Disasters! It's always something, isn't it?

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This week’s piece delves into three separate topics. The first one pertains to a growing appetite for gruesome torture and execution methods—if the myriad responses to the forums at www.delawareonline.com are an indication. The second topic is an unabashed plug for a great web site for people who enjoy civilized discussions pertaining to virtually any topic imaginable. In fact, if you can’t find one to your liking, feel free to start one! The third contains my comments regarding an article I read, “God’s role in disasters questioned.”


Topic Number One…


            There’s a whole lot of killin’ going on in this world. The United States produces its share and more. Spousal murder seems to be replacing good old-fashioned divorce as a means to ending things. Oh, don’t like the way some creep looked at you? Kill the bastard. Want a jacket like that one or a pair of shoes like those, kill the wearer and take them. People all around you making you feel inferior? Disrespected? Helpless? Stupid? Feeling impotent or experiencing a range of other emotional negatives caused by thoughtless assholes? Just get yourself one of those mail order, high-powered guns and go on a shooting rampage. Kill twenty or thirty of those “dissing” sleazebags! That’ll teach ‘em.


            I’ve been all over the world… several times. I read a number of foreign newspapers. Horrible crimes are not unique to the United States. Pick a day at random; you’ll find that there are not sufficient numbers of newspapers in this country to report all of these worldwide incidents.


            Crimes only seem unique to us because our newspapers and other news media outlets sensationalize the stuff that happens here. It sells newspapers and raises viewer ratings—our fault, not the media’s. I guess I’d have to call this a man-made disaster.


            Of course, these outlets always counter with the fact that they want to keep us informed. OK, if this is the case, just announce it and move on. There’s no need to keep it on Nancy Grace, Larry King Live, Geraldo Rivera, Joe Scarborough, and an endless host of local talk radio stations for weeks at a time, rehashing the same gruesome details, ad nauseum.


            Crime is a function of the human species. According to the bible, it began with Cain. He didn’t like his brother for some reason. So, it’s always been an issue and it’ll always be an issue as long as humans exist. Human inhumanity to other humans, not to mention that towards the lower animal species, seems unbounded. People just seem obsessed with ever increasingly cruel ways to kill others, including children.


            Each time some newspaper, TV news station, or radio news station reports one of these incidents, otherwise compassionate people come out of the woodwork expressing a desire for the immediate execution of such perverted slime balls. Reason goes south, most likely to Alabama, as the mentality seems to revert to, “Bring the creep in; give him a fair trial, and kill him.”


            And, do it immediately, in the most cruel and painful way AND, with no appeal. Oh, yes, kill the defense lawyers, too. They have no business trying to get such “slime” off. Don’t forget that wrist-slapping judge, either, the liberal bastard!


            If you are such an advocate, I think you were born too late. You would have remained in a state of perpetual orgasmic ecstasy had you lived at a much earlier time in the world’s history. Just click here to see all the wonderfully imaginable ways people of much earlier eras had of punishing “scum bags” who pissed them off.


            Of course, the rationale behind this blood lust always stems from the cruel and horrible ways in which the killers dispatch their helpless victims. It reeks of an “eye-for-an-eye” thing. Additionally, anyone who disagrees with the blood lust mentality, earns the wrath of Kahn for being soft on crime. Righteous society should execute all such limp-wristed liberals, right along with the murdering scum who did the actual crimes!


            No one’s ever accused me of being soft on crime or criminals. As for the death penalty, I’m indifferent to it. But, from a modest number of emails I’ve received regarding my feelings on the matter, some folks do not understand the term, “indifferent.” So, let me explain it here.


            I take no moral stand on the death penalty. If the citizens of the United States adopt and impose the death penalty, fine. As long as it passes Constitutional muster and a competent jury sees fit, execute until your heart’s content. But, I’m just as comfortable with life without any possibility of parole.


            My point is, however, that I think that those who advocate cruel and torturous executions miss the point of the 8th amendment to the United States Constitution, which bans cruel and unusual punishment.


            People who torture and murder their victims, at least in this country, do so outside the sanction of government. Nor can any governmental agency prevent this stuff from happening. Hell, we’ve not seen more than the tip of the iceberg relative to understanding the depravity behind most of it. The fact is that these things happen no matter how hard we try to prevent them. As rational people, we have to deal with it, no matter what.


            However, state-sanctioned executions are not grounds for us, “officially,” to return the favor in kind. The U. S. Constitution’s 8th amendment prohibits it. The authors of this amendment based it on a desire to claim a moral high ground. No matter how heinous the crime, once we convict the perpetrator and assign a death sentence, we’re required to carry it out as unobtrusively and humanely as possible.


            There’s a perplexing aspect to moral proclamations, especially in matters criminal. No matter the height and sincerity of our goals, one of the problems associated with our propensity to define “righteous” morals, is that one person’s definition of moral acceptability is another person’s definition of being too liberally “soft,” especially where crime is concerned. It sure does generate horrendous inconsistencies, that moral stuff!


Topic Number Two…


            So, you enjoy stimulating discussions on various topics. Do you think Hillary Clinton is a fat-calved, left-leaning socialists? Do you like to discuss things like the human species’ tendency to “negate” evolution’s effects on its long-term survival? Do you enjoy reading about weird stuff? Discussing myriad social issues? Can you think up a preposterous, clever, or preposterously clever screen name? Or, maybe you’re gutsy enough to use your real name?


