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.

I’m out

Jun 19th, 2012 5:13 pm | By

I got email threats about TAM today, so I’m not going.

One less thing to worry about.

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

There’s a difference?

Jun 19th, 2012 3:32 pm | By

The popular Pakistani singer Ghazala Javed was shot to death in Peshawar yesterday along with her father.

Police official Imtiaz Khan said the ex-husband was suspected of involvement in the murders.

The singer had fled to Peshawar in 2009 to escape the then Taliban-dominated northwestern district of Swat as the army launched a sweeping offensive.

Ghazala Javed sung in her native Pashto language and released more than two dozen albums that were popular among Pashto speakers in the northwest.

She married businessman Jahangir Khan in 2010, but demanded a divorce after finding out he had another wife and because he tried to ban her from singing, the family said.

Not the Taliban, just a murderous possessive ex-husband.

Same thing.

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

The devil did it

Jun 18th, 2012 5:06 pm | By

The pope’s consigliere says it’s the devil who’s making things hot for them.

In a rare interview with the Italian Catholic magazine Famiglia Cristiana, Bertone, the Vatican’s secretary of state, accused the media of “intentionally ignoring” the good things the Church does while dwelling on scandals.

Yeah the good things! Like telling people condoms cause Aids! Like trying to stop people using any kind of birth control ever! Like trying to make hospitals promise never to save a woman’s life if it requires an abortion – never ever ever. Like excommunicating anyone who tries to ordain a woman. Like saying no no no no no no women can never be priests because they are women. Good things!

Bertone branded as false the image of the Vatican as a place of intrigue and power struggles, saying: “The truth is that there is an attempt to sow division that comes from the Devil”.

Nothing to do with any faults in the institution itself or its way of thinking about the world – such as claiming that problems are the work of the devil.


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


Jun 18th, 2012 4:23 pm | By

A few hours after we did the hangout video yesterday, Russell Blackford did a tweet.

I see that DJ Grothe is still Witch of the Week. #bullies

Followed by another.

Freethought Blogs – the haven of bullies, bully-enablers, and witch hunters. I’m sick to death of this. #bullies

Some hours after that, Jeremy Stangroom did one.

…the bullies at FreeThought Blogs run the risk of precipitating a tragedy. Bullying ruins – and sometimes ends – lives. #bullies

So now you know. We (we of Freethought blogs, we who did that video, we whom DJ Grothe accused of turning women away from TAM by discussing harassment issues, we who have been rejecting that accusation, we who have been getting shouted at by raging men on ugly videos) – we are bullies and witch hunters. We run the risk of driving people to suicide.

We are. We do. Really? How? Who is it who is being bullied by us? DJ? Apparently, according to Blackford. But DJ is the president of a big skeptics’ organization, and he has lots of allies. Is he really the powerless one here? And what exactly is it that we’re doing that constitutes bullying? We’ve been disputing what he said about us, certainly – but is that really bullying? I think it isn’t. In fact I think it was DJ who was bullying us. I certainly think it is some of DJ’s partisans who have been bullying us ever since – Emery Emery and Travis Roy, for instance. The people who call us cunts and fucking bitches on Abbie Smith’s blog, for instance.

Blackford knows all about that. He’s never said a word about it that I know of (and believe me, I’ve looked) apart from once saying the Abbie Smith gang should stop it because it’s not helpful to Stef McGraw. I’ve never seen him call it bullying. Not once. It’s been going on for a year, singling out Rebecca Watson, me, and PZ Myers for their most devoted attention.

Stangroom knows all about it too. He has friendly exchanges with some of the Abbie Smith gang. I’ve never seen him say a word about it, either. I’ve seen him say nasty things about “Freethought Blogs” many many many times, but never once anything about Abbie Smith’s blog, where the vilification goes on day in and day out.

So how does this work? What’s the thought process that sees us as bullies and witch hunters (and Talibanesque) while it ignores or even encourages the vicious bile at Abbie Smith’s blog and The Great Penis Debate?

I don’t know. It’s a poser. I don’t get it.

