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.


Suck out that moisture

May 25th, 2012 9:11 am | By

How about the Zimbabwean senator from the Movement for Democratic Change who thinks the way to prevent AIDS is to vacuum all the disgusting goo out of women?

He also thinks they should stop taking showers so that they’ll be too smelly to fuck, and shave their heads so that they’ll be too bald ditto, but the disgusting goo idea is more sciency than that.

He also gave an interview in which he stated that “Women have got more moisture in their organs as compared to men so there is need to research on how to deal with that moisture because it is conducive for bacteria breeding. There should be a way to suck out that moisture.”

Yes indeedy.  There should be a way to suck it out, and a way to make it mandatory for women to have it sucked out. Sounds kind of rapey, but think  of the upside – for the first time in human history, women who aren’t all slimy and disgusting. Booyah.

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



Pro-life arson

May 25th, 2012 7:51 am | By

Good old “we are pro-life so we try to kill women to show how pro-life we are.”

Investigators are still trying to determine what caused a fire at an obstetrics and gynecology clinic — the second suspicious fire at a Georgia reproductive clinic this week. No one was injured in the Wednesday morning fire that started on the third floor of the Cobb County clinic, which anti-abortion advocates regularly protest, according to local news reports. Employees told a local TV station they saw “suspicious activity” before the fire:

Clinic workers believe the fire started on the third floor. They said two unknown men went upstairs and left shortly afterward, minutes before the fire was discovered.

“We have patients here. They’re under anesthesia. This could have been life-threatening,” employee Angela Buckner told Channel 2’s Ross Cavitt.

That’s unpossible, because pro-life people are pro-life.

 

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



You are not the boss of me

May 25th, 2012 7:41 am | By

Ah-ha. Saudi woman in shopping mall is told to leave by some thugs. She tells them off.

Yes do more of that please!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpUUOYRLW3k

H/t Tarek Fatah.

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



From Sile Lane, about Rothamsted this Sunday

May 24th, 2012 5:23 pm | By

A message from Sile Lane (Sense About Science):

Many of you have asked how you can personally show your support for the GM wheat scientists at Rothamsted Research who face the destruction of their trial site by Take the Flour Back this Sunday. The team of scientists will be at Rothamsted Park, Harpenden AL5 2EF to answer questions from 11.30 on the day, where the protesters are apparently planning to gather. This is where you can show your support, but please do NOT attempt to go to join the anti-GM activists in moving to the trial site itself, for obvious reasons.

It is regrettable that the Green Party’s Jenny Jones has confirmed that she will be there to support direct action against publicly-funded research, particularly given that the wheat trial is expressly aimed at reducing the use of broad-spectrum insecticides which can damage farmland biodiversity.

Meanwhile, hundreds of you responded to the call to email Take the Flour Back with your request that they should call the protest off. To date no response has been received, so we can only assume that the attempt at a “mass decontamination” that the group has proposed will go ahead as planned.

Best wishes,

Síle Lane

 

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



Avicenna says

May 24th, 2012 5:16 pm | By

UK blogger Avicenna writes about the murder of Shafilea Iftikhar Ahmed.

It is alleged that on September the 11th, 2003. Shafilea was picked up from her part time call centre job, driven home where an argument broke out.

At some point in this scenario, her mother pushed her onto the sofa and ordered her husband to “Finish it Now”. Farzana and Iftikhar Ahmed were then alleged to have held her down, forced a plastic bag into her mouth and covered her airways till she suffocated. Shafilea fought to live, struggling against this assault. Her father had his weight over her chest. Alesha described her final moments as a struggle to breathe with her eyes bulging in strain for a single breath of air and wetting herself as the life was choked from her. After she died her father struck her a single hard blow to the chest before getting up.

This was done in front of her four siblings. She was allegedly executed in such a fashion for bringing dishonour to the family. By not conforming to her parents “Pakistani Villager” ideals of what a girl should behave like. If this scenario did happen, then this was a calculated plan by parents to murder their child. What drove her parents to do this was a lot of things but on that day it was because Shafilea went out wearing a white t-shirt and trousers. She was allegedly killed because of the clothes she wore.

It’s culture, Avicenna says. Criticism of a culture is not racism, Avicenna says. (Avicenna is “Asian” aka Indian.)

