I've seen a lot of people changing their profiles to the equality symbols in support of gay marriage. I have also seen a lot of opposition to this trend (The trend of equality symbols itself, not the actual gay marriage issue). Today I'm going to give my two cents on these kind of trends.
Lets wind the clocks back a year. Lets wind them back to the Kony 2012 movement. This is a prime example of a completely useless trend that got absolutely nothing done. This is what happened. In 2003, the Invisible Children foundation was formed. Almost a decade later, they release a half-hour video about what happened in Uganda in 2003. A bunch of people saw the video and jumped on the bandwagon. Instead of doing something that would actually helped, people just joined Facebook groups and changed their profile pictures instead of doing something that might actually help, like donating money or joining the Invisible Children foundation and become active members. Nope, people just changed their profile pictures and pretended it did something.
This same thing happened with a movement aimed at ending child abuse. Instead of donating, joining a police force or volunteering at a foundation, people just changed their profile pictures and considered themselves moral human beings.
The same thing is happening with the DOMA and Proposition 8 issues. People are changing their profile pictures and thinking that it does something. Useless right?
The difference between those failed movements is this. With Kony 2012, and the Anti-Child Abuse movement, the solutions are things that require actual involvement and actual work. The Equality movement is different, because there is no foundation to donate to, no places to volunteer at. (EDIT: This point is moot, but sending a message affects this movement far more than movements such as Kony 2012 or the aforementioned anti-child abuse movement.) The only thing that anyone can do is send a message. There are multiple ways of sending a message. There's the conventional writing a letter to a Supreme Court Justice (yes, they actually read the letters), there's marching in front of the Supreme Court waving signs, and in this day and age, there is Internet activism. If enough people take up the cause and change their profile pictures, it would definitely get media converge. Media that would reach the eyes of Supreme Court Justices.
Some people argue that Supreme Court Justices don't care about public opinion. This is simply not true. Yes, they never go up for reelection, but that doesn't mean they don't care about what people think. When the Supreme Court Justices make a decision, they have to completely understand the implications of the decision they make. As some of the greatest legal minds of the generation, they realize that, unless they have some sort of input, they can't fully encompass all of the viewpoints and facets of the issue. That's why people write letters, asking them to consider their point of view.
In theory, the Supreme Court Justices are purely there to decide whether or not laws, propositions, bills, ect, are constitutional or not, and whether or not they conflict with previous laws, bills, ect. In a perfect system, the Supreme Court Justices would be unanimous in their decisions, but the problem is that people are people. They have biases, opinions and values they uphold that may differ from their peers. The constitution and civil rights are up for interpretation. A liberal interpretation would consider marriage between people of the same sex a civil right, and put that above the states' rights to define a family. A conservative interpretation would do just the opposite, putting the states' rights above individuals' rights.
Two sides of the coin, two different interpretations of the law, both arguably constitutional. It all comes down to which opinion, liberal or conservative prevails. The Equality movement is showing support for the liberal ideas, and there are anti-gay marriage movements showing support for the conservative view.
Besides, trying to convince the Supreme Court Justices is not the only goal of the movement. The movement is also showing support for all the gay couples in the country during this stressful time for them, their marriage hanging in the balance. Seeing a huge group of people very clearly and simply showing their support is bound to be a huge comfort, encouraging them to fight for the things they believe in. Encouraging them to fight for equal rights. Encouraging them to fight for their ideals.
The reason I dislike the US really boils down to those two words.
For those of you who don't know, (American) manifest destiny was the idea around the time of Louis and Clark that the United States created its own destiny to take over the entire continent. The only reason this idea existed was because the US wanted to justify their greed. It was the idea that the white man was the only civilized thing in the world, that industrialization and assimilation were the only way to go and that Native Americans were all dirty brutes no one cares about.
Today people use Manifest Destiny to try and justify the century and a half long decimation and genocide of the Native American people.
Because of the United States and their rampant greed and petty superiority, over 95% of the Native American people were killed. That means that less than 5% of the earth-loving, respectful, peaceful and culturally rich original inhabitants of this land actually have any sort of claim to the land around here. This genocide was not only condoned by the US government, but even sponsored. Here's just a few examples.
-In 1763, American soldiers handed out blankets infected with smallpox at Native American reservations.
-The 1820 Indian Removal Act, also known as the Trail of Tears forced over forty five thousand Native Americans off of land originally reserved for them by the government, and then forced them onto a huge trek comparable to a Nazi death march. Thousands of the evicted men women and children died from overexposure. The lands that were freed up by this act were settled by whites.
-The 1862 Homestead Act essentially gave away Native American land for us to farm and cultivate. The Native Americans were never informed, just forced off the land with muskets and rifles, forced to flee the homes they had inhabited for generations.
-It is believed that the US had a policy of exterminating buffalo in the guise of hunting to kill off the source of the Native Americans' livelihood. Native Americans revered the buffaloes, they were a central part of their culture. When they killed a buffalo, they used everything, they left nothing behind, because to them, the buffalo was sacred, they depended on the buffalo to survive. In their time, buffaloes literally coated the great American plains. Columbus described the plains "black, and ... as if in motion", from the sheer number of buffalo that inhabited the area. We don't see that today because of over-hunting back in the 18th and 19th centuries. We killed the buffalo, and the Native Americans starved.
