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.


Eating your cake and having it

May 10th, 2011 10:35 am | By

Nope. No can do. Will not fly.

Brooklyn-based Hasidic newspaper Der Zeitung has apologized for publishing an iconic photograph of President Obama and his national security team with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and National Security team member Audrey Tomason photoshopped out…

Der Zeitung addressed what it cast as “allegations” that the women had been removed from the photograph because “religious Jews denigrate women or do not respect women in public office,” calling such suggestions “malicious slander and libel.”

The newspaper offered kind words for Clinton and said it respects all government officials, but that religious considerations prevent it from showing images of women.

That’s the thing you can’t do – the thing that won’t fly. You can’t treat women as so special and different that pictures of them in news media have to be faked out of existence, and claim that you don’t denigrate women and you do respect them and that to say otherwise is malicious slander and libel.

You think you can, because you deployed the magic phrase “religious considerations,” but you’re wrong. You can’t. Fraudulently altering an official government photograph that shows the Secretary of State present at an event of great importance to the State Department, in such a way that she is not there at all, is not consistent with respecting women and not denigrating them.

“In accord with our religious beliefs, we do not publish photos of women, which in no way relegates them to a lower status,” Der Zeitung said. “Publishing a newspaper is a big responsibility, and our policies are guided by a Rabbinical Board. Because of laws of modesty, we are not allowed to publish pictures of women, and we regret if this gives an impression of disparaging to women, which is certainly never our intention. We apologize if this was seen as offensive.”

Not accepted. Worthless. Fundamentally insulting. Fuck your rabbinical board. You don’t get to delete women from history, and pretending to apologize after doing it doesn’t salvage anything.



Language reform

May 10th, 2011 10:00 am | By

Really, there is something faintly disgusting about all the serious newspapers talking about bin Laden’s three “widows.” For one thing – three? Three widows? If there are three, they’re not “widows” in the usual sense of the word. It’s too much “respect” for polygamy to call them widows (or wives) – you need different words for a system in which men can have lots while women can have no more than a fraction of one.

For another thing – widows? That assumes they were genuine wives first, having been genuinely married. In fact, from what I’ve read, at least one of them was simply given to him by her father or some other Important man, like a bottle of vodka.

Come on. These women weren’t wives or widows, they were slaves.



Meet the deity

May 9th, 2011 3:45 pm | By

I’d forgotten this. It’s quite funny (if I do say so myself).



Knowing is deciding

May 9th, 2011 12:02 pm | By

Via Jerry Coyne, I find Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, which in turn is the “flagship” of the Southern Baptist Convention, which is the notoriously reactionary outfit that Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter abandoned when it ruled that married women are subordinate to their husbands – I find Albert Mohler, I say, turning and rending a Christian less doctrinaire than himself.

In making his case, Giberson uses the old argument that God has given humanity two books of revelation — the Bible and the created order. This is one of Giberson’s most frequently offered arguments. It is a theologically disastrous argument in his hands, for he allows modern naturalistic science to silence the Bible, God’s written revelation.

Right. My question is, how exactly does Mohler know the bible is God’s written revelation? Of course I know roughly how he “knows”: he just does. But I want to know exactly how he knows.

How, for instance, would he know if it were not? How does he know how he would know if it were not? What, exactly, are his criteria? What would the bible be like if it were not God’s written revelation, and how is that different from what the bible is like?

Do they ever say, people like him? Do they ever give any actual reason for “believing” the bible is God’s written revelation?

I don’t think they do. Correct me if I’m wrong. As far as I know they just “believe” it, as one might sign a contract. They sign up to it. It’s not cognitive at all, it’s an act of will.

That’s not the right way to know things.



Templeton buys whole Oxford colleges? Srsly?

May 8th, 2011 11:04 am | By

Ah Templeton Templeton Templeton, how it does creep in everywhere, like mildew.

There’s this Oxford professor saying why thenewatheists are stupid and wrong. Guess where he comes from.

