Notes and Comment Blog


A sign of the nation’s moral decay

Jun 26th, 2014 1:34 pm | By

Is “Ann Coulter” just a very long-lasting Poe? She must be, right?

This time it’s Association Football.

I’ve held off on writing about soccer for a decade — or about the length of the average soccer game — so as not to offend anyone. But enough is enough. Any growing interest in soccer can only be a sign of the nation’s moral decay.

Wot?

In soccer, the blame is dispersed and almost no one scores anyway. There are no heroes, no losers, no accountability, and no child’s fragile self-esteem is bruised. 

Oh right, that’s why nobody’s ever heard of David Beckham. That’s why there’s no movie titled Bend It Like Beckham. That’s why there’s no fuss when someone scores a goal. That’s why the goalie smiles happily whenever the ball gets past him.

Liberal moms like soccer because it’s a sport in which athletic talent finds so little expression that girls can play with boys. No serious sport is co-ed, even at the kindergarten level.

Seriously? I’m the most unathletic person on earth; I loathed all team sports when I was in school; yet even I goggle at the skill involved in good football. Also fuck her for the casual denigration of girls.

Then there’s even more stupid shit. It’s not violent enough – it’s no good if people aren’t wrecked for life in every game. You can’t use your hands. (That’s a good one. Right and in tennis you can’t just kick the ball; in chess you can’t just grab the queen and throw it out the window; in Monopoly you can’t just grab all the property cards and all the cash. That’s what makes them games. Sit down there in the back, Ludwig.) It’s force-fed (by libbruls, of course, in between slugs of latte). It’s foreign, in fact, it’s French. It’s immigrant.

If more “Americans” are watching soccer today, it’s only because of the demographic switch effected by Teddy Kennedy’s 1965 immigration law. I promise you: No American whose great-grandfather was born here is watching soccer. One can only hope that, in addition to learning English, these new Americans will drop their soccer fetish with time.

Now that’s a professional asshole.

 

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



It’s almost as if vaccines work

Jun 26th, 2014 12:40 pm | By

Striking.

Via I fucking love science on Facebook.

 

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



Meet Leo

Jun 26th, 2014 12:00 pm | By

Here’s a gem! Tom Williamson of Skeptic Canary talked to Leo Igwe yesterday.

Leo’s a very exuberant guy. He does great interview.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJx_tJn6tmM

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



Put those in the Do Not Recycle bin

Jun 26th, 2014 10:34 am | By

A “free speech” discussion on Twitter, spinning off the discussion of Badar and FODI and saying “honor” murder is morally justified. It’s annoying the way people recycle dopy platitudes that, if you pause to consider them, are actually complete bullshit.

Like

I favour so let them speak. Alternative is views forced underground.

No it isn’t. That’s a very popular cliché, of course, but that doesn’t make it true, and it’s not true. There are a lot of alternatives to letting Uthman Badar give a talk at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas at the Sydney Opera House saying that “honor killing is morally justified” other than forcing that view underground. Does Uthman Badar look as if he’s been forced underground? Has his view been forced underground? Hardly.

An even sillier one is

Only light can disinfect views we find abhorrent

Nonsense. Often darkness is just the ticket. Some abhorrent views become marginal and despised, and that’s a good thing. Often giving abhorrent views “light” in the form of public attention makes them stronger and more popular, and that can be a bad thing.

It’s just magical thinking to assume that public discussion of harmful ideas – ideas that encourage bad treatment up to and including murder of kinds of people – always and everywhere “disinfects” them. It’s not that easy.

None of this is easy, none of it is simple, and passing around worn-thin banalities that are false as well as banal, does not make it any more so.

Updating to add an item:

Another thing people get wrong about this is making it a matter of an audience’s reception, of our emotions about the claims – that they are “abhorrent” or “offensive” or “shocking” or similar. No that’s not the point; the point is that they have the potential to harm people.

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



Guest post: A lot of psychology may as well be feng shui

Jun 26th, 2014 9:58 am | By

Originally a comment by Marcus Ranum on Which to believe?

diagnosis is difficult, even with training

That’s a red flag, right there.

