The Ethnocentric Impacts of Metastasized Ignorance

November 14, 2011

This blog entry is simply the conversation threads leading from a public post on Google+ from Timothy Larkin. The discussion is rather lengthy (4000+ words), however, I think it is a fascinating look into the thoughts and opinions of a person who has over-consumed anti-Muslim extreme-right propaganda to the extent that he is unable to make rational arguments. A little sad, a little scary and a little depressing.

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Begin Google+ post – original link here (assuming it hasn’t been deleted): https://plus.google.com/u/0/102631351958472018979/posts/C6wXvcgV3VJ

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Timothy Larkin  –  Yesterday 7:33 PM  –  Public

Charlie Soeh originally shared this post:

A buddy share this with us!!!please share this if have the courage

youtube.com – Watch this video about the shocking similarites between Muslim and Nazi beliefs. Listen to a former Palestinian terrorist. What is being taught to Muslim…

–  Comment  –  Share  –  Share on …

+1

15 comments

Richard Cosgrove  –  Ah, the irony of a film putting forward evidence a religion is demonising another religion being used to demonise the religion accused of doing the demonising.

The public has to learn to that there is a difference between Muslims in general and those who promote and support terrorism, otherwise the hatred will continue to spread and problems of terrorism will continue.

Claiming that all Muslims support terrorism is the same as claiming all Christians support terrorism because of the actions of the Klu Klux Klan, the Army of God, Anders Behring Breivik and terrorist groups in Northern Ireland, all of who identify themselves as being Christians and/or doing the work of God.

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Yesterday7:46 PM

+5

Timothy Larkin  –  +Richard Cosgrove It is not the same. Islam is unique in that it really is not a religion, but a political movement led by Muhammed. Sharia Law is a code for the State which is strictly political. Muhammed is a man that killed 600 enemies with his own hands. Also unique is that Islam allows men to lie to their enemies and their wives. Their is also “abrogation” where the last thing in the Quran trumps anything said before it. That last thing is the “Sword of the Verse”. People who don’t worship Allah, will either be killed or made into slaves.

To recap:

Christians follow Christ who never killed anyone, and he says to love our enemies.

Muslims follow Muhammed who killed 600 people, and says to kill or enslave his enemies.

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Yesterday7:58 PM

Marva Dasef  –  Tim: Islam is definitely a religion. That doesn’t make it good. Matter of fact, I’d say that anything defined as religion is a definite negative. All I’m saying is that there’s no need to differentiate. Fanaticism is the same whatever the base ideology is. Nazis, fundamentalist Christians, right-wing Muslims. Same, same, same. I doubt that Mohammad killed 600 enemies. That’s just PR to make him ‘cool’ in the eyes of the followers. Quit being prejudiced against Muslims. Every religion propagates hatred. You’ll get the same crapoloa from every one of them.

Yesterday8:13 PM

+3

Anna Peeples  –  pro tip: everything that sucks about muslims has a christian analogue

Yesterday8:29 PM

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Richard Cosgrove  –  The Koran and Muhammed also taught the following:

Muslims may only engage in war for the reasons of self-defence or to fight oppression.
When engaged in a war a Muslim army must agree to any request to surrender given by any opponent.
The Muslim army must accept any terms of surrender no matter how disadvantageous or punitive they may be.
All followers of ‘revealed religions’ – including Hinduism, Judaism and Christianity – are to be given equal rights as Muslims and treated with the same respect.
Jews and Christians worship the same God as Muslims – “Allah” is simply Arabic for “God”.
Murder is not permitted by Muslims.
All people should be free to follow their believes freely and without interference by the state – Muhammed put this into practice when he founded his city state of Medina
No person can be forced to become a Muslim
Women have the right to marry, divorce and to property – Muhammed introduced woman’s suffrage over 1,000 years before the West managed it
All Muslims are required to seek out knowledge and understand the world around them – it is demanded that all Muslims receive an education. Much of the theories and knowledge that underpin science today comes from research done by Islamic scholars, and their work preserving and codifying the knowledge of previous civilisations since the Ancient Greeks.

Muhammed did order the execution of 600 people who had betrayed his city state of Medina to another state. He had previously forgiven the same group for treason before and had not punished them. And in the time of Muhammed such brutality was unremarkable.

The Old Testament of Christianity and the Torah of Judaism records stories of brutalities in war far in excess of those deaths. In Numbers it states that Moses ordered the Israelites to go to war against the Midianites. Moses’ followers did so and killed every man, took all of the Midianites’ possessions, enslaved their women and children, and burnt down their settlements. Upon their return Moses ordered every male child to be killed, every woman who’d had sex to be killed, but that the Israelites could keep virgin girls for themselves.

When it comes to Christians and violence you need only look at the Crusades (Crusaders were pre-forgiven their sins before invading the Holy Land, so had carte blanche to act violently), and Christian’s treatment of so-called heretics – from the witch trials, the eradication of the Cathar and Knights Templar, and the work of the Inquisition (which still exists, and the current pope used to oversee), like the execution of Urbain Grandier and events surrounding the nuns of Loudon.