Shafilea was killed by her parents because they belonged to a rural islamic culture which placed an inordinate amount of value on “familial honour” and treated women as property or livestock. Her tribal culture played a part due to the idea of honour. Islam played a part as it doesn’t treat women as anything but a set of reproductive organs. Our culture played a part because it is unwilling to criticise real things that need criticism.

Shafilea to her parents was nothing more than a brood cow that wouldn’t birth. It is wrong, it is not cultural imperialism to point it out. It is common sense. It is like a MRA suggesting that women are all bitches or cunts. It is like the Stormfront suggesting that all black people are superhuman crime and rap machines. It is empirically a bad viewpoint and we are not racist for calling them out on it and actively seeking to destroy that bit of culture.

It’s a bad viewpoint based on othering and dehumanizing, contempt and hatred.

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



How to make baseless accusations become true via repetition

May 24th, 2012 11:54 am | By

And another item. “Gender traitor.” People have been milking that pair of words for going on a year now. It’s a meme, a thing, a Masonic handshake, which rests on the idea that it’s a favorite pejorative used by the non-ERV faction of The Great Rift. ERVite “Commander Tuvok” for instance on Greta’s thread:

People all over FTB used “gender traitor” for that very same definition. [That is: "Sister-punisher: A woman who turns on other women to gain favor of sexist men."]

Did they? That sounded wrong to me, but I didn’t look it up. Jen looked it up.

People all over FTB used “gender traitor” for that very same definition.

I just did some research. You see, it was really difficult, but that’s why I’m getting my PhD. I had to scroll to the top of the FtB main page, type in “gender traitor” to the search box, and then count the number of posts that came up. Two! Two whole posts!

But wait. I clicked the posts, and do you know the context “gender traitor” was brought up in? Quoting people from the slimepit! Shocking how not a single blogger has ever actually described someone using the term gender traitor. I must have missed something.

Two whole posts – for “all over FTB.” Interesting.

I wonder if the meme will be retired now. I won’t be holding my breath.

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



Deep rifts!

May 24th, 2012 11:19 am | By

So, as I mentioned, Stephanie did those two posts on sexual harassment among teh atheists and what to do about it, and others did related posts, some of which I linked to yesterday, and then naturally Abbie Smith and her pals responded that THEY ARE ALL TOO UGLY TO BE HARASSED SO HA, and Jen hinted that there’s something just a little childish about that approach. (Still with me? And this isn’t even all of it, I assure you.) Now PZ has a post saying he won’t be accepting any invitations to conferences where Abbie Smith is also speaking.

The latest uproar from the misogynist mob is over a rumor that there is a secret list of people who won’t get invited to conferences. There is no list. There are petty people who think calling someone ugly is reasonable behavior, people who have not yet grown out of junior high school. There are personal preferences, as well.

For instance, I will not participate in any conference in which Abbie Smith is a speaker. If I’m invited, and later discover that she is also invited, I will politely turn down the offer.

Why? Well, “adamgordon” dug up one example of why, quoting Abbie Smith commenting on her own blog in comment #14:

Im not working full days this week because Ive got a bad cold (*sigh* virologist infected with a virus). How is Jen reading blog comments/writing posts/etc in the middle of a work day? Weird…

I guess when youre young and pretty like her, you dont have to work as hard as other scientists.

http://scienceblogs.com/erv/2011/11/26/periodic-table-of-swearing/comment-page-50/#comment-42913

That’s why, along with many more of the same quality.

Jen was awarded a NSF grant fellowship about a month ago, you know. Those aren’t easy to get, to put it mildly. I’m not completely sure she needs Abbie Smith’s advice on how to do better.

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



Why is Google Blogger still giving Greek Nazis a platform?

May 23rd, 2012 4:54 pm | By

A guest post by “Inglourious Basterd”

I was fortunate to grow up in Athens, Greece to a middle class family before moving to the US a few years ago. Sadly, Greece has been getting a lot of attention in the news for the last two years. It was the first domino to fall in the still unresolved European debt crisis that saw the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the IMF – collectively called the “Troika” – negotiate two rounds of emergency loans in exchange for tax hikes and spending cuts (mostly cutting salaries and laying off workers) at a time of already deepening recession that started in 2008. These austerity measures are so harsh that German Chancellor Angela Merkel was reported to have said about them before they took effect: “We want to make sure nobody else will want this”. The results are predictable: decreases in GDP, rising unemployment above 20% including half of all young people, rises in suicides, homelessnes, and violent crime.

