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.

Up to 140 million girls and women

Oct 17th, 2014 10:50 am | By

The first official figures on FGM cases seen by UK hospitals have been published. There have been 1,700 since April.

The public health minister, Jane Ellison, who pushed for the data to be collected, hailed the move. “We know FGM devastates lives but understanding the scale of the problem is essential to tackling it effectively,” she said.

“That is why, for the first time ever, hospitals are reporting information on FGM – a major milestone on the road to ending FGM in one generation here in the UK. This data will help us care for women who have had FGM, and prevent more girls from having to suffer this traumatic experience.”

An estimated 137,000 women and girls in England and Wales are affected by FGM, according to a study by Equality Now and City University, released in July.

The World Health Organisation estimates that up to 140 million girls and women have been subjected to FGM, a traditional practice designed to curb sexuality that involves the partial or total removal of the outer sexual organs. The procedure can cause lifelong physical and psychological complications.

Ending it in the UK is all very well, but ending it in other parts of the world is one hell of an uphill battle.

Now I’m depressed.

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

Stuck-up prude slut hos

Oct 16th, 2014 6:32 pm | By

From a long piece in the Atlantic by Hana Rosin about high school kids sexting:

Studies on high-school kids’ general attitudes about sexting turn up what you’d expect—that is, the practice inspires a maddening, ancient, crude double standard. Researchers from the University of Michigan recently surveyed a few dozen teenagers in urban areas. Boys reported receiving sexts from girls “I know I can get it from” and said that sexting is “common only for girls with slut reputations.” But the boys also said that girls who don’t sext are “stuck up” or “prude.”

The boys themselves, on the other hand, were largely immune from criticism, whether they sexted or not.

Sometimes in Louisa County, between interviews, I hung out with a group of 15-year-old boys who went to the library after school. They seemed like good kids who studied, played football, and occasionally got into fights, but no more than most boys. They’d watch videos of rappers from the area and talk about rumors in the rap world, like the one that the Chicago rapper Chief Keef, a rival of D.C.’s Shy Glizzy, had gotten a middle-school girl pregnant. They’d order and split a pizza to pass the time while waiting for their parents to leave work and pick them up. I started to think of them as the high school’s Greek chorus because, while I recognized much of what they said as 15-year-old-boy swagger—designed to impress me and each other, and not necessarily true—they still channeled the local sentiment. This is how one of them described his game to me: “A lot of girls, they stubborn, so you gotta work on them. You say, ‘I’m trying to get serious with you.’ You call them beautiful. You say, ‘You know I love you.’ You think about it at night, and then you wake up in the morning and you got a picture in your phone.”

“You wake up a happy man,” his friend said.

“Yeah, a new man.”

“Yeah, I’m the man.”

How do you feel about the girl after she sends it?, I asked.

“Super thots.”

“You can’t love those thots!”

“That’s right, you can’t love those hos.”

“Girls in Louisa are easy.”

We’re doomed. Doomed. Boys hate girls no matter what the girls do, and boys grow up to be men who hate women.

We’re doomed.

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

A classic

Oct 16th, 2014 5:21 pm | By

Ever seen the movie Lone Star? I did a Facebook post about it this morning by way of noting what a bad thing it is that Elizabeth Peña has died. I said (truthfully) that it’s a great movie, possibly Sayles’s best, and to my surprise a lot of people came along to echo that thought. One said it’s his favorite movie, another said a friend considers it the best American movie of all time.

Wo – I thought it was an obscure favorite peculiar to me, but no. So why isn’t it shown on tv all the time?

Here are a few scenes on Siskel and Ebert:


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

Women are stealing all the safe spaces

Oct 16th, 2014 5:10 pm | By

David Futrelle shares with us four absurd rationalizations about the threats against Anita Sarkeesian.

One boils down to: “Hey men are fucked up because of feminism so women should THANK US for giving fucked up men a safe space where they won’t be killing women all the time. Gaming is one of those safe spaces – or was, until women started trying to shove their whorey way in. So watch out because if they don’t stop it’s going to get bloody!”

As many commenters pointed out, men actually seem to have an abundance of safe spaces.

Another said that another Marc Lépine would be…a terrible thing for men.

But the best one said it was those god damn English majors.

Capitalsman 7 points 1 day ago   The fact that it starts off by informing you who, when, and where she will be speaking in the beginning in a seperate paragraph so it stands out is highly suspect on it's own. It starts like a campus news letter about her speaking there and has grammar better than anything I did in college. If it isn't a real threat like it seems, then surely either a staff member or a feminist majoring in English wrote this.

