The Best of Humanity: Caring for an orphaned bat

Lil’ Drac is a short-tailed bat who was orphaned by his mother (apparently bats are extremely sensitive during maternity season and if disturbed, will abandon their young). Thanks to the Bat World Sanctuary in Weatherford, Texas, Lil’ Drac has received much love and care.

(via Motivious)

The Best of Humanity: Caring for an orphaned bat
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Here, let’s rekindle some faith in humanity

(I think people know which definition of faith I’m using too)

Via Feminist Batwoman, I’ve discovered Human Beings are all Kinds of Awesome Sauce, a blog that appears to be dedicated to showcasing the many ways in which humans can be kind, dedicated, compassionate, empathetic, and just all around awesome.  My faith, sorry, confidence in humanity is often challenged (see:  police brutality), and stuff like this is a nice antidote.  Here are just a few of the images that really made me smile with pride at our species:

 

 

 

 

Here, let’s rekindle some faith in humanity

Here, let's rekindle some faith in humanity

(I think people know which definition of faith I’m using too)

Via Feminist Batwoman, I’ve discovered Human Beings are all Kinds of Awesome Sauce, a blog that appears to be dedicated to showcasing the many ways in which humans can be kind, dedicated, compassionate, empathetic, and just all around awesome.  My faith, sorry, confidence in humanity is often challenged (see:  police brutality), and stuff like this is a nice antidote.  Here are just a few of the images that really made me smile with pride at our species:

 

 

 

 

Here, let's rekindle some faith in humanity

Talking about Ferguson & Race

Ferguson: Why atheists should care — and what they can do 

This guest column is written by Dr. Anthony B. Pinn, the Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities and Professor of Religious Studies at Rice University and a leading scholar of black nontheism.

I’m troubled by the taking of yet another black life, but I’m also baffled: Why are some people, including many atheists, so surprised by the tragedies of racial violence—as if the United States hasn’t had a steady diet of discrimination? And why aren’t more humanists and atheists speaking out?

As Cornel West and W. E. B. Du Bois before him noted, race matters. It is a matter of willful ignorance to think otherwise; to deny the continued existence of racial hostility is a marker that one is out of touch with life in the U.S.

Sure, there are ways in which theological arguments can distract people from the harsh realities of life and blind some to the dynamics of racial discrimination. But theists aren’t the only ones who sometimes fail to grapple seriously with the consequences of racial dynamics in the U.S. Too many atheists and humanists assume their appeals to reason and logic are a prophylactic against racism.

This is a mistake—a bad mistake. Behind the humanist hero Thomas Jefferson was a host of dehumanized, enslaved Africans.

Humanists often claim to be informed, frequent readers, and more intelligent than theists—so the common mantra of  “I just don’t know much about African Americans” doesn’t work. Those who make this claim in a society marked by easy access to information should be embarrassed by such intellectual laziness.

It’s just as easy to find a copy of Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk as it is to find a copy of Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion, okay?

I sympathize with Dr. Pinn. He thinks atheists should be more informed and better educated about the realities of racism in the United States.  I’m inclined to agree with him, but there is a slight problem. If you read the entire post, you’ll note that he uses ‘atheists’ and ‘humanists’ interchangeably. This is problematic.  Atheism is defined as ‘a lack of belief in a higher power or powers’.  It is not a set of beliefs. It is NOT believing. Humanism is a set of beliefs. Specifically,

Humanism is a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking and evidence (rationalism, empiricism) over established doctrine or faith (fideism).

Atheists are often Humanists-I’m one for instance.  I do not believe in any higher power or powers, and I *do* believe in the value and agency of human beings, and I think that since there is no deity to assist humanity, it is our responsibility to use critical and rational thinking to solve the problems of humanity.  I think that since we share this planet, and we as a species are social creatures, that we ought to do our best to minimize harm and maximize happiness, not just for ourselves, but for other humans, and animals as well.  I’ve encountered and interacted with many wonderful atheists and humanists who feel the same way I do, and many of them are involved in the Atheist movement and seek to make it more inclusive for a broad range of people, especially those who belong to marginalized groups.

Not every atheist feels this way.  As I’ve seen in the last 4-5 years, there are atheists who are concerned with making the world better, only insofar as it relates to the existence of religion and religious beliefs. Among this group are atheists who are actively opposed to efforts at making the Atheist movement a safer space for those who belong to oppressed groups.  Some atheists dislike the idea of those in the movement advocating for social justice for women, LGBT individuals, People of Color, and other marginalized groups. In my experiences, these atheists are dictionary atheists who adhere to a limited definition of atheism-a dictionary definition. Their concerns are largely focused on eliminating the direct effects of religious belief in society, such as opposing creationism in the classroom or ensuring the continued separation of church and state (in democratic countries like-ostensibly-the US).  They don’t want to go any further though.  They think that atheism should end there.