Jews and Christians hold Moses up as one of the leading figures in their religions. So should they be condemned as violent because of the actions of Moses described here, if Muslims are to be condemned for violence committed by Muhammed? Or should all Christians be condemned for the actions of the crusaders?
Like all of the major religions Muslims hold major political power. The West is still ruled by laws and customs that are based on Christianity. And Christianity is still a major power in politics today. In the UK Church of England bishops sit in our Parliament’s House of Lords; the Catholic Church wields immense power in many areas of the developing world; while protestant churches churches hold enormous political power in the USA.

Sharia law is formed by the Koran – just as many aspects of Western secular law originates from the laws of Christianity and the contents of the bible. However, Sharia law is not just what is written in the Koran. It’s also taken from the Sunnah – stories of how how Muhammed acted during life; Hadith – sayings attributed to Muhammed during his life; Ijma – rulings by religious scholars (fatwas); and Qiyas – deductive reasonings based on the Hadith and Quran, used where there are gaps in rulings or contradictions.
Islam today, much like Christianity, has become corrupted by politicians and those who seek power by spreading hatred.

This world would be a safer place if people of different religions took the time to understand other religions and accept their right to follow their religious beliefs – so long as it brings no harm to other people – rather learning to hate them by reading and listening to propaganda created by those who want to divide humanity for their own ends.

And I am not a Muslim, Jew or Christian. I have no religion.

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Yesterday8:42 PM

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Richard Cosgrove  –  +Marva Dasef +Anna Peeples Far-right Muslims, Jews and Christians probably have more in common with each other than they have dividing them.

Yesterday8:44 PM

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Kirsten Crippen  –  Years ago the History Channel did a program about the connections between Islam and the Third Reich. The American far right likes to compare Obama with Hitler when the truth is that they have more in common with many of the same tactics than the current administration does.

Yesterday 9:24 PM  

Daniel Shortell  –  Sad, bigoted comments from +Timothy Larkin who clearly searches out, consumes and digests one-sided, bullshit crapumentaries, supporting opinions which crystallized in his gray matter long ago. This is the sort of shallow analysis, which unfortunately, continues to promote hatred, mistrust, ignorance and violence. You know Tim, yeah, we get it. Extremists from all walks of life have clearly forfeited their ability of rational thought for one reason or another (of which, 99.5% of the time is completely unjustified). But to simply make some big leap that all Muslims are indoctrinated by a belief system which aims to systematically destroy every non Muslim? That is ignorance of pretty epic proportions bud. How do the various Islamic factions work into your analysis? Are the Shia, Sunni, Sufi, Ahmadiyya, Berghouata, Wahhabis, Kharijites, etc all on the same page with this master plan?

I’m fascinated by your use of wikipedia-flavored ‘truth nuggets’ to ‘prove’ that you know anything about Islam (let alone the incredibly nuanced and complex political situations influencing the religion across an incredibly diverse range of people throughout the world). Tell me Tim, how many Muslims do you know personally? How many Muslim countries have you visited or even lived in? How many masjids have you attended in the world? How many kutbahs have you listened to (and out of that lengthy experience, from how many different countries were the imams giving those kutbahs from?) Ever been to a nikah? Ever participated in a kurban, or hung out with a Muslim family on Eid(al-Adha or ul-Fitr, you choose)? If you ever did complete any of the aforementioned, what percentage of the time was spent discussing anything remotely close to the destruction of all non-Muslims? Knowing a little more about the religion you are castigating may actually help you to get some perspective and enable you to develop more informed opinions.

If you are going to have any success in a career as an effective bigot, you should bring some knowledge to the table, otherwise you just sound like another ignorant American asshole (of which there are plenty and we really don’t need anymore). Perhaps you should spend more time playing your Xbox rather than attempting to act as if you are some sort of multi-cultural/religious intellectual. Or maybe I’m all wrong here and you are just playing some role to get a divisive conversation going…please confirm the latter for my sanity’s sake.

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Yesterday10:43 PM  –  Edit

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Timothy Larkin  –  +Daniel Shortell The truth is clear. Just look at the world today. Christianity is a religion of peace. Just look at America and the western world. Free and brave people who work hard and debate openly. Look at the Middle East and any country that is led by Islamic law. They live in fear. Christians and Jews are persecuted. Their media is censored. Their women can’t drive cars, or wear normal clothes. There are no innovations in that part of the world because they are not free to share ideas. They are preoccupied by Sharia Law.

Do I need to spend time in a mosque, or living among Muslims, or have a best friend as a Muslim to see these things?

If you have no faith in any religion, and you rely on your physical eyes to determine truth, you should be able to see the obvious. The U.S. was founded by the principal that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”. The U.S. is the most prosperous nation in the history of the world.

How are Iran, Syria, Pakistan, Egypt, Libya, and Lebanon doing?

Iraq and Afghanistan have had some peace in the last decade. Why? Because a country of free and brave men, with their western allies, traveled thousands of miles to kick thousands of Islamic terrorists out of their comfort zone.

This is physical evidence for those that have no faith.

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12:45 AM

Anna Peeples  –  “Christianity is a religion of peace. Just look at America and the western world. Free and brave people who work hard and debate openly.”

LOL what weirdo parallel universe do you live in?

12:53 AM

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Anna Peeples  –  oh man the US is a place of peace and love and freedom and stuff *shuts down legitimate free speech and assembly left and right* *bombs the shit out of the middle east for oil and jesus*

12:54 AM

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Daniel Shortell  –  Tim, based on your previous comment, I have a sneaking suspicion that you are simply pulling my leg, but since I enjoy a good chat, I’ll play along.

