Steps to expunge the award

Apr 20th, 2021 4:15 pm | By

He burned them.

Professor Richard Dawkins has been stripped of an award by the American Humanist Association, after the organisation said his statements on transgender rights “demean marginalised groups”.

Voting to withdraw a 1996 “humanist of the year award”, the AHA said that the evolutionary biologist and author of The God Delusion was no longer “an exemplar of humanist values” after his tweets appeared to question whether people can choose their gender.

Or, rather, their sex.

Dawkins, 80, claimed that the loss of the award would have little practical effect on him because he had never used it. “Apparently the honour hadn’t meant enough to me to be worth recording in my CV,” he said.

That’s the burn. Not bad.

“In 2015, Rachel Dolezal, a white chapter president of NAACP, was vilified for identifying as black,” he said on April 11. “Some men choose to identify as women, and some women choose to identify as men. You will be vilified if you deny that they literally are what they identify as. Discuss.”

See? He didn’t say “gender.” He also didn’t say “sex,” but he didn’t need to. His point is that “identifying as” something is different from actually being that something. It’s not a magic phrase that can transform anyone into anything. We see the absurdity if an adult says “I identify as an excessively large container ship,” but we’re supposed to pretend we don’t see it if an adult claims to “identify as” the other sex. (Unless of course the adult in question is a TERF. They are not allowed to avail themselves of identifying as privilege.)

Dawkins said that he had accepted the decision of the AHA and taken steps to expunge the award. “Thinking to do my duty by deleting the entry, I opened up my CV,” he said. “Only to discover that there was nothing to delete.”

Slap some ice on that burn.

On all charges

Apr 20th, 2021 2:46 pm | By

That’s a relief, anyway.

Relief is all it is. The horror remains.

Serial trolling from 2014

Apr 20th, 2021 11:45 am | By

Heh this one is funny to me if no one else.

I had to look up the dates to make sure: that July 28 1914 2014 pair is the one he perpetrated two days after he co-signed with me that truce-thing saying let’s agree to disagree without abusing each other. He co-signed it with me and posted it on his blog. I wrote it and asked him to co-sign it with me because a hell of a lot of aggressively misogynist men had been exercising their aggression on women and a lot of those men were big fans of his. I had to laugh when he tweeted “go away and learn how to think” just two days later. Not exactly in the spirit of let’s decide to disagree without being abusive.

Here it is:

It’s not news that allies can’t always agree on everything. People who rely on reason rather than dogma to think about the world are bound to disagree about some things.

Disagreement is inevitable, but bullying and harassment are not. If we want secularism and atheism to gain respect, we have to be able to disagree with each other without trying to destroy each other.

In other words we have to be able to manage disagreement ethically, like reasonable adults, as opposed to brawling like enraged children who need a nap. It should go without saying, but this means no death threats, rape threats, attacks on people’s appearance, age, race, sex, size, haircut; no photoshopping people into demeaning images, no vulgar epithets.

Richard adds: I’m told that some people think I tacitly endorse such things even if I don’t indulge in them. Needless to say, I’m horrified by that suggestion. Any person who tries to intimidate members of our community with threats or harassment is in no way my ally and is only weakening the atheist movement by silencing its voices and driving away support. 

I had to laugh, but it was frustrating, too.

But the American Humanist Association is dead wrong. I’m not going to send them rape threats or photoshop them into demeaning images, but I am going to say they’re wrong.

Speaking of reputation damage…

Apr 20th, 2021 10:00 am | By

People are losing their shit because this happened.

This creepy guy for instance:

Creepy guy four days ago:

In other words, according to him, we need to bully and harass and ostracize women MORE for not agreeing that men can be women by saying so.

It’s not a hate group though.

Guest post: In understanding and analyzing any claim

Apr 20th, 2021 8:09 am | By

Originally a comment by Sastra on You may not question.

Are you anti questions?


What is “gender?” What is the meaning of the word “gender” in the phrase “gender identity?”

How are you defining “man” and “woman?” What is the difference between a man and woman?

What would falsify the existence of an innate gender identity present from birth?

