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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Perfect Shit-Storm: Race, Guns, Gays and Chik-Fil-A

Given the amount of public uproar lately on numerous different topics, I am proud to see that people are able to exercise some of the rights that are currently left to us.  We have the right to be wrong.  We have the right to be assholes.  We have the right to express our outrage over people being assholes.  We have the right to support the asshole of our choosing.  So far, everyone seems to be within their rights on most of these issues.  There are groups who are in fear of losing certain rights at the moment because of the actions of a few.  Isn't that the way it always is?  There are groups who are struggling for more rights against the actions and opinions of others, it's been that way for a while too.  As long as it stays civil, hopefully these issues will work themselves out eventually and, with any luck at all, they will work themselves out to the benefit of the greater good.  Not magically, but by people exercising their rights.  Some of the rights that we have enjoyed for a long time are being taken away (be careful of how you protest the government these days) so we should enjoy them while we still have them.  The day may come when even these are gone.

Anyone who has been paying attention knows how I feel about religion and more specifically how I feel about mixing religion and politics.  When you mix religion and politics you get politics.  In my not-so-humble opinion (this is my forum, after all), politicians should work for the people they represent.  There is no way to satisfy every single person out there so they have to compromise and try to represent the majority.  The tricky part of that is figuring out what the majority really is.  It's not the majority of the big-money contributors, although that is the way it seems to work, unfortunately.  The best way is to try to represent the majority of people who are active and vote.  That should be the way that the majority makes itself heard, but are the politicians really listening?  Also, there are organizations that rally people to them and get them worked up with a shit-storm of propaganda and misinformation.  These are usually portrayed as nut-cases, flakes and lunatics, especially when they don't agree with your ideals.  There is a lot of finger-pointing and name-calling going on out there and there are an awful lot of people who seem to be mistaken about a lot of facts.  I don't pretend to have all the answers but I do have opinions and that's what this is, an op-ed piece, if you will.

Gun control is an ongoing controversial debate that people will likely never, ever agree on.  For the record, I am a gun-owner and support gun rights.  A gun is an inanimate object, it can not hurt anyone on it's own.  The problem being that, in the hands of (1) irresponsible, (2) criminal (3) mentally unstable (4) untrained people they can become a dangerous tool.  They can be more dangerous than a knife or something similar because those don't require the nerve to get up close to your victim, also you can rack up a large body-count.  Maybe not as large as a nut with a rental truck full of home-made explosives, but a respectable body-count nonetheless.  A rental truck full of homemade explosives was used in the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995 and killed 168 people in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and Mr. McVeigh was long gone and down the road, he never had to look a single victim in the eye.  He manufactured his explosives using readily available materials.  On the other hand, Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate killed eleven people in 1957-58 using a rifle, a shotgun, and a knife, they also used strangulation.  Charles was eighteen and Caril was fourteen.  Most of the Manson murders were done with knives.  The hijackings and subsequent crashes killing thousands on September 11, 2001 was supposedly pulled off using cheap box-cutters.  The point being, if someone becomes unbalanced and decides to perpetrate mass murder, they will find a way.  It is sometimes pointed out that the U.S. is a world leader, if not THE world leader in gun deaths.  That may be true but I think we probably also rank pretty high with serial-killers and other violently mentally unstable people wandering around.  That would be the statistic that I would be most interested in.  Once again, a gun is an inanimate object.  I am not opposed to some required training or licensing to own certain types or amounts of guns but that will not keep criminals from acquiring them.  If passing legislation was all it took to fix a problem, the government would have won their war on drugs thirty years ago.

There has been a lot said about discrimination and civil rights over the years.  Evidently, a lot of people do not like change.  Recently a couple were denied the right to get married in the First Baptist Church in Crystal Springs, MS, not because they were gay, but because they were black.  Really, in 2012 this happened?  I can attest, as a lifelong Southerner, that this is not the status-quo in this region in spite of how popular media portrays us.  This incident has, justifiably, raised quite a stink.  It is my understanding that the couple had been going to this church and were going join as members after the ceremony.  I wonder if the church has a problem with accepting tithes from black people?  This is an embarrassment and I can't believe that the church thought that they could get away with this type bigotry and hypocrisy.  Is this really what some of the members of this church consider to be "Christian behavior"?  This type of thing doesn't just go away.  It will leave a permanent stain on that church no matter what they do to try to fix it.  That is one of those bells that cannot be unrung.

Still on the discrimination and civil rights subject, Chik-Fil-A has stood by their support of the “standard” recognized definition of marriage (marriage of a man and a woman) by the Christian Church resulting in a massive shit-storm of public outrage and a boycott.  As they have not, to my knowledge, denied service to anyone or denied anyone employment they are within their rights to take this stand.  This is not a new thing, they have always followed Christian tenets including being closed on Sunday.  This does not mean that I agree with their opinion, it means that I agree with their right to have it.  Gays also have the right to express their displeasure at this and  have by protesting and boycotting.  People on both sides have come out in support of their respective positions.  As long as it stays non-violent they are all within their rights.  Personally, if gays want to get married, I don't mind.  I'm sort of iffy on marriage anyway, if you're in love and decide to spend the rest of your life with one person, why do you really need to get the law involved.  There are other, more heartfelt, ways of expressing your love to someone without entering into a legal contract.  I really don't know how things get to be the way that they are in this world but I will pose this question.  If the religious fundamentalists are opposed to homosexuality because they claim that it's a personal choice and not genetic, where do they stand on the issue of hermaphroditic or, more correctly, intersex persons?  For those unfamiliar, these are people who are born with varying degrees of organs belonging to both sexes.  I am not lumping these two types of people into the same category, I am using it as an example because of the fundamentalists who choose to believe that sexual orientation is a choice.  In some cases it may be, I don't know, but in the case of intersex people, it is most definitely genetics and there is a LOT of gray area there.

I am a proponent of “live and let live”.  Don't invade my personal space.  Don't encroach on my rights as long as I am not causing unjustifiable physical harm to anyone.  The world is full of assholes and they are on both sides of all issues:  race, sexuality, politics, religion, civil rights, etc.  They will always be here and there is nothing that can be done about it, and as tempting as it is to shoot them all with a large caliber assault weapon, exile them to some leper colony type situation, perpetrate genocide, legislate them out of existence or deny them the basic human rights that everyone should be able to enjoy during our short and difficult tenure here, it's just not right.

Article on couple denied church wedding because of race

Article on Chik-Fil-A's stance against gay marriage

Articles on the Chik-Fil-A Boycott

Article on Colorado killings and gun control

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