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.

So much power and organisation behind the scenes

Nov 11th, 2012 5:00 pm | By

Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox explains what the abuse was really like.

A sample from the transcript:

TONY JONES: As we’ve heard, the scale of this abuse in Newcastle-Maitland Diocese over many years is truly shocking. It’s astonishing in fact. 400 victims, 14 clergy charged (inaudible), six Catholic teachers convicted, three priests currently on trial. How does this much evil get concentrated in one small area?

PETER FOX: I don’t think it takes a detective chief inspector to work that out, Tony. Alarm bells were ringing there for me many, many years ago, so much so that I actually detailed a number of reports to hierarchy within the Police Department to launch fuller investigations.

It was quite evident that something was going on. These priests were operating in adjoining parishes abusing children, they were meeting at meetings together. In many cases that I came across, one priest who had previously faced paedophile charges was donating parish money to the legal support of another priest to defend him against those charges.

I had other priests that hadn’t been charged with anything removing evidence and destroying it before we were able to secure it. And we just went around in circles.

TONY JONES: This is actually – this is – as horrific as the litany of sexual crimes against children are, to me one of the most disturbing lines in your letter was along these lines: “I can testify from my own experience the Church covers up, silences victims, hinders police investigations, alerts offenders, destroys evidence and moves priests to protect the good name of the Church.” You’re saying you have evidence of all of this?

PETER FOX: Oh, not only do I have evidence, it’s irrefutable. Most of that is fact that’s been admitted by many of them. We encounter it all the time. For people to sit back and say it’s not going on, they’ve got their head in the sand. The greatest frustration is that there is so much power and organisation behind the scenes that police don’t have the powers to be able to go in and seize documents and have them disclose things to us.

The Mafia, dressed up as something else.

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

Inspecting the bridge

Nov 11th, 2012 4:00 pm | By

Zach Alexander has a very thoughtful review, or review-essay, on Chris Stedman’s book. He admires much of it, but also dissents strongly from part of the argument.

The most obvious problem is that even as Chris extolls the virtues of religious pluralism, he delivers an anti-pluralist message to his fellow atheists. Not content to merely do his own work, inviting like-minded people to join him, he expects the entire herd of cats to conform to his particular temperament and interests. Rather than increasing the breadth of the movement with his unique voice, he wishes to narrow it.

Second, even as he preaches respect, he casts aspersions on the so-called New Atheism, calling it “toxic, misdirected, and wasteful” (14). This is a curious way to call for more civility. And it betrays what, on closer inspection, seems to be a rather shallow appreciation for some of the dangers of religion – dangers that arguably justify much of the sharper New Atheist rhetoric.

In short, the central irony of the book is that the person who hopes to inspire atheists towards greater respect of religious diversity is disrespectful of the diversity in his own community.

This is what several of us (us meanies) have been saying all along: his outreach is all in one direction. James Croft defended that the other day by saying he thinks it’s because Stedman thinks of atheists as we and he’s making the conscientious effort to be hard on his own group, as opposed to cutting it slack because it is his own group.

 There is a world of difference between principled criticism of individuals who share an identity characteristic with you and the attempt to participate in the continued marginalization of that identity group. Atheists with a public personae criticize each other all the time over a multitude of issues, often disagreeing strongly on points of principle – and that is as it should be. Not all such criticism is traitorous and self-defeating: some of it stems from genuine ethical considerations which deserve to be heard.

I see Stedman offering such a critique. He believes, rightly or wrongly, that some of the ways some atheists pursue their criticism of religion is unethical, contributing to the dehumanization of individuals and perpetuating stereotypes of already-marginalized groups. Just as I, as a gay man, try to speak out against misogyny in the gay community, Stedman, an atheist, wants to speak out against Islamophobia in the atheist community (for instance). Suggesting other gay men refrain from sexist or racist language does not, I hope, make me an “Uncle Tom” (or an “Uncle Mary”). I hope it makes me a principled human being – even though it would restrict the freedom to act of members of a community of which I am a member.

Reminding your own side of their ethical responsibilities toward other human beings – even if applying your understanding of those responsibilities would limit their freedom of action – is not the action of a traitor but of a principled person making a stand for what they think is right both for the group of which they are a member and for others.

