Boston, Texas and an argument or three

Sorry for the long hiatus.  It has been a hectic month here.

So, let’s get right to it.  I have friends in Boston and family back home in Texas.  Two tragedies in one week and I no longer have finger nails to chew.

After Boston, I braced for the inevitable “#prayforboston” to spam the airwaves.  And boy did it ever!  At first, I ignored it.  But the more images I saw of the raw carnage and horror that had befallen my neighbors, I had to actually do and say something.  I started posting about blood banks, donation sites and found an eBay connected CharityWorks that donates DIRECTLY to Mass General.  Set up 5 auctions myself which all end Sunday to raise a few hundred dollars for donation.

I started responding to friends and family who posted “pray for boston” and linked them directly to the hospital’s donation page.  >> https://give.massgeneral.org/boston-marathon <<  Apparently, this was “belittling” and “insulting” to believers.

But I have to ask, if a neighbor comes to your door crying and sobbing that their house is on fire, do you just let them cry it out?  Or do you help them focus, call 9-11 and get that fire put out?  Just because a behavior makes you feel better or helps you pretend that you are helping, does not make it a good thing.  I believe in helping people.  Not patting myself on the back for caring or retweeting that I care.

A few days later, West, Texas suffered a tragedy.  My own brothers were there helping put out fires and search for survivors.  My mother drove up from SanAntonio to volunteer at her old hospital, Scott & White.  I am all the way in New York, so I pledged the remaining money from eBay sales to West, Texas support.  Again, I sent out links, encouraging those who could help to do so.

I will not apologize or be made to feel guilty for trying to actually ASSIST PEOPLE IN NEED rather than stroking my own ego and talking to myself.  My family is Christian.  They actually believe in prayer for many things.  But in times of emergency, they remind themselves that “God helps those who help themselves” and they get to work.  Of course, these are well read Christians who understand the lessons of hospitality and helping the needy too. >.>

So to all those people who I may have “offended” or “belittled”, I am not sorry.  And fuck you.

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“Don’t Get Raped” vs. “Don’t Rape”

First off, put this number in your phone or somewhere you can find it easily: 1.800.656.HOPE (4673).  It is a sexual crime hotline which can help you find local help and talk to you.  No victim should ever feel alone.

Second, let me tell you my story before anyone jumps to conclusions or makes ill-informed judgment calls on me.

I was raped at 15.  It was my first time having any sex and my attacker was my boyfriend whom I had dated for over a year.  I had come over to his house to hang out (playing video games, watching movies) the usual things we did.  We were kissing as usual and went to his bedroom to make out.  He had never tried anything on me before so I was not suspicious that he wanted anything more.  Suddenly he had his pants off and was on top of me telling me over and over “don’t worry don’t worry it will be okay” as I pushed at him and said “No” repeatedly.  I stopped struggling when I realized I couldn’t get him off of me and it was over quickly.  There was blood everywhere and he looked horrified so he moved off me.  I ran to his bathroom and locked the door.  He was outside the door saying things like he was sorry and he’ll drive me home.  I quickly washed up in his sink and said, “no thank you.  I’ll just walk home.”  I ran from his house as fast as I could and ran all the way home.

He broke up with me two days later after no contact.  I did not speak to him again for years.  I blamed myself, that I had somehow lead him on by kissing too much or being alone.  I did not tell anyone what happened.  Instead, I withdrew from future relationships.  I refused to be alone with a guy, I was scare to kiss too much or let anyone touch me.  I assumed that all men were horny jerks and it was my job to be safe.  It was not until 5 years later that I trusted someone enough to even try having consensual sex.  And even then it was awkward and unnerving.

