Thursday, September 09, 2010

 

Political Mayhem Thursday: Burning issues with Pickles the Cat

As I should have expected, I received an email yesterday, purportedly from Pickles the Cat, whom I have not seen since the "volleyball incident." It appears that Pickles has some opinions, which are included below.

As a cat, I have had to endure many unpleasant associations with those who are not “like me” and do not believe what I believe. For example, as anyone knows, having to share your home with humans and dogs is not necessarily enjoyable or for the faint of heart. Yet, these creatures can be tolerated, especially when one of them is refilling the food dish. Also, although the entire house is officially mine – I let them do their thing here in order to get fed and have air conditioning in the summer and heat and a fire in the fireplace in the winter – sometimes I have to give up some of my rights for the good of the whole, such as when the humans have guests over and I can’t sit in the middle of the dining room table.

That said, I like keeping up with the news. There is one theme that has continued to make this a very long, hot summer. There is one that has made me wake up hissing and clawing. Many people are so hell-bent on their own rights that they have lost the understanding of tolerance, including:

• The International Burn a Quran (Koran) Day: Apparently Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center (doves… yum!) in Gainesville, Fla. thought it was a really good idea to have people send in copies of the Quran so he and his staff could burn them and by doing so lessen the evil in the world. Take note that he has not ever read the Quran, so I am a little concerned about his basis for the evil it contains. As Aaryn Belfer, one of my favorite writers, wrote, “I personally prefer to read a book before I burn it.” In my opinion, Pastor Jones would do better to grill some doves. If so, I would actually go.

• And Pastor Jones is not the only church leader to focus on the evils of Islam. In Dallas, Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of the First Baptist Church, refers to Islam as the “evil religion” and created a sermon specifically to let his congregation know why. (He also preached the sermon “Why Gay is Not OK” last year …) I was born in South Dallas, so I don’t like it when my hometown is mocked because a preacher who can raise $115 million to re-do his church buildings makes such widespread judgments.

• And to keep with the Muslim theme this Thursday, has anyone heard there is a group that is trying to build an Islamic community center mosque in the proximity of where the World Trade Center stood in New York? I think I missed that one in the paper. (Meow – gotcha there!)

Across America people are enraged at these ideas and events. Likewise, there are most likely just as many who support them. Maybe there should be both. Maybe it is a bad idea to burn what is the religious text for 1.5 billion people worldwide or call their religion evil. Maybe it is in poor taste to build an Islamic community center near a site where 3000 Americans died because of extreme Islamic ideals. The deal is that the very thing that gives us the right to do any of these things – regardless of their ability to offend – is the First Amendment. Anyone has the right to say, believe, preach, and (usually) burn or build what they want. I know there are exceptions but I am a cat not a lawyer or scholar, so cut me a break on that one. But, just because it is your right, is it the right thing to do?

(And that whole thing about Professor Osler freaking out because I “accidentally” made him break his ankle… Seriously? He was more mad about that than the time I “borrowed” all of his things and took them to Mexico. I will cover those issues in my next post as well as respond to the derogatory term that has been used about me. )

Comments:
(I knew this was coming, but did not know it would be via cat. Can we have Pickles get in a fight with Annie-Poo Robinson?)

So, everyone is upset about burning the Koran. Where was all this anger when Muslims were desecrating Christian holy sites? There is a double standard.
 
The Islamic center near - but not "at" - Ground Zero should be built, mostly because few other things would show the world that we are not the country or the people the radicals within Islam say we are.

And if the media would ignore those two nut-job pastors -- not to mention the Parises, Lindsays, and Britneys of the world, who are not pastors but more general nut-jobs -- then we would stop GIVING the radicals within Islam stuff that stokes their fires.

Stupid humans...
 
Just because other people do bad things does not mean that it is OK to suddenly do bad things ourselves. Jones' little publicity stunt is crass and serves no greater purpose, and will in all likely provoke retaliation. That does not make the retaliation right or justified, but a little discernment ought to be in order.

The view of Islam as an "evil" religion is not new; it has been a part of Christianity for centuries. But now, it is politically expedient because it gins up the emotions of majority-white Christians against majority-non-white Muslims, and will likely bring conservative voters out to the polls. Conservatives are hoodwinking Christians here, and that is a desecration, too. Who was Jesus more likely to have thrown out of a temple: money-changers, or members of other religions?

Also, as far as "desecrating" each others' holy sites go, you Christians and Muslims have been at this for well over a thousand years. It didn't stop with the Crusades, it is not going to stop now, but those of us in non-Abraham land wish all three of you would just knock it off and get along. You all worship the same God, you venerate many of the same people, and your religions have the same basic tenets and forms of worship. If we, who Christianity displaced co-opted, and generally stamped out throughout much of Europe's history, can forget and forgive and get along, so can everyone else. Be nice.
 
