Sunday, July 29, 2007

Closing Words

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Commenter Skeptyk in my post speaking directly to Grothe has posted an excellent link. And immediately it reminded me of a post by R. Mildred of Punkass blog. I suggest you read them both.

  1. There Is No Hierarchy of Oppressions
  2. My System Of Oppression Has a Bigger Cock Than Your System of Oppression

Skeptyk does a decent job quickly summing it up at the end of a comment:

(You can see where I went with this: "If religion is a choice that must be respected by law, then why the double standard on Gayness?")

Then, I took it further, saying that being atheist is not, for me, a choice. I cannot CHOOSE to believe in gods anymore than one can choose to believe in the invisible, intangible leprechauns living in PZ Myers' nose. One can wish, pretend, hope, act "as if", but few can BELIEVE in those gnomic nose dwellers.

Maybe it IS annoying, and unseemly, to watch a bunch of mostly white, mostly "straight", mostly colleged folks asking to be recognized as full citizens, especially when we have seen terrible racist and queerphobic violence and these atheist activists just sound whiny in comparison?

But, perhaps we should remember that the "atheist movement" is asking for recognition as full citizens CULTURALLY, which is the day-to-day consciousness-raising that occurs both before and after the judicial and legislative advances in every one of the civil and human rights struggles which legacies we are (jealously?) guarding.

The point of protecting our human rights is that they are all of our rights. When I was a kid, I did not know I was — or would become — queer or atheist or socialist.

Last paragraph emphasis mine

Right on, Skeptyk. Right on.

I think Skeptyk can see why I am particularly annoyed that anybody denies that atheism is a civil rights issue, and when somebody says that one cannot compare their persecution to another's because of the difference in magnitude in recent history. Let's read some juicy tidbits from the links, shall we? First Lorde.

"Oh," says a voice from the Black community, "but being Black is NORMAL!" Well, I and many Black people of my age can remember grimly the days when it didn't used to be!

I simply do not believe that one aspect of myself can possibly profit from the oppression of any other part of my identity. I know that my people cannot possibly profit from the oppression of any other group which seeks the right to peaceful existence. Rather, we diminish ourselves by denying to others what we have shed blood to obtain for our children. And those children need to learn that they do not have to become like each other in order to work together for a future they will all share.

… I cannot afford to believe that freedom from intolerance is the right of only one particular group. And I cannot afford to choose between the fronts upon which I must battle these forces of discrimination, .wherever they appear to destroy me. And when they appear to destroy me, it will not be long before they appear to destroy you.

From Homophobia and Education (New York: Council on Interracial Books for Children, 1983).

And now Mildred.

This reminds of that story about those blind wise guys who start fondling an elephant and then start argueing afterwards about what the elephant is like.

"it is like a bat's wing!" declares the wise guy who'd been fiddling with the elephant's ear.

"No, it is like a tree trunk — stout and cylindrical." argues the wise guy who'd been fiddling with the elephant's leg.

"You are both wrong, it is long and supple like a snake!" cries the third wise guy, who had been feeling up the elephant's trunk, or something.

So too goes the endless discussion on which system of oppression is bigger, badder and needs to be tackled more urgently.

So this black guy, this poor guy and a middle class white woman see that rich white guys are always at the very top of all the systems of oppression.

So the black guy goes "You see, it is rich white guys who are the oppressors, and so racism is the ultimate system of oppression, we must deal with racism first and foremost."

"No no, it is the rich white guys who are the oppressors, and so capitalism is the ultimate system of oppression, we must deal with capitalism first and foremost." argues the poor guy.

"No no NO, you've got it all wrong, it is rich white guys who are the oppressors, and so the patriarchy is the ultimate form of oppression, we must deal with patriarchy first and foremost!" Cries the middles class white woman.

The black guys and the poor guy then look at each other and say together "shut up you stupid bitch."

Now my point here is not to agree with the initial comment, but to rather disagree in a way that highlights my key point, and that point is that bullshit hiearchies are one of the major and universal methods that all systems of oppression use to oppress

Examples of this ranges from the way that it’s one thing to be black, but how dark your skin actually is is still important because lighter skinned blacks are obviously better somehow than darker skinned ones, irregardless of the fact that a black person, even a really really light one, will never be white, the idea that a light skinned black person is, at the very least, not as black as another black person is important.

And so the whole thing tesselates down hill, with oppressed groups subdividing again and again as people foolishly try to figure out how they better fit into the system so that they’re not stuck on the bottom rung and being shat on by everyone else, instead of rejecting the idea that they need to fit into any heirarchies at all.

But people still do it, because it appeals to peoples’ vain glorious streak, so that people will fight tooth and nail trying to set out who’s oppressors are more oppressive.

Fuck that crap, let’s get drunk and fiddle with each other’s orifices instead, just so long as we’re clear that my orifices are better than your orifices, ‘kay?

And there stand I, wondering why these three fools don't move their hands around and see if there's connective tissue between their perspective and the next man's.

I hope that anybody reading this is beginning to understand, if you do not already. We cannot let ourselves get hung up on who is more oppressed, or who was oppressed first, or who was oppressed the hardest, or the longest, or by the most oppressors, or any such crap. There is nothing to be honored in behaving as an oppressor yourself my claiming rights to victimhood or ranking it. It is shameful, a shameful thing to do as a human being.

In the spirit of this I am returning the link to Point of Inquiry in my right side bar, to support free inquiry and free dialogue.

Sources

  1. There Is No Hierarchy of Oppressions by Audre Lorde, Tuesday, July 19 2005 @ 04:30 PM PDT Contributed by: FunkyEthan
  2. My System Of Oppression Has a Bigger Cock Than Your System of Oppression by R. Mildred September 4th, 2006

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More on Grothe, Atheists, and Civil Rights

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Let me clarify. What's wrong with Nisbet and Grothe is not just their erroneous assertion that discrimination against atheists is not a civil rights issue. For Grothe to simply admonish the fact that atheist leaders bring it up (never names a real incident, if you notice) in itself is not really a smear.

But Grothe goes farther. He says that atheist leader equate the "atheist movement" with the civil rights movement. And that is a bald–faced lie; or he is delusional.

