Notes and Comment Blog

He was accused of apostasy “for speaking lightly of the Prophet Mohammed”

Dec 25th, 2014 11:11 am | By

Now a piece of horrible news from Mauritania:

A Muslim man has become the first person to be sentenced to death for apostasy in Mauritania since independence in 1960 after a court ruled he had written something blasphemous.

Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mohamed, who is around 30 years old, fainted when the ruling was read out late Wednesday in a court in Nouadhibou in the northwest of the country, a judicial source told AFP.

As well he might. Imagine being sentenced to death by a court of law for writing “something blasphemous.”

During the hearing the judge told Mohamed that he was accused of apostasy “for speaking lightly of the Prophet Mohammed” in an article which was published briefly on several Mauritanian websites.

In it he challenged some the decisions taken by Islam’s prophet and his companions during the holy wars, the source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

He also accused Mauritanian society of perpetuating “an iniquitous social order” and defended those at the bottom rungs of society who he described as “marginalised and discriminated against from birth”.

And for that they intend to kill him. They intend to kill him, with the dignity of the law behind them.

Mohamed, named by some local media outlets as Cheikh Ould Mohamed Ould Mkheitir, explained that it was “not his intention to harm the prophet”, the source added.

His lawyer asked for leniency as he said his client was repentant but the judge agreed to the prosecutor’s request for the death penalty.

No information was immediately available on whether Mohamed would appeal.

Local Islamic organisations said it was the first time text critical of Islam had been published in the country.

The verdict was met with shouts of joy from the gallery, while on the streets there were jubilant scenes as cars sounded their horns.

How disgusting. How bottomlessly horrible to welcome a death sentence on someone for having a social conscience.


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

A Christmas morality play

Dec 25th, 2014 10:33 am | By

Department of Stories that we suspect didn’t happen quite the way they were described.

The New York Post reports – or, rather, melodramatizes – a tale of an evil Grumpy Passenger being thrown off a plane during boarding because he was a demonic Enemy of Christmas.

The byline is Michael Liss, Daniel Prendergast and Philip Messing, which seems like a lot for such a tiny story (in both length and import). Maybe they’re all sock puppets of Bill O’Reilly, or Murdoch himself.

The man was waiting to board American Airlines Flight 1140 to Dallas when a cheerful gate agent began welcoming everyone with the Yuletide greeting while checking boarding passes.

The grumpy passenger, who appeared to be traveling alone, barked at the woman, “You shouldn’t say that because not everyone celebrates Christmas.”

The agent replied, “Well, what should I say then?”

“Don’t say, ‘Merry Christmas!’ ” the man shouted before brushing past her.

See what I mean? Already I don’t believe it. I don’t believe he shouted, and as for “brushing past her” – what was he supposed to do, wait for her to carry him?

Once on the plane, he was warmly greeted by a flight attendant who also wished him a “merry Christmas.” That was the last straw.

“Don’t say, ‘Merry Christmas!’ ” the man raged before lecturing the attendants and the pilot about their faux pas.

“Raged”? I don’t believe you, New York Post.

The crew tried to calm the unidentified man, but he refused to back down and continued hectoring them.

He was escorted off the plane as other fliers burst into cheers and applause.

And Tiny Tim broke his crutch over the Grumpy Man’s head.

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

He’s a goofball who writes funny songs

Dec 24th, 2014 5:22 pm | By

So there was this charity event. It was held at an Elks Lodge. The lodge is in Glendale, California. The host of the event was a retired cop. About half of the 50 to 60 guests were cops.

You can probably already tell this story isn’t going to go well.

Somebody took some video. Salon reports on what the video shows.

In the video, Gary Fishell, a former federal investigator, sings a parody of the song “Bad, bad Leroy Brown“:

“Michael Brown learned a lesson about a messin’
With a badass policeman
And he’s bad, bad Michael Brown

Then it gets worse; go there if you want to read the whole thing.

It’s the fascism again. It’s racism too, obviously, but it’s also the fascism I was talking about in regard to the New York police commissioner and the PBA. It’s rejoicing in superior force, even in cases where it’s not called for. It’s saying jump when we say jump or we’ll kill you, and isn’t that glorious of us.

It’s also disgusting.

In an interview with TMZ, Fishell’s lawyer says that Fishell now realizes the song was “off color and in poor taste.” “He’s a goofball who writes funny songs,” his lawyer continued. “He thought the room would get a kick out of it.”

Sigh. Point missed. Reality evaded.

Myers was unapologetic about his guest’s chosen form of entertainment: “How can I dictate what he says in a song? This is America. We can say what we want. This is a free America.”

