Notes and Comment Blog


Jun 12th, 2013 6:20 pm | By

I’m late in pointing out (and rejoicing) that Nirmukta is here. Hooray! Meera Nanda pointed me in their direction when they first started up – what a thrill to have them at FTB.

Make them welcome.

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

We don’t need more women CEOs

Jun 12th, 2013 5:56 pm | By

A social studies teacher gave the commencement address at Eastern High School in Greentown, Indiana, on June 2, and told the girls to go to the back of the line.

I challenge you to devote yourself to your families and your children. If you choose to have a career, God’s blessings upon you. But I challenge you to recognize what the world scoffs at, that your greatest role in your life will be that of wife and mother. The greatest impact you could ever contribute to our world is a loving investment in the lives of your precious children. To solve the problems plaguing our society, we don’t need more women CEOs. We need more women as invested mothers.

We need the division of labor that God intended and that pesky liberals have been messing around with. Women do CHILDREN and men do WORKING and that’s how it’s always been supposed to be so shut up.



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

Human rights in Nigeria

Jun 12th, 2013 5:40 pm | By

Check out Yemi’s interview on Nigeria’s “Kill the Gays” bill on Sahara TV.


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

Outrage in the sexism community

Jun 12th, 2013 10:18 am | By

Outrage? What is the sexism community outraged about now? About people complaining about sexism, of course; what else? Stalin!! Mao!!!

It’s the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Bulletin that’s in the hot seat this time. SF and Fantasy are proudly active branches of the sexism community, as we all know, along with gaming and computer science and “skepticism” among others.

A growing chorus of science fiction authors have been speaking out about sexism in the genre after much-criticised recent editions of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America’s (SFWA) magazine, Bulletin, which featured a woman in a chainmail bikini on the cover and the claim that Barbie is a role model because she “maintained her quiet dignity the way a woman should“.

A row has been brewing for two weeks over the Bulletin, which also ran a column referring to “lady writers” and “lady editors”, describing them as “beauty pageant beautiful” or a “knock out”.

The columnists, Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg, responded to claims that their descriptions were sexist in another bulletin, where they wrote that “all we did was appear in a magazine with a warrior woman on the cover, and mention that a woman who edited a science fiction magazine 65 years ago was beautiful. If they get away with censoring that, can you imagine what comes next? I’m pretty sure Joe Stalin could imagine it … Even Chairman Mao could imagine it.”

Jason Sanford is glad the Bulletin published the response by Resnick and Malzberg.

Wait. What? I’m okay with Resnick and Malzberg saying there’s no problem with how women are depicted in SF artwork? What kind of sick SFWA liberal fascist joke is this?

I raise that last question because in the dialogue Malzberg calls people troubled by these types of sexist covers “SFWA liberal fascists.” Resnick and Malzberg then talk at length how the campaign to raise awareness on how women are depicted in SF/F art is nothing more than thought-control and censorship.

Now, I think Resnick and Malzberg are taking the issue a bit personally because in the previous issue of the Bulletin they discussed female genre editors, and took flack for commenting on the looks of one of the editors. I also know that they are trying to stir the pot on this issue—hell, they basically admit as much toward the end of their discussion (right before they say this type of thought-control and censorship leads us straight into a world full of Joseph Stalins and Chairman Maos).

How familiar that sounds, doesn’t it. In my circles that’s known as “doing a Shermer.” It’s funny how often my circle has occasion to use that phrase. Well not funny, exactly. Pathetic, is more like it.

However, that doesn’t mean Resnick and Malzberg’s essay didn’t piss me off. And the reason for said urine-anger is simple—they throw around the words “thought-control” and “censorship” merely because they’ve been made to feel uncomfortable for their beliefs.

News flash: Feeling heat for your ideas is not censorship. Having to defend your beliefs when challenged is not thought-control.

Precisely. Michael Shermer please note. Also all the other vanity-outraged egomaniacs who’ve done a Shermer in the past few months.

Back to the Guardian story.

The issues provoked blistering attacks from authors online, with some going so far as to withdraw their membership of the organisation.

“I loved so many things about you – but your apparent willingness to overlook constant and continued sexism in your own publication and ranks I do not love,” wrote E Catherine Tobler, who later said she received a “flood of hate mail” for her comments. “People have told me I never should have joined SFWA if this is what I wanted from it. That I was wrong to try to make it conform to me and my ideals. They have told me not to let the door hit my perky ass on the way out. (You see what they did there?)” she wrote.

