Morning Links

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012
  • British government, public health activists say alcoholism running rampant even though per capita consumption is down.
  • States looking to pass yet more policies to curb access to prescription drugs. Note that one politician quoted refers to “patients” trying to manipulate the system, not “addicts” or “dealers.” A patient trying to manipulate the system is a patient who can’t get the drugs he needs, because of the system.
  • I feel another law named after a dead person coming on.
  • Oakland cops were given body-mounted cameras to improve relations with the public. But they aren’t turning them on when they’re policing protests.
  • The best outcome to the birth control debate: Make the pill available over the counter. I have a feeling neither side would approve.
  • Philly cops say they aren’t required to observe bike lanes.
  • Middle-aged American Family Association columnist calls high school junior a “small-minded and vengeful brat.” He also calls her “mean.”
Digg it |  reddit |  del.icio.us |  Fark

93 Responses to “Morning Links”

  1. #1 |  David | 

    If only it had been illegal for that 13-year-old to drink an alcoholic beverage, he might still be alive today!

  2. #2 |  Powersox | 

    No no no, we have to make the manufacture of the alcoholic energy beverage illegal. We can’t trust the general populace to make good decisions or follow laws. If it’s illegal to make it, then no one will ever mix Red Bull and Jager. Ever.

  3. #3 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    “TOWSON, Md. – The mother of a 13-year-old boy who died after falling out of a moving car says her son had been drinking an energy drink laced with alcohol. The boy, Michael Truluck of Baltimore County, was throwing up when he fell out of a car and was struck by another vehicle over the weekend. Police say no charges will be filed against the driver who struck Truluck. His mother, Kris Keys, is trying to make parents aware of the problem of energy drinks laced with alcohol.”

    We could call it “Mikey’s Law” and it would mandate
    10 years in prison for irresponsible parents who let their
    kids drink crazy-ass booze-laced concoctions and
    then try to blame other people.

  4. #4 |  Dante | 

    RE: Oakland Cops not turning on their cameras.

    In Maryland, there was a case recently which determined, finally, that it is LEGAL to photograph the police as long as you don’t interfere. I believe this was in Baltimore, but am not sure.

    The police were not amused.

    Now, when you photograph the police in Maryland (apparently) they can arrest you for “loitering”. And then of course, “resisting”.

    In other words, they continue to do what they want, and make up the reason later. Just like cops everywhere have been doing for 100 years.

    Protect & Serve (Themselves!)

  5. #5 |  DoubleU | 

    States looking to pass yet more policies to curb access to prescription drugs.

    Laws are never created to discourage or stop crime or criminals, laws are created to make life for law abiding citizens more difficult.

  6. #6 |  primus | 

    Prohibitionist mindset can’t distinguish fiction from nonfiction. Everything must be prohibited, just in case.

  7. #7 |  Kevin | 

    “The best outcome to the birth control debate: Make the pill available over the counter. I have a feeling neither side would approve.

    I’ve actually had a bit of a running debate with members on another forum about this since the controversy popped up, and you’re unfortunately right. The forum is populated primarily by liberals and progressives (and even a few hardcore socialists) who pepper me with flowery language about gender equality and ‘letting women choose’ when I object to mandated contraception insurance coverage on both economic and moral/libertarian grounds. But when I bring up making the pill OTC, they respond like not-forcing women to run their reproductive decisions through other people is the first step to Somalia, or something.

    Robin Hanson s right, politics isn’t about policy. People don’t care about the outcomes of policies/whether they work. They just care that they get implemented, because they affiliate with them.

  8. #8 |  karl | 

    Kevin, I have no idea what you’re writing about; nearly every like-minded liberal I know prefers easier access to contraceptives, including OTC. Please link to this alleged forum of yours so I can read the objections of these hardcore socialists.

  9. #9 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    AFA: because I am really into “crazy” right now, I just subscribed to Bryan Fischer’s twitter. I hope it’ll be all I think it will be.

  10. #10 |  Andrew S. | 

    On the 13 year old: I’m just counting the days until a state passes a bill with the “unintended consequence” of banning any concoction with alcohol and caffeine. Including rum-and-coke. And it will be enforced. Oh yes.

    On the Tennessee law: I’d ask “how in the world could this possibly pass constitutional muster?”, but I remember the constitution doesn’t really exist anymore. So yeah.

    On the AFA: That man is truly vile. I also notice that there are a lot fewer comments on there versus when I saw that yesterday. Seems he’s been doing some deleting.

  11. #11 |  Marty | 

    the nice thing about Bryan Fisher’s article is that he was smacked around nicely by the comenters.

  12. #12 |  Marty | 

    ‘commenters’

  13. #13 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    • While I have no expectation that the Oakland Cops are anything other than troglodytes, I will observe that when presented with a camera, the kind of Protesters one gets in Oakland are pretty well guaranteed to act out.

    • The “Middle-aged American Family Association columnist” has a point. The obsession politically active Atheists exhibit over Christian (and to a lesser degree Jewish) symbols and sentiments is ahistorical, has nothing to do with the intent of the First Amendment, and ducks the issue that their position is also one of faith and belief. OK, you believe that there is no God. Fine. We get it. When people who do want to express their belief, please sit in a corner and sulk. We are not going to make you disbelief the default State Religion. No matter HOW blue in the face you make yourself by holding your breath.

    BTW; while I was raised Protestant Christian, I am an agnostic. I put politically active Atheists on the same objectionable level as Bible Thumping Bab-tists, Church of Christers, prosthelytizing vegetarians, reformed-drunk members of MADD, and other such vermin.

  14. #14 |  dave smith | 

    #1 David. Comment of the day.

  15. #15 |  tariqata | 

    Count me as another liberal who has no objections to making contraceptive pills available over the counter.

    The only thing that I might prefer is to treat birth control pills as a “behind the counter” drug, available without a prescription and upon request, but with the pharmacist expected to verbally explain how to take them to best effect, that it’s not recommended for +35 women who smoke, and so on. I don’t think that’s coercive, just a pragmatic recognition of the fact that lots of people screw up taking all kinds of medication. It drives me nuts when my doctor gives me this talk, but I’d rather live with an unnecessary-for-me two minute info-dump than an unplanned pregnancy because I didn’t understand that the pills need to be taken at a regular time to be most effective.

  16. #16 |  Juice | 

    This little atheist tyrant, with the help of the grammatically challenged Freedom From Religion Foundation (the Constitution guarantees freedom “of” religion, not freedom “from” religion), got a prayer banner pulled off the wall of a Rhode Island high school, a banner that had not been bothering anybody since it was first put up in 1963. News flash: the Constitution hasn’t changed since then. It was constitutionally fine then, and it is constitutionally fine now.