I have since had progressively worse relationships. I have attempted suicide multiple times. I have knowingly let myself be used sexually and abused physically by convincing myself I deserved it.  Ten years after the incident, I saw him again in a random encounter.  His first words were ” I am so sorry for what I did to you.”  He went on to say that he has felt nothing but guilt since that day, that he is sorry for ruining my perception of men and that what he did was the worst possible thing a man can do.  He had apparently become very religious and was joining a missionary service overseas.  He said he had wanted to “cleanse his heart” and asked for my forgiveness.  I told him, I cannot forgive him, but I hope he will in time forgive himself.  With that, he left.  I have never filed criminal charges.

————

So, now you know my background.  After hearing what happened in India recently and seeing the re-posting of “rape prevention advice” all over facebook, I decided I need to say something.  First off, there is no 100% way to “prevent” rape. There are many good tips for protecting yourself from further violence or from avoiding being a target of randomized rape.  But the fact remains that good 85-87% of known rape is perpetrated by someone you know and trust.

So does that mean we can’t protect ourselves?  No.

I have compiled a list based purely on my own experiences of warning signs that you may be with a potential rape-threat partner or friend.  When I was 15, I did not know many of these things so I hope that it can help at least one person:  *** Please note that one or two of these signs do not equate a rapist, but if you see multiples, it’s probably NOT a healthy or safe relationship!***

Signs of Aggression:

1. Quick to Anger. Seemingly benign things agitate him to extreme rage or fits of physical violence.

2. Physical threats. Constant griping and threatening of violence should be treated like the growl of a dog.  A warning.

3. Friends/Family fear him.  If the people closest to him who have known him long amounts of time act like they are scared, it could be because they have seem him do horrible things.

4. Prideful boasting.  A man who feels the need to always be top dog dies not take “no” easily.

Signs of Control:

1. Does he try to dictate portions of your life as if you are his child?  Your clothing, food, friends etc.

2. Does he easily get upset when things do not go to plan?

3. Does he often shout or talk over you or, contrastly, does he not even let you speak or listen when you do?

4. Do your goals or dreams have any bearing on his future plans?

5. Do you ask for permission to do simple things?

Signs of Sexism

1. How does he treat female members of his family?

2. How does he treat females in customer service jobs?

3. Has he made any negative remarks about the “proper roles/place” of women?

Signs of Sexual Hyperactivity

1. Does he seek constant sexual stimulation?  (pornography, strip clubs etc)

2. Does he pressure you to do other sexual acts when you are on your period?

3. Does he threaten you with cheating if you refuse him?

4. Does he try to use sex as an all-cure instead of taking into account your illness/concern?

5. Does he try to guilt you into sex with comments or statistics about what is “normal” or “expected”?

Now, again, I must reiterate that people come in all ages, creeds, backgrounds etc.  So some of these actions are not auto triggers.  But I want women to know that whether it’s a first date or someone you’ve been married to for years and had children with, you can ALWAYS say no.  You do not “owe” anyone sex.  Your body is yours alone.  Your best defense is to raise your standards for a mate.  DO NOT accept anyone who treats you as anything less than human.

Lastly, you cannot fix him.  That’s it.  Move on, let go and stop hurting yourself.  Until generations of boys are raised respecting their mothers and sisters, we cannot just talk him into being a new person.  He is the product of his upbringing.  Perhaps if we all stop enabling rapist behavior, men will realize that THEY are the ones who need to change THEMSELVES.  And there is no greater motivation for the man than his libido. 😉

***As an aside, YES I know men get raped too.  Mostly by other males and mostly in prison or jail settings.  So that’s a whole other topic and one I will not pretend to be an expert on.  I am not dismissing the male experience, nor will I be accused of forgetting same sex relationships.  I understand that to every topic there are exceptions.  But bringing them up does not change the topic at hand.  It only detracts and dismisses.***

Some kid called me a terrorist cause I was dressed like one.