While “new atheists” Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens have been grabbing headlines with their bold claims that modern science has killed off God, an Oxford professor has been quietly chipping away at the ground they stand on. John C Lennox, Professor of Mathematics and Fellow in the Philosophy of Science at Oxford’s Green Templeton College, has been popping up at debates around the globe to take issue with the most prominent new atheists.

At what? At Oxford’s what? Oxford’s Green what?

Can’t be, I thought. Must be just a coincidence of name. Some Admiral Green who showed Napoleon what’s what and some Viscount Templeton who carried the chamber pot for George II. Must be.

So I hastened to look it up…and no. It’s not Viscount Templeton of Steeple Magna, Hampshire. It’s not Georgiana Templeton of Ladbroke Grove, founder of hospitals. It’s not gallant Captain Templeton, protector of women and children during the Siege of Jenkinsabad. It’s just same old same old John moneybags Templeton of Pennsylvania.

1965 Oxford Centre for Management Studies established under the Chairmanship of Sir Norman Chester…

1983 Major benefaction received from Mr (later Sir) John Templeton.

1984 Name changed to Templeton College and first students are matriculated…

2008 Merger with Green College.

2011 Professor publishes book saying why thenewatheists are stupid and wrong.



Saudi Women Revolution

May 7th, 2011 4:51 pm | By

If you’re on Facebook – like the Saudi Women Revolution page. They want numbers, numbers, numbers. CNN reported the Facebook page likes.

The Saudi Women Revolution was started as a Facebook page and a discussion topic, or hash tag, on Twitter in February, by Nuha Al Sulaiman…The Facebook group now has more than 3,000 “likes” and a core of the women have met in person to discuss their campaign.

Well it’s more than 4,000 now; do your bit and make it more again.

Their chief aim is ending male guardianship, which means Saudi women often need permission from their husband, father, brother or even son to work, travel, study, marry, or access health care, according to Human Rights Watch.

They also want to be allowed to drive, which is forbidden for women in the Kingdom.

And they want to vote. Imagine that.



One for you and three for me

May 7th, 2011 12:00 pm | By

What was that I was just saying about beauty pageants for little girls and hyper-sexualization of girls and women and the way that plays out in gymnastics and ballet and ice skating where men usually wear clothes while women always wear bathing suit equivalents?

See?

The Badminton World Federation has made a new rule that women players have to wear skirts or dresses. Yes really – to play a sport, women have to wear skirts. Queen Victoria would so approve.

The BWF has received feedback from various parties with regards to the introduction of Rule 19.2 of the General Competition Regulations which require female players to wear skirts or dresses for Level 1 to 3 tournaments. This specific regulation has its genesis in the extensive review into the marketing and events structure conducted by an external international marketing agency in 2009.

Well why stop there then – if it’s a matter of marketing, why not make a new rule saying women have to wear makeup and long flowing hair and V-neck halter tops and stiletto heels along with their skirts? Why not tell them to stop playing and do a pole dance instead?

The BWF has developed guidelines to go alongside the new Regulation, to ensure that it will not in any way discriminate against any religious or other beliefs and respects women. Players will continue to wear shorts if they wish but simply wear a skirt over the top of the shorts, as is often practiced already by some players.

Oh isn’t that kind and sensitive and liberal – all women have to do is add an extra, bulky garment that won’t disadvantage them in any way at all apart from interfering with their freedom to move. It won’t degrade them in any way at all except for pointlessly and stupidly sticking a Gender Label on them at the behest of a marketing agency. It won’t treat them as second-class in any way at all except by ordering them to put their Gender Identity ahead of their athletic goals.

Deputy president of the WBF Paisan Rangsikitpho says it’s “never been the intention of the BWF to portray women as sexual objects,” it’s just that they’re trying to get more people to pay attention to badminton and they figure this is the way to do it.



