Notes and Comment Blog

Page o’ nonstop monitoring and harassment

May 4th, 2013 7:52 am | By

May 4

First thing in the morning. Again, why Twitter blocking doesn’t work – because any old asshole can reply to someone you’ve blocked and then her sniping at you turns up in your feed. Lucky you.


AmbrosiaX tweets

One more thing, @OpheliaBenson , try doing some actual critical thinking instead of just applauding any article that makes men look bad.

Pfunk-the original @ Gluonsrule tweets

@AmbrosiaX@OpheliaBenson yeah, maybe that will happen.

“One more thing” is it – so there’s a whole series then. “AmbrosiaX” is obsessed with me, and I don’t even know who the fuck she is apart from being someone who spends hours every day sniping at me and other Hated Ones. Yet she accuses me of doing nothing but “applauding any article that makes men look bad.” Is that really what I do nothing but? No.

May 3, again


In reverse order, hence chronological order

Ambrosia X tweets (and tweets and tweets)

@Eunecromancer@aratina@tkmlac@ool0n I’ll tell you what happened with the acid story. As I said, Ophelia blogged about an acid attack and

tried to relate it to her “activism” as though she could be a target for such a horrific attack…

A tweeter who followed many of us (but no one seemed to know him well) said something about OB having

a facial. I think he was trying to make a juvenile jab at her appearance. It definitely was not a

threat. We all said it was inappropriate and he deleted his account, probably out of embarrassment.

I’ll take the lies in order too. No I did not say anything about “my ‘activism’” – I never say anything about my activism, because I’m not an activist, and I don’t claim or pretend to be. What I said was

Interesting. One minute it’s just hacked Facebook accounts, the next it’s acid attacks. Maybe I should start wearing protection.

That’s all. I said it at the end of a post that quoted from a news item about the Bolshoi artistic director who got acid thrown in his face.

The tweeter did not say “something about OB having a facial.” He said

Maybe a vial of acid would do you some good.

Followed by a long-winded version of “you’re incredibly ugly.” Yes, of course part of the idea was to say that a vial of acid in my face would make me less ugly and thus do me some good, but that was only part of the idea. “Ambrosia” announces that it was definitely not a threat. That’s easy for her to say. It’s less easy to say “definitely” when the threat (or “joke” with threat-like overtones) is aimed at you as opposed to someone else. I would feel distinctly uncomfortable – in fact I would feel like a complete shit – looking at a ”Maybe a vial of acid would do you some good” said to someone else and dogmatically announcing it was definitely not a threat. But not “Ambrosia.” “Ambrosia” apparently feels perfectly fine about going on and on and on and on and on about how no threats aimed at me are actually threats and I deserve all the shit thrown at me for musing on the possibility that an extended campaign to throw shit at me could eventually turn violent.

May 3

The shameless lying never fails to surprise me.

A comment on a demented, paranoia-riddled post by David Osorio at Skeptic Ink:


Theo Ffensivatheist

There are some people in the comment section of Butterflies & wheels that are trying to convince (I’m not sure who) that Justin represents a REAL threat & some are seriously talking about bottles of acid being thrown in Womens faces as a real possibility (all without ANY kind of evidence of course). Is there anyone here willing to truthfully say they think they’re trying to be honest & genuine here. Personally i see it as the worst kind of hyperbole &/or downright dishonesty & another example of what we’ve come to expect from many at FtB. The ONLY person who’s even possibly facing any kind of threat is Justin, who’s going to be surrounded by several hundred people, the vast majority of which will disagree on many issues & idea/l/s he holds dear. We can only hope that the most impressionable of those in opposition to his presence don’t try to play the hero. I wish him all the best but can honestly say, “Rather him than me”. I know he’s doing this for all of us. (Even if some don’t realize or appreciate it).


Why am I not surprised!

Shameless lie. Nobody has said one word about Vacula throwing acid in anyone’s face.

May 1

I was told Vacula is chirping aggressively at me again. Sure enough. I suppose this is by way of demonstrating to a fascinated world that he’s not harassing me in the least and never has been.


Justin Vacula tweets

So, how much longer until Ophelia Benson drops out of #WIScfi speciously claiming she is threatened? She did it once before… #ftbullies

A bystander comments.


Jessie Lewis tweets

@justinvacula Your hatred for others is all that’s keeping you in the public eye, isn’t it?

Justin Vacula tweets

@Jessie_XL I don’t hate. Anyway, feel free to check out my activism and appearances – some of which made global, national, state, local news

Jessie Lewis tweets

@justinvacula You are deliberately offensive to others and then seem angry when they refuse to engage with you.

@justinvacula You have a massive ego as well and bask in the attention you are getting from your petty vendetta.

Vacula tweets

@Jessie_XL I find intellectual dishonesty quite repugnant – when people talk a big game and refuse to defend their ideas with detractors

Deliberately offensive? How? …and I thought offense was the problem of the person claiming offense, not the person giving it?

That’s what he thought?! Well that would explain a lot!

Sure, and rudeness is the problem of the person claiming rudeness, not the person giving it; same with cruelty, aggression, lying – it’s all the problem of the person “claiming” rudeness et al., not the person giving it. All is subjective! Nothing is real! And everything is “the problem of” the person being acted on, not the agent. How very convenient – until of course you are the person being acted on.

April 29 part 3

Because of the sheer weirdness.


April 29 part deux

Dang, it’s hard to keep up at the moment, even with the tiny fraction of the total that I choose to document. My audacity in telling Vacula to leave me alone after he tweeted about hoping I would chat with him at WiS2 has triggered a new avalanche.



And like


And like


April 29


Russell Blackford tweets

Whether or not you agree with Justin Vacula’s opinions (and I disagree with many of them), this witch hunt against him has to stop.

This “witch hunt”? What witch hunt? I told him not to approach me. That’s not a witch hunt. He’s been relentlessly monitoring and harassing me for almost a year, and I do not want to interact with him in real life. Telling him that is not a “witch hunt.”

