All entries by this author

Vatican Says Pope is no Cartoon Fan *

Mar 21st, 2008 | Filed by

The pope has condemned the cartoons several times and stressed that ‘religion must be respected.’… Read the rest

Flemming Rose: bin Laden Wants My Blood *

Mar 21st, 2008 | Filed by

What kind of civilization are we if we refrain from mocking and ridiculing bin Laden and his followers? … Read the rest

Rome Town 2008: Per Omnia Saecula Saeculorum

Mar 21st, 2008 | By R. Joseph Hoffmann

Progress in the Church of Pope Benedict is a moonwalk. That is what I have decided, anyway. For the pop-cultural non-cognoscenti, the moonwalk is a dance popularized by Michael Jackson in one of 1983’s most vibrant contributions to American civilization: “Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, and Forever.” I’m told the correct name for the dance is the “backslide”—an illusion creating the impression the dancer is moving forward when he’s actually moving backward. Imagine the Pope and the curia perfecting this in the papal chambers, cassocks raised mid-calf, to the sound of the Electronic Boogaloos. Now try not imagining it.

It didn’t get sillier than John Paul II’s October 1992 expression of regret for how Galileo had been treated by the Church, … Read the rest

Flemming Rose on why he published those cartoons

Mar 21st, 2008 11:08 am | By

There was one school of thought in 2006 that said the Danish cartoons were deliberate provocations, just as there was a school of thought in 1989 that said Salman Rushdie knew perfectly well he was being offensive in The Satanic Verses and more or less deserved whatever he got. Flemming Rose (the Jyllands Posten editor who commissioned the cartoons) says they were not. In reply to Wolf Blitzer’s question ‘Was it your intention when you asked for these 12 cartoons to provoke a response, to incite, if you will, a reaction among Muslims?’ he said

Of course not. I was focused on the question of self- censorship, and I did not pay much attention to the reactions of Muslims.

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Hellfire and brimstone sermons

Mar 21st, 2008 9:56 am | By

The editor of The Irish Catholic, Gary O’Sullivan, says ‘the Church should apologise to and seek forgiveness from people it has hurt.’ The Church? Hurt people? Oh surely not.

Commenting on Cardinal Seán Brady’s call on people to return to confession, Mr O’Sullivan warned that many feel it is the Church that needs repentance before they will darken its door again…Among the past wrongs he challenges the hierarchy to apologise for are frequent hellfire and brimstone sermons promoting a false God of fear and punishment, clericalism lacking any Gospel humility, and preaching about Limbo and the burden it placed on suffering mothers. Mr O’Sullivan wonders if the bishops will also apologise ‘for the way clerics spoke about sin and the

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Rabbi Says Jewish Law Forbids Employing Arabs *

Mar 20th, 2008 | Filed by

‘Since this is a matter of endangering souls, it is clear that it is completely forbidden to employ them and rent houses to them.’… Read the rest

Look on This Advertisement, and on This *

Mar 20th, 2008 | Filed by

Offence is emphatically not a reason for censorship; a violation of truthfulness is a fit subject for criticism.… Read the rest

Grayling on Civil Liberties *

Mar 20th, 2008 | Filed by

The liberties of individuals are inconvenient for all states and their security services.… Read the rest

Grayling on Gray *

Mar 20th, 2008 | Filed by

Gray has merely iterated his views in the teeth of the severe drubbing given to their cogency and credentials.… Read the rest

Reading the Memoirs of Ex-Islamists *

Mar 20th, 2008 | Filed by

What is striking here is the utterly marginal place given to politics, to history and ideas. … Read the rest

Thailand: 600 Protest Motoons *

Mar 20th, 2008 | Filed by

Protesters claimed phrases on banners such as ‘Kill Them’ should not be considered a threat.… Read the rest

Against Sexual Apartheid

Mar 20th, 2008 | By Maryam Namazie

This is my open letter to anyone who will listen.

