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.

Sarcastic waving

Dec 7th, 2014 4:33 pm | By

Oh dear god. Worse than ever.

There’s a second video of the killing of Eric Garner.

The second video shows the choking while one officer grabbed Garner around his neck, and threw him to the ground. It also, however, shows the seven minute long aftermath, where a disgusted bystander films the lifeless body of Eric Garner left on the sidewalk with police officers shuffling around him and seeming relatively undisturbed by the fact that they had just killed an unarmed man for not paying a few pennies of tax on cigarettes.

Watch video below of NYPD officers and EMT standing around, and failing to give aid to Eric Garner, who was lifeless on the ground, but technically did not die until he was on the way to the hospital.

I could only watch a minute fourteen, given what we know.

Could Garner have been saved if they had administered proper aid? Perhaps. But that is speculative. What is not speculative is the attitude and demeanor of the officer who had just choked him until he was lifeless, thus leading to his death. Pay close attention at 6:55 in the video, when you can see the officer who choked Garner to death, NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo, actually wave jokingly at the camera, with no apparent concern for the fact that he had just killed a man.

I didn’t watch that far, but there are stills in the story.


The video was originally posted on Facebook over the summer but has received renewed attention after a grand jury decided not to indict an officer involved in the altercation. As Harry Siegel at the New York Daily News points out, this video is almost more disturbing — or disturbing in a way that says something slightly different about Garner and the officers in question. About Garner: If he appears in the first video as the subject of police aggression, here he barely seems to warrant their attention at all. About the officers: They betray no sense of urgency or concern as they wait for first responders. It’s as if the event were almost banal.

Maybe that’s their “professionalism” – not getting all emotional on the job. But since Eric Garner shouldn’t have been slammed to the sidewalk in the first place…

It’s ugly.

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

Oops I forgot to do a title

Dec 7th, 2014 3:11 pm | By

Anna Merlan at Jezebel reports on a new porn series featuring rapes of women crossing the US-Mexico border. Rape is a major risk for women in that situation.

That evidently sounds pretty arousing to the porn conglomerate MindGeek, formerly Manwin, who are behind the series. As the Daily Dot was first to report, the series was launched by MindGeek earlier this year, a major European company that also owns YouPorn, RedTube and many other major porn sites. It’s produced by Mofos, a porn studio that focuses on “real amateur girls.” Here’s a nausea-inducing description on the “Border Patrol Sex” homepage:

Watch these guys hunting the illegal female immigrants and giving them a lesson on why the law should be obeyed.

Cruising in their SUV, agents catch these college girls in the field and fuck them really hard. Getting fucked by border patrol agent is one thing, but these girls don’t know that this doesn’t really mean they get to pass the border afterwards.

Cool huh? Let’s have more of that kind of thing. Rape of women who are being stoned for “adultery” – call a time-out for rape, then finish the stoning. Hawt! Rape of women who are being genocided. Rape of women who are victims of earthquakes or hurricanes or droughts. Rape of women who are dying of Ebola. I can think of all sorts of possibilities.

There’s a clear difference between “Border Patrol Sex” and other forms of edgy fantasy porn: rape scenarios, for example, or underage- or incest-themed content, all of which, for legal reasons as well as basic human decency, tend to make it very clear that they are fictionalized and don’t rely on any specific real-world events.

Ok nope. That’s where I part company with Merlan and perhaps with the majority of other feminists, I don’t know. I don’t think there’s a clear difference at all, and I think saying there is seems pretty clueless. I also don’t consider “rape scenarios” to be “edgy.” Either both are fucked up or neither is fucked up.

The Border Patrol series feels more like Holocaust or “Stalag” pornography, the exploitation comics that cropped up in Israel after the Holocaust and which sexualized concentration camps and other types of Nazi exploitation. (Or, for a more modern example, “Taliban”-themed rape porn.) Conceptually, too, the “Border Patrol” series takes a lot from Max Hardcore’s style of extreme gonzo pornography that focused on inflicting pain and humiliation on the actresses in a style that’s intentionally meant to blur the lines between fantasy and reality.

I don’t know what “extreme gonzo” is supposed to mean there. I don’t see why porn is supposed to include violence. I don’t see why erotica and violence need to be mashed together. I don’t see why anyone – especially feminists – wants to eroticize violence.

