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.

Making a stand

Oct 3rd, 2014 5:26 pm | By

Sarah Khan, director of Inspire, has a short outraged public post on Facebook.

I’m ‪#‎makingastand‬. I will not be celebrating Eid in remembrance of Alan Henning. There is nothing to celebrate. My faith has been hijacked by extremists. Wake up Muslims. Before more innocent people are murdered in the “name of our religion.” Reclaim our faith back from these monsters.

Sad, and right, and inspiring.

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

Sure, and North Korea’s the best at ending famine

Oct 3rd, 2014 5:08 pm | By

At Patheos – on the Catholic Channel – there’s a blog called Headlines from the Catholic World. On that blog there’s a post with the teasing title “Catholic Church the only body ‘effectively acting to eradicate pedophilia’.” There really is; I’m not making it up.

A former Vatican spokesman has written, against the backdrop of the house arrest of a former nuncio being investigated for abuse of minors, that the Church is the only international body acting effectively against pedophilia.

In an op-ed published in the Italian daily “La Repubblica” Sept. 25, Joaquin Navarro-Valls commented on the house arrest in Vatican City of Jozef Wesolowski, the former apostolic nuncio to the Dominican Republic who was laicized earlier this year. He faces criminal charges under Vatican City’s civil laws.

The house arrest of Wesolowski “is a very important penal action,” stressed Navarro-Valls, who was head of the Holy See press office from 1984-2006.


The Vatican (or the church) arrests one guy, and that makes it the only international body acting effectively against pedophilia? Why would that be the case? Other bodies arrest child-rapists. Does the Vatican get lashings of extra credit because it’s arrested so few (like, zero) in the past?

Navarro-Valls emphasized that “the Holy See was legally fit and morally ready” to handle such an “extreme and shameful crime” thanks to a “legal rigor the Church has been maintaining against pedophilia for 20 years, ever since abuses first came to light.”

No. No it hasn’t. It hasn’t been doing that. It’s been protecting the rapists and sending them from parish to parish, instead of doing that.

Anything to feel better, eh?

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

Taking medical supplies to a hospital in northwest Syria

Oct 3rd, 2014 4:08 pm | By

The bastards have killed Alan Henning.

Henning, a 47-year-old taxi driver from Salford in northern England, was part of an aid convoy taking medical supplies to a hospital in northwest Syria in December last year when it was stopped by gunmen and he was abducted.

Muslim groups across Britain, including some organizations that are highly critical of British foreign policy and blame Western interference for fanning the recent crisis in Iraq and Syria, had called in vain for his release.

His wife Barbara had called him a “a peaceful, selfless man” and appealed to Islamic State to release him.

But the murderers of Islamic State don’t release people, they butcher them.

Shuja Shafi, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, the UK’s largest Islamic umbrella group, called the purported beheading of Henning “a despicable and offensive act.”

“It is quite clear that the murderers of Alan Henning have no regard for Islam, or for the Muslims around the world who pleaded for his life,” Shafi said.

It is quite clear that they have no regard for human rights, or fair treatment, or humanitarian work, or hospitals or medical supplies or the people who need them. It is quite clear that they have no regard for anything good.

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

The global community of human beings

Oct 3rd, 2014 11:42 am | By

Gina Khan and Maajid Nawaz flagged up this post by Amjad Khan at Left Foot Forward on Facebook. (The post is at LFF, the flagging up was at FB. God language is hard to do.) It argues that it’s not good enough for Muslims to say that groups like ISIS or al-Qaeda don’t represent them.

The first reason is that it doesn’t stop them. Most Nigerians hate Boko Haram, but Boko Haram doesn’t give a shit, and goes right on murdering and enslaving people.

The second point to be made is that statements such ‘they don’t represent me’ are only useful if they are a precursor to a sustained effort to challenge and undermine jihadism. In my experience, this is rarely the case, in fact, the opposite tends to be true.

Such statements tend to be another way of saying ‘this is none of my business because I don’t agree with them’. By merely declaring jihadists not representative of Muslims at large, many Muslims are in fact refusing to take ownership of the problem and merely performing a PR exercise.

I think that’s true but I also sympathize with Muslims who think they shouldn’t have to keep saying ‘they don’t represent me’. I’m ambivalent, as so often. It’s not my fault or my doing that there are some feminists who think there’s such a thing as “women’s way of knowing” and I shouldn’t have to keep saying that’s not my feminism. But then, reality is what it is, and sometimes we have to do things we shouldn’t have to do.

