Notes and Comment Blog

Our short and pithy observations on the passing scene as it relates to the mission of Butterflies and Wheels. Woolly-headed or razor-sharp comments in the media, anti-rationalist rhetoric in books or magazines or overheard on the bus, it’s all grist to our mill. And sometimes we will hold forth on the basis of no inspiration at all beyond what happens to occur to us.

Guest post: A meta-history lesson on states’ rights

Nov 25th, 2014 1:35 pm | By

Originally a comment by freedmenspatrol on Guest post: A history lesson on states’ rights.

Kongstad, you’re dead on about neo-confederates and the actual confederates alike. The level of blatant hypocrisy in period texts about the issue gets pretty extreme.

When South Carolina finally staged the counterrevolution that it had threatened in one form or another for decades, they published a list of reasons for it. The document included this complaint:

The same article of the Constitution stipulates also for rendition by the several States of fugitives from justice from the other States.

The General Government, as the common agent, passed laws to carry into effect these stipulations of the States. For many years these laws were executed. But an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery, has led to a disregard of their obligations, and the laws of the General Government have ceased to effect the objects of the Constitution. The States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa, have enacted laws which either nullify the Acts of Congress or render useless any attempt to execute them. In many of these States the fugitive is discharged from service or labor claimed, and in none of them has the State Government complied with the stipulation made in the Constitution. The State of New Jersey, at an early day, passed a law in conformity with her constitutional obligation; but the current of anti-slavery feeling has led her more recently to enact laws which render inoperative the remedies provided by her own law and by the laws of Congress. In the State of New York even the right of transit for a slave has been denied by her tribunals; and the States of Ohio and Iowa have refused to surrender to justice fugitives charged with murder, and with inciting servile insurrection in the State of Virginia. Thus the constituted compact has been deliberately broken and disregarded by the non-slaveholding States, and the consequence follows that South Carolina is released from her obligation.

This from the same state that pioneered the theory that states could nullify federal law within their bounds whenever they felt like it. “States’ rights” was always a strategy employed for particular ends, chiefly the protection of slavery, and never an end in itself. Specifically, it was a strategy for preserving slavery in the minority section against a majoritarian threat to its continued existence. When Southerners had control of the national government, as they did almost constantly until March of 1861, they rarely cared much about limiting its power. Quite the opposite, so long as they considered slavery viable within the Union they were quite committed to extending that power.

In 1860, the state of Virginia was actually pursuing a Dred Scott style case that would have put before Roger Taney’s Supreme Court whether such a thing as a free state was even legally possible. They wanted to strike down New York’s law that slaves taken into the state in transit and resident there too long became free. If that went, then slaveholders would have gained the power to hold their human chattels indefinitely within the free states. At that point, the distinction between a free and slave jurisdiction became meaningless. But when Virginia decided that while it would not rush to join South Carolina and the rest for its own sake, it would rush to join the movement against suppressing the Deep South’s counterrevolution. That more or less killed interest in the lawsuit.

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

The pope rebukes Europe for not being hawt

Nov 25th, 2014 1:12 pm | By

Huh. Pope Cuddly went to Strasbourg to scold Europe for being too old and ugly.

Jeez. What about Mesopotamia?! What about the Rift Valley?!! Older and much older, so nyah.

Besides, does Mr Cuddly think he’s another Justin Bieber?

Pope Francis has warned that the world sees Europe as “somewhat elderly and haggard” during a speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

“Warned”? What does Mr Cuddly expect Europe to do about it? Botox? The knife?

At the European Parliament, he spoke of a need to reinvigorate Europe, describing the continent as a “grandmother, no longer fertile and vibrant” and saying it risked “slowly losing its own soul”.

Ooooooooh, that’s harsh. Why doesn’t he just call Europe a witch and be done with it?


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

Where all the homicides are justifiable

Nov 25th, 2014 10:47 am | By

Jamelle Bouie at Slate explains why “the simple fact is that the police can kill for almost any reason with little fear of criminal charges.”

It’s extremely rare for a police officer to face an indictment for a shooting, much less criminal punishment. “The FBI reported 410 justifiable homicides by law enforcement in 2012,” noted Talking Points Memo in an August story following the events in Ferguson, “The number of indictments appear to be minimal after a TPM review of available press reports.” And it’s not just shootings; earlier this year, Georgia police mistakenly raided a home and seriously injured a young child. Prosecutors convened a grand jury, and the grand jury voted against an indictment. “The drug investigation that led to these events was hurried, sloppy, and unfortunately not in accordance with the best practices and procedures,” wrote the grand jury in its decision. Still, no one from the police force was held accountable.

In other words the police are presumed innocent and then found innocent in almost all circumstances. Police conduct is protected by a very high wall indeed.

When you add this climate of legal deference to the particular circumstances of the grand jury trial—including McCullough’s reputation for supporting police officers, and his decision to avoid a recommendation for charges—the non-indictment was almost inevitable. Barring something extraordinary, Wilson was going to walk free. The judicial system as we’ve constructed it just isn’t equipped—or even willing—to hold officers accountable for shootings and other offenses. Or put differently, the simple fact is that the police can kill for almost any reason with little fear of criminal charges.

Which is to say this: It would have been powerful to see charges filed against Darren Wilson. At the same time, actual justice for Michael Brown—a world in which young men like Michael Brown can’t be gunned down without consequences—won’t come from the criminal justice system. Our courts and juries aren’t impartial arbiters—they exist inside society, not outside of it—and they can only provide as much justice as society is willing to give.

And that’s clearly just not very much.

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

What Frederick Douglass saw

Nov 25th, 2014 10:17 am | By

We read a couple of passages from Frederick Douglass’s Narrative recently. Let’s read some more from Frederick Douglass today.

Mr. Hopkins remained but a short time in the office of overseer. Why his career was so short, I do not know, but suppose he lacked the necessary severity to suit Colonel Lloyd. Mr. Hopkins was succeeded by Mr. Austin Gore, a man possessing, in an eminent degree, all those traits of character indispensable to what is called a first-rate overseer. Mr. Gore had served Colonel Lloyd, in the capacity of overseer, upon one of the out-farms, and had shown himself worthy of the high station of overseer upon the home or Great House Farm.

