Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Atheist Asshats. Who’d of Thunk It?


During informal discussion in an atheist group the conversation turned to the indoctrination of children by their religiously impaired parents, some labeling it child abuse. A tad extreme for my taste, but I understand the basis for that thinking. It progressed from that to discussion of bad/neglectful/abusive parenting in general.

At that point it took a turn that surprised the hell out of me. One of our members actually called for the governmental licensing of prospective parents. Evidently the state would administer a test and if the prospective parents passed then they would be afforded permission to procreate. Procreation without said license would be a criminal act.

The primary proponent, who found at least two other similarly minded supporters, opined that since the government requires a permit prior to building an extra bedroom, or a license prior to purchasing a gun , why not ensure prospective parents are adequately knowledgeable in child rearing. He went so far as to suggest fine, imprisonment, and child confiscation if parents didn’t submit to testing and licensing…even stating that those who prostested and would circumvent such a law would, by definition, be unfit parents and should have their children forcefully confiscated by the state..

This person is approximately twenty years old (my guestimate), I know he doesn’t have children and isn’t married, and for all I know has been raised in a cave and fed road kill during his formative years. More likely he is upper middleclass, well fed, and living with his unlicensed parents. But his adamant stance that the government, in order to protect the relative few, would impose on all their role as supreme and sole arbiter of who can and can’t reproduce frankly scared the shit out of me.

I had always given atheists more credit than that. I had always assumed (yeah, I know…spare me the ASS/U/ME diagram) that any thinking person even vaguely familiar with 1984, “Big Brother”, Brave New World, all of the gross excesses of Totalitarian, Authoritarian, Utopian societies that Huxley and Orwell warned us of , would shun the concept of sacrificing basic human rights and biological imperatives and willingly turn their control over to a central authority. I had always given credit to Free Thinkers as being the keepers of the flame of Ben Franklin’s admonishment that (and I paraphrase here) "Those who would sacrifice a little liberty to gain safety deserve neither.”

I was wrong on both counts. Atheism and intellect is no guarantee, no assurance, that they are all defenders of freedom and human rights, anymore than every theist can be tagged as a theocratic suborning intolerant fascist. Live and learn.

Personally, given the choice, I'd prefer to live in a "Christian Nation" ruled by mindless, medieval, science hating Christian Fundies, to one where Utopian Authoritarians assume the role of regulators of reproduction and become the arbiters of the nuclear family.

Hopefully I'll be long dead before either of those two scenarios present.

17 comments:

Brandon said...

I'm pretty much the one to blame for all this getting out of hand. I made the statement that it just seems odd that people adopting children have to rigorously jump through hoops, and yet people can just have their own children with no questions asked.

I followed by saying I'd never seriously suggest that people need licenses to have children, and that my main argument is that we need to afford children more rights and crack down on abusive parents. The laws which need to be made are ones which more strictly define child abuse and ones which dish out harsher punishments; child abuse of any form is unforgivable.

DromedaryHump said...

Brandon,
No blame. You started a good convo.
It just took an unexpected twist.

You and I are on the same wave length on this topic, as we are on most of them.

Thanks,
Hump

bugsoup said...

I have been watching that conversation and was very surprised to read that some people might advocate that the government require licenses for prospective parents. I thought the government recieved it's power from the people, not the other way around.

The libertarian in me would refuse to get that license just to test the constitutionality of such a law. I'm sure the ACLU would come to my aid to defend against such an attack on basic human functions.

itsme_crazydad™ said...

I've heard even scarier sugestions. How about ALL children are reversably sterilized at an early age, and the reversal is only performed when or if the indavidal is deemed worthy.

p.s. Drom? I only know ONE Atheist Asshat, personally.

DromedaryHump said...

Bug,
Good points and well said. I too would fight that kind of intrusion into my life, or anyones.


This whole licensing procreation thing started with Hugh LaFollette back in the 80's. The driving factor was the [mis]perception that overpopoulation was becoming such an issue that government intervention is required to limit births and thus save the planet.

