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.

The malice is unquestionable

Oct 18th, 2012 12:39 pm | By

How useful, how apropos, how…right. An online article at the New Yorker on the wrongness of the idea that harassment is part of our glorious heritage of free speech.

It starts with Amanda Todd.

Todd’s suicide is easily analogized to Tyler Clementi’s, mostly because the  public has diagnosed both cases as the result of “cyber-bullying.” Yet, as a  descriptive term, “cyber-bullying” feels deliberately vague. Somewhere in the  midst of the “mob” there is usually at least one person whose cruelty exceeds  the tossing off of a stray insult. In Clementi’s case, the magazine’s Ian Parker   chalked the harasser’s motives up to “shiftiness and bad faith,” the kinds  of things that criminal statutes can’t easily be invoked to cover. But with  Todd’s harasser, the malice is unquestionable.

As is the malice of our harassers. That’s why we dislike them so much. It’s because their malice is so wildly out of proportion to any real evil – or malice – of ours. It’s because there’s a difference between an online argument or quarrel that lasts a few hours or days and then ends, with either reconciliation or going separate ways, and a sustained daily campaign of vicious defamatory harassment.

And now Michelle Dean really gets into it. It’s as if she’d been reading over our shoulders.

It is a cultural myth—one particular to the Internet—that the methods of a  harasser are fundamentally “legal,” and that the state is helpless to intervene  in all cases like this. The systematic way the harasser allegedly followed Todd  to new schools, repeatedly posting the images and threatening to do it again,  makes it textbook harassment regardless of the medium. Indeed, in Todd’s native  Canada, cyber-harassment is prosecuted under the general harassment provision of the  Canadian criminal code. And in the United States, most states have added specific laws against  cyber-harassment and bullying to their general legislation of harassment. At the  federal level, there is the Federal Interstate Stalking Punishment and Prevention Act,  which covers harassment that crosses state and national lines. While all of  these laws are subject to the limitations of the First Amendment, the First  Amendment generally doesn’t protect threats and harassment. If people are not  being prosecuted for these acts, the fault lies in the social alchemy of law  enforcement, the way the human prejudices of judges, juries, and prosecutors  inflect the black letter. Put otherwise, the power is there—the cultural mores  are what is preventing the laws from being successfully invoked.

There are, after all, consequences to the widespread belief that these acts of  harassment are regrettable but not ultimately punishable. Specifically, it  obscures truths about the practice—first, that this kind of thing is not merely  the province of children who know not what they do. While the police have yet to  confirm the identity of Todd’s harasser, the “hacktivist” group Anonymous has identified an adult man who  lived nearby as the culprit. (He denies the harassment, though he told a  Canadian television news crew that he did indeed know Todd.) It remains to be seen whether  they’ve pointed the finger at the right person. But the theory—that an adult  would have targeted a teen-ager for such abuse, that he would have tricked her  and been indifferent to the price she paid—is not merely plausible. It is a  thing that happens every day on the Internet.

For many people it seems to be what the Internet is for – targeting people, especially women, for endless pauseless abuse.

She goes on to Michael Brutsch.

What you could call the Brutschean world view—which takes anonymity as the  only meaningful form of privacy, and a key element of free speech—is nearly an  article of faith in these lower levels of the Internet. But it has tentacles  that extend to higher, more powerful places. Scholars often approvingly quote founder John Perry Barlow’s “Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace,” which, among  other utopian visions, holds that “our identities have no bodies, so, unlike  you, we cannot obtain order by physical coercion.” The founding myth of the  Internet was its offer of a way to escape physical reality; the freedom to shape  yourself, to say anything, became a sort of sacred object.

But, as the scholar Mary Anne Franks has observed, women haven’t actually achieved this “bodiless” freedom online. They are embodied in distributed pictures and in  sexual comments, whether they like it or not. The power to get away from  yourself, like everything else, is unevenly distributed. Women have become, as  Franks put it, “unwilling avatars,” unable to control their own images online,  and then told to put up with it for the sake of “freedom,” for the good of the  community. And then they are incorrectly told, even if the public is behind  them, that they have no remedies in the law. They are shouted down by people  with a view of freedom of speech more literal than that held by any judge.

Yes, and yes, and yes.

I did have ”bodiless” freedom for several years, or if I didn’t I was unaware of the fact. But then after a few years I didn’t any more. I got away with it for awhile and then I no longer did. I’m an unwilling avatar. That’s freedom of speech, bitch!