That too is familiar. “Get out of my movement.” Yep.

The bestselling author Ann Aguirre spoke out about sexism in science fiction on a wider basis, of how she has been treated by male writers when at conventions – “I had a respected SF writer call me ‘girlie’ and demand that I get him a coffee, before the panel we were on TOGETHER,” she wrote on her blog – and of the “dismissive, occasionally scornful attitude” she has found as a woman writing science fiction.

“I’ve held my silence when I probably shouldn’t have. But I was in the minority, a woman writing SF, and I was afraid of career backlash. I was afraid of being excluded or losing opportunities if I didn’t play nice,” wrote Aguirre.

“I don’t care about that any more. If this means I don’t get into anthos [anthologies] or invited to parties, I don’t give a fuck. I care more about doing the right thing, about speaking out, so maybe other women who have had these experiences will do the same. If enough of us gather the courage to say, ‘Hey, look, this is NOT ALL RIGHT,’ maybe the world will change.”

Like Tobler, her post provoked hate mail, which she added to her blog…

Again! Recognition!

Aguirre has since told Publishers Weekly that while she “didn’t post the worst, scariest or ugliest hate mail I received … at this point, the positive feedback exponentially outweighs the hateful microcosm, and I’m so glad I did this.

“I’ve gotten an overwhelming number of emails, thanking me for being brave because now this woman has the courage to tell her own story or to stand up for herself and demand better treatment. A number of those emails brought me to tears, and if I helped strengthen the sisterhood and made other women feel better, then it was all worth it. I’m so proud to know so many courageous, creative women. The positive I see coming from this is that we’ve broken through the wall of silence, where it’s better to swallow our shame and outrage. If we’re united in our determination to demand equality and respect, the situation must improve,” she said.

And that, too, is familiar. I, too, get that a lot. I too hear from women who tell me I help them have the courage to stick around, speak up, not hide, not quit.

It’s all the same thing. None of it is the least bit original or surprising. It might as well be scripted.



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

Elton John’s stage outfits

Jun 12th, 2013 9:35 am | By

Russia has unanimously passed a law against “gay propaganda” (as the Independent translates it).

The Indy reported yesterday, before the law passed:

A number of regions have already adopted a similar law, and now MPs from President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party want to implement a nationwide ban on “gay propaganda”.

The law defines the rather nebulous concept as “spreading information aimed at forming non-traditional sexual behaviour among children, suggesting this behaviour is attractive, and making a false statement about the socially equal nature of traditional and non-traditional relationships”.

Fines for breaking the law will be up to £100 for individuals, £1,000 for officials, and £20,000 for organisations. Already there have been doubts about how to define propaganda, with a group of Communists in southern Russia complaining that Elton John’s stage outfits should be considered “homosexual propaganda”.

That’s right. Make sure everyone continues to be taught that it’s dirty and disgusting and wrong, so that no one will be able to step far back enough to realize that it’s just an arbitrary taboo that messes up people’s lives. Let’s make a conscious decision to hang on to pointless prejudices, and punish all attempts to undo them. Amen.

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

The Saudi flag

Jun 12th, 2013 9:09 am | By

There’s a ferocious Jesus and Mo today.


The original?


The Arabic reads: There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his Prophet.

The picture reads: And if you don’t agree we’ll cut your fucking head off.

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

American Atheists has an urgent request

Jun 11th, 2013 3:47 pm | By

From Dave Muscato of AA:

We have an urgent message for anyone who may be in a position to help.
Please assist us in spreading the word.

We need to contact anyone who is related to an atheist or other
nonbeliever who died in the terrorist attacks on September 11. This is
extremely time-sensitive.

We need the names of atheist victims of the attacks, and we need
contact information for relatives who knew them personally and can
vouch for the fact that they were nonbelievers.

If you have contact with anyone who knows a victim from 9/11, please
contact us immediately.

Our phone number is 908-276-7300 extension 7, or email Again this is extremely time-sensitive.

Thank you and please help us spread the word about this to anyone whom
you think is in a position to help.

Dave Muscato
Public Relations Director
American Atheists, Inc.
908-276-7300 X7 |

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

Robert F Kennedy Jr isn’t afraid to read science

Jun 11th, 2013 11:35 am | By

Which is good, according to him, because journalists, according to him, are afraid to read science. Even ones with PhDs in science like Phil Plait and Laura Helmuth (health and science editor of Slate).

