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.

Does North Dakota hate women?

Oct 31st, 2014 4:19 pm | By

Tuesday the North Dakota Supreme Court upheld a state law that limits the use of drugs to perform abortions. Yes that’s right, North Dakota, the state that has one count them ONE abortion clinic for a state that’s 70,762 square miles / 183,272 square kilometers in area.

The state’s high court, in a 103-page ruling, reversed a ruling by a district judge last year that found the 2011 law violates the state constitution.

“Beginning tomorrow morning, there will not be any medication abortions in North Dakota,” said David Brown, an attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is helping North Dakota’s sole abortion clinic in Fargo with its legal challenges.

No pill-based abortions for you, North Dakota sluts! If you want a god damn abortion, you whores, you’re going to have to suffer for it. The knife or nothing, you bitches!

Medication abortions at the Red River Women’s Clinic involve the use of a combination of two drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol. The Federal Food and Drug Administration has approved the marketing of mifepristone — commonly known as RU-486— as a drug for ending pregnancies. It is used in combination with misoprostol, a treatment for stomach ulcers that is not labeled as an abortion-inducing drug.

The North Dakota law maintains that the use of any drug to cause an abortion must meet “the protocol tested and authorized” by the FDA and outlined on the drug’s label, meaning misoprostol can’t be used.

Red River Clinic director Tammi Kromenaker has told The Associated Press that about 20 percent of the 1,300 abortions it performs annually are done with drugs and not surgically.

Attorneys for the clinic have said that abortion drugs used by the clinic are widely accepted by the medical community.

Never mind that. Sluts must pay.



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

The pope and the devil

Oct 31st, 2014 3:27 pm | By

Yesterday the pope took a moment to tell us not to underestimate the devil.

Francis described Christian life as a continuous battle against Satan during his homily at morning Mass at the Vatican on Thursday (Oct. 30).

Oh yeah? That’s what it is? All the more reason to be glad I’m not a Christian then.

“This generation, and many others, have been led to believe that the devil is a myth, a figure, an idea, the idea of evil,” the pope told the faithful during Mass at the St. Martha guesthouse where he lives inside the walls of the Vatican.

Yes, Mr Bergoglio, that’s because it is. It’s a supernatural or magical immortal being with superpowers, dreamed up by human beings, like countless other fictional characters throughout history, some more interesting than others.

Let me guess what he’s going to say next. “But nu-uh – the devil is real.” Game over.

“But the devil exists and we must fight against him.”

Right – the pope says the devil exists, so that’s a clincher.

Basing his reflections on the Apostle Paul’s admonition that Christians must “put on the full armor of God” in order to resist Satan’s temptations, Francis likened life to a “military endeavor” and urged people against being carried away by passions and temptations.

“No spiritual life, no Christian life is possible without resisting temptations, without putting on God’s armor which gives us strength and protects us. … The truth is God’s armor.”

See what he’s doing there? He’s enacting the very thing he just said was wrong – the idea that the devil is an idea of evil as opposed to a real (though spooky) person.

This isn’t a new hobby for the pope. He was doing it in 2010 while being a cardinal and talking smack about same-sex marriage and Teh HomoSecks.

A Jesuit cardinal has become the latest Church leader to speak out forcefully against a government’s push towards same-sex marriage, and has called on his nation’s contemplatives to pray fervently to prevent such laws.

According to an article in tomorrow’s L’Osservatore Romano, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the Archbishop of Buenos Aires and Primate of Argentina, has said that if a proposed bill giving same-sex couples the opportunity to marry and adopt children should be approved, it will “seriously damage the family.”

He wrote a letter to all the monasteries telling the monks to pray pray pray against it.

He wrote: “In the coming weeks, the Argentine people will face a situation whose outcome can seriously harm the family…At stake is the identity and survival of the family: father, mother and children. At stake are the lives of many children who will be discriminated against in advance, and deprived of their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God. At stake is the total rejection of God’s law engraved in our hearts.”

Cardinal Bergoglio continued: “Let us not be naive: this is not simply a political struggle, but it is an attempt to destroy God’s plan. It is not just a bill (a mere instrument) but a ‘move’ of the father of lies who seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.”

So he’s saying the devil is behind the idea that same-sex marriage and adoption should be legal. The devil. He might as well announce that LGBTQ people are all witches and that Christians should hunt them down. That’s the supposedly more “progressive” new pope.


