Why Do We Have Zoos Still?

Chooseyourownfoodchain’s thoughtful post on Zoo’s really got me thinking, why do we even have Zoo’s?

Zoos are intended to provide entertainment and sometimes, education, to the general public (who are paying for this, either in the form of a ticket or, I assume, through taxes).

When it comes to conservation,  a nature preserve seems far wiser and infinitely more humane.

This historical observation really struck me hard:

Here’s a thought: DID YOU KNOW THAT HUMAN BEINGS USED TO BE DISPLAYED IN SOME ZOOS**!??? That’s right. In both America and western Europe, people who were considered “different,” namely those of non-European descent, were kept in small areas for the paying public to watch.

Why the hell do we perpetuate that kind of legacy on animals?  So bored parents have someplace to take their kids on a Saturday?  For educational purposes?  Let’s put an end to zoos.  We can encourage parents to be active with their kids on Saturdays, and watch nature specials that are far more informative than staring at caged animals.

We can do better, for ourselves and for animals.


Why Aren’t We Honest With China?

China has no respect for the rights of its citizens.  Why do we have a shred of diplomatic respect for this country?  I don’t advocate isolating China by any means, but in our dealings with them we have a moral responsibility to make clear we view their human rights abuses with earned contempt.

Actually Bryan Fischer Has a Point

I’m an unabashed liberal, and stand firmly for the separation of Church and State.  The rest of Bryan Fischer’s worldview is morally repugnant in its blatant support of theocracy.  That being said, Karoli and John Amato of Crooks and Liars are wrong, and Bryan Fischer is correct, in this particular argument.  They are discussing the case of a Mr Cranick, who refused to pay the Fire Department until his house was literally on fire, at which point the Fire Department refused his last minute offers to settle the bill and let the house burn down.  He writes:

What angry folks fail to realize is that if Mr. Cranick had been able to get away with this – if he’d been able to wait til his house started to burn, then offer $75 and immediately get help – it wouldn’t be long before everybody else stopped paying. Why bother if you can wait until the emergency hits? If you pay when you don’t need to, that just makes you a sap. Pretty soon nobody would have fire protection at all since the city can’t afford to fight fires at $75 a pop. The city would have to withdraw its offer to the county, and everybody, especially responsible folk, would be less safe.

(Essentially what Mr. Cranick wants is “guaranteed issue” for fire protection. This is the same thing that is going to destroy the health care industry, as it is already starting to do under RomneyCare in Massachusetts. If you can wait til you get sick before applying for insurance, and the insurance company has to provide it, everybody will just wait til they get sick to get insurance and pretty soon nobody will have insurance or health care, either one.)

This is a very good point.  What does our school system look like when only the parents of children attending a given district paid?  That situation leads to huge disparities between districts.  Now imagine going a step further and only paying when their kids actually attended.  Would that work everywhere?  What would the tax burden for those particular families be?  Now imagine pay as you go applied to the police, fire department, hospitals, etc.  Some services are essential and require infrastructure and investment to operate effectively.  Pooling resources allows us, as a society, to get more (or in some cases anything at all) for our buck.  This is where Karoli misses the point:

No, actually what Mr. Cranick wanted was grace — the ability to pay whatever he needed to pay at that moment and in that time to get them to turn on the damned hoses. What he wanted was someone to say yes, we will accept your perfectly good money and turn the water on for you. What he wanted was forgiveness, which is above all else, the foundation of Christian values and principles. That’s what Mr. Cranick wanted.

His money wasn’t perfectly good.  Again, if everyone acted that way, there would be no Fire Department.  Now perhaps if we ran a Christian society where grace and forgiveness were law, then the Fire Department would have been obligated to respond.  Ironically, Bryan’s argument is a secular one – one which does not rely on any sort of religious precept to make its point – it works just fine with logic.  Bryan doesn’t seem to get that himself:

This story illustrates the fundamental difference between a sappy, secularist worldview, which unfortunately too many Christians have adopted, and the mature, robust Judeo-Christian worldview which made America the strongest and most prosperous nation in the world. The secularist wants to excuse and even reward irresponsibility, which eventually makes everybody less safe and less prosperous. A Christian worldview rewards responsibility and stresses individual responsibility and accountability, which in the end makes everybody more safe and more prosperous.

Actually that “sappy” worldview is Christian.  The view that suggests Mr Cranick should have paid properly isn’t one that stresses individual responsibility.  It is a pragmatic one that says “if we want x, we need to do y”.  Simple, no god-magic needed.

Don’t get me wrong, John and Karoli are dead on in their criticism of Bryan Fischer and his religious-political views.  One would not have to stretch the imagination to call them anti-Christian, and they are clearly anti-American.  We are not a theocracy, no matter how hard extremists like Mr Fischer might wish it.

That being said, Cranick’s actions expose a gaping flaw in the reality challenged perspective of the libertarian.  Sometimes – not always – taking a communal approach to resources and services is a far wiser move than leaving them to the unstable winds of the market.

