Thursday, March 21, 2013

What is Wrong with Rights?

Today is Human Rights Day which is great because it's a public holiday.  There is however the fact that the words "human rights" still conjure up a vague sense of unease within me is keeping me from enjoying it as much as I should.  This is not OK.  I was raised to have a negative view of human rights and this needs to stop right now so today I'm going to try to dig this thing up by the root!

I think part of the problem was that I was never really clear on why human rights were supposed to be bad.  For as long as I can remember people in church only mentioned human rights in a derisive manner.  Much like "humanism" or "compromise" it was a term that everyone apparently just understood was a bad thing, no explanation necessary.  So that was all I knew.  Human rights were bad.  Actually all rights were bad - Human rights, Children's rights, Animal rights - all of them.  Good Christians were supposed to be against having rights.  Having rights were bad, you were supposed to "give up your rights".  Again, no idea why, it's just something good Christians were supposed to believe.  Lest you think I was just in some weird cult, this happens all over.  Not only do certain American Christians oppose Children's rights, they even actively oppose giving rights to the disabled.  This isn't just something my weird little pentecostal church taught, this is something Christians all over the world believe.  But why?

Well for the first time in my life I looked up the actual Universal Declaration of Human Rights and I have to say, it was no help at all!  Everything on there seemed like a great idea!  I see nothing in it that could be scary in any way, except perhaps if you were a running an oppressive dictatorship.

So I've been scouring my memory banks and came up with two possible reasons I was supposed to consider human rights a bad thing:

Rights lead to entitlement!  I distinctly remember one sermon in the student church I attended making the case that we should abandon human rights and instead adopt human responsibility.  See having rights make you entitled and lazy and prevents you from taking the responsibility to help yourself.  This makes total sense right up until you actually read up on what human rights actually entail at which point it stops making any sense at all.  This is just one more nasty offspring from the union of Christianity with political conservatism.  There is this deep seated aversion to people getting good things they didn't earn themselves which is pretty ironic considering the basic tenets of Christian Theology...  Any mention of human rights also tended to get rather vitriolic when it was regarding the rights of a criminal.  This of course isn't confined to church, this happens everywhere.  Everyone seems to get really upset at the idea that a suspected criminal could have rights under the law, and I certainly understand that impulse.  However this too shows both complete ignorance of what human rights actually entail and a staggering lack of empathy.  You don't think criminals should have rights?  What if you were accused of a crime?  Should you get to have rights?  Yes?  Well then, maybe having basic human rights isn't the worst thing in the world!

Rights are a conspiracy!  If you want to understand Evangelical Christians you need to understand End Times paranoia.  Really if you only have the time to learn ONE THING about Christians, learn this because it colours the world of Christendom more than any other doctrine.  What Christians believe about the end of the world determines how they relate to the other groups, international relations, climate change and everything related to the future.  This is why many Christians - especially in America - distrust the UN.  They believe that the UN is just a forerunner for the One World Government the Antichrist will install during the End Times to oppress all Real True Christians (who weren't Raptured)*.  Therefore, everything connected to the UN must be viewed with suspicion.  No matter how benign it might seem, ultimately it has to be a nefarious trap to destroy the Christian way of life.  Since the UN is the one pushing for rights, rights have to be bad.  I know it doesn't make sense but then again, neither do their ideas about the End Times.

So then as best I can gather I was supposed to distrust human rights because it may make people suffer less and because it could all be fantastical plot by a nonexistent evil entity.  Well, I guess that settles that.

Human Rights are to be promoted and protected.  Human Rights are not to be feared.  These things should be self evident and I'm ashamed that for a while they weren't.  Happy Human Rights Day!

See also:  Things that are and are not cake.  I should add human rights (or just rights in general) to things that are not cake.  You can have the full spectrum of human rights and it will take nothing away from me.  I can have all the same rights too.  There is enough to go around, rights are not cake!  Enjoy!

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Brownie Recipe Glurge - now with added moral consistency

I did not write the following story, I'm just amending the ending to make it morally consistent.  You wouldn't want to forward this glurge and look like a hypocrite now would you?  You can read the original, unaltered version here

If you ended up here because you were looking for an actual brownie recipe, why not try Nigella's Snowflake Brownies?  I've made them a bunch of times and they haven't failed me once!  These are so good you will be weeping tears of joy after every bite!  By all means feel free to leave out the white chocolate bits and add more dark chocolate instead.  Always remember, use the best quality ingredients for the best quality results!

OK, on to the morality tale with the questionable morals!


A father of some teenage children had the family rule that they could not attend PG-13 or R rated movies. His three teens wanted to see a particular popular movie that was playing at local theaters. It was rated PG-13.  The teens interviewed friends and even some members of their family's church to find out what was offensive in the movie. The teens made a list of pros and cons about the movie to use to convince their dad that they should be allowed to see it.

