Prayer in Canadian City Councils


Like in the United States, Canada has been having public debates about the role of religion in society for a number of years now. But, unlike in the US, religion, while it prevails in the public sphere quite openly, is not something that we openly discuss. If I go to a store at Christmas time, I will hear “Silent Night” and “O Come All Ye Faithful” as often as I will hear “Frosty the Snowman” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” There are also churches everywhere, and religious groups have a lot of privileges where taxes and land ownership are concerned. And, of course, we have prayers in public offices. Our country has a National Day of Prayer and council meetings tend to start with a prayer. While these prayers are often more on the interfaith side of things, they still assume a god and they are still religious in nature. As such, this has sparked a debate.

One of my city’s news papers, the Herald, published this article on recent events:
“City of Calgary lawyers will review the Supreme Court of Canada’s 101- page ruling against prayer in council to determine if Mayor Naheed Nenshi can still recite the 30 words that begin every council meeting.
Many cities have announced they will suspend or cease their traditional council prayers after Canada’s top court ordered the town council of Saguenay, Que., to discontinue the practice and remove Catholic symbols from council chambers.
The reading of a Catholic prayer at council meetings infringes on freedom of conscience and religion, the court said in a unanimous ruling Wednesday.
Canadian society has evolved and given rise to a ‘concept of neutrality according to which the state must not interfere in religion and beliefs,’ the judgment said.
‘The state must instead remain neutral in this regard.’
The ruling puts an end to an eight- year legal battle that pitted atheist Alain Simoneau and a secular- rights organization against Saguenay Mayor Jean Tremblay.
Several municipalities reacted swiftly to the ruling. Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson skipped prayers at a council meeting Wednesday pending a review of the decision. Windsor said it will do away with the Lord’s Prayer in the wake of the ruling, but the mayors of Winnipeg and Oshawa told reporters they would not immediately put an end to the practice.
Calgary isn’t yet sure how to proceed at Monday’s special council meeting.
For council’s long- standing custom, the mayor asks everyone in chambers to stand for a customary opening prayer that invokes God but doesn’t single out a particular faith:
‘O God, author of all wisdom, knowledge and understanding, we ask thy guidance in our consultations to the end that truth and justice may prevail, in all our judgments. Amen.’
Nenshi, a practising Ismaili Muslim, recites the same prayer used by predecessor Dave Bronconnier, a Lutheran.
In an emailed statement, the mayor said the city’s law department will review the decision.
‘However, I do believe that faith has a role in the public square and we will explore ways of doing that in the context of today’s decision,’ Nenshi said.
Council has begun with a prayer since at least 1977, according to the city clerk’s office. A policy in place since 1986 allows for a minister to recite a prayer, but commonly the mayor or presiding deputy mayor does the honours.
Although the Supreme Court decision ruling is based on the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the province’s legislation parallels the federal Charter of Rights and Freedoms on these tenets, says law professor Errol Mendes.
That would make a legal challenge by another community an uphill climb, according to Mendes, who teaches constitutional and international law at the University of Ottawa.
‘I think it’s a fairly strong signal to the councils across the country that they really have to look at their practises,’ he said in an interview.
While many Calgary councillors are not religious, Jim Stevenson, a member of his Lutheran Church board, says it’s not the court’s place to decide if council prays.
‘Asking the Lord to watch over what we’re doing and to guide us — that’s what the purpose of prayer is, to look for spiritual guidance,’ Stevenson said.
‘So that would be offensive to me if they said we can’t do that if we choose to.’
If the regular prayer was stopped, Stevenson said he would silently pray to himself.
Coun. Gian- Carlo Carra, a nonpractising Catholic, said he understands separation of church and state but also likes the interfaith tradition that commences each meeting. ‘I’m fine with it. Apologies to the atheists out there,’ he said.
In the Saguenay case, Simoneau filed an initial complaint in 2007.
City officials introduced a bylaw in 2008 that changed the prayer to a new one it deemed more neutral.
But in 2011, Quebec’s human rights tribunal ordered an end to the prayers and religious symbols.
The Quebec Court of Appeal overturned the tribunal’s decision in 2013, expressing some reservations about religious symbols in the council chamber, but concluded the city imposed no religious views on its citizens and ruled reciting a prayer does not violate the religious neutrality of the city.
The Supreme Court of Canada disagreed.
‘This neutrality requires that the state neither favour nor hinder any particular belief, and the same holds true for non- belief,” the ruling read. ‘It requires that the state abstain from taking any position and thus avoid adhering to a particular belief.
‘When all is said and done, the state’s duty to protect every person’s freedom of conscience and religion means that it may not use its powers in such a way as to promote the participation of certain believers or non- believers in public life to the detriment of others.’
In the Alberta legislature, the speaker starts each daily sitting with prayer. The justices’ ruling makes a point of not touching the House of Commons prayer because of parliamentary privilege, and that would also apply to Alberta’s house, legislature law clerk Rob Reynolds said.”
As I’m sure you can imagine, Withteeth and I aren’t really fans of our government having a religious bias. However, what Withteeth and I think isn’t as relevant as the data. To give you a bit of insight into the state of religion in Canada (unfortunately I don’t have the most up to date data because our Prime Minister doesn’t understand the value of it), in 2011 non-religious people made up 23.9% of the population. It has risen since then, but I don’t have reliable data on how much. I have read that anywhere from 30-53% of the Canadian population now identifies as non-religious. The 23.9% was an increase from the 16.5% of people who identified as non-religious 10 years earlier in 2001. Catholics made up 38.7% of the population in 2011, which was a decrease from the 43.2% of the population that had considered themselves Catholic a decade before. Again, I don’t have the numbers on how much it has decreased since 2011, but it has been suggested that the decrease in the number of people who consider themselves Catholic has continued. In fact, from what I read, it appears that only Orthodox Christianity has recorded an increase in followers in recent years. The Baptist church had gone from 2.5% of the population to 1.9%. The Presbyterian church had stayed at 1.4% of the population. The United Church had gone from 9.6% of the population to 6.1%. And the Anglican church had gone from 6.9% of the population to 5.0%. However, the Orthodox Church had stayed at 1.7 during that 10 year period and has apparently grown by 14.82% since then. Non-Christian religions as a whole made up 8.1% of the Canadian population in 2011, which was an increase from the 6.4% that they had made up in 2001. As such, the religious traditions of Canada’s past are a little out of date. While I mentioned that the prayers in councils tend to be more interfaith, they do still have a distinctly Christian feel to them. But we are no longer living in a time when Canada is nearly all Christian. In fact, we may have entered into a time when Canada is more non-religious than religious (though I don’t believe we are quite there yet). I believe that it is time that Canada begins to reflect these changes in how things are done.
But not everybody agrees with me. My interfaith group received an e-mail from a man who does not like the Supreme Court’s decision. He wrote “The Supreme Court of Canada’s Decision below [referring to the Herold piece above], is wrong – period!” His reasoning? “If there were ‘No GOD’ ~ the term ‘GOD’ could NOT have come about!” This is very faulty reasoning. We have a lot of terms for things that don’t actually exist, such as “unicorn” and “fairy.” And the concept of what a god is as changed over time. Many early gods were essentially just really strong humans. Humans are storytellers. We use stories to help us make sense of things that we don’t understand. We also use stories to teach values and traditions. Stories don’t necessarily reflect reality, so there is no reason to believe that gods must exist simply because the word exists. And, if the existence of a word did mean that the thing itself existed, then wouldn’t that mean that Thor exists? And the Flying Spaghetti Monster? And every other god that has ever been given a name? This logic simply does not work.
The man went on to say that “They [the Supreme Court] should have UNANIMOUSLY decided to STRENGTHEN the Social/Moral/diverse Religious ‘Fibre’ of our Canadian Mosaic Society by changing the House of Commons Prayer & that of ALL City Council & Government Public Sessions, etc.” When your society is highly secular, as Canada is, pushing religion on the populous doesn’t strengthen it, it tears it apart. Look at the US. Has it been strengthened by the push to make the country more religious? From where I stand, the growing non-religious populace has just been made to feel attacked and put on the defensive, which has led to them fighting back against the religious push. All of the court battles over 10 commandments and school prayers have resulted fro the push to make religion a more dominant part of the social landscape. Those types of battles don’t occur in countries that allow the populace to worship how they want while religion is kept out of the public sphere. He also assumes that religion and morality are interchangeable. This is not true. The moral strength of Canada is not threatened by the removal of prayer. He suggests that we make “All religions are facets of the same TRUTH ~ Let the different faiths exist & let them flourish in our Great Country of Canada to the Glory of the ONE GOD!” the prayer used at all government events. This is not adequate. For one thing, most religious people do not believe that all religions are facets of the same truth. Saying that they are will only enrage the most conservative of religious believers. For another, the one God remark makes it very clear that the Christian God is assumed to be the only true god, which kind of destroys the whole attempt at interfaith that occurred in the beginning. Further more, it ignores the secular populace completely. We make up a large percentage of the population, so we deserve to be represented as much as the religious do. Nobody is taking religion away, they are merely saying that no one group deserves to be represented above all others. This fact seems to go over the heads of so many religious people, and it is quite annoying.
He finishes by saying “Our Founding Fathers based our Canadian Constitution upon the Judeo/Christian Faith – the above would add & proclaim our ‘Unity in Diversity’ & ‘Unity in Divinity’ of ALL Canadian citizens!” Yes, the “our founding fathers” argument exists here too. The hilarious thing about this is we don’t have founding fathers like in the US. We have the Fathers of Confederation who came together to negotiate the creation of the country of Canada, but this is not all that similar to the work done by the Founding Fathers to create the US. For one, we were still a British Colony and had no intent to change that. For another, we had a lot larger of a land mass to deal with and were largely interested in preventing the US from taking any of it. They negotiated terms with one another to bring the various provinces (only some of which joined at the time) together as one country, but they did not need to make a constitution since Canada was still a colony. The original constitution of Canada was developed for Canada by the British parliament. Our constitution is not based on any religion any more than the American constitution is. It is merely a set of rules that has been revised many times to reflect changing times that is meant to give Canadians certain rights and freedoms. And no, the prayer he offered does not in any way support or reflect all Canadians. My diversity is ignored, as is my right to not believe in any divinity. How can anything that ignores a large chunk of society proclaim anything about all of us.
It is a huge mistake to assume that representing your personal beliefs represents all beliefs. Just because you feel represented doesn’t mean that everyone else will. And just because you believe something to encompass everyone doesn’t mean that it does. We all have biases, and those biases blind us to the various beliefs that we don’t hold. What is more, not representing anybody is not the same as taking away your rights. If the government doesn’t say a prayer, then they aren’t representing any specific religious beliefs. However, they also aren’t removing any freedoms from anyone. The religious can still pray when and where they want to, they just no longer have the right to force their prayers on me. They are losing a privilege that I don’t have, but their rights and freedoms are still in tact.

