Notes and Comment Blog

Dog’s elevenses

Dec 22nd, 2013 3:17 pm | By

Laurie Penny amended her article slightly in response to the comments she got on Twitter.

Her second paragraph as she first wrote it:

The recent blanket coverage of the “gender segregation on campus” story was a textbook case. This month Student Rights, a pressure group not run by students, released a report vastly exaggerating a suggestion by Universities UK that male and female students might be asked to sit separately in some lectures led by Islamic guest speakers. The tabloids went bananas. Extremists were taking over the academy.

The amended version:

The recent blanket coverage of the “gender segregation on campus” story was a textbook case. This month Student Rights, a pressure group not run by students, released a report vastly exaggerating a suggestion by Universities UK that male and female students might be asked to sit separately in some lectures led by Islamic guest speakers. Many Asian women’s groups and individual Muslim feminists joined the subsequent protests, sometimes taking personal risks to do so. Unfortunately, rightwing commentators and tabloids seized upon the issue to imply that Islamic extremists are taking over the British academy.

That’s really not much of an improvement. As @CEMB_forum just pointed out on Twitter, it paints the “Asian women’s groups and individual Muslim feminists” as useful idiots, which is all the more galling since it still relies on grossly mistaken factual claims. To repeat: the Student Rights report on gender segregation was released last May, not this month, and the protest had nothing to do with Student Rights. Dog’s breakfast, dog’s dinner, dog’s midnight snack.

Also, Maryam for example did not “join” the protest, she fucking organized it. Also…Penny just can’t figure out the right way to label people. “Asian” is useless; there are non-Asians involved (who yet are not “white,” to use Penny’s catch-all word). “Muslim” is worse than useless because there are ex-Muslims and non-Muslims from Muslim-majority areas involved. Penny is too much in a hurry to label and docket everyone to take the time to grasp the fact that the protest was internationalist in nature. It wasn’t “white” and it wasn’t “black” either; it wasn’t “Asian” nor was it “European” (to use an equally meaningless label). It wasn’t “Muslim” nor was it atheist. It was based in solidarity, not in warring identities.

There’s an editorial note at the end:

This article was amended to draw attention to the fact that many Muslim and Asian women were involved in the “gender segregation” protests

Sigh. Point missed again.

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

Be sure not to support liberal feminists of Muslim background

Dec 22nd, 2013 12:52 pm | By

Alom Shaha alerted me to a tumblr post by King of Dawah.

Jemima Cheltenham – We Betray Our Principles By Supporting Them

As white liberal feminists we must oppose misogyny in all its forms.

Especially when we get scared by requests from Muslim feminists that we stand side by side with them in the face of angry reactionaries and passive aggressive sulking community leaders.

Yes, the Muslim liberals and feminists who are fighting for equal rights and against the dictates of clerics are very brave. But as white liberals we have to be even braver, by ignoring them, so we don’t get scared by scary men with beards demanding reactionary things who may call us racist for supporting women who struggle for the same rights as everyone else.


Read the whole thing.

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

Another dog’s breakfast

Dec 22nd, 2013 12:04 pm | By

Oh christ, not again. This time it’s Laurie Penny getting it all wrong.

This isn’t ‘feminism’, says the title, It’s Islamophobia. The title isn’t directly the fault of the author, since editors write the titles, but that one does reflect what the article says, and it’s the same old crock of shit.

As a person who writes about women’s issues, I am constantly being told that Islam is the greatest threat to gender equality in this or any other country – mostly by white men, who always know best.

Well that can happen, yes. (Dear Muslima? Yes. It can happen.) But that doesn’t mean that there is no problem with conservative Islam and Islamism when it comes to gender equality, just as there are problems with conservative Christianity, the Vatican, conservative Judaism – you get the idea. Liberal, secular versions of religion are mostly benign, epistemology apart, but it doesn’t follow that all versions of religion are.

…from the Rochdale grooming case to interminable debates over whether traditional Islamic dress is “empowering” or otherwise, the rhetoric and language of feminism has been co-opted by Islamophobes, who could not care less about women of any creed or colour.

The recent blanket coverage of the “gender segregation on campus” story was a textbook case. This month Student Rights, a pressure group not run by students, released a report vastly exaggerating a suggestion by Universities UK that male and female students might be asked to sit separately in some lectures led by Islamic guest speakers. The tabloids went bananas. Extremists were taking over the academy.