Psychological states are too subjective to diagnose, so a lot of psychology may as well be feng shui, until neuroscience is able to establish cause/effect relationships in underlying disorders. The idea that psychology diagnoses “disorders” is also interesting to me, because itimplies that there is something broken – literally un-ordered in the patient, yet it’s equally possible that some of these things are learned behaviors. At this time we can’t tell whether any given person lacks empathy because:

  • there is an as-yet undiscovered empathy function in the brain, which this person lacks or has damage to
  • empathy is a learned behavior and this person somehow managed to not learn it
  • this person has had experiences that have convinced them that empathy is not worth demonstrating, so they (knowingly or otherwise) don’t show it
  • all of the above
  •  some of the above
  •  some degree of some of the above

It is my opinion that these are vague concepts in the philosophical sense (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vagueness) which means that epistemologically they may be impossible to know objectively. One can make statements of knowledge about such concepts only in reference to one’s own opinion, i.e.: I know I think that person X suffers from antisocial personality disorder which is easily true, but practically useless.

If you approach it reductively, you wind up with the same problem – since “antisocial personality disorder” is a list of behaviors, such as:

  • failure to conform to social norms
  •  irritability
  •  deceitfulness

etc. Those are also vague concepts. If someone wears white shoes before easter, are they demonstrating failure to conform to social norms, or is the social norm no longer relevant? If someone walks up to another person and licks their face, is that failure to conform, or …? Even “deceitfulness” is tricky – note that the authors of DSM choose the words very very carefully because “deceitfulness” is different from “lying a lot” because “deceit” implies some awareness of the lie on the liar’s part, hedging out someone who is merely mistaken or delusional. And, again, the difference between “deceit” and “mistaken” is vague — all of these are vague concepts.

A shorter form of what I wrote above is that psychology is largely a game of slapping labels on the downstream consequences of unknowns. Too many unknowns.

If you’re concerned about someone’s behaviors (as you perceive them) it’s best to forgo the process of labelling and try to deal as honestly as possible with the behaviors themselves. Acknowledge that those are also vague concepts and labels. But if you are a skeptic you would want to reduce things to facts and let your listener decide. So rather than saying “Marcus exhibited failure to conform to social norms” you can boil it down to “Marcus licked a stranger’s face, and said that’s what he does instead of shaking hands.” Rather than saying “Fred exhibited lack of empathy” you can say “Fred snapped a kitten’s neck with his bare hands and announced it was ‘interesting’ and showed no apparent emotion.” Skeptics are safest when dealing with what they perceive to be facts, though if you want to be a pyrhhonian you can also add “It appears to me now that…” to qualify your statements in order to ensure that your listener remembers they may be hearing your opinions or misperceptions.

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



Unknown hooded men

Jun 26th, 2014 9:40 am | By

A terrible piece of news from Libya:

The Libyan human rights activist Salwa Bugaighis has been shot dead by unknown assailants at her home in Benghazi on the day of the country’s general election.

“Unknown hooded men wearing military uniforms attacked Mrs Bugaighis in her home and opened fire on her,” said a security official, who did not wish to be named.

Her husband is missing.

Bugaighis, a lawyer, played an active part in Libya’s 2011 revolution, which overthrew the regime of Muammar Gaddafi. A former member of the National Transitional Council, the rebellion’s political wing, she was vice-president of a preparatory committee for national dialogue in Libya.

The US ambassador to Libya, Deborah Jones called the news “heartbreaking”, and on her Twitter account denounced “a cowardly, despicable, shameful act against a courageous woman and true Libyan patriot”.

Earlier on Wednesday Bugaighis had participated in Libya’s general election. She published photos of herself at a polling station on her Facebook page.

Maybe the Festival of Dangerous Ideas should offer a talk on why that was morally justified.

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



Hiba is on the BBC on the air right now

Jun 25th, 2014 5:48 pm | By

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/player/bbc_radio_five_live

Ok that’s over. She was great, and she got a lot said! Often radio people interrupt their guests a lot, but Hiba’s good at not being interruptable.

