Had William Hazlitt written his essay “On Persons with One Idea” today, he would surely have found room for the field of postcolonial studies. It is a field with only one idea: namely, that imperialism and racism are such dominant features of modern life, and had such a foundational role in the construction of our present society, that they inform every aspect of our ideas, culture, and history. Postcolonialism is, in theory, anti-hierarchical and anti-oppressive. But because it has only one idea, it can easily become oppressive in practice, and to quite a large extent. To show that this is true within the context of one postcolonial scholar’s book, The Intimate Enemy by Ashis Nandy, is the purpose of this … Read the rest
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“It is not the belief in witchcraft that we are concerned about…..we acknowledge people’s right to hold this belief on the condition that this does not lead to child abuse.” Gary Foxcroft
I get the sense that some of us in the humanist and human rights communities try hard to placate religious people amongst us by insinuating that it is okay to believe in witches and witchcraft, so long as no one gets hurt. While this may be considered reasonable to some it does seem to suggest a certain level of patronisation towards people who hold superstitious beliefs, to the effect that they simply cannot be convinced of the folly of their convictions. Our assumption that others are unable to … Read the rest
One Law for All campaign is organising a rally on Saturday 21 November 2009 at 1200pm in London’s Hyde Park. The rally aims to oppose religious laws in Britain and elsewhere, show solidarity with people living under and resisting Sharia, and to defend universal rights and secularism.
Simultaneous acts of solidarity and support for the rally and its aims will take place in countries across the world including Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Kenya, Nigeria, Serbia and Montenegro and Sweden.
Moreover, winners of the campaign’s art competition exposing the discriminatory nature of religious law and promoting freedom and equal rights will be announced at the event.
One Law for All Spokesperson, Maryam Namazie, commented, ‘Sharia law is becoming a … Read the rest
After the sacking of its chairman, Prof David Nutt, it seems likely that many of the remaining members of the Advisory Committee on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) will resign in sympathy and that nobody of any standing will serve on it unless the government repents. This it is unlikely to do for reasons that, I believe, have more to do with Britain’s relationship with the USA than with more strictly national considerations, never mind pharmacological or scientific ones.
Prof Nutt is one of our most distinguished neuroscientists, and the views for which he was dismissed are founded on good evidence. They are also neither new nor particularly radical and he has been expounding them for several years. I know … Read the rest
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Dinesh D’Souza is a bestselling conservative who in previous books has praised Ronald Reagan and blamed the left for 9/11. 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.
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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