Archive for September 2008

Debate on ‘Defamation of Religions’ at the UN *

Sep 22nd, 2008 | Filed by

France and then Belgium came out strongly, saying that people have rights, religions do not.… Read the rest

Jesus is More Humble Than Mo *

Sep 22nd, 2008 | Filed by

No, Mo is more humble than Jesus. No, Jesus is – oh never mind.… Read the rest

Hating the Other *

Sep 22nd, 2008 | Filed by

Ahab hated Moby Dick; Moby Dick is the Other; people hate Osama bin Laden; OBL is the Other. QED.… Read the rest

Samuel Fleischacker on Israel-Palestine *

Sep 22nd, 2008 | Filed by

There are good reasons to object to a state that favours a religion or culture, as well as a state that favours a race.… Read the rest

FGM Common in Egypt Despite Ban *

Sep 22nd, 2008 | Filed by

Parents said they disobeyed the law to comply with religious beliefs and curb daughters’ sexual drive.… Read the rest

Men With Sexist Views Make More Money *

Sep 22nd, 2008 | Filed by

Perhaps because domineering men are likely to be promoted.… Read the rest

Islam and Human Rights

Sep 22nd, 2008 | By Austin Dacey and Colin Koproske

This article is excerpted (with permission) from the Center for Inquiry report Islam and human rights: Defending Universality at the United Nations by Austin Dacey and Colin Koproske (pp. 5-6, 9, 16, 17, 21-2, 23). Read the whole report.

As this paper is being written, sixty years after the issuance of the world’s first and greatest
statement in favor of universal human rights, both the document and the institution put in
place to protect its ideals (what has, since 2006, been called the UN Human Rights Council)
are threatened more than ever. There is now an alternative human rights system, infused with
religious language and layered with exceptions, omissions and caveats. The movement toward
“Islamic human rights” (IHR) has … Read the rest

Why Knowing Something Matters *

Sep 21st, 2008 | Filed by

The problem is that half the electorate revels in Palin’s lack of intellectual qualifications.… Read the rest

Haredi Sect Bullying Women in Jerusalem *

Sep 21st, 2008 | Filed by

More than 30% of Jewish residents in Jerusalem are Haredi, while 22% are secular.… Read the rest

Theo Hobson Says How ‘Difficult’ His ‘Faith’ Is *

Sep 21st, 2008 | Filed by

When he says he believes God created him he is making a difficult statement of faith.… Read the rest

Nearly All the Dead So Far Are Pakistanis *

Sep 21st, 2008 | Filed by

The target may have been US security officials, but the victims are mostly local.… Read the rest

Having secular people on the buses is a problem

Sep 21st, 2008 11:43 am | By

And then there is increasingly-Haredi Jerusalem.

Yoel Kreus…describes himself as a ‘shmira’, a Hebrew word that translates as ‘watcher of Israel’. ‘I make sure the rabbis’ decisions happen … I help you to be a moral person,’ he said…Signs warning women not to enter if they are wearing trousers, short sleeves or a skirt above the knees, hang in the neighbourhood. One is affixed outside Kreus’s two-room house…Extraordinarily, he admitted to slashing the tyres of women who have driven into the neighbourhood who, he said, were indecently dressed…’Now I’m trying new creative methods, not using violence. Now I make a small hole in their tyres and the air deflates slowly. I’m not destroying their car.’

He’s not destroying their … Read the rest

As easy as science

Sep 21st, 2008 11:24 am | By

And speaking of ignorance and silliness, there’s always Theo Hobson.

[A] creationist is not someone who subscribes to the idea of divine creation; it is a believer who refuses to admit the difficulty entailed in Christian faith, who wants it to be as easy as science…[W]hen I say that I believe that God created me, and the whole world, I am making a difficult statement of faith. It is the most difficult statement of faith that can be made: it is saying that I trust God will right all wrongs, cure all pain. For Christians do not just believe that God created the world, but that he created it good, and that this fundamental goodness will ultimately triumph.

A … Read the rest

A mad love of mediocrity

Sep 21st, 2008 11:04 am | By

Sam Harris is not entirely impressed by Sarah Palin, or by the fact of her candidacy.

However badly she may stumble during the remaining weeks of this campaign, her supporters will focus their outrage upon the journalist who caused her to break stride…and, above all, upon the “liberal elites” with their highfalutin assumption that, in the 21st century, only a reasonably well-educated person should be given command of our nuclear arsenal.

This is what always infuriates me. Whence comes this conviction that ignorance is a terrific quality for a president to have? Nobody wants a plumber who can’t find the sink, or a pilot who never learned to fly, or a doctor with a fake diploma, or an amateur … Read the rest

A moral imbecile

Sep 20th, 2008 4:59 pm | By

Stanley Fish is a smug bastard. This is not news, but he’s smugger than usual in his New York Times blog post on Rushdie and Spellberg and Jones. The first sentence is a staggerer.

Salman Rushdie, self-appointed poster boy for the First Amendment, is at it again.

That just irritates the bejesus out of me. Self-appointed? Poster boy? At it again? Excuse me? He could hardly have been less self-appointed – it was the Ayatollah and his murderous illegal bloodthirsty ‘fatwa’ that appointed Rushdie a supporter of free speech, not Rushdie. And Rushdie defends free speech in general, not the First Amendment in particular; how parochial of smug sneery Fish to conflate the two. And ‘poster boy’; that’s just … Read the rest

BHL’s wager

Sep 20th, 2008 1:46 pm | By

Hitchens reads Bernard-Henri Lévy’s new book.

He can take a long time to show how agonized he is by leftist compromises with every disgraced regime and ideology from Slobodan Milosevic to Islamic jihadism, but the effort expended is worthwhile and shows some of the scars of political warfare from Bangladesh to Bosnia. He is much readier to defend Israel as a democratic cause than are most leftists and many Jews, but he was early in saying that a Palestinian state was a good idea, not because it would appease Arab and Muslim grievances but for its own sake. (This distinction strikes me as both morally and politically important.)

Well yes – very important indeed. Grievances (as I have pointed … Read the rest

Robert Hughes on Damien Hirst *

Sep 20th, 2008 | Filed by

If there is anything special about this event, it lies in the extreme disproportion between Hirst’s expected prices and his actual talent.… Read the rest

Hitchens Reviews Bernard-Henri Lévy *

Sep 20th, 2008 | Filed by

Lévy repudiates radical sympathy with theocracy by inverting Pascal and saying ‘we have to make an antiwager.’… Read the rest

Carlin Romano on Spellberg and Jones *

Sep 20th, 2008 | Filed by

‘She also has every right to try to suppress the book’s publication.’ She does? Every right?… Read the rest

Pope Wants Europe to Be More Catholic *

Sep 20th, 2008 | Filed by

Church doesn’t want European law to ignore ‘church teaching’; pope wants Catholics to squawk.… Read the rest