these even exist.

Has anyone really thought this through? Although I realize the mechanically-separated chicken pucks are precooked, but they're still a frankendelicatessen item. How are you supposed to make sure you don't get Salmonella every time you use your toaster to defrost a bagel after you've used it for chicken ? It's chicken. And it's factory-farmed chicken. It either has salmonella or has been cleaned with ammonia. (or both) It's the shit your mum always told you to clean your hands after handling.

Anywho, you're taking scary mechanically-separated, genetically-modified, factory farmed animal fragments and sticking them in an appliance not suited to the purpose because you're too lazy to cook. And it sounds motherfucking gross. You can't disinfect a toaster without electrocution, or at least a very large autoclave.

Seriously, kids- is this what we have come to? This 'Chicken Krispy Toast' doesn't even resemble the animal which gave it's life for your fat kid to 'cook' in a toaster. The poor, dead creature doesn't even get the dignity of being waited for while safely cooking in the oven for 45 minutes.

This post began as something tongue-in-cheek, but there are obviously some serious things to consider when we even have a market for shit like this. We can't go blaming America here- Olymel is one of many Canadian companies who make millions annually selling us sodium-laden meat subsidiaries because they know that many people like their food to not have a face, or leg, or muscle structure really.

When you divorce yourself food at its fundamental forms- whether it's meat, or dairy, or fish- your body will stop recognizing it as food. And we're wondering why our kids are smellier, bitchier, and fatter than we were. Look at what the fuck we're feeding them! I'm not a nanny-stater by any means, but I am into people being permitted to be aware. Corporations will only sell what sells. It's simple- if customers wants something different, companies will adapt to suit. It's why the mustard they sell in New York is different from that sold in the midwest.

What we're talking here, though, is about a little more than the balance of spices. We're talking about what we ingest as a power supply for our personal powerplants. Oil messes shit up- it clogs your arteries, gives you kidney stones and does a host of weird things to your intestines. It doesn't build you up like protein, it doesn't give you the immune awesomeness that fruits and veg do, it doesn't give you the energy to run a few miles like carbs do. Oil's gross and it's present in life-altering amounts in most processed foods. This stuff has 12 grams of fat per single little slice, but it's far from the worst offender.

With this specific product, it boils down to the absolute absurdity of the concept. (****insert Showman voice***) "Yes folks, if horribly abused chicken dunked in bread crumbs made from pesticide-laden wheat and 4 other modified starches cooked in genetically-modified oil from a made-made species didn't sound disgusting enough, now we're going to tell you to cook it in a Chinese-made, possibly electrically iffy but certainly unsterile toaster."  It sounds ridiculous because it is. 

Today's Soylent Feed isn't made of people, but it's made by people, to consume and be consumed by other people.  It's crap but it seems all modern and convenient, so we'll try it just this one time, and we'll try the next brand that comes along just once until we become too lazy and useless to know any better. We have no business eating things that are determined to eat us from the inside out, but we all have the freedom to do so, and if you want to eat it, I won't stop you.

However, if one of you guys catches your kitchen on fire trying to cook chicken in a toaster I will fucking laugh.

the End.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Harper Government: What's In a Name

In an interview with CBC News, to be broadcast tomorrow night, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper asserted that 'Islamicism' is the biggest threat to Canada. While the P.M. believes that foreign Muslims are a threat, he also believes that homegrown Muslim radicals are something the government keeps an eye on.

The conversation with award-winning journalist Peter Mansbridge details Canada's international security situation, and while Harper states fully that Canada is more secure than it was prior to September 11, 2001, he still wants to bring back so-called anti-terrorism clauses that were in force between 2001 and 2007. The main clauses that were points of contention are:

  • One which allowed police to arrest suspects without a warrant and detain them for three days without charges if police believed a terrorist act may have been committed.
  • A second, which allowed a judge to compel a witness to testify in secret about past associations or perhaps pending acts under penalty of going to jail if the witness didn't comply.

