How are you celebrating the rapture?

I’ll be in Oakland, California at the American Atheist Rapture Regional Atheist Meet! I can think of no better way to herald in the end of the world than blaspheming with Rebecca Watson, Greta Christina, Matt Dillahunty, and Mr. Deity. If any of you are coming, make sure to say hello!

Not gonna lie…I think I’m most excited about my slumber party at Greta Christina’s house. My new goal in life is to sleep at a bunch of atheist blogger’s houses, apparently.

If you’re in the Seattle area and looking for something to do before the earthquakes and brimstone strike, I highly suggest you check out the Countdown to Backpedaling: The End is Nah! party in Tacoma.It’s at Dorky’s Arcade (754 Pacific Avenue) from 8pm to 1:30am, featuring a bunch of musical guests, including my awesome nerd-core skeptical rapping friend Three Ninjas. It’s $10, which is totally worth hanging out with godless people listening to nerdy music in an arcade. I know a lot of people from the Seattle Atheists, Seattle Skeptics, and Tacoma Atheists are going, so it should be a blast. I’m pretty sad I can’t go, so go for me!

Want to help Damon Fowler?

Hemant Mehta of Friendly Atheist is living up to his name – he’s started a scholarship fund for Damon Fowler, and it’s already raised $3,000 overnight! This isn’t just a fund to commend Damon for his bravery and support of the separation of church and state, or some sort of band-aid for the ostracism and death threats. Damon is leaving to live with his brother because of this, and his parents are likely to remove all financial aid for college. The Chip-In widget is at the very bottom of that post.
If you want to help in other ways, I encourage you to write an email to the school board and administration patiently explaining why this is illegal. Or for more long term help, join a local or national secular organization like the Freedom from Religion Foundation (which is on this case and also offered Damon a $1,000 scholarship) or the Secular Student Alliance (which support high school and college secular student organizations). Cases like Damon’s are going to be popping up more and more throughout the country, and we need to be able to support these students.

Despicable

An update on Damon Fowler’s struggles getting prayer removed from his graduation. Tonight was his school’s “Class Night,” which is apparently a tradition in the south. From what I can get from Googling, it’s partially a rehearsal for graduation, in addition to being a night where they announce senior awards.
Here’s the new “moment of silent” went in the graduation rehearsal:

This makes my blood fucking boil.

This is exactly why the separation of church and state is so important. This is why something so seemingly trivial to some – school led prayer – is so fucking important. They’ve proved our point. This girl used prayer as a weapon to separate the Good Christians from The Others. To alienate. To shun. To mock. And even more disgustingly, the community cheers along like a pack of warriors who have defeated their enemy, and laugh condescendingly at the mention of a moment of silence.

Bastrop High School, prepare to get the living fuck sued out of you. This may not be graduation, but it’s still a school function. It doesn’t matter if you told this girl not to say a prayer – the fact that you let it go on for three minutes is a crime. You should have turned off the mic and pulled her from the stage the moment “but” left her lips.

Despicable.

(Via the Support Damon facebook group)

Atheist high schooler receives death threats for protesting graduation prayer

It’s bad enough we have a gay bullying epidemic going on in this country. It looks like life isn’t much easier for atheist students.
Damon Fowler is a high school student in Bastrop, Louisiana. I’ll let him tell his story (emphasis mine):

My graduation from high school is this Friday. I live in the Bible Belt of the United States. The school was going to perform a prayer at graduation, but due to me sending the superintendent an email stating it was against Louisiana state law and that I would be forced to contact the ACLU if they ignored me, they ceased it. The school backed down, but that’s when the shitstorm rolled in. Everyone is trying to get it back in the ceremony now. I’m not worried about it, but everyone hates me… kind of worried about attending graduation now. It’s attracted more hostility than I thought.

My reasoning behind it is that it’s emotionally stressing on anyone who isn’t Christian. No one else wanted to stand up for their constitutional right of having freedom of and FROM religion. I was also hoping to encourage other atheists to come out and be heard. I’m one of maybe three atheists in this town that I currently know of. One of the others is afraid to come out of the (atheist) closet.


Though I’ve caused my classmates to hate me, I feel like I’ve done the right thing. Regardless of their thoughts on it, basically saying I am ruining their fun and their lives, I feel like I’ve helped someone out there. I didn’t do this for me or just atheists, but anyone who doesn’t believe in their god that prayer to Yahweh may affect.


Moral of the story: though the opposition may be great, majority doesn’t necessarily mean right. Thank you for reading. Wish me luck at graduation.


EDIT: Well, it hit the fan a couple hours ago. They’ve already assembled a group of supporters at a local church and called in the newspaper. I’ve had to deactivate my Facebook account and I can’t reason with any of them. They refuse to listen. The whole town hates me, aside from a few closet atheists that are silently supporting, which I don’t blame them looking at what I’ve incited here. Thanks for the support though.


