The 30-Second Love Filter: Myth Or Truth?

A while back I read something along the lines of “women know within half a minute whether or not they will ever have a relationship with someone”. For “relationship with” read “have sex with,” as the rest of the article was, if memory serves, far less coy.

I’m starting to wonder if it is true.

First of all, I have to say up front that when I don’t feel attractive, it takes a lot for my libido switch even to be in the “idle” position, never mind “on.” I haven’t felt terribly attractive on a number of levels lately. I’m living in my dead grandmother’s house, which is depressing enough, but it’s also a dump. It was neglected while she was alive because she was legally blind due to macular degeneration and constitutionally ill-disposed towards even minor changes. Now that she’s no longer with us, it’s still neglected because my mother has conflicting attitudes about it. On the one hand, she wants to sell it (for more than twice what it is worth), but isn’t clear on when the selling may happen. On the other, it’s her mom’s old house and she doesn’t want to change anything at all, so it can remain a museum of sorts. I moved a table and sofa around in the den a year after my grandmother died and she took months to accept even this minor change. Then, after all that ruckus about that minor change, she gives away most of the better furniture (including items I’d begged for). Lastly, she is starting to redo her OWN house, so every so often I get crap dumped in the mostly-bare dining room that I don’t have time to deal with. Much of it is my old high school art and yearbooks and crap that I’m not particularly attached to, but I know that she didn’t toss them because she does have a little attachment to them and assumes I do as well. She also has gone on toss-and-purge sprees in the past and thrown out things I actually DO care about, so I’m not willing to just assume that everything in the bags and boxes is expendable or worthless. It probably is, but who knows?

I gained weight caring for my grandmother, and while I’m at the national average for my height, I’m used to being about 20 pounds under average, and since I have a very small frame (I can wear size 4 and 3/4 rings on my left hand ring finger, for example), this didn’t mean I was anorexic. Grandmother was a medical anorexic, meaning that there was no psychological hinkiness going on, she just was less and less interested in food and had to be plied with the most fattening food possible. Key Lime pie comes to mind as a big fave. A slice of Key Lime pie probably has 2,500 calories in it, thanks to the massive amounts of sugar needed to make limes sweet and the condensed milk, and that’s if you don’t eat the crust.

Another unpleasant change is the new worry marks I have engraved in my forehead. I haven’t had much to smile about for the past few years, and have had a LOT to worry about (and a lot of constant stress), and my face shows it. I am starting to think that Botox might not be such a horrible idea if it keeps me from looking tired, pained and anxious all the time. Even if I am tired, pained and anxious 90% of the time, I don’t have to have my face shout it out.

So I’m living in a crappy place I’d be ashamed to bring friends over to see, and I feel fat and wrinkly, though recent photographs show that a lot of that is me obsessing over stupid stuff and making unfair comparisons to my former self. It’s not great, but I certainly am not a haggard old piece of shoe leather. (Fat shoes’ leather.)

I daydream sometimes about setting up my next place. This is what I used to enjoy about playing The Sims. Not the game-related play of keeping them from peeing on the floor or incinerating themselves while attempting to boil water…but the cheap architectural CAD the game allowed me to play with. Admittedly, everything was limited to two stories and 45- or 90-degree angle walls at the time, but a number of folks worked overtime on various cheats and dodges and clever innovations that got around the limitations. So I’d make living environments with Oriental furniture, Mod furniture, classic Queen Anne-style furniture, “Victoriana” / Goth furniture (because there was actually a “Goth Family” in the game) and lavish gardens and water features. I’m too busy to play with the game anymore, so all my interior decorating these days goes on in my brain.

As for the clutter I’m dealing with (too much crap, too little space), I went on a minor purge this week and set aside a lot of crap I’ve been holding on to for years…mostly clothes. It’s not coming back in style, no matter how cute it is. I suspect that wearing clothes from the eighties when I was in my twenties was okay because it was assumed to be a fashion choice. Wearing clothes from the eighties and nineties now is going to be interpreted as “out-of-touch older person doesn’t give a crap about looking nice.” Thank goodness over-sized, baggy and tight, extremely-low-rise pants are going out of style, because I couldn’t bring myself to show off my underwear and visually inflate my lower half even for the sake of being stylish. It’s an ugly look. Not that the super-high-rise pants on the runways are much better. Hello, happy medium, anyone? I refuse to buy Mom Jeans just so I don’t have a belt buckle scratching my boobs or half my ass crack on display.

But I digress.

The point is, I am not looking to meet new people. I’m even leery of expanding on the relationships with classmates, because in the back of my mind, I’m already OUTTA HERE. The worst double-edged sword would be to meet the love of my life down here and find out he doesn’t want to leave. So I’m not looking. I don’t buy into “The One” myth, and whereas I have bleak days where I wonder if I am too persnickety to meet Mr Right-For-Me any time soon (meaning, shortly after I leave this town), that frisson of panic doesn’t make me want to start “hunting.”

Fact is, my libido switch is, for the first time in my life, set firmly to “off” and partially that’s because I’m patient to a fault and am apparently putting things on hold until I can escape Savannah. Patient to a fault because I’m taking things in stride and making token efforts to fix stuff that’s bothering me because nothing is more important than getting my degree and getting on with my life. Need shelves? Buy one, not the four I need. Want a pet cat? Must wait. Relocating with an animal is tougher, I already HAVE an animal to focus on, and I prefer my pets to deal with the same vet from day one if possible. Night life? No time. Every week there’s a paper, a project, a website, writing and editing assignments, some household-related headache…I’m already tired and I have no steady income. I can’t afford to splash out on entertainment. I consider it frivolous to buy a book, rather than borrowing a big pile of them from the library.

Last time I discused this, I was in grad school and a lot of this rambling was inspired in part by this man working on his thesis project (supposedly, though I only ever see him surfing the web). He took an inexplicable shine to me (inexplicable because I had never spoken to him before and was always focused on my work and classes). My routine was such that if I was up for a mental break, then I was outside chit-chatting there. If I was inside, I was working, so should be left alone to work.

This man NEVER approached me outside. He came up behind me and scared the hell out of me each time, because I was usually engrossed in my work. He stopped and tried to draw me out for a chat DURING MY CLASSES. He asked personal questions and lobbed undeserved flattering remarks my way that praised personal qualities that I may have, but which he couldn’t have known from merely being on the same floor of a four-story building on a semi-regular basis.

He was also clearly interested in me, and not in a buddy way. I was perplexed, frankly. I looked like hell, I was not sending out any vibes at all, I was all-business and focused on my work more often than not (I tended to chat socially with my professors more than my peers, though there were a half dozen or so people I had classes with several times and I got the impression they liked me and respected my work; I’m still in touch with some of them.)

If he had ever approached me outside when I was talking with friends or having a smoke or whatever, I wouldn’t be so chapped. He never did. He consistently just appeared from behind me, lavished overly friendly attention my way, and took a long time to get a hint. I decided not to stop what I was doing though I was polite…I just kept on working. Even when I did pause to chat, I had never held a personal or deep conversation with him, or one lasting more than five minutes.

I know, however, if I had found him even remotely attractive, I MIGHT have been tempted to be a lot more friendly. That’s where the 30-second relationship filter comes in. I can’t manufacture pheromones and attraction where none exist, and I’ll never be lonely enough to derail my attempts to get out of town as fast as I can. I’m over it all. I want to be done. I have a lot more to learn, but I want to just KNOW it and be looking for a JOB already.

I knew within 30 seconds (or less) that he not only wasn’t anywhere near what I typically like in the opposite sex (which I could tell at first glance), but I also didn’t click with his personality. He seemed to mean well and to be nice enough, but I think that when he inadvertently disrespected my professor by wandering in during a studio hour, when the whole class was busily working on projects, and tried to strike up a conversation…it was uncool and I was pissed off. It may not have been that inadvertent, either. He worked on the same floor constantly and it was fairly obvious when there was a class in session ten feet away from your work station. His need to flirt with me was greater than my need to actually learn something and get the assistance from my professor that I paid $150 an hour per class session for…and $150 is more than I spend on groceries and toiletries a month. It’s more than I MAKE per month. It’s all student loans.

(So much for my mom’s promise to pay for my education if I came down to help with grandmother, incidentally. She went from agreeing to pay for the standard three classes a quarter, which would have had me out of here last April and which she never did, to bitching about paying for one, to not contributing a penny towards my education at all. Which is typical.)

Anyway, it’s illogical to the extreme, perhaps, but I was really put off by a man being pleasant towards me, and annoyed with myself for being annoyed. It wasn’t the interest in me that was the problem, though I certainly am in no mood to be the recipient of someone’s unrequited crush at the moment. I’ve been there before, and I’ve dealt with a good friend’s annoyance when a so-called Nice Guy (secretly a self-absorbed, secretly egomaniacal, socially maladjusted guy with book smarts and a veneer of etiquette) refused to get a hint that she was Not Ever Going To be Interested In Him, Damn It, Get A Fucking Clue. (Later the same guy decided that the perfect time to hit on ME was when I was upset over breaking up with the guy who was, at that point, the love of my life. Hadn’t ever shown interest before, mind, but I was clearly emotionally distraught and in a vulnerable state, and he figured it was worth a try to hit on the crying girl (me), who happened to be VERY CLOSE to the girl he’d annoyed and chased for, what, ten or so years? Smoooooooooth. And, if it isn’t clear, he is NOT so “nice”. And, annoyingly, I then had to deal with not hurting HIS feelings at the same time MY feelings were already shredded by my ex, all because he got rejected for making the world’s worst-timed pass in history and had a huge sulk about it. Because it was all about him.)