Muslims either go into conspiratorial mode or convince themselves that it is not their problem when faced with jihadi excesses.

And yet the very same people will then say they are concerned about Islamophobia and the Palestinian cause because it affects fellow Muslims and that they have concerns about the global Muslim community.

How can one be concerned about the global Muslim community and not want to tackle jihadism which, in the grand scheme of things, has killed far more Muslims tha[n] anyone else?

Rather than offering such shallow condemnations, we as Muslims need to stop being solely concerned with the image of Islam and Muslims and recognise that challenging jihadists and associated extremists proactively will do more to rehabilitate the image of Islam than shallow ‘not in my name’ statements.

Well that’s a point. Difference feminists haven’t been engaging in campaigns of mass murder, nor have they been stoning women to death, nor have they been sentencing and executing “adulterous” couples, nor have they been enslaving Nigerian schoolgirls by the hundreds. If they had been, I would be pretty damn motivated to do everything I could to oppose and stop them. I do believe in globalism and universalism, so I do think that murders in Afghanistan or Somalia matter every bit as much as murders in Canada or Scotland. Never mind the global Muslim community or the global feminist community; just join hands to defend the global community of human beings, vulnerable before armed gangs of zealots.

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

Let them take a limo

Oct 3rd, 2014 10:30 am | By

Another big win for the Texas Taliban and another big loss for women of childbearing age in Texas.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Thursday allowed Texas to begin enforcing tough new abortion restrictions that will effectively close all but eight abortion facilities in the nation’s second-largest state. Unless the Supreme Court steps in, the law is poised to have the most devastating impact on abortion access of any such restriction across the country.

Under the law’s force, which will close 13 clinics, one out of six Texan women seeking an abortion will now live more than 150 miles from the nearest clinic.

Texas is an enormous state. It’s bigger than a lot of countries. It also has a large population, unlike big-in-size states like Wyoming and Montana. Eight places to get an abortion is nowhere near enough for such a colossus. 21 isn’t enough, and 8 is pathetic.

A lower court judge had previously ruled on August 28 that the law was unconstitutional, because it “would operate for a significant number of women in Texas just as drastically as a complete ban on abortion.” But in Thursday’s ruling, the three-judge panel in New Orleans said the law would not impose an “undue burden,” staying the district court decision as the state appeals.

Not undue, huh. Having to travel more than 150 miles is not an undue burden for, say, a woman in a low-wage job who can’t afford a car? Please.

George W. Bush appointee Judge Jennifer Elrod, writing for the Fifth Circuit, wrote that the district court judge had overreached because “in our circuit, we do not balance the wisdom or effectiveness of a law against the burdens the law imposes.” She conceded, “We do not doubt that women in poverty face greater difficulties.” But Elrod argued the court was required to find that a “large fraction” of women would be affected by the law, even as she noted that the number of affected women in rural Texas was 900,000.

Well but you see Texas has over 25 million people, so even though almost a million is a lot of women, it’s not a Big fraction. Sucks to be you, poor women in Texas.

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

Count the knees

Oct 3rd, 2014 9:58 am | By

Sarah Posner raises an interesting question – is it ok for Tim Tebow to pray on one knee after scoring a touchdown, but not ok for Husain Abdullah to pray on two knees in the same situation?

Kansas City Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah was penalized last night for praying in the end zone after returning an interception for a touchdown. Tim Tebow has similarly prayed — although, apparently, the two prayers aren’t “similar:” one is Christian, and one is Muslim.

The Kansas City Star reports Abdullah is a “devout Muslim” who promised himself that if he scored a touchdown, “I’m going to prostrate before God in the end zone.” Last night, he was penalized for apparently violating Rule 12, Section 3, Article 1 (d) of the NFL rulebook (“players are prohibited from engaging in any celebrations or demonstrations while on the ground.”)

The league has made exceptions, the Star reports, “for religious expressions, such as Tim Tebow’s prayer while kneeling. But Abdullah may have broken the rule by sliding with both knees into the prayer.”

Ok well the answer to that question would have to be no. Either neither is ok, or both are ok. The number of knees in contact with the ground can’t be the criterion, because it’s not much of a criterion – it looks a tad bit too much tailored for the occasion – as in, “Oh, oops, Tim Tebow was allowed to get away with it, so maybe we shouldn’t have penalized this Husain guy for doing pretty much the same thing. Oh dear. Oh, I know – he had two knees on the ground! Whew!”

But should they do it? No. I think they should knock it off. It’s missionary work, and I think people shouldn’t exploit audiences to do that. It’s obnoxious and rude.


