You Don’t Speak for Me

After posting about a female version of Schroedinger’s Rapist this week, I was contacted by a male reader. He had something he wanted to share, and I agreed to give him a wider platform. Be aware that all the names have been withheld or changed.

Whenever the subject of women being victims of unwanted sexual advances, contact, or intercourse is blogged about, invariably a man chimes in with “But about the MENZ!!!1!” Many times this evolves into a tu quoque argument about how men can be the victims of unwanted sexual aggression from women. They almost always ignore the statistics that show women are more often the victims of men, and even men are more often the victims of other men. They also seem to ignore the obvious logical fallacy that just because both sides do it, it doesn’t mean it’s not a problem for women victims. When the idea of a Schrödinger’s Rapist is brought about, there’s usually a trove of men who rush into not only assert that men are victims too, but that men don’t view women as potential attackers, so it must be women who are over reacting.

I have serious doubts that the men who bring this argument up have any personal experience with unwanted sexual experiences with women. It’s clear in their comments that they have no idea what it is like to be in a situation where a women has taken advantage of a man.

I do. [Read more…]

Well, I’ve Got My Rights

I find religion boring, when I don’t find it laughably bizarre or dangerously authoritarian. There’s a whole lot of nothing there, and I just can’t make myself pay attention for very long.

There. Blasphemy Day done. Check.

Except today isn’t actually Blasphemy Day. It’s Blasphemy Rights Day International, and me exercising my rights in this part of the world doesn’t do much to change the situation in the rest of the world. It doesn’t free any “blasphemers” from jail. It doesn’t stop them from being executed. It doesn’t even stop them from being legally discriminated against.

That isn’t a slam against people who participate in Blasphemy Day. Maintaining our rights is important to, and having any broader impact–or even knowing how to try–isn’t always easy. Luckily, the Center for Inquiry, which helped start the day, is on the case. [Read more…]

Petition to the Secular Coalition

Update: Justin Vacula has resigned his position as co-chair. The petition to remove him is no longer necessary, and I congratulate him on making the right move for the Secular Coalition.

By now you’ve heard that Justin Vacula has been named one of the co-chairs of the Pennsylvania chapter of the Secular Coalition for America. You may be among the people who are upset about this appointment. If you are, a petition has been started that will hopefully represent your concerns.

"Wrong Way" traffic sign.

“wrong way” by kag2u. Some rights reserved.

We urge the Secular Coalition of America to reverse the appointment of Justin Vacula as co-chair of the executive council of the Pennsylvania chapter. We believe that Vacula is unfit for this leadership position for the following reasons.

1. He has engaged in extreme behavior, including harassment, in opposing feminists within the secular movement that does not befit a leader and does not promote broad participation in the movement.

2. He has, at the same time, minimized harassment as a problem within the movement and broader community.

3. He has spoken publicly and incorrectly on legal matters in a way that would be counterproductive in a lobbyist.

4. He has used his current leadership position as a tool for his personal causes, including personal grievances.

Much of this behavior has happened in venues the SCA may not be aware of. However, it will still impact the effectiveness and credibility of SCA as an organization. For that reason, all of these issues are discussed in further detail below.

[Read more…]

Saturday Storytime: Breaking the Frame

Some stories end very close to where they began, but there is always some change. The question, as in this story by Kat Howard, is whether the change will make that starting place better or worse.

“I need a model,” he said. “For an ongoing series of work. Photographs.”

Francesca sighed, and sipped her coffee. “And I’m sure it’s very legit, really, and any nudity will only be tasteful and artistic, and—what are you doing?”

He had set a laptop on the table next to her, and was opening files. “Here’s my portfolio. My agent’s card, and the information of the last gallery where I showed. Call them. Google me. Talk to anyone. Then call me.”

The photos on the screen were good. If he was a creep, at least he was a talented one.

“And who do I ask for, if I decide I’m saying yes?” Her voice was warm at the end of the question, an answer already implied in the asking.