When I say that atheists can relate to the persecution that blacks and homosexuals, to being harassed, exiled or murderer, I speak of the atheist experience over the whole of history, from philosophers being exiled from the polity for not believing in the city gods, to the Spanish Inquisition stretching atheists and other heretics on the rack (and many other torture devices).

But when Grothe says we equate ourselves to those that suffered and fought in the civil rights movement, he is speaking of a singular American experience in the second half of the 20th century. To say that we equate ourselves to that history, is just a lie. We don't. We don't claim to have suffered anywhere near the same dehumanization both inside and outside the law. We don't claim to have ever fought, or to be fighting, as black activists, gay activists, and feminists had to fight during that time to get recognized as human beings.

I am beginning to wander if DJ Grothe can tell the difference between speaking of religion–inspired persecution through all of history, and speaking of the civil rights movement, at all.

In my memory, the first time I have ever seen anybody make any kind of real comparison was PZ Myers just a while back, in a post called We Aim to Misbehave. And here, he was not equating atheist experience to slavery, or the Black Panthers, or the Stonewall Riots, or anything feminists have ever done. No. In fact, what leaders of atheists today express is an urgency for atheists to stop acting as if playing nice will stop discrimination, and to fine the courage to act as directly and honestly as groups did in the civil rights movement.

Try reading the literature of the feminist pioneers. They weren't just rude, they were howling at injustice, they were breaking deep social mores, and they were abused, despised, and imprisoned for it — and they still are. Jebus. You think all women had to do to get recognition of their basic rights was to be polite? You think they got the right to vote by asking nicely? That soft voices and meekness are the answers?

I take it back. I should be embarrassed for us atheists. When I look at the history of feminism, I see a ferocity and a record of sacrifice that puts us tame godless people to shame. Maybe we need to get more outraged and outrageous.

Emphasis in original

Somehow, this is equating ourselves to them? I challenge anybody to find a book chapter, a lecture, a paragraph, a coherent sentence where an atheist leader equates an "atheist movement" to the civil rights movement.

Additionally, seeing as atheists have been persecuted for heresy as much as any other religious or irreligious group throughout history, I want to know why is it somehow unfair for us to in any way relate to blacks and homosexuals? Black people were not always enslaved; Egypt was an impressive empire of black people. Many cultures throughout history practiced pederasty (Rome, Greece) or preferred sexual relations between men as spiritually or intellectually superior to sexual relations between men and women ( for example, ancient Samurai). But one is hard–pressed to find some vast atheist and naturalist empire.

Why is it I can't speak of any of our persecution through the thousands of years of human history, among all other heretics of the religion of the place and day, without being accused of usurping the victimhood of blacks, gays, and feminists during the American civil rights movement? Why is it that sharing similar persecution as people of the wrong color, gender, or sexual orientation, for thousands of years, cannot in any way bring us closer together? Why is it I can't make any comparison at all without being accused of totally discounting the civil rights movement? As PZ Myers said, why is it that makes people say I might as well pretend to be Martin Luther King, Jr.?

It's bullshit. It's just bullshit. There were no atheist groups rising up in the American civil rights movement. There were no police mobs turning hoses and dogs on atheists because they were atheists or things like that. I know it, you know it, DJ Grothe knows it, and no atheist leader (self–appointed or otherwise) claims it. So where's the equivocation? Where is it?

The closest I can even think of or find is this post by Alonzo Fyfe, called The Culpability of Moderates, in which Mr. Fyfe uses an example of Martin Luther King, Jr. that applies to every instance of rebellion against persecution in history.

In 1963, Martin Luther King sat in a Birmingham Jail, arrested for civil disobedience. He received a letter from a group of clergy from Alabama who said that they agreed with King’s cause and were in favor of equality, but that King’s protests were doing nothing but making white people nervous and angry. They suggested that he suspend his protests and wait for a better time.

King’s answer, “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”, said that there will never be a better time.

Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct-action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant 'Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."

He went on to say that the biggest obstacle to black equality was not the white bigot, but the ‘moderate’ who said that blacks should accept their inferior status ‘for now’ and wait for a ‘better time’ to protest their treatment. If the moderates would, instead, side with what is right rather than what is comfortable, then they could defeat these bigoted laws and the road to true equality could open up.

I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season."

In this vein, I have written postings in which I criticized the atheist moderate – the one who says to people such as Michael Newdow with his suits to remove “under God” from the Pledge and to challenge “In God We Trust” as a national motto, because “the time is not right.”

However, the principle also applies to any ‘moderate’ who says that atheists should not upset religious factions that treat us with such contempt. There is absolutely no reason for an atheist to hold his tongue when the national culture uses the public microphone to say that atheists are not as good as theists. It is particularly objectionable when the State uses the coercive power of the school system to create a school atmosphere that daily and as a matter of ritual tells atheist children that they are inferior to their religious classmates and are undeserving if equal participation and respect by the government of which they are, and by right ought to be, equal citizens.

Emphasis in original, html cite attributes/properties my own

Replace the atheists "moderate atheists" with any other group, and the meaning remains the same. While this is an example that uses an American civil rights leader as an example, it applies to every persecuted group ever. It is just an undeniable fact that no discriminated–against person or group has ever been recognized as an equal by saying please.

The attitude people like DJ Grothe and Matt Nisbet eschew implies, to me, that they think somehow the violence and obstruction people faced in the American civil rights movement is somehow completely removed from the rest of history. As if somehow it was so much worse than anything anybody else has ever experience, we should set it up on a pedestal, in spite of the complete lack of medieval torture devices, burning at the stake, forced confessions, exiling of the persecuted into vast unknown wilderness or barren deserts.

As if it were not a human experience.

If anything, the refusal to allow the possibility that non-blacks, non-gays, and non-feminists could have anything in common with said groups at all when it comes to be hated, to divide the human race between this amalgam of activists and everybody else, dehumanizes at least one of the groups, whether ir be the blacks/gays/feminists or the others.

It is because we have empathy for the blacks, gays and women of the world that we feel exalted by the heros of the American civil rights movement. Because they are our brothers and sisters. To recognize one person's power, achievements, or life struggle is not to diminish another's or one's own. A lesser negative is not a positive, and a lesser positive is not a negative.

