Notes and Comment Blog

What doesn’t kill us can still break our bones

Apr 21st, 2014 3:50 pm | By

NPR had a piece on bullying a couple of days ago, starting from a British study published this week in the American Journal of Psychiatry. The unsurprising finding? Bullying is not beneficial.

What doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger, right? Well, not when it comes to bullying.

Some may still consider bullying a harmless part of growing up, but mounting evidence suggests that the adverse effects of being bullied aren’t something kids can just shake off.

I can’t say I’ve ever considered bullying a harmless part of growing up. I didn’t have to think about it very hard when I was growing up, because there wasn’t any to speak of in my school. It was a tiny school, so it just wasn’t the kind of setting where bullying could go unnoticed. But I can’t recall ever thinking of it as some little thing that doesn’t matter, or is even healthy. It’s strange that anyone thinks of it that way. Bad things are bad.

People need to shift their thinking on bullying, Copeland says, from considering it a “harmless rite of passage” to “this kind of critical childhood experience that can really change one’s trajectory for decades and decades.”

Who thinks of it as a harmless rite of passage? What a callous idea.

Bullying is somewhat different today from what it was in the ’60s — cyberbullying on the Internet has extended its reach. Copeland says the concept remains the same: singling out a weaker person as the target for repeated intentional harm. It’s just that the abuse is no longer confined to schools and playgrounds, he says. It can happen in the no-longer-safe haven of a child’s home.

Or an adult’s.

Victims need some place where they can get away from the abuse and feel safe, Copeland tells Shots. “As you lose that, as you’re getting teased constantly, that can lead people to have much worse outcomes, and to feel like there’s really no way they can escape.

“As we see more and more studies like this,” Copeland says, “I think people are going to be more and more comfortable thinking of bullying in the same way we think of [other sorts of] maltreatment in childhood — as something that’s just not tolerated.”

Can we think of it that way for adults too? Starting right now?




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

Billionaire little guys fight back

Apr 21st, 2014 3:10 pm | By

Also, Cliven Bundy? He doesn’t have some kind of ancestral claim to that land.

Bundy, a multi-millionaire farmer who hasn’t paid for grazing rights on public lands for more than 20 years, also stands to garner substantial support from some very wealthy enemies of President Obama. Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group backed by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch (which spent $122 million trying to defeat Obama and other Democrats in 2012), is already instigating a campaign against the Bureau of Land Management on Bundy’s behalf. It began a social media campaign, using the hashtag #BundyBattle, and is taking to the Internet to mock the time and money the bureau has wasted (some $1 million according to its poster) fighting the “little guy.”

Oh please. Multi-millionaires are not the little guy.

Unlike Bundy, who claims his ancestors were homesteaders on his ranch in 1877 and never ceded it to the federal government, the Danns, two Western Shoshone sisters, were not trampling over land set aside for sensitive plants and animals. Nor were they getting rich off the land while, in essence, robbing the taxpayers of grazing fees.

The Danns have lived without running water or electricity their entire lives. Their tribe, the Western Shoshone, have lived in Nevada and parts west since time immemorial. The land was Shoshone land, and the U.S. formally agreed that was the case when it signed the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley, which explicitly stated that the Shoshone would never have to give up their land. That is, until the U.S. began encroaching on the land, claiming it for its own without the tribe’s consent or knowledge.

The Danns resisted, and got walloped by the feds; the Shoshone resisted, and got walloped by the feds.

A now-defunct U.S. department, the Indian Claims Court, ruled against the Western Shoshone’s claims that the U.S. had stolen their land on the grounds that the U.S. had already encroached on it for decades. In other words, the Western Shoshone couldn’t reclaim the land because the U.S. had already taken it.

The Shoshone still resisted, so the feds gave them some money for the land, which the Shoshone refused – but when the Danns sued, the Supreme Court ruled against them, because hey, the feds had paid for the land.

Desperate for relief, the Danns finally asked the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination for help to recover the millions of acres of land in Nevada and bordering states that belonged to the Western Shoshone. The U.N. ordered the U.S. to stop its actions against the Western Shoshone, and agreed with all the tribe’s grievances. This victory on paper did nothing; the U.S. government ignored it.

