Our rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness
can only be secured by a state strictly separated from religion

29 October 2011

Discussions of Atheism and Transgender in Sunday's Webcast

By Diana Hsieh

In Sunday's live Rationally Selfish Webcast, I'll be answering two questions that might be of particular interest. The questions are:

Which bathroom should a pre-operative transgendered person use? The brutal attack at McDonald's on a transgendered person in April 2011 was apparently started because that person used the ladies restroom, which was already occupied by a 14 year old. Was the transgendered person wrong to use that restroom?
And:
How much should I tell my parents about my beliefs, given that I'm still financially dependent on them? I'm in college, and if I told my parents that I'm an atheist, they'd probably stop paying my tuition. Should I tell them now, or wait until I'm done with college?
Go to www.RationallySelfish.com on Sunday at 8 am PT / 9 am MT / 10 am CT / 11 am ET to watch me answer these questions live and join in the text chat.

Here's the full announcement for this week's webcast:

For Sunday's live Rationally Selfish Webcast, I'll answer questions on the purpose of bankruptcy law, bathrooms for the transgendered in transition, private versus state prisons, revealing atheism to religious parents, and more. Come join the discussion!
  • What: Live Webcast on Practical Ethics

  • Who: Diana Hsieh (Ph.D, Philosophy) and Greg Perkins

  • When: Sunday, 30 October 2011 at 8 am PT / 9 am MT / 10 am CT / 11 am ET

  • Where: www.RationallySelfish.com
Here are this week's questions:
  • Question 1: The Purpose of Bankruptcy Law: What is the proper purpose of bankruptcy laws? When should a person renegotiate his debt with lenders, if ever? Should a person be able to wipe his debt clean by going into bankruptcy? In your July 10, 2011 webcast discussion of strategic default on mortgages, you suggested that a person shouldn't be able to do that, but shouldn't lenders be responsible for who they lend money to?

  • Question 2: Bathrooms for the Transgendered in Transition: Which bathroom should a pre-operative transgendered person use? The brutal attack at McDonald's on a transgendered person in April 2011 was apparently started because that person used the ladies restroom, which was already occupied by a 14 year old. Was the transgendered person wrong to use that restroom?

  • Question 3: Private Versus State Prisons: Should prisons be run by the state or private companies? After reading this Huffington Post article, I wonder whether prisons should be run by private companies or the state. I tend to think private is almost always better than anything state-run, but the current system of private prisons seems to be corrupt at best. More generally, what would a prison system look like in a free society?

  • Question 4: Revealing Atheism to Religious Parents: How much should I tell my parents about my beliefs, given that I'm still financially dependent on them? I'm in college, and if I told my parents that I'm an atheist, they'd probably stop paying my tuition. Should I tell them now, or wait until I'm done with college?
After that, we'll do a round of totally impromptu "Rapid Fire Questions."

If you can't attend the live webcast, you can listen later to the audio-only podcasts. Visit NoodleCast to listen to past episodes or subscribe to the podcast feed. Also, you can submit your questions, as well as vote on your favorite questions from the ongoing queue.

I hope to see you on Sunday morning!

Read more...

27 October 2011

Video: State Involvement in Marriage

By Diana Hsieh

In Sunday's Rationally Selfish Webcast, I discussed whether and how the state should be involved in marriage -- a crucial question for the debates about gay marriage. The question was:

Should the state be involved in marriage contracts? Many people say that gay marriage shouldn't be a political issue, because the state shouldn't be involved in defining marriage at all. Is that right? Why or why not?
My view, in brief:
We ought to separate politics and marriage, by treating marriage like any other contract. The state has a limited but crucial role to play in marriage to ensure that marriage contracts are objective, voluntary, and enforced. However, the state should not play social engineer by deciding who can get married or the terms of that marriage.
Here's the video of my answer:
If you enjoy the video, please "like" it on YouTube and share it with friends in e-mail and social media! You can also throw a bit of extra love in our tip jar.

All my webcast and other videos can be found on my YouTube channel.

Read more...

25 October 2011

What If God Disappeared?

By Diana Hsieh

What If God Disappeared?:


(Yes, it's a parody!)

Read more...

21 October 2011

Sunday's Webcast: State Involvement in Marriage

By Diana Hsieh

In Sunday's live Rationally Selfish Webcast, I'll be answering a question on state involvement in marriage that's often central to the debates about gay marriage. The question is:

Should the state be involved in marriage contracts? Many people say that gay marriage shouldn't be a political issue, because the state shouldn't be involved in defining marriage at all. Is that right? Why or why not?
Go to www.RationallySelfish.com on Sunday at 8 am PT / 9 am MT / 10 am CT / 11 am ET to watch me answer this question live and join in the text chat.

