Archive for February, 2003

Proof that God has a sense of humor

Fred Phelps plans to protest “dyke-infested Mary Washington College” (Thanks, John).

I may be coming in a bit late to the party here – there’s already a God Hates Phelps website, after all. But the limit of my exposure to Phelps this far has been through the portrayal of the brimstone-spewing minister in Tectonic Theatre Project’s The Laramie Project.

And it’s specifically that play that Phelps wants to protest at Mary Washington – or anywhere else, for that matter.

The Laramie Project,” blares Phelps’ MWC flyers, “is a tacky piece of sick fag melodrama with zero social value or literary merit. It’s sole, shabby purpose is to recruit kids to lives of sin, shame, disease, misery death & Hell1.”

Phelps is a man of God. This is clearly evidenced by the URL for his official website – godhatesfags.com. I browsed the website for a bit – absolutely shocked that somebody could have so much against simple Frequently Asked Questions files before I realized that the underlining was making all of his g’s look like q’s.

Quote: “Matt’s in Hell 4+ years, eternity to go. Caterwauling fags at The Laramie Project can’t buy Matt a drop of water to cool his tongue! The 3000 Sept. 11 and the 7 shuttle astronauts Feb. 1 have now joined Matt in Hell. Deal with it, America! God hates this nation of fags & fag-pimps!—and has irrevocably purposed to destroy her!” – from Phelps’ MWC flier.

If I didn’t know that Phelps was, in fact, a real person with a real church (Westboro Baptist Church), I would swear that he was a product of The Onion. But the fact is that Phelps is real. And he’s everywhere. Not just at 3701 SW 12th Street in Topeka, Kansas – the address printed on all of his fliers.

And, oh, those fliers. Even the PDF files on his own website look like they’ve five-thousandth generation photocopies. The photos are blurred and dithered, and the stock art at the bottom of each flier features some of his more popular protest signs (“THANK GOD FOR FEB. 1 SHUTTLE DOOM”, and “FAG CHURCH” with a little cartoon of one man standing behind another man who’s bent over). Some of them even feature a kid in a baseball cap holding a sign that proudly declares “GOD HATES FAGS.”

At least we know where Phelps stands on the issue.

Quote: “Diane Whipple, a filthy dyke, died in her sins on Jan. 26, 2001, as a result of being mauled by two dogs. God used literal dogs to kill a figurative dog – sodomites being likened unto dogs for beast-filthiness (Deut. 23:17, Mat. 7:6, Phil. 3:2, 2 Pet. 2:7,8,12,22; Rev. 22:15). Fags & dykes = dogs & sows. She lived like a beast, died like a beast, at the hands of beasts, and is mourned by a family of beasts! The wrath and fury that smote Diane Whipple – suddenly and violently ripping her throat out and casting her forthwith into the everlasting flames of Hell – is poised to similarly visit this evil sodomite-dominated nation in final overwhelming vengeance. Jer. 9:9. Sharon Smith (the dead dyke’s lover) and Penny Whipple-Kelly (the dead dyke’s guilty, dyke-pimp, mother-from-Hell) need a reality check. Diane is in Hell, and you will join her there – where you three will bitterly curse each other forever, as you gnaw your tongues in pain and blaspheme God. Flames of God’s wrath will engulf you and fill your heads, bowels, and limbs. The same is happening to Diane now.” – from Phelps’ “memorial” to Diane Whipple

By the way – Phelps also helms godhatesamerica.com. And there are some politicians out there who would want to call me unpatriotic.

Phelps likes to put up “memorials” to homosexuals whose deaths made the national news. Both Diane Whipple and Matthew Shepard are the subjects of Phelps memorials – which consist of bible quotes, fag-bashing, and animated gifs of their heads dancing in flames (accompanied by a voice screaming, “Agh! For God’s sake, listen to Phelps!”). The pages also provide you with handy counters. As of February 28, 2003, Phelps’s site reports that Shepard has spent 1,601 days in Hell. And he provides us with the helpful little equation, “Eternity-1601 Days = Eternity”.

