Old School Harassment

Whenever I have something to say about Dawkins that isn’t hugely complimentary, I expect some harassment, and I get it. I did not expect the comment that showed up this morning.

Okay, that’s not quite true. I expected the long, rambling part where the commenter couldn’t tell the difference between saying aborting a fetus you don’t want to carry to term is okay a claiming it’s the one right thing to do. I expected the petty butchering of FtBloggers’ names. I expected the anti-social justice vitriol. I expected to be called fat.

I just didn’t expect this.

[Read more...]

“The Atheist Camel Returns”, Bart Centre on Atheists Talk

This Sunday, tune in as friend of the show Bart Centre joins us once again to catch us up on what he’s been up to.

Related Links

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No, That’s Eugenics

In case you missed it yesterday, Dawkins had his say on Twitter about the morality of aborting fetuses with Down syndrome. More accurately, he stated that it was immoral not to abort those fetuses.

Today, predictably, comes the apology, though as usual, it’s mostly a defense. I appreciate Dawkins’ concern that something he tweeted to one person is being shared widely. I’ve certainly had that happen to me, though if the response to my situation is anything to go by, he won’t find much sympathy among online atheists for that.

Still, Dawkins is who he is, and who he is requires that comments like this be addressed when they become widely known. [Read more...]

TBT: Destroy Ferris

It’s been five years since John Hughes died. Having been a teenager in the 80s, I couldn’t not have an opinion.

So, you know John Hughes just died. Everybody knows that John Hughes just died. Almost everyone my age is talking about how sad it was and talking about the movies it’s made them remember.

I haven’t been doing that. Not because Hughes’ death didn’t bring back memories for me, but because it did. I was a suburban teenager who didn’t fit the mold. I should have been his target audience. I just didn’t like his movies much.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s still too soon to talk about them, but I’m going to do it anyway. [Read more...]

Well, It’s Not Tear Gas

When you hear that there was no tear gas in Ferguson last night, no rubber bullets, you might be tempted to relax about the situation. Don’t do that.

Police in Ferguson may not have been indiscriminately shooting tear gas at everyone they saw on the street, but what happened last night was still seventeen flavors of fucked up. That it was an improvement over the night before is a measure of the previous night’s depravity, not an indication of competent police peacekeeping. [Read more...]

Overnight in Ferguson

I did a shorter version of this yesterday morning on Twitter and received a ridiculous number of retweets, so there’s obviously an appetite for “highlights” from the overnight feeds on Ferguson.

Last night, despite curfew having been lifted, police in Ferguson once again drove their armored trucks into residential neighborhoods and shot teargas into the area. Once again, media were gassed. Once again, media were arrested, though that had also been happening during the day. No media arrests I’m aware of have resulted in charges, just detainment.

I’m not in a position to find a link at the moment, but if you have the stomach, find Elon James White’s audio (with poor video) of his crew’s experience. They were not the only news crew that reported being fired upon. White also reported that the police appeared to be firing at anyone they saw on the streets.

The rationale given for the start of tear gas were one again shots fired and Molotov cocktails. Police reported two people shot, one of whom I’ve seen confirmed independently. Among the people the police arrested, they claimed—at a very early press conference—to have confiscated two guns and one Molotov cocktail. The Molotov is the target of much scorn, as it was improperly made, unlighted, and in a Colt 45 bottle. Locals told one reporter that Colt 45, despite the stereotypes, couldn’t be obtained locally.

There were agitators confirmed in Ferguson, including members of the Revolutionary Communist Party. The RCP claims that only revolution can fix societal problems, but they haven’t started one in the own communities. This is also the group behind Stop Patriarchy, a pro-abortion group that has been co-opting the idea of “freedom rides” for an abortion tour that appears to be mostly raising funds to film themselves talking about abortion. The RCP agitators were confronted by local black leaders.

Amnesty International observers had been ordered out of the area. At least one report said guns were pointed during the time they were ordered out, but documentation of that had not turned up by the time the Amnesty Twitter list stopped operating for the night.

The county police held a prayer circle before the evening’s activities, and a sectarian prayer was held during the press conference. The police were conspicuously working through the evening and, presumably, into the night, with no badges or other identifying insignia.

Darren Wilson is still at large. No one has so much as announced plans to find him or take him into custody.

 

Saturday Storytime: Ten Days’ Grace

In this story, Foz Meadows does what science fiction should do.

Falling pregnant with Lily had been her first infraction against the Spousal Laws. Like homosexuality and abortion, single parenthood had been illegal ever since the National Family Party came to power nearly three decades ago. As soon as the cause of Julia’s sudden nausea was correctly diagnosed, she’d been brought before the Bureau and called to account for the genesis of her not–allowed–to–be–illegitimate offspring. The child’s progenitor, she told them, was her employer, Roy Sovas, a kind man some twenty years her senior whose wife had produced a single sickly daughter and a string of miscarriages. Divorce was impossible. Something had to be done.

