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A very stupid and bad video

Posted by Tsach Gilboa on February 23, 2013 at 2:00 PM Comments comments (0)

A very stupid and bad video

4 American’s and 10 Libyans are dead in Libya because ofriots blamed on a vile, ignorant and bigoted anti-Islamic short video of 13.51minutes.  The video, apparently, atrailer for a movie?  Has been on utubefor several months with little attention until an Egyptian satellite TV channeldecided to incite riot with it and so it did from Egypt to Libya to another 12countries in the Middle East and Asia with no end in site.

Out of simple curiosity (after all it–in addition tointelligence–is what separates us from the plebian and beasts!) I decided towatch it, and a very painful experience it was. The video is so amateurish it is laughable. It appears to have been madeby a very inept infantile group of people, probably young and with no talent,maturity or experience.  It was probablymade by just such people but older and with specific intentions to incite riotsand violence and build a case for American hatred for Islam.

Who exactly those people are we don’t know.  Resources should be devoted to findingout.  Freedom of Speech–a right Icherish–is not absolute nor can it be. Incitement to riot and violence is an exception and considering the realand predictable risk of serious violence and possibly death involved here, acase might be made for reckless endangerment and possibly murder.

It is important to note that this video was not the cause ofthe riots, violence and death but merely a convenient excuse for the extremegroups out there who launch and coordinate these acts of violence.  It is also important to note that the Libyaattack that resulted in the death of 4 Americans, including the US Ambassadorand 10 Libyans was done by a well equipped and armed commando unit which nodoubt planned this operations in advance.

The resulting unrest and violence and acts of murder andterrorism as part of the Arab Spring are not unique to that Arab world.  Fall of dictators and oppressive regimesoften results and transition periods where extremists in those societies grab power,for a while, and try to advance their extreme causes and ideologies byviolence.  America is no the right trackin supporting and assisting the moderate, progressive and voices of reason inthose societies and in assisting them to build a strong civil society whichwill minimize, if not prevent, the ability of extreme elements to cause suchdevastating damage.

The fact that such a repulsively boring, infantile,amateurish and bad piece of media can be used as a pretext here for such widespread riots, violence and murder, is simply an indication that a segment ofthe population over there is splashing in the very shallow, narrow minded andreligiously ignorant waters.  Not unlikeother places of this planet, including our own back yard.  War against women (REAL), War against thepoor and the middle class (REAL), War on science and progress (REAL), War ofthe planet (REAL), War on voting rights and Democracy, and more, in our backyard is no less insidious and is and will have even more dire consequences ifwe don’t stop them. 

 

"Culture of Life"

Posted by Tsach Gilboa on August 28, 2012 at 10:35 PM Comments comments (0)

“Culture of Life”

It is amazing how inventive we are and how words and phrases can be so easily manipulated to advance one’s agenda, valid or not. The anti-choice people, those who favor personhood amendments and a return to the pre-Roe v. Wade world of abortion being illegal in all cases–including rape, incest and the life of the mother–have a new slogan: “Culture of Life”. I must say, it sounds great! Who can possibly be against the “Culture of Life”? Only mad people surely.

However, us being sentient beings after all, and just as an intellectual exercise, lets go a little deeper and explore what “Culture f Life” the way they use it actually means.

America still has the death penalty in 33 states plus the U.S. Government and the U.S. Military. In the first half of 2012 alone, eight states executed 23 people, half that number in Texas and Mississippi. In 2011 the US executed 43 people, according to Amnesty International, ranking it fifth in the world in Capital Punishment, after China, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq, not exactly the company we want to keep or the example we want to follow.

It is important to note–as reported by the Innocence Project–that since 2003 17 people have been proven innocent and exonerated by DNA testing in the US after serving time on death row. These people were convicted in 11 states and served a combined 209 years in prison for crimes they did not commit. “Funny” thing about killing someone, you cannot bring him/her back if you made a mistake, as the state did in these cases. We can also never return the lost years these people spent in Prison, while being INNOCENT, but we can at least release them and allow them to live the rest of their lives as free people, something you can obviously not do if they are dead.

What makes this issue even more important and frustrating is that all those anti-choice believers and proponents, even in cases of rape, incest and life/health of the mother, have no problem, as a whole, with the death penalty. If this is the “Culture of Life” why are we, as a society, executing people? And we are doing so with the full knowledge that our imperfect legal justice system has a troubling and unacceptable record of convicting the wrong people in alarming numbers, with the belief of this writer, that even one falsely convicted and executed person is too much!

Another layer here is religion. Fundamental to the Personhood campaign is that once the sperm fertilizes the egg it is a Human Being with full rights and privileges. That is not a scientific view of life but a religious one. Assuming, arguendo, that we are believers here and that God is the source of life and all that is so amazing about the universe and our existence as a small part of it, what gives us the right to executed people? Should that not be the prerogative of God?

