My Old Kentucky Homesite

Archive for March, 2010

Don’t Take Manhattan

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 03/12/2010

[NOTE: This is sort of a follow-up to “Unborn” Again. But I apologize in advance that you’ll have to read most of this post before you find the “stupid Kentucky” connection. Trust me, though … it’s here. ]

The New Yawk Background

Back on November 20th, I must have been lulled to sleep by the sun shining so bright and the people shining so dumb. Or, more likely, that was one of the many days when the only things I read in the newspaper were the Jumble and Zits.

So I was surprised to learn today that  nearly four months ago, a group of hate-mongers issued The Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience.  (Warning: Don’t click on the link if you have a sensitive stomach.)

Among the nearly 430,000 (!) signatories can be found the usual exemplars of loving kindness, people like Charles Colson, James Dobson, Gary Bauer, New York’s Archbishop Timothy Dolan, and hundreds of other so-called leaders of Catholic, Evangelical, and Orthodox churches. The declaration’s “celebrity” supporters include Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coulter, Karl Rove, and other such conscience-driven types.

The Web site summarizes the Declaration this way:

We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians who have united at this hour to reaffirm fundamental truths about justice and the common good, and to call upon our fellow citizens, believers and non-believers alike, to join us in defending them. These truths are (1) the sanctity of human life, (2) the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife, and (3) the rights of conscience and religious liberty. Inasmuch as these truths are foundational to human dignity and the well-being of society, they are inviolable and non-negotiable. Because they are increasingly under assault from powerful forces in our culture, we are compelled today to speak out forcefully in their defense, and to commit ourselves to honoring them fully no matter what pressures are brought upon us and our institutions to abandon or compromise them. We make this commitment not as partisans of any political group but as followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

If the summary doesn’t get you gnashing your teeth sufficiently, go ahead and read the whole thing.  But do that only if you don’t want to keep your hair — because you’ll be tearing it out of your head in anger as you work your way through the document. (I’m  already balding, so losing a few more of my curly locks wasn’t such a tragedy.)

Obviously number (1) is about opposing abortion, although it’s dishonestly couched as protecting the lives of “the unborn, the disabled, and the elderly.” Besides abortion, the Declaration also singles out for God’s wrath “embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide, and euthanasia.”

We pledge to work unceasingly for the equal protection of every innocent human being at every stage of development and in every condition. We will refuse to permit ourselves or our institutions to be implicated in the taking of human life and we will support in every possible way those who, in conscience, take the same stand.

In other words, the Pro-Forced-Maternity forces will continue fighting for the souls of good, Christian blastocysts.

Number (2) expresses concern that “the institution of marriage, already wounded by promiscuity, infidelity and divorce, is at risk of being redefined and thus subverted.” Watch out, you god-hating homos!

Number (3), though, is the slickest, slimiest, and most deceitful of all. Under the guise of promoting “religious liberty,” the Declaration urges civil disobedience among Christians if laws are not in keeping with numbers (1) and (2) — or, basically, anything else the churches dislike. That’s a pretty broad category, but it could well include a call to disobey environmental regulations, violate fiscal policy and controls, and teach whatever nonsense Christians choose to disseminate in publics schools. In its not-so-subtle wording, it could be used to justify clinic-bombing, gay-bashing, and the murder of science teachers who dare to inform their students about evolution. To put number (3) another way: if America refuses to become a theocracy, its laws are invalid.

The Eagerly Awaited “Stupid Kentucky” Connection

Thanks for your patience.

So yesterday, Kentucky’s House Resolution 232 was introduced and after what must have been whole seconds of debate it passed today by a voice vote on the floor. What is that resolution? Can you guess?

A RESOLUTION recognizing and honoring the efforts of those who have inspired thousands of Kentuckians with the Manhattan Declaration.

There’s a lot of pious blah-blah for a few paragraphs before the document actually states what those numnuts are seeking to resolve:

NOW, THEREFORE,
Be it resolved by the House of Representatives of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky:

  • Section 1. The House of Representatives recognizes and honors the efforts of those who have inspired thousands of Kentuckians with the Manhattan Declaration.
  • Section 2. The House of Representatives further wishes great success to those who are committed to the principles upon which our Commonwealth and indeed the nation at large were founded, and appreciates the heartfelt motivation of those whose calling it is to minister to others even as they declare and advocate for truth.

