Notes and Comment Blog

Oh sorry, that was about cartoons

May 4th, 2014 11:51 am | By

Maajid Nawaz is furious at the Guardian for the way it worded its reporting on the kidnapped and enslaved Nigerian schoolgirls.

maajidMaajid Nawaz @MaajidNawaz May 1

Typical. @Guardian uses “mass marriage” instead of “rape” describing jihadist enslavement of 230 Nigerian schoolgirls.

The 230 schoolgirls kidnapped in Nigeria by jihadist terrorists Boko Haram, forcibly turned into ‘brides’ ie: raped


Furious. @guardian cannot even call it enslavement & rape but calls it “mass marriage”? Has our cultural relativity gone that far?

He’s also furious about comparative outrage.

maajid3Maajid Nawaz @MaajidNawaz May 3

Kidnapping,enslavement&mass rape of 230 Nigerian schoolgirls by jihadist Boko Haram led to worldwide riots..oh sorry,that was about cartoons

Zing. Yeah.

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

Labels at a distance

May 4th, 2014 11:00 am | By

Proshant at Nirmukta talks about the label “hate hag” currently trendy in India.

The term ‘hate hag’, used to describe “women supporters of Narendra Modi” in an Outlook Magazine article recently gained currency, especially on social media…

In this essay I critique the term ‘hate hag’ through three broad arguments: first, I argue the term ‘hate hag’ is inherently sexist and misogynistic, and in using the term to ‘shame’ women because of their political ideology, we reinstate another form of a the medieval witch-hunt. Second, I look at the irreconcilable contradictions in the ‘women’s question’ and the Political Right, especially in light of the Janus-faced patriarchy that the BJP and the Sangh Parivaar represent. Here I underscore the role played by real, symbolic and semiotic violence that is directed against women’s bodies and ‘honour’. Finally, I present the idea that the term ‘hate hag’ conforms to the same form of semiotic violence that the Political Right and conservatives use to ‘shame’ women to reaffirm a patriarchal politics. This, I argue, is creates the Orwellian Woman as the ‘other’—that is, the notion that “some women are more equal than other women”, when it comes to being objects of such attacks.

It’s a loaded word. “Hag” is just one of the many many many words used to work up hatred of women.

By underscoring the ‘internal/external’ ugliness (of women), people who support the term are supporting a perverted logic that assigns ‘value’ on womanhood based on a notion of beauty/ugliness and purity/pollution. This underscores an important point about the insidious function of discipline/punish that’s embedded in the notion of shame and honour (I will discuss this point in detail in the concluding segment).

Then there’s a tweet quoted -

And the term hate hag is not about external ugliness of these women. It is about their internal ugliness.

Of course it is; that’s a standard reply. “I called you ugly because you’re ugly inside.” Uh huh.

Misogynistic labels are global; what a cheerful thought.



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

Finally paying attention

May 4th, 2014 10:01 am | By

Nick Cohen points out – as I’ve been pointing out – that the Nigerian schoolgirls haven’t been kidnapped but enslaved. They weren’t just yanked away to be hostages or bargining chips or shields, but to be sexual slaves and, no doubt, labor slaves as well.

A desire for sexual supremacy accompanies their loathing of knowledge. They take 220 schoolgirls as slaves and force them to convert to their version of Islam. They either rape them or sell them on for £10 or so to new masters. The girls are the victims of slavery, child abuse and forced marriage. Their captors are by extension slavers and rapists.

As you can see, English does not lack plain words to describe the foulness of the crimes in Nigeria, and no doubt they would be used in the highly improbable event of western soldiers seizing and selling women.

And now, according to AFP, Goodluck Jonathan is finally doing more than handwaving. Global pressure works, people!

Anger at the government’s ineffectual response has fuelled protests at home and abroad, including in New York where dozens of Nigerians staged a protest march on Saturday demanding action to free the children.

