Notes and Comment Blog

Our short and pithy observations on the passing scene as it relates to the mission of Butterflies and Wheels. Woolly-headed or razor-sharp comments in the media, anti-rationalist rhetoric in books or magazines or overheard on the bus, it’s all grist to our mill. And sometimes we will hold forth on the basis of no inspiration at all beyond what happens to occur to us.


“The people I work with don’t judge me by my looks”

Nov 12th, 2014 4:00 pm | By

Business Insider comments on Matt Taylor aka Mr Lookit teh Haff-Nekkid Laydeez On My Shirt guy.

All of humanity made history today by landing a spacecraft on a comet.

Unfortunately, many of the women following that development — and a few men, too — were made to feel pretty unwelcome in the space exploration sphere when one of the people leading the mission decided to show up to talk about it wearing a shirt covered in dozens of half-naked women.

Really, what kind of clueless jackass does that? I’ve seen it suggested that Taylor wanted to emulate the coolness of Bobek Firdowski’s mohawk.

If so – dear god how clueless. Spot the difference – one is an amusing fanciful haircut that doesn’t degrade anyone, and the other is a shirt covered with women-as-consumer-items. How much though does it require to grasp that the second is neither cool nor a good thing to do?

Contrast the feeling you get seeing this guy in a shirt that objectifies women to this image from the Mars mission control room in India when that country launched its first orbiter to the Red Planet earlier this year.

View image on Twitter

Wow, I hadn’t seen that before. Engineers in saris!

Interestingly, Taylor recently participated in a live online chat with the Wall Street Journal in which he was asked how he gained acceptance in such a respected field while sporting sleeve-length tattoos.

He responded, “The people I work with don’t judge me by my looks but only by the work I have done and can do. Simple.”

If only women could hope to someday be judged that way too.

Seriously. Jesus, Matt Taylor, if it works for you, how much effort does it take to realize it works for people who aren’t you as well?

Business Insider asked the European Space Agency for a comment, and will report back if and when it gets one.

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



Making a statement

Nov 12th, 2014 11:49 am | By

Sexism? What sexism? I don’t see any sexism.

(I wonder how many posts I’ve begun that way. I have a feeling it’s several. Also some with misogyny replacing sexism.)

Behold Matt Taylor, the lead project scientist of the European Space Agency’s Rosetta project:

Embedded image permalink

Gee, I wonder why there aren’t more women in STEM fields.

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



Which Word Should Be Banned in 2015?

Nov 12th, 2014 10:23 am | By

Time magazine has an annual “what word would you most like to see disappear?” feature. This is its fourth annual one. It gives a list of Horrible Words for people to vote on. Guess what’s in there. Go on, guess.

Feminism.

If you hear that word one more time, you will definitely cringe. You may exhale pointedly. And you might even seek out the nearest the pair of chopsticks and thrust them through your own eardrums like straws through plastic lids. What word is this? You tell us.

For TIME’s fourth annual word banishment poll, we’re asking readers to vote another word off the island, following previous castoffs OMG, YOLO and twerk. Cast your vote, encourage your friends to share their curmudgeonly angst and we’ll announce the results next week on Nov. 19.

If you need help deciding (or a little background on the words), see our blurbs below the poll, in which we’ve channeled the type of person who would like to see each nominee launched into the deepest, darkest, most hopeless eternity from whence there is no salvation nor return.

All the other words are either trendy slang or jargon or both, with the single exception of “kale” – which is a trendy vegetable rather than a trendy word. Slang, jargon, slang, jargon, slang, kale, jargon – oh yes and that word for the equal rights of women, yes by all means let’s get rid of that word.

Here’s a word we won’t be getting rid of any time soon.

Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck.

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



Philae has landed

Nov 12th, 2014 9:48 am | By

No biggy – just setting down a probe on a comet.

The Philae probe has landed on the surface of a comet, scientists from the European Space Agency (ESA) announced Wednesday.
It is the first time a soft landing has been achieved on a comet.

It will be sad if we succeed in putting things on Mars and comets but fail at keeping the planet from becoming inhospitable to mammalian life.

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



It’s not rape if you’re famous

Nov 11th, 2014 5:18 pm | By

Huh. So celebrity rapists don’t always get to silence all their victims or accusers. Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon tells us how Bill Cosby hasn’t been able to lately.

there was beloved icon Bill Cosby – who’s come under fire recently thanks to a new 500-page biography that conveniently omits a 2006 lawsuit and settlement from a woman who claimed he drugged and raped her — and the more than a dozen women who have also come forward with very similar stories. The response to Cosby today is vastly different than it was eight years ago, when the entire case went largely unremarked.

