Monday, August 16, 2010

Putting things to rest through rules

Rule #162: Thin skin deep

If you're so shallow that you feel the need to compare and contrast the looks of Democratic women and Republican women, at least be fair. Nancy Pelosi doesn't look half bad, considering she's 70 years old. Helen Thomas is 90 and also a bad partisan example. And anyone can look ugly in harsh light and when caught mid-sentence.

It also doesn't bolster your case for the GOP to pad your list with publicity shots of hot pundits and decades-old shots of random sexpot actresses, when the Democrats are mostly veteran politicians and reporters.

Just like with most things, you can cherry-pick to make either side smoking hot or a gigantic smoldering pile of ugly sticks. In the end, it doesn't matter, because it's what's inside those heads that counts. And these days, there's little competition in that matchup.

Rule #163: Square deal

Stop being so outraged that someone wants to put a mosque in Times Square. For one thing, it's not actually on Ground Zero — it's several blocks away from the fast-food franchises and other buck-turning businesses surrounding that hallowed ground. Second, it's merely a new location for an already-existing mosque that's outgrown its current abode, which by the way is nearby. Third, it's run by American Muslims who thought the 9/11 attacks were a tragedy just like the rest of us. Fourth, there are so many worse things going on that directly affect us in this world that we should be concerned about without the latest Fox-fueled false outrage.

Finally, the reason you should shut up about it is because your bigotry is showing. Islam is no more a religion of hate than Christianity or any other; every religion has its group of fundamentalists who are willing to kill in its god's name and/or use said name as an excuse to exert control. It might seem like that's the exclusive province of Muslims, but a quick glance at a history book shows that Christianity had a virtual lock on that for many, many eras. And yet, most Americans don't go around calling Christianity "a religion of violence." In fact, most of those outraged by the mosque appear to align themselves with the Christian religion. Apparently, that's OK because during the Crusades and the Inquisition, atrocities were the product of extremists who didn't represent the majority of followers. Not like Islam, where every single adherent thinks exactly alike.

Any American group legally exercising its religion and property rights has a spot at the table. As long as they aren't infringing on anyone else's freedom, they have a right to do what they want. Anyone who doesn't object to a church being there should also be OK with the mosque. In fact, I can't think of a better way to prove our higher ground as Americans than to allow the mosque in Times Square. It shows that we are a nation of laws, rights and liberty, even in the face of fear. And that's a better stand against terrorism than any discrimination or bomb.


Tom Alday said...

Hey, if terrorist group Hamas wants it built, it must be good, right..right?

Oh, by the way, you're late to the story Mr Journalist -

Ian McGibboney said...

Well, al-Qaida endorsed Bush in 2004. What's your point?

As for the decision to not build it, I have yet to see that on any reputable news site. So your crack is not only unnecessary, but stupid.

Jenni said...

Construction of the mosque off-site of Ground Zero is protected under the “Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act” (RLUIPA). RLUIPA protects individuals, places of worship, and other religious institutions from discrimination and undue burden under existing zoning and landmarking laws. Additionally, zoning and landmark laws cannot:
1. Treat churches or other religious organizations less than nonreligious institutions
2. Discriminate against assemblies or organizations based on religious denomination
3. Totally exclude religious assemblies within a jurisdiction; or
4. Limit religious assemblies, institutions, or structures within a jurisdiction

Simply put, if New York City were to deny a building permit, organizers could appeal and apply RLUIPA. This would put the burden on the city to defend why the denial occurred in the first place. This would be a hard case to make, given that it’s an issue of both freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

US Justice Department’s RLUIPA website -

Tom Alday said...

Haaretz isn't reputable? I know it's run by those evil jews you liberals hate but c'mon man, they're pretty fucking reputable. They so left wing they are pretty much the NYT of Israel.

@Jenni - No one is saying they can't build it or is trying to stop them from building it, people are saying they should have some decency and build it somewhere else.

rhonda said...

actually, the mosque-at-ground-zero hate mongers are using the same subversive, below-the-belt tactic that you referred to in the OTHER rule, ian! i always see the same graphic used any time the question comes up, and it's a picture of osama bin laden. isn't it kind of odd that the makers of the "poll" going around the internet could only find that one picture of that one person? i guess all the other 1.5 billion muslims called in sick on that particular picture day.

Jenni said...

@Tom - So if this was a church or a synagogue, it would be okay then? What about a gentleman's club that locates in the redevelopment area? Shouldn't they have the decency to locate somewhere else since this is going to be a major tourist attraction with families? Sorry, that argument doesn't hold water and the courts have ruled against "intolerance zoning."

