Oh, Is It Blasphemy Day?

Taking enmellishment’s advice:

  • I don’t pay a lot of attention to these events.
  • Nonetheless, if you think your belief is sooooo much awesomer than the thousands or millions of competing beliefs out there, let it stand up on its own without government protection.
  • Religion is a propped-up means of saying “STFU! I’m better than you!”
  • Rebecca Watson has been awesome in the way she handled “Elevatorgate” from beginning to, well, now at least. I doubt that will change by the time it ends.
  • It is highly amusing that the principles of radical feminism are still considered radical.
  • Anger, sarcasm, insults, and mockery can all be very powerful tools.
  • Power tools require skill and practice to use, because they can make a bloody mess.
  • A stereotype is not scientific evidence. There is no “extraordinary claim” requiring mountains of proof inherent in sneering at a stereotype.
  • IQ is in large part a measure of institutional competence.
  • Social sciences frequently require far more scientific competence than “hard” sciences because they tackle more complex subject matter.
  • Everyone (yes, even you) is irrational about, not just something, but far more than they’d ever stop to consider.
  • Government is a requirement for civilization on this scale.
  • Politics is a tool and not a tool of Satan.
  • The evidence says that Ron Paul is a hard-core racist who’s merely learned to shut up about it.
  • Marriage is not and never has been–not even in the 1950s–one man and one woman. Nor has it ever been forever. Marriage laws only dictate what marriage looks like from the outside for those in the middle class, and they’re not very good at that.
  • Porn can be pretty cool.
  • The answer to “No” is not “Pleeeeeze” or “La La La La La La” for anyone over the age of eight.
  • There is a cat in another room who is gearing up to die, though she may last quite some time. I’m pretty sure that’s more important than blogging right now.

 

The Point of Exorcism

Via Jason comes a story of a young woman dying during a Buddhist exorcism.

“They allegedly strapped the victim to a chair with belts and doused her face with water,” he said.

She was confirmed dead early the next day when her mother called an ambulance after the girl fell unconscious.

“The cause of death is suffocation,” the police official said.

News reports said the two men poured water over her as an “exorcism” with the father holding the girl down while the monk chanted sutras.

Reports said the girl’s parents had turned to the monk after the youngster had suffered several years of mental and physical ill health that doctors had not been able to resolve.

It’s ugly. It’s tragic. It is also, essentially, the point of exorcism.

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File Under: More Liars for Jesus

You know that kid in Texas, the one who had his First Amendment rights abridged in school?

“Dakota is a very well-grounded 14-year-old,” she told Fox News Radio noting that her son is an honors student, plays on the football team and is active in his church youth group. “He’s been in church his whole life and he’s been taught to stand up for what he believes.”

And that’s what got him in trouble.

Dakota was in a German class at the high school when the conversation shifted to religion and homosexuality in Germany. At some point during the conversation, he turned to a friend and said that he was a Christian and “being a homosexual is wrong.”

“It wasn’t directed to anyone except my friend who was sitting behind me,” Dakota told Fox. “I guess [the teacher] heard me. He started yelling. He told me he was going to write me an infraction and send me to the office.”

Maybe you heard about that and had some concern about balancing human decency and freedom of speech (which is already abridged in schools). Maybe you felt some sympathy for a teacher who went too far. Me? I said, “Really?” and turned to Google.

It turns out that the answer is “No, not really,” and despite that, the teacher could be facing discipline.

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A Good Reason to Be Left Behind

Assuming all that rapture practice (yes, really) hasn’t paid off and you haven’t been bodily lifted into Heaven, you might want to save the evening of October 22.

