All entries by this author

The adult table

Jun 18th, 2014 4:19 pm | By

Ed is underwhelmed by Peter Boghossian.

 

I have to agree with Taylor Carr’s assessment of Peter Boghossian and his often simpleminded and childish jabs at religion. I think he’s an example of exactly what we don’t need in atheism, someone who is content with making the lowest common denominator insult rather than the thoughtful criticism. A perfect example is this recent Tweet:

Being published in the philosophy of religion should disqualify one from sitting at the adult table.

Uh, no. Making a stupid statement like that disqualifies one from sitting at the adult table.

Funny he should mention it, because I’ve disputed one or two of Boghossian’s tweets for the same kind of reason – they can be … Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



The content is now available again in Pakistan

Jun 18th, 2014 11:53 am | By

Hey, Twitter reversed itself on blocking those “blasphemous” tweets in Pakistan.

Pakistani authorities had requested the removal of the material, much of which mocked Islam and other religions, claiming that it was “blasphemous,” “unethical” and violated Pakistan’s Penal Code. Twitter used its Country Withheld Content tool, which blocks content in a particular nation, for the first time in Pakistan, the social network said.

And now it has decided to unuse it.

Twitter issued the following comment Tuesday about its restoration of the blocked content:

“We always strive to make the best, most informed decisions we can when we’re compelled to reactively withhold identified content in specific jurisdictions around the world. On May 18, 2014, we made an initial decision to

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A scorching emptiness

Jun 18th, 2014 11:35 am | By

A heart-rending piece by Ensaf Haidar, wife of Raif Badawi, who is still in a Saudi prison for the “crime” of setting up an atheist website.

I still pursue that mirage… two years have passed and I am still faced with a scorching emptiness and a series of agonizing questions.

When will he be back, and in what condition? What will I put on, and how will I react? Should I hug him, kiss him, or should I cry?

I wake up to the torture inflicted upon me by our children’s questions, like: “Mom, will we be leaving tomorrow without Dad, to fly from Beirut to Canada? Will I be afraid of flying? Dad used to help me overcome

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(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Ofsted does the decent thing

Jun 17th, 2014 6:20 pm | By

The BHA reports a bit of good news:

Ofsted has today withdrawn and committed to update a briefing for inspectors on ‘faith’ schools that endorsed gender segregation in lessons, as well as restrictions on the teaching of art and music. The British Humanist Association (BHA) criticised the guidance on Thursday after the Times brought it to light, pointing out that it contradicted negative findings from Ofsted and the Education Funding Agency into the practices of schools in Birmingham and of the Al-Madinah School in Derby last year, as well as the stated policy of the Department for Education. The BHA wrote to Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw about the briefing and has welcomed the decision.

It quotes from … Read the rest

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Horrified at what the survivors were saying

Jun 17th, 2014 6:08 pm | By

Sufiya Ahmed has written a novel about forced marriageSecrets of the Henna Girl

Published in 2012, it tells the story of an everyday teenager, waiting for her GCSE results, looking forward to college and dreaming of the day she will meet her one true love.

But her parents have other plans and, in Pakistan for the summer, Zeba’s world is shattered as her future is threatened by an unthinkable – and forced – duty to protect her father’s honour.

That’s one for the list.

Sufiya was working in the House of Commons as a researcher for an MP when she encountered countless brave Asian women who shared their harrowing experiences with parliamentarians so awareness of the issue

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(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



All the little cuts

Jun 17th, 2014 4:08 pm | By

Are threats really threats?

Well, you can’t always tell, but you don’t always want to risk it, either.

The Supreme Court is about to consider Facebook threats to murder the ex-wife brand of threats.

The US Supreme Court is to decide whether violent threats or images posted on Facebook and other social networks constitute free speech or a criminal act, in the case of a man who made comments about his estranged wife.

Anthony Elonis wrote about killing his wife publicly on Facebook and also posted other comments and images about her, about his co-workers and about the law enforcement officials who investigated the threats.

“There’s one way to love you but a thousand ways to kill you,” he

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There isn’t some kind of magic root

Jun 17th, 2014 3:35 pm | By

Yes!

