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.


Zing

May 8th, 2012 4:05 pm | By

From the back channel but with permission to quote. Ian Cromwell in reply to the explanation that Edwina Rogers calls herself a nontheist because she dislikes “divisive labels”:

She should stop calling herself a Republican then.

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



More on that interview

May 8th, 2012 11:35 am | By

So Greta pushes her. “Why should people in the atheist movement support a leader for the SCA who’s frankly, worked for years for a party that has consistently opposed on of our core values?” Because she’s going to educate them, ER says. But why have you supported the party all this time, Greta says.

Well, I can tell you, it’s not a party position. It’s an individual position by some members. And it really varies by the member. I have plenty of friends and colleagues who are Republicans, the majority of them, it’s not their position. It’s really hard to stereotype…millions of people: they’re all opposed to gay rights, and everybody in the Republican party is opposed to gay rights, because that’s not true. It’s not true for me; it’s not true for other people I know. It’s not true for every republican elected official. It’s not an official Republican Party position.

Oh? Really? DOMA – how many Republicans voted against that?

From the 2008 Republican platform:

Preserving Traditional Marriage

Because our children’s future is best preserved within the traditional understanding of marriage, we call for a constitutional amendment that fully protects marriage as a union of a man and a woman, so that judges cannot make other arrangements equivalent to it. In the absence of a national amendment, we support the right of the people of the various states to affirm traditional marriage through state initiatives.

Republicans recognize the importance of having in the home a father and a mother who are married. The two-parent family still provides the best environment of stability, discipline, responsibility, and character. Children in homes without fathers are more likely to commit a crime, drop out of school, become violent, become teen parents, use illegal drugs, become mired in poverty, or have emotional or behavioral problems. We support the courageous efforts of single-parent families to provide a stable home for their children. Children are our nation’s most precious resource. We also salute and support the efforts of foster and adoptive families.

Republicans have been at the forefront of protecting traditional marriage laws, both in the states and in Congress. A Republican Congress enacted the Defense of Marriage Act, affirming the right of states not to recognize same-sex “marriages” licensed in other states. Unbelievably, the Democratic Party has now pledged to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which would subject every state to the redefinition of marriage by a judge without ever allowing the people to vote on the matter. We also urge Congress to use its Article III, Section 2 power to prevent activist federal judges from imposing upon the rest of the nation the judicial activism in Massachusetts and California. We also encourage states to review their marriage and divorce laws in order to strengthen marriage.

So…she wasn’t very forthright on that question, was she.

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



That interview

May 8th, 2012 10:23 am | By

Reading Greta’s interview with Edwina Rogers

Greta says you’re pro-gay, pro-choice, and pro-separation of church and state, right? ER says yes and I always have been. GC says “Now the Republican party – ” and ER says she has “run across quite a few people who are atheists, agnostics, etc, who are pro-life, and they don’t see that necessarily as a religion, non-religion issue.”

GC: …you’re a Republican, and the Republican party has been very adamantly opposed to all these positions for very many years. So I have to ask you a question that very many people want to know the answer to. If you’re pro-gay, pro-choice, you know, pro-separation of church and state, why are you a Republican? And why have you worked to promote the Republican Party for so many years.

ER: Well, you know I’ve actually worked in the party, and around the party, and I don’t recall seeing a party line position that says that you have to be pro-life. For example, I remember working at the Republican senatorial committee, that would have been in 1994, and I plainly remember seeing data that showed that people who consider themselves Republican consider themselves, were 70% pro-choice. Yeah, so that, can’t be a party position.

Oh, oh, oh – stop right there.

Are you kidding?

The issue isn’t what Republicans at large think, it’s what Republican politicians do and what the party says.

It’s like the Catholic hierarchy on the one hand and Catholics in general on the other. Many many Catholics don’t agree with the hierarchy on many many issues. So the fuck what? That doesn’t make the hierarchy go away, or stop saying things like “condoms don’t work” and “a fertilized egg is a child with a soul.”

The hierarchy is what it is and not something else. The Republican party is what it is and not something else.