Comedian Hannibal Buress made it part of his routine last month in Cosby’s old stomping ground of Philadelphia. “The Queen Latifah Show” announced it was canceling an appearance by Cosby – while insisting the controversy had nothing to do with the abrupt scheduling change.

So as the drumbeat of public inquiry has grown ever louder, the Cos picked a bad time to tell the world “Go ahead. Meme me!” and unveil the hashtag #CosbyMeme. And meme him people did, with hilarious photos of him mugging with captions like “14 allegations of rape? Zipzopzubittybop!” and “I just can’t stop puddin’ it in other people without their consent.” Unshockingly, the 77-year-old has now backed away quietly from making further requests of his followers.

Oh yes? No empty threats of lawsuits? No infinitely verbose bloggers rushing to his defense?

Let’s see a few of those memes…

View image on Twitter

Pete Forester @pete_forester

View image on Twitter

Jason Steele @FilmCow

View image on Twitter

Cornhole West @Floyd_Banks

View image on Twitter

sideshowRaheem @sideshowRaheem

More here, as well as of course on Twitter.

Then she tells the Dapper Laughs story, and sums up:

I could write, literally every day, about men whose apparent loathing for women has been the rocket fuel for their creative inspiration. That these guys get work and can make money while behaving badly isn’t going away any time soon. But what gives me the slightest glimmer of hope that the world may be a less horrible place for my daughters someday is that more people are speaking up about this BS. They are calling out the trolls who threaten women, they are having conservations about street harassment, they are urging venues to cancel events hosted by sexist jerks, and they are saying, again and again, that if you behave badly it will be noted and it will not be supported. Last year, Australian Lt. Gen. David Morrison issued a statement on sexual abuse in the military in which he laid it out simply that “The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.” We’ve walked past long enough. And we’re not accepting it anymore. So if you have a woman problem, take note, before the joke’s on you.

I hope so.

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



The duck’s off

Nov 11th, 2014 3:51 pm | By

Ah there’s more today. Daniel O’Reilly aka “Dapper Laughs” is getting cancellations left and right. Could people have finally figured out that rape and misogyny aren’t funny?

A UK tour by the controversial comedian Dapper Laughs has been cancelled following the axing of a second series of his ITV2 show.

A string of dates due to be played at top venues such as the Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London and the O2 Academy in Leeds have been pulled following outrage over content that derides women.

And treats rape as a funny haha joke.

During the performance at London Scala, Dapper Laughs – real name Daniel O’Reilly – said of a female audience member: “She’s gagging for a rape.”

He’s still doing some gigs though, Tara Conlon reports.

A quick trawl of bookings for the Dapper Laughs shows reveals that booking is still open for gigs in February at the Institute in Birmingham and the Ritz, Manchester.

That could always change, of course.

A spokeswoman from Academy Music Group said that refunds would be available from venues for those who had bought tickets: “As a major UK venue operator we regularly host events of varying styles and content in music and comedy. In light of the cancellation of the second series of the Dapper Laughs ITV2 show and significant criticism, Dapper Laughs (Daniel O’Reilly) has himself apologised for any offence caused by his material, and we are aware that Dapper Laughs’ brand of comedy may not be to everyone’s taste.”

Sigh. It’s not a matter of “offence” and it’s not a difference in “taste.” They always insist on trivializing it…no doubt because they don’t want to admit what kind of thing they’re promoting.

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



“On the Pull” has been pulled

Nov 11th, 2014 3:09 pm | By

Huh. “Dapper Laughs” is in the shitcan.

ITV has decided not to commission a second series of the controversial comedy series Dapper Laughs: On the Pull, following criticism of the show.

The decision was made after around 60,000 people signed a petition calling on Adam Crozier, the network’s chief executive, to pull the ITV2 show, and after footage emerged of a gig hosted by Daniel O’Reilly – who plays Dapper Laughs – which made a reference to the rape of women and which mentioned ITV2’s show.

Notice the story (reported by Tara Conlan) carefully says “after” not “because.” Post not propter. Following, not on account of. But anyway it’s good news. (Spare us the cries of free speech and political correctness. Free speech doesn’t depend on the permanent existence of tv shows “bantering” about raping women.)