Nothing justifies genocide. Don't give me that chickenshit "Manifest Destiny" or "Social Darwinism". Here were a people that respected the earth, they nurtured it, grew corn, worked with it, had a thriving and beautiful culture, and the US decided they would have none of that, and now we have pollution, global warming, all these problems with the ecosystem.
A Native American man was asked by a newspaper, "Where did the white man go wrong?" He replied "White man find land, Indians running it, no taxes, no debt, plenty buffalo, plenty beaver, clean water, women did all the work, medicine man free, Indian man spend all day hunting and fishing; all night having sex. Only white man dumb enough to think he could improve system like that."
Today I came across an old article from the New York Times dated September 5th, 1999. It was called The Singer Solution to World Poverty. At first it seems it's for a good cause, but it quickly turns into a bigoted, insulting, hypocritical and narrow-minded rant on how everyone is a terrible fucking monster for not donating every penny they've ever made to charity. His entire premise is the idea that every penny you make that doesn't go towards necessities for life should go to charity. He makes several arguments trying to guilt his readers into donating to charities. He uses tactics like false dilemmas and incredibly implausible and unrelated arguments like choosing between a child a sports car or having children's organs harvested for a TV.
Let's start here. Say we do what Peter Singer proposes. We donate all the money we make that we would otherwise spend on luxuries. Well, that felt good, look my neighbors are doing it too, looks like the whole nation just donated all of their luxury money to UNICEF How great! Now we can rest in peace knowing we did the right thing. I'm kind of hungry, let's go to the bank to take out some necessity money for food. Oh shit, the bank is closed. Oh shit, all the banks are closed. Oh shit, the entire fucking economy is absolutely demolished because nobody spends anything other than the bare necessities. Now everyone's still in poverty, UNICEF can't buy any more medicine or food because the dollar has collapsed and there's no one left in the US that makes medicine anymore, because the entire economy is gone.
Nobody wins, everybody lives in poverty, the world is set back decades in terms of technology and development because of some dumbfuck that thought this would actually work.
People have the right to buy what they want, they have the right to choose how they spend their hard-earned money (notice I said "hard-earned". Fuck mega-corporation CEOs). You can't force people to give away everything they don't spend on necessities on charities. If you do, you end up with a situation not dissimilar to the Soviet Union, where you're expected to work hard for no real, tangible gratification, you're just a cog in society.
We need to buy luxuries to keep the economy running. The economy isn't just this big machine that manufactures money, it's a series of tubes that circulates money. It's the entire cardiovascular system the the nation. If you start taking too much money out of the system, the system starts to die. We can take out a little, like donating blood, before allowing the money to replenish a bit and balance out from the other world economies.
Besides, just donating money is just treating the symptom instead of the problem. It's like giving blood transfusions to someone with a massive wound that won't stop bleeding. If we're going to fix third world countries, it has to be by establishing a powerful foundation for a successful society by building infrastructure like schools, hospitals and farms instead of just buying the things they produce. They need to be able to prosper autonomously before any real progress out of the third and second world can be made. Everyone knows the old saying, "Catch a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime." They need some sort of industry that brings in a substantial amount of money into their country, something solid and constant. Turns out there already are a lot of these things in third world countries, minus the solid income. Mega corporations like Nike or Apple that take advantage of third world labor laws and child labor. The infrastructure is there, it's just that these greedy assholes don't pay the workers enough. They're mega corporations, they have the money to do this, but they don't because of greed. If they were to pay third world workers even half of the US minimum wage, things there would start to improve because they would have money to spend. Money to spend on school, food, housing, and luxuries. They would have money to store in banks and to spend on whatever they wanted. They would have enough money for an economy, and therefore, progress.
So let's create economies instead of destroying them Peter Singer. Or maybe we should kill some disabled babies instead. Babies that could end up being geniuses like Rain Man or write books like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. The issue of abortion is a woman's control over her own body. Once the baby is born, it's no longer an issue with her body, now it's the baby's body. You are literally killing innocence that could become something great, no longer because the mother doesn't want to go through the extremely painful and stressful process of having a child, but because it's disabled. Here you are talking about "Let's save these poor third world country children, it's not their fault they were born into poverty", yet somehow it's the child's fault if they're born disabled. Fucking hypocrite.
When I was discussing this with some friends, it was brought up that the original article could be intentionally bigoted and over-the-top to guilt us into donating. If so, it didn't work. It actually made me not want to donate just to spite this guy who's arrogant enough to think that would work. You see this 200 dollars I could spend on charity? I'm going to buy a new graphics card instead because of your self-righteous and pretentious douchebaggery. I thought you were a "utilitarian" Singer, and consequences are the only thing that matters. What about the consequences of intentionally writing a bigoted piece of bullshit and insulting your readers enough that they lose any motivation to "be a good person" in an effort to spite you.
Now I'm not saying you shouldn't donate to charities, I'm saying don't do it because of this dumbass. Do it because it's the right thing to do. The purpose of this post is not to discourage you from donating to charity, but to consider alternate solutions that might be more effective, and to point out what a fucking moron Peter Singer is.
The New York Times opens his article by describing him as:
"A contentious ethicist explains why your taste for foie gras is starving children."