It’s true of course that one of two major parties is not going to represent every single thing that all its voters believe. It’s true that most people who vote for one of the two parties are going to disagree with the party’s position on a lot of things. That doesn’t make it reasonable to assume that someone who has worked for a particular party will disagree with many of its conspicuous positions. Rogers is speaking not as a Republican voter but as someone who worked for the Bush administration.

As someone who will now be speaking for a large secularist organization, she ought to be able to see that, and discuss it forthrightly.

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



So far so not good

May 7th, 2012 5:34 pm | By

I’m reading the comments on Greta’s interview with Edwina Rogers. They don’t bode well.

chriskg for instance -

Let’s be frank about this, either she never read the Republican platform on values (which means she is inept) or she knows the platform and she chooses to lie about it. When she said, “…I don’t agree that the Republican Party is pro-life…” she is lying. There is no better explanation for it. She is pandering to her new audience and she must think we are idiots.

Consider the following from the GOP.com website. It states rather clearly that abortion is “barbaric” and that they want laws to protect the unborn with no mention of the life that may be at risk—the mother. This sure sounds like a “pro-life” position to me. Is she this unaware? Is she this naive? Let me quote directly from the GOP:

And then chris quotes, at generous length, and by god there’s certainly no ambiguity about the Republican party’s view of abortion. That doesn’t seem like a good sign for Edwina Rogers.

We’ve been around this mulberry tree before, more than once, when wrangling with all the people who rush to give The Atheist Movement advice on how to be better at manipulating and managing and persuading. We have this thing about truth and honesty and accuracy and not bullshitting. How can “I don’t agree that the Republican Party is pro-life” be anything other than bullshitting? If the Republican party is not anti-abortion rights then I’m a devout daily-mass-attending Catholic.

There’s also our friend John Horstman having a very unpostmodern temper tantrum at Rogers. You go John!

I look forward to the transcript. (Listen? Nah. Too slow.)

 

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



Criticism of Islam ≠ racism

May 7th, 2012 4:52 pm | By

Maryam on sharia and “Islamophobia”:

When people tell me that they don’t know enough about Sharia law to oppose it – though we hear about its abominations day in and day out – I think what they really mean to say is that it is not their place to oppose it.

In its very essence the reason for this – for the conviction that it is not one’s place to act – is a false belief that to do so would be tantamount to racism. And I do think this is why we don’t see the outrage that barbarism of this kind deserves and demands.

Now, if you are fighting Islamism or Sharia law in Iran, Egypt or Afghanistan the debate is not framed around racism and Islamophobia. I remember being on a panel discussion in Sweden with a famous Syrian atheist, Sadiq al-Azm and when the Swedes called his criticism of Islam racist, he said I’ve been arrested, imprisoned and called many things but never this. This accusation of racism is specific to the debate in North America, or Europe or Australia.

If you criticise Islam or Islamism in Iran, you’re not labelled a racist, you are accused of enmity against god, corruption, blasphemy, heresy and apostasy. So the accusation of racism and Islamophobia is specific to the debate taking place in the west.

Just to give you an example, when the Saudi government arrests 23 year old Hamza Kashgari for tweeting about Mohammad, it doesn’t accuse him of racism; it accuses him of blasphemy – an accusation punishable by death. The same government though will accuse critics of Saudi policy abroad as Islamophobic.

What I’m trying to say is that Islamists and their apologists have coined the term Islamophobia, – a political term to scaremonger people into silence – by deeming it racist to criticise anything related to Islam.

And boy is it working.

 

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



Peculiar insularity

May 7th, 2012 11:56 am | By

What is the source of the peculiar insularity of literary “theorists”?

What do I mean by “peculiar insularity”? It’s that people in other fields know that the jargon of their fields is jargon. They know it has to be translated for people not in their fields, and that most people are not in their fields, and that it seldom makes sense to assume a random pool of strangers will be all or mostly people in their fields. What is it about literary “theorists” that causes them to fail to know that, or, worse, to fail to act on it despite knowing it?

As far as I’ve ever been able to figure out, it’s just a form of vanity, but why it’s so peculiar to that one segment of the university, I don’t have even a guess.