So. Sorry. Where was I?

Was my reaction due to the 30-second Love Filter? A knee-jerk response to his rudeness directed towards my professor, me and my classmates for trying to conduct personal chitchat during class time? (More than once! Once or twice, I forgave, but didn’t like. Third time it happened, it was clearly rudeness or obliviousness, neither of which I like.) Was it a reaction based on witnessing and being a victim of clueless (Not-Really-Very-)Nice Guy dumb-assery in the past?

Is it just that I’m unhappy with how I am and not currently motivated enough to fix everything I hate about myself all at once? (I have no free time, gah!)

I don’t know.

I do know that the half-minute filter does seem to work. At least for me. I may warm up to someone as a friend after some time, but if there’s no initial “hey, you’re kinda cute!” [™, Schoolhouse Rock “Interjections” voice actress) reaction, I don’t date them. Even if there’s no pause for reflection and an awareness that I find someone cute, such as when I’m dating someone else and there’s my man and every other male on the planet is just some guy who happens not to be a girl, it’s still true that I won’t ever date someone if I don’t find them attractive. The acid test, even when there’s only one man on the planet, as far as I’m concerned, is if I am asked and realize that yeah, I’d describe so-and-so as cute. There can be Cute Guys I perhaps won’t date due to age differences or other incompatibilities, but there are no Not Cute (To Me) guys that I WILL eventually date.

I won’t even get into the occasional guilt that stems from having very choosy aesthetic tastes when it comes to guys. It’s not that I aim too high; I just sometimes wonder if I’m being too picky and not giving guys a fair shot. (Has that EVER worked for ANYone? REALLY?)

I suppose I’m mostly sad that I see male attention, even if it is unwanted and ill-timed, as being a kvetch-worthy topic. Then again, my life has never revolved around seeking male attention at all costs. *insert shrug here*

How soon do you know when someone’s a potential date-worthy acquaintance? Right away? Weeks? Do you accept dates from people you KNOW you aren’t attracted to? I find that I rarely date even when I am “on the market” because I tend to prefer to get to know people beforehand and they tend to have insurmountable issues (usually not-so picky things, such as “doesn’t like karaoke” or “is bald” (I have a slight Good Male Hair fetish thing going)…BIG issues like “smokes crack on a regular basis” or “has girlfriend” or “sleeps with anything with a pulse regardless of gender, usually while wasted, ergo probably has a scary social disease or three” or “is alcoholic” or “hates cats, kicks dogs, is nasty to little old ladies” or “has nasty passive-aggressive sense of humor”, et cetera) and it’s not worth the job-interview aspect of an Official DATE-Date to put up with it all. Friends? Sure, why not. Potential partners? Don’t think so. ESPECIALLY if they are cute. Hormones are stupid, I don’t need them convincing me that “hey, he only smokes crack every other week, but he’s otherwise a nice young man,” know what I mean? That crack thing, it is a deal breaker.

Apparently disrespecting my professor and scaring the pee out of me while I’m working are also deal breakers, but the 30-second Filter had already vetoed any chance of future Boyfriendness.

Is it just me? Do other people do this?

Remembering The Crocodile Hunter

Never thought Steve Irwin would be barbed to death by a sting ray. Croc hors d’oeurvre? Sure. Actor Sharon Stone’s guy got chomped on by a Komodo dragon, so that was a possibility. Big-ass pissed-off anaconda (on a plane)? Maybe. Shark? Well, okay. He didn’t play with sharks much, though, right?

But…buh…whuh…?

A sting ray? The little rubbery guys that swim around and around at Sea World down in Florida? They look sort of like grey washcloths with tails? Right. I’ve touched those things. They can’t be the same species that did in the Croc Hunter. Right?

How bizarre.

Dubya almost chokes to death on a pretzel and lives, the Croc Hunter is taken out by a amphibious pot holder and dies. You know he was aware that sting rays had a pointy end. It’s just depressing. It’s not like he was a Darwin Award nominee doing something stupid around wild animals, like, say, covering a child’s hand in honey so a wild grizzly bear will lick it for an Oh So KAH-YOOT!!!! picture. (Hand up if you got called “Stumpy” in high school!)

That’s just not right. Too bad Death isn’t like Terry Pratchett’s Discworld-dwelling DEATH, who might be amenable to a less stupid cause of death in exchange for a funnier one. I’m just saying, he could be reasoned with.

“YOU’RE RIGHT, A STING RAY IS NOT FUNNY ENOUGH. HOW ABOUT IF HE GETS BONKED ON THE HEAD WITH A BRASS CROCODILE BY AN IRATE DWARF OR SOMETHING?”

Right on, DEATH, that would be displaying a proper ironic twist.

“I’M VERY GOOD AT WHAT I DO, YOU KNOW.”

The day Irwin died, “Crikey” was, apparently, the obligatory headline for all 4,000 people I interact with online on a daily basis, all of whom had something to say about Steve Irwin’s death. I am not kidding.

There was a person who said it was sad that the children would ‘only’ have their dad around on video…um…I wish I had something more than three or four short, muffled, background comments being made by my (late) dad left hanging around on something better than a corroding cassette tape from the mid-1970s and FIVE blurry or black and white photos, total. That’s it. Of course, I have always looked just like him…except I’m not a bald guy. 🙂 I feel bad for Irwin’s kids and widow, but I think that as far as memories go, they at the very least got very lucky that their dad was filmed for a living.

And his daughter? Couldn’t be cuter. She reminds me of my nieces.

Things That Lack Grace And Dignity

Certain situations will always look completely silly, no matter what the circumstances may be, and no matter how otherwise cool the people involved might be. Since nearly everyone will have to endure these situations at least once in life, you try to be sympathetic and allow the person involved in the situation to maintain their cool, but sometimes the situation is so funny that the only appropriate response is laughter. Knowing this, we all still attempt to be dignified, and it usually can’t be done.

It’s Hard To Be Cool While:

Walking on Ice. Everyone starts shuffling around like geriatric shuffleboard players in slippers. For maximum hilarity, add proper business attire, a briefcase, an umbrella, a brisk wind, and an overpriced caffeinated beverage. When the inevitable happens (someone walking along clumsily like Frankenstein suddenly butt-plants on the sidewalk), you may be polite enough not to laugh at them immediately, but later on, your colleagues or friends will be asking you, “What the hell is so funny?!” and be annoyed when you can’t explain yourself.

Discovering Toilet Paper On Your Shoe. Oh God. OH GOD. How long has that THING been following you around? Was that there when you were trying to flirt with that person in the coffee shop?!

Eating a Hot Dog. Cue the bow-chicka-wow-wow soundtrack, because that is never going to look sophisticated.

Stalling Your Car In An Intersection. Oh, so humiliating, especially if you manage to do this in the middle of rush hour traffic. Bonus points if everyone behind you starts honking…because honking their horns is definitely going to magically repair your stupid car. Seriously.

Snorting Anything. No matter how cool you are, no matter how much disposable income you have, no matter how fashionable you are, you don’t look good vacuuming white powder into your sinuses. You may think you look incredibly hip and daring, but in real life you’re just a dork snorting powder through a straw jammed up his nose. Bonus points if you’re dumb enough to try and turn your leftovers into crack. I’ve seen it. It’s the most unsexy thing in the world.

Missing a Step. Don’t you hate that? You either fall down or clack your teeth together like a marionette. Wow, that’s no fun.

Owning a Phil Collins Record. There’s no social recovery possible from this faux pas. Maybe you can pretend it belonged to the roommate who moved out last month. Yeah, that’s the ticket. It was Morgan Fairchild’s.

Queefing. Fart-like noises are mortifying enough when they come out of the appropriate orifice. Certain personal areas are just not supposed to make that sound. But sometimes they do.

Sleeping In A Moving Vehicle. All the fun of bedhead and dry mouth without the bed. It’s fun when you come to and discover that your mouth has been open for miles and miles. And you have drooled. And, judging from the annoyeed glances being aimed your way, you know you were probably snoring, too. Don’t add to the embarrassment by pretending you were teleported there against your will and had nothing to do with the situation by asking the usual questions…”What happened? Where am I? How long was I asleep?” Long enough.

Recovering A Contact Lens. Where did it go? Is it on the floor? Is it stuck to your clothes? Did you fling it across the room? Is it hiding somewhere down your shirt, inside your brasseire? Hurry, hurry, it’s drying out and getting more and more germy! WHERE IS IT? Time to crawl around on your hands and knees and pray it didn’t land in the toilet. Because if it did, there’s no way it’s going back in your eye. Ever. FUCK! Stupid contact lens!! Where IS i…oh, great. It’s hitched a ride on a strand of hair. Ugh.

Getting To Your Seat At A Movie, Concert, or Sporting Event. Choices: do you display your butt or your crotch to total strangers? How many will you step on? Is this even the right row? Gah.

Unexpected Nausea. Pretty self explanatory, I think.

Dressing Up As The Easter Bunny. Maybe this one is just my personal experience. It’s humiliating. For now, that will suffice.