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

That word “objective”…

Dec 7th, 2014 12:44 pm | By

A federal judge said Nope to another attempt to get evolution banned in Kansas public schools.

Citizens for Objective Public Education (COPE) actually had the nerve to argue that teaching evolution amounts to teaching atheism, and therefore should be banned as a religious point of view in the classroom.

Learning about evolution could, following a train of thought, lead to atheism, but I can think of other things that could also do that – like reading the bible for instance; like going to church, like listening to sermons, like thinking about the idea of “god.” Pretty much anything could lead to a train of thought that ends up at atheism – or theism.

Americans United put it this way:

Everything about that argument is flawed. Contemplating the origin of life on this planet is not an inherently religious question that is unfit for children to ponder. And science has done a fine job of unlocking the mysteries of the universe – despite COPE’s claim to the contrary. Evolution may be a theory, but no legitimate scientists question its validity. Thus learning the facts of that theory is not “indoctrination.” It’s called education.

US District Judge Daniel Crabtree apparently agreed, because he threw out the case.

Learning can take you places. Deal with it.


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

Uh oh

Dec 7th, 2014 12:15 pm | By

Oh crap, that’s scary.

An unidentified drone came close to hitting a plane as it landed at Heathrow, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has confirmed.

An Airbus A320 pilot reported seeing a helicopter-style drone as the jet was 700 feet off the ground on its approach to the runway at 1416 GMT on 22 July.

The CAA has not identified the airline or how close the drone came to the plane, which can carry 180 people.

It gave the incident an “A” rating, meaning a “serious risk of collision”.

This is the highest incident rating the CAA can give.

Now add this part:

The incidents have prompted a warning from the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa) that the rapid increase in the number of drones operated by amateur enthusiasts now poses “a real risk” to commercial aircraft.

And now this part:

Sales of drones have increased rapidly, with UK sales running at a rate of between 1,000 and 2,000 every month.

They are expected to be very popular as Christmas presents.

They cost as little as £35 for a smaller model…

Jesus fucking christ.


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

Knowing v accepting

Dec 7th, 2014 11:11 am | By

How do we draw the border between what we know and what we have learned from people who know?

The question is prompted by a discussion on a public post of Ed Brayton’s on Facebook about sophisticated theology and Karen Armstrong and agnosticism. Dan Linford (who teaches philosophy) said this:

Armstrong thinks that we can know that it is true that “God exists” but we cannot know what that sentence means, both because we do not know what God is nor do we know what ‘exists’ means.

I can’t make any sense of that. I can’t see what it can mean to know something if you don’t know its component parts. It seems like Dadaist gibberish to me. If I don’t know what ‘god’ is and I don’t know what ‘exist’ means, how can I know god exists?

It’s helpful in understanding mysticism, Dan said. Not to me it isn’t.

Dan drew analogies to a trusted friend telling you a sentence in a language you don’t understand is true, and thus you know it’s true, and to an instructor writing an equation that we don’t currently understand; we might trust the instructor that she is telling us true things.

But I wouldn’t say I know those things. That’s one place where I draw the border. I might accept it, but accepting something, taking someone else’s word for something, is not the same as knowing it yourself. It’s provisional. Knowledge is not provisional. If it is provisional, then it’s something short of knowledge. It may be good enough, it may be serviceable, it may be true – but for you it’s not knowledge.

Or am I all wrong?

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

Catherine has one son and 35,000 daughters

Dec 7th, 2014 9:53 am | By

Another one from A Mighty Girl – Dr. Catherine Hamlin.

Australian obstetrician/gynecologist Dr. Catherine Hamlin has spent much of her life living in Ethiopia where she has revolutionized care for a childbirth injury called obstetric fistula. Dr. Hamlin, who celebrated her 90th birthday this year, was nominated for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize for her work building the world’s only medical center dedicated to providing free repair surgery to poor women suffering from this devastating condition — one that affects more than two million young women around the world.

When Dr. Hamlin first moved with her husband, Dr. Reginald Hamlin, to Ethiopia in 1959 to establish a midwifery school, they had never encountered an obstetric fistula as the condition is very rare in developed countries due to modern obstetric techniques such as Caesarean section. They soon learned that fistulas were common in Ethiopia and in much of the developing world. An obstetric fistula is a medical condition in which a hole or fistula develops in the birth canal area after a difficult or failed childbirth. Most often, the child dies and the fistula renders the woman incontinent. Due to the leaking which occurs and the resulting odor, women are frequently ostracized from their families and communities.

