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.

When the shoe pincheth

May 27th, 2015 8:53 am | By

The Vatican’s “secretary of state” is sad about the Irish vote.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin says the church needs to do a better job of forcing its warped and antiquated views on every human being.

“The Church must take account of this reality, but in the sense of reinforcing its commitment to evangelization,” he said.

“I think that you cannot just talk of a defeat for Christian principles, but of a defeat for humanity.

“The family remains at the centre and we have to do everything to defend it and promote it.”

Where to begin.

This “family” bullshit is very modern; the Catholic church has certainly not put “the family” at the center throughout its history; on the contrary. “It is better to marry than to burn” is not what you’d call a hearty endorsement of family life.

And then, if the family is so very central, why is the entirety of the core church hierarchy officially anti-family? Mandatory celibacy also is not a robust endorsement of family life.

And then, equal marriage promotes families and family life, it doesn’t dent or destroy them.

In Italy, the government of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is preparing to present legislation that would allow civil unions between gay couples.

The Irish referendum has also boosted calls in Germany, which allow same-sex civil unions, to go further and legalise same-sex marriage.

Pressure has started to grow in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), which opposes any change.

“One would think that what the Catholic Irish can do, we can do too,” CDU parliamentarian Jens Spahn told the German Die Welt newspaper.

Suck it up, Cardinal Parolin.

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

Guest post: The tribal apologetics

May 26th, 2015 5:24 pm | By

Guest post by Bruce Gorton.

There are relatively few things which anger me more than child abuse.

When I read about Josh Duggar’s abuse of his own sisters, my blood ran cold.

When I read Christians defending it, by saying he was “playing doctor” with his sisters, my blood ran colder.

When I read Christians commenting about how atheists are full of hate, and have nothing but spite for Christians in response to it, my blood stopped running.

It had turned to ice.

Let me be clear here, I am not disgusted because Josh Duggar is a Christian; I am disgusted because he molested his own sisters.

And fourteen is old enough to know better.

I am disgusted because of the tribal apologetics trying to defend his actions at the expense of his sisters.

And they are tribal apologetics, had Josh been named Mohammed there would be no such talk of playing “doctor.”

There is a deep double standard there, wherein it suddenly becomes something other than child abuse the second it becomes your tribe.

That is the thing I most despise about conservatives in general – the idea that the evils of others are harmless in ourselves.

That is why I cannot side with people who try to minimise sexual harassment within atheism, why I cannot side with the US on torture, why I could not side with Richard Dawkins’ statements on pedophilia, why I consider myself neither multi nor mono-cultural.

I am anti-culture, because I do not believe that tribal allegiance matters one whit, what matters is not my culture or even my ideas, but our humanity.

There are some things we should hate, and Christians who would sacrifice their own children to their cultural identity are squarely in that bracket.

And I do not say this because I am an atheist; I say this because I was abused by one of my siblings growing up.

It was not sexual abuse, it is true, it was a sustained campaign of violence and intimidation.

But it was abuse, and I will not excuse those who look the other way because they want to feel forgiving of the pains inflicted on others.

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

Sermons on the “spirit of bitterness” and how it can destroy a young woman

May 26th, 2015 5:01 pm | By

Samantha Field at Defeating the Dragons explains how Josh Duggar is getting away with it.

The biggest reason why Josh will get away with sexually assaulting five girls is purity culture. If you’re a regular reader that connection should be apparent right now, as I’ve frequently talked about how my belief in “purity”kept me from talking about my rape for years.

Everything about this situation was not just mishandled, it was covered up. On purpose. That makes any mandatory reporter that knew about this a criminal (at the minimum, the church leadership and the original police officer, who did not file a report), and it makes Jim Bob and Michelle, in the words of Jesus, hypocrites and vipers. White-washed tombs, full of dead men’s bones and rotting corpses.

However, Jim Bob and Michelle and the church leadership and the police were able to cover this up because of the culture his victims belong to. They have been taught since they extremely young that women are capable of tempting the most holy man to sin, that women can provoke men into raping them, that if something bad happened they must always look for their part in the blame.

They’re the perps, not Josh Duggar. Simply having a female body makes them perpetrators of sexual abuse. Slutty women destroy good Christian men by Tempting them (or in Duggarspeak by “defrauding” them). The only thing women are good for is spawning children.

That is the only framework that Josh’s victims had to process their assaults. Like me, they were forced by the only things they knew to evaluate how they could be responsible for what Josh did to them. It was their responsibility to repent of “immodesty” or any “sensuousness” they may have displayed, however innocently. Then, because they contributed to their own assault, they don’t have the ability to pursue justice. They were duty-bound to “forgive” their abuser because, after all, it was their fault, too.

If his victims were to come forward, to make police reports within the limited three-year window they had to get justice, they would have been dragged through a nightmare the likes of which we can’t even begin to imagine. It is extremely likely that every single last person they knew– their family, their church– would have turned their backs and rejected them. They would hear sermons preached about them about the “spirit of bitterness” and how it can destroy a young woman. They would have been sternly reminded that Christians handle problems among themselves and don’t involve the courts.

