Kevin Andrews suddenly learns that everyone else knows Catch The Fire are batshit #auspol

Minister for Putting Single Mums in Their Bloody Place Kevin Andrews, among other Team Australians, has recently learned that the people of Australia don’t particularly like that the “World Congress of Families” is run by well-known slavering extremist anti-choice homophobic bigots Catch The Fire Ministries and has decided not to open their adorable little Hatesturbate For Jesus for them after all.

Catch The Fire Ministries, whose head douche Danny Nalliah infamously linked Victoria’s Black Saturday bushfires to that state’s abortion laws (and will now have to find other high-profile fundamentalist scenery-chewers to mix the green cordial [red is SINFUL!] and run the games of “pin Satan’s pitchfork on the eternally burning lesbortionist,”) have since thrown K-Drews under the bus for being a sad wuss. Because how dare any public official in a secular democracy respond to public outcry over lending explicit government support to a pack of fringe-dwelling cultists whose lunacy is only exceeded by their self-importance.

I suspect that, much like a pair of cling-wrap Y-fronts, this is a transparent arse-covering on the part of Kev and his fellow Tory wingnuts, Eric “I Am The Politican Every Sketch Show Bases Their Politicians On” Abetz and Cory “Looky, I Wrote A Book Just Like God Did” Bernardi, who would surely have gone along had the public not had something of a issue with members of our government explicitly validating the dark-ages lunacy of extremist evangelist hooligans.

Not Catch The Fire but close efuckingnough, amirite?


School Chaplains: why can’t you lot just stick to the pulpit #auspol

It appears the Abbott government still wants to exclude secular workers from the School Chaplaincy program, despite widespread opposition and two High Court challenges.

Religious people have numerous avenues available if they wish to seek spiritual guidance for themselves or their children; this constant push by some of them to have exclusive access to other peoples’ children while in school is distasteful and extremely presumptuous (and possibly even un-Constitutional – while Section 116 has historically not been applied to state funding of religious schools, implementing exclusively religious programs such as this in state schools might be a different basket of loaves and fishes. While the Abbott regime might be able to use the general term “religious” to escape being accused of favouring of one faith over another, the very term “chaplain” has an exclusively Christian origin and I doubt very strongly that we’ll see a great many imams, rabbis or whatever those used-god salesmen-for-Xenu call themselves counselling state school students).  

Apart from the blatant discrimination involved in barring secular counselors from consideration, kids with serious problems (or even mild ones) don’t need Divinity lessons, they need trained professionals. Religious exceptionalism of this sort is highly likely to expose vulnerable children to inappropriate proselytising and unhelpful advice – when compared to the likelihood of a properly trained secular counselor attempting to proselytise their philosophy, it’s practically a stone-carved certainty.

If a counselor is appropriately qualified and experienced they should be hired; their religious status, just like their age, marital status and orientation, should be irrelevant to their practice. It’s not legal for the Commonwealth to refuse employment in any other area of operation on religious grounds; how such a proscription wouldn’t apply to state school counselors escapes me. This appears to be yet another example of a government operating by ideology and working off a checklist, with pragmatism, fairness and perhaps even legality being secondary concerns.

Evangelising students in school is not only preying on an audience that’s legally compelled to be there, it’s also based on the offensive and arrogant presumption that the evangelists have the right (God-given, of course) to undermine whatever religious traditions those kids’ families may already observe in their own homes or places of worship or whatever non-religious philosophies they may subscribe to.

Not only that, but those churches that evangelise more often than not subscribe to fringe conservative and flat-out fundamentalist interpretations of Scripture which have absolutely no place in our public schools, where there frequently is a plurality of ethnicity and culture.

I’m sure we can all imagine the outcry from decent Christian folk if Islamists or JW’s or Mormons were given privileged access to state school students (even if ostensibly to use their powers for good and explicitly not for the purposes of conversion attempts); it’s much better for all concerned (chiefly the kids who’ll need professional advice and support) if preachers (or preachers-by-other-names) stay in the pulpit.

It Came From The 80s – The Flamer’s Bible!

Anyone who’s been anywhere near the atheoskeptoblogosphere in the last two years might well have noticed an undercurrent (or over-current) of hate-speech, flaming, obsessive trolling, twit-stalking and general petulant shit-slinging – especially if the target is a feminist blogger. But it’s nothing new – online communication has been around for ages; as such, the anonymity inherent in it has always provided cover for keyboard warriors to dispatch rhetorical missiles and toxic word-sludge across the globe, the nation or just the building – all with no social consequences.

Without further ado, from some time in 1987, I present a selection of tips for being an Internet Tough Guy:

The twelve commandments of flaming

  •     Make things up about your opponent: It’s important to make your lies sound true. Preface your argument with the word “clearly.” “Clearly, Fred Flooney is a liar, and a dirtball to boot.”


This might be familiar. How about: “She’s a misandrist! She’s a Feminazi! She hates men! It was only an invitation to coffee at 4am! She’s frigid!”

  •     Cross-post your flames: Everyone on the net is just waiting for the next literary masterpiece to leave your terminal. From rec.arts.wobegon to alt.gourmand, they’re all holding their breaths until your next flame. Therefore, post everywhere.


This one’s never been so important to the career troll: you can’t expect every one of your hate-chorus to just be reading your blog, so to increase your back-pats & pingbacks & likes you need to facebook, tweet, instafreakingram, blog, re-blog and link to everything in whatever dark, mouldy corner of the ‘net where there are no standards of behaviour when it comes to Approved Enemies.

  •     Conspiracies abound: If everyone’s against you, the reason can’t possibly be that you’re a fuckhead. There’s obviously a conspiracy against you, and you will be doing the entire net a favor by exposing it.


This is now known as the Galileo Gambit: They made fun of Galileo, and he was right.
They make fun of me, therefore I am right. However, the counter to this comes from Robert Park: It is not enough to wear the mantle of Galileo: that you be persecuted by an unkind establishment. You must also be right.

