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What Profoundly Retarded Means

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Originally featured on the Mike Malloy Radio show and posted at Superbeans.com.

by Bob Alexander

In 1992 I read a feature in our local Sunday paper called, “Will You Adopt This Child?” That week’s article profiled a four year old boy who was blind, could feed himself, use the bathroom, brush his teeth and put his clothes on. The article went on to say the little boy was classified as being “Profoundly Retarded.”

After reading the piece I thought, “Now there’s a tough sell.” Here’s a little kid who is going to need a lot of care … forever. I also thought about my own son. He was nine years old at the time and I wished he was as accomplished as the little kid in the article. He has Cerebral Palsy and though he could feed himself, he still needed help doing everything else.

It was the first time I’d come across the phrase “Profoundly Retarded.” It made me wonder how my son would be classified since he couldn’t do 75% of what the little boy in the article could. It took a long time but eventually my son made it to the level of the child I had read about so many years before. He lives in a group home now that provides 24-hour supervised residential care. He is forever … 3 years old.

I‘m not trying to inject an element of pathos here … I just want to make it clear that I know what the term “Profoundly Retarded” means.

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We’ve become our own predators….

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by Jason Miller

Our dominant culture, in which I fully admit to participating (despite my significant efforts to minimize my involvement) is wreaking havoc on this “pale blue dot” we call Earth. Climate change, scarce and tainted water, devastating levels of toxins in the environment, rampant consumerism that generates truckloads of fetid refuse per second, massive deforestation, and the Sixth Extinction[1] implicate humanity, and our socioeconomic/cultural construct we euphemistically call “civilization,” as nothing short of the living embodiment of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

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Anger - A Rant (foul language warning)

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Written by Prophet 451.  Posted with permission of the author.

Dear Republicans,

Fuck you. No, I'm not joking. I'm sick of this bullshit.

I'm sick of the way you've corrupted the public discourse - the way you've made it acceptable to hurl any insult you like at public officials - the way you blame us for the current atmosphere of hatred by accusing us of starting it with hating Bush. Like Bush didn't come on the heels of eight years of your tireless efforts to destroy Clinton by any means necessary, like Bush didn't give us good reason to complain. A couple of posters on a website compared Bush to Hitler and you've used it as free license to compare Obama to Hitler 24/7 and I'm sick of your hypocrisy, where it's acceptable to say shit about Obama that you would have had an apoplectic fit (and did) if anything remotely similar had been said about your guys. Keith Olbermann calls Cheney a fascist when he was actually using fascist tactics and you think that gives you the freedom to call Obama a fascist, socialist, Marxist constantly for no reason at all. Fuck you and your bullshit false equivalence.

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Fuck Compassion: We whack ’em and stack ’em!

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Article by Jason Miller originally posted at Thomas Paine's Corner.

6/20/09

Despite pleas to save the animals, Johnson County officials will employ sharpshooters and bow hunters to solve the problem of too many deer in Shawnee Mission Park.

–The Kansas City Star, June 17, 2009

Daniel Whitesel says he is forced to traverse a “literal minefield of deer poop” when he plays golf nearby.

He can watch from his home office as whitetail deer devastate his flowers and shrubs. “They walk down the street like taxpayers,” he said.

–The Kansas City Star, February 5, 2009

They’ve opted for the “whack ’em and stack ’em” approach, to quote that great conservationist Ted Nugent.

–Mike Hendricks, columnist for the Kansas City Star, June 11, 2009

Johnson Co. To Cull Park’s Deer Herd: Sharpshooters, Bow Hunters To Reduce Deer Population In Shawnee Mission Park

LENEXA, Kan.
— Johnson County officials have approved an answer to the deer dilemma in Shawnee Mission Park.

The county will hire sharpshooters and bow hunters to take care of the population problem.

After a hearing Wednesday that drew more than 100 people, the board voted to use hunters to reduce the park herd from about 200 deer per square mile to 50.

–Kansas City News, KCTV 5, June 18, 2009

My letter to the Johnson County Board of Park and Recreation Commissioners dated 5/25/09:


All,

As a home/vehicle-owning (hence tax-paying) resident of Johnson County and as a relentless activist for nonhuman animals, I am writing to express my strong objection to the use of any lethal methods to manage the deer population in Shawnee Mission Park. I am a vegan animal liberationist, so I am ardently opposed to humans exploiting, torturing or intentionally killing other animals.

