Another Hoosier Hypocrite

Indiana State Representative Phillip Hinkle (R, of course) was caught soliciting craigslist for a gay prostitute using his public email address. And if you were wondering – yes, he’s a good married Christian who opposes gay marriage. Such a good Christian, in fact, that he’s the person who forced the In God We Trust license plates on the state.

Before those plates just made me giggle whenever I saw a driver with them breaking some sort of traffic law or being an all-around asshole. Now they’re a symbol of Christian hypocrisy. Nice.

It’s not just one person sending death threats to atheists

Edit: Well, apparently it wasn’t 8,000 death threats – just many death threats in 8,000 comments. The correction comes from Blair himself. Shocking, can’t trust the media to report things accurately…

Fox News’ Facebook page was flooded with threats calling for the rape, crucifixion, and murder of atheists. The cause? Blair Scott, Communications Director of American Atheists, appeared on Fox News to defend their lawsuit against the Ground Zero cross. Just look at some of the examples one blog collected:

Frankly, however you feel about the cross lawsuit* it irrelevant – no one deserves to be treated like this. I can’t get over how despicable these messages are. I may disagree strongly – very strongly – with some religious people, but I never wish them dead. I know this doesn’t represent all Christians, but it certainly debunks the notion that religion automatically makes you a good person.

*And if you want to know how I feel about it… go read the incredibly well written article by James Croft. No point rehashing what he already said so eloquently.

DM’s death threats covered by Canadian newspapers

The petition for Montreal police to take action on Dennis Markuze’s constant barrage of death threats has reached 4,000 signatures, and the local news is starting to pay attention. As someone on twitter quipped, this may be the first time an internet petition accomplished something, because the police have opened an investigation:

Monday afternoon, following an inquiry by The Gazette, a Montreal police public-relations official said: “We haven’t received any complaints” about ‘Mabus.’

The police tune changed Wednesday morning, with a tweet from @SPVM that “we are investigating the case.” It included a plea to “please stop sending emails to our media address by signing the petition.”

Lafrenière said he was not aware of earlier complaints to police about the man’s activities. Complainants are “mainly from the (United) States,” he added, with others “from all over the world.”

Each time the petition is signed online, Lafrenière said, an email is relayed to a Montreal police publicrelations email address. By 8 p.m. Wednesday, that attention-grabbing tactic had yielded a barrage of 3,224 such individual emails.

Prior to Lafrenière’s announcement, PZ Myers, a frequent recipient of threats from ‘Mabus,’ and a biologist and associate professor at the University of Minnesota, blogged that the St. Laurent man’s tone has escalated in recent years – “his hate messages have gotten crazier, more vicious, and more frequent.”

“I have reported him to the police,” Myers added, and “seen these complaints climb the ladder from the local department, to the FBI, to the RCMP, to the Montreal city police, where they promptly fizzle out.”

Montreal police, according to Myers, have had “this deranged man making death threats on their watch for over a decade, and have done nothing.”

Lafrenière said he wasn’t aware of any complaint from Myers.

Thank you for pointing out your own incompetence.

This other report is all in French, but I included it because it has an interview with Mabus’s mom. The below excerpts translated by reader QoB (thanks!):

In a brief telephone interview with La Presse yesterday, the mother of Dennis Markuze confirmed that he is the author of the messages. However, she refuses to condemn the writings of her son, who still lives in her house, and ensures[?should be ‘assures us’?] that he is not violent. “I have not asked him to stop, no. Why should I? It is his job, it is what he believes. Why should I stop him? ” said Ms. Markuze in English.

She was promptly taken aback when La Presse told her about death threats that many people say they have received. “He never did that. He does not even kill a fly, sir. I do not believe it. You probably do not understand his messages.” When some excerpts were quoted to her (“I’ll put a bullet in the head,” “I’m going to execute you”), she replied: “Read fully what he writes and you’ll see” before hanging up.

Oh dear. Looks like Mom has typical Mom Blinders on, and refuses to believe her ittle wittle Dennis could be sending hundreds of death threats every day. I feel a bit bad for her. Apparently DM has done a very good job at hiding his obsessive hatred, so this must come as a shock to her.

Some people think this is “just internet culture,” but the internet is part of the real world. If someone was sending hundreds of people five letters or phone calls a day saying he was going to cut off my head, you know damn well the police would do something about it. And DM has been getting worse over the years – more persistent, and more violent, more nonsensical, and even showing up to atheist events in person.

I think a good example of DM’s decline is a post from 1994 on a chess message board (yes, chess):

Women are on a lower rung of evolution compared to men, the difference between men and women is like the difference between animals and plants. First comes God, then the Angels, then men, then women, then animals, then plants.

You can count the number of female geniuses on one hand!

Which women have contributed to philosophy, painting, music, chess,etc..? Alright, the Polgar sisters may be geniuses, but they are freaks of nature! To be a genius by defintion is to be a male (Webster, if you are reading this, be sure to add this in your next edition). A female genius is a contradiction of terms. A woman may be intelligent but never a genius,of course, exceptions do occur, like the baby that is born with twelve fingers.

P.S. No hate mail from the ladies, please. I’m safe here behind my computer,you can’t scratch out my eyes even if you wanted to.

Dennis Markuze

d_ma…@pavo.concordia.ca

Holy crap! At one point in time, DM had the ability to write in complete, understandable sentences! Granted, they’re misogynistic bullshit, but grammar!

I laugh because that’s what keeps me sane – but this is perfect evidence of DM’s escalating madness. His writing went from sentient to erratic word salad. The threats become more and more violent. The messages are obsessively persistent – he hops from internet cafe to internet cafe since bloggers keep banning his IP addresses, and he creates dozens of new email addresses and twitter accounts a day because his get banned so quickly. He has started physically showing up to atheist meetings, and repeatedly try to enter after being thrown out by security.

