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.

If something has happened that you don’t have words for

Mar 31st, 2014 4:23 pm | By

The NY Times has a brief interview with Barbara Ehrenreich (who will be at WiS3 in a few weeks ohboy).

She had some mystical-type experiences when she was a teenager, although she didn’t conclude they were from god or anything. She’s written a memoir about it.

You’ve written and spoken extensively about your atheism. Did you ever feel you were being deceitful because you’d had these experiences with a world beyond the rational? 

I realized that whatever I experienced was not anything like a deity that I knew of. It certainly was not a good, caring God of Christianity. On the other hand, I knew it was way out of the reach of science, and I did feel uneasy. My younger sister was distressed that I wrote a book with “God” in the title. We are hard-line atheists, and I had to re-establish my credibility with her or I’d get booted out of the family.

How did you earn back your bona fides?

I told my sister how much I was annoyed by a friend of hers. She’s very New Agey. Damn that stuff. I can’t be around it. If something has happened that you don’t have words for, keep thinking.

Great line. A variation on Wittgenstein’s line, I suppose, but I like hers better – it’s less fatalist. Not we must be silent, but keep thinking.

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

News from Bartlesville

Mar 31st, 2014 3:30 pm | By

St. John Health System issued a statement this afternoon. The Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise reports:

Contrary to reports last week that contraceptives could only be prescribed for medical reasons, the statement released Monday appears to indicate that physicians employed by SJHS and practicing at Jane Phillips Medical Center can prescribe contraceptives to be used as birth control, leaving the decision to individual physicians.

“Appears to” is right – it’s very muddy. Very Cover Your Ass; very waffling; very You Can Have Both.

The unsigned document states in full:

“Consistent with Catholic health care organizations, St. John Health System operates in accordance with the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, and therefore does not approve or support contraceptive practices. However, only physicians (not institutions) are licensed to practice medicine and make medical judgments. While our physicians agree to abide by the Directives, they also have the ability to prescribe medications, including hormonal medications, in accordance with their independent professional medical judgment. This includes informing patients when they are operating under their own professional medical judgment and not on behalf of St. John Health System.”


Our physicians agree to abide by the Directives, and they also have the ability to prescribe medications, including hormonal medications, in accordance with their independent professional medical judgment. The ones that are contrary (in the official view) to the Directives. So what does that even mean? If the doctors agree to abide by the Directives and then don’t abide by them, what happens? Is that a firing offense?

Also – fuck the fucking Directives. Again: clerics should not be issuing religious “Directives” to health care institutions. Period. Health care should be secular. Period.

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

If Hobby Lobby can do business with China

Mar 31st, 2014 12:51 pm | By

That News Corpse article provides interesting information.

Hobby Lobby pays millions of dollars to stock their shelves with cheap products made in China, a country where abortion is legal and is even provided by the government for free – when they aren’t forcing it on women who want their babies. It is impossible to accept that the company is unconditionally opposed to a voluntary form of preventive health care that obviates the need for an abortion, while supporting a system that encourages abortion outright. If Hobby Lobby can do business with China when the profit motive compels them to, they cannot simultaneously pretend that an American woman having access to an insurance policy that includes coverage for contraception is some sort of abomination against their Lord.

So now I’m wondering how many Tea Partiers and Focus on the Familyers and bishops and other such meddlers have closets and cabinets and garages bulging with shirts and toys and running shoes made in China. My guess? Most of them.

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

Christian values

Mar 31st, 2014 12:17 pm | By

Ah yes. Ain’t hypocrisy grand.

Update: the source at News Corpse.

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

Under the guise of protecting religious freedom

Mar 31st, 2014 11:58 am | By

The Tennessee ACLU reported that the state dodged a different religious bigotry-enabling bullet last month.

NASHVILLE – A bill that would have made Tennessee the first state in the nation to codify into state law the use of religion to discriminate will not be considered during this year’s legislative session.

The bill was put into General Subcommittee, effectively ending the journey of SB 2566 for this legislative session.