Recognizing the great need for fistula treatment, the Hamlins founded the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in 1974 to provide free fistula repair surgery to women in need. Since then, they have treated 35,000 women with a success rate of 95 percent. Dr. Hamlin has spent years building up local expertise in the surgical procedure and has since opened additional medical centers in other Ethiopian cities. Now established as the global center of expertise on fistula repair, surgeons come from around the world to be trained by Dr. Hamlin and her associates.

To help prevent more women from developing fistulas in the first place, Dr. Hamlin established the Hamlin College of Midwives in 2006. Globally, there are over 300,000 maternal deaths every year, 99 percent of which occur in poor countries, and for every death, at least 20 women suffer severe complications from childbirth. Complications in pregnancy and childbirth remain the leading cause of the death among adolescent girls in many developing countries. In a country like Ethiopia which has fewer than 200 OB/GYNs for a population of nearly 100 million people, midwives offer the best hope of providing front-line maternal care to women, especially those in rural areas.

Dr. Hamlin’s work put obstetric fistula on the global health agenda, and her work has been internationally recognized by governments and professional medical societies around the world. At Dr. Hamlin’s 90th birthday party earlier this year, her son, Richard, declared that “Catherine has one son and 35,000 daughters.” Dr. Hamlin, who lives in a cottage at the hospital and continues to be active in its day-to-day work, has trained many to carry on her important mission. At her party, Dr. Hamlin told those who had gathered to celebrate the life of this remarkable woman: “We have to eradicate Ethiopia of this awful thing that’s happening to women: suffering, untold suffering, in the countryside. I leave this with you to do in the future, to carry on.”

Dr. Hamlin’s life-changing work is possible due to the support of donors from around the world through two non-profit organizations — both wonderful charities to support this holiday season — the Australian-based Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia ( or the US-based Hamlin Fistula USA(

To learn more about Dr. Hamlin and her work, we highly recommend her memoir “The Hospital by the River: A Story of Hope” at

There is also a collection of “stories of hope” about the people affected by Dr. Hamlin’s work entitled “Catherine’s Gift: Stories of Hope from the Hospital by the River” at

You can also learn more about Dr. Hamlin’s fistula hospital and its impact on women’s lives in the excellent hour-long PBS documentary “A Walk to Beautiful” at

For Mighty Girl stories to teach your children about the value of giving to others, visit our post on “Making an Impact: Mighty Girl Books About Charity and Community Service” at — or browse our entire “Generosity & Charity” book section.

For stories of girls and women living through poverty and hardship, visit our “Hardship & Poverty” section.

And, for stories for children and teens about the value of compassion, visit our “Kindness & Compassion” book section.


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

Saturday puppy

Dec 6th, 2014 6:07 pm | By

Because Cute Emergency simply shoved it at me, so how could I  not.

Embedded image permalink

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

You’d go out—bang!—just like a candle!

Dec 6th, 2014 5:22 pm | By

About this business of all of us being just manifestations of PZ – Russell Glasser wittily quoted an apt bit of Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll.

Here she checked herself in some alarm, at hearing something that sounded to her like the puffing of a large steam-engine in the wood near them, though she feared it was more likely to be a wild beast. ‘Are there any lions or tigers about here?’ she asked timidly.

‘It’s only the Red King snoring,’ said Tweedledee.

‘Come and look at him!’ the brothers cried, and they each took one of Alice’s hands, and led her up to where the King was sleeping.

‘Isn’t he a LOVELY sight?’ said Tweedledum.

Alice couldn’t say honestly that he was. He had a tall red night-cap on, with a tassel, and he was lying crumpled up into a sort of untidy heap, and snoring loud—’fit to snore his head off!’ as Tweedledum remarked.

‘I’m afraid he’ll catch cold with lying on the damp grass,’ said Alice, who was a very thoughtful little girl.

‘He’s dreaming now,’ said Tweedledee: ‘and what do you think he’s dreaming about?’

Alice said ‘Nobody can guess that.’

‘Why, about YOU!’ Tweedledee exclaimed, clapping his hands triumphantly. ‘And if he left off dreaming about you, where do you suppose you’d be?’

‘Where I am now, of course,’ said Alice.

