Notes and Comment Blog

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

Mapping the streaks

Jul 28th, 2012 12:46 pm | By

Skepticism, libertarianism, and conspiracy theory sometimes combine into one package.

new research to be published in a forthcoming issue of Psychological Science has found a link between the endorsement of conspiracy theories and the rejection of established facts about climate science.

In a survey of more than 1,000 readers of websites related to climate change, people who agreed with free market economic principles and endorsed conspiracy theories were more likely to dispute that human-caused climate change was a reality.

The link between endorsing conspiracy theories and rejecting climate science facts suggests that it is the libertarian instinct to stick two fingers up at the mainstream – whatever the issue – that is important. Because a radical libertarian streak is the hallmark of free-market economics, and because free market views are popular on the political right, this is where climate change scepticism is most likely to be found.

And there’s a fourth item that you often find along with those three – a suspicion (to put it delicately) of women. This business of telling the mainstream to fuck off is probably part of that. For a lot of rebel doodz, women represent all the things they want to say fuck off to – the mainstream, conformity, respectability. They’re all Huck Finn, and we’re all the Widow Douglas.

What that of course overlooks (cluelessly) is that male superiority is probably the most mainstream idea there’s ever been. I suppose that’s why MRAs spend so much time and energy trying to turn that fact on its head.

Women have conspired throughout history to disguise their huge power and to pretend humans have walked on the moon.

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

He battered her about the head

Jul 28th, 2012 11:57 am | By

A squalid little story out of Manchester Crown Court.

A Muslim preacher who tried to strangle his 16-year old daughter after she refused to enter into an arranged marriage with her cousin has escaped jail.

Abid Hussain, 56, grabbed the neck of Rabiyah Abid and said: ‘If you don’t follow my rules I will kill you’ after she rejected his plans for her to wed.

Hussain also left the teenager in fear of her life as he battered her about the head at the family home above the mosque he runs at Longsight, Manchester.

A man of 56 assaulted a girl of 16. A father assaulted his daughter, after trying to force her to marry someone she didn’t want to marry.

At Manchester Crown Court yesterday Hussain was convicted of assault and making threats to kill. He admitted his daughter’s conduct had ‘brought shame’ on his family and caused him ‘mental torture’ but denied wrongdoing.

His two sons Nawab Uddin, 23, and Bahaud Uddin, 21 were also convicted of assaulting the teen.

Henry Blackshaw, prosecuting said Rabiyah lived in a ‘very male dominated, patriarchal household’ where she was left ‘exhausted’ by cooking and cleaning.

In accordance with Islamic tradition she had been ‘betrothed’ by her father to his sister’s son in Pakistan at just 15 years old.

In other words, “in accordance with Islamic tradition” her father had attempted to lay out the rest of his daughter’s life according to what he wanted, without consulting her or allowing her the right of refusal.

Her two brother knocked her around some too.

Abid Hussain received a suspended sentence of nine months suspended for 12 months, with 100 hours unpaid work.

Nawab Uddin received a suspended sentence of three months suspended for 12 months, with 100 hours unpaid work and a supervision order for 12 months.

Bahaud Uddin received three months suspended for 12 months, with 200 hours unpaid work.

All via the Daily Mail. Sorry to cite the Daily Mail, but I couldn’t find a single other source.

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

Vyckie Garrison speaking to Seattle Atheists tomorrow

Jul 27th, 2012 5:35 pm | By

Saturday, 1 p.m., the 2100 Building on at 2100 24th Avenue South, between Hill and Walker. Very near Borracchini’s Bakery.

Go to there!

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

Number 4

Jul 27th, 2012 4:50 pm | By

Amy has the latest, from Nick Lee, the President of Atheist Alliance International.

Movement leaders frequently bemoan the gender imbalance in the movement and wonder what can be done to motivate more women to become active leaders. We need the diversity of thought and experiences from females (and minorities), not as tokens but as fully engaged leaders.

We do NOT need to be driving women away with frat house behavior.

Just Stop It!

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

Stop before it’s too late

Jul 27th, 2012 3:26 pm | By

Deep question of the day. Is it fun to have protracted arguments about complicated subjects on Twitter?

I say no. Hell no. It’s irritating as fuck. It’s stupid. It’s pointless – because there are better tools available so why the hell use Twitter? Twitter is good for some things, but complicated arguments are not among those things.

I know this extra at the moment because some derp tried to have such an argument with me earlier and it was completely annoying. The derp read Foster Disbelief’s post about misogyny and privilege and tweeted at me

Speaking out against misogyny, and making it clear that the only valid white male opinion is one that lines up with his.

But that’s not what he said - but how boring and irritating to try to make that case on Twitter! But I tried anyway, and the derp kept replying, and I kept replying, and it was all completely futile because 140 characters.

People of the world, stop using Twitter to argue about things that take more than 140 characters! Just stop!

