Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I Challenge Ralph Piss to a Debate

This open letter to Ralph Piss has also been posted as a comment on his blog (following his post "Sarah Palin Poem #232").


The history of conflict between us is well known to anyone who reads my blog or yours. As I'm sure you know (but won't admit), I have always welcomed our exchange of ideas, when it has qualified as such. I have done much to help you, despite the considerable ideological gap between us, and despite the countless vitriolic statements you have made about me.

In my view, though, you went too far recently, when you attributed statements to me which you know I never made, and then published an entire website devoted to insulting me and highlighting said statements, and then expanded upon your original lie. I have asked you to remove the fabricated "quote" from your blog and website. That was more than two weeks ago, and you have failed to comply.

As I see it, the only way for us to settle this is in person. On the Internet, it's far too easy to make extreme statements without ever having to look someone in the eye and be accountable. That is why I am challenging you to a debate. My suggestion is that we meet in a neutral location and hold a civil, unmoderated debate in two parts. The first part of the debate will concern our positions on the major social and political issues of the day, and the second part will focus on our personal conflicts. I hope you will accept my challenge, and I welcome your input regarding the venue, the format, and the rules.

Let's have this out once and for all, Ralph. It's the best thing for us. It's the best thing for America.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Lock Up Your Sons -- There's a Priest in Town

In yesterday's crooked -- and, as it turns out, successful -- attempts to send the health care bill back to the House, Senator Tom Coburn proposed an amendment which would prevent child molesters from receiving Viagra. But if Senator Coburn is really concerned about child molestation, and not just about thwarting progress in health care, perhaps he should argue for the abolition of the Catholic church.

Even without the recent revelations concerning Germany and Wisconsin, it's been clear for a long time that the Catholic church is, in part, a child sex ring. It permits and facilitates the rape of young children by grown men. And whenever this evil is discovered, the church has a long history of simply transferring pedophile priests to new locations, where they inevitably strike again. We now know that Reverend Lawrence C. Murphy of Wisconsin molested two hundred deaf children, and that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger -- in between his time in the Hitler Youth* and his career as the current Pope -- labored to protect not the children but their assailant. The New York Times reports that internal correspondence "shows that while church officials tussled over whether the priest should be dismissed, their highest priority was protecting the church from scandal."

Church officials tussled over whether the priest should be dismissed! It was, to them, an open question, whether a supposed role model who had violated two hundred children was still fit to be a Catholic priest. Not only that -- their decision, ultimately, was to let Father Murphy continue with his divinely-inspired investigation of the pre-pubescent penis. "I simply want to live out the time that I have left in the dignity of my priesthood," Murphy wrote to Ratzinger near the end of his life. "I ask your kind assistance in this matter."

Sure, no problem, Murph! Don't worry about it. We understand. In addition to the hilarious phrase "the dignity of my priesthood," Murphy's request for Ratzinger's "assistance" shows an astonishing lack of remorse. He wrote that he had "already repented," which I guess means he apologized to his imaginary friend. But not to the children he abused, not to their parents, not to their community, not to the large number of good people who trust and admire their religious leaders.

The tendency of Catholic clergymen to rape children is a logical result of religious arrogance and ignorance. The church thinks it's above the law. The church thinks that there is a God, and that they are closer to God than anyone else -- a dangerous delusion in an individual, but a catastrophic one in an institution. The church is accountable only to an entity which does not exist -- or, at best, whose existence can never be proven, who never says anything or rules on any case, who by his apparent absence allows humans to do whatever they can get away with in their own consciences. Father Murphy was clearly unburdened by conscience.

Moreover, the church keeps its clergymen in the unnatural and untenable state of sexual celibacy. In every priest there is a lifetime of repressed physical need, accompanied by a deep sense of moral infallibility. In addition to this, they are surrounded by young children who are under their care and control. Their proper job, which is itself highly suspect, is to indoctrinate these children in the ancient mythology and superstition of one of human history's most violent and repressive cults. It's a toxic situation, and it has wrought another kind of Crusade, against children.

The Catholic church, and its leader, must be prosecuted. If it were anything but a church, it would have been shut down long ago, and all those who have facilitated its crimes would be in prison, where they belong. Imagine for a moment that this legacy of systemic child abuse had taken place not in the Catholic church but in Chuck E. Cheese restaurants. Imagine that Chuck E. Cheese employees were constantly molesting their young customers, and that Chuck E. Cheese management was willfully protecting these employees from prosecution, transferring them to a different restaurant when the heat got too hot. There wouldn't be a Chuck E. Cheese left in America. And who would lead the crusade against them? Religious moralists.

* It's often considered bad form to point out that the Pope was a member of the Hitler Youth, and last year I took some heat for mentioning it on Daily Kos. The standard defense goes that when Ratzinger was growing up in Germany, participation in the Hitler Youth was compulsory. Uh-huh, whatever. It still seems to me that when selecting a world leader for all Catholics, the church might have gone to the trouble of finding someone who had never had any affiliation with the Nazis. Might have been nice.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Historic Reform Passes; What's Next?

So it turns out Barack Obama is a transformative president. It turns out positive change can be accomplished under Democratic leadership.