Mr. Gore was proud, ambitious, and persevering. He was artful, cruel, and obdurate. He was just the man for such a place, and it was just the place for such a man. It afforded scope for the full exercise of all his powers, and he seemed to be perfectly at home in it. He was one of those who could torture the slightest look, word, or gesture, on the part of the slave, into impudence, and would treat it accordingly. There must be no answering back to him; no explanation was allowed a slave, showing himself to have been wrongfully accused. Mr. Gore acted fully up to the maxim laid down by slaveholders,—”It is better that a dozen slaves should suffer under the lash, than that the overseer should be convicted, in the presence of the slaves, of having been at fault.”

Does that remind you of anything? Does it sound like anything in the news yesterday and today?

His savage barbarity was equalled only by the consummate coolness with which he committed the grossest and most savage deeds upon the slaves under his charge. Mr. Gore once undertook to whip one of Colonel Lloyd’s slaves, by the name of Demby. He had given Demby but few stripes, when, to get rid of the scourging, he ran and plunged himself into a creek, and stood there at the depth of his shoulders, refusing to come out. Mr. Gore told him that he would give him three calls, and that, if he did not come out at the third call, he would shoot him. The first call was given. Demby made no response, but stood his ground. The second and third calls were given with the same result. Mr. Gore then, without consultation or deliberation with any one, not even giving Demby an additional call, raised his musket to his face, taking deadly aim at his standing victim, and in an instant poor Demby was no more. His mangled body sank out of sight, and blood and brains marked the water where he had stood.

A thrill of horror flashed through every soul upon the plantation, excepting Mr. Gore. He alone seemed cool and collected. He was asked by Colonel Lloyd and my old master, why he resorted to this extraordinary expedient. His reply was, (as well as I can remember,) that Demby had become unmanageable. He was setting a dangerous example to the other slaves,—one which, if suffered to pass without some such demonstration on his part, would finally lead to the total subversion of all rule and order upon the plantation. He argued that if one slave refused to be corrected, and escaped with his life, the other slaves would soon copy the example; the result of which would be, the freedom of the slaves, and the enslavement of the whites. Mr. Gore’s defence was satisfactory. He was continued in his station as overseer upon the home plantation. His fame as an overseer went abroad. His horrid crime was not even submitted to judicial investigation. It was committed in the presence of slaves, and they of course could neither institute a suit, nor testify against him; and thus the guilty perpetrator of one of the bloodiest and most foul murders goes unwhipped of justice, and uncensured by the community in which he lives. Mr. Gore lived in St. Michael’s, Talbot county, Maryland, when I left there; and if he is still alive, he very probably lives there now; and if so, he is now, as he was then, as highly esteemed and as much respected as though his guilty soul had not been stained with his brother’s blood.

That’s our background.

I speak advisedly when I say this,—that killing a slave, or any colored person, in Talbot county, Maryland, is not treated as a crime, either by the courts or the community. Mr. Thomas Lanman, of St. Michael’s, killed two slaves, one of whom he killed with a hatchet, by knocking his brains out. He used to boast of the commission of the awful and bloody deed. I have heard him do so laughingly, saying, among other things, that he was the only benefactor of his country in the company, and that when others would do as much as he had done, we should be relieved of “the d——d niggers.”

That too is our background.

The wife of Mr. Giles Hicks, living but a short distance from where I used to live, murdered my wife’s cousin, a young girl between fifteen and sixteen years of age, mangling her person in the most horrible manner, breaking her nose and breastbone with a stick, so that the poor girl expired in a few hours afterward. She was immediately buried, but had not been in her untimely grave but a few hours before she was taken up and examined by the coroner, who decided that she had come to her death by severe beating. The offence for which this girl was thus murdered was this:—She had been set that night to mind Mrs. Hicks’s baby, and during the night she fell asleep, and the baby cried. She, having lost her rest for several nights previous, did not hear the crying. They were both in the room with Mrs. Hicks. Mrs. Hicks, finding the girl slow to move, jumped from her bed, seized an oak stick of wood by the fireplace, and with it broke the girl’s nose and breastbone, and thus ended her life. I will not say that this most horrid murder produced no sensation in the community. It did produce sensation, but not enough to bring the murderess to punishment. There was a warrant issued for her arrest, but it was never served. Thus she escaped not only punishment, but even the pain of being arraigned before a court for her horrid crime.

And one more:

Colonel Lloyd’s slaves were in the habit of spending a part of their nights and Sundays in fishing for oysters, and in this way made up the deficiency of their scanty allowance. An old man belonging to Colonel Lloyd, while thus engaged, happened to get beyond the limits of Colonel Lloyd’s, and on the premises of Mr. Beal Bondly. At this trespass, Mr. Bondly took offence, and with his musket came down to the shore, and blew its deadly contents into the poor old man.

That was then, and this is now.

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

Not appropriate to give explicit guidance on how to achieve discrimination

Nov 24th, 2014 6:08 pm | By

The Lawyers’ Secular Society on the Law Society’s withdrawal of its sharia guidance.

The Law Society has sent the LSS a letter which says:

We have reviewed our practice note on Sharia succession principles following your feedback, and that of our members and other stakeholders. Following this review, we have withdrawn the note and it will no longer be available through our website. We have no plans to amend or replace the note.

We are mindful of the criticism we received and we apologise.

You can read the full letter from the Law Society here and you can see their press release here.

Very good.

The sharia guidance contained provisions, at section 3.6, which explicitly discriminated against women, non-Muslims, adopted children and “illegitimate” children:

“The male heirs in most cases receive double the amount inherited by a female heir of the same class.”

“Non-Muslims may not inherit at all”

“…illegitimate and adopted children are not Sharia heirs”

The LSS’s objections to the practice note have been as follows:

  1. The Law Society had issued guidance on a subject outside of its remit (theology).
  2. The Law Society had given sharia, which is not only theology but which also has a very poor human rights record, the credibility and respectability of a legal discipline within our jurisdiction.
  3. The LSS had not in any way challenged the English law principle of testamentary freedom but the LSS strongly felt it was not appropriate for the Law Society to give explicit guidance on how to achieve discrimination. The Law Society would not and should not give guidance on, for example, how to achieve racist objectives in a will even though racist provisions would be lawful, and nor should it have given guidance on how to achieve sexist and religiously discriminatory objectives in a will.
  4. Anything that undermines or competes with English law, or that is perceived as undermining or competing with English law, is damaging to the principle of equality before the law and the rule of law more generally.
  5. The practice note was at odds with the Law Society’s own stated commitment to equality and diversity.


Other than that…a fine idea.