“Bitterness” – why is that such a popular insult for women? Atheists use it just as much as fanatical Christians – it’s a favorite trope that feminists are all “bitter” because they’re so ugly and witch-like. Do people have women confused with sugar? Do they think it’s our job to be constantly and permanently sweet?

Purity culture silences victims, Field concludes.

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

The news was out there

May 26th, 2015 4:38 pm | By

Vyckie does tv news to explain about the Duggars.


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

That the Duggars are liberal and worldly

May 26th, 2015 4:24 pm | By

And yet, there are people even more horrible than the Duggars – people who consider the Duggars “liberal.” Ahahahahahahaha I know, I know. Suzanne Calulu writes about some at Vyckie’s blog.

by Zsuzanna Anderson from her blog Are They All Yours? – My Thoughts on the Duggars

Editor’s note: Zsu’s solution? Kill all pedophiles. No therapy, no prison time, just execute them. What would Jesus say about that? Zsuzsanna’s husband is Pastor Steven L. Anderson, you know, that nice man that called for all homosexuals to be killed last year so that AIDS would be wiped out.

We have for years held and publicly stated that the Duggars are liberal and worldly, even as they are known for being “fundamentalists”. Maybe their beliefs are, but what they are publicly willing to take a stand for is weak and anemic. Example: Never answering whether or not they spank their children, which they obviously did, while telling the world over and over again about their positive approach of praising good behavior. Deceptive at best.

Oh those wicked liberals, pretending they don’t spank their children. Whereas I, wicked liberal that I am, think the problem is that the Duggars hide how awful they are – not that they hide how godly and righteous they are.

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

As if the light in the room was slowly being extinguished

May 26th, 2015 11:56 am | By

Teresa MacBain is finding the reporting on Josh Duggar harrowing; it resonates with her experience as a pastor.

I couldn’t shake the deep sorrow that I felt (and feel) for his victims, and the outrage at the way some Christians are ignoring the victims and excusing Duggar’s behavior. Five precious children fell victim to abuse, yet very few are speaking up for them. This is why I can’t remain silent.

It’s really quite astonishing how thoroughly the victims are being ignored and indeed negated by the Christian fans of the Duggars.

Teresa has one pastoral experience burned into her memory:

I received a call from an elderly parishioner one summer day many years ago. She asked me to come by for a visit, which happened often. I’d spent many hours at her home over the years and didn’t think anything of her invitation. .As I walked into her home, I could sense that something wasn’t quite right. Her usual cheerful, bright demeanor was replaced with deep sadness and grief. It felt as if the light in the room was slowly being extinguished. There, in her living room, she opened her mouth to speak, but tears began to stream down her face instead. Once she composed herself,  she told me about her recent discovery that her 6-year-old granddaughter had been sexually molested by her 13-year-old cousin. Pastors are taught to remaining calm and in control, but that ‘skill’ couldn’t keep me from weeping as I sat with this broken-hearted grandmother. I was horrified then and I’m horrified now.

Sorrow is the right response; sorrow for the people harmed; not sanctimonious joy at the redemption of the perpetrator.

This isn’t a lemons into lemonade situation.

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

Your neighbors who buy Pottery Barn furniture

May 26th, 2015 11:31 am | By

Katha Pollitt asks why reproductive rights are losing while gay rights are winning.

Indiana’s attempt to enshrine opposition to gay marriage under the guise of religious freedom provoked an immediate nationwide backlash. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has allowed religious employers to refuse insurance coverage for birth control—not abortion, birth control—to female employees; new laws are forcing abortion clinics to close; and absurd, even medically dangerous restrictions are heaping up in state after state. Except when the media highlight a particularly crazy claim by a Todd Akin or Richard Mourdock, where’s the national outrage?

You could ask the same question about Ireland (and some people did and do). The result of the referendum was amazing, but why are reproductive rights so far behind?

Marriage equality is about love, romance, commitment, settling down, starting a family. People love love! But marriage equality is also about tying love to family values, expanding a conservative institution that has already lost most of its coercive social power and become optional for millions. (Marriage equality thus follows Pollitt’s law: Outsiders get access when something becomes less valued, which is why women can be art historians and African-Americans win poetry prizes.) Far from posing a threat to marriage, as religious opponents claim, permitting gays to marry gives the institution a much-needed update, even as it presents LGBT people as no threat to the status quo: Instead of promiscuous child molesters and lonely gym teachers, gays and lesbians are your neighbors who buy Pottery Barn furniture and like to barbecue.

It’s true. Taslima and I had a little conversation about that on Twitter on Saturday. I think it’s complicated, and that same-sex marriage can undercut the patriarchal quality of marriage, but still…marriage itself isn’t a radical institution.

Reproductive rights, by contrast, is about sex—sexual freedom, the opposite of marriage—in all its messy, feckless glory. It replaces the image of women as chaste, self-sacrificing mothers dependent on men with that of women as independent, sexual, and maybe not so self-sacrificing. It doesn’t matter that contraception is indispensable to modern life, that abortion antedates the sexual revolution by thousands of years, that plenty of women who have abortions are married, or that most (60 percent) who have abortions are already mothers. Birth control and abortion allow women—and, to a lesser extent, men—to have sex without punishment, a.k.a. responsibility.