As a result of this disagreement between dictionary atheists and social justice atheists, there have been a series of rifts in the Atheist community with Social Justice Atheists on one side of an ever growing chasm, and Dictionary Atheists on the other (my interactions with the DAs has made me despise a great many of them, and I’m more than happy for the chasm to grow wider).  The lack of concern on the part of many Dictionary Atheists for their fellow humans disgusts me.  I’ve seen them engage in sexism, misogyny, transphobia, homophobia, and ableism.  I’ve seen them engage in an ongoing campaign of cyber harassment of female bloggers (to the point that some have withdrawn from online participation in the Atheist movement).  I’m aware of one group of them that has set up an entire website dedicated to haranguing and opposing those atheists who also are interested in advocating for social justice.    I am unsure if Dr. Pinn is aware of this group of atheists, but they definitely are not Humanists.  It may be that these are the types of atheists he is criticizing for not speaking up about racism in the US.

There are atheists, however,  that have spoken up.  I’ve interacted with these people, and they are passionate about improving the quality of life for all people, including-obviously-black people.  I’ve watched these dedicated individuals working to signal boost the events of Ferguson over the last few weeks. Many of these people have tirelessly dedicated their time to helping spread the word of the horrible actions of the Ferguson PD, the death of Michael Brown, the militarization of the police in the US, gun violence, racism in our culture and more. Most of the updates on Ferguson that I’ve blogged about are the direct result of efforts of many atheists to get this information out to people.  I’m very grateful to these people, and I’m proud to call many of them my friends.  These are the type of people embodying exactly what Dr. Pinn advocates.


DIFFERENT RULES APPLY

The boy asked his mother, “So I should just put my hands in the air?”

“Yes,” his mother said. “Just put your hands in the air.”

“If I put my hands in the air, will the police not shoot?” he asked.

“Probably not, but you can’t be sure. Some people say you should just kneel or lie down, don’t ask questions, just get down on the ground.”

“If I lie down on the ground, they won’t shoot?”

“Probably,” she said.

I recognized the exhaustion in that “probably”—a parent trying to explain a fundamentally unfair fact of life in the most neutral terms possible, so as not to make a child prematurely paranoid or cynical or bitter, and realizing that there are no words with which to do such a thing. After my son and I left the restaurant, though, I was disturbed by a mental image of this small boy dropping face-down on the ground at the sound of a cop’s voice—thinking just
maybe he wouldn’t get shot. I thought of Oscar Grant, who was detained by police on a BART platform on New Years Day, 2009, and got shot in the back anyway. To death.

“Is that what you’re supposed to do? Get down on the ground?” my son asked.

He’d heard about Ferguson. It was everywhere.

I said, “Not necessarily. Some police want you to put your hands up. Some don’t ask you to do that. It depends. I guess the main thing is to just do what the police officer tells you to do. Don’t make any sudden moves.”

“Can the police just shoot people?” he asked. He seemed genuinely worried.

“They’re not supposed to just shoot people,” I said. “There are supposed to be rules about when you can and can’t shoot a person. Sometimes mistakes happen and people who shouldn’t get shot do get shot. And there are other times when…”

And I trailed off because I realized I was evading the real issue.

“It happens, and it’s horrible,” I told my son,” and in a lot of cases the reasons why some people get shot and others don’t get shot are unfair, or they don’t make sense, but you….” I trailed off again.

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“White people just aren’t as likely to get shot by police,” I told him.

“Why is that?”

“There are a lot of reasons why that’s true, and we’ll talk about them later, but that’s the bottom line,” I said. “It’s not right, but it’s the truth. That’s what that woman was telling her son about.”

My mind added: …in a conversation that most white dads would not be having with their white elementary school-age sons. 

Why didn’t I say this out loud to my son? I don’t know. Something was holding me back.

Maybe it was the fact that my son has friends of different races and ethnicities, and I didn’t want to burst what I thought was an idyllic bubble, if indeed he lived in one, which he probably doesn’t.

No, that wasn’t it.

I wasn’t protecting my son from anything. I was protecting my son’s image of his father, or what I imagined that image to be.

And I was protecting myself from myself. I was lying to myself about myself.

I was reminded of something my best friend, a skinny Irish guy from Bay Ridge, told me. He was hanging out with his dad one afternoon. Out of the blue his dad told he should always be grateful for the greatest gift his dad and mom ever gave him.

“What gift is that?” my friend asked.

“Your white skin,” he said. “If you’re white in this country, you’re ahead of the game. You get more chances. You get more second chances. That’s the gift your mother and I gave you—and we didn’t have a damn thing to do with it!”

