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.


Oct 12th, 2014 4:01 pm | By

The alleged sexual assaults in the Sayreville case are worse than I’d imagined.

Graphic details of what allegedly happened inside the locker room at the school were also revealed in a report Wednesday on

The report stated that “a freshman football player would be pinned to the locker-room floor, his arms and feet held down by multiple upperclassmen. Then, the victim would be lifted to his feet while a finger was forced into his rectum. Sometimes, the same finger was then shoved into the freshman player’s mouth.”

What is wrong with people.

Six of them were arrested on Friday evening and a seventh was being sought.

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

Yes secularism can

Oct 12th, 2014 2:53 pm | By

Tehmina Kazi talks about secularism and Islam, and how the former is good for the latter. She argues that secularism actually adds to the Islamic discourse, because there’s a long tradition of critical thought in Islam.

It makes sense you know. If all religions and none are treated equally, then people are more likely to feel safe discussing and exploring.

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

Yes, it is

Oct 12th, 2014 12:20 pm | By

A Fox News station in Arkansas asks a question on its Facebook page. It asks: Is this method of restraining juveniles torture?

The Yell County Juvenile Detention Center uses this restraint mechanism called the “wrap system”. Some juvenile detainees call it “torture”. Now, the Arkansas Department of Human Services has sent a cease and desist letter to Yell County officials asking them to stop using the device. What do you think about the wrap system?

It supplies a photo of the “restraint mechanism”:

Yes, that’s torture. Thank you for asking.

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

The idea that the Quran is God’s literal and most perfect word

Oct 12th, 2014 11:54 am | By

Fathima Imra Nazeer makes the point that I keep making: holy books say what they say, and there’s no magic that renders what they say universally harmless.

Well-meaning Muslims claim that these Islamists have simply ‘misinterpreted’ the Quran. But have they?

As I wrote in a previous post, ISIS’s interpretation of the Quran is a very plausible one and this explains why ISIS has no trouble using the Quran as a recruiting tool.

Even according to Yusuf Ali, the very much mainstream and respected interpreter of the Quran, fighting for the cause of ‘truth’ is a duty for Muslims under a ‘rightly guided Imam.’ The definition of ‘truth’ and ‘rightly guided Imam,’ unfortunately, is not that clear cut.

For those of us who have been indoctrinated with the idea that the Quran is God’s literal and most perfect word to man, the Quranic commands for true believers to wage war against ‘oppressors’ and ‘hypocrites’ can cause a tugging at the heartstrings.

And that’s not surprising given the indoctrination. That’s why the idea that any book or other piece of writing or “revelation” or reported command is God’s literal and most perfect word to human beings has to be done away with.

We can continue to be in denial and claim that ISIS’s ideology has nothing to do with Islam, hoping to dissuade the jihadis and silence the anti-Muslim bigots. Thing is, with the Quran at so many people’s fingertips these days, neither the jihadis nor the anti-Muslim bigots are believing this anymore and we are simply hurting our own credibility.

If we want to really solve the problem and maybe even regain some credibility, we need leaders who are willing to put forth the idea that we have to change the way we regard the Quran. Treating the Quran as God’s perfect and literal word to man is creating too much havoc.

Only when the notions of Quranic infallibility and inerrancy are challenged, will it be possible for believing Muslims to openly admit that according to literalist interpretations at least, violent and hateful passages exist in the Quran: passages that call for fighting those who don’t believe in Allah, that support ISIS’s ideology and help them recruit young Muslims like Aqsa Mahmood.

Exactly. That’s why holy books are dangerous. That’s why the idea that there is such a thing as a holy book or instruction is so dangerous.

After all, only when a critical mass of Muslims propagate the idea that the Quran may not be God’s literal and perfect word to man and denounce the violent and hateful verses in the Quran that support ISIS’s ideology, will we successfully counter ISIS’s propaganda and stop the flow of wannabe jihadis crossing that Turkish border.

I would love to see that happen.