Never mind that it wasn’t strictly true, the non-controversy spread to every level of government. Labour MP Chuka Umunna declared: “A future Labour government would not allow or tolerate segregation in our universities.” Even the prime minister stepped into the debate, saying the proposed guidelines, which have since been withdrawn, were “not the right approach”. The elite all-male Oxford club of which both he and the chancellor were members was presumably the perfect approach.

Sigh. Notice how completely she ignores the December 10 protest. Notice how wrong she gets the facts – the Student Rights report was not released this month, it was released last May. Naturally it said nothing about the UUK guidance, because the UUK guidance didn’t exist at the time. Notice how she jumps from that to the spread of the controversy, thus getting the whole thing completely wrong.

(I should say that people are arguing with her on Twitter right now, as I type this, and she is admitting some omissions. Fair dues. [But I wish people would get this right before writing about it instead of after.] But she persists in saying she supports “Muslim feminists.” I’ve asked her about six times now, what about ex-Muslim, Muslim background, allies? And she’s ignoring me. Ok, I’m a nobody, and I’m not a “Muslim”…but then that’s my point, which is that she’s excluding allies, and that’s…neither progressive nor helpful.)

I have spent weary weeks being asked to condemn this “policy of gender segregation” by “Islamic extremists”, despite the fact that no such policy exists.

Yes it does.

I am not writing here on behalf of Muslim women, who can and do speak for themselves, and not all in one voice. I am writing this as a white feminist infuriated by white men using dog-whistle Islamophobia to derail any discussion of structural sexism; as someone who has heard too many reactionaries tell me to shut up about rape culture and the pay gap and just be grateful I’m not in Saudi Arabia; as someone angered that so many Muslim feminists fighting for gender justice are forced to watch their truth, to paraphrase that fusty old racist Rudyard Kipling, “twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools”.

In short, by the whole genre of “Dear Muslima.” Fine, but that’s not what happened in this case.

For decades, western men have hijacked the language of women’s liberation to justify their Islamophobia. If we care about the future of feminism, we cannot let them set the agenda.

We’re not. That’s not what happened in this case. Start over.


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

He knows a hawk from a handsaw

Dec 21st, 2013 5:43 pm | By

Is Anjem Choudary a joke or not? Maybe not, according to Sunder Katwala in the New Statesman blog (the Staggers blog called the Staggers).

Choudary backed out of a Panorama interview, apparently because he didn’t want to be pressed on his lack of truthfulness about how well he knew Michael Adebolajo, one of the accused in the murder of Lee Rigby in Woolwich.

Normal service was resumed this morning – as Choudary was given the prestige 8:10am slot on the Today programme. Choudary refused, as usual, to condemn a murder that he has previously been willing to condone and justify. But he was not asked the questions that he pulled out of thePanorama interview to avoid, or about whether his links with Adebolajo went deeper than he claims. Nor was any other British Muslim voice offered the opportunity to counter him, though the government’s anti-terror coordinator Alex Carlile was invited to offer context afterwards.

Doesn’t sound like a mere joke, being interviewed on the Today programme. Anyway even jokes can commit mass murder or organize others to do so.

No broadcast organisation has offered a clear account of how they make these choices – or whether they accept that there is any tension between the journalistic job of scrutinising extremism, the shock entertainment value of platforming the most outlandish and least representative views, and the role of contextualising those views too. Instead, they too often speak with forked tongues. Take Daybreak’s Jonathan Swain’s tweet last summer after Choudary popped up on the sofa to make the case for murder. “Just interviewed Anjem Choudary on @Daybreak who claimed the murder of Lee Rigby was justified. What a Disgusting and offensive view”. As Claude Rains might have said in Casablanca, how shocking it must have been for the programme to discover that they had booked such an extremist voice to express his well known and frequently repeated views.

Very well known. I’ve been following reportage on him for years. That’s why I’ve heard so often that he’s a joke.

It is difficult for the media to resist the temptation of platforming a man who often thinks like a newsdesk, and is willing to provide a cartoonish story, as with his recent protests against alcohol. But, as Hope Not Hate’sinvestigation into the Al Maharajoun hate group shows, there is a strong accumulation of evidence to support the view that Choudary is considerably more dangerous than his clownish media persona may imply. As Nick Lowles and Joe Mulhall write: “Behind his media-grabbing and provocative stunts lies a group that is a gateway to terrorism, at home and abroad. While Choudary might not have been directly involved in terror plots, he helped shape the mindset of many of those behind them”.

Perhaps he was doing a Hamlet, a Claudius, a Columbo – pretending to be a lot more of a joke than he really is, so that he can do the serious shit under the noses of the spies and journalists.