Setting Off The Smoke Alarm. Whether you were smoking where you shouldn’t smoke, or whether you’re a really crappy cook, this one always gets everyone really excited for about five minutes. And then you’re the goat. No one likes the smoke alarm when there isn’t really a fire.

Forgetting Someone’s Name. You can compound the error if the person you have forgotten is someone you have dated and / or with whom you have had sex. Groo.

Getting Caught Naked. There’s a reason this is one of the most anxiety-provoking dreams your subconscious with which can taunt you. In real life, time stops when you are caught naked. It doesn’t matter if you are alone or not alone. The person or people who caught you naked will stare. You will cringe. They (after about six or seven years) will eventually leave. You may or may not ever have the humiliating conversation about it later. MUCH later.

Locking Yourself Out Of The House (Or Car). There’s just no way to look cool and hep while hanging out on your own front stoop looking clueless. As an added bonus, if you manage to lock yourself out of your car these days, what with all the built-in bells and whistles that make it extremelydifficult to do, you will have to endure the mockery of a man who gets paid four or five times what you make an hour to unlock locks that the stupid have managed to lock. I hope this never happens to me.

Your Dog Humps Someone’s Leg. This is even more excruciating if you’re trying to, you know, impress them and ask them out on a date. Not only are they unlikely to remember you fondly, your dog just got far more action than you would probably have gotten. This is one reason why I do not own a dog.

There’s No Toilet Paper In The Public Restroom Stall. Oh god. Now what? Hope you aren’t in a hurry or anything. Should you risk The Duck Walk into the next stall? Should you wait and try to entice a total stranger into handing you some bumwipe?

You Accidentally Tucked Your Skirt Into Your Underwear Or Pantyhose. Charming. No one will ever forget you.

You Splash Water On Your Crotch While Washing Your Hands. This is never an attractive look. Women can laugh it off a little more easily than men can…but not by much.

Food On Your Face. I’ve known a few people who seem to have no nerve endings near their mouths. Scraps of food migrate away from the mouth and end up perching proudly on chins, cheeks, lips, you name it. No one looks pretty with a ramen noodle dangling off their nose.

Emotional Breakdowns In Public. People still insist on breaking up with their significant others in public. Are they stupid or cruel? There’s going to be sobbing and maybe shouting and perhaps even some pathetic begging. For the love of all that’s holy and good, remember that you once cared about the person you are dumping and do it in private. Have some compassion.

Being Forced To Evaluate The Quality Of Total Strangers’ Undergarment Choices. Please don’t wear that thong-tha-thong-thong-thong. Not with those enormous, baggy, low-rise hip-hugging pants. It’s too much information.

You know who else lacks Grace? Zed. ‘Cause Zed’s dead, baby. Zed’s dead.

Attack Of The Glurgemonster

Everyone has received some weird e-mail spam at least once. The worst of the lot are so-called “inspirational” or “heart-warming” tales. If I want inspirational, I’ll read a biography about Gandhi or Helen Keller. If I want heart-warming, I’ll get take-out from Taco Bell and add lots of hot sauce.

My cousin S. is one of the worst offenders, frequently sending me Jesus-related spam. Jesus apparently doesn’t mind being misquoted and used to back the Conservative Christian political agenda. Who knew? I thought he was a long-haired, bearded Jewish hippie carpenter who liked feeding people, supporting being kind to your neighbors and offering free healthcare, and who wasn’t keen on money-changers, the rich, or government.

A cute little rant called “If I Were The Devil” (often falsely attributed to Paul Harvey) started circulating the Internet in 1999. Eventually a new rant from an opposing viewpoint was penned and circulated in response. So what would happen if we put both rants side by side, line by line? We’d have a SPAM FIGHT!

And it begins….now. (Remember, each point of view is saying what he or she would do IF The Devil actually existed, and IF s/he was The Devil. If you forget that part, the following makes little sense.)

CONSERVATIVE and LIBERAL, in unison: If I were the devil, I would gain control of the most powerful nation in the world;

CONSERVATIVE: …I would delude their minds into thinking that they had come from man’s effort, instead of God’s blessings;
LIBERAL: …I would delude their minds into thinking that a 3000-year-old collection of superstition and mythology called the ‘Bible’ was a more valid guide to the modern world than reason and science;

CONSERVATIVE: …I would promote an attitude of loving things and using people, instead of the other way around;
LIBERAL: …I would promote an attitude of valuing economic expansion and personal wealth over people and the environment, instead of the other way around;

CONSERVATIVE: …I would dupe entire states into relying on gambling for their state revenue;
LIBERAL: …I would dupe an entire population into placing the greatest tax burden on their poorest citizens;

CONSERVATIVE: …I would convince people that character is not an issue when it comes to leadership;
LIBERAL: …I would convince people that image rather than achievement was the most important issue when it comes to leadership;

CONSERVATIVE: …I would make it legal to take the life of unborn babies;
LIBERAL: …I would ensure that men maintained control over women’s bodies and sexuality;

CONSERVATIVE: …I would make it socially acceptable to take one’s own life, and invent machines to make it convenient;
LIBERAL: …I would make it socially acceptable to deny terminally ill patients the right to end their own lives with dignity, and instead force them to spend their final days in continual pain and suffering;

CONSERVATIVE: …I would cheapen human life as much as possible so that the life of animals are valued more than human beings;
LIBERAL: …I would promote the exploitation and suffering of animals as much as possible, so that business profits would be valued more than treating living things humanely;

CONSERVATIVE: …I would take God out of the schools, where even the mention of His name was grounds for a lawsuit;
LIBERAL: …I would coerce schoolchildren into worshiping my god and call it “freedom of religion”;

CONSERVATIVE: …I would come up with drugs that sedate the mind and target the young, and I would get sports heroes to advertise them;
LIBERAL: …I would come up with drugs that sedate the mind and target the old, and I would get B-list celebrities to advertise them and I would criminalize marijuana;

CONSERVATIVE: …I would get control of the media, so that every night I could pollute the mind of every family member for my agenda;
LIBERAL: …I would get control of the government by stealing elections and leading the country into unnecessary wars, so that I could twist the laws of the nation to suit my agenda;

CONSERVATIVE: …I would attack the family, the backbone of any nation.
LIBERAL: …I would attack minorities, foreigners, women, homosexuals, and every other powerless group, the backbone of any nation;

CONSERVATIVE: …I would make divorce acceptable and easy, even fashionable. If the family crumbles, so does the nation;
LIBERAL: …I would force couples to remain in unworkable marriages. Unhappy people are easier to control;

CONSERVATIVE: …I would compel people to express their most depraved fantasies on canvas and movie screens, and I would call it art;
LIBERAL: …I would suppress freedom of speech and expression, and I would call it protecting society;

CONSERVATIVE: …I would convince the world that people are born homosexuals, and that their lifestyles should be accepted and marveled;
LIBERAL: …I would convince the world that people choose to be homosexuals, and that their lifestyles should be reviled and demonized;

CONSERVATIVE: …I would convince the people that right and wrong are determined by a few who call themselves authorities and refer to their agenda as politically correct;
LIBERAL: …I would convince the people that right and wrong are determined by a few bigoted religious zealots who refer to their agenda as Christian;

CONSERVATIVE: …I would persuade people that the church is irrelevant and out of date, and the Bible is for the naive and I would dull the minds of Christians, and make them believe that prayer is not important, and that faithfulness and obedience are optional;
LIBERAL: …I would persuade people that the Bible, a book that condones xenophobia, slavery, subordination of women, and stoning people to death, is a relevant guide to modern life;

CONSERVATIVE and LIBERAL, in unison: I guess I would leave things pretty much the way they are.

Christianity Is Not Under Attack or Endangered, So You Can Relax

One of my favorite Facebook friends is Christian and (not to put words in his mouth) apparently feels a little bit uncomfortable when atheists discuss atheism and/or criticize Christianity. (Again, this is a nice person who seems to grok what Jesus said in the Bible about being decent to other human beings and I am not trying to say otherwise.)

I posted a slightly snarky someecards image to my Wall, and my friend was inspired to comment on it.

He recently said (among other things): “I don’t feel “threatened”, per se….sometimes, though, I feel like atheists and agnostics are downright angry when a person presents as a Christian…and it’s interesting that they won’t act like that with a Buddhist, Muslim or Hindu. I kinda feel like Christianity is under attack…likely because so many “Christians” have acted badly and with hypocrisy.”

And:  

“I just wondered… I don’t put down atheists. Why do they keep putting me down? Does cynicism make up for old persecutions? I guess it’s okay then. As a believer, I do apologize for the Christians who act crappy and superior and repressive. But I don’t do that… I wish people would stop inferring I’m stupid for being Christian. But, I’ll live. ‎…and I’m not really expecting an answer…not sure there is one… We humans are consciously or subconsciously motivated by 1,000 forms of fear. Religious people are frightened of atheists. Atheists are frightened of religious people….and NEITHER ONE can PROVE their positions….or disprove them. I think fear is generated by the unknown and our desire not to be foolish. I don’t mind if someone doesn’t believe in God. I wish THEY didn’t mind that I do. And I promise, personally, to NEVER inflict or impose my beliefs on anyone. That’s why I jealously guard America’s freedom OF religion….AND…freedom FROM religion.”

See? He’s a pretty awesome guy. The problem here is that he’s also feeling some hurt and offense, which is not cool.