  •     Use foreign phrases: French is good, but Latin is the lingua franca of flaming. You should use the words “ad hominem” at least three times per article. Other favorite Latin phrases are “ad nauseum,” “vini, vidi, vici,” and “fetuccini alfredo.”


Accusations of ad hominem abound on the internet – usually as soon as someone gets insulted for acting like a douche. However, a true ad hominem is dimissive of an argument based on who’s making the argument, i.e. “You’re a douche therefore your argument is wrong.” Much of the time you hear an a.h. invoked, it is done so in response to a simple insult, e.g. “You’re a douche and your argument is wrong.” To avoid confusion, please be sure to dismiss someone’s argument on its own lack of merit and then call them a douche.

  •     Accuse your opponent of censorship. It is your right as an American citizen to post whatever the hell you want to the net (as guaranteed by the 37th Amendment, I think). Anyone who tries to limit your cross-posting or move a flame war to email is either a communist, a fascist, or both.


FREEZE PEACH! “Because the country I live in has granted me the right to say anything I want (of course there aren’t caveats – I can walk onto the White House lawn and threaten to stab Barry O because FREEZE PEACH is absolute!), it therefore follows that I get to follow you around the internet and regurgi-hate on every single one of your online properties. The fact that you own your twitter account, facebook, youtube account or blog doesn’t give you the right to decided who gets to talk to you! StasiNazi #bullies baawww!”

Um, yeah it does. A website/media account, as far as you’re concerned, is someone’s property as much as their doorstep or the counter of their store – if you don’t like when they shut the door in your face, try modifying (or at least paying attention to) what comes out of your face.

Go and read the rest – you’ve probably seen all of them in the last week.

Hooray for Christian spam.

We get email!

I present, in all its ghastly-fonted (it was actually 12 point Comic Sans MS but Blogger doesn’t seem to have it available – lucky you), horribly-formatted, grammar-challenged, big red glory a Godspam that arrived in my work inbox today. Not my personal inbox, the enquiries inbox that I’m chained to this month (this particular Christian wasn’t all that discerning with their mailing list, were they?):

I’m very, very tempted to reply as a representative of my employer and say it was sent to nobody because we’re an avowedly secular, neutral, humanitarian organisation and as such have no goddam interest in sharing some random idiot’s religious chain-spam. Instead, I’ll go through it in detail because it’s a slow day.


> Read only if you have time for God.

> Let me tell you, make sure you read all the way to the bottom. I almost

> deleted this email but I was blessed when I got to the end



> God, when I received this e-mail, I thought…


> I don’t have time for this… And, this is really inappropriate during

> work.



> Then, I realized that this kind of thinking is… Exactly, what has caused

> lot of the problems in our world today.


> We try to keep God in church on Sunday morning…


> Maybe, Sunday night…

> And, the unlikely event of a midweek service.

> We do like to have Him around during sickness…



> And, of course, at funerals.


> However, we don’t have time, or room, for Him during work or play…



> Because.. That’s the part of our lives we think… We can, and should,

> handle on our own.


> May God forgive me for ever thinking…

> That… there is a time or place where..


> HE is not to be FIRST in my life.




> We should always have time to remember all HE has done for us.




> If, You aren’t ashamed to do this…



> Please follow the directions.


> Jesus said, “If you are ashamed of me, I will be ashamed of you before my

> Father.”


> Not ashamed?



> Pass this on ONLY IF YOU MEAN IT!!


> Yes, I do Love God.


> HE is my source of existence and Savior.



> He keeps me functioning each and every day. Without Him, I will be nothing.

> But, with Christ, HE strengthens me. (Phil 4:13)






> This is the simplest test.


> If You Love God… And, are not ashamed of all the marvelous things HE has

> done for you…


> Send this to ten people and the person who sent it to you!


> Now do you have the time to pass it on?


> Make sure that you scroll through to the end.


> Easy vs. Hard


> Why is it so hard to tell the truth but Yet so easy to tell a lie?


> Why are we so sleepy in church but Right when the sermon is over we

> suddenly wake up?


> Why is it so easy to delete a Godly e-mail, but yet we forward all of the

> nasty ones?


> Of all the free gifts we may receive, Prayer is the very best one….


> There are no costs, but wonderful rewards… GOD BLESS!


> Notes: Isn’t it funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then

> wonder why the world’s going to hell.


> Isn’t it funny how someone can say “I believe in God” but still follow

> Satan (who, by the way, also “believes” in God).


> Isn’t it funny how you can send a thousand jokes through e-mail and they

> spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the

> Lord, people think twice about sharing?


> Isn’t it funny how when you go to forward this message, you will not send

> it to many on your address list because you’re not sure what they believe,

> or what they will think of you for sending it to them.

> Isn’t it funny how I can be more worried about what other people think of

> me than what God thinks of me.


> I pray, for everyone who sends this to their entire address book, they will

> be blessed by God in a way special for them.

> And send it back to the person who sent it, to let them know that indeed it

> was sent out to many more.

Read only if you have time for God.

Not so much. But I have time to be a smartarse, so do proceed!

Let me tell you, make sure you read all the way to the bottom. I almost deleted this email but I was blessed when I got to the end

Did it feel all tingly when God blessed your bottom?

God, when I received this e-mail, I thought…I don’t have time for this… And, this is really inappropriate during work.

Well, yes. Yes it is. Gold star for you.

Then, I realized that this kind of thinking is… Exactly, what has caused lot of the problems in our world today.

OK … so NOT reading or forward spam during work is why the world is going to hell? I would’ve thought it had something to do with normal human propensity to act like fuckwits. Oh, and fucking awful syntax.

We try to keep God in church on Sunday morning…Maybe, Sunday night…

Well, I’m told that is when & where he belongs – certainly not in my sodding work email.

And, the unlikely event of a midweek service.

Very unlikely – even Christians like watching LOST.

We do like to have Him around during sickness…

If I’m sick and “Him” is the only person around, I’m going to ask for better insurance … or less morphine.

And, of course, at funerals.