Yes yes yes, and nobody’s arresting him (or shooting him), but there are plenty of things people are free to do that are nonetheless despicable. That “funny song” is despicable.

A representative from the Glendale Elks Lodge condemned the performance: “It’s deplorable and inappropriate and the Lodge will take disciplinary action against [Fishell] and possibly the people who organized the event,” a trustee said. “We don’t stand for any racist things like this.”

This country is shameful in so many ways. Like this one, via Amazing Maps on Twitter:

Prison Population per 100,000 people (2012)

Embedded image permalink


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

The view from under the bus

Dec 24th, 2014 3:17 pm | By

Here is another reason to dislike Bill Maher.


Bill Maher‏@billmaher
#TheInterview Is that all it takes – an anonymous threat and the numbers 911 – to throw free expression under the bus? #PussyNation

He wouldn’t use #NiggerNation that way. He didn’t, and he wouldn’t. Yet he thinks it’s ok to use #PussyNation that way. (Yes, Jon Stewart also does that [unless he’s stopped], and that sucks too.)

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

Can mice throw up?

Dec 24th, 2014 2:44 pm | By

The New York Public Library has a Christmas / solstice / holiday / rainy day present for us: questions asked of reference librarians in the days before The Google.

Recently some folks at the New York Public Library discovered a box containing old reference questions from the 1940s to 1980s. They’ll be posting the questions to their Instagram account on Mondays (starting today), but have shared a bunch with us today, noting, “we were Google before Google existed.”

I love it when people discover a box containing treasure.

  • What did women use for shopping backs before paper bags?
  • Are black widow spiders more harmful dead or alive?
  • Is it proper to go to Reno alone to get a divorce? (1945)
  • Are Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates the same person?
  • Can NYPL recommend a good forger?

I’ll pause a moment to let us all catch our breath.


  • Does the Bible have a copyright?
  • What percentage of all bathtubs in the world are in the US?
  • Can you tell me the thickness of a US Postage stamp with the glue on it? Answer: We cannot get this answer quickly. Perhaps try the Postal Service. Response: This is the Postal Service.
  • What does it mean when you dream of being chased by an elephant?
  • How do you put up wallpaper?

They should get the forger to put up the wallpaper.


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

Cory Booker

Dec 24th, 2014 11:58 am | By

The junior Senator from my home state of New Jersey sends us a shout-out.


Today is HumanLight — a Humanist holiday celebrates a Humanist’s vision of a good future on December 23. I wish you all a good future and a happy holiday!

Same to you Senator!

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

Take turns

Dec 24th, 2014 11:45 am | By

The New Yorker on Facebook.

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

Flip the terms

Dec 24th, 2014 11:15 am | By

The first paragraph of a somewhat rambling think piece about Joan Didion snagged my attention.

EVEN NOW, even in this century, decades past the pictures with Corvettes and cigarettes and sunglasses, even after her manner, with its uneasy admixture of condescension toward the world and delicacy toward the self, became case study for how to be slightly dangerous and stylish and aloof as a writer without the compensatory aid of masculine bravado, there is always murmuring about Joan Didion.

Um, ah. That’s quite a tidy summing-up of why I don’t like Joan Didion. I think that admixture is exactly the wrong one to have, because it gets everything reversed. The condescension (or doubt, or critical view, or skepticism, or caution) should be for the self, and the delicacy (or interest, or openness, or curiosity, or attention) should be for the world.

I don’t like writers or thinkers who are more interested in their own selves than they are in all the rest of the world combined. They’re laboring under a misapprehension. No one person is more interesting than all the rest of the world. Not even Shakespeare, not even Keats – and I can say “even” about them because they both were insatiably interested in the world. Same with Montaigne – he was always talking about himself, yes, but not with “delicacy” but rather with a clinical, experimental kind of interest that combined well with his fascination with the world. I don’t like precious, exquisite little droplets of self-obsession.

I don’t like Corvettes or cigarettes, either.

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

At the table

Dec 24th, 2014 10:36 am | By

Is police work the most dangerous job you can do?

No. You know what is? Construction.

Construction is one of the most dangerous occupations in the world, incurring more occupational fatalities than any other sector in both the United States and in the European Union.[27][28] In 2009, the fatal occupational injury rate among construction workers in the United States was nearly three times that for all workers.[27]

Have a table from 2006.

Construction workers are far more at risk than cops are. Maek you think.

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

Questions and Answers on Taking Captives and Slaves

Dec 23rd, 2014 5:45 pm | By

The BBC’s Paul Wood also reports on the terrible fate of Yezidi women.

