Monday, July 15, 2013

The Nightmare Scenario

I like many other Americans was flabbergasted by the verdict that was handed down in the George Zimmerman / Trayvon Martin case.

If you follow someone after the police have specifically told you not to do so, pick a fight with the person and then end up shooting the person when you realize that you're not going to win the fight... that's not standing your ground, that's manslaughter.

People have been all over facebook howling about how this isn't about race.  Please.  If Treyvon Martin had called 911 about a suspicious white guy, followed the white guy down the street, picked a fight and then shot the guy, he'd likely already been in jail for many years.  This case is about racism.  To say it's not is to ignore the elephant in the room.  There is overwhelming evidence to show that race really does matter in the courtroom.  White people consistently get lighter sentences and get acquitted in much higher numbers than anybody else.

Putting the race card aside for the moment, there's a bigger conundrum that is created from this case and that is going forward how the mechanics of the stand your ground law is going to work.

This ruling distorts the basic premise behind the law and opens a pandora's box and creates what I refer to as "The Nightmare Scenario".

If you're going to argue that what Zimmerman did was self defense, now when anybody shoots anybody for anything in Florida they will argue self defense.

The next time there's a fender bender and a scuffle ensues and one person shoots the other person they'll argue they did it in self defense.

The next time tempers flair at a little league game and a gun gets used it'll be in self defense.

Just imagine all the old scenarios that just two days ago we'd called "manslaughter" will now be called "self defense"

Moreover you can expect that there won't be any consistency either in how the courts interpret this going forward either. I suspect the full ramifications of this legal decision are not fully understood.

Sure, if you're sitting in your house and a person climbs through your window with a gun in their hands this will be clear cut.  However the next Trayvon Martin situation that happens is anybody's guess.

It creates a legal landscape that's full of crevasses.   Crevasses that likely will be filled partially on ethnicity and social rank.

Now I have to imagine that I'm the only person whose thinking this seriosly alters the legal landscape.  Considering that public outrage that led to this trial, these same people now have a cause.  For better or worse, Trayvon Martin is now a martyr. I expect protests at the capital building in Tallahassee and people demanding that this law be rewritten.

This is literally a ready made campaign.  If this isn't used as a platform to start the dialog about race inequality in this country then Trayvon Martin's death was utterly in vain.  We have to start talking about this and stop ignoring the fact that our legal system is divided along race lines.  I suspect that for the next month there's going to be lots of in coherent howling on both sides of the fence but once the shouting stops, cooler heads have to prevail and we have to collectively acknowledge we have a problem and work to fix it.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Democracy just got strangled in the crib in Egypt.

When the Egyptian military (you know the one basically wholly funded by us) decided to take the democratically elected president out of power in Egypt it effectively sealed the fate of democracy in Egypt.

It demonstrated to the Islamist's that playing by the rules is pointless.  Why go through all the trouble of actually selecting a candidate, campaigning and getting elected if they're just going to be taken out of power by force anyway.  You will note that the Salafists have already withdrawn from the coalition and have formed a war council.

As much as I disliked the message and the direction that the country was being taken, there should have been some other way to change the direction the country was going without resorting to a coup.

What happened was about as anti-democratic as possible.

Just imagine if after Mubarak had been forced out instead a completely pro western government has been elected and a year in the Muslim brotherhood had millions out in the street protesting and suddenly the government was forcibly removed by the military.

We'd call it a coup.  We'd be freaking out that the Islamists were taking over in Egypt.

However because we didn't like these people in the first place we'll all argue that this was positive change and that Egypt will be better off for it.  I don't believe it will be.

What happened here was a combination of many things.

1. People in the street not understanding the democratic process.  If you don't like the president, you work to get a recall election going, not call in the military.

2. Morsi was too busy pushing his social agenda and not focusing on the economy.  Had he focused on getting Egyptians back to work and pumping up the tourist industry he'd likely still be in power. However either blinded by his ideology or beholden to the ideology of those around him, he went off on a tangent trying to implement an Islamic state.

Now with Morsi supports being killed by the dozen, how long is it going to be before there's a call to take up arms.  Then they'll be a call from the other side to take up arms

In a nutshell, I see a civil war coming in Egypt and it's going to be pretty.  It'll be YAMENOF (Yet Another Middle East Nation On Fire)

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Patron Saint of Pedophilia?

When I heard that the current pope was going to canonize John Paul II I was honestly horrified.

Considering that during his rein we had the eruption of the AIDS epidemic and the church continued to preach the sinfulness of condom use while millions of sub Saharan Africans become infected and died from AIDS through unprotected sex.

During his rein it came to light that not only were there priests abusing children but that there was complicity at the highest levels to hide and move abusive priests and to intimidate and silence those abused.

Does that sound like the behavior of someone who should be elevated to sainthood?!? No.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Problem With Evil and its Logical Obliteration of God.

The problem with evil is that it causes an intractable logical conundrum for those who believe in an omnipresent omnipotent loving god.

Imagine a being who could cure all childhood cancer but chooses not to do so.

If someone were to hand you a button upon pressing that would instantly cure all childhood cancer, would you press it?  Suppose there are no side effects from pressing this button.

What would the average person do if they were suddenly presented with a button, upon being pressed would cure all the worlds children of cancer?  What if that button only cured twenty children, or just one random child with every press?

I can't imagine any scenario in which you would not press this button.

Following that logic it would appear that most people are therefore more moral than god.

God either could cure all childhood cancer but doesn't therefore he's evil.
God is unable to cure all childhood cancer therefore he's impotent.
God causes childhood cancer for some unknown reason?

One shallow argument that's constantly made is that god isn't knowable and so complex that we can't possibly understand his/hers/its motivations.

I consider that argument a complete cop out.

I can not conceive of a scenario where a child dying of cancer is a positive outcome.