Cliven Bundy’s ancestors were interlopers too.

H/t Jadehawk


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

A conservative champion

Apr 21st, 2014 2:32 pm | By


Media Matters on Cliven Bundy:

Bundy has been in conflict with the federal government for decades over his refusal to pay grazing fees for his cattle herd’s use of public lands. A recent attempt by the Bureau of Land Management to enforce court orders allowing the confiscation of Bundy’s cattle to settle unpaid fees and fines was suspended due tosafety concerns after armed militias rallied to Bundy’s cause and some militia members pointed guns at BLM law enforcement.

Despite threats of violence from Bundy and his supporters — and the fact his legal claim against paying grazing fees is incredibly weak – right-wing media have praised Bundy as a conservative champion standing against an outsized federal government.


How is that any kind of “conservative” position? Conservatives go ballistic over any kind of waste or misuse of public funds; how is it a “conservative” cause to get behind a guy who helps himself to federal grazing land and refuses to pay for it? Conservatives go ballistic over the possibility that some poor person might be buying ice cream with food stamps; how is it a “conservative” cause to get behind a guy who uses public land without paying for it at all? Conservatives like law and order; a “conservative” cause to get behind a guy who refuses to pay money he owes and then threatens to shoot people who try to enforce his debt?

Why doesn’t the Mail on Sunday or the Daily Mail do an exposé on that?



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

Horrors, women protesting

Apr 21st, 2014 12:40 pm | By

There was a protest in Kolkata of what appears to be the protest Maryam was recently part of.

Kolkata: Several Muslim groups led a protest in Kolkata angered by photographs published in a Bengali Daily of women protesting in nude, with Arabic texts, including names of Allah and Prophet Muhammad.

The tabloid supplement of the Bengali Daily `Khabor 365 Din’ published photographs of women protesting in nude that irked some Muslims groups calling for a protest on March 11 from morning. Angry protesters set ablaze few copies of the newspaper `Khabor 365 Din’ and blocked the road at the Park Street Junction in Park Circus Area for what they termed as an attempt at “hurting the sentiments” of Muslims.

They termed wrong.

Protesters carried in their hands the copy of the picture printed in that newspaper at Park Street Mallickbazar Junction and surrounding area. Protesters sat on dharna outside the office of the newspaper.

`Khabor 365 Din’ carried their cover page of the tabloid entertainment supplement `Bibi’ with the lead heading `Nari Nirjataner Pratibade’ ( In protest against women torturing) with the sub heading `Bari Dibase Biswa jure Pratibad’ (Protest worldwide) and also published the caption `Pariser Luvor piramider samne femener pratibad’ (In front of Louvre Pyramid).

Maryam’s protest was in Paris, so that’s probably the same one.

Good job, Maryam!

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

A very carefully calculated piece of political propaganda

Apr 21st, 2014 12:21 pm | By

Also a good blog post on the Mail on Sunday’s amusing prank, at Where’s the Benefit?

Beyond the horror that they did this to a charity, we need to be very aware of exactly what was done here, and it is a far murkier story than many will realise. The Trussell Trust has been flagging up the massive growth in people seeking their help for the last year or more, and this is not a narrative that the government is happy with, in particular it seems to be driving Iain Duncan Smith towards apoplexy, and this week saw the launch of a coordinated attack on the Trussell Trust in the pages of, surprise, surprise, The Daily Mail with the claim that “Food bank charity ‘is misleading the public’: Claim that 1m need food parcels ‘just self promotion’” and ‘DWP sources’ (presumably code for IDS’s Special Advisors) alleging the charity was engaged in “misleading and emotionally manipulative publicity-seeking“. There is something deeply ironic that IDS, who brandishes his Catholicism at every opportunity, should choose Easter Week to launch a coordinated attack on a charity dedicated to feeding those in need.

It is and then again it isn’t. The Catholicism I’m most familiar with, that of Ireland, is all about being viciously cruel to poor people. Maybe IDS’s Catholicism is of that variety; the “call them scum, it will encourage them to stop being poor” variety.

