Notes and Comment Blog

Not separated by partitions or walls

Sep 28th, 2014 9:49 am | By

Cape Town had a liberal, open mosque for a short time, but it has now been closed.

South Africa’s first gay-friendly mosque, which also allows women to lead prayers, is being ordered close.

A City of Cape Town councillor says the newly established Open Mosque has violated municipal by-laws.

The mosque officially opened its doors on Friday despite criticism from members of the local Muslim community.

Note the discreet bullying in that last sentence; note the covert way it frames the progressive mosque as an intruder and a foreigner; note the veiled way it sides with the reactionaries by calling them members of the local Muslim community; note the way the BBC always sides with membership and localism and community when it comes to issues to do with Islam; note how very reactionary and obstructive that is, and how creepily unfair to the people who want to be treated as equals. Note that the BBC is subtly siding with the reactionaries against gays and women.

News24 tells us more about the Open Mosque, September 19:

Cape Town residents exchanged strong words about “open religion” outside what proclaims to be South Africa’s first gender-equal, non-sectarian mosque on Friday.

Around 10 Muslim men in religious robes stood in front of the gate of the Wynberg open mosque, founded by Dr Taj Hargey, refusing to let people in for its inaugural prayer session at 13:00.

One of the mosque-goers, who did not identify himself, pushed through and shouted at the men.

“South Africa has got a great Constitution. What did you fight apartheid for? Not this crap!” he said, before managing to squeeze through the closing door.

The men moved to the side but still voiced their displeasure at a large throng of reporters and TV cameras.

Shaheem Vardien, from Manenberg, said Hargey was creating “mischief” among Christians, Jews, and Muslims.

By not treating women and gays as obvious inferiors and subordinates.

Hargey’s mosque welcomed all sects of Muslims, non-Muslims and women to take part in the sermon.

Public order policing vans lined the road close to the unassuming green industrial building, sandwiched between auto-repair workshops.

At 13:00, a group of people entered the mosque from a steel gate on the side of the building, accompanied by three police officers and the media.

Inside, people laid their boots and takkies on metal shelves and kneeled on an emerald green carpet laid across half the cement floor.

Women in headscarves gingerly made their way to chairs or the carpet, not separated by partitions or walls.

Imagine the horror! Women not shoved to the back but treated like human beings.

But that won’t do, so Cape Town has now shut the mosque down. Brilliant.


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

More barley

Sep 27th, 2014 5:09 pm | By

A happy piece of news for a change. Three Irish students have won a global science research competition at the GoogleScience Fair 2014 in San Francisco. Also, they’re all girls. Girls, I tell you!

Ciara Judge, Emer Hickey and Sophie Healy-Thow from Kinsale Community School, Cork were named the grand prize winner in the 15 to 16-year-old age category for a project which examined the use of natural bacteria to increase crop output.

They were inspired to try and help improve food production, particularly in third world countries, after learning about a famine in the Horn of Africa in 2011.

The basis of their project focuses on a naturally occurring bacteria in soil called Diazotroph.

Their research showed that if Diazotroph is present, it accelerates the germination process of high-value crops such as barley and oats, potentially boosting output by up to 50 per cent.

How’s that for a thing to get done when you’re 16? Increasing food production – you can’t get much more useful than that.

Using naturally occurring Rhizobium strains of the Diazotroph bacteria family, they carried out an extensive study of their impact on the germination rate and subsequent growth of the cereal crops wheat, oats and barley.

Detailed statistical analysis of their results indicated that these bacterial strains accelerated crop germination by up to 50 per cent and increased barley yields by 74 per cent.

Such a cereal crop performance improvement could significantly assist combatting the growing global food poverty challenge and benefit the environment by reducing fertilizer use.

Makes me feel all soppy.

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

A great way to make a movement

Sep 27th, 2014 12:46 pm | By

So Katha’s article is online now, so I can point to it. She talked to me when she was working on it.

Here’s a great way to make a movement: have your most famous and powerful public figures obsess over Henry Higgins’s famous question, “Why can’t a woman be more like a man?” Why aren’t they more into critical thinking, argument, logic? more rational? Why do they accuse a man of sexual harassment when he’s just trying to chat them up in an elevator at 4 in the morning? Why do they get drunk and then accuse men of rape? Then, having alienated a huge number of actual and potential members, to whom you sound arrogant, vain, sexist and clueless, look around and wonder, Gee, where are the women? They must be even less rational than we thought!

Well quite. People can bluster and fume all they like, but that is what has been happening. It’s no good pretending that Dawkins has not alienated a huge number of women and feminist men (among others).

