Notes and Comment Blog

He pays the rent, it’s his place, he can do whatever he wants to

Mar 30th, 2015 2:57 pm | By

An Indiana business owner went on the radio to say he’d gotten an early start on the discriminating against people even before the governor signed Indiana’s RFRA into law.

The business owner, who would not give his name or the name of his business, said he had told some LGBT “people” that equipment was broken in his restaurant and he couldn’t serve them even though it wasn’t and other people were already eating at the tables. “So, yes, I have discriminated,” he told RadioNOW 100.9 hosts. The hosts were surprised the owner said he was okay with discriminating.

“Well, I feel okay with it because it’s my place of business, I pay the rent, I’ve built it with all my money and my doing. It’s my place; I can do whatever I want with it,” he said. “They can have their lifestyle and do their own thing in their own place or with people that want to be with them.”

So he can keep out the Nigras and the Jews and the wetbacks and anyone else he doesn’t like, because this is god’s country.

Georgia. Nineteen other states, including nearby Kentucky and Illinois, have adopted religious liberty laws.

These laws try to codify some of what was established when the Supreme Court ruled in the Hobby Lobby case last year.

Let’s keep this up. Maybe soon we too can be talking about the latest atheist blogger who’s been murdered by fanatics wielding meat cleavers.

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

Guest post: Give me a scenario

Mar 30th, 2015 2:12 pm | By

Originally a comment by themadtapper on As when you find a trout in the milk.

“It’s not about discriminating against gay customers, it’s about protecting religious liberty!”

Ok, so give me an example of what kind of scenario this law is supposed to help in.

“Well, maybe a florist doesn’t want to provide flowers for a gay wedding.”

So, the scenario in which this law, which totally isn’t about discrimination, is supposed to help in is a scenario where someone wants to turn away a gay customer?

“No! The florist just doesn’t want to participate in something that’s against their religion!”

So the scenario isn’t about discrimination or turning away gay customers, it’s about not having to participate in commerce with gay people?

“No! It’s about not having to participate in gay weddings!”

But the only way they’re connected to the wedding at all is by selling things to the gay people having a wedding.

“Exactly, and they don’t want to do that!”

So, they don’t want to do commerce with gay people that are having weddings and want to be able to turn them away?

“Dammit man, it’s like you’re not even listening to me!”

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

Purvi Patel

Mar 30th, 2015 12:25 pm | By

Still in Indiana – Purvi Patel was sentenced today. Think Progress has details.

Purvi Patel was arrested in 2013 after she went to the emergency room to seek medical treatment for heavy bleeding. After initially denying that she had been pregnant, she eventually told the staff that she had a premature delivery at home, believed the fetus was not alive, and placed it in a bag in a dumpster on her way to the hospital. Her doctors called the cops, who questioned Patel while she was still in the hospital, searched her cell phone records, and recovered the fetus.

Patel maintains that she did not abandon a living baby. “I assumed because the baby was dead there was nothing to do,” Patel later told law enforcement officials. “I’ve never been in this situation. I’ve never been pregnant before.”

Her lawyers said the pregnancy resulted from a sexual relationship with a married co-worker, and Patel didn’t want her conservative Hindu parents — who raised her under the assumption that she shouldn’t have sex outside of marriage — to know about it. They also said Patel didn’t realize how far along her pregnancy was, and was shocked to see what the fetus looked like when she experienced the premature delivery.

State officials, meanwhile, contend they have evidence to suggest Patel attempted an illegal abortion after purchasing abortion-inducing drugs online. They say she intentionally tried to end her pregnancy — even though a toxicologist testified there was no trace of the drugs in her bloodstream — and then abandoned her living child after the termination was unsuccessful.

In February, an Indiana jury deliberated for less than five hours before finding Patel guilty of both charges brought against her: one for “fetal murder of an unborn child” and one for “neglect of a dependent.”




How is it possible to convict someone of two charges which contradict each other? How could she have neglected a dependent she had already murdered? Or murdered an unborn child if it lived to become a dependent?

