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When Nintendo Killed My Playground

Credit: iStockphoto/Nick Schlax

Credit: iStockphoto/Nick Schlax

Technology has taken a toll on me. I’ve been a discontent for years, though, at least since 5th or 6th grade. It was the late ’80′s and my parents lived on St. Mary’s Lake in Battle Creek, Michigan. Our neighborhood was upper & middle class–St. Mary’s is a private lake–and there were a bunch of boys my age. Even cooler, they all loved playing outside! We played football and baseball in the park atop the hill, and two of us had basketball hoops. We’d play basketball for hours every day, well-after the sun went down! Sometimes our parents would get mad, screaming, “It’s time for bed! If I have to tell you again, you’re grounded!” (Apparently, they stopped believing “I’m coming, mom! Geesh!” after the ninth or tenth time.) But every day was packed with outdoor activities. Whether it was fishing for bass, riding bikes over Mr. Carter’s flowers, sledding down wickedly huge hills, playing badminton & croquet, or making the world’s most (dangerously) awesome underground fort, we did things as a group, and we were almost always outside.

Nintendo blew that world to fucking smithereens.

Everything changed; the park on the hill died a lonely death under the overgrowth from years of neglect and disrepair; the basketball nets and backboards got ratty from the weather; and while the underground fort remains, it remains only as a sort of symbolic ruin, covered in decades worth of leaves from autumns gone by. These were dramatic changes, and they were painfully visible to anyone with a functioning set of eyeballs.

Life quickly became an indoor activity. Football was traded in for Tecmo Bowl; basketball was swapped for Double-Dribble; and playing Excitebike, well, that replaced poppin’ wheelies off janky ramps made from random parts we found in the garage. With the rarest of nostalgic exceptions, the neighborhood was never the same.

That was a long time ago and ours isn’t the same world–not even close! It’s only become more technological; we live in the day and age of iPhones & iPads, of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, of YouTube, LinkedIn and Reddit (and that’s just the tip of the technological iceberg!). There’s also 24/7 on-demand television. And don’t forget about that subtle soundtrack most people have playing in the background while taking showers… while in the car… during work… while in stores… and even while sleeping. Ours surely is a civilization that shimmers and shines, where sights and sounds abound.

This is modern life.

Personal preferences notwithstanding, clocks rarely turn back and time stops for no one. Existence happens. And don’t get me wrong, Nintendo isn’t the boogieman! It’s one of a gazillion distractions we deal with face-to-screen every day. But this makes my point all the more poignant.

I’ve often been asked: are you saying we should all cut ourselves off entirely from social technologies? If one wishes to live as the Amish, maybe, but I don’t foresee–much less desire!–Swiss Anabaptism to be trending across the U.S. any time soon. But this says nothing whatsoever of lamentation or dissent. More importantly, and if we’ve learned much at all from history, it seems that there’s nearly always just cause for cautious consideration and that moderation has proven herself time and again to be the trustiest of our trustworthy handmaidens. Hell, it’s a proverbial truth that reformation is always in need of reformation. So why would the lessons learned from these truths not influence the way we approach technological innovations?  For fear of considering that wisdom may currently be getting suffocated to death between the two thieves of escapism and technocracy?

Honestly, I don’t have a one-size-fits-all answer here. In fact, I don’t have a set-in-stone answer whatsoever. But reality is outside my brain, and outside my brain is a reality packed with billions of compulsive communicators with brains, an increasing number of whom are experiencing the throngs & throes of a world bursting at the seems with modern technologies. At the very least (and if nothing else), we’ve got the ingredients for giving a whack at thinking this whole technologies thing through. And if our talking requires some long-lost peace & quiet, we could always meet at the playground.

Can Microbiology Change How We Think & Behave?

virus

Kevin Loria of Business Insider discusses a recent accidental discovery by scientists at Johns Hopkins and Nebraska Universities. It’s been revealed that a virus found in lake algae was affecting human cognition. While this seems unnatural, microbiology has a very obvious presence in the behavior modification of living organisms. Not only do animals use chemical warfare to manipulate others, but they also will use neurological attacks that actually make their hosts want to do their bidding!

While unnerving, this brings to light the reality that we all may not want to admit. In some cases, Micro-organisms may be able to steer us like we steer our cars. Below is a TED Talks presentation by Ed Yong about how parasites, viruses, and hosts play a vital role in everyday biology.

