Adult Onset Atheist

Thursday, July 21, 2016

23 Freedom!

Ted Cruz lit up the GOP convention last night, but mostly because of what he did NOT say. Ted though it best to not specifically endorse the official GOP nominee.

Ted told the gathered throng to “vote their conscience”, and did not suggest anyone in particular. Many booing attendees believed he should have suggested Donald Trump since he was the party nominee, and the guy all the GOP money would be going to elect, and this was the GOP’s party he was invited to speak at. I’m not sure what Ted’s “vote your conscience” means in terms of actionable voting suggestions. Much of his speech was devoted to Hillary bashing, and so I don’t think it was a veiled endorsement of Hillary. Maybe Ted wants people to vote for Jill Stein?

What Ted did specifically mention was “Freedom”. He used the word 23 times in his speech. That’s a lot of freedom. Hurray for freedom!

One mention of Freedom was especially interesting. Here is the exact quote:

“Freedom means religious freedom, whether you are Christian, Jew, Muslim, or Atheist.” – Ted Cruz GOP convention 20 July 2016

I would love to know exactly what Ted means by religious freedom for atheists. It is actually a great thing that he mentioned us in a speech. Since Ted has not been a big supporter of an Atheist’s right to live a normal life I am suspicious. However, he did mention us, and not in an obviously bad way. He could have mentioned Hindus or Buddhists, but he mentioned Atheists instead. That’s a couple points for Ted that I never expected him to try and earn.

Ted only mentions God five times, and most of these are in colloquial phraseology like “God bless” or “God willing”. He did not try to outdo Ben Carson’s God/Lucifer rant.

It is also interesting to note that the vice presidential nominee (Pence) also failed to invoke God in any magical way. He was very clear that he is a Christin first, but he failed to mention how any God is suggesting to him that the people of his state would be more blessed if they had a hard time getting abortions or if their tax money went to Gay conversion therapy instead of HIV outreach. Pence is a piece of work. I had hoped he would stand up in front of the RNC and tell everyone how much of a piece he really was.

I suppose there will be time to shake down the TP ticket before November.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Carson - it burns

The RNC is in full swing. Donald Trump has been officially nominated. It is tradition for the nominee to fill many of the slots with speakers from his “tribe”; Mitt Romney filled the podium positions with normal-looking Mormons, and Donald Trump has filled the podium with D-list celebrities. The wife gives a speech outlining the humanity of the candidate, and Melania Trump gave such a speech that was remarkably similar to the one given by the wife of the last successful presidential candidate. The RNC is dotting all the "t"s and crossing all the "I"s needed to make this a successful campaign.

Some of my acquaintances (those who actually waste time thinking about things; I believe they are derogatorily called “elites”) have disparagingly exclaimed things like: “The stupid – it burns!” But many voters in this country already know that the stupid only burns a little at first, and then it cleanses; fire cleanses, and so does stupidity when you open your mind to it.

Open your mind to the stupidity – The burning sensation goes away after a while.

Former republican candidates have taken the stage to throw their support behind Trump. Wednesday Ted Cruz will contribute his vision to the cacophony. Last night Ben Carson spoke to the crowd. These are people who had/have millions of supporters.

Ben Carson spoke out about the danger Atheist ideas posed for the country. He stated that acknowledging god –I assume his god and not FSM- was required for a robust American future. The following is a direct transcript of a portion of his speech to the 2016 RNC:

“This is a nation where our founding document -the Declaration of Independence- talks about certain inalienable rights that come from our “Creator”. This is a nation where our Pledge of Allegiance says we are “One nation under God”. This is a nation. This is a nation where every coin in our pocket, and every bill in our wallet says “In God we trust”. So are we willing to elect someone as president who has as their role model somebody who acknowledges Lucifer? Think about that. The secular progressive agenda is antithetical to the principles of the founding of this nation, and if we continue to allow them to take God out of our lives God will remove himself from us, we will not be blessed, and our nation will go down the tubes, and we will be responsible for that; we don't want that to happen.” – Dr. Ben Carson to RNC, 19 July 2016

Will Ted Cruz one up Carson in the fervor with which he invokes a magic being to save America from Atheist ideation?

The rhetoric presented by the podium fodder at the RNC does not simply echo the passive prayer circles of salt-of-the earth Americans who are simply exercising their individual beliefs; these are the voices of an activist anti-science socially repressive agenda. These voices have succeeded in filling the GOP platform with language that guts environmental regulation, and even calls for the essential dissolution of the EPA. There is special contempt for the idea of climate change, and this rejecting of the science behind climate change is stronger than it has ever been; the more we discover about climate change science the stronger the GOP’s rejection of it has become.

