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.

Enhancing public safety

Feb 9th, 2015 12:48 pm | By

The Wiltshire police explained that all they were doing was making an assessment of community tensions for the purpose of stamping them out. That’s all. Kindly meant. No harm done. Clear off out of it.

Wiltshire Police has now confirmed that an officer did visit a local shop in Corsham to request the names of those who had purchased the copies of the magazine and issued an apology “to the members of the public who may be affected by this”.

A Wiltshire Police spokesman said: “Following the terrorism incident in Paris, France on 7 January 2015, Wiltshire Police undertook an assessment of community tensions across the county.

Ah yes, that’ll be the problem. When British Authority undertakes an assessment of community tensions, it always does so with an eye to telling everyone to shut entirely up about Islam and its prophet. That seems to be all it can think of to do. If Hitler came back they’d tell everyone to shut up about Nazism, so they would.

“As part of this work, local sector policing teams were asked to be mindful of business premises, in particular newsagents who may be distributing the Charlie Hebdo magazine and to consider that these shops may be vulnerable.

“There was no specific threat nationally and nothing to suggest newsagents in particular would be vulnerable.

“A police officer visited a local shop and post office in Corsham to make an assessment of community tensions and, if appropriate, encourage the newsagent’s owner to be vigilant.

“During this conversation the officer requested information about subscribers to the Charlie Hebdo magazine.”

For what possible purpose other than harassing them in some way?

“Wiltshire Police would like to apologise to the members of public who may be affected by this. Information relating to this specific incident has been permanently and securely disposed of.

“Wiltshire Police are confident that the police officer’s intention was purely around enhancing public safety and ensuring that the newsagent was advised appropriately.”

Right, enhancing public safety by telling everyone to forget all about Charlie Hebdo. There’s no other reason to ask about it.

What a shower.

Updating to share Gnu atheism’s commentary –

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

A member of Her Majesty’s police service visited

Feb 9th, 2015 12:26 pm | By

A letter to the Guardian

Your offer of commemorative badges in support of journalistic freedomhighlighting “Je suis Charlie”, prompts me to suggest a degree of caution following my experience. Tongue in cheek, I asked my helpful newsagents to obtain a copy of the edition of Charlie Hebdo issued after the dreadful massacre in Paris, if indeed a copy was ever available in north Wiltshire. To my surprise, a copy arrived last Wednesday week and although the standard of content in no way matches that of the Guardian I will cherish it. However, two days later a member of Her Majesty’s police service visited said newsagent, requesting the names of the four customers who had purchased Charlie Hebdo. So beware, your badges may attract police interest in your customers.
Anne Keat
Corsham, Wiltshire

The names. Since when do newsagents even take the names of people who buy newspapers or magazines from them? But much more to the point…wtf? Why did they ask?

They’ve apparently apologized now, but I still don’t know why they asked.

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

Pursue the blasphemers

Feb 9th, 2015 12:15 pm | By

Ireland has ambitions to become another Pakistan, the Guardian reports.

The sale of the Charlie Hebdo magazine published after the Paris atrocity is threatening to become the first major test of the Irish Republic’s blasphemy law, Muslim representatives and secularists have warned.

Ireland’s Islamic Cultural Centre has said the presence of a depiction of the prophet Muhammad on the front page of the satirical publication, on sale now in Irish shops, is a clear breach of the country’s blasphemy legislation.

The Irish Republic is the only nation in Europe to have introduced a blasphemy law in the 21st century.

What a distinction, eh?

Ahmed Hasain, the executive secretary of the Islamic Cultural Centre in Dublin, said: “In our view, the sale of this magazine is a breach in Irish law. It is blasphemous and it is illegal under the legislation. It’s against the law here in Ireland, that is quite clear.”

Hasain said that while the centre has not decided whether or not to lodge a complaint to the Irish authorities, individuals or groups have the right under Irish law to use the legislation to prosecute those distributing the magazine since last week.

That’s the part that makes Ireland more like Pakistan. It’s a ridiculous and dangerous provision of the already ridiculous and dangerous law. Does Ireland want people killing each other over religion? Again?

He described the law introduced by the former Fianna Fáil justice minister, Dermot Ahern, as very helpful. “It’s good that the law is in place as it protects every faith,” he said.

Nope, it’s bad, because no religion should be “protected” in that way.