This MoS story is actually a very carefully calculated piece of political propaganda designed to allow IDS and the Tory party to deny the reality of the foodbank crisis. Tory DWP minister and IDS-mouthpiece Lord Freud has repeatedly tried to claim that people go to foodbanks not because they are in need, but because it is free food; that strategy hasn’t been working because no one believes him. The MoS story clearly sets out with the intent of proving that Freud’s position is true, by inventing a story that makes it true. It then further twists the narrative by alleging that many of the people receiving food parcels were asylum-seekers, linking the foodbank issue to the xenophobic fears of the Mail’s Little Englander readership, and seeks to undermine the Trussell Trust figures by implying that there is massive fraud across the entire foodbank system.

Well, Cameron said “we’re” a Christian country. There’s your Christianity.


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


Apr 21st, 2014 10:57 am | By

More sarcasm:

Grev Williams's photo.

Tom Copley @tomcopley

NEXT WEEK’S MAIL ON SUNDAY EXCLUSIVE: How fire engines turned up at our reporter’s home when he reported a fire that DIDN’T EXIST

David Whitley @mrdavidwhitley

NEXT WEEK’S MAIL ON SUNDAY EXCLUSIVE: How the RNLI sent out three lifeboats in a perilous storm to rescue our reporter’s NON-EXISTENT boat.

hrtbps @hrtbps

In tomorrow’s Mail, as our reporter is given a full course of chemotherapy after faking cancer, we ask is the NHS wasting taxpayers’ money?

Crusading journalism forever!

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

“We fed 3000 of his fellow citizens last year”

Apr 21st, 2014 10:43 am | By

The manager of the scammed food bank comments:

Embedded image permalink

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

Long story short

Apr 21st, 2014 10:32 am | By

Of course there’s also satire.

Embedded image permalink

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

The great British public to the Mail on Sunday: Bite me

Apr 21st, 2014 10:27 am | By

The good news is, the loathsome Mail on Sunday hit piece motivated a lot of people to give money to the charitable trust that funds many UK food banks. Yaboosucks Daily Mail!

The largest provider of food banks in Britain has seen a huge surge in donations after a newspaper article criticising the charity sparked a social media funding drive.

The Trussell Trust says it is “overwhelmed by the public’s generosity” as a new appeal has now topped £38,000, a rise of well over £35,000 since before the article was published.

The Help Crack UK Hunger campaign launched at the start of the year and by 19th April had raised roughly £2,000, with 238 donations made. The total stands at £38,962 at the time of writing, after 3,540 donations.

So there, and fuck you.

Many of those donating on the website used their comments and tweets to cite the Mail on Sunday article as the reason behind their donation:


I donated to @trusselltrust food-bank charity (a bit less than @mark_haddondid). See his/my timeline as to the Daily Mail reason for it.


@trusselltrust excellent response & my thanks for all you & the 30,000 volunteers do to ease the pain & suffering of those most in need.

I’d love to think the Mail on Sunday intended that result, but…no.

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

Staff at Nottingham’s Citizens’ Advice Bureau

Apr 21st, 2014 10:14 am | By

About that Daily Mail on Sunday story that was all over the place yesterday -

Photo: So this happened today in the Mail on Sunday.  Among the absurdities, it states quite clearly they asked him loads of questions, despite the headline!

Yes, what about it? Just, how horrible it is; how perfectly hateful it is.

What the hell is that even for? To demonstrate that someone who goes to considerable trouble to ask for help eventually gets help to the tune of a few bags of food items? Why is that supposed to be a bad thing?

Why do so many people make a point of being so hateful?

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

Dozens of public figures

Apr 20th, 2014 5:52 pm | By

From a comment -

What horrible bullying garbage that is. It’s not a “Christian country”; that’s not a meaningful description, and if it were, the UK still wouldn’t fit it.

Yes, it is.

(Scroll down for Anglican.)

Heads of state government shouldn’t make untrue and coercive statements like that; it others most of the population.

What on earth are you talking about? (Also applies to the “bullying” stuff above?)

I’m not the only one. The Telegraph reports that “Dozens of public figures accuse David Cameron of fostering alienation and division with call to view Britain as a Christian country.”

David Cameron is sowing sectarianism and division by insisting that Britain is still a “Christian country” an alliance of writers, scientists, philophers and politicians has claimed.