First, a good way to start a discussion based on different opinions (if you are attempting to be intellectually honest) is to avoid using platitudes such as “the truth is clear”. It is a useless mechanism which poorly attempts to legitimize an argument before any proof is provided. Not a good start.

You make broadly sweeping claims, “Christianity is a religion of peace”. By what metric do you even substantiate this? Arguments, if they are to serve any purpose, need to be based on something akin to reality.

My wife, and her extremely large family and network of friends, is from Malaysia (which is a country led by an Islamic majority). For you to say they live in fear is just, well, ignorant. Her family is Muslim, she was educated in Catholic schools and half of her friends were Hindu. This is the reason why I asked all the questions in my first post about your knowledge about anything Islam. If you were to have even just a little experiential knowledge you would have better informed opinions. If I had more time, I’d be happy to share with you similar situations for friends (and family) of mine in Indonesia, Egypt, Lebanon, and even the scariest Islamophobic country du jour…Iran! Preoccupied with Sharia? What the hell are you talking about? Yeah, the general population of Muslim countries are preoccupied with Sharia law much the same way Americans are preoccupied with digging into our state law books and case precedents.

Ok, on to the next oddity…”normal clothes” wft? Is this by your standards? Do you find my clothes odd? (I usually wear jeans and tshirts) What do you not consider normal? Burqas? Niqabs? Hijabs? Or is it all just weird crap that oppressed Islamic women are forced to wear? I think nuns wear abnormal clothes (this is irony).

Tim, please list (preferably in alphabetic order) the countries in the world where women are not permitted to drive. Also if you could state whether this is written law or merely cultural convention that would be nice.

Your use of “Their” is scaring the crap out of me. Never a good idea to just wrap billions of members of a diaspora into one blanket pronoun.

Yes, the middle east is mired in remnants of colonialism and aggressive western commercial policy which (among many other things) has contributed to their stifled innovation. I don’t see how this has anything to do with Islam. Ancient Babylon was about as innovative as they come. Progress will be made over time in the modern day mid-east…UAE, Qatar, Bahrain are good examples of innovation in technology and service. Plus, keep in mind that the most populous Islamic country is in South East Asian (always bugs me when bigots can sort out the difference between Arabic and Islamic).

Do I need to drink a glass of water to know how it tastes? Do I need to acquire knowledge about people before making broad generalizations? Yes Tim, to make rational judgments about the world around you, it is logical to think that experiential knowledge will help to shed some ethnocentric skin in addition to widening your understanding of culture, religion and the implications of so much history and politics.

I just don’t even know how to respond to your third paragraph, but I’ll try. Ok, I’ve studied and practiced numerous religions over the past 30some years, I usually rely more heavily on my physical eyes (although occasionally I will consult my third eye) to understand the environment around me, yes I agree one of the founding principles of this nation is that “all men are created equal…”, and I guess you could say the US is the most prosperous (again, what metric are you talking about?) nation in the history of the world (although historically speaking at their peaks, the British Empire, Mongol Empire, Russian Empire, Spanish Empire, Qing Dynasty, Yuan Dynasty, Umayyad Dynasty, the French, the Abbasid, the Tang and the Portuguese all had substantially larger land masses). Also, prosperity in a “free” country should probably take into account relative income inequality levels, right? because if all the prosperity was held by just a tiny majority then that would sound oligarchic or monarchic. There was a recent study performed comparing income inequality around the world…the US didn’t do so well (28th worldwide??)

Your question, “How are Iran, Syria, Pakistan….doing?” is just to massive to answer in the space of a comment. My guess is you think that all of these predominately Muslim countries problems are all caused by Islam. If yes, you should read more. You know what, no, I’m going to take a page out of your logic book and blame the Great Recession on Christianity.

Iraq and Afghanistan have had some peace in the last decade? WTF? Go tell that to anyone of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed during the war…yeah, that was a little freedom present we gave them.

I don’t even know what your last sentence means, so I’m not even going to try.

Tim, the reason I think you are pulling my leg is that your declarations have the same ring to them as Ron Burgundy’s did when I watched Anchorman :http://www.tvmoviequotes.com/anchorman/ronburgundy.htm

Care to come clean yet?

Why the hell did I stay up late to type this out.

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2:35 AM  –  Edit

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Richard Cosgrove  –  +Daniel Shortell It is illegal for women to drive in Saudi Arabia, amongst many other things they’re not permitted to do, all if it justified through Sharia law. However, Saudi Arabia is the home of Whaddhism – a sect of Islam so extreme that it has little connection with Islam, and more with Medieval Western laws and culture; and which is the theological justification used by Al-Quida.
And before anyone says it, Islam does not justify, support or permit terrorism:http://www.fatwaonterrorism.com/

+Timothy Larkin Neither Iraq nor Afghanistan have known peace for over a decade now. And they’re not close to real peace now. Both military actions, which were led by your governments previous administration, have become this century’s versions of the Vietnam conflict.
I suggest you visit mosques in your area and discuss your fears regarding Islam with the imams there. Or at least read some balanced, factual books on the subject.