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

Dr Hawa Abdi

Jul 27th, 2012 11:48 am | By

Doctor Hawa Abdi is nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize according to her foundation’s website. According to a commenter below this must be a mistake – but she’s well worth knowing about just the same.

For more than two decades, Mama Hawa has poured her blood, sweat and tears into her humanitarian work, asking for no reward as she sought to provide aid to the most vulnerable victims of the civil war. She has saved tens of thousands of lives in her hospital, while simultaneously providing an education to hundreds of displaced children at the Waqaf-Dhiblawe school.

Mama Hawa’s focus is on creating an independent Somali community, shielded from the conflict that exists outside her camp, and we hope her work will inspire those who fear they can do nothing to improve the circumstances of those around them.

In spite of all the trials that Somalia has been put through over the last twenty years, Mama Hawa has sought to provide a place of refuge for ninety thousand people, ignoring the clan lines that have often served to divide the country. Working under the principle that women are the corner stone of society and that they can be the agents of change in Somalia, Mama Hawa has tried to bring hope to a nation that so many have for too long dismissed as hopeless. Doctor Hawa Abdi can be an inspiration for us, for Somalia, and the entire global community.

Photo Dr Hawa Abdi Foundation

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

Column A and column B

Jul 27th, 2012 9:54 am | By

Foster Disbelief is pleased to see the new trend.

After watching certain atheists say hurtful, hateful, idiotic, misogynistic things directed atRebecca Watson, the whole Skepchick crew (especially Surly Amy recently), other women in skepticism who dared to speak out, and the men who understand that there is a problem and want to do something to fix it, it is refreshing to see this quote from President of the American Atheists, Dave Silverman:

[you know the quote]

The minute I saw this quote at Butterflies and Wheels I decided to join American Atheists.  I’ll be proud to be a member of an organization that gets it, and that stands by its members even in the face of the inevitable backlash they are sure to receive.

Martin Pribble is also paying attention.

There are many people who stand to lose some of their perceived power when women, more than 50% of the human population, are seen as equals in all facets of life. Males fear the emasculating effects of equality, when they can no longer hold dominion over women. Men have had a privileged place in society, and this privilege is something that, I’m afraid, many can’t imagine a world without. Many men, and women, fear this change, for it forces a reevaluation of “traditional” gender roles in society. This fear becomes apparent in the language people use (a woman who chooses to go against the accepted “norm” is called a bitch, a dyke or a whore), and can cause people to use the language of violence as a defense, making threats of rape or even death against these women. What the Skepchicks endure daily is just one of many examples; the anonymity of the internet seems to make this stuff all the more attractive to the would-be abuser.

The topic of rape jokes is all over the web right now. It’s not because it’s more contentious than usual, just that the there seems to be a spate of resentment against the atheist/skeptic communities with relation to the safety of women at conferences.

So out come the rape jokes, and the demeaning epithets.

But the pushback is gathering steam. The epithetists are not going to win this fight.



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

Ron Lindsay speaks out

Jul 26th, 2012 5:51 pm | By

The third in Amy’s series.

Hate-filled invective has been directed at many different people, male and female, but of late women have been disproportionately targeted. What is especially sad and disgusting about this trend is that some religious skeptics seem to be mimicking religious fundamentalists: they want to intimidate women into silence and submission. What’s the point of discarding the Bible or the Koran if you retain the misogyny sanctified therein?

Members of the secular and skeptical communities should be distinguished by their respect for others, including those with whom they may disagree. Those who are incapable of treating others with decency and respect do not belong in our communities. To such individuals we should say with one voice: take your hate elsewhere.

To 4chan for instance.

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

Meeting Vyckie

Jul 26th, 2012 5:26 pm | By

I just spent a couple of hours talking to Vyckie Garrison of No Longer Quivering, who is in town on a visit. It was a great conversation.

We talked about her transition from the Quiverfull life to freedom, and the worries about putting her children in school for the first time. Were they too sheltered, were they too angry? But they flourished. Her third-grader Andy had an especially good teacher, Mrs Bloom, who showed Vyckie a paper he’d written; the assignment was to write about “changes.” One classmate wrote about how life changed when the family got a kitten. Andy had rather more profound changes to write about.

Everything she said amounted to an endorsement of secular life as opposed to theocratic (meaning, here, pervading every aspect of existence) life. Before she left her children were neither happy nor compliant – it’s not as if they exchanged freedom and joy for harmony and order. Before she left she didn’t know her children as people, or individuals; now she knows how very different and interesting they all are.

She’s a lifeline for women who want to escape. She is one impressive woman.

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

It sounds very beautiful and appealing

Jul 26th, 2012 12:33 pm | By

More on top-down authority versus everyone else.

On obedience. Last week Sister Pat Farrell said what she thinks obedience is.

But the word obedience comes from the Latin root meaning to hear, to listen. And so as I have come to understand that vow, what it means to me is that we listen to what God is calling us to in the signs of our times.

This week the bishop said what he thinks of that.

