Hubble, WISE, and VISTA

Hubble is great and all, but it’s better in a bundle.

In order: Hubble, WISE, VISTA. And no, not the OS.

Christians jail gay couple

In overwhelmingly Christian Malawi two men have been sent to prison for 14 years for being gay.

The harsh sentence was immediately deplored by human rights groups around the world, but Magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwa Usiwa, in reading his judgment, seemed adamant in his ruling. He said he was especially offended that the two lovers celebrated their relationship in public with an engagement party.

“I do not believe Malawi is ready at this point in time to see its sons getting married to other sons, or cohabitating, or conducting engagement ceremonies,” the magistrate said. “Malawi is not ready to smile at her daughters marrying each other. Let posterity judge this judgment.”

Posterity will judge this judgement precisely the same as the majority of today’s generation judges 19th century America. There is no reasonable justification for what Malawian Christians are doing to Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza – hence the use of religion to bring about yet another horrendous event in history.

The nation’s clergy have been united in condemning the gay couple. “God calls homosexuality an abomination, which is greater than a simple sin,” the Rev. Felix Zalimba, pastor of the All for Jesus Church in Blantyre, said Thursday. He said church and state were aligned in agreement: “These two must repent and ask God’s forgiveness. Otherwise, they will surely go to hell.”

Aww, that’s so sweet. I guess Malawian Christians are just looking for out the spiritual well-being of the couple.

Malawi is a welfare state that suffers from massive poverty. That poverty, as demonstrated here, goes far beyond monetary woes. And while the educational system has improved dramatically over the years, it still lags severely; it’s about what one would expect from a so-called third world nation. This presents a dilemma. Donor nations might be tempted to withdraw funds in protest of such fervent bigotry, but that would act to also cause harm to all the people who just need clean water and enough food.

I say do it.

Remove all monetary funds from the nation. Still donate food and practical goods, but force it to come up with its own cash. No nation of any common sense ought to be donating money that’s going to partially go towards funding prison operations in Malawi.

Better yet, let’s not just give direct resources; let’s also direct funding. Promote secular ideals and education. Make the nation more than 80-some percent literate; the power of the Catholic Church was long centered on the low literacy rates around the world – someone who cannot read is powerless to fight the lies of priests. The Malawian Christian tragedy is no different.

What’s really ugly about all this is just how obvious it is that religion is the fuel to this fire. This is an extension of the sort of religious fire that burns in the U.S. against gays. In Maine it took roughly a decade to make it illegal to fire someone for being gay. (‘You want to work that cash register? No, faggot!’) In most other states, it remains legal to fire based upon sexual orientation. People who hate gays want to strip them of their basic rights – and more importantly, their basic humanity. The only impediment in the U.S. to the criminalization of homosexuality is the civil libertarian strengths of the Constitution. (Not to be confused with economic libertarian strengths: no such thing exists.) Without those influencing the very cultural of America, who knows just how far the religious would take their bigotry? Perhaps a high rate of literacy would help hold back criminalization to this extreme, but it’s difficult to say. After all, a number of states have had laws which made sodomy a crime.

Another significant issue in the bigotry of Malawian Christians is the lack of separation of church and state. Without any barrier, any rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, religious dogma holds an undue sway on government. Those who are silly enough to think freedom of religion somehow doesn’t also inherently mean freedom from religion ought to reflect on the jailing of Chimbalanga and Monjeza. Their fate has in large part been dealt to them by religion and its entanglement with government.

Buddy Holly

He was really convinced Peggy Sue had made a serious error in judgement.

Thought of the day

Fire, chairs, and PBR do mix well.