In the West we shake our heads, and very rightly so in my opinion, at sharia, Islamic law rooted in the culture of 7th century AD Arabia. This is the body of thought that leads to judicial stonings and mutilations to this day.

The legislative assemblies of Ireland and Lithuania, each just a short boat ride from Swedish shores, have recently shown that the mindset they cultivate is certainly not that of AD 700. They are aiming for Old Testament times, 700 BC or earlier.

In Ireland, blasphemous speech is now illegal. “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” (Exodus 20:7)

In Lithuania, is is now illegal for media and schools to spread information that “agitates for homosexual, bisexual relations, or polygamy.” “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” (Leviticus 20:13)

To all free-thinking and tolerant people in Ireland and Lithuania, this must of course be a huge embarrassment. You have my sympathy! I hope these laws will not mark the beginning of a slide backward to the Bronze Age for your countries.

Comments

  1. #1 Rob Jase
    July 16, 2009

    Apparently they haven’t read the studies about the effectiveness of prayer in healing.

    Virtually every time someone prays to heal or be healed nothing happens, a vain effort I’d say.

  2. #2 Sigmund
    July 16, 2009

    I think you are mistaken about the Irish law. It isn’t the traditional definition of blaspheming against a God or Gods that is being written into law but a completely new definition that is much more up to date.
    I doubt that even the Scientologists could have come up for a better wording than that chosen by the idiotic Irish Justice Minister.
    The illegal action of blasphemy in Ireland is to purposefully say or publish something that is offensive to many members of a particular religion. In other words its now illegal to criticise or satirize religious beliefs from those religions with particularly touchy followers.

  3. #3 Paul Browne
    July 16, 2009

    The new blasphemy law make me embarrassed for my mother country, but fortunately there are those prepared to redeem Ireland’s honour by discrediting, and ultimately repealing this stupid law.

    http://blasphemy.ie/2009/07/14/speeches-from-atheist-ireland-agm/

    I suspect that this law will either be repealed after the next election if it is not enforced, or if it is enforced be taken to the European Court of Human Rights who will almost certainly rule against it, in which case the Irish government will again be obliged to repeal it. Either way the Irish government and parliament have needlessly got themselves in a lot of bother, and richly deserve all the mockery and contempt that is coming their way.

  4. #4 Badger3k
    July 16, 2009

    I may be completely mistaken, but from what I understand, Ireland had a Constitutional provision that said they had to have a blasphemy law. Rather than get a referundum and change the constitution, one lawmaker wrote the law and said he wrote it to “make it almost impossible to charge anyone” (paraphrase) – since I got this from a podcast while driving, I couldn’t check it out, but it does fit with what I remember when this first came out. Definitely not the best situation, if true, but not as bad as it seems.

    As for Lithuania, that is sad, but IIRC the Church is strong in that country and I can see them sliding backwards quite easily, which is very depressing.

  5. #5 Sigmund
    July 16, 2009

    Badger3K, the claim that it was simply a technical act that would never be enforced has indeed been made however if that is the case why the particular wording and fines? It would be much simpler saying that the blasphemed God in question has to instigate the libel action rather than it being dependent on a number of outraged followers (in the case of modern Ireland this is most likely to be fundamentalists of some branch of Christianity or Islam).
    Why not make the fine something paltry like one cent . whereby it is simply wasting the courts time and money to prosecute – so they wont.
    Instead it is a very workable law that targets one group more than any other – those that criticise religion as a whole – in other words atheists.
    The best solution to this law is a test case designed to puncture the law. There are certain provisions that being offensive towards religious beliefs is acceptable so long as there is some artistic or eduational merit or intent on the part of the offender.
    In my opinion stating something like all the major religions have as much factual backing as stories about leprechauns and are about as likely to be true is offensive to many religious people. On the other hand I think it is also educational. The most logical step for the Irish to take is to use a test case of this sort to state that offending a religious belief is itself an educational tactic and is thus allowable under the law. This would make the law contradictory and unenforcable but I thought the government don’t want to enforce it anyway, do they?

  6. #6 Martin R
    July 16, 2009

    If one piece of a country’s legislation is poorly phrased, then the solution to the problem surely cannot be to harmonise other laws with the buggy bit.

  7. #7 Feral
    July 16, 2009

    RE the comment above by Sigmund: How , I ask, does this up to date definition of blasphemy change a blessed thing? If anything, it shows a frightened nation who is either afraid to offend anyone because they think it unseemly, or they are appear to be afraid of radical Muslims and Wacko wingnut “Christians”. Where does that leave freedom of expression. Perhaps Eire needs a courage transplant from the French, Germans or Swedes ( all of whom have stood up in one way or another to the tyrannical forces of religious extremism).

  8. #8 ^
    July 16, 2009

    The Lithuanian law is certainly not promoted by the Catholic church, as it also forbids information that gives credence to paranormal phenomena.

    Atheism ftw! once more.

  9. #9 Sigmund
    July 16, 2009

    Feral said
    “RE the comment above by Sigmund: How , I ask, does this up to date definition of blasphemy change a blessed thing? If anything, it shows a frightened nation who is either afraid to offend anyone because they think it unseemly, or they are appear to be afraid of radical Muslims and Wacko wingnut “Christians”
    Despite being an Irish atheist myself (although living in Godless Sweden!) I have no idea regarding the public want of such legislation in my old home country. I got the impression that this was a piece of legislation that was not being campaigned for by any particular church and was more the personal initiative of the Minister in question who wants to bring a more traditional moral base to the laws of the land.
    Despite the fact that it was not called for by the population at large I think that it actually does reflect the feelings of a large percentage of Irish people. They would indeed like to make offensive statements about religions illegal. There is no real commitment to the principles of free speech in Ireland – Monty Pythons ‘Life of Brian’ was banned for many years for exactly the reasons behind this current legislation. I would suggest that the attitudes to religion amongst the population are particularly catholic in nature – nobody really thinks that deeply about religion, either to analyze it or to criticize it and to do either is seen as being somehow beyond the pale. I think thats the reason why Father Ted, the religious comedy written by two atheists, was so successful, both amongst Irish atheists and amongst religious Irish people (I know a few Jesuits who love the show).
    I personally think this law is fantastic for Irish atheists. Think of the opportunity to get Richard Dawkins in the dock explaining his ‘God of the Old Testament’ paragraph while the politicians and priests twist in embarrassment at the hilarious spectacle they have created.

