Notes and Comment Blog

Our short and pithy observations on the passing scene as it relates to the mission of Butterflies and Wheels. Woolly-headed or razor-sharp comments in the media, anti-rationalist rhetoric in books or magazines or overheard on the bus, it’s all grist to our mill. And sometimes we will hold forth on the basis of no inspiration at all beyond what happens to occur to us.

Journalism at its finest

Oct 2nd, 2012 3:27 pm | By

Good old glib smug “mainstream” journalism, sneering at anything non-majoritarian or insurrectionist. Dana Milbank at the Washington Post apparently thinks secularism is just a big joke.

The nation’s atheists went to Capitol Hill on Monday to launch an effort that they hope will someday give them the lobbying clout of the Christian conservative movement.

They don’t have a prayer.

He sneers smugly. Is he pleased that theocrats have more lobbying clout than secularists? Does he think theocracy would be a good thing?

But that obvious fact won’t stop them from exercising their God-given right to petition their government for a redress of grievances. And their grievances are many, including:

● the “In God We Trust” national motto.

● the National Day of Prayer.

● the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance.

● the practice of opening sessions of Congress with a prayer and ending oaths of office with “so help me God.”

“What does that do to our non-theist community?” asked Edwina Rogers, executive director of the Secular Coalition for America, which bills itself as the only full-time lobbying group for atheists, agnostics, humanists and the like. “What does that do to our minority religions like voodooism, etcetera?”

No doubt it makes them mad enough to cast a hex.

Again with the smug jokes. Is shallowness a requirement for doing mainstream journalism? Yes, probably. Shallowness and casual conformity.

Rogers, in a glittery gold blouse and knee-high boots with four-inch heels, acknowledges that she has a bit of a challenge to match the $390 million she says religious groups spend on lobbying each year.

Milbank, in a vomit-stained T shirt and a purple thong, should switch to writing copy for clothing catalogues.

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

Secularism in Warsaw

Oct 2nd, 2012 1:04 pm | By

Michael Nugent of Atheist Ireland attended the annual OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) human rights meeting in Warsaw in Poland yesterday.

Ireland and Poland – both priest-ridden countries, to use Joyce’s phrase.

 …we will speak against blasphemy laws, religious oaths and the need for secular education. Atheist Ireland will also host a side meeting to highlight the need to respect the human rights of atheists and nonbelievers.

We believe that the western world is in danger of crossing a significant line in the historic battle for freedom of conscience and freedom of expression. We are in danger of conceding the step between the state respecting somebody’s right to believe what they want, and the state automatically respecting the content of the belief itself – and insisting by law that citizens do so also.

The Atheist Ireland delegation at the OSCE meeting is Michael Nugent, Chairperson Atheist Ireland; Prof David Nash, Oxford Brookes University UK, who is an expert on blasphemy laws; and Jane Donnelly, Education Policy Officer Atheist Ireland, who is an expert on secular education.

Good luck to them.

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

Teach the conflict

Oct 2nd, 2012 11:23 am | By

Some interesting comments on Rebecca’s post yesterday on the SCA and Vacula.

Dale Husband:

 Voice for Men? How about a Voice for White People, a Voice for Christians, and a Voice for the Wealthy? Oh yes, we must always ensure that those who are already privileged in society get to yell louder then their opponents, to maintain the status quo in society, even if they are abusive and dishonest.

To which nymchimpsky replies:

What about the straight people?  WHY DON’T YOU CARE ABOUT THEM?

*weeps for the straight people*

Of course there are equivalents of Voices for white people, rich people, Christians, and straight people…But they don’t call themselves A Voice for. (The one for rich people pretty much calls itself the US government, frankly.)

Bjarte Foshaug makes a good point (as he so often does) -

…when the haters, and hyperskeptics and false-equivalence-spouting bothsiders go on about keeping politics/ideology out of atheism/skepticism, we should not let them get away with framing the most conservative and outright reactionary views imaginable as the “unpolitical”, “non ideological” position.

Nor should we buy into the “let bygones be bygones” view when nothing has changed.



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

Reading material

Oct 1st, 2012 11:08 am | By

I have to rush off – Josh Spokesgay is in town! – but here for your reading enjoyment is Rebecca on the SCA and Vacula.