Sexual apartheid is the outrage of our century. In Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and countries ruled by Islamic laws, millions of women and girls are segregated, degraded and relegated to second class citizenship. Keeping women and girls separate and unequal are important pillars of Islamic rule, affecting every aspect of people’s lives. Sharia law itself specifies that a woman is worth half that of a man and that she is the property of her male guardian, needing his permission even to travel and work.

As the source of ‘corruption’ and ‘chaos’, she must be segregated at workplaces, schools, libraries, universities, in sports and recreation, transportation, the health system, and … Read the rest


Mar 20th, 2008 10:29 am | By

How religion makes people better.

The chairman of the Yesha rabbinical council and chief rabbi of Kiryat Arba, Rabbi Dov Lior, on Wednesday issued a halakhic ruling stating that it is forbidden by Jewish law to employ Arabs or rent homes to them…Lior said that “since this is a matter of endangering souls, it is clear that it is completely forbidden to employ them and rent houses to them in Israel. Their employment is forbidden not only at yeshivas, but at factories, hotels and everywhere.”

Ah well if it’s a matter of endangering souls, then there’s no more to be said. Clever of this god fella to have created good people and bad people and to have told the … Read the rest

Forest Heights

Mar 19th, 2008 3:42 pm | By

So, another industrial school. How sweet.

Haut de la Garenne has a darker past. It opened in 1867 as an industrial school for young people of the lower classes and neglected children…The gruesome secrets escaping its imposing stone walls today are ugly and deeply disturbing: stories of beatings, rape, torture, imprisonment of children…The prison-style solitary confinement cells contained just a bed and a potty. Le Monnier, 43, says: “It made you feel depressed, lonely and degraded.”…Turner recalls being hit over the head with pillows filled with boots and shoes. “You’d go to bed and pow, they’d get you,” Turner says. “Times change. It was acceptable back then. It wasn’t just me, it was a lot of the children, most

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Counselling Consisted of Prayer Readings *

Mar 19th, 2008 | Filed by

Mercy Ministries offers help with mental illness but hands patients over to Bible studies students.… Read the rest

Abuse at a Jersey Industrial School *

Mar 19th, 2008 | Filed by

Haut de la Garenne was a house of horrors.… Read the rest

Religious Groups Want Cartoon Channel Closed *

Mar 19th, 2008 | Filed by

Christian and Muslim groups demand shut down of Russia’s 2X2 because it airs anti-religious cartoons.… Read the rest

At least get the facts right

Mar 18th, 2008 3:22 pm | By

A little more on Yelena Shesternina.

Jyllands-Posten, a little-known Danish newspaper, managed to cause an uproar in the whole world with just one publication. Its cartoons depicting Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) offended 1.5 billion people. Islamic traditions prohibit the publication of any images of people, not to mention the prophet. As a result, massive protests swept the Muslim world, and in some countries Western diplomats had to go home within 24 hours…About 50 people fell victim to pogroms and demonstrations.

Wrong. She has her facts wrong. She left out several very important points, points which make her ‘argument’ look ridiculous. J-P did not manage to cause an uproar in the whole world with just one publication or to offend 1.5 … Read the rest


Mar 18th, 2008 2:51 pm | By

Consider Oradour. 642 people were murdered by a German battallion there on June 10 1944, after Sturmbannführer Adolf Diekmann was told that a German officer was being held by the Resistance in Oradour (in Oradour-sur-Vayres, that is, which is not Oradour-sur-Glane; it was the latter that got it in the neck).

[T]he Wehrmacht regarded members of all resistance movements as guerilla terrorists who would strike quickly before merging back into civilian life. As such, reprisals were indiscriminately violent. Oradour, indeed, was not the only collective punishment reprisal action committed by German troops: other well-documented examples include the Soviet village of Kortelisy (in what is now Ukraine), the Czechoslovakian villages of Ležáky and Lidice (in what is now the Czech

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David Bromwich on ‘Revolutionary Euphemism’ *

Mar 18th, 2008 | Filed by

Totalitarian minds are in part created by the ease and invisibility of euphemism.… Read the rest