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

Guest post: A history lesson on states’ rights

Nov 24th, 2014 5:48 pm | By

Originally a comment by Al Dente on Locke, Montesquieu and Moses.

The slavery issue was a major part of states rights.

In the decades preceding the civil war the states rights issue hung over the nation like a sword. The doctrine held that certain rights and powers remained as part of the sovereignty of individual states and that the exercise of that sovereignty lay in the will of the states’ citizens. Through elected officials the citizenry bestowed certain powers to the federal government such as conducting diplomacy and declaring war. But the states had powers denied to the federal government.

In the antebellum years authority granted the federal government by the Constitution was held to be vague and differing opinions about that authority tended to be regionally held. Conflicting interpretations about slavery escalated into regional disputes.

Congress passed a fugitive slave act in 1793 as a means to protect Southern “property” rights concerning chattel slavery. As the Northern states abolished slavery they instituted personal liberty laws to safeguard free blacks and over time these laws made the 1793 act ineffective.

With the spread of Northern and Western antislavery sentiments, a new fugitive slave act became a critical part of the Compromise of 1850. It was the one concession to Southern states written into the legislation and a test of the North’s commitment to personal property rights. Under the act, Northern officials were responsible for returning fugitive slaves to their owners. Any person found guilty of assisting a fugitive slave was subject to six months imprisonment and a $1000 fine (at this time a skilled workman like a blacksmith or carpenter made a wage of about $1 per day) plus, if the slave had not been recaptured, reimbursement of the market value of the slave. The act denied fugitives a jury trial or habeas corpus protection. Many Northerners regarded the act as a flagrant violation of fundamental personal rights and Northern state legislatures passed new personal liberty laws which weakened the 1850 fugitive slave act.

Although politicians had expected the fugitive slave act to relieve regional tensions, they soon saw that it had become a propaganda tool for abolitionists, who deliberately violated the act. In the decade before the civil war fugitives who made it to the North were rarely returned to their masters. The act sharpened the rift between North and South. More than anything, it grew into a symbol of determined resistance for both pro- and anti-slavery factions and became one of the key issues leading to irreconcilable disunion in 1861.

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

Good-bye sharia wills practice note!

Nov 24th, 2014 5:20 pm | By

Maryam posted a press release – with good news.


One Law for All, Southall Black Sisters, the Centre for Secular Space, Nari Diganta and the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation have welcomed the Law Society’s withdrawal of their sharia wills practice note.

The practice note advised solicitors on how to draw up ‘Sharia-compliant’ wills, stating that

“… illegitimate and adopted children are not Sharia heirs … The male heirs in most cases receive double the amount inherited by a female heir … Non-Muslims may not inherit at all … a divorced spouse is no longer a Sharia heir…” 

The ensuing campaign organised by women’s rights advocates Pragna Patel, Maryam Namazie, Gita Sahgal, Yasmin Rehman, Dianna Nammi, Rumana Hashem and Chris Moos has seen an open letter to Asma Jahangir, the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief; and an open letter to the Law Society included signatories such as scientist Richard Dawkins, writer Taslima Nasrin and founder of Secularism is a Woman’s Issue Marieme Helie Lucas, amongst others.

On April 28, a well-attended protest at the offices of the Law Society featured speakers such as human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, Muslim Institute Fellow Yasmin Rehman, Rumana Hashem from Nari Diganta – Women in Movement for Social Justice, Secularism and Equal Rights, and Diana Nammi, Chief Executive of the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation.

The organisers of the campaign also obtained legal advice from Karon Monaghan QC of Matrix Chambers, which stated that the Practice Note was unlawful as it provided guidance to solicitors that promotes an interpretation of Sharia that is discriminatory on the grounds of gender, religion and ethnicity and thus gave rise to the possibility of direct discrimination by solicitors. This came after the Solicitor’s Regulatory Authority had already withdrawn its endorsement of the Law Society’s Practice Note on July 10, following the threat of legal action from Southall Black Sisters.

In addition, the campaigners also found that the Law Society had used the works of an extremist cleric, who has advocated flogging and stoning for “fornicators”, for their Practice Note. The campaign received extensive press coverage and political support, including from Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, who warned that the Law Society’s Practice Note risks undermining the rule of law.

Pragna Patel, Director of Southall Black Sisters, said:

“SBS welcomes the Law Society’s decision to withdraw the discriminatory guidance. We also acknowledge that it has publicly apologised for having produced the ill-advised guidance in the first place. Let this episode serve as a warning to other public bodies that may be contemplating instituting ‘Sharia compliant’ measures that flout equality and human rights law and values, which must be regarded as universal and non-negotiable. We now look forward to working with the Law Society to address the devastating impact of the legal aid cuts which also prevent many abused and marginalised women from minority backgrounds from accessing justice.”

Maryam Namazie, founder of One Law for All, commented:

“The Law Society has finally succumbed to our pressure and withdrawn its guidance a week before women’s rights groups were to meet with them to step up our pressure against the discriminatory nature of their Sharia-compliant guidance. This is another huge victory for equality, one law for all and civil rights and yet another loss for the religious far-right. We congratulate all those who took part in this campaign. One law for all is not an empty slogan but must mean something particularly when it comes to the law.”

Gita Sahgal, Director of the Centre for Secular Space, said:

“We are delighted that the Law Society has finally seen sense and made clear that they do not wish to condone discrimination, have withdrawn the note entirely and will not seek to replace it. Their apology is very welcome. This is a victory against the institutionalisation of religious law. Secular values protect the rule of law far better than the regulators do. There are many battles ahead to protect human rights and access to justice. We have a common interest in these struggles.”

Chris Moos, one of the organisers of the campaign, concluded:

“The Law Society has done the only sensible thing – withdraw the guidance for good and apologise for promoting the use of discriminatory practices in the first place. Hopefully, those who have defended the practice note will now realise that the only way public bodies and representative organisations can be sure to meet their equality duties is by adhering to the principle of secular neutrality in matters of belief.”

For more information, contact:

Pragna Patel
Southall Black Sisters
020 8571 9595

Maryam Namazie
One Law for All
077 1916 6731

Gita Sahgal
Centre for Secular Space
079 7271 5090

Chris Moos
LSESU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society
074 2872 0599



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

Amid this orgy of self-congratulation

Nov 24th, 2014 4:48 pm | By

Helen Lewis is pessimistic about the culture wars.