Joe Elder is a public speaker, skeptic,  and host of PaleoRadio & Southpaws Radio. We at PaleoRadio love Youtube subscribers! 

Your new Thursday night talk program!

Graphic by John Moseman

Graphic by John Moseman

“Then the one guy was all like, ‘Bam!’ awesome argument! To which the other dude was all like, ‘Shazam!’ kick-ass response! And this went back-&-forth for like an hour or something. It was a mac-daddy fun fest of iron sharpening iron.”Jeremiah Bannister talking about Banmen Country, his new talk program with John Moseman on The Paleocrat YouTube Channel… that doesn’t air live until tomorrow at 9 p.m. EST. Click HERE to watch it LIVE or on-the-go!

Jeremiah Bannister Discusses Drones and U.S. Lies

In this powerfully moving segment, Jeremiah Bannister reflects on the current U.S. drone attacks in Syria, recalling a 2008 episode of PaleoRadio wherein he detailed the U.S. denial of what became known as the Azizabad Massacre.

Keep thinking… PaleoRadio!

To schedule interviews, speaking engagements and debates, check out Jeremiah’s Secular Student Alliance’s Speakers Bureau profile page or contact him at jeremiah.bannister@gmail.com. And don’t forget to follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube!

Top-10 Books That Changed My Life

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My life as a reader really began while tearing through “The Cooper Kids Adventure Series,” by Frank Peretti. My parents bought me the entire series as a gift, and I read at least a few of the books during an family vacation spent winding through the western U.S. in (or around) the summer of 1992. Since that trip, and were I to guess, I’d say I’ve read 1,000+ books. Compared to many in my social circles, it’s a relatively modest number. Crunched into the calculator, it’s like averaging one-book-per-week for 22 years, or somewhere thereabout. But my reading habit waxes & wanes–and I’m no speed-reader! At times, my reading schedule is pure mania, barreling through book after book in my library. At other times, however, it’s difficult for me to even pick up at the pages I left off. (Life is life & seasons are seasons, right?) But through it all, through every one of my life’s many twists & turns, books have been an integral part of my day-to-day.

So I was especially excited when a friend of mine mentioned me on Facebook in a “Top-10 Books” challenge. (Well, it was something like that, anyway.) The idea is simple: name 10+ books that changed your life, then talk a little about them. This was a ton of fun! Among many things, it afforded me the opportunity to think back on the abundant number of authors I’ve admired over the years. I spent time contemplating to what degree (or another) any given author influenced my world- and life-view. Over and over again I’d find myself thinking, “Wow! how do I decide between so many great writers?” But after a day or two, I decided on my top-10; more than that, I thought it would be really cool to respond to my friend’s challenge with a video detailing my selection! *enjoy!*

CORRECTION: Justin Schieber of Reasonable Doubts tweeted me after watching the video to inform me that while I was right about him posting a status update in response to being challenged, I was wrong in saying that he challenged three people… turns out, he challenged no one. #BooHoo4Everyone

Post Script: John Medaille, a former colleague at the Distributist Review, watched my video and noted that not one of my selections were classics. It’s a valid point. My hope, however, is to create more videos discussing books that have changed my life, limiting myself to narrow(er) categories like theology, political economy, philosophy, media, et cetera. Let me say, also, that a lion’s share of the selections in “The Portable Atheist” (selected & with introductions by Christopher Hitchens) are penned by people of letters within the Western Canon.

Religious Freedom In America: Is It Really Being Threatened?

BirthControl-Catholocism_jpg_800x1000_q100

A recent church bulletin came with a copy of the newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Kalamazoo enclosed.  There were a couple of pieces in the newspaper that addressed the religious freedom issue here in America.  As I read the columns in question I was struck by a couple of the arguments being made.

The first article was a column by Bishop Paul Bradley which claimed that our religious freedom is under attack and it’s up to us to defend our religious freedom rights from the attacks being made on them.  Bishop Bradley’s argument came down to this:

“Federal and Supreme Courts are now put in the position of deciding what the law of the land shall be, rather than the majority of the citizens of this great Democracy.  The judicial and executive branches of government are overtaking the legislative process that has made the United States the envy of every other country in the world.

The most blatant example of this government intrusion into our religious freedom is seen in the ‘HHS Mandate’ which mandates that contraceptive drugs, which include drugs that are abortifacients, must be provided regardless of how doing so infringes on one’s religious convictions.  Does the ‘right’ to receive contraceptives trump the ‘right’ to religious freedom?”

