Urban scape

The Rhetoric of Nature

The single idea that recurs again and again in the rhetoric of religious reactionaries is the notion that something is against nature. Prophylactic devices should not be used because they do violence to nature. People of the same sex should not be allowed to wed because their lifestyle is unnatural. These people claim to own a trademark on the definition of nature and they profess to know what is in favor of nature and what is against it.

Are these people opposed to all things artificial? Do they eschew wine made from grapes grown on grafted vines? Do they abstain from the use of optical prosthetics on the grounds that they are not natural? Do they harness a horse to a cart rather than employ an internal combustion engine or an electric motor? Do they carry their belongings on their heads rather than harness a horse to a cart? Do they refrain from opulent rituals on the basis of the artificial trappings of medieval bling? None of these things are considered "against nature" in the minds of these despots.

Margaret Sanger celebrated the fact that the Roman religion adopted the rhythm method as a birth control technique. It validated the essence of her mission. Romans claimed that the rhythm method did no violence against nature, but that other methods did. Why is one artificial means of contraception not against nature and all others are? It has something to do with the Roman hegemony over the definition of nature.

It could be said that there are two very distinct natures. One of them is under strict Roman control. The other is beyond the pale. One is a nature shrouded in darkness and the occult practices of Roman priests. The other nature is open and available to everyone outside of Roman control.

Yes, birth control techniques besides the rhythm method do violence to nature, but only the Roman nature. They do no violence to the other nature because the other nature does not exclude them. Yes, same-sex marriage is against nature, but only the Roman nature. The other nature does not exclude same-sex love.

Links: A Roman position on homosexuality and nature. A Roman position on contraception being against nature.
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The Case Against the Case Against Planned Parenthood

Pro-life groups have promoted the notion that Planned Parenthood is a racist organization dedicated to the genocide of African Americans and other marginalized peoples of color. Their case is based on a few flawed assumptions and some deliberate misrepresentations. They attack Margaret Sanger with fury in such a way that exposes the deceptive nature of their mission. They take information out of context in order to make it signify the opposite of its true significance. They use a poorly structured, possibly criminal, telephone study to put Planned Parenthood in a negative light. They lean on the sentiments of racially sensitive African American leaders to associate Planned Parenthood with authentic racist elements in American society. They display a lack of understanding of what genocide really is.

In her autobiography, Margaret Sanger describes her first encounter with a KKK women's auxiliary group. Her description of the encounter puts the Klan women in a dim light. She describes the experience as bizarre and the women as poorly educated. Pro-lifers ignore this aspect of her account and go so far as to characterize the meeting as a Klan rally when it was not. They also fail to consider the fact that Sanger was at the meeting to talk about her own mission of promoting women's rights, not the Klan's mission.

[More inside]Pro-lifers also misrepresent Sanger's relationship with the eugenics movement. Her autobiography contains references indicating a sympathy with the movement, but it also contains indications that she had difficulty getting the eugenics advocates to support her own work. Eugenics depends on involuntary sterilization rather than voluntary methods. Sanger's mission was reducing the burden on women that comes with unplanned pregnancy. She sought to empower women to take control of their own fertility. Eugenics does the opposite by denying women control. Pro-lifers deliberately ignore the fact that the most extreme advocates of eugenics opposed reproductive freedom. The Nazis shut down family planning programs in their territory.

One of the more pathetic attacks on Planned Parenthood involved "researchers" who called Planned Parenthood offices with deliberate racist appeals. (The calls may have been recorded illegally.) The racist calls claimed to advocate the abortion of African Americans out of fear of competition. Planned Parenthood has a policy of allowing donors to target their funds to a specific ethnic group. Pro-lifers claim that this makes them racist when it is the donors that are racist. The irony of the competition argument is that planned families probably have more competitive children than unplanned families. The calls were reproduced in the propaganda film "Maafa 21" which admits that the project was funded by Live Action, a pro-life group.

The film also parades the work of Samuel Yette to support the contention that there was a conspiracy to use birth control as a weapon of genocide. Yette's work is an excellent treatise on the assault on civil rights by the Nixon administration and other racist politicians. He details the reaction in Washington to a situation of near-famine conditions in the rural South. Southern states were diverting federal food subsidies intended for the poor away from African American communities. As part of the reaction to this situation, certain congressional leaders attempted to advance legislation that would make abortion and sterilization mandatory for young unwed women. Planned Parenthood was mentioned as being the only health care available for free to poor blacks in the South. There is absolutely nothing in Yette's work that links Planned Parenthood to the racists who supported forced abortion and sterilization.

The attack on Planned Parenthood has exposed the pro-life movement to ridicule. It has attempted to enlist minorities in a program that is detrimental to minority interests. It uses deceptive tactics that reflect poorly on the movement. It exploits the work of people like Yette who stands at an opposite political pole. Most embarrassing, it demonstrates an unfamiliarity with what actually constitutes genocide.

