The Good. The Bad. The Asinine.

Why Francis, anyway?(insert animal joke here).

This little missive comes under the sub-title:

‘Know Your Enemy’

A lot of fairly cheap capital has been made on the choice of the new pope’s name: Francis. Hilarious references to preaching to animals, as well as jokes about how feeding the poor is a new idea. Etc., ignorant etc.

The fact of the matter is that the name is astonishingly significant. Why has there never been a pope called Francis, do we think? It’s simple. Francis and the movement, initially outlawed and persecuted by the inquisition, that loosely took his name and (even more loosely) espoused his ideas, were a social and spiritual force that came close to tearing the mediaeval church apart. There were riots, massacres, and a long forgotten bloody and brutal battle. Check out Fra Dolcino at the link below.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fra_Dolcino

What was so destructive about the Franciscans/Dolcinians? I’ll do it in point form.

  • They believed that the adjuration to poverty should be taken literally, i.e., that the church and all its clergy should be literally poor, rather than calling themselves poor on the basis of the claim that they cared not for the mountains of gold that they sat on.
  • They believed that the ‘secular clergy’ (priests, bishops, cardinals, etc.) were heretics simply because they had accepted rank and status, and should be killed – a belief that many Dolcinians, at least, put into practice.
  • They believed that the second coming had been delayed for reasons that they repeatedly explained (and which I still don’t understand) and that the program would resume normal function once everyone they didn’t like was dead, or something like that.

Needless to say, most of these beliefs arise from the fact that they were completely insane. The important thing, though, is that, say whatever you like about the church (I always do), the pope’s choice of name is in fact as significant as they say. It suggests revolution, upheaval and, potentially, a complete re-casting of ‘THE CATHOLIC CHURCH’ as ‘the catholic church’.

Why am I telling you this? Because if you wish to criticise the papacy, the fuss about the name or the Church at large without knowing this, you are going to look a fool, and a blindly partisan one at that.

If you intend to make cheap jokes about preaching to the birds and feeding the poor without understanding what the name ‘Francis’ means to an organisation that never forgets – well… suffice it to say, if you don’t know what you are talking about, there is no good reason for anyone to listen to you. This would be a shame, especially in light of the election of what’s shaping up to be one of the most popular popes of all time. It would be a crying shame if all we atheists started looking like tiny-minded bigots just as the church enters a period of likely resurgence, headed, of course, by the smiling Francis, forgiving us all for our malice.

There are several fundamental things deeply wrong with the church’s values, ways and very existence. None of these have anything to do with hats, gowns, funny names or Darth Vader’s boss. 

It annoys me that so many people are willing to undermine this central truth, as well as the credibility of all who espouse it, for nothing more than a cheap and not very intelligent joke.

Just who is this idiot who has suddenly appeared on this blog?

Is a question I’m pretty certain many of you will be asking.

Just so that you’re not totally misled by Tim’s excessively kind introduction of me, I thought I might write a few words on my favourite subject below.

My name is Chris. I was raised as a Catholic until my family got bored of their recently acquired Christianity. After this I was raised as an investment. Neither of these strategies has panned out well for anybody.

I credit myself with being one of the minority of people who both:

a) have an opinion of the bible and quran and;

b) have also read them.

I like candlelit dinners, long walks by moonlight and Irish Whiskey. I only really like one of those things.

As I dislike having to trumpet my politics all the time, I suppose I should make a few things clear at the outset.

  1. I am an Atheist.
  2. I am Pro-Choice, Pro-Equality, and Anti-Having-To-Declare-and-Label-What-Are-Self-Evidently-Reasonable-And-Humane-Positions.
  3. I like Irish Whiskey.

GBAV – Genesis 4

Gn 4:1And Adam knew his wife, which is kind of obvious. I mean, of course he knew her – she was made out of one of his ribs, for god’s sake. And he had cleaved unto her, and they had eaten from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and Sewing and Nudity together, and they had matching mink coats, and… oh… wait, I see what you mean. You mean his penis knew her vagina! Right. So, Adam knew his wife, in the biblical sense, and Eve became pregnant, and had a son, and said “Behold! I have gotten a man from the lord. Hopefully he’s a hottie, for it will make incest with his sisters much easier.”

