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.

An ill-afforded loss

Sep 26th, 2011 8:50 am | By

Oh, damn.

From the New York Times:

NAIROBI, Kenya — Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan environmentalist who started out by paying poor women a few shillings to plant trees and went on to become the first African woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize, died late on Sunday.

She’s a hero of mine.

From an interview at Living on Earth -

MAATHAI: I realized part of the problems that we have in the rural areas or in the country generally is that a lot of our people are not free to think, they are not free to create, and, therefore, they become very unproductive. They may have knowledge. They may have gone to school but they are trained to be directed. They are trained to be told what to do. And that is some of the unmasking that the Green Belt Movement tries to do, is to empower people, to encourage them, to tell them it’s okay to dream, it’s okay to think, it’s okay to change your minds, it’s okay to think on your own, it’s okay to decide this is what you want to do. You don’t have to wait for someone else to tell you.

In the beginning I was intrigued because it’s such a benign activity. It’s development, exactly what every leader speaks about and so I thought that we would be celebrated and we would be supported by the system. But what I did not realize then is that in many situations, leaders, especially leaders in undemocratic countries, have not been keen to inform their people to empower their people to help them solve their problems. They almost want them to remain needy, to remain poor, to remain dis-empowered so that they can look up to them, almost like gods and adore them and worship them and hope that they will solve their problems. Now, I couldn’t stand that.

MAN: An assistant minister, Mr. John Keene, said his great respect for women had been greatly eroded by her utterances. Mr Keene asked her and her clique of women to tread cautiously, adding “I don’t see the sense at all in a bunch of divorcees coming out to criticize such a complex.”

MAATHAI: That’s when they reminded me who I am in terms of gender and what I am in terms of social status. And I was described in several adjectives which were very unflattering. Fortunately for me, and unfortunately for them, that did not deter me and I did not get intimidated.

LOBET: A few years earlier her husband had divorced her, saying publicly she was too stubborn and too hard to control. She had transgressed when she became more educated than he was. She transgressed when she did not retreat after divorce and now she was criticizing the president.

VOICEOVER: Before, I worked in the farm compound and looked after my children. I couldn’t stand up amongst people, or give them my views about things. I was not able to do even the smallest thing in this respect.


VOICEOVER: Professor came here and she showed us that a woman has the right to speak, and when she speaks, she can make things advance. A woman has a right to speak. And now I feel if I speak, things can move forward.

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

Their dominion mandate

Sep 25th, 2011 5:45 pm | By

Update: Vyckie said this link is better: a little longer and more pics.

Hey lookit – The Herald Scotland talked to Vyckie Garrison and Libby Anne. The rebellion against Quiverfull is getting out there.

“There’s a lot of fear among evangelicals right now,” says Garrison. “The more fearful evangelicals become, the more they retreat and start home schooling, and that is where they’re going to encounter Quiverfull ideals.

“Families are taught that getting into powerful institutions is part of their dominion mandate. They get internships at state level, get involved in political campaigns and in the justice system. That’s the whole point of having all these sons: to have an influence on policy and reclaim the country for God.”

Patrick Henry College in Virginia, the headquarters of the conservative Christian Home School Legal Defence Association, sent more interns to the George W Bush White House than any other institution. Republican presidential front-runner Rick Perry has close ties to evangelical group Vision Forum through multi-millionaire campaign contributor Jim Leininger.

This country is just crazy. Deranged, mad, nuts, barking.

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

Nonconformist in a generally acceptable way

Sep 25th, 2011 12:06 pm | By

Aha – just exactly what I said yesterday. It’s as if I’d stolen it from Jenny Diski, but I didn’t. (Nor she didn’t steal it from me, neither.)

As a rule people look for positive authority or referents to back up their
essential beliefs about themselves in relation to the world: the priest, imam,
Delia Smith, the politburo, gang leader, Milton Friedman, your mother, my
favourite novelist. It works well enough, and when it does, we call ourselves
and others like us sane. When it goes awry, when people lose and/or reject all
positive referents in the real world for the self inside, we call them
delusional, psychotic, mad. In order to count as sane, you don’t necessarily
have to conform to the norms of the world, but you do have to be nonconformist in a generally acceptable way.

Emphasis added. That’s exactly what I was ruminating about. What we think of as eccentric, nerdy, weird, nonconformist is actually barely different from what we think of as normal. That’s either depressing or reassuring, or a little of both (she said in her usual normal average typical waffling cover all the bases way).

