Wednesday, May 27, 2009

a short one

hey all--
I've been writing every day on (cue portentous, pretentious music here)

<<<|||||***My Novel***|||||>>>

and so haven't been posting here as regularly. But i came across this at cracked and it made me laugh, so i thought i'd share it with you. Go Nuggets!

in light of 'X-Men: Origins' and the new Star Trek movie, they had a contest in which readers would make up prequels to some unexpected films. To wit:

You know what that is, little man? An uncomfortable hunk of metal. And dysentery.

Before he was a star, Wilson was just like you and me: sitting on a shelf at Sports Authority. Waiting.

And my favorite. I wonder: did they get all jacked up on caffeinated soda? Or maybe that creepy guy who sweeps the floors got them high for the first time in the bathroom...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

do not go gentle

Poor Dick. I've been seeing Dick all over the television lately. Dick, Dick, Dick, Dick, Dick--to quote Quentin Tarantino.

And as The Cheney Family Torture Tour '09 continues to drag on, it's starting to get that tired feel to it, like a Whitesnake reunion tour on its second Midwestern swing.

He's starting to seem desperate, and I began to feel sorry for him. He just seems so sad, feeling the impending hammer of justice about to crush his skull.

So I wrote him a poem.

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Light
Requiem For a Dick (Cheney)

By Kurt Brighton
(with apologies to Dylan Thomas and anyone who loves actual poetry)

Do not go gentle into that good light,
Old age should burn and rave at bright new day;
Rage, rage against exposure in the light.

Though false men to the end think might makes right,
Because their tongues were forked, unenlighten’d they
Do not go gentle into that good light.

Cruel men, ‘Go fuck yourself;’ my, how very trite
Their vile, dark deeds have danced in Gitmo Bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the night.

Wild men who drank and shot a friend in spite,
Don’t learn, just lie, deceive to clear the way,
Do not go gentle into that good light.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Indictments could blaze like meteors one day,
Rage, rage against exposure in the light.

And you, of penguin’d mien and turtled spine
Curse, bless us now with fierce falsehoods you say.
Oh, just go gentle into that good light.
Rage though you will ‘gainst the dying of the night.

(original follows)

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night
By Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

okay, i know what i want for christmas

via metafilter.

Ladies and gentlemen, introducing a long-overdue addition to the canon, one that cleverly combines the nerdishness of board games and the stunning, hallucinatory, evergreen coolness of Hunter S. Thompson:

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: The Board Game!

An artist named J. R. Baldwin has created a one-of-a-kind tribute to HST and his Gonzo madness in the form of a board game. Naturally, it features Heavy Substances of all kinds:

"I wouldn't recommend sex, drugs, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me." --HST

And of course, the game comes in a suitcase.

As HST said, “Every now and then when your life gets complicated and the weasels start closing in, the only cure is to load up on heinous chemicals and then drive like a bastard from Hollywood to Las Vegas ... with the music at top volume and at least a pint of ether.”

There's only one of these awesome creations in existence, so put in your order for my Christmas present now! Prove how much you love me!!! :)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

the weather...

you know you've always wanted to know:

what's the fucking weather?

(via metafilter.)

a prediction of the summer to come. or maybe the rapture has FINALLY arrived! Hooray!

python bonus

I read that during this scene, the extras playing the centurions were not told that Michael Palin was going to be speaking with his famous speech impediment as Pontius Pilate. These poor fuckers were actually trying very hard not to crack up, and Palin was working equally hard to get them to.

The real torture begins around 2:45.

Naughtius Maximus indeed. :)

python - life of brian

This is fantastic. When 'Life of Brian' came out in the mid-70s, it created a firestorm of controversy. It was even banned in several countries, sparked outraged demonstrations, and drove church leaders to denounce it as the worst kind of filth. There was a documentary put together that appeared on the deluxe version of the DVD, featuring archival footage of protests, and contemporary interviews with various Pythons. It also features clips from a BBC programme on which Michael Palin and John Cleese appear with an Anglican bishop and some other sour, angry man.

It is hilarious to see these men talking down to them, referring to the 'tenth-grade humor' he says they used in the film--especially considering that most of the Pythons were educated at Cambridge, a fairly decent little school, if I understand it correctly. Graham Chapman, who played Brian in the film was actually a medical doctor.

