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Not Special, Just Equal

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

This morning a comment was directed towards me at HuffPo on yesterday's article about the NY gay marriage failing, New York State Senate Votes Down Gay Marriage.  I had left a number of comments on the article; commenting on others' comments, agreeing wholeheartedly with some and arguing the finer points of marriage with others (few know its actual history...that's a forthcoming blog post).

A comment, by user mg moore, in particular, bothered me.

Originally he had said:

Maybe now NY can get on to something useful.

I, and others, disagreed with this sentiment.  I stated:

Such as? I think this is a pretty important issue - as do most people.

mg moore disagreed, naturally, that the issue was important at all.  Apparently human rights are of no concern to him, and living in a hypocritical country - promising equality for all but denying rights to some - fails to stir him.  He responded with the comment that irked me enough to bring this debate to my blog:

If most people thought it was important it would have been reflected in the voting of the legislators. The outcome reflected the relevance. Gays should quit pretending they are as special as Faberge' eggs and simply stop whining. Their lifestyle choices put them outside the mainstream. Deal with the consequences.

I don't understand people that think this way.  I am trying to, but it's hard.  Can anyone help me out?  Is there anyone that agrees with this man's assertion that can offer me some insight into your mindset?  I won't judge you or condemn you; I am genuinely seeking answers here.

Part of my responses to mg moore were as follows  (I left two):

1) Gay people don't they think are "special" - that is the entire point of this whole thing! They wanted to be treated exactly the same as everyone - equality is the issue here, not "special". If you don't see that, you are missing the entire point of all of this, as are the people that voted down this legislation.

This whole idea that gay people are asking for some kind of "special treatment" when all they are asking for is "equal rights" infuriates me.  How is it "special treatment" to, simply, be afforded the same rights and benefits as the rest of society?  How is it "special treatment" to ask that Americans stay true to what this country stands for - freedom and equality for ALL?

Homosexuals are people - they are no different than you or I, except that they prefer the same sex as opposed to the opposite sex.  Homosexuality is natural - it exists in nature - and normal.  Fear and ignorance keep people from treating our gay brethren with respect and amity; fear of the unknown and ignorance of the truth that gay people are no different than straight people.  And they deserve the same rights.

Indeed, there is no good or logical argument for denying them these rights - all fall flat and resort back to simple bigotry, ignorance, and condemnation; usually based on religious morals and ideals.  Where in your Bible does God or Jesus preach to treat others as inferior?

2) And if you honestly and truly believe that gay people choose to live a life of condemnation and ridicule, then you are far too ignorant for my impassioned plea to reach your ears.  I am sure you are a very intelligent person, but on this issue itself you remain ignorant; I can assure you - it is not a choice.

If it were, then choose to be gay for a day and have sex with someone of the same sex - just do it, it's just a choice.

I'm sure you find the idea repulsive and ridiculous - just as someone who is gay generally finds the idea of being with someone of the opposite sex! It doesn't appeal to them because that just isn't who they are or how they are made! It is NOT a choice!

Ah, the age-old "choice" debate.  This one never gets old.  I fail to see how being gay is a choice; why would anyone in their right mind choose a life in which they will be judged, condemned, and ridiculed?  Who would prefer a life that very well - and often does - ostracize them from family, community, and the religion they were raised with?  How could they, willingly, accept a lifestyle that takes away their rights, and would not allow them to see their mate of decades as they lay dying in the hospital or make any decisions about their care?  Trust me when I say to you that no one would choose this.

People are born gay.  It's that simple.  I know gay people and I know people that have been gay since childhood (when I also knew them).  As the realization came to them, they - like so many others - fought a great and virulent internal battle.  They tried to be straight.  They chose to be straight.  Some married and had children.  But in the end, the "choice" to live a false life could no longer be upheld; eventually they had to be true to themselves.

Understand this - that is the only choice in it - the choice to be who they were born to be.  Every gay person I know suffered through the I-can't-be-gay battle during puberty.  Some embraced it, many others denied it and tried to be someone and something else.

It is our society that teaches them to hate what they are, to question it and fear it.  Some, as you know, commit suicide.  Why?  Because it isn't a choice, and if it was - many of them - at least in the beginning, would choose not to be gay.

Why?  Because society condemns them for being so, and they know they have a hard life and treacherous path before them.  They may lose family, friends, jobs, community, and their religion.

And, yet, you think they choose this?  You think they flaunt all conventions and decide to just "have lots of gay sex" and, therefore, have no right to demand equal rights?  People like mg moore do think this way, and that is a sad state of affairs.

