Bjorn Against's Journal
Member since: Mon May 22, 2006, 07:07 PM
Number of posts: 10,837
Number of posts: 10,837
I have not been posting much recently but I needed to say something about the Hobby Lobby case because I think there is a huge elephant in the room that the media coverage of the case seems to be avoiding.
All five of the "justices" who voted in Hobby Lobby's favor are members of the Roman Catholic Church which is a church that is well known for opposing insurance coverage for contraceptives. All five of them voted for their church's position, but they explicitly excluded the religious beliefs of faiths other than their own from having the same "religious freedom" they claim Hobby Lobby should be able to impose on their employees.
The Supreme Court explicitly said that this ruling is limited to the issue of contraceptives and does not apply to other medical treatments that some other religions oppose such as blood transfusions and vaccines. Now don't get me wrong I absolutely do not think employers should get exemptions from covering blood transfusions or vaccines, like birth control those are basic forms of health care that everyone should have access to. What I do have a problem with is that the Supreme Court decided it can pick and choose which religious beliefs can get their followers exemptions from providing health care to their employees and which ones can not, and it just so happens that they chose their own religious belief as one whose followers do not have to follow the same rules that everyone else has to follow.
This is something that I think needs to be called out, when a major Supreme Court ruling on religion is decided entirely by members of one religion that is a problem. When their ruling provides protections for their own religious belief while explicitly excluding the same protection for beliefs that they do not hold that is an even bigger problem yet. It is extremely dangerous to our democracy to have five unelected men who have the power to make decisions that can alter the course of history, these are men who have the power to make a decision that benefits their personal religion over other beliefs be they religious or secular and there is little we can do to hold them accountable for making such a blatantly biased decision.
Let's face it, the Supreme Court is an undemocratic institution and by using the courts to carve out a special exemption for people who share their religious views in opposition to contraception they have shown their contempt for equal protection under the law. I really think people need to start talking about removing these guys from the bench, there is no reason these people should be free from calls for accountability when they use the court to allow them to impose their own religious views on to others.
Posted by Bjorn Against | Mon Jun 30, 2014, 10:25 PM (70 replies)
As a person who has a brother with schizophrenia I want to thank all the people on this site who have spoken out against those who are scapegoating the mentally ill. People with mental health issues and their families go through enormous challenges and face a great deal of stigma from the public and I know I am not alone when I say that I greatly appreciate those who are willing to stand up for the rights of those who suffer from a mental illness.
Those of you who have seen my other threads know that there are a few people here who have really upset me, I have told those people to fuck off and that is really all I feel I need to say to them. I am sick of debating an issue that I don't think should be up for debate. The vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent, the very suggestion that they should be able to be locked away when they have committed no crime on the basis of their disability is offensive to me and I will not pretend it is an acceptable position in any way.
I am logging off DU now because after seeing so much bigotry against the mentally ill on here tonight I really don't feel welcome here right now. I do recognize that many of you have attempted to stand up for people like my brother however and I wanted to make sure you know that I appreciate your efforts. I will probably be back some day but I need a break from the bigots.
Best wishes to all those who are fighting the good fight.
Posted by Bjorn Against | Mon May 26, 2014, 01:30 AM (13 replies)
Many people on this site have family who is mentally ill, or they may even be mentally ill themselves. They are good people who just want to live a decent life without facing stigma because of their disability.
I have a brother with schizophrenia and when I see people on what is supposed to be a progressive website suggest we should lock up mentally ill people who have committed no crime I see it as a direct attack on my family. I am not going to sugarcoat what I think of the people who are suggesting we lock up people based on their disability, they are bigots and each and every one of them can fuck off.
People can tell me I need to calm down, but when my family is under attack I am not going to calm down, I am pissed and I have damn good reason to be pissed. I am sick to death of the idea that a bigot's opinion should be respected and that we should debate them on the issues rather than just telling them to fuck off. I will debate people who have differences of opinion on a number of issues, but I am not going to pretend that locking up mentally ill people like my brother who have committed no crime is an opinion that deserves even an ounce of respect. If you take the position that someone should be able to order my brother locked away based on nothing more than his disability then I feel no shame in calling you a bigot and telling you to fuck off, someone who would harm my family like that does not deserve my respect.