    He’s got that backward. It wasn’t constitutionally fine then.

  17. #17 |  David | 

    I have no problem with Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and Pastafarians alike expressing their religious beliefs. It becomes an issue when the state expresses one.

  18. #18 |  FridayNext | 

    I have to agree with Karl. I know a lot of liberals/progressives and most (not all, certainly) would be fine with OTC birth control pills. It isn’t unanimous, certainly. Parents tend to want controls for people under 18 and women are much more likely to be for it than men. But by and large, I don’t get what Radley is getting at with “neither side would approve.” Maybe his comment is more about the elites on the left and right or the pundits or something.

    But hey. Not being a card carrying Liberal or Progressive I don’t know the secret hand shake so maybe they are not being forthright with me. So by all means bring on some evidence to prove this point. (and not ONE example or even TWO, but something that shows a consensus so that generalizations are possible)

    But as far as I can tell, OTC pills would send my conservative relatives and friends into fits of rage and disapproval. Most liberals I now would treat it with a shrug at worst. (which isn’t to let them off the hook more generally on government regulation and intrusion, GSD knows, but on this issue I want evidence.)

  19. #19 |  Davis | 

    Count me as another liberal who is genuinely curious who these supposed lefties are who would be upset with OTC access to the pill.

  20. #20 |  MDGuy | 

    The level of cognitive dissonance and abuse of language I’ve seen in the birth control debate is really mind boggling. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen it stated implicitly or even explicitly: the church is “restricting access” to birth control. Recently Joan Walsh at Salon ran a piece about how 98% of Catholics use some form of birth control. I guess it was supposed to be some kind of “gotcha” article but I was just left wondering, “if the vast majority of Catholics are already using birth control, how can one reasonably claim that access to birth control has been restricted?”

    In her article Walsh characterized the decision to mandate coverage of b.c. as “common sense” and “clear political thinking” but I don’t see clear thinking on the subject at all. What I see is a pie-in-the-sky fantasy that by mandating coverage, birth control magically becomes “free.” When birth control is “free,” demand for it will obviously increase – aside from health reasons, why wouldn’t you take it if it’s “free” and you’re entitled to it? Since insurance providers are mandated to pay for it, what incentive do manufacturers of birth control have to lower prices? They don’t have any incentive to lower prices and every reason in the world to jack them up since they have a captive consumer. Then insurance premiums go up for everyone — and not just Catholics who oppose it on moral grounds, but also singles, gay and lesbian couples, couples trying to have children, the elderly, and women who can’t use the pill because of health reasons.

    A few days ago when Radley posted to the Cato article on the birth control debate I saw a comment here that insurance companies would negotiate lower prices on birth control. Exactly how are they going to negotiate when manufacturers know they are bound by law to buy their product? Why would you believe that inserting insurance companies as middlemen between doctors and patients would lower prices of birth control?

    The other argument I keep seeing is that we need to subsidize birth control to prevent pregnancies that we’ll all have to pay for anyway. There might be some social benefit to subsidizing b.c. but the plan here is all about employer-provided health insurance plans — essentially, the demographic that already has overwhelming access to birth control and the means to pay for it. Mandating coverage of b.c. does nothing to expand access to the poor and unemployed.

    Making the pill available OTC would expose it to the forces of consumer choice and competition that have lowered the prices and expanded access to innumerable consumer goods. As the article Radley linked to today pointed out, birth control costs manufacturers about 20 cents a pack. The rest of the price is due to artificial barriers – namely, forcing women to go through their doctor to get it. Now progressives are demanding that insurance companies become another player in the mix while simultaneously imagining that birth control will become “free.” How can there be any outcome except increased prices?

    Of course, rightwingers haven’t done and won’t do themselves any favors in the debate. They’ve already made a gaffe with the all-male congressional panel that lends credence to the progressive charge that this all about hating women and wanting to control their reproductive organs. I can only imagine the boogeymen conservatives would conjure up if the argument for making birth control available OTC ever gains any traction.

  21. #21 |  Ben | 

    CSPS – Give me a break. He does not have a point. That prayer banner is, was and always has been unconstitutional. It’s just that no one challenged it until now. And I don’t know a single Atheist who would ever state their opinion as agreeing with your strawman that they “believe that there is no God.” Atheists don’t “believe” anything. They reject beliefs. That’s the whole point. I agree that some of the more obnoxiously vocal atheists either don’t make their argument well, or are incapable of making their argument without resorting to insults and name-calling. But stop making strawmen.

  22. #22 |  Mr. Snark | 

    OTC access to the pill might cut back on funding to Planned Parenthood and liberals wouldn’t want that.

  23. #23 |  fwb | 

    OTC Pills like they have had in Mexico for 30+ years. You pick em up at the checkout counter of grocery stores, etc. And why stop there? In Canada and many other countries one can purchase antibiotics and numerous other drugs OTC.

    Why should we have to pay a fecking doctor $100 to get a prescription THEN go to the drug store.?

    One answer: AMA

    Oh, yeah, and Congress has not authority to place such restrictions on the people but what the hell is the Constitution anyway.

  24. #24 |  Mattocracy | 

    I completely agree with birth control being available over the counter, along with pretty much any other drug, but I have issue with this statement:

    “The hormonal formulation we call the pill is much more than a contraceptive. Our ancient ancestors didn’t ovulate as many times over their lifetimes as today’s women. They had later puberty, and once they started having children, they breast-fedwithout ovulating for long intervals. Evidence suggests they had as few as 30 menstrual cycles in a lifetime, compared with 300 or more today.”

    Is this true? I’m seriously asking. It’s always been my understanding that women got married pretty young back in the day and had kids pretty young as well, so I have a hard time believing that women hit puberty later.

    I googled this and haven’t gotten any definitive answers about historical aunt flow visitations. Is this being said because human beings lived shorter lives and women were pregnant more often? Even if you had 10 kids and died at 40, it seems like you would menstruate more than 30 times in your life. That quote seems misleading.

    I know someone is going to respond by saying, “Oh yeah, some girls as young as X start having periods and some women with irregular periods only yada yada yada.” That’s cool and all, but I think this author has overstated the change in the norm from antiquity to modern times to bolster her argument.

    I know it’s small potatoes in the whole grand scheme of things. Regardless of the accuracy, freedom still wins hands down no matter what, but this just stuck out at me.