I’ll tell you what though. It makes me feel a little sick to see a couple of men calling a few women witch hunters and bullies when the women have been and are being regularly targeted by genuine misogynist bullies. It’s like a couple of white people calling a few black people who are being targeted by racist bullies “KKK” and “racist.” It’s fucked up. It’s backward. It’s appropriating words that are meaningful to a particular liberation struggle and using them to beat up on the very people doing the struggling.

Greg tried to get some light shed on this matter, but he was told to fuck off.

#bullies indeed. What a joke.



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

I finally have a pony

Jun 18th, 2012 3:06 pm | By

A pony, a pony, a pony!

The whole set is at Jason’s – Greta, Natalie, Sikivu, Rebecca, Taslima, Jen, Stephanie – The Horsewomen of the Feminist Apocalypse. Yesssss!

The artist is embertine.


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

The screaming mob

Jun 18th, 2012 3:00 pm | By

I mentioned yesterday that a Karachi police station was being attacked by a mob who wanted to kill a guy who’d been arrested for blasphemy. It was eyewitness news on Twitter, not published news. Now there is published news.

A police station in central part of the city was attacked by an angry mob on Sunday that tried to break into the lockups to kill a blasphemy accused.

The Taimuria Police Station in North Nazimabad became a warzone when it arrested and booked a man under section 295(b) on accusation of desecrating a copy of Holy Quran.

“Then slowly people started gathering outside and it turned into a crowd. The screaming mob was demanding of us to hand over the accused to them.”

Police claim to have recovered some drugs from his possession as well. As police resisted, the mob turned violent and barged into the police station, breaking furniture and beating at least one policeman.

Another step down the spiral.

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

Not a plan but a background

Jun 17th, 2012 6:06 pm | By

Greg has an interesting followup comment on his claim about how intentional it all is.

I am not suggesting that people sat down in a board meeting and made a plan and DJ Grothe is carrying it out.

I am suggesting that a male dominated society within a society (JREF/TAM within Western Culture) is blind to certain things, and has certain self-serving expectations, and smooth sailing is defined when those expectation are not interfered with by, well, by “Feminist Bitches.”  Are there no conversations happening amongst (there’s that word again) JREF financiers, board members, DJ, others? Are there no emails distributed among any of the various mainly male defenders of DJ Grothe in social networking circles that say anything about anything?  Is there no background discussion going on at all?  Of course there are.  How organized is all that? Doesn’t matter. What matters is that an important part of the culture of the skeptical movement is being threatened and JREF is one of the pillars of that culture.  JREF, TAM and DJ Grothe do not need to defend the status quo, and they shouldn’t. Yet they are.  After a while, that ceases, all due respect to my colleague Crommie, to be attributable to incompetence.

Agreed. I don’t think it was a plan, but yes I do think it emerged from a particular culture (and is getting cheered on by that culture now).

I said this at Greg’s:

I think a lot of it is just dislike and contempt, simmering in those background discussions you mentioned. I think DJ blurted some of that out…maybe thinking that it was an “everybody thinks” kind of thing, because of the background discussions – and lots of people do think, so he wasn’t all wrong. I suppose he expected us all just to go “ouch” and creep away to the corner and stop bugging everyone until maybe late July or so. I don’t think he expected the conversation to go the way it has. But the idea that we’re (we pesky women, we feminist bitches, to use Rebecca’s term) threatening the Normal skeptical movement – yes, I think that.

I’ll say more here.

It’s like other male enclaves, or places that men think are male enclaves.

They think we’re going to make it all boring, and weak, and puritanical (or Talibanesque, however bizarre that might seem for feminists), and unfunny, and sexless, and schoolteacherish. They think it’s bean sprouts and Birkenstocks and puzzled frowns and homemade toothpaste.

They think they have a monopoly on all the good things – jokes, irony, sex, energy, noise, sex, color, hippitude, argument, sex.

The trouble with that is, The Great Penis Debate. Not funny.