‘Not you!’ Tweedledee retorted contemptuously. ‘You’d be nowhere. Why, you’re only a sort of thing in his dream!’

‘If that there King was to wake,’ added Tweedledum, ‘you’d go out—bang!—just like a candle!’

‘I shouldn’t!’ Alice exclaimed indignantly. ‘Besides, if I’M only a sort of thing in his dream, what are YOU, I should like to know?’

A profound question, I’m sure you’ll agree.

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

The only male cheerleader

Dec 6th, 2014 4:55 pm | By

Oh, no.

Ronin Shimizu, a 12-year-old boy in California, killed himself after he was bullied for being the only male cheerleader on an all girl team. Does “after” mean “because” here? It’s impossible to know for sure, even if he left a note saying so, but…being bullied doesn’t generally make kids happier.

‘I heard that people called him gay because he was a cheerleader,’ one of his teammates told CBS Sacramento at the vigil.

Ronin was the only male cheerleader with the Vista Junior Eagles Cheer Team.

Contempt for girls hurts boys as well as girls. It hurts everyone. It sucks. It’s not healthy that it’s just normal for half of all human beings to be held in contempt.

He liked cheerleading. He thought it was fun.

Shock: Some friends say they were stunned he was so unhappy because he always had a smile on his face

That’s heartbreaking.

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

Welcome to Kansas City

Dec 6th, 2014 1:01 pm | By

A horrifying event in Kansas City, Missouri.

Friends of a Muslim teenager who was run down and killed in a crash that’s being investigated as a possible hate crime said they had been alarmed in recent weeks by someone driving around with anti-Islamic messages painted on a vehicle.

Police say they don’t know if there’s any connection.

Ahmed H. Aden, 34, of Kansas City, was charged Friday in Jackson County with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the crash that fatally injured 15-year-old Abdisamad Sheikh-Hussein on Thursday night at the center. Funeral services for Abdisamad are scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday at the Islamic Society of Greater Kansas City.

According to a probable cause statement, Aden was driving the sport utility vehicle that hit the teen as the boy got into a car Thursday evening. A witness reported seeing the teen “fly through the air” before the SUV ran over him. The teen’s legs were nearly severed, and he died in a hospital of his wounds.

But Aden was perhaps not just a random guy who happened to be driving past.

In the weeks before the crash, worshippers said they saw a black SUV painted with threatening messages at the center and cruising around a nearby shopping area. One of the messages was “Islam Is Worse Than Ebola,” said Mohamed Ahmed, 13, of Kansas City.

“I would have thought the police would have taken care of it, but they didn’t,” he said.

Mohamed Farah, a 50-year-old friend of the boy’s family, said he called police more than once in October about a suspicious man who was coming around the center.

The driver’s behavior was not…random.

Court documents said Aden crashed the SUV and got out of the vehicle with a knife. Occupants of the car told officers they followed Aden, and they pointed him out to police. One witness said the suspect swung what appeared to be a baseball bat at people, and another witness reported that Aden pulled out a handgun and said to “Stay there” as he tried to get away.

Aden initially told authorities that he lost control of his vehicle and that there was an accident. He later said he struck the teen because he thought he looked like a man who had threatened him several days earlier, the probable cause statement said.

Federal agents are assisting in the investigation and “also have opened this matter as a federal civil rights investigation as a potential hate crimes violation,” according to FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton. Patton said she couldn’t release any information on why the case could be considered a hate crime.



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

“Nice try, PZ, with those last two paragraphs”

Dec 6th, 2014 12:41 pm | By

Comedy interlude.

A comment on my piece titled What should we do? at the Freethinker:

  1. Blueshift Rhino says:

    Nice try, PZ, with those last two paragraphs, but you simply can’t have it both ways.

    You cannot continue to use the derisive label of “Dear Muslima” when someone argues that there are more important issues than the horror of being invited for coffee in an elevator or – even – the outrage of people disagreeing with you on the internet. Either it’s as black-and-white – we at FTB know which issues matter and which don’t, and everyone else needs to shut and listen to us – as you have been claiming for years, or it really is nuanced as Dawkins was saying and everyone who hasn’t drunk your Koolaid has been trying to explain to you since then.

    Why you are incapable of saying that you’ve made a mistake (in the past) and/or simplified matters too much is beyond me. Just take back your response to Dear Muslima and embrace what you, yourself, wrote in the first three-quarters of this column: some problems are worse than others and everyone is entitled to his or her opinion on the rank-ordering. Oh, and while you’re at it, head over to Michael Nugent’s biog and apologize for your indefensible public smears against him,l so that maybe we all can move onwards.

