MISOGYNY –The Religious Right and Military Medicine; Rape and the Military Abortion Ban

M

Here’s an example that I had no reason not to know about and yet it wasn’t until someone pointed it out to me. This was in the local paper the other day.

 MG Donna Barbisch (Rtd.) wrote a very sober and modest opinion piece that pointed out that military women who get pregnant by rape are not able to get abortions through the military medical system. I know all the justifications for this, and they are all unacceptable and self-serving and dishonest.

For those who don’t get the scope of the problem, let me lay out a few facts. Military members on active duty must use the military medical system. The first is that the military medical system is the only provision the military makes for service members’ health care – there is no choose a health plan and then go find a doctor you like. Second, even stateside there are strict restrictions on using civilian medical care because the service views your body and your health as their asset and doesn’t want either exposed to treatments they don’t control, so that even if you are willing to spend your own money, it is prohibited.  Third, this military care is something the military and the nation owe to service members. It is our obligation them.

So this situation is disgusting.

Two things stand out immediately about the article. The first is the very narrow scope of what the general is asking for. She is only asking for abortion coverage in cases of rape, and she bases this only on coverage already afforded civilian federal employees. That is almost scathingly modest, basically an accusation of depraved dismissal of what these service members are owed in basic support of the force.

The second thing that stands out almost as an accusation is her moderate tone. She argues in very clear and detailed arguments why military women need this coverage, why they are entitled to it, and then goes on to justify this by citing the debt we owe our sldiers, etc., etc…… basically coming down to the plain old ingratitude of the American people towards soldiers in imposing this ban on abortions for rape victims, when to me the only sensible response to this kind of ingratitude and misogyny is a………much less nuanced.

How bad has it gotten when an officer is reduced to this pleading tone? It reminds me of pleas I remember from childhood against segregation. The tone tells you what kind of mad dogs the writer has to placate.

How did this absurd situation even come into being? Certainly an abortion ban, even a general one, was NOT put in place to promote military readiness, since in fact it decreases readiness to have soldiers pregnant or tied down with an infant at home. You would expect the military to be pushing birth control and encouraging abortions when that failed simply as an organizational policy if readiness were the overriding consideration.

Well, we all know where this comes from. This comes from exactly the same place the anti-gay policies and even the supposed mitigation, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, come from – the insistence of some civilians to make the military dance to their religious tune. This has nothing to do with civilian control of the military – civilian control of declaring and ending wars, civilian control of funding, civilian control over appointment of officers – do you see anywhere in this where a civilian has any interest in a soldier’s abortion or in a soldier’s sex life or life partnership? This is not a new attitude at all; this is why when COL Beckworth opened a whorehouse for his troops because he got tired of the STD rate in his units, it was considered very daring, even during Vietnam.

I have news for these people. Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are not your property. You are not the customer who gets whatever she wants because the customer is always right. Don’t make your religion into public policy and we won’t make a public issue out of your religion.

Oh, and generally in matters of abortion, I think the father should have some say into what happens to what is after all his child. Not here. Rapists have no say, not fathers who are fathers because of rape or mothers who got pregnant by raping a man and who are expecting child support to raise children they should never have custody of. That’s what I think of the rapist’s rights in this.

MG Barbisch goes on to say that there is a legislative fix for this embarrassment coming together. Good.

This whole mess comes down to two things: failure to respect military people as fellow citizens and broken trust. Both are immoral.

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Jim Doyle

<span class="dsq-postid" data-dsqidentifier="2931 http://www.genderratic.com/?p=2027">73 comments</span>

  • This sounds like a blanket abortion ban. I’m not familiar with the specifics of Roe v. Wade, but how would that even be legal? The article makes it sound like your point about not being at all able to go get an abortion done outside the military is false, though, so that would explain it. (“She is instead left to her own devices to locate supporting services and forced to pay out of pocket for the care she needs.”)

  • “This sounds like a blanket abortion ban. I’m not familiar with the specifics of Roe v. Wade, but how would that even be legal?”

    It’s intricate. On one level the abortion is legal. On the other the service member may get it only in a military hospital; other options qould require permission which may not be forthcoming and I don’t know what’s involved in even getting that permission. And in the only hopsitals she is authorized to use, it is not available.

    ” The article makes it sound like your point about not being at all able to go get an abortion done outside the military is false, though, so that would explain it. (“She is instead left to her own devices to locate supporting services and forced to pay out of pocket for the care she needs.”)”

    Yep. The general is careful not to blame any policy of the military because she is advocating a legislative rememdy and she wants to harm the image of the military as little as possible and that is a tactical decision. Yes, the service woman is left to her own devices; just what are those?

    What if the rape happens overseas on deployment, early enough for the pregnancy to advance to where it’s too late to terminate? Some deployments lasted 18 months during the Iraqi mission. They are stilloften a year long. What then? She’s supposed to go into some Baghdad suburb and find a doctor to do the abortion?

  • “other options qould require permission which may not be forthcoming”
    Ah, that’s a great point. I’ve heard so many stories about servicemen getting shafted on reasonable requests from their doody-headed (my word, not theirs) superiors.

  • I would say that whoever carries the child ought to have the final say on what goes on within their body, but I have no problem with others being able to freely arrange liability or lack of liability for the results of a potential pregnancy.

    Which is to say, I’m pretty okay with the father of a potential child, just like the potential child, having no rights, but also no responsibilities, save those freely entered into.

  • Where this comes from is the same place all the other socially backward policies in the military came from–a notion that the U.S. military shouldn’t have to embody American principles because it would “impair the morale and readiness of the troops” to admit blacks, women, gays, non-Christians, etc. etc.

    The hardcore religious-right faction of America desperately wants ownership of the U.S. military, and they demand that the military embrace and embody THEIR values (values which, by necessity, are in conflict with actual American values). They want all soldiers voting Republican and going to Kill-for-Jesus rallies and bashing gays in their offhours. They need this because it makes them feel tough and powerful, instead of the insecure cowards they really are.

    Naturally, a raped soldier needs to bear the fetus she’s had forced on her. It’s her punishment for involuntary sex, the slut! And if she didn’t want to be raped, she shouldn’t have joined the military anyway… “our boys” need their brutality to stay Tough and Hard and Manly and Erect and… oops, that went to a bad place.

  • Well, the religious right does seem to view the military as their very own social experiment and all the people serving within it as their own personal pets, so this isn’t surprising at all. I’m almost tempted to say that this is a case of “misandry hurts women, too.” The dynamics which deprive military women of their civil liberties are generally the same dynamics that were put in place to preside over lower class men who nobody cares about. Remember, we still do have the selective service and there’s no proposed legislation to overturn it anytime soon. The military also has its own history of being labeled “baby killers” by the public, but it’s usually men who have been treated that way. At any rate, it’s pretty sick that abortions aren’t covered under Tricare.

    As far as pregnancy while deployed, I don’t see why that would be a big issue. Pregnancy tests are provided pretty much everywhere that women serve and they get sent back home pretty much as soon as it’s discovered that they’re pregnant. The last thing the military would want is for these women to suffer miscarriages.