Links: Arina Grossu repeating propaganda about Sanger and the Klan. Margaret Sanger's autobiography. Samuel Yette's work on Nixon administration misdeeds.
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Political Gaming

Two of my personal favorite works of politics in entertainment involve a single character portrayed in two separate imperial venues: London and Washington. The American version of "House of Games" portrays the political gamer as a social climber of the nouveaux riche who mirrors the original British character, a Tory "aristocrat." It is fitting that the same political thug comes from disparate origins on either side of the Atlantic.

[British version inside]

The character in both cases uses his sexual charm to manipulate a liberal journalist towards illiberal ends. The American wife runs a fake philanthropy with more interest in its own growth than in being a benefit to humanity. The British wife is obsessed with securing a comfortable pension for herself after her scheming husband's demise. In both versions, the wife are happy that her husband uses his stud appeal in the interest of family gain.

[American version inside]

The story line on both sides of the "pond" is pretty much the same. The political gamer pulls strings and levers to manipulate his colleagues to his own advantage. Since British and American strings and levers differ a bit, the stories vary accordingly. Both share in the basic framework of intrigue, conspiracy, and brutal tragedy.
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Jesus vs. Sol Invictus: Who Won?

From a Christian perspective Christianity is good and Paganism is evil. From a Pagan perspective Paganism is good and Christianity is evil. Christians deride the institutions that existed in the ancient world as primitive and barbarous. Pagans deride medieval institutions as primitive and barbarous. Are both sides wrong, or is one side right and the other wrong? Both sides cannot be right.

From the modern Pagan perspective the cult of Sol Invictus is an infantile institution. The principle symbol of the cult is a golden sphere referred to as the imperial orb. Folk literature portrays it as a child's toy. This reflects its immaturity in the progress of human development as well as the immaturity of those who desperately cling to it. People who have yet to outgrow the cult of Sol Invictus cannot think of themselves as underdeveloped. After all, they assume the mature responsibility of maintaining imperial stability in the name of civilization. If we subscribe to a Christian point of view, the cult of Jesus triumphed over the cult of Sol Invictus to usher in a medieval period of sweetness and light. The imperium of Sol Invictus was replaced by the imperium of the vicar of Jesus. The pestilential snake was trampled under foot and the glory of Jesus was made manifest. The Dark Ages were not as dark as the heathens would have us believe. After all, economic prosperity flourished.

From the Pagan perspective material wealth is a poor indicator of human development. The imperial orb is traditionally associated with palace culture which has existed since the birth of civilization. Jesus could hardly be considered a vector of palace culture since the palace was the seat of his antagonists in Rome and the Levant. If anything, Jesus was a threat to the primitive rat race aspects of palace culture.

The Christianity of the medieval period promoted palace culture to an extraordinary extent. Christians assured the glory of Jesus by building an incomparable palace in Rome to house the vicar of Jesus. The imperial orb continued to exist, crowned with the symbol of the death of Jesus. The material evidence indicates that the cult of Sol Invictus triumphed over the cult of Jesus. Destruction and corruption of early Jesus cult literature also points in this direction, as does the persecution of people considered to be heretical enemies of Constantine's Church. The continued celebration of the solar rebirth in the fourth week of December puts icing on the cake.

From the Pagan perspective medieval Christianity, and its modern remnants, form the continued existence of the cult of Sol Invictus by another name.
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Halloween and San Francisco Values

Americans who participate in the national cult of major league baseball, albeit from the sidelines, might be aware that the colors of the San Francisco team match the colors of the all-hallows eve festival. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the American cult, it is a game of skill and chance with roots in the British sport of cricket. Many aspects of the game have ties to esoteric occult concepts. The all-hallows eve festival is a bit more universal with roots in a pre-Christian religious festival. It shares this pedigree with the festival of Sol Invictus which is celebrated during the fourth week of December.

San Francisco is so famous for its raucous celebration of this ancient Pagan rite that some folks come here to dress in costume year round. Why party one day a year when you can keep it going around the calendar? That was the practice of ancient kings and their more recent incarnation at the court of Saint James in England. The denizens of Hippie Hill have more in common with plutocrats than they imagine.

If we judged the entire city by the habits of these blessed few, we might come away with a rather dim view of San Francisco and its values. Most of us only party on designated occasions and visit Hippie Hill for a contact high. We do not dress up to deceive except to seem more "professional" than we are at heart. On any given day more yoga mats can be seen in public than cannabis vaporizers. The latter can easily be confused with their tobacco counterparts.

Housing costs in San Francisco exceed those in New York City. Demand is enormous and space is tight. Many folks must work their fingers to the bone to keep a roof over the heads of their families. This has sparked a resentment toward technology professionals and the semi-green vehicles that bus them to work in southern suburbs. Yes, it is true: we have a reverse commuter situation here where the city has become a bedroom community to the industrial 'burbs. Young folk have evidently learned that it is safer to stagger home from a party venue than depend on a designated driver.

For this years all-hallows eve festivities I shall dress as Sarah Palin. No figure is more frightening on the street of San Francisco.
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Kill the Messenger: a lesson in thought control

The movie Kill the Messenger dramatizes the story of Gary Webb's encounter with CIA media spin control. It is a rather moderate film compared to the work of Oliver Stone, but it clearly depicts a level of thought control and complicity on the part of American mainstream media outlets. It is worth seeing in theaters for the benefit of some of the topics it brings up. Webb published an expose on CIA involvement in the American urban crack epidemic through its support for the Nicaraguan Contras during the Reagan years.