Anon 12:08...

Lane's got it right (as he often does, IMO). If we are better than this, or than "them," then we will not do as they do.
 
Cheers to Lane - well put!

One final thought on the Gainesville goof-ball. He should be careful as there is a BIG football game at the Swamp on Saturday and there will be a lot of drunken college students roaming the streets and we all know that college students love a good bonfire.
 
A few of their radicals burn down two skyscrapers full of people. One of our radicals burns a book.

This is supposed to be anything alike?
 
"it is politically expedient because it gins up the emotions of majority-white Christians against majority-non-white Muslims"

Not to disagree with your constant need to inject conservative racism into every discussion, but while Christianity may still be a majority-white religion in America, I think there is a fair amount of anti-Islam sentiment amongst the millions of black Christians, and the millions of Hispanic Christians as well. This isn't a racial issue, it is a religious and cultural one.

I think burning the Quran is dumb. I also think people that burn the American flag are dumb. I think everyone should quit burning stuff, unless your team has won a national championship, in which case burning a couch is perfectly acceptable.

What bothers me, not a lot but a little bit, is that the same people that are so ready to jump up and scream at the top of their lungs to defend some hippie's right to say crazy things about America and burn flags and whatnot seem less interested in the civil rights aspects of this case.

Also, I think fear of retaliation is an awful reason to be against this. One thing I'm sure of is that we shouldn't stop speech due to the threats of violence. I think there are a few South Park episodes you should go watch on that point. The radical elements in Islam cannot be shown that we will give in to threats of violence and turn our back on our constitutional rights. He shouldn't burn the books because it is dumb, ineffective, silly, and culturally insensitive. But he shouldn't not burn the books because we are afraid of terrorists, because then they've already won.
 
Well, to be fair, I feel the same way about flag burning. Sure, I guess it is a form of protected speech, but it is not one that we ought to engage in. I'd feel the same if people were burning the Diamond Sutra or the Bible or even "Mein Kampf" or one of Glenn Beck's books. Book burning is bad, bad, bad, bad. Flag burning is bad. These actions are provocative without really saying much. "Oooh, I'm mad and don't like these people! I'll burn something they care about! That'll show 'em!"

However, black and Hispanic Christians (at least those sources that I read, like Jack and Jill Politics) are more upset at the anti-Muslim sentiment than many of their paler counterparts (although, in fairness, quite a few faith leaders, many of them social conservatives, have spoken out against any sort of faith-based discrimination, which I applaud) because this sort of furor is reminiscent of discrimination their parents and grandparents suffered.

Thankfully the US has stayed well away from the European model of "Islamophobia," which is an embarrassment to all European nations that continue to tolerate it.
 
Ain't religion wonderful - does so much to help with us all getting along. Superstition fosters such lovely controversy. How about we all grow up and knock off the Big Daddy stuff and get on with a rational, non-polarizing, logical approach to life?

But that would mean that people would have to think for themselves - probably a lost cause.

Lee
 
Lee,

There is a two-part South Park episode called "Go God Go" that you need to watch.

To sum up, religion isn't the problem. Human nature is the problem. If we took away religion we would just find something else to fight about. Its just the way we are hard wired.
 
"Go, God, Go!" was a three-part episode, wasn't it?

Conflict boils down to resources; one side has something the other side wants. Religion is a convenient justification for war, but there are others. It ain't the cause.
 
RRL -

I will be burning my bras this weekend just so I can burn something.

Now I did not object to disco demolition. That music was pretty bad!
 
I think it was a two-part deal Lane, first part Cartman gets frozen, second part the otters and whatnot. Regardless, however many parts it is, it is excellent.
 
I WILL SMASH YOU LIKE A CLAM UPON MY TUMMY!

(See, even I can enjoy a show put out by libertarians! Something for everyone.)
 
Is South Park the one with Bart and his skateboard?
 
He just cancelled his plans to host a bonfire this weekend!
 
I burned a Homecoming Float down once. But I wasn't protesting anything.
 
IPLG--

Twice. You burned the float down twice. I was there the second time. It was important, since we didn't get to be in the parade for two years...
 
Anon 12:08 and Anon 9:36...

The presence of two negatives does not necessarily equal the presence of a positive. Two wrongs do not make a right.

RRL @ 12:46... RIGHT ON! Human nature is the problem, not religion or religious belief. My kids have asked me, "How come people fight wars?" I tell them it goes back to prehistoric times, when anyone from another group was literally a threat to one's survival, because of the competition for food (a limited resource).

That sense of "different = wrong" is part of our DNA. Unfortunately.
 
