Notes and Comment Blog

Dude, you’re the one who took the brawl to Twitter

Dec 1st, 2013 11:39 am | By

Now Elan is all pissed off at people who don’t think his bullying of a somewhat rude passenger was the wittiest and most richly-deserved schooling ever.


elan gale @theyearofelan

My wife’s dog’s friend knows a guy who saw a guy who knew Diane and he also knows the guy who anonymously posted stuff about her health

So last night I met the dude who saw the guy who knew a man who wrote the stuff on the message board and then I WROTE AN ARTICLE ABOUT IT

Oh, I saw someone write an article about a thing my dog’s wife’s friend saw on a message board and I AM ENRAGED

I have poorly thought out opinions about things I skimmed through on the internet! I demand answers! I demand justice!

[and one more not in the screengrab]


It’s funny how easily one could just turn that line of thinking around on him:

Oh, I saw some woman on my flight being crabby about the delay so I KNEW she’s a horrible entitled bitch and I had to FIX HER IMMEDIATELY


Everyone feels that bullying strangers into better behavior is just bullying. I AM SMART AND MUST FEEL ANOTHER WAY IMMEDIATELY!

So easily.

Update some hours later. More bitter tweets about how misunderstood Elan is.


elan gale @theyearofelan

My pledge: if you end up sitting next to me on a plane for the next year, and you are nice, I promise that I will offer to buy you a drink

[that one got 129 retweets and 753 favorites]

Just read somewhere that Diane was the last remaining unicorn and was just trying to get back to repopulate her home planet

Please make sure to include the new Diane was a unicorn evidence in all future media. Seems viable. Someone said it

In other words the cancer claim may be bogus. Sure, it may. The bullying was still bullying, even if Diane is as healthy as a mountaineer.

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

Passenger ethics

Dec 1st, 2013 10:23 am | By

Mostly I’m seeing people agreeing that Elan’s first commentary-tweets were ok but his actual confrontation of Diane was not ok, but I’m also seeing a sizeable faction insisting that Diane deserved everything Elan dished out to her and perhaps more.

So I think we need to think about passenger ethics a bit.

Suppose Elan had been sitting next to Diane, as opposed to several rows behind her. Assuming for the sake of argument that she was being actively rude to the flight attendant, and/or that she was being obstreperous enough to annoy passengers all around, I think it would be ok for Elan to say, mildly, that we’re all upset about the delay and the flight attendants really can’t do anything about it, so how about we all try not to make it worse for each other. Something along those lines. I think it would be ok for him to try to persuade her to pipe down. If he wanted to go the extra mile he could nicely offer to buy her a drink.

But that’s about it. It’s really the flight attendant’s job to defuse the situation, not the passenger’s, or the passengers’. Neither singly nor collectively are passengers responsible for enforcing etiquette on other passengers.

Suppose Diane was Don, and got violent. That’s a different story – then it might be right for passengers to intervene quickly.

Suppose they’re not on a plane, but a city bus, and Diane or Don physically attacks the driver. Then the passengers really should intervene, and fast, and together.

But what the actual situation was, assuming Elan reported it accurately (and that’s apparently in doubt, since he’s reported to have a habit of making up stuff for the sake of Twitter stories), was that Diane’s bad behavior had stopped, and that Elan took it upon himself to punish her for having behaved badly.

That is not acceptable. It’s not acceptable for a whole list of reasons. It’s none of his business; it’s not needed; he doesn’t know enough; it’s much more likely to re-ignite a quarrel than it is to teach Diane anything; he’s ignoring the likely meaning of her face mask; they’re all on an airplane, a confined space that they can’t exit; he’s not very good at ethics or manners himself; his behavior was incredibly intimidating. That’s not even an exhaustive list of the reasons his intervention was not acceptable.

So that’s a start on the knotty subject of passenger ethics.

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


Dec 1st, 2013 9:19 am | By

Two reactions.


Amanda Marcotte @AmandaMarcotte…If you’ve been passing around that funny story of a man schooling a woman on a plane, here’s the other side.

Renee Hendricks @reneehendricks

Yep, still amusing, OphieB – - … – being ill doesn’t give you a free pass to be a whiny ass to everyone.