Yes but. It’s a matter of emphasis and proportion and repetition and venue and so on. Yes it’s great if gay men speak out against misogyny in the gay community, but if that’s all they ever say about that community, and they say it in big mainstream outlets where they know people who hate gay men will use it for their own purposes, it’s not so great after all.

Alexander thinks there is a key to understanding the mutual misunderstanding here.

…something dawned on me while reading the book last weekend. It’s a fundamental difference between Chris and the mainstream of the community that I don’t think anyone has fully grasped – perhaps not even Chris himself.

Before he gets to that he tells a couple of stories about dialogue despite disagreement, then comes back to the idea that people should do what suits them best, Chris what suits him and PZ what suits him.

But strangely, Chris is unwilling to be so generous. And I think I’ve figured out why.

The source of the alienness felt between Chris and much of the atheist community, myself included, is this: he values compassion and social justice to a remarkable, exemplary degree, yet places almost no value on the epistemological virtues near and dear to most in the atheist movement, such as rationality, skepticism, and the scientific method.

Ah that. Yes. I do think some of us have fully grasped it though. I’m pretty sure I’ve been talking about it all along. Many of us talked about it for instance in “Good old interfaith atheism” in April 2011.

Alexander goes on.

In passage after passage, he rightly preaches compassion and decries injustice, but is conspicuously silent on reason. He owns up to religious “atrocities” and “conflicts” – but not the absurdities that facilitate both (8). He desires a world in which “suffering and oppression” have been eliminated – but not ignorance or superstition (11). He faults some religious beliefs for being “dehumanizing” or “intolerant” – but not for being false (84, 154). He seeks to make society “more cooperative and less conflict-oriented” – but not more evidence-based (115). His mission is to “advance equality and justice” – but not rationality or free inquiry (158).

Exactly. It’s possible that I have a little more sympathy for that approach now, in the time of the Deep Rifts…but only a little. I still don’t like to see the “yes but is there any reason to think it’s true?” aspect left out altogether.

In sum, Chris does not merely have a different take on religion – much more deeply, he seems to only superficially share the epistemic values that are important to most people in the atheist and humanist [3] movements, and central for many of them. In this he is like a restaurant critic who is mostly indifferent to the quality of food. He may indeed have a column, and indeed go to restaurants, and indeed write reviews about their ambiance and service, which are indeed important. But few of his peers would fully resonate with his opinions. And if he began a quixotic campaign to moderate their negative reviews – because no chef should be belittled merely for their food – they could be forgiven for responding with bemusement, annoyance, and even scorn. Because really, what right does a culinary know-nothing have to lecture others on how to talk about food?

[3] You weren’t expecting that? The Humanist Manifesto III is very clearly about both rationality and compassion-oriented values, not just the latter.

That’s an amusing way of putting it. It is a serious point though, and it is the major point of contention between the Stedmanites and the Badnewatheists. (Whatever happened to badnewatheists, anyway? That used to be a Twitter and Facebook thing. Oh yes, I remember – it was replaced by FTBullies. That was replaced by Atheismplus. I wonder what # 4 will be.) Zachary Alexander’s essay might help to shed new light on that particular rift.


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

Post-election discourse

Nov 11th, 2012 12:22 pm | By

So after Obama was re-elected the other day, naturally lots of people took to Twitter to call him a nigger. I mean what else do you do when you’re pissed off? Nothing, right? Because there is nothing else. There’s only whatever epithet fits the crime.

Ricky Catanzaro plays football for Xaverian High School, a private Catholic prep school in Brooklyn, NY. Students who play sports there must sign an athlete’s contract that stipulates a promise “to be a worthy representative of my teammates and coaches, abiding by school and community expectations.”

The day after the election he tweeted, “No nigger should lead this country!!! #Romney” His Twitter timeline (since removed) revealed that “nigger” is a word he regularly uses in his day-to-day vocabulary. After other people tweeted their disgust at his comment about the president, Catanzaro responded to his black critics by referring to them as “slaves” and “cotton-pickers”…

Well that’s what language is for. That’s what free speech is for. It’s for calling people niggers and faggots and cunts when you hate them. Otherwise we live in a dictatorship.





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

Stories and folk psychology

Nov 11th, 2012 11:20 am | By

Stories. I was thinking about stories, earlier. Stories, narrative, interpretation, explanation; and science, evidence, testing. I forget what started the train of thought, but it was about the way stories give us explanations of why people do things that are peculiarly satisfying, and that science can be irritating when it tells us a story is wrong.