Gn 4:2And Adam knew his wife again, in the biblical sense, and she had another son, Abel. And the time came for Cain and Abel to choose their careers, so they went to their careers adviser, Derek, who is one of the lesser known Biblical characters, and will probably be cut from the final editionNote 1. And Derek said unto Cain, “Lo, what sort of jobs do you like?” And Cain said, “Behold! I like the outdoors.” And Derek said, “Lo, can you be more specific? All the jobs are outdoors.” And Cain said, “Behold! I like hard, physical work that benefits my community and fulfills the instructions that god gave my parents when he kicked them out of Eden.” And Derek said, “Lo, you should be a tiller of the earth.” And so Cain went off and began tilling the earth in the name of god, and he was so happy he wrote a song about it, called “Tilling In The Name Of (God)”, which contains the now famous refrain “Bless you I will do what you tell me”. And then came Abel’s turn, and Derek said unto Abel, “Lo, what sort of jobs do you like?” And Abel said, “Behold! I am lazy, and wish to stand around all day working on my tan.” And Derek said, “Lo, you should be a shepherd.” And it was so.

Gn 4:3And it came to pass that Cain grew some fruit. And he said unto himself, “Hang on… rather than use this fruit to provide nutrition for our fledgling species, I should give it to an omnipotent being who doesn’t eat and already has a shitload of fruit in his own garden.” And it was so.

Gn 4:4And Abel saw what Cain had done, and realised that the one thing that god didn’t have was lamb burgers, so he went out and killed one of his lambs, and marinated it overnight in rosemary and garlic, and then pan fried it and served it with a glass of red wine, for he was a red wine Jew. And god tasted the lamb burger, and said “Holy shitballs, Abel… that’s lambtastic.”

Gn 4:5But then god saw Cain’s fruit, and although it complied with his instructions when he kicked Adam and Eve out of Eden and took years of back-breaking labour to produce, and even though Abel didn’t really do anything except let his sheep have sex, god realised that he had plenty of fruit already, and Cain had put little stickers on the fruit, which he found really annoying to peel off. So he gave Cain a dirty look, which made Cain sooky. Quite understandably, in my opinion. But lo, I am not here to judge.

Gn 4:6-7And the lord said unto Cain, “Why so sooky? If you do well, won’t I accept you? And if you don’t do well, sin lies at your door. And sin will desire you, and you will rule over him.” And Cain said “Wait, what? Are you drunk? What does that mean? And why did you not accept me, even though I did do well?”

Gn 4:8But god seems to have not answered, for the next thing we know, Cain and Abel are out in the fields together, and Cain felt aggrieved enough to rise up and murder his brother. And, when you think about it, that means he murdered a quarter of the world’s population at the time (not including Derek, of course). So basically Cain’s offence was the modern equivalent of killing just under 2 billion people, all because someone put fingerprints on his iPad.

Gn 4:9And I guess Cain went off and buried Abel somewhere, for god walked up and said, “Cain, where is Abel thy brother?” And Cain replied, “Don’t you know?” And god said, “Of course I don’t know. I am god, and I don’t need to have sex like you guys.” And Cain said, “No, I meant, don’t you know, in the non-biblical sense.” And god said, “Oh, yes, of course I know in the non-biblical sense. I always ask questions I know the answer to in the non-biblical sense. It adds to the drama. Please play along.” And Cain said, “Well in that case I don’t know where Abel is in the non-biblical sense. Am I his keeper?”

Gn 4:10And god said, “What have you done? Yes, yes I know the answer, Cain. Please be quiet. Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. NO CAIN, NOT LITERALLY! Gn 4:11You are now cursed from the earth, Gn 4:12and you won’t be… er… Abel to grow your fruit any more, which is a good thing, because no one likes it anyway. A vagabond shalt thou be!”