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

A loosely organized collective that wants to bully women

Oct 2nd, 2014 6:16 pm | By

Amanda Marcotte (I belatedly see) has also written about Intel’s move to obey the anti-social justice campaigners and punish Gamasutra.

[A]ny lingering hope that GamerGate is about bringing integrity back to journalism were dashed this week, when GamerGate participants convinced Intel to pull its advertising from the gaming website Gamasutra in order to punish Gamasutra for publishing on opinion they don’t like, a piece criticizing GamerGate for making gamers look like misogynist idiots.

The purported concern of GamerGate is to end gaming journalism’s “increasing corruption by money and hype,” as Auerbach explained. If that’s true, it’s awfully fishy that GamerGate’s first major victory is to threaten journalists with lost revenue for writing about their honestly held views. That the journalist in question, Leigh Alexander, happens also to be yet another young, outspoken woman suggests yet again that GamerGate never was and never will be about corruption in journalism, but is simply a loosely organized collective that wants to bully women out of the gaming world.

#Not all women! Not women who hate feminism and feminists. They can stay…as long as they follow instructions.

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

The bullies spoke and Intel listened

Oct 2nd, 2014 5:36 pm | By

UH OH – some people think it would be a good idea to have better gender representation in video games, on account of how the human species isn’t actually 90% male, and we all know what a crazy and destructive thought that is to think. Here’s a bit of news from that battlefront:

Intel has pulled an advertising campaign from video gaming website Gamasutra after it reportedly received a number of complaints from self-identified gamers upset that the site was championing fair gender representation in video games. The decision by the world’s largest chipmaker to remove its advertising from the site comes as a result of a coordinated campaign called Operation Disrespectful Nod, apparently orchestrated by supporters of the #GamerGate hashtag, who rail against so-called “social justice warrior” writers, journalists, and developers.

Right, because what could be more gut-wrenchingly horrible than social justice? Thank god there are people who organize campaigns against it, and corporations that bow to pressure from such campaigns. Down with social justice! Up with keeping things as they are, or maybe making them even worse!

Organizers of the campaign exhorted people to contact companies that advertise on video game-focused websites such as Gamasutra and Kotaku in order to complain about five specific articles that suggested the concept of the “gamer” as an identity was fading away. In this case, their efforts were successful. “Intel has pulled its advertising from website Gamasutra,” an Intel spokesperson said to Recode. “We take feedback from our customers very seriously especially as it relates to contextually relevant content and placements.”

So they need to get more feedback, this time from people who don’t hate social justice with the heat of a thousand suns.

Operation Disrespectful Nod was born from the #GamerGate hashtag. Sincere users of the hashtag, as Vox explains, are ostensibly concerned with two main topics — the treatment of women in gaming, and the ethics of games journalism — but its supporters have been linked to campaigns of harassment against prominent women in the industry.

The hashtag was reportedly first used by actor Adam Baldwin when he made reference on Twitter to independent game developer Zoe Quinn. Quinn, the subject of a lengthy diatribe written by an ex-boyfriend, was the target of a harassment campaign after being accused of using sexual relationships with the press to secure coverage for her video games. #GamerGate supporters also attacked feminist critic Anita Sarkeesian, whose Tropes vs. Women in Video Games series attempts to call out and question sexist stereotypes in games. Sarkeesian and her family became the targets of a volley of personal attacks that resulted in her being driven from her home after receiving threats of sexual violence from a Twitter user who knew her actual address.

While many #GamerGate supporters have attempted to distance themselves from such harassment, the movement’s methods, leaders, and ethics are still questionable. Weeks after she was pilloried for her private relationships, Quinn revealed she had been idling in IRC chatrooms run by the orchestrators of the campaign against her. In a series of Twitter posts, she showed how a small group of 4chan users boasted about engineered the #GamerGate hashtag in order to target and attack those it saw as “social justice warriors.”

Such a noble cause, pissing on the very idea of social justice. #proud

The movement has maintained in part because it’s grown wider than gaming. Adam Baldwin continues to tweet on the topic not because he’s a gamer, but because he’s an outspoken conservative figure, vociferously opposed to the left-wing ideals the imagined cadre of “social justice warriors” uphold. Even Washington think tanks have weighed in on the side of #GamerGate supporters. The American Enterprise Institute, a high-profile right-wing group, issued a video in which host “the Factual Feminist” questioned whether games were sexist at all. Such interjections have extended the lifespan of the discussion, and the #GamerGate movement, even further.

