Archive for December, 2010

InquisitionIt was inevitable, I suppose, that once word came out that President Barack Obama had complimented the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles (WebCite cached article) for having hired Michael Vick after his release from prison for running a dog-fighting operation, the Right would suddenly treat Vick as though he were worse than Hitler or Stalin. It’s the “friend of my enemy is also my enemy” principle in action. It’s natural this would happen, I guess. But the ferocious Rightist Tucker Carlson, however, took that just a few steps too far recently in one of his (many) appearances on Fox News, as AOL Fanhouse reports — and he used Christianity as an oblique justification for it (cached):

“I’m a Christian, I’ve made mistakes myself, I believe fervently in second chances,” Carlson said. “But Michael Vick killed dogs, and he did in a heartless and cruel way. And I think, personally, he should’ve been executed for that.

Now, Vick’s arrest, trial and conviction took place quite a while ago. I can’t find any record of Carlson having weighed in on this matter, before. So I can’t help but conclude that Obama’s comments were the trigger for this call to execute Vick. In fact, Carlson veers close to admitting this overtly:

“[T]he idea that the President of the United States would be getting behind someone who murdered dogs? Kind of beyond the pale.”

Here’s video of his comments, courtesy of YouTube:

The bottom line, Gentle Reader, is this: Carlson decided that Michael Vick should have been executed, merely because Barack Obama had something nice to say about him.

Wow. That’s all … just “wow.” The viciousness of that is stunning. Not to mention the idea that people should live or die based solely on the ideological identity of others who happen to say nice things about them.

What a marvelous Christian he is, eh?

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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His Eminence Metropolitan Seraphim (Mentzelopoulos) of PiraeusI blogged several times on the Catholic bishop Richard Williamson, who was readmitted to the Roman Catholic world some time ago without anyone in the Vatican realizing that he was an anti-Semite and Holocaust denier. Or perhaps they knew, but just didn’t care, because they were eager to get all of the formerly-schismatic Society of St Pius X back. At any rate, anti-Semitism among Christians is hardly just a Catholic problem. Recently a Greek Orthodox bishop made his anti-Semitism public, during a television interview. The New York Times Lede blog reports on his remarks (WebCite cached article):

Leaders of Greece’s small Jewish community objected on Wednesday to televised remarks by a Greek Orthodox bishop who blamed the country’s financial problems on a conspiracy of Jewish bankers and claimed that the Holocaust was orchestrated by Zionists.

The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece complained to church authorities about the anti-Semitic remarks made by the Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus during an interview on Greek television on Monday, according to a statement (in Greek) on the group’s Web site.*

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported [cached] that the bishop “said that there is a conspiracy to enslave Greece and Christian Orthodoxy. He also accused international Zionism of trying to destroy the family unit by promoting one-parent families and same-sex marriages.”

According to the news agency, when the bishop was then asked, “Why do you disagree with Hitler’s policies? If they are doing all this, wasn’t he right in burning them?” he replied: “Adolf Hitler was an instrument of world Zionism and was financed from the renowned Rothschild family with the sole purpose of convincing the Jews to leave the shores of Europe and go to Israel to establish the new Empire.” He added that Jewish bankers like “Rockefeller, Rothschild and Soros control the international banking system that controls globalization.”

Video of the Metropolitan’s interview is available (in Greek) from the Mega TV Web site.

The idea that Hitler was himself a Jew, is not really unique to the Metropolitan Seraphim. Others have said something close to it, before … and I assume they will again. I’m not sure how much sense it makes, though; if one is contriving to grant a boon to a group of people, massacring them by the million is hardly the way to accomplish that.

Of course, the Metropolitan Seraphim has since “apologized” for his comments, and tried to “clarify” them, as the Lede blog subsequently reported (cached):

A Greek Orthodox bishop who was criticized by Jewish groups, the Greek government and some coreligionists for blaming Greece’s financial problems on a conspiracy of Jewish bankers and claiming that the Holocaust was orchestrated by Zionists issued a statement on Thursday in which he denied that he was anti-Semitic but also equated Zionism to “Satanism.”