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

Seven villagers were burned alive

Oct 12th, 2014 11:27 am | By

Meanwhile, in Tanzania, they’ve been killing “witches.”

Tanzanian police have charged 23 people with murder after seven villagers were burned alive on suspicion of witchcraft.

Though the attacks in Murufiti, a village in the western Kigoma region, happened on Monday, reports only surfaced with the arrests.

Five of those killed were aged over 60, the other two were over 40.

A Tanzanian human rights group estimates that 500 suspected witches are killed in Tanzania annually.

Five hundred. In just one country.

Witnesses say some of the victims were attacked with machetes and their homes burned.

The son of one of the victims, Josephat John, told Tanzania’s Mwananchi newspaper: “When I returned home in the evening, I found the body of my mother lying 10 metres away from our house, while the body of my father was burnt inside the house.”

Murdered because of a delusion.

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

About 100 years out of date

Oct 12th, 2014 11:04 am | By

A British man spent 20 days in jail in Morocco for “homosexual acts.” He’s now been released and has returned to the UK and he reports that the experience was…a nightmare.

He said prison conditions were “horrendous”, with inmates as young as 10 and as old as 90 being held “for nothing”.

“I can hardly move my arm now, from 20 nights sleeping on the floor – I just want to go home and sleep in a soft bed,” he said.

He had no idea about the campaigning for his release carried out by his family, who said they were “ecstatic” about his return.

“I’m so proud of them – I couldn’t have a better family,” Mr Cole added.

He said the attitudes to homosexuality in Morocco “are about 100 years out of date”.

Another man, Jamal Jam Wald Nass, who was with Cole was also jailed, and Cole doesn’t know what happened to him. He and his family plan to consult their legal team to find out how they can help him.

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

Into tiny little shreds

Oct 12th, 2014 10:51 am | By

The great Khuldune Shahid has a satirical piece on Why He Hates Malala Yousafzai.

How much a Pakistani hates someone depends on how easy it is to hate them. And few individuals are easier to hate than Malala Yousafzai.

Here’s a girl, not old enough to have an ID card, taking on Pakistan’s biggest enemy without an iota of fear.

She takes a bullet to her head not fighting for a jingoistic agenda, but for something as universally celebrated as education. For her commendable bravery she gets global acclaim, speaks in front of a global audience at the UN, meets the American president and is pretty much the only positive coming out of this country in recent times.

So what’s not to hate, right? Right??

Do you honestly believe that it’s easy for me to accept that a young girl from our neck of the woods, with all the societal handicaps that one can think of, can singlehandedly orchestrate a global rude awakening? The thought rips the bigoted, discriminatory and misogynistic ideals that I’ve grown up with, into tiny little shreds.

How can I accept Malala to be a hero, when her speeches do not have any Islamic or nationalistic agenda? How can I consider her to be my future leader when nothing she says or does imbues a false sense of superiority in me as a Muslim or a Pakistani? How can I accept that a young girl was able to highlight who our actual enemies are, when grown up men in our parliaments are still hell bent on befriending them?

How can I rejoice at Malala’s global achievement when I’ve been taught all my life that a girl’s place is in the kitchen? I just can’t.

But maybe some day…

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

She is a normal, useless type of a girl

Oct 12th, 2014 9:37 am | By

M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad reports on the hatred of Malala in Pakistan.

It wasn’t even reported as breaking news on Pakistani tv, Khan says.

Many Pakistanis would not even have known she was up for the award.

Indeed, Tariq Khattack, editor of the Pakistan Observer newspaper, actually condemned it, telling the BBC: “It’s a political decision and a conspiracy.”

“She is a normal, useless type of a girl.

Nothing in her is special at all. She’s selling what the West will buy.”

Wo, that’s revealing – normal girls are useless; it’s normal for girls to be useless. Girls are useless. Wham, that’s half of humanity dismissed. That’s why Malalas are needed.

While many in Pakistan have praised her for her desire for education and her courage to make a stand for it, many others view her as a stooge of the west, as someone the Americans have set up to become a role model and misguide Pakistani Muslims.

