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.


No religious test except for this one tiny thing

May 29th, 2012 10:16 am | By

When I sat next to Wafa Sultan at the dinner weekend before last, she asked me if there were any penalties for being an atheist in the US, and I told her there were two states that ban atheists from running for office. She was amazed and incredulous, and I assured her it was true; Tennessee and I think Arkansas, I added.

But I was wrong. It’s not two, it’s seven.

[Update for clarification: these are all articles of state constitutions, and (I'm told) (by Matt Dillahunty) they could never be enforced. I kind of assumed that anyway, but it's better to spell it out.]

Matthew Bulger of American Humanists lists them.

Arkansas, Article 19, Section 1: No person who denies the being of a God shall hold any office in the civil departments of this State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any Court.

Maryland, Article 37: That no religious test ought ever to be required as a qualification for any office of profit or trust in this State, other than a declaration of belief in the existence of God; nor shall the Legislature prescribe any other oath of office than the oath prescribed by this Constitution.

Mississippi, Article 14, Section 265: No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office in this state.

North Carolina, Article 6, Section 8 The following persons shall be disqualified for office: Any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God.

South Carolina, Article 17, Section 4: No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office under this Constitution.

Tennessee, Article 9, Section 2: No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this state.

Texas, Article 1, Section 4: No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall any one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.

I love the Maryland one – no religious test except for belief in the existence of God. Oh is that all!

Via Paul Fidalgo.

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



Go, and report child rape no more

May 29th, 2012 9:28 am | By

Good to see the Catholic church learning (however slowly) from its mistakes.

The Italian Bishop’s Conference (CIE) has issued guidelines on child  protection that inform its bishops that they are ‘not obliged to report illicit  facts’ of child abuse to the police.

In their new five page document which advised Italian Bishops on how to deal  with paedophilia they failed to focus on one of the most important and obvious  means of combating the crime – informing police authorities.

Instead the document read: “Under Italian law, the bishop, given that he  holds no public office nor is he a public servant, is not obliged to report  illicit facts of the type covered by this document to the relevant state  judicial authorities.”

Not learning from their mistakes after all, then.

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



The Taliban comes to Foggy Bottom

May 28th, 2012 5:39 pm | By

Is sexual harassment a thing? Is it just a fantasy of whack-job feminists (who of course are all way too ugly to be sexually harassed)? What about the military, for example? Lots of discipline there; probably there’s no sexual harassment in among all that discipline, right?

Well, one third of women in the military reported being sexually harassed in 2008. That seems like a thing. Maybe they were all whack-job feminists, but given the bad press feminism gets, I kind of doubt it.

The ACLU considers it a thing.

While it is estimated that over 19,000 sexual assaults occurred in the military in 2010, a rate far higher than among civilians, the government has failed systematically to investigate complaints, appropriately punish perpetrators, and treat trauma and other health conditions suffered by survivors. The profound personal and social consequences that arise from the government’s systemic failures are powerfully profiled in the new film, The Invisible War. Turning a blind eye to these crimes has allowed them to continue, imperiling the lives of victims and degrading their service.

Is it Talibanesque to think that’s a bad situation?

The US State Department has a sexual harassment policy. Is that Talibanesque? Should the State Department allow sexual harassment to go on its merry way, as one of our precious freedoms that we don’t want the Taliban to destroy?

You be the judge.

 

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



Bleaching away the autism

May 28th, 2012 5:02 pm | By

Annals of horror. “Recovering” children from autism by dosing them with MMS, “Miracle Mineral Solution” aka bleach.

Basically, MMS is 28% sodium chlorite in distilled water. In essence, MMS is equivalent to industrial strength bleach. Proponents recommend diluting MMS in either water or a food acid, such as lemon juice, which results in the formation of chlorine dioxide.

MMS is what got Rhys Morgan started on his anti-quackery career, when he encountered people online recommending it for Crohn’s disease.

