An Open Letter: I’m a Liberal

An open letter to those who don’t know me yet, or have just met me recently enough that my not-at-all-closeted political leanings have not yet become blindingly obvious:

I’m a liberal, and a pretty far left-leaning liberal at that. To many, that means I’m one of those bleeding heart commies who hates anyone who’s white, straight, or conservative, and who wants the government to dictate everything you do while taking your money and giving it to people who don’t work.

Well, not exactly, but close enough.

Let’s break it down, shall we? Because quite frankly, I’m getting a little tired of being told what I believe and what I stand for. Spoiler alert: Not every liberal is the same, though the majority of liberals I know think along roughly these same lines:

  1. I believe a country should take care of its weakest members. A country cannot call itself civilized when its children, disabled, sick, and elderly are neglected. Period.

  2. I believe healthcare is a right, not a privilege. Somehow that’s interpreted as “I believe Obamacare is the end-all, be-all.” This is not the case. I’m fully aware that the ACA has problems, that a national healthcare system would require everyone to chip in, and that it’s impossible to create one that is devoid of flaws, but I have yet to hear an argument against it that makes “let people die because they can’t afford healthcare” a better alternative. I believe healthcare should be far cheaper than it is, and that everyone should have access to it. And no, I’m not opposed to paying higher taxes in the name of making that happen.

  3. I believe education should be affordable and accessible to everyone. It doesn’t necessarily have to be free (though it works in other countries so I’m mystified as to why it can’t work in the US), but at the end of the day, there is no excuse for students graduating college saddled with five- or six-figure debt.

  4. I have a massive moral problem with a society where a handful of people can possess the majority of the wealth while there are people literally starving to death, freezing to death, or dying because they can’t afford to go to the doctor. Fair wages, lower housing costs, universal healthcare, affordable education, and the wealthy actually paying their share would go a long way toward alleviating this. I’m not opposed to the idea of Universal Basic Income, even if that means my taxes go towards allowing some people to survive without having to work. I don’t believe that people deserve to die because they cannot work, for whatever reason that may be; I don’t even believe that people deserve to die because they choose not to work. If that brands me a communist, socialist, or whatever -ist is being used as a slur because I think it’s better that people be alive than dead, then so be it.

  5. I don’t throw around “I’m willing to pay higher taxes” lightly. I’m neither rich nor poor, far more likely to end up being the latter than the former, but I still pay taxes. If I’m suggesting something that involves paying more, well, it’s because I’m fine with paying my share as long as it’s actually going to something besides lining corporate pockets or bombing other countries while Americans die without healthcare.

  6. I believe companies should be required to pay their employees a decent, livable wage. Somehow this is always interpreted as me wanting burger flippers to be able to afford a penthouse apartment and a Mercedes. What it actually means is that no one should have to work three full-time jobs just to keep their head above water. Restaurant servers should not have to rely on tips, multibillion dollar companies should not have employees on food stamps, workers shouldn’t have to work themselves into the ground just to barely make ends meet, and minimum wage should be enough for someone to work 40 hours and live.

  7. I am not anti-Christian; I grew up in the Episcopal church, and what I learned there heavily influences who I am today, even if I rarely attend church. I have no desire to stop Christians from being Christians, to close churches, to ban the Bible, to forbid prayer in school, etc. (BTW, prayer in school is NOT illegal; compulsory prayer in school is – and should be – illegal). All I ask is that Christians recognize my right to live according to my beliefs. When I get pissed off that a politician is trying to legislate Scripture into law, I’m not “offended by Christianity” — I’m offended that you’re trying to force me to live by your religion’s rules. You know how you get really upset at the thought of Muslims imposing Sharia law on you? That’s how I feel about Christians trying to impose biblical law on me. Be a Christian. Do your thing. Just don’t force it on me.

  8. I don’t believe LGBT people should have more rights than you. I just believe they should have the same rights as you.

  9. I don’t believe undocumented immigrants should come to America and have the world at their feet, especially since THIS ISN’T WHAT HAPPENS (spoiler: undocumented immigrants are ineligible for all those programs they’re supposed to be abusing, and if they’re “stealing” your job it’s because your employer is hiring illegally). I’m not opposed to deporting people who have committed some types of crimes, but I believe there are far more humane ways to handle undocumented immigration than our current practices (i.e., detaining children, splitting up families, ending DACA, etc).