“The Americans and Malala’s father conspired to get her shot so she can become a hero,” was the somewhat surprising conclusion of one editor of a Mingora-based newspaper some months ago.

One Islamabad housewife said: “What has she done to deserve [the Nobel prize]? She may be brave, but she’s only a child. They should have waited 10 years and let her make a mark among the deprived sections of the society.”

It is a view that has infuriated many more liberal Pakistanis who made their anger known on Twitter, excoriating those who tried to belittle this win.

It’s a longstanding divide, and one that is sadly recognizable.

This division in views on Malala is for the most part symptomatic of a division that dates from the partition of India and the creation of Pakistan.

Malala’s father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, who has been her guide and mentor, is associated with ANP, a political party that links up with the Red Shirt movement. This is a secular force of Pashtun nationalists that was allied to Mahatma Gandhi’s All India Congress and opposed the Indian partition.

After independence, the Red Shirts were dubbed as traitors and Indian agents, and often persecuted by successive military regimes that used religion and religious groups to garner support and legitimacy.

And thus created the hellhole that is Pakistan today.


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

60 million Indian children

Oct 11th, 2014 6:06 pm | By

Dilip D’Souza at the Daily Beast tells us about Kailash Satyarthi and what he does and why it needs doing.

India is feeling good today: the Nobel Prize for Peace has gone to our own Kailash Satyarthi, jointly with Pakistan’s Malala Yousufzai. Certainly something to make us proud. Yet the irony is that Satyarthi won it for his efforts, with his Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA, Save Childhood Coalition), to end the exploitation of children in India.

Not something to celebrate, that exploitation. If we pretend it’s happening in some far-off twilight zone where kids are oppressed and neglected, the reality is as in-your-face as the drenched kid who presses her face to a car window, her teeth chattering as she urges more fortunate Indians to buy their personal slice of patriotism.

Since 1980, the BBA has rescued about 80,000 Indian children from construction sites, homes, restaurants and factories of all kinds where they are, simply, cheap labour. That number is about the population of small towns like Phuket in Thailand or Danbury in Connecticut: no small achievement, that.

Yet Satyarthi himself has showed that that number, and all the BBA’s work, really amounts to blowing valiantly into a pretty fierce wind. For it’s generally estimated that about 60 million Indian children are in the labor force doing all kinds of jobs. If 80,000 is the population of Danbury, 60 million is the population of California and Texas combined: no small specter, that.

60 million is almost the population of Italy. It’s more than the population of all but 23 countries in the world – it’s more than Burma, Spain, Kenya, Argentina, Poland, Canada, Peru…It’s a massive number of children.

Satyarthi explains that these 60 million kids work for 200 days in a year, earning about 25 cents a day. He goes on to show how child labor on this scale, leave alone the shame and scandal, “is injurious to the health of the economy”. He doesn’t say it, but these kids really are—and a time of a Nobel Peace Prize is no time to equivocate—slaves.

The really hard fight is with the attitudes that allow this.

“The middle classes,” Satyarthi once told the BBC, want “cheap, docile labour.” That translates into a steady trafficking of kids “from remote parts of India to big cities.” To go with that, though, too many of us in the middle class want beggars to be kept out of sight. Leading up to the 2010 Commonwealth Games and the expected flood of tourists, for example, the Delhi Government worked diligently to “beautify” the city, but especially diligently in one particular way. Satyarthi commented: “The government’s mentality is that beggars are garbage and they must be put away to show foreigners what a clean city we have.”

Everybody wants cheap docile labor, but we can’t have it in sentient form. That cheap docile labor needs to be in school.

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

Guest post: It’s a sport that really rewards the worst human beings

Oct 11th, 2014 5:16 pm | By

Originally a comment by PZ Myers on That was before the money went into it.

It’s been this way since I was in high school.

Our football coach was a psychopath.

He took pride in his collection of paddle boards; every session of our gym class was accompanied by someone, or multiple someones, getting hacked for trivial infringements of his rules: you forgot your jock strap. You weren’t lined up with everyone right at the instant the bell rang. You came in last when running laps. If he was feeling punitive, the last ten kids would get wacked.