If “He” was around during the sickness part, why is there a funeral happening? FAIL.

However, we don’t have time, or room, for Him during work or play…

Yes, because presumably God’s not a fucking Mars Bar.

Because.. That’s the part of our lives we think… We can, and should, handle on our own.

If you got up off your knees, unclasped your hands and then did something with them, you’d be surprised what you could handle.

May God forgive me for ever thinking… That… there is a time or place where..HE is not to be FIRST in my life.

My lady comes first. Every time. May I be forgiven if I ever forget THAT. Note: your priorities smell like arse.

We should always have time to remember all HE has done for us.

“Done TO us and constantly threatens to continue to do to us” would be more accurate – I’ve read your horrid little books, you know. Besides, for the all-powerful creator of the universe, dictating some confused, retarded books to some confused, retarded shepherds and perhaps popping once or twice doesn’t amount to much.

If, You aren’t ashamed to do this…
Please follow the directions.
Jesus said, “If you are ashamed of me, I will be ashamed of you before my Father.”
Not ashamed?

No. I pity the fool whose god commands him to be ashamed for not spamming his entire fucking address book with religious guilt-trips.

Pass this on ONLY IF YOU MEAN IT!!

CAPS LOCK – are you ready to unleash the MEANING?

Yes, I do Love God.

Good for you. I love Batman, but you don’t see me telling everyone in my address book in big fugly letters. They’d think I was a little unhinged. Or a dick.

HE is my source of existence and Savior.

As is Batman.

He keeps me functioning each and every day. Without Him, I will be nothing.

Not that squishy grey thing in your skull or that thumpy red thing in your chest – or those other squishy things? Nobody better make you question your faith, then – you might vanish in a puff of logic.

But, with Christ, HE strengthens me. (Phil 4:13)

This is the simplest test.

Sounds like it’d be perfect for you. Proceed.

If You Love God… And, are not ashamed of all the marvelous things HE has done for you…

“After all I’ve done for you! I could be DEAD on a CROSS and you wouldn’t even shed a tear!” Again with the shame and guilt. You guys have a real boner for inflicting these things on yourselves other people don’t you?

Send this to ten people and the person who sent it to you!

I’m happy to return it to you but if I sent it ten other people, I would expect to receive ten kicks to each ball.

Now do you have the time to pass it on?

No. But as I said, plenty of time to be a smartarse.

Make sure that you scroll through to the end.

I quiver with anticip … pation.

Easy vs. Hard

Ooooh, I love multiple choice.

Why is it so hard to tell the truth but Yet so easy to tell a lie?

Is that rhetorical? Why is “Yet” capitalised? What is it with this dodgy Christian syntax?

Why are we so sleepy in church but Right when the sermon is over we suddenly wake up?

Because getting up on Sunday morning is … Jesus, do I have to explain this? And again with the random capitals!

hy is it so easy to delete a Godly e-mail, but yet we forward all of the nasty ones?

Is that rhetorical? What would you do if some atheist sent a big red spam about evolution to you?

Of all the free gifts we may receive, Prayer is the very best one….
There are no costs, but wonderful rewards… GOD BLESS!

Costs include chafed knees and wasted time, rewards include … thinking you’ve helped without actually expending any fucking effort?


 Oh, sweet frolicking Christ, he has notes.

Isn’t it funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world’s going to hell.

I find it funnier how people like you thank God for all the amazingly good shit but blame rejection of God for all the shitty shit instead of blaming God himself, as if to say God’s punishing us for not finding conflicting, brutal stories of his awesomeness & love convincing. Then again, that’s not actually funny. It’s really quite vindicitve, especially considering that if he’s there he presumably has the power to give everyone the same version of the story. Hello, three Abrahamic faiths at each other’s throats? Hello, thirty fucking thousand denominations of Christianity?

Isn’t it funny how someone can say “I believe in God” but still follow Satan (who, by the way, also “believes” in God).

First: to believe in Satan – God’s adversary – it is necessary to believe in God. You can’t have the Joker without Batman and it would be ridiculous to suggest the reverse. Do you even read shit before you send it?

Second: it would be equally odd if Satan himself didn’t believe in God, considering that in your universe, God created the little red motherfucker. What’s your point?

Isn’t it funny how you can send a thousand jokes through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t send ‘thousands’ of email jokes because I know fucking annoying it is to receive them. Oh, and people think twice about sharing Jeebusmails because, well, most intelligent religious people understand that not everyone loves Jeebus like they do and realise that Godspam is as fucking annoying as lists of why women are better than men at having vaginas.

Isn’t it funny how when you go to forward this message, you will not send it to many on your address list because you’re not sure what they believe, or what they will think of you for sending it to them.

SEE PREVIOUS POINT. Again, most intelligent people are respectful of the fact that not everyone in their address book is a fucking clone.

Isn’t it funny how I can be more worried about what other people think of me than what God thinks of me.

Obvious point is obvious: questions of God’s existence aside, other people definitely do exist and are able to tell you when you’re being a spam-loving cockwit or simply throw bricks at you, so you should care what they think.

I pray, for everyone who sends this to their entire address book, they will be blessed by God in a way special for them.

If I sent this to everyone in my address book, I would pray that I didn’t get punched in the back of the fucking head the next time I saw any of those people in the flesh.

And send it back to the person who sent it, to let them know that indeed it was sent out to many more.

If you only know what I would like to send you. Considering I know where you live, the possibilities for mischief are endless. How about spam from my employer about everything, ever? However, I reckon getting you on the Mormon/Jehovo hitlist would be considerably more ghastly than signing you up for a bunch of sub/dom/hairy man pr0n. Upon further reflection, I might do both.

