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.

It’s not personal

Jul 23rd, 2014 10:33 am | By

Sigh. I have someone badgering me via private messaging on Facebook trying to push me to agree that Jaclyn Glenn is a feminist, it’s just that she’s “a liberal feminist who doesn’t agree with radical feminism.”

I don’t know, that may be the way she sees herself, but it’s not what she’s said in any of the videos I’ve criticized recently (which are the only videos of hers I’ve seen). I’ve been criticizing what she says in the videos. That’s it. She says what she says, and I criticize that. If her meaning is something other than what she has said in those videos, it’s up to her to make that clear. It’s not up to friends of hers to do that, and it’s not up to me to take their word for what she really thinks.

Besides that, I don’t care. I wish both Glenn and her friends would stop making this personal. I don’t care about Glenn the person. I know nothing about her, and I’m not talking about her. I’m talking about what she has said. I don’t care about Glenn the person, I care about what she has said and seems likely to go on saying.

I don’t get why this seems to be so hard to grasp. Why would it be about Glenn the person? Why would it be about anything other than her product – the content of what she says? This isn’t school, or a job; we don’t have to get along personally. This isn’t personal; it’s public discourse.

Maybe her friend and supporter who keeps badgering me is right; maybe she does consider herself a feminist. It doesn’t follow that I have to agree that she is one. Sarah Palin once said she was a feminist. I don’t consider Sarah Palin a feminist.

This post too is not strictly speaking about Glenn; she’s just an example. It’s about the fact that public discourse is public discourse, and we get to respond to public discourse in public rather than in private. Her friend who’s been badgering me was also trying to push me to contact her privately, and rebuking me for saying I don’t have any friends who are friends of hers. All of this is wrong-headed, because it’s all an effort to short-circuit or divert public disagreement into some sort of back room deal. No. If the discourse starts in public, it should continue in public.

(Granted there are exceptions to that. If I were abusing her, then a private intervention would be fair. But I’m not abusing her.)

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

Let girls be girls

Jul 22nd, 2014 5:54 pm | By


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

Many girls remain at risk

Jul 22nd, 2014 5:53 pm | By

The BBC reports on the Girl Summit, which is addressing FGM and child marriage.

Hosted by the UK government and children’s charity Unicef, the summit is being attended by international politicians, campaigners including the Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai, and women who have undergone FGM.

The summit is also looking at ways to end forced marriage.

‘Big challenge’

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of UN Women, said the situation was improving but many girls remained at risk.

“The fact that 30 million girls are at risk of being cut in the coming years clearly means that we have a big challenge on our hands,” she said.

Priscilla Karim, who was forced to undergo FGM in Sierra Leone aged nine, described her ordeal.

She said: “I felt the worst pain of my life and a heavy object sitting on my chest and I just passed out.

“It’s like a taboo, they don’t tell you about it. You cannot tell anybody.”


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

The Girl Summit

Jul 22nd, 2014 5:44 pm | By

Today was #girlsummit.

Angélique Kidjo says why.

You can help end child marriage and female genital mutilation or cutting. Pledge your support: #GirlSummit 
The Girl Summit on 22 July will rally a global movement to end child, early and forced marriage and FGM for all girls within a generation. Doing this will help preserve girls’ childhoods, promote their education, reduce their exposure to violence and abuse, and allow them to fulfill their potential in life.

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

Credit where it’s due

Jul 22nd, 2014 4:16 pm | By

There was a sudden influx of first-time commenters, which puzzled me for a minute and then I realized Glenn must have responded (without contacting me directly, which I thought we were supposed to do, because she just said that…), so I looked at her Twitter and saw this:


JaclynGlenn @JaclynGlenn

Haha you look good in green!
FYI I didn’t write this bio. You can credit it (and the website) to @cultofdusty xD

I’m not sure what the “Haha you look good in green!” means. Is it that I’m jealous? I dunno.

I’m not going to contact her directly to ask, though, because I don’t want to talk to her. She doesn’t interest me. I think the harm she is doing with her anti-feminist videos is worth talking about, but that doesn’t mean I think she herself is interesting, and I don’t.