As I was traveling to the conference Friday, a story broke that I found astounding: Men’s Rights Activist Justin Vacula was appointed co-chair of the Pennsylvania chapter of the Secular Coalition for America, the organization that recently came under fire for hiring Republican lobbyist Edwina Rogers.

In case you’re not familiar with him, Vacula has written about the “feminist lies” of Surly Amy for A Voice For Men (the same site where Paul Elam wrote a short novella on what a “stupid, lying whore” I am, and some pseudonymous grandfather called me a “bitch”).

He participated in the gleeful bullying of Jen McCreight, who was driven off her blog last month by trolls

Read on.

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

Protect all the sentiments

Oct 1st, 2012 10:30 am | By

What goes around comes around department.

Pakistan’s blasphemy laws may be used to punish Muslims suspected of ransacking a Hindu temple, an intriguing twist for a country where harsh laws governing religious insults are primarily used against supposed offenses to Islam, not minority faiths.

And where the whole point of the country itself has always been that it’s not Hindu. That was the point of partition. India was secular but also majority-Hindu, so Pakistan was to be the opposite. How sad to see its laws used to protect Hindu “religious sentiments.”

Police officer Mohammad Hanif said Sunday the anti-Hindu attack took place Sept. 21. The government had declared that day a national holiday — a “Day of Love for the Prophet” — and called for peaceful demonstrations against an anti-Islam film made in the U.S. that has sparked protests throughout the Muslim world. Those rallies took a violent turn in Pakistan, and more than 20 people were killed.

Hanif said dozens of Muslims led by a cleric converged on the outskirts of Karachi in a Hindu neighborhood commonly known as Hindu Goth. The protesters attacked the Sri Krishna Ram temple, broke religious statues, tore up a copy of the Bhagavad Gita, a Hindu scripture, and beat up the temple’s caretaker, Sindha Maharaj.

Nostalgia for 1947 was it?

One wonders why the people in question couldn’t just be charged with vandalism and assault.

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

Airbrush those whorey women out of the pictures

Oct 1st, 2012 9:53 am | By

Ikea did, for the version of its catalogue that goes to Saudi Arabia.

So the familiar catalogue that shows a familiar world of people using furniture becomes a bizarro catalogue that shows a bizarro world that shows not people using furniture but just men and boys.

The removal of women from the pages of the Saudi edition, including a young girl who was pictured studying at her desk, has prompted a strong response from Swedes, who pride themselves on egalitarian policies and a narrow gender gap.

“You can’t remove or airbrush women out of reality. If Saudi Arabia does not allow women to be seen or heard, or to work, they are letting half their intellectual capital go to waste,” Ewa Bjoerling, the trade minister, said in a statement.

Her sentiment was echoed by Swedish European Union minister Birgitta Ohlsson, who branded the incident “medieval” on social networking site Twitter.

Well you know how it is. Furniture includes beds. You do the math.

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

Diplomacy and respect

Oct 1st, 2012 9:27 am | By

Kelly Damerow answers questions after her talk. The first question you hear is from Rebecca; the last two or three are from EllenBeth.

I don’t want to beat up on her personally. It’s an exposed position, standing there with the camera trained on you. The problem is with some of the organization’s decisions.

But having said that, her reply to Rebecca is strange. It’s that the SCA puts an emphasis on diplomacy and respect. Right; so why Justin Vacula? Is it diplomacy and respect to tweet

So, Jen’s allegedly finished blogging…and this time it’s not her boyfriend who kicked her off the internet.

when Jen McCreight reports that the constant harassment has triggered her longstanding depression?

You tell me.

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

Couldn’t the UN just put a stop to it?

Sep 30th, 2012 5:45 pm | By

Katha Pollitt on blasphemy. She starts with a public radio chat in which John Hockenberry said to BBC chief Jeremy Bowen:

Hockenberry: I’m wondering if it’s possible for the United Nations to create an initiative that would talk about some sort of global convention on blasphemy, that would create a cooperative enterprise to control these kinds of incidents, not to interfere into anybody’s free speech rights but to basically recognize that there is a global interest in keeping people from going off the rails over a perceived sense of slight by enforcing a convention of human rights, only in this particular case it would be anti-blasphemy?