Those are the things we were beginning to doubt, but last night's historic vote allayed those doubts. The commotion surrounding the vote, and the debate leading up to it, also told us some things we already knew:

1) The bill isn't good enough. It's wonderful that it passed; it's a step in the right direction; and maybe it really is the best we could do. Its passage is at least as resounding a tribute to Speaker Pelosi as to President Obama. But Pelosi's declaration last night (via a quote from Ted Kennedy) that health care was no longer "unfinished business" was not quite true. Health care is still unfinished business, and it will remain so until America joins the rest of the civilized world in choosing a single-payer, non-profit system which eliminates insurance companies altogether. But we're closer to universal coverage now than we have ever been, and that's no small feat -- presidents have tried to do this, and failed, for over a century.

2) Bipartisanship is the wrong approach. In theory, it's fine. But when one of the two parties involved is today's Republican Party, there is just no point in trying to work with them. As Pelosi aptly pointed out last night, the bill is bipartisan, in that it includes (by her count) two hundred Republican amendments. Yet not a single Republican voted for it. Which makes us wonder what all those Republican amendments are doing in there. We could have passed this bill -- or even a better one -- a year ago, if Obama had spent less time trying to convince Republicans and more time trying to rally Democrats.

3) The Republican Party is a disgrace. The Republicans in Congress (one of whom shouted "baby killer" at Stupak on the House floor, another of whom declared that health care reform is "as worthless as a Confederate dollar after the Great War of Yankee Aggression") are indistinguishable from the ones outside the Capitol who hurled racial and anti-gay epithets as well as saliva at House members. Sorry, right-wingers, but when virtually nothing you say bears any resemblance to reality, rational people are going to reach the obvious conclusion that your hatred of Obama is racially motivated. The Senate bill passed by the House last night is in no way "a government takeover of health care." And I say this with disappointment, as someone who wants the government to take over health care. That's simply not what the government is doing, and anyone who says it is is either ignorant or lying. There's no way around that. So what's your real problem?

4) It's time for pro-choice Democrats to take aggressive action in support of abortion rights. The uncomfortable truth is that the current Democratic majority exists partly because political pragmatists of the Rahm Emanuel variety saw that the party could pick up seats by getting behind anti-choice Democrats like Bart Stupak. We made room for them in the tent, and now here they are. The unnecessary and humiliating executive order Stupak squeezed out of the White House -- essentially reiterating the 1977 Hyde Amendment -- should be seen as a breaking point for all who support women's rights. After the president signs the health care bill, congressional Democrats should get to work expanding the availability of abortion for all women who want or need it. An excellent step would be the repeal of the Hyde Amendment itself. Why shouldn't federal funds be used for abortion? Because some people don't like it? A lot of people don't like war. So let's either repeal the Hyde Amendment or pass something which prohibits taxpayer dollars from going to the military.

Celebrate the passage of the health care bill, but don't settle for it.


Disturbing video from the teabagger protest, courtesy of New Left Media:

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Ralph Piss Has Gone Too Far

I'm not going to spend any more time on this than it's worth, but there are some things I have to clear up. After all these years, I wasn't surprised at all that last week, shortly after the release of our latest web video, New Faces of 1492, our old friend Ralph Piss took to his blog to trash it. ("New Faces of 1492 Sucks" was his clever headline.) That didn't bother me a bit -- especially since he embedded it as well as condemned it.

However, looking back in his recent blog entries, I was struck by the fact that the three most recent were all about me, or about Nero Fiddled projects. In all of 2009, Ralph only posted one article -- a bitter rejection of Who is Ralph Piss?, a documentary by Morgan O. Horgan, which I co-produced last year. Of his four 2008 posts, the most recent was an extremely hostile review of our then-current theatrical production ("Life After Bush: A Disgusting Night of Liberal Lies"). I was compelled to leave a comment, pointing this out to Ralph, and over the next few days our conversation proceeded like this:

Clicking the link brought me to what is undoubtedly the worst-looking do-it-yourself website I have ever seen. It's typical of Piss, with lots of misplaced emphasis, simplistic thinking, and self-aggrandizement. It has a few eyesore-laden pages, stuffed with clip art, and a comments section (in which one "JOE THE PLUMMER [sic]" congratulates Ralph on being "a great American"). But the site consists mostly of material comparing me, unfavorably, with Ralph. None of this bothers me in the slightest -- not even the fact that the homepage shows my face exploding.

But what does bother me is that on one page of the website -- accessed by clicking a button which reads "Click here to see what Noah says" -- Ralph attributes to me a paragraph of text which I quite plainly never wrote or said. In this little masterpiece -- which is as full of unmistakable Ralph Piss flourishes as the rest of the site -- I supposedly declare that I "don't know anything about politics, and my comedy plays are NOT FUNNY!" (Sounds like me, doesn't it?)

This I do take seriously. Ralph can say whatever he wants about me, but he can't put words in my mouth. I would never do that to him. In comments left on both his Piss on America blog and this new website, I have refuted his claim that those are my words, and asked that he remove either the page or the inaccurate attribution. So now the ball is in Ralph Piss's court. He has been plugging this "Ralph Piss is Great, Noah Diamond is Stupid" website -- in comments left on this blog, as well as his own (where the current post is "Sarah Palin Poem #219").

I state unequivocally that I am not the author of the comments attributed to me on Ralph Piss's "A few words from Noah Diamond" web page.

Next time, on to important matters, I hope.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

World Premiere: New Faces of 1492

CREDITS: Nero Fiddled presents New Faces of 1492. Featuring the voices of Hugh Sinclair as Christopher Columbus, Matt Walters as Miguel Cuneo, Amanda Sisk as Queen Isabella, and Brian Hoffman as Washington Irving. Original song performed by Max Fleming. Written, designed, and narrated by Noah Diamond.