David Gorski has learned that now people are recommending it for autism.

Autism One, whose organizers claim that their conference is “all about the science,” featured a talk by a woman whose preferred form of therapy, besides hyperbaric oxygen, is to subject autistic children to industrial bleach in the deluded belief that she can “recover” autism with it. Rivera runs a clinic in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico that she calls AutismO2 Clinica Hyperbarica. If her website is any indication, Rivera gives autistic children MMS by mouth and by enema. (Yes, she subjects autistic children to bleach enemas.)

Does it make them be not autistic? No.

This is also the second time that I’ve seen autism quacks subjecting autistic children to what is, in essence, potentially nasty industrial chemicals. A couple of years ago, disgraced chemistry professor and mercury warrior Boyd Haley pumped autistic children full of an industrial chelator, claiming it was a “supplement.” Ultimately, Haley drew the attention of the FDA, which shut him down. Now, we’re seeing quacks douse autistic children in bleach, pump their colons full of it, and feed it to them until they start to have fevers and diarrhea, believing that the diarrhea and fever are evidence that the bleach is working to reverse autism. The diarrhea and fever might well be working to do something, but reversing autism is not part of that something. Making children sick is.

Horror.

Thanks to Rhys for alerting me to this new annal.

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



One of these things is not like the other

May 28th, 2012 4:00 pm | By

Is a no harassment policy like the Taliban?

Let’s start a little farther back. Is feminism like Nazism?

No, feminism is not like Nazism.

Nazism tried to kill all the Jews in Europe. Feminism does not try to kill all the Jews in Europe.

Nazism killed gays, gypsies, people with disabilities, and political enemies.

Feminism doesn’t kill gays, gypsies, people with disabilities, or political enemies.

Nazism rounded up its enemies and put them in camps.

Feminism does not round up its enemies and put them in camps.

Feminism is not like Nazism. Rush Limbaugh is wrong.

Is a no harassment policy like the Taliban?

No, a no harassment policy is not like the Taliban.

The Taliban forcibly keeps girls out of school.

A no harassment policy does not forcibly keep girls out of school.

The Taliban blows up schools that teach girls.

A no harassment policy does not blow up schools that teach girls.

The Taliban throws acid in the faces of girls going to school. It shoots to death people it suspects of having sex outside marriage. It stones women to death. It beats women for not wearing a burqa, or for showing a little wrist or hair while wearing a burqa. It forbids women to work, get an education, drive, get medical treatment.

A no harassment policy does none of those things.

A no harassment policy is not like the Taliban.

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



I get options

May 28th, 2012 2:53 pm | By

I just took my temporary housemate, a black Lab named Cooper, to the beach for a good vigorous outing with the chuckit and tennis ball. We came back. I sat down at the desk, and he asked to go outside. I let him outside. He went around to the garden and then came back and sat outside the sliding screen door staring at me and making a low growly noise in his throat, as he does when he wants me to grasp that he wants something.

I got up to open the sliding screen door so that he could come in. He didn’t come in, but stood still staring up at me, with his roadkill toy* at his feet. I was supposed to join him in the garden for a game of ‘throw the toy.’ I pointed out that we had just played and I wasn’t going to play any more right now, and closed the screen door.

I sat down at the desk, he went around to the garden and then came back and sat outside the screen door staring at me and making a low growly noise in his throat. I got up, saying ‘Cooper you’re being a pest.’ I opened the sliding screen door so that he could come in. He didn’t come in, but stood still staring up at me, with his tennis ball at his feet. ‘You don’t want to play with roadkill; you want to play with ball?’

Cooper in outside the door mode

A flat plush squirrel with Xs for eyes and a tire tread across its middle

For Cooper as a puppy -

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



Which political ideals and which customs?

May 28th, 2012 10:34 am | By

I’m reading Martha Nussbaum’s new book The New Religious Intolerance, and finding it as exasperating as I expected.

