I am angry today.
Why, you may ask?
I am angry because my bright, brave and beautiful daughter is afraid to express her opinions in her science class. Because, you see, certain other students feel science class is the appropriate place for them to bully other students into silence with endless threatening rants about their religious views. Yup, Honors Science here in good old East Tennessee has become The Bully Pulpit. Shocking, no? These students feel that their narrow interpretation of Judeo-Christian scripture is the only valid lens through which anyone should view the world. Therefore, they have the right or perhaps more aptly they have a 'holy mandate' to bully other children and even their teachers.
I am fairly confident, but can't say for sure because we've not spoken recently, that this is NOT what Jesus would do.
I believe I recall some passages in the second half of the book these students keep beating so loudly about not judging lest ye be judged, loving your 'enemies', being kind, compassionate and forgiving. Somehow these messages are not making an impression. They feel compelled to threaten other children, yell over anyone with a divergent viewpoint and they've even threatened to report the teacher for not subscribing to their version of reality, yes report her for not allowing them to continue abusing other students. And make no mistake, this kind of behavior is abusive.
The dangerous thing happening here is the belief that there is only one way of being in the world and that anyone who disagrees with that one way of being is 'evil.' And that's some evil shit right there.
Some of the views they're espousing included hatred and discrimination towards gay people, vehement intolerance of other religions and political views, refuting the theories of evolution and climate change, dismissal of all scientific theory that does not support their narrow world view, espousing of violence towards those with opposing views...
...and this slippery slope they're traversing is the slope that creates the kind of religious extremism that fuels terrorism.
It's the kind of thinking that allowed Hitler to take control. It's the kind of thinking that fueled the acts of 9/11. It's the kind of thinking that allows people to justify war, hate, violence, mass murder, oppression and aggression.
It's very, very dangerous thinking.
And it makes me really fucking angry to think that my daughter is afraid, AFRAID to speak her mind.
I have, quite frankly, had enough.
I'm tired of this behavior from these children and from the adults who indoctrinate them. What happened to freedom of expression? What happened to civil discourse? What happened to people having thoughtful conversations? What happened to the right to dissent?
And for the record, because perhaps my silence has made my beautiful daughter feel afraid of expressing her views:
I believe that gay marriage should be sanctioned by law just like heterosexual marriage. This will allow gay partners to receive the same rights and privileges under the law that straight partners receive. Being gay is not a choice, it's who you are when you're born. The very thought of amending the Constitution to support discrimination is absurd. It's the same kind of argument once used to support slavery and institutionalized racism and it's deeply flawed. People need to lighten the fuck up and get their noses out of everyone else's britches. It's none of your damn business. Period.
I believe in religious freedom and tolerance. People should be able to pray or not pray in the way they decide works for them. Your relationship or lack thereof with 'God' is private and personal. People who are confident in their beliefs are not threatened by the beliefs of others. People who force their beliefs on others in an aggressive fashion or call people who disagree with them names are bullies and quite likely completely missing the point of their religion.
I believe in the Theory of Evolution and will continue to do so until presented with empirical evidence to the contrary.
I believe that our climate is changing, rapidly, and that the amount of toxic crap we dump into the oceans and air most certainly has an affect. Shitting where you eat is bad. As an asthmatic who lives in the ozone filled Smoky Mountains, I can attest to the very real affect of pollution on the air. Seems kind of, well, obvious.
I am a liberal.
I am a feminist.
I am an Independent.
I think most (if not all) of our elected officials have been bought and sold by corporate interests. I think we need a clean sweep in Washington and some serious campaign reform.
I think lobbyists should be banned and politicians should be required to serve the people, not the people who line their pockets.
I believe in term limits and putting an end to the career politicians.
I believe that everyone should have unfettered access to quality health care and that a single payer system would be far superior to one in which insurance and pharmaceutical companies bully doctors and patients. I don't think anyone should have to file for bankruptcy simply because they got sick and buried under mountains of medical bills. As an asthmatic, without access to the health care I am denied by insurance companies because of my condition, I will die. I'm kind of partial to living, but I'm funny like that.
I believe that corporations are most definitely not people.
I believe in the free market, but I also believe that we have to have regulation. Corporations do not have hearts or souls or compassion for people. If we don't regulate them, we'll be right back to the kinds of conditions we had during the Industrial Revolution. If you don't know what it was like in this country during that time period, might I suggest a little research? There have to be rules, or people become expendable. If people become expendable, we're all screwed.
I am an entrepreneur, for the record.
I believe that a society is measured by how it treats the least among us.
