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.

Hands off

Mar 20th, 2012 3:12 pm | By

The Vatican has issued a report on priestly child rape in Ireland. The Vatican is happy to see “the deep faith of many men and women” despite all this brouhaha about child rape. The Vatican knows what to do moving forward: it is to have “deeper formation in the content of the faith for young people and adults.”

And there’s another thing.

 Since the Visitators also encountered a certain tendency, not dominant but nevertheless fairly widespread among priests, religious and laity, to hold theological opinions at variance with the teachings of the Magisterium, this serious situation requires particular attention, directed primarily towards improved theological formation. It must be stressed that dissent from the fundamental teachings of the Church is not the authentic path towards renewal.

That’s the important bit. The power and authority of the (all-male, all celibate) priests and bishops. It’s the male celibate priests and bishops who do the Magisterium, and nobody else is allowed to touch it.

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

I get email

Mar 20th, 2012 1:36 pm | By

I got one today from someone who has commented here a few times as nmcc or NMcC, and who commented yesterday to tell me how wrong I am about the word “cunt” and to say “Sarah Palin is a cunt.” I deleted that comment and put him – his email address showed he’s a Nigel – in moderation. The message I got this morning expressed surprise at the deletion of the comment. (It started with “Hi” – this is more significant than you might think.) I replied, brusquely,

Really? You would have thought “Sarah Palin is a cunt” was well within my commenting policy? I’ve been very explicit about that. Other things not within my commenting policy: “Al Sharpton is a nigger.” “Woody Allen is a kike.” “Salman Rushdie is a wog.”

I hope that clears things up.

——– Ophelia Benson, Editor Butterflies and Wheels ———

He replied. This is how he replied:

Dear Ms Benson,
Thank you for taking the time to reply to my email.
I must say, I don’t expect much in the way of civility from the ‘new’ atheist type, but I confess I thought elementary good manners by way of an introductory salutation might not have been beyond you. Obviously not.
In regard to my comment: This is simply a difference of opinion, though one that you have blown up into a difference of principle – or, rather, you have attempted to do so. In my opinion (I assume I’m allowed to have an opinion since we don’t live in a ‘new’ atheist world yet, and neither, thank Christ, are we ever likely to!), and as I said in my comment, the word cunt, like the word dick, and like the word asshole, are rarely, if ever, used to refer to a particular anatomical feature of a male or female. Words can take on a life of their own. Language evolves and grows and changes to the degree that words are unrecognisable from what they first meant, implied or described. The word gay, of course, is an obvious example.
I use the word cunt all the time. So do a lot of people I know. I never use it with the slightest thought of it having any connection with the female genitalia. To my knowledge, neither does anyone else.
So, in fact, you are quite simply wrong to ascribe any inference of misogyny to me or anyone I know. Indeed, your introducing the terms nigger, kike and wog,  simply shows how ludicrously – not to mention hysterically and self-righteously – wrong you are.  The simple fact is, there is NO comparison to be made with the words mentioned. All 3 of those words, as far as I’m aware, were specifically coined to refer to others in a racist and openly hateful and derogatory way. Those words refer to specific people and are used to degrade and denigrate those specific people. The word cunt is NOT used in any such way by the majority of people who use it. It most certainly is not used to denigrate or degrade women.
You have a different opinion. Good for you. Keep advocating your point of view. Perhaps you’ll change my mind on the issue.
I am unlikely to change your mind for the simple reason that you have got no qualms about DELETING my point of view, and would further, in the unlikely event of you ever being in a position to do so, have no problem in countenancing my being made to conform to your mistaken and ludicrous views through threats of censorship.
I, on the other hand, am a democrat, and would not entertain for a second the idea of shutting anyone up, let alone you.
Incidentally, have you any idea how pathetic you appear to me in your phoney concern for women’s interests?
Are you not the person who is encouraging your fellow dopey ‘new’ atheists to attend a gig at an American military base? What was it you called those state-sponsored thugs and murderers? Oh yes, ‘good people’.
Tell me, what’s worse: Using the word cunt completely bereft of any hateful connotations or intentions in regard to women, or sanctioning and applauding those who, at the behest of a religious nut, are responsible for wrecking their already impoverished lives through murdering and maiming their children and husbands?
Go ahead, tell me. You hypocritical cunt.
Yours sincerely,
Nigel McCullough


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

A visit to exotic Whitechapel

Mar 20th, 2012 11:39 am | By

A strange article by Jemima Khan in The New Statesman on what she calls “Asian” marriage but discusses mostly as Muslim or Islamic marriage.