The communists and far left political parties have achieved record polling numbers with populist rhetoric as working people abandon the two centrist political parties that supported the latest round of austerity measures and seek to take a harder line against the Troika while still largely supporting EU and Euro membership.

At the same time, the number of immigrants from other poverty and war stricken countries like Albania, Pakistan, and Afghanistan has been rising due in no small part to a broken EU refugee policy referred to as the Dublin regulation that dictates that asylum claims are to be processed in the EU state of arrival. According to Human Rights Watch “With more than three-quarters of migrants who enter the EU irregularly by land coming across the Greek border from Turkey, the Dublin regulation means that an EU country ill-equipped to assess asylum claims or to treat migrants humanely has to manage a disproportionate number of arrivals.” This means that hundreds of thousands of poor immigrants with are left to fend for themselves either in horrible detention conditions or in legal limbo.

A mass media landscape dominated by entrenched business interests that have profited immensely from the status quo is not keen on people questioning EU calls for further privatization and weakening of collective bargaining rules. Instead, viewers are inundated with sensational allegations of rampant crime by immigrants and constant scare-mongering about food and medicine shortages unless the Troika demands are not immediately met.

How this translates politically and socially has also been predictable. Violent organized racist attacks against immigrants – once unheard of – have now become a terrible reality in many working class neighborhoods. What was once a marginal fringe party called “Golden Dawn” went from .3% in the 2009 elections to almost 7% in 2012, more than enough to get representation in parliament for the first time.

In addition to holocaust denial, requiring journalists to stand in deference at their press conference, breaking up book presentations, a logo resembling a swastika, and a Nazi-like salute, Golden Dawn also made thinly veiled anonymous threat of violence against journalist Xenia Kounalaki last April on their WordPress blog. WordPress was notified and promptly took it down, however they still maintain many local blogs on Google’s Blogger platform despite Google’s terms of service having explicit prohibitions against hate speech and threats of violence.

Google has a staff in Greece. I find it hard to believe that they are unaware of the presence of this dangerous group on their service. Nonetheless, they must be banished from Blogger. Google cannot continue to provide a platform to this dangerous group in perpetuity. Despite repeated terms of service violations, the blogs are still there. The time has come for public pressure. With new elections in Greece on June 17, every day that goes by means more votes and more legitimization for Golden Dawn.

Please join me in signing this petition to tell Google’s Board of Directors to shut down the Golden Dawn blogs on their Blogger service.

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



Viewing parties

May 23rd, 2012 12:05 pm | By

More than 40,000 Haredi men filled a New York baseball stadium on Sunday to talk about Oh noes the internet.

Men. Not women. This isn’t like women just not showing up at wrestling matches because they’d rather do something else – it’s women not being allowed to attend. Not being allowed – as if they were children.

The organizers had allowed only men to buy tickets, in keeping with ultra-Orthodox tradition of separating the sexes. Viewing parties had been arranged in Orthodox neighborhoods of Brooklyn and New Jersey so that women could watch, too. 

Typical New York Times; typical mainstream media. That’s not “separating the sexes”; it’s banishing one sex. Separating the sexes would be having them in different parts of the stadium, with a big heavy cloth and some guards in between. That’s not what this was.

The rally in Citi Field on Sunday was sponsored by a rabbinical group, Ichud Hakehillos Letohar Hamachane, that is linked to a software company that sells Internet filtering software to Orthodox Jews. Those in attendance were handed fliers that advertised services like a “kosher GPS App” for iPhone and Android phones, which helps users locate synagogues and kosher restaurants.

Oh noes the non-kosher internet.

 

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



Phase 2

May 23rd, 2012 11:33 am | By

Ron says we need another Women in Secularism conference. Why do we? Well because not everything got said.

This conference was rich and varied in its content, but it seemed to me that it merely served as an introduction to the contributions, perspectives, and concerns of women. It was a prologue, establishing the agenda and background for a more thorough investigation and analysis of the relationship between secularism and feminism, but we need to follow through on that investigation and analysis. And then we need to follow that with concrete action, the specifics of which also need to be hammered out.

