Monday, December 14, 2009

You can't escape it, part III

This morning I was reading through the print version of the Sunday New York Times (yes, we actually get a physical newspaper -- just the Sunday NYT though, but yeah) and I was reading a front page article about custody controversies arising from surrogates. It's a very tricky issue and I'm not sure just how I feel. Ideally people would adopt anyway, but unfortunately that is not an option for many people (gay, not wishing to get married, too old, etc.), and in addition I don't feel comfortable passing judgment on those incapable of having their own biological offspring. I confess that it was fairly important to me -- for completely irrational reasons, of course, but I'm human after all -- to have a biological child, and while I would like to think that if I had proven incapable of doing so that I would be accepting of it, I can't say that for certain.

The anecdote they lead off with is about a surrogate who changed her mind after discovering the adoptive mother had suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, although it had been under control with medication for the better part of eight years. Because
Michigan law is hostile to surrogacy, basically all she had to do was snap her fingers (litigiously speaking) and she regained custody.

Without commenting on the specifics of the story, this evoked an audible groan from me:

“My husband and I would not do something like this unless we thought it was given to us to do,” Ms Baker said. “My belief is that God placed this on my heart for a reason.”

In the fall of 2007, Ms. Baker advertised in saying she would carry a baby for a Christian couple.

Argh. You know, people's beliefs are their business and stuff, but putting this caveat on it being a Christian couple is messed up. Could you imagine if someone posted that they would only carry a baby for an atheist couple?!? Oh my god, how much of an asshole move would that be...

It perhaps belittles the situation, but I can't help but say that maybe the adoptive mother should have known that this woman was susceptible to placing stupid and arbitrary criteria and who she was willing to be a surrogate for.

Anyway, even though the article was on the front page, it was continued much further back, in the National section.1 I looked to the bottom of that page from the national section, and I see an article covering the absurd attempt to bar an atheist city councilman from taking office based on a clause in the North Carolina constitution that has been explicitly nullified by Supreme Court precedent. Or in other words, yet another article about religion messing up the whole works.

So I go to put back the National section, and what's on the front page of that, but an article about California PR companies getting rich making anti-gay propaganda for electoral battles in other states. Apparently a couple of specific companies -- one of them ironically in San Fransisco -- have become the go-to agencies for the badly-misnamed National Organization for Marriage's dishonest advertising. Yes, another article reflecting the negative influence of religion in our daily lives -- even in the daily lives of the non-religious.

You really can't escape it. When people say that atheists should just leave people alone to their personal beliefs, I say, "Yes! Please!" This is exactly what we want. I don't need to convince every single person to abandon their irrational beliefs -- I mean, at the top of this very post, I admitted to a highly irrational desire on my own part. We are humans, and irrationality is part of our existence, and I am totally okay with that as long as we keep it in check. That means that it stays mostly a private thing, and that we keep rationality firmly in the driver's seat when it comes to public policy.

And it also means that people who don't keep it mostly a private thing are subject to whatever ridicule or disdain they bring on themselves. That's how it works. If you want to shout your craziness from the rooftops, I'm going to shout back, "You're crazy!"

1New York Times does this thing where the main section and International section are numbered one through twenty-something, and then the National and Local sections pick it back up with the same numbering, so you can actually have an article continued in a different section. Kind of annoying...

Update: Immediately after posting this, I went poking around and started reading a funny article about bad video games given as gifts by non-gamers... and what do I see at the bottom of the page?

I'll transcribe the oldest featured comment here, since you can't read it without clicking for the larger version:
Regardless of the pagan origins of the season, christians celebrate Christ's birth on this day and I have actually studied this too because of a report I was doing.

Being christian, my family and my church celebrate it because of it's religious significance, but it doesn't mean it's wrong to enjoy other aspects of it. I have no problems with secularists celebrating this holiday too, if it puts a little kindness in everyone's hearts then that isn't a bad thing.

Sure, the guy is apparently getting smacked down, but... why oh why the need to bring up your Christ bullshit on an article that has absolutely nothing to do with that at all?!?

You truly can't escape it.

No comments:

Post a Comment