My friend’s dad was being bitterly sarcastic. But he was also being honest about white privilege.

I believe that there’s a difference between knowing something and understanding it. You know how you’ll try to communicate something very important to you to another person and sometimes they’ll wave you off with an impatient, “I know, I know”? That’s knowing: I got the gist, filed it away, I don’t need to think about it again. Knowing is comprehension; understanding is deeper because it comes from empathy or identification.

All of which is a wind-up to say: having grown up in a mostly black neighborhood near Love Field airport in Dallas, and having been a diligent liberal for most of my adult life, I already knew there was such a thing as white privilege, and was properly horrified by it, but I didn’t truly understand what it meant, on a deep level, until one summer night in 2006, when I was spared arrest or worse thanks to the color of my skin.

(read the rest here)

 

BEYOND FERGUSON: POP CULTURE THROUGH THE LENS OF RACE


HANDS UP: LOS ANGELES PROTEST AGAINST POLICE VIOLENCE


 Their buddy, Darren Wilson, shot and killed Michael Brown, and somehow *they’re* the victims?!


 

Blame poverty, not race, say Ferguson’s white minority

For the love of all the nonexistent gods in the heavens, white people saying this, please shut up and listen.

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p style=”text-align:center;”> 

Talking about Ferguson & Race

Talking about Ferguson & Race

Ferguson: Why atheists should care — and what they can do 

This guest column is written by Dr. Anthony B. Pinn, the Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities and Professor of Religious Studies at Rice University and a leading scholar of black nontheism.

I’m troubled by the taking of yet another black life, but I’m also baffled: Why are some people, including many atheists, so surprised by the tragedies of racial violence—as if the United States hasn’t had a steady diet of discrimination? And why aren’t more humanists and atheists speaking out?

As Cornel West and W. E. B. Du Bois before him noted, race matters. It is a matter of willful ignorance to think otherwise; to deny the continued existence of racial hostility is a marker that one is out of touch with life in the U.S.

Sure, there are ways in which theological arguments can distract people from the harsh realities of life and blind some to the dynamics of racial discrimination. But theists aren’t the only ones who sometimes fail to grapple seriously with the consequences of racial dynamics in the U.S. Too many atheists and humanists assume their appeals to reason and logic are a prophylactic against racism.

This is a mistake—a bad mistake. Behind the humanist hero Thomas Jefferson was a host of dehumanized, enslaved Africans.

Humanists often claim to be informed, frequent readers, and more intelligent than theists—so the common mantra of  “I just don’t know much about African Americans” doesn’t work. Those who make this claim in a society marked by easy access to information should be embarrassed by such intellectual laziness.

It’s just as easy to find a copy of Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk as it is to find a copy of Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion, okay?

I sympathize with Dr. Pinn. He thinks atheists should be more informed and better educated about the realities of racism in the United States.  I’m inclined to agree with him, but there is a slight problem. If you read the entire post, you’ll note that he uses ‘atheists’ and ‘humanists’ interchangeably. This is problematic.  Atheism is defined as ‘a lack of belief in a higher power or powers’.  It is not a set of beliefs. It is NOT believing. Humanism is a set of beliefs. Specifically,

Humanism is a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking and evidence (rationalism, empiricism) over established doctrine or faith (fideism).

Atheists are often Humanists-I’m one for instance.  I do not believe in any higher power or powers, and I *do* believe in the value and agency of human beings, and I think that since there is no deity to assist humanity, it is our responsibility to use critical and rational thinking to solve the problems of humanity.  I think that since we share this planet, and we as a species are social creatures, that we ought to do our best to minimize harm and maximize happiness, not just for ourselves, but for other humans, and animals as well.  I’ve encountered and interacted with many wonderful atheists and humanists who feel the same way I do, and many of them are involved in the Atheist movement and seek to make it more inclusive for a broad range of people, especially those who belong to marginalized groups.

Not every atheist feels this way.  As I’ve seen in the last 4-5 years, there are atheists who are concerned with making the world better, only insofar as it relates to the existence of religion and religious beliefs. Among this group are atheists who are actively opposed to efforts at making the Atheist movement a safer space for those who belong to oppressed groups.  Some atheists dislike the idea of those in the movement advocating for social justice for women, LGBT individuals, People of Color, and other marginalized groups. In my experiences, these atheists are dictionary atheists who adhere to a limited definition of atheism-a dictionary definition. Their concerns are largely focused on eliminating the direct effects of religious belief in society, such as opposing creationism in the classroom or ensuring the continued separation of church and state (in democratic countries like-ostensibly-the US).  They don’t want to go any further though.  They think that atheism should end there.