So he wants a global convention to enforce an anti-blasphemy convention of human rights…not (of course) to interfere into anybody’s free speech rights, but to -

Well how would you enforce an anti-blasphemy convention without interfering with free speech rights?

So the only thing preventing some sort of international convention against “blasphemy” is that people can’t agree about what it is? Perhaps the UN could ask Vladimir Putin, who was eager to send three members of Pussy Riot to prison for appearing at Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior to perform an anti-Putin “punk prayer” to the Virgin Mary. Their crime: “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.” The rise of the Russian Orthodox church in the former Soviet Union, and its connections to a corrupt authoritarian regime, shows that Islam has no monopoly on religious freakouts or their exploitation for political purposes.

Quite. We also know that the only reason the Vatican doesn’t do the same thing is because it can’t. When it could, it did. It didn’t stop because it got nicer; it stopped because that wouldn’t fly any more.

Sorry, John and Jeremy, there is just no way to “control these kinds of incidents” without suppressing free speech, because the very concept of “blasphemy” entails powerful clerics deciding what a religion “really” says, and what questions about that are legitimate. And why shouldn’t religion be fair game for rude remarks, mockery and humor, to say nothing of bold challenges and open expressions of disbelief? Ethnic attacks like Geller’s ad are disgusting—calling Muslims savages is like calling Jews subhuman—but I’d say on the whole “blasphemy” has been a force for good in human history. It is part of the process by which millions of people have come to reject theocracy and think for themselves.

When it comes to ideas—and religions are, among other things, ideas—there is no right not to be offended.

Happy blasphemy day.

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

A less cheerful observation of Blasphemy Day

Sep 30th, 2012 5:14 pm | By

In which protesters in Bangladesh torch at least four Buddhist temples and fifteen Buddhist dwellings, “after complaining that a Buddhist man had insulted Islam, police and residents said.”

What did he say? Islam wears army boots? Islam has bad breath? Islam repeated the second grade four times?

Muslims took to the streets in the area late on Saturday to protest against what they said was a photograph posted on Facebook that insulted Islam.

The protesters said the picture had been posted by a Buddhist and they marched to Buddhist villages and set fire to temples and houses.

Very sensible. One Buddhist allegedly did something (something trivial), and protesters set fire to temples and houses. Not the one Buddhist’s temples and houses, just…some temples and houses. Buddhist ones.

Sohel Sarwar Kajal, the Muslim head of the council in the area where the arson took place, said he was trying to restore communal peace.

“We are doing everything possible to quell tension and restore peace between the communities,” he told reporters.

Good luck. Seriously.

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

More blasphemy

Sep 30th, 2012 3:56 pm | By

From The Rational Fool, reposted with permission.

Reasoning with Ramayana – Canto I

Ever since my granddaughter was born, I have been dreading the day when I will have to start fulfilling my paramount duty as a grandfather. Yes, I am talking about bedtime stories. Right now, she’ll go to sleep on my shoulder happily, when I sing to her something like “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star” in my preferred singing style — out of tune. I know that the day is not too far, though, when she’ll pop the question, “Grandpa, will you tell me a story, please?”. It’s not that I don’t have too many stories to tell, but like grandpa, like granddaughter, you know. What if she asked troubling questions? Here’s how I think it will go with the first part of Ramayana, a story from the subcontinent.


Putrakameshti Yajna by King Dashratha

Once upon a time, long, long, ago, there was a king called Dasaratha, who ruled the kingdom of Ayodhya. He had three wives, Kausalya, Sumitra …

But, grandpa, daddy has only one. Why?

Well, my dear, for one thing, your mommy is going to get very, very angry, if he had three. Besides, Dasaratha was a king, and your daddy is not, okay. Now, let’s get back to Dasaratha and his three wives, Kausalya, Sumitra and Kaikeyi.

Just a minute, grandpa, did queens have many husbands, too? Back then?

Absolutely not, queens could have only one husband…

But, that’s not fair, grandpa, I don’t like this story!