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

Mere superstructure

Oct 18th, 2012 11:00 am | By

Almost as if in reply to the “liberal bullies” article, some US publishers say that words matter.

Despite promises to reform their textbooks, the Saudi education system continues to indoctrinate children with hatred and incitement. Seven current and former heads of major publishing houses address the critical importance of words.

The critical importance of words? But aren’t we always being told that words don’t matter? That we “radfems” are just batshit crazy, making all this fuss about mere “werdz” because it’s only fists and sticks that make any difference.

As current and former heads of major American publishing houses, we know the value of words. They inform actions and shape the world views of all, especially children. We are writing to express our profound disappointment that the Saudi government continues to print textbooks inciting hatred and violence against religious minorities.

Oh but there’s no hatred or violence directed at religious minorities in Saudi Arabia. That never happens!!1

A ninth-grade textbook published by the Ministry of Education states, “The Jews and the Christians are enemies of the believers, and they cannot approve of Muslims.” An eighth-grade textbook says, “The Apes are the people of the Sabbath, the Jews; and the Swine are the infidels of the communion of Jesus, the Christians.” These are just two examples of a long list of hate-filled passages.

Children who are indoctrinated with such hatred are susceptible to engage in bigotry and even violence. Hate speech is the precursor to genocide. First you get to hate and then you kill. This makes peaceful coexistence difficult, if not impossible.

No no no no no. That can’t be right, because free speech.

H/t Seth.

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

It’s all trolling, when you come right down to it

Oct 18th, 2012 8:14 am | By

The pro-misogyny (yes, misogyny) crowd is passing around an article on “liberal bullying.” Of course they are. The people who stalk a few bloggers day in and day out for a year and a half are “brave heroes” and freedom fighters; the people they stalk relentlessly are liberal bullies.

Still, there’s something to it, at least if the descriptions are accurate.

Increasingly, I’ve started recognizing this kind of behavior for what it is: privilege-checking as a form of internet sport. It’s a kind of trolling, with all the politics I agree with, but motivations and execution that turns my stomach. It’s well-intended (SO well-intended), but when the motivations seem to be less about opening dialogue about the issues, and more about performance, righteousness, and intolerance for those who don’t agree with you… well, I’m not on-board.

You know what it reminds me of? The Slacktiverse. There are some liberal bullies there, I think – except that they’re not liberal in the sense I use it. Ariel Meadow Stallings uses it in a different sense, though, and the bullies at Slacktiverse fit that sense. And they ooze righteousness.

There’s such a thing as the Social Justice Troll; it’s a meme.

A commenter has some doubts though.

What it sounds like you’re saying with this post is “I am tired if having to think about this stuff, and dealing with it is annoying me.” Now, by labeling people who call someone out as a troll and a bully, we can dismiss those people, and silence their concerns. The problem is, it won’t be the balloon examples– and this is already happening– it will be the examples of calling out overt misogyny (as in the skeptic community) or racism that will see the brunt of this labeling.

And oh gee golly guess what that’s already happening, and has been happening for lo these many months.

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

A dictionary fight

Oct 18th, 2012 7:35 am | By

Here’s an interesting new development. Australia’s Macquarie Dictionary has expanded its definition of “misogyny” in response to Gillard’s speech on the subject last week.

The dictionary currently defines misogyny as “hatred of women”, but will now add a second definition to include “entrenched prejudice against women”, suggesting Abbott discriminated against women with his sexist views.

“The language community is using the word in a slightly different way,” dictionary editor Sue Butler told Reuters.

In her parliamentary speech, Gillard attacked Abbott, a conservative Catholic, for once suggesting men were better adapted to exercise authority, and for once saying that abortion was “the easy way out”. He also stood in front of anti-Gillard protesters with posters saying “ditch the witch”.

Out comes the sarcasm.

Long recognised as a “hatred of women”, misogyny will now encompass “entrenched prejudices of [sic] women”, even though there already existed a word that included this concept, “sexism”.

He (Patrick Carlyon) means prejudices about women, not of women; der. But what about the substance?

I’ve often found myself having to decide which word to use, in these recent [cough] discussions. I often do opt for “sexism,” but not always, and there’s a reason for that. Sexism doesn’t necessarily include hatred. Then again misogyny doesn’t necessarily include sexism, so neither word says everything. But – really, there are times when you need to make clear that what we’re talking about is not just habits or prejudices, it’s hatred and contempt.

But Patrick Carylon seems to think that sexism is not merely not identical to misogyny, but a different thing altogether, even the opposite.

