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  • Reply to: Psychological analysis of violent extremism   1 day 22 hours ago

    I had a developer trying to get a new housing development built, and he had some photos of what he envisioned it to look like. One picture showed a nice two-story house (from another development he'd built), and another picture was a big field of grass.

    The problem was, you could see both of the next-door houses crowding up against the one in the middle, and the field had zero trees in it.

    Two things the neighbors had been adamant they didn't want.

    When I tried to explain that to him over coffee a few weeks later, he just didn't seem to get it. He liked those pictures dadgummit, and the neighbors were just being uncooperative.

  • Reply to: Psychological analysis of violent extremism   2 days 14 hours ago

    This kind of understanding of the human brain is necessary when candidates or parties set out to 'message' to the public. To be effective, messaging has to be worded to cut through whatever is going through the mind of the recipient.
    We tend to presume that everyone thinks the way we do. Yet, they don't

  • Reply to: Sunday News: From the Editorial pages   3 days 53 min ago

    If you're easily offended, you should probably skip this comment. But if you're a politician or leader of an ostensibly secular organization, I would prefer you didn't. The separation of church and state is a core tenet of our democracy, and we all have a role to play in the preservation of that wall.

    The above letter about having to opt-out is a prime example of the laziness (that's right, I said it) of members of our government in folding to religious organizations and allowing them to take over parts of our social safety net. Homelessness and drug addiction are two areas where they have planted that (mostly Christian) flag. In most cases, if you are in need of assistance in those areas, you are forced to endure religiosity on a daily (or hourly) basis, and if you don't at least pay lip service to it, your very survival can be put in jeopardy.

    You think I'm verging on hyperbole? Have you ever been in rehab or forced to sleep in a shelter? If not, don't be so ready to dismiss this issue.

    I have been in rehab, many years ago, and there's a reason why so many AA meetings are held in churches. That's where the Higher Power resides, and where all your moral failings can be accepted if only you will seek that power. It is not a sickness of the body, it is a sickness of the soul, and faith is the only cure.

    But what they won't tell you: that Higher Power is the perfect foil. If you relapse, that power has either let you down or you let it down. Your faith wavered, and you crashed. Science is simply not involved. Genetic pre-disposition to substance abuse? Untreated depression and/or other chemical imbalance? Nonsense. You just need to crack open that King James Version more often, and avoid books and music that are (apparently) put out there to test your faith.

    But it's not simply religiosity that is the problem. By surrendering control over faith-based organizations that "provide" drug and alcohol treatment programs, government very often facilitates human rights violations. Many of these programs send patients out to work for their bed and board, generating a stream of income for the proprietors. And they employ tactics to avoid scrutiny on labor laws; work 8 hours in one place, and then get bused to another location for 6-8 more hours. That's not treatment, it's slavery. And we allow it to happen.

    And then there's government prayer, another issue we tolerate. I was asked about that during a candidate forum, and my inability to lie once again worked against me. I said something along the lines of, "The more specific it gets, the bigger the problem." I tried to explain how ending a prayer "In Jesus' name" was exclusionary, cutting out Jews and Muslims alike. And when I went on the explain that God/Allah/Yahweh was the same deity, thus invoking "God" was more inclusive, I thought I was about to be crucified.

    But I hadn't dug a deep enough hole yet. Oh no. I told them when Jesus flipped the tables of the moneylenders, it wasn't because of what they were doing, it was because of where they were doing it. In the Temple. Just as that was not the proper place for commerce, the town hall was not the proper place for worship.

    Blasphemy!

    The truth is, we all need to fight this battle. Not just secularists, but those of you who practice religion, also. Especially those of you who are religious. The danger goes both ways, and the blurring of those lines can only lead to the downfall of society, as we know it.

  • Reply to: Dark Robinson   6 days 14 hours ago

    ... use a psychological strategy of intimidation, anger, and fear.

    Democrats, especially here in NC, seem to think that logic and common sense will win the day.

    It doesn't when you're up against what are essentially fascist psy-ops tactics.

    Remember that Nazis came to power by making just enough of a majority of the German public worked up with irrational fears about racial and religious minorities, communists, intellectuals, "immoral" homosexuals and artists, and the doom of national and personal impotency. These are all the same themes Republicans and the PACs working on their behalf relentlessly drive home in campaigns and right-wing media today. And this rhetoric is sprinkled with just the same vague calls for violence and "on the ground" action against perceived enemies.

  • Reply to: Dark Robinson   1 week 18 hours ago

    Exactly the kind of hater Magas love to vote for.