As a result of this disagreement between dictionary atheists and social justice atheists, there have been a series of rifts in the Atheist community with Social Justice Atheists on one side of an ever growing chasm, and Dictionary Atheists on the other (my interactions with the DAs has made me despise a great many of them, and I’m more than happy for the chasm to grow wider).  The lack of concern on the part of many Dictionary Atheists for their fellow humans disgusts me.  I’ve seen them engage in sexism, misogyny, transphobia, homophobia, and ableism.  I’ve seen them engage in an ongoing campaign of cyber harassment of female bloggers (to the point that some have withdrawn from online participation in the Atheist movement).  I’m aware of one group of them that has set up an entire website dedicated to haranguing and opposing those atheists who also are interested in advocating for social justice.    I am unsure if Dr. Pinn is aware of this group of atheists, but they definitely are not Humanists.  It may be that these are the types of atheists he is criticizing for not speaking up about racism in the US.

There are atheists, however,  that have spoken up.  I’ve interacted with these people, and they are passionate about improving the quality of life for all people, including-obviously-black people.  I’ve watched these dedicated individuals working to signal boost the events of Ferguson over the last few weeks. Many of these people have tirelessly dedicated their time to helping spread the word of the horrible actions of the Ferguson PD, the death of Michael Brown, the militarization of the police in the US, gun violence, racism in our culture and more. Most of the updates on Ferguson that I’ve blogged about are the direct result of efforts of many atheists to get this information out to people.  I’m very grateful to these people, and I’m proud to call many of them my friends.  These are the type of people embodying exactly what Dr. Pinn advocates.


DIFFERENT RULES APPLY

The boy asked his mother, “So I should just put my hands in the air?”

“Yes,” his mother said. “Just put your hands in the air.”

“If I put my hands in the air, will the police not shoot?” he asked.

“Probably not, but you can’t be sure. Some people say you should just kneel or lie down, don’t ask questions, just get down on the ground.”

“If I lie down on the ground, they won’t shoot?”

“Probably,” she said.

I recognized the exhaustion in that “probably”—a parent trying to explain a fundamentally unfair fact of life in the most neutral terms possible, so as not to make a child prematurely paranoid or cynical or bitter, and realizing that there are no words with which to do such a thing. After my son and I left the restaurant, though, I was disturbed by a mental image of this small boy dropping face-down on the ground at the sound of a cop’s voice—thinking just
maybe he wouldn’t get shot. I thought of Oscar Grant, who was detained by police on a BART platform on New Years Day, 2009, and got shot in the back anyway. To death.

“Is that what you’re supposed to do? Get down on the ground?” my son asked.

He’d heard about Ferguson. It was everywhere.

I said, “Not necessarily. Some police want you to put your hands up. Some don’t ask you to do that. It depends. I guess the main thing is to just do what the police officer tells you to do. Don’t make any sudden moves.”

“Can the police just shoot people?” he asked. He seemed genuinely worried.

“They’re not supposed to just shoot people,” I said. “There are supposed to be rules about when you can and can’t shoot a person. Sometimes mistakes happen and people who shouldn’t get shot do get shot. And there are other times when…”

And I trailed off because I realized I was evading the real issue.

“It happens, and it’s horrible,” I told my son,” and in a lot of cases the reasons why some people get shot and others don’t get shot are unfair, or they don’t make sense, but you….” I trailed off again.

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“White people just aren’t as likely to get shot by police,” I told him.

“Why is that?”

“There are a lot of reasons why that’s true, and we’ll talk about them later, but that’s the bottom line,” I said. “It’s not right, but it’s the truth. That’s what that woman was telling her son about.”

My mind added: …in a conversation that most white dads would not be having with their white elementary school-age sons. 

Why didn’t I say this out loud to my son? I don’t know. Something was holding me back.

Maybe it was the fact that my son has friends of different races and ethnicities, and I didn’t want to burst what I thought was an idyllic bubble, if indeed he lived in one, which he probably doesn’t.

No, that wasn’t it.

I wasn’t protecting my son from anything. I was protecting my son’s image of his father, or what I imagined that image to be.

And I was protecting myself from myself. I was lying to myself about myself.

I was reminded of something my best friend, a skinny Irish guy from Bay Ridge, told me. He was hanging out with his dad one afternoon. Out of the blue his dad told he should always be grateful for the greatest gift his dad and mom ever gave him.

“What gift is that?” my friend asked.

“Your white skin,” he said. “If you’re white in this country, you’re ahead of the game. You get more chances. You get more second chances. That’s the gift your mother and I gave you—and we didn’t have a damn thing to do with it!”

My friend’s dad was being bitterly sarcastic. But he was also being honest about white privilege.