Maybe you’re thinking PZ wrote a long comment on my piece, one with more than two paragraphs, and that Blueshift Rhino is responding to that? Hahaha no, PZ didn’t comment on my piece. I have no idea why Blueshift Rhino calls me PZ, unless it’s because his simmering rage makes it hard for him to read names.


The confusion is compounded. Blueshift Rhino comments again:

As O.B. knows, my previous comment was retracted and a request that it be deleted was clicked before anyone other than O.B. saw it. The dishonesty of not mentioning this is unsurprising. The inability to understand that a quick retraction is the correct thing to do when a mistake is made is also unsurprising.

With that said, my main point still stands. Using “Dear Muslima” as a slur is not only simplistic or ignorant, but often hypocritical.

Oy. One, I hadn’t said anything about the PZ comment there, so what “dishonesty”?

Two, no I don’t know – how would I know?? How on earth would I know his previous comment was retracted and a request that it be deleted was clicked before anyone other than me saw it? What am I, magic?

Oh good grief, does he think The Freethinker belongs to me? Does he think I’m the editor and webmaster? Does he think it’s this extra blog I have?

Lordy. The Freeth is the oldest surviving freethought publication in the world. It was founded by G W Foote in 1881. The editor is Barry Duke. I write a monthly column for it.

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

Police interest

Dec 6th, 2014 11:57 am | By

Los Angeles police have opened an investigation into one woman’s claims that Bill Cosby molested her.

Los Angeles police opened an investigation on Friday into a woman’s claims that Bill Cosby molested her when she was 15 years old, a department spokeswoman said.

The investigation was opened after Judy Huth, who is suing Cosby for sexual battery, met with Los Angeles police detectives for 90 minutes.

Los Angeles Police Officer Jane Kim said the department opened its investigation after the meeting. (more…)

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

Protests are rare in Vietnam

Dec 6th, 2014 11:40 am | By

Saudi and Iran arrest bloggers for being rude about “the prophet”; Vietnam arrests bloggers for being rude about the government.

An award-winning Vietnamese writer has been arrested, reportedly for publishing criticism of the Communist government on his blog.

Nguyen Quang Lap was taken into custody after police searched his home in the city of Ho Chi Minh on Saturday.

His wife and his brother said police had accused him of publishing articles that went against the authorities.

Mr Lap is the second prominent blogger to have been detained recently, in an apparently renewed attack on dissent.

We have blogger privilege here in the relatively non-suppressive part of the world.

The one-party state is often criticised by rights groups for its intolerance of dissent.

Protests are rare in Vietnam and the mainstream media are state-run and heavily regulated.

However, the internet has emerged as a forum for criticising the authorities.

The press freedom group, Reporters without Borders, says Vietnam has 34 bloggers in prison.

34 too many.


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

Jim feels loved again

Dec 6th, 2014 11:08 am | By

James Watson’s Nobel medal sold for a large sum yesterday. $4.1 million, to be exact, not counting the auction house’s cut.

Dr. Watson, 86, watched the auction open-mouthed from the back of the room with his wife and one of his sons as the bidding, which began at $1.5 million, rose steadily by $100,000 increments, eventually coming down to two phone bidders who pushed the price above $4 million.

He said before the sale that he wanted to give much of the proceeds to educational institutions that had nurtured him, to “support and empower scientific discovery.”

After the sale, he said: “I’m very pleased. It’s more money than I expected to give to charity.”

The sale also became symbolic of a quest for redemption after he became what he called an “unperson” in the scientific community seven years ago; he had told The Sunday Times of London Magazine in an interview that he was pessimistic about Africa because “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours, whereas all the testing says not really.”

So unfair, isn’t it, for people to decide they don’t want to pay attention to James Watson after he said a stunningly racist thing. We’re supposed to overlook it when Our Major Geniuses say things like that.

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

Jehovah’s Witnesses leaders don’t call police

Dec 6th, 2014 10:30 am | By

It’s the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ turn.

Two people who say that as children they were sexually abused by a leader in a Hillsboro Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation filed a $10.5 million lawsuit Monday – among the first in Oregon to accuse the religious organization of hiding decades of sexual abuse.