My reaction is that it sounds very beautiful and appealing, and no one can argue that we have to be obedient to God and that we have to follow conscience. But on the other hand, it flies in the face of 2,000 years of the notion of religious life, that obedience means obedience to lawful superiors within the community, and it certainly means the obedience of faith to what the church believes and teaches.

Again, Catholicism understands Christianity to be a revealed religion, in which truths of faith, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, are authentically taught. So St. Paul talks about the obedience of faith. So it’s not just about a kind of vague sense of obedience, but it really comes to a very specific obedience in some cases, particularly for religious women or religious men.

It’s what it is. It’s not what we’ve grown used to, in the non-theocratic parts of the world, which is adults thinking about ethics and problems and competing goods; it’s obedience and “truths of faith” and no questions.

Then there’s ordination. Women can be theologians, and that’s great, but priests, no. Why? Because penis.

But when it comes to the priesthood, and I don’t know that on a program like this we’re able to explore the theology of it, because it is a theological one; it’s not political. It’s not sociological. It’s theological. About what the sacraments are and what it means for a man to stand at the altar and act in the very person of Christ as a priest.

I mean, St. Paul talks about Christ being the groom and the church being his bride. That symbolism, theologically, is very much a part of our understanding of the Mass and the priesthood. And that’s, I think, also why Christians who maintain their faith in a priesthood – namely, the Catholics and the Orthodox – do not have a female priest.

Penis. A groom has to have a penis. The church is the bride, and the priest is supposed to fuck her. That doesn’t sound quite right, somehow – yet it’s what the bishop said.

The church doesn’t say that the ordination of women is not possible because somehow women are unfit to carry out the functions of the priest, but because on the level of sacramental signs, it’s not the choice that our Lord made when it comes to those who act in his very person, as the church’s bridegroom.

But the Lord didn’t choose Americans, either. Or Germans, or Brazilians, or Mexicans…But there are German and Brazilian and Catholic priests. The choice their Lord made doesn’t much resemble most priests today.

And you can say, well, that sounds like a lot of poetry or you know, how do we know that’s true? But, again, if you’re a Catholic, this is part of our sacraments and our practice for two millennia, and it’s not just an arbitrary decision of male oppression over women.

The conclusion doesn’t follow.

Is change possible? The world changes, we change, can religious rules change?

I think certainly the world in which we live today is vastly different than the ancient world or the medieval world, or even the world of a century ago. And so there’s always an evolution in society. But what are your first principles? What are your basic beliefs? What do you believe is something that’s revealed by God in scripture and tradition and taught authoritatively through the ages?

Those kind of things do not change. Their understanding can evolve. There can be aspects of it that evolve and change, but not the fundamental things.

The fundamental things that they claim to know because they’re revealed by God in scripture and tradition and taught authoritatively through the ages. Dogma. Dogma can’t change. Thank you for a pleasant conversation.




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

The church’s authentic interpretation

Jul 26th, 2012 11:41 am | By

The authentic interpretation that tells them they’re allowed to protect child-raping priests at the expense of the children they rape.

On Saturday night Tracey Pirona hugged her husband as she has done many times before, and reassured him: “We’ll get through this.” On Sunday morning she found the letter she had feared for years, and rang police.

John Pirona, 45, of Belmont North, a victim of one of the Hunter’s most notorious paedophile priests, has not been seen or heard from since then. “The longer this goes on the worse I feel about what the outcome’s going to be,” Mrs Pirona said.

Mr Pirona’s letter, with the final words “Too much pain”, leaves no doubt the pain is the sexual abuse he suffered at a Catholic high school and the ugly secrets the church knew, but did nothing to stop.

Mr Pirona, a NSW Fire Brigades officer, was sexually assaulted by the priest, who cannot be named for legal reasons, in 1979. He was 13. In a statement to police in 2008 he described the school as brutal, where he feared being bashed if people knew he had been abused.

“Every day to me was just survival,” Mr Pirona said. A court case confirmed he was sexually assaulted several years after the school principal, who cannot be named for legal reasons, and the late Maitland-Newcastle Bishop Leo Clarke, knew the priest sexually assaulted young boys.

In other words the bishop and the principal just left the students hanging there like so many carcasses, for the priest to select at his leisure.

Yet the priesthood continues to think it has the authority to tell nuns what to do.


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

A Call to Arms for Decent Men

Jul 26th, 2012 10:12 am | By

by Ernest W. Adams

This piece was originally written as part of the Designer’s Notebook series on the game developers’ web site Gamasutra. However, they declined to publish it in its current form, and I refused to rewrite it. My thanks for permission to reprint it here. Please feel free to share or republish it with attribution. Contains strong language. 

Normally I write for everybody, but this month’s column is a call to arms, addressed to the reasonable, decent, but much too silent majority of male gamers and developers.

Guys, we have a problem. We are letting way too many boys get into adulthood without actually becoming men. We’re seeing more and more adult males around who are not men. They’re as old as men, but they have the mentality of nine-year-old boys. They’re causing a lot of trouble, both in general and for the game industry specifically. We need to deal with this.