Indiana’s “feticide” law, the statute that allowed state officials to bring the charge of murder against Patel, was not intended to be applied to women themselves. It was originally enacted as a way to crack down on illegal abortion providers. However, Paltrow pointed out that Patel’s case fits into a chilling trend: Even though abortion opponents say that the mounting legal restrictions against the procedure are not supposed to target women, it’s becoming clear that some women are winding up behind bars anyway.

Maybe especially so when they’re not pale and middle-class and prosperous? Just a hunch.

She was sentenced this morning.

Purvi Patel was sentenced Monday to 41 years in prison on charges of feticide and felony neglect of a dependent after an Indiana jury in early February found her guilty of the charges. She was ordered to serve 20 years in prison after receiving a 30-year sentence on the felony neglect charge, with an additional ten years suspended.

Patel received a six-year sentence on the feticide charge, but that will be served concurrently with the 20-year sentence. She will spend five years on probation when she is released from prison.

God bless America.

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

As when you find a trout in the milk

Mar 30th, 2015 11:48 am | By

Garrett Epps at the Atlantic explains how the Indiana RFRA is different from (and worse than) the Federal one and all but two state ones.

[T]he Indiana statute has two features the federal RFRA—and most state RFRAs—do not. First, the Indiana law explicitly allows any for-profit business to assert a right to “the free exercise of religion.” The federal RFRA doesn’t contain such language, and neither does any of the state RFRAs except South Carolina’s; in fact, Louisiana and Pennsylvania, explicitly exclude for-profit businesses from the protection of their RFRAs.

The new Indiana statute also contains this odd language: “A person whose exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened, by a violation of this chapter may assert the violation or impending violation as a claim or defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding, regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding.” (My italics.) Neither the federal RFRA, nor 18 of the 19 state statutes cited by the Post, says anything like this; only the Texas RFRA, passed in 1999, contains similar language.

The extras matter. They’re there for a reason.

Of all the state “religious freedom” laws I have read, this new statute hints most strongly that it is there to be used as a means of excluding gays and same-sex couples from accessing employment, housing, and public accommodations on the same terms as other people. True, there is no actual language that says, All businesses wishing to discriminate in employment, housing, and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation, please check this “religious objection” box. But, as Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk.”

So—is the fuss over the Indiana law overblown?


The statute shows every sign of having been carefully designed to put new obstacles in the path of equality; and it has been publicly sold with deceptive claims that it is “nothing new.”

Being required to serve those we dislike is a painful price to pay for the privilege of running a business; but the pain exclusion inflicts on its victims, and on society, are far worse than the discomfort the faithful may suffer at having to open their businesses to all.

I have seen people passionately arguing that business owners have an absolute right to run their businesses as they see fit and that that totally does include refusing to serve people for whatever reason they feel like. Nope. If you open the door, you open the door. If you don’t want to serve all who walk in the door, then don’t open the door.

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

Dear aspiring men

Mar 30th, 2015 11:14 am | By

Hamza Tzortzis of 5pillars and gender segregation at university events fame tells men to “man up” and be Chivalrous toward the Ladies.

Dear aspiring men,

Whoever you are, wherever you are, and whatever you believe in, it is time we used that one gender difference that has not yet been disputed amongst our “feminist” and “liberal” sisters – your strength and physical appearance.

Nice start, isn’t it, expressing contempt for feminist and liberal women. I feel so much safer now.

The picture helps too.

Hamza Tzortzis’ message to “aspiring men” #ManUpUK

Oh right – that’s unmistakably a woman being protected and not a woman being held captive. No question. It’s obvious.

It has come to my attention that women in the UK are feeling less safe.

Here is one way of trying to solve this endemic problem. The next time you witness any form of verbal or physical abuse in public, stand up and put that coward to shame!

Here’s an example of what you can do or say:

“Excuse me sir… I have a zero tolerance policy towards any form of abuse against vulnerable people. Please stop what you are doing or I will use every lawful means necessary to put a stop to it.”

That’s the ticket – make a big point of saying women are weak and fragile, by way of helping them out with your strength and physical appearance.

Morality is on your side, the law is on your side, and more importantly – God is on your side!