In a letter to The Telegraph, 55 public figures from a range of political backgrounds accuse him of fostering “alienation” and actively harming society by repeatedly emphasising Christianity.

The group, which includes writers such as Philip Pullman and Sir Terry Pratchett, Nobel Prize winning scientists, prominent broadcasters and even some comedians argue that members of the elected Government have no right to “actively prioritise” religion or any particular faith.

Let’s check out that letter directly then.

We respect the Prime Minister’s right to his religious beliefs and the fact that they necessarily affect his own life as a politician. However, we object to his characterisation of Britain as a “Christian country” and the negative consequences for politics and society that this engenders.

Apart from in the narrow constitutional sense that we continue to have an established Church, Britain is not a “Christian country”. Repeated surveys, polls and studies show that most of us as individuals are not Christian in our beliefs or our religious identities.

Constantly to claim otherwise fosters alienation and division in our society. Although it is right to recognise the contribution made by many Christians to social action, it is wrong to try to exceptionalise their contribution when it is equalled by British people of different beliefs. This needlessly fuels enervating sectarian debates that are by and large absent from the lives of most British people, who do not want religions or religious identities to be actively prioritised by their elected government.

Sounds fair to me. Cameron is a politician, not a cleric. His job is political, not ecclesiastical.

The signatories:

Professor Jim Al-Khalil
Philip Pullman
Tim Minchin
Dr Simon Singh
Ken Follett
Dr Adam Rutherford
Sir John Sulston
Sir David Smith 
Professor Jonathan Glover
Professor Anthony Grayling
Nick Ross
Virginia Ironside
Professor Steven Rose
Natalie Haynes
Peter Tatchell
Professor Raymond Tallis 
Dr Iolo ap Gwynn 
Stephen Volk
Professor Steve Jones
Sir Terry Pratchett 
Dr Evan Harris
Dr Richard Bartle
Sian Berry
C J De Mooi
Professor John A Lee
Professor Richard Norman
Zoe Margolis
Joan Smith
Michael Gore
Derek McAuley
Lorraine Barratt
Dr Susan Blackmore
Dr Harry Stopes-Roe
Sir Geoffrey Bindman QC
Adele Anderson
Dr Helena Cronin
Professor Alice Roberts
Professor Chris French
Sir Tom Blundell
Maureen Duffy
Baroness Whitaker
Lord Avebury
Richard Herring
Martin Rowson
Tony Hawks
Peter Cave
Diane Munday
Professor Norman MacLean
Professor Sir Harold Kroto
Sir Richard Dalton
Sir David Blatherwick
Michael Rubenstein
Polly Toynbee
Lord O’Neill
Dr Simon Singh
Dan Snow



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

Our status as a Christian country

Apr 20th, 2014 2:23 pm | By

David Cameron threw a little Easter party the other day. He stood on a box and addressed a bunch of people who stood facing him with their hands folded tidily in front of them like subdued schoolchildren, and what he said was, there should be more of this kind of thing all around.

LAST week I held my fourth annual Easter reception in Downing Street. Not for the first time, my comments about my faith and the importance of Christianity in our country were widely reported.

Some people feel that in this ever more secular age we shouldn’t talk about these things. I completely disagree. I believe we should be more confident about our status as a Christian country, more ambitious about expanding the role of faith-based organisations, and, frankly, more evangelical about a faith that compels us to get out there and make a difference to people’s lives.

Who’s we, kemosabe?

What horrible bullying garbage that is. It’s not a “Christian country”; that’s not a meaningful description, and if it were, the UK still wouldn’t fit it. Heads of state government shouldn’t make untrue and coercive statements like that; it others most of the population.

Crucially, the Christian values of responsibility, hard work, charity, compassion, humility, and love are shared by people of every faith and none – and we should be confident in standing up to defend them.

Well then they’re not Christian, are they. Then there’s no point in calling them Christian, is there. If you want to talk about good values, do that; there’s no need to call them Christian, and it’s bad and harmful to call them Christian.

People who, instead, advocate some sort of secular neutrality fail to grasp the consequences of that neutrality, or the role that faith can play in helping people to have a moral code. Of course, faith is neither necessary nor sufficient for morality.