Yezidis say there are still 3,500 Yezidi women and girls enslaved by IS. Three thousand five hundred. A few have escaped, and some of those told their stories to Paul Wood.

Hannan is 18 and wants to be a nurse, a future almost snatched away by IS.

Hannan says the jihadists blocked Sinjar’s roads with their pick-up trucks. She was turned back to town, where women and girls were separated from everyone else.

“There were 20 of them, with long beards and weapons. They said: ‘You’re coming to Mosul.’ We refused. They hit us and dragged us to their cars.”

She was taken with other women to a sports hall. Then, after a couple of weeks, to a wedding hall. In one place, there were 200 women and girls. These were slave markets. IS fighters could come to take their pick.

“We didn’t dare look at their faces. We were so afraid. One girl came back after she had been used as a sex slave and told us everything. After that, IS did not allow anyone else to return.

“They were shooting to scare us. They took whomever they wanted, by force. We were crying the whole time. We wanted to kill ourselves but we couldn’t find a way.”

Multiply that times 3,500.

It seems that IS has, indeed, given out orders on the proper use of women as slaves.

The group’s Department of Research and Fatwas (religious edicts) has issued a pamphlet with the chillingly matter-of-fact title: “Questions and Answers on Taking Captives and Slaves”.

The document appears to be genuine. It was posted on a jihadist web forum and, apparently, given out after Friday prayers in Mosul.

Christians, Jews and Yazidi women can all be taken as slaves, it says. Women can be bought, sold, and given as gifts; they can be disposed of as property if a fighter dies.

Because they are property. They’re not human, they’re just property…Just as people of African descent used to be in the US.

The pamphlet’s Q&A format includes the following:

Question: Is it allowed to have intercourse with a female captive immediately after taking possession of her? Answer: If she is a virgin, her master can have intercourse with her immediately after taking possession. But if she is not, you must make sure she is not pregnant.

Question: Is it allowed to have intercourse with a female slave who has not reached puberty? Answer: You may have intercourse with a female slave who hasn’t reached puberty if she is fit for intercourse. However, if she is not fit for intercourse, it is enough to enjoy her without.

It is a depraved and depressing document, at odds with mainstream Islam, though well-researched with Koranic verses and hadiths, or reports of what the Prophet Muhammad said or approved.

Well, how much at odds? Mainstream according to whom? It doesn’t seem all that at odds with Saudi Islam or Afghan Islam or Boko Haram Islam.

IS itself has not tried to hide what it has done. As well as the pamphlet and the video, its official publication, Daqib, records what happened:

“After capture, the Yazidi women and children were then divided according to Sharia [Islamic law] amongst the fighters of Islamic State who participated in the Sinjar operations…

“Before Satan sows doubt among the weak-minded and weak-hearted, remember that enslaving the kuffa [infidels] and taking their women as concubines is a firmly-established aspect of Sharia.”

Divide the world into believers and infidels, and watch what ensues. Nothing good.





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

White and Scottish, period

Dec 23rd, 2014 5:05 pm | By

MediaMatters tells us that Rush Limbaugh has been ranting about the idea of Idris Elba playing James Bond.

Limbaugh on Idris Elba: “James Bond was white and Scottish, period.”

Huh. Jesus was Mediterranean and Palestinian, too; I wonder if Rush Limbaugh ranted when Mel Gibson played the part.

Anyway…if I had any interest in James Bond I think I’d rather watch the guy on the left playing him than the shouty fella.


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

Genocide for god

Dec 23rd, 2014 1:01 pm | By

It’s not just IS. Lejla Kurić reminds me that Karadžić said much the same thing at his trial. I’d forgotten that if I ever knew it.

The BBC reported it in 2010.

Former leader Radovan Karadzic has said the Serb cause in the Bosnian war was “just and holy” as he began his defence at his genocide trial at The Hague.

Marcus Tanner at the Guardian expanded on the point.

Listening to Radovan Karadzic describe his war against the Bosnian Muslims as “holy”, it’s tempting to think he is making a bad joke, or fooling the judges. This would be to mistake both the man and his supporters. Most of the Bosnian Serb fighters serving under him that I met in the early 1990s talked the same crusading talk, jumbling up ethnic, economic and religious grievances against their Muslim neighbours, and claiming to be avenging the Turkish conquest of Bosnia in the 15th and 16th century.

Their strident confessional animosity explained their obsession with blowing up religious monuments – whatever their historic value. That’s why Bosnia lost the lovely 16th-century “painted” mosque in Foca in eastern Bosnia, and the soaring Ferhadija mosque in Banja Luka, in the north-west, which disappeared along with every other mosque (and Catholic church) they could get hold of.