  10. #10 johannes
    July 16, 2009

    It’s even worse in Germany; according to § 166 of the German penal code, blasphemy is only a punishable offence if the insult “is suitable to disturb the public order”. In other words: if the adherents of the insulted religion or sect are likely to react violently, their religion ist protected by the law. If they are peaceful, you are free to insult their beliefs. Good for Qutbists, bad for Unitarian Universalists…

  11. #11 Gealach
    July 16, 2009

    This is really scary… :-/

  12. #12 paddy
    July 16, 2009

    Oh how I wish I could comment on this, but I am on vacation…

  13. #13 Mike Olson
    July 16, 2009

    On the one hand, as an American, I feel good to know that we aren’t the only country on the planet with more than it’s quota of idiots. ON the otherhand, I’m becoming more horrified by the human condition, even under the guise of providing civilization, we are still predominantly a band of morons. So, to this I can only say: God Damn it! Go gays! Go gays! As a cheerleader for gays I can only hope no one makes me wear a skirt or carry flaming pink pom pons. I’m pretty flexible, but I don’t want to renounce conservative fascism, only to have liberal fascism inflicted upon me.

  14. #14 Paul Murray
    July 17, 2009

    If it is the case that this law is there to satisfy a technicality of the Irish constitution, why not specify that the only one who has standing to sue for blasphemy is God himself, and he must make the complaint in person?

  15. #15 Sigmund
    July 17, 2009

    Technically speaking the new law isn’t about blasphemy at all.
    Its really a law enforcing accomodationism.

  16. #16 Stephen Evans
    July 17, 2009

    You say “In Lithuania, is is now illegal for media and schools to spread information that “agitates for homosexual, bisexual relations, or polygamy”.

    This is not true. Legislation was passed, but following a letter writing campaign by secularists, humanists and Human Rights groups, this law has been overturned by outgoing President Valdas Adamkus.

    The law is Ireland is a disgrace. Atheists will soon be testing this law out to see if it enforceable. I suspect it isn’t.

  17. #17 Alexander
    July 17, 2009

    You are wrong, my friend. It is shame that countries like Lithuania are so few. They show us that we have to wake up and understand that homosexual practice is extremely harmful to our society. We do not want to harm generations to understand that.

  18. #18 Martin R
    July 17, 2009

    Stephen, that’s excellent news! Source please?

    Alexander, would you please explain how, concretely, homosexual practice harms a society?

  19. #19 Keith
    July 17, 2009

    You do just wonder about the stupidity of this,because it is effectively a kind of religious terror law and the Irish Parliament do seem to have joined the battle on the side of Al Queda. In my opinion,the Catholic Church is constantly causing outrage to other religions and I am sure that Atheists intend to contest every instance and even whether child abuse is a physical blasphemy. You also wonder about the morality because Ireland is apparently a Nation where you can abuse children with sexual torture and then buy your way out of it. What kind of society protects such people from prison? Obviously one that places some of the most, in my personal opinion, heinous doctrine, above morality, ethics and even support for goodness.

  20. #20 Martin R
    July 17, 2009

    Anyone who offers to mediate between you and a god should in my opinion be treated with the greatest distrust.

  21. #21 jos
    July 17, 2009

    methinks the Lithuanian’s have the right idea. children shouldn’t be subjected to deviant lifestyles at an early age. it’s not healthy. it’s confusing at a time when there is a great deal of confusion to begin with. i would never suggest there should be active persecution of these lifestyles & i believe that the individuals involved with those lifestyles should be considered equals under the law. equality though, does not mean that they should be able to suggest that their lifestyle is somehow okay or promote it to be equal to the natural way (most especially to the most impressionable of those in the country).

  22. #22 kai
    July 17, 2009

    equality though, does not mean that they should be able to suggest that their lifestyle is somehow okay

    Yeah, right! Consider my neighbours Gus and Tom. They go to work in the mornings, work all day and then they get home in the evenings, cook dinner, and then they watch tv or read books. Sometimes they even go to art galleries or museums! What would the world look like if our children thought it was OK to behave like that!?

  23. #23 Martin R
    July 17, 2009

    Quite fascinating how homophobes seem to believe that if gay kids don’t get positive messages about homosexuality, then they will, I guess, not be gay? Or is the idea that being gay is an extremely attractive proposition that might lure anybody in if they hear good things about it?

  24. #24 Andrew from Oz
    July 17, 2009

    What a ridiculous article – commenting that making homosexuality and blasphemy illegal is a “700BC mentality”! What about homosexuality then? The attitude of many within the homosexual community and their allies the “gay friendly” liberal left, is reminiscent of classical Greece – something like 400-250BC – or even earlier Sodom & Gomorrah! If there has been any “slide backward” it’s down to plumb the depths of the moral abyss into which the ancient Greeks and then Romans fell – and we know what happened to them, don’t we? Collapse of genuine religious belief, and immorality followed by self-worship, decadence, social degradation and then disintegration, and finally either slavery or collapse … and deservedly so.
    In response to specific comments:
    Rob Jase: do some more research – even the mere placebo effect of faith is critically important in health issues alone.
    Sigmund: Leprechauns may have been based on tales of the ancient Picts and be from a combination of myth and traditions about a disappearing original indigenous population that were carried on and transformed through the retelling in Celtic society – ie there may have indeed been a kernel of truth in the ancient stories. As for religion: you clearly haven’t done your research into the ancient Israelites, I suggest you do some before you betray your ignorance even more.
    Feral: re your comment of the Eire needing a courage transplant from French, Germans and Swedes, who’ve “stood up to the tyrannical forces of religious extremism” – How utterly offensive and ignorant! I seem to recall that each of those nations you mentioned were once empires that oppressed other peoples – Ireland was oppressed for 750yrs + and yet never gave up the fight: so who needs the courage transplant?!!! Furthermore, France and Germany became dominated by ideologies and then controlled by tyrants, which caused the deaths of 10s of millions of people and the devastation of Europe over the course of 150years, and Sweden is a country that in the name of a so-called “equal opportunity” agenda regularly persecutes those who practice their Christian beliefs and preach from the Bible in churches – so tell me, which nation practices extremism???!!!
    Mike Olson – that “liberal fascism” you speak of as fearing is already happening: in the name of “equal opportunity” Christians are being persecuted for practicing their beliefs and preaching the Bible even from their own pulpits: in Sweden, Denmark, the UK and also in the USA (in some places) …. I don’t know about other countries in Europe …

  25. #25 DianaGainer
    July 17, 2009

    Now that the Irish and Lithuanians have set upon the old-fashioned Texan path, let us hope they will next outlaw boiling calves in milk, beard-cutting, and the allowing of witches to live within the community — a community in which everybody gotta live in a tent according to some interpretations of some books of some Holy Writ. Then there’s that statute about how much a feller can sell his daughter into slavery for and how long a slave can be kept a slave. Let’s make sure it’s ALL put into the lawcode now. No half measures! What’s the punishment for breaking these rules? Do we all come out and stone the miscreants like in the olden days? Or shall we burn folks at the stake this week? Where are the marshmallows?!