  • Naturally, a raped soldier needs to bear the fetus she’s had forced on her. It’s her punishment for involuntary sex, the slut! And if she didn’t want to be raped, she shouldn’t have joined the military anyway… “our boys” need their brutality to stay Tough and Hard and Manly and Erect and… oops, that went to a bad place.

    This isn’t helpful, Copyleft. The military is at the mercy of the religious right because America’s left writes them off as baby killers and generally doesn’t give a fuck.

  • Yeah, its too bad the left in this country value the military so little. I understand if they don’t agree with the use of hard force in certain situations (recent examples come to mind), but to not value the _people_ that make up our military is a pretty big let down. Especially since the majority of the military came from underprivileged backgrounds, who are the very people the left claim to care most about.

  • Valerie, I can’t help it, I have to provide what I assume to be the logic behind what Ginko said.

    Current situation:

    To Woman: You can keep the baby, you can give it up for adoption, or you can have an abortion, the choice is yours.

    To Man: You have no say in the matter, legally. If you do not want to keep the baby, and the woman does, you will be held financially responsible, even if you offer to pay for the adoption or abortion process.

    Why is that unfair? Because it says “Woman, do whatever you want. You will be supported either way. Man, live with the consequences of your actions”

    What should it say? One of two things: “Woman, do whatever you want. Man, do whatever you want.” OR “Woman, live with the consequences, Man live with the consequences”.

    What is one way of doing that? To allow the biological father a 50% stake in the child. If he wants to keep the baby, and the biological mother does not, well, tough, she needs to live with the consequences. And if the father does not want the baby, but the mother does, well tough, he needs to live with that. However, I support the idea of “paper abortions” in that case, where one bio-parent wants the child and the other does not. A paper abortion meaning that bio-parent relinquishes any rights to the child, but also any responsibilities. And additionally, all medical expenses and travel costs incurred in the pregnancy would be the responsibility of the bio-parent who wants to keep the child. I’m sure there are other issues to work out around, etc. etc., but the general premise is, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

  • Maybe if the bio-father wants to keep the baby, and the bio-mother does not, he should be responsible for supporting her at her current standard of living until the baby is born, whether she continues working or not. Just spitballing here.

    The point is, its fucked up that women in the military effectively can’t get abortions. And Ginko is right, if this was about combat readiness, the military would be *encouraging* abortions. Even still, I have this idea that the military is the most gender-free spaces in our country. Hopefully someone who has been in can confirm or deny this, in their experience anyway.

  • Maybe if they were more interested in saving fetuses than in punishing womyn for being raped, the anti-abortion folks could fund research into artificial wombs. Like in Firestone’s *The Dialectic of Sex*. Or they could fund adoption services and oppose laws which keep lgbt people from adopting. I don’t understand these people.

  • What we need to do is get over the sick (and yes, patriarchal) attitude that soldiers are “heroes.” They’re not. They’re workers doing a job.

  • Copyleft,
    “Where this comes from is the same place all the other socially backward policies in the military came from–a notion that the U.S. military shouldn’t have to embody American principles because it would “impair the morale and readiness of the troops” to admit blacks, women, gays, non-Christians, etc. etc.”

    This is half the truth. It certianly nails the nature of the resistance to these changes every last timeone of them has come up. The rest of the truth is that the military has been much quicker to make the changes and much more thorough in making them than absolutely any other sector in society, to include the self-styled social justice types.

    “The hardcore religious-right faction of America desperately wants ownership of the U.S. military, and they demand that the military embrace and embody THEIR values…”

    This works on twolevels. One is the RR’s control of Congres, and I’ll get to how that works. The other is the RR’s own “march through the institutions” a la Gramsci. Do you rememebr the scandal at the Air Force Academy about three years ago when the commandant, the fucking COMMANDANT of the US Air Force Academy, was pressuring cadets to go to Evangelical prayer meetings? That was not a one-off. (And it was handled in a very limp fashion. He was in open breach of his sworn oath to uphold the Constitution and he should have committed suicide in shame, or been induced; obviously he had no sense of honor or of shame.)

    “This isn’t helpful, Copyleft. The military is at the mercy of the religious right because America’s left writes them off as baby killers and generally doesn’t give a fuck.”

    Thank you, dungone. This si the other way the RR controls the military, through Congeress. And this is not just a paragraph in the Constitution about civilian control of the military, it gets much more concrete. All officer promotions are acts of Congress, though of course for the company and filed grades it’s all batch processed. But for generals it’s an individual process. that menas evrry general has had to develop a consituency in Congress. How’s that for having an institution by the short hairs?

  • @Copyleft, I would like for you to go through boot camp and then combat school and get back to me about whether or not you still think that you’re just doing a job. Also, once you’re in, I’d like to see you try to “quit” your “job.” When military personnel are afforded the same rights that all other civilian and government employees have, then come back and I’ll be happy to listen about how upset it makes you that some people still recognize the personal sacrifice involved. Gingko talks about your type of attitude on a regular basis, referring to it a consumerist attitude. I’ve got to admit that he’s right when it comes to attitudes such as yours.

    @EquilibriumShift, saying that the right cares about the troops is like saying that organized religion and corporations care about the troops. They simply don’t. The left does the yeoman’s work in ensuring that military personnel get reasonable pay and benefits, but the problem is that it ends there. As far as the actual people who serve are concerned, some on the left regard them as little more than baby killers. No differently than the way the right views women who get abortions.

  • The way mainstream liberals deal with religion in general is awful. Hey liberals, what ever happened to, “I believe in a United States where the separation of church and state is absolute”? Anyway most liberal democrats are accommodationists when it comes to religion. They’ll insist official displays of religiosity are ok…and yet the results are what is described in the OP.

    So, for me, where atheism and skepticism are now mainstream (see feministscritics) secularism is not. And the problem here lies squarely with the self professed “religious moderates” who keep insisting there are no harmful effects from religion. Every time a liberal, for example, supports “under god” in the pledge, it enables those who think the US is a christian nation. Every time a liberal says that town halls can display religious banners “God bless America” the religious right is granted power.

    Hey libs, support the First Amendment, you fucking assholes!

  • @dungone, I agree with you, the right doesn’t value the people in the military any more than as cogs in a machine that is there to serve their own interests. I just mean that the left should quit being afraid and ashamed of the *people* who make up the military. But I would never expect the right to value people, especially people who are from socio-economically lower strata than they are. I do, however, expect that out of the left, and its a damn shame that the left’s empathy hits a wall at the boundary of civilian and military.

    I myself explored the option of OCS and commissioning after I left grad school. Academia didn’t really suit me, and I wanted to do something more than make money for someone else. Unfortunately, due to flat-ish feet and color vision deficiencies (thanks Mom), as well as a glut of ROTC candidates, they basically told me I wasn’t going to pass boards. I was pretty majorly disappointed, but I did get to see that the military wasn’t this monolith (as hard as it tries to project that image) I always imagined it to be. It is made up of people, just like you (duh 😉 ) and me. The left never attempts to crack that facade, and humanize the people serving. Instead, they are painted as heroes, rightly, but it misses the point that even our heroes are human. And the unemployment and homelessness (and lack of mental health care, etc. etc.) of vets is unconscionable.