Protect our women, by being men – real men!

If you “man up”, then you will help revive a long lost universal tradition of chivalry and protecting women.

Here are some more helpful tips. When travelling at night or during the day, try sitting or standing close to areas where you may think there are vulnerable people. This will allow you to guard that area until you have to move on towards the rest of your journey.

Yup yup yup. All women are vulnerable people, and also, it’s a brilliant idea to seek them out and then get close to them, in order to [wink wink nudge nudge] “guard” the area.

On the other hand this sounds like a lot of trouble for men, plus it might turn out to be dangerous for them, so really wouldn’t it be simpler and safer and better all around for women to just stay home?

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

In the latest of a series

Mar 30th, 2015 10:34 am | By

The Guardian on the slaughter of Washiqur Rahman.

A blogger known for his atheist views has been stabbed to death in Bangladesh, in the latest of a series of attacks on independent writers in the developing south Asian nation.

Not stabbed, no. That sounds comparatively gentle – compared to what they actually did to him. He was chopped, not stabbed. He was chopped in the eyes, and the chin, and the neck.

Local police chief Wahidul Islam told Agence France-Presse the victim had been “brutally hacked to death this morning with big knives just 500 yards [460 metres] from his home at Dhaka’s Begunbari area”.

That’s the word: hacked. Not stabbed.

The suspects have so far been identified only as Zikrullah, said to be a student at a religious school near the city of Chittagong, and Ariful Islam, who police say was studying at the Darul Ulum religious school in Dhaka. Police are hunting a third man.

“Those who killed him differed on his ideologies about religion. He was not an atheist. He was a believer. But the way he followed religion was different from the way radical groups insist,” Biplob Kumar Sarkar, deputy commissioner of the Dhaka Metropolitan police, told the Guardian.

However, Tamanna Setu, a friend of Rahman said: “He used to write a satirical column on facebook about against believers. He was an atheist. His killing has to be connected to his writing.”

Ibrahim Khalil, a fellow blogger who knew Rahman through events they organised, said Rahman was a “progressive” who wrote against religious extremism and repression of ethnic minorities.

“I can say he was a very humble man,” Khalil said.

The Dhaka Tribune reported that the dead man was a member of eight Facebook group pages including Atheist Bangladesh.

Rahman, who worked at a travel agency as an IT manager, is the third such blogger to have been murdered in the Muslim-majority country in the past two years.

How to silence a whole country.

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

A humanist and a true wit

Mar 30th, 2015 10:00 am | By

The IHEU on the brutal murder of Washiqur Rahman in Dhaka a few hours ago.

Washiqur Rahman’s Facebook banner declares “#IamAvijit”, after the leading secular and humanist blogger, Avijit Roy, who was murdered a month ago in Bangladesh.

Washiqur babu

This morning Washiqur Rahman himself was killedin similar circumstances: a machete attack by assailants on the streets of Dhaka. The brutal attack took place close to Rahman’s home. Police have reportedly taken two men into custody who were detained at the scene.

Bob Churchill, Director of Communications at the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) comments: “We are deeply saddened that yet another rationalist voice has been so brutally silenced in this vile backlash against atheist bloggers. Our thoughts are with Washiqur’s family and we stand in solidarity with the many individual thinkers and writers from Bangladesh who exercise their right to discuss religion — Islam in particular — frankly and critically. This is a human right, freedom of expression, and it should be respected and protected in Bangladesh, as it should be respected and protected everywhere.”

Asif Mohiuddin, who was also the victim of a machete attack in 2013, but survived and now lives abroad, described Washiqur on his Facebook page as a “humanist” and a true wit. He told the IHEU: “He was a good friend. We spent hours over tea discussing blogs a few years ago. He had a great sense of humor, his satires were amazing. I named him the George Carlin of Bangladesh! Personally he was very polite, a nice human being. He wanted with all his heart, a true secular country, where everyone can practice their freedom.”

They go on to give extracts from Washiqur’s writing. Read them.


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

He had criticised irrational religious beliefs

Mar 30th, 2015 9:36 am | By

The BBC reports on the brutal murder of Washiqur Rahman.