Why us? Because it’s our job to see to it that a boy becomes a man, and we are failing.

When we were little boys we all went through a stage when we said we hated girls. Girls had “cooties.” They were silly and frilly and everything that a boy isn’t supposed to be. We got into this stage at about age seven, and we left it again at maybe 10 or 11.

Then puberty hit and, if we were straight, we actively wanted the company of girls. We wanted to “go with” them, date them, and eventually we wanted to fall in love and live with one, maybe for the rest of our lives. That’s the way heterosexual boys are supposed to mature, unless they become monks.

My point is, you’re supposed to leave that phase of hating girls behind. Straight or gay, you’re supposed to grow the hell up.

What might be temporarily tolerable in a boy when he’s nine is pretty damned ugly when he’s fifteen and it’s downright psychopathic when he’s twenty. Instead of maturing into a man’s role and a man’s responsibilities, a lot of boys are stuck at the phase of hating girls and women. The boys continue to treat them like diseased subhumans right through adolescence and into adulthood.

Men are more powerful than women: financially, politically, and physically. What distinguishes a real man from a boy is that a man takes responsibility for his actions and does not abuse this power. If you don’t treat women with courtesy and respect – if you’re still stuck in that “I hate girls” phase – then no matter what age you are, you are a boy and not entitled to the privileges of adulthood.

  • If you want to have some private little club for males only – like keeping women out of your favorite shooter games – you’re not a man, you’re an insecure little boy. A grown-up man has no problem being in the company of women. He knows he’s a man.
  • If you freak out when a girl or a woman beats you in a game, you’re not a man, you’re a nine-year-old boy. A man doesn’t need to beat a woman to know he’s a man. A man is strong enough to take defeat in a fair game from anybody and move on.
  • If your masculinity depends on some imaginary superiority over women, then you don’t actually have any. Manliness comes from within, and not at the expense of others.
  • And if you threaten or abuse women, verbally or physically, you are not a man. You’re a particularly nasty specimen of boy.

When this puerile mentality is combined with the physical strength and sexual aggressiveness of an older boy or an adult male, it goes beyond bad manners. It’s threatening and anti-social, and if those boys are permitted to congregate together and support each other, it becomes actively dangerous. Yes, even online.

Of course, I don’t mean all boys are like this. Most of them get out of the cootie phase quickly and grow up just fine. But far too many don’t. If we don’t do something about these permanent nine-year-olds pretty soon, they’re going to start having boys of their own who will be just as bad if not worse, and life will not be worth living. Life is already not worth living on Xbox Live Chat.

In addition to the harm they do to women – our mothers, our sisters, our daughters – these full-grown juveniles harm ustoo. A boy who refuses to grow up has lousy social skills, a short attention span, and a poor attitude to work. Furthermore, all men – that’s you and me, bro – get the blame for theirbad behavior. And we deserve it, because we’ve been sitting on our butts for too long. We let them be bullies online and get away with it.

Some of you might think it’s sexist that I’m dumping this problem on us men. It isn’t; it’s just pragmatic.Women can not solve this problem. A boy who hates girls and women simply isn’t going to pay attention to a woman’s opinion. The only people who can ensure that boys are taught, or if necessary forced, to grow up into men are other men.

Let’s be clear about something else. This is not a political issue. This is not a subject for debate, any more than whether your son is allowed to swear at his mother or molest his sister is a subject for debate. There is no “other point of view.” The real-world analogy is not to social issues but to violent crime. Muggers don’t get to have a point of view.

So how do we change things?

First, we need to serve as positive examples. With the very little boys, we need to guide them gently but firmly out of the cootie phase. To the impressionable teenagers, we must demonstrate how a man behaves and how he doesn’t. Be the change you want to see. Use your real name and your real picture online, to show that you are a man who stands behind his words. Of course, you can’t prove your name is real, but it doesn’t matter. If you consistently behave with integrity online, the message will get across.

Secondly, we men need to stand up for courtesy and decency online. We can’t just treat this as a problem for women (or blacks, or gays, or anybody else the juvenile bullies have in their sights). Tell them and their friends that their behavior is not acceptable, that real men don’t agree with them, that they are in the minority. Say these words into your headset: “I’m disappointed in you. I thought you were a man, not a whiny, insecure little boy.” Don’t argue or engage with them. Never answer their questions or remarks, just repeat your disgust and disapproval. Assume the absolute moral superiority to which you are entitled over a bully or a criminal.

Finally, we need to put a stop to this behavior. It’s time for us to force the permanent nine-year-olds to grow up or get out of our games and forums. It’s not enough just to mute them. We need to build the infrastructure that precludes this kind of behavior entirely – Club Penguin has already done it for children – or failing that, we have to make the bullies pay a price for their behavior.Appealing to their better nature won’t work; bullies have none. We do not request, we do not debate,we demand and we punish.

I have some specific suggestions, from the least to the most extreme.