Armed with her testimony, the Bureau took a DNA sample from Roy and used it to prove paternity, although he, to his lasting credit, had already confessed to the affair. For his part in their joint violation of the Spousal Laws, Roy received a docked salary, a black mark on his citizenship record and a formal reminder that he was forbidden from contacting either Julia or their child for the next eighteen years, until the zygote who was to become Lily had reached its majority. For her part, Julia was given a choice: either give birth and then surrender her newborn to an adoptive couple, or take a husband. There was also the matter of finding a new job and a black mark similar to Roy’s, but compared to the choice of abandoning her child or raising it with a man she didn’t love, such trifles paled into insignificance.

In the end, she’d opted for marriage. She knew of no suitable candidates, but then, if she had the affair with Roy would hardly have been necessary. Fortunately, the Bureau was well–versed in human weakness, and kept a roster of available men — and women, should the need arise, although it much less frequently did — who were willing to marry such as her. That exercise, at least, contained some element of choice, albeit a meagre one. Robert had seemed the lesser of several evils. They met twice, agreed to marry, and then it was done: Lily’s existence was legitimised by this façade of wedded parentage. Love didn’t enter into it, or competence, or care, or even genetics: every child, the National Family Party said, should have both a father and mother, come what may. And as Lily was still years from her majority, the fact of Robert’s death didn’t matter, either. Once again, the choice was Julia’s — either give her daughter away, or marry another man to ensure Lily’s proximity to an official father–figure.

She’d been silent for a long time, pretending this not–quite–conversation with Agent James was heading in a different direction. She looked at him, hoping she might somehow have slipped backwards in time, to an era when this sort of thing didn’t happen, but still the stylus stabbed inexorably downwards.

Tap. Tap.

“You understand,” said Agent James, “that the Bureau’s concern is only for Lily’s well–being. A child raised by only one gender, no matter how lovingly, cannot ever be more than a half–being.”

“I understand,” croaked Julia, although she did not, could not, never had, never would; least of all now, when Robert, whose existence should have protected her from this eventuality, was gone, and how was she to feel about that, anyway?

“You do not have to decide just yet,” said Agent James, so gently that Julia found herself hating him. “First, there is the funeral to attend to. Afterwards, however —”

“Yes,” she said bitterly, “I remember. Ten days’ grace in which to find a husband.”

“Ten days’ grace,” said Agent James, nodding his head. “Shall I bring you the list of candidates, once things are sorted?”

Fuck your candidates, Julia wanted to scream at him.

“Yes,” she said.

Keep reading.

“Pathfinders Project” Ben Blanchard on Atheists Talk

Minnesota Atheists members have a long tradition of supporting and participating in charitable works, volunteerism and otherwise lending a hand where we can. For those of you who enjoy this time of activity and social engagement, you’re going to want to tune in to this weekend’s episode of Atheists Talk.

Ben Blanchard recently returned from a year abroad. He was one of the first participants of the Pathfinders Project, the purpose of which is described by their website as so:

Pathfinders Project is a yearlong international service trip sponsored by Foundation Beyond Belief, a nonprofit created to focus, encourage, and demonstrate humanist generosity and compassion. Through Pathfinders Project, humanist volunteers (the Pathfinders) are supporting clean water, education, human rights, and environmental conservation work around the globe.

Ben served in Africa and South America, and in those places he met and worked alonside people in numerous countries, participated in cultural exchange and shared in the lives of new friends. Before his trip, Ben was well-known known for his work with the Secular Student Alliance and was involved with the Campus Atheists, Humanists and Skeptics at the University of Minnesota where he was a student.

Please join us this Sunday to hear Ben’s stories and lessons learned, and why the idea of humanist service is so vital to our movement and to the world.

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 [email protected] during the live show. If you miss the live show, listen to the podcast later.

Follow Atheists Talk on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates. If you like the show, consider supporting us with a one-time or sustaining donation.

“Never Point a Gun”

“Never point a gun at anything you don’t want to destroy.”

It’s the first thing I learned about guns. It’s what kept running through my head last night as I watched the pictures coming out of Ferguson, Missouri. One on side, protesters dancing, holding their hands up in that signal of physical surrender, remembering their neighbor, demanding answers, knowing it could have been them. On the other side, an armored truck with a carbine rifle mounted on a tripod.

The gun wasn’t merely ready, waiting in case it was needed. It was pointed at protesters. It was pointed at reporters. It was pointed at cameras.

Another gun was pointed at Elon James White later that evening as he asked for information on how to leave the area.

“Never point a gun at anything you don’t want to destroy.” [Read more...]

TBT: Reality-Based Politics

Jeff Johnson is running for governor of Minnesota this year, on a platform of making us more like Wisconsin. (I know people in Wisconsin, so, no.. Also I like my governor.) I didn’t remember that I’d written about Johnson before, in August 2009.

Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson has no quarrel with publicly funded treatment for alcoholics. But he said he struggles with taxpayer money going to housing for chronic alcoholics that offer no treatment at all.

Not only that, he was surprised to learn, the so-called “wet houses” don’t even require their homeless residents to stay sober.

“I understand these people are very sick, but I don’t think that means you should expect absolutely nothing out of them,” Johnson said. “If we’re going to provide you housing, you should figure out how to stop being drunk all the time.”

[sigh]

Jeff is a nice guy, generally. I used to work with his wife, so I’ve met him and the kids, and a cuter family you’re not likely to meet. But this…. [Read more...]