This resolution had 45 “yea” (or “yay”) votes— yup, you read that right: forty-five — from among the state’s 100 elected representatives. That’s nearly half of the chamber, all of whom were listed as sponsors, not merely supporters, of this drivel. And, amazingly, there’s not even a single reference to “hoops.” In case you’re wondering what happened to the other 55 members, they were recorded as “not voting.”

It’s now going to be really dangerous driving on Sunday mornings. Thousands of Kentucky Christians, hurrying to get to church, will feel obliged to disobey those ungodly traffic rules.

There oughta be a law against the legislature wasting time and money on nonsense like this. But, of course, good Christians would just continue to ignore it. Now that HR 232 has passed, they can even cite their own resolution as justification.

[Frivolous Appendix for Earworm fans:
Much to my chagrin, the Manhattan of the Declaration is not the one in Kansas. I was shocked to discover that Kentucky representatives would admit to loving anything that referred to New Yawk. But I guess I wouldn’t be surprised now if they select this as their theme song.]

[Addendum: 03/13/2010, 2:55 a.m.:
It appears that some of my facts about the “Stupid Kentucky” Connection were not correct as originally written. Apparently, everybody is stupid here, including me. I’ve edited the material to conform with the truth — which is still as scary as what I errroneously wrote.]

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Posted in Freedom from Faith, Music, New to Kentucky | 21 Comments »

“Unborn” Again

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 03/11/2010

Every now and then I go on a rant about our failure to challenge specific language used by politicans.

What got me started today was this story in our local rag.

It seems that two Jesublicans in the Kentucky House of Representatives have stalled a number of bills by attempting to attach completely unrelated anti-abortion amendments to them. The halted pieces of legislation, which are supported by most Kentuckians and their elected representatives, deal with issues like, among others, disclosing information on child fatalities, lowering case loads and improving security for state social workers, regulating physicians’ assistants, and collecting data to review alternative education programs for “at-risk” students. Even the executive director of the Catholic Conference of Kentucky opposes adding anti-abortion obstructions to those worthy bills.

Why are those bills stalled? The oh-so-craven Democrats, fearing a prolonged fight on the anti-abortion amendments, have chosen to return the bills to committee. That’s the governmental equivalent of hiding your dirty laundry in the back of the closet. I could — but I won’t (at least not here) — go off on a tangent about how useless Democrats are when allegedly fighting for the people. One rant at a time is enough.

By cleverly handicapping the passage of needed laws, the two men — David Floyd and Tim Moore — are holding up the legislature because of their own religiously driven agenda. On David Floyd’s Web site, he promises always to “Defend the rights of the unborn.” Similarly, Moore said that in his proposed amendments, he’s trying to “protect the rights of the unborn.”

No matter how sneakily anti-abortionists couch their terms, they’re always talking, ultimately, about human souls. That’s what “the unborn” means: live souls that have yet to emerge into the world from the insides of their mothers. If you dismiss the specifically religious concept of “souls” — as the First Amendment says the government must — then the term “unborn” is meaningless. You might just as well apply it to children that will first see the light of day 100 years from now, or to wild animals, or to rocks, for that matter. An egg is not a chicken. Any creature or thing that hasn’t been born is, obviously, “unborn.” Such an organism is not a person, or a pig, or a dinosaur, or even a dung beetle, until it’s been born (or hatched). Before that, it’s merely a potentiality. No matter how loony your interpretation of the Constitution is, you can’t find in it any guarantees about the rights of non- persons, mere potentialities. So, really, all anti-abortion laws are unconstitutional, because anyone who even speaks about “the rights of the unborn” is clearly seeking to establish one religious viewpoint over others.

One of the things that got me angriest about the story was a response by Terry Brooks, the Executive Director of Kentucky Youth Advocates. Brooks said, “I find it sadly ironic that the same voices that want to protect unborn children are willing to put children at risk after they are born.”