The Ferhadija mosque

Tanner goes on:

Westerners often couldn’t figure out why Karadzic’s fighters seemed so indifferent to, or even satisfied by, the destruction of “their” old libraries and old towns. In reality, though the Serbs had migrated en masse into the towns after the communist takeover in 1945, many felt little ownership of this still alien landscape of mosques and minarets.

The Serbs of Karadzic’s stamp were on a mission to change that urban landscape for good, and found in the Orthodox church an unswerving supporter. The hierarchy blew incense over every Serbian offensive, however bloody. When the paramilitary group know as the Tigers stormed the northeast town of Bijeljina in 1992 and butchered a good number of the local Muslims, “pour encourager les autres”, (an assault memorably captured by a Time magazine photographer) their leader, nicknamed Arkan, sought – and received – the public blessing of one of the leading bishops.

Sometimes religion motivates people to be better. Sometimes it allows them to be unspeakably worse.

The Orthodox hierarchy in Serbia maintained its uncritical alliance with Karadzic to the end of the war, and beyond (as did the Croatian Catholic bishops with their own holy warriors). The Orthodox churches of Greece and Russia were equally fulsome. In Athens in 1993, the Greek bishops feted Karadzic, proclaiming him a Christian hero. So, when Karadzic says he his war was “holy”, he’s not acting. He believes precisely what he says. And throughout the Balkans, and beyond, the Orthodox church has taken him at his word.

God hates what you hate.

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

For they are merely property

Dec 23rd, 2014 11:56 am | By

Don’t let’s forget about the Yezidi women. Islamic State has enslaved hundreds or perhaps thousands of them for the purpose of rape, Amnesty International reports.

What AI doesn’t report, at least in the press release, is the fact that IS treats this as officially okie dokie according to Islam. IS gives itself permission and indeed approval to treat women and girls this way because they consider it endorsed by their religion.

From the full report:

In August 2014, IS fighters abducted hundreds, possibly thousands, of Yezidi men, women and children who were fleeing the IS takeover from the Sinjar region, in the north-west of the country. Hundreds of the men were killed and others were forced to convert to Islam under threat of death. Younger women and girls, some as young as 12, were separated from their parents and older relatives and sold, given as gifts or forced to marry IS fighters and supporters. Many have been subjected to torture and ill-treatment, including rape and other forms of sexual violence, and have likewise been pressured into converting to Islam.

IS are fighting a religious war, and this is how they fight it.

Maybe that shouldn’t make any difference. AI seems to think it doesn’t, because it mostly doesn’t discuss it. But I don’t really see how it can not make a difference. The victims must realize that their rapists and kidnappers and torturers think they have Allah on their side – that they’re doing the right thing, the religious thing, the approved thing, the justified thing. That’s got to feel horrible.

Residents of Mosul and Tal ‘Afar, where many abducted Yezidi women and girls have been held, told Amnesty international that they knew of men who had good relations with IS fighters and had “married” abducted Yezidi women or girls in their cities. A Mosul resident said he knew of at least two such cases: “They are local businessmen, not fighters. I don’t know if they bought the girls or what the arrangements are to get the girls but they registered their marriage in the local Shari’a court [established by the IS].” A resident of Tal ‘Afar, who told Amnesty International that he supports the IS, said:

“It is right and proper that these people [members of the Yezidi community] should convert to Islam and that the unmarried women should be married to Muslim men according to Islam. It is not true that they are oppressed, this is just propaganda. They are being fed and well treated like any other wives. I personally know some of the local men who have married these girls and they are good and honourable men.”

See? There it is – It is right and proper that these people should convert to Islam and that the unmarried women should be married to Muslim men according to Islam. “Married to Muslim men” meaning forcibly married without their consent to Muslim men according to Islam. Nothing oppressive about that, it’s just propaganda to think that’s oppressive.

AI does get to the religious legitimization question at last, in the section titled RULE OF FEAR.

In a matter of weeks the IS carried out a deliberate policy of ethnic cleansing in northern Iraq. It forced hundreds of thousands of members of ethnic and religious minorities, who had lived in the region for centuries – including Shi’a (who are a minority in northern Iraq), Assyrian Christians, Turkmen Shi’a, Shabak Shi’a, Yezidis, Kakai, and Sabean Mandaeans – to abandon their homes and villages.