The thing about stories is that they give us permission to make unquestionable claims about what people think, and what their motivations are. We can’t do that in real life, you know. If we’re sharing a bit of gossip about Eleanora or Archibald, we don’t tell it the way a storyteller does. We narrate facts or reports, what we’ve seen or what others say they’ve seen; we don’t announce what the protagonists thought. That’s because we don’t know. Stories have opposite rules – in telling stories it’s just normal to say what everyone thinks. Homer did it all the time.

That’s interesting, isn’t it. In real life we don’t know what other people think, we just infer it from how they behave, and often we’re aware that we don’t have a clue. In reading or hearing stories, we enter an alternate world where we can be told what everyone thinks.

Why is that so peculiarly satisfying? Probably partly because we can’t do it in real life; we can’t have that comfortable sense that we understand exactly why everybody does everything. Probably also partly because it’s explanatory. There just is something satisfying about a good explanation – “good” in the sense of being a good fit and making sense of something that was a puzzle or a jumble.

I suppose I’m talking about folk psychology. I’m thinking that stories probably have a lot to do with where we get our folk psychology. I’m also wondering if they trick us into thinking we understand other minds better than we really do.

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


Nov 11th, 2012 10:37 am | By

Deborah Hyde is at Skepticon.

On Sunday morning, I will be talking to a crowd of American atheists about belief in werewolves in post-Reformation Europe. My subject is usually consumed enthusiastically by atheists, because they find vampires and witches no sillier than angels and, in any case, studying these things leads to insights into what makes us human.

As a story, the idea of the werewolf is really very good. So are the ideas of vampires and witches. The trouble is just that stories bleed into what we take to be real, and in the case of things like witches that can have terrible results.

If the tweets are any guide, James Croft killed it at Skepticon earlier this morning, doing funny accents and acting out a comic and then inspiring everyone.


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

Leadership roles

Nov 10th, 2012 3:30 pm | By

It makes my head hurt. Bringing more women into leadership roles so that they can force women into more submissive roles. No not Sarah Palin, no not Michelle Bachmann – the women in the Muslim Brotherhood.

The rise of the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Egypt has brought with it a new  group of female politicians who say they are determined to bring more women into  leadership roles — and at the same time want to consecrate a deeply conservative Islamic vision for women in Egypt.

But if they are determined to bring more women into  leadership roles then why do they want to consecrate a deeply conservative  Islamic vision for women?

Really, people, those two things do not go together. It’s like trying to eat and vomit at the same time.

Islamists who make up the majority on the constitution-writing assembly are  racing to try to finish the document in the coming weeks to put it to a  referendum. One of the biggest fights is over an Islamist-backed clause that  would call for equality between men and women but only if it does not contradict  Islamic law, or Shariah…

Omaima Kamel, perhaps the most powerful of the Brotherhood women, defended  the clause. Kamel is a member of Morsi’s advisory team and sits on the  constitutional panel.

In a recent interview on state TV, she said that without the phrasing,  certain rights that Shariah gives to men and not to women could be overturned — such as men’s right to marry up to four women or inheritance laws that give a  greater to share to men than women. Such polygamy and inheritance laws existed  during the Mubarak era and in most Muslim countries.

Kamel, a 51-year-old doctor, dismissed fears that hardliners would use the  clause to pass harsh restrictions on women, saying only rulings of Shariah that  are “firmly established, with no controversy around them,” like polygamy and  inheritance, could be applied.

Oh great – only stuff like polygamy and unequal inheritance, which are totes uncontroversial.

Kamel goes on to say that issues of FGM “do not bother anyone, we have bigger issues” – which is grotesque, given what FGM is and what the experience of it is like.

It’s terrible. Of course the MB wants women like that in “leadership roles” – as figureheads to persuade everyone that women are just delighted with theocratic rules that make them inferiors.

Happy Malala Day.


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

The extremist mindset

Nov 10th, 2012 2:59 pm | By

It’s Malala day today. It’s global.

People around the world are expected to hold vigils and demonstrations honoring Malala and calling for the 32 million girls worldwide who are denied education to be allowed to go to school.

