As the story goes, Michael Stipe of REM wrote the song “Stand” as a kind of joke and/or dare. His friends were chatting about inane theme songs of the past like The Banana Splits Theme for example, and Stipe claimed he could write something even worse. The end result was Stand. Ironically (or perhaps coincidentally I have no idea) the song became a sort of anthem for a generation of (then) young people who felt disenfranchised by their culture, their society, and the world at large. Stand in the place where you live. Now face north. Think about direction. Wonder why you haven’t before.

Stipe was not expecting people to take this seriously, and I don’t think anyone really did, but think about it. As a twenty-something in the 1990s, I found myself wondering why I believed a lot of the things I believed. Some of it had to do with geography, or my family’s struggling economic position in the lower middle class, or a host of other variables many of which I had no control over. Friends and family members sometimes shared my position on some things, but they didn’t in other areas, and in still other areas I would think I knew where I stood until my beliefs were challenged and tested by day to day trivial happenings, or in debates with these same family members and friends.

Who am I? Where do I stand? Am I what I believe or is what I believe a hodge podge of crap other people told me I believe and I never really thought about it until now? These are questions I still struggle with to this day, and perhaps even after I’m dead, I will have never figured it out. I don’t think anyone really does, even and especially the assholes who write books or give seminars claiming they have it figured out and if you listen to them you’ll get it too. No one knows. Especially not the gurus like Deepak Chopra or Tony Robbins. Anyone who tells you different is trying to sell you something.

Earlier today a friend of mine named Jim Scott posted to Facebook explaining that he’d noticed many friends taking stands on various issues of the day, and sometimes he agrees and sometimes he doesn’t. He decided to compile a list of where he stands, and ended the list by inviting people to unfollow him if he just pissed them off for taking his stand.

[by the way Jim Scott is the bass player for a band called The Gung Ho Guns and if you haven’t already checked them out I encourage you to do so and tell him I sent you so someday I can boast that I helped his band get famous.]

Of course Jim didn’t piss me off. I know where he has stood on these issues for a long time. However, I like the idea of making a list of stands. So I’m gonna steal or rather adapt his idea in a similar list below. He was much more terse than I am. I could be terse. One time I was practically laconic. However I’m slightly better at being long winded. I tried to keep it a bullet list but I often feel a need to add caveats to where I stand, cuz I don’t really stand by where I stand.  My “stands” are more like meanderings and loiterings or occasionally sits. I’m willing to change my mind if sufficient evidence convinces me to do so.

For example, I used to believe in the death penalty for first degree murder and some other extreme crimes, until I saw the death penalty in the hands of GW Bush and Rick Perry. Now armed with evidence of how it can be abused, I’m very much against the death penalty. However, “life without parole” is not in my opinion a suitable alternative, and I don’t see a third option. See? Where I ‘stand’ on most things is simply not black and white. Nor do I think it should be. Anyway, here’s my list based loosely off my friend’s list, so the order of things will probably make less sense to you then they do to me and they make no sense to me.

One more thing. I’m not running for office. I don’t have a doctorate. I don’t pretend to have all the answers. I just know that what we’re doing now is crap. We don’t have the answers now. People smarter than me should figured all this out a long time ago and the fact they haven’t is rather disconcerting. Or maybe the people smarter than us HAVE figured it out, and the system is broken for us cuz they fixed it to suit their purposes. If that’s true, it doesn’t matter what any of us think, but it’s fun to share anyways.

Here we go:

I supported the war in Afghanistan after Nine Eleven, but when we took that left turn at Alberquerque and ended up in Iraq, I got a little nervous, and then I got mad when it became obvious George W Bush was resolving a vendetta between Saddam Hussein and his father (see the first Gulf War). I saw no reason to attack Iraq other than that. There was no indication outside GWB’s camp that Saddam had anything to do with what happened on Nine Eleven. We never found Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq, and we never found evidence they were once there but moved when we weren’t looking. I feel we were conned, and I feel the international reputation of the USA has been irredeemably tarnished by extremists who usurped the Grand Ole Party for their own nefarious purposes.

