Monday, December 23, 2013

"Uncle" Phil Robertson Is Not Being Persecuted *Updated

Updating this with a link to Hemant Mehta's Friendly Atheist post, because he brings up a lot of good points.

For those who don't know, Phil Robertson is one of the rednecks on A&E's Duck Dynasty. It's a show about rednecks who got rich making duck calls. No, really. It's kind of like the Beverly Hillbillies.
Anyway, Robertson said some things, specifically about homosexuality being like beastiality. Honestly, I couldn't give two squirts of duck shit (see what I did there?) because he's another ignorant redneck in a long line with the same ignorant programming and none of them have ever had an original thought in what passes for a mind, in redneck culture. Trust me, I know these people, I live among them.
So A&E suspended him from the show. Of course, this pissed off all the other Christian bigots. Now they're claiming his free speech has been infringed. Once again, Christian bigots don't understand how free speech works.
I'll try to explain and use small words so you can follow along, oh ye of little brain and much faith.
A&E is a television network. A&E owns and broadcasts airs the show, Duck Dynasty. That makes Robertson, basically, an employee of A&E. Their employee said some things the network doesn't agree with, so they suspended him. Robertson is not being prosecuted (that there legal stuff what can lead to fines and/or jail). If he were being prosecuted, that would be an infringement of his free speech. But he's not. The network (A&E, his employer), doesn't want said network associated with Robertson bigoted, anti-gay views, so they gave him a time out. They are well within their right and if you had an employee telling customers things you didn't agree with, you'd do the same.
If you owned a business, and one of your employees was going around telling everyone within ear shot that "the heterosexual lifestyle choice causes parasites," no matter how funny I may find that, I couldn't disagree with your decision to suspend said employee, from work.
Free speech doesn't mean freedom from consequence of that speech, it means freedom from legal action, within certain boundaries - "fire in a crowded theater," slander/libel, and all that.

Christians, You aren't being persecuted in the US. Don't believe me?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Why There Is No Such Thing As A Good Pastor

Huffington Post put up a "think piece" by Pastor Rick Henderson which is little more than a tired, old, defeated argument claiming that atheists have no morals and how them religious folk are really superior to them there thinkin' heathen folk. He attempts to define atheism as "a thing" in a nebulous attempt at the old "spin it back on you" accusation of atheism as a religion. I could spend time tearing apart his arguments, like how atheists have many different view points, how his poor phrasing points to a failure to understand the question, or how we all develop our moral systems in the same ways, from a combination of upbringing, societal influence, and personal reflection, but the blatherskite has already had it handed to him in the comments.
I'm more concerned with why anyone listens to ministers (I'm using this as a blanket term). We have someone like Mike Huckabee, an uneducated anti-intellectual flapping his gums as if he's an authoritarian expert on anything other than being a gobshite. He's not a philosopher, he knows FA about science, and he's far from a biblical scholar, so what does he bring to the table, exactly? A hodunk, "I'm just a small town preacher" story, and a lot of uninformed opinion (not to mention the piles of bigotry), as far as I can tell.
Don't get me wrong, formal education isn't the end all be all. Obviously not, with places like Liberty University secreting their own brand of indoctrination and calling it education. It's the anti-intellectualism; the attitude that they can clearly understand a subject in five minutes, better than someone who spent 10 years studying it. Compare with the fact that you or I could be "on the same level" as Pastor Rick or any of these ministers, by spending $60 at a .gov webesite for our very own, official ministry in a religion made up on the spot. You might not get the tax breaks, but you could still officiate weddings.
Rick Henderson might not be a totally close-minded example of the breed, but clearly, he's just a guy with a title that doesn't mean anything, outside of his church. And to offer he or anyone else calling themself Pastor or Minister or Reverend or whatever any amount of respect, based solely on that so-called qualification, is as pointless and vapid as Kent Hovind's doctoral dissertation .

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Ms Male Character

So, Anita Sarkeesian has put out a new video in her Tropes Vs Women series, this one starting a new topic: The Ms. Male Character.

What's fascinatingly disturbing is the kind of responses this stuff gets. Right off, there was a "featured" video response with a subtitle of "Even when it's equal it's sexist." Which makes me think he didn't watch, or didn't understand, the video, judging by his title. The Tropes video is specifically about taking male characters and gender flopping them (not to be confused with Rule 63) and having their defining characteristic being female version of a male character. A good example, I think, is Silver Age Batman. His first sidekick, male, is Robin. Robin gets a distinct name, costume, and backstory. While his origin shares qualities with Batman's, it's still Robin's own and isn't dependent on any established characters. Robin is original. Batgirl on the other hand, shares her name and costume with Batman and her origin is tied to an established male character, Commissioner Gordon.

Then there's this shit.

Wonder Woman (since I'm using DC), on the other hand, is her own, unique character, with her own back story, costume, and powers. She isn't just a gender flopped version of a male character. And let's face it, there aren't too many of those, still.
And here's the thing, when your published materials are more inclusive, that's going to help your sales. When you're driving away half the population, you're only hurting yourself.
That's not to say there's not a place for niche stuff, but it shouldn't be the dominant force in your medium.
A word of caution, however. Most of us can tell the difference between genuine sensitivity and pandering, and we don't care for the latter. My rule of thumb is, character first, gender second, and race/ethnicity third.