All entries by this author

What message that sends out to children and adults

Aug 11th, 2015 9:36 am | By

I found something.

A Facebook group, Let Clothes Be Clothes.

Down with gender-separated clothes.

Let Clothes be Clothes is asking retailers in the UK to rethink how they design and market children’s clothing. Just like many of our supporters, we’re concerned about how colours, styles and themes are split into for girls or for boys, and what message that sends out to children and adults. Children should decide their own interests, favourite colours and wear the styles they find most comfortable and enjoyable to wear.

Please send us your photographs, petition links and blog posts, and help us promote a more positive culture that offers a full range of options to every child, encourages gender equality, prevents bullying and

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Blood coming out of her wherever

Aug 11th, 2015 9:01 am | By

Good lord. Credulity defied yet again. Donald Trump’s idea of a good way to respond to persistent questions from a tv news presenter who has the bad taste to be a woman is to talk about her bleeding all over everything.

Trump is under fire for saying Friday night that [Megyn] Kelly, who pressed him on his previous attacks on women during Thursday night’s GOP presidential debate, had “blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her — wherever.”

Yeah that’s women for you – we’re just so damn wet and leaky. It’s gross.

The NY Times has more.

Megyn Kelly opened her Fox News program on Monday night by addressing the uproar overDonald

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Arrest them all

Aug 10th, 2015 5:37 pm | By

Arifur Rahman updates us on what Bangladesh is doing about the relentless attacks on secular bloggers.

Following the killing of Niloy, Bangladesh Olama League (a Islamist wing of Bangladesh Awami League, the party running the government now) have showed rage against Atheists openly in the capital. They then demanded law to be formed which will have provision of ‘Death Penalty’ for Atheistic writings. Among many other inhumane demands, they wanted all blogs having Athiestic writing to be shut down.

And they’re getting what they want.

The chief of police in Dhaka said this:

At a press briefing at the Police Headquarters on Sunday, he also suggested notifying police if anyone’s blog was found to be offensive to religions.


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He stirs up trouble on the internet

Aug 10th, 2015 4:48 pm | By

News organizations keep asking women to go on debate shows with Milo Yiannopoulos. Last March Kate Smurthwaite wrote about what a terrible idea that is.

In the last week I’ve received over 1,700 nasty Twitter messages. Many of these messages have been retweeted and ‘favourited’ hundreds of times. I was going to print all the abuse out and hold it up for a photo to accompany this article. The document came out at 165 pages. To print my week’s abuse I’m going to have to buy a new printer cartridge.

You might assume that to provoke such a response I had said something deeply racist, incited rape or sexual violence or called for the death of a much-loved TV

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The “freethinkers” should keep in mind

Aug 10th, 2015 3:57 pm | By

You have got to be kidding.

The Times of India:

DHAKA: With four secular bloggers being killed by suspected Islamists in Bangladesh in recent months, police here have asked secular writers not to “cross the limit” and write anything which hurts religious beliefs of others.

“Do not cross the limit. Do not hurt anyone’s religious belief,” inspector general of police AKM Shahidul Hoque said as investigators struggled to nab the killers of secular blogger Niloy Chakrabarty Neel who was hacked to death at his flat here on Friday.

What “limit”? Religious belief covers a vast territory, and not hurting any possible variant of it requires not saying anything at all ever.

The “freethinkers” should keep in mind that hurting

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Aug 10th, 2015 3:03 pm | By

Here’s Shira Banki playing the piano in 2009, when she was ten, at the Ron Shulamit Music School in Jerusalem.

This is the girl the tall man with the huge knife stabbed to death at the Gay Pride Parade.

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You there!

Aug 10th, 2015 2:54 pm | By

No reason. I just thought I would.

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The Withdrawing Room

Aug 10th, 2015 1:48 pm | By

Harald Hanche-Olsen wisely reminded me to add a new Withdrawing Room, so here it is.

The Withdrawing Room, for new readers who don’t already know, is where you can talk about any random thing you feel like talking about. Nothing is off-topic because there is no topic. Nothing is a derail because there is no rail.

We have this whole big rambling website, with lots of rooms,  to play with, so I might move it somewhere else later, but for now it’s here.

Have a slice of the view from my window:

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That same day

Aug 10th, 2015 11:40 am | By

That same day in Jerusalem –

Hours after the stabbing at the gay parade, and in a separate incident, an 18-month-old Palestinian boy was killed in a firebombing attack on his family home early Friday morning that was attributed to right-wing Jewish extremists.

Unknown assailants, suspected to be extremist Jewish settlers, firebombed the home of a Palestinian family in the northern West Bank village of Duma, killing the toddler. The parents and brother of Ali Saad Dawabsha were hospitalized and are still fighting for their lives.

Chairperson of the Zionist Union’s Knesset faction Merav Michaeli said she expected the government to tell lawmakers how it intends to curb the threat of Jewish terror attacks.

“The two terrible Jewish terror

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Shira Banki

Aug 10th, 2015 10:44 am | By

Shira Banki died on August 2.

She died of the stab wounds inflicted on her by a religious fanatic at Jerusalem’s Gay Pride parade three days before.

Stuart Winer at the Times of Israel has more.

Banki’s family said that their daughter was killed because of her tolerant views. They also indicated they place some blame on the police for not preventing the killer, Yishai Schlissel, an ultra-Orthodox Jew, from reaching the parade.

“Our wonderful Shira was murdered because of the fact that she was a happy 16-year-old girl, full of life and love, who came to support the rights of her friends and every person to live in their own way,” Banki’s family said in a statement. “For

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A housekeeping note

Aug 10th, 2015 9:28 am | By

Dear readers and especially commenters – ur-B&W has been pretty dormant for four years, so things are a little rusty.