Here's the full announcement for this week's webcast:

For Sunday's live Rationally Selfish Webcast, I'll answer questions on state involvement in marriage, last names in marriage, marrying someone for a Green Card, being too much crazy in love, and more. Come join the discussion!
Here are this week's questions:
  • Question 1: State Involvement in Marriage: Should the state be involved in marriage contracts? Many people say that gay marriage shouldn't be a political issue, because the state shouldn't be involved in defining marriage at all. Is that right? Why or why not?

  • Question 2: Last Names in Marriage: Should women adopt the last names of their husbands? In today's culture, some newly-married women adopt the family name of their husbands. Some keep their own last name. Some hyphenate their names together. Some use their maiden name for work, but their married name in their personal life. Some couples adopt a wholly new name for themselves. What do you think of these various options? Should the possibility of divorce affect a woman's decision? Should the husband have a say in the woman's decision? Should men be more willing to change their own last name to that of their new wife?

  • Question 3: Marrying Someone for a Green Card: Is it moral to marry someone just to obtain a green card? Given the difficulties of immigrating to the United States, is it immoral to circumvent those bad laws by marrying someone solely to obtain a green card? Would it matter if the person were a good friend?

  • Question 4: Being Too Much Crazy in Love: Is it irrational to be "crazy in love" with your boyfriend or girlfriend -- such as wanting to keep an old shirt and other discarded items? Does it matter whether the relationship is in an early or later stage?
After that, we'll do a round of totally impromptu "Rapid Fire Questions."

If you can't attend the live webcast, you can listen later to the audio-only podcasts. Visit NoodleCast to listen to past episodes or subscribe to the podcast feed. Also, you can submit your questions, as well as vote on your favorite questions from the ongoing queue.

I hope to see you on Sunday morning!

Read more...

20 October 2011

Reason for Hope

By Diana Hsieh

If you ever think that American culture and politics is relentlessly sliding into the abyss, just consider the ginormous strides made by two groups over the past decade -- gun enthusiasts and gays. Both are simply remarkable examples of good causes made real by successful activism.

I was surprised to be reminded -- in this article about the life and death of early gay activist Frank Kameny -- that President Clinton signed an executive order allowing gays to obtain security clearances... in 1995. That's only 16 years ago. That seems like the Dark Ages! In 2021, I bet I'll be saying, "Wow, I just can't believe that gays and lesbians were only permitted to openly serve in the military for the first time ten years ago." Hopefully that will seem like a barbaric distant past too.

As for gun rights, just check out the spread of shall-issue concealed carry laws across American states from 1986 to the present in this animated map. Blood is running in the streets, and every city is like the Wild West now... oh wait, maybe not. (Surprise, surprise!)

Change for the better is possible... if enough people doggedly and openly pursue it.

Read more...

19 October 2011

Cartoon on Gay Marriage

By Diana Hsieh


More cartoons by Kevin Siers can be found here.

Read more...

14 October 2011

Michele Bachmann Sponsors Abortion Intimidation and Expense Bill

By Diana Hsieh

Here's yet more legislation seeking to prevent women from seeking to terminate unwanted pregnancies, as is their right. This time, it's courtesy of GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann:

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann has introduced legislation to require that abortion providers make the heartbeat of the unborn child visible and audible to its mother as part of her informed consent. Bachmann issued the following statement about her bill:

"A pregnant woman who enters an abortion clinic is faced with a decision that will forever change two lives. That's why she must have the very best information with which to make that decision. The 'Heartbeat Informed Consent Act' would require that abortion providers make the unborn child's heartbeat visible through ultrasound, describe the cardiac activity, and make the baby's heartbeat audible, if the child is old enough for it to be detectable. A study by Focus on the Family found that when women who were undecided about having an abortion were shown an ultrasound image of the baby, 78% chose life. An unborn baby's heartbeat can be detected as early as five weeks after conception and ultrasound technology is an amazing medical advance that provides a window for a pregnant woman to see her unborn child. My legislation will not only enable this technology to be better used to protect life, but also to ensure that a woman who is considering abortion is finally able to give full and informed consent."

The "Heartbeat Informed Consent Act" has been endorsed by: National Right to Life, Family Research Council, American's United for Life, Susan B. Anthony List, Heartbeat International, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, Ohio Right to Life and Wisconsin Right to Life.
A woman does not need to hear a heartbeat to give "full and informed consent" for an abortion any more than a person with a fractured arm needs to see his own x-rays before his arm is set. Such legislation, now all-too-common, is just a not-so-clever ploy to prevent some abortions by making them more difficult to obtain. Here, Ms. Bachmann is putting the squeeze on the poor and the emotionally vulnerable. Shame on her!