  • @debaser71, agreed. Liberal politics has become dominated by religious appeasers such. I cringe at the short-sighted thinking of comments such as this: http://www.genderratic.com/p/2006/double-standards-%e2%80%93-biased-criteria-and-man-hatred/#comment-13758

    Yes, men are more frequent victims of violence, but not religiously-based-discipline-as DV, which is what I was focusing on as “trad”–to me, trad means religion. In fact, in Catholicism, the term is “trad” or “traddie” rather than fundamentalist, if one is “seriously” following the rules, going by the book and all that.

    So much for the feminists! This comment is special pleading that religion had sanctioned DV against women and that’s why focusing on violence against women was more important (as opposed to just ending religion). It also betrays the author’s own sectarian bias on the matter (as opposed to treating all religion as equally wrong). Rather than getting women out of church, they’ve engendered a state of affairs where women remain the vast majority of churchgoers. Instead, we get to hear boastful feminists talking about how women are more spiritually evolved than men?

  • Copyleft,
    “Naturally, a raped soldier needs to bear the fetus she’s had forced on her. It’s her punishment for involuntary sex, the slut! And if she didn’t want to be raped, she shouldn’t have joined the military anyway… “our boys” need their brutality to stay Tough and Hard and Manly and Erect and… oops, that went to a bad place.”

    This is the kind of misconception people get who get their idea of the military from popular culture. It’s a mastubatory fantasy for never-haves. The truth is that, at least in my experience, sexually active women are celebrated in the military, the Army at least.

    I remember a conversation back in the mid-80s with my battalion commander when I was a lieutenant. The conversation turned to one of my female soldiers, who was super-competent and very hardworking, good at everything she tired. The commander smiled a smile fo fatherly pride and said “And she fucks like a rabiit, from what I hear.” – exactly the way a father would brag about what a player his son was.

    That does not mean that there are not blue-nosed civilians pulling a lot of importnat strings, a la Elaine Donnelly and DADT. But that is not the same thing as the organizational culture of a particular service itself.

  • “The way mainstream liberals deal with religion in general is awful. Hey liberals, what ever happened to, “I believe in a United States where the separation of church and state is absolute”? Anyway most liberal democrats are accommodationists when it comes to religion.”

    News for you, debaser – the US is queer for religion (and I use that term advisedly.) Didn’t you notice after 9/11? Instead of real respect for Islam, the response was “well, it’s a religious matter, you know…..that’s just the way they feel….”

  • Is this anything more than a wedge on top of a wedge issue? That is, has there ever been a woman in the military denied an abortion who was impregnated by a convicted rapist? Barbisch doesn’t seem to have knowledge of a single actual case. Seems more like a ploy to insure that women serving can get taxpayers to pay for on-demand abortion as primary form of birth control.

  • @Wilson: Not sure where anyone said “on-demand abortion” would be the primary method of birth control. Where are you getting that?

  • @EquilibriumShift

    I understand the logic, but I’m still not behind the idea of making someone carry a child when legal rights can easily have concommittant fiduciary responsibilities in a way that respects the choice of the person who’s actually gotta have the kid.

    Essentially: Presumed paper abortion unless otherwise stated. Radfems like Twisty Faster love to argue that sex should be legally evaluated from a place of assumed nonconsent, so I would think it only natural that pregnancy be evaluated in the same way. In this way the only possibility one not carrying a child would have rights to a child would be through freely entered contract, marriage or otherwise.

  • Dungone, please fill us in why we should care about “the troops” any more than we do any other government workers. They deserve decent pay and benefits for the job they do, yes. But what they _don’t_ deserve is worship as some sort of sick and bizarre “heroes.”

  • “Hey libs, support the First Amendment, you fucking assholes!”
    Hey, I can support the 1st Amendment without supporting the Incorporation Doctrine of the 14th. Not that I really consider myself a lib.

  • I think, Gingko, that part of the left’s reticence to take on the military has been the result of the right, both inside and outside the military, demagoguing military issues, claiming that rather than civilian leadership being important to the institutions function, “General Knows Best,” at least when that General wants to do what the right wing wants. So the right has, for a long time successfully, used their unearned credibility on security, and the credibility of the officer corps, to silence much left-wing interference in the military.

    That may have changed the moment Osama Bin Laden died, but at the moment, in a close election, the left isn’t too confident in their newfound political capital on the security front and they aren’t yet about to go spending it. Give it five years, I think you’ll see a more activist Democratic party when it comes to throwing red meat to their base with regard to military issues, basically, you know, running the army that Democrats have been the only ones willing to pay for, on some level, from Recruitment to Interment.

  • @Copyleft, this is not something that I wish to discuss here much, because I have discussed it too many times with too many people and have grown quite tired of the debate. FTR, I am a Marine Corps veteran.

    You’re confusing right-wing demagoguery with the actual military, which does indeed make sacrifices of a certain kind that the general public does not. I’m not comfortable when random people thank me for my service without knowing the slightest thing of what I have done in the line of duty. But this is not the same as me receiving unearned benefits. One, I earned the respect. Two, it’s not a benefit, it’s just lip service. The bigger problem is that most of the people who give lip service to the military don’t actually give a fuck about it and don’t have the slightest clue as to what’s involved.

    Dungone, please fill us in why we should care about “the troops” any more than we do any other government workers.

    Because when an angry mob is threatening the life of one of our ambassadors, we send in 50 Marines to keep him safe. The day that we leave other government workers to fend for themselves when they’re in danger will be the day that we can talk about treating the troops just like anyone else.

    Clearly, though, you have plowed right past the central premise of this post when you argued that military personnel have it better than other government workers.

  • Abortion rights in the military is an iffy subject. At the bases that I worked at, abortion by itself was seen as “wrong, we’d never do that. Sanctity of life, Bla Bla Bla.” However, even when downrange (AKA, the sandbox, AKA the Middle East), misoprostol was available for “backaches and other sources of pain”. For women who needed IUDs, misoprostol was usually given prior to implantation (and always given in cases where the patient had been sexually active.) TBH, the military’s current push for enabling all of its pharmacists to earn doctorates (and only commissioning.new pharmacists with doctorates) comes with that side benefit: the ability to bypass doctors in cases to “necessary convenience”. Of the 20 pharmacists and 50 OB/GYNs with whom I’ve worked in concert, the ones who wouldn’t provide proper medication were older Catholics (and they were gracious enough to refer the requesters to less-conflicted providers.) In the perfect example of a Three Monkeys scenario, I worked with two pharmacists who would go through 50 Cytotec tablets in two months (and as I was working with the SARC at that time, most of those women didn’t show up on our registers before or after receiving their pills.)

    Bottom line-At this time, neither the Army nor the Air Force (IME) sees abortion denial as being worth more than the paper on which its written. A woman who is unable to receive a safe(r) abortion from her assigned provider can find a more amenable provider through asking around (and assault/rape victims are always given the option of receiving “stronger pain medications” when they report to the proper authorities in a timely fashion, as in less than three months after the incident.) That being said, the USAFA is *highly* Evangelical, almost all of the Southern bases have the taint of evangelical Christianity and evangelicals are enlisting in droves. What was true 20 months ago may not be true when the next election comes around (although the “understanding” providers will still be there to put up the good fight.)