They fought for equality, not to be singled out, to be put on display and not allowed to be just as fallible, as human, or as seized with life as everybody else; to be able to say I am me! I am not my color, I am not my movement, I am not my place in history, just me. If there is anything that marginalizes the humanity and valor of the civil rights movement, it is its detachment from human history and human experience by people such as DJ Grothe and Matt Nisbet. And so when they construe people's efforts to be recognized as equals, to be tolerated, as an effort to devalue another's cause for justice… that is a smear. It's mud, it's dishonest, it's bogus.

That's all for today.

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Grothe Smears Vocal Atheists Again

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Fuck you, DJ Grothe. You know better.

In spite of being proven entirely wrong by many prolific bloggers (and yours truly), you have once again claimed that atheists out there are equating "the atheist movement" with the persecution of blacks, gays, and other minorities, approsimately 11 minutes into the July 27, 2007 episode of Point of Inquiry.

Either you have not read the many refutations of your mischaracterization of popular and outspoken atheists out of sheer bull–headedness, or you are supremely arrogant in you assumption that because you are literally apologetic in your non–theism that you are somehow a better atheist.

Shame on you.

Until you officially retract your strawman attacks and blatant denial of a dialogue with your critics, I am removing Point of Inquiry from my links, and I recommend others do the same.

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Friday, July 27, 2007

Carnival Against Child abuse

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It's up at Wired for Noise

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Skepticality 57: it blows.

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I am just disappointed in the fallacies espoused by Dr. Hal Bidlack.

As the show notes state before the section with Bidlack, there is a wide mistaken equivocation of skepticism with atheism. Bidlack does it over and over again.

Everybody that equates "strong atheists" to evangelicals is not only mistaken, but delusional. He even uses the phrase "militant atheists."

Excuse me, Dr. Bidlack, but when was the last time a suicide bomber killed 30 people in the name of atheism? If an atheist approaches you about the inanity of thinking deism is really that far from theism, do you really think he or she is trying to "save" you? What from? A theist wants to save you from Hell, an actual Hell, in an afterlife. We strong atheists do not believe in the theist's hell.

It is not the strong atheist's perspective that deism is the same living hell that theism tricks people into. We have just noticed that theism does not really make anybody happy. When you hear that an atheist does not think deism is any better than theism, we are most likely referring to the fact that since there is no evidence of any god existing, to believe in a intervening god or a non-intervening god are equally fallacious. Epistemologically, the only difference between the foundation of deism and theism is that theism makes a second leap of faith from a non-intervening god to a intervening god.

Dr. Bidlack, you think that since you have halved the number of fallacies it took to believe in your god, then somehow that is less illogical. You are incorrect. You are using a fallacious tactic called "Greek Math," similar to "Relative Privation."

RELATIVE PRIVATION

To try to make a phenomenon appear good, by comparing it with a worse phenomenon, or to try to make a phenomenon appear bad, by comparing it with a better phenomenon. See GREEK MATH.

GREEK MATH

The inability to discriminate a scale delineating greater and lesser positives from a scale delineating greater and lesser negatives. This inability results in considering a lesser negative to be a positive. ("My government is a good government — because it’s not as bad as other governments.") I call it the Greek Math fallacy because the Greeks did not have the mathematical concept of zero — that which separates positive quantities from negative quantities.

In short, you have tried to convey the idea that since you are not as bad as this other guy, you're good. But that just does not follow. This is like saying that since you made half the number of mistakes in a math problem, then your answer is twice as "good." Wrong.

This turns you off? Tough cookies. I am not going to cojole you.

While we're at it, who apologized on your behalf, exactly? And to whom? I am tired of all these Ambiguous Collectives.

AMBIGUOUS COLLECTIVE

The use of a collective term without any meaningful delimitation of the elements it subsumes. "We," "you," "they," "the people," "the system," and "as a whole" are the most widely used examples. This fallacy is especially widespread and devastating in the realm of political discussion, where its use renders impossible the task of discriminating among distinctively different groups of people.

(The term "as a whole" is an assertion that a group of people somehow becomes an entity endowed with attributes other than those attributes possessed by an aggregate of individuals. It would be better to use the expression "composite" than "as a whole," as this preserves the awareness that the group is merely a collection of independent elements.)

We can never tell who you are actually talking about. Atheists you met at the convention? Most of the skeptics you met at the convention? Those who only call themselves skeptics and make these arguments? Those that explicitely state atheism and make these arguments? Pardon my attitude, but if you are not willing to make clear exactly who you are discussing, I am skeptical that you are even referring to a significantly large group of people in person at all; not enough to be bothered with as a threat, or to call a movement, much less deserving of the derision "militant" as if there were an army.

You say that some have said to you that because you are a deist, you are against theism and are therefore on the skeptics' side, then act as if this is an affront to your faith. Really, Dr. Bidlack, what is being pointed out here is that you are against religious extremism, and that is why you are on the skeptics' side. This is another example of the Greek Math fallacy, so you are correct in saying that the superficial differences between deism and theism do not an anti-theist make. However, you talk as if since this conclusion is drawn upon a logical fallacy, it somehow fits this straw–group you have built that is as extreme as the followers of the non–intervening god of which you disbelieve.

"… At TAM5, no less than three well–intentioned individuals" — Finally you actually declare exactly who you are talking about — "attempted to save me from my non–atheism — one of them even had pamphlets — and they did so with no less ardor than the religious zealots bring to their cause. …"

Oh no, they were enthusiastic, they were confident, call the generals and tell them to mount a counter–attack, aaiieeeeee!

Look here, Dr. Bidlack. What makes a zealot is the total inability to admit one is wrong even in the face of contrary evidence, and the willingness for physical violence in the name of one's ideal, and is often accompanied by reference of a symbol more than the principle it represents. Again, I ask you, where are the atheist suicide bombers, the atheist parents disowning their theist or deist children, the atheist protesters attacking the otherside and behaving as if the other side made them (happened at a gay rights rally)? Where are the atheist crusades?