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3:06 AM

Daniel Shortell  –  Wait, doh! +Richard Cosgrove, you took +Timothy Larkin‘s test for him!

3:16 AM  –  Edit

Fawad Mastoi  –  Wow Timothy, I guess you shoulda listened to your folks when they told you not to open your mouth without knowing the facts, or were you out again playing marbles during that speech?

Tell me, when you go out in the sun for a while, does that make your neck turn red? If so, would that make you a redneck? No, same with Muslims bro, just because the dude’s got a beard don’t mean the dude’s packin!

6:48 AM

Timothy Larkin  –  +Daniel Shortell That was a long response!Here’s my comments:When I say “the truth is clear”, I mean that it doesn’t take faith to determine it. An example of clear truth is comparing North Korea to South Korea. A satelite photo at night of both countries shows that North Korea has just one light at Kim Jung Il’s palace. South Korea is flooded with lights. It’s obvious that North Korea’s policies are wrong, and South Korea’s are right. Similar comparisons can be made when comparing the Christianized West to the Islamic Middle East.Christianity is a religion of peace because Christ never harmed anyone and never advocated harming anyone. The apostles and many saints followed the example of Christ and became martyrs.

Differnet countries have different attitudes. Turkey is another Muslim country that is more open and free. My expertise is in Christianity. In my studies, the Arab people have always hated Jews. In general, there has never been peace between Arab nations and Jews. Arab nations have always embraced pagan religions. I am asking, why?

Christian law is summarized as “to love God”. The only other specifics, in terms of an explicit law, are the ten commandments, of which the first is “to love God”. (The Jews had many laws, derived from the Old Testament. These laws got way out of hand. Christ condemned those complex laws by saying, “My yoke is easy”.) Compare this to Sharia Law. I assume (since I’ve never read it) that they are explicit and derive directly from the Quran, or Hadith, much in the way that the Jews had explicit laws (for example how and what you can sacrifice and the manner they are to be sacrificed).

The Great Recession is the fault of the Western nations because they are the only ones with large robust economies.

Iraq and Afghanistan have been given a great opportunity to see what men are capable of doing. You don’t have to milk mountain goats and live in caves to make a living. Men can accomplish great things. Men can live in a home with conditioned air. They also voted for the first time in their lives.

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6:24 PM
Anna Peeples  –  “Christianity is a religion of peace because Christ never harmed anyone and never advocated harming anyone. The apostles and many saints followed the example of Christ and became martyrs.”lmao tell the money changers at the temple that!!wait so why are we letting the money changers run everything in the name of Jesus, again?

Timothy Larkin  –  He didn’t harm the money changers. Besides, the money changers were in the temple! Inside! Not outside! Inside!
Anna Peeples  –  and our OIL is INSIDE the middle east
6:44 PM
Richard Cosgrove  –  +Timothy Larkin I’m no longer going to take part in this discussion. Your long reply has shown me that you don’t just lack knowledge and understanding about Islam, Islam’s relationship with other religions, the Arab peoples and their countries, the Middle East’s complex political situation, and the effects of the war have had on Iraq and Afghanistan, but that you are wilfully ignorant on all of these subjects.
Discussing this subject with someone as prejudiced as you are is pointless. When you are ready to learn, people will be willing to help you. I just hope that day comes soon.

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6:59 PM
Anna Peeples  –  wow 9/11 really sucked huh, and totally wasn’t a response to our miserable failures in foreign policy or anything, I know let’s start a gigantic war and kill civillians in droves. I wonder why ‘they’ hate us? must be because of our christian freedoms.
7:02 PM
Daniel Shortell  –  Oh hell +Timothy Larkin, I don’t think I can do this anymore! I feel like I’m trying to balance a glass of water on a block of Jell-O.Clearly you are passionate/interested in these topics, which is a good thing, and I hope you will consider expanding your knowledge even further. All the best to you mate.Final thought. Many people in the world milk animals, grow food, work on the land they own. They don’t do this out of some sort of pitiable obligation or a lack of other opportunities. Many do it simply because that is the life they choose to live. Simple and happy. My grandmother-in-law is actually one of these people. In her eighties now, she was dragged over to Malaysia from her native Pakistan by the Brits so that she and her husband could provide cheap labor to work the rubber trees. After Merdeka, she and her husband worked to save enough money to purchase a small plot of land. Nowadays she spends her time milking her cows and watching over her land which she leases out to several different farmers (they grow palm oil trees on her land). She does this not because there are no other options (she would look funny in a cubicle), it is just her life, the way she wants to live. She is a devout Muslim, prays her 5+ a day, has been for hajj, and wears a hijab. Seven years ago, she welcomed me (a big white Catholic guy from the US) with open arms as her new grandson-in-law. Her only crime towards me since then is centered on her desire to stuff me to death with her amazing cooking. Where she lives in Malaysia (just north of KL) lies almost exactly on the equator. Year round temperatures rarely drop below friggin 90 degrees. I sweat like a damn pig the whole time I’m there because she doesn’t have an air conditioning. Not because she can’t afford one, she just doesn’t want to feel cold. She has adapted to living on the equator. It’s all just a matter of perspective.

Again, I wish you all the best Tim. Please, push yourself to continue to learn beyond your comfort zone. I think we should all aim to do this every day of our lives.

