Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Don't Worry, These Rulese Are Here To Protect You...

Right here in VSS's backyard of Harrisburg, PA, comes the latest example of why we should simply trust our government to protect us with the raft of new laws and regulations which came about in the GWB administration's GWOT. You know, the new reality and so forth.

(One day, historians will analyze why the world became a different place on 9/11/01, when almost every other free nation on the planet had been dealing with "terrorism" for many decades...)

Erich Scherfen, age 37, born and raised in New Jersey, Gulf War veteran, commercial pilot...and suspected terrorist.

That's a fair interpretation of the government's opinion of you if you are on the HSA terrorits watch list, isn't it? If you are on the watch list, they suspect you of something related to GWOT. Right?

Otherwise, the list might be considered arbitrary and perhaps improperly influenced.

And of course, the government won't tell us how names get on the list, or even if a particular name is on the list. For our own protection, of course.

So how did
Erich Scherfen come to find out he was on the list? When his employer suspended him - for being on the list.

Scherfen converted to Islam in 1994. His wife was born in Pakistan. The government says that religious (as well as political) affiliation do not get a person placed on the list.

That leaves the Pakistani wife. The government will not comment on what the reason is.

Scherfen is nearly out of a job and a career, and nobody will tell him why.

We just thought you ought to know.

From the AP, via the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

This Is The Real Terror...

I have never been a big fan of the phrase "War On Terror", which I believe misues both terms. However, it cannot be denied that there is a terror in the world, and it is religious intolerance and ignorance. In other words, it is the use of religion to scare people to act in ways that are not in their best interest, through fear, coercion and outright abuse.

Never has this been made more vivid to me than in an AP story posted today on Yahoo.

Read it and see for yourself.

Child beggar's father fights abusive teacher

I am stunned and somewhat hopeful that the boy's father dared to bring charges. In his culture he has committed a sacrilege, but at least it was at the behest of the police.

Still, a long-standing "tradition" is being threatened, and as a result they are blaming "the west". I'm not entirely sure what their view of "the west" is, but it should at least occur to them that "the west" has the resource to set up a presence in Senegal, and the dignity to fight for the rights of children to be free from such insane abuse.

This, indeed, is the real "long war", this fight to separate religion from any sort of official doctrine determining the way people live. Humans must be free to choose their own religion - or no religion at all - and to be free from abuse based on that choice.

What's particularly coercive about this practice, as revealed in the AP article, is that the family receives food in exchange for sending their son to the religious school. So, the choice becomes: send my son to school like every other family does, and receive food so the rest of us can eat...or...or what, exactly? Where would a family stand in the social order if they directly opposed this practice? What abuse would be heaped upon all of them?

For all that the United States - and the west in general - gets wrong in international affairs, at least we live in a place where these choices are ours to make, and where such abuse would be unthinkable. At least I do not live in fear that I will be jailed for writing this blog. That's a big deal. Every day in some country where religious leaders rule, somebody gets carted off to jail for daring to suggest that there are some things wrong with the practice, for daring to suggest that perhaps people ought to be free to express themselves, ought to be free to challenge doctrine and question authority, ought to be free to organize and assemble with like-minded people.

It goes without saying that we live under such freedoms in the U.S., and while I refuse to be "thankful" that I am "allowed" to be free (which is, after all, my birthright), I am at least appreciative that fate saw to it that I was born here, where I do not live in the fear that those rights do not exist, or that they can be taken from me suddenly and for the flimsiest of reasons.

I am grateful for that.