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

Thou shalt not evaluate

Oct 31st, 2014 12:12 pm | By

Scott Kaufman watched Christina Hoff Sommers’s latest video, which is nice, because it means I don’t need to.

Sommers says the GamerGate people are “a voice for moderation in today’s fevered debates over sex and gender.”

According to Sommers, GamerGate is merely a group of gamers who either “believe there is too much corruption and cronyism in gaming journalism” or “are weary of cultural critics who evaluate video games through the prism of social justice.”

Why is that a bad way to evaluate video games or any other cultural artifact? Why are we not supposed to think and talk about the ways cultural artifacts shape our thinking about anything and everything, including about kinds of people who are seen as inferior or objectionable in some way? Why would that be a bad thing to do? What is this insistence on saying “No no no no do not probe or interrogate The Artifacts, just lie back and let them wash over you, that is the only acceptable way to receive them”?

“Now, many men — not all of them, but many — do like images of sexy women,” she says. “But why shame them for this? Traditionally, women, gays, trans people have been policed and humiliated for their sexuality. That is wrong. Today, it’s open season on the sexual preferences of straight males. That’s also wrong.”

That’s such a dishonest piece of crap. She knows why. She knows that comparison is ridiculous, and she knows why it is. (Colbert made fun of the whole trope when he talked to Sarkeesian.)

She does address the death threats targeting those who oppose GamerGate, but claims that there’s no proof that GamerGaters are responsible for them. “Now, I deplore the fact that female critics and game developers have been threatened,” she says.

Moreover, she claims that she’s “learned that several people inside of GamerGate, including two women, have received death threats too. Many in the media are treating GamerGate as a ‘damsel in distress’ story. Well, damsels are in distress, but they’re on both side of the controversy.”

That’s another trope, that “damsel in distress” sneer.

D.J. Grothe‏@DJGrothe
@thunderf00t Well, here’s hoping. But that damsel in distress narrative is so compelling and seductive to most people.

Hoping what?

thunderf00t ‏@thunderf00t Oct 29
my money says @femfreq on @StephenAtHome will be the last nail in her coffin,just like it was for Ketchup with occupy—stephen-colbert-occupies-occupy-wall-street-pt–1 …

The verbal destruction of Anita Sarkeesian, for the crime of being a culture critic who evaluates video games through the prism of social justice.

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

In 2012, 36% of pupils were girls

Oct 31st, 2014 11:05 am | By

Iram Ramzan takes on Yvonne Ridley.

[A]ccording to Muslim convert and Respect party activist Yvonne Ridley, the war in Afghanistan was a total failure. On Twitter, she said: “So Taliban undefeated, no career women emerging from rubble & only success story is the rapid growth of opium in Afghanistan.”

While the situation in Afghanistan is far from ideal, there are some good things to have emerged since the western intervention, one of them being the the education of women, which I pointed out to her.

.@yvonneridley in 2000 there were no girls going to school in Afghanistan. In 2012, 36% of pupils were girls. I’d say that’s an achievement

Ridley denied this, saying that there were girls in school when she was in Afghanistan. She said: “I was there with the BBC in February 2002 recording a [BBC] R4 show”. There may well have been girls in schools in 2002, but Ridley failed to acknowledge that her visit was several months after NATO’s intervention in Afghanistan and the overthrow of the Taliban.

It’s highly debatable how much good NATO’s intervention in Afghanistan has done and how it measures up to the cost in lives and everything else, but distortions don’t help anyone zero in on a good estimate.

Ridley was correct when she pointed out that women were attending universities in 2002 – but that was after western troops went in to Afghanistan. Yet the Taliban and their supporters were determined to sabotage education for women. So if there is a reason why things are not perfect in Afghanistan, at least in regards to women’s education, is is certainly not the fault of the west. It is the  fault of the insurgents who are determined to keep females in what they deem is their rightful place – illiterate and under the subordination of men.

It’s probably partly the fault of the west, if you take the long view. Money lavished on the mujahideen fighting the commies did play a part, to the best of my knowledge. But it wasn’t the goal of NATO’s intervention, and it was the Taliban’s goal. Ridley is tap dancing by pretending otherwise.

