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The Inquisition of Cecile

720x405-GettyImages-490528966It was very hard to watch and listen to the Congressional Hearing with Cecile Richards.  The whole thing was reminiscent of the videos I have seen of the McCarthy Hollywood communist trials.  Ms. Richards was badgered, derided, accused and verbally assaulted for five hours.  Granted, there were many who came to her defense, to the defense of Planned Parenthood and women’s right to choose their health provider.  I am glad for that as I felt that did help in giving her strength.

One of the things that resonated strongly in my mind as I listened to these people grilling and commenting was the complete lack of understanding of women’s needs and healthcare they seemed to possess.  She was accused of lying because the Planned Parenthood site says mammograms is an offered service and they send women who need them to an imaging center.  I was stunned over this one.  Every clinic that I know of sends you out to an imaging center.  Same for ultrasound and CAT scans.  Its not financially feasible for them to have those expensive units.  They won’t pay for themselves.  The ignorance of this fact was just mind boggling.

Then there was the diatribe from Mia Love of Utah where she said she didn’t see any reason the dollars sent to Planned Parenthood couldn’t be sent somewhere else instead.  I guess she doesn’t think it matters that women trust Planned Parenthood, trust their work, their history, their care.  That many doctors and clinics will turn patients away that are on Medicaid because they don’t want to deal with it.  That many don’t even trust those establishments.  It really and truly pains me to see women also stepping up on this bandwagon.  I suppose the flaw is in me in that I expect a woman to understand such matters better.

One of the larger contentions many had with Ms. Richards was the salary she receives.  There are many instances when I have an issue with the massive salaries a CEO receives.  Cecile is one of a handful of exceptions.  She has fought tirelessly for the rights of people to free or low cost reproductive care.  She has fought the media, the legal system.  I am sure that there are few places where she can go and not fear for her life.  I can’t imagine there are very many people who would have hung in with such a position given the climate she is forced to work in.  She is worth every . . . . single . . . . penny of that salary.

And I must make note of one of the most shining, though highly under-reported aspect of this hearing/witchhunt.  During all the badgering, all the verbal assaults, all the irrelevant questions and interrogations, Cecile remained calm.  She remained polite.  She remained well spoken.  And she remained honest.  There were times when you could see the wear it was having on her.  But, she drew from an inner strength that I would lay money few, if any, of her accusers possessed.  She didn’t waver, she didn’t cower, she didn’t wave the white flag.  She was a champion.  She was our champion.

I do understand that there are people that have moral and personal issues with abortion, with birth control, with reproductive freedom and sexuality choices.  I also understand and know first hand that there are at least as many that will have moral and personal issues with many of those people’s choices and beliefs.  Its called personal freedom.  Yes, as voters you should have a say in how your tax dollars are spent.  However, and somewhere this seems to be getting lost from the discussion, YOU are NOT the only ones that pay taxes.  There are at least as many that pay taxes that stand in support of organizations such as Planned Parenthood.  Your choices do not cancel their’s.  And even if your taxes have a greater total, I am sure that their’s are sufficient to pay the 500 million that PP gets in Medicaid reimbursement.  Not for abortions, but for Medicaid approved procedures.

The major claim of fury in these so called investigations is due to the fact that a small percentage of facilities allowed the women to donate the fetal tissue.  For this, Planned Parenthood received a minimal payment ranging from $30 to $100 that barely covered the cost of obtaining, preserving, transporting and providing the proper paperwork.  I don’t even need to understand the full work involved in the transport of these tissues to realize there was no money made off of these transactions at these prices.  I am willing to bet that there was actually a loss.

The reality is that all of our lives are what they are today as a result of fetal tissue research.  “This tissue has helped to develop vaccines for a wide range of diseases, including polio, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis A and B,shingles and rabies.” (http://www.webmd.com/brain/news/20150929/fetal-tissue-research)    We have been using them since the 1930’s.  Its only an issue now because Planned Parenthood’s name has been attached to it in an illegal effort to discredit them and put them out of business.  The interesting thing is that many Republicans, these same people interrogating Cecile, passed, by large majorities bills allowing embryonic stem cell research.  But then, those cells did not come from Planned Parenthood, they came from fertility centers and surplus fetuses.

Oh, do read that again.  Surplus fetuses.  Those are okay to destroy and use for research.  Because they were created for the purpose of making more babies.  Mostly for the wealthy.  War veterans who come home injured in ways that prevent them from reproducing are denied fertility benefits from their military medical insurance.  There’s an awful lot of hypocrisy going on here, don’t you think?

They scream about life being “sacred”, all lives matter, etc.  They show this by not mandating paid maternity leave (We are the ONLY industrialized nation that does not, and the other two that do not are Papua New Guinea and Suriname).  We deny women equal pay for equal work.  We cut early childhood education, free lunches, etc.  We deride “welfare moms”, yet will allow her employer to deny her the right to be covered for birth control on her insurance.  61% of women who have an abortion already have 1 or 2 children.  They understand the cost, the responsibility, the burden that comes with bringing a child into the world.  They understand that once that child is born, they will be the ONLY one looking out for it.  Many understand that they will be the only source of support for that child.  They know these same people who are fighting so hard to take their reproductive freedoms away will do nothing to help them shoulder this responsibility.

RapeWe live in a world where 1 in 4 women is sexually assaulted in her lifetime,  and estimated 20% of women were molested as a child, a country where 31 states in which a rapist can sue for visitation and custody.  Women are fed drugs in their drinks at parties, dinners, restaurants to make them compliant or unable to resist.  A world where, even with all the strides that have been made, we still only make 77 cents on the dollar a man makes.

Behind BarsWithout the basic ability to control our reproductive freedom, we become trapped.  The few doors of opportunity open to us begin to close.  The inability to receive health care within our means  endangers our lives, our health.  And it should never be up to the lawmakers to decide whom we confide in for our healthcare decisions.  No man has his choices made by the lawmakers.

istock_000012424539_full_3The lawmakers say that there are alternative places to get our health care.  True.  And many will not take Medicaid.  And then there is the change in the ownership of our hospitals and clinics.  It is estimated that 1 in 9 hospitals and clinics are now owned by the Catholic Church.  They are allowed to refuse medical options that are our constitutional right to have because they are a “religious organization”.  Which mean, we cannot have a tubal ligation when we have a C-section.  Men cannot get a vasectomy.  We cannot get the morning after pill if we have been raped.  We cannot get an abortion.  We can’t even get a prescription for birth control.  If we have cancer and are pregnant, they can refuse to terminate the pregnancy to save our life.  Yes, we can take them to court over this, but by the time it is heard, the cancer would have done its job.  Our family can’t even pull the plug if we are terminally ill.  And those numbers are growing.  And it is only a matter of time if the tide doesn’t shift till they carry those rules to also include their homophobic beliefs.  Suddenly, our choices are reduced.  Unless we give up our rights.  Unless we allow others to control our bodies.

1327518210_b72f2ccd1cCecile Richards is one of the best warriors we have defending our rights as women.  Our rights over our bodies.  She does not bend to the establishment.  She fights at every turn to protect the rights we have.  To keep open the doors of an establishment that promises, has always promised to believe in women to be able to make their own choices.