  25. #25 |  MDGuy | 

    It took me awhile to type up that comment and I see that several people have posted that progressives are in support of OTC pills. That is certainly heartening to see, but the terms of the debate as I have seen them are that progressives are for mandating coverage of birth control through insurance companies. I have not seen any progressive pundits/columnists who specifically oppose OTC birth control, but neither have I seen any progressives arguing for OTC as an alternative to mandating coverage.

  26. #26 |  David | 

    MDGuy, are you implying that insurance companies aren’t involved with the purchase of birth control now?

  27. #27 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    Juice,

    The First Amendment was intended to prevent the establishment of a National Religion. It was not seen as preventing the establishment os State religion, and several of the former colonies had official churches, of varying degrees of incipient Fascism. The “Separation of Church and State” language is not in the Amendment, the Constitution, or, for that matter, in any of the founding documents. The idea that one Faith based position has a Constitutional Right to chase other Faith Based positions out of the public square by the expedient of claiming it is not a religion is swill. It was swill in 1963. It was swill in 500 B.C. It is swill now.

  28. #28 |  MDGuy | 

    David – no I was not implying that. To the extent that insurance companies are already involved with the purchase of b.c. I believe that they are another middleman/barrier that artificially raises the price of birth control. The argument from progressives, as I understand it, is that insurance companies role in the system should be expanded further.

  29. #29 |  fwb | 

    Maybe those criticizing the writer on his blog should spend a bit of time pulling their heads out and finding out what the 1st actually says AND means.

    Regardless of what 99.99% think the 1st amendment means, those 99,99% are wrong. During the writing of the BoR, Madison himself stated that they could not bind the states on religion, the press, speech, etc which is why they restricted the First Amendment to CONGRESS, and ONLY Congress. What most people THINK they know is bullshit written by the Courts using the due process clause of the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment. The process is called incorporation because in 1833 the Supreme Court ruled in Barron v Baltimore that NONE OF THE BILL OF RIGHTS APPLIED TO THE STATES.

    So they waited until the 1920s/30s to invent the Doctrine of Incorporation and using it the Supreme Court makes up all the bullshit they people complain about today.

    The First Amendment is not about rights except in the case of “the right to peaceable assemble” . Go read it some time.

    The First Amendment DOES NOT bind the states except in the minds of the ignorant. It requries an state constitutional religious freedom clause to bind a state. This conclusion is supported not only by the simple, clear language of the 1st amendment (which was originally the 3rd amendment and was not 1st because it was sooooo important) and by the written intentions of James Madison and those who provided the BoR.

    Ignorance is rampant in the US. Watch out.

    N.B. No one on the First Congress had the idea that the First Amendment made some bogus “wall of separation of church and state”. That was BS crap made up later. Remember, Jefferson, who wrote the letter about separation of church and state, NEVER served in Congress and had no idea what the 1st Amendment was about except for what HE thought and not what everyone else thought.

  30. #30 |  William Kern | 

    All drugs should be OTC. Nothing should stand between willing sellers and buyers.

  31. #31 |  Robert | 

    @ C.S.P. If they wish to celebrate in public, it’s fine by me. Just don’t use my tax dolalrs to support it, or prevent others of any faith from doing the same.

  32. #32 |  David | 

    What most people THINK they know is bullshit written by the Courts using the due process clause of the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment. The process is called incorporation because in 1833 the Supreme Court ruled in Barron v Baltimore that NONE OF THE BILL OF RIGHTS APPLIED TO THE STATES.

    And because Barron v. Baltimore was written after the 14th amendment was passed, clearly the Constitution hasn’t changed since 1833!

  33. #33 |  Robert | 

    dollars, dammit.

  34. #34 |  fwb | 

    People need to look more carefully at what they believe about the Constitution. The Courts and the rest of the government haven’t been true to the Constitution SINCE the frist Congress.

  35. #35 |  fwb | 

    For those who think the courts have any say in the matter versus the people, read this:

    “For, whenever a question arises between the society at large and any magistrate vested with powers originally delegated by that society, it must be decided by the voice of the society itself: there is not upon earth any other tribunal to resort to.”

    Sir William Blackstone, Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England, Book I, Chp3, pg.205/6

  36. #36 |  Dante | 

    Regarding the Birth Control debate, I see another angle – politics.

    Obama knows that women support the availability of birth control (mostly).

    He knows (or suspects) the waning influence of the Catholic Church.

    He knows there are more women in America than men.

    Women vote in high percentages, possibly even higher than men.

    Conclusion: This whole tempest-in-a-teapot is staged. Obama wants the female vote, and while he is at it he wants the GOP to be exposed as “woman-haters” so the Congress gets more Democrats.

    Obama could not care less about women’s uterus. He cares about women’s votes. It is not class warfare, it is gender warfare.

    Then again, I’m the village idiot so what do I know?

  37. #37 |  Andrew S. | 

    So fwb apparently thinks the 4th, 5th, and 6th amendments shouldn’t apply to the states either. Big fan of the drug war and eminent domain abuse, are you?

  38. #38 |  FridayNext | 

    MDGuy,

    One reason you may not being seeing progressives asking for OTC to be part of the debate is that many may not even realize it is on the table. We have a presidential candidate from one party (who may or may not be the front runner, but is certainly in contention) saying that prenatal care leads to more abortions, that our founding fathers made a mistake when they added “Pursuit of Happiness” to the DofI, and whose major backer recently spoke lovingly of the days when birth control meant women held an aspirin between their knees. Discussing birth control as an OTC drug would be a great 21st Century debate to have. Unfortunately our public discourse on the topic has regressed to the mid-20th Century and most progressives I know (and I share this with them) are just trying to defend the reproductive freedom line from being pushed back, I don’t think many of them consider moving it forward to be possible at this time, certainly not in an election year.

  39. #39 |  Andrew S. | 

    Also on the girl in Rhode Island: The school really shot themselves in the foot. The original request wasn’t to take down the whole banner; it was just to take down “Our heavenly father” and “Amen”. By rejecting that request, it became pretty clear that this was about the school sponsoring a religious prayer (for a single religion), and not some kind of motivational message.

  40. #40 |  A non | 

    Haven’t read the article yet, but it’s quite possible for alcoholism to go up while per capita consumption goes down. Alcoholism is about the few who drink a lot, while the “per capita” figures are about the average person. They have little to do with each other.

  41. #41 |  Chris Mallory | 

    The school wasn’t sponsoring anything. The 1963 graduating class, the first to graduate from the school, sponsored it. Should their speech be limited because of a small minded intolerant brat? If the Class of 2012 put up a banner expounding the glories of gay marriage or MLK, should it be pulled down because some might find it offensive?

