Notes and Comment Blog

Our short and pithy observations on the passing scene as it relates to the mission of Butterflies and Wheels. Woolly-headed or razor-sharp comments in the media, anti-rationalist rhetoric in books or magazines or overheard on the bus, it’s all grist to our mill. And sometimes we will hold forth on the basis of no inspiration at all beyond what happens to occur to us.

No one wants to hear the whiny sound of a female voice

Oct 30th, 2012 12:00 pm | By

Australian broadcast journalist Tracey Spicer wrote an open letter to Mr Misogynist to thank him for all he’s taught her over the years.

There was the sage advice

from a radio boss during a job interview some years ago.

He put it simply yet eloquently: ”There’s a reason why you don’t hear women on  commercial talkback radio,” he said. ”No one wants to hear the whiny sound of  a female voice. Us blokes get enough nagging at home!”

Yeeah. And blokes are the only people who listen to radio, and all of them “get nagging at home,” and all female voices are whiny, and and and.

On another occasion,

”Anyway Trace. You’re getting a bit long in the tooth. Why don’t you give  some of the younger girls an opportunity?”

Suddenly, all the lights went on. And it was so bright – it made your light  look like a limp insipid flicker.

This is difficult for me to put into words but if I had to, it would sound a  bit like this: Fuck you.

Fuck you, you misogynist bully with your archaic beliefs…

There are, predictably, comments saying that’s not misogyny. Yes it is. It’s contemptuous and dismissive, and that’s misogyny.

The letter went viral.



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

The theodicy of eating one’s children

Oct 30th, 2012 10:48 am | By

And speaking of theodicy…Chris Hallquist tweeted about Biblical books with references to God making people eat their own family members. Oh? Yes. He provided a link.

“And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat.” — Leviticus 26:29

“And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters.” — Deuteronomy 28:53

“And toward her young one that cometh out from between her feet, and toward her children which she shall bear: for she shall eat them.” — Deuteronomy 28:57

“And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they shall eat every one the flesh of his friend.” — Jeremiah 19:9

“Therefore the fathers shall eat the sons in the midst of thee, and the sons shall eat their fathers.” — Ezekiel 5:10

“I will not feed you: that that dieth, let it die; and that that is to be cut off, let it be cut off; and let the rest eat every one the flesh of another.” — Zechariah 11:9

Pretty. On the one hand God floods cities because HoMoSeckShuals, on the other hand God causes people to eat their own children.

Nothing at all crude or primitive or harsh about that.

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

The Holy God of Israel will judge

Oct 30th, 2012 10:11 am | By

It’s reassuring to see that the theodicists are on the job. They know why Sandy, and they’re letting us know. Sandy of course is because the homosexuals. John McTernan knows.

I want to clear something up. I am not saying this super destructive hurricane was because of the homosexual act. The Holy God of Israel will judge individuals for their sinful acts.

What I am saying is the judgment is for the government promoting homosexual “marriage” as an ordinance. Once a nation legalizes sin, like abortion and homosexual “marriage”: that nations falls under the direct judgment of the Holy God of Israel. God does not destroy a nation right away but first warns.

Also, The judgment comes from more than homosexuality. Abortion and pressuring Israel to divide God’s covenant land also brings severe judgment. He has been warning for many years, which I have documented in my book As America Has Done to Israel. This book only documents judgments regarding Israel. It does not touch homosexuality or abortion. I have posted these events on my blog as they were happening.

It now appears that the warnings for God are coming to an end, and the destructive judgments have arrived.

It’s not a storm, it’s a message in the form of a destructive judgment. Same sex marriage therefore lower Manhattan flooded. (How does John McTernan know that’s a message and judgment on same sex marriage rather than bankers and brokers? Lower Manhattan is Wall Street more than it’s Same sex marriage Central.)

America has not repented of promoting the homosexual agenda so the judgments will not stop. You can be angry with me, but it does not change that America has fallen under the judgment hand of the Holy God of Israel. God will not tolerate homosexual “marriage”. It is the end of the line with sin.

How does he know? How does he know it’s about the homosexual agenda and not about the rise in inequality or the power of lobbyists or reality tv or traffic?

America promotes homosexuality by custom with events such as Gay Pride Day, Gay Awareness Month (June), Gay day at Disney land, Gay Day at sporting events and events like Southern Decadence in New Orleans . There are gay clubs in high school and colleges. The political parties are pandering to the homosexuals for their votes. By custom, homosexuality has woven into the fabric of America .

