Still not clear on the concept

France24.com is reporting a somewhat surprising and unfortunate trend in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo murders: a lot of French people are on the terrorists’ side when it comes to whether or not it should be legal to draw Mohammed.

The recent attack by Islamic extremists at the offices of Charlie Hebdo that killed 12 people in apparent revenge for publishing cartoons of Mohammed has led to a fierce defence of France’s freedom of speech laws by politicians, media and millions of French citizens – including at a huge unity march in Paris on January 11.

But an Ifop poll published in France’s Journal du Dimanche (Sunday Journal) paints a much more divided picture of French attitudes towards what is considered a key facet of the country’s republican values…

Half of those questioned also said they believed there should be “limitations on free speech online and on social networks”.

This is not just unclear on the concept, it is dangerously unclear on the concept.

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Lying about Heaven for fun and profit.

I bet this will come as a shock.

Nearly five years after it hit best-seller lists, a book that purported to be a 6-year-old boy’s story of visiting angels and heaven after being injured in a bad car crash is being pulled from shelves. The young man at the center of The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven, Alex Malarkey, said this week that the story was all made up.

Oh, you knew that already?

Pope flees from act of God

Pope Francis was in the Philippines, attempting to comfort victims of a catastrophic storm, but his visit (and his comfort) were cut short by what insurance companies like to call “an act of God.”

Pope Francis was forced Saturday to flee a fierce storm in the Philippines that killed a papal volunteer, cutting short a mercy mission to weeping survivors of a catastrophic super typhoon…

Francis delivered an emotional mass to about 200,000 people in the typhoon-ravaged central Philippine city of Tacloban.

However, plans to spend the entire day in Tacloban and nearby areas that were devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan 14 months ago were ruined by another storm, forcing him to fly back to Manila at lunchtime.

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That rules out the Gospel then

Pope Francis puts in his two denarius’ worth on Charlie Hebdo.

Pope Francis on Thursday condemned killing in God’s name but warned religion could not be insulted, weighing into a global debate on free speech ahead of a rapturous welcome in the Philippines…

“If a good friend speaks badly of my mother, he can expect to get punched, and that’s normal. You cannot provoke, you cannot insult other people’s faith, you cannot mock it,” he said.

If a man smite you on your right cheek, offer him your left also. But if he insults your mother, POW!

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Unclear on the concept

One of many things wrong with the Charlie Hebdo attack was the fact that it was an attempt, by terrorists, to impose censorship on a free press. Of course, that’s not surprising. You’d almost expect terrorists to be opposed to freedom of speech. If you’re not a cynic, though, you might not expect this:

French comedian Dieudonne was arrested on Wednesday for being an “apologist for terrorism” after writing a Facebook comment suggesting he sympathised with one of the Paris attacks gunmen, a judicial source said.

Which is worse than pursuing the same goals as the terrorists, right? [Read more…]

Women leaders? What women leaders?

Isn’t this charming.

Yesterday’s historic march across Paris included over 40 world leaders expressing solidarity for France after the Charlie Hebdo massacre, but if you read this Haredi newspaper, you’d believe that none of them were women.

The image that ran on the front page of the Israeli newspaper The Announcer edited two female world leaders out of the image, originally provided by wire service GPO…

Among those purged from the photograph were German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo. If God had meant for women to be leaders, he would have given them penises, eh?

Courage

A terrorist attack happens in America. America responds by installing machines that can see through your clothes and making all air travelers expose themselves to either that or a good groping. Then the government institutes a massive, unaccountable spy campaign against all its citizens. Plus it tortures helpless prisoners, regardless of whether or not they are in fact connected to terrorism in any way. And it establishes a policy of “state secrets” that essentially deny any possibility of democratic supervision of the government’s activities.

A terrorist attack happens in France. Millions of French citizens gather in the streets, without metal detectors, x-ray machines or frisking, declaring “Fear shall not rule.”

I think the land of the free and the home of the brave is now somewhere else.

The Second Coming

I’ve always said that, as a skeptic, I am willing to believe whatever is most consistent with the verifiable evidence, even if it contradicts beliefs I have long cherished. That commitment has probably never been challenged as strongly as it was the day Jesus did come back, as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and, well, President of Presidents.

That was a shock, I must say, but seeing him on CNN and Fox News (of course) and even Al Jazeera, I had to face the evidence and admit that he was really real. God the Son had come down from heaven to dwell among men, and even the most die-hard skeptics had to agree. Fortunately (as he explained later), the Revelation prophecies were misunderstood predictions about Christian persecution in the Roman Empire, so we didn’t have a bunch of terrible calamities to worry about. But still, just having him be there, and be real, was a great shock.

The Christians, of course, were jubilant, or at least, at first they were. For the first few days, you couldn’t turn on a television or go to a news outlet on the web without some believer or another sitting there smugly wagging their fingers and telling us all, “See? We told you so.” Even people like Richard Dawkins were only on long enough to sheepishly admit they’d been mistaken. The Christians had all the microphones and camera time.

And then came the audience with the Pope.

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Fun with Santa

Re-posted from Evangelical Realism, 5 Dec 2007

Was Santa Claus a part of your childhood? He was definitely a big part of mine (bigger than Jesus for most of my very-young days, in fact). It was only natural, then, that my wife and I would want Santa to be part of our kids’ childhood as well. But therein lies the dilemma: Santa is not real, and we didn’t want to lie to our kids. So we found a way to have fun with Santa, without ever lying about him.

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A rare gem

Here’s something you don’t see very often: a genuine apology.

We have heard the complaints about this issue and are listening carefully to the reactions with grave concern.

We could go on all day about our intentions for the issue and the character of Dagger Type, and what our goals were and weren’t. But, our intentions do not invalidate the legitimate reactions that some have had to this story. Those reactions are honest and heartfelt, and exist regardless of our creative intentions, and we don’t wish to dismiss them.

Instead, we want to acknowledge the hurt and offense that we’ve caused, and express our sincerest apologies. We’re all deeply troubled by the reaction to this issue and have made it a point of serious discussion amongst ourselves. While we expected a degree of controversy in regard to the issues of identity and the artistic process that this story was meant to evoke, we do now realize that our presentation of this character was flawed, for any elements whatsoever of the story to have reminded readers of the sordid and misguided tropes that associate both drag and gender expression with duplicity.

We deeply regret upsetting readers who placed their trust in us. But were indebted to those who stand up to speak out about their perspective on stories like this their commentary leads to universally better storytelling, from both ourselves and others, and we hope to live up to that standard in the future.

No blaming the people they offended. Honest acknowledgement of flaws, errors, and regret. Even outright thanks to the people who stood up and voiced their protests. Well done, Batgirl team!

You can read the background to this controversy here: UPDATE: DC Comics Team Apologizes For Homophobia In “Batgirl” #37.