First of all, ever since the Supreme Court ruling in Marbury v. Madison in the early 1800′s the federal courts have had the authority to decide what the “law of the land” is  by ruling on the constitutionality of laws that have been passed by the legislative branch and signed into law by the executive.  It doesn’t matter what the “majority of the citizens of this great Democracy” say, if the law in question is found to violate the Constitution the courts have the authority to strike down the law.  It’s not a case of the courts being “…now put in the position of deciding what the law of the land shall be…”  The courts have been in that position for the past 210 years or so.

Now, regarding the question of whether the right to contraception trumps the right of religious freedom, the fact is our rights are not unlimited.  Our rights extend only to the point where our exercise of a particular right violates someone else’s rights or harms them in some way.  We have a right to freedom of speech but that right is not unlimited.  Doubt that?  Try going into a crowded movie theater and yelling “FIRE” sometime.  Your exercising your right to freedom of speech in that way creates a situation in which people could be hurt trying to get to safety.  Or suppose you went out and told vicious lies about someone.  You could soon be facing a libel lawsuit.  Our right to freedom of speech is not unlimited.

We have a 4th Amendment right to privacy.  Suppose you decide to throw a party, and keep it going with loud music and the consumption of alcoholic beverages until 3AM.  Your right to be able to hold a party on your property is not unlimited.  If your right to hold your party interferes with your neighbors’ right to be free of a disturbance, you can probably expect a visit from your friendly neighborhood police officer.

The right to religious freedom is no more important nor different from the right to freedom of speech or the right to privacy, or any of the other rights given to us by the Constitution.  Depending on their interests some people may view one right as more important than all the others; but if you take away a constitutional right, any right, it diminishes America.  If your exercise of your rights causes harm to another person or infringes on their rights, you’ve gone beyond the limits of your rights.

In the case of the HHS Mandate, the employer’s right to their religious convictions should not trump the rights of their employees to receive whatever contraceptives they and their doctor decide is best for them, because that infringes on the right of the employee to receive the same quality of health care that employees in other businesses are receiving.  If you have to pay out of your own pocket for contraceptives that your employer refuses to pay for because of religious reasons, while employees in other businesses receive them free of cost, your quality of health care is not the same as those employees in other businesses.  That’s a concrete, documentable harm; unlike the un-documentable nebulous claim of having your right to religious freedom harmed by having to pay for some form of birth control you object to.

And let us not forget that religious convictions are not always used for good.  In the not too distant past of this country, when African Americans were fighting for their civil rights, some racists based their opposition on their belief that the Bible, through the story of Noah and his cursing of his son Ham, shows that the black people were the descendants of Ham and thus cursed by God, inferior to white people, and not deserving of equal rights.  That was a religious conviction of those racists.  Would the opponents of the HHS Mandate say that the religious freedom of those racists should have been upheld over the rights of the black people to be treated equally with whites in our society?

The other interesting article was a column by author and speaker Christopher Stefanick, which argued that opponents of marriage equality should share “the truth” about the “gay lifestyle” with love:

“Actually, we’re called to a different place.  A middle ground where we might be hated by both the far right and the far left within our own Church as much as we’re hated by the people at OK Cupid.  We’re called to teach the truth in love, remaining uncompromising and clear on moral issues and in defense of marriage, while at the same time offering a supportive community to people with same-sex attractions.”

I’ve got no problem with that conclusion.  I’m all for civil discussions of issues.  The problem I have with his conclusion is how he got there.  Stefanick reached that conclusion by arguing that it’s the defenders of traditional marriage who are hated and  persecuted by the “gay lobby” and its supporters:

“After Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich, was forced to resign because he had donated money to support Prop 8 three years ago (it’s worth noting that 52 percent of Californians supported Prop 8), the dating website, OK Cupid, which spearheaded the attack on Eich, issued a statement that clarified their motives:  ‘Those who seek to deny love….are our enemies, and we wish them nothing but failure.’