Browse the several atheist forums out there, and you will find plenty of disagreements between each other on fine details, disagreements with and even resentment of Dawkins, Harris, Shermer, even Randi, Pinker, Dennet and Pigliucci. Is the "New Atheist" of which to you allude of such zeal as to put these leaders and symbols above their other thoughts? Certainly not.

Did you feel any such dangerous presence from these three atheists that in any way compared to religious fanatics we see every day on the news? Did the content of their arguments or the bearing of their character in any way say to you, "or else," (whether from the speakers themselves or some other authority) as is common when dealing with Christian Evangelicals and Radical Muslims? If not, then you are making quite a strawman of, and an insult to, whoever it was that had the courage to speak up for their beliefs in your personal space and not sit down and shut up as they have been told their whole lives. And if you did feel such a aura, then I must say you are likely delusional.

"I differ sharply in this, in that the key issue to me is god or no–god, not the form therein." — OK, then how come you care to be a deist rather than a theist? Were the difference a non–issue, you would take all the friends you can find in theism. And just seconds before, were you not complaining that atheists were too busy attacking you for believing in any god rather than in your particular god? Methinks it is the strong atheists you complain about that are more dismissive of the form of god(s) than you, Dr. Bidlack, even if they are more willing to explore details.

Before you introduce your speech at TAM–4, you repeat a phrase yet again: "non–atheism" How many times must we explain this to you?: atheism is not a belief, it is a lack of belief. It is no more an ideology than not–collecting–stamps is a hobby.

Do you know what set of axioms that the strong atheists you met are actually advocating? Empiricism. Your deism is not supported by evidence, a belief originating only from the innate, completely a priori. And so is discounted by empiricism. That is all. Your feeling that the universe is lorded over by some uncaring entity is not supported by any physical evidence left behind by that entity, nor does it even have the sympathetic appeal of just wanting the universe itself to have an innate purpose. Your belief is conveniently beyond testing, and so in itself is an asinine affront to the spirit of skepticism: evidence before belief.

What is wrong with skeptics not granting respect to a belief that does not rest on evidence and is therefore non–skeptical? I see none. Respect is earned, not granted, nor rewarded.

Just because we are unapologetic and honest in our employment of empiricism when it comes to the supernatural does not automatically mean that we are being negative or oppressive to that which is not founded by evidence (more Greek Math on your part).

After all, those atheist went to TAM just to listen to and meet guys like you, right? How negative is that, really?

It is not that in order to be a skeptic you must be an atheist. It is that atheism is a logical conclusion of empiricism. What we are disappointed in is that you apply skepticism to everything except to your religious leanings. It is because we see this as hypocrisy.

And do not act as if all atheists are educated enough to be able to name what is the causal philosophy that leads to their atheism. You have shown here no effort to really get into what we believe that leads to atheism.

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Yes!

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Success! I have installed Haloscan.

Now I will restart FireFox and see if it was an extension causing this strange error at HaloScan the whole time. Although I doubt it, since I had tried logging in in SafeMode the first time I had this problem, as well.

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Trying to Install Haloscan

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For the longest time, I've wanted to have HaloScan installed on my blog here. But for some reason, my login at haloscan.com has never worked. I sign in, and in the middle of the page, it says my username or password is incorrect. Yet on the right sidebar of the refreshed page, it says I am signed in and has a link to my profile. If I click this latter link, the page simply refreshes asking me to sign in.

I wrote into HaloScan about this problem, and after a couple of weeks only received an automated-looking email asking me to make sure I checked out the forums and the help pages, and then after that to submit more specific information for further help.

I repeated my information, and sent a reply. No reply ever came.

The passwords and usernames at HaloScan are case sensitive. To make sure I was doing things right, I did the "forgot your password?" scphiel and got my exact username(usernames, since I created a second account to make sure), and even armed with the correct inputs, I could not sign in.

Several weeks later, I was still having the same trouble. I sent in another new email, and I have never received a reply.

Being that today is Sunday and relatively lazy, while I was troubleshooting something else, I was in Firefox in SafeMode. On a whim, I tried to sign into Haloscan. I got the same initial problem, requested my password, and finally it worked.

I'm signed in, and I am about to try to install HaloScan. Mind you I'm still using a classic template, so if you're reading this you could see several bugs in the post footers until I get this right.

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COTG 71 is up.

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Go have a look at Aardvarchaeology!

Polytheistic antecedents, "metaphysics" an theists' equivocation, Kalamazoo college, and the futility of non-denominational prayer, etc.. Carnival of the Godless 71 is a short edition, but a good one, as always.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Hugo Gets it-- Why Don't You?

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Following my post about my father, as I am writing this I am going through an article by Hugo Schwyzer about workshops that attempt to teach men how not to be rapists.

The thread below this post has gotten sidetracked in a variety of typical ways. Noumena wrote:

'How to not get raped’ workshops are legion and often mandatory for new college students, but I’ve never heard of a `how not to become a rapist’ workshop, to say nothing of `having a healthy sex life at college on your own terms’.

And I mentioned that I've facilitated a variety of workshops that deal with these issues, though not with those titles. One workshop I helped design years ago, and which I would love to do again, was something we called "Consent and Beyond". Originally growing out of the work of Peer Sexuality Outreach at Cal, the workshop was designed to create honest discussion about how young people can communicate more effectively about desire, boundaries, limits, and, of course, consent.

Wow. You know, looking back at my life, I cannot remember meeting a single other man who was even remotely interested in trying to each other men how not to be rapists; but I remember many pretentious enough to lecture women on how to avoid rape or take part of the blame of date rape. In fact, I meet these men every single day. On the streets, in restaurants, on tv, on the internet, in the newspaper, in magazines. That puts us male feminists in front of a lot of resistence.

Just now, even before reading the rest of the article, regardless of how well he may actually conduct these workshops, just for doing it, Mr. Schwizer just became a hero to me.

When...

You know what? Just go read it for yourself. It's a damn good read.