She also responded (without contacting me directly) on Facebook.


13 mutual friends…

Even though I said I don’t have any friends who are friends with her.

Yes, that’s right. I didn’t mean Facebook friends, not all of whom are friends. I meant actual friends, who are actual friends with her. I’m sure if I wanted to contact her directly I could find someone who would share her email address. That wasn’t what I meant. No, I’m not going to ask one or another Facebook friend to help me contact Glenn. In any case that was only item one. Item two was much more important:

Two – what she argues there makes no sense. She put out her video in public, so why shouldn’t I or anyone write about it in public? Why on earth does she expect people to have a personal conversation with her first? I don’t know her, I don’t have any friends who know her that I’m aware of, I don’t have connections with her, I don’t have a history of talking to her – why would I try to talk to her before I write about a YouTube video of hers? She has two hundred thousandsubscribers – that’s the population of a small city. Why would I have to ask her what she meant in her video when her video is already out there? What is made public is what is made public; it doesn’t matter what the intentions were, what matters is what is made public. If she didn’t make herself clear, she can make another video to make herself clear, but it’s not my job or any critic’s job to interview her before criticizing her video. She didn’t interview me before bashing feminism, did she.

She puts out videos without consulting me. I’m allowed to criticize her videos without consulting her. It’s that simple.

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

In the world

Jul 22nd, 2014 1:18 pm | By

Update: Yes I know she didn’t write it herself. She still has it on her About page.

Jaclyn Glenn explains about herself on the About page of her website.

With her sharp wit, good looks, and smashing sense of humor, Jaclyn Glenn has quickly become the new “it” girl in the atheist community. Her hit Youtube channel, JaclynGlenn has rocketed passed 200,000 subscriptions in no time flat and millions have been entertained by her quirky view of the world.

Even Richard Dawkins is unable to avoid her charm, as the king of atheism counts himself as a fan. She’s hot, she’s smart, she’s funny, shes’s off the wall, and she’s definitely NOT CRAZY! What more could you ask for?

As an L.A native, Jaclyn appears often on TV shows and is a popular speaker at local campuses. She is one of the main female spokespeople in the world for the atheist community, and when she’s not busy kicking Ray Comfort in the balls with Logic, she’s usually busy laying the smackdown on Muslim extremists, anti-gay bigots, and anyone else with an ignorant outdated dogma that needs to be crushed.

Be sure to check out Jaclyn Glenn’s Youtube Channel for some of the best entertainment to be found on the tubes.

There’s a lot I could say about that, but I’ll just say this one thing. It’s not true that she is “one of the main female spokespeople in the world for the atheist community.” No. That’s not true at all. She may well be one of the most popular, but that’s not the same thing. She’s not a spokesperson at all, because she’s not good enough at it. She doesn’t reason carefully enough, she doesn’t write carefully enough, she doesn’t speak carefully enough. Also, she’s not “in the world” enough to be one of the main female spokespeople in the world for the atheist community. My friend Taslima Nasreen is one of those, for sure. But Jaclyn Glenn? No. Not yet.

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

You said it yourself, you’re a writer, not a diplomat

Jul 22nd, 2014 11:07 am | By

You knew it was on the way – another Jaclyn Glenn video about the horrors of what she chooses to call (without defining it) “Extreme Feminism.” This time (oh the honor) she goes after me, although without naming me.

She starts by saying she’s going to talk about all the drama that’s been going on for the past couple of weeks. There’s disdain in the way she says “drama” – which is a bit rich, considering how much “drama” there is about her own videos. Does she think they’re calm and cool and carefully reasoned?

She talks about “not all priests!” and “not all Tea Partiers!” and being defensive, and says it’s better to acknowledge faults rather than shout “not all.” That’s true enough, but then it’s also better to be precise about what the faults are and who has them, which she hasn’t done in the anti-feminism videos of hers that I’ve seen so far.

She says people were “offended” by her last video, which shows her she “hit pretty close to home.” No it doesn’t; not necessarily. It could be that it was just a shit video attacking feminism, and that that’s why people thought it was bad and wrong.

About eight minutes in is the bit where she gets to me.