And what about this Islamic Cultural Center of Ireland? Is it the spontaneous product of Irish Muslims getting together and creating it?

The Benefactor

In 1992 Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum (deputy ruler of Dubai) agreed to sponsor the construction and operation of the ICCI to provide new facilities for the Dublin Muslim community. A 4-acre site was purchased including a training-centre that had previously been a school. In 1993, this became the location of the Muslim National School. Construction of the Islamic Cultural Centre began in 1993.

Well at least it wasn’t a Saudi sheikh.

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

Clarence House declined to comment

Feb 9th, 2015 9:22 am | By

Damn. I was all set to take back much of what I’d said about Prince Charles, because newspaper headlines were saying he was going to urge the Saudi king to stop Raif’s flogging. For a few seconds I was elated, because that would surely make a difference – coming from a fellow monarch and an important ally. But then I read the body of the story and it turns out it’s all just claiming.

Headline in the IB Times: Prince Charles to urge Saudi king to halt blogger Raif Badawi’s flogging


Prince Charles is rumoured to discuss jailed Saudi activist Raif Badawi’s floggings with Saudi Arabia’s new King when he visits the Kingdom this week, reported Reuters.

According to the official itinerary of Prince Charles’s six-day Middle East tour, he is due to meet senior members of the royal family in his 12th official visit to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday (10 February).

Clarence House, however, declined to comment if he will be meeting King Salman and said reports that the Prince will discuss Badawi’s case were “speculation”.

Oh really. Then why present it as fact in the headline?! Tricksters.

Reuters has more (and a less deceptive headline):

Britain’s Prince Charles will intervene in the case of a jailed Saudi blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes and urge Saudi Arabia’s new king to halt the punishment, the Mail on Sunday newspaper reported.

Charles embarked on a six-day tour of the Middle East this weekend beginning in Jordan and is expected to also visit Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. His office is not commenting on his exact agenda and the content of any meetings until they are underway.

But the Mail on Sunday, without citing sources, said the heir to the British throne would intervene in the case of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, who was arrested in June 2012 for offences including insulting Islam, cyber crime and disobeying his father, which is a crime in Saudi Arabia.

It cited unnamed British diplomatic sources as saying the intervention might carry more clout given his royal status.

So it might be true.

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

Ray Moore says No

Feb 9th, 2015 8:48 am | By

Oh goody, it’s Brown v Board all over again – with reactionary officials defying a federal court in a last ditch effort to deny people civil rights. Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court last night told the state’s probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Monday. George Wallace lives!

“Effective immediately, no probate judge of the State of Alabama nor any agent or employee of any Alabama probate judge shall issue or recognize a marriage license that is inconsistent” with the Alabama Constitution or state law, the chief justice wrote in his order.

The order, coming just hours before the January decisions of United States District Court Judge Callie V. S. Granade were scheduled to take effect, was almost certainly going to thrust this state into legal turmoil. It was not immediately clear how the state’s 68 probate judges, who, like Chief Justice Moore, are popularly elected, would respond to the order.

District Court is higher than a state Supreme Court, as I understand it. State courts aren’t supposed to flout rulings by District Courts. But then this is Roy Moore…

Some judges across the state had already signaled they would do nothing to aid gay couples and, in some instances, any couples. “Marriage licenses and ceremonies are no longer available at the Pike County Probate Office,” the office said.

And Washington County Probate Judge Nick Williams released a “declaration in support of marriage” in which he said he would “only issue marriage licenses and solemnize ceremonies consistent with Alabama law and the U.S. Constitution; namely, between one man and one woman only, so help me God.”

Several judges elsewhere announced variations of those plans after a push by Chief Justice Moore, who rose to national prominence in the early 2000s when he defied a federal judge’s order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from a Montgomery building and was subsequently ousted from his post leading the high court. He staged a political comeback, became chief justice again in 2013, and has in recent weeks said that Alabama’s probate judges are not bound by a federal trial court’s decisions. His argument has deep resonance in a place where a governor, George Wallace, stood in a doorway of the University of Alabama in 1963 in an unsuccessful bid to block its federally ordered integration.

Right, it has deep resonance. Deep, bad resonance.

Although much has changed from Wallace’s era, Chief Justice Moore had used a series of strongly worded letters and memorandums to insist that Judge Granade, an appointee of President George W. Bush who joined the federal bench in 2002, had instigated a grave breach of law.