Given the ever-changing flow of words and their meaning, Macquarie has announced a raft of further definition shadings to reflect recent political events and current affairs:

Dog: To be known also as “cat”, after a two-year-old boy at an East Brighton childcare centre pointed at a chihuahua and meowed.

Yes: To be known also as “no”, after a recent Tony Abbott bumble, when he said in a TV interview that he had not read a BHP statement and the next day declared he had read it before the interview.

No: To be known also as “yes”, given Julia Gillard’s election promise that there would be no carbon tax under her Government, soon before her Government announced plans for a carbon tax.

Uh huh. When’s the last time Patrick Carylon was called a witch?

There are letters to The Australian.

MACQUARIE dictionary editor Sue Butler is applying the logic of Humpty Dumpty in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass. Are we to accept that the word misogyny is what some feminists choose it to mean, neither more nor less?

The idea that the Macquarie would change a word’s meaning to lend credence to the Prime Minister’s incorrect and hypocritical use in parliament last week and the feminist views of an isolated few is extraordinary.

The evolution of language should enable users to communicate with greater semantic precision, not less. How do we now differentiate between those who demonstrate prejudice against women and those who have a genuine hatred for them? Or has the intellectual Left mandated that there shall no longer be a difference?

I am alarmed that the editors of the dictionary are more concerned with taking a political stance than with safeguarding the English language.

Carina Dellinger, Broadbeach, Qld

I think the reaction is political too. (Point out the obvious much? Yes, I do.) I think it comes from people who don’t want their casual breezy indifferent sexism called misogyny. “It’s not misogyny unless I explicitly say that I hate all women!” Yeh, see that misconception is why it’s a good idea to tweak the definition. Because yes it is – it is misogyny if you call the women you dislike “bitches” and the rest of the vocabulary. It is. If you can’t quarrel with a woman without letting the epithets fly, then you are a misogynist.

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

Scalzi on Brutsch

Oct 17th, 2012 6:13 pm | By

The philosophical primate recommended John Scalzi’s article on Redditt and Brutsch and “free speech” and creepy woman-hating shit, and sure enough.

If someone bleats to you about any of this being a “free speech” issue, you can safely mark them as either ignorant or pernicious — probably ignorant, as the understanding of what “free speech” means in a constitutional sense here in the US is, shall we say, highly constrained in the general population. Additionally and independently, the sort of person who who says “free speech” when they mean “I like doing creepy things to other people without their consent and you can’t stop me so fuck you ha ha ha ha” is pretty clearly a mouth-breathing asshole who in the larger moral landscape deserves a bat across the bridge of the nose and probably knows it. Which is why — unsurprisingly — so many of them choose to be anonymous and/or use pseudonyms on Reddit while they get their creep on.

We’ve been getting the “you can’t stop them so fuck you ha ha ha ha” line right here all afternoon. It’s less disgusting than you can’t stop me, but it’s still very damn irritating. Yes I know I can’t stop you, but that doesn’t mean it’s an admirable or non-stupid thing to do.

In the case of Adrian Chen, the Gawker writer who revealed Violentacrez’s real-life identity, I think he’s perfectly justified in doing so. Whether certain denizens of Reddit like it or not, Chen was practicing journalism, and writing a story of a figure of note (and of notoriety) on one of the largest and most influential sites on the Internet. They may believe that Mr. Brutsch should have an expectation not to have his real life identity revealed on Gawker, but the question to ask here is “why?” Why should that be the expectation? How does an expectation of pseudonymity on a Web site logically extend to an expectation of pseudonymity in the real world? How does one who beats his chest for the right of free speech on a Web site (where in fact he has no free speech rights) and to have that right to free speech include the posting of pictures of women who did not consent to have their pictures taken or posted then turn around and criticize Gawker for pursuing an actually and legitimately constitutionally protected exercise of the free press, involving a man who has no legal or ethical presumption of anonymity or pseudonymity in the real world? How do you square one with the other?

Yes but women who have legs and tits and bums and genitals are sluts and deserve to have their pictures taken and posted without their consent. That’s how it works.


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

If your speech reveals you to be a loathsome creep

Oct 17th, 2012 5:55 pm | By

A guest post by the philosophical primate. Originally a comment on Using anonymity to speak more freely.