Unfortunately, I missed the May 13 Johnson County Park and Recreation District meeting in which other county residents voiced their opinions about ways to cope with the deer overpopulation. I did find what appears to be a decent summary of the potential solutions discussed– at this link:

www.shawneedispatch.com/news/2009/may/14/residents-air-thoughts-deer-overpopulation-meeting/

Here is a summary of my position:

1. The deer didn’t ask to have their habitat encroached upon and nearly eradicated by human development, thus it is morally reprehensible for us to kill them to “cull their population” because they represent a “problem” to us.

2. Bunselmeyer, a resident quoted in the Shawnee Dispatch article linked above, exemplifies the ugly speciesist side of this debate– with his arrogant portrayal of deer as “teddy bears” when they were cute and distant and as “mosquitoes” now that they are “tearing up his yard, and as he notices the deer are weak and starving.” My devout belief that other sentient beings have the basic rights to live free from torture, exploitation, subjugation, and murder aside, how about just a little bit of compassion? I have a nice-sized back yard and a privacy fence. Bring a couple of the deer to my place and I’ll feed them and let them tear up my yard.

3. We humans have no right to murder those deer for any reason, let alone to solve an over-population problem that we caused by radically altering their ecosystem (i.e. shrinking it and removing natural predators).

4. I vehemently object to sharp-shooting or bow hunting in Shawnee Mission Park–for the sake of the deer, for human safety, and because, as the residents who spoke against killing the deer at your meeting stated, it would ruin the atmosphere of the park. As Alta Lantz, one of the deer defenders who spoke on the 13th, opined, “The real nuisance animals I think are the people. There just seems to be a growing disregard for animals.”

5. Why was professional bow-hunter R.J. Jubber (the key word being “professional” here–meaning he has a vested financial interest in murdering animals) allowed to voice his view when he is from Eudora, which is outside of Johnson County? I’ll bet “R.J.” is itching to get a crack at the deer in Shawnee Mission Park. A heavily over-populated herd in a relatively small area that has never been hunted-fish in a barrel, eh Jubber? I also note in the KC Star article about the meeting (http://www.kansascity.com/637/story/1196224.html) that Jubber said, “We want to see most of the deer killed in the park, but not all the deer.”

Again, as a non-resident, who the hell is he to influence what happens in Shawnee Mission Park in any way? Let him try to convince Douglas County officials to allow him to slaughter the deer in their county. Jubber actually manages to make Bunselmeyer appear humane.

6. I want to know the name of the representative of the city of Lenexa who stated that the city in which I reside wants to bring sharp-shooters into Shawnee Mission Park. Aside from my previously stated serious objection to killing the deer, what about the safety of people visiting the park or those who live nearby? Sounds pretty reckless to me. I have serious concerns about the competence of this city employee and want to know if this is truly the desire of the “authorities” in my city.

7. To preserve the best interests of both humans and other animals, it is morally imperative that we address the deer overpopulation problem in Shawnee Mission Park through trapping and relocating and/or employing fertility control agents. According to the account I read of your meeting on May 13, these two options would be economically and pragmatically viable. The potential for a 30% mortality rate in conjunction with trapping and relocating concerns me, but saving 70% of the deer we remove would be far better than mowing down 100% with a barrage of arrows or a hail of bullets.

8. Aside from providing my share of the cost via my taxes, I’d be more than happy to volunteer my time and efforts to assist in any way I could with the trapping and relocating and/or deploying the fertility control agents.

Please read, consider and reply to my questions and comments. I am sending them to you as a concerned citizen and tax-payer; an animal rights activist; a writer and publisher of sociopolitical commentary, critiques, polemics, and philosophy; and as a press officer.

Sincerely,

Jason Miller

Senior Editor and Founder of Thomas Paine’s Corner

FULL ARTICLE HERE....

The Value of a Pale Blue Dot

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Original article posted at ThomasPainesCorner.

by Peter Singer

5/26/09

The eighteenth-century German philosopher Immanuel Kant wrote: “Two things fill the heart with ever renewed and increasing awe and reverence, the more often and more steadily we meditate upon them: the starry firmament above and the moral law within.”

