Sunday, May 25, 2008

Violence and invisibility

I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that the entire continent of Africa…with the possible exception of oil-rich regions that invite exploitation by first world nations…is completely invisible to the rest of the world.

Yesterday I read, on the CNN website, about violence in Italy: seems there’s some flap going on regarding garbage collection and eleven people got hurt…nobody killed. But not a word about the 25,000 people displaced in South Africa.

Perusing the Reuters site I saw its roll of top stories listed an article about a soccer riot in Belgium that involved 200 people…but no deaths. But not even an honourable mention for the 50+ people who have died violently in South Africa over the last week.

The AP fared only a little better, publishing stories on May 23 and 24, but not considering them sufficiently newsworthy to be listed as top stories. So, if you weren’t already aware that something was amiss in the Rainbow Nation, AP’s website would tell you about earthquake aftershocks in China, cyclone aid efforts in Myanmar, and tornadoes in the Midwest, but the violence in South Africa would never have been brought to your attention.

Yahoo at least headlined the story: South Africa immigrant violence leaves 25,000 displaced, but the link was disappointing, since it led to a story about fighting between the government and rebels in Sri Lanka resulting in 20 deaths. So, even though Yahoo headlined the story, you couldn’t have found out anything about us or what is going on here, since the headline was linked to the wrong story and Yahoo does not provide an easy-to-access means of notifying them of such errors.

To be fair, the AP did have a couple of stories about our tribulations, but you would have to know something was amiss here and do a search on the site to find the articles.“At least 42 people have been killed and more than 25,000 foreigners displaced since attacks began earlier this month by South Africans who blame immigrants for crime and unemployment. More than 500 arrests have been made,” the article says. Maybe it isn’t newsworthy to clarify that the violence has been directed at immigrants from Malawi and Somalia and Zimbabwe? Or that the drug trade the fuels much of the crime here, at least in Cape Town, and is dominated by Nigerians against whom the police seem to be powerless and of whom the local blacks are terrified?

Cape Town police spokesman Billy Jones said about 400 people had sought shelter on a motor racetrack after 12 people were injured in overnight attacks on an informal settlement in Cape Town,” the AP article goes on to say. I live just down the road from that racetrack…Killarney…and my maid lives across the road from the informal settlement in question. I know at least something of what is going on…for example, I know that so far, no white people have been reported as victims, not even white foreigners like myself. But does the article give this piece of information, a critical bit of knowledge in a country still suffering the lingering taint of apartheid and its attendant racism? No, it fails to specify that the victims of this violence are other poor people of colour, immigrants whom the hard-pressed locals perceive as competition for scarce resources or even predators against them. This omission can easily mislead people into thinking that the violence is indiscriminate, that visitors from other countries are endangered, that local non-black residents are fleeing in fear of their lives, and nothing could be further from the truth.

But I suppose it doesn’t matter, after all. We are invisible to the rest of the world, written off as second rate citizens of third world countries, fifty of our deaths of less value or newsworthiness than eleven Italians bruised in a spat over picking up the trash.

AP article:

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A little too close to home?

Well, it seems my last post was a little bit too close to home for at least one person...but I have to wonder why s/he didn't bother to post a name or URL and chose, instead to call herself Anonymous. I always wonder about people who post anonymously when the option to leave a name is available...why don't they want their identity associated with what they have said? I find myself unable to take someone entirely seriously if they are ashamed or afraid to stand up for what they have written by putting their name to it.

So my anonymous correspondent takes me to task: Ouch! While I agree that some Christians fall way short of the ideal pattern set out for them by Jesus, I think you're being a little harsh here, we are not all bad! Surely, there have to be some good ones out there? For you to generalize makes you just as bad as the very people you are criticizing!

And I replied: Missed the point, didja?Go back and re-read. Everything posted in pink in this post (and yellow in the previous post) are direct quotes from self-identified Christians. Every one...and their screen names and a link to where those posts are originated is also provided.You may not mind being lumped into the same basket as delusional people who think they are hearing from Richard Nixon in heaven, who believe the Flintstones are historically correct, who think educating women is emasculating and who think torturing children is OK, but I don't want to be associated with these people.Tell me, would you kill YOUR child if s/he professed to be an athiest? There is a quote here from a woman who says she would!Do yourself a favour and go to and read the entries every day for a month. Just ONE month. Then get back to me.

What I did not do is to ask this person where I generalized. I made the statement that I do not want to be associated with these people, which is not a generalization but a statement of fact. What comes to mind when you hear the word "Christian"? For most of my life it meant kind, thoughtful, helpful people, people who loved their neighbours and did good works, who helped the poor. People like my grandparents who may not have gone to church often, but who donated to charity, participated in fund raisers for poor people, who behaved modestly, respected others, and were kind, loving people. But today if you say "Christian" to me, what comes to mind are the people we used to call "religious fanatics," nutcases who believed all kinds of fantastical...and impossible...things and who are determined to cram it down the throats of everyone they come across.