  10. I don’t believe the government should regulate everything, but since greed is such a driving force in our country, we NEED regulations to prevent cut corners, environmental destruction, tainted food/water, unsafe materials in consumable goods or medical equipment, etc. It’s not that I want the government’s hands in everything — I just don’t trust people trying to make money to ensure that their products/practices/etc. are actually SAFE. Is the government devoid of shadiness? Of course not. But with those regulations in place, consumers have recourse if they’re harmed and companies are liable for medical bills, environmental cleanup, etc. Just kind of seems like common sense when the alternative to government regulation is letting companies bring their bottom line into the equation.

  11. I believe our current administration is fascist. Not because I dislike them or because I can’t get over an election, not because any administration I dislike must be Nazis, but because things here are actually mirroring authoritarian and fascist regimes of the past.

  12. I believe the systemic racism and misogyny in our society (along with many bigotries — xenophobia, homophobia, sizeism, transphobia, ageism, classism, etc. — that may be less overtly systemic but which are just as present) is much worse than many people think, and desperately needs to be addressed. Which means those with privilege — white, straight, male, economic, etc. — need to start listening, even if you don’t like what you’re hearing, so we can start dismantling everything that’s causing people to be marginalized. And yes, as a person with many privileges on my side (straight, white, male, middle-class, and many more), this includes me. I do my best to listen to and learn from those with less privilege when they try to tell me something. I have and will fail at times, and when I do, I’ll do what I can to do better.

  13. I am not interested in coming after your blessed guns, nor is anyone serving in government. What I am interested in is sensible policies, including background checks, that just MIGHT save one person’s, perhaps a toddler’s, life by the hand of someone who should not have a gun.

  14. I believe in so-called political correctness. I prefer to think it’s social politeness — or, well, “not being an asshole”. If call you Chuck and you say you prefer to be called Charles I’ll call you Charles. It’s the polite thing to do. Not because everyone is a delicate snowflake, but because as Maya Angelou put it, when we know better, we do better. When someone tells you that a term or phrase is more accurate/less hurtful than the one you’re using, you now know better. So why not do better? How does it hurt you to NOT hurt another person?

  15. I believe in funding sustainable energy, including offering education to people currently working in coal or oil so they can change jobs. There are too many sustainable options available for us to continue with coal and oil. Sorry, billionaires. Maybe try investing in something else.

  16. I believe that women should not be treated as a separate class of human. They should be paid the same as men who do the same work, should have the same rights as men and should be free from abuse. Why on earth shouldn’t they be?

I think that about covers the basics, though I’m sure there are many more points that could be added. Bottom line is that I’m a liberal because I think we should take care of each other. That doesn’t mean you should work 80 hours a week so your lazy neighbor can get all your money. It just means I don’t believe there is any scenario in which preventable suffering is an acceptable outcome as long as money is saved.

So, I’m a liberal.

(I didn’t write the above from scratch but edited a similar post to reflect my personal beliefs. Please feel free to do the same with this post.)

Linkdump for April 16th through April 19th

Sometime between April 16th and April 19th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • The Heart of Whiteness: Ijeoma Oluo Interviews Rachel Dolezal, the White Woman Who Identifies as Black: Dolezal is simply a white woman who cannot help but center herself in all that she does—including her fight for racial justice. And if racial justice doesn't center her, she will redefine race itself in order to make that happen.
  • Volunteers, Professionals, and Who Gets to Have Fun at Cons: If your fun is dependent using your status as a volunteer as an excuse to not act responsibly, if it requires victims to stay quiet about mistreatment: then it’s not really a fun time for “everyone” is it? It’s not the expectation of professionalism that’s killing the fun at cons, it’s the lack of it.
  • Time to Fix the Missing Stair: It’s time to stop pretending the missing stair doesn’t need to be fixed. Relying on word-of-mouth means that the people who are new, who are just entering, are the ones most at risk of trying to step on it.
  • seriously, the guy has a point: A global investment firm has used a global advertising firm to create a faux work of guerrilla art to subvert and change the meaning of his actual work of guerrilla art. That would piss off any artist.
  • Westboro Wannabes Picket Norwescon: Thank you for proving, by your actions, the value that Norwescon (and all such fan-run conventions) have in this world. Thank you for proving that we can’t be bullied. You gave us all a teachable moment, and we learned something about ourselves.

Without women, the story doesn’t even begin

So the Genesis story gets written as a justification for why women are they way they are, of how they’re the ones to blame, and of why it’s right for men to take charge, because when a woman decides for herself… well, isn’t that how everything ended up so terrible? But what the story really says, this story men made up to hold women down, is that women have the power to change the world. Women have the power to throw the world into chaos and they do it because the world as it is isn’t good enough. Adam is content and Eve is proactive. Women see God’s world and think, this could be better. Let’s make it better. And if that’s called sin than it’s the best sin there is because without change nothing would ever happen. Without women, the story doesn’t even begin.