Rodger Elliott was just one person among millions that have mental health problems, let's not pretend that it would only be people like him that would be locked away if the people who are advocating locking away the mentally ill got their way. When you lock away huge numbers of people who have committed no crime you may prevent a shooting somewhere, but you will also have taken away the freedom of many other people who have committed no crime other than to have a disability.
I do need to take a moment to acknowledge one group of people that does deserve respect, and that is the people who are making honest efforts to improve the lives of the mentally ill. When a person sees a tragedy involving mental illness and becomes motivated to work to improve mental health services without scapegoating anyone they deserve thanks from all of us.
Those who do scapegoat the mentally ill and produce more stigma against people like my brother however, well I am not going to apologize for telling them to fuck off. Stigmatizing the mentally ill harms my family a hell of a lot more than my telling a bigot to fuck off harms that bigot. If people decide to hide my posts while letting bigotry against people like my brother stand then so be it, I am sick of seeing bigotry against the mentally ill and I am not going to feel like I need to sugarcoat my language to avoid offending the people who are attacking my family.
Posted by Bjorn Against | Sun May 25, 2014, 11:04 PM (104 replies)
The vast majority of mentally ill people are not violent, and the vast majority of violent crimes are committed by people who are not mentally ill. Yet it seems that every time a mentally ill person does commit an act of violence people like my brother take the blame even though they would never do something like what the shooter did.
It seems that people are desperate to find something to blame besides guns and so they scapegoat a minority group and ask us what to do with that minority group. I have heard many people call for the mentally ill to be locked up even when they have not committed a single crime, it is disgusting to call for people who have done nothing wrong to be locked away because of their disability.
The problem is not mental illness, the problem is that there are a lot of people who are totally incompetent to own guns that are being allowed to purchase them and most of these people are not mentally ill. I have seen far too many people who seem to think it is acceptable to use guns to solve their problems and insist that people like George Zimmerman should be allowed to follow people in the dark and then shoot them, I see far too many people defending those who leave their guns unsecured before a child grabs them, I see far too many people who believe they are allowed to shoot someone over minor property crimes and call it self defense, most of these people are not mentally ill but they are people who should not own deadly weapons.
It is these very people whose tough talk about how they need to be heavily armed that are the very first to attack the mentally ill when a mass shooting happens. I don't ever hear these people advocate to help people with mental illness to get access to health care or social services, it is always about blaming the mental illness and then going back to advocating for their guns. If the NRA really cared about helping the mentally ill they would be lobbying to ensure that the mentally ill are able to get free access to health care, instead they just cast the blame on the mentally ill and then leave them to fend for themselves. They do work to ensure that their members have the right to shoot any mentally ill person who gets confused and walks onto their property even if that person was not threatening violence in any way however.
Those who are honestly working to help the mentally ill and advocating for better health care and social services, I salute them. Those who use the mentally ill as scapegoats to turn attention away from the problem of gun violence on the other hand are bigots, and as the brother of a person with a severe mental illness I would like to kindly ask the bigots who blame people like my brother to fuck off.
Posted by Bjorn Against | Sun May 25, 2014, 07:34 PM (135 replies)
It has long been the claim of pundits that in order for the Democrats to win votes they need to move to the "center", politicians who in years past identified as DLC and today identify as Blue Dogs or Third Way like to say they represent this center but do they?
No they do not.
It is true that many voters identify as centrists or moderates, but when they say they are moderates they are not saying they want a government run by people who take money from big corporations. They are not saying they want to cut regulations on big business. They are not saying that the Democrats need to move to the right. They are not cheering the TPP or dismissing NSA spying.
The truth is that most people who call themselves moderates are not all that political, they are not the Joe Lieberman type of idealogues who view everyone to the left of them as the extremists pundits would like to pretend they are.
Generally the moderates among the general population are not all that political but they do share some common values with those of us who are. They want decent wages, they want business to treat them fairly and they want government to ensure those businesses do not rip them off, they want access to health care without destroying their budget, they want clean water to drink and clean air to breathe, they want good public schools to send their kids to, they want their roads kept in good maintenance, while they are not all that political they do want a lot of the same things that progressives want.