Gn 4:13And Cain said “WAAAAAAAAAAAH! Gn 4:14I’m a vagabond, and everyone who sees me will kill me.” And he sent god a text with a frowny face, like this 🙁

Gn 4:15And god said, “I don’t mean to be picky, but that’s not technically possible, for you can only be killed once. And you’re exaggerating a little, because the only other people alive are your parents. But I take your point, so how about this. Anyone who kills you will have vengeance taken on them… wait for it… sevenfold!” And Cain said, “But how would that work? You just said people can only be killed once.” And god said, “I am god, I can kill people as many times as I like.” And so god gave Cain a t-shirt that said “If you see this man, please don’t kill him even though he is a vagabond who murdered a quarter of the world’s population because I didn’t like his crappy fruit. Lots of love, god.” And on the back of the shirt god wrote “Need male friends. You’ll like me once you get to know me.”, without specifying whether he meant the non-biblical sense, and lo, god found his ambiguity hilarious.

Gn 4:16And for some reason Cain then went to sleep for a whileNote 2.

Gn 4:17And Cain managed to find a wife from somewhere. Probably at his parents’ house, living with the rest of his sisters. And Cain knew his sister wife, in the biblical sense, and she gave birth to their nephew son. And, lo, they called his name Enoch, and I’m pretty sure they called their actual son Enoch as well, because it’s confusing to give different names to your son and your son’s name. And then the next thing you know Cain built a whole frikken city, which is pretty impressive, but tax revenue was low on account of the very high vacancy rate for inner-city rentals. And he called the name of the city Enoch, but it’s unclear if the city itself was called Enoch, or if the city’s name was named after Enoch or Enoch’s name, which was also called Enoch.

Gn 4:18-21And then Enoch begat a whole bunch of sons, one of which was Lamech, and Lamech took two wives, which seems a bit greedy if you ask me, but I’m not here to judge. And one of his wives had a son, Jabal, and he was the father of all who pick their nose left-handed. And Jabal’s brother’s name was Jubal, and he was the father of all who ride skateboards.

Gn 4:22And their cousin Tubalcain was a fitness instructor.

Gn 4:23-24And now we’re back to Lamech again, who seems to have killed an unspecified random, probably because he wanted more wives.

Gn 4:25And Adam knew his wife again, in the biblical sense, and they had a son, and they called their son and their son’s name Seth, which is Hebrew for “A son that god has given you to replace a son murdered by your other son”, and is a common enough occurrence to have its very own word.

Gn 4:26And Seth also had a son, and by that I mean Seth himself, not Seth’s name. And Seth called his son’s name Enos, and I don’t really need to make that joke again, so I won’t.

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Footnotes

  1. It is unclear who advised Derek to be a careers adviser – hence the expression, “Which came first, Derek or the careers adviser?” (back)
  2. The Land of Nod, apparently. (back)

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<< Genesis 3 | Genesis 5 >>

Welcome aboard, Chris

My good mate Chris has just agreed to become a regular contributor here at Good Bad Asinine. Yaaaaay!

There are only three things you need to know about Chris:

  1. He’s a lot smarter than me;
  2. He writes a lot more coherently;
  3. He actually knows what he’s talking about.

I’ll let him tell you more about himself, and the sorts of things he might write about.

Keep a look out for his posts. You’ll be able to tell they’re his by the name “Chris” in the top right corner.

Well of course she was asking for it

Well, she was. What did she expect? Out late at night, putting herself in that position, dressed the way she was, what was I supposed to do?

I’m talking, of course, about the young woman I just ran over with my car. Now I know what you’re thinking, and believe me, I understand how you feel. I had the same thought when I first saw her. Running people over is generally considered to be a bit mean, and I have a big four wheel drive with a kick arse bull bar, and I knew it wasn’t exactly going to tickle if I ploughed right through her. She’d probably suffer lasting physical and emotional damage. She could even die.

So yes, I understand that you think running her over wasn’t the right thing to do. But hear me out.

It was late at night, as I said, and it was in a bit of a dodgy neighbourhood, so there were no streetlights. But on top of all that, she was also wearing dark clothes! How dumb can you get? She must have known that if she dressed like a ninja, and then crossed a dark street late at night, there was a good chance she would get hit by a car. What was she thinking?