I have always supported our troops and always will, but just cuz we have the power to go to war, that doesn’t give our civilian political leaders carte blanche to sic the armed forces on anything they want for petty reasons, unless of course this is a corporate oligarchy and not a democratic republic, in which case my opinion doesn’t matter and neither does anyone’s opinion unless they can put a dollar sign before their opinion, and a bunch of zeroes after it.

I am pro-choice. More specifically, I am in favor of any human being having the right to decide what happens regarding anything existing inside that human being. I don’t care if it’s murder. If it’s inside you and you don’t want it there, that is your choice. Whether or not it’s murder is between you and whatever you believe to be your god or whatever. I shouldn’t be able to decide what happens inside you, and neither should any other human being. This is a selfish opinion, cuz I don’t want you to have a right to decide what happens inside me.

What if a famous beloved person needs a kidney, and you’re the only possible rejectless match in the whole world, and you don’t want to give up your kidney? Should people force you to give it up? Should they needle you with peer pressure until you give in? Should they hate you for letting a famous beloved person die cuz you don’t wanna give up a kidney? Maybe you don’t even like the guy. Maybe you do like the guy but you like having two kidneys more. Should the desires of the many outweigh the selfishness of the you? I say no, not when it’s inside me.

…this was supposed to be a bullet list, wasn’t it?

I am in favor of extending marriage rights to homosexuals. Personally I’m not in favor of marriage (happily divorced), but I feel anyone who wants to get married should get married. You don’t even really need permission from society or a church or anything. If you love him/her and they love you and you guys are cool together and all that, make the agreement among yourselves. Shake on it. Write out a piece of paper if you want; a contract you two make with each other. Live together and behave as if you’re married and to hell with anyone who has a problem with that. Okay maybe you can’t have hospital privileges yet or get tax breaks or other incentives afforded to straight couples. That will come in time. The government and various popular religious institutions of the day can’t stop you from loving each other.

I am in favor of a flat income tax or, preferably, replacing it with a national sales tax. I am in favor of a fair and just tax system so simple, you can explain it to me and my eyes won’t glaze over. National sales tax sounds great but only if it replaces the income tax, and I don’t see the federal government letting go of the income tax. I also don’t see it getting simplified cuz then a lot of accountants and lawyers and others who make money off doing taxes for stupid people like me would suddenly be out of work.

I don’t like guns, but I love the constitution. The constitution says we have the right to bear arms. People keep arguing over the semantics of that. If you are an American living in the United States and you want a gun, you have that right. This is the way it is and how it should be until enough people can amend the constitution.

I see no evidence that gun control laws are helpful, and even if they were, you should have had to repeal the second amendment before you could put any on the books. Switzerland’s approach works for Switzerland. The UK’s approach works for the UK. I don’t see either of those extremes working here.

With all that said, it’s one thing to have a gun. It’s quite another thing to have four guns including semi automatic weapons and laying waste to a movie theater, but that goes back to the endless semantics argument. Does “bear arms” include AK47s? ballistic missiles? sharks with frikkin lasers?

I have a problem with the USA having a problem with immigration. This country was founded by immigrants. We are all immigrants and the children of immigrants. There should be no such thing as an illegal immigrant.  People have always wanted to come to this country so they can better provide for themselves and their families.

My concern isn’t that they come here. My concern is that they leave and take money and resources with them. If we are teaching them a trade and they go back to that other country with that knowledge, and the profits they have made, then how is their presence here benefiting us? If they didn’t get here legally, then they’re invading our country. Do you honestly want to declare war on them? If we don’t want to go there, then we need to dramatically re-examine what immigration is and what causes someone to become “illegal.”

It’s one thing to want to join us here in America and make a fresh start. It’s quite another thing to want to abuse our system and leech us for everything we’re worth and then go back to your previous country with your earnings and education. Not only should we encourage people to come here, we should encourage them to stay. Bring their families, and their culture, and their talents, and invite them to stay and become American citizens. They will enrich us and we will enrich them in return. After every possible effort has been made, if they don’t want to be US citizens, then and only then, we should call them invaders and treat them accordingly. But then again, I also think Mexico shoulda been made a state of the union a long time ago, and A LOT OF PEOPLE DISAGREE WITH ME on that point.