  • A. I’d let the military pay for abortion for rape in time of war (no questions asked, no proof required) or if the victim is not in a warzone when the victim brings a criminal case either civil or military against the rapist, or when the rapist is unknown when the police are given an open case to solve.
    B. I’d open the military sytem up to allow soldiers to use their own $ and doctors when attempting to pay for something not covered by the military.

    This isn’t hard. No, the military shouldn’t necessarily be forced to pay for “abortion on demand” because, for whatever reason, most of their employers (civilians) are against that. However REGARDLESS of public opinon (and yes, the majority DO support abortion in cases of rape or the life-in-danger thing, lets give the average person that much credit) the US military has no excuse for denying abortions to rape victims or closing off other systems to its soldiers.

  • @MaMu, I was going to get into that this morning but didn’t feel like typing it all out. The location of military bases matters, as the military for various practical reasons regards itself as a guest in the local community wherein it resides. This is just as true of the American South as it is of Kuwait. The last thing that a base commander wants is to have a bunch of locals picketing outside the front gate with “baby killer” placards.

    Part of the problem, though, is the way liberals allow themselves to get steamrolled into using military installations as a transfer payment from wealthy blue states to struggling red states. The lives of military personnel should not be used a bargaining chip for pork barrel projects and local economic development plans.

  • This isn’t hard. No, the military shouldn’t necessarily be forced to pay for “abortion on demand” because, for whatever reason, most of their employers (civilians) are against that.

    The military should receive the best healthcare money can buy. If other federal employees have insurance that covers a procedure as a matter of course, then so should military personnel. The problem here is that some of “the employers” seem to think that the military itself is their play thing. The problem is also that, by and large, “the employers” support abortion rights, so this isn’t even a valid argument.

  • Dungone:
    Most Americans don’t support UNRESTRICTED abortion rights. Heck, I’m ok with banning the procedure after the 5th month except for rape, incest, or the life or physical health of the mother.

  • @Clarence, perhaps you don’t understand some of the fundamental differences between military employment and all other forms of employment. In the military, you have to make do with what you’re given. You can’t ask for a raise and you can’t make a career move without someone else’s approval. You can’t quit, that’s called desertion and you get sent to the brig for it. Military pay is absurdly low given these terms and the risks involved. The public could never afford to pay these people what they’d actually have to pay them in an open job market. That’s why the military has to provide food, shelter, and medical attention; because otherwise, the vast majority of the troops would be living well below the poverty line. This is a cost saving measure. They give nothing extra to anyone who can get by without it. But that’s why they have a moral and fiduciary obligation to pay for everything, including abortions, when they are needed. The public may not like it but if the public makes a medical procedure available for themselves, then they sure as hell better make it available for the military who don’t otherwise have the same freedoms that civilians do.

  • Most Americans don’t support UNRESTRICTED abortion rights. Heck, I’m ok with banning the procedure after the 5th month except for rape, incest, or the life or physical health of the mother.

    It doesn’t matter what most Americans support, what matters is what most Americans have a right to. You can’t fucking run the lives of military personnel based on swings of public opinion. Therein lies your folly.

  • “I think, Gingko, that part of the left’s reticence to take on the military has been the result of the right, both inside and outside the military, demagoguing military issues, claiming that rather than civilian leadership being important to the institutions function, “General Knows Best,” at least when that General wants to do what the right wing wants. So the right has, for a long time successfully, used their unearned credibility on security, and the credibility of the officer corps, to silence much left-wing interference in the military. ”

    This rather succinctly captures the political dynamic, to include the part where you point out that teh RR’s opistion ot civilian inteerferenece is opportunistic rather than principled. They are perfectly happy with their own interference and this situation is an example of that.

    “That may have changed the moment Osama Bin Laden died, but at the moment, in a close election, the left isn’t too confident in their newfound political capital on the security front and they aren’t yet about to go spending it. ”

    This has been generally true for a while, but things are speeding up, and since last week’s boner about the Libyan situation, along with more substantive mistakes like fucking up two separate wars simultaneously, the right is rapidly running out of credibiliity on foregin policy. But that’s off topic.

    “You’re confusing right-wing demagoguery with the actual military, …”
    He’s right, and you cannot understand anything about the military really until you stop doing that.

    I saw that Eagle; thanks – now I can get to it all in one place. I remember my promise to review it and post it here.

    Clarence,
    “B. I’d open the military sytem up to allow soldiers to use their own $ and doctors when attempting to pay for something not covered by the military.”

    Yes, but it has to be managed carefully, and in the end the service member has taken on an obligation to his service to maintain his health to their standards, and his personal judgment cannot trump all in all cases – alternative treatments, no treatment for religious reasons, etc. Non-starter. But with careful and reasonable management, this can work.

  • @Clarence, also, the whole “abortion on demand” is clearly just a diversionary tactic. No one has EVER suggested that military personnel receive medical services which are illegal for civilians to receive. That is not even subject to debate, so in the interests of having a good faith conversation in this thread, drop it.

  • What the hell, Dungone.
    You forget that the Religious Right in this country has enough influence to have caused the US government at times to drop support for contracptives in many developing countries. Contraceptives!
    And you think the military -which has been about nothing BUT politics for over 50 years now – is immune to that?!
    Whether it SHOULD be immune to that is one thing, but it’s not. And because its not , abortion and when and how is an issue. I’m against “stop-loss” and I’m against a draft. But the US government controls the military and the terms and conditions of serving therein and the the government is supposed to represent the People. And so, often,what the People think about the military through their elected representatives matters. Which, to an extent, is how it should be.

    JFC. I’m FOR
    A. Expanding the choice of military members in terms of health service providers
    B. Abortions for all rapes

    What more do you want ?
    Basically you’ve been whining at me for supporting Roe-versus-Wade which introduced the “trimester” system legally. I’m not about to support dumping the trimester system solely for people in the military nor have you made any argument that a 6 month old fetus isn’t a baby and worthy of some protection at that point.

  • And you think the military -which has been about nothing BUT politics for over 50 years now – is immune to that?!

    Let’s talk about that when “politician” is an MOS for enlisted personnel.

  • Dungone:
    Oh, I see.
    Well, good luck with your new Military Republic.
    If you don’t mind, I’ll choose to live elsewhere.

  • Which, to an extent, is how it should be.

    Have you read Sun Tzu? The military’s public relations role is to please the public for the sake of winning wars, not for the sake of pleasing the public. A failed military is one where public opinion prevents it from winning wars. Achieving military goals is all that matters. It makes little difference to the failed military whether a bad military decision soured public opinion or whether public opinion caused a bad military decision. It makes no difference whether the leadership is civilian, military, appointed, or elected.

    If you then apply these principles to a volunteer military force, it turns out that your military force is the public. Far more important than what armchair generals and mothers of America think of the military about it is the quantity and quality of those who actually decide to enlist.

  • Well, good luck with your new Military Republic.

    I was being sarcastic, pointing out that military personnel don’t volunteer to be political pawns. Just because social conservatives love to get their grubby hands all over military policies doesn’t make it right. There are plenty of other government agencies they could focus on. I suggest starting with the National Park Service. They want an equal opportunity to become God’s Servants, too.

  • America’s left writes them off as baby killers and generally doesn’t give a fuck.