Reddit’s terms of service do not in any way guarantee users’ privacy, and anyone who thinks their privacy is protected when using the internet is an idiot anyway. The only privacy that actually *matters* here is the invaded privacy of women and girls having their images exploited without their consent, which is morally reprehensible regardless of its legality. John Scalzi wrote something particularly clear and scathing on this topic yesterday: I encourage all to read it.

The key idea that deserves attention here is that protection of privacy — even anonymity — has a purpose: Whether legally or morally speaking, that purpose is NOT to protect people from the consequences of their actions. Rather, the purpose is to protect people from unwarranted, unjust negative consequences from morally blameless actions: We ought to protect the anonymity of whistleblowers who expose corruption because they are doing something good that might cause them to suffer bad consequences. We ought to protect the privacy of medical records because it’s good that people feel free to seek medical care (especially mental health care) without fear of social stigma or job loss or other negative consequences. We ought to to protect a sphere of private life from the intrusive monitoring of government because powerful institutions have both the motivation and means to abuse that information in ways too numerous to contemplate.

In contrast, we have no sound moral reason to protect the privacy of creeps who use anonymity as a shield from the negative consequences for their own antisocial behavior. More generally, it is rank moral idiocy to argue that anonymity ought to shield someone from the consequence of morally blameworthy actions.

Free speech (as Scalzi points out) isn’t relevant to this discussion at all in any legal sense: Reddit is a privately owned website, not a government institution or public forum. However, in the broader sense that silencing unpopular opinions can be a form of tyranny of the majority, it is potentially relevant: But even John Stuart Mill, the most ardent and eloquent defender of free speech in this broader sense, never argued that freedom of speech even slightly implied freedom from the consequences of your speech. If your speech reveals you to be a loathsome creep with no respect for other human beings and you suffer the natural consequences — that others loath you, lose respect for you, and shun you — you have no grounds for complaint.

Of course, the speech of Brutsch is not truly minority opinion at all: It is the speech of the powerful, the message of patriarchy and rape culture, the voice of the abuser and oppressor. It would be downright hilarious to watch Brutsch and his fellow travelers claim the role of victimhood in this situation, if only there weren’t so many loathsome idiots willing to accept their claims of victimhood at face value.

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

Using anonymity to speak more freely

Oct 17th, 2012 10:56 am | By

Damon Poeter at PC mag takes a more rational view than Redditt. (Probably 99% of human beings take a more rational view than Redditt.)

This isn’t very complicated. Posting pictures of people without their knowledge is both an invasion of their privacy and a form of outing them to the Internet. Doing so may be protected speech, but it doesn’t mean it’s good speech, or speech that shouldn’t be shamed from the hilltops as an exercise of one’s own free speech. What’s more, Adrian Chen himself didn’t “do anything illegal” by exposing Michael Brutsch (and yes, Redditors didn’t do anything illegal by blocking Gawker links, etc., etc. — the Ferris Wheel can go round and round, but at some point we have to get off and take a stand for something, I think).

If you live by the sword of exposing strangers to ridicule, contempt, and objectification on the Internet, it’s pretty rich when you throw a hissy fit when the other side of that blade swings your way.


The last refuge of Violentacrez and his supporters is the claim that upsetting people’s sensitivities via trolling is socially valuable in that it breaks down cultural taboos and pierces the grim veil of political correctness. Perhaps, in some instances. Trolls come in many shapes and forms, some much more aware of the subversive nature of their activities than others, as explained quite well by Whitney Phillips over at The Atlantic.

Well, there’s a difference between rick-rolling someone, disrupting the flow of an online conversation, or even pointing them to goatse, and actively invading people’s privacy IRL. There’s a difference between using anonymity to speak more freely than you otherwise could and using it to bully, smear, and slut shame others.

Well actually there isn’t, not literally. That is, using anonymity to bully, smear, and slut shame others really is using anonymity to speak more freely than you otherwise could. The description fits. That means you have to make the distinction in a different way. You have to point out that “more freely” is not all there is to it; you have to note that “more freely” covers a lot of territory, and not all of it is good or valuable or fair.

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

The tasteful Redditt

Oct 17th, 2012 10:36 am | By

Reddit speaks. Reddit says what it’s going to do about stuff like “creepshots.” Nothing, of course.

But Redditt doesn’t admit the nature of the stuff it’s going to do nothing about. Reddit bullshits. Reddit pretends the subject is “distasteful” stuff. That makes Redditt a lying dog.

Social news site Reddit will not censor “distasteful” sections of its website, its chief executive has said.

The site has recently been criticised over sections in which users shared images of, among other things, women photographed without their knowledge.