The result had been a legal and cultural debate rife with overtones of history, closely held religious beliefs and a chronically bubbling mistrust of the federal government that was expected to play out at Alabama’s courthouses Monday.

Yay! Let’s have this fight all over again. Let’s draw a line in the sand denying other people civil rights so that we can hog all the civil rights to our own sweet Christian selves. Let’s pride ourselves on being the wrong side of history and the wrong side of all human rights issues. Let’s make a big point of oppressing minority groups for no reason other than to puff up ourselves and our imagined god.

The chief justice’s misgivings speak to widespread concerns here about federal overreach and same-sex marriage in Alabama, where about 81 percent of voters in 2006 supported a constitutional amendment banning gay nuptials. Few here doubt the force of his belief that Judge Granade’s orders hold only “persuasive authority,” and not binding power, on Alabama judges.

“My guess is that is actually the way Roy Moore sincerely understands the federal-state relationship,” said Joseph Smith, a judicial politics expert at the University of Alabama. “He’s also an elected politician, and he knows who his constituency is.”

All theocratic bigots are they?

For many here, it is unsurprising that Chief Justice Moore emerged as a strident voice in a social debate after the dispute about the Ten Commandments display, known as “Roy’s Rock,” forced him from power.

“Unfortunately, sometimes it makes for very good politics here to be seen as opposing federal intervention, whether it’s from a court or a federal agency,” said David G. Kennedy, who represents two women involved in a case that prompted Judge Granade’s decision. “The situation here is that this is not federal intervention. It’s not federal intervention at all. What it is, is a federal court declaring what same-sex couples’ rights are under the federal Constitution.”

Federal constitution. Alabama is not part of that federation. It…it…it abstains.


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


Feb 9th, 2015 8:23 am | By

Milène Larsson interviews the Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Luz for VICE.

It’s tough going, but worth it; very worth it.

He’s annoyed at the New York Times for refusing to publish the Je suis Charlie cover.

The Charlie Hebdo survivors are uneasy about the whole “je suis Charlie” thing. They’re uneasy about being symbols because Charlie has always been about making fun of symbols.


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

A relatively sober voice of reason

Feb 8th, 2015 5:09 pm | By

BuzzFeed says Paul Elam and AVFM are the more respectable wing of the MRA movement. That seems surprising. Neither is all that respectable.

A Voice for Men is often portrayed in the media as a relatively sober voice of reason in the abrasive world of men’s rights. “If Men’s Rights Activism has a Gloria Steinem, it is Paul Elam,” Emmett Rensin wrote this week for Vox. “The website is one of the oldest and, if there is such a thing, most respected hubs for MRA activity. Elam and his staff do, at the very least, engage in genuine advocacy on behalf of men.” Rensin didn’t cite any examples of said advocacy. This is not surprising, given that the site’s advocacy efforts are difficult to discern.

On the other hand it does make him a lot of money. That’s respectable in itself, right?

What is clear is that Elam has amassed tens of thousands of followers — and lined his pockets with their donations to the for-profit AVFM, which are estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. (When asked how this money is spent, Elam told BuzzFeed News that A Voice for Men’s finances were “none of your fucking business.”)

Hundreds of thousands for raging at women. Enterprising.

But here’s the scoop part: he ditched his own children and didn’t pay child support.

Now, exclusive interviews with Elam’s ex-wives and daughter and newly uncovered court records shed light on a man who, they told BuzzFeed News, has depended on and emotionally abused the women in his own life.

For example, although Elam compares the family court system’s treatment of fathers to Jim Crow, he abandoned his biological children not once but twice. Although Elam saysthat “fathers are forced to pay child support like it was mafia protection money,” he accused his first wife of lying about being raped so he could relinquish his parental rights and avoid paying child support.

His ex-wife and his daughter said he has only been able to make A Voice for Men his full-time job because of the women who have supported him throughout his life.

Well but so…so then they’re castrating him! Yeah that’s it! It’s still all their fault. Like his mother, who tried to interfere with his god-given right to squirt liquid shit. When he was only 13 years old, a tiny helpless innocent little baby,

his mother tried to force him to take his diarrhea medicine.

Elam’s brothers held him down on the kitchen floor while his mother screamed and hit him with a wooden spoon until a concerned neighbor knocked on the door. “I felt like I was engaged in the battle of my life,” Elam said. “I was a rebel from that moment on … I’m still that 13-year-old kid on the floor that won’t take the medicine.”