Surely, if it were provable that every birth represented a reduction in the quality of life of a society or jeopardize civilization an argument could be made for this. But there is no such evidence, and society/civilization isn't in jeopardy, not on aglobal scale, certainly not in America or the Western World.

But the arguments that were made in that group weren't about an apocalyptic Earth. It was about forced govmental social engineering ... of the worst kind.

CD,
If you have a link to that kind of crazy sterilization talk, let me have it please. Hopefully it isn't from some atheists, because that kind in extremism is as dangerous (and embarrasing) as it gets.

As for this atheist asshat that you know... I hope you mean me, but in a good way ;)
Hump

DromedaryHump said...

SHIT!!
In the above post I meant to address it to "Soup",
sorry...old habits die hard.
mea culpa.
Humpv

bugsoup said...

It's an honest mistake.
:)

Joyce said...

It's disturbing to think that there are those who actually those in the United States that think it's perfectly ok to set limits and standards to not only basic human rights. This is one of those blatent extremes, but unfortunately it's not new.

We've been oppressing people in this country where "all men are created equal" for hundreds of years and continue to do so. All for the *ahem* good of the people, good of the nation, blah blah blah.

Drink from a white man's fountain? A criminal act. Allow women to vote? A criminal act. Homosexual marriage? A criminal act. And now ... no license to parent? Well, you get the idea of how dangerous this type of thinking is.

Disturbing.

Just because someone calls themself atheist (or a Christian or a Muslim or a Wiccan or a ... )does not mean that they will share common sense, decency, or a love of justice and equality. What surprised me most is that YOU are surprised by this stance mostly because this person is atheist.

Either way, I'm thankful that this person doesn't hold a public office.

Joyce said...

Sorry. In the first paragraph, it should have read

"It's disturbing to think that there are those who actually those in the United States that think it's perfectly ok to set limits and standards to not only American rights but basic human rights."

DromedaryHump said...

i'm surprised because i'd prefer to think American atheists are well enough read in history and classical fiction, and familiar with current examples ofgovernmental abuse of power to see where surrendering personal /biological rights to authority is a step toward reliquishing their rights as a whole.

i'm still amazed, but youre right,i shouldn't be. i think its indicative of a generation who think all social ills, all problems of civilization can be or should fixed by government, thus give them a free hand andevething will be ok.

i attribute it to the progressive liberal elite for that kind of brainwashing . i don't know who else to blame.

DromedaryHump said...

just to expand on that.
he mindset of the "progressive" liberale lite is:
Big Brother will take care of us in our old age {soc. sec., medicare, medicad);
Big Brother will give us "free" health care;
Big Brother will protect us from crime in our homes, so tools for self defensive are unnecessary.

So, why shouldn't big brother be embued with the power to protect us from the excesses of the few among hus who are unfit to parent, by putting the onus on all to prove their parenting skills?

Someday they will come up with the concept that food and housing is a right, and thus should be supplied "for free" by Big Brother. It's all a matter of time.

bugsoup said...

Hump said: "The mindset of the "progressive" liberal elite is:
Big Brother will take care of us in our old age {soc. sec., medicare, medicad);
Big Brother will give us "free" health care;
Big Brother will protect us from crime in our homes, so tools for self defensive are unnecessary."

I don't mean to argue with you, I'm just throwing out another possibility for the "progressive liberal elite". Could this mindset instead be based in the idea that we (and not Big Brother) are responsible for taking care of each other.

I think it's also reasonable to look at why progressives want things like universal health care. The first reason I can think of (which I actually subscribe to) is that the "health care industry" isn't in it mainly for helping people stay healthy. The industry is in it for profits and they have to answer to the shareholders. People looking to stay healthy shouldn't be seen as "customers", they should be seen as "patients".

As second reason for wanting this (which is debatable) is that a collective single-payer system would be more likely to enforce lower prices on prescriptions, surgeries and other treatments. Think of this as a "union" for customers against those only out for money.

