“Why do we do this the hard way, Sergeant?” “Because I said so!”

My oldest son is currently living this nightmare in the armed forces.

Don’t you see this every day? People making the same bad financial choices, the same bad life choices, the same bad moral choices.

Today, make different choices, better choices. Take a walk rather than watch the game on the tube. Read a book instead of spending hours web browsing. Play a board game with your kids and avoid the latest “reality” show. Volunteer for a charity near to your heart, drop by your neighbor and say, “Hello”, or donate to a worthy cause.

Do something right.

The Incredible Chootz-pah!; or, Just How Stupid Must You Be to Be a Politician?

We all have events and deeds in our lives that we’re ashamed of. Many committed youthful indiscretions are chalked up to “he’s being a kid” or “she just needs to grow up a little” or (my least favorite) “boys will be boys”.

Most of us learn from those events and deeds and grow up a bit and don’t repeat them.

However, it would seem that many politicians, already full of hubris (or because of hubris), just don’t absorb those lessons well.

  • California governor Arnold Schwarzeneger not only had a years-long affair with his children’s nanny, but actually fathered a child by her and kept her in his employment — and all of this before he ever ran for governor! He had to know that news of his actions would eventually leak. (Schwarzenegger and his wife are now in divorce proceedings.)
  • U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner made a habit of sending unsolicited pictures of his genitalia to women. He had to know that news of his actions would eventually leak. (Weiner resigned his seat in the House.)
  • Former House Speaker Newton Gingrich, now running for the highest office of the most powerful country on Earth, cheated on his (sick with cancer) first wife, divorced her, married his paramour, and then cheated on her, divorced her, and married his new paramour. (Gingrich continues to run for President.)
  • Married businessman Herman Cain, also running for the highest office of the most powerful country on Earth, not only had four different women file complaints about his unwanted sexual advances (and no one knows how many more that didn’t file), but continued to have a years-long affair with a woman that he “thought was a friend”. He had to know that news of his actions would eventually leak. (Cain is reportedly “reconsidering” his campaign.)

All of these politicians (and many, many others) knew what they had done, knew that they were pursuing a career where (at least nominally) moral fiber is looked upon as a desirable attribute, and yet continued to flash, adulter, and procreate outside societal bounds.

Did they really think they’d get away with it? Did they really think people were that blind and stupid? Did Michele Bachmann really think she could simultaneously 1) claim that “big government” was giving away too much money, and 2) accept annual 5-figure farm subsidy payments for a farm that produces nothing, and 3) deny that she’s getting farm subsidies despite tax returns that give proof to the contrary?

Why the HELL would you want to vote
for people like that?

Just…just…wow.

Occasionally, you run across morality preserved in a piece of art that makes you just say, “….wow.”

Here’s what I ran across today:

Yeah, it has some religious references in it, but Chaplin’s speech (from The Great Dictator) is still one of the great humanist soliloquies.

“Eat our veggies–they’re good for you”

Proper morality includes the drive to care for the ones you love to the very best of your abilities, and to work to fulfill the goals that your drive dictates.

One good example: growing your own vegetables.

Aside from the physical beauty and healthy green of a garden:

Purple broccoli from our garden

…there is a bountiful harvest of food bursting with freshness and flavor, and not bursting with pesticides, herbicides, preservative waxes, over-fertilized soil, fungicides, artificial color, irradiation, and using genetically modified stock whose nutritive values are greatly reduced for sake of color or shelf life or resistance to weeds (in other words, a sacrifice of food value for monetary gain).

This came from our garden just today. Clockwise from left--broccoli of various colors, zucchini, thyme (hiding behind the broccoli leaves), beets, garlic, a couple of kinds of cucumber

You can do this, too. The internet is full of good sources of information on how-tos, suggestions for garden designs, and how to prepare the food you grow.

But you have to take that first step–you have to do it.

(For all this, I most humbly thank The Spouse®. With a little help from me and the Four Horsemen, she makes all this happen. And baby, we haven’t even gotten to the tomatoes, which will start ripening in about two weeks.)

The latest moral outrage, part 1

Frank Zappa nailed it on the head many years ago when he feared that a “fascist theocracy” based upon Christianity dogma would attempt to command first American society, and then American government.

An Iowa group called The Family Leader has placed one more brick into that wall of fascist theocracy. This group of Christian pinheads has formulated a 14-point document entitled “The Marriage Vow”.

There are so many moral outrages contained within this short missive that I’m gonna take this puppy down in several posts.

First up–the intro!

We kick things right off with “proving” that “faithful monogamy” is the core of proper morality by invoking the Holy Quartet–scripture, philosophers (obviously these people have never read Herr Nietzsche), “natural law” (nature has nothing to do with volitional morality), and the American founding fathers. I’m surprised they didn’t toss in Mom and apple pie while they were at it.

~~~

Next up: race!

“Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA‟s first African-American President.”

Really? Really?? Slave marriage was not recognized by the government of any state that observed legal slavery. Mothers, fathers, and children were separated at the whim of slaveowners and the demands of economics, including those slaves owned by American founding fathers.

And note the not-so-subtle racial dig at Barack Obama. There was no need to mention his race in that statement, and yet there it is. Don’t let it be said that fundie Christians are color-blind, because a lot of them are of the “well, you know that family is…*that* color” level of bigotry.