Because only English majors know deeply arcane and hidden things like not saying “by informing you who she will be speaking” and how to spell “separate” and that you DON’T use the possessive apostrophe in its. To everyone else that kind of thing is as occult as physics or risotto.

There are also a lot of funny comments on Futrelle’s post. Like this one:

At some point, someone “proved” that Brianna Wu sent herself the threats she received, because both of them used periods at the end of sentences.


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

Guest post: One at least realizes that safety cannot be assumed

Oct 16th, 2014 4:55 pm | By

Originally a comment by A Masked Avenger on Whose freedom?

The inability, or refusal, to provide security measures–including preventing attendees from carrying weapons–is unconscionable. Full stop.

Ms. Sarkeesian, and everyone else for that matter, has an absolute right to do what is necessary to feel safe. Full stop.

I do think that the “privilege of being able to stand up in a crowd and not worry about being murdered” rests on the comforting, but false, notion that making a rule against firearms–or even screening people for firearms–means that everyone you meet is unarmed.

As someone who works in law enforcement, I am armed with some regularity. And I have accidentally entered secure areas in sports venues, theme parks, and even airports, while armed. Screening has limited effectiveness, and it’s not hard to forget that you have a knife, gun, baton, or pepper spray, because you have them so routinely. Of course I’ve also had security find my knife, or OC spray, and cheerfully surrendered them to be tossed. But if I actually wanted to get through with a weapon, I’d give myself 3:1 odds in favor.

There are larger issues, of course. Does screening reduce the likelihood of an armed confrontation? Unquestionably. Is it better to have some security than no security? Obviously. Would I demand security measures if credible threats were made on my life? You bet your ass. Nothing I just said can really be construed as an argument against security, or legal restrictions on weapons. It’s just worth bearing in mind the fact that prohibiting weapons is not at all the same thing as “the privilege of being able to stand up in a crowd and not worry about being murdered.” I don’t think it’s wise to be under that illusion. In the 24 “open carry” states, or the 39 “shall issue” states, one at least realizes that safety cannot be assumed.

The bright side is, as I’m wont to say, that “obviously nobody wants to kill me that badly, because I’m still alive.”

But that, of course, is cold fucking comfort to someone who is receiving death threats. I have no answers for Ms. Sarkeesian–all I can offer is my unqualified support for her, and my heartfelt wish that those threatening her are caught and punished.

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

Over a dozen clerics

Oct 16th, 2014 1:45 pm | By

Bad news – the Lahore High Court has upheld the death penalty for Asia Bibi for “blasphemy.”

Asia Bibi, a mother of five, has been on death row since November 2010 after she was found guilty of making derogatory remarks about [the prophet] during an argument with a Muslim woman.

She probably didn’t even do it – anything that even theocrats could call blasphemy. It appears to be just something some people said because they don’t like her.

The blasphemy allegations against Bibi date back to June 2009.

She was working in a field when she was asked to fetch water. Muslim women labourers objected, saying that as a non-Muslim she was unfit to touch the water bowl.

A few days later the women went to a local cleric and put forward the blasphemy allegations.

Hateful. Because she’s of the “wrong” religion, she’s too dirty to touch the water bowl.

Salmaan Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti were murdered for urging reforms to the blasphemy law and trying to defend Bibi.

Over a dozen religious clerics — including Qari Saleem who brought forward the initial complaint against Bibi — were present at the court Thursday.

“We will soon distribute sweets among our Muslim brothers for today’s verdict, it’s a victory of Islam,” Saleem told AFP outside the courtroom as the clerics congratulated each other and chanted religious slogans.

That’s so sickening. They’re celebrating because a poor woman is closer to being executed for purportedly saying the wrong thing about their religion. That is not any kind of victory for Islam.

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

A present for the judge

Oct 16th, 2014 1:29 pm | By

In Bahrain, a woman can be and is arrested for tearing up a photograph of the king. HRW reports.

A Bahraini rights activist jailed for ripping up a photo of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa in court on October 14, 2014, should be released immediately. Bahrain should drop all freedom-of-expression related charges against the activist, Zainab al-Khawaja, who is eight months pregnant and has been charged with insulting the king.