Every election we are told we need to move right to capture these moderate voters, but we don't need to move right to win their votes we simply need to communicate our common ground with them because there is a ton of common ground. In fact I am convinced that progressives have far more common ground with the moderate voter than Third Way politicians do, moderate voters care more about the day to day problems they see in society than they do about the crap being pushed by corporate funded politicians.
The people who call themselves moderates in national polls are usually a lot different than the politicians in Washington who call themselves moderates, we need to stop allowing the pundits to pretend that moderate voters won't vote for Democrats unless they move to the right.
Posted by Bjorn Against | Sat Apr 26, 2014, 09:37 AM (12 replies)
Tonight I went to attend a speech on the civil rights struggle in America, ironically that speech was delivered by a woman who is directly responsible for some of the worst civil rights abuses in American history. Condoleeza Rice was paid $150,000 to give a short speech pretending that she was a civil rights leader so a few friends and I decided that we needed to have people in the crowd to remind people of the civil rights violations that Condoleeza and the Bush Administration are responsible for.
That is why we decided to attend Condoleeza's speech wearing orange jumpsuits and black hoods. There was no photography allowed in the auditorium, but we managed to sneak in an opportunity to snap a somewhat blurry picture.
I thought I would probably be kicked out of the auditorium before I even made it to my seat, but security gave us a brief warning at the door that they would not tolerate disruptions and then let us move towards our seat. We did get stopped by another security officer who said we could not wear our hoods because of post 9/11 security policies and they told us if we covered our face we would get kicked out. We removed our hoods until we made it to our seats, but then we put them back on and security did not ever confront us about it again.
When Condoleeza Rice took the stage we stood up and turned our backs to her while others were applauding, we then sat down to listen to her try to pretend she is a liberal. While she did open up her speech with a major lie in which she claimed the 9/11 hijackers were from Afghanistan when in reality they were actually from Saudi Arabia, I shook my head in disgust. She quickly moved away from foreign policy however, in fact I don't think the word "Iraq" even escaped her lips, no instead she spoke about civil rights and education. She talked about growing up as a black girl in the South and addressed the issue of racism. There was actually not much to disagree with her on in this area, she was saying some things that actually sounded fairly progressive and if people did not know her real record they probably would have been very moved by her speech.
She did not talk about all the children who were killed by the bombs that were dropped on Iraq, she did not talk about the people her administration tortured, she did briefly mention the Black Sites but tried to pretend that she never supported them, she ignored the numerous civil rights violations of the administration she worked for and instead tried to portray herself as a civil rights activist rather than a civil rights violator.
Condi is a very good speaker that can make herself look really well on stage, but she is also a huge fraud that tries to pretend she is a much better person than she actually is. This speech was clearly intended to make her look a lot more moderate, it convinced me that she wants to seek political office in the future because she was clearly making an effort to move towards the center and even reach out to liberals. She is a very dangerous person and I hope that if she does run for office people remember her real record, she is no civil rights leader, she is a war criminal.
Posted by Bjorn Against | Thu Apr 17, 2014, 11:30 PM (139 replies)
We hear a lot from the "pragmatists" about the importance of accepting political reality, because the pragmatists like to talk about reality so much I think it is fair to take a look at whether or not they truly have a grasp on the reality they like to insist they are in touch with.
I remember the lead up to the Iraq War and I remember watching the pragmatists rallying behind Bush to show bi-partisan support for the war. Many of us in the progressive community loudly objected to the rush to war, but we were dismissed as the "far left" and our love for our country was called into question. Those of us who did not believe the administration's claims on WMD's were dismissed as conspiracy theorists, while the so-called pragmatists insisted that the Bush Administration's case for war was rock solid.
Well it turned out the pragmatists were not so pragmatic after all and they helped Bush in creating what may well be the worst foreign policy disaster in American history. Thousands of Americans dead, hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis, trillions of dollars in depleted treasury, and our nation's reputation in tatters. That is what the policy that the "pragmatists" told us we should support gave us.
Then there is the issue of marriage equality. Just a few short years ago the pragmatists called support for gay marriage a far-left extremist position, they insisted that advocating for such a thing would guarantee the Republicans election victories for years to come. Well it turned out that support for gay marriage was not as extreme a position as the pragmatists insisted it was and now gay marriage is legal in a number of states and it is looking more and more likely that it will be legal across the nation.
