[FoRK] Debunking the Right Schiavo spin

Stephen D. Williams sdw at lig.net
Wed Mar 23 13:43:55 PST 2005

Kelley wrote:

> At 03:23 PM 3/23/2005, Stephen D. Williams wrote:
>>> You can't possibly live in a red state! People here mock you if you 
>>> say you're spiritual, not religious. You might as well tell them 
>>> you're Wiccan.
>> Maybe you should tell them that the GOP has convinced you to become 
>> Atheist.
>> sdw
> :) Are ya trying to get me shot? Pretty soon, here in the Giant Wang, 
> that might just happen:

Come on, stand up for your convictions!  But keep your head down!

> http://www.blogwood.com/archives/001086.html. I'm pretty sure a goodly 
> portion of evangelicals ("just christians") would think I'm attacking 
> them if I said that.

I actually understand this legislation, although it is going too far.
On the one hand, you need to be able to protect yourself.  On the other, 
you don't want to be injured if you aren't really at fault or intending 
to do harm.

The problem is that in any circumstance outside a protected environment 
like a house, to function in society you must allow yourself to be 
exposed with almost no protection.  A classic example might be a barber 
with a straight edge razor giving you a shave.  He could cut your throat 
and you would have no chance to protect yourself.  All society can do is 
limit how long he can do that.  Similarly, any of a thousand passerbys 
in a large city could harm you first, possibly fatally, without even 
much of a likelihood of being caught.  As a security analyst (one of my 
stack of hats) I see these kinds of dangers everywhere.  If you really 
feel that you are a target, you should be able to mount at least 
somewhat effective self-defense.

The problem of course is the accidental or apparently accidental 
escalation caused by being paranoid, trigger happy, or simply 
misunderstanding.  My best friend at the time, over 17 years ago, almost 
shot me because of an odd circumstance coupled with my bad handwriting.  
Luckily he decided to take a swing at me first rather than pull out the 
gun in his glove compartment and my complete ignorance of the problem 
led us to resolve the misunderstanding.  (He was dead in a year at 29 of 
an apparent heart attack, so don't get any ideas.  My karma index must 
be high.  :-) )

> Two stories. Years ago, when the Jehovah Witnesses were pestering our 
> neighborhood, (this was in NY, where I'm from), I was taking a soc of 
> religion course. When they came to the door, I told them I was an 
> Atheist thinking that would would get rid of them.

At 12 or 13 I was invited to go to "church" with the JWs.  I never went 
proselytizing because I never went beyond "I don't believe in God".  
They run on a different set of memes than traditional religions.  They 
try to be more rational, but end up a perfect illustration of: "Reason 
is a system whereby one may go wrong with confidence."

I also went to an Apostolic church, Methodist, Baptist, and others in my 
tiny little Ohio town full of churches.  I even was pulled into a 
traveling preacher tent thing.  All of it just made it clear how much of 
a business it was and how irrational everyone was.  I also then 
understood the pseudo-mystical group inducement of magical feelings that 
people think of as being "in touch with God".  I can see now that it 
probably involves not only the mythology and peer-pressure, but also the 
strange combinations of limbic emotion cues generated by "true 
believers".  (Apostolics have "speaking in tongues" fits as part of 

> That just made them come back more often. I think they believe that if 
> they turn atheists around, that's better than snagging a Catholic.

If I have the time and energy, they risk getting a good dose of 
anti-religion memes.
Actually, the most religious person I've met in a long time was in 
Helsinki, Finland.  Holy Roller to the max.

> A couple of years later, I was teaching at a university in NY. I 
> mentioned something in class about not believing. Most of the students 
> in the room gasped. They were horrified. Good upper middle class, blue 
> state children of parents wealthy enough to afford the, at the time, 
> $30k tuition. Aren't they the supposed liberal humanists that 
> evangelicals are constantly going on about?

Freshmen or seniors?  I bet it probably makes a big difference.

> When I transplanted to the Giant Wang, well, lemme tell ya, teaching 
> in the Giant Wang's Bible Belt was a real anthropological experience. 
> I taught on the coast and in the Bible Belt. It was like traveling 
> between two worlds.

Giant Wang eh?  That's a new one for my poor sheltered soul.  I'll never 
look at a map of the US the same.  An analysis of masculine and feminine 
continents, countries, and regions might be funny.

> The weird thing is, I used to defend communities of faith against 
> unfair attacks. That was in NY. In the Giant Wang, having it 
> constantly in my face drives me guano. Here, a school functions, we 
> don't pray to any generic deity. We have to pray to the dead guy on a 
> stick. I couldn't believe it. A school function!

Virginia, amazingly enough, has become a bit progressive.  They have a 
minute of silence every day, but with strict rules.  I don't know that 
the rest of activities are "clean" however.


swilliams at hpti.com http://www.hpti.com Per: sdw at lig.net http://sdw.st
Stephen D. Williams 703-724-0118W 703-995-0407Fax 20147-4622 AIM: sdw

More information about the FoRK mailing list