The new atheist response to being told to quiet down

May 6th, 2011 12:29 pm | By

Greg Laden puts the matter neatly:

The “new” part of “New Atheism” to me has always been this: You are willing to get up into some[one's] face to make your argument because religion, with its centuries of experience in being on the scene for every aspect of everyone’s life every minute of every day, is already there in the face making its argument. The new atheist response to being told to quiet down is to point out that being told to quiet down (or be more civil or follow certain rules) is step one (or two) in a series of steps that the established religio-normative culture routinely uses to end the argument and let things get back to what they think is normal.

Precisely. And the settled idea that the silence of the atheists is both normal and desirable is the very idea that new atheists want to discredit and dispute and disrupt, so energetic attempts to re-impose the idea are naturally going to irritate. It’s like telling The People’s Campaign for XYZ, “stop campaigning for XYZ.” It’s not going to be taken as useful advice or a friendly tip or a minor disagreement among allies. It’s going to be taken as what it is: rejection of and enmity toward The People’s Campaign.

So it’s not a matter of, we’re all atheists, so don’t take it amiss if some atheists tell other atheists to be atheists in a more covert and unobtrusive way. It’s not a disagreement about a minor side issue. We, gnu atheists, think it is of the essence for atheists to be free to talk back. We don’t consider atheists who 1) tell us not to or 2) call us rude names for doing so, to be On the Same Team.



National trust in god day

May 5th, 2011 4:33 pm | By

Oh I didn’t know it was National Prayer Day. I never do know it’s National Prayer Day. It’s not something that looms large in my schedule. But I got a press release from the Secular Coalition for America, so I read some more of their press releases, and doing that led me to something that mentioned National Prayer Day.

Well I know what it was: it was googling for information on an idiotic house bill making “In God We Trust” the “national motto,” whatever the hell that is. Googling for the one turned up mentions of the other. Life is like that. When the state tells you to do god, news of it turns up on related google searches. Whaddya know.

So it’s National Prayer Day.

…even hard-nosed doctors who have studied spirituality say science supports the belief that prayer brings health benefits…Research has also shown that the death rate of people who attend church regularly is about 30 percent lower than that among people who spend their Sundays doing something else, according to Dr. Lynda Powell, chairman of preventive medicine at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

I beg your pardon?

Let me get this straight. 30% of people who go to church are immortal? Is that what she’s saying?

Is this finding widely known?

Ah, journalism. And prayer. And syntax.

What explains churchgoers’ lower death rate? Is it because God smiles on the faithful?

Science has nothing to say on that question. But Dr. Powell, a leading researcher on spirituality and health, has identified health-promoting outlooks and behaviors that are common to all major religions.

Yes, but health is not the same thing as a “lower death rate.” Does this loon actually think health=a lower death rate?

Anyway. The Secular Coalition sent a letter to the members of the House Judiciary Committee, which the Committee won’t read, because who the hell cares what filthy secularists think. It’s quite sensible though.

The phrase “In God We Trust” was adopted only in 1956 during the McCarthy Era. For a secular nation that claims to provide equality, liberty, and freedom for all, the motto means that the beliefs of theists and nontheists are not treated the same at all.

And to put it more bluntly than the SCA will have wanted to, the state has no business at all telling us to believe in its magical made-up spooky hocus pocus you can’t catch me god. Furthermore, I don’t trust god; I think god is a shit; a non-existent shit, yes, but a shit all the same.



Bad things

May 5th, 2011 11:08 am | By

This morning I keep seeing bad stuff at the Guardian, via different directions – Terry Glavin at Facebook, Norm at Normblog, like that. I’ve seen so much bad stuff this morning that I feel as if I ought to point at it in disgust.

Like Adam Curtis at CisF, via Norm.

The horrific thing about Osama bin Laden was that he helped to kill thousands of innocent people throughout the world. But he was also in a strange way a godsend to the west. He simplified the world.