At the grassroots level, women who speak up against harassment or sexism in the movement have been the target of disgusting attacks online, the sort of vicious obscenity and violent threats notoriously visited upon Anita Sarkeesian and other women in the gaming and tech worlds. If a recipient becomes angry or upset, that just proves she was weak and crazy to begin with. Let me tell you, I’ve seen a tiny sample of the missives directed at Melody Hensley, executive director of the Center for Inquiry–DC, and I can see why she suffers from PTSD. “I receive harassment all day long every day on social media. I also receive threats daily. I have had dozens of videos made about me, harassing me,” she says. “Everything I write online is compiled by my harassers. Even though I know the Internet is public, it’s eerie being watched every moment. I have had people call my home and tell me that they were going to kill me.”

Again – it’s no good pretending all that is just make-believe.

I don’t think it’s healthy for the secular movements to be so focused on a handful of male stars, but here is where some firm leadership might be useful. Instead, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris talk as if their obnoxious fanboys were all that stood between the values of the Enlightenment and the barbarous darkness of feminist fascism. And they’re happy to make common cause against feminists with whoever’s available. As Dawkins tweeted on September 7, “The ‘Big Sister is Watching You’ Thought Police hate @CHSommers’ Factual Feminism, and you can see why.” That’s the same Christina Hoff Sommers who has a mutual admiration society with noted Enlightenment philosopher Rush Limbaugh. If she’s spoken up against the misogyny and willful ignorance of the Christian right, I’ve missed it.

Then she moves on to the joint statement and its almost immediate aftermath, and Sam Harris’s “it’s more of a guy thing” moment. Then she says that at this rate she’d rather be a Catholic than be part of the atheist movement.

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

More globality

Sep 27th, 2014 12:24 pm | By

The Secular “Global Institute” has added a new fellow. He’s in Australia, so that’s a huge boost for this absurd little institute’s claim to be “global” when it’s actually almost entirely American.

They’ve been filling out the website, too. There’s a Newsletter page, with news stories on it. One news story on that page is titled Roundup of Recent Activities, Honors, and Events of Our SGI Famous Team. Yes really; I’m not making it up; that’s actually the title.

We are pleased to report that many SGI Fellows and communicators have made the news and are engaged in spreading secularism to our growing non-religious brothers and sisters worldwide.

Ouch. Jeezis. Can’t they get a better press person than that? Our growing brothers and sisters? The brothers and sisters are getting bigger, are they?

  • Michael Shermer’s latest book “The Believing Brain“In this, his magnum opus, one of the world’s best known skeptics and critical thinkers Dr. Michael Shermer—founding publisher of Skeptic magazine and perennial monthly columnist (“Skeptic”) for Scientific American—presents his comprehensive theory on how beliefs are born, formed, nourished, reinforced, challenged, changed, and extinguished. This book synthesizes Dr. Shermer’s 30 years of research to answer the questions of how and why we believe what we do in all aspects of our lives, from our suspicions and superstitions to our politics, economics, and social beliefs.

Uh huh. Good choice. Top guy; super-famous; one of the greats. Well done.

Gettin’ more global every day.

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

Unethical and sleazy?

Sep 27th, 2014 12:10 pm | By

Now the anti-feminism faction in atheoskepticism is attacking Katha Pollitt. Who’s next? Barbara Ehrenreich? Rebecca Goldstein? Susan Jacoby?

The Nation ‏@thenation Sep 26
What is wrong with the men at the helm of the Atheist movement?

Miranda Celeste Hale

.@thenation Nothing. & Now it’s my turn to ask a question: why did you run this sneering, unethical, & ideologically-motivated attack piece?

iamcuriousblue ‏@iamcuriousblue 14h
@mirandachale Probably the same reason @thenation ran this sneering, unethical, ideologically-motivated attack piece …

Miranda Celeste Hale ‏@mirandachale 13h
@iamcuriousblue What a nasty & reactionary article. I’m not familiar w/much of Pollitt’s work but what I’ve read has been unethical & sleazy

Ian N ‏@IanNieves 13h
@mirandachale @thenation Katha Pollott is an ideological hack who festers in innuendo, smear & smut. The Nation is shit sans Hitchens.

Unethical and sleazy. Really? I have a feeling what Hale means by “not familiar w/much of Pollitt’s work” is “completely ignorant of any of Pollitt’s work except for this one piece.”

At least Katha actually is all the things she calls herself in her Twitter profile, unlike some people.

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

Openly Secular

Sep 27th, 2014 11:36 am | By

Kimberly Winston reports on the Openly Secular campaign.

A new coalition of atheists, humanists and other nonreligious groups is taking a page from the gay rights movement and encouraging people to admit they are “openly secular.”

The coalition — unprecedented in its scope — is broadening a trend of reaching out to religious people and religious groups by making the secular label a catchall for people who are not religious.