Their beliefs are ludicrous, their methods horrific: rape (FLDS), starvation (the family whose 14 year old son died of starvation while they had more than $3000 in the bank..."tithe money" they refused to use to feed their kids), depriving a dying woman of oxygen so they can harangue her one more time with their demands that she accept their religious beliefs (see previous blog), beating children until they submit (see yesterday's blog), willing to murder their own children rather than see them become atheists (previous blog)...the list of monstrous behaviours these people are willing to commit is beyond belief. Treason is a given, as they advocate violation of the Constitution in the pursuit of their ends: conversion of the US into a theocracy.

Generalization? No. By their own words they condemn themselves and when you say "Christian" to me, these are the people who now come to my mind. And given the visibility of the Religious Right, I'm willing to bet that most people, when they hear the word "Christian," these shameful people are what come to mind, not the kind, respectful, loving, helpful people who wore the name in the past.

Go ahead, I dare you...go to and read it for a month. Just click the link and then bookmark it. Read EVERY post they put up. Go back to the sources they cite and read the websites these quotes come from. Do it every day for a month and you will have a picture of just how pervasive...and lunatic...fundamentalist Christianity really is.

Then come back in a month and tell me you don't find these people and their beliefs scary...especially the belief that they are mandated by their god to force the rest of us to accept their belief or suffer horrific punishment (and not just in the afterlife...some of these people advocate capital punishment...including burning at the stake for heresy!).

These aren't your grandmother's gentle Christians, these are a whole new and dangerous breed who believe that the word "freedom" applies only to those who believe as they do. Be afraid, be very afraid!

Jesus wept...

…when he saw what His followers had ultimately become…

Are Atheists Blind? I have tried to debate with atheist on this forum, and I don't know if its me or not, but I find them very unreasonable. They do not seem willing to consider even for a moment that God may be real. They seem to have an attitude of arrogance about them. And I wonder, could some of them be evil, because sometimes they give me the shivers. And then there are those that get me a tiny bit angry. Then I want to smite them.... which of course is wrong... I should turn the other cheek. I'm beginning to think that some of the atheists that come looking for debate maybe under the influence of Satan. Are these people blind to God's truth? because when it is put right under their noses, they just don't see it. Gary51, ChristianForums
What part of “I don’t believe in supernatural puppet masters in the sky” does this person not understand? If a person were to say “I don’t believe in the Tooth Fairy” would he consider them unreasonable because they were not willing to consider even for a moment that the Tooth Fairy might be real? And can this person not see that he commits the same offence…unwillingness to consider that the other person’s view may have some validity…for which he castigates the atheist? Most alarming, however, is this person’s easy assumption that, because these people refuse to get onto his bandwagon, they are therefore evil. People who don’t agree with him give him the shivers and are under the influence of Satan. Coupled with his desire to “smite” these people, Gary51 becomes a scary guy. What happened to “love thy neighbour as thyself”?

This is a mother speaking:
As a devoted Southern Baptist, and more importantly, as a disciple of Christ, I would rather kill my own child (as Abraham was willing to do) than see him convert to either Islam or Atheism. Fisher, Yahoo Answers
Here is an example of atheism being capitalized as if it were a proper noun and the name of a religion. One does not convert to atheism, for there is nothing to which to convert. Oh…you are horrified at the easy pronouncement of a mother that she would kill her own child if said child were to take on a belief system she found repugnant? After reading hundreds of posts by these people, I’m not even surprised. They are the very evil they so fear.

My unsaved daughter died last year. I know she was unsaved because we tried to convert her when she was dying. My husband removed her oxygen mask hoping she would make a public confession of Christ, but she died cursing us. I often [think] about the flames as the lap up against her face for eternity and how painful that must be. I hope when we get to heaven, we won't hear the screams from hell. Do you think about the same with your children? adrianna.scruggs, Yahoo Answers
Yah…remove my oxygen mask as I lay dying and demand I convert to your belief system and I’ll curse you too. Gee, do you think depriving her of her oxygen might have hastened her death? What kind of selfish, self-serving monsters are you, to take the breath right from the lungs of a dying person in order to further your own agenda? Might it not have been more appropriate to simply say “no matter what, we love you” and let the girl have her few last breaths in peace?

If dinosaurs "evolved" into birds then how come on the Flinstones there were BOTH dinos AND birds? Darwin Was Wrong, Yahoo! Answers
Can anyone really be so stupid as to believe the Flintstones are an animated expression of historical reality? Well, I’ve read people objecting to Scooby-Doo because it “glorifies witchcraft” and deals with the supernatural. How ironic, considering that the very people objecting are those who want to cram their own supernatural beliefs down the throats of everyone else on this planet.

Why believe in something you can't prove at all, and which actually flys in the face of the bible? I would have thought that science involved more than belief, in this area, however, it doesn't. We must consider that God really seems to have created it, and that your so called science is religious balderdash!!! dad,
Does this person even read what he is writing? “Why believe in something you can’t prove at all...” Erm, exactly. Interestingly, “Dad” seems to overlook the salient fact that there is no proof of God (the Bible doesn’t count as that would be using circular logic), yet science proves itself over and over again through repeated experiments that give the same result.

