Notes and Comment Blog

There’s always the hanger

Nov 3rd, 2014 12:21 pm | By

New Brunswick (the one in Canada, not the one in New Jersey) has exceptionally harsh restrictions on abortion.

In 1994, the province banned abortions in clinics outside of hospitals. Federal rulings changed that in 1995, but people needing the procedure were forced to pay out of pocket.

Since then, the province’s Morgentaler Clinic saved many from unwanted pregnancies. But following its closure in July, the government’s restrictions on abortion are too tight to accommodate people’s needs. Newly sworn-in premier Brian Gallant has pledged to remove barriers to abortion in the province, but has not yet come through with anything in the way of solid action.

Sounds like Canada’s Texas.

Reproductive Justice NB tried to raise the money to save the clinic, but though they surpassed their first fundraising goal of $100,000, they couldn’t raise enough to keep it going. The group maintains that two harmful regulations need to be repealed immediately. The first is NB Regulation 84-20, Schedule 2 (a.1) of the Medical Services Payment Act, which stipulates that, for the procedure to be funded, two doctors must sign off that an abortion is “medically required.” It also stipulates that the procedure be performed in a hospital by an OB/GYN doctor, even though it could just as well be carried out by a general practitioner or nurse practitioner.

The other regulation, found in Section 2.01, prohibits abortion clinics like the Morgentaler Clinic from receiving government funding.

In other words, the tax money that funds health care in Canada, so women who use such clinics are made to pay twice.

Why would Canada want to have a Texas?

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

Glamorizing theocracy

Nov 3rd, 2014 11:18 am | By

The New Statesman has an unpleasant piece by Chris Allen that treats all anti-IS Muslims as co-opted if not worse.

First the background, via the BBC:

A fashion designer has created a ‘poppy hijab’ to commemorate the centenary of the first Muslim soldier being awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery.

Tabinda-Kauser Ishaq, a final year student at the University of Arts in London, also hopes the piece of clothing will give Muslim women a new way to mark Remembrance Day.

That would be a very dubious thing if the poppies were meant to commemorate, say, an imperialist massacre or a genocide. But you can remember and mourn the mass slaughter of World War I without endorsing that war itself.

“Most people don’t know how many Muslims fought for Britain a hundred years ago and it’s important that we join together and look back at the shared history we’ve got,” said Steve Ballinger from the integration think tank British Future, which helped Ms Ishaq design the hijab.

The group carried out a survey tracking people’s attitudes to the centenary of World War One and found only one in five Britons realised Muslims had fought for Britain – a lower level of awareness than that for the contribution of soldiers from other [religions].

British Muslims have a share in remembering and mourning the mass slaughter of WWI.

“Poppies are obviously the most prominent thing we associate with Remembrance Day and the hijab is something which is commonly associated with Muslims, so we married the two together to try and produce something which hopefully people see as positive,” said Ms Ishaq.

The 24-year-old, who herself wears a hijab, felt it was important to create a headscarf which Muslim women would want to wear in public.

The designer worked alongside Islamic groups to create an item which would appeal to British Muslims and combat negative perceptions about the religion in light of issues such as fundamentalism.

“It’s a way for ordinary Muslim citizens to take some attention away from extremists who seem to grab the headlines,” said Sughra Ahmed, president of the Islamic Society of Britain.

“This symbol of quiet remembrance is the face of everyday British Islam – not the angry minority who spout hatred and offend everyone.”

Not the angry minority who want to impose sharia and stone “adulterous” women and keep girls out of school. Not violent theocratic fascists, in short. Now Chris Allen’s take:

The hijab is being backed by the Islamic Society of Britain and think tank British Future to mark 100 years since the first Muslim soldier was awarded the Victoria Cross. Sughra Ahmed, president of the Islamic Society of Britain, seemed to suggest in a comment to the Mail that this hijab would help divert attention away from the “angry minority” who offend people with their views.

But there is more to the poppy hijab than either the Daily Mail or Ahmed would have us believe. As Nesrine Malik wrote in the Guardian in response to the Sun’s choice of front-page image, these re-appropriations of the hijab can be little more than proxies for anti-Muslim bigotry. They become a politically correct way of airing a suspicion that all Muslims are “basically terrorist sympathisers”. The wearing – or not wearing – of a patriotic hijab becomes a shrouded loyalty test.

Really? Why don’t they do the exact opposite of that? Why don’t they do what it says on the tin? Why would Tabinda-Kauser Ishaq and Sughra Ahmed want to air a suspicion that all Muslims are “basically terrorist sympathisers”? Why isn’t it much more likely that they’re doing what they purport to be doing: trying to point out and demonstrate that not all Muslims are violent theocratic fascists? Why treat them as identity-traitors or inauthentic for wanting to flag up Muslims who aren’t like that? Why talk over liberal Muslim women and claim that they don’t know what they’re doing?