He was the football coach. He got away with it. Grading gym was easy, too: if you were varsity on one of the teams, you got an A; JV, a B; everyone else, a C.

Members of the football team were his favorites. He loved to set up games of dodgeball, where one side was the football squad, and everyone else was on the other. It was always that way — we’d have a day of basketball, and the teams were the football players vs. the “pussies”.

That’s how I got out of gym for one full year: playing basketball against the football assholes, and when I started scoring well (probably because as the unathletic guy on the other team, they kept ignoring me), one of them decided to take me out…by tackling me at the knees. In basketball. Completely wrecked my left knee, got to spend 6 months in a hip-to-ankle cast. The guy didn’t even get a rebuke.

We didn’t have any incidents of sexual violence, at least. The closest we came was that he liked to stroll around the showers and ask the football players about their sexual activities — details about the girls at school were always welcome.

Fucking pervert and violent psychopath. I still seethe when I think of that jerk. He got his comeuppance, though: his son was a star quarterback in high school, and when he moved up to the University of Washington, his dad got promoted to a coaching position on that team. I think he also got another bump upwards when his son went pro. It’s a sport that really rewards the worst human beings.

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

Representing the West, not us

Oct 11th, 2014 4:30 pm | By

From almost a year ago, November 2013 – associations of private schools in Pakistan banned Malala Yousafzai’s autobiography.

Ironically, educational officials in Pakistan (who work in the very segment of society that Malala wants to improve) have prohibited her memoirs from classrooms across the country. (Tens of millions of Pakistani children attend fee-based private schools since public schools are in such poor shape).

Adeeb Javedani, president of the All Pakistan Private Schools Management Association, told Associated Press that Malala’s book will not be available in any libraries at its 40,000 affiliated schools. He also asked the government to ban it from all school curricula. “Everything about Malala is now becoming clear,” Javedani said. “To me, she is representing the West, not us.”

Kashif Mirza, the chairman of the All Pakistan Private Schools Federation (which represents more than 152,000 institutions across the country), has also banned the book from all schools under his group’s jurisdiction. “The federation thought we should review the book, and having reviewed it we came to the decision that the book was not suitable for our children, particularly not our students,” said Mirza. “Pakistan is an ideological country. That ideology is based on Islam…. In this book are many comments that are contrary to our ideology.”

This is someone who oversees schools. Apparently his ideology approves of shooting girls like Malala in the head for being determined to go to school.

Not everyone in Pakistan supports the ban. “The decision to ban the book is the result of a deliberate smear campaign run against Malala and the book by right-wing commentators,” said Bina Shah, novelist and education campaigner based in Karachi, according to Pakistani media. “There has been complete confusion about the book, sown very deliberately in the minds of adults because of this right-wing talk.”

Thus blighting the future for who knows how many millions of girls in Pakistan.

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

A person so good at his job

Oct 11th, 2014 3:40 pm | By

This is one big reason I don’t like Sam Harris. It always has been (since he became someone to like or not like, that is). I went to his blog to look for his post on liberals and Islam, and in the process of looking (which I haven’t completed yet because I paused to say this) I read the first sentence of the first post.

From time to time one discovers a person so good at his job that it is almost impossible to imagine him doing anything else.

It’s just odd, and stubbornly clueless, that even now, even after a big disagreement with a lot of feminists about the way he talks about women, he does that. I think most intellectual types have learned not to do that by now, and it sticks out that Harris hasn’t. The End of Faith was like that on every damn page, and after awhile I couldn’t stand it any more.

(There’s a bit of extra humor in the fact that he did manage to say “a person” instead of “a man”…but just couldn’t manage the follow-through.)

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

That was before the money went into it

Oct 11th, 2014 3:24 pm | By

The New York Times has a whole lot more on the Sayreville football team and the “bullying and harassment” that got the season shut down. Seven players are accused of “hazing of a sexual nature.” It also has more on the pathetic football-worship in Sayreville and the way it motivates grown-ass adults to minimize the hazing.