A hero! A hero of the liquid shit movement! A rebel with a cause: never let them take your diarrhea away from you. He’s still 13 and he still has the diarrhea.

Then follows the squalid story of his young adulthood, when he drank and did drugs and expected his wife to support him and do all the domestic work. What a catch, eh? What an impressive human being. Then to get out of paying child support he said his kids weren’t his.

Susan received full custody of both children after their divorce in February 1981. Elam was granted visitation rights every other Sunday afternoon, but only if he wasn’t “under the influence of alcohol or drugs or in the company of people under the influence of alcohol or drugs.” He was also ordered to pay child support every month as well as some previously owed child support and a variety of other debts and court fines. But he didn’t. So Susan took him to court again. Finally, he wrote a petition to the court explaining that he didn’t believe he should be held in contempt of court or pay attorneys’ fees because he didn’t think Bonnie was his.

“Susan has a history of promiscuity which never, to my knowledge now, ceased during the three years that we were married,” Elam wrote in the petition. He said he would take a paternity test, but that he felt he had “paid enough for the unfaithfulness” of his ex-wife.

What a mensch.

Now, Elam often writes about false rape allegations. “Should I be called to sit on a jury for a rape trial, I vow publicly to vote not guilty, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that the charges are true,” he once explained in a blog post, due to how often he believes women lie about being assaulted.

Yet this guy is considered the respectable part of the MRA movement. This guy.

In 2011, after feminist writer Jessica Valenti’s personal information was added to Register Her and Elam went after her on his radio show (“We’re gonna be all over her like Ron Jeremy on a drug-addled bimbo,” he said, calling her a “chickenshit” and “scared little girl”), Valenti was so inundated with threats that she contacted the FBI and, she said, left her house until things died down.

Projects like these are why Elam and his website have become known less for political or policy advocacy than for his abrasive approach to debate. In one post, Elam wrote that “all the PC demands to get huffy and point out how nothing justifies or excuses rape won’t change the fact that there are a lot of women who get pummeled and pumped because they are stupid (and often arrogant) enough to walk [through] life with the equivalent of a I’M A STUPID, CONNIVING BITCH – PLEASE RAPE ME neon sign glowing above their empty little narcissistic heads.”

I wouldn’t call that an “abrasive approach to debate.” I wouldn’t call it any kind of approach to debate.

“The claim that Elam and his friends are merely trying to have a conversation about the rights of men in modern society is bogus. What it’s really about is the defamation of women as a group; that’s called misogyny,” said Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has described AVFM as part of a network of “misogynists” and “women haters.”

On the one hand you have your Frederick Douglass, your Diane Nash, your John Lewis, your Eugene Debs, your Margaret Sanger, your Bella Abzug – and on the other hand you have Paul Elam.

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

He’s a friend of Paul Elam’s, that’s who

Feb 8th, 2015 4:09 pm | By

Mother Jones sought answers to the burning questions who is Warren Farrell, and why? He’s a former feminist who became a mover and shaker of the men’s rights movement, which in a way is all you need to know. (Other sufficiencies of that type: people who are pillars of the white people’s rights movement, or the movement for straight liberation, or the union of rich people who own the means of production.)

For some, the “manosphere” offers a place to air real grievances about issues such as bias in family courts or sexual abuse suffered by men. But it also has spawned a network of activists and sites that take Farrell’s ideology in a disturbing direction. Men’s rights forums on sites like 4chan and Reddit are awash in misogyny and anti-feminist vitriol. Participants argue that false allegations of rape and domestic abuse are rampant, or that shelters for battered women are a financial scam. Others rail against women for being independent or sexually promiscuous.

So we now live in a world awash in frank unapologetic hatred of women.

These ideas have given rise to aggressive tactics and rhetoric. The National Coalition for Men—whose board of advisers includes Farrell—has fought to cut off state funding for domestic-violence programs if men aren’t included. A Voice for Men’s founder, Paul Elam, who is a friend and protégé of Farrell’s, has justified violence against women and written that some of them “walk through life with the equivalent of a I’M A STUPID, CONNIVING BITCH—PLEASE RAPE ME neon sign glowing above their empty little narcissistic heads.” Other activists have published names of women they consider enemies and have praised online stalkers, such as the “Gamergate” mobs who bombard feminist critics with rape and death threats.

