Jehovahs’ Witnesses Kingdom Hall’s a Comin’; or, Hallelujah! There Goes the Neighborhood

July 27, 2008

God has blessed us with a transfusion of new blood, as it were, in the neighborhood in the Hurstbourne Lane/Old LaGrange Road/Whipps Mill Road area of Eastern Jefferson County. That’s right, new blood in the form of new neighbors—Jehovah’s Witnesses—to be exact, who’ll gather to celebrate the Kingdom of God in their under-construction Kingdom Hall in said location. It’ll really be a privilege to have folks in the neighborhood to look up to, since we (and they) all know, they are the one and only hand-picked chosen Heaven-bound ones of the Lord. Shit, it’ll be like beholding superbeings or something.

Luckily, I’ve found out about this in time so that I can prepare for the onslaught of neighborliness sure to come in the form of Watchtower-wielding, glassy-eyed folk honing in with radar intensity on my doorbell. In a way I pity them, not because of their delusional fairy-tale beliefs, but because they really, really have no idea who they will be dealing with when they come to my door.

I’m fixing up a sign for them right now: All solicitors and religious peddlers agree to the following if they chose to ring my doorbell:

1.) You have one minute, and one minute only, to make your pitch. At 60 seconds the door will be shut.

2.) All doorbell ringers agree to be photographed and consent to your image being used on my blog on which I reserve the right to make any wise-ass judgmental comment I choose.

That seems fair enough.

Is my disdain for Jehovah’s Witnesses any greater than for any other crackpot religionist, whether they be with Scientologists or Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) or Branch Davidians or Heaven’s Gaters or Baptists or Papist Catholics? No, not really.

I remain, ever thus, your equal-opportunity religion basher.

For fun, here’s a website in which a disenchanted former member of the Witnesses (no doubt a “disfellowed” outcast, as they call their excommunicados) shares his list of 101 Strange Beliefs and Practices of Jehovah’s Witnesses. (Too bad the fellow still doesn’t seem to have been cured of Christianity as well. It’s funny when one cultist throws barbs at another.)

Below we see a delightful illustration culled from Jehovah’s Witnesses informational materials of the sheer joy implicit in observing Armageddon, knowing that you’re going to a better place and everybody else ain’t. The destruction of Earth and humanity has never been so much fun!

(Now, seriously, I ask you, do you really want to be stuck in Heaven with these fuckers?)

R.I.P. George Carlin: A True Giant

June 23, 2008

George Carlin is with the worms. Not with God. He knew that was bullshit, and said so.

Unlike Tim Russert, whose eulogies ate up inordinate amounts of bandwidth, newsprint and talking head time this past week, Carlin was a real giant, a true innovator. Perhaps it’s petty to play a game of “dueling dead guys” or “my dead guy is better than your dead guy,” but, unlike Russert, who, when all is said and done never really spoke truth to power, Carlin did. The fact that Fox News hounds eulogized Russert as vociferously and lovingly as anyone else tells me that. Faux News fans cringe at the likes of Carlin, aetheist, critic of religion, and the Bush and Nixon regimes, and general thorn in the side of those with fascistic tendencies.

There will be a lot said about Carlin, I should hope, in the coming days, particularly by other, more articulate and insightful bloggers.

I’ll only note that I always considered it ballsy that PBS hired Carlin to be Mr. Conductor on the pre-school kids’ show, “Thomas the Tank Engine,” considering what a controversial figure he was. That was a great ‘fuck you’ to the Jesse Helms’ and the like of the world who staged political assaults on public TV.

I’ve known Carlin’s work since the ’70s and own all of this records and CDs. He was one of the funniest men who ever lived. Too bad he won’t be around anymore to blast the purveyors of bullshit.


My Beef With the ACLU

February 23, 2007

I joined the ACLU around the time the Patriot Act was being rushed through our derelict post-9/11 Congress; during that weird McCarthyite period when pervasive fear of dissent gripped us all.

I felt powerless in the wake of BushCo.’s executive power bush-sieg-heil-60perc.jpggrab and unconstitutional rulings, and so I sent in my small contribution, something like $25 or less, and got my ACLU card to carry.

I did it because I didn’t like the idea that an executive-branch cabal could, on their say-so, declare anyone an enemy combatant or a terrorist and so deprive people of due process and legal representation. This scared me at least as much as potential terrorism.