Mr Jonathan held closed-door talks with military and security service chiefs as well as senior officials, Borno state’s governor and police chief, and the head of the school in Chibok where the girls were seized, Reuben Abati told reporters.

Under pressure over the mass abduction, it was the first time the Nigerian leader brought together all key players involved in the search.

“The president has given very clear directives that everything must be done to ensure that these girls must be brought back to safety,” Mr Abati said.

Until now Mr Jonathan had only conferred with his security chiefs.

Good; now hurry up.

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

Late night, alcoholism, punching down

May 4th, 2014 8:54 am | By

It’s bad news for insomniacs, you know, Craig Ferguson’s divorce from The Late Late Show. I’ve never watched any of the other – the normal – late shows, but if I had an attack of the wide-awakes then Craig Ferguson was just the ticket.

Slate says some of why (although much of my why is somewhat different):

Still, this is bad news for fans of late night television. It’s even bad news for haters of late night television: Ferguson was an irreverent genius, a consistent and consistently surprising comic who took the genre’s tiresome format and threw it out the window. He had no in-house band. He had no in-house announcer. His co-host was a robot. His monologues eschewed weak and easy one-liners, focusing instead on anecdotal digressions and slice-of-life observations. Above all, his Late Late Show was informed by a unique kindness, vulnerability, and sense of perspective. Never was that more evident than in one of his best openings, when he refused to skewer Britney Spears and other embattled celebrities given his own struggles with alcoholism and depression.

Ok so I watched the clip, all 12 minutes of it, which dates from February 20 2007, before I was aware of him. (He’s lost a lot of the accent since then.) It’s pretty damn good.


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

A printing error by an external company

May 4th, 2014 8:10 am | By

The University of East London’s Islamic Society is attempting the “you are victimizing us” ploy, after UEL canceled a gender-segregated Isoc event in mid-April, according to the Newham Recorder.

The University of East London’s Isoc claimed the segregation, which would have meant separate seating for men and women, was advertised by mistake due to a printing error by an external company.

However, it defended the policy on its Twitter feed with the hashtag “SegregationIsNotHate”, and said the hastily re-arranged April 17 dinner went ahead in a North London mosque with segregated seating.

An Isoc spokesman said: “We are very disappointed that the university did a U-turn less than 24 hours prior to the event.

“They listened to external right-wing groups rather then listen to their own students.”

Right-wing? Really? Peter Tatchell?

In any case what’s Isoc doing complaining of right-wing groups? Isoc is right-wing itself. Islamism is right-wing; gender segregation is right-wing; theocracy is right-wing.

He added: “It’s a sad day when a university with one of the highest proportion of Muslim students begins to victimise them.”

That assumes that all Muslim students are Islamists, which is very unlikely to be the case. The two words are not interchangeable.

Dusty Amroliwala, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at UEL, said: “I reject any idea that we are ‘victimising’ or ‘unfairly scrutinising’ the Society. UEL has a proud record of defending democracy, promoting free speech and intellectual curiosity.

“But we cannot allow enforced segregation at lectures, nor can we offer a public platform to speakers who are known to preach extreme messages that could constitute a hate crime.”

He added: “We would have come to the same conclusion had this been any another society, religious or otherwise, where the circumstances had been the same.”

UEL was also concerned about speaker Murtaza Khan, who has been filmed referring to “filthy non-Muslim doctors”, but approved his attendance after he apologised for the remarks, which he called “damaging to community relations”.

Oh shut up. Drop the bureaucratic waffle and tell the truth – talking about people that way is a blatant attempt to foment hatred and ultimately violence. Imagine a Christianist ranting about “filthy Muslim doctors” and maybe the point will become clearer. “Damaging to community relations” is a grotesque understatement.

However, gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell alerted UEL to another video that shows Mr Khan saying homosexuals should be killed.

Mr Amroliwala said: “The suggestion that certain groups of people should be thrown off a mountain or stoned is language that incites hatred and cannot be condoned.