I believe that there’s a difference between knowing something and understanding it. You know how you’ll try to communicate something very important to you to another person and sometimes they’ll wave you off with an impatient, “I know, I know”? That’s knowing: I got the gist, filed it away, I don’t need to think about it again. Knowing is comprehension; understanding is deeper because it comes from empathy or identification.

All of which is a wind-up to say: having grown up in a mostly black neighborhood near Love Field airport in Dallas, and having been a diligent liberal for most of my adult life, I already knew there was such a thing as white privilege, and was properly horrified by it, but I didn’t truly understand what it meant, on a deep level, until one summer night in 2006, when I was spared arrest or worse thanks to the color of my skin.

(read the rest here)

 

BEYOND FERGUSON: POP CULTURE THROUGH THE LENS OF RACE


HANDS UP: LOS ANGELES PROTEST AGAINST POLICE VIOLENCE


 Their buddy, Darren Wilson, shot and killed Michael Brown, and somehow *they’re* the victims?!


 

Blame poverty, not race, say Ferguson’s white minority

For the love of all the nonexistent gods in the heavens, white people saying this, please shut up and listen.

<

p style=”text-align:center;”> 

Talking about Ferguson & Race

Facial Fun, Filipino Food and more in this link roundup

There isn’t really any thematic connective tissue to the following links.  They’re just stuff I’ve found around the net that I think are cool:

I’ve never had Filipino cuisine.  If these images are anything to judge by, I need to change that as soon as possible:

Cassava Cake
Pancit Palabok

 

Lumpia
Longgansia
Ukoy

These, and other Filipino dishes (along with links to recipes) can be found here.


 

The reason I became interested in Filipino cuisine is because I found images of this totally cool Filipino restaurant nestled at the foot of a waterfall:

From the link:

Asking to be seated at a table with a view is no problem at this Filipino restaurant. Located at the foot of the Labasin Falls in the Quezon Province, diners may enjoy authentic Filipino cuisine and the area’s natural splendor as fresh water streams through their toes. Nature and dining all in one? Now that’s my kind of travel.


Welp, The Ice Bucket Challenge Is Officially Over Thanks To Patrick Stewart


 

Gutter? What gutter?


 

99-Year-Old Woman Sews a Dress a Day for Children in Africa

(there are images at the link)

99-year-old Lillian Weber has a generous heart and sewing hands that just won’t stop. The Iowa-based woman spends hours every single day making a dress for small children who receive the clothing through the Christian nonprofit group Little Dresses for Africa.

For the past two years, Weber has made more than 840 dresses because, simply stated, she just wanted to help people. She uses a pattern to make the dress but she doesn’t stop there. She adds a few personal touches to each garment in order to make the items more unique and so that no two dresses are alike. Weber’s goal is to continue sewing 150 more dresses so that she can create her 1,000th dress by the time she turns 100 years old next May. “When I get to that thousand, if I’m able to, I won’t quit,” she recently said. “I’ll go at it again.” What an amazing story of generosity! You can learn a little more about Weber in the video below.


 

The world’s first zombie proof house

More images at the link

 

What does 200 calories look like?

What does 200 calories worth of food look like? The website Wisegeek conducted a study of 71 different edibles to find out. They proportioned things like peanut butter, canned beans, fruits, veggies, and even soda into 200 calorie quantities and photographed the results. It’s surprising to see what this actually looks like when on a plate.


 

Makeup Artist Paints Her Chin and Mouth to Look Like Cartoon Characters

Facial Fun, Filipino Food and more in this link roundup

LGBT news

From Empathize This comes a reminder that bisexual people are often treated poorly or even erased in LGBT spaces.

This is not acceptable.  I admit, with a great deal of shame, that in years past, I engaged in similar behavior. I treated bisexual people poorly.  I felt they were trying to “have their cake and eat it too”. Sometimes I thought they just couldn’t make up their mind.  In the last 4-5 years, I’ve come to examine many of my biases and prejudices.  It hasn’t been easy, but I think I’ve become a better person for it.  This doesn’t mean I’ve rid myself of every bias that I have, but I do try to engage in self-reflection and reexamine my opinions and views when challenged.  So when I came to rethink my beliefs about people who are bisexual-which came when I actually listened to people who were bisexual and stopped talking over them/down to them-I realized that their lives and their experiences are valid and valuable.  I realized that I can’t expect others to respect my dignity and right to exist as I choose if I don’t extend the same respect and courtesy to others.  Once I realized that, I felt…well I felt pretty shitty.  There is no excuse for my behavior.  I can’t make up for what I’ve done in the past, but I can damn sure not repeat those actions in the future. Moreover, I can speak out about how such behavior is shitty.  Bisexual people are not trying to have it both ways. They are not trying to have their cake and eat it too. They are not “undecided”.  Their experiences are their own, and they are every bit as valid as mine or anyone else’s.  I refuse to engage in the behavior I once did, and I ask everyone to check themselves…to examine their beliefs and biases and give thought to the harm those beliefs could bring to others.