What bothers me, too, is that in all the hubbub and din, all the people decrying "gay sex" as deviant and gay people as aberrant for engaging in - just for larks, of course - is the idea of Love.  Being gay isn't just about - isn't really at all about - who you have sex with or want to have sex with.  It's about who you can and will Love.  Yes, homosexuals are sexually attracted to the same sex.  But do not forget, that attraction - just like with straight people - can and does lead to more than just meaningless sex.  It becomes relationships, it becomes lasting partnerships, and long-term affairs.  It becomes Love.

And that is what this battle is really about.  No one can choose who they fall in love with - not straight people, gay persons, bi individuals, or anything in between.  And, therefore, it is not a choice for the lesbian who falls in love with the woman who becomes her partner of 20 years or the gay man who falls head over heels for the person he knows is his soulmate, no more than it is a choice for the woman who marries her high school sweetheart or the man who rekindles a romance with the woman he never got over from college.  We don't choose who we love...love has it's own agenda.

The most beautiful thing about this is that Love always wins.  It will prevail; it always does.  And gay people will win their rights.  I guarantee it.

In the meantime, to all the naysayers, I say think long and hard about the reasons you are against homosexuals or gay rights/marriage.  Remember what this country stands for, and take some time to re-read the teachings of the man you base your religion on.  You have a "choice", now - and the choice is to choose acceptance, understanding, and compassion over denial, ignorance, and hatred.  You like to ask, "What would Jesus do?" and so I posit that to you now - what, indeed?

The Danger of Listening to Religious Nuts

Friday, October 30th, 2009

Yesterday, Huffington Post linked to an article in their comedy section by the self-titled apostle Kimberly Daniels that had been posted on Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network.  The HuffPo article, Christian Broadcasting Network Warns Against 'Demonic' Halloween Candy, naturally grabbed my attention.  I clicked on over to the CBN and read Apostle Kim's article which, I'll be honest, was one of the best laughs I've had in quite some time.

Interestingly, today the article has been removed from the site.  Perhaps CBN realized it was written by a nutcase and no longer wanted to be associated with it.  Never fear, though, because I have found the article posted in another place for your reading pleasure over at a site called Charisma under their Prophetic Insight section (is that what you call it?).  Read it here.

It never fails that every year, around this time, I have to pull out my 2003 essay Exposing Christian Holidays.  Though never has it been quite so pertinent as now as a rebuttal to Apostle Kim's (as she calls herself on her website, the home of Kimberly Daniels Ministry International) The Danger of Celebrating Halloween.

Please, give it a quick read (clicking that link should open a small window so you don't have to leave here) before I start my piece – you won't be sorry and I promise it is full of lulz.  Lots and lots of lulz.

Back again?  Was it all the lulz I promised?  Yes and no, I know.  While it was undoubtedly hilarious, it was also rather infuriating.  To think that people actually believe this woman – that there are those out there believing Halloween is the devil's free-for-all and that witches pray over all candy that goes out to retail stores before it is delivered (do they meet up at the candy factories to do this or what?).

This woman sat here and wrote – with a straight face, I'm guessing (either that or a gleeful grin all the way to the bank) – about how she refuses to purchase any and all candy sold during the month of October.  You know, because the demons don't know the difference between candy from the store and candy dropped into your kid's bag during Halloween night (demons are apparently insidious yet stupid).  And, as has been ascertained, all of said candy has already been dedicated to Lucifer via the witches' pre-October prayer groups at all of the nation's candy factories. So, you know, those Whoppers you were snacking on at your desk the other day?  You totally imbibed evil, my friend.  Pure, concentrated evil.

Yet, let's step back and break down Apostle Kim's "warning" piece by piece, shall we?  That's always fun.

According to the self-proclaimed apostle, Halloween rivals Christmas in its nationwide celebrating.  I don't know where she gets her proof for such a claim, because all she says after this statement is "stores that sell only Halloween-related paraphernalia open up a few months before the day and close shortly after it ends".  So do Christmas-only stores, and let's not even talk about how early Christmas crap comes out in regular stores.  I have no idea if what she says is true or she just pulled that random fact out of her ass, but I'm guessing the latter.

Yet, our apostle posits, "Is Halloween a holiday that Christians should be observing?"

Why the hell not?  They celebrate Christmas and Easter, and there isn't much very Christian-oriented in any of their traditions (as I shall soon prove).