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



Life after fingers

May 7th, 2012 10:09 am | By

Hawa Akther Jui, the Bangladeshi woman whose husband (allegedly) chopped off her fingers with a meat cleaver because she was getting an education…is doing better than she was right after her fingers were chopped off.

Ms Akther, 21, had lost all hopes of writing again after her fingers were cut off, allegedly by her husband because she started attending a college without his permission.

Doctors at the Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP) in Dhaka carried out a series of surgical operations on Ms Akther’s hand, which involved setting up a splint between her thumb and wrist so that she can hold a pencil or a pen.

“The fact that I can write again has given me lots of hope and confidence. I have slowly started practising. I will continue my studies and achieve my aim of becoming a lawyer,” Ms Akther said while sitting in her parents’ one-bedroom house in the town of Narsingdi.

Which is nice, but it would be even nicer if she had been allowed to keep all her fingers despite her presumptuous act in attending a college.

The mutilation has definitely not dented her resolve to continue with her studies. She proves that by writing a few sentences using a pencil.

“All those horrible things happened to me because I wanted to study. So, I will pursue my education. Doctors say I cannot write [in] my exam for three hours at a stretch. So, I need a writer for the exam. But I will continue practising with my right hand,” she said.

Women’s rights activists in Bangladesh point out that the brutal attack on Ms Akther is part of a growing trend of violence against educated women.

In June last year, a university lecturer lost her eyesight in an attack allegedly carried out by her husband. She said it happened because he was jealous of her academic achievements.

He denied the allegations, but was unable to face trial because he died in prison before the case went to court.

The 2011 Human Rights Report by the Odhikar organisation points out that violence against women is on the rise in the country.

It said that more than 300 women may have been killed in dowry-related violence last year. In addition to this, dozens of women were also killed in rape and acid attacks.

“Domestic violence happens in all sections of the society and it is increasing. But very few women come forward to report these abuses because of the social stigma,” Odhikar spokeswoman Taskin Fahmina said.

A growing trend; on the rise. Why? Because of the growing trend of fiercer Islamism? Because fiercer Islamism is almost entirely about repressing and punishing women?

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



Seldom without her little white dogs

May 6th, 2012 5:53 pm | By

The Trinity Broadcasting Network is a non-profit? It’s tax-exempt?! Are they kidding?

Apparently not.

The prosperity gospel preached by Paul and Janice Crouch, who built a single station into the world’s largest Christian television network, has worked out well for them.

Very well: they have a few lavish houses spread around the landscape, and they took in $93 million in donations in 2010. Now their granddaughter is telling the Feds about their accounting habits.

In two pending lawsuits and in her first public interview, Ms. Koper described company-paid luxuries that she said appeared to violate the Internal Revenue Service’s ban on “excess compensation” by nonprofit organizations as well as possibly state and federal laws on false bookkeeping and self-dealing.

The lavish perquisites, corroborated by two other former TBN employees, include additional, often-vacant homes in Texas and on the former Conway Twitty estate in Tennessee, corporate jets valued at $8 million and $49 million each and thousand-dollar dinners with fine wines, paid with tax-exempt money.

Because Jesus saves.

“My job as finance director was to find ways to label extravagant personal spending as ministry expenses,” Ms. Koper said. This is one way, she said, the company avoids probing questions from the I.R.S. She said that the absence of outsiders on TBN’s governing board — currently consisting of Paul, Janice and Matthew Crouch — had led to a serious lack of accountability for spending.

Ms. Koper and the two other former TBN employees also said that dozens of staff members, including Ms. Koper, chauffeurs, sound engineers and others had been ordained as ministers by TBN. This allowed the network to avoid paying Social Security taxes on their salaries and made it easier to justify providing family members with rent-free houses, sometimes called “parsonages,” she said.

Hey – it’s free exercise! Protected by the US Constitution!

No it’s not. Why the hell have they been allowed to get away with this? Is everybody that afraid of the Angry Christian lobby?

