All entries by this author

The role of fantasy

Mar 7th, 2016 10:53 am | By

I’m wondering how much the potential for doing something useful in a movement for political change relies on a rejection of fantasy.

By fantasy I don’t mean an optimistic vision for the future, I don’t mean ideas about how things should be, I mean actual pretending that X is so when it’s not.

My hunch is that the answer is: a lot.

Many MRAs and other anti-feminists claim that feminism is largely based on fantasy, but that relies on the belief that women really are stupider and less competent than men, and that’s something of a fantasy itself.

Feminism isn’t the belief that women are magical god-like beings. It’s the belief that women are people coupled with the belief that … Read the rest

His verification check was taken awaaaaaaaaay

Mar 6th, 2016 4:47 pm | By

In hilarity news, Milo Yiannopoulos – who is a tweeter, not a journalist – crashed the White House press briefing on Friday to tell Obama that Twitter took his blue tick away.

Yiannopolous began by quoting Reddit founderAaron Schwartz, who argued that the importance of free speech also extended to social media sites, and brought up Obama’s previous statements denouncing university safe spacesand the coddling of college students.

“It’s becoming very clear that Twitter and Facebook in particular are censoring and punishing conservative and libertarian points of view…” he argued. “Is there anything the president can do to encourage Silicon Valley to remind them of the critical importance of open free speech in our society?”

Can Obama … Read the rest

A bauble for the prince

Mar 6th, 2016 4:14 pm | By

So guess what François Hollande did on Friday – gave the god damn Legion of Honor to Saudi Arabia. To Saudi Arabia.

The French government was among the most vocal outside the Middle East in its condemnation of Saudi mass executions earlier this year, calling the kingdom’s killing of 47 people “deeply deplorable”.

Yet almost two months to the day after that statement was issued, President François Hollande awarded his nation’s most prestigious award to the heir to the Saudi throne, Prince Mohammed bin Naif.

Thus letting him know the French government didn’t really mean it about those 47 executions.

They tried to keep it a secret. There was a meeting with Angela Merkel the same day and … Read the rest

Lies about abortion and the women who have them

Mar 6th, 2016 10:57 am | By

RH Reality Check on the lies behind the many new laws restricting abortion:

Seventy percent of the 353 state-level abortion restrictions introduced so far this year are based on political pretext, false information, or stereotypes, according to an analysis released Thursday.

The advocacy group National Partnership for Women & Families released the analysis as part of its “Turning Lies into Laws” campaign focused on lies about abortion in 2016. The analysis follows on the heels of its report, Bad Medicine: How a Political Agenda is Undermining Women’s Health Care, which lays out the ideological motivations and inaccuracies that the report’s authors say underpin the majority of legislative impediments to abortion care.

Two hundred fifty-one cases of

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Aiding the patriarchy

Mar 6th, 2016 10:15 am | By

My god people are confused. This particular confusion is from a year ago but the brand of confusion is still everywhere.

Rutgers University assistant professor Brittney Cooper joined HuffPost Live on Monday to discuss the exclusion of prominent black LGBT activists like Pauli Murray, who helped in the the progression of the civil rights movement.

From her campaign to matriculate into the University of North Carolina to her countless articles on race relations, Murray was an influential civil rights activist. Even with her list of accomplishments, Murray, who was of mixed-race heritage, saw her complex gender and sexual identity muted in favor of “respectability politics,” Cooper said.

Murray is part of a long history of gender nonconforming activists

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He was introduced as a Trump supporter

Mar 5th, 2016 10:50 am | By

I thought perhaps it was a joke. I was reading Paul Fidalgo’s Morning Heresy from yesterday, and the surprise module in my brain was activated. The surprise-activator is at the end of a slew of Trump-reporting:

The Christian Post (which I should say has been pretty good and fair to us) pulls a Romney and makes an un-endorsement of Donald Trump (an “undorsement”?):

This is a critical time in American history and we call on all Christians to pray for personal repentance, divine forgiveness and spiritual awakening for our nation. It is not the time for Donald Trump.

Oh! Oh! Guess who is supporting Donald Trump! Like, publicly! Michael Shermer. Ron Lindsay said on Twitter, “So The

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Rebounding or bouncing works very well

Mar 5th, 2016 9:36 am | By


A site called “healthy holistic living” asks us when we last “drained our lymph fluids.” You what now? That would be never, and who the fuck says we should?

A guy called Paul Fassa says so.

