Notes and Comment Blog

Amazing Deeyah

Oct 5th, 2013 10:42 am | By

Deeyah’s documentary film about the “honor” murder of Banaz Mahmod won the 2013 Emmy for Best International Current Affairs Documentary Film on Tuesday. That’s fantastic news, because it will obviously bring more attention to the subject.

Well done Deeyah, and congratulations.

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

An item

Oct 5th, 2013 10:34 am | By

Facebook pages can be reported. Facebook pages that threaten people can and should be reported. I was being quiet about this in public in case Miri wasn’t aware of it, but she is aware of it now, so if you’re on Facebook and you have a minute, you could report this.

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

Thunderfoot has done a great job

Oct 4th, 2013 4:35 pm | By

Rebecca has a transcript of the ThunderfQQt video at Skepchick.

I know all of this seems very silly to those of you who don’t know as much about preventing rape as Thunderfoot, but let me tell you, I’ve done a lot of research into this and a lot of what Thunderfoot says in his video is indistinguishable from the words of wisdom offered by actual admitted rapists in prison. There have been several studies looking into their stories and what they have to say and let me tell you Thunderfoot has done a great job of sounding exactly – exactly- like those rapists.

For instance, there was a study done in 1984 that included in-depth interviews with rapists in prison and these rapists went into their justifications for why they raped. And the researchers found several major themes throughout all of the answers, one of which was that many of the rapists believed that the women they raped didn’t do enough to convey the fact that they did not want to be raped. Even though many of the rapists were holding deadly weapons at the time, they still believed that the women just didn’t fight back because they secretly wanted it.

One woman one of the rapists described she was abducted at knifepoint in the middle of the night and gang-raped, and actually they interviewed two of her rapists, and they reported that she didn’t resist it so she was probably into it. They don’t go into detail on what would have happened with the knife if the woman had resisted but many of the other rapists mention that they only got violent with women because of resistance but who knows maybe if she had resisted they would have just left her alone.

Who knows, right? As Rebecca says. Who, who knows. How can we possibly tell. That’s good skepticism, see, knowing that we don’t know. Expert advice is don’t resist, but who who knows. If rapists say the women they raped didn’t do enough to convey the fact that they did not want to be raped, then maybe the thing to do is convey the not wanting to be raped really strongly. Who knows, maybe the rapist will leave you alone, who knows, maybe the rapist will kill you. The jury is still out. No dogmatism here, folks.

Another common theme in the study was the idea that nice girls don’t get raped. A large percentage of rapists in prison vociferously agreed with many of Thunderfoot’s points here, using their victims’ dress and behavior as a way to excuse raping them. Their comments ranged from pointing out that a woman they raped was wearing tight black clothes or wearing a skirt, or that a woman spread her legs when exiting a car, or that a woman claimed she was a virgin but seemed much more experienced while being raped, or this gem: “She was a waitress and you know how they are.”

One rapist claimed that his victims deserved it because they had been prostitutes, even though pre-sentence reports indicated that none of them were prostitutes.

Much like Thunderf00t, these rapists believed that these traits made their victims more rapable. So to follow Thunderf00t and the convicted rapists’ thinking, women can avoid being raped by not wearing tight black clothing or skirts, by keeping their knees locked while exiting cars, by not being waitresses, by not being mistaken for a prostitute by a deranged rapist, or even by not having sex, ever. By not being experienced in bed. Don’t get me wrong, there is still a very good chance you’ll get raped, but at least there will be fewer ways for Thunderf00t and your rapist to blame you for it.

And you know what, it might just be worth it. It might just be worth almost anything not to have to hear Thunderfcct explaining about rape ever ever again.

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

Fewer ways for ThunderfCCt to blame you for it

Oct 4th, 2013 2:30 pm | By

Wuhey, Rebecca’s back at the video game – and it’s a corker. It’s about ThunderfQQt and his Excellent Advice About Rape.

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

Act 2: what happened at LSE today

Oct 4th, 2013 12:19 pm | By

Abhishek Phadnis and Chris Moos report:

The following is an account of the events at the LSE Freshers’ Fair on Friday, October 4th:

We (Abhishek Phadnis and Chris Moos) arrived at the Fair at 10 am. In silent protest at our treatment the day before (see account of events of October 3rd), and still unsure as to what parts of the t-shirts had allegedly caused “offence”, we put tape (with the words “Censored”, “This has been censored” and “Nothing to see here”) over the faces of the “Jesus and Mo” figures on the t-shirts.