In the programme O’Reilly gives laddish advice on how to “pull birds” under the guise of a deliberately provocative character with lines such as: “Just show her your penis; if she cries, she’s just playing hard to get,” and: “If she’s looking at me and playing with her hair, by the end of the night she’ll need a wheelchair.”

What does that mean, “deliberately provocative”? Provocative of what? How is laddish banter about putting women in wheelchairs “provocative”?

The petition called on ITV to can the programme, saying: “O’Reilly’s work frequently depicts real-life harassment of women and in his new show he offers dating tips to members of the public inspired by his misogynistic views, all under the guise of harmless comedy.

“O’Reilly’s attitudes towards women, and ITV’s backing in particular, are far from harmless, however: because ITV has granted O’Reilly the massive exposure and credibility of its platform, everyday sexism is being normalised for both young men and women.”

So many things are normalizing everyday sexism. It’s depressing and discouraging.

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



An oppressor and a threat to free speech

Nov 11th, 2014 12:31 pm | By

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown provides us with another discussion of bogus accusations of “political correctness.”

In truth, it is racism that is the forbidden subject. If you object to that evil, you are “politically correct”, an oppressor and a threat to free speech. Missiles are fired at those of us who speak up. Some internet abuse is worse than being spat at. I am told by some leading lights that preference for one’s own sort is “natural” and that minorities have been spoilt by having protective laws and “special privileges”.

Same old same old same old, eh? You should just deal with it; you don’t get special favors; you don’t want equality you want to be dominanat; yadda yadda.

I blame the minorities, too, for the vulnerable state we are in. Islamicist separatism and now Isis terrorism have turned good people off diversity. The anti-white prejudices within some Asian families are mortifying. Grooming gangs have destroyed young girls and also cohesion and mutual trust between the brown and white Britons.

We are also frighteningly vulnerable because anti-racists have given up on the struggle, unlike feminists or those fighting for gay rights. The Equalities and Human Rights Commission is, frankly, moribund and we could, but don’t, use the web to campaign against racial prejudices. Where is our Peter Tatchell? Where, indeed, is the next generation Anthony Lester, the human rights supremo who pushed through race relations legislation?

Britain could be an exemplary rainbow nation with a place for everyone. A few years back, we thought it was. It no longer is. In a globalised world, that is bad news, even for racists.

Andrew Sullivan – got anything to add?

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



That’s not “dating advice”

Nov 11th, 2014 11:30 am | By

Julien Blanc is scheduled to visit the UK for a “lecture” series on how to assault women, but there’s a petition drive urging the government to deny him a visa.

Thousands of people have called on the Home Office to deny a visa to a controversial US “pick-up artist” who holds seminars that critics say teach men sexually abusive and racist tricks to attract women.

Well, you know, it’s not really “critics say” – it’s just an obvious fact. It’s no good pretending that grabbing strangers by the back of the head and pushing them onto your crotch is not sexually abusive. It’s no good pretending that’s just “banter” or “flirtation” or “seduction.”

The City worker who started the petition said Blanc’s seminars promoted dangerous behaviour and attitudes towards women. Caroline Charles, a pseudonym she is using because of the abuse and vitriol experienced by other female campaigners against sexism, said: “Julien Blanc dresses up his seminars as dating advice, which at best is disingenuous – he focuses on tricking women into having sex, in order to make money.

“It is wrong on every level – it is promoting violence against women and girls, it takes advantage of men and it sends a message to survivors of sexual assault that they will not be listened to. To allow someone into the UK who is explicitly promoting these things is abysmal.”

It also conflates rape with sex, which seems like a bad idea for everyone except possibly committed puritans.

Video clips of Blanc on YouTube show him shoving women’s faces into his crotch and on one occasion assaulting a Japanese checkout worker – who appears to be deeply uncomfortable – by kissing her neck and ear. He is shown speaking to a room full of men who laugh at his anecdotes, at one point commenting about women in Japan: “If you’re a white male, you can do what you want. I’m just romping through the streets, just grabbing girls’ heads, just like, head, pfft on the dick.”

This is what I’m saying. The shoving faces into his crotch part isn’t free speech in any sense, it’s assault. The videos aren’t assault, but they are promoting assault. I don’t think assault-promotion should be protected speech.