“The only reasonable and appropriate decision was to withdraw the university’s facilities from being used to support this event.”

In other words, it’s not UEL doing the victimizing here.



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

Did he get his law degree at Walmart?

May 3rd, 2014 6:31 pm | By

The Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, Roy Moore – a guy you would expect to know something about the Constitution, given his job – says the First Amendment protects only Christians.

Speaking at the Pastor for Life Luncheon, which was sponsored by Pro-Life Mississippi, Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court declared that the First Amendment only applies to Christians because “Buddha didn’t create us, Mohammed didn’t create us, it was the God of the Holy Scriptures” who created us.

“They didn’t bring the Koran over on the pilgrim ship,” he continued. “Let’s get real, let’s go back and learn our history. Let’s stop playing games.”

Games? What games would those be? The First Amendment says what it says, not something else. I didn’t make that up. I’m not playing games.

Roy Moore? Meet the First Amendment.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

See there? It doesn’t say Christian or Christianity. It says “of religion.” That would include Buddhism and Islam, whatever Roy Moore may choose to tell the fetus-huggers of Mississippi.

e then noted that he loves talking to lawyers, because he is a lawyer who went to “a secular law school,” so he knows that “in the law, [talking about God] just isn’t politically correct.” He claimed that this is why America has “lost its way,” and that he would be publishing a pamphlet “this week, maybe next” that contained copies of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, thereby proving that all the people “who found this nation — black, white, all people, all religions, all faiths” knew that America was “about God.”

All religions, all faiths? But you just said – oh never mind.


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

ReMorePlusAgain sophistification

May 3rd, 2014 11:25 am | By

This time it’s a piece in the Irish Times, by Joe Humphreys, about a new book by Richard Kearney, who is a professor of philosophy at Boston College. What the article neglects to mention is that Boston College is Catholic.

The subject is familiar – the current discussion of theism and atheism is simplistic and boring; we need something more sophisticated than that. Enter the guy from the Jesuit college.

The philosopher is trying to move the discussion onwards through his writings and The Guestbook Project, which is described as an “experiment” in hospitality and inter-faith dialogue and is sponsored by his employer, Boston College. In his book Anatheism: Returning to God after God, Kearney rejects the notion that we must chose between either theism or atheism. This forms the basis of today’s idea: God is a symbol that constantly requires reinterpretation.

So you say, but to many millions of people “God” is the opposite of that: not a symbol, and not subject to reinterpretation. It seems absurd to use “God” to mean something radically different from what it has always meant to most people. It’s as if I started using the word “marmalade” to mean “dog.” I’m allowed to do that, but it’s not a very useful thing to do.

All I’m saying is that God is a word – Augustine said it before me – for what we hope for. It is a word we use, and has been used by all wisdom traditions to try and connote this thing we hope for, this thing we long for, this surplus of meaning we call mystery.

But then why not talk about that instead of talking about “God”? Why not just talk about that? Talking about what we hope for could be interesting. Talking about “God” seems to me very uninteresting indeed.

A critic might say you’re only picking out the nice bits from religious teaching to make it more appetising. Yours is surely a selective reading of the Bible.
Of course it’s selective. It has to be selective, otherwise you’re uncritical, you’re a dogmatist. I grew up being taught there was one reading, and there are Protestant, evangelical sects that are even stricter than the Catholicism that I learnt.

Yes, but if you are selective, you’re agreeing that it’s humans who decide on what morality is and that the bible has no more to do with that than any other book, and the bible becomes just one more book, as it should have been all along. If you’re going to go that far you might as well go the rest of the way.

What is your impression of God?
It is the vulnerable, fragile stranger who knocks and invites us to more life. And there is nothing particularly new about that. It’s not some New Age religion. It’s the three strangers knocking at Abraham’s tent. It’s Gabriel knocking at Mary’s room. It’s – as Jesus says in Matthew 25 – the person who is hungry, the person who is thirsty. Walter Benjamin has a beautiful line where he says we must consider each instant as a portal through which the Messiah must enter. It’s always knocking, every moment.