Shortly after midday, the LSESU Deputy Chief Executive Jarlath O’Hara approached us, demanding we take the t-shirts off as per his instructions of the previous day. We explained to him that we had covered the “offensive” parts this time, and offered to use our tape to cover any other areas deemed “offensive”. He refused to hear us out, insisting that if we did not take off the whole t-shirt, LSE Security would be called to bodily remove us from the premises. He left, warning us that he was summoning LSE Security to eject us.

At about 2:30pm, Paul Thornbury, Head of LSE Security, delivered a letter from the School Secretary Susan Scholefield. The letter claimed that some students found our t-shirts “offensive”, even though we had covered up the “offensive” parts of the t-shirts. It claimed we were in possible breach of the LSE Harassment Policy and Disciplinary Procedure, and that our actions were “damaging the School’s reputation”, and “undermining the spirit of the LSESU Freshers’ Fair and good campus relations at LSE”. It concluded by asking us to “refrain from wearing the t-shirts in question and cover any other potentially offensive imagery”, and warning us that the School “reserves the right to consider taking further action if warranted”.

Shortly thereafter, having completed our work at the stall, we began packing up. As we were about to leave, Paul Thornbury returned to confirm we were leaving. We told him that we were, and as we left the room, we saw that he was accompanied by several security guards, LSESU General Secretary Jay Stoll and Deputy Chief Executive O’Hara. The Security officials left the building at the same time as we did, confirming our impression that they had only been there to monitor us, like the two security guards positioned at our stall the day before to stop us attempting to put our t-shirts back on.

We can confirm that the aforementioned Students Union and LSE Security staff were the only visitors to our stall who expressed offence at our clothing. We had students from all kind of backgrounds come to us to express their support and astonishment about the heavy-handed actions of the LSE and LSESU, including several students who self-identified as Muslims.

We are still in shock about the intimidating behaviour of the LSESU and LSE staff. Again, we strongly reject the claim that our clothing or behaviour could be reasonably interpreted as “harassing” or “offensive”. In any case, we believe that in an open and multi-cultural society, there can be no right not to be offended without undermining freedom of expression, which is essential to the functioning of universities as much as of wider society.

We have written to the LSE Pro-Director for Teaching and Learning, Paul Kelly, and the Head of LSE Legal and Compliance, Kevin Haynes, expressing indignation at our treatment and seeking a full explanation of the grounds of the allegations against us. We are still awaiting a detailed reply.

Abhishek Phadnis & Chris Moos


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

LSE Student Union gives its version

Oct 4th, 2013 12:15 pm | By

Joint statement from LSE and LSE SU (it says, although at the bottom it’s signed only by the SU General Secretary).

At the LSE Students’ Union Fresher’s Fair on Thursday 3 October two students from the LSE SU Atheist Secularist and Humanist Society (ASH) wore t-shirts that were clearly designed to depict Mohammed and Jesus in a provocative manner.

The Students’ Union, which runs the event, received a number of complaints from other students.

The SU asked the students to cover the t-shirts in the interests of good campus relations. The society remained free to share their literature and views.

One member of the society declined to do this. The student was attended by a cameraman and it was feared that his behaviour would disrupt the event.

The SU referred the matter to the School. Representatives of the School in attendance agreed that the matter was a cause for concern and that the presence of the t-shirts was in danger of eroding good campus relations and disrupting efforts to run a Fresher’s Fair designed to welcome all new students.

LSE is committed to promoting freedom of expression and is known for its public events and wide range of speakers. In this instance, it was judged that the actions of the students were undermining what should have been a welcoming and inclusive event.
Jay Stoll LSE SU General Secretary


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

Chris and Abhishek report what happened at LSE yesterday

Oct 4th, 2013 12:07 pm | By

Chris Moos and Abhishek Phadnis report:

The following is an account of the events at the LSESU Freshers’ Fair on October 3rd

On Thursday 3rd of October, we (Abishek Phadnis and Chris Moos) were at the LSESU Freshers’ Fair, manning the stall of the LSESU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society to meet other non-believing students. At around noon, we were approached by LSESU Community and Welfare Officer Anneessa Mahmood, Anti-Racism Officer Rayhan Uddin, and Deputy Chief Executive Jarlath O’Hara and several others who identified as LSESU staff.