Every religion has its extremists who use the name of their God for acts of evil. In America, and rather unfortunately, a stereotype of the Muslim culture remains. However, I wouldn't lump this group into to being terrorists or Osama bin Laden. The same concept applies to categorize all white redneck tea-partiers like Timothy McVeigh. It wouldn't make sense.

Tom Alday said...

Jenni - If some jews or catholics or titty club owners hijack an airliner and plow it into a building then yeah, I might have a problem with them opening their respective places of worship within spitting distance of the victims resting place. The fact of the matter is that muslims killed nearly 3 thousand Americans 2 blocks away and these asswipes should have some decency and build their indoctrination center some place else.

Islam is the most intolerant, backwards and anti-liberal religion on the face of the planet, the fact that liberals defend their honor to me is hilarious. It's like an abused spouse defending her husband.

NOLA Progressive said...

Have you ever read the Bible Tom? How about attended a Pentecostal, Mennonite, or Amish service? Religion is backwards. Islam has no superlative in that vein.

If it makes anyone feel any better throughout this discussion, id gladly support banning any religious buildings anywhere near the site. That way no one would be worshipping fictitious characters regardless of their crazy ass dogmas.

Ian McGibboney said...

I'm frankly not a fan of any religion. Some I like better than others, granted, but I wouldn't align myself with any of them, and the extremist sects I blame for most of the world's geopolitical problems.

That said, I side with the mosque in this case because of the principle involved. It's a legit and established institution run by Americans and thus should be entitled to the same opportunity as anything else that jumps through all the legal hoops to obtain the property.

More importantly, if the Muslim group was to bend to political pressure, it would validate every backwards, xenophobic, ignorant tea party belief at the expense of the foundation on which we claim to base our country. And that would be a sad day.

Jenni said...

Tom - A small group of militant, extremist Muslims killed over three thousand people (some were American, others not) in New York City almost 9 years ago, not an entire religion. Every religion has a set of beliefs / rules and its controversies. Personally, I'm not religious, so it's not up to me to defend the actions of any of them.

NOLA - What's interesting about RLUIPA is that it was passed in 2000 by a Republican controlled House and Senate and signed by Clinton. I'm sure that the mindset of the time was to protect the rights of Christian churches, but because the law has to be ambiguous, other groups are putting RLUIPA to the test. That said, legally it's almost impossible to deny a place of worship under current law. As a country based on free speech and religious freedom, along with what current planning law states, I'll side with the mosque on this issue. However, I think it would speak volumes to the world if a synagogue and another church would locate in the same vicinity of the mosque to show religious tolerance.

Tom Alday said...

@Jenni - Yes, Islam is the RELIGION OF PEACE, thanks Aman Jenni for the well needed update of who was responsible for 9-11, I wasn't aware just WHO did it until you just told me. Thanks.

The problem is perception. Muslims, through their backwards and intolerant religion, have created a bad one of themselves only made worse by their brethren slaughtering 3,000 of us in one morning. They only have themselves to blame for the way people see them.

Also, Jesus fucking Christ, NO ONE is saying they're not ALLOWED to build there, or they're going to challenge them in court or something. All people are saying is that they should have some decency, and sensitivity to the victims families (a lot of them oppose it BTW) to build it elsewhere. If they still go ahead with it, no legal challenge is planned and none would hold up in court.

Quit trying to build a strawman.

Ian McGibboney said...

Well, Tom, it sounds like you DO need a reminder. Because the only people who think this is a decency issue are those who mindlessly lump all Muslims together. You come across that way. Either that, or you think this particular group is responsible for 9/11. If al-Qaida were out to build a recruitment center there, you might have a point. But as it is, you come off as foolish.

Conservatives lost all license to be arbiters of decency when they turned 9/11 into an excuse to openly celebrate bigotry and a gateway for their prefabricated political priorities.

Tom Alday said...

Ian, 68% of the American public thinks that while they certainly have the right to build there, they should do the right thing and build it elsewhere.

But hey, you got a terrorist group on your side, that's gotta count for something, eh?

Ian McGibboney said...

Any source for that figure, Tom? Or why it's relevant?

They have a right to be there. Just because a bunch of Fox News disciples hate it shouldn't deter them from a decision made in December 2009 that, until recently, was not controversial.

The right thing for them to do, Tom, is to forget about appeasing blowhards such as yourself who will not be satisfied until hate and fear rule this country.

Tom Alday said...

Lets put it this way, their right to an action does not guarantee my right to approve. If they lack the simple decency to not build their victory mosque in a building that had landing gear flying through in 9 years ago then fuck them, they deserve no decency or sensitivity from me.

Ian, please tell me what I have to gain from having...hahaha..."hate and fear ruling this country". I'm dyin to hear your answer.