Yishan Wong told the site’s moderators legal content should not be removed, even if “we find it odious or if we personally condemn it”.

“We stand for free speech… we are not going to ban distasteful subreddits.”

Oh, fuck you, you piece of shit. Publishing pictures of women taken without their knowledge or consent is not “distasteful.” It’s not free speech (it’s not speech at all, for a start). It’s not some glorious liberal principle you get to “stand for.” It’s rapey invasive violation of other people.

In a posting made to a private area of the site for moderators and administrators, Mr Wong described the situation as “a bit of a pickle”.

“There sure has been a lot of trouble lately for Reddit, and I’d like to talk about about that before I nip off for a spot of tea,” he wrote. He went on to add: “We know that some will not agree with us. We also think that if someday, in the far future, we do become a universal platform for human discourse, it would not do if in our youth, we decided to censor things simply because they were distasteful.”

However, Mr Wong – who used to be an engineer at Facebook – said the website would continue to enforce a policy to not allow “doxxing”, a term given to the process of outing a member by posting personal details online.

“We will ban the posting of personal information, because it incites violence and harassment against specific individuals,” Mr Wong said.

He blamed past instances of misguided “witch-hunts” for this rule.

Has it all. Deep concern for their privacy combined with total indifference to the privacy of outsiders. Self-pitying accusations of  ”witch-hunts” combined with determined protection of the violation of outsiders. We are The Good People who “stand for” free speech; They are The Bad People who do “witch-hunts” and have no right to their own privacy.

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

Wolf Hall

Oct 17th, 2012 10:10 am | By

Hilary Mantel won the Booker for the sequel to Wolf Hall. I just got Wolf Hall out of the library a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve been reading it, and…

I don’t like it. I not only don’t like it, I also think it’s not very good. I don’t think it’s terrible; I’ve seen far worse; but I don’t think it’s very good. I think it’s padded, the way so much “literary” fiction is padded. I’m increasingly allergic to padded literary fiction.

Plus she has this weird thing where you’re supposed to get that an oddly non-specific “he” in any particular passage is always Cromwell, except the trouble with that is that there are often other “he”s in the passage and it really isn’t as clear which she means as she apparently intended it to be. Or maybe she didn’t bother about it. At any rate it turns out that that doesn’t work very well. I wonder why she thought it would.

Overall it’s just boring. It should be good material but she makes it boring. The opening scene is far from boring, but then after that…Boredom.

Anyone else bored by it? (Jean Kazez tweeted her dislike of it yesterday, and a couple of us chimed in.) Any defenders?

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

Literal. Metaphorical. Literal.

Oct 17th, 2012 9:37 am | By

Heh heh heh. Jesus has a hermeneuticon. Well of course he does.

Find out what kind at Jesus and Mo.

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

Another hateful thing

Oct 16th, 2012 5:59 pm | By

Thugs with guns killed a volunteer who was handing out polio vaccine to children under 5 in Baluchistan.

Not much more to say really.

Except this.

Pakistan is one of only three countries where the highly infectious crippling disease remains endemic, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria.

There have been 30 confirmed cases of polio in Pakistan this year according to the government, 22 of them in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

Another day, another bad thing done.

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

Tacitus in Karachi

Oct 16th, 2012 5:28 pm | By

Kunwar Khuldune Shahid writes in Pakistan Today that it’s stupid to blame the Taliban while defending the ideology behind the Taliban.

Let’s stop carving out quasi religions, or defending ideologies that we’ve all grown up blindly following as the truth. Let’s call a spade a spade instead and realize that at the end of the day as much as you might have a cardiac arrest admitting it, the root cause of religious extremism is: religion – especially in its raw crude form, which again is the only ‘authentic’ form.

Every single religion has a violent streak. Every single one of them orders violence and killing in one form or the other for the ‘non-believers’. One can quote verses from every holy scripture depicting loathe and despise for anyone who doesn’t believe in the said scripture and its propagator. Sure, those scriptures would have the occasional fit of peace as well, but that only springs into the open when it is recognized as the only supreme authority. Every religion is a ‘religion of peace’ as long as it formulates the status quo; there is no concept of ideological symbiosis in any religion. When a tyrannical regime or dictator calls for peace with the condition that they would reign supreme we label them as oppressors, but when this is done in the name of religion we tout it as maneuvers of ‘harmony’.

Tacitus. It always makes me think of Tacitus. Ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant – where they make a wilderness, and call it peace.

