All entries by this author


Oct 1st, 2015 4:02 pm | By

Via Indian Atheists:

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Many killed, many injured

Oct 1st, 2015 12:24 pm | By

Oh great. Yet another one.

At least 10 people killed in a mass shooting at a community college in Oregon.

The Oregon State Police confirmed that at least 10 people were dead at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon.

The sheriff’s office in Douglas County, which includes Roseburg, told CBS News that the threat was over but would not comment on the condition of the gunman.

There were many other injured victims, according to multiple law enforcement sources. Some of those injured are in critical condition.

The goddam Second Amendment should be repealed.… Read the rest

The state has not gagged her

Oct 1st, 2015 12:20 pm | By

David Shariatmadari takes the opportunity to piss on Maryam in the wake of Warwick SU’s reversal of its rejection of the ASH invitation to her to speak.

Even if it didn’t evolve into a full-blown Twitter storm, this incident was a classic of the genre. Righteous indignation was tweeted and retweeted, celebrities piled on the pressure, pundits sharpened their quills. Even better, the issue straddled a major faultline in progressive thinking. Advocates of free expression were being pitted against those who feel that criticism of religion, Islam especially, can be antisocial, even dangerous.

For Namazie’s supporters two things were very clear: first, this was a direct attack on free speech; second, lefties were once again siding with religious conservatives because

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Woman’s Hour

Oct 1st, 2015 11:07 am | By

Woman’s Hour (BBC Radio 4) tomorrow is going to talk about free speech and feminism; Caroline Criado-Perez and Jane Fae will be on. It’s on at 10 a.m. in London but also archived for listening later so we can all hear it.

Two speakers have pulled out of a feminist conference in protest after campaigner Jane Fae withdrew saying she was effectively being silenced because she had written about pornography. Is this evidence of increasing intolerance and efforts to actively censor views which might offend?

It’s more complicated than that, but they didn’t have room for the complication. Jane Fae withdrew because people were “concerned” about her presence, and she didn’t want there to be a stink that would interfere … Read the rest

It has been claimed

Oct 1st, 2015 10:27 am | By

Barney Henderson at The Telegraph reports on an item about Iran’s women’s football team, in that typically passive, agent-free language that journalists use when they’re not sure, or want to obfuscate, what’s going on.

Eight of Iran’s women’s football team are actually men awaiting sex change operations, it has been claimed.

The country’s football association was accused of being “unethical” for knowingly fielding eight men in its women’s team.

“It has been claimed”; “was accused”; by whom? What are you talking about? If I were a newspaper editor I would make that against the rules. It could mean some drunk on the bus said it. It could mean anything. It’s crap journalism.

In the third paragraph he finally … Read the rest

Is the tide turning?

Sep 30th, 2015 6:05 pm | By

Ian Dunt says the censors are on the back foot at last.

Efforts to ban secular campaigner Maryam Namazie from speaking at Warwick University have been reversed. Then yesterday, feminist campaigners Caroline Criado Perez and Julie Bindel pulled out of the Feminism in London conference in protest at efforts to no-platform fellow panellist Jane Fae. We are seeing the first signs that the tide is turning in the free speech debate. Event organisers are finally coming under as much pressure from free speech defenders as they are censors.

(Quick declaration of interest: I went to Warwick for my MA, I’m close friends with Perez[,] and Fae regularly writes for this website. None of that has any bearing really, but

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This smugness is unwarranted

Sep 30th, 2015 5:06 pm | By

Helen Lewis reminds us what a novelty in the world women’s rights really are.

Consider Switzerland for instance, where women didn’t get the vote until – wait for it – 1971.

Audiences are surprised because Switzerland is supposedly full of People Like Us: it’s an affluent western European nation, not a sand-blasted theocracy or a dirt-poor African dictatorship. And People Like Us believe in women’s equality. Don’t we?

This posture of racially tinged complacency underlies most of the frequent backlashes endured by western feminists. It’s a version of Francis Fukuyama’s “end of history” thesis, which hailed western liberal democracy as the final form of human government: “Come on, ladies. You’ve got the vote. You’ve got the ability to own

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The meat in the fridge was mutton

Sep 30th, 2015 11:31 am | By

So speaking of blasphemy laws, and India, and violence…the Washington Post also reports on a news item from India: a mob dragged a Muslim man out of bed and beat him to death for eating beef.