As RFK Jr. explained, “journalists get their information from government officials who are saying there’s no problem. Not one of them has picked up the multitude of studies that say thimerosal is the most potent brain killer imaginable.” When RFK Jr. challenged the university scientist about a study of the biological activity of thimerosal in vitro, which “everybody accepts because journalists hadn’t read it,” the scientist said, “ ‘Oh, yeah, you’re right about that.’ He backpedaled.” That’s because “now he was dealing with somebody who wasn’t afraid to read science.”

I talked to the scientist, who would prefer I not use his name because he gets death threats from unhinged anti-vaxxers. He said, “Kennedy completely misrepresented everything I said.”

RFK Jr is an anti-vaxxer. He called up Slate to harangue Helmuth at great length about a piece Phil Plait wrote for Slate last week

pointing out that the idea that vaccines cause autism is a crackpot theory that has been thoroughly debunked, that it is dangerous, and that RFK Jr. is one of its most effective proponents.

But RFK Jr knows better, because crackpot theories must be right, because they are crackpot. See?

RFK Jr. likens people who believe that vaccines cause autism to scientists whose discoveries were shunned by their small-minded peers. “I watched this happen to Rachel Carson, who I knew, who came to my home. My uncle President Kennedy introduced me to her. …  She was condemned in the press by Time, Life, Look, US News & World Report, Newsweek, and Sports Illustrated. She was totally marginalized as a kook. My uncle, I’m proud to say, John Kennedy, went against his own Agriculture Department and vindicated her.”

Aha, you see? This is what I was saying last week, about the flattering idea that having enemies is a sign that you’re courageously right. No, it isn’t. People who are wrong have enemies too. RFK Jr is just confused here. Having a lot of peers saying your claims are completely wrong is not an infallible sign that you’re right. It could be all those peers who are right and not you. Calling them small-minded doesn’t change that.

William Souder, who wrote the fantastic Carson biography On a Farther Shore and has debunked conspiracy theories about her, says that “generally, Carson and Silent Spring were treated fairly and with respect by the press. The few negative reviews and skeptical articles were far outnumbered by the positive responses.” As with most of what Kennedy said, a kernel of truth is distorted into something malevolent.

The underdog narrative is powerful. So is fear of chemicals. So is the desire for a simple solution to a complicated problem. And conspiracy theories are alluring. For some people, it’s deeply rewarding to believe that you and your fellow conference attendees are the only ones who know the real story behind the moon landing, Area 51, or the obvious example. Like doomsday cultists after the world doesn’t end, they misinterpret every new bit of information to make it fit into their existing worldview.

The underdog narrative is powerful and self-flattering – so be aware of that and be very very cautious. Oh, hell, be cautious of self-flattering narratives no matter what.

There’s a long history of conspiracy theories about vaccines, and it’s sometimes easier to recognize the paranoia from afar. In parts of Pakistan, Nigeria, and other countries, people are convinced that a polio eradication campaign is a Western plot to sterilize Muslim children. They know it is: They have it on good authority from leaders with famous names.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s elaborate conspiracy theory is just as delusional and dangerous. Rather than accepting the findings of the Institute of Medicine, the National Institute of Mental Health, or the American Academy of Pediatrics, Kennedy says the scientists are lying. He says vaccine-makers are intentionally poisoning kids and giving them autism. Only he and his fellow activists know the truth because journalists, although they may report aggressively on the National Security Agency, Defense Department, and Central Intelligence Agency, are cowed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Good one. Oh those brutal thugs at the CDC!

Kennedy said that he is “very much pro-vaccine” and that “vaccines have saved millions and millions of lives.” They will save even more lives if he and his colleagues stop spreading fear and misinformation about them. Kennedy is a passionate guy with practically unique name recognition, powerful connections, and the ability to command attention. He could reverse the course of the anti-vaccine movement today if he announced that his concern about vaccines had been well-intentioned,
but that research has shown that vaccines don’t cause autism after all.

All too reminiscent of Prince Charles, isn’t it – another abuser of his fame and name-recognition who pronounces on medical issues despite having no medical training or scientific education. Talk about privilege…

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

Syria: purported teenage atheist murdered

Jun 11th, 2013 10:54 am | By

He was fifteen. It’s not even clear that he was an atheist. (But what difference does it make? It’s not as if it’s any more acceptable to murder if they were correct in thinking he was an atheist.)