And they make Warren Farrell look reasonable. They do him the favor of moving the Overton window so that it’s right in front of him.

Elam pairs his big-tent approach with brazen, in-your-face rhetoric. When video surfaced last September of NFL star Ray Rice punching out his fiancee in an Atlantic City elevator, Elam argued that Rice was justified because she had lunged at him (though he suggested Rice shouldn’t have hit her so hard). Elam has also dubbed October “Bash a Violent Bitch Month” and declared that men who are physically attacked by women should “beat the living shit out of them.”

“I don’t mean subdue them, or deliver an open-handed pop on the face to get them to settle down,” he wrote on his website. “I mean literally to grab them by the hair and smack their face against the wall till the smugness of beating on someone because you know they won’t fight back drains from their nose with a few million red corpuscles. And then make them clean up the mess.”

Elam says it was satire, and also that violent rhetoric is the only way to get anyone’s attention, and also that he wasn’t even in the building that day.

But such rhetoric could lead to violence, warns Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremist groups. “When you have a movement pumping out nasty propaganda, it invariably finds fertile ground in the mind of someone like Elliot Rodger or the man behind the 1989 Montreal massacre,” she says, referring to 25-year-old Marc Lépine, a misogynist who shot 14 women to death at a university.

Beirich cited a third example: mass murderer Anders Breivik, who carried out attacks on a government building and summer camp in Norway in 2011, killing 77 children and adults. Breivik wrote a manifesto that seized on men’s rights ideology—he declared that fathers had become “disposable,” that women use their “erotic capital” to “manipulate” men, and that the media turns men into a “touchy-feely subspecies who bows to the radical feminist agenda.” Men’s rights activist Peter Andrew Nolan, who runs a site called Crimes Against Fathers, praised Breivik, suggesting he was “a hero.”

Cue 40 thousand MRAs accusing Heidi Beirich of hate speech.

Following Elliot Rodger’s murder rampage last May, Farrell and the men’s rights movement drew attention like never before. There is no evidence that Rodger (or other killers) had any ties to Farrell, Elam, or men’s rights organizations. But commentators highlighted Rodger’s focus on the Pickup Artist sceneand his ideas about women and their sexual dominion over men. “They think like beasts,” he wrote.

Conservatives rushed in to defend the men’s movement: Helen Smith, who blogs for the website PJ Media, argued that “feminists and their supporters who block funding and education going to boys’ and men’s issues” may have been to blame for Rodger’s attack. After the protesters showed up at the Hilton DoubleTree in Detroit, Fox News suggested their goal was “muzzling” men. “Feminists are up in arms, calling a men’s conference a hate group even though it included all races and sexes,” said morning show host Steve Doocy, pointing to the diverse community Elam had built. “So who are the ones being intolerant?” An opinion piece on by Marc Randazza, a First Amendment lawyer who has spoken up for Rush Limbaugh, violent video games, and the pornography industry, suggested that A Voice for Men had endured protests and threats simply because it had the “audacity to question certain issues from a man’s perspective.”

Uh huh. That’s all Elliot Rodger and Anders Breivik did, too. Sure.

Missing from that coverage were the group’s fierce tactics, which have continued unabated. In October, with vicious misogyny raging online around the Gamergate controversy, feminist pop-culture critic Anita Sarkeesian canceled a talk at Utah State University after administrators received an email threatening “the deadliest school shooting in American history.” A Voice for Men responded with an essay asserting that the email’s author was in fact a feminist posing as a men’s rights activist, and insinuating that Sarkeesian stood to profit from the episode.

And we saw the reaction when the Harvard Humanists declared her Humanist of the Year. That award is being presented right now as I type, at a sold-out event that was moved to a larger venue because of the demand for tickets.


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

Sharia law, apostasy, and secularism

Feb 8th, 2015 12:58 pm | By

Chris Moos was at the Secular Conference in London yesterday, talking about gender segregation in UK universities.

He tweeted this photo – that’s Gita Sahgal, Chris, Maryam, and Magdulien Abaida.

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London Black Atheists tweeted this one

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I wish I could have been there.

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

You want cartoons? We got cartoons

Feb 8th, 2015 12:33 pm | By

Via Gnu Atheism

And more -

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

Being Charlie

Feb 8th, 2015 12:21 pm | By

Brilliant idea.