    I’m about as liberal as it gets, was surrounded by America’s “left” at my liberal-by-American-standards university, encounter pretty much nothing but lefties in both my work and my hobbies, and I live in Oregon. I have never heard anyone who wasn’t a crazy whackjob in the news call the military or any of its members, “baby killers,” in the last decade or more.

    Maybe I just live in a particularly sane place, but I don’t think that’s a fair characterization.

  • @JDCyran, I am as liberal as it gets and then some. And I served in the Marine Corps. I remember flying into Seattle in my alphas one time and getting nothing but dirty looks from all the Birkenstocks. The crazies are crazy, but they’re still around, and still leftist. Liberal politicians certainly police their tone and arguably support the troops better than conservatives, but I’ve had some extreme reactions from the far left in everyday life and online. You should check out some of the “liberal” articles on The Good Men Project, for starters. In fact just take a random sampling of anything feminists say about the military. I imagine that some of what caught my attention would fly over the heads of most people. You might actually need to be a war vet in order to be turned down for a date by a liberal woman who tells you it’s because she is doesn’t believe in killing people. But the tired old cliches are there, that if only everyone refused to serve then there would be no war, etc. Again, it might help to actually be a war vet for the meaning of that to hit home – they’re blaming you.

  • @JDCyran, also, it might not come out in polite conversation. But try to get into a heated discussion with someone who might identify with Marxism or anarcho-primitivism and sooner or later you will get called a baby killer. That said, this obviously plays into the hands of the wingnuts who blow it all out of proportion for political gain. There’s enough myths and legends floating around among the right that you could create an alternate universe out of it.

  • Dungone, once more with feeling, why are you always so fucking hostile?

    This comment is special pleading that religion had sanctioned DV against women

    Um, it has. You do know that, right? Do you want me to go dig up the chapter and verse again?

    Further, I do not engage in “special pleading”–so please do not use this term with me again… this makes several times now. I will start accusing you of “special pleading” for men or the military.

    Specific areas of interest, that we all have, are not equivalent to “special pleading”

    and that’s why focusing on violence against women was more important (as opposed to just ending religion).

    Reading comprehension, its a good thing.

    Ending religion would probably be optimal (for ending this kind of violence) but as with ending the consumption of alcohol, I just don’t think that will ever happen. That is a very long, different argument and really not the scope of this blog. But short version: Religion is about channeling that which is irrational into a “safe space” and putting a moral boundary around it. When religion becomes damaging and troublesome is when people try to make it ‘rational’ and try to make it explain the rational world. As long as it stays in its own realm, what Stephen Jay Gould referred to as “non-overlapping magisteria” (in his wonderful essay of the same name) there is no reason to get rid of it, or alcohol or hallucinogens or parties or sex or music or art … or any other aspect of the irrational realm.

    I would be satisfied with not giving religion a specialized legal status, as it has now. This would nullify the possibility of most of the abuses, which are now propped up by government (s).

    It also betrays the author’s own sectarian bias on the matter (as opposed to treating all religion as equally wrong).

    That’s because all religion is not equally wrong. Slack religion usually doesn’t do any harm. That’s why it’s slack, instead of strict. There really isn’t much to worry about.

    Q. What do you get when you cross a Jehovah’s Witness and a Unitarian?

    A. Someone who knocks on doors, but doesn’t have anything to say.

    Can you quote any Buddhist texts counseling violent discipline of women, or even children?

    Go ahead, I’ll wait.

    Rather than getting women out of church,

    Good luck with that one.

    they’ve engendered a state of affairs where women remain the vast majority of churchgoers. Instead, we get to hear boastful feminists talking about how women are more spiritually evolved than men?

    Probably due to the type of tone-deafness you are displaying here, telling people to “snap out of it” is rather un-evolved and ignorant. People like ecstasy, meditation and bliss, and they are not going to abandon it, any more than they will abandon other types of ecstasy like sex, drugs and rock and roll. Fulminating against something that gives so many people pleasure, sounds as dorky and weird as telling people to stop dancing. They won’t. However, you might be successful in banning dancing from the town square… certainly, I agree with you that we should not subsidize their dancing or their dance lessons, and you will gets lots more success if you concentrate on these achievable goals.

    In addition, the legal boundaries of the dancing should not be that we should have to RESPECT the dancing as beyond the pale: “Oh no, this was not violence, this was DANCING!” Well, I think some mosh pit people have tried that one in court and lost, didn’t they? And yet, religiously-based DV (and child abuse as well) is given the green light.

    Clarence, good comments in this thread. I guess it isn’t just me that gets talked down to by King Dungone.

    Dungone: You forget that the Religious Right in this country has enough influence to have caused the US government at times to drop support for contracptives in many developing countries. Contraceptives!
    And you think the military -which has been about nothing BUT politics for over 50 years now – is immune to that?!
    Whether it SHOULD be immune to that is one thing, but it’s not. And because its not , abortion and when and how is an issue. I’m against “stop-loss” and I’m against a draft. But the US government controls the military and the terms and conditions of serving therein and the the government is supposed to represent the People. And so, often,what the People think about the military through their elected representatives matters. Which, to an extent, is how it should be.

    Yes, I think Gen Sherman wrote something about this, or am I thinking of Gen Grant’s memoirs? I should try to find the quote.

    PS: Dungone, I just thought of another comparison: we can abolish religion when we abolish all military forces in the whole world.

    Deal? 😉

  • I attributed that quote to Dungone, in my last comment, rather than Clarence. Apologies. I blame Mitt Romney, who is just making me laugh so hard today that I find it difficult to concentrate on what I’m doing!~ 😀 I need to turn off CNN when I am typing.

  • Debaser: So, for me, where atheism and skepticism are now mainstream (see feministscritics) secularism is not. And the problem here lies squarely with the self professed “religious moderates” who keep insisting there are no harmful effects from religion. Every time a liberal, for example, supports “under god” in the pledge, it enables those who think the US is a christian nation. Every time a liberal says that town halls can display religious banners “God bless America” the religious right is granted power.

    Hey libs, support the First Amendment, you fucking assholes!

    If this is a call out, here I am. I think I was probably supporting the First Amendment before you could spell it. (stole that line from Henry Fonda, talking to/about Jane)

    I consider myself politically radical, not liberal… and I do not consider myself a “religious moderate”, but I do not believe that all religion is harmful. It simply is not. Daisy sitting in her spare room in front of a candle, a stick of burning incense and a Buddha statue, ringing tingshas now and then (they aren’t loud), simply does no harm to anyone. Show me how.

    Further, I agree with all you have said. Fuck that noise “under God” and “God bless America” and yada yada; living in the Toby Keith-colonized South has cured me of ALL of that shit. I would love to get rid of religious banners and certainly, I still live in an area in which there are Christmas displays in front of the Fire Dept. So no argument from me.

    But when you try to say all religion is harmful, you sound like someone who does not enjoy it for yourself, so you would banish it for everyone… rather like some angry parent wanting to abolish rock and roll in the 50s. That’s how it sounds to those of us who enjoy our imaginary friends. They are not bothering you, and what I do in private or for recreation (and this is how I think religion should be regarded, in law too) is my own business. Just like sex or if I want to smoke a joint before I go to sleep or if I should want to look at a dirty movie. MY BUSINESS. If I tried to get you to pay for my dirty movie or my joint, well, that is something else again.