One of my pet peeves is a lack of direct communication, if you’re a friend or a friend of a friend I wish that they would try to actually talk to me before making things a public issue – don’t assume that you know my intentions. I’m actually not that difficult to get a hold of and one of these bloggers fits that description but didn’t make an attempt to contact me directly because I have this exaggerated number of fans – [she shows an image of a comment of mine on my post about last week's video] – you know what you didn’t try, you didn’t want to, you said it yourself, you’re a writer, not a diplomat [picture of dictionary definition of diplomat] well that’s pretty clear because a definition of a diplomat is a person who can deal with people in a sensitive and effective way, well sensitive is one thing but effective is the key word here, she’s not necessarily concerned with being effective because she’s a writer, they like stories and plots are lame without a villain, my hair’s already pretty dark so why not, they’ll use any method to bring me down, they’ll attack me with other things, they will focus on things totally irrelevant to my criticism of extreme feminism because it’s easier to bring me down than to actually address my points because remember, admitting error is demonized.

The transcription is as is – there are no periods because there are none in the video, she doesn’t punctuate her own speech.

So anyway. One, no, I don’t fit that description: I don’t have any friends who are friends with her. Two – what she argues there makes no sense. She put out her video in public, so why shouldn’t I or anyone write about it in public? Why on earth does she expect people to have a personal conversation with her first? I don’t know her, I don’t have any friends who know her that I’m aware of, I don’t have connections with her, I don’t have a history of talking to her – why would I try to talk to her before I write about a YouTube video of hers? She has two hundred thousand subscribers – that’s the population of a small city. Why would I have to ask her what she meant in her video when her video is already out there? What is made public is what is made public; it doesn’t matter what the intentions were, what matters is what is made public. If she didn’t make herself clear, she can make another video to make herself clear, but it’s not my job or any critic’s job to interview her before criticizing her video. She didn’t interview me before bashing feminism, did she.

Later she sums up her approach again.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with disagreeing with someone as long as you keep it respectful and make an attempt to work past your differences. That’s all I’m asking for; I think all the drama that’s been going on recently is pathetic because like we’ve seen – they’re writers, not diplomats.

That’s ridiculous. She doesn’t “keep it respectful” herself – she mocks and jeers and sneers and dons a wig. It’s absurd for her to complain about “drama” and lack of respect.

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

Freedom to refuse

Jul 22nd, 2014 9:19 am | By

Here’s my July column for the Freethinker, on the Freethinker’s shiny new website.

Ramadan clearly is widely treated as compulsory, sometimes at the state level and much more at the familial level (which tends to bleed into the neighborhood and the “community” – the notional, non-physical community as well as the literal neighborhood-surrounding one).

I consider this worrying, although I don’t think much can be done about it beyond a slow non-coercive persuasion. I do think it’s worrying that to obey a religious “command” parents can compel their older (past puberty) children to go without food and water from sunrise to sunset.

If that were punishment it would be considered abusive, and perhaps needing intervention by child protection agencies. Parents aren’t normally supposed to make their children go without water and food for 12, 15, 20 daylight hours for a month. Taking away sweets is one thing, taking away all food and drink is another.

Well isn’t it? Shouldn’t everyone be perfectly free to decline to do that? Especially minor children?

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

Not to bend once again

Jul 21st, 2014 3:59 pm | By

All right, one piece of good news. Obama signed the tweaked ENDA today and it did not include a religious exemption. Woohoo!

President Barack Obama signed a highly anticipated executive order Monday, which amends the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to include LGBT workers. The executive order restricts all federal branches and federal contractors from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The order takes effect immediately for federal employees. Federal contractors will have provisions in place by early 2015, according to the Huffington Post.

ENDA, who has been expanded by several presidents, previously restricted the federal government from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, but the executive order added gender identity to that restriction. This is the first time an LGBT-centric restriction was put on federal contractors.

Obama’s executive order did not include a religious exemption that many in the LGBT community feared would provide a loophole to religiously-affiliated businesses.

And many in the secular and civil liberties communities, too.

“We applaud today’s executive order, which demonstrates a concrete commitment to nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity,” said Gary Buseck, interim executive director of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), in a statement. “It’s a step that will make the workplace better and fairer for LGBT employees …”

CFI says good job.