Hobby time!: Getting my sculpting on.


Over the last several months I’ve been fighting with a bout of depression, and more generally my degree has just taken a toll on my will to do any hobby work. Though now I’m finally overcoming the worse my depression and school is drawing to a close and it’s the perfect time to get back into the some hobbies.

Currently I waiting on a Kick starter I funded back in January 2013 called Kingdom Death: Monster (NSFW). Now this game much of its style, and its largely unparalleled quality are right up my alley, but it’s not coming until July, or if I’m unlucky August and the long wait has had some really negative impacts of my desire to sculpt and build my figurines along with running out of my primary sculpting materials I just put everything to the side. Along with my falling out with GW products (Who are doing a bit better these days in some regard but I suspect they still have some falling to do before they smarten up) I really haven’t had anything I’ve wanted to work on but that’s changed!

I’ve taken on project suggested by a friend to make a sky-clad woman with eldritch-powered bionic legs who kicks things to death for use in our kingdom death games. This gave me a good laugh at the time and I think it should be a lot of fun and will force me to practice a great deal of things I am currently lacking in. Proper human anatomy, proportions and faces being the top of that list of things to improve.

Though my supplies have only just been ordered so I’ll likely have to wait for a couple weeks as I finish my exams though to help keep the excitement I’ll share some tips I’ve pick up for those who want to do sculpting.

Heat hardening clays some in two main varieties I’m aware of.

Potters and sculpting clay:

While there are thousands of different formulations very few are actually meant for sculpting. I’m no expert on these however. Some people have had success with these and if it’s all that’s available give it a shot. When I’ve worked with them I have had little success and shrinkage, cracking and accidentally damaging your work are real problems. And be aware that clay drys, and while you can keep it moist for long periods of time it will eventually harden. As well if you have the choice pick a sculpting clay as they generally with have a much finer texture allowing you to smooth the surfaces and imprint a higher level of detail. finally be aware that while you don’t always have to fire your finished sculpture if you want it to be durable with will have to, and you need to design for it as well (the final sculpture can’t be too thick) and have a kiln.

Polymer Clays:

These I work with more and they are great for kids (generally non-toxic, but check first) and simple works, and has the ability to be the tool of experts as well. Unlike clays these polymers don’t dry out (though they do harden if you let them sit for years). Again I don’t have more experience working with these polymer clays, but sculpt has a wide range I worked with and a large amount of colours if you don’t want to paint your finish product but want it to have colour. Though if you want something cheap and a lot of it super sculpty is a good place to start. It doesn’t hold the best detail, but it will give you a good place to start and you can move to more expensive polymers later if you want to, or need the extra detail. These guys can be oven fired, though invest in a oven thermometer has these polymer clays will burn if baked to long.

Self hardening putties:

The best thing about these guys is they are self hardening and tend to be far more robust then clays, while some can be on the brittle side and some can be a little too flexible if you’re making thin sections. Though the different putties tend to mix well so if you have a couple different kinds and need something with the qualities of two different putties you can just mix them together and get what you want.

You will also need to work in stages. While you can do a lot of work in a short time if you’re not careful you can easy damage work without noticing and have it harden on you before you can fix it. This can lead to a lot of lost progress and just as much cutting and filing to get back to a point where you can fix the damage. As such it’s also good to only work on one side at a time to prevent those damage from occurring in the first place.

Plumbers Putty (Don’t bother): You might be able to find this stuff all over, but it’s quality tends to vary wildly and even then it tends to be grainy and brittle. IF anything use this stuff as filler, but generally I just use tinfoil and/or a wire frame.

Kneadatite Blue/Yellow two part Epoxie putty, “GreenStuff”:

Probably the most common of these putties you can find it over prices in GW stores and all over the place in miniature store which sell games like Warhammer and War Machine. This stuff is great for organic shapes and hold a high level of detail. However it’s pretty flexible when hard and doesn’t hold sharp edges well without a little luck.