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65th Skeptics' Circle

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Skeptics Circle #65 - A Tour Through the Museum of Skepticism

It's that time again. This week, Dr. Novella takes us through a tour of his spooky museum. Feast your eyes on the many wanders of useless medicines and regiments, the utter hopelessness of alternative medicine woo. Next, hold on to your butts as skeptics explain the flaws in diets such as Feingold to fix ADHD, or another diet to fix your brain. Then, oh, why not — what's a skeptics' circle without some chiropractic quackery?

That's just a preview, but be prepared for UFO's, bad debating, a tip to Saturn and aliens attack in your sleep!

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

41st Carnival of the Feminists

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Go give it a read!

Good stuff this edition. We've got reviews of Knocked Up, a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Frida Kahlo, lots more, and my favorite this week, a blog called Blogorrhea (hilarious!).

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

KGB Carnival is up

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The latest edition of the Kansas Guild of Bloggers is up at the Blog Meridian, and it looks like my fisking of Nisbet and Grothe may get some needed attention.

Know what I like about the KGB? The blog carnival and the blogroll are synchronous. We hardly have to pick and choose what we want to submit, so long as we ping blogrolling.com with every submission. Whoever the host is will just pick the best post or two since the last carnival. Beautiful.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

My Father, the Rape Apologist

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I spend way too much time on Reddit, when I should be posting to the many forums of which I hold membership. I really do. But I can not seem to get off of this addiction because I often get myself involved in comment threads where I can devend and act for a cause that I find more important than defending science or toleration for non-theists: I get to fight rape apologists and anti-feminists.

A few nights ago, I got to do the same thing against my father.

He asked me what I had done that was particularly interesting on the internet that day. So I answered. I told him about this case, in which a woman awoke to find a man she could not remember meeting having sex with her. Granting that she may have in fact consented drunkenly the night before, her charge of rape against the man is based on the fact that he was fucking her in her sleep. Because a sleeping person cannot consent, she considered it rape, even though when she screamed, asking who he was and for him to get off, he immediately did. The judge, in act of unnecessary sympathy for the defendent, banned any and all use of the words "rape" or even "sexual assault kit" from any use in the trial.

It is a ridiculous mandate because the jury knows very well it is a rape trial. There is no denying that sexual intercourse did occur. There is no possible defense that the man did not have sex with her. The allegation of rape is already made; just being on the jury does all the supposed prejudice there can possibly be. So what is the point of banning vocabulary outright? Under this judge's mandate, the lawyers cannot even use the offical name of a rape kit in their area. The jury can very well be educated on what a test means. If the sexual assault kit shows no evidence of violent rape, then that excludes violent rape forensically. The test is named after what it is tested for. There is nothing in the name of a test to prejudice the jurors, only the results.

Secondly, under the judge's all-encompassing mandate, not the prosecution nor the defense could verbally execute the following syllogism: "Miss, do you allege that the man had sex with you in your sleep? And you, we as the prosecution, hold that a non-concoius person (a sleeping person), cannot consent to sex? So you consider that rape. True?"

Following a syllogism or any other argument to it's natural conclusion is not prejudicial. If instead, the attorneys or the plaintiff said, "the rapist was having sex with me," or "I woke up and he was raping me," then that would be prejudicial, in the sense that it would be a circular argument.

But that kind of testimony and questioning is already against the rules of testimony. The judge's mandate is entirely superfluous, and does nothing but aid the defending in his argument that it was not rape, but "surprise sex."

I explained all this to my father, but what I really wanted to talk about was the reaction this got on Reddit, the tangents the rape apologists take, and the work I do to counter the constant apologetics that do attempt to justify the actions of convicted rapists and all kinds of prejudices against women, and ignoranct of human sexual rights. I was never able to get that far.

Old Dad would have none of it. Instead of really getting into whether or not the mandate was superfluous, my father would rather talk about the "grey areas" involved here. I present here some of his arguments against my alleged inexperience, ignorance, and immaturity on the subject, in no particular order relating to when he said them, but ordered none the less for easy-to-follow refutation on my part.

  1. I take it you've never had sex with a woman and woken up the next morning with her in bed with you.

  2. The assault kit can't really prove much because you never know what way the man was jabbing, and how rough they were the night before or what positions they tried.

  3. Sometimes you wake up in the morning and start to get going a little, and sometimes the woman is moaning and approving in her sleep, you never know.

  4. It's kind alike that Duke case, you know, there was no evidence to support her, her story changed, so you know she's probably one of those strippers that just got mad st something they did or said and afterwards called the police to call it rape.

  5. It's just when it comes to sex, there's a lot of grey areas, you know? Lots of grey areas that I think you just haven't experience enough of yet

My father didn't really listen to a single fucking word after he got all that out.

The obvious rebuttals are:

  1. So what? Really, what a crude attempt at conversational bullying. I don't know enough about sex and rape because I haven't had enough one night stands? Ridiculous. The "you've never been there" bullshit.

  2. The charges being made do not include a violent assault. The only discussion of rape kits involved in the trial were to explain that although the charge of rape necessarily requires forensic detectives to perform one, and the victim is aware that the test found no obvious signs of abuse, and the night before is not involved in the plaintiff's arguments for the charge, they have no real significance. The trial is about whether or not fucking somebody in their sleep is rape, not if it was violent or not.

  3. You never know, huh? How about this: You shakethe person, ask if they are awake, and do not do anything until you know they are fully conscious and aware! HOW HARD IS THAT?!

  4. The Duke trial has nothing to do with this, you asshole. That is a red herring, and you know it. The man here admits that he had sex with her the night before, and that in fact he was fucking her in her sleep. There is nothing here to be lied about. This charge is not ad hoc.

  5. For the last time, dad, this is not about sex, this is about rape. It is about consent, and no, it is not grey. Not at all.

Let me put this straight for my father, all the misogynists on Reddit, and anybody else who happens to read this.

Being knocked out, passed out, or asleep counts as unconscious. Prodding somebody in the morning is not engaging a conscious person. They are not fully aware. Sub-conscious is not the same as conscious. Just as you can't fuck a person who's passed out, you can't fuck a person who is asleep. Unconsciousness rescinds constent instantly, no if's, and's, or but's. No grey area here, regardless of how you say you felt when your let your allegedly let your sex drive do the thinking for you.