Sarah Green from the End Violence Against Women coalition said that there was a strong legal case for denying Blanc a temporary work visa for the UK. “Some of the behaviour Blanc demonstrates in his videos amounts to sexual harassment and sexual assault,” she said. “More broadly this is part of a culture that makes light of assault, that tells victims they will not be taken seriously. We need a social conversation about why this type of ‘advice’ is commercially viable.”

The threshold for denying a temporary work visa is a lot lower than the threshold for, say, arrest, I’m guessing. I don’t think Julien Blanc should get a temporary work visa for the kind of “work” he does.

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



He was singing in Belgian

Nov 11th, 2014 10:43 am | By

Ed Milliband reads a newspaper satirical story accusing his father of killing a kitten.

Yes really.

//www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQWYnU9wqQQ

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



Court mandates penis-snipping

Nov 11th, 2014 10:16 am | By

Oh, fabulous – a Florida court has ruled that a mother has to have her 4-year-old son circumcised because his father wants it. A court has ordered a mother to get her son mutilated because that’s what his father wants.

As we reported in the spring, Boynton Beach mom Heather Hironimus was ordered by the court to have her then-3-year-old child circumcised, in accord with a parenting agreement she’d signed in 2011. However, in the intervening years, Hironimus had read up on the practice and come to learn it was not medically necessary and even risky.

She went to court to fight the father’s wish to have the procedure completed and was granted an emergency injunction.

Now, however, she has reportedly lost an appeal, and sympathizers are using social media to make pleas to the judge in the case and to raise awareness to her cause.

Rights of the child, folks. First do no harm. When in doubt, don’t mutilate. What should the default be? No mutilation.

A campaign called “#SavingChase Photo & Video Crusade” encourages parents to “take pictures and/or videos of you or your children pronouncing ‘Save Chase from Circumcision,’ or something along those lines, on camera with the hashtag #SavingChase.”

Many have complied:

chase_save.jpg

Cindy Hetzer via Facebook

But wait! Can those children with the signs consent?

The irony — of people arguing that boys shouldn’t be circumcised until they can consent yet using their own toddlers to make points in social media campaigns — was not lost on some commenters, who fired back with statements like: “I don’t feel comfortable using children for political means. They can’t consent much like they can’t consent to genital surgery.”

Don’t be silly. The two are not comparable. One is an irrevocable removal of a piece of the body for no medical reason, and the other is holding a sign in a photograph. I’m not generally a big fan of enlisting children to hold political signs, but in this case the relevance is obvious – they are little children like Chase, who given a choice would prefer not to have pieces cut off them for no medical reason. (No, I don’t think parents should pierce their children’s ears.)

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



And drInk her fucking blood

Nov 10th, 2014 6:11 pm | By

I suppose Andrew Sullivan would think it was “leftist feminists policing speech” if Twitter managed to stop things like harassment of the daughters of a football coach who failed to win a game yesterday?

The Packers manhandled the Bears last night, and Chicago fans have had it with head coach Marc Trestman. Some of these angry, impotent people have access to Twitter, and have decided to direct their rage onto Trestman’s two daughters, Chloe and Sarahanne, two people who have no coaching or playing duties with the Bears.

Ah ah ah – watch it – saying the coach’s daughters have no coaching or playing duties with the Bears sounds perilously close to Policing Speech. In a very dim light it might even look like Leftist Feminism.

@SonBateman@chloT94 I would rape the shit out of her

— Pumpkin Fucker (@ELNEIGHBORADOR) November 10, 2014

@ELNEIGHBORADOR@chloT94 I would fucking eat her remains

— 2ND (@SonBateman) November 10, 2014

@ELNEIGHBORADOR@chloT94 im going to roll around in and drIInk her fucking blood

— 2ND (@SonBateman) November 10, 2014

But they can handle that, right? Therefore, it should go right ahead, because as long as something doesn’t make you dead instantly, you can handle it, and no Policing is necessary.

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



Made to respect women of any kind who dress in any way

Nov 10th, 2014 5:43 pm | By

Uh huh.

A guy called Karim Metwaly, who clearly gets to wear a T shirt and baseball cap without expecting harassment, did a video of a woman walking in Manhattan first in leggings and a T shirt and then in full hijab and a long black robe. Guess what.

Uh huh.