Pakistani prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf saluted Malala’s courage and urged his countrymen to stand against the extremist mindset that led to her attack.

That’s sweet. But…when I say “global” I mean partly global. I don’t mean Malala’s own hometown, for instance. It’s not Malala day in Mingora, not openly.

But in Mingora, the threat of further Taliban reprisals casts a fearful shadow, and students at Malala’s Khushal Public School were forced to honor her in private.

“We held a special prayer for Malala today in our school assembly and also lit candles,” school principal Mariam Khalid said.

“We did not organize any open event because our school and its students still face a security threat.”

Though their bid to kill Malala failed, the Taliban have said they will attack any woman who stands against them and fears are so great that Khalid said even speaking to the media could put students’ lives in danger.

Because that’s how it is. We can all have decent lives in which we can pursue our dreams only on the sufferance of violent thugs. If there are enough violent thugs determined not to let us and not enough law and civil society and policing to stop them, then we can’t.

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

People change their minds

Nov 10th, 2012 12:19 pm | By

A bit of wisdom from Dan Fincke on Facebook.

Stop saying it’s pointless to debate. People change their minds. They just change them slowly, over time, and often imperceptibly.

It’s true you know. People do change their minds. They do; we do; you do; I do.

We all know this when we think about it, right? We can easily think of things we’ve changed our minds about. We do it multiple times every day. If we learn something new and it sticks, we’ve changed our mind. Debates can include information as well as argument, so it would be very odd if all debates were pointless. Even stubborn people with bad Dunning-Kruger effect can learn something sometimes.

That’s another reason for not letting stalkers and harassers and name-callers take over your blog, by the way. It’s easier to be optimistic about debate when it’s a good debate than when it’s a festival of shit-flinging.

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


Nov 9th, 2012 4:43 pm | By

If your website’s full of assholes, it’s your fault, says Anil Dash.

…as I reflected back on the wonderful, meaningful conversations I’ve had in the last dozen years of this blog, I realized that one of the reasons people don’t understand how I’ve had such a wonderful response from all of you over the years is because they simply don’t believe great conversations can happen on the web. Fortunately, I have seen so much proof to the contrary.

Why are they so cynical about conversation on the web? Because a company like Google thinks it’s okay to sell video ads on YouTube above conversations that are filled with vile, anonymous comments. Because almost every great newspaper in America believes that it’s more important to get a few more page views on their website than to encourage meaningful discourse about current events within their community, even if many of those page views will be off-putting to the good people who are offended by the content of the comments. And because lots of publishers think that any conversation is good if it boosts traffic stats.

Well, the odds are I’ve been doing this blogging thing longer than you, so let me tell you what I’ve learned: When you engage with a community online in a constructive way, it can be one of the most meaningful experiences of your life. It doesn’t have to be polite, or neat and tidy, or full of everyone agreeing with each other. It just has to not be hateful and destructive.

Makes sense to me.

H/t Chris Lawson

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


Nov 9th, 2012 12:07 pm | By

Deeyah has a powerful, moving article about honour culture and making a documentary film about the murder of Banaz Mahmod.

I grew up in a community where Honour is a social currency that defines our lives from the moment we are born.

Having honour is often the most sought after, protected and prized asset that speaks to the status and reputation of a family within their community. The burden of honour is most often placed on the behaviour of women. This collective sense of honour and shame has for centuries confined the movement, freedom of choice and restricted the uninhibited expression of ourselves.

You can not be who you are, you can not express your needs, hopes and opinions as an individual if they are in conflict with the greater good and reputation of the family, the community, the collective.  If you grow up in a community defined by these patriarchal concepts of honour and social structures these are the parameters you are expected to live by. This is true for my own life and experiences as well.

Any strong expression of yourself, of autonomy, is not acceptable and can be punished by a variety of consequences from abuse, threats, intimidation, excommunication by the group, violence and the most extreme manifestation: taking someone’s life; murdering someone in the name of honour because their expression of the individual self was not in accordance with the group expectations.

There are people, even people who consider themselves progressive, who think that’s a good thing. I think they don’t properly consider what it means.

One particular thing Deeyah says is so sad.

What has upset me greatly from the very beginning of this project is how absent Banaz was from her own story.  What I mean by that is whenever you see a film or a piece on tv about someone who has passed you will always have family members, friends, people who knew the person sharing their love, their memories and thoughts about the person who has died, they often show family home videos, photos and other momentoes.  In this film that was just not the case at all.