It leaves one with some interesting food for thought though.  What would a truly Christian country look like?  With tithes – there would surely be taxes.  With grace and compassion, there would surely be a social safety net.  Christian conservatives can count on opposition from secularists who respect freedom of and from religion as a founding precept of this country of ours.  Its only a matter of time before their own argument bites them in the ass, as the heart and soul of Christianity is anything but violent, fearful, reactionary, or conservative.

Today in Stupid Hate Crimes…

Two homophobes were charged with assaulting a gay man… in a gay bar:

Two men have been charged with a hate crime after an attack on a gay man in the bathroom of a historic gay bar in downtown Manhattan early Sunday morning

Could this be as depressingly stupid as we are thinking?

The 34-year old victim, whose name is not being released, was at a urinal inside the Stonewall Inn when one of the defendants allegedly asked him if he was gay, according a news release from the district attorney’s office.

When the victim responded yes, Matthew Francis, 21, allegedly yelled, “Get away from me f—-t. I don’t like gay people.”

How stupid do you have to be to experience surprise at finding a gay guy in a men’s room at a gay bar?  Not that homophobic assholes have been known for their brilliance, but this just sets a new standard.

Conservative Supreme Court’s Poor Reasoning

In deciding whether a contractor for a low-to-no-risk government job ought to have any expectation of privacy in background check forms, this little nugget of joy escaped the “brilliant” mind of our chief Justice Roberts:

Stormer said people in low-risk jobs should not be scrutinized as other employees in sensitive positions may be. Yet Justices Samuel Alito and Roberts said it would be impractical for the government to have an array of forms.

“You know,” Roberts said, “it’s a big government, and they can’t tailor every inquiry, every form, to the individual applicant.”

Really?  The government can’t have one set of background checks for high risk situations, and another for low risk?

Brilliant.  At least a conservative gets to take a swing at “big government” while unironically hinting he will vote in favor of that government’s right to invade our privacy.  Truly makes the head spin.

Anti-Burka-Crusaders and Anti-Choicers: Common Threads

As the Anti-Burka tide rises in Europe (hahaha, Anti-Islamic politics?  What religious minority will those wacky Europeans go after next?), I was struck by problems in the law’s reasoning, as well as similarities with the anti-choice anti-abortion nuts here at home.

The law is ostensibly about protecting dignity and equality:

“Given the damage it produces on those rules which allow the life in community, ensure the dignity of the person and equality between sexes, this practice, even if it is voluntary, cannot be tolerated in any public place,” the French government said when it sent the measure to parliament in May.

Much like anti-abortion folks are all about protecting women and their weak little women brains from themselves, this carries an element of that sexism firmly entrenched in the law.  Even if a woman makes the choice freely, there is something wrong about it, and she needs to be forcibly freed from her choice by legal means.

Look, I’m personally not a fan of the Burka.  I also don’t go around aborting fetuses (well, every weekend anyway).  You don’t see me crusading against a woman’s control of her own damn body now do you?  Take a lesson from that Europe.  Hell, if you hate Muslims THAT much just pass a toothless resolution and be honest about your bigotry.  You handled your anti-semitism phase so well, the world is just dying to see how you manage this little hate-fest.

Its More Than an Enthusiam Gap, Assholes

Wow the One Nation Rally beat out Glenn Beck’s RallyBig Newz Camperz:

Enthusiasm gap, schmenthusiasm gap. Without the benefit of months and months of advertising and promotion on Fox News Channel (in fact, I’m only aware of Ed Schultz on MSNBC doing any kind of TV promotion), the One Nation Working Together rally in Washington DC has gathered more supporters than Glenn Beck’s much ballyhooed rally, which I will lovingly refer to as “Whitestock”.

Preliminary satellite estimates put the crowd size at 175,000 to 200,000 at about noon EST.

The Democrats celebrated by promising not to let the Bush tax cuts expire for the ultra wealthy, and to expand the War on Terror to one more mystery country in 2011.

And yes, I was reminded once again that, for whatever disappointment we may feel with the way the progressive agenda has been stymied and diluted the past couple of years, every progressive voter needs to ask him/herself: Do I want to spend the next two years playing offense or defense?

Playing offense obviously.  Against ALL politicians who continue to grind America into the ground with their rush to the conservative “middle”.

Then get out in November and do the right thing.

Seriously, fuck you buddy.  The Democrats have screwed the base out of existence.  I’m gonna vote against Republicans, but no fucking way am I voting for a Democrat.  I will work as hard as I can to smash Democrats in the primaries.  I will let the assholes who get in know that their hostility to liberal American values will cost them their seat in the future.  But fuck them for thinking I’ll do this shit with enthusiasm.  I’ll just try my best to keep from puking.

As for the One Nation Rally, I’ll leave you with this:

The agenda of One Nation has always been secondary to the desire to reinforce support for President Obama and urge him and others to move their agenda. The underlying belief of the largest organizations mobilizing for October 2nd is that Obama is just like Roosevelt, and that people need to “make him do it”. This is a poor, myopic reading of history, and demonstrates the poverty of leadership of these huge organizations.

That the Democratic Party rarely acts upon, or even articulates, the concerns of most or any of the constituencies headed to Washington demonstrates that the leadership of the One Nation organizations are holding onto a past conception that no longer, and perhaps never, was true: that the Democratic Party is one for the working people of the country.

That last part really struck home for me.