The attack on Monday night in the northern Indian city of Dadri has shocked the country, but it wasn’t exactly a surprise. For the past six months, meat has been a matter of major debate in India.

Eighty percent of the country’s of 1.3 billion inhabitants are Hindu — who avoid beef for religious reasons. Roughly 250 million Indians are not. That tally includes almost 25 million Christians and up to 140 million Muslims, like Akhlaq.

Such incidents have increased since Modi came … Read the rest

Blasphemy around the world

Sep 30th, 2015 10:58 am | By

The Washington Post notes that it’s International Blasphemy Day via Brandon G. Withrow at Religion News Service.

“God is a lie.”

In some countries, uttering, scribbling or texting that statement will get you thrown in jail, beaten with a rod or possibly killed. The “crime” is blasphemy and Wednesday (Sept. 30) is “International Blasphemy Rights Day,” set aside by human rights activists to highlight the blasphemy laws on the books in 22 percent of the world’s nations, according to the Pew Research Center.

Withrow mentions China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. It could also have mentioned India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Sudan…

“Freedom of conscience is a fundamental right, and it must be valued, protected and advanced everywhere in the world,” says Michael

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Shut up and answer

Sep 30th, 2015 10:03 am | By

Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, testified before a Congressional committee yesterday. NPR describes the hearing as contentious, which puts it with typical NPR mildness. NPR provides five audio clips from the five hours of testimony. The first and longest is a remarkable, and all too familiar, example of shouty bullying and interrupting and demanding simple answers to complicated questions. I’ve always loathed demands for simple answers to complicated questions, and after this past summer, I loathe them even more.

The more than five-hour hearing was oftentimes contentious. Richards defended her organization on several fronts. She said the videos released by the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress were misleading and she said her organization does not receive

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Tomorrow is International Blasphemy Rights Day

Sep 29th, 2015 5:27 pm | By

In some parts of the world it’s already International Blasphemy Rights Day right now.

CFI sent out a press release today:

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Tomorrow, September 30, is International Blasphemy Rights Day, created by the Center for Inquiry to celebrate and defend the fundamental human right to free expression around the world — especially when that expression is critical of religion. To mark IRBD this year, CFI is launching a new website for its Campaign for Free Expression,

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Guest post: How to defend the squicky things

Sep 29th, 2015 10:58 am | By

Guest post by Josh Spokes.

If we talked about LGBT rights the way we “defend” Planned Parenthood, it would sound like this:

1. “Did you know that 98 percent of equal rights used by LGBT people are used by normal, monogamous families?”

2. “Protecting gender-deviant radical people is only 2 percent of the the entire equal rights budget we’re proposing. If you can hold your nose at them, think of all the deserving people you’d be helping.”

3. “If you want to prevent non-standard living and family arrangements, our equal rights project is the best way to do that. When everyone can marry, fringe LGBT people won’t have any desire to live non-conventionally or in ways that you don’t … Read the rest

Enact that law

Sep 29th, 2015 10:47 am | By

American Atheists announced a new campaign today – a desperately needed one.

American Atheists today announced a campaign to enact legislation that would require health care providers to inform patients, insurance companies, and government agencies about any medical procedures and services the provider chooses not to perform because of the provider’s religious beliefs.

Wouldn’t you think they already had to do that? But they don’t.

“Patients must be able to make fully informed decisions about their health care,” said Amanda Knief, National Legal and Public Policy Director for American Atheists, and author of the bill. “This legislation would help patients get the information they need to navigate the increasingly complicated—and increasingly religious—health care marketplace.”

I’ve blogged about this issue a … Read the rest

We need to talk about women as a class

Sep 29th, 2015 10:03 am | By

Glosswitch on The problem with talking about “pregnant people” – she starts the way I did, with “if men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.” It is very much the point, after all.

The problem, we see, is not what pregnancy is, but where women are situated within a social, cultural and economic hierarchy.