The church is drastically affected by the bastard which is a child conceived out of wedlock. The bastards have great difficulty in going to church and participating in the church services. Those who have sexual demons may act religious in church to cover their guilt about their sexual sins. Gene Moody, Demonbuster
This illustrates two of my primary objections to modern Christianity: hypocrisy and the notion that it is ok to condemn one person for the “sins” of another. What do you want to bet the Gene Moody is rabidly anti-abortion, even in the case of aborting “bastards”?

If something is not in the bible, it is never 100 percent true. Not even 2+2=4. PharasiticalLaws, Five Pharasitical Laws
Oh, really? Well, I have given birth to three children. It’s not in the Bible. Does that make my kids figments of my imagination?

I just read that women obtained 61% of the masters degrees in 2007. Does anyone think this is a sign of the end days? I do. I think it is a sign of love growing cold because these women are choosing not to get married or need a man or have children. I think it is funny how they talk about this in the media as though it were perfectly alright. Jsmythe, RaptureReady
Maybe it’s just a sign of women, in a country where more than half of the marriages end in divorce (leaving women to look after children without fathers and, in many cases, child support) have decided to be able to take care of themselves and any children they might have? Maybe it’s a sign that women are coming to the point of understanding that if they are capable of looking after themselves economically, they have more secure futures. And what is not “perfectly alright” about a woman being able to take care of herself and her kids?

A good looking woman has a lot of advantages that an average looking women does not have. So looks alone would increase her odds for survival. If evolution were true, I would expect the less attractive one’s to die off in favor of the attractive ones just like the change in structure of Darwin’s finches. But what do we see in every day life? Most people have just average looks. SavedToo, FaithCommunityNetwork [
Evolution doesn’t work that way. For one thing, as long as the less attractive ones procreate, their genes are kept alive and they can’t die off. For another, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And finally, if everybody was “beautiful,” then “beautiful” would be, by definition, average.

Is it true that the Catholics claim the pope is inflammable? Alex V Z, Yahoo Answers
How can anyone seriously believe this? Wouldn’t a person possessing even the most rudimentary critical thinking skills instantly grasp that they must have misheard that last word? And, given that these people are adamant that their bible (usually KJV) is infallible, they are well familiar with the word. I have a great deal of difficulty wrapping my mind around the existence of this kind of credulity.

Richard Nixon, the US President sent hundreds of thousands of his people to their deaths in Vietnam, and for that you'd expect that he'd go to Hell. Well you're wrong. Through prophecy we have received a message from him in Heaven, and the only reason he got there was because as a very young child, he accepted Jesus and believed in Him. dancingdog777, Yahoo! Answers
Like many Fundies, this person is factually challenged. Hundreds of thousands of Americans did not die in the Vietnam War, and of those who did die, Nixon was responsible for only a portion, Lyndon Johnson having sent at least as many as Nixon. Second, there is no evidence that Nixon “accepted Jesus” at any point in his lifetime, particularly as a young child when his Quaker parents were in control of his religious influences. There is no way to tell if this person is merely uninformed or making that information up, but the subsequent claim would seem to indicate the latter: “Through prophecy we have received a message from him in Heaven…” Ok, prophecy means to foretell the future…how do you receive a contemporaneous message in a prophecy? Just one more example of what has come to be known as “Lying for Jesus.”

I'm sick & tired of all these secularists complaining that McCain's pastor, Rev. John Hagee, calls Catholics "Nazis." So what? Obama's pastor questioned America!! No thanks! I'll take McCain's hate-speech over critical dialog ANYday!! ConcernedMother,
Hate speech is preferable to critical dialog…’nuff said.

Anyone with intelligence will NOT vote for this man because of these facts and more. The super delegates are backing him only to obtain black votes for their needs! Clinton carries baggage, but this Devil carries "the end of America" and that is what he calls "change". He is a Muslim wrapped in a cloak of "BLACK CHRISTIANITY" He is NOT an American, he is NOT a patriot; he is a liar and a fake with the wrong people behind him. WAKE UP AMERICAN VOTERS. Nonna,
Can we say R-A-C-I-S-T? And, as usual, factually challenged. Obama is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian, and he most assuredly is an American, his mother being a natural-born citizen. His father, who was never involved in his life, was Muslim at one time. This, to me, is a prime example of what Fundies mean by the phrase “sins of the fathers visited upon the children.” I find it immensely interesting that the so-called Christians, those who purportedly embrace the teachings of Christ (“love thy neighbour as thyself” and “turn the other cheek”) are the very ones who are attempting to smear this man through lies and innuendo.

Mean-spirited, pridefully ignorant, willing to condemn and kill others…even their own children…at the drop of a pitchfork—is this the legacy Christ meant to leave for the world?

I can no longer call myself a Christian for I shudder at the thought of being associated with people like these, people who would rather kill than think, condemn than love. Their very zealotry drives me off. People who openly justify lying and deceiving to draw others into their web, people who reject logic and reality if it conflicts with what they want to believe. People who condemn to eternal damnation the innocent alongside the guilty and who beat, starve, rape and mentally abuse children in the name of their faith.