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

Get a whole suite

Sep 25th, 2011 11:34 am | By

Libby Anne on father-daughter “purity balls.” You what? Yes that’s right: father-daughter big fancy parties (not testicles) to celebrate female virginity. Yes that’s right: Daddy takes Princess to a ball. Really. They’re on a date.

Dudes – get a room.

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

Only two options

Sep 25th, 2011 9:56 am | By

Andrew Brown can be such a goon. (I’m not going to say he is a goon – he’s had the eminent good sense to commission a few articles from me, after all.) I know this is not a news flash, and I know other people have said things about his creationism piece, but…too much is better than enough is as good as a feast, that’s what I say.

Yes yes, we’re all agreed that evolution is true, and that the biblical (or Qur’anic) accounts of creation are literally false and should not be taught any other way in science classes. This has been the case for at least the last 50 years. Yet studies show that the number of creationists, or at least those who deny or fail to understand the fact of evolution, is very large among the adult population.

One, the impatience of the “yes yes” is irritating. Two, the “we’re all agreed” is hilarious, given the “studies show” almost immediately after it. “We’re all agreed except for a very large number” – oh that kind of “all.” And then, the “studies show” ought to be quite enough to explain why people have to keep pointing out that evolution is true, so his impatience is simply petulant.

Not very impressive for the first three sentences.

Then he asks if it’s better to have an indifferent student or a passionately wrong one. The correct answer is neither.

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

Tudge said the thing which is not

Sep 24th, 2011 5:31 pm | By

One more thing about Colin Tudge, because it makes me angry.

He wrote in that non-review “review” (and I quoted him yesterday):

Thus he tells us that “reality is everything that exists” – and “exists”, he makes clear, means whatever we can see or stub our toes on, albeit with the aid of telescopes and seismographs. Everything else – including things we might think exist, like jealousy and love – derive from that material base and are to a large extent illusory. This, he implies, is what emerges from science, and science is true.

Dawkins pointed out what he actually wrote in the book Tudge was “reviewing”:

Does this mean that reality only contains things that can be detected, directly or indirectly, by our senses and by the methods of science? What about things like jealousy and joy, happiness and love? Are these not also real?

Yes, they are real. But they depend for their existence on brains: human brains, certainly, and probably the brains of other advanced animal species, such as chimpanzees, dogs and whales, too. Rocks don’t feel joy or jealousy, and mountains do not love. These emotions are intensely real to those who experience them, but they didn’t exist before brains did. It is possible that emotions like these – and perhaps other emotions that we can’t begin to dream of – could exist on other planets, but only if those planets also contain brains – or something equivalent to brains: for who knows what weird thinking organs or feeling machines may lurk elsewhere in the universe[.]

Look at that. Read the two passages. Compare them. Tudge said that Dawkins said that love and jealousy don’t exist, when Dawkins in fact said the exact opposite of that. Note the first sentence of RD’s second paragraph -

…they depend for their existence on brains…

Meaning they exist.

Note the third sentence of RD’s second paragraph -

These emotions are intensely real to those who experience them, but they didn’t exist before brains did.

Meaning, to those with functioning brains, that they do exist now.  

I suspected yesterday that Tudge was playing games – I suspected that he used the word “exists” instead of “real” on purpose, and that the purpose was to get around the fact that it’s too absurd to say Dawkins says love isn’t real. I suspected it would be too quick and easy to prove Tudge wrong if he used that word, while “exists” would make things easier for him. I was wrong only in that Richard had explicitly said that they exist as well as that they’re real.

It’s shocking, I think, this outright mendacity. It should be put a stop to.

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

If they retain their appearance

Sep 24th, 2011 11:36 am | By

And another thing. This transubstantiation nonsense – another thing about it is that it’s a teaching.

Transubstantiation is the teaching that during the Mass, at the consecration in the Lord’s Supper (Communion), the elements of the Eucharist, bread and wine, are transformed into the actual body and blood of Jesus and that they are no longer bread and wine, but only retain their appearance of bread and wine.

What I wonder is, how do they know the teaching is right? If the bread and wine retain their appearance then who actually knows that they are in fact the actual body and blood of Jesus, and how do those people know it?