Absent from her own story. It’s terrible.

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

Name that fruit

Nov 8th, 2012 5:20 pm | By

The Reading University Atheist, Humanist and Secularist Society yesterday received an “official warning” from the Student Union, which will be on record until the end of spring term provided they “watch their behavior” – which presumably means they name no more fruits “Mohammed,” neither pears nor grapes nor papayas.

Oh yeah?



Ayatollah Khomeini

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

Whatever objects they could find

Nov 8th, 2012 1:06 pm | By

Women are such bitches. When they are firefighters, what they do is, they work along with their colleagues to put out fires. How bitchy is that!

Firefighters on Wednesday, responded to burning garbage receptacles in Meah Shearim. When some of the locals realized one of the firefighters was a woman, they began pelting her with whatever objects they could find. She was injured in her back lightly after being struck with a bottle.

Serves her right. Bitch.

The very first comment there sees this clearly.

There is no shortage of men capable of firefighting. Women are unnecesary and it is untznius for them to do it.

Exactly! Nobody needs women to put out no stinkin fires, and they need to stay indoors so that real people can get on with things.



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

The church covers up

Nov 8th, 2012 12:53 pm | By

In Australia a Detective Chief Inspector in NSW has written a letter to the Premier. He’s been a cop for 35 years.

Having spent most of those years at the coal face I have seen the worst society can dredge up, particularly the evil of paedophilia within the Catholic Church.

That’s noteworthy, isn’t it – the worst he’s seen is within an institution that is supposed to stand for the ultimate in Goodness.

Often the church knows but does nothing other than protect the paedophile and its own reputation. It certainly doesn’t report abuse as revealed by the current Victorian inquiry.

I can testify from my own experience that the church covers up, silences victims, hinders police investigations, alerts offenders, destroys evidence and moves priests to protect the good name of the church. None of that stops at the Victorian border.

Read that carefully. Pretend you’ve never heard about this before. The church silences victims, hinders police investigations, alerts offenders, destroys evidence.

Maybe after a few more decades and a few thousand more letters like that, something will be done.

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

If he only smiles

Nov 8th, 2012 11:20 am | By

A guest post at Skepchick by Laura Stone, a blogger at Hey, Don’t Judge Me, about her son and high school bullying. He’s attempted suicide three times because of it.

I’ve heard that I’m a terrible mother for leaving my child in a situation where he’s being brutalized. That he needs to pull himself up by his bootstraps and beat the hell out of his attackers. That he needs more Jesus in his life. That if he only smiles back at the bullies, why, their hearts will grow three sizes that day and they’ll all be BFFs.

Because a soft answer turneth away wrath…

Except of course when it doesn’t. Except when the bullies are bullying because it is fun for them and they are not about to stop it. Real, dedicated bullies get real pleasure out of their chosen hobby. It’s a mistake to overlook that.

…my son is an atheist (see: logic) and happens to be gay. Getting good with Jesus, prayer circles, etc., none of that works since he’s seen as The Enemy. He is gay, you can’t pray that away (not to mention that he doesn’t believe in prayer anyway), so he fails on both counts for the “compassionate” Christians, reinforcing his Enemy status. His attackers are all active, vocal Christians–-mostly the Southern Evangelical sort–-so that goes back to that logic loop of his.

Pick any one of those three traits, and in his attackers’ minds it’s the reason for his “undesirable” qualities. He’s gay because he’s an atheist. He’s an atheist because he’s gay. He’s a gay atheist because he’s “retarded.” These are all things that have actually been said to him.

That’s profoundly interesting to me. I see religion as a kind of bullying, but normally a covert, disguised, dressed up kind. It’s fascinating that high school theists, with their undeveloped frontal cortices, make it completely literal and undisguised.

What does affect your children is your hate. Your intolerance. Your snide comments at the dinner table about how “that one isn’t giving his parents grandchildren.” Your limp-wristed, high-voiced impression of the teenage boy that loves fashion, not footballs. The dirty face you make at the young woman that prefers overalls and short hair to tight dresses and ornate accessories. Every time you use the phrase “short bus.” Each instance of you grabbing your bag tighter as a black man walks towards you on the street or a person of Middle Eastern descent gets in line at the airport.