I like the idea of building on the first. Thinking about it caused me to have the idea of a book (a collection), which could also build on it, and look ahead to the next one.

 

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



What then is to be done?

May 23rd, 2012 10:26 am | By

So, what to do about sexual harassment? Well for a start, as Jen says, it helps to be aware of it.

I didn’t realize so many people were oblivious to these problems. I thought because I was so quickly brought into The Know, this had to be something everyone in the movement was aware of. But it wasn’t. After I made my comment, dozens of people kept asking me for the names on The List (which I didn’t give – see my previous points). I was independently approached by multiple big names at the conference who wanted to help and learn what they could do to make their conferences safer.

Stephanie Zvan has given an excellent suggestion: Our conferences need to start adopting anti-harassment policies with guidelines of how to handle harassment that are clearly known to everyone, including speakers.

And that’s happening already.

And her blog post is already having results. Groups are pledging to adopt this policy, including American Atheists and the Secular Student Alliance (which had an anti-harassment policy last year but will make it more prominent). I encourage you to ask other major atheist and secular organizations to adopt similar policies with a link to Stephanie’s post. Because an easy first step is to put pressure on organizations to address this problem. EDIT: Freethought Festival and the Minnesota Atheist Convention have also pledged to adopt a policy.

Only a few hours in. I’m impressed.

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



Sport is unWomanly

May 22nd, 2012 5:02 pm | By

Now here’s a huge surprise – Saudi Arabia isn’t “allowing” “its” women to participate in the Olympics. It has excellent reasons, of course.

Beans on toast are a powerful female aphrodisiac.

No, that’s not it. Rain makes Arab women go a funny greenish color.

No, Arab women are allergic to chips.

I’m being silly, I know this one – London streets are full of litter and coughed-up phlegm, so the women might slip and fall and get pregnant.

Wait. It’s high heels worn with jeans, that’s it – high heels worn with jeans are apostasy.

No actually it seems to be not about the UK at all, but about sports, and not to put too fine a point on it, any physical activity at all. Saudi women and girls are a kind of mushroom, raised in a dark corner of the basement.

Discrimination against women and girls in sports in Saudi Arabia – as in so many other areas of their lives – is entrenched in government policy, including:

·         Beginning from childhood, the government bans millions of Saudi girls from participating in physical education classes in state schools.

·         The kingdom discriminates against women by denying them access to sports facilities, including gyms and swimming pools.

·         The government has shut down private gyms established by women in recent years on the pretext that they were unlicensed.

·         There are no sports clubs for women, compared with 153 government-supported clubs for men.

·         The Saudi National Olympic Committee has no women’s section and does not hold sports competitions for women to allow them to qualify for national teams and international competitions.

See? Nothing. And it’s not as if they can go out running, is it. Fancy running in an abaya?

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



Under the rug

May 22nd, 2012 4:32 pm | By

Stephanie Zvan has a pair of great posts on…well I’ll let her tell you, in the first one:

It had its genesis on stage, when Jen McCreight mentioned that, when she started speaking at conferences, multiple people contacted her behind the scenes to tell her which male speakers she should steer clear of.

That.

Stephanie summarizes via a FAQ:

Q: Do famous atheist speakers really act like assholes to women?

A: Yes.

Q: Really?!

A: I said, “Yes.” I’ve experienced some of it, in front of witnesses. I’ve talked to other women who’ve experienced it personally. I’ve talked to conference organizers who have strategies for minimizing the damage when they have to invite one of these men to one of their conferences.

Also, did you just express “skepticism” over this? It’s a completely uncontroversial statement. Unaccetable gendered behavior exists. Our movement is not immune. Men don’t become immune to bad behavior just because people like how they speak or write or organize. Yes, it happens.

Unwanted sexual overtures, is what this is about. Lunging, grabbing, cornering, flashing, leering, following. Not ”romance”; not “flirtation”; sexual harrassment; hostile work environment.

And then there’s who are they. (I knew one name before the conference. I now know three.) We’re not in a position to say.

Q: Why aren’t you naming and shaming?

A: Until a year ago, this was harder to explain succinctly. Now, sadly, it’s much easier.

Did you see what happened to Rebecca Watson? Have you seen what’s still happening today? That’s why.

And Rebecca didn’t even name.

Q: How bad can these guys be if they keep getting invited to speak?