Why does gender identity outweigh the cumulative effect of DNA, chromosomes, gametes, genitals, and hormones in the womb?

What would change your mind?

I consider these type of questions to be critical in understanding and analyzing any claim, including the claims TRAs are making. They’re basic to both philosophy and science. But the above are known as “JAQing off” — “Just Asking Questions” in a way designed to obscure and detract from the real issue. The real issue, you see, is PEOPLE JUST TRYING TO LIVE THEIR LIVES WHY DO YOU HATE THEM SO MUCH????

Ironically, the major complaint made against Richard Dawkins wasn’t Dear Muslima, Clockboy, or anti-trans statements which Removed the Humanity of Marginalized People. . It was that he was trying to prevent people from getting the meaning and comfort of religion. He didn’t understand theology; he didn’t realize how belief in God is a key component of the identity of the religious; he really needed to just sit down and talk to Believers, so he might understand that understanding religion wasn’t about o-so-clever arguments and questions, but how the religious find meaning and purpose and understanding in their lives. Dawkins the atheist needed to Educate Himself.

Till then, he was just being ignorant and mean.

Not July

Apr 20th, 2021 8:04 am | By

It turned abruptly abnormally hot and dry here a week ago. And…

It’s another sunny cloudless smoggy day out there.

You may not question

Apr 20th, 2021 5:57 am | By

Reactions to the American Humanist Association’s shunning of Dawkins are not universally admiring.

Aurat Azadi

Apr 19th, 2021 5:35 pm | By

Al Jazeera reports:

Pakistani police have registered a blasphemy case against organisers of the feminist Aurat Azadi [Women’s Freedom] March in a northwestern city, while a court in the country’s second city dismissed the same charges as having no grounds.

Police in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar registered the First Information Report (FIR) under the country’s strict blasphemy laws, which can carry a mandatory death penalty, on Thursday.

So Pakistan may kill some women for organizing a women’s march. That’s a pretty thought.

In a statement, organisers of the march, which is held annually to mark International Women’s Day on March 8, condemned the allegations as “baseless and false”.

“Since the March, women marchers have been met with countless death and rape threats including a leading newspaper, Daily Ummat, referring to [feminist] marchers as prostitutes and whores,” said the statement.

Because women are basically just vaginas, so if they step out of line, the only thing to call them is whores. They don’t have minds, hopes, dreams, plans, ideas, thoughts, sorrows, needs, projects – they just have holes, there for the use of men. If they try to use any other part of their bodies they must be called whores.

This week, the far-right Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) party has held days of violent protests across Pakistan on the issue of blasphemy, demanding the French ambassador be expelled over comments by French President Emmanuel Macron last year that were perceived to be “blasphemous”.

Allah is a fiction and Mohammed has been dead for 14 centuries. Move the fuck on already.

An important aspect of advancing the cause of humanism

Apr 19th, 2021 5:13 pm | By

The American Humanist Association has put Dawkins on the naughty step.

Established in 1953, the Humanist of the Year Award is conferred annually by the American Humanist Association (AHA), recognizing the awardee as an exemplar of humanist values. Communication of scientific concepts to the public is an important aspect of advancing the cause of humanism. Richard Dawkins was honored in 1996 by the AHA as Humanist of the Year for his significant contributions in this area.

Regrettably, Richard Dawkins has over the past several years accumulated a history of making statements that use the guise of scientific discourse to demean marginalized groups, an approach antithetical to humanist values.

Like women for instance? Dear Muslima? Like the schoolboy from a family of Muslim immigrants he taunted as “Clock Boy”? Or…?

His latest statement implies that the identities of transgender individuals are fraudulent, while also simultaneously attacking Black identity as one that can be assumed when convenient. His subsequent attempts at clarification are inadequate and convey neither sensitivity nor sincerity.

Women, meh, powerless schoolboys, meh, but identities – now that’s some serious shit.

Consequently, the AHA Board has concluded that Richard Dawkins is no longer deserving of being honored by the AHA, and has voted to withdraw, effective immediately, the 1996 Humanist of the Year award.