Rape is not just sexual contact in spite of a "no" — Going without an explicit, conscious, and non-coerced "yes" is enough. Lack of consent does imply rape. Absolutely.

Forcing sex on a person, or fucking them in their sleep until they say "no" with enough assertion to stop you does not mean that your actions against their will are erased retroactively, just as apologists argue that somebody cannot take away consent retroactively. Any person who thinks otherwise, including your parent, your sibing, your child, etc. is a hypocrit.



Until next time, I'm Aerik, your resident science enthusiast, unapologetic atheist, and very proud feminist.

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

My New Buddies

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A new blog just came to my attention. It's called the Scientific Worldview.

<Joey>Whoa!</Joey>

The blog belongs to Glenn Borchardt, and it is based off of his book. The first chapter is available at the book's website, and so far I like what I am seeing.

This is one book I'm just going to have to read, more than once, and you can bet I will present my opinions on it here.




In other news, It's been several days since I installed the MapLoco map at the bottom of my blog, and I am happy to see that I have the occasional reader from India, New Zealand, Iceland, Greenland, UK, Australia, and Canada, as well as all over the USA. I give a shout out to my international readers!

Edit: And Italy!

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Friday, July 13, 2007

All the Reasons Matt Nisbet and DJ Grothe Are Wrong

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A few weeks ago, Matt Nisbet and DJ Grothe made complete asses of themselves. They made strawmen of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, and committed quite obvoiusly the excluded middle fallacy.

The first lie was right off the bat. Nisbet said that Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens repeatedly shout the mantra "Atheism is a civil rights issue." — this is simply not true. It's not true about their books, and so far as anybody can tell (and this is millions of witnesses), it is not true of their lectures, emails, or casual conversations.

Ebon demonstrates that even in the comments of his own article, Nisbet repeated his claim that atheist bashing does not occur.

To our knowledge, there is no such thing as "atheist bashing." If there were cases of such harm, one would expect to hear about them in the media and the courts, or at least in the common knowledge of unbelievers. So, where are the cases? On many occasions we have put this question to leaders in the nonreligious community and have never been presented with a single compelling example.

In an email conversation with Ebon in the article linked above, Nisbet retracts this claim that atheist bashing never occurs, but denies that he has modified his at all.

He first says there is "no such thing" and not "a single compelling example", then says that "of course, atheists have suffered discrimination". I think any reasonable person would view this as a blatant contradiction.

All dishonesty about what they actually said put aside, allow me to present to you All the Reasons Matt Nisbet and DJ Grothe Are Wrong

  1. The owner of a coffee shop near Birmingham, Ala., has banned members of a secular group for atheists, agnostics, and other questioners from meeting in her cafe. The Universist Movement is claiming Christian persecution, while Cool Beans owner Amy Anderson says she's only trying to maintain order in her business.

    &#x2026;

    "My first thought was that this is a potential red flag—this group could be disruptive if they met," says Anderson. "Also, the sheer number could be disruptive, regardless of whether they are courteous and good patrons or not."

    Perhaps not quite as severe as the civil rights movement, but is this really much different than telling the negros to move along in spite of their good manners and revenue they could bring in?

  2. Citations for discrimination against the irreligious or less religious:
    • Blevins v. Bardwell, 784 So. 2d 166, 175 (Miss. 2001)
    • Staggs v. Staggs, 2005 WL 1384525 (Miss. App.)
    • Brekeen v. Brekeen, 880 So. 2d 280, 282 (Miss. 2004)
    • Turner v. Turner, 824 So. 2d 652, 655-56 (Miss. App. 2002)
    • Pacheco v. Pacheco, 770 So. 2d 1007, 1011 (Miss. App. 2000)
    • Weigand v. Houghton, 730 So.2d 581 (Miss. 1999)
    • Johnson v. Gray, 859 So. 2d 1006, 1014-15 (Miss. 2003)
    • McLemore v. McLemore, 762 So. 2d 316 (Miss. 2000)
    • Hodge v. Hodge, 188 So. 2d 240 (Miss. 1966)
    • Johns v. Johns, 918 S.W.2d 728 (Ark. App. 1996)
    • Ark. Sup. Ct. admin. order no. 15 (enacted 1999)
    • Peacock v. Peacock, 903 So.2d 506, 513-14 (La. App. 2005)
    • Pahal v. Pahal, 606 So. 2d 1359, 1362 (La. App. 1992)
    • Ulvund v. Ulvund, 2000 WL 33407372 (Mich. App.)
    • Mackenzie v. Cram, 1998 WL 1991050 (Mich. App.)
    • Jimenez v. Jimenez, 1996 WL 33347958 (Mich. App.)
    • Jonhston v. Plessel, 2004 WL 384143 (Minn. Ct. App.)
    • In re Storlein, 386 N.W.2d 812 (Minn. Ct. App. 1986)
    • McAlister v. McAlister, 747 A.2d 390, 393 (Pa. Super. 2000)
    • Thomas v. Thomas, 739 A.2d 206, 213 (Pa. Super. 1999)
    • Gancas v. Schultz, 683 A.2d 1207 (Pa. Super. 1996)
    • Scheeler v. Rudy, 2 Pa. D. & C. 3d 772, 780 (Com. Pl. 1977)
    • Shainwald v. Shainwald, 395 S.E.2d 441, 446 (S.C. App. 1990)
    • Hulm v. Hulm, 484 N.W.2d 303, 305 & n.* (S.D. 1992)
    • In re Davis, 30 S.W.3d 609 (Tex. Ct. App. 2000)
    • Snider v. Grey, 688 S.W.2d 602, 611 (Tex. Ct. App. 1985)
    • In re F.J.K., 608 S.W.2d 301 (Tex. Ct. App. 1980)
    • In re Marriage of Moorhead, 224 N.W.2d 242, 244 (Iowa 1974)
    • Ahlman v. Ahlman, 267 N.W.2d 521, 523 (Neb. 1978)
    • Dean v. Dean, 232 S.E.2d 470, 471-72 (N.C. App. 1977)
    • Robert O. v. Judy E., 90 Misc.2d 439, 442 (N.Y. Fam. Ct. 1977)
    Citations for discrimination against people who are seen as too religiously fundamentalist:
    • Collier v. Collier, 14 Phila. 129 (Pa. Ct. Common Pleas 1985)
    • Waites v. Waites, 567 S.W.2d 326 (Mo. 1978)
    • Stolarick v. Novak, 584 A.2d 1034 (Pa. Super. 1991)
    • In re Marriage of Epperson, 107 P.3d 1268 (Mont. 2005).