The Center for Inquiry, an organization which advances science, reason, and secular values, has been urging President Barack Obama not to include a religious exemption in his Executive Order barring federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT Americans – whether or not those contractors consider themselves “religious” or “religiously affiliated.” Today, the president indeed signed the order without those religious exemptions.

Michael De Dora, director of CFI’s Office of Public Policy had this to say about the signing of the new Executive Order, which amends Executive Orders 11246 and 11478:

“We applaud President Obama for issuing an Executive Order that will protect LGBT Americans from discrimination by federal contractors. We are especially relieved and encouraged that the president has chosen not to bend once again to the enormous pressure applied by religious interests, but has recognized that, at the very least, taxpayer funded work must never be done under the shadow of discrimination. This will ensure that all LGBT individuals are protected—including those who work for federal contractors that consider themselves religious.

“Too often religious beliefs are used as an excuse to avoid obeying laws that apply to everyone else, as the regrettable Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case illustrates. While there is still room for improvement in this new order – the president has once again refused to close a Bush-era loophole that allows religiously affiliated federal contractors to favor individuals of the same faith when hiring – it is a welcome step in the right direction, toward a secular government in which religion can’t be used as a shield for prejudice and unequal treatment.”

CFI was among at least 98 organizations asking the president not to include the religious exemption language, which was sought by a variety of religious groups and leaders.

Too bad about not closing the loophole letting goddy contractors hire fellow goddy types though.

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

Full-time professional unpaid volunteer

Jul 21st, 2014 2:50 pm | By

Cheerleaders for the professional football team the Buffalo Bills are mostly unpaid.

A Jill is paid next to nothing—no money for gameday cheering, none for practice, none for the bulk of her minimum 20 personal appearances, none from the tips she receives but must turn in during the mandatory Jills Golf Tournament—and is classified by the team as a volunteer/independent contractor, though the thickness and thoroughness of the handbook makes you wonder just how independent she is.

They’re “volunteers” but they sure do have to follow a lot of rules for people who are volunteers.

The bottom document is the “NFL Buffalo Jills Cheerleaders Agreement & Codes of Conduct 2013-2014,” which is essentially the boilerplate rulebook for cheerleaders around the league. There, the basic practice and gameday rules are laid out, including how many excused absences from practice a cheerleader is allowed before dismissal, where she must get her hair done, and the scores of ways she can be fined, benched, or dismissed. It’s allprettystandard.

The more interesting stuff is in the 12-page list of glamour, etiquette, and hygiene rules. This is where we see just how much of a peppy automaton a cheerleader has to be. Shoulds and musts abound. “Hair must be worn in a glamorous style with no clips or tie-backs,” the cheerleaders are told. “A full curled or slightly bent, free-flowing style is required. Short hair must be worn full and fabulous!”

“Cheerleading” itself is actually acrobatics, and it’s quite athletic and skilled – but along with that the athletes have to be girly and pretty and perky.

There are the instructions on how to facilitate a breezy yet enjoyable conversation (everything quoted below is sic):

14. Do not be overly opinionated about anything. Do not complain about anything- ever hang out with a whiner? It’s exhausting and boring.

Well that’s me out right there. Opinionating and complaining is the sum total of what I do.

I’m kidding. It’s really because my back-flip isn’t good enough.

Always avoid:
-Sexual references
-Talking “about last night”
-Don’t try talk about your personal life: job, boyfriends, what you’re doing later, etc…
-Inappropriate jokes
-Strong opinions

It would be quicker to say what they can talk about.

No need to avoid:

-The weather

Go team.

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

Peasants’ entrance

Jul 21st, 2014 12:51 pm | By

There’s a new residential high-rise going up in New York that will have separate entrances for rich people and not-rich people. No this time it’s not the Onion. It’s for real.

Extell Development Company, the firm behind the new building, announced its intentions to segregate the rich and poor to much outrage last year. Fifty-five of the luxury complex’s 219 units would be marked for low-income renters—netting some valuable tax breaks for Extell—with the caveat that the less fortunate tenants would stick to their own entrance.

