Syria: Don’t let constant conflict desensitize you

*Iowa State Daily editorial by Ian Timberlake*

We all remember where we were the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, when four airplanes went down, strategically killing 3,000 Americans and other global citizens. Much of Iowa State’s student body was still on the better half of a decade old but without a doubt the national sentiment was to go and find out who would commit such an atrocity and then go and imprison them, if not kill them.

Americans are now tired of war; as we approach the 12th anniversary to the attack on our soil, Americans have been largely separated from the battles our soldiers have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, including any conflict in other places of political and civil unrest. Of course, we are aware of the war through what the media tells us and what our soldiers tell us when they come home, but largely, we are disconnected.

This disconnection easily widens when the citizens of our nation don’t need to worry about a draft via the selective service registration that all men ages 18 to 25 are required to sign. With plenty of brave men and women willing to volunteer their lives for the safety and freedom of the United States, most American citizens can have the luxury of not worrying whether or not they’re going to be bombed today or tomorrow.

War lingo — KIA, MIA, POW, death toll, casualties and injured — becomes unfortunate numbers on screens, letters on paper and conversations in coffee shops. After many exhausting years of conflict overseas, having seen or participated in none of it, Americans have become desensitized.

Syria has been in civil war since 2011 when President Bashar al-Assad ordered the quelling of protesters by use of deadly force. In July 2013, the United Nations reported that the Syrian death toll had surpassed 100,000 with over half of those being civilian. Again, these are just numbers to us — but that would be equivalent to leveling half of Des Moines.

With tensions and deaths rising over the past two years, President Barack Obama said the line was just crossed when al-Assad dropped chemical weapons on his own people, killing nearly 1,500 civilians. Maybe justly so, many Americans are crying for Obama to not do anything with Syria — or at least wait for the United Nations to come to a collective decision.

Of course nobody wants war; Obama was elected in part to end war. But we can’t let our disconnection and desensitization effect our opinion of the moral implications of a leader committing genocide through (the feared term) weapons of mass destruction.

Whether or not you have an opinion on America’s potential involvement with Syria, it looks as if our government is leaning toward us getting involved to some extent, pending congressional approval. As a nation, we have a responsibility to keep up with the world’s happenings. We can’t let the lack of a draft, the lack of media and political transparency and excess nationalism desensitize us from the reality of the Syrian conflict and its relation to the United States and global interests.

 

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Satire: Miley Cyrus at the VMAs and the height of artistic culture

*Iowa State Daily column by Ian Timberlake*

If Michael Jackson was the king of pop, Miley Cyrus is certainly the queen. She has brought twerking to the stage the way that Michael did with the moon walk. Her tongue is more iconic than Kiss. And she has become a renaissance woman for defining female talent, grace and beauty.

The MTV Video Music Awards not only has grown since the 1980s to facilitate the greatest artistic performances to date but also has built a reputation as having one of the most sophisticated, cultured audiences in the world for both music and video. Surpassing the Grammys in credibility and performance, the VMAs are one of the few remaining annually appearing programs worth watching. Outside of the Teen Choice Awards and Shark Week, there really isn’t much competition.

The venerable Lady Gaga, a symbol of musical mastery and empowerment in her own, was overshadowed by Miley’s performance. Snooki’s comment that Lady Gaga looked “so natural” was the last nail in Gaga’s coffin. Obviously, the remark showed how Lady Gaga’s talent and sexual prowess is waning and shifting to the younger, more talented Cyrus.

Music and movie critics are anticipating an even greater coming of age story for Miley, who turns 21 this November, as she begins to experiment with things like Keystone Light and Hawkeye. We should expect even greater things to come as a result of this up and coming transition. Who knows what sort of creativity and avant-garde material will revolutionize entertainment and its patrons as the artistic Miley continues to blossom.

Miley’s father, the famous Billy Ray Cyrus tweeted: “Thanking God for so many blessings tonight. Continue to pray for world peace. More love … less hate.” Many people are confused by his tweets and want him to clarify exactly what hate he was referring to, as his daughter has been received with only love and affection after her VMA appearance.

