Thursday, September 9, 2010

Burning the Koran: Is Terry Jones a Hero?

Is Terry Jones "heroic?"


Well, he's not my hero, but...

I am not a Christian, and I view this fight the religious aspect as a fight two gangs, the Christian and Islamic churches. As a homosexual, I view Jones as my enemy for his support of the Westboro Baptist Church (you know, the "God Hates Fags" church of the holy bastard Fred Phelps). He and they illustrate the reason why we are to separate Church and State; to the extent that they use the force of the government to infringe on the freedoms of homosexuals or any other offender of their faith, they are hypocrites in the battle for free speech. (But then, do we really need "The State?").

Well, then, why do I defend Jones's Koran-burning? "Sticks and stones...". They are entitled to their views and opinions, as long as they keep their hands to themselves. Yet, by standing up to the threat of Islamic terrorism, putting himself on the line to defend his right to free speech, Jones meets the etymology of hero: "protector/defender," in this case, standing up for a larger issue: freedom of speech. In a limited aspect: Yes, by definition, Jones is acting heroically...for his cause, when it suits his purposes. He is putting his own life on the line to defend his right, even if his actions and preaching continue to undermine the rights of homosexuals like myself. It just so happens that, on this one particular matter of free speech, our paths align...in this limited context.

Here's where I'd like to leave this: the enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend...I am not defending Jones, but the larger principle involved. If the worst among us can defend their rights to free speech, the best of us better sure as hell do the same. So, Pastor, enjoy my support against Islamic oppression while it lasts...because I, as well, will defend myself from your own brand of religious tyranny.

A Most Un-Heroic President and General

Reprised for Pastor Terry Jones's Koran-burning on the anniversary of 9/11...From A Show of Hands: A Cautionary Tale of Heroes in Exile...Did I call it, or did I call it? (click images to enlarge.)

Blow up American buildings and lives, you get to build a mosque on the grave site. Speak up against it, and you're suddenly an enemy of the State. As an American, I say that Obama, General Petraeus, and anyone else asking us to cave in to Islam can suck it. Seriously, to say that exercising one's free speech will endanger the troops is paramount to treason, IMHO. And most un-heroic; soldiers are there for that very reason, to defend our freedoms. Whatever happened to "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it?"

Jones is not my ally (more on that in my next post), but on this, I have to defend his right to free speech, and I will. People in the Middle East burn American flags and presidential effigies at will. The President is attacking this Christian pastor, yet "artists" here are tax-payer funded for exhibits like Piss Christ...I, an atheist, am offended at such blatant hypocrisy. I have to hold my nose to do so, mind you.

Free speech applies to all, like it or not. And if America wont' defend it at home, then it's all over.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

...Well, Then, The Critics Are Wrong

Saw this article today on philly.com (I just wanted to check the weather, damnit): "Superheroes Are Selfish, Violent Pop-Cult Models, Critics Say." Ok, what are the critics saying? (Like I don't already know, from the puke-inducing opening line...)

Your little boy is damaged.

He's been traumatized by violence, oversexualized, and indoctrinated to believe that to be a real man he must be aggressive, narcissistic, manipulative, and misogynistic.

The perpetrators, the people behind such evil victimization, are - superheroes.

So says Boston psychologist Sharon Lamb, a University of Massachusetts scholar who claims that superheroes - once role models who inspired confidence - today are laying to waste America's boys by teaching them a perverted image of masculinity.

Uh, oh...I see where this is going...

Lamb asserts that today's heroes are motivated by selfish desires, including the desire for vengeance, and not justice and the common good.

Lamb is joined in her sheepish bleatings by John Arcudi, author of the comic A God Somewhere:

Philadelphia comic-book writer John Arcudi agrees that movie superheroes are too aggressive, cocky, and narcissistic....Arcudi says this is part of an overall tone of triumphalism that he believes predominates in American culture. If defeat isn't an option, he asks, then how are we to teach kids how to deal with failure?

He also worries that the traditional superhero just seems too naive to today's media-savvy kids. "Today's audiences have a lot of difficulty swallowing the idea that the hero is totally committed to an ideal" and not to personal desires, he says. Being cool and kicking derriere, he notes, always trump social justice in the movies.

Well, Mr. Arcudi, I hope you've learned how to deal with defeat, because your comments are an "epic fail."

The "common good"? Well, spank my ass and call me Stalin. There's nothing new in these criticisms, and nothing that hasn't been addressed over and over throughout this blog already (especially in my posts regarding romanticism versus naturalism, which would make short work of the "triumphalism" complaint.) And yes, there are a few valid criticisms, such as the misogynistic traits in some characters, and I've had plenty to say about movies like Kick-Ass. The problem is in the continuing package-deal of equating those things with "selfishness," as identified by Ayn Rand:
The meaning ascribed in popular usage
to the word “selfishness” is not merely wrong: it represents a devastating
intellectual “package-deal,” which is responsible, more than any other single
factor, for the arrested moral development of mankind.

In popular usage, the word
“selfishness” is a synonym of evil; the image it conjures is of a murderous
brute who tramples over piles of corpses to achieve his own ends, who cares for
no living being and pursues nothing but the gratification of the mindless whims
of any immediate moment.

Yet the exact meaning and
dictionary definition of the word “selfishness” is: concern with one’s own
interests.

This concept does not include a
moral evaluation; it does not tell us whether concern with one’s own interests
is good or evil; nor does it tell us what constitutes man’s actual interests. It
is the task of ethics to answer such questions.
So, with the Trojan Horse of violent misogyny comes the call to self-sacrifice, but I see right though it. They'll be more Trojan Horse dung to clean up for some time, so here's a really big shovel to clean up after those who continue to force the false dichotomy between rational selfishness and "the greater good":

The word "We" is as lime poured over men, which sets and hardens to stone, and crushes all beneath it, and that which is white and that which is black are lost equally in the grey of it. It is the word by which the depraved steal the virtue of the good, by which the weak steal the might of the strong, by which the fools steal the wisdom of the sages.

What is my joy if all hands, even the unclean, can reach into it? What is my wisdom, if even the fools can dictate to me? What is my freedom, if all creatures, even the botched and impotent, are my masters? What is my life, if I am but to bow, to agree and to obey?

But I am done with this creed of corruption.

I am done with the monster of "We," the word of serfdom, of plunder, of misery, falsehood and shame.

And now I see the face of god, and I raise this god over the earth, this god whom men have sought since men came into being, this god who will grant them joy and peace and pride.

This god, this one word:

"I."
— Ayn Rand, Anthem

Now, there's a "god somewhere" for you.