Under the guise of protecting religious freedom, SB 2566 would have allowed individuals, businesses and organizations to use religion to discriminate against LGBT and other unmarried couples by refusing to provide them goods or services.

Religion is really covering itself with glory these days.


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

To prevent students from being silenced

Mar 31st, 2014 11:32 am | By

In Tennessee…another one of those “Protect Religious Rights to Talk Shit About People God Hates” laws is on the governor’s desk.

Tennesee’s Religious Viewpoints Antidiscrimination Act, or SB1793/HB 1547, purports to prevent students from being silenced when expressing their religious beliefs in the classroom, when turning in written assignments, and at official school functions, including graduation and mandatory assemblies. In addition to specifying “that a student may express beliefs about religion in homework, artwork, and other written assignments free from discrimination based on the religious content of their submissions,” the bill also requires that students will “not be penalized or rewarded on account of the religious content of the student’s work.” Further, the bill appears to establish special speaking engagements for students to share their religious beliefs at official school functions — and even over the school’s announcement system.

Opponents of the legislation say it’s the latest attempt to establish a so-called license to discriminate, this time doing so in public, state-funded schools. They say that in addition to being unnecessary, as the U.S. Constitution includes strong protections for religious liberty, in practice the law would be exploited by those wanting to impose their religious beliefs about such matters as LGBT rights, evolution, contraception, and even racial and religious diversity, on other students who don’t share those perspectives.

They should just make the law broader, and then it will be fine. The bill should be written prevent students from being silenced when expressing any unreasonable baseless evidence-free beliefs in the classroom, in homework, at assemblies. It should be a charter for students’ rights to believe any old shit, and not just believe it, but get good grades for saying it in homework and on exams. It should just forbid any pesky secular reason-based attempt to teach students concepts and theories and knowledge based on evidence and argument as opposed to speculation and arbitrary beliefs.

As David Badash at The New Civil Rights Movement points out, the bill likely violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution, commonly recognized as mandating the separation of church and state. But Badash also notes that if the bill became law:

“An evangelical student, for example, could preach the gospel during a science class, or ‘witness’ during English. Attacks on LGBT people and same-sex marriage are automatically protected under this bill, offering anti-gay students a state-sponsored license to bully. And of course, a student could claim they worship Satan and subject their classmates to that ‘religious viewpoint’ as well.”

Let a thousand flowers bloom.




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

Please can you explain?

Mar 31st, 2014 11:11 am | By

The Lawyers’ Secular Society has an open letter to the Law Society.

Dear Sir,

Law Society’s practice note on “Sharia succession rules”

This is an open letter which we have published on our website this morning.

We refer to the above practice note dated 13 March 2014.


Please can you explain why and how the Law Society has adopted guidance to assist in drafting wills which treat women far worse than men, and non-Muslims far worse than Muslims? How is this consistent with the Law Society’s claimed commitments to equality?

For your information, you may be interested to know:

  1. We have launched an online petition calling for withdrawal of this practice note (approaching 2,000 signatures at the time of writing)
  2. There is also an open letter calling for withdrawal of this practice note, signed by public figures and human rights campaigners from around the world
  3. There will be a protest against the Law Society’s decision to issue this practice note on Monday 28 April 2014, in London

Further details are here:

An emailed response (in addition to or in place of a postal one) would be appreciated.

Given the serious nature of the LSS’s concerns we expect to receive a substantive response to our questions at the earliest possible opportunity.

Yours faithfully

Charlie Klendjian
Secretary, Lawyers’ Secular Society

I predict the substantive response: Because there’s a demand for it.


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

Not one woman

Mar 30th, 2014 5:31 pm | By

Brigitte Amiri of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project was at the Supreme Court for the Hobby Lobby arguments and blogs about it for the ACLU.

…my heart fell as I watched the attorneys for the parties take their seats. There wasn’t a single woman. Not a single person of color. Although it was great that the government sent their top lawyer to defend the case, it was disheartening to see no women at counsel’s table for either party, especially because the case involves women’s access to contraception. How can that be in 2014?

