The Battle of Good and Evil…

Today I read (watched actually) the 666th post on the blog (or yolog) on the Blog of the Angry Aussie. For his 666th post, he decided to talk about the concepts of good and evil. Well worth listening to what he said if you have a few minutes, because he makes some excellent points.

If I understand what he is saying correctly, he feels that the ideas of Good and Evil are abstractions that have no real definable meaning, and that because of that, there is no such thing as absolute good, or absolute Evil. He raised some good points, with some compelling examples, such as the Nazis, and how none of them thought they were evil, and how evil actions are really a matter of perspective rather than any concrete idea.

But while I agree with a lot of what he said, I do disagree on some of the fundamental implications of his position. Hence this post. I do believe there is a universal definition of Good and a universal definition of Evil. And no, I’m not talking about universal good/evil in relation to, (for Instance) God, and the forces of good fighting against the devil and the forces of evil. I’m talking about how we define the basic earthbound humans daily battle with the moral and ethical questions that drive our actions.

There are a lot of things that are universal in this world. Laws of energy, nature, physics, etc. are inviolate. When we break one of those laws, it isn’t because we really broke it, but rather because we didn’t truly understand it to begin with. I think that universally applicable concepts of good and evil exist in the same way.

I believe that there must be some universally acceptable idea of good and evil, otherwise we would not be able to recognize the individual instances of one from the other, regardless of our individual beliefs. I think that this is a very important point. I think our problem is that we really do not understand the idea of what “Good” or “Evil” truly means at a universal level.

What this means to me, is that the biggest mistake people make with respect to defining good and evil is that they apply too specific a filter on what they consider good and what they consider evil. It is often a function of their cultural or religious belief system, or their cultural morals, or social normalcy, or any random thing they were brought up to believe.

None of these, from my perspective, are good ways to determine the benevolence or malevolence of a person or action, because they are all rooted in a human way of thinking that assumes the thinker understands the difference, or is the good guy. I believe that in order to truly define good and evil as universal concepts, we must learn to think outside of our petty differences, and in terms of a much, much broader picture, otherwise our definition of Good and Evil will, by definition, not be universal in any way, shape or form.

But then the question becomes, is it possible for a human to think in such broad terms? Well, I think so. After all, there are social laws that are universal. Laws that do exist, in one form or another, regardless of religion creed or belief system. A typical example is “The Golden Rule”. Do unto others and all that jazz.

Lets take Mr. A and the example of the Nazi’s. Sure, Nazi’s Germans never woke up every moring and said, “Today would be a great day to be evil.” No, they justified what they did using some altruistic sounding, though heinously misguided, rationalization.

Clearly, your average German walking the streets of Germany today would consider what the Nazis did evil. But why did the Germans of the time not think so? Was it because of a different perspective? And if it was, was that a reasonable perspective?

My answer to the first question is: because they were lying to themselves. And to the last two: No. No way in hell. Why? Because they violated the golden rule. Unless it makes sense to you that if another culture considers yours inferior, that they ought to take the initiative to wipe yours off the face of the earth, nobody can argue that it was a “good” thing.

It’s amazing how quickly peoples perspectives become irrelevant if you correctly apply the Golden Rule to the scenario. Things that people say makes sense suddenly contradict themselves under that paradigm, and the theoretical complications brought about by “differences in perspective” suddenly don’t mean much.

My point here is this. If a concept as simple, as straightforward and easy to apply (if you aren’t lying to yourself) as the Golden Rule, can be applied so universally, regardless of culture, creed and/or belief, then there must be some universal way to define actions that fall in line with the golden rule, and actions that violate it.

And if that exists, then, to my thinking, it follows that there must be some concrete definition to universal Good, and universal Evil… I think that most of us are usually just too egocentric to properly define it…

666-The nature of evil – [Angry Aussie]

More handgun mayhem.

A recent case regarding whether an Oregon school teacher could bring her handgun to school has been decided:

Shirley Katz, who has a legal permit to carry a concealed handgun, argued she needed the Glock semi-automatic pistol to protect herself from her ex-husband. She sued the school district when it told her carrying a gun was against a district policy prohibiting guns.

Circuit Judge G. Philip Arnold agreed with the district, saying “The District has a right to enforce this policy.” he noted that employees “accept their jobs subject to, and knowing, the policy.” – [Yahoo/Reuters]

Well now. That’s too bad. I can sympathize with the need for the district to remain in control. But this ruling won’t prevent any disgruntled students, irate ex-husbands, explosive bearing gang members or crazed faculty from bringing firearms on campus either.