Kneadatite Brown/Neutral, “Brown stuff”:

Far less common then green stuff, but a close cousin. Brown stuff is much harder has a longer curing time and can hold sharp edges better. It’s a good alternative if you’re planning to use for geometric shapes, or need something stronger then green stuff.

ApoxieSculpt:

It’s cheap it’s strong it hold detail well (although it is more grainy). Good stuff to work with and it plays nice with the Kneadatite when mixed and used as a base. It take of their properties and loses a lot if it’s graininess. although it’s significantly more brittle then the Kneadatite putties. I have had a lot of success with this stuff.

Procreate:

This is relatively new stuff to me and I’ll be trying it out soon, not sure how it will work, but I haven’t heard anything bad so I suspect it will be somewhere between green stuff and Apoxiesculpt.

Milliput:

Also haven’t work with this, and it’s is more expensive. From what I understand it hold better detail and cures solid I suspect is more brittle though. However It’s supposedly very good stuff so if you see it don’t be a afraid to pick some up and give it a try.

To wrap up this post I’ll talk a bit about tools. Sculpting tools tend to be the easiest thing to find, and everything from your finger to a pen, to expensive handmade sculpting tools will do the job. I suggest buying cheap ones you can generally find at hardware stores (the bigger the store the better) most are different kinds of spatulas, others look more like spear point, and there tend to also be wire scrapers those a generally meant only removing material. Buy yourself set a cheap set with lot of different shape and play around finding what tools you like best. This you can consider buying more expensive tools. Also stick with stainless steel, as they tend to be superior to wood.

Lights, make sure you have excellent bright lighting for your sculpting, make a world of difference.

The final tool I’ll bring up is one you can build yourself and those are armatures. Thing of armatures as the skeleton of your sculpture. They can be simple twigs or they can be elaborate wire frames, but they can help a lot in laying out proportions, add strength, and can also prevent a lot of waste by bulking the sculpture out. Tooth picks, wire, tinfoil, or whatever you have around that you don’t mind losing to the innards of your project can be used to help give it its final shape. Armature are definitely not to be ignored.

Withteeth


Why the Rich ought to pay more.


(We’ve not being posting lately! don’t worry it’s just the end of the semester and we are swamped/exhausted our regular posting seclude will be back as soon as possible)

While this will not be growing into a series on our blog I have a few more opinions and ideas about taxation and what a fair society look like that I would like to share.

People will often cry unfair when they first learn about progressive taxing, suggesting flat taxes are more fair. On the face of thing this would seem patently true. Everyone has to pay the same amount in taxes proportional to their earning so that must be the fairest option. Right? Well here I’ll be arguing against this simple but common idea and explain why raising taxes on the richest of us impact them less then it does the when we raise taxes on poorest, and how the rich tend to reap more benefits from society than those with out as much capital.

So why does raising taxes affect the rich less severely than the poor?

To help me explain why first I’ll draw upon the reasons why I think flat taxes are not in fact as fair as they seem. Lets assume we have a flat tax of 10% like we have here in Alberta. Lets also introduce you to three people. Person A, B and C. Person A makes $10’000 a year, B Makes 100’000, and C makes 1’000’000. Because of the flat tax that means they each are actually earning 9’000, 90’000 and 900’000 a year after taxes. Of these three people who is most likely going to see a quality of life change due to paying 10% of there income. The point is 10% affect the lowest incomes far more then the highest incomes. 1000 means lot when all you have in 9000 dollars to work with, but 10’000 when you still have 90’000? That jump in pay is much easier to swallow.

People do not proportionally increase spending in line with their income. Humans can only consume so much, and after meeting you basic needs, then your desires for luxury goods, you can and generally will only spend so much on other things. This along with the fact most people who have become wealthy do not actively try to impoverish themselves it’s unavoidable that the wealthy are going to have a considerable amount of free capital with which they can use for any variety of purposes including increasing their own personal wealth. Where the poorer you are the more of you income will be spent on basic needs and luxury consumption with very little left to save or invest. As well those stats provided by NPR above, which classes the rich as anyone making over $150’000 a year. I suspect you can further break the rich into further brackets and while I lack numbers I wouldn’t be surprised to find the proportions of consumption in the extremely rich continue a downward trend while saving and investments go up disproportionately when compared to other groups.

This is also a part of why sales taxes hit the middle class harder. Why because they are the largest consumers by far have a good deal of disposable income. Even if the middle class consumes a sixth that the rich do per person the middle class out number the rich by far more then that, so a sale tax is going to generally be a burden on the largest consumers base ie. the middle class.

I’m not saying that saving, or having lots of money makes people bad, that not the issue here. The issue is that flat taxes, particularly sales taxes, tax the poor and middle class hardest, and if the poor have government supplements then most or all of that burden then gets shuffled to the middle class, while the rich who consume proportionally less and put those savings to work allowing them to make even more money.

The rich are best able to avoid the rat race and to avoid expenses out pacing income, hence this is part why I think it’s perfectly fair to expect that they put more back. They can avoid over spending easier. They have more time and resources, so raising taxes on the rich isn’t likely going to affect their quality of life. Though even if it does affect quality of life it’s effects are generally going to be miniscule so long as the tax rate are completely outrageous (though even if they are outrageous it’s not like it’s going to knock the rich into poverty if the change is gradual).

That said I can understand how that will sound unfair to some, so here’s why I think the rich benefit more from society and as such ought to pay more into the systems they derive their income.

Most of the things which we take for granted in the west are largely impossible, or would lack the inter connectivity and resilience with out a government. Gas, electricity, internet, water, roads, mail… To work efficiently and to reach many people you need society working together pooling resources to make everything consistent. That stability helps further stabilize and make it easier and easier keep thing in order, people expect it and people will put up with a great deal to maintain these convinces. Why? Because one we use to them and are adverse to change, but two because these systems benefit us. Though we don’t all benefit equally. Sure we all benefit from roads and the goods, but business and industry owners personally benefit considerably more. The same with the internet, electronic banking in general. These thing benefit us all as well. The speedy and safe exchange of funds makes life much simpler and remove a great deal of stress, but the average person does not draw much further benefit from these system other then, mostly government run, retirement and saving plans. Even then there tends to be far more restrictions on these plans and if done wrong which is not a rare event can cost the person more money then if they had just put the money in the bank. The wealthy on the other hand tend to have the resources and time to properly take advantage of existing systems (and influence politics in order to change those systems). This isn’t because they are over all smarter, it’s just they are in the know and are better able to hire others to do the work for them, or take the time away from their career necessary to get these tasks done.

I’m not willing to say that the rich benefiting more is a bad thing, but I don’t think you can make a compelling argument that the rich do not benefit more by these system and institutions. Though this increase benefit along with the simple fact that the wealthy can afford to pay more without it harming the quality of their lives form most the foundation for why I think they ought to pay more. It won’t hurt ’em and they get more out of anyway, but there is one other thing which I hold to be true. This final point is that it’s in our interest to improve the lives of those around us.

Consumption, innovation, progress. These thing are not things only done, or even primarily done, by the rich. Innovation and progress are pushed by human struggle, and consumption requiers a consumer base with enough income to support a consumer economy. As such you can not have a modern economy without a healthy middle class, and innovation often comes from the middle class in the form of researchers and engineers, who typically are in turn funded by the government in one way or another either directly through grants, or indirectly though education funding. Not to mention society is a much nicer place with a highly educated citizenry. Disease is reduced, violence goes down.