How indeed. The case involves women’s access to contraception.

But then she cheered up.

Right out of the box, the female justices asked question after question that tested the limits of Hobby Lobby’s argument that religious liberty should trump the contraception rule. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor asked intelligent and pointed questions that demonstrated the fallacy of the companies’ arguments. They asked whether every employer that had a religious objection to any type of health care should get to pick and choose what to offer in health plans, despite the Affordable Care Act requirements. They also asked whether employers should be allowed to refuse to comply with anti-discrimination laws or minimum wage laws because of their religious beliefs.

It wasn’t just the women justices who “got it.” Kennedy asked the companies’ attorney about whether Hobby Lobby would be putting its employees in a “disadvantageous position,” and whether “religious beliefs just trump?”

The answer is no. They don’t trump. Everyone has the right to his or her religious beliefs, but those beliefs cannot be used to take away a benefit from someone else or to discriminate against others. That’s exactly what is at stake here. The contraception rule was designed to ensure women’s equality by eliminating the disparities in health care costs between men and women, and to ensure women have the ability to make decisions about whether and when to become parents, which in turns allow them to participate equally in society.

But the believers believe that god doesn’t want women to participate equally in society. They believe that god wants them not to. They believe that god shares their belief that women are altogether smaller and less capable beings, who are good at taking care of children but bad at everything else. For those reasons they want women to be imprisoned in their putative role as mothers (and later, if they have the bad manners not to die as soon as they stop having children, as grandmothers).

They might win.


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

Mehdi Hasan tells other people to stay classy

Mar 30th, 2014 4:17 pm | By

Mehdi Hasan has really gone into overdrive lately in his public jeering and sniping at people he dislikes – or maybe he’s always like this, I ignore him most of the time so I don’t know. Anyway he’s doing a lot of it. It’s very reactionary right-wing stuff, which for some reason finds a home in more or less left-wing outlets. Why is that? Why do people on the left persist in thinking that the most reactionary Muslims or even Islamists are the ones they should be giving a megaphone?


Mehdi Hasan @mehdirhasan

“Baroness Warsi, Faith Minister, Dismisses Richard Dawkins As A ‘Secular Fundamentalist”

(The quotation marks are a nice touch; he probably wrote that himself, since he’s an editor there. The quotation marks make it look more impersonal.)


He’s A ‘Secular Fundamentalist’
Baroness Warsi has denounced atheist academic Richard Dawkins as a “secular fundamentalist”, as she spoke about tackling Islamophobia. During a wide-ranging interview with the Huffington Post UK, the…


Mehdi Hasan @mehdirhasan

Guy who smears for a living is now screaming ‘smear’ at anyone who questions his credentials as a ‘Muslims’ or ‘extremism’ expert. Funny.

Baroness Warsi questioned Maajid Nawaz’s credentials. So he now retweets people calling her a ‘corrupt South Asian’. #stayclassy

Baroness Warsi: extremism policy shouldn’t be influenced by “ex-extremists” who “created problem in the first place”: …

Horrible man, yet the BBC and the Huffington Post UK and the New Statesman can’t get enough of him. Why? Why the attraction to religious bullies as long as they’re not of the local established religion? Why do they like him? Why do they talk so much to him and so comparatively little to Maryam? I will never understand this.

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

Imagine a world

Mar 30th, 2014 3:39 pm | By

Exactly. I keep thinking this. If being pro-life is your central goal, saving fetuses should be way way way down on your list of priorities. Or, in my view, not on it at all, but even (for the sake of argument) if you think it is a way to save lives, it should still be near the bottom of the list.

Photo: One of my favorite memes. Thank you, Setting women free from outdated societal standards. for creating so many great messages.</p>
<p>Pro-Choice Liberals

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

300 out of 26,000

Mar 30th, 2014 3:29 pm | By

Uh oh, Jimmy Carter is going to be in big trouble with the MRAs.