Since love is willing the good of another, desiring ‘nothing but failure’ for another is hate, by definition.  And so, Eich was targeted for his ideas. The same was true for Elaine Huguenin, from New Mexico, who was fined $7,000 for refusing to photograph a gay wedding.  There are more examples of this with every passing week.  A baker in Lakewood, Colo., Jack Phillips, has no problems serving gay customers, but he refused to make a same sex ‘wedding’ cake because it violated his belief about marriage.  The Colorado Civil Rights Commission has labeled this ‘illegal’ despite the fact that gay marriage is not even legal in Colorado, and ordered him to submit quarterly reports showing that he’s changed, and to train his employees to avoid discrimination (a.k.a. to support gay marriage) or he risks losing his business.  A priest friend of mine in Vermont was recently asked to perform a marriage ceremony for a lesbian couple.  They threatened to sue after he refused.  There’s no longer any doubt that ‘gay marriage’ is an effective tool to dig up and bludgeon into submission all who disagree with the gay lifestyle, or force them out of society.”

Where to begin?   As Paul Harvey used to say, “And now…the rest of the story.”

A major problem I have with the way Stefanick reached his conclusion is the fact that he portrays episodes such as the ones he cited as coming every week.  Let’s take a look at the chronology of the cases he cited.  The Eich controversy began on May 25 of this year and ended a couple of weeks later with Eich’s resignation on April 13.  The Huguenin case happened in 2006.  The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that her decision violated the state’s Human Rights Act, which bars discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.  That ruling was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to take up her appeal.  The $7,000 fine imposed on her was imposed by the New Mexico Human Rights Commission.  The Jack Phillips case occurred in 2012.   And yes, gay marriage may not have been legal in Colorado, but the state did have a civil rights law which prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.  His decision to refuse to serve the gay couple was a violation of that state law.  And, news stories I saw reported that Phillips was threatening to close his bakery rather than comply with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission sanctions.

In my research I could find only two other cases of business owners facing sanctions for refusing to provide services for the weddings of gay people on the basis of their religious beliefs, with both happening earlier this year.   The owners of an Oregon bakery were fined for violating the Oregon Equality Act of 2007.   And, there was the heavily publicized case of Washington florist Baronelle Stutzman, who faced sanctions after refusing to provide floral services for the wedding of a gay customer.  Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation was outlawed in 2006, and in 2012 voters in Washington approved a ballot measure which legalized gay marriage.  I could find no news accounts to substantiate the story Mr. Stefanick told about his priest friend in Vermont.

In his column, Bishop Bradley portrayed the religious freedom issue as being one where the will of the people is being usurped by the judicial and executive branches of the federal government.  The reality is, the will of the people through the legislative process is being upheld.  Those business owners are facing sanctions for refusing to provide their services at gay weddings because their refusal violates state laws which have either legalized gay marriage in that state or barred discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Allow me to remind you of the point I made earlier in this post.  Our rights are not unlimited.  Yes, we have a right to religious freedom.  But if our exercising of that right harms someone or infringes on their rights we exceed the limits of our rights.  In the cases cited by Mr. Stefanick, the rights of the gay couple to be treated like any other couple about to be married was violated because of the decision of the business owner to refuse to provide the requested services on the basis of their religious convictions about homosexuality, which violated existing state law.

Conclusion.

I don’t know about you but I am not swayed by arguments that display a lack of knowledge about the subject being discussed, like Bishop Bradley’s column, or a twisted, distorted portrayal of the facts, as was the case in Stepanick’s column.

Why would the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in America raise this issue?  I believe it may be an example of Exercising Authority 101.  If you want to get the people on your side, raise a threat that results in people coming to you for leadership.  And in raising that threat, it’s “facts be damned”.  In this case, it’s that Big Bad, the federal government, that is supposedly voiding the will of the people and threatening our religious freedom.   Don’t look behind the curtain that hides the fact that in the cases they raised, it was the will of the people that put in place the state laws that either legalized gay marriage or made it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation–the laws that those business owners violated by refusing to provide their services for the weddings of gay couples.

Is religious freedom in this country being threatened?  The answer is “Yes” if you believe that our right to religious freedom is unlimited; and that the federal government is trying to take that right away from Believers.  But if you understand the truth about our rights, and that it’s state governments that have punished business owners who have violated state law by refusing to provide their service for weddings uniting gay couples on the basis of personal religious beliefs, I believe you’d have to conclude that the answer is “No’”.

Join me LIVE w/ CFI’s Cafe Inquiry and Atheist Analysis

“Were ex-Christians ever REAL Christians?”

I’ll be presenting on this subject twice over the next five days!