Unless the district installs metal detectors. And hires some really burly security guards. But of course they’d have to arm the security guards, ’cause they would be useless against an armed assailant if they didn’t have a projectile weapon of some sort. Like a taser. Or a firearm. Except your average taser has an average range of about 15 feet. And is single shot. Not much help against a firearm wielding opponent. Unless they are less than 15 feet in front of you, and you are a crack shot.

It seems to me that while the district seems to be ignoring the basic fact that these rules do not protect the ones who follow them. Only the ones who break them. They do not prevent anyone from bringing a firearm into the school, unless the rule is supplemented by active security measures, such as metal detectors and random spot checks that physically prevent them from being broken. And that just breeds an atmosphere of oppression. Not to mention that even those measures can be circumvented.

So what exactly is the point of such a restriction? At the end of the day, it seems entirely easier to just arm the teachers. It would be much, much cheaper, and orders of magnitude more effective. If not with firearms, then at least with tasers. Sticking ones head in the sand in a gunfight only guarantees that ones hind quarters will get shot off…

Teacher loses fight to take gun to class – [Yahoo/Reuters]

Guns, violence, and you…

There’s an interesting case taking shape in Washington. It involves guns and the second amendment. Looky:

The justices are facing a decision about whether to hear an appeal from city officials in Washington, D.C., wanting to keep the capital’s 31-year ban on handguns. A lower court struck down the ban as a violation of the Second Amendment rights of gun ownership.

The prospect that the high court might define gun rights under the Constitution is making people on both sides of the issue nervous.

Are they now…?

Critics say the law has done little to curb violence, mainly because guns obtained legally from the district or through illegal means still are readily available.

And I just so happen to be one of those critics…

Heller said Washington remains a dangerous place to live. “People need not stand by and die,” he said in court papers.

And I would tend to agree…

He said the Second Amendment gives him the right to keep working guns, including handguns, in his home for his own protection. -[Yahoo/AP]

We shall see. To be perfectly honest, this whole debate makes no sense, and really overlooks the fundamentals of the problem at hand.

Removing guns from the picture will not remove the threat of violence. The Brady bunch seem to think that guns are a big problem in our society. They are wrong. Our society is jacked up. That’s the biggest problem with our society today. They need to focus on fixing our societal problems, not treating the symptoms of the these problems.

Even if they are to make all firearms illegal in the US, criminals who need weapons will simply get them on the black market. They are simply making it difficult for law abiding citizens to acquire guns. The criminal element doesn’t use legal channels to procure firearms anyway, so it won’t make any significant difference to them. And while this is a secondary issue, violating another’s rights just so your irrational fears can be assuaged is sheer, unadulterated nonsense.

And no matter what any law makers say, law enforcement officers cannot possibly protect everyone. The result? Law abiding citizens of the good old U.S. of A. will be left defenseless, while the criminals remain armed. If an armed robber breaks into my home while I’m in bed one night, I would consider being unarmed a darned bad position to be in. But somehow this group of illogical, emotionally blinded gun pacifists seem to think that this won’t ever happen if they make firearms illegal.

The funny thing about these people is that most of them are so focused on the “guns” that they don’t seem to be able to see anything beyond that. Let me give you an example to illustrate how some Brady folk think:

A man is robbed at gunpoint. When asked what the most heinous thing about the experience is, he responds: “Having that gun pointed at me was so scary. He could have shot and killed me! We need better gun control laws.” OK. That sounds rational doesn’t it? But wait, it gets better. A week later he’s robbed at knife point. When questioned again about the experience he proclaims “It’s a good thing he didn’t have a gun. He could have just shot me and taken my money!”. Aaalrighty then. I suppose knives can’t kill then. Right.

A week later this same man gets beat up, in the same area he was robbed twice before, by a high schooler with a baseball bat, then robbed, stripped naked and left bleeding in a ditch. Later, queried once again, he replies, “At least he didn’t have a gun. He could have shot me.” Heh. Sure thing. If you aren’t at least chuckling to yourself at the narrow mindedness of this perspective, you should slap yourself. Twice. Really, really, hard.

Seriously, the man was robbed three times, almost stabbed once, and beaten half to death with a baseball bat, and yet all he could think about is “I didn’t wanna get shot.” Yes, OK, you got me. This story is fictional. But it accurately illustrates the error of the many arguments gun control lobbyists are using. Guns do not cause violence. They are simply a tool, like a knife or a bat.