You're the one White Knighting for Islam, the most hateful and fear mongering religion on the planet you fucktard. And hey, Hamas has got your back buddy, they appreciate it.

Ian McGibboney said...

Tom, no one cares about your right to approve. It means as much as mine, which is to say, none.

What does matter is that you and people like you deliberately conflate all Muslims with terrorists, and then use that as an excuse to disapprove of the mosque. That's dishonest and inexcusable. Which, in turn, renders your "decency" argument moot. These people have nothing to apologize for, and a lot of us think this could actually be a good thing.

As for terrorists backing me up, well, I'll bet al-Qaida's endorsement of Bush in 2004 didn't stop you for voting for him, did it? Drop that crap. It's pointless.

Ian McGibboney said...

As for what you would gain if hate and fear ruled the world, Tom, I think that's pretty clear. Your mind-set thrives on simplistic attitudes and the idea that conservative, white, Christian males dominate our leadership and our culture. Also, everything is black and white. And in such a paternalistic world, you need hate and fear to fan the flames.

Tom Alday said...

They made their bed with their hateful, ass backwards religion, now they gotta lay in it.

"I'll bet al-Qaida's endorsement of Bush in 2004 didn't stop you for voting for him"

They endorsed Bush because they thought he was stupid. He showed that by effectively dismantling their leadership and making them joke. Yep, that endorsement worked out for them.

Tell me Ian, since you and Hamas are simpatico, do you let out little yelps of joy every time they kill those evil little jews? You do, don't you?

venessalewis said...

Oh man. This is a tough one for me, which is why I've been putting off my response. What's odd is that a week ago today, I was staunchly in support of this for all of the previously stated reasons. Or, more to the point, if Republicans (these days) are against it, my knee jerk reaction is to be for it. So of course, I wrote this off as yet another dumbass faux protest, at first.

From what I understand, it is a mosque within a community center and it is 2 blocks from the site of the towers. More importantly, I think encouraging religious tolerance is the perfect spite to the events and perpetrators of 9/11

That said, I am sensing a very real nerve has been hit in Americans. No, not the fake outrage nerve that Republicans beat to death daily. It is something more hallowed and from a larger cross section, which has made me take a step back. I've reached an impasse regarding this controversy.

Deep breath. As Jenni explained no law can stop this from going forth. I am happy about this. However, sometimes, and on very specific occasions, just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should. If this were a completely bullshit argument based solely on GOP grandstanding, I'd say crank the bulldozers tomorrow and build that sucker. But I think this should be approached with caution and only after thorough public discourse. Frankly, I'd like to hear more from the survivors and families of. The few I've seen interviewed seem to be supportive; I think since they've bore the emotional brunt, their perspective carrries more weight in my opinion.

So, sorry for the vagueness, I'm still thinking this through (as many Americans are). I just hope there is no rush to a decision because it is a very timely and very important issue. At some point, we Americans are going to have to come to terms with our grief and lingering anger over 9/11. We will have to CHOOSE to be the "better" country and not let that anger shape our basic principles nor our progress. But I will submit there is ALOT of grey area here, simply because so much raw human emotion is involved. And, to lean on some of my PR roots here...if we as a country embrace this center, I'd suggest they do it with a very well prepared message of unification and healing, rather than rubbing more salt in the wound. We have an opportunity here, I hope it isn't sqandered for the sake of who can scream the loudest and pick up more votes this fall.

Tom Alday said...

"Your mind-set thrives on simplistic attitudes and the idea that conservative, white, Christian males dominate our leadership and our culture."

I care that they are conservative, I couldn't care less about their color or religion.

Can you make a point without invoking either Bush or the race card? I don't think it's possible.

Ian McGibboney said...

V, true. I think if anything fits that criteria, it's this center. It's actually housing more than just the mosque; it has Jewish and Christian elements as well. Sort of an exchange between the religions. I'd hate to see emotions drive this away. I understand that there are many, and piercing ones at that, but I also fear that such emotions will forever be tapped to prevent progress and healing. And that's why the anti-mosque sentiment, the one you describe as false outrage apart from your valid concerns, particularly troubles me. Much of what's being said by these people seems to be as much a political ploy to keep the division alive than anything else. It frustrates me on an intellectual level.

Tom, al-Qaida specifically cited Bush's tendency toward violence and war as a political strategy. I don't recall al-Qaida going defunct or, for that matter, Osama ever getting caught. But maybe I missed that news on my vacation this past week. But my larger point is that these kinds of endorsements mean dick. And to suggest that I am a supporter of Hamas, anti-Semitic or a defender of terrorism is really irresponsible and shitty on your part. You have no problem making hateful and prejudicial statements, so why shouldn't I call you out on it?

venessalewis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
venessalewis said...

