All entries by this author

Freedom of thought, conscience and religion

Oct 19th, 2014 11:00 am | By

The European Humanist Federation points out that the 2014 EU report on countries that are candidates for membership does a lousy job of monitoring abuses of the rights of non-believers in those countries.

…the 2014 reports have clearly failed to address the situation for non-believers in these countries, with not one single mention of their situation being present within the section on ‘Freedom of thought, conscience and religion’ in this year’s reports.

They do a good job on reporting violations of the rights of adherents of minority religions, but they leave out the rights of adherents of no religion. It’s as if rights came with religion but not with no religion.

Negating [neglecting?] to report on the

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

Look in another place

Oct 19th, 2014 9:39 am | By

If we get depressed about the tattered “heroes” of atheism and skepticism we can turn our attention away from them in favor of people like William Pooley, a nurse who caught Ebola while volunteering in West Africa. He was flown home to the UK and treated, and he recovered, so now he’s taking a well-deserved breather returning to Sierra Leone.

Mr Pooley will work at the isolation unit at Connaught Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone, where he will train staff and set up new isolation units.

He will work with a team from King’s Health Partners – a collaboration between King’s College London and three NHS trusts – which is operating in the country.

Dr Oliver Johnson, programme director

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Gender activists and hipsters with degrees in cultural studies

Oct 18th, 2014 5:51 pm | By

A month ago Christina Hoff Sommers did a 6 and a half minute video for the American Enterprise Institute in which she took a sarcastically skeptical look at the criticisms of gamer culture. There’s a partial transcript on the page and I transcribed some of the rest for myself.


She started by saying that hard-core gamers, those who play more than 20 hours a week, are 7 to 1 male to female.

But are video games rife with sexism? Do they promote a culture of misogyny and violence that must be dismantled? My answer is no. As I looked into the literature on gaming, I discovered that gamers make a lot of people nervous. Not only are most of

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Another level

Oct 18th, 2014 4:01 pm | By

Here’s another branch of the Harassing Women on Twitter industry – people threatening a woman with rape because blah blah blah blah.

TV presenter Richard Madeley has said people who sent “sick rape threats” to his daughter are in “deep trouble”.

Chloe Madeley received threats on Twitter after defending her mother, Judy Finnigan, who caused controversy when she described a rape committed by footballer Ched Evans as “non-violent”.

Well that’s ironic. I wish people wouldn’t declare the rapes of other people “non-violent” – I wish people would just get out of the business of minimizing the rapes of other people altogether – but I don’t think the right response is to threaten such people’s daughters with rape.

Mr Madeley

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Guest post: Horrified to listen in to some sexist chat

Oct 18th, 2014 2:50 pm | By

Originally a comment by Lee Brimmicombe-Wood on A rebellion against moral crusaders.

So far as I can see, the authoritarian gaming press has, to varying degrees, come down on the side of virtue. If the gamers are winning, as Summers suggests, I’m not seeing it.

Of course, as an industry insider it’s always possible there’s something I’m not seeing.

I wade into the open sewer of message boards only so far. However, I very much doubt that my corporate masters will ever be moved to send out a memo suggesting we ditch diversity or in any way rein it back in.

That said, when it comes to questionable content I’ve pointed the finger before at Marketing. Devs are, of … Read the rest

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A rebellion against moral crusaders

Oct 18th, 2014 12:55 pm | By

Christina Hoff Sommers is promoting an article at Spiked about #GamerGate as fantastic and honest. Let’s see.

Video games aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. They can be enormously time-consuming and often require a considerable level of dedication to master. However, there are good reasons for non-gamers to be paying attention to the video-games industry right now – it has become the site of a rebellion against moral crusaders and their relentless push to politicise every aspect of culture and society.

That’s not a good start. It’s never a good start to claim that it’s only analysis or criticism or interrogation of X that is political, while mere X itself just is, politics-free.

That’s not right. Video games aren’t some … Read the rest

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Science causes the spread

Oct 18th, 2014 11:30 am | By

Andy Borowitz at the Borowitz Report at the New Yorker.

There is a deep-seated fear among some Americans that an Ebola outbreak could make the country turn to science.

In interviews conducted across the nation, leading anti-science activists expressed their concern that the American people, wracked with anxiety over the possible spread of the virus, might desperately look to science to save the day.

“It’s a very human reaction,” said Harland Dorrinson, a prominent anti-science activist from Springfield, Missouri. “If you put them under enough stress, perfectly rational people will panic and start believing in science.”