If today’s tech giants can be said to have an ideology, it is the promotion of unfettered free speech. Social media companies trumpet how pro-democracy protesters use their networks to oppose repressive governments. Celebrities are warned of the “Streisand effect” of trying to suppress unflattering information about them, and creating more publicity in the process. Twitter’s former general counsel once described the company as “the free-speech wing of the free-speech party”.

But amid this orgy of self-congratulation, there is one rarely mentioned fact: one person’s free speech can come at the cost of another’s. This is the kernel at the heart of so many harassment cases: the stalker will insist, with an air of honest bafflement, that they are simply exercising their right to free speech. Unfortunately, they are doing it by shouting through the letterbox of their victim, who is now too afraid to leave their house.

Free speech, free shouting, free access to everyone’s letterbox, free access to everyone. Freedom freedom freedom.

There is no neutral position here. In trolling cases, for example, by protecting the abuser, you are discouraging the abused from entering public debates. The effect of this is profoundly conservative, because the cost of speaking out becomes higher for women (who receive a disproportionate amount of the most serious abuse, according to research by the Pew Institute and others) and other visible minorities.

No no no it’s the other way around. Minorities and women are holding everyone in the prison of Political Correctness and it’s all these shouting ranting spitting screeching Superior Young White Men who are subject to more abuse.

This aspect of the free speech debate is often ignored. Consider the backlash to Twitter linking up with a voluntary organisation, Women, Action and The Media, which will investigate and track sexist abuse on the social network. Wam’s power is extremely limited: it in effect has a hotline to Twitter, to escalate complaints that it has verified; it will also compile statistics on how well the service is handling them. The power to suspend and ban users still rests with Twitter.

This wasn’t enough to stop the influential US blogger Andrew Sullivan choking on his morning latte. “Is it simply that Wam believes that women cannot possibly handle the rough-and-tumble of uninhibited online speech?” he thundered. “I suspect the culture wars online just got a little more frayed. Because Twitter has empowered leftist feminists to have a censorship field day.”

It has not, of course. Twitter has empowered feminists to monitor whether its own harassment policies are enforced – and to see whether the “uninhibited online speech” of one group is preventing the uninhibited online speech of another.

But Sullivan is used to a setup in which people like him get to do all the talking (yes, even though he’s gay) and people like us get shouted down, so an attempt to shake that out a little until it’s  more even looks to him like leftist feminists having a censorship field day. So on we go, each day a little more hostile than the last.

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

Too young to survive as an orphan

Nov 24th, 2014 4:07 pm | By

Here is Enkikwe’s rescue.


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

Saving Enkikwe

Nov 24th, 2014 3:56 pm | By

I came home and found a mysterious stiff envelope in the mail.

It’s a surprise from Jen Phillips.



It’s from Terra Dreams, who donates half the proceeds from her art to Elephants Without Borders and The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.

What a beautiful thing.

Jen and the other people who have bought the art have fostered three orphan elephant calves. One is Enkikwei.

A young approximately 20 year old female elephant mother was sighted on the 22nd of September and appeared healthy while happily playing with her two calves near Enkikwei an area in the Mara North Conservancy. The older of her two calves was approximately seven years old and male while the younger baby was estimated to be approximately 10 – 11 months old male. Tragically on the 23rd of September the same mother was discovered dead but with no visible injuries. This came as a terrible shock to both the Mara North Conservancy Management and the DSWT funded mobile veterinary team based in the Masai Mara who responded to the case. Signs of acute Gastroenteritis were evident and to this day it remains a mystery as to what could have possibly killed her so rapidly unless she had eaten something poisonous. She was found dead a few meters away from the Musiara entrance gate of the Masai Mara near the Masai village called Enkikwei where she was sighted the previous day.

The baby calf at this stage was being protected by his elder brother, still in the orbit of where his mother lay lifeless on the Mara plains. Very tragically despite his brother’s best efforts, being so young and milk dependent, he could not survive without being rescued and hand raised so the team on the ground new this decision had to be made and in good time before he became vulnerable to predators.

So they did.

Sweet Enkikwe

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

Another sad zoo story

Nov 24th, 2014 12:11 pm | By

Aw, damn.

The gorilla born at the Como Zoo to first-time mother Alice on Wednesday has died, the zoo announced Monday.

The “preliminary hypothesis” is there was difficulty with the newborn’s feeding that led to the death Sunday, the zoo said in a statement.

The statement added that zoo leadership was making the announcement “with a very heavy heart.” This was first gorilla birth in the 55 years that Como has housed the large primates. Another gorilla birth at the zoo is anticipated for December or January.

Crap. That’s so sad. Gorilla births are a big deal.

Since the birth, the baby and Alice were under zookeeper watch and care around the clock, the zoo statement noted. The baby had appeared to be doing well through Saturday evening, strong in grip and voice, and Alice had been taking well to motherhood.

But then, the statement read, staff started having difficulty keeping tabs on the baby’s feeding regimen because Alice would cradle the newborn to her chest with her back toward the zookeepers.

The statement then went onto describe the baby’s final hours:

“On Sunday morning it was apparent that the baby was weak and his health failing. While the [staff’s] intervention process was happening, the baby was set down by Alice, and the zookeepers were able to retrieve him without the need to immobilize Alice.

“Resuscitation efforts on the infant were quickly performed but were unsuccessful.”


Been there, done that – except for the death part. One of the two adult female orangs had her second infant when I was working at the zoo, and it took a long time for her to figure out the nursing thing – something like two days I think. (She’d failed totally with her first, abandoning him, but this infant she held and cuddled.) It was nerve-racking – obviously the goal wasn’t to let the infant starve, but neither was it to raise yet another orang in the nursery. There were all kinds of things tried, and we watched them round the clock – I did the swing shift. Then on the second (I think) full day the infant randomly squirmed her way onto the nipple and started nursing. Result! But here it sounds as if the infant was nursing at first, so that’s frustrating.

Out of 437 gorilla births at Association of Zoos and Aquariums institutions since 1980, 26 percent of males and 20 percent of females did not make it to their first birthday.

In wild-living western gorilla populations, mortality rates in the first year have been reported up to 42 percent and in mountain gorillas, first-time mothers have 50 percent higher infant mortality rates than second-time mothers.

Woodland Park had good success with its gorilla births.