  42. #42 |  What Do I Know? | 

    I think the Lib/Prog stance on BC is that it must be ‘free’ whether provided by insurance or a gov’t handout. Of course intelligent people realize (intelligent lib/progs ignore), that ‘free’ doesn’t really mean of no cost, only that the cost isn’t born by the user. Others above have noted what happens to the cost when the price is not born by the user.

    I think (a complete assumption) that any lib/prog objection to OTC BC is based on then forcing the user to pay the price. Perhaps they think that this is an unfair burden placed disproportionally on women. That sexual promiscuity is a right of women that should be guaranteed by the federal government. After all, if the woman is in a committed relationship, there is someone to share the burden.

  43. #43 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    Robert;

    The banner that was taken down was donated by a graduating class. I guess you could make public money has been spent, but I think it would be a hell of a stretch.

    As for monuments that were once paid for by public money; how is it reasonable to spend public money to tear them down, in accordance to the demands of one set of beliefs instead of spending no money to leave them alone?

  44. #44 |  Chris Mallory | 

    #37,
    There is only one amendment that specifies “Congress”. I would argue that the others applied to the states even before incorporation. But then I think words mean what they say.

  45. #45 |  MDGuy | 

    FridayNext — you bring up a very good point that I was kind of alluding to in the last paragraph of my original post. It is frustrating to me to try to make an argument in the debate because as soon as I say I’m against mandating coverage, the assumption is that I’m a religious nut who believes that a woman’s uterus is the property of her husband and to be used only for procreative purposes. I’m actually not religious at all and my girlfriend and I split the cost of her birth control. I do find the conservative’s resistance to birth control to be backwards and foolish, and there are certainly strains of hatred towards woman in many of their arguments (i.e. the aspirin-between-the knees comment, which is really kind of silly when you actually think about it — knees together from behind is absolutely fantastic :D ).

  46. #46 |  Elliot | 

    The best outcome to the birth control debate: Make the pill available over the counter. I have a feeling neither side would approve.

    That’s all well and good, and carrying that further, the solution to a lot of problems would be to get rid of the DEA and FDA, and allow pharmacies or other retailers decide for themselves what standards to use to dispense medicine.

    But the real problem here is that insurance is no longer treated like insurance. Instead of paying low premiums for protection against unexpected events of high cost, people have come to expect that everything medical-related be given a discount. When we’re forced to have insurance and insurance providers are forced to discount just about everything, the whole system is essentially a means of redistribution, from healthy people who rarely go to the doctor and don’t take prescriptions, to everyone else.

    For politicians, it’s a means to look like the great benefactor looking out for everyone’s health, protecting the most vulnerable, but they’re only shifting the costs and creating incentives to squander money.

  47. #47 |  Kevin | 

    RE: #8, 15, 19, 24 … everyone else.

    We’re over at Raving Atheist forums (just google), down in the Open Mic section.

    I’ve been pitching the move to OTC for days and had exactly zero takers. Even while they blast me for ‘wanting to get in women’s business’ for not supporting the mandate, they ignore my suggestion of moving to OTC, except for a few who actively reject it because they ‘trust the scientists at the FDA’.

    It’s all signalling. All of it.

  48. #48 |  jdb79 | 

    21 – While it may be that some thoughtful atheists hold to atheism as an absence of belief, virtually all of the atheistic or agnostic literature on my bookshelf insists on belief in absence, which is a distinctly different doctrine. Huxley’s agnosticism is more complete and justifiable than any position of absolute atheism, which tends to lead to siege mentalities and the kind of aggressively obnoxious billboards that we see every Christmas.

    In the public sphere, though, it’s apparent that tax dollars should never be used to honor or privilege any belief system, religious or secular. Why any religious thinker would want to monkey with that and risk having his own faith marginalized by government is beyond me.

  49. #49 |  Aaron | 

    The idea that one Faith based position has a Constitutional Right to chase other Faith Based positions out of the public square by the expedient of claiming it is not a religion is swill.

    Atheism is a religion the way bald is a hair color.

  50. #50 |  Mark Z. | 

    MDGuy: “A few days ago when Radley posted to the Cato article on the birth control debate I saw a comment here that insurance companies would negotiate lower prices on birth control. Exactly how are they going to negotiate when manufacturers know they are bound by law to buy their product?”

    They pay pharmacies at a flat rate. Since most contraceptives are generics, the pharmacies then choose among several bioequivalent products based on price and availability. Generic drugs are a highly competitive business. They’re like fresh vegetables. You go to Safeway and there’s broccoli on the shelf. Do you go to the produce manager and complain that you can’t choose among several clearly marked brands of broccoli from different suppliers and so they must be charging monopoly rent of some kind? No, because the produce manager does choose between suppliers, and can probably negotiate a better price than you’d get (say, buying from the same people at the farmers’ market) because he’s buying larger quantities.

  51. #51 |  This Does NOT Represent Family Values « Threads from Henry's Web | 

    […] (HT: The Agitator) […]

  52. #52 |  MDGuy | 

    Mark Z. — I think your analysis is missing some important points. In your analogy with the broccoli, consumers are still paying out of pocket for the broccoli and if the price doesn’t suit them, they won’t buy it. That creates a point at which broccoli producers must lower their price to continue to sell their product. If grocers were required by law to provide broccoli for “free” to shoppers, wouldn’t broccoli producers eventually realize that demand for broccoli will remain the same even if they raise their prices? There will still be competition between providers, but that baseline point at which consumers will no longer purchase broccoli is gone because to the consumer, broccoli is “free”. The grocer will in turn raise his prices on other products in his store to offset his losses on providing broccoli for “free.”

    Additionally, I’m still unclear on how are prices going to fall by inserting another middleman into the system. In an OTC scenario, the consumer pays for the cost of manufacturing, packaging and shipping the pills, plus some profit for the manufacturer and the pharmacy. With pills requiring a prescription, the consumer has to pay all of that, plus the expense of going to the doctor. With insurance added in on top of that, the consumer has to pay all the costs associated with the pill directly, the expense of going to the doctor, and then the administrative costs and profit margin for the insurance company. How is that scenario going to be cheaper?

  53. #53 |  EH | 

    FridayNext:
    But hey. Not being a card carrying Liberal or Progressive I don’t know the secret hand shake so maybe they are not being forthright with me.

    Pfft, for a self-professed agnostic you sure held on to a lot of sanctimony.