The Taliban have defended the attack on Malala Yousafzai through scriptures and historic precedents. You can clamor all you want about how there is a lack of understanding on the part of the Taliban, but how on earth can you refute clear messages of violence and historical evidence – scribed by historians of your faith – depicting brutality on the part of some of the most illustrious people in the history of the religion? It is easy to launch vitriol against the Taliban for attacking a 14-year-old girl, but it is also equally hypocritical and pathetic when you eulogize people from your history who did the same in the past, who massacred masses, destroyed lands, pulverized places of worship, raped women, just because they ostensibly did it in the name of your religion. Don’t blame the Taliban for following their lead, don’t blame the Taliban for using violence as a means to cement religious superiority – something that has been done for centuries – don’t blame the Taliban for the fact that you don’t have the guts to call a spade a spade even though it has been spanking your backside for centuries now.

Yes. Watch your back, Mr Shahid.

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


Oct 16th, 2012 4:42 pm | By

There’s a dead rat outside my door. Ew. I’m hoping a crow will come along and take it away. Or a cat. Or a dog. Or a swat team. Or the National Guard. Or the mayor. Or a wolf. Or a raccoon. Or a bald eagle. Or that neighbor with the very loud voice.

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

Welcome to Islamist Mali

Oct 16th, 2012 3:43 pm | By

The glories of life in Northern Mali now that the Islamists have taken over.

Women and girls no longer have to suffer the indignity of having naked hair and necks, because they are all required to wear the hijab.

Poor Toula for instance used to be able to swim in the Niger river, but happily for her she can no longer do that.

“These barbarians have refused everything. They don’t want to see girls bathing,” says Toula who, like other residents, asked her last name not be used.

The freedoms formerly enjoyed by Toula and other women in Gao, previously one of the region’s most cosmopolitan and lively towns, disappeared almost overnight.

Most noticeably, women are now forced to wear the hijab, a broad scarf that covers the entire head and neck but leaves the face exposed.

“I can’t stand how I am at the moment, covered in a veil from head to toe. It’s as if I was in prison,” 15-year-old Aicha said.

She’s just confused. Being stuffed into a veil from head to toe is liberation.

Toula and Aicha were part of a group of girls and young women who recently spoke to AFP in Gao, one of the key cities to have been seized by the country’s Islamist advance after a March 22 coup in the capital Bamako left Mali’s army in disarray.

“We are no longer free. That’s all there is to it. Nobody for the moment wants to free us,” Toula said.

“I don’t want sharia. Mali is a secular country and should stay that way.”

All the girls who spoke to AFP said they have been living a nightmare since the introduction of sharia law.

Among the many new restrictions: They cannot smoke or drink alcohol and anything considered “haram”, or against Islamic law, is forbidden, including publicly listening to Western music or having sex outside marriage.

“We are totally against the implementation of sharia. But we can’t say that in public, for security reasons,” says Mimi, her eyes hidden behind a black veil.

Her neighbour fled town “because she could no longer handle the situation. Even at 45 degrees (Celsius, 113 Fahrenheit), we have to dress up as if it was cold. It’s just too much,” Mimi said.

Maybe things aren’t quite so harsh in Timbuktu

A teenaged girl received 60 lashes in Timbuktu after Islamist extremists convicted her of speaking to men on the street.

The girl, about 15 years old, was allegedly caught standing alongside men by the Islamists of Ansar Dine who now run Timbuktu.

“The Islamists charged that the girl was warned five times by Islamist police but she continued to speak to men in the street. After the hearing, the Islamists gave 60 lashes to the girl.”

The Islamists “convicted” her? At a “hearing”? Please. Some thugs told a girl what to do, she didn’t obey them, so they assaulted her.

So there we have the glories of life in Northern Mali now that the Islamists have taken over


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

Higher-level cognitive deficits

Oct 16th, 2012 12:42 pm | By

The chances are good that at best Malala will be less than she would have been if those shits hadn’t shot her in the head. Time talked to a brain injury expert.

When will they be able to tell what the long-term damage is?

Months to years. It’s six months to a year before you get a sense of what the long-term damage is. Her recovery and prognosis depend on what the initial neurological deficits are. Young people do much better, prognostically, for recovery. In the early stages there may be a lot of fairly dramatic improvements. The question becomes, What will be the long-term deficits, compared to her baseline? That’s often a much more difficult question that takes time. She may be able to walk and talk, but will she be able to function? I’m sure she’s a very bright girl. Will she be at the same level?