That riposte is cute, but it doesn’t get to the heart of the matter. It’s time for all of us who are not anti-abortion to stop allowing words like “unborn” to go unchallenged. Opponents of people like Floyd and Moore must not accept their linguistic sleigh-of-hand. We must make them define their terms clearly. When we call them to task, especially if they’re the smug Christian bullies I suspect they are, they probably won’t be able to avoid demonstrating the blatantly religious underpinnings of their ideas, as expressed in the very words and phrases they use. Their unconstitutional notions are nestled comfortably into their language choices.

Let’s not just nod dumbly when the religious zealots sneak terminological razzle-dazzle into our public debates.

Posted in First Amendment, Freedom from Faith, Language & Meaning | 38 Comments »

Snyder v. Phelps (and You and Me)

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 03/09/2010

If you don’t want to see the First Amendment debased little by little until it grows meaningless, you have to be willing to fight vociferously for the rights of citizens to say and print things that you find hateful.

So yesterday, when the Supreme Court announced that it would hear arguments in Snyder v. Phelps, I decided that it was time to write about the case. If I had a larger forum, I’d broadcast my opinion to the world, but, as it is, I can only post it here on my blog. Imagine me shouting, however.

Fred Phelps is the “pastor” of the Westboro Baptist Church, a hate group by any definition. Most of Phelps’s flock are his family members, which might explain why they travel with him from their base in Topeka all over the country to help spread the Bad News. Westboro’s particular way of doing that is to picket funerals of American soldiers. The signs carried by the church members advertise Christ’s love through slogans like: God is Your Enemy, Thank God for Dead Soldiers, and God Hates Fags. Phelps’s message is that his god aids in the killing of our fighting forces because America is too tolerant of its sinful homosexuals.

A few years ago, Albert Snyder, father of a dead Marine whose funeral had been picketed by the Westboros, filed a lawsuit against Phelps and his church. At the time of the funeral, Snyder wasn’t even aware of the “rally” going on nearby; he learned of it later, by watching TV news reports. Thereafter, he found the church’s Web site and began to read the awful things that Phelps had written. He was sickened, he said, and decided to sue.

Among other things, Snyder claimed that his privacy had been invaded. But much of his case focused on the mental and emotional harm that had been done him by Phelps’s speaking and writing, and how his hurt feelings resulted in physical symptoms. The plaintiff won his case, and a Baltimore jury awarded him nearly eleven million dollars, the far greater portion of which was for “punitive” damages. The jury was eager to punish Phelps for expressing his odious views.

The case worked its way through the legal system. One appellate court cut the damages in half, but that still was going to cost the Phelpsians five-and-a-half million bucks for exercising their First Amendment right to speak. The Westboro Church would face financial ruin.

A few wrong-headed atheists were thrilled that an ultra-right-wing religious propagandist might soon be poor enough to have to convert his soapbox into an article of clothing. Others were horrified by the free-speech ramifications. (If you’re interested in hearing a group of atheists —including me in my ex-persona — give fuller details of the case and discuss their views, listen to this podcast.)

The award stood until the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit reversed the verdict.

Of course, Snyder’s lawyers appealed that decision to the Supremes, the only judges with jurisdiction to overturn the Fourth Circuit. What’s chilling is that at least four justices — the number required to “grant a writ of certiorari,” or, in plain language, agree to hear the case — have decided that a frivolous lawsuit, brought in flagrant disregard for the principle of Free Speech, is worthy of being argued in the nation’s highest court.

I’m guessing that the case will get tons of coverage in the media, since it has the elements of a great story: our country’s knee-jerk adoration of all things military, most citizens’ unquestioning belief in Christianity (even the brand in which the main mission is to spread hatred), and America’s homophobia.

I’m further guessing, but I hope I’m wrong, that the principle of Free Speech, the only actual question on which this case ought to be based, will get lost in most of the intentionally ignorant, sensationalistic, reporting.

It’s important that all bloggers, not just those of us in the Atheosphere, keep that principle in mind. If Phelps loses, so will we all.

Posted in First Amendment | 27 Comments »

So What Did Your Grandfather Invent?