For one thing, there’s what (or who) is not in the index. She puts much of the focus on Islam and what she uncritically calls “Islamophobia,” but who is missing from the index? Maryam. Irshad Manji. Kenan Malik. Taslima. Tarek Fatah. Deeyah.

She argues that “European nations tend to conceive of nationhood and national belonging in ethno-religious and cultural-linguistic terms” [p 94] and that that makes it hard for immigrants to be seen as belonging.

As we’ve seen, there is another option, realized in a wide range of nations around the world: to define national belonging in terms of political ideals, in which immigrants can fully share, despite not sharing the ethnicity, religion, or customs of the majority. [p 95]

That seems to me to be bordering on self-contradictory, unless you add further stipulations about religion and customs (which she does not do).

Look: some tenets of most religions are the opposite of the kinds of political ideals she has in mind (she didn’t suggest Nazi Germany as one example of that kind of nation, nor apartheid South Africa – she did suggest post-apartheid South Africa as one). She means political ideals like equality and universal rights. Well most religions include tenets that rule out equality and universal rights. So do many “customs.” How can it, then, be true that [all] immigrants can [without further ado] fully share in those ideals despite not sharing the customs of the majority?

It’s not that easy. She makes it sound easy, and it’s not easy. It’s not easy and it doesn’t always happen. The demographics of US immigration are handing the Catholic church ever more power; I’m not comfortable saying that, but it’s true. The “good” news is that home-grown religion is reactionary and sexist too, so what the hell, but that doesn’t mean Nussbaum should skate over the tensions quite so fast.

More later.

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



Sara Azmeh Rasmussen

May 27th, 2012 6:19 pm | By

Hey how about this – Melody tweeted a link to a story about two women honored in Norway

 for their outspokenness across cultural lines. Both have immigrant backgrounds, from Algeria and Syria…

Oh! thought I, I might know one of them, and hastily skimmed down the page, and sure enough!

Sara Azmeh Rasmussen, who immigrated to Norway from Syria in 1995, has been carrying on her efforts to promote tolerance, improve the rights of persons regardless of sexual identity and criticize Islam over what she views as its lack of tolerance and repression of women and homosexuals. Rasmussen has been a frequent participant in demonstrations and commentator in the media, not least in newspaper Aftenposten.

I know her. When I was in Stockholm I went to a meeting of a group of atheist-humanist feminists who focus on women’s rights: Christer Sturmark, Sara Larsson, and Ulrika Magnusson of Fritanke, who published Hatar Gud Kvinnor? and were my hosts, and Lena Andersson, Eduardo Grutzky, a couple of other people whose names I have somewhere but don’t remember at the moment – and Sara Azmeh Rasmussen! She’s very, very cool. Everybody there was.

That’s seriously exciting.

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



So you’re saying gay people are only born of other gay people?

May 27th, 2012 5:40 pm | By

Have you seen Stacy Pritchard talking to Anderson Cooper?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUXDKnL4xGE

Of course that was taken out of con – I mean yes, he said that, but of course he would never want that to be done. Of course people are going to take it and make it their own way and what they want to. But – ” more cheerfully – “I agree with what the sermon was, and what it was about.”

Orilly, says Anderson: he said the thing about keeping gays behind electric fences until they die out; how do you know he didn’t mean what he said?

She didn’t; it just seemed like the right thing to say to a fancy pants silver foxy smooth-talking hoity toity New York City libbrul tv guy…but not for long; she soon lapsed into frankness and agreed that that was exactly what should happen to gay people, because it is wrong.

Shudder. She scares me.

H/t Mano Singham.

 

 

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



The “ignore and it will go away” myth

May 27th, 2012 11:25 am | By

Indigo Jo takes a look at that myth via the report on sexual harassment in London.