A: As bad as they’re allowed to be. As I already pointed out, you’ve probably seen the public behavior of some of these guys already. Has it kept them from getting audiences and invitations? Has it kept them from getting jobs? Has it kept them from being treated as the cool kids?

No. It has not.

Not only are these speakers still allowed to show up, but they’re still in demand. Conferences need to sell tickets and fill seats. When organizers stop inviting some of the people on this list, unless sexism is a primary concern for donors, unless experiences are allowed to be made public, organizers get overruled. If the speaker is a draw, there is a limited amount organizers can do.

That’s the part that really bites. “Oh hey, so he makes a few women miserable, big deal – he’s a name and we can get him, so he’s in.”

Stephanie got the comment she needed, so that’s the starting point for her second post. Read Erista’s comment. It’s a scorcher.

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



A moment

May 22nd, 2012 10:56 am | By

Brian Engler has a bunch of photos from the WiS conference at Facebook, and I want to share one I particularly like. I might share others, too – I have Brian’s permission.

I give you Jamila Bey and Debbie Goddard, courtesy of Brian D. Engler:

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



Unsafe

May 22nd, 2012 10:23 am | By

Why women need freedom from religion, item #3,985,431.

A Sudanese judge, Sami Ibrahim Shabo sentenced to death by stoning a young woman accused of committing adultery.

Intisar Sharif Abdalla, believed to be between 15 and 17 years of age (although prison authorities claim she is 20) was sentenced to death in accordance with Article 146 of the Sudanese criminal law albeit without legal representation.

The judgment was made on May 13, 2012 after just one hearing and came after an “admission of guilt” plea following torture and brutal beatings by Sharif’s brother who instigated the case. Her co-accused however remains un-convicted and walks freely.

She denied the accusation. But.

Her lawyer, only able to access her after the judgment was made, understands that following her initial denial she was beaten up and tortured repeatedly by her brother forcing her to confess to committing adultery. With the ‘coerced’ confession, Judge Sami Ibrahim Shabo of Ombada General Criminal Court, Khartoum state, sentenced her to stoning after just one court session.

Brilliant. Her brother tortured her into “confessing” that she had sex without being married, and the judge seized this torture-compelled “confession” to a non-crime and ruled that she should be stoned to death.

 

 

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



Talking to Anderson Coooooooooooper

May 21st, 2012 5:28 pm | By

60 Minutes had a segment on the death industry and oversight of cemeteries last night. Guess who was the official voice of the consumer who told Anderson Cooper (Anderson Cooper!!) what’s what.

Our friend Josh Slocum, that’s who.

Anderson said the industry says these unfortunate incidents in which bodies get dug up and thrown out so that people can re-sell their plots are just a few bad apples. “Oh nonsense,” says Josh very briskly indeed.

I wanted to embed it but it doesn’t work the way YouTube does so I don’t know how to do it. Click the link.

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



Squeeeeeeeee!

May 21st, 2012 4:58 pm | By

I’ve just learned that Leo Igwe is going to be at TAM this year.

Well so am I. I get to meet Leo!!

I’m jealous of myself right now.

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



The day after

May 21st, 2012 11:46 am | By

Paul Fidalgo reports on the conference for The Morning Heresy. (He’s another one of those people – like Rebecca – who are just consistently very funny. He did a tweet that cracked me up – approximately: “I could do a ‘this is what an atheist looks like’ ad but no one would be surprised.”)

Now that was a conference!

This was no egg-headed snoozer, this was no reiteration of why we like Darwin so much (not that there’s anything wrong with those). The Women in Secularism conference was as fantastic, fulfilling, and enlightening an event as we could ever have hoped.

I think that too. Also.

Susan Jacoby did the first talk. I didn’t liveblog that one because the panel I was on was next and I didn’t want to cross wires, if you see what I mean. I’m not good at multitasking. (Neither is anyone else. People think they are, but they’re wrong. Studies show this. People are confused because they can physically multitask, but they do the tasks badly. The fact that it’s physically possible to hold a book in front of your eyes while talking on the phone doesn’t mean you can read a book and talk on the phone at the same time. But that’s by the way.) I’m a plodder. I need to concentrate. I could listen to Jacoby’s talk without crossing wires, but liveblogging it too seemed a wire too many. Or maybe I was just being lazy.