His non-apology apology is basically a protest that he loves the Jewish people, it’s just Zionism specifically that he objects to. This too is a variant on an old dodge that anti-Semites frequently use. In the Metropolitan’s case, though, it fails … because many of his initial complaints were about “Jews,” and “Jewish bankers,” not about “Zionists.” His claim that Zionism is Satanism is, likewise, his own variation on a common theme among Christian anti-Semites; they consider it a profane and anti-Christian movement, an attempt to control or subvert Christianity. (It was the aforementioned Bishop Williamson who revealed the reason why so many Christians are anti-Semitic, as I blogged some time ago.)

The only thing missing from Seraphim’s otherwise-typical non-apology apology is the claim that some of his best friends are Jewish. (If that had been included, I would not for one moment believe it to be true.)

At any rate, the idea that Jews are somehow the tools of Satan, working with him against Christians and God’s righteous Church, is a complaint that goes back almost to the very beginning of Christianity. That it persists even now, in light of the horrors of World War II and the Third Reich — not to mention their willing accomplices in territories they occupied — shows how very hard it will be for Christianity to purge itself of the poison of anti-Semitism that runs in its metaphorical veins. Some Christians have disavowed the Metropolitan and his anti-Semitic comments, to be sure, but I’ll be interested in what his defenders may say, and how they say it. My guess is that they will adopt the same sort of tactic he did … i.e. to say that he was misunderstood, or “taken out of context,” or that it’s just Zionism he dislikes and not Jews as a whole, etc.

Photo credit: Orthodoxwiki.

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X-ray jesusThe week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is typically a slow news week. Lots of people are on vacation, including politicians and other notable figures, leaving journalists looking for fluff and nonsense to fill print space and/or airtime. An example of this phenomenon is this non-story about Jesus being seen in an x-ray, dutifully reported by WXIN-TV in Indianapolis (WebCite cached article):

A holiday miracle here in central Indiana is bringing hope to one family. An Elwood woman is battling cancer by keeping Jesus close to her heart, literally.

She has the x-rays to prove it. …

On December 12th, [Karen] Sigler was sick in the hospital with pnemonia [sic]. She says Jesus made himself clear right on her x-ray, “My faith just got a little stronger since I seen that Jesus was sitting on my heart and that he’s there and you can see him. He’s there.”

The problem, of course, is that there’s absolutely no recognizable figure in this X-ray:

A putative X-ray containing a figure of Jesus, courtesy of WXIN-TV

A putative X-ray containing a figure of Jesus, courtesy of WXIN-TV

If you can see Jesus — or anything else — in this X-ray, let me know … ’cause I just don’t see it.

Ordinarily I’d call this story a case of pareidolia, or seeing something definite in an otherwise amorphous shape … but in this case I can’t, because there is nothing here to be seen.

Yet another example of a journalism FAIL — and doubly so, since “pneumonia” is misspelled in the story! Enough already with the dreadful lazy journalism, OK? (Yes, any reporters who may be reading this … I’m talking to YOU. Just fucking stop it with the insipid tripe!)

Photo credit: hfb.

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Muhammad cartoon from Jyllands-PostenIt’s been over 5 years since the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published some cartoons of Muhammad. But that doesn’t appear to have been long enough for the world’s Muslims to get over it. Agence France-Presse reports (via Google News) that a planned “imminent assault” on that paper’s offices, by angry Muslims, was narrowly averted (WebCite cached article):

Scandinavian intelligence agencies on Wednesday said they had foiled a “Mumbai-style” plot by Islamic extremists to massacre staff at a Danish newspaper which published caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed.

Denmark’s PET intelligence service said five suspects had been arrested, preventing an imminent assault on the Copenhagen offices of the Jyllands-Posten daily in which as many staff as possible would have been killed.

Four men were arrested in Denmark while a spokeswoman for Swedish intelligence agency Saepo said a fifth was arrested in Sweden in connection with the same international plot.