The city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development approved Extell’s Inclusionary Housing Program application for the 33-story tower this week, the New York Post reports. The status grants Extell the aforementioned tax breaks and the right to construct a larger building than would ordinarily be allowed. According to the Daily Mailaffordable housing tenants will enter through a door situated on a “back alley.”

Anything else? Piranhas? A row of burning tires between the alley and the door? Buckets of decomposing sludge emptied on the differently moneyed as they open the door?

Any of the unwashed folk who complain about such a convenient arrangement, of course, are just being ungrateful. As the Mail points out, fellow poor-door developer David Von Spreckelsen explained as much last year:

“No one ever said that the goal was full integration of these populations,” said David Von Spreckelsen, senior vice president at Toll Brothers. “So now you have politicians talking about that, saying how horrible those back doors are. I think it’s unfair to expect very high-income homeowners who paid a fortune to live in their building to have to be in the same boat as low-income renters, who are very fortunate to live in a new building in a great neighborhood.”

But it’s not a boat. They don’t get in a boat to go to their respective apartments. It’s an entrance. It’s a door, and an approach to a door, and a lobby or hall. There’s no need to worry about a boat; it’s just the entrance to a posh apartment building. The rich people won’t be made filthy and malodorous merely by using the same front door and lobby that the less-rich people use. They won’t be assailed by intolerable smells and sounds merely by proximity to people who aren’t millionaires.

But this is America, where we believe that only good people are rich and only evil people are poor.

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


Jul 21st, 2014 12:35 pm | By

Hemant Mehta, the “friendly” atheist, is promoting a video by the “amazing” atheist now, the one who has such an “amazing” attitude toward women.

Not all that friendly to women, is he.

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

No intention of providing the full range of services

Jul 20th, 2014 5:44 pm | By

They’re taking over. No not Martians, not gremlins, not chemtrails, but anti-abortion people going into health care work in order to undermine it.

As more states push bills to strip family planning funding from Planned Parenthoods, or relocate funding so that Planned Parenthood affiliates are last in line, other clinics that provide care to low-income and uninsured residents will be forced to shoulder the burden of reproductive health care services, especially when it comes to offering birth control.

Yet, as a case in Florida shows us, those clinics are now being drawn into the war on contraception thanks to “pro-life” medical specialists who are seeking positions within those networks with absolutely no intention of providing the full range of services the clinics were set up to offer. And sadly, refusing to hire these people won’t work as then you’d be facing a discrimination lawsuit.

I told you. I told you it was the camel’s nose under the tent, all this letting pharmacists refuse to do their jobs because “religious freedom.” I told you but YOU WOULDN’T LISTEN.

Sara Hellwege applied for a job at Tampa Family Health Centers (TFHC), but was turned down. According to lawyers representing Hellwege, by refusing her an interview after noting that she was a member of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG) and learning that she would refuse to offer hormonal contraception, TFHC has discriminated against her on the basis of her religion.

Say what? She told them she would refuse to do part of the job, so they didn’t hire her – so that’s discrimination?

This is just batshit.

“Hellwege’s lawsuit accuses TFHC of religious discrimination, and violating both state and federal laws that protect medical professionals from being forced to participate in abortions,” reports Lifesite News. “She is seeking $400,000 in damages, plus a fine of at least $75,000 and forfeiture of all federal funding until the company aligns its employment policies with anti-discrimination laws.”

Those laws? Those godawful horrendous laws that protect medical professionals from being forced to participate in abortions? They need to go. Yesterday. 


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

Prepare for amazement

Jul 20th, 2014 12:47 pm | By

We saw yesterday that Jaclyn “stop all this divisiveness!!” Glenn is a fan or friend or both of The Amazing Atheist.

amazMy knowledge of what exactly is horrible about the Amazing Atheist was a little rusty though (well there are so many misogynist ragers among the atheists) so I went looking for details. And found them.

RationalWiki has a useful entry.