Vacula is complaining that I also said that if he didn’t leave me alone I would file a complaint. Well? I’ve told him to leave me alone before and he has never done so, therefore I wanted him to know that I would in fact make an official complaint if he refused to leave me alone at the conference. It’s that simple. He doesn’t leave people alone simply because they ask him or tell him to. More is needed.

And this has nothing to do with Vacula’s “opinions” or “disagreement” – it has to do with actions.


Sara E Mayhew tweets

Report real online stalking/harassment to ISPs. Using the terms irresponsibly like @pzmyers@opheliabenson hurts real victims. #ftbullies


PZ Myers tweets

Exactly. What’s so hard about that? RT @InMyUnbelief: @saramayhew So…don’t approach them. @MsMondegreen@OpheliaBenson

Eristae tweets

Seriously, why the F is the response to this not, “Oh, you don’t want to talk to me? Okay, I won’t.”

Mayhew tweets

@Eristae@pzmyers@OpheliaBenson they just want to setup a chance to kick someone out. Regardless of whether it’s harassment or not.

Mayhew doesn’t know that, and it’s not true.


Mayhew tweets

@MsMondegreen They are drama-mongering metabloggers acting like high schoolers. NO one should approach them. @pzmyers@OpheliaBenson

There are more like that, but I’m bored with posting them. But I wanted to post a sample because Mayhew has been ordering me to remove her from this page, on the grounds that harassment is a crime.

April 28 item 3

Mayhew is back. I was hoping she would never sneer at me again, then I could refrain from ever mentioning her again. It was not to be.


Sara E Mayhew

#wiscfi is already an unwelcoming atmosphere thanks to @pzmyers @opheliabenson’s decrees of who may approach them. immature unprofessional.

Right. It’s terribly immature and unprofessional to tell a harasser to stay away from you. The mature professional thing to do is just shut up and take it, whatever it is.

April 28 part deux because I missed it before -


Justin Vacula tweets

@caias@OpheliaBenson@karla_porter Too bad Ophelia won’t come on #BraveHero but we appreciate early promo. Maybe she will chat at #wiscfi ?

Ok this is specifically for Vacula: do not approach me at WiS2. Stay away from me.

As you know, ignoring such instructions is grounds for removal. If you don’t stay away from me I will make an official complaint.

April 28

Some guy I don’t know from Adam.


Caias Ward @caias

@karla_porter @OpheliaBenson @justinvacula some people like the bravery of being out of range.

Ophelia Benson

Why did you @ me on this?

Caias Ward

was hoping you would respond to karla_porter since you have been talking about her.

Wut? What’s that first one about? To find that out I had to make some effort, because both Porter and Vacula have blocked me. [And before we go on let's get one thing straight - they're the ones who talk about me, not the other way around. They started talking about me with that podcast in which they lied about the emails I got warning me about the dangers of going to TAM. Vacula refused to correct the lies when I told him they were lies, and instead demanded that I go on his podcast. No. That's not how that works.] So I made that effort, and found what it was about.


Justin Vacula tweets

@opheliabenson – Your blog post mentioning @karla_porter gave me a good giggle. Tune in to #BraveHero Radio tonight and consider calling!

Karla Porter tweets

@justinvacula Seriously, please call in @opheliabenson.

Justin Vacula tweets

@karla_porter@opheliabenson We’d love to have her on the show. Too bad she’s unwilling to have discussion – but she is welcome regardless

That’s so typical of those two. They did it with that podcast about me last summer and they’ve been doing it ever since. It’s such a transparently childish, schoolyardish, bullying game – endlessly taunting someone while at the same time extending aggressive bullying “invitations” to interact (and to give free publicity to their enterprises).

No, I’m not going to have “a dialogue” with hostile sneery people who make a career of taunting me and others. No, I’m not going to “have discussion” with them. No, I’m not going to tune in to one of their podcasts. No, I’m not going to call their podcast. No, I’m not going to be on “the show.”


“Outwest” tweets

@justinvacula@karla_porter@OpheliaBenson afraid to have her hypocrisy  revealed?

Karla Porter tweets

@jeh704@justinvacula – This is what I practice: I wouldn’t talk about anyone I wouldn’t be willing to talk with. – But to each their own.

Caias Ward tweets

@karla_porter@OpheliaBenson@justinvacula some people like the bravery of being out of range.

So that’s where that came from.

As I said, I don’t know Caias Ward from Adam, and I have no idea why he saw fit to tweet at me. Note his reply to my asking him that question -

was hoping you would respond to karla_porter since you have been talking about her.

Well that’s bullshit. He didn’t tweet at me to say “please respond to Karla Porter”; he tweeted at me to say “some people like the bravery of being out of range.”

So that’s one fraction of the bullshit from yesterday and this morning.

April 26


Skepdigger @SkepDirt

If Ophelia Benson wants to stop being called out when she says stupid things, she should stop saying stupid things.


I think I tweeted that to her once

Of course everything I say is stupid, so it’s necessary to “call me out” for saying stupid things whenever I say anything at all in public. Of course “Skepdigger/SkepDirt” knows this, because “Skepdigger/SkepDirt” is infallible when it comes to separating stupid things from not stupid things. Thus it is perfectly reasonable and right that “Skepdigger/SkepDirt” and “AmbrosiaX” and their many colleagues “call me out” every hour of every day. (People in Australia and India and South Korea have to “call me out” later in the day because of the time difference, so the fact that I’m asleep and so not saying anything stupid right that second is beside the point.)

April 24

I haven’t updated this in awhile. But this one is just so…wtf?


felch grogan

I bet this is what the #skepchick backchannel sounds like #FTBullies #atheismplus #CuntPunt #MeanGirls

[with a link to a video of some random young women doing something or other]

“cunt punt” – hear that #OpheliaBenson? Time to put your gumboots on. I mean you are consistent aren’t you? #FTBullies#atheismplus#frauds

And another wtf?

Birthday tea with Claire at Macrina. Almond cupcake w choc ganache for me, cherry lemon coffee cake for her. omg.


April 10

One of those…”huh?” items. Included because of the “huh?” factor.


DC in Detroit

It also means you, @OpheliaBenson, who I paid to see speak and was shitty to me for no reason.