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 03/08/2010

Sometimes I get emails asking me: “Who the hell are you to tell us what you think?” Well, I may not be as important to Kentuckians as Lexington native George Clooney, but my ancestors were noteworthy. After all, my grandfather discovered the sundial.

At the time, he was about 82 years old, give or take a month. Grampops was living in the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn, where he spent a lot of hours hanging out near the ocean. His primary interest, he’d say in his thick Russian-Yiddish accent, was “lookink at vimmen. But the sky’s not so bed, too.”

No matter how long or how often he sat out on the sand, his skin color never changed from its Eastern European pallor. “Jews don’ boin, but ve also don’ ten.” That sounded very suspicious to me, so after I voiced enough skepticism to satisfy even him —Grampops was an atheist and an anarchist — he confessed that he always dressed himself up in long winter clothing. He chuckled as he admitted that he probably looked like “a heskymo vit a sun-het.” I could see him as a sort of lascivious Nanook of the North, cruising the ladies and chewing on blubber dipped in chicken fat.

I asked him why he didn’t wear a bathing suit like everyone else did. “I got sotch a terrific chest, dey nid a semple? Believe me, brains I got. Poisonality, I got. Maybe ivven a nice face. But a body like from Charles Hetlas, I don’ got. Who nidz it? At mein age, I’ll gonna peek up dumballs?”

Still, he seemed to have a surprisingly high degree of success with Eastern European “leddies” of a certain age. My father once asked him, “You’re having a lotta dates, huh, Pa?” Grampops responded, “Mm-yah, but dey don’ all vind up vere I vant dey should.” He wasn’t talking about the bedroom; he was actually referring to his kitchen. Grampops was a sucker for homemade gefilte fish.

But I was telling you about his discovery of the sundial.

It may not be true that “behind every great man there’s a woman,” but it was for Grampops. In fact, the female in question was literally breathing down his back when he got the idea for a sundial.

“So I’m sittink on a blenkit de odder morning. Dere’s a voom’n I know a coppel towels down de byeech, an’ she kips giving me an eye like she’s maybe takink an hex-ray. So I tink, vot’s vit dis crazy goil starink at me like I’m sotch a Castle Nova?’

For Grampops, being pursued reminded him too much of his experiences with the Cossacks. He liked to think that here in America, he was in charge of all romantic liasions. This particular woman, Ida was her name, had thrown herself at him on the beach a number of times, but he’d always metaphorically tossed her back into the ocean. She was not a gefilte he cared to catch.

“So Ida gets hup and starts comink over by me, vit a vink dat I should maybe get hall egg-sided from sotch a regular Jan Mensfeel. So I’m payink no attention, playing vit de send, follink arond vit a steek. ‘Oy,’ she says, ‘dat’s some beeg tveeg you got dere.’”

Ida’s conversational gambit didn’t work. Instead, she was treated to short dissertation on sticks, and shells, and seawood, and all the other kinds of wonderful debris available there for the taking if a person was trying to avoid feminine attention. “So before you could say Jackie Rubenstein, she goes avay.”

In the meantime, though, Grampops had become completely fascinated with the shadow cast by the stick as it stood upright where he’d shoved it into the sand. “It vas just like a clock. By mein reestvotch it sad a leetle afteh vun, and lo and be hole, de sheddow sad a leetle afteh vun, too.” At two o’clock, he looked again. “De sheddow moved! An’ guess vat it sad? Not four ah clock, not three o’clock, not iffen two-thoity. Two o’clock! On de button. Ho boy, I’m feelink like a real Thomas Elvis Hedison.”

As the sun continued its journey through the sky, the shadow imitated its course. Grampops watched in amazement. At the end of the day, he took his prize magic stick home.

“So,” he told me proudly, “the next day, I got a pants’l and a piss paper, and I drew meinself a byoodiful soicle vit numbers like a clock. An’ vit a leetle Alma’s glue, I put de steek in de meedle.” Then, proudly, he positioned his contraption in the window.

“It voiked. I discovered how to make a clock vit only steek.” Grampops now had something in common with the ancient Babylonians, besides being vamped by Ida. “If I nid to know de time, I just pick at mein vindow.”