Marriage Asian-style is practical, contractual and, to the western mind, deeply unromantic. “The spinster crisis is an issue of modernity,” preaches an energetically gesticulating man in a white prayer cap, jacket and trainers. “Success is the right attitude – no conspiracies, please. Can’t blame Israel.” Cue laughs from those assembled: women in hijabs seated on one side of the wood-panelled hall; men, mostly in suits, a few of them in Arab dress with beards, on the other; chaperones at the back.

The speaker is Mizan Raja, the engaging founder of the UK-based Islamic Travels agency, who also set up the Islamic Circles community network and now presides over the east London Muslim matrimonial scene. I’m at a Practising Muslim event at Toynbee Hall in Whitechapel. According to the network’s website, the event is held four times a year and is “especially geared towards those Muslims who are actually practising, ie, not a ‘fasiq‘ – open sinner – as defined by the classical texts in sharia law”.

See what I mean by strange? It starts off sounding cheery and vaguely tourist-like, then suddenly veers into the sinister, then reverts to the cheery tourism (Mizan Raja is “engaging”) then goes beyond the sinister into the frankly scary. What are we reading here? A journalistic report on quaint customs in East London or an exposé of theocratic abuses of women’s rights ditto?

Mizan says he is meeting a need for something that is a duty in Islam. There’s someone for everyone: “Even the disabled have needs” and Islamic Circles holds regular events for them. And increasingly, he says, career women are electing to become “co-wives” – in other words, to become a man’s second or third wife.

And the “duty in Islam” is what? Being married? Being married no matter what, including not wanting to be married? Apparently.

Home Office figures show that Muslim men bring almost 12,000 women to Britain as spouses from the Middle East and the subcontinent every year. One reason for this is the perception that women with careers tend to be “a bit lippy” and don’t make good wives, according to Parag Bhargava, a moustachioed natty dresser in blue shirt and sleeveless navy cardigan…

There it is again, the mix of the travelogue and the sinister. “The perception” is clearly that women who think they are people too “don’t make good wives” – which indicates to me that we’re talking about men who don’t make good husbands. Jemima Khan, however, gives no sign of noticing.

For his efforts, Mizan has been spat at in the street and punched by hardliners who believe that free mixing of the sexes is taboo in Islam. “I’m a businessman, not a bloody imam – but I’ve had to marry people when the imam won’t,” he tells me. At least I think he tells me: he refuses to look me in the eye and politely answers my questions by addressing the man to my right.

Politely? Politely? Oy.

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

Vote with your feet

Mar 19th, 2012 4:03 pm | By

I was on a plane or in an airport much of March 9, and busy the rest of the day, so I missed the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s full-page ad in the New York Times. The ad is a good thing.

Before the ad, there was an open letter.

Dear ‘Liberal’ Catholic:

It’s time to quit the Roman Catholic Church.

It’s your moment of truth. Will it be reproductive freedom, or back to the Dark Ages? Do you choose women and their rights, or Bishops and their wrongs? Whose side are you on, anyway?

It is time to make known your dissent from the Catholic Church, in light of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops’ ruthless campaign endangering the right to contraception. If you’re part of the Catholic Church, you’re part of the problem.
Why are you propping up the pillars of a tyrannical and autocratic, woman-hating, sex-perverting, antediluvian Old Boys Club? Why are you aiding and abetting a church that has repeatedly and publicly announced a crusade to ban contraception, abortion and sterilization, and to deny the right of all women everywhere, Catholic or not, to decide whether and when to become mothers?  When it comes to reproductive freedom, the Roman Catholic Church is Public Enemy Number One. Think of the acute misery, poverty, needless suffering, unwanted pregnancies, social evils and deaths that can be laid directly at the door of the Church’s antiquated doctrine that birth control is a sin and must be outlawed.

Damn right. This was one thing my co-author and I agreed on when writing Does God Hate Women? It doesn’t work to claim to be liberal when you’re helping to sustain a reactionary woman-hating institution; you should get out.

No self-respecting feminist, civil libertarian or progressive should cling to the Catholic faith. As a Cafeteria Catholic, you chuck out the stale doctrine and moldy decrees of your religion, but keep patronizing the establishment that menaces public health by serving rotten offerings. Your continuing Catholic membership, as a “liberal,” casts a veneer of respectability upon an irrational sect determined to blow out the Enlightenment and threaten liberty for women worldwide. You are an enabler. And it’s got to stop.

That. That, that, that.

By the way the ad’s headline should be “It’s Time to Quit the Catholic Church” but the Times made them change it to “It’s Time to Consider Quitting” – the worms.



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

Yes and no, and then again maybe

Mar 19th, 2012 3:36 pm | By

Some people want to have all the things – religion and science, belief and doubt, props for being thoughtful and admiration for being Deeply Spiritual.