My response:

I’m going to say some stuff in a nice tone of voice, which may be hard to “hear” online, but I swear I am saying this all very kindly, and with the intention of responding to your apparent bepuzzlement re: why some atheists / agnostics / other faiths might get a wee bit cranky at Christians when they claim they feel “attacked.”

If you are not currently living in an oppressive Muslim theocracy, you are most likely NOT being “attacked” for being a Christian.

Atheists are generally “live and let live” kind of folks but when theists (believers) make a point of dominating the political and cultural landscape, some atheists do get a wee bit cranky about it. Here’s a thought exercise to try: Compare this to having a neighbor with shitty musical taste. When he (for the sake of argument, it will be a he) plays his music at a reasonable decibel level in his own home, you don’t give a crap WHAT he listens to. When, conversely, he opens every window and blasts it to the whole neighborhood from car or house, the fact that you don’t like Juggalo music or Justin Bieber is suddenly going to become relevant to the amount of irritation you feel being stuck living next door to someone with shitty musical taste. You are likely to be moved to express your opinion about it or to blast your own non-shitty music right back.

When you are an atheist in the United States, it is like your entire neighborhood has the WORST musical taste EVER and also like they simply can’t enjoy their music quietly in their own home but instead have to throw open all their windows and doors and “share” their terrible music with you whether you like it or not and they do so at all hours of the day or night. There is no escape from it, ever. If you move away to a neighborhood with fewer neighbors with crappy musical taste (and this is not something you can know for sure in advance), it only takes ONE GUY playing Slipknot loud enough to drown out jet planes landing to irritate you.

What’s worse? You have no recourse. If you call the cops on your loud neighbor who won’t stop it with the Kenny G and the klezmer bands, and won’t turn it down or shut his windows, you’ll find that the cop is a huge Kenny G fan and won’t understand why you can’t just deal with it.

And that is what it feels like to be atheist in a predominantly theist society. If you choose to blast your own music back, at the same volume, you are seen as the bad guy. You’re the abrasive, obnoxious, argumentative, bad person. All because you were sharing YOUR music just as freely as your neighbor was sharing his. It turns out that this is equally annoying to the other neighbors who hate your neighbor’s shitty musical taste and don’t like the atheist’s taste, either. You are both seen as irritating. Worse, because atheists are a minority and fewer people like their musical taste (lack of belief), they have less support when doing the exact same thing their theist neighbors do all the time (loudly broadcasting their taste publicly). Not fair, but that’s how it goes.

Anyway, in the US, it is the theists who are free to entertain the entire country with their horrible musical taste, and it turns out that since the majority of the population happens to like the same stuff, you’re kind of stuck if you don’t.

If everyone kept their music to a reasonable volume in their own house, or gathered together at the same concerts but refrained from inflicting their musical taste on everyone else at all times, I doubt anyone would complain at all. But that’s not how it works.

Most theists DO keep their music (their beliefs) personal and confined within their own homes or at concert halls (religious gathering sites like churches and temples and mosques). It’s the loud minority of theists who do not, and insist that everyone else tolerate music (beliefs) they don’t like that get atheists upset. And, again, most atheists quietly go about their business and tolerate the aural assault of inescapable bad music (religious beliefs they do not share), but there is also a vocal minority who have just HAD IT and are now insisting on blasting their own music (lack of religious belief) just as loudly.

At any rate, that’s one way to look at it. But, really, theists have no reason to worry.

You can rest easy about your Christianity supposedly being under “attack”  (it isn’t) when: 

  •  the dominant religion in the United States is Christian. (From Wikipedia: “”The majority of Americans (60% to 76%) identify themselves as Christians, mostly within Protestant and Catholic denominations, accounting for 51% and 25% of the population respectively. Non-Christian religions (including Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism etc.), collectively make up about 3.9% to 5.5% of the adult population. Another 15% of the adult population identifies as having no religious belief or no religious affiliation. When asked, about 5.2% said they did not know, or refused to reply. According to the American Religious Identification Survey, religious belief varies considerably across the country: 59% of Americans living in Western states (the “Unchurched Belt”) report a belief in God, yet in the South (the “Bible Belt”) the figure is as high as 86%. However, despite this seemingly high level of religiosity, only 9% of Americans in a 2008 poll said religion was the most important thing in their life, compared with 45% who said family was paramount in their life and 17% who said money and their career was paramount.“)
  • Christianity is so well-established in the US that we actually call a huge section of the US “the Bible Belt” (and another section “The Unchurched Belt”–which was news to me).
  • some Christians are busily trying to tear down the wall of Separation between Church and State to enact legislation based on Christian beliefs. This would not fly at all if any other religious group attempted to impose specific tenets of their faith on Americans as a whole. (In fact, some conservative politicians have proposed laws prohibiting adoption of “Sharia Law” in their jurisdictions, even though there is and was no possibility of any such thing happening.) And, yes, some Christians seem to believe that resistance to Biblical rules being turned into laws is somehow an “attack” on their beliefs.

Arkansas, Article 19, Section 1: No person who denies the being of a God shall hold any office in the civil departments of this State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any Court.

Maryland, Article 37: That no religious test ought ever to be required as a qualification for any office of profit or trust in this State, other than a declaration of belief in the existence of God; nor shall the Legislature prescribe any other oath of office than the oath prescribed by this Constitution.

Mississippi, Article 14, Section 265: No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office in this state.

North Carolina, Article 6, Section 8 The following persons shall be disqualified for office: Any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God.

South Carolina, Article 17, Section 4: No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office under this Constitution.

Tennessee, Article 9, Section 2: No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this state.

Texas, Article 1, Section 4: No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall any one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.

  • you can’t go more than a few miles without finding a Christian place of worship (there are at LEAST eleven places of worship within a one mile radius of my home and each and every one is Christian and probably 8-9 of these are Southern Baptist).
  •  US currency since the 1950s has had Christian sentiments on it (“In God We Trust” replacing “E Pluribus Unum” which means “Out Of Many, One”). People got very angry when it was (falsely) claimed that “In God We Trust” would not appear on new dollar coins. Because people are stupid.

  • the Pledge of Allegiance added “under God” in 1954 during the McCarthy era to try to weed out non-Christians and Communists. The message is that the non-religious are suspect or unpatriotic or immoral in some way.

Article 6, section 3 of the Constitution states: “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” The Founders clearly wanted the United States government to be a separate entity away from the church and all organized religion. While Christianity dominated the personal lives of many Americans, the Founders didn’t base their government on Christianity, religion, the Bible or the church.

Treaty of Tripoli:

In the 1796 Treaty with Tripoli, written under the George Washington presidency and signed under the John Adam’s presidency, the treaty states that the United States was: “not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.” Christian extremists often point to the fact that some of the Founders were Deists and [some were] Christians; while that is true, it didn’t have any effect on how they governed or their ability to create a “Christian nation,” which the United States is not.

  • Christians claim that we were founded as a “Christian” nation (when it is untrue and, more important, provably untrue if you actually look at the relevant documents): “The primary leaders of the so-called founding fathers of our nation were not Bible-believing Christians; they were deists. Deism was a philosophical belief that was widely accepted by the colonial intelligentsia at the time of the American Revolution. Its major tenets included belief in human reason as a reliable means of solving social and political problems and belief in a supreme deity who created the universe to operate solely by natural laws. The supreme God of the Deists removed himself entirely from the universe after creating it. They believed that he assumed no control over it, exerted no influence on natural phenomena, and gave no supernatural revelation to man. A necessary consequence of these beliefs was a rejection of many doctrines central to the Christian religion. Deists did not believe in the virgin birth, divinity, or resurrection of Jesus, the efficacy of prayer, the miracles of the Bible, or even the divine inspiration of the Bible.”

  • our elected officials have national prayer breakfasts and ask God to bless us constantly.
  • The White House has an Easter egg roll event and displays a Christmas tree.
  • we swear on Bibles (by default) when testifying in court. You can “affirm,” rather than “swear,” but imagine, if you can, what the reaction to your choice might be in some areas.
  • our elected officials swear on the Bible (by default) to uphold The Constitution.
  • hundreds, if not thousands, of words, phrases and quotes from the Bible are used frequently by all English-speaking people in the world. A SMALL sampling follows (“KJV” stands for “King James Version” of the Bible):