Without explanation, Anneessa Mahmood started removing material from the stall. When challenged, she claimed that it was “offensive”. In addition, the LSESU staff members demanded that we remove our t-shirts. We were told that should we not comply we would be physically removed from the premises. When we asked for the reason for this request, the LSESU officers stated that several students had complained about our t-shirts. When we asked what rules or regulations we were in breach of, they told us that they did not need to give reasons for removing students, and we would be informed at a later point in time. As we refused to take off our t-shirts or leave without appropriate explanation, we were told that LSE security would be called to physically remove us from the building. We came to the Freshers’ Fair to promote our society to new students. Our ability to do that was heavily curtailed by the actions of the LSESU staff. We especially felt that the abrasive behaviour of the LSESU staff was not aimed at protecting other students from harm, but rather an attempt humiliate us in front of others.

When the LSE security arrived, we were asked to cover our t-shirts or leave LSE premises. When we asked for the rules and regulations we were in breach of, we were told that the LSE was being consulted about how to proceed. After a period of consultation, Kevin Haynes (LSE Legal and Compliance Team) and Paul Thornbury (LSE Head of Security) explained to us that we were not behaving in an “orderly and responsible manner”, and that the wearing of the t-shirt could be considered “harassment”, as it could “offend others” by creating an “offensive environment”. We asked what exactly was “offensive” about the t-shirts, and how the display of a comic strip that was neither foul, nor violent, nor racist, could be considered “harassment” of other students. Paul Thornbury told us that it was “clearly deceitful” of us to say that we had not intended to cause offence and that we did not feel that we had behaved inappropriately or harassed other students. This unreasonable behaviour of the LSE and LSESU staff caused us serious distress, particularly the allegations that our motives were to “offend” others.

At the end of this conversation, five security guards started to position themselves around our stall. We felt this was a tactic to intimidate us. We were giving an ultimatum that should we not comply immediately, we would be physically removed from LSE property. We made it clear that we disagreed strongly with this interpretation of the rules, but that we would comply by covering the t-shirts. When we covered our t-shirts with jackets, the head of LSE security told us that “this was not enough”, and that we had to zip up the jackets. When we zipped up the jackets, we were told that this was still not enough, as the word “prophet” was still visible at the top. After that, the head of LSE security told us that as he believed that we might open the jackets again when was going to leave, two security guards were going to stay in the room to monitor our behaviour. These two security guards were following us closely when we went in and out of the room. We felt that this highly unnecessary and geared at intimidating and humiliating us in front of others.

We reject in the strongest possible terms that by wearing a non-violent, non-racist t-shirt we would harass other students or create an “offensive environment”. We reject completely that we were not behaving in an “orderly or responsible manner”. In fact, even when surrounded by up to ten LSE and LSESU staff members who were positioning themselves around us in a threatening manner, and when faced with the entirely unreasonable request to change or cover up our clothing, we remained calm and asked for clarification on what rules or regulations we were alleged to be in breach of. Even though we completely disagreed with the instructions of the LSE, we still complied, making clear that we would challenge this decision through the appropriate procedures.

As much as we respect and defend the rights of others to wear whatever they choose to wear, we claim this right for ourselves. Our right to free expression and participation in the LSE student community is being curtailed for no other reason than that we are expressing views that are not shared by others. As visible from the pictures (attached), the t-shirts are harmless satirical depictions of fictitious religious figures and certainly cannot be considered intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive to anyone by even the most stringent standards.

We will be at tomorrow’s Freshers’ Fair to continue promoting our society to new members. In the meantime, we have asked Professor Paul Kelly (Pro-Director for Teaching and Learning) to clarify to us what exact LSE rules and regulations we are alleged to have breached.

Abhishek Phadnis & Chris Moos


Links to pictures of t-shirts:

The first picture says: “Stop drawing our holy prophets in a disrespectful manner, NOW! – Religion is not funny – If this doesn’t work I say we start burning stuff”

The second picture says: “Hey – How ya doing?”