But that’s tragic because it’s science that got us here. If it weren’t for science there wouldn’t be all these pesky airplanes flying back … Read the rest

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But you’re not a real ___

Oct 18th, 2014 10:30 am | By

Kenana Malik told a poignant little anecdote in his talk on multiculturalism at the Secular Conference last weekend.

The Danish MP Naser Khader tells of a conversation with Toger Seidenfaden, editor of Politiken, a left-wing Danish newspaper that was highly critical of the Danish cartoons. Seidenfaden claimed that ‘the cartoons insulted all Muslims’. Khader responded that ‘I am not insulted’. ‘But you’re not a real Muslim’, was Seidenfaden’s response.

Ahhh, not real. So to be “real Muslim” you have to be offended by the Danish cartoons. So a real Muslim = someone who is offended by the cartoons. So the core of being a Muslim becomes [the state of being offended by the cartoons]. It’s no longer an … Read the rest

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Where loyalty extends only in one direction

Oct 17th, 2014 6:37 pm | By

I knew it. Except it’s worse than I thought. Or it’s as bad as I thought but was only surmising.

The NFL, and women who are beaten up by their football player husbands.

Whenever Dewan Smith-Williams sees Janay Rice on television, she feels like she’s looking into a mirror. Smith-Williams, 44, remembers the denial, the secrecy, the sense of isolation, the shame.

But most of all, she remembers the fear of ruining her husband’s career as a National Football League player — the feeling that coming forth, or seeking justice, would destroy her four children’s financial security. She understands that struggle not only because she, too, was a domestic-violence victim, but because she watched so many other NFL

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Trafficked into slavery in a cellar

Oct 17th, 2014 6:07 pm | By

A millionaire Salford couple kept a girl in their cellar as a slave for nine years. The BBC reports.

A deaf girl from Pakistan kept as a slave for nine years by a millionaire couple from Salford is to receive £100,000 in compensation.

Ilyas and Tallat Ashar were jailed last October after the girl was found in their cellar in 2009.

The victim was repeatedly raped and forced to work as a servant at the family’s properties as a child.

Manchester Crown Court ruled the couple must also repay £42,000 of benefits falsely claimed in her name.

Oh she was raped, too. That’s nice – that’s a nice touch.

She was ten when she was trafficked into the UK. TenRead the rest

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Good news, if it can be believed

Oct 17th, 2014 4:07 pm | By

News from Nigeria, which the BBC indicates should be received with caution.

Nigeria’s military says it has agreed a ceasefire with Islamist militants Boko Haram – and that the schoolgirls the group has abducted will be released.

Nigeria’s chief of defence staff, Alex Badeh, announced the truce. Boko Haram has not made a public statement.

A cease-fire? It’s hard to see how Nigeria can agree such a thing without simply letting Boko Haram go ahead and kill hundreds of people whenever the mood takes it.

But if the schoolgirls are released, that would be a very good thing.

The group has been fighting an insurgency since 2009, with some 2,000 civilians reportedly killed this year.

Oh shut up, BBC … Read the rest

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The gilded life

Oct 17th, 2014 3:44 pm | By

It can be so enlightening checking in on Taslima’s tweets. She appears to be in New York at the moment, and is reporting on her adventures. She didn’t much like the 9/11 memorial and especially not the gift shop.

See 9/11 business! Selling tear-jerking 9/11 cards, books, mugs, shirts, ties, toys, bags, boxers etc.

I would have found this part too painful to look at for long.

So many ppl had to die for fucking belief in a fucking god which doesn’t exist.

But her best discovery was several hours before the visit to the memorial.

OMG Saudi king Abdullah gifted a gold toilet to his daughter on her marriage. But the poor girl was married to a man

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Community nonconsensual fondling

Oct 17th, 2014 1:14 pm | By

Josephine Woolington at the Oregon newspaper the Register-Guard writes about a research finding that students at fraternities and sororities report a higher incidence of nonconsensual contact.

Nearly 40 percent of women in UO sororities said in a survey that they have experienced an attempted or completed rape and 48 percent said they experienced some kind of non­consensual sexual contact, according to the survey conducted by UO professor and sexual violence expert Jennifer Freyd, along with graduate students Marina Rosenthal and Carly Smith.

Men in fraternities also were more likely to have experienced some form of non­consensual sexual contact compared with other students, but were not more likely to have experienced an attempted or completed rape. About 26 percent of

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Oct 17th, 2014 12:38 pm | By

One Utah state representative thinks Sarkeesian “overreacted” to the vivid detailed death threats she got before her scheduled talk at Utah State university.