I made the mistake of commenting encouragingly on her Facebook page while she was on the air, and was startled to see her “Like” the comment. Hiba in future close your Facebook page while you’re on the air!

But seriously: this is great. The Ex-hijabi blog is getting a lot of attention and that’s fabulous. Hiba got in a plug for the Ex-Muslims of North America and their parents the Ex-Muslim Council of Britain, founded by Maryam Namazie.

 

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



For walking home from school with a male classmate

Jun 25th, 2014 5:46 pm | By

The murder of 13-year-old Aya that Joanne mentioned:

A Tunisian man is accused of burning his 13-year-old daughter to death for walking home from school with a male classmate May 28 in Ibn Khaldoun, a suburb of Tunis.

Aya, a middle school student, died on June 7 from fourth-degree burns, Kapitalis and other local news sources reported.

“The father has been arrested since the incident occurred,” Allala Rouhma, a spokesperson for the Tunis Court of First Instance, told Tunisia Live. The father’s name has not been released.

Aya spent nine days in the Ben Arous Hospital for Burns and Injuries before succumbing to her injuries.

Source: Facebook

Those must have been nine horrible days. Burns are painful beyond imagining.

One group of activists called for a silent march in her memory on June 19. The Facebook event, ‘Aya, Voice of the Victim,’ called on Tunisians to participate and denounce her death and honor killings.

“This act is nothing more than a sign of a sick and suffering society that continues to demonize the female gender,” said the event’s page.

“What happened is strange in our society,” Feten Abdelkafi, one of the event’s organizers, told Tunisia Live.

“The poor girl was just returning from school with her classmate. I can’t believe that a father could do such a thing to his daughter,” she added.

Activists have called for greater media coverage of Aya’s death.

“I cannot believe that this case could fall into oblivion. What happened is an unacceptable crime. Further, the reactions of some people who justify this barbaric act reflect the degree of ignorance that prevails in the country,” activist and blogger Lina ben Mhenni wrote in a Facebook post.

The Facebook page I Too Was Abused was created in solidarity with Aya’s cause. The page has launched a hashtag #moi_aussi_j_ai_été_violentée, French for‬ “I too was abused,” to encourage women to tell their stories and take a stand against all forms of violence.

It mustn’t fall into oblivion.

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



Discussing evil is not wrong

Jun 25th, 2014 5:17 pm | By

And on Twitter we can see “edgy” Simon Longstaff commenting on the issue.

dangeOh gee people read the session title – silly silly people – they should have simply assumed the session title had nothing to do with the content, apparently.

Only, the title is so unambiguous, isn’t it. “Honour killing is morally justified.” It says what it says. It doesn’t even pose it as a question.

Also? Saying “honour  killing is morally justified” is not the same thing as “discussing evil.” The right title for the latter would have been, say, “Discussing the evil of honour killing.”

But he’s getting lots of attention for the FODI; no doubt that was the goal all along.

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



Extremely uncomfortable

Jun 25th, 2014 4:50 pm | By

Joanne Payton has a terrific post on the FODI provocation. (Hey they have a festival to run! They got your attention, right? Well there you are then.)

In Australia, there is an event called the Festival of Dangerous Ideas, with some high-calibre contributors, like Salman Rushdie and Steven Pinker. One of the speakers they invited was one Uthman Badar, of Hizb ut-Tahrir. The title of the speech was Honour Killings are Morally Justified.

Badar says he did not choose the topic himself, but accepted it upon the urgings of the board. The festival’s co-curator Simon Longstaff said he had nominated the topic for six years in a row, because the point of the festival is to push boundaries ”to the point where you become extremely uncomfortable”. Yet again, misogyny, racism and violence against minoritised women is considered edgy, rather than banal and conservative.

Thwack. Isn’t it though.