Al-Khawaja was in court to face charges relating to two previous incidents in which she also tore up photographs of the king as a form of protest. She was arrested again in the courtroom and, on October 15, the public prosecutor charged her with insulting the king and ordered her detention for another seven days.

For the “crime” of ripping up a photo. It would be laughable if this weren’t a real woman with a real pregnancy in a real jail.

Zainab al-Khawaja is the daughter of Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who is serving a life sentence in relation to his calls for political reform in Bahrain. Her mother, Khadija al-Mousawi, told Human Rights Watch that at the start of court proceedings on October 14 her daughter addressed the judge, stating that “It is my right, and my responsibility as a free person, to protest against oppression and oppressors.”

She then took a photo of King Hamad, ripped it up, and placed it in front of the judge, who immediately adjourned the hearing. Authorities arrested her immediately and she spent the night in Isa Town detention center.

In September 2012, she was sentenced to two months in prison for ripping up a photo of King Hamad. In early February 2013 she was imprisoned on charges that included illegal gathering and insulting police officers. She was released in February 2014. She is now facing six outstanding charges, five of which, according to information provided by her lawyer, clearly violate her right to free expression, Human Rights Watch said.

She sounds like one heroic woman.

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

Allowed in spite of the threats

Oct 16th, 2014 1:03 pm | By

Anita Sarkeesian explained to the Salt Lake Tribune what she has already explained to everyone else: that she decided not to give the talk at Utah State not because of the threats but because the response was inadequate.

In a phone interview from San Francisco, Anita Sarkeesian said she canceled Wednesday’s lecture not because of three death threats — one of which promised “the deadliest school shooting in American history” — but because firearms would be allowed in spite of the threats.

“That was it for me,” said Sarkeesian, who has kept multiple speaking engagements in the face of death threats, including one last week at Geek Girl Con in Seattle. “If they allowed weapons into the auditorium, that was too big a risk.”

She also pledged never to speak at a Utah school until firearms are prohibited on Utah’s campuses and called for other lecturers to join her in boycotting the state.

If Utah is safe only for uncontroversial speakers, then what good is that? Especially considering how very “controversial” women’s rights still are.

After the mass shooting threat was sent to the school late Monday, a second threat arrived Tuesday. That one, USU spokesman Tim Vitale confirmed, claimed affiliation with the controversial and sometimes violent online video gamers’ movement known as GamerGate. Initially purported to be a dispute over the ethics of a female game designer’s relationship with a gaming journalist, GamerGate exploded into a flurry of rape and death threats against feminists in the games industry. The hashtag #GamerGate evolved to identify not a controversy, but a loose group of gamers claiming a variety of objectives, from improving the image of gamers to policing games journalism to killing feminists who call for less abusive representations of women in video games. Escalating threats over the past two months have driven multiple female game developers and critics from their homes.

So all that makes the timing of this tweet very…unsavory.

Respect & much love to gamers for standing up to SJW bullies. You’ve been kind yet fierce, and you’ve set an important precedent

Late Wednesday evening, long after the threats against Sarkeesian and the connection with GamerGate were being reported all over the place.

I don’t know of a single “SJW” who has sent death threats to anyone.

Back to the Salt Lake Tribune.

USU police consulted with the FBI’s cyberterrorism task force and behavioral analysis unit and determined that the threats against Sarkeesian would not prevent a safe lecture, even with firearms allowed.

“Given that she had received many of the same sorts of threats and none of the threats had materialized into anything specific, that was part of the context of the investigation,” Vitale said. “That led us to believe that the threat was not imminent or real.”

Good thinking. By the same token, if you jump off a tall building, you pass the 90th floor, then the 80th, then the 70th, and you’re still whole, so it will be the same all the way down.

Sarkeesian said the threats were specific, with one claiming, “I have at my disposal a semi-automatic rifle, multiple pistols, and a collection of pipe bombs.”

“It’s unacceptable that the school is unable or unwilling to screen for firearms at a lecture on their campus, especially when a specific terrorist threat had been made against the speaker,” she said.

USU always has allowed guns at campus events, including speeches by U.S. Supreme Court JusticeAntonin Scalia in 2008 and actor and activist Danny Glover, whose commencement address in 2010 was targeted by hate mail but nothing rising to the level of a death threat, Vitale said.

Thus they felt completely justified in shrugging off death threats. Oh well, nobody was threatening to shoot them, so I guess that makes sense.


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

Whose freedom?