That makes no sense. It’s also untrue apart from the last sentence. It’s also stupidly vague – what “consequences of that neutrality”? It’s also utterly pointless, since he admits that “faith” is neither necessary nor sufficient for morality. Quite right, it’s not, so shut up about it.

Many atheists and agnostics live by a moral code – and there are Christians who don’t. But for people who do have a faith, that faith can be a guide or a helpful prod in the right direction – and, whether inspired by faith or not, that direction or moral code matters.

But secularism doesn’t mean obliterating that “faith” with fire and sword. It doesn’t touch it.

I call that party a dud.

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

Innately not interesting

Apr 20th, 2014 1:24 pm | By

Here’s someone I’ve never read – the historical novelist Philippa Gregory. She has a history PhD but got it just in time for Thatcher’s cuts to university courses, when jobs teaching 18th century history became scarce. She wrote a novel for the fun of it and whoops it was a best-seller so the university job was no longer required.

Her nose for a good story continued to serve her well, however; when Gregory “discovered” Mary Boleyn, she had been all but forgotten.

“There wasn’t a single book or essay about her. She was in the footnotes of other, allegedly more interesting, lives and only very occasionally at that. It took an exjourno and a woman historian to spot that actually she was rather extraordinary.”

To this day, Gregory is amazed at the patchy recording of women’s history – “We don’t even have a birth date for someone as famous as Anne Boleyn!” – and has made it her “life’s work” to balance out the history books.

“Even now there’s a prejudice that women didn’t operate the levers of power, weren’t effective and are innately not interesting.”

The “are innately not interesting” is the real killer. It’s why almost all movies are about Men, with women in bit parts as the Men’s recreational objects, when they’re not entirely absent. It’s why so many male novelists are so bad at writing women characters. It’s part of why women just get shoved aside and overlooked.

While people will always disagree about the interpretation of historical characters – “If you and I had a mutual acquaintance it’s unlikely we’d hold exactly the same view of her and we’d both have evidence to support our views” – there is no place for historical anachronism in Gregory’s world.

“I remember years ago reading [Hugh] Walpole’s novel on Judith Paris and she escapes by opening a window and climbing down a drainpipe – before sanitation had been invented. I was loving the novel up until that point but it completely lost me then and I always hold it in my mind as the sort of thing I don’t want a reader of mine to experience.”

Somebody invented the drainpipe? They weren’t just there, like leaves?

Given her fascination with kings and queens of the past, it comes as some surprise to learn that Gregory is a republican whose interest in our current monarchy is about as great as her interest in reality TV family The Kardashians.

“I have no particular interest in the goings-on of a group of wealthy, privileged people… it seems to me most of what they do is just gossip.

“There isn’t any real power there. They’ve become celebrities more than anything else and that doesn’t interest me at all. I’m in favour of a reduced monarchy. I think the idea of a social structure that isn’t democratic or meritocratic has no real place in modern society.

“The Tudors are interesting to me because the personality of the monarch determined their political role and vice versa. The sort of person they were affected the whole kingdom. But that hasn’t been the case for a long time now.”

I never have figured out who the Kardashians actually are. I think they’re an invention, like drainpipes.

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

Blood on the tracks behind him

Apr 20th, 2014 11:04 am | By

This is very cool. A panel discussion in 2009, with Dawkins, Tyson, Druyan, and Stenger, moderated by Grothe. At the Q and A there’s a question about genetic differences between women and men and their representation in science. Tyson takes it, and makes the point that we keep keep keep making. Druyan, on his left, is enthusiastic. Dawkins, on his right…maybe not so much.

That part starts at one hour one minute fourteen seconds.

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

Humanism at Work, July 18-20

Apr 20th, 2014 9:51 am | By

Heyup, there’s a new conference on the horizon. Here are details via Ed Brayton:

Foundation Beyond Belief, the nation’s largest humanist charitable organization, is holding its first national conference, “Humanism at Work,” July 18-20, 2014 at the Hilton Rosemont in Chicago, Illinois.

This conference, the first of its kind in the freethought community, centers on how nontheists can put their compassionate humanism to work for a better world. It will include TED-style presentations on philanthropy, volunteering, and community building, as well as practical workshops, panels, and hands-on volunteer opportunities.