At any rate, these are longish clips, but for an amazing perspective on what artistic suppression based on religion was like even as recently as thirty years ago, and in an 'enlightened' Western country, they are invaluable.

As Terry Gilliam says in one clip, "What ever happened to the idea of 'Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me?'"

Or as I say when I wear my smart-ass, anti-religious t-shirts, if your religious beliefs are so fragile that they can't stand up to a dim-witted slogan on a shirt, you are in trouble indeed. I think if there's an omniscient god, he probably has better things to worry about.

The great ages in history, when mankind has moved forward with new discoveries and new knowledge have been seething cauldrons of opposing ideas battling it out until the truth won out. The problem with religion is it is always treated as a taboo subject that can never be questioned or even discussed, and it holds us back.

This is a unique behind the scenes look at the making of one of the finest, cleverest religious parodies ever written.

Part 1 (under ten minutes)

Part 2 (under ten minutes also)

'Romanes eunt domum? People called Romans, they go to the house?'

'It says 'Romans go home!'

'No it doesn't.'



I posted two interesting clips, but this is part of the BBC interview show and commentary on it to which I referred.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I'm totally stealing this guy's idea

Once again, Florida proves itself to be the vortex of all that is Weird and Wrong and Stupid about America. At least this guy has a sense of humor about it (via fark). Not only that, he's found a way to profit from his state's ever-burgeoning loony population:

'There are those who believe in the Rapture prophesied in the Bible. And there is Joshua Witter, avowed atheist.

They need each other.

At least some people think so -- those willing to pay Witter to be their post-apocalyptic postman, delivering cards and letters to their non-believing friends, relatives and neighbors who will be left behind when the Day of Reckoning arrives.'

Yes. Yes, yes, yes!

How indeed, once the Rapture arrives, are Christians going to be able to rub it in the faces of those who ridiculed them in this life? Granted, they will of course be able to look down from the clouds on which they will be living, their corporeal flesh raised up unto heaven, and laugh in schadenfreuderific delight as their friends, relatives, and neighbors are consumed in lakes of fire and have their limbs ripped off by the seven-headed beast. There will surely be heavenly television shows wherein unbelievers will be fodder for the derision of the saved--a lot like Japanese game shows, I would imagine.

But how can these pious winners truly lambaste the non-believer losers with a great big 'We're number ONE!' after said winners have already been taken up?

'Among the best sellers are the line of I-Told-You-So cards, which sell for $8.


Witter has read all the books of the popular "Left Behind" series, so he knows what to expect. Covered with boils, he will have to fight his way through perpetual darkness, clouds of insects, and meteors falling from the sky to deliver the mail.

"Your hope lies with me. I am your mailman," he vows. "I'll do my best come Hell or high water to deliver those letters."'

If you want a nice Christmas card for your sinful nephew or niece, or if you just want to posthumously rip an atheist a new one, go to Witter's site here.

I wonder if he might be up for a Colorado-based franchise?

Friday, May 15, 2009

so cute, so smart.

Ran across this on videosift just now and couldn't resist putting it up here.

Stay real!

lions vs. christians

Just a funny little clip i found on videosift. Happy weekend, all.

religion rant III

I can only imagine that it must lighten some of the parenting workload to be able to provide a child with a gift-wrapped morality lesson by pointing to the bible and saying, ‘Here’s why we’re good to each other. End of story.’

But dragging children to church at an early age only raises the question: whatever happened to that whole free will thing? I thought the way it worked was God gave us free will, and we needed to make the choice to believe, in order to be saved. If that’s the case, why is every major religion so eager to get young boys and girls indoctrinated?

(Insert obvious Catholic priest/pedophile jokes here.)

(Ha ha! ‘Insert!’ Get it?)

As a child my first introduction to religion wasn’t really an introduction to religion per se, at least not as it is generally perceived in this shrill and divisive time, this time of smug certainties shouted from the rooftops or lobbed across borders in the form of bombs and missiles. We lived in central Pennsylvania, and we went to Quaker meeting on Sundays, I suppose as a sort of compromise between the pointy-headed liberal/ivory tower world my parents occupied (my dad taught mechanical engineering at Penn State) and the more conservative upbringing they had endured in southern Indiana.