I am not suggesting that life for women (and even men) is ideal in Afghanistan, far from it. According to Government figures from 2013, only 26 per cent of Afghanistan’s population is literate, and among women the rate is only 12 per cent – a dismal figure. But it is a damn sight better than it was under Taliban rule, where girls were officially banned from having an education. Perhaps Ridley needs to remember that, unless she seriously believes the Taliban weren’t so bad after all?

Maybe Ridley thinks the Taliban is fighting the good fight against Social Justice Warriors.

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

Sure, he said

Oct 30th, 2014 6:29 pm | By

In case ya missed it – Anita Sarkeesian on the Colbert Report.

Lots of applause and squeeing.

At the end Colbert kind of dropped the persona.

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

In which I surprise them

Oct 30th, 2014 5:30 pm | By

Well, ok, just to confuse everyone, I’m going to disagree with one feminist claim about street harassment. The claim is in a piece by Kat George (whose work I’m not familiar with) on the harassment video and what counts as harassment. She starts with the fact that with any harassment story there are always men and some women who will say “oh but that’s not harassment, it’s just being nice.” True enough. But then she goes on.

Here’s the thing: by the inherent nature of being a woman walking in the street, almost ALL uninvited attention from men is threatening. Women are victims of sexual violence EVERY SINGLE DAY, even in “liberal” cities like New York. Whether it’s a man jerking off on the subway, a stranger sticking their hand up a woman’s skirt (or worse, raping her) we hear stories of sexual assault on a near daily basis, if not on the news, then from the anecdotes within our social circles. Women feel vulnerable on the street, period. When a man interacts with her on any level she did not invite, it’s threatening, period.

No. That’s really not true.

It might be true for very young women and very busy impersonal big city streets, but other than that, no. A man might ask for directions, for example; that’s not threatening. And there are all kinds of little momentary situations where a man can speak to a woman on the street – even when she didn’t “invite” it – when it’s not threatening. A beautiful day, a very windy or rainy day, waiting for a bus, watching a crane in operation, a bouncy dog making people laugh, a toddler making people go “dawww” – all kinds of things. It’s not that unusual or fraught to have a brief exchange with a man in the street; it’s really not.

So no. Let’s be careful not to get so irritated by poo-poo-ers and deniers that we make wild assertions that it takes 10 seconds to realize aren’t true.

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

He’s never understood how someone could be proud of being gay

Oct 30th, 2014 1:54 pm | By

I had barely finished that post about Stefan Molyneux and his occasional collaboration with Peter Boghossian and my stubborn difficulty taking in just how right-wing some popular atheist men are, when my attention was drawn to a new provocation by Boghossian.

I’ve never understood how someone could be proud of being gay. How can one be proud of something one didn’t work for?

That’s a tweet as well as a Facebook post. His FB posts are all public, so public discussion is possible.

Lindsay Beyerstein pointed out that one way one can be proud of what one worked for in this context has to do with the courage and work it takes to come out. Is it ok with Boghossian if people are proud of that?

I’m so fed up with smug prosperous non-marginal guys publicly gloating over their good luck and taunting people who don’t have that particular form of luck.

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

The video also unintentionally makes another point

Oct 30th, 2014 1:17 pm | By

Hanna Rosin at Slate takes on the glaring flaw in that street harassment video: the shortage of white guys doing any harassing.

The one dude who turns around and says, “Nice,” is white, but the guys who do the most egregious things—like the one who harangues her, “Somebody’s acknowledging you for being beautiful! You should say thank you more,” or the one who follows her down the street too closely for five whole minutes—are not.

This doesn’t mean that the video doesn’t still effectively make its point: that a woman can’t walk down the street lost in her own thoughts, that men feel totally free to demand her attention and get annoyed when she doesn’t respond, that a woman can’t be at ease in public spaces in the same way a man can. But the video also unintentionally makes another point: that harassers are mostly black and Latino, and hanging out on the streets in midday in clothes that suggest they are not on their lunch break.

Because they just didn’t happen to find any white guys harassing? Nope.

At the end they claim the woman experienced 100-plus incidents of harassment “involving people of all backgrounds.” Since that obviously doesn’t show up in the video, Bliss addressed it in a post. He wrote, “We got a fair amount of white guys, but for whatever reason, a lot of what they said was in passing, or off camera,” or was ruined by a siren or other noise. The final product, he writes, “is not a perfect representation of everything that happened.”