Hump said: "So, why shouldn't big brother be embued with the power to protect us from the excesses of the few among hus who are unfit to parent, by putting the onus on all to prove their parenting skills?"

I'm not sure I see the connection between ensuring everyone has access to health care and the government taking away children. I can see the first happening without sliding down the slope to the second. I think it comes down to opportunity. Give people the opportunity to get medical treatments if they can't afford it and give people the opportunity to have and raise children before calling them unfit to parent.

Hump said: "Someday they will come up with the concept that food and housing is a right, and thus should be supplied "for free" by Big Brother. It's all a matter of time."

This actually makes me think of it from a slightly different perspective. Certainly food is a basic human necessity, but should it be a right? I don't know. To me food and shleter are different issues.

People can live outside given good weather. People can live in very cramped quarters if necessary; there doesn't seem to be many limitations as far as space for housing the homeless. If you've ever driven across the country, you know that there is so much space out there. Why do the homeless have to be living in crowded cities with limited open spaces.

This post is not meant to argue, just to throw some things out there. What do you think?

DromedaryHump said...

Soup,

You're always welcome to argue with me. I know you argue in good faith. Also know you're a Liberal. It's all good.

The right to extort my money to provide for the less fortunate was never a concept of our founding fathers. Indeed, nothing in the constitution ever expected 38% fed. income tax rates, plus, state tax, local tax, sales tax, gasoline tax, cigarette tax, liuor tax, property tax, capital gains tax, inheritence tax, ... all of which equates to 50-65% of some peoples annual income.
No, there was NEVER an expectation by Washington,Jefferson, Adams, Madison, et al, that the State would support its population's personal needs.

If there is an onus to help the less fortunate , then it is thru the altruistic and VOLUNTARY participation of those who want to participate. NOT because the government says:
"You have more than me / you need /you should have/you deserve , so we will take a 1/3rd or more and redistribute it to those who have nothing, or less. Don't like it? tough shit."

Sorry, it's not what this country was founded upon. It has inched toward a socialist welfare state, and continues to do so.

Now, when I contribute my volunteer time at the food bank,or contribute to worthy causes,(breast cancer, food bank, homeless shelter) it's not because i'm compelled to, its because I feel good doing it. That's the only reason anyone should do it. Not because of a sense of guilt,or because the govt demands it, or because there are people who think I don't deserve to keep what I've earned, or because i OWE it to anyone, or by trying to appeal to guilt. No one should have a claim to what I have earned in order to fund those who don't earn, or earn less. I make no claims on anyone elses property, not Bill Gate's, not Bill Clintons, not anyones. I am an Objectivist.

The Constitution speaks to providing for "the general welfare" thats collective not individual welfare, as has been confirmed through history by constiutional scholars. Roads, national defense, education, police & fire depts, infrastructure, etal. Not, Joe's healthcare, or Jane's retirement, or Fred's dinner,or Sue's housing.

If it wasnt for Soc. Security, I'd have been able to take the money I contributed to it, and generated a return on investment that would have made the piddly payout they will start paying me in a fewyears look like what it is..chump change.

And yes, the health care idustry is there to make a profit. Just like family doctors and dentists did in the 19th, 18th, 17th centuries and before. There is nothing sacrosanct about the field of medicine that it should be free for the asking, or that doctors nurses and hospital admininistartors, and the people who invest in medical facilties, or medical advancment shouldn't make a profit. It's every bit as much a business and deserving of profit as the auto industry, Oil ndustry, or retail business, Universities, housin /construction business, or computer industry. If it wasn't who would start the pharmaceutical busineses? Who would become doctors? Whowould invest in becoming a mirco surgeon? Whowould buy multi million dolar pieces of eqiuipment,oor risk millions to discover and devlope them?
That some may think its suppose to be free, or altruistic, is simply a product of this bizarre notion that things that people need should be non-profit. Thats why I'm saying that eventually people will "feel" that cattlemen, farmers, and sheepmen, and grocery stores should be operating as a nonprofit business. Thats communism at its best. You know where that lead.