  54. #54 |  EH | 

    MDGuy:
    I was just left wondering, “if the vast majority of Catholics are already using birth control, how can one reasonably claim that access to birth control has been restricted?”

    Because the alternative argument is that the Catholic church is a shitty employer who offers incomplete health insurance options.

  55. #55 |  Ben | 

    #48 | jdb79 –

    Maybe we’ve read different atheist authors, but most of them that I’ve read don’t come anywhere near claiming that there MUST be NO god. That’s a ridiculous assertion that I’ve never heard a serious atheist make. The great majority that I’ve read simply argue that faith and belief itself is nonsensical and pointless.

  56. #56 |  Juice | 

    C. S. P. Schofield,

    All right then. Here’s the Rhode Island constitution:

    Whereas Almighty God hath created the mind free; and all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burdens, or by civil incapacitations, tend to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness; and whereas a principal object of our venerable ancestors, in their migration to this country and their settlement of this state, was, as they expressed it, to hold forth a lively experiment that a flourishing civil state may stand and be best maintained with full liberty in religious concernments; we, therefore, declare that no person shall be compelled to frequent or to support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatever, except in fulfillment of such person’s voluntary contract; nor enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in body or goods; nor disqualified from holding any office; nor otherwise suffer on account of such person’s religious belief; and that every person shall be free to worship God according to the dictates of such person’s conscience, and to profess and by argument to maintain such person’s opinion in matters of religion; and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect the civil capacity of any person.

    By plastering the government school with prayers of a specific religion, the school has now become a state-sponsored place of religious worship, which no person shall be compelled to support.

  57. #57 |  Debi | 

    I’m yet another liberal who would welcome OTC birth control. The prices could be kept down, making it much more affordable than what women are paying now. I’d want for it to be available to teenage girls as well. And I’d want the mini-pill available OTC, too. (Having to argue with your doc about your decision to nurse your kid past 6 months gets old real fast!) BCP don’t work for everyone, for a variety of reasons. I’d still like to see other birth control methods covered by insurance. I think permanent birth control (including vasectomies) should also be covered by insurance.

    Reproduction is a major health issue for women. Our ability to choose when we get pregnant is the basis of our freedom. Our pursuit of happiness is dependent on our reproductive rights. I truly cannot stress this enough. Pregnancy puts my health and my life at risk. It makes it more likely that I will be fired, and less likely that I will be hired. It puts me at higher risk of being a victim of domestic abuse. It puts me at higher risk of poverty. My entire body permanently changes as a result of pregnancy. Women should absolutely have full access to birth control methods. And men should have more birth control options.

  58. #58 |  Brandon | 

    William Kern, that is the most sensible comment I’ve seen all day.

  59. #59 |  Debi | 

    Radley – Some reading for you:
    http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/02/16/murder-by-nursing

  60. #60 |  Elliot | 

    Ben (#54):Maybe we’ve read different atheist authors, but most of them that I’ve read don’t come anywhere near claiming that there MUST be NO god. That’s a ridiculous assertion that I’ve never heard a serious atheist make. The great majority that I’ve read simply argue that faith and belief itself is nonsensical and pointless.

    Saying, “There is no god,” is no more ridiculous than saying, “There is no invisible dragon in your garage.” Sure, one can argue that we can’t know for certain that there are no invisible dragons, but any rational adult with a modicum of understanding of the physical world and the nature of mythology will laugh at the notion that a clearly contrived imaginary creature might actually exist in such a way as to avoid detection.

    If you’re not careful, you allow the religious and the confused to pose the alternatives in a way that “god” and “no god” are treated with similar respect. This is no different than holding a debate between a five-year-old child who believes in dragons and an educated adult, demanding that both beliefs or non-beliefs be treated as equally respectable.

  61. #61 |  BrianB | 

    CSPS,jdb79:

    A non-belief is not a belief. I don’t say “I believe there is no God”, I say “there is no God and until I see evidence to the contrary I reject the claim that there is one.” Also, jdb79 who are you reading because like Ben no atheist authors I’ve read are absolutest.

  62. #62 |  Kevin | 

    RE: #56 Debi…

    Definitely heartening that not all liberals are closet authoritarians. Good post.

  63. #63 |  BrianB | 

    As for the banner itself I could have cared less and it was mentioned above that the original suit was a request to cover up the overtly Christian “Our Heavenly Father” and “Amen”. I am grateful to Jessica for this lawsuit though because she has done a great job of exposing Christian hypocrisy. While many Christians are quite decent and tolerant people most who call themselves Christian are fascist d-bags. At one of the school board meetings regarding the case the police had to escort her out because they began to fear for her safety (although we all know the pd are usually a citizens greatest threat).

  64. #64 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    Let me make a distinction here; like Christians I expect that there are Atheists who believe a wide variety of things. But Politically Active Atheists apparently believe only one; that if anybody is allowed to mention God in their presence they personally are going to die in excruciating agony. I can take nothing else away from their Crusade to remove all mention of the Christian or Jewish God from all public space. They also apparently believe (I think with good cause) that if they pull one-tenth the cr*p on followers of Islam that they pull on Christians, Islam will make their lives very unpleasant.

    Yes, the Christians of 19th Century America were an arrogant bunch, taken all together. Their pasting bible verses all over everything they built was heavy handed. That is no grounds for tolerating a similar heavy-handedness from self appointed Atheist Crusaders.

    A school with a banner on the wall, even a banner with a Prayer on it, is not a church.

    Lastly; let me observe, in reaction to decades of snippy Atheists telling me to “Think about all the deaths caused by Religion; all the wars and persecutions!”,

    Atheistical Socialism/Communism took about half a century to murder 85-100 million people (Statistics from THE BLACK BOOK OF COMMUNISM; Harvard University Press). Compared to that the Spanish Inquisition was a flock of amateurs.

    Repeating: I am an agnostic. I am no friend of TV Televangelists or other Bible Thumpers. But I am very nearly as sick and tired of self-described Atheists making demands that they should never, ever be offended. Grow some hide, or stay at home under the bed.

  65. #65 |  Combaticus | 

    I wish atheists would stop trying to cram their religion down my throat.

  66. #66 |  Andrew S. | 

    BrianB @#62, why are you bringing facts into this? The conservative brigade has told us that she’s obviously a terrible human being who spits on Christians and deserves all the hatred and death threats she’s been getting. I mean, they have to be right?

  67. #67 |  Andrew S. | 

    #63: The difference is that Communist nations never killed in the name of Atheism. They killed in the name of power. The Inquisition, and the Crusades? That was murder in the name of religion.