I think the real crux though is that marriage equality doesn’t conjure up an (imagined) personal victim. With marriage equality you get marriage; with abortion you get an imagined “pre-born child.” Katha puts it this way:

In marriage equality, there is no loser. But many, including some who call themselves pro-choice, feel that abortion creates a loser: the embryo or fetus. You have to value women a lot to side with the pregnant woman, with all her inevitable complexities and flaws, over the pure potentiality of the future baby.

Aaaaaaaaaaand…most people don’t.

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

Guest post: Everyone apparently thinks it’s cute and quaint and wholesome

May 26th, 2015 11:17 am | By

Originally a comment by Anna Y on The good Christian family aura.

That last quote is so mind-bogglingly blind I just can’t find the words…

Yes, Josh Duggar abused his sisters (and, according to other sources, also other girl(s) he wasn’t related to). This came to light just now and all of internet is in an uproar. The fact that the entire 19-and-counting show is basically a documentary about the non-stop, 24-7 abuse of every one of those 19 kids apparently doesn’t seem to penetrate anyone’s consciousness. No, I’m not implying that all 19 kids are/were being diddled — there are other kinds of abuse. Being stuck in a panopticon (as a bonus, this particular one is even televised) and raised to conform with a warped standard of Godliness(tm) that is completely unrelated (and mostly contrary) to what’s known about how a young individual of species Homo Sapiens grows and develops (both physically and mentally) is abuse.

I’m not going to pull a Dawkins and rank which abuse is worse here, but I’m willing to bet this kind is pretty horrific too. I guess some people are naturally creeped out by how chipper and perky the Duggar kids are, but apparently no one (or not enough people, not vocally enough) is asking what’s being done to them to make them act this way — after all, that’s not how normal kids normally act.

From infancy they are being put into a virtual pressure-cooker where they are “trained” not only to do as they are told but to do it with a smile and their compliance is evaluated through constant surveillance from both parents and siblings. This family’s response to any “sinful” thoughts and actions as well as a recipe for keeping those at bay is hard work and ignorance and prayer (and all manner of Christian ideological indoctrination that doesn’t quite fit under the label of prayer). It’s basically a police state in miniature.

If some scientists decided to take some babies and experiment on them to see if they could create a “successful” 1984 scenario, they would be branded as monsters. But when it’s parents who are birthing themselves some babies to turn into their idea of model Christians everyone apparently thinks it’s cute and quaint and wholesome and there’s even a TV show about it. Wow.

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

Whited sepulcher

May 26th, 2015 9:24 am | By

More stupid shit from someone whose thinking has been completely warped and emptied-out by years upon decades of Christian fanaticism. This someone is called Michael Brown (yes there’s an irony) and he shares his stupid shit with us via the Christian Post.

I have no desire to pile on with more comments about Josh Duggar, who appears to be a very serious and committed Christian who has made no excuses for the sins of his youth and who deeply desires to make a positive impact for the Lord in the years ahead. I simply want to share some redemptive thoughts, supplementing some of the excellent statements made by others, including former governor Mike Huckabee and Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore.

It’s not about “sins.” That’s warped. It warps the conversation and the thinking away from the harm done to human beings to focus instead on putative crimes against God. Notice that Brown doesn’t even mention harm done to human beings in that opening. He doesn’t get to it after that, either – he goes right on ignoring it to talk about other things: things that are less important or illusory or both. His thinking is warped and impoverished by his religious fanaticism. That’s one of the hallmarks of religious fanaticism: it focuses on completely irrelevant and imaginary issues at the expense of real issues that affect real humans.

1. Jesus really does change people. While critics of the Duggar family want to indict them (along with other, evangelical Christians, especially those with large families) for Josh’s actions, and while many seem ready to throw Josh under the bus, the fact is that while he did sin grievously, through repentance, faith and counseling, he became a new man. Jesus really does transform sinners.

That’s not the issue. That’s not the point. It’s not all about Josh; it’s not about Josh first and everyone else later, much less Josh first and everyone else never. It’s not a morality play about Josh’s redemption. That focus is all wrong.

2. There’s no excuse for sin, so own up to it. In today’s culture, almost no one is guilty of anything. It’s someone else’s fault, someone else’s responsibility, not our own. We’re all victims, and the reason we do bad things is because someone else wronged us. Isn’t that how we think today?

I’ve even heard athletes apologize for some really heinous actions by saying, “I’m not happy with the way things happened,” rather than saying, “What I did was wrong and I have no excuses. Please forgive me. I’m seeking to get to the root of my problems and address them.”

What a vast difference between the two attitudes.

As Proverbs states, “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

Wait a minute. Josh Duggar – and his parents – did conceal his “transgressions.” They did conceal them, and by concealing them, were enabled to be tv stars and make lots of money to buy long skirts for all those daughters, and to spread the gospel of fanatical Christian patriarchy.