While it should be noted that nobody from my knowledge was arrested under these codes, it is worth noting that, as the politics down south become a deep red, Mr. Harper's ambitions continue to become more grand. also, now he doesn't have a minority government like the one which he held when the laws were repealed by a unified vote of three other major parties.

But here's the thing-the average Canadian Muslim really wants nothing to do with Jihadis. He or she probably has average kids who go to average schools and hang out with other average Canadian kids. Muslims generally come to Canada to escape extremism. They may go to the mosque every week or once a year. They might buy halal beef from Alberta or snack at McDonald's. The mere suggestion that Muslims should have separate family courts was quashed by Muslims themselves, as the vast majority of Canadian Muslims want absolutely nothing to do with anything that might even appear to be preferential treatment, let alone Sharia Law.

However, the Prime Minister is banking on getting white Canada to eat up his fear by the bowlful so he can enact draconian laws to enable him to spy on and detain citizens without just cause. Under these laws, anyone really could be detains, but the likely targets would be Muslims and others with 'suspicious' complexions and/or associations. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms declares that all Canadians are to be treated equal regardless of race, creed, or religion. It too declares that Canadians shall have Freedom of Association and Movement. Unfortunately, we also have the Notwithstanding Clause, which gives the powers that be the right to ignore the Charter whenever it sees fit.

The more I think about it, the more Stephen Harper sounds like a Teabagger. Add in his alleged insistence on the Conservative Government be termed the Harper Government, his mishandling of those ridiculous G conferences, ridiculous security spending with matching tax cuts for corporations, and social program cutbacks and he sounds spot-on.

What it boils down to is fundamentalism. There are fundie Muslims and there are Evangelical Christians, like a fair chunk of the Harper Government. There are extreme Sikhs and hippielike ones. But, most members of most faiths are average taxpayers, free of sinister agendas. To be honest, we should be glad that there are fewer crazy Muslims than crazy Christians; the Muslims don't even have a political party and the Christians have several.

Stephen Harper is leaning further to the right because he figures that he'll have an ally come 2012, but if Americans look up and see what mayhem ultraconservatism can do to a profitable nation, one of the world's great nations, they'll see the Harper Government of Canada.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Educated Guess

Michele Bachmann does indeed tow the Tea Party line, waving the Constitution in the air whilst demanding adherence to antiquated religious models. On Monday, she addressed Jim DeMint's forum, specifically attacking the Department of Education, with this statement:

"The Constitution does not specifically enumerate nor does it give to the federal government the role and duty to superintend over education," Bachmann said. "That historically has been held by the parents and by local communities and by state government. To put that into the federal government as we saw a Department of Education in the late 1970s has eviscerated the constitutional understanding that the control of education truly lies with the parents."

  Mrs. Bachmann has experience with educational authorities herself, as well as the Constitution. In fact, after discovering that one of her foster kids' homework seemed too fun, she founded a charter school with six others. She was forced to resign in less than six months because the publicly-funded school was aggressively forcing a Christian-based curriculum down the throats of students in contravention of state law and the U.S. Constitution. 

  Anyone else think that she might just be a tad bitter? I mean, her speech was consistent with tenther-Tea Party doctrine, but last time I checked she resided in the United States of America. Personally, I think she's just a pissed-off, bitter beast who luckily stumbled on the perfect platform, one that parrots all of her old resentments and paranoid feelings. 

  As they say, timing is everything.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Michele Bachmann Is An Idiot Of The Day: The Phyllis Schlafly Edition

  Some days, it is really too easy to pick on GOP Presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann, but today is not one of those. Today is a necessary slam, not because she eats a corndog funny, but because of who she professes her idol to be.

  In a webcast, Representative Bachmann and Rep. Steve King heaped several minutes of praise on Eagle Forum founder and preeminent anti-woman of the last 50 years, Phyllis Schlafly. Rep. King lauded her for defeating the Equal Rights Amendment and keeping evil feminists at bay.