    If religion is “harmful”–be sure you don’t get that used against you, by the very same puritans who would say (example) that porn is “harmful”…

  • @DaisyDeadhead

    Can you quote any Buddhist texts counseling violent discipline of women, or even children?

    No, but as Gwynne Dyer reported, they are standing idly by in Burma… well not so much idly by as actively prosecuting, ethnic cleansing against the country’s (very moderate and integrated) Muslim minority.

    Buddhists are not super-great either.

  • And as to everyone endorsing the viability standard as to when to ban an abortion: Would you support a law that allowed a parent who did not want to carry a fetus to term but was past the viability deadline to induce labour, since that fetus is so viable and all…

    I’m sorry, but the majority of the electorate doesn’t get to decide when fundamental rights apply.

  • Valerie, yes, I agree that Buddhism can lead to passivity. It’s the same way Christianity and Islam can lead to aggression. I used to think it was because of the Great Commission, that Christians and Muslims were ordered to “preach the Gospel to all nations”–and that stuff… which makes sense, since I don’t think aggression is necessarily encoded in Christianity itself. (Benedictines and Mennonites are very devout Christians too, and they choose to live in isolation, separately from “the world.”) Buddhism constantly emphasizing that the material world needs to be transcended, would seem to be the basis of the passivity. (Also a certain fetishizing of poverty and lack of material goods… never quite understood how the Hollywood Buddhists reconcile that!) I have not been Buddhist long enough to really “know it” the way I know Christianity or Catholicism (gut level understanding) and probably never will. Late arrival here.

    An Amnesty International speaker I recently heard, opined that anti-Islam sentiment in the West also had a lot to do w/Burma, that they look to the West to lead… or at least, to suck up and get approval, since they have been in so much PR trouble over Aung San Suu Kyi and so on.

  • @dungone

    Ah. I see what you’re saying. I still wouldn’t call it America’s “left” as I don’t think it’s a wide-spread “left” opinion. It certainly crops up in some misnamed “far left” groups, and, unlike most feminists (Daisy not included) who don’t seem to call out members of their own for nasty behavior, I think a respectable number of lefties would call out people who are making the “baby killer” attacks.

    Now, I’m definitely not a vet (being an out gay guy with -8.75 diopter myopia back in 1996, when I was thinking about joining up, made that a restrictive and therefore easy choice), so I can’t comment on the personal aspect of it. It’s no doubt true that you would be more likely to see such behavior, since most people aren’t going to approach a climate scientist or someone who makes video game music remixes and angrily accuse him of being a baby killer (or even give him a dirty look, since there’s no uniform to be wearing). But at the same time, I don’t know if people who give said dirty looks are really representative of the wider American left.

    online

    With the exception of this one, I mostly hate blogs and whatnot. I think that blogs overrepresent some groups and opinions in a rather colossal way, and some of the stuff that seems huge on blogs isn’t as much outside of the blogosphere. However, I also often think I’m wrong about that and think some topics don’t follow that rule.

  • If you ever go to pro-choice marches or demonstrations, you will be called a “baby killer” too… it is in NO WAY confined to the military.

    But yes, “baby killer” was a frequent military insult in the 70s, during Vietnam, it is not myth.

    I am getting a little annoyed at people changing history. The older I get (and my birthday was yesterday; they gave me and Occupy a birthday party downtown!!!) the more I notice it.

  • @Valerie: I’m sorry, but the majority of the electorate doesn’t get to decide when fundamental rights apply.

    I think you mean shouldn’t get to, with which I agree. But, in the US, it does, for the most part. The majority of the electorate, if it could acquire the necessary congressional votes and popular support in enough states, could give to or take away any fundamental right and/or decide when they apply.

  • @Daisy:

    But yes, “baby killer” was a frequent military insult in the 70s, during Vietnam, it is not myth.

    That’s why I said, “In the last decade or more.” I know it was frequent in the 70s during Vietnam.

  • @Daisy
    1. You cannot treat a whole country like a case of monkey see, monkey do, they may be exploiting the current Islamophobia in the West, but the West’s problematic relationship with Islam is not responsible for this. The Burmese are.

    Valerie, yes, I agree that Buddhism can lead to passivity.

    What’s going on is not passive: http://www.straight.com/article-743106/vancouver/gwynne-dyer-burmas-buddhist-monks-demonstrate-lack-compassion-muslim-minority

    Buddhist monks are standing outside the refugee camps in Arakan, turning away people who are trying to bring food and other aid to the Rohingya. Two important Buddhist organizations in the region, the Young Monks’ Association of Sittwe and the Mrauk U Monks’ Association, have urged locals to have no dealings with them. One pamphlet distributed by the monks says the Rohingya are “cruel by nature”.

    That’s dehumanization. That’s ethnic cleansing, and if the Rohinga can’t go anywhere else, they’ll end up dead if this goes unchecked.

  • Valerie, why are you picking a fight? I was repeating what the AI speaker, whose name I now cannot recall, said. Take it up with her. (Its been on my mind because of Aung San Suu Kyi ‘s arrival in the USA.)

    I think I probably know more about this than you do, since I worked on the committee to free Myo Min Zaw for several years, and studied Burma’s internal conflicts at length… but please, continue to patronize me as if I am stupid and have no clue. I really need you college girls to set me straight.

    I will dutifully apply ashes and sackcloth. Is that good enough?

    I am not responsible for what Burmese Buddhists do. I worked hard enough to free ONE freaking prisoner, I cannot be responsible for every single thing that happens there. We all can’t be perfect and live in morally-perfect Utopian Canada like you do, okay?

    Further, I can give you a list of my social justice work extending back 4 decades, and if you can’t provide a list matching that for yourself, I will politely ask you to get the hell off my back, please. I am stretched to the limit as it is. I don’t need to be bitched at about ANOTHER country, I can’t even stop my own goddamn country from going to wars in three countries at once.

    Jesus H Christ, whats wrong with people.

  • The U.S military is a sick culture; it turns otherwise reasonable, responsible people into vicious right-wing morons. But all that aside, it is still a government employment program, and its members deserve full and equal benefits, including post-rape abortions. My hatred of the military culture does not extend to blaming individuals who are sucked in and brainwashed by it. Indeed, three of my immediate family (father, brother, and niece) are all veterans or in active duty. That’s why I hate how fucked-up the military culture is–because I’ve seen what it does to people.

    But I’ll fight like crazy to ensure that they get proper healthcare and benefits, no matter what that toxic environment is doing to them otherwise.

  • Daisy, I don’t know about anywhere else, but in this thread, you seemed to justify, or dismiss what the Buddhists are doing in Burma right now, and Valerie was responding to that. Its also bad form to tell someone younger than you to “match your history of social justice work”. Not sure how they are supposed to do that when they are clearly less than 40. Come talk to her when she is your age, and she just might be able to.

    You also came in and attacked people in your first 3 posts. Kicking beehives usually gets you stung, I don’t know why you are getting defensive about it.