Your body’s lymph system is the sewage system for even normal metabolic toxins, and more so if there are health issues. Lymph nodes provide antigens for purifying fluids containing anything from allergens to cancer cells. That fluid is simply called lymph. There is more lymph in your body than blood, but unlike blood, there is no pump for lymph.

If lymph doesn’t move out of small lymph nodes through their ducts into the kidneys and liver, it backs up like a clogged sewer

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People of all genders

Mar 4th, 2016 5:47 pm | By

Is this real advice or is it satire? I don’t know.

In trying to find the source I found advice from the Unitarian Universalist Association, which included this bullet point:

  • Use words that encompass all genders rather than only two
    For example, “people of all genders” instead of “women and men”; “children” instead of “boys and girls”; “siblings” or “kindred” instead of “brothers and sisters.”


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Reactionary disguised as progressive

Mar 4th, 2016 5:05 pm | By

The things you happen on when stumbling around Twitter. I found an article by someone named Wardah Khalid, which says some strikingly unpleasant things about reformist Muslims and ex-Muslims.

The title, which may not have been her choice, is a bad start:

The Ayaan Hirsi Ali problem: why do anti-Islam Muslims keep getting promoted as “experts”?

That’s a stupid question. You can be opposed to X and be an expert in it. That’s not even unusual. Why shouldn’t people who are critical of Islam get promoted as experts?

And since she raised the question I tried to find out why she gets promoted as an expert, and I couldn’t find much reason. I think it’s probably because she’s a … Read the rest

Having women and children closest to the fire exits

Mar 4th, 2016 4:15 pm | By

The Muslim Reform Movement on Facebook:

Hizbut Tarir Australia has been found guilty of discriminating against women for making them sit at the back of PUBLIC POLITICAL meetings following a suit raised by progressive woman activist, Alison Bevege. Bevege has since been viciously subject to slurs such as “Islamophobe” and “bigot” by Hizbut Tarir members.

She writes on her twitter (@AlisonBevege): “progressive ‪#‎Muslims‬ and non-muslims together win – no forced gender segregation”

Video report

The Sydney Morning Herald:

Controversial Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir has been ordered to stop forcibly segregating men and women at its public events after a NSW tribunal found the practice constituted sexual discrimination.

Former NT News journalist Alison Bevege sued the organisation and

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I thought it was the feet

Mar 4th, 2016 10:43 am | By

I cringe that this is my country. (I’m not very cis-American.) Donald Trump talks about the size of his penis in campaigning for president.

It’s “yuge” — or at least that’s what Donald Trump wants you to believe.

The leading contender in the GOP’s race for president made sure the size of his hands — and his manhood — were front and center during the Fox News debate on Thursday night.

“Nobody has ever hit my hands before. Look at those hands,” Trump said while holding them up, spread-fingered in a bid to address previous suggestions by rival Sen. Marco Rubio. “He referred to my hands — if they’re small, something else must be small.”

He added:

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They don’t want the religious freedom monitored

Mar 4th, 2016 10:26 am | By

And then there’s India. Reuters via the Guardian:

India has denied visas for a delegation from the US government agency charged with monitoring international religious freedom.

The delegation from the US Commission on International Religious Freedom had been scheduled to leave for India on Friday for a long-planned visit with the support of the US state department and the US embassy in New Delhi, but India had failed to issue the necessary visas, the commission said.

The Indian embassy in Washington hasn’t responded to a request for comment.

Last year, despite a much-heralded fresh start in US-India ties under Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, the United States ran into problems arranging visits by the head of its office to

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Law criminalizing violence against women declared “un-Islamic”

Mar 4th, 2016 9:49 am | By

Mehreen Zahra-Malik reports at Reuters:

A powerful Pakistani religious body that advises the government on the compatibility of laws with Islam on Thursday declared a new law that criminalizes violence against women to be “un-Islamic.”

Thus throwing a massive spanner into the project of liberal secular Muslims who argue that it’s violence against women that’s un-Islamic.

The Women’s Protection Act, passed by Pakistan’s largest province of Punjab last week, gives unprecedented legal protection to women from domestic, psychological and sexual violence. It also calls for the creation of a toll-free abuse reporting hot line and the establishment of women’s shelters.

