eikonoklast

politics, culture, sexuality, religion

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

 
Loving Our Oppression

From Neil Postman, "Amusing Ourselves to Death," 1985:
We were keeping our eye on 1984. When the year came and the prophecy didn't, thoughtful Americans sang softly in praise of themselves. The roots of liberal democracy had held... But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell's dark vision, there was another, slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World"... Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally opposed oppression. But in Huxley's vision no Big Brother is required... As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think. What Orwell feared is those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book for there would be no one who wanted to read one... Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with the equivalent of the feelies, the orgy progy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy... In 1984, Huxley added people who are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.




posted by joe  # 9:44 AM

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

 
Marriage and the State

In a column in the Boston Globe (yes, the Globe), Jeff Jacoby argues that people who believe that people who love each other should be able to marry have it all wrong. Jacoby insists that the problem is we have forgotten the definition and purpose of marriage, which “is to unite men and women so that any children they may create or adopt will have a mom and a dad”. Ahhh! Thanks for the clarification, Jeff. No one had ever put it quite that way for me. I thought it was about love, commitment, and all that. The marriage traditionalists, do, though, keep coming back to procreation as the basis for marriage. They also say that with same-sex marriage we are seeing the state trying to define and shape marriage. The president of the USA says his job is to defend the “sacred institution” of marriage. Sacred institutions, of course are the bailiwick of churches, mosques, temples and synagogues, not the president of the United States. I honestly didn’t think it was the responsibility of the President to be chief theologian for the nation. I didn’t think it was the job of the government to define or protect what was “sacred” or holy. I go to church for that.

Of course, the truth is that the state has nearly always defined and shaped marriage. Just a glance at how the state has redefined divorce in the last fifty years gives lie to the claim that suddenly the state wants to do what it never has done (shape marriage). It is the state that defines marriage. Some time, some where, marriage may have meant simply providing a mommy and daddy, but in the United States today, marriage as defined and sanctioned civilly shapes inheritance, income tax filings, next of kin decisions, health care, insurance, custody and familial relations.

Some may say the church has always preached that marriage was divinely sanctioned, but in fact many in the early church discouraged marriage (see Paul). The official church in the west for centuries did not perform weddings, but blessed civil unions at the doors of the churches. The Abyssinian Church for centuries did not give church blessings to marriages until the grandchildren of the civilly married couple were baptized and being raised in the faith. Not the divine myth the traditionalists want us to swallow.
posted by joe  # 10:00 AM
 
Marriage and the State

In a column in the Boston Globe (yes, the Globe), Jeff Jacoby argues that people who believe that people who love each other should be able to marry have it all wrong. Jacoby insists that the problem is we have forgotten the definition and purpose of marriage, which “is to unite men and women so that any children they may create or adopt will have a mom and a dad”. Ahhh! Thanks for the clarification, Jeff. No one had ever put it quite that way for me. I thought it was about love, commitment, and all that. The marriage traditionalists, do, though, keep coming back to procreation as the basis for marriage. They also say that with same-sex marriage we are seeing the state trying to define and shape marriage. The president of the USA says his job is to defend the “sacred institution” of marriage. Sacred institutions, of course are the bailiwick of churches, mosques, temples and synagogues, not the president of the United States. I honestly didn’t think it was the responsibility of the President to be chief theologian for the nation. I didn’t think it was the job of the government to define or protect what was “sacred” or holy. I go to church for that.

Of course, the truth is that the state has nearly always defined and shaped marriage. Just a glance at how the state has redefined divorce in the last fifty years gives lie to the claim that suddenly the state wants to do what it never has done (shape marriage). It is the state that defines marriage. Some time, some where, marriage may have meant simply providing a mommy and daddy, but in the United States today, marriage as defined and sanctioned civilly shapes inheritance, income tax filings, next of kin decisions, health care, insurance, custody and familial relations.

Some may say the church has always preached that marriage was divinely sanctioned, but in fact many in the early church discouraged marriage (see Paul). The official church in the west for centuries did not perform weddings, but blessed civil unions at the doors of the churches. The Abyssinian Church for centuries did not give church blessings to marriages until the grandchildren of the civilly married couple were baptized and being raised in the faith. Not the divine myth the traditionalists want us to swallow.

posted by joe  # 2:31 AM

Friday, May 14, 2004

 
Prisons, Perceptions, the President

I have noticed among GOP folk three different responses to the prison “scandals” at Abu Graib. The first might be characterized by Dubya, John McCain, and a small number of GOP on the Hill. Dubya expressed regret that the abuses had taken place (once he got around to expressing anything). This first group seems to be sorry that any of the abuses happened.

The second group, given voice by Rumsfeld, express the regret that abuses happened, but also express regret that we ever found out. They are sorry people were tortured and abused, but just as sorry that we now know what was going on.

The third group is just sorry we found out. This group, whose opinion is so well articulated by such “minds” as Oklahoma’s Senator Jim Inhofe, Rush Limbaugh, and some not very memorable congressfolk from Alabama and California, is not upset at all that the prisoners were mistreated. They are upset that the rest of humanity is upset. They excuse the humiliation of the prisoners, saying that what they got was nothing compared to “what they did to us”. Presumably that refers to 911, which even the White House now admits has no connection to Iraq. These guys learned well from Goebbels…if you want a lie to be believed, just keep saying it over and over.

When I first heard Dubya express his regret and how upset he was and how he just didn’t know about it, I figured he was just saying what he “needed” to say. But, the more I thought about it, the more I believe he was at least partly honest. I don’t think he knows, because I don’t think he is in charge. War crimes aside, his being out of the loop is a fascinating thought.



posted by joe  # 4:13 AM

Sunday, May 09, 2004

 
President Bush says that the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American military guards is "a stain on our country's honor and reputation".
I guess that's two presidents in a row who have been involved with stains.
posted by joe  # 10:50 PM

Saturday, May 08, 2004

 
They have eyes but cannot see...ears but cannot hear... just a few years ago the religious right republicans were expressing their moral outrage at a stupid presidential affair...it was "deplorable," "reprehensible," "despicable," "disgusting," and " "revolting." the affair was such an act of depravity that they were sure we needed to impeach the guy.

now their own administration is seen torturing and sexually humiliating (and even raping) young men in Iraqi prisons (the same ones we condemned when Saddam was in power because he had people tortured, humiliated and even raped there ... but wait....)

somehow pictures that show American soldiers sexually humiliating Iraqis are quietly dismissed as "unfortunate", "fraternity-like" hazing.

somehow reports of rape by chemical flashlights are deemed "too bad"

somehow forcing a naked man to stand on a rations carton for three days in the middle of the prison is seen as a "miscommunication"

somehow raping soldiers in Saddam's raperooms is part of the way things are supposed to be in our liberation of Iraq....and those people aren't grateful enough ye!
wonder what happened to the moral outrage?

(o i know, even christian TV preachers are excusing these acts by equating them with 911....as if revenge were a christian value...)
posted by joe  # 2:35 PM

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