The second [striking thing in a discussion on BBC London] was the suggestion (which I recall Simister saying the police had given to her after her assault) that women should “just ignore it”, which prompted me to write an email to the show (which Feltz read out), because the police have said the same thing to people suffering from the anti-social behaviour of local yobs and to people with disabilities who are being harassed by yobs or haters. It’s a fallacy particularly beloved of teachers as well, who will say the same to a child who complains of being teased in the playground (even if the “teasing” is not just verbal or if it is stopping them going about their business): “ignore it and it will go away”. The problem is that it just is not true: if you ignore a harasser who is trying to get a reaction, they will escalate their behaviour to physical intrusions and assaults, as has been noted to happen in the playground and the classroom and in cases of sexual harassment, until they get what they want. The only way of dealing with them is for them to be fought off, or for someone in authority to come between the persecutor and the victim.

It’s one of those platitudes like “the best antidote to bad ideas is better ideas.” That sounds good, but it’s not always true, and it’s obviously not always true. If that were true, bad ideas would never prevail, because better ideas would just always automatically trump them. Life isn’t like that. Same with the dreamily mistaken idea that if you ignore something nasty, it will [invariably] go away. Try that on a predator, for example.

The “ignore it and it goes away” myth is an example of the “just world” fallacy, in which people defend their belief in a “just world” by pretending that someone who is continually suffering must deserve it somehow. It also enables people to get out of taking responsibility for wrong they see happening. In this case, there is an “obvious answer” to the problem which the victim can easily make work for him- or herself by just ignoring the harassment for long enough, or to put it another way, just putting up with it. It gives the teacher or police officer an easy way of responding to a situation rather than tackle the difficult job of making the harassment stop, as is their duty, and blame the victim (and brand them a nuisance) if the behaviour continues.

The “just world” fallacy – I hadn’t heard that before, and it’s spot-on.

 Of course, the response may be appropriate when the complaint is just about a little bit of teasing, but there is a line between that and persistent harassment or physical assault of any kind…

Precisely. A little bit of teasing is not persistent harassment. Persistent harassment is not a little bit of teasing. It’s good to get these things clear.

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



Life on the streets

May 27th, 2012 10:17 am | By

Surprise shock revelation: there is sexual harassment in London.

The harrassment ranges from wolf-whistling and lewd comments to physical groping and sexual assault.

Campaigners say that reported cases represent “the tip of the iceberg” and that authorities can no longer afford to ignore the issue.

Research released today by the End Violence Against Women (EVAW) coalition shows 41 per cent of women under the age of 34 have been on the receiving end of sexual harassment in the street.

Blacklist! Witch hunt!! Innocent until proven guilty!!! Feminazis!!!!

Plus, you’re ugly!!!!!

The true extent of sexual harassment across Britain is difficult to judge. Campaigners say there is an acute shortage of academic studies looking into women’s experiences. But anecdotal evidence and the few studies that exist suggest unwanted sexual attention is frighteningly common. Fiona Elvines, from the Rape Crisis Centre, south London, is one of the few academics researching public sexual harassment for a PhD. “The issue has been trivialised for so long that is hasn’t been seen as a valid subject to study,” she said. “But the effect it has is enormous, from everyday decisions women have to make to avoid such harassment – like pretending to talk on your phone – to longer term effects on how they view their bodies.”

Whiners! Victims!! Waaaaaaa!!! Sluts!!!! Bitches!!!!!

Sexual harassment victims speak out

Lisa, Bath

“It seems quite minor, but for me it really summed up how some men are such knobs sometimes. I was walking across [town]. A guy shouted ‘hello’ at me, I ignored him and carried on walking. He then shouted ‘what, not good enough for you? It really angered me that he turned his douchebaggery round on me. Suddenly, in his mind, he’s not an ass for shouting at me, it’s that I’m a bitch because I ignored him. So typical.”

Smile, you bitch!

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



Sharia for Timbuktu

May 27th, 2012 9:43 am | By

More bad news – two warring rebel groups in northern Mali have decided to resolve their differences by…turning northern Mali into an Islamist state. Yeah, that’s the way to do it!