The important question again arising out of the Woolwich murder for Anjem Choudary is whether he may deserve somewhat more of the moral responsibility for the killing of Lee Rigby than he has sought to claim publicly. It is, as Hope Not Hate set out clearly, a recurring question across several attempts at violence and terrorism. That was probably a question to be scrutinised in a reported package, rather than letting Choudary tap-dance around John Humphrey’s questions in the style of a cabinet minister.

But would it have been good radio?



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

The hole is too small

Dec 21st, 2013 5:13 pm | By

There’s a clinic in West London that undoes a small part of the damage done by Female Genital Mutilation, specifically infibulation. It makes the hole bigger.

Dr Naomi Low-Beer, Consultant Gynaecologist at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, and lead doctor for the FGM service at the West London clinic, performs the invaluable reversal surgery. She explained: “With the most severe type of FGM, the clitoris and labia have been totally removed, the vaginal opening closed, with a tiny passage left for urine and menstrual blood. This makes sex painful or impossible.

“Women with this type of FGM do benefit from surgery. It is often referred to as ‘reversal’, but rather than reversing the FGM the surgery opens the vagina so that women can have sex without pain. Otherwise, it can take months and months of painful attempts at penetration.  A number of women come in to have the surgery pre-marriage or before their first relationship, and others come because they are suffering from repeated urine and vaginal infections or very painful periods. The surgery can help women with these problems too. It can be safely performed under local anaesthetic in the outpatient clinic. In offering this service, you feel like you’re making a difference.”

Not a reversal. Far from it.

FGM has been a criminal offence since 1985 and the 2003 Female Genital Mutilation Act made it illegal for British citizens and permanent residents to practice FGM within and outside the UK. To date, there have been no prosecutions. By comparison, France has convicted around 100 parents and practitioners.

Misplaced cultural sensitivities, a failure to see FGM as a child protection issue and a lack of accountability have so far impeded successful prosecutions taking place, Mrs Dorkenoo said. “The issue needs to be brought into the mainstream as a child abuse issue through a combination of education, protection and prosecutions.”

Momentum is growing in the campaign to raise awareness and eliminate FGM with the government making it a national priority.  Last month, the London Metropolitan Police have, for the first time, arrested two people suspected of performing FGM on a five-week old girl. The case is under investigation and a  successful prosecution would be a landmark victory and an important step to achieving the goal of eliminating FGM.

And that will free up Dr Naomi Low-Beer to fix things that were not caused by human fetishes and stupidity.

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

Mexico has first dibs

Dec 21st, 2013 4:34 pm | By

Ah, Texas. Texas, Texas.

The Gay Star News (geddit? Lone Star state?) reports on a Texas Republican who hopes to be elected governor.

Texas Republican Larry SECEDE Kilgore hopes to win the support of LGBTI voters in his bid to become governor of the state – but then plans to secede from the United States and introduce Biblically based laws, including the death penalty for homosexuality.

Sounds like a winner. “Support my campaign for governor, then when elected, I will do my best to get laws passed that will make your existence a crime punishable by death.” Who could resist such an offer?

Kilgore, who legally changed his middle name to SECEDE last year, hopes that gay voters will support him and his bid to make Texas its own country to avoid what he says are the US Federal Government’s oppressive taxes and promises that he won’t try to introduce anything like the death penalty until Texas is independent.

‘The only position I have is secession,’ Kilgore told Lone Star Q on Monday.

‘I am a Christian, and I have lots of Christian beliefs. However, I am trying to build a coalition of all different types of people. I look at the lesbians and the homosexual folks and I say, “Hey, DC is stealing my money just like they’re stealing your money.” After we get our freedom, then we can decide all that stuff — hopefully at a county level.”

Cool. First the state secedes, then it starts executing teh gayz at a county level. Nothing to object to in that. If one county gets unpleasant, there’s always another county, unless there isn’t.

to woo more progressive voters who would like to see Texas become a country, he has promised to step down after achieving that goal and stay out of power for at least a year before running for office again – at which point he would then seek biblical punishments for homosexuals.

‘I would very much approve of a biblical law that prevented homosexual behavior in the new nation,’ Kilgore said.

‘According to the Bible, it should be execution, if anyone participates in that activity.’

However Kilgore said he was open to the idea of different areas of Texas having different laws on homosexuality and would support candidates who were gay as long as they wanted to make Texas its own country.

Well he’s really quite a tolerant and liberal guy, if you look closely. Right now he wants teh gayz killed, but he’s open to alternatives. I’m impressed.