Whats next? Free homes? Free transportation? Free college education? And who PAYS for this "free" stuff? And at what point do those who are paying...at rates exceeding far beyond what they are paying in taxes now simply say... "why bother to invest, why take a business risk, why bother to grow my business, why hire more people... when half or 60%, or more of every dollar of profit i make will be taken from me by decree?"

The what... Nationalization /confiscation of private lands and redistribution to the poor???

Sorry, I'm a capitalist. Ask for my help, and I will consider it and evaluate it, and perhaps decide to contribute and take my tax deduction. Demand it from me as some sort of "right", because I have more that they do, or more than they think I should have, and youve got something that rubs me and our Constitution the wrong way.

Now, dont get me wrong. People needsing short term help, food stamps, vouchers, shelter, child support, I have no problem with. As I said, I support those personally, and I believe that the "common good" includes some resources to allow a segment of our population to get a foot hold, and also to preserve the quality of society for the rest of us as well.

Anyway... there ya have it.

Oh..yeah, the homeless live in cities because the rural communities, state / federal lands, and private holdings of land owners don't offer homeless shelters, womens shelters, free medical care at ERs, methedone clinics, nor a large enough population from which to pan handle. I am wondering, however, why you ask about that.

DromedaryHump said...

btw...dartmouth and yale have recently decided to reduce the cost of their education to practiacally a community college cost level for students whos families makeless than $75k per year.

No one forced them to do it, no government edict, no ground swell of demands by the underpriviledged, no peasant's revolt. They did it out of their own sense of altruism (and the fact that they have a large endowment and prosperous alumni).

I applaud their action, But I do NOT expect it. Nor should any of us.

bugsoup said...

Hump said: "You're always welcome to argue with me. I know you argue in good faith. Also know you're a Liberal. It's all good."

Actually, I wander between liberal and libertarian. Being relatively new the political scene, I'd never really cared much for defining my position on everything. I'm still learning every day and my opinons can definately be swayed with convincing arguments. This year is actually the first time I will have voted for president (I'm 30). Before now, I didn't think it was important, but now I've seen the light. I appreciate the need to voice my opinions and discover new points of view.

I won't go line by line through your post, because it would be a waste of perfectly good pixels. Most of what you said I generally agree with. I absolutely believe in the individual's freedom to participate or not in our capitalist system.

Taxes are awful. I should know, I live in Taxachusetts.

Charities most certainly should not be funded on guilt or obligation from the government.

I agree that "general welfare" should be applied strictly to public works not for private enterprise, but some would argue that education falls into that "private" category. Things like national defense, police, and maybe fire are only effective in this modern world when provided for by the government. Although, now that I think about it, as long as laws are followed I see no reason why all three of those couldn't be privatized as well (as long as there is a distinction between law enforcement and secuity).

The problem that I see with privatizing social security is that of reimbursement for past contributions. This is probably easily fixed by someone much more knowledgeable than me in economics.

Do you see a difference between luxuries (such as cars, communication, vacation homes, energy, etc) and necessities (such as food, shelter, and health) in terms of which are human rights? I can honestly see both sides of the argument, but I'm wondering where you stand on which of these should be available to everyone and which should be relegated to the free market.


I see your point on the incentives to investment issue. This is one thing I go back and forth on, again because I don't fully understand the complexities of market forces and motivations for investment.

I am interested to know where you stand on education and who (government or individual) is responsible for providing it. Are you on the side of Ron Paul, who think that even education should be a private enterprise, not funded by public money? Or do you think there is some reasonable expectation for the government to supply and regulate the teaching of young people?

I will quote one paragraph because I have personal experience with some aspects of it.

Hump said, "Now, dont get me wrong. People needsing short term help, food stamps, vouchers, shelter, child support, I have no problem with. As I said, I support those personally, and I believe that the "common good" includes some resources to allow a segment of our population to get a foot hold, and also to preserve the quality of society for the rest of us as well."