Two rebel groups that seized northern Mali two months ago have agreed to merge and turn their territory into an Islamist state, both sides say.

The Tuareg MNLA, a secular rebel group, and the Islamist group Ansar Dine signed the deal in the town of Gao, spokespeople said.

Ansar Dine, which has ties to al-Qaeda, has already begun to impose Sharia, or Islamic law, in towns such as Timbuktu.

Creep creep creep, Islamism expands its stranglehold week by week.

 

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



Publishing the norms

May 27th, 2012 8:53 am | By

For a comic interlude (with uncomic implications and underpinnings, but never mind that for now) – the Vatican goes public with its formerly sekrit and super-technical Roolz for authenticating authentic sightings (or apparitions, as it helpfully calls them) of “the Virgin” Mary.

The “Norms Regarding the Manner of Proceeding in the Discernment of Presumed Apparitions or Revelations” have been in use since 1978, but until now had been available only in Latin, never officially published and only circulated among bishops and specialists.

Ya specialists, who have had like years and years of specialist training in how to tell the real apparitions from the fake ones.

The Vatican document has now been translated into English and other languages to aid bishops in the “difficult task of discerning presumed apparitions, revelations, messages or … extraordinary phenomena of presumed supernatural origin,” Cardinal William Levada, the head of the Vatican doctrinal office, wrote in a companion letter last December that was published only recently on the Vatican website.

Kind of mean not to help the poor bishops until now. Poor guys, sitting in their studies, taking a break from excommunicating nuns who fail to prevent abortions to save the life of the pregnant woman and telling secular legislators what to do  – taking a break, I say, to sift through the stack of tortillas and pieces of toast and open jars of Marmite on their desks to figure out which twin has the Toni, and not having a Vatican document in their own language to assist. It’s sad.

The norms mandate that the local bishop must conduct a “serious investigation” to ascertain, with “at least great probability,” whether the Marian apparition effectively took place.

The rules also require an evaluation of the “personal qualities” of the alleged seer, including his or her “psychological equilibrium,” “rectitude of moral life” and “docility towards Ecclesiastical Authority.” The contents of the “revelation” must be “immune” from theological error, and the apparition must bear “abundant… spiritual fruit,” such as conversions.

The contents of the revelation must be immune from theological error? How do they arrange for that to be the case? Show your work.

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



I’m suddenly a fan of Lady Gaga

May 27th, 2012 8:15 am | By

Lady Gaga has canceled a concert in Indonesia after religious bullies (Islamist chapter) threatened violence against her.

 Islamic hardliners rally against the Lady Gaga concert in Jakarta. 25 May

Attaboiz – you do that – get together in a big bunch and threaten a woman for performing, and express a wish that she be tortured for eternity. Sucks to be you.

Police in Indonesia had refused to issue a permit for the US pop star after Islamic groups objected to her show, claiming it was too vulgar.

The hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) had threatened to try to stop Lady Gaga getting off the plane.

Islamists 1, secularism 0.

The Islamist FPI had threatened violence if the concert went ahead, calling Lady Gaga a “devil’s messenger” who wears only a “bra and [underpants]“.

Habib Salim Alatas, the group’s FPI Jakarta chairman, said the cancellation was “good news” for Indonesia’s Muslims.

“FPI is grateful that she has decided not to come. Indonesians will be protected from sin brought about by this Mother Monster, the destroyer of morals,” he told AFP news agency.

He added: “Lady Gaga fans, stop complaining. Repent and stop worshipping the devil. Do you want your lives taken away by God as infidels?”

Because he knows that’s going to happen.  Habib Salim Alatas, stop complaining. Repent and stop worshipping a bigoted puritanical misogynist shit. Do you want your life taken away by god as a bullying asshole?

Indonesia’s conservative Religious Affairs Minister, Suryadharma Ali, also welcomed the cancellation.

“I strongly believe this cancellation will benefit the country,” he said.