The charges were announced by Andrew C. Carey, the Middlesex County prosecutor, in a joint statement with Chief John Zebrowski of the Sayreville Police Department.

Richard Labbe, the district superintendent, released a statement.

“As should be evident by now, the Sayreville Board of Education takes this matter extremely seriously,” Mr. Labbe said, “and thus will continue to make the safety and welfare of our students, particularly the victims of these horrendous alleged acts, our highest priority.”

But around town, there were questions about the four separate attacks that the police said occurred from Sept. 19 to Sept. 29. Were they isolated events this season, or had hazing been a ritualistic part of Coach George Najjar’s team, known as the Bombers?

The accusations alone were “absolutely shocking” to Robert Keating, 52, who was walking through Kennedy Park with his two children.

“What were those kids thinking?” he said, shaking his head. “I went to this high school. I don’t remember any trouble like this every happening. But the football team was never very good then. That was before the money went into it and people started making such a big deal out of it.”

Ah now why did that happen? Why is football made such a big deal? Especially high school football? Some people in Sayreville wonder the same thing.

Inside Angelo’s, a pizzeria on Main Street, that was what baffled John Shara, 56, a 20-year Sayreville resident. He motioned to the store owner at the counter and said: “They play a game on Friday night and he tells me that no one comes in here because everyone’s at the field. They play on Saturday, you go into the diner down the street and you’ve got all these 50-year-old men in their Bombers caps and sweatshirts.

“Honestly, I don’t get it. I understand if you’re in Texas, or Iowa, in a town where there’s nothing else around for 20 miles.”

Even in Texas, or in Iowa, why not do something that a lot more kids can participate in, and a lot less violent? Drama, music, singing, dance?

“I hear people from here calling up radio stations and saying it’s just a little hazing and screaming about losing the season,” Mr. Shara said. “Hazing is hitting a kid with a towel or jockstrap. What we’re talking about here is not hazing, it’s criminal. If it’s true, they should shut it down for five years. I mean, how do you leave 60 or 70 kids alone in a locker room?”

Earlier in the week, Mr. Labbe said that coaches were unaware of any incidents, which Stuart Green, the director of the New Jersey Coalition for Bullying Awareness and Prevention, considered excuse-making, if not exoneration.

“At any level, even the N.F.L, with the question of bullying and abuse, the media focuses on the players and not enough on the culture,” Mr. Green said in a telephone interview. “Not to excuse the behavior, but it’s the job of the adults to not put these kids in that kind of environment and expect them to police themselves.”

I would like to see everyone focus a whole lot more on the culture. The culture sucks.

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

Guest post: That was the sort of mindset this “game” created

Oct 11th, 2014 12:43 pm | By

Originally a comment by Blanche Quizno on But football is a necessity of life.

My 6’4″ son went out for football last year and, when he realized how much time it would require, he voted for his studies instead and quit the team. A half a dozen other young men then quit the team – it’s like they didn’t realize they COULD quit or something. In fact, one of his friends, who had just the week before talked of hoping to be team captain that year, quit a few days after my son did. That really shocked me – “football player” had been a huge part of his apparent identity/persona. I remember him telling me that, at the end of a tackle, if someone from the other team were slow in getting up, he’d gladly stomp his hand as hard as he could with his cleats. This kid is a devout Christian hoping for a career in youth ministry, BTW. When he was talking about quitting the team, he said that football brought out the worst in him, aggression-wise. I reminded him of the hand-stomping comment. He agreed that was the sort of mindset this “game” created, and that he’d realized he didn’t want to be that guy – he wanted to “love on” people instead.

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

Remember, #gamergate isn’t about attacking women

Oct 11th, 2014 12:07 pm | By

So tweeted Brianna Wu, along with a series of explicitly threatening tweets she received, and

The police just came by. Husband and I are going somewhere safe.

Warning: explicit sexualized violence.

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Can we take this seriously now?

