Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I <3 Amanda Peet

The very first blog post I wrote (on MySpace of all places) was inspired by Jenny McCarthy and her idiocy regarding vaccination. The driver, as I recall, was a story I read regarding the increased incidence of measles outbreaks. Now another public figure has stepped up to take the counterpoint. Amanda Peet has offered her visage to help educate the public on the importance of vaccination.

This may be old news for some, but I think it's important to keep it out there because Jenny McCarthy just keeps pumping out the stupidity. Also, NPR did a nice segment last week talking about this very subject. What I took away from the NPR story was this:
But Peet says parents shouldn't look to her as a scientific expert. She defers scientific questions to Offit, who directs the Vaccine Education Center at Children's Hospital.

Wow. Deferring to experts on the subject. Maybe Jenny should take a few lessons.

Be well


Friday, December 12, 2008

I feel special today

It's been quite a week.  First, someone flagged my blog (I'm so proud).  And now, Ray Comfort deep-sixed one of my comments. 

This calls for a drink...

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A sincere mea culpa

I think when you are wrong, the direct approach is the best.  So to that end, I want to apologize for my last post on the FFRF sign in the Washington State Capitol.  After reviewing that post, it clearly has a whiney, "look at how mean the christians are" tone.  When I wrote it, it seemed justifiable; but after reading Martin's post over at the Atheist Experience, I realize that it is FFRF's sign that is the issue.  It reads in part, "Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds."  Whatever my belief regarding the accuracy of that message, this the wrong venue and the wrong time to deliver it.  At a time when the prevailing opinion is that christmas is under attack, to put up a sign that aggressively denigrates the opposing position is counterproductive and mean spirited.

So I say to my christian friends, celebrate the birth of your saviour; and to everyone regardless of your faith, enjoy your families, be good to each other, practice charity and kindness, and have a very merry christmas.

Be Well,


Friday, December 5, 2008

FFRF Sign Stolen

FFRF seems to be getting a lot of push back lately.  First the billboard in Rancho Cucamonga, now it appears someone has taken issue with atheists having equal time in the Washington State Capitol.  The placard that was placed in the Capitol Building as equal representation to a nativity scene vanished, only to be turned in later to a local radio station.  Apparently, a passerby found the large, heavy placard laying in a ditch.  There is no clear explanation as to how someone could have spirited it out of the building unnoticed, but the police are said to be reviewing surveillance videos.

I'm not surprised.  There is a trend here.  

Christians, though, seem to be surprised when we point out that:
  • People were celebrating the winter solstice as a natural holiday for millennia before christmas came along
  • Jews, you know those "pre-christians," were celebrating Chanukah, the festival of lights too.
  • There is no evidence to suggest that Jesus was born anywhere near the winter solstice. Celebrating his birthday at that time was a clever way to co-opt what was already a celebratory time for early pagans.
  • Christmas is a relatively recent invention and the christmas tree was once a forbidden symbol by early christians due to its pagan roots.
So when we demand equal time, please don't tell us we're taking the christ out of christmas.  We're just reminding people that "the reason for the season" is a quirky combination of the earth's revolution on its axis, its elliptical orbit around the sun, and a slight tilt of the axis with respect to that orbit.  That's it.  

Be Well


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

It's funny what some people find offensive.

I am a member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the country's largest group of freethinkers.  One stated purpose of this organization is as watchdog over church/state separation issues.  So I find the following story quite ironic. is reporting that it's first billboard to go up in California was taken down after less that one week despite the fact that they had pre-paid for 2 months of time.  You can see the billboard above at its short-lived location in Rancho Cucamonga, located in Southern California's lovely Inland Empire.  Details are sketchy as to exactly the sequence of events, but apparently the city received complaints about the billboard and decided to contact the billboard company owner to see how it could be taken down.  It may be that a single city employee was the driver behind the effort.  Either way, FFRF has filed suit against the city for unlawfully interfering with free expression.  I can't express the basic sentiment of the suit any better than what is written in the filing.
"The principal function of free speech under our system of government is to invite dispute, and such speech may best serve its purpose when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions are (sic) they are, or even stirs people to anger.

"The bedrock principle underlying the scope of the free speech protection of the First Amendment is that government officials may not interfere with the expression of an idea simply because some persons allegedly consider the idea offensive or disagreeable to their views."
Of course, the local news stations covered the "controversial" billboard and interviewed with local residents.  One common theme heard in some of the interviews was the idea that the billboard should be taken down because it is offensive.  

First of all, I'm not sure why someone would be offended by this billboard.  It is simply suggesting that maybe without the petty sectarian differences incited by religious beliefs, there might be more common ground for dialogue.  Personally I believe that without religion people would find some other criteria for creating in-group and out-group thinking.  Irrespective of my opinion, this is not a particularly offensive message.  What is offensive are the billboards I see throughout the country that tell me that I, regardless of how good a person I might be, will be immersed in fire to suffer eternally for not bowing down the favored sky fairy of this particular country.  How rude.

Secondly, why would anyone think that they are entitled to be shielded from speech that they disagree with?  The very fundamental founding principles of this country ensure that they will be exposed.  As difficult as it is to hear someone deny that evolution is one of the most solidly established scientific theories that exists, I would never deny anyone the right to make such a claim and to pronounce it from the highest mountain (edit: as long as that mountain isn't in a science classroom).  

Ultimately, I think Rancho Cucamonga may have bitten off more than they can chew.  In essence they have challenged the one group in the US that has the most experience litigating state/church issues (all the way to SCOTUS).  I look forward to the resolution and will let you know as things develop.

Be Well