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

And while I’m at it

Dec 21st, 2013 4:01 pm | By

The Fish Slapping Dance. It’s an important accessory for revenge fantasies.

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

Sums it up

Dec 21st, 2013 3:30 pm | By

Very well.

Thorsten Kahlert's photo.

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

Judith Butler turned down the Civil Courage Award from Berlin Pride

Dec 21st, 2013 10:48 am | By

And then there’s “homonationalism.”

There’s what?

Let Robyn Brush at Representation and the Body explain it for you, in a post from February 2012 titled Judith Butler Speaks Out Against Homonationalism.

In June of 2010, Judith Butler turned down the Civil Courage Award from Berlin Pride, critiquing the organizers’ association with homonationalism.  She said that if she could, she herself would award the prize to the number of activist groups which work to fight both racism and homophobia.

But what exactly is homonationalism?

In her speech, which was received with much applause from the audience and contempt on the part of the organizers, Butler described the problem as such: “Lesbian, gay, trans, and queer people can be used [by] warmongers involved in cultural wars against immigrants through labored Islamophobia and military wars against Iraq and Afghanistan.  In this time, through these instruments, we become recruited for nationalism and militarism.”

Homonationalism is using a nation’s liberalism towards homosexuality as a means to encourage racist attitudes towards other nations, on grounds that they are less enlightened.



Is it really racist to oppose, say, Uganda’s harsh anti-gay law? Is it really racist to attempt to give LGBT Ugandans and their friends and allies support in the face of attacks and imprisonment? Is it really racist to point out the part played by evangelicals from the US in stoking homophobia in Uganda?

I get that all this can be very entangled. People can both support gay rights and have xenophobic and/or racist attitudes; people can combine the two in a disquieting amalgam of human rights and hostility; but this version is simplistic at best.

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

Fons et origo

Dec 21st, 2013 9:45 am | By

I think I know where Pryiamvada Gopal got her distorted and ignorant idea of the people behind the protest against gender segregation. I think she read a repellent article at “Loonwatch” on the website “Islamophobia Today” titled UK: Islamophobes Manufacture “Gender Segregation” Controversy. It’s wrong in just the way her article is wrong, and it does it a few days earlier.

The author is billed as “Ilisha.”

An Islamic society wants to host a university event where–gasp!–men and women are seated separately. Suddenly this minor event is major news in the UK.

Yes, “gasp,” Ilisha. It’s not just routine and normal for university events to seat women and men separately.

People who apparently never planned to attend the event in the first place have decided they must publicly protest “gender apartheid,” an intolerable affront to their sensibilities. There is no evidence men and women who planned to attend the event complained, yet the controversy has become the subject of a national debate of such importance, Prime Minister David Cameron has weighed in on the matter.

What a charming tone – as if people ought not to consider gender apartheid an intolerable affront to their sensibilities – as if institutional inequality should just be accepted, or even embraced.

The event gained the national spotlight through the efforts of Student Rights, a group affiliated with the Henry Jackson Society. In other words, the “controversy” has its roots in the incestuous Islamphobia network operating on both sides of the Atlantic.

Emphasis hers.

See there? The same ignorant mistake Gopal made: thinking Student Rights was behind the protest, when it had nothing to do with it.

She goes on to give an irrelevant denunciation of the Henry Jackson Society and a bunch of other societies that had nothing to do with the protest, then triumphantly winds up:

The “gender segregation” campaign in the UK is reminiscent of the manufactured “Ground Zero mosque” controversy a few years back in the US. Once again, a minor (non-)event has been transformed into a national debate by the usual suspects. The purpose is to generate another round of anti-Muslim hysteria.

As Associate Director at the Henry Jackson Society, Douglas Murray, has openly stated“Conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board.”

Emphasis again hers. Several paragraphs, none of them relevant to the December 10 protest.

Not the most reliable or careful source I’ve ever seen.


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

Taslima is banned yet again

Dec 20th, 2013 6:03 pm | By

Taslima is Finally, Banned.

The drama series or mega serial are banned.

The story of three sisters who are struggling to live with dignity and honour is banned.

The truth is banned.

Lies won. Insanity won. Fatwas won. Threats won. Barbarism won.

A bunch of faith-heads, hate mongers, anti-freespeech, filthy misogynist fanatics won.

The government of West Bengal in India made them win. On the 19th of December, 2013.

That sounds like a drama series or mega serial I would kill to see. Mind you it would have to be subtitled, but I’ve never minded that. I would so love to see a series about three sisters written by the mind that’s inside Taslima’s head.