  26. #26 Prup (aka Jim Benton)
    July 17, 2009

    Before I deal with the nonsense from Andrew I want to question combining these two stories, mostly because it can cause us to underestimate the seriousness — potentially — of the second one. The Irish story is pretty trivial, since I can’t imagine the law adtually being used. At least not more than once, because any decent lawyer would just have to call in a range of ministers and priests and demonstrate that each one has opinions the others would consider blasphemous. “Salvation by faith alone’ contrasted with ‘salvation by faith and works’ could tie up the court for days alone.

    On the other hand, if the Lithuania story shows that the Watchmen On The Walls — a particularly violent anti-gay group centered in Latvia with a tie-in to several US gay bashings — is spreading throughout the Baltic States, this is important and scary.

    Andrew requires a post to himself — it’s hard to cram that many inaccuracies into a post this short.

  27. #27 Prup (aka Jim Benton)
    July 17, 2009

    Now Andrew. First i hope that ‘from Oz’ does not refer to the country imagined by Frank L. Baum, because Baum’s opinions on preachers — at least, not sure whether he believed in a god or not — would fit right in to these comments. You only see a little of this in THE WIZARD — though the Wizard is, himself, an attack on ‘supernaturalism’ — but in the other books he wrote in the series — sadly I lost my own collection so I’d have to spend hours on Project Gutenberg to collect quotes — his comments are sulphurous, and i think preachers were banned from Oz entirely.

    Your knowledge of History is about equal to your knowledge of the Bible. The sin of Sodom was violating the protection that any desert community was obligated to provide strangers. Or it was rape. It was not homosexuality — were you even aware of the earlier appearance of the cities a couple of Chapters earlier. they apparently had a particularly bad reputation — agin, having nothing to do with any sexuality.

    I find it fascinating that you consider that Greece and Rome had ‘genuine religious belief’ as you say. (And I don’t recall Rome as being particularly pro-homosexual.)

    Slavery — if you imply the societies instituted it, you are hardly clear — existed in both societies from the beginning. If you imply that the societies were themselves enslaved, I’d like you to give any hint of a factual basis for that. In fact, the Roman Empie lasted for almost 1300 years — you forget that they merely moved the capital eastwards and continued in unbroken succession until the 13th Century. (The Western part of the empire fell, yes, but that had ceased to be the center of the Empire over a hundred years before.)

    It might be fun to argue the meaning we each give to the word ‘immorality.’ Feel free, I’d have a lot of fun with that.

    The ‘placebo effect of faith’ has been shown to have little effect in health matters, but if you have any references to give us, again, please do. You’ll find we’ve discussed that many times.

    I’ll leave it to Martin to dispute whether Sweden ‘persecutes’ Christians — I’d love to know how you use that word. As for America, I defy you to name one example where “Christians are being persecuted for practicing their beliefs and preaching the Bible even from their own pulpits.” In fact, drop the word persecuted, and give me an example of where a Christian has been prevented from, or penalized for, practicing their own beliefs or preaching from their own pulpit — in their private capacity. A public official may not use the power of the state to advance his own religion — and this is particularly relevant for teachers — an employee may be penalized for ‘witnessing’ on company time, but there is no case of a person being penalized for practising a Christian religion or other ‘mainstream religion’ on his oen time. (I am sure there are examples of non-Christians being fired for this, but they are also rare.)

    In fact, all legislatures and the military actually pay chaplains to minister to their flocks — even chaplains as totally crazy as those ‘endorsed’ by the Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches and (Ret.) Col. Jim Ammerman. (Google him, and ask why this total lunatic is endorsed by the government, if Christians are being persecuted.)

    (I could bring up the fact that atheists are themselves being discriminated against, though not ‘persecuted.’ In a Congress of 535 members, there is, maybe, one atheist. I doubt if an atheist has been, or could be, confirmed for a judicial appointment on the federal level. And I wonder how many employers — particularly Christian ones — would find an excuse to fire someone they knew was an atheist. But I accept that most people are, in fact, religious, and find these strictures difficult but not unreasonable — though they are changing.)

  28. #28 ruud
    July 18, 2009

    Well done Jim, probably wasted time on / for Andrew, but for those that actually think – good logical factual answer.

  29. #29 Carloz
    July 18, 2009

    Re: Stephen Evan’s comment 16 — while it is true that in Lithuania the President vetoed the homphobic/homosexist law, apparently parliament over-rode that veto.

    http://www.legalbrief.co.za/article.php?story=20090717083526942

  30. #30 Prup (aka Jim Benton)
    July 19, 2009

    That is the benefit of having trolls around. Certainly they are unreachable, but I always assume that there are lurkers who have heard the same arguments and — not having been exposed to their reutation — were leaning towards believing them. They’re the most important audience to me. (It’s nice if I am able to give a fellow skeptic ‘new arrows for his quiver’ but there are a lot better people doing that. But getting potential supporters of absurdity to rethink their positions is a much more satisfying goal.)

  31. #31 Prup (aka Jim Benton)
    July 19, 2009

    “reutation’ should have been ‘refutation’ though sometimes telling a supporter about his leader’s reputation has its uses as well.

  32. #32 Andrew from Oz
    July 23, 2009

    For Jim Benton: Thanks for your arguments! No, I’m not indicating I come from Oz, but rather that “Oz” in this instance refers to what we Australians colloquially call Australia, as in the way we pronounce the first syllable. My sympathies for you losing a set of literature that you treasure – I can certainly understand the pain and angst that must have caused!

    Before I start, I must apologise for making a few posts, as there is just so much inaccuracy that I feel I at least must touch on most of them, but in order to do so I must abbreviate events and timelines and yet still take a lot of space (apologies!).