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

Locke, Montesquieu and Moses

Nov 24th, 2014 11:25 am | By

The Texas State Board of Education voted on a new set of social studies materials on Friday. NPR reports:

That includes some 89 textbooks, workbooks and other classroom materials. The vote matters because, with about 5 million students, the state has a big impact on the national textbook market.

Well it also matters because 5 million students are a lot of students, and they need good textbooks too.

We know how the Texas Board of Ed is. It’s been colonized by Christian Nationalists, who want to teach Christian Nationalist things to captive students.

Consider one high school government textbook. It lists four thinkers who influenced the Founding Fathers.

“Three of those on the list make a lot of sense: John Locke, Montesquieu and Blackstone. Those are all either British philosophers or Enlightenment thinkers,” says Jennifer Graber, a professor at the University of Texas, Austin.

She says that these three thinkers are all quoted in America’s founding documents. But, for Graber, the fourth person on the list raised a red flag: Moses.

Moses for fuck’s sake. Because of the 10 commandments, no doubt – and how incredibly stupid is that. It’s a jejune little list of the obvious at best and a theocratic list of commands to grovel to god at worst. Don’t murder, don’t steal, don’t lie – yeah the people who wrote the US constitution didn’t need Moses to tell them that; it’s an obvious part of any workable social contract. Worship god, take the day off to worship god, don’t throw god’s name around – those are items that are not in the US constitution, and shouldn’t be.

Moses is, however, mentioned explicitly in Texas learning standards, which is why the publisher included him in its textbook (and this is not the publisher’s only textbook to include him).

The standards are called the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills and were created in 2010. They state that high school students in U.S. government are expected to “identify the individuals, whose principles of laws and government institutions informed the American founding documents, including those of Moses, William Blackstone, John Locke, and Charles de Montesquieu.”

The majority Republican, 15-member Texas Board of Educationdefended the standards during meetings this week.

“Moses was not a Founding Father. However, I believe he did influence our Founding Fathers,” says Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio.

Piffle. Achilles and Hector, Lear and Hamlet probably influenced Jefferson and Adams and the gang a great deal more than Moses did.

“The standards suggest that slavery was only the third most important contributing factor to the Civil War, which we all know is ridiculous,” says Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network, a left-leaning watchdog group. It contracted scholars at various universities to review the books.

The review found that at first, some publishers followed Texas’ lead, downplaying slavery’s role in the Civil War and emphasizing states’ rights. But, after a long public review process and many complaints, they made changes.

“Publishers have improved their books and made clear that slavery was the driving force behind the separation between the North and the South and the Civil War, so we’re pleased about that,” Miller says.

Typical frightened NPR, to pretend it’s “left-leaning” to prefer truth to bullshit. I think the Texas Freedom Network is secular rather than left-leaning, but I suppose in Texas secularism is automatically left-wing. Plus of course that whole pesky idea that slavery was a bad thing and we shouldn’t pretend it was never really an issue.


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

After killing their daughter…

Nov 24th, 2014 10:04 am | By

From India, another item for the annals of “honor” killing.

In a suspected case of honour killing, a 21-year-old Delhi University student was strangled by her parents, who later allegedly set her body on fire, just three days after her marriage to her friend against their wishes. The accused were arrested on Tuesday and sent to judicial custody by a Delhi court.

Strangling. It’s so intimate. It’s hard to get your head around the thought of strangling one’s own child.

Bhavna Yadav was allegedly killed on the intervening night of November 15-16 by her father Jagmohan Yadav and mother Savitri Yadav at her house in south-west Delhi’s Dwarka North. After killing their daughter, the parents took her body to their village in Alwar, Rajasthan, where they set it on fire, police said.

According to DCP south west district, Suman Goyal, Bhavna’s husband informed the police. Bhavna had married 24-year-old Abhishekh Seth on November 12 against the wishes of her family members. Police said they began probing the case after Abhishek, an assistant programmer in the Rashtrapati Bhavan, made a written complaint on November 16 at Dwarka North police station. In his complaint, Abhishek had expressed suspicion of a foul play as Bhavna did not contact him after their marriage.

Police contacted victim’s parents at their village in Alwar and took them in custody when they failed to give information about their daughter. “While questioning they broke down and admitted that they had strangled their daughter at their Delhi home,” said the officer. The parents told the police that they called her back to their home when she informed them on November 12 about her marriage.

They called her back to their home and when she complied they strangled her.

The victim was a Sanskrit honours student of Venkateswara College.

India Today doesn’t say why the parents didn’t approve of their daughter’s choice. I wonder if he was the “wrong” caste.

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

Brendan O’Neill attacked by Stepford students horror

Nov 23rd, 2014 12:45 pm | By

There was supposed to be a debate on abortion last Tuesday at Christ Church, Oxford. Brendan O’Neill and Timothy Stanley were the scheduled debaters.

That fact by itself fills me with a great cloud of weary irritation. If you want to stage a debate on abortion, why the fuck ask two men to do it? What is the point? Why is it of more interest or significance to hear what two men have to say on the subject than it is to hear what two women have to say? Why just always ignore and jump over women as if they weren’t there, even when talking about things that affect women directly in a way they don’t affect men? Why do that? It’s not as if Brendan O’Neill is such a brilliant thinker or so original or reflective that no one else will do. On the contrary, he’s shallow and highly predictable.

People protested, the debate was canceled, O’Neill is now preening himself on being a martyr for free speech. (What I said – predictable.)

Have you met the Stepford students? They’re everywhere. On campuses across the land. Sitting stony-eyed in lecture halls or surreptitiously policing beer-fuelled banter in the uni bar.

Oh look, a dog whistle. “Banter” is code for sexist shit-talking and harassment.

I was attacked by a swarm of Stepford students this week. On Tuesday, I was supposed to take part in a debate about abortion at Christ Church, Oxford. I was invited by the Oxford Students for Life to put the pro-choice argument against the journalist Timothy Stanley, who is pro-life. But apparently it is forbidden for men to talk about abortion. A mob of furious feministic Oxford students, all robotically uttering the same stuff about feeling offended, set up a Facebook page littered with expletives and demands for the debate to be called off. They said it was outrageous that two human beings ‘who do not have uteruses’ should get to hold forth on abortion — identity politics at its most basely biological…

Oh shut up. That objection shouldn’t be brushed off as “identity politics.” It is objectionable for men to talk over the heads of women about whether women should have particular rights or not. I think once the debate was scheduled it shouldn’t have been canceled, but I also think it shouldn’t have been scheduled in that form in the first place.