Michael Brown should cut the bullshit. The Duggars didn’t “own up to” anything until the secret was revealed by others. They don’t get credit for that.

I agree with him about football players weasel-wording their statements about things like punching women in the head. I’ve written about that, in Free Inquiry as well as here. He’s right about that part. But he’s not right that the Duggars are doing anything very different – or even that he is. He’s well into his piece and has yet to mention the people Josh Duggar harmed.

According to the accounts we’ve all heard, Josh confessed his sin to his parents as well as to the proper authorities, and as a family, they worked through the issues. Now, half a lifetime later (he’s 27 and is married with four children), when confronted with a police report about his past, he did not minimize his sin nor did he excuse it. He also resigned from the fine Christian organization for whom he worked, not wanting to bring any negative attention to their work.

Holy crap – what happened to “thou shalt not bear false witness”? Josh did not confess his sins crimes to the proper authorities. Nobody confessed anything to the proper authorities until after the statute of limitations had safely expired.

And “working through the issues” is beside the point. Again – still no mention of the people he harmed. Not even a spelling out of what he actually did. Brown is being at least as evasive and dishonest as those bullshitting football players.

As for resigning from the “fine” homophobic Christian organization he worked for – he wasn’t so forthright and responsible and blame-shouldering that he decided not to work for them in the first place, was he. Consider me not impressed that he resigned when his secret was blown.

When I see someone respond like this, I am filled with hope. In fact, over the years, I’ve seen that people who committed uglier sins but took full responsibility and repented did far better than those who committed less serious sins and tried to sweep them under the rug.

Great. Have a party. Good that you’re happy. Meanwhile, the girls Josh Duggar sexually molested…oh well, who cares about them. They must be sluts.

4. Josh can be an ambassador on behalf of the abused, even helping the abusers as well. While it can feel like your life is over when your past, largely private sins become public (how many of us would like for that to happen?), the fact is that Josh’s future can be bright in the Lord.

He can be an ambassador on behalf of the abused? Wtf? How? Why? Using what diplomatic credentials?

Why the hell would anyone who has been sexually abused want Josh Duggar as an “ambassador”? He has yet to show the slightest awareness that sexual abuse is bad for the abused.

He can call on others who are sinning to come clean and get help, using his own example redemptively. And he can encourage those who have been abused to realize that they are not guilty and should not feel shame, also encouraging churches to embrace those who come for help rather than making them feel as if there is something wrong with them.

No he can’t. He and his family believe the abused are guilty, so no, he’s the last person who can do any of that.

There are eight more paragraphs after that, in which he still does not mention the people Josh Duggar sexually molested. He does not mention them once in the whole article.

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

“If abused was not at fault”

May 25th, 2015 3:48 pm | By

A year ago Recovering Grace took an extensive look at the kind of “teaching” the Duggar children had about sexual abuse of children within a family. It’s enough to make your hair stand on end so hard it dances. “There is no victim,” the title states dryly.

Today, Recovering Grace looks at past Advanced Training Institute (ATI) and Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP) materials that address the topics of sexual abuse, child molestation within a nuclear family, and domestic violence. This is not presented as an exhaustive survey, but is the full range of printed Institute material on these topics thatRecovering Grace is aware of and has in our current library. We desire to present an accurate representation of Institute materials on these topics, so please share with us any materials we may have missed.

This is a year ago, so it wasn’t about Josh Duggar in particular. I recommend reading and studying the whole thing; it’s horrific.


The husband in that scenario is doing his wife a favor by being hostile to her. The more horrible you are to people, the more of a favor you’re doing them.

The Our Most Important Messages booklet was written for Basic Seminar alumni, and takes us into the Institute’s teachings on authority structures and the “umbrella of authority,” topics on which many words have been spilled over the past fifty years. The former ATI students who have shared their stories with Recovering Grace after facing sexual harassment, abuse, or assault in a family or Institute setting, or at the hands of outside authority figures, have almost universally cited the role of the Institute’s authority teachings in initial personal confusion about the abusive experience, and in later attempts to deal with the experience’s aftermath. While we cannot do this topic justice in a short space, a chart in the Basic Seminar Followup Course booklet How To Get Under God’s Protection: The Principle of Authority illustrates the complex position of the hypothetical mother in the Q&A above. The generic chart does not address sexual abuse specifically, but is the foundation upon which the authority language of Our Most Important Messages is based. Should the hypothetical mother in Our Most Important Messages “flee if forced to do evil,” the evil in this case being the possible repeat of sexual abuse of her children? Should she separate from her husband despite possible financial hardships, and thus “suffer for refusing to do evil”? No, she is admonished to “appeal to the authorities,” and instructed how to work her way up through levels of authority, neither leaving with her children nor going first to law enforcement.

Then there’s the Umbrella of Protection.