And who is “the Factual Feminist”? Christina Hoff Sommers, of course, Richard Dawkins’s new best friend.

Intel says it was flooded with complaints about its Gamasutra ads, but it’s difficult to work out how pervasive support for #GamerGate is in the wider gamesplaying community — its supporters are amplified in the Twitter echo chamber and uncountable thanks to a prevalence of fake “sockpuppet” accounts that retweet messages of support.

Just like those other organized haters of social justice, the ones that target us “rage-bloggers” and “FTBullies.” Maybe they’re all the same three people, typing at the speed of sound.

The #GamerGate hashtag is inextricably linked to campaigns of harassment and its proponents have been demonstrably manipulated by a small number of people who want to hurt others for fun. Until now it has had no major successes, but by giving in to its demands and pulling its advertising from Gamasutra, Intel has legitimized a movement that has shown itself to be anti-feminist, violently protectionist, and totally unwilling to share what it sees as its divine right to video games.

It’s appalling.

Ernest Adams (who writes a column for Gamasutra) has a public Facebook post with his protest to Intel and the address where we can send ours.

I am gravely disappointed to learn that Intel has stopped advertising on the game developer Web site Gamasutra in response to pressure from gamers with an anti-diversity agenda. You should be aware that many game developers have been made the target of an orchestrated campaign of criminal harassment for their belief that video games should be for everyone, and Gamasutra also supports this view. Some developers have even been driven from their homes in fear for their safety.

By withdrawing your support for Gamasutra, you are sending a message to the game community that Intel, too, opposes diversity in games and is prepared to side with bigots and bullies.

Ernest W. Adams, Ph.D.
Game Designer and Founder, International Game Developers’ Association

If you would like to send a similar message, please do so here:

I borrowed some of his wording and combined it with some of mine and sent this:

I’m shocked to learn that Intel  has stopped advertising on the game developer Web site Gamasutra in response to pressure from gamers who don’t approve of efforts to make gaming more welcoming to women and minorities. Many game developers have been made the target of an orchestrated campaign of criminal harassment for their belief that video games should be for everyone. Some developers have even been driven from their homes in fear for their safety. Gamasutra shares the belief that video games should be for everyone. By withdrawing your support for Gamasutra, you are sending a message to the game community that Intel is prepared to side with bigots and bullies.

I urge you to drop Intel a line. Here’s that link again:




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

With a candy ass he keeps glued to National Public Radio

Oct 2nd, 2014 4:38 pm | By

Josh Slocum, executive director of the Funeral Consumers Alliance, wonders whether the funeral procession really needs to be treated as something untouchably sacred like football or pumpkin pie or monster-large cars.

Bill Mayeroff is a blogger at who wrote a post questioning the practice of funeral processions. It was picked up by the funeral-industry news aggregator site, All comments [sic].

“Let me guess, Bill Mayeroff is: 1. A baby boomer 2. A narcissist 3. An idiot.”

“I think this blogger should have this discussion face to face with the thousands of people who mourned and processed with any number of our fallen soldiers.”

“Although the article is so sophmoric that it doesnt earn the time of a reply, I feel I have to. It is all about respect of the dead. Something that the author probably knows very little about. He is an NPR listening, liberal, candy ass moron.”

“In today’s society, death rituals, etc. are often viewed as “inconvenient” to those involved. But, death should NOT be convenient – if it is, that person’s life didn’t mean much.”

So, commenters have established that Bill Mayeroff is a narcissistic, soldier-hating, un-patriotic baby boomer with a candy ass he keeps glued to National Public Radio in between ruining everyone’s Grief Work(TM). Except no, they haven’t. I too question the place of funeral processions. Many undertakers would say that’s because I’m an anti-funeral director outside agitator who hates sentiment and religion and wants to force families to bake-and-shake their loved ones. Or something.

Read the whole thing.



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

That’s a savior?

Oct 2nd, 2014 11:52 am | By

El Salvador is not a safe country for women. The secretary general of Amnesty International reports:

Beneath the surface of apparent peace in El Salvador, a hidden war is being waged. It is a war that does not involve guns or troops but one that has resulted in the imprisonment and unnecessary deaths and disability of thousands.

It is a war against women and girls that is documented in Amnesty International’s newreport, On the Brink of Death: Violence against Women and the Abortion Ban in El Salvador.