The thing that makes me want to smash things is the spectacle of one Simon Longstaff being so very languid and aesthetic about “pushing boundaries to the point where you become extremely uncomfortable” with other people’s lives. Simon Longstaff, and people like Simon Longstaff – men – aren’t subject to “honor” murder. Other people are; it happens a lot, more than anyone knows because it happens in secret so the stats are low. This isn’t a joke, it isn’t abstract, it isn’t in the past, it isn’t something we can be happily sure never happens in the real world. Quite the opposite. Simon Longstaff can go stick a corn cob in his ear if he wants to make himself extremely uncomfortable; inviting people to give talks saying murder of sisters and daughters is morally justified is not the way to give jaded Australians a treat.

What’s more edgy and dangerous and uncomfortable than suggesting the world is a better place because a Tunisian father burned his 13 year old daughter alive? What’s more edgy and dangerous than saying certain women and girls don’t deserve to live?

For Aya, it was ‘dangerous’ to walk home from school with one of her classmates, and no doubt somewhat more than ‘extremely uncomfortable’ to die of burns a few hours later.

It is a wonder that Longstaff didn’t realise that other speakers had balked the topic for six years in a row not because it was “uncomfortable”, but because it was morally repugnant: hate-speech as clickbait, where the names and faces of the victims are erased for the safe of a headline.

Exactly.

Joanne then coldly points out that he’s wrong to say that it’s mostly people in “the west” who condemn “honor” murder. (What an orientalist racist Islamophobic thing to say! A billion people in India, more than a billion in China, half a billion in Indonesia – get real.) We wouldn’t even know about it if it weren’t for non-western activists.

Overwhelmingly, the scholars and activists who work against ‘honour’-based violence are people working in their own countries and communities, both within and outside the ‘West’. To ignore this fact demonstrates a strangely Eurocentric world view.

Read the rest.

 

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



Which to believe?

Jun 25th, 2014 4:06 pm | By

Here’s an epistemological puzzle. What’s the right way to be a skeptic when it comes to thinking about a possible psychopath? I don’t mean a serial murderer or anything, but a more everyday kind of psychopath – you know, no conscience, compulsive lying, good at manipulation, persuasive, charming, successful.

You know a number of people who suspect that X is a psychopath of that type. You too know X and have always found X charming and persuasive.

What’s the skeptic thing to do? To doubt the people you know? Or to doubt your own sense of X? As a good skeptic, you know that people can be charming and persuasive and still be psychopaths, but you also know that not all charming and persuasive people are psychopaths, in fact most are not. As a good skeptic, you know that people can be wrong about other people, but you also know that that applies to you as well as to other people.

It’s tricky, isn’t it.

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



It says a lot about the reality of freedom

Jun 25th, 2014 11:34 am | By

Melissa Davey in the Guardian reports on the aftermath of the cancellation of Badar’s FODI talk.

A Sydney-based Muslim speaker has said the public outcry that prompted the Opera House to cancel his lecture called Honour Killings Are Morally Justified reveals the “extent and depth” of Islamophobia in Australia.

Does it? Or does it just reveal the extent and depth of opposition to “honor” murder in Australia? Which would be a good thing.

Badar said people had jumped to conclusions about his views before he had a chance to speak.

“Things were assumed and outrage ensued,” he said. “That is the way Islamophobia works. The assumption is ‘we know what the Muslims will say’. This a very instructive case as far as that goes.”

No it isn’t, and no it isn’t, and no it isn’t. All those claims are wrong. The talk had a title; there were no scare quotes indicating distance or irony; the title said what it said.

“I think the hysteria says a lot about Islamophobia and about the extent and the depth of it in this country.

“It says a lot about the reality of freedom and the space that minorities have to move in in this country, Muslims in particular.”

What about the space that Muslim girls and women have to move when the threat of being murdered for perceived sexual disobedience hangs over them? What about that kind of space to move? Does Uthman Badar give a flying fuck about that? Not that I can see; he’s worried only about his own space to flatter the practice of murdering girls and women for perceived sexual disobedience.