But why is that god? Why isn’t it itself, instead of being god?

I never understand that.


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

In the forest

May 3rd, 2014 10:48 am | By

Bodunrin Kayode gives us some useful background on the Sambisa Forest.

A few months ago, the name Sambisa Forest meant nothing to many Nigerians. Not anymore. It has come to signify terror and home to the terrorist group Boko Haram. The forest is now almost mythical for so many people within the Lake Chad basin who have come to align the complex north-eastern vegetation with Boko Haram, instead of the game reserve the colonialists meant it for.

The colonial government had marked the forest out as a game reserve. Today, Sambisa has become one of the strongest bases of the Boko Haram insurgents who run back into its dark recesses anytime they have finished their slaughter of harmless citizens.

Of course they do. Forests have always been refuges for bandits, insurgents, ogres – in reality and in story, they’re where the wild things are.

For so many young people outside the savannah, it is indeed very strange to find a ‘forest’ in the middle of the savannah vegetation. How would a ‘forest’ be found in the north eastern axis of Nigeria? Are they not living in a desert full of sand from the great Sahara which has encroached badly from the receding Lake Chad region due to global warming?

The question many ask no one in particular is: why the Sambisa forest still remains intact as a game reserve when many other green zones in the Sahel have been overtaken by global warming? What is it that makes Sambisa a place for insurgents tormenting the people of the north-east to take solace inside?

The Sambisa Forest lost its innocence as a game reserve before 2006. It is now believed to have super bunkers underneath the Sahel so that the new tenants, Boko Haram, will be well placed to complete their aim of taking over all the government houses in the north-east after bringing down the few military installations created years back to protect the people of this region.

Wait, what? It is now believed by whom, and how reasonable is the belief? Is there any reason to think there are “super bunkers” under the Sahel? Building an underground bunker would take a lot of large and conspicuous equipment; is Boko Haram that well equipped?

“It actually took the intelligence services a long time to discover that the game reserve had become a hideout for the sect. They waited three years until several lives had been lost before acting reluctantly on the intelligence advises,” an intelligence source told the Nation. “As a matter of fact, Sambisa is not the only hideout of the insurgents.”

The source said they believe the school girls kidnapped by Boko Haram two weeks ago are now “at the beck and call” of the group and fears that they “could become the latest sex slaves of the insurgents”.

“The girls will be moved tactically from one base to another mostly in the night so that they cannot recognise where they were. They will finally end up in Sambisa or Algoni, the two most dreaded bases remaining for the managers of the nation’s security to bring down,” the source added.

The source said Nigeria’s intelligence agencies are willing to act to take down the Boko Haram base, but their efforts have been hampered by the government.

“We in the intelligence were ready to penetrate the sect but they [the government] wasted too much time concentrating on irrelevances. Now it is too late, the intelligence guys are not ready to risk their lives any more after all the frustration from the managers in Abuja. We have given them all the information they need including the level of sophistication of the insurgents; it’s up to them to act.”

Not a hopeful outlook.


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

Her voice breaking as she recounted the nightmare

May 2nd, 2014 5:53 pm | By

The Guardian reports that the families of the enslaved schoolgirls are losing hope.

Hamma Balumai, a farmer whose 16-year-old daughter Hauwa was snatched, pooled his savings with other parents and ventured on a two-day trek into the forest this week. “Even my wife was begging to come as she is so disturbed she hasn’t been able to eat anything. Our daughter Hauwa is only 16 years old and she has been missing for 11 days now,” he told the Guardian.

The parents turned around only after being warned by communities in the forest that their rag-tag group, armed with machetes and knives, would be gunned down by the militants, who wield sophisticated weapons.

The ones who escaped are struggling too.