Is it possible that she’ll be able to return to how she was before the injury?

I would say, given the severity of the injury, there is a strong possibility there may be some deficits. That doesn’t necessarily mean she can’t function and have a fulfilling life, but [there is a chance of] higher-level cognitive deficits.

Which is what they wanted. It’s what they all want. Women should be stupid and ignorant, so that they can’t fight back.

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

It’s called charisma

Oct 16th, 2012 10:48 am | By

Some grey bloke has a new video about charismatic atheist doodz…

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

Pesky atheists pretending to like science

Oct 15th, 2012 5:11 pm | By

I want to post a picture of a Mars rock. It has to be a pyramidal rock. Luckily, there is a picture of a pyramidal rock at NASA.

[robotic voice] “Look at this glorious picture of a pyramidal rock on Mars. I am such a geek.”

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS


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

Microaggression and macroaggression

Oct 15th, 2012 4:12 pm | By

Drop everything and read this article by Soraya Chemaly on a book about the link between violence against girls and women and military conflict.

If you take one idea away from the year 2012 this should be this:

“The very best predictor of a state’s peacefulness is not its level of wealth, its level of democracy, or its ethno-religious identity; the best predictor of a state’s peacefulness is how well its women are treated. What’s more, democracies with higher levels of violence against women are as insecure and unstable as nondemocracies.”

U.S.? Look at yourself in the mirror. 

There is a direct relationship between the treatment of women in everyday life — in homes, on streets, at schools and work — and a nation’s propensity for engaging in war.  It turns out that the security of girls and women — how safe they are in their homes, in their schools, on their streets,  is the measure of the security of the state they live in. In very few countries do we have a clear and culturally evident equality in the equal value of boys and girls and in very few states are girls secure.

Consider the simplest fact that everywhere, when you want to humiliate a boy or a “real man” you accuse him of being a “girl.” If the U.S., if he’s a rookie football player, you give him a little girl’s backpack to show him his “place”; if he’s an Iraqi prisoner, you make him wear girls’ underwear to demonstrate your complete power over his body.  In Afghanistan, cross-dressed dancing boys are “invisible victims” of rape.  It’s a shaming tool and a cheap weapon.  If you’re a boy — you understand your intrinsic superior value.  If you’re a girl or a woman it’s a slap in the face every time you see it or hear it.  Most of us brush it off and go about our business. But it wears away in your brain nonetheless. How can it not? It really is everywhere a subtle, backhanded reminder that your way of being is a way to denigrate and insult others.

The linguistic and actual subjugation of girls is a ubiquitous cultural meme that feeds a real and deadly harm. And, it turns out, has everything to do with war.

This is what I keep saying (except the war part, which I didn’t know). I also keep getting called a bitch and a cunt for saying it – which I think proves my point, but the bitchers and cunters think…what do they think? I don’t know. They pretend to think it doesn’t matter, but I don’t really believe them. I think they think it does matter and that’s why they do it. They want to do the kind of damage it does. Why? I don’t know. A multi-year bad mood maybe?

Sex and World Peace was written by Valerie M. Hudson, Bonnie Ballif-Spanvill, Mary Caprioli, and Chad F. Emmett.  Their findings are derived from more than 10 years of study.  During this time, this group of multi-disciplinary researchers created the Womanstats Project and Database, the most comprehensive aggregation of data regarding the status of girls and women in the world. The database, which contains more than 130,000 datapoints, includes more than 375 variables for 175 countries, all of which have populations of at least 200,000 people.

What does the treatment of women have to do with a propensity for war? Soraya suggests that it has to do with how people think about difference.

I understand that there are many other intersectional factors that make up “difference” and how we define what is “other” in culture, e.g. race, class, sexual identity, religion — but, as Shirley Chisholm said, “The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says: It’s a girl.” The exact same thing happens to boys — only with a radically polarized set of stereotypes. The first and most profound difference, globally, remains gender.

Please think hard about what this means. Then talk about it! Then share it! Blog, Tumble, tweet, “like,” whatever. It’s a big idea with daily relevance and real and powerful consequences: Microaggression against girls and women in private, in neighborhoods, in communities is integrally connected to macroaggressive national behavior.  The greater the polarization of gender in a household, the higher tolerance there is for violence and oppression and the greater the violence experienced by women and girls in those households the greater the likelihood of militarization and national violence.

All over the world, societies are experiencing cultural and political backlash against 50 years of dissolving gender polarity.

While we are the backlash against the backlash. Keep on.