In 2008 and 2009, as Mrs. Crouch began remodeling Holy Land Experience, she rented adjacent rooms in the deluxe Loews Portofino Bay Hotel in Orlando — one for herself and one for her two beloved Maltese dogs and clothes, according to Mr. Clements and Ms. Koper. Mrs. Crouch rented the rooms for close to two years, they said.

Ms. Crouch was seldom without her little white dogs, pushing them in a pink stroller and keeping a costly motor home, originally purchased to serve as an office, for two years as an air-conditioned sanctuary for her pets, the two former employees said.

I’m not saying another word.

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



Cargo

May 6th, 2012 5:18 pm | By

I think I’ve figured out one explanation of this “bodies” thing while puzzling over this bit of Pinn’s essay:

This old system worked based on the logic that black bodies were dangerous bodies and how they occupied space had to be watched closely. In a word, the system of slavery – the Atlantic slave trade – required a particular understanding of black bodies that continues to inform social interactions in the twenty-first century.

I was picking it apart and then suddenly I realized what he was getting at. There is one context in which this talk of bodies and how they occupy space really is exactly what is meant and exactly right.

 

Of course. Duh.

All right; that helps to make sense of the term. It would rather haunt the imagination.

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



The “bodies” trope

May 6th, 2012 4:38 pm | By

Where did this “bodies” thing start? Anyone know?

One, I don’t see what it adds, and worse, two, I think it obfuscates.

I’ll explain what I mean, using Anthony Pinn’s essay for examples.

A society in which Trayvon Martin could be perceived as out of place within his community takes its ideology and ethics from an old system of property, in which black bodies were to be monitored, rendered docile, and controlled.

Why is that an improvement on saying “an old system of property, in which black people were to be monitored, rendered docile, and controlled”?

It doesn’t seem to me to be an improvement at all. It doesn’t seem to add anything, because it’s not even true, except in the trivial sense in which you could also say “…black feet/teeth/elbows were to be monitored etc along with the rest of them.” It wasn’t just black bodies that were to be bullied and controlled, it was all of them.

There’s the old Stoic idea that the mind can remain free even while the body is imprisoned, but I don’t think that’s what Pinn is saying, or what other Theory types who use the word this way are saying. The idea is clearly to be anti-sentimental, and the “free mind in an enslaved body” trope is pretty sentimental, even if there is something to it. I really don’t think Pinn is saying that the system of slavery left the minds of slaves free.

But then why use the word that way? To remind everyone that the bodies were exploited? But surely that’s not a secret, and anyway it matters – it matters enormously – that it was the whole person who suffered, not just the body.

Why is this “bodies” trope not just dualism? Surely Theory types don’t want to come across as dualists, do they? So what’s their point?

This old system worked based on the logic that black bodies were dangerous bodies and how they occupied space had to be watched closely.  In a word, the system of slavery – the Atlantic slave trade – required a particular understanding of black bodies that continues to inform social interactions in the twenty-first century.

Same again. Why bodies? What does that add? It’s not even true, and it doesn’t add anything. It wasn’t black bodies that were seen as dangerous, it was black people, minds and all. The system of slavery required a particular understanding of black people, not just their bodies. The more I say it the more ridiculous it sounds, as if we were talking about department store dummies, or zombies.

I don’t get it. I do not get it. It looks more insulting than anything else (which is obviously not Pinn’s intention, or that of anyone who deploys this word this way). I need assistance. (It’s not as if you can Google it. Google “bodies”? Yeah right.)

 

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



No respectable atheist

May 6th, 2012 10:55 am | By

Via PZ – Representative Emanuel Cleaver (Democrat, Missouri) is an a-atheist.

Actually, I don’t believe that there is such thing as an atheist because no respectable atheist would walk around with something in his pocket that said ‘In God We Trust.’

Wot?

I have to walk around with those things in my pocket. I need them to pay the bus fare for instance.

I’ve never been given a choice about having that idiotic motto. It would be pointless to demand god-free money in your change or when you cash a check, because there isn’t any.

I don’t endorse the motto. I dislike it.

Anyway, if it worked that way, no bible-thumpers would ever use any post-biblical technology, because it’s all based on knowledge that the bible doesn’t mention or endorse.