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

The clean-shaven majority

Nov 30th, 2013 5:14 pm | By

So apparently there’s a thing in the UK called (toe-curlingly) “Movember”? And it’s something about growing moustaches and raising money for charity? I guess? Something like that. Anyway Neil Singh and Arianne Shahvisi tell us in the New Statesman why it’s a bad thing.

For the most part, sponsored activities (day-long silences, sponge-throwing, public waxing) depend on the extreme, the outrageous, the ridiculous. Friends and family are, apparently, only willing to part with money to witness something odd, humorous or downright unpleasant. So what message does Movember convey to those whose moustaches are more-or-less permanent features? With large numbers of minority-ethnic men—for instance Kurds, Indians, Mexicans—sporting moustaches as a cultural or religious signifier, Movember reinforces the “othering” of “foreigners” by the generally clean-shaven, white majority. Imagine a charity event that required its participants to wear dreadlocks or a sari for one month to raise funds—it would rightly be seen as unforgivably racist. What is the difference here? We are not simply considering an arbitrary configuration of facial hair, but one that had particular, imperial connotation to British men of our grandfathers’ generation and currently has a separate cultural valence for men from certain ethnic groups. Moustaches, whether or not “mo-bros” mean theirs to be, are loaded with symbolism. We often wonder how our fathers (both life-long moustached men) must feel each November, when their colleagues’ faces temporarily resemble theirs, and are summarily met with giggles and sponsor-money. No doubt they draw the obvious conclusion, that dovetails with many other experiences of life as an immigrant: there are different rules for white faces.

Um….is this a parody? Did the Staggers inadvertently republish something from the Onion?

I’m told not. I’m told it’s not, repeat not, a joke.

Further, the inclusivity of Movember deserves examination. For one, only men (and even then, only some men) can grow a moustache. The decision to focus on the moustache to raise awareness of men’s health issues might seem like an apposite one (though there’s no obvious relationship between moustaches and cancers), but it reinforces the regressive idea that masculinity is about body chemistry rather than gender identity, and marginalises groups of men who may struggle to grow facial hair, such as trans-men. Ironically, Movember also excludes the very men it is supposed to uplift; many men who have undergone radiotherapy or surgery to treat testicular cancer are rendered “hypogonadal” and are therefore unable to grow facial hair.

And you know what else? Eating lunch marginalizes people who get up too late to eat lunch. Riding a bike marginalizes people whose bums are too skinny to tolerate bicycle seats. Watching birds marginalizes people who prefer to watch tv.

So watch it, chum.

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

Tattycoram’s rage

Nov 30th, 2013 3:48 pm | By

A passage from Little Dorrit that particularly struck me is in chapter 2. (LD is public domain, so we can quote as much as we like. Ima quote a lot.)

The Meagles adopted a girl from the “foundling home” in Coram’s Fields in London, to be a maid for their beloved pampered daughter. (There’s a very funny but touching section where Mr Meagle narrates the story to Arthur, and he keeps saying, “as practical people, we” etcetera – it’s his story about them that they’re immensely practical – and then going on to describe compassionate generous behavior that’s not at all practical.) The daughter and maid are grown now, just barely.

A character named Miss Wade goes upstairs in the hotel where this set of characters have happened to meet each other.

Quoting now:

Now, there were many stairs and passages that she had to traverse
in passing from that part of the spacious house to the chamber she
had secured for her own occupation. When she had almost completed
the journey, and was passing along the gallery in which her room
was, she heard an angry sound of muttering and sobbing. A door
stood open, and within she saw the attendant upon the girl she had
just left; the maid with the curious name.

She stood still, to look at this maid. A sullen, passionate girl!
Her rich black hair was all about her face, her face was flushed
and hot, and as she sobbed and raged, she plucked at her lips with
an unsparing hand. 

‘Selfish brutes!’ said the girl, sobbing and heaving between
whiles. ‘Not caring what becomes of me! Leaving me here hungry
and thirsty and tired, to starve, for anything they care! Beasts!
Devils! Wretches!’

‘My poor girl, what is the matter?’

She looked up suddenly, with reddened eyes, and with her hands
suspended, in the act of pinching her neck, freshly disfigured with
great scarlet blots. ‘It’s nothing to you what’s the matter. It
don’t signify to any one.’

‘O yes it does; I am sorry to see you so.’