At Meeting, we would sing a few hymns, people would stand up to speak if they felt like it, and we would sit silently for long stretches, praying, or in my case, gazing out the window at the dappled sunlight on the summertime grass, thinking about playing Smear the Queer, or army men, or building a fort, or the million other things I would be doing as soon as I could shed those itchy, rarely-worn, ‘nice’ clothes.

As I look back, Quaker Meeting seems more of a humanistic, political event than a religious one. We were taught how Quakers were among the earliest abolitionists, ‘fought’ for civil rights in the sixties, protested war and were conscientious objectors. My parents participated in a program which brought paroled prisoners (non-violent, I hope) into people’s homes and tried to help re-introduce them to society. One such ex-prisoner lived at our house for a time when I was like six or seven.

Talk about forgiveness.

And I can see why even parents who might not be terribly religious themselves might shy away from telling a five-year-old ‘We don’t go to church because there is no God.’ Hell, even alleged grown-ups have trouble with the concept that, without God and his immaculate spy-cam watching our every move, humans would degenerate into amoral beasts. As H.L. Mencken said, ‘People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police.’

(Sidebar: To paraphrase Christopher Hitchens, what an incredible insult to the ancient Jewish people, the notion that prior to the commandments coming down the mountain, people were casually slaughtering one another without a second thought, stealing, coveting and disrespecting their parents. How did their society last as long as it did if that were the case? Indeed, if, pre-Moses, we didn’t know any better than not to kill each other, how did humans avoid wiping themselves out in an orgy of blood thousands of years ago?)

I am grateful that the only hardcore religious indoctrination to which I was subjected took place when I was 14 or 15, well into my smart-ass, questioning years. After I was sent off to ‘private school’ in Georgia, we went to Baptist church every Sunday, decked out in our sad blue blazers, ties, and gray dress pants. We squirmed in our seats, trying to hide boners beneath hymnals, listening to the bellicose preacher warn of the dangers of touching ourselves, touching girls, touching one another, touching a fetus, touching alcohol, and generally, just touching anything but the bible. It was everything you ever dreamed a Southern Baptist church could be.

Even so, I admit I went through a phase in which I read the bible cover to cover and strove mightily to welcome Christ’s love into my heart. No bullshit.

I really did believe for a while, too, you know. For a few months, at least. I can see why the promulgators of religion (and cults, and the Jonas Brothers, and Marlboros, and Bratz dolls, and Count Chocula, etc., etc., ad infinitum) have a such a hard-on to get into the heads of kids at an early age.

(Insert obligatory Catholic priest joke II.)

I remember, as a confused and troubled adolescent (aren’t they all?) how comforting it was, what a relief it was to think: Here, here are all the answers to all the questions that have dogged me. It is all laid out here. It is all going to be All Right.

And of course that is one of the functions that religion--and the burial ceremonies and cave art and other ritualistic behaviors that emerged well before organized religion--have long served. They attempt to provide some sort of Answer for that which we can never know: why are we here, and what happens after we die?

Of course, the people who drew pictures on cave walls and the people who built Stonehenge didn’t know what happens to ‘us’ after death any more than modern Christians, Muslims, Jews or Buddhists do. You stick the body in the ground, light the incense and say the incantations, and after that it’s all conjecture and wishful thinking. It’s ego, fear of death, and wishful thinking that drive all of these myths, which is why ‘faith’ must necessarily be such a vital piece of the puzzle.

It’s a tidy, ingenious bit of circular reasoning, isn’t it, to say, “Oh, you don’t believe? Well, you’re going to burn in hell then. We know this for a fact. But, in order to avoid that, we just need you to let go of reason, and logic, and the common sense that has guided you as an individual your entire life, and us as a species for millennia, and trust utterly and fully in this absurd, self-contradictory mythology, which was largely lifted from previous myth-makers by people so ignorant they didn’t know about botulism, antibiotics, epilepsy, or even that the earth is round, and then everything will be fine.”

We’ve got an offer you can’t refuse.

There are just too many damn holes in Christianity and religion in general to hold water for very long--for someone who is able to think about it with even a glimmer of objectivity. I was lucky enough to be a smart-ass teen before they got hold of my brain for that brief time. But what of those who are to young to protest? Or to even formulate the thoughts which could uncover the myriad layers of illogic, misinformation and downright lies that are inherent to religious belief?