But even the greatest geniuses have to deal with obstacles now and then. “It don’ voik so good at night or ven it’s rainink,” he complained. “So ho K, I’ll batter kip mein reest votch, too ”

That’s my pedigree, and the reason why I have the right to criticize those whose grandparents did not make any earth-shaking scientific discoveries. I’d write even more condescendingly, if I had the time. But I’ve worked on this post long enough, at least according to the stick in my window.

Posted in Memoirs, The Oys of Yiddish | 17 Comments »

But Will They Be Sane in April?

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 03/06/2010

The U.K. Wildcats will be involved in “March Madness,” a yearly religious event in Kentucky. So today’s “Life + Faith” pages of our local rag asked the question: Is It OK to Pray to Win? Eight charlatans weighed in on this earth-shaking question.

Their answers are too stupid to dignify by quoting in full, but I’ll give you a quick summary.

Reverend Kory Wilcoxson says that praying for the Wildcats isn’t exactly wrong per se, obviously because it’s not covered in the Ten Commandments. But it’s one of those supplications that “God doesn’t like much.”

Reverend. Myron Williams disagrees. He’s content to pray for anything that will “bring honor to God through skills and sportsmanship.” Clearly, basketball is one of the primary ways to do that.

Reverend Bob Evely writes: “I do not think God takes sides. …I don’t believe he has preferences in our leisure activity.” That sounds reasonable in a Christian-y kind of way — until Evely expands on his thinking. He worries that Lexingtonians will make the team “our idol.” Hey, we all know how pissed off the Big Guy would get about that.

Reverend Joseph N. Greenfield starts off cutely. “Does God choose sides?” he asks, and answers “Absolutely.” Huh? But maybe, just maybe, he’s talking about whether or not humans are fer Jesus or agin’ him, not what their basketball preferences are. To be sure everybody understands this, Greenfield sprinkles in a few bible quotes, just so the reader will know he’s not making this shit up. However, he cleverly contrives to leave the question unanswered.

Reverend Roger Bruner, not to be outdone, also cites the good book, but he doesn’t approve of making book. He thinks the outcome of a basketball game is not God’s “business,” and he has the courage to tell March-Mad numnuts that “Prayer is not for this purpose.”

Sharon Donahue, a religious blogger who writes under the name Angela Merici O’Donoghue, compares the biblical story of Jericho’s fall to a college basketball tournament. “Joshua clinched a spot in the Final Four, defeating No. 1-ranked Jericho.” That’s either fucking brilliant or incredibly dumb, I haven’t decided. But the analogy provides enough razzle-dazzle for her to avoid answering the question.

Reverend Jim Sichko relates an entertaining story that allegedly occurred when he and his brother saw a prize-fighter praying before a match. (Will he win? Yes, if he can box.) We’ve all heard variants of this anecdote dozens of times, so it must be printed in the preacher’s handbook. The reverend adds: “God always answers my prayers, but sometimes, God’s answer will be ‘no.’” Nice! Although he ends his response by saying that “God has much larger issues to tackle than who wins,” Sichko makes sure to mention that he, himself, is a Wildcats fan. There’s no point in alienating the congregation, eh?

Reverend David Head assures readers that God is responsible for everything we enjoy in life, including, obviously, basketball. But “God does not take a side in athletic competition. He only has one side: his.” It’s not clear from the article whether Head actually wears a cheerleader outfit or not, but he can’t resist shaking those pom-poms as he mentions Jesus by name.

Augggh. What an incredibly stupid article, with “answers” that are even dumber than the premise. The Herald-Leader is beneath contempt for wasting valuable “newshole” on its ridiculous “Life + Faith” features, but this one really takes the (devil’s food) cake.

It’s no wonder that the very mention of Kentucky makes people in the rest of the country burst out laughing.

Posted in Freedom from Faith, New to Kentucky | 21 Comments »

Homesite Puzzler #3: Famous Kentuckians

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 03/05/2010

I complain a lot about my new home state, but we do have our share of famous folks. Why, just this morning, right under the banner on the local rag’s front page, was a boxed picture of an odd-looking movie character. In big letters were printed the words: Johnny in “Wonderland;” the caption below them read As the Mad Hatter, Kentucky native Depp goes the weird route again.