This is not a new issue, even as it takes a new floral form. New Labour, for example, launched the now defunct National Muslim Women’s Advisory Group back in 2007. And ever since then, politicians – whose plans were often backed by various Muslim representatives and spokespeople – have endorsed the view that Muslim women are uniquely placed to influence and challenge the perverted ideology spread by extremists.

Employing the language of counter-insurgency throughout, the mantra that has emerged is one which depicts Muslim women as able to play – on behalf of the state – a crucial role in the winning of hearts and minds in the fight against extremism and radicalisation.

Talking about it in fuzz-language like “extremism and radicalisation” just obfuscates. It obscures the nature of the “extremism and radicalisation” that’s at issue, and makes it sound like youthful idealism. There is nothing good about Islamism. It’s a horrible, murderous ideology that wants to see women totally enslaved and LGBTQ people dead. Poppy hijabs and liberal groups led by women are infinitely better than that. It’s outrageous to imply otherwise.

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

Guest post: And then the gaslighting starts

Nov 2nd, 2014 6:34 pm | By

Originally a comment by nathanaelnerode on In which I surprise them.

I’m a solidly-built, six foot tall white male in my mid forties, and for at least two decades I have had absolutely NO idea what it’s like to be scared walking down a street.

Well, y’know, how shall I put this… I’m a thinly-built, 5 foot 2, “weak” looking, often “effeminate” looking male, and I have ALWAYS known what it’s like to be scared walking down a street.

I’ve been sexually harassed, I’ve been in a hostile environment, I’ve been physically assaulted. This is probably actually fairly common for boys who went through US schools, unfortunately. My threat assessment is turned WAAAAAY up, all the time; I have PTSD.

And nobody is running a special campaign to make me more comfortable, or to claim that “all men” are scary — if I find all men scary, uh, that’s my problem to get PTSD treatment for, and I will.

If I find men who are behaving in a creepy, inappropriate, impolite, and boundary-ignoring manner scary, on the other hand — which I totally do — that’s entirely another matter. They are scary.

Harassment needs to stop, and frankly it’s bloody obvious when someone is harrassing: harrassing means not taking no for an answer. Rude, selfish interruptions such as catcalls aren’t technically harassment individually (only in large numbers) but are equally inappropriate. Both are often indicators of someone who *might* turn out to be violent. Stalking and invasion of personal space is even worse and even more of an indicator.

Politely talking to people about contextually appropriate things obviously isn’t harassment. The way I was brought up, if you really want to talk to a stranger, you nearly always start with “excuse me”. (For instance, “excuse me, but I couldn’t help but notice your WHATEVER T-shirt; I’m a big fan of WHATEVER, and I don’t meet many fans of WHATEVER, are you a fan?”, or “excuse me, I hate to be a bother, but I have always wanted a hat like yours, where did you buy it”.) Then it’s their move conversationally. You stop. If they do nothing or don’t respond, you say “Sorry to bother you,” and leave. If they answer your question politely but brusquely, you say “Thanks,” then accept that they don’t want to talk any more, say “Sorry, I won’t take up any more of your time,” and leave. It’s still their move. If they then say “no, wait” and ask to talk to you, then you have a conversation.

If you’re looking for directions, you should be staring at your map and looking lost before saying “excuse me, I’m lost”…

I don’t know when I learned those rules for talking to strangers, but it was young — elementary school, perhaps. I have never had any problem with talking to strangers.

I guess a lot of older men were trained to be inappropriately and offensively pushy towards women on a routine basis. They need to learn not to do that; they’ll mostly probably be happier, on the whole. It just seems so bizarre to me, since I was brought up post-1970s in what I think of as a normal environment.

The other issue here is the men who are defending the idea of making inappropriate pushiness the norm, who really want it to be the norm, who get angry at the idea of obeying normal norms of polite behavior when women are involved — I suspect these men, who are so upset at the idea of behaving in an ordinary polite fashion, of being actual predators, who need a rape culture in order to hide their behavior.

Another little point: from what I can tell, assaulters and harassers really really like to gaslight the third-party witnesses (when there are any). The witnesses often start out with “Hey! Why did you do that to him/her, that’s awful!”, and then the gaslighting starts… “oh, you didn’t really see me just barge into her, really, I was further away, no you didn’t really see me rudely yell at her, I was politely talking to her…”

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

Artist isn’t quite the right word

Nov 2nd, 2014 5:56 pm | By

More video of Julian Blanc lecturing a room-full of young men on how to coerce women into having sex.

It’s nauseating to look at, because it’s so inhuman. It’s as if women are food and the men are all ravenously hungry. They just want to eat, that’s all. They don’t want to eat people, they just want food.

They just want to fuck something. For some unfathomable reason, the somethings all have these useless brains perched on top of the part that has the penis-holder, so you can’t just fuck them just like that – you have to “strike up a conversation” and “steer them to where you want to go” and “get them on the bed” and “take off their clothes” and have answers to anything they say.