The central religious tenet of humans having free will, and then choosing to give themselves over to God’s will is belied by the tenacious, desperate way in which all religions indoctrinate their young. What choice, what free will can a five-year-old exert? It is only after his or her mind has been thoroughly pumped full of images of burning hellfire, eternal damnation, and punishment that he or she can ‘choose’ God.

Of course, by that time it’s not really a choice at all, is it? It’s a sad, poignant, yet revealing commentary on religion that its proselytizers are so insecure in their beliefs that they feel the need to hijack their children’s ability to think for themselves.

I don’t doubt the sincere desire of many religious people to ‘save’ their own (and other’s) children. But it’s this exact sincerity which makes them so dangerous.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

something important

Dunno if you've heard this story yet, but an Army Lieutenant, Dan Choi recently was fired for coming out. Now the sad/scary thing about this is that it is a continuation of the boneheaded policies the Bush Administration implemented, in that Choi is an Arabic speaker, holding a degree in Arabic from West Point.

Yes, it's true that Don't ask/Don't tell was first passed into law under Clinton, but under Bush, during a FUCKING WAR in the FUCKING MIDDLE EAST, dozens of Arabic translators--who are probably real useful out in the field--were fired for violating 'Don't Ask/Don't Tell.'

This is from a letter Choi wrote:

'As an infantry officer, an Iraq combat veteran and a West Point graduate with a degree in Arabic, I refuse to lie to my commanders. I refuse to lie to my peers. I refuse to lie to my subordinates.


I have served for a decade under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" -- an immoral policy that forces American soldiers to lie about their sexual orientation. Worse, it forces others to tolerate deception. As I learned at West Point, deception and lies poison a unit and cripple a fighting force.'

The email I got directs you to this site, where you can sign a petition asking President Obama to reinstate Choi. Here's the video of Choi's interview with Rachel Maddow.

I urge you to sign the petition. It's not only time for our military to join the rest of us in the 21st century, it is not only common sense that we keep as many of the rare soldiers who are Arabic speakers as we can, it's simple justice.

Believe it or not, even Obama can fuck up too. Let's help him see the light.


Hey all--
Just an update. I'm going through one of my periodic 'spring cleanings' of the mind and body. Thus I've been working very hard at forcing myself to concentrate on my novel-in-progress instead of dinking around on the web.

a) I hate saying things like 'I'm working on my novel,' because it sounds so utterly pretentious. I can't even say that phrase in my head without employing a snotty, milquetoast, WASP-ish voice.
b) It is amazing how easy it is to avoid work when one has the ethernet cable plugged in. lol. The whole world is just a click away!!! :)

To be perfectly honest, I think I have ADD. But if I work at it, I can translate that lack of focus into working on different pieces when one thing becomes boring to me. Hence all the ranting lately instead of working on my novel. (I feel like my name should be Chad or Chase or Tad when I say that phrase. Muffy, be a dear and freshen my cocktail, would you? Mumsy is off playing tennis with Nigel...)

So I have been neglectful of posting in this space. Thanks to everyone who has commented on my recent religious rants, etc.

And to those of you who keep coming back looking for new posts, your dewy eyes full of shining hope, your hands aflutter in anticipation, your hearts fairly skittering at the thought of a new mandroppings post--only to find that I've disappointed you once again, I will try harder. :)

Religion Rant III coming up, later tonight or tomorrow.

Peace, and here's some philosophical food for thought. Which cat are you today? :)

Friday, May 8, 2009


Here's a fun, yet pointed little cartoon pointing out the absurdity of the offhand judgments that are rendered against atheists. (via videosift)


As Richard Dawkins said, 'You're an atheist too. I've just taken it one god further.'

Indeed, it's interesting to think that monotheists describe it as a smug given of progress that over the centuries, we've whittled down the number of gods. From animists who believed in gods inhabiting every rock and rabbit and tree, to the polytheists worshiping their gods of thunder and of the seas, to theists it is an example of 'progress' that we are left with our Big Three with their unitary gods (or in the case of Christianity, its strange and contradictory belief in one god who also is his own son as well as a ghost of some sort, not to mention the virgin human mother of said son who rose physically to heaven upon her death, a decidedly god-like accomplishment.)