And to clarify, because religious issues are dear to my heart,I do NOT support discriminating against Muslims as a group because of the acts of a few extremists. There are people in the "No Mosque" camp that simply want to punish Muslims and see this as a way to do so. This only perpetuates more hatred, terror, violence...and the cycle continues.

Muslims (and ALL major religions for that matter) should take a look in the mirror and realize that perhaps some of the negativity directed towards them is a result of their own dogma's history of intolerance. As a "survivor" of the Catholic religion, I know you don't have to be an extremist to have a very closed view and general lack of respect for other people and religions. The extremists may be the ones inflicting physical harm, but I tend to think the venom spewed from your local pulpit has the potenital to be just as dangerous.

venessalewis said...

You see, I didn't know about the details of the other religions also involved, but that is also encouraging. Those are the kinds of things that need to come out...not the "Landing Gear WUZ HERE" protests that are not at all trying to approach this with the respect it deserves. Again, I hope a first class PR firm gets hold of this issue and crafts an educational campaign that could motivate more support.

Hathor said...

I wonder why all those good Christian people who feel ground zero is hallowed ground haven't put chapel or church close.

Personally I don't see it as hallowed ground, I see it as more of a burial place where the ashes have been intermingled with the mortar, metal and earth at that site. I would venture say that this wouldn't prevent those same people from wanting to build right on top of it, thinking they are sticking it to the terrorist. While the developer would be to capitalizing on the real estate value.

NOLA Progressive said...

At least we all agree there is no legal issue. That sort of thing is rarely a given. It wouldn't surprise me for a push for a constitutional amendment or some such given the tone and tenor of today's political discourse.

Tom, I agree with you insomuch as a large portion of our country is in opposition to a "ground zero mosque". This is after all how it is being posed in polling questions. I think this is the problem. It is being deftly politically crafted to bring down the house. Passion burns hot and fast when it comes to religion and terrorism in this country.

God knows that we would all like to burn the Army Corps of Engineers in effegy down here in NOLA and forbid there presence, but we have to deal with reality. My point being that is it the easiest sell to place a mosque or Islam associated building anywhere near ground zero? No absolutely not. Do I understand the resentment of many? Yes, but we all have to deal with reality. Further, politicians and the press should stop throwing gas on the fire with the verbage they are using.

Tom Alday said...

A constitutional amendment for what?

Ian McGibboney said...

I'd imagine NOLA is referring to the Republican tendency to want constitutional amendments banning things like abortion, flag-burning and, yes, limits on who can partake in certain forms of speech.

It somehow became a hot issue in Missouri recently to call for repeal of the 17th Amendment (granting people the right to elect senators, as opposed to representatives doing it). Given that, I wouldn't be surprised to see the kind of proposal NOLA notes seriously get considered. Defending the Constitution my ass.

Tom Alday said...

The problem with that is you conflate the desires of a small, regional minority, with that of the national party. Passing a constitutional amendment is a pretty big deal, requiring a large percentage of Congressman, and most states to approve of it. The GOP couldn't even get one BROUGHT TO THE FLOOR when they ran Congress during the Bush years. But now, suddenly, they have the ability and/or means to. They aren't going to risk the majority they'll have come November by pushing an issue that, 3 months from now, most people will have forgotten. Not going to happen.

Also, I'd like to know which amendments the GOP leadership is pushing that places "limits on who can partake in certain forms of speech." you're referring to by the way.

NOLA Progressive said...

Yes that was basically what I was referring to. Right down to constitutional amendments changing birthright citizenship.

I understand Tom, that it would be unlikely to succeed, but it still wouldn't surprise me to see it attempted.

Tom Alday said...

Hey speaking of that birthright amendment, it appears the GOP are just following the lead of your current Senate Majority Leader, who proposed pretty much the same deal back in 1993

You probably won't catch that on MSNBC though...

Ian McGibboney said...

The birthright change is a stupid idea no matter who proposes it. And Harry Reid isn't exactly my favorite guy, if that's what you're getting at.

Tom Alday said...

But you would still vote for him if you lived in Nevada. Doesn't that make you kind of hypocritical to denounce all these crazy right wingers when your boy has proposed the same thing in the past?

Ian McGibboney said...

I think that would depend on who his competition was, particularly in the primary. I'm not a huge fan of Reid and never really have been. If we were the best candidate, though, I'd vote for him. Every politician does something I don't like.

But others, like many of today's Republicans, do everything I don't like.

NOLA Progressive said...

Actually Olberman mentioned it recently regarding Reid. Reid is far from my favorite fella, and what would be my choice in that hypothetical? The current crackerjack he's running against? Well then yeah Id vote for Reid despite my dislike of several of his stances. Evil of two lessers kind of thing.