Are you living in a country with a constitution that echoes-in part or whole-the human rights as enumerated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Do you ever get the feeling that those rights are just a little…I don’t know? Stifling? Do you, on occasion, feel that you and the people around you would be better served by eliminating a few of those pesky rights? On hopeful days, do you find yourself lost in thought, contemplating how exhilarating it would be to cast aside rights like bodily autonomy or freedom of religion (bc let’s be honest, you know that some people really shouldn’t have the right to dictate what happens to or with their bodies ((that’s a responsibility best left to others)) and no one, but no one, should ever be allowed to decide whether or not to hold religious beliefs)? On really good days, do you speak out online or in meatspace about the virtues of living a life with significant restraints on freedom of speech and expression (bc of your sincerely held belief that the world would be so much better if more people were imprisoned for heresy)? Do you often find yourself alone at night, laying atop your bed replete with rosary covered 1200-thread count sheets, thinking about people being slaughtered in the name of blasphemy laws as you grasp your really Good Book in one hand and attend to personal matters with the other? If you do, then you probably have something in common with he who doesn’t like human rights (some of them anyway) Patriarch Kirill, the Head of the Russian Orthodox Church:
Normally, I like to highlight various dishes I’ve encountered in my virtual tours of the United States in my Ecletic Eats posts. But this time, I’m going to cover some of the most wacky, bizarre, surreal, “I totes can’t believe this shit exists” beverages. What sounds good enough to try? What will fall under the heading of “hell to the fuck no”? What gets a “meh”? Read on the find out!
On a regular basis, individuals across the U.S. demonstrate that they are not responsible
gun owners. Oh, they may have passed a background check (or not, bc there are flaws in the federal background check requirement) and obtained a license and/or a permit, but have they demonstrated-prior to owning a gun-that they aren’t an aggressive individual with a hair-trigger temper? Have they shown knowledge of how to resolve conflicts without resorting to violence? Do they know how to properly clean a gun or that firearms and alcohol are a bad mix? Do they know how to correctly store a gun (especially in a home with children)? Sadly, a great many people don’t (or if they do, they disregard this knowledge). And those that don’t should never be allowed to own firearms bc they are irresponsible. Here are five examples of irresponsible gun owners:
“If you could be straight, would you?”
I was asked that question many years ago. I was in my 20s, I think. I don’t remember who asked me, but I think it was a co-worker. How was I to answer that? At the time, I had been out of the closet for several years. Anyone who knew me to any degree knew I was gay. To the outside world, I was an out, proud gay man. And yet. And yet. My answer was ‘yes’. If could have chosen right then and there to be a heterosexual man, I would have switched my sexuality. Or if I could have reached back into my mother’s womb while I was developing, I’d have altered something to ensure I came out heterosexual. This was almost two decades before I knew anything about heterosexual privilege. Even with that, I was aware that straight people had it easier in life than gay people. I knew that if I were straight, I wouldn’t have grown up feeling so isolated and so alone. And I wouldn’t have had to experience one of the most upsetting events of my life.
There are police officers who dutifully perform their jobs. They police their communities with an eye on treating people fairly and equitably. These law enforcement officials also engage suspects with the minimum level of force sufficient to resolve a situation and they set an example as morally upstanding agents of the state who use their power and positions responsibly. Sadly, there are a great many police officers who are the opposite of good cops. These are the law enforcement officers who stalk, sexually assault, and rape people, whether on the job or off. These are the cops who use their power and privilege to terrorize, harass, and berate citizens, or to assault and kill them. These are the police officers who are supposed to set an example of proper behavior, yet lie under oath, falsify evidence, accept bribes, and undermine criminal investigations. The following stories are examples of these shameful, immoral, unethical, deplorable officers of the law:
Readers may recall my recent Pub post where I discussed gay romance film the ‘Weekend’, which was slated for release in theaters across Italy. Directed by Andrew Haigh, the character based drama revolves around the brief but intense weekend relationship between an art student (Glenn) and a part-time lifeguard (Russell). Unfortunately for those wishing to see the film, the Catholic Church owns the vast majority of theaters in Italy and their film evaluation committee deemed the film indecent and did not approve of its message. As a result, it was limited to only 10 screens.
