Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hello, Technorati!

I am now ready for verification. Thanks...

There Are No Sound, Rational Arguments Against Same-Sex Marriage

After looking at some of the reaction to my last political blog, I realized that this isn't acknowledged often enough. I'm not saying this is an absolute truth, just an observation. That said, I often think there's not enough of an effort to understand why people oppose gay marriage. I don't want to seem pedantic, but I feel as though I must break down this issue as clearly and basically as possible.

Not to offend anyone, but in all sincerity, expounding arguments against people who oppose gay marriage is a bit like arguing against religious people or creationists. They're wrong, but there are many levels at which a person can be wrong. A person may incorporate many correct ideas into a worldview or philosophy that is fundamentally wrong, and vice versa. Furthermore, unless you know a person well, it's difficult to tell whether or not they're being intellectually honest about being wrong. With that, let's just dive right in...

All of the arguments against gay marriage I've ever heard (though I do not rule out the possibility that there are arguments I have not heard that might be sound and rational) can be categorized one of four ways:
  1. Religious arguments1
  2. Appeals to tradition2
  3. "Slippery-slope" and other idiotic, fear-based arguments
  4. "Social-engineering" arguments
Furthermore, in my relentless effort to be masochistically thorough, (and though some of them may seem like strawmen, I assure you that you could find at least some people who will need to be convinced of any given item on this list), and as a reminder to everyone just how far the discussion needs to progress in (at least parts of) the U.S., let me assert that the following items have been established far (miles, light years, even!) beyond reasonable doubt:

Sunday, November 22, 2009

And Now For Something A Little Less Serious (Menstruation)

This is a reply to a post (about something called "The Diva Cup") by my blog-pal Rebekah over at jauntydame.com, whom I love... a lot... like really... like... "♥" status... like seriously... Anyway... I was going to post this directly as a comment on her page, but then I thought that maybe it's not the kind of thing her readers want to see. So if you want, read that post first (but no trolling, ok!?), and then come back and read the rest of this one. Thanks...

First of all, I'd like to thank you for sharing this! I'm so glad you're comfortable talking openly and honestly about things like this. As a student/researcher of the universe, I am continuously fascinated by the inner workings of the human species of gene-transportation unit (in addition to all other varieties of gene-transportation unit, of course)! I find it a little frustrating that some people seem so disgusted by such conversations. I never look down upon an opportunity to improve my understanding of how (any aspect of) the universe operates!

Now if you'll please forgive me for being such a terrible person... can't... resist... "immature"... humor... agh...
  • That was quite a gushing review of this product!

  • Mr. Garrison: "I'm sorry, but I just don't trust anything that bleeds for five days and doesn't die." (South Park)

  • Wow! This product gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "two girls, one cup"!

  • I can't wait to see "Two Divas, One Cup: The Musical"!

  • The difference between the two sizes (and the fact that you use the larger size) doesn't seem like that big of a deal to me. As Kid Bengala has said, "The elasticity of the vagina is something surprising!"

  • This goes to show you how much Freud needed to learn about women... If only he had known how many more nerve-endings there are in the clitoris than the vagina... oh well, he could be a real douche sometimes...

Friday, November 20, 2009

And Now For a Random Quote From the Pharyngula Files!

One blog I read often is Pharyngula. One of the boxes in the sidebar always contains a random quote of the "religious nutjob" variety. When I went there today, I instantly recognized the quote:
The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked, his wrath towards you burns like fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. You have offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince; and yet it is nothing but his hand that holds you from falling into the fire every moment. It is to be ascribed to nothing else, that you did not go to hell the last night, that you was[sic] suffered to awake again in this world, after you closed your eyes to sleep.
["Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," preached July 8, 1741. In Ola Elizabeth Winslow, ed., Jonathon Edwards: Basic writings (New York: New American Library, 1966) p. 159.]
Yes. Jonathan Edwards. "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." Always held in high regard in our household. We were all big fans of that "fire and brimstone" stuff. Special thanks for contributing to my childhood/adolescent immersion into Puritanism, Tabletalk Magazine!

Obviously, this sermon is completely ridiculous, but maybe you wouldn't know that if you underwent similar immersion through the entirety of your upbringing. We can't judge people, but we must challenge one another to question our beliefs. If something is true, then it should be independently verifiable.1 In our search for truth, though we may be dependent upon the (again, independently verifiable) work of others, we must remember that "authority" means absolutely nothing.

1There may be some who claim that "nothing can be completely independent!" This is a different discussion, but for our present purposes, I reject that claim as false, or at least irrelevant. Don't believe me? I'm not stopping you from looking into it!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Passion of The Prejean, According to St. Meghan

Hello again, dear readers! It's been a long time since I last blogged. Where have I been? Well, twitter. Yes, *sigh*.

One person I "follow" on twitter is Meghan McCain. I was reading her article in The Daily Beast on Monday regarding conservatives' treatment of her in comparison to Carrie Prejean. There were a few points I wanted to discuss, but couldn't fit into 140 characters. (I have other topics lined up about which to blog, but this one is actually sort of timely!)

Ms. McCain rightly notes the hypocrisy of those who defend conservatives who are guilty of actions for which they would condemn everyone else (of course, I would say that the same goes for all other political/ideological groups). Speaking of this, two words: Bristol Palin. I'm sure others have observed that if it had been a 17-year-old daughter of Obama who was pregnant out of wedlock, many conservatives would have become apoplectic! Not even considering how they would have reacted if the pregnancy had been terminated! But Palin's defenders were tripping over themselves trying to "justify" the circumstances of her unwed-teenage-pregnancy. "um! But at least her and the father are going to get married! oh, no? um! at least she chose not to have an abortion!" What was that? "Chose"? First of all, yes, there were people using this language. It seems strange, considering that these are the same people who do not consider abortion an option, who say things like, "It's not a choice! It's a child!" Secondly, if you are "pro-life," and you think there's a moral equivalence between abortion and murder, why give anyone special recognition for not murdering a child!? I never hear people congratulating mothers for not committing infanticide!1 But I digress... I fully agree with Ms. McCain that it sends the wrong message to justify making a sex or masturbation tape with/for another person on the grounds that you are in love with that person. It's the height of disingenuousness to justify an action you would otherwise condemn on such shaky grounds. Of course, she wasn't the first Republican to try to do something like that... To be fair, Ms. Prejean did appear contrite for what she admitted was the "biggest mistake of [her] life." Oh wait, sorry, make that the "eight biggest mistakes of her life." Did she really think that producing these tapes was such a huge mistake before they became public knowledge? There's no way of knowing for sure, but I'm skeptical.

Look: Let's be clear: In contrast with Ms. McCain, I neither condemn nor condone the production of sex tapes or the act of sex per se. I, in fact, have taken and distributed nude photographs of myself for, let's say, non-artistic purposes (upon request, of course, and I was "smart" enough to obscure my face). I don't envision the release of these photos as having political consequences for me since I'm being so open about it. (But honesty often has its own penalties...) As I may have said before, the ethical guidelines I try to follow are based primarily in empathy and what I "do unto others," as well as maintaining a consistency between who I am in public and in private.2 Under this paradigm, the only major "sins" [I can think of at this time] are: harming or restricting the freedom of others,3 violating prior agreements, and hypocrisy. An act such as the production of a sex tape would be "wrong" only if a person had previously agreed not to produce one or if s/he had publicly stated that such an act was immoral and had condemned others who had participated in such activities.