  1. Mockery. In 1993 50 Ku Klux Klansmen marched through Austin, Texas. Five thousand anti-Klan protestors turned up to jeer at them. Best of all, several hundred lined the parade route and mooned the Klan in waves. The media ate it up, and the Klan looked ridiculous. The hurt that they wanted to cause was met not with anger but with derision. The juvenile delinquents are just like the Klan: anonymous in their high-tech bedsheets, and threatening, but in fact, a minority. Let’s use our superior numbers and metaphorically moon the boys who can’t behave. They’re social inadequates, immature losers. Let’s tell them so, loud and clear, in front of their friends.
  2. Shut them up. The right to speak in a public forum should be limited to those who don’t abuse it. James Portnow suggested this one in his Extra Credits video on harassment. Anyone who persistently abuses others gets automatically muted to all players. The only players who can hear them are those who choose to unmute them. Or another of James’ suggestions: New users don’t even get the right to talk. They have to earn it, and they keep it only so long as they behave themselves. This means a player can’t just create a new account to start spewing filth again if they’ve been auto-muted. Build these features into your games.
  3. Take away their means. If you’re the father of a boy who behaves like this online, make it abundantly clear to him that it is unmanly and unacceptable, then deny him the opportunity to do it further. We don’t let nine-year-olds misuse tools to hurt other people. Take away his cell phone, his console and his computer. He can learn to behave like a man, or he can turn in his homework in longhand like a child.
  4. Anonymity is a privilege, not a right. Anonymity is a double-edged sword. A limited number of people need it in certain circumstances: children, crime victims, whistleblowers, people discussing their medical conditions, political dissidents in repressive regimes. But those people normally don’t misuse their anonymity to abuse others; they’re protecting themselvesfrom abuse. I think the default setting in all online forums that are not intended for people at risk should require real names. After a user has demonstrated that they are a grown-up, thenoffer them the privilege of using a pseudonym. And take it away forever if they misuse it. I haven’t used a nickname for years except in one place where all the readers know who I am anyway. Has it made me more careful about what I say? You bet. Is that a good thing? Damn right it is.
  5. Impose punishments that are genuinely painful. This suggestion is extreme, but I feel it’s both viable and effective. To play subscription-based or pay-as-you-go (“free-to-play-but-not-really”) games, most players need to register a credit card with the game’s provider. Include a condition in the terms of service that entitles the provider to levy extra charges for bad behavior. Charge $5 for the first infraction and double it for each subsequent one. This isn’t all that unusual; if you smoke in a non-smoking hotel room, you are typically subject to a whopping extra charge for being a jerk.

Now I’m going to address some objections from the very juvenile delinquents I’ve been talking about – if any of them have read this far.

  • What’s the big deal? It’s harmless banter. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the game.” To start with, it’s our game, not yours, and we get to decide what’s acceptable behavior. You meet our standards or you get out. Apart from that, nothing that is done with intent to cause hurt is harmless. The online abuse I have seen goes way beyond banter. Threats are not harmless, they are criminal acts.
  • But this is part of gamer culture! It’s always been like this!” No, it is not. I’ve been gaming for over 40 years, and it has not always been like this. Yours is a nasty little subculture that arrived with anonymous online gaming, and we’re going to wipe it out.
  • This is just political correctness.” Invoking “political correctness” is nothing but code for “I wanna be an asshole and get away with it.” I’ll give you a politically-incorrect response, if you like: fuck that. It’s time to man up. You don’t get to be an asshole and get away with it.
  • You’re just being a White Knight and trying to suck up to women.” I don’t need to suck up to women, thanks; unlike you, I don’t have a problem with them, because I’m a grown man.
  • Women are always getting special privileges.” Freedom from bullying is a right, not a privilege, and anyway, that’s bullshit. Males are the dominant sex in almost every single activity on the planet. The only areas that we do not rule are dirty, underpaid jobs like nursing and teaching. Do you want to swap? I didn’t think so.
  • It’s hypocrisy. How come they get women-only clubs and we don’t get men-only clubs?” Because they’re set up for different reasons, that’s why. Male-only spaces are about excluding women from power, and making little boys whose balls evidently haven’t dropped feel special. Female-only spaces are about creating a place where they are safe from vermin.
  • But there’s misandry too!” Oh, and that entitles you to be a running sore on the ass of the game community? Two wrongs don’t make a right.. I’ll worry about misandry when large numbers of male players are being hounded out of games with abuse and threats of violence. If a few women are bigoted against men, you only have to look in the mirror to find out why.
  • Free speech!” The oldest and worst excuse for being a jerk there is. First, you have no right to free speech in privately-owned spaces. Zero. Our house, our rules. Second, with freedom comes the responsibility not to abuse it. People who won’t use their freedoms responsibly get them taken away. And if you don’t clean up your act, that will be you.

OK, back to the real men for a few final words.