Sexual assaults, honour killings, prostitution, physical abuse – No matter where you look in our world, you will find women and girls being abused. It’s why the 39th President of the United States calls it THE biggest challenge of our times. Today, we hear from Jimmy Carter with his Call to Action and his new book in his only Canadian interview.

In the US military alone 26,000 sexual assaults took place and only about 300 actually resulted in anybody being punished. There’s an aversion to admit what goes on even in our most cherished institutions.

Well that’s because there were 25,700 false accusations of men by lying bitchez. Actually the 300 that resulted in conviction and sentence were probably mostly lies too. Right?

It’s a volatile east, west, north and south for many of the world’s women. Special crimes, special punishments and special hatreds are directed at so many women and girls.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter despairs of the mistreatment and abuse. He believes religion is often an excuse for discrimination against women.

Indeed it is; we see it every day. And the best part is, it’s such a powerful excuse – because few people like to piss off the believers, especially few people who depend on votes to keep their jobs.


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

She did not have enough money to travel north

Mar 30th, 2014 3:02 pm | By

So let’s check in with the ACLU on the subject of religious interference with access to birth control. There’s Texas for instance…

Yesterday a federal appeals court upheld a Texas law that has left large parts of the state without an abortion provider. Women who already are struggling to pay rent and put food on the table for their families must now travel hundreds of miles to obtain abortion care. For many, the obstacles will be too burdensome to overcome.

For example, one woman in the Rio Grande Valley who showed up to her appointment the day the law took effect was devastated to learn that she could not have an abortion in her area. She was happily married with several children, but she could not afford another. In tears, she said that she did not have enough money to travel north and had no choice but to carry the pregnancy to term.

Triumph! Victory! Score for the people who value the fetus more than the woman whose body is incubating it. So she has several children and can’t afford another, so what, she should be forced to have that another one. God wants it that way.

How did this happen?

Despite overwhelming opposition, lawmakers in Texas passed a bill that requires doctors who provide abortion to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. That doesn’t sound too bad, right? After all, we all are concerned about women’s health. But just a quick look below the surface reveals that the law has nothing to do with women’s health and everything to do with forcing women’s health centers to shut their doors.

You might start by asking who proposed this law. Was it a medical organization? Nope. A doctors’ groups? Nope. All of the major medical organizations, including the American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologistsand the Texas Hospitals Associationall opposed this law. Rather, this bill came from Americans United for Life (AUL), a group dedicated to making abortion if not illegal, then impossible to get. AUL has touted restrictions like these as great ways to shut down abortion providers.

And tellingly, this law only applies to doctors who provide abortion. It doesn’t apply to doctors who provide other types of outpatient procedures, even those that carry far greater risks than abortion. But the appeals court overlooked this evidence and overlooked evidence demonstrating the devastating effect this law has on Texas women.

Because that’s what they want. The devastating effect on women isn’t an unfortunate side effect, it’s the goal.

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

They can no longer prescribe contraceptives of any kind

Mar 30th, 2014 12:12 pm | By

Stephanie has a post about a town without contraception. I followed her link to get more details on the situation in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.

The Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise reports:

Some Bartlesville women are taking issue with a recent directive prohibiting doctors affiliated with Jane Phillips Medical Center from prescribing contraceptives, saying the decision is not only an affront to women but could have an economic impact by driving patients away from local doctors.

Confidential sources told the Examiner-Enterprise this week that a meeting was held Wednesday to inform local doctors of gynecology and obstetrics that they can no longer prescribe contraceptives of any kind — if they are to be used as birth control.

Stephanie fills in the missing background:

Bartlesville is a town of only about 35,000 people. They have one hospital, Jane Phillips Medical Center. That hospital is part of Ascension Health, a large Catholic health care consortium, and nearly all of the OB-GYNs in town need to maintain privileges there in order to do their jobs.

Ah, one of those situations – where the Catholic church gets a monopoly on health care and uses its monopoly to refuse to provide vital services to women. The Catholic church has a monopoly on health care in Bartlesville so it’s exploiting its monopoly power to prevent women from having sex without getting pregnant. The Catholic church is using its power to deny women access to birth control – as if it were 1880 instead of 2014.