Godiya Usman, an 18-year-old finalist who jumped off the back of the truck, said she feels trapped by survivor’s guilt. She and her cousin huddled together as the insurgents stormed into their dorm room. “When my cousin Lami started crying, one of them pointed a gun to my head and said if she didn’t stop, he would shoot both of us. I held her and told her we had to just follow their instructions, but I was so scared I could barely even whisper the words.”

She began to panic as her cousin could not stop crying as they drove into the night. “They drove us into the forest and each time we got to a village, they stopped and started shooting and killing people and burning their houses. I told the girls in my truck that when we got to another village and they were busy attacking, we should all jump down and run into the forest.”

But the other girls, terrified by the dozens of armed men, were unable to keep to the plan. “When we got to another village, they started shooting. I jumped down and I was expecting my friends to jump too, but they didn’t. I just started crying and running into the bush,” Usman said, her voice breaking as she recounted the nightmare.

Hours later, she stumbled upon a group of other parents and local youths who were searching for the girls in the forest.

Is this a “fake”? I hardly think so. I hardly think Monica Mark would write all that if it were fake.

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

He knows some knowing people who know things

May 2nd, 2014 4:57 pm | By

Oh good grief, a conspiracy theorist about the Nigerian kidnapped schoolgirls. Yes really. He says he’s getting flags (by which he seems to mean warnings) from “those familiar with events inside Nigeria.” Oooooooooooh that sounds important – until you look at it and realize it doesn’t. He says (this is in a Facebook group) “some” compare it to the Kony 2012 campaign. Oh yes, I totally see that, except that that was a movie and this is a whole bunch of news reports, including from people who are actually there, like the BBC’s correspondent and CNN’s reporter and the local history teacher whose article I blogged about a few hours ago.

I asked some questions, like who are these people and why are you suspicious of the story, and he replied that “We are going through details right now” – and I said “who’s we?” and he got all coy. This went on for awhile – increasingly annoyed questions from me and pompous bullshitting from him. It might be funny if it weren’t for the fact that this is real people’s real lives AND the fact that the people involved want the story given more attention and here’s this self-important asshole trying to convince people it’s a fake. Ugh.

Can’t people just stick to the Loch Ness monster and leave the serious shit alone?

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

But always allow for exceptions

May 2nd, 2014 4:33 pm | By

Morocco is considered fairly liberal compared to most of its neighbors, but what liberality there is may be more formal than real.

There’s that 2004 revision of the family code that raised the legal age of marriage from 15 to 18. The trouble is it allowed for “exceptions” where a judge could rule that young Miss 15 was actually old enough – and guess what. Lots of judges are ruling just that.

A 2014 World Bank report entitled “Ten Years After Morocco’s Family Code Reforms: Are Gender Gaps Closing?” indicates that of the 44,134 underage marriage petitions in 2010, 99 percent involved underage girls and 92 percent of said requests received judicial approval.

As the World Bank report succinctly states: “If the aim of this reform was to decrease the number of underage marriages, it is failing.”

Bouzekri, who is also a Gender Studies professor at Moulay Ismail University in Meknes, cites the loophole allowing underage and forced marriages as a recurring example of the inadequacy of Moroccan authorities and lawmakers to implement the new moudawana.

“Today we routinely find that judges marry girls that are either 15 and 16, especially in the rural areas. The judge will accept that she looks like a woman, that she is capable of being a woman but (she’s only) 15 or 16. There should not be a distinction: Marriage should happen at the age of 18. That’s it. No exceptions,” says Bouzekri.

And then there’s the whole “marry your rapist” problem.

In 2012, 16-year-old Amina Filali, consumed rat poison after being “…forced by her parents and a judge to marry the man she said had raped her at knife point…” according to The New York Times. Filali’s tragic death inspired protests across the country and global ire from feminist and human rights organizations. In January 2014, the Moroccan Parliament voted to expunge the clause of Article 475 of its penal code that allowed a man accused of rape to avoid jail time if he married his adolescent victim, the clause that failed to protect girls like Filai.