So include some imperfect shots, then.

Activism is never perfectly executed. We can just conclude that they caught a small slice of catcallers, and lots of other men do it, too. But if the point of this video is to teach men about the day-to-day reality of women, then this video doesn’t hit its target. The men who are sitting in their offices or in cafes watching this video will instead be able to comfortably assure themselves that they don’t have time to sit on hydrants in the middle of the day and can’t properly pronounce “mami.” They might do things to women that are worse than catcalling, but this is not their sin.

Yeah not true. A broadcast tv show – What Would You Do? – did a memorable segment once in which some very expensive Wall Street guys aggressively harassed a woman at a food truck. They were nasty – frat boyish – bordering on scary.

A really good video about catcalling actually already exists. In “Jessica’s Feminized Atmosphere,” Jessica Williams of the Daily Show covers the whole range of street harassment, from construction workers (of all races) to security guards to Wall Street “douche bags” to teenagers hanging on the corner. She and a group of women lay down pins on places in New York to avoid and by the end, the entire map is covered. There are race and class issues latent in her video, too. She is black, and the women she gathers for her discussion group are all races. But you don’t leave with that icky impression of a white woman under assault by the big bad city.

It’s a great pity the Hollaback video isn’t more like that.

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

All the cold-hearted jerks who run the world

Oct 30th, 2014 11:46 am | By

For your viewing pleasure – David Futrelle created a brief video excerpted from a very long video by libertarian MRA Stefan Molyneux.

I stopped listening a bit after minute 1, but I may go back to it later. I stopped at the line

All the cold-hearted jerks who run the world came out of the vaginas of women who married assholes.

I stopped there because it’s all I needed for the moment. That’s his claim. All the bad men in all the places? They’re all the fault of women, because they came out of vaginas. Never mind all the bad men; BLAME THEIR MOTHERS.

What made me curious about Stefan Molyneux? The fact that atheoskeptic guy Peter Boghossian has done several collegial videos with him. In the most recent one they talk about the horrible feminists and Social Justice Warriors.

This is some sort of mental block I have. I always assume fellow atheists are at least a little bit on the left, and that they’re at least a little bit clued in to why it’s not really all that cool or helpful to say that “people of category X don’t do atheist writing & arguing and they don’t show up at my talks because it’s more of a white/ straight/ Western / guy thing.” I keep having to re-learn that no, many of them are in fact proudly and thoroughly right-wing.

I could blame the fact that in the US there is a very strong link between conservatism and religiosity…but that’s true everywhere, and anyway I don’t think that’s really the reason. It’s just some kind of entrenched Basic Belief I have, for no particularly coherent reason. I have to learn different one person at a time. “Oh – Boghossian is a colleague  of this well-known MRA. Ohhh. These sinister blurts on Twitter aren’t just his id running riot for a few minutes, they’re his considered opinions. Ohhhh.”

H/t Ms Mondegreen aka Stacy

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

One year old

Oct 30th, 2014 10:50 am | By

Say happy birthday to EXMNA! It’s their one year anniversary.

This month, Ex-Muslims of North America celebrated our 1 year anniversary as an organization; we also recently received our 501c3 designation, making us an official charitable organization.

It is difficult to put into words how proud I am of our organization and everyone involved. Since our launch 1 year ago, we added new chapters in 14 major cities across North America. Our members hail from dozens of ethnic and cultural backgrounds, but find commonality in our shared experiences and struggles both as ex-Muslims and as non-theists.

Together, we have fostered a community where we continue to learn from each others’ experiences in both adversity and triumph. I am awed by the character and intelligence of the people I’ve met through this group, and am honored to call them my friends and allies.

Please consider making a small donation to ensure our community continues to grow and prosper. Your donation will help provide safe-spaces for Ex-Muslims and help create a platform to inform the general public about apostasy and reform within Islamic communities. Thank you to everyone in the secular/atheist movement who helped make this organization what it is by continued support and encouragement.

With gratitude,

Sarah Haider
Director of Development

They’re so amazing.

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

Hey beautiful

Oct 29th, 2014 4:54 pm | By

The Wall Street Journal reports on the reactions to the Hollaback harassment video.