Back to the Examiner-Enterprise:

When contacted Friday, JPMC officials referred the E-E to Cheena Pazzo, director of St. John Health System Community and Physician Relations.

Pazzo offered the following statement via email:

“Consistent with all Catholic health care organizations, St. John Health System operates in accordance with the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Facilities.”

The ones drawn up the the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. Why are we in the US allowing Catholic bishops to control a large chunk of our health care? They are bishops. Our health care is none of their business. And by “our” I mean all of us, including Catholics. If conservative Catholics want to do what the bishops tell them to do, more fool they, but they can go ahead – but that does not mean the bishops get to impose their religious “directives” on anyone whatsoever.

This should not be happening. It’s an outrage. It’s grotesque.



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

Keep your Arcadia

Mar 30th, 2014 11:26 am | By

It’s not just Phyllis Schlafly who talks ridiculous crap about the futility of a “war against Nature” and disseminates that crap via the latest communications technology. There is Noah, for instance, if David Plotz describes it accurately in Slate.

Like the last Noah’s Ark movie, this Noah tells a straightforward environmental parable. Expelled from Eden, mankind has gutted and burned creation, chopping down every tree, butchering every beast, and crowding itself into black, sooty cities. Alas for mankind, the heavenly think tank only has one idea for addressing the issue: start over, with a lot fewer of us—like, half a dozen, preferably vegetarians.

Aronofsky’s message to us moderns is clear: We, too, have corrupted our world, just as the antediluvian humans (save Noah) did theirs. But the director’s public policy chops are scarcely more nuanced than Yahweh’s. He ends up condemning progress of all kinds. The movie pits Noah and his family against all the other humans of the world, led by the king Tubal-Cain. Noah and his family are rural gatherers, living gently off the fruit of the land. Tubal-Cain, by contrast, is a machine-maker and warlord who has strip-mined and clear-cut forests to build his cities. The Noah family is constantly moving further and further away from these cities, off the grid, to be alone.

The fantasy of Arcadia. Dear dear life off the grid, being alone – with no electricity, no running water, no sewer system, no way of getting anywhere beyond walking distance; no books, no food you don’t grow or hunt or raise yourself, no clothes you don’t make yourself; no doctors, hospitals, dentists; no music you don’t make yourself; no radio, no tv, no movies; no coffee houses, no libraries, no bookshops, no farmers’ markets except tiny local ones with a few staple products; no schools, no universities, no museums, no strangers to talk to and learn about, no exploration. Certainly no Internet, so no conversations with people in India or Ireland or Australia or Germany or Argentina.

In its nostalgic, unsophisticated view of the world and our place in it, Noahcollaborates in the fantasy of certain parts of the environmental movement, which believe that Earth would be healed if there were fewer of us, living further apart from each other.  Yet Aronofsky has it upside down. Cities are ecologically kinder than other forms of human habitation. They foster communities and human connections, they enable the advancement of science and the creation of great art. Cities reduce population growth, raise living standards, increase life expectancy, and enhance human freedom. (See this for a great summary of why.)

A world of glowering, friendless farmers living miles and miles from one another? That may work well for a while.

It wouldn’t even work for a while if everyone did it. If everyone did it it wouldn’t work for half an hour.

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

Some student senators said they were concerned

Mar 30th, 2014 10:57 am | By

I can still be surprised. I’m surprised by the student senate at the University of Alabama. Last week it voted to kill a resolution supporting racial integration of fraternities and sororities there.

The resolution cited damage to the reputation of the university, in Tuscaloosa, after it was revealed last year that all-white sororities were denying membership to black women based solely on race.

I did not know that.

Some student senators said they were concerned the language in the integration resolution would lead to an affirmative action-like Greek system. Some asked whether traditionally black or Latino fraternities would be required to admit white students.

