Articles

Welcome to our articles section. The articles below either have been written specifically for ButterfliesandWheels or are appearing here having been published elsewhere previously.

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‘A Road Which Eventually Can Lead Only to Success’

Nov 13th, 2009 | By Colin Brewer

Following the defenestration of Professor David Nutt, earlier in the month, from the Advisory Committee on the Misuse of Drugs for allegedly intruding on politics in making public his views on the relative risks of legal and illegal drugs, I was moved by simple exasperation to write something in response. This is part of what I wrote and tells the little-known and rather bizarre story of how cannabis came to be prohibited. It also discusses the relative toxicity of cannabis and alcohol and describes what I call the Avocado Theory of illicit drug use.

Many people will have heard of (or even seen) the hilariously alarmist 1930s American anti-drug film ‘Reefer Madness’ which implied that cannabis led inexorably to degradation, … Read the rest



Humanism and Witch Hunt in Nigeria

Nov 12th, 2009 | By Leo Igwe

A conference introductory speech presented by Leo Igwe, Executive Secretary, Nigerian Humanist Movement at the Nigerian Humanist Movement’s National Conference on Witch-hunt, Christian Fundamentalism and Child Abuse
Date October 21, 2009. Venue: University of Uyo Community Centre, Uyo Akwa Ibom State
The Guest Speaker, Dr Nkopuduk Etuk
The Executive Secretary of NAPTIP represented by its Uyo zonal head, Mrs Elizabeth Ekaette,
Other governmental and non governmental agencies
Members of the Press

Fellow Humanists, Ladies and Gentlemen

It is my honour to welcome you all to this national conference of the Nigerian Humanist Movement taking place here at the University of Uyo Community Centre. This is the first humanist event to be organised by the Nigerian Humanist Movement in Akwa Ibom … Read the rest



Putting Human Rights First

Nov 6th, 2009 | By Joshua F. Leach

Judith Shklar, the American political theorist, wrote a famous
essay entitled “Putting Cruelty First.” The contrast with my
own title will be immediately obvious, but I would insist that
the worldview which proceeds from both is essentially similar.
What Shklar intended was that prior to any question of
positive virtues and utopian ideals—before we throw around
grand ideas about love and brotherhood—we need to achieve the
seemingly simple yet nearly impossible task of protecting
living beings from cruelty and injustice. As for my title,
human rights may sound like a positive ideal, the sort of
sweet nothing that ought to be anterior to the goal of saving
the world from cruelty, but I would say that it is, in
reality, … Read the rest



Debate or Change

Nov 4th, 2009 | By George Taylor

It is over 200 years since the Enlightenment offered the dream of freeing the Western world from the dead hand of the God of Abraham (TGOA), yet we still go round in circles debating his existence. “You cannot prove the existence of God.” “You cannot disprove it.” And so on ad nauseam, while the uncommitted and uninterested shrug their shoulders and say the jury is out, so forget it. One or other church still has its hooks into the fabric of most states in the Old and New Worlds, militant Islam has become a rallying point for protest against real or perceived Western imperialism in the Middle East, epitomised by the creation of the state of Israel, itself a permanent … Read the rest



Sketching faces for the faceless, giving voices to the unheard

Nov 3rd, 2009 | By Tasneem Khalil

The best place to sell copies of the Quran is in front of the mosque, my grandfather once told me. I begin this piece with that advice in mind. To borrow a phrase from Ophelia Benson, this is not about a donation from a deity, but this is about a congregation of the faithful. This is about introducing a new independent magazine of human rights journalism to one of the largest forums of humanists online – Butterflies and Wheels. If you are a regular at B&W, I take that your faith in humanity, freedom and liberty counts above everything else and that is why you might be interested about this new magazine we have launched.

I am sure some of … Read the rest



Five Scheduled Executions in Iran

Oct 21st, 2009 | By Jahanshah Rashidian

Appeal to U.N. for Stopping Execution of Political Prisoners in Iran
To Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, the General Secretary of the United Nations
(Also to all freedom-loving people and all governments of the Free World)

Five prisoners are scheduled to be executed in Iran on charges of taking part in protests following the fraudulent presidential election in June. All freedom-loving people, free-world governments, and particularly the U.N. must intervene in this gross violation of human rights by the Iranian Islamic regime.

Following the fraudulent presidential election in Iranian, Tehran’s Revolutionary Court has recently sentenced five political activists to death, and their execution has been scheduled. With all due respect, we all freedom-loving Iranians expect you, the people and authorities of the … Read the rest



The Mortal Coil

Oct 20th, 2009 | By Colin Brewer

In the 1970s and early 1980s, Colin Brewer was a Birmingham University Research Fellow attached to the British Pregnancy Advisory Service and also its psychiatric advisor. He published several papers about various aspects of abortion in peer-reviewed journals, including the British Medical Journal and also wrote articles about abortion for the better class of newspapers and weeklies. In retirement, he maintains an interest in abortion politics.