Anyway: she said among other things that it has happened that when someone asks “why no women in atheism?” some men will cheerfully reply that it’s because women are too stupid.

Well, you know, that is what it is at bottom: that people think that. Too stupid and too Nice, which is perhaps the product of being too stupid.

That’s what I talked about for my opening remarks for the panel. The perception of women, and the fact that in some ways a certain kind of feminism – difference feminism – has enforced it rather than undermining it. We are seen as too stupid and too Nice (or, in an exciting twist, too bitchy) for pretty much everything. We must be, or we wouldn’t be so conspicuously missing from popular culture, and we wouldn’t be so staggeringly vapid when not missing.

This is not something it’s easy to change. I know this, because I know feminists have been trying to change it since at least 1970, and in some ways it’s worse than it was then.

Younger generation – your task is plain. Get to it. Thank you.

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



How to go a-flying

May 21st, 2012 10:18 am | By

Ways to be not a good polite considerate air traveler.

Take advantage of your aisle seat to extend your leg all the way out into the aisle and then wave your enormous dirty bare foot with its smashed toenails up and down up and down up and down.

Take advantage of your aisle seat to cross your right leg over your left knee so that your enormous dirty bare foot with its smashed toenails is almost in the lap of the politely restrained atheist woman in the other aisle seat, and then keep inching it closer and closer.

Put your enormous dirty bare foot with its smashed toenails on your knee and clean it out between the toes, carefully dropping whatever you find onto the aisle floor.

Put your enormous dirty bare foot with its smashed toenails back into its sandal for awhile and stick it out into the aisle in order to stamp it heavily at irregular intervals.

Seize your enormous dirty bare foot with its smashed toenails and weave your fingers into the toes as if you were holding hands with your own foot.

Do all these things without ceasing for 5 hours on a completely full flight.

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



“Take the Flour Back” has started the vandalism, intends more

May 21st, 2012 7:29 am | By

I am in receipt of a message from the researchers at Rothamstead via Sile Lane (Sense About Science). It’s urgent and it matters so I’ll just post the whole thing.

Dear Petition Signatory

A forwarded note from the GM wheat research team at Rothamsted:

Dear Signatory

Thank you very much indeed for all your support on this petition and kind emails since our appeal.

We have the bad news that yesterday an individual broke into the experimental site and caused substantial damage. However, the overall integrity of the experiment has not yet been compromised. This is even more reason why we are extremely worried that the Take the Flour Back group is continuing with plans for direct action to destroy our GM wheat experiment entirely next Sunday. It has now issued logistical instructions for doing this and a ‘legal briefing’ for activists.

The group says it wants to destroy the crop because of a ‘contamination’ risk through cross-pollination with other wheat in fields a long way away. Their reason for pulling it up on 27 May was that “wheat is wind-pollinated” and that this was the last weekend before pollination is likely to occur. They did not seem to realise when they booked this date that wheat is in fact self-pollinating, and that therefore almost no pollen leaves the plant, let alone the field. We have informed them of this misunderstanding, but to no avail. They have also refused our offer to debate the issues in public in front of an audience, saying they do not have the “capacity” to field a speaker.

In the thousands of signatories on the petition against destroying our research, there are many diverse voices, including farmers, environmentalists, people local to Rothamsted, researchers in other fields, writers, musicians and all walks of life. We know many of you want to do something to help, and may feel angry and powerless about this latest vandalism. However, in discussions with the authorities, we cannot have our supporters counter-protesting on the day as it would provoke the kind of conflict that we have been trying to avoid. The only way forward is through communication and verbal engagement.

Take the Flour Back don’t need to hear angry invective, but as a last ditch attempt at getting them to call off their action, we think they should understand why so many people oppose destroying the research. The only way we know of reaching them is at info@taketheflourback.org. Although they may not reply, they will be taking note of the strong support that we have received.

Best regards

Toby Bruce (Scientist specialising in plant-insect interactions, Team Leader)

Gia Aradottir (Insect Biology, Postdoc )

Huw Jones (Wheat Transformation, Coinvestigator)

Lesley Smart (Field Entomology)

Janet Martin (Field Entomology)

Johnathan Napier (Plant Science, Coinvestigator)

John Pickett (Chemical Ecology, Principal Investigator)

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