“Indonesians need entertainment and art which have moral values.”

This is not the first time that Lady Gaga has faced objections during her Asian tour.

Her concert in South Korea in April was made an adults-only event following protests from Christian groups.

Protests also took place in the Philippines, with Christian groups accusing her of being blasphemous.

Comrades!

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



‘Cause baby look at you now

May 26th, 2012 4:52 pm | By

Justin gets trash-talk too; he gets a Christian guy calling his infant daughter “ugly.”

Isn’t that nice? Isn’t that just how people ought to be to each other?

Fortunately she could pose for a dictionary definition of “adorable,” but the ugliness of saying things like that remains unchanged.

I don’t get this at all. I’m probably sheltered, or clueless, or something, but I don’t. I say very harsh things about the pope, and various atheist-bashers, and theocrats – but even then I don’t taunt them for being ugly or fat or old or bald or short or any other physical thing. I don’t. And I don’t understand the mentality of people who do – apart from psychopaths, that is. I don’t understand non-psychopathic people who (by definition) have some conscience and some empathy and still talk that kind of shit about people.

Ah well. You’re a beautiful baby, Zoe Griffith.

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



Note for anyone thinking of going to Rothamsted tomorrow

May 26th, 2012 3:02 pm | By

Guest post via Bernard Hurley

I have just received the following email from London Skeptics in the Pub. It might be of interest to anyone thinking of going to Rothamsted tomorrow:

====================================================

Dear Bernard Hurley

Just a quick note for folks who are thinking of, or are attending the counter protest against the needless vandalism of publicly funded research being conducted at Rothamsted Park tomorrow in Harpenden.

Mark Henderson has put his chapter on GM in The Geek Manifesto online, if you’d like some further reading: http://geekmanifesto.wordpress.com/2012/05/24/the-geek-manifesto-on-gm-crops/

It looks like it’ll be a nice sunny day for a protest, or failing that, a picnic.

Please remember that this is a PEACEFUL protest, and Rothamsted would prefer no protests – for or against ( http://www.senseaboutscience.org/pages/rothamsted-letter-to-signatories.html ) – taking place tomorrow.

Jules, from Geek in the Gambia has written a blogpost on directions and guidlines for the counter-protest and directions to the site here: http://geekinthegambia.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/guidelines-for-protest-in-rothamsted.html

Transport: National Rail from Bedford to Brighton (there are some engineering works from certain stations on Sunday, so please check before travelling). For those of you in London, trains depart from London St Pancras. Trains are every half-hour and take about 30mins to get there. Return ticket will cost £12.70 Timetable: http://ojp.nationalrail.co.uk/service/timesandfares/London/HPD/tomorrow/0930/dep/tomorrow/1130/dep

If you’re wondering who to look out/gravitate towards, The Pod Delusion will be there; So look out for James O’Malley and Liz Lutgendorff. Dr Evan Harris will be there, along with a band of trusty scientists.

As always, take some sensible shoes, a hat, some sunblock, drink plenty of liquids and remember to dispose of your litter sensibly. We’re no ruffians.

Best,

Sid P.S. I’ll be at Conway Hall for CaSE Director Imran Khan’s lecture, but hope to join you all after we’re done. Details of future meetings can be found on http://london.skepticsinthepub.org

You can also find us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/London-United-Kingdom/London-Skeptics-in-the-Pub/13256221934

And follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/SITP

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



Banned as it contradicted the Quran and Hadith

May 26th, 2012 10:52 am | By

More squalid airless stupidity from Malaysia: banning Irshad Manji’s book and confiscating copies from bookstores.

The Home Ministry has banned  the controversial book by liberal Muslim  activist Irshad Manji as it could cause confusion among Muslims.

In a statement yesterday, Deputy Home Minister Datuk Abu Seman Yusop said  the book Allah, Liberty and Love and its translated version Allah, Kebebasan dan  Cinta was banned as it contradicted the Quran and Hadith.