    Anyway, to the debate: you stated that my “knowledge of History is about equal to [my] knowledge of the Bible”, really?!
    Sodom: I suggest that you take more than superficial re-reading of that story (as well as refer to archeological surveys and books), as you will notice a few things if you do:
    #1. Sodom (and Gomorrah) was *not* a “desert community”, if by that you mean a Bedouin-type nomadic or semi-nomadic community and existing in the desert. Instead, it was recognizably an urban culture, hence the reason it was called a “city” by the chronicler, which although by our standards it was probably only a small town to him must have seemed to be a metropolis (if you excuse the Greek!), and thus why it was called a “city”. Additionally, according to the account it was situated in the Jordan Valley near the Dead Sea, which then was apparently richly fertile (Gen 13:5-11), which would have greatly assisted agriculture. Even though the Jordan Valley near the Dead Sea is arid land today, archeologists have accepted the plausibility of a sudden change in climate owing to seismic/geological activity, and that the tar pits that dot the area may have had something to do with the “fire and brimstone” that the account says consumed the cities (especially seeing as there is evidence of sulphur (brimstone) and severe burning in the area). If we consider that these cities probably lay on or near the inland trade route, we can assume that they almost certainly shared in the rich material culture of Canaan in the early Bronze Age as indicated by the archeological record.
    These facts (fertile lands supporting agriculture/animal husbandry, rich material culture, strong possibility of trade) would have been uppermost in Lot’s mind when he chose the fertile lowlands and left the comparatively unfertile uplands of Canaan, ie the Judean Highlands, to Abraham.
    The only nomadic/semi-nomadic people in this account are not the city dwellers but rather the “Hebrews”, called later by the Egyptians “Apiru”, and then “Israel”, and by the Canaanites (it is suggested) the “Shasu”.
    #2 The sin of these cities certainly included the poor treatment of the guest in a community and desire to commit heinous rape, and they already had a bad reputation, as you have correctly recognised, but you have failed to consider Gen18:16, which clearly indicates that the “Sin” of these cities wasn’t merely restricted to Lot’s situation (as the visitors had yet to meet him), but the very evil of their immoral lifestyles (the “cry”/”outcry”) that incited them to commit such an evil act in the first place (and actually prefer to rape the 2 angelic-looking male guests of Lot – excuse the pun!) … *that* is why the 2 angels of the Lord were there in the first place – to warn Lot and his family and get them out of the place which God already was in the process of investigating & condemning, after Abraham’s pleas to save them [Gen 18:16-33 & 19:1-29].
    It is true that their sin that angered God was a whole range of things (including planning the rape of a guest in the community), but among them was the homosexuality they practiced. This is clearly indicated by the way in which the evil of the inhabitants gave rise to the terms “Sodomite”, which refers to the practitioners of general sexual immorality but not specifically (or necessarily) to homosexuality, and “Sodomy”, which does.
    If you examine Biblical writers, you will notice that the way in which they interpreted the account is very similar to the way in which I’ve stated – this is important since they come from a culture much closer to the story than ours and is therefore more likely to be more accurate than a modern interpretation (eg Ezekiel 16:49-51 mentions arrogance, callousness, social injustice and detestable acts, Isaiah 3:9 mentions parading sin with pride, Jude 1:7 mentions fornication and “strange flesh”, 2Peter 2:6-9 mentions their wicked, ungodly and unlawful deeds, etc).
    Compare this story to the town of Gibeah of the tribe of the Benjamin after the conquest/settlement, and the account of the events pertaining to the abuse of the Levite’s wife/concubine (Judges 19-20).
    For further info refer to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodom_and_Gomorrah

    More to Follow …

  33. #33 Andrew from Oz
    July 23, 2009

    For Jim Benton: Greece & Rome:
    All state religions begin at some point with genuine religious practice and belief within the community of which the state is a part, therefore even though the practices can take on a ritualistic interpretation under the control of the rich and powerful in the state (which may lead to the separation of the common man from the community’s religion and thus his eventual alienation from the institutions created therein, belief in the common religion and even society as a whole), it doesn’t preclude the probability (and I would strongly suggest certainty) of those state rituals having origin in at least a once commonly-held (and genuinely believed in) set of religious beliefs … if you still doubt me, ask yourself this: why else would those state beliefs have had such an impact and hold over the people for as long as they did?
    The Roman state religions is an example of this: even in the Imperial age there remained some elements of the original Roman cultus (such as the worship of Janus, the 2 faced god who looked both to the old and the new, etc), and the increasing influence of Greek religion and culture after the adoption of Solon’s Laws by the Roman Republic c454BC (in the form of the Twelve Tables), and the increasing concentration of the leadership Roman religious practices into the hands of an elite didn’t entirely destroy the faith of the weak and the poor – despite how cynically it was being manipulated by people such as Julius Caesar.

    The overwhelming failure of the increasingly dry, corrupt and elitist state religions of Greece and Rome led to the increasing practices of mystical and orgiastic cults rites such as Mithras worship and Bacchus worship; and then eventually to the widespread impact of Christianity.
    Adoption of Greek practices by Rome: this increasingly happened after the adoption of the (Athenian) Laws of Solon by the Roman Republic. Whilst it is true the conservatives within Roman society (like the 2 Catos) looked upon the increasingly libertine morals of classical Greece with disgust and contempt, the younger generation, schooled by Greek slaves, despite their contempt for most Greek war skills (Spartans excepted) were increasingly enamoured of Greek culture – and in one of the few ways they admired Greek warriors they imitated by wearing the red cloaks of the Spartans.

    Societies Enslaved: I would have thought that this would have been obvious!
    Greece, through a process that I would argue was in part moral enervation, was mastered by Philip of Macedon, then Alexander, Mithradates, Rome & etc; and at the same time the quality and originality of its work stagnated and declined (with some later exceptions of course). Of course this was different with each city, but I would argue that the rot began probably before the Peloponnesian War (at least with Athens and the cities of its League). If you don’t happen to think that Greece was enslaved, ask yourself what happened to Thebes and Corinth? (as a hint, the same thing as Miletus in Ionia).
    Rome’s Republic in its mid-later period became increasingly tyrannical to even its own people, with a breaking down of the social fabric that admittedly involved lots of factors, but at its centre included the unbridled ambition of powerful men unrestrained by few traditions and even fewer morals. This was sadly matched by the decay in Roman society, in which the old Yeomanry disappeared to be replaced with Latifundia manned by slaves, and as the masses of unemployed farmers (between wars) drifted to Rome to become the Plebs – thus fraying even further social bonds of kinship, rendering them vulnerable to the predations of the evil in Rome, and the powerful who used them as ammo against their rivals (and then the state). Rome’s enslavement under a military dictatorship was in the end unavoidable, and even tho Augustus was wise enough to disguise this, his successors weren’t, and eventually things had degraded to such an extent that by the time Septimus Severus (I believe) made roman citizenship universal, it was now worthless – as everyone was increasingly, virtually, a slave of the state … the barbarian conquests were in some ways actually a relief for the ex-citizens!