As far as I’m concerned, if he’d truly taken the “weird route,” he would have wound up back in Lexington. But perhaps there’s no room here.

In any case, that blatant example of boosterism got me thinking about other famous Kentuckians. And my love of Lewis Carroll got me thinking about puzzles. So what could be more natural than to combine those two ideas.

Therefore: Each item below is a clue to the identity of a famous person who lived in the Bluegrass State. When read as a sentence (or sentences), the words give a hint, although sometimes only a vague one. But each item also contains, in anagrammed form, the name of the person sought. The letters of the anagram always appear as consecutive complete words, although you may have to ignore some punctuation. Parenthetical information is included only to show each person’s Kentucky tie, and does not contain any anagrams.

[NOTE: Since I’d like to give a chance to as many readers as possible, I’m asking solvers not to include your answers in your comments. Instead, email your solutions to elwallberg@gmail.com. I’ll list the names of all those who get any of the anagrams right, along with the number of correct answers they’ve sent. The reader with the highest number wins a lovely photograph of Johnny Depp, cut from today’s LHL, and personally autographed (by me, not him). In case of a tie, each winner will receive a piece of the picture. (Hey, I’ve only got one).]

1. Did his farmer folks predict that this kid would grow up to espouse such a cagy creed?
(Born in Beverly, raised in Hopkinsville)

2. Was he a rabbi, priest, lama, imam? Duh! Although not a religious leader , he was very active in the Boxer Rebellion.
(Born in Louisville)

3. Yes, he might archly yen to reside in the White House, but he claimed he didn’t want to be president.
(Lived in Lexington)

4. Although she may look like the lamest hen, oh! she’s the only one with her own roost among the chickens.
(Born in Winchester)

5. His legends don’t mention whether he wore any robe in Vinegaroon.
(Born in Mason County)

6. If ye’re gay movie fans, does his “cool” engorge ye?
(Born in Lexington)

7. My dearie yawns when watching the news.
(Born in Glasgow, raised in Louisville)

8. The good ol’ boy in redneck jeans drives off with this guy’s flag.
(Born in Christian County)

9. Even the loudest drunk cannot air ire the way she did.
(Born in Garrard County)

10. This rare bird was bound on “a hajj,” muse-inspired, all over America.
(Ran a business in Louisville)

11. Some people thought he could even track ions!
(Born in Madison County)

12. He gave carefully selected information to a nosy town.
(Born in Berea)

13. Do your eardrums get tonally rent when you listen to her?
(Born near Paintsville)

14. Us Brooklyn boys can cut down doze giants even wit’out a sabre or an epee. See, we’re winning!
(Born in Meade County)

15. Many writers whose talents were barrener went porn, but this guy wrote a novel fit for a king.
(Born in Guthrie)

Solvers (with number correct):
The Chaplain (9)
Yunshui (1)
Srsny (7)
DJ Spin Dragon (15)
The winner, obviously, is DJ Spin Dragon.
[If you’d like to know the solutions, send me an email and I’ll respond with a list of correct answers.]

Posted in New to Kentucky, Puzzles and Games | 15 Comments »

News from Mayberry

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 03/03/2010

Sometimes, when I read my local newspaper, I have to remind myself that I haven’t moved to a sitcom town. Here are a few stories from the Lexington Herald-Leader’s Web site today. I’ve taken the liberty of changing a few names and adding some minor unverified details. But the major facts are basically true.

1) A deputy sheriff has got hisself in trouble again.

It seems that a brand new judicial center, which cost the taxpayers about twelve-and-a-half million bucks to build, was opened in Columbia, Kentucky on Monday. The poor ol’ deputy, takin’ hisself on a walkin’ tour of the premises, no doubt, accidentally locked his sorry ass in a jail cell. That ain’t the best thing to do if you’re claustrophobic, which the deputy is.

So he done the only thing a sane person woulda. He tried to shoot his way out.