If only we could take this winnowing of gods down one more...

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The proof is in

God exists. In salami. Via fark:

'A South Florida woman said she was cooking fried salami when she noticed the word "GOD" on the meat, Miami television station WFOR reported.

Nancy Simoes said she had three pieces in a skillet and flipped one of them and saw the letter G.

"Then got the O and I thought to myself how cool will it be if the third letter was a D."

Simoes realizes people may think she's crazy.

"I can't make this up. ... it's there in the burn marks."

For 20 years, her family has enjoyed fried salami for breakfast.

Now Simoes is wondering how she will preserve the "holy" salami.'

Might I suggest she eat it? Transubstantiation at its most meaty.

Only in Florida.

Monday, May 4, 2009

religion rant 2

I think I have the swine flu. Or the Mexico flu, if you prefer that nomenclature for religious reasons.

(Sidebar: if the mere word ‘swine’ makes a strain of flu offensive, could a rabbi pray over the virus under a microscope in order to render it kosher? After all, it’s not actually a pig. Can a virus be slaughtered in such a way as to comport with Talmudic law? How about this: If an Orthodox Jew were to contract something called ‘swine flu,’ presumably against his will, does that mean he failed to keep kosher? Can Hindis get cow pox? These are the questions that torment me...)

I don’t really have swine flu. I just have an unholy capacity for poor decision-making. And an unquenchable thirst.

At any rate, I awoke today to find that the laundry I had put in the dryer last night was a lump of damp, probably mildewed fabric. No big. Call the landlord, get a number for a repair service.

So as I’m on hold with the company, listening to the endless blah blah blah of the ‘Your business is important to us,’ etc. message, I hear them insert this gem: (I am paraphrasing) ‘_____ Appliance Repair values its customers and serves God in the way we conduct our business. Have a blessed day.’

Really? Seriously? This small, and admittedly fairly unimportant moment brought home for me how widespread this is, all the businesses you see these days that have a Jesus fish conspicuously placed on their signs, or in their ads, or otherwise proclaiming something along the lines of ‘A Christian-owned business.’

It sticks in my craw.

Why would someone bring up the topic of God--in a recorded message, no less--when all I want is a working dryer? Does this mean that every single employee is a Christian? And, if so, how do they find that out when they conduct interviews? 'All right, Bill, your resume looks good, your references all check out. Now I’m just gonna need to see your penis. Checking for foreskin, don’t you know...’

At first glance such advertising seems relatively harmless. To my cynical mind, it might just be a cheap advertising ploy, an attempt to rope in the Christian dollar. It comes across as a way of saying, ‘One of Us!’

Or, to the less cynical, perhaps the people who run the business are simply happy and proud of having made their ‘decision for Christ,’ as Alec Baldwin’s delightfully odious character in ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ put it.

But if you root around in the implications of choosing to advertise your business with reference to your religion, there are several problems. One is that Christ said (if you believe that such a person existed and that the people who wrote down what he supposedly said hundreds of years after the fact did so with any degree of accuracy):

"And when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to the Father which is in secret...."

There’s a teensy weensy problem of pride in these kinds of very public affirmations. And it is a particularly slithery, sinuous pride: it’s someone being proud of being so very humble. ‘Look at me! I’ve given my life over to The Lord ®!’ There’s a smugness, a passive-aggressive hostility to such declarations in the form of bumper stickers and magnetic fish that is bad enough on a personal level. But to advertise a business with this attitude smacks of a dim certainty that not just you, but your BUSINESS has been Chosen.

Which leads to the second problem: the very mention of your religion in your business advertising suggests an association between the way you make your money--a venal, mundane, and very earthly activity--with something divine and transcendent. Even if I were a Christian, I would find this offensive.

ESPECIALLY if I were a Christian.

Do you think your God gives a flying shit where I buy eggs or shoes or insulation? Is He really that petty? It’s the same concept as a football player dropping to his knees and ‘giving thanks’ after scoring a touchdown. If there were something as grand and omniscient as the God in which the religious would have us believe, He surely has better things to worry about than sports or where you buy caulk. You cheapen your own faith by suggesting otherwise.