Again, good, but again, it’s only on paper.

A 2013 BMC International Health and Human Rights report entitled “Determinants of child and forced marriages in Morocco” interviewed 22 “stakeholders” in Moroccan gender reform such as government officials, NGO works and health care professional. The report indicates that judges rule in an attempt to shield underage or sexually abused girls from the shame of divorce or familial abandonment.

“In these rural areas, the look of the neighbor is very important. The father, the mother, they will say, ‘I know my daughter was raped but I want him to marry her’. The judges hear that, especially in rural areas,” said Bouzekri.

Because of the neighbors.

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

Living in fear of Boko Haram

May 2nd, 2014 11:40 am | By

Kyari Mohammed, who is a teacher in north-east Nigeria – Boko Haram territory – writes in the Guardian about what it’s like to live in fear of Education Forbidden.

I live in fear of Boko Haram. The group’s insurgency began in Nigeria in 2009. Yola in Adamawa state, where I live and teach history, is relatively calm at the moment. But following the imposition of a state of emergency in 2013 many of my colleagues have fled.

The University of Maiduguri in neighbouring Borno state is in a worse situation. At least three of its professors have been killed and one abducted within this period. Many students have withdrawn, teachers relocated, and academic exchange even with other Nigerian universities has virtually ceased. During a one-year sabbatical that I took there in 2012, it was shut down for six months.

Following Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau’s reiteration that all schools are targets, we are all living in fear.

Marvelous, isn’t it? A movement to destroy all education in a developing country, and to do it via mass murder and terror.

The attacks on schools can be explained even though they cannot be justified. The Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Liddawa’ati wal Jihad, better known as Boko Haram, has not hidden its disdain and opposition to western education. Its name Boko Haram is often roughly translated as “western education is forbidden”.

The group ascribes the rot in governance, corruption, conspicuous consumption of the ruling class as well as their exclusion and marginality in contemporary Nigerian society to western education and the secular system it gave rise to.

The educated elites, especially in northern Nigeria, have not been good role models in the eyes of their uneducated compatriots. This is because they are living examples of corruption, conspicuous consumption and oppression of their unlettered compatriots and co-religionists.

There’s a lot of that here in the US, too, but destroying education isn’t the way to improve things.

The insurgency has set back education in an area with some of the world’s worst levels of education and human development. For many children in these communities, education remains their surest way out of poverty and destitution. The fear of Boko Haram has forced many parents to withdraw their children from schools, and this can only add to an already explosive mix of the large pool of uneducated and unemployed youth and debilitating poverty.

Boko Haram is energetically making things much much much worse.

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

Bring Back Our Girls

May 2nd, 2014 11:20 am | By

There’s a vocal #BringBackOurGirls protest outside the Nigerian Mission at the UN right now.

Embedded image permalink

Via braden@detroitred9

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

Abuse at the hands of the brothers who had been entrusted with their care

May 2nd, 2014 11:11 am | By

Amanda Banks at the West Australian tells us how the Catholic church in Western Australia dealt with abuse victims. With generosity and remorse and eagerness to make amends? No. With self-interested self-protective fighting and coercion.

The Catholic Church and Christian Brothers fought a class action by abuse victims from WA orphanages at every turn, using their strong legal position to open settlement negotiations with the offer that the men pay their costs.

By “the men” she means the abuse victims – so the church opened negotiations by demanding that the victims pay the church’s costs. The victimizer opened negotiations with a demand that the victims pay costs.

Slater and Gordon lawyer Hayden Stephens has told the royal commission public hearing in Perth this morning of the uphill battle faced by hundreds of men who signed retainers for the national law firm to take on the class action.

Mr Stephens said while a trust of $3.5 million was eventually settled in 1996 after a three-year legal stoush, the Christian Brothers made it clear from the outset that under no circumstances would any agreement be seen to be a payment of compensation to victims.

So much for generosity and remorse and eagerness to make amends.

