Category Archives: Religion

The Misguided Standards of YouTube

In the election last week, Missy Reilly Smith ran for Washington DC delegate to the United States House of Representatives (she lost to Eleanor Holmes Norton).  Smith ran largely as an anti-abortion candidate.

She ran 30 second ads which aired 24 times on local broadcast network affiliates across the greater Washington, DC metropolitan area, preceded by a 15 second warning (added by the station management) due to the shocking content.

What was the ad?
 
It was 30 seconds of still photos of aborted babies.  Dead babies ripped apart and sucked out of a mother’s womb aren’t very pretty, but they are real and should be shocking to a civilized society.  We can have daily abortions by the thousands, but we can’t look at exactly what is happening?
 
If you can’t look at it, perhaps you shouldn’t do it.

Ms. Smith’s 30 second ad was pulled from YouTube, which posted a notice that the video amounted to “a violation of YouTube’s policy on shocking and disgusting content.”

Ahhh.  Well, you should know what, for years, YouTube has not found shocking and/or disgusting content.

YouTube has been the long-term home for videos featuring calls to jihad by Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born, Yemen-based cleric, who has played an increasingly public role in inspiring violence directly at….YOU.
 
 He has literally hundreds of videos preaching and urging Muslims everywhere to join in a worldwide holy war against…YOU.  And his videos have had millions of views.

So, let’s get this right.  Actually seeing the results of an abortion are unacceptable on YouTube, but years of videos calling for the deliberate murder of Westerners is….what, free speech?  Terrorist recruitment videos featuring Islamic fighters with guns and rockets is free speech?

A YouTube spokesperson said they are trying to distinguish videos that are merely offensive from those that cross the line of their rules prohibiting “dangerous or illegal activities such as bomb-making, hate speech and incitement to commit violent acts” or that come from accounts “registered by a member of a designated foreign terrorist organization” or used to promote such a group’s interest.  That rule seems clear enough.  So why did it take years and years of international begging for YouTube to remove last week some – some – of the hundreds of videos featuring calls to jihad by a creep playing an increasingly public role in inspiring violence directed toward….YOU?

I wish I knew the answer.  I wish I understood why a video of aborted babies got axed immediately, while several governments and individuals have struggled for years to get these jihad videos off YouTube.  I wish I knew why there is so much tolerance for this jihadist hate and violence, and so little for the fate of aborted babies.
 
I wish I knew.

Fatwa Issued Against Seattle Cartoonist

I feel so very sorry for Molly Norris.  She is the Seattle cartoonist who, tongue in cheek, made a declaration that April 10, 2010 should be known as “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day.”

As you may know, Islam does not permit renditions of Mohammed.  Worse than putting pressure on her newspaper to fire her for her insensitive comment, she is now on a “hit list” – that’s right…a fatwa has been issued by the Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, the imam who’s been indicated as inspiring the Fort Hood, Texas massacre as well as the plot by two New Jersey men to kill U.S. Soldiers.  Anwar al-Awlaki singled out Molly Norris as a “prime target,” saying “her proper abode is hellfire.”

The FBI Special Agent, David Gomez, told reporters that “We understand the absolute seriousness of a threat from an Al Qaeda…and are attempting to do everything in our power to assist the individuals on that list to effectively protect themselves and change their behavior to make themselves less of a target.”

She has been told to “go ghost,” meaning moving, changing her name, and wiping away her identity.  Her life, as she knows it, is gone, or her life will literally be gone.

Our government is not going to protect her; she’s out on her own, a target of religious bigotry and tyranny.

Granted, this was a blatantly offensive comment — I know something about being offensive without specifically intending to do so – but when an American is put on a hit list by a religious leader of a community that argues it is pro-peace, it makes one wonder if words are meaningful when actions are contrary to those words.

I call on all Muslims around the world to crack down on Muslims killing Muslims, and Muslims killing infidels.  This is not civilized and cannot be negotiated with.  Only other Muslims can force their brethren to value free speech and opposing opinions, even objectionable ones…especially objectionable ones.

It’s About Time, Pope Benedict

The Catholic Church has been under attack (some call it persecution) for the world-wide travesty of Catholic priests molesting boys (mostly), or turning a blind eye to the priests who do.  The stories of offending priests molesting hundreds of children over decades are mind-boggling, and often, the priests were just moved along to some other location to molest again.

The more recent scandal if widespread molestation of children by priests throughout Europe has been a kind of “last straw” for many who have watched the Church blame the media, pro-choice groups, and pro-gay marriage advocates for the scandal.

Well, bless Pope Benedict XVI.  Just recently, he blamed the sins for the clerical abuse scandal on his own Church, and not on a campaign mounted by outsiders.

“The greatest persecution of the Church doesn’t come from enemies on the outside, but is born from the sins within the Church,” the pontiff said, according to the Associated Press.  “The Church needs to profoundly re-learn penitence, accept purification, learn forgiveness, but also justice.”