The funny thing there is that it sounds like part of an ongoing conversation but isn’t. What is the “it” that also means me? I have no idea. I looked at her feed to try to figure it out but no real luck, except that she’d been feeling irritable a few hours before. Yes but what’s that got to do with me? I don’t know. I asked her – but she didn’t reply. After awhile, when she’d made some more recent tweets, I asked her again, but still no reply. A chickenshit as well as a pest, then. What a brat.

That business about “who I paid to see speak” – the hell she did. She was at the American Atheists conference, apparently, but she didn’t pay to see me speak; she paid to attend the conference despite the fact that I was one of the speakers. I was one of a great many speakers and I’m clearly not of the type that she wants to see. But the implication is some obnoxious “I pay your salary so do my bidding” schtick, which is bratty entitled bullshit.

An hour later - how I was “shitty” to her and why.


It’s obvious enough, I’m sure – her implication was that I ain’t got no expertise so why do I write for Free Inquiry? That was my first ever encounter with her. That’s a meme among the people who target me – I ain’t got no expertise. Notice especially how she doesn’t even admit that’s what she was doing, even though she’s anonymous so it can’t do her any damage. Typical of this kind of crap.


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

Don’t say you do if you don’t

May 3rd, 2013 9:50 am | By

Josh is wondering why the Obama admin is doing this.

I don’t know, but I think it’s the usual Democratic Party always-feint-to-the-right thing. Why the Democratic Party has such a thing, I also don’t know, but it certainly does. It’s why I don’t always vote for the Dem candidate for president (and then get in huge arguments that go on for years). It seems to me that the only way to convince them that there is a cost in alienating their own side too is to make it cost.

Or maybe in this case it’s not so much a feint to the right as that other fatal urge to be always seen as more Normal and Average and Majority and Wholesome than those wild-eyed crazy leftists and anarchists and feminists. Girls of 13 weren’t taking the morning after pill on Father Knows Best or I Love Lucy so they’d better not be taking them now, either, at least not without a prescription so that they have to tell someone they’ve been fucking.

Whatever the reason is, it pisses me off, especially when he goes around saying he supports reproductive rights for women. No you don’t, dude. You don’t, so don’t say you do.

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

One thing on Friday, another on Wednesday

May 3rd, 2013 8:46 am | By

Last month a US district judge ordered the FDA to make the morning-after pill available to females of any age without a prescription. This week the Justice Department announced that it would appeal the ruling.

The judge’s ruling was in response to a lawsuit launched by the Center for Reproductive Rights.

The group was seeking to expand access to all brands of the morning-after pill over the counter, such as Plan B One-Step and Next Choice, so that females of all ages would be able to purchase them without a prescription.

Supporters of the ruling called it a landmark decision, while opponents raised concerns about safeguards being eliminated.

“Safeguards” against teenage girls being able to say no to being pregnant.

The New York Times weighs in.

Appearing before Planned Parenthood’s annual convention last Friday, President Obama pledged his continuing support for women’s reproductive rights. In a speech before the National Academy of Sciences on Monday, Mr. Obama promised to keep science a sphere “not subject to politics” or “skewed by an agenda.”

On Wednesday, his administration betrayed both reproductive rights and science. The Justice Department announced that it would appeal a federal court ruling that would make morning-after pills available without a prescription for girls and women of all ages.

In short he said one thing and did another.

In 2011, the secretary of health and human services, Kathleen Sebelius, overruled the Food and Drug Administration, which had decided, based on scientific evidence, that the pills would be safe and appropriate “for all females of child-bearing potential.” Ms. Sebelius arbitrarily determined that only women 17 and older should have access to the drug.

Then, last month, citing the political nature of Ms. Sebelius’s intervention and finding no “coherent justification” for it, Judge Edward Korman of United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York ordered the F.D.A. to make emergency contraceptives available over the counter to all women, with no age restrictions.

But no. We can’t have teenage girls saying no to pregnancy without someone’s permission – a doctor’s, their parents’, a priest’s - someone’s. The Times sums it up neatly.

Lack of access to safe contraception will not stop adolescents from having sex. Girls who have sex should not be punished with unintended pregnancies.

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

Gita Sahgal on Bangladesh and East London

May 2nd, 2013 4:54 pm | By

Gita Sahgal explains the situation in Bangladesh, at Open Democracy. (The page is almost unreadable, unfortunately - it’s got so much junk on it that only an average-length paragraph is visible at a time, which is irksome.)

The mass populist uprising occupying Shahbag in Dhaka, calling for ‘maximum punishment’  (the death penalty) for war criminals, was sparked by the triumphant V sign made by a convicted man. He saw his life sentence as a victory.  At first, the political parties courted the Shahbag movement, with the government promising to rush through legislation that  reflected its main demands – allowing the prosecution to challenge the sentence to make it harsher, and amending the law to enable  the Jamaat e Islami  to be put on trial as an organisation. The Jamaat-e-Islami, the largest Islamist political party in Bangladesh, responded to the conviction and death sentence of the Deputy leader of the party, Delawar Hussein Sayeedi, with a country-wide campaign of violence, with particularly vicious attacks on religious minorities, including killing Hindus and destroying temples and homes. Christian Bangladeshis also reported attacks, but in some cases people were too afraid to make an official report.

Abroad, the conviction was referred to as ‘judicial murder’, to capitalise on the revulsion against the death penalty. But Western criticism of the Tribunal process failed to note also that peaceful opposition to religious fundamentalism was met by death threats, assault and murder. All  opposition to them was labelled ‘atheists’, and a label that seemed intended to provoke mass revulsion, promote extra-judicial killings as well as create a climate for  laws criminalising blasphemy.

 Rajib, a young blogger, activist and professed atheist who was targeted online and then murdered,  has become an iconic figure in the movement. The fundamentalists have gone after a number of individual bloggers, beating people up and issuing death threats online or on mobiles. Labelling people as atheists, whether they are or not, puts them at risk of attack, and the bloggers have been targeted as atheists by both Muslim fundamentalists and the government.