Two students at an Islamic seminary have reportedly been arrested.

Last month, Avijit Roy, a US-based writer who had criticised religious intolerance, was killed in a machete attack while he was visiting Dhaka.

His death sparked fresh concerns for freedom of speech in Bangladesh, where several secular-minded writers have been targeted by militants.

Bangladesh is a death-trap for writers who promote religious tolerance and freethinking.

Mr Rahman was killed on a busy street in Dhaka. Two of the suspected attackers, armed with meat cleavers, were caught near the scene.

The suspects told police they had targeted Mr Rahman because of his anti-Islamic writing, a police official told the Associated Press news agency.

Rejecting Islam is forbidden in Bangladesh. The penalty for disobedience is brutal murder.

Mr Rahman blogged under a pen-name, Kucchit Hasher Channa, or Ugly Duckling. According to the Dhaka Tribune newspaper, he had criticised irrational religious beliefs.

Imran Sarker, the head of a network of activists and bloggers in Bangladesh, told AFP news agency that Mr Rahman was “a progressive free thinker”.

Asif Mohiuddin, a Bangladeshi blogger who survived an attack in 2013, said he had often talked to Mr Rahman about “criticising fundamentalist groups”.

“I liked him for his satire, his sense of humour. He was a wonderful blogger and I’m very… upset right now,” he said.

Life is a horror movie.


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

They said it’s their duty

Mar 30th, 2015 9:17 am | By

Taslima tweeted this photo.

Embedded image permalink

Madrasa students Zikrulla & Arif killed Washikur Babu today. Killers said it’s their duty as muslims to kill freethinkers.

She also shared photos of Washikur Rahman’s hacked corpse. She wants everyone to know what that murderous violence looks like, so that we can imagine what it feels like.

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

Washikur Rahman

Mar 30th, 2015 9:03 am | By

Oh god no not again – another atheist blogger hacked to death by men with machetes in Dhaka.

Washikur Rahman, an atheist blogger, was hacked to death on a busy street in the centre of Dhaka on Monday morning, a police official said.

“Police on duty near the spot caught two attackers red-handed with three machetes as they were fleeing the scene after the incident,” police official Humayan Kabir told Reuters.

A fellow writer said Rahman wrote against religious fundamentalism on Facebook and across other social media sites using a pen name, although this could not be confirmed by police. The alias used by Rahman is said to be “Babu” (ugly duckling).

“He is a friend of mine and a fellow warrior. He was an atheist and a believer in humanism,” fellow blogger Asif Mohiuddin, who survived a brutal attack by Islamists in January 2013, told AFP via Facebook from Berlin.

swear words

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

A lesson

Mar 29th, 2015 6:05 pm | By

This is horrifying. Nushin Arbabzadah says religious violence has become normalized in Afghanistan.

The brutal lynching of Farkhunda, has revealed a number of significant issues regarding the state of Islam in Afghanistan.

The most crucial is that a fanatic strand of Islamic has become normalized, and accepted by a mainstream audience. The imam who incited the violence, the mob who lynched Farkhunda, the bystanders who filmed it — they were not the disenfranchised. They were ordinary Afghans, members of the middle class, including shop keepers. The initial public reaction was approval, expressed by public figures representing the spheres of culture and education.

They included a female deputy culture minister, who said, in reference to the murder, that nothing can stand in the way of the pure faith of the people. Rahel Musavi, a presenter on Tamadon TV, provided another public message of support saying, “She deserved to burn in the fire of the people’s anger.” And then there was the sermon of the imam, Ayaz Niazi, whose message can be summed up as follows: The people who killed Farkhunda were correct and the police have no right to arrest them. If they do, the people have the right to stage an uprising.


That kind of thing makes me absolutely despair of human beings. Educated people think deference to religion matters more than not setting a woman on fire.