Phelps’ major desire is to tell everybody that those of the homosexual persuasion are bound for the fires of eternal perdition. And his major targets for this message are Matthew Shepard and any production of The Laramie Project that he can find. But Phelps is more than just anti-Shepard and anti-Laramie. Even as I type this, Phelps is protesting something bigger than either issue.

Quote: “Fallout of acrid smoke and burning cinders from the holocaust of ancient Sodom hangs over Leavenworth. Travellers nearing Leavenworth report a caustic odor of brimstone and a burning sensation. Leavenworth leaders have sold their souls for a $15,000 morsel of sodomite meat – as profane fornicator Esau. Heb. 12:16. Official tax-funded signs proclaim Leavenworth’s everlasting shame: ‘Hometown of Melissa Etheridge!’” – from Phelps’ Leavenworth, Feb. 28 flier.

Yes, Leavenworth has earned the wrath of God by putting up signs declaring themselves to be the hometown of a celebrity who happens to be a lesbian. Not only does he declare that Leavenworth is bound for Hell, but he specifically lists on his flier the “Roster of the Damned,” with names and pictures of the city commission. And there, at the bottom of the flier, is one of the signs with that same cartoon couple surrounded by the slogan, “GOD HATES AMERICA.”

I would dearly love to tear into Phelps. His brimstone rhetoric and absolute intolerance are the stuff of nightmares. But the fact is that his words speak loud enough, themselves.

I would never suggest that Laramie is a play beloved by everyone. But everyone who has seen The Laramie Project respects it as a work of literature, whether or not they agree with it. Everybody except Phelps, that is.

But Phelps, himself, has gone on the defensive recently – protesting in his own home town.

Quote: “Duffy says he did not sponsor the gay-rights ordinance because he condones the filthy fag agenda, but because WBC’s picketing ministry makes Topeka the epicenter of hate which in turn creates a hostile business climate discouraging selection of Topeka as a favorable site. Duffy knows better. He got that paralogism (lying argument) from Roy Menninger – who also knows better. Surely, the opposite is true. The ministry of WBC gives Topeka an aura of relative decency – which some companies still find desirable, for many resons. In any case, The Kansas City Star story at right [not included in quoted material – ed.] gives lie to Duffy’s satanic sophistry. Topeka was not ranked ‘hot’ for ‘strong business climate’ and ‘cite [sic] selection’ when WBC began her ‘God Hates Fags’ picketing crusade in Topeka’s and America’s streets in 1991. Satan’s Midget Mutant Angel Duffy is a liar.” – from Phelps’ Feb. 26 Topeka, Kansas flier.

Perhaps Phelps would feel more kindly toward The Laramie Project if it didn’t include the details of Phelps’ embarassment at the hands of “Project Angel Action.” Or perhaps if he had been played by Tommy Lee Jones in the HBO Films edition, instead of by James Murtaugh.

But, as it stands, Laramie is the closest anybody has ever come to calling Phelps out on his dogmatic, brutal, and destructive “ministry.” And, perhaps, that’s just why he hates it so much.

When it comes down to that, Phelps could pull a page from his own book.

Lately, gay-rights groups have taken to using Phelps’ protests as fund-raisers. In Ann Arbor, MI, Keith Orr got people to pledge money for the Washtenaw Rainbow Action Project (WRAP) for every minute that Phelps protested. The press release is available on godhatesphelps.com, or you can contact Mr. Orr for more information at keith@autbar.com.

Now, in Fredericksburg, Nathan Figueroa is preparing to use Phelps’ planned protest of Mary Washington College as another fundraiser. This time, the money goes to Equality Virginia. For more information or to make your pledge, contact prism@wmc.edu with your name and phone number.

Where’s the lesson for Phelps in all of this?