This is not about “protecting women.” It’s about cleaning out the sewers that our games have become. This will not be easy and it will not be fun. Standing up to these little jerks will require the same courage from us that women like Anita Sarkeesian have already shown. We will become objects of hatred, ridicule, and contempt. Our manhood will be questioned. But if we remember who we are and stand strong together, we can beat them. In any case we won’t be threatened with sexual violence the way women are. We have it easier than they do.

It’s time to stand up. If you’re a writer, blogger, or forum moderator, please write your own piece spreading the message, or at least link to this one. I also encourage you to visit Gamers Against Bigotry (, sign the pledge, are share it.

Use your heavy man’s hand in the online spaces where you go – and especially the ones you control – to demand courtesy and punish abuse. Don’t just mute them. Report them, block them, ban them, use every weapon you have. (They may try to report us in return. That won’t work. If you always behave with integrity, it will be clear who’s in the right.)

Let’s stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the women we love, and work with, and game with, and say, “We’re with you. And we’re going to win.”


The author is a game design consultant, writer, and “freelance professor.” His professional web site is at


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

It will be dialogue, but not dialogue

Jul 26th, 2012 9:41 am | By

Yesterday it was the Vatican’s turn to explain the Deep Rifts between the priests and the sisters. Terry Gross talked to the bishop of Toledo (Ohio, not Spain), Leonard Blair, who is the one who assessed the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and found them very very wanting.

Along with Archbishop Peter Sartain and Bishop Thomas John Paprocki, he will be working with the nuns of the LCRW to make sure the group is aligned with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

“Working with” – ha. It won’t be working with, it will be telling. He says so himself. That’s the whole point. It’s not negotiable, it’s not discussable, it’s not open, it’s not a process – it’s just telling. Blair tries to pretend that it is a “discussion” but then he also very firmly says that it’s not a discussion, it’s orders. In other words he tries to square the circle, or just have it both ways and hope no one notices.

If by dialogue, they mean that the doctrines of the church are negotiable, and that the bishops represent one position and the LCWR represents another position and somehow we find a middle ground about basic church teaching on faith and morals, then no, I don’t think that’s the dialogue the Holy See would envision. But if it’s a dialogue about how to have the LCWR really educate and help the sisters appreciate and accept church teaching and to implement it in their discussions, and try to heal some of the questions or concerns they have about these issues, that would be the dialogue.

Classic, isn’t it? If it’s a dialogue about priests telling women what to do, then that would be the dialogue. If by dialogue they mean that they get to be treated as equals with equal capabilities to think and equal access to the sources of the church’s “teachings” (whatever the hell those sources might be), then hell no, of course that’s not the dialogue the Holy See would allow for one second.

I think that the fundamental faith of the Catholic Church is that there are objective truths and there are teachings of the faith that really do come from revelation and that are interpreted authentically through the teaching office of the church, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and that are expected to be believed with the obedience of faith.

And those are things that are not negotiable. You can have dialogue about understanding these things, but it is faith seeking understanding. It’s not new understandings that then change the faith. And I think that’s what really gets to the heart of all that we find in this assessment, that they are promoting, unilaterally, new understandings, a new kind of theology that is not in accordance with the faith of the church.

Yes, that’s the heart of it all right. It’s a clusterfuck at the heart of the whole thing. What is that revelation? What is its source? Is it the bible? No, because you don’t find all this nonsense that the church is forcing on the nuns spelled out in the bible. So what is it then? It’s interpretation “authentically through the teaching office of the church” – but what is the source of that authenticity? What makes their “teaching office” better than any other teaching office?

Nothing. Not a damn thing. It’s just their say so, that’s all. It’s a house of cards, but the bishop defends it and imposes it as if it were not. It’s a classic example of authoritarianism that gets away with it because it’s dressed up in piety.

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

Therefore, the objectification of women is now fine

Jul 25th, 2012 4:59 pm | By

More from Enlightened Sexism.

Because women are now “equal” and the battle is over and won, we are now free to embrace things we used to see as sexist, including hypergirliness. In fact, this is supposed to be a relief. Thank God girls and women can turn their backs on stick-in-the-mud, curdled feminism and now act dumb in string bikinis to attract guys….According to enlightened sexism, women today have a choice between feminism and antifeminism, and they just naturally and happily choose the latter because, well, antifeminism has become cool, even hip. Rejecting feminism and buying into enlightened sexism allows young women in particular to be “one of the guys.” [p 12]

So enlightened sexism also includes in-your-face sexism, in which the attitudes about women that infuriated feminists in the 1960s and ’70s are pushed to new, even more degrading levels, except that it’s all done with a wink…

As the British feminist scholar Angela McRobbie has brilliantly argued, it is essential that feminism be repudiated as something young women should shun as old-fashioned, withered, humorless, repulsive. To do this, the media must explicitly acknowledge feminism, point to it, and “take it into account” in order to argue that it is no longer needed, a “spent force.” … Therefore, the objectification of women is now fine; why, it’s actually a joke on the guys. It’s silly to be sexist; therefore, it’s funny to be sexist…Indeed, as the feminist scholar Rosalind Gill puts it, “The extremeness of the sexism is evidence that there’s no sexism!” If there is no more sexism, then there is no longer a need for sexual politics, and sexual politics can be mocked and attacked. [p 13]

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand welcome to our world!



