Peace and Satanism

Small victories totally make my day (mostly because big victories are few and far between, so I take my pleasure when I can), and since I had a small victory today, I thought I’d share with you fellow travelers.

A few months ago I was wearing a bandana decorated with peace signs while chatting with the 6 year old sister of one of my waitresses. These girls were raised strict Baptists, with very little opportunity for rational thought. This little girl informed me that I was wearing a “Santanic” symbol, and that it was an upside-down and broken cross. She was being told, by her mom, dad, and pastor that it had been designed by evil people who were trying to expand Satan’s evil influence over young people.

I was stunned. I certainly had no intention to ever donning the symbol of any imaginary friend, and certainly not an evil imaginary friend. I had never heard this before, but since I didn’t know the true story about how the peace symbol came about, the best I could say at the time was “I’m not evil, and I would never do evil things.”

This seemed to confuse her, and she immediately rushed off to tell her mom “Miss Brenda says that sign isn’t Satanic, mommy.” (She is such a little tattletale, did I mention that?) However, as soon as I got home that night I was off to the Google machine to find out what the deal was.

Lo and behold,  it turns out that the peace sign was originally designed by a French dude as a protest against nuclear arms and represented the semaphore letters “N” (for nuclear) and “D” (for disarmament), enclosed in a circle. The symbol was later appropriated by the US anti-war movement during the Vietnam War.

My husband and I realized then and there that there was no way we could explain nuclear disarmament or semaphore to a six year old, especially one who was just learning to read and might not even know what the letters N and D were, so we did our best to explain it to her sister, hoping the info might get leaked to little sister in some way.

(In a side note,  this story is the genesis of us calling any moment you realize you are trying to have a discussion with someone who is clearly lacking in even the most basic knowledge on a subject that you would have to spend all day getting them up to speed before you can have a productive conversation with them as a “Semaphore Moment”. You know,  those folks who are sure the entire system is rigged because the first lady becomes president if the president dies – also a true story.)

Anyway, back to the here and now. Today my waitress was wearing a necklace with a peace sign on it. I jokingly told her not to let her mom see it, and this is what she said:

“She’s seen it. I told her what you said about the real story behind the symbol and she said ‘I never thought of it that way.’ I told her that’s because she doesn’t look stuff up, she just believes what she’s told.”

HOORAY! Score one for critical thinking and skepticism! I think I’ll celebrate with the infant leg that was left over from the All Atheist Baby BBQ/Dog Orgy we attended last weekend.

Just Who Do You Think You Are, Man?

I’ve noticed a disturbing trend lately, one we’ve all seemed to accept as normal. When did it become OK for employers  to control an employee’s morality?  Several instances of this have come up recently. A Houston Chronicle society reporter by the name of Sarah Tressler was fired from her job when it was discovered she did the occasional exotic dance in her off hours. Derek Fenton was fired from his job at the New Jersey Transit Authority last year after he attended a protest (on his own time) where he burned a Koran (which is disgusting and stupid, but legal last I checked). Last month a new law in Arizona went into effect that not only allows employers, under the cover of “religious freedom”, to refuse to cover contraception in their employee health coverage (in violation of Federal law, naturally), but it also seems to give employers the right to fire employees who use birth control to, wait for it, PREVENT CONTRACEPTION!  (I know, it is shocking that people might actually use medication for it’s intended purpose.) Arizona isn’t alone. If recent trends in state legislatures are any indication, there will soon be a plethora of new legislation all around the country that mirrors Arizona’s, giving employers the right to dictate their employees moral choices.

But it’s not just religious and moral positions that employers have used against their employees. There is also the near universal push to piss test employees. Yes, I know, some jobs require sober people. I get it. But piss tests don’t test an employee’s current state of intoxication, the only way to do that is with a blood test. But that’s too expensive, so to make insurance companies happy employers pass around the little plastic cups and use your deposits to peer into your recent history, sorting out chemicals markers that have no relation to the condition the employee is in at the time they are working. No, they only check out what you did a couple of nights ago at that party you went to, on your off-time, where probably no one knew or cared who you worked for and what you did. It’s a lie to say piss testing is about safety, it’s all about snooping on you and your leisure time. It’s about knowing what kind of person is working for you, and determining if they fall in line with your own sense of morality.

I guess this all came to a head with me when it was reported in my super secret Facebook group of atheists that one member was interviewed for a job recently and was asked “Do you go to church?”. Our reporter responded “No” and was immediately asked “Well, WHY don’t you attend church?”. This is a POTENTIAL EMPLOYER nosing around in this person’s private religious decisions, obviously trying to weed out those who don’t ascribe to his personal religious beliefs and it’s code of morality. As an “at will” employment state, Oklahoma’s employers enjoy the luxury to fire (or not hire) anyone for any reason, and as a matter of fact they don’t even have to give you a reason. Without a reason, an aggrieved person can not easily file a complaint with the EEOC, not that they seem to give much of a damn about employment discrimination against non-believers anyway. It’s maddening.

I’m an employer. I have people in my employ at my cafe. Believe me when I say they regularly, and with great gusto, violate my moral code. They brag about them, all those little and big things they do that crawl all over me, but it has never occurred to me I should at any time use those actions against them in their employment. It’s wrong. People have the right to make a living, and to deny someone that right because their actions violate your personal morality is reprehensible. It punishes people who hold a minority viewpoint on morality generally, and religious morality specifically, and you just shouldn’t do that. Are we now expected to revise and amend our beliefs and morality at the whims of the person signing our paycheck? What if they wish to prohibit me from donating to a particular political campaign with the money “they gave me” for working, or ban any alcohol purchases because they violate his beliefs? Shall employers be allowed to choose our spouses, charitable donations or religious beliefs now? Just how far will this trend go before someone steps up and says ENOUGH!?!

I do hope we don’t need another round of legislation and bureaucracy to combat these abhorrent actions. People should just treat one another with respect without the hand of the government forcing them. However, it may come to that, because I don’t see this situation getting better. People have become entrenched, vigorously defending their “religious freedoms”, never once seeming to concern themselves with how their actions violate another’s freedoms. My private life, outside of the workplace, is not my employer’s business. Unless they can show why my attendance at a specific church, moonlighting in my underwear, ingesting drugs (on my own time, natch) or when and how to procreate is in any way essential information for them to evaluate my ability to do my job, they can shove their righteous noses up their own butts. It’s where they belong.