If you wonder how atheists are created, go to and read it daily for a month or so. But be prepared to read some truly despicable stuff done in the name of the Christian god.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Even more Fundie "fun"

I worry about America. I used to think that referring to a person as a “good Christian” was a compliment and testament to their good character, but I’ve since had reason to change my mind. Read some of the comments actually made by “good Christians” and see what you think.

The reason why I threw out logic is because people think it is the bastion of secularism when in reality it is a religious belief unto itself. Mailpouch, World of Warcraft Off-Topic Discussion
Since when is logic a religious belief? I have seen these people insist that evolution is a religion, but logic???

The biblical worldview makes sense of science; secular worldviews do not. Jason Lisle, Answers in Genesis
Remember, the Bible says that insects have four legs, bats are birds, and rabbits chew cud; the secular view says insects have six legs, bats are mammals, and cud-chewing animals have multiple stomachs while rabbits have only one. You decide.

In response to the cloud rat being "rediscovered" after not being seen for 112 years:
well all this shows is how scientists jump to conclusions....the weather may be a tad warmer for a couple years and its global warming they they find animals they thought were extinct or almost come scientists arent claiming that God is recreating these animals. ricsow2,
AOL News Comment Board
Occam’s Razor says the most likely scenario is the simplest. That would mean that we simply haven’t seen the creature for 112 years, magical recreation being significantly less likely.

Stop assuming that the bible is not on the same level as scientific explanations. Ininja2000, GameFAQs
And we should assume a book written thousands of years ago by Bronze Age goatherds is on the same level as modern science because…? Science and religion are two very different things…as well they should be. Would you want a surgeon, whose training was entirely biblical in nature, do your bypass surgery? I have always believed that both had a place in our culture and society, but more and more I’m coming to rethink the religion aspect since it seems to make people stupid, selfish, and mean-spirited rather than inquiring, generous and compassionate, qualities necessary for a civilization to survive and advance.

I am learning, im learning that you tell me thats proof, but I still don't see it. showing me pics with evidence like swiss cheese isn't going to convince me. For example, I can give you a pic of a rabbit and a cat, thoses two breed together you get a cabbit, thats not evolution. and yes there are cabbits, look it up. Thats not evolution. It the same difference. dean1003, Christian Forums
I would like to tell you this is a joke, but sadly, it is not. This is what comes from allowing people who dropped out of high school to home school their own children. If this person…or his parents…had ever taken a 10th grade biology class they would know that wholly unrelated species…like cats and rabbits…cannot breed together. You can create hybrids from related species (horse+donkey=mule) but invariably such offspring are sterile and cannot reproduce themselves, Photoshopped pictures (or taxidermist’s little jokes like the Jackelope) notwithstanding.

[Does evolution stipulate any political attitudes?]
Um...can you stop using fancy phrases and talk plainly? What exactly do you mean by this?...If you mean, "Does belief in the Theory of Evolution affect the way a country is run or what Laws are (or are not) introduced?" then yeah, in my opinion it does. Racism for example used to be a HUGE problem back when people believed that Black folk were not as highly evolved from the monkey as White folk, and were in fact, sub-human. This all ties in with the Slave Trade as well. In the 1800s the Australian Aboriginies were highly persecuted, chased, shot, and displayed in museums, as sub-human "missing links". Presumeably this was all perfectly legal, because the Theory of Evolution dictated that these people were not really human, and therefore did not have human rights. The problem of racism also falls under the last question about moral consequences. Many other laws have also been passed that greatly oppose Christian and other moral teaching, and I believe that these can be linked with the general embracing attitude towards the Theory of Evolution. Kat,
Argument from Ignorance coupled with temporo-centrism. First of all, slavery and the slave trade itself predate the Theory of Evolution by centuries. People from the Indies who were then called “Malays” were enslaved by the Dutch and brought to Southern Africa in the 1600s; black slaves were bought and sold and considered less human than white people at the time of the writing of the American Constitution in the late 18th century: Darwin and his theories did not exist until the mid-nineteenth century. Slavery was an accepted institution in the time of Christ and Christ himself did not repudiate it. The idea of racism as a bad thing is a late 20th century concept: even the abolitionists of the Civil War era did not think racism was bad, only enslavement of humans of any race. Christianity had nothing to do with the abolition of slavery or the demonization of racism: both were secular and political in nature and the Christians of the Deep South embraced both without compunction. And while slavery was abolished more than 150 years ago, racism was alive and well in America…and openly and blatantly practiced by even the most devout Christians in the South…for more than 100 years after Abolition.

On Creationism in school:This should be an option in school. Darwinism is a religeon too. I am sorry but in the words of South Park....I am not derived from a retarded fish having but sex with a monkey creating me...a butt sex retard baby...I did not spawn from primortial soup or a monkey.....keep it up Florida... All of you science based individuals are the ones who are closed minded.. Duh, Topix
For starters, “Darwinism,” or more correctly, evolution, is not a religion but a scientific theory. Creationism, on the other hand, is a religious (Fundamentalist Christian) explanation for how the world and its contents came to be. Public school are funded by tax dollars paid by people who are not Fundamentalist Christians, people who are Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, atheist, Wiccan. The taxes that support public schools are also paid by Christians who do not believe in Creationism or its oxymoronic equivalent, Intelligent Design. Since the Constitution forbids the government from establishing a religion, the government cannot support one religion’s creed over that of another: it must treat them all equally. Americans are notoriously stingy when it comes to approving tax increases for the benefit of their local schools so it is unlikely that, given a choice between funding the teaching of a hundred or more creation myths (government has to treat all religions equally, remember) or teaching a single secular scientific theory (and leaving the individual creation myths to the individual religions and their adherents), it’s no surprise that nobody has voted a bond issue to pay for the teaching of a plethora of creation stories in their school district.