I won't bore you with details, but growing up, my family had to depend on some of these things because of some unemployment and divorce. I think that people in these situations depend on services like this, but most don't want to. It is a source of pride for a father to provide for his family. Things like scholarships, universal health care, food stamps, energy vouchers, and shelters shoulcn't be used forever, but I still think they are vital to helping our least fortunate get on their feet after a setback. I'm definately not in favor of permanent government support for the lower class, but at some point there is a benefit to all of society for preventing what we currently see on the streets of some cities.

And having the government provide these temporary services is sometimes the only option. The free market can't provide for everyone. Also, even having universal health care will never get rid of the desire that middle and upper classes to get better quality care.

I only mentioned homeless because it was an example of something the government could help people with. I wasn't advocating housing all the homeless.

As a side note that brings this all the way back to criticism of the religious, I find it somewhat ironic that the religious right ISN"T in favor of communism. Jesus was most likely a communist. He wanted everyone to give all their money to the poor and the rich were seen as sinners and sent to hell. If anything, Evangelicals should be in favor of it because it forces everyone to do what they think Jesus wanted, which is ultimately what they are best at.

-Soup

bugsoup said...

Amherst College also did a similar thing. As I understand it, there has been significant pressure on private schools to do this and stop hording literally billions of dollars. Some people did expect them to do it.

I think this issue works both ways. You need people struggling for each side of the issue. If there weren't people pressuing Dartmouth, Yale, and Amherst to open up the reserves then it may never have happened. On the other side, if you didn't have free market capitalists start the hording 50, 100, or 150 years ago, there wouldn't be thes huge endowments that will now provide very good educations to those that can't afford it.

DromedaryHump said...

Soup, we aren'tso very far apart in politicalphilosophy as I suspected.

Soup asks: "Do you see a difference between luxuries (such as cars, communication, vacation homes, energy, etc) and necessities (such as food, shelter, and health) in terms of which are human rights? ... I'm wondering where you stand on which of these should be available to everyone and which should be relegated to the free market."

They are already "available " to everyone. There is nothing stopping people from attaining those things...if thats what they want and is what will make them happy, and if they have a reasonable intellect, work hard, have ambition, invest in their education, and invest their money well. The Constitution, however, only guarentees the "PURSUIT" of happness. It does not guarentee happiness,or success, or a second home etc..

But, it also doesn't guarentee any of the basic necessities of life, only the right to not be stopped from attaining food, shelter,or medical care by governmental suppression, or by prejudicial actions of the private sector.

I am watching the HBO mini series on John McCulloughs book "John Adams". The book describes how the british cut off massachusettes from food stuffs from the other colonies, and foreign governments to punish it for its anti-british occupation stance. It crippled the economy of Massachusettes, and caused mass starvation. The founding Fathers never wanted to see that happen again. But the never expected the British to provide their food for free either, only the right of citizens to obtain it in free trade, and through a free economy.


The Constituion never established that those who (for example) don't care to work, are "entitled" to be fed or housed or clothed or medically treated by you, or me ("we the people").

Soup said: I'm definately not in favor of permanent government support for the lower class, but at some point there is a benefit to all of society for preventing what we currently see on the streets of some cities.

We agree. That safety net is a good thing, for those people who need a short term helping hand. It benefits "the common welfare" of the nation. We should never however pervert that to infer our government "owes" its citizens something greater. And unfortunatly,thats where weve been heading.

True story:
Some years back, I had an manager working for me who was an extremist liberal. I'm talking far to the left of Barbara Boxer and Karl Marx.
We were chatting in the cafeteria one day and she said she believes the government should pay for everything and anything that lets people achieve their "maximum self esteem" "their highest plane of personal fulfillment".
On questioning She included among those things free cosmetic surgery, free sex change operations, free breast augmentation, free abortions, free fertility treatment, free artificial insemination, free child care. It went on. When I asked her how these things could be "free", when it takes moneyto provide them, she said "people who make as much as you can afford to provide it."

Happily a few months later she left the company.