“Although this amount does not fairly reflect the suffering that these men suffered and experienced at these institutions, it was the best we could achieve,” Mr Hayden told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

“To be blunt, the trustees of the Christian Brothers had their knee on our client’s throat and there was little opportunity for our clients to flex their negotiation muscle, or us on their behalf, with the judicial decisions that had preceded the negotiations.”

See? They’re like anyone else. They look out for themselves, like anyone else. They’re not better than other people. Their religion doesn’t make them good.

The first three days of the hearing were dominated by evidence of 11 former residents of the Christian Brothers’ Bindoon, Tardun, Castledare and Clontarf orphanages.

The men each gave harrowing accounts of sexual, physical and mental abuse, as well as neglect and cruelty, at the hands of the brothers who had been entrusted with their care.

Some of them men have also expressed feeling demeaned and insulted by the class action process, which in some cases resulted in payouts of as a little as $2000.

They’re just racketeers, the men who run the Catholic church. Don’t let them fool you.

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

Beautiful simplicity

May 2nd, 2014 10:50 am | By

Texas Freedom Network points and laughs at David Barton’s views on why the Constitution forgot to say that women could vote. He says it’s because the family is one, not many.

And you have to remember back then, husband and wife, I mean the two were considered one. That is the biblical precept. That is the way they looked at them in the civil community. That is a family that is voting and so the head of the family is traditionally considered to be the husband and even biblically still continues to be so …

See? It makes perfect sense. The family is one, and that one is the husband. Everybody else doesn’t count (until the male children grow up of course, but Barton forgets to explain about that), because the husband is the head and the family is one. It eliminates all confusion and arguing.



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

From Muslims for Progressive Values

May 1st, 2014 4:47 pm | By

The movie IJTIHAD: Feminism and Reform is available on Vimeo.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

I’ve started with Part 2 because it has my friend Tehmina Kazi in it.

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

Today’s lesson in irony

May 1st, 2014 4:20 pm | By

There’s a woman in South Dakota, Annette Bosworth, who is hoping to be a Republican candidate for the Senate. She has a campaign page on Facebook. On it she posted this attractive item:

Photo: More dishonest attacks from the left. We are being attacked by a far left wing group. Please help us get our message out by making a contribution today. </p>
<p>Read my blog

Subtle, the comparison to animals, isn’t it.

The post shows 61,789 shares at the moment. There are a lot of hostile comments, so many of those shares must be of the “do you believe this bullshit?” variety.

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


May 1st, 2014 4:05 pm | By

I get facetious in the afternoon…

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

Some are going mad

May 1st, 2014 12:06 pm | By

Alexis Okeowo at the New Yorker blog on the kidnapped schoolgirls in Borno, Nigeria.

“I thought it was the end of my life,” Deborah Sanya told me by phone on Monday from Chibok, a tiny town of farmers in northeastern Nigeria. “There were many, many of them.” Boko Haram, an Islamist terrorist group, kidnapped Sanya and at least two hundred of her classmates from a girls’ secondary school in Chibok more than two weeks ago. Sanya, along with two friends, escaped. So did forty others. The rest have vanished, and their families have not heard any word of them since.

Sanya is eighteen years old and was taking her final exams before graduation. Many of the schools in towns around Chibok, in the state of Borno, had been shuttered. Boko Haram attacks at other schools—like a recent massacre of fifty-nine schoolboys in neighboring Yobe state—had prompted the mass closure. But local education officials decided to briefly reopen the Chibok school for exams. On the night of the abduction, militants showed up at the boarding school dressed in Nigerian military uniforms. They told the girls that they were there to take them to safety. “They said, ‘Don’t worry. Nothing will happen to you,’ ” Sanya told me. The men took food and other supplies from the school and then set the building on fire. They herded the girls into trucks and onto motorcycles. At first, the girls, while alarmed and nervous, believed that they were in safe hands. When the men started shooting their guns into the air and shouting “Allahu Akbar,” Sanya told me, she realized that the men were not who they said they were. She started begging God for help; she watched several girls jump out of the truck that they were in.