SUNDAY, JULY 20, 10:15 a.m. EST — I’ll be speaking on this issue at Schuler Books on 28th St. in Grand Rapids, Michigan, during Cafe Inquiry, a weekly get-together hosted by Center for Inquiry — Grand Rapids. The event is FREE and open to the public.

WEDNESDAY, JULY 23, 11 p.m. EST — I’ll be joining Jonathan Brotherton, Christopher Tanner and the rest of the folks from Atheist Analysis to kick off their Premier Lecture Series with my lecture, “Were Ex-Christians Ever REAL Christians?” The event will be broadcast via Google Hangouts on YouTube so you (and your Christian/non-Christian friends & family) can watch me lecturing LIVE! If I understand the format correctly, there will even be time afforded for some Q&A from viewers! So set the date and time, tell your friends, write down some questions, and have a knee-slapping good time watching me lecture on Atheist Analysis! :)

(End. Of. Self-promotion sequence. Beep-boop.)

God? Is that you in my head?

creationism

I’ve yet to hear a good explanation as to how anyone can meaningfully determine whether “godversation” ever involves actual communication, much less how to meaningfully differentiate between actual and imagined “godversation.”

This is more than a pickle — it’s an elephant in the room.

To date:

“My spirit attested to the reliability of the message.” FAIL
“I didn’t want to believe it” or “I went kicking & screaming.” FAIL
“I know because the communication was consistent with the bible.” FAIL
“I know it by faith” or “Trust me, I have no reason to lie.” FAIL

Friend me on Facebook! And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @Paleocrat!
Have Google+? Me too! Let’s talk! Find me at +Jeremiah Bannister!

Sarah Palin’s Expertise on Immigration & Impeachment

Photo Courtesy: Sarah Palin's Facebook Page

Photo Courtesy: Sarah Palin’s Facebook Page

Sarah Palin is at it again. It’s a wonder that anyone still gives Palin the time of day, let alone allow her to waste pixels with yet another one of her illogical diatribes. Then again, there is Breitbart. In Obama’s bid for reelection, I heard rumors of a ‘October Surprise’ that Breitbart supposedly was going to reveal some shocking thing about Obama that would ensure him a landslide defeat to Romney. It never happened. And now they are giving space to Sarah Palin to spout off about something less likely to happen than a bridge to nowhere – the impeachment of President Obama over the issue of immigration. In her Breitbart exclusive, Palin accuses Obama of:

“Opening our borders to a flood of illegal immigrants [which] is deliberate.”

It’s one thing to try to impeach a President over his lying about a blue dress affair in the Oval office, but Sarah Palin’s call for impeachment is even more convoluted.

In a June 20th interview on MSNBC, Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla. said, “President Obama has the most border patrols and border security deployed at the border of any previous president.” Politifact finds this statement to be mostly true. According to a report by the Department of Homeland Security, “DHS has also completed 649 miles of fencing out of nearly 652 miles planned, including 299 miles of vehicle barriers and 350 miles of pedestrian fence, with the remaining 3 miles scheduled to be completed.” This is in addition to 529 miles of border fence added between 2005 and 2010. Bush can take the credit for some of the increase, however it continued beyond his term, which means Obama did not put a stop to it. Politifact qualifies Wasserman’s statement in that even though Bush had the proportionally larger ‘big growth’ in the number of deployments of border patrol troops, Obama, instead of subtracting from it, he added more bringing the total of border agents to 21,444 by 2011.

So we have more border fence, of which Obama built a great deal of it, and under the Obama administration we have more agents on the border than ever before. This sounds like quite the opposite of an deliberate attempt to open the borders.

When there was less of a fence and fewer patrols, border apprehensions peaked at almost 1.7 million in 2000 under President Clinton. By 2011, were at the lowest level since 1970. However, Obama has set a new record. According to TheNation:

Since taking the oath of office, Obama has deported immigrants at a faster rate than any other president in US history, nearly a record 2 million people. On a typical day, there are over 30,000 immigrants imprisoned in the world’s largest immigration detention system. – TheNation.com

One of the strategies in politics, is to make your opponent’s strengths look like a weakness. Palin has a convoluted way of approaching this strategy. Another strategy, being completely oblivious, is one of which Palin especially talented.