So I recently became aware of this tumblr post from last month:
http://imperfectwriting.tumblr.com/post/33933007179/i-went-to-the-mall-and-a-little-girl-called-me-a

In it, a middle class white girl complains how she wore a Hijab to the mall just to see if she was treated differently and oh guess what, she was. Shock and awe! According to her tale of whitegirlwoe, she even got called a terrorist by some little kid who, I can only assume, is raised in a house with too much FOX news. (Author’s note: I obviously don’t think all Muslim women are terrorists. But FOX fans probably do. :*)

I would have skimmed past this little jewel if it wasn’t being spread everywhere with some silly message about how we should stop judging people based on their religious choices. Repeat.. CHOICES.

Look, I’m all for equality among humanity. Being born in a random part of the world with a random skin color, sex or language shouldn’t automatically classify you as less than human. The problem is, it’s RELIGION that’s fueling most of the hate between humans who are otherwise similar in tongue, skin tones and culture, not the other way around. So when I see religious people complain that people are judging them, it just makes me laugh.

In this case, it was a kid playing dress up in an orthodox religious costume.

So here’s my simple solution:
IF you want to be judged as an individual, don’t wear a uniform.

Don’t wear a team jersey and get mad when people give you feedback about the team. Don’t wear a KKK robe and say people shouldn’t “assume” you’re a racist. If you choose to go out into society wearing the uniform/logo/badge of an organization, then you are responsible for the consequences. Does it excuse rudeness? No. But it doesn’t mean that everyone who looks at you funny or treats you “differently” automatically hates you just because you’re different. Maybe they dislike who you’ve chosen to openly support. And wearing a hijab in America where you don’t have Sharia law forcing it upon you, is your choice and is you showing support for a religion that has a very long history of violence and hate for everyone that wont conform to it. That’s your freedom, you can wear one if you want. But don’t get an attitude when people treat you different than everyone else.

The “War” on Christmas

First off, if you didn’t see Jon Stewart last night, you should. I couldn’t stop laughing.

Second, will this tired argument ever go away? Look kiddies, there is no “war on Christmas”. Stop making shit up so you can pretend your majority group is being oppressed. As an Atheist who grew up Catholic, I still celebrate the Winter in my house. And funny enough, I am the one who gets told I’m not “allowed” to celebrate. But that all aside since I could give two shits what my evangelical distant relatives think of whose “permission” I need to celebrate something they think they copyrighted.

Christians are December Hipsters. They seem to think that this Jesus fellow invented the holiday and patented it. If there isn’t a church telling you how to erect a manger scene or when you’re supposed to put in the baby Jesus, there’s another church telling you that lights and tinsel are heathen decorations. It seems every Christian church out there has their own way of celebrating and their own stubborn way of insisting everyone else do it “the right way” too. You guys are sucking all the fun out of the holiday which, if I remember correctly from childhood, was SUPPOSED to be about love, family, friends and celebrating Jesus. The only thing that changed for me was the supernatural aspect.

So, here’s a quick history lesson for all the Christ-hipsters out there who insist on declaring ownership rights and first dibs on December celebrations.
1. According to science, math, historical calculations and most theists with a degree in religious history nowadays: Jesus wasn’t BORN in December. He was most likely born around April. So for all you belly aching about not putting Jesus in the manger setup until December 25th, stfu please. Besides, that whole manger story isn’t even IN the Bible. Most of that tale, along with the drummer boy and Frosty and Rudolph. is based on children’s stories and Christmas carols that you’ve been singing so long you forgot who wrote them.
2. Celebrating the change in seasons isn’t something Christians invented. The real reason Christmas (along with Hannukah, Boxing Day, and various Feasts and saints days etc) is celebrated around the Solstice is BECAUSE it’s the Winter Solstice. And we’ve been celebrating that little astrological change as long as we had stargazing ancestors. It’s also the reason that unless you truly live in a vacuum of only Christian friends and family and neighbors, that the polite greeting to strangers this season is “Happy Holidays”. Forcing other crap on them is as dumb as wishing random people “Happy Birthday” and hoping you get it right.
3. I know every religion past, present and future wants to pretend it’s the main course and everything before it was just an appetizer, but you’re not. Fact is, human beings have always imagined gods and godesses to replace their gaps in knowledge. Whether it was the origin of life or lightning. And as those people gain knowledge, they lose the need for supernatural explanations. So as the religions changed and the cultures changed and people began dominating one another and taking over sections of land, they started adapting old religions and gods into their own. I know some of you hate the term “evolution” but that’s what it is. Your religion, like your DNA, is just a product of thousands of years of evolutionary change. Christmas has nothing to do with Jesus. He isn’t “the reason for the season”. He is, more accurately, the excuse for the hijacking of preexisting celebrations in previously non-Christian nations.