  • @Copyleft, it sounds like you’re just looking for someone to blame for your personal problems. Surely you can’t blame other military men for what your private relationships with your family members and their chosen political ideology? Surely you must know that left-leaning minorities are over-represented in the military? Blacks, atheists, foreign-born immigrants… you’re more likely to see them in the military than in the general public. They’re not bigots, they’re certainly not all idiots. Haven’t you heard that most people actually come out of the military a little more liberal than they went in? And if you’re calling them morons, considering that many of them come from underprivileged backgrounds, that’s quite insulting. They’re usually hard working, intelligent individuals who attained higher levels of education than the average in the communities from which they came from. I’m sorry if you’ve gotten the short end of the stick, but you’re engaging in cognitive dissonance that doesn’t line up with reality.

  • Daisy, dogma is bad. Right? When people become more reasonable, this is good right? Then you and I agree entirely. I just consider religion to be the biggest purveyor of dogma there is. Even religion-lite because even though those people doing religion-lite aren’t hurting anyone (except maybe for themselves in regards to acquiring real knowledge) these people are still providing cover to more extremists version of dogmatism/religion by defending religion in general, like you did. What I am saying is that far from being a bulwark against extremism, religious moderation enables religious extremism. Religious moderation gives credence to the notion that faith and dogma are legitimate avenues to follow.

    Anyway I don’t want to mix atheism and skepticism with secularism. There’s overlap, of course, but at it’s core (and in the same spirit of my previous post) secularism is about keeping the government out of the religious business. On this topic, I find that there are many deeply religious people who are 100% on board with the US government being entirely secular. These people know that religion and government don’t mix. This people know that in as much as religion interferes with government, government has a tendency to water down religion. For example, people who want to “Keep the Christ in Christmas” really should just want MORE secularism from the government. Look at what the government has done to Christianity’s second holiest day! (And look at what Easter has become) (And yes I was raised roman catholic like every good Italian boy from NY). Religion is so strong here in the US precisely because we have a separation of church and state! I am ok with this! I don’t mind when Mr. Smith puts a “god bless america banner” on his business. I am not ok with a public school doing it, or a town hall, or a court house, police station, post office, etc doing it. If one uses the machinery of the state to promote religion (or irreligion) then I am against that 100%, always! This is my issue. This is where I came from. Where feminism and gender are not my topics, atheism and secularism is.

    Now if we are going to talk about atheism and secularism in the sense of being not religious on a personal level, then yeah, Daisy, you penned me right. I THINK ALL RELIGION IS HARMFUL DOGMA. At best it prevents people from being more in touch with reality. At worst, well it gets innocent children killed.

    I’ll rephrase a famous quote by Steven Weinberg.

    “All things being equal, good people will do good things and bad people will do bad things. But to get good people to do bad things, that takes religion/dogma.”

    Or another similar quote from someone I can’t remember.

    “If you can get people to believe absurdities you can get them to do atrocities.”

    Ok, my post is rambling but I have RL here and this topic is HUGE. Like parenting I think I could just go on and on and on, never stopping to edit, just from my head, to my fingers, to here. So, sorry my posts suck lately. I’ m not out to convince people. I just toss out info and opinions and let people do whatever they want with them.

  • “Copyleft, it sounds like you’re just looking for someone to blame for your personal problems.”

    Of course it sounds that way to you, Dungone… you’re part of the military culture and looking for an excuse to discredit anyone who criticizes it.

    Funny how my revelation of personal experience with it is seized on as proof that I now have ‘personal problems’ and ‘got the short end of the stick.’

    “The Military Times Poll reveals a military more conservative, more Republican, and one that considers itself to be morally superior to the nation its serves.”

    “In keeping with previous surveys, nearly half of the respondents described their political views as conservative or very conservative. Slightly more than half said they consider themselves Republicans, 22 percent independents and 13 percent Democrats.”

    “Most active-duty service members continue to oppose President-elect Barack Obama’s campaign pledge to end the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy to allow gays to serve openly in the military, a Military Times survey shows.”

    All in their own words: http://militarytimes.com/projects/polls/

    Got any other unsupported assumptions you’d like to make in your rush to pretend that the U.S. military is not awash in wingnuttery, Bible-thumping, and knee-jerk jingoism?

  • Of course it sounds that way to you, Dungone… you’re part of the military culture and looking for an excuse to discredit anyone who criticizes it.

    That’s news to me. I’m a software engineer, got out of the military years ago. I’m an immigrant, atheist, and liberal. I’m criticizing you because I think you’re wrong, not because I was brainwashed by military culture. Would you care to use an argument that isn’t unfalsifiable?

    The Military Times Poll reveals…

    that it has the worst kind of self selection bias. The poll does not use a representative sample of military personnel, it is a completely voluntary survey of Military Times subscribers. You can’t even calculate a margin of error from such shoddy data; at best all it can tell you is that Military Times subscribers tend to be Republicans. No surprise there!

  • Equilibrium: Daisy, I don’t know about anywhere else, but in this thread, you seemed to justify, or dismiss what the Buddhists are doing in Burma right now

    (sigh) I wasn’t. Just commented on what I had just heard someone say, like two days ago. Also, I expressed some random thoughts I am coming to terms with in my own life (about the passivity)… if you like, I can link you to a thread on a forum in which I had just been discussing that, and therefore it was quite fresh in my mind. But something tells me that won’t make a shred of difference.

    What I am tired of, is everyone taking my comments (ALL my comments, about EVERY damn thing) in the worst possible light. Just tired of it.

    Its also bad form to tell someone younger than you to “match your history of social justice work”. Not sure how they are supposed to do that when they are clearly less than 40. Come talk to her when she is your age, and she just might be able to.

    Not “bad form”… setting the same impossible standard for her, that all of you set for me. Not fun, is it?

    We can match at whatever age she is at now, in that case, and I can match my resume to the age she is.

    I just resent being constantly gut-checked and dissed on this blog. I can’t even AGREE with someone without someone taking it as DISagreement. It’s really weird. I don’t understand it at all; this deliberate misreading of my words (and it certainly feels deliberate) does not happen to me anywhere else.

    • “I just resent being constantly gut-checked and dissed on this blog.”

      I am geting tired of it too. It’s one thing to ask for citations or sources or expansion on a point so you can understand it better, and quite something else to frame the question in a accusatory manner implying dismissal out of hand. All of us, please learn to tell the difference.

    • “Equilibrium: Daisy, I don’t know about anywhere else, but in this thread, you seemed to justify, or dismiss what the Buddhists are doing in Burma right now’

      I see this kind of argument a lot and it’s bullshit. The idea that a philosphy is discredited by the failure of some followers to abide by it is just illogical.

      What is happening in Burma has nothing to do with Buddhism or Islam. It’s about nationalism in the strict sense. The Burmans have been expansionist and imperialist in that region for at least 500 years. Buddhist or not, it’s not some historical anomaly for them to be treating anyone like this. And on top of this the rohingya are of Bengali origin, part of a great wall of Bengalis ready to wash over Burma, oro so it might very well look like from the Burmese side of the border. That’s a horrible way to see people and the treat them, but there is absolutely nothing unusual about it in this very dark world.

  • Debaser: religious moderation enables religious extremism.