    This is not about being offended. This is about an overtly Christian prayer banner in a Public School. I somewhat doubt you’d be defending a prayer to Allah.

  68. #68 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    Andrew S.

    “The difference is that Communist nations never killed in the name of Atheism. They killed in the name of power. The Inquisition, and the Crusades? That was murder in the name of religion.”

    That is possibly the most idiotic defence of Communism that I have ever heard or read. The HELL the Communist nations didn’t kill in the name of Atheism; they explicitly condemned people for a variety of anti-Communist “sins”, many of which amounted to worshiping something other than the State. The Russian Orthodox Church and the Jews were persecuted FOR THEIR RELIGIONS. They were sent to Siberia or killed in prison because they weren’t Atheists and would not pretend to be.

    I am having a hard time deciding if you are a scoundrel and a liar, or a fool and an ignoramus.

    Having said that, WHAT THE HELL DOES IT MATTER what a bunch of power- and blood-thirsty swine killed ‘in the name of’? They ALL killed for power. Period.

  69. #69 |  Bergman | 

    A commenter on that blog noted that that particular model of body camera the Oakland PD are using have a rather short battery life, and a smaller capacity than you’d expect.

    One thing I noticed in the video is that you almost always see an officer with a camera switched off standing next to at least one who has theirs switched on. If the battery life is too short and the capacity too small, then the cameras would likely cease functioning before the deployment is over if all the officers switched theirs on at the start. Rotating the camera activation would make sense…but given it’s Oakland, I’d bet that’s not why they’re leaving them switched off!

  70. #70 |  thefncrow | 

    Elliot:

    “But the real problem here is that insurance is no longer treated like insurance. Instead of paying low premiums for protection against unexpected events of high cost, people have come to expect that everything medical-related be given a discount.”

    Because, believe it or not, those big catastrophic health emergencies occur more frequently when regular preventative care isn’t taken. As a result, covering only such catastrophic events and not preventive care is a recipe for incredibly high insurance premiums as people with insurance blow past regular checkups and physicals that could catch a problem that could be easily managed with medication before it becomes necessary to need a big expensive surgery because you let your condition go untreated for far too long.

    That is rather the point of modern insurance, to not just cover the big catastrophic events, but to encourage preventative care which promotes a better outcome for both the insurance company and the health of the insurance policy holder. It’s far better for an insurance company to have to pay out $50/month for a policy holder’s blood pressure medications even over a number of years than it would be for the insurance company to shell out $200,000 for heart surgery.

  71. #71 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    Bergman,

    I think it’s entirely possible that you HAVE, in fact, found the reason that the Oakland Cops’ cameras are turned off. Of course, that begs the question of why the Oakland Police bought that model……..

  72. #72 |  Andrew S. | 

    Wow, Mr. Schofield. You managed to use the most tortured reading I’ve ever seen on the internet to argue that I’m defending Communism. Congrats. That was really impressive.

  73. #73 |  Anne | 

    Nobody in Philly pays any attention to those bike lanes. Or the “Bus Only” lanes – everyone just goes right ahead and drives in them. I’ve never heard of anyone getting a ticket, so I can’t fault the police for ignoring them like everyone else.

  74. #74 |  Debi | 

    Here is some fascinating info for those interested in the birth control debate:
    http://www.guttmacher.org/media/nr/2011/05/19/index.html

  75. #75 |  BrianB | 

    CSPS,

    What the hell did this thread have to do with communism? Did I mention communism? Let me first address your comment about atheists not making a stink about Islam. We don’t make a serious stink about Islam because America is mostly Christian. I have absolutely no fear of giving Muslims a stink should they try to get away with some of the shit Christians get away with. Maybe if I lived in a Muslim country I’d have a different thought about that but I don’t. I live in America and despite all of the Christian propaganda the small Muslim community here in America isn’t made up of a bunch of people who run around chopping off heads for insulting the prophet. If they were I’d probably think twice about it.

    Second, the God of Abraham is also the God of Muslims.

    Third, communists also killed atheists. My wife is Czech and her oldest brother was a known atheist who was a student at Charles University in 1984 in Prague when he was taken away and never seen again. He complained about communism one too many times.

    Lastly, try to be careful when you climb down off your little mountain there ok? Take care

  76. #76 |  Robert | 

    @CSP: “The banner that was taken down was donated by a graduating class. I guess you could make public money has been spent, but I think it would be a hell of a stretch.”

    No stretch at all. It’s housed in a Public building, protected from the elements and theft. Tax dollars pay for that building.

    “As for monuments that were once paid for by public money; how is it reasonable to spend public money to tear them down, in accordance to the demands of one set of beliefs instead of spending no money to leave them alone?”

    I’m sure that donations from interested parties could well take care of any costs of removal.

  77. #77 |  JOR | 

    It’s always nice to see arguments over religion, atheism, agnosticism, etc. play themselves out in the same ridiculous and mutually fallacious terms they always do.

  78. #78 |  Jerryskids | 

    @#42 What Do I Know – Bingo. Progs don’t want birth control available OTC, they want it for free.

  79. #79 |  AL | 

    “That is possibly the most idiotic defence of Communism that I have ever heard or read.”

    In what way was he defending communism? Pointing out that communists killed people for reasons other than their religious belief is not a defense of communism.

  80. #80 |  Windy | 

    #23 You’re right, the AMA is the problem not the solution:

    “Unless we put medical freedom into the Constitution, the time will come when medicine will organize into an undercover dictatorship to restrict the art of healing to one class of men and deny equal privileges to others: The Constitution of this Republic should make a special privilege for medical freedom as well as religious freedom.” — Dr. Benjamin Rush, signer of the Declaration of Independence.

    History has proven him correct.

  81. #81 |  Xenocles | 

    #21 Ben-

    You don’t know me, but I “believe there is no god.” Penn Jillette has said the same thing in a “This I Believe” essay. In the archives of his blog Steven Den Beste explains his atheism in the same way. So now you know of three, which is something.

  82. #82 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    I’d support availability of birth control on the same basis as the UK’s “P”, Pharmacist-only. (The Pharmacist asks about other drugs you’re taking and warns you of major side effects before handing it over).

    It’s a useful mid-way point between prescription only and OTC.

  83. #83 |  Elliot | 

    thefncrow (#70):Because, believe it or not, those big catastrophic health emergencies occur more frequently when regular preventative care isn’t taken. As a result, covering only such catastrophic events and not preventive care is a recipe for incredibly high insurance premiums as people with insurance blow past regular checkups and physicals that could catch a problem that could be easily managed with medication before it becomes necessary to need a big expensive surgery because you let your condition go untreated for far too long.