If identifying the correct authority interaction scenario is challenging for adults, it is even murkier for sexually abused minors. The same HowTo Get Under God’s Protection booklet gives a succinct introduction to the “umbrella of protection,” arguably the Institute’s most widely disseminated and enduring meme. Central to the concept is the fact that under the umbrella, “nothing can happen to us that God did not design for his glory and our ultimate good,” while out from under the umbrella, “we expose ourselves to the realm and power of Satan’s control.”

    Basic Seminar Followup Course     How To Get Under God's Protection: The Principle of Authority, page 4

But what if “His” glory and my ultimate good are in conflict? I know, we’re supposed to think that’s impossible, but…I’m not convinced it is.

What about moral failures in a family? It turns out those are about little girls running around naked after their baths, and girl babies having their diapers changed. They’re all immodest little whores, is what they are.



That’s all clear enough, I think. This guy had to change his infant sisters’ diapers, so of course he ended up sexually abusing them. The harlots tempted him.

Here’s a sciencey part, that diagrams the parts of the person:


I get it. Body is least important, and hurting the unimportant body—>good things for The Spirit – so, again, the abuser is doing the abused a big favor. Thank you, abuser.

Why did God let it happen? Because she wore immodest dress, thus defrauding her abuser or abusers. It’s her fault. She ruined his life, or their lives. Women are baaaaaaaaaaaaad.

There’s a lot more.

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

Guest post: A cultural resonance that echoes across continents

May 25th, 2015 11:49 am | By

Originally a comment by mudpuddles on Stones.

Sites and symbols of heritage and history are vitally important to the sense of place and identity of any given population. Apart from the aesthetic and visually symbolic totems of “I am in X place right now”, these ruins represent a common heritage and a history – of growth, of community, of development, of art, of learning, of spirituality, of trade and internationalism, of war and struggle, and of peace and prosperity – which people of many nationalities, religions and ethnicities can claim ownership of. These sites represent elements of a shared identity, and have a cultural resonance and relevance that echoes across continents. These psychological and cultural connections between people and place are absolutely fundamental to how people view their place in the world, and how they define themselves. They say “This is where I am from. Not just this place, but this history, this culture, this dimension of humanity.” That is why IS wants to wipe these sites out.

They want to erase any vestige of a prior identity for the places and populations they want to conquer. They want to make it impossible for people who flee the IS advance to return to a psychological and cultural space they knew as home. IS has no true history, no heritage, no learning, no community, no art, no true culture to offer, and that’s how it wants the rest of the world to be. Wiping out someone’s heritage is a key part of robbing them of their identity. It makes people easier to demoralise, alienate and assimilate. It also removes symbols of shared heritage that might serve to bind communities together in resistance. We have already heard tales of some people deciding to join IS because after they lost their homes and neighbours and businesses and felt trapped…. “there is nothing left for me, so I decided why not join IS now, there is nothing else.” Removing potent symbols of sense of place and belonging helps them intensify that impact.

The concern is not simply about stones in a desert. Its about a direct and twisted assault on the psyche of civilians that will have an irreversible and damaging impact, and that will make fundamentalism easier to embed.

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

To watch an old Disney movie

May 25th, 2015 11:36 am | By

How not to run a school event:

One hundred public school students were left upset and crying during school hours as they were ushered into a dark auditorium to watch an old Disney movie as 900 classmates enjoyed popcorn, ice cream, and bouncy castles at a Carnival outside. New York Public School 120 in Queens held their annual Carnival on Friday. However, instead of all of the pre-k through fifth grade students enjoying the fun-filled day, 100 children were left crying in an auditorium after their families were unable to pay for the $10 ticket to the affair.

An auditorium? How luxurious. Couldn’t the school have found a smelly locker-room to put them in?

The New York Post reports that almost all of the 100 children excluded from the event were [children of] Chinese immigrants who are simply struggling to “keep their heads above water.” Teachers charged with monitoring the unfortunate children stuck in the dark auditorium say that some of the children were crying hysterically as they could hear the laughter from the children outside. Some students asked, “are we being punished,” not understanding why the other children were eating candy and enjoying the inflatables while they were stuck inside.

So this is an elementary school run by people who have no idea what children are like and how they feel? People who were placed in medical comas for the duration of their own childhoods?

At least one teacher says she doesn’t feel it was appropriate to have a Carnival on school grounds during school hours if all students were not able to attend. The teacher says that to add insult to injury for the small children unable to pay the $10 fee, the school Principal, Joan Monroe, sent a bag of little stuffed animals to the classroom to pass out to all the students who paid.

Uh oh. I hope Joan Monroe doesn’t have a Twitter account, because if she does, I predict bad things.

Teachers say they were given lists of the students who had paid and who had not, reminding them to take the unpaid students to the auditorium instead of the Carnival. To ensure the rules were followed, Monroe announced that students without a ticket would report to the auditorium over the loudspeakers in the school the morning of the event.

Just not the way to do it. Mean. Don’t be mean to elementary school children.

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

The good Christian family aura

May 25th, 2015 11:15 am | By

From Libby Anne’s first post on the Duggar mess: some important points.

