Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Terri Shiavo

UPDATE 4/6/2005: Now many conservatives after Terri's death are blaming their own ranks! You've got to read this truly misguided forum!

Ok... enough is enough.

Terri Shiavo is one person, who according to 22 decisions from county, state and federal courts over the course of the last 12 years, would not want to stay in this world as a vegetable. End of story.

Some people claim that her husband can't speak for her because he is a bad husband and shouldn't have moved on with his life as soon as he did. Some people claim the parents of Shiavo love her more than her husband and thus know her wishes better than her husband. Some people claim that starving her to death by removing her feeding tube is inhumane. Some people believe that she should die because if a machine is the only thing keeping her alive, that's not living.

You know what I think?

Terri's wishes are her own. If she wanted to die, she should be able to die in peace and privacy. If she wanted to live, she should be able to live as long as her surviving relatives can afford or are willing. It should not matter the opinions of people who do not know her or have political agendas to prop up using her.

For example, I fail to see how a retired physician in our senate (Majority Leader Bill Frist) after watching only 30 mins of footage of this poor woman filmed 10 years ago by Randall Terry (leader of Operation Rescue) can give a speech about how Terry Schiavo is not, "in his expert medical opinion" in a vegetative state! This is the same "doctor" who couldn't even answer basic questions about AIDS contraction and condom effectiveness on This Week with George Stephanopoulos:

STEPHANOPOULOS: ... Do you believe that tears and sweat can transmit HIV?

FRIST: I don't know. I can tell you ...

STEPHANOPOULOS: You don't know?

FRIST: I can tell you things like, like ...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, wait, let me stop you, you don't know that, you believe that tears and sweat might be able to transmit AIDS?

FRIST: Yeah, no, I can tell you that HIV is not very transmissible as an element like, compared to smallpox, compared to the flu. It is not, but the first slide, because I think it's dangerous to show that and then sort of walk away.

What kind of MD can make statements like this? A politician who values ideology over science and reality.

Meanwhile, Terri is in the middle of this; she is a real person, not some bumper sticker, speech or symbol. She is a human being with choice, and her choice should be respected.

That having been said, the courts have repeatedly decided in favor of letting her die, because they believe her husband and other witnesses that knew her understood her wishes better than her parents do.

Why is this an issue then?

Because instead of remembering Terri like this,

Most people only see her as this.

I only hope I am not so remembered.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

American Propaganda?

After reading the recent NY Times article posted on anti-righty (entire article) a few days ago, I felt more than betrayed by our traditional media outlets. Who can be truly surprised by the current administration's role in this? But there is no way this government-sponsored "fake news" program could even work if it wasn't for the CNNs and FoxNews stations out there that pretend these short propaganda films are anything but a violation of their independence.

Read the article or just read part of it. The more you read, the more you will stop trusting any news you see out there unless you know the source. That's where we've come to now. I used to think people that read the Drudge Report were stupid ... now if I don't go to or BBC News, I can't assume the legitimacy of what I watch or read at all! "Orwell", as one poster put it, "was just 20 years early."

If you want to do something about it , sign the petition to hold the major news stations accountable. Start your own petitions for your local affiliates. Let them know you want real news, not fake news!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Beyond the Politics of Hate

I just retrieved this from the anti-righty livejournal community and was blown away by it. I'll let this Dekalb Middle School student speak for herself:

NEW ATTITUDES: Gay parents set a loving example for children
Mary Manganello - For the Journal-Constitution

Tuesday, March 8, 2005

What do you think when you think of gay people? Most people would answer that question with sounds of disgust. But why? What did gay people do that was so bad? Why do so many people hate gay people?

Is there a reason? Well, most people would say, "It says so in the Bible." Who wrote the Bible? Men. Men who feared. Men who had to be in control. Men who also said women should have no rights.

The same men who said women should have no rights also said that gay people should have no rights. But why? Because they feared what they didn't understand. You hide behind God. You say, "Well, God said that gay people can't be together, they won't go to heaven." But did he? No. He only left behind 10 laws. We know them as the Ten Commandments. None of them says, "Gays can't be together or they won't go to heaven." God loves and accepts everyone.

Don't you see that what happened only a few years ago is happening now? It used to be everyone hated the black people, but now it's everyone hates the gay people.

Is this what the world should be like? Hatred? No. God put us on this world to love.

Gay people are just like everyone else. They love. They have arguments. They want children. They have to eat to live. They die at old ages. So what makes them so different?

And if we made it against the law for gay people to be together, guess who else you'd be hurting? Children. The children in orphanages who always dreamed of having a real home, a home where they were loved and wanted.

Gay people are adopting children because they can't have children of their own. Trust me, I would know.

I am one of those children who were adopted by two gay men. They are the best family I've ever had. And they love.

They don't care that I'm black and they're white, they don't care that I look, sound or am different. They love. And who could understand that more than a child who had never been loved, and is finally loved by people whom other people hate?

I don't think that I could ever hate because I'm surrounded by real love.

Mary Manganello is a DeKalb County middle-schooler.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The Great Firewall of China

I am sickened by the growth of censorship, especially on a medium that we all used to think of as representing freedom incarnate. The internet used to be a haven for freedom, where no matter what government tried to restrict access there were at least a hundred ways to get around the restrictions. Now, the power of control is even greater on the internet than it is in the real world.