    If you’re responsible for paying for most of your doctor visits, medication, labs, etc., then you have an incentive to spend a relatively small amount on preventative care to avoid having a major problem later which will cost much more. If your insurance company only pays for unexpected, high-cost expenses, but realizes that preventative care can help offset the occurrence of such events, they may decide to provide incentives for such, picking and choosing things, like vaccines and such, to subsidize.

    That’s all well and good, so long as it is the insurance company making such decisions and the consumer has the freedom to pick insurance policies on the free market.

    My problem is when some government asshole decides that, to make life easier for their core voters, they’re going to force me to buy insurance…and that it must be of the distributive, collective pool discount club variety, which I see as overly expensive (for me).

    It’s all about choice. Only when the government is out of the business of subsidizing doctor visits and medicine (Medicare, Medicaid) and doesn’t mandate who has to buy what and what insurance companies must cover (ObamaPelosiCare), is there free choice.

    You can list a thousand “good reasons” why government rules are “better” (better FOR WHOM?) but I see all of that as irrelevant if to accomplish your goals, you’re violating the rights of your neighbors to make their own decisions. The individual’s right to choose trumps the benefit of the majority.

    And, no, I don’t consider democracy a way for me to make a choice. Instead of people working out their own problems or negotiating until they come to a satisfactory arrangement, democracy is two armies showing up at the battlefield and the one with the most soldiers being declared the victor without spilling blood, at which point the winning “side” gets to make all of the rules. It’s a recipe for exploitation and oppression.

    Only in a free market is there an ethical way to solve these problems, and only when individuals and groups get to make their own decisions separate from others.

  84. #84 |  Big A | 

    #70 thefncrow- If covering preventative care instead of/ in addition to catastrophic events is advantageous to the insurance companies, then surely they would offer a policy for it on their own. Businesses don’t need to be forced to make good business decisions. However, if covering preventative care is truly the way to go, why doesn’t auto insurance work that way? Is it because covering the little stuff that people can pay for out of pocket would drastically drive up insurance prices to where it would be difficult to afford coverage for the major stuff that people can’t pay out of pocket of (and hence the reason they purchase an insurance policy in the first place)?

  85. #85 |  Elliot | 

    @Big A (#84): Auto insurance covers collisions. Warranties cover repairs. In order to qualify as a covered expense under a warranty, the dealers typically require that you get scheduled maintenance, like oil changes, which would be analogous to preventative care in medicine. I’ve even seen dealers offering free oil changes for the first so many months after you purchase your vehicle, which of course gets you used to bringing your vehicle to them for all maintenance.

    Or, look at homeowner insurance. Mortgage lenders require such coverage so they don’t lose out on their investment should your house burn down. Insurance companies require that you follow certain rules to qualify for coverage. And, they are typically free to adjust your premiums based upon factors like proximity to a fire hydrant, fire station, building materials, etc.. But if your air conditioner or appliances break, that’s a different matter. You can get a homeowner warranty when you purchase a home to cover appliances, but that’s separate and costs quite a bit more on top of the regular homeowner insurance.

    The government health insurance rules are like forcing insurance companies to offer warranty service for doctor visits, labs, procedures, and medicine. All that does is drive up the cost of premiums, and plenty of young, healthy people who don’t need such coverage are screwed by being deprived of the choice to opt out.

    Another difference is the influence of Medicare and Medicaid on the prices. People without insurance or with high deductible insurance, who pay out of pocket for medical services, often find that they are forced to pay the government-mandated rate, regardless of whether the supply/demand would indicate a different rate. But in other cases, some places even have a dusty old folder they keep under the counter for those people who pay out of pocket, as a way to stay competitive for those people who still shop around for the best price.

    Warren Meyer of Forbes has written about the problem of hiding costs.

  86. #86 |  Elliot | 

    @C. S. P. Schofield and jdb79:

    You want to see an atheist who is not afraid of mocking Islam? Look at my blog post here. Click on the “religion” category at the bottom to see some others I put up, like one about South Park.

    As for communism being a product of atheism, that’s bullshit. Communism and organized religions are collectivist organizations, and historical examples show that both have been responsible for mass murders. Comparing the communists with the Nazis, they were nearly identical in their use of power, with a few cosmetic changes. (Putting them at the opposite end of an archaic “spectrum” is pure idiocy, a complete denial of reality.) The communists usually persecuted all religion: as totalitarians, they wanted to capture the minds of their citizens and organized religion was competition, rather than anathema to their dogma. Plenty of Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and others have actually drawn upon their religion’s teachings to justify collectivist economic politics. The Nazis, on the other hand, exploited Christianity and Nordic mythology as part of their propaganda. They persecuted minority religions, in part to play to the prejudices of the majority faithful. And, while the communists murdered far more than the Nazis, the per capita per annum rate of murder by regime (democide) was comparable. The communists had decades to carry out their terror.

    So, blaming atheism for mass murder flies in the face of the facts.

    In my experience, in most every case I’ve seen in person, on the Internet, on TV/radio, when there is a disagreement between atheists and theists, the one who threatens violence is the theist. After Hitchens died, the twitter hashtag #godisnotgreat was trending and the administrators of twitter actually removed it from the list because there were so many threats of violence or other hostile tweets from theists (usually Christians or Muslims), usually people who didn’t get the reference to Hitchens’ book.

    Much of my posts and comments on the Internet involve criticizing socialism, from the mass murderers to the democratic Gramscian socialism in much of the world today (including the US). As a free market individualist, I disagree with most politically active atheists on most things outside of religion, because while they have abandoned the god delusion, they still cling to the government delusions. On matters of religion, I don’t see most of them as malevolent, irrational, or driven by some mental instability (the caricature in Schofield’s comment). Rather, they are sick of being kicked around and marginalized by theist bullies who can’t tolerate someone daring to voice their skepticism of the imaginary nonsense they regard to be sacrosanct.

    I even bought Bill Maher’s “Religulous”, despite my disgust for his political propaganda. I was a bit disappointed, because he wimped out and pulled his punches in a number of situations. Of course, he’s a mediocre comedian, not the intellect of a Hitchens or Dawkins, both of whom made/make excellent counterarguments against theists, at times being unmerciful to bullshit arguments (with good reason).

    The only politically active atheist I know who has sensible politics is Penn Jillette, who describes himself as a libertarian or even a free market anarchist.

    jdb79 (#48):Huxley’s agnosticism is more complete and justifiable than any position of absolute atheism, which tends to lead to siege mentalities and the kind of aggressively obnoxious billboards that we see every Christmas.