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

But football is a necessity of life

Oct 11th, 2014 11:36 am | By

Another item for the annals of “people take football way too seriously.”

A town that found encouragement in its winning high school football team after the devastation of Superstorm Sandy was left to absorb another blow Tuesday after school officials canceled the season over allegations of bullying, intimidation and harassment among players.

The rest of the story is about how sad and upset everyone is…about the cancellation, not about the bullying, intimidation and harassment. They want their football and they don’t care about bullying, intimidation and harassment. That’s fucked up.

“There was enough evidence that there were incidents of harassment, of intimidation and bullying that took place on a pervasive level, on a wide-scale level and at a level at which the players knew, tolerated and generally accepted,” Superintendent Richard Labbe told reporters Monday night. “Based upon what has been substantiated to have occurred, we have canceled the remainder of the football season.”

Labbe said he could not discuss the investigation, and the prosecutor’s office has declined to release details. No charges have been filed, but Labbe said Prosecutor Andrew Carey told him there is credible evidence to back up the allegations of bullying and harassment within the program.

Maybe there’s something about football that isn’t good for people? Maybe it fosters aggression, and that fosters other kinds of aggression, like bullying and harassment?

Corinne Kalev, whose daughter attends the middle school adjacent to high school, said football is a big part of fall for the town.

“I think the parents might be more upset than the kids, because this might be these kids’ future,” Kalev said. “Some of them are really good players and it seems like because of a couple of kids, the whole team is being punished.”

This is a school we’re talking about. The job of schools is to teach. Football is peripheral. It’s recreation. It’s sport. It’s not the core of the school. Most kids’ futures are based far more on what they learn in the classroom than it is on football.

Labbe said Monday he was sending a message with his decision.

“We need all of our student-athletes, all of our students, heck, all students in the state, in this nation, to understand that the one true way to stop bullying is for those bystanders to do the right thing and become up-standers and report to an adult or someone at an authority level of what is going on.”

That’s more important than having a football season. A lot more important.

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

The guardians who have kindly taken upon themselves the work of supervision

Oct 11th, 2014 11:21 am | By

Daniel Anderson at the Lawyers’ Secular Society draws on Kant for thoughts on the Law Society’s Sharia guidance. In his essay on enlightenment, Kant wrote that enlightenment is having the courage to use your own understanding, instead of being so cowardly and lazy that you leave it to others to understand for you.

Kant goes on to further state that the failure to think for ourselves, as human beings, will lead to the rights of fellow human beings to be trampled upon.

The failure to think for ourselves will lead us to distrust others and so hand over complete control to a select few:

The guardians who have kindly taken upon themselves the work of supervision will soon see to it that by far the largest part of mankind (including the entire fair sex) should consider the step forward to maturity not only as difficult but also as highly dangerous.

The entire fair sex? That means women. We (women) are considered peculiarly incapable of thinking and understanding for ourselves. Sam Harris’s recent foray into explaining how women think made it clear – not for the first time – that even putatively enlightened people think that about women. Harris thinks and writes that our estrogen vibe makes us uncomfortable with the activity of criticizing bad ideas.

Turning back to the 21st century, does the Law Society’s Sharia Succession Rules Practice Note enable us all, as human beings, to think for ourselves? It is submitted that it emphatically does not. In the Practice Note is extremely detailed prescriptive guidance on how the estate of a deceased person must be divided. We all should be familiar by now as to what this detailed prescriptive guidance is. Nevertheless, it is worth reiterating again what is actually in the Practice Note (at section 3.6):

“The male heirs in most cases receive double the amount inherited by a female heir of the same class. Non-Muslims may not inherit at all, and only Muslim marriages are recognised. Similarly, a divorced spouse is no longer a Sharia heir, as the entitlement depends on a valid Muslim marriage existing at the date of death.”

“…illegitimate and adopted children are not Sharia heirs.”

This highly detailed prescriptive guidance wouldn’t look out of place coming from a fundamentalist Wahhabi school. And yet the Law Society has simply accepted such guidance uncritically without any apparent thoughts of its own.