I’m not sure how making the secular label a catchall for people who are not religious is reaching out to religious people, but maybe the idea is that “secular” comes across as less antagonistic than “atheist.” People can of course be both secular and religious under one meaning of the word – but that one meaning isn’t the only one, so we get clashes and arguments.

The campaign, “Openly Secular: Opening Minds, Changing Hearts,” was unveiled at the 65th annual gathering of the Religion Newswriters Association here on Sept. 20. It includes a website, resources for families, employers and clergy, and a YouTube channel featuring both prominent and rank-and-file nonbelievers announcing their names followed by the declaration, “I am openly secular.”

I’ve been asked to do one of those videos, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet.

To raise awareness of discrimination against nonbelievers, Openly Secular looked to the “It Gets Better” project launched several years ago by gay rights activists. In that campaign, openly gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people sat down in front of a video camera and told their stories of discrimination and bullying and encouraged closeted LGBT people to do the same. Many sociologists credit the “It Gets Better” project with the growing acceptance of same-sex relationships.

One hint? If the goal is to increase acceptance of non-religious people, it would probably be a good idea not to keep broadcasting brutally callous and wrong opinions on rape. Just a thought.

But as innovative as the campaign claims to be, it has a major hurdle. One of the main backers of the campaign is the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, headed by the famous evolutionary biologist who is one of the most outspoken critics of religion and religious people. Project Reason, founded by vocal anti-theist and New York Times best-seller Sam Harris, is also a supporter.

Openly Secular organizers are confident that hurdle can be overcome. Robyn Blumner, executive director of the Richard Dawkins Foundation, told reporters the Oxford don has many friends who are religious.

Does he have many friends who have been raped?

A frequent criticism of the atheism movement is that it is not diverse enough, but Openly Secular’s coalition includes humanistic Jewish, African-American, Hispanic and ex-Muslim groups. The campaign also has an international component. Groups from Canada, England and the Philippines have signed on.

Cool. Now if it could just fix The Woman Problem…


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

Guest post: Notice the contrapositive

Sep 27th, 2014 11:12 am | By

Originally a comment by doubtthat on To testify & jail a man.

Two things:

1) By the time Dawkins slouched his way to that tweet, he was in full retreat mode. All of initial tweets were from the perspective of concern for the accused: Oh, what an injustice that someone would be jailed with NO EVIDENCE and only on the word of a victim who testifies that they remember nothing (something that has never happened); it’s wrong to rape, certainly, but isn’t it also wrong to accuse someone when you’re drunk…blah blah.

Then, probably being somewhat aware of how fucking wrong that was, he started to slowly shift his point to glib, disingenuous “concern” that the poor victims just won’t be believed by juries. THAT’S what he’s really worried about — never mind that the behavior of an average jury in the US has nothing to do with whether or not WE believe victims, or, specifically, a particular woman.

2) I pointed this out on Nugent’s blog as was accused of generating a straw man:

If you want to be in a position to testify & jail a man, don’t get drunk.

Notice the contrapositive of that statement:

If you do get drunk (have gotten drunk) then you’re not in a position to testify or not in a position to jail a man.

The Dawkins defenders said over and over that No, No, NO, our sweet leader was not suggesting that women who had been drinking should stay silent or should be precluded from testifying, yet there it is. A statement and its contrapositive are logical equivalent, and Dawkins is saying that the only condition under which a woman has been drinking is she’s unable to “jail a man,” meaning that she should either stay silent or expect to not be believed.

I assume Dawkins understands first order logic, so he is responsible for the contrapositive of his statement.

As a general rule, if you find yourself arguing that a properly formed contrapositive is a “straw man” or some voodoo like manipulation of a person’s statement, you should either refrain from describing yourself as rational or head over to the local community college for a symbolic logic course before making further claims.

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

Guest post: He mentioned that academic philosophy was actually even worse

Sep 27th, 2014 10:37 am | By

Originally a comment by guest on Being a New Yorker.

I’m an engineer, and happened to run into a senior male academic philosopher at a conference of interest to both of us. We somehow got to talking about the underrepresentation of women in engineering, and he mentioned that academic philosophy was actually even worse in this regard, and academics are trying to develop ways to address it. It sounds like a ‘Harris-style’ issue in that although this guy didn’t get it I wouldn’t be surprised if the bullying and condescending nature of a lot of what is accepted as academic discourse in this discipline (granted men take this stance with each other, not exclusively with women) can drive out women who either don’t appreciate it or don’t put up with that kind of behaviour–and I have to say if my conversation with this particular person was any indication of how people behaved in his department I’d have found another discipline toot sweet.

PS I’m female and this was in the UK.

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

To testify & jail a man

Sep 26th, 2014 6:15 pm | By

Also – still on that mind-exploding tweet by the atheist pope – notice what a very peculiar way to describe a rape that is. Notice that it leaves out the rape altogther and just makes it a matter of wanting “to be in a position to testify & jail a man, don’t get drunk.” To jail a man for what? Oooooooh she doesn’t care, that bitch, she just wants to jail a man, because that’s how bitchez are.