I don’t see how there can be any way to know that. Clearly “retain their appearance” means “all the way down,” so that there is no instrument or process by which anyone can demonstrate that aha at this level we can observe that the bread and wine are in fact the actual body and blood of Jesus. Is there? (Did I miss something?) So…well, how can anyone have anything but doubts on the subject? What causes Odone to hold the “belief” that transubstantiation gets something right and that her beliefs on this subject are better than those of her husband the Anglican?

Just wondering.

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

Many people of faith are filled with doubts

Sep 24th, 2011 9:57 am | By

An amusing passage in the conversation between Dawkins and Odone in the Guardian:

CO: I’m a Catholic and my husband is an Anglican, and transubstantiation is an issue between us. Do I want my daughter to take up my Catholic beliefs? Yes I do. Do I believe my beliefs are superior in any way to his? Yes I do. But do I want to teach her that mine is the only way? No I don’t. What I want her to feel is that there are some beautiful principles in all religions. In your new book you say scientists cheerfully admit they don’t know, “cheerfully” because not knowing the answer is exciting. What’s so funny is that I feel about religion in the same way. You musn’t think that religion is stuck in its inquisitorial phase; religion is capable of evolution and many people of faith are filled with doubts.

RD: But how do you decide which bits to doubt and which bits to accept? As scientists, we do it by evidence.

CO: You can’t boil everything down to evidence!

I haven’t read further yet.

It’s true in a way that you can’t boil everything down to evidence. If I say “I’m tired” (or curious or bored or grumpy or elated) it would be odd for you to say “what’s your evidence for that?” But evidence is relevant to the subject that Odone herself raised, which is doubts. Doubts about what? Doubts about things like “transubstantiation.” Transubstantiation is a claim about reality – it is the “teaching” that during the Mass

the elements of the Eucharist, bread and wine, are transformed into the actual body and blood of Jesus and that they are no longer bread and wine, but only retain their appearance of bread and wine.

Of course, that rider about “their appearance” is a dodge to avoid, precisely, evidence…but it’s just that: a dodge. It’s like Gosse’s Omphalos dodge: God planted evidence of evolution to trick us. If one has “doubts” about it – well (as Richard says) then what?

If you’re that kind of Catholic then nothing, you just “have doubts” and trot them out rather proudly when chatting with people like Dawkins. They’re inert. They’re a condition, not a real question that prompts you to consider the evidence. They’re essentially frivolous.

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

Love is only real to them if it’s a thing

Sep 24th, 2011 9:22 am | By

Sastra has a very illuminating comment* on PZ’s The magic of denying reality.

She quotes Colin Tudge’s bad-faith misreading of Dawkins:

Everything else – including things we might think exist, like jealousy and love – derive from that material base and are to a large extent illusory.

And comments

Supernaturalists seem to have a lot of trouble trying to make sense of abstractions and levels of experience: they want to take everything literally, as irreducible substances. Love is only real to them if it’s a thing, a sort of spiritual-substance which is made of neither matter nor energy because it is the immaterial essence of love. Ironically, that makes them super-materialists — spinning material into finer and finer substances until like only comes from like. Love is derived from love. Otherwise, it can only have the same properties that were there in its origin.

Despite their claims to be so comfortable with “higher levels” of reality, supernaturalists are concrete thinkers. They can only make sense of immaterial abstractions by turning them into spirit-things in a spirit-world.

I don’t think I’d thought of that before, and it’s very damn interesting.

*Nothing unusual there.

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

No one ever talked to me for more than a minute

Sep 23rd, 2011 4:57 pm | By

About appearing Normal, and being different (or not), and independence – Patricia Churchland has a telling little illustrative story in Braintrust. In a section of chapter 6, “Skills for a Social Life,” she discusses mimicry as a social capacity – it’s reassuring because it makes prediction easier.

As social sizing up develops over a few minutes, assuming I got the preliminary signals I needed, I may be motivated to reassure you. So I play my part in mimicry so that you do not start anxiously watching me, making me even more uncomfortable. [p 160]

There’s an endnote there. It’s the illustrative story. When she was a grad student in Oxford she was expected to go to the sherry parties

that my tutor at Balliol College held for his male undergraduates. I was always uncomfortable, because as a colonial, and a country bumpkin to boot, I did not have the slightest idea how I should behave. Trying to assimilate the ways of young Englishmen educated at British “public” (private) schools was, quite simply, beyond me. Needless to say, with the exception of a very awkward Irish lad who was comparably handicapped socially, no one ever talked to me for more than a minute. [p 230]

It’s a depressing little tale, because surely the tutor could have and should have managed things better. The English do love to play their little exclusion games though.