Healthy educated citizens make society safer and more efficient for everyone. They increase the overall healthy and productivity of society in a way a few extremely well off upper class could never do. Such a population is better able to rise to the challenges presented by the unknown and are often more resilient to disaster. The best way of doing these things as far as my experience can attest is universal education and healthcare of some manner, and you need taxes  for that. And for the reasons presented before the wealthy are in the best position to give back more to society.

To briefly recap I think the rich ought to pay more for three primary reasons. First because increasing taxes on the rich, particularly the mega rich, affects them the least. Second because the rich benefit more from the majority of social structures like the legal system and even including the basic infrastructure that ties people together. Third because it is in everyone’s best interest to improve the lives of those around them as doing so will over all improve there lives.

By no means is this a complete look into why I think these things, but that is the basic premise.

 


Commentary on a Conversation with an Asshole


A while ago I watched this short film on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwV7ENOTeek. As tends to happen in the YouTube comment section, the assholes came out of the woodwork. The film is about a young trans boy who isn’t supported by their mother, so this film deals with an issue that is very important to me. As such, I got sucked into a debate in the comment section. I thought I’d share a good chunk of the discussion here, because I think a lot of people feel the need to defend their bad behaviour and hateful words with the “you’re just making it political” excuse, and I discuss that issue in the comments I make.

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The whole conversation began with this comment made by a trans teen: “Hey, people, I see you saying stuff like ‘oh just because you wear guys clothes and not dresses, doesn’t mean you aren’t a girl and you’re right, you are absolutely right. But you know what does make you a boy? BEING A BOY! IDENTIFYING AS A BOY! GOING BY HE PRONOUNS! You literally cannot take away how I feel! My mind and body do not match up, there is literally nothing you can do. I am me. You are you. We just happen to be different. Get over it, please! EDIT: Also, Gay people? Trans people? They do not harm you in any way. You’re the only one causing any pain if you’re being a douche. Odds are you couldn’t pinpoint every damn queer person on this planet, we’re all the same guys! Just love, not hate! And it’s not sexist to be trans, we’re not saying each gender has to be a different way (there’s more than two genders btw), we just KNOW what we are. I’ll answer KIND questions about sexuality and genders as well :).” This person’s comment is amazing. They make a lot of really good points. Like the assumption that being trans merely means wearing the clothes of the opposite gender. That’s called cross-dressing. It’s part of a person’s gender expression. It isn’t a gender itself. Like this person said, being transgender is to identify as the opposite gender than you were assigned at birth. Being trans means not identifying as the gender that you were assigned at birth (though not necessarily identifying as the opposite gender), or identifying with more than one gender. It’s a matter of how we feel, not a matter of what we wear.
But this is a difficult concept to understand for people. One of the first replies to this comment said “Saying ‘I am a he’ doesn’t make you a boy? Those are just words. How do you even know if you have the mind of a boy or a girl if you’ve never had the other to tell the difference???” I didn’t actually respond to this question in the discussion, and it wasn’t made by the person that I got into the argument with. However, this question shows some serious lack of understanding. For one, what does it actually mean to have a girl mind or a boy mind? This isn’t really what is meant by “my brain doesn’t match my body.” It is to a degree, but men and women don’t have completely alien brains from one another. The biggest factor of brain differences isn’t likely sex, it seems more probable that our differences are caused by…well, the fact that we’re different people. Watch this video if you don’t know what I mean: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXj3DenRsOg. And here are a couple of articles that go into the science a bit more (keep in mind that they aren’t the scientific studies themselves): http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2576241/Men-NOT-Mars-Scientist-claims-male-female-brains-gender-stereotyping-makes-different.html, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/10684179/Men-and-women-do-not-have-different-brains-claims-neuroscientist.html. Being trans is difficult to explain to somebody who isn’t trans. It’s not so much that my brain is radically different from yours, it’s more a case of my brain leading me to prefer things that society says I’m not supposed to prefer. So how do I know I’m trans? The same way you know you’re not. For example, I assume some of you reading this are men who take 10 minutes to get ready in the morning. And I assume some of you have live-in partners who are women who take a lot longer. I assume you find their interest in putting on make-up and finding the right outfit tedious and pointless. You probably justify it as “I’m a man, I’m not supposed to get it.” Well I don’t get it either. I’m supposed to get it. I’m supposed to like that tedium. But I don’t. A lot of people who identify as women don’t get it either, so don’t assume that my not getting it makes me trans. It’s just one example. But it’s that “I don’t get it” feeling that I get that lets me know that there’s something different about me. It’s not that I get it, but how often I get it and when I get it that tells me there is something different about me. I’m just not feminine. At all. And I don’t want to be.
But that’s kind of besides the point (though hopefully you got a better idea of what I’m talking about). The conversation that I wanted to focus on begins here: “Just because you hate something doesn’t mean its going to go away, grow the fuck up and accept people are different please.” This response was made by the person who made the initial comment. I’m not sure exactly what was said by the person that prompted this response, but, given other comments made by them, it was probably deserved. The person replied to that with “Sure it will. A bit of discipline and punishment goes a long way. The point isn’t eradicating differences, the point is forcing those who are different to either conform or.. idk, go to summer camp ;).” I really hope I don’t have to explain what is wrong with this comment. The original commenter rightfully replied with “‘The point isn’t eradicating differences, the point is forcing those who are different to either conform.’ That uh, sounds a lot like eradicating the differences to me bro. You sound like an early Hitler, talking about camps.” Doesn’t he though? But of course that was all just a joke: “I’m just fucking with you btw. I don’t really care about people’s sexuality or ‘identity.’ It just annoys me how overly tolerant and supportive everyone always wants to seem. If they really thought it was something normal they wouldn’t constantly baby people of other sexualities like they’re just automatically victims that can’t handle some dumb insecure cunts calling them names. Come on, you want respect, right? Then just say fuck you and move on. Society is in constant motion, no matter what an individual does, you don’t need to constantly be in protective mode.” This is what we call the “I’m not really an asshole, I’m just trying to play devil’s advocate but I have no idea what I’m doing” card. It’s not cute, it’s not funny, it’s not rebellious, you aren’t being clever, you aren’t proving or making a point, you aren’t helpful, you aren’t smart/wise, whatever you think you’re doing when you play this card, if it quacks like a duck…you get my point right? Anyway, let’s look at what he’s saying. “I don’t really care about people’s sexualities or ‘identities.'” Well, for one, both the video and the comment are about gender, not sexuality. So why even bring sexuality up? They aren’t even related.