That “but” is interesting. So is that “the horrific thing.” The but is interesting because given what comes before, why have a “but” at all? There is no but. The first sentence is all we need to know. There is no “but” after that.

We’ll be reminded by heroes of anti-imperialism that the imperialists and neo-cons helped to kill thousands of innocent people too. True enough, but not as the goal. Not as the goal or a goal. Not on purpose.

That’s small comfort to the people killed. But what about their relatives and friends? What about the injured? I should think it makes a difference to them.

At any rate, it is different. Bin Laden killed people in order to kill people. Bin Laden wanted them dead, and he wanted more dead, as many as possible. He never whispered a word of regret for Gladys Wundowa or anyone else; he beamed with joy about his success at killing hundreds or thousands at a blow.

There is no “but” after that. There is nothing else about him that matters, that is in contrast to “the horrific thing” about him that was killing people and rejoicing to have done so. That isn’t “the horrific thing” about bin Laden, it just is bin Laden.

Al-Qaida became the new Soviet Union, and in the process Bin Laden became a demonic, terrifyingly powerful figure brooding in a cave while he controlled and directed the al-Qaida network throughout the world…

I just remarked yesterday that I went on thinking that way for an embarrassingly long time. Adam Curtis is still at it.

Then there’s Azzam Tamimi.

Soon after the fall of Hosni Mubarak I visited my old friend, the Hamas leader Khalid Mish’al, in Damascus. He told me he was sure the change in Egypt, which he expected would be followed by similar changes in other Arab countries, meant that it would not be too long before Palestine was free.

My friends in Gaza would tell me the same thing, and so would my relatives in Hebron and the diaspora. They all believed that the Mubarak regime was an impediment to the Palestinian struggle for freedom; once the Egyptian people were free, a genuine democracy in Egypt would support the Palestinians.

Free. Free, freedom, free – via Hamas.



Despite the disdain of

May 4th, 2011 2:58 pm | By

So many things are stupid. This is stupid.

Our culture has become impoverished by certainty…Doubt and its religious cousin agnosticism, a word rarely heard nowadays, may have fallen out of fashion, but they have much to teach us, despite the disdain of Richard Dawkins, who famously wrote in The God Delusion: “I am agnostic only to the extent that I am agnostic about fairies at the bottom of the garden.”

And then Christopher Lane cites the disdain of some religious boffin, right?

No.

No, his only example of disdain for doubt (and agnosticism) is Richard Dawkins.

That’s stupid.

It’s just plain stupid. As if* Dawkins were the most dogmatic person on the face of the earth! As if there were no other examples! As if theists were all full of admirable doubt while atheists are all brainlessly certain. As if Lane couldn’t think of one single other person to stand for excessive certainty.

It’s stupid, it’s lazy, it’s stale, it’s cheap. It’s time for people to do better.

The debates about religion and science that flared in the 19th century predate by almost two centuries the “new” atheism that has evolved today, undermining many of its claims for originality.

It doesn’t make claims for originality. Stupid, lazy, stale, and cheap.

*Even if you agree that Dawkins is especially “certain,” even in this particular passage, which I don’t.



Witty Shmuley

May 4th, 2011 11:47 am | By

Shmuley Boteach has a laugh at the idea of atheist military chaplains. I think the idea of atheists chaplains is silly in general, but I can certainly see that there ought to be some kind of chaplain-equivalent for people in the military who aren’t religious. Boteach’s objections are somewhat problematic.

And what comfort will they offer dying soldiers, G-d forbid (oops! Even that doesn’t work). Will they say, “Game over. You’re going to a place of complete oblivion. Thank you for your service.”?

Well, what comfort can anyone offer dying soldiers? What comfort will Boteach offer?

I don’t even know, actually. It’s my understanding that Judaism doesn’t actually believe in an afterlife, so what does he have to say that’s different from “a place of complete oblivion”? I don’t know, but if it is in fact different from that, what reason is there to think it’s true? Maybe he says you’re going to a place of infinite ice cream, but if he does, he’s telling an untruth. Why is he the one who is giggling and making fun?