The IS has also boasted about subjecting abducted Yezidi women and girls to sexual violence and slavery, seeking to legitimize these abhorrent and criminal practices according to their own interpretation of Islam. Discussing the treatment of the Yezidi minority population in areas under IS control in its publication (Dabiq), it states:

“Unlike the Jews and Christians, there was no room for jizyah (non-Muslim residents) payment. Also, their women could be enslaved… After capture, the Yazidi women and children were then divided according to the Sharī’ah amongst the fighters of the Islamic State who participated in the Sinjar operations, after one fifth of the slaves were transferred to the Islamic State’s authority to be divided as khums [fifth]… Before Shaytān [Satan] reveals his doubts to the weak-minded and weak hearted, one should remember that enslaving the families of the kuffār [infidels] and taking their women as concubines is a firmly established aspect of the Sharī’ah…”

That’s how it’s done: define them as “kuffar” and you can do anything to them you want.

According to a recent “Questions and Answers” believed to have been issued by the IS’s “Office of research and religious edicts”:

“Unbelieving [women] who were captured and brought into the abode of Islam are permissible to us, after the imam distributes them [among us]… If she is a virgin, he [her master] can have intercourse with her immediately after taking possession of her. However, if she isn’t, her uterus must be purified [first]… It is permissible to buy, sell, or give as a gift female captives and slaves, for they are merely property, which can be disposed of… It is permissible to have intercourse with the female slave who hasn’t reached puberty if she is fit for intercourse; however if she is not fit for intercourse, then it is enough to enjoy her without intercourse…”

for they are merely property

That’s their god.

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

Guest post: The racist status quo

Dec 23rd, 2014 11:04 am | By

Originally part of a comment by kagekiri on “A predictable outcome of divisive anti-cop rhetoric.”

Stop and frisk just harasses the vast, vast majority of people stopped (according to the NYPD, 9 out of 10 are innocent), as they aren’t committing crimes, and the vast majority of people stopped are black people. In areas that are 24% black or latino, they make up 75% of stops, and given only 11% of stops are ones where police actually have a suspect they’re looking for, that means 89% are just “random” (read: racist as fuck), so it’s not even mostly explained by having more black and latino suspects they’re looking for. It’s just plainly racist and authoritarian, and not even particularly effective for it: it doesn’t catch many illegal guns, gun murder rates haven’t gone down, and you’re fucking over innocent black people who get harassed disproportionately.

Our drug laws literally require 18 times (until recently, it was 100 times) the prison sentence for crack use versus cocaine powder use. Guess who smokes crack most? Poor black people. Who sniffs cocaine powder most? White people. Why the difference? It’s two forms of the same drug, but racism is fucking enshrined in our laws and practiced by our lawkeepers.

Drug use rates among different races are fairly similar, differing a few percentage points at most (12% of white people used marijuana in the past year, around 14% of black people). Black people are convicted almost 4 times more often of those crimes than white people. This is NOT in proportion to crimes committed by any stretch of the imagination.

Again, even if there were significantly different crime committing rates, Black people are convicted at higher rates for the same crimes than white people. Black people receive harsher sentencing than white people for the exact same crimes, and are more likely to end up on death rows for the same crimes. Black people who are convicts have worse wages in the long term than white convicts, controlling for all other factors but race. The justice system fucks over black people disproportionately to the actual crimes they commit, regardless of the rates they commit them at.

And it fucking rolls over to each new generation, even if we were to suddenly stop being as racist in our arrest habits and sentencing habits. Convicts aren’t there to raise their kids, kids with parents in jail are more likely to have less supervision and care, less likely to succeed in school, and are then more likely to end up in jail themselves. It’s a fucking rolling disaster fucking over black communities generation by generation, where 1 in 3 black men will be jailed in their lifetimes, and still we stoke it with ridiculous drug wars that we primarily wage on the poor, where people of color are overly represented, and then even with that, we target them more than white people in the same communities committing the same crimes.

The justice system’s failure obviously doesn’t excuse crimes that actually hurt people, but nor does this mean we should want to continue this bullshit, racist status quo.

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

In search of the woo that cures faith in woo

Dec 23rd, 2014 10:49 am | By

Should promoters of homeopathy be able to claim that homeopathic “vaccinations” are effective? Nope, not in my view. It’s the equivalent of advertising Cyanide Candy on cartoons shows aimed at children.

A court in Australia has accepted a version of that view.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has convinced a court that a company that offers homeopathic remedies was “misleading and deceptive” when it tried to argue that said remedies provide a viable alternative to the pertussis vaccine.

The case dates back to early 2013. The company, Homeopathy Plus, posted a series of three articles that claimed (among other things) that the vaccine for pertussis (whooping cough) is unreliable and ineffective. Literature currently at the site criticizes vaccines more generally, while promoting homeopathy as effective in preventing “malaria, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, leptospirosis, and meningococcal disease.”