Not a single episode was telecasted, but the government banned the TV drama series, the project that could continue for more than a decade.

Liberal intellectuals are silent about the banning of my serial in India. They protest when Hindu fundamentalists violate a writer’s freedom of expression. They even protest when Muslim fundamentalists attack on a writer’s free speech. But only when that writer is a male, macho, anti-feminist, Salman Rushdie.

We, the ordinary people protested on twitter against the banning of the mega serial. Many people criticized India’s vote bank politics. The politicians are accused of appeasing Muslim religious leaders in India in order to get Muslim votes. This vote bank politics is destroying the democratic principles of the world’s largest democracy.

India, “the world’s largest democracy.” It may be a democracy but it’s not a secular democracy. Theocratic democracies are scary.

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

Miscarriage of medicine

Dec 20th, 2013 5:30 pm | By

The ACLU and MergerWatch have combined forces to put out a report on the growth of Catholic hospitals and the threat to reproductive health care [pdf]. There’s also a press release.

With the rise of Catholic hospitals has come the increasing danger that women’s reproductive health care will be compromised by religious restrictions. The Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (the Directives), issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), govern care at these facilities. The Directives prohibit a range of reproductive health services, including contraception, sterilization, many infertility treatments, and abortion care, even when a woman’s health or life is in danger. Moreover, they often restrict even the ability of hospital staff to provide patients with full information and referrals for care that conflict with religious teachings.

This can be lethal. Not figuratively or loosely, but literally: it can cause death.

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

Annals of pointless hatred

Dec 20th, 2013 4:03 pm | By

Today for our lesson in pointless stupid unreasoned hatred, we go to the Chicago suburb of Morton Grove, and its library, which rejected a donation of about $3,000 from Hemant Mehta, because atheism.

Hemant Mehta, a Naperville teacher who writes a blog called the Friendly Atheist, launched a fundraising campaign after a local veterans group, American Legion Post 134, pulled funding and volunteer resources from the Park District because of a park board member’s refusal to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.

Oh, there’s another item for the annals of pointless hatred. Let’s go to the Morton Grove Champion for more on that item.

Morton Grove Park Commissioner Dan Ashta was two minutes late to the Nov. 21 monthly board meeting, missing both the Pledge of Allegiance and a quarter of the meeting.

“If I had been on time, I still would have sat down during the pledge,” Ashta said after the eight-minute meeting. “No one has told me that my legal interpretation is wrong and I’ve pledged my allegiance to the Constitution of the United States. I see no reason to change my stance.”

Joseph Lampert, commander of American Legion Post 134, told the Park Board on Oct. 24 that $2,600 in donations will be withheld until all members of the board, specifically Ashta, stand for the Pledge of Allegiance out of respect for veterans and fallen servicemen.

What the hell?

Nobody has to stand for the bit of doggerel known as “the pledge of allegiance.” Nobody. It’s not a real thing. It’s not like a red light or a stop sign or passport control or someone’s front door. It’s just a bit of doggerel. It’s not like the oath people take when they become citizens of the US, or the one they take when they go into the military. It’s just a bit of doggerel. Nobody has to bend any knee to it. It actually should be ruled unconstitutional, since it was passed by Congress and has a knee-bend to god in it. Congress has no business telling us to bend any knees to god.

The American Legion can set any criteria for a donation it wants to, I suppose, but some criteria are a lot stupider and more bossy than others. This pledge one is very stupid and bossy. Not wanting to recite a dopy piece of doggerel has nothing to do with respect for veterans and people killed in wars.

Ashta maintains that he’s defending the public’s First Amendment right to not participate for whatever political, religious or physical reason a given person might have.

“It upsets me that veterans are upset, because I do appreciate everything they’ve done,” Ashta said.

I don’t even understand why they are upset; the “pledge” is nothing to do with respect for veterans and casualties.

So back to the Morton Grove library.

Library Board Treasurer Catherine Peters said she stopped library staff from depositing the check this month, calling it a matter that should be voted on by the board.

Board President Mark Albers, who voted to accept the donation, said he had no idea whether the money was from Mehta’s fundraising campaign or Mehta himself.

But many board members were more alarmed by the nature of Mehta’s blog and the ethical implications posed by accepting money from him.

Peters referred to the blog as a “hate group.”

Well, that’s wrong.

I blame Fox News.

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

Your life is not your own

Dec 20th, 2013 3:14 pm | By

Spain has passed a new anti-abortion law to replace current legislation permitting the procedure without restrictions until the 14th week.