Oct 16th, 2014 11:16 am | By

Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon ponders the fact that gun rights are allowed to trump public safety.

It’s about living in a country in which the right to carry around a weapon takes priority over the privilege of being able to stand up in a crowd and not worry about being murdered.

That’s the United States – where public speaking is dangerous but carrying a gun is cherished and protected.

On Tuesday, the University announced that it intended to still hold the event, despite the warning that “feminists have ruined my life and I will have my revenge, for my sake and the sake of all the others they’ve wronged.” University spokesman Tim Vitale told the Standard Examiner that the school had consulted with federal, local and state law enforcement and determined it was safe to go on with the appearance, noting that “They determined the threat seems to be consistent with ones [Sarkeesian] has received at other places around the nation. The threat we received is not out of the norm for [her.]” Yep, just your typical, run of the mill, everyday let’s-kill-the-feminists thing. Your basic vow of a “Montreal Massacre-style attack,” a promise that “I have at my disposal a semi-automatic rifle, multiple pistols, and a collection of pipe. This will be the deadliest school shooting in American history and I’m giving you a chance to stop it… One way or another, I’m going to make sure they die… She is going to die screaming like the craven little whore that she is if you let her come to USU…. I will write my manifesto in her spilled blood, and you will all bear witness to what feminist lies and poison have done to the men of America” letter. As you do. The school promised additional security around the event, and “not allowing large bags or backpacks inside.”

What it did not do, however, and the reason Sarkeesian ultimately canceled, was actually commit to stopping people from bringing in guns.

The school did more than not commit to stopping people from bringing in guns; it said it wouldn’t stop people from bringing in guns, because the law wouldn’t allow it. The school made it clear that guns would not be banned or stopped or detained at the event.

So what will it take, Williams asks, for something to be done about this? We don’t know, because what there’s already been hasn’t done the job.

You know how long it’s been since a man with a gun and a desire to punish women went out and killed a bunch of people near a school? Less than five months. Less than five months since Elliot Rodger murdered six people and injured thirteen others. Isla Vista. Aurora. Sandy Hook. Welcome to America.

It’s one thing to accept and understand that plenty of reasonable and responsible people own guns and that is their constitutional right. It is another to be so outrageously afraid of legitimate and sane restrictions that you have a situation in which it is entirely permissible to carry a loaded weapon into an event that carries a threat that the people attending it will “die screaming.”

Why should the freedom to carry a gun everywhere trump the freedom to speak up in public?

I would really like to know.

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

Utah State University didn’t even tell her

Oct 16th, 2014 9:28 am | By

Good grief. I didn’t know this part: Anita Sarkeesian tweeted 16 hours ago:

Feminist Frequency @femfreq · 16h
USU acted irresponsibly. They did not even inform me of the threat. I learned about it via news stories on Twitter after I landed in Utah.

Holy shit. They can’t ban guns at her event, and they didn’t inform her of the threat.

I’m reeling.

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

Starkly one-sided

Oct 15th, 2014 5:04 pm | By

Some Harvard Law School professors don’t like Harvard’s recently installed sexual harassment policy. The Harvard Crimson reports:

“Harvard has adopted procedures for deciding cases of alleged sexual misconduct which lack the most basic elements of fairness and due process, are overwhelmingly stacked against the accused, and are in no way required by Title IX law or regulation,” the professors—21 men and seven women—wrote.

Hmm. 21 men and 7 women. Hmm.


The authors also attacked the University for language in the policy stipulating that any instance of sexual conduct that occurs “when a person is so impaired or incapacitated as to be incapable of requesting or inviting the conduct” will be deemed “unwelcome.” The professors characterized this procedure as “starkly one-sided…and entirely inadequate to address the complex issues involved in these unfortunate situations.”

Starkly one-sided? It should be evenly balanced between an incapacitated person and a non-incapacitated one? Isn’t that a bit like saying a law against assault is starkly one-sided? Of course a regulation or law against having sex with a person too impaired or incapacitated to consent is going to be “one-sided,” because that’s the point.

But hey, don’t forget, “if you want to be in a position to testify and jail a man, don’t get drunk.”

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

Pride, anger and a domineering spirit

Oct 15th, 2014 4:45 pm | By

Mark Driscoll has resigned as pastor and elder and grand poobah of Mars Hill Church.

Religion News Service has his resignation letter.