If anyone wants to set up a Museum of Irony and Paradox, the main exhibit ought to focus on abortion because it attracts so much of the stuff. There’s the capital punishment paradox – the fact that among ‘pro-life’ anti-abortionists, with their often traditional set of moralities, are quite a few hangers and floggers. … Read the rest



The Christian Right: Giving Conservatism a Bad Name

Oct 17th, 2009 | By Edmund Standing

The Butterflies & Wheels news round-up has linked to an article about the American ‘conservative’ alternative to Wikipedia, a site called ‘Conservapedia‘, which boasts of being  ‘The Trustworthy Encyclopedia’.

Conservapedia, it transpires, has started a ‘Conservative Bible Project‘, which aims to correct what it sees as liberal bias in Biblical translation and scholarship. The article reports:

The folks behind Conservapedia, a right-leaning version of Wikipedia, have launched the Conservative Bible Project, aimed at getting rid of what they call liberal bias, wordiness, emasculation and a general dumbing down of the Old and New Testaments.

A dozen or so users, led by Conservapedia founder Andy Schlafly – the son of conservative political activist Phyllis Schlafly – are

Read the rest


An Open Letter to Sen. Jeff Sessions and the 29 Other Male Republican Senators

Oct 16th, 2009 | By Phil Molé

Dear Male Senators:

All of you recently heard testimony about the case of Jamie Leigh Jones, a young woman who was sexually assaulted in 2005. Ms. Jones had been working for defense contractor Halliburton/KBR in Baghdad, Iraq when she was drugged and raped by seven co-workers. After reporting her rape to the company, she was kept locked in a shipping container without food or water for approximately one day and warned that if she left Iraq to receive medical treatment, she would lose her job.

Halliburton later informed Ms. Jones that her employment contract prohibited her from bringing sexual assault charges to court, and would require her to settle her complaints through private arbitration. Although the 5th Circuit Court of … Read the rest



Confound the Unbelievers

Oct 15th, 2009 | By Paula Cerni

Dinesh D’Souza is a bestselling conservative who in previous books has praised Ronald Reagan and blamed the left for 9/11.[1] In his latest he answers the atheists, humanists, materialists and rationalists who are knocking religion down. Why bother, if, as he believes, ‘God is the future, and atheism is on its way out’? (:11). Because, as he explains in a recent interview, atheism is for the first time a serious option for young Americans.[2]

The God option, on the other hand, involves thoroughly confusing one’s readers. Take for example the argument that moral laws are ‘absolute’. According to D’Souza, this corresponds to the Christian idea of heaven and hell, places where we will be measured against a common standard and … Read the rest



Interview With Russell Blackford and Udo Schüklenk

Oct 12th, 2009 | By Tauriq Moosa

With atheist best-sellers flying off the book-shelves, people are now finding their beliefs questioned, probed and examined. Lumping all arguments together, many dismiss the new wave of intellectual concern as a crass form of schoolyard bullying, calling all those critical of religion “new atheists”. But what is forgotten in these discussions is the human side, the reasons for not believing and what that means in our lives. Many know the arguments against belief but now the point has come to ask another question: why does that matter? In an effort to do just that, two philosophers, Russell Blackford from Australia and German-born Udo Schüklenk have co-edited a book which seeks to solve recent problems for the modern non-believer. 50 Voices Read the rest



Child Witchcraft and Child Rights in Akwa Ibom State

Oct 6th, 2009 | By Leo Igwe

Child witchcraft stands for the claim that children can be witches and wizards or that infants can or do engage in witchcraft activities like turning themselves into birds or insects – at night – to suck blood or mysteriously inflict harm on someone. It is the belief that children have evil powers which they use or can use to destory people particularly their family or community members. As I have pointed out here, child witchcraft is a claim, a belief – a superstitious belief. Child witchcraft is manifested in different forms: accusation, confession and persecution.

Children are accused of being witches and wizards. Somtimes children who talk in their dreams or sleep walk are said to be witches. They are … Read the rest



Humanists to Hold an Anti-witchcraft Conference in Uyo

Sep 26th, 2009 | By Leo Igwe

In October (21-22) humanists will be meeting in Uyo, the capital of Akwa Ibom State, for yet another conference on witch hunt and child abuse This is the second antiwitchcraft program to be organized by the Nigerian Humanist Movement (NHM) this year. In July, NHM cosponsored with Steppingstones Nigeria a public symposium in Calabar on Witchcraft and Child Rights. The October meeting, sponsored by the International Humanist and Ethical Union, will be held at the University of Uyo Commmunity Centre. The Governor of Akwa Ibom state, Chief Godswill Akpabio is expected to declare it open.