‘You are not sorry,’ said the girl. ‘You are glad. You know you
are glad. I never was like this but twice over in the quarantine
yonder; and both times you found me. I am afraid of you.’

‘Afraid of me?’

‘Yes. You seem to come like my own anger, my own malice, my own–
whatever it is–I don’t know what it is. But I am ill-used, I am
ill-used, I am ill-used!’ Here the sobs and the tears, and the
tearing hand, which had all been suspended together since the first
surprise, went on together anew.

The visitor stood looking at her with a strange attentive smile.
It was wonderful to see the fury of the contest in the girl, and
the bodily struggle she made as if she were rent by the Demons of

‘I am younger than she is by two or three years, and yet it’s me
that looks after her, as if I was old, and it’s she that’s always
petted and called Baby! I detest the name. I hate her! They make
a fool of her, they spoil her. She thinks of nothing but herself,
she thinks no more of me than if I was a stock and a stone!’ So
the girl went on.

‘You must have patience.’

‘I WON’T have patience!’

‘If they take much care of themselves, and little or none of you,
you must not mind it.’

I WILL mind it.’

‘Hush! Be more prudent. You forget your dependent position.’

‘I don’t care for that. I’ll run away. I’ll do some mischief. I
won’t bear it; I can’t bear it; I shall die if I try to bear it!’

The observer stood with her hand upon her own bosom, looking at the
girl, as one afflicted with a diseased part might curiously watch
the dissection and exposition of an analogous case.

The girl raged and battled with all the force of her youth and
fulness of life, until by little and little her passionate
exclamations trailed off into broken murmurs as if she were in
pain. By corresponding degrees she sank into a chair, then upon
her knees, then upon the ground beside the bed, drawing the
coverlet with her, half to hide her shamed head and wet hair in it,
and half, as it seemed, to embrace it, rather than have nothing to
take to her repentant breast.

‘Go away from me, go away from me! When my temper comes upon me,
I am mad. I know I might keep it off if I only tried hard enough,
and sometimes I do try hard enough, and at other times I don’t and
won’t. What have I said! I knew when I said it, it was all lies.
They think I am being taken care of somewhere, and have all I want.

They are nothing but good to me. I love them dearly; no people
could ever be kinder to a thankless creature than they always are
to me. Do, do go away, for I am afraid of you. I am afraid of
myself when I feel my temper coming, and I am as much afraid of
you. Go away from me, and let me pray and cry myself better!’

And then the chapter ends. Dickens was quite a psychologist, along with his other talents.


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

Those parts of the brain were completely switched off

Nov 30th, 2013 10:58 am | By

Imagine being a neuroscientist, and studying brain scans of murderers to look for psychopathic traits. Imagine doing that and looking at scans of family members for comparison purposes, and then finding one that is way at the extreme edge of what you’re finding in the murderers’ scans. Whoops, the scans got mixed up. The techs check and re-check; nope, no mix. So you peel off the code – and the scan is yours.

That’s what the neuroscientist James Fallon found.

He told his wife and she said, “I’m not surprised.”

He laughed at that. Which is kind of psychopathic itself.

The BBC discussion is slightly odd, because they simply talk about murderer or not murderer. He’s not a murderer, despite having all the alleles for being a psychopath, so what gives? (The answer is environment.)

But murder isn’t all there is, for cryin out loud. There’s cruelty, there’s bullying, there’s manipulation, there’s chronic lying. Professor Fallon isn’t a murderer, good, splendid, but it would have been interesting if the BBC person had asked him why his wife said that, or if he himself in fact thought he was deficient in the empathy department.

I once knew someone who ticked a lot of the psychopathy boxes. I never thought “murderer?” But I thought a lot of things short of that.

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

Thankful Dinesh

Nov 30th, 2013 10:26 am | By

And then there’s Dinesh D’Souza, with a festive Thanksgiving tweet.

Image preview

I am thankful this week when I remember that American is big enough and great enough to survive Grown-Up Trayvon in the White House!

Great god almighty. What is wrong with people?

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

Reading Dickens

Nov 30th, 2013 10:03 am | By

I’ve started reading Little Dorrit for the third or fourth time…skim-reading it in places, because I long ago decided that the only way to read Dickens is to jump when you start to get bored, because there’s no denying he gave a wealth of detail and sometimes it’s about something you just don’t need a wealth of detail about. That prison in Marseilles at the beginning for instance – I never will know what that’s there for, because I invariably get bored before I find out so I skip it.