[T]he woman in the video, actress Shoshana B. Roberts, and the anti-harassment organization that sponsored it, Brooklyn-based Hollaback!, have also received a host of death and rape threats, officials say. Those threats, which have been passed along to New York City police, underscore how casually some people view street harassment, experts say.

“We’ve had so many people reach out saying, ‘Thank God, this is exactly what my day looks like,’ or people who were shocked, saying, ‘I had no idea that this is what women face. I’m so grateful,’” said Emily May, the co-founder and executive director of Hollaback!. “But we’ve also gotten this tremendous backlash from people saying just horrific things and a number of violent threats.”

Because how dare anyone document street harassment of women? It’s a human right to harass women on the street. Women are public property, and pretty women are like 90 squillion times more public property, so obviously if they object to it there has to be a tremendous backlash.

The video was shot by filmmaker Rob Bliss, who approached Hollaback! with the idea in August after his girlfriend told him stories of being harassed while walking down the street.

“I felt like no one had really clearly demonstrated what street harassment looks like,” Mr. Bliss said. “No [one] had shown the world what it looks and feels like to a person.”

Mr. Bliss’s team recorded the video over the course of 10 hours using a GoPro camera hidden inside a gym bag and two microphones held by Ms. Roberts. The team navigated the city’s busiest and most frequently cited places of harassment: Midtown Manhattan, Wall Street, SoHo, the Brooklyn Bridge area and Harlem.

In the video, several men yell things such as “hey beautiful” and “how you doing?” to Ms. Roberts, who is dressed casually in jeans and a T-shirt and doesn’t respond to the catcalls. One unidentified man follows her for five minutes.

Hey, she’s outside, she’s on the street, she’s fair game. Public property, I tell you.


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

10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman

Oct 29th, 2014 4:37 pm | By

Nine and a half million people have watched the video that documents street harassment in New York.

The selected comments are depressing. Of course.


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

Guest post: As women entered the field

Oct 29th, 2014 12:05 pm | By

Originally a comment by sambarge on Yes yes.

The de-valuation of work by feminization is fully documented in labour history. The reason we talk about pay equity (versus equal pay for the same job) is the valuation or classification of labour or job duties that are viewed a “feminine” or “masculine”. Physical strength, for example, is rated higher than accuracy in data entry and, not surprisingly, physical strength is a stereotypically male trait (unless we’re talking about labour that requires physical strength that is defined as female such as housekeeping or laundry workers, then there are no points or recognition for the physical strength required to do the job).

The easiest examples of the devaluation of work when it is feminized is bank tellers and other clerical work. When clerical work was done almost exclusively by men, the job was considered a skilled and valued profession. As women entered the field (and, importantly, men left it) clerical work was devalued – even as it became more technologically difficult to perform. Likewise, nursing has started to attract more men as it professionalized and started to demand decent remuneration. However, shaking the taboo of a man “doing women’s work” has proven harder than attracting women to work that was historically classified as male. The stigma attached to women’s work is pernicious.

The history of labour is full of examples like those. Social attitudes towards the value of certain work is definitely tied to our perceptions of the maleness or femaleness of certain duties.

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

Simon talks to Katha

Oct 29th, 2014 11:46 am | By

Simon Davis interviews Katha Pollitt for VICE on the launch of her new book saying why abortion is a good thing.

It’s not surprising that many people who don’t want to see all abortion clinics shut down have bought into a few of the assumptions of the pro-life movement. The result is what we have today: a situation where a majority of people believe abortion should be mostly legal but frowned upon.

Which is why I wrote that piece for Free Inquiry a few months ago.

It is precisely those people that Katha Pollitt, columnist for The Nation, wants to speak to in her new book Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights, which came out just as the Supreme Court intervened to halt a new Texas law that would close all but eight of the state’s abortion clinics. Pollitt not only lays out in extraordinary detail her opposition to a wide array of anti-abortion advocacy, but also takes the additional step of making her case for why abortion is a good thing. I reached out to her to find out more.

VICE: Unlike many other pro-choice advocates, you say abortion is a social good. Can you explain that?
Katha Pollitt: What I try to do in the book is to put abortion into the context of motherhood and society. And I say it is a good thing for society that children are born at a time when a woman—and the man, if there is one—are able to best take care of them. And society also benefits when women who are currently unbelievably hampered in every area of life when they become mothers can express all their talents and gifts and make a good life for themselves and the people in their families.