I mean, if you’re too stupid to check who you’re sending your spam to, perhaps you deserve some instant karma. I’m not sure if I’m going to do any of this yet … Golden Rule and all that. Then again, the sender of this barely coherent tripe didn’t think about “do unto others” before clicking “send to everyone that’s ever sent me an email”. But then, perhaps he likes receiving spam and expects to receive some in return, in which case I’ll be doing my duty and fulfilling the requirements of the Golden Rule by ensuring that he does indeed have done unto him what he hath done unto others (i.e. me). According to some theological viewpoints I would be fulfilling the Lord’s wishes, doing God’s work – being an agent of Light! In fact, by making sure this guy gets a megaton of mail, I would practically be an angel.

How’s that for justifying evil with faith? I could so totally be a theologian.
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[edit: reduced the font size of the red bit. Seems either Blogger or whatever powers the Planet Atheism aggregator forgot to include the jump break that I goddam well included in order to PREVENT the entire fracking post appearing on PA, which it did, where it took up half the fracking page, which was shithouse]var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker(“UA-5094406-1”); pageTracker._initData(); pageTracker._trackPageview();

Kindle = Nazis?

Apparently, to some, they are. Or, maybe to just one particularly unhinged, paranoid writer.

Read this improbably hysterical screed by Alan Kaufman (writing at the Huffington Post, which goes some way to explain why this ridiculous piece was published in the first place) in its entirety if you dare, or just read the following bits:

When I hear the term Kindle I think not of imaginations fired but of crematoria lit.

… and we’re off to a cracking start. If an electronic book-reader immediately brings to mind the greatest crime against humanity since the Inquisition, I’m not sure we can expect a great deal of sober, rational discourse either about technology or Nazis. Good lord, what this chap must think of iPods, netbooks … what fevered nightmares and night-terrors must this man have suffered when SMS arrived and people stopped talking to each other? But persist we must – I could, after all, be wrong.

And when I hear the term “hi-tech” I think not of helpful androids efficiently performing household chores or light-speed rockets gliding seamlessly through space but of the fact that between 1933-45, modern technology was used to perform in ever more efficient ways the mass murder of six million of my people. The instruments of so-called progress, placed in the hands of the modern state, disappeared six million Jewish men, women and children, into a void from which they will never return and in which a majority of them remain forever unidentified. This was done in the name of progress by means of technology for the creation of a better world.

Well, I guess there’s the difference between Kaufman and I. When I hear the words “hi-tech” I don’t automatically think of the industrialised slaughter of six million Jews. Such things usually come to mind only when I hear words like “Nazi” or “Holocaust” or “Auschwitz”.

If Hitler had been around in the days of the Inquisition, I’m quite sure he would have used whatever technology was available to achieve his ends (one can only shudder thinking about how high the body count & extreme the brutality of the Inquisition itself would have become if the Papacy had had access to automatic weapons, twisted eugenicists & gas chambers). Kaufman’s point is what, exactly – that technology needs to carry as much blame as the ideas and actions of the men who employ it? As I and many others have said before, a chisel can be used to carve David or stab someone in the head. Noone but a complete fool would blame the chisel. Pressing on …

The Nazis often were, by their own lights, well-intentioned idealists working for a better tomorrow. And their instrument was modern technology, aspects of philosophical and aesthetic modernism and the old religious concept of supercession implicit in the Christian notion of progress. Jews were outmoded, useless, they said. Most high level Nazis, like Himmler or Heydrich or Eichmann, did not feel visceral hatred towards the Jew. Rather, they looked upon them coldly as something that simply needed to disappear so that the new life could get on its way. And the means by which they sought to do so was first through a propaganda campaign that portrayed Jews, in Wagnerian terms, as a drag on the visionary energies and bursting vigor of the new Aryan man, and then by the implementation of this decision to eliminate Jews through ever more sophisticated state corporate and scientific technological means. And yet, during the war crime trials at Nuremberg, while Nazi Jurisprudence was tried and hanged, Nazi technological attitudes were not put on trial.

The victorious Allies did not mandate that technology, which had been turned to such murderous ends, must pass an ethical standard review from an international body, like a UN of technology. No such body of decision came about. To the contrary, even while the war crime trials of Nazi chieftains were in session, American and Soviet governments were recruiting high-level Nazis to their intelligence services, military armaments industries, and space programs. So that, while in jurisprudence terms Nazi social and political values were delivered a blow, the Nazi fascination with technology merged seamlessly with that of their conquerors: us.

That is why today we drive Volkswagens, which were invented by Hitler …

I think I’ll end the quote there, not least because, as a historical nitpick, Hitler did not invent the bloody Volkswagen. He might’ve commissioned, demanded, even ranted and raved about needing a cheap reliable car for the masses, but I think Dr Ferdinand Porsche might want some of the credit for its actual production. I wonder if Kaufman sits there watching Herbie Goes Bananas with his children, explaining to their horrified faces that Herbie’s actually not a cheeky, fun-loving automobile; he’s a child-killing phantasm who runs on Zyklon-B.

Next, I wondered about his assertion that the Allies should have immediately set up a “UN of technology”. I stopped wondering immediately after I realised how ineffectual the current “UN of Politics” is at curbing the militarist aggression of nations such as the United States and North Korea. Has the IAEA – the closest thing we have to his UN of Technology – managed to stop nuclear proliferation? Considering India, the US, the UK, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and who knows who else have sufficient nuclear arms to vapourise all life on Earth, Kaufman’s combined 20/20 hindsight and naivete which led him to suggest a UN of Tech indicated he hasn’t thought about this very much. Neither did his sub-editor at the Huffington Post, if indeed he even had one (if you’re going to blame technology for anything, blame it for basically removing any form of quality control in publishing).