Do you struggle with doubt & questions despite your best intentions? What does it mean about someone if he or she admits to both embracing “belief” and “doubt?” How does science impact your thoughts on this issue?  For this Lent we are asking people to go into potentially dangerous (but also liberating) territory, to ask the hard questions about their faith. After all, doesn’t this season of Lent ask us to identify with the struggles of Jesus, including his expressions of doubt in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross?

So during this Lent we are hosting a conversation on this topic with NPR’s Barbara Bradley Hagerty and psychiatrist/author Curt Thompson, M.D. They approach this topic from their common position of being accomplished science writers and Christians. We did not tell them what to say about faith, we only asked them to be honest. One of the biggest sources of challenge, doubt, and excitement in our faith comes from the world of science, so this particular perspective on doubt requires thinkers like Hagerty and Thompson. They will be signing copies of their respective books on faith and science too.

Challenge, doubt, and excitement – only, not real challenge, doubt, and excitement. Not real challenge and doubt that could actually lead somewhere, just the fashionable kind that lets you be both faithy and thoughty, at least in the eyes of people who like that kind of thing.

In other words they don’t mean it. They say it but they don’t mean it. They’re fans of faith, they’re apologists, so they’re not really doing challenge and doubt, they’re just deploying the words. I find that annoying.


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

Militant is the new neo

Mar 19th, 2012 11:26 am | By

Nick Cohen has some gently critical things to say about the new fad for calling secularism “militant” and “extreme.”

‘Militant secularist’ has become the ‘neo-con’ of the 2010s: a know-nothing label that signifies extremism, without explaining where the extremism lies. Radio 4 broadcasters  prove that their bias is not always squishy liberal by allowing the religious to denounce the supposed militancy of their critics, without allowing the critics to reply. Like the small-c  conservative columnists in the broadsheets, they forget to tell you what is ‘militant’ about ‘militant secularism’ because if they did, they would expose their own fatuity.

Or their mendacity, or their rebarbative blend of the two.

If you turn on the news tonight and hear of a bomber slaughtering civilians anywhere from  Nigeria to the London Underground, I can reassure you of one point: the bombers will not be readers of Richard Dawkins.

That guy on the scooter in Toulouse? I’m betting he’s not a reader of Richard Dawkins.


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

Cleanliness is next to…what was it again?

Mar 19th, 2012 10:59 am | By

My friend EllenBeth Wachs and other Florida atheists have been teasing the Polk Under Prayer crowd.

County Road 98 in Polk County, Fla., was scrubbed today by a group of atheists who are protesting the “Polk Under Prayer” campaign, supporters of which poured olive oil on the road last year in an anointment ceremony.

“Mainly we want this to be a safe haven for folks who want to raise their families,” explained Polk Under Prayer organizer, Dr. Richard Geringswald, according to ABC News affiliate WFTS-TV in Tampa. “Asking God’s protection from ne’er do wells and evil doers.”

Ellen Beth Wachs, the president of Humanists of Florida Association and Atheists of Florida, said that she feels unwelcome as an atheist in the county.

Not surprisingly, when the PUP crowd includes most local government and law enforcement officials.

Last week, Polk Under Prayer campaign members buried bricks that were engraved with Psalm 37:9-11 beside the 12 major roadways leading into the county, praying for criminals to become Christian or be incarcerated, according to WFTV.

Scott Wilder, a spokesman for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, said this claim was so ridiculous he’d rather not comment.

Oh it’s ridiculous all right…

Update: Much more from an actual participant, including a press release:


This Saturday, atheists are gathering on the Polk County line. The atheists will perform a counter-ritual in opposition to a ritual performed previously by the Polk Under Prayer campaign. In early 2010, Polk Under Prayer (also called “PUP”) – a group of Christian religious and political leaders in Polk County – ritually anointed all roads entering Polk County with a strip of oil.

According to Pastor Frank Smith of Frank Smith Ministries in Winter Haven, the oil ritual was intended to bring those in Polk County to a “full knowledge of Jesus Christ” and to ask “God to have angels inspect every vehicle that travels into or out of this county” and “if they will not submit to God’s way of living, then the prayer is to have them incarcerated or removed from the county.”

Atheist and Mark Palmer, Executive Director of the Humanists of Florida Association, said, “To spread oil on the roads of Polk County and pray for the incarceration of all non-Christians is dangerous, bigoted, and un-American.” Secular leaders from the Humanists of Florida Association, the Atheists of Florida, the Tallahassee Atheists, the Freethinkers FSU, and more will gather at State Road 35 on the north border of Polk County. There they will anoint the road with pure water, because as Palmer said wryly, “oil and water don’t mix.” Palmer called the ritual a “symbolic gesture with two goals. The first is to welcome all people, regardless of their beliefs, to travel in and through Polk County, as is their legal right. And the second is to make Floridians aware of what religiously motivated political machines are doing in some rural counties. PUP is not just some fringe group of religious zealots, but is the major political force in Polk County.”