America is continually making ordinances to advance the homosexual agenda. Sodomites can legally marry in California and Massachusetts while many states recognize civil unions. Homosexuals are now able to adopt children and gain custody of children during a divorce. There are now numerous hate speech laws which are being used to silence opposition to the homosexual agenda. America is a long way down the road to enacting all the Ordinances of the Amorites.

The Bible warns of God judging a nation that walks in these ordinances. When the corporate attitude of a nation is friendly toward homosexuality then at this point the iniquity is full. It is apparent that “the cup” of America ’s sin is rapidly filling up. Americans hardly blush anymore at fornication and adultery.

Something tells me John McTernan is not the most sex-positive guy in the world.


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

In the Freethinker

Oct 29th, 2012 4:51 pm | By

Oh look, my first column for the Freethinker is online.

It starts with…

National Public Radio’s religious affairs reporter Barbara Bradley Hagerty did a story about the reactionary (not that she used that word) trend in the Catholic Church the other day. She spoke to the Bishop of Lincoln (Nebraska), who told her that when it comes to doctrines, the church is not a democracy.

“These are not open to votes,” Bruskewitz said. “These are what God has revealed, and the custody of that revelation is of course in the possession of the Church.”

Bruskewitz said the Church can’t compromise its views just because the secular world doesn’t like them.

And then it goes on.


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

A thoughtful, fair, reasoned profile of the worst woman in the universe

Oct 29th, 2012 3:51 pm | By

This is a parody. I am being sarcastic. No bison were harmed in the making of this parody.

I have a question. It is this. Why does this one woman that I hate and that a lot of people hate get so much sexist abuse via the Internet? Why why oh why?

While this post applies to several prominent and outspoken women in the atheist community that I hate, I’m going to focus on this one woman because she seems to be the easiest target for most of the sexist online vitriol. Her name is Annabelle Jones and everybody hates her, including me. That makes it much easier for me to focus on her, because there is so much hate of her sloshing around out there already that I don’t have to think, I can just type. All those other prominent and outspoken women in the atheist community that I hate are just as bad though, don’t make any mistake about that. You know who they are. We all know who they are. We all hate them. Right? Right? We all hate those prominent outspoken women. Who doesn’t hate prominent outspoken women? I ask you.

First of all, let me say this. If you’re engaging in anything other than legitimate criticism of her arguments or behavior, I beg you to stop. Don’t be mean. It demonstrates to people who already despise atheists that atheists are immoral, and confirms their worst fears.

There, now that’s out of the way, I’ll explain why Annabelle Jones (whom I hate) gets so much sexist abuse. I do not believe that Jones is getting trolled because she’s a woman. Many vocal women on the Internet do not get any negative sexual attention, provided they haven’t been vocal on the Internet for too long. And oddly enough, it works like this: the less you care or protest, the less online abuse you get. If you don’t care or protest at all, it totally doesn’t happen. Except when it does, of course, but that’s hardly ever, unless you’ve been around for more than a month or two. So there you go. When you get sexist abuse, just don’t say a word about it, and it will have never happened.

Having said all that, here are the reasons I see for Jones’s abuse that have little to do with her gender:

1. Prior misconduct, such as making a joke on a forum once;

2. Online attacks — which is a thing I would never do in a million years;

3. Attacks from the speaker’s platform — she disagreed with someone in the audience this one time;

4. Attacks from other feminists on her behalf;

5. Hypocrisy: for example, using female sexuality to get attention, then blaming others for noticing female sexuality once the goal is achieved;

6. A condescending attitude toward anyone who disagrees with her;

7. An inability to accept criticism and deal with it productively;

8. Use of abusive language and gendered slurs;

9. Mistakes in presentations and speeches, going off-topic;

10. Lack of expertise or experience in many of the areas she speaks about, poor fact-checking;

11. Celebrity that many deem to be undeserved;

12. Perceived dishonesty;

13. Inability to take on a true leadership role;

14. Failure to address topics of concern to the majority of the community;

15. Immaturity;

16. Sexism;

17. Consistent troll-feeding behavior;

18. Taking the last pizza roll;

19. Parking tickets;

20. Wearing glasses;

21. Jokes;

22. Breathing;

23. Being prominent and outspoken.

This is the short list. The long list numbers 47,581,329.

Hat tip: Maria Maltseva.

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

Go look for the big old mess

Oct 29th, 2012 2:37 pm | By

Jonah Lehrer. Recycling old material aka self-plagiarism. Not correcting mistakes. A culture that fosters and rewards such things. Science writing. Carl Zimmer draws them all together in order to talk about the difficulty of doing good science writing and why it’s important to keep it in mind.