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

Never mind about de mortuis nil nisi bonum

Oct 4th, 2013 11:41 am | By

I don’t think I knew that Christopher Hitchens was a defender of David Irving, even after Irving failed in his attempt to censor the historian Deborah Lipstadt by suing her for libel. That’s all the more revolting since the reason Irving failed is because the historian Richard Evans demonstrated that Irving had systematically falsified evidence in his books. Irving wrote “history” that was a tissue of lies. No responsible intellectual should defend that.

An “antifascist, otherwise known as Soupy” I encountered on Twitter, @InTheSoupAgain, alerted me to this, and since I don’t think I knew it and I think it matters, I feel obliged to point it out.

Hitchens wrote a piece on the subject for the Wall Street Journal in 2006, six years after the libel trial, apparently still blithely unaware that Irving had faked his evidence. The soupy one publishes it in a blog post:

Now may I mince a word or two? I have been writing in defense of Mr. Irving for several years. When St. Martin’s Press canceled its contract to print his edition of the Goebbels diaries, which it did out of fear of reprisal, I complained loudly and was rewarded by an honest statement from the relevant editor — Thomas Mallon — that his decision had been a “profile in prudence.” I will not take refuge in the claim that I was only defending Mr. Irving’s right to free speech. I was also defending his right to free inquiry. You may have to spend time on some grim and Gothic Web sites to find this out, but he is in fact not a “denier,” but a revisionist, and much-hated by the full-dress “denial” faction. The pages on Goebbels, as in his books on Dresden, Churchill and Hitler, contain some highly important and damning findings from his work in the archives of the Third Reich.

That’s pathetic. Apologies for speaking ill of the dead and all that, but really. Irving’s findings from his “work” in the archives of the Third Reich were riddled with alterations. You can’t trust a word Irving wrote because he falsified. His “work” is entirely worthless, and very dangerous if it is read and believed, because it’s falsified.

It’s really rather disgraceful that Hitchens apparently didn’t know that when he wrote that sentence about the “highly important and damning findings.”


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

And here they are

Oct 4th, 2013 9:51 am | By

At the fair. Chris Moos, Abhishek Phadnis and a guy I won’t name. Chris and Abhishek you already know.

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

Jesus and Mo respond

Oct 4th, 2013 9:28 am | By

To the London School of Economics Student Union’s bullying of the LSE student Atheism Secularism and Humanism group at LSE’s freshers’ fair yesterday.

Take it away, Jesus and Mo.



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

Cruel and not unusual enough

Oct 3rd, 2013 5:09 pm | By

When in doubt, kill the woman. Brace yourself: Emma Batha’s special report in the Independent begins with a horror.

Two months ago, a young mother of two was stoned to death by her relatives on the order of a tribal court in Pakistan. Her crime: possession of a mobile phone.

Arifa Bibi’s uncle, cousins and others hurled stones and bricks at her until she died, according to media reports. She was buried in a desert far from her village. It’s unlikely anyone was arrested.  Her case is not unique. Stoning is legal or practised in at least 15 countries or regions. And campaigners fear this barbaric form of execution may be on the rise, particularly in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Possession of a phone – well it makes perfect sense. She could use the phone to call men up and ask them to come over and fuck her. She not only could, she would, because that’s how women are, the filthy sluts.

At least that must be the chain of reasoning [hollow laughter], because why the hell else would you torture someone to death for having a phone?

Stoning is not legal in most Muslim countries and there is no mention of it in the Koran. But supporters argue that it is legitimised by the Hadith – the acts and sayings of the Prophet Mohamed. Stoning is set out as a specific punishment for adultery under several interpretations of sharia or Islamic law. In some instances, even a woman saying she has been raped can be considered an admission to the crime of zina (sex outside marriage).

In one case cited by Shameem, a 13-year-old Somali girl, Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow, was buried up to her neck and stoned by 50 men in front of 1,000 people at a stadium in Kismayu in 2008. Her father told Amnesty International she had been raped by three men but was accused of adultery when she tried to report the rape to the al-Shabaab militia in control of the city.

We ended Does God Hate Women? with Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow. They had to drag her into the stadium; she was crying and begging them not to kill her. 13 years old.

Stoning is a legal punishment for adultery in Iran, Mauritania, a third of Nigeria’s 36 states, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. It’s not legal in Iraq or Afghanistan but murderous bastards do it anyway.