Now if you think that’s bad, wait till you hear this. Despite all of that, I still managed to see her in the middle of the road. I am, after all, an excellent driver. My dad even lets me drive on the driveway. So yeah, I saw her. And yeah, I could have stopped, or beeped my horn to warn her. But you won’t believe what happened next. I looked up, and saw that she was crossing the street while the little man was red!

Can you believe it? No don’t worry, I couldn’t either.

So I stomped on the gas and ran that bitch over.

It’s what any nice, normal young man from a good family would do.

Opinions are not compulsory

This is a guest post from my good friend, Chris. Enjoy.
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A few days ago, American TV personality Jimmy Kimmel took to the streets to ask average Americans about the Sequester. His thesis was that a large number of Americans would know next to nothing about what the Sequester was and that hilarity would therefore ensue.

For those of us Australians who aren’t clear on this issue, the Sequester is basically a package of 85 billion USD in compulsory spending cuts, equally unpopular with both sides of politics, which President Obama uses as a sort of Damoclean Sword for the purposes of forcing budget compromise.

Mr Kimmel, proceeding on the basis of his thesis, framed the question: “What do you think of Obama pardoning the Sequester and sending it to Portugal?” which, in light of what it actually is, makes no sense whatsoever.

If the much vaunted Human capacity for reason had been in play, all that this question should have produced is bewilderment. What it actually produced was a broad range of strongly stated, strongly held opinions. These included:

  • Portugal already has enough Sequesters.
  • Sending the Sequester to Portugal costs American jobs.
  • An American Sequester belongs in America.
  • South Korea should not be allowed to make a robot terrorist.

This last one arose from a belief that the Sequester is a type of robot terrorist.

Now, it is easy to dismiss this subhuman idiocy as more typically American buffoonery, but to do so would be very wrong. The same tendency to form opinions based on exactly no evidence at all is to be found in all countries and in all walks of life.

In between cheap jokes about paedophile priests we find people who believe that the Vatican Conclave should, for reasons that are not clear, not be taking place. The simple fact of the matter is that the Cardinals are legally required to have one – yes, legally – in order to elect a Head of State. A great many people believe that on Mardi Gras night a certain police officer should either have beaten a certain young man to death or, alternatively, rubbed his bottom gently with jojoba oil, no matter what it was that he had done. I am fairly certain that very few of these active opiners understand the balance of the fundamental principles of the issue at hand, these being: The Role of the Police in Society, Proportionality of Force and The Universal Right to Self Defence.

We roll our eyes and throw up our hands at the woeful, even simian state of public debate in this country and yet, quick as a flash, almost every single one of us is willing to take up figurative arms in fields of combat where we are uncertain as to the combatants, their cause, or even the approximate location of the field.

This, in short, is stupid. If we know nothing about an issue, it follows logically that we are very unlikely to have anything sensible or valuable to say about it. So for what reason do we feel compelled to form an opinion on every twenty second sound bite shoveled into our maws by the media? Why do I spend such an inordinate amount of time listening to drunkards and taxi drivers expatiating on macro-economics, geopolitics and international diplomacy?

Do you know how to tell an intelligent person from an idiot? One good indication is that when confronted with something about which they are wholly ignorant, intelligent people tend to shut the fuck up.

This is not to say that everyone everywhere should stop talking about the issues of the day. It is of vital importance that we do so – it is a fundamental pillar of what remains of the ideals of democracy that political activity and discussion is not just a right, but a responsibility of good citizens everywhere.

But please, please, pretty please, in the name of all that is sacred and profane: If you do not know what you are talking about – DON’T!

If, however, you do feel compelled to take a position on something (and I encourage everyone to do so), spend a little bit of the time you would have spent pretending to know what you are talking about to actually find out something about it.

Most issues are complex enough. It is simply bloody-minded to further confuse them with the quackspeak of the willfully ignorant.