It’s the American worker who is forced to deal with Obama’s latest crisis with our hard-earned tax dollars while middle class wages decrease, sustainable jobs get more scarce, and communities become unrecognizable and bankrupted due to Obama’s flood of illegal immigration. -Sarah Palin

Perhaps Palin, is trying to get us to ignore the continued GOP Congressional support for tax cuts for the 1%, and decreases to welfare. And while not overwhelming, there is a sense among some 1%’ers that something is terribly wrong about the increasing economic disparity between the middle and upper class.

Palin claims that ‘Because of Obama’s purposeful dereliction of duty an untold number of illegal immigrants will kick off their shoes and come on in.’

Mind you, Obama’s record on immigration seems to be one that the GOP supports – increased fences, an all time high of border agents, an all time high of deportations. Palin’s claim that Obama has opened the floodgates simply is unfounded. If there was an deliberate attempt to let them in, why is he sending them back?

So typical of Palin, much of what she says doesn’t make much sense. For a Republican win solely on principle, Sarah Palin should be ecstatic about Obama’s immigration policy. It fits right in with what the GOP has been wanting for years.

But with a growing population of Hispanic voters in the US, Palin should calling for the exact opposite of Obama’s draconian immigration policy, that is if she wants to help the Republicans win elections.

Civil rights advocates are not ecstatic about Obama’s immigration policy, citing that deportation separates immigrants from their US citizen children, spouses and family. Obama had promised to limit deportations to criminals and gang members, but a New York Times analysis found that two-thirds of those he has deported have “committed minor infractions, including traffic violations, or had no criminal record at all.”

While his deportation policy continues beyond the 2 million mark, Obama is talking about reconsidering his policy. It is clear however, that his change of heart has nothing to do with the human rights aspect, as advocates have been making this argument about the US immigration policy for quite some time. What is different this year is politics, namely the upcoming midterm Election Day in November.

Democrats cannot take it for granted that they are the Party that represents Hispanics. When their President is referred to as the ‘Deporter-in-Chief,’ Democrats try a variety of deflections, such as the ‘just think how much worse things would be under Paul Ryan or Rand Paul’ line. All this twisting and shouting ignores the reality that Obama’s immigration policy could hurt Democrat candidates in this year’s midterm election, especially among Hispanic voters.

Obama seems to be cognizant of this. Back in March, Obama said that he wants to find a legal way to reduce the number of otherwise law-abiding families who are torn apart by deportation. It is not clear as to why he has waited this long to begin this kind of thinking. By the time he is able to turn these thoughts into legislation, it may be too late to convince Hispanic voters that the Democrats are on their side.

Burdened by the costs associated with enforcing federal immigration policy, cities are dropping out. According to Truth-Out, “The Immigrant Legal Resource Center has tracked more than 100 cities and counties that refuse to honor requests to detain immigrants on behalf of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).” Perhaps Palin is hoping to spin this opt-out as a poor reflection on Obama.

Throughout her article, Palin creates a laundry list of a variety Obama’s ‘impeachable’ offenses, such as meddling with court appointments, a decrease in middle class wages (as if she actually cared about that), claims that Obama’s ‘bipartisan elite want cheap labor to themselves within the confines of their gated communities, and of course, you cannot have a complete GOP complaint list without including something about welfare. I don’t know if Palin knows this or not, but just because you don’t like someone, this is not grounds for impeachment. I wonder if she even knows what the word ‘impeachment’ means.

Could it be that Palin is attempting to align herself with David Brat, who recently defeated Eric Cantor for Virginia’s 7th congressional district? Brat reportedly portrayed Cantor as supporting amnesty for young undocumented immigrants. It is suspected that Brat’s win will make any kind of immigration policy reform less likely to pass in Congress. Predicting such a defeat in Congress, perhaps Palin is playing the long game anticipating that she can look like she’s aligned with Brat.

Just how that will play with the voters is a more important consideration. A Pew Research Center poll on immigration found that “a large majority of the population — about 73 percent — believes undocumented immigrants should be given a way to remain in the country legally under certain circumstances.” Along established party lines, the support coming from Republicans is at 64 percent, while 81 percent of Democrats are in support of allowing immigrants to stay in the country with a path to citizenship. On the specific issue of deportation policy, it may be too close to tell what the voters wil be thinking about when they go to the polls with only a slim minority of whites (49%) supporting deportation and with 60% of Hispanics viewing deportations negatively. While slim on deportation, it looks like some sort of immigration overhaul toward amnesty will help whoever supports that position to win votes.