Third, there is an implication that, because the people running the business are Christians, we should choose them over others who are not. Presumably, this means that as Christians who are ‘serving God’ somehow in the process of selling hammers or hot dogs, they are more trustworthy than others who are not Christians. The plain implication is that you, as a good Christian, should shop at Christian-run stores. But the unspoken converse of this is that you should NOT shop at a store run by Jews or Muslims or pagans or atheists. It implies that such people are untrustworthy or otherwise not good enough for you to do business with them.

The smug, mindless sense of Christians having superior morals to everyone else is something that demands to be examined, deconstructed and questioned at every turn. Examples abound.

Okay, granted, maybe I’m reading too much into this. And, too, I’ve been reading a ton of atheist manifestos recently, so these thoughts are in the forefront of my mind.

Never fear: I haven’t been ‘converted’ by the likes of Dawkins, Hitchens or Harris. I converted on my own a long time ago.

Religion is like seeing a good magician: you know something isn’t right, you can sense that something's crooked, that there is a trick you’re missing, but you just can’t put your finger on it. You can’t get away from the uneasy sense that you are being hustled. Perhaps that’s why the notion of faith figures so prominently.

The fact is that we literally have no idea how much of this sort of nonsense--destructive, divisive nonsense--is woven into American society. The assumptions we make and they very way we think and see the world are so imbued with religion--Christianity in particular--as to make us blind to it, and to the messages it really implies. To borrow an image from Joe Bageant, trying to understand religion for modern Americans is like fish trying to understand water. It is the very medium in which we swim.

And that’s what makes it so important that we come up for air whenever possible.

so stupid...

...yet so funny.

I love scrolling back through my previous posts. The wild variety of what I put up here is either an indication of the insane schizophrenia from which I apparently suffer, or the fact that I clearly have ADD.

The other thing I learn from looking at my own posts is how much energy I had on any given day, lol. The long, crazy rants obviously show me at my best, my least hung over, my most thoughtful.

Conversely, posts like this show me on days when I am in a great deal of (self-inflicted) pain, and can do little more than helplessly surf around on the net in a near-coma and whimper quietly to myself. (I played open mike last night at Lucky Joe's, and apparently took it upon myself to rid the entire city of any and all bourbon that was laying around, tempting people. I am a savior.)

Anyway, for your amusement.


Friday, May 1, 2009

who would jesus torture?

Oh my. What a giveaway, as Michael Palin would say.

Pew Research recently conducted a poll on people’s approval or disapproval of the use of torture. They came up with some startling (or perhaps not so startling) data:

“WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The more often Americans go to church, the more likely they are to support the torture of suspected terrorists, according to a new survey.”

Wow. So what happened to all that love and brotherhood shit? You know, all the stuff that Jesus guy was always on about?

“More than half of people who attend services at least once a week -- 54 percent -- said the use of torture against suspected terrorists is "often" or "sometimes" justified. Only 42 percent of people who "seldom or never" go to services agreed...”

It is interesting to note too, that if American soldiers or even journalists (filthy beasts that they are) are found to have been tortured or killed outside the arena of combat, it is considered a heinous crime. Look at the mileage John McCain got out of his treatment at the hands of the Viet Cong during the presidential campaign. Note also the many current references to the Japanese soldiers who were tried and convicted for torture (waterboarding, etc.) after World War II.

Not to diminish in any way the misery McCain or anyone else suffered. Indeed, that’s the point: every fiber of my being says that treating another human being this way--ANY other human being--is wrong. We know it’s wrong if it’s done to us. But if it’s wrong for them to do that to us, why is it not also wrong for us to do it to them?

Here’s the scary thing that this poll reveals: this blithe, casual dismissal of other people’s suffering comes directly from Judeo-Christian teachings. The double-think at the heart of the pro-torture camp (the very idea that a great many Americans could rightly be identified as “pro-torture” in this day and age is in itself repugnant) that is, the contradictory notion that we can look away when torture is performed on terror suspects while simultaneously denouncing the same treatment as inhumane when it is performed on Americans can be said to stem directly from the Bible.