This year, the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s first use of a telescope, has been declared the International Year of Astronomy, so this seems a good time to ponder Kant’s first source of “awe and reverence.” Indeed, the goal of the commemoration – to help the world’s citizens “rediscover their place in the universe” – now has the incidental benefit of distracting us from nasty things nearer to home, like swine flu and the global financial crisis.

What does astronomy tell us about “the starry firmament above”?

By expanding our grasp of the vastness of the universe, science has, if anything, increased the awe and reverence we feel when we look up on a starry night (assuming, that is, that we have got far enough away from air pollution and excessive street lighting to see the stars properly). But, at the same time, our greater knowledge surely forces us to acknowledge that our place in the universe is not particularly significant.

In his essay “Dreams and Facts,” the philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote that our entire Milky Way galaxy is a tiny fragment of the universe, and within this fragment our solar system is “an infinitesimal speck,” and within this speck “our planet is a microscopic dot.”

Today, we don’t need to rely on such verbal descriptions of our planet’s insignificance against the background of our galaxy. The astronomer Carl Sagan suggested that the Voyager space probe capture an image of earth as it reached the outer reaches of our solar system. It did so, in 1990, and Earth shows up in a grainy image as a pale blue dot. If you go to YouTube and search for “Carl Sagan – Pale Blue Dot,” you can see it, and hear Sagan himself telling us that we must cherish our world because everything humans have ever valued exists only on that pale blue dot.

That is a moving experience, but what should we learn from it?

Russell sometimes wrote as if the fact that we are a mere speck in a vast universe showed that we don’t really matter all that much: “On this dot, tiny lumps of impure carbon and water, of complicated structure, with somewhat unusual physical and chemical properties, crawl about for a few years, until they are dissolved again into the elements of which they are compounded.”

But no such nihilistic view of our existence follows from the size of our planetary home, and Russell himself was no nihilist. He thought that it was important to confront the fact of our insignificant place in the universe, because he did not want us to live under the illusory comfort of a belief that somehow the world had been created for our sake, and that we are under the benevolent care of an all-powerful creator. “Dreams and Facts” concludes with these stirring words: “No man is liberated from fear who dare not see his place in the world as it is; no man can achieve the greatness of which he is capable until he has allowed himself to see his own littleness.”

After World War II, when the world was divided into nuclear-armed camps threatening each other with mutual destruction, Russell did not take the view that our insignificance, when considered against the vastness of the universe, meant that the end of life on Earth did not matter. On the contrary, he made nuclear disarmament the chief focus of his political activity for the remainder of his life.

Sagan took a similar view. While seeing the Earth as a whole diminishes the importance of things like national boundaries that divide us, he said, it also “underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.” Al Gore used the “pale blue dot” image at the end of his film, An Inconvenient Truth, suggesting that if we wreck this planet, we have nowhere else to go.

That’s probably true, even though scientists are now discovering other planets outside our solar system. Perhaps one day we will find that we are not the only intelligent beings in the universe, and perhaps we will be able to discuss issues of interspecies ethics with such beings.

This brings us back to Kant’s other object of reverence and awe, the moral law within. What would beings with a completely different evolutionary origin from us – perhaps not even carbon-based life forms – think of our moral law?

© 2009 Project Syndicate

Peter Singer is a professor of bioethics at Princeton University. His 1975 book Animal Liberation was a touchstone for the animal rights movement. A selection of his many books include: Practical Ethics, How Are We To Live? Ethics in an Age of Self-Interest, One World: The Ethics of Globalization, The Ethics of What We Eat: Why Food Choice Matters, and The President of Good and Evil: Questioning The Ethics of George W. Bush. Singer’s most recent book, The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty, is now available.

So who are the terrorists here?

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Original article posted at ThomasPainesCorner.

Julie Leyva recently submitted some questions to the North American Animal Liberation Press Office. Jason Miller wrote the reply.

5/26/09

What is your occupation and for how long?