    Roman Empire – “merely moved the capital eastwards and continued in unbroken succession”??? You failed to recognize that the Western Empire’s later politico-military capital was not Constantinople, but rather in military bases at Ravenna, Trier and other places (to reflect the Emperor’s location at important strategic positions) – culturally and economically however Rome was still in many ways the heart of the Western half and always remained its symbolic capital – THAT is why the sackings of Rome had such an impact upon the West. You also failed to acknowledge that there were many dynastic struggles (&etc) within the East Roman (Byzantine) Empire, where dynasties were replaced by others … hardly “unbroken”!
    Besides, the Byzantine Empire was periodically refreshed when more enlightened Emperors gave their people more freedoms from the state, and stagnated when they stole them (resulting in more revolts, coups & etc).
    More to Follow …

  34. #34 Andrew from Oz
    July 23, 2009

    Too tired at present (past 3:30am), will do so later …

  35. #35 Andrew from Oz
    July 24, 2009

    For Jim benton: Faith & Immorality
    Definition of the term “immorality” – I’d suggest you refer to a dictionary, and then to the Bible (NT, & OT prophets) to get a definition of what is immorality as I firmly believe it to be (and I’d say a very large % of the world’s population too). I’m sure we could argue about this, but to what purpose? I suspect that I’m not going to change your mind here, and you’re definitely not going to change mine, so let’s leave it at that.

    Persecution of Christians – no persecution??? Open your eyes!!! There have been numerous reports published about the increasing persecution of Christians within the west, these have included the actions of private individuals sometimes belonging to satanic cults &c, but even have included the acts of the state against Christians practicing their own faith.
    This includes these examples (from amongst MANY!!!):
    – Sweden: The prosecution & jailing of a Swedish pastor for preaching homosexuality was a sin from his church pulpit – Åke Green. He only won in the end b/c the EU laws overrode the Swedish so-called “equal rights” and “anti-hate” laws, which worryingly seem to have more importance than the Swedish right to religious freedom (www.akegreen.org/).
    – – Norway: the Black Metal ‘musician’ Varg Vikernes launched a campaign of pagan revenge for alleged “Christian crimes” against Vikings, his arson destroyed or damaged many Norse churches – including, it is believed, the mid-12th century wooden Fantoft stave church. He is later convicted for arson & murder. Norse police launch investigation into Norse Black Metal groups. He is held to be an icon of the Black Metal movement (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varg_Vikernes).
    – Germany: Psychotherapy Congress in which it’s discussed whether sexual orientation (including some Christian speakers) could be changed needs police protection from violent German Gay & Lesbian Association attacks (http://www.christianophobia.eu/index.php?id=240&tx_mininews_pi1showUid=128&cHash=fcc3d8feed).

    – Russia: numerous religious arrests and persecution. EU protests.
    – Belarus: same as Russia. EU protests.
    – Canada: Persecution (& prosecution) of Canadian Christians for speaking out against homosexuality, even in their capacity as private citizens – including writing a letter to the editor of the local newspaper (http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Religious+freedom+under+attack+in+Canada.-a0132466099).
    – Canada: Prosecution of Catholic Priest for quoting scripture and official Church teaching in arguing against gay-marriage in the national debate there. (http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=66247).
    – UK: The charging of a Welsh preacher for handing out Christian tracts at a homosexual pride march in Wales.
    – UK: The punishing of a 5yo girl for talking about God, and the possible sacking of her mother who sent a PRIVATE EMAIL to pray for her daughter and the school to friends (http://www.thisiswesternmorningnews.co.uk/news/MOTHER-FACING-SACK-PRAYING/article-695013-detail/article.html).
    – UK: The removal of any exemption from discrimination laws for religious organizations & churches – this will force them to hire homosexual staff, clearly in contradiction to their religious beliefs, which the UK Govt has accepted. (www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/religion/5357247/Law-will-force-churches-to-emply-gay-staff-html).
    – UK: parents face prosecution for pulling their children out of a class aimed at educating them about homosexual relations at a PRIMARY SCHOOL!!! (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article5863871.ece)
    – UK: Professionals of agencies have been suspended, demoted or face sackings because they refuse to hide their Christian beliefs or obey orders & regs supporting homosexual-friendly laws. Examples:
    o Nurse suspended for offering to pray for patient (http://www.christianlegalcentre.com/view.php?id=680).
    o Doctor loses position because refuses to agree with homosexual adoption (http://www.christianpost.com/article/20090721/christian-doctor-loses-position-over-gay-adoption-view/index.html).
    o Teacher suspended for opposing gay agenda being forced upon him (http://www.christian.org.uk/news/20090427/teacher-suspended-for-opposing-gay-training/).
    – UK: Organizations and businesses face losing money and even being shut down for refusing to kowtow to the new homosexual-friendly laws, including guesthouses, religious retirement homes and religious adoption agencies. Eg:
    o Christian retirement homes losing funding because they refused to quiz their (Christian) clients about their sexuality (http://www.christian.org.uk/news/20081229/christian-care-home-loses-funding-over-gay-rights/ & http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/philipjohnston/3998908/Why-is-sexual-identity-any-of-the-Governments-business.html).
    o Christian private hotel owners prosecuted for refusing to give a homosexual couple a double room (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/5032750/Homosexual-couple-sue-Christian-hotel-owners-for-refusing-them-a-double-room.html).
    o Catholic charities forced to either kowtow or face prosecution (eg http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/religion/5433917/Catholic-charities-breaking-law-on-homosexual-adoption.html).
    – USA: The persecution of Christian staff at Pennsylvania Uni (http://churchnstate.blogspot.com/).
    – USA: The “Obama Youth Brigade”, Sections 125/132A (42 USC 12575), subsection 7 prohibits members from being engaged in “religious instruction, conducting worship services, … engaging in any form of religious proselytization” – as far as I’ve read there is *no* distinction between what’s done in private time and that during hours of service in the Brigade.
    – USA: Grandma prosecuted for witnessing (http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=40048).
    – USA: The punishment of religious schoolchildren in the US who refuse to not say a prayer before their meals – schoolchildren???!!!! Numerous cases.
    – USA: The attack upon Christians and their organizations in the name of a homosexual friendly “equal rights” & “anti-hate” crimes. Examples:
    o The prosecution of Christian protestors at “Gay
    Pride” marches (eg the “Philadelphia 11”
    and “Philadelphia 5”), and even of Christians who
    say nothing but pray in silence! (http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=56544); with govt officials alleged to have been implicated (http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=42221).
    o The allegedly deliberate use of law enforcement
    officials by “gay friendly” city councils to
    silence and harass Christians on public land
    during “gay events”
    (http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp? ARTICLE_ID=59799) and to generally restrict freedom of speech at said events (eg http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=56433).
    o The introduction of ‘hate crime’ laws enabling
    judges to censor anything that condemns
    homosexuality, including scripture (eg http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=68542), and – it is alleged – the potential outlawing of anything someone might find offensive (http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=54535).
    o The imposition of homosexual agendas upon public schools and even Christian schools (http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=42193 & http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=51732) and even specifically aimed at Christian children! (http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=54420).
    o The indoctrination of children at elementary/primary schools with gay agenda – even as young as kindergarden age (!!!) (eg http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=49813), and the prosecution of parents who protest (eg http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=45594).
    o The indoctrination of teenagers at public schools with gay agenda – with parents excluded and despite parents’ wishes and deliberately kept hidden from them (eg http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=54708 & http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=54683 & http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=52311).
    o The punishing of Christian US students who protest the “gay friendly agenda” (eg http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=24890).
    – USA: The persecution of Christians by homosexual activists and groups.
    o The persecution of Christians in “Gay” areas by (many) private persons (eg http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=81310).
    o Attacks upon churches by “gay activists” (eg http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=80743).
    o Public threats made against leading Christian activists by private persons (eg http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=45879).
    These events (& others) have apparently resulted in countless allegations of persecution and court cases, and in the UK have been criticized by the “gay rights”-friendly Tony Blair and even discussed in a House of Commons enquiry in the UK (and heated accusations made in the House of Commons).