But Robin Thicke bit off more than he could chew, as I don’t think he kept up with Miley’s show-stopping performance. I’m sure all he was enthralled with was the simple opportunity to perform a duet with Miley. Robin’s mother was nearly in tears and has since said: “I can never unsee it.” Miley and Robin’s performance set a new Twitter record at 306,000 tweets per minute.

The VMAs had 10.1 million live television viewers, most of whom were sophisticated, connoisseurs of the arts. Only the most sophisticated and cultured of individuals tune in to a program that features an artist with six top-10 hits and 29 top-100 hits and has gone platinum. Only the most musically inclined people will take time out of their day to watch the VMAs, and only the most stylistically inclined people will take time out of their day to assess the elegant couture of the fellow elegant.

There were, however, some serious style faux-pas. Too many artists donned fedoras, apparently in an attempt to break the association with its balding, D&D playing wearers. Rihanna came in a dress cut all the way up to her hips, and in a flighty passion to follow the ever-changing trend, other celebrities took scissors up their slips before stepping foot outside their anti-paparazzi wagons — Alec Baldwin, who stylishly left his wagon at home, had an offending paparazzo bent over the hood of a car. In similar fashion, Lady Gaga rebelled by not cutting her dress at all.

Justin Timberlake might have had an excuse to wear his fedora as he won the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Lifetime Achievement Award for having a “profound effect on MTV culture.” It is an award Miley Cyrus surely should have won but she was probably too young and ahead of her time. The VMAs’ audience of sophisticated people surely understand.

Miley made fashion headlines by proudly rocking bedazzled yoga pants, ruby red lipstick and a long tongue. I wouldn’t be surprised if we started seeing more tongues on the red carpet, on stage and eventually on your everyday street. Kiss might have been the father of the tongue, but Miley is its revolutionary. The tongue has left the cheek.

I feel honored to have grown up in the media age where networks like MTV can broadcast such raw talent to millions of captivated and sophisticated individuals. Sometimes practice doesn’t make perfect, sometimes people are just born with talent like Miley’s and it warrants our undivided attention. We of the cultured audience will watch avidly as Miley continues to skillfully revolutionize modern pop.

Miley’s performance was a stunning addition to the time-tested glamour and sophistication of the VMAs. We as a nation owe a debt of gratitude to our new queen of pop for showing us new heights of cultural elegance and talent.

 

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A retrospective look at the Zimmerman – Martin case

*Iowa State Daily column by Ian Timberlake*

Across the country within the last couple months, Americans have been protesting the trial of George Zimmerman, demanding justice. The only problem, the verdict defined the servitude of justice. I never wanted to get involved with such a topic but the public just won’t let it go.

I was in Houston the fourth week of July where Zimmerman protesters lined the highways, only the week before blocking them. The level of vapidness was astounding. I don’t pay attention to the media-sensationalized court cases that sprout up every six months or so mostly because I don’t think they deserve my attention. Relatively speaking, cases like Zimmerman’s happen all the time. There is no reason that this particular case should be nationalized, let alone internationalized.

Regardless of innocence, cases that are sensationalized into soap operas end up decimating the lifestyles of those involved. I doubt many would be interested in gaining celebrity status over such a high-stakes legal argument where you or someone you know will spend the rest of their life in prison because of how a few sentences in the law are worded.

With that said, every human seemingly needs to point a finger whenever a wrong occurs. I could argue it as human impulse, action and reaction. In reality, it is possible for no fault to be had even in a situation where someone loses their life. Obviously, this is the result the jurors came to in the Florida v. Zimmerman case.

While Albert Einstein wasn’t exactly a social activist, some of his thoughts are relevant to public reaction on the trial: “Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.”

With this, Einstein is saying that not many can keep calm and composed when a difficult decision is made that goes against the person’s social prejudices on which they were raised on.

In our courts of law, someone is innocent until proven guilty. Hopefully it is clearly understood why this is the case. The fact remains that if it is unclear who is at fault, if there is fault, then a guilty verdict cannot be reached. Martin was a 17-year-old, 6-foot-tall male who, according to forensics, physically beat up Zimmerman. And Zimmerman shot Martin, accordingly in an act of self defense. Believe what you will.