  Mrs. Bachmann chimed in with this lengthy endorsement:

"If I could just say a couple of words about Phyllis Schafly, she is my heroine and my example as a forerunner. As a young bride and a young mother, I read faithfully "The Phyllis Schlafly Report;" she was my lifeline to what was happening in the world.
She truly is the mother of the modern conservative movement ... I think she is the most important woman in the United States in the last one hundred years.
Whatever Phyllis Schlafly says, it's important that we listen because she's there on every issue, on every front. She is our hero, our heroine, our stalwart and I absolutely adore her. So God bless you, my dear mentor and the person that I hope to be some day. So thank you very much, Phyllis."
 While I encourage you to listen to the entire thing, I'll let you in on a few things about Phyllis Schlafly, for those unfamiliar with one of the most prominent anti-feminists of the last 3 generations.
Phyllis Schlafly did stop the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. She used popular homophobia and sexism under the guise of women's rights to convert minds and prevent ratification of an amendment that consisted of these sole points:
Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

Here are some smart kids spelling it out for you:

Secondly, Mrs. Schlafly believes, to this day, that women cannot be raped by their husbands. In 2007, while giving a speech at Bates College, she uttered the following:

"By getting married, the woman has consented to sex, and I don't think you can call it rape.

She didn't back down from the statement, in fact, she affirmed it in 2008, when Washington University bestowed an honorary doctorate on her. In an interview with the student newspaper, she reiterated her prior statement.

"I think that when you get married you have consented to sex. That's what marriage is all about, I don't know if maybe these girls missed sex ed."

  Phyllis Schlafly has all kinds of other crazy ideas too. From blaming the Virginia Tech massacre on the English department to calling for the impeachment of a Justice who voted to bar minors from receiving the death penalty, old Phyllis is the proud queen of the ultraconservative lobby. She also believes in men's supremacy, with a strong belief that men should avoid career women at all costs, and even the fact that women deserve less pay than men in order to encourage them to pursue their Christ-approved position as wives and mothers of many children: “we want a society in which the average man earns more than the average woman so that his earnings can fulfill his provider role in providing a home and support for his wife who is nurturing and mothering their children”.

She doesn't believe in women holding management positions, wage equality, or discrimination protection in the workplace for women because such protections might give women overtime work or promotions that interfere with her far more important domestic duties. To this day, the 87 year old Queen of Mean is at the forefront of movements against women's health care, gay rights, and fair divorce. 

Michele Bachmann desires to go to the White House with the teachings of her headmistress firmly at the forefront of her policies. Phyllis Schlafly is one of the meanest women in the public eye, and Bachmann wants to be a bigger, badder, louder version of her.

Between Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry, the U.S. is inching closer toward  a theocratic plutocracy. It's all about transfer of wealth from the lower and middle classes to the wealthy few, but making sure that the privileged caste also adheres to rigid religious regulations regarding day-to-day life. It's oppression in the name of liberty, and it's the same thing that propelled the likes of the Ayatollah Khomeini and the true fascists of Europe into power. You cannot have rights if they can be taken away. What you have are privileges, and today's Tea Party wants to ensure that there are more of them for the wealthy than for the good people whose hard work made the rich who they are today. 

Next year, you will enjoy the privilege of voting with your conscience. It's up to you to ensure that the process continues.

Be well.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Song In My Head

Were he still alive, today would be Freddie Mercury's 65th birthday. MAN, time flies. It's been 20 years since the greatest natural voice rock has ever had died from a disease nobody really talked about. Sure, Rock Hudson and Liberace had passed, but to us they were old. Freddie was legendary, to be sure, but he was still highly culturally relevant when he died. Still, he withered away physically and denied the reason like so many others did.

Now, a lot of people I used to know are gone as well. A much as people will say that some deserved it and some didn't, I'll tell you that there's no "good" way to get HIV. A person sounds the same dying of aggressive pneumonia; Kaposi's Sarcoma looks the same, whether you acquired HIV from a blood transfusion or your boyfriend. Trust me- I've seen it up close and personal dozens and dozens of times. 