    The reason why I use the word “persecution”, is that these acts are the *deliberate* attempt to prevent Christians from practicing their faith in the public sphere by states arguably under the influence of aggressive ideologues and secular-humanists (and it has been alleged occultists) and organizations that are often explicitly anti-Christian, and are attacks upon anyone who refuses to keep in step. If this is not fascism then what is?!!!

    It must be noted, that all the while Christianity is attacked not a few ideologues preach their own sometimes twisted ideologies in schools to children incapable of knowing better, and also in universities not just as theories to investigate but as ready made conclusions – thus undermining academic vigour and allegedly intending to indoctrinate the young so as to “win converts for the cause”.
    Another thing you must take note of, is that Christianity (and indeed all religious) is a belief that’s meant to be practiced not merely theorized upon, and is definitely not intended to be hidden and secretive and restricted to the private sphere, but carried out in open as expressions of one’s faith.

    Placebo Effect of Faith – I’ve written enough and spent too much of my time writing here when I should be writing elsewhere, so I’m going to leave that to you to look up. Google it, there should be articles online.
    Jim Benton, you defied me to find you information about the persecution of Christians in the West (and more specifically in the USA), I think that I’ve more than done so.
    I challenge you to find out for yourself, and to open your eyes to what is happening around you – if you dare.
    Apologies for formatting!

    Andrew.

  36. #36 Prup (aka Jim Benton)
    July 25, 2009

    Andrew:
    Sorry for the continuing delay in responding. I look forward to it now I’ve seen your own response, but my oldest cat — he’s 13, we’ve known him since he was 4 months and showed up at our window and begged to come in — has just developed diabetes, we thought we’d lost him twice in the last two weeks, and even now, we brought him home still hopeful the insulin works this time but knowing the next ‘crash’ will be the final one.

    I have been a little distracted, as has my wife, and she’s needed my company more than I have neede tpo reply. But I do hope, if nothing goes crazier, to respond tomorrow.

  37. #37 Prup (aka Jim Benton)
    July 26, 2009

    And sometimes commenting takes me ‘out of the house’ and away from the presure — and is even easier because Kittenz (the sick cat) is lying a foot away from me so I can pet him and see him repond, looking well enough to give me hope.

    Anyway, I expect to pick pieces of your argument and respond, not necessarily in order. But I found your reference to the Wikipedia article fascinating, because it includes four contradictory Bible references to the ‘sin of Sodom.’ (I’ve used the invaluable “Bible Gateway” site to check various translations to compare them as well.)

    In fact, the Wikipedia article all of the references are unspecific except one, Ezekial 16:48-50, in which the sin is specifically described as being uncharitable and ‘haughty.’ No sexual component is mentioned. (And the rabbinical literature quoted expands on this, and not on the idea of homosexuality.)

    Let’s see the specifics. First, the KJV — oh, and by the way, the “King James” who selected the translators and promulgated the translation was, himself, a “Sodomite” as you use the term:
    “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.

    50And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.

    The NIV: ‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. 50 They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.

    American Standard Version:Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom: pride, fulness of bread, and prosperous ease was in her and in her daughters; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.

    50 And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.

    The difference is interesting, but in each of them — and in every translation I reviewed — the sin is specifically described by the Prophet was that of ‘being too rich and being unwilling to help the poor and needy’ and being ‘too haughty.’ (Sadly, I can think of too many Christian groups who could be described in those terms.) The ‘abominations’ — a term which has many different uses in the Bible — may include sexual practices of some sort, or idol worship or types of sacrifice, etc. Whatever, it is an afterthought, according to the Prophet Ezekiel — and no other Biblical reference says differently. The Sin according to the literal words of the Bible is as I’ve said.

    The fact that later Christian English speakers used the term ‘Sodomite’ for homosexuality is as irrelevant as terms like ‘jeremiad’ or even ‘prophecy’ or, more specifically, using “Onanism” for masturbation when his sin was to withdraw rather than impregnate his sister-in-law as was called for in ‘Levirate marriage.’ (I’m wandering, but I am curious as to why God kills someone for not going along with Levirate marriage in one place in the Bible, gives an ‘easy ceremomy’ to avoid it elsewhere, and later both Jews and Christians condemn and forbid the practice. I’m also curious as to what you think of the morality of the whole story, not just Genesis 38:8-10 but the whole Chapter. Can you justify any of this?)

    Much more tomorrow — if everybody doesn’t tell us to shut up.

  38. #38 Prup (aka Jim Benton)
    July 27, 2009

    (I don’t know if Andrew is still around, but might as well send one more discussion his way. If no response, on to other topics.)