In a poignant and powerful response to the horrific attacks on their colleagues in Paris, the world’s top cartoonists have teamed up to produce I am Charlie, a book featuring the top Charlie Hebdo cartoons published around the globe.

All proceeds will go to The Committee to Protect Journalists, the worldwide organization devoted to promoting freedom of the press.

The book, features 86 Charlie Hebdo editorial cartoons created by artists in Europe, the Middle East, The Americas, Australia, and Asia.

Cartoonists represented include Osama and Emad Haljaj from Jordan, Pang Li from China, and Pulitzer prize winning cartoonist Steve Sack from the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

The book features an introduction from Daryl Cagle, cartoonist and founder of the leading editorial cartoon site The book is edited and published by Andrew Pillsbury, former head of business development at The New Yorker Magazine’s cartoon division.

Both the physical and electronic versions of the book will be released February 21, the six week anniversary of the attacks.  The ebook retails for $9.99, the physical book retails for $14.99.

Brill iant.


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

He’s a genius, she’s abrasive

Feb 8th, 2015 11:17 am | By

Don’t forget, girls and boys, we achieved gender equality in 1972, so ever since then feminism has been nothing but an extremist attempt to monopolize all the good things for women only.

But then how do you explain a discouraging pattern in how women and men are seen and evaluated?

Aviva Shen at Think Progress:

Students tend to think their male professors are “geniuses,” while their female professors are “bossy,” a new interactive chart reveals. Using data from, a popular forum for griping or raving about classes, Benjamin Schmidt, a Northeastern University professor, was able to clearly map out students’ biases.

The chart breaks down reviews to sort which words are affiliated with each gender and discipline. According to The Upshot, “Men are more likely to be described as a star, knowledgeable, awesome or the best professor. Women are more likely to be described as bossy, disorganized, helpful, annoying or as playing favorites. Nice or rude are also more often used to describe women than men.”

You know…that could be another reason all the putative Stars of the atheoskepto movement are men. It could be partly because men like Dawkins and Harris and Hitchens are seen as geniuses while a woman with the same qualities would be seen as a bossy pain in the ass. It’s not as if women aren’t aware of the general pattern, so it’s pretty likely that women try to adjust their presentation of self accordingly, and it’s also pretty likely that the resulting presentation of self isn’t the kind that makes you a star among atheoskeptics. It’s a double bind, in short. Women are under massive pressure not to come across as geniusbossy, and people who come across as Nicer don’t rise to the top in this particular niche.

Gendered language is one way those biases manifest themselves, and can do significant damage to women’s professional and personal lives. A recent analysis of performance reviews in the tech industry found that women were far more likely to receive criticism from their supervisors. The word “abrasive” was used many times to describe female employees, but never appeared in a review for any of the men.

“Abrasive” is also more likely to be used to describe a female professor on RateMyProfessor…

See? That which is considered “abrasive” and bad in a woman is considered merit in a man, so men get to use those qualities where they’re useful, and women either avoid them or are penalized for using them.

Discouraging, isn’t it.

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

Guest post on the replacement law and the current government

Feb 8th, 2015 10:45 am | By

Originally a comment by Jenora Feuer on Canada gets the right to die.

The government has to write a new law within a year or the law will be struck down.

Of course, that’s part of the problem right there. The same thing happened with some of the prostitution laws a year or so ago… the replacement law pushed through by the current government is pretty much as bad as the old law in all the ways that are important, and the general consensus of the legal community I’ve heard is that it will get knocked over the moment it gets to a Supreme Court challenge. The current group of legislators aren’t the sorts of people I would want trying to make law on an issue like this.

Of course, when the original marriage laws got struck down by the Supreme Court of Canada for being discriminatory, Paul Martin was smart in that he basically pre-ran the proposed new legislation past the Supreme Court first, then came back and put it in front of Parliament. That made it easier to convince some of the fence-sitters, who were more concerned about not having to go through this again than about the actual details of the law. Of course, that isn’t something you can do very often.

Personally, I think this is the sort of thing that is really best done by the legislators… I just don’t trust the current set of legislators. And this is all complicated by the fact that the health system is officially provincial jurisdiction, not federal, and there are limits to just how far the federal government is willing to push on that. (Which is also why, as has been noted before, Canada’s abortion access is such a shoddy patchwork in places.)