Finally, as a side note to Bill O’Reilly, you’re adorable sweetie. I cannot believe that you just announced on National television that you think Christianity isn’t a religion. If this is really the case and you REALLY think it’s “just a philosophy”, I would be delighted to add your name to the list of concerned Americans who would like to see all the pretend churches lose their tax exempt status. After all, if it’s just a philosophy, why treat it as special case when profits are concerned? Why defend some bully’s “religious right” to harass homosexual classmates. And why cry “religious persecution” when you’re told that a publicly tax-funded park shouldn’t have Christian paraphernalia all over it? Well Bill, let me know.

Thoughts On Libya and Israel

I still wonder why a minority of about 11% of the country still has such powerful influence on American politics? There are larger minority groups that get ignored and/or treated like crap while Israel is still some “top priority” issue. Why are we, a baby new country on the grand scale, so indebted to a tiny middle east country involved in a 2000 year old war over some silly “holy” land? I don’t get it. Innocent Americans keep getting killed in the crossfire in what is essentially a fail holy war between two religious factions fighting over their “rights” to some supposed “holy” sandbox. And meanwhile anyone who helps either side keeps dragging their entire region/culture down the hole.

I am an American speaking for the 13% Atheist community with ZERO vested interest in Jews or Muslims who would like to stop living in fear of being killed in the crossfire of this religious gang violence. You wanna blame someone for Libya, how about we start back at our pointless INVOLVEMENT in the Middle East to begin with? Muslim terrorist aren’t mad at America cause we’re “trying to steal their oil” lol.. The terrorists are mad that we 1. claim to be a “Christian nation” and let Evangelicals take over our Military one chaplain at a time and 2. defend Israel every time she whines for help. How about you stop pretending this is a “political” or “economic” war and face facts. Without the religious differences between Christians, Muslims and Jews there would be NO reason for Hamas or Al Quaeda etc. You’d be acting like the neighbors and communities you are.

Next time I hear a theist of one of the Abrahamic religions blame ANYONE but themselves for this crap I am going to scream. Bitches need to shut up and go READ The books they pretend to follow. You’re all the same religion, based on the same God. Just too loyal to your own version of spin off fanfiction to realize it.  Gaza Strip isn’t the site of some genocide race war.  It’s a civil war between neighbors who only hate each other based on how they pronounce god and which prophet they think was right.

Tax The Rich? Sure, Let’s Start at the Collection Plate

All this talk swirls around every election about how corporations are evil and CEOs are selfish. And people demand with foam in their mouth that these greedy companies need to care more about the environment. Give back to the poor. Pay a fairer share of federal tax. Give back to the American Economy instead of investing so much overseas. etc etc
And I agree with you. There is such a thing as excessive wealth. And this is a shared space, we all built it together. Whether it’s the farmer whose work fed your children or the public school system that educated them or the public roads and buildings they now use for work. So yes, if you succeeded, you did not do it alone.

But here’s a large economic drain that NO ONE seems to talk about: Church tax exemption. Quick history lesson, does anyone know why churches are afforded tax free privileges? It’s because 200 years ago churches in this country were running soup kitchens. Giving beds to the homeless. Orphans were dropped off on chapel doorsteps and raised by nuns. So, sure, we all agreed as a secular community, to let non profit organizations stay tax exempt. After all, they were not in business for the money.