Apostle Kim states:

"The world "holiday" means "holy day".  But there is nothing holy about Halloween."

Honey, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but a brief look at the history of every major holiday celebrated in the United States will reveal that not a one of them is "holy".  Naturally that goes for the holidays such as Independence Day, St. Patrick's Day, and the like.  Yet what most Christians that rail against Halloween seem to forget – or be completely ignorant of – is that Christmas and Easter are just as "unholy" as Halloween if you look at their roots and the true meaning behind the majority of the customs we practice at these times of year.  Again, though, we'll get to more of that in a moment.

Our erudite apostle goes on:

"Halloween is a counterfeit holy day that is dedicated to celebrating the demonic trinity of:  the Luciferian Spirit (the false father); the Antichrist Spirit (the false holy spirit); and the Spirit of Belial (the false son)."

What?  I have no idea where she came up with this.  First of all, there is nothing in Halloween's history that calls it "a holy day" – meaning it's not a counterfeit anything – nor is there any mention in its lore that speaks of venerating an evil triumvirate.  In fact, who even knew one existed?  I didn't, and I was practicing witch for many years.

She goes on to explain that this time of year has been "dedicated" to "darkness and an accursed season", allowing "time-release curses" (do those work like time-release capsules?) that allow demons to snare unsuspecting souls foolish enough to participate in trick-or-treating.

"For example, most of the candy sold during this season has been dedicated and prayed over by witches."

I don't have to touch that one again.  It kind of stands on its own; it needs no help from me to be mocked.

She continues by explaining that even the colors of Halloween, "orange, brown, and dark red", are so "dedicated".  Wouldn't that mean that these colors are always evil?  Wouldn't that imply that wearing these colors or using them in your household means you are inviting demons into your life?  She doesn't say, but she does go on to tell us more about this "evil" time of year:

"These colors are connected to the fall equinox, which is around the 20th or 21st of September each year and is sometimes called "Mabon".  During this season witches are celebrating the changing of seasons from summer to fall.  They give praise to the gods for the demonic harvest.  They pray to the gods of the elements (air, fire, water and earth)."

Indeed, for many centuries, people who lived by and with the land venerated the changing of the seasons.  They had many rituals to ensure a bountiful harvest.  These people were not "witches".  They were everyday folk just like us, except that the food they ate they grew on their own.  Without it, they would perish.  Without a bountiful harvest, they would not last the harsh winter to come.  Such harvest celebrations have been around for millennia.  In ancient Greece, for example, a festival called Oschophoria was held to celebrate the harvesting of grapes for wine.  Oooh, evil.

During the fall (and spring or "vernal") equinox, the length of the day is exactly the same; the only time of year that this occurs.  This follows naturally with the Winter and Summer Solstices – the longest and shortest days of the year, respectively.  The equinoxes and solstices are naturally occurring events that correlate with the tilt of the Earth on its axis; first recognized by the ancient Greeks once they realized that the Earth was spherical; part of their great body of work we know as "celestial navigation".

Celebrations of our ancestors were held around these times of year, when the seasons changed, as they lived by the land.  Without using the heavens and Earth itself, they could not ensure enough crops and harvest to get them through the year.  In these times, this could be a matter of life or death.  Rituals, celebrations, and offerings to deities for positive outcomes were common; indeed, there was nothing "evil" about them.

In later centuries, when Christianity came on the scene and began trying to convert the "pagans" (which meant, only, "heathens"), they simply inserted Christian-based holidays over the pre-existing pagan ones.  It was easier to convert the people, they found, if they kept some semblance of the ways they had always practiced; therefore, holidays were venerated on the same days as before and even with some of the same rituals, only now with new meanings per the Church.

Apostle Kim goes on to note that

"Mother earth is highly celebrated during the fall demonic harvest."

Certainly, our forebears celebrated the Earth as they – much unlike how we live today – relied on her for their very survival.  A healthy respect for the planet and a learned knowledge, passed down through generations, of the land, the seasons, and crops and livestock were how our ancient brethren survived.  Respect for this planet that sustains is something we would all do well to work back into our own lives, but I digress.

According to the above statement, then, Apostle Kim seems to indicate that any and all harvest taken in during the fall is "demonic".  If that be the case, then it would seem we are all doomed.  Every bit of non-processed food you eat (admittedly, it may not be that much these days) is oozing with pure evil.  McDonald's may be our salvation yet.

Apostle Kim says that "I am amazed at how ignorantly we participate in pagan, occult rituals."