The deputy was fired and ast to pay for the damage. There’s no mention of whether or not he ran to Aunt Bee’s for comfort and pie.

When reached for a comment, Opie Taylor said, “Gosh. Paw sure musta been mad to of fahrd good ol’ Barn.”

______________________________________________________________________

2) A shrink from Covington was arrested las’ month after one a his patients was stabbed with a sword. He prolly did it hisself, since he was seen holdin’ the dang thing in both his hands and she was all bloody-like. Luckily, the doc got distracted for God-knows-why, and some folks was able to rassle that blade away from him.

Anyways, the guy was took to jail. That inconvienced some a his patients, who needed their p’scriptions. So, natchally, they been tryin’ to see him while he’s behime bars. The jail authorities have had to explain to folks that no pris’ner in no cell’s allowed to practice no trade a his.

Gomer Pyle, who needs them pills to deepen his voice for when he sings and suchlike, tole reporters, “Gol-lee.”

______________________________________________________________________

3) Yesterday, before Jim Bunning wussed out on his attempt to keep all those low-lifes from gettin’ their unemployment and other freebies they don’ deserve from the gummint, there were lotsa commie, homo, god-hatin’, baby-killin’, Obama-lovers rallyin’ against him. But some good citizens came out to take his side. One savvy woman who musta been empowered to speak for the whole state put it best when she said, “Thank you, Jim Bunning, I am sooooo proud of you. Kentucky is proud of you.”

Town drunk Otis Campbell was briefly seen at the pro-Bunning rally, but he left early to check hisself into jail.

______________________________________________________________________

4) All Lexington is het up with excitement cause George W. Bush is gonna be the guest of honor at a banquet in these parts. The ex-president will receive the “Distinguished Little League Ambassador Award,” just like his daddy got in 1995.

The Herald-Leader don’t say whether it’s the Little League, the Ambassador, or the Award itself that’s distinguished. But that don’t matter, cause prolly the word fits all three.

Barber Floyd Lawson has offered a free haircut to his hero, and schoolteacher Helen Crump has promised to help Mr. Bush with his elocutin’.

Posted in New to Kentucky | 24 Comments »

Horton Hears an Evangelical

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 03/02/2010

[Note: A couple of years back, I posted the following pseudonymously on my previous blog. I’d like to acknowledge authorship under my real name, so I’m republishing this piece here on the appropriate date: Dr. Seuss’s birthday.]

In a place known as Whoville the folks got distraught
When Horton the elephant said what he thought.
“The oddest of oddities isn’t as odd
As people believing that there is a god.”

The Who Jews and Muslims and Hindus and Buddhists
The Who Vegetarians, Wiccans, and Nudists,
The Who Presbyterians, Baptists, New Agers:
All spread the sad news on their cell phones and pagers.

A Who Evangelical fell to his knees
And he said, “Oh no, Horton! I beg of you, please!
We always have liked you. We all think you’re swell,
And we can’t stand the thought that you’re headed to hell!”

But Horton just laughed and he wiggled his trunk.
The bible to him was a big bunch of bunk.
He meant what he said and he said what he meant,
“Religion is silly a hundred percent.”

The Who Evangelical let out a snort in
A very snide way most insulting to Horton.
“You say you’re an atheist? Here’s what we’ll do —
For we all know that atheists are anti-Who —

We’ll drive you from Whoville; we’ll send you away.
Or else we will force you to worship and pray.
A person’s a person, no matter how small,
But an atheist isn’t a person at all!”

But Horton just laughed once again even louder
And told all the Whos he would not take a powder,
Nor worship some stupid nonsensical being
That no one was hearing and no one was seeing.

“I will not be threatened,” he said. “It’s not funny.
I won’t trust your god with my flag or my money!
I will not allow him to influence science.
An elephant thrives on his own self-reliance!”

The Who Evangelical said, “My dear chap, sure
You think you’re so smart, but just wait till the rapture.”
The anti-Christ’s coming and then you will find,
That your friends are in heaven but you’re left behind.

“We cannot allow that to happen to you,
Because, after all, Jesus loves ev’ry Who.
You must accept God for the good of us all.
A person’s a person no matter how small.