Activists are campaigning to stop the practice, including by putting pressure on Ban Ki-moon.


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

LSE pounces on non-existent “Islamophobia” again

Oct 3rd, 2013 12:44 pm | By

Here we go AGAIN – London School of Economics student Atheist Secularist and Humanist society members Chris Moos and Abhishek Phadnis are being threatened with expulsion from LSE’s freshers’ fayre for…wearing a Jesus and Mo T shirt.

I saw it first via a tweet by the NSS (the National Secular Society):

Secularism UK @NatSecSoc

Not again! LSE Student Union @lsesu are throwing @ahsstudents group out of freshers’ fayre for wearing @JandMo Tshirts #Freedomofexpression

And a follow-up tweet:

Secularism UK @NatSecSoc

@bma@ahsstudents We’ve heard it from the LSE Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society President. They’re being told to leave right now.

Maryam has a post.

Listen up LSE: I am coming to your university for a debate on 15 October on the burka, and guess what I’m wearing? A Jesus and Mo T-Shirt. Now where can I get one of those quick?

By the way, below is the offending T-Shirt and also the latest Jesus and Mo comic. I’d suggest you look away or call the guards now if you are one of those pathetic people who is so afflicted with cultural relativism and multiculturalism that you can no longer tolerate anything that is deemed offensive to Islamists. I say Islamists because “Muslims” are people just like you and I (shock, horror). Some will be offended by Jesus and Mo; others will find it funny. Most will not threaten or kill for it. It’s the Islamists that do that and who silence criticism and dissent day in and day out and evidently also today with the help of LSE guards. Shameful don’t you think?

I’ve invited Author (of J&M) this space if he wants to say something.

Meanwhile, I will say that this is ridiculous. It’s contemptible. Here’s a timely fact: I just received my copy of 50 Great Myths About Atheism, by Russell Blackford and Udo Schüklenk, a couple of days ago. It’s a wonderful book, and all the more so because it includes many…

you’ll never guess

…cartoons from Jesus and Mo. Why? Because in four panels they neatly make the point that is being made in one of the fifty chapters of the book, that’s why. Philosophy illustrated. It’s revolting that LSE wants to exclude that.

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


Oct 3rd, 2013 11:36 am | By

“WaddleDee” finally produced an explanation of sorts.

Ophelia Benson @OpheliaBenson

@chsvns But my question is WHY is it fun.

WaddleDee @chsvns

@OpheliaBenson Because it is a deviant act that I can get away with.

Ok let’s think about that. A deviant act – how is it a deviant act, and why?

Telling people they’re ugly (fat, old, disgusting, etc) is reprobated because it’s seen as cruel. It’s rightly seen as cruel. Isn’t it? Is that at all controversial? If it’s not controversial, should it be controversial? Is it the kind of callous, brutal, indifferent “seen as” that other brands of conventional wisdom have been shown to be? Should we question that view just as we question racism or homophobia or sexism? Should we start a new social justice movement to liberate everyone from antiquated and mistaken taboos on telling people they’re ugly? Would that lead to a more just, verdant, and peaceful world?

No. It’s conventional wisdom that it’s very bad (and “deviant”) to tell people they’re ugly, for good reasons.

So the explanation tells us that it’s fun to violate that taboo if you can get away with it. But that still doesn’t answer the underlying question.

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

The quest for enlightenment

Oct 3rd, 2013 10:21 am | By

I’m attempting to make use of an opportunity for enlightenment here, by asking someone to explain why it’s pleasurable and fun to skip over the substantive content of a disagreement and just call people ugly (fat, old, smelly – the usual shame-labels) instead.

It starts with someone who is a complete stranger to me tweeting at me.


WaddleDee @chsvns

@OpheliaBenson @thunderf00t I agree. Nice of you to admit that thundef00t is right about something.

Ophelia Benson @OpheliaBenson

@chsvns You agree with what? Right about what?

WaddleDee @chsvns

@OpheliaBenson @thunderf00t the part about him being a mensch, and the part him observing that you are ugly.

Ophelia Benson @OpheliaBenson

@chsvns So, to be clear, you’re tweeting me to tell me I’m ugly?