Phelps has fired back at the fundraisers by putting up an article on his website about “How fags can make $millions with WBC pickets”. A snide little backbiter of a piece that indirectly calls all gays dishonest and suggests that all reported numbers for the pledge drives are exhaggerated for the benefit of the media. The article concludes with the suggestion that those who follow Phelps’ steps “Contact WBC to let us know how much money you made, along with a copy of (or a link to) the newspaper article that resulted from step 7, thereby allowing us to relish in the knowledge that “God hates fags” has been proclaimed to even more people.”

Phelps’ message is clear: Tell the press you’re protesting us, and we win because you’ve gotten our protest into the newspapers.

But Phelps fails to ask himself:

How many tickets to The Laramie Project have been sold by the WBC picket lines?

So, please, Mr. Phelps – continue to protest. And each time you manage to get your protest into the newspaper, please contact us and let us know, so that we can see that you’ve helped spread the message that your kind of hatred is obsolete, outdated, on the fringe, and swiftly approaching obscurity.

Laramie sparkles, doesn’t it?

Friday, February 28th, 2003

Ding!Ding!

If you haven’t heard already, Fred Rogers died today. (Link goes to New York Times obituary – may require registration to view)

I loved watching Mr. Rogers as a kid. Even as an adult, I found his show to be the sort of programming that we hope to see run forever. While his calm, quiet delivery was frequently parodied, it was a soothing balm to kids the nation over. Whatever else happened, you could always count on Mr. Rogers inviting you in to be his neighbor. He sang songs, wore comfortable sweaters, and always changed into a more comfortable pair of shoes when he came home. He was friends with the rulers of the Land of Make-Believe, with the children, with the mailman, and even with Lou Ferrigno.

The simple message of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood – that we are all neighbors, and that the world would be a nicer place if we all could take the time to get along – is a key part of my belief system to this day.

Also, to this day I can be heard humming the Land of Make-Believe theme every time I find myself in a town that has an actual Trolley system running. It’s a hard habit to break.

Thursday, February 27th, 2003

I love photography.

For a little over four years, I was hardly ever seen around Blacksburg without my camera. As a result, I have quite a lot of pictures.

These are a few of them.


From my directorial debut – A Trio of Ten-Minute Scenes. This is scene one – “Variations on the Death of Trotsky.” This picture features Betsy Cross as Mrs. Trotsky, and Ryan Kirk and Trotsky. That’s Trotsky’s skull he’s holding up, and that thing sticking out of his head is the handle of a mountain climber’s axe.


Scene two – Hunter Parker in “Thursday is my Day for Cleaning” receives a note through her mailslot from a deaf and mute vacuum cleaner repairman. The repairman is there because Hunter has just shot her vacuum cleaner.


Scene three – Hunter Parker, Ryan Kirk, Jesse Bogue, and Betsy Cross in “Marred Bliss” – a play written entirely in Freudian slips.


A shot from rehearsal for my second play, Three Shots Fired Point Blank. Top – Charles Hilton. Bottom – Mike Hutchison and Bri Laskey.

And now, a few of my prize collection of backstage photos. The things you don’t realize are going on behind the scenes.


Karissa Swannigan, Jenel Ambrose, and Hunter Parker rehearse in the PAB lobby for a number from Chris Zavadowski’s production of Cole, a musical revue featuring the work of Cole Porter.


Backstage at Greg Justice’s and Bernard Dukore’s Arms and the Man. Jack Bennett waits as Felice Proctor prepares to fix his make-up.


Backstage at Arms and the Man. Lauren Marinelli (Catherine Petkoff) visits me (Major Petkoff) in the men’s dressing room – here we are looking like the typical married couple. In widescreen, no less.


Three of the men from Arms and the Man – Yours truly (Major Petkoff), John Bryant (Russian Soldier), and Jack Bennett (Nicola). We are, of course, dreadfully out of costume.

And, finally, one of my prized Halloween photos.