I was willing to cut Lehrer some slack at first, but as the additional evidence came in, I wondered if I was making excuses for him. The breaking point came when I read about how he had warped a story about a memory prodigy, claiming that he had memorized all of Dante’s Inferno instead of just the first few lines. When someone noted the error, Lehrer blamed it on his editor, but kept on using the enhanced version of the story in his own blog and on Radiolab (which later had to correct their podcast). It’s easy to slip up with facts, but we have an obligation to admit when we’re wrong and not make the same mistake again. It would have been bad enough that Lehrer distorted the facts and continued to do so after having the facts pointed out to him. But he was also willing to damage other people’s reputations along the way. That’s when I signed off.

Really. Don’t mess with Radiolab.

The problem, Zimmer goes on, isn’t (as silly generalizations would have it) that all popular writing about neuroscience is crappy self-help, but “the trouble that arises when a science writer reduces complex science to a glib lesson.” Take Lehrer’s 2010 New Yorker article “The Decline Effect and the Scientific Method” for instance.

For years, a lot of scientists and science writers alike have grown concerned that flashy studies often turn out to be wrong. But Lehrer leaped to a flashy conclusion that science itself is hopelessly flawed.

That makes for great copy (29,000 people liked the story on Facebook), for which I’m sure his editors were grateful. But Lehrer himself didn’t believe what he was writing. If scientific studies were fundamentally unreliable, then why did he continue to publish articles and a book full of emphatic claims about how the brain works–all based on those same supposedly unreliable studies?

My guess is that it’s because both “work” so the fact that they contradict each other is beside the point.

The reality is more complicated. After Lehrer’s piece came out, the Columba statistician Andrew Gelman was asked what he thought of it. “My answer is Yes, there is something wrong with the scientific method,” he wrote–adding (and this is crucial)–”if this method is defined as running experiments and doing data analysis in a patternless way and then reporting, as true, results that pass a statistical significance threshold.”

In other words, this is not a matter about which we should simply issue Milan-Kundera-like utterances, like Lehrer does in his article: “Just because an idea is true doesn’t mean it can be proved. And just because an idea can be proved doesn’t mean it’s true. When the experiments are done, we still have to choose what to believe.” In fact, this is a matter of statistical power, experimental design, posterior Bayesian distributions, and other decidely unsexy issues (Gelman explains the gory details in this American Scientist article [pdf]).

I love the Milan Kundera line; all the more because I hate glib pronouncements like Lehrer’s. It’s so easy to say things like that.

Zimmer goes on to explain the impossibility of explaining that kind of complexity in a 1500 word piece, and what is to be done about it.

Writers can either tackle this dilemma with eyes wide open, or they can look for a way to cut corners and pretend that the dilemma doesn’t exist. And readers can improve things too. When you find yourself captivated by someone talking to you about science in a way that makes you feel like everything’s wonderfully clear and simple (and conforms to your own way of looking at the world), turn away and go look for the big old mess.


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

Disengage and write about another topic (or stop writing)

Oct 29th, 2012 11:47 am | By

Vacula also wanted attention from Stephanie, so like me, she obliged. Unlike me, she read the whole post, which I lacked the motivation or interest to do. It’s good that she did, because she looked at one passage that is quite sinister. Vacula wrote:

Whether we consider classrooms, internet forums/blogs, or the hostile climate against atheists, it should be understood that nasty people exist. The nastiness is, of course, unfortunate. We can work to change this nastiness and hope that people will be nice, but this just isn’t the case and likely won’t be in the near future. We should, then, make responsible decisions based on our environments. If you don’t get along with another student in class, avoid interactions with that student.

Ah but mere not getting along is not the issue. (How I do keep repeating that, don’t I. That’s because they keep misrepresenting what the issue is. It’s not disagreement, it’s not dissent, it’s not criticism, it’s not not getting along. It’s not. That’s not it.) Mere not getting along is not the issue. The issue is a determined campaign of persecution.

That’s different, you see. You can’t avoid it by simply avoiding interactions with that student. The student pursues you, to pursue the determined campaign of persecution. You can’t avoid it unless you leave the school altogether, and maybe not even then.

Also, we already know that what Vacula says is bad public policy. It’s a cowardly do-nothing failure. Teachers and principals who tell a persecuted student to just “avoid interactions” with the persecutor are not doing their jobs. Their job is to make the persecutor stop, not to make the persecuted hide.