May I ask what would have happened if an identical Zimmerman-Martin case had happened between two black men? How about two white men? Or a black man killing a white man? Or any of the other race combinations you can think of. How would the reaction change in the media or the public?

Zimmerman was mixed Hispanic, not white (if that means anything in regards to the questions I just asked you). He was a neighborhood watchman enacting his volunteer duty. Did he discriminate because Martin was black? Possibly. Should he have been carrying a gun as a neighborhood watchman? Probably not. Was any of this activity illegal? No.

What is unclear is who instigated the fight. Some say it was Martin, some say it was Zimmerman. In the end, Zimmerman fired a shot because he felt his life was in danger (whether he was the instigator or not). This was an incident that was absolutely avoidable and completely unnecessary, and truly had no decidable victim, which means that no truly decidable conviction could be made. A person on trial shouldn’t be someone who is trying to extinguish guilt, it should be someone who is defending their innocents.

Was Zimmerman innocent? The only two people who will ever know are Martin and Zimmerman, but not enough evidence existed to convict Zimmerman of second degree murder or manslaughter.

Which brings me back around to my point about justice. Justice was served whether you and all the protesters believe it or not. It was served in the fact that we didn’t put a potentially innocent person in prison for the rest of their life, a reality that our justice system finds itself getting caught in over and over again and unfortunately only discovers the false accusation and imprisonment many years later. Years that no amount of money can mend.

The Zimmerman-Martin trial wasn’t a matter of racial profiling as the NAACP or many citizens are trying to make it out to be. It was simply a case where a man remained “innocent” because nothing could legitimately prove him guilty of murder or manslaughter.

 

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“Educational” television fails to educate

 

*Iowa State Daily column by Ian Timberlake*

Behold: the recently or currently running TV programs from The Learning Channel, The History Channel and The Discovery Channel, respectively:

 

“19 Kids and Counting,” “America’s Worst Tattoos,” “Breaking Amish: Brave New World,” “Breaking Amish: Los Angeles,” “Cake Boss,” “Cheer Perfection,” “DC Cupcakes,” “Extreme Cheapskates,” “Extreme Cougar Wives,” “Extreme Couponing,” “Family S.O.S,” “Four Houses, Four Weddings,” “Gypsy Sisters,” “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” “Hoarding: Buried Alive,” “I Found the Gown,” “Little Couple,” “Little People Big World: Wedding Farm,” “Long Island Medium,” “Mario & Courtney’s Wedding Fiesta,” “My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding,” “My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding,” “My Crazy Obsession,” “My First Home,” “My Strange Addiction,” “My Teen is Pregnant & So Am I,” “Next Great Baker,” “NYink,” “Randy to the Rescue,” “Say Yes To The Dress,” “Say Yes To The Dress: Atlanta,” “Say Yes To The Dress: Bridesmaids,” “Secret Princess,” “Sister Wives,” “Something Borrowed Something New,” “Strange Sex,” “Take Charge of your Every Day,” “Toddlers & Tiaras,” “Virgin Diaries,” “Wedding Island,” “Welcome to Myrtle Manor,” “What Not To Wear,” “Who Do You Think You Are — America The Story of Us,” “American Pickers,” American Restoration,” “Ax Men,” “Bamazon,” “The Bible,” “Big Rig Bounty Hunters,” “Bonnie & Clyde,” “Cajun Pawn Stars,” “Chasing Tail,” “Counting Cars,” “Counting Cars: After Hours,” “Gangland,” “Gettysburg,” “God Guns & Automobiles,” “Hatfields & McCoys,” “Hatfields & McCoys: White Lightning,” “History Films,” “I love the 1880s,” “Ice Road Truckers Deadliest Roads,” “Ice Road Truckers,” “The Legend of Shelby the Swamp Man,” “Mankind the Story of Us,” “The Men Who Built America,” “Mountain Men,” “Only In America with Larry the Cable Guy,” “Outback Hunters,” “Pawn Stars,” “The Real Face of Jesus,” “Star Trek: Secrets of the Universe,” “Swamp People,” “Swamp People: After the Hunt,” “Top Gear America,” “Top Shots,” “The Ultimate Guide to the Presidents,” “Vietnam in HD,” “Vikings,” “WWII in HD,” “We’re the Fugawis — Gold Rush South America,” “Tickle,” “Porter Ridge,” “Jungle Gold,” “Amish Mafia,” “Airplane Repo,” “Shark Week,” “Fast N’ Loud,” “Mythbusters,” “Naked and Afraid,” “Deadliest Catch,” “Moonshiners,” “Africa,” “Alaska: The Last Frontier,” “Auction Kings,” “Backyard Oil,” “Bering Sea Gold,” “The Big Brain Theory: Pure Genius,” “Blade Brothers,” “Blood and Oil,” “Cash Cab,” “Curiosity,” “The Devils Ride,” “Dirty Jobs,” “Dual Survival,” “Frozen Planet,” “Great Bear Stakeout,” “Klondike,” “Life,” “Man Vs. Wild,” “Naked Castaway,” “North America,” “Philly Throttle,” “Planet Earth,” “Pot Cops,” “Property Wars,” “Saint Hoods,” “Skywire Live,” “Sons of Guns,” “Storm Chasers,” “Street Outlaws,” “Test Tube,” “Texas Car Wars,” “Warlocks Rising,” “Weed Country,” “Yukon Men.”