Others talked about political correctness gone mad, others said there goes the neighborhood, others asked if you would want your daughter to marry one, others said freedom of choice is what makes this country great, and so the sun sets on another day in exotic Tuscaloosa.

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

Begins today

Mar 29th, 2014 3:24 pm | By


Via Global Secular Humanist Movement on Facebook.

Photo: Global Secular Humanist Movement


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

Secularist of the Year

Mar 29th, 2014 2:44 pm | By

The Secularist of the Year prize was awarded today, to Turkish MP and human rights campaigner Safak Pavey.

Safak Pavey is a member of Turkey’s main opposition party and sits for the Istanbul constituency. She is known for her international work in human rights, the promotion of the rights of women and minorities in Turkey, as well as humanitarian aid and peace-building.

She was also the first disabled woman elected to the Turkish parliament and, in 2012, was awarded a Woman of Courage Award by the White House for her efforts to raise awareness of the plight of those with disabilities in countries where resources are limited.

Safak has spoken out about the need for secularism and the better protection of the rights of women in Turkey, a country where the Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has said that he does not think men and women are equal. Freedom of expression is deeply threatened in Turkey, with the banning of youtube and twitter in the midst of a corruption scandal involving high government officials, and where infamously last year, Turkish pianist and composer Fazil Say was handed a suspended 10-month prison sentence for “insulting Islam”. Turkey ranks 154th among 180 countries on the World Press Freedom Index.

Congratulations to Safak Pavey. I’m glad to learn of her.

You know who else got an award?

Also honoured at the award ceremony were two nominees, Chris Moos and Abishek Phadnis, both students from the London School of Economics who have, in the past year, challenged their own university and Universities UK over important and fundamental issues such as free speech and gender segregation.

Yes they have.


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

Sayeeda Warsi disappoints Mehdi Hasan

Mar 29th, 2014 12:10 pm | By

Mehdi Hasan interviews Sayeeda Warsi for the Huffington Post.

Given her work on Islamic finance issues, does she see herself as a Muslim minister, an advocate on behalf of Muslims within the government? “I am a British minister in the British cabinet who happens to be of the Muslim faith. I am not elected, as I keep being reminded by many right-wing blogs. I therefore don’t represent a constituency and I certainly don’t represent the British Muslim community.”

But she goes to chat with the pope as a Muslim – not someone who “happens to be of the Muslim faith” – and agree with him in opposing and hating secularism. Her religion is not a peripheral part of her job. She’s made it central herself.

Irrespective of her religion, she adds, “I hope I am a politician who understands the needs and concerns of British Muslim communities.. I grew up when, actually, no one cared about somebody’s religion; race was the issue that defined you.” But now, she says, “religion is the new race”.

And that is the problem. Race doesn’t come with putative orders from god on how subordinate women have to be. Religion does.

Within nine months of entering government, in January 2011, Warsi delivered a headline-grabbing speech in which she controversially claimed that Islamophobia had “passed the dinner-table test” and become socially acceptable in the UK.

She tells me now that she would have preferred that speech “to have been made by one of my colleagues”. Well, why wasn’t it? “I came into government when there was no acknowledgment that Islamophobia existed, no acknowledgment that we should do anything about it, no statistical evidence that it was out there.”

And now? “Now, we have Acpo [Association of Chief Police Officers] who are disaggregating religious hate crimes so we have a much clearer picture.. we co-funded a project called TellMama, which monitors anti-Muslim attacks.. we’re ensuring that this issue is brought into the training of officials.”

Wait: anti-Muslim attacks are one thing and “Islamophobia” is another. Both Warsi and Hasan are, of course, treating them as the same thing.

Then Hasan gets her to join him in bashing Maajid Nawaz.

I mention Maajid Nawaz, the former member radical Islamist group, Hizb-ut-Tahrir, who now runs the controversial counter-extremism thinktank, the Quilliam Foundation, and is said to have helped draft the prime minister’s speeches on extremism.

