May 23, 2019

Pro-Choice Men Can Help in Abortion Fight

throwing a punch

In a recent post about abortion being a church-state issue, I mentioned that I find it puzzling that some pro-choice women seem to want men, including those of us who are pro-choice, to stay out of the abortion debate. Writing in The Guardian, Gaby Hinsliff expressed similar sentiments: "Yet the argument that men should all shut up and leave this to women is a risky one, unless we seek a world where virulently pro-life men still feel no shame about barging in while pro-choice men hang back for fear of saying the wrong thing."

I agree with her, and I am glad to see more people expressing these views. Men are not affected by anti-abortion laws in the same ways as women, but that does not mean that we are not still affected. I think that most pro-choice men recognize how important it is to maintain the right to safe and legal abortion, provide evidence-based sex education, and make sure that effective contraception remains accessible to everyone who wants it. I also suspect that many pro-choice men would like to help repel the seemingly endless attacks on these rights.

May 22, 2019

Bertrand Russell Showed Me I Was Not Alone

used book store

I have written many posts over the years about how one of the most important early milestones on my journal to atheism was finding Bertrand Russell's Why I Am Not a Christian: And Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects in a used book store. This has been on my mind recently because May 18 (1872) was Russell's birthday, and he has been receiving some attention on social media because of that. Since I have been thinking about that book, I thought I might try to provide a brief explanation of what made it so helpful to me all those years ago.

I was early in what would be a slow process of transitioning from believing Christian to atheist when I came across Russell's book. I had never heard of him, and I bought the book based on the title alone. I had little idea what to expect. I was struggling with the growing recognition that I no longer believed in gods, and I thought it might be relevant. I had had little idea what atheism meant, and I certainly did not consider myself an atheist. I knew what being a Christian meant, and it had never occurred to me that not being one was an option.

May 20, 2019

Establishment Candidates vs. Progressives

question mark

As you may remember, Democrats were presented with two viable choices in the run-up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election. First, we had Hillary Clinton, anointed by the mainstream news media as "the presumptive nominee" and "the first female president" well before we knew which other candidates might be running. Second, we had Bernie Sanders, a clear underdog candidate who would go on to generate more enthusiasm among the youth than anyone expected despite what would eventually be recognized as what amounted to sabotage by the Democratic Party.

Clinton was the establishment candidate who had strong support among older voters who were more interested in holding on to what they had than revolution. Sanders was the revolutionary and the clear choice among younger more progressive voters seeking more radical change. Clinton won the primary, at least in part, because older voters are far more likely to vote than younger voters. And yes, I am sure it helped that the Democratic Party and most of the mainstream news media made no secret of favoring her.

May 19, 2019

Wrestling Jesus

professional wrestling

Even as a child, I am not sure I ever believed that professional wrestling was real (i.e., unscripted without predetermined outcomes). I do remember wanting it to be real and being uncertain whether it might be real, but I do not recall believing that it was. I found it curious how obviously strong men who threw "punches" at one another never seemed to hurt their hands. When I punched someone, it almost always hurt my hand. I couldn't help noticing how a series of "punches" that looked like they were landing rarely resulted in facial swelling, cuts, or bruises on the faces of those being hit. This hadn't been the case when I'd been hit or had hit someone else. I also remember my dad and one of his friends telling me it wasn't real repeatedly. It really seemed to concern them that I might confuse professional wrestling with an actual sport.

I remember my best friend going to see one of the professional wrestling events in what was then called the World Wrestling Federation (before they were sued over the WWF acronym). He was so excited to get to see it live but came back disappointed. He told me that any doubt he ever might have had about professional wrestling being real evaporated that day. He'd observed "punches" that stopped 2-3 inches from the target's face and to which the target acted like he'd been hit. He'd observed wrestlers clearly communicating with one another during the match. He'd observed too many instances where the scripting was obvious.

May 17, 2019

Abortion is a Church-State Issue

angry woman

While scrolling through my Twitter timeline the other day, I came across a tweet from Americans United for Separation of Church and State that caught my attention. It contained a simple message about how abortion was a church-state issue. It hit me a few seconds after reading it that this was not something I'd previously realized even though it seemed so obvious. The debate around abortion and reproductive rights has centered on the fact that religious conservatives want to take rights away from women based on their religious beliefs. They elect religious conservatives who will use their power to strip women of their rights through some combination of banning abortion and reducing access. And what we end up with is a clear violation of the separation of church and state.

It matters little that there are some nonreligious people who oppose reproductive freedom; almost all of the most vocal opponents tell us that they are motivated to restrict rights by their religious beliefs. Perhaps we should listen to them and consider the possibility that they are aware of their own motives. Many people who were raised in conservative Catholic or fundamentalist Protestant families and left these traditions behind will be happy to explain that the opposition to abortion with which they grew up was rooted in religious beliefs. Maybe those of us who did not grow up in these environments can learn from those who did.