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
A broken heart: KJV, Psalms 34:18 – The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.
A cross to bear: KJV, Luke 14:27 – And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
A drop in the bucket
A fly in the ointment
A graven image: KJV, Deuteronomy 5:8 – Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth.
A house divided against itself cannot stand
A labour of love
A law unto themselves: KJV, Romans 2:14 – For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves.
A leopard cannot change its spots
A man after his own heart
A multitude of sins
A nest of vipers
A peace offering: KJV, Leviticus 3:6 – And if his offering for a sacrifice of peace offering unto the LORD be of the flock; male or female, he shall offer it without blemish.
A sign of the times: KJV, Matthew 16:3 – And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?
A soft answer turns away wrath: KJV, Proverbs 15:1 – A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.
A thorn in the flesh
A two-edged sword: KJV, Proverbs 5:4 – But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword.
A voice crying in the wilderness: KJV John 1:23 – He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.
A wolf in sheep’s clothing
All things must pass
All things to all men
Am I my brother’s keeper?
An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth
As old as Methuselah
As old as the hills
As white as snow
As you sow so shall you reap
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust
At his wits end
Baptism of fire: KJV, Matthew 3:11 – I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.
Be fruitful and multiply: KJV, Genesis 1:22 – And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.
Beat swords into ploughshares
Bite the dust
Blessed are the peacemakers
Born again: KJV, John 3:3 – Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Breath of life: KJV, Genesis 2:7 – And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
By the skin of your teeth
By the sweat of your brow: KJV, Genesis 3:19 – In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
Can a leopard change its spots?
Cast bread upon the waters: KJV, Ecclesiastes 11:1 – Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.
Cast the first stone
Coat of many colours
Don’t cast your pearls before swine
Dust to dust: KJV, Genesis 3:19 – In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
Eat drink and be merry
Eye to eye: KJV, Isaiah 52:8 – Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the LORD shall bring again Zion.
Faith will move mountains
Fall from grace
Fat of the land: KJV, Genesis 45:18 – And take your father and your households, and come unto me: and I will give you the good of the land of Egypt, and ye shall eat the fat of the land.
Feet of clay: KJV, Daniel 2: 31-33 – His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.
Fight the good fight
Fire and brimstone: KJV, Genesis 19: 24-26 – Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven.
Flesh and blood
For everything there is a season
Forbidden fruit
Forgive them for they know not what they do
From strength to strength
Get thee behind me Satan
Gird your loins…

  • Biblical stories are often retold and used as themes in non-Christian literature / art / film / music*; we also borrow heavily from Greco-Roman and (to a lesser extent, once you get past the five days of the week named after Norse deities) Norse mythology, but nowhere nearly as often as we draw from Christian story arcs and symbolism.
  • Christianity is the dominant religious culture world-wide even though, percentage-wise, Christians are a minority globally.

World religions, by percentage of world population.

Christianity:  33.32%.

Muslim:  21.01%

Hindu: 13.26%.

Buddhist:  5.84%.

Jewish:  0.23%

Other:  12.25%

Non-religious:  11.77%.

Atheist:  2.32%.

  • Christian holidays are celebrated globally even in countries where Christianity is NOT the dominant religion.
  • people of all faiths are inundated with Christmas music for about three months straight every winter (and most of it sucks, especially the so-called “secular” Christmas music) and Christian holiday decor every winter and spring.
  • there are several cable TV channels devoted entirely to religious Christian broadcasting. There are also several Christian TV shows that are not aired on religious cable channels but major networks (such as “Touched By An Angel”). You can also choose a service provider that offers over 50 24-hour Christian networks.

“Sky Angel is your premier source for Christian and family-friendly entertainment – taking the guesswork out of channel surfing. Unlike Christian cable TV providers, Sky Angel’s primary focus is providing the widest variety of faith-based TV and radio available anywhere. Sky Angel also provides over 20 of the most family-friendly, educational mainstream channels – all brought to you exclusively through our affordable subscription packages. 

Although Christian cable TV providers may offer one or two quality Christian channels, Sky Angel delivers over 50 faith-based 24-hour networks that keep your values and budget in mind. Sky Angel sets itself apart from Christian cable TV providers by offering you three reasonably priced programming packages. The Faith Package is $14.99 per month and the Family Package is $19.99 per month. Combining both packages together for the best value, called the Family Values Pak, is only $24.99 per month.” 

  • there are far more Christian-themed holiday movies and TV special episodes than any other religion (though I hear that The Rugrats celebrated Channukkah at least once. See also Seinfeld‘s discussion of “Festivus.”)
  • there are active Christian groups which attempt to censor content in all popular entertainment media based on their Christian beliefs.
  • Christian groups regularly attempt to boycott or ban popular books, such as the Harry Potter series, and keep them out of schools and public libraries, rather than just not reading them.
  • there are active Christian groups which attempt to censor or boycott various companies and institutions which embrace diversity and tolerance. For example, One Million Moms regularly tries to keep retailers like JC Penney from recognizing homosexual people in their advertising.

  • there are Christian parochial and private schools available for parents who want them and they currently can manipulate a “voucher system” in many areas to get taxpayer money to help fund them in defiance of, again, the Separation of Church and State.
  • there are Christian groups like The Good News Club that attempt to recruit public school children in some schools, and which teach genocide is a positive thing (not an exaggeration) based on Bible verses
  • Christians try on a depressingly regular basis to make textbooks include Christian ideas like creationism / intelligent design (but never bother to demand that any other religions’ creation myth stories be included as well).
  • Louisiana private schools that accept taxpayer-funded vouchers are teaching students that the Loch Ness monster is real (this has been debunked repeatedly) and thus disproves evolution.
  • This is not the only stunt Louisiana Republicans have pulled while trying to push a Christian-only agenda in schools. Louisiana was cool with subverting Separation of Church and State by using taxpayer-funded vouchers for private Christian schools, but balked at including any Muslim schools:

It’s an honest mistake, assuming that the Constitution only protects your own personal megachurch faith. But one Louisiana Republican is learning the hard way that religious school vouchers can be used to fund education at all sorts of religious schools, even Muslim ones. And while she’s totally in favor of taxpayer money being used to pay for kids to go to Christian schools, she’s willing to put a stop to the entire program if Muslim schools are going to be involved.

Valarie Hodges admitted that when she supported Governor Bobby Jindal’s school voucher program, she only did so because she assumed the religious school vouchers could only be used for Christian schools. Religious freedom means that everyone’s free to follow Valarie Hodges’ religion!”

  • Christians regularly get butthurt when told that no, they can not tell the students to pray nor can they lead Christian prayers in secular / public schools; these same people get upset or angry if devout Muslim public school students request private time to pray or atheist students ask to be excused from group prayers.
  • Christian religious leaders regularly skirt the line when discussing politics, though they are not supposed to do so if they wish to retain tax-exempt status; to my knowledge not one Christian church has ever lost its tax exempt status no matter how often its leaders discuss politics or openly support one political party or politician.
  • you can easily find symbols of Christianity on car bumpers, in places of business, on clothing, on shoes, on jewelry, on the vast majority of greeting cards, on housewares, in commercial art, in fine art, on pet supplies, on billboards (etc.) It is likely, if you wish to purchase such items, that you can walk into any “big box retailer” and find items with Christian sentiments or symbols on them. If you wish to buy non-Christian merchandise with your faith’s sentiments or symbols on it, or if you want atheist merchandise, you will probably have to go online to order it.
  •  celebrities, politicians, (some) musicians and (especially) athletes make a point of praying Christian prayers publicly; Tim Tebow actually writes Bible verses on top of his patches of eye black.
  • when it is more common than unusual to spot “JOHN 3:16” signs at sporting events, parades and other large gatherings. Rollen Stewart is in jail now, but there are many others ready and willing to carry on in his footsteps.

  • people in jail cynically profess to have “come to Jesus” at parole hearings to get (and often receive) leniency on their sentences or early releases; studies appear to show that the vast majority of people in prison profess to be Christians (however, this sort of assertion relies on statistics which in some cases can be manipulated a bit, so you should look at the stats yourself and draw your own conclusions).
  • some sects of Christianity (Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses in particular) actually make a point to come to your house on weekends to tell you that–even though they don’t know you or what you might or might not believe–they are making the assumption that not only is your personal and private religious belief system their business (it isn’t) but it is also unacceptable compared to theirs. In every neighborhood I have lived in that had “NO SOLICITING” rules, religious people would ignore the signs and proselytize weekly anyway.

  •  some Christians bash people of color, women and homosexuals loudly and proudly and are not tarred and feathered for being hateful and divisive.
  • there’s an entire genre of music (with several sub-genres) called Christian music; this in addition to religious music like religious classical music / hymns which, being public domain, are often used to score content which is not even religious in nature.
  • there are entire bookstores and literary genres devoted to Christian-themed subjects; there are probably fewer than two dozen bookstores nation-wide that feature ONLY religious content for sale that is not Judeo-Christian, Jewish, or Christian.
  • Pope Benedict XVI, aka Cardinal Ratzinger, got caught covering up for pedophile priests abusing children. Cardinal Bernard Law, who resigned in disgrace as Boston’s archbishop in 2002 after the priest sex abuse scandal exploded in the United States, was promptly given a huge promotion as head of a major Roman basilica. (He has since resigned, but he got a promotion, folks, after he was chased out of Boston for protecting pedophile priests.)
  • a group of Christians (The Gideons) leave Bibles in hotel rooms everywhere; I only know of ONE other group that does anything similar: The cult of Scientology regularly bombards libraries with unsolicited and unwanted Scientology-related literature. An occasional small-scale and short-lived response by individuals leaving Buddhist books (and so on) can not in any way compare.

“I cannot say enough about how horrible a thing it is for you to leave something like this in place of a tip. You can’t imagine how it feels to work your ass off for an hour or more, providing excellent service, only to find a tract sitting on the table – surreptitiously folded up to trick you into thinking you actually got a decent tip, or a tip at all. Christians are known for being notoriously bad tippers to start with. If you doubt me, ask any server. There’s a reason they dread working the Sunday lunch shift.

I have a bit of enlightenment for you,tract-tippers. This is not clever. You are screwing with the livelihoods of the servers on whom you inflict your evangelism. Oh, and that smirk on your face as you walk away from your table after leaving only makes you more of a pretentious dick. 

You want to know what else is not clever? Writing “Jesus Loves You” or some other bogus Christianese slogan to the line on your bill where you are supposed to add your tip.