Additionally, I find interesting his line about the Nazi techno-love merging seamlessly with that of the Allied nations. Well, of course it did. During the war the entire world was discovering new and exciting technology and the war itself drove technological research into overdrive in all areas – not just those concerned with killing people en masse but in medicine, science, communication, transport and countless other areas. The Allies weren’t going to pass up appropriating anything useful the Germans had developed (including the German scientists themselves). The Nazi ideology and actions were on trial, not their technological prowess or every single innovation – they would have gone on trial had they carried out their Final Solution with sticks and rocks. Should the Allies have simply razed every product of German technological achievement to the ground, made them start from scratch and set all their scientists, engineers to work in the fields? Even if the case could be made that they should have done exactly that, there’s no reason to expect that they would have. The Allies’ technology and their own ranks of brilliant scientists had helped them deliver crucial blows to the Axis: Turing cracking the Enigma code, radar, Barnes Wallis’ ridiculously left-field but amazingly effective bouncing bomb and of course the A-bomb, which finally ended the war with Imperial Japan. There was no realistic chance that the victors of this hideous war were going to ignore what tools and methods the Nazis had created, regardless of the reasons for their creation. Indeed, they would have been foolish not to investigate any technological advance – Stalin’s USSR was making the Western Allies nervous even during its alliance against German fascism.

Kaufman then begins the end of his article with this:

Today’s hi-tech propagandists tell us that the book is a tree-murdering, space-devouring, inferior form that society would be better off without. In its place, they want us to carry around the Uber-Kindle.

Wait … what? Who are these propagandists? Where are they saying such things? Is there any actual data Kaufman can supply to back this up? Has he been to lately? Has he even been to a bookstore lately? I really hope he does.

The hi-tech campaign to relocate books to Google and replace books with Kindles is, in its essence, a deportation of the literary culture to a kind of easily monitored concentration camp of ideas, where every examination of a text leaves behind a trail, a record, so that curiosity is also tinged with a sense of disquieting fear that some day someone in authority will know that one had read a particular book or essay. This death of intellectual privacy was also a dream of the Nazis. And when I hear the term Kindle, I think not of imaginations fired but of crematoria lit.

Here, I must admit that Kaufman comes within shouting distance of a point. A point which, in isolation, is a good one and one worth discussing. Does the Kindle “report” everything you read? Should it? To whom does it report your reading habits? My response, of course, is “I don’t know exactly how a Kindle functions. Here’s a tip though: if you’re worried, don’t buy a Kindle. Real books are still being produced in their millions.” However, he took all essay to reach this point and unfortunately shits all over any relevance and currency it may have had by falsely conflating it with Nazism 2.0.

Now, let’s leave aside for a moment the blinding, white-hot irony of lamenting an apparently imminent book-holocaust by means of an electronic medium which itself has been blamed ad nauseam for the imminent newspaper-holocaust … or should we? There’s a 50% chance Kaufman’s using the internet with an IBM-compatible computer. Going by his deep knowledge of Nazi motives and methods, he should know that an IBM card-cataloguing system was used by the Nazis to keep the now famously detailed records of their victims. But even if he’s using an Apple, he’s using the internet, which is an offshoot of DARPANET, an initiative of the US Department of Defence designed to allow weapons systems developers and other DoD researchers to share ideas. The US Department of Defence itself has wrought unimaginable carnage using cutting-edge technology across the world since the end of WW2. Kaufman should, by his own standard, renounce any and all technology which has not only been associated with violence or war but has also replaced, or made more accessible, the written or spoken word. Straight to the trash should go his telephone (produced in Victorian Imperialist Britain), television (a by-product of WW2, & conceived by the victorious nations who firebombed civilian cities in Germany and Japan and obliterated Hiroshima and Nagasaki), his computer (especially if a non-Apple) and of course his internet connection. If Kaufman can’t hear “hi-tech” without thinking of Auschwitz, surely there’s no way he can visit without thinking of napalm & My Lai, or incendiary bombs and Dresden.

It’s one thing to lament what might be seen as the passing of the era of the book (though I’m sure’s sales department would beg to differ). Every new technology does, to an extent, have an impact on its predecessor: video killed the radio star; VHS killed drive-ins and Beta; DVD is throttling VHS; Blu-Ray nailed HDDVD before it even got off the ground & will be the death of DVD; internet TV-on-demand streaming through multi-function games consoles/data hubs will kill everything else and eventually we’ll all have chips in our heads. Or something. Every new technology also brings out of the woodwork its share of Chicken Littles and NIMBYs (“Not In My Back Yard”), lamenting the loss of the good old days and vowing not to succumb, to conform, to be one of the drones (until, of course, they post said laments on The Internet, the most revolutionary hi-tech communication tool ever developed). Having a grizzle about new tech replacing old tech is one thing (such screeds have been commonplace ever since the invention of the wireless), but to conjure up the grim spectre of Nazi book-burnings and the hells-on-earth of death camps in response to the inevitable digitising of the written word is beyond hyperbole and beyond utterly inapplicable. It’s odious. It’s horrific, completely disproportionate and cheapens the millions of lives destroyed by Nazism – and the tens of millions of lives sacrificed in the process of bringing Nazism to an end.

Again, Kaufman may well have been able to produce a decent discussion, were he to concentrate on the legitimate concerns of privacy which are inevitably part and parcel of any new technology, especially in the modern era where it seems every new product will eventually be connect via the internet to everything else. Unfortunately, he chose to focus on a completely inappropriate tangent about Nazism, create a strawman about the end of the paper book and somehow link that strawman back to Auschwitz. By acting so hysterically he either exemplifies Poe’s Law (which states that, without a smiley or obvious tip-off, any accurate satire of extremism, ignorance or fundamentalism will be indistinguishable from the real thing) or he actually is the real thing – hysterical and ignorant.


Postscript: Kaufman should probably contact his publisher. His book is available for das Uber-Kindle.


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On Church and State

I doubled the following at Dangerous Intersection a few days ago. Fuck knows why I follow American politics and society so closely but – forgive me, my fellow ‘strayans, – our shit is pretty dull. Don’t get me wrong though, that’s just fine – compared to one or two other free democratic countries, ours is usually run pretty decently (despite our many problems). For example, you don’t have to think twice about going to a hospital when you’re sick or hurt because you know Australia’s health care system will sort you out if you’re dirt poor. Also, you don’t have to worry about Christian whackjobs infiltrating the government and trying to have all our laws, sex ed classes, science classes and maybe even road rules based on the book of fucking Genesis. That brings me to the point of the post, so without further twattery:
In the USA today, there is a small but highly vocal (some would even say “strident”) movement dedicated to enshrining certain of their religious values in the laws and Constitution of their nation. Many of this movement proclaim that the Constitution and the laws of the United States are already this way; that the law of the land is based on Judeo-Christian principles and that separation of church and state is an illusion, never happened and even if it did happen was never intended by the founders of the nation and is some kind of liberal invention designed to make the US more vulnerable to suitcase bombs, atheist summer camps and movies about Charles Darwin which don’t paint him as the eugenicist spiritual father of Hitler.