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

“Be careful with Muhammad”

Feb 8th, 2015 10:10 am | By

The Telegraph also reports on the Muslim Action Forum protest – calling it “huge” in the headline but saying it was about a thousand people in the first sentence. A thousand people is a huge protest? In London?

At least 1,000 Muslim protesters gathered outside the gates of Downing Street to protest against the depictions of the Prophet Mohammed in Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical magazine.

The protestors, many of whom were divided into groups of men and women, gathered just yards from the Cenotaph which remembers Britain’s war dead, and blocked half of Whitehall as they demonstated.

It comes weeks after two terrorists attacked the offices of Charlie Hebdo, the Paris-based satirical magazine which had published images of the Prophet Muhammad, killing 12 staff and wounding 11 others.

Three and a half weeks, to be exact. Three weeks after the genuinely huge protest against the murders and for free speech in Paris. Today’s protest is against Charlie Hebdo and for murder.

The meeting was organised by the Muslim Action Forum, which was handing out leaflets about the demonstration on Whitehall.

The leaflet said: “The recent re-publishing of the cartoons, caricatures and depictions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) by Charlie Hebdo magazine and other publishers is a stark reminder that freedom of speech if regularly utilised to insult personalities that others consider sacred.

Oops. Somebody should have proofread that leaflet. Final clause missing. Maybe it was too difficult to think of the right final clause? Let’s see…”a stark reminder that freedom of speech if regularly utilised to insult personalities that others consider sacred…should be punished with mass murder”? Tricky, isn’t it. No wonder it’s missing.

Such actions are deliberating insulting and provoking to Muslims worldwide as British citizens, we believe that these publications will continue to ‘sow the seeds of hatred’ and damage community relations.

Actually no. It’s the murders that do that, it’s protests like this one that do that.

Via Christopher Hope on Twitter

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The abuse factory. That’s why the Kouachi brothers murdered them, is it?

Christopher Hope again -

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“Be careful with Muhammad.” That’s a threat. That’s a valorization of murder and a threat. It’s fascist. Oswald Mosley is long dead but there are fascist demonstrations again in London.

The group also expressed “deep regret” at the Paris terror attacks, which included a massacre at Charlie Hebdo, saying they were a “violation of Islamic law”.

Shaykh Tauqir Ishaq, a senior spokesman for the Forum, said “Perpetual mistakes by extremists, either by cold-blooded killers or uncivilised expressionists, cannot be the way forward for a civilised society.

“The peace-loving majority of people must become vociferous in promoting global civility and responsible debate. At this time of heightened tension and emotion, it is crucial that both sides show restraint to prevent further incidents of this nature occurring.”

Shaykh Noor Siddiqi, another Forum representative, said “The actions of the UK media in not publishing the cartoons is highly appreciated by British Muslims and we hope that this kind of self-restraint and mutual respect will ultimately lead to a harmonious society.”

A harmonious society in which any kind of criticism of or resistance to the prophet of Islam has become impossible. Saudi Arabia, in short.

No thank you.

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

They denounce Charlie Hebdo and everyone connected

Feb 8th, 2015 9:49 am | By

The protest organized by the Muslim Action Forum took place, ITV reports.

Hundreds of Muslims have gathered in Whitehall as part of a demonstration against the recent publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in the French magazine Charlie Hebdo.

The protest was organised by the Muslim Action Forum. Participants said they were campaigning for global civility and wanted to encourage people to live together harmoniously.

Bullshit. That’s not what they’re campaigning for and it’s not what they want. They’re campaigning for everyone to shut up about the prophet and about Islam. They want to make Islam and everything to do with it a special fenced-off Protected Zone.

ITV quotes their ridiculous petition, which starts off with pleasant noises and ends with shut up shut up shut up.

  • I endorse emphatically the Declaration of Global Civility drafted by the campaigners of Global Civility
  • I call upon the British Parliament to table a debate in both Houses of Parliament to discuss the endorsement of the Declaration of Global Civility
  • I call upon all civilised people and institutions globally to disassociate themselves from any actions that are an affront to global civility
  • I denounce the actions of all those people who are connected with the production of the cartoons of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon Him, and believe that these actions are an affront to the norms of civilised society.

They’re denouncing everyone at Charlie Hebdo. That of course includes the editors and cartoonists and staffers murdered on January 7th.