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

O Canada

Jun 17th, 2012 4:22 pm | By

I heard a bit of news on the radio late Friday evening that froze me to the spot with surprise -

A British Columbia Supreme Court judge has declared Canada’s laws against physician-assisted suicide unconstitutional because they discriminate against the physically disabled.

I thought immediately of Eric. I very nearly got back online to email him (but went to sleep instead).

In a 395-page ruling released Friday, Justice Lynn Smith addressed the situation faced by Gloria Taylor, a B.C. woman who was one of five plaintiffs in the case seeking the legal right to doctor-assisted suicide.

Taylor has ALS, a fatal neurodegenerative disease, and she sought the ruling to allow her doctor to help her end her life before she becomes incapacitated.

Because that’s the terrible fear with diseases like ALS and MS (which Eric’s wife Elisabeth had): the fear of being so incapacitated that you can’t kill yourself when you desperately want to because you’re so incapacitated.

In her ruling, Smith noted suicide itself is not illegal, and therefore the law against assisted suicide contravenes Section 15 of the charter, which guarantees equality, because it denies physically disabled people like Taylor the same rights as able-bodied people who can take their own lives, she ruled.

“The impact of that distinction is felt particularly acutely by persons such as Ms. Taylor, who are grievously and irremediably ill, physically disabled or soon to become so, mentally competent and who wish to have some control over their circumstances at the end of their lives,” Smith writes.

“The distinction is discriminatory … because it perpetuates disadvantage.”

I was staggered by that; it’s such good sense, and I thought I would never hear it.

I want to read the full decision. Legal rulings can be wonderful reading, and I’m told this one is.

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

Some FTB peeps talking about TAM

Jun 17th, 2012 3:55 pm | By

Here’s what I was doing for the last couple of hours.

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

It’s Sunday

Jun 17th, 2012 11:09 am | By

It’s Sunday, Boko Haram bombs in Nigeria day, so there have been bombs going off in Nigeria today (because it’s Sunday). Boko Haram keeps its appointments.

Multiple blasts have hit at least three churches in the northern Nigerian state of Kaduna.

A local Red Cross worker told the Associated Press that at least 12 people had been killed and 80 injured in the attacks.

A decent haul. They could do better, but 12 + 80 is respectable.

Meanwhile, Urooj Zia reports via Twitter that there’s a mob attacking a police station right now in Karachi, trying to kill a man accused of “blasphemy” who is being held there. Taimuria police station.

A couple of days ago another mob in Quetta, trying to kill another man accused of “blasphemy,” killed at least three people.

At least three people were killed and several others injured as protesters went on a rampage over an alleged desecration of the Holy Quran in Kuchlak area of Balochistan on Saturday. A large number of protesters set a police station and five vehicles on fire as news of desecration of the Holy Quran spread in the area. Police have arrested a suspect who was reported to be “mentally retarded”, administration official Qambar Dashti said.

Allah is wise, merciful.

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

The princess and the MCB

Jun 17th, 2012 10:24 am | By

A religion allows men to have multiple wives. What could possibly go wrong?

When Dr Zabina Shahian married Pervez Choudhry she thought he would be the man with whom she would settle down for the rest of her life and start a family.

But she did not know the former Conservative party leader on Slough Borough Council was still married.

Choudhry, 54, who claimed he did not realise the marriage in Pakistan was legally valid in the UK, was given a community order after admitting bigamy.

A “devastated” Dr Shahian now wants to help other women who are victims of polygamous marriages – a practice a leading family lawyer says is “rife” within the British Muslim community.

Jeez, what a princess. What’s her problem? Just because he gets two and she gets half? He’s a man. Men need more. More what? More everything. More sex, more rights, more freedom, more power, more ability to tell women to cover up and shut up. The prophet said so.

Dr Shahian, who did not want her picture published, realises she was lucky, as a career woman, to have been able to afford the detective fees and also to have support from her family to go through with the prosecution.

However she said some members of her local South Asian Muslim community were less understanding.

“When I go down to my parents I get all the neighbours looking at me. As a Muslim woman I’m supposed to keep a low profile. I feel like I’ve committed a crime here although I’m the victim. You’re supposed to keep your mouth shut and you’re supposed to just carry on. It is impregnated into our culture.”