I readily acknowledge I am an imperfect messenger of the gospel of Jesus Christ. There are many things I have confessed and repented of, privately and publicly, as you are well aware. Specifically, I have confessed to past pride, anger and a domineering spirit.

As I shared with our church in August, “God has broken me many times in recent years by showing me where I have fallen short, and while my journey, at age 43, is far from over, I believe He has brought me a long way from some days I am not very proud of, and is making me more like Him every day.”

You know…if you want to be a reasonably good person, especially a good person by the standards of 2014, you need more than one book, and more than one admirable person. You need to find inspiration and models in more than one place. Life is complicated, being reasonably good is complicated, the world is complicated – so just focusing on Jesus all the time is not adequate. At all.

Prior to and during this process there have been no charges of criminal activity, immorality or heresy, any of which could clearly be grounds for disqualification from pastoral ministry. Other issues, such as aspects of my personality and leadership style, have proven to be divisive within the Mars Hill context, and I do not want to be the source of anything that might detract from our church’s mission to lead people to a personal and growing relationship with Jesus Christ.

So he’s leaving.

But it’s sad and dispiriting that people think it’s at all adequate to get all your guidance and advice and inspiration about trying to do a good job of being a human from a church.


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

Yes, Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz writing a book

Oct 15th, 2014 4:14 pm | By

Yup, that’s what he says, at 5:45:

That’s why I’m writing a book with Maajid Nawaz, that’s why I give money to his organization.

Well all right then. That could do some good. It will boost Maajid’s visibility, and it will probably inform Sam Harris.


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

Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz

Oct 15th, 2014 4:09 pm | By

Well this is a new angle – although so far I’ve found only angry Islamist sources for it, but they say it’s in a segment on CNN. The claim is that Sam Harris is writing a book with Maajid Nawaz, and that he gives money to the Quilliam Foundation. If that’s true, well, that’s good news.

Here’s the awful 5pillarz on the subject:

The prominent Islamophobe Sam Harris has revealed that he is writing a book with Maajid Nawaz and that he’s giving money to the Quilliam Foundation.

Harris made the admission during an interview with CNN which can be seen HERE after 5 mins 45 secs

It’s not an “admission” because it’s not a bad thing to do. It’s a good thing to do. The people at 5pillarz are dreadful.

The Quilliam Foundation, a supposed counter-extremism think-tank,  is regularly given a platform by the mainstream media to demonise Islam and Muslims and is rejected by vast swathes of the British Muslim community.

Bullshit. Quilliam doesn’t demonize Muslims, and part of the reason some Muslims reject it is because people like those behind 5pillarz tell lies about it.

Now to watch that video.


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

We recognize no such thing

Oct 15th, 2014 11:36 am | By

The UK’s National Union of Students recently refused to condemn IS because to do so would be Islamophobic. Or rather, “””Islamophobic””” – one set of scare quotes isn’t sarcastic enough.

Hand-wringing delegates at the NUS blocked a vote to show solidarity with Iraqi Kurds and condemn Islamic State militants because they say it’s “Islamophobic”.

The bill called for the Union – which claims to represent UK students – to support unity between Muslims, condemn the bloody terror of ISIS (also known as the Islamic State), and support a boycott on people who fund the militants.

But the motion offended Black Students Officer Malia Bouattia, who said: “We recognise that condemnation of ISIS appears to have become a justification for war and blatant Islamaphobia.

“This rhetoric exacerbates the issue at hand and in essence is a further attack on those we aim to defend.”

Progressive Muslim friends of mine are unsurprised to learn that it’s Bouattia who said that ridiculous thing. She doesn’t like progressive Muslims, either.

Birmingham student Bouattia says she plans to put forward another motion in the next meeting to condemn ISIS that “will in no way pander to Western imperialistic intervention or the demonisation of Muslim peoples.”

ISIS has wreaked misery in Syria and Iraq, slaughtering thousands of Kurds and other Iraqis, raping and kidnapping women, beheading innocent victims including British aid workers Alan Henning and David Haines.

Baffled delegates pointed out the motion specifically expressed “no confidence or trust in the US military intervention”.

Roza Salih, a student of Kurdish descent, had worked on the resolution for the NUS to condemn the Islamic State and to campaign for democracy in Iraq.

Also significant is the fact that the vast majority of the victims of IS are Muslims.


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

A massive job that will have no end

Oct 15th, 2014 10:55 am | By

Terry Sanderson has an enthusiastic, inspired post on Maryam’s conference on Secularism last weekend. He says it wasn’t like any other conference on secularism he’s ever been to.