It’s not “responsible” to decide that because you are being persecuted, it is your duty to stop doing what you were doing when the persecutor decided to target you. It’s responsible to stay off the road during a hurricane; it’s responsible to evacuate low-lying areas as a hurricane approaches; it is not responsible to decide not to say things because there are vicious people who will respond by calling you a fucking cunt.

Vacula went on:

If you can’t handle negative feedback online and have received it many times, disengage and write about another topic (or stop writing).

Ah well now that really is blunt. Thank you. Now we know where we are. If you “can’t handle” being called a fucking cunt, then stop writing.

Those are our choices. Be called a fucking cunt, and ugly, old, fat; be photoshopped; be misrepresented and lied about; be relentlessly harassed via Twitter and trolling; or stop writing.

That’s just how it is. We were irresponsible enough to decide to be women, so there it is. We can write, or we can avoid constant harassment; we can’t do both. As Stewart said yesterday (and Stephanie quoted him): The real message is “being a woman does not entitle you to protection from the extra hostility you get for being a woman.”


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

Of course we do!

Oct 29th, 2012 10:16 am | By

Ahahahaha – I just watched our new neighbor’s Noah’s Ark again. He’s such a genius.


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

LSE and ex-Muslims

Oct 29th, 2012 9:32 am | By

The LSE Student Union Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society has replied to the Student Union’s rejection of ASH’s request to change their name to the LSESU Atheist, Secularist, Humanist and Ex-Muslim Society.

We are glad that you acknowledge that the situation of ex-Muslim students is precarious and deserving of special attention, and that they are in need of a “safe space.” On a less enthusiastic note, we are saddened by the fact that you did apparently not consult with ex-Muslims before taking your decision, as Imtiaz had proposed.

We also appreciate your concern about the safety of ex-Muslims, but disagree with your contention that adding “ex-Muslim” to our name would in fact create an unsafe space for ex-Muslim students, in the sense that they would be marked out. The risk of danger that ex-Muslims face in many places does not exist on our safe, quite secure and liberal campus. If we were to follow this line of thought, we should also do away with the LGBT Society and LGBT events, since they also face danger from extremists in this very country – their events have suffered attacks from bigots in the past.

On a related note, we would like to point out that the situation of LGBT people in many countries is quite similar to that of ex-Muslims, in that they also face persecution and lack support options, and we seek a safe space for ex-Muslims for similar reasons.

This safe space must be as accessible as possible. Like any minority group, ex-Muslims will benefit greatly from a kindred community where they can expect support, representation and a wealth of analogous experience. The credibility and stature of such a fellowship in an ex-Muslim student’s eyes would gain immensely from a permanent, emphatic statement of commitment to their interests, which is precisely what our change seeks to establish. As such, it is important that we specifically include “ex-Muslims” in our name. Our idea has already received the endorsement of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and the London Ex-Muslim Collaboration, whose calls for greater attention to the ex-Muslim plight are corroborated by reams of empirical and anecdotal evidence that document the unrivalled alienation, estrangement and despair that define the ex-Muslim experience.

I wonder if the Student Union consulted with the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and the London Ex-Muslim Collaboration before replying to ASH. If it did it must have ignored their advice. That seems high-handed.

With regard to your proposal to change our name to substitute this change for “ex-religious”, we feel that this would defy the purpose of the name change, as explained in our initial statement and above. Our name already implies ex-religious, and the case for ex-Muslims is a separate one entirely. We are in agreement that ex-Muslims are a specific group with different needs to other ex-religious people due to their unique situation, and consequently they are in have a more pressing need for representation and a safe space than other ex-religious groups. The reports of many of our ex-Muslim members and friends testify to this need for special attention.

I wonder if the SU will reconsider. That would be sensible of it.

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


Oct 28th, 2012 6:44 pm | By

I have friends stranded in Nashville. I have friends battening down hatches all over the East Coast and up into Canada.

Good luck, best wishes, chin up, hope you’re all where you want to be and comfortable soon.


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

Better than a brontosaurus theory

Oct 28th, 2012 4:35 pm | By

Aaron James has a theory of assholes. That sounds like a useful thing to have. I don’t really have one. I have a lot of fragments of theories, but I don’t think they add up to one theory; more like a box of scattered needles.

There’s an excerpt in Salon.

Assholes largely share a thick sense of moral entitlement…[T]he asshole in more recent modern life often requires little or no pretext of larger cause for the special privileges he feels entitled to enjoy. He will usually have some sort of rationalization ready at hand — he is not the psychopath who rejects moral concepts altogether — but the rationalizations are becoming ever thinner, ever more difficult to identify. This newer, purer style of asshole often just presumes he should enjoy special privileges in social life as a matter of course and so requires little by way of reason for taking them as the opportunity arises.