 

 

 

If you made it through that list, hopefully you noticed the severe lack of programs that aren’t sensationalized blue-collar drama. There are a few diamonds in the rough, though, some of which being reruns.

 

Not many people know that TLC was created in 1972 by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare along with NASA and was distributed for free via NASA satellites. Several years after its founding, in 1980, the channel was privatized but continued its devotion to educational documentaries. In the late 1990s, TLC took a turn for the worse, and now there isn’t a single educational program running. Discovery Channel and History Channel have a few programs that could be considered educational, but they are few and far between.

 

In June 2011, I put my TV on the top shelf of my closet, and it stayed there until about three weeks ago when I moved into a new apartment. In all likelihood it will go back up into my closet. There isn’t anything of value on TV anymore outside of a handful of entertaining fictional shows that can all be found online. News programs are becoming ever more biased, and sports networks are more or less irrelevant unless you’re catching a high stakes game.

 

Discovery and TLC are owned by Discovery Communications which owns smaller channels like Animal Planet, Science and Military History. These networks are not nearly as commonplace, but they contain highly educational material. The unique thing about these three channels is they were born out of moving them from Discovery, TLC and The History Channel (which is owned by Disney) to make room for the “reality” television shows that fill the current time slots.

 

Out of simple protest, I’m not giving these networks my time or money until they start living up to their supposed directives. I suggest you remove yourself from mindless television shows populating these major channels. You can count on me mailing this to the owners of these major networks — it’s just one more thing making our society and our daily lives more dramatic and less intelligent.

 

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Advice for college freshman

Freshman, listen. I’m going to tell you things you might not have heard from your Destination Iowa State leaders. Returning students, please give this to any incoming students who may not know about the Daily.

First of all, if you want to be a part of the ever-awesome campus culture of Iowa State, ditch your red shoestring backpack and use it only for going to the gym. Returning students use “the red backpack” as a freshman designator. Yes, this includes the lanyards.

While there is nothing wrong with being a freshman — we’ve all been there — you don’t want to unknowingly ostracize yourself from the broader community. My column will give you a few words of wisdom I’ve accumulated during the past five years that I wish someone would have told me before I stepped foot out of my dorm… where you’re told you have the right of way at the crosswalk (which is true) and think that warrants blind entry into the roadway. Vehicles will still kill you.

Dorm living is interesting. It’s an experience I think everyone should go through at least once, but it’s definitely something that you might be glad to move on from a year or two down the road. It’s almost a rite of passage. The people you live with will either be people you stay friends with for many years to come, or they will be people you make every effort to exclude yourself from.

I suggest you make an effort to at least get to know your floormates and participate in extracurriculars with them at least once. At the very minimum: steal someone’s towel, write “gullible” on the ceiling, and get your water fountain signed by Shawn Johnson (true story).