I wanted to help protect the traditional American notion of “innocent until proven guilty.” It’s something that protects all of us from Salem Witch Hunts, or at least is supposed to. I didn’t like the idea that mere accusation was now equal to guilt. Getting away from that kind of Dark-Age barbarity was why America was founded in the first place. Now, as in the days of old, if you’re branded a criminal, a terrorist or whatever, then you must be one. Never mind allowing the accused proper resources/time/attorney access/and a properly unbiased justice-illustr-25-perc.jpgvenue to have one’s case heard—if and when it would ever be heard. Never mind humane conditions either. Things like the Patriot Act and the Military Commissions Act are supposed to be prevented by the Constitution. But the Constitution has not been defended and has not been followed by those whose sworn duty it is to defend. Our government has kidnapped people, held them in barbarous conditions, then let them go when they realized the accused were not guilty. Is this the American justice system? It’s what Dick Cheney has called “The Dark Side”—the new gloves-off, no-rules way that we have to fight Terrorism, he argues. When we throw the baby out with the bath water, it seems obvious that the terrorists have won. They’ve won by sitting back and watching our fears cause us to do stupid things against ourselves. Terrorists would certainly cheer another 9/11, but they really don’t need one. If we keep fighting perpetual wars that cost us in the trillions, we will bankrupt ourselves soon enough just as sure as the Soviets bankrupted themselves on military expenditures. If we continue to weaken our Constitution, we will bankrupt ourselves morally. We will no longer be seen as a moral example for the world. We will cave from within.

But that is not what I intended to write.

What I wanted to write concerned a certain religious program I happened to come across this past Sunday morning.

It was a slickly produced anti-ACLU screed filled with half-truths and constant misrepresentations. It was called, “Is the ACLU Good for America?coral-ridge-kennedy-crop.jpg” and it was a “special” segment of the “Coral Ridge Hour” produced by Fort Lauderdale, Fla.’s Coral Ridge Ministries, under the direction of the Rev. James Kennedy.

Kennedy’s war with the ACLU evidently goes back years, as a cursory glance of Google attests. I wish I had written down some of the claims being made on the show, but I was already familiar with the similar stale litany of anti-ACLU canards.

The non-partisan offers a good roundup of the for- and against-ACLU arguments, in relation to specific controversial issues.

Interestingly in nearly all the cases, the anti-ACLU arguments boil down to the kind of this-therefore-that “logic:”

The ACLU seems always to defend criminals, so they must be pro-criminal.

The ACLU seems always to defend pedophiles, so they must promote pedophilia.

The ACLU seems always to defend terrorists, so they must be pro-terrorist.

The ACLU always wants prayer, religious symbols and so on taken out of schools, therefore they are anti-religion.

Rev. Kennedy and his ilk make these kinds of statements and claims because they know they can get away with it and because it will loosen the purses and wallets of those who lack or those who don’t want to exercise their God-given critical thinking skills.

The ACLU has one agenda only, and it is: Is the Constitution being followed?

If not, then they do their best to make sure that it is. Everyone, no matter how heinous they aclu-anti-relig-45perc.jpgmight be, is guaranteed a fair trial. So if the ACLU helps defend an accused child rapist, or an accused terrorist, or a KKK member who wants to march to state his case, that doesn’t mean the ACLU promotes or condones pedophiles, terrorists or white supremacists.

It only means one thing. It means they promote and condone the Constitution. It means that the rules are supposed to be the same for everybody when a case comes to court. Everybody—even the most despised defendant.

How hard is that to grasp?

The good reverend Kennedy might even be surprised to know that the ACLU itself would defend his right to continue making stupid statements. After all, opinions aren’t always based on fully-thought-through logic. People can believe and state that the Earth is flat if they want. The ACLU would defend their right to say so.

The Cool Aqua blog has a few interesting things to say about the Rev. Kennedy’s beef with the ACLU, if you’re so inclined to visit.

So where’s my beef? How has the ACLU done wrong by me? I’m afraid my beef with them is a little more mundane; not so dramatic.

After I sent them my modest contribution, it seems the ACLU squandered it in paper and postage and time trying to get me to give them more money. On top of junk-mail-enviro-60perc.jpgtheir own added mailings, they sold my name and address to practically every other non-profit social justice group in existence, worsening my junk mail input (not to mention the adverse effect on the environment).

So, how much of my contribution went to fighting the assault on our Constitution? Not as much as I had hoped, I’m afraid.

I still agree with the philosophy and efforts of the ACLU, but I declined to remain a member because of the inefficient use of my contribution.

There are probably all kinds of marketing studies that the ACLU can cite to justify their junk mail tactics. For every certain percentage of people who are turned off and drop out because of them, they can probably cite stats that say an even greater number will send more money.

For those of us who don’t have much money—who try to pool it to gain access to places where our voices are drowned out by those with even bigger money—I find it disillusioning. And ironic.

I really want to join the ACLU again, badly. But I don’t like my pathetic few dollars thrown back at me in the form of trash.