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7:14 PM  –  Edit

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End post: https://plus.google.com/u/0/102631351958472018979/posts/C6wXvcgV3VJ

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Sadly, Timothy Larkin uncircled me after my second round of comments. I guess he wasn’t pulling my leg 😦  I trust he prefers staying in his information silo rather than taking the time to learn about other perspectives.

RIP to the latest person to 'uncircle' me on Google+, Timothy Larkin

RIP to the latest person to 'uncircle' me on Google+, Timothy Larkin


One wife, two wives, three wives, four? Five wives, six wives, seven wives? Really? More?

July 27, 2011

Suspending judgement tends to be a good policy for the intellectually inclined. So much of our human knowledge is frail, fraught with errors, subjective, or misinterpreted as deterministic. Yet, far too often, we acquire a bit of knowledge and feel compelled to castigate everything around us that doesn’t dovetail nicely with our new information. A sort of irony masquerading as enlightenment like when you blame the dog for your fart simply because the dog lacks the vocal chords to effectively lodge a retort to your outright lie (and before you think too long about it, the previous analogy doesn’t stand up logically).

Live and Let Rape?

In the normal course of daily events, I tend to believe that the rationale “live and let live” is compatible with the concept of suspended judgement. People should execute the details of their lives to the best of their ability and allow others the opportunity to do the same so long as neither party is adversely impacted (certainly difficult to quantify) by the other’s choices. Simple concepts to grap, however, real-world implementation remains a challenge since it is difficult to clearly draw the lines (especially with broad legal language) to articulate where my rights end and your rights begin.

Take the issue of polygamy. Personally I don’t give a shit if Jed has 100 wives so long as he:

  1. doesn’t receive preferential tax treatment as a result of his choices, and
  2. the most vulnerable among us are not subjugated, oppressed or otherwise victimized

Personally, I’m happy not to be swimming in that estrogen-fueled madness that Jed has to endure, especially when the menstrual cycles of five score align with a full moon. No amount of sexual variety can properly temper so much hormonal insanity.

Unfortunately, for one isolated Arizona town, polygamy is merely a gentle cover for a culture of oppression, subjugation, rape, abuse, racism and even disease. In this community, Jed’s not marrying a stable of educated, adult women of their own volition, rather, Jed is being given 13 year-old brides, with 9 year-old educations by an all-powerful “prophet” enabling Jed to relieve his pedophilia tendencies on multiple child-brides under the guise of religion. Furthermore, much of this activity is financed by tax payers because Jed believes it is his duty, as a man of God, to “bleed the beast” (ie: US Gov’t) of funds to support his unmanageable large household of incestual rape.

Now I give a shit and can’t suspend judgement.

Westward Bound

So I found myself out west last week (not in the existential sense – simply on a quick visit), far from my cramped Brooklyn apartment and spared from the 114 Fahrenheit radiating from the concrete. On a high-speed romp through the desolate, crusty nothingness north of Las Vegas (still can’t figure out why anybody likes this place), I was compelled to pass through the little town of Colorado City while en route to visit my Jack Mormon friend up in Salt Lake. Colorado City, you may remember, is the community of FLDS polygamists formerly ruled over by FLDS ‘prophet’ and imprisoned serial rapist Warren Jeffs. My interest here was a sort of sociological one; an itching curiosity to attain even just an outsiders glimpse at such a secretive and brainwashed community. My intent wasn’t to gawk so much as it was to simply experience whatever there may be on offer. I set the GPS to northern Arizona.

A Stop at Big Devil (WalMart)

On the advice of my SLC buddy, I paid a visit to a Walmart about 30 miles outside of Colorado City. The site, he claimed, provided an excellent juxtaposition of new-world consumption with old-world polygamy. It did feel a little weird stalking grandmas and kids in a retail establishment, but curiosity has done far worse to the cat in the past. I did my best to enter stealth mode and because of it, I’d say my pictures are mostly crap. I’m a terrible spytographer:

polygamists shopping

polygamists buying goods from Satan

It was odd to say the least. Not quaint, simplistic and old-worldly like a visit through Amish country, more like a sort of white-trash-come-wanna-be-wholesome with a dash of Little House on the Prairie. A mashup of “yes, I made this cotton dress with…aren’t these Nikes just to die for?” A blending of beehive hairdos and trailer-park braids. A “fuck you outside world” mixed with a bit of “how much did you say this digital camera costs?”. I hope this is coming across clearly. I hope you get the picture. You’ve got Grandma’s furiously punching buttons on her smartphone while daughter(or more probably, sister-bride) is pushing the cart full of Lay’s potato chips to the Ford F-150. Modernity appears to be perfectly acceptable beyond the thin veneer of an ugly hand-made night-gown thing. Strange. Fascinating. I stalk on.