If you read the Bible closely, (and, yes, Virginia, I have read it, in its entirety--more on that in a future rant) retribution against The Other is a long-held and intrinsic part of the whole deal. Granted, it’s a remnant of our tribal roots, our desert nomad ancestors who lived in a violent, brutal, and lawless time, and who had good reason not to trust outsiders. But that fear and hatred of The Other remains today, and it informs the book that was supposedly put down by God’s stenographers, direct from The Big Guy Himself.

Indeed, violence against The Other, that is, one who is deemed unworthy of God’s love--again, despite the fact that we are meant to believe that He created them too--whether that means other tribes, family members, children, or the countless women who are portrayed in the bible as little more than sex toys to be bought, sold, used for men’s pleasure and/or killed, is part and parcel of the Christian faith. With so much suspicion and rage and vengeance woven into the entire system of belief, is it any wonder God’s foot soldiers would have internalized these base and brutal impulses?

It’s the ultimate ‘top-down’ argument: not only did Rumsfeld, Cheney, Bush, et al order and approve of torture--so did God.

So it can be said that this has been a rigged game all along: sure, be nice to your mom and dad, don’t murder each other, don’t steal, etc. (oh, and be sure to obey Moses’ rules on when and how to go about selling your daughters!) But only within the tribe. When it comes to anyone outside of our tribe, all bets are off. Is it any wonder that so many supposedly ‘good’ people, church-going, religious people, the ‘moral’ ones among us, the ‘values voters’ whose beliefs we are told must be respected at all cost, would support the wanton and useless torture of godless brown people who are not part of our tribe?

In fact, biblical scholars, in particular evolutionary anthropologist John Hartung says that the admonition “Thou shalt not kill” was originally intended to mean “Thou shalt not kill other Jews.” (I am referencing a paper Hartung wrote on the evolution and biblical history of in-group/out-group morality that was in turn referenced by Richard Dawkins in ‘The God Delusion,’ but I admit I haven’t read the entire paper itself)

Of course, self-proclaimed Godly people routinely violate this most inviolable of commandments at will anyway. Just as routinely, they forgive themselves for these transgressions, creating all manner of justifications that allow them to see these acts as forgivable, if not blessed.

But it is downright hilarious that these most revered of God’s supposed words--the words that countless Christian demagogues would like to see plastered on every public building, even if they can’t recall very many of the commandments--may not even apply to those of us who weren’t born of a Jewish mother.

And it isn’t so far-fetched. You don’t have to read much further along in Exodus to find God’s command to go out and slay the Hivites, Canaanites and the Hittites (who were people, presumably, and people who were presumably also created by God, as Christopher Hitchens points out in ‘God Is Not Great.’)

Seems to me that He could have spared everyone a lot of trouble if He had simply foregone creating those other tribes in the first place and instead erected a big old ‘For Lease’ sign in Judea.

So, when He said ‘Thou shalt not kill,’ what could He have meant? Too bad there was no such thing as ellipses in the biblical times. It should have been ‘Thou shalt not kill, unless...’ and ‘Thou shalt not steal, except...’

There is so much gleeful butchery in the Bible--Old Testament and New--that if an alien species were to come to earth and be given a copy, and told, ‘This is the book by which we conduct ourselves, and which we hold to be the highest truth about how to live,’ the aliens would surely nod, nervously smile, and rapidly say a polite good-bye.

Then they would proceed to run for their lives--that is, if we let them live long enough to actually read the damn thing.

The bible is more sado-masochistic than DeSade’s ‘Justine,’ by a mile. DeSade is a rank amateur compared to the Creator, who created us in his image. One of the most revered and oft-cited scholars of Christian philosophy, Saint Thomas Aquinas came up with what he called the Cardinal Virtues: prudence, temperance, justice and fortitude. Of course, he also wrote: “That the saints may enjoy their beatitude and the grace of God more abundantly, they are permitted to see the punishment of the damned in hell.”

Guess he should have added schadenfreude to the list.

As physicist Steven Weinberg said: “Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it, you’d have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things it takes religion.”

That is torture, in a nutshell. It may be God’s law, according to the countless scribes who wrote, re-wrote, purged and re-interpreted the bible over the centuries, but it is not our law. It is not the law of a modern, enlightened America.

We know better than to sell our children and we know better than to stone ‘disobedient’ women.

And we know better than to torture.