A Fox News guy called Neil Cavuto is a classic asshole. He asks a guest questions and then won’t let him answer.

This is at the very least an asshole move. One often can permissibly shift attention in a conversation, but here it is at best unclearly justified. Interrupting Blackwell several times and then accusing him of not answering his question does not count as even half-cooperative discourse, not even by the low standards of American politics. Even that would not have been so bad if Cavuto had meant to initiate something like a meta- conversation between the two speakers…Cavuto betrays no hint of metacooperation. He simply feels entitled not to wait his conversational turn. He does not have to actually listen to an opposing perspective, even from the person he is talking to. Cavuto could perhaps argue that the host must exert heavy control over the terms of debate, because polite terms will not do. Or maybe he feels justified in his bullying as long as he is scoring points in a kind of televised game show, with influence, profit, and fun as his justly deserved reward. Either rationale could constitute a sense of entitlement — something like the right to rule, or at least to shut the opposition out, while taking the moral high ground.

Does that sound familiar? Yes.

It is not just Fox News commentators but Fox News itself that has the appropriate, in-your-face, I’m-entitled-to-do-this, especially-because-you-dislike-it vibe.

And that sounds familiar squared – that sounds as familiar as the inside of your eyelids. If you dislike it, I will do it; thus spake the toddler.

Roger Ailes: another classic asshole.

If we ask why Ailes fought so long and so hard for all this, however, the answer is not simply the ample rewards. His victory lap comment also suggests fundamental contempt. It suggests contempt not just for his competitors but for a society of people who have always counted on news with a lot of information shaped by a good-faith attempt at impartial presentation. Our fundamental need in a democratic society, for each of us to make up our own mind, now goes unmet by the whole media environment. It reflects not the minds of equals deliberating together about what together to do but the tenor and voice of a single asshole’s mind.

There’s a lot of that going around – the single asshole’s mind poisoning a whole sector.

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

Another demand for attention

Oct 28th, 2012 2:47 pm | By

Justin Vacula wants us to pay attention to his new blog post. I skimmed it and don’t think I want to pay any more attention to it than that, but if you want to, knock yourselves out. (It seems to boil down to “if you’re not willing to be called a fucking cunt then don’t say anything that might prompt someone to call you a fucking cunt.” I think that’s a very stupid and retrograde approach.)

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

The Searchers

Oct 28th, 2012 1:03 pm | By

How about a spot of movie discussion? I’ve been meaning to see The Searchers again for years, having not seen it since childhood (several centuries ago, as we all know). I remember finding it quite haunting as a child. I’ve seen bits of it many times since then, of course, especially the famous closing scene, which I think fully deserves its famosity, or what people call its “iconic” status. Ok they can call it that, because it is sort of literally iconic. It’s visual.

But the opening scene is pretty god damn iconic too – and of course it’s a bookend to the closing scene. Ethan rides in out of the vast empty landscape, and the members of the family collect on the porch. It’s stunningly beautiful.

I can’t find the whole thing on YouTube; no doubt copyright prevents. That’s too bad because this skips the ballet shot from the side of the porch where each character enters and takes up a particular spot, as if on a stage or…for a painting. Still, the first 52 seconds are nothing to sneeze at. The door that closes on Ethan at the end opens at the beginning.

Having said all that – I dislike the sudden veers into comedy, and I dislike much of the comedy itself, especially (of course – so predictable) the hahaha Indians stuff. The worst bit is when the Indian woman who was sold to Martin (without his realizing it) is treated as a big joke, culminating in the scene where he lies down for sleep and then she lies down beside him and he turns over in outrage and violently kicks her away, and she rolls out of the frame. Then Ethan roars with laughter. Ew. Just not funny, dude.

It is about Ethan’s racism, but it’s also racist itself. That’s pretty obvious.

I dislike the time-wasting stuff with Charlie’s courtship of Laurie, and I hate the dopy fight scene between Charlie and Martin. Argh. Suddenly it’s a Three Stooges movie. It doesn’t go with the rest. Knock it off, boys, get back to the damn search.

I knew how it ended but I’d forgotten just about all of what led up to how it ended. I’d forgotten what happened to Lucy. That’s quite a powerful scene – Ethan suddenly roaring, “You want me to draw a picture? You want me to spell it out for you? Don’t ask me! Never ask me as long as you live!” Oh. She was gangraped, and maybe mutilated. Got it.

Oh wait, here is a version with the opening.