What a guy…

As an example of his respect and care for his fellow humans, in his pompous and self-indulgent e-book Scumbag: Musings of a Subhuman (2007), Kincaid writes:[3]

Rape isn’t fatal. So imagine my indignation when I saw a chatroom called “Rape Survivors.” Is this supposed to impress me? Someone fucked you when you didn’t want to be fucked and you’re amazed that you survived? Unless he used a chainsaw instead of his dick, what’s the big deal? … The word survivor applies to people who are alive after being stabbed 73 times with an ice pick or mauled by rabid wolverines, not to a woman who gets dick when she doesn’t want it. Just because you got raped, you have to rape the English language? You vindictive bitch! Also, don’t you ever get tired of being the victim? How many failed relationships are you going to blame on a single violation of your personal space?

In the following section, Kincaid recalls a female acquaintance who rejected a guy for his small penis size. The anecdote culminates in Kincaid’s hilarious punchline:[4]

I told her, “You’re lucky it wasn’t me. I’d have busted your fucking nose and raped you.”

The “Sex” segment of the book closes with the chapter “Tits vs. Ass: The Final Showdown,” which features a helpful comparison chart of pros and cons, with such charming observations as tits being “hard to stare at without the girl noticing,” while “you can take a picture [of her ass] and she won’t be any the wiser.”[5]

And then there’s the “drown in rape semen” item.

On February 2012, in a thread on the MensRights subreddit about a disasteful username on a feminist board, he made a “joke” about how he wanted to violently rape one of its users. When he was informed the person in question was an actual rape victim and called out by said person for his abusive language and lack of respect for people with post-traumatic stress disorder, he complained about the very concept of trigger warnings and posted further graphic descriptions of how he would rape her again in a deliberate attempt to make her relive her trauma. Choice statements include “I will make you a rape victim if you don’t fuck off.” and “I think we should give the guy who raped you a medal. I hope you fucking drown in rape semen, you ugly, mean-spirited cow.”[1] Supposedly this was some sort of clever satire of… something.[17] This “Amazing” guy was taken to task by PZ Myers and others for his misogyny.[18][19] [20] He did eventually apologize, but refused to make it public because that would mean admitting that threatening to rape people on the internet is crossing a line.[21]

And Jaclyn “stop all this divisiveness!!” Glenn is a fan and perhaps friend of that guy. The Jaclyn Glenn whose anti-feminsm video Richard Dawkins called “brilliant” yesterday. Yeah I’m really going to take advice on how to be not divisive from that Jaclyn Glenn.

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

We will send you to the cemetery where you will be safe

Jul 20th, 2014 7:52 am | By

A pretty story from Afghanistan:

It was bad enough that the alleged rape took place in the sanctity of a mosque, and that the accused man was a mullah who invoked the familiar defense that it had been consensual sex.

But the victim was only 10 years old. And there was more: The authorities said her family members openly planned to carry out an “honor killing” in the case — against the young girl. The mullah offered to marry his victim instead.

Just gorgeous, isn’t it? The mullah said it was consensual – when the girl he raped was ten years old. And he’s a mullah. In a mosque.

Plus the bit about her family’s plans to kill her.

And it gets even more wonderful, because she was in a shelter, but this week the police took her out of the shelter and gave her back to her family – so that they could kill her easily, I guess.

The head of the Women for Afghan Women shelter here where the girl took refuge, Dr. Hassina Sarwari, was at one point driven into hiding by death threats from the girl’s family and other mullahs, who sought to play down the crime by arguing the girl was much older than 10. One militia commander sent Dr. Sarwari threatening texts and an ultimatum to return the girl to her family. The doctor said she now wanted to flee Afghanistan.

The head of the women’s affairs office in Kunduz, Nederah Geyah, who actively campaigned to have the young girl protected from her family and the mullah prosecuted, resigned on May 21 and moved to another part of the country.

The case itself would just be an aberrant atrocity, except that the resulting support for the mullah, and for the girl’s family and its honor killing plans, have become emblematic of a broader failure to help Afghan women who have been victims of violence.

Support for the mullah. How does that even work? Even in their terms? Why would anyone support the man while at the same time supporting the family’s plan to kill the girl? Are they thinking the girl raped the mullah?