The AP goes on to say that despite the Vatican’s initial, defensive response to hundreds of clerical sex abuse reports in Europe, Benedict has promised that the church would take action to protect children and make abusive priests face justice.  He has already started cleaning house, accepting the resignations of a few bishops who either admitted they molested youngsters or covered up for the priests who did.

It’s about time!  It is about time that this crimson line be crossed, and the Church ferociously weeds out its molesters and those who stood by (who, in my opinion, are more horrendous than the perpetrators).  The Church should have its own internal Inquisition – without the torture, but definitely with the firings – and fingers should be pointed and steps should be taken to eliminate this rot from their midst.

I’m hoping that Pope Benedict will walk the talk.  Meanwhile, I give him major props for saying the right thing.

Bravery in the Face of Home Grown Terrorism

Two recent acts of bravery bring up a clear point:

1.  A nine year old boy in a Southern town was in the passenger seat of his parents’ car with three siblings all under the age of three in the back.  His mother darted into a convenience store, and a huge man (who was lurking nearby) jumped into the driver’s seat, i.e., it was a car-jacking in the works.  The nine year old had the courage and the presence of mind not to be “politically correct” which would have meant sitting quietly and obeying an adult.  Nope, not at all.  This kid grabbed the car keys and held them tight to his right side.  The would-be carjacker hit the boy’s head against the passenger door in an attempt to get the keys, and failed as the boy was resolute.  As the boy said later, “I didn’t want my family to be taken.”  The car-jacker ran from the car, fell, and was apprehended by police who had been called from the convenience store.

2.  A young female (of course I’m proud) civilian police officer stopped an Army officer from continuing his murders of Fort Hood soldiers by standing up to him and shooting him numerous times while being shot three times herself.  Unfortunately, except for military police (MPs) and civilian police, soldiers on a base do not carry weapons, and are, therefore, sitting ducks for the murderous rampage of “one of their own.”  As it turns out, by all media reports, the history of this so-called American Army officer was clearly one of a terrorist. 

There was a history of his radical Muslim ideology.  Reports against him had been made, but political correctness ruled the day.  Because he had worshipped at a mosque with a radical imam who allegedly had made contact with two of the 9/11 hijackers and had written on the Internet Muslim extremist comments (which, I understand, included a defense of suicide bombers), had tried to indoctrinate patients and his school mates even complained about the political leanings of his class assignments and so much more, was no reason, many authorities have said, to assume he was a home-grown terrorist.  That political correctness caused the death of 13 and serious injury to dozens.  Never mind the fear it has generated on bases around the country and the world where the bullet or bomb can come from the “inside.”

Instead of facing this threat (and please do remember the plots that were foiled against other military bases on American soil in the past several years), we are being told not to “jump to conclusions.”  Well, without jumping to the correct conclusions in a timely manner, hanging on instead to political correctness (meaning that no one should criticize or profile), our military men and women and their families have a good reason to be afraid and angry.  They pay the price.

That nine year old boy didn’t sit complacently and be a “good boy.”  He took charge to protect his own.  We should do the same for our military and their families.  Those who have expressed at any time any philosophy resembling radical Islamic hate should be marginalized, scrutinized, put under surveillance, and supervised.

The first obligation of the American government is not “Cash for Clunkers.”  It’s for the safety of the populace.  The morale of our military took a large hit when they discovered that they were not safe from worldwide terrorists at their own desks. 

Dump all that “PTSD by proxy” nonsense.  Look at the truth, without which we are neither free nor safe.

Fleeing From Life-Saving Cancer Treatment

Police authorities are on a nation-wide search for a mother and her 13-year-old cancer-stricken son who fled after refusing chemotherapy that doctors say could save the boy’s life.  The two left their Minnesota home after a doctor’s appointment and X-ray showed his tumor had grown.  A court has issued an arrest warrant (ruling the mother in contempt of court), and has ordered that the boy be placed in foster care and immediately evaluated for treatment by a cancer specialist . 

His parents insist on alternative medicines, citing religious beliefs.  That led authorities to seek custody, as the court ruled that the boy’s parents were medically neglecting their son, as his form of cancer is considered highly curable with chemotherapy and radiation.

The parents believe in the philosophy of the Nemenhah Band, a Missouri-based religious group that believes in natural healing methods with herbal supplements, vitamins, ionized water and such.  However, lately the dad has jumped ideological ships and is now agreeing that his son needs the best treatment with a doctor of medicine.

All over the blogosphere, you can read arguments as to whether or not the court should be able to countermand the parents.  My opinion?  Absolutely yes…when it is clear that the child is in imminent harm and there are the means to rescue him.

This child is in imminent harm because of his parents and the cancer itself.  Since the cancer is likely curable, it is unconscionable for his life to be taken by parents who choose some extreme religious views which put their child on the road to death.  Secondly, the child, 13, cannot read due to some learning disability.  I question whether or not the parents helped him with that problem either.  Since the boy cannot read, he is relying on the “wisdom” of his parents, who are not giving him the truth, which is “chemo will save you and herbs will let you die in pain.”