A key characteristic of this version of Islam is that is encourages lawlessness. Niazi told the mosque audience, that their religious sensitivity is the supreme source of legitimacy, overriding the legitimacy of the state and law enforcement. But to what extent? According to the sermon, it would seem that the believer is entitled to kill first and ask questions later. Even if it turns out that the believer was wrong, the supremacy of his religious emotions are such that police has no right to arrest him. In other words, religious sentiment, not religion, is the supreme force and the prime source of legitimacy in Afghanistan. This was what Niazi was endorsing.

And she adds that he’s considered a moderate Muslim.

Many Afghans continue to believe that the supreme law is their own religious emotions. This belief is not natural, it’s carefully cultivated and sustained through collective effort. Some comply out of fear, others out of populist motivation, others because they are ignorant. Afghan activists are some of the few who have opposed the message. In return, they have received threats. The nature of these threats is summed up by the following statement that a TV personality working for a religious channel said that Farkhunda’s burning will be a lesson to the other whores.

Yes, it’s definitely a lesson to us whores.

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

As if we’re all ticking discrimination lawsuit timebombs

Mar 29th, 2015 5:20 pm | By

Mandy Brown comments on the ruling in Ellen Pao’s suit against Kleiner Perkins.

The law has been constructed in such a way that only extremely blatant discrimination counts. More subtle sexism (and racism) can hide behind all kinds of gender- or race-neutral justifications which can never be wholly dismissed. So Pao wasn’t passed up because she was a woman, but because she wasn’t likeable. She wasn’t fired because of her lawsuit, but because she didn’t have what it takes. She was both too pushy and not pushy enough. She wasn’t a “thought leader.”

The message here is you can discriminate all you want so long as you aren’t completely stupid about it.

“Thought leader”? That made me jump. I didn’t know it was a catchphrase; I thought it was something special that Edwina Rogers dreamed up for the Global not-Global Secular Thingummy. Thought leader. Lead me to your thought thinkings. Lead me into the sunny uplands of skilled thoughting. But not about gender bias or stereotype threat or double binds or always having to be better and still not getting the promotion – none of that kind of thoughting. Only the approved kind – lead me to that.

The Times quotes Peter Fenton, an investor at Benchmark, in response to the ruling: “I really worry more that there will be a chilling effect on the risk-taking appetite toward getting diversity into venture. Kleiner took the risk and look what happened.” Ho boy. Let’s unpack that. Kleiner did not “take a risk” in hiring a woman; Kleiner hired a demonstrably competent and talented woman who even by their own testimony seems to have been pretty damn good at her job. The notion that every woman you may hire has some measurable risk associated with her—as if we’re all ticking discrimination lawsuit timebombs—is itself discrimination. The “risk,” if there even is any, isn’t located in the women a firm may or may not hire, but in the structure of their own organization.

Oh come now. Be fair. Hiring a woman is pretty much like hiring a hungry bear. Women aren’t normal. They aren’t like everyone else. You don’t know where you are with them. They’re always flipping out, or spilling milk on the floor, or being way uglier than you wanted them to be. They’re nothing but risk. With men you know where you are.

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

Known as Mama Shabab

Mar 29th, 2015 4:09 pm | By

Remember Amal Farah on The Big Questions?


The Daily Mirror talks to her.

The police came to her door and told her her mother was a jihadist.

In the seven years since the two last saw each other, her mother had become a pivotal member of Al Shabab, the Somali jihadists ­behind the Westgate mall ­massacre in Nairobi.

Known as Mama Shabab, she ­allegedly ran a safe house for suicide bombers and Western fighters recruited into the militant Islamic organisation.

The police officers told Amal, 34, to Google her mother’s name if she wanted to know why she was in trouble.

So later on she did.

“There were all these ­pictures of people injured by ­suicide bombs.

“As I read about what she’d done I felt so alone. I couldn’t just turn to my colleagues and say, ‘Guess what? My mum’s a wanted terrorist .’

“I couldn’t believe my own ­mother was involved. I cried non-stop for days after that.”

Can you imagine it? I can’t…only the edges of it maybe.

At the age of six she was made to wear the hijab, a headdress.

When she was ten her family fled Somalia after being granted refugee ­status in Canada.

But any hope of a Western ­upbringing was quashed after she was enrolled in a strict Islamic school.