You are no safer if guns are outlawed because they can still be obtained illegally. And more importantly, you can still be killed, quite easily in fact, without the benefit of a gun. Banning anything that can kill you is a senseless endeavor. Even as you sit there now reading this, there are at least 10 non-firearm related items in your immediate vicinity, that can be used to kill you. Trust me.

Honestly, I think the only people that can make these arguments are people with a blind, abject, paralyzing fear of guns, unable to see nothing else. But the problem is that these people will still continue live in fear, even after guns have been make illegal, and will proceed to try and ban anything and everything they can think of.

Whereas, on the other hand, there are actually some very tangible benefits to everyone being armed. I think a criminal would think twice about robbing some random people on the street, if they though there was a good chance they might get shot in the process. But that could just be me.

Now truth is, I don’t keep a gun cocked and loaded on my nightstand at all times in case of a break in. Primarily because my little cave isn’t likely to get burgled out here in the middle of nowhere. And also because nothing I own is irreplaceable. But I don’t see where I have the right to do anything to prevent others who live in more dangerous neighborhoods from taking steps to defend themselves against a break in. That just isn’t right. And that is where I have a problem with these people.

OK, I’ll stop preaching from atop my pile of automatic rifle crates now.

Supreme Court could take guns case – [Yahoo/AP]

Spotted!: Hello Kitty SpecOps…

You may remember a post I did a while back about Thailands “Hello Kitty” brigade. Well apparently, Hello Kitty operatives have been around for much longer. I finally have proof that there is actually an honest to goodness Hello Kitty anti-terrorist SpecOps team in operation:

Hello Kitty Ops XM-8
[view full size]

Here we see a highly trained Hello Kitty Operator with the highly experimental XM-8 HK, the Hello Kitty Variant of the new XM-8 combat weapon system. We have no information on where or when these pictures were taken, but it is apparent that these guys are highly trained and use the latest cutting-edge weaponry.

Hello Kitty Operator Training
[view full size]

Here we see a Hello Kitty Operator training a new SpecOps recruit. I dunno if that new recruit would feel particularly comfortable if he could see the look on the instructor operators face.

I don’t know about you, but these guys give me the willies. Terrorists had best flee. In terror. Soon even a glimpse of pink out of a terrorists peripheral vision will elicit uncontrollable fear. Yep, the tables have turned…

Contrary Clergymen

You know, I am fully aware that priests are human beings, just like everyone else. But I’d hope that, once you became a man/woman of the cloth, you would at least try to leave behind the things that us regular folks are prone to do. But given some of the news I’ve been reading lately, I’m not sure there is any significance to being a priest anymore.

You have perverted priests, priests being annoying, bell ringing farts, priests engaging in petty feminism, and even priests who are, apparently, not above a little drinking, driving and brawling:

Priest Manuel Raul Ortega, who was not wearing clerical dress but was clutching a prayer book when captured, launched himself at the traffic cop who pulled him over earlier this week.

“The individual became very violent because they were going to tow away his car. He attacked a policeman and was taken away,” said transit department spokesman Hector Lozano on Thursday. – [Yahoo/Reuters]

Yes the Church welcomes everyone with open arms. I know. They are only human. Indeed. And they aren’t cops or government officials. But members of the clergy are often looked up to as the moral pillars of a community, and I’m beginning to think that, much like that Indian judge who was sentenced to take law school all over again, these clergymen/women might benefit from another stint in seminary school…

Drunken priest punches cop, jailed – [Yahoo/Reuters]

Contrary to what the evidence might suggest…

You know, one of the things I find amazing about the current administration is how flexible their definition of events and scenarios are. And how they see whatever they want to see, and declare whatever they see fit, ratified by presidential decree. Even when it is obvious as the light of day that the truth is actually contradictory to the presidents view of things.

Like the President declaring “Mission Accomplished” without having achieved any of the stated mission goals. Or that the national outrage about the war in Iraq is little more than the opinions of a focus group. Or even that global warming is a natural phenomenon. Or that you can win a war with terrorists using conventional warfare. Or that you can introduce national stability into a country torn by civil war using the aforementioned conventional warfare. I could go on, but I think the picture is abundantly clear.

But then again I’ve never governed a country. But when former presidents of said country begin to speak out against the current administrations actions then, well, hey there has to be some merit to it right? Apparently not.