Justice minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón said on Friday that abortion will only be allowed in the case of rape or when there is a serious mental or physical health risk to the mother. Accredited fetal deformities that would endanger a child’s life if born will also be accepted.

He said 16- and 17-year-olds will once again have to obtain permission from their parents to have an abortion.

Gallardon’s ruling Popular party has always sided heavily with the Catholic church on moral and social issues.

With the Catholic church, and against women and people in general who want to be able to decide whether and when to have children.

Naturally, not everyone is pleased.

“These changes have more to do with politics and ideology than social realities today in Spain,” said Francisca García of the Asociación de Clínicas Acreditadas para la Interrupción del Embarazo, the umbrella group that represents 98% of the country’s abortion clinics.

“From all the data we’ve seen, the number of abortions in Spain is actually on the decline,” she said. “The People’s party is trying to satisfy the rightwing factions of its party.”

Given the economic crisis that has gripped the country, “there is little public demand for this initiative. These are secondary problems compared to the crisis,” said García.

According to the organisation, recent data it had analysed showed that of the 118,000 or so abortions that took place in 2011, nearly 100,000 would be illegal under the expected changes.

So that could mean 100 thousand women’s lives messed up every year, to say nothing of the men and children also affected by the woman’s inability to decide for herself.

Elena Valenciano, the deputy secretary general of Spain’s Socialist party, spoke out against the Catholic church in April, accusing it of trying to diminish women’s say over their own bodies.

“And women, that is to say mothers, don’t they have a word in this? Ministers, judges, bishops, scientists are going to decide what we should do with our motherhood. Yes, they know. We obey and shut up. Amen,” she vented on her Facebook page.

Women’s groups across the country echo her views. “This is a fight for control over women’s bodies,” said Yolanda Besteiro, president of the Federación de Mujeres Progresistas.

“For so many generations, so many Spanish women have fought for equality,” she said. “They have had some tremendous successes, including a past government that counted as many female ministers as male. But now it seems like their fight was worth nothing.”

Cheer up. There’s a new pope, and lots of people say he’s a real sweetie.

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

But suddenly everything is dead. Everybody is silent.

Dec 20th, 2013 12:06 pm | By

Taslima wrote a post about banning and censorship two days ago, when the axing of her serial was threatened but not yet a reality. Go read it and look at it; it’s full of pictures of Taslima on billboards advertising the serial. There was a huge buzz about this serial.

But suddenly everything is dead. Everybody is silent. The channel, the producers, the artists all are shocked.

The police and a bunch of Muslim fanatics both asking the channel to ban my TV serial. The funny thing is that the serial has not started going on air but fanatic Mullahs started claiming that my serial ‘could hurt the sentiments of the community’. Mullahs don’t know about the story of the serial but they want to ban it because I have written it. They not only want to vanish me physically, they want to make all my ideas and thoughts vanished. I think they learn the trick from the West Bengal government. The West Bengal government banned my book in 2003 by claiming that my book could hurt the sentiments of Muslims. Mullahs have learned from the government that Muslim sentiments are very precious, their sentiments must not be hurt. So Muslim fanatics have the right to ban films, books, or whatever they like before they even read or watch those, to protect their so called sentiments.

Because they “were told” that their “sentiments” MIGHT be hurt. Some anonymous messenger told them of a bare possibility that their sentiments might be hurt, and they considered that grounds for censorship.

Ads say that the serial is about women’s struggle against dowry, trafficking etc. but the mullahs are saying that it is based on my life. These lunatic fringe try to find an excuse for their insanity. I am banned in West Bengal. So they think books written by me should be banned, anything based on my life should also be banned. These Muslim fanatics are minority in India, but the supports they get from the governments and the politicians make them more powerful and more lunatic.

Taslima quotes from a source:

In a press Conference Shahi Immam of Tipu Sultan Mosque of Kolkata Maulana Nurur Rahman Barkati and All India Minority Forum president Idris Ali said on 14 December that they are opposed to the Bengali channel broadcasting serial on the controversial author’s life.

Maulana Nurur Rahman informed that he has also spoke to the West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee on the issue. Extolling the WB CM of being symbol of communal harmony, the Shahi Imam appealed to her to intervene and immediately stop the broadcast of the serial.

Idris Ali said that there are so many writers even within the country and we don’t necessarily need to follow the controversial Bangladeshi author.