Arriving in Zionborhood

It only got increasingly odd after entering the pearly gates of Colorado City:

welcome to colorado city

welcome to colorado city where "We Lik'em Young"

Straight away it was clear outsiders were not welcome as “No Trespassing” signs hung from every fence, gate and building. Houses were massive and crudely built with nearly all of them sided with plywood Spackled together at the seams. Many houses had boards or plastic sheeting as windows. Every house had “Zion” emblazoned above the front door. Few people were out and about. The few kids that were outside stared us down, scowling; it felt like a segment from Children of the Corn.

plywood polygamist palaces

plywood polygamist palaces

victims, I mean kids

victims, I mean kids

Unfortunately, many of the pictures are fuzzy because I rushed, fearful that some crazy fundamentalist might fly off the handle (at this point I’m thinking Waco, Jonestown, Taliban, and on and on). We drove around the dirt roads for about 25-30 minutes snapping pictures and trying to get a feel for daily life in this isolated community. Some houses had industrial metal trash bins out front. Several houses had massive, metal shipping containers in the backyard (storage?? extra lodging??). Each house had multiple cars parked in front of it. We did spot traces of kids playing behind corrugated aluminium fences…normal stuff…jumping on trampolines, riding plastic cars, smacking at a water tank with tree branches. All the while, huge puffy white clouds drifted along a brilliant blue sky and massive red cliffs provided a beautiful backdrop to the community:

Colorado City backdrop

Colorado City backdrop

We did happen upon one Zion which had a clan hanging out of it (given the size of the home, it most likely belongs to an apostle fleecing the community of its meager, gov’t subsidized funds):

pious plygs party on the porch

pious polygamist porch party

As we were leaving, we happened upon Mother Plyg and her little ducklings; can’t help but wonder how many of those kids have already been sexually assaulted. Sad.

mother plyg duck

mother plyg duck

Final Thoughts

All up, the visit to Colorado City was strange, surreal. It would have been interesting to have a conversation with some folks, but without anyone on the inside, it is difficult to engage. After the visit, propped up in some dingy motel dive about 40 clicks east, I dove into a late-night Google-hole of an evening and learned about the timing coincidence of my visit. In July of last year, Warren Jeffs’ multiple rape conviction was overturned due to deficient jury instructions. His new trial is set to begin this month (July 2011) with potential life sentence hanging over his head. Unfortunately, this trial will probably not get nearly as much coverage as the Casey Anthony trial. White trash is Florida is apparently much more broadcastable than an isolated rape factory in the middle of nowhere Arizona. Sad, because the many victims rotting away in FLDS communities around the country could certainly use popular support and media attention to bring about much needed change.

Ironically, even through his years of incarceration, Jeffs has held a rather substantial grip on power – conducting sermons from his jailhouse home and breaking up homes at will. Even after he admitted that he lied about being a prophet in jail, many FLDS members still believe he is their prophet.  Since admitting he lied, he has retracted the statement, gotten back to health, and retained power among many FLDS members. Currently, he is being challenged by another power player (William Jessop) in a struggle to wrestle hearts, minds and property from the followers from Jeffs. Time will tell who grabs the reins. It is difficult to determine the power structure (if there is a formal one) in Colorado City today, however, one thing seems clear; FLDS leaders are clearly centered around a perverse ideology and will continue to abuse power and rape kids until outside forces intervene.

There are many interesting documentaries/reads out there on the FLDS. Here are some I highly suggest:

Finally, a weird sort of “drive-by documentary” (in three parts) done by a former polygamist. Basically, this is a Lost Boy doing a driving thru Colorado City 3 years after being kicked out of the community. He drives around the city pointing out places of interest. He also stops by his parents house in an attempt to talk to them. It is a fascinating view and explanation of some of the specifics from the community: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTv4zVyTk_8&feature=related
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If you have a moment, check out my debut novel, Where’s Unimportant. It can be found in any major online retailer (or on my website at http://www.danielshortell.com) in ebook ($2.99) and paperback ($10.99). (Disclaimer: no children were raped in the process of writing/editing/publishing the book).

Cult Shopping – A Search for Belonging

June 17, 2011

I’ve detected a certain hole in my life here recently. This hole is not so black that it sucks all else into it, yet it’s presence has created a type of longing, a need to belong to something, anything, to fill the void. These flaws of mine, these fragile human emotions. These needs, wants and desires sitting just beyond the periphery of my control, sucking me into a vortex of self-reproach. It is time for me to go shopping. It is time for me to become something better, something more, something of consequence. I need to evolve beyond the base that surrounds me. The options are many, so just how does one choose?

The Tea Party

(Express, Patriots, for Prosperity, Nation, Federation, ConglomulationMasturbation and all other associated factions and brain fractions)

Ok, I like it when people congregate together, united under a banner of disparate beliefs yelling racist, unintelligible slogans about fascism, government-sponsored baby killing and oppressively high taxes.  I really get incensed when poor, lazy people (especially if they are Mexican or Black) think they have a right to receive healthcare for which they didn’t even pay! Why should I have to fork over my hard-earned beer money when some dumbass 5-year poor-sot-of-a-kid gets chicken pox? I digress…what else? Well, I like to let my emotions air-out in public beyond the oppressive accountability of logic and reason. This process is cathartic and deeply connects me to like-minded people wrapped in red, white and blue with Jesus resting humbly on righteous lips.

This cult looks pretty good, but the ideologies are a little too wide-ranging and sometimes I doubt my coherence when I’m yelling. I think I could use a bit more structure, some ‘rails’ if you will to keep me on track, on point with the message. To this end, I think it would make good sense to define some concrete terms and talking points to carry the weight of the message. Additionally, I’m going to need some emotional ‘Spackle’  to help fill that hole, a hole which simply cannot be plugged even with the most disembrained political venting.