“It is our sense based on intelligence that this is a militant Islamic group with links to international terrorist networks,” PET head Jakob Scharf told reporters.

They were planning an attack “within the next few days”, the agency said in a statement.

I continue Muhammad cartoon from Jyllands-Postenmy policy of displaying a couple of these cartoons, each time Muslims call attention to them, thus proving they can’t make the world forget about them by flying into rages over them. (Time for them to figure out the Streisand effect.)

Can there be any more doubt about how murderously childish religionists can be?

Photo credit (both): Assyrian International News Agency.

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Bundesarchiv Bild 102-06851, Mailand, Parade italienischer FrontkämpferBill Donohue, the Christofascist who heads the Catholic League, reached a new high in low, during an appearance on Fox News, wherein he made his position on Christmas — and on what everyone should believe, generally — crystal clear. News Hounds reports that what he said, is that non-Christians need to convert to Catholicism and worship Christmas along with him (WebCite cached article). He began with some remarks about reports that Christmas trees make some non-Christians uncomfortable:

Bill’s verbal pugilism escalated with “tell them to get over it.” He then did a litany of those who are “excluded,” including “mothers who feel excluded from father’s day” (WTF!) and said “too bad.”

What the fuck, indeed! I had no idea that any mothers felt “excluded” from Father’s Day. Where did the Billster pull that from?

Bill claimed that his Jewish friends (imaginary?) say this is ridiculous and that “everybody celebrates Christmas.”

Aha. The old “some of my best friends are Jewish” thing. Sorry Bill, but that you happen to know a few Jews who celebrate Christmas, tells us absofuckinglutely nothing about Jews as a group, or even about non-Christians generally. My guess, Bill, is that any Jewish friends you may have, are telling you what you want to hear because they know what a ferocious Christofascist you are. (That’s assuming you really have any Jewish “friends,” Bill … I find that claim to be non-credible.)

He then brayed that if people are made uncomfortable by Christmas displays — are ya ready for it — they should “convert to Catholicism.”

Yes, folks, that’s the Billster’s solution to the problem of religious inclusiveness … everyone should just convert en masse to his own religion, Roman Catholicism, and — voilà! — problem gone.

That, Gentle Reader, is the very definition of a religious militant, and now you see why I’ve been saying that the Billster is a Christofascist.

The really sad part about this is that a lot of religious folks are going to read what the Billster said, and agree with him, that everyone converting to the same religion would solve the problem of religious division. What all of Bill’s believer/defenders fail to understand is the truly hideous nature of this idea. Its horror would become clearer, if put in the mouths of others. They wouldn’t be too keen, for example, on al-Qaeda terrorists saying to them, “If you want us to stop trying to blow you up by the dozen, all you have to do is convert to our Wahhabi Islamism.” Its criminality becomes even more obvious if one puts it in the mouth of a robber: “All you need do is give me all your money, and I won’t be forced to attack you.”

At any rate, I have to wonder, though, how many of the Billster’s allies among the rest of the Religious Right — which is overwhelmingly evangelical Protestant and therefore opposed to Catholicism — are going to take his demand that everyone convert to Catholicism. My guess is that they secretly cringed when they heard that … but in the interest of militant-Christian solidarity against non-Christians, they likely would never openly admit it.

I hope any doubts as to the religiofascist goals of people like Bill Donohue have been dispelled. Now you understand why they make such an issue out of Christmas every year … for them, it’s a wedge issue they can use to push their demand that everyone in the world believe what they do.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Christmas goose (Weihnachtsgans) 1In a twist on the usual “other people won’t celebrate my religion the way I demand they do!” Religious Right whine, one fundamentalist activist has gone on a hunger strike. Over Christmas. That’s right … he thinks this will convince people to convert to his fundamentalist religionism and otherwise do what he wants them to.

No, I don’t get it either, but hey, you can’t just expect a militant religionist to make any sense, can you? The New Haven (CT) Register reports on this juvenile, sanctimonious publicity stunt (WebCite cached article):

Many Christians complain at this time of year when store clerks and others wish them “Happy holidays!” instead of “Merry Christmas!” — but Ned Coll may be the only one willing to go on a bread-and-water fast for the cause.