In the real world, you can't stop me from taping a radio show. In the real world, you don't time your customers in a bookstore and let them know that their time is up and now it's time to pay for the book. In the real world, I can listen or watch anything I want, whether I purchased it or not. Now, in the virtual world, the line between fair use and copyright has become blurred.

Copyright does not exist to restrict freedom in expression or freedom of access. It is meant to restrict one company selling another individual's work as its own. Copyright exists to help maintain the balance between creator and seller, not creator and critic or creator and fan.

In China, they have erected the "Great Firewall of China" to block potential damning political news and other internet resources from its people. Even though the BBC World News reports how easy it is to get around these restrictions (read full article here), there is the handwriting on the wall. The WWW is not free anymore. Slowly, the various censorship groups that ignored us technophiles are waking up, realizing the power behind all of those wires that connect the world together. This point was summarized by Julien Pain, head of the internet freedom desk at Reporters Without Borders:

"Surveillance is much easier in cyberspace than in the real world."

Sunday, March 06, 2005

"Holier Than Thou"

I've heard many commentators, both well-meaning and benign, claim Islam has lost its soul. The great divide between the radical Muslim jihadists and the peaceful doctrine of Muhammad has torn the religion from its principles. To some extent, this seems true to me, but to claim that the whole religion is lost seems inaccurate.

Religion has, since its first inception, always been about choice. That we as human beings could corrupt a divine set of beliefs into self-serving justifications is nothing new. There has always been a question of interpretation when it comes to translating belief into practice. It is up to the devotees to match the practice to the beliefs through discipline, self-awareness, and global understanding.

So, I disagree that Islam has lost its soul. Especially in hearing this from Christian leaders, whose own religion is being hijacked from its founding principles.

How can a Christian advocate war and not peace? How can a Christian reserve church membership for only the "saved" when Christ welcomed all? How can a Christian be against abortion and accept the hypocrisy of the death penalty? How can a Christian advocate support for tyrannical regimes and in the same breath, declare a Christian Crusade against all of these regimes? How can a Christian advocate the laziness of poverty? How can a Christian care more about censorship than making our world a better place?

Where is the soul of Christianity?

I admit it. I am a Christian. I now proudly call myself this, despite the horrors that other Christians inflict in the name of their faith. I probably have more in common with my atheist brethren than in my own faith. I hope that others know that Christ is about inclusion and ignore these "Holier Than Thou" hypocrites, these sickening "Christian soldiers", and realize that we are all human and no matter what your faith is or isn't, we all live on the same planet. Christ's first commandment was to "love thy neighbor as thyself." Not to hate the "other", but to embrace the "other" with the greatest hospitality.

At Christ's table, all should be welcome.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

American Censorship

The house last month passed a bill that would raise the FCC Fine limit to $500,000 per violation. It also stated the following:

A family viewing policy is a policy similar to the policy that existed in the United States from 1975 to 1983, as part of the National Association of Broadcaster's code of conduct for television, and that included the concept of a family viewing hour.

This is not just about censorship! This is about turning back the clock. How can we as a nation move forward when our laws are moving us back?

Here's the bill.

Email your senator and tell them to vote NO!

Friday, March 04, 2005

Political Compass

This is a much over-simplified, but helpful guide to my political compass and some explanations of otherwise misunderstood terms.

GroupEconomyEnvironmentOfficial BudgetSocial OrderCivil LibertiesReligious Practice
C = Controlled by the government
F = Free from government control

The term "Democrat" or "Republican" has very little meaning in the US, because there are conservative Democrats (which usually lean liberal) and liberal Republicans (which usually have conservative leanings). There are other terms which I will discuss in later journal entries. But let me introduce them now.

Neo-Conservative (Neocon)
Radical form of conservative believing in tight federal power, media disinformation, religion as "an opiate for the masses" and unbalanced budgets, so as to "strangle the beast" of big government.

Maverick Republican (Maverick)
Radical form of a Republican believing in economic conservatism but in social liberalism.

Evangelical Conservative (Evangelical)
Radical form of a conservative believing strongly in government sponsorship and enforcement of Christian religious practice and social conformance to Christian ideals.

Progessive Christian (Progressive)*
Radical form of a liberal believing in government sponsorship of Christian ideals, but a "hands-off" approach to government when it comes to Christian practice and enforcement.

*Most progressives are Christian, but believe in multi-pluralism regarding religious practice. There is a belief in common values across religious/cultural boundaries.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Welcome to your village...

In case some of you have not guessed, I am a prisoner in this society.

Everyone is, whether they believe in the ideals of their society or not. Few people have a choice of what society they might live in. So they are prisoners to its morality, governance and people. Those that do have a choice usually create their own societies for others to be prisoners. Many more that have no choice, believe they do only because their leaders tell them they do.

Freedom is more than a word and freedom is worth more than any speech.

But whether you believe yourself to be a prisoner or not, you are one. I acknowledge it and embrace my right to free thought and civil disobedience, despite the fact I will never escape. I rail against my society though I know I will always remain a prisoner. Some may call this futility; I call it being human.

I accept my own prejudices, my own diversity limitations. But rather than dwell in lower subconsciousness, I choose to expand and push against the cardboard barriers of my understanding. This is political, but has no political group's agenda attached to it. This is radical, but has no government sponsorship behind it. This is my opinion, but it has the words of many prisoners of many societies in it. I cannot vouch for others; I can only vouch for myself and only on my own integrity, do I make any commitment to these ideals.

My ideal is summarized in the following quote from the 1967 British series, the prisoner:

"I will not pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, de-briefed, or numbered.
My life is my own."