Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Broom Closet Politics . . .

 . . . or, "At least it smells nice and lemony in here."

On Pagan In Paradise, Peter Dybing posted a thoughtful blog entry about going back into the Broom Closet, and went wading in a paradigm shift.

One of my pet whines (nah, I don't have any of those, really . . .) is people who are militantly certain that everyone must be open and public about their belief system, regardless of personal circumstances. Even to the point of saying that if you aren't out of the broom closet (or equivalent household implement storage) then you have no right to call yourself a Pagan/witch/Heathen/Wiccan/etc. Exactly how self-absorbed such a statement is to start with aside, it's also lousy as a sole strategy.

Yes, I do believe that having more PHAs as visible members of our secular communities will further tolerance and help banish behavior founded on ignorance and insecurity. But I'll repeat the comment I left on Peter's post:

"Visibility creates strength in numbers and makes people question what they think they know. But if your visibility is going to be hijacked absolutely by people who want to destroy you, with no chance to present yourself honestly, it doesn't get to serve it's purpose, and accomplishes nothing except diminishing the numbers you want to give strength to."

Pick-your-battles person here. I also don't think anyone should be allowed to pick anyone else's battles for them. If you're going to demand that everyone must be "out", you need to be prepared to cover their asses from the fallout. That may mean paying their bills, finding them a new place to live, bodyguarding their kids and/or pets, providing security for their house or car, or possibly paying for a lawyer to protect their custody of said kids. And that doesn't even get into what happens if someone likes the idea of guilt by association, and targets their friends or family.

I'm not saying we should all cower in fear of zealot extremists and sociopathic control freaks. I'm saying quit kicking people who might have more to lose than they can afford to sacrifice, or who aren't willing to drag other people into the line of fire without their consent.

"They can't fire you or evict you based on religion, it's illegal!"
"You need to grow a set and get a lawyer!"
"People aren't like that anymore; I'm sure they'll understand if you're just honest with them."

People want to throw those lines out as if the solutions were easy and obvious. Lemme give you another bit of opinionatedness:

"The law is only as good as the people enforcing or interpreting it." Illegality doesn't matter one jot if you're in a place where money or the Buddy System matter more, and the Buddies aren't on your side. The burden of proof can be very slippery. Laws are not the same everywhere. Lawsuits and legal action can take months or years to see any results, and I don't care how many times you've seen it on TV, no, you can not always get your legal fees back if you win. And you still have to keep the bills covered and the boat afloat in the meantime. How many other things can contribute to someone's everyday stress at the same time? How many could you juggle?

In Peter's case, it's even more so. Africa is a dicey place to call yourself a witch, and the fruitcakes who want to imprison, maim, torch, and execute people they don't like don't give a damn about your human rights or what you mean when you use the word "witch". They aren't going to give you an opportunity for any teaching moments, they're just going to do whatever their current insanity dictates.

They have counterparts of varying degrees of crazy here in the US. Some of them are running for office. Some of them are already in.

Educate, debunk, and be visible all you can. Every inch is closer to a mile, and if you can score a whole mile all at once, good for you. But when it's called for, be strategic - fight smarter, not harder. And don't shoot down the people who can only manage an inch at a time.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The US Air Fundamentalist Academy

Snitched from Gus diZerega for additional opinionatedness, and in case you guys haven't been there yet.

Talk To Action's Chris Rodda covers a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates from MRFF - the Military Religious Freedom Foundation regarding the Academy's refusal to make the results of the most recent Climate Survey public, as is usual. It also addresses complaints from several cadets, parents, and others who have seen things get worse instead of better. It's important to note that many of the complaints, and some of the co-signers, are Christian - but not, as one of the cadets notes, "the right kind of Christian".

Except from the letter:

Last year, due to our then confidence in Lt. Gen. Gould, MRFF was advising the cadets and USAF Academy staff who came to us to trust the system, and not to be afraid to take their complaints and concerns to the appropriate staff at the Air Force Academy. The cadets et al were skeptical, but MRFF assured them that things were changing for the better. Apparently, in light of recent events, the cadets as well as members of the USAF Academy staff were right to remain skeptically leery of the system.

Sorry guys, but from where I stand, people who think the system works have never had an unpopular complaint or opinion. Retaliation is alive and well, and it takes on a whole new level of fugly when you're in a culture where you've sworn to obey authority and given up some of your personal freedom in pursuit of the pinnacle of team performance. "Some" personal freedom does not mean "all", but you can't tell a religious supremacist that. "Rank is might and might makes right" gets even nastier when applied to a mentality that believes it's religious goals have the precedence of God-ordained righteousness over everything else, including civil law. I don't think there's going to be any improvement unless people take into consideration that people who maintain that attitude are part of the system that's supposed to prevent that kind of thing, and are in fact remaking the system to support and enforce it.

Why aren't more people in an uproar? Ignorance and apathy. The general media will report on that Lohan bimbo if she blows her nose (with or without anything up it), but they're not reporting on this. It doesn't appeal to the right kind of lowest common denominator.