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And if you don’t care, why are you here? Why bother commenting? Why even watch the video? That does not sound like someone who “doesn’t care.” And the fact that you put identities in scare quotes suggests that, not only do you care, you wish to invalidate the identities of others. You wish to deny that they exist. And it is at this point when he shows his true colours. “It just annoys me how overly tolerant and supportive everyone always wants to seem.” So accepting me as a human being deserving of equal treatment annoys you. Poor child, how will you survive? I can’t imagine how tough that must be for you! Not tolerance! Not support! How dare anybody grant me such things! How dare I ask for such treatment! He goes on to say “If they really thought it was something normal they wouldn’t constantly baby people of other sexualities like they’re just automatically victims that can’t handle some dumb insecure cunts calling them names.” Clearly you have no understanding of history. People don’t “baby” those of us who are LGBT by treating us like we’re human beings. However, historically LGBT people have been treated very poorly by society because society deemed us “unnatural.” The problem isn’t that the people who demand we’re treated equally see us as not normal, it’s that people have historically deemed us unnatural and have used that as an excuse to oppress us. What you’re seeing isn’t LGBT people being treated as special. Having pride parades and organizations dedicated to us doesn’t make us special, it’s just another sign of how oppressed we actually are. I look forward to the day when there is no need for a pride parade because that is the day we truly become equal. And demanding equal rights isn’t playing the victim. Playing the victim is crying “why can’t I have one?” when oppressed groups do things to bring attention to their oppression and you’re part of the group with power. Playing the victim is asking why there is no white pride month or straight pride parade. And when you get called as many names as LGBT people do, then you can criticise us for “not being able to handle being called names.” Ignoring bullies doesn’t actually make them go away regardless of what your father told you. The only thing that works is confronting them and standing up for yourself. So excuse me if I don’t let you walk all over me.
As for the Nazi issue that seems to have gotten ignored, he responded to that with “I really like the Nazis, yes. They were badass.” Because nothing says badass like murdering millions of people out of hate. I think somebody needs to get their priorities straight (or they’re already a neo-Nazi and are a lost cause). The original commenter replied to that saying “a small part of me can agree just with the sheer brute force and power of the Nazis, but the majority of me (and the world) can say that what they ultimately stood for was absolutely awful.” The Nazis really weren’t all that powerful, they just had a massive head start thanks to the fact that nobody wanted another world war to happen. But I’m sure that if another world war happened, the Nazi supporter would be the first to suggest appeasement given that that’s what he wants LGBT people to do. The fact that appeasement doesn’t work be damned.
I got involved in the conversation latter on, but I replied to this next comment: “Also, I’m really surprised how many FTM (even learned the lingo :D) trannies there are. Everyone usually talks about men feeling like they’re women, I thought almost no one was the other way around.” My reply to this comment is as follows: “You clearly did not do a good job of learning ‘the lingo’ if you think “trannie” is okay to say. Like faggot [this comes up later], tranny is a derogatory term. The correct term is transgender. MTF and FTM are also outdated terms. Some transgender people are fine with them, but you should not use them unless you know how the person you’re referring to feels about them. You should really be more careful with how you discuss LGBT issues. Remember: LGBT people have a long history of being discriminated against. That’s why the terms used to refer to people are so sensitive and regularly change. Yes, these words are often politicized, but that is because LGBT people are politicized, and have been for centuries. That’s why LGBT people stand up and say “these terms are right and those ones are wrong”: society refused to give the LGBT community control over the terms used to describe them for so long while they continued to discriminate against people. LGBT people just want respect, and part of showing respect is asking LGBT people what terms they prefer and using them.” His reply: “The learning the lingo thing wasn’t serious you retard :D. Also, why are you butthurt over stupid shit like tranny and faggot, you faggot? I don’t really use faggot to describe a gay person, it’s just a silly word that conveys that I think someone is a dumb cunt :).” Do you seriously think that adding a smiley face makes this response okay? Let’s see: retard, tranny, faggot, cunt, he seems to have the writing-as-many-offensive-things-as-can-fit-in-a-couple-sentences thing down. Now he just needs to learn some tact. Assuming I did have a mental disability, I don’t see why that would invalidate my point at all. So I’ll ignore that load of stupid as irrelevant. But faggot? No. You do not get to call me that. My sexuality does not get to be used by you or anyone else to attack me. I am not gay, but I’m not straight either. My heteronormative (or largely anyway) relationship protects me from a lot of the BS that other LGBT people face, but that doesn’t mean I don’t face any difficulties as it is. You do ot get to use your privilege and self-righteousness to attack me because you don’t think I have any reason to be upset. Who the hell do you think you are? What the hell do you know about my life? Yeah, and you don’t get to call me a cunt either. My vagina is not a bad thing. It is not an insult to possess one. You with your lack of vagina do not get to try and devalue and dismiss what I’m saying by suggesting that my vagina makes me less accurate. Neither faggot nor cunt (or tranny and retard) are just words with no meaning behind them. As such, you do not get to tell me that they are. If you think I’m wrong, use what little intelligence you possess to come up with a more accurate rebuttal that “faggot” or “cunt.” Otherwise, the only one who looks dumb is you. I’ll get back to our conversation later. First I’ll go through the rest of the conversation that happened the day before I gave my reply.