And that’s laziness and cowardice.

The Law Society, by unequivocally adopting and endorsing Sharia, is showing the exact laziness and cowardice that Kant warns against. Furthermore, by stating that solicitors should follow the Practice Note the Law Society is actually asking the profession to follow in its laziness and cowardice.

It is easier to let others do the understanding for you, but “easier” is seldom the best quality.

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

Nalin Afrin

Oct 11th, 2014 10:55 am | By

Maajid Nawaz on Twitter.

Hero. Remember her name: Nalin Afrin. General commander of Kurdish forces defending city of #Kobane against ISIL scourge.

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

You have the right to an attorney…

Oct 10th, 2014 3:45 pm | By

Talk about “fetal personhood”

This spring, Alabama Republicans passed an extreme new law that would force minors who want to have an abortion without a parent’s permission to undergo a grueling court trial—and it would give judges the right to appoint a lawyer for the fetus. Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union asked a federal court to block the law, prompting national headlines.

Alabama’s new law sets up time-consuming inquisitions. It requires district attorneys to cross-examine minors who want an abortion without parental approval, and it allows DAs and lawyers for fetuses to call witnesses to testify against the pregnant girls. Under this measure, a judge can adjourn bypass hearings for long periods of time, and a judge can disclose the minor’s identity to any person who “needs to know.” If a minor’s parents become aware of a bypass hearing—which the Supreme Court intended to be confidential—the law allows the parents to participate in the hearing and be represented by a lawyer.

In other words, Alabama’s law is unprecedented. But the practice of appointing attorneys to represent fetuses in judicial bypass hearings is not. An Alabama judge tried to appoint representation for a fetus in the state’s very first bypass hearing in 1987. A 1988 Ms. cover story on that case reported that the judge, Charles Nice, reassigned an attorney who wanted to represent the minor to represent the minor’s fetus instead. The attorney refused to cooperate, and Judge Nice dropped the idea.

The fetus is way more important than the woman or girl who contains the fetus. If the fetus is born a girl…well she loses most of her importance right then and there. It’s kind of like the way a new car “depreciates” as it’s driven off the lot.

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

The archbishop’s hobby

Oct 10th, 2014 3:05 pm | By

The Catholic Herald reported a couple of weeks ago that the Vatican had arrested an archbishop for sexually abusing young boys.

Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi released a statement yesterday regarding the case of former archbishop Józef Wesołowski, a Pole who served as nuncio to the Dominican Republic until August 2013.

The Vatican announced in June that a canonical court had investigated Wesołowski on charges of sex abuse in the Dominican Republic and concluded by dismissing him from the clerical state, depriving him of all rights and duties associated with being a priest except the obligation of celibacy. Wesołowski would face a criminal trial under the laws of Vatican City State, the Vatican said at the time.

Yesterday, Fr Lombardi said, a Vatican prosecutor summoned Wesołowski and informed him of the charges against him.

Because of the “gravity of the accusations,” investigators decided to arrest the former ambassador, the spokesman said, but “in light of the medical condition of the accused, supported by medical documentation”, he was placed under house arrest in Vatican City.

A couple of days later it was being reported that investigators had found a shit-ton of  child porn on the archbish’s computers. Child porn can’t be made without sexually abusing the children involved.

Vatican detectives analysed the PC Wesolowski used in his office in Santo Domingo, where he served as Holy See envoy from 2008 to 2012 as part of an investigation into the alleged sexual abuse of underage boys.

The probe reportedly revealed a collection of horrors. The Polish native held more than 100,000 sexually-explicit files, Il Corriere della Sera newspaper reported.

Some 160 videos showing teenage boys forced to perform sexual acts on themselves and on adults and more than 86,000 pornographic photos were meticulously archived in several category-based folders, the paper said.

Investigators said that at least another 45,000 pictures were deleted, while a second stash of material was found on a laptop Wesolowski used during his trips abroad.

That’s a lot of child abuse the archbishop was consuming.

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