Princess. Feminazi. Westernized spoiled demanding princessy biatch.

But combating a cultural pressure on some Muslim women is difficult, says Dr Siddiqui. Polygamy “is so widely spread they don’t blame men having a second wife or a third or fourth wife,” he said. “They accept this is their lot.”

Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra, of the Muslim Council of Britain and who is an imam, said in the Koran it stated men were allowed to take more than one wife, but only under strict rules that included obtaining consent from the first wife and treating all wives equally and fairly.

He did not think there were many polygamous marriages in the UK but “condemned” the actions of men who flout the polygamy rules. He also described as “sad” the “cultural pressures” that prevent women standing up for justice. “Whatever cultural norms there may be, what Islam does not allow is the mistreatment of women, full stop.”

Why does the BBC think it has to consult the MCB? Why does it act as a conduit for their bullshit?


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

This thing is different from the other

Jun 16th, 2012 5:08 pm | By

What is “dogmatic feminism”? It turns out it’s not dogmatic at all, it’s stating things in strong terms. Well it’s too bad that Becky called it dogmatism then, because that’s a different thing, and much more blameworthy than stating things in strong terms.

A comment on Bad analogies are bad pointed out another strange claim of Becky’s, and I belatedly got curious enough to take a look.

Becky’s claim:

In Stephanie’s post addressing our episode, you in three words reveal your tacit agreement with one of the most egregious characterizations of atheist men I’ve seen condensed into one paragraph (the 5th, if you’re following the links), bolstering an us-versus-them mentality.

The “one of the most egregious characterizations of atheist men” she’s seen in one para is in comment 91 on Stephanie’s post, by Jacqueline S Homan of godless feminist. Para 5 says:

Yet, it never ceases to amaze me how many “rational” men who are “reasonable” resort to evo psych — the last refuge of scoundrels, a load of bullshit cooked up by professional bullshit chefs — in order to justify oppressing women and keeping the atheist community a privileged white ol’ boys’ club, where the only women that are welcome are women who don’t challenge men’s use of their unearned male privilege as a cudgel to beat women down and silence us.

But I “in three words” reveal no tacit agreement with that at all – my three words have nothing to do with that paragraph. I quoted a different paragraph – the second, not the fifth, and added my three words. That’s comment 97.

When the whole Elevatorgate thing erupted, what really bothered me the most was not the initial incident (although that was uncool), but the vicious misogyny and the threats of sexualized violence aimed at Rebecca Watson in response to her very reasonable request that guys not corner women in elevators. This same kind of vitriol was also hurled at Greta Christina.

And at me.

See? Nothing to do with para 5. Becky says my quoting a different paragraph and saying that the same kind of vitriol was hurled at me reveals my tacit agreement with a different paragraph. What an idiotic claim. There’s nothing else I can say about it, and I’m bored with this anyway. But really – it’s idiotic. Quoting one passage is not tacit agreement with a different passage. Pretending it is is just a silly gotcha move. That’s how flimsy her “case” is, yet they squandered two hours of talk and a blog post on it, all for the sake of gaining a bunch of ERVites hurling more vitriol at me.



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

Jen dances all night

Jun 16th, 2012 2:02 pm | By

I forgot to say!

Jen is doing her annual SSA blogathon  – not the wimpy 6 hours I did but the big kahuna: twenty.four.hours.

You know why the SSA is a great thing and needs your support.

Donate to the Secular Student Alliance here.

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

Naming the problem

Jun 16th, 2012 10:00 am | By

I keep meaning (and wanting) to get back to more usual subjects – violence against women, persecution of “blasphemers,” bishops telling everyone what to do – but more shrapnel keeps coming in, so I keep reporting on it.

I could do the other thing. I could ignore it. I could skirt around it, leaving names out.

But I don’t think that’s the way to deal with bullying. There’s been a lot of discussion of this lately, with regard to the bullying of gays, atheists, women – lots of Others – and there’s a pretty strong consensus that advice to “ignore it” just lets it go on. It’s not Buddhist or Tolstoyan or pacifist, it’s lazy and callous and status quo-protecting.