“And though you’re no Who (you are just a big elephant),
God loves you, too. What you are is irrelevant.
He can destroy us if someone’s defiant.
A sinner’s a sinner no matter how giant!”

The Whos approached Horton, began to surround him.
If some of the Whos had their way, they’d have drowned him.
Some others thought maybe they might build a fire.
And stoning was mentioned among the Who choir.

But Horton was huge and avoided the crunch of them,
Picked up his foot, and then stepped on a bunch of them.
Hoping survivors would give up their mission,
The elephant told them about superstition:

“The oddest of oddities isn’t as odd
As people believing that there is a god.
There isn’t a heaven, or hell you should dread.
A person’s a person — until he is dead.”

Posted in Books & Bookshops, Freedom from Faith, From Bad to Verse, Seriously Silly | 15 Comments »

You Say You’re an Atheist: Part III

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 03/01/2010

This post is the final installment of a discussion begun here and continued here. I’ve titled the series “You Say You’re an Atheist,” but I might better have called it “You Can’t Tell the Players Without a Scorecard.”

Before jumping into my description of Category 4 Atheists, I must again remind you that — for purposes of these posts — I’ve defined “atheist” as anybody who claims to be one. I have to point that out emphatically here, because the following classification will probably be objected to by at least some of my readers. Hell, I kind of object to it myself.

Category 4 Atheists:
People who are pissed off at their god (or his representatives)

Most of us who have tootled around the Atheosphere have come across these folks, and some of us have even met them in person. They’re theists who have become mad at, annoyed with, or disappointed in their SuperBud. When they say “I’m an atheist,” they’re issuing a challenge. But not to other humans. Category 4 Atheists fall into three subcategories, but there’s a good deal of overlap. If you’re so inclined, feel free to try to disentangle them into three distinct piles. I can’t.

The Forsaken are those self-identified atheists who have grown to hate their imagined supreme being, or, at very least, become majorly disappointed in him. There are dozens of reasons why their prior love might go sour, but you can usually find an unfulfilled expectation floating around somewhere. The announcement of their atheism is likely to follow a period in which they have, either figuratively or literally, looked up at the sky, and complained “But I’ve done everything you commanded.” Other forsaken types may feel that their god has acted unjustly in causing a natural disaster, or in not preventing it.

Screwyou-ers are Category 4 Atheists who have fallen out with ultra-religious family members, friends, or church officials. Their basic attitude is “I’ll show you!” People in this subcategory are usually eager to come out.

Godbaiters are folks who challenge their god to prove his existence. Some godbaiters have been on a long spiritual quest, and they’re merely trying atheism on for size. Others, are actively looking for either a sign of disapproval or an indication of love despite the fact that they’ve strayed; they assume that the easiest way to get such a message from on high is by announcing that they’re atheists. Godbaiters often live in both fear and hope.

A Further Note on Category 4 Atheists:
Most atheists can’t stay in this category for long. It should come as no surprise when Category 4 Atheists return to the god from whom they’ve fled. Many of them do, usually sooner rather than later. However, as difficult as it may be — and I must confess that I, myself, find it extremely hard — we have to recognize that these people believe themselves to be atheists, even though they’re clearly using a definition of “atheism” that most of us would find … um … paradoxical. But who are we to judge? In any case, not all Category 4 Atheists go screaming back to the religious fold. For some, their announced atheism is like painfully ripping off a bandaid; when they’ve finally done it, they discover that the damaged place (in their brains) has healed.

In Conclusion:

Now that I’ve gotten a good look at the real U.S.A., as embodied in Jeezucky, I’ve become convinced that American atheists must insist immediately on having a voice in politics, government, and education. We also need to take an active role in shaping cultural attitudes. Obviously, in order to demand effectively that our collective voice be heard, we atheists are gonna have to organize. So it’s imperative that we work hard to find areas of commonality among our various viewpoints. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done. How can such a disparate group of individuals agree on anything? I think we have to start by recognizing who we all are, and building from there. Hence, this series of posts.

Posted in Freedom from Faith, Language & Meaning | 14 Comments »