There are four of us serving as press officers for NAALPO:

Jerry Vlasak is a board certified trauma surgeon, a former vivisector, and a seasoned animal liberation activist who speaks, writes and debates on behalf of nonhuman animals. Jerry co-founded NAALPO and has been a board member of Sea Shepherd and the spokesman for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

Camille Hankins has over 20 years of corporate marketing and management experience; co-founded Win Animal Rights (WAR), a group dedicated to shutting down Huntingdon Life Sciences, in 2004; founded the New York Animal Liberation Front Supporters in 2003; and is heavily involved in outreach to educate the public about the underground animal liberation movement.

Lin Bingham works as a writer and graphic designer. He is a vehement advocate of total liberation, including humans, nonhuman animals and the Earth. He specializes in “propaganda and agitation” and is willing and available to speak anytime one or more persons are willing to listen.

Jason Miller started with NAALPO about two months ago and is the newest press officer. I have worked as a supervisor in a call center for nine years where I’ve cultivated respectable problem-solving, conflict resolution, and communication skills. An ardent and seasoned animal liberation activist, I also founded the notoriously radical blog, Thomas Paine’s Corner, in 2004. TPC has become a popular site for activists to go for education and inspiration and to interact via comment threads. Like Lin, I too am a writer who specializes in “propaganda and agitation.”

What is the Animal Liberation Front all about?

I’ll begin with NAALPO’s disclaimer:

Disclaimer: The Animal Liberation Press Officers do not engage in illegal activities, nor do they know any individuals who do. Neither does this website or the Press Office intend to encourage illegal actions. Rather, the Press Office receives and posts communiques from anonymous parties and provides comment to the media.

Since there isn’t a way to contact individuals working underground (their identity is not known to anyone in the aboveground movement), the use of communiques is one way the underground communicates with the public at large. Communiques can be sent directly to anyone including the press, underground support groups, aboveground animal rights groups, etc.

Because the individuals who engage in underground actions cannot reveal their identities to anyone, a North American Animal Liberation Press Office has been created to try to answer some of the questions as to why these actions may have been carried out, and to place the actions in a historical and philosophical context. Since we do not engage in illegal activities ourselves, we do not know the details of these actions, but we can try to the best of our ability to give you a better understanding of why a particular action may have been carried out.

Now, about the ALF:

The Animal Liberation Front is a grass-root, underground, militant direct action group that frees nonhuman animals from laboratories, fur farms, factory farms and other places in which they are imprisoned and tortured. Besides rescues, the ALF also engages in the destruction of equipment and property used in the oppression and exploitation of other animals.

Rooted in the UK’s hunt saboteur movement in the mid-1970s, the ALF is anarchist in structure, meaning there is no conventional leadership or central organization. Anyone who is a vegan and commits an act of sabotage against animal exploiters or frees other animals (while taking the necessary precautions to avoid taking a human life) can rightfully consider themselves a member of the ALF.

In the tradition of the Underground Railroad, John Brown, and the Jewish anti-Nazi resistance, the courageous members of the ALF are freedom fighters, fighting for those who cannot fight for themselves.

And they have been effective, as evidenced by the fact that they’ve cost the animal exploitation complex hundreds of millions of dollars since their inception and by our corporatist government’s foaming-at-the-mouth response to their actions. The FBI has labeled the freedom fighters of the ALF, who are engaged in extensional self-defense of nonhuman animals—sentient beings whom are being holocausted at the rate of billions per year— the “number one domestic terrorist threat.” So who are the terrorists here? Animal-defending members of the ALF or ruthless animal-slaughtering corporations and their government protectors?

Why do scientists test on animals?

There are four principal reasons that scientists continue to test on nonhuman animals, despite the availability of other means of conducting research and testing. These include:

—Money: Like most aspects of the pernicious socioeconomic paradigm of capitalism, the number one driving force behind vivisection is money. Vivisection (nonhuman animal testing) is big business for the companies that supply nonhuman animal research subjects (by capturing them or by breeding them in captivity); manufacture and supply cages, food, lab equipment and other accessories; and that do the actual research and testing. Researchers (vivisectors) who work for public institutions (like universities) and perform vivisection, can obtain federal grant money much more readily than those who don’t do animal testing. Institutions and universities have also grown dependent on the large grants they receive for vivisection.