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



Bodies

May 5th, 2012 12:23 pm | By

There’s a strange essay by Anthony Pinn at RDF which is not going down very well with the readers who have been commenting so far. It’s very long and very…how shall I say, very baroque in a Literary Theory kind of way. A lot of words to say something not very complicated.

I’ll give you a little sample; see what you think.

Many atheists and theists share a hyper optimism regarding human progress.  While each group points to the demise of the other as a key component in positive human development – both also presume proper posture toward the world, and use of a certain set of tools, to promote human advancement.  For the theists this is all guided by the good intentions and assistance of a benevolent deity, and for the atheist it is premised on the reliability of scientific inquiry and reason.

While something of a hopeful outlook is a useful approach to ethical conduct, it should be guided and monitored by a sense of realism – recognition of persistent human misconduct and the resulting moral and ethical challenges.  Theists can always haul such problems to the altar, pray about them, ritualize them, or chalk them up to mystery.  For the atheists, the resolution isn’t so easily achieved. The difficulty for atheists isn’t mystical. It stems from a lack of acute attention to the cultural worlds in which we live, worlds that are not so easily unpacked and addressed through appeal to science and logic.  Cultural signs and symbols, cultural framings of life and life meaning are not necessarily guided by scientific method and do not necessary respond to reason.  Instead they function by means of both logic and illogic. Mindful of this, a few questions should be asked:  what is a proper atheistic response to moral failure?  What is the proper ethical posture toward human problems that seem to defy reason and logic?  And, in light of recent developments, do atheists understand and care about black bodies?

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



When the environment makes gender salient

May 5th, 2012 10:39 am | By

Cordelia Fine, Delusions of Gender, p xxvi:

When the environment makes gender salient, there is a ripple effect on the mind. We start to think of ourselves in terms of our gender, and stereotypes and social expectations become more prominent in the mind. This can change self-perception, alter interests, debilitate or enhance ability, and trigger unintentional discrimination.

There is a large body of research that demonstrates this. It’s not some fuzzy thing that we just guess at.

This is why it’s so maddening that sexist sneering and “joking” and one-upping and epitheting is still, after all this time, considered normal and ok in a way that the racist or ethnic equivalent just is not.

Want to test that? Just imagine Tom Harris, Labour MP, tweeting “What a hero! Fearless protester chucks an egg at EdM and runs away. Like a Jew. Throws like a Jew too.”

SeewotImean? He’d never say that. It would be career suicide. But girl? Oh well that’s completely different.

No it isn’t. No it isn’t, you brainless heartless bastard. You just added another mite to the huge pile of stereotypical inferiority that girls are subjected to from birth. You just made gender salient, and you reminded the gender in question that it’s sneaky and cowardly and weak. And you wouldn’t do it to people of other races, or nationalities, or immigration status – but you’re happy to do it to girls.

What a hero.

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



There must be a benefit

May 4th, 2012 4:39 pm | By

A fellow at the American Academy of Pediatrics says FGM is an “honor” for women.

Below are words from scholars on the ruling on circumcision:

The Hanafis: Al-Zayla’i said: “The general ruling is that circumcision is sunnah, and is one of the trademarks of Islam. In fact, if the people of Egypt or some land decided to abandon its practice, the Imam would make war against them, for it cannot be abandoned except by necessity… Female circumcision is not sunnah, but it is an honor for men because it is more pleasing during sex”

Well that’s the important thing. It’s painful and dangerous for women? Pff – who cares – it is more pleasing for men during sex.

Perhaps the saying that it is (only) recommended is due to the pain women must go through to carry out the acts of al-fitrah, such as circumcision, as stated in the sound hadith. But as we mentioned, this is not evidence of it being confined only to men. The term circumcision was used for both men and women during Muhammad’s time. But it is clear that performing circumcision must be preferable to not performing it, especially when one considers that circumcision includes both pain and revealing one’s nakedness. Thus if there was no benefit to it, the Messenger of Allah would not have agreed to it.

