Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Islam and free speech

As usual lately, this will be a fairly brief post. I just heard a news story about a student at Pace University who apparently threw a copy of the Quran in the toilet...twice. I assume it wasn't the same copy, but who knows. Anyway, he's being charged with a hate crime and CAIR (the Council on American-Islamic Relations) is supporting these charges.

Why? Look, I love and respect books of any kind, and it bothers me when people do anything to destroy, harm, or desecrate them. (I suppose this is at least in part due to growing up with a mother who owned a bookstore.) I don't care what book it is--I hate to see them destroyed. I'm not arguing that what this student did was disrespectful and possibly intolerant...but he didn't harm anyone (to the best of my knowledge), he simply treated a holy book in a way that is offensive to the religion. I don't condone his actions, but is that really a hate crime or just disrespect and intolerance?

I view it as free speech, just as much as burning an American flag is free speech. Like it or not, the bill of rights protects freedom of speech--ALL speech, not just the speech that you might like or agree with. Look, I believe that it is the right of a white supremacist group to shout their message from the rooftops. That is NOT to say their message doesn't make me angry, disgusted, sad, and confused. Their message is terrible, it is based on blind, irrational hatred, and it is something I don't think I can ever understand....but it is their inalienable right to express their views, regardless of my (or anyone's) personal opinion of them.

I think the same goes for the student who desecrated the Quran. I disagree with his actions, I don't believe in deliberately taking actions that deeply offend any religion, and I think it speaks of disrespect and intolerance for Islam. Regardless, it is his inalienable right to express his views...how can an act protected by the Bill of Rights that harms no one be considered a hate crime?

What do you think?

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Brief humor

The Big Guy and I went to dinner with some friends of ours--a fellow nonbeliever as well as a Catholic couple and their baby. I don't know how we got on the topic of religion, but the 10 plagues of Passover came up. We were discussing the different plagues and how to deal with them, when our female Catholic friend suggested that the best way to deal with a plague of locusts would be to throw an atheist at them, because surely the locusts would hate atheists far more than any religious people.

The comment was made in good fun (of course), and I just think that the idea is brilliant and hilarious. Beyond that, it does suggest that the religious community should be more accepting of atheists--we may be their best hope of protection if we have any more plagues!

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Monday, July 23, 2007

YouTube Debate

Ok, so the big guy and I just watched the YouTube debate for the democratic presidential hopefuls. It was by far the most enjoyable debate I've ever watched, which says something--I've been a political junkie since I was in middle school. The format really changed things, some of the videos were really enjoyable, and I thought it was interesting to have the voters ask the questions to all the hopefuls, not just the final candidates in a single town hall meeting. Here are my thoughts (many of which are not politically insightful or relevant).

Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn.
As with all of the candidates, I agree with him on some issues and some issues I disagree with him on some issues. That's about all I can say about him...I was just generally unimpressed with him. He didn't have much of a presence, he didn't seem to be really involved or passionate about any of the issues.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y.
Ok, I haven't ever really liked Hillary. I love Bill and I want him back, and I think that colored my perception of Hillary. In tonight's debate I saw her as a candidate who really wants change and who is passionate about it--not just a politician for the sake of politics. I thought she seemed the most presidential of all the candidates, which is impossible to define, I suppose. She seemed confident, poised, passionate, and competent. I also like that she's willing to go on the offensive, not just play nice. As long as she doesn't run a campaign based on attack ads I think that going on the offensive is a good thing.

Former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C.
Eh. I agreed with him a lot, but I just don't like him. He seems too much like a politician (no shit)--he seemed condescending to me. He talks about poverty all the time (and I agree that poverty is a huge problem that needs to be addressed), but he seems condescending even when he talks about the people he wants to help. He's too slick and doesn't seem genuine to me. He does get points for being honest about gay marriage--he said that he is against it personally because of his religious beliefs but that his religious beliefs will not impact his decisions as president. w00t for that--it reminds me of Gov. Kaine here in VA--he said publicly that he is against the death penalty but that he can't just take it away because he is a public servant, and he can only do his best to act on what the people want.

Gov. Bill Richardson, D-N.M.
I love Bill Richardson. I really, really do. He has the most experience with international relations (UN ambassador under Clinton, negotiated with North Korea and Iraq for hostage situations, negotiated ceasefire in Darfur in January of this year) and a fantastic environmental record, as well as federal and state government experience. Ok, I know that I'm showing who I really want to win, but I know he doesn't have a chance. He didn't get a lot of time in the debate, and I don't think he really got his points across--partly because of time restraints, partly because he just wasn't as clear and concise as he could have been. Still, I think he did pretty well.

Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., D-Del.
He seemed condescending to me. He kept talking about what he has done before, trying to emphasize all of his accomplishments (even belittling his opponents at times), but not being as clear about what he would do if he were elected. He just didn't seem to respect the others and didn't seem to be looking forward as much as he was looking back.

Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, D-Ohio
Ahh...Kucinich. I have a soft spot for him. He doesn't have a chance, but I love that he says what he believes, doesn't pull punches, and is proud of being very liberal. I thought he did a good job of getting his message through and being forceful when needed during the debate.

Former Sen. Mike Gravel, D-Alaska
I was scared. He was so angry and incoherent...I have no idea what his position is on anything, but I know that he feels strongly about it. The big guy liked him, but I was just scared and confused.

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.
I like Obama better than Edwards. He does seem very young and he doesn't have the most experience, but I'm ok with that. I'm not sure if I prefer Obama or Hillary better--neither are my favorite, but I could deal with either of them...I think I lean towards Hillary right now, though. I never expected that.

Best quote of the debate:
"What I like best about Dennis Kucinich is his wife."
--Sen. Biden, when asked to say one good thing and one bad thing about the candidate to his left (Kucinich)

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Friday, July 6, 2007

Intelligent design

This will be brief, because I'm already in a bad mood about ID and typing puts me in a worse mood (can't wait to get the splint off).

So, in the interest of not typing a lot and making myself even angrier (my husband will appreciate it), I will propose a thought and trust you, my fine readers, to make the logical conclusions and connections. Observe:

The Scientific Method:

The scientific method is...well, scientific and is the basis for all empirical research and scientific theories, like you know...evolution. Compare that to...

Intelligent Design:
God did it.
In six days.
Then he was quite tired, so he took a rest.
This all happened 6,000 years ago.

Consider how those two concepts clash. Discuss.

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