I would like to see Scott Stephens explain how that comports with his claim that there is such a thing as “the humble insistence on the ineffability of the will of God in Islam.” If there is, why is it so utterly lost on such a huge number of the followers of Islam? Why are so many of those followers so thoroughly convinced that they know exactly what the will of god is?

In their defense, atheists, humanists and secularists  and declared April 25 anInternational Day to Defend Bangladesh’s Bloggers. With some more protests planned on 4th May in deference to the tragedy currently gripping Bangladesh.  The young bloggers need all the support they can get, for another fundamentalist group has arisen out of nowhere with a familiar list of fundamentalist demands.  On April 7 this group, Hefazat e Islam, staged a mammonth “long march” of half a million people to protest against the mixed sex, peaceful, candlelit gatherings in Shahbagh.  They made 13 demands,which contain many of familiar obsessions of fundamentalists. Apart from demanding a defamation law with the highest punishment ( in other words making blasphemy punishable by death) , Hefazat wants to declare Ahmadiyas to be non-Muslim, attacks practices such as candle lighting and putting up sculptures, opposes sexual mixing and “promotion of Islamophobia among the youth,” wants compulsory Islamic education at all levels and an end to “ungodly education, inheritance laws and unIslamic laws generally.”  Christian and other NGOs are attacked for proselytizing  and “an immediate and unconditional release of all detained Islamic scholars” is demanded.

There again – people (men) who are clearly convinced that they know god’s will and that they are authorized to impose it on anyone who disagrees. Where’s the effing ineffability in that?

These demands are nothing new to Bangladesh, where Islamists have been trying to get a blasphemy law passed since the early nineties, when they went after the writer Taslima Nasrin.

Two decades of cluelessness about the ineffability of god’s will.

And it’s happening in London too.

The conflict between Bangladeshi secularists and fundamentalists has spread to London’s East End where, on Feb. 8th, at Altab Ali Park, young demonstrators supporting Shahbagh clashed with men from the Jamaat-dominated East London mosque.  For older anti-racists, the scenes were remniscent of decades old battles where the police simply protected the aggressors ‘freedom of speech’ and right to threaten and intimidate.

Ah yes the “free speech” right to threaten and intimidate. We’re well familiar with that.

Thousands of leaflets have been distributed from the East London Mosque and across the world labelling prominent bloggers as atheists. Sermons have been read attacking atheists, Hindus and suggestive statements made regarding sexual assault. In Bangladesh, fundamentalists  paraded a banner which said, ‘we demand the death penalty for atheist bloggers because they use obscene language to criticise Allah, Mohammed and the Quran.’  Statements such as these, along with murderous attacks on atheist and free thinking bloggers, need to be considered alongside the leaflets identifying named individuals as atheists and accusing them of insulting religion, to see whether they amount to incitement to  murder. Fundamentalists consider it an obligation for believers to kill apostates; a recent Moroccan fatwa makes this very clear, as does the experience of an atheist from Bangladesh, applying for asylum in Canada.

It’s a very strong current we’re swimming against.

Update: h/t Unrepentant Jacobin on Twitter.

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

Yemisi does all the things!

May 2nd, 2013 11:34 am | By

We have a fantastic new blogger here – meet Yemisi Ilesanmi. I met her on Facebook a couple of months ago, and read up on her a little more via Google and thought wow…I wonder if she would like to join us. I shared my thought with the rest of FTB and they all thought wow too.

So I am stoked!

Check out her amazing bio:

Yemisi Ilesanmi is a Nigerian woman, resident in UK. She holds a Masters of Law (LL.M) degree in Gender, Sexuality and Human Rights. She is a trade unionist, human rights activist, an author, a poet and sometimes moonlights as a plus size model. She is a passionate campaigner for equal rights, social justice and poverty alleviation. Her debut book ‘Freedom To Love For ALL: Homosexuality is Not Un-African’ is available in paperback and kindle editions on Amazon (  In sometimes, what she thinks as a past life, she was-  – National Women leader/Assistant National Secretary, Nigeria Labour Party. – Vice President, International Trade Union Congress – Chairperson, ITUC Youth Committee   – International Labour Conference (ILC) Committee Member on Applications of Standards – Founder/President, National Association of Nigerian Female Students She is the founder and coordinator of the campaign group Nigerian LGBTIs in Diaspora Against Anti-Same Sex Laws.

Welcome Yemi!

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

Imad Iddine Habib

May 2nd, 2013 10:40 am | By

And another ex-Muslim atheist is under threat in another majority-Muslim country. This time the country is Morocco, which has Islam as the state religion, and the ex-Muslim atheist is Imad Iddine Habib, age 22.

He posted a message on Facebook on Tuesday.

Hey Everyone,

I would like to thank everyone who supported me, asked about me by any mean!
Those whom I didn’t reply didn’t add me as a friend, as I am blocked, I couldn’t reply at them!

Thank you All, you made me so proud of being part of this big and united family of rational and free thinkers!

Whatever my fate will be in the next hours, the next days, the next weeks; killed, beaten, jailed, or anything else, I am not sorry for what I have done since I became an activist few years ago, I have shared with many people here thoughts and ideas, and so many awesome memories.

Both police and people are looking for me, I have nowhere to go, my life is at high risk… However, I am Happy, because I am not the only one fighting for a better world, I hope I will be the last man persecuted because of Dogmatisms, Religions, or Myths.

Whatever I’ll be, KEEP FIGHTING, I love you all.

PS: There is no god but Minnie Mouse.

- Imad Iddine Habib.

All that and a sense of humor too.

Photo: Brave Ex Muslim  we support all of you   I am Imad Iddine Habib, from Morocco, I am a descendent of the pedo-prophet of Islam Muhammed, I became an Atheist since I was 14 years old, my sign says: "In my country people are jailed and harassed for being atheist. This photo may cost my life, or my freedom. But I insist to tell you: I AM PROUD TO BE AN ATHEIST! #FREE_SOKRAT #FREE_MEJRI Imad Iddine Habib- Morocco"

And a message from a supporter posted 8 hours ago.

I really want to express my deep sympathy for your courage to be who you are. Altho i am still a muslim i think that the free will and the expression of free will is a must for every human being. I’m a secular Muslim that thinks that a state shouldn’t interfere with any religion and has to be a neutral so it can defense every human being without looking to there religion.