Coffee seller Mohammad Qataa was allegedly shot in the face and neck a day after being kidnapped by an Islamist group in Aleppo, called the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, once previously known as the Nusra Front.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the boy had been arguing with someone about the existence of God, and was heard to say: “Even if the Prophet Mohammad returns, I will not become a believer.”

But other sources suggested that the comment was misheard, and that the boy was actually arguing with another customer over giving him a free coffee, saying “Even if the Prophet returns, I will not give you a free coffee.”

Qataa was reportedly abducted and tortured for 24 hours, before being dragged into the middle of a crowded street and executed in front of his mother. Eyewitness told the Observatory they did not believe the men were Syrian.

The Observatory said in a statement: “People gathered around him and a member of the fighting brigade said: ‘Generous citizens of Aleppo, disbelieving in God is polytheism and cursing the prophet is a polytheism. Whoever curses even once will be punished like this’.

“He then fired two bullets from an automatic rifle in view of the crowd and in front of the boy’s mother and father, and got into a car and left.”

What a foul god those guys believe in.



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

The real culprits

Jun 10th, 2013 5:11 pm | By

You know that thing about all the raping going on in the US military? You know whose fault that is? I’ll tell you. It’s those pesky liberals trying to “take over the military.” That’s right! They cause all those guys in uniform to trip and fall onto women and get their penises all stuck accidentally up them. It’s a liberal holocaust type of deal.

Fox News contributor Allen West agreed with radio host Michael Savage’s assertion that “Khmer Rouge feminists” are attempting a “coup” against the military by proposing to change the military chain of command in sexual assault cases. West also used the sexual assault issue to criticize liberals for wanting to “put women into combat arms units” “so they can meet some sort of socially engineering goal or egalitarian goal.”

Savage, who hosts Cumulus Media Networks’ Savage Nation, began the June 4 segment by playing audio of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) talking about changing the military chain of command in sexual assault cases. After saying Gillibrand “sounds like a college chick at a dorm,” Savage told guest West: ”When I watch these Khmer Rouge feminists try to take over the military, this looked like an attempted coup to me, Colonel West.”

A college chick in a dorm? Really? That grown up? Sure she didn’t sound like a whiney little girl who can’t throw? Let’s be thorough about this.

The former Republican congressman also linked military sexual assaults to putting women in combat.

West stated: “But then ask yourself, now why would you want to put women into combat arms units, and the infantry units, and fighting units … Unfortunately, there are some that believe G.I. Jane is not just a movie, it’s something that could actually be implemented. And there may be exceptions to the rule, but you should not make a change in the standards, which I think is what you’ve heard General Martin Dempsey talk about doing just so they can meet some sort of socially engineering goal or egalitarian goal of the left, liberal progressives.”

That’s right. Egalitarianism is just a euphemism for rape, and rape is what women deserve if they go into the military. Col. West is a credit to the service.

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

Some doodle

Jun 10th, 2013 4:05 pm | By

Wow, the Google doodle today. If you haven’t already, click on the play button. At Google.

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

One of these things is not like the other

Jun 10th, 2013 7:18 am | By


It's odd nobody described the year long campaign of vilification aimed at Chris Mooney as bullying or harrassment. Oh right, no it's not...
Jeremy Stangroom
  1. It wasn’t year long. It was season long – summer 2009. It was about four months, June through September, while the promotion of Unscientific America was in high gear.
  2. It wasn’t incessant. It responded to articles Mooney, or Mooney and his co-author Sheryl Kirshenbaum, wrote attacking “new atheists.”
  3. It lacked a number of features of the harassment campaign that Stangroom is minimizing by tweeting this.

Still. I get that it probably felt like bullying and harassment to them, so in that sense perhaps it was. On the other hand Mooney was a Name at the time, in the wake of the success of his best-seller The Republican War on Science. He was able to get articles published in a lot of very visible mainstream outlets. He made new accusations about “new atheists” each time. I still don’t think it was particularly unfair for bloggers to respond to the accusations. I get that Mooney sees it differently though.

So I should be able to see the same thing about the people who harass me every day, right?

No. Because the two are not comparable. Thanks anyway.

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

Pick up the Skype

Jun 9th, 2013 4:43 pm | By

I mentioned yesterday that I was more cheerful about the Dublin conference, and added that it was because there had been some communication. I was cryptic about it because I’d forgotten to ask if it would be ok for me to mention it.

(Some buffoon pretended to think I was making a threat. Seriously – “there’s been some communication” – a threat.