Muhammad Kamruzzaman sent a letter on behalf of 22 Muslim organizations to the Police Commissioner of Kolkata Mr Surajit Kar Purkayashta on 13 December to stop the broadcast, which according to them would disturb the communal harmony in the state.

The claustrophobic brain-dead horribleness of it speaks for itself.

That was two days ago. The program wasn’t yet axed. The station was still squirming in the attempt to get free.

Now all the TV ads about the mega serial with my name and videos are censored. My name and pictures are erased from all the ads. My name is deleted from their Facebook page. The channel is probably trying hard to compromise with violent fanatics.

They are going to remove all the billboards. But will they be able to make fanatics happy? I do not think so. Fanatics will go as far they can. They know very well that nobody would come to support me in India.

These fanatics are very good friends of the government. The politicians appease Muslim fanatics because these fanatics lead a very big group of ignorant Muslims. Who doesn’t want to get Muslim votes? They are 25% of the population.

The channel is now giving a statement:

The statement says :

All characters of the serial are entirely fictional. No character of the serial is based on real people. The writer of this serial is NOT coming to Kolkata. The serial has no purpose to hurt anyone’s sentiments. It is not going to hurt sentiments of any religion or any community. It will definitely show respect to all religious communities.

The producers are trying everything to telecast the serial. Ordinary people are eager to watch it. The channel already invested a lot of money for the serial. They are now in a very bad situation. They are not getting government’s supports. All the intellectuals are silent. Many are pro-Islamist leftists, they believe I am not worthy to get their supports because I criticize Islamists. Some think it is a Muslim issue, they should not be involved. The rest are just cowards.

This is another one of those times when we need to combine our voices to make a stink.

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

Dignity or prison, those are the choices

Dec 20th, 2013 11:31 am | By

A new amnesty law was passed in Russia this week, so Pussy Riot members Nadya Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina will be freed from prison three months sooner than scheduled. They were in the slammer for “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred or hostility.” They’ve been in for nearly two years. Putin has no qualms.

In a news conference, President Vladimir Putin expressed no regret for the Pussy Riot members. “I was not sorry that they ended up behind bars,” he said. “I was sorry that they were engaged in such disgraceful behavior, which in my view was degrading to the dignity of women.”

Ah, I see – so women doing something that a guy views as “degrading to the dignity of women” deserve to spend two years at hard labor in a particularly harsh prison. Well that certainly gives me a high opinion of men’s views of what is degrading to the dignity of women.

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

Taslima’s tv serial axed

Dec 20th, 2013 10:53 am | By

You already know why, without looking for more. Concerns; community; sentiments; been told; might hurt; controversy. The Times of India tells the sordid tale:

Abdul Aziz of minority group Milli Ittehad Parishad said they had written to the producers asking them to withdraw Taslima’s name and reference from the serial and withdraw scenes that might create a controversy. “We have been told that there are some scenes in the serial that might hurt our sentiments. Through this serial she is trying to come back to Kolkata. Therefore we have opposed this,” Aziz said.

Oh well then. If you have been told there are some scenes in the serial (that you have not seen) that might hurt your sentiments (which of course must not be hurt because whateverthefuck) then by all means write to the producers asking them to withdraw Taslima’s name and reference from the serial and withdraw scenes that might create a controversy, because you get to decide. You and your “we” get to decide.

Influential Muslim religious leaders echoed Aziz’s concern. Maulana Quari Fazlur Rehman said, “Good that this was done else it would have spread disquiet among the Muslim community. This would have vitiated the atmosphere.” Nakhoda Masjid Imam Md Shabir added, “She is one of those persons who revels in denigrating a particular religion and its Prophet. Why does the Centre give her so much liberty? She inflames passions by her words and deeds, poses a grave law and order risk and yet we give her refuge.”

Maulana Nur-ur Rahman Barkati, Shahi Imam of the Tipu Sultan Mosque in Kolkata, said, “We will not allow the channel to show the serial at all”. Idris Ali, who chairs the Trinamool Congress Minority Cell, alleged that Taslima was trying to break peace and harmony in the state. “We will not let her do that,” Ali said.

The voice of theocracy.

Then Taslima is allowed to speak.

“It is unbelievable that the state government has banned the serial that is about women’s rights. Some Muslim fundamentalists objected and the serial was taken off. The fundamentalists do not have any inkling about the story line and still they want to stop it, only because it is scripted by me. Perhaps their grudge is directed at me for writing ‘Lajja’, which I wrote two decades ago,” Taslima told TOI from Delhi. She lamented that the state government was not allowing her to stay in Kolkata.

