Posts Tagged ‘pledge of allegiance’

Not being Americish (Americese? Americian? I forget what the right adjective is) myself, I sometimes forget quite what a big deal many of Americaland’s inhabitants make out of the national flag, and allegiance pledged thereto.

I mean, they’re making serious efforts to pass a national law against “desecrating” the flag in any form, even if it’s something you own and you’re not doing anything to it that would be remotely controversial if there were any other pattern on it. Nothing to do with safety, they just think burning the flag is a bad thing and you shouldn’t do it – and, more to the point, they think they should be able to force you not to do it. A majority of US politicians seem to want this to happen.

And something that’s already on the lawbooks is a requirement for students to “show proper respect” to the flag. Schools regularly make children stand and recite a mantra of dogmatic subservience to the very concept of the flag – and, by extension, anyone claiming to represent what the flag stands for.

They used to get them to do something called a “Bellamy salute” in the flag’s direction as well, but for some unknown reason this fell out of fashion in the early 1940s.



Anyway, as per the above-linked Friendly Atheist article, a 19-year-old student recently fought a legal battle for the right not to have to stand up and make a promise she doesn’t sincerely mean.

It sounds like, in this particular case, things were resolved for the sane without much hassle. The superintendent decided she was right, and the code of conduct that requires everyone to stand for the pledge may well be altered in the near future.

But why the hell was this even a legal battle in the first place? Of all the rules schools might be expected to have in place to try and make sure students behave appropriately and the teachers can actually get some teaching done, why is acting out an arcane ritual to “show proper respect” to a flag something they insist is required by New Jersey law?

Laws are serious things. There’s a social agreement that, if you break a law, those charged with running the country get to infringe on your rights in ways they wouldn’t normally be allowed to. Often, this means you get put in prison. It’s highly unlikely it’d come to that in a case like this, of course, but even in the case of a less severe penalty, like the levying of a fine, you’re obliged to go along with it if you don’t want the punishment to escalate. If you don’t pay a fine, they’ll chase you for it. If you resist, you really will get thrown in jail.

They didn’t stand up and make empty promises to a flag when you think they ought to have?

Funny reason to think you’re entitled to lock someone in a cage.

Given my burgeoning interest in social justice and the increasing extremism of my libertarian stance on social issues, I can see that line becoming something of a catchphrase round here.


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… at least according to certain malicious right-wing propaganda outlets.

I have a lot of Christian friends, but sometimes it’s hard not to see the whole religion as one utterly contemptible monolith.

It takes real conscious effort to be restrained, and to give credit to the many good and decent religious people I know, and to funnel my disgust appropriately towards the occasional obnoxious scumbag who deserves it.

How does WorldNetDaily writer Chrissy Satterfield offend mine eyes with her revolting existence? Let me count the ways.

For a start, she’s a fucking liar.

“Never would I encourage vandalism,” she proclaims, as she gleefully describes the defacing of a billboard put up by the North Carolina Secular Association recently, because she knows that’s something she has to say to cover her ass, as a pitiful gesture to avoid accusations of supporting a criminal act.

But when she’s also gushing over how this blatant vandalism has reassured her that “all is not lost”, and outright names it as “something positive”, it’s impossible to see this perfunctory disclaimer as anything but disingenuous.

I would like to extend my deepest thanks to the man or woman responsible for this vandalism. I appreciate the action you took.

How is this not a ringing endorsement of a criminal activity?

Also, she plays the victim card so hard and repeatedly that all the other cards are getting scuffed and I’m going to have to get a fresh deck. In a country which has never been led by a non-Christian President, and in which a majority of the population are so fanatically Christian that they either deny or misunderstand numerous important points of basic science, it’s somehow atheists who deserve to get slapped down a little.

As retribution for how they’ve been “vandalizing [her] beliefs”. As if that were a phrase that had any meaning whatsoever.

She actually calls atheists her “oppressors”. She’s not even self-deluded enough to pretend she doesn’t think that atheists are oppressing Christians in the USA. She’s just sufficiently moronic to be totally up-front about it.

Those oppressive atheists aren’t as “calm and passive” as Chrissy Satterfield would like. They sound a dangerous and aggressive lot. They’re probably the sort of violent, unruly sort who go round damaging and defacing other people’s property whenever they see anyone else expressing an opinion they disagree with.