Speakers include:

  • Evidence-based giving expert CAROLINE FIENNES
  • Nigerian humanist and human rights activist LEO IGWE
  • Atheist homelessness activist SERAH BLAIN
  • HEMLEY GONZALEZ, a humanist at work with the poor in Calcutta
  • Atheist authors HEMANT MEHTA and GRETA CHRISTINA
  • Social psychologist DR. BRITTANY SHOOTS-REINHARD
  • THE PATHFINDERS, three humanists just returned from a year of global service


To register, go to the Humanism at Work website. We’ve worked hard to keep the conference affordable at $129 before April 15 and $149 after that date. Included in that price is a formal dinner at which we will give away the Heart of Humanism awards to those who have put humanism into action in their local communities and around the world.

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

The plane passengers banded together

Apr 20th, 2014 9:34 am | By

Passengers on a plane in Sweden went on seat belt strike and saved a refugee from deportation to Iran.

Last week, an Iranian man reluctantly boarded a plane in Sweden. The refugee was being forced to return to his native country, where his life would likely be in danger, even though he had a wife — a Swedish resident — and two young children in Östersund.

So, before the flight, Ghader Ghalamere’s family and friends informed other passengers of his situation. Once aboard, the plane passengers banded together and refused to fasten their seat belts in a moving display of solidarity. The flight did not take off with Ghalamere aboard, the Independent reported.

According to local reports, though Ghalamere had a legal right to stay in the country through his marriage to a Swedish resident, he needed to secure permission while outside Sweden. He initially tried to do so by traveling to the Iranian Embassy in Norway to obtain a passport — since he arrived in Sweden as a refugee without identification in 2007 – but was denied. It was then that Sweden’s Migration Board reviewed the Kurdish man’s case and ordered his deportation to Iran.

The Migration Board has opened a new case now. The news coverage has made Ghalamere somewhat conspicuous, which might turn out to be sufficient reason not to deport him to Iran. Score.

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

Swirly crucifixion

Apr 19th, 2014 5:33 pm | By

Racking your brains for the right Easter present? (You do give Easter presents don’t you? Doesn’t everyone?)

I recommend some Swirly Crucifixion Pops – they’re on sale for 39 cents.


Or you could get a fancy chocolate or vanilla crucifix lollipop for $4.50.

Enjoy those edible torture devices!

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

What would the neighbors say?

Apr 19th, 2014 4:41 pm | By

One from the Center for Reproductive Rights:

A Dallas hospital has chosen to discriminate against two good doctors rather than protect women’s health.

Two weeks ago, the hospital revoked the doctors’ admitting privileges, specifically because—and they said as much—they provide abortion services.

That’s illegal, and we are fighting against the hospital’s decision in court.

Here’s what the hospital told them:

“[Your] practice of performing [abortions] is disruptive….[and] creates significant exposure and damages to [our] reputation within the community.”

What on earth? “Disruptive”? What is this, kindergarten? And how does it damage the hospital’s reputation, unless the hospital cares only about its reputation among Catholic priests and other anti-abortion fanatics. I don’t think hospitals are supposed to make medical decisions on frivolous arbitrary personal grounds like that.

Right now, Texas law requires doctors providing abortion to have admitting privileges at a local hospital—a requirement with far-reaching and dangerous consequences.

As we’re seeing in Dallas, hospitals can discriminate against providers. And if enough providers are denied privileges, clinics will close. Women seeking essential reproductive health care will have nowhere to turn.

This is no hypothetical “worst-case scenario.” Patients in McAllen, TX, for example, must drive 300 miles roundtrip just to see a doctor since their only local clinic has been forced to close.

Because it’s Texas.

There’s a later update:

Update: A state judge just temporarily reinstated the two doctors’ admitting privileges. But the fight is far from over. The case is still moving forward. 

The Texas Taliban strikes again.


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

Silence is seen as approval

Apr 19th, 2014 12:38 pm | By

Doctor NerdLove also talks about the bullying of women in geek culture.