— miccaeli miccaevelli

Mechanical Life and Intelligent Design

From On the Origin of Transformers:

The advocates of ID, who are arguing that their belief should be included in science classes in Texas, Tennessee and other states, say that if a living organism has a design that cannot be explained by the theory of natural selection, it is proof of an Intelligent Designer. If you consider a Camaro, for example, wouldn’t it obviously have had a Designer? Could its parts have been assembled by a hurricane (or a trillion hurricanes) blowing through a junkyard?

Certainly not. Therefore, this is proof that Autobots were not assembled on Cybertron by hurricanes or any other means envisioned by Darwin, and were Intelligently Designed. That makes the Transformers series a compelling parable for ID, and I expect several of this year’s Republican presidential candidates to recommend the movies on that basis alone.

Roger Ebert, making the case for Intelligent Design…at least within the universe of the Transformers.

To: Pat Robertson. Your Pal, Satan.

Dear Pat Robertson,

I know that you know that all press is good press, so I appreciate the shout-out. And you make God look like a big mean bully who kicks people when they are down, so I’m all over that action. But when you say that Haiti has made a pact with me, it is totally humiliating. I may be evil incarnate, but I’m no welcher.

The way you put it, making a deal with me leaves folks desperate and impoverished. Sure, in the afterlife, but when I strike bargains with people, they first get something here on earth — glamour, beauty, talent, wealth, fame, glory, a golden fiddle. Those Haitians have nothing, and I mean nothing. And that was before the earthquake. Haven’t you seen “Crossroads”? Or “Damn Yankees”? If I had a thing going with Haiti, there’d be lots of banks, skyscrapers, SUVs, exclusive night clubs, Botox — that kind of thing. An 80 percent poverty rate is so not my style. Nothing against it — I’m just saying: Not how I roll.

You’re doing great work, Pat, and I don’t want to clip your wings — just, come on, you’re making me look bad. And not the good kind of bad. Keep blaming God. That’s working. But leave me out of it, please. Or we may need to renegotiate your own contract.

Best,

Satan

Written by Lily Coyle of Minneapolis, first printed as a Letter to the Editor in the Star Tribune.

Everything But Marriage

I happen to be of the opinion that we should remove marriage from the secular system entirely — that is, courts would merely deal with civil unions, which would be identical and impart identical rights to any couple, straight or gay — and let the churches handle marriage ceremonies for people who want them. If God doesn’t want same-sex couples to marry, then fine, let the churches bar their doors. But there is absolutely no reason why same-sex couples shouldn’t get all the same legal rights and privileges that heterosexual couples do.

Barring that solution, however, this is a good step forward:

State lawmakers are getting ready to introduce a bill allowing same-sex couples all the rights and benefits afforded to heterosexual married couples.

[…]

The measure makes changes to all remaining areas of state law where currently only married couples are addressed.

The bill would add same-sex domestic partners to state statutes ranging from labor and employment to criminal law, to pensions and other public employee benefits.

Traditional Marriage

If we are to let the Bible define what “traditional marriage” should look like, then our marriage laws should be amended as such:

> 1. Marriage in the United States shall consist of a union between one man and one or more women. (Gen 29:17-28; II Sam 3:2-5)
>
> 2. Marriage shall not impede a man’s right to take concubines in addition to his wife or wives. (II Sam 5:13; I Kings 11:3; II Chron 11:21)
>
> 3. A marriage shall be considered valid only if the wife is a virgin. If the wife is not a virgin, she shall be executed. (Deut 22:13-21)
>
> 4. Marriage of a believer and a non-believer shall be forbidden. (Gen 24:3; Num 25:1-9; Ezra 9:12; Neh 10:30)
>
> 5. Since marriage is for life, neither this Constitution nor the constitution of any State, nor any state or federal law, shall be construed to permit divorce. (Deut 22:19; Mark 10:9)
>
> 6. If a married man dies without children, his brother shall marry the widow. If he refuses to marry his brother’s widow or deliberately does not give her children, he shall pay a fine of one shoe and be otherwise punished in a manner to be determined by law. (Gen 38:6-10; Deut 25:5-10)
>
> 7. In lieu of marriage, if there are no acceptable men in your town, it is required that you get your dad drunk and have sex with him (even if he had previously offered you up as a sex toy to men young and old), tag-teaming with any sisters you may have. Of course, this rule applies only if you are female. (Gen 19:31-36)