[T]he whooping cough articles drew the ire of Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration Advertising Complaint Resolution Panel and Therapeutic Goods Administration, which sought a retraction of the published claims. Homeopathy Plus, however, declined to obey these orders. At that point, the Competition and Consumer Commission filed a federal case.

And won. Good.

I wonder if there’s any homeopathic remedy that can cure people of the reckless irresponsibility of claiming that woo “remedies” are effective. I wonder if there’s any kind of woo anywhere that can make people realize it’s a terrible thing to do to claim that their pet magical pseudo-remedy is a cure or preventive for dreadful diseases like pertussis.

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

How we live now

Dec 22nd, 2014 6:12 pm | By

Life for Canadian dentistry students who are careless enough to be women can be quite unpleasant, it appears.

“It was hell,” said the resident, CBC News is calling “Sarah”. We have agreed to protect her identity because she fears retaliation​ and damage to her professional career.​

Over the course of her final year in residency she says she and other female peers were targets of misogynistic jokes, comments and text messages made by a fellow male resident.

“When I started I was one of two females and the jokes [and] the acceptance for certain kinds of jokes were shocking to me.”

“He would make comments about other [female] residents weight or about her height. When we were studying cranial-facial abnormalities he would pick each one of us and say that we look to have this syndrome.”

Sarah says eventually it evolved to text messaging.

“I got a text message from him asking where he could find girls like me, I asked what he was talking about and he said ‘oh, because you’re a whore.'”

It’s not the worst thing that could happen, but it’s not something anyone should have to put up with, either. It’s not cool. If they were already professionals it would be called unprofessional; since they’re students, it’s…well it’s still unprofessional. It’s not the way to treat people.

Another female resident sent screen shots of the the text messages to the program’s director. Sarah says the next day, the male student sent an email to class apologizing.

The letter read,

“It’s been brought to my attention that my behaviour to residents in the program has been unacceptable, inappropriate and not in a professional manner.”

He needed to be told that?

If he didn’t know that without being told, it’s debatable whether he should be in any kind of doctor-patient field to begin with. Casual sadists shouldn’t go for jobs where they work directly with and on human beings. I wouldn’t want that guy sticking sharp things into my mouth.

The student didn’t consider the email sufficient.

Finally she filed a formal complaint with the faculty, who launched the investigation. During this time, she says she was still forced to sit two chairs from this resident, despite pleading with the faculty to have him moved. It was not until Sarah hired a lawyer that the university obliged to switch him out of the class.

“What upsets me the most is that if his comments would have been towards an ethnic group or about someone’s sexual orientation … or religion, it would be unacceptable.” she said.

I think that’s probably right. Verbal abuse of women is normalized.

H/t Ibis

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

We don’t live in a copocracy

Dec 22nd, 2014 5:17 pm | By

Anthony Zurcher reports on the opportunistic “blame the protests” rhetoric over the murders of the two New York cops.

At the centre of the storm is New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has been heralded as a populist torch-bearer since his election in November 2013.

The mayor had previously expressed solidarity with protesters who had taken to the streets after a police officer was not indicted for the death of Eric Garner.

And he had publicly wondered if his biracial son was safe from police – rhetoric some are now arguing helped to create an environment that encourages violence against police.

Yes, and? Is protesting the killing of Eric Garner and the non-indictment of his killers so obviously terrible? Not to me.

Patrick Lynch of the PBA said what he said. Pataki said what he said. The cops turned their backs on De Blasio.

On Sunday night some police officers turned their backs on the mayor in silent protest as he walked to a press conference. It was a gesture that Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News says shows the gravity of the crisis.

“The mayor has to understand that if he does not step up and step forward now and admit mistakes he has made with the NYPD because of his obsession with playing to his base, then the image of those cops turning their backs on him will be a part of his permanent record,” he writes.

Well the image of Eric Garner lying on the pavement will be a part of the NYPD’s permanent record, too. Who is more in the wrong? It’s not clear to me that it’s De Blasio.

Mr de Blasio “lit the fuse” that led to the shootings, writes the New York Post’s Michael Goodwin.

“Again and again, he depicted the great and gallant NYPD as an occupying army of racist brutes,” he writes.

Gallant shmallant.

Many of them may be terrific, but some of them clearly are not. We are allowed to say that. The police have a job to do; they’re not our bosses or our monarchs or our priests; we’re not required to pay them unconditional homage. We are allowed to say they did a bad thing in any particular case.

A mayor is either with the police or against them, he says. “That fact is nowhere to be found in the progressive playbook, which sees everything through race and class,” he continues. “But it is how the real world works.”