Po Po No Nos

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, and your rock has no internet access, you would have heard about some alleged instances of police brutality at the Sydney Mardi Gras last weekend. The incident I want to talk about is the one involving 18-year-old Jamie Jackson.

The facts seem to be these:

  1. While partying at Mardi Gras, Jamie did something to catch the eye of some nearby police officers, and they sought to arrest him. Jamie says he tickled someone, although I don’t find his story particularly convincing.
  2. At some point during the arrest, Jamie attempted to, or actually did, punch and kick the officer attempting to restrain him.
  3. The officer eventually restrained Jamie face down on the ground, and handcuffed him with his hands behind his back.
  4. After being handcuffed, Jamie seems to have done or said something that resulted in the officer throwing him face first to the ground.

That is, I think, all we know for sure at this point.

The main source of controversy seems to be the way the officer threw Jamie face first to the ground, apparently without concern for his safety. There are a lot of theories floating around as to what Jamie did or didn’t do to provoke the officer into doing this, and depending on who you listen to, he’s either the world’s most brutalised police suspect, Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan’s love child, or something in between. In any event, a large proportion of the people who have felt the need to voice an opinion have decided that, regardless of what Jamie did to make the officer throw him to the ground, “the little vagina probably deserved it” (as one of my Facebook friends phrased it, albeit a little more forcefully).

The reasons why Jamie apparently deserved to be slammed face first onto the pavement are many, but the main ones seem to be:

  1. He didn’t do what the officer told him. So he deserved it.
  2. He called the officer a name. So he deserved it.
  3. He attempted, or actually managed, to punch, kick and spit on the officer. So he deserved it.
  4. Police officers risk their lives to be treated like crap by drunken idiots for shit pay. So he deserved it..

Now, I could point out that the police officer in question also told someone to stop filming, which he is not allowed to do. And I could point out that name calling, is, well, just name calling. And I could point out that police don’t always arrest the right person. And I could point out that the collective frustrations of the whole police force shouldn’t be taken out on one individual, even if he’s done the wrong thing.

But I don’t need to.

The police are there to enforce the law, and arrest and charge those who break it. Yes, they sometimes need to use force to restrain their suspects. But they are not there to hand out punishments. Ever. Jamie Jackson doesn’t “deserve” anything except what the courts dish out to him. And he certainly didn’t deserve to be slammed face first onto the ground with his hands behind his back, an action that could have killed him (yes, people die from hitting their heads on the pavement).

If you want to stand up and say that Jamie “deserved” it, you go right ahead. As long as you realise what you’re really admitting – that Rodney King had it coming, too (probably more so, right? What with the whole car chase thing). As did this guy who threw a plastic bottle, resisted arrest, and was given a bit of a touch up back at the station. And so would you, or your son, or your daughter, or countless other people rightfully and wrongfully arrested.

I have a tremendous amount of respect for the police. They do risk their lives, and they are treated like crap by drunken idiots, and they do get shit pay. But they’re also human, and they make mistakes.

This officer made a mistake, and so did Jamie. Let’s just admit it, and let the courts take it from there.

Eeny meeny miny… Pope

Sometime tomorrow, all of the 115 Cardinals who are eligible for conclave will gather at the Vatican, shut off all communication with the outside world, and attempt to elect the new leader of the world’s one billion Catholics. But all is not well.

Intrigue. Scandals. Secret gay sex. Media bans. Stupid hats. This election has it all. In just one such example:

The Italian cardinals are prepared to back Brazilian cardinal Odilio Scherer of Sao Paulo, a Vatican veteran, provided he appoints an Italian or Curia veteran as secretary of state [aren’t they all veterans?]. This [rumour] has been around for some days, but now is supposed to have brought together the bitter rivals of the past two holders of the job, Angelo Sodano and Tarcisio Bertone.

And that’s just for starters. My secret spies tell me that the situation is more dire than any of us imagine, and many of the Cardinals have grievances that may not be overcome in time, threatening the entire election.