In the same way that it might be uncomfortable for a Jewish soldier to talk about his deepest issues with, say, a Catholic Priest, it is arguably just as uncomfortable for an atheist soldier to talk to the same Priest.

Gee, you think?!

Still it would seem that those who profess an absence of belief can’t really be religious or spiritual chaplains. If you’re an atheist then what you see is what you get. There is no other reality — higher or lower — and the word spiritual is nothing but a crude con.

Well, Shmuley, how do you know there is an “other reality”? What do you know about it? What is your evidence for it? How do you know it’s not nastier than this reality we “get”? How do you know anything at all about it?

He notes that his atheist friends will say things like that, but he feels no obligation to answer or say anything cogent; instead he just says…you know what he says:

…the new atheists, like Richard Dawkins, demonstrate an intolerance and condescension to people of faith that is very similar to what one sadly finds among some of the most close-minded of religious people.

Therefore after death we go to a place of infinite ice cream.



A moment of petulance

May 3rd, 2011 4:11 pm | By

One thing. We’ve all been seeing every inch of tape there is of bin Laden over and over again since Sunday evening. That one where his best pal grabs him by the hat for a hug and hangs on to the hat as if it were handles – that’s a goofy one. But that’s not the one I’m going to say about.

It’s the one where he’s holding a microphone. What’s up with that? Why does he hold it in that affected limp loose “look how special I am” way? I want to know. I’ve seen that clip about 50 times now, so I want to know.

I didn’t go outside and run around yelling “we’re number one,” so I get to ask why he held the mike in that silly way. If there’s anything I don’t like it’s affectation.



Catching up

May 3rd, 2011 3:52 pm | By

Wait…

While the U.S. government might have preferred to cremate Bin Laden’s remains prior to disposal, Muslim tradition forbids cremation because it’s inconsistent with the resurrection of the body.

Um…so is rotting. Is Muslim tradition unaware of this?



The fundamental question of the truth

May 3rd, 2011 3:25 pm | By

Scott Aikin and Robert Talisse have doubts about Mary Warnock’s way of defending the social value of religious belief.

According to religious believers, their beliefs are not merely useful social instruments or efficient means for instilling good moral habits.  They are rather commitments to very particular metaphysical, ontological, and epistemological views.  These views provide the basis for the moral and communal practices among religious believers that Warnock finds socially valuable.  But the social value of the practices provides no defense for the underlying views, all of which are, we contend, false.  No discussion of the merits of religious practices and institutions should be permitted to evade the fundamental question of the truth of distinctively religious claims.

That is what I too think also likewise. I think that is one of the things that separate me and other gnus from the “be nice to religion” crowd. They are very concerned with political, instrumental matters like unity, cohesion, community, universal affection, sensitivity, solidarity, outreach, mutual understanding, and avoiding the remotest possibility of offending anyone by disputing an idea. We are more concerned with trying to think clearly and honestly about particular metaphysical, ontological, and epistemological views. Their concerns are more social or political, ours are more epistemological. This makes a difference.



Rushdie on Pakistan and bin Laden

May 2nd, 2011 6:09 pm | By

Excellent, no need to quote Facebook updates any more; Salman has written an article on the subject.

Many of us didn’t believe in the image of bin Laden as a wandering Old Man of the Mountains, living on plants and insects in an inhospitable cave somewhere on the porous Pakistan-Afghan border…Bin Laden was born filthy rich and died in a rich man’s house, which he had painstakingly built to the highest specifications. The U.S. administration confesses it was “shocked” by the elaborate nature of the compound.

Died in a rich man’s house, with women and children carefully placed around him as shields. What a guy.