This is, of course, in stark contrast to the reality of the situation: the Constitution makes no mention of God, Jesus or the Bible (except for a nameless “Creator”); the Constitution itself proclaims that “no religious test” shall ever be required for a citizen to hold public office and that Congress shall “make no law” either establishing a religion or restricting the right of a citizen to worship as they please (as atheists hadn’t been invented yet, noone thought to include “the right to not be religious”, but it’s assumed, probably safely, that freedom of religion means, or should mean, freedom from it as well). It is also well-recognised that the Founders were framing the establishment of the new nation to be a shiny, free, glorious example of the humanist, rational values of the Enlightenment, the new Age of Reason which was making its presence felt across Europe in the 18th century. Some scholars speculate (compellingly) that Constitution chief architect Thomas Jefferson and many of his ilk, far from being Christians of any flavour, were even deists – but I must point out that their religious beliefs are irrelevant to their democratic intent and rationalist stance, which I suspect was meant to be the whole point.
Many dominionists in the US have argued against this alleged separation, pointing to the “One Nation under God” line in the Pledge of Obedience Allegiance. Leaving aside the odd ritual of swearing fealty to a flag, that little line used to read “One nation, indivisible,” until religious pressure forced the addition of the “under God” bit. How about “In God We Trust”, which appears on US currency? That was added in the 1950s during McCarthyist hysteria as a counter to alleged “godless” communism (a political hysteria peculiar to the US which persists no less strongly today, as evidenced by the bizarre behaviour of the tea-baggers, birthers, deathers and other assorted pithy signwriters who, in textbook Pavlovian manner, protest anything President Obama does, be it being black or making a harmlessly dull “kids, do your homework” speech on TV and who refuse to nail down exactly which particular political evil – fascism, socialism, communism, anarcho–syndicalism – Barry O allegedly wishes to impose on them by trying to make sure they can see a doctor without selling a kidney first, the heartless bastard).
Many more of these “God-first, species second” types wish to insert religion and religiously-based reasoning (yes, yes, I know an oxymoron when I see it) into all facets of American public life in violation of the First Amendment, be it a massive stone Ten Commandments in front of a court house; teaching the alleged controversy between evolution and Genesis in science classes at school (the only controversy is that this laughable garbage even manages to gain traction in a first-world country); hiring creationist dentists with agendas onto the boards of highly influential school-boards, curriculum boards, textbook selection boards and the like in order to ease the passage of the Bible into science classes; making (or keeping) gay marriage & abortion illegal; foisting upon uncontrollably horny teenagers the old “just say no and don’t even talk about it” policy in regard to sexual congress with each other’s nubile & newly interesting bodies (which worked a charm for that Palin girl, might I add in a fit of strident pique). In myriad other ways, the Jesus-for-President lobby are doing their darnedest to make sure that Christianity becomes (or stays, according to the fantasies of some) the bedrock of US law, education, society & family that they think it should be (or is), regardless of whether anyone else, Christian or otherwise, wants it that way and regardless of whether it’s actually legal. Or realistic. Or not pointless and silly.
Anyway, here’s the main problem when theocrats achieve their wet dream and meld Church and State: it’s difficult to keep one church in power. The particular church running the state might not stay the same (as can happen, as with Henry VIII’s England, or in a modern democracy – or at least in a republic which holds elections to choose between two parties whose main difference seems to lie in their ability to aim lower than their opponent in terms of discourse or think up the best rhyming nicknames for their opponents).
It doesn’t even have to come down to a Christian vs non-Christian clash: there are that many divisions between various flavours of Christianity (more than Baskin & Robbins and Ben & Jerry’s combined at last count) that the other religions would be lucky to even get Nader-like numbers. If the Evangelicals get their wish and people with the mental acuity and religious fervour of Sarah “The Alaskan Quitbull” Palin (oops, there’s one of those nicknames) end up running the show in 2020 according to their own religious mores (I wonder who she would appoint as “Witchcraft Czar”?) but then are de-elected, compulsory rifle-ownership and all, by Bill Donohue’s Yes We’re Incredibly Paranoid But Only Because Everyone’s Persecuting Us Catholic League, there may be some problems. If Bill’s Vatican-do’ers start pushing for compulsory Congressional confessionals to be televised in the name of governmental transparency or, more likely, make communion wafer desecration a capital offence and paedophilia a misdemeanour with a maximum one-off penalty of $50, payable as a donation to the Catholic League (subsequent offences to carry a number of Hail Marys equal to the age of the “victim”), there could literally be blood in the streets if the WASPs arm up against the Whore of Rome. But what if the Westboro Baptists’ Kill Fags Now! Coalition comes to power and exterminates the WASPs? Anybody caught not publicly hating homosexuals or displaying hideous fluorescent signs on their lawns might end up being forced to protest solo in San Fran’s Castro district on Harvey Milk Day (It must be said I’d love the irony of protesting homosexuality using a gaily-coloured rainbow sign).