But don’t go thinking it’s inherently boring, or that all of it’s boring, or that it’s boring in proportion to its quantity, or anything like that. The truth is that he was a god damn genius, and he really is doing something with all those words. It’s not slack, it’s not verbiage for the sake of verbiage. It’s detail.

Like, there’s the bit in chapter 3 where Affery takes Arthur up to the garret room where he’ll sleep for the night, and there’s a very detailed description of what’s in the room and what the room is like. I skipped some, because there was a lot, but I knew if I’d read it it would have been good stuff. That’s how Dickens is. You sort of have to skip in order to keep going, but you know you’re skipping rich writing. But I didn’t skip it all and I was rewarded with a real yell of laughter because at the end of the list of furniture was

…a washing-stand that looked as if it had stood for ages in a hail of dirty soapsuds, and a bedstead with four bare atomies of posts, each terminating in a spike, as if for the dismal accommodation of lodgers who might prefer to impale themselves.

That’s Dickens for you.

Anybody read it? Anybody want to read it along with me?


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

Bullying at 35 thousand feet

Nov 30th, 2013 9:04 am | By

One of the hot social media items this morning is a woman who made a big fuss about a delayed flight because Thanksgiving and a guy who retaliated. The point of the item seems to be that the guy did a great job of schooling the woman. I beg to differ.

Elan Gale Live-Tweets his Feud with Asshole Woman on Flight

This note war on a plane is hilarious. I have no idea who he is but I want to be his friend.

Hmm, yeah, I don’t.

He tweeted about her. Fine. The tweets are funny, and she’s anonymous. But then he sent her a note, and she replied to say his note was not cool, and he sent another.

View image on Twitter

 No. That has tipped way over into bullying, and sexist bullying at that. Not cool. And that’s before you even see what was posted to the Storify later:

“Diane is my cousin. I want to thank you for not pressing charges against her for slapping you. She would have been arrested for that, and spending a few days in jail would have been a particularly cruel irony under the circumstances. I am a bit surprised you said you could hear her breathing, because Diane has stage IV small cell lung cancer. This would have been her last Thanksgiving with us. I say “would have” because she did miss her connecting flight. She arrived this morning, having spent the night in a hotel in Phoenix. Admittedly, Diane hasn’t been handling her imminent death very well, but she really was looking forward to being with us and the rest of her family- all of whom were flying in for one last Thanksgiving with her. In her defense, she was very contrite and upset about her behavior on the plane. Certainly everybody wanted to get where they were going, but perhaps she can be forgiven for thinking that her need was more pressing than most. Thanksgiving has always been Diane’s favorite holiday, and her comment about the stuffing is true- she was the “keeper of the family recipe” and all of her nieces were planning to be instructed (one more time) in the mysterious ways of Auntie Diane’s stuffing. Since she missed her connecting flight, this did not occur. We are going to try to get as many of the family together as we can tomorrow, but that is up in the air. The plans were all for yesterday. I wish you had known her before she got cancer. You would have loved her. She was bright, funny, and compassionate, and had a self-deprecating sense of humor. She taught elementary music. She loved kids. She loved to laugh. She was everybody’s favorite aunt. Actually, she still is”

Not amusing.

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

I get comments

Nov 30th, 2013 8:24 am | By




0 approved

In Response To

Dayna Morales may have made it up


“Why do people do this?”

Same reason people accuse Shermer of rape. Human degradation masked as social justice. Duh.

The comment doesn’t amount to much. It’s clearly just a pretext for the real point, which is to tell me that my cunt smells like grave.

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

He usually let the football coach take care of that sort of thing

Nov 29th, 2013 5:18 pm | By

Meanwhile, back in Steubenville, Ohio

A year ago this week, Michael McVey, the superintendent of schools in Steubenville, Ohio, sat in a conference room down the hall from his office and said he knew none of the details of Aug. 11, 2012, the night a 16-year-old girl was raped by two Steubenville High football players at a series of parties on a hot summer night.