How could it not be? How could involuntary unwanted childbearing be a good thing? How could it not be vastly better to be able to choose when to have a baby and when not to? How could reluctant unhappy motherhood be a good thing??

What do you say to those who might dismiss the abortion debate as a “culture war” issue?
“Culture war” is about culture—pornography, or what books should be in the school library, or whether Harry Potter promotes witchcraft. But this is an issue that goes right to heart of whether women can ever be equal to men. Whether they can have the basic autonomies we give to men to decide what goes on in their bodies and what risks they’re going to take. What physical, emotional, and social risks they’re going to take. Basically it’s about making sure that women don’t remain vulnerable to pregnancy from their first period to their last period.

That question could have been worded as: What do you say to those who might dismiss the abortion debate by pointing to women who are put in sacks and beaten? It’s the same idea.

You have a chapter called “Are Women People?” Do you believe the anti-abortion movement denies women their humanity?
To me, that is the central issue. I think that if you say that at any moment in life a woman can be compelled, because of an accident, because of a failed condom, or she got carried away and, my God, had sex without protection—that this should derail her life. You can see how it basically means what she wants to do with her life is really not important.

That. I think there are depressingly many people who don’t think women are fully people – not as fully as men are. I think we get thousands of cues to this effect every day, and that the result is a stereotype of women that is emptier and thinner and more fundamentally trivial than the stereotype of men is. The war against abortion is one facet of this.

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

The devil’s work

Oct 29th, 2014 11:15 am | By

That zany pope. One minute he’s saying friendly things about evolution and gravity and shit, and the next he’s sharing the love with exorcists. Exorcists.

Just in time for Halloween and against an unspecified “steady increase” of demonic possession, Pope Francis thanked exorcists for showing the church’s “love for those possessed” by the devil.

About 300 exorcists from around the world attended a convention in Rome last weekend (Oct. 25-26) and their spokesman later expressed concern about the number of people turning to Satanism and the occult.

In a message sent to the Rev. Francesco Bamonte, who heads the International Association of Exorcists (known as AIE), Francis urged the experts to demonstrate “the church welcomes those suffering from the devil’s work.”

See, that’s silly, because there is no “the devil.” And it’s maleficent, because thinking there is such a thing as “the devil” can motivate people to do horrendous things to real people, including torture and murder. The pope shouldn’t be encouraging people to take that harmful bullshit seriously. The pope has a big microphone, and a lot of listeners who think they are obligated to accept every word he says as both true and binding.

Without citing specific numbers, AIE spokesman Valter Cascioli told Vatican Radio there has been a “steady increase” in the number of people turning to demonic practices and they are left suffering from serious spiritual and psychological damage.

“We are living in a particularly critical time in history, where urgency, superficiality, exasperated individualism, secularization seem to almost dominate our culture,” Cascioli said.

Ah there it is again – the linkage of “demonic practices” and secularization. Charming.

“The battle against evil is becoming more of an emergency. We are calling for major vigilance.”

Against secularization, and human rights (that’s what Catholics mean when they grumble about “individualism”). That’s what Catholics consider “evil.” Not the torture of children, not child-rape by priests, not the imprisonment of women who have committed no crime, but secularization and human rights.

And that’s where the pope finds his friends.

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

They spat holy water

Oct 29th, 2014 10:55 am | By

A tv show rented a newly constructed house in a suburb and set up appointments with several psychics to check on hidden spirits and forces and fossnagles. They also set up a dozen hidden cameras to capture the skilled professional checking.

[A] duo named Susan and Rev. Joseph said there was negative energy in the house. “It’s negative in the sense that it could cause setbacks, it can cause financial setbacks,” Susan said. To purge it, they burned incense and chanted all over the house, and claimed to have trapped the negative energy in a bottle.

Despite their supposed abilities, the psychics were not aware that Jeff Rossen had been monitoring their activities from a control room upstairs in the home. When he revealed himself to them, he asked: “How is it possible that you were able to find all of this negative energy? This is a brand-new house, no one’s lived in it before.”

“It’s not a haunted house, but spirits roam in empty places, they roam in hallways,” Susan said.

“Isn’t this just hocus pocus to take advantage of homeowners?” Rossen asked.