(this particular incarnation by [gladkov][1], via [Daily Kos][2])

[1]: http://www.dailykos.com/comments/2008/12/9/221323/060/248#c248 “Daily Kos: gladkov: in an oldie but a goodie”
[2]: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/12/10/12118/336/767/671488 “Daily Kos: Traditional marriage, Bible-style”

Manufactured Controversy

Jer does a very nice job of laying out one of the base-level issues with the ongoing and neverending “debate” over Intelligent Design: “[the actual issue is extremely simple: Intelligent Design is not science, and thus doesn’t belong in science classrooms.][1]”

[1]: http://nyquil.org/archives/1162-Manufactured-Controversy-Roger-Ebert-helps-illustrate-problems-with-the-debate-over-Intelligent-Design.html “Manufactured Controversy: Roger Ebert helps illustrate problems with the ‘debate’ over Intelligent Design”

> As of now, the opposition to the teaching of Intelligent Design in science classrooms is as follows: scientific theories are based upon the notion that observations and evidence overwhelmingly back them up. Intelligent Design theory posits no such testable, observable theories. All their time and energy is spent finding problems with portions of the evolution model, which, while actually pretty useful, is not the same thing as positing a theory of their own. The notion that everything was created by an intelligent force is a nice notion — one which I happen to believe — but it is not the same thing as a scientific theory. If you want to do science, then you have to do considerably more than just come up with a nice notion.
>
> ID proponents (and Ben Stein’s film) portray themselves as being “shut out” by science, that what they’re doing is being ignored on the grounds that it attacks the accepted model, and that science is akin to persecution of religion. This simply isn’t true. If the ID folks actually were to do the work involved in creating such a theory, doing the experimentation and observation necessary to back it up and get their work peer reviewed, it WOULD be accepted by science. Unfortunately, the main proponents of Intelligent Design Theory have no interest in doing that; they’d rather just fabricate controversy, pretending that the mean-old scientists just won’t let them play because scientists hate Christians.
>
> Sadly, it’s far easier to rile up congregations and make them feel persecuted than to actually do the science they purport they’re doing. By portraying evolution as anti-religion while claiming persecution at the hands of scientists, they’ve painted an inaccurate portrait of the “debate.” People with no understanding at all of science now feel that their viewpoint ought be represented where it simply doesn’t belong. This two-faced approach is nothing short of dishonest, and I personally feel that the level of dishonesty exhibited suggests that it’s not just misguided, but also intentional.

Woody Allen interviews Billy Graham

Y’know, it’s really sad that this kind of polite, civil, and amusing discourse is so rarely seen these days. Two people on _very_ different sides of an issue who, rather than loudly proclaiming their absolute certainty that they are _right_ and the other is _wrong_, are able to amiably chat and joke with each other about the differences in their viewpoints.

Part one:

Part two:

Badass Bible Verses

Cracked has a list of the [top nine ‘badass’ bible verses][1]. Just for fun, I’ll list the verse citations here. Any guesses at what stories they’re referring to (before looking at the linked article or clicking through to the linked NIV versions, of course)?

1. [Exodus 2: 11-12][1]
2. [II Kings 2: 23-24][2]
3. [Ezekiel 23: 19-20][3]
4. [Judges 3: 16-23][4]
5. [Numbers 16: 23, 31-33][5]
6. [Deuteronomy 25: 11-12][6]
7. [I Kings 18: 24, 38-40][7]
8. [Judges 15: 15-16][8]
9. [I Samuel 18: 25-27][9]

[1]: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus%202:%2011-12&version=31 “Bible Gateway: Exodus 2: 11-12”
[2]: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=II%20Kings%202:%2023-24;&version=31; “Bible Gateway: II Kings 2: 23-24”
[3]: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ezekiel%2023:%2019-20;&version=31; “Bible Gateway: Ezekiel 23: 19-20”
[4]: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Judges%203:%2016-23;&version=31; “Bible Gateway: Judges 3: 16-23”
[5]: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Numbers%2016:%2023-33;&version=31; “Bible Gateway: Numbers 16: 23-33”
[6]: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy%2025:%2011-12;&version=31; “Bible Gateway: Deuteronomy 25: 11-12”
[7]: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=I%20Kings%2018:%2024-40;&version=31; “Bible Gateway: I Kings 18: 24-40”
[8]: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Judges%2015:%2015-16;&version=31; “Bible Gateway: Judges 15: 15-16”
[9]: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=I%20Samuel%2018:%2025-27;&version=31; “Bible Gateway: I Samuel 18: 25-27”