It is sad that Morocco is still thinking that they can protect everyone with a state-religion.

Good luck with your fight and just always think that there are also progressive and secular Muslims supporting you and a lot of others atheist.

Grtz Carim Bouzian
Liberal Party Flanders – Belgium

Maryam has a post about him.

The last email the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain received from 22 year old Imad Iddine Habib, the founder of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Morocco (the first atheist organisation in a country with Islam as a state religion), spoke of more threats and a final warning from the Moroccan government.

In the email, he said:

My Father has been interviewed by secret agents at work, they asked him about my activities, my beliefs, my relations and if some foreigners visit me, and they told him that I have to stop, and that I am considered an enemy of the country by showing bad things about it … and [that] it is the last warning before they react.

Since then, he has gone into hiding after security officials raided a home to possibly arrest him.

Maryam to Morocco: hands off!

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain unequivocally condemns efforts of the Moroccan government to silence Imad. Rather, the government should be prosecuting those who threaten Imad and apostates with death, including members of Morocco’s High Council of Ulemas who recently issued a fatwa decreeing the death penalty for Moroccans leaving Islam.

This is our final warning to the Moroccan Government. Hands off Imad, prosecute those who threaten and incite murder, and respect freedom of expression and thought.

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain calls on all to condemn the Moroccan government and defend Imad.

On 15 May join us in defending Imad. He is all of us.

Count me in.

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

Ineffable? Really?

May 2nd, 2013 9:19 am | By

Scott Stephens, the editor of ABC’s (the Oz one) “religion & ethics” page (as if the two are automatically linked, and in no way antagonistic), takes a look at Dawkins and Twitter.

Yes well…as I’ve mentioned several times lately, I think Dawkins and Twitter are a bad mix. The reasons for my thinking that are encapsulated in the (hilarious) sequence a week or so ago which went

  1. provocative tweet
  2. heated responses
  3. tweet saying Twitter is not friendly to nuance

Provocative tweets can be fun, of course, but there’s provocative and then there’s provocative.

But then again the same can be said about nuance.

For instance Stephens on Dawkins’s provocative tweets about Islam.

The wilful ignorance capable of making such statements is not just dangerously uncritical, to the point that it can nestle comfortably alongside the vilest forms of bigotry and anti-Islamic sentiment; it is also inexcusably ahistorical. It evinces a deliberate effacement of the role played by Islam in the formation of modern science and the intellectual foundations of western civilisation as a whole. Moreover, it ignores the productive dynamism evident throughout the development of Islamic jurisprudence, as well as the complexity, and even beauty, of its formulations concerning gender and the constitution of a good and just society. [emphasis added]

That last bit, with the added emphasis, makes me want to punch something. He’s not subordinated by the “complexity, and even beauty, of its formulations concerning gender.” He wouldn’t be subordinated by them even if he lived in an Islamist theocracy. It’s easy for him to call those “formulations” complex and even beautiful. Theocratic “formulations” concerning gender are all about policing gender; that’s the whole point of them. The more policing, the more subordination of one gender in relation to the other.

And then the bullshit about the constitution of a good and just society. That sounds pretty, until you think about existing societies that are officially and overtly Islamic – and then you recoil.

But in the next paragraph it gets worse.

But acknowledging the history and profound humanism of the Islamic tradition – the belief that the realisation of goodness, beauty and peace on earth is indissociable from the true worship of God…

Spoken like a true god-botherer (and Stephens taught theology for years, and was once a parish minister). Humanism = the belief that the realisation of goodness, beauty and peace on earth is indissociable from the true worship of God. No! Absolutely fucking not. It is the opposite. It is the awareness that we are all we have and that we’re all on a level, in place of the anti-human idea that our real job is to worship a hidden magical being that we can’t have any kind of real access to. Making all the good things dependent on belief in the hidden magical being is an insult to all the humans who are realistic enough to notice that a hidden god might as well be a non-existent god as far as we’re concerned.

He talks more of the same kind of “paradoxical” bullshit toward the end.

The genius of the Judaism, Christianity and Islam in particular is their insistence on relativising every claim to self-sufficiency, as well as every attempt to establish political legitimacy by the bare exercise of power or by the refusal of any greater moral obligation. Whether it be the relentless critique of idolatry in Judaism, or the humble insistence on the ineffability of the will of God in Islam, or the manifestation of divine transcendence through self-giving love in Christianity, religious belief sharpens the polemical edge of political critique.

Backwards. The opposite of the truth. Head in the clouds denialism. If Islam is about “the humble insistence on the ineffability of the will of God” then why are all Islamist theocracies such bossy authoritarian shit-holes? If the will of Allah is ineffable why are the Bangladesh atheist bloggers under threat? Why are atheists in jail in Egypt and Indonesia, simply for being atheists? Why is Imad Iddine Habib in hiding in Morocco? Why is Walid Al-Husseini seeking asylum in Paris after spending 10 months in jail in Palestine for being an atheist?

Not because any of the persecutors think the will of Allah is ineffable.

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

Now that’s what I call sharp hearing

May 1st, 2013 5:45 pm | By

I was on the lower floor and Cooper was on the main floor, and I spotted a stray kibble on the floor. I never leave a stray kibble on the floor because I don’t like DOG SALIVA liberally spread all over said floor, so I picked it up and – decided not to put it in the kibble bin, because the slight noise of taking off the snap-on plastic lid would be sure to summon Cooper to stand around drooling heavily, thus causing more DOG SALIVA liberally spread all over the floor. Instead I put it in the metal scoop next to the bin – thinking as I did so “will he hear this? no of course not, much too faint, plus just a random sound.”

Plink. The instant the kibble hit the scoop with a very faint plink, Cooper shot into motion overhead and rocketed down the stairs. One kibble. Hitting a metal scoop with a tiny plink, on another floor of the house, and around the corner from the stairs. One tiny little plink, and half a second later there’s a dog drooling in front of me.