As an aside, Duh (how apropos the name, denoting both stupidity and wilful ignorance) is apparently another victim of home or Christian schooling, exhibiting a shocking ignorance not only of evolution but of biology as well. Evolution theory addresses how the species evolve and differentiate, slowly over long spans of time; it does not address how life originated, only how life adapts to its changing environment. Duh could not have made a more pathetic example of prideful ignorance had he intended to do so.

[Faith can alter reality? If I have enough faith in something, faith makes it true??]
Yes Inan3,
Christian Forums
What do you say to something this bone-deep ignorant? If you have enough faith, you can get the sun to rise in the west and set in the east? With enough faith you can raise your dead grandmother from her grave and find her baking cookies in your kitchen when you get home tomorrow? With sufficient faith you can bring back the dinosaurs or even Thomas Jefferson to set you straight on what the Founding Fathers really meant by the government not establishing a religion. Why, with enough faith you could even grow red roses in snow-covered fields, and get Brad Pitt to leave Angelina and fall madly in love with you and happily move into your double-wide behind the wrecking yard out on the edge of town.

Whatever is praised by men is an abomination to God (Luke 16:15). Apply this fully to the world: economics, science, self-confidence, power, sex, sports, business, celebrities, democracy, freedom, money, politics, success, peace, business... [yes, PEACE!] anonymous, Bible Issues-General Christian Principles
Well, if you ever wondered why the followers of Jesus were such a war-mongering bunch, here’s your answer: these people believe that peace, since it is praised by men, is an abomination to God. Of course, it can’t be that they are misapplying this admonition, can it? I mean, their book is infallible (even if the readers and their interpretations are not).

It appears that evolutionists don't how stars generate light because they laughed at me when I said that scientists claim that stars reflect light. So I though I'd illuminate them. (Forgive the pun). Carico, CARM
Um…stars generate light as they are big balls of burning gas; planets reflect light from stars, much as the moon reflects light fro m our sun (which is actually a star). How hard was that? And how can you get something so basic, so wrong? Maybe it really is time to outlaw home schooling and hold religious schools to a minimum state-mandated curriculum so that this kind of ignorance, which once was rare but now is frighteningly common, especially among the fundamentalists, disappears. No nation of superstition-bound technophobes can survive in the modern world and if this kind of stupidity continues to spread, American is doomed.

Could Satanist and Atheist be the same? This thread is not intended to offend anyone but to merely examine the common elements between the two subjects…I have examined different beliefs and I have found two that strike me as eerily similar and yet strikingly different. From my understanding so far, Atheist believe there is no life after death, god, heaven, hell or devil. Jackie, GATEWORLD Forum
For some unknown reason, many fundamentalist Christians simply cannot grasp the idea of someone being without a supernatural being to worship so, if you don’t worship a god, they apparently reason, then you must worship the devil. To her credit, Jackie actually seems to understand that atheists do not share the Christian mythology, but she is rare among Fundies, most of whom seem to think atheism (which they often capitalize) is actually a religion rather than the complete absence of religious belief.

almost 100% of murderers, rapists, and other are not religious. they either worship satin or no god at all *cough cough* ,athiests, but there are a select few christians out there doing it but most realize of what they are doing and dont do such an unnessicary thing. cartmn203, YouTube
This is an excellent example of Fundie “facts.” The truth is, more than 80% of those incarcerated in US prisons self-identify as some form of Christian. The other 20% are not necessarily atheists, either: there are lots of other religions besides Christianity. This is also an excellent example of what passes for education among fundamentalists: not only can this person not reason well, he can’t spell (satin, athiests, dont, unnessicary) and shows complete disregard for the most basic conventions of written English (punctuation, capitalization, sentence structure, syntax). His recognition of the necessity for research and his dedication to telling the truth (the 9th Commandment, I believe) seem to be sub-optimal as well.

A lot of these people aren’t very nice, even to their kids:

[Response to a letter written about little kids who steal food from the pantry and won't admit to the thievery] Get a hidden camera that comes on when the beam is interrupted. They are used to photograph animals and can be purchased for less than $100.00. Install it secretly and wait for the lying thief to appear…First, get each one to sign a statement that they will not steal sweets. If one of them steals, wait for a week to see if the others will as well. Them come down on them with a charge of theft and be prepared to show your evidence. Three good spankings will be in order, plus one year with no sweets. Michael Pearl, No Greater Joy
Talk about overreacting! This person is scary! Treating six year olds like criminals, laying traps to catch your own kids…who, BTW, are between the ages of 6 and 11…rather than sitting down and finding out why they are taking the food? (I already know why nobody’s admitting anything…they are scared! And I suspect with good reason!)