–Careerism: Because grant money is readily available and because institutions rely so heavily on that grant money, researchers who pursue nonhuman animal advance their careers much more readily than those who don’t. Also, in the “publish or perish” environment of academia, employing the widely accepted practice of vivisection greatly enhances a researcher’s chances of getting published.

—Inertia: Nonhuman animal testing is a practice dating back to the nineteenth century. While an immediate conversion to other means of research and testing may be unrealistic, there are many viable avenues scientists could pursue to eventually eliminate the abjectly immoral practice of torturing nonhuman animals in the interest of “science.” However, as is the case in most instances, there is a tremendous amount of resistance to radically changing the status quo. Vivisection has been the prevailing method of drug, procedure, and product testing for over a century and as new scientists are educated and trained, they are indoctrinated to believe that animal testing is both necessary and morally acceptable. Vivisection has become dogma. Therefore convincing scientists to embrace other means of research will be no easy task.

–Corporate cowardice: Corporations continue to employ nonhuman animal testing on their products to shield themselves from tort liability. If a human consumer of their products is harmed, injured, or killed, a corporation hides behind the defense that it tested the product on nonhuman animals and “determined it was safe.” Also, the FDA requires pharmaceutical manufacturers to rigorously test their drugs on other animals before beginning human clinical trials. Thus as is usually the case, the corporate-state complex sacrifices life to protect property and profit.

If we do not test on animals then what should we test on?

There are a host of research methods and technologies, both extant and developing, that do not involve vivisection and which have proven to be effective or potentially effective. These include but are not limited to: clinical and epidemiological studies (which revealed the cause and effect relationship between smoking and lung cancer after years of animal testing did not); human autopsies, biopsies, and post-mortem studies; post-marketing studies of drugs and other products; imaging scans (that have produced significant anatomical and physiological discoveries); in vitro and tissue culture tests; computer models; biochips containing human enzymes and cells, which can be used to predict how a human body will respond to a drug; specific types of human cells cultivated from embryonic stem cells; and tissue models to replicate human organs. While it is true that there is no ideal means of testing new drugs, medical procedures, foods, or consumer goods, vivisection is a barbaric practice that needs to end on moral grounds and can, from a pragmatic standpoint, be replaced by equally efficacious techniques.

Who/what do companies that do not test on animals test on?

I covered this in my answer to number four. Your question raises a valid point though. The fact that there are companies that do not employ animal testing (http://search.caringconsumer.com/ offers a search feature which identifies companies that DO and companies that DO NOT test on other animals) provides further evidence that vivisection is an unnecessary and malevolent practice that can and should end.

Is there anything out on the market that has been tested on animals that is safe for humans?

Sure, there are plenty of products which have been tested on other animals that have proven to be safe for humans. However, in addition to the fact that nonhuman animals feel pain and experience suffering like humans, thus making vivisection abjectly immoral, there are vast physiological, genetic and behavioral differences between humans and other animals, making nonhuman animal testing very unreliable in terms of predicting the effect a product will have on people. Thus there are also many products that were tested on nonhuman animals which have proven to be highly detrimental or lethal to humans. For instance, adverse prescription drug reactions are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.

What are alternatives to animal testing?

Please see my response to question 4. Again, let me emphasize that the transition from the prevailing paradigm of vivisection will not be simple, and may not happen immediately, but it is morally imperative that we end the torment and murder of other animals for money, career advancement, those who fear change, and corporate protection from lawsuits.

Kafka for Dummies: the Absurd Debate over Torture!

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Here we go again.  After eight horrific years of lies and deceit and war and death, the American public once again has fallen into the abyss of self delusion.  Tragically, just as we near the brink of reversal, we are about to abdicate any claim whatsoever to respect or honor anywhere.  

America consistently proclaims itself a nation of laws where justice is blind to privilege or class. And yet, as the world watches in disbelief, this country has become inextricably mired in non-stop debates that defy reason.  It is absolutely insane to discuss the possibility that a crime has some Machiavellian validity simply because it ‘works.’ And it is equally incredulous to engage in discussions about the propriety of prosecuting those who have openly admitted their heinous actions.

Something is terribly wrong with this picture.

Here the facts.  Check them out.  They’re clear; they’re relatively simple to follow. Do the math.

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