Bear with me, kiddo. I promise you it’ll get better. Now, the king and his three wives didn’t have a baby for a long time.

My friend, Tony, said that his uncle and aunt couldn’t have a baby, too. So, they went to see this doctor, you know, psychologist or something …


Yeah, that’s it … and he gave them twins. Did Dasaratha and his wives go to a doctor?

You are getting ahead of me and the story, Amy. No, there were no doctors then, and so they went to a priest…

Priest? Like the Pope? Can the Pope give them twins, too?

May be, may be not, but this priest asked them to offer a prayer to the gods …

But, grandpa, you always say there’s no god…

Yes, Amy, there isn’t, but in those days they thought there was one… er… many gods. It’s just a story, Amy, so don’t ask too many questions, okay. Otherwise, I’ll stop here …

No, please don’t, grandpa. I promise I won’t ask too many questions, only a few. Is that okay?

Okay. With his wives beside him, King Dasaratha offered a special prayer to the gods, so he’d have sons.

Sons? Why not daughters? Didn’t he like girl babies? [pouting] Did you and daddy want a boy, too, grandpa?

Oh, no, honey, we were very, very happy when you and mommy were born. We love you soooooo… much, pumpkin. We won’t trade you for a million sons!

Then, why didn’t this king ask for… hm… three wives and he didn’t ask for even one daughter! Why, grandpa?

Because, he was a dumb fool, Amy, that’s why.

And, he was a king?

Yup. As Dasaratha prayed … er… how do I describe this … there was this genie that emerged from the fireplace…

A genie? like the genie in Aladdin?

Yes, like the genie in Aladdin.

From the fireplace? Like Santa Claus? Grandpa, why does Santa Claus always come through the chimney and fireplace? Why doesn’t he use the front door like everyone else?

That, too, is just a story, Amy. There is no Santa Claus, like there are no genies or gods, but that story is for another night. So, moving on, this genie gave Dasaratha a cup of pudding for his wives to eat. He promised him that they’d have babies, if they did.

Pudding? Like the one that grandma makes? I love pudding. Will I also have a baby if I eat pudding, grandpa? I am sort of getting bored with these dolls now!

Sorry, sweetheart, you won’t. As I have told you several times already, this is just another story like Aladdin and his Magic Lamp.

Oh! It was a magic pudding…

Yes, now, let’s get on with the story. Dasaratha’s wives shared the pudding, and lo and behold, in nine months Kausalya and Kaikeyi each had a baby, and Sumitra, twins.

Wow, four babies! All at once? The gods in these stories must be better than Tony’s psychologist. Do they also make a lot of money like him? Tony says his psychologist does.

Gynecologist. And, they named them Rama, Bharatha, Lakshmana, and Shatruguna …


I kissed her goodnight, and heaved a sigh of relief. Oughf, that wasn’t so bad, was it?


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

Happy blasphemy day – Toonophobia

Sep 30th, 2012 3:38 pm | By

From the Syrian Atheists.

H/t Stewart.

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


Sep 30th, 2012 1:18 pm | By

EllenBeth Wachs and Rebecca Watson were at the Humanists of Florida Association conference this weekend, and so was Kelly Damerow of the Secular Coalition for America. They both separately chatted with her face to face about the appointment of Justin Vacula as co-director of the Pennsylvania chapter of the SCA. They also asked questions during the q&a after her talk.

Rebecca told Damerow that Vacula had written for the site that called Rebecca a stupid whore and that he had harassed Amy Davis Roth. Damerow was obviously upset by this, but she gave no ground.

During the q&a Rebecca described Vacula’s activities for the audience, and she reports that there was an audible gasp and then things got very quiet. EllenBeth asked about the percentage of women in leadership positions on their state boards, and Damerow floundered as she admitted only one leader was a woman.

Do a thought experiment here. Imagine that this is not about women. Imagine that it’s about race. Imagine that Vacula had posted on a notoriously racist site. Then imagine the SCA appointing him co-director of a state chapter.

It seems incredibly unlikely, don’t you think?

Well what we keep wondering is – why is sexism so fucking much more acceptable than racism?