The cons were:
*It contained ONLY 3 swear words!
*The ONLY violence was a building exploding (and you see that on TV all the time they said),
*You actually did not 'see' the couple in the movie having sex, it was just implied sex, off camera.

The pros were:
*It was a popular movie, (a blockbuster).
*Everyone was seeing it.
*If the teens saw the movie then they would not feel left out when their friends discussed it.
*The movie contained a good story and plot.
*It had some great adventure and suspense in it.
*There were some fantastic special effects in this movie.
*The movie's stars were some of the most talented actors in Hollywood .
*It probably would be nominated for several awards.
*Many members of their Christian church, including the pastor, had even seen the movie
and said it wasn't really 'that bad'.

Therefore, since there were more pros than cons the teens asked their father to reconsider his position
on just this ONE movie and let them have permission to go see it.

The father looked at the list and thought for a few minutes. He said he could tell his children had spent some time and thought on this request. He asked if he could have a day to think about it before making his decision.

The teens were thrilled, thinking, 'Now we've got him! Our argument is too good! Dad can't turn us down!'
So, they happily agreed to let him have a day to think about their request.

The next evening the Father called his three teenagers, who were smiling smugly, into the living room.
There on the coffee table he had a plate of brownies. The teens were puzzled. The father told his children
he had thought about their request and had decided that if they would eat the brownies, then he would
let them go to the movie. But, he explained, just like the movie, the brownies had pros and cons.

The pros were :
*They were made with the finest chocolate and other good ingredients.
*They had the added special effect of yummy walnuts in them.
*The brownies were moist and fresh with wonderful chocolate frosting on top.
*He had made these fantastic brownies using an award-winning recipe.
*And best of all, the brownies had been made lovingly by the hand of their own father.

The brownies only had one con :
*He had included a little bit of a special ingredient: The brownies contained just a small amount of dog poop.
But he had mixed the dough well and they probably would not even be able to taste the dog poop and he had baked it at 350 degrees so hopefully any bacteria or germs from the dog poop had probably been destroyed.

Therefore, if any of his children could stand to eat the brownies which included just a 'little bit of crap' and not be affected by it, then he knew they would also be able to see the movie with 'just a little bit of smut' and not be affected. Of course, none of the teens would eat the brownies and the smug smiles had left their faces.

The next day the kids told their father that since they weren't allowed to see the movie they would be spending their weekend reading a book instead, unless he had objections to their choice of literature as well that is.  Since the father was very strict and wanted to shield his kids from all material that had age inappropriate content he asked them to tell him more about the book they planned on reading.  They then made the following list of pros and cons for their dad's consideration.

The cons were:
*It contained SOME bad language but not that much.
*It does however contain plenty of sex.  It starts off with some nudity and before long there is sex, rape, incest, sexual slavery, prostitution as well as some passing mention of homosexual sex and bestiality.
*It is pretty violent, start to finish.  There are beatings, stabbings, suicides and murders.  Genocide, patricide, infanticide are all regular occurrences and it also features many brutal depictions of animals being abused and killed in various sadistic ways. 

The pros were:
*It was an international best seller.
*Everyone they knew had been reading it and recommended it as a "must read".
*Many people in their church, including the pastor, had also recommended reading it.
*It contained many noble themes such as perseverance during adversity, humility, forgiveness and compassion for the less fortunate.
*It celebrated the victory of good over evil.
*This book contained some of the most memorable characters and themes of all.
*Since it's based on a true story, it's considered very inspirational.

"Well", said the dad, "I can see you put a lot of effort and research into this but it sounds to me like despite all the good you claim it contains, it there is just way too much inappropriate stuff in there for it to be wholesome reading.  However I'll leave it up to you" said the dad smiling smugly, "if you'd like to prove to me that you can handle so much crap mixed in with the good, I'll be happy to whip up a batch of my special brownies for you!"

"Sheesh! No thanks! That won't be necessary dad!", the kids said in unison.  "It's fine, we promise we won't read the Bible!!"

Have you ever seen the insanely strict standards by which Christian media review sites like Plugged-in Online judge movies and TV by?  The irony is that if they ever judged the Bible - which they claim as the source of their judgements in the first place - by their own standards, the review would be more damning than the one they gave the SAW franchise!  If the Bible was published today, Focus on the Family would be telling you to stay far away from it!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

If you got problems...

You know, when you have one it's really easy to take it for granted.  Sometimes it's easy to forget just how many problems are solved simply by having one.  Thankfully someone stuck this reminder on a roadsign!