Most of the anger in Kunduz has been focused not on the mullah but on the women’s activists and the shelter, which is one of seven operated across Afghanistan by Women for Afghan Women, an Afghan-run charity that is heavily dependent on American aid, from both government and private donors.

So…the raped girl is a kind of American by proxy, and that’s why they support the mullah?

Yes but then there’s that hole he punched in the wall of her vagina.

The accused mullah, Mohammad Amin, was arrested and confessed to having sex with the girl after Quran recitation classes at the mosque on May 1, but claimed that he thought the girl was older and that she responded to his advances.

The girl’s own testimony, and medical evidence, supported a rape so violent that it caused a fistula, or a break in the wall between the vagina and rectum, according to the police and the official bill of indictment. She bled so profusely after the attack that she was at one point in danger of losing her life because of a delay in getting medical care.

After the two women’s officials began speaking out about the case, they started receiving threatening calls from mullahs — some of them Taliban, others on the government side — and from arbakai, or pro-government militiamen. One of their claims was that the girl was actually 17, and thus of marriageable age, not 10.

And that fistula was totally consensual and legitimate.

Photographs of the girl that Dr. Sarwari took in the hospital clearly show a pre-pubescent child, and the doctor said the girl weighed only 40 pounds. Few Afghans have birth records, and many do not know their precise ages. But the girl’s mother said she was 10, and a forensic examination in the hospital agreed, saying she had not yet started menstruating or developing secondary sexual characteristics.

Well…maybe the mullah doesn’t see very well.

In the hospital room, the doctor found the girl’s mother holding her child’s hand, and both were weeping. “My daughter, may dust and soil protect you now,” Dr. Sarwari quoted the mother as saying. “We will make you a bed of dust and soil. We will send you to the cemetery where you will be safe.”

Even mothers here often believe that there is no choice but to kill rape victims, who are seen as unmarriageable and therefore a lifelong burden to their families, as well as a constant reminder of dishonor. “Their men feel they have to wash their shame with blood,” Dr. Sarwari said.

And last Tuesday she went back to them. She’s probably dead now – in her bed of dust and soil, safe in the cemetery.

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

Guest post: When the concept of privilege is raised in any other context

Jul 20th, 2014 7:19 am | By

Originally a comment by SC (Salty Current) on When a group is an acceptable target for hostility.

The suggestion that atheists privileged on other dimensions don’t face anything that could be recognized as oppression as atheists is wrong and unhelpful. Probably the element of anti-atheist prejudice that should be most concerning is the suggestion that atheists aren’t fully human* – that we lack some spiritual quality or knowledge or essence that limits us intellectually or ethically or even makes us dangerous. It should be easy enough to see the similarities with misogynistic and anti-Semitic ideas.

One problem, though, is that the insight that the treatment of atheists shares important features with that of other groups has been extremely difficult to impress upon some white male atheists who continue to spew and actively or tacitly support sexist, misogynistic, racist, transphobic rhetoric. Dawkins, for example, can deride journalists who say atheists aren’t fully human or archbishops claiming that reason is dangerous and leads to genocide; he seems to have more difficulty imagining growing up and living as an atheist in societies completely organized around such views or seeing the similarities with patriarchal or colonial ideologies.

They contest the misrepresentations of atheists by religious people and religious apologists – the portrayal of calm criticism as shrill ranting, the claims that we seek to oppress religious people and silence dissent, the mint julep tall tales,… But they can’t seem to recognize the same patterns of misrepresentation when they’re used against feminists. They resent the condescending suggestions from faitheists that our “strident” tone and refusal to abide by rules of civility that perpetuate the religious status quo are unethical and alienating allies, but they’ll turn around and demand that feminists adopt a compliant, “civil” attitude even in the face of vicious abuse.

They call attention to the various aspects of religious privilege that exist even in more secular societies, but then adopt a pose of utter stupidity when the concept of privilege is raised in any other context. They argue that we don’t want to be accepted as “as good” as religious people – that we don’t just want a place at the faith table, but are fundamentally challenging the assumptions about the moral and societal value of faith. But they don’t see the connection to those of us who are saying that we seek something beyond legal equality (though we want that, too) and challenging the culture of white male supremacy.