Oh, wait.

She does touch on this point as well, actually:

Incidentally, when was the last you heard about a Christian billboard that was vandalized? It happens all the time, yet it’s never “newsworthy.”

She doesn’t cite a single instance of this occurring, obviously, let alone provide any evidence that any atheists would actually support the defacement of a Christian billboard in an equivalent situation. But she’s hypocritically whining about it anyway, venting her entirely self-contradictory outrage about this terrible crime even though it hasn’t happened.

But if it did happen, it would be terrible. Even though it’s wonderful that it’s happened now, to somebody else.

By the way, let’s recap on the exact message that was originally written on the billboard:

One Nation Indivisible

That’s it.

That’s the “controversial” message designed by a “spiteful” group to “deliberately insult” Christians.

I wonder if it was so controversial and offensive when it was part of a loyalty oath written in 1892 by a Baptist minister and called the Pledge of Allegiance.

The point of the billboard, of course, is to highlight the fact that the Pledge has gone through several revisions in its history, and the words “under God” were only added in 1948 1954.

It’s an interesting historical point, and it’s worth being aware that not all the schoolchildren who regularly take the Pledge consider themselves to be “under God” – and they’re certainly not all under the same God.

But even bringing up the point is too much for some Christians to bear.

This billboard simply suggests that the nation is, indeed, indivisible, while subtly and unobtrusively omitting certain other words which often accompany this idea. It doesn’t scrawl any lines over anything; it doesn’t rip the pages out of anyone else’s copy of anything; it doesn’t detest or decry any sentiment that any religious Americans want to express, let alone attempt to censor such expression. It just says One Nation Indivisible, and hints that maybe the quietly absent portion of the message isn’t what’s really important.

And certain Christians cannot stand this.

Theirs is the dominant faith in the world, with over two billion adherents, and is vastly more influential than any other belief system in the US. But it’s also such a flimsy, paper-thin structure, liable to collapse at any moment with even the slightest questioning prod, that some of them find it necessary to quash dissenting opinion even to the point of breaking the law.

Well, let’s see them ignore this.

As soon as someone else has a different idea that they’re not afraid to tell the world, out comes the screeching of unfairness and the violent, belligerent, cruelly hostile defense system.

The Yahoo! news story which this arrogant zealot linked to makes reference to several more acts of vandalism, this time against posters that did nothing more than let people know that atheists exist, and yet more bus ads being defaced, which don’t even reference Christianity or any religion, let alone make assertions about them that could possibly cause offence.

And Chrissy Satterfield also praises these criminal acts. There doesn’t seem to exist an attack on non-believers’ freedom of expression which she doesn’t fully support. She is hateful and malicious, and she must be colossally insecure, if the only way she can see for “Christians to stand up for themselves” is to attack and brutalise and destroy any other system of thought with the audacity to make itself known. It is utterly pathetic.

People like this claim to be just trying to protect their own rights, and angered by how easily these rights are afforded to other groups, but this is transparent bullshit. Anything not going her way is called injustice and oppression. Anytime she’s not allowed to retaliate against this perceived injustice with the full force of her self-righteousness, she complains that everyone else is getting special treatment.

The vandal stood up for what he believed in and said, “To heck with what anyone thinks.” I find it quite refreshing considering all of the negativity our country has accumulated lately.

It’s the very existence of atheists with the gall to say what they believe that constitutes “negativity” in Chrissy Satterfield’s eyes. And the criminal attack on a minority group’s efforts to make use of their right to free speech is a positive, to her.

As Brielle points out, atheists, LGBT folk, and many others regularly speak out and say “To heck with what anyone thinks” in exactly the way Chrissy was just praising. In fact, that’s arguably what the North Carolina Secular Association were doing with this very billboard.

But when they do that, Chrissy’s all for shouting them down and stomping on their efforts to get their message heard. Because she doesn’t mean what she says. What she admires is when people stand up for her beliefs, without caring what those other people think. Because those people don’t count. They can be oppressed and shouted down all she likes. And they don’t get to speak up if they have anything to say that she finds offensive.