Have you ever met a six year old who could make the connection between scribbling on a piece of paper and a promise not to sneak snacks when nobody’s looking? And if more than one child is sneaking into the pantry for snacks, my guess is that the kids are not being fed sufficiently. If it’s only one child, then I suspect the kid is doing some acting out behaviour (defiance or self-medicating with food) that could benefit from some gentle counselling. Maybe a lock on the pantry door would be helpful in making the point that nobody is supposed to go in the pantry without permission? But turning your house into a police state over a little pantry pilfering seems just a bit over the top to me.

More from the same guy:
It takes time and thoughtfulness for the child to come to repentance. I have told a child I was going to give him 10 licks. I count out loud as I go. After about three licks, leaving him in his position, I would stop and remind him what this is all about. I would continue slowly, still counting, stop again and tell him that I know it hurts and I wish I didn’t have to do it but that it is for his own good. Then I would continue slowly. Pretending to forget the count, I would again stop at about eight and ask him the number. Have him subtract eight from ten, (a little homeschooling) and continue with the final two licks. Then I would have him stand in front of me and ask him why he got the spanking. If his answer showed that he was rebellious and defiant, he would get several more licks. Again he would be questioned as to his offense. If he showed total submission, we put it all behind us, but if he were still rebellious, we would continue until he gave over his will. Only about three of our five children ever resisted after a spanking and refused to cooperate. Each of the three required only one experience of continued spankings until they surrendered. None of the three ever tried it a second time. In all cases, it was between the ages of two and four that they tried their moment of defiance. Michael Pearl, No Greater Joy Ministries
Slowly? Submission? “continued spankings until they surrendered”? Is it just me or does this sound like sadistic torture and child abuse to you, too? This person believes he is doing this in the name of his god. I can’t say I disagree with spanking a child, but this is just over the top.

Remember, these are the bright lights who tipped the scales and ushered George Bush into the Presidency, a man who named Ken Lay of Enron fame as a best friend, has wrecked the economy by unbalancing Clinton’s budget with the largest deficit in the nation’s history, repeatedly lied to the citizenry to scare them into supporting a war that is making his cronies rich, and has the compassion, intelligence and common sense of a large rock. Scintillating bunch, eh?

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

More Q&A

More questions about me, and more answers.

I like your responses. So, have you formed new friendships in SA, as a woman and with your husband as a couple? Are there community events that you attend. That is something we tend to establish in the US when we have school age children, so how do you do this in your new country?

Yes, we have formed new friendships here. Hubby is originally from Durban, so we were both strangers here in the beginning. I don't work and have no kids at home, so making friends is a different process here. Hubby is typically an engineer and not very social, at least not independently, so I make most of the friends, whom I then share.

Tomorrow night we are having dinner with a couple who were originally our real estate agents...they actually found this house for us. My friend Sally has a home business I patronize, which is how I met her. A couple of friends I met on the internet, and at least two friends started out as my maids!

We sometimes go to the theatre...we saw a credible production of Phantom and a not-so-terrific production of Chicago at the ArtScape Theatre, for example. The Convention Centre regularly hosts interesting shows and exhibits...we went to Decorex recently, a home decorating and improvement show. There is a Wedding Faire coming up and Hubby wants to go because he likes buying me fine jewellery and we have not had much luck finding a solitaire band to go with my wedding ring. He expects a lot of jewellers in one place at this shindig.

There is a wine fair at one of the upscale shopping centres this week and we'll probably attend as he is "into" red wine (we live in the biggest wine region in Southern Africa).

There is a lot to do and see in Cape Town and we seem to make our way to a good portion of it!


More questions? Leave them in a comment and I'll get back to you!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Why do people kill babies?

In Newark, California, a community near my last home in that state, a 23-year-old man has been charged with the beating death of his 2-month-old son. While tragic, in the annals of violent childhood death, this scenario isn't particularly unusual. But there is an added twist in the case that causes me to question whether or not the father is the actual culprit.

You see, the man is married and it seems the infant who died was left in the father’s care in his home…the same home he shares with his wife and other son, who is four. The wife was aware of the infant’s existence…and thereby her husband’s infidelity…and was actually home during some of the time the child of her husband’s paramour was in the house.

Now, police investigators have come to the conclusion that it was the father who assaulted and killed the infant and he has been arrested and so charged. But was it him or someone else, someone who had reason to be unhappy with the child’s very existence? It wouldn’t be the first time that a woman had hostile feelings for a child her man fathered on another woman.

Here in South Africa I remember stopping at a red light and reading the headlines a newsboy was holding up. An infant had been murdered during a robbery in local home. Immediately, I was suspicious.

The particulars, spelled out in the headlines and subhead, indicated the child was the only casualty of a daylight home-invasion robbery. Who robs a house and kills only the baby, leaving the adult eye-witnesses alive? Ok, I’m the first to admit that people who commit burglaries in lower-income neighbourhoods are probably not members of the intelligentsia, but c’mon…leave the people who can identify you alive, but kill the baby, who cannot? Something was definitely wrong here.