But since its passage in the Punjab assembly, many conservative clerics and religious leaders have denounced the new law

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Sheffield ASH does interfaith some more

Mar 3rd, 2016 5:25 pm | By

More from Sheffield University ASH. A later comment on that Facebook thread explaining why they were afraid to invite Maryam to speak:

Ellen Woods I ran this society several years ago (with a fairly “hardline” approach) and we had an ever increasing membership. I am frankly embarrassed by this statement.
I met Maryam Namazie at an event with Sheffield Humanist society a few years ago as well as rallies in London and think she, and everything she stands for, is fantastic.
I have honestly no idea who runs or is involved in the University society now but I apologise on behalf of myself and previous members. What a shame.

And a reply by the ASH Secretary, who is probably … Read the rest

Not because fewer women decided to end an unwanted pregnancy

Mar 3rd, 2016 4:00 pm | By

Surprised not surprised – it turns out that contraceptives reduce the abortion rate. Women’s Health reports:

The new analysis from the Guttmacher Institute, which was just published in the New England Journal of Medicine, reveals that the unintended pregnancy rate declined by a whopping 18 percent between 2008 and 2011, bringing it to the lowest it’s been in 30 years.

The study’s authors also found that 42 percent of unintended pregnancies in 2011 ended in abortion, as compared with 40 percent in 2008—meaning that although the number of abortions has declined (due to the lower rate of unintended pregnancies), the proportion of unintended pregnancies that end in abortion has actually remained about the same (and even increased slightly).


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Ambassador to the prez

Mar 3rd, 2016 3:40 pm | By

That icon of progressivism and social justice, Caitlyn Jenner, wants to be Ted Cruz’s trans ambassador.

To The Advocate, Jenner revealed that she wants to be Cruz’s “trans ambassador” should he become president. Here’s the relevant excerpt from Dawn Ennis’s Jenner profile:

Jenner reveals she met Cruz prior to her transition, more than a year ago, “and he was very nice.”

“Wouldn’t it be great, let’s say he goes on to be president,” she tells me in relating a conversation on the tour bus. “And I have all my girls on a trans issues board to advise him on making decisions when it comes to trans issues. Isn’t that a good idea?” she asked me.

“You’re going

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An ambitious and capable young priest

Mar 3rd, 2016 9:47 am | By

David Marr at the Guardian Australia suggests that George Pell kept shtum about those child-rapey priests because if he hadn’t he would have remained an obscure priest instead of wafting to the glorious elevation of cardinal.

Had young Pell made it his business to find why the paedophile Father Gerald Ridsdale was being shifted from parish to parish in the 1970s – in later years by a committee on which he himself sat – he might well be living the twilight years of his career not in Rome but the seaside parish of Warrnambool.

From Pell’s evidence on the second day of his Roman cross-examination there emerged a picture of an ambitious and capable young priest who decided, early on,

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Not radically different

Mar 3rd, 2016 9:18 am | By

The new issue of Free Inquiry is online, and my column is one of the items not subscribers-only this time. It’s about the odd fact that we consider Islamic State an enemy while we consider Saudi Arabia a valuable ally. (By “we” of course I mean Anglophone countries at government level.)

Saudi Arabia is officially an ally of many liberal democracies, yet it spurned the UDHR in company with newly apartheid South Africa and authoritarian communist states. This should seem stranger to us than it does. The hostility toward human rights of apartheid South Africa eventually made it a pariah state, and its pariah status in turn forced an end to apartheid. The stark absence of human rights in the

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Berta Cáceres murdered

Mar 3rd, 2016 8:15 am | By

Democracy Now reports:

Honduran indigenous and environmental organizer Berta Cáceres has been assassinated in her home. She was one of the leading organizers for indigenous land rights in Honduras.

In 1993 she co-founded the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). For years the group faced a series of threats and repression.

According to Global Witness, Honduras has become the deadliest country in the world for environmentalists. Between 2010 and 2014, 101 environmental campaigners were killed in the country.

In 2015 Berta Cáceres won the Goldman Environmental Prize, the world’s leading environmental award. In awarding the prize, the Goldman Prize committee said, “In a country with growing socioeconomic inequality and human rights

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No need to crawl

Mar 2nd, 2016 5:25 pm | By

More on the University of Sheffield Atheist Secular & Humanist Society, and that post on their Facebook page.

We are in no way abandoning Maryam Namazie. This year the society has shifted it’s focus from hard line atheism as it tends to stagnate numbers and decrease membership, to focus on humanism, which has had the opposite effect. We had a slow start in this and managed after a lot of hard work to be invited to events ran by the CU and Isoc. These are important because we feel that better relations mean they will feel more comfortable joining events that we host, making the society more diverse and the atmosphere more comfortable. We would be terrified of hosting

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