And that’s why it’s a mistake to stop talking about women as the targets of efforts to eliminate freedom of reproduction.

Occasionally this tension comes to a head. For instance, last year the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA) changed some of the language in its core competencies document to refer to “pregnant people” as opposed to “women” (although there is still

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About the situation brewing

Sep 29th, 2015 8:07 am | By

The Feminism in London conference is in a few weeks, October 24-25.

Caroline Criado-Perez has just withdrawn from the conference. She explains why.

She starts with the ridiculous no-platforming of Kate Smurthwaite by Goldsmith’s in February.

The reality was, as we all knew, that Kate had become the latest victim of the no-platforming rash sweeping contemporary leftist and feminist circles. The kicker? Her stand-up show had not been about prostitution (her views on which had resulted in the objection to her appearance), but about, wait for it, free speech. Yeah. Ironic, huh?

Many of us felt that this was the final straw. The censorship and no platforming debate had been rumbling on for a while, but this was such

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Sep 28th, 2015 4:55 pm | By

I wrote my column for The Freethinker this month about the pope.

Greetings from happy-clappy popey-cuddly land, where it’s all pope all the time and we just can’t say enough about what a wonderful, warm, caring, new, different, thrilling, compassionate pontiff the dear man is.

The New York Times for instance, gushing like a Beyoncé fan:

Pope Francis swept across Manhattan on Friday from the center of global diplomacy to a worn classroom in East Harlem, challenging world leaders to protect the planet, warning against the dangers of fanaticism at the site where terrorists took thousands of lives and reaching out to those at the margins of society.

Curing diseases, restoring vision, leaping tall buildings at a single bound.

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Sep 28th, 2015 4:09 pm | By

Two views:


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More than 60,000 women

Sep 28th, 2015 3:39 pm | By

The background on #ShoutYourAbortion, from last week.

Campaigners Lindy West, Amelia Bonow and Kimberly Morrison started the hashtag “#ShoutYourAbortion” on Twitter on Friday [September 18].

The phrase exploded over the weekend around the world, trending across the US, Australia and Europe. More than 60,000 women explained their decision to get an abortion.

Here are a few tweets:

Feminist Wire ‏@thefeministwire 3 hours ago
A Love Note to Women Who’ve Had Voluntary Abortions … #ShoutYourAbortion

Katha Pollitt ‏@KathaPollitt Sep 25
Abortion haters, pls read this woman’s story of choosing to end catastrophic wanted pregnancy. #shoutyourabortion

Victoria Brownworth ‏@VABVOX Sep 22
Men have no voice in a woman’s bodily autonomy.
So all the men tweeting me?
Stay in

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What is needed is some honesty

Sep 28th, 2015 10:26 am | By

Maajid Nawaz has a public Facebook post on Islam and denial. It’s related to this CNN video in which Sam Harris  and Dean Obeidallah talk to Don Lemon:

Denial Helps No One

This debate between Sam Harris and my fellow Muslim Dean Obeidallah sums up the problem we liberal, reforming Muslims face.

Dear Dean, chopping off hands for theft (5:38) whipping ‘fornicators’ (24:2) and crucifixion as political punishment (5:33) as ISIS, Saudi Arabia and Iran do, are all passages found in the Qur’an.

What Sam mentioned, killing gays, is ostensibly commanded in numerous Hadith (a secondary holy source for the overwhelming majority of Muslims) including “Kill the doer and the receiver” (Tirmidhi).

In the age of the Internet,

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Meta Warwick

Sep 28th, 2015 10:10 am | By

The Coventry Telegraph reports on reactions to Warwick’s reversal yesterday. (Warwick and Coventry are next door to each other, and Coventry is a city while Warwick isn’t.)

High-profile public figures have welcomed news that Maryam Namazie’s ban from Warwick University has been overturned.

The students’ union indicated the initial decision had been made was made “in deference to the right of Muslim students not to feel intimidated or discriminated against on their University campus.”

But, after 48 hours of intense public pressure – including an online petition, the union released a statement to apologise to Ms Namazie and confirm it would back down over the ban.

Ms Namazie said: “I am really excited that I will be able

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