The reality is that there is no biblical standing to back this anti choice stance.  Even if there was, we have that separation of church and state.  They have no more right to impose the dictates of their imaginary friends or gods on me than I have to impose the dictates of my imaginary friends and gods on them.  And I can promise, mine can be pretty scary!  At any rate, there is nothing to back up their claims other than the desire to control over half the population.  For it is a fact that that controlling women’s sexuality is the biggest key factor to the subjugation of those women.  There really is no high moral ground involved here.  Its a base attempt to put women in their place.  Its a witch hunt against one of our greatest champions.

I think I shall end this post at this time.  Though I am sure this will be far from the end of what I have to say on this subject.  That said, I shall finish with this.  I will and have always stood with Planned Parenthood.  As we all should.




Sin – According to the dictionary a sin is:

1.  transgression of divine law:  the sin of Adam.
2.  any act regarded as such a transgression, especially a willful or deliberate violation of some religious or moral principle.
3.  any reprehensible or regrettable action, behavior, lapse, etc.; great fault or offense

We are living in a time where Nones (people who claim either no religion, or don’t identify with any religion) are at an all time high, counting between 22% and 31% of the population.  Yet, in the face of this, it seems every politician, and an unbelievable number of the news outlets are pounding us with their religiosity and infusing every story, every commentary, every interview with litanies of sermonesse speeches akin to what you would expect from an evangelical fire and brimstone pulpit.  And SIN seems to be one of their favorite admonishments to season their argument with.

Even given that you are applying only the biblical definition of sin which comprises the Judeo/Christian community, again of which between 22 and 31% of the population no longer embraces or is not a member of, you are talking about 613 laws.  And for those saying that the Old Testament doesn’t apply because of Jesus, I tell them they need to read their book again.  For it says that Jesus said that you must keep the laws of the Father.  He didn’t wipe out those laws. Though, we should make a strong note of something else he said.  Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.That gives us 613 of those blasted things that we must avoid doing.  Most of which have no bearing on modern society and I doubt even the Pope can avoid breaking many of them.  However, even if they could be given a bearing in modern society, just the enormity of it can make any person’s brain ache.  613 laws???  Okay, I’m sure every state’s penal codes have more than that.  But, how many of us bother to learn, more yet try and abide by all of them?  And some of those are just as silly as the ones in the bible.  And to any Christian that happens upon this, if you take offense at such a statement, you obviously haven’t read some of those laws.  “Not to make human forms even for decorative purposes.”  There goes the family portraits!  “Men cannot shave their face with a razor.”  Guess its time to start sharpening those stone blades!  “Not to eat from that which is left over.”  Well, there went MY lunch plans.  There’s a lot more of them if you  care to look them up.  And again, they are not just for Jews.  Jesus said you have to keep the laws of his father.  So, that means Christians need to keep these laws too.  Might do for them to remember that when they point accusatory fingers at gays and women.

However, I must say that if we go with the first definition, at Eve’s bequest, Adam ate of the tree of knowledge, and so was born “original sin”.  By biblical accounts and the interpretations of a large percentage of Christian ministers, because of this act relayed in the “beginning”, we all hold the past due loan of “original sin”.  For this, we come into life with the deck already stacked against us.  A “bastard child” cannot get into heaven, nor can his descendants for 10 generations.  There are others as well, but the point is, you could live a sin free and pure life (though I am at a loss to figure out how) but may still find yourself barred entrance into this “heaven” based on something your great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather did.  Heaven has to be one damned empty hall, if you ask me.

However, let us return to  that first sin.  The sin of of eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge.  I try to wrap my head around this concept.  The sin that has been passed down to us from the “first parents” is the sin of choosing knowledge.  Never mind the fact that the deck was stacked against us in this as well.  You have Satan in that garden of Eden, dangling this delicacy of knowledge in front of Eve.  If it was so forbidden, why was it in the garden in the first place?  It was the original set up.  How could we possibly refuse?

For knowledge, we are damned, as are our children, and their children, and their children, forever.  So, if that is the primary definition of sin, I wish to be at the front of the line.  Though it actually does explain much in the current trend of the more fundamental states in their opposition to critical thinking, science denial and insane levels of denialism and mis-information.  I guess they are figuring if they go back to original sin and deny the value of knowledge, they can worm their way into heaven.  And I must say that I take a great deal of satisfaction in the realization that it was woman who first chose knowledge and then wished her man to become knowledgeable as well.  Course, this could also explain why so many men like dumb women.  They are trying to turn back the clocks of time.  Proof again that a woman with knowledge is a truly dangerous thing!

I would think the last place I would want to spend eternity is with stupid people!  Actually, when you add this in with the other things that are said about heaven, no earthly body (= no sex), eternity worshiping God (worship someone?  Me???  Yeah, that one ain’t gonna happen)  singing hymns forever (gads, nooooo!!) and no knowledge.  Yeah, I want a ticket to the other place where I can sit around and shoot the shit with Mark Twain, Bono, Tesla, Sagan, and all the rest of the godless ones.  Now, that’s a party, even if it is hot.  Or cold.  Whichever.

Which actually brings me to my point in writing this.  The reality is that when we look at the actions that have been deemed “sins”, it gets rather entertaining.  It almost seems as if pretty much everything that is pleasurable is a sin.  Hell, I can’t even have lustful thoughts about the men wandering around in kilts at the Highland Games.  And if pretty much all acts of pleasure are sins (we did mention knowledge is a sin, didn’t we?) what is the purpose of life?  To spend it with dangly bits of chocolate and feathers and jars of massage cream wavering in front of us and never reaching out to pluck one?  That’s pretty damned inhuman if you ask me!

Thankfully, we can walk away from the Judaeo/Christian God and take a look at other religions (should you have the need or desire for a personal god and religion).  Yeah, you have Islam, but that is also an Abrahamic religion with near identical stuff that the bible has.  Oh, except for the 72 virgins part.  I don’t recall reading that one in the bible.  Though god did offer all the virgins of a taken city to the victors.  Damned nice of him, don’t you think?  And yet another way for him to teach those uppity females who wanted wisdom.

There are other, somewhat more rational belief structures out there.  Buddhism, which has no reference for sin.  It does, however, have Karma.  You do bad, it will bite you in the ass.  Same for good.  Its not really magic.  Its simply common sense.  When you are nice to people, it tends to make both of you feel good and fulfilled.  Happiness and kindness are contagious.  As are unhappiness and cruelty.  All you need do to prove or disprove this one is to walk into a room full of people and begin greeting everyone with a warm smile and kind word.  One person in a room with the right attitude can change the entire atmosphere.  The same applies if they are angry.  So, karma is the world we create.

If we abuse our land, our planet, it begins to turn on us, failing to produce food in the same way  If we dump poisons in our water, we also poison our bodies.  If we show a complete disregard for our fellow human being, we will be left without real friends.  If we lovingly tend our little piece of earth, things will grow.  And yes, its also a scientific principle.  For ever action, there is an equal reaction.  What you put out comes back.

This is a much more logical and acceptable rationale to me.  I don’t need a god or a book to tell me these things.  I don’t need a promise of a reward in an afterlife (especially with a bunch of out of tune hoohaws that think ignorance is a godly trait).  I don’t need a bible to teach me to be a good person.  I just need to realize that I feel good when I do good, I feel blessed when I help, change, and live life.