Landmark Forum

Ahhh, structure, beautiful STRUCTURE! I have found you in plentiful supply! And a leadership, oh wonderful authoritarian leadership, scowling on critical thinking as it attempts to bubble-up from the flock! Add to that a heavy dose of unqualified psychotherapy and psychological manipulation leveraged to create a dependency among followers. Oh sweet, sweet emotional euphoria achieved only through the inculcation of anxious dependency on the group and, more importantly, its leaders. Destabilize me through deprivation, abuse and control, then, build me back up into a subservient being acting on a script with a tailored vernacular (‘winning formula’, ‘strong suit’, ‘create a possibility’, ‘breakthrough’, ‘rackets’ , ‘the vicious cycle’, ‘already always listening’, ‘being authentic’) connecting me to my fellow drones. Masquerade your harassment as a method of friendly, caring support and exploit me both psychologically and financially while fraying the threads of previously established relationships built over many years. Subtle manipulation to extract my true authenticity? A sublime sort of authoritarian poetry!

(click here if you want to see a BRILLIANT docu-infiltration of a Landmark Forum in France entitled “Journey to the Land of the New Gurus” …oh you know you want to click down this rabbit hole!)

Hmmm, lots of structure and doctrine here, but what I really need is something with a religious pretense and a reputable figurehead. Perhaps something with an extra-terrestrial vibe to help nurture my otherworldly tendencies.

Scientology

Ahh, the perennial favorite. It has some bona fide star power behind it and a clear, methodical history which pulls heavily from speculative fiction (of which, I must say, I am a Harry Potter nutter to the core!). It also has a scientifically valid ‘auditing’ method which can detect the most deeply implanted memories in my immortal (yes, I am an alien…cool huh?) brain going back trillions of years. Once detected, I can pay a small earthly fee to get those suckers sussed out. Wham!! I’m all better and I didn’t need some bogus shrink to pump me full of drugs. Did I mention I’m a motherfucking alien? That’s super cool. Super Star Trek cool.


(or, if you have some time… and prefer to hear it from the founder’s mouth: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDMEt4eIqYQ&feature=related)

I like the self-improvement aspects of both the Forum and Scientology, but I’m looking to go farther, plus, I think I need more than just a dead figurehead. I need a flesh and blood leader, a charismatic demi-god who can opiate my troubled mind, take me by the hand in the direction I’m supposed to go.

Aum Shinrikyo

Alrighty then, a blind yoga master who charges me thousands of dollars to drink tea made from his pubic hairs? Say no more, I’m in. What? What’s that you say? Drugs to manipulate my levels of anxiety, survival training, sleep and food deprivation and endless hours of mind-numbing chanting? Yeah right. Next your going to tell me “there’s a helmet I can wear that will transmit God’s brainwaves directly into my head”. No shit, really?

Tens of thousands of followers worldwide manufacturing apocalyptic propaganda in anime/manga fashion, Aum Shinrikyo is a compelling choice. Followers don’t simply give voice to their fascination with the end of times, they actually work hard to bring the end of the world by gassing people, extorting members and cultivating member phobia.

Hmm. It sounds pretty good in all, but let me think…

Family Radio

You know, I don’t really want to hurt anyone, I’m actually a very peaceful person. But, I do harbor certain concerns about the end of the world. There’s clearly lots of evidence that the end is near, and I just need someone to consolidate all of these facts into succinct soundbites and advertisements and plaster them all over the world (focus the canvassing on buses…I like buses). Preferably an older gentleman, with a odd mucously-thick, deep voice who lacks any sort of charisma but has a knack for growing healthy sideburns and establishing communication networks. Contribute my money to the efforts you ask? Of course, why the hell wouldn’t I? On September 6, 1994, I mean May 21, 2011, sorry, I’m not good with numbers; I mean October 21, 2011 the world will turn into a flaming ass-pile of nothingness…in this situation, what use will I have for worldly assets?

Hmmm, I don’t usually let my inner skeptic enter a the realm of intellectual thought, but President Bush did teach me an important lesson about not being fooled. It is probably best for me to take his advice in this case. Besides, I’m an alien-lover… can’t we get back to something beyond our mundane existence here on Mother Earth? Clearly we have reached the end of times and there is an abundance of proof that extra-terrestrial beings are instrumental in bringing this about.

Heavens Gate

Oh yeah, this is the shit of Kings! Screw a mere demigod, give me a straight line to the Big Man! Here you get a kick-ass name (I’m going to request PEYODY), a nice haircut, and a ride in a spaceship cruising behind a freakin’ comet! Heading to that next level in a bad-ass uniform, with a super cool space patch alongside my classmates after being brainwashed by my older members who are really Jesus and his Father in human vehicles…WHOA, this is for me! As a bonus, you get to cut-off those rapscallion testicles which is nice cause everybody knows those buggers are just holding you down like a large, sweaty ball ‘n’ chain, completely restricting your ability to soar to the next evolutionary level. Learning the real-facts, the real truth about how to leave self and world behind from a nurturing and caring son-of-a-Presbyterian-minister who cut his teeth teaching music. Oh dear, my beautiful extra-terrestrial, comet-trailing salvation, is almost at hand. I want to belong. I want to believe. I want a $10 pair of black Nikes.