So fuck that. I’m being subjected to systematic bullying, as are other women who are talking about this, and no I’m not going to smile politely and ignore it.

So I’m sorry about the interruption and the monotony, but there it is. There’s a grotesque awkward situation here and it’s not my job to try to smoothe away the awkwardness by pretending it isn’t happening.

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

Squicked again

Jun 15th, 2012 3:28 pm | By

Oh good – this just in – another “bitchez need to stfu about all this sexual harassment shit” announcement, from a Dr Marty Klein.

He cleaned up the facts about the harassment to improve his case though. That’s naughty, Dr Marty Klein.

I recently attended the national conference of a large progressive organization. It was well-organized, stimulating, and fun. The people were mostly energetic, interesting, and friendly; it was a good mix of ages, sexual orientations, and divided almost 50/50 male-female.

I was eventually asked, as a sex therapist, what I thought about Sexual Harassment. Apparently a couple at last year’s conference had gotten friendly with a particular woman in her mid-30s. Eventually “Mary & John” handed the woman their card—suggesting quite clearly that they were “open” to “adult activities.”

The woman didn’t want to share this kind of fun, which is perfectly fine. But she was somehow “offended,” which is not.

See where he got the facts wrong? The couple did not “get friendly” with Elyse during the conference, at least not according to her account.

Then, at the very end, when everyone was preparing to leave, and I was packing up the Hug Me table, answering questions, and generally socializing with other speakers and attendees, thinking about how fat my check is going to be from Big Pharma when one man and his wife, whom I’ve become vaguely acquainted with on Facebook in the last week, approached my table. He said, “Here’s a little something to remember us by” and handed me an upside-down card. I turned it halfway over, glanced at it peripherally, then thanked them.

A minute or so later, I had a “wait… what?” moment, then flipped the card over and looked at it not peripherally to discover I had not been handed a business card, but a card with a naked photo of the two of them, with their information on how to contact them should I want to fuck.

See? That’s different, isn’t it. They didn’t get friendly with her and then “eventually” hand her their card. They came up to her at the very end of the conference, handed her the card face down, and split.

Is it fine for her to be “somehow ‘offended’” at that? What a fucking stupid question. How fucking stupid and unpleasant of this Dr Marty Klein to change Elyse’s account of the incident and then announce that it’s not fine for her to be “offended” in scare quotes – it’s not fine for her to be offended by two total strangers – apart from vague acquaintance on Facebook - sneaking her a card of them naked inviting her to contact them if she wanted to fuck, and then running off.

The name of his blog is Sexual Intelligence. That’s sexual intelligence?

The woman didn’t want to share this kind of fun, which is perfectly fine. But she was somehow “offended,” which is not. In fact, the woman felt that this invitation constituted Sexual Harassment, and she complained. Even worse, this previously loyal movement member then blogged and blogged and blogged about it, urging her female readers to stay away from the organization. Now the word is out to younger progressive women—don’t go to this group’s conferences.

Unless you want strangers slipping you an invitation to fuck and then running away. If you do, by all means go to this group’s conferences! But no, that’s not good enough for Dr Marty Klein – it has to be forbidden for people to blog about such jolly incidents, because to blog about it is disloyal. (And as for blogging and blogging and blogging – there are no words to describe such treason.)

So what did that young woman experience? Not Sexual Harassment, but Unwanted Sexual Attention. And when the woman made it clear it was unwanted, the attention went away. That should have been the end of the story. But if the recipient of a friendly, non-pressuring, non-institutional sexual invitation isn’t grown up enough, she (or he) will feel assaulted. And with today’s heightened consciousness—and internet access—she will have the option of describing herself as victimized to a large number of people.

No, the attention went away before she registered what it was. One could see that as considerate tact, or one could see it as creepy. I think it’s creepy. But in any case – some people (at least, some women) really don’t want to be the recipient even of a friendly, non-pressuring, non-institutional sexual invitation from complete strangers in a work situation. Not as a card with naked people having sex on it, not as a 4 a.m. invitation for coffee in a hotel room. Some crazy women just really want to be able to go places without being asked for sex. Dr Marty Klein apparently thinks that’s nuts. What a creep.