Oh, and while we are at it, your “let’s eat most of our meal then send it back saying it sucked so we don’t have to pay for it or leave a tip” is a bunch of crap. It’s cheating [and theft], you are a douche for doing it, and the entire staff sees right through you.” ~ Al Stefanelli

  • when orgasming, having a bad day, experiencing misfortune or sneezing, someone is going to mention God 99% of the time. Pretty sure they are not talking about Ganesha, Odin, Ra or Papa Xangô, god of fire, lightning and thunder.
  • some Christians get mad over the use of “Xtian” and “Xtianity” but often can’t spell “Muslim,” “Buddhist” or “atheist” (or “Christian”, come to think of it!) correctly themselves; it is apparently OK to butcher the spelling of other faiths but it is NOT okay to use an X (a perfectly respectable symbolic relacement for “Christ” since around the time dirt was invented) because that somehow manages to threaten the cultural stranglehold Christianity has on the United States or diss Jesus or something.
  • there are museums devoted to promoting creationism that claim that dinosaurs and humans coexisted.

  • one of the most popular artists in the US was Thomas Kinkaid, the “painter of light,” whose insipid and pseudo-spiritual art gets far more exposure and attention than similar artists who did / do not deliberately cater to the Christian market. (I admit that my dislike of Kincaid’s art is a personal opinion, and actually has nothing to do with the messages in his art but entirely to do with his style.)
  • many states have Christianity-inspired “blue laws” that restrict business / commerce on Sunday; Christians can’t just NOT SHOP or NOT WORK on Sunday, they have to force everyone else, including non-Christians, to follow the same rules they do.
  • the work week is also structured around the needs of Christians to (supposedly) worship on Sundays; before unions negotiated for a five day work week, people often worked on Saturday, too.
  • we vote on Tuesdays because we had to accomodate Christian farmers who had to travel to vote and would not travel on weekends (not entirely their fault: Sunday church attendance was mandatory in colonial times and people could be and were convicted of working on Sunday or, apparently worse, not being Christians).
  • Atheists filed a lawsuit pointing out that a 9/11 memorial should acknowledge that people of other faiths and non-religious people died, too, not just Christians, and that the proposed memorial should reflect that fact as a matter of fairness, prompted over 8,000 death threats from angry Christians.

“According to the lawsuit, among the 2,792 people killed in the twin towers 31 were Muslim Americans, approximately 400 to 500 were Jewish Americans, approximately 500 were non-religious Americans, and an unknown number were Americans of other faiths. (So, about half of the people who died were not Christian.) Additionally, no other religious or non-religious group has been permitted a memorial.”

More on this:

“American Atheists filed a lawsuit to prevent a cross from being erected at the World Trade Center Memorial site. 

The cross in question is actually two broken girders from the original tower that were found in the rubble and roughly make the shape of the Christian cross.

The Atheists’ argument is that people of many religions died in the towers on Sept 11 and should be represented in the memorial.

Last week Blair Scott, the Communications Director for the American Atheists, appeared on Fox News show America Live to discuss the lawsuit.  It went as you might imagine.

However, it’s the online aftermath that’s getting much of the attention.  Following Scott’s appearance, Fox News’ FaceBook page received more that 8,000 death threats against atheists.”

  • The Boy Scouts make no bones about aggressively promoting a Christian agenda and discriminating against gays and non-Christians. (The Girl Scouts, by way of contrast, are notably more progressive (and have been inclusive of homosexual and transgender Scouts), and, as such, are often complained about or protested by Christians.)
  • our elected officials are all Judeo-Christian (mostly just plain Christian) with THREE exceptions (that I know of) out of over 550 upper-level politicians: We have TWO Muslims (only) and ONE atheist. That is IT. Again, Christians are in no danger whatsoever of being under-represented in our country any time soon.
  • the vast majority of the heroes schoolchildren are taught to revere and admire are not only white and male, but also Christian (and usually Protestant Christian, too).
  • school calendars and schedules are arranged to allow students time off for Christian holiday celebrations; if you are, for example, Jewish, well, good luck getting time off for your high holy days of Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur. If you are Muslim, no time off for Ramadan (your high holy day) for you, buddy.
  • everyone has nationwide days off to celebrate the Christian holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas because, other than secular celebrations, all holidays celebrated nationally are Christian: there are no other faith’s holidays that are celebrated nationwide. To be clear, as Wikipedia puts it: “The United States does not have national holidays in the sense of days on which all employees in the U.S. receive mandatory a day free from work and all business is halted by law.” But what days did YOU get off from work*? Sometimes, when the calendar cooperates, we get Passover and Easter bundled together if our schools or workplaces chose to let us have those holidays, but if Passover (a Jewish holiday) and Easter are not conveniently close together, then the default is to have Easter off. Also, for what it is worth, the now-mostly-secular holidays of SAINT Valentine’s Day and SAINT Patrick’s Day offer a hint about how secular they originally were (clue: they weren’t).
  • Christians are not happy with this and also want to turn Hallowe’en into a religious celebration (“Jesusween” being one alternative that some knobhead actually seriously proposed). That it was originally just All Hallows Even(ing) and that it precedes All Saints Day is apparently forgotten. (And yes, that means that these people do not understand that the “w” in “ween” is the last letter in “Hallow,” as in “All Hallow’s Even” or that “een” is the shortened form of “even”, which is itself the shortened form of “evening”.)

  • though there is supposed to be no religious test required for taking office, Christians opposed to Barack Obama not only deny his Christian faith but also insist that he is a Muslim, which is supposed to, in some way, make him unfit to be President. (Please note that Muslims do not eat hot dogs, smoke, or drink beer.) Message: Be Christian or else. Remember also that JFK’s Catholicism was seen as too “radical” for other (Protestant) Christians at the time.

A Muslim explains: “Basically all food is halal and allowed for Muslims to eat except what is forbidden explicitly in Quran and what is forbidden by prophet Muhammad[‘s] saying[s] (Ahadith) or practices. In Islam, alcoholic beverages–or any intoxicants–[are] generally forbidden. Intoxicants were forbidden in the Qur’an, through several separate verses revealed at different times over a period of years. [It] is forbidden to eat (except in cases of severe hunger)…dead animals, pork, blood, and what is not slaughtered under name of God. Smoking is considered also forbidden as…smoking is harmful to health and Quran commands us not to harm our health.”

  • The use of “BC” and “AD” (“Before Christ” and “Anno Domini”– meaning “year of our Lord”) denote vast periods of time; though there has been an effort to popularize “BCE” and CE” (“Before Common Era” and “Common Era”), this has not caught on and it still uses “year zero” which is associated with Christ’s reported date of birth (and which might even be historically inaccurate, but that’s another rant for another day).
  • religious leaders (usually conservative) are frequent guests on news channels and political news programs; the one liberal equivalent to balance all those conservative religious folk that I know of would be the REVEREND Al Sharpton on MSNBC.
  • communities which display public holiday decorations do so at taxpayer expense more often than not and, unsurprisingly, those decorations are usually for Christian holidays AND sometimes even include specifically religious displays like Nativity scenes and not just boughs of holly and pretty lights.
  • Christians have tried to place the Ten Commandments into government buildings and courthouses. Actually, Christians have SUCCEEDED in placing the Ten Commandments in government buildings, and most of them are really pissed off that they were told they could not DO that. (Please name one U.S. government building or courthouse that has a monument depicting tenets of a faith other than Christianity. Public libraries with documents and books about non-Christian religions or atheism do not count.)

  • it is illegal to discriminate against someone or to fire them on the basis of their religious faith (or lack thereof), but try announcing you are anything other than Christian to some employers and see how that works out.
  • it is not uncommon for workplaces to encourage employee-managed “Secret Santa” celebrations and it is even less uncommon for workplaces to have holiday parties that will almost always feature a Christmas tree and Christmas decor and Christmas music.
  •  it is not uncommon for co-workers to announce what they are “giving up for Lent” or to try to form a Bible Study Group with other coworkers or to display Christian inspirational art and quotes prominently in their work areas.
  • some Christians also get all bent out of shape when told “Happy Holidays” (which is inclusive and does not assume you are of any particular faith while intending to be something pleasant and friendly to say) instead of “Merry Christmas” and think nothing of throwing a public tantrum and often do so in a store covered in Christian holiday decor and piping in Christian holiday music. (…Because non-Christians should not be acknowledged at all and should not also have a pleasant winter holiday season? I don’t understand this sort of thing.)

A letter to the editor of the Dallas Morning News from a Christian who is “sad and angry” that some people say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”:

 “This article made me both sad and angry; sad because we have become a nation that must be so politically correct that we think we cannot celebrate the most blessed holiday of the year by saying “Merry Christmas,” having Christmas trees and parties at school, and celebrating the birth of our Savior with nativity scenes on courthouse lawns. It made me angry because we do not have the wherewithal to stand up for our beliefs.

 The spokesperson for the Allen ISD stated, “times are changing,” and, “there’s more focus on diversity and less assumption that everyone comes from the same background.” Is that a reason to do away with the traditions that this country was built upon? What do you suppose would happen if we, as Americans, immigrated to another country whose culture had different beliefs and celebrations?”

Now substitute any other faith (or lack of faith) for “Christian” and see if ANY OTHER GROUP ON THE PLANET is anywhere near as “oppressed” and “attacked” (or “threatened” or “endangered” or “marginalized”) as Christians claim to be. 