It was a truly international event that made everyone there feel that they were engaged in a momentous worldwide call for change. It was just a start, but the passion generated was the kind that can move mountains.

To start with, there was a majority of women among the 250 delegates. They had come from all over the world, bringing with them some horrific stories of suffering at the hands of religion.

Many speakers from Muslim backgrounds told of the persecution and discrimination and the sometimes heroic resistance to it. Wherever there is theocracy it seems there is also resistance. Individuals and groups, very often women, very often religious themselves, who are seeking to create a secular space where they and their communities can be free to make their own choices and exercise their own beliefs.

It was right that women were the dominant presence at this conference, for it is women who are the most numerous victims of theocratic regimes.

He was worried about the safety of some people who spoke, and inspired by their courage.

One speaker, told us she experienced some nerves before her speech – on women, religion and the religious-right. The last time Magdulien Abaida spoke at a conference in Benghazi it was interrupted by members of Islamist militia group who subsequently abducted her from her hotel room.

We were told of the people who had been murdered, tortured, silenced and had their rights removed just to enable religious hegemony to continue.

Some women recounted the way that men, in the name of their faith, sought to control every moment of female lives – what women eat, when they eat, what they wear, who they can love, how they can love them – even how they go to the toilet.

Secularism is one crucial approach to ending such arrangements.

Our job is to persuade people of the value and brilliance of secularism so that they will embrace it when they are asked.

This is a massive job that will have no end, but we should promote the adoption of secularism wherever we can. Whether that is in our national governments, our local authorities or our shared institutions.

Religious leaders will never give up their power willingly. The people have to politely show them the door and tell them to return to their churches and mosques and temples and to stay there.

Only then will the terrible suffering that women have to endure under religious rule be alleviated. At some time in the future all women will be able to participate in the world on an equal basis as men, and secularism is what will make that happen.

Not secularism alone, no. As we keep seeing, there are other influences that motivate people to stop women participating in the world on an equal basis with men, influences that are nothing to do with theocracy or religion. But secularism would certainly be one huge step in the right direction.

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

Just one side

Oct 15th, 2014 10:27 am | By

Soraya Nadia McDonald at the Washington Post reports on the threatening of Anita Sarkeesian.

As escalating threats of death and rape marked Sarkeesian’s tenure as a video game vlogger, she’s been adamant about not allowing them to silence her.

The Utah State threat is just the latest one in the ongoing saga of Gamergate, an increasingly nasty culture war between video-game critics like Sarkeesian and a mob of gamers.

I really wish she hadn’t put it that way. It’s not true. Sarkeesian isn’t “increasingly nasty” and she isn’t engaging in any kind of war. It’s not a war, it’s a terror campaign. It’s not “both sides,” it’s one side. Talking about trope in video games is not waging war, it’s not nasty, it’s not threatening, it’s not doing anything wrong.

There aren’t two sides here. It’s not always the case that there are two (comparable) sides.

Typically, Sarkeesian does not back out of events because of threats — last month, someone threatened to bomb the Game Developers Choice Awards if they honored Sarkeesian. They proceeded anyway, under caution — and Tuesday night she clarified her reasoning for canceling the event at Utah State.

This instance was different because of Utah’s concealed carry law: Anyone in the state, including college students, can carry a concealed weapon as long as they have a permit for the gun.

“To be clear: I didn’t cancel my USU talk because of terrorist threats,” she tweeted. “I canceled because I didn’t feel the security measures were adequate.”

According to university spokesman Tim Vitale, the university formulated a security plan when they knew Sarkeesian was coming, prior to her arrival. “We were going to not allow bags in at all,” Vitale said. Once the threat was sent, “We added officers, both uniform and undercover, and we were going to empty the room and sweep the room [for bombs].”

However, the university didn’t plan to use metal detectors or institute a temporary gun ban restricted to the confines of the lecture space. Utah State is a publicly-funded university.

When Sarkeesian arrived in Utah, campus police Capt. Steve Milne “explained by state law if someone has a legal concealed carry permit, that they were allowed by law to have that,” Vitale said. “In the end, it caused her to decide to cancel the event.”

Of course it did. When your hosts tell you they won’t be screening for guns or taking guns away if they find them, then it makes sense to decide not to go.

And so the bullies get what they want.