Move out of the dorms after no more than two years. For me, I should’ve moved out after the first year but ended up staying through my second year. Hindsight is 20/20. Off-campus living is far less expensive, and you have far better amenities, such as more space and independence, not to mention you pay out the butt for meal plans. Trust me, it’s far too much money per meal. With that said, just because your meals are essentially buffet-style doesn’t mean you should consume yourself to death.

Another thing: Don’t drink yourself to death. Drink smart. We all know that you come to college with parties on your mind. There’s nothing wrong with going out and having fun; on my second night at Iowa State, the police stopped me for swimming in the Memorial Union fountain. Remember why you’re here and how much money you/someone is paying for your education. Alcohol is a quick road to disaster if you don’t keep yourself in friendly company. Drinking friends aren’t real friends. Also, don’t drink bad alcohol and don’t get sloshed more often than you call your grandmother.

Rape is a real thing in college towns and alcohol makes it too easy. All of you, especially the ladies, should program 29-ALERT in your phone for anonymous sexual assault support 24 hours a day. Go out and get yourself some pepper spray with the ultraviolet dye as a just-in-case. I have more than one friend, including men, who has been sexually assaulted in their time at Iowa State. If you’re on campus and need any kind of help, call the Help Van and Safety Escort at 515-294-4444.

There are plenty of people on campus willing to help you, including your advisers. But take their advice with a grain of salt. Your advisers will often be some of your favorite people to talk to, and a lot of them are great at their jobs, but (with rarity) what they say can be all hat and no cattle, so always double-check what your advisers tell you so you never have to retake a class or drop a class when you don’t actually need to. This can be so subtle, but so impacting that you have to tag on an unnecessary semester to college.

Lastly, respect your roommates. It’s not OK to use their stuff without permission. It’s not OK to blast music without their permission. It’s not OK to lock them out while you have sex. It’s not OK to have sex with someone while they are currently in the room. It’s not OK to not shower for days without their permission. It’s not OK to be passive-aggressive, ever. Nobody wants that.

Enjoy your time at Iowa State. There’s a reason why your parents say college was the best time of their life. You’ll change in ways you never thought possible. You will learn things you never dreamed of. You will experience things you’ll take to your deathbed. If you take anything from this, know that your professors don’t teach you what to learn, they teach you how to learn. It’s all on you.

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Boy Scouts: “Be Prepared” to lose some weight

*Iowa State Daily column by Ian Timberlake*

You’re too fat: Not quite the precise words, but definitely the message the Boy Scouts of America is sending.

Every four years, the Boy Scouts of America holds a National Jamboree to which boys from all over the world gather in numbers greater than 40,000 and participate in activities such as mountain biking, rock climbing, scuba diving, zip lining, skateboarding, shooting and more. The Jamboree has taken place since 1937, when campers slept at the base of the Washington Monument and had speakers including President Franklin Roosevelt.

This year, the National Jamboree enacted a strict fitness requirement that must be met in order to participate in the event. Boy Scouts with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or greater were barred from the event in its entirety. Those who had a BMI between 32 and 40 had to provide ample health information from a doctor in order to be considered to join the Jamboree.

If it’s not about being gay, it’s about being black, or atheist, or Jewish or in this case… fat. At least that’s what first knotted in my head and probably the rest of yours when you saw this headline appear in your news feed. The Boy Scouts of America is failing miserably in this effort to push for health, fitness and safety.

I have written about the Boy Scouts many times, mostly because 14 years of my life were spent attaining the rank the of Eagle Scout. I have a love-hate relationship with the good ol’ class-A uniform. But at this moment I believe the Boy Scouts of America means well. The problem is this new weight policy sounds more like a punishment than an incentive to get in shape.

The last thing an overweight child needs is to feel like they aren’t worthy of participating in more physically demanding activities. It’s because the child is not active that they are overweight, not the other way around.