On March 1, 2011, PUP held an event at which Lakeland Mayor Gow Fields, Polk County Schools superintendent Sherrie Nickell, and Polk County  Grady Judd were the guests of honor. PUP Organizer, Richard Geringswald declared that these three “are coming on board with enthusiasm. Each representative touches three major factors in our county: Government, Education and Law Enforcement.” Below is pictured a billboard whereon these leaders endorse PUP with their names and their government offices.

Two days after this March 1st event, Sheriff Grady Judd arranged for the arrest and incarceration of EllenBeth Wachs, an atheist activist, after she made public records requests investigating Judd’s allegedly illegal transfers of county property to local churches. (Wachs now serves as President of the Humanists of Florida Association.)

This Saturday, Florida’s secular leaders intend to “condemn the bigoted actions of PUP and call on the good citizens of Polk County and its government leaders to remember that they are elected to support and represent all citizens of Polk county, not just the Christians.” Palmer continued, “We are Americans. We are Floridians. We must oppose religious favoritism and remember that we stand for liberty and justice for all.”

Well done, Florida atheists.

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

Theocrats spy an opening

Mar 18th, 2012 5:52 pm | By

Who do they think they are, the theocrats? Who do they think made them boss?

At least 200 Anglican primaries and secondaries could be established within the next five years as part of a major expansion plan outlined by the Church.

A report – to be published later this week – will also recommend rebranding existing Anglican schools to “reinvigorate” them in the face of competition from new academies and free schools.

So these will all be state schools, taxpayer-funded schools, run for the benefit of churches and their priests. Why?

The Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Rev John Pritchard, chairman of the Church’s board of education, said major reform was needed to tackle “the level of   religious illiteracy in our society”.

He also said the changes – to be formally outlined in a report released on   Friday – would allow faith leaders to confront the growing influence of secularism.

But why should they be confronting the influence of secularism at all? Especially at taxpayer expense? Secularism doesn’t mean the bulldozing of churches, it means No Theocracy Thank You.

Bishop Pritchard said: “The whole national context is one in which secularist debates, whether it be on equality, gay marriage, employment in schools, a whole range of things, are bringing up the issues of secularist versus [religious] approaches to society’s life.”

Yes it does, and why should the Anglican church be helped to push its approach to society’s life by indoctrinating children at taxpayer expense?

Currently, the CofE runs 4,800 out of 23,000 state schools in England.

But the Church is keen to expand its influence on the back of the academies and free schools programme, which takes schools out of direct local authority control and places them in the hands of charities, entrepreneurs and faith groups.

Grab grab grab.


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

Reducing the influence of religion in the world

Mar 18th, 2012 4:54 pm | By

Victor Stenger’s talk on the panel at Moving Secularism Forward is at the Huffington Post, and I think it’s clear that he doesn’t think religious belief should be “eradicated” by sword and fire, but rather that it should be undermined and diminished over time by better ways of getting at the truth.

Scientists have to help the rest of the secular community to work toward reducing the influence of religion to the point where it has negligible effect on society. I don’t believe this is impossible. Astrology and the reading of sheep entrails are no longer used to decide on courses of events, such as going to war. Why can’t we expect the same for the imagined dialogues with an ancient tribal sky god that at least one recent president has used to justify his actions?

See? That’s not about force, or literal eradication. Divination and astrology haven’t dwindled to minority pastimes through coercion, they’ve been displaced by better methods and (up to a point, alas) by education.

Most scientists do not realize that science and religion are fundamentally incompatible. This is not because they have thought about it. It is because they prefer not to think about it.

Fundamentalists know science and religion are incompatible, since science disputes so much of what is in the Bible, which they take as the literal word of God. To them, science is simply wrong and must be Christianized. A well-funded effort exists to do just that, while most scientists sit on the sidelines because they prefer not to get involved.

But science and religion have always been at war, and always will be. One of yesterday’s speakers said that he did not like to use the word “religion” but rather called it a “belief system.” Well, there are different kinds of belief systems. Science is a belief system based on reason and evidence. Religion is a belief system based on bullshit.

And one way for religion as a belief system to loosen its grip is for more people to point out that it’s based on bullshit.

Religion would not be such a negative force in society if it were just about going to church socials and celebrating rites of passage. However, the magical thinking that becomes deeply ingrained whenever faith rules over facts warps all areas of life. It instills superficial beliefs which, having been adopted without reason, cannot be displaced by reason. Magical thinking ignores evidence and favors whatever opinion is the most convenient or socially acceptable.

And by doing that, it gets things wrong. There really is a downside to getting things wrong. I can’t stress this enough.