I strongly believe women have the right to dress in which ever way they want and also believe that guys play a major role, they should not talk in disgusting ways and should lower their gaze. This video was in no way a survey or an accurate representation and should not be considered as such. This video was done as an experiment and these were the results with no tampering or editing trickery. Footage that was left out due to time does not change the outcome represented in this video. This video was made to respect women of any kind who dress in anyway. Please feel free to share. – Karim Metwaly

No I don’t think it was. I think that’s bullshitting. I think it was made to claim that if women would only wear tents and head-bandages, they would not be harassed, and that women who don’t dress that way and do get harassed are getting harassed on purpose.

//www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgw6y3cH7tA

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



Sullivan provides an example for Sam

Nov 10th, 2014 4:37 pm | By

So Andrew Sullivan uses “SJW” as a sneer too. I know he’s very conservative, but I’m a little surprised he’s conservative in that particular style. Or maybe I’m not; he’s said plenty of absurd things before.

The SJWs Now Get To Police Speech On Twitter

Uh huh, and we get to steal your testicles, too!

Well, you could see this coming. Twitter announced last Thursday that it was teaming up with a left-feminist activist group to investigate gender-based harassment on the social networking site:

A group called Women, Action, and the Media, which advocates for better representation of women, is testing a new reporting process for gender-based harassment. The group developed a tool for reporting harassment and will forward confirmed reports to Twitter. “If it checks out, we’ll escalate it to Twitter right away (24 hours max, hopefully much less than that) and work to get you a speedy resolution,” says the group, which abbreviates itself as WAM. “But please note: we’re not Twitter, and we can’t make decisions for them.”

So not policing at all then. Not some generalized “policing” of “speech” but a tool to attempt to do a better job than Twitter does of dealing with harassment – not speech in general, but harassment, which is by definition targeted at people. If you stand under my window and shout insults at me for hours, I can probably get the cops to tell you to go away. You can still speech, you just can’t harass me. (Until tomorrow, when we can start over again.)

Instead of seeing the web as opening up vast vistas for all sorts of voices to be heard, they seem to believe it is rigged against female voices, or that women are not strong or capable enough of forging their own brands, voices, websites and fighting back against ideas they abhor with wit and energy and passion and freedom. Instead, WAM’s goal is to police and punish others for their alleged sexism – along the well-worn lines of contemporary and controlling left-feminism.

No, it isn’t. It’s to attempt to do a better job than Twitter does of dealing with harassment. It’s not to police and it’s not to punish; it’s to try to prevent harassment. It’s not to police and punish sexism; it’s to try to prevent harassment.

Here’s the mindset behind the project:

“I see this as a free speech issue,” Friedman said. She said she knew some would see the work WAM does as “censorship,” but that a completely open and unmoderated platform imposes its own form of censorship. It effectively prevents women, especially queer women and women of color, from getting to speak on the service.

How exactly? Does Twitter prevent women of color from using the service? Or is it simply that WAM believes that women cannot possibly handle the rough-and-tumble of uninhibited online speech?

It’s not the rough-and-tumble of uninhibited online speech; it’s harassment. And whether or not you think that people of type X can “handle” it, the point is that no one should have to. Nobody should have to “handle” an endless stream of racist abuse, for example; there should be no endless stream of racist abuse. Andrew Sullivan should try not being a callous asshole and see what that’s like.

I can find no reason to oppose a stronger effort by Twitter to prevent individual users from stalking or harassing others – but if merely saying nasty things about someone can be seen as harassment, then where on earth does this well-intentioned censorship end? Is it designed to censor only misogyny and not racism? What about blasphemy?

Who said merely saying nasty things about someone can be seen as harassment? Nobody I know of. But saying nasty things about someone forty thousand times in public, or saying nasty things about someone as part of a public dog-pile that goes on for weeks – that can be seen as harassment.

Here’s me saying something nasty about Andrew Sullivan: he’s a smug conservative-politically-correct tool.

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



And another one

Nov 10th, 2014 3:25 pm | By

Another slaughter of school children in Nigeria.

At least 46 students have been killed by a suicide bomber at a school assembly in the north-eastern Nigerian town of Potiskum, police have said.

A suicide bomber dressed as a student is believed to have caused the blast at the boys’ school in Yobe state .

Police suggested the militant group Boko Haram carried out the attack.

Yobe state’s governor has shut all public schools around Potiskum and criticised the government for not tackling the group.

Way to break racism and smash borders and do away with the need for passports!

Boko Haram has targeted schools during a deadly five-year insurgency aimed at establishing an Islamic state.