According to Bangaldesh-born author, the story line is based on three sisters – one with dark complexion not getting married though she is intelligent. Her father cannot afford to pay dowry. The other sister is a victim of sexual assault and the third is a student. “The story revolves around these three sisters. So the Muslim fundamentalists have nothing to fear about. It has nothing against fundamentalism,” she said.

The idea of the serial was conceived long back, when Taslima was staying in Kolkata. “The director had even completed shooting 30 episodes while I was in Kolkata. But it got stalled after I was forced out of the city. It’s unfortunate that it got stalled again after the producers spent so much money on shooting 50 episodes and advertising the serial.”

Could the BBC and PBS pick it up? And the CBC and the ABC and is there a BC in New Zealand?

I want to see it.

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

Very welcome

Dec 19th, 2013 6:19 pm | By

The British Humanist Association has a statement on LSE’s apology for the bullying of Chris Moos and Abhishek Phadnis for wearing Jesus and Mo Tshirts at the LSE Freshers Fair.

Professor Calhoun of the LSE wrote to the students involved ‘acknowledging that, with hindsight, the wearing of the t-shirts on this occasion did not amount to harassment or contravene the law or LSE policies,’ and he also said, ‘LSE takes its duty to promote free speech very seriously, and as such, will discuss and learn from the issues raised by recent events.’ (more…)

Long long night

Dec 19th, 2013 6:09 pm | By

Ah, yes. I know this one. The Stare.

I know this one and it made me laugh and it’s almost the longest night of the year, so I figure you need it.

Via Life With Petz

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

Guest post by Bernard Hurley on making judgements

Dec 19th, 2013 4:47 pm | By

Originally a comment on Why the one and not the other replying to “Minow”.

It would surprise me, because it would seem to be a very upfront admission that you are not applying any principle at all, but merely wanting to permit those freedoms that you find amenable and forbid those you don’t like the look of. This is generally the position of liberals I meet, but it is rare to have them own it.

Nice try, Minow. So you have some debating skills after all! I have to say that being as ancient as I am – I was born in the first half of the last century – I have been called many things, but I can’t recall having been accused of being a liberal since at least the mid 70′s. But it was never just “liberal,” it was always something like “soggy liberal” or “bourgeois liberal” and was considered mildly insulting. On the other hand, I hail from a long line of Irish peasants, gypsies and horse thieves, many of whom would have been gratified to learn that one of their number would one day be promoted to such dizzy heights, even if only in your fevered imagination. So, since I’m obviously unable to attain your level of political sophistication, if you want to call me a liberal, OK I’ll be a liberal; just don’t make me wear the badge permanently.

So I’m not applying any principle at all. Maybe not. I value things like freedom, compassion, fairness, kindness and rationality; I don’t claim I always live up to these values, but if by applying a principle you mean dogmatically following some pre-ordained recipe without taking into account such values, without regard to the manifest consequences of one’s actions and without taking into account any cogent arguments there may be for not following the recipe in a particular instance, then I freely admit to not applying any principle. When I say that a case can be made for women only accommodation on public transport late at night, I don’t pretend it wouldn’t involve coercion, of course it would. I accept this and make an argument for allowing it in this case. You, on the other hand, make no argument for segregated public meetings but seem content to carry on denying the obvious.

As to whether I merely want to permit those freedoms I find amenable and to forbid those I don’t like the look of, you may well be right. It doesn’t seem like that to me, but it is always difficult to judge one’s own motives. On the other hand who are you to judge? If you find that question difficult to answer let me help you out:

When you have been thrown out of college for a year because you dared to question their connections with a racist regime (at that time apartheid South Africa) then, perhaps, just perhaps, you will be qualified to start thinking about making a tentative judgement.

When you have been severely injured at a demonstration against this racist regime, kicked by policemen as you lay helpless on the ground, attacked by some fanatic as you are stretchered to an ambulance without any of the copious number of police in attendance doing anything to stop it, and then, to cap it all charged with and convicted of “threatening behaviour,” then, you will not exactly be qualified to make such a judgement but I will be willing to consider what you say.

When you have been standing on a freezing picket line for days on end only to be confronted by idiots who found it particularly amusing to throw condoms filled with urine at you, then maybe ….

I could go on and tell you about other times when I have been concerned to permit those freedoms I find amenable and to forbid those I don’t like the look of, but, short of showing you the scars on my legs from when some racist scum threw boiling oil over them (oh, yes, that’s another occasion,) I don’t think you would believe how anyone could be quite as “liberal” as I evidently am. Perhaps you were only joking when you said it.

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