On May 21st, 1988, the ground quaked, planes fell from the sky, flames roared over the Earth, and heathens repented in their last remaining seconds. Er, wait. On September 7th, 1994, virulent outbreaks devastated entire populations, continents were swallowed by the oceans, trumpets sounded… Um. On May 21st, 2011, boils… Hmm. Well, there’s another rapture penciled in the calendar of Harold Camping, the Family Radio host who made the previous judgement day predictions. October 21st, 2011 is now Camping’s “real” rapture prediction, or at least his most current. Come celebrate this non-event the day after with fellow atheists, heathens, and curious left-behinders at The Rapture II: We’re Still Here, Saturday, October 22nd at the 400 Bar. Get your tickets in advance for $8 or $10 at the door the day of. Part of the proceeds will go to the MN Atheists to the fund of their choosing, so come have some sinister fun and benefit your favorite non-profit at the same time. For those who have been baptized without your consent, Eric Jayne will be taking care of that with his debaptism kit (a hairdryer) and a certificate to prove your non-religious authenticity. And for those who have been circumcised without your consent—well, you have our condolences.

The Minneapolis Burlesque and Cabaret Social Club has a list of the burlesque performers, and those are some names worth seeing. The Facebook event is here, in case you want to find out whether your friends are going. If they’re not, ask them. This is the second of these events, and everyone I know who went to the first had a blast.

The Dawning of the Age of Female Leadership

PZ is talking about underrepresentation of women in the movement again. A piece recently came out in Bitch Magazine, reprinted in the Guardian, pointing out that maintaining the male face of modern, movement atheism requires quite a bit of forgetting about the women who got things rolling and have kept them moving ever since. PZ agrees and points out that, with all that talent, solving the problem is much easier than continuing to wring hands over it.

The comments, as usual when this topic comes up, are mostly a mishmash of “Prove there’s a problem to my satisfaction or STFU,” repeated attempts to bash that information through thick skulls, venting of frustration over the impossibility of the task, and side chatter. There are a few people saying very sensible things that don’t require any reply, and a few others saying, “But how do we make this happen?” That last one, at least, I can answer.

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Those Damned Lesbian Terrorists

My husband and I are…well, we’re one of those “cute” couples you see out and about. We hold hands walking to work. We make eyes at each other over dinner in restaurants.  And we definitely snog on airplanes.

Somehow, however, we’ve missed out on the experience of being kicked off a plane for doing so.

Former “The L Word” star Leisha Hailey complained in a stream of Twitter messages on Monday that she and a girlfriend were kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight in a dispute over their kissing on a plane.

Hailey, 40, tweeted that a flight attendant had told her that Southwest “was a ‘family’ airline and kissing was not ok,” and that she and her companion were then “escorted off the plane for getting upset about the issue.”

As with pretty much every incident of this sort over the last decade, this embarrassment for the airline came about because their representatives were willing to step up and harass minority passengers on behalf of provincial idiots who think it’s their god-given right to never spend one uncomfortable moment in their lives.

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Bachmann Aided by Pastor…Again

In 2006, Mac Hammond endorsed Michele Bachmann from the pulpit of his megachurch. In 2008, she spoke from the pulpit at his Living Word Christian Center. On Sunday, he went further yet.

Hammond, senior pastor of Living Word Christian Center in Brooklyn Park, told his 9,000-member congregation Sunday that he is joining Bachmann’s team, “working with her political campaign.”

Hammond, audited by the Internal Revenue Service in 2008 after letting Bachmann speak at his Brooklyn Park megachurch, emphasized he is acting on a “personal basis” and not in his capacity as Living Word’s pastor.

“Of course, my tightrope is this has to be done on a personal basis,” Hammond said in a video of his remarks posted on the church’s website. He noted that his church could not formally endorse her without jeopardizing its tax-exempt status.

It is a tightrope indeed. The IRS audit was halted on a technicality having to do with how the agency interacts with churches, leaving the original issue–whether the political use of Hammond’s position met the requirements for the church’s tax-exempt status–undecided. It’s also a tightrope Hammond may have already fallen off of by announcing his intentions on the church’s web site.

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Skepticism Serving Broader Audiences

Today, I came across three posts that highlighted what people are talking about when they say we need to broaden the scope of skepticism if we want to reach new audiences. Two of these posts are aimed at groups you’ll see underrepresented at Drinking Skeptically events and skeptic conferences, and one demonstrates how useful it can be to know that our brains fool us. I come across posts like this all the time, but seeing so many today, I had to collect them in one place.

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