I’m not sure I think that’s a good move, but if I did, I would still wonder why women and schoolkids don’t merit such a move but identities do.

Vaccination cetacean

Apr 19th, 2021 4:59 pm | By

Aww I’m jealous.

I can’t complain though. Where I got mine is normally a sitting area with a coffee/snack bar (closed for vax days), with a two-story glass wall on one side, so not at all a bad place for the 15 minute wait afterwards.

Still…Under the Whale…

The real Margaret Sanger

Apr 19th, 2021 12:33 pm | By

I might have known – Katha Pollitt was already on it, way back last August.

I admit I took it a bit personally when Planned Parenthood of Greater New York took the name of the organization’s founder, Margaret Sanger, off its flagship clinic in Manhattan in July. It will now be called Manhattan Health Center. What am I supposed to do now with the two Planned Parenthood Maggie Awards I’ve won for articles on reproductive rights?

Call herself Karen, I guess.

Whether erasing Sanger was an olive branch to Black staffers or part of a deeper self-investigation, there’s no question that the main winners here are abortion opponents. For decades, they’ve claimed that Sanger was a racist bent on Black genocide and that Planned Parenthood is carrying out that mission today. In 2016, Planned Parenthood released a historically accurate, fair, and complex statement refuting that absurd claim, but why would anyone pay attention to that now?

Never mind that the anti-choice movement has never done a thing for Black people and, like Sanger’s old enemy the Catholic hierarchy, is closely allied with racist institutions like the Republican Party and white evangelical Protestantism. The bogus anti-racism of the self-described pro-life movement was on full display in 2011, when billboards appeared picturing an adorable Black child with the caption “The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb.” In other words: The biggest danger to Black people is pregnant Black women. It is truly painful that this canard about Sanger has now been given a stamp of approval by the very organization she founded.

For the record, Margaret Sanger was not a racist, as PPGNY board chairman Karen Seltzer asserts. As her biographer Ellen Chesler told me, she was a progressive who believed in racial integration. She voted for Norman Thomas. She worked with progressive Black people—W.E.B. Du Bois, for example, who along with Mary McCleod Bethune and Adam Clayton Powell Sr. served on the board of the Negro Project, a network of birth control and maternal health clinics Sanger established in Harlem and the South. In 1966, Martin Luther King accepted Planned Parenthood’s first Margaret Sanger Award, and in his statement offered a vigorous endorsement of voluntary birth control.

Funny how Alexis McGill Johnson didn’t mention all that in her Times op ed trashing Sanger.

I’ll just come right out and say it: Margaret Sanger did more good for American women than any other individual in the entire 20th century. She is the person who connected birth control not just to women’s health—something the Catholic Church has yet to grasp, although it controls one in seven US hospital beds—but also to our self-determination and sexual freedom. She was the key leader who really grasped the fact that without the ability to control our own bodies, women would never be free or equal or even just happy and well. She was more than a writer, an activist, a health provider, and an organizer, though she was all those things. She was a whirlwind of energy who changed our understanding of womanhood, sex, and marriage so fundamentally, we can barely picture what life was like before her.

There are so many ways of forgetting where we have been. Planned Parenthood has just made doing so a little easier.

Thank you Katha.

Systemic racism, properly understood…

Apr 19th, 2021 9:53 am | By

So should we read that “barn-burner” letter that Bari Weiss is so excited about? Sure.

He The author addresses fellow Brearley parents to say why he’s taking his daughter out of the school. It’s because it’s not good enough.

It cannot be stated strongly enough that Brearley’s obsession with race must stop. It should be abundantly clear to any thinking parent that Brearley has completely lost its way. The administration and the Board of Trustees have displayed a cowardly and appalling lack of leadership by appeasing an anti-intellectual, illiberal mob, and then allowing the school to be captured by that same mob. What follows are my own personal views on Brearley’s antiracism initiatives, but these are just a handful of the criticisms that I know other parents have expressed. 

I object to the view that I should be judged by the color of my skin.