“No, no, no,” Rev. Joseph protested. As the pair spoke to Rossen, one of their associates tried to block the camera and scooped up the cash the Rossen team had brought to pay them.

Good thinking. Always scoop up the cash – even when you know you’re on camera.

When another team of psychics arrived, they announced: “There’s a presence of two or three entities here … They won’t let you feel comfortable here, you’ll just be stuck. [You] won’t be able to find a job. You’ll want to move.”

After the Rossen team agreed to let them help, they spat holy water, puffed cigar smoke, banged on the walls and rolled a coconut around. “Most likely there was domestic violence here,” a psychic named Medina declared. “Repeat to yourself, ‘the house is clear, the house is pure.'” Their fee was $1,021.

And there were others. The Duke and the Dauphin would be impressed.

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

Yes yes

Oct 28th, 2014 6:01 pm | By

Huh. Another Dear Muslima, because the last one worked out so well.


He appears to be talking, or to think he’s talking, about timidity in making moral judgments. But how odd, and how deeply unpleasant, that he chooses that example of all possible examples. That it’s the rights of US women he chooses to hold up to ridicule and hostility because they are less threatened than those of women in theocracies. It’s odd and deeply unpleasant the way they keep doing this – letting the mask slip.

Update: This is also a public Facebook post, which makes it easier to reply to.

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

A firm believer in gender equality

Oct 28th, 2014 5:39 pm | By

Katherine Adams explains her profound reservations about feminism*.

Like any other socially conscious woman, I am a firm believer in gender equality. Ending workplace discrimination, making reproductive health care affordable—I’ve championed these goals my whole life. They’re important to me, and that’s why the feminist movement frustrates me so much. I’m sorry, but I simply cannot and will not support feminism if it means murdering all men.

Typical boozhie liberal. You can’t make a lobster risotto without breaking eggs!

I understand why some people might believe the only way to advance women’s rights is to slaughter every man on the planet, but that sort of radical, explicitly homicidal position, which for all I know is a fundamental aspect of feminism, is exactly what makes me hesitate to call myself a feminist.

Do I agree with closing the pay gap, ensuring universal access to birth control, and ending the objectification of women? Absolutely, and if that’s all feminism were about, I would get on board without any hesitation. Assuming feminists start advocating that we hunt down all the world’s men and boys, load them onto trains bound for death camps, and systematically massacre them solely on the basis of their sex, then that’s where I draw the line.

Well then go get a job at the American Enterprise Institute, ya big sellout.

*At the Onion, she does this.

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

A vote on the “woman question”

Oct 28th, 2014 4:37 pm | By

I’m re-reading The Freethinkers. It’s a terrific book. I want to share a passage with you, from the chapter “Lost Connections: Anticlericalism, Abolitionism, and Feminism”:

The tension came to a head in New York City in May 1840, at the annual meeting of the American Anti-Slavery Society (of which Garrison had been a found member in 1833). In a Machiavellian Parliamentary maneuver, Garrison forced a vote on the “woman question” by appointing Abby Kelley, a Quaker and a great admirer of the Grimké sisters, to a post on the organization’s powerful business committee. Kelley’s appointment was confirmed by a close vote, but several hundred members – a minority, but a highly influential one – pronounced it a violation of the Scriptures to serve on a committee with a woman, walked out, and announced plans to form a breakaway antislavery organization. [p 83]

Does that sound familiar to you? It certainly does to me. It sounds like the New Left, for instance, which splintered and splintered again over “the woman question” in the late 60s and early 70s. It sounds like every political movement ever, because there are always people who want to work for these rights but not those, and/or people who say yes but we must not confuse the fight for these rights by adding the fight for those, and/or people who say what do those rights have to do with these rights, look it up in the dictionary. There are always people who say women’s rights can wait, or are completely different, or have already been achieved, or are a good idea but don’t require anyone to actually change anything.


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

Diego, paraaaaaa!

Oct 28th, 2014 4:02 pm | By

Now it’s Diego Maradona.

A leaked video has surfaced this week allegedly showing former Argentinian soccer star Diego Maradona hitting his ex-girlfriend.

According to the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, the video captures an intoxicated Maradona speaking to his ex, 24-year-old Rocío Oliva, in an aggressive manner before physically assaulting her.

“Stop! Stop! Stop hitting me,” the woman cries out in the clip, according to a NY Daily News translation.

One after another.


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