That’s a fabulous argument! It hurts like fuck and it’s humiliating, therefore there must be a benefit to it! No need to figure out what that is, just reason in a tight little circle that Mo wouldn’t have said yes otherwise because Mo is Mo so it must be all right because Mo wouldn’t have said yes otherwise.

Grown up people, in an academy of pediatrics, talking a raft of nonsense about what some guy said 14 centuries ago, to justify chopping up little girls’ crotches. Gag me.

 

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



First humiliate them, then fire them

May 4th, 2012 4:17 pm | By

Here’s a thing.

Dear Friends,

Martha Reyes walked in the employee entrance of the Santa Clara Hyatt Regency to the sound of her male colleagues laughing.

She believed they were laughing at her.

It was “Housekeeping Appreciation Week” at the Hyatt and to celebrate, a digitally altered photo collage of Hyatt Housekeepers’ faces — including Martha’s and her sister Lorena’s — superimposed on bikini-clad cartoon-bodies was posted on a bulletin board at work.

She felt humiliated and embarrassed. But she knew her sister Lorena — also a housekeeper at Hyatt — would be even more so. Martha tore the posters of her and her sister down. Then, with management present, a coworker told Martha she needed to return the photos.

She refused and said if they wanted it back, they’d have to take her to court.

Hyatt management fired Martha and Lorena just a few weeks later.

Sign our petition to Hyatt CEO Mark Hoplamazian asking him to apologize to Martha and Lorena and reinstate them with full back-pay. The Reyes sisters and community allies will deliver it next week to Hyatt officials.

http://sumofus.org/campaigns/hyatt/?sub=taf

They were fired for allegedly taking too long on their lunch break. But we don’t buy that excuse for a second. Here’s why:

Martha and Lorena worked at that hotel as housekeepers for 7 and 24 years respectively. During that time, the Reyes sisters were good employees. On the day she was fired, the HR Director told Martha she was an “excellent worker” and that there hadn’t been any complaints about her. Before the day Lorena was fired, she had never in her 24 years been written up for a single break violation.

The firing of the Reyes sisters is a new low, even for Hyatt, which is looking to grow it’s hotel chain in major tourist markets like Australia and the United Kingdom.

What happened to the Reyes sisters is just another example of Hyatt’s culture of disrespect for its workers: Hyatt housekeepers have high rates of injury, and in 2011 various state and federal agencies issued 18 citations against Hyatt for alleged safety violations. Hyatt has even lobbied against new laws that would make housekeeping work safer, and has made it a pattern  of firing housekeepers only to hire subcontractors everywhere from Manilla to Boston.

Martha is the mother of five children and fears she may lose her house. Lorena is a mother of three and is struggling as the sole supporter of her family. As long-time employees of Hyatt, the Reyes sisters deserve some basic decency and the right to complain about their workplace without being fired.

As potential Hyatt customers, we have to draw the line. Sexually degrading housekeeping staff is unacceptable by any measure and the CEO of should take responsibility for Hyatt’s culture of disrespect for its workers now.

With May Day just passed — a day when people all over the world pause to acknowledge the work of people like Martha and Lorena — we at SumOfUs.org are humbled by workers like the Reyes sisters who dare to stand up for their rights. We are proud to stand with them, and join our partners at UNITE-HERE, in demanding justice for the two sisters.

http://sumofus.org/campaigns/hyatt/?sub=taf

Thank you!

I signed it. Thanks to the Orlando conference, I was able to check the box next to “I have stayed at Hyatt in the past year.”

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



Our understanding was so inadequate

May 4th, 2012 2:45 pm | By

Lots of people are calling for Sean Brady to resign. Lots of people are horrified at how clueless he still is, how indifferent the Vatican still is, how morally obtuse they all are.

Brady said something in his statement on Wednesday that needs close attention.

With many others who worked regularly with children in 1975, I regret that our understanding of the full impact of abuse on the lives of children as well as the pathology and on-going risk posed by a determined paedophile was so inadequate.

Their understanding was so inadequate in 1975.

Well if their understanding was inadequate then and is better now, that means their understanding has improved over time.