Indeed!  On this, Apostle Kim and I can agree.  Let me, please and at this time, re-produce my Exposing Christian Holidays essay (click to read, a small window should appear that will let you stay on the blog and still peruse the article).

Nearly everything today has some "pagan" origins – and nothing more than the things we practice during seemingly "Christian" holidays.  Does this make all holidays evil?  No.  But we should be aware of why we do what we do, and where the original rituals come from.  In this light, Halloween is no more "evil" than any holiday acknowledged by the Christian church.

Apostle Kim goes on to state that the simple act of using Halloween decorations lines you up for a date with demons.  "All these activities," she says, "are demonic and have occult roots."

Yet, as I have said – and my essay proves – so do all holidays, and especially those Christian ones.  So her point is at best moot, and more than a shade ignorant.  Trust me, you are not going to burn in hell for letting your kids go trick-or-treating, nor are you inviting demons into your home if you carve a jack-o-lantern.

Ms. Daniels goes on to inform us – again I have no clue where she is getting this information, but I truly do suspect she dreamed it all up in her head – that the worst part of Halloween are the occult ("secret") things that go on "behind the scenes".  Things such as:

  • Sex with demons
  • Orgies between animals and humans
  • Animal and human sacrifices
  • Sacrificing babies to shed innocent blood
  • Rape and molestation of adults, children and babies
  • Revel nights
  • Conjuring of demons and casting of spells
  • Release of "time-released" curses against the innocent and the ignorant

A very good rebuttal of such claims, and similar ones, can be found at the Religious Tolerance website, under Halloween:  More Misinformation from Evangelical Christian Groups.

The author's bio at the bottom of the piece states:

Kimberly Daniels is a sought-after conference speaker and preacher.  She is the founder of Kimberly Daniels Ministries International (kimberlydaniels.com), Spoken Word Ministries – the church she pastors in Jacksonville, Florida, with her husband, Ardell – A Child of the King Learning Center and Word Bible College.  Kim is a recognized prophetic voice as well as the author of several books, including her most recent, Prayers that Bring Change (Charisma House).

I took some time to browse through Apostle Kim's website, and found myself more and more disturbed.  She is very much obsessed with demons, and believes she has the power to cast them out of people.  She tells witches they serve "sissy, punk gods" and is described as having a "no-nonsense confrontation with the powers of darkness" borne of her own "checkered past" (read more about that here).  She tours the country in a 30' Winnebago that is called "The Demon Buster".  A modern-day, ghostbuster, though in this case she is a "demonbuster", she also has available on her website ($10 if you're interested, folks) a music CD called Demon Bustin' on which she performs "Christian rap music".  Her church has over 15,000 members dubbed "Commanders of the Morning".

On her blog, she talks about a conference she held in March called "Iron Sharpens Iron" and the power she held over the room, through the power of Jesus Christ:

"The usual church status quo is for people to get pumped up when the man or woman of God comes on the scene. I am so glad to testify that the Lord was moving when I walked into the door. It was also a blessing to know that a few ladies made a statement to my staff, “We did not come for deliverance but we came to see what Kim Daniels was really about.” I praise God that these ladies were the first ones in the line in the deliverance room. Our team prayed for 90 people in two hours and people were set free. They did not get counseling. They did not get stroked but they got the devil cast out of their lives. It is time out for medicating and counseling demons. Jesus came to set the captives free. In the economy we live in it is not conducive to be bound."

So what is Kimberly Daniels about?  We know she lived a rough past life, found Jesus and then founded a church.  We know she has a nation-wide, if not global-wide, following.  We know that while Jesus may have improved her life, her ministry has undoubtedly improved her pocketbook.

I have a great deal of trouble seeing rich evangelicals preaching the word of a man who chose to live a simple, poverty-riddled life.  Jesus wanted people to go forth and multiply, yes, but he wasn't referring to their bank accounts.

By using the everyone-is-riddled-with-demons analogy, she has created a faith based on fear.  The fear of being overrun by demons and that Satan is controlling one's life.  The only answer – in fact, the only salvation – is to come to Jesus Christ…through her.  She is the middle-man.  She is the one with the answers, the hope, and the direct line to God who can ring you straight through and get your sorry ass saved.  Without her, her guidance and words, her prophetic message, and her personal connection to The Almighty, you are, in essence, a lost sheep.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  This woman doesn't tend lost sheep; she slaughters innocent lambs – people that are scared and searching for answers, that don't know how to find God on their own and need someone to show them the way.  Using this fear, and installing herself as the intermediary for God's divine providence, she has become very powerful and very rich.  She writes and sells books, makes music CDs and DVDs, and offers conferences where you can be touched by her powers directly – for $100 a person.