Nope, he said, he didn’t know much, aside from the rumors that had been swirling around the football-crazy town for months. He told me and a colleague that he had not spoken with any of the students thought to be involved in the event because it hadn’t taken place on school grounds or during the school year. Besides, he said, he usually let the football coach take care of that sort of thing.

That all changed drastically Monday, when Ohio’s attorney general, Mike DeWine, made it McVey’s business.

McVey was one of four adults charged with crimes this week as a result of an investigation into the Steubenville rape case…

Well good.

Even if the latest indictments do not produce convictions, DeWine’s aggressive stance is an important moment. By holding adults accountable, prosecutors might persuade school administrators and coaches to make it their business to tell the police when they hear students or athletes have done something illegal. And maybe the police will be more diligent about investigating such complaints.

And maybe, just maybe, school administrators and coaches will even start to do a better job of telling their athletes, “No, really, we mean it: do not rape, and that includes fucking girls who’ve gotten shitfaced and are falling down. We’re not kidding around. We are deadly serious.”


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

85% versus zero

Nov 29th, 2013 4:09 pm | By

Orac, as he indicated in a comment, has been following the Sarah Hershberger case. He has a very informative post from October 28; very informative and very sad.

A couple of weeks ago, I commented on the story of 10 year old Amish girl in northeast Ohio with cancer whose parents, alarmed by the side effects of chemotherapy, had decided to stop the chemotherapy and treat their daughter with folk medicine instead. As a result, alarmed at the likelihood that Sarah Hershberger would suffer and die unnecessarily at a young age, the hospital treating her, Akron Children’s Hospital, went to court. It lost the first round, but earlier this month the original ruling was overturned, and it was ordered that Hershberger undergo chemotherapy to save her life. The odds of her survival with chemotherapy were estimated to be on the order of 85%. Her odds without chemotherapy? About as close to zero as you can imagine.

Given those odds, I take back what I said about their decision being – though wrong – not totally irrational. I didn’t realize her odds with chemo were that good.

Sadly, but not entirely unexpectedly, the Hershbergers have apparently taken their daughter out of the country to avoid chemotherapy. The longer they do that, the more likely it is that their daughter will die a horrible death, and it will be her father Andy Hershberger’s fault. I realize that he has nothing but the best intentions and believes he is doing the best thing for his daughter, but he is wrong, so very wrong. If his decision is not reversed, his daughter will almost certainly pay a very unpleasant price.

It’s a wretched story.



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

Well are you?

Nov 29th, 2013 3:54 pm | By

Want a Friday after Thanksgiving (in the US) quiz? Here, via Dave Silverman on Facebook, is one called Are you smarter than an atheist? (That’s silly. They don’t mean smarter, they mean better-informed-about-religion. Not the same thing at all.)

I scored 100%. Dave got one wrong; Dave Muscato got 100%.

It’s a bit irritating to take because it uses a separate click to tell you whether you got it right each time so that’s twice as many clicks. But I can’t resist easy quizzes.



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

Everyday sadism

Nov 29th, 2013 1:10 pm | By

Another chapter in the annals of harassment, especially harassment of women. A guy called Hunter Moore posted a photo of a young woman that had been hacked from her computer on his Revenge Porn website. Her mother had worked as a private detective, and she got on his case.

I emailed the site owner, Hunter Moore, and asked him to take down the photo in accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. He refused.

I was not surprised. By this time, I’d perused Moore’s online TV and newspaper interviews. He called himself a “professional life ruiner” and described his website as “pure evil.” He threw legal letters in the trash, addressed his followers as “my children,” taking a page from the Charles Manson handbook; and regularly taunted victims, encouraging them to commit suicide. People claimed to be afraid of him. He had no fear of lawsuits; he knew a victim would be unlikely to sue because a civil suit would cost $60,000 (according to attorney Marc Randazza), and forever link a woman’s name with the image she hoped to hide.

Moore maintained that his victims were sluts, asked to be abused and deserved to lose their jobs, embarrass their families and find themselves forever ruined. Below photos on the site, his followers posted crude and mysogynistic remarks. Victims were taunted as “fat cows,” “creatures with nasty teeth,” “ugly whores,” “white trash sluts” and “whales.” One commenter said, “Jesus, someone call Greenpeace and get her back in the water.” The website was not about pornography; it was about ridiculing and hurting others.