Or – good lord – what if one of those other religions managed to get into power and kicked the Christians out entirely? Would the Incredibly Orthodox? Do I Look Like I’m Kidding? Jewish Party enforce Torah rules – forbidding people from travelling except by foot over the Sabbath and banning electricity between those times? What of NASCAR? Illegal drag races for teens? World of Warcraft raids? Internet filth? TiVo? You can bet your size 94 track pants some people would have a problem with sitting in the dark, knowing people in stinkin’ Old Europe were playing XBbox Live and taunting each other without some Americans around to scream at them to speak freakin’ English. And don’t even mention the possibility of The Hell Yes We’re Muslims And Hell Yes You’re Screwed, Infidel Party gaining some traction, then it’d be prayers five times a day, no booze, halal food only and the entire porn/modeling/beauty pageant industry would have to assimilate the burqa (and thus become pointless) or go underground! And – dear god, no – both of those parties would ban pork in a laboured heartbeat! Mark my words, without the right to barbecue baby back ribs there would be a revolution orders of magnitude bloodier than the one currently being masturbated over by the revolution-fetishist Nobamas, until half the participants collapsed, gasping, red-faced, clutching at their chests and glad they didn’t vote against a commie healthcare system (better dead at 40 years and 40 stone than Red!), firing one last shot into the air in a thin hope that it’ll hit an imam when it comes back down.
Well, there is a solution to this theo-democratic dilemma and I can sum it up thus: you can’t please all the people all the time so imprison, beat, subjugate and otherwise crush the shit out of anyone who’s against you – even before they realize they’re against you, if you can (that takes some imagination and serious paranoia but it’s doable – Iran and the Saudis rock at it). In a nutshell, you must follow the example of theocracies both current and former. The little pretend country known as “The Country Formerly Known As The Roman Empire Until We Discovered Lying About Jesus Was Cheaper Than War” basically ran the combined nations of Europe as a theocracy for a thousand years – launching or supporting Crusades, Inquisitions & witchhunts, threatening, bribing, torturing, controlling monarchies, confiscating property, roasting feet, charging loads of cash for particular prayers and many other cheap but highly lucrative tricks, all to maintain strict obedience to dogma. When the time for red-hot poker-insertion & non-guitar-related iron maidens was over, they switched to missionary work, evangelism, exorcisms and controlling the education systems of entire countries to ensure unfettered access to the young & easily manipulated (yes, access to their minds was also high on the list). What the Vatican achieved, in terms of obscene wealth and sheer number of guilt-ridden & miserable followers in its thousand-year Christ-Reich would be (and probably was) the envy of those who would follow later and attempt similar things for similar reasons. It must be said that certain of them replaced the worship of gods with worship of themselves and their own equally warped dogma (the worst fiends of the 20th century, for example, realised that it’s easier to control adherence to a dogma if you just make up a new one, rather than relying on an old and much-debated one), complete with brand new shiny commandments and brand new (or markedly revamped & re-invigorated) hatreds, which were still on a suitably Biblical scale.
Let’s not forget the USA’s very own best buddies, long-time theocrats and partners in grime (yes, that’s a clever fossil fuel reference, thank you for noticing), Saudi Arabia. Instead of elections and political debates, they have the Royal Family and shut the f–k up. Instead of police to investigate crime and courts of law to prosecute criminals, they have Decency Police to arrest rape victims and sharia courts to sentence the rape victim to some more rape. Or maybe she’ll just get a light beating if she promises never to have it done to her again, the little minx, and how dare she just leave the house like that anyway, she was bloody asking for it. Everyone knows men can’t be trusted not to just penetrate anything that’s warmer than room temperature so, basically, they shouldn’t have to be beholden to such foolish Western notions as a woman’s right to not be raped and not raping people. Saudi Arabia is a textbook example of what can be done, – nay, what needs to be done to keep your particular dogma stapled onto your nation’s constitution and laws, should you be successful in establishing your favourite god as head-of-state in all but actual physical presence (lack of physical presence certainly hadn’t stopped North Korea from still following its Dear Departed Leader, Kim Il-Sung).
Using those two examples (they’re all I had time for, otherwise I would have to dedicate myself to a book and I don’t think I have the attention span for that – that’s usually why I just write songs that don’t exceed five minutes, or Facebook status updates), it would appear that the key to keeping your theocracy, once you have attained it, is using the fear of lots of violence (including the fear of Hell) and of course, actually using lots and lots of violence, to keep your subjects in line. This is necessary because, even amongst people who share your religion, there will be disagreements on the interpretations of certain bits of infallible scripture (not least of which the question of which bits are in fact infallible, which are open for interpretation and which bits can be used to justify killing an opponent and their entire heathen family). So, unless you wish to be bogged down in quiet, respectful theological discussions which will outlast the lifespans of those involved in the discussion and make functional government all but impossible (a useful tactic in itself, it must be noted, and it happens in secular politics every day), you more or less have to go full Saudi on those infidel bastards, stick the boot in and form your Decency Police quicksmart, before anyone gets a head big enough to dare to challenge your version of the select words of your god, which are now law and carry penalties a lot scarier than anything threatened in scripture. Also, it should be noted that threatening and using lots of violence seems to have a greater effect on large groups of people than merely promising paradise in exchange for being nice (see the section on The Vatican).
So there you have it. Wannabe US theocrats might certainly have their cake if they care to put in any effort beyond petulantly sabotaging children’s education or making clever puns on “Barack Obama” for protest signs (Barack Osama! Hey, I just thought of one! That was my Teabagger deed for the day – and now back to the TiVo) but they’ll be so busy protecting it they’ll never get a second to even lick the icing, let alone eat the damn thing. You can’t have your theocracy and enjoy it too, so make damn sure no one else enjoys it either.