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



Potential participants

Jun 25th, 2014 10:50 am | By

CAFE is in the news again – the Canadian Association for Equality, you know, founded by Justin “not THAT Justin” Trottier, formerly the ED of CFI-Canada. Why is it in the news again? Because it’s been discovered that it cited women’s rights organizations on its application to the Canada Revenue Agency for charitable status, which it got.

…when the Canadian Association for Equality (CAFE), a self-described “men’s issues” organization, applied to the Canada Revenue Agency for charitable status last year, it listed the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF), Egale Canada, and Status of Women Canada as potential participants in its “regular panel discussion series” on women’s and men’s issues. The CRA granted CAFE charitable status in March, 2014.

There’s just one problem: none of the groups listed has ever been involved with CAFE.

The executive directors of Egale and LEAF said they had no knowledge of ever being approached by the organization, and said they would not work with CAFE if they were asked. Before NOW contacted them, neither organization had any knowledge that CAFE had listed them on its application.

A spokesperson for Status of Women Canada, the federal agency, told NOW in an email that none of its representatives had ever been involved in a CAFE event.

Sneaky, eh? Deceptive? Sly? Less than forthright?

LEAF’s executive director Diane O’Reggio was shocked to learn CAFE had associated itself with her organization, which has been defending women’s legal rights for almost thirty years.

“We’re concerned that this organization has used our name in this manner,” said O’Reggio. “We absolutely are not associated with this group and what they stand for.”

“We’re obviously a feminist equality organization and we think the beliefs that they espouse are absolutely in contradiction and opposite to the work of what our organization does.”

O’Reggio said it was “very disingenuous” for CAFE to suggest to the CRA it had a working relationship with LEAF, and she’s concerned the men’s group used her organization in order to gain charitable status.

Helen Kennedy of Egale Canada suggests that CAFE is trying to paper over the nature of the group by using these names.

The group also claimed it was planning to work with university scholars from women’s studies departments, and specifically named Professor Sarita Srivastava, an associate sociology professor at Queen’s who studies anti-racist challenges to Canadian feminist groups. On its application CAFE said it was “currently” setting up a panel discussion to include Srivastava.

Reached by email, Srivastava told NOW that she was “stunned” to learn her name was on the form, which was date-stamped in a National Capital Region mailroom on July 26, 2013. According to Srivastava, more than four months before that she turned down an invitation from the group to speak about misogyny as part of a panel discussion on “misandry,” the highly disputed term men’s rights activists use to describe systemic anti-male discrimination.

On the other hand she also says she didn’t actually spell out that she would never work with the group, so it’s possible that they could have intended to invite her to future events.

Yes it is, and that’s where the slyness comes in.

CAFE also listed only more benign lectures and books on its application, leaving off the overtly anti-feminist items. That looks perilously close to lying by omission.

NOW emailed a list of questions about this story to several of CAFE’s email accounts and to its founder, Justin Trottier. Trottier isn’t included among the members of CAFE’s leadership on the group’s website, but his signature appears on the CRA application’s supporting documents and he is named in the application as the organization’s chair. Despite repeated attempts, NOW did not receive a response.

It has proven difficult to get Trottier to speak on the record about the group he created. In a strange phone interview with CAFE last month, a man who would only give his name as “Justin” refused to reveal his full identity to NOW and claimed he was merely “working behind the scenes as a volunteer.” He could then be heard feeding answers to CAFE spokesperson Denise Fong, who is Trottier’s fiancée.

During that interview Fong and “Justin” also denied CAFE had any association with a Voice for Men (AVFM), an online U.S. misogyny group, even though the CAFE website was promoting an AVFM conference at the time.

Justin Trottier is the gift that keeps on giving.

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



The accused is the oriental other

Jun 24th, 2014 6:12 pm | By

Here is the cached version of the page for Utham Badar’s (now canceled) talk at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas in Sydney.

badar

For most of recorded history parents have reluctantly sacrificed their children—sending them to kill or be killed for the honour of their nation, their flag, their king, their religion. But what about killing for the honour of one’s family? Overwhelmingly, those who condemn ‘honour killings’ are based in the liberal democracies of the West. The accuser and moral judge is the secular (white) westerner and the accused is the oriental other; the powerful condemn the powerless. By taking a particular cultural view of honour, some killings are condemned whilst others are celebrated. In turn, the act becomes a symbol of everything that is allegedly wrong with the other culture.