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

Well it beats waking up with a hangover

May 1st, 2013 11:07 am | By

It turns out that real women don’t need feminism, and that there’s a documentary that “undercuts any strength that might be attributed to the feminist worldview.”

Notable women’s advocate Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum explains it simply.

“The problem with feminism, I think the principal problem, is the cultivation of an attitude of victimization. Feminism tries to make women believe they are victims of an oppressive, male-dominated, patriarchal society. They wake up in the morning with a chip on their shoulder.”

Ah how familiar that sounds. I think I saw versions of it several times on Twitter alone just in the past few hours. It’s “Sisterhood of the Oppressed” and “Professional Victims” all over again – or rather, the other way around, since Schlafly has been at this since the ’70s.

That’s some stupid shit right there. Any movement for social change can be accused of that; so can any movement to resist social change. Movements to organize workers can be accused of that; campaigns to end sex trafficking can be accused of that; anything other than a bovine acceptance of whatever the status quo happens to be can be accused of that. Nevertheless it is permissible to look around you and think things could be better and try to make them better.

Being political isn’t the same thing as cultivating an attitude of victimization. Noticing ways that things could be improved is not the same thing as having a chip on your shoulder.

“The Monstrous Regiment of Women” explains that feminists tell women not to submit to a husband, avoid having children, listen to their “inner voice” and chase a career.

But the DVD’s voices say otherwise. They include Edinburgh University historian Sharon Adams, Jennie Chancey of Ladies Against Feminism, cadet Jane Doe, former abortion provider Carol Everett, homemaker Dana Feliciano, Buried Treasure Books writer Carmon Freidrich, “Domestic Tranquility” author F. Carolyn Graglia, John Knox biographer Rosalind Marshall, “Raising Maidens of Virtue” author Stacey McDonald, Schlafly and homemakers Denise Sproul and Kathleen Smith.

The women show how feminism’s twisted and irrational teaching has led to disaster for American women, pushing many into a frustrating, isolated existence.

They are calling today’s women back to a life filled with joy and beauty that can be found only by following God’s Word.

Notice what a large proportion of the women who “say otherwise” in fact have “chased a career” themselves.

But hey, they’re cultivating an attitude of victimization with all this complaining about the oppressive, female-dominated, matriarchal feminists. They wake up in the morning with a chip on their shoulder.

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

In a village in Afghanistan

May 1st, 2013 9:33 am | By

In a village in Afghanistan what? Not a potluck. Not a Chatauqua lecture. Not a quilting bee. Not heartwarming stories of crotchety but lovable neighbors and mischievous but lovable children and the dogs who love them all. No, the other thing – staring eyes, a woman who dishonored the universe by running away with a man (while the man simply had a good time), a father who asked the local “religious leaders” for advice, a fatwa, a mob, a murder of a woman by her own father in front of that mob.

The woman, who has two children, was shot dead on Monday 22 April by her father in front of a crowd of about 300 people in the village of Kookchaheel, in the Aabkamari district of Badghis province in north-western Afghanistan.

The woman, named Halima and believed to be between 18 and 20 years old, was accused of running away with a male cousin while her husband was in Iran. Her cousin returned Halima to her relatives 10 days after running away with her. His whereabouts are unknown.

“Violence against women continues to be endemic in Afghanistan and those responsible very rarely face justice,” said Horia Mosadiq, Afghanistan researcher at Amnesty International.

The killing came after three of the village’s religious leaders, allegedly linked to the Taliban, issued a fatwa (religious edict) that Halima should be killed publicly, after her father sought their advice about his daughter’s elopement.

Good neighbors.

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

Mo has been getting pointers

May 1st, 2013 8:53 am | By

He must be following Mehdi Hasan on Twitter.



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

Record-straightening time

Apr 30th, 2013 1:49 pm | By

Update: A helpful informant got curious and did a little digging on Vacula’s timeline and came up with…quite a lot of Vacual prodding me to go on his podcast, just since March 3 – less than two months. To wit:

Mar 3, 6:35 PM Vacula: “Ophelia, you should be guest on future show”

Mar 3, 6:38 PM Porter: “we would love to have your humor @OpheliaBenson and TY for all the promotion.”

Mar 4, 2:18 PM Benson: “And no, I’m not calling in to your stupid podcast.”

Mar 4, 2:20 PM Vacula: “You wouldn’t want to have a candid productive conversation outside of Twitter? :(

Mar 23, 7:27 PM Vacula: “45 chatters – too bad Ophelia Benson won’t call in, but she was a great promoter of our show!(Zvan, too, irrc)”

Mar 31, 6:20 PM Vacula: “Apparently, it’s OK to have a “Fuck the Pope” sign at #aacon13 – What if the sign said “Fuck Ophelia Benson?”"

Apr 5, 4:35 PM Vacula: “Happy to have discussion w picking up the phone – @opheliabenson too – Ophelia has my cell#”

Apr 5, 4:37 PM Vacula: “I’d be happy to talk – Ophelia refuses, though, invited her on podcast in July of 2012″

Apr 5, 4:39 PM Vacula: “When i was appointed to SCA position all of the haters had my cell# from press release (1/2)”

Apr 5, 4:40 PM Vacula: “Not one of the #ftbullies bothered to ask me questions, pick up the phone (2/2)”

Apr 5, 4:45 PM Vacula: “Hopefully people will want to have civil discussion @ #WIScfi -Really excited for convention”

Apr 27, 2:47 PM Vacula: “@opheliabenson – Your blog post mentioning @karla_porter gave me a good giggle. Tune in to #BraveHero Radio tonight and consider calling!”

Apr 27, 2:56 PM Porter: “Seriously, please call in @opheliabenson.”

Apr 27, 5:14 PM Vacula: “@opheliabenson We’d love to have her on the show. Too bad she’s unwilling to have discussion – but she is welcome regardless”

Apr 28, 12:59 PM Vacula: “Too bad Ophelia won’t come on #BraveHero but we appreciate early promo. Maybe she will chat at #wiscfi ?”

I saw some of those, and ones before March 3, and that is why that “Maybe she will chat at #wiscfi?” made me think he really did have a plan to get up in my face at WiS2 and try to force me to “chat” with him. I do not want that, so I attempted to pre-empt him by telling him not to.