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

In line with the rest

Sep 23rd, 2011 4:18 pm | By

Libby Anne posted on this cartoon:

Shades of The Life of Brian -

I’m not

Brian, talking to a cheering crowd: You’re all individuals.

Crowd, in unison: Yes, we’re all individuals.

Brian: You’re all different.

Crowd, in unison: Yes, we’re all different.

Single voice in crowd: I’m not.

This business of being independent and thinking for yourself…Even for people who really do that to a smaller or greater extent, it’s such a small proportion of everything they do that in a way it’s absurd even to talk about it. The most eccentric of humans are only a tiny bit eccentric. Few humans resemble ants, or grey whales, or stones. Carl Sagan used to like to point out how human most movie and novel extra-terrestrials are, when there’s no reason whatever to think an intelligent agent from another galaxy would look at all humanoid.

We don’t even want to be more than a little weird. I certainly don’t. I don’t want to be weird in the style of Dennis Markuze, for instance. I don’t want to be like the guy I once saw in my neighborhood marching along the street in Nazi regalia, talking rather loudly. I don’t want to be a sentient eggplant or spider web. In many situations my conscious hope is to appear Normal, and I know damn well I’m not the only one.

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

It gets better, but he couldn’t hold on until it did

Sep 23rd, 2011 10:55 am | By

What happens.

Jamey Rodemeyer, a 14-year-old boy from Williamsville, NY, took his life Sunday after what his parents claim was years of bullying because of struggles with his sexuality.

His parents, Tracy and Tim Rodemeyer, say that Jamey faced bullies for years, though things intensified in middle school…

According to NBC, the Rodemeyers had gone to the school about the problem in the past. Jamey even sought counseling to learn to deal with the problem, but it seems it wasn’t enough.

While they say their son seemed happy in the days leading up to the tragedy, his “It Gets Better” YouTube posting from May includes details about how intense the bullying was.

The kind of thing that helps to make it happen.

SANTORUM: I would say any type of sexual activity has absolutely no place in the military. The fact they are making a point to include it as a provision within the military that we are going to recognize a group of people and give them a special privilege to, and removing don’t ask don’t tell. I think tries to inject social policy into the military. And the military’s job is to do one thing: to defend our country…

Rick Santorum calls it a “special privilege” to be protected from dismissal on the grounds of sexual orientation, as if dismissal on the grounds of sexual orientation were a perfectly reasonable and acceptable social practice.

Notice the fumble. Notice the midair correction – he was going to say “and give them a special privilege to…fuck each other like the disgusting depraved spawn of Satan they are” but realized that that might get him into deep waters, so he pulled the second cord on his chute. But he’d already said it, anyway. The dog whistle was already out there. He made it sound as if the point of ending DADT were to encourage gay soldiers to have sex while in the military – on duty, presumably, and anywhere and everywhere. He made it sound as if the point were to give gay soldiers “a special privilege” to interrupt doing their jobs in order to hump each other whenever they felt like it.

Millions of high school bullies are indebted to Rick Santorum.

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

Consciousness is part of the fabric of the universe

Sep 23rd, 2011 9:42 am | By


Richard Dawkins has no sense of irony. He rails endlessly against
fundamentalists yet he defends old-fashioned, Thomas Gradgrind-style materialism as zealously as the Mid-West Creationists defend the literal truth of Genesis.

Really? Does he, really?

Colin Tudge says he does, but I don’t believe it. That’s because I don’t believe Dawkins is as crude as Gradgrind or as ignorant as fundamentalists. I think Tudge is exaggerating.

He accuses others of misrepresentation yet he seriously misrepresents religion.
Also, which is irony writ large, he misrepresents science, in whose name he is
assumed to speak. He condemns the Catholics for filling the heads of children
with a particular view of life before they have had a chance to think for
themselves – and now, in The Magic of Reality, written for readers as young as
nine, he has done precisely that. As somebody said of Miss Jean Brodie, it’s
time he was put a stop to.

Does he? Is it “a particular view of life” he objects to? Is it not the dogmatic aspect of the view of life that is the problem?