One of the fascinating aspects of the whole story is how people dismiss the work of Webb because they failed to duplicate his results. One of the aspects of the thought control process was putting words in Webb's mouth that he did not write then saying such assertions could not be verified. The fact checking that was done by the mainstreamers was limited to interviewing CIA public relations officers and an imprisoned narcotics trafficker. The CIA guys made a big deal out of the fact that they were not consulted by Webb when he was working on his expose. The narcotics trafficker denied having spoken with Webb who bribed his way into the prison. It is ironic that Webb was attacked for sourcing stories based on the testimony of drug traffickers, yet the mainstream outlets used the statement of just such a person to try to discredit Webb.

Let this story be a lesson to anyone who considers swimming against the current of a blatantly pro-CIA media establishment. It is also a good lesson in how the first amendment has been marginalized by sycophantic media toadies.
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World Mental Health Day?

Yesterday was world mental health day. One of the things that its founders advocate is the "proper" treatment and care of those considered mentally unwell. The state of best practices in the mental health profession is pretty damned abysmal. Those who advocate "best" practices tend to overlook the inadequacies of such practices and the need for better practices. Development of better practices is hindered by interference from those with a financial commitment to abusive practices.

The three most frequently used forms of psychiatric abuse are lobotomy, electro-shock (ECT), and hard sedation. The first two were more popular in the past than they are now. The third is considered to be so normal and even necessary that to deny sedation would leave a practitioner liable to a malpractice suit. All three practices have been shown to result in brain damage at one level or another. Although the damage caused by sedation is less apparent than that caused by the other two "treatments," it can still be quite significant. Tardive dyskinesia is an overt symptom of such damage. Its prevalence can be reduced with secondary drugs. More subtle damage results in more subtle damage symptoms.

What we need is not a day to focus on mental health, but a day to focus on psychiatric abuse and its countless victims.
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The never changing Jesus

I saw a sign outside someone's house that said, "Jesus: the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow." This prompted me to think of Jesus as the guy who opposed, opposes, and will oppose birth control and marriage equality. (I do not actually think Jesus would side with the Catholic position, but the sign was in a Catholic neighborhood.) I mentioned this sign to one of my neighbors. He had no idea that there were birth control techniques at the time of Jesus. I gave him a bit of a history lesson on how the Roman government banned birth control in order to maintain a hefty population. The sign should read, "Caesar: the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow."
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Why Do Fundamentalists Hate Wisdom?

I have had a privileged education, not because I had rich parents who sent me to the most expensive schools, but because I had wise parents who did not send me to Sunday school. My exposure to biblical literature did not begin until I had graduated from college. This means that I was not indoctrinated into a rigid interpretation of what appears in its pages. It allowed my mind to be stimulated and exposed to metaphoric meaning long before being exposed to something that other youngsters were told was divine writ.

There are a great many pointers to wisdom in the Bible. There are references to concepts that show up in pagan wisdom literature, such as the seed sower paradigm. There are also many indicators that demonstrate the hypocrisies in fundamentalists practice. When I encountered the injunction to avoid public prayer, I practically rolled on the floor in a realization that fundamentalists know so little about what is in the pages of the Bible.

Pagan wisdom schools were persecuted by the Church in the sixth century. It was also a time when heretical Christian literature was burned for its obvious threat to the established order. The greatest irony of this persecution is that the best minds of the Christian orthodox tradition had been trained in those wisdom schools. A good deal of them had dropped out before learning enough to poke holes in orthodoxy.

Much is made of the Jewish background of Jesus, but little is made of the Pagan origins of Judaism and of the wisdom schools that had such an obvious influence on his life and mission. Fundamentalists cannot fathom these connections because such connections challenge the paradigm that Jesus descended from outer space rather than from exposure to Cynics, Stoics, and neo-Pythagoreans. Pagan wisdom traditions demonstrate the moral and spiritual bankruptcy of the fundamentalist tradition of intellectual repression and bigotry.
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International Community? What International Community?

The recent tragedy in the sky over the Ukraine has shined an unexpected spotlight on the most secret of enclaves, the American military intelligence machine. Those of us who have studied that machine from the outside and from within know that it is far better at contriving information than in delivering it. This can be seen again in the reports on the Malaysian air disaster.

Media pundits bandy the words "international community" about as if they had genuine significance. If this so-called community was a real community, the raw data would not be held in the private hands of American military intelligence. If this so-called international conglomerate was truly international, the Americans would treat their partners as equals, not as subordinates.

Some of out students have come up with alternative scenarios that place culpability in spots less comfortable to advocates of the American empire. One such scenario includes the possibility of an on-board explosive, such as a terrorist device. Another scenario is that the raw data includes electronic signals intended to make the airliner appear to be a military aircraft. This is the kind of deceptive technique that was most likely employed in the KAL-007 incident.

Those who fail to learn from the deceptive practices of American military intelligence are doomed to be deceived by them. There is a genuine international community, but you will not find it on CNN or Faux News.