I'm now happy about going to Ireland. There's been... a 'communication'. And I'm not telling you what is was, so BE AFRAID! #atheismplus

Not a communication, some communication. And why would that be a threat anyway? Jeezis.)

I repaired the omission today, so I can be less obscure: I’ve talked to Michael Nugent and Jane Donnelly, and it went well. (Nothing to BE AFRAID of there, either. It went well, meaning what that normally means, not what it means in a TV show about MI5.)

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

“To destroy skepticism and atheism”

Jun 9th, 2013 11:49 am | By

Another branch of Deep Rifts, this time nothing whatever to do with me (hooray!).

The story, as concisely as possible: before the Freedom From Religion Foundation had a Facebook page, someone set up a group called Freedom From Religion Foundation as a place for fans of FFRF to hang out. It apparently became rather…contentious as time went on, and meanwhile FFRF got itself a Facebook page. On Friday the publicist for FFRF posted there.

My name is Lauryn and I’m the publicist for the FFRF. Eric and other admin have been kind enough to agree to shut down this group  by June 30 and start a new group. The reason for this is because our pages have been commonly confused.

We know this is disappointing and we apologize for the inconvenience. However, as an organization we had no choice. Eric’s group although known as “Friends of FFRF,” is actually known as and officially registered as “FFRF”. They cannot change the name based on the size of members. It was was created before an official FFRF page existed. Because FFRF is our official name, we must keep full control of all domains including just that name.

As you’ve mentioned, people forget about the pages they “like” and check them less frequently than groups. However, at our FFRF page you can find official press releases, updated news and photos from inside the FFRF etc. Our page is moderated by staff and volunteers to prevent an …overwhelming amount of proselytizing from trolls.

The good news is that Eric is creating a new “Friends of FFRF” group. We urge you to join the new group created by these folks. We would also appreciate if you follow our official page at Thanks so much for your support!!

All good. But guess what – it’s being spun as politicalcorrectnessgonemad and ftbulliesplusshuttingeveryoneup. “MosesZD” spins it that way on Michael Nugent’s post about the attempt to get me kicked out of the Dublin conference:

This link: was to a friends of the FFRF group – a FB page for friends of the group but is not officially representative of them.

It was shut down by A+. Maiforpeace, The Lousy Cannuk and others who waged a false-flagging campaign.

Now do you see what we’re up against? Now do you see the problem? Or is it going to be more of the golden mean fallacy as A+ strives to destroy skepticism and atheism with their intolerance of others and desire to inflict their ideas of ideological purity on others.

Not true. Just made up, out of whole cloth. Jason once argued with some people on one thread there, and that’s it – the sum total of his involvement with that group.

We’re like the Freemasons, right? We have a secret hand in everything. We are hidden and dangerous. Be afraid.

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

Defense attorneys made the shocking argument

Jun 9th, 2013 10:52 am | By

According to Reality Check, the Texas case didn’t happen the way it was described.

It is not in dispute that the defendant, Ezekiel Gilbert, paid the victim, Lenora Frago, $150 for 30 minutes of escort services advertised on Craigslist. After Frago refused to have sex with him, the defendant shot her. Frago was paralyzed and the defendant was charged with aggravated assault.  When she died seven months later Gilbert was indicted for murder instead.

At trial, defense attorneys made the shocking argument that Gilbert was justified in shooting Frago because she had stolen from him and Texas law permits the use of deadly force to defend one’s property at night. That a defense was raised in this case based on Texas’ awful defense of property law is certainly newsworthy and even more reason to reform that law. But there is no evidence that the jury acquitted based on the defense of property law in the first place.

It’s a horrible defense, Bridgette Dunlap agrees, but that doesn’t mean the defense shouldn’t use it.

As Professor Michael W. Martin of Fordham Law’s Federal Litigation Clinic reminded me: “If the law allows the defense, the lawyer must use it, if it is viable, unless there is a good strategic reason not to. Otherwise, it is ineffective assistance of counsel. If the lawyer feels like he is ethically barred from using a legal, viable defense, he should ask to be relieved.”

That’s how an adversarial system works, hence all those rape trials where the defense tries hard to discredit the victim.

The problem is that the law does allow the defense.

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

To the neglect of their duties in the home

Jun 9th, 2013 8:09 am | By

I don’t think I knew, before yesterday, that Ireland’s constitution has a clause about women and “their duties in the home.”

It’s in Article 41, starting on page 160 of the government version.