Fast forward to today. Scientology has 46 front groups (mostly fake drug rehab spas and printing houses for L. Ron Hubbard’s crappy books) which raise money specifically for the “church” of Scientology. A business started by a sci fi writer who himself said 60 years ago “if a man wants to make a million dollars, he should start a church”.

We also have the Televangelists of today. Practically begging for money every time they open their mouths. Telling people that the world is ending soon so why hold on to your hard earned money? Well, why would the “church” need it? You can’t take it with you when you die, so why would these TV Show preachers need to amass millions each year? Probably because they don’t believe the world is ending. So now you’re just giving your money to someone who lied to you. These despicable people are the used car salesmen of the faithful.

And lastly, we have the Mormon Church (aka LDS). Created little over a century ago by an illiterate, racist slave owner who wanted to be a polygamist. This never-was-a-real-church has swindled countless morons out of their money by insisting on necessary donations and going door to door like vacuum sales men. And have they used this vast wealth to help the poor? Feed the hungry? Build new schools? No. They have invested billions through “superPACS” and “Coalitions” see also: FRONT GROUPS to play politics. Overturning laws in Hawaii and California by throwing ill-gotten gains into advertising. And now they are helping fund a presidential candidate. A faceless suit filler with no personality of his own.

So yes, by all means. Let’s tax the rich. But I say, let’s start with the 78 BILLION wasted each year by allowing churches to stay tax free even when they do little to nothing for the community. I think all non profits should have to prove that they have given back every year and reapply for tax exemption EVERY year. If you want to run yourself like a corporation and build your gilded towers and fund your church yacht parties, then you should have to pay a tax on that lifestyle like everyone else.

Unconstitutional

That word is a mouthful.  Here’s a fun game:

Open Google. Search for “Unconstitutional State Law”.  See the horror.

Once upon a time, our country was divided.  Back before cars, trains or planes.  When people were born and died in one county.  Where family businesses were owned and operated for generations on the same tract of land.  Now some people think these were “the good old days”  I see them as the dark ages.  You know what happens when people don’t have TV or the Internet to expose them daily to other cultures?  They become narrow minded.

So sure, maybe the corn farmer in Nebraska doesn’t NEED to know who the president of Libya is.  Hell I don’t even know if Libya has a president.  And that doesn’t make anyone a bad person or a moron.  People have limited time and resources.  You can’t possibly KNOW everything there is to know about everything.  But you can, however, be self aware.  Self aware of your lack of knowledge.  You can be aware that there are other cultures, religions and races outside your small community.  And you can realize that we all SHARE this planet and this country and, yes, even the state.

So that’s why we have a US Constitution.  It’s not perfect.  But the idea that there are inalienable human rights not to be violated should reign supreme.  It’s a philosophical debate as old as time.

So does it upset me in this day to see states living by archaic ideas?  To see local governments that require elected officials to be theist: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2009/12/15/which-states-ban-atheists-from-holding-public-office/

To see local governments pushing religious ideas into public schools: http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/aclu-ind-creationism-bill-is-unconstitutional

To see that many states still tell privately owned business when they can be open on Sunday and what they are allowed to sell. everystateever. :3

I know democracy isn’t perfect.  And this is just an example of “tyranny of the majority”.  But there are certain rights guaranteed ALL citizens, no matter where they live.  Free speech.  Freedom of (and FROM) religion.  Free Enterprise.  etc.  And the Federal Constitution should and always has trumped State constitutions.

So Ron Paul supporters, I ask you this: Why do you still insist on saying silly things like “If you don’t like the Sate’s laws, just move” when I can so readily reply “If you don’t like the Federal constitution, then why are you part of the United States?”

States who wish to maintain the freedoms and protections and tax funded benefits of the US Government have to abide by the Constitution.  It’s a simple idea really. So STOP fighting it.