Who, exactly, is “witch-hunting” here? Which of us, exactly, is harassing the other? Which of us is it who refuses to leave the other alone?

Vacula commenting on his own post:

It’s been quiet for the last two weeks or so, I think, but now PZ and Ophelia are fanning the flames once again. Along with their commenters, a threat narrative and an attempt to ban me from Women in Secularism 2/kick me out of the conference is being mounted. I’m not going to stand by and ignore what’s going on.

That’s staggeringly dishonest. This, again, is what started the “flames.”


Justin Vacula tweets

@opheliabenson – Your blog post mentioning @karla_porter gave me a good giggle. Tune in to #BraveHero Radio tonight and consider calling!

Karla Porter tweets

@justinvacula Seriously, please call in @opheliabenson.

Justin Vacula tweets

@karla_porter@opheliabenson We’d love to have her on the show. Too bad she’s unwilling to have discussion – but she is welcome regardless

And then -


Justin Vacula tweets

@caias@OpheliaBenson@karla_porter Too bad Ophelia won’t come on #BraveHero but we appreciate early promo. Maybe she will chat at #wiscfi ?

I saw all of that only because some guy I don’t know included me in a reply to that tweet.

I am not the one who “fanned the flames” again.

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

We’ve learned critical thinking too well?

Apr 30th, 2013 11:37 am | By

Oh really?

Critical thinking has so thoroughly colonized our idea of education that we tend to think it’s the only kind of thinking. Tests try to measure it, and ritzy private schools all claim to teach it. Critical thinking–analysis, not mere acceptance–is a skill we can all learn. And we’ve learned it too well.

Really? Really? Who, where?

That’s an article at The American Conservative, by Eve Tushnet. (She must have had a difficult childhood.)

We’ve learned only critical thinking skills, and not the equally challenging skills of prudent acceptance: We don’t even realize that we need to learn when to say yes, and to what.

Is that right? I see people all around who do lots of accepting, prudent or otherwise.

What we don’t teach, and don’t even consider as something worth teaching, is the art of acceptance. The art of accepting somebody else’s thoughts, words, insights, and dwelling in them until they become your own as well. We don’t teach how to tell when you’re sure enough, when you really should take the leap of faith, when you should say, “Yes, my understanding is totally inadequate, but I believe.”

Who’s “we”? People are taught that in church and Sunday school, and outside them too, all the time. “Faith” is a hooray word in the US.

Nobody can live by critical thinking alone. And so we wait, and we keep our options endlessly open, hoping that some lightning-strike revelation will take the decision out of our hands. “When I met your mother I just knew…” “And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus, and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven….” We hope that we will be transported over doubt to a place of secure faith. It turns out that this does happen sometimes–just enough to tantalize the many people who long for the moment of undeniable, irrefutable knowledge and never receive it.

Oh, please. Yes of course it happens sometimes, and often disaster results. People who think they “just know” things can be very dangerous; people who realize they don’t are less likely to be dangerous in that way.

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

A blessing to the babies

Apr 30th, 2013 10:13 am | By

An Iowa anti-abortion fanatic muses aloud on YouTube that it would be quite a good thing if someone killed the people who recently reopened a Kansas abortion clinic.

[Dave] Leach posted the comments this month on YouTube. His posting includes a recorded phone conversation he had with another man, whom Leach identifies as abortion opponent Scott Roeder. Roeder is serving a life prison sentence for the 2009 shooting death of the Wichita clinic’s then-owner, Dr. George Tiller.

Leach has previously suggested that other men were justified in killing other abortion providers. He notes in the video that Tiller’s old clinic was recently reopened by a new abortion agency.

“If someone would shoot the new abortionists, like Scott shot George Tiller, … hardly anyone will appreciate it but the babies,” he says. “It will be a blessing to the babies. Everyone else will panic. Of all places to open up a killing office, to reopen the one office in the United States more notorious for decades than any other is an act of defiance against God and the last remaining reverence for human life.”

I don’t think he gives one shit about reverence for human life. I think he just wants to see some people killed, and abortion is his pretext and fig leaf.

I think that’s often the case with murderous “activists” and “extremists.” I think the love of violence comes first, and then the “cause” is found and used to justify it.

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

Ireland to Marie Fleming: you HAVE to stay alive and suffer

Apr 29th, 2013 11:05 am | By

She’s allowed to commit suicide, because suicide was decriminalized in Ireland in 1993. But she has MS, so she can’t commit suicide, and what the state won’t allow is help from someone else.

That’s exactly the situation Eric MacDonald’s wife Elizabeth was in. It’s a bad situation. Knowing you’re going to become ever more disabled, and that the more disabled you are the more suicide becomes physically impossible – it’s terrifying. It could happen to any of us, and it’s terrifying.

Ms Fleming, a former lecturer from County Wicklow, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1986.

She is cared for by her partner, Tom Curran, and has two adult children.

The four-day appeal hearing was told that she is in the final stages of MS, can only move her head, cannot swallow and lives in constant pain.

Her legal team argued that the ban on assisted suicide is discriminatory towards severely disabled people.

Lawyers for Ms Fleming told the court that she should be given the same right to die by suicide as an able-bodied person.

But the court ruled no.

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

Annals of horror

Apr 29th, 2013 10:50 am | By

Update: Notice (as I didn’t until prodded) that the date on the item is August 24, 2011. Still worth knowing about.

One for the Jaw Dropped in Horror files. A Pennsylvania judge sent children to prison in exchange for money.

Accused of perpetrating a “profound evil,” former Pennsylvania judge Mark Ciavarella Jr. has been sentenced to 28 years in prison for illegally accepting money from a juvenile-prison developer while he spent years incarcerating thousands of young people.

Prosecutors said Ciavarella sent juveniles to jail as part of a “kids for cash” scheme involving Robert Mericle, builder of the PA and Western PA Child Care juvenile detention centers.

What does that sound like? The Catholic church in Ireland, and judges who helped it get capitation money for children sentenced to imprisonment in industrial “schools.” Yes really. They did it partly for the money – money which they did not fully spend on the children.