To be clear, a BMI of 30 or greater is considered “obese” (neglecting consideration of the inaccuracies of the measure). If any scout has a BMI of 40 or greater, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say their health, and life, was in jeopardy. According to the BSA’s official Jamboree website:

“A lot of things about the jamboree at our new home, the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve, are different from past jamborees. The Summit is a physically demanding facility, and minimum physical fitness standards will be enforced. While the jamboree is not as strenuous as an extended high-adventure trek, it will be appreciably more demanding than the jamborees held at Fort A.P. Hill. We want your 2013 National Scout Jamboree experience to be the best 10 days of your life! Please read carefully the Be Prepared policy.”

Nation-changing organizations like the Boy Scouts of America need to help lead the way with civil betterment. It took them long enough to get rid of their rules against gays (and it’s still not fully abolished). An appropriate method of promoting health and fitness would be to allow any and all body types to participate but at appropriate levels that push personal ability.

Kids who are overweight need to be given the priority to participate in activities such as the National Scout Jamboree. Obesity is a significant problem in America, and it keeps getting worse. America is the butt-end of the obesity jokes for the rest of the world, a somewhat deserved status.

The Boy Scouts of America National Council may have appropriately deemed the new Jamboree too strenuous for obese children, but that doesn’t grant a simple barring of any child “incapable” of the said activities. If the Boy Scouts want to facilitate a jamboree that promotes fitness and health then they should start by making the environment accepting of those who aren’t already fit and healthy. As in previous matters, I urge you to write to the National Council and express your opinion in regards to this matter. Help the BSA, help America.

Boy Scouts of America, National Council

1325 West Walnut Hill Lane

Irving, Texas 75015-2079

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Strut your stuff: Gay Pride

*Iowa State Daily column by Ian Timberlake*

On June 30, 2013, I participated in my first LGBT Pride Parade. My day started out by waking up at six in the morning, picking up a couple of friends, riding the Metro into Chicago’s loop on a beautiful summer Sunday morning and preparing for the world’s single greatest celebration of equality.

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The train ride into the city was full of rainbows and glitter. People were pouring into Chicago from all directions, at every moment of the day, via every mode of transportation and it became quickly apparent that the easiest way to navigate from the Metro, to the Loop, to Boystown was to simply “follow the rainbows.”

So, we followed the rainbows. We boarded the elevated rail for north Chicago’s Belmont Avenue and walked off into a sea of fabulousness. One of the first things I saw was two women sporting nearly-nude pairs of breasts, confidently walking by a gaggle of Chicago police officers. The next thing I saw was the bare behind of an equally confident man.

To Belmont, the train car we chose happened to be full of mostly female high schoolers all decked out in Pridewear – in less clothing than their parents would care to see. While scoffing at the brace-faced, underwear-clad 14-year-old, I was simultaneously thinking about what freedom means to an adolescent growing up to inevitable adulthood. I became lucid in the idea that that experience could be pivotal in their maturing.

Those who have long matured and are old enough to be the grandfather of said 14-year-old have already lived a lifetime of marriage and sexual discrimination, whether they were straight or not. Between the older generation and the pubescent, age mattered little, and everyone revelled in the celebration of freedom.

Walking through the crowd of more than one million people, the fascination continued. In the same cluster of people, there would be a typical suburban-esque family talking with a “Dykes on Bikes” couple and a transvestite. If you have a better example of breaking barriers, I’d love to hear it.

I was happy to see parents taking children as young as 3 years old to Pride. It shows there is hope for a future America that will be less discriminatory and offer more freedom than ever before. These children will grow up knowing that a straight person is not better than a gay person, and that marriage and sex is not controlled nor defined by heterosexuals.

Pride is not exclusively a celebration of the LGBT community. Predominantly it is, and is definitely how it started 44 years ago in Chicago, but it has since evolved into a celebration of freedom and human rights. Natural born rights of love and freedom of expression as well as the desire for removal of victimless crimes are what define Pride.

The Pride Parade is the be-all-end-all form of public displays of freedom; I would even argue that you’re not a true American until you’ve been to a Pride parade or minimally entertained the idea.

 

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Faith healing or faith killing?

Faith-healing, the immoral act of neglecting a person’s well-being to the point of death on the basis that modern science is ineffective or worse at healing than simply having a belief in a god.

At least that’s my definition.