The report illustrates how a change in the law 16 years ago criminalized abortion in all circumstances, making it one of the strictest abortion laws in the world. Women and girls in El Salvador cannot have an abortion, even if continuing their pregnancy might kill them, or if the fetus is not viable and will not live. 
Even a nine-year-old girl pregnant after from rape cannot get an abortion.

Just to make sure no opportunity is missed, miscarriages are treated as suspected abortions.

Consider the story of Cristina. She was 18 years old when she miscarried. She passed out and was rushed to hospital where, instead of care and kindness, she was accused of actively terminating her pregnancy. In August 2005, she was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Men also are fighting this injustice. Dennis Muñoz, a lawyer who heard Cristina’s story, was so shocked he tracked her down to the prison where she was being held.

Together they fought a two-year legal battle to get her sentence reduced. They won her release, but not before she had spent four years in prison. Muñoz describes the country’s abortion ban as a “witch hunt against poor women.”

(Unlike Dawkins and Shermer and Blackford, Muñoz is talking about something that really can be legitimately called a witch hunt.)

Amnesty International believes that El Salvador’s total ban on abortion is a form of torture. It pushes women and girls to the brink of death. The ban violates women’s and girls’ right to life by forcing them to seek unsafe abortions, putting their health and lives at risk. It also denies them their right to health, privacy and to non-discrimination.

It is a shame to see El Salvador so far behind the rest of the world in its legislation on abortion. It is one of seven Latin American countries with a ban on abortion in all cases.

The Vatican is happy though.


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

It’s a witch! It’s an angel! It’s superfly!

Oct 2nd, 2014 10:44 am | By

Richard Bartholomew debunks a photo of a purported “witch” used to fuel hysteria about witches.

Nigerian sceptic Leo Igwe has drawn attention to a Facebook post by a certain Pastor I.C. Ezeugwu, in which Ezeugwu describes an event he held in “a remote village in Edo State”:

I titled the crusade “Operation Kill the Witches”. This title was necessitated as a result of the activities of witches in that village which included destroying the destinies of young people.

I took a look at that Facebook post – it dates from August 2013, well over a year ago, yet people are commenting every few seconds to say…”Amen.” It’s rather frightening.


Bartholomew tracked down the image and found that it has nothing to do with “witches.”

Ezeugwu’s post is illustrated with a photo of what appears to be a dead human figure with wings; presumably, this is supposed “evidence” of the existence of witches:

Angel I.C. Ezeugwu

That’s not an image I have seen before, although apparently it’s been doing the rounds for a while; in May 2013, Pulse234 published it under the heading: “PHOTO: Witch Woman With Wings: Real or Fake?

It  in fact shows an art piece called Angel. It was created in 2008 by two Chinese artists, Sun Yuan and Peng Yu. The photo was taken while the model was on display at the Saatchi Gallery in London. It’s a “life size sculpture in fibre-reinforced polymer and silica gel”.

Human beings, making up bogus pretexts to murder other human beings. So helpful.

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

If you’re all sad in your pants

Oct 1st, 2014 5:29 pm | By

A new version of Tim Minchin’s Pope Song.

It ends with

But if you build your movement on intellectual authority
And believe it is to benefit others in society
Then you, you motherfucker, can expect some talking back
When people get assaulted and you never fucking act!

So fuck these motherfuckers, and fuck you motherfucker
If you call yourself a fucking skeptic
Then you cover for each slimey motherfucker who says something sexist
Fuck you, your apologetics really are pathetic

And if you look into your motherfucking heart and tell me true
If the good name of atheism is that important to you
With its problems with harassment, abuse, and also fucking RAPE
If you’re all sad in your pants then go ahead and write a blogpost

But if you find this song more offensive than the possibility
Of leaders protecting rapists and treating victims with hostility
Then listen to me, motherfucker, I don’t give a tinker’s dam
And fuck you Shermer, Dawkins, Harris, Randi,
And you can keep your fucking TAM!

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

Keep it on the downlow

Oct 1st, 2014 11:35 am | By

Dana has a post about my report that Dawkins asked me to tell people not to spread the “libellous allegation that Michael Shermer is a rapist or a sexual predator.”

Keep in mind, this was about a year after various unconnected sources came forward and said that Shermer had harassed and/or assaulted them. And he’s still busy covering Shermer’s ass.

Even after so many women have come forward under their own names, he still won’t admit there may be something to this. And the little hyperskeptic lickspittles he’s got crowded round his feet are happy to help out, demanding evidence well beyond what they’d require to denounce a homeopath.

I still puzzle about that. These are real people, not just examples in some article by Christina Hoff Sommers. They’re people he may have met himself on the atheist / skeptic circuit. It’s odd that he’s so willing to trash them for the sake of defending Shermer.