Attorneys for Velicia Alston, 39, and an unnamed man said the Jehovah’s Witnesses leadership continues to cover up sexual abuse against children by leaders. They say it is more than a decade behind other organizations, such as the Catholic Church, that have been forced to address their problems through many years of civil litigation.

Let me guess – they summoned Jehovah as a witness and he didn’t show?

“There is a crisis of silence in the Jehovah’s Witness organization,” said Irwin Zalkin, one of several attorneys representing Alston and the man. Zalkin described the religious organization as “more concerned about protecting its reputation than it is about protecting its children.”

For example, Zalkin said the seven men who make up the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Governing Body have a policy requiring a confession from the perpetrator or two eyewitnesses to the abuse before leaders will take any action.

Ahh that policy – the one that guarantees that leaders will take no action.

“Even if they do disfellowship a perpetrator, they don’t tell the congregation why,” Zalkin said during a news conference Monday in Portland. “No one but the elders can ever know that there is a child predator lurking in that congregation.”

Zalkin said Jehovah’s Witnesses leaders don’t call police. Rather, Zalkin said, they take the position that although Oregon law defines clergy as mandatory reporters of child abuse, they don’t need to report the abuse because it was a privileged religious communication.

Say WHAT?? Sexual abuse of a child by a “leader” is a privileged religious communication? “Privileged” in a legal sense, like that between lawyer and client? In what universe?

Zalkin, an attorney from San Diego, said this is the first case of its kind that he knows of in Oregon. His firm has 14 active cases against the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization in other states that include California, Connecticut and New Mexico. Several others also are pending in the U.S.

Another item to watch.

The suit alleges that Daniel Castellanos, who held the equivalent position of a baptized ordained minister in the North Hillsboro Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, molested Alston in 1986 or 1987 when she was 11 or 12 years old. The suit claims Castellanos also molested a boy, described only as John Roe in the suit, when the boy was 8 to 10 years old.

Alston said she chose to use her name and speak to reporters Monday because she wants to give victims a voice. She said filing civil litigation in hopes of changing the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ policies did not amount to committing an act against God, even though her attorneys say the Jehovah’s Witnesses might shun her for doing so.

“I know that there are other victims,” said Alston, who now lives in San Diego. “I know that you’re scared because you’re worried about being punished by God. But God would never do something like this. So it’s OK to say something. Because if you don’t say something it’s going to keep happening.”

Seriously – if you’re going to believe in a god, don’t believe in one who smiles approvingly on grownup men molesting little girls and boys.


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

“You ain’t seen harassment yet, darling”

Dec 5th, 2014 5:03 pm | By

An anti-abortion “activist” was found guilty of harassing the head of a Belfast clinic last month.

One of Ireland’s most prominent anti-abortion activists has been found guilty of harassing the head of Belfast’s Marie Stopes clinic.

A judge at the city’s magistrates court warned the Precious Life director Bernadette Smyth that she could face jail for her protests against the former Progressive Unionist party leader Dawn Purvis and the clinic.

The deputy district judge Chris Holmes said the campaign of harassment had been carried out “in a vicious and malicious fashion”.

Smyth was told she would have to pay compensation and would be barred from the area around the clinic on Great Victoria Street in Belfast.

The clinic has been picketed often since it opened two years ago.

In a scathing ruling, the judge said: “I want to make it absolutely clear that I do not feel it is appropriate for anyone to be stopped outside this clinic in any form, shape or fashion and questioned either as to their identity or why they are going in there and being forced to involve themselves in conversation at times when they are almost certainly going to be stressed and very possibly distressed.”

Well that’s the point, isn’t it – to make them feel worse and worse and worse.

Giving evidence in the case, Purvis said she was left frightened for her safety following two incidents.

During an exchange with protesters on 9 January this year, the clinic director said she had put her hand up and asked them to stop harassing her. Smyth was said to have replied in an exaggerated drawl: “You ain’t seen harassment yet, darling.”

Religion as hatred and malice. So pretty.

Smyth left court without making a comment, but her solicitor Aidan Carlin described the verdict as “a disappointment for Christians worldwide”.

For malicious shits, he means. I don’t believe all Christians are like his client.


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


Dec 5th, 2014 4:34 pm | By

Tell us more about Abort67, you ask.

Wikipedia has information.