I'm not so sure that different = wrong is genetic, since that would imply a bit of genetic determinism in how people are. Rather, we learn at an early age that those of us that are most like us (family) will share resources and may be trusted, while we must be suspicious of those that are not like us (not-family) as they do not share with us. Some studies have shown that even at a young age we consider those we have the most interaction with to be "different" than those we have only limited interaction with. Children who are not blood siblings but raised together from infancy will have, for example, the same taboo toward incest. It is not similarity in genetics that causes it, but rather the proximity in which we are raised.

The basic point is still valid, though: conflict happens because some people have what others want/need. Religion provides a justification (our faith commands that we attack!), the same as politics does (patriotism demands that we attack!) or even nationalism (they have insulted us; thus, we attack!). The basic source of the conflict, however, is that there is a differnece in the distribution of resources between the two groups, and one group is a threat to the continued possession/use of a resource by the other.
 
Anon 6:29 ~ Patriotism does not demand we attack. It is about love and devotion to one's country. If it demanded we attack we would all be conscripted into military service during our life.
 
The anon was me. And I didn't mean American patriotism specifically (patriotism is neither an American invention nor something we monopolized). Lots of countries throughout history did/do have conscripted military service. So did we less than half a century ago.
 
A-you weren't there. You were a Freshman and probably studying or something ridiculouse

B-You well know that it was Fat Kenny who did it the second time. (or a catalytic converter)
 
These events always make me so sad. Unfortunately it is always the loudest that gets the most attention and that person is rarely representative of the whole. This is the case in the pastor burning the Qur'an: the world is watching him and I continue to hope that those who don't know much about Christianity don't think he is what all Christians are like. This was also the case in 9/11: the Muslim extremists (as their name suggests) are not what the entire religion is like. So many Muslims spoke out to say "we don't believe what they believed - don't see us as being like them."

My other frustration comes from people like the pastor not living out the tenets of their faith. The pastor is not living out the Golden Rule of "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." I doubt the pastor would approve of Muslims or anyone else burning the Bible. He would probably make the same arguments to them as the nation was making to him.

One final thought that I always thinks goes unnoticed by any religious person. The Golden Rule exists in every faith and even the non-religious often find it is at the core of their values. For example: "An' it harm none, do what ye will" (Wicca), "Hurt not others that you yourself would find hurtful" (Buddhism), "Whatever is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow man" (Judaism), "And if thine eyes be turned towards justice, choose thou for thy neighbor that which thou choosest for thyself" (Baha'i), and so on. If people could live this out in their lives, it seems to me that a lot of problems would be solved.
 
"Thankfully the US has stayed well away from the European model of "Islamophobia," which is an embarrassment to all European nations that continue to tolerate it."

I'm curious as to what this actually entails (In Lane's mind). Generally what I think he refers to is no different than the xenophobia that exists here.

While there is some historical context based on Islam reaching as far as Vienna around the 14-15th centuries and obviously Spain. (By the way, the Alhambra is a must see for any tourist). But I'm curious as to which countries you seem to think do or don't continue to tolerate it. Because what I've learned in my travels around the world and from talking to those that go to places I haven't been, are
1) most of the Christian world is not white.
2) most other nations are much more xenophobic and racist than America
3) we could burn mosques and burn Korans daily on the capital steps and it wouldn't change the opinion of those who deem us evil because their religion says it so

though, If people would stop acting so outraged and let the crazies do their thing, we wouldn't have a story and we wouldn't have to "fear" retaliation.
If we are so tolerant and people have these freedom, why does everyone have to have a say or go all apeshit on TV about how wrong it is to burn a book or agree with this pastor? It really should be a non-issue because of theses rights and thus wouldn't make international headlines. It would be just another day where I went about my business.
I agree with RRL that all of a sudden the same people that go all ACLU on us about a fat kid's right to wear long hair at school are suddenly concerned with how this might affect our relationship with the Muslim world, rather than standing behind the nutjob pastor threatening a lawsuit if anyone gets in the way of him exercising his 1st Amendment rights.

As for "conservatives hoodwinking christians" comment I'll say this: Honestly, how many people do you think there are that would actually go to the polls and vote one white guy over another simply because the voter has been made soooo angry by Conservatives at Muslims! I'm not saying there aren't ANY, but do you honestly belive that there are conservative operatives planning this strategy out based on the numbers of people who will actually go vote because they are angry at a particular religion that has nothing to do with that contest?
 
"Thankfully the US has stayed well away from the European model of "Islamophobia," which is an embarrassment to all European nations that continue to tolerate it."

I'm curious as to what this actually entails (In Lane's mind). Generally what I think he refers to is no different than the xenophobia that exists here.