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

I did not compare TAM to Nazi Germany

Jun 15th, 2012 12:49 pm | By

I sent Travis Roy a message on Facebook. (He’s not a friend, but you can send messages to people who aren’t friends. That’s convenient sometimes.) He’s the guy who announced on that “Great Penis Debate” that I compared TAM to Nazi Germany, which is not true. I asked him where he got that piece of misinformation.

The only place I’ve seen it via Google is on a stupid wiki set up by ERV people (and places they’ve dropped it lately, such as Ask an Atheist). I’m curious about how much success they’re having in spreading malicious falsehoods.

Maybe for my TAM talk I’ll just say “I did not compare TAM to Nazi Germany” as many times as I can in the time allotted.

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

Tomorrow, raise a glass to the Exes

Jun 15th, 2012 11:56 am | By

And when I say “tomorrow” of course I mean “a week from tomorrow.” Because I was rushing, and got it wrong.

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain are having a 5th anniversary celebration and fundraiser tomorrow Saturday June 23 in London. If you’re in or near London, go along and give them bales of money tied loosely with twine.

Book your tickets today and join 5th anniversary celebrations

Join us to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain on Saturday 23 June 2012 from 13.00-16.00hours in London. Book your tickets today. Speakers and acts include: Renowned Philosopher AC Grayling Writer and Documentary-maker Gita Sahgal Comedian Kate Smurthwaite Theoretical Physicist Lawrence Krauss and Best-selling Author of A Universe From Nothing DV8 Physical Theatre Director Lloyd Newson with a clip from Can we Talk about This? CEMB Founder and Campaigner Maryam Namazie Magician Neil Edwards Singer and Songwriter Shelley Segal

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

More people speak up

Jun 15th, 2012 11:22 am | By

Update June 18 8:29 a.m.: I modified two items in Act II to reflect later discussion and amplification, including one of the two complainants. They didn’t see him taking photos up skirts, they saw him walking around with a camera on a monopole held at his ankle pointing up. The guy in question – Buzz0 – has also been commenting on the Facebook post.

One of the things I didn’t get to in the hail of shrapnel yesterday – a Facebook post describing two incidents of sexual harassment at TAM.

Act I:  TAM 2009

I notice an outrageously drunk conferee hitting on a non-conferee in the Del Mar Lounge.  She was at the stage of being quite anxious but trying very hard to remain polite.  I asked him if maybe the woman had had enough.  He was far too drunk to notice his inappropriate behaviour and became surly.  I watched from a distance.  He decided to kick it up a notch, leaned across the table, and licked the woman’s neck.  Myself and another gent physically restrained him and frog-marched him to his room.  Hotel security wanted to eject him immediately.  God knows why, but I intervened so he could stay.  He was a royal pain in the ass for hours while we babysat him in his room, and he remains bitter about the experience to this day.  I would not plead with hotel security if that were to happen again.

Act II:  TAM 2011

Two women people approach me and another conferee.  They are pale and trembling.  A man with a camera on the end of a telescoping monopod has been attempting to surreptitiously take photos up their skirts in a position to take surreptitious photos up women’s skirts. Yes, he was attending TAM.  They had taken concerns to conference organizers and got little satisfaction.  Hotel security confiscated the camera.  I later learned the individual was well-known and had been complained about in previous years, and yet there he was again.

Act III:  Female safety?

I go to conferences.  Lots of conferences.  I am nauseated with conferences.  None, NONE, involve the kind of outrageous shitshow behaviour I routinely witness at TAM.  I could supply many more anecdotes.  Oh, anecdotes aren’t data?  Well, these anecdotes are human beings – our sisters.

Frankly, I admire Rebecca Watson’s restraint and tenacity, and her longsuffering support of an organization which, while it does perhaps do net good in the world, has yet to take a long, serious, hard look in the mirror and acknowledge that, if we’re ever going to get past this sophomoric bullshit and present a credible face of rationality in an irrational world, the irrational world we need to start with is us.