Oh here we go – it’s the old “I don’t see color” thing. The trouble with white people saying they don’t see color is that of course they don’t, because they don’t have to. It doesn’t follow that everyone else is in the same boat.

I cannot tolerate a school that not only judges my daughter by the color of her skin, but encourages and instructs her to prejudge others by theirs. By viewing every element of education, every aspect of history, and every facet of society through the lens of skin color and race, we are desecrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and utterly violating the movement for which such civil rights leaders believed, fought, and died. 

Blah blah blah. It’s always King and it always misunderstands him. King was not the only civil rights activist on the scene, and it’s kind of telling that barn-burning white people seem to think he was.

I object to the charge of systemic racism in this country, and at our school. Systemic racism, properly understood, is segregated schools and separate lunch counters.

Ah, “properly understood” according to this one guy, who clearly knows nothing about it. Segregated schools still exist, and there is a lot more to systemic racism than segregated schools and separate lunch counters. Take a look at prison population statistics for example. Take a look at patterns of sentencing. Take a look at wealth, and who has more of it, and why.

It is the interning of Japanese and the exterminating of Jews. Systemic racism is unequivocally not a small number of isolated incidences over a period of decades.

Small number? Isolated instances? (Or incidents. He meant one of those. He didn’t mean “incidences.”) They’re not small and not isolated. What makes him think he could even know that? Does he think they all get reported in the news media and that he sees all the reporting? He can’t think that, surely, because it would be so stupid…but that ridiculous assertion seems to indicate that he does.

We have not had systemic racism against Blacks in this country since the civil rights reforms of the 1960s, a period of more than 50 years.

Does he even know that some of those reforms have now been reversed thanks to Republicans in Congress and on the Supreme Court? Like a key part of the Voting Rights Act for instance?

And does he think all systemic racism just vanished in the wake of the reforms? Just bam, they’re gone? Because that’s not how it works, and it’s not how it did work.

There’s a lot more in the same vein. It may be that Brearley’s training is badly done, irritating, condescending, mistaken in parts; I don’t know, because I don’t know anything about it. But Mister Barnburner is objecting to the whole idea, and to the underlying acknowledgement that racism didn’t melt into air in 1965. I guess that’s why Bari Weiss is so pleased with him?

Whose barn is being torched?

Apr 19th, 2021 9:23 am | By

Andrew Sullivan is stirring the pot again.

So, it’s a defamatory lie, but here I am saying it again.

Another day at the office

Apr 19th, 2021 8:55 am | By

No biggy, just a little drone flight on MARS.

Monday, NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter became the first aircraft in history to make a powered, controlled flight on another planet. The Ingenuity team at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California confirmed the flight succeeded after receiving data from the helicopter via NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover at 6:46 a.m. EDT (3:46 a.m. PDT).

“Ingenuity is the latest in a long and storied tradition of NASA projects achieving a space exploration goal once thought impossible,” said acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk. “The X-15 was a pathfinder for the space shuttle. Mars Pathfinder and its Sojourner rover did the same for three generations of Mars rovers. We don’t know exactly where Ingenuity will lead us, but today’s results indicate the sky – at least on Mars – may not be the limit.”

The solar-powered helicopter first became airborne at 3:34 a.m. EDT (12:34 a.m. PDT) – 12:33 Local Mean Solar Time (Mars time) – a time the Ingenuity team determined would have optimal energy and flight conditions. Altimeter data indicate Ingenuity climbed to its prescribed maximum altitude of 10 feet (3 meters) and maintained a stable hover for 30 seconds. It then descended, touching back down on the surface of Mars after logging a total of 39.1 seconds of flight. Additional details on the test are expected in upcoming downlinks.

It’s kind of like the Wright brothers only more so.

NASA Associate Administrator for Science Thomas Zurbuchen announced the name for the Martian airfield on which the flight took place.