Science is not going to change its commitment to the truth. And religion is not going to change its commitment to nonsense. And that is why I call upon scientists and all thinking people to focus their attention on reducing the influence of religion in the world, with the goal of the eventual fall of foolish faith. The future depends on it.

See? Reducing the influence, not eradication.

It seems like a good goal to me.

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

Last Sunday afternoon at the Manchester Mercure

Mar 18th, 2012 12:37 pm | By

Saturday night at QED one of the prizes was for Best Podcast, and it was won by The Pod Delusion. I felt enthusiastic about this, because they had asked to interview me at QED. Hooray for ME, thought I, I get to be interviewed by the WINNAZ.

And I did. We went into a nice quiet little room off the main area which alas turned out to be a little room on the way to another little room where the QED people were keeping things. That’s why if you listen you will hear several breaks for editing. It’s not because I burst into a flurry of oaths for no apparent reason.

Episode 127.

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

Belief as pickpocket

Mar 18th, 2012 11:27 am | By

I’m amicably disagreeing with Ron Lindsay at his CFI blog, where he is amicably disagreeing with Vic Stenger and PZ Myers about something both of them said at the Sunday morning panel in Orlando two weeks ago. (I was on the same panel.)

Both Stenger and Myers made various recommendations about objectives on which secularists should concentrate, but they both agreed on one point: they both asserted we should aim to eliminate or eradicate religious belief…

As I have argued at greater length elsewhere, our primary objective as secularists should be to bring about a secular society, that is, one in which public policy is free of religious influence and discussions and decisions about public policy are based entirely on secular considerations. This is an achievable goal, at least in the developed world. Furthermore, it’s a goal that does not require us to convert all or even most of the religious. We only have to ensure that a critical mass of people support the concept of a secular society, whether they are religious or not.

If religion were truly a private matter—well, then, it would be a private matter. I don’t think we should be that concerned about people having beliefs or engaging in practices that are not rationally grounded, if in fact those beliefs or practices do not result in conduct harmful to others.

It’s that last bit that I amicably disagree about. I do think we should be that concerned about people having beliefs that are not rationally grounded, if the beliefs are of a certain kind. Beliefs in fairies, ghosts, astrology? Well, maybe not that much, but some. Beliefs in an omni god with moral claims on us? That much and more.

But even beliefs in fairies or astrology – some of us, at least, are and should be that concerned even about those: teachers, for instance; journalists, for another instance. We do care about beliefs about the world that are not rationally grounded and that there are good reasons to think are mistaken, because we think people in general should have access to reliable knowledge about the world.

Ron makes a comparison to team fandom, which is also not rationally grounded. Yes but - a commitment is not the same kind of thing as a truth claim. Religion tends to blend the two, of course, but then what Ron cites PZ and Stenger as saying is that “we should aim to eliminate or eradicate religious belief” – not commitment, but belief. Team fandom is independent of belief. I’ve recently discovered that I actually like watching football (soccer football), and I watch it here, and the result is that I want the Sounders to win – I have a little bit of team fandom. It’s got nothing to do with any belief though, it’s just that they’re the home team where I watch. I don’t need my preference to be rationally grounded. But religious beliefs aren’t detachable in that way.

Ron concluded with:

As should be clear, I’m not advocating an “accommodationist” position. I’m not suggesting we should tone down our criticisms of religious beliefs. Integrity demands we be candid in our criticism of religion whenever the occasion for such criticism arises. Instead, I’m merely suggesting that we be clear about our goals. To paraphrase Jefferson, it doesn’t pick my pocket if a person believes in one god or twenty gods, so beliefs by themselves shouldn’t concern us. Religious beliefs should concern us only to the extent that they cause harm, in particular, the extent to which they prevent achievement of a secular society. What efforts we expend on disabusing people of their religious beliefs is a pragmatic question, to be answered by determining what is necessary to obtain a secular society—for that should be our primary objective.

The trouble with Jefferson’s quip is that it isn’t just about my pocket. It’s about education for everyone. The ability to see when beliefs – not commitments, but beliefs – are not rationally grounded, is a useful one, which shouldn’t be confined to an elite. Religious beliefs do cause harm to people’s intellectual functioning, and that by itself is a good reason to want them to erode.

I think actually Ron and I don’t really disagree about this, but are talking about slightly different things. I could be wrong though!

Go Sounders.

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

Entry 47235

Mar 18th, 2012 10:23 am | By

Yet more from the misogyny files.

On Saturday morning, after getting the news that President Obama would be giving the commencement address at Barnard College this May, graduating senior Marly Faherty did what her generation does: she went online, to a Columbia University blog called Bwog. But as she watched the comments pouring in, her excitement turned to shock, and then despair. “It was the first time I’d seen something get that nasty that quickly,” she told The Daily Beast. “It was like watching a train wreck. I couldn’t take my eyes off it.”