Personally, I am very respectful of most (not all) religious views.  I am completely disrespectful of religious views which result in taking the life of an innocent – in this case, robbing the life of an innocent child.

The Pope, The Rabbi and Condoms

During his recent African trip, Pope Benedict XVI said that the distribution of condoms would not resolve the AIDS problem.  The Pope has made it clear that abstinence is going to be the best way to fight AIDS.

Google “Pope” and “condoms,” and you’ll never run out of reading material excoriating the man for his observation and opinion.  Many health advocates have gone ballistic in their criticism of his comments.  They feel it is one thing to promote abstinence as part of the Catholic religion, but that it is an entirely different thing to preach it to the world.

On a person-by-person basis, wearing a condom does, of course, offer some protection against contracting various venereal diseases and (of course) unwanted pregnancy.  It is also true that condoms sometimes break, slip, or are put on incorrectly (taut to the very end).  Everything has its limitations…except abstinence.

I remember listening to a rabbi describing a situation that occurred to his kosher family.  His 7 year old child was invited to a birthday party for a classmate at one of those fast-food hamburger establishments.  When he came to pick up his child at the end of the party, one of the mothers – clearly annoyed – chastised him for the pain he caused his son.  “All the children had hamburgers, chicken nuggets, french fries and dessert, and your little boy had to sit there and eat none of it.  Imagine how terrible your son must have felt?  How could you do this to him?  Food is food.  There is nothing sinful about food.  What you are doing to him is just cruel.”  Just about at the end of her tirade, his son bounded up to him, gave him a huge hug around the waist, and said “I had a great time.  This was a fun party.”

The woman blanched and walked away.  The rabbi followed her and gently told her the following:  animals will eat whatever is around, even if it will make them unhealthy.  Humans are to rise above animals and become masters of their urges.  Imagine my son in a dorm room where harmful illicit drugs are being passed about.  We already know that peer pressure and urges will not force him to relent and give in to the impulse.  Learning at his early age to control impulse and desire is not a harmful trait – many times, it might be a life-saving one.  Look at him.  He enjoyed the company of your son and the rest of the children without giving up his values.  He looks happy and satisfied.  We really need to bring up our children to be masters of their instincts, not slaves to them, don’t you think?
The woman scowled, but listened to him.

Yes, in any one instance, a condom could protect, but in the overall scheme of humanity, why do so many people wish to push away the enormous protective power of moral values?

When the Pope suggests that human beings are best off saving their sexual passion for the stability of a covenant of marriage, he is making a statement that the act of sexuality is elevated by the context, and ultimately protects both man and woman from a myriad of hurtful consequences from venereal diseases to unwanted pregnancies (complete with abortions, abandonment, single-parenthood, and homelessness to name a few).

The naysayers all have one thing in common:  they refuse to want, believe or accept that human beings can commit to a higher spiritual state of thought and behavior.  The Pope believes in us more than that.

I am not Catholic, so this is no knee-jerk defense of my spiritual leader.  The truth is that he is simply correct and too many people don’t want to hear it, because they want to live lives unfettered by rules.  It is sad that they don’t realize that this makes them a slave to animal impulse versus a master of human potential.

Endurance, Not Therapy, Is The Answer to Some of Life’s Challenges

How did we as a people get so “knee jerk” about going into therapy every time we face a challenge or disappointment?

One caller to my radio program was having her three year old son tested for muscular dystrophy, a devastating illness, and the results wouldn’t be coming for two weeks.  She wanted to know how to “cope” with the two week wait.  I told her that she was simply going to feel stressed and scared – that was normal, and was to be “endured.”  She, like many others realizing they had to feel some emotional pain for a while, asked if she should go into therapy!

I asked her what she thought the folks who blazed the trail west in covered wagons did when people died of illness or accident, or if the Indians attacked or food got scarce?  Did they all line up in front of a therapist’s tent to express their pain and look for a magic cure to get through the sometimes unpleasant realities of life, or did they pray, hold onto each other and ultimately….endure?

She laughed, and said, “I see what you mean.”

We are sturdier creatures than we take credit for.  I am a licensed therapist, and there are, indeed, situations in which individuals cannot endure, due to a distinct compromise in a person’s ability to be rational, such as mental illness or severe trauma.  In these situations, I refer people to mental health professionals. 

But most things in life that we must deal with often are best served with some love, some advice, some prayer, and an acknowledgment that sometimes life just doesn’t feel good for a while.

I have told innumerable callers that there is no quick fix for a bad situation – and sometimes, there is no “fix” at all.  I tell them also to turn to each other (family and friends), rather than turn on each other with resentment, frustration, or anger.

Much of life must be endured.  There is still always beauty, such as seeing the flowers among the fertilizer, and there is always light (hope and alternatives).