Monday, July 16, 2012

It is AMAZING how seriously everything is taken on the Internet

Anthony Cumia, half of Sirius/XM's Opie and Anthony Show has invented, or at least popularized, a new sport - Twitter-Baiting.  He'll take what could be best described as a "contrary view" to a popular issue of the day, and sits back and watches the heartfelt pleas and vitriol roll in.

A few months back, he took the side of noted partier and (alleged, alleged) child-killer Casey Anthony.  Just started posting how she was getting pilloried in the media, and needed to get a fair shake in her trial.  Nothing that would sound unreasonable if you weren't talking about such a universally hated person.  (OK, he also said he wanted to bring her up to his palatial compound on Long Island for a celebratory party after the verdict, but hey, exaggeration is a tenet of comedy)

People came down on him like a house afire.  By a little judicious hash-tagging, he made sure that his comments were being seen by people who were tracking the issue, but had no idea who he was.  And for some reason, they responded to him with such verse and vigor to change his mind, you'd think he was the judge on the case.  He'd regularly claim that any woman who was against Casey was, to varying degrees, jealous, ugly, and fat.  Which as you can imagine, did SUCH a good job to calm them down.  It was truly a sight to behold.  Like sharks in a tank full of chum.  They were all so DESPERATE to change his mind, as if it would somehow change the minds of the world.

He's been doing it again concerning the Trayvon Martin / George Zimmerman case.  All he's done is tossed out innocuous statement suggesting that Mr. Zimmerman's feelings of being under threat might have been sufficiently legitimate, at least in his own mind, to warrant his actions.  And oh, do the well-meaning busybodies come out in force.  Here though, there's not as much attempt to change his mind, but a patent disbelief that he could even ENTERTAIN a varying mindset.  It's a subtle shift, but a telling one.

Now, in neither case do I even suspect the opinions expressed in any way represent Mr. Cumia's actual beliefs.  Like many on-air performers, like Rush and Glenn Beck, he takes a radically opposite position to get conversation flowing.  And brother, does he succeed.  Most of the conversation the aforementioned conservative hosts share are in agreement to them.  And that's usually as creepy as the radically dedicated to changing his mind that Anthony shares.  In both cases, we're talking about views deliberately crafted to allow no compromise - it's their way or, forget that one.

But in both cases, it's not as much a desire to get "the truth" out there, it's a desire to be the guy who changed Joe Famousguy's mind.  No matter how many people have come up and fallen against these people, this next guy is CONVINCED that he'll be the one to make the scales fall from the pompous windbag's eyes, and make him see the light.

And I listen (or read) and laugh, and await the inevitable.  It's like each time a new person asks Dr. Laura for help, honestly thinking that THEIR story of having five kids with four men, and no job nor prospects, will miraculously be the one to melt her heart and get her to offer assistance.  And each time, I ask my empty car, "Did this lady ever HEAR this show?"

It's a verbal, electronic equivalent of a dollar bill on a string.  There is ALWAYS someone ready to fall for it.

Friday, July 6, 2012

No, no, I meant freedom of MY religion

So down in Louisiana they passed a law that allows for vouchers to be used to pay for private (read - religious) schools to be paid with by state funds.

For the record, I'm okay with this.  There's a lot of folks sending their kids to parochial schools, not for the religious teaching, but for the superior education in all the other stuff, in comparison to the public schools in their area.

And in fact, if someone DOES want to send their kid to a religious school for the religious stuff, I'm cool with that too.  And it seems fair that the share of public school funds that would go to educating that kid (or at least a percentage of it) should go toward it, especially if they can show that the public schools in the area are not up to the proverbial snuff.

But that's not the point of this piece, so let's try not to get distracted.

The point is, that as the law was drafted, and all the legislators voted for it with fervor and zeal, they seem to have forgotten something.

Islam is a religion.

As reported in this piece from, a Muslim school applied for the funds, causing a great deal of hemming and hawing. Suddenly the law is being re-examined, and issues brought up (and largely ignored) before the vote are suddenly being given greater scrutiny, now that a need to Stop This Right Now has come to light.

Most are couching their protests with insulating verbiage, but Rep. Valarie Hodges is taking it a step further and saying aloud what the rest are merely thinking...
“I actually support funding for teaching the fundamentals of America’s Founding Fathers’ religion, which is Christianity, in public schools or private schools,”
How do you say "Dolt" in Farsi?

As I mentioned before, I'm okay with the idea of the law.  But clearly this lady (and one could infer with some confidence, others like her) only intended it to be used for Christian schooling only.  Oh, I imagine they'd have let some funding go to the Jews, but only cause they control the banks and everything.

I went to Catholic school for 11.5 / 12 years of my basic education.  In those years I learned, from both people of the cloth and lay-persons:
  • That the bible is allegorical, not literal
  • The existence of the Greenhouse Effect, what eventually became know as Global Warming
  • How evolution works
  • The importance of birth control
So, not exactly what one would think of as a religious education, based on what you hear today.
I also received what could best be described as a comparative religions course - over the years, I was exposed to the faiths and practices of other religions (mostly other Christian sects, but still) via filmstrips and the occasional field trip.  This served to show that most religions are similar more then they differ.  As such, I learned tolerance of other religions, perhaps more than they intended me to gain.

In short, I got a solid and rounded education with a background in religion, but not shaped by it.  Sadly, too many examples of "religious education" today are far more keen on the Religious than the Education.  And to suggest that any other form of religious education is only intended to misinform and brainwash is both naive and hypocritical.

It's well beyond tragic that this lady not only HOLDS the belief that Christianity is the One True Way, and that Islam is merely a cover story for terrorism, but that she feels no qualms with SHARING those beliefs, honestly thinking that she will be supported, perhaps even lauded, for saying so.

It is a bit more tragic still that she may be right.
As an aside, I would like to point out how cruel and hilarious ad-servers can be. I love the fact that this story, on a blog titled "The Friendly Atheist", was matched with ads touting the Church of Mormon.

It's equally funny when Amy Alkon, the Advice Goddess will post one of her surprising anti-Muslim posts, will almost always be sponsored by a website offering Muslim matchmaking services.