I know this has been said a million times, but honestly – they think feminists devalue men? This shit is what devalues men. I don’t think most men are like this. I’d be embarrassed to be identified with this crap.


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

The gentleman visiting from Perth

Nov 2nd, 2014 5:34 pm | By

Brianne [note for Decker: another colleague] is in Melbourne for a month. Here’s her first blog post on arriving, written in the middle of the night at a hamburger place because jet lag.

Really though, this jet lag stuff has been the most fabulous thing in the world. I went to a busy noodle shop called Bar China at about 1:30am, and now I’ve landed at a Burger Jack’s… in downtown Melbourne… at bar close.

So far I’ve spoken with different groups of people about the names of American cities, gun politics, environmental extremism, gay marriage and gaming. I should mention that I haven’t had to start any of these conversations. Partying Melburnians who visit this Hungry Jack’s seem to be a friendly, chatty lot, and all I have to do to generate a conversation is to respond to a “hello” in my American accent, aaaaaand we’re off! Also, PAX-Australia apparently just ended and this gentleman – visiting from Perth for the convention – was kind enough to let me take a photo of him in his awesome t-shirt for the blog.

And guess what’s on the T shirt.

The t-shirt has a photo of a woman in a tight body suit with a weapon on her shoulder within the international no symbol. Underneath text reads Cosplay ≠ Consent

And that happened completely at random.

Makes me feel more optimistic.

Anyway, I look forward to following Brianne’s adventures. I love following people’s adventures in new places.

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

Women are going about their business

Nov 2nd, 2014 4:54 pm | By

A friend did some digging and found out who that guy in the “just grab her” video is. He’s PickUpArtist Julian Blanc. Tim Samuels went to Florida for the Daily Mail to listen to him talk. (Cool that his name is actually “White,” isn’t it, given his attitude to Japanese women.)

In a sweltering Miami afternoon, hundreds of guys are sitting in an airless hotel reception room taking notes, hanging on every utterance by the speaker.

They’ve paid up to $3000 to be here – to learn from the master himself.

On the podium at the front isn’t a religious guru. It isn’t a business leader imparting the secrets of getting rich. It’s a guy dressed in jeans and an unironed shirt – teaching men what should be the most natural thing of all: how to talk to women.

How to “talk to”? Come on.

How has it come to this, that men have to pay to learn how to meet women?

I sit through the lectures feeling a little smug and incredulous that guys are paying serious cash for a bit of confidence boosting and common sense.

But then we’re told that after lunch we’ve moving from the theory to the practical – chatting up total strangers on the street. The dread kicks in.

For a British bloke, the idea of walking up to a woman on the street, mid-afternoon, entirely sober and having to chat her up with the aim of getting her phone number is a living nightmare. Committing armed robbery or heading on holiday to northern Syria would be less terrifying.

Dude. That’s because it’s an asshole thing to do. It’s not appropriate – or considerate, or polite, or decent, or respectful of the needs of people who aren’t you – to accost strangers on the street with a view to fucking them. You shouldn’t be doing at all. That nightmare feeling? That’s because you know it’s not an ok thing to do.

Women are going about their business – catching up with friends over coffee, popping into shops, heading to fashion week events, and generally displaying no inclination to want to be bothered by men who are paying good money to learn how to bother them.

Exactly. So just leave them the fuck alone.

H/t Deanna.

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

She was there to watch a game

Nov 2nd, 2014 11:52 am | By

The BBC mentioned a petition to free Ghoncheh Ghavami, so here is that petition in case you want to sign it.

Since June 2014 my younger sister is in solitary confinement in Tehran. She was arrested for going to a men’s volleyball match.

Ghoncheh is a British Iranian dual citizen. She was there to watch a game. She was arrested because of a misunderstanding.

Amnesty International has called for an Urgent Action for my sister. Amnesty believes Ghoncheh has been put under psychological pressure and been told she “would not walk out of prison alive.” 

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has said it was “aware of reports” of her imprisonment but its diplomatic powers are limited in Iran. We know that the UK Government has the power to do more to help Ghoncheh. Past cases have shown us that when pressure is applied Government will take more action.

Every signature and share will bring my sister closer to home. Will you help end this nightmare for my family?

I’m a distressed brother who is fighting to bring her sister home. My sister is a law student in University of London. She should not have been arrested in the first place and does not deserve to be in solitary.

Amnesty International has said that “Ghoncheh’s lawyer has not been allowed to meet in prison or even access her case file.”

Ghoncheh was in Iran for a few months to work for a charity teaching literacy to street children and see our family. She thought women would be allowed to attend World League volleyball matches after Iran was warned about the matter by International Federation of Volleyball (FIVB).

Her arrest is a truly tragic misunderstanding. Will you help bring her home?