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Herr Ratzinger continues the massacre

[Doubled from Dangerous Intersection]

HIV/AIDS is possibly the worst health crisis to hit this planet. It’s also arguably the worst thing to happen to the African continent since white people were regularly kidnapping its inhabitants and trading them like farm machinery.

But the one hopeful thing about the whole situation is this: while there’s no cure yet, AIDS is easily preventable. Ridiculously easily preventable. Avoiding the sharing of needles & using contraception are the two most effective ways to avoid the long, tortuous, wasting death we’ve all come to associate with this horrendous epidemic. And if you’re not an intravenous drug user (or you studiously avoid sticking sharp, blood-stained things in your body), there’s 50% of your prevention pretty much sorted already.

So … how the hell are you supposed to react when the gold-robed, paedophile-protecting dictator-for-life of the Catholic Church continues to threaten people with eternal torment for using contraception during sex (based on a very, very, um, interpretive interpretation the Bible) and instead tells people “just say no” to sex? In this story (BBC) Pope Oberstumbannfuhrer Herr Kaiser Ratzinger (I refuse to use his picked-out stagename, he’s not Axl Rose for crying out loud) once again proves to the world that not only is his outlook anachronistic, unrealistic & laughable, it’s also flat-out fatal. To millions upon millions of people.

In the referenced article Ratzinger, in the very same breath, calls AIDS a “cruel epidemic” and then follows that with this clanger: “The traditional teaching of the church has proven to be the only failsafe way to prevent the spread of HIV/Aids.” Except when it hasn’t, doesn’t, isn’t and won’t. Obviously.

Allow me to rephrase & clarify that statement for you, Popey: “The inestimable, genocidal cruelty of AIDS is most efficiently perpetuated by people in positions of power (like Popes, for example) asking poverty-stricken superstitious people, living in abject fear for their very souls, to do what amounts to the impossible.”

In the past, before I knew much about AIDS’ awful presence in Africa (for instance, the article states that today, around 60% of the entire world’s AIDS 40 million patients are African and up to 1000 die each day), whenever I’d hear some robed halfwit with celestial voices in his head make a pig-ignorant statement like that of Ratzinger’s I’d just roll my eyes, sigh and think “Gosh, those wacky Catholics. At it again, asking the impossible and being ignored by the world, even Catholics. Laugh out loud!” But after a while I realised that while most people in the developed world treat Ratzinger’s words with all the respect they deserve, large swathes of Africa (and other developing regions) are still tightly gripped by superstition of all kinds and take the word of people like Herr Ratzinger and his little wizards as gospel. Accordingly, they avoid the simplest precautions against unwanted pregnancies and definitely unwanted STDs because they’ve been taught that wasting sperm incurs God’s wrath.

Then there was this gritty little cultured pearl of wisdom:

It is of great concern that the fabric of African life, its very source of hope and stability, is threatened by divorce, abortion, prostitution, human trafficking and a contraception mentality [emphasis mine]

Righto. Right up there as the biggest threats to Africa’s future, along with human trafficking (a modern form of slavery if there ever was one) and prostitution (often related to said trafficking) are those gravest of grave sins: the right to choose if you conceive a child during sex (regardless of whether the sex was legal or consensual), the right to not carry an embryo into actual foetus-hood and that most awful of activities, the right to end a relationship.

Does this geriatric idiot in the imperial robes who lives in a palace not see the links – right there in his very own statement? There’s human trafficking – desperate, poor people either taken advantage of or simply forced into such activities as prostitution – quite often not presenting a choice to the new sex-slave about who they have sex with, when they have sex with them and whether the “customer” protects himself or not. Divorce – well, in many cultures across the globe, obviously including Africa, people (and by “people” I mean “women”) don’t get a choice who they marry or when their new spouse decides to consummate that marriage (search the web for “obstetric fistula” – a painful & embarrassing condition which occurs way too often in underage African girls). Abortion, that old Catholic standby – well, disregarding the fact that a fertilised ovum or a tiny clump of undifferentiated cells isn’t a human being – what if you’re nine years old and aren’t physically capable of carrying a child to term? Well, if you’d read the news lately that doesn’t matter to the Papacy. Their official response? Excommunicate the doctors and the kid’s family – but not the mangy son of a bitch stepfather who repeatedly raped the girl from when she was six years old – then impregnated her with twins which would almost certainly have killed the girl. But hey, everyone knows it’s par for the course for the Vatican to protect child-rapists.

Rape & sex-slavery & STDs aside, even in the average committed, loving, monogamous relationship – even one completely without risk – there should be a choice. There should be a right to choose not to have a child. One word comes to mind when people think of Africa: poverty. If you can’t afford to feed & clothe & educate a child, there is absolutely no reason that you should be forced to have one. To force people, under the threat of eternal damnation, to simultaneously conceive children they cannot support and risk contracting the deadliest disease ever experienced by humanity is possibly the most reprehensibly immoral act that can be undertaken by a person in a position of power and responsibility. Ratzinger knows the effect his words will have among the faithful, he knows what the stakes are and, unless he’s been living under a rock (maybe not but I’m willing to bet he sleeps in a coffin), he surely must know what the results have been from decades of official Vatican “don’t protect yourself, just say no to sex” wisdom. Of course he knows all that, for crying out loud. But why care too much about adding millions more to the existing millions of sick & dying Africans? There are more where that came from, right Ratzi? Of course there are going to be if you tell people they’ll burn in Hell for wasting their sperm. And hey – dying slowly & horribly of AIDS and watching all your kids starve, followed by eternal bliss in heaven has just got to be better than a long, healthy life followed by forever with a red-hot pitchfork inserted somewhere less than convenient. Right?

But, honestly, I don’t know how to react anymore. These days when I hear Ratzinger, as he frequently does, displaying a stark ignorance of the realities of the world (unmatched except perhaps by Sarah Palin or your average coma patient) or condemning people to what he surely must know is an early death, I’m not sure if I should scream unintelligibly at my screen, post floweringly verbose excoriations, sigh in defeat & just sit and feel powerless and frustrated or … just have a healthy, profane vent & say “Ratzinger. Hey. Shut the fuck up. You’re killing people with this retarded dogma of yours – actually killing people – just as much as if you strangled them with your own bony, pampered hands. Your words are weapons of genocide – a war crime in peace-time, a crime against humanity – and if anyone’s going to Hell, you elderly virgin whose first & last experience of a naked woman was being pushed, tiny, wet & screaming, out of one, it’s going to be you, because you had the opportunity to save millions of lives and you bailed on it, your mind enslaved by your precious god-damned magic book. And once you’re there, roasting, I hope the millions of victims of your arrogant delusions & murderous idiocy visit you in Hell to kick your balls right up through your face.”

Here endeth the rant.

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