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

Dale McGowan speaks out

Jul 25th, 2012 11:41 am | By

Amy has the second in the series. Read the whole thing.


For the past year I’ve been shaking my head in sick disbelief at the abuse many women in the freethought movement are getting, but I’ve stayed silent. I’m not talking about the discussion of gender and privilege itself, which (to my surprise) still needs to happen in some depth, but at the insane, hateful attacks, including literal threats of rape and murder, that are raining down on the Skepchicks and others taking part in that important discussion.

Silently shaking my head does nothing. The women under this kind of attack can’t hear my head rattling, so they can only assume I don’t care, when I actually care deeply. I think it’s the difficulty of putting this massive, deranged genie back in the bottle that keeps so many of us quiet. But that’s a poor excuse that only keeps the victims feeling isolated and besieged.

Fortunately I don’t have to deal with the whole genie to do something useful. I don’t have to go back to the elevator and work my way forward, defending and countering and challenging and apologizing and repairing my way down to the present. I can start right here and now by saying out loud that violence and threats of violence – physical, verbal, emotional – are completely out of bounds, no matter what the topic, no matter what your opinion. They don’t speak for me, not one tiny bit, and they don’t belong anywhere near the rational community we imagine ourselves to be. Once we establish that, we can begin to pull the lessons of the late 20th century forward – none of this is new ground, after all – and have this important discussion.

Finally, we HAVE to begin calling people on their anonymity. If it’s protecting someone from harm or exposure, fine. If it only gives them the freedom to harm others, we have to go after it as a huge part of the problem. As long as our community lives and connects primarily online, the problems of the medium are going to continue getting in the way of sane, civil, productive discourse.

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

So now it’s okay, even amusing, to resurrect sexist stereotypes

Jul 25th, 2012 11:12 am | By

At the recommendation of more than one commenter here, I’m reading Susan J Douglas’s Enlightened Sexism. It explains a lot, and matches a lot.

The core idea is summed up on page 7:

…the media’s fantasies of power are also the product of another force that has gained considerable momentum since the early and mid-1990s: enlightened sexism. Enlightened sexism is a response, deliberate or not, to the perceieved threat of a new gender regime. It insists that women have made plenty of progress because of feminism – indeed, full equality has allegedly been achieved – so now it’s okay, even amusing, to resurrect sexist stereotypes of girls and women.

Long exhalation. Ohhhhhhh, so that’s what it is.

That would explain what I’m always fretfully wondering – why, when we learned that sexism was bad decades ago, are apparently reasonable people talking this shit? Why isn’t sexism taboo the way racism is taboo? Why do people who would never call someone a nigger in anger call women bitches, whores, cunts without hesitation?

If Douglas is right it’s because they think oh hai, feminism is over because women have all the things, so no problem calling them every degrading name that comes to mind, iz edgy and funny and cool to do that.

Strange thing to think, isn’t it, even if the premise were true, which of course it isn’t close to being. Now you have full equality, so we the rest of us can freely insult you, because that’s what equality is. Eh?

Ashley has a useful summary.

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

That’s not thunder, that’s a rattle

Jul 25th, 2012 9:13 am | By

Wow. I’ve been ignoring Thunderf00t, because it’s all so obvious, and dumb, but brazen lying is one item too many. I saw a lot of hits via a post he did yesterday sneering and maligning Surly Amy, and I was curious enough to break the “ignore” policy. He calls her a girl. Is this the new hip post-feminism ironic sexism, or just plain sexism?

I don’t know, but anyway, the boy simply tells a big lie at the end of the post, where he links to Rebecca’s post on being burqa-wearing Nazis.

Great Amy, so on one hand you are reduced to tears because someone uses the name of the site you blog for, and on the other you have no problem with that same blog suggesting that someones reasoned argument is invalid because you (skepchick) claim they think you are nazis.  Wow a great double whammy there of professionally playing the victim and wholesale well poisoning.  That’s right, professional victim Rebecca ‘rape threat’ Watson leading the Skepchicks effort to ‘set an example of kind, productive, proactive behavior in hopes that more people will follow my lead than the those who want to mock and belittle.’ by suggesting that those who disagree with her think they are Totalitarian Nazi.  Damn not seen anyone so zealously eager to embrace victim-hood since dawahfilms.

Rebecca includes screenshots of Paula Kirby comparing us – Skepchicks, Pharyngula and B&W – to Nazis and the Stasi in the post. It’s right there. In the post. It’s not a mere “claim” – not even if you bold it.

That boy does not tell the truth.