Iman Ghavami has added updates to the petition several times, so it serves as a diary of the course of his sister’s detainment, hunger strike, and trial.

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

No sluts at volleyball games

Nov 2nd, 2014 11:40 am | By

Iran has sentence a woman to a year in prison for going to a volleyball game.

A British-Iranian woman detained in Iran after trying to watch a men’s volleyball match has been sentenced to a year in prison, her lawyer says.

Ghoncheh Ghavami, 25, was found guilty of spreading anti-regime propaganda, lawyer Alizadeh Tabatabaie said.

Iran banned women from volleyball games in 2012, extending a long-standing ban on football matches.

Doing it one item at a time are they? Football matches, volleyball matches – movies, grocery stores, bus stations, schools, hospitals – until presto all the items are checked and women can’t set foot outside.

Amnesty International has described Ms Ghavami, who is from Shepherd’s Bush in west London, as a prisoner of conscience, and called for her immediate release. More than 700,000 people have signed an online petition urging the authorities to free her.

The graduate of the University of London’s School of African and Oriental Studies was part of a group of women who tried to watch Iran play Italy in a match on 20 June.

The women were arrested and allegedly beaten before being freed.

Ms Ghavami was rearrested later and subsequently put on trial. She launched a hunger strike in October after being held in isolation cells.

She’s doing it wrong. She’s supposed to submit.

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

Dude, just grab her

Nov 2nd, 2014 10:52 am | By

Wow, a lecture on how to rape women in Japan. “If you’re a white male, you can do what you want.”


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

A kind of “conqueror” of feminist women

Nov 2nd, 2014 10:23 am | By

Kiran Opal has a post on the Jian Ghomeshi Saga, and the ‘Conquest’ of Feminism. She discusses the massive obstacles to reporting sexual assault and the consequent rarity of official reporting.

In most high profile sexual assault and rape cases, if the women (or in the cases of male victims, the men) don’t name names or don’t come out openly and accuse those who they say have assaulted them, they are called liars. If they name names and come out openly and accuse, they are themselves accused of trying to destroy the alleged perpetrator’s career. Here, we don’t hang women for speaking up about being assaulted like they just did with Reyhana Jabbari in Iran, nor do we stone women to death for reporting their rape and sexual assault, like they did with Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow in Somalia. Here in the civilized West, we only silence, shame, bully, pressure, harass and destroy their lives for speaking up at all.

There are so many ways of doing that. I’ve been learning about some new ones lately.

This whole Ghomeshi mess came as a shock to me and to several of my friends, all of us left-leaning, social liberal, progressive types. CBC Radio‘s show “Q” has been a cultural icon for the last several years, with so many amazing guests, interviews, music performances; I wouldn’t have guessed that in October of 2014, I’d be reading these terrible allegations and the awkward explanations that Mr. Ghomeshi wrote in his Facebook note. I will reserve a final judgement until there’s a proper trial (if ever), and meanwhile, I will consider Ghomeshi’s other actions; like his seemingly blasé attitude about a “debate” on his show on whether rape culture “actually exists” from earlier this year. I am not saying that he’s automatically guilty of the latest accusations, but I am also not one of the people who worship at his altar in the type of cult of personality that Justin Beach eloquently takes apart in his piece. The cult-ish way that people swarmed on social media, having decided based on only his PR letter that the issue was finished and resolved – with no critical thought – was quite disturbing to watch.

Beware of worshiping at the altar of anyone. You can admire, like, emulate (within reason), but do not worship. It never goes well. Ok wait that’s too strong – sometimes it goes well; sometimes the object of worship actually is someone who doesn’t rape or bully or silence. But it goes wrong all too often and anyway it’s abject. Don’t be abject. Be appreciative but not abject. Admire where appropriate but don’t grovel.

Thinking about this and related things has prompted Kiran to see a pattern emerging.

There is a certain breed of men nowadays – often found in secular, progressive, atheist, artsy, hipster enclaves – who behave in a way that I call “feministy”. These men’s so-called support for women’s equality is quite superficial; it’s really a predatory tactic to gain women’s trust. The feministy predator man, in fact, likes to think of himself as a kind of “conqueror” of feminist women. He is exciting at first, but gets predatory in his sexual and romantic pursuits; he tends to seek out strong minded women and try to break down their will. These types of men gaslight women – it starts slowly, but eventually they tend to belittle and demean the woman they’re with to the point that the women may even start believing them. My progressive friends and I run into this type all the time.

One feministy predator type told me not long ago, when he was a bit drunk, that inside every feminist is a submissive woman wanting a man like him to overtake her. That it’s “evolutionary” or “human nature”. This is someone who goes around calling himself a male feminist, and has even written a couple of articles about women’s rights around the world. He seriously got off on that fantasy that feminists secretly all want to be dominated by men, and believed women shared his narcissistic obsession with himself. He had convinced himself, and no amount of evidence that women don’t want relationships like that, or women who had accused him of abuse and violence seemed to get through to him.