Coll, an activist who first gained notoriety for his efforts to open the state’s beaches to the public, has for 20 years been on a more religious quest, calling people to follow Jesus.

“Now the purpose of the fast … is basically to get people to focus on Christmas as the focal point of human history, the birth of Christ, and to say ‘Merry Christmas’ and to focus on it in every possible way during Christmastime,” Coll said during a visit to the Register Wednesday.

Pretty much most of what Coll has to say echoes what other paranoid Christofascists usually say about Christmas:

“I think ‘happy holidays’ is a creation of Madison Avenue,” Coll, 70, says of the non-religious greeting, which is scorned by conservative commentator Bill O’Reilly and others. “I think that’s the whole push, to get people to buy stuff for New Year’s, buying stuff for Hanukkah, buying stuff for Christmas.”

In the past, “The standard thing for people to say was ‘merry Christmas and happy new year,’ and that’s been completely eliminated as much as possible by Madison Avenue.”

Aha. So, Mr Coll, the early 1940s song “Happy Holiday” was not written by Irving Berlin in the 1940s, but rather in the age of “political correctness” by “Madison Avenue” … whoever that is. Got it. I don’t agree — and the facts say something very different — but by all means, Mr Coll, do not let them get in the way of your hyperpious, crybaby antics.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Jesus Facepalm: He gave up too so please stop this foolishness… if their lives are threatened by pregnancy complications. That’s right: Roman Catholic doctrine holds that pregnant women’s lives are forfeit. Proof of this insane doctrine comes in the form of an Arizona hospital losing its affiliation with the Church because it chose to save the life of a mother. The Houston Chronicle reports on this travesty (WebCitation cached article):

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix stripped a major hospital of its affiliation with the church Tuesday because of a surgery that ended a woman’s pregnancy to save her life. …

“In the decision to abort, the equal dignity of mother and her baby were not both upheld,” [Phoenix bishop Thomas] Olmsted said at a news conference announcing the decision. “The mother had a disease that needed to be treated. But instead of treating the disease, St. Joseph’s medical staff and ethics committee decided that the healthy, 11-week-old baby should be directly killed.”

Unfortunately, the hospital staff didn’t really have this choice. They had no time. The mother was fading fast. For what it’s worth, the hospital is not apologetic about this, and even in spite of this institutional excommunication, they’re standing by what they did:

Linda Hunt, president of St. Joseph’s, said doctors performed a necessary procedure on a patient who was getting worse by the minute and was in imminent danger of death.

“If we are presented with a situation in which a pregnancy threatens a woman’s life, our first priority is to save both patients. If that is not possible, we will always save the life we can save, and that is what we did in this case,” Hunt said. “Morally, ethically, and legally, we simply cannot stand by and let someone die whose life we might be able to save.”

Hospital management considered the bishop’s demands extreme and would not give in:

Dr. Charles Alfano, chief medical officer at the hospital and an obstetrician there, said Olmsted was asking the impossible from the hospital.

“Specifically the fact that [Bishop Olmsted] requested we admit the procedure performed was an abortion and that it was a violation of the ethical and religious directives and that we would not perform such a procedure in the future,” he said. “We could not agree to that. We acted appropriately.”

The reason the bishop was so incensed about what St Joseph’s did? It was the “scandal” produced by it:

“They have not addressed in an adequate manner the scandal caused by the abortion,” [Olmsted] said.

That’s right, folks. The bishop didn’t cut off the hospital over the abortion per se, but over the “scandal” it produced.

Well, Bishop, may I suggest you’ve already got your hands full of one major multinational scandal already … you might consider resolving that in a candid, upright, and moral manner — before demanding any other scandal be dealt with.

And this is a lesson to any expecting mothers out there … beware of being treated in a Catholic hospital, should you have any problems before birth. Not all of them will be like St Joseph’s and fight the Church to save your life.

Photo credit: Demotivators.

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