You might discover that Christians are more likely to oppress than be oppressed; at the very least, you are likely to be assimilated, like the Borg, into a monotheistic culture based almost entirely on Christianity.

DID YOU KNOW? An estimated 35% of born-again Christians do not read the Bible at all, writes the Center for Bible Engagement, quoting Ron Rhodes, President of Reasoning from the Scriptures Ministries.

Studies by The Barna Group and Gallup indicate that Americans are “illiterate” when it comes to the Bible and understanding the Christian faith: Issues such as teaching creationism in public schools, national days of prayer, gay marriage, women’s reproductive rights and placing the Ten Commandments in the public square are often fueled by “Bible believing” Christians in an atmosphere where the majority of people have not read the Bible.

When Christians feel singled out by atheists for criticism, they forget that many atheists live in Western countries where Christianity has dominated culture, politics, and society for over 1,500 years. Atheists are most familiar with Christianity and have to contend with Christianity on a daily basis in their lives, and perhaps even were raised as Christians.

Some atheists raised Christian were discouraged from doubting and questioning but did so anyway and some discovered that they had been misled, deceived and/or lied to by religious parents or religious leaders. This can easily result in a lingering resentment of a belief system that allowed and continues to allow such deception to occur. Experiences like this can cause anger or resentment towards religion in general and Christianity in particular.

Many atheists suffer from discrimination and abuse from family, friends, or colleagues IF they even feel comfortable enough to express their lack of religious belief at all: They can fear reprisals and ostracization. Some atheists are simply not going to have warm, fuzzy feelings about Christianity when it is misused to foster hatred and repression towards them simply because they are not Christian.Eliminating the institutionalized persecution and hatred atheists endure in the name of Christianity is going to be far more effective than attempting to convert atheists. 

All of these are valid and understandable reasons why Christianity is more of a focus for atheist critiques than other religions.

Historically, Christianity was used to excuse:

  • appropriating other religions’ mythology and pagan holiday celebrations and revising them to be Christian traditions instead
  • slavery (it’s in the Bible!)
  • The Holocaust
  • The Crusades
  • The Inquisition
  • cultural appropriation in third-world countries by (well-meaning) Christian missionaries
  • homophobia
  • subjugation of women
  • subjugation of minorities
  • subjugation of children
  • domestic violence
  • more than a few wars
  • more than a few land grabs, globally
  • disenfranchising indigenous peoples
  • torturing / murdering / forcibly converting / hanging people suspected (right or wrong) of not being a particular flavor of Christianity (Puritans hanged Quakers, for instance)
  • passing laws that punish or discriminate against non-Christians
  • antisemitism
  • panics over the Apocalypse
  • baptizing the dead who were not of your faith in life (often multiple times)
  • circumcision (whether you are for or against it, this is why)
  • social oppression
  • science denial
  • denying necessary medical care to the physically or mentally ill
  • using exorcisms to treat the mentally ill

…and much more! There are few, if any, other religions that can claim a list as impressive (and depressing). I’m not saying there aren’t ANY (hello, Islam) but there aren’t as MANY with a similar history of cultural domination.

So Christianity is top dog, and that leads to Christian Privilege. What’s that? As Wikipedia puts it, “Christian privilege” is the overarching system of advantages bestowed on Christians. It is the institutionalization of a Christian norm or standard that establishes and perpetuates the notion that all people are or should be Christian. The privileging of Christians and Christianity excludes the needs, concerns, religious cultural practices, and life experiences of people who are not Christian. At times overt and at other times subtle, Christian privilege is oppression by purpose and design, as well as by neglect, omission, erasure, and distortion. U.S. Christians in general and predominantly Protestants, successfully disseminate dominant social constructions as being common sense, as normative, or as universal, even though an estimated 70% of the world’s inhabitants are not Christian.

Here’s where we should reiterate that fact: SEVENTY PERCENT of the world’s population is NOT Christian, but, hey, no worries, the dominant culture world-wide certainly seems to be Christian anyway.

Nice Christians who sense some frustration directed their way by non-Christians are definitely on to something when they (maybe you!) say that it might be because SOME (not all, by any means, and certainly not YOU personally) Christians DO behave badly and make up bullshit like “The War on Christmas” (when people just want other faiths to be acknowledged as simply EXISTING, because GOSH, that takes something away from exactly no one to say, hey, there are people who do not believe exactly the same unprovable faith-based things I believe).

Nice Christians are correct when they notice that SOME atheists get a little cranky at claims that it is Not Okay to get a little exasperated with the FEW (I hope!) misbehaving Christians who refuse to show Jesus-like compassion, love, tolerance and acceptance towards other people IF they are not openly Christian, too.

SOME atheists get grumpy when it is clear that it is Not Okay to resist faith-based initiatives that erode the separation of church and state (it’s a big deal, which is why I have said it more than once), or that it is Totally Okay to force people who do not believe as you do (in Christianity) to follow rules, laws and social conventions based on YOUR (Christian) beliefs. (Also, are there any non-Christian groups that act like Westboro Baptist out there? Look around, and if you find any, let me know.)

Hey, guys…is it making a little more sense now?

What gets really fun (for the uninvolved observer) is when one of the more than THIRTY THOUSAND different flavors of Christianity starts bitching about a different flavor of Christianity. Protestants and Catholics have historically been at odds. Mormons / LDS, Christian Scientists and Jehovah’s Witnesses are called cultists by other Christians. That’s when people who aren’t Christian (or into religion stuff in general) REALLY shake their heads at Christians.

Supposedly a bunch of people who revere the same book (The Bible), and supposedly have read the same stuff in the same book (including a lot of contradictions and scientifically impossible / improbable assertions and a lot of rules and laws that most people only follow when it suits their agenda), still manage to find a hell of a lot of ways to butt heads and scream at each other while arguing about who is correctly interpreting the writings of some desert-dwelling, wandering goat herders who were writing down Jewish myths and stories to share, and who didn’t get around to writing about Jesus until long, long after he was dead (if he lived at all–and there’s some reasons to question that–but I am DEFINITELY not going to open that can of worms). Even more cool is that the standard Bible is missing a heck of a lot of relevant contemporary gospels and writings that have been omitted for…well, um, I don’t know why some made the grade and some didn’t. I’m not a Comparative Religions expert.

Again, find a religious group that acts like this that isn’t Christian, and you would discover that a lot of people get annoyed with THEM, too. (Here’s where you would be right to point out that SOME Muslims are just as pushy about their holy book and religious beliefs. You might also ponder the entertaining fact that it appears to be the most devout Christians who really, really have the most serious issues when attempting to interact with or relate to Muslims.)

What’s worst, in my mind, is how many of my friends and family are Christian and also NICE and not hypocritical, and they are lumped in with the louder and more obnoxious and more offensive Christians (in name only, most of the time) who make them look ignorant or intolerant or mean-spirited. Christians’ worst enemy out there are OTHER CHRISTIANS who, I suspect, have mostly not even read the Bible they like to wave around / thump at other people.

There need to be more people willing to say “you do not speak for ME, even if we supposedly share a common faith” when “bad” Christians act out.

Here’s something else to consider: Some atheists may just have trouble dealing with some of the things they have read directly from The Holy Bible.

Some cool things you can learn from the Bible:

  • The very first two stories in Genesis contradict each other
  • Slavery is a-OK in the Bible
  • Getting your dad (Noah) drunk and having sex with him is OK
  • Throwing your female family members to an unruly mob to rape and murder is better than being a bad host to two total strangers
  • Bats are actually birds
  • There are unicorns and dragons mentioned (A LOT) in the Bible–but not dinosaurs. I’m pretty sure kangaroos aren’t mentioned either, though.
  • Playing football is a no-no…if you play with a pigskin football. You should probably also double-check any suede and leather goods you might own to make sure they are not pigskin.
  • Leviticus, which is often used by the homophobic and self-righteous to justify condemning homosexuals, also spends several chapters (NINE!) detailing how to properly prepare burnt offerings (wow, some churches don’t even bother with incense burners these days) and, in addition to prohibiting The Gays, also prohibits eating pork, clams, oysters, crabs, lobsters and shrimp; getting tattoos; wearing cotton-polyester clothes, etc.) If you’re going to ignore the sections of Leviticus that ban tattoos, pork, shellfish, round haircuts, mixed-fiber clothing and football, how can you possibly turn around and quote Leviticus 18:22 (“You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination”) as irrefutable law? Here is a situation where supposedly devout Christians (who should know their Bible) apparently either ignore what Jesus said about Mosaic Laws or treat the Bible like a Quality Street pick-a-mix chocolate candy assortment box and discard the inconvenient laws (like no eating any delicious pork chops) in order to cling to an equally outdated rule about hating non-hetero people.
  • Mules, ligers and non-purebred cats and dogs are a no-no; you shouldn’t crossbreed animals because God hates that stuff. Your labradoodle, cockapoo or Jack Shi’tzu are abominations in the eyes of the Lord your God.
  • Growing more than one crop per field is a no-no, so your Victory Garden is also an abomination unto the Lord. (By this logic, God probably also hates broccoli, which was horticulturally created by by some creative Italians who combined cauliflower with rabe (it’s a vegetable closely related to the turnip; it also called rapini).
  • Divorce is verboten, so choose your life partner very wisely!
  • It’s totally OK to rape someone if you marry them afterwards.
  • Adam and Eve were never married.
  • It’s also OK to have multiple wives and to impregnate multiple servant women (slaves) if your wives aren’t multiplying fruitfully enough for you.
  • Being illegitimate is verboten (even though it is totally not your fault!)
  • Being the great-great-great-great-ad infinitum-grandchild of an illegitimate person is also no good (and, again, it’s not even your fault!)
  • Women and men without testicles (even if it is totally not your fault, and, dude, we are SO sorry for your loss) are not supposed to pray inside a church or temple
  • Wearing gold, pearls, costly (designer?) clothing is–you guessed it!–forbidden
  • “Rounding” the edges of your haircut (no bowl cuts for you) and braided hair are verboten

…There’s so much more!