Cardinal Tuto, for one, is upset that Cardinal Fuzz gave his dog a Schmakos, despite being told many times that his dog Saint Bernard, a dalmation, is a vegetarian. Cardinal Fuzz, on the other hand, is furious at Cardinal Jinkerbottom for ruining last night’s spaghetti, which was clearly well short of al dente. But Cardinal Jinkerbottom only ruined the spaghetti because he’d been fighting with Cardinal Giancarlo Luigi di Matteo di Napoli over who got to take the life drawing class with Massimo Pector, the hot Vatican window cleaner. Meanwhile, Cardinal di Napoli has lost his fancy Cardinal’s dress because he left it at a “Saints and Sinners” fancy Cardinal’s dress party (he went as a sinner), so he can’t go to Conclave anyway, unless he borrows a spare dress from Cardinal Barry Black, who was at the same party (dressed as a saint), but was sent home early for trying to start a game of “Spin the Zucchetto” with the young exchange deacons, which is not only an extremely immoral game for celibate Cardinals, but is also very hard to play, on account of the zucchetto being round. None of that matters to Cardinal Fluff, though. He hates all the Cardinals because they’ve spent the whole week calling him “Cardinal Muff”, even though Cardinal Bees waxed him the week before last.

Seems like a right kerfuffle.

I have an idea though. If they really believe in god, and they really believe that nothing happens without god’s approval, and they know god hates their endless bickering and scheming and games of Spin the Zucchetto, then they should just stick everyone’s stupid name in one of their stupid hats, and draw out the next Pope with one of their jewel-encrusted, withered old hands.

If god is there, he’ll sort it out.

Right?

You’re playing with yourself, Andrew

You know when your dog runs off with one of your socks, and you chase her around the backyard for ten minutes trying to get it back, and you end up stepping in some of her poop, and when you finally catch her, she’s surprised to learn that you weren’t actually playing a game of “Chase the dog with the sock and step in her poop”? Well then you know what it’s like to to read an article on marriage equality by Andrew Bolt.

You see, Andrew Bolt reckons we’re playing games with him, too. Word games. We’re not, of course – firstly because no one wants to play games with Andrew Bolt except Andrew Bolt; and secondly because he doesn’t know enough about the English language to realise that the game he’s playing doesn’t even exist.

Luckily for you, Andrew, I hate to see people with no one to play with, so I will play a word game with you. I’ll give you some words that relate to your article, and you try and guess their meaning before reading the actual definitions. Ready? Let’s play!
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same sex · noun · sām seks
1. Of or pertaining to two people who are either both male or both female.
2. If you think about it for two seconds, it should become immediately obvious that, by definition, it excludes people with characteristics of both sexes, or neither sex, or the physical characteristics of one sex but the gender identity of another.
3. It is therefore not an appropriate prefix for “marriage” in the current debate about marriage equality.
4. You know what is an appropriate term for “marriage equality” in the current debate about marriage equality? Marriage equality.
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sexual discrimination · noun · sek-shə-wal dis-kri-mə-ˈnā-shən
The denial of rights or privileges to people on the basis of their sex.
e.g. “No, you cannot marry that person, purely because you are male.”
e.g. “No, you cannot marry that person, purely because you are female.”
e.g. “No, you cannot marry that person, purely because the law is pretending that your sexual or gender identity doesn’t exist.”
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sophistry · noun · ˈsä-fə-strē
A plausible but misleading or fallacious argument.
  e.g. “Hey look at me, I’m using sophistry!” – Andrew Bolt
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plausibility · noun · plȯ-zə-ˈbi-lə-tē
1. The appearance of truth by virtue of not being mind-numbingly ridiculous.
2. Not possessed by your “But lesbians can marry men if they want to” argument, by virtue of it being mind-numbingly ridiculous.
3. Not granted to bigoted newspaper columnists by Federal Court judges.
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destruction by definition · noun
1. Defining your position into existence, then deploying the definition you just defined to defend your defined definition. For example:
  P1: Let marriage be between one man and one woman.
  P2: Therefore, marriage is between one man and one woman.
2. A ripper of a punk album by The Suicide Machines.
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How’d you go, Andrew? Sorry, I can’t hear you, you seem to have a sock in your mouth.