Last month he encountered other “Stepford students” who thought he was wrong about lad culture and rape.

One — a bloke — said that the compulsory sexual consent classes recently introduced for freshers at Cambridge, to teach what is and what isn’t rape, were a great idea because they might weed out ‘pre-rapists’: men who haven’t raped anyone but might. The others nodded. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Pre-rapists! Had any of them read Philip K. Dick’s dystopian novella about a wicked world that hunts down and punishes pre-criminals, I asked? None had.

He couldn’t believe what he was hearing, and I can hardly believe what I’m reading. Seriously? If his objection had any merit there should be no driving education, no health education, no disease prevention education, no safety training, no anticipatory instruction of any kind. Yes, students should be taught that consent is required for sex even if they haven’t raped anyone yet, because not everyone understands that consent is required. That’s not some dystopian horror. But then, again, O’Neill isn’t a young female student, so he doesn’t have to worry about young male students who like to drink beer and engage in “banter” and don’t grasp the point that sex without consent is rape. It’s no threat to him, so he’s free to have a cavalier attitude about it, and sneer at people for whom it is a threat.

Heaven help any student who doesn’t bow before the Stepford mentality. The students’ union at Edinburgh recently passed a motion to ‘End lad banter’ on campus. Laddish students are being forced to recant their bantering ways. Last month, the rugby club at the London School of Economics was disbanded for a year after its members handed out leaflets advising rugby lads to avoid ‘mingers’ (ugly girls) and ‘homosexual debauchery’.

Horrors. What a terrible world it will be without leaflets advising lads to avoid ‘mingers’ (ugly girls) and ‘homosexual debauchery’. (“Minger” is a pretty harsh word for “ugly girl,” by the way, given that “minge”=female genitalia. Google says the source is unknown, but it seems impossible that the two can be strictly separated.)

I’m deeply tired of people like O’Neill, people who are relentlessly callous and indifferent about threats to the free participation of people who are not like them.


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

Women are unable to safely report

Nov 23rd, 2014 10:32 am | By

The New York Times has a think piece on the clash between Cosby’s Wholesome Image and the proliferating allegations that he had a decades-long habit of drugging and raping women. It starts off with a very peculiar headline…

For Some Fans, Accusations of Rape Crumble Bill Cosby’s Wholesome Image

Department of pointing out the obvious.

“He implanted so many positive images, moments, subliminal pictures of what African-Americans can be,” Mr. Osborne said. The portrayal struck him as false — the families he knew in Brooklyn did not live in well-appointed townhouses in the Heights; the Cosby children’s range of skin tones made it a strain to see them as siblings. Still, he recognized the accomplishment.

“There was a time when white people used to claim, ‘I watch “Cosby” ’ as their bona fides,” he said. “While we can look at it very cynically, there’s some good in that.”

The closeness and personal pride may be what allowed people to look away when rape accusations against Mr. Cosby surfaced decades ago. And still, with at least 15 women coming forward with similar stories — of being given a drink or a pill by Mr. Cosby, then waking up feeling they had been sexually assaulted — many fans continue to point out that he has never been charged. The women, they say, must be after money.

He has never been charged so it can’t possibly be true because all rapes lead to arrest, every single one, no exceptions. Meanwhile, no one is allowed to mention it. That’s how our legal system works. That legal system applies in Ireland as well as the US.

As Mr. Cosby, now 77, took the stage in Melbourne, Fla., on Friday night as part of what was to be a comeback tour, at least two in the audience shouted out, “We love you, Bill Cosby!” To this, Mr. Cosby, wearing a “Hello Friend” sweatshirt, responded with a clenched fist above his head, and many in the crowd copied him.

Oh did he! Really! Meaning what? Power to the rapists? Power to guys getting away with serial rape for decade after decade? Power to the very very rich and famous tv star guys getting away with serial rape for decade after decade? Or is it just Here’s what women who accuse rich and famous tv star guys of rape should get – a fist.

Dr. Beverly Gray, like the fictional Dr. Huxtable an obstetrician and gynecologist, recalled watching the show every week with her family.

Reflecting on Mr. Cosby now, she thinks of the survivors of sexual abuse she sees in her work in Durham, N.C.

“I feel like women are unable to safely report male perpetrators in our culture,” Dr. Gray, 38, said. About the show, she said: “I remember a very happy, close family. It’s the contrast between that and what you hear on the news that’s so upsetting.”

Exactly. Women are unable to safely report male perpetrators in our culture. We know this from experience.

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

Cosby would then take his pick

Nov 23rd, 2014 10:16 am | By

Another corroborator of the allegations about Bill Cosby – this time not a woman but a former wing man.

A former NBC employee and Bill Cosby confidante has claimed to the New York Daily News that he acted as a cover-up for the comedian as he slept with women and paid them off.

Well…he’s just doing it for the fame and attention!

Frank Scotti, 90, who worked for the studio where “The Cosby Show” was filmed from 1984 to 1992, told the Daily News that he took out money orders in his name to pay women who he suspects Cosby had slept with. Scotti also alleges that he would stand guard at Cosby’s dressing room while he met with young models.

Well…I’m sure Cosby was just giving them good fatherly advice on how to pull their pants up.

Cosby would reportedly claim he was “interviewing” the young models for parts in his show.

He allegedly had a deal with a Manhattan modeling agency that would stop by the set with several girls at once. Cosby would then take his pick, Scotti said.

“The owner [of the agency] just walked right out,” Scotti told the Daily News. “She knew exactly what was going to go on. Then he’d tell me, ‘Stand outside the door and don’t let anyone in.’ Now you put that together and figure [out] why.”

Career advice. Grooming tips. Experiments in the effects of certain drugs when mixed with alcohol or tea or Sprite.

Scotti provided signed memorabilia and photographs of himself and Cosby to the Daily News. He also showed receipts for money orders with the names of women on them — at least one of whom recently stepped forward to accuse Cosby of sexual assault.

Cosby’s accusers have said that the comedian lured them in with promises of career help and mentorship, then gave them pills to make them immobile so he could assault them. The allegations span decades — some dating back to 1969 and one as recent as 2004.

Ok ok ok fine, but never mind all that, because he’s Cliff Huxtable. That’s all that counts.

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

A bus to Nairobi

Nov 23rd, 2014 8:57 am | By

What’s new in Kenya: al-Shabaab murdered 28 people on a bus at dawn on Saturday.