Cold hard fact: geek culture has a problem with women. We have shown it time and time again. Tess Fowler. Anita Sarkeesian. Mattie Bryce. Zoe Quinn. Lea Hernandez. Colleen Doran. Gail Simone. Kate Leth. Laura Hudson. Jennifer Hepler. Alice Mercier.Courtney Stanton. Elizabeth Sampat.

Whenever the subject of how women are treated in geek culture comes up, people will immediately rush to dismiss and diminish and derail the conversation. They will argue that everyone takes shit online. Or that women just need to learn to grow a thicker skin because this is how the big boys do it. There will be people who want to say “it’s important to note that guys get this too!” or rush to complain that it’s not all men who do this. They will want to play “devil’s advocate” or complain that they don’t harass women so it’s unfair for people to bring it up because it’s “tarring men with a broad brush” or maligning otherwise well-meaning dudes so just shut up about it already because it’s not really a problem anyway because theirfriend is totally a woman and is cool with this shit and never gets threatened.

And so on and so on, and it’s all bullshit.

Because when people rush to qualify how it’s “not all men” or “it’s not a problem”, it’s a way of distracting from the two real issues at hand.

First: that it’s directed at women specifically because they are women. I write a lotabout feminist issues. I even have my own dedicated haters who crop up in the comments to complain every time I talk about anything smacking of feminism. And not only do I not get even a hundredth of the shit that Asselin has – or Lea Hernandez or Kate Leth or any of the other women I’ve mentioned earlier – but I’ve never had rape threats directed at me. Nor have 99% of the high-profile male writers and bloggers who cover the same issues. Nor do any of us get the same volume of violent threats. Or the stalkers. Or the harassment. Because for women, this doesn’t just stay on the Internet. It follows them  everywhere.

The second is that when people argue or derail the conversation about it, they’re trying to distract from the fact women are being threatened in order to shut them up. To make them go away. To chase them away from the community entirely. The “Beat Anita Sarkeesian” game wasn’t about refuting her arguments, it was about making the scary woman who (they think) is going to rob them of their gaming T&A go away. The harassment that Zoe Quinn faced for her game Depression Quest was because people wanted to make her stop talking. Jennifer Hepler had her children threatened because people didn’t like what she had to say about Dragon’s Age 2, a game she helped write. Janelle Asselin gets rape threats for criticizing a comic book cover. Kate Leth – an outspoken critic of the casual harassment and misogyny in geek culture – gets targeted by men who are determined to “punish” her for… making comics they don’t like.

Hating and bullying women is the cool thing. How did that happen?

Doctor goes on to say that just not bullying isn’t enough, because silence just enables the bullying.

…just “not being that guy” isn’t enough. If you don’t want to be tarred with the same brush as the cancerous assholes who target the women in our community, you need to speak up. Because this isn’t women’s problem. This is a man’s problem. It’s men who are the cause and it’s men who can and need to be the solution.

Because our silence is enabling them. Our silence is seen as approval. It’s validating their shitty behavior because nobody is speaking up against them.

And that is true in the community of atheists and skeptics, too.

See, we have the platform. We have the voice. We have the male privilege that says male voices have more impact, that we aren’t dismissed as easily. And we need to use it. We have to be the ones who make geek culture a place where this sort of toxic hate and abuse of women is unacceptable. Do not let this behavior go unremarked. Push back against idea that belittling, harassing or abusing women is somehow a masculine virtue, that it’s acceptable because “Internet, lulz” or “guys just being guys”. Marginalize these people. Isolate them. Excise them from the community – we don’t need them, we sure as shit don’t want them.

Atheists and skeptics please note.


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

88 remain in slavery

Apr 19th, 2014 12:07 pm | By

The Guardian put the count of missing schoolgirls in Nigeria at 88 last night, with 24 more having escaped.

The Borno state education commissioner, Musa Inuwo Kubo, said on Friday night some of the latest escapees were found on Wednesday nearly 50km from their school.

Extremists had attacked schools and slaughtered hundreds of students in the past year. In recent months they began kidnapping students, who they used as cooks, sex slaves and porters.

But this week’s mass abduction was unprecedented. The attackers also burned down many houses in the town.

I don’t even think “extremists” is the right word. They seem more like psychopaths. Their only goal seems to be to kill and destroy, while having slaves to cook for and fuck them when they’re not on the job of killing and destroying.

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