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

Another one cries out for attention

Oct 28th, 2012 11:41 am | By

A woman I don’t know, called Lucy Wainwright*, just tweeted me a link to a blog post she wrote. Nothing else, no greeting or explanation, just the link. That always looks kind of Mabusy, from a stranger, or else more than kind of spammy. But anyway she sent it, so she must want me to draw attention it. Ok.

It’s titled Failing at Feminism: a how-to guide.

Right, can we get something straight here, do we think?

No one who insists that a woman should be protected from unpleasant messages, from invitations to coffee, or from criticism because she is a woman is any kind of feminist.

So, are we insisting that a woman should be protected from unpleasant messages, from invitations to coffee, or from criticism?

One at a time.

Protected from? No. That’s not the claim, and never has been.

From unpleasant messages? It depends what you mean by “unpleasant messages.” If you mean “I disagree with you and here’s why” then no, of course not. But then you can’t mean that, because that’s covered by the third item. So what do you mean? Messages like “you’re a fucking cunt” and “you’re too ugly to rape” and “you’re an old hag” and “you’re a whore” and “fuck you you ugly bitch”?

It makes a difference which you mean.

From invitations to coffee? That’s not a fair way of putting it. That’s the opposite of a fair way of putting it. From invitations to coffee, tout court, of course not. From “invitations to coffee” in a guy’s hotel room issued in an elevator at 4 a.m. in the absence of prior flirtation?

It makes a difference which you mean.

From criticism? Of course not.

So to sum up, the issue isn’t “protected from.” It’s that people shouldn’t do certain things to other people. The issue isn’t that people shouldn’t do those things to women because they are women, the issue is that people do do those things to women because they are women, and they shouldn’t. See the difference? Not “stop calling me a fucking cunt, because I’m a woman,” but “stop calling women fucking cunts.”

If you put your opinions out there in a public forum, those opinions are subject to dissent and mockery – ownership of a vagina doesn’t change that.

From dissent? Obviously. No kidding. No one is saying otherwise.

From mockery? You mean like photoshopping? Captions like “I hate you with my vagina”? Pictures of obese women vomiting?

That’s another matter. No: it is not the case that if you put your opinions out there in a public forum, you should just expect and put up with photoshopping and the rest of it.

More shockingly, I contend that even people who own [hushed whisper] penises are allowed to disagree with you. No, really. I know that sounds radical.

How quickly she loses track of what’s under discussion. It’s not disagreement that’s under discussion. It’s cunting and bitching; it’s non-stop monitoring; it’s photoshopping and captioning and otherwise jeering.

Rebecca Watson has appeared in Slate this week to bitch some more about how hard it is to be her – an educated, white, middle-class American woman whose rights are protected under law.

I’ll stop there. That’s enough. This Lucy Wainwright is unpleasant and callous and sloppy in her reasoning. She wanted me to draw attention to her post and I obliged, but that will do.

*I know her claim to fame is being retweeted by Dawkins, in case you were going to remind me.

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

One after the other, the men raped her

Oct 28th, 2012 11:22 am | By

There are first world problems and there are third world problems. Yes. I’ll tell you something though – they’re not discontinuous. There’s not a clean radical break between them. They’re rooted in the same human flaws.

But that’s an aside. Now for full attention to a third world problem. Dabra, India.

One after the other, the men raped her. They had dragged the girl into a darkened stone shelter at the edge of the fields, eight men, maybe more, reeking of pesticide and cheap whiskey. They assaulted her for nearly three hours. She was 16 years old.

When it was over, the men threatened to kill her if she told anyone, and for days the girl said nothing. Speaking out would have been difficult, anyway, given the hierarchy of caste. She was poor and a Dalit, the low-caste group once known as untouchables, while most of the attackers were from a higher caste that dominated land and power in the village.

Well, that’s nice. Not just a bunch of men attacking a girl. Not just a group of men attacking one girl. A group of higher caste men attacking one Dalit girl. That’s what I call intersecitionality. That’s what I call privilege along more than one axis. They’re older. They’re men. They’re a group instead of one. And they have status and power in the village. They have the upper hand in four distinct ways – and they take advantage of it to smash her and her family for the sake of a fuck.

It might have ended there, if not for the videos: her assailants had taken cellphone videos as trophies, and the images began circulating among village men until one was shown to the victim’s father, his family said. Distraught, the father committed suicide on Sept. 18 by drinking pesticide.

Rohinton Mistry could probably do that story justice. I don’t know if anyone else could.