Among the young people exploited by Ciavarella were 15-year-old Hillary Transue, who was sentenced to three months at a juvenile detention center for mocking an assistant principal on a MySpace page; and 13-year-old Shane Bly, who was sent to a boot camp for two weekends after being accused of trespassing in a vacant building.

Jaw dropping.

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

Being a target

Apr 28th, 2013 5:11 pm | By

I was out all afternoon and now I can’t get caught up.

This morning, on the page o’ nonstop bullshit, I added this:

April 28 part deux because I missed it before -


Justin Vacula tweets

@caias@OpheliaBenson@karla_porter Too bad Ophelia won’t come on #BraveHero but we appreciate early promo. Maybe she will chat at #wiscfi ?

Ok this is specifically for Vacula: do not approach me at WiS2. Stay away from me.

As you know, ignoring such instructions is grounds for removal. If you don’t stay away from me I will make an official complaint.


I also sent Vacula a direct message on Facebook -

Justin Vacula - 

I saw the tweet in which you said maybe I will chat [with you] at WiS2. I want to be very clear about this. Do not approach me at WiS2. Stay away from me. As you know, refusal is grounds for being expelled. If you do approach me I will make an official complaint, immediately.


He didn’t reply. Instead he tweeted about it, and did a blog post about it, quoting the message (without permission, of course). The blog post is packed to the rafters with utter (and typical) bullshit.

In the meantime PZ had done a post, quite soon after mine, saying the same thing -

I’m going to be at Women in Secularism in a few weeks, which I expect to be great. However, certain nuisances are talking about approaching the people they’ve been harassing online for years, and trying to harass them in real life, getting them to be grist for their podcast mill. Ophelia has made a clear declaration:

Ok this is specifically for Vacula: do not approach me at WiS2. Stay away from me.

That goes for me, too. If you’ve been nattering away on twitter & podcasts & blogs about how evil I am, how useless feminism is, and how much you hate freethoughtblogs in general, we have no grounds for any conversation, so stay the hell away from me. I won’t bother you, you won’t bother me.

I won’t be exchanging a single word with Vacula, or any of his fellow travelers.

Vacula’s post also complained about PZ’s.

Ok, why? Why complain? We both want him to leave us alone. That’s all. Why complain about that? Why try to force people to “engage with” you? (The very thing he advised people not to do if they don’t want to be harassed – don’t “engage with” your “critics.”) It’s not as if we’re friends, or former friends; it’s not as if he likes us; it’s not as if he has any reason to expect us to like him. He certainly has no reason to expect me to like him, since he’s done nothing to/about/in the direction of me except lie and harass and sneer; why the fuck would I like him or want to talk to him?

As so often, the childishness is astonishing. “I didn’t touch you! That was my shoe! You touched me first! I can touch you if I want to!”

He had the astonishing brass to tell me on Facebook that all I had to do was say “no thanks.” What?! I’ve said “no thanks” to Vacula repeatedly over the past almost-a-year; it did not work! Just telling Justin Vacula, “no thanks, I don’t want you harassing me,” does not cause him to stop harassing me.


Harass harass harass, all the livelong day.

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

Mehdi Hasan challenges the bigots, fanatics and reactionaries of the Islamic world

Apr 28th, 2013 11:03 am | By

Fair’s fair. I looked around for more by Mehdi Hasan, and found a piece he did for Huffington Post UK last August, telling off the “blasphemy” laws in Pakistan. It’s much more liberal than what he’s been saying on Twitter for the past three days.

I, for one, am fed up with politicians, mullahs and mobs using my religion to further their own vicious and sectarian agendas. So here’s my own very simple message to the bigots, fanatics and reactionaries of the Islamic world: whatever intellectual or theological disagreements we may have with them, the fact is that Christians (and, for that matter, Jews) are our brethren; the Quran respectfully refers to them as the “People of the Book“.  Nor should we extend our tolerance, compassion and solidarity only to members of Abrahamic faiths while demonising and discriminating against everyone else. Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, agnostics, atheists – all of them are also our brethren. Don’t believe me? Listen to the verdict of Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib, the great Muslim caliph and son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad: “Remember that people are of two kinds; they are either your brothers in religion or your brothers in mankind.”

The imprisonment of this Christian child isn’t only about Pakistan or Pakistanis. Those of us who claim to be members of a global Muslim ummah cannot be silent when such flagrant human-rights abuses are committed in the name of Islam and in the world’s second-biggest Muslim-majority nation. Denial is not an option, nor is turning a blind eye. We have to speak out against hate, intolerance and the bullying of non-Muslim minorities – otherwise we risk becoming complicit in such crimes. “Not in my name” has to be more than just an anti-war slogan.

That’s good. But then why is he so furious with Maryam and the Council of Ex-Muslims and the CEMB forum? And, for that matter, me? I don’t know. But I’m glad to see that article.

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

Cracks? What cracks?

Apr 28th, 2013 10:40 am | By

One of the owners of the factory building that collapsed in Dhaka has been arrested; he’d been in hiding ever since the building fell down.

There has been widespread anger at the disaster and six people, including three factory owners and two engineers, have now been arrested. The building housed several garment factories.

By Sunday evening the confirmed death toll had reached 377, but hundreds more are still missing.

Well that would explain the anger. That’s a lot of people.

Police said officials had ordered an evacuation of the building on Tuesday after cracks appeared, but that the factories ignored them and were operating the next day.

That would explain the anger even better.

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

Stuff and Nonsense on the track record of the anti-vax movement

Apr 28th, 2013 9:40 am | By

Have a useful post listing times the anti-vaccination movement has been wrong.

Anti-vaccinationists have made a wide range of claims about the dangers of vaccines. In spite of the fact that they have generally had neither data nor a plausible mechanism for the claimed effect, several of their claims have been investigated by researchers.

As it turns out, the anti-vaccinationists are remarkably consistent. Time and time again, they are shown to be wrong. I’m not sure how many times a group needs to be wrong before people stop seeing them as credible. Perhaps people need to be reminded of how many times this group has been wrong?

So there are some reminders.

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