“It’s totally up to her; if she’s fearful, that’s her prerogative,” said Rep. Curtis Oda, R-Clearfield, in response to Anita Sarkeesian’s decision to bow out of her address. But Oda added, “I think she’s overreacting.”

The state representative, who is pro-gun rights off and on campus, called gun permit holders—who can legally carry—“a group that is probably the most law-abiding out there.”

Even if that’s true, it’s not relevant. Here’s why. The issue isn’t what the average Utah gun permit holder is likely to do. The issue is what someone who makes a frothing-with-hatred threat to shoot … Read the rest

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Vitriol damage

Oct 17th, 2014 12:01 pm | By

The New York Times has coverage of the threats against Sarkeesian and the broader campaign of hatred against women by a faction of gamers.

The threats against Ms. Sarkeesian are the most noxious example of a weekslong campaign to discredit or intimidate outspoken critics of the male-dominated gaming industry and its culture.

The instigators of the campaign are allied with a broader movement that has rallied around the Twitter hashtag #GamerGate, a term adopted by those who see ethical problems among game journalists and political correctness in their coverage. The more extreme threats, though, seem to be the work of a much smaller faction and aimed at women. Major game companies have so far mostly tried to steer clear of

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Guest post: A guaranteed way to get downvoted into oblivion

Oct 17th, 2014 11:32 am | By

Originally a comment by Michael Raymer on Women are stealing all the safe spaces.

I don’t understand this concept that in order for a space to be “safe” for men, women have to feel unsafe in it. It seems rational that spaces which are more inclusive are actually safer for everyone. What these gamers really want is a “boy’s club” where they can spout vitriolic misogyny and never get called out for it.

It’s depressing to me since it’s yet another community that I once identified with and now feel almost ashamed to be associated with (the other, of course, being atheism).

I’ve been playing video games for longer than I’ve been an atheist, for over twenty years. Yet … Read the rest

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Up to 140 million girls and women

Oct 17th, 2014 10:50 am | By

The first official figures on FGM cases seen by UK hospitals have been published. There have been 1,700 since April.

The public health minister, Jane Ellison, who pushed for the data to be collected, hailed the move. “We know FGM devastates lives but understanding the scale of the problem is essential to tackling it effectively,” she said.

“That is why, for the first time ever, hospitals are reporting information on FGM – a major milestone on the road to ending FGM in one generation here in the UK. This data will help us care for women who have had FGM, and prevent more girls from having to suffer this traumatic experience.”

An estimated 137,000 women and girls in

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Stuck-up prude slut hos

Oct 16th, 2014 6:32 pm | By

From a long piece in the Atlantic by Hana Rosin about high school kids sexting:

Studies on high-school kids’ general attitudes about sexting turn up what you’d expect—that is, the practice inspires a maddening, ancient, crude double standard. Researchers from the University of Michigan recently surveyed a few dozen teenagers in urban areas. Boys reported receiving sexts from girls “I know I can get it from” and said that sexting is “common only for girls with slut reputations.” But the boys also said that girls who don’t sext are “stuck up” or “prude.”

The boys themselves, on the other hand, were largely immune from criticism, whether they sexted or not.

Sometimes in Louisa County, between interviews, I hung out

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A classic

Oct 16th, 2014 5:21 pm | By

Ever seen the movie Lone Star? I did a Facebook post about it this morning by way of noting what a bad thing it is that Elizabeth Peña has died. I said (truthfully) that it’s a great movie, possibly Sayles’s best, and to my surprise a lot of people came along to echo that thought. One said it’s his favorite movie, another said a friend considers it the best American movie of all time.

Wo – I thought it was an obscure favorite peculiar to me, but no. So why isn’t it shown on tv all the time?

Here are a few scenes on Siskel and Ebert:

// the rest

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Women are stealing all the safe spaces

Oct 16th, 2014 5:10 pm | By

David Futrelle shares with us four absurd rationalizations about the threats against Anita Sarkeesian.

One boils down to: “Hey men are fucked up because of feminism so women should THANK US for giving fucked up men a safe space where they won’t be killing women all the time. Gaming is one of those safe spaces – or was, until women started trying to shove their whorey way in. So watch out because if they don’t stop it’s going to get bloody!”

As many commenters pointed out, men actually seem to have an abundance of safe spaces.

Another said that another Marc Lépine would be…a terrible thing for men.

But the best one said it was those god damn … Read the rest

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