I know the type. Boy do I know the type. It makes me want to live in a cave and haul supplies up in a basket.

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

The Early Ayn Rand

Nov 1st, 2014 5:34 pm | By

Don’t make Baby Ayn cry.

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

Boghossian is looking for more underlings to enrage

Nov 1st, 2014 3:58 pm | By

Peter Boghossian is still at it. He’s in the meta phase – anyone who disliked his snide pseudo-questions about Y gay pride is a rigid ideologue so neener neener.

Like this one:

Questioning that one can be proud to be gay is a leftist blasphemy. ‪#‎justbornthatway‬

Like this share:

Peter Boghossian:

Let’s examine how we use words.

The Internet:


I particularly hate this one, where he comes right out and says he’s doing it to taunt and upset:

I’m looking for an entirely new group of ideologues to enrage. What word should I disambiguate next?

A few hours before that he was pretending it was about critical thinking and being able to revise one’s views:

The more disturbed one is by a word’s disambiguation, the more likely it is that one’s position is not subject to revision.

There’s more where that came from; his Facebook posts are all public.

I wouldn’t care, except that a number of atheist or secularist bigwigs have touted him as another Highly Valuable atheist bigwig. Nuh uh. Atheism doesn’t need any more people who pride themselves (pride themselves, geddit?) on being assholes about LGBT people or women or people of color or anyone who has the bad taste to be marginalized in any way. Atheism needs fewer people like that, not more.

Greta has an excellent response to him.

You know, I really thought that in the atheist community, we were past this. I really thought that in the atheist community — despite some of the horrible racism, sexism, misogyny, anti-feminism, and ferocious opposition to social justice we’ve been seeing — we were overwhelmingly pro-LGBT. I really thought that, with the exception of a handful of nincompoops who we overwhelmingly disavowed, we understood the deep religious roots of homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia, and that we understood that fighting this bigotry was part and parcel of our fight against religious oppression. I really thought that no widely-read, widely-respected atheist author would be making ignorant jabs at LGBT people and LGBT culture, and posting snide, hostile, hurtful, “just asking questions” questions about us in public without actually bothering to ask any of us beforehand.

I know. This is what I was saying the other day. I keep being surprised that we’re not past this.

So Greta spells it out for him.

LGBT pride does not mean being proud of having been born lesbian, gay, bisexual, or trans.

It means being proud of having survived.

LGBT pride flagIt means being proud of living in a homophobic, biphobic, transphobic society — a society that commonly treats us with contempt at best and violent hatred at worst — and still getting on with our lives. It means being proud of flourishing, in a society that commonly thinks we’re broken. It means being proud of being happy, in a society that commonly thinks we should be miserable. It means being proud of being good and compassionate, in a society that commonly thinks we’re wicked. It means being proud of fighting for our rights and the rights of others like us, in a society that commonly thinks we should lie down and let ourselves get walked on — or that thinks we should be grateful for crumbs and not ask for more. It means being proud of retaining our dignity, in a society that commonly treats us as laughing-stocks. It means being proud of loving our sexuality and our bodies, in a society that commonly thinks our sexuality and our bodies are disgusting. It means being proud of staying alive, in a society that commonly beats us down and wants us dead.

Is that really so god damn opaque that Peter Boghossian couldn’t possibly have figured it out, or understood if he’d really asked people to explain it to him? Really asked, not pretend-asked for the sake of sneering.

Simon Frankel Pratt gave a similar explanation on my FB wall on Thursday (and gave me permission to quote him when I asked):

I am not some sort of queer theorist extraordinaire here, but my understanding of pride, and my experience of it as a gay man who has marched in the odd parade and the like, is that it is about celebrating ‘being’ gay (in the broadest sense; this shouldn’t exclude lesbian, bisexual, or other queer persons). In the performative sense. Gay as something you do, rather than as a trait of an entity. There are performances, symbols, and subcultures associated with being gay, and they have emerged in the face of structural oppression and through personal and communal processes of growth and self-acceptance.

All that stuff people do at Pride reads like a veritable list of accomplishments, many of which are by previous generations whose strength, often quiet but thankfully often quite noisy, has made it possible for people like me to basically live without facing any significant discrimination.

I do hope Boghossian’s ravenous intellectual curiosity will be satisfied on this point before too many more outbursts.

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

Not a good Halloween display

Nov 1st, 2014 12:08 pm | By

I hate outdoor Halloween displays more every year. They haven’t always been a thing – back in the 18th century when I was a kid, there was a carved pumpkin and that was it. You didn’t have every yard full of rotting corpses and that stupid cobweb shit draped all over everything.

But some displays are disgusting in a whole other way. The story at AlterNet is titled Kentucky Woman Doesn’t Find Display Of Black People Hanging From Her Tree Offensive

so that’s how that one is disgusting.