Appreciating that the treatment of atheists shares important features with other oppressions should lead in one direction: toward recognition of the need for solidarity with the victims of those other oppressions. Sadly, the reason it hasn’t in some cases appears to be that they view the treatment of atheists as illegitimate and the treatment of these other groups as legitimate. But perhaps pointing to the similarities across the beliefs and narratives and practices might prove enlightening.

* “Fully human” is speciesist dreck in general and urgently needs to go.

** The differences aren’t negligible, of course, and the societies most oppressive of atheists are far worse to women.


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

International Day to Defy Fasting Rules

Jul 20th, 2014 7:10 am | By

It’s happening right now in Hyde Park.

The Bread and Roses team will be at Hyde Park across from Serpentine cafe at 1pm on Sunday 20 July to defy fasting rules during Ramadan in solidarity with the many beaten, harassed, flogged and arrested for eating and drinking during Ramadan in Iran and elsewhere. You can either join our picnic if you are close by or hold you own picnic of fast-defying event. Be sure to send us photos or videos of your day!

To show your support, also join the International Day to Defy Ramadan Fasting Rules on Facebook:

Onwards towards an international movement defying fasting laws!

You can find out more about the event here:

A media outlet associated with the Islamic regime of Iran has condemned a Bread and Roses TV programme in which we drink wine and eat bread in solidarity with all the people who are faced with the Islamic regime of Iran’s security forces and thugs during Ramadan. Those who violate compulsory fasting rules face criminal offences and are met with harassment, beatings, 10 days to 2 months in prison and 74 lashes. (These restrictions can also be found in many others countries from Saudi Arabia to Morocco.)

I’d be there if I were in London, I can tell you.

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

The waste

Jul 19th, 2014 5:30 pm | By

Oh shit I hadn’t seen this until just now. The Guardian yesterday:

As many as 100 of the world’s leading HIV/Aids researchers and advocates may have been on the Malaysia Airlines flight that crashed in Ukraine, in what has been described as a “devastating” blow to efforts to tackle the virus.

The Voice of America this morning, which is the most recent I can find:

The international AIDS community is reeling from the loss of many as 100 researchers who died when Malaysia Airlines flight 17 crashed in eastern Ukraine. They were en route to an AIDS conference that is about to begin in Australia.  Among the dead, a leader in AIDS research, Dr. Joep Lange.

Dr. Joup Lange changed the world’s view on who should receive medications to treat HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.  He was en route to Melbourne, Australia, to participate in the International AIDS Conference which begins on Sunday.

Dr. Clifford Lane, from the National Institutes of Health, told VOA Dr. Lange’s death is a tragic blow for many people who work in AIDS treatment and research.

Jesus fucking christ it’s hard to think of anything worse – a bigger loss to human beings all over the planet, in one instant of god damn idiot stupid wasteful destructive bonehead VIOLENCE.

I feel sick. I want to wrench the clock backwards.

“He was one of the first people to see the value of doing clinical research in developing country settings at a point in time when many people thought that was not the right thing to do,” he Lane.

Lane said Dr. Lange led the effort to provide drugs to poor people with HIV in developing countries at a time when these medications were only available in the developed world.

“He was able to show quite clearly from his work that there was no reason why anyone in the world with an HIV infection shouldn’t have access to drugs that are so effective in preventing that disease, and in fact, turning it around,” he said.

And 100 others, working on AIDS research.


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

When a group is an acceptable target for hostility

Jul 19th, 2014 4:47 pm | By

Stephanie makes a very important point in “You’re Not Oppressed, White Atheist Dudes”.

Mild forms of oppression don’t historically stay mild. When a group is an acceptable target for hostility in normal times, this increases their acute risk under more unusual circumstances. Marginalized groups are more likely to be scapegoated in times of economic stresses or societal upheaval. People from marginalized groups are more likely to be considered “safe” targets of random aggression or to be the object of the rare dangerous paranoid delusion.

That that that that that.

I think that’s what’s happening right now with respect to women, and it scares me. Not for myself, but for women and girls in worse circumstances.

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


Jul 19th, 2014 3:52 pm | By

Another variety not to give.

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