It is waging a sustained campaign to prevent children from going to school. It believes girls should not attend school and boys should only receive an Islamic education.

And by “an Islamic education” it means memorization of the Koran. Not a real education, just the memorization of a book, and a bad book at that.

The explosion ripped through the assembly hall at the Government Science Secondary School.

Police spokesman Emmanuel Ojukwu told the BBC Hausa service the attack had left 47 people dead, including the suicide bomber. Another 79 were wounded.

Dozens of students were injured so severely medics were unable to save them.

Let’s hear more about the free dental service that ISIS provides, shall we?

The BBC’s Nigeria correspondent Will Ross adds:

By setting off the bomb during the morning assembly, the militants clearly aimed to kill as many students as possible.

Few of the attacks here are ever claimed by any group but Boko Haram will once again be suspected. The jihadists have carried out particularly brutal attacks on schools before.

Chibok is known in many parts of the world because of April’s mass abduction of girls from that remote village. But there have been many other horrific attacks on schools which have received less attention – including last February’s raid on Buni Yadi, in Yobe state.

Dozens of boys were burnt to death, shot or killed with knives in the dormitory. Female students were spared but told to never attend school again, go off and get married. Boko Haram wants the education of boys to be limited to strict Koranic studies only.

Marriage for girls, the Koran for boys; stultification and ignorance for both.

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



No passports in the ummah

Nov 10th, 2014 3:13 pm | By

Harper’s interviewed an ISIS fighter, Kabir Ahmed aka Abu Sumayyah, who killed eight people and himself in a suicide bombing in Iraq over the weekend.

Sumayyah tells Harkin he looks forward to the coming era of passport-free travel as the Islamic State widens its frontiers through Syria, Iraq, and beyond. He reveals that he had been imprisoned in Britain, “for the propagation of my religion.” (His criminal convictions were for stirring up hatred against homosexuals and shouting homophobic abuse at a gay-pride parade.) Sumayyah calls Britain “Dar al-Kufr,” or “the land of infidels.” He tells Harkin that among his new friends, are jihadi veterans from all over the world, including the United States. “It’s like a dream: one day we eat Eritrean, the next we eat Pakistani. We are breaking borders; we are breaking racism,” he says.

And entrenching and enforcing sexism and homophobia, along with bigotry against other religions, no religion, and secularism. Here’s a newsflash: you can break racism and sexism and homophobia and hatred of other religions and loathing of secularism. You can, and the result is much much better.

Sumayyah speaks excitedly of the new government and its personnel. “There is free medical, dental, and eye care, and the doctors are all absolutely free,” he says. “All these services are building blocks of the state.” There are orphanages and special madrassas where orphan children were taught to memorize the Koran and Islamic State military bases were also open to children, especially orphans, so they can “learn about jihad and military matters.”

Sounds like hell on earth, especially for children.

Sumayyah tells Harkin he believes that reports of mass executions of hundreds of Shia prisoners have been exaggerated, or deserved. A full 2,000 Iraqi soldiers had been given the opportunity to repent, he says, “This is the way of Islam. Everyone gets a chance to repent. But if they don’t, it’s death. It’s the same in every country in the world: it’s treason against the state.”

Nope.

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



Refusing to accept

Nov 10th, 2014 12:56 pm | By

Apparently the Catholic church gets to, or thinks it gets to, decide for itself whether it will or will not be held accountable for years and years of child rape in one of its institutions. The NSS reports:

The Catholic Church is refusing to accept “liability” for long-term sex abuse that went on at the Mirfield Junior Seminary, despite paying out £120,000 to eleven victims of child sex abuse.

The seminary, which closed down in 1984, was run by the Verona Fathers (now known as the Comboni Missionaries) and saw sexual abuse perpetrated by priests against children as young as 11.

But the church can just say no, right? It can just say no we didn’t and we refuse to accept liability, right? That’s how it works with rape, right? People can just say “no I didn’t” and that’s the end of it?

Three Catholic priests of the Verona Fathers are said to have repeatedly abused boys in their care. Now twelve of their victims have joined together to campaign for justice. The former pupils have launched a website to share their experiences of the seminary, called Mirfield Memories, and to offer support for their fellow victims.

A website! Oh my god – won’t somebody please think of the priests? Such accusations should never ever be discussed on blogs or websites! The horror!!