(via Feminist Batwoman)

Russian gay couple marries in the most fierce way possible through loophole:

Two brides have become two of the most kickass women in the world by marrying to protest against homophobia in Russia.

Alina Davis, a 23-year-old trans woman, and Allison Brooks, her 19-year-old partner, donned matching white floor-length bridal gowns and married at a civil registry office earlier this month.

As Davis is still legally regarded as male, the office had no choice but to hand them a marriage certificate.

It is unfortunate that the government of Russia will not allow all consenting adults to marry regardless of gender or sexuality.   I hope the day comes where this will be the case.  Everyone deserves the opportunity to marry without the state dictating the terms (obviously this applies to consenting adults only).  I wish the couple a long and happy life together.

Iranian Muslim lesbians marry in religious ceremony in Sweden:

Iranian Muslim women Sahar Mosleh and Maryam Iranfar married in Stockholm on 2 August during the city’s annual LGBTI pride festival – perhaps the first Iranian women to marry each other in a religious ceremony in the world, and the first in Sweden.

The couple married in a ceremony performed by Algerian born South African based Imam Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed who was in Stockholm as the festival’s nominated Imam.

Oh noes! It’s ‘ArmaGAYddon’!!!! Run for the hills! It’s the end of civilization as we know it.  Not really.  Unless you’re a bigot who thinks marriage equality is going to somehow be the downfall of society.  Which makes me wonder what the time table is on that.  Massachusetts has had same sex marriage for how long now-runs off to check…over 10 years now-and somehow their state hasn’t fallen into chaos and disarray.  Maybe The Gay takes a little time to set in.  Perhaps it creeps up on you little by little and before you know it BAM! You’re just like the couple in this hilarious horror movie parody:

I just realized that the commentary above could apply to the video or the story about the lesbian couple above it.  That wasn’t intentional, but it was neat.

LGBT news

Comic books as a reflection of the world today

Andrew Wheeler is a writer for Comics Alliance, and he also has his own Tumblr. I came across his answer to a question posed by one of his followers:

gpack3 said: What do you think would be the best way to introduce a trans superhero? Introduce them first and then reveal they’re trans after the audience is used to them? Introduce them as trans from the beginning? Have them transition on panel? Take a preexisting character whose past is something of a blank slate (eg. Eye-Boy) and make them trans?
I’d love to hear from trans people about what they’d like to see in a trans superhero, because I’m sure they have sensitivities that I don’t have, and I’m sure they’re aware of cliches and pitfalls that I’m not aware of.

 

To answer from my perspective as a gay man who does not identify as trans, I would tentatively draw a parallel to what I always want to see in gay heroes. Namely; I don’t want to always have to see gay people struggling and suffering with their identities. I want to see gay heroes who are at peace with their identities, and who face the same problems as other heroes, because that’s a much more hopeful and inclusive message.

So I’d most like to see a trans superhero who is totally at peace with their identity, and whose identity is very quickly and unambiguously established to the audience. That seems like the most positive way to represent trans people in superhero fiction.

That said, coming out stories and self-acceptance stories are hugely important – especially if they come from people who can make those stories personal. I’d love to read a story about a superhero transitioning, but I’d like to read it from a trans writer.

Either way, I think establishing or reintroducing an established character as trans would be most useful given how difficult it is to establish new characters in superhero comics. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, my personal choice would be to reintroduce Christian Frost as a trans woman whose transition allows her to access her mutant powers for the first time – and whose transition is celebrated by her sister Emma.

Christian was previously written as a gay man with severe depression. I don’t think it would be implausible to re-imagine the character as a trans woman. But I may be stepping into cliches that I’m not aware of.

(As a final note, I should acknowledge that when I say I don’t want to always have to see gay people struggling and suffering with their identities in fiction, my own Sacha Valentin in Valentin & The Widow is exactly that sort of character. But I am at least a gay man writing from personal experience, and Sacha also gets to travel the world punching evildoers.)

I worry that a non trans writer would wind up doing some stupid or offensive shit, so perhaps, as Wheeler says, it would be better for a trans writer to create such a story.
But then I’m reminded that Gail Simone created a trans character as Barbara Gordon’s roommate in Batgirl and that character has been, IIRC, well received. Her name is Alysia Yeoh:

States like Arizona are currently spending taxpayer’s money trying to legalize trans discrimination, and others like Idaho are arresting and citing trans patrons from using public restrooms that don’t match their birth sex.