This is a picture of me dressed as Animal (of the Muppets) and Emily Rubin dressed as a bumblebee sort of thing.

It may seem like a lot of pictures but consider that these few scanned prints came out of a stack that measures more than five inches in height – and that’s only a fraction of the photos I took in four years.

We call this “having plenty of material to spare.”

Wednesday, February 26th, 2003

“The Nazi Stuff”

On late-night television, Jay Leno’s guest Dennis Miller makes an appearance to blast and threaten the peace protestors and tell them to “cut the Nazi stuff.”

“If you’re in a peace march,” said Miller, “and the person next to you has a sign saying Bush is Hitler, forget the peace thing for a moment and beat his ass.”

Miller said this because he feels very strongly that George W. Bush is “not Hitler.” Speaking as one of those people who has drawn connections between Dubya and Aitch before, I thought maybe I should re-examine this comparison – given Miller’s adamant demands that I do so.

And it occurs to me that he may be right. After all, Dubya’s not quite as short as Aitch was. And he doesn’t have that Charlie Chaplin moustache, either. He hasn’t invaded Poland, and I guess it makes a difference that Dubya has yet to march millions of Jews, homosexuals, and Rroma into the ovens.

Of course, Hitler didn’t do all of this, himself. Not during his first couple of years in office, anyway. He hosted Olympic games, outlawed other political parties, and talked big about being the greatest nation in the world.

So, maybe Dubya isn’t as bad as Aitch. After all, Dubya just stole the election from its true winner. He just exercised his family influence to weasel his way into office, just as he had exercised it to get into the Air National Guard ahead of more deserving applicants during international conflict. He only refused to acknowledge the world-wide AIDS crisis when Africa set up their fund (but, hey, he set up his own fund later – and while it was significantly smaller in funding and scope, got to call it “the biggest and first of such funds, ever”). In a few casual lines, all he did was destroy decades of diplomatic work with China and other nations. He’s called for an end to affirmative action. And under him, laws have been passed and approved that do away with protection against illegal search and seisure and have set the stage for home invasion, wide-spread wire taps, secret police forces with the power to arrest and interrogate without filing formal charges, and secret courts that can convict and sentence you without ever having to admit that you were on trial. And he’s just been given the exclusive power to revoke any American’s citizenship if he feels they’re associated with a “terrorist organization or party,” like, say, the Democrats? Or the Greens? Or anything other than Republican?

Can somebody tell me why G. Gordon Liddy was frightened of jack-booted thugs during the Clinton administration? Clinton was a boy scout. All he ever did was to get a few favors of the oral variety from one of his interns. To the best of my knowledge, Clinton never directly challenged my faith in my nation by openly calling for an end to my civil rights. For that matter, Clinton made his own statements about going into Iraq, but never pressed the United Nations with vague threats.

As for vague threats, how about Dennis Miller? Suggesting that after we’re through bombing Iraq, we should bomb France? And then Germany? Telling us to forget the peace thing for a moment to beat up a fellow protestor, just because he states the obvious? Face it, people. As far as most of the world is concerned right now, Dubya’s Amewica is part of the “Axis of Evil.” Right up there with our most vocal supporters – England and Italy. We’re loose cannons with greater nuclear capability than anybody else on the face of the Earth.

Wednesday, February 26th, 2003

Your Tuesday tunes

Drumroll, please. It’s your new music on Radio Free ArtMachine. This time around, we’re even including a couple of tracks from Cleopatra Records’ Tribute to Limp Bizkit (reviewed this past week on the ArtMachine) and a new track from Nick Cave’s Nocturama (review in an upcoming installment).

So, here’s a sample of what’s new on Radio Free ArtMachine, where we declare genre to be a thing of the past.

  • Gliss – Nookie
  • Neil Turbin – Faith
  • Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Rock of Gibraltar
  • Elvis Costello & The Brodsky Quartet – I Almost Had a Weakness
  • Adrian Belew – Me and My Arrow
  • Blackalicious – Blazing Arrow
  • Bob Marley – Stir it Up
  • Tom Waits – Rosie

Of course, that’s just a sample. There’s more up there, playing 24 hours a day. So? Go and check it out right now.