.@mrgregariously Exactly. If you want to drive, don’t get drunk. If you want to be in a position to testify & jail a man, don’t get drunk.

Nobody wants any of this. Nobody wants to be tricked into getting drunk, nobody wants to get raped, nobody wants to be in a position to testify about the rape. Women want to not be raped, instead. Giving them advice on how to be in a condition to testify about their rape is no help at all. What about telling the man not to trick the woman into getting drunk and not to rape her? What about that for an idea? What about not implying that women are just champing at the bit to jail “a man” just for the hell of it because they’re all ball-busters? What about not keeping all your concern for “a man” while shitting all over the woman he raped? What about that for an idea?

Ugh. I feel dirty.

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

What’s the difference between Northwestern and TAM?

Sep 26th, 2014 6:01 pm | By

In reading more background on the Leiter story I find interesting things.

Like this post at Feminist Philosophers last March.

Here are two articles from the Tribune and The Daily Northwestern discussing how Ludlow will no longer be teaching this semester, after students planned a walk-out of his class.

Also, here is a link to a Facebook event for the original walkout. It shows 500+ students “attending”, which I am guessing is a mixture of people who were planning on going and people who wanted to show support for the endeavor. You can read a statement of their protest there.

From that protest statement:

“We are upset that the University allows a professor who has been found in violation of this policy to i) continue his employment at Northwestern and ii) be in contact with undergraduate students, graduate students, and TAs.”

You can compare that to this quote from the Daily Northwestern article:

“[The administration] understood why people would be uncomfortable taking classes with Professor Ludlow,” Stephens [a student] said. “But they were also saying that’s not the view of all students. Some students want to take this particular class.”


Contra the viewpoint of the administration as expressed by Stephens in the quote above, this walk-out does not seem to be about individual students feeling “uncomfortable” taking a class with Ludlow.  Rather, as they put it in their protest statement, students are upset that the university’s would choose to have Ludlow retain his full teaching and mentoring duties with students even after he was found in violation of the sexual harassment policy.

That sounds familiar. I open the Tribune article.

A Northwestern University philosophy professor who was recently sued on allegations he sexually attacked a student two years ago will not teach the rest of the quarter, the university said today.

Alan Cubbage, a university spokesman, said the chair of the philosophy department will teach the two remaining lectures of the “Philosophy of Psychology” course in Peter Ludlow’s absence. The move comes a day after dozens of students protested how Northwestern handles complaints of sexual misconduct against faculty and its decision not to fire Ludlow.

Yes, that sounds familiar.

A Northwestern student sued Ludlow last month over allegations he got her drunk and sexually attacked her in 2012. She also filed a separate lawsuit against Northwestern, alleging the school mishandled her complaint about the professor.

So does that.

I wonder if any philosophers have taken to Twitter to muse about drinking and driving. That thought led me to a tweet of Richard Dawkins’s that I hadn’t seen before – part of the immortal series of “don’t get drunk and get raped” tweets. This one’s a real masterpiece – I can totally see why Michael Nugent is spending so much time and effort and so many words scolding people who say he’s a liability.

Richard Dawkins
.@mrgregariously Exactly. If you want to drive, don’t get drunk. If you want to be in a position to testify & jail a man, don’t get drunk.

Isn’t that just a motherfucking gem? If you want to be able to say that a man got you drunk and raped you, tough shit, because he got you drunk, so you can’t testify, so hahahahaha sucks to be you. If you want to get raped by a man who tricked you into drinking more than you meant to and realized you were, then don’t bother reporting him afterwards because we’ll all just laugh at you and make stupid mean self-regarding bro-defending tweets about you so you’re screwed. See what I did there hahaha?

Jesus. He’s worse than I realized.

What a lot of rot there is under the woodwork.


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

Being a New Yorker

Sep 26th, 2014 5:23 pm | By

Brian Leiter and the Philosophy Gourmet Report are having what one might call a Dawkins moment.

Brian Leiter may be a law professor, a philosopher, and the editor of an influential report that ranks universities’ philosophy departments. But when it comes to dealing with people he regards as being out of line, a different feature comes to the fore: “I’m a New Yorker.”

Over the past year, for example, the Manhattan native has told one fellow philosopher that she is “a disgrace” who works for “a shit department,” has threatened to sue another he dismissed on Twitter as a “sanctimonious arse,” and has suggested on one of his three blogs that still another professor should leave the profession “and perhaps find a field where nonsense is permitted.”

This year more than 270 philosophers have signed a statement in which they refuse to complete the surveys or otherwise to assist Mr. Leiter in assembling his rankings as long as they remain under his control.