She said: “Suddenly I was wasn’t ­allowed to play with my male cousins. We weren’t allowed to listen to music. Anything that was deemed frivolous, anything that took you away from the ­importance of Allah, was forbidden.”

Everything good in life is forbidden, so that you can pay all your attention to something that isn’t there.

But she got out.

It was only when she began ­studying for a ­degree in molecular ­biology that a new world opened up.

“It was a ­revelation,” she said. “I met ­atheists, Christians, Jews, Hindus – they challenged me about my views, and I about theirs. It was an ­incredible sensation to be able to ­discuss ideas without fear.”

She felt in her heart that to be true to herself she could no longer call ­herself a Muslim.

Recalling the day she broached the subject with her family, Amal said: “My mum’s first words were, ‘You’re going to hell!’ Then my uncle flew over from Saudi Arabia and for three days I was locked in the house and forced to listen to him.”

It didn’t work, so her mother cut all ties, and then moved to Dubai. That’s the last time Amal saw her.

Then she married a Jewish man.

Death threats followed soon after.

She revealed: “It was frightening. I was sent death threats telling me to come back into Islam or else. I became paranoid. Leaving my house and going to work made me scared.”

Since finding out about her mother, Amal has become a member of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, ­speaking against radical Islam, and of One Law For All, a campaign group.

Her life now is one that she never thought she would have as a child.

She says: “All my dreams have come true. I have a wonderful family, an ­incredible husband and I just feel so ­fortunate. Sometimes I pinch myself. It’s the life I never thought I’d have.”

But she misses her sister. She also misses her mother, but doesn’t plan ever to see her again.

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

A lone and persecuted voice

Mar 29th, 2015 12:38 pm | By

Nick Cohen reviews Nigel Farage’s campaign biography and finds yet another “get me I’m an outsider” phony.

Farage is an attack dog who poses as an underdog. He’s the small-minded man who pretends he’s the friend of the little guy. He writes as if he were a dissident in a dictatorship: a lone and persecuted voice, who has suffered for telling truth to power. The results are occasionally hilarious. The BBC and press are always out to get him, even though most of the Conservative press supports Ukip’s policies, and the BBC never has him off air.

They promote him, but they don’t cuddle and squeeze him.

Farage’s vainglorious anecdotes are accompanied by a long, low moan about how he could have made “an enormous amount of money” if he had not chosen to leave the City and enter politics. So relentless is the self-pity, so often does Farage play the victim card, that there are times when this book feels like the Home Counties equivalent of a martyrdom video.

Hasn’t he read the memo? He’s supposed to be thick-skinned and resilient. A thick-skinned resilient outsider underdog.

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


Mar 29th, 2015 12:06 pm | By

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

The priest delivered his homily

Mar 29th, 2015 10:54 am | By

What not to say about rape:

A Catholic priest in Melbourne has reportedly been criticised for a speech in which he said Jill Meagher would have been at home instead of out on the night she was raped and killed if she was more “faith filled”.

Meagher was murdered by Adrian Bayley after a night out Melbourne in September 2012. He was sentenced to life in prison.

The priest delivered his homily at an end-of-term service for a Catholic primary school in Melbourne on Friday and radio station 3AW reported he held up a newspaper article with a picture of Bayley on it to make his point. The report says he told a crowd of about 100 that if Meagher had been more “faith filled” she would have been home and “not walking down Sydney Road at 3am”.

That. That’s something not to say about rape. So many reasons – one of them being the casual dismissal of women’s right to walk around in the world, and the implication that there’s something immoral about women doing so, and the implication that if they were more god-obsessed they would stay home, obsessing over god, and that that would be a good thing.

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

Nothing to do with higher education

Mar 29th, 2015 10:48 am | By

Robert Reich thinks college fraternities should be abolished. I do too.