While there is some historical context based on Islam reaching as far as Vienna around the 14-15th centuries and obviously Spain. (By the way, the Alhambra is a must see for any tourist). But I'm curious as to which countries you seem to think do or don't continue to tolerate it. Because what I've learned in my travels around the world and from talking to those that go to places I haven't been, are
1) most of the Christian world is not white.
2) most other nations are much more xenophobic and racist than America
3) we could burn mosques and burn Korans daily on the capital steps and it wouldn't change the opinion of those who deem us evil because their religion says it so

though, If people would stop acting so outraged and let the crazies do their thing, we wouldn't have a story and we wouldn't have to "fear" retaliation.
If we are so tolerant and people have these freedom, why does everyone have to have a say or go all apeshit on TV about how wrong it is to burn a book or agree with this pastor? It really should be a non-issue because of theses rights and thus wouldn't make international headlines. It would be just another day where I went about my business.
I agree with RRL that all of a sudden the same people that go all ACLU on us about a fat kid's right to wear long hair at school are suddenly concerned with how this might affect our relationship with the Muslim world, rather than standing behind the nutjob pastor threatening a lawsuit if anyone gets in the way of him exercising his 1st Amendment rights.

As for "conservatives hoodwinking christians" comment I'll say this: Honestly, how many people do you think there are that would actually go to the polls and vote one white guy over another simply because the voter has been made soooo angry by Conservatives at Muslims! I'm not saying there aren't ANY, but do you honestly belive that there are conservative operatives planning this strategy out based on the numbers of people who will actually go vote because they are angry at a particular religion that has nothing to do with that contest?
 
"Thankfully the US has stayed well away from the European model of "Islamophobia," which is an embarrassment to all European nations that continue to tolerate it."

I'm curious as to what this actually entails (In Lane's mind). Generally what I think he refers to is no different than the xenophobia that exists here.

While there is some historical context based on Islam reaching as far as Vienna around the 14-15th centuries and obviously Spain. (By the way, the Alhambra is a must see for any tourist). But I'm curious as to which countries you seem to think do or don't continue to tolerate it. Because what I've learned in my travels around the world and from talking to those that go to places I haven't been, are
1) most of the Christian world is not white.
2) most other nations are much more xenophobic and racist than America
3) we could burn mosques and burn Korans daily on the capital steps and it wouldn't change the opinion of those who deem us evil because their religion says it so

though, If people would stop acting so outraged and let the crazies do their thing, we wouldn't have a story and we wouldn't have to "fear" retaliation.
If we are so tolerant and people have these freedom, why does everyone have to have a say or go all apeshit on TV about how wrong it is to burn a book or agree with this pastor? It really should be a non-issue because of theses rights and thus wouldn't make international headlines. It would be just another day where I went about my business.
I agree with RRL that all of a sudden the same people that go all ACLU on us about a fat kid's right to wear long hair at school are suddenly concerned with how this might affect our relationship with the Muslim world, rather than standing behind the nutjob pastor threatening a lawsuit if anyone gets in the way of him exercising his 1st Amendment rights.

As for "conservatives hoodwinking christians" comment I'll say this: Honestly, how many people do you think there are that would actually go to the polls and vote one white guy over another simply because the voter has been made soooo angry by Conservatives at Muslims! I'm not saying there aren't ANY, but do you honestly belive that there are conservative operatives planning this strategy out based on the numbers of people who will actually go vote because they are angry at a particular religion that has nothing to do with that contest?
 
sorry my computer froze and posted 3 times
 
I mean pretty much what you said: American xenophobia isn't as bad as it is in some other countries, such as (and I pick examples at random) the Netherlands or France.
 
IPLawGuy is a firebug? Now that's a shocking reader confession!
 
Lane - I was the Anon 7:35

This news just in. Gainesville to host large marshmallow roast tomorrow following the game. Pickles to attend as the 'peace and tolerance' representative from the Razor.
 
Pickles is in no way affiliated with the Razor or any of its subsidiaries.
 
Typical Minnesota-liberal backtracking. First Pickles is chosen by your readers to be a regular contributor after making numerous appearances on the Razor in the past. Then you post an e-mail he sent to you directly, and NOW, ALL OF A SUDDEN, you state he's "in no way affiliated with the Razor or any of its subsidiaries."
Please! You can't put the genie back in the bottle my friend.
Next we'll hear how you've changed you mind and his affiliation has merely been postponed!
 
Pickles may be back. But only if he can first meet with Felix the Cat and borrow his bag of tricks.
 
This news is disconcerting. I just made it through security (which was quite the feat as I had a fee "questionable" items in my carry-on) as I head to Gainesville to represent the Razor community. I plan to make a strong statement and have posters made with the likenesses and quotes of and from Lane and RRL as well as Christine's cat for moral support. As the TSA confiscated my fireworks, I will buy them upon arrival. I will report from the scene.
Pickles the Cat
 
My cat, YT, is a great huntress and is happy to be a Razor representative. She has relatives that resemble Pickles.
 
Pickles -

Send me an E-mail with flash mob directions, and me and my homie will be there!

Lee's Cats
 
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