Do I believe in “sin”?  Absolutely!  But, not in the definition handed down by the churches or the media.  My son loving another man is not a sin.  I reject ANY god that says that love is a sin.  If its between two consenting adults, it is just love.  My friends that love in ways that I don’t understand, those aren’t sins either.  I don’t need to understand them for them to be all right and good.  If it makes their hearts glow, their insides warm and their spirits soar, it isn’t a sin.  Choosing when I am ready to bring a life into the world is not a sin.  It is choosing not to bring a child that is not wanted, can’t be cared for.  It is waiting until the time when I am ready to make that commitment.  Having control over my body, the decisions of my body is not a sin.  It is my right.  Choosing who I have a relationship is not a sin.  Whether it be one or one hundred or more.  (though it does become a sin in my eyes if you knowingly pass on an STD in this manner)

So, what is a sin?  To me, a sin is the willful destruction of your planet for profit.  Its harming a child.  Its harming your partner.  Its imposing your belief on others.  Its in not rejoicing in this short journey we call life.  Its in not trying to make it a better place than you found it.
Even if it is a tiny, minuscule improvement.  Its a sin not to breath the life in and let it fill you up and then exhale it in a song of joy.

I don’t know if there is a god.  If there is, I am sure they don’t give much thought to me.  But, IF there is one, the only one that I can put my belief into is one that wants me to relish the life they gave me.  One that wants me to live every second as if its all there is.  One that sent me here to love.  Not by a narrow definition, but fully, completely and with every cell of my being.  Not one thing, but everything.  I reject a god that would condemn love.  I reject a god that condemns knowledge and wisdom.  I show the hand to a god that lays 613 laws for me to follow.  “That” is a sin.  A sin against life.  A sin against love.  A sin in the truest sense.

July 3, 2015


The Common Thread

SpiderwebWatching the news feed nowadays, it seems like the stream of legislated hate, sermonized intolerance, surveillance and just downright abuse from those in power never ends.  And it becomes overwhelmingly accepted due to a highly organized onslaught of carefully wrought ad campaigns to make the infringements seem “reasonable”.  Or by identifying one group or another as a fringe group to be feared or less deserving.  Individually, its scary.  Put together, its downright terrifying.

Each group, each faction that is under attack (almost entirely from the radical right and money barons) has a legitimate claim to the bias and bigotry thrown at them.  I sympathize with pretty much all of them.  It seems that if you are not a white christian of devout/hypocritical  (if ignorant knowledge of the bible) beliefs who votes a straight Republican ticket, then you are placed into any of a number of buckets for derision.  And the problem is, not only are they united in their war tactics, not only do they have the finances to keep feeding into their hate campaigns and propaganda wars, but they also have brilliantly divided the rest of us.

Yes, there is an assault on gay rights, but it is more than that.  Yes, there is a war on women, but it is more than that.  Yes, there is an attack on the elderly, the poor, the infirm, the weakest among us, the military (once they have served their use to those in power), but it is more than that.  Yes, there is a war on science, on critical thinking, on free thought, on education, but it is more than that.  And yes, there is a war on any religious or non-religious belief that counters theirs, but it is more than that.

The problem is that in each of these things, we have allowed lines to be drawn so that we are only fighting a piece of the battle.  We see them as unique and stand alone issues that are unrelated to the others.  We align ourselves in one or two camps and give no energy to the rest.  And that divides us and weakens us.  And though all of those battles are real, they are only one scene out of the whole picture.

The whole thing hit me when a friend made a comment on a post the other day.  I had made similar comments before, but it took it coming from someone else for the light bulb to fully go off.  Every one of these things is a Human Rights Violation.  Every. Single. One.

And it seems to me that when you put it in this light, you begin to see just how monumentally massive this situation is.  Its almost too much to process when you finally look at it.  Its so much easier to just deal with the individual bubbles.  But, all that will do is maybe, if we are lucking, permit a temporary freedom for one of the bubbles.  And build a further wall of separation as the side that has scored the win shields themselves from the rest believing to do otherwise may endanger the liberty they just acquired.  But, that is a false hope at the very least, as the LGBT community is learning, as the minorities have learned, as women have learned, as so many have learned.

Taking a woman’s right to make decisions about her body and her health away from the sanctity of her and her doctor is a Human Rights Violation.  Enforcing junk science in place of real science to further a political agenda is a Human Rights Violation.  You have the right to make whatever decision you wish based on your personal belief on your body, your health, your choices.  You do NOT have the right to impose those beliefs on others.  You do NOT have the right to rewrite laws to target an industry unfairly and in direct conflict of years of evidence that proves it is unwarranted as have been imposed on countless women’s clinics in this country.  That’s a Human Rights Violation.

You cannot open a public establishment where access is made via public streets paid for by taxpayers, receive tax credits and enjoy the benefits of a public business owner and refuse to serve someone based on their color, their religion, their gender preference.  Hospitals that are owned by religious establishments do not have the right to impose their church’s rules on the treatment and disclosure of information to patients.  The moment they take insurance payments from the general community, accept patients from the secular community and enjoy the tax benefits granted from the government, they have given up that right.  If they choose to serve the general population, it is their duty to set aside their personal and religious beliefs as far as it regards the people they serve.  The same goes for a pharmacist, a nurse, a psychologist.  Anything less is a Human Rights Violation.

Prayer has no place being part of the public school curriculum.   Nor does religious mythology such as creationism.   Religious indoctrination groups have no place on a public school campus.  This is not discrimination against Christians.  It is protection for people of all faith, and of no faith.  It is also protection for Christians of varying denominations.  The Ten Commandments are discriminatory of non-Christians and have no place on a court house or public building.  They are pushing an ideology that is unconstitutional and a Human Rights Violation.

You cannot serve in a public office where you seek to impose your religious beliefs on your constituency.  That is called a Theocracy.  Something the founding fathers were adamantly opposed to.  Our constitution was not founded on religious principles and Moses was not one of the founding fathers.  Any person who takes an oath of public office is bound to serve ALL the people and to insure that all people are treated fairly.  For they are Servants of the people, not the rulers of them.  We gave those up when we fought the American Revolution.  They may hold those beliefs and apply them to their own life and their own personal choices.  They may not force them onto someone that may not share their belief structure or make them a part of the governing laws.

Additionally, the police are servants of the people.  Not a domestic military force.  And as such, they should not be an intimidating presence in our communities, often times inciting the violence they should be preventing.  They need to be a part of the community, not an overseeing force.  Violence needs to be far more of a last resort than it has been.  Anything less is a Human Rights Violation.

Imposing unnecessary laws and obstacles to disenfranchise votes and make it harder or costly for citizens to cast their vote is a Human Rights Violation.  We have the right, as citizens, to participate in our electoral process.  In truth, we have a duty.  And we should not be dissuading citizens from voting.  We should not be looking for excuses to disallow their vote, impose unnecessary and discriminatory regulations to minimize the counts.  We need to make it easier, to educate the citizenry of their civil duty, understanding their rights and the constitution.  As it is written, not as some attempt to redefine it.  We need to strive not to have lower voter turnout, but to do whatever is needed to have as high of a voter turnout as is possible.  Only then will we have a true government of the people, by the people and for the people.  Anything less is a Human Rights Violation.

Selling off or leasing off the sacred and tribal lands of our Indigenous People is without a doubt a Human Rights Violation.  Denial of the scientific held belief of Climate Change is your right.  But, continuing practices that are known to be substantial contributors to it, thereby affecting the majority of the population who do not share in your belief is a Human Rights Violation.  As is Fracking, which is poisoning ground water, most probably causing earthquakes and creating a toxic environment for all life is a Human Rights Violation.  So is the attempt to place ownership on the clean waters of the world and the spraying of chemicals with sufficient probable causation of things like the decline in bee populations and new cancers.