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The original commenter responded to his “trannie” comment by saying “And you actually make a very valid point in your first comment, thanks for sharing. I am trans and the way I see it, as long as people respect me how I respect them, then I’m fine. I just want rights is all.” This is unfortunately a very naive response. Again, this person is a teenager, and a very intelligent one at that, but they are far too easily swayed by his very bad “arguments.” He doesn’t have a point. He thinks that an oppressed group who is currently fighting for equal rights is somehow receiving special treatment because people are actually starting to give said group their rights. He goes on to ask this trans teen some very inappropriate questions, but they answered him, so I saw no reason to reply in the comment section. I will, however, reply to them here. He said “I’d actually like to know a couple of stuff about that. Of course you’re not every single trans person in the world, but still. Are you attracted to women or men? Also, to what extent do you have male tendencies. I understand you perceive yourself as a man and aren’t probably prone to many girly things, but there are still hormonal differences in not just appearance but behaviour.” I’m sure a lot of you are wondering what’s wrong with this. First, he started asking the questions without finding out if it was okay. He should have sent in one reply asking if asking personal questions was okay and waited for a reply before starting to ask. He also shouldn’t have asked if they were attracted to men or women. To begin with, that assumes that there are only two genders. It also suggests that you can also only be attracted to one or the other. This is not the case. Provided someone is willing to answer this question (though I really don’t understand why people feel the need to ask it) you should ask “who are you attracted to?” It’s really the only not problematic way to go about it. Asking what male tendencies someone has isn’t so much inappropriate as confusing. How would one actually go about answering that question? What are male tendencies? But suggesting that someone merely perceives themselves as a man is just plain rude. If someone tells you that they’re a man, accept that they are a man. Don’t tell them that they merely perceive that they are who they are. You don’t know what’s going on in their head or, in most cases, in their pants (I add the “in their pants” bit because of the perception that that actually matters where gender is concerned. And because intersex people do exist, which should make it obvious to people that sex is far more complicated than penis=boy and vagina=girl). Who are you to judge regarding either? The original commenter made these problematic assumtions obvious with their reply: “It’s good you’re learning the lingo haha, and its very good that you’d at least like to know things! To start let me explain that there are two types of attraction, romantic and sexual. I am Panromantic/Biromantic Straight, which, as you might of guessed, is the romantic attraction to women and men (all genders for me really), but sexually attracted to only guys (they can be trans guys too)! And, as far as tendencies go, I go as far as wearing chest binders, going by another name, wearing ‘guy clothes’ and tweaking my behaviour slightly to fit the more ‘stereotypical male’ just a bit. (I should point out though that I am Bigender, which means I identify with two genders, and mine happen to be male and female, he and she.) I imagine [you] might have plenty more questions since I’m guessing you don’t [know] too much about the gender/sexuality spectrum? haha please keep an open mind though?” So basically, “Are you attracted to men or women?” “No.” “What are your male tendencies?” “All of them.” “You think you’re a man.” “No, I’m Bigender.” I think he could have been a bit more intelligent with his…attempt to educate himself? Is that what this is? I’m not too sure it is. The original commenter went on to say “and also it is kind of a shock at first to find out that there’s actually lots of people out there with all types of identities (it was more of a relief for me), there isn’t much attention on trans men a lot in the media, it’s easy to think they wouldn’t exist initially :D.” This is something that has bothered me for years. Trans women are far more common than trans men, but trans men only seem to make the news when they get pregnant. While it is more acceptable for women to do stereotypically male things than it is for men to do stereotypically female things, it seems as though trans women are more socially acceptable than trans men. People who are transgender also get more media than those of us who are trans but not transgender. With that one I’m not sure if it’s because we’re more or less accepted. It’s hard to tell because we still face transphobia and transmisogyny, and we’re less likely to try to “pass,” so we’re about as likely to be attacked or discriminated against as transgender people.
It becomes clear why this guy is so unaware of his attitude when he says “AND I’m from Eastern Europe, so there was absolutely no information about any of this stuff while I was growing up (I’m 19, so basically right now :D ). I’d basically never seen a gay man, then suddenly when I emigrate to Germany I happen to move in right next to some LGBT-center thing, gay bars in the neighbourhood, so you can imagine how weird it was to me.” Unfortunately Eastern Europe is not known for it’s tolerance towards the LGBT community. It’s too bad this person doesn’t seem to spend any time at the LGBT center he lives near. Perhaps he’d become more tolerant and develop some empathy if he did. Not to mention that it would become very obvious very fast while it’s important to be careful with our language. He went on to say “Of course I’m open minded to knowing more about other people’s identity. Sexuality is on a spectrum, there are both heterosexual and homosexual aspects of both genders, most people just tend to be more on opposite sides of the spectrum, i.e. most women are attracted to men and most men are attracted to women and tend to act in certain ways, considered to be gender norms, we’re a dimorphic species after all, so it’s part of our nature. My problem isn’t with some people falling more in the middle or not identifying as any gender. I have a problem with some of the more radical ideas among feminists and some of the LGBT movements, that there are no natural aspects of sexuality and it’s all socially constructed. I’m not conservative, like thinking all people should identify as those simplistic archetypes of heterosexual women or heterosexual men, I just dislike the fact that the more radical liberals view sex as something absolutely fluid, even non-existent.” This is probably the most intelligent and polite he has been during the entire conversation. But he’s still confusing sexuality and gender. Sexuality is who we are sexually attracted to. Yes, it is a spectrum, but it’s more complex that this. First there is the heterosexual-homosexual spectrum with the middle area being differing degrees of bisexuality (most people are bisexual, but to such a degree that they only consider themselves to be attracted to one sex/gender) or pansexuality. Then there is the sexual-asexual spectrum. Most people are sexual, and they fit on the heterosexual-homosexual scale. I’m demisexual, which is a kind of asexuality. I do have a sex drive, but I don’t really see myself as fitting on the heterosexual-homosexual scale because my sexuality doesn’t work like that (though other demisexuals disagree). For me, it’s about romantic, not sexual, attraction. Which brings us to the next scale: heteroromantic-homoromantic. I’m pan romantic. I can be attracted to anyone regardless of gender. This scale pretty much works exactly like the sexuality scale (but don’t assume that you have to be romantically attracted to the people you are sexually attracted to). As you can see, gender is not on any of those scales. Gender has it’s own spectrum, and it is a different spectrum than the sex spectrum. This is because gender has to do with your brain and sex has to do with your gametes (though most people assume it has to do with your genitals). Gametes are our X and Y chromosomes, fyi. Anyway, The gender spectrum is man-woman. Transgender is not in the middle because a transgender person would just be either a man or a woman. The middle is the genderqueer category. It’s where those of us who identify as either neither or both man and woman fit. However, there are people who are agender and they simply don’t fit on this spectrum (don’t worry: there’ll be a visual). Sex is also on a spectrum: male-female. The middle of this spectrum is taken up by those who are intersex. And, because sex and gender are complex, there is another scale: gender expression. This scale goes masculine-feminine and deals with how a person presents themselves. The middle area is varying degrees of androgyny. I’m fairly androgynous, but I present more masculine than not.

 

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And what does any of this have to do with feminism? Absolutely fuck all. Of course, most feminists accept the LGBT community and realise that the issues that affect the LGBT community are related to those that affect women/females. As such, the groups do tend to overlap. But the terminology used by the LGBT community, and the discussions about LGBT issues, aren’t created by feminists as a feminist thing. This isn’t something within the feminist sphere of control. This is an LGBT thing, as it should be. Unless you’re LGBT, you don’t get to determine how LGBT people identify, and most feminists are not LGBT. But even if they were, why would the fact that they are feminist ideas make them bad? Why would that invalidate them? Since he thinks that feminists believe that sex isn’t real and is fluid, he obviously isn’t well versed in feminism. Yes, some feminists do argue this, but most don’t. Radical feminists believe that the ability to reproduce is what causes women to be discriminated against. As such, they believe not only that females but also that women (though some are more open to trans identities than others) are those who can give birth. The type of feminism that says that sexuality is fluid is intersectional feminism, but even they (since I identify within this group, I guess it’s more accurate to say we) debate whether or not sex exists (yes, sex is in fact debated). Personally, I like the concept of sex as a biological thing, but only because I think it’s useful for health purposes. As for people debating that sexuality is socially constructed, I think he means sex because I’ve never heard of that debate.