The statement specifically protests Mr. Leiter’s treatment of Carrie Ichikawa Jenkins, a professor of philosophy at the University of British Columbia who was the target of his “sanctimonious arse” tweet. It argues that Mr. Leiter’s “derogatory and intimidating remarks” to Ms. Jenkins have damaged her health and her ability to work, partly due to the power he wields as editor of the report.

Hmm. Have any Irish bloggers come forward to say maybe she’s doing it for publicity?

Mr. Leiter remained dismissive of the recent wave of criticism of him, which he attributed partly to feminist philosophers irritated by his defense of the due-process rights of scholars accused of sexual harassment, and partly to philosophers who periodically rebel against The Philosophical Gourmet because their own departments rank poorly.

Oh good, another front in the War With Feminists.

Mr. Leiter attributed some of the criticism of him to a “cultural gap” that he said had developed in his argumentative field as younger philosophers had become heavily involved in social media and engaged in what he called “tone policing,” denouncing online comments they see as offensive or uncivil.

How about derogatory? Any discussion of that?

Some emails he sent have been made public and they’re…not very collegial.

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

Thanks for all the whatever that was

Sep 26th, 2014 12:19 pm | By

Tauriq Moosa has a beautiful, and deeply sad, post on a goodbye to all that about the atheist movement and what it had meant to an ex-Muslim.

I can’t escape the weird identity I have and it’s this identity which makes me so angry at the leading figures – i.e. white men – of a movement that changed my life. But I’m more fucking angry at the sycophantic nature of a movement that was supposed to have abandoned sanctity for reason and evidence.

I wanted to never speak about Richard Dawkins – or rather the environment that views him with infallibility.

I wanted to avoid saying anything about Sam Harris. I got what I wanted from their books – both books, which I loved and which had a profound, life-changing affect on me. For the better. Dawkins made it safe and sane for me to question and engage; Harris conveyed a civil focus on deep questions that required evidence to engage in. Hitchens conveyed beauty and brilliance in the secular outlook, which helped me engage with my parents as I left. It came at a time when my parents divorced, when I had no friends, and no direction. It was a confusing horrible mess, yet here was Dawkins waxing poetic about meaning, here was Hitchens pointing to poetry and to Salman Rushdie.

But those same tools they used to carve out a path now remain clutched firmly in their hands, with a refusal to cut out the poison that sits within so many of us.

And it didn’t have to be that way. They didn’t have to dig in their heels, they didn’t have to get furious whenever a woman dared to talk back. They didn’t have to use their fame and status to lay waste to everything around them.

Including me. Including bloody me. And I’m not the one with honorary degrees, renowned expertise, PhD’s, New York Times pieces, best-selling books. But it can still be me.

Because I’m a man, who has never experienced sexism, who doesn’t know what stupid, shitty, sexist, misogynist thing I might say – today, tomorrow (but hopefully never).

Because I don’t know everything.

Because I don’t know what phrasing might sound like; and, even if I didn’t intend to be a sexist shit, no matter how many articles I write against sexism, doesn’t excuse one (severe) fuckup. Digging in my heels indicates I care more about maintaining an image of infallibility than that I’m a critical person willing to admit:

“I stepped over the border of ignorance and into bigotry. I never intended to hurt or harm. I would never want to do that to friends or innocent people. Please accept my apologies for saying something fucking stupid. I deserve your reprimands for being another man saying something that sounds like it’s from the 18th century.”

Because I hope to never have friends who say I can never be sexist, never be wrong, because I’m their buddy.

It wouldn’t be so bad if they were friends who say “I’m surprised he said something sexist, I never would have expected that.” But to say “I’ve never heard him say anything sexist” and treat that as demonstrating total non-sexism? Oy.

As a brown person in the atheist movement, I’ve never felt particularly welcome. Seeing the tactics of white men defendng other white men from obvious bigotry that isn’t obvious to them – and, worse, seeing their sycophantic followers convey these men’s infallibility – has never made my view more entrenched: I want nothing to do with this “movement”.

I thank all these amazing people – yes, including Dawkins and Harris – for what they’ve done. I thank them from the bottom of my pathetic “social justice warrior” “feminazi” heart. But this is no longer a space I want to be part of when the first lesson they taught me – question yourself, question your most deeply entrenched views, question how you might wrong – is now no longer allowed to be applied to them.

Adam Lee continues to be called a liar, without anyone saying what he’s lying about. Ophelia who has been watching Dawkins and similar highly prominent folks for years is declared an opportunistic, click-bait blogger. Forget her books, her articles, her columns. Greta Christina gets told by Sam Harris’ fans that she should shut up about sexism (again, not Sam Harris’ fault, but the culture of inclusivity, which is my major focus). On and on, it goes. Silence, lies, betrayal. No. No more.