Pastor Kim tours the world, proselytizing and bringing Jesus into peoples' lives.  She founded the Word Bible College in 1995 to teach students about Jesus and God's word, where they can graduate with doctorates in Christianity – perhaps to start their evangelical ministry.

This is not to say that Pastor Kim has not done good works, and that she has not helped a lot of people.  Yet when someone is living a rich, privileged lifestyle and uses fear and scare tactics as their method of "reaching out" to people, I have a problem with that.

Daniels's The Danger of Celebrating Halloween is one, big, misinformed scarefest.  She has no proof to back up any of her claims, and doesn't feel the need – it would appear – to offer any.  People accept her word as gospel; it's just what she is used to.  This is a woman who honestly claimed that witches pray over all candy that is shipped out pre-Halloween.  All. Candy.  Think about that for a moment.  Does this sound like a sane, rational person?  Does this sound like someone that should be leading thousands?

No, but she does.  Therein lies the problem.  Evangelists want you to believe they care about you and that they are preaching God's word, but it is all selfish works.  Everything they do is to elevate themselves in the eyes of others; it's an ego trip – and a very lucrative one.  There is not a single ounce of truth in her article, yet it is posted all over the Internet and there are thousands that are reading it and, worse yet, believing it.

I would rather be one of the "blood drinking, moon howling witches" that she prays for than believe that God chooses people like this woman to spread his Word.  Jesus was the exact opposite of a rich egotist living a life of luxury, and how anyone can live such a life yet claim a direct, personal relationship with him is beyond me.

Enjoy Halloween, people.  If you can enjoy Christmas and Easter with no worries or guilt, then I can assure you that no ill will befall you or yours for celebrating this innocuous holiday.

The Rule of Three and More

Friday, June 26th, 2009

Though there are a number of things I wanted to discuss today, I would be certainly remiss if I did not share my thoughts on the spate of shocking and untimely deaths that have rocked not only the entertainment industry, but the entire world.

Without fail, bad things tend to happen in threes.  Whether you are superstitious or not, it is hard to deny a hard and fast rule that proves itself over and over again.  This rule applies especially, it seems, to death and even more specifically to death in the world of celebrity and known public figures.  It would seem that yet again the "Rule of Three" has come into play as in the last week, we have experienced the deaths of three cultural icons and stars:  Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, and perhaps most shockingly, Michael Jackson.

Ed McMahon, beloved sidekick of Johnny Carson and the face of Publisher's Clearinghouse, went quietly after suffering through a number of health problems - including bone caner - at the age of 86 in a Los Angeles hospital.  Though he was an icon and his death a sad one, it is not a terrible shock nor does it come with the "too soon" laments of the other stars to have lose their lives recently.  Ed lived a long and fulfilled life and was on this Earth for eighty-six years.  He will be greatly missed and absolutely mourned, but none of us were surprised to heave learned of his passing.

Then, yesterday morning, Farrah Fawcett lost her battle with anal cancer.  Then, appallingly, a few hours later we learned that Michael Jackson had died.  While Farrah's untimely death was tragic - 62 is too young to lose your life to a wasting illness - we were, sadly, expecting it.  The true shocker was Michael Jackson's sudden death at the age of 50.  He was an enormous cultural icon, despite all his quirks and possible downfalls, no one can deny that he changed the face of music, broke down barriers, and was the true "King of Pop" the world over.

Farrah Fawcett had been fighting her cancer since 2006.  At the time, she enlisted the help of her former longtime companion and lover, Ryan O'Neal.  Initially, chemo and surgery had removed the cancer, but in May of 2007 a malignant polyp was found in the originally affected area.  She fought hard and courageously and even filmed some of her struggles – no scripts, bare reality – for a television documentary for others suffering through the same fate (she even shaved off of her signature mane of blonde hair on camera before the chemo could cause it to fall out).  She believed she could beat the cancer, saying, "I do not want to die from this disease."