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Can people stop saying stupid shit like “the liberals [something dealt with within LGBT circles]” and “the conservatives [something going on within anti-feminist circles]”? There are conservatives who are pro-feminism and pro-LGBT, and there are liberals who are anti-feminists and anti-LGBT. What’s more, the political spectrum involves more that just conservative and liberal. I’m socialist. Some people are communists, libertarians (though I suppose they’re called liberals in some places), anarchists, etc. So it’s really not a case of “those liberals” and “those conservatives.”
Anyway, the original commenter replied to their response with “ooh wow, it can be quite a shock to learn that the world is not as small as you once thought to be haha. I had queer people around me since I was little, so it was more ‘normal’ for me to realize that I wasn’t straight (I’m gonna be 15 at the end of the month) and I’ve known since I was little that I was a bit different. And I totally see where you’re coming from, radical in any sense isn’t very helpful. It’s good to be open, but not so open that you’re shoving your ideals aggressively onto someone else, that’s not how acceptance works, some people just don’t change. And exactly! I understand sex is male, female and intersex, I get that, and on medical papers or work papers I have to put female for my own safety sometimes (like in an emergency if I get hurt I mean), it does exist it just isn’t everything, ya know what I mean?” He responds to this with “Sure. I guess there’s not too much difference between extremes. The conservatives think nature is everything and you can’t stray from it in any way and the liberals think there’s no such thing as nature, which they think is pro-LGBT, but if you think about it, it would mean your identity and sexuality are a choice after all. So in the end:
C: homosexuality is unnatural, therefore it’s a choice.
L: sexuality is fluid, therefore all gender is socially constructed (from which it would logically follow that you actually aren’t born like this)
In the end of the day it’s just a bunch of ass holes trying to turn the most intimate and personal aspect of our nature into something political, just to attract more attention and point to the others guys, creating fake tensions. I have been in some anti-gay circles, some of my best friends are skinheads, and I can tell you, no one actually cares, it’s just a hot topic, so everyone aside from some insecure fags that aggressively try to prove themselves just goes with it to provoke people. Don’t view people who don’t approve of all these alternative lifestyles as merely ignorant, that would be the same as me just calling you an insecure cunt, faking transsexuality for attention. People are convinced not by arguing but by comparing perspectives, explaining the way you personally view your identity and explaining your experience and understanding other people’s perspectives as well. In the end people tend to be extremely alike, it’s just the details that make them seem so different. Jesus Christ, I just read what I wrote… I’m such a faggot XD.” This is where I stepped back into the discussion, so I’ll let my reply be…well, my reply. But first I’ll show the original commenter’s post, because then it becomes a back and forth between myself and the other guy: “WOW, that is an extremely good point and you’ve got great sociological understanding, thank you for sharing your opinions, you’re not a fag at all XD.” This response makes me sigh. Great sociological understanding? I’m not sure he even knows what sociology is.
Anyway, this is where I come back into it. My response was “First of all, faggot is a derogatory term. It is not okay to say it whether about yourself or about others. Perhaps one day it will be reclaimed and it will be fine to use if and only if the person you are referring to is in fact gay and they say it is okay. But until that time, saying that is not okay.
Second, people don’t say sexuality is fluid because they want to be political, and saying that sexuality is fluid doesn’t make it a choice. Hair colour can change, but that doesn’t mean there is no genetic factors involved. People’s sexuality can and do change, but we know that there is some genetic element to sexuality. We know this because they have done twin studies. If identical twins are more likely to share a sexuality than other siblings, then it must be somewhat genetic. We find this with sexuality. But this doesn’t change the fact that people change how they identify. While most people always maintain the same sexuality, not all people do. Ergo, sexuality is fluid. This does not make it a choice, it simply makes it fluid.
Thirdly, while sexuality is very personal, this does not mean that it should not be discussed and researched. Why? Because health. If we know how sexuality works, and how it develops, then we can better help people who have issues related to their sexuality. Yes, this means that some people would use the knowledge to harm LGBT people in one way or another, but this risk does not eliminate the possibility for there to be benefits. And not everybody is enough of an asshole to take advantage and cause harm. So yes, sexuality is personal and to any given person it doesn’t really matter why they are gay, straight, bi, pan, etc, but it can and does matter to the medical community. The more we know about our bodies and our brains, the more we can do to keep ourselves happy and healthy.” I already gave his reply to this (it was when he called me a faggot). I responded to that by saying “There are reasons that these things are not okay, you arrogant little prick. Go over to that LGBT center you live by and say that shit: you’ll learn very quickly that that language is not appropriate. You are clearly not part of an oppressed group. If you were, you wouldn’t be so quick to be disrespectful. If you truly want to learn about people within the LGBT community, if you truly want to be inclusive, then that begins with showing respect. I don’t give a shit if you think that showing respect is being too sensitive because you aren’t LGBT. You don’t get a say. Now grow the fuck up and learn some respect because you are claiming to be open-minded while being incredibly homophobic and transphobic. And you’ve being talking to a trans teen.” Followed by ”And fuck yes, I’m a socialist, feminist, genderqueer demisexual who cares about the hateful things you say. Why? Because your words have an affect on people even if you don’t mean them to. People have died because people who think those words are okay murder them or drive them to suicide out of hate. Do you have any idea how many trans youth have already killed themselves this year alone? And because people tell them that they don’t get to determine how they identify, and that they don’t matter, that they are freaks, and that they are trannys? Do you have any idea how high the suicide rates are for LGBT youth are? Or how how the rates of mental illness are? The words you use don’t exist in a vacuum. They have real consequences. They affect real people. The words you use affect actual living human beings. So fuck your stupid sticks-and-stones bullshit, because we don’t live in a fantasy world where our words don’t affect people.” I was a bit angry, but I feel my response was well deserved. His response was “Sure, people are affected by words, It’s a bad thing to bully people, fucking shock. But it’s not like I’m sitting here calling you a fucking freak and saying you should die or anything. I think the problem is people take words way too seriously. Society treats words like faggot and nigger like the worst fucking shit ever, so people overreact every time someone uses them no matter what they mean. It’s horrible that people die because of bullying but that doesn’t mean you can just label anything bullying and go crazy any time someone says something. Also, I’m not TRYING to be inclusive, I just don’t give a shit about people’s sexuality.”

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The conversation ended with my saying “If you don’t care about people’s sexuality, why say anything? What watch videos about sexuality and gender? Why not just ignore that it exists? I highly doubt you simply don’t care. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be complaining about people being ‘too sensitive.’
You don’t understand privilege. Those words aren’t bad because of any power they have, they are bad because of how they are used. To go with the race example, in a predominantly white country black people are the minority. Most black people live in predominately white countries because their ancestors were brought over as slaves, and a lot of that legacy still exists. In North America, there is still the perception that black people are more aggressive and animalistic than white people. Despite having scientific evidence that suggests otherwise, people still believe that black men are more aggressive than white men and are more likely to commit crimes. This has led to the whole ‘Black Lives Matter’ thing. Likewise, black women are more likely to be seen as sexually promiscuous. As such, black women are often automatically labelled sluts and are more likely to be blamed for being raped than white women are. Those words signify a power that is held over an oppressed group by another group that is too often unaware of their own privilege.
Like black people, trans people are also part of an oppressed group. We live in a society that tells us that normal is a male child playing with a truck and a female child playing with a doll. The female child who doesn’t like dolls, dresses, and everything pink is automatically labelled a freak, and, whether or not you actually use that word, your agreement with that concept comes through loud and clear with the words that you do use. This very idea is problematic. For one thing, their is nothing natural about dolls and dresses, those are human made. For another, it wasn’t that long ago that pink was thought to be a boy colour. As such, it’s pretty obvious that these ideas that girls like dolls, dresses, and pink come from humans and not from nature. Gender is the same. Sex is biological. However, it is not as cut and dry as you might think. As we learn more about intersex it is more and more obvious that their are more than two sexes, and the sexes have less to do with reproduction than we might think. This is science, not politics. Gender, however, is nothing more than a construct. Gender is in your brain and has nothing to do with your sex, though they match more often than not. However, people assume that sex and gender are interchangeable, and they discriminate against those of us whose sex and gender don’t match because we are in the minority and they have the power. It is this power held over us, this acceptability of our being discriminated against, that makes the words you use inappropriate.
By using those words you are complicit in our being discriminated against. You are telling us that it is okay for you to discriminate against us. And to make mattes worse, when we say that it is not okay and you don’t get to discriminate against us, you act as if you’re the one being wronged. You stand up and cry ‘you’re just being to sensitive’ and ‘they’re just words’ and expect that to make it okay. But it is not okay. Blaming the fact that you don’t get to be an asshole on the ‘liberals’ and the ‘conservatives’ (as if that actually means anything) does not make your words okay. You don’t get to determine how I should be treated. You don’t get to determine what labels get used on me. I do. And you certainly do not get to be discriminatory and insulting towards me and then play the victim card. You are not the victim. You are just someone who wants an excuse to be an asshole and doesn’t want to be held accountable for their words and actions.”
I doubt this guy learned anything from the back and fourth. I’m not even sure he’ll reply to my last comment (though I do intend to let him know I wrote this). But I do hope that my commentary on why his behaviour is not to be desired or repeated is helpful to anyone who may have otherwise responded as he did to this situation (not that I think any neo-Nazi sympathizers would follow our blog [hopefully only they would think this appropriate…]).

right

And as a treat to those of you who made it to the end, great music ;) :


It’s Transgender Day of Visibility!


And in honour of this day, I’d like to make some depressing states a little bit more visible.

An study based out of Ontario (Canada) found that 20% of trans people had experienced physical or sexual assault due to their gender identity. It also found that 34% were subjected to verbal threats or harassment.