Contrary to the claims made by the Catholic Church in their attempt to justify censoring the movie, the ‘Weekend’ was not about gay sex and drugs. Yes, there were scenes of drug use. Yes, there were scenes of sex. But if the Bishops thought sex and drugs were the themes of the movie, I really have to question their skills at evaluating what a film is about. An honest appraisal of the film would lead to the recognition that it involves two complex, multi-faceted gay characters (who happen to have sex and do drugs) struggling with their identities. Instead, the committee viewed the movie as a film about gay men having sex and doing drugs, and I suspect they treated those actions as defining traits of the characters. That does a disservice to all those involved in making this film because there was more to the film and the characters than sex and drugs.
To be sure, yes, many gay people enjoy sex and many gay people partake of drugs. But that’s not unique to members of the gay community. Heterosexual people like both as well, but they don’t find themselves defined by either. No, heterosexual people still get to be loving family members, productive members of society, people with intellect and skills, and more. They are viewed as people with a range of emotions and desires. In short, they are viewed with complexity. Meanwhile, gay people have our humanity stripped away by reducing us down to a collection of stereotypes. We’ve been told that we’re sexual deviants who are concerned only with the pleasures of the flesh. We’re not viewed as loving family members (indeed, we’re often viewed as if we aren’t part of families) or contributors to society. That contributes to the demonization and marginalization we face across the world. Characterizing us as deviant, abnormal or “the other” makes it all the easier to deny us the basic rights all humans are entitled to. Such efforts have been occurring for some time now, and the Catholic Church has been responsible for much of it, fighting a culture war against acceptance of gay people. You know, because god hates fags (oops, I’m mixing up my hate-filled religious organizations). Thankfully, in various parts of the world-the best efforts of the Catholic Church and other religious institutions aside-the perception of gay people has seen a progressive (if uneven) evolution. Many who previously saw us in a negative light, have come around to view us more favorably. While far stronger than I and many others would like, the cultural influence of the Church seems to be diminishing. And though the power of the Church in Italy was strong enough to almost completely censor ‘Weekend‘, it wasn’t enough to stifle interest in the movie. In fact, despite being banned in most of Italy’s theaters, the Nottingham-set film proved to be a surprise hit on the 10 screens it was shown on.
Those were three words used to describe director Andrew Haigh’s romantic movie Weekend. Released in the UK in 2011, the film was slated for release in Italian theaters to coincide with Haigh’s new film 45 Years. Unfortunately for pretty much anyone in Italy, the moral police put their foot down and told the 1,100 cinemas they own that the movie was not to be shown. By ‘moral police’, I mean the “lovely” organization we know as the Roman Catholic Church. As they own the vast majority of the theaters in Italy, the church uses the Italian Conference of Bishops’ Film Evaluation Committee to rate and/or censor films and they said the oppose they themes of the movie and its message. What could be so bad about the film?
Did I forget to mention that it’s a gay romantic movie?
Welcome to The Orbit, a brand spanking new collective of social justice advocating, atheist writers from across the blogosphere! Have you seen the names on the front page? We have some amazing talent onboard. Some of the them are people whom I’ve read many times over the years. Others are people who, I’m sad to say, were not on my radar until recently (that’s changing though). And then there’s me.
I began my blog (then known as The Shoop’s Roost) just under two years ago as a place to talk about a range of topics, from issues of concern to me to subjects I find entertaining. I didn’t have any aspirations for the blog, aside from the hope that anyone who stumbled across it found something interesting or worth their time. And what do you know-that’s what happened! I’ve been humbled by the overwhelmingly positive responses from readers of the blog. Until a few short months ago, I figured I’d remain in my little corner of the internet doing my own thing.
And then the invite came.
“How would you feel about joining a new online collective of atheist social justice activists?”