I mentioned this “clinker” to my husband and he turned to me incredulously. “Who would want to kill a baby?” he asked. “What kind of person would do that?”

I explained to him that there were women out there who would want the death of a child fathered by her boyfriend/husband. They would resent the lifelong connection to another woman, resent the financial drain of child support, resent the interruption of her own life that the child would represent. Instead of an idyllic romance with the man of her dreams, such a woman could easily feel bitter about the role of step-mother being thrust upon her, or the time her man might spend with the child…another woman’s child.

Some women of this nature would simply dump the man and try to find one without all the baggage. Other women might try to create and impose some structure on the relationship with the child and its mother. But there are a few who would seek to remove the obstacle, to remove forever the need for her man to have any connection to a previous love by removing the product of that love.

And so it turned out in the South African story. Dina Rodriguez, unhappy with the existence of her lover’s 6-month-old baby daughter by a previous relationship, conspired to have the baby killed. She hired several young men, provided them with a delivery package for them to use as a ruse to get the family to open the door to them, and the rest is history. Baby Jordan died and Dina’s path to a blissful romance with the child’s father was cleared. Until the police proved exactly what I had suspected on the day I learned of the crime and she was sentenced to spend the remainder of her days in prison.

Why do people kill babies? There are those who smother unwanted newborns and those who kill a child out of frustration with its incessant screaming. There are those whose personal demons lead them to abuse or neglect their children to the point of death, and even those whose religious delusions cause them to believe that killing their children is the will of their deity.

But there are also deeply selfish individuals who have no compunctions about ending the life of an innocent child for nothing more than to further their own agenda, to eliminate what they view as a hindrance to their happiness. Such a woman is Dina Rodriguez, and I would be utterly unsurprised to learn that a certain wife in Newark, California is cut from the very same cloth.

Karma, swift and sure

Hubby and I like to go to house sales. Not the sales of actual houses, mind you, but sales of the contents of houses. These are rather like an American yard sale or garage sale, but with a peculiarly South African twist: they are conducted with the white South African’s paranoia about crime taken into account.

Unlike American sales, there is no array of goods spread out on tables and tarps spread out in the driveway and lawn to tempt passers-by to stop, browse, and spend. Here, the signs posted do not give an address or even arrows one can follow to the sale. You have to subscribe (free) to the company that manages these sales and then, each Thursday, you receive an email listing all the sales they are hosting over the weekend, an inventory of the goods at each sale (and photos on the website), and the address (and directions to) the sale.

Once you arrive at a sale, you find a queue of people waiting for the sale to open. The organizers are scrupulous about allowing no previews and refusing to open the sale until the stroke of the clock. Once the door is opened, the manager of the sale will step out and give his little introductory speech for the benefit of first-timers: if you like something, take the tag off it, and if you change your mind, please put the tag back so others may have a chance to buy the item. That's it.

I suppose there could be an expectation that you enter the premises in the same order as you are queued outside the door, but it would be wrong. We’ve been to several of these things now, and once the doors are opened the crowd surges forward to fill the available space. At the first sale we queued outside a garden gate, and when the gate was opened, people rushed through, spreading out to climb the broad porch stairs in ranks four persons wide. When we had to narrow it down to file through the front door, people who had been far back in the queue were through the doors before those at the front. Arriving early at a sale only gets you a chance at being first through the door, but no guarantees.

We arrived at Saturday’s sale about half an hour early, which put us about twelfth in a queue that eventually grew to a crowd of about thirty people. Considering that it was being held at a relatively new flat in a pricey complex, the venue was suffocatingly small. Not only were the exterior passageways narrow, the flat, once we were admitted, was shockingly tiny. Had the bed not been removed from the bedroom, there would not have been room for more than two people at a time in the room. We were there for a pair of Elna machines…a sewing machine and an overlocker…but seeing the crowd outside, we were pretty sure we weren’t going to be able to get them. Another attendee, however, did not have so realistic an expectation, it turns out.

At the pole position was a dark haired woman wearing delicate silver and blue crystal earrings, and second was hiking-booted blonde woman of middle years who seemed peculiarly bent on informing new comers as to the order of the queue. Veterans of the sales just ignored her, but others took her seriously and dutifully assumed places at what she identified as the end of the line. When the door opened, of course, pandemonium ensued and while Silver-and-Blue Crystal-Earrings made it through the door first, Bootsie didn’t make it through second. Ah, well…such is the “structure” at such events.

Bootsie did make it inside before I did, but as she stopped to ask the sale manager the location of the sewing machines, I stepped around her and headed down a dark, claustrophobically narrow hallway towards the bedroom. Before I achieved my destination, however, I was roughly jostled aside by none other than Bootsie herself, who burst into the room like an avenging Valkyrie and stormed across the tiny patch of open space and frantically searched the two machines for their tags. As I expected, someone else had made it to the machines before I did, so I turned and began to thread my way back up that horrid little hallway, only to be bashed aside by Bootsie yet again as she crashed her way back towards the main rooms. As I finally emerged from the hall…being a congenitally polite person, I excused myself and apologized to each person going the opposite direction with whose body I was forced to make relatively intimate contact as we squeezed past one another…I heard an altercation going on in the kitchen. A brief glance revealed Bootsie verbally assaulting a slightly-built coloured woman, Bootsie screaming something to the effect “I sat out there for and hour-and-a-half! I was first in the queue!” and the other woman muttering responses I couldn’t quite make out. I hunted up Hubby, who was out on a balcony that looked to be bigger than the flat itself, and indicated I was ready to leave. The machines were gone, the flat was entirely too crowded, and the “good stuff” had obviously been retained by the owners…there was nothing more of interest in the dingy, suffocating little box.