There are many comments, informative comments. There are comments from Fred Bremmer, whom I actually know - he was at the talk I did at CFI Vancouver last year, and the pub afterwards. He was in the car that conveyed me and others to the pub. He took some of the pictures I have on FB from that occasion. He’s a great guy. His comments are informative.

Fred Bremmer I provided a picture of the monopod guy to the two traumatized women last year so they could identify him to hotel security. They told me they also reported the incident with him to DJ and to the company that ran the conference for the JREF. They told me the professional conference staff people were the most helpful and understanding about it, but they were frustrated by DJ’s response, or lack of one. As far as I know, the monopod guy was asked to stay away from the women who complained about him, but he was still sitting close to them in the bar later that weekend. When I asked him to move away, he moved his chair, but only AN INCH away. I had to call him out on THAT, and he moved farther away, but stayed in the same general area. These women’s report seems to be missing, or at least significantly downplayed, in the story we’re hearing from DJ about sexual harassment at TAM.

A woman reports some things.

Personal Anecdotes TAM 8

#1 A certain rather well-known male TAM attendee is taking pictures with random TAM goers and I approach him for a picture. “Whoa, I’m married!” he blurts out as if I was asking for something more than a picture. My demeanor had not been different from that of others who had asked him for a picture.

#2 At the bar after the day’s conventions, a TAM goer is flirting with me and is very persistent about coming back to my room with me. I am scared and I have to sit there until a friend comes back to get me because I am not going down the hallway if he decides to follow me. It was more than regular or humble flirting, it wasn’t normal.

#3 I am at the IIG luncheon and a gentleman arrives late so me and my bunch who also arrived late and got a separate table from the main table wave him in to welcome him to sit with us. I act perfectly normal, I am not wearing cleavage, I do not touch him, I am not flirtatious. After the convention this man describes me as having been “sexually manipulative” during that luncheon. I definitely was not and it hurts my feelings.

#4 After TAM ours Mark Edward writes a sexist blog about my TAM event. Mark Edward overall is very sexist not just in his demeanor toward me but to other women also, I have observed. Mark did not attend that particular TAM but does attend other ones and is part of the sexist bunch.

That’s four hideous experiences within a short few days. An alarmingly high frequency, though I wouldn’t go as far as holding D.J. Grothe responsible.

Interesting, I think.

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

Only you can help prevent bishops

Jun 15th, 2012 10:50 am | By

CFI is also taking on the bishops, by defending birth control and telling Obama to do likewise.

And we can help.

HHS is allowing public comments on the new guidelines until Tuesday, June 19, 2012. Here’s how you can get involved:

1.   Visit

2.   In the search field, type the following: CMS–9968–ANPRM.

3.   Scroll to the top result and click on “Submit a Comment.”

This drawn out debate over something as basic as birth control is a perfect example of the harmful influence of religious institutions on public policy. Send a message to policy makers at HHS right now and tell them it’s time to finalize the contraceptive rule and move on.

Remember, the deadline is Tuesday, June 19, 2012!

Dooo eeeeet!

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

CFI expresses outrage over the sentencing of Alexander Aan

Jun 15th, 2012 9:42 am | By

The Center for Inquiry is organizing a protest outside the Indonesian embassy in DC next week. The protest is at the prison sentence handed down to Alexander Aan for expressing an opinion about religion.

Alexander Aan did nothing more than exercise the most basic of human rights — the liberty to express his beliefs — yet he is now in great danger. Not only has he lost his freedom, but many people in Indonesia are calling for his death. It is unconscionable that any person could be jailed or face death threats for simply stating his or her position regarding religion. Freedom of belief and expression are universal rights that should be afforded to all individuals.

In response to today’s ruling, CFI is organizing a protest outside the Indonesian embassy in Washington, D.C. The protest will take place next week, most likely on Monday afternoon, June 18. If you can attend, please email Michael De Dora at

Thank you CFI.

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