Tuesday, February 25th, 2003

Come fly the bitter skies…

The airlines want your money – however they can get it. And that will be their downfall.

I’m certain you’ve heard about at least one major airline complaining that it just isn’t profitable any more. They claim that operating and maintenance costs alone are eating up all of the profits off of your outrageously-priced ticket, and that not enough people fly regularly to counteract those costs.

I say there are two major reasons why people don’t fly regularly – and one swiftly-surfacing reason.

The first major reason is cost. Let’s face it, at today’s prices few of us can afford one plane ticket – let alone the type of “regularity” that the airlines say would help save them. You pay a small fortune for a ticket that isn’t even First Class, only to find that in your passenger class they’ve done away with seats and now pack you in five-deep like sardines. By the time you’ve crossed the continent, you could have driven and saved money on gas and hotels. Take one trip a month without anybody defraying the costs for you, and you will find that your credit card statement totals about five times the gross national product of Zimbabwe1.

The second major reason is that airlines don’t follow their own rules. I can remember the announcement that, overnight, loyal flyers’ frequent flyer miles were all going to vanish. “Use them or lose them!” said the chipper airlines. “It just costs us too much money to allow you to accumulate all of those miles we told you would never expire. So we’ve decided that they will expire – right now.” Now, the airlines sell SkyMiles credit cards that give you more frequent flyers that their ads point out “may never expire.”

The airlines routinely overbook flights, double-selling seats and then kicking passengers off when they actually all show up. They send connections off before the flight they connect to actually arrive, and then try to blame the passengers for not making it to their flight, suggesting that they have to buy a new ticket. They bounce you from counter to counter, reschedule you without notice, and ask for your paper ticket after telling you you didn’t have one because you didn’t need one with your new digital ticket.

These are the two major reasons.

The third, swiftly-surfacing reason is something that the airlines can’t control – or should I say, someone. Goddess forbid that I should name names, but his initials are John Ashcroft.

If we face facts, we see that before September 11th airline security was a joke. Now, after September 11th, it’s still a joke – but we’re the punchline.

Bomb-sniffing dogs. Invasive x-rays that provide detailed nude photos of the people scanned. Random strip searches. Lists of “Do-Not-Fly” people that include members of such alleged terrorist organizations as the Green Party2. Classification of nail clippers as a lethal weapon. And now: random searches of cars approaching airports.

“If you have nothing to hide, then why worry about it?” Yeah, but whether I have something I want to hide or not, it’s still my car. My car, my life. I may not have a Crystal Meth lab in the basement, but that doesn’t mean that I go telling policemen to walk right in and search whenever they want to without obtaining a warrant. I may not be an illegal arms dealer, but that doesn’t mean that I want to let Ashcroft read all of my e-mail. And I might have no intention of ever breaking Virginia’s anti-sodomy laws, but I still wouldn’t let the FBI install a surveillance camera in my bedroom. If a security guard or police officer wants to search my car, they had better have a good, legal reason for doing so. But I, for one, do not feel any safer because the police can conduct random car searches. As a matter of fact, I feel even less safe.

According to TalkLeft, the only city I can currently feel safe flying into or flying out of is Seattle, Washington. There, they have decided that random car searches are illegal under their state constitution (imagine that).

Of course, following my logic, I realize that I would have to only take flights that depart from Seattle to arrive in Seattle.

According to priceline.com, I can get a real deal if I take a connecting flight in Seattle, then accept a two-night layover in Seattle before catching my next connection over to Seattle. It’ll only cost me an arm and my right leg, up to my knee.
——1 I don’t really know the gross national product of Zimbabwe, and I’m too lazy to take the 6 seconds out of my day to look it up – I just like the name. Zimbabwe. It’s almost as good as Botswana.
2 That would be the pacifistic, there’s-a-peaceful-solution-to-everything Green Party.