    On your claims of “Chritians being persecuted’ again you use the term too broadly, but your major failing is that you take all your examples from WorldNetDaily — and that is simply not a credible source. Its prediliction for conspiracies, quackery, and its repeated, demonstrated, inaccuracy in reporting has — not so affectionately — won it the nickname of “WorldNUtDaily” from people who have followed it regularly.

    Now you’ve shown you are not unintelligent, if you are ignorant and a bit too credulous. So don’t take my word for it. Pick a half dozen of the stories you’ve referred to — and, if you have the time, another half dozen on other topics — and Google the people involved. In many cases this will take you to the actual newspaper reporting of the incidents — in some cases where legal cases are involved, you may also get a chance to read the briefs involved. Watch, and you’ll see a pattern of inaccuracy, special pleading, misrepresentation and downright lies.

    I think if you do the work yourself, you’ll find how thin a reed WND is for supporting any claim at all.

    If you are still around, more tomorrow — and for those who are interested, Kittenz is looking better. Too soon to permit me to risk optomism, but there’s at least a chance I’ll have him around longer that I feared.

  39. #39 Andrew from Oz
    July 28, 2009

    Thanks Jim for your posts. I’m still around so post away! :) (Altho I do have other commitments so I can’t write too much here – you know the olde saying: “No rest for the wicked” and all that!).
    My sympathies for your beloved pet, and by all means comfort the lady of your heart as she’s rightly infinitely more important than talking to contentious strangers! So there’s utterly no need to apologise, OK? (If anything I needed to apologise for MY delay in responding!). :) To be honest I must confess to personal trauma too which will impact in part my ability to write here (dealing with the grief from family deaths & pain from disintegrating family), so I hope you will bear with me.

    To the debate: Yes, I know that there were “weaknesses” to my arguments – I had expected you to point them out to me!!!! lol :P
    I will comment more on the Sodomy topic later, but I will of course admit that many things in the Bible are topics that give rise to much debate, heated argument and (unfortunately) open war (in the past) – this is one of the reasons why Jewish lawyers are often the best … they get superb training as they grow up arguing all the time about the Talmud and other Jewish writings!!!!

    I must say that I find it “fascinating” that you refer to Bible verses that actually reinforce in part what I’d been trying to say to you before now. I wonder if you’ve asked yourself what exactly were the “detestable acts” (and obviously indescribable since they weren’t described at the time and almost certainly would have been shocking, disgusting and unusual to the Hebrews) the story refers to – it can’t have been the injustices, or pride since they’re already mentioned – it must have been something so bad it couldn’t be written down at the time … something that the Levitical law code touches on (perverse sex) and which is already mentioned in Jude 1:3 (in specific reference to Sodom &etc).

    Additionally, if you follow that Wikipedia source and look at Jewish writings as well as the Bible versions, I think you get a reasonably clear indication as to the interpretation of that story from Jewish writers – a source that especially in BC times I’d say need to be taken very seriously (insofar as the interpretation of the ancient texts go).
    Therefore please don’t ignore the Jude reference I mentioned, as it does mention sexual perversion concerning Sodom and is a clear indication of traditional Jewish thinking in the first decades of the new era.
    Please also be aware that one of the major problems the Biblical writers and the “Jahwists” had with the Canaanite religions (after the Hebrews’ return to Canaan), was the sexual practices (often for done for ritual purposes) that very often were committed by the practitioners of those cults (such as Baal, Astoreth & etc) – this included temple prostitutes of both sexes, which may or may not have been forced or coerced. It is possible that PoWs were used. But in case, the practices were condemned and physically attacked (refer to Levite story I mentioned above).

    I do agree with you regarding Sodom’s arrogance and greed and callousness – that was *definitely* part of (or the main part of) it’s Sin – and in any case their detestable sexual practices (and desire to abuse visitors) probably in part stemmed from the same callousness towards others and arrogant uncontrollably sensuous self-worship.

    Tragically, I also have to agree with you about the state of too many churches – there are FAR too many within them who – ignoring Jesus’ warning about ‘beware of the leaven of the Pharisees’- behave sometimes abominably. Don’t worry, the Bible has a severe punishment for them too (refer to Revelations when Jesus judges all Mankind for their deeds). But here too I will state that just because of the failures of some Churches and their leaders it doesn’t mean the underlying message of the Gospel is somehow falsified, although I can truly understand how the Message can be discredited in the eyes of many through the failings of the messengers.

    World Net Daily – yes, I do apologise for relying too heavily on one source for the USA, that IS a weakness with that argument which I admit to. In my defense I plead what you Americans call the “5th”!!! :P No really, I was rushed at the time and they were convenient. I had however lost files on my old HDD when it blew up pertaining to the Philedelphia cases that (from memory) were independent of the WND site.
    However, it must be said Jim, that those WND references you complained about only pertain to the US articles, *not* those for other countries, so I’d certainly like to read your response about Europe & Canada – which are indeed from ‘secular’ news sites (or at least provide links to them, such as the Ake Green case). Furthermore, although arguably unreliable, the mistakes of the past don’t necessarily mean that they’re making mistakes in the articles I have referred to (although admittedly their credibility is undermined by past mistakes).

    Got to go – look forward to reading your writings!
    Best of luck/blessings with the cat and missus.
    Andrew.

  40. #40 Prup (aka Jim Benton)
    July 30, 2009

    Andrew:
    Almost missed your response, but checked on AARDV last night. (I’m sorry to say that even though Martin was kind enough to print — and edit (harder) — some of my articles a couple of years ago, I don’t check in here often enough. If I had waited until this morning, I probably would have missed it because it would have ‘fallen off the list.’)

    I don’t know if anyone else is enjoying or even reading this, but i certainly am and will respond with several posts during the day [Actually, since the usual busines intruded, probably tomorrow]. (Kittenz is looking much more like he did before the illness caught him, and I am at least cautiously optimistic that he’s going to be around for a few years — so far we’ve never had a cat that didn’t make it to 16 years, and one who made it to 20, even though we didn’t have the money for good treatment at the time. In fact, he’s lying on my pillow as I continue this.)

    First, about the WND. I don’t think you understand exactly how unreliable they are. It isn’t merely ‘mistakes they made in the past.’ They are so consumed with conspiracy theories, they so twist, ignore, and misrepresent facts — as shown repeatedly by anyone who has checked their reports against the facts finds them literally laughable. To use them as a source, I’m sorry, will result in ridicule from anyone not already in their own ‘alternate reality.’