There was also a small counter-demonstration, with people from the EDL and Britain First.


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

Children and Islamic State

Feb 7th, 2015 4:37 pm | By

The “militants” of Islamic State are covering themselves with glory as usual. The New York Times reports that among their current hobbies they like to bury children alive.

Islamic State militants are selling abducted Iraqi children at markets as sex slaves, and killing other youth, including by crucifixion or burying them alive, a United Nations watchdog said on Wednesday.

Iraqi boys aged under 18 are increasingly being used by the militant group as suicide bombers, bomb makers, informants or human shields to protect facilities against U.S.-led air strikes, the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child said.

In other words they’re being used as tools, machines, insensate objects. That’s what Allah wants, is it?

“We are really deeply concerned at torture and murder of those children, especially those belonging to minorities, but not only from minorities,” committee expert Renate Winter told a news briefing. “The scope of the problem is huge.”

Children from the Yazidi sect or Christian communities, but also Shi’ites and Sunnis, have been victims, she said.

“We have had reports of children, especially children who are mentally challenged, who have been used as suicide bombers, most probably without them even understanding,” Winter told Reuters.

Does God hate children? Does God hate children who are mentally challenged? Does God hate Yazidi and Christian and Shi’ite and Sunni children? Does God hate everyone except Islamic State “militants”?

According to a UN report,

ISIL has committed “systematic sexual violence”, including “the abduction and sexual enslavement of children”, it said.

“Children of minorities have been captured in many places… sold in the market place with tags, price tags on them, they have been sold as slaves,” Winter said, giving no details.

Apparently God  hates minorities.


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

Always look on the baby side of rape

Feb 7th, 2015 4:00 pm | By

A West Virginia Republican wants to make sure everyone is aware of the upside to rape. Yes, of course, it’s unpleasant and horrid, but on the other hand, you can get a child out of it. What a payoff! Imagine if you could get a child that easily any other way – say, by getting your teeth cleaned, or waiting for a bus for an extra long time on a cold day. But you can’t. With most unpleasant things you can’t get a child out of it at all. But with rape, you can! How cool is that?

West Virginia Del. Brian Kurcaba (R) made the comments — which were first reported by Charleston Gazette staffer David Gutman — during a public hearing on Thursday. A health committee in the legislature was debating a proposed 20-week abortion ban. Kurcaba was explaining why he opposed a Democratic-sponsored amendment to add an exception for rape victims.

“Obviously rape is awful,” Kurcaba said. “What is beautiful is the child that could come from this.”

So true. There you are, all depressed and angry and out of sorts, having been raped…and then hey golly what do you know it turns out you’re pregnant! From the rape!! Can you imagine the joy, the gratitude, the relief? The blissful anticipation? The eager imaginings? Your little baby, yours and the rapist’s. So so sweet.

This controversy recently played out on the national stage when the U.S. House of Representatives split over the rape exception included in their own version of a 20-week abortion ban.

Last month, the House hoped to approve a 20-week ban on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. That measure included a narrow exception for rape victims that required them to report their assault to the police, even though the majority of rapes are not officially reported.

Was it called the Nugent Exception?

Several female congresswomen raised concerns about the language of the rape provision, and House leaders ended up canceling the vote at the last minute. The thousands of abortion opponents who traveled to the nation’s capital for the annual March for Life — many of whom favor abortion restrictions without any type of rape exception — were upset about the retreat.

West Virginia lawmakers didn’t back down in the same way. On Thursday, the House Health Committee ended up approving the 20-week abortion ban and rejecting the amendment that would have added a rape exception.

West Virginia, home of surprise babies.

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

Kiddy porn

Feb 7th, 2015 12:27 pm | By

Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…what? Apparently this is from a kiddy bible.

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You’d think he was offering them cheeseburgers.

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

Nope nope nope

Feb 7th, 2015 12:02 pm | By

Priorities all wrong. Priorities fucked up. Priorities baaaaaaaad.

No. Don’t do that. Instead denounce the torture of Raif Badawi. Denounce the mass murders by Boko Haram. Denounce the massacre in Paris. Denounce the murders of many thousands of Muslims by Islamist fanatics. Denounce cruelty and torture and oppression everywhere. Denounce crimes against the living.

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

A flash mob for Raif

Feb 7th, 2015 11:50 am | By

In Berlin

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