Man, this book full of ancient advice passed down to us by illiterate Bronze Age wandering desert-dwelling goat-herders is relevant to the 21st century, inerrant, totally internally consistent and everything in it should be followed to the letter…unless it is somehow inconvenient (I mean, bacon-wrapped shrimp is so tasty).

(This is not to say there is nothing good in it, of course; there are some good things in the Bible.)

Fun stuff, amirite? The term for the omnipresence of Christianity in our culture is called “Christian hegemony“:

 “Christian hegemony operates on several levels. At one level is the internalization of dominant western Christian beliefs and values by individuals in our society. Another level is the power that individual preachers, ministers and priests have on people’s lives. Particular churches and some Christian denominations wield very significant political and economic power in our country. There is a vast network of parachurch organizations, general tax-supported non-profits such as hospitals, broadcasting networks, publishing houses, lobbying groups, and organizations like Focus on the Family, Prison Fellowship, The Family, World Mission, and thousands of others which wield influence in particular spheres of U.S. society and throughout the world.

Another level of Christian dominance is within the power elite, the network of 7-10,000 predominantly white Christian men who control the largest and most powerful social, political, economic, and cultural institutions in the country. And finally there is the level which provides the foundation for all the others–the long and deep legacy of Christian ideas, values, practices, policies, icons, and texts that have been produced within dominant western Christianity over the centuries. That legacy continues to shape our language, culture, beliefs, and values and to frame public and foreign policy decisions.

Christian dominance has become so invisible that its manifestations appear to be secular, i.e. not religious. In this context, the phrase “secular Christian dominance” might be most appropriate, Christian hegemony under the guise of secularism. Of course, there are many forms of Christian fundamentalism which are anything but secular. Often fundamentalists want to create some kind of theocratic state. But the more mainstream, everyday way that dominant Christian values and institutions influence our lives and communities is less evident, although no less significant and certainly not limited to fundamentalists.”

Honestly, guys, Christianity is NOT under any threat or in danger of going away any time soon. REALLY.

I think you can rest easy if someone is disinterested in accepting Jesus Christ as their personal savior. It happens, sometimes, and Christianity is not diminished or in danger at all.

I hope this has proven comforting and enlightening. Some people (atheists) may get a little cranky with some Christians, but you Christian guys are going to be just fine. I promise.

Besides, a faith that can’t withstand a little introspection, examination, debate, and / or thoughtful challenge is not a truly strong faith to begin with.

Lastly, if you are an awesome Christian, please continue to be awesome and please feel free to accept this high five from me. 

NOTES:

More on the subject of Christian Privilege.

A critical, skeptical examination of The Bible.

 

 

If You Ruled the World…

Ever seen one of those “crazy laws still on the books” websites that collects a bunch of stupid laws that aren’t even enforced? If I ruled the world, stupid laws taking up space would be nullified or revised to make some sense. No more “it is illegal to walk your giraffe on Main Street on Sunday” stuff.

People would have a minimum of 15% added to their restaurant checks for their servers. You could request management remove it, but you better have a good reason to request that. Servers earn about two bucks an hour, generally have no benefits whatsoever and work long hours doing grueling physical labor while dealing with the general public, and the general public is, let’s be frank, a bunch of raging assholes more often than not.

No one would ever face eviction, poverty, bankruptcy, or worse if they had the misfortune to have a medical accident or fall ill, ESPECIALLY if they had medical insurance and the insurance company just didn’t want to pay the bills. You would be rewarded for good habits and seeking out support to quit bad habits, not penalized for bad ones, or, worse, bad genes.

The media would be fined a punitive amount of money each time they lied about easily-researched facts. Media outlets found guilty of reporting untruths regularly would lose their license to broadcast.

Good Samaritans would be exempt from litigation that would punish them for trying to help their neighbors.

People would have to apply for licenses to own pets, they would have to arrange for a vet to care for their desired pet or pets in advance, there would be a limit to how many licenses one person could have, and they would take a class on how to care for their pet or pets of choice. Animal abusers would forfeit their ability to have a pet ownership license. If one family member abuses an animal, the rest of the family also revokes their license as long as the abuser lives under the same roof or within the same household.

All legal residents of the USA would have equal rights and protections under the law. No exceptions.

It will not be required to give equal network time to loons. If someone states that the Earth is a sphere, that does not mean that someone from The Flat Earth Society should get interviewed to present their opposition to the idea. Just because an actress thinks vaccines cause autism (and is grossly wrong) does not mean she deserves a platform to spout those ideas. You are entitled to your own opinions, not your own facts.

We will no longer allow idiots to determine the contents of our children’s textbooks, especially those who are intent on inserting religious or faith-based assertions into a fact-based science textbook. We will no longer allow partisan politicians to rewrite history to better reflect their preferred historical revisionist ideas. We will acknowledge the contributions of people who are not WASPs to history, politics, literature, the arts, science, etc.

It is forbidden to use terms like “socialist,” “fascist,” “Marxist,” “Communist, ” and so on, to discredit a political opponent unless you can accurately define and spell those terms, and apply them correctly.

Faith-based charities and organizations will no longer receive tax breaks unless they can show that they provide a substantial public benefit. Faith-based charities and organizations will be forbidden from having front groups. Faith-based charities and organizations are not permitted to influence, lobby, or participate in politics or elect politicians. Due to Separation of Church and State, the government will not give money or accept money from any faith-based charity or group. Faith-based charities and organizations which cannot abide by the law or which wish to exclude or discriminate against anyone cannot receive government funds. Faith-based charities and organizations will be audited regularly to verify that funds collected from parishioners are being used as promised and provide a public good.

Police officers and other LEOs will be taught the law as it applies to freedom of the press, freedom of assembly / peaceful public protests, freedom of speech, taking photos or videos in public spaces, search and seizure with and without a warrant, etc., and any LEO caught punishing someone for Driving While Black or Flying While Swarthy will have to account for their actions and prove they were not using racial profiling rather than observing actual wrongdoing. Arbitrary quotas that force LEOs to actively search for minor offenses rather than protecting and serving will be abolished. Since most people cannot be simultaneously in their moving vehicle and behind or ahead of them where they can see a taillight or blinker has burned out, these will not be ticketable offenses unless the driver has been issued a previous warning a week or more earlier and has chosen to ignore the problem.

Our elected representatives’ benefits and pay should reflect the benefits and pay available to the average constituent in their home districts or states. If they want better retirement funds / pensions, pay, healthcare, insurance, housing, transportation, etc., they have to improve the standard of living for the average person they were elected to represent in order to improve their own standard of living.

No more elected representative hypocrites railing against gays (while being gay or hiring gay rent boys) or preaching about Christian values / marital fidelity (while being adulterers), etc. If you are caught being a raging hypocrite, you are fired. Period. Furthermore, you are shunned for being a raging hypocrite.

Advertisers cannot litter the landscape with aesthetically displeasing adverts. There will be No Ad Zones in public areas where no logos, brands, ads or soliciting are allowed. Advertisers cannot make false claims in their adverts or they forfeit the money they paid to publish their ad and the ad will not be published. Advertisers cannot run more than one ad per radio station or TV channel or newspaper or website per day: one each is all you get. Advertisements online cannot hijack your speakers to blare audio at you or open a pop-up window.

Rights are rights, not privileges. Rights can’t be voted for or against or granted or taken away. Rights are rights. There will be no more waffling about whether or not a particular right is something Americans can have or not. If you are unclear on the idea of rights versus privileges, you are cordially invited to give up all your own rights first, before attempting to tinker with other people’s rights.

You will be politely shunned for being rude in public. If you are loud on your mobile phone in public, everyone around you has the right to stop dead in their tracks and point at you, with scorn. If you bring your infant to an R-rated film at night because you are too cheap to hire a babysitter and if your baby’s understandable distress at the loud noises and dark room manage to ruin it for everyone else, if you take up two or more spaces in a parking lot or a handicapped spot when you are not disabled, if you steal from a store, if you change your infant’s dirty diaper on a restaurant table, if you expose your underwear to appalled strangers in public areas, if you annoy people by blaring your music in public areas, if you throw trash out of your car window or litter in a public park, if you verbally harass women or minorities on the street, if you do not curb your dog, you will be scorned, shunned, and named and shamed by your peers until you learn not to be a douchebag.

Corporations which do not headquarter here, hire here, or bank here do not get ANY tax breaks. None. If you want to export your HQ, hire overseas, union-bust here or bank overseas, you don’t get any goodies.

These are totally unrealistic goals. I know that. That’s not the point.

What would you do if you were Ruler of Earth?