The American Cancer Society says, “Faith healing is founded on the belief that certain people or places have the ability to cure and heal—that someone or something can eliminate disease or heal injuries through a close connection to a higher power.” and that,“available scientific evidence does not support claims that faith healing can actually cure physical ailments.”

The word “faith”, in itself, is already an oxymoron in regards to medicine. “Faith” is literally the belief in something in the absence of evidence. So “faith-healing” by definition would be comparable to trying to fly an airplane on the moon and wondering why you can’t get anywhere.

The beauty of a placebo effect means that anyone, so long as they truly believe in something (religious or not), will physically and mentally feel better. Obviously, this doesn’t correlate with long-term actual healing.

Already all over the news is the story of the Philadelphia couple, Herbert and Catherine Schaible, who were just charged with third degree murder for resorting to faith-healing when two of their children in the last four years weren’t treated for pneumonia and died. Cases like these crop up multiple times a year and it saddens me knowing that the kids nearly always have no say in the matter.

The real question that must be asked is whether or not this constitutes as murder.

The Schaibles, and many other fundamentalist families out there, follow a practice that is beyond medieval. Even bloodletting, which dates back to the time of Jesus, is considered unholy practice… oddly enough.

There are many scripts in the Bible that could loosely, with bending, refer to what might be called “faith-healing”, none of which speak of “medicine” as medicine in the practical and functional sense was non-existent 2000 years ago.

The nearest interpretation is probably from James 5:13-16, “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

It seems the Schaibles and other fundies have made their beliefs mostly on the synthesized belief that the Bible somehow talks about medicine. The Schaibles said that, “[Medicine] is against our religious beliefs”, and that, “It means that we pray and ask to be healed the way that Jesus did when he was on Earth.”

So I’ll ask again, does freedom of and from religion grant the right to willful medicinal negligence of another human with a severe, potentially lethal, illness?

The obviously moral answer should be, “no”.

In my eyes, faith-healing should be non-permissible unless you are of legal adult age and the decision itself made only by the individual undergoing the “healing.” This way the consequences of the faith-healing are only on the individual requesting it.

Parents who faith-heal their children (where they have no choice in the matter) should be massively fined and potentially placed in prison depending on the gravity of the illness.

No matter the age or era, society or religion, no human should ever make a decision that infringes on the rights and freedoms of another individual… even if both are oblivious to the infringements. Religious freedom does not extend to someone other than yourself, even your child.

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Rick Perry vetoes a bill that passed 145-0

*Iowa State Daily column by Ian Timberlake*

Imagine this. In today’s political world, where people side with issues because they happen to conform with political affiliation, we can actually still achieve a rare bipartisan agreement on an issue… even Texas!

At the very end of May, the Texas Senate and House passed a bill called, “Buy American.” Paraphrasing, this bill stated that should a foreign good and an American good be of equal quality and of equal cost, preferential treatment would be given to the American good. It is an expansion of a law that already is in place, but in this instance, focuses on manufactured goods.

The reason? Because many Texas factories have been closing as of late due to outsourced manufacturing goods, effectively saving the state and its citizens some money but also increasing unemployment. The bill would keep money in Texas while simultaneously creating jobs.

Rick Perry, the Republican presidential candidate, happened to be one of the most boisterous when it came to the creating jobs speech. He also happens to be the governor of Texas.

This bill was passed in the Texas Senate with a vote of 23-7 and in the House with a vote of 145-0, a 97 percent legislature approval.

Gov. Rick Perry vetoed it.

You can defend Rick Perry and his intentions all you want, but it is hard to argue against a bill vetoed with 97 percent approval. This wasn’t even remotely what I consider partisan.

Can you imagine if this man was elected president? We both know he wasn’t the chosen republican candidate to run against President Obama. How has he even maintained 12 years in the Governor’s office? Gov. Rick Perry set a record number of 82 vetoes in a single session, nine fewer than President Bush did in three sessions.

Normally, you might think the end of the Buy American bill hasn’t quite happened. There is an opportunity for the House and Senate of Texas to override the veto. The veto override vote will likely take place sometime around the time of this publication and requires a two-thirds majority from both chambers. While two-thirds should easily be reached, historically only about 10 percent of vetoes get overridden due to both scheduling and a short amount of time allotted for override.