A Halloween display depicting what appears to be a black family hanging from a tree outside of a Kentucky residence has been taken down after people complained about it. The house is located on the military base in Fort Campbell. reports that one of its readers sent in a photo of four figures hanging in the home’s front yard. The child has a knife in its back and one of the figures is holding a sign that is hard to read in the photo.

Brendalyn Carpenter with Fort Campbell Public Affairs said her department received a report of a Halloween display that was “offensive in nature” and asked that it be investigated. The woman who had put up the display agreed to take it down after learning of the concerns voiced by some in her community.

Wtf? How would anyone think it was anything else?

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

The have it one way god

Nov 1st, 2014 11:20 am | By

If you have a goddy hatred of the whole idea of same-sex marriage and you’re seeing hurdle after hurdle fall in defiance of your goddy hatred, what do you do? You go on goddily hating it, of course, but also you make a big fuss about “religious freedom” for people whose jobs entail some kind of involvement with marriage. Hollis Phelps at RD gives an example:

The strategy has fallen instead to “protecting” those whose religious opposition to same-sex marriage may conflict with the law.

That includes public employees whose regular duties include issuing marriage licenses and officiating marriages, such county registers of deeds, magistrates, and their employees. As The Charlotte Observer reported, the conservative North Carolina Values Coalition, for instance, sent an email the weekend before last to the state’s registers of deeds, stating that they can refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples based on their “First Amendment right not to violate their religious beliefs.” Tami Fitzgerald, director of the North Carolina Values Coalition, likewise told the Raleigh-based CBS affiliate WRAL, “You shouldn’t have to sacrifice your religious beliefs just to keep your job. That’s just wrong, and it violates our first freedom—the right to freely exercise your religious beliefs.”

Nope. That’s not an infinitely generalizable claim. Your religious beliefs could require you to sacrifice your first-born, but murdering your child would be murder and subject to prosecution. Your religious beliefs could require you to exclude non-white people from public schools, but you would not be permitted to put that belief into practice. Nope.

In a rear guard response to the potential conflict, which has seen the resignation of at least six magistrates, North Carolina Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger stated last week his intent to introduce a bill that would protect the jobs of public employees who refuse to issue marriage licenses or officiate same-sex weddings out of religious conviction. Although the details of the bill aren’t yet hammered down, Berger has stated, “The court’s expansion of the freedoms of some should not violate the well-recognized constitutional rights of others. Complying with the new marriage law imposed by the courts should not require our state employees to compromise their core religious beliefs and First Amendment rights in order to protect their livelihoods.”

Core religious beliefs? What’s core about them? They’re not remotely core. Point me to the much-quoted sermon or aphorism by Jesus that says Teh Homoseckshuals have to give you their shirts. Ha ha, that’s a trick command, because you can’t, because there isn’t one.

“Religious freedom” in relation to same-sex marriage has been coveredat lengthhere at RD, but I would like to stress the point that being required by an employer to perform essential duties that may infringe upon one’s individual religious beliefs, whether those beliefs are sincere or not, is not necessarily a violation of one’s First Amendment rights. And it certainly doesn’t necessarily amount to government hostility toward religion.

“Necessarily” is the key word here, of course, but this is especially the case when your employer is the state and your job requires on oath—an oath that is, it’s important to note, freely taken—that you uphold the law. The magistrate’s oath in North Carolina, for instance, requires him or her to swear to “faithfully and impartially discharge all the duties” of the office; registers of deeds must swear likewise.

Aha, they swear an oath, do they – that’s a useful detail.

All of this is not to make a more general philosophical or political argument about the authority of the state. I’m as suspicious of the next person about state authority and government overreach. It’s just to say that you can’t always have it both ways, especially as a public employee, and the fact that you can’t doesn’t automatically entail a violation of rights.

Actually you can hardly ever have it both ways. There’s a little known minor god that makes bad things happen if you try.


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

Unforget Hazlitt

Nov 1st, 2014 10:28 am | By

Alastair Smart at the Telegraph asks a question that I have wondered about many many times – How did we forget William Hazlitt?

Seriously. The guy was a demon writer, and a genuine thinker. He was also interesting to read. How and why did he get so obscure?

Certainly, even by the non-specialist standards of his day, he had a mighty range: a philosopher, journalist, political commentator, grammar theorist, theatre critic, art critic, travel writer, memoirist – not to mention, biographer of Napoleon. Here was a serious thinker, for whom every pursuit fed into life’s deeper questions. His rise coincided with that of Romanticism. Indeed, though our popular image of the movement is dominated by its poets – Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats and Co. – Hazlitt was a key figure too.

And yet, he’s astonishingly neglected.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Hazlitt racked up enemies at quite a rate. His attacks extended beyond the art world into literature, politics and most spheres of public life. He also maintained the highest regard for Napoleon, going on a depressed, drinking binge after Waterloo and insisting the dictator had remained true to the principles of the French Revolution.