“You mean when?” He smiled, and he was gorgeous. “Vaughan. Vaughan Matthews.”

***

She said yes. Of course she said yes. There are no stories when people say no.

Keep reading.

What Wit Wins

By shouting loudly enough, we (those who complain) seem to have successfully made internet trolls and the harassment they can deliver one of those topics that can’t be ignored. This is a good thing, in that it challenges some of the assumptions that allow the trolls to run wild.

It is also a bad thing, in that people who don’t have to deal with this kind of harassment suddenly discover that it’s a Topic!™ and must be expounded upon. These are people who haven’t even bothered to get the basics down (or are willing to obscure them to make their point), as with Brendan O’Neill, who ignores the fact that many of the cases he wants ignored involve threats.

Sometimes it’s a mixed thing, as someone grapples with the topic in public rather than sorting it all out before speaking. This too has it’s good points, with getting feedback and keeping the issue visible. It also has drawbacks, as things are said by people used to being authoritative that are incorrect or incomplete.

As an example, see Jacques Rousseau’s recent opinion piece in the Daily Maverick. [Read more…]

Atheists Talk: Rebecca Stott on “Darwin’s Ghosts”

Charles Darwin laid the groundwork for our modern understanding of evolution. In his 1859 book On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, Darwin presented novel evidence-based concepts about the diversity of life and common descent, which also cleared the way for the heretical idea that no supernatural creator was needed for the evolution of new life on this planet.

But as Rebecca Stott shows in her book Darwin’s Ghosts: The Secret History of Evolution, these ideas were thousands of years in the making. Charles Darwin may have been the one to publish the book that revolutionized biology, but scientists and philosophers from Aristotle to Alfred Russel Wallace had been speculating about the origins of life for years and centuries prior.

Tune in to Atheists Talk this Sunday as we speak with Rebecca Stott about Al-Jahiz, Leonardo da Vinci, Denis Diderot and others who helped shape the way we learned about how life propagates on this planet, and how finally, through Darwin’s writings, we vocalized our understanding of evolution by natural selection.

Related Links:

Listen to AM 950 KTNF this Sunday at 9 a.m. Central to hear Atheists Talk, produced by Minnesota Atheists. Stream live online. Call in to the studio at 952-946-6205, or send an e-mail to radio@mnatheists.org during the live show. If you miss the live show, listen to the podcast later.

 

Schroedinger’s (Female) Rapist

Over on one of Crommunist’s posts that has nothing to do with the topic, some of the usual suspects are whining once again that Schroedinger’s Rapist is sexist against men. This time, they have the help of Reddit MRAs who were attracted by the actual content of the post.

The tactic has shifted ever so slightly now. There is less “You’re looking at all men and thinking, ‘Rapist!'” Now, courtesy of John D, we have the argument that women should be looked at the same way. He bases this on the fact that by NISVS definitions of rape (including being made to penetrate another), men and women faced nearly identical victimization rates in 2010.* Additionally, while women accounted for almost none of the rapists of women, they accounted for a large majority of the rapists of men. Given those numbers, women would account for about 40% of 2010 rapists under the NISVS definitions of rape.

That is something approaching parity. Does it mean that the Shroedinger’s Rapist post, and its use by other women in explaining their viewpoints, are sexist against men?
[Read more…]

An Elaborate Fraud

I’m posting this a little extra early, because there’s travel time involved for most of the locals who will want to attend. Plan accordingly.

You probably remember Brian Deer, even if you can’t quite place the name. Deer is the British journalist whose research into how Andrew Wakefield generated the data in his Lancet publication linking autism and MMR vaccinations–as well as the information turned up about Wakefield’s conflicts of interest–caused The Lancet to retract the article as fraudulent.

Next week, Deer will be visiting the University of Wisconsin–LaCrosse to deliver two talks as part of the school’s Distinguished Lectures in the Life Sciences series.