As we made out way out the door, Bootsie was continuing her tirade at the unfortunate woman in the kitchen. It turns out her invective was directed at the person who had collected the tickets on the sewing machine and overlocker. Because the lady with the tags had been further back in the outside queue, Bootsie seemed to be convinced that the woman was unfairly in possession of the tags for those items, and was intent on browbeating her into surrendering them! She was apparently labouring under the misconception that being early in the queue bought her some kind of privilege, perhaps that she had first (or, in her case, second) pick of items for sale.
Hubby and I exited the sale and headed towards the lift. From behind we could hear the voice of the sale manager entering the fray and next thing we knew, Bootsie and her husband were hurrying onto the lift with us. She put her face in her hands and literally wept at what she perceived to be the unfairness of the queue-jumping being allowed to retain the tags…to which I felt compelled to comment “I’ve been to several of these things and my experience is that your position in the queue means nothing once the doors open.” She looked at me incredulously, then put her face back in her hands, hurrying off the lift without a single word.

Naturally, Bootsie’s conduct was the topic of conversation once Hubby and I got into our car. I had thought her officiousness at informing all the newcomers as to their place in the queue to be a bit odd, but I have learned over my years here that many of the white folk in this country are uncommonly bossy and imperious, even to complete strangers. (Example: instead of telling you that you should try something (advisory), they will tell you that you must do something (imperative)…and not in that Sex in the City “oh, darling, you simply must try this divine citronella daiquiri” way, but in a manner that is clearly commanding.) Once the whole scene had played out, it was clear that her bossy directives…and her announcements of her own place in the queue…were for the express purpose of securing an early enough entry to get to those machines. How she planned to circumvent Silver-and-Blue-Crystal-Earrings was not clear, but by the time she got into the wrangle in the kitchen, Bootsie had clearly forgotten that she was second in the queue, not first.

Her rudeness at shoving people aside, moi included, surprised me. Although the sales tend to be a bit of a free-for-all, the previous ones I attended had been at least moderately civilized affairs, people saying “excuse me,” and treating each other politely when the desired items had already been taken. This was my first encounter of someone developing a sense of entitlement and then, when thwarted, throwing a public tantrum. I was embarrassed for the woman, even if she didn’t have the good manners to be embarrassed for herself.

Considering my experience with the conduct of buyers at other sales, I would have to say her conduct was nothing short of outrageous. First, there was her presumptuousness at trying to control the buyers as they arrived to wait for the doors to open. Then, her incredible rudeness in literally, physically, shoving people aside in order to get past them. Next, her unbelievable chutzpah at accosting the tag-holder and demanding that she relinquish the tags, based on nothing more than their relative places in the crowd outside the door before the doors were opened. And finally, there was her public weeping and obvious sense of feeling ill-used because she didn’t get her own way.

Somewhere along the line she failed to take note of the fact that she was not the person in control of the sale. She could invent any rules she wanted, of course, but none of us were obliged to abide by them, only by the rules established by the managers of the sales. And when they opened the doors and gave us the spiel, there was no mention of keeping our original places in the queue and proceeding in an orderly fashion.

And that was as it should be. The purpose of these sales is to sell the goods and each potential buyer, whether he arrived first or last, needs to have a feeling that he has a chance at getting the good stuff. If you arrive last in a queue of fifty people and you know that you will therefore be the fiftieth person admitted through the door, will you stay for the sale? Likely not. But if you know that when the doors open, there will be a crush and some confusion, that you might be able to work your way into being the fifth or tenth in the door, then you feel you have some chance at getting the items you want. Why would the managers of the sale want to discourage potential buyers by guaranteeing only the very first people in the queue had a chance as getting their hands on the choice bits of merchandise? What a brilliant formula for ensuring very short queues and poor sales!

We are very much hoping that Bootsie was so disappointed at this sale that she doesn’t return. We heard the sale manager speak to her and just seconds later she was hurrying to the lift, so we suspect that she was invited to leave. Hopefully, she was invited to not attend any more sales. Should this kind of skirmish become commonplace, you can be sure that buyers will think twice about attending: the beauty of the sales is that once a tag is in your hand, the item is yours.
Hubby was as appalled at her behaviour as I was, but with typical Indian aplomb he simply wrote it off to swift karma. Her attempts to advantage herself at the expense of others was immediately rewarded by her failure to secure the goods she desired. But something tells me that, rather than take a lesson about acceptable conduct from her experience, she will enshrine the event as one more example the “ills” of the new South Africa.