I am not, nor will I ever be a “Politically Correct” person.  I believe in freedom of speech.  I believe in it wholly including the belief that I must also defend speech that I find offensive.  I believe that people have the right to hate, though I don’t understand why anyone would make such a choice.  I believe they have the right to practice any religion they wish.  To live their lives by their own principles and morals, regardless of whether I or anyone else shares them.  The line gets drawn, however, when they encroach on the rights of others, when they try and pass laws limiting the freedoms of those who don’t share their beliefs.  When it goes beyond freedom of speech, freedom of religion outside of their personal life, then it has crossed the line from “your” freedom into someone else’s.  It is not a discrimination against your religion when you are prohibited from discrimination.  If you don’t wish to be in their presence, you can simply cloister yourself in your home.  But, outside the doors of your home, your church, they have just as much right to be, to function, to thrive as you do.

I am sorry, but if you don’t want to administer birth control, don’t become a pharmacist.  If you want your child to pray in class, put them in a religious school (which needs to also give up its tax exempt status as well as that status is a form of government sponsorship).  If you don’t want to kill a stranger, don’t enlist in the military or the police.  Its just common sense.  When you enter these areas, you must accept that these things go hand in hand with the job.  That you are accepting them as part of the job description.  You have the “right” to choose another path.  If you cannot live up to the requirements of your job without imposing your personal beliefs onto others, you should choose another path.  Because your freedom cannot be bought at the expense of another’s.

Yes, each of these and more are, on their own, their own separate issue, but they are each of them also part of a greater whole.  For every one of them is a Human Rights Violation.  They must each be joined by this common thread in order for them to achieve the united front that is needed to make real change.  None of the individual groups hold enough power, enough votes to make more than a temporary change, in constant danger the moment they glance the wrong way.  Too many factions dismiss “women’s rights”, “gay rights”, “minority rights”, “religious rights (other than Christian)”, etc.  But, if all of these people keep pounding on the table and stating over and over its a Violation of their Human Rights, it makes it slowly harder for them to chip away.  It removes the wall between the gays and the women and the minorities and the atheists and the nones and all the rest.  Its a Violation of Human Rights.  Period.  And the Violations need to stop.  Now.  Erase the lines and grab the common thread.  Because we all want the same thing.  Basic. Human. Rights.

Paving the Road Towards Theocracy

church-and-state“The Government of the United States is not in any sense founded upon the Christian Religion.” 1797, The Treaty of Tripoli, initiated by President Washington, signed by President John Adams, and approved by the Senate of the United States

From the beginning, our Founding Fathers were adamant about the separation of church and state.  Not just the agnostic ones, not just the questionably atheist ones, but all of them.  Not because they were against religion, not because they wanted to suppress people’s religious rights, not because they wanted to wage war on Christmas.  But, because they were truly wise men who understood that there needed to be a clear and distinct line drawn between the two.  They understood that history has always shown that Theocracies to be the most oppressive forms of government.

Currently, almost all of the existent theocracies are Islamic with the exception being The Vatican City being Christian/Catholic.  But, those are enough to paint a picture of the consequences of such governments in the modern world.  In history, you have the Mayans, the Egyptian Pharaohs, China, and the divine rule of Europe.  Every one of these governments is a horror show of elitism, bloodshed, slavery, torture and subjugation of its people.

For even in a country where there is a shared religion, quite often there are still variations on those religions, areas of disagreement, application, fundamentalism.  And it is predominately in the realm of fundamentalism that things can get taken to the extreme.  The word itself defines taking those religious texts to their literal extremes.  And any delusions that a Christian theocracy would be any less oppressive shows that one is not listening to the political demands of the Religious Right or any true reading of the scriptures.  Since so many of them are so fond of quoting laws of Leviticus, it would be suggested that one’s research begin there.  I doubt Shariah law can hold a candle to the laws in this book.  Leviticus prohibits eating fat, eating blood, touching an unclean animal, bringing unauthorized fire before god (which begs the question, where does one get fire authorization from?), drinking alcohol in holy places (so much for Catholics), having sex with your mother, sister, granddaughter, etc. (well, there are some that make sense).  It is from this same set of laws/rules that they draw their anti-gay rhetoric from.  It also acknowledges life to begin when it has breathed life.  In the womb, the bible only treats it as a property loss and subject to such penalties if lost in an act of violence.

The beliefs of our founding fathers have been the subject of debate for as long as I can remember.  It is known that at least 1/3 of the signers of our Constitution were Masons, a secret fraternity whose origins could be traced to the church, but also with magic and secret rituals.  Reading many of the writings of the founding fathers does cast much illumination on their beliefs.  Some of these men were strongly religious, and yet others were one step removed from atheism, if they were not in silent embrace of it.  Simply read the writings of Jefferson (a man who created his own bible by removing all the supernatural passages from the new Testament and clipping it down to what he believed were the essential teachings of Jesus.  In truth, many of the founding fathers spoke and wrote in words that showed their staunch position regarding the complete separation of church and state.     Although none of the founding fathers were out of the closet atheists, or even agnostic, the writings of many of them shows that many of them almost certainly were.

“I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.” ~~ Thomas Jefferson – Letter to the Danbury Baptists, January 1, 1802

Regardless of whether they were Christian, Atheist or anything between those, the fact remains that they held the universal belief in the absolute separation between church and state, the free exercise of religion, all religions and no religion, to belong to the individual and to have no place in the government of a free republic.  Even the most Christian president this country has had, Jimmy Carter, believes that there should be a clear and distinct separation between church and state.

And even granting that there has always been debate as to the meaning of the text of the first amendment, that it does not explicitly call out a wall between Church and State, the Supreme Court has always found on what is obvious of the intent of the authors, that there should be a separation.  That you cannot have the free exercise of religion, regardless of religion, if that separation does not exist.  And that said exercise is an individual right, not a state or government right.

And the problem with allowing that line to blur, to fall into question, opens the door to insert religious morality and laws into the government.  The Comstock laws of the Victorian period in this country were so restrictive that even medical texts that showed nudity or the reproductive organs were deemed to be lewd and pornographic.  Most people would find most of these to be ridiculous.  But, what many don’t understand is that these laws are still on the books.  The saving grace has been the Miller Test by the Supreme Court for determining if something can be considered to be “pornography”.  Because this is a subjective test based on who is seated on the court and the lawmakers in power, what is currently allowed as freedom of the press, art, freedom of expression can be quickly changed.  In fact, there have been politicians running for as high as the office of the president that have vowed to enforce the anti-pornography laws on the books.  Those laws are the Comstock laws.

Move forward to the McCarthy era where hundreds of people were questioned and suspect for being “communist sympathizers”, mostly artists and people in the film industry.  Yet, like all true persecutions, anyone that was an annoyance to those behind this witch hunt could find themselves under scrutiny.  One of the results of this period was the addition of “In God We Trust” on our money and “Under God” added to the pledge of allegiance.  Prior to these proceedings in the early 1950’s, these words did not appear on our currency or in the pledge.  And we have now allowed them to be so firmly ingrained in those that most people believe they have always been there.  Even more so, they believe that a person is a traitor if they refrain from speaking the added line, threatening a kid in school for it and taken disciplinary action against them.

“Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.” ~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814

Enter the current time and we have politicians not just espousing their religious beliefs as supposedly guiding them, but making statements that this country was founded on Christian principles and is a Christian nation.   They strive to insert god into the classroom, teach religious doctrine as science and deny any science that interferes with their goals.  And they take it to levels of absurdity that makes one wonder how any sane person can buy what they are selling.  There is the congressman who says that climate change can’t happen because humans can’t change what god created, a rape pregnancy is a “blessing from god”, homosexuals should be put to death, etc.  They have granted religious rights to for profit corporations, seek to legalize discrimination, just to name a few of  their latest trends.

“Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all religions established by law.”  ~~ Thomas Paine – The Rights of Man, 1791-1792

Keeping the bible out of politics, out of our government is not a war on Christianity.  The truth is that it is as supportive of Christianity as it is for all religions.  In fact it is tantamount to having freedom.  Our constitution was not based on the bible, as has often been said.  Yet, we find ourselves being herded further and further into the pen of a theocracy.  Even in the face of the statistics that state that fewer and fewer people consider themselves religious.  Yet, it seems they are still afraid of having that non-believer finger pointed at them and step in line.  Our politicians now go out of their way to espouse their religious convictions, denying science, promising to uphold bigotry, intolerance and greater separation of the classes.  With each election, it seems we are stepping one step closer to that Theocracy.

“The civil government … functions with complete success … by the total separation of the Church from the State.”
James Madison ~ Writings, 1819

Keeping religion out of government does not in any way restrict or prohibit anyone’s religious freedom.  It, in fact, is the only way to protect those freedoms.  We may or may not agree with all that a secularist government protects, but it protects on the basis of personal freedom, common sense and the inclusion of all of its members.  Its what the Founding Fathers intended.  And it works brilliantly until we attempt to tamper with its mechanisms.  For the reality is, if there is not freedom for all, there truly is not freedom for any.

I believe “their” words could not be any clearer.

“If I could conceive that the general government might ever be so administered as to render the liberty of conscience insecure, I beg you will be persuaded, that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution.”
George Washington ~~ Letter to the United Baptist Chamber of Virginia, May 1789

SephiPiderWitch 01/05/2015



Our Bodies Are No Longer Our’s To Own

uterusI actually had quite a few other things that I had planned on working on today.   And then I saw the news of the latest Supreme Court decision.  To be honest, I can’t say that I am surprised at the decision.  I rather expected it.  The many decisions leading up to this one, each one chipping away at our basic human rights, voices and liberties.  And this one, even in the face of the sheer hypocrisy of the company that took the suit all the way to the justices.

We, the women of this country, can be refused coverage for contraception based on the professed beliefs of our bosses, even if the organization is not a religious institution.  Because the “rights” of a company trump the rights of an individual. However, a great deal of the responsibility for this decision I believe falls on the heads of the citizens of this country.

The outcry wasn’t loud enough, it held far too few voices and wasn’t backed by the outcome at the polls.  It takes a protest on a far grander scale than any we have seen in some decades here.  It was protests of such a scale that garnered us those rights that were lost today.  Rights that have been slowly stripped away from us for the past number of years.  The women seem to have lost focus on the true impact of what these decisions mean to the freedoms women have come to enjoy.  As the old adage goes, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

You know?  This isn’t an issue of whether or not you use birth control.  This isn’t about whether you would ever choose to have an abortion or not.  This isn’t about whether you want to be a career woman or a stay at home mother.  This is about basic human rights, basic respect given to an intelligent, conscious human capable of making decisions about your health, your choices and the right to keep those choices private.  As such they should be.  Your employer should have no more right to dictate something out of your health insurance any more than they should have the right to dictate how you my spend the paycheck they give you.  It is part of your compensation package that you should be able to use as you see fit.

It truly is humiliating to realize that we are now, as women, faced with having to obtain permission to be granted a medical prescription.  We must shut ourselves in with them and tell them of the private, possibly embarrassing details of our bodies to get their permission to obtain medication to alleviate painful and debilitating conditions.  To tell them that our menstruations are irregular and we need this medication to bring them under control.  And those that just want the simple ability to decide when to, or if to, become a mother, well, you are on your own for that one.

Not to fear though! Those same restrictions do not apply to the medications to aid men suffering from ED.  They will still be covered for their Viagra, Cialis, etc.  They will even be covered for their vasectomies.  So, a man’s choice of sexual and reproductive freedom is not, has never been and never will be under question.  They don’t even need to have a sit down heart to heart with their boss to explain why they need it.

I remember an incident a couple of years ago before the presidential election a response I got on something I said on Facebook.  I don’t remember what the specific topic was, though I am sure it had to do with my either expressing my support of the Democratic candidates if for no other reason than their support of women’s and LGBT rights.  A man who was a friend of the friend that made the initial post told me that, and I quote, “You women need to quit voting with your uteruses and not be so afraid to take a step in the kitchen once in a while.” Well, you know?  Women comprise 50.8% of the population. Control of our uterus is critical to our ability to succeed in the world.  It is critical to our ability to have the freedom to choose the life and education and chance at a decent income.  Things that men take for granted.  All they need is have the desire and initiative.  A woman can have all the desire and initiative in the world, but if she doesn’t have the right to control her reproductive capabilities, she could lack the means to act on those dreams.

The actual truth is that abortion is at its lowest point in decades.  Teenage pregnancy is also at its lowest levels.  That is, with the exception of a handful of Southern States where it has been made difficult to obtain access and education to reproductive choices.  Young women are entering Colleges and Universities in record numbers.  And they are also graduating in record numbers.  They are breaking barriers and changing the landscape in virtually every area.  Granted, they are still somewhat held back in certain fields.  The old boy’s club doesn’t give up easily.  But, one of the critical things that has made possible for the numbers that are breaking through these walls and barriers is this ability to control and regulate our reproductive health.

We, as women, spend our entire lives with a stacked deck against us.  We are judged by our looks, how we dress, how we carry ourselves.  There is a different vocabulary of words used toward us, about us; negative words to the positive counterpart to the same behaviors in men.  Everywhere we turn, society, and corporations in particular, are looking for a way to excuse not letting us take any further steps forward.  Or demonizing us for the ones we have.  We slept our way to the top, its a good thing we have our looks to rely on. Even Hillary Clinton was challenged in the media lately when it came out that she was about to be a Grandmother.  How can she expect to be considered a candidate with a grandchild?  It doesn’t matter if you like Hillary or not, its about the fact that no such questioning would arise if she was a man about to become a Grandfather.  In fact, it has NEVER been a question in that situation.

Take all of that into consideration as you determine how critical you now think it to be for a woman to control her reproductive health? Then we have the issue of religion.  Should an employer have the right to impose their religious beliefs on their employees?  That is a terrifying can of worms for anyone to open.  Because, if you allow that for one, you must allow it for all.  Because you cannot ONLY give this right to one belief of one religion;  correction, demonination of that religion (the misspell began as legit and decided it should stay).