…commenters started attacking Barnard, Columbia’s all-women’s sister school across the street, and accusing its students of academic inferiority and much, much worse. Using terms like “feminazis” and calling Barnard “Barnyard,” commenters said the school was just a back door to Columbia, and its students deserved neither Obama as a speaker nor affiliation with the university as a whole.

By the end of the day, comments like this one, posted under the name “Blue and White Vagina,” started to appear: “While you guys were perfecting your deepthroating techniques and experimenting with scissoring and anal play, we were learning Calculus (usually by sophomore year of High School). Trust me, if you actually deserved to go to Columbia and put in the work it required, you would understand our resentment. Moral of the story is that feeble, ugly Barnyard women need to shut their jizz holes and just be happy that Columbia let Barnyard pretend it was affiliated for this long.”


Natalie Reed has an eloquent post on hipster misogyny which seems highly relevant.

Amongst hipsters, indie rockers, punks, metalheads, etc. you’ll hear all kinds of “ironic” horrendously sexist shit (“bitches be crazy”, “stop being such a pussy bitch”, “haha Cheryl is such a cunt”, “what are you, on your period or something?”, “how about I shut you up by shoving my dick in your mouth”, “make me a sandwich LOL”, “man, Ellen Page is hot! I would totally rape her in a bathroom!”, “Ann Coulter looks like a fucking tranny”) or see all kinds of horrendously sexist behaviour, (“hold my jacket while I mosh”, blatant sexual harassment, sexual objectification of any and all female musicians or artists or members of a scene, evaluating them all on the basis of appearance first, implying that women can’t possibly do certain things right like audio engineering or DJing a party, sexual assault and date rape, talking over and interrupting women, repeating a woman’s idea and taking credit for it, talking down to women, gender segregating conversational spaces, paying lip service to feminism while only actively supporting ideologies that allow them to get away with not directly confronting any actual issues of gender, allowing the “leaders” of a scene or movement to be completely dominated by men without noticing or questioning it, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.)

… but the men involved “aren’t sexists”. They’re cool. They’re totally down with feminism. That stuff about Newsom? That because they “respect her as a female artist”. And when they say things like wanting to rape Ellen Page, they mean it “ironically”. They’re “making fun of sexism”. They can do, say, believe or think all the sexist shit they want, because as long as they’re not “them”, “the sexists” (who vote republican and stuff), they’re exempt from criticism. And if you do criticize them? Well that’s because you’re hypersensitive, or sex-negative, or have no sense of humour, or don’t understand nuance, or are just being a drama queen, or a petty bitch, or you’re on your period, or you have some kind of personal issue, or you’re trying to co-opt the conversation, or you’re disrespecting cultural differences, or you just don’t “get” the issue or what someone meant and what’s really going on, or it’s “art” and you’re trying to “censor” it, or you’re being too politically didactic / too politically correct, or there’s a worse problem somewhere else which makes this complaint irrelevant, or “first world problems!”, or blah blah blah. Because if sexism is only done by sexists, who explicitly think men and women shouldn’t be equal, and I don’t explicitly think that, then I’m not a sexist, so I can’t be being sexist, so therefore whatever stupid cunt is saying I’m being sexist MUST be wrong. QED, bitch!

Or you think words inherently mean X or Y when in fact the meaning of words is always social, so wow are you ever dumb.

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

That would be never

Mar 17th, 2012 4:43 pm | By


Bill Maher explains that it’s fine for him to call Sarah Palin a cunt.

No it isn’t.

In a brief interview with ABC’s Jake Tapper, Bill Maher explains why calling Sarah Palin a “cunt” or a “twat,” as he has, is in no way equivalent to calling Sandra Fluke a “slut” or a “prostitute,” as Rush Limbaugh did.

I don’t care whether it’s equivalent or not; I care that it’s sexist and bad. Jacob Sullum notes:

Maher seems sincerely oblivious to the fact that “different tastes and different opinions” tend to color people’s views about when sexist epithets are acceptable and when they are so “disgusting” that they are beyond the pale.

And here’s another thing that tends to color people’s views about when sexist epithets are acceptable: being the object of them. It’s easy for Maher to think it’s fine to call Palin a cunt, because Palin’s a woman and he’s a man. It’s a great deal too easy. It’s not attractive for white people to shrug 0ff racist epithets, and it’s not attractive for men to shrug off sexist epithets.

Nick Gillespie – also in Reason – offers more putative liberals talking sexist shit.

At The Daily Beast, Kirsten Powers provides a somewhat more in-depth catalog of vagina dentata imagineering by liberal asshats.