Thus he tells us that “reality is everything that exists” – and “exists”, he makes clear, means whatever we can see or stub our toes on, albeit with the aid of telescopes and seismographs. Everything else – including things we might think exist, like jealousy and love – derive from that material base and are to a large extent illusory. This, he implies, is what emerges from science, and science is true.

Really? He tells us that jealousy and love are to a large extent illusory, meaning, they don’t “exist”? I haven’t read the book, so I don’t know, but I’m skeptical.

Many philosophers have, like Baruch Spinoza, argued that consciousness is not
just the noise that brains make but part of the fabric of the universe. We do
not generate consciousness in our heads: we partake of what is all around us,
just as our eyes partake of light.

Yes, and the hills are alive with the sound of music.

The other clichés turn up too – Dawkins is an unreformed logical positivist, materialist philosophers like Dan Dennett and AC Grayling, zeal for eugenics, religions do not depend upon their myths, any theologian could have put him right on this, Newton and Descartes were devout, to explore the wonders of the world through science was to glorify God, Dawkins’s ultra-materialist view of life is crude by comparison.

Ho hum.

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

We understand the concept

Sep 22nd, 2011 5:40 pm | By

As we saw, Jordan Sekulow complained that

Whether it’s Governor Rick Perry calling for prayer for our nation, Congresswoman Bachmann discussing her “calling” to run for elected office, or Governor Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith, it is now acceptable for many in the media to ridicule the religious beliefs of one particular group of Americans – conservatives.

Let’s have a look at that first link. It’s Jordan Sekulow himself saying what a good thing prayer is.

Prayer is essential. Faith is powerful. Non-believers and skeptics cannot comprehend the concept of literally asking God for His guidance and blessing. This is not surprising nor is it, in itself, offensive. When the lack of understanding turns into sneers and insults, usually coupled with a lack of basic knowledge about the evangelical Christian faith, we have a duty to respond.

But that’s quite wrong – of course we can comprehend the concept - but we think it’s wrong about reality. We can understand it, but we think it’s as effective and useful as asking a water faucet for its guidance and blessing, or a tree, or a galaxy, or a hurricane. We think it’s based on a fundamental misunderstanding. We think there is no “God” to ask for “His” guidance and blessing.

Many of us also think that adults ought to be able to understand that, and thus at least keep their practice of “asking God for His guidance and blessing” private, in the knowledge that it’s not something that all reasonable grown-ups think is sensible. Adults don’t talk to ghosts or fairies in public, mostly (apart from people like Sylvia Browne, that is), and for the same reasons they ought not to talk to “God” in public either.

That’s how the sneers and insults get in. It would be the same if adults were talking to fairies and ghosts, and Sekulow is wrong to think his “God” is fundamentally different.

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

Because she’s got a passport, he can get a visa

Sep 22nd, 2011 11:04 am | By

The familiar pretty story:

Seventeen-year-old Jessie faced being forced into marriage to her
40-year-old cousin in Bangladesh. She begged the British Consulate in Dhaka for help and officials stepped in. She is just one of an estimated tens of thousands of British women at risk of being forced into marriage.

Alan Morrison, the British Consul in Bangladesh, says his team meet a girl
like Jessie every week.

Born in Britain but living in rural Bangladesh and promised in marriage to a
much older man.

Jessie managed to call the consulate when her father was at evening prayers.

“She told them she was desperate not to marry but did not have any money and
was not allowed to look after her own passport,” said Mr Morrison.

Jessie had been promised to her cousin at the age of 11. She was due to turn
18 next month so the consul decided to act immediately.

In these circumstances, when you’ve got a British girl, often she’s seen as a
commodity,” explained Mr Morrison. “Because she’s got a passport, he can get a visa, and work in the UK. We’re seeing a generational strategy to emigrate to
the UK.”

And she’s just a thing to be used. And there are tens of thousands like her; she was rescued but most are not.


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

The God-given freedoms of its people

Sep 22nd, 2011 10:01 am | By

Now for Jordan Sekulow’s post itself.

He’s pissed off because the pesky leftwing atheist media have been saying Dominionists are Dominionists.

Whether it’s Governor Rick Perry calling for prayer for our nation, Congresswoman Bachmann discussing her “calling” to run for elected office, or Governor Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith, it is now acceptable for many in the media to ridicule the religious beliefs of one particular group of Americans – conservatives.