Former New York City Police Commissioner Howard Safir, writing for Time magazine, says there currently exists “an atmosphere of permissiveness and anti-police rhetoric unlike any that I have seen in 45 years in law enforcement”.

He warns that if police aren’t supported it could lead to a return to a time in New York City when “gangs controlled the streets” and car theft and murders were rampant.

I tell you this crap is fascist. They don’t seem to realize it, but it is. This hero-worship of the people with guns is the essence of fascism, even more so than racism.

Now to hear from the other point of view.

“There is a yawning gap between the kind of reforms demanded by De Blasio and the protesters, and open hostility to police,” writes the New Republic’s Claire Groden. “Hundreds of deaths caused by police officers have gone unreported in federal statistics since 2007. Overly aggressive policing – such as the stop-and-frisk policies that de Blasio made a point of reforming – victimises minorities across the country.”

Activist and former basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabaar calls the recent rhetoric a cynical ploy.

“This shrill cry of ‘policism’ (a form of reverse racism) by Pataki and the police unions is a hollow and false whine born of financial self-interest (unions) or party politics (Republican Pataki besmirching Democrat De Blasio) rather than social justice,” he writes in Time magazine. “These tragic murders now become a bargaining chip in whatever contract negotiations or political aspirations they have.”

Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News says people like Mr Pataki and the police union leaders are “the usual array of bottom feeders” looking to turn the police murders into political advantage.

Mr de Blasio’s “biggest crime”, he says, “apparently was telling his black son to be extra sure to do what the officer says when he’s stopped”.

The police are not in charge of us. They are empowered to enforce the law where it needs enforcing, but that does not make them in charge of us. We are allowed to say they got it wrong, especially when they did in fact get it wrong.

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

Guest post: There is little recourse to the law when the criminal is a cop

Dec 22nd, 2014 1:25 pm | By

Originally a comment by Bruce Gorton on “A predictable outcome of divisive anti-cop rhetoric.”

On the same day on which this story broke, I read another in which a cop attacked someone who was asleep in a hospital.

The cop arrested his victim for assault, it was probably only that hospital waiting rooms have cameras that resulted in the cop being found out.

Last week meanwhile I subbed a story about a cop who was suspended, for not tear-gassing a suicidal university student he had just talked down when his fellow officers felt the need to forcibly restrain the said student for no apparent reason.

America’s police force blames the media, but who was it that killed a 12-year-old for carrying a toy gun? Who killed a man for picking up a toy gun in a toy store? Who choked a man to death on the streets? Who killed an unarmed teenager?

And what did each case demonstrate?

There is little recourse to the law when the criminal is a cop. The issue is not simply the police force, but the entire legal system.

So what happens when people don’t trust the law anymore? I can tell you what happens in South Africa.

You get people attacking the police because they’re just one more rival gang. They aren’t keepers of the peace, they’re thugs and crime lords abusing a position of authority to build their little empires.

You get mob justice, you get riots and you get deaths. The best cops become worthless – because they cannot do their jobs without the trust of the public, and without the ability to trust their coworkers.

My country has serious problems with distrust of the police force, and not reporting on it doesn’t solve the base problems that caused that distrust. You can shut the media up all you like – but people still know the cops will take bribes and lose dockets.

You can shut the media up all you like, but people still know the American police force kills children for being black. A silent media is deadlier than a noisy one, because in the absence of information action cannot be taken to correct major problems, while allowing far darker imaginings than the bald truth to become seen as fact.

You want to prevent this happening again? Then you need to stop whining at the protesters and start taking a serious look at your police culture, which has gone so far overboard on the macho bullshit that the decent, sane cops are more likely to be punished than the thugs with badges.

Otherwise all you’re doing is wanking self-righteously about how mean people are for pointing out how your police force’s shit stinks.

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

At most local news

Dec 22nd, 2014 1:01 pm | By

Oh and by the way – it’s completely unimportant, but then again it perhaps led to things that were important, so it might be worth mentioning – the first person Ismaaiyl Brinsley shot was his ex-girlfriend, Shaneka Thompson. He shot her in the stomach.

Nancy Leong at Slate says this is a pattern.

We live in a country where shooting your ex-girlfriend is at most local news.

According to media reports, the management of Thompson’s apartment complex distributed a letter to other residents stating that her shooting was the result of a “domestic dispute” in order to reassure them that “this was a private, isolated incident.” When three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends every single day in the United States, domestic violence is just another routine event—merely a landlord-tenant-relations issue of no concern to anyone else.