That’s some high-class moral relativism there. Yup we funny people who insist that it’s wrong to murder family members or anyone else for having sex, we’re the secular white western meanies, and the people who think it’s right and good to murder family members for having sex are the oriental other. Shout out to Edward Said! Although I seriously doubt he would be much flattered by the homage of Uthman Badar.

But “the powerful condemn the powerless”? Is that fair? I think the victims of honor killings – the people murdered – are the powerless and the people doing the murdering are the powerful. I honestly don’t think that people who murder their daughters or sisters or mothers or wives get to claim to be the powerless victims.

Notice, also, the pretentious pseudo-literary word-juggling, the “critical theory” airs and graces, the palaver about symbols and the epigram about condeming some and celebrating others – notice it and feel nausea at the cynical frivolity, the vanity, the having it both ways, the showing off. This isn’t some fucking game. This is girls and women like those of the Shafia family, pushed into a canal in the family car. This is a girl like Banaz Mahmod, brutally murdered by her father and uncle. This is real girls and women murdered by their real fathers and brothers, it’s not something to preen about and bandy words about on the stage of the Sydney Opera House.

What a piece of scum, this Utham Badar.

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



Honor killings are peachy keen

Jun 24th, 2014 5:36 pm | By

The Festival of Dangerous Ideas in Sydney has canceled a talk by an Islamist from Hizb ut-Tahrir titled ‘Honour Killings Are Morally Justified’.

Cue outrage; what about free speech?!

Is that a legitimate worry? Is it bad for free speech to not host a talk titled ‘Honour Killings Are Morally Justified’?

Sydney-based Muslim speaker Uthman Badar, from Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir, was to give the speech, titled ‘Honour Killings Are Morally Justified’ at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas in August.

However, the event sparked an angry response on social media and talkback radio, and drew strong condemnation from two New South Wales Government ministers.

The state’s Minister for Women, Pru Goward, and the Minister for Citizenship and Communities, Victor Dominello, were both fiercely critical.

I take phrases like “dangerous ideas” to be somewhat non-literal. I don’t think of them as being about how to murder people, how to fly planes into tall buildings, how to poison a city’s water supply, that kind of thing.

Last night, festival co-curator Simon Longstaff said the event had been withdrawn due to the level of public anger.

“The justification for removing it was simply the level of public outrage,” he said.

“We took the view that it was so strong and overwhelming that the ability of the speaker to even open up the question for some discussion and reflection would be impossible.

“It would be unfair for the speaker to put them in a situation where they wouldn’t get a word out without finding all of condemnation.”

Well, really, what would you expect? He’s saying Murder is Morally Justified. What’s to discuss and reflect on? Why is there a need for discussion and reflection on the claim that honor killing is morally justified? Is assault morally justified? Is rape morally justified? Is flogging morally justified? Some questions should be closed, apart from philosophy seminars.

In a Facebook post, Mr Badar defended himself, saying the suggestion he would advocate for honour killings is ludicrous.

He said he wanted to explore the issue and described the public outcry as Islamophobia.

Wrong title then? A mix-up at the printer?

Maybe so; Badar says he didn’t choose the title, although he accepted it.

The people who run the Festival Ideas aren’t going to be subject to honor killing; they shouldn’t play games with it.

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



In an imaginary afterlife

Jun 24th, 2014 4:41 pm | By

Here we have Michael Nugent going head to head with Robert Grant who wrote that terrible article in the Irish Times, on the radio program News Talk.

It’s slightly shocking, because as I mentioned, Grant is a philosophy tutor at TCD, yet he repeatedly and consistently draws wild conclusions from what Michael says that simply are not there – and surely if there’s anything a philosopher should know better than to do, it’s that.