The new insinuation is that conservative Christians are engaged in a concerted effort to establish a theocracy here in America. Under the guise of so-called ‘Christian Dominionism,’ our alleged goal is, “replacing American law with the strictures of the Old Testament.”

Nothing could be further from the truth.

As I have explained before, Christians who seek to participate in the political process do so not as an attempt to install some type of theocratic rule, but to ensure that the government fulfils its God-ordained role in society to promote justice, provide security, and protect the God-given freedoms of its people.


I fail to see the difference.

I see the difference in the wording, yes, but the difference in the wording doesn’t amount to a difference in the substance. Thinking and saying (and insisting) that government has a “God-ordained role in society” is theocratic. Working to enforce that idea is working for theocracy. Thinking and saying (and insisting) that freedoms are “God-given” is theocratic – it entails thinking that only the freedoms you consider consistent with your idea of what “God” wants are to be protected; all others are to be eliminated. This includes for instance the freedom to stop being pregnant. It includes the freedom to attend school if your Amish parents want to take you out of school. It includes the freedom to marry someone of the same sex.


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


Sep 22nd, 2011 9:30 am | By

Here’s a question. Why is the Washington Post providing a platform for Jordan Sekulow, Director of Policy and International Operations for the American Center for Law and Justice?

Founded by Pat Robertson, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) and its Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow quickly established themselves as key players in the right-wing movement, litigating a variety of cases at all levels, including the Supreme Court. The ACLJ has been particularly active in fighting marriage equality and defending the Pledge of Allegiance, while Sekulow has maintained very close ties to the Bush White House and played a central role in pushing for the confirmation of Supreme Court Justices Roberts and Alito.

It reminds me of Obama – listen to all points of view, invite everyone to the table, be even-handed to a fault, reach out to your enemies while abandoning your allies, model good behavior toward opponents and assume that they will do likewise. Right-wing newspapers and magazines don’t give left-wing commentators a platform, so why do putatively liberal or centrist or at least reality-based newspapers and magazines give right-wing theocrats a platform? Are they thinking the right-wing theocrats will reciprocate? Has it escaped their attention that this never ever happens?

The ACLJ thinks and says that rights are “God-given.”

Our Mission | Freedom and Liberty are God-given rights

It also apparently has no women in important roles, at least not judging by that banner.

By focusing on U.S. constitutional law, European Union law and human rights law, the ACLJ and its affiliated organizations are dedicated to the concept that freedom and liberty are universal, God-given and inalienable rights that must be protected.

Universal and God-given – there’s a tension there. If “freedom and liberty” are God-given rights then they are rights as defined by “God” and that of course means defined by clerics. Clerics and their religions have particular, narrow, goddy concepts of “rights” which often in secular terms mean the opposite of “rights.” I don’t trust that clump of guys at that table to protect my rights. Far from it: I’m quite sure they want to take some of my rights away.

It’s very odd that the Washington Post feels obliged to help them with their work.

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

Tom Martin on “whoriarchy”

Sep 21st, 2011 5:12 pm | By

Remember our friend Tom Martin, the MRA who is suing LSE for being unfair to men? He just sent me a message to let me know he’s done an interview with two other MRAs so that I could listen to it if I wanted to. Nah, I don’t. But I looked around a little and found that after his chatting at my place he did some chatting at Cath Elliott’s place. Oh boy; treats.

I’ll give you some highlights.

Sunday at 4:21 pm:

So ‘male-dominant’ cultures, are more likely female-powerful.

It’s a skanky, whorish, back seat-driving type of power which leads to economic and cultural ruin and war –  a whoriarchy.

We know for instance, that women tell men what to do in marriages 90% of time – that is the same everywhere in the world.

Monday at 2:30 am:

Right out of the gate, you assume that women just pick the colour of the curtains, but ask any estate agent, and they’ll tell you its the woman of the couple who has the final say on whether to buy the house or not.

Women make 90% of couple decisions big and small, according to a 2007 Harvard Study I can’t find, but is out there somewhere.

The next thing you’re doing, is presenting the domestic sphere as separate from the political sphere.

Women in the home have access to more political debate than men do in the workforce, as women at home have more access to media.

But yep, restricted movement and the veil are the price some women think is worth paying, as long as they don’t need to get a job.

Women can’t drive in Saudi, but they do have chauffeurs.

And most of those who can afford it, choose a chauffeur.