The men’s efforts have led to many of their fellow pupils coming forward to describe their own experiences of abuse at the Mirfield Seminary.

In a press release the “Mirfield 12″ describe some of the abuse they suffered at the hands of the Verona Fathers. One of three priests accused of abuse, Fr Pinkman, “used to bring boys, as young as 11 to his bedroom, to explain the facts of life to them and ask them to remove their clothes so that he could explain further. He went on to abuse many of them”.

One of the boys, Anthony Smith, recalls how Pinkman “pinned me against the wall and kissed me all over my face, rubbing himself against me”.

Smith, then 11 years old, felt unable to report the abuse to his parents, as the Missionaries read every letter the children sent to the outside world. Eventually, he informed the Rector of the seminary who “didn’t say a word” in response to the allegations.

But the church says it doesn’t accept liability! So surely all these people who say they were victims have to shut up about it. Don’t they?

The “Mirfield 12″ believe that the Catholic Church is still refusing to take responsibility for the culture of sexual abuse that existed at Mirfield.

The sole surviving priest, Fr Romano Nardo, is still living with the Verona Fathers in Italy. On one occasion during the period of the sex abuse, a child was spotted leaving Nardo’s bedroom at night and the priest was immediately moved away from the seminary. West Yorkshire Police have reviewed evidence and concluded that crimes were committed, but are “unable to get an extradition order” to bring Nardo to the UK for questioning. The Comboni Missionary order have stated that the priest is “not in a mentally stable enough condition to travel”.

So there you go – case closed, nobody talk about it ever again.

One of the victims claims the abuse was carried out over two decades. The campaigners note that when Fr Valmaggia was reported, he was immediately sent away to Italy, whilst Nardo was dispatched to Uganda when one child was seen leaving his bedroom at 6am one morning.

The child in question, Mark Murray, reported Valmaggia to the Church and the police in 1997; however the priest was simply returned to Italy. According to the campaign, “none of the priests were ever reported to the police by the Comboni Missionaries, they were simply moved elsewhere”.

So, therefore, no one is allowed to talk about it now. Right?

Recent years have seen a raft of such cases coming to light, and Pope Francis “begged” for forgiveness from the victims and condemned the Church’s “complicity”. For the Mirfield 12 however, the Catholic Church still has a “long way to go before true and honest dialogue and change occurs”.

Nardo remains safe from extradition, and not a single priest involved in the abuse, or the subsequent cover-up, has ever faced prosecution. The Verona Fathers claim that the sex abuse “had not been proven” and after the compensation money was paid by the Comboni Missionaries, a spokesman for the order claimed that “given the passage of almost half a century, we will never know the truth of what happened”.

So let’s just forget all about it and never mention it again. Yes?

On the website, Murray recounts an exchange he recently had with the Bishop of Verona, Giuseppe Zenti, who offered “prayers” to the victims. Murray complains that “I am not short of people praying for me”, and described his frustration with the stonewalling by Church authorities. The forum of the website is full of comments and experiences from victims, a sad testament to the widespread nature of the sex abuse that went on at Mirfield.

At the time of writing more victims plan to speak to West Yorkshire Police about their experiences at Mirfield, and the Mirfield 12’s website has drawn significant attention from former pupils, some of whom believed they were the only victims of Valmaggia, Pinkman and Nardo, before seeing the many testimonies collected on the Mirfield Memories website.

But that’s exactly why you’re not allowed to talk about it! This is all very bad for those rapey priests!! Shut up shut up shut up!!!

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



Missionary activities

Nov 10th, 2014 12:28 pm | By

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain has a report on the Islamic Education and Research Authority aka iERA. It’s a group for Islamist missionaries, basically.

iERA are effectively a pro-active organisation that facilitates missionary activities, and also an aggregating organisation that co-ordinates evangelism and preaching by affiliates. Even though iERA does not have a central constitution, the ideas that its core group aggregates, and its affiliates assert, correspond tightly with the ideas propounded by Islamist organisations and hate groups like Hizb ut Tahrir. In addition, the ideas of iERA and its affiliates fit into a wider stream of Wahaabi / Salafi Islamism.

iERA can be classified as a hate group because of its persistent promotion of
Islamists who preach hate against non Muslims, women, gays, progressive
Muslims and ex-Muslims. It is also one of the main organisations behind the call for the imposition of Islamist norms in society, including gender segregation at UK universities and the assertion of preachers who promote Sharia courts.