What really did for Hazlitt, though, was an ill-advised affair with a landlord’s daughter half his age, followed by his even more ill-advised declaration of that affair in the book Liber Amoris. It became a stick which all his moralising opponents could beat him with. His reputation never really recovered – and nowadays he’s barely read.

Which is sad for all the people who’ve never read him.

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

Does North Dakota hate women?

Oct 31st, 2014 4:19 pm | By

Tuesday the North Dakota Supreme Court upheld a state law that limits the use of drugs to perform abortions. Yes that’s right, North Dakota, the state that has one count them ONE abortion clinic for a state that’s 70,762 square miles / 183,272 square kilometers in area.

The state’s high court, in a 103-page ruling, reversed a ruling by a district judge last year that found the 2011 law violates the state constitution.

“Beginning tomorrow morning, there will not be any medication abortions in North Dakota,” said David Brown, an attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is helping North Dakota’s sole abortion clinic in Fargo with its legal challenges.

No pill-based abortions for you, North Dakota sluts! If you want a god damn abortion, you whores, you’re going to have to suffer for it. The knife or nothing, you bitches!

Medication abortions at the Red River Women’s Clinic involve the use of a combination of two drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol. The Federal Food and Drug Administration has approved the marketing of mifepristone — commonly known as RU-486— as a drug for ending pregnancies. It is used in combination with misoprostol, a treatment for stomach ulcers that is not labeled as an abortion-inducing drug.

The North Dakota law maintains that the use of any drug to cause an abortion must meet “the protocol tested and authorized” by the FDA and outlined on the drug’s label, meaning misoprostol can’t be used.

Red River Clinic director Tammi Kromenaker has told The Associated Press that about 20 percent of the 1,300 abortions it performs annually are done with drugs and not surgically.

Attorneys for the clinic have said that abortion drugs used by the clinic are widely accepted by the medical community.

Never mind that. Sluts must pay.



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

The pope and the devil

Oct 31st, 2014 3:27 pm | By

Yesterday the pope took a moment to tell us not to underestimate the devil.

Francis described Christian life as a continuous battle against Satan during his homily at morning Mass at the Vatican on Thursday (Oct. 30).

Oh yeah? That’s what it is? All the more reason to be glad I’m not a Christian then.

“This generation, and many others, have been led to believe that the devil is a myth, a figure, an idea, the idea of evil,” the pope told the faithful during Mass at the St. Martha guesthouse where he lives inside the walls of the Vatican.

Yes, Mr Bergoglio, that’s because it is. It’s a supernatural or magical immortal being with superpowers, dreamed up by human beings, like countless other fictional characters throughout history, some more interesting than others.

Let me guess what he’s going to say next. “But nu-uh – the devil is real.” Game over.

“But the devil exists and we must fight against him.”

Right – the pope says the devil exists, so that’s a clincher.

Basing his reflections on the Apostle Paul’s admonition that Christians must “put on the full armor of God” in order to resist Satan’s temptations, Francis likened life to a “military endeavor” and urged people against being carried away by passions and temptations.

“No spiritual life, no Christian life is possible without resisting temptations, without putting on God’s armor which gives us strength and protects us. … The truth is God’s armor.”

See what he’s doing there? He’s enacting the very thing he just said was wrong – the idea that the devil is an idea of evil as opposed to a real (though spooky) person.

This isn’t a new hobby for the pope. He was doing it in 2010 while being a cardinal and talking smack about same-sex marriage and Teh HomoSecks.

A Jesuit cardinal has become the latest Church leader to speak out forcefully against a government’s push towards same-sex marriage, and has called on his nation’s contemplatives to pray fervently to prevent such laws.

According to an article in tomorrow’s L’Osservatore Romano, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the Archbishop of Buenos Aires and Primate of Argentina, has said that if a proposed bill giving same-sex couples the opportunity to marry and adopt children should be approved, it will “seriously damage the family.”

He wrote a letter to all the monasteries telling the monks to pray pray pray against it.

He wrote: “In the coming weeks, the Argentine people will face a situation whose outcome can seriously harm the family…At stake is the identity and survival of the family: father, mother and children. At stake are the lives of many children who will be discriminated against in advance, and deprived of their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God. At stake is the total rejection of God’s law engraved in our hearts.”

Cardinal Bergoglio continued: “Let us not be naive: this is not simply a political struggle, but it is an attempt to destroy God’s plan. It is not just a bill (a mere instrument) but a ‘move’ of the father of lies who seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.”

So he’s saying the devil is behind the idea that same-sex marriage and adoption should be legal. The devil. He might as well announce that LGBTQ people are all witches and that Christians should hunt them down. That’s the supposedly more “progressive” new pope.