The fact that a book “could cause confusion” is an imbecilic reason to ban it. The fact that it could cause confusion among a particular brand of theists is even more so. The fact that it contradicts the Quran and Hadith is an appalling reason to ban it. It represents obedience to arbitrary rules and demands written down many centuries ago in the guise of Roolz from Godd; not being allowed to contradict something so absurd at this late date is pathetic, tragic, horrible.

He said the decision was made following a report by the Islamic Religious  Development Department (Jakim).

“Based on the report, it says that the book promotes mixed marriages between  Muslims and non-Muslims. This could lead to pluralism.

“It also contains insulting elements towards the prophet, which were  described in such a way that could pollute the sanctity of Islam.”

The deputy minister also said that the book defended secularism by confusing  the Islamic faith.

Worse and worse and worse. Religious xenophobia and anti-pluralism; brainless worship of a long dead man; brainless worries about pollution and sanctity (cue Jonathan Haidt explaining why it’s not brainless at all, only different); anti-secularism and dogma preferred to putative “confusion” (which clearly means just dissent).

“The book also says the five fardhu prayers can be done in various movements  and languages more than five times a day. This statement may confuse the  public.”

He said the ban was made according to Section 7(1) of the Printing Presses  and Publication Act 1984 as its content could cause disturbance to the  public.

In a related development, Jawi enforcement division senior principal  assistant director Wan Jaafar Wan Ahmad said they would monitor book stores to  prevent them from distributing the books.

I’m embarrassed to be a human being.

And then there are the foul comments underneath the article…

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



Alternative therapy for farm animals

May 26th, 2012 9:47 am | By

This is not from the Onion. Repeat, this is not from the Onion.

With an agriculture degree from the Royal Agriculture College, Cirencester, and a qualification in homeopathy, it was only natural that Christine Lees of Homeopathy at Wellie Level should turn her attention to alternative therapy for farm animals.

To…what?

Alternative therapy for farm animals?

Um…why?

Well, because of the delusion that it’s better, I suppose, but why – oh never mind, no doubt it’s all explained if we just read the article.

“I had already done part of a homeopathy course before I went to Cirencester,” she says. “And I liked cows. So I put the two together for my dissertation: The role of homeopathy in the treatment of farm animals.”

During that time she says she talked with farmers and vets who were using homeopathy but not really knowing what they were doing. “There was very little support to go with it.”

Oh the farmers and vets were using homeopathy but they didn’t really know what they were doing! Whereas experts on the other hand do know what they’re doing.

Really? How? What is there to know? What is there to not know? What do the farmers and vets do wrong as a result of not knowing what they’re doing? What’s the difference between homeopathy done right and homeopathy done wrong?

“We agreed every course needed to be taught by a vet who was a qualified homeopath along with a second homeopath. I ran the syllabus,” she confirms.

“We felt three days was the maximum we could expect farmers to take off and the minimum we could give to the farmer given the size of this huge subject.”

It’s a huge subject, but in a pinch it can be taught in three days.

The courses are carefully planned. Day one is based around an introduction to homeopathy including key sessions on “the eight principles of homeopathy and the “big six” remedies,” plus on-farm practical animal observation.

Day two looks at treating acute cases with day three building on the first two days, and focusing on chronic illness.

Ooh, that is careful. I’m impressed. One day for acute illness, one day for chronic illness. Zip, all done!

Hitherto, Mrs Lees has run the course as a non-for-profit business. “I only run courses when I have enough people to pay for the teachers. We do some advertising and when I have profit it’s ploughed back into advertising. Our rationale is not to make a huge amount of money but to help people use homeopathy properly.”

Support for her initiative has come from various sources including the Prince of Wales who donated £5000 at the start. “That went towards the marketing,” she says.

Fabulous. The prince of Wales is giving them money to persuade more people to learn magic ways of treating animal illness. Abs’ly brilliant.