Muslim women are really the boss in the home, and fascism starts in the home.

In a whoriarchy, in the same way you don’t need to drive to control where the car goes, you don’t particularly need an education either, as long as you know how to steer a man, but these whores don’t, which is why their countries and cultures are failing.

Yesterday at 5:14 pm:

Feminists sometimes tell the truth, in which case, no court case.

As soon as people lie, in order to make women look like bigger victims than they are, or men bigger perpetrators than they are, then that is no longer feminism, but anti-male victim-femalism.

It is a negative stereotype, which is harassment.

It is bias, which is not protected under the academic immunity principle.

It is a breach of university regulations, which makes it a breach of contract.

It is misleading advertising, if this agenda wasn’t made clear in the prospectus.

You cannot reason, with the unreasonable. Those addicted to the unreasonable assertions that men are bad and women are good – who refuse to acknowledge any new positions, even in light of overwhelming evidence, should not call themselves feminists.

Furthermore, I did not sign up for a degree in feminism, but one in gender – which LSE personnel acknowledge should be about men and women – but which behind the scenes, they try to make all about women.

LSE legal team please note.

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

Little indeed

Sep 21st, 2011 4:18 pm | By

The Massachusetts Republican party wants Harvard to stop paying Elizabeth Warren’s salary while she runs for the Senate. It doesn’t just want Harvard to do that, it’s trying to tell Harvard to do that.

“By restoring her to the faculty, even though she has now formed a federal
election committee and is actively campaigning, the university is establishing a
bad precedent for academic appointments,” Nate Little, executive director of the state GOP, wrote in a letter to Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust.

As if that’s their business. As if they’re the boss of Harvard. As if Harvard were taxpayer-funded.

The Globe adds later, drily,

During last year’s special election, [Republican Senator Scott] Brown continued to accept his taxpayer financed salary as a state senator. He has not expressed any plans to give up his federal salary while running for reelection to the US Senate.


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

Every night I would go to bed fearing the same god

Sep 21st, 2011 2:59 pm | By

Growing up a good Christian.

For me, the idea of “god” was incredibly confusing, even though I didn’t admit it (even to myself). When you’re a child raised in the church, you’re taught all of the fundamentals from an incredibly early age. Jesus loves you. God loves you. Jesus died on the cross for you. You have to accept Jesus into your heart in order to be saved. You repeat these things over and over and sing songs about them. They’re completely imprinted in your head before you’re old enough (i.e. emotionally and mentally mature enough) to even begin to understand what they mean. You accept them as fact because they’re taught to you by people you love and trust; people who would never lead you astray. The idea that those people would lie to you, or even be ill informed, doesn’t cross your mind. To a young child, parents and teachers are good people and they know everything.

Which is exactly why adults shouldn’t teach children things they have no good reason to believe are true. It’s unfair; it’s taking advantage. The adults in question don’t usually realize this, of course…which is one reason it’s worth saying it a lot.

There was, however, a darker side. I knew that there was a hell. I knew that it was a place of fire and suffering where bad people were tortured for eternity; never, ever finding relief. I suppose I never questioned how a place like that could exist if god was a good god; probably because my beliefs had all been packaged so neatly for me. Everything good was from god and everything bad was from the Devil. In a religious upbringing, beliefs are presented in a way that leaves little room for questioning, unless you’re able to step out of your comfort zone and put ALL of your beliefs into question; something a little girl like me simply couldn’t do.

Every night when I went to bed, I would pray and ask Jesus into my heart. I knew it was only “necessary” to do it once, but I was terrified I had done it wrong, or that something I had done that day—some sin I had committed—would cause god to not love me anymore. To a shy little girl who was unsure of herself and still struggling to understand the world around her, the idea of disappointing her creator and being sent to a place of eternal torment was incredibly disturbing. (I suppose it’s probably disturbing to anyone!)

Every Sunday I went to church and sang songs about Jesus, laughed and played with my friends, prayed to god, and learned Bible stories. Every night I would go to bed fearing the same god I had been taught loved me and “had the whole world in his hands.” Every mistake I made—every “bad” thought I had—caused me to beat myself up inside and hate who I was.

Doubleplus ungood.

We keep being told atheism isn’t enough; people need more. Well sure they do, and sure it isn’t, but at the same time…Just getting rid of that train of thought would be doing a lot. A lot.

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