As in many countries, silence often follows rape in India, especially in villages, where a rape victim is usually regarded as a shamed woman, unfit for marriage. But an outcry over a string of recent rapes, including this one, in the northern state of Haryana, has shattered that silence, focusing national attention on India’s rising number of sexual assaults while also exposing the conservative, male-dominated power structure in Haryana, where rape victims are often treated with callous disregard.

In a rapidly changing country, rape cases have increased at an alarming rate, roughly 25 percent in six years. To some degree, this reflects a rise in reporting by victims. But India’s changing gender dynamic is also a significant factor, as more females are attending school, entering the work force or choosing their own spouses — trends that some men regard as a threat.

And when men feel threatened by women, what’s the solution? Exemplary rape! That’ll show those bitches who’s boss.

Many Dalit girls drop out of school, but the victim was finishing high school. Even in the aftermath of the rape, she took her first-term exams in economics, history and Sanskrit. But she no longer wants to return to the village school and is uncertain about her future.

“Earlier, I had lots of dreams,” she said. “Now I’m not sure I’ll be able to fulfill them. My father wanted me to become a doctor. Now I don’t think I’ll be able to do it.”

She has much in common with Malala, but a vastly worse outcome.

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

No freedom from religion allowed

Oct 27th, 2012 4:32 pm | By

The Texas Taliban says no to the FFRF.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation received word on Oct. 24 that Henderson County, Texas, is refusing to permit it to post an “equal time” display on courthouse grounds by the large Christian nativity display dominating an entire corner. The devotional display is lit at night.

…After Henderson County commissioners made public statements indicating there was a public forum, the county refused permission to FFRF or its local complainant to put up a winter solstice banner describing the freethought point of view.

The banner notes:

“At this Season of the Winter Solstice, may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”

Why doesn’t Chris Stedman go after the FFRF?

A complaint by FFRF last month over bible-banner-toting cheerleaders at public high school games in Kountze, Texas, has kicked off another heated controversy. Attorney General Greg Abbott, who offered comfort and support to Henderson County last year, attacking FFRF by name, held a press conference with Gov. Rick Perry on Oct. 17, again singling out FFRF by name, and, said Gaylor, creating a climate of hostility toward Texas nonbelievers.

They’ll be doing angry videos about them next.


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

The LSE Student Union, again

Oct 27th, 2012 11:13 am | By

From the London School of Economics Student Union Atheist, Secularist, Humanist Society on Wednesday, requesting a name change.

The significant change is supplementary: we would like to include “ex-Muslim” in our name, resulting in our new name: The LSESU Atheist, Secularist, Humanist and Ex-Muslim Society (LSESU ASHES). We are very excited about this, since we believe it to be a highly positive change that has the potential to improve the lives of some of our peers in some small way, as we will explain below.

The status of ex-Muslims in Islam is particularly precarious, and the historical and present-day Islamic response to people who become ex-Muslims is one that justifies our inclusion of the term in our name. We do not ask our members for their beliefs, but we estimate that approximately 20% of our members are ex-Muslim or from a Muslim background and we want to be inclusive and welcoming toward them.

People of a Muslim background face unique difficulties in abandoning their religion, both in predominantly Muslim countries and in Europe. A name that openly represents them will provide a visible support option: a society populated by like-minded people who have survived similar experiences, from whom they can draw support. We feel this is no different to, say, a society for students of a certain country, of which there are dozens. A German student may well find comfort or in the German Society by virtue of the fact that it will count many Germans among its ranks. A society with “ex-Muslims” in the name would attract former Muslims in much the same way.

While it is true that someone may leave Islam for another religion, and that such people may face many of the same difficulties as someone who turns away from organised religion altogether, most Muslims who turn away from Islam do not then join a different religion. Accordingly, we feel that combining outlooks such as atheism, humanism and secularism with ex-Muslim is complementary. Practically speaking, the number of members in an independent ex-Muslim society may prove too low for it to maintain a significant presence on campus. Further, there is a significant overlap of interests and concerns for atheists, humanists, secularists and ex-Muslims. In fact, our scepticism brings us all together into a loosely shared identity. This is underlined by the fact that the name change was approved after a discussion and free vote by our members.

Read the rest.

Yesterday the LSE Student Union told the Student Union Atheist, Secularist, Humanist Society that the name change would not be allowed.

The Activities Committee have decided not to grant the name change that you have requested.

