All entries by this author

Buster the Bunny Visits Perverts in Vermont! *

Jan 28th, 2005 | Filed by

Lesbians, maple syrup, PBS – it’s all too much for US Education Secretary.… Read the rest

Simon Schama on Letters of Isaiah Berlin *

Jan 28th, 2005 | Filed by

‘The strenuous journey of an exceptional mind toward its own self-realization.’… Read the rest

Education Secretary and Opus Dei *

Jan 28th, 2005 | Filed by

Particularly unquestioning form of religion seems at odds with background in rational inquiry.… Read the rest

‘Sincerely Held Religious Beliefs’ *

Jan 28th, 2005 | Filed by

Colleges forced to choose between freedom of religion and equal protection under law.… Read the rest


Jan 27th, 2005 6:34 pm | By

I said I was going to drone some more about ethical commitments. Why? Because the subject interests me, especially now, when there is so much pressure to take religion seriously, to be sympathetic towards religion, to give religion the benefit of the doubt, to be careful not to dismiss religion ‘lightly’ or ‘contemptuously’ or quickly or any other way that doesn’t involve the aforementioned taking it seriously. I don’t say there is no merit to those suggestions and urgings, but I do think they are too much in fashion right now, and the other view is too much out of fashion. So I think it’s useful to take a look at the underpinnings of the idea. I take the thought … Read the rest

Katha Pollitt Asks: Jesus to the Rescue? *

Jan 27th, 2005 | Filed by

‘God’s politics tend to be the politics of the people who claim to speak for him.’… Read the rest

Antony Flew’s Flawed Science *

Jan 27th, 2005 | Filed by

Gerald Schroeder on the physics of Genesis – it’s a joke, right?… Read the rest

Hitchens on Jihad in the Netherlands *

Jan 27th, 2005 | Filed by

Victims not just secular artists but people of Muslim origin who do not accept homicidal fundamentalism.… Read the rest

Teachers and Their Pesky Personal Preferences *

Jan 27th, 2005 | Filed by

‘She had an attitude like because she has a PhD we were wrong and don’t know as much as her.’… Read the rest

Wedging Creationism into the Academy *

Jan 27th, 2005 | Filed by

Barbara Forrest and Glenn Branch on a case study of the quest for academic legitimacy. … Read the rest

Lather Up, Joe

Jan 26th, 2005 10:44 pm | By

I’ve been thinking some more about this idea of ethical commitments as the best argument for treating religion differently from other systems of thought. I didn’t make clear enough in yesterday’s post that both Amy Gutman and Jonathan Derbyshire think that argument fails, despite being the best one available. I’m not taking issue with Jonathan, I’m just trying to poke at the idea to see where it gives. One place it gives, as Jonathan mentioned, is the fact that religion is not the only source of ethical commitments. But I think there are other places.

For one thing – ‘ethical commitments’ sounds like an individual item. It sounds like something that goes with the self, and matters to the self. … Read the rest

Religion Must Remain Open to Criticism *

Jan 26th, 2005 | Filed by

The law will serve to create martyrs – laws which criminalise free speech always do. … Read the rest

New Laws Will Keep Freedom to Insult Religion *

Jan 26th, 2005 | Filed by

Director of Public Prosecutions warns against inflated expectations of what law will do.… Read the rest

‘Politically Incorrect’ History *

Jan 26th, 2005 | Filed by

Civil Rights Act bad, Black Codes and Japanese internment good. And this is a best seller.… Read the rest

“Chief” Objections: Racism, Rhetoric and Native American Mascots on College Campuses

Jan 26th, 2005 | By Phil Mole

The recent success of the University of Illinois at Urbana’s basketball team has distracted attention from a longstanding and contentious issue: the status of school sports mascot Chief Illiniwek. The Chief is one of the last remaining college team mascots modeled after Native Americans – the kind usually portrayed by white students wearing face paint and “traditional” native costumes. The school’s Board of Trustees has debated the fate of the Chief for more than a decade, but a resolution seems no closer. Despite recent statements about the need to retire the Chief, the university continues to delay progress toward this goal. It may be a good time to review this controversy, since doing so may reveal much about the nature … Read the rest

Taking Words Seriously

Jan 25th, 2005 10:59 pm | By

Jonathan Derbyshire has an interesting post that’s relevant to that last post, and to many of the posts lately.

“Is religious identity special?” This is a question Amy Gutman poses in her excellent new-ish book, Identity in Democracy. And of course it’s a question many people have been asking themselves recently…As far as specifically religious identity groups are concerned, Gutman’s view is that they should not be treated with special consideration. However, and this is very important, she takes seriously, as some liberals do not, the reasons why it is argued that religion should be given such consideration. The best argument for according religion special consideration in democracies, in Gutman’s view and mine, is that the “ultimate ethical commitments of

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Jan 25th, 2005 7:34 pm | By

Well, this makes things admirably clear. There’s a useful absence of fuzz and wool and disguise about this crowd.

Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi is a controversial Islamic scholar who approves of wife-beating and believes in traditional family values. The Mormon church, having abandoned polygamy more than a century ago, believes in traditional families too. With that much in common, they have joined forces to “defend the family” and fight progressive social policies at the United Nations. Other members of the holy alliance include Cardinal Alfonso Trujillo, who campaigns against condoms on behalf of the Catholic church, and Mahathir Mohamad, the dictatorial former prime minister of Malaysia who sacked and jailed his deputy for alleged homosexuality.

‘Traditional’ families – meaning…? Don’t … Read the rest

Anti-theism the Key to Understanding Hitchens *

Jan 25th, 2005 | Filed by

His ‘defection’ from the left is rooted in his hatred of religious fascism.… Read the rest

Talibanization of Bangladesh? *

Jan 25th, 2005 | Filed by

Possible to observe the increased political and religious repression in everyday life.… Read the rest

Humanists Worry About Religious Hatred Law *

Jan 25th, 2005 | Filed by

Law still protects religion but not belief; blasphemy law remains.… Read the rest