8. The good Christian family aura can hide underlying problems. If I had a dollar for every time someone has praised the Duggars for being a perfect example of a good Christian family, I’d be rich. Sweet smiles and matching clothes can cover up a lot and make people assume that things are more perfect than they are. I know what it’s like to force a smile for family pictures people later ooo and ahh over, even as I’m crying inside. We need to remember that.

I’ve experienced that deception the few times I’ve taken a brief look at that show. On the one hand they make my flesh crawl, but on the other hand I keep thinking: “They do look very cheerful and happy and perky.” The sweet smiles are annoyingly effective.

9. Sheltering children from the world doesn’t work. For years now, I have seen commenters across the internet praise the Duggars for raising godly children away from the materialism and sexualization of the modern world. Sorry guys, it doesn’t work like that. Please stop promoting the Duggars’ lifestyle by claiming that it has protected these children from the evils of the world! It hasn’t.

Mind you, if you define secular education as an evil, it has protected them from that…

10. Homeschooling can limit children’s ability to report abuse. Children who attend school have contact with teachers, counselors, and other adults they can go to for help, or for advice about problems in their home situations. Both Josh and his victims were homeschooled, which almost certainly limited the number of trusted adults they could go to for help, especially given that their social activities appear to have revolved around their church and other likeminded families who probably also believed in dealing with such problems in-house. According to the police report, some of the victims did try to get help. It’s just that their avenues for obtaining said help were sadly limited.

And their welfare wasn’t a high priority.

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

They cannot teach men

May 25th, 2015 10:38 am | By

Let’s not forget the Jehovah’s Witnesses. They suck too.

A schoolgirl who left the Jehovah’s Witnesses after learning of its alleged failure to protect vulnerable women has blasted the organisation in a powerful speech to her classmates.

Holding back tears, she recalled her personal experiences as a member of the church and how she was taught everyone outside the religion, including her father, would be sent to Armageddon.

Which is false, and a cruel thing to tell anyone, but especially children, since they tend to believe what adults tell them.

She also highlighted women’s lowly position in the hierarchy of the organisation and how they are viewed as inferior to men.

“They cannot teach men. They cannot even speak at a podium in front of men as I am doing now,” she said. “They are not to question any decision made by a men. That is slander.”

Most religions are like that, especially most monotheistic religions. If you’re going to have just one god, you’re not going to waste it on a gurrrul, are you.

The most shocking allegations relate to women the girl spoke to, who were members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and wished to remain anonymous.

One, she called Jane, was allegedly interrogated by the church elders after she was raped, while at work as insurance salesperson.

The elders apparently said she tempted men by the way she dressed and that men were “only human”.

In order to be forgiven and not be excommunicated, or “disfellowshipped,” Jane was forced to dress more conservatively, quit her job and worst of all drop the charges against her attacker.

That’s interesting. A man who rapes a woman is only human, but a woman who is raped is punished for being raped. Heads they win, tails you lose.

The church has battled with previous allegations of silencing victims of sexual abuse, to avoid embarrassing the church, but have always vigorously denied any wrongdoing.

In 2015 a Californian court ordered the Watch Tower Society, the company which runs the Jehovah’s Witnesses, to pay $2.8m in damages after failing to disclosure the past abuse of a congregation member, which led to the sexual abuse of a nine-year-old girl.

Some witnesses.

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

All around us

May 25th, 2015 10:15 am | By


Scientific American:

The kinds of bacteria that can cause food poisoning lurk all around us. These germs can be especially easy to pick up when traveling internationally as well as in places, such as children’s day cares, which are hard to keep clean. The infections usually clear up on their own but sometimes require hospitalizations and hefty doses of antibiotics to expunge. Unfortunately, the bacteria are becoming increasingly resistant to treatment.

Oh great: antibiotic-resistant food-poisoning. That’s a joyous prospect.

The latest bad news came in April when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported an outbreak of Shigella sonnei that has become resistant to ciprofloxacin—one of the last remaining medications in pill form that can kill the germ. Since then a Scientific American investigation shows the worrisome strain is still circulating in the U.S. a year after it first emerged.

Shigella bacteria typically cause about 500,000 diarrheal illnesses and 40 deaths in the U.S. every year. Children who are malnourished and people with compromised immune systems are particularly at risk of developing severe cases.

The CDC has confirmed 275 cases of ciprofloxacin-resistant shigella across the country from May 2014 to May 2015, according to data obtained exclusively by Scientific American (see chart below). Although these figures appear small, they almost certainly represent but a tiny fraction of the true number of ciprofloxacin-resistant cases. Shigella infections are supposed to be reported to the CDC but a lot of people who get sick do not go to the doctor. And those who do are sometimes not tested for the presence of shigella, let alone drug resistance.

Oh well. We still have HD tv.

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

Why are there little girls rather than nothing?

May 25th, 2015 9:11 am | By

Raw Story reported on May 22:

Four homeschooled brothers pleaded guilty Thursday to molesting their younger sister from the time she was 4 years old until she was almost 15 – and their parents and two other brothers still face charges related to the case.

Eric Jackson, then 25, told authorities that he and all five of his brothers had sexually abused their younger sister for a decade, and authorities say their parents knew but did nothing to stop the abuse.