Former president Jimmy Carter, in a recent interview, called out the president on the issue of prisoner torture and the violation of human rights, in regard to:

… secret Justice Department memorandums supporting the use of “harsh interrogation techniques.” These include “head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures,” – [CNN Politics]

The Prez’s response?:

Responding to the newspaper report Friday, Bush defended the techniques used, saying, “This government does not torture people.” – [CNN Politics]

The white house response?:

After reading a transcript of Carter’s remarks, a senior White House official said, “Our position is clear. We don’t torture.” – [CNN Politics]

Well OK then. I am by no means an authority in torture, however slapping a person upside the head until they sing like a bird, sounds like torture to me. I mean, it ain’t exactly the same as a swedish massage now is it? But if the President and White house officials say it’s not torture, well then I stand corrected!

But if I slap my next door neighbor cross-eyed while attempting to find out what he did with the lawn mower I lent him last year, I better not hear any lip about it from the peanut gallery. And I’ll sue whoever calls the police…

Death by Mad Stinkfoot…

It is a rather disturbing thought that it is actually possible to get stabbed to death on account of telling someone their feet possess a, shall we say, “malodorous” quality…

William Antonio Serrano, 20, was charged with murder.

“Serrano and the victim, who are roommates, got into an argument in which the victim told Serrano his feet had a foul odor,” police said in a statement. “At that time, Serrano retrieved a knife and stabbed the victim numerous times.” – [Yahoo/AFP]

Given the actions of this guy immediately after the incident, I have no doubt in my mind that this is a textbook example of amygdala hijacking. However amygdala hijacking is only part of the problem. It usually occurs as a response to something else. And some of these “other” things are downright stupid.

Ya know, people today are entirely too quick to anger, often over trivial matters. Or even absolutely weightless words. What happened the old “sticks and stones” adage? How can someone become mad because they were told their feet stink?

If it’s true, well, I would think that a considerate human being would apologize and try to do something to remedy the problem. If it’s false well, then, why get your tighty whiteys in a twist about it? Let alone get so mad that you stab another human being a few times over it?

Our social values are totally jubar.  It seems like everyone has a right to thier own opinion, except where it disagrees/offends with someone else. Then it auto-magically turns into insensitive blasphemy. I will never understand.

Death. On account of stinky feet. Unbelievable.

Roommate killed over ‘stinky feet’ – [Yahoo/AFP]

War is waged both externally and internally.

A military report stated statistics that soldier suicides are the highest they have ever been for 26 years:

The report, obtained by The Associated Press ahead of its scheduled release Thursday, found there were 99 confirmed suicides among active duty soldiers during 2006, up from 88 the previous year and the highest number since the 102 suicides in 1991 at the time of the Persian Gulf War.

The suicide rate for the Army has fluctuated over the past 26 years, from last year’s high of 17.3 per 100,000 to a low of 9.1 per 100,000 in 2001.

Last year, “Iraq was the most common deployment location for both (suicides) and attempts,” the report said. – [Yahoo/AP]

I always find it sad that we even have to have an army. I realize that humans being the creatures we are, it is sometimes necessary to use force to defend against force. But in this case, I don’t believe it was warranted, and the kinds of mental trauma we put our faithful troops through is really not a just payment for their service.

It is really a crying shame.

Army suicides highest in 26 years – [Yahoo/AP]

The latest oxymoron… “Military Progress”

In this bloggers humble opinion, following in the uncompromising traditional paradox of “Military Intelligence” and “Military Solutions” follows the idea of “Military Progress”:

Even some critics of President Bush’s Iraq war policies are conceding there is evidence of recent improvements from a military standpoint. But Bush supporters and critics alike agree that these have not been matched by any noticeable progress on the political front.

Despite U.S. pressure, Iraq’s parliament went on vacation for a month after failing to pass either legislation to share the nation’s oil wealth or to reconcile differences among the factions. And nearly all Sunni representatives in the government have quit, undermining the legitimacy of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite.

OK, so apparently there has been no real governmental progress in Iraq, no political stability. What they do have is a stalled legislature, parliament on vacation and the mass departure of all Sunni reps. But that troop surge sure is is going good!! Yay for “Military Progress”!! So that’s why we are there is it? Military progress? Huh?

Actually, read the second paragraph of the excerpt again… I think the real reason we are in Iraq is hidden in there. I’ll give you a hint… Black Gold… And notice that it comes before the reconciliation of the different factions… Yeah…

Petraeus asserted that “we are making progress. We have achieved tactical momentum in many areas, especially against al-Qaida Iraq, and to a lesser degree against the militia extremists.” Still, he told Fox News on Tuesday that “there are innumerable challenges.”

Yeah. Innumerable. Like the fact that terrorists are guerrillas whose modus operandi usually does not include toe-to-toe battles with conventional armies. We can’t beat terrorism with sheer force of numbers people. Wake up!