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



Keep the harlots occupied

May 25th, 2012 6:10 pm | By

Oh good god – what a clusterfuck it is when reactionaries co-opt the jargon of liberation to decorate the chains.

A new Islamic tv station is launching in the Middle East, an all woman station. Progressive, huh?

Its pilot broadcasts will start towards the end of this month, where all the staff including the broadcasters will be veiled women. No men or non-veiled women will be employed says Sheikha Safaa , the manager of the channel.

Oh. Not so progressive then. Kind of brazenly discriminatory, actually.

[Safaa] has made it quite clear that the objectives of launching this channel is to offer veiled women the chance to appear on the screens and to empower other veiled women by activating their roles. She claims veiled women suffer marginalization.

They will empower other veiled women! Kind of like the way Michelle Duggar empowers other Quiverfull women, and those four women married to the one guy empower other Fundamentalist LDS women. Solidarity, sistas! Good luck with activating their roles – whatever that means. Reminding them that only whores don’t wear hijabs, probably. You go, girl!

“The affairs of the channel will be handled by the sisters who will be running the television channel, since women are more qualified to address and talk about their own needs”. She added Sheikh Abu Islam Ahmed Mohammed Abdullah, the owner of the “Al Ummah” channel and the new “Maria” Channel, said in a statement that “God willing, the channel will employ Muslim women graduates of various departments of media collages and institutions. This project aims at protecting women from temptations by finding them suitable work opportunities .”

Oh that’s kind. Women are such feeble-minded sluts, you know, that it’s pretty much impossible for them to resist temptations. They keep flinging themselves down in the street and spreading their legs in a hopeful kind of way, because they just can’t help it. It’s super-nice of Sheikh Abu Islam Ahmed Mohammed Abdullah to make up some pretend jobs for a few of them so that they’ll be too busy to fall down and spread their legs. It’s hugely empowering, too, that reason for giving people jobs. “Here, honey, this will keep you busy so that you don’t run around grabbing every penis you can reach.”

Abu Islam confirmed that the pilot will start with a broadcast of 6 hours through ‘Al Ummah’ channel, until the time of actual broadcast. He also made it clear that this channel will not host guests who are men or unveiled women, but telephone interventions from both will be permitted.

Makes sense. Spread your legs all you want, but it won’t do you any good over the telephone, so interviews with men (with penises!!) and unveiled women (who wear their vaginas on their heads!!) will be safe.

Allah is wise, merciful.

 

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



It’s not all about you

May 25th, 2012 10:44 am | By

Department of Bad Ideas: the idea that vaccination is “a personal decision.” Vaccination is a personal decision the way texting while driving is a personal decision. That is, it’s not.

And it’s exponentially less so when the non-vaxxer is somewhat famous, and has published a book that includes her views on non-vaxxing, and talks about non-vaxxing on NPR’s Science Friday.

In certain circles, especially in the [Attachment Parenting] community, there’s huge pressure to reject or at least delay vaccines. (While a delay is better than not doing it at all, it’s still dangerous.) You then show by your personal meddling with the schedule that you care, that you’ve paid attention and done research. Hey, we haven’t all gotten degrees in epidemiology and studied the schedule, but we can all scowl at it skeptically, right? Following the recommendations of the scientists who research this stuff for a living is for sheep. They must all somehow be in the thrall of large pharmaceutical corporations. Or so the thinking goes.

It’s time for a little social pressure of our own. It’s time for us to tell Mayim to take this one back. Stop being responsible for the measles or pertussis revivals. Once you blog about it and talk about it on interviews, like the one you did recently for Science Friday, you’re no longer just influencing your friends. It’s no longer a private, personal decision. You’re influencing everyone within earshot. Stop being a disease vector. Stop pretending like the only person affected by your decisions is you. Start acting like the role model you aspire to be.

But Mayim Bialik – Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory, which is why I know who she is – is firm that it is indeed personal. I find that kind of imperturbable selfishness deeply irritating.

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