Abort67 is a pro-life protest group in the UK known for using hardline tactics such as holding protests outside of abortion clinics, counselling people going in or out of the clinics, and displaying graphic images of aborted fetuses. Such tactics are considered unusual and extreme in the UK, although they are more common in the US. Abort67 receives financial support from US anti-abortion groups,[1] and the graphic images which they use in protests also come from the US.[2]


Of course it does and of course they do. I hate my country sometimes. It feels very disgraceful to be part of it sometimes – well, make that often.

They have a Facebook page. Content note: graphic images. The comments on the page are not admiring.

There’s a petition urging them to stop trying to intimidate women outside clinics.

Abortion Rights belives that women should be able to access information and abortion services free from intimidation and harassment so that they can make their own decisions on the termination of their pregnancy.

Abort67 appear to be trying to shut down these services by intimidating staff, service users and local residents.

‘We the undersigned support the provision of local abortion services for women across London.

We are appalled by a campaign by anti-abortion extremists – and Abort67 in particular – who are systematically attempting to prevent NHS-funded abortion services being available to local women in Southwark.

We condemn those who protest outside abortion clinics showing graphic images of aborted foetuses, with the intent to intimidate and harass women as they access advice and support about an unplanned pregnancy, or a pregnancy they cannot continue with.

We believe that women should be able to freely access abortion services and their private choices should be respected.

We feel that having banners waved in their faces or being confronted by those who know nothing of their circumstances is harassment.

Healthcare providers should be able to offer women support and care free from intimidation.

One in three women will have an abortion in her lifetime. We stand by the women of London who will need that care and the doctors and nurses who provide it.’

That’s Abort67.

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

A pregnant passerby

Dec 5th, 2014 4:01 pm | By

Ben Quinn in the Guardian has details of Sunny’s encounter with the protesters and what happened next.

A video in which protesters picketing a London abortion clinic are challenged by a pregnant passerby has gone viral after being posted on YouTube.

The incident, involving protesters from the controversial Abort 67 group, was filmed by the commentator and pro-choice activist Sunny Hundal and had been watched nearly 2m times by Friday afternoon.

Hundal said he had been threatened with legal action by one of the protesters, who was brandishing his own camera and was accused of filming women coming and going from the clinic.

After Hundal himself confronted the protesters, who have been heavily criticised for displaying graphic imagery outside abortion clinics, an unnamed woman who had been listening nearby told the demonstrators: “You are wrong in what you’re doing”.

Wrong on so many levels, she says. She’s fierce.

Ann Furedi, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said last month that it had started calling for “buffer zones” or “safe havens” around clinics, because women had said they felt intimidated by the protesters.

“We have previously contacted the churches who support the people who gather outside clinics and asked them to reconsider their stance – but to no avail; in repeated meetings with police around the country officers have told us they do not have the powers to tackle the problems these people cause; and attempts to use public order legislation have failed,” she said.

Bizarro-world side-note: Ann Furedi is married to Frank Furedi, and a contributor to spiked. She’s part of that RCP-Living Marxism-Institute of Ideas crowd that includes Brendan O’Neill. One can’t get away from them.


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

So fuckin wrong

Dec 5th, 2014 3:49 pm | By

Sunny Hundal catches a great challenge to anti-abortion protesters outside a clinic. The video has gone viral.


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

Host to an uptick

Dec 5th, 2014 3:41 pm | By

Rose Eveleth at the Atlantic reports on Twitter’s new moves to improve its practices on harassment. (Rose Eveleth herself got considerable harassment from people enraged at the objections to Matt Taylor’s shirt.)

It’s no secret that Twitter is currently playing host to an uptick in targeted harassment. The site has long provided an easy way for people to lob hostile and threatening messages into someone’s timeline, but things seem to be getting worse, not better. Gamergate targets like Zoe Quinn, Anita Sarkeesian, and Breanna Wu have all been inundated with death and rape threats that have forced them to cancel talks and flee their homes. After her father’s death, Zelda Williams—Robin Williams’s daughter—quit the social network after sustained harassment. A recent Pew study found that half of women have been sexually harassed online.

Twitter is doing a couple of tiny tweaks, with possibly more to come.

Twitter says in its blog post that the updates, for most users, will be rolling out in a few weeks. A spokesperson from Twitter declined to comment on the record for this story.

Well it’s all very hush-hush, you see. The Nazis might overhear.

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