I feel believers and nonbelievers need to keep on shouting. As an atheist, I enjoy arguing with believers and nonbelievers alike. While arguing though, we should keep the first amendment in mind and acknowledge that everyone has a right to their own opinion, but no one has a right to their own facts. Until you can prove whatever you believe, you lose the argument by default. I no longer claim to believe anything (except occasionally in jest). Instead, I feel something in my figurative heart, or think something in my literal brain, or know some things based on evidence. Most importantly, we need to keep arguing. When we stop arguing, that’s when I’m gonna start looking for some cover, and maybe a kevlar vest.

I feel the government should not get involved in the religious debate. There is supposed to be a separation of church and state. However, our alleged secular government is objectively speaking very not secular. Regardless what you believe, most elected or appointed officials on local, state, or federal offices, can’t get that position without proving publicly they believed in a god, usually the Abrahamic god. So our government is religious whether we like it or not, cuz most voters and financial supporters are religious.

I think if anything remotely like God exists, He, She, or It, has a lot of ‘splaining to do. For starters, why is there no evidence of its existence? Beyond the blanket and blatantly false assumption that the existence of something somehow presupposes a creator, we’ve looked at everything from the big bang to heat death. We’ve looked at everything from supernovas to subatomic particles like the higgs boson, and there’s zero evidence a god exists inside this universe. If a god exists outside this universe, it would need to have left behind some kind of evidence every time it tampers with the universe from the outside. There’s no proof of that. Furthermore, while modern science does not have all the answers, we have enough to see that the god concept is redundant. It is plausible this universe exists without the need of a creator. The idea of “The God of the Gaps” is getting more and more minute every day.

But even if despite all this, evidence comes to light in the future that made the existence of a god not only a possibility but an absolute certainty, which I don’t see as plausible but crazier things have happened, if that were the case, this god would need to explain why it created a universe with so much suffering. Why let some asshole who doesn’t deserve it own a porsche and a mazaratti while millions of children die cold and hungry before they can earn the right to be called assholes driving porsches and mazarattis?  Why 99% of the universe wants to see humanity dead, and yet the Abrahamic teachings claim god made this universe especially for humanity? Why the bible insists superiority of men over women when objective reality places men and women as different but equal? Why indentured servitude was considered okay thousands of years ago according to the alleged Word of God, but objectively speaking slavery has NEVER been okay to anyone but the slave owners? Why did god make some people gay only to claim its an abomination? I mean if you make an alleged abomination, you only have yourself to blame. Why tell people the universe was made in seven days when it really took him billions of years according to cold hard scientific data? Why use an old musty book thousands of years ago to talk to your Creation, when an omnipotent god woulda had access to cellphones (or even better technology thousands of years from now)? Why choose the jewish people who easily got lost in the desert, when the asians were a whole lot smarter at the time? Why did Lot’s daughters get their daddy drunk and rape him so they could have children? How can a guy live inside a whale for three days? A talking snake? Really? Why not make us more gullible so we wouldn’t realize he was conning us this whole time as some sort of sick depraved joke that only omnipotent omniscient gods would find funny?

I mean if a god existed, the evidence suggests he’s not at all benevolent. Such a ‘creator’ would in fact be a monster. He made us mortal, to torture us and watch us die. I’m glad he doesn’t exist, cuz otherwise i’d have to hate him.

I think sports are boring, except maybe for extreme sports like snowboarding and free running (Parkour), so i don’t care about underrated QBs. *smirk*

I prefer David Lee Roth Van Halen over Sammy Hagar Van Halen, but I prefer Rush over Eddie Van Halen.

I like Yes, but I couldn’t name the band members.

I don’t know who Demarcus War and Lawrence Taylor are, but I probably prefer Weezy Waiter and Greg Benson over either of them.

“I think this is list is in decreasing order of controversy”