And that brings me to my final point here. The Republican Party platform clearly states no abortion under any circumstances including rape, incest and health/life of the mother. So if the mother’s health and life is in danger if she cannot abort the fetus, are the anti-choice people saying that the fertilized egg of a few hours, days or weeks is more important that the life of a fully grown woman? Let the mother die?

Of course during pregnancy and after birth there is no assistance and care to the mother and fetus/baby/kid since that would be “Big Government.” Government monitoring each pregnancy and making sure we get the result Government wants, that is not “Big Government”. Protecting, assisting, educating us after we are born to ensure productive and competitive Americans is bad. Government forcing women to carry babies to term and having them, regardless of circumstances and the possible resulting poverty and misery, instead of quality of life, is good.

Just what is the “Culture of Life” according to this anti-choice view: It seems that it is limited to forcing women to carry their babies to term under any and all circumstances. What happens during the pregnancy and after the baby is born, if he/she is, well that is your responsibility. You are alone after all.

Rape is RAPE

Posted by Tsach Gilboa on August 21, 2012 at 8:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Rape is RAPE!

Rape in specifically and legally defined as “the commission of unlawful sexual intercourse or unlawful sexual intrusion without consent” (important to note here that gender or marital status is no longer a controlling factor. While in the past a husband could not be charged or convicted of raping his wife now he can. In addition people of the same gender can rape each other, men raping men or women raping women, as well as women raping men). Consent is the key here. Although historically the issue was force and violence which negated consent, putting a burden on the victim to resist which usually results in more violence and injury as well as higher risk of death (Rape after all is a crime of violence and domination), consent was redefined starting in the 1970’s. Lack of consent is viewed from the point of view of the victim. Lack of consent can either result from forcible compulsion by the perpetrator of the threat of such or incapacity to consent on the part of the victim. This can be either due to age (sex with a minor is deemed statutory rape since a minor is deemed not capable of consent to sex) or due to a chemical or drug whether ingested voluntarily (the victim got drug of her/his own accord or was slipped a drug or forced to take to drugs or drink). The bottom line is No means No and not being able to say No (age of under the influence) also means NO!

Seems pretty reasonable and fair, does it not? Not so fast. Just when you think it is safe to get in the water, or just as you are relieved we are out of the dark Middle Ages, here come the scraped knuckled Neanderthals with their women, surprisingly not far behind, launching a several decade campaign to redefine Rape for the purpose of outlawing abortion under any and all circumstances. The firestorm was reignited this week by congressman Todd Akin, a congressman from Missouri. Akin, who inexplicably and disturbingly, sits on the Congress Science and Technology committee, juts won the Republican nomination for Senate race in Missouri, trying to unseat Claire McCaskill, an actual moderate Democrat. Akin, in a TV interview Sunday indicated, in reply to a question about Abortion in the case of rape, that pregnancy from Rape is “really rare” because “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try and shut that whole thing down”. He went on the say that “But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.”

Naturally these misguided, idiotic and ignorant statements generated a firestorm of objections from the left and from the right. We all thought that these issues had been resolved and put to rest in the past. Now we have US congress members parsing Rape into “legitimate” or “illegitimate.” What is even substantially more troubling is that Congressman Akin co-sponsored two bills with Congressman Ryan, yes the one running as Mitt Romney’s running mate for the highest office in the land. One was a bill to eliminate federal funding for abortion (currently federal funding is not available for abortion except for incest and rape) for rape, unless it is “Forcible rape?” (2011 No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act). Ryan and Akin also co- sponsored a personhood bill that defines life as a fertilized egg, giving it exact same rights as a human being, which of course means that no abortion is available under any circumstances (rape, incest, health/life of the mother or any other reason). It also means that in addition to banning abortion it also turns many forms of birth control into murder. Specifically all those methods, like birth control pills, that prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in a woman’s uterus. In addition infertile women or couples would not have the benefit of science, like in-vitro fertilization, since not all embryos are used. This Sanctity of Human Life Act of 2009, is clearly unconstitutional. Congress does not have the power to overrule Roe V. Wade except by a constitutional amendment. This raises some very interesting issues like separation of church and state, big v. small government, freedom and civil rights. The right is arguing for small government but want government big enough to control women and their reproduction buy forcing them to have invasive non-doctor recommended vaginal ultrasounds and carry their babies to terms with no exceptions.

So what does this all means? Sadly it means that we are slipping backwards and that when times get tough or whenever we make progress as a species, a meaningful number of us take refuge in a religious and narrow-minded fools paradise. It means that our freedoms and protections are being threatened and curtailed by an ignorant group of radical fanatics who do not believe in science and progress but instead lead their lives based on some misguided beliefs with total disregard of facts. What it also means is that all the talk about “small government” is code for only “my kind of government and as large as I want it”. The talk about freedom is code for “ as long as you follow my beliefs however misguided and unsubstantiated they might be.” It’s also about replacing our own judgment with that of others who held positions of power and created books, documents and systems to perpetuate their influence and power and those, today, who claim to speak for them and carry on their mission.