As this kind of discrimination continues to reach bizarre new heights, there’s one place where trans acceptance seems ready to take hold—in the hallowed halls of geekdom known as DC Comics. This week, the comic book giant published Batgirl #19, featuring a storyline involving the first ongoing, trans-identifying character in a mainstream superhero book.
Wired reports that in the latest Batgirl edition, the character Alysia Yeoh reveals to her roommate, Barbara Gordon (aka Batgirl), that she is a trans woman. In addition, Alysia is also bisexual.

Author Gail Simone tells Wired that the impetus to include a trans character came from a pretty obvious source of inspiration—her fans. And building out a world as diverse as they are is her ultimate goal.

“It’s the issue for superhero comics. Look, we have a problem most media don’t have, which is that almost all the tentpoles we build our industry upon were created over a half century ago…at a time where the characters were almost without exception white, cis-gendered, straight, on and on,” she said.

“It’s fine—it’s great that people love those characters. But if we only build around them, then we look like an episode of The Andy Griffith Show for all eternity.”

I really like that last line from Simone. She wants to help build fictional worlds that reflect the world we live in today, rather than the world of 75 years ago.

Comic books as a reflection of the world today

My thanks to Twitter Users plus more on Ferguson

I’m not on Twitter, but I have a lot of people to thank who are.

Thank you, Twitter users! You’re too numerous for me to try naming, and I would not want to forget anyone, but suffice to say, if you were Tweeting the events of Ferguson, you have my thanks.  Also, the people who were retweeting  deserve a round of thanks as well.

Twitter users were on the ground, reporting what was going on in Ferguson before the Mainstream Media was. They were giving accurate reporting (despite the vast majority of people not being reporters) from the start. Much of the information we have about what has happened in Ferguson has been the result of Tweets, both from reporters and civilians. These Tweets are evidence and should not be dismissed. In the court of public opinion-which is not the same as a court of law, where higher standards exist for determining guilt-Tweets very much qualify as valid evidence in coming to a reasonable conclusion about a given situation.

Please pay attention to the 5 facts that we know that are not in dispute in the following collection of Tweets (note that all these facts can be verified if one takes the time to verify them. The mainstream media should, by now have compiled a timeline of events to further verify.)
My point with all this is that this shitty “Let’s wait till we know all the facts” is preventing people from reaching *any* conclusion about the events in Ferguson and in fact is used by racist assholes who wish to support Officer Wilson’s murder of Mike Brown.

https://storify.com/miniver/mike-brown-facts-and-dog-whistles-from-shaunking
I have some 5 essential FACTS about the Mike Brown case. These are not in dispute & agreed upon by all sides.

1. According to the Police Chief Officer Darren Wilson DID NOT know about the stolen cigars & all agree the stop was just about jaywalking.

2. A struggle ensued at the window of the car. Dorian Johnson & 4 eyewitnesses saw it ONE way. We can assume Officer Johnson sees it another

3. Mike Brown fled on foot and got about 35 feet away from the truck. His body was found 35 feet away from the truck. So key.

4. Mike Brown was unarmed from start to finish. This is never in dispute.

5. Officer did not file a report and almost no witnesses were interviewed the day of the murder. This was well before DOJ intervention.

 (thanks to Shaun King for compiling this list)

My thanks to Twitter Users plus more on Ferguson

Kevin Sorbo doesn't understand atheists

Kevin Sorbo was the star of a syndicated 1990s tv show, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.  Recently, he starred in a christian film called God is Not Dead where he played an atheist.  He says he doesn’t understand why atheists are so angry about a god they don’t believe in: 

Sorbo, who is still promoting his most recent film, God Is Not Dead, in which he plays an atheist, said he can’t comprehend the logic behind atheist’s lack of beliefs and their anger.

“I’m a Christian myself and had to play an atheist. I see the anger of these (atheist) guys on TV and it’s like ‘wow, how do you get so angry at something you don’t believe in?”  Sorbo said.

Earlier this year, Sorbo discussed self-professed atheist Bill Maher, calling him “angry and lonely,” before adding, “I did Politically Incorrect a couple of times, and all I can do is feel sad for the guy, because I think he is a very angry and lonely man. Comedy comes from anger anyway. You know, what are you going to say when a guy talks like this?”

 

My first question I’d ask him is have you ever listened to an atheist?  If he had, he’d realize that we’re not angry all the time.  You see, atheists, like other human beings, are human.  We possess and display the full range of human emotions (to one degree or another, and at various points in our lives).  

We laugh when we’re happy.

We cry when we’re sad.

We get frustrated when things don’t go as planned.

We shrug our shoulders over things we don’t care about.

We care about the lives of family and friends.

We show concern when the people we care about are hurt.