So, it’s a group that, if it succeeds in its mission, will make life hell for most people.

The practical effect of their speeches is a cumulative one, in which hatred,
cruelty and dehumanisation are normalised and a climate of hostility and
supremacism are deemed to be righteous expressions of belief. Their Islamic
missionary activity is not only about spirituality, but a wider call to make society subordinate to theocratic norms.

Read the whole thing.

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



The godless North

Nov 9th, 2014 5:43 pm | By

There’s a documentary tv series in Scandinavia (I haven’t been able to find out if it’s Swedish or Finnish or etc) that did an episode about a US fundamentalist Christian preacher bumbling around Scandinavia getting shocked about how unlike him they are.

Pastor Marty McLain, who describes his religious belief as deriving from a literal interpretation of the Bible, was given the opportunity to see how secular Scandinavia is by a documentary series called The Norden.

What he found came as a shock, apparently. (He could have just gone to New York or Seattle and been shocked there. I suspect he doesn’t get out of Georgia much.)

McLain, who’s favorite expression is “wow,” is wowed a lot. Almost no one he talks to on the street seems interested in God. One guy puts it bluntly: “If there is no god, why should I believe in him?” Ouch.

A few highlights:

  • While interviewing several members of a church in Copenhagen, McLain makes the mistake of assuming that, given their faith, they must be homophobes like he is. After he laments the fact that the oppressive government made Denmark’s churches perform same-sex marriages, the Reverend had to awkwardly tell him that neither he nor anyone else at the church had a problem with gay people. McLain’s pained expression is priceless.
  • He runs into a man on the street who (finally!) says he believes in God. Excited, McLain asks if he is a Christian. The man tells him, no, a Muslim. McLain: “A Muslim!”
  • An excruciating discussion with a humanist over coffee ends with the humanist telling McLain, “In short, I have no need of a god. To put it bluntly.” McLain stares off into space, his mind melting.

Something else I noticed from the excerpted highlights I watched – the guy seems not to grasp, or at least let himself be at all affected by, the fact that he is in other people’s country speaking a foreign language. He makes no effort whatever to talk clearly out of consideration to these polite hospitable people who are kindly speaking his language in their country. He mumbles and slurs and gabbles just as casually as if he were at home in his suburb of Atlanta talking to the wife & kids. It’s rude. It’s rude and unthinking and provincial. That kind of thing always makes me cringe when I’m in a non-English speaking place, the way Americans expect everyone to adapt to them.

While the show is shot with the Georgian pastor as the focus, if we inverse the perspective things get quite a bit sadder. It’s impossible to tell just what these secular people make of the shellshocked American staggering around their country, unable to cope with the idea that they don’t believe in Adam and Eve. It must look to some like a time traveler from an ancient era, confused by the progress we’ve made. We can only hope that they are generous with their assumptions. It would be embarrassing to think that they consider this guy a representative of all Americans, because between the “homosexuality is a sin!” and “There’s no proof of evolution, you weren’t there!” all I can say is, “Wow.”

I know. He’s embarrassing. So complacent, so confident, so ill-informed.

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



Plants and their pollinators

Nov 9th, 2014 4:47 pm | By

Here’s a scary thing. The temperature rise due to climate change is making bees start flying earlier in the spring, before flowers have bloomed, and that makes pollination less likely. Guess what pollination is necessary for – food production. Hello famine. (There’s also the horror of shrinking snow pack in the Himalayas, which will cut the water flow to the massive rivers in Asia that originate in that snow pack.) This story is just one particular bee and one plant – the miner bee and the early spider orchid – but if the pattern applies elsewhere, well – that’s ominous.

“We have shown that plants and their pollinators show different responses to climate change and that warming will widen the timeline between bees and flowers emerging,” said Dr Karen Robbirt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the University of East Anglia (UEA). “If replicated in less specific systems, this could have severe implications for crop productivity.”

And if crop productivity goes down, we’re all in deep shit.

Scientists have already identified a few timing mismatches caused by global warming between species and their prey. Oak tree buds are eaten by winter moths, whose caterpillars are in turn fed by great tits to their chicks, but the synchronicity of all these events has been disrupted.

Suspected mismatches have occurred between sea birds and fish, such as puffins and herring and guillemots and sand eels. The red admiral butterfly and the stinging nettle, one of its host plants, are also getting out of sync.

Not good.

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