“Now, 117 years after the Wright brothers succeeded in making the first flight on our planet, NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter has succeeded in performing this amazing feat on another world,” Zurbuchen said. “While these two iconic moments in aviation history may be separated by time and 173 million miles of space, they now will forever be linked. As an homage to the two innovative bicycle makers from Dayton, this first of many airfields on other worlds will now be known as Wright Brothers Field, in recognition of the ingenuity and innovation that continue to propel exploration.”

It’s like the Wright Brothers in the sense that the flights were short.

When we focus too narrowly on “women’s health”

Apr 19th, 2021 7:13 am | By

We’re not the only ones.

It’s the wrong 50%, you see.

Planned disappearance of women

Apr 18th, 2021 6:11 pm | By

The head of Planned Parenthood, in the New York Times yesterday, breast-beating over the racism of Margaret Sanger:

What we don’t want to be, as an organization, is a Karen. You know Karen: She escalates small confrontations because of her own racial anxiety. She calls the manager. She calls the police. She stands with other white parents to maintain school segregation.

No, I don’t know Karen. What I know is this stupid new trick of blaming women for things like racism and pasting belittling nicknames on us at the same time. What I know is this filthy habit of throwing women overboard and patting yourself on the back for doing it. Planned Parenthood can go fuck itself.

And then there are the organizational Karens. The groups who show up, assert themselves, and tell you where to march. Those who pursue freedom and fairness, but also leverage their privilege in ways that are dehumanizing.

So groups are Karens? So women are to blame for everything?

And sometimes, that’s how Planned Parenthood has acted. By privileging whiteness, we’ve contributed to America harming Black women and other women of color. And when we focus too narrowly on “women’s health,” we have excluded trans and nonbinary people.

Wo. That’s a kick in the face. What’s with the scare quotes? Is women’s health a joke now? Is it a stupid mistake? Is it something that doesn’t exist? What is it doing in scare quotes?

And what the hell do they mean “too narrowly”? Women get to have some things for themselves! That’s the whole point. Women are generally treated as an afterthought and given scraps after all the good stuff has been allotted to men; we are allowed to have some things for ourselves.

As the nation’s leading provider of sexual and reproductive health care with a presence in 50 states, Planned Parenthood has an obligation to change how we operate. We must take up less space, and lend more support. And we must put our time, energy, and resources into fights that advance an agenda other than our own.

Bye, wims, sucks to be you!

Will they regret?

Apr 18th, 2021 3:19 pm | By

There’s a lot of chat about an Observer article by Rowan Moore, an architecture critic who writes for the Guardian, and his trans son Felix. The latter is annoyed with people who don’t entirely agree that some people are born in the wrong bodies.

Rowan Moore You experience many emotions when your child comes out as transgender. You want to support them but you also feel doubt: is this for real? Have they caught this off the internet? Will they make irrevocable choices that they will regret? You will discover that your child is not who you thought they were, which might shock you, although I’d say that this is something every parent should go through as their children become adults. You might have conflicts (we did) about the best courses of action.

I should think there are other questions a parent wonders about, questions about love and sex, marriage and children, the future, the distant future. It’s all very well to have the Enlightened Ones on your side, but is that really going to make up for all the likely bumps in the road? Even if every single person on the planet thinks it’s brilliant fun to change sex and heroic to boot, the bumps are still there.

So I understand the anxieties that cisgender people like myself sometimes have. But the parent also discovers more about what it is to be trans, how much seriousness and commitment it takes. It is not easy to start dressing to suit your chosen gender, to endure strange looks and possible hostility, to go into the relevant public toilets, to tell family and friends, to persuade people to use your name and pronouns, to undergo medical evaluations, to endure the increasing number of obstacles and delays that lie between you and medical attention.

Maybe not, but what about what’s easy or not easy for everyone else? What about all the social aspects? The trans idea is so solipsistic, as if each trans person operated in a world where other people just don’t matter, except when they’re applauding the heroic trans person.

All of which takes place over years (it’s been more than seven since Felix came out to his immediate family). And then, hopefully, parents see their trans children grow more comfortable in their skin, more confident about who they are. Neither parent nor child might ever know for certain if the “right” choice has been made, or if things might have been different in other circumstances, but such uncertainties are surely part of life in general.