Sound familiar?

Jill was a kindergarten teacher in Kansas. I knew she was going to be posted. Moore had mentioned it on his Twitter feed — which I had been monitoring — and he asked his followers if they thought she’d get fired. They had responded with the typical landslide of loutish and smutty comments.

An hour later, her photos were visible to the world along with identifying information, including the name of the school where she taught. This was the cue for followers of Is Anyone Up? to bombard the principal and school board with Jill’s naked shots and crude remarks, such as “Fire that slut” and “You have a whore teaching your children.”

“Is Jill there?” I said to the school receptionist. “She’s in class right now.”

“I’d like to leave a message. This is urgent. Please tell her to call me when she gets time.”

While I was leaving my message, the principal had marched into Jill’s classroom and interrupted her lesson.

“Please gather your things and go home,” he said while five-year-old students watched in wonder.

Score. Just like that, some random guy and his random fans can trash a woman’s life.

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

To seek alternatives to chemotherapy

Nov 29th, 2013 12:27 pm | By

This seems unlikely to end well.

10-year-old Amish girl with leukemia and her parents have left the country to seek alternatives to chemotherapy, according to the family’s attorney.

Sarah Hershberger and her parents oppose chemotherapy, and have been fighting the Akron Children’s Hospital in court after the family stopped Sarah’s treatment. Her parents said the treatments have caused their daughter a great deal of pain, and they’d rather focus on herbal and natural remedies.

It’s odd to make the girl the chief agent by mentioning her first in the first two sentences, as if she left the country and her parents went with her. They took her out of the country. She’s ten.

The Hershbergers left their home in northeast Ohio days before a state appeals court appointed a guardian in October to take over medical decisions from Sarah’s parents. The family members won’t say where they are now, but they have no plans to return to their home anytime soon, according to Thompson.

“Sarah’s condition has gotten a lot better since the family has been pursuing the alternative treatment,” Thompson said.

Sarah had tumors on her neck, chest and kidneys when her parents initially agreed to chemotherapy at Akron Children’s Hospital earlier this year. Her parents said the side effects were terrible, and they wanted to treat Sarah’s leukemia with alternative treatments.

So not straightforward faith healing, but maybe the faith makes the abandonment of arduous treatment seem more reasonable.

“We’ve seen how sick it makes her,” Andy Hershberger, Sarah’s father, told ABC News in August. “Our belief is the natural stuff will do just as much as that stuff if it’s God’s will.”

Yes see that’s where the problem is – it’s not about belief, and it’s not about god’s will. It’s about comparative prognoses, and the hospital clearly thinks the prognosis is better with chemo.

Maybe when she gets worse the parents will think better of it and bring her back.

Update: post on the subject from last August.

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

UUK has made an idiot of itself

Nov 29th, 2013 11:55 am | By

Now 99 comments on the Universities UK blog. One of the news ones is a very valuable one from the always-valuable David Colquhoun.

I notice that Nicola Dandridge starts by describing Universities UK as being “the representative organisation for the UK’s universities”.  It is nothing of the sort,  It is the representative organisation for (mostly male) vice-chancellors.  That was obvious from its much more honest previous name “The committee of vice-chancellors and principals”,   That’s the same group that supported high tuition fees.

It isn’t fair to blame Nicola Dandridge,  She’s paid to say whatever words are put in her mouth by her bosses.

The outcry against this iniquitous policy document appears to be just about universal. UUK has made an idiot of itself.  The only way UUK can save any sort of credibility is to retract it at once.  But it is not in the nature of powerful organisations to apologise for mistakes.

Fair point about Dandridge. Still…it is a blog post, with her name on it. That’s not quite the same kind of thing as a press release.

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

When a woman goes swimming

Nov 29th, 2013 8:53 am | By

The subhead of an article in India Today:

“When a woman goes swimming, as the word for sea is masculine, when “the water touches the woman’s private parts, she becomes an ‘adulteress’ and should be punished.”
- Summary of a report titled “The misguided Fatwas of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis”, as published in the Al Masry Al Youm.

That item is reported in other places, all apparently from the same source. Even Counterpunch reports it.