But the clergy are supposed to have a pipeline to god, aren’t they? Aren’t they?

Aren’t they supposed to know what’s what, and isn’t that’s why they consider themselves entitled to tell all the rest of us what’s what?

Their understanding isn’t supposed to be “inadequate,” now is it. They consider themselves moral arbiters, entitled to tell everyone what to do. Not guide, not suggest, but tell. They are priests. They are a special body, so special that filthy weak immoral women are officially barred from entry. They are authorities; they represent Authority.

So how can their understanding of something so basic (and so very important for them in particular, given their history) as what child rape does to children – how can it be inadequate? Why doesn’t god make it not inadequate? Why don’t they know? Why don’t they get it right just by virtue of being priests?

We’re always hearing about “church teachings.” “Church teachings” are why the church keeps demanding the right to ignore equality legislation and treat gays as contaminants. Surely this implies that “church teachings” are timeless and always right, while mere equality legislation is the product of foolish human whims and fashions that come and go. But if that’s how church teachings are, why was there no church teaching that timelessly informed all priests about the full impact of rape on the lives of children? Why has their understanding improved over time?

I want to know. I want to know why they’re so certain of their rightness about gays and the ordination of women and abortion when they were so wrong and brutal and self-interested about children being raped by their own colleagues. I want to know why they think they have so much as a toenail to stand on when it comes to morality. I want to know what the hell makes them think they know better than the rest of us about how to treat human beings.

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



Feminism the Kuwaiti way

May 4th, 2012 2:12 pm | By

They’re tidying things up in Kuwait. They’d gotten a bit slack, and that won’t do.

The Kuwaiti parliament yesterday passed a draft bill toughening the penalty against blasphemy to death, the state news agency reported. The parliament approved the draft by a majority of 40 lawmakers, with six opposing, according to the agency. Blasphemy was previously an offence punishable by jail in the Gulf country. Under the amended bill, any Muslim found guilty of insulting God, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) or his wives, will be punished by death, said the agency. For non-Muslims, the offence will be punished by a maximum 10-year prison sentence.

Not even his wives. That seems harsh. So you can’t even say “that guy threw an egg and ran away, like Mohammed’s second wife”? Jeez, Kuwait. We don’t want slackness, but you have to leave room for jokes.

 

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



I was laughing at the bloke when I called him a girl, don’t you get it?

May 4th, 2012 11:54 am | By

Ok it’s surely not permissible to blog about a Twitter storm – it’s too meta, or too navel-gazing, or too small – but once in awhile you just have to. (All the examples that are coming to mind have to do with misogyny, come to think of it. Jessica Ahlquist. Penn Jillette. #mencallmethings. And now Tom Harris MP.)

Once in awhile you just have to, so I am. People are telling him that tweet was sexist, and he’s digging in. He’s a clueless, nasty jerk. He should just take it back, but instead he’s saying it was a joke about the protester.

Fuuuuuuuuuuuck – dude, if you “insult” a man by saying “like a girl” and then #loser – it’s women that you’re insulting.

sunny hundal@sunny_hundal Pathetic sexism RT @tomharrismp: What a hero! Fearless protester chucks an egg at EdM and runs away. Like a girl. Throws like a girl too.

Iain Martin@iainmartin1 @sunny_hundal I think that @tomharrismp may have been making something called a ‘joke’, Sunny.

Claire Phipps@Claire_Phipps @iainmartin1@sunny_hundal because really @tomharrismp thinks girls are just great at throwing and not running away from things? #hmm

Iain Martin@iainmartin1 @Claire_Phipps@sunny_hundal Grimly inevitable, @TomHarrisMP will end up in stocks with MPs led by @stellacreasy pelting him with eggs.

nicky clark@mrsnickyclark @stellacreasy@leicesterliz@TomHarrisMP Why are Labour women making light of this? That I’m sure will be a comfort to your constituents?

RachelRoncone‏@Rachela53@mrsnickyclark@stellacreasy@leicesterliz@tomharrismp Because it was a JOKE! Or we not allowed to laugh at women nowadays?