There are good comments on the post – like the one by A Hermit:

Dawkins asked me to dissuade people from spreading the “libellous allegation that Michael Shermer is a rapist or a sexual predator.”

Now that’s a pretty strong allegation you’re making yourself Richard; I mean libel is a serious legal no-no. If Shermer is really being libeled why didn’t he immediately go to the authorities, huh? I mean if he can prove he’s being libeled he should be suing everyone who’s libeling him or it’s not really libel amirite?

I bet he’s just playing the libel victim to get publicity for his new book or something…

And kellym’s:

It almost seems as if trying to protect Shermer is the main reason Dawkins issued the joint statement with Ophelia. Almost immediately after the statement was issued, Dawkins tweeted to imply that date rape wasn’t as bad as being raped by a stranger, and if you disagreed, “go away and learn how to think.” Those aren’t the words of someone trying to heal rifts that were directly exacerbated by his own words. But they are an emotional, poorly-reasoned argument that Michael Shermer isn’t a “real” rapist.

And I’m still confused as to what Dawkins was asking Ophelia to do. PZ posted the rape allegation about a year ago, so that couldn’t be undone. There were several women making accusations of predatory behavior against Shermer. Was Dawkins proposing that Ophelia contact each one to try to gain her silence? Was he hoping for a blog post that attacked their claims? I don’t understand what he was asking.

No, I don’t either, really. Maybe just spread the word, on the libelous allegers’ grapevine? I don’t know. I didn’t parse it very much because there was no chance I was going to do that. With several people telling similar stories…how could I do that?


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

Show the world

Oct 1st, 2014 10:51 am | By

What do you do when your stepmother throws acid in your face while you’re asleep? You go ahead and fulfill your ambition of being a fashion designer, and you get other survivors of acid attacks to join you in modeling the clothes. You show the world what it is to woman up.

Rupa suffered extensive injuries when her stepmother threw acid in her face while she was sleeping in 2008.

She was allegedly left without any medical aid for six hours before her uncle found her and transported her to hospital, where she underwent eleven operations and spent three months being cared for.

Her uncle had to borrow on the house they lived in to pay for her medical treatment, and Rupa said her injuries made it difficult to find work.

She dropped her surname to distance herself from her father for supporting her stepmother after the attack.

Wow. That’s some “father.”

After the attack, Rupa teamed up with the Stop Acid Attacks charity who run Chhaon, a support centre for survivors, and began designing clothes.

The charity is now looking to help Rupa raise enough money to open her own clothing boutique in Delhi, which would employ other acid attack survivors as staff.

Rupa said: “Chhaon has helped me feel confident again and believe in myself. I have always loved fashion and tailoring but I never thought I could start my own label. This is the first time I have presented my clothes and I am glad to see them being appreciated.”

The charity asked Mr Saharan to lead the photoshoot, who said the models define “beauty and courage” on his Facebook page. His gallery from the shoot has been shared over 2,000 times.

The album of the shoot is public.

H/t Sarah Moglia

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

Maybe it’s the mountain air

Oct 1st, 2014 9:44 am | By

The BBC has had a team living next to the University of Colorado at Boulder campus for a month.

The issue of sexual assaults at US colleges was raised repeatedly by students we met.

It is a national problem, with studies suggesting one in five women will be victims during their time at university.

And it is a serious problem at CU-Boulder too. The college is on the White House’s list of schools suspected of Title IX violations – that’s a law guaranteeing that women in federally-funded universities won’t face discrimination due to their gender.

More than 70 schools including CU-Boulder are accused of having improperly dealt with sexual assault cases, and are now the target of a federal investigation.

Cue Christina Hoff Sommers saying it’s all grossly exaggerated and besides boys like to squirm a lot in school so no fair.

While sexual assault is not a problem specific to fraternities, studies have shown that on college campuses, men who join a fraternity are three times more likely to rape than other men.

The White House launched a campaign last week called “It’s On Us”. The initiative is aimed at encouraging male students to intervene to stop abusive behaviour.

Yes but what about the sororities? What about the drunk women barging into the frat houses? Be fair!

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

Guest post: He called it “Ask First”

Oct 1st, 2014 9:13 am | By

Originally a comment by Hj Hornbeck on Salt.

I’m one of the lucky few who’ve heard Shermer talk about his system of morality in person.