Of course, later that day Brinsley went on to murder New York police officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, so we now know that his shooting of Thompson was no private, isolated incident. The more difficult question is why anyone ever assumed that it was.

Well it’s like this. Brinsley was mad at his own personal ex-girlfriend. That means he’s not going to shoot the rest of us in the stomach, because we’re not his ex-girlfriend. The same applies to all those other private, isolated incidents of domestic violence. All we have to do is not involve ourselves with someone who will shoot us when he gets pissed off, and we’ll be fine.

Too often, our society resists taking domestic violence and other forms of gendered violence, such as stalking and sexual assault, as seriously as other kinds of violence. We need to stop dismissing gendered violence and start learning from the pattern present in one incident after another. Men who engage in violence at home are often men who engage in violence outside the home. And men who devalue women’s lives are, by definition, men who devalue human lives.

And for another reason, too. Women’s lives matter. Even women who aren’t cops or celebrities or important in some way.

And just a few days ago, Man Haron Monis held 17 people hostage for more than 12 hours in a coffee shop in what quickly became known as the Sydney siege, which culminated in the deaths of two hostages as well as Monis. Both during and after the hostage standoff, considerable attention focused on Monis’ Islamic ties and purported religious extremism. Yet far less note was made of his extensive history of violence against women. At the time of the standoff, he was out on bail for charges relating to the murder of his ex-wife, whom he had also threatened and stalked, and he had been charged with more than 40 sexual assault offenses dating from 2000 and allegedly involving seven different women. As Clementine Ford aptly observed, this information “paint[s] an incredibly disturbing picture of someone with a deep and aggressive hatred for women.” Yet this disturbing pattern of violence against women apparently failed to raise the kind of red flags that would have led to confinement—or at least closer supervision—of Monis.

I suppose that’s because violence against women is seen as “domestic” and that is seen as not a threat to people in general.

We need to stop seeing these various manifestations of misogyny—aggression, stalking, domestic violence, sexual assault—as a separate species of problem. Certainly men who engage in violence against women often do so for gendered reasons. Sometimes men are angry when women don’t obey them. Sometimes men feel that women owe them something. And women often suffer when they don’t act the way men want them to. But the consequences of misogyny and gendered violence don’t stop with women.

I’m really not sure that’s a great way to frame it. I’m not sure violence becomes worse just because it doesn’t stop with women. I’m not sure violence is more benign as long as it stops with women. Obviously Leong doesn’t mean to say otherwise, but I’m not crazy about the way she framed this.

Given the clear connection between private and public acts of violence, the relative lack of media attention to Brinsley’s attack on Thompson is inexcusable. Although local media and Twitter linked her shooting to that of Liu and Ramos within a few hours, many mainstream media outlets failed to mention her or devoted only a single sentence to her shooting until much later.

Same again – not the best way to put it.

Mind you – I didn’t mention Thompson yesterday either. Guilty as charged.

Certainly ending violence against women is a worthy aim in and of itself. But we also need to see misogyny as a warning sign both of violence against women and of violence, period. What if Seung-Hui’s stalking behavior had resulted in concrete punishment? What if Rodger’s aggression toward women had been taken more seriously? What if the various charges against Monis had been deemed sufficient to warrant his incarceration prior to trial?

Of course, taking gendered violence seriously is not a panacea. It’s not yet clear whether treating Brinsley’s shooting of his ex-girlfriend as a mere domestic dispute delayed the police in discovering his deadly intentions. Perhaps handling the event differently would have prevented the tragic deaths of Liu and Ramos. Perhaps it wouldn’t have.

What is clear is that gendered violence is often a prelude to other forms of violence. Moving forward, we should treat gendered violence as real violence, and its harms as part of a pattern that affects all of us.

Well, really, I think we should treat gendered violence as something that matters whether it affects all of us or not.


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

Dangerous driving

Dec 22nd, 2014 12:07 pm | By

So there’s a new trend in France? A fashionable new style of mini-jihad – drive a van or truck or car into a crowd of shoppers because Allahu akbar?

A van has been driven at shoppers at a French Christmas market in the city of Nantes and the driver is reported to have stabbed himself, officials say.

Ten people are reported to have been injured, five seriously.

The exact circumstances remain unclear, but the incident comes only a day after pedestrians were run down in Dijon.

The driver of that vehicle screamed “God is great” in Arabic.

Meanwhile, to confuse the issue further, in Glasgow a garbage truck (aka rubbish lorry or bin lorry) went out of control in a busy square and crashed into a bunch of people, killing six, but the police don’t think that one was deliberate.

It’s a Hobbesian world out there.

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