~~~

And now, a Trifecta! Gays, divorce, and infidelity!

“Social protections, especially for women and children, have been evaporating as we have collectively “debased the currency” of marriage. This debasement continues as a function of adultery; “quickie divorce;” physical and verbal spousal abuse; non-committal co-habitation; pervasive infidelity and “unwed cheating” among celebrities, sports figures and politicians; anti-scientific bias which holds, in complete absence of empirical proof, that non-heterosexual inclinations are genetically determined, irresistible and akin to innate traits like race, gender and eye color; as well as anti-scientific bias which holds, against all empirical evidence, that homosexual behavior in particular, and sexual promiscuity in general, optimizes individual or public health.”

No reputable study I’ve ever read says that homosexuality is genetic in nature. Of course, claiming that being gay is not something you inherit is seen as an open door to “Oh! then they must choose to be that way”. Wrong, bunky. No one knows what causes one person to feel attraction toward another of the same gender, and that includes you.

So, it seems that, according to The Family Leader (can I hear a sieg heil?), if we all just get married, and stay married (never mind that black eye and broken cheekbone he gave you last month), and have children (poor infertile couples!), and not be gay, America will be great. This is just one more pisspoor attempt to foster some mushroom-eater’s view of what the world ought to be. But it’ll never be that way…

…because we’re human, goddammit! with human frailties. And the only healthy way to get over the frailties is to find the moral fiber within ourselves to do the things that are good, and not to do the things that are bad. We should NEVER allow someone to persuade us that God, or Allah, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster for that matter, will show us how to be good people. Good comes from within, not without.

~~~

…and in our next thrilling episode: the 14 points, and how to sign the pledge AND worm out of the points of the pledge–all in one place!

“It’s the context, the *context*, that’s important!”

The above quote is from George Carlin, who was referring to “dirty words”. He said there was no such thing as “dirty words”. He claimed that words, in and of themselves, were morally neutral. It was the context in which the words were used that was important. Richard Pryor called himself a nigger; that didn’t make him a racist.

A recent Gallup poll underlines a similar issue:

The poll, while it displays a heartening increase in societal tolerance of homosexuality, is derived from a mistaken assumption; it assumes there is a moral dimension to sex itself.

The act of sex (any sort of sex) is morally neutral; it’s the context of the act that is important. Was it consensual? Was it done to hurt someone? Was it done in an act of dishonesty? The context might make it immoral.

Given that, there should be no question about the morality of homosexuality, or its legal status. Proper laws must derive from an ethical or moral lapse. You do something wrong? You should be punished.

Name one thing that is morally or objectively wrong about homosexuality. I’ll wait.

(cricketchirpcricketchirp)

You can’t, because there isn’t anything morally or objectively wrong about it.

Random musings about morality

1. Use of any drug is a morally neutral act, in and of itself. Any action that takes place as a result of drug use is as immoral an act as it would be if you did it while stone sober. Driving recklessly while drunk or stoned is no worse morally than driving in the same manner while not using drugs or booze.

2. Sex is a morally neutral act, in and of itself. What is often done with sex is where immorality comes into play. People can be hurt emotionally or physically, relationships can be destroyed or sabotaged, and participants can be manipulated. I wish the fundies would unlearn the erroneous idea that sex and purity have anything to do with each other, and let their controlling, bitter (and in many cases closeted) selves go.

3. Basing moral choices strictly upon the dictate of religious scripture (of any flavor) is insanity of the first water. Almost all scripture is internally self-contradicting, and any attempt to ignore inconvenient portions of scripture (i.e., Revelations) is a very slippery slope. True moral choices come from within the person who seeks truth and faces it unflinchingly.

Are you born with a moral instinct?

“You see, they assumed that Man has a moral instinct.”

“Sir? I thought–but he does. I have!”

“No, my dear, you have a cultivated conscience, a most carefully trained one. Man has no moral instinct. He is not born with moral sense. You were not born with it, I was not born with it–and a puppy has none. We acquire moral sense, when we do, through training, experience, and hard sweat of mind.”

–Lt.-Colonel Jean V.  Dubois, M.I., retired, from Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers

Thought for the day

William Shakespeare always could turn a phrase well. Never in the English language did anyone so deftly describe the human condition, nor succinctly give sound moral advice. Here’s an exquisite little nugget from Hamlet:

Hamlet [to Polonius]. Good my lord, will you see the players well bestowed? Do you hear, let them be well used; for they are the abstract and brief chronicles of the time: after your death you were better have a bad epitaph than their ill report while you live.

Polonius. My lord, I will use them according to their desert.

Hamlet. God’s bodykins, man, much better: use every man after his desert, and who should ‘scape whipping? Use them after your own honour and dignity: the less they deserve, the more merit is in your bounty.

Indeed.

Postscript: the following video clip leads right up to, but does not complete, the entire quote. However, the clip does present the First Player’s soliloquy, nicely delivered by Charleston Heston.