He called it “Ask First:” before doing some action, ask the people effected what they think. It has a Rawlsian quality to it, but unlike the Veil it’s much easier to game. Jails and safe injection sites will never be built, because the surrounding populace will never agree to them. Ever heard of Hobo Fights, where assholes pay two homeless people to beat the crap out of one another? Permitted by “Ask First,” banned by the Veil. Thinking of cutting carbon emissions? Don’t ask the experts, do an opinion poll!

Shermer was peppered with similar corner cases during the Q&A, but he had a solution: “no moral system is perfect,” so we’d just switch to another one when problems arose! I think he even mentioned a “greater good” system as a candidate.

You know, the type of system which would give the same answers in the vast majority of cases, and which we could have gone with from the start. But no, he had to saw off the corners to suit his libertarian views, then hastily glue them back on, in an ad hoc manner, when those corners became critical.

I wasn’t impressed.

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


Oct 1st, 2014 7:30 am | By

So, there’s this. JREF promoting a talk on science and morality at TAM 2013 by that expert on morality Michael Shermer. Nine hours ago. A good many days after the publication of Mark Oppenheimer’s article, the one that quoted James Randi saying he was well aware of Shermer’s frolicsome ways with the laydeez and that if he got many more reports about them he would ask him to limit his attendance at TAM.

Randi Foundation @jref ·  9 hours ago
Science and Morality: Michael Shermer TAM 2013:

Hey, isn’t it about time for Roman Polanski to return to Hollywood?

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

How not to stage an intervention

Sep 30th, 2014 5:32 pm | By

Doubting Tom wrote a Dubito Ergo Sum post ten days ago, on Michael Nugent, Vice Principal of Atheism. (Good title. Nugent does carry on as if he’s somehow been appointed to scold some people into obedience while protecting others from unwelcome attention to their more appalling behaviors. Nugent hasn’t been appointed to do that.) This post, I was saying, is worth catching up with.

DT starts by summarizing Nugent’s previous work in this vein, then describes a pattern:

Nugent demonstrated a pattern of behavior that he has since escalated: butt in to an issue that doesn’t involve you, adopt the pretense of mature authority, treat the issue as an academic subject to be studied or hashed out in formal debate, and then move on to some other issue once it gets too real.

It’s odd about the non-involvement. (It’s also very annoying, but never mind that for now.) Nugent spends a lot of words scolding us Americans for the fact that Anglophone media keep talking about “the atheist movement” when really all they’re talking about is some Americans. There’s a global atheist movement, Nugent keeps solemnly telling us. True; so why is he so interested in this issue that’s just an American thing? It’s a puzzle.

There’s that email Nugent sent to PZ back in August – that presumptuous, obnoxious email.

He tried talking to PZ “privately” about the matter first, considering PZ a friend, and apparently seeing the need for an intervention about his destructive behavior. I can sympathize, somewhat. After all, I am all for people calling out their friends when their friends are hurting others. For that matter, I think that’s a situation where a private conversation may indeed be warranted before taking the issue public, a tactic often problematically proposed as a cure-all for disagreements. It’s not, and when it’s two people who don’t actually know each other very well, the insistence on private conversation first is mostly just a way of avoiding transparency and sweeping criticism under the carpet. But if it’s someone you’re close to? Sending them a personal note to say “hey, I think [specific thing you do] is hurting the people you care about, and I’m worried about you” would absolutely be a reasonable step in resolving the issue.

That’s not what Nugent did. Instead, he CC’d Richard Dawkins and Ophelia Benson on the e-mail. Again, I think Nugent thought he was trying to organize an intervention, but that’s really not how you go about it.

To put it mildly. To do that he would have had to ask Dawkins and ask me, before cc’ing us on his unsolicited email to someone else. He didn’t do that. He cc’d me without my permission or advance knowledge. I don’t know about Dawkins; I suspect a few of these guys have been planning a lot lately, so for all I know he did discuss it with Dawkins first. But he sure as hell did not discuss it with me, and I was disgusted by it. It looked to me like nothing but an attempt to embarrass PZ, and using me to do it. Not cool.

Then Tom moves on to Nugent’s little list of PZ’s putative naughtinesses. He looks up the ones I didn’t take the trouble to look up and they’re even more ridiculous as examples of naughtiness than I had realized.