Look, he’s pouting.

Don’t forget to send me your stories.… Read the rest

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Think universal, act universal

Jun 17th, 2014 2:50 pm | By

The Muslim feminist and women’s rights activist Shaista Gohir summed it up in a tweet:

Forced marriage is criminalised today and the media irritatingly try and link this to British values! This is about human rights!

Yes it is! And human rights are not the monopoly of any one country or any one section of the globe or geographical direction or stage of development or anything else. Skip the patriotism, please, it’s beside the point.… Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Cameron wraps his head in the flag

Jun 17th, 2014 2:43 pm | By

Oh shut up, David Cameron.

He’s talking nationalist bullshit about “British values” again, which is a really bad idea.

People in the UK should stop being “bashful” about being British, the prime minister has urged.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, David Cameron said the country should be “far more muscular” in promoting its values and institutions.

He backed the promotion of “British values” in the classroom amid claims conservative Muslim governors had tried to influence some Birmingham schools.

This should include teaching children about Magna Carta, Mr Cameron said.

Mr Cameron wrote that in recent years, the UK had sent out a “worrying” message: “That if you don’t want to believe in democracy, that’s fine; that if

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Natural light

Jun 17th, 2014 12:19 pm | By

Another ex-hijabi post, this time from a convert.

One poignant detail:

People will often tell you that a Muslim woman can wear whatever she wants in the privacy of her own home, but even there I felt myself being monitored.  Crossing the living room in t- shirt and shorts would immediately prompt my then husband to close the curtains, so I had to choose between comfort and having natural light in the room. 

That sounds so stifling. I have a horror of any kind of stifling.… Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Chaplains in state schools??

Jun 17th, 2014 9:17 am | By

I got a tweet asking me to share this and it’s well worth sharing, so here it is.

National Campaign: STOP the National Schools Chaplaincy Program

They have that? Yes, they have that.

Since 2006, the federal government has used taxpayers’ money to pay for religious missionaries to access schools throughout Australia, including public schools.

Despite a recent budget that targeted education, health, and funds designated for children with disabilities, the current government has extended the National Schools Chaplains Program (NSCP) at a cost to the taxpayer of $670 million since its inception, and removed funding for non-religious welfare workers in schools. Poorly resourced state schools, in particular, desperately need properly qualified and experienced teacher aides, counsellors and social workers.

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(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



How to skeptic

Jun 17th, 2014 9:10 am | By

A skeptic wrote a taking-stock how-can-we-improve post soliciting suggestions on how to make a better skeptical “movement.” Suggestions and advice came in. One piece of advice was:

Treat your allies better than you treat your opposition. This doesn’t mean anyone who claims to be on your side gets a blank check. It does mean you should keep their intentions and goals in mind when someone is imperfect.

I laughed and laughed and laughed. Then I laughed some more.

Update Ok I thought it was obvious what was so funny but it’s not; sorry.

Reasonable people – which self-proclaimed skeptics are a subset of – are not supposed to treat allies well and the opposition badly. That’s neither ethical nor epistemically … Read the rest

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Good start

Jun 16th, 2014 5:11 pm | By

The Ex-Hijabi Fashion Photo Journal is a success already, it was a success before Marwa had even posted anything. Now that’s an idea with legs.

Heina has a post.

I usually answer, with a smile, that I was happy. In fact, it was one of the happiest days of my life. It was the day I took my first permanent, documented, public step as an ex-Muslim ex-hijabi. 

Sidra M has a post.

I think we do ourselves a disservice when we culturally homogenize ourselves when we’re such incredibly interesting people on the inside. My current appearance has everything to do with what makes me feel beautiful and empowered, exactly what the hijab was a representation for me then

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(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



What it’s like to cough so violently that you can’t inhale

Jun 16th, 2014 4:40 pm | By

Collected from your comments on the several pertussis posts I did over the weekend. There are also a couple about asthma, because the terrifying inability to draw a breath is common to both. There are also a few about watching loved others suffer through the horrible illness.

carlie:

The loss of herd immunity can kick you in the ass even if you’ve done everything you can. My husband got pertussis last year – even though he was vaccinated, it can apparently wear off as you age. Usually not a huge problem, unless there’s suddenly a surge of cases of it from assholes who don’t vaccinate. He was sick for months. Didn’t break any ribs, but the coughing did … Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Testimony sought

Jun 16th, 2014 3:34 pm | By

You know CFI’s Keep Health Care Safe and Secular campaign? You can help.