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

Alexander Cockburn 1941-2012

Jul 24th, 2012 5:36 pm | By

James Fallows (as he points out himself, a blandly centrist journalist of a type that Cockburn despised) on Cockburn:

As Michael Tomasky points out in this appreciation, Alex Cockburn essentially pioneered the modern persona for which Christopher Hitchens became much better known: the fancily Oxford-educated leftie Brit litterateur/journalist who would say all the outrageous things his bland Yank counterparts lacked the wit, courage, erudition, or épater-spirit to utter on their own. As both Tomasky and James Wolcott make clear, Cockburn was far more committed and purposeful in his outrageousness. His own brutal obituary about Hitchens both explains and exemplifies the differences. Short version: Cockburn said that Hitchens always knew just how far he could go; Cockburn knew, and kept on going. His “Press Clips” column in the Village Voice genuinely revolutionized the way people talked and thought about the mainstream press.

Michael Tomasky:

It’s worth recalling that he was the first. Modern America’s first exposure to that literary, highly lapidary, polysyllabically festooned, and sometimes grotesquely overstated and unfair brand of polemicism that we now know so well. He blazed the trail that Hitchens and others followed. He was also America’s first modern press critic. A.J. Liebling, I would argue, did something a little different. The idea of weekly items critiquing the ideological presumptions of this particular Times article or that particular Washington Post column was invented by Alex.

It feels very end-of-an-era-like.



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

American Atheists stands by all its members, supporters, and allies

Jul 24th, 2012 2:49 pm | By

The minute I read Amy’s suggestion that it would help a lot if leaders of the movment spoke out against the threats and hate-mongering against women – the minute I read it, I say, I thought of Dave Silverman. Mr Atheist Pants is Mr Visible. It would be great if Dave stepped up, I thought. But that’s all I did. I’m passive that way.

But Amy did ask, and Dave did step up.


As a Humanist, I see these threats as base and detestable. They have no redeeming value and will raise no awareness, solve no problems, and hurt those who should be friends. As a long term activist, I see hatred and threats of violence directed at our sisters-in-arms to be reprehensible, serving no purpose other than to hurt and intimidate valuable allies. As a white man, I know that so much of this hate comes from people who look like me — but they’re nothing like me where it counts. As the leader of a national atheist organization, I have implemented harassment policies to minimize such irrational, hateful, and counterproductive behavior wherever my authority allows. We have a war to win, and we won’t win until we can look forward, without watching our own backs. American Atheists stands by all its members, supporters, and allies, and we will not tolerate hate directed at any of us. Period.

~David Silverman

Suck on that, haters.

Amy says there will be more to come. Fasten your seatbelts, haters.


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

Thousands of British girls are the victims of wounding with intent

Jul 24th, 2012 2:28 pm | By

Nick Cohen notes that it’s progress when violence against women and girls is treated as such.

Odd though it may seem to older readers, the Crown Prosecution Service now regards itself as a liberal organ of the state. This week it is making a great play of its success in deterring violence against women. Its lawyers brought 91,000 domestic violence prosecutions last year and secured 67,000 convictions. As I have mentioned in this space before, many criminologists believe that the willingness, not just of prosecutors and the police but of wider society, to take violence against women and children seriously explains the welcome fall in homicide rate.

Well it would, wouldn’t it. If fewer women are killed then the homicide rate will fall, unless killers decide to kill more men to make up the numbers, which seems unlikely. Plus taking violence against women and children seriously has the added advantage of taking violence against women and children seriously. It’s quite a good idea to take violence against all kinds of people seriously, just in case no kinds of people actually deserve to be the object of violence.

But anyway, despite this one bright spot, all is not well.

But officialdom’s concern for abused women is strictly colour coded.  The CPS will defend women’s rights, but only the rights of white women. Girls with black or brown skins can go hang — or, rather go have their genitalia cut to pieces.

FGM, in other words. It’s not being seen as another form of violence against girls.

Britain made female genital mutilation a criminal offence in the 1980s. Later we said it was illegal for parents to take their children abroad for the ‘procedure’. Yet although thousands of British girls are the victims of wounding with intent, the CPS has not instigated one prosecution, let alone secured a conviction.

To his credit, I suppose, Scotland Yard’s specialist in child abuse cases Commander Simon Foy found the courage to speak in public. Unfortunately, his words were a disgrace. ‘I am not necessarily sure that the availability of a stronger sense of prosecution will change’ the incidence of FGM ‘for the better,’ he said.  Is there any other law that Commander Foy and his superiors think it pointless to enforce? Do senior officers say that prosecuting burglars or rapists or murderers makes no difference? Or is it only in the case of the mutilation of girls from other cultures that the cops abandon their belief in the deterrent power of punishment?

Imitating the French by having medical staff check girls, would infringe the girls’ rights, Foy continued, as he used the language of human rights to justify his failure to uphold the rights of women and girls. In this instance, and in this instance only, the police not only believe that putting alleged criminals on trial is pointless, they add that investigating an alleged crime is a criminal act.

So much for taking violence against women and girls seriously.

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