    Isn't a divorce court a civil matter (well not really civil court, but it sure as hell ain't federal nor is it insignificant in the couple's lives by any means)? Doesn't that make all those cases examples of people's civil rights to not be discriminated against on religious grounds being violated? How much different is this, really, than if only the Hindo parent could gain custody or have visitation rights, or just the white parent? Not much.

    In fact, I think the Constitution pretty much guarantees that religious discrimination in court is against a person's federal rights, so it's even worse than civil.

    Assholes.

  3. The Smalkowski case attracted national attention after Nicole Smalkowski was kicked off of the girls' basketball team after refusing to stand in a circle with her teammates on the gymnasium floor of the Hardesty public High School and recite the "Lord's Prayer." After school officials learned that she and her family were Atheists, lies were created about her as grounds to take her off of the team.

    When her father Chuck discovered conclusively that public school and law enforcement officials had lied to him about his 15 year old daughter, he and Nicole and her mother Nadia went to the home of principal Lloyd Buckley to attempt to discuss the matter with him. Outside of his front fence, the principal struck Chuck, who blocked the blow. Both men fell to the ground and Buckley sustained minor injuries, the provable origins of which were strikingly contrary to his under oath trial testimony. Buckley then took out misdemeanor criminal assault charges against Chuck.

    On June 22, 2006, after only a little over two and a half hours of deliberation, a span of time that included dinner, the jury found Chuck "Not Guilty" of the felony charge of assault and of two lesser included misdemeanor assault charges.

    A guy strikes an atheist, then charges him with assault. That's a pretty blatant use of a guy trying to abuse the court system to put a felony on an atheist's record simply for refusing to be discriminated against. While the jury unamimously sided for the atheist, the very fact that the police, knowing the principal struck the blow and not the atheist, sided with the principle and arrested the athehist, is very clearly a case of an atheist being discriminated against by the law.

    Dicks.

  4. It was bad enough when Army chaplains and leaders like Chief of the National Guard Bureau Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum were disparaging atheists in the press. It was bad enough when my formal EO complaint was thrown away by the National Guard Bureau EO office. It was bad enough when the Department of the Army Inspector General’s office refused to follow regulations and send me a written response to my formal EO complaint. It was bad enough when I had to file for documents pertaining to my complaint under the Freedom of Information Act to discover its disposition. It was bad enough when those documents revealed that, despite the unlawful discrimination that had occurred according to Army Regulation 600-20, the Army concluded that "Lt. Gen. Blum’s remarks, though perhaps insensitive, did not rise to the level of an offense".

    Now the Army National Guard is telling its unit level Equal Opportunity representatives that it is OK to discriminate against atheists. They are using my formal EO complaint as a training scenario in which a Lieutenant files a formal EO complaint against a general officer for claiming that there are no atheists in foxholes. The Sergeant Major who conducted the EO training for Ohio’s unit level EO reps told them that "since atheism is not a religion, atheists are not protected by the regulation and it is acceptable for officers and chaplains to disparage their own soldiers". This is, of course, a fallacy. To discriminate against a soldier because he has no religion is still discrimination on the basis of religion. The Army’s position on this is like saying that discriminating against someone because they are black is illegal, but discriminating against someone because they are "not white" is fine.

    When the military begins to discriminate atheists, if it becomes entirely Christian in nature, you know very well that massively more severe attacks on atheists' civil rights will follow. Not a civil rights issue? Puh-lease.

  5. Paul Mirecki professor (and former chairman) of the University of Kansas Department of Religious Studies, reported that he was attacked by two men at about 6:30 AM on last Monday, 05/12/05. As one may observe from the link above, Panda's Thumb has to date not discussed this issue beyond merely mentioning that it occurred. This was the result of considerable debate, hundreds of emails- many very heated, amongst the dozen or so of us who are regular contributors to the Thumb.

    The religious right was not so restrained. Within hours, "conservatives" were claiming that Mirecki's report was false and that his injuries were faked Mirecki hospitalized after beating. Within two days William Dembski promoted the idea that Mirecki had faked the attack. The website Dembski directed his readers to also held the possibility that Mirecki was a drug addict and/or drug dealer;

    Comment by Sean — Wed 7 Dec 2005 – 6:39 am

    I think it's most likely that he was beat up for some completely different reason, which would have been embarrassing, or even incriminating, for him to admit. A drug deal, perhaps.

    Without any supporting evidence at all, or time to reflect, right-wing zealots began braying about Tawana Brawley and Al Sharpton, and comparing Mirecki with Kerri Francis Dunn. We have seen the far right employ this technique so often it is now known as "swift boating." I am reminded of the advice provided to the Army's Airborne Rangers if captured, "Admit nothing, Deny everything, Make counter-accusations."

    While the two culprits who assaulted Mr. Mirecki were never apprehended or identified, the backlash that seemed to be all against Mr. Mirecki is very telling. When people start blaming you for your own discrimination, that is a serious problem. Were the backlash so severe that police did not listen to Mr. Mirecki at all, that would be a concrete example of non-theist's civil rights being infringed upon. And if we had some lawyers good at doing research, I bet we can find plenty of cases where that does happen. Oh, wait, I don't have to bother. We have the Smallowski case.

  6. Arkansas State Constitution, Article 19 Section 1 ("Miscellaneous Provisions") No person who denies the being of a God shall hold any office in the civil departments of this State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any court.