One currently ascendant Salafist group in Syria, among more than 1000 others competing for weapons and fighters, is “Daash”. The word is an acronym with its letters standing for “the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.”  Daash appeared on the scene here recently, about a year ago and some local observers believe it arrived via Iraq with large amounts of funding from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey…

Some recently reported Salisfist practices spreading in Syria include, but are not limited to the following:

*Females in Daash controlled areas of Aleppo and elsewhere are being prevented from wearing jeans and sweaters and must wear only the Islamic dress Abaya and Barkaa while forbidden from putting on any make-up or now, as of two weeks ago, to even leave their homes without a male escort. Some women in parts of Aleppo and Raqaa now refer to their neighborhoods as Tora Bora, Afghanistan, given the similarities of repression  between Taliban and Salafist treatment of women…

*No women’s clothing can be displayed in shop windows. Tailors shops must shut to men in the event of the women’s presence in the shop until she leaves.The Daash militia has long prevented women from seeking medical attention from male Doctors. Recently Daash has put into place prohibitions against women visiting doctors of either sex and it is not permissible for a woman to wear orthodontic devices such as teeth braces because straight teeth might attract men and in any case their bodies are under the stewardship of their husbands or fathers only.

*Daash has proclaimed that women who swim in the sea are in fact committing “adultery” — even if they wear a hijab because as with many other languages, Arabic nouns are gender specific, and “sea” is masculine and when the water touches the woman’s vaginal area she becomes an ‘adulteress’ and must be punished. Daash militias also forbid women from eating certain vegetables or even touching cucumbers, carrots or bananas, due to their phallic imagery, which may tempt women to deviate and it is also unacceptable for women to turn the air conditioning on at home during the absence of their husbands as this could be used as a sign to indicate to neighbors that the woman is at home alone and any of them could commit adultery with her.

You would think they’d have better things to do, wouldn’t you…But for some people there really is nothing better to do than devote your energies and attention and time to thinking up new ways to chivvy and bully and harass a person or set of people.

The Egyptian newspaper Al Masry Al Youm in its 11/15/13 edition reported that Daash variety Fatwas regard women as strange creatures created solely for sex. Daash considers the voices of women, their looks and presence outside of their homes an ‘offense” with some Salafists regarding women in general ‘offensive.’”

In other words women are basically just throbbing dripping vaginas that somehow can also walk and talk. What was Allah thinking?


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

Remember this?

Nov 28th, 2013 4:59 pm | By

Maryam has a perfect graphic.

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

Secular liberals and Islamists swap views

Nov 28th, 2013 4:48 pm | By

There’s a very good conversation going on the Facebook page for the event Protest Against Universities UK! No to gender apartheid! It’s a conversation between secular liberals and Islamists.

In any case you should know about the event if you’re going to be in or near London on December 10.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Time 5:00pm in UTC
On the occasion of the International Human Rights Day we oppose the legitimisation of forced gender segregation by Universities UK, the body representing the leadership of UK universities.

Universities UK has issued a guidance on external speakers saying that the segregation of the sexes at universities is not discriminatory as long as “both men and women are being treated equally, as they are both being segregated in the same way.” Outrageously, the document has been supported by the National Union of Students.

We will meet at 5pm to start the protest at 5.30pm.

A list of speakers to follow soon!

Read the call to action here.

A detailed analysis of the document can be found here.

This post by Chris Moos, in particular, has a lot of back and forth.

I have some valuable new friends now thanks to that page.

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

A fruitless attempt at dialogue

Nov 28th, 2013 3:34 pm | By

Peter Boghossian said something interesting on Facebook (via Twitter, I take it).

I was just called a radical feminist for opposing gender segregation at universities.

I’d just been talking about someone going by the name Abdullah Ali who commented on the Universities UK blog and blamed “EDL white surpemacists and radical feminists” for their knee-jerk responses to gender segregation, so I was interested, so I commented. But I should have known better, because I got called “cupcake” for my pains. It’s radical feminist of me to take exception to that.

While I was typing that comment he edited the one I was replying to, to say “Antifeminists?” instead of “You’ll figure it out”.


And this is why I’m a radical feminist. (Not in the sense of being a TERF. The older meaning: a feminist who wants to change the culture, not just the laws.) Because I get sick of being unable to have a conversation of that kind without being called “cupcake” or similar. I get sick of being casually automatically insulted just for being a woman by an ill-mannered man.

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