Goodbye to all that.



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

Perhaps publicity trumps

Sep 26th, 2014 11:54 am | By

Ew. Michael Nugent tweeted a link to an article about how to deal with online harassment a few hours ago.

Michael Nugent ‏@micknugent
How the Irish police helped a victim of online harassment and abuse

The article is by “Doctor DooM.”

I am the only person who writes for this website regularly who uses a pseudonym.  I do so for reasons that are my own, but there are many valid reasons why someone would want to do this.

They may express opinions that would be unpopular at their workplace. They may be well known by an alternative name, professionally or personally. They may have had something happen to them that legally they can’t appear to talk about. In the case of one person I know, they may be a potential new public figure, and their online output might be tightly controlled by their management.

Some people might say – and this is the argument that Ophelia Benson seems to be making in a discussion with Michael Nugent online – that all of the above is irrelevant.  People who are nasty online should be exposed.  Abusers should be dragged into the harsh light of day.  Perhaps other people’s civil liberties are less important than that?

No, I don’t say, and no, the argument I’m making is not, that all of the above is irrelevant. I understand that people have reasons for remaining anonymous online. What I say, and the argument I make, is that people shouldn’t use anonymity as a tool with which to harass and threaten other, non-anonymous people in complete freedom from any kind of consequences. That’s what I say, that’s the argument that I make. And no, I don’t say that “people who are nasty online should be exposed.” But people who carry on sustained campaigns of abuse, under the shelter of anonymity? Yes: they should not be able to do that. That’s what I say.

Doctor DooM has received a lot of harassment.

So when we see people like Rebecca Watson railing against the unstoppable tides of sexism and hatred being shunted their way and playing the victim, I have to ask a question.

What are you doing about it?

When it happened to me, of course, there was initial upset. It’s not easy to deal with the fact that people can have that much hate in their hearts. It’s even harder to deal with the fact that it is aimed at you. What have I done to deserve this? Is it my fault? I have untempered sympathy for people in this situation.

After I passed this initial shock though, I went to the Gardaí.

After all, if there are threats of violence and death being made in comments, these are actual crimes. It should be reported. All of it.

And you know what? According to Doctor DooM, the Gardaí dealt with it. Problem solved!

That’s very nice, but Rebecca doesn’t live in Ireland, and neither do I. What happens when you go to the Gardaí to report online harassment has no bearing on what happens when you go to the US police to report online harassment. Also, threats of violence and death are not all there is to online harassment, and that should not be the standard. We should not be expected to put up with harassment that’s not threats of violence and death.

I actually think this is important: why are people writing blogs about this, going on and on about the abuse they receive? The first rule of the internet is don’t feed the trolls. The endless articles discussing and highlighting that vitriol and now even a Senator bringing it up- it’s all fuel. It is, at this point, jaw dropping that people don’t know how to deal with this. Ignore them. It starves them of oxygen. All they want- their entire goal- is a reaction.

Perhaps, publicity trumps the desire to actually help yourself and others.

There you go. We do this for “publicity.”

That’s what Michael “civility” Nugent saw fit to flag up on Twitter.

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

Known for her pro bono legal and humanitarian work

Sep 26th, 2014 9:24 am | By

Islamic State in Iraq publicly murdered a human rights lawyer in Mosul last week.

Samira al-Nuaimy, known locally for her pro bono legal and humanitarian work, was executed last week, according to rights activists and residents. The United Nations said that she was killed in a public square and that her body showed signs of torture when it was returned to her family.

Heading for Utopia, where all the people who do good work have been murdered and the people who do bad things are in control.

“Samira was not the first,” said Suha Oda, a 29-year-old social activist from Mosul who has moved to the Kurdish-administered area nearby but monitors human rights issues in the city. Four women have suffered a similar fate over the past month, she said, including three doctors who were executed last week. Iraqi media reports said the women had been killed because they refused to treat a wounded Islamic State fighter.

The world of death and violence and coercion.

The Islamic State did not publicly acknowledge Nuaimy’s killing, but U.N. officials said a sharia court had sentenced her to death for apostasy — or abandoning the faith.

Nuaimy had sought to run in the elections but did not end up competing, Oda said. The lawyer had spoken out on her Facebook page against the militants’ destruction of historic sites, the U.N. office for human rights said. The Islamic State has blown up ancient tombs, ripped down
statues and destroyed Shiite mosques — which it considers idolatrous or heretical under its extreme interpretation of Islam.

“She refused the terrorists and Daesh,” Oda said, using the Arabic acronym for the group.

So they killed her. Submit or die – those are the choices.

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

Football gives you structure in your life

Sep 25th, 2014 5:50 pm | By

One of the two high school students convicted of rape in the Steubenville case has served his sentence and is now

back on the football team.