If you have a story of health care being interfered with or messed up or both by religious meddling or pseudoscientific bumbling, you can write it up and send it to me and I’ll publish it here. It will be one post which I’ll update if and when a new story comes in, so it can be just a paragraph if that’s all you need. (If a lot comes in I’ll do more than one post if the first gets too long.) CFI is collecting such stories, so the more the better.

Let’s do this.… Read the rest

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The rapist’s pursuit of sexual freedom

Jun 16th, 2014 2:56 pm | By

This is from last March, but it’s so special it deserves resurrection. It’s about a Republican Maine state legislator, one Lawrence Lockman. He has said things. A muckraker called Mike Tipping, an activist with Maine People’s Alliance, found some of the things.

Perhaps the most inflammatory was a press statement from 1995 in which Lockman says “If a woman has (the right to an abortion), why shouldn’t a man be free to use his superior strength to force himself on a woman? At least the rapist’s pursuit of sexual freedom doesn’t (in most cases) result in anyone’s death.”

Where to begin, eh? I guess just skip over the obvious brutality and contempt, to zoom in on the idea that … Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Based on divine religious texts

Jun 16th, 2014 12:27 pm | By

The Saudi Justice Minister Mohammed Al-Eissa was in DC last week and he took the opportunity to set everyone straight about human rights in the Kingdom.

Justice Minister Mohammed Al-Eissa has denounced international rights groups for attacking the Kingdom’s judiciary, saying laws in this country are based on divine precepts contained in the Holy Qur’an.

“Any attack on the judiciary will be considered an attack on the Kingdom’s sovereignty,” he said recently.

Speaking to American lawyers, legal consultants and academics in Washington, Al-Eissa said many people have misunderstood Islamic laws because they follow biased information and ignore cultural differences. “This is the reason for rights organizations making big mistakes in their reports,” he said.

The minister tried to counter

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(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Scalia taunts the unbelievers

Jun 16th, 2014 12:09 pm | By

Via Ron Lindsay on Twitter, I’m reading Scalia’s dissent (joined by Thomas) in a case decided today, ELMBROOK SCHOOL DISTRICT v. JOHN DOE. It starts on page 10.

Some there are—many, perhaps—who are offended by public displays of religion. Religion, they believe, is a personal matter; if it must be given external manifestation, that should not occur in public places where others may be offended. I can understand that attitude: It parallels my own toward the playing in public of rock music or Stravinsky.

He sounds like a Twitter harasser. That’s the kind of person who trivializes objections to sexist or racist taunting into merely being “offended.” That’s childish. It’s not that we’re merely “offended” by public displays of … Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Breaking

Jun 16th, 2014 11:31 am | By

Here’s a piece of good news to counter the dead fish taste of the bad news we’ve been seeing lately – Michael De Dora has just been elected President of the United Nations NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

That’s terrific.

Here’s me talking to Michael about freedom of religion or belief at Women in Secularism last year.

The right person for the job! Makes a nice change.… Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Marwa says: Join the Ex-Hijabi Fashion Photo Journal!

Jun 16th, 2014 7:33 am | By

You know Marwa Berro of Between a Veil and a Dark Place? (Did I tell you she was at Women in Secularism? I think I did.) She has a brilliant project: an ex-hijabi photo blog.

Featuring ex-hijabis with awesome hairstyles and tattoos and piercings. Ex-hijabis in bikinis and little black dresses and cargo pants and hiking boots. Ex-hijabis who are femme and ex-hijabis who are butch. Ex-hijabis who are women and ex-hijabis who are men. Ex-hijabis topless and legsome and all decked out and minimalistic and with long hair and buzzcuts and everything. EVERYTHING.

Basically ex-hijabis choosing how THEY want their bodies to look, because bodies are a joy and not a shame.

I’m thinking each post will

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(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)