Tom Harris@TomHarrisMP @Rachela53@mrsnickyclark@stellacreasy@leicesterliz I was laughing at the egg-wielding eejit, actually.

Oh good god…

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



Throws like a girl, too

May 4th, 2012 11:21 am | By

Same old same old same old same old. Woman says things that people disagree with; people call her a slut a whore a bitch a cunt.

Louise Mensch is currently making news because she’s been the target of misogyny. After she journeyed to every TV studio in London to voice her ill-advised support for Rupert Murdoch, some unpleasant individuals took to Twitter to brand her a slut, a whore, a bitch and other unedifying terms. In response, Mensch meticulously documented all those inveighing against her, and took to Twitter (where else?) to denounce them using the hashtag #feminism.

She’s a Tory. I’m not a Tory, just as I’m not a Republican. I somehow manage to get along however without calling Michelle Bachmann a slut or a whore or a bitch or a cunt.

Mensch is being accused of using the misogyny she’s encountered to claim some sort of victim status. Well I’m sorry, but I just don’t think that’s true. Whenever I have suffered misogyny as a result of an argument I have made, I’ve never thought, ‘oh good, here’s something I can use.’ I feel depressed, because yet again I’m not being listened to. Yet again I’m being judged simply for having an opinion – for not being the pure, submissive, obedient ideal I’m supposed to be. The idiots who call opinionated women whores and sluts aren’t giving those women ammunition to deflect valid criticism; they’re oppressing them using the same rotten tropes women are exposed to from the moment the doctor says ‘it’s a girl.’

Anyone who casts doubt on Mensch’s insistence that she is sharing her experience because she refuses to feel ashamed simply doesn’t understand that shame is integral to misogyny. We women are often cast as the raw materials of body hair, madness, and sexual urges, which we must then wax, tame and abstain into social acceptance. Whenever we stray away from the ideal society has constructed for us, we’re judged as lapsing back into an unrefined natural state, like Lady Macbeth, Moll Flanders or the madwoman in the attic. When I’ve been called shrill or a slut, I often don’t tell people because I’m afraid that even the mere association with those terms might encourage others to think that maybe I am those things. And that will make me dirty and repellent.

Plus stupid and a coward and a loser. I just went to Twitter to re-find the Mensch tweets, and before I could look I found a tweet from a Labour MP.

Tom Harris@TomHarrisMP

What a hero! Fearless protester chucks an egg at EdM and runs away. Like a girl. Throws like a girl too. #loser

I’m tempted to move to Glasgow so that I can ostentatiously not vote for Tom Harris MP for Glasgow South.

Now for some Mensch tweets.

find yourself calling louise mensch every name under the sun during select comm press conference,cold faced cold hearted bitch

Rupert Hitler bent on world  corp fascist domination is a fukn saint  Loise mensch is a typical soulless rich whore.

Louise Mensch really is an absolutely Rancid cunt isn’t she?

We asked some crusties if they’d have sex with Louise Mensch

Asking the members of Occupy London, “Would You Have Sex With Louise Mensch?”

Trenchant political analysis, innit.

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



Only one way to be

May 3rd, 2012 5:56 pm | By

There’s another horrible thing about “Pastor Sean” and his terrible raging sermon. It’s obvious enough but I want to spell it out.

It’s that he’s telling parents to hate what their children are. He’s not telling them to discipline a certain kind of bad behavior, he’s telling them to bully their children if the children are becoming a certain kind of person.

There are some kinds of broad category one would want to try to discourage children from being – mean, or domineering, or self-centered. But other than that, it’s a nasty business rejecting what a child is. Surely a good parent doesn’t do that. Surely a good parent welcomes whatever kind of person emerges as a child grows up.

Oh well, I suppose it’s otiose to belabor the point. Obviously the man has a painfully narrow impoverished idea of human possibilities and a panicky need to impose conformity everywhere. Obviously he wants girls to look like Barbie dolls and boys to look like extras in a Discover channel show about guns or motorcycles or gold mining or lumberjacking or crab fishing or dirty jobs. But still. It’s depressing that he really does want to squash all the ones who don’t fit.

 

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