    A few political examples from very recently. I don’t think many people would condemn Sarah Palin as a ‘liberal feminist’ who chose a career over her proper role as wife and mother. (Most people would condemn her, but for different reasons.)

    They are currently peddling and promoting a book featuring a dolchstosslegende (apparently not a ‘racial’ one)for Vietnam with Joe Biden as a featured character. I have no idea how old you were, but I am 63 and lived through the Vietnam horror, and I can assure you — as can people in “Oz” who are old enough — that this is as false as the original promoted by Hindenburg and Luedendorff.

    And finally, they are the current main promoter of the ‘birther’ madness which attempts to claim that President Obama’s having been born in Hawaii is false and that he is not eligible to be President. This is so absurd that when a CNN personality espoused it, the President of the network — and his own reporter/fill-in host described it as nonsense. Even Ann Coulter has so described it, as have every serious copmmentator, legal scholar, and court that has looked at it. (In fact, the WND barely mentioned it during the campaign, but now they have a video to promote, they are leading the mad crowd spouting this.)

    No, don’t use the WND, but on the cases you mentioned, again, i challenge you to check five of the stories at random, then Google them and read all other coverage of them, including newspaper reports, blog postings, etc. I think you will see a pattern pretty soon.

    —–

    Wanted to write much more but time got away from me, as it often does. more tomorrow, but let me ask you this. You are a “Christian” which could mean a member of many different denominations. What is your (or your denomination’s) view of the Bible. Do you accept it as literally true in all details, as generally true in most matters, as “a book infallible regarding faith or morals but not meant to be a book of science or history” or what.

    And do you have a favorite translation, and if so which and why?

    (Again, apologies to anyone who is bored by this colloquy, but it is open to others.)

  41. #41 Prup (aka Jim Benton)
    August 2, 2009

    I had been planning on leaving Andrew alone had he not responded, until I read the news of the events in Tel Aviv, the attack on the LGBT Youth Center. Noow this wasn’t done by a Christian, as far as anyone iknows, but it is another example, with the death of Dr. Tiller, the shootings of police officers, and the shooting at the Holocaust Museum that shows — I hope even to Andrew — what ‘persecution’ means.

    This has been, so far, a spring and summer of hate, vicious and murderous hate. And it hasn’t been aimed at the religious, but has been coming from the religious. (Not all of the religious, nor all but a few would do something like this. But, at least in the American examples, see the number of haters whose fear has come froM the sort of right wing crap the WND puts forth.)

    And yet no one like me who favors a ‘hate crime‘ law favors a hate speech law, and your evil bete noire, the believers in civil liberties — such as the ACLU — would be the first — at least in America — to condemn such a law as readily as they condemn the blasphemy laws that were the original topic of this thread.

    (Asking advertisers if they are comfortable having their products promoted by the haters — that’s a whole other thing.)

  42. #42 Andrew from Oz
    August 3, 2009

    Jim: from now on I’m probably not going to be able to respond except for once every few days (job, study, family & all that jazz!).

    Anyway, re the WND site and your “challenge” to check up on it: since your last comments regarding them I have done some checking up on some of the news articles – it seems that there is corroborating evidence for some them of them (on other news/blog sites that sometimes refer to ‘secular’ news articles), but for the more controversial claims I’ve mentioned there doesn’t seem to be any I’ve found so far (not so say that it doesn’t exist of course, just that i haven’t it if it exists).
    BTW, I have been increasingly concerned with the level of anger I’ve noticed in US circles on *BOTH* sides of the camp for some time now …and yes I have noticed the anti-Obama articles (re his birth place), and no to be honest I’ve not been able to make sense out of them, and yes I have been concerned by them too (altho I have also begun to be concerned by some of the decisions that he’s made) …
    I’m ignorant about your other points concerning WND (conspiracies, Palin and the Vietnam book), so I can’t comment on those.
    I’m a few decades younger than yourself, so I was literally a babe in arms when it ended, so the only things I know about Vietnam is from reading books, watching docos and talking to old Diggers (Aussie soldiers) – I happen to know a few since having served in the Oz Army myself for a number of years.

    Re Tel Aviv attack, can you post the links to that? Also, what have the deaths of Dr Tiller and police officers and even at the Holocaust Museum have to do with “persecution”? You need to post links to the Tiller case and the police shootings, as they’re events I haven’t heard about (unless you mean the usual – but tragic – shootings of the gallant men and women in blue that nowadays seemingly ‘normally’ happen in the USA).
    As deplorable as the Holocaust Museum shooting was, it was the actions of a lone madman in the USA – more a symptom I would suggest of a disintegrating society rather than a concerted effort to supplant, expel or eradicate Judaism in the USA.
    As for “persecution”, that can take many forms as you no doubt are fully aware of, and acts of violence are only one form (albeit an awful one) of persecution.
    Similarly, whilst I deplore the seemingly unjustified violence upon the Tel Aviv centre (I don’t know the facts yet so I can’t say whether I believe the violence was justified or not), one act alone – if it can be described as intentionally attacking that centre for its reputation – can hardly be called “persecution”.

    Re “hate crimes”- I really don’t see the need to have a separate category, as the criminal law already does cover an abundant amount of crimes (indeed seemingly the whole amount) that people commit. The “mens rea” (malice aforethought, ie malicious intent) of a criminal is evidenced by the criminal’s motive to kill/maim/destroy – regardless of his or her’s original ‘inspiration’ for that motive. The “hate” a defendant has only indicates his (or her) psychological pre-disposition (and therefore part motive) to commit a crime. Thus, if a defendant deliberately sought to kill Person A (without having a defence in law, such as Self Defence), and actually succeeds in realizing his intent through the killing of Person A, then the defendant is guilty of murder – regardless of whether or not he hated the religion, colour, sex, culture, sexual orientation, political views or whatever of the victim which gave rise to his (or her’s) intent to kill. I.e. murder is murder regardless of the original ‘inspiration’ for it, and therefore crime is still crime for the same reason. I understand that different jurisdictions have different laws and different reasons for their laws, but in the west there are many similarities in the Anglo-phone world, and I think I’ve fairly clearly expressed the main opposition to the existence of the separate “hate crime” laws.

    As for the personal questions: why the need to know the answers? I thought we were only debating about issues in society & history & religion, not debating each other’s personal beliefs/philosophies.

    Re my challenges for you: have you constructed arguments against what I’ve said yet (re European persecution, Graeco-Roman History, etc)? Or have you accepted or acquiesced to the things I’ve said? In any case I certainly would like to read your responses.

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