I knew how ridiculous the Shermer one was though. That one jumps out at you.

he has publicly accused…Michael Shermer of multiple unreported serious crimes,

Accusations that have been validated by multiple sources. Nugent has said that he was not trying to tell PZ to keep sexual harassment accusations secret, but it’s hard to read this (and the letter, which is worded in nearly identical language) as anything but that. On Twitter, Nugent expanded, essentially saying that he thought this matter would have been better served by the police than hashed out online. We’ll ignore the continued ignorant paternalism in Nugent thinking he knows better how to handle rape than the victim, we’ll even ignore the numerousclearreasonswhy rape survivors don’t go to the police. Nugent’s living in a fantasy world of privilege-enabled ignorance where police officers are never racist or misogynist or themselves rapists, and where every rape kit gets tested and victims are never pressured into recanting or (even with clear evidence that rape occurred) treated like criminals themselves. But look at what we know, especially in light of the Buzzfeed piece: Shermer’s behavior and the accusations were known to atheist and skeptic leaders. DJ Grothe knew about them. James fucking Randi knew about them, tanking the remaining respect I had for that guy. What was their response? To continue inviting him to events, to take out extra insurance to protect themselves from his actions, and to give him a stern warning that if he does it too many more times, he might face some consequences of some sort, while punishing the people who speak out. The same thing played out with Ben Radford. Leaders in the community excuse and coddle accused rapists and harassers, and punish victims. Why should Shermer’s victim have expected anything different to happen if the police were the authorities involved rather than the event organizers?

We’ll never know how Nugent would respond to that, though, because either he’ll have already dropped the whole thing, or he’ll be too busy finding new trivia to scold us for in new 5000 word posts.

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

“Females” destroying all the fraternities

Sep 30th, 2014 12:03 pm | By

Fraternities, eh. They’re going to hell in a handbasket, and you know whose fault that is? Drunk women! That’s who! All these drunk women keep forcing their way into the place and they’re ruining everything. Erin Gloria Ryan at Jezebel has the story.

If you blinked at all, even for a second yesterday, you may have missed a doozy of a story that Forbes ran and very quickly deleted. Which is a shame, since the headline was “Drunk Female Guests Are the Gravest Threat to Fraternities,” and the only thing more hilariously evil than much of the piece that followed was the Satan-y byline photo that accompanied the piece.

Unfortunately, Bill Frezza isn’t a character made up by stoned Onion writers searching for the next Herbert Kornfeld. He is a very real man who many years ago graduated from MIT with a degree in theology and engineering and spends his time now being creepily involved with his old fraternity.

Theology and engineering…that’s a rather frightening combination.

Before feminist web vigilantes call for my defenestration, I single out female guests for one simple reason. Fraternity alumni boards, working with chapter officers, employ a variety of policies designed to guide and police member behavior. Our own risk management manual exceeds 22 pages. The number of rules and procedures that have to be followed to run a party nowadays would astound anyone over 40. We take the rules very seriously, so much so that brothers who flout these policies can, and will, be asked to move out. But we have very little control over women who walk in the door carrying enough pre-gaming booze in their bellies to render them unconscious before the night is through.

That’s so true! Men never can have any control over those bitchez who smuggle booze into the fraternities in their bellies. It’s all part of the plot.

Here are the things that worry me most. Any of them could result in organizational extinction, even if the fraternity never served the “victim” a single drop of alcohol:

Alcohol poisoning due to overconsumption before, during, or after an event. Death or grievous injury as a result of falling down the stairs or off a balcony. Death or grievous injury as a result of a pedestrian or traffic accident as the young lady weaves her way home. False accusation of rape months after the fact triggered by regrets over a drunken hook-up, or anger over a failed relationship. And false 911 calls accusing our members of gang rape during a party in progress. (Yes, this happened, resulting in seven police cars and thirty officers storming the chapter house.)

False accusations of rape more concerning than actual rape perpetuated by frat members on incapacitated women? Hey, I think I’ve heard this one before!

Yeah so have I. I wonder why Frezza forgot to say anything about outrage bloggers who do it for the clicks.

Never, ever take a drunk female guest to your bedroom – even if you have a signed contract indicating sexual consent. Based on new standards being promulgated on campus, all consent is null and void the minute a woman becomes intoxicated– even if she is your fiancée. And while a rape charge under these circumstances is unlikely to hold up in a court of law, it doesn’t take much for a campus kangaroo court to get you expelled, ruining your life while saddling your fraternity with a reputation for harboring rapists.

Uh huh. That’s what happens all the time. It’s never that the woman gets raped and then nobody does anything about it. Never never never never.

Except all the times that it does.

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

How dare you

Sep 30th, 2014 11:19 am | By

No. Just no. Not ever. Not under any circumstances. Just don’t even. Dear god what are you thinking. No.

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