Olbermann, for instance, suggested that that the best way to take Hillary Clinton out of the 2008 presidential race “was to find ‘somebody who can take her into a room and only he comes out.‘” And that conservative commentator S.E. Cupp should have been aborted by her parents. Enchante!

Matt Taibbi, whom Noah tags for calling Andrew Breitbart “a douche” in his obit, is similarly scampish toward the ladies, writes Powers:

Left-wing darling Matt Taibbi wrote on his blog in 2009, “When I read [Malkin’s] stuff, I imagine her narrating her text, book-on-tape style, with a big, hairy set of balls in her mouth.” In a Rolling Stone article about Secretary of State Clinton, he referred to her “flabby arms.” When feminist writer Erica Jong criticized him for it, he responded by referring to Jong as an “800-year old sex novelist.” (Jong is almost 70, which apparently makes her an irrelevant human being.)

Boy, those jokes are fall-down funny, aren’t they?

And then there’s Chris Matthews, the leg-tingled MSNBC host and stalwart JFK defender, who particularly seems to thrive on attacking Hillary Clinton in gender-specific terms:

Over the years he has referred to the former first lady, senator and presidential candidate and current secretary of state as a“she-devil,” “Nurse Ratched,” and “Madame Defarge.” Matthews has also called Clinton “witchy,” “anti-male,” and “uppity” and once claimed she won her Senate seat only because her “husband messed around.”

Sexist shit, all of it. Not ok, any of it. It’s not any more ok because it’s liberals doing it. On the contrary: it’s a deal-breaker. (We know that. We remember all the deals that got broken last summer.)

Update: forgot to h/t skepticlawyer for the link.

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

And now a word for the laydeez

Mar 17th, 2012 11:34 am | By

Another treasure from @UCCB – a patronizing ode to wimmin, from a boss of an organization that excludes women from all power and thinks its “God” is a man. You know what it says without reading it. Women are special, women are lovely, women raise the children, bless their little hearts and their soft heads.

During this month, our minds turn toward the great gift of what Blessed John Paul II in his letter Mulieris Dignitatem calls the feminine genius and its positive impact on the life of the Church and society.

Uh huh. Let’s have a look at good ol’ muley dig, shall we?

even the rightful opposition of women to what is expressed in the biblical words “He shall rule over you” (Gen 3:16) must not under any condition lead to the “masculinization” of women. In the name of liberation from male “domination”, women must not appropriate to themselves male characteristics contrary to their own feminine “originality”. There is a well-founded fear that if they take this path, women will not “reach fulfilment”, but instead will deform and lose what constitutes their essential richness.

Plus we’ll have to share our toys, and they’ll tell us we’re wrong about stuff. We don’t want them. They have to stay inside with the children. Next question?

We are blessed in our archdiocese that everywhere we look, we see the stamp of women who have responded faithfully to God’s call. First and foremost, in our mothers who nurture the faith of our children. The history of our archdiocese is marked by the many communities of religious women who have established a rich network of Catholic education and welcomed lay women to partner with them in continuing to serve our schools…

As a Church we can take great pride in the fact that hospitals established by religious women remain the largest private provider of healthcare in the country. They continue to be staffed by religious and lay women who faithfully bring the healing love of Jesus to their professional work.

They make just the best assistants. Amen.

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

Normally there’s a big cozy plinth

Mar 17th, 2012 10:36 am | By

Interlude. (By the way it’s snowing here right now. Quite hard. This is very odd for March 17 in this particular spot on the globe. A few miles east, in the mountains, it wouldn’t be odd, but down here it’s very odd.) One of the entertainers at QED last Saturday, as I mentioned, was Alun Cochrane, and I thought he was dam’ funny. This is what he’s like.

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

The marketers advise them

Mar 17th, 2012 10:20 am | By

Deep breaths taken. Onward. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, formerly archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan, tells us what keen supporters of women’s rights he and his friends in the church are. He also explains how unfair it all is, and how hard done by they all are, and how mean everyone else is, and what whoppers everyone tells about the church.

I could go on and on:  if you want to see creative, daring, lifegiving healthcare for women and their children, look at what the Church is doing.

And now understand why Catholics rightly bristle when politicians and commentators characterize the Church as backwards and insensitive when it comes to women’s health.  Yes, the PR experts advise them that this tactic is a proven ploy to take the attention off the current urgent issue of religious freedom.  The marketers advise them that, if they can reduce the issue to one of contraception, stereotyping the Church as opposed to women’s rights, they have a chance of clouding the towering issue of the First Freedom.

Other way around, dude. Your tactic of yelling about your “religious freedom” is a ploy to take attention off the way you interfere with secular government and what ought to be secular laws in order to impose your warped views on the entire population.

And the issue is one of contraception, along with other things. Without contraception women’s rights are never secure, but it is your church’s settled view that contraception should not exist, period.