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

More blasphemy for blasphemy day

Sep 30th, 2012 1:00 pm | By

To adapt a line of Kingsley Amis’s, God is a soppy fool with a fase like a pigs bum.

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

Happy international blasphemy day

Sep 30th, 2012 11:50 am | By

Have a little fuck the muthafucka courtesy of Tim Minchin.


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

The long arm of the law

Sep 30th, 2012 11:45 am | By

Florida’s a scary place. If you ever have the bad luck to be taken hostage there by a guy armed with a gun and a knife, you might find yourself being prosecuted if you survive.

A Florida woman is being accused of not defending her two children as their father stabbed them in the midst of a SWAT team standoff at an RV park.

On Monday, Deanna DeJesus pleaded not guilty to aggravated manslaughter and child neglect in the attack that left her 9-year-old son dead, NBC Miami reports. The 7-year-old, along with the defendant herself, were both severely wounded.

Her husband flipped out, see. He forced the woman and their two kids into the car and drove them all to an RV park, where he shot to death the owner of an RV and settled down in the RV for an afternoon of terrorization.

William Dejesus stabbed every member of his family before killing himself with the knife. His 9-year-old son, who had autism, died from the attack.

Now, Deanna DeJesus is facing up to 45 years in prison for not protecting the boys.

Prosecutors claim that the woman calmly held a child in each arm while her husband asked her which he should kill first. All the mother was able to say in court was that she couldn’t make such a choice, according to the Sun Sentinel.

Her 7-year-old son told investigators that because his mother wasn’t doing anything, he had grabbed a knife in an attempt to save his brother. However, his father regained control of the knife and stabbed him several times.

Deanna DeJesus said that she did not fight her husband because she knew she would be hurt if she did, according to WIOD.  Additionally, her attorney noted that after DeJesus’ husband stabbed her in the lung, she was physically unable to defend her children.

Prosecute that lazy bitch!

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

Devastating, passionate and ferocious

Sep 29th, 2012 5:55 pm | By

In re-reading Maryam’s talk and the comments on it I saw a link to a post by someone who attended the NSS Conference.

Nick was good, he says.

Nick was a fantastically eloquent and inspiring speaker – talking about self-censorship and imploring us to always be free to criticise “divinely inspired bigotry and facism”. His passion for free speech and how we should never be deterred from our right to it even in the face of threats of violence was fabulous, and evocative of Hitch in his refusal to back down to fascist terror threats in his robust rebuttals to religious lunatics. There is no greater compliment I can grant him than that.

But then there was Maryam…

Maryam’s talk was the highlight for me, Io, Narwahl and Chris as she delivered a devastating, passionate and ferocious salvo against islamo-fascism and the horrors of sharia law. I can’t do justice to how amazing she was, her presentation was a tour-de-force, and it was truly compelling and educational. I urge you all to read the talk in full right here. Go do it. Now. And only come back here when you are done.

You know, it was exactly the same at QED. She brought the fuckin house down. Everybody said she was the highlight.

He quoted a bit of what she said about sharia in Britain.

Shocking isn’t it? Maryam also urged everyone to stand up to this and to denounce anyone that would dare to call you a racist for questioning and criticizing islamists and sharia law.

I’m doing my level best.

There was an amusing bit about Dawkins’s talk.

Suffice to say it was about 40 minutes of trolling Christianity and it’s most peculiar sub-division, Mormonism. His presentation was typically sharp and witty, with his laying in to Mitt Romney a particular highlight.

Ah, I’d noticed he’d been tweeting about Mormonism and Romney a lot. Homework!

So anyway. Secularism, people. It’s not racism. Really, it’s not.

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

Who is an Islamophobe?

Sep 29th, 2012 4:59 pm | By

As I mentioned, in my horrid sarcastic mocking horrid way, I’m getting called Islamophobic a good bit these days. I’m getting called it here and even on the chat threads at Pharyngula, The Lounge and Thunderdome. (On the other hand it’s by the same people, so it doesn’t add up to more, it just adds up to repetition.)

I think this is frankly stupid. It’s as if the people who call me that had never heard of Maryam Namazie. Surely it can’t be the case that they’ve never heard of Maryam, can it? They don’t go round to her place and call her Islamophobic do they? Or do they.