The presenter is torture to listen to, frankly, because he sounds as if he’s slobbering the whole time, plus he’s silly. (The ten commandments ffs!)

A takeaway from Michael:

[Religion] hides its testability in an imaginary afterlife and therefore it never gets the reality check in people’s minds.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97kYu6bAewA

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



Time and size do not exist for the law of attraction

Jun 24th, 2014 4:10 pm | By

Thanks to James Croft I’m now aware that there’s such a thing as a Facebook page for The Secret. What is The Secret? Some positive thinking “you can get rich by fantasizing about it” book or movie or brain implant. Anyway whenever you have an impulse to dive into a source of Modern Absurdity, it’s right there for your viewing pleasure.

Top item on the page right now:

Time and size do not exist for the law of attraction. It is as easy to heal a pimple as a disease. The process is identical; the difference is in our minds. So if you have attracted some affliction to you, reduce it in your mind to the size of a pimple through your thoughts, and then focus on health, health, and more health. Rhonda Byrne

Ah the law of attraction – let’s ask Oprah about that.

Millions of people have now heard of The Secret , a theory which brings phrases like “positive thinking” and “the law of attraction” to everyday conversations. Although the The Secret is a fairly recent phenomenon, spiritual thinkers say they’ve been studying the concepts for years.

Acclaimed author Louise Hay is considered the mother of positive thinking. She is back to continue the conversation about the law of attraction, which is the basis of The Secret . “The law of attraction is that our thinking creates and brings to us whatever we think about,” she says. “It’s as though every time we think a thought, every time we speak a word, the universe is listening and responding to us.”

Or you could ask Barbara Ehrenreich about it by reading Bright-Sided.

 

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



A system of open discrimination

Jun 24th, 2014 3:41 pm | By

Fintan O’Toole tells a story of priest-ridden Ireland and slightly less priest-ridden Belize.

In 2003, the Catholic diocese of Toledo fired a primary school teacher called Maria Roches because she was pregnant, not married, and therefore in breach of an obligation to live by “Jesus’s teaching on marriage and sex”. Ms Roches sued the diocese and the case went to the supreme court. The church cited, in support of its right to fire Roches, the 1985 Irish High Court case of Eileen Flynn. Ms Flynn was fired from her job at the Holy Faith school in New Ross for living with a man to whom she was not married. Judge Declan Costello sided with the nuns. He found, among other things, that they were “entitled to take into account that the appellant’s association [with the man] was carried on openly and publicly in a country town of quite a small population”; that Flynn’s conduct “would have been common knowledge in the town” and that pupils in the school “would regard her conduct as a rejection of the norms of behaviour and the ideals which the school was endeavouring to instil in and set for them”.

Yes doesn’t that sound Irish – the small town, the prying eyes, the warped ideas of what matters.

The church in Belize cited the Flynn case as sanction for the firing of Ms Roches. The chief justice of Belize, however, was sceptical to the point of open contempt for Ireland’s standing in these matters: “I must be cautious, this is a case from Ireland [and] we all know the position of Ireland on religious issues.” He was entirely unpersuaded by the argument that in schools supported by public funds, religious orthodoxy can take precedence over human rights and international law on non-discrimination. He found in favour of Ms Roches, not least on the grounds that Belize (like Ireland) is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and that it is patently discriminatory to fire women for getting pregnant while taking no action against men whose sexual conduct leaves less visible traces.

But that’s why – it’s only on the woman that it shows, and that’s why women have to be treated like shit while men get to go on their way rejoicing.

Seriously though, well done chief justice of Belize. Ireland? Not so fortunate.

It seemed pretty clear to the Belize chief justice that it is intolerable in a constitutional democracy to allow public employees, paid by the state, to be fired because their private lives do not conform to a particular church’s teaching. Yet in Ireland, the Eileen Flynn judgment is still the law of the land. It was written into legislation in section 37 of the Employment Equality Act of 1998, which says that any religious-run body (including most schools and many hospitals) can take any “action which is reasonably necessary to prevent an employee or a prospective employee from undermining the religious ethos of the institution”. In practice, this includes living openly in any kind of sexual relationship (heterosexual or homosexual) that is not sanctioned by the church, or publicly advocating any policies (gay marriage, for example) that go against church teaching.