At the moment, Palin is getting what she wants, even if she is unaware Obama’s current immigration policy. Even so Palin is calling for impeaching Obama, on a variety of things, but it seems that immigration is her biggest misinformed gripe. And she is threatening members of her own party if they do not support it:

“we should vehemently oppose any politician on the left or right who would hesitate in voting for articles of impeachment.”

So, Paul Ryan, what do you say? Are you going to vote for Obama’s impeachment? How about you Rand Paul? If you believe Sarah Palin is an expert on immigration and impeachment, now might be your chance to position yourself away from Palin’s empty threat on your campaign to the White House.

On Matters of Tolerance, Acceptance, and Equality

By John Moseman, guest contributor
Edited by Jeremiah Bannister

Growing up in a conservative Christian home I always believed that we should tolerate but never accept something we knew to be wrong. However, as I look at the words acceptance and tolerance one thing strikes me, and it’s something I never wanted to believe but now do: tolerance does not allow for equality.

In fact, tolerance is nothing more than saying, “Well, I disagree but I won’t throw you in jail over it.” Tolerance usually means that one cannot respect the person or their views but does not actively seek to punish or hold it against them. In other words, it’s allowing for someone to be indifferent. Indifference can be good but it can also be bad and in this case, if someone is indifferent towards your rights or views, it can put us all in a hairy situation. If we are indifferently allowing or accepting people, then we risk there being either tyranny or infringement on all people. Being tolerant means I am not quite at the state of arresting you or punishing you… but I could be.

Now, we have to realize that in order to get respect we must at least respect others. Acceptance is respect, granting that even while you may disagree or disapprove, you can still given some sort of respect. If nothing else, acceptance is giving value to the rights we have. We must and should accept that people will be who they are and what they will stand for. Otherwise, we risk allowing for someone else to do the same to us. A person can accept someone as being an atheist or being gay or being different, and they can do this without 100% approval. It’s not so much a validation of their view or ideas, though, being more right than yours — as I once thought. Rather, it’s that they’re right to be who they are. Now this might mean being uncomfortable with some of the ways people express themselves; nonetheless, it allows people to be themselves and to express themselves.

(After all, freedom of speech has to be equally applied. In all reality, we are really talking more about rights than values, but it’s good to have them out in the open, if for no other reason than that we can learn from them.)

Acceptance is a vital key to equality and it’s even more important in establishing a society of rights. I suggest that more acceptance, not less, is the key to coming to terms with — and even healing — a terribly divided society. Acceptance is saying, “Yes, I grant that this human being has the right to be,” and by so doing, grants us that same right. In order to have rights, we have to give them — even if we personally feel that in doing so that we are doing wrong. Acceptance is the means we use not only to ensure that all people are respected, it’s also what assures people wishing to engage in debate or discussion that they have a place at the table. In short, acceptance is simply saying that people have a right to be themselves — and that includes ourselves, too! In this way, acceptance helps to promote equality. Equality is attained, after all, by allowing others to think, do, or say what you may personally feel they should not think, do, or say. It maintains our continued right to exercise our rights, including our right to disagreement.

Acceptance should not be defined as agreement because, if and when it is, no one will ever come to accept anything. Yes, acceptance means making allowances for things but it’s also more than that. If, for example, I accept people for who they are, I am saying that I am allowing them to be who they are and say what they wish (within reason). If I can accept my atheist friend Jeremiah Bannister for being who he is even though I disagree with his views, then I’m saying that I respect the freedom and right he has to embrace and advocate his views. Thus, he should (and hopefully would) turn around and extend the same courtesy to others he may happen to disagree with. It is unrealistic to say that there really shouldn’t be atheists, gay people, or anyone else that may disagree with me on my religious convictions.

It’s true, I’m entitled to believe the world might be better if people share my point of view. It is not rational, however, to suggest that in this world we should all be the same. Still, while it’s unreasonable to demand that everyone think and act the same, it’s not unreasonable to wish for people to be united on what is important — and that would definitely include the right, within reason and law, to live according to one’s own choosing. (But understand that words and choices have an impact on others!)

I can accept that many people do not (and will not) agree with me on politics, religion or morality, but that’s okay! I don’t believe in forcing my views. For to me, true equality can only begin once we accept people for who and what they are, not for who or what I may personally prefer them to be.

Read Moseman’s original post by visiting his site: The Real John Moseman.

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