It is interesting to note that the Obama administration, primarily through SecState Clinton, has in the past few weeks repeatedly admonished the governments of several countries in the middle east to tolerate and respect the right of their people to assemble and protest for change in their respective governments. Correctly, in my opinion.
However, I find this interesting, because I cannot help but wonder how things would be handled should a comparably sized crowd spontaneously appear on the National Mall to protest...well, anything...without first having obtained a permit from the Parks Service.
I realize that this is not an apples to apples comparison...presumably no such mechanism for obtaining prior permission existed in Mubarak's Egypt, or in the Ayatollah's Iran, and even if it did, it is unlikely that permission would be granted to a group openly critical of the government in power. Not so in the US...if a permit has ever been demonstrably denied a group for purely political reasons, it is news to me (I would welcome any factual correction on this point).
Still, there is something unsettling about the need to get the government's OK to exercise what is recognized as not only a constitutional right in this country, but a fundamental human one by the same government, at a particular time and place.
"I will say, however, that I don’t really care if the next Egyptian government is hostile to the US government...Frankly, the primary question that any decent person should care about is whether the next Egyptian government will be brutal or humane towards Egyptians, and the next most important question is whether the next Egyptian government will be brutal or humane toward other people as well."
There's been much chatter about The New Yorker's piece on Scientology this week, which I will admit to not having read in full just yet (26 pages is a lot to flip through on my relatively small screen...I might actually pick up the print version for once). I found Terry Gross's rather limited interview with Lawrence Wright on the piece kind of strange, because it essentially focused on L. Ron Hubbard's apparently forged military records. Which strikes me as a bit like delving into whether or not Hitler actually went to art school.*
I've actually struggled for a while to put my finger on what makes Scientology's mythology uniquely insane in the cannon of odd things people believe in the name of religion. Because even if I couldn't articulate it exactly, I've felt that Scientology really does occupy a special place in the annals of bullshit, even above and beyond such rarefied company as a 6000-year-old planet, global flooding, angels, demons, reincarnation, telepathy, the apocalypse (Mayan or Christian version, they're both nuts), ascension to heaven, and resurrection from the dead.
And then frequent Agitator commenter "Mattocracy" just goes and nails it to the wall for me, clear as day:
"But for some reason Scientology really makes me ill... Most religions are old and were established when the natural world wasn’t really understood. At the time when most other religions were founded, people just didn’t know any better.
But Scientology was created in the age of science, even has the name rooted in the word “science” while being completely devoid of it. These fucks knew better than to believe in this shit from the get go. That just makes them much more sinister to me.
*I realize I am dangerously close to self-Godwinning this post, here, but my point isn't really to compare L. Ron with Hitler. It's just to point out that the Hubbard's bullshit about his war injuries is small potatoes compared to the decades of abuse and fraud that followed and continues to this day. Also, fuck L. Ron Hubbard.