Thursday, December 9, 2010

Let it go, people

It seems to me that way too much is being made of the relocation of a manger scene from the borough building in Canonsburg. As most know by now, the borough manager got a complaint about the religious display on public property. He asked the Knights of Columbus to move their manger to another location, and a business down the street from the borough building was kind enough to play host. From the community's over-reaction, one would have thought that somebody had burned the baby Jesus in effigy. Folks, get a grip. Number one, the religious display had no business being on public property in the first place. Number two, it's still standing, a few doors down from the borough building. Everyone in Canonsburg, if they wish, can erect their own nativity scene on their own front lawns. There can be 20 on every block. But legally, there shouldn't be one on borough property, and borough leaders were wise to avoid an expensive court battle that they assuredly would have lost. I'm a non-believer. Would I have made a stink about the manger scene in front of the borough building? No. I don't think having a nativity scene there put us on the slippery slope toward the borough enacting mandatory Catholic church attendance. In fact, I greatly enjoy the Christmas season. I like the music, the good food, the gatherings with family and friends. On occasion, I've even attended the beautiful Christmas Eve service at my wife's church. Heck, there's a manger scene and a tree decorated with angels and such in my living room. I just don't happen to believe the story behind all the seasonal festivities. At the same time, I don't feel like less of an atheist because I embrace the joys of the Christmas season. But I will say that I'm sick and tired of hearing the crap about the "war on Christmas." There's no danger of Christmas falling by the wayside because a few people assert their rights under the law or because some stores and other entities recognize that, hey, there are some other religions that are equally deserving of respect. This is a nation where all belief systems, no matter how crazy, should be afforded the exact same level of acceptance. Christians are no more worthy of respect and should be given no more say in how our country is run than Muslims. Your selection of which deity to worship affords you no special rights. And as an atheist, I'd like to state, with absolute certainty, that non-Christians have a much better chance of being victimized by a cultural war waged by Christians than vice versa. So if you don't mind, quit whining and enjoy this wonderful time of the year.

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These idiots should go to prison

It happens all too often, and the punishment, sadly, rarely fits the crime. It is the premeditated murder of defenseless children who die because their parents try to pray them back to health. The latest such case is on display this week in Philadelphia, where Herbert and Catherine Schaible are on trial for involuntary manslaughter in the death of their 2-year-old son, Kent, who was allowed to suffer for two weeks with bacterial pneumonia while his parents did nothing but pray over him. Of course, the toddler died. These people should definitely be sent to prison. It's just a shame that they aren't being tried for murder, because that's what they're really guilty of. A social worker who testified Wednesday said Herbert Schaible told him, “We tried to fight the devil, but in the end the devil won.” That's just sick. And what’s even sicker is that authorities have allowed the couple to retain custody of several other children. If you truly believe that an invisible demon caused your child to get sick with viral pneumonia and die, you have no business raising any child. If people like the Schaibles had to spend the rest of their days in prison, perhaps this sort of thing would go away. But as it is, authorities and society as a whole give way too much leeway to people like them, just because they claim to be acting on the direction of their God.

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GOP to miners: We don't care

Republicans in the U.S. House have made it very clear that they have little interest in improving mine safety. The GOP blocked passage of a bill this week that would have better protected whistle-blowers, boosted penalties for serious mine-safety violations and helped the government to shut down problem mines. The legislation stemmed from the deaths of 29 West Virginia miners at the Upper Big Branch mine. Apparently 29 deaths is just a drop in the bucket for those lawmakers whose first priority is not worker safety, but protecting corporate profit margins.

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