    This is why it is the unique job of the “moderates” (I don’t like calling myself a “moderate” about anything!) to criticize and blow the whistle on the extremists. I have personally taken on this task bigtime, as I think you know. I think I am in a unique position to do so. They ignore you outright, they can’t dismiss US out of hand quite so easily.

    This is why I got upset when Dungone simply dismissed my comments about religious extremism on the other thread…damned when we do, damned when we don’t. If I don’t say anything, I am enabling them and allowing them to speak for me. If I do, well, I am wasting his time talking about religion. No way to win that one.

    Religious moderation gives credence to the notion that faith and dogma are legitimate avenues to follow.

    What is “legitimate”? It is not up to you to tell me if what I do is legitimate… whether it be in my bedroom, my job, my child rearing or anything else. THAT sounds like dogma.

    If we believe in freedom of the individual, freedom of the mind (us woo types would say the soul, “free will” and blah blahblah), then religious freedom must also be granted, whether you think it is “legitimate” or not.

    Anyway I don’t want to mix atheism and skepticism with secularism. There’s overlap, of course, but at it’s core (and in the same spirit of my previous post) secularism is about keeping the government out of the religious business. On this topic, I find that there are many deeply religious people who are 100% on board with the US government being entirely secular.

    Yes… and possibly many, many more than you think.

    I started a thread about this on a heavily-fundie board and was shocked at the agreement… they really know much more about the abuses than WE do… for instance, did you know the Duggars (that horrible TV show on TLC) have registered their house as a “church” and therefore do not pay taxes? What is THAT shit? Likewise, all these TV and radio stations owned by Trinity Broadcasting, etc. (you probably knew that) Hyles Anderson college owned several of the houses that Jack Schaap’s family lives in; Bob Jones University owns lots of rental property, similarly, all tax free. These are things some of the fundies know a lot about, and they have had enough, paying tithes so the preacher’s mother in law can have a new house. If anything, we could get some serious reforms going on.

    Now if we are going to talk about atheism and secularism in the sense of being not religious on a personal level, then yeah, Daisy, you penned me right. I THINK ALL RELIGION IS HARMFUL DOGMA. At best it prevents people from being more in touch with reality. At worst, well it gets innocent children killed.

    Reality is overrated. 😉

    I’ll rephrase a famous quote by Steven Weinberg.

    “All things being equal, good people will do good things and bad people will do bad things. But to get good people to do bad things, that takes religion/dogma.”

    Or another similar quote from someone I can’t remember.

    “If you can get people to believe absurdities you can get them to do atrocities.”

    Yeah I have heard those, I think the second might have been Mary McCarthy?

    I’ve got one, but this was from a devout Catholic trashing fundamentalism… but you might like it too:

    “Ignorance is excusable when it is borne like a cross, but when it is wielded like an axe, and with moral indignation, then it becomes something else indeed”– Flannery O’Connor.

  • Dungone, did you join the military to gain citizenship, or did you have citizenship before you joined?

    Book some military guy wrote (he was on Book TV/C-Span, I missed the title of the book) about how the USA will start farming out its military operations to immigrants in exchange for citizenship, so American citizens will never actually have to fight their/our own wars. Just another outsourced occupation, he said.

    Since native-born Americans won’t be fighting the wars ourselves, military intervention will become far more politically viable and short-circuit any objections, except the usual financial ones.

    Endless war, the Pentagon’s version of heaven.

  • Debaser, sorry… it was Voltaire, not Mary McCarthy.

    Mary McCarthy: “I do not mind if I lose my soul for all eternity. If the kind of God exists Who would damn me for not working out a deal with Him, then that is unfortunate. I should not care to spend eternity in the company of such a person.”

  • I am not responsible for what Burmese Buddhists do. I worked hard enough to free ONE freaking prisoner, I cannot be responsible for every single thing that happens there. We all can’t be perfect and live in morally-perfect Utopian Canada like you do, okay?

    Canada sucks. We’ve brought back racism in our immigration policy recently (thanks Separatists and Harperites) and I know you’re not responsible for the United States either.

    Further, I can give you a list of my social justice work extending back 4 decades, and if you can’t provide a list matching that for yourself, I will politely ask you to get the hell off my back, please. I am stretched to the limit as it is. I don’t need to be bitched at about ANOTHER country, I can’t even stop my own goddamn country from going to wars in three countries at once.

    Well, between my writing for the Huffington Post, my allowing some trans women in crisis to share my home, even when that imperiled my home, my three runs for office, 7 conventions, what morphed from sign crew to gopher to personal aide during one parliamentary campaign, my willingness to get arrested over the closing of a public space, the point I make of asking every transit cop if they’d kept the subway safe from the working poor today, and other stuff I can’t name off the top of my head, but which would be longer if, as a trans woman, I wasn’t excluded from the word go from many activist communities, I think I’ve earned sufficient moral authority to say this:

    You don’t have to fight the Buddhist-led ethnic cleansing in Burma. You just have to stop trying to excuse them from moral culpability for it.

  • “7 conventions” you mean, like our major party (political) conventions? Are these every four years, like ours? If so, you sound older than I thought. If you mean every year, well, then you are more or less the age I thought.

    If you want some Buddhist games, well, I HAVE been Buddhist long enough to engage in them.

    You just have to stop trying to excuse them from moral culpability for it.

    What is “excusing”? How would I have any authority to excuse anyone from anything?

    What is “moral culpability”? And is this definition decided on by you, or by whom? Why am I expected to abide by it, in any event?

    We can play this unto infinity, if you want.

    But you will not bully me into whatever response you have decided to bully me into. I am not your bitch.

  • Dungone, did you join the military to gain citizenship, or did you have citizenship before you joined?

    No, I had political asylum with a guarantee of US Citizenship given to my family by the US embassy in West Germany. I did not need to join the military for any reason; I was in college on a scholarship when I decided to enlist.

  • @Daisy, perhaps you aren’t aware that the US military has always been chock full of immigrants. 20% of Medal of Honor recipients have been foreign born. That news story sounds like xenophobic paranoia and it’s not the first time that the MSM have run stories like that. It is true that, especially during the draft, immigrant communities have been heavily exploited and more likely to get put into combat units alongside with blacks and poor whites. It’s really sad that some Americans have an such an incredibly naive image of the military, but it’s even sadder that some people will shit on those who serve to drum up anti-immigration sentiment.

  • Daisy, thanks for responding. Please note that I not only fight for secularism in regards to the separation of church and state I fight for the religious on this issue.

    So when you say, “What is “legitimate”? It is not up to you to tell me if what I do is legitimate…” you are asking two questions. In terms of U.S. Law it’s not up to the government to tell you what is legitimate. Full stop. However, in terms of being an individual, to me, religion is woo. So as an example, let’s just look at evolution vs creationism. Creationism is illegitimate nonsense, not backed up by anything. Evolution is a fact. So if one’s faith is leading them towards creationism, well then, that’s what I mean by following faith and dogma over reality. That’s the illegitimacy I am talking about. I’m not saying they shouldn’t be allowed to believe in silliness. I’m saying that they believe in things for bad (illegitimate) reasons.

    I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again. It’s not about WHAT you believe, it’s WHY you believe it.

By Jim Doyle

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