            Whatever! You can do all of this and more. Even if you can’t find a topic in one of several forums, you can start one of your own. What’s the name of this site, you wonder. TalkDelaware.com or, just click here and get there faster.


            The site’s owners reasonably moderate it. I say “reasonably” because they don’t go overboard. They do not permit personal attacks, no matter how much you might think a poster deserves one. They don’t permit profanity, either. Although, I’ve found that they are quite reasonable about this as long as the language used is in the proper context. I think it’s a great site and well worth a look. I hope you enjoy it.


Topic Number Three…


            A reader sent me a newspaper article, published in the (Westchester, N. Y.) Journal News, titled, “God’s role in disasters questioned.” One of that paper’s columnists, Gary Stern, spent 14-months asking various religious people about God’s role in disasters. Mr. Stern did not attempt to pit “believers” against “non-believers. I’m not going to, either. My point, however, is that no matter the disaster, in all cases, God received a pass.


            I want you readers to feel free to believe whatever it takes to get you through the night. With me, personally, sex—and maybe a couple of beers—has always worked just fine. In fact, with the right partner… you know, the ones who keep calling out God’s name, I sometimes forget to drink the beers! Plus, it’s always provided me with a rationalized reason to “thank” God.


            Relative to “man-made” disasters like 9/11, the Virginia Tech shootings, or any of several other notable ones, several respondents claimed that such things were man-induced and God had nothing to do with them. In many cases, they claimed that such things were God’s punishment for “man’s” sinfulness, especially that gay stuff.


            This attitude seemed prevalent, particularly among conservative, religious-oriented, Republican respondents. As you may or may not know, these people don’t acknowledge the existence of gay people, just straight people living in sin.


            But, what about natural disasters? Mr. Stern wanted to know, for example, what role God played in the tsunami that hit southern Asia the day after Christmas in 2004, killing 250,000 people. There were no human elements in this one. No guns. No human plots. So, why’d God let it happen? Who pissed Him off and why?


            Mr. Stern wrote a book about this, “Can God Intervene? How Religion Explains Natural Disasters” (Praeger Publishers, 2007, $39.95). He interviewed priests, rabbis, imams, and ministers. He even spoke with some atheists—fanatical atheism is a form of religion, too, ya know.


            Anyway, the common thread emanating from the responses was that each of the interviewees was a person in a leadership role. I list some of the revelations below.


            Rabbi Harold Kushner, who wrote, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People,” said that “God does not have the power to stop the laws of nature, but He does have the power to inspire people to be charitable and brave.” (NOTE: I fear that this one is REALLY going to upset the “God is all powerful” crowd—piss them off, big time, to be crude about it.)


            A Jesuit priest, the Rev. George Coyne, past director of the Vatican Observatory claimed that, “A loving God created the universe, one that must constantly evolve. The tsunami is part of that process.”


            Additionally, various evangelical Christian leaders claimed, in absolute unison, that natural disasters are the result of either original sin or humanity’s collective sinfulness. “We can’t fool God. He does not make mistakes,” they said.


            In the Muslim world, the idea is that pain prepares us for the next life. So, it seems that disasters, natural or otherwise, are God’s way of doing us a favor. Conversely, Hindus—nonbelievers in a personal God—believe that human fate is determined by Karma, with suffering as part of the birth-death-rebirth cycle. So, dying in a tsunami is just a part of life. How else are we supposed to accomplish Karma? So, get over it.


            I’ve had numerous conversations with Fr. Coyne involving matters of natural law. He’s a brilliant man with impeccable scientific credentials. I respect him as such. I’ve also long admired the likes of the Reverend Billy Graham, Rabbi Harold Kushner, and the Rev. Dr. Robert H. Shuller of the Crystal Cathedral. It isn’t because I believe in their philosophical tenets, but because they have always made the seldom made but critical point that exclusivity has no place in religious beliefs.


            For religious leaders of any persuasion to emphasize this idea is unique. As most religious leaders, along with the respective laities, claim their respective religions to be THE only “true” religion, these three men have successfully refrained from doing so… much to their credit.


            Regardless, the underlying message from all of the respondents was, ALWAYS, to grant God a pass on the negative happenings and unyielding credit for all to the positive ones.


            Still, there is another point of view involving God and disasters… of all sorts. It’s just as valid as the those made by these renowned religious leaders. I’ll write about this point later. I’m just waiting for some self-righteous religious fanatic to piss me off. Trust me; it will happen, perhaps because of this very article. I can only hope.


            For now, though, my point is simply that the human race has granted God the ultimate in waivers. No matter how unimaginably horrible the disaster, regardless of how high the tally in human lives (devastated or killed), no matter how seemingly innocent the dead were, no matter how high the cost in property damage, God’s not responsible! It’s ALWAYS man’s fault.


            And, according to the monks and nuns of yesteryear, man had better stop his sinful masturbating. If so, maybe, just MAYBE, some of this awful stuff will stop, not to mention the distinct possibility of vastly improved eyesight! I must confess. I wear glasses. The nuns were right! God, this could be disastrous! I’m making an appointment with my eye doctor.


            But, no matter what happens, even if I have to resort to a dog and a cane, I’ll be back next week. I’m a touch typist and have no need to “see” the keyboard. I also use a digital recorder to do my pieces. So all I have to do is listen and type. Have a safe and happy July 4th celebration. Drink all you want, but don’t drive.


Joseph Walther is a freelance writer and publisher of The True Facts. Copyright laws apply to all material on this site. Send your comments. Just click here.

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