Then there is the issue of marijuana legalization, just a few years ago those of us who talked about this were often ridiculed by the pragmatists who insisted that promoting legalization would not only make us all look like pot heads but also create a society filled with mass drug addiction and higher crime rates. Well guess what? Two states have now legalized pot and the massive problems that were predicted never came to pass, now people across the nation are saying they want legalization in their states as well. Once again, the pragmatist policy proved to be not nearly as pragmatic as they thought it was.
There are a number of other "far left" positions that the so-called pragmatists tell us that are not realistic to push for. They tell us single payer health care is not realistic despite the fact that many other countries have adopted it and most Americans want it. They tell us that fighting back against the extremists in the NRA is not realistic because it will cost us votes despite the fact that in the last election candidates with F ratings from the NRA outperformed candidates with A ratings. They tell us that calling for an end to NSA spying is not realistic despite the fact that most Americans value their privacy. I call bullshit to all of it, the arrogance of the so-called "realists" in continuing to pretend they have a better grasp on reality than the rest of us despite the fact that they are wrong so often needs to be called out.
The pragmatists are not nearly as pragmatic nor as realistic as they claim to be, it is time to stand up for what is right and stop letting people who have been wrong so many times tell us what is and is not realistic.
Posted by Bjorn Against | Tue Apr 1, 2014, 08:30 PM (121 replies)
I am a man and I must admit that I really don't understand women very well. I hear a lot of men say they understand women, but the reality is that none of us really understand women because none of us have ever walked a day in their shoes.
When I first saw the swimsuit issue posted here I was not upset about it at all, in fact I fully admit I found the women on the cover attractive. I did not necessarily think it belonged in GD, but I was certainly not bothered by it. I looked at it found it attractive, but still had to shake my head a bit at the oogling over it downthread. I was not upset about about the image at all, these sorts of images are everywhere and I did not think much of it.
But then something happened; I saw women trying to express their views on the photo and I saw the way they were treated for expressing those views. I may not understand women, but I am not completely ignorant either, I know that this country does have an ugly history of misogyny and I saw far too many misogynistic comments posted in response to the swimsuit photo.
I may not understand women and it is difficult to put myself in their shoes. It is difficult for me to imagine that my Great Grandmother would not have even been legally able to vote when she turned of age. I can not imagine what it would be like to be a women with an unwanted pregnancy in the 1950's where the only option for an abortion was a guy with a coat hanger in a back alley. I can not imagine what it would be like to be a housewife living with an abusive husband who controlled her with violence. I can not understand any of this, all I can understand is what it is like to be a man.
As much as some people try to tell me that misandry is just as big of a problem as misogyny, I am looking over my entire life and I just can't think of a time that I faced any sort of oppression because I am male. I may have been called a gendered insult like "Dick" before, but I can't say it really damaged me in any way. I suspect the women who had "Bitch!!!" screamed at her right before she was beaten and raped suffered far worse than I did when I was called a dick.
My fellow men, we may not understand women but we need to try harder to do so. We need to understand that a number of the women objecting to these photos being posted are likely rape victims. I don't know which DUers are victims of rape, I don't know which ones have a mother or daughter who was raped, but I do know that they are here because the stats show us just how many women have been victims of sexual assault. Victims of sexual violence are a part of our community and we need to respect them.
We need to understand that someone who was the victim of a sexual assault may have a very different reaction to a sexualized photo than you or I, they may have been raped by someone who shoved pictures like that in their face. Now you may say that the picture did not cause the rape, and maybe you are right but that does not mean that the woman does not have a valid reason to be seriously bothered by the image.
You may try and dismiss this as a "personal issue", but the fact is when millions of rape victims across the nation have these "personal issues" it is not really a personal issue it is an issue with our society.
If you want to go look at the swimsuit issue go ahead, but when you do so do it in a way that is respectful to others. If others tell you they don't want to see it there is absolutely no reason to show it to them, be respectful of others and recognize that women may have valid reasons for being upset that us men are really unable to fully comprehend.
Do what you want in the privacy of your home, but let's have some basic respect for the women of this site.
Posted by Bjorn Against | Mon Feb 24, 2014, 09:50 PM (510 replies)
After what I have seen the last couple of weeks however I realize that you were all right, there really is an extreme level of disrespect towards women coming from a few people on this site and it sickens me that they are being allowed to get by with it.