The theme of the conference is Witch hunt, Christian Fundamentalism and Child Abuse. In the past 10 years, there has been an upsurge in witchcraft … Read the rest



The attack in Calabar: Religious Extremism in Nigeria

Sep 26th, 2009 | By Leo Igwe

Around 11:30 am on Wednesday July 29 2009, a mob of about 200 persons from the Liberty Gospel Church invaded the Cultural Center in Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria. The Cultural Center was the venue of a public symposium on witchcraft and child rights organised by the Nigerian Humanist Movement and Stepping Stones Nigeria.

Most of them arrived at the venue in buses wearing orange T-shirt while others donned plain clothes to hide their identity. As we were about to start, some of them stormed the conference hall stamping their feet on the ground and chanting slogans critical of the event and the organisers.

I tried calming them down without success as they were determined to disrupt the event and … Read the rest



Review of Keith Ward’s Why There Almost Certainly Is a God

Sep 22nd, 2009 | By Eric MacDonald

Connecting the Dots: Aquinas to Ward

As I set off to review this book it may be just as well to say, at the outset, that I can no longer find much sense in typical philosophical arguments for the existence of God. They tend to be, not only far-fetched and implausible, as they seem to be to Richard Dawkins, for example, but even simply unintelligible. Keith Ward suggests that Dawkins’ treatment of Aquinas’ famous Five Ways (of proving the existence of God) is unacceptably brief. In fact, he tells us that Dawkins does not discuss Aquinas at all, but rather five arguments of his own (102). This may well be true, though Ward’s own discussion of Aquinas’ Five Ways in … Read the rest



Rape in the Mullahs’ Prisons

Sep 8th, 2009 | By Jahanshah Rashidian

Since the inception of the Islamic regime in Iran in 1979, rapes of political prisoners have increasingly been committed, although rarely reported. Many courageous victims have recently revealed their subjection to rapes. Surprisingly, however, after the controversial June 2009 election, the losing candidate Mehdi Karrubi revealed that people detained during the post-election protests, both male and female, have been systematically subjected to vicious rapes.

After the conquest of ancient Persia by the Arab Muslims in 644, tens of thousands, probably, millions of Iranian females were raped, enslaved, and transported away as war-booty to be sold in slave-markets of Arab-Islamic territories. The Persian word ‘Tajovoz’ does not only mean ‘rape’ by which a man seized or stole a wife, but also … Read the rest



The Myth of the Holy Fool

Sep 7th, 2009 | By Joshua Leach

One of the mainstays of conservative writing in the last two centuries has been the “holy fool.” We find him in Russian novels and English poems, in Gandhian musings and Tolstoyan diatribes. While the term originally referred to a person lacking intelligence but endowed with great spiritual wisdom, it has since come to describe the reactionary’s notion of the common man; lacking in independent thought and uninterested in free expression, he toddles through life perfectly untroubled by the skepticism and cold reason of liberalism and modernity.

The fool is the eternal darling of the deepest reactionaries. He is the pious underling, the serf who kisses his master’s whip. He toils through life as his ancestors did before him, never questioning … Read the rest



Review of Karen Armstrong’s The Case for God

Sep 4th, 2009 | By Eric MacDonald

One comes away from this book with the sense of having been bludgeoned into acquiescence, of being stunned with detail, and bewitched by misdirection. In his review of this book, Simon Blackburn begins by calling it interesting and eloquent. (Simon Blackburn on Karen Armstrong’s The Case for God.)
I did not find it eloquent, and my interest often flagged as I ploughed one after another through a loosely connected catena of examples. It seems that Karen Armstrong has one book to write, and it involves, practically every time, an exhaustive telling of the history of how we became modern, and how terrible this has really been.

Armstrong has scant ability to discipline her writing, to make selections, and to … Read the rest



Saving Child Witches: a Nigerian Perspective

Sep 3rd, 2009 | By Leo Igwe

Leo Igwe is the executive secretary of the Nigerian Humanist Movement.

December 2008

Some months ago, a British film-maker drew my attention to the plight of children in Akwa Ibom State who had been accused of being witches and wizards and thrown out of their homes by their families and relatives. In August, I travelled to the city of Eket to meet with these kids and the individuals helping to look after them, to find out how my organization could offer help and support.

First of all, I met with Luckyimoh Inyang of Stepping Stones Nigeria. The UK branch of his organization is raising money to support these children. Mr. Inyang told me how they had been rescuing children … Read the rest



Iran: A female revolution

Aug 16th, 2009 | By Azar Majedi

What we are witnessing in Iran is not only a movement against a dictatorship and for political freedom; it is not only a movement against poverty and socio-economic injustice and for equality and prosperity; it is a movement against religious institution, hypocrisy, corruption and superstition. In this context, it is for cultural and moral emancipation as well. The political uprising in Iran has a strong anti-religious character.

30 years of religious oppression has created a generation which wants to emancipate itself from any religious domination, restriction or meddling. 30 years of imprisonment by a brutal religious state, which has interfered in the most private spheres of people’s lives, a state run by the most greedy, corrupt and dehumanized men of … Read the rest