Add to this equation the fact that roughly 12% of the hospitals in this country are owned by the Catholic Church.  So, you now have a Supreme Court ruling that says an organization’s religious/moral belief can dictate what you can and can’t have.  You currently have 12% and growing of the hospitals in the country that are owned by a church that is anti-birth control, abortion, gay, and any belief other than their own.  As it is, if you go to a Catholic hospital, you are subject to the Bishops laws, regardless of your beliefs or instructions.  Some of those are:

The Bishops’ Directives forbid: •    Contraception •    Vasectomies and tubal ligation •    Abortion under any circumstances, including an ectopic pregnancy, which is a life-threatening condition •    Most fertility treatments •    IVF •    New treatments (e.g., for Parkinsons or Juvenile Diabetes) that make use of embryonic stem cells •    Any participation or referrals for patients who want to exercise their legal rights under Death with Dignity laws   The Bishops’ Directives require: •    tube feeding in the case of a persistent, vegetative coma (similar to Terri Schiavo) regardless of any Advance Directive to the contrary •    Employees to override patients’ Advanced Directives if they conflict with the Bishops’ Moral code – See more at: http://states.secular.org/states/washington/post/impact-catholic-hospitals-acquiring-secular-ones#sthash.aVVpJm5k.dpuf

Getting a bit nervous yet?  We’ll save my rant about how it won’t matter if you have legalized gay marriage in your state.  They won’t allow you at the deathbed of your spouse because their moral rights trump your legal rights.  Good grief!  They burned at least tens of thousands of people for their beliefs.

Right now, I want to scream, I want to pound my fists violently on a table top.  More than anything else, I want to shake the living shit out of all the women who have not been taking this seriously, who have been too busy to be bothered by it, who didn’t believe they could get away with it.  I want to scream at them, “Do you have any idea what we went through to get you those rights?  Did you think they came without sweat and blood?  Women died for the rights you are taking for granted.  They have been humiliated, abused, degraded, beaten, ostracized.  Did you think just because you had them, they couldn’t be taken away?  Well, wake up time little girls!  If you don’t hold tight onto those rights, they will grab them away in a heartbeat.  They just did.  And they are doing so every . . . . . single . . . . day!  It doesn’t matter if you don’t believe in abortion.  It doesn’t matter if you want a family and don’t need contraception . . . . now.  It doesn’t even matter if you call yourself a Christian.  What matters is that you have had the right to make a decision for yourself taken from you.  You have allowed a hypocritical company take away decisions that are personal, your’s and that only belong being discussed with your doctor.  Its a damned pain to have to keep such a tight hold on the rights when you get them.  But, its a whole lot harder to get them back once you lose them.  And they ain’t done yet.   Its your body ladies.  We used to be owned.  Is that what you want again? No?  So then its about time you young ladies get off your asses and start fighting. ”

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SephiPiderWitch 06/30/2014

Don’t Take Your Guns To Town!

RifleEnough! I mean it, enough already! Enough shootings, enough deaths, enough with the gun slinging propaganda police waltzing into diners with rifles slung across their backs and sides, through parks while children are playing, through the toy aisles in stores, leaving stray guns in their passing. Enough of your bellyaching and yelling about “your” rights! Enough of your fear and hate speech about how no one is going to take your guns from you. Enough about the only rights that hold any meaning at all to you is the one to hold that cold piece of steel in your hands. Enough already!

I have some news for you, for all of you. You are NOT the only ones that have rights! You are not the only ones that have rights that should be protected and respected. It is NOT just about you! We live here too. And I don’t care how powerful your NRA is. I don’t care how many guns you have collected, stored, saved ammunition for. I am not going to be intimidated by you! Because all you are is a bunch of bullies. A bunch of snotty nosed, tantrum throwing, want to control everyone who doesn’t agree with you bunch of bullies.

I see picture after picture of these people converging on restaurants, stores, parks, playgrounds.  This is not standing up for your right to own guns.  This is slapping your dick on a counter and saying, lookit that, ain’t I a man?  Well, I have news for you.  No, you are not.  A man (and I use this collectively for the women that are participating in these displays as well) A man does not need to prove himself.  He doesn’t need to beat his chest and wave his wanger at the church quilt circle.  He doesn’t need to strut his “piece” around a children’s baseball game, scaring parents, children and spectators.  Because that is what all these displays are.  A bunch of insecure, spineless jerks who think that their gun gives them the right to do whatever they want, wherever they want, no matter what anyone else thinks or feels.  To strut down the baby aisle of a store!  Does that make you a man?  Is that what you think? Well, you are wrong.  Just makes you a bully.

And no, I don’t hold this belief on every person who owns a gun. I happen to support the second amendment. I just don’t happen to think that the second amendment is about who has the biggest arsenal, the biggest gun, the fastest. I don’t think its a blanket free for all.  Its about having the right to responsibly own a weapon for protection or survival. And as with all rights, there should be checks and balances.

The first amendment grants you the right to free speech.  Yet, there are limits to that.  You are not allowed to endanger the lives of other by yelling fire or bomb in an airport or train station.  You are not allowed to incite a violent riot.  You are not allowed to libel or slander.  You are not allowed to distribute or have child pornography, etc.  Basically, you must be responsible in your use of free speech. The right to own a gun also comes with responsibility and safeguards and respect. And that includes responsibility for how your behavior impacts others.  And I believe it should come with at least the same responsibilities and proof of knowledge that driving a car has.  You should have a background check.  You should have to pass a test that shows you know how to properly and safely operate it.  It should be licensed.  There should be a title transfer anytime it is sold with the same requirements.  There are actually a number of other things in life that I think should also come with the same requirements, like having children, but that’s another topic.

It almost seems that since the predictions so many of them made a few years ago that the government was trying to take their guns from them, their aggressiveness and public displays have grown.  Almost as if they are trying to force their prediction into reality.  Its like a losing game that they are getting more and more desperate at trying to win.  “Wait!  They didn’t take our guns over that?  Well, maybe if we try this and when the outcry happens we can point and say, see?  They are trying to take our guns away.  They are trying to mess with our second amendment rights.”  But, I have news for all of you.  I am willing to put my wages on a bet that when that amendment was placed in our constitution, it was never meant as the ability to make a public display of yourself and intimidate others and make them feel less safe.  And if you are really so very insecure that you need to parade your “weapons” at Chili’s and the Target toy aisle, then maybe you should look to a support group or try one of the many drug therapy regiments now available to people with anger management issues.

I do indeed hold many of the bully gun owners/toters at least partially responsible for much of the gun violence that has happened. Their blatant brandishment of their weapons and arrogant disregard for the discomfort and feelings of others inspires and justifies the sick minds that the checks of civilized people no longer applies, and therefore gives them “permission” to pull away the stops they have in place. Additionally, it creates and feeds a mob personality that so many people easily fall prey to.

Another common thread I seem to see surfacing over and over and over in these enthusiast groups is their claim to Christianity.  Now, I am at best a heathen who is bordering on feelings of atheism.  My distaste for the word “Christian” grows with every incident, every outburst, every threat of taking all of us “Libtards” out.  With each of these outbursts, you solidify my belief of the sheer hypocrisy that seems to go hand in hand with the word “Christian”.  For the word means to emulate Christ.  Toting guns, making threats of violence, upsurgence, intolerance and hatred is the antithesis of “Christlike behavior”.  I believe that Christ, like our founding fathers are all turning over in their respective graves at their names being used to support the actions of these people.  And for the record, I have read the bible.  I have read it a number of times.  And everything I read shows Christ to be a pacifist, a socialist and a gentle soul.  To be honest, I am really seeing nothing in many of the “Christian’s”  that emulated any of these.  And I won’t accept that “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven” bullshit.  Because you have to at least TRY.  And you aren’t even putting in the tiniest bit of effort.  So, at least drop the false nametag and pick up the right one.  “Bully”

But not to worry, it is not just the Bully Gang I point my finger of blame at.  I also hold our government and police partially responsible for much of this. For it is they who have allowed domestic terrorists to launch a standoff over the theft of the use of government lands and then allowed them to walk away without any penalty. By doing so, they have sent a message to the public that if you show a sufficient level of force, there will be no repercussions for your actions. And that standoff was without a doubt an act of terrorism. And it fed the mental instabilities of others.