Osama bin Laden, the world’s most wanted man, was found living at the end of a dirt road 800 yards from the Abbottabad military academy, Pakistan’s equivalent of West Point or Sandhurst, in a military cantonment where soldiers are on every street corner, just about 80 miles from the Pakistani capital Islamabad. This extremely large house had neither a telephone nor an Internet connection. And in spite of this we are supposed to believe that Pakistan didn’t know he was there, and that the Pakistani intelligence, and/or military, and/or civilian authorities did nothing to facilitate his presence in Abbottabad, while he ran al Qaeda, with couriers coming and going, for five years?

Well when you put it like that…it doesn’t seem very credible, does it.

Pakistan’s neighbor India, badly wounded by the November 26, 2008, terrorist attacks on Mumbai, is already demanding answers. As far as the anti-Indian jihadist groups are concerned—Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad—Pakistan’s support for such groups, its willingness to provide them with safe havens, its encouragement of such groups as a means of waging a proxy war in Kashmir and, of course, in Mumbai—is established beyond all argument. In recent years these groups have been reaching out to the so-called Pakistani Taliban to form new networks of violence…

Pakistan needs to get its act together.



Red faces in Pakistan

May 2nd, 2011 10:16 am | By

Salman Rushdie’s Facebook page is an interesting place today. He noticed right off the bat that the location of bin Laden’s vacation home raises some tricky questions. So did William Dalrymple. 13 hours ago – which was 9 last night Pacific Time, so before Obama made the announcement.

Dalrymple: In Abbotabad next to the Pakistan’s main military academy. Funny that.

Rushdie: That’s right. Army town. Just the place for the world’s most wanted man to live unobserved.

Quite. I’ve been trying to picture it. Giant compound, 8 times the size of anything else in the neighborhood; 12 to 18 foot walls; mystery occupants; important military academy a few hundred meters away; retired military people all around. Nobody notices; nobody worries; nobody asks questions; nobody investigates.

Really?

I think not.

Rushdie in an update today, with a link to Simon Tisdall’s Guardian article:

Damn right it’s “embarrassing.” Osama purpose-builds a high-security luxury compound in a Pak military cantonment, 800 yards from Pakistan’s equivalent of West Point or Sandhurst, and for YEARS runs al-Qaeda from it, his couriers coming and going… and we’re supposed to believe Pakistan wasn’t protecting him? (Mullah Omar, it’s widely rumoured, is in another ISI safe house.)

On Salil Tripathi’s page, a friend of Salil’s said

Per the NYT the ISI are claiming it was a joint operation. Ha ha

Salil replied

Yes, they were rolling joints, I suppose!

We live in interesting times.



It’s all about a beautiful dress

May 1st, 2011 3:56 pm | By

Oh yes child (that is, girl) beauty pageants, one of my favorite things. It’s so obviously a good idea to train girls from infancy to act, move, walk, and look as much like prostitutes as possible. Australia had, in its innocence, forgotten to have such things, but they are now on their way their thanks to the helpful interventions of US pageanters.

The anti-pageant groups claim pageants sexualise children

But the pro-pageant people, absurdly, say they don’t. No no, it’s

a positive and fun-filled family occasion that will boost participants’ self-confidence.
Self-confidence at what? Attracting sexual attention? Why would anyone want to boost a six-year-old girl’s confidence at attracting sexual attention? If it’s so positive and fun-filled, why don’t they dress up little boys the same way?
I’ll tell you why. Because it’s degrading and slavish, that’s why, and it would be an outrage to train little boys to do something degrading and slavish, but it’s perfectly all right to train little girls to do that. Why is it? Well because that’s supposed to be their job, and it’s ok to start teaching to be good at it before they can read.

Annette Hill, owner of the Texas parent company Universal Royalty Beauty Pageant, who arrives in Australia a week before the pageant, said…”I don’t like golf but I am not going to go to a golf tournament and protest.”

Not relevant. It’s not about liking to do something oneself, it’s about doing things to very young children – very young girls.