I would rather my taxes pay for education, developing ecologically sound alternative energy sources and programs to help lift people out of the insidious cycles of poverty than pay to feed the voracious military industrial complex or provide handouts to big corporations and tax breaks to multi-millionaires. I believe there is far more corporate welfare doled out on a daily basis than welfare to poor people. I think this idea of entitlement goes both ways, to the folks skimming the fat off of the top and the folks scrambling for the residue at the bottom. I don't think the poor people are all trying to take my pie that I baked all by myself without any help from the wheat farmer, flour plant workers, fruit pickers or the host of other people involved in making it possible for me to bake my pie. As a kid, my family was briefly on welfare. I had subsidized school lunches. This happened because my father decided he didn't want to pay child support. I don't think needing to eat meant that I, as a child, had an overblown sense of entitlement. Access to food during times of duress seems to fall under the Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness category. Those who feel it does not, will be pleased to know that we were cruelly ridiculed for being poor, probably by folks who forgot that part in that book of theirs about the beggar in the night.
I believe the only 'class warfare' against the incredibly rich happens when the incredibly poor become so downtrodden and disheartened and desperate that they rise up and revolt. Like say when Marie Antoinette and Louis the 14th met the guillotine. Asking super rich folks to pay taxes and not hide their money in offshore accounts and tax shelters is not class warfare. Asking the middle class to carry the bulk of the tax burden, however, is. The real class warfare is the squeeze being placed on middle class families and the exodus of jobs overseas where workers are paid little and treated like cattle. (See The Industrial Revolution above.)
I believe in Fair Trade. I believe that if we lift people up, provide them with training and opportunity, most people will rise to the occasion. I also believe that some people will not and some people literally can not. Not everyone is equipped with the ability to thrive. I don't think they should be left behind. I am my brother's keeper.
I can not believe that people in Arizona are being legally harassed simply because of the color of their skin. I can not believe my friend has to worry that if her son forgets his ID, that he could be arrested. I can't believe her fellow Americans are yelling at her to go back to Mexico, when her family has lived in this country for multiple generations. Really? Effectively punish people who hire illegal aliens and we will no longer have a problem, that includes hypocrites who whine about illegals and then hire them to mow their lawns or watch their kids or do their dirty jobs. We can and should do better than this.
I believe in the golden rule.
I think Jesus was a socialist and a rebel. I can't believe how much his teachings have been twisted to serve the agenda of the fear mongers, but then again, he did warn us this would happen. So why am I surprised?
I believe that women should have the right to control their own bodies and their reproductive choices. If you don't have a uterus, I don't think you get to make decisions about mine. If you do have a uterus, might I suggest you worry about your own and leave mine to me, thanks.
I believe that rape should be punished with castration, if that doesn't solve things, repeat offenders should be put to death or slathered in whale fat, tethered to a barrel soaked in blood and dropped into shark infested waters. I believe people who sexually abuse children should be similarly tortured and then put to death. I am not very liberal when it comes to rape and child abuse. I've been raped, for the record, and I can attest that it was not fun and I did not ask for it. There is no such thing as legitimate rape. Anyone who sanctions rape is a misogynist and an asshole. What the hell is going on in this country? There is definitely a war on women and it must be stopped.
I think we need to seriously revisit passing the E.R.A.
I believe that anyone who doesn't bother to vote should be fined, heavily. Voting should not just be a right, it should be a requirement of citizenship.
Women who don't vote really baffle me. Other women FOUGHT AND DIED for your RIGHT to vote, get your sassy ass to the polls.
I like our president. I think he's smart and thoughtful and passionate about his country and I plan to vote for him again. Not that it's any of your business how I vote. Feel free to refrain from telling me why I'm wrong and I shall do the same if you intend to vote for someone else. This is a FREE COUNTRY! We all get to vote the way we choose! Huzzah! If we stop being free in this country, I'm packing up this circus and moving elsewhere.
I believe that there are as many pathways to God as there are people traversing them and no one pathway is better or more valid than any other. Feel free to refrain from telling me why I'm wrong. No, really.
I believe that we are here to practice unconditional love.
I believe that the people who scream the loudest about their political or religious views are usually the ones with the most to hide and the least conviction.
I don't believe Fox should be able to call their hate filled blatant half truths, lies and propaganda 'news.' I don't think any propaganda should be called 'news.' There is nothing fair or balanced about their message. At least Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are honest about their agendas. I'm just sayin'.
I believe 'it' (meaning the big picture, top secret, global government and economy stuff) is far, far more complicated than most of us will ever know.
I believe day to day life is pretty simple, however. Make good choices, be kind, love freely, listen respectfully, keep your mind and your heart open, reject fear, embrace joy.
This is what I believe. I don't really give a fart in a windstorm if you like it or you agree. I don't expect you to share my views and I would never demand that you do. I am not interested in arguing with you or converting you. I believe that each of us has the right to express our views without justification or apology. However I do not think we should have the right to shove our views down other people's throats or to threaten people who don't agree with us. You are free to speak your mind and I am free to disagree and visa versa. If you can't get with that program, maybe you can focus on finding a way for all of the intolerant holier than thou folks to gather together, pool their resources and buy an island where they can live and judge everyone else from a distance.
Just a thought.
And if my bright, brave and beautiful straight A honors student continues to be afraid to speak her mind in her HONORS SCIENCE classroom, her mother is going to head over to her school and kick some proverbial virtual ass.
I am not interested in arguing about semantics, religion, politics or my parenting decisions.
And that's all I've got to say about that.