But more than that: don’t you dare pretend to be a defender of human rights when you bar women from all positions of power and authority in your organization, and when you treat attempts to give women such positions as a terrible crime, deserving the worst punishment in your arsenal. Don’t you dare.

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


Mar 17th, 2012 9:47 am | By

Oh hey gee what do you know, the US Conference of Catholic bishops is on Twitter. One can keep up with their theocratic doings so easily…

Here’s yesterday’s press release. It’s about their plans to pray for success at imposing their filthy theocratic laws on the entire US population.

The Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), at its March 13-14 meeting in Washington, called for a nationwide prayer campaign for protection of religious freedom and conscience rights from several threats, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate that forces employers, including religious ones, to provide contraception/sterilization in their health plans.

What about my religious freedom? What about my conscience rights? And by “my” I mean those of people like me, who don’t agree with your arbitrary retrograde vicious ideas about contraception. I mean our religious freedom and conscience rights. I mean our right not to be governed by a group of Catholic bishops.

“We call upon the Catholic faithful, and all people of faith, throughout our country to join us in prayer and penance for our leaders and for the restoration of our First Freedom—religious liberty—which is not only protected in the laws and customs of our great Nation, but rooted in the teachings of our great Tradition,” the bishops said in “United for Religious Freedom” a March 14 statement. “Prayer is the ultimate source of our strength—for without God, we can do nothing; but with God, all things are possible.”

Their “freedom” to block the freedom of other people, is what they mean. Their “freedom” to prevent other people from getting contraception; their “freedom” to make it more difficult for other people to get contraception.

There is also of course their treasured “freedom” to try to compel all Catholic hospitals to refuse to provide life-saving abortions. There is their treasured “freedom” to conceal child rape from law enforcement, and to demand the right to deal with child rape according to canon law instead of the secular law of the relevant country.

I’d better take some deep breaths before I read any more of their press releases.

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

Frivolous law suit dismissed

Mar 17th, 2012 8:03 am | By

Remember Tom Martin, the MRA who was suing LSE for sexism? The one who likes to call women “whores!” when they disagree with him? His case has been dismissed; he has to pay LSE’s costs.

Representing himself at his application for a trial at the Central London County Court on Tuesday, Mr Martin complained of a lack of men-only sessions in the university’s gym and the preponderance of posters in the corridors advertis­ing services for women without the presence of similar materials geared towards men.

Mr Martin, who describes himself as a feminist, said “hard” chairs in the library were uncomfortable for men and that a “male blaming culture” was evident in course materials, which “ignored men’s issues” and focused on wrongs done by them.

Hard chairs. I never knew hard chairs were a feminist invention. So in patriarchal societies chairs are always cushioned? The norm is thick upholstery, and it’s only in decadent egalitarian societies that the hard chair becomes possible? I did not know this.

However, barrister Nick Armstrong, for the LSE, successfully argued that there were no grounds for moving to what would have been likely to be a long trial.

He said Mr Martin’s claim lacked legal coherence, adding that the bar claimants in discrimination cases had to cross to be successful had been set “fairly high” because of the subjective aspects of these cases.

He said Mr Martin would have had to prove that he experienced a “bullying-type scenario” at the LSE, adding: “Whatever Mr Martin says about all this, no objectively reasonable person would feel degraded or humiliated by posters on the wall or course content.”

The whoriarchy wins again. Tragic.

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

Mark your calendars

Mar 16th, 2012 3:52 pm | By

And speaking of going to things – for people in the Seattle area – Richard Dawkins, Elisabeth Cornwell, and Sean Faircloth will be doing a talk in Bellevue on April 1. Details at RDF.

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

Well that went awry

Mar 16th, 2012 3:47 pm | By

Rock Beyond Belief has an official statement from Fort Bragg saying they are allowed to be critical of organized religion. Chris Rodda explains how that happened.

So, why are we thanking Major Dowty? Well, because it was his blog post about his “concern” over the lyrics of a Rock Beyond Belief performer being picked up by FOX News that caused Fort Bragg officials to scrutinize the Rock Beyond Belief lineup and attempt to require additional promises from the performers and speakers that they would not be critical of religion.

But Justin stood his ground, as he always does, and got it in writing that the speakers and performers at Rock Beyond Belief can be critical of religion (just like the speakers at similar religious events are, by the very nature of the promotion of their beliefs, critical of non-religion or what they deem to be “false” religions).

The Christian Fighter Pilot (as Air Force Major Jonathan C. Dowty is not-always-fondly known) made a boo-boo. This is good.

If any of you are able to get to Rock Beyond Belief, do. They need a big turn-out. Go hang out with a bunch of foxhole atheists and other good people.

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