Today, people reminisce fondly about Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, but that warmness is not usually exhibited by those who have lost friends, spouses, or kids from the disease. Between Reagan's "ignore the disease because it's just about homos" philosophy to Thatcher's outwardly homophobic policies which made gays even more marginalized, a ton of people got sick and died horrible deaths in the prime of their lives. It took the deaths of people like Freddie to make people wake up to the fact that, as my worn-out ACT-UP shirt says, silence equals death.

Freddie Mercury knew there would be no cure for his condition, but hoped that his final admission could be of some help to someone. If the only afterlife is in the memories of others, Freddie Mercury's had a monumental life after death. Over a billion people watched the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, raising millions of dollars and opening the minds of people across the globe. 

For Freddie, The Show Must Go On. And it continues today.

Buy this on iTunes 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Yo, Believers : Letting Go Of God Part 12

If you're a religious person, you may not empathize with the irritations suffered by atheist/agnostic/skeptical folks around you; in fact you might even try to proselytize to them. You may do so out of genuine concern for their mortal soul, or you might not realize what you do, but every John: blah: blah-blah you send signifies that you have no respect for the non-belief of those around you. This may not be the intended result of your subversive preaching, but quietly annoyed we are.

Non-brainwashed people are expected to somehow try not to offend the deluded. We're supposed to smile and nod while someone rips out a quote about the evils of homosexuality from Leviticus and the next minute claims that it's only the New Testament that matters. It is the believer who angers if his or her crackpot creationist theory is categorically disproven by science. Creationists freak the hell out when it's even suggested that the story of Jesus is identical to Mithra and oodles of previous savior gods and there is no proof of any of them existing. It is always the potential offense of the religious person that it taken into account, even if said religious person is beet-faced and screaming at the top of his lungs that atheists are Satanists and that the only life worth living is one spent in submission to a god they cannot see, hear, or touch; one that loves him, but will send anyone to a screaming, eternal pyre for torture until Satan tires of him.

The thing is, I don't care what you believe in. Whatever gets you through the day without killing someone is fine with me. Your belief is actually of fairly little concern to me if you're not ramming it down my throat, and even if you try, I'll be generally patient enough to change the topic to something that won't cause you to suffer a cerebrovascular accident. I'm nice like that, and I can safely say that most free thinkers are pretty chill when it comes to what you choose to believe.

The problem is, most creationists I have met see my lack of angry reaction to their ridiculousness as a sign that there's a smidgen of belief in there, and this is a sign from god that they need to witness to me. But I'm atheist, which means that no gods or goddesses presented in storybooks have proven themselves worthy of belief, let alone submission to. Neither your preaching nor Youtube videos of Jack van Whatshissnatch will convert me to your illogical view of the world and the heavens. (Don't get too excited; I'm just referring to all of the stars and comets and things that have escaped from the Space Station.)

So, believers, just quit already. You are already sitting in the privileged position where you get to ask atheists a litany of questions per day, but don't take advantage of it. You don't see atheists hammering on your door when you are knocking boots with a hottie, so maybe chill the fuck out. If you stop irritating atheists with your "you may not believe in god but he believes in you" bullshit and unwelcome prayers, we may actually enjoy your company. If we do indeed have souls, mine is not yours to save. What goes on in my noggin or whether or not I pray should be of absolutely zero concern to you, because we are all individuals, and as I have stated before, I am not you. I don't need a god to tell me not to steal my neighbour's chickens; I have common sense and empathy to enable me to come to the conclusion that Bob would be adversely affected by such a selfish gesture. If all that is keeping you from lying, killing, stealing, or banging your brother's wife is the Bible, I'm truly glad for humanity that you do believe. Again, I'm cool like that.

In conclusion, take a quote from your book and love your neighbour. Love your neighbour for who he or she truly is and not for who you wish them to be. Stop trying to convert people to your faith and use the time to take a self-improvement course or go fishing with your kids. Live your own lives to the best of your ability  and stop being annoying, sanctimonious twits. And if you still haven't figured out what really frustrates your usually friendly atheist, maybe you should watch this.