The Gamergate crowd responded to news stories reporting Sarkeesian alerted authorities with accusations that she was fabricating threats to serve herself and her message. She wasn’t, and law enforcement confirmed they were investigating the threats against Sarkeesian, which prompted the involvement of the FBI.

Wu was also accused of making up the threats against her, which has become a tactic to discredit the very women who are being targeted.

“I am a professional developer,” Wu told Kotaku. “The quickest way I could think of to end my career and destroy my credibility would be making something like this up and getting arrested for filing a false police report.”

But it doesn’t cost the bullies anything to make those accusations, just as it doesn’t cost them anything to make threats.

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

Stay out of Utah

Oct 15th, 2014 9:43 am | By

CFI’s legal honcho Nick Little gave me the link to Utah’s gun law.

(5) Unless specifically authorized by the Legislature by statute, a local authority or state entity may not enact, establish, or enforce any ordinance, regulation, rule, or policy pertaining to firearms that in any way inhibits or restricts the possession or use of firearms on either public or private property.

(6) As used in this section:

(a) “firearm” has the same meaning as defined in Section 76-10-501; and

(b) “local authority or state entity” includes public school districts, public schools, and state institutions of higher education.

See that there? PUBLIC SCHOOLS and STATE COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES are forbidden to restrict the possession or use of firearms on either public or private property in any way.

And if all these local authorities are forbidden to restrict the use of guns…doesn’t that mean people are allowed to shoot other people, pets, car windshields, windows, tires?

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

Well obviously people can bring guns to Sarkeesian’s talk

Oct 15th, 2014 9:01 am | By

As you probably already know, yesterday evening Utah State made a statement saying that Anita Sarkeesian had canceled her talk scheduled today October 15. Here’s why:

Oct. 14, 7 p.m.
Anita Sarkeesian has canceled her scheduled speech for tomorrow following a discussion with Utah State University police regarding an email threat that was sent to Utah State University. During the discussion, Sarkeesian asked if weapons will be permitted at the speaking venue. Sarkeesian was informed that, in accordance with the State of Utah law regarding the carrying of firearms, if a person has a valid concealed firearm permit and is carrying a weapon, they are permitted to have it at the venue.

I’m just fucking stunned.

So that’s it – we can’t have freedom of speech or association – we feminist women, we anyone who says something that bullies don’t like. We can’t have it because bullies will announce they’re going to shoot us and other feminists if we go to X place and talk, and because the officials at X place won’t take the most basic and obvious step to protect us.

That’s really brilliant, isn’t it. Now they’ll just do that for everything. No feminist will be able to appear in public ever again.

I’ll quote again from their statement 3 hours earlier, at 4 p.m., where they said they would take every step.

Sarkeesian’s talk will go ahead as scheduled, and we are taking every precaution to ensure the safety of our students. Prior to the threat, Utah State University police were already making preparations for security as the speaker had received similar threats in the past. Enhanced security measures will now be in place, which include prohibiting backpacks and any large bags.

The safety and protection of students and staff is paramount at Utah State, and we will take every precaution to ensure that attendees will have the opportunity to hear Sarkeesian, a national speaker, tell her perspective about an important topic. As an institution of higher education, it is important that we provide our students with rich learning experiences from a variety of sources.

They will prohibit backpacks and large bags, but they will not prohibit guns. Guns will be allowed. People will be permitted to bring guns to the talk. Guns are ok, guns are fine, it’s only backpacks and bags that are a problem. It might be possible to suffocate someone with a backpack or a bag.

Will the government be issuing us with targets to wear?

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

Relief for Texas

Oct 14th, 2014 6:26 pm | By

But one piece of good news – that is (as so often) one undoing of a piece of bad news. The Supreme Court blocked Texas’s horrible admitting privileges law, allowing 13 clinics to re-open.

The court’s order, staying a decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit that the law could go into effect, will allow more than a dozen of the clinics to resume operation, according to the group that challenged the law, the Center for Reproductive Rights.

The action will allow 13 abortion clinics that closed after the appeals court decision to reopen, said Nancy Northup, president of the center. “We’re absolutely thrilled.”

The group told the justices that “if the stay entered by the 5th Circuit is not vacated, the clinics forced to remain closed during the appeals process will likely never reopen.”

The court’s decision is not a judgment on the Texas law, but whether the law’s new restrictions should be delayed while the legal battle continued.

So it’s not a permanent undoing of a bit of bad news, but it will be a relief to a lot of women in Texas for now.

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