We decided not to grant the name change because given the email that you sent us as why you would like to change the name, we feel that by adding ‘ex-Muslim’ to the society name it will no longer become a safe space for ex-Muslims; in the sense that it may be an indication as to where ex-Muslims can affiliate to. For this reason would you please consider replacing the ‘ex-Muslim’ part of the proposed name change to either ‘Atheist, Secularist, Humanist and ex-religious’ or ‘Atheist, Secularist, Humanist and ex-religion. This will be in order provide the safe space for all students who join your society and potentially increase your society membership.

Alex Gabriel comments at the Heresy Club. Hemant also has a post.

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

Misogyny or racism? Such a difficult choice

Oct 26th, 2012 5:06 pm | By

Ha! Soraya pointed this out to me, from the New Yorker: GOP split over whether to emphasize misogyny or racism.

NEW HAMPSHIRE (The Borowitz  Report)—With less than two weeks to go until Election Day, there is a deep  divide among Republican leaders over whether to emphasize misogyny or racism as  the campaign’s closing theme.

In one camp is the Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, who says that  his view that God is sometimes O.K. with rape is “gaining real traction with a  key demographic: men who don’t like women very much.”

“I can’t tell you how many misogynists have come up to me at my rallies and  said, ‘Thank you for saying what you said,’ ” he told reporters today. “I  think they’re like, finally, someone’s taking a more nuanced position on  rape.”

Ahahahahahahaha – ain’t it the truth.

But in the other camp is the former New Hampshire governor John Sununu, who  worries that the Republican Party’s emphasis on misogyny is threatening to drown  out its “winning message of racism.”

“I understand the appeal of Mourdock’s anti-woman theme, but I worry that  it’s going to overshadow our core value of racism, which is still our best shot  at winning this thing,” he said. “In politics, you’ve got to dance with the one  who brung you.”

Don’t forget homophobia.

I found some very excellent misogyny on Twitter just now.

 That’s the drill, you know. That’s why we talk about the threats and harassment – they are an opportunity and we are exploiting them. For what? Money! Fame!! Blog hits!!!

No actually that’s not why. We talk about them because they’re there, and they’re continuing. We think they’re bad, and should stop. That’s a normal, understood, accepted reason to talk about bad things.


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

A modest proposal

Oct 26th, 2012 3:56 pm | By

Boy, that Mourdock fella is a real prize. He’s got his career plans wrong though. He wants to be a bishop, not a legislator.

He had a chat with some newspaper people in southern Indiana Wednesday, and there he elaborated on his thoughts about god and rape.

The wide ranging interview covered all topics, but the highlight came when a reporter asked if he believed God intended women to be raped:

“Personally I think that the closer you are to God, the less likely you are to run into something like that,” Mourdock responded, “Some of these women – if they had been more faithful to the Lord, if they had just prayed a little harder – then they wouldn’t have found themselves in that situation.”

So………in other words, “God” allowed them to be raped because they hadn’t been “faithful” enough and hadn’t prayed hard enough. They were slutting around on God and neglecting to tell him how great he is.

“I’ve seen marriages break up and friendships drift apart because someone wasn’t right with the Lord. I think the same is true in any situation. With Jesus Christ on your side, only good things will come.”

He then went on to propose a unique anti-rape measure:

“And in the case of rape Christ has a specific remedy. Studies have shown that if you pray for at least 20 minutes before any big date, your partner is 93% less likely to rape you.

“Scientists say prayer can create a ‘rape halo’ around a woman’s body which instantly renders a potential rapist impotent. I’m not sure how it works exactly. I think its pheromones.

“So I don’t think God wants a woman to get raped. He offers her a choice. The rape halo is only a prayer away. If she’s too lazy to get on her knees and ask for it, that’s her fault.”

Wait. Seriously?

No! It’s a satire. But it’s pretty convincing until you get to the halo.


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

50 facts

Oct 26th, 2012 1:18 pm | By

Soraya Chemaly presents 50 facts about rape.

Republican Representative Richard Mourdock’s recen “misspeaking”  is unexceptional. Despite what he may have meant when he said “even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape that… is something God intended to happen,” he is unexceptional.  He’s not an outlier. Not a radical. In no substantive way different from his conservative peers in this regard (see below if you disagree).  Indeed, he and others, like Todd Akin and Paul Ryan, are part of an age-old tradition of men with power defining when women are raped.

Yes I see a lot of that, also men with or without power defining when women are threatened, when women are harassed, when women are cyberstalked…I see that a lot.

The 50 facts are interesting.

Some people are offended by frank conversation about violence, especially sexualized violence.  I’m offended by tolerance for these assaults, scientific denialism, entertainment at the expense of people’s safety and bodily integrity, and shame-infused legislation that hurts children and women and is based on the belief that all men are animals at heart.

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