Monday, February 24th, 2003

All I want is my fair share


V-Day
One Percent

Monday, February 24th, 2003

You’re kidding, right?

Las Vegas has found its latest tourist slogan.

“Las Vegas. What happens here, stays here.”

I’ve gotta keep that in mind. Next time I need to dump a body or move some coke, Vegas is the place.

Sunday, February 23rd, 2003

I’d like to thank….

I watched a bit of the Grammies.

I saw Fred Durst saying he hopes this war goes away as soon as possible.

Then I changed the channel because it was about time for Dragnet.

Sunday, February 23rd, 2003

Clear as mud.

Heather Corinna writes in part in her blog (Feb 20th, 2003 – #2) about trying to resolve her Buddhist philosophy with the current actions of America on the world scene.

Of particular interest to me was this segment:

I very clearly know that I’m not okay with doing “the right thing for the wrong reasons”, something Kinneret brought up in the comments to an entry a few days back, isn’t okay with me. I’m certain a preemptive strike is not the right thing regardless, but I’m absolutely certain that the right thing is only the right thing when it is done for the right reasons. As a person, as a Buddhist.

One of the things I’ve heard from friends is that while we may not feel that Bush is going in for the right reason, we should still go in because Saddam is dangerous and it’s wrong to leave him in power. So, while Bush is wrong in his reasons for going in, he’s right to go in.

I have to admit that while I disagreed that it was right to go in with the wrong reasons, I never quite managed to frame it the way that Heather managed to. Perhaps because I’m of a nebulous religious background and haven’t devoted myself to any particular philosophy. If my English degree taught me anything, it’s that a religious background makes for a wealth of symbols and philosophies with which to express oneself (The Divine Comedy, Piers Plowman, and Murder in the Cathedral, to name just a few works).

But this particular framing introduced something else into the discussion for me.

The question at hand: Is it wrong to do something right for the wrong reason?

And my initial reaction: Yes.

One definition of the word “sin” is “the action, the full advertence of the intellect, and the full consent of the will.” Or, as George Carlin so eloquently put it: “You have to wanna.”

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

First, I ask myself: Is it possible to do the right thing by doing the wrong thing for the right reason?

I steal a loaf of bread. It is a “sin” to steal. It is illegal. It is unacceptable behavior in society. If everybody just took a loaf of bread from whoever already had it, then society would not work. A loaf of bread, of course, is a consumable. I steal it from somebody who already has it, and the chances are very slight that they will ever see it again.

But if I steal the loaf of bread to feed my family, is it wrong? If I am bouncing around the job market, going from interview to interview and constantly being told that I’m “just not what they’re looking for,” all the while watching my welfare benefits end as the government tries to force me off of my “lazy ass,” is there truly something wrong to taking the loaf? When I have no health care to save my children from the effects of malnutrition and I have no money to provide food, can it truly be said that it is wrong to steal the bread?

Is it illegal? Yes. Is it unacceptable in a civilized society? Yes. Should I be arrested? Probably.

Am I right to do it? Yes.

The theft of the bread is not out of greed – it is out of necessity and the desire to help others – in this case, my family. Now, there’s additional material to consider. Suppose that the bread that I stole was bought with the family’s last paycheck? Suppose that family is in just as bad a shape as mine, and that loaf of bread was the only food they had for their table?

But from my perspective, I’m unable to know any of this. Even should any of these be the true case, my actions are still motivated by good intentions (and I have heard about the pavement on the road to Hell – it’s just not the way I think). I did not steal the bread to be mean. I did not steal it to be cruel. I stole it because I was watching my family being denied the means to live. I stole it because the system is not set up to take care of us, no matter how we try. I stole it so that my children could live for another day.