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

Thou shalt not evaluate

Oct 31st, 2014 12:12 pm | By

Scott Kaufman watched Christina Hoff Sommers’s latest video, which is nice, because it means I don’t need to.

Sommers says the GamerGate people are “a voice for moderation in today’s fevered debates over sex and gender.”

According to Sommers, GamerGate is merely a group of gamers who either “believe there is too much corruption and cronyism in gaming journalism” or “are weary of cultural critics who evaluate video games through the prism of social justice.”

Why is that a bad way to evaluate video games or any other cultural artifact? Why are we not supposed to think and talk about the ways cultural artifacts shape our thinking about anything and everything, including about kinds of people who are seen as inferior or objectionable in some way? Why would that be a bad thing to do? What is this insistence on saying “No no no no do not probe or interrogate The Artifacts, just lie back and let them wash over you, that is the only acceptable way to receive them”?

“Now, many men — not all of them, but many — do like images of sexy women,” she says. “But why shame them for this? Traditionally, women, gays, trans people have been policed and humiliated for their sexuality. That is wrong. Today, it’s open season on the sexual preferences of straight males. That’s also wrong.”

That’s such a dishonest piece of crap. She knows why. She knows that comparison is ridiculous, and she knows why it is. (Colbert made fun of the whole trope when he talked to Sarkeesian.)

She does address the death threats targeting those who oppose GamerGate, but claims that there’s no proof that GamerGaters are responsible for them. “Now, I deplore the fact that female critics and game developers have been threatened,” she says.

Moreover, she claims that she’s “learned that several people inside of GamerGate, including two women, have received death threats too. Many in the media are treating GamerGate as a ‘damsel in distress’ story. Well, damsels are in distress, but they’re on both side of the controversy.”

That’s another trope, that “damsel in distress” sneer.

D.J. Grothe‏@DJGrothe
@thunderf00t Well, here’s hoping. But that damsel in distress narrative is so compelling and seductive to most people.

Hoping what?

thunderf00t ‏@thunderf00t Oct 29
my money says @femfreq on @StephenAtHome will be the last nail in her coffin,just like it was for Ketchup with occupy—stephen-colbert-occupies-occupy-wall-street-pt–1 …

The verbal destruction of Anita Sarkeesian, for the crime of being a culture critic who evaluates video games through the prism of social justice.

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

In 2012, 36% of pupils were girls

Oct 31st, 2014 11:05 am | By

Iram Ramzan takes on Yvonne Ridley.

[A]ccording to Muslim convert and Respect party activist Yvonne Ridley, the war in Afghanistan was a total failure. On Twitter, she said: “So Taliban undefeated, no career women emerging from rubble & only success story is the rapid growth of opium in Afghanistan.”

While the situation in Afghanistan is far from ideal, there are some good things to have emerged since the western intervention, one of them being the the education of women, which I pointed out to her.

.@yvonneridley in 2000 there were no girls going to school in Afghanistan. In 2012, 36% of pupils were girls. I’d say that’s an achievement

Ridley denied this, saying that there were girls in school when she was in Afghanistan. She said: “I was there with the BBC in February 2002 recording a [BBC] R4 show”. There may well have been girls in schools in 2002, but Ridley failed to acknowledge that her visit was several months after NATO’s intervention in Afghanistan and the overthrow of the Taliban.

It’s highly debatable how much good NATO’s intervention in Afghanistan has done and how it measures up to the cost in lives and everything else, but distortions don’t help anyone zero in on a good estimate.

Ridley was correct when she pointed out that women were attending universities in 2002 – but that was after western troops went in to Afghanistan. Yet the Taliban and their supporters were determined to sabotage education for women. So if there is a reason why things are not perfect in Afghanistan, at least in regards to women’s education, is is certainly not the fault of the west. It is the  fault of the insurgents who are determined to keep females in what they deem is their rightful place – illiterate and under the subordination of men.

It’s probably partly the fault of the west, if you take the long view. Money lavished on the mujahideen fighting the commies did play a part, to the best of my knowledge. But it wasn’t the goal of NATO’s intervention, and it was the Taliban’s goal. Ridley is tap dancing by pretending otherwise.

I am not suggesting that life for women (and even men) is ideal in Afghanistan, far from it. According to Government figures from 2013, only 26 per cent of Afghanistan’s population is literate, and among women the rate is only 12 per cent – a dismal figure. But it is a damn sight better than it was under Taliban rule, where girls were officially banned from having an education. Perhaps Ridley needs to remember that, unless she seriously believes the Taliban weren’t so bad after all?

Maybe Ridley thinks the Taliban is fighting the good fight against Social Justice Warriors.

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

Sure, he said

Oct 30th, 2014 6:29 pm | By

In case ya missed it – Anita Sarkeesian on the Colbert Report.

Lots of applause and squeeing.

At the end Colbert kind of dropped the persona.

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