Damon’s brother Jarret gives us an update on how bad the situation has gotten:

My brother has been cut off from all communication by my mother. He is not allowed to speak to me and I live 6 hours drive away from him. There’s nothing I can do. My sister is supposed to go pick him up tomorrow and he will no longer be living in that town or with my parents. He’s coming to Texas with me.
[...]My sister called my brother and was able to conference me in without my mother knowing. My brother is overwhelmed by all the support that I told him about. He literally didn’t know what to say and was not expecting this to happen. He is extremely grateful for all your support and he says “Thank you.” He will be on the internet tonight to respond personally.



As far as his spirits are concerned, he sounded scared. Really scared, actually. He sounded as if he was about to cry on the phone with me, although I’m not sure if it was because of all the support here or because he’s scared. He has gotten death threats already and threats of bodily harm if he shows up to graduation. We’re still assessing if it is safe enough for him to be there.

Because a student tried to make his school enforce the law, he is getting death threats. Death threats because one less sentence will be said at a high school graduation. Death threats because some people can’t pray to their imaginary friend on their own, and feel compelled to force everyone to. Wow.


His brother also adds what this probably means for Damon’s future:

As a personal note, I have disowned my family over this. No one will ever keep me from my brother, not even my mother. The moment any family starts acting like this, they aren’t any family of mine.

If I told you the story of how this all started, you’d think it was something out of fiction. I think it’s a story that my brother needs to tell, though. This is his time.


Sadly, because of this, my brother is probably going to be cut off financially from my parents and I will be taking up the slack of making sure he gets through college. I don’t mind this, it’s just a matter of fact. We’ve got a long hard road, yet.

Want an example of this community’s ignorance about the law and bias against atheists? Just look at what one of the teachers had to say:

“[In the past, non-religious students] respected the majority of their classmates and didn’t say anything,” [Bastrop High School staff member Mitzi] Quinn said. “We’ve never had this come up before. Never…And what’s even more sad is this is a student who really hasn’t contributed anything to graduation or to their classmates.”


Hopefully the rest of the administration isn’t as ignorant about the law as Mitzi Quinn (who, I should add, has a perfect storybook villainess name). This has nothing to do with who’s in the majority. Non-Christians shouldn’t have to sit down and shut up in a public school. And regardless of your opinion, it is against the law the have school sponsored prayer at high school graduations.

Not to mention snide remarks about a student’s contribution is completely unprofessional, and frankly, immature. You’re supposed to be teaching children, not acting like one.


To make sure the administration realizes what the law is, you can find a list of their emails here and here. And spread the news – wouldn’t it be nice if the nation saw this is how this community treats it’s non-Christians?


(Via WWJTD?)

Squeeeee

I gave Dan a chance to recover from my skeptical evisceration before taking this photo:You can hardly see the tears!

Joking aside, I had a fantastic time. I’m so happy that I got to be a part of one of my favorite shows! Though I think that’s all I can say without spoiling the magic of the Savage Lovecast – or before a Tech Savvy At Risk Youth assassinates me for spilling secrets.

The episode with me will be out May 31st – yes, you have to wait a little over a week, sorry. But it will be worth it – we talk about a lot of cool stuff. I was a bit nervous in the beginning and I think it shows, but overall I think it went really well. I’ll remind you guys when it’s out!

Until then I will agonize over all the things I wish I said. Or more realistically, get so distracted by the end of the semester that I’ll forget about the podcast. Eek.

Gays to blame for the rapture

I know everyone is probably sick of hearing about the May 21st rapture. It’s obviously ludicrously false, and it’s getting to the point where we’re beating a dead horse making fun of it. But I couldn’t pass up a quote from this fact sheet at the San Francisco Chronicle:

Q: Why May 21?
A: Camping calculates May 21 is exactly 7,000 years from the date of the Noah’s Ark flood. In his book “Time Has an End,” Camping writes. “The year 391 B.C. is the year
when the Old Testament was finished, and 2,011 + 391 – 1 = 2,401, or 7 x 7 x 7 x 7.” There you have it.


Q: Any other reason?
A: Yes. Gay Pride and same-sex marriage. Camping says God will punish America and the rest of the world for Gay Pride and same-sex marriages, just as Sodom and Gomorrah were punished with fire and brimstone in the Old Testament.

…This isn’t even internally logically consistent! Which is it, Camping? Did you calculate a very specific date based on the word of God, or has God decided now’s the time because we reached Maximum Gayness? Or did God know that May 21 would be when he got sick of pride parades, in which case, free will…?


And before anyone tries to point out that this is just some fringe loonie… I think this comic from reddit sums up how I feel pretty well:

Want to have breakfast with me on Sunday?

A more appropriate title is probably “Want to eat breakfast while watching Jen act sleep deprived and delirious Sunday morning?”

Either way, it should be fun, and it’s for a good cause! It’s Sunday, May 22nd at 7:30 AM in Oakland, CA, right across from the hotel that’s hosted the American Atheists Rapture RAM. You can buy tickets here – it’s a fundraiser for Camp Quest West, so yes, it’s a little more expensive than your average breakfast. Especially if you’re like me and your average breakfast is a cup of yogurt.