2° The State recognises the Family as the natural primary and fundamental unit group of Society, and as a moral institution possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights, antecedent and superior to all positive law.

That’s an alarming sentence already. It sounds Vaticanesque, but I haven’t been able to find anything from the Vatican that says, as that sentence seems to, that the family is “superior to” (and thus immune from?) the law. I have a feeling I’ve written about the idea before, too, but I haven’t been able to find that either. It’s a terrible idea, though. We’re all very familiar with how common it is for someone - especially someone female - to need the protection of the law because ”the family” is intent on killing her, or beating her up or locking her in her room forever or keeping her out of school. Yes the law is cold, and no substitute for a loving family, but it can be a much-needed protection from an enraged family.

1° In particular, the State recognises that by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved.

2° The State shall, therefore, endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home.

Wow. The Constitution tells the women of Ireland that they have duties in the home, which they should not neglect.

Yes, Ireland needs to empower its women through secularism!

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

Reasons not to be a prostitute in Texas

Jun 8th, 2013 5:56 pm | By

Prepare to turn pale with horror, then scarlet with rage. Prepare also to send a message to the Texas Attorney General.

A court in Texas just exonerated a man who shot and killed a woman who had refused to have sex with him. She’s dead, and he will serve no time at all.

Here’s what happened: Ezekiel Gilbert shot and killed a Craigslist escort after she left without having sex with him. His lawyer argued that since he had paid her $150 for the evening, he was justified under Texas law in shooting her because state law allows people “to use deadly force to recover property during a nighttime theft.”

It’s legal in Texas to kill a woman for refusing to have sex?

Are you serious?

For that matter, it’s legal in Texas to kill someone for stealing $150? Provided it happens at night?

What is wrong with them?

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

Oh look, blue sky

Jun 8th, 2013 3:36 pm | By

I’m much more optimistic about the Dublin conference now* – and thus able to be excited about it again. It’s going to tackle important subjects, and Ireland needs it. Lucky lucky me to get to be involved.

There’s a bit of privilege for you.

The clouds really are parting here, the band of blue really is bright, the colorful sails on the many sailboats on the Sound are festive.

*Because there’s been some communication.

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

An invisible adjective

Jun 8th, 2013 9:53 am | By

I’m still thinking about “privilege” and its discontents. It interestes me, for several reasons, not just the ones that have to do with Ron’s talk at Women in Secularism 2 and the disagreements and battles that ensued.

Sometimes (often in fact) people hear things that aren’t intended in the use of any particular claim or word or phrase. Words and phrases can be used in many ways, some of them less reasonable than others.

Is that enough platitudes to get us started?

I do have a point. I’m thinking that one thing people who bristle at the word “privilege” hear is an added “unearned” in front of it. That can be massively annoying if one has in fact earned the privilege in question (or the privilege one thinks is in question even though in fact it isn’t).

Maybe you can see where I’m heading.

Often these discussions happen between men who have some power and influence and women who have much less. The tricky part there is that usually the men have the power and influence because they’ve earned them. Not always, and even less always all of it – the more power and influence you get, the more you can leverage it to get more and to squelch people who are trying to compete with you, sometimes in illegitimate ways. But apart from inherited “nobility” and people born rich and the like, usually power and influence (and piles of cash) have been earned at least to some extent. In some cases they’ve been earned with real talent and effort.

The word “privilege” can sound to such people like a denial of the earning. Sometimes it even is that.

That’s got to be annoying. You know? “Yes, I’m Mr Big, but I’m Mr Big because I’ve written ten critically-acclaimed best-sellers about science and atheism. Is that a bad thing? And by the way I’m not preventing you from trying to do the same thing. Go ahead!”

So that’s one item. I’d say more but I have an appointment, so later.

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

Alabama: pastors divorce the Boy Scouts

Jun 8th, 2013 8:23 am | By

Some Alabama pastors say they don’t want any pesky Boy Scout troops meeting in their churches now that the organization has gone all queer.

The Rev. Mike Shaw, of the First Baptist Church of Pelham and former president of the Alabama Baptist Convention, says his church will no longer sponsor Troop 404 after the policy takes place next year.

“We’re not doing it out of hatred. The teachings of the scripture are very clear on this. We’re doing it because it violates the clear teaching of scripture,” Shaw told the Birmingham News.

And obviously a three thousand year old book is right about everything, and its “clear teaching” must be obeyed, and never mind what actual thinking about the issue might come up with instead.



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