My son is autistic, atheist, and gay, and your assumption that he is one or all of those things because he’s “retarded” or “doesn’t have Jesus” is a continuing lesson in hatred that you’re teaching your children. And you have got to stop using the R-word word as an insult. Wow, does it make you look stupid and mean. My son isn’t looking for “special” treatment or “special” attention. He gets it because it’s the result of nice little Christian boys that jam his head in the toilet at school to “clean him” of his sins, and that’s just the stuff they do that I can print here. Trust me when I say he would really prefer to not get that kind of “special” attention ever again in his life.

You may be wondering where this high school is. It’s in Texas.


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


Nov 7th, 2012 5:04 pm | By

If girls of 16 are being raped, then the thing to do is, lower the age of marriage so that they can be raped by their husbands instead of by anybody who happens along.

For a full ten days after she was abducted and raped by a group of
 men, the teenager told no-one, terrified by the men’s threats 
and their claim that they would distribute photographs they had
 taken during the attack.

When she did eventually tell her mother,
 things got even worse; her father, a gardener, unable to bear the
 trauma of what had happened to his daughter and the indignity of such
 photographs being passed around, swallowed pesticide.

In the following days, police arrested and charged seven men, all 
members of a higher caste. But the response to what took place by 
certain elements of society – a suggestion that the age of marriage
 should be be lowered to reduce rapes, and that such attacks were 
triggered by eating ‘Western’ fast-food – sparked both a wave of
 anger and a debate about India’s attitudes towards women that has
 gripped the country

Oh well, it’s not so bad. Marry young and don’t eat fast food – surely a girl shouldn’t aspire to anything more than that.


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

Destiny’s child

Nov 7th, 2012 11:14 am | By

The parents who murdered their 15-year-old daughter Anusha by dousing her with acid explain their side of the story.

In the latest twist to a saga that has created outrage across South Asia, where acid attacks are common, the parents of the 15-year-old girl gave an interview in which they justified their actions. They said their elder daughter had previously brought “dishonour” to their family and that they would not tolerate it again.

Ah well that changes everything.

Speaking from his cell to the BBC, Mr Zafar said: “There was a boy who came by on a motorcycle. She turned to look at him twice. I told her before not to do that – it’s wrong. People talk about us because our older daughter was the same way.”

She turned to look at a boy? She turned to look at a boy, and for that her parents threw acid on her?

The mind tries to grasp it, and fails.

Anusha’s mother said her daughter had pleaded with her and said her glance at the passing boy had been nothing more than an accident. “She said, ‘I didn’t do it on purpose, I won’t do it again’,” said the mother. “By then I had thrown the acid. It was her destiny to die this way.”

Oh is that right. Too bad it wasn’t her destiny to be born to parents who would actually love her and protect her like normal human beings. You horrible fucks.


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

52 to 48

Nov 7th, 2012 10:26 am | By

It’s close, still too close to call for sure definite, but it’s going the right way so…I’m optimistic. Referendum 74 legalizing same-sex marriage in Washington state is currently at 52-48 in favor.

Election parties in Seattle spilled out into the streets in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, where police closed off several blocks for an outdoor election celebration of President Barack Obama’s re-election, and where more than 1,000 people were dancing and chanting “74, 74, 74.”

The measure was losing in 31 of the state’s 39 counties. But it had its strongest lead – 65 percent of the vote – in King County, the state’s largest county and home to Seattle.

State Sen. Ed Murray, a Democratic gay lawmaker from Seattle who sponsored the marriage law that passed the Legislature, said he felt confident that Washington state’s numbers would hold.

“We’re almost there, and we should celebrate,” he said.

Also Maine, Maryland, Minnesota partial.
Meanwhile, Maine’s measure passed Tuesday night with 54 percent of the vote. The measure that passed in Maryland matched Washington state’s lead of 52-48 percent. In Minnesota, voters rejected a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in their state. Gay marriage remains illegal under Minnesota state law.
And we’re the first state to legalize recreational marijuana use! I’m so proud.

Legalization could help bring in hundreds of millions of dollars a year in pot taxes, reduce small-time pot-related arrests and give supporters a chance to show whether decriminalization is a viable strategy in the war on drugs.

The sales won’t start until state officials make rules to govern the legal weed industry.