An elder at Hope Baptist Church, which Jackson and another brother attended, compared the pattern of abuse to other “horrible” sins such as adultery and homosexuality.

No; dead wrong. “Homosexuality” is neither a “sin” nor a crime nor bad. Adultery may or may not be a wrong done to a spouse; it’s not categorically wrong no matter what the circumstances, which child-molestation is.

The victim in the Jackson case told investigators that she believed she would go to hell if she told anyone about the assaults, which she said took place at least twice a week.

She must have believed that because someone told her that.

The parents, John and Nita Jackson, were charged with child neglect, child abuse, and accessory to sexual abuse and will remain jailed until their next court hearing in August.

The girl told authorities her mother had witnessed at least one assault and walked away.

Tilley, the sheriff, said the family was “bizarre” and the father held “anti-government” and “anti-school” beliefs.

The eldest brother had difficulty writing his own name when he met with investigators.

“The children were home schooled with very limited education,” Tilley said. “They were very private and the whole yard has a fence around it — like a little compound. They’re very different.”

Lots of brotherly love though.

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

The woman was waiting at a bus stop

May 25th, 2015 8:28 am | By

Via Taslima – a horrific gang-rape in a bus in Dhaka.

Police say the woman was waiting at a bus stop for a ride home after work on Thursday night when a minibus stopped in front of her and two men forced her aboard. They and three other men inside the bus took turns raping her for an hour and a half while the bus slowly drove around the Jamuna Future Park area in northeast Dhaka.

Inspired by the Delhi gang rape in 2012, no doubt, the one in which the rapists pulled the victim’s intestines out before they threw her and the guy who was with her off the bus.

The woman’s sister told reporters that the family had to visit three police stations before one agreed to take a report.

They went to the station closest to their home in the Uttara area around 4 a.m. Friday but were told by police that they did not have jurisdiction because the incident took place outside the area. They visited another police station an hour later and got the same reply, she said.

They reached Bhatara Police Station around 6 a.m. but had to wait three hours for a senior officer to arrive and register the case.

Note that this isn’t in a remote village but in Dhaka, the capital and the tenth largest city in the world, with a population of 18 million.

Women’s rights activists say indifference by authorities and a culture of impunity are encouraging such crimes.

Apparently. If rapes can’t even be reported until business hours the next day, that’s indifference by authorities and a culture of impunity.

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

Which god is why there is something rather than nothing?

May 24th, 2015 5:51 pm | By

I saw most of this the other day: Star Talk hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, talking to a Jesuit priest and playing sections from a taped interview he did with Richard Dawkins. (There was also a comedian but he didn’t get to contribute much.) It was pretty entertaining.

One bit was very funny, when Dawkins was explaining something about why he challenges religion or some such thing, and he said he “good-naturedly ridicules” people’s odd beliefs. I burst out laughing at that, and laughed some more when Tyson gently said the people might disagree about the “good-natured” part. Dawkins chuckled amiably, but…you could see that no dent had been made.

So I guess that really is how he sees himself? As good-naturedly ridiculing people’s beliefs, as opposed to waspishly or sharply or harshly or brutally?

The Jesuit priest was predictably frustrating. He pretended to be perfectly reasonable and like a scientist and trying to figure things out just like Tyson and yadda yadda. He said he likes to ask people why there’s something rather than nothing, and Tyson said he answers he doesn’t know, and he’s happy with that – later amended to not happy in the sense of not wanting to try to find out, but in the sense of not letting it force him to answer “god.”

I liked that, but I also wished he had pressed the Jesuit – James Martin, his name is – on why “god” is any kind of answer to that question anyway. I also wished he had pressed him to say exactly what he meant by god, especially when he (Mr Jesuit) kept offering different versions of god, all of them much nicer than the fascist daddy-figure. I wished he had asked how any of that makes sense together.

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

Playing doctor

May 24th, 2015 5:17 pm | By

I heard about this on Facebook this morning via Vyckie; now RawStory is reporting on it.

Responding to criticism of the Christian “Quiverfull” movement, the wife of a Texas pastor who promotes the “be fruitful, and multiply” philosophy, took to Facebook to explain that admitted child-molester Josh Duggar was “playing doctor” as a teen and should be “left alone to live a good life.”

The conservative fundamentalist Quiverfull movement sees children as a blessing from God and promotes constant procreation, eschewing all forms of birth control.

In her rant on Facebook, Carrie Hurd, wife of Heritage Covenant Church Pastor Patrick Hurd, blasted Quiverfull critic Vyckie Garrison for being critical of Duggar, and Christians in general.

She defends Josh Duggar and blasts Vyckie Garrison. Strange priorities.

Despite having her own Facebook account, Hurd used her husband’s account to address Garrison and defend Duggar who stepped down from his position with the Family Research Council after it was revealed that he molested five young girls — including his sisters — when he was in his teens.

“Vyckie, this is actually Pat’s wife, Carrie. You women want parity in the board room and you want equal wages all the way up the ladder, but when it comes to taking responsibility and being equal in other areas, it is always the man’s fault or responsibility. How many women bait, hit first, but are seldom arrested for abuse………….?” she wrote.