Sure they are, but life in general doesn’t always include drastic moves like stopping puberty or amputating body parts.

Space does not allow us to address all of these issues in detail, but Felix and I have picked out some of the more significant themes from recent debates, and address them below. We have tried to show how these questions look if you take into account the humanity of trans people. Being trans is not something you can take off and put on like clothes, or put on hold while others discuss the rights and wrongs of your situation. It is part of who you are. Many commentators on trans issues don’t seem to understand that.

No, I don’t understand it, because it seems meaningless to me. “Part of who you are” is just jargon. It’s also not clear how Moore knows that being trans is not something you can take off and put on like clothes. Is it never that? If it’s never that then what does “gender fluid” mean? If it’s never that why are there so many more girls who identify as trans than there were ten years ago? Does the fact that something is “part of who you are” mean that it’s a good thing and must be clung to? In all cases? No matter what? Being an asshole is part of what some people are; so what? Much better they should get rid of that part than their sexual equipment.

Later on in the piece Rowan Moore talks about Maya Forstater, and tells some startling lies about her, claiming she repeatedly says things on social media that she has never said on social media.

It’s almost as if the rules are different for women as opposed to trans people.

“We do not tolerate…”

Apr 18th, 2021 10:00 am | By

Student Maxwell Meyer wrote in the Stanford Review a couple of weeks ago:

When I moved back to Stanford last week for the first time in over a year, I grinned almost childishly when I saw the Hufflepuff name-tag on my door. For all that’s strange about campus during the pandemic, it was nice to see my new dorm continue the Stanford tradition of each house choosing a fun theme: “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.”

Uh oh. We know that can’t end well.

As it turns out, choosing a beloved children’s fantasy series as a theme for a college dorm in 2021 is dangerous territory. Being well-versed in the ways of the woke, I admit that I should have seen it coming. But I did not, and was completely floored when student staff read the following statement during our first virtual house meeting:

“We want to acknowledge that J.K. Rowling has made many transphobic, anti-semitic, and racist statements over the past year. Her beliefs do not reflect our values as a house, and we want to make it clear that we do not tolerate comments like hers in this dorm. Our theme… is intended to make this space safe and fun for you this quarter.”

The hell she has. She has said some things critical of the belief system that undergirds trans activism, but that doesn’t make her phobic. As far as I know the “anti-semitic and racist” bit is just a straight-up lie. Meyer points this out.

This brings me to the most chilling part of the house theme statement: the implied threat that if you don’t join the witch hunt, you’ll become the next target. “Her beliefs do not reflect our values as a house, and we want to make it clear that we do not tolerate comments like hers in this dorm.”

We weren’t asked whether J.K. Rowling’s beliefs reflect our values, we were told that they don’t. No examples of “comments like hers” were given, but we were still warned that they won’t be tolerated. Just what sorts of comments do they mean — perhaps the “anti-semitic and racist” ones that they made up?

Like J.K. Rowling, I believe in both equal rights for trans people and the reality of sex as a category. If that now constitutes thoughtcrime at Stanford,then I should probably start packing my bags.

Maybe just find a better dorm?

The Hippocratic what now?

Apr 18th, 2021 9:25 am | By

Loading the dice, episode ten billion.

The question is carefully shaped to elicit mostly “oppose.” The “transition-related” part is going to sound like mumble-mumble to most people. The question is carefully shaped to appear to ask people if they oppose denying medical care to trans people. It’s sly and manipulative and dishonest.

It’s not medical care at all. Some of it may be psychological care if you believe the story of what trans means, but it’s not medical. It’s not medical care to cut off healthy breasts or penises.

First do no harm.

It just almost doesn’t make any sense

Apr 18th, 2021 6:43 am | By

That “almost” is quite a good joke.

It makes sense in their terms though, because their terms are:


That’s all. It’s just No. The libertarian No, the tantrumming child No, the nihilist No. No you can’t put restrictions on us No you can’t make us get vaccinated No you can’t tell us this is a real virus No you can’t call this a pandemic No you can’t act to end the pandemic. No no no.