The bus travelling to the capital Nairobi with 60 passengers was hijacked about 50 kilometres from the town of Mandera near Kenya’s border with Somalia, said two police officers who insisted on anonymity because they were ordered not to speak to the press.

The attackers first tried to wave the bus down but it didn’t stop so the gunmen sprayed it with bullets, said the police. When that didn’t work they shot a rocket propelled grenade at it, the officers said.

The gunmen took control of the vehicle and forced it off the road where they ordered all the passengers out of the vehicle and separated those who appeared to be non-Muslims — mostly non-Somalis — from the rest.

God’s people over here, garbage people over there. That’s the way we want people thinking.

George Ochwodho, a non-Muslim head teacher of a private primary school in Mandera, survived the attack. He was travelling home for the Christmas vacation since school had closed.

Ochwodho told AP that the passengers who did not look Somali were separated from the others. The non-Somali passengers were then asked to recite the Shahada, an Islamic creed declaring oneness with God. Those who couldn’t recite the creed were ordered to lie down. Ochwodho was among those who had to lie on the ground.

And they were all shot dead except Ochwodho.

17 out of the 28 dead were teachers according to the police commander in Mandera county.

That will be a nice extra for al-Shabaab: they managed to get rid of 17 infidel teachers.


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

Who is most popular?

Nov 22nd, 2014 6:22 pm | By

Elsewhere in tvworld, the Duggars are getting some pushback.

A petition on urging TLC to cancel the family’s reality show, “19 Kids and Counting,” is gaining momentum.

“End LGBTQ fear mongering by the Duggars,” a letter posted on petition page reads. “The Duggars have been using their fame to promote discrimination, hate, and fear-mongering against gays and transgendered people. You need to take a stand on the side of justice and cancel their show.”

The petition currently has over 78,000 signatures.

Not terribly impressive when you note that they have 400,000 likes on their Facebook page, but it’s a start.

Last week, the couple posted a Facebook photo of them kissing and encouraged other married couples to share their own. The caption read, “God designed marriage to be a loving, dynamic relationship between a husband and wife for a lifetime. God loves marriage and it is supposed to be full of love, joy, fun and romance,” it said. “We challenge all married couples to take a happily married picture and post it here.”

John Becker, of LGBT blog “The Bilerico Project,” posted a photo of him kissing his husband. He says his photo was later taken down and that he was banned from the Duggars’ page, according to E! News.

Well it’s like this. God doesn’t want human lips to make contact with other lips except when one of the humans is a man and the other human is a woman and the two of them are married to each other. Any other lip-to-lip contact is haram and sin and bad. Don’t even talk about tongues.

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

An adoring audience

Nov 22nd, 2014 6:00 pm | By

How sweet, CBS reports that Bill Cosby did a show last night and everybody forgot all about those pesky rape allegations and just had a damn good time laughing at his jokes. How warm and cuddly.

“I know people are tired of me not saying anything, but a guy doesn’t have to answer to innuendos,” the comedian told Florida Today. “People should fact check. People shouldn’t have to go through that and shouldn’t answer to innuendos.”

After giving the backstage interview, Cosby regained the revered status he long enjoyed, for 90 minutes at least.

The show in Melbourne, Florida, might have seemed destined for disaster for the comedian. What he got, though, was an adoring audience that laughed so hard they slapped their knees, shouted love at the stage and rose to their feet as he came and went.

“I think people went in there with him as Bill Cosby from the TV show,” said Travis Weberling, 40, of Melbourne, “not the guy they heard about on the news.”

As they should, as they should. He’s that guy from the tv show, and who cares about all those annoying women who say he raped them. The important thing is that he’s that guy from the tv show!

What remained to be seen was whether the evening marked a turning point for a beloved television father, or simply a momentary reprieve. It did nothing to immediately change the fact that Cosby’s projects have been nixed and stalled, performances have been canceled across the country and women continue to come forward accusing him of serious crimes.

Yes but he’s a beloved television father, which is as much as to say he’s all of our daddy, which means he’s kind of like god, which means he gets to rape women, because if god does it it must be good. (That Euthyphro guy said so.)

Cosby’s lawyer, Martin Singer, said the accusations had “escalated far past the point of absurdity,” dismissing them as “fantastical,” ”unsubstantiated” and “uncorroborated.”

“When will it end?” he asked. “It is long past time for this media vilification of Mr. Cosby to stop.”

And, throughout the audience, his fans agreed.

They talked of watching him on TV as a child, and of his albums becoming familiar friends when the moved to unfamiliar, faraway towns. They brushed off the accusations, howling at everything he uttered.

That’s right. That’s right. Brush them off. They don’t matter. All that matters is adoring the guy who played a good guy on tv. All that matters is maintaining the illusion that he’s a good guy like the one he played on tv. The many independent accusations of rape don’t matter at all.

His 90-minute set wandered from a childhood fear of God to the loss of freedom in marriage to the rocket-speed Spanish of a piñata-store worker.

He sat for much at the start of the show, then grew increasingly physical, impersonating jujitsu and gymnastics poses, laying on the floor in stocking feet and thrusting a fist upward in a gesture of battling the everyday oppression of living with a wife. And when it was over, he said “good night,” walking off as the audience again stood.

Cool. Battling women all the way.


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

Guest post: The problems of American Women are fast becoming the problem of Global Women

Nov 22nd, 2014 11:22 am | By

Originally a comment by Hj Hornbeck on Yes, there should be rivalry in victimhood.

[Trigger Warning: Domestic and Sexual Assault. Also, BIG comment with many a footnote.]

Here’s an angle I haven’t seen mentioned yet: there’s more than some hidden racism in Dawkin’s focus on Islam, which he exploits to distract from real global problems. The quoted portion in the OP is my starting point:

The greatest threats to women, in his view, are Islamism and jihadism — and his concern over that sometimes leads him to speak off-the-cuff.

“I concentrate my attention on that menace and I confess I occasionally get a little impatient with American women who complain of being inappropriately touched by the water cooler or invited for coffee or something which I think is, by comparison, relatively trivial,” he said.[1]

That’s demonstrably false. Consider, for instance, a 2006 WHO study on domestic violence.[2] It surveyed fifteen sites worldwide, and found that the highest lifetime rate of physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner was 71% in the Ethiopian countryside and 69% in the Peruvian… both of which are Catholic-majority states. Third place is rural Muslim Bangladesh (62%), fourth is rural half Christian, half Muslim Tanzania (56%), fifth was urban Muslim Bangladesh (53%), and so on.