Read more...

11 October 2011

For Women, Slavery in Islam Begins with Dress

By Diana Hsieh

The Rise of Islam in Russia means that women are not safe unless covered from head to foot. Here's a tidbit:

[Some] women feel pressure to adopt Islamic dress code from within their own families. On a recent afternoon, two women fully veiled in black--"Aisha," 22, and her sister-in-law, "Fatima," 24--sat on the worn carpet in the corner of their poor house in the Derbent region. The girls, former students from Moscow and Volgograd universities, preferred to keep their real Russian names anonymous. A few years ago, the two girls fell in love with Salafi Muslim men on the Internet and moved to Dagestan to start families with their religious husbands. "My husband wanted me to cover myself," says Aisha. Only her eyes can be seen above her black veil. "I try not to walk outside any more. People point at me, call me a terrorist." Fatima and Aisha have little choice but to obey their husbands. They know too well that men have full public approval to decide appropriate behavior for their wives.

Two years ago, Moscow human rights groups tried, and failed, to get an official explanation for the deaths of seven women shot on a road in Chechnya. Kadyrov said the women had displayed "loose behavior" and speculated they were perhaps victims of "honor killings" by their own families. "We see a tendency for women to be forced into a humiliating social role in the North Caucases," says Tatyana Lokshina, a researcher with Human Rights Watch in Moscow. She said that courts traditionally have turned a blind eye to domestic violence in the region.
Go read the whole thing.

Read more...

06 October 2011

Video: Fear of Death

By Diana Hsieh

In Sunday's Rationally Selfish Webcast, I discussed fear of death. The question was:

Should death be feared? Why or why not? Also, why do most people fear death? How can a person overcome that, if ever?
Here's the video of my answer:
If you enjoy the video, please "like" it on YouTube and share it with friends in e-mail and social media! Also, all my webcast and other videos can be found on my YouTube channel.Video: Fear of Death

Read more...

05 October 2011

Muslim in St. Louis Attacked for Pro-Israel Poem

By Diana Hsieh

KMOV of St. Louis reports on horrifying violence against a Muslim supporter of Israel by other Muslims:

An on-line political magazine, FrontPage Magazine, published a photo of a man with a Star of David, carved into his back. News 4 interviewed the man, who says he was attacked on Compton Avenue, just south of downtown on August 14th.

Alaa Alsaegh says that two cars followed him as he drove on Compton. The drivers cut him off and Alsaegh says he pulled over. That's when two men got out of a car, armed with a handgun. They got into Alsaegh's car and attacked him with a knife.

Alsaegh showed us a photo that his friend took at the hospital. More than a month later, Alsaegh still has scars. News 4's camera captured the outline of the Star of David, visible on Alsaegh's back.

Alsaegh is a Muslim from Iraq. He says he recently posted a poem, online, expressing support for Jewish people in Israel. Alsaegh says that his attackers told him not to publish any more poems.

St Louis Police confirm that officers responded to a call for help around 10:45 a.m. on August 14th. The department referred News 4 to the local FBI office. Spokeswoman Rebecca Wu responded via email saying, "The FBI cannot comment".

Alsaegh says the authorities have been investigating the attack, but have not made any arrests.
Here's the story on Front Page Magazine, which include an image of the man's back.

Via The Gateway Pundit.

Read more...

04 October 2011

Letter on Gay Marriage

By Diana Hsieh

Amesh Adalja published an excellent letter in support of gay marriage in the Pittsburgh City Paper last week.

The sorry state of affairs with respect to same-sex marriage in this nation--and especially this state--should be an affront to all those who cherish the protections of individual rights. Marriage is a contractual relationship between consenting individuals that has a romantic character--the sex of the individuals is not essential to the concept. As former Vice President Dick Cheney stated, "people ought to be free to enter into any kind of union they wish." It is embarrassing that in the state that houses the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and the Gettysburg battlefield that same-sex couples have to travel outside this former citadel of liberty to exercise their inalienable right to marry. Those that advocate that the government forcibly prevent this voluntary contractual agreement between consenting parties are advocating--in essence--for the abrogation of their individual rights. Expanding the concept of marriage to same-sex relationships will not affect anyone but those that cling to religious proscriptions for behavior--a segment of the population whose theocratic position is irrelevant.

Amesh Adalja
Butler, PA
Emphasis added, because I could not agree more!

Read more...

Back to TOP