”If you are looking at children in a sexual way, you should be ashamed of yourself and something is wrong with you. It’s all about a beautiful dress, a beautiful child with lots of personality performing on stage.”

Right, because the whole thing has nothing whatever to do with sex; the little girls are not dressed in a sexualized way, they are not loaded with makeup, they are performing on stage like any other child singing or reciting a poem.

However, Glenn Cupit, senior lecturer in child development at the University of South Australia, believes the young pageant participants are instructed to dress and behave in an adult way.

”The title is ‘child beauty pageant’ but if you look at the way the children are dressed and required to act, it’s actually a child sexualisation pageant,” he said. ”The children are put into skimpy clothes, they are taught to do bumps and grinds. It’s not looking at children’s beauty. It’s a particular idea of what beauty is, which is based on a highly sexualised understanding of female beauty.”

Exactly like the highly sexualized understanding of female beauty that mandates that female ballet dancers, gymnasts and ice skaters all have to wear the equivalent of bathing suits while male ballet dancers, gymnasts and ice skaters wear long tights and often long sleeves. Women have to look as naked and vulnerable as possible while men have to look as different from that as possible.

I’m off to play some golf.



Despised is despised

Apr 30th, 2011 12:35 pm | By

I sometimes see indignation about claims that atheists are a despised minority, on the grounds that other despised minorities had it much worse. That was one of Karla McLaren’s many claims.

As you may recall, this word ["accommodationist"] was first used by black Americans in the Voting Rights era against people who were seen as being too subservient and too accommodating to whites. I could write a whole ‘nother post about how interesting it is for atheists to imagine that their struggle is similar to that of African Americans.

But not everyone considers the comparison obviously wrong.

Long after blacks and Jews have made great strides, and even as homosexuals gain respect, acceptance and new rights, there is still a group that lots of Americans just don’t like much: atheists.

That’s the first line of the piece. Well: is it false?

It seems to me to be obviously not false. The air is thick with complaints about atheists, considered as a group and considered guilty as members of the group. This is not to say that atheists are as despised as any other group, nor is it to say that they are as badly treated as any other group. It’s just to say that they are despised as a group. It’s funny, in a way, that it’s often the very people who are calling atheists names are the ones scorning the idea that atheists are despised. McLaren is a good example of that, too. A torrent of atheist-bashing plus a smug dismissal of the idea that atheists get bashed.

As with other national minority groups, atheism is enjoying rapid growth…designed to overcome the understandable reluctance to admit atheism have found that as many as 60 million Americans — a fifth of the population — are not believers. Our nonreligious compatriots should be accorded the same respect as other minorities.

I’ll look forward to that.



The savage shaming stunning sullying gleeful fist

Apr 29th, 2011 5:14 pm | By

I got in a slight brawl with Chris Stedman at Facebook just now. I’m a brawler…but then so is Chris, in his way, only he thinks he isn’t.

He started a thread about “shock horror that atheists sometimes compare the atheist movement and the civil rights movement.” There was lots of obliging shock-horror from his friends - oh yes that is shocking and horrible; that kind of thing. I blew my nose and then commenced brawling, by saying it’s not about saying atheists have it as bad as blacks, it’s about pointing out similarities in the way the movements and the backlashes against them play out. We brawled for awhile, then he had to go get a haircut, but just before that he revealed that he doesn’t see any hostility in Karla McLaren’s guest post at his place.

Now that surprises me. It doesn’t surprise me that he thinks I’m a pain in the ass, of course, but it does surprise me that he thinks that post is hostility-free. Really?

the Four (Dennett excluded) have put those ideas forward at the end of a fist…the form requires that you come out swinging from an extremist position…A polemic [is] made for igniting passions and selling books, for forcing sudden and unsupported change, and for shaming any opposing voices into stunned silence…I often cringe at the savage glee with which these people carry out their attacks and sully the communal discourse.

Not hostile? What is that, friendly?