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

Mandatory bullying in the schools

Oct 15th, 2012 3:10 pm | By

Sometimes the ugliness is just suffocating, and also hard to believe.

Take a good idea…

On Mix It Up at Lunch Day, schoolchildren around the country are encouraged to hang out with someone they normally might not speak to.

The program, started 11 years ago by the Southern Poverty Law Center and now in more than 2,500 schools, was intended as a way to break up cliques and prevent bullying.

And it would also teach children some useful things – such as, that you don’t have to eat lunch with the same people every single day; that it can be interesting and fun to get to know different people; that it can be a nuisance to have to spend time around people you don’t like but that it’s going to happen anyway and you might as well get used to it and practice being civil about it.

But nooooooooooooooo – the theocrats don’t think so.

But this year, the American Family Association, a conservative evangelical group, has called the project “a nationwide push to promote the homosexual lifestyle in public schools” and is urging parents to keep their children home from school on Oct. 30, the day most of the schools plan to participate this year.

What the fuck?

Why, because everybody outside your own tight little clique is (because outside your own tight little clique) one of them there HoMoSeckShuals? And eating lunch with them is “promoting” their “lifestyle”?

Ugly ugly ugly.

“I was surprised that they completely lied about what Mix It Up Day is,” said Maureen Costello, the director of the center’s Teaching Tolerance project, which organizes the program. “It was a cynical, fear-mongering tactic.”

A tactic for the sake of what? What does not sitting with different people at lunch get them? What is that I don’t even.

Well it’s because the SPLC recently added the AFA to its list of hate groups. (Gee, I wonder why.)

“The reality is we are not a hate group. We are a truth group,” said Bryan Fischer, director of issue analysis for the association. “We tell the truth about homosexual behavior.”

Although the suggested activities for Mix It Up at Lunch Day do not expressly address gay and lesbian students, the law center itself promotes equal treatment for gays and lesbians and that philosophy then informs the school program, he said.

“Anti-bullying legislation is exactly the same,” Mr. Fischer said. “It’s just another thinly veiled attempt to promote the homosexual agenda. No one is in favor of anyone getting bullied for any reason, but these anti-bullying policies become a mechanism for punishing Christian students who believe that homosexual behavior is not something that should be normalized.”

Who believe that? Or who inflict that (baseless, nasty, hatey) belief on students they take to be HoMoSeckShuals. If the students are telling other students that they should not be normalized, then they’re bullying.

Parents who are on the American Family Association e-mail list were encouraged to keep their children home on that day and to call school administrators to tell them why.

Horrible, harm-doing, malevolent people. Bullying for Jeezis.

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

Apples but not bananas? What about pineapples?

Oct 15th, 2012 2:38 pm | By

Hahahaha this is great – did you know the Apple logo is blasphemous?

Yes well once you’re told of course you can see it. Apple; bite missing. But would you have thought of it if you hadn’t been told? Aha!!1! I thought not. You’re probably blasphemous yourself.

In this case it’s a sect of ultra-Orthodox believers in Russia that are claiming that the Apple logo is indeed blasphemous:

Radical orthodox Christians from Russia remove Apple logotype from the company’s products and put a cross sign instead of them. The orthodox find the half-bitten apple logotype anti-Christian and insulting their belief, something that may potentially cause serious problems for Apple’s products in the country.

Interfax news-agency reports about “several” cases, where the radical orthodox, including priests, swapped the Apple logo for an image of the cross, the symbol of Jesus Christ. According to the ultra-radical orthodox activists, the bitten apple symbolizes the original sin of Adam and Eve and is generally anti-Christian.

Of course. Because it couldn’t just be an apple, with a bite taken out. Plus the forbidden fruit isn’t an apple anyway. But whatever.

…one of the results of the Pussy Riot controversy is that the Duma, the Russian Parliament, is considering laws to make offending religious feelings a criminal offence. The question, obviously, will be whose religious feelings? How large a group will have to be offended? My understanding of Russia is not what it once was (back when I lived there for example) but I would expect the law to really say that offending the hierarchy of the Orthodox Church will be an offence and offending anyone else won’t be. But that does assume that they write the law that way.

It’s always possible that they’ll write it much more broadly and that any small group will be able to claim that pretty much anything at all is blasphemous according to their specific religious beliefs. Even the Apple logo.

Or the apple. Or the apple plus all other kinds of fruit, to make sure.

[Patiently: No, it's not the same as "bitch" and "cunt." Go away.]


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