There are exceptions but for the most part fraternities are elitist, exclusive, and privileged. They have nothing to do with higher education. And they’re periodically mired in scandal involving hazing (such as the University of Wisconsin-Madison frat’s degrading hazing); racism (the video of Sigma Alpha Epsilon members calling for the lynching of African-Americans); sexual assault (the University of Maryland frat brothers’ pro-rape emails, and allegations of drug dealing and sexual assault in a North Carolina State frat); degradation of women (Penn State fraternity’s secret Facebook page for sharing photos of nude passed out women); destructive drunkenness (University of Michigan frat brothers destroying a ski resort in a drunken rage). The list goes on, and this is just in the last few months.

They’re bro-culture systematized and glorified, so naturally they promote brutality and sexism.

Some say “boys will be boys” and if they’re not in a fraternity they’ll do all this somewhere else. Rubbish. A much-cited 2007 study shows fraternity members are 300% more likely to commit rape than non-affiliated students (this was the third study confirming the same data.)

What I’m saying. Boys don’t have to be like that, they’re not inherently like that, but shunt them into an organization built around bro-culture, and you get the expected result.

Some say I’m disregarding freedom of association, and that college students have a right to hang out with whomever they wish. Well, yes, but most fraternities depend on university recognition for direct subsidies such as land or buildings and indirect benefits such as tolerance of underage drinking.

Tssssss. Of course college students have a right to hang out with anyone they want to, but they don’t need designated buildings or screening processes or rituals. Fraternities are way more than a way to hang out with anyone you want to – and also less, since they exclude all but a handful of people.

A pox on them.


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

Well he didn’t see that coming

Mar 29th, 2015 10:19 am | By

Indiana is surprised and, frankly, a little hurt by all the hostility that has greeted its friendly new law inviting everyone to treat selected sets of people like pariahs.

Three days after signing legislation widely criticized as a “license to discriminate” against LGBT people, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence says he didn’t anticipate “the hostility that’s been directed at our state.”

Pence told the Indianapolis Star on Saturday he’s been in discussions with legislative leaders this weekend, and will support legislation to “clarify the intent” of the religious freedom that has created a firestorm of criticism, boycotts and backlash from civic leaders to business leaders, and even the White House.

It’s all a big misunderstanding. Poor Indiana.

The measure, which takes effect in July, prohibits state laws that “substantially burden” a person’s ability to follow his or her religious beliefs. The definition of “person” includes religious institutions, businesses and associations.

Critics say the catalyst for the measure was to allow businesses, such as florists and bakeries, to refuse services to same-sex couples following the legalization of same-sex marriage in the state.

Pence and other supporters of the law contend discrimination claims are overblown and insist it will keep the government from compelling people to provide services they find objectionable on religious grounds.

That’s a completely different thing. You can see that, right? Keeping the government from compelling people to provide services they find objectionable on religious grounds has nothing to do with allowing businesses, such as florists and bakeries, to refuse services to same-sex couples. Nothing at all. It’s just that, if a florist or a baker wants to refuse services to same sex couples on religious grounds, the government can’t force them to. See? Totally different.

I’m so relieved.

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

From the Tunis march

Mar 29th, 2015 10:02 am | By

Some snaps via Twitter.

And another.

Embedded image permalink

One more.

View this content on BBCWorld's website

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

At the museum

Mar 29th, 2015 9:55 am | By

In Tunis today, thousands of people marched to the Bardo Museum in protest against terrorism and death and culture-murder, and in favor of freedom and art and museums and human flourishing.

Chanting “Tunisia is free! Terrorism out!” they marched to the Bardo Museum, the scene of an attack in which 21 tourists and a Tunisian died.

French President Francois Hollande and other world leaders attended a ceremony at the museum.

Demonstrators waved Tunisian flags and held up slogans of “Not Afraid” and “We Are Bardo” as they marched, surrounded by a heavy security presence.

“We have shown we are a democratic people, Tunisians are moderate, and there is no room for terrorists here,” demonstrator Kamel Saad told Reuters.

It wasn’t all love and roses though. It’s complicated.

Some leftist political groups chose to boycott the rally. They object to the participation of an Islamic party, who they hold accountable for the rise of Islamic extremism in the country.

Well that would trouble me too. An Islamic party is of its nature theocratic, in a way that an Islamic group or a group of Muslims needn’t be.


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