I tried to stand up for you and was told I have "personal issues" because I viewed the swimsuit issue cover as a sexual image. I even made it clear that I do not have a problem with people viewing sexual images on their own time, but I do have a problem with pushing these images on people who do not want to see them. If I were to send such an image to a female co-worker I would be fired for sexual harrassment and rightfully so, if it is considered sexual harrassment outside of DU then I don't see why it should not be considered sexual harrassment here.
I used to think that some of the members of this group took things way too far, but now I understand that I was wrong. There really are blatant misogynists on this site who seem to take pleasure in pushing you around, sometimes they may push you over the line and you may react in a way I might find abrasive but I am sure I would act just as abrasive if they treated me the same way they treat you.
At first I thought the problem was coming from both sides, but now I realize that one side has been far worse than the other and we can not pretend that both sides are just as bad because they are clearly not. I should have seen it earlier because I do understand the history of patriarchy and the mistreatment of women in our nation's history, but I wanted to believe that DU was better than that. It turns out there are some on this site that truly are misogynist pigs however, and it is about time that the handful of people who are really pushing this crap are banned.
I am a man and as a man I may not always have a true understanding of the problems women in our society face, but I do make an effort to try to understand and to treat women with respect. We may not always agree on everything, but please know that you have my back on this. I am sick of watching the women on this site be disrespected, it is time to do something about the misogynists here.
I apologize for not recognizing this earlier, I should have listened better when you tried to bring it to my attention in the past. You were right then and you are right now, women are being horribly mistreated and it is time to shut down the Men's Group and make it clear the behavior we have seen from that group and their allies will no longer be tolerated. I may be a man myself, but the Men's Group is not inclusive of men like me or many of the other men on this site who believe women should be respected. If people can't handle treating women with respect then they do not belong on this site. Period.
Posted by Bjorn Against | Sun Feb 23, 2014, 08:20 AM (248 replies)
The PC game "Gone Home" was released this past summer to rave reviews and as we reach the end of the year it is racking up award nominations from numerous gaming publications. While the game has received a great deal of critical acclaim, if you read most of the reviews you will probably never actually learn what the game is about. All the gaming publications have been very quiet about the actual theme of the game which means a lot of people who play it have no clue what they are getting when they start playing it, but what they will end up getting is a very powerful progressive message.
Most of the reviews that I have seen do not tell you what I am about to say so if you want to play the game and go in not knowing what they are getting they should stop reading right now and go download the game which is currently on sale here.
For those who are still reading I am still not going to give away too much because this is a game that is purposely shrouded in mystery and I don't want to spoil the experience. What I will tell you however is that gay rights play a very important part in the game, much of the plot focuses on the struggles faced by a lesbian character to find acceptance. While none of the critics are talking about the gay rights angle of the game, make no mistake about it that it is the gay rights theme and how that theme was presented artistically that earned this game so much acclaim.
There is no way a homophobe could possibly like this game because gay rights are such a key focus, but no doubt many homophobes will play it because so few people in the press are talking about what the game is about. In a sense I am glad they are not talking about it because there is way too much homophobia among certain segments of the gaming community who would never even consider playing a game like this if they knew what it was about. I am sure thousands of homophobes have played this game already expecting to get a creepy adventure/horror game and ended up experiencing a story of the struggles faced by those they have been discriminating against.
I struggled to decide whether or not to even post this because the gay themes of this game have been kept so secret and I did not want to feel like I was publishing a major spoiler, but don't fear because there are tons of details I have not told you so there are still plenty of surprises in the game for you. I felt that there are a lot of people who would benefit from knowing what this game was about however as I am sure there are many people who don't usually play games and would not otherwise think of checking something like this out for themselves if they did not know about the message the game contains. It is a short game that only takes about two hours to complete and is meant to be played in a single sitting. It does not require fast reflexes, there is no shooting guns or blowing things up or anything of that sort, it is entirely story based and can easily be played by anyone with even basic keyboard and mouse skills. Don't worry if you are not good at computer games because this is more a piece of art than it is a game and there is really no way you can lose as you can't die in the game.
I think it is great to see games being used as an artistic medium to make a progressive statement, hopefully the acclaim this game has received will inspire more like it.
Posted by Bjorn Against | Fri Dec 27, 2013, 09:28 PM (1 replies)