Comments are sometimes slow to appear, but they do turn up.

It’s ok if you make a duplicate, I can just delete them. No worries.

It will take me awhile to oil all the joints.

Meanwhile, enjoy not having to see all those god damn ads!Read the rest

Just in time for the parade

Aug 10th, 2015 9:24 am | By

Ten days ago, at the Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem, a Haredi man stabbed six people, one of whom died a few days later.

A police spokesperson identified the suspect as the same man who stabbed three people at the parade in 2005.

Yishai Schlissel, an ultra-Orthodox Jew, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for that attack and was released from prison three weeks ago.

It’s too bad they released him from prison just in time for the parade. It’s also too bad they didn’t make sure he didn’t do it again.

The attacker emerged behind marchers and began stabbing them while screaming, before being tackled by a police officer.

Dramatic images showed the assailant reaching inside his

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Interjecting to inform you

Aug 9th, 2015 6:07 pm | By

Be sure to read this piece by Bruce Everett (author of many guest posts at B&W):

Mutation of concept

I’ll give you a sample, and you’ll be off like a shot to read the whole thing.

Concept: “You can’t expect people arguing from a position of disadvantage, in a discussion of said disadvantage, to adhere to lists of arbitrarily acceptable decorum, especially not when the list explicitly and prejudicially excludes mention of some of the very concepts they need to express.”


Concept: “For too long, people in positions of relative power have defined the

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See the moral panic swell and grow

Aug 9th, 2015 4:28 pm | By

This is how ridiculous the panic and frenzy have become. It’s a little alarming how eagerly and fast people have sprinted over a cliff. This is a comment by Darlene Pineda on Jason Thibeault’s long, ugly, dishonest post about me on Thursday:

@Jason: She’s generally good only she’s done hurtful things and her growth as a person is being stymied by her needing to be right rather than being fair to all parties and accepting criticism.

Most people are. Generally good, that is. They don’t around kicking puppies, for example. They generally think people should be treated fairly.

But when they think some people should be treated more fairly than others, that’s when that whole “generally good” stuff breaks down.

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Their divinely-mandated duty

Aug 9th, 2015 12:34 pm | By

A blogger on the plight of secular bloggers in Bangladesh:

Again! Again, murderous violence against a secular, atheist blogger by vile, despicable Islamic extremists in Bangladesh!

The shocking news brought a sense of overwhelming numbness that altogether masked my usual emotional reactions at such news – bitter sadness, frustration and impotent rage, and eventually resigned acceptance. This was the fifth such incident since February 2013 – a secular blogger violently cut down in his prime for daring to express his views championing secular humanism, science and rationality; Rajiv Haidar, Avijit Roy, Washiqur Rahman, Ananta Bijoy Das, and now, Niloy Chatterjee – popularly known by his pen-name, ‘Niloy Neel’. Another such blogger, Asif Mohiuddin, had thankfully survived being stabbed in

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Questions about their thyroid health from strangers

Aug 9th, 2015 11:41 am | By

Olga Khazan in The Atlantic on how much money women have to squander on having a socially acceptable face. (Talk about cisnormative…)

The cosmetics industry makes $60 billion each year. The personal-finance site Mint claims the average woman will spend $15,000 on the stuff in her lifetime. It also costs time. My weekday morning makeup routine takes 10 minutes. That’s roughly an hour per week, or two full days per year. Last year, the Today show pegged this number even higher, at two weeks per year per woman.

Lucky me! That’s ten extra minutes I have each day to spend on saying random things on Facebook.

That’s just me though.

It’s true that some women never wear makeup for various

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Listen to the

Aug 9th, 2015 10:32 am | By

Helen Lewis says we need a word for the kind of idea that’s good if used sparingly but otherwise toxic; she suggests “alcopinion.”

In the recent debates about Amnesty International changing its policy on prostitution, we’ve heard a lot of one particular alcopinion: to fight our way through the legal, ethical and safety concerns, the answer is simple – we should ignore everyone else and “listen to sex workers”.

Those pushing this line present the current debate as a straightforward dichotomy: on one side are sex workers, an apparently homogenous group who want decriminalisation of both sides of a sexual transaction.

On the other side are Lena Dunham, Meryl Streep and assorted actresses who signed a letter to Amnesty saying

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Plato at the RoveOPlex

Aug 8th, 2015 5:59 pm | By

Via Quantum Activist on Facebook:

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Just often enough to make things awkward

Aug 8th, 2015 5:53 pm | By

Vanessa Vitiello Urquhart wrote a piece for Slate in April about “the shifting, porous border between butch and trans.

Butch women aren’t men—except for the ones who transition to male, which happens just often enough to make things awkward for everyone involved. It’s awkward for fellow butches who feel strongly that they are not men, for trans men who seek to distinguish themselves from masculine women, and for butches whose understanding of themselves evolves in ways they hadn’t expected it to—each group challenges the self conception of the others. Many masculine women remain happily within the female gender for their entire lives and experience no discernable dysphoria. However, there are also butches who experience discomfort with their female

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The one and the many

Aug 8th, 2015 12:49 pm | By

A friend of mine observed that many people need enemies and will create them if they can’t find them. True. I’m one of those people myself. I try to make abstractions the enemy, rather than people, but it doesn’t always work.

It’s not that simple, usually. Often people are promoting or imposing an enemy abstraction, so the two become difficult to separate. The systems that oppress us are created and enforced by people, so it’s hard to resist or reform them without resisting or trying to reform people. (People don’t always take kindly to being reformed. Have you noticed that? I have. I don’t take kindly to it myself. It depends how it’s done, of course.)

I don’t have a … Read the rest