Here’s Maryam at the National Secular Society conference in London last week:

Sometimes I really don’t know what more to say.

What else can be said about Sharia law that– at least in your gut – you don’t already know?

It is based on the Koran, the Hadith and Islamic jurisprudence. Its criminal code includes stoning to death for adultery and execution for apostasy and homosexuality. In Iran, for example, there are over 130 offences punishable by death.

Its civil code – which is imposed by Sharia courts in Britain – is discriminatory and unfair particularly against women. Basically it is a code of death and despair.

Not breaking news, is it? After all it is religious law. And that’s what – in my opinion – religion does best. A court based on the Bible and Torah would be similarly discriminatory and barbaric.

Yet the numbers of people who continue to defend Sharia courts in Britain as people’s ‘right to religion’ is staggering.

Well? How about it? No cries of Islamophobia yet? No accusations of punching down?

In a Sharia court in Britain, a woman can’t even sign her own marriage contract; a male guardian must do it on her behalf. Child custody goes to the father at a pre-set age irrespective of the welfare of the child. Marital rape is seen to be the prerogative of the husband – a sharia judge recently said calling it rape is the act of aggression. The rules here in Britain are the same as the ones women in Iran face in family courts.

And they are also dealing with child marriages, which is nothing more than religiously-sanctioned child rape and paedophilia. In 2010, around 30 cases of child marriages were reported in Islington alone. At least three 11-year-old girls and two nine-year-olds had been forced into marriage with older men. The oldest girls were 16.

In the latest scandal, which by the way has only been covered by the tabloid rags like the Sun and Daily Mail, an investigation by the Sunday Times found imams in Britain willing to “marry” young girls after being approached by an undercover reporter posing as a father who said he wanted his 12 year old daughter married to prevent her from being tempted in to a ‘western lifestyle’.

Question these and you are often accused of Islamophobia, racism, intolerance, and denying people’s very right to religion and belief.

And punching down. Well, how about it? Anybody prepared to accuse Maryam of that?

I have a question for those who use human rights and anti-racist language to excuse and apologise for inequality, discrimination, violence against women and barbarity.

Even if it were people’s right to religion (most rights are not absolute and anyway Sharia courts are about politics not religion) – and even if they were real choices (let’s put aside the many threats and intimidation for now), what is your position on it?

Do you have one?

Do you think it’s wrong?

Whilst you may be very happy to promote it for the ‘other’ – what I call a racism of lower standards and expectations – would you like if for yourself and for your loved ones?

If not, then please stop apologising for it.

Hiding behind ‘rights’ and ‘choice’ to excuse misogyny is a betrayal of human principles. After all, years ago, certain men only had the ‘right’ to vote and own slaves.

Remember good old fashioned international solidarity – how I miss it – when we actually joined forces with those suffering under racial apartheid in South Africa for example.

Nowadays, many liberals and post-modernist leftists side with those imposing apartheid – sex apartheid – because it is considered the ‘right to religion’…

It’s a betrayal of human solidarity.

And this solidarity is fundamental particularly given that Islamism and Sharia law have killed a generation in what I call an Islamic inquisition.


Muslims after all are not a homogeneous community as Islamists portray. When you give group rights to the ‘Muslim community’, you basically give further power to the dominant elite – the imams and Islamic ‘scholars’ [as Richard Dawkins says, you do need to read more than one book to be considered a scholar] – at the expense of women, and many others.

Conflating Islamism (and its Sharia courts) with Muslim is part of the effort of feigning representation and is the narrative peddled by Islamists. In fact Islamism or political Islam is part of the project for controlling the population at large and is not an exercise in people’s rights and choices.

To accept the Islamist version and narrative is to hand over countless individuals – many of them dissenting – to the far-Right Islamic movement and to ignore the resistance, the political, social and civil struggles, and class politics. Conflating Muslim and Islamist is like conflating Christian or English with the English Defence League or the British National Party.

Very often also a criticism of Islamism, Sharia or Islam is touted as being racist, discriminatory, and Islamophobic. It’s not. Let me give you an example of this. When a British court told a Muslim hospital consultant that he must pay his ex-wife maintenance even though under Sharia he believed he owed her nothing, the doctor said that the ‘Family law in Britain is biased against Muslim people’ but isn’t his wife Muslim too?