WaddleDee @chsvns

@OpheliaBenson Oh no you’re beautiful. How could you think that?

Ophelia Benson @OpheliaBenson

@chsvns So that’s a yes. Question: why? What’s the point? What’s my being ugly got to do with anything?

WaddleDee @chsvns

@OpheliaBenson To be an asshole of course. Is it really that difficult to figure out?

Ophelia Benson @OpheliaBenson

@chsvns In one way, no. In another way, yes. Why be an asshole? It is hard to figure out why that’s pleasurable.


WaddleDee @chsvns

@OpheliaBenson You pretty much explain it it your second sentence. It is pleasurable. It’s fun to watch, so I wanted to try it out.

Ophelia Benson @OpheliaBenson

@chsvns But my question was & still is WHY is it pleasurable? What’s fun to watch about it?

I’m not very confident that I will get anything that is actually explanatory, but I thought I might as well try, because it is something I’m permanently curious and puzzled about. It truly seems the very opposite of pleasurable and fun, to me. If I try to imagine engaging in it myself it feels actively painful – not just boring or meh but acutely horrible. I’m curious about why it feels like fun to other people, and why there are so many people who experience it that way.

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

Phil Mason responds in the usual way

Oct 2nd, 2013 5:44 pm | By


Mike Booth: @somegreybloke I’ve been informed that wasps sting while flies do not. If you need advice on animals or rape, @Thunderf00t should be your go-to-guy.

PZ Myers: @pzmyers I’m quite enjoying watching @somegreybloke school @Thunderf00t

Ophelia Benson: @OpheliaBenson @pzmyers @somegreybloke @Thunderf00t QUITE enjoying? It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve seen in awhile

thunderf00t: @thunderf00t @OpheliaBenson OPHIE! There’s gotta be a joke in there somewhere about u not looking in the mirror often. :-D

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

Which from my seat is just so bloody stupid

Oct 2nd, 2013 5:22 pm | By

Now to excerpt a little.

In any case, the part where he kind of agrees with anti-rapist educators is over (we’re about 30 seconds in) – next up, the “HOWEVER…”

However, there is part of this video – which is a very widely seen message online – which from my seat is just so bloody stupid. And this is the sentiment that just because something is against the law, that you should under no circumstances take steps to reduce your risks in such an environment.

Got that? The first argument that Thunderf00t is going to tackle is the one that states “that you should under no circumstances take steps to reduce your risks in such an environment.”

“Under no circumstances should you take steps to reduce risk”.

This is what Thunderf00t thinks is meant by campaigns that say things like “Don’t tell me how to dress, tell them not to rape.” Thunderf00t believes – or pretends to believe – that feminist campaigns to shift the focus of rape education from potential victim to potential rapist are emphatically telling people not to take basic precautions.

As if women aren’t already keenly aware of all the things they can and must do to minimise risk. As if women don’t already take all the precautions they can and still get raped.

Either deliberately, or out of mind-hosing intellectual incompetence, Thunderf00t misunderstands the reasoning behind the soundbite slogans he chooses to highlight. Women takes steps to minimise risks, get raped regardless, and then are told by authorities, friends, colleagues and wankers like Thunderf00t that if only they’d done just one more thing differently, it might not have happened.

The “Don’t Teach Me, Teach Them” slogans are a response to decades of victim blaming,  not an attempt to make women think they’re rape-proof, and only an idiot or a fucking prick would be unable to grasp that. And Thunderf00t is a very clever man who does science and stuff, so I guess he can’t be an idiot.

That’s so satisfying. Phil Mason makes me too gibbery with rage to even attempt analysis; I’m so glad someone did it.

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

A public service

Oct 2nd, 2013 5:08 pm | By

I’ve no time to excerpt or annotate now because I have to read and read and read and read, but in the meantime – you should know about Mike Booth’s NINE PART demolition of Phil Mason aka Thunderfoot’s rape-apology video. It starts here and goes on for EIGHT MORE which is dedication beyond the whatsit.

(Mike Booth, in case you’ve forgotten, is Some Grey Bloke and Dan Cardamon – not the actor in Dan Cardamon but the author of him.)

One favorite, from part 9:

The inflection Thunderf00t is using at this point is known in acting circles as “Can you dial the condescension back a bit because nobody talks like that?”