    Maryland's Declaration of Rights, Article 36 "That as it is the duty of every man to worship God in such manner as he thinks most acceptable to Him, all persons are equally entitled to protection in their religious liberty; wherefore, no person ought by any law to be molested in his person or estate, on account of his religious persuasion, or profession, or for his religious practice, unless, under the color of religion, he shall disturb the good order, peace or safety of the State, or shall infringe the laws of morality, or injure others in their natural, civil or religious rights; nor ought any person to be compelled to frequent, or maintain, or contribute, unless on contract, to maintain, any place of worship, or any ministry; nor shall any person, otherwise competent, be deemed incompetent as a witness, or juror, on account of his religious belief; provided, he believes in the existence of God, and that under His dispensation such person will be held morally accountable for his acts, and be rewarded or punished therefore either in this world or in the world to come."

    Massachusetts' State Constitution, Article 3 "Any every denomination of Christians, demeaning themselves peaceably, and as good subjects of the commonwealth, shall be equally under the protection of the law: and no subordination of any one sect or denomination to another shall ever be established by law." Comment: Apparently Non-Christians are not "equally under the protection of the law".

    Mississippi State Constitution. Article 14 ("General Provisions"), Section 265 No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office in this state.

    North Carolina's State Constitution, Article 6 Section 8 "Disqualifications of office. The following persons shall be disqualified for office: First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God."

    Pennsylvania's State Constitution, Article 1 Section 4 "No person who acknowledges the being of a God and a future state of rewards and punishments shall, on account of his religious sentiments, be disqualified to hold any office or place of trust or profit under this Commonwealth."

    South Carolina's State Constitution, Article 4 Section 2 "No person shall be eligible to the office of Governor who denies the existence of the Supreme Being; ..." Note: If you continue reading you will find that (in Section 8) the Lieutenant Governor must also meet the same qualifications as the Governor.

    Tennessee's State Constitution, Article 9 Section 2 "No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this state."

    Texas' State Constitution, Article 1 Section 4 "No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall any one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being."

    Fear the day that a conservative Supreme Court (like the current one) decides that, like the Liutenant Adkins, it is ok to discriminate against atheists because they do not have a church, and all these laws come into effect. How can atheism not be a civil rights issue when states have laws banning us from our civil right to be elected to office?

Sources

  1. "Religion in America: Atheists claim discrimination" By Caroline Hsu; Posted [8 / 2 / 05], usnews.com
  2. "Discrimination Against Atheists" by Eugene Volokh, [August 29, 2005 at 3:16pm]
  3. "Smalkowski Found Not Guilty On All Counts" by American Atheists, Inc. [Web Posted: June 26, 2006]
  4. "Army to EO 'Reps: Discrimination Against Atheists OK' " by Wayne Adkins [April 29, 2007], americanchronicle.com
  5. "They Have No Shame" by Gary Hurd posted Entry 1778 on [December 17, 2005 07:10 PM], PandasThumb.org
  6. "State Constitutions that Discriminate Against Atheists" by The Atheists of Silicon Valley, date unknown

Edit: Fixed one cite attribute url, one capitalization issue.

Edit: Rewrote first 2 paragraphs to reflect change in drafts from discussing only Nisbet to discussin both Nisbet and Grothe.

Edit: changed one cite into tinyURL so that non-IE browsers that can display the cite attribute in block quotes do not have error in displaying it due to overflow.

Edit: Changed encoding issues to render as valid xhtml.

Edit: One bad ctrl+h replacement error.

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Atheist in a mini van.: P-momma's jukebox.

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Atheist in a mini van.: P-momma's jukebox.

Now you know what she probably wanted to listen to on her marriage anniversary. I'm just guessing people like to psyche themselves up with their favorite music on such occasions..

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Message From Your Fellow Man

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10 Things Men Can Do To End Men's Violence Against Women

  1. Acknowledge and understand how sexism, male dominance and male privilege lay the foundation for all forms of violence against women.
  2. Examine and challenge our individual sexism and the role that we play in supporting men who are abusive.
  3. Recognize and stop colluding with other men by getting out of our socially defined roles, and take a stance to end violence against women.
  4. Remember that our silence is affirming. When we choose not to speak out against men’s violence, we are supporting it.
  5. Educate and re-educate our sons and other young men about our responsibility in ending men’s violence against women.
  6. "Break out of the man box"- Challenge traditional images of manhood that stop us from actively taking a stand to end violence against women.
  7. Accept and own our responsibility that violence against women will not end until men become part of the solution to end it. We must take an active role in creating a cultural and social shift that no longer tolerates violence against women.
  8. Stop supporting the notion that men’s violence against women can end by providing treatment for individual men. Mental illness, lack of anger management skills, chemical dependency, stress, etc… are only excuses for men’s behavior. Violence against women is rooted in the historic oppression of women and the outgrowth of the socialization of men.
  9. Take responsibility for creating appropriate and effective ways to develop systems to educate and hold men accountable.
  10. Create systems of accountability to women in your community. Violence against women will end only when we take direction from those who understand it most, women.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Belation

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I just have to belatedly give a shout out to my friend Possum Momma aka scarlett75, to say...

Happy Anniversary!!!

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MSNBC Strawdogs Atheists Next

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Big News is at it again, doing interviews about atheists with anti-atheists. This time, the culprit is MSNBC's Tucker Carlson. Take a look. This asshole writes a book called "the atheist bible," and rather than recognize the obvious strawman, MSNBC jumps all over it so they can act like atheism is a religion too.

If I see this at youtube or somewhere else, I'll embed it in a new post.

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New Design!

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As you may notice, my blog is now partially table-based, with two sidebars! This means I have lots more room for new widgets on the left and right, and I hope to find some to put there.

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Saturday, July 07, 2007

New Widget

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First I ripped off the atheist blogroll from MoJoey (with his permission), but now I'm really being cheap about not coming up with my own ideas and stealing from MoJoey and I have inserted the Ekstreme Socializer so you can put my website to whatever social bookmark site that you want.



Thanks Joe!

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Call me suspcious, but...

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this site rouses my skepticism. It's a nubile search engine for science videos that is alleged to be monitored by real scientists and engineers to guarantee accuracy. The engineers part is what sets off my alarm. It reminds me of that one Intelligent Design petition that was supposed to have thousands of scientists' signatures on it, but had more like a couple hundred engineers' signatures instead. And engineers just aren't scientists, so it was really bogus, so this seems bogus to me, too.

Science hack is an alpha, so far, so I guess we will just have to watch it.

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