Another day, another shooting. And with each new incident, it seems that yet another state responds not by seeking rational gun legislation, but by making it even more lax. People strolling into playgrounds, churches, toy stores, schools with semi-automatic guns strapped over their shoulders and across their backs. Guns in holsters that they make a point of moving their jackets aside to parade around the area before finding a place to sit. Indifferent or belligerent to anyone that looks at them.

A shooting at a university because he couldn’t get a date.  And where was the outcry?  Much of it was against women for not being more submissive.  Empathy for this animal!  Even on a so called news station.

Incident in Chili’s?  Initially, even the NRA said that was over the line.  Alas, they have retracted that.  A moment of lucidity that vanished as soon as it surfaced.

I have seen pictures of Mexican drug lords and gangs who look much like the punks storming through public places in their testosterone fest.  I believe there have been 5 mass shootings in the past week.  I can do the math here.  I hold these people at least partially responsible.  I hold the police that didn’t prosecute the terrorists in Nevada partially responsible.  I hold the government that keeps stepping back.

My country is NOT a drug cartel!  It is NOT under the rule of Boko Haram!  It is NOT any of the many places where rogue bands go through towns terrorizing.  And I would appreciate it if someone takes these insufferable brat’s toys away before too many more people get hurt or killed!

I was always taught as a little girl that respect is something that needs to be earned.  You earn that respect by how you carry your life, your actions, your treatment of those around you.  You wipe your shoes off before entering someone’s home (or take them off if that is “their” custom), say please, thank you, respect the rules of the house you enter, hitch your britches up, run a comb through your hair and don’t take your guns to town.  Cuz if there ain’t a war going on, you don’t need them there.  And I can assure you, there is no need of them in the baby aisle of Target, at the dinner table in Chili’s or in the church (unless, of course, it is next to the graveyard where you have confirmed evidence the zombie apocalypse will begin.  And you might want to call that special squad of the military to assist you in that event).  Just sayin’.

SephiPiderWitch 06/09/2014

In God We Hate


I shouldn’t be surprised with the news these last months, weeks.  I was a child of the 60’s.  I lived through the time of desegregation.  I spent two of my father’s stations in rural Georgia.  And I was raised by a woman who followed the crazy fundamentalist hate mongers of which many are still spewing their vitriol while holding out their hands for your meager dollars, threatening damnation if you don’t take it out of the mouths of your children to give to them.  I’ve been to many a Bother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show.  I’ve heard it, read it, had it beat upside my head, and screamed into my ears through all of my formative years.  I’ve seen racism up front, looking at the bloodied face of the neighbor caught walking down the street with his white girlfriend.  Have felt rejection and hatred of being found unworthy for not believing as I was expected, as those around me did.  And yet . . . .

They tell us that God is love.  That only God can judge.  That one should love one’s neighbor.  Jesus taught that we teach by living our lives by our belief.  We are taught that he died for our sins and all the laws of the old testament were no longer necessary because of his sacrifice.

So, that means we can now eat pork.  We can wear fabric from mixed fibers.  All those hundreds of laws no longer need to be memorized, adhered to, punishments noted, applied, held out for all to witness.  We can now concentrate on what we were told to be Jesus’ message.  To love.  To care for each other.  To treat all as our brothers, sisters.  To know that unless we have lived without blemish, we have no right to judge another.

Now, I am not a Christian.  That got beat out of me, screamed out of me, hypocrisied (don’t care if its not a real word, it should be) out of me far too many years ago.  But, I can respect the honorable teachings of the religion.  And it amazes me how I, heretic, non-believer, borderline atheist can understand the messages of Jesus and his followers can not.

I am also a firm believer in the 1st Amendment right to freedom of speech, including freedom of thought.  I believe that everybody has the right to fill their minds and their hearts with as much hatred as they wish to.  I believe they have the right to look at their neighbors and their family that don’t meet the mold they set before them and decide they are less than human, a monster, a pariah.  They have the right to wish them ill in their hearts.  We all have that right.  But, some of us realize there are much better places to invest our energy than in hating family that doesn’t meet our standards, hating our neighbors, hating strangers.  That life is much more enjoyable when you spend it doing things that make you happy than in doing things to make others feel pain.

However, what is different, what is so very frightening right now is the flood of hate speech, hate law attempts, hate politics that are in the air waves, on our news feeds and moving through our legislatures.  There are currently at least half a dozen states attempting to pass laws that allow for legal discrimination, claiming it is an issue of religious rights.  There are even more that have either passed or in constant submission on women’s reproductive rights, again citing the religious rights of a company.

Now, I am aware of the absurd ruling on Citizen’s United.  That really, really needs to be overturned.  A company is NOT, has never been and will never be a person.  It is populated with people, run by people and owned by people.  And each of those persons have a right, a vote, a voice.  And there is a very obscure chance that the entire population of a corporation could vote unanimously on an issue, but I would guess even that would be unlikely at astronomical odds. A corporation is not a citizen, it is not a living breathing entity with individual thought. One of the great absurdities of this is that it is communism at its most perverted state, the hive mentality, the Borg. Not to mention hypocrisy at the extreme. For as it screams that social programs for the individual is socialism and should be opposed, it is attempting to say that it has the right to make the decisions for the people. The right to decide which people are worthy to be allowed into the hive. The rest will be left out to starve and die.

The politicians are quoting ancient and even by biblical standards, irrelevant passages to defend their claims, to rally their forces. But, if they were to truly abiding the rules of their “holy book”, the passages no longer apply. They were negated when their son of God was executed on the cross and all sins forgiven. And if they are to resurrect the old testament, they must do so wholly. They cannot eat pork and wear their designer blended fabrics and condemn homosexuality. They cannot elect women to power. There are hundreds of things they cannot do if they wish to bring back the old.

Hate is admittedly one of the most powerful unifying forces. One has only to look at history to know this to be fact. Create an enemy, dress it in the costume of “different”, give it a victim that you must protect from its evil intents and the people will flock to the cause in hordes. Draw that line of separation, darken it, deepen it, build on it. Stoke the fire till it becomes an inferno and turn it loose. Don’t worry about the deaths, the horrors that follow from it. Use them to feed the cause of hate. There is no need to worry about logic. Fevered hate will burn away any trace of logic or reason.

And the hate machine is now out of control. I have lived through seeing what this kind of hate can do when it becomes law. Sadly, it appears I may have to live through seeing that happen again.

One Year Forward, Fifty Years Back

One Year Forward - Fifty Years BackAlas, it appears that we are to ring in the New Year with a step to the past. For just before the clocks moved into the midnight hour, the Supreme Court halted a mandate granting a woman the right to contraception coverage under her insurance. In essence, the Supreme Court has deemed the claimed “moral” recognition of religious institutions to trump a woman’s individual right to govern her own life and body.