“Barring a miracle, there will be very little political progress to point to in mid-September,” Cordesman said Thursday in a briefing on his trip.

Michele Flournoy, a former Pentagon defense strategist and now president of the Center for a New American Security, said that “the clock in Washington is running down pretty fast. There’s sort of a wall next March-April. That’s when they’ll have to start replacing units, which will hit the 15-month mark.” Bush recently extended tours of duty from 12 months to 15 months.

“They’re going to have some very tough choices then. Either the ‘surge’ will de facto end and they’ll start bringing people out because there’s no units to replace them. Or you’re going to have to have a presidential decision to extend tours from 15 months to 18 months,” Flournoy said.

Yeah. Lets just keep increasing the tour lengths. Throw more troops out there. Keep on burning our tax dollars on a fruitless pursuit of terrorists hiding on their own turf with home court advantage. They will keep hiding until we leave. 6 months from now, a year, it won’t matter. And just think, in the interim we can create more terrorists by racking up civilian casualties engage and eliminate insurgents. You know. While we are in the neighborhood… Yeah. Great plan.

“The problem is that nobody in the United States sees any significant progress on the political front. The Shiites and Sunni factions in the government don’t seem to be able to get along. And that makes Congress wonder whether we’re making any real progress. Because, even with better security, the country can’t figure out how to take care of itself,” Thompson added. – [Yahoo/AP]

Thank you! Finally! A voice of reason. We can chase terrorists till we are blue in the face. If that country is unable to maintain a working, self regulating government, all on it’s own, it will all have been for naught. We should have thought of that before we even went in there. Oh. That’s right. We let the military do the thinking…

Iraq critics concede military progress – [Yahoo/AP]

The family that shoots together…

Given the number of times I have made passive references to the futility of gun control in a few of my last posts, I thought it was interesting to come across the following:

The Second Amendment tells us that ‘a well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.’ Two hundred years later, in 1999, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives estimated that there are about 215 million guns in America–at least one firearm in half the households in the country. The anti-gun Brady Campaign, however, puts that number at 192 million guns, owned by 39 percent of the population. – [MSNBC]

Now I found this article interesting because I find that I have been ranting a lot lately about how folks like to blame everything but themselves or their society for the problems of the world. The Brady Campaign is one such organization. They have taken it one step further and decided to make an inanimate object the focus of their efforts.

Their site expresses their “outrage” at the increase of “gun violence in America” and whatnot. However, they do not seem to care much about what causes that violence. Their only concern seems to be that firearms ought not be involved. I find that an incredibly narrow minded, tunnel visioned way of thinking.

Ironically, the Brady Campaigns gun ownership statistics were highly skewed when compared to the figures the BATF estimates. Now given that the BATF is a government agency that works with these cases first hand, on a daily basis, and the Brady Bunch would rather not see any guns in existence at all, I’m inclined to think that the BATFs numbers would be more accurate. An unrealistic view of reality, in my opinion, is generally the result of a campaign based on emotion, rather than logic.

It’s a cliched phrase, but it bears repeating. Guns don’t kill people. Ignorant / Unimaginative /Badly raised people with guns kill people. The Brady campaign is focusing all of it’s efforts on reducing the overall number of guns in the hope that this will reduce gun violence. But I believe that only a fool wages war on an inanimate object. They are only tilting at windmills. I’m not going to go over the arguments why this is a waste of time, because you’ve probably all heard them.

However I will say that this is yet another, particularly ludicrous, crutch. According to the BATF, over half the households in the country own at least one firearm. This means that gun owners are not a minority, nor are they limited to criminals, or gun crazed nut jobs.

There has to be another reason for the increase in gun violence. I would submit that it is an overall increase in violence in general. The Brady campaign doesn’t seem to want to even acknowledge that possibility. And they have wasted who knows how much money campaigning to reduce the symptoms of the problem without, as far as I can see, spending a dime trying to diagnose and cure the disease.

Our society needs revamping. Our parenting skills need improvement. Our culture is breeding a new kind of angst. And the victims of this form of self/world hate are not particular about how the decide to get the message across. If there are no guns, they will use improvised explosives. If there are no explosives, they will use knives. If knives are  outlawed (heh) Some could decide to go on a vehicular manslaughter rampage. If cars get outlawed, they will simply poison the water supply. There is no end to it.

The presence of any weapon, is at best only a means to an end. And the means are many.  in order to solve the problem, we have to identify and solve the root causes, not blindly chase after the symptoms.

One nation, under gun – [MSNBC]