On first read the platform does not look like it contains any support for some radically ignorant ideas like intelligent design. This does not mean that the ideology of the party figureheads has strayed from the woefully stupid set of ideas embraced by young earth creationists. It simply appears as if the strides made by LGBTQA+ groups in the past four years has created a warm living group to serve as targets of religious hate. Here is Ben Carson on the “absurdity” of transgender identity:

“It is silly for us to engage in something that we have known for thousands of years. We have known what a man is and what a woman is for thousands of years. All of a sudden, we don’t know anymore. I said that is absurd.” -- Dr. Ben Carson interview with Katie Couric 19 July 2016

While there is enough in his stance on transgender identity, and he goes on, to get upset about, I would like to put your focus on the repeated assertion of a timeframe for the knowledge he cites. Humans have only known for “thousands of years”. He did not evoke “tens of thousands”, or “over a hundred thousand”. If he wanted to bring in the collected wisdom of a larger set of evolutionary branching he could have said “millions”. However, the world is only a few thousand years old according to Young Earth Creationist wisdom even if a longer earth history might help make hateful rhetoric sound a little more powerful.

I have been told that the foibles and incredible stupidity on display at the RNC are evidence of insiders destabilizing the Trump campaign from the inside. Some long-term republicans I know have openly endorsed Hillary Clinton. Unfortunately pandering to stupidity and ejection of establishment republicans may only help to strengthen the Trump campaign.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Durban Ohio

The GOP (Grand Old Party or Republican Party) convention opens in Cleveland today, and half a world away the International AIDS Conference opens in Durban South Africa. The contrasts between the contexts that these two gatherings are taking place in are striking. The AIDS conference proclaiming the possibility of a future free of one of the most damaging scourges the world has ever known while standing atop a mound of damage caused by years of denialism fueled by misogyny, homophobia, and organic ignorance. The GOP appear to be standing on a lump of damage proclaiming how, by making that lump a mountain, they will be able to see into the future.

In the mid-2000s South Africa placed itself at the apex of world HIV denialism. The president of South Africa - Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki- was claiming special knowledge of HIV/AIDS to whomever would listen. His views were echoed by the Minister of Health - Dr. Mantombazana 'Manto' Edmie Tshabalala-Msimang - he had appointed. Mbeki’s denialism went beyond a basic refutation of the link between HIV and AIDS; Mbeki had a sure-fire cure for HIV infection that would prevent AIDS.

Mbeki had served as Nelson Mandela’s deputy for his five years in office, and would go on to serve as president for nine. Manto had used her medical training and public heath degree (from The University of Antwerp) to nurture the health and wellbeing of ANC militants in Tanzania. Manto went on to serve a year with Mbeki’s successor. These were not marginalized or unrespected individuals; they had served with distinction in the ANC, and were leading the ANC in the creation of a post-apartheid South African nation.

Nelson Mandela did little to address the AIDS epidemic in South Africa during his five years as president (1994-1999), even though the prevalence of HIV positive people in the country had ballooned from about 1% when he was released from prison in 1990 to 10% when he left office. Mandela identified AIDS as a problem after he left office, and in 2005 he made it the very personal focus of the last chapters of his life; in 2005 he announced to the world that his son had died of AIDS.

Almost in response to Mandela’s heartfelt plea the Mbeki administration released a list of common items that could prevent HIV infection from advancing to “AIDS defining conditions”. These items included:

  • Garlic
  • Lemon Juice
  • Beetroot
  • Olive oil
  • Onions
  • Certain alcoholic beverages

Magic concoctions were also being “made available” for a fee. One of the most famous was a proprietary mix of 89 herbs called “uBhejane” that was promoted throughout the early 2000s by Obed Mlaba while he was mayor of Durban.

The current AIDS conference laments the over 350,000 deaths attributed to adoption of these irrational and ineffective treatments, and the explosion of new infections facilitated by the large infected population. It is believed that as many as one in five people in South Africa are HIV positive; giving it the highest infection rate in the world.

Mix stupidity with real world problems, and the results can be HUGE.

It is a shockingly similar toxic mixture that being presented in Cleveland this week.

I do not know whether to be encourage or disheartened by the idea that so many major figureheads of the republican party are boycotting the convention. Do they think that by not showing up the possibility of a Trump presidency will be substantially reduced? Do they think that without their input the party platform will be less egregiously damaging to the advancement of western civilization?

I would think that responsible republicans would show up and try to clean up as much of the euphemistic crap on the metaphorical red carpet as they could before it festered into the possibility of law.

They could do a lot without showing up. How about filling a Supreme Court vacancy or passing some kind of immigration reform?