And who’s protecting my right not to be offended?

You don’t have one, you pompous, self-absorbed cunt. And if you can point to a single instance of an atheist ever claiming such a right for themselves, I’ll happily suggest they join you in shutting the fuck up.

Chrissy Satterfield, your utter contempt for anyone else’s rights is despicable. Please, for the love of anything which is capable of inducing such an emotion in your twisted, blackened heart, find a dictionary, look up the word “compassion”, and spend a few minutes trying to understand why some fellow humans might consider this a desirable attribute.

(Hat-tip to the Friendly Atheist, who is well named, particularly in comparison to the tone of my own tirade.)

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Update: The Daily Kos story referenced below has been taken down. They don’t seem to have anything directly replacing it to address the issues differently, that I can find, but it looks like this may all have been overblown, or at least premature. I still have no idea, but it’s still the politics relating to this story – what laws the Republican vice presidential candidate would or would not support regarding sex education, teen pregnancy, contraception, abortion, and so forth – that are relevant and worth addressing. However, I’m going to leave this piece of entertaining but possibly pointless speculation as it is, now that it’s here, with the proviso that it may all be utter nonsense.

I have a proper skeptical post just about set for tomorrow, but today, it’s still politics. Specifically, it’s still the Republican vice-presidential candidate, which sounds like about the most tedious and dreary topic imaginable for a whole day’s worth of blog post if your interests are anything like mine.

But man, this is better than a soap opera.

There’s been some speculation that Sarah Palin’s youngest son, Trig, is actually the child of her eldest daughter Bristol, and thus Sarah Palin’s granddaughter. There’s reams of stuff about this on Daily Kos, where they actively accuse Sarah Palin of lying about this, and provide a whole lot of stuff to back up their claim.

There are a number of photos of both Sarah and Bristol, with descriptions of how pregnant they supposedly were at the time; I’m sure there are women who would kill to be able to keep their figure as well as Sarah Palin seems to after they’ve given birth, let alone while they’re still carrying a child. Sarah Palin announced that she was pregnant while apparently seven months along, by which point nobody around her had noticed; Trig Palin was born premature about a month later, while Sarah still didn’t seem to be noticeably bulging.

There’s also the really bizarre story about the conditions of Trig’s birth. Sarah apparently went into labour earlier this year, while in Dallas, Texas. Rather than going to hospital and cancelling the speech she was supposed to be giving that morning – which I think she could have been forgiven for, having a child is a valid excuse for missing just about any prior engagement – she gave the speech, and then took an eight hour flight from Texas back to Alaska, all the while “leaking amniotic fluid” (ew). The plane landed in Anchorage, which I’m guessing is a pretty big city in Alaska – they have an airport there, at least – but maybe not big enough to have a hospital of its own, because she then drove fifty miles to somewhere called Mat-Su Valley before finally popping the damn thing out.

Wow. Isn’t gossip fun?

I still really don’t know. None of the arguments are setting off my bullshit / conspiracy theory detector – in fact, it all makes for a pretty compelling case, but I’m holding back from drawing any definite conclusions just yet. Remember, I really am just a guy with no goddamn idea what he’s talking about. It’s possible that this is all entirely untrue, unfair, and distasteful. Though it’s not stopping me talking about it. I guess I must be kind of a dick.

Though, I do think this is something that potentially matters. Sarah Palin is pro-life, against abortion, and favours abstinence-only education. Although she supports the use of contraception, she’s not keen on letting anyone know how it works. The matter of whether she’s been honest about her children has a potential relevance to her actual thoughts and feelings on these political issues, as well as her general integrity and trustworthiness.

I’m not claiming to know what the hell’s going on here, but the situation does look unusual.

Oh, and this time around, Bristol Palin really is pregnant. Definitely. That abstinence-only education must be working really well.

Oh, and apparently Sarah Palin knows less about the Pledge of Allegiance than I do. No, the phrase “Under God” was not “good enough for the founding fathers”. It was added in the 1950s, to a pledge which was written in 1892. I know this, and I’m not even from this damn country. Sarah Palin runs a good chunk of it already, and wants to be in a position where she may be expected to take over the entire thing.

Proper skeptical post tomorrow. I promise.

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