That same study also found that half of trans people were living on less than $15,000 a year. To put this into context, I made $15,000 a year working part time at $12 and hour. To rent a cheap apartment, it would cost between $6000-$9600 a year. Where I live, you’d be lucky to pay the $9600. A years worth of groceries costs about $2400. That’s $12,000 just for food and shelter. Cheap utilities cost another $2400 a year where I live, which brings that total up to $14,400. The rest of that would likely go into transportation costs. This is just barely enough to live on.

That study went on to state that 77% of trans respondents in Ontario had seriously considered suicide, and 45% had actually attempted suicide.

A different study that I looked at focused on how LGBTQ students feel in Canadian schools. It found that 74% of trans students had been verbally harassed about their gender expression.

It also fund that 37% of trans students had been verbally harassed daily or weekly about their sexual orientation.

It found that 68% of trans students had been verbally harassed about their perceived gender or sexual orientation. It also stated that “Trans youth may report experiencing particularly high levels of harassment on the basis of perceived sexual orientation because often trans individuals are perceived as lesbian, gay, or bisexual when they are not.”

Finally, it found that 49% of trans students had experienced sexual harassment in school in one year (either 2007 or 2009).

None of this is okay. Everybody should feel safe and welcome in their country and their school. And everybody should have the same opportunities when it comes to economic security. That’s why today is so important.

http://ontario.cmha.ca/mental-health/lesbian-gay-bisexual-trans-people-and-mental-health/

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/peter-goffin/transgender-hate-crimes_b_3818530.html?

http://mygsa.ca/setting-gsa/homophobia-transphobia-statistics

http://www.straight.com/news/600-reasons-why-canada-needs-pass-transgender-rights-laws


Parents: Support Your Children


This seems to be something that a lot of parents fail at. I spend a lot of time with people who identify as LGBT to one degree or another, and they all receive different levels of support from their parents. I personally don’t receive much support from my parents. The atheists that I know also receive different levels of support from their parents. Many of the people I know were raised in secular families, so they have no issues, but this is not the case with all the people I know. Even some of the people who prefer not to label themselves aren’t always supported. As such, I know a lot of people whose love for their children is very much conditional. I find this very sad.

As a parent, you want what’s best for your children. When your children turn away from the beliefs that you hold, or when they do something that goes against your beliefs, it is understandable to be afraid for them. But abandoning your children, or neglecting them, or making them feel as though they can’t rely on you, is not a solution to this problem. Be afraid for your children if you must, but love them unconditionally regardless. Hurt your children as little as possible, even if you feel hurt by them. You are their roll model. You are the person that your child should be able to turn to in times of need. I don’t remember the last time I was able to rely on my parents for anything. And I know a lot of people who don’t have the support of their own parents.

As a result of my experiences and the experiences of those around me, I refuse to allow myself the possibility to love them conditionally. I want to be there for any children I have. I want to be the first person they turn to when they need support. If they choose to become theists, or they get into a lot of trouble (these are the only two things I can think of that would genuinely bother me), I’m not going to let that get in the way of my relationship with my children.


Atheism 101: Atheism and the Koran


My last post discussed the Bible. This one will focus on the Koran. So what does the Koran have to say? And why don’t atheists agree with it? Please keep in mind, this post is about the Koran and not about how terrible Islam is. Please do not leave Islamaphobic comments. And, if you are a Muslim and are unwilling to read criticism of your Holy book, please do not read this post (though I’m assuming I’ll have a lot less people automatically jumping to the conclusion that I don’t know what I’m talking about with this post).

For one, non-believers are treated as criminals deserving of death simply for not believing. Sura 2:191 says “You may kill those who wage war against you, and you may evict thems whence they evicted you. Oppression is worse than murder. Do not fight them at the Sacred Masjid, unless they attack you therein. If they attack you, you may kill them. This is the just retribution for those disbelievers.” Basically this is saying that it is okay to kill non-believers. Now, this isn’t exactly an odd thing for a religious book to say: Deuteronomy 17:2-5 says “If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the Lord thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the Lord thy God, in transgressing his covenant, And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded; And it be told thee, and thou hast heard of it, and enquired diligently, and, behold, it be true, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought in Israel: Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die.” However, the concept that a person is deserving of death simply for not believing is incredibly problematic. Sura 4:101 parrots the view that unbelievers deserve to be killed. It says “When ye travel through the earth, there is no blame on you if ye shorten your prayers, for fear the Unbelievers May attack you: For the Unbelievers are unto you open enemies.” The act of simply not agreeing with your religion makes us enemies? That’s a scary thought. Though, what’s even scarier is that some people actually agree with this passage. I can’t help but feel that any person who believes that my disagreeing with them makes me the enemy is dangerous, because I don’t know what they might do to me. Sura 5:33 says “Those who wage war against God and His Messenger and strive to spread corruption in the land should be punished by death, crucifixion, the amputation of an alternate hand and foot or banishment from the land: a disgrace for them in this world, and then a terrible punishment in the Hereafter.” What constitutes waging war? If this is referring to actual physical attacks, then, while I don’t agree with the methods, I do agree that defending oneself is acceptable. However, I do not agree that anything less than physical attack is deserving of this kind of treatment. The problem with this passage is that it doesn’t clarify what making war means, and earlier passages suggest that simple non-belief is enough to be considered the enemy. Sura 9:29 adds to this concern by stating that “Fight those who do not believe in Allah-until they pay the tax in acknowledgement of superiority and they are in a states of subjection with willing submission and feel themselves subdued.” Basically, attack non-believers for no better reason than because they are non believers, and make them submit to your will and become your slave. Apparently making people believe like this is easier than, I dunno, revealing yourself to the world? Sura 9.123 goes so far as to say “O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you.” Really? Kill your loved ones for no better reason than because they don’t agree with you? That seems a bit harsh.

The Koran also has some problematic things to say about the rights of women. In Sura 2:282 it says “Call in two male witnesses from among you, but if two men cannot be found, then one man and two women whom you judge fit to act as witnesses.” Basically, women are only half as trustworthy as men. And Sura 4:34 says “Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because God has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and forsake them in beds apart, and beat them.” This is saying that women are created to be the slaves of men. Women are not allowed to be self-sufficient and instead must rely on men, and they must do as the men bid them do. Again, this is not an odd concept for a Holy book. 1 Peter 3:1 says “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives.” And 1 Corinthians 11:8-9 says “For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.” The problem with this type of passage isn’t the context, it’s that people still believe it today. People still believe that women should be subservient to men. This is why these passages are a problem.

Like the Bible, the Koran also has some issues with its scientific accuracy. In Sura 12:4 Joseph apparently saw eleven planets in a dream he had. There aren’t 11 planets in our solar system. There are 8 planets and possibly as many as 100 dwarf planets (though there are at least 5). Sura 21:33 claims that the sun floats in an orbit around the earth. We know that this is not true. And Sura 27:61 says that the earth is fixed and does not move. Again, we know this is not true. The earth revolves around the sun. Like the Bible, these are only issues for those who take the Koran literally. However, there seem to be a larger percent of Muslims who claim that the Koran is scientifically accurate then there are Christians who say the same of the Bible.

All of the problems I presented are reasons why atheists don’t agree with the Koran. Thugh the biggest reason is simply that we don’t find the god claim compelling. We do not believe that there is enough evidence to support believing in Allah, just like we don’t believe the Bible provides enough evidence to believe in God.

https://atheistforums.org/thread-5493.html
http://the-militant-atheist.org/quran-quotes.html
https://godkillzyou.wordpress.com/2009/03/12/an-atheist-me-reviews-the-quran/
http://www.answering-islam.org/Quran/Science/
http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/quran/science/long.html


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