New Jersey, Tennessee, and emotional distress

New Jersey passed an excellent law earlier this year in partial response to the bullying-caused death of Tyler Clementi. (The process of developing the law began prior to Clementi’s tragic death.) Primarily directed at the junior high and high school levels, the law provides administrators easier ways of dealing with bullies. This follows from the basic premise that harassment is not okay, even between minors.

I mention New Jersey’s law for two reasons. First, it bears relevance to a recent law passed in Tennessee:

A new Tennessee law makes it a crime to “transmit or display an image” online that is likely to “frighten, intimidate or cause emotional distress” to someone who sees it. Violations can get you almost a year in jail time or up to $2500 in fines…

The new legislation adds images to the list of communications that can trigger criminal liability. But for image postings, the “emotionally distressed” individual need not be the intended recipient. Anyone who sees the image is a potential victim. If a court decides you “should have known” that an image you posted would be upsetting to someone who sees it, you could face months in prison and thousands of dollars in fines.

I say this bears relevance to the law in New Jersey because of the second reason I’m posting this. Some random scrotebag on a friend’s Facebook wall thinks the two laws are equally or nearly as bad as each other. It’s obvious this person is an idiot. The law in New Jersey protects individuals from systematic harassment. The law in Tennessee prevents people from posting offensive images. There really is no comparison. Opposition to one is a macho-bullshit exercise in chest-thumping for the small dicked whereas opposition to the other is premised in the U.S. constitution:

If you’re posting…say, pictures of Mohammed, or blasphemous jokes about Jesus Christ, or harsh cartoon insults of some political group [then you’ve violated this law]…Pretty clearly unconstitutional, it seems to me.

It’s inane to me that people who can’t make such simple distinctions manage to dress themselves in the morning.

She won’t say yes

Michele Bachmann is stupid, but not stupid enough to take up such a sure loss:

Amy Myers, a high school sophomore from Cherry Valley, New Jersey, has thrown down the gauntlet, challenging the Minnesota Representative to a debate and public test on the constitution, U.S. history, and civics.

Myers says Bachmann’s frequent errors, misstatements and distortions aren’t just bad for civic discourse — they’re bad for women.

“Though politically expedient, incorrect comments cast a shadow on your person and by unfortunate proxy, both your supporters and detractors alike often generalize this shadow to women as a whole,” Myers writes.

So to show that Bachmann isn’t a great representative of her gender’s intellectual capacity, Myers proposes a battle of wits.

Bachmann knows she would be wrecked. Aside from the fact that she doesn’t seem to have even the most basic historical facts correct, she has a Teabagger point of view. That means she holds to the false notion that the U.S. is a Christian nation and that it has its founding in Christianity. (A Teabagger who doesn’t know American history? Weird, I know.) This would be more embarrassing than when Christine O’Donnell asked where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state.

I do hope she accepts, though. Now that Donald Trump is fading, the nation really could use another punching bag.

Catholics create funny sign

There is a sign by American Atheists in New Jersey that says, “You KNOW it’s a Myth. This Season, Celebrate REASON!” I personally disapprove of the capricious capitalization, but the message has reportedly been making an impact.

Mr Silverman said despite the fact that the billboard has only been up for a few days, he and his group are calling the campaign a success.

‘We’re getting a lot of response from closeted atheists saying: “Thank you for putting it up.”’

I’m sure it’s also causing a lot of discussion, and that’s always good for a minority position when it is the minority that is directing the initial talk.

But now the Catholics have responded with a sign of their own.

“You know it’s real,” the newer billboard tells drivers passing the corner of Dyer Avenue and West 31st Street in Manhattan. “This season, celebrate Jesus.”

That capitalization in the Catholic sign is better than in the atheist sign (and not as depicted in the news article), but it could be improved.

But I digress.

Look at how the signs match up. The Catholic sign, intentionally placed on the other side of a New Jersey-New York tunnel as the atheist sign is suppose to be a direct response. The atheist sign says (ignoring its particular capitalization), “You know it’s a myth”, with the Catholic sign responding, “You know it’s real.” Okay, fair enough. That’s pretty straight-forward. Not really all that great or especially effective since it doesn’t distract from the atheist message, instead implying that the atheist message is worthy of some sort of attention, but it’s at least not terrible. But then the next line in the atheist sign is, “This season, celebrate reason!” And how do the Catholics respond? This season, celebrate Jesus.” While I appreciate the decision not to use an exclamation point, do they really want to imply there is a contrast between reason and Jesus? I mean, of course they aren’t trying to do that, and of course there really is quite a stark contrast, but anyone comparing the two billboards is forced to conclude that there is a divide between the two – and the Catholics surely do not want that.