Life sure was “so much better” when Women and African Americans and others were chattel with no rights or power, don’t you think?. For those of us who believe in humanity, in the entire amazing plethora and splendor of its diversity, in addition to loving and appreciating the mostly delightful and delicious females of the species, the battle is on and victory will be achieved. If history is any indication of the future, darkness never ends up winning. We are currently under attack by those living in a state of fear and ignorant bliss.  But rest assured that reason and enlightenment will win in the end.  Sadly, that will have to do until we find a way to make stupidity painful.

The bottom line here has not changed. Pregnancy termination is an agonizing life changing decision and should remain one that is private and made by the woman with her man, family and doctor.  Government has no place here.

We are not all the same?

Posted by Tsach Gilboa on August 16, 2012 at 7:50 PM Comments comments (0)

We are not all the same?

On July 19, 2012 Ann Romney in a TV interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts, when asked about Mitt Romney releasing more tax returns, said “We have given all you people need to know”. I will not jump to the obvious conclusion just because Robin Roberts is African American. I’m pretty sure that was not Ann Romney’s intent. Her statement is substantially more disturbing and insulting than just a race issue. This is a perfect example of the worldview of the entitled rich few vs. the rest of us “People”.

History is filled with examples of the entitled fortunate few, not quite getting the life and reality of average regular folks. History is also filled with the entitled rich few blaming the suffering struggling masses for their lot in life. And who can blame them, they do not know any different. The results of this worldview range from the relatively benign of “Let them eat cake”–to the ongoing and growing bullying problem we are experiencing, to engage in agressive and dishonest actions designed to dismantle the social safety net and to deny people affordable health care, to extreme cases of horrific genocides in human history, especially in the last 100 years. The former ended up in the French revolution and the beheading of the lovely and entitled Mary Antoinette, while the latter in the torture and death of millions. Nothing good ever comes from self important entitled perception, very deficient in self awareness, that one or small group are worth more as human beings than others, based on social status, money, race, gender, religion, belief, shape, national/geographic origin and/or sexual orientation etc. Obviously it is the prevention of extreme results, which unfortunately keep happening in disturbing regularity, that is the point here.

There is a common thread in that tapestry of man’s inhumanity to man. That thread starts, revolves around and ends with the fundamental belief and premise that we are not all the same. It all begins with the false premise that some of us are worth more as human beings. It is the origins of bigotry and hatred. The foundation of racism, anti-Semitism and all the other isms out there that caused and continue to cause pain, torture, death and destruction of humans by humans for centuries. History has showed us over and over again how incendiary this slippery slope is. By comparison all the hoopla over gay marriage is clearly a non-issue. Gay marriage will not result in an epidemic of group marriages, people marrying their dogs and other such nonsense. We know this because it is irrational and because none of this has come to pass in the states where gay marriage is legal (and yes society can legitimize the love of two people of same gender without legitimizing polygamy or bestiality). We also know that teaching and living with the premise that others are less human than you has resulted, over and over again, in atrocities.

Of course I am not saying that Ann Romney is a racist or a bigot. What I am saying is that she is a “Richist”. Her comments reek of entitled indignation and indicate that she believes she is not, and should not, be subject to the same standards as “you people”. Just what “you people” she is referring to is not clear. Is it you media people? You African American people? You Democrat people? You non Mormon “you people”, Or, all you 99% of American’s with less money than us very rich people? In any and all these cases, this is very dangerous ground indeed.

Just yesterday August 15, 2012, in an interview with Natalie Morales, Ann Romney, again defensively declared “We have been very transparent to what’s legally required of us. But the more we release, the more we get attacked, the more we get questioned…” Leaving aside the obvious issue of Ann Romney not being the one that is running for office, qualified or not, the logical conclusion here is that the Romney campaign decided it is better not to release more returns, and especially those from 2009, and put up with the issues that raises, rather than releasing them and putting them put there for the voters to see and question. If there is nothing to hide, why not release them and be done with this?

The other possibility is that Mr. and Mrs. Romney just don’t think that we the people have a right to know these facts about them, even though we have been given these facts about all other presidential candidates. It is this word view that they do not have to put up with this level of scrutiny since after all, they are who they are, and they decide what information we the people are going to get. That double standard that differentiates between people and groups is the breading ground for our ongoing descents into the personal, national and global abyss.

But in the real world, and back to this presidential election, we the people require disclosure of basic and essential information about you before we elect you to be president of these United States. Anyone who does not feel comfortable disclosing this pertinent and relevant information to us, should not run for the highest office in the land. Unlike the private lives of movie stars, which are really none of our business, presidential candidates history and their character, governing experience, ideology and specifically fiscal history, tax behavior and philosophy are critical to our voting decisions. This is a beauty pageant and the burden is on the office seeker to convince us with facts, truth, honesty, vision and integrity that they are the one to lead us. Failure to do so will simply result in, well, failure!