    Huxley’s arguments, like Pascal’s wager, have been soundly demolished by atheist authors. In short, Huxley was afraid to antagonize the theists, as he knew from history they could be dangerous.

    Also, you’ve fallen into the trap of the false dichotomy. Agnosticism and atheism do not define a dividing line between people. Agnosticism answers the question, “Can we know if the divine exists?” Atheism asks, “Do you believe in the divine?” Most people who call themselves agnostic are also atheists, but they are misinformed and reluctant to classify themselves as the latter. (I was that way for many years, probably out of a lingering Christian guilt.)

    Indeed, I’ve seen prominent atheists explain how even people who classify themselves as religious are, in fact, atheists, in that they demonstrate by their actions that they don’t actually believe what they claim to. People give in to peer pressure and, as we see by examples like the twitter hashtag brouhaha, theists can be very hostile and threatening, so even if you don’t believe, it’s often safer to claim you do and go with the flow.

  87. #87 |  Big A | 

    #85- Elliot. I agree with you fully and I think your comment is stated in a more complete way as well. One difference with health care I still note is that with homeowners and auto insurance, the preventative maintenance and requirements to remain within the terms of the warranty is up to policy holder. You mentioned dealers offering free oil changes- but that’s still the dealer, not the insurance. And there is obviously a motive for that. Thefncrow was arguing that there’s an advantage for insurance companies to pay for the preventative maintenance or check ups (and therefore it’s okay to require them to do so or something), but if that was true, it would already be happening. Either way, you’re correct that advantage or no, it doesn’t freaking matter because all companies should have the freedom to make their own business choices, just as all people should have the freedom to make their own health care choices.

  88. #88 |  Deoxy | 

    And I don’t know a single Atheist who would ever state their opinion as agreeing with your strawman that they “believe that there is no God.”

    Then you don’t know any atheists at all – you know agnostics. By definition, atheists believe there is no god.

    Atheism is a religion the way bald is a hair color.

    Close – let me fix it for you: Atheism is a religion the way bald is a hair style – the choice of none.

    Check out any video game character builder for an example.

    But the real problem here is that insurance is no longer treated like insurance. Instead of paying low premiums for protection against unexpected events of high cost, people have come to expect that everything medical-related be given a discount.

    You are exactly right. Largely via government meddling, we have gotten to a point where “health insurance” means “health insurance and discount club”. In fact, you can even buy into “discount clubs” that don’t even have the insurance part at all.

    Insurance only works for occasional, exceptional events. If everyone uses it all the time, we’re just paying extra people to touch our money.

  89. #89 |  Deoxy | 

    “But the real problem here is that insurance is no longer treated like insurance. Instead of paying low premiums for protection against unexpected events of high cost, people have come to expect that everything medical-related be given a discount.”

    Because, believe it or not, those big catastrophic health emergencies occur more frequently when regular preventative care isn’t taken. As a result, covering only such catastrophic events and not preventive care is a recipe for incredibly high insurance premiums as people with insurance blow past regular checkups and physicals that could catch a problem that could be easily managed with medication before it becomes necessary to need a big expensive surgery because you let your condition go untreated for far too long.

    Having a “catastrophic” insurance plan and paying for the preventative care yourself is cheaper for everyone, including you (unless your insurance costs are completely covered or EXTREMELY subsidized by someone else).

    Seriously, the cost of that preventative care is less than the extra cost of the plan that covers it.

    Having “insurance” you use all the time is just paying extra people to touch your money.

  90. #90 |  Lefty | 

    I know plenty of liberals, myself included, who would be strongly in favor of letting the pill be OTC. It’s a great idea.

  91. #91 |  Lefty | 

    The religious have a very hard time imagining a life without it. To them atheism is a religion with it’s own dogma, priests etc.. Complete bs.

    Xians don’t believe in Zeus. Is that disbelief itself a religion? Of course not. My disbelief in the xian god isn’t a religion either.

  92. #92 |  Lefty | 

    And agnosticism and atheism aren’t mutually exclusive. They are answers to two very different questions. If asked “do you believe in god?” i’d say no (atheism). If asked “do you believe there is a god?” i’d have to say I don’t know, probably not. At least not without evidence and what evidence could there possibly be for a supernatural event/being. So probably not. At least not any more than I believe in leprechauns or unicorns.

  93. #93 |  Elliot | 

    Deoxy (#88):Then you don’t know any atheists at all – you know agnostics. By definition, atheists believe there is no god.

    False. That is a common misconception. Atheists are people who are not theists. Agnostics are people who believe that there is no way to prove or disprove the existence of the divine. The two groups overlap. Most atheists are agnostic.

    Another way to look at it is that the two terms are the answer to two separate questions:

    (1) Is it possible for human beings to prove or disprove the existence of the divine? (“No,” says the agnostic.)
    (2) Do you believe in the divine? (“No,” says the atheist.)

    There is “positive atheism” and “strong atheism” in which one asserts that there is no god. Those terms are a bit esoteric. Richard Dawkins presents the issue as a “spectrum of theistic probability”, though I think that loses some information, and I prefer to separate the answers to the two questions I previously mentioned. I believe I first saw Penn Jillette offer those in an interview. On twitter, I sent him the link to the “spectrum of theistic probability” and he responded in classic Penn fashion.

    So, if I say that, on the question of a god or gods, I am agnostic, it doesn’t mean that I am at 4 on the spectrum. I consider the notion of a god to on par with the idea that there is an invisible dragon in my garage, for which there is an endless list of excuses why I cannot detect it. For me to say I am agnostic about invisible dragons would not mean that I consider their existence a 50/50 proposition, or that I would appeal to people to show great respect to the belief in these dragons.

    I say there are no gods and there are no invisible dragons, though as matter of pedantic thoroughness, I’ll allow that, technically, I cannot be 100% certain that such things don’t exist. I simply live my life on the safe assumption they don’t.

    Atheism is a religion the way bald is a hair style – the choice of none.

    That’s not the definition of “religion”. While there are some religions, like Buddhism, for which the followers may call themselves “atheist”, for the most part, atheists are irreligious.

    Choosing not to be religious is not choosing a religion, any more than choosing to not care about hockey makes me a fan of the null hockey team (for those who must divide every person into a fan of one team or another).

    Check out any video game character builder for an example.

    That is not the basis for an argument. Video game programmers are not the source for answers to these questions.

Leave a Reply