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

The return of the pineapple

Oct 2nd, 2013 4:32 pm | By

Rory Fenton has a very apropos article at the Rationalist Association calling for non-religious students to resist the tide of religious privilege at universities.

What happens when you go to university? New stuff! New ideas, new people, new categories of ideas, new all sorts.

In the midst of this, many find themselves doubting or losing their religious beliefs. For them and for those who have never been religious, non-religious societies on campus, whether called “atheist”, “humanist”, “secular”, “freethinking”, “rationalist” or “ex-Muslim” (and non-religious groups can rival the gay rights movement for the sheer number of inclusive terms they use), can be a second home. At their best they are oases of free debate and discussion, challenging their members as well as the wider campus community to question dogma and speak up for reason.

But then that’s exactly why some people hate them, isn’t it. It’s also, depressingly, why some other people feel the need to support the people who are threatened by the questioning of dogma at the expense of the people questioning dogma. Last year at Reading University, for example.

It all started with a pineapple.

The pineapple in question was sat on the stall of Reading University’s Atheist Society. The pineapple was called “Mohammad”, as indicated by a sticker, and was there to promote an upcoming discussion on freedom of speech and blasphemy. Reading Students’ Union soon received complaints from Muslim students. Rather than defend their members’ rights to free speech, the union demanded the pineapple be removed. When Reading Atheists refused, they were kicked out of the Freshers Fair altogether. The union then updated their behavioural policy to forbid societies from causing “offence” to other students or even to members of the wider local community. The policy offers no definition of offence, creating in essence a blasphemy ban. The policy remains unchanged, forcing Reading Atheists to choose between signing the document and leaving the union altogether.

And, indeed, as I noted, the union has kicked Reading Atheists out of the union altogether.

The religious privileges that have censored atheist societies have also allowed religiously inspired bigotry to march on unheeded on UK campuses. Christian and Muslim societies regularly invite speakers with deeply homophobic and sexist views to their events, including those who have advocated the death penalty for homosexuals. Fortunately, the speakers are not permitted to air these views on campus, focusing instead on more general topics, but being invited to these universities lends them a perverse legitimacy.

It’s necessary to push back. Do what you can to help the student atheists, secularists and humanists.

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

Thames Valley v secularism

Oct 2nd, 2013 11:41 am | By

Remember Reading University Student Union and its affiliated group Reading University Atheist, Humanist, and Secularist Society? The group that had a pineapple named Mohammed on its table at last year’s Freshers’ Fayre and got kicked out of the fayre by the Student Union as a result? I wrote about it almost exactly a year ago, quoting their statement via the NSS:

Among the material displayed on our stall was a pineapple. We labelled this pineapple “Mohammed”, to encourage discussion about blasphemy, religion, and liberty, as well as to celebrate the fact that we live in a country in which free speech is protected, and where it is lawful to call a pineapple by whatever name one chooses.

Towards the end of the afternoon, we were informed by a member of RUSU staff that there had been complaints about the pineapple, despite the fact that no complaints had been made at any point to anybody on the stall. Our commitment to freedom of expression meant that we refused to remove the pineapple from our stall. After a few minutes, we were told by another member of RUSU staff that “Either the pineapple goes, or you do”, whereupon they seized the pineapple and tried to leave. However, the pineapple was swiftly returned, and shortly was displayed again, with the name Mohammed changed to that of Jesus.

Shortly afterwards, the second RUSU staff member returned and ordered RAHS to leave the Freshers’ Fayre. At this point, a group of around five students, some of whom self-identified as Muslim, approached the stall and began to criticise us, asking and telling us to remove the pineapple. Though these students mainly engaged in discussion, one removed the label from the pineapple without our permission.

In the end they felt compelled to leave, so they did.

Now a year on, the Student Union has disaffiliated the ASH group and declared it dissolved, so they are again outside the tent for the Freshers’ Fayre. They’re there now, for another twenty minutes.

Apparently Reading University’s Student Union simply doesn’t allow avowed atheism or secularism or humanism. That’s no good.


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

What the raven said

Oct 2nd, 2013 11:25 am | By

This joke comes from 25 Jokes Only Book Nerds Will Understand, which headlines this week’s THE LIST LIST, our weekly round-up of the best bookish lists on the internet. Check out the rest here:

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