(Should anybody be reaching for the phone to call the Police, I should point out that all of the above is hypothetical. I have no children, I am not starving, and I have never stolen a loaf of bread.)

Yes. Stealing the loaf of bread is the wrong thing to do – but the reason behind it makes it right. The right reason makes the action the correct action to take while not making it legal or truly “right.”

Another example. I am elected to the highest office in the land. While in office, something terrible happens, suggesting that the people who have elected me are no longer safe. In order to make them safe, I pass legislation allowing searches and surveillance that are Constitutionally prohibited and I effectively revoke the rights of free speach and assembly.

Action: Allow illegal search and surveillance while quashing free speech and the right to assemble. Reason: Protect the American people.

The action is wrong, but the reason is right. So, am I right? Only if I truly, honestly intend to protect the American people, and only if that view is shared by everybody involved in the action. However, while I may be right to do it, I should still be ejected from office, accused of violating my terms of office (which include protecting the Constitution), put on trial, convicted, and sentenced to a nice long stay in a white-collar prison while all of the laws I have passed are quickly nullified and the people have their rights of speech and assembly returned to them.

Right is right. And illegal is illegal. If I steal the bread, it doesn’t matter if it’s right or it’s wrong – it’s illegal. I may be right, but I should be willing to go to jail for being right. Similarly, if I betray the principles of my home country for the “right” reason, I should still be willing to face the consequences for that betrayal.

Now, let’s take a look at the other side of this.

If I do the right thing for the wrong reason, does that make me wrong?

The answer that I see is: Yes.

I run a large corporation. I offer a very attractive severance package to a man who works for me. Alternately, if the package is not accepted, then the worker has to realize that his job is about to be terminated. He will remain in the company, but he may have to remain under different terms and may find that his new position will not have the power or benefits of his current position. His job will be terminated, and the duties split between pre-existing positions. While I say I’m doing this to save the corporation money, the fact is that I’m offering these choices because the worker in question is advanced in years and I feel personally that old people drag a corporation down, they can’t be trained, and they should be “put out to pasture.” I apply this profile to my worker, even though his record is flawless and there’s no sign that he has slowed down from the time he came here.

Now, what I have done is legal (although it is something that could be challenged in court). But I’ve done it because I’m ageist. The so-called “right” thing to do, but a very wrong reason.

Another example.

In the Middle East, there is a very powerful dictator. He is harsh and cruel. He uses his own people in his weapons experiments. He oppresses women, and he’s developing weapons that the international community has banned him from developing. In most peoples’ minds, it is the right thing to do to go in and remove this dictator.

I send my army in to remove him because his country has rich oil deposits, I want a popularity boost, and the dictator once called my daddy names and made him look bad.

Right thing to do, and my reasons are wrong, wrong, and wrong.

That’s my logic so far. Feel free to point out any errors in it (I’m sure my brother will take me up on it). After all, writing this was part of my discovery process. If there are problems with the argument, please let me know.

And before you point it out to me – no. I do not believe that Bush okayed illegal search and surveillance and repealed our rights to free speech and assembly because he wanted to protect us. I believe he did those things because of power madness, firm belief in a “divine right,” a desire to control the media, and a wish to prove to the world that he had “the mandate of the people” – in that order.

So – invade Iraq? Not while Bush is the one calling the shots.

If we seek to liberate Iraq – supposedly a noble goal – then why are we prepared to set up just as bad a dictatorship, as long as it’s US-friendly? If we want to liberate the people of Iraq, then why are we currently removing the liberties usually enjoyed by the American people?

If it’s not about the oil, then why is an old oil man the most vocal proponent of the action? And why is the US Army concerned over the idea that Iraq might set fire to its oil wells? And why is the military trying to develop a contingency plan for just such an event?

And why are we so vocal about Saddam’s alleged attempts at hiding his alleged weapons program when North Korea has been openly vocal about their weapons program?

right action + wrong reason = wrong action.

Oy. My head hurts.

Saturday, February 22nd, 2003