We are most certainly *not* angry all the time.  To believe that is to truly not know what the fuck one is talking about.

We do get angry though. 

Some of us get angry on a regular basis, and guess what? There’s nothing wrong with that.  Anger is an emotion and like all emotions it helps us express our thoughts and feelings.  There is much in the world to be happy or joyous about.  There is also much to be angry about.  I could discuss a great many things about religion in general that make me angry, but I’ll limit it to just 5 items (and not just christianity Mr. Sorbo, it’s hardly unique):

  1. I’m mad that the Catholic Church uses it position as one of the most powerful organizations on the planet to deny women the right to have an abortion.  The right to bodily autonomy is a right all human beings have.  It is foundational to the right to self-defense, which is a right all humans have.  To deny women the right to have an abortion results in women being denied a right they are entitled to by virtue of being human.  Such a denial relegates women to second class status, and I condemn that 1000%. 
  2. I’m mad that children are brought up, indoctrinated into religious belief.  The foundation of religious belief-faith-instills in children (from a very young age) the idea that it is preferable to hold beliefs without any reason to do so; in the face of evidence to the contrary.  Religious belief hinders the ability of children in the areas of logic and critical thinking.  The damage isn’t irreversible, but is difficult to overcome.  The ability to use critical thinking, logic, and reason is essential in learning how to understand and interpret the world around us.  These tools are also important in allowing us to cut through the bullshit we so often find in life. Faith-belief without evidence-allows people to believe in all manner of things, often to their own personal detriment.
  3. Religious teachings on sexuality are wrong.  As I’ve written before, there is no moral component to sexuality.  It’s personal to each individual, and has no bearing on questions of right and wrong in interactions between people.  I find the teaching of *many* religions on the subject of sexuality to be abominable.  Homosexuality is not morally wrong. Bisexuality is not morally wrong.  That many religions teach that homosexuality is morally wrong is itself deeply immoral.  These teaching have led parents to disown their kids, kick them out of their homes, and even kill them.  These teachings have led to a lifetime of shame and disgust that many people feel over their sexuality. These religious teachings have led entire countries-I’m looking at you Russia-to enact legislation that discriminates against and oppresses people.  All for the “crime” of not being heterosexual. Religious teachings on sexuality-on the whole-are deeply harmful to people, and actively work to make people miserable and the world a worse place.
  4. Creationism does not belong in the classroom.  It is a wholly religious idea that has no foundation in science.  There is no empirical evidence in support of creationism, yet despite this, there are efforts across the US and other parts of the world to teach creationism in place of evolution in the classroom.  This angers me because I want people to be educated, but I want that education to be reality based.  Not fantasy based.  Evolution has mountains of evidence to support it, and a vast array of scientific disciplines support the theory of evolution.  
  5. I am an atheist.  That means I do not believe in the existence of any god or gods.  That does *not* mean I’m an immoral shitbag who has no reason to not rape or kill people. I am angry that people believe-without knowing who I am-that I’m an immoral person. Morality concerns the distinctions between right and wrong or good and evil actions between humans.  How does one determine whether a particular course of action is good or evil?  One way is to attempt to understand how the other person feels in that situation.  If I’m trying to decided if I want to punch someone or not, by imagining myself in the shoes of someone else, it can be easy to see that they wouldn’t like to be punched.  I know I don’t want to be punched either, so it’s probably a good idea for me to not punch them, at least if I think they have the same rights as I do (which I do).  The Golden Rule-basically treating others as you would be treated yourself-has been in existence for longer than christianity, and informs morality.   Likewise, morality was a necessary component in creating societies.  There must be rules to govern our interactions if we’re going to live among each other, and humans being a social species, that’s pretty much going to happen everywhere.  These rules attempt to balance the desires of the individual against the desires of society as a whole.  Destructive, damaging behaviors obviously harm society as a whole and are discouraged.  Positive behaviors are encouraged.  This is obviously in simple terms, but we don’t encourage people to kill or rape one another because that threatens social cohesion by affecting the safety and security of others.  The idea that you cannot have morality without god is a false one (and ridiculous anyways-how can you decide which actions are good and which are bad when {if you use christianity} god commits genocide and encourages or permits rape, slavery, and murder?)

If Sorbo were interested in actually learning why many atheists are angry-sometimes-he ought to check out Greta Christina’s book Why Are You Atheists So Angry:  99 Things That Piss Off The Godless. Suffice it to say, there are plenty of good reasons to get angry at the actions of the religious. Given the shit going on in the world, if you’re not angry, then you don’t care, and apathy is responsible for tremendous amounts of human suffering.

Incidentally Mr. Sorbo, we aren’t angry at god. We’re angry at how believers act in the name
of god.

Kevin Sorbo doesn't understand atheists