Should people such as Nawaz – who have been criticized by fellow Muslims for lacking grassroots support – have such influence on government policy? “It would be a worrying sign if government policies on extremism were informed by ex-extremists rather than those who’d never been extremists,” she responds. “Let’s not reward those who who created the problem in the first place.”


I think what Mehdi Hasan really dislikes about Maajid is that Maajid is now a good deal more liberal than he is. That’s why he loves to try to push him to the margins by saying things like “who have been criticized by fellow Muslims for lacking grassroots support.”

So is Nawaz – who is now a Lib Dem parliamentary candidate – the right man to be offering advice to the PM on extremism? “For me what matters is, if you are advising the government, you have to be connected to the community that you try and talk about, you gave to be respected by the community that you are talking of and I think you have to be credible within that community.” Given the Quilliam boss meets none of these criteria, is she saying Cameron should no longer listen to what he has to say? “I’m not going to comment on individuals,” is all the peer will say, proving she can be diplomatic when she wants to.

Aw. Sad for Mehdi Hasan. He so wanted her to agree with him that “the Quilliam boss” is totes outside “the community” but she wouldn’t do it.

What a transparent venomous fuck he is.

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

Actively involved in opposition

Mar 29th, 2014 11:27 am | By

Shit just got real at Queen’s University.

Police are investigating after a man allegedly beat up a Queen’s University student who says she received threats for her support of feminist activities on campus.

Police say they haven’t dismissed the possibility the attack was a hate crime.

Danielle d’Entremont said the attack occurred late Wednesday night as she was leaving her home. In a Facebook post, she said the suspect punched her in the face repeatedly, breaking one of her teeth.

Ok but there could be some other explanation. Maybe the guy was just in a bad mood and she was the first person he saw. That can happen.

Police haven’t said whether the fourth-year student’s campus politics are linked to the attack, but she wrote that her attacker was a man and knew her name.

Well if he knew her name, that takes care of the first person he saw theory. But hey, she could totally be lying. Maybe she punched her own self in the face.

The Queen’s Journal reported d’Entremont was “actively involved in opposition” to an event hosted by the Men’s Issues Awareness Society (MIAS) Thursday night.

The student-run club organized a talk by Janice Fiamengo, an English professor at the University of Ottawa and a former-feminist-turned-men’s-rights activist.

There was opposition; there was a motion to de-ratify the Men’s Issues Awareness Society; the motion was dismissed.

On Thursday, MIAS president Mohammed Albaghdadi wrote on the event page: “We would like to state that the MIAS condemns the recent attack on a Queen’s student, and violence in general. There have been various comments associating MIAS with this attack. Please know that these claims are unfounded and untrue. Our sincerest thoughts go out to the student who was attacked.”

How does he know that? How can he know that? I don’t know that the claims are true; how can he know that they are untrue?

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

The food is running out

Mar 28th, 2014 6:15 pm | By

Four daughters of the Saudi king say he is keeping them prisoner, and has been for more than a decade.

Princesses Sahar and Jawaher are the daughters of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. They say they have been held in the royal compound in Jeddah for the last 13 years, and their sisters Maha and Hala are also being held in separate villas. They claim they are not allowed to travel or leave their home.

Princesses Sahar and Jawaher claim they have little communication outside of their gates – “no-one is allowed in or out.” They say the internet is their only window onto the world. Via Skype, they tell Channel 4 News they are “cut off, isolated… and alone” and that “our father, the king, is responsible.”

Their mother Alanoud Al Fayez, who is divorced from the king, first went public with their story two weeks ago, giving her first broadcast interview to Channel 4 News. Since that interview was broadcast, the princesses say restrictions on them have been tightened and they are no longer even allowed to make trips with armed guards for food, as they were previously.

They say food is now becoming scarce in their home, that they are desperate for the world to listen to their story and for someone to help.

The Saudi ambassador in London has responded to the interview…by saying “this is a private matter”.

In countries that aren’t savage theocracies, it’s against the law to imprison people. It’s not a “private matter” at all. But Saudi Arabia is a savage theocracy, so maybe there it is a private affair.

Evil bastards.

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