For some, Richmond’s reinstatement to the team earlier this month was a disturbing signal that the celebration of football victories still prevails.

“The message that it sends is that Steubenville High School doesn’t care about rape,” Alexandria Goddard, a social media consultant who helped generate attention to the original case, writes in an e-mail to the Monitor. The district has failed to say specifically what steps it has taken toward “addressing the issue of rape culture,” she says.

On the other hand there’s such a thing as rehabilitation, and remorse, and progress.

Yes but on the other other hand, playing football isn’t a human right. Football is all mixed up with glory and machismo and aggression, and all too often with not giving a flying fuck about some little girl who got drunk at a party.

At a recent meeting of the Steubenville City Council, a local citizen reportedly objected to [Ma'lik] Richmond being given the privilege of participating in football.

Council member Kenneth Davis defended the school’s decision.

“Who are we to condemn this young man, when he stood up publicly with tears in his eyes and apologized?” Mr. Davis said in a phone interview with the Monitor. “I’m not taking what he did lightly, but he was 16…. Football gives you structure in your life…. If I didn’t have football in my life as a kid, I could be a street hoodlum myself.”

Ok wait – what kind of “structure”? If it’s a kind of structure that doesn’t encourage boys to understand that they don’t get to rape people, what good is it?

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

Because of the feministic culture we live in

Sep 25th, 2014 12:46 pm | By

A loving father.

Meet Annalise. She is my only little princess. She is a gift from God (Ps 127:3) and I do my best to savor every waking second with her. Even as I type this post, she is sitting on my lap. She’s five years old and, like every loving father, I’ll be forced to give her away one day. Until then, my wife and I have the immense opportunity to train her and prepare her to be a woman of God. More specifically, we have the mandate to prepare her to be a wife and mother. To be honest, I have a deep concern for her because of the feministic culture we live in.

Let’s face it; feminism has so influenced American culture that it has infiltrated the Christian culture just as much in more subtle ways. The average Christian woman is not trained from the home, nor encouraged, to find a husband as an alternative to going to college and starting a career. This is sad and unbiblical.

So this guy thinks that a “Christian woman” is required to get married instead of getting an education and having a career. Not just that he thinks that’s a better option, but that that’s what being a Christian woman is, and that not being that is “unbiblical” – whatever the hell that means. (It’s unbiblical to fail to dash your enemies’ infants’ heads against the walls, too.)

When I even suggest the possibility of not sending my daughter to college, I almost always get the stink eye. This grieves me because we have allowed the culture to sear our conscience to the point where the plain reading of Scripture is scoffed at by professing Christians. This is why I have a drive to see our churches be more passionate about Titus 2 than conforming to the cultural expectation of women being independent of man.

It must be like living deep deep deep under ground.

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

Statement against religious discrimination

Sep 25th, 2014 10:46 am | By

Wow check it out – Michael DeDora at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Tuesday.

I’m so proud – vicarious proud, but that’s the best kind – proud to know Michael, proud of what he does, proud of CFI.


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

Guest post: Nothing to compensate for the exclusion of multitudes of diverse and valuable people

Sep 24th, 2014 5:57 pm | By

Originally a comment by Jennifer Phillips on Whom you name, and he won’t.

I hate “the atheist movement.” If this is what it is, I hate it and want nothing to do with it. If it’s going to act like a mirror image of the fucking Vatican, I want nothing to do with it.

I completely agree, and would go further to say that, as it stands, it’s professionally damaging to me to be associated with Movement Atheists, as represented by Dawkins, Harris, Shermer and their supporters.

It’s paradoxical, because when I first discovered ‘the movement’, the science and reason elements embedded within lit a fire in me. I had already been involved in science outreach throughout my academic pursuits, but listening to DJ Grothe interview the denizens of the Reality Based Community on POI made me aware of how much more I wanted to invest myself in science education and science literacy.

The intervening years have been wonderful in that regard, and I’ve tapped into many local, national, and international science outreach opportunities, particularly focusing on outreach to women and underrepresented minorities in science. Therein lies the obvious problem: By publicly associating with the movement most closely identified with Dawkins, Harris, Shermer and their allies, I risk alienating the generation of young women and minorities that I’m trying to bring into the realm of professional science and reason.

It’s not worth it. Those ‘leading lights’ offer nothing to compensate for the exclusion of multitudes of diverse and valuable people.

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

Dana’s advice for Coyne Dawkins and Harris

Sep 24th, 2014 5:37 pm | By

Dana Hunter has a brilliant post on all this. It draws on brilliance from Libby Anne and from Hiba Krisht, for a hat trick of brilliance.

I’d like to ask a favor of anyone who can manage to get a critical viewpoint through the defenses of atheist celebrities like Harris and Dawkins: please get them to read Libby Anne’s infuriating and heartbreaking post, Do They Care about Women, or Simply Bashing Religion? Because it’s a question they need to address. They’re driving people like Libby Anne away from movement atheism. That is very much to the detriment of the movement.