It does all depend on how you look at it and whose side you choose to take.

This has nothing to do with racism.

Such accusations of racism are particular to the west.

If you are criticising Islam, the veil, Sharia law, or Islamism in Iran, Egypt or Afghanistan the debate is not framed in the context of racism or Islamophobia.

When the Saudi government arrests 23 year old Hamza Kashgari for tweeting about Mohammad, it doesn’t accuse him of racism, it accuses him of blasphemy – an accusation punishable by death.

But that same government will accuse critics of Saudi policy at the UN Human Rights Committee as Islamophobic and racist.

What I’m trying to say is that Islamists and their apologists have coined the term Islamophobia – a political term – to scaremonger people into silence.

These bogus accusations of Islamophobia and offence serve Islamism in the same way that Sharia law serves them where they have power. It helps to threaten, intimidate and silence criticism, solidarity and dissent.

They work like secular fatwas and are used not to defend Muslims from bigotry but to defend Islam and Islamism.

So. Explain to Maryam why she’s wrong and she really does have “a massive blind spot” on this subject. I dare you.



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


Sep 29th, 2012 4:14 pm | By

Right right right, I’m an “Islamophobe,” and criticizing Islam is punching down because Muslims are a despised group. (The second part is true, but the first part doesn’t follow. Punching Muslims is punching down, but punching Islam isn’t, because Islam itself is what punches down. Islam has huge, illegitmate power in many many parts of the globe. Punching Islam does not equal punching Muslims. Yes one can be a stalking horse for the other, but that doesn’t make them identical.) So allow me to be a Christianityophobe for a few minutes. Not that I wouldn’t be anyway, but I feel like pointing it out.

Russia. Russia seems to be getting more and more priest-ridden and believer-whipped. This time it’s believers shouting about a production of Jesus Christ Superstar, and getting it shut down.

A theatre in the south Russian city of Rostov has dropped a production of Jesus Christ Superstar after protests by Orthodox Christians.

A Russian company was due to stage the Andrew Lloyd Webber rock opera at the Rostov Philharmonic next month.

Protesters had complained the opera projected the “wrong” image of Christ.

News of the cancellation baffled members of the cast and caused indignation among commentators wary of Church interference in public life.

Exactly. Church interference in public life. This is why I’m phobic about theocratic religions – because they interfere.

Local Russian Orthodox protesters lodged their complaint with prosecutors in Rostov-on-Don, a city of one million, and also wrote a letter to the management of the Philharmonic, according to the Rostov Times newspaper.

Citing a “new law protecting the rights of believers”, they described the musical as a “profanation” and said any such production should be submitted to the Russian Orthodox Church for approval.

It is unclear to which law the protesters were referring. The lower house of the Russian parliament, the State Duma, is currently considering a bill which would make it a crime to offend the “religious feelings of citizens”.

They want everything submitted to the relevant theocrats for approval. That’s what they all want, and that’s why we have to push back.

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

It takes practice

Sep 29th, 2012 11:52 am | By

You know how Islamists say that jokes are unIslamic? Apparently one result of that is that Islamists don’t get practice in knowing when a joke is present. That means that sometimes they think a joke is actually a serious news item.

Fars News Agency, a semi-official mouth piece of the Iranian regime, earnestly published a word-for-word duplicate of an article from the Onion, a spoof news organisation based in Chicago.

The satirical article cited a fake Gallup poll which found that 77 per cent of white, rural voters would rather go to a baseball game or have a beer with Mr Ahmadinejad than with the US president.

It went on to cite a made-up West Virginian named Dale Swiderski, who said that he preferred the Iranian to Mr Obama because: “He takes national defense seriously, and he’d never let some gay protesters tell him how to run his country like Obama does.”

We’re lucky: we know when something is funny!


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

Someone once very aptly said

Sep 28th, 2012 3:50 pm | By

Check it out: a stirring promo for the American Atheists 50th birthday bash next March, at which I will be there.

The first voice is Anthony Grayling. The second one you probably recognize. The third of course is Dave.

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