It was noon when her group reached the terrorists’ camp. She had been taken not far from Chibok, a couple of remote villages away in the bush. The militants forced her classmates to cook; Sanya couldn’t eat. Two hours later, she pulled two friends close and told them that they should run. One of them hesitated, and said that they should wait to escape at night. Sanya insisted, and they fled behind some trees. The guards spotted them and called out for them to return, but the girls kept running. They reached a village late at night, slept at a friendly stranger’s home, and, the next day, called their families.

She couldn’t tell him any more than that. She’s not doing well. Nobody there is. Her father isn’t; the other parents aren’t.

Sanya’s father, a primary-school teacher named Ishaya Sanya, is struggling with conflicting emotions: gratitude that his daughter has returned to him; guilt that the daughters of his siblings, friends, and neighbors are still somewhere in the bush; and an angry frustration that there seemed to be no effort to rescue the girls.

“We don’t know where they are up until now, and we have not heard anything from the government,” he told me. “Every house in Chibok has been affected by the kidnapping.” The only information that the families had been able to gather about the kidnapped girls, he went on, was from the girls who had escaped.

He remembers the exact time that Deborah appeared in front of him after her escape—4:30 P.M.—and how he felt: “very happy.” But his despair soon returned. “Our area has been affected very seriously,” he told me. Parents had fallen physically ill, and some were “going mad.”

There are no signs of progress in rescuing the girls.

In the meantime, as in so many other ways in Nigeria, each community has to fend for itself. For a while after the abduction, girls trickled back into town—some rolled off trucks, some snuck away while fetching water. That trickle has stopped. “Nobody rescued them,” a government official in Chibok said of the girls who made it back. “I want you to stress this point. Nobody rescued them. They escaped on their accord. This is painful.”

A pastor in Chibok whose daughter is missing told me that he set out with friends on the morning after the abduction to find the girls. “I was forced to come home empty-handed,” he told me by phone. “I just don’t know what the federal government is doing about it. And there is no security here that will defend us. You have to do what you can do to escape for your life.”

I asked the pastor about rumors that Boko Haram has taken the girls outside of Nigeria’s borders, into Cameroon and Chad, and forcibly married them. He paused, and then said, “How will I be happy? How will I be happy?”

How will his daughter? How will any of the girls? How will any of their parents? How will they be happy? How will they be happy?




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

The Jaafari Personal Status Law

May 1st, 2014 11:56 am | By

Another one it would be good to sign.

Tell Iraq: Don’t Legalize Forced Child Marriage

Any minute now, the Iraqi Council of Representatives will vote to legalize forced child marriage.

The specifics of the legislation (part of the Jaafari Personal Status Law) are terrifying:

  • There will no longer be a minimum age to legally marry (it’s currently 18) but the law provides policies for divorcing a 9-year-old;
  • A girl’s father would legally be able to accept a marriage proposal; and
  • The girl would be legally prohibited from resisting her husband’s advances and leaving the home without his permission. It’s a recipe for a life in domestic and sexual slavery.

Currently, Iraq has one of the most progressive policies on women’s rights in the Middle East — setting the legal marriage age at 18 and prohibiting forced marriage.

Brave Iraqi women have been fighting against removing the minimum age for marriage, for their sake and for the sake of their daughters. Last month on International Women’s Day, countless women attended demonstrations in Baghdad protesting the Jaafari Personal Status Law. They called it the “Day of Mourning”.

We may not have much time to stop Iraq from legalizing forced child marriage and a lifetime of domestic and sexual slavery for girls and women. Call on the the Iraqi Council of Representatives to vote “no” to the Jaafari Personal Status Law today.

In partnership with the Arab Human Rights Academy (AHRA).

It’s not a recipe for slavery, it is slavery.

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