It most certainly is. And Libby Anne is very far from the only one they are driving away.

I don’t think they’re worried about this, by the way – I think they think they have all the good, clever, sensible, anti-PC people, and we’re just the frenzied ideological cultists. No, that’s not how it is.

Dana lists some of the ways she admires Libby Anne and goes to her for useful reading.

She’s made me aware of just how relentlessly even mainstream culture genders kids, well before they’re old enough to even have a concept of themselves as boy or girl or something else. She’s worth a thousand Richard Dawkinses or Sam Harrises to me. She could be a tremendous asset to any atheist organization.

She could, but movement atheism is too busy patronizing women and making sure we all get the impression that we’re only of use to our Fearless Leaders™ when we’re being used as a cudgel against religion, and she wants none of that.

It is men like these who confirm my decision not to engage in movement atheism. Despite their claims, I don’t see them displaying a greater willingness to question their biases or engage in critical thinking. Frankly, I have felt for some time that atheist activists are frequently only willing to call out sexism when they see it in religion. It’s one more way they can point to how thoroughly horrible religion is as they call for its demise. But the moment an atheist woman says she has encountered sexism at atheist conventions or at atheist gatherings, she is lampooned and derided, called all manner of names and even threatened with rape or death. But isn’t this the kind of thing these same atheists criticize religion for?

Frankly, I feel used. These atheist activists are the sort of people who want to use my story as proof that religion is horrible to women but aren’t willing to listen to what I have to say about sexism in our culture at large.

“Aren’t willing” is putting it mildly – start spitting poison at the very thought, is more like it.

We can tell when you don’t genuinely give a shit about us, and are only using us as a weapon against someone or something else. You think you’re amazing allies, because wow are you so brainy, and you say such wonderful things about how wrong those religious practices that fuck over women are, but when it comes to treating the women within your own movement better? You shriek and whine and shit all over us. You use the plight of those religious women against us, as if this is either/or, as if we cannot address sexism within western secular spaces until we’ve destroyed all the religion.


You need to start paying attention to the women who are telling you they are not yours to use. People like Hiba. Her comment on Libby Anne’s post needs to be etched onto atheist leader dude’s mirrors, where they’re forced to read the words every day, until they get it:

Ex-Muslim woman of color here. I blog about this stuff over at the Freethought Blogs. Your words are affirming. I too, feel used. Especially when the plights of women like me–women raised in Muslim-majority countries, forced to cover, controlled and abused by militant Islamist organizations and individuals–are appropriated and used to bolster anti-feminism in the West, to minimize battles against harassment and unequal representation. I refuse to have my story used to attack and demean other women. I refuse to have my story used as a talking point for hypocritical anti-theists.

See what I mean? A trifecta.

I seem to recall men looking round the atheist movement a few years ago and wondering where the women are. We’re right here, either outside the movement or heading for the doors, because we tried to come in, but you made the place so hostile many of us said fuck all y’all and walked out.

You, white male atheists who spend so much time screaming you’re not sexist that you can’t acknowledge when you’ve done sexist things and bloody well stop, are causing women to stomp out in disgust. Then you’re blaming us for not wanting to put up with your shit. It’s well past time you cut your pride down to size, swallowed some of it, and listened to what women are saying to you. Women like Hiba, and Libby Anne, and so very many others who’ve had it.

You want a strong, united movement? Then fix the problems you’ve caused. Until you do, I’ll just be hanging out here on this side of the Deep Rifts with the people who give an actual shit about women.

It is better over here. Way, way better.

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

Sometimes you need this

Sep 24th, 2014 5:20 pm | By

Like today, for instance.

[Cartoon removed because trolls exist.] [Or, less facetiously, because people told me it was from a transphobic site.]

I’ll just replace the cartoon with a screen grab of a comment on Michael Nugent’s 4,839-word post rebuking Adam Lee yesterday, the fourth in his series of posts rebuking Adam Lee for writing an article that criticizes Richard Dawkins.

“Crackity Jones” is Richard Sanderson, who has repeatedly posted a flagrant flaming lie about me on that post of Nugent’s. Does Nugent write 5000-word posts rebuking Richard Sanderson and his allies for telling lies about people? No. Does he even moderate comments on his blog? No.


Crackity Jones September 25, 2014 at 2:52 pm

Ophelia has a spot of bother after her latest copypasta displays a cartoon from an artist who is a transphobe. Some of her commentators are politely trying to minimise the splash damage. This is not the first time Ophelia has got into trouble in this area. Seems to be she has a bit of a problem with trans issues.

Sanderson is obsessed with me, for some reason, and he’s a dedicated energetic liar.

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