Also? If you want to be a teacher in Ireland you’d better sign up.

State-funded teacher training colleges are telling their students that their degrees will be of limited use unless they also take a diploma in “faith formation” for Catholic or Protestant schools. In effect, public universities are colluding in a system of open discrimination in which atheist, Muslim, or Orthodox would-be teachers have to sign up to become missionaries for faiths to which they do not belong if they are to be eligible to work in the bulk of taxpayer-funded teaching jobs.

It’s an uphill battle in Ireland.

Notice also that section 37 of the Employment Equality Act of 1998 applies to “many hospitals” – which would help to explain why Savita Halappanavar died of a miscarriage in a Galway hospital.

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



Francis dispatches

Jun 24th, 2014 12:26 pm | By

The pope is such a comedian. Independent Catholic News (there’s a joke right there) reports his latest joke.

On Saturday morning the Holy Father received participants in the International Congress organised by the Department of Law of the Maria SS Assunta University of Rome (LUMSA) and the School of Law of the St John’s University on the theme: “religious freedom according [to] international law and the global conflict of values”, held in Rome on 20 and 21 June. Francis remarked that the theme of religious freedom has recently become the subject of intense debate between governments and the various religious faiths, and added that the Catholic Church, has a long history of supporting religious freedom, culminating in the Vatican Council II Declaration “Dignitatis humanae”.

The Catholic Church has a long history of supporting religious freedom hahahahaha that’s a good one. The Catholic church wants to force its “teachings” on all of us, including the most vicious and destructive ones. It doesn’t support our freedom from its theocratic laws and demands.

“Every human is a ‘seeker’ of truth on his origins and destiny. In his mind and in his ‘heart’, questions and thoughts arise that cannot be repressed or stifled, since they emerge from the depths of the person and are a part of the intimate essence of the person. They are religious questions, and religious freedom is necessary for them to manifest themselves fully”.

No, they’re not, actually, not inherently or necessarily. They can be entirely secular, this-world, naturalistic.

Francis emphasised that “reason recognises that religious freedom is a fundamental right of man, reflecting his highest dignity, that of seeking the truth and adhering to it, and recognising it as an indispensable condition for realising all his potential.

No, again, that’s quite the opposite of the truth. Seeking the truth has to be independent of religion, because religion is repeating ancient dogma, not looking for truth at all.

Go back home and re-work the material, Frank. Not ready for prime-time.

H/t Stewart.

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



You’re free, you can go! Haha just kidding

Jun 24th, 2014 11:59 am | By

Yesterday Meriam Ibrahim was released from prison. Hooray! Now all they had to do was get the hell out of Sudan. They got to Khartoum airport. Hooray!

There she was re-arrested and thrown back in the slammer.

Meriam Ibrahim, the Christian woman released from death row in Sudan on Monday, was arrested with her husband and two children at Khartoum airport on Tuesday as the family attempted to leave the country.

Agents from the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) detained the family just 24 hours after Ibrahim was released on the orders of the appeal court.

Her lawyer, Elshareef Mohammed, who was with Ibrahim at Khartoum airport at the time of the arrest, said more than 40 NISS officers apprehended the family as they attempted to board a plane to the US. Ibrahim’s husband, Daniel Wani, is a US citizen.

Bastards. Just let her go! You don’t want her, so just let her go.

“It’s very disappointing,” Elshareef told the Guardian. “They were very angry. They took us [the family's lawyers] outside, and took the family to a NISS detention centre. They have not been given access to lawyers.”

He said the appeal court had quashed Ibrahim’s convictions and there were no restrictions on her travelling. He added that political differences within the government over the case may have played a part in the decision to prevent her leaving.

“I’m very concerned. When people do not respect the court, they might do anything,” said Elshareef.

They’ve kidnapped her, is what they’ve done.

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