The legal weed industry – that makes me laugh.

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

CSICON frolics

Nov 7th, 2012 10:02 am | By

Pictures are still coming in from CSICON in Nashville a couple of weeks ago. Skeptical Inquirer just posted an album of over 200 pics on Facebook, all taken by Brian Engler. You can tell everybody was having way too much fun.

The pics from the costume competition are very droll. This is one of my favorites -


Stef McGraw as the binder full of women.

Bye bye Mittens! Go away and never say another word.

Photo by Brian Engler.

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


Nov 6th, 2012 7:00 pm | By

Elizabeth Warren. Yesssssssssssssssssss!

Wut? PBS is saying all the polls are closed except Alaska and a few Rocky Mountain states. The west coast states aren’t still open? Well Washington has mail-only voting now, so the polls were never open. I hope California polls don’t close at 7.

Joe Donnelly in Indiana, not the “rape=pregnancy is God’s will” guy, Mourdock. It’s annoying that we have to pronounce Mourdock as if it were Murdoch. It’s not Murdoch.

No, California closes at 8. What are they talking about?

Rahm Emanuel is smiling.

Last time the news people knew the result well before 8 PT. I wonder if they know now.

It pays to check Paul Fidalgo.

RT @mdedora: Florida’s Amendment 8, Which Would Allow Taxpayer Money to Go to Churches, Is Defeated

Amendment 8 defeated in Florida. Not even close.

Claire McCaskill beats Todd Akin. TODD AKIN.

The pro-rape candidates are not doing well this year.

Hurry up, Ohio.

Ohio, Ohio, Ohio.

Axelrod says it’s all going according to plan.

Paul Fidalgo is in Twitter jail for tweeting so lot. He’s @PaulinJail for now.

They make it look suspensey, but they don’t mention California.

“If the president wins Florida it is over.”

The Romney camp is glum, PBS says.

I look forward to opening a window and hearing Queen Anne yelling and cheering. That’s my neighborhood, by the way, not a neighbor.

Seven minutes to west coast poll closing, when they’ll announce.

Ok maybe they don’t know yet.

RT @billmaher: Mitt to his underwear: “Magic my ass!!”

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

With a piece of wood

Nov 6th, 2012 5:03 pm | By

The BBC reports a horrible case of child abuse ending with a seven-year-old boy beaten to death with a piece of wood.

His mother, Sara Ege, 33, denies beating Yaseen Ali Ege to death at their home in Pontcanna, Cardiff, in July 2010 and setting fire to his body…The jury was shown a piece of wood which the prosecution claims was used by Mrs Ege to hit her son “like a dog”.

Mrs Ege covered her ears as jurors heard the 999 call she made saying that there was a fire in the home and that her son was still upstairs…It was first thought that the boy had died in the fire and that his death was a tragic accident, the jury heard.

But a post mortem examination revealed he had died several hours before the blaze, of multiple injuries caused by being hit by a blunt instrument.

Sare Ege admitted she been hitting Yassen with a stick, in her own words, “like a dog,” for three months before the fire, the court heard…Mrs Ege admitted pouring lighter fuel over her son’s body, the jury was told, saying “I know he was gone but I was just trying to protect myself”.

Oh, well then.

How horrendous. Three months of being beaten with a stick…and in the end being killed that way. By his own mother.

But the BBC report never says why. Did he disobey? Wet the bed? Talk back?

To find out why, you have to read the Telegraph.

In a video recording of her interview with police, Mrs Ege told them: “I was trying to teach him the Koran.

“I was getting more and more frustrated. If he didn’t read it properly I would be very angry — I would hit him.

“We had a high target. I wanted him to learn 35 pages in three months.

“I promised him a new bike if he could do it. But Yaseen wasn’t very good — after a year of practice he had only learnt a chapter.”

The court heard Mrs Ege, 32, a university graduate, and her husband, Yousuf, had enrolled Yaseen in advanced classes at their local mosque.

They wanted him to become a hafiz — an Islamic term for someone who memorises the Koran.

I think it’s appalling that the BBC kept that a secret. It must have been trying to be “sensitive” toward its Muslim readers, but think about it – what about the children of its Muslim readers? Why not be sensitive toward them too? Why not tell the truth of this hideous event by way of warning other parents?





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