“An Elaborate Fraud: The MMR Vaccine & Autism”
5:30 pm
Thursday, October 4, 2012
Room 1309 Centennial Hall

Fears that vaccines cause autism has become one of the biggest health controversies in America.  But where did the story begin, and what keeps it going?  Over a period of seven years, Brian Deer investigated the story for The Sunday Times of London and now comes to LaCrosse to reveal what Time Magazine dubbed one of the “great science frauds” of all time.  Launched from one British hospital in the 1990s, the scare took hold first in the UK, and then spread around the globe, leaving doctors baffled, children at risk, parents frightened, and lawyers with a lot more money. Deer shows how it was done, who did it, and why it will happen again.

“Stiletto Journalism: Busting the Vaccine Scare”
3:30 pm
Friday, October 5, 2012
Room 1309 Centennial Hall

Brian Deer is a two-times British Press Award-winner, and veteran of  four libel lawsuits, Brian Deer  took a blank sheet of paper and, for The Sunday Times of  London, carried out one of the classic public interest investigations of recent times. He probed the controversy over vaccines and autism.  Based on this landmark inquiry, and 25 years of pursuing complex, contentious topics, he gives a reporter’s inside perspective on how to break a difficult story.

They sound like they should be good lectures, particularly if you haven’t followed the news about the retraction in any great detail. If you have, however, you’re probably going to be interested in going for another reason.

Not content to file multiple suits to try (and fail) to punish Deer for reporting what medical regulatory bodies had already determined to be the truth, Wakefield and his supporters appear to be trying to disrupt Deer’s talks. Most of the Age of Autism post on the topic is free-form nastiness, like the following:

Some who’ve had the misfortune of meeting Deer describe him as reptilian and repulsive. Others would describe him in less flattering terms. Setting the sleaze factor aside, Deer’s legacy of slander and libel signify a far grimier, foul and filthy place than most of us would care to venture. Deer is the invention, the dark underbelly, the hideous caricature of those who deny an MMR-autism connection in order to protect themselves. He assuages the conscience of those without one, and scrubs clean the crime scene. Vicious and small, Deer’s pious position is untenable and in short order he will be hunted to ground and brought to justice.

The tiny bit of relevant information is the following:

Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s Press Conference: 1 pm Thursday, October 4, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Exact location to be provided.

Brian Deer’s presentation schedule, location, and abstracts: click here.

Join us if you can –  or for more information or to volunteer, please email info@drwakefieldjusticefund.org.

Who knows what they have planned, or what they hope to gain from the press conference. A conference hall full of people who want to listen to Deer, however, could only be a good thing. It will make the talks themselves harder to disrupt. If you think they sound interesting and can take the time to get to the talks, check them out. One way or another, they shouldn’t be boring.

When Am I Passing?

On my father’s side of the family, there exists an old family bible. It is what genealogy we have for a family that doesn’t talk about itself or its traditions much. It shows that the family was originally French, though the name was changed after being deemed by some unspecified someone to be too hard to spell.

In among the marriage records for a family that seems never to have been very large, there are two that would be surprising to most modern owners of family bibles. They simply say:

On [some date], [one of my multiply great grandfathers] took a wife.

They don’t say this because no one knew who the taken wife was. In each case, she was one of my multiply great grandmothers. In each case, she had a name.

Those names were not recorded in the family bible because two of my multiply great grandmothers were not Christians. Their heathen names could not be allowed to sully such a holy book, possibly because the only person in the area literate enough to record the marriage was the priest. In other words, they were (almost certainly) from a society indigenous to the lands along the Canadian-American border. They were First Nations.

[Read more…]

By My Toes

I’m not sure what it is. Could be that the last several months are just now catching up with me and demanding I erase my sleep debt. Could be I’m fighting off a bug. Could be my body is trying to compensate for increased exercise. Could be the drop in temperature and the shortening days.

All I know is this is how I feel right now whenever I stop moving.

Good thing I can hang on even in my sleep.