can’t see the forest

Environmentalism and the American Way

Posted in Environment, funadmentalism, green, Nature, News, Politics, USA by Curtis on 12/16/08

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A very interesting read by Janet Smith, found in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Report, highlights common attitudes on environmentalism among the U.S. ‘Far Right.’ The piece is probably well worth your time, but here are some highlights:

“Environment is not about saving nature,” the founder of Freedom Advocates, Michael Shaw, sternly warned an audience of antigovernment “Patriots” and far-right conspiracy theorists during a mid-July conference. “It’s about a revolutionary coup in America. [Environmentalism] is to establish global governance and abandon the principles of Natural Law.” Sustainable development policies, Shaw argued, will require “a police state” and ultimately “turn America into a globally governed homeland where humans are treated as biological resources.” . . .

. . .

This year’s conference linked up several of the far right’s bogeymen into one giant whopper of a conspiracy about sustainable development policies that attempt to protect the earth for future generations. The basic thesis pushed at Freedom 21 was that the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), a trade agreement between Canada, Mexico and the U.S. that includes some environmental requirements, is part of a nefarious and secret plan to merge the U.S, Canada and Mexico into something called the “North American Union” (NAU) — an entity which does not, in fact, exist, and has never been planned, despite the hysterical warnings of conspiracy theorists like Corsi.

The NAU, these theorists insist, will bring with it global government, and, most horrible of all, sustainable development policies. Sustainable development is the real evil lurking in the shadows of global government, according to the conference’s organizers; a wolf in sheep’s clothing, environmental policies really exist to destroy Americans’ freedoms and system of government.

“Freedom cannot be sustained in the presence of ‘sustainable development.’ The two concepts are mutually exclusive,” Freedom 21 materials insist. “Sustainable development can exist only when people are controlled by government.” . . .

My penchant for dark humor compels me to ask these people in exactly what ways they feel they are not currently being “controlled” by one of the most bellicose, plutocratic, anti-democratic governments in the world.

Among other charges leveled at environmental activists—even at mere oxygen-breathing enthusiasts, one almost feels—was that of ‘pantheism,’ and thereby the severing of humankind from God’s word. Sheesh.

Yet, underneath the cacophonous hysteria, it bears mentioning that the ‘patriots’ at Freedom 21 are actually hinting at a fairly salient fundamental point about the human living condition, one which their obstinacy unfortunately obscures.

Perhaps the most important lesson that environmentalism teaches us—a lesson well-known (and sometimes learned the hard way) among primitive peoples for countless ages—is that ‘freedom’ is a relative concept. We should strive to be as free as possible in the most meaningful imaginable sense, but with the knowledge that we cannot be absolutely free to do as we wish if we are to leave future generations an Earth which is worth inhabiting. If that is ‘Earth worship,’ please count me in among the heathen pagans who are, out of the very sort of patriotism we are accused of sorely lacking, ready and willing to admit that the so-called ‘American Way’ has, in more ways than one, frequently proved far from the best way in dealing with matters interior and exterior.

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Mission imPropable

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A Christian church in San Diego, California has posted an apologetic billboard regarding the passing of Proposition 8:

prop-8-sorry1

Where I live, those couldn’t be considered real Christians.

(via Queerty)

My problem with Proposition 8 is this: one can claim all day long that “the people spoke,” and indeed they did. But the Fourteenth Amendment has this cool feature known as the Equal Protection Clause, you see, one important purpose of which is to ensure that states are not able to step over the line of equal protection under the law that is supposed to be guaranteed by the federal government.

It strikes me that it ought to be part of such a provision that the people of a state—especially acting through referendum—ought not be able to just randomly f&*k about with what constitutes equal protection, and which people of what sexual preference deserve it. Leave that to the “activist” judges. Otherwise—call me crazy—we’ve just set a legal precedent for asserting that murder is only when a black person kills a white person, or, for that matter, that a homosexual is only 3/5 of a citizen. You know, for purposes of enumeration and what not.

Because of the way legal process works, it makes sense to me that state governments should to be able to make inclusive provisions regarding the EPC. Exclusive provisions such as this one are a different matter entirely and I daresay should be taken rather more seriously before being tacked right on to the end of a constitution.

I expected the vote on Prop 8 to be fairly close, purely from glancing over California demographics. Even so, I was shocked when it actually passed, and more than a little worried, since California is often looked to for leadership by progressives across the nation. I suppose it just goes to show you that there unfortunately are narrow-minded ass-hats wherever you go, even on my beloved West Coast. But my issue isn’t necessarily just that the measure passed. It’s that it was legislatively dealt with as it was, period.

You Learn Your Bible and You Learn It Good. This is America.

Posted in free speech, Fundamentalism, News, Politics, Religion, USA by Curtis on 9/25/07

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The New Humanist blog reports that Steve Bitterman, a history instructor at an Iowa community college, was fired after encouraging his students not to take the Biblical fable of Adam and Eve too literally and after referring to the story, in passing, as a ‘fairy tale’ during a conversation with a student:

Steve Bitterman, a teacher at Southwestern Community College, Red Oak, Iowa, was fired after he urged his pupils not to take the story of Adam and Eve literally. Bitterman was teaching a western civilisation course and often used extracts from the Old Testament as part of his lessons, but urged students to look beyond a literal interpretation of what he views as an “extremely meaningful story”, believing such a reading would miss much of the poetic, metaphoric and symbolic content. After class, he also made the mistake of referring to the story as a “fairy tale” during a conversation with a student. . .

. . .Bitterman said: “I’m just a little bit shocked myself that a college in good standing would back up students who insist that people who have been through college and have a master’s degree, a couple actually, have to teach that there were such things as talking snakes or lose their job. . .From my point of view, what they’re doing is essentially teaching their students very well to function in the eighth century.”

The teacher acknowledged that the story is rich in cultural, metaphorical, and symbolic value, and insists that he did not want his students to miss that value due to über-literal interpretation.

But a group from Bitterman’s class filed a complaint that the teacher was “denigrating their religion,” and the college administration was reluctant to comment on the matter.