Except, contrary to what you might have heard on national networks, this won’t be possible. Texas and Montana are the only two states that only meet in the few months after an election and then never reconvene during the two year term. The Buy American bill was introduced to the governor weeks before May 27th, the day of the end of the regular session, but sat on the bill until May 25th (Memorial Day weekend). So if vetoed, the chambers could not override the veto.

How’s that for a system of checks-and-balances?

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Be honest about your religious beliefs

*Iowa State Daily column by Ian Timberlake*

It is humorous to hear someone claim they are Christian, only to find out later through winded discussion that they really don’t believe much in the biblical text. Isn’t that what it means to be a Christian? Following the teachings of the Bible? If not, then what separates a “loose” Christian from a “loose” Muslim, or Jew, or Greek Path?

Nothing.

If you claim a religion because it symbolizes a way to live out your life but you don’t adhere to a majority of the unique (I stress “unique”) teachings, then you are just living a falsehood, especially if you claim only specific teachings. An atheist, agnostic, or deist that gets their morals and “teachings” from things like “the golden rule”, are no different than a “Christian” who chooses what to believe out of their religious text.

Someone who believes in a higher power, a god, if you will, but does not subscribe to a belief system or rejects the idea of a god that intervenes, would conventionally be called a “deist”. Today, those that call themselves “liberal” or “progressive” Christians, are most likely a deist or undecided/indifferent believer. They have just failed to come to terms with it or lack the care to do so.

At what point is the Bible to be taken literally or metaphorically? Everyone has a different account, unless you take the script at one hundred percent face value and you don’t boil your child in mother’s milk because it says so, a line that can be taken literally and metaphorically.

If the entire text is so metaphorical and malleable, what is the point in choosing that religion? It has nothing to do with morals and everything to do with how you were raised. Don’t tell me that humans didn’t have the capacity to restrain themselves from murder until they reached the foothills of Mount Sinai, or that you would suddenly go on a raping spree if you didn’t believe in a god. Morality can be just as easily explained with evolution as biology can.

Apologists might say that religion can be different for everyone, giving way to such malleable interpretations that literally are opposite that of the religious text. If you are against homosexual marriage, something that the bible speaks very little of and without reference to Jesus, then you most surely must be against divorce, or sex before marriage, or haircuts. And for the owning of slaves and ownership and control of women.

Which leads me to find humor when I see an online dating profile that claims “Christianity — and very serious about it”, but lists “casual sex” as to what they are looking for, has tattoos, and advocates for feminism.

At what point do you stop and say that you aren’t living Christian? Or any other religion for that matter.

I’m an atheist for many reasons. Atheist is often defined as a “freethinker”, which the Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics defines as: “[A]n individual should not accept ideas proposed as truth without recourse to knowledge and reason. Thus, freethinkers strive to build their opinions on the basis of facts, scientific inquiry, and logical principles, independent of any logical fallacies or the intellectually limiting effects of authority, confirmation bias, cognitive bias, conventional wisdom, popular culture, prejudice, sectarianism, tradition, urban legend, and all other dogmas. Regarding religion, freethinkers hold that there is insufficient evidence to support the existence of supernatural phenomena.”

I didn’t really call myself an atheist until the middle of high school and even then, I wasn’t so outspoken about it for fear of negative reaction. Although before then, I don’t ever recall having a reason to believe in a god like the Christian one that so many people in my demographic followed. It seemed silly to me that so many people were reading the Bible in bits and pieces. As early as elementary school I remember being confused by this.

I am an atheist, and I have read the Bible cover to cover… not many people I know, who claim Christianity, can say that. I find that a bit ironic.

What I ask of you is to question exactly what it is you believe and to be honest with yourself. If you claim Christianity, or any other religion for that matter, own up to what it instructs. If your metaphorical interpretation isn’t remotely in line with the literal, it likely isn’t the way it’s meant to be interpreted.

If your interpretation of the Bible is so loose that you “pick and choose” or take it as a broad swathing metaphor, you probably aren’t any more Christian than an agnostic or deist because the difference between that and any other broad swathing religion is zilch.

 

 

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