The percentage of women who think being beaten is an acceptable punishment for not completing their housework? About 65% in rural Ethiopia, 45% in rural Peru, 30% in rural Tanzania, 25% in urban Tanzania, and so on. Interestingly, urban Bangladesh women are in the middle of the pack when it comes to saying they should not be beaten (rural Bangladesh… not so much).

How about sexual violence against women that aren’t intimate partners? A staggering 55% of assaulted women in Samoa were attacked by non-partners… and Samoa is majority Christian. In Brazil (majority Christian) that’s 40%, in urban Tanzania it’s 34%, urban Peru it’s 31%, and so on.

The prevalence of injury among ever-abused women ranged from 19% in Ethiopia to 55% in provincial Peru. Injuries were associated with severe physical violence. In Brazil, provincial Peru, Samoa, Serbia [Christian] and Montenegro [Christian], and Thailand [Buddhist] over 20% of ever-injured women reported that they had been injured more than five times.

Although the majority of injuries were classed as minor (bruises, abrasions, cuts, punctures, and bites), in some settings, more serious injuries (broken bones, injuries to ears and eyes) were relatively common. At least 20% of ever-injured women in Namibia [Christian], provincial Peru, Samoa, urban Thailand, and the United Republic of Tanzania reported injuries to the eyes and ears. In Bangladesh, Ethiopia, provincial Peru, and Samoa, over a quarter of ever-injured women reported that they had lost consciousness as a result of partner violence.

It’s obvious that intimate partner violence is a global issue, affecting a huge percentage of women worldwide. However, it isn’t obvious this is tied to religion; Christianity seems to dominate the stats, but that could be because it’s still the dominant global religion, or the researchers couldn’t get into certain Muslim states.

Worse still for Dawkins, Islam is not a monolith. According to a Pew Forum study,[3] while 99% of Afghan Muslims support Sharia law, 8% of Azerbaijanis do. The biggest predictor of support is secularism, not religion; Turkey is 99.8% Muslim, but only 12% of their Muslims support sharia law.

Things get weirder when you look at specific beliefs: 50% of Bangladeshis that support Sharia say that family planning is morally acceptable, while among those that oppose Sharia law… only 28% think it’s acceptable. On the flip side, 28% of pro-Sharia Kazakhs think it’s acceptable, yet 52% of anti-Sharia Kazakhs think it’s fine.

The veil? In Sub-Saharan Africa, only 40% of Muslims agree that women have the right to choose, while in South-East Europe that sits at 88%. How about the ever-popular topic of suicide bombings? 96% of Bosnian Muslims do not think it is justified, or think it’s only fine in rare circumstances, while in Pakistan, the spot with the greatest support, that number sits at 49%. Yes, more Muslims in Pakistan think that suicide bombing is poorly justified than that it sometimes or often is. At least 85% of Muslims endorse non-Muslims practicing their religion freely, with some areas hitting 97%. In South Asia, 76% would be OK with executing apostates; in Central Asia, only 16% are.

And yet, Dawkins is opposed to Islam, full stop. No shades of gray.[4] Every Muslim is an olive-skinned Middle Eastern person that wants every woman stuffed in a burqa. Never-mind the existence of Black Muslims in Nigeria or Caucasian Muslims in the Caucasus, they’re all the same to him. While he loves to toss out the phrase “Islam is not a race,” he certainly treats them as one[5,6] and is happy to exploit xenophobia to distract from more important issues.

You might argue Dawkins wasn’t talking about domestic violence, though, but mild sexual assault and sexism. But that supposes those issues are specific to North America and Europe, and absent everywhere else. Again, that’s just not true; as Hans Rosling loves to point out, there really isn’t much difference between developed and developing countries nowadays, with urban areas of some “developing” countries on par with developed nations.[7]

Just looking at cell phone and internet usage, 45% of Lebanese own a smart phone, 39% of Chileans, and 33% of South Africans; in contrast, 23% of Russians and 21% of Mexicans do.[8] By 2018, it’s forecast that 67% of cell phone users in all of Africa will have a data plan.[9] The fastest internet in the world is in South Korea, the fifth is in Latvia, and the Czech Republic comfortably edges out the United States to take seventh place.[10]

This means that the problems of American Women are fast becoming the problem of Global Women. And as the world becomes more connected, the campaigns and experience of the former can be easily modified and exploited by the latter to improve their lot. The same isn’t true for combating Islam, however; as I pointed out above, that religion is quite heterogeneous and thus you’d have a tough time spreading one area’s fix to another place.

This leaves Dawkins as little more than a wailing, short-sighted bigot.


[1] “Richard Dawkins Stands by Remarks on Sexism, Pedophilia, Down Syndrome.” Religion News Service. Accessed November 22, 2014.

[2] García-Moreno, Claudia., London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine., Program for Appropriate Technology in Health., World Health Organization., and Women and Health. Department of Gender. WHO Multi-Country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence against Women: Initial Results on Prevalence, Health Outcomes and Women’s Responses. [Geneva, Switzerland]: World Health Organization, 2005.

[3] “The World’s Muslims: Religion, Politics and Society.” Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project. Accessed November 22, 2014.

[4] Well OK, I was a bit shocked when I cracked open my copy of The God Delusion and rediscovered that he endorsed teaching the Qur’an as a source of literary heratige. That bit’s on pages 386 to 387 on my copy, or just look for the last two paragraphs in Chapter 9.

[5] Malik, Nesrine. “Message to Richard Dawkins: ‘Islam Is Not a Race’ Is a Cop out.” The Guardian, September 20, 2013, sec. Comment is free.

[6] Chituc, Vlad. “Islam Isn’t a Race, and so What?” NonProphet Status. Accessed November 22, 2014.

[7] The River of Myths by Hans Rosling | #BillsLetter, 2013.

[8] “Emerging Nations Embrace Internet, Mobile Technology.” Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project. Accessed November 22, 2014.

[9] “Africa Telecoms Outlook 2014: Maximizing Digital Service Opportunities » Informa Telecoms & Media.” Accessed November 22, 2014.

[10] “South Korea’s Internet Is About to Be 50 Times Faster Than Yours.” Motherboard. Accessed November 22, 2014.

[BONUS] Hans Rosling: Religions and Babies, 2012.

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