Wait, what the f*ck? They’ve already exited? You mean I missed the comet-ship? Son-of-a-bitch, this had all the goodies I was looking for, now what to do?

Hold On…Scratch All of That…

I don’t have to follow. I can harness my inner strength, be an innovator. There is a self-righteous egotist lurking within, waiting for the opportune time to emerge. I just need a regimen, a blue-print for how to control my flock:

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If you are still awake after all that, you should check out my debut novel, Where’s Unimportant at your favorite online book retailer, or at my website: http://www.danielshortell.com

debut novel by Daniel Shortell

debut novel by Daniel Shortell

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before you go, please consider using the following addendum section to aid in your choice of cult:

ADDENDUM: CULT SELECTION ASSISTANCE

Isolation factor: An unscientific ranking based on a scale (1 – 10) designed to roughly indicated how isolated from the general population an individual should expect to become  upon entry into a specified cult.

“everyone loves you – consider starting your own cult immediately” (1) <——-> (10) “you will die alone in a strange outfit”

Tea PartyIsolation factor = (5)  “You and thousands of Glenn Beck fans can concoct conspiracy theories and draw tiny mustaches on President Obama together.”

Landmark ForumIsolation factor = (6) “You and several hundred thousand other critical-thinking-haters can empty your wallets and create possibilities together.”

Scientology – Isolation factor = (7) “You and a couple hundred thousand aliens worldwide can chat about your respective states of Clear.”

Aum Shinrikyo – Isolation factor = (8) “You’ll be sipping hair tea with tens of thousands of former communists while putting your PhD to work making sarin gas.”

Family RadioIsolation factor = (9) “You will find companionship among several thousand worldwide doomsday revisionists.”

Heaven’s GateIsolation factor = (10) “You should expect the company of a couple dozen like-minded nuts with cool names and tightly cropped hair.”


New Laws Mulled After Westboro Baptist Church Supreme Court Win

April 10, 2011

About a month ago the Supreme Court, in an 8 to 1 decision, upheld Westboro Baptist Church’s right to picket the funerals of deceased US soldiers. The lone dissenter was Justice Samuel Alito, who, in a post-judgement  interview was quoted as saying, “I’ve never believed in the doctrine ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’, and, I’m currently working with Congress to frame legislation which provides the federal government  a set of tools to centrally control this type of vitriol.”

Seemingly unaware of the concept of checks and balances, Alito continued, “Over the past couple of years, I have had numerous  discussions with Senator Lindsey Graham regarding a range of tools the federal government could employ to tamp down hate speech in America. One idea which has repeatedly surfaced as both low-cost and technologically viable, we’ve dubbed the Freedom Collar. This device, if implemented, would act as a deterrent to those who aim to inject ignorance and hatred into the public discourse, rightfully protecting the freedoms of those who wish to listen only to  points of view consistent with American values.”

Freedom Collar designed after the Bark Control Collar

“The Freedom Collar is quite a simple piece of technology, the program of which, could be managed under the umbrella of the Department of Homeland Security,” Graham said in a recent interview. “We are currently evaluating the efficacy of leveraging Navy Seals to covertly ‘collar’ targets identified for speech reduction, either while they sleep, or, while immobile on the toilet. Once we have collared all identified targets, we can configure each collar with a set of voice-recognized hate words and phrases which, if spoken, will automatically administer a medium-level shock directly to the throat of the target. The shock is not enough to injure the target, however, during prototype tests, 75% of administered shocks resulted in the assailant ‘pooing’ himself/herself, which, studies have revealed, should act as a strong second-level deterrent against hate speech.

Fred Phelps wearing a prototype of the Freedom Collar

Attorney General Eric Holder was sought for comment regarding the impending Freedom Collar proposal and was quoted as saying, “I’m not confident that the Justice Department will be able to endorse the Freedom Collar program, but, rest assured, the visual of Terry Jones crapping his pants while burning Qu’rans certainly resonates with my sense of comedy.”

someone paying a dear social price for hate speech

Jones thinking, to burn (then poop) or not to burn (then not poop), that is the question.

So, for those of you living with your head in your bum, the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) is a nutty little ‘institution’ hailing from Topeka, Kansas headed up by the looney Fred Phelps and comprise of a total of 71 members (most of whom, are related to Fred). Their vile rhetoric commonly appears at the funerals of US soldiers KIA and homosexuals murdered in hate crimes. Their inbred, white-trash message is a clear indication that free speech is alive and well in the good ‘ol USA.

Instead of validating as legitimate their message with a negative response, we should embrace their ignorance and be happy that our first amendment allows people this depraved to roam freely without being attacked. Imagine for a moment the type of response their hate speech would provoke in, say, some closed-off, tribal region of Afghanistan. Reason over ignorance…the power of intellectual evolution!

Taking a step back from the WBC’s choice of picket location (the funerals) and focusing solely on the un-targeted version of their message, one cannot, I think, succumb to the comedic lunacy of their beliefs. Yes, these people actually believe what they preach…unreal!

If this is your first time hearing about WBC, do yourself a favor and Google them for some comic relief, or, just check out Fred during one of his sermons:

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Check out my debut novel, Where’s Unimportant at http://www.danielshortell.com