She and Ryan rekindled their love affair and he was quoted as being amazed with her strength and resilience and told reporters once, "She is so strong and amazing.  I love her.  I'm in love with her all over again."  They had previously been together since 1982 (had a son together in 1985) but had never married.  Though they were always "on and off", they always seemed to get back together.  In June he asked her to marry him and she said 'yes'; they planned to be wed as soon as she was strong enough…yet it never happened.  He was quoted around that time in People magazine as saying, "It's a love story.  I just don't know how to play this one.  I won't know this world without her.  Cancer is an insidious enemy."  I feel genuine sadness for this man - a cancer survivor himself - who is mourning the death of the woman who was the love of his life.  A comprehensive and touching commentary on the legacy left by Farrah Fawcett and the final battle she ultimately lost can be read over on ABC News"Farrah Fawcett's Journey:   Golden Girl's Iconic Career" .

Michael Jackson is truly, a shocker.  The world appears to be in mourning right now; it is dominating the news as fans pay tribute, camp out at his star in Hollywood, and call in to radio stations (which are spinning his hits non-stop).  Though he was only 50 years-old, it has been noted that he has been ill in the last few years.  The much-publicized 1993 court case where he was accused of child molestation financially (and somewhat professionally) ruined him; it was also when his health began to decline, friends and family say.  I cannot ever say if I fully believed he did it or not; I suppose no one will ever really know except him and the boy, Jordan Chandler, (or boys) he supposedly molested.  He seemed, in interviews, a child himself – sort of sad and lonely, broken, and wanting to live out the childhood that had been denied him as a child by his abusive father.

Regardless, none can deny that he gave unflinchingly to many charitable organizations for children and helped millions of children around the world either directly or indirectly.  The news media has stated that his death is from cardiac arrest; that he was found – unconscious – at his rental home in Los Angeles and rushed to the hospital.  Whether there are mitigating factors will remain in question until the toxicology reports come back, of course.  Despite his troubled personal life, one cannot deny that Michael Jackson was the true "King of Pop"; a cutural icon who was known the world over, broke barriers, influenced countless of present-day celebrities, and contributed immensely to changing the face of music with his considerable talent and artistic genius.  I ask that you take a moment to read this beautiful and poignant tribute to this engimatic man by his close friend - and a personal favorite person of mine - Deepak Chopra over at Huffington Post "A Tribute to My Friend, Michael Jackson" .

Deviating from the "three" rule (or adding to it if you discount McMahon as simply coming, gently and non-controversially, to the end of his time here on Earth), is actor David Carradine.  David Carradine died the same week as my grandfather earlier this month.  His death was first believed to be a suicide but I called it right when telling my family the news:  he perished due to auto-erotic asphyxiation; accidental death labeled as "autoerotic fatality".  He might have been 72, but apparently he still enjoyed an active sexual life; at least solitarily.

He was found hanging in a closet in the Swissôtel Nai Lert Park Hotel Bangkok, Thailand where he was to soon begin filming a new movie; the most telling evidence of his accidental self-demise was a shoelace around his neck and, going down, that bound his penis.  Such circumstances seemed to ruled out suicide or homicide, the coroners agreed, however, his lawyer – Mark Geragos – believes that he could have been murdered (he actually said this on Larry King Live) by a secret sect of kung fu assassins.  Absorb that one for a moment.  Geragos claimed that it was recently revealed that Carradine was attempting to blow the lid on some underworld martial-arts groups.  Two of his five previous ex-wives, though, stated Carradine was into self-bondage and "deviant sex acts" that could be "potentially lethal".  Feel free to draw your own conclusions.  A fitting tribute - one of the few not focusing on his bizarre death but rather his provocative life - was written by David Edelstein in his The Projectionist piece over on the New York Movies website: "David Carradine:  Ode to an Existential Hero".

Death seems to be our constant companion these days, as we also can not forget the less-mentioned and often unknown Iranians who have perished at the hands of a murderous, fascist regime.  This was brought to our attention with the gruesome and unnecessary murder of young, beautiful Neda Agha Soltan, who was shot - in the heart - for peacefully protesting the ills of a corrupt government in Tehran.  That poor Neda had to die so violently and publicly was necessary, it seems, to bring the plight of our Iranian brethren to light and force it into directly into our faces.  We must pray for them as they fight for the basic freedoms that we take for granted every single day.  Neda is only one of many who have - and will - face brutal death as they cry out for their basic human rights.  A deeper look into Neda's tragic death and cut-short life is on guardian.co.uk"How Neda Soltani became the face of Iran's struggle".

Whether we are fans of any of the above, whether we care about their lives or are interested in their deaths, and regardless of whether or not we believe they made a impact on society - and our world - we must not fail to honor and remember them; for as it is said, "Ask not for whom the bell tolls...it tolls for thee."