But I guess I shouldn’t expect the Catholic church to offer a thoughtful response.

Pastor: Stay away from Facebook, married couples

A nobody pastor from New Jersey has told married members of his congregation to stop using Facebook. He says the site too often leads to marital trouble.

‘I’ve been in extended counseling with couples with marital problems because of Facebook for the last year and a half.

‘What happens is someone from yesterday surfaces, it leads to conversations and there have been physical meet-ups. The temptation is just too great.’

It isn’t that surprising that religious leaders are struggling with change. It virtually always is religion that stands in the way or at least in opposition to progress. And every time, people eventually realize the strength of change and just brush past religion.

The fact is, Facebook is one of the most important creations of the past decade. It has contributed to the fundamental change in how we interact with each other, and I think it has done so for the overall good. While one of its drawbacks happens to be the use of the system by inept older people, this is also one of its strengths. But take note: when I say “older people”, I’m not simply referring to age. I’m talking about an “old person mindset”. That’s a mindset that dismisses new facts for old tradition. If anything does that, it’s religion. Facebook and other social media have the ability to bring people with old, obsolete perspectives into reality.

But two more points: First, it’s a load of garbage that this nobody has gotten so much attention. Provided that he has no formal training and is merely a Reverend goes to the point Gnu Atheists are always making: we give undue respect to people based upon religion. This guy appears to have absolutely no qualifications for giving marital advice any more than any random scrub does. I want a reason why I should listen to him, not an appeal to unearned respect.

Second, there’s a follow-up story about this nobody pastor.

The Rev. Cedric Miller didn’t need Facebook to be part of an extramarital affair. The pastor who banned Facebook had three-way sex affair.

Miller, 48, who gained national attention this week when he banned his church’s leadership from using Facebook because he said it is a portal to infidelity, had himself engaged in a three-way relationship with his wife and a man a decade ago, according to testimony he gave in a criminal case.

While entertaining, who gives a shit? If there’s anything I despise, it’s this persistent fallacy of dismissing arguments from people who are hypocritical. We have plenty of reasons to dismiss Miller’s points about Facebook. We don’t need to try to ignore his arguments by attacking him personally. Unless we have a reason to think he’s just making it all up and lying, Miller is irrelevant to the strength of the points being made.

Another good example of rule internalization

Rule internalization is a significant problem. It places rules above reason and our fellow humans. It’s an ugly little thing that often doesn’t take into account things that are actually happening. One small example I can recall from back in my high school days involved the cafeteria doors. One set was for going in, one was for going out (each on opposing ends of the room). The reason was to avoid massive jams when the bell rang and a bunch of people were going in and out. Okay, fair enough. But the people ‘guarding’ the doors enforced the rule beyond its point; even during lunch when few to no people were going through the doors it wasn’t allowed to exit the in-door or enter the out-door. At that point the rule lost all meaning and just became another non-educational tactic of arbitrary control and enforcement. (I know, in high school? Crazy.)

In the same rigid spirit as that, some silly neighbor in New Jersey made a silly complaint.

Police in the US state of New Jersey have ordered a family to cover up their snow sculpture of the famous nude Venus de Milo after a neighbour complained.

Eliza Gonzalez sculpted the snow-woman with her son and daughter on her front lawn in Rahway following a snowstorm.

Many people praised their creation, but a police officer told them a neighbour had found it too risque, she said.

When given the option of covering the sculpture up or knocking it down, she dressed it in a bikini top and sarong.

“We didn’t want to have any problem with the police so we covered it up,” Ms Gonzalez told the AFP news agency.

The internalization here should be obvious. The neighbor is equating nudity with pornography; he/she has been conditioned or has become stupid enough to internalize the idea that the bare human body is always an object of sex. Who wants to bet this person is religious? The immature view of sexuality certainly suggests as much.

But [Ms. Gonzalez] now thinks the snowy Venus looks “more objectified and sexualised” than it did before the authorities intervened.

Aside from the obvious problem of a person dumbly believing nudity always equals sex, there’s this issue of actually equating the body with sex when that was never the intention. The bikini top throws a flare of sexual energy at this front yard snow sculpture, entirely ruining what it’s really all about, its artistic qualities, and the general impressiveness of what this mom created with her children. Rule internalization only makes things worse.