Say what? A woman should be taking responsibility for Josh Duggar’s having groped his younger sisters?

Michelle Duggar certainly bears some of the responsibility, but given the patriarchal rules she promotes and follows, she doesn’t bear as much as The Man of the family, Jimbob.

Hurd then criticized Garrison for “trolling” the news for stories critical of Christianity, and suggested she go to Iraq to “fight ISIS.”

“You troll the news for any little Christian misbehavior. Get a life! Go to Iraq and fight ISIS if you are seriously worried about women being treated well by men and society.”

Additional information on the Quiverfull movement can be found at No Longer Quivering, written by former member Garrison who was recently named “Atheist of the Year” by the American Atheist Association.

Yes she was, so ha, Carrie Hurd.

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

Why anyone should care

May 24th, 2015 12:02 pm | By

I’m seeing people asking a lot of very strange questions about why anyone should care that Josh Duggar groped his younger sisters and his family covered it up and did nothing about it.

Are they serious? We should care because the Duggars think and say they are better than everyone who doesn’t think like them, and they have a very large public megaphone – and may still have it if TLC’s cancellation of their show turns out to be temporary. We should care because Josh Duggar was a higher-up in the reactionary homophobic Family Research Council until he resigned two days ago because the truth about his past came to light.

We should care because the Duggars are reactionary theocratic homophobic antifeminist Christian activists who pose as Nice and Smiley and Good. They do harm, so of course we should care that they covered up a crime against their own god damn daughters.

Libby Anne of course has a lot to say on this, and we should all be camping out on her blog for the foreseeable future. Yesterday she and a guest poster talked about the silencing power of forgiveness.

I’ve seen defenders argue that we shouldn’t be airing the family’s private affairs publicly, and that this is over and done with and water under the bridge, and so forth. The problem with these statements is that they ignore the role specific beliefs and doctrines played in the mishandling of Josh Duggar’s abuse. As I pointed out yesterday in my blog post exploring the sort of counseling Josh and his victims likely received, the story here is about problems with the Duggar’s worldview and subculture—a worldview and subculture many Duggar fans have praised as wholesome or quaint for years now, without understanding the deep underlying problems inherent to it (problems I have addressed previously here and here).

And now, without further ado, I give you the following excellent commentary by my friend Carmen Green, who like me, like Samantha, and like Kathryn Elizabeth, grew up in a Christian homeschool family and has personal experience with the Duggar’s worldview and subculture. (I even have mutual friends with the Duggars—the Christian homeschool world can be very small indeed.)

Now, Carmen on Anna Duggar, wife of Josh – homeschooled, married young and inexperienced, raised on “Biblical” ideas about sex, women, marriage…

They can’t use birth control (because sinful) so they start having children right away.

Anna now has three, with a fourth on the way. She is 26 years old. She was homeschooled her whole life and never went to college. She now claims that she knew when the courtship began that Josh was a child molester. But I very much doubt that Josh used those words — it is far more likely that he said he had “temptations” to which he “succumbed” but “God is good” and he has “asked for forgiveness.” And, in that culture, she would have had no choice but to accept that for face value, because to do otherwise would be to call Josh a liar and to doubt God’s ability to save. Now she’s found out the truth, she has a few more years of experience, and she’s more trapped than she’s ever been.

“Temptations” ffs – that could be anything – it could be masturbation, it could be wet dreams, it could just be erections. It could be, in short, victimless and harmless. It seems to be one of the worst blind spots (to put it no more harshly) of reactionary theocrats that they don’t even notice the difference actual harm done to actual people makes. Not surprising, I guess, when they think the 10 commandments=the summit of morality.

And then she gets to the forgiveness thing, which never fails to turn my stomach.

Forgiveness is a warped topic in fundamentalist Christian circles where abuse is concerned. Jim Bob, Michelle, and Josh are using that language purposefully. They are tapping into the belief that no sin is too terrible for God to forgive and the mandate that we must forgive our trespassers as God has forgiven us. Together, these beliefs force victims in this subculture to shut up, sit down, and “make peace” with the people who have wronged them.

This results in victims having to act as if nothing ever happened. They still have to live with the perpetrator. They still have to speak to the perpetrator and show affection to them. They have to smile and pretend for years and years. No one gets real counseling. And the perpetrator is never punished.

My friend, Kathryn, wrote an excellent piece on why we shouldn’t let Jim Bob, Michelle, and Josh dictate the tone of the discussion. I don’t care if Josh thinks the victims forgave him (what choice did they have?). I don’t care if Josh says he’s sorry. He’s a child molester who escaped punishment because mommy and daddy covered for him. Children in two different families (that we know of) were victimized. No other families were ever told about Josh’s behavior so that they could take protective measures for their own children.

This story is NOT about the power of forgiveness. It’s about a cover-up, a blatant disregard for children’s safety, and the appalling selfishness of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar.

Who are, don’t forget, held up to us as model humans via a popular tv show.

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