I’m not the only person you’ll get to chow down with! Matt Dillahunty, David Byars, Brian Keith Dalton (Mr. Deity), Rebecca Watson, Greta Christina and more will be there. And if I’m getting up early enough to go there, you should too.

And for those concerned about if the event will continue on the off chance that the rapture does happen… not like we’re going anywhere! Hmmm, but I don’t know about all the chefs and waiters…

Dan Savage invited me to slap him in person

Verbally, of course.
I’ll be recording an interview for the podcast with him on Wednesday, where we’ll talk about what went horribly wrong in the previous interview. Hooray for getting to geek out about skepticism on the Savage Lovecast! To say I’m excited is a vast understatement.

I have to give it to Dan – he does a good job at admitting when something has gone wrong. A lot of people would just sweep a bad interview under the rug, instead of having someone come on and tsk-tsk at them.

If you hear an annoying high pitched sound, that would be me perpetually squeeing. Sorry about that.

Hey Dan Savage: Did you turn your skepticism off?

Everyone here probably knows that I’m a huge fan of Dan Savage – but this week’s Savage Lovecast was a massive failure.
A guest on the show was Heike Rodriguez, who “teaches Female Ejaculation in West Seattle.” Not exactly sure what that entails, but that’s not the problem. When she wasn’t spewing woo-woo unscientific bullshit, she was claiming women who can’t ejaculate have some sort of emotional issues, and maybe were even raped and don’t remember it.

One of the very first things she says about female ejaculation is “That’s actually a myth. Every woman can do it. Everybody has a G-spot. There’s no argument about that. The anatomy is there for pretty much everybody.”

Uh, false. Researchers still have no freaking clue what’s going on down there. Some think it’s the Skene’s gland. Some think it’s the urethral sponge. Some think it’s the thickness of the vaginal wall. Some think it’s the internal parts of the clitoris. If scientists in 2011 are still arguing over a bit of human anatomy, it’s not as cut and dry as you think.

There’s also the fallacy of “Well I’ve experienced it, therefore it must be there for everyone.” Let’s assume the G-spot does exist in some women, and it’s not just psychological. That doesn’t mean it has to exist in everyone. A lot of human traits are variable – height, weight, breast size. And some people completely lack certain structures – for example, people who are born without wisdom teeth.

Now, you’re not going to be missing something like a heart or a stomach, but the G-spot isn’t exactly necessary for survival. More likely it’s the evolutionary side effect of certain male structures, in which case it would be completely plausible that it’s variable in women.

But to say all women have it, and as definitively as she did? Outright lie.

To illustrate how little Heike knows about sexual physiology, Dan asks her if female ejaculate is urine, and her response is “It’s impossible to pee while you’re aroused. It’s really simple. You can’t pee.”

Again, untrue. Both men and women can pee while aroused. Men can’t pee when they’re close to ejaculating (not the same as arousal) or soon after ejaculation because the bladder neck closes so semen won’t go into the bladder. Totally not the same as “You can’t pee while aroused.”

At this point Dan was tries to call her out on the idea that all women can ejaculate…and that’s where it gets even worse. “It has a lot to do with emotions. [...] It has a lot to do with connecting intimacy with sex. It has a lot to do with letting your emotions flow, with being willing to cry when you feel something intensely. And that’s not something thats really out there as part of sex. And I think that’s why a lot of women can’t do it. Because they haven’t connected their heart with their vaginas.”

Oh bugger off with the new-age hippy bullshit. You have absolutely no evidence to support anything you’re saying, and it’s insulting to say that women who can’t ejaculate are somehow just not being intimate enough.

And when Dan gently calls her out on that, saying that some women are just anorgasmic, she responds that she was anorgasmic because she was raped. And then implies that emotional or sexual trauma are the real reasons why women can’t orgasm or ejaculate.

Again, not an ounce of evidence, and perpetuating the mindset that women are somehow damaged if they don’t react in a certain way. Sorry, but saying “I don’t think women should feel bad” over and over doesn’t make them not feel bad when you say the only reason they don’t squirt is because they aren’t intimate enough or are traumatized.

Even though Dan tried to (too politely) question her claims, I wonder why he even had her on the show to begin with. I thought something smelled fishy when she said “If it’s really painful, then maybe some emotional pain needs to be released.” Yes, “energy.” It must be “released,” or something. A quick glance at her group’s website doesn’t list any sort of credentials for her. The only “credentials” she mentions on the show is being able to ejaculate (good for you) and being a partner of her “co-facilitator.” And the credentials for her “co-facilitator”? He’s a former minister with a Masters in Divinity in degree, and “facilitates” stuff like “dreamwork.”

If that doesn’t set off skeptical red flags, I don’t know what will.

So massive fail, Dan. How are you so skeptical about religion, but invited someone like this on your show? Did no one call in that week and you were desperate to fill the air time? I have a feeling there are at least a couple people in Seattle with actual credentials to back up their sexual information that you could have turned to. Hell, people who can use Google are more informed than she was.

I have a feeling you got a lot of angry calls because of her. I hope we get to hear some of them in the next podcast.