I think on this and there are a great many ways this whole thing can be argued. One can argue the unfairness that there is no other area in which a company or institution has the right to dictate individual freedom of one’s own person. But, it must also be made clear that this applies solely to the female of our species. No such mandate exists limiting the coverage of medications or procedures that affect a man’s sexual performance, viability or freedom. Men do not have to prove the reason they need any medication that can be an aid or limit to virility. They don’t need the permission of their employer. They don’t need to check with the hospital moral codes. If their doctor sees fit to hand them the prescription, that is all they need to obtain their pills. And the assurance that their insurance will cover it.

There is so much irony in this massive effort to restrict the rights of women in such a way. Most of the money and fight has come from the same groups of people that have cried foul at every attempt to restrict any limit on such areas as gun ownership, even the most reasonable ones of simple background checks. I actually find this concept very disturbing. The right to own an instrument of destruction is a personal right, yet the right of a woman to control her body are dismissed by those same courts as secondary to the wishes of the corporation that signs her paycheck or the hospital that accepts the funds from her insurance, even if it covers her prescription.

I wrote a piece on this same thing last year called the Company Store. It is still the best example I can think of from the viewpoint of an employer’s stand on this. In no other area would we sit quietly by and allow our employer to dictate to us how we can or cannot spend our compensation for our work. The primary win that was achieved with Roe vs. Wade was in my eyes, the right that my medical decisions are between me and my doctor. That if my doctor agrees with and is in compliance with my decision, that is all that matters. If my insurance covers birth control for any disorder or condition, then that medication is covered. To ask an employee, patient to petition or give notice or request permission from their employer or pharmacy or hospital the exact reason a covered medication is being prescribed is a violation of their rights to privacy. If one were asked to make such pleas for any other covered expenditure would start a firestorm of patient rights violations. It is a violation not only of one’s medical history, but also of one’s sex life. Neither of which are anyone’s business but the individual’s.

We pay into our insurance, whether it be direct payment to the insurance company, partial payment through our employer with the balance being part of our compensation package. And that compensation package is just as much a part of our “pay” as our paycheck. Once earned, it is ours to do with as we wish. To spend in whatever means we desire. We can buy what food we want, patronize what stores we wish, engage in what entertainment we prefer. And worship any God we wish or even none if that is our choice.

And where do the rights of the hospitals and the business owners fall in all of this? I believe that religious groups do have some rights, but those rights are restricted to within their religious community. That when they venture out into the secular community and engage with that community, they can hold to their beliefs so long as they do not extend them to restricting the rights of those they serve. If a hospital owned by a church accepts government subsidies and grants, contracts from private insurance companies, then they must accept that they are treating the secular community that may or may not hold to the same morals as they do. Only if they close their doors to all but their own congregates, receive no funds aside from their church can they hold any argument to those rights.

Then it needs to be taken to the next level. If allowed to refuse to administer birth control because it is against their “belief”, what is next? The gay man with AIDS they feel is an abomination? Any person of a different belief, lifestyle, color? There was a time when they could make such distinctions in whom they treated, and how they were treated. Its one of those things the Civil Rights Movement fought so hard to change. And now we are allowing a backward step.

Medicine is governed by science and belongs in the hands of science, not religion. Women have moved forward these last decades because science has allowed them the freedom to choose when to have children. It has given them the chance to hold off, get their degree, find their place in the world. And the result is that the wage gap has decreased. There are fewer teenage pregnancies where options are easy access. They graduate high school, college in record numbers. They have grown stronger, smarter, better equipped. Women have fought probably the longest battle to independence. Are still fighting it. We have shed blood, blood from the fights and blood as only women can shed. We alone have earned the right to decide the matters of our body.

The realm of religion is the church. Preach it there, live it there, teach it there. It belongs no where else.


When the Smoke Clears


Burning-houseWhen the Smoke Clears


The Boston Marathon bombing, the gunning down of small children, a stabbing rampage on a campus, shootings at malls, in homes. The stories just don’t seem to stop coming, making you want to crawl into some dark corner of your room and just withdraw from this race that each day starts to seem less and less human. Often times, we convince ourselves that we are living in the worst of times. And we buy into the feeling of hopelessness and despair that comes with it.


But, I think the biggest area that we often err is in listening too much to the doomsayers, the blamers, the media hype. We listen to them. Its rather hard not to. They are everywhere. On the front page, on the talk radio, on the websites we pull up. They shout loudly, pointing fingers of blame, offering their reasons why this tragedy proves we are doomed. Its the fault of the right, the left, the gays, the feminists, the muslims, the christians, the pagans. Its an utter and complete breakdown in society and it is time we wake up and do something about it.


But. If we turn our head just a little in the other direction to the spot where the smoke is clearing, we begin to see some movements. People rushing into the danger zone to help a total stranger. People running to the hospital to give blood after the finish line. People opening their doors to give a stranger a place to sleep. Restaurants handing out free meals. Stores handing out free supplies. People just simply caring and doing what is right, quietly, tirelessly. Not for fanfare, not to send a message. Just simply because it needs to be done. Simply because when the smoke is clearing, it doesn’t matter if you are right or left, christian or pagan, gay or straight. You just need help. And the vast numbers that rush in to lend that help show that as troubled a race as we are, we are also one of courage and beauty.


When the smoke begins to clear, we need to stop looking at where the spotlight shines, but instead look at what is stepping quietly from the clouds of smoke. We are not living in the worst of times. We are simply living in one of the many bumps in time.


The Eve of 2013

2013_starsToday is the eve of 2013. Thirteen is such an auspicious number. I cannot but believe that it shall bode well for the coming year ahead. It is the number of the moons that travel the sky through the course of the year. We get but one 13th year in each century. And it also comes on the tail end of a century that has left the teens behind. That makes it a mature and well established thirteen.

But, there are many that feel that thirteen is a number that bodes of bad luck, dire happenings and evil and malignant intents. So feared is this number that it has earned its own phobia, Triskaidekaphobia. Buildings are made without a 13th floor, though I wonder how they can pull that one off. you can’t just rename a floor a level number other than what it is. Counting would surely prove that one out. So, does the architect build in a mini floor or a solid floor that is sealed from use? Thirteen turns in a traditional hangman’s noose. It is the count of the witches as they gather around the cauldron deep in the woods stirring spells into the night.

In thinking on this, it makes the year leading up to this point make more sense. Those that have been opening their arms to welcome the magic of the thirteenth year and those that huddled in fear, wrapping themselves in their bible blanket and loading the chambers in their arms. The prophecies of the apocalypse running head to head with those of the advent of peace.

It is happening already across the miles around the world, making its way to this end of the world. The world survived the doomsday, proved the dire misreadings wrong. The old still hangs on to what threads it can, wraps them around to tie the known into place. But, thirteen is the disruption, the gate. The end of a teen and beginning of a new. The twisting apart and separating.

I have no doubt that it will be a rough year. The old do not give up their ghosts and their ways very easily. But, I believe it will also be quite entertaining as the new tries on its new dancing shoes and takes the universe for a spin. So many cycles changing in all the cultures in the world. The year shall be a spinning, whirling dervish dance that willing or not, we will all be caught up in. It will be a memorable time for all if you keep an open mind and a playful heart. The Mother’s been needing a good hoedown for a while now.

So, let us pick up our paintbrushes, our crayons, our dancing shoes and our marching batons. The passions and wonders of the new adolescence is about to open the door. It is time for the parents to go to their rooms and new things to be created. Welcome to you, lucky Thirteen! May your awakening leave our lives beautifully adorned!