This is not the behavior of a mentally healthy person. DM needs to be committed and evaluated before he finally snaps and hurts someone. And if that shows him to be a sane but particularly motivated God botherer, he needs to be prosecuted for harassment, stalking, and death threats, all of which are crimes in Canada.

What used to be an annoyance is now a red flag – stop this man before he’s the next École Polytechnique massacre, Anders Behring Breivik, or decides to actually cut off someone’s head.

Demand that Montreal Police take death threats against atheists seriously

If you read atheist blogs, you probably know Dennis Markuze. Possibly under another name, since he shifts around a lot – David Mabus, DM, Nostradamus. And if not, here’s a brief introduction:

For several years Dennis Markuze has harassed and threatened scientists, writers, public figures, atheists, and their friends under the pseudonym “David Mabus”. While this was previously a minor annoyance, the intensity and frequency of his contact have increased.

“Mabus” attacks now include hundreds of Twitter accounts (used and discarded as they are reported). He has threatened young boys and girls as well as adults (including Rys Morgan, 16, who was acknowledged by some in the science community for exposing a dangerous quack medical treatment). In fact, anyone who associates with scientifically and skeptically minded people like PZ Myers, Phil Plait, James Randi, Brian Dunning or Michael Shermer is likely to become a target for unsettling rants and threats to their life and well-being.

Markuze has even gone so far as to attend meetings of such people, including attending the American Atheist Convention in October 2010, held Montreal.

You don’t see him around here that much because I’ve tightened up my comment moderation quite a bit, and probably banned every IP address in Montreal in the process. But I get at least one crazed email and multiple tweets from him every day, usually containing a variety of threats – punching us, shooting us, nuking us, chopping off our heads, references to krystallnacht.

This has become a common occurrence for any bloggers, scientists, or activists who are associated with atheism. But I’ve also received personalized threats, such as “feel safe, jen?” and “jen we are going to exterminate you, cunt.”



And despite multiple people making multiple reports to the police over years and years, the Montreal Police do nothing.



How much longer are the Montreal Police going to sit on their hands? Until Dennis Markuze finally snaps and hurts someone? If these were religious leaders receiving constant death threats, you can be sure it would have been taken care of instantly. But when atheists are on the receiving end, they twiddle their thumbs.



I don’t necessarily think this man needs to be thrown behind bars – but he has a history of mental illness and has become more and more threatening and persistent, and something needs to be done before he follows through with his threats. I especially fear for atheists he targets that live near Montreal – and I certainly will not feel safe ever visiting that city until the police take some action.



Please sign the petition for the Montreal Police to take death threats made against atheists seriously.

And if you’re from Montreal…a tip to your local newspaper probably wouldn’t hurt.

The first ever Women in Secularism conference

The Center for Inquiry has just announced an exciting new event for next year – the Women in Secularism conference. It will be May 18 – 20 2012 in Washington, DC, and the speaker lineup looks amazing:

  • Ophelia Benson
  • Jamila Bey
  • Greta Christina
  • Elisabeth Cornwell
  • Margaret Downey
  • Annie Laurie Gaylor
  • Jennifer Michael Hecht
  • Sikivu Hutchinson
  • Susan Jacoby
  • Jennifer McCreight
  • Wafa Sultan
  • Rebecca Watson

Look! Somehow my name snuck in there! Woohoo!

This conference is a wonderful idea – hats off to Melody Hensley of CFI for creating and organizing it. No longer will people be able to say that men outnumber women as speakers because there just aren’t as many deserving or interesting women. …Well, people will still say that because people can be frustratingly dense, but now we can hold up this event as evidence.

I also hope that it’s well attended. The other argument I hear a lot is that we need to keep inviting the Big Names, not because they’re old white men, but because they’re popular and otherwise no one would come to the conference. But frankly, as much as I enjoy hearing Dawkins and PZ speak, seeing them for the 49839847th time gets a little old. I’m way more excited about seeing a bunch of people I’ve still yet to see – Annie Laurie Gaylor, Susan Jacoby, and Wafa Sultan. And usually I never see these amazing women all at the same time – I’m looking forward to seeing what happens when you stick us in a room together.

But really, I see the goal of this event is to make itself obsolete. We shouldn’t need specific women in secularism conferences in order to get the voices of women heard. We shouldn’t be shocked when conferences occasionally have more women speaking then men – we certainly take the opposite to be the norm. So while I’m greatly looking forward to it, I’m being optimistic that we won’t always need it.

Of course, some people are already whining in the comments of the announcement, claiming that the atheist movement obviously has no problems recruiting women or dealing with sexism. Surprise, surprise. My favorites so far are by John D:

“A conference just for women featuring several very vocal self described “Liberal/Progressive Feminists”… I have a feeling that trouble is brewing. I suspect I will enjoy the free flowing man bashing that will come from this event. I also look forward to the blog explosion which will result.”
“I will listen if only because I have respect for Susan Jacoby. Inclusion of Watcon, McCreight, and Christina insure that the pot will be stirred with great vigor and that the misandry will be served up rare!”

Stuff like this cracks me up. Yes, I am that radical, man-bashing, misandrist! And so is Greta (though we all obviously knew Rebecca was one). Seriously, do these men know that I’m kind of Feminism Lite? A Feminism Gateway Drug? I’m the type of feminist that’s one of the easiest for outsiders to tolerate – I’m extremely sex positive, pro-porn, have written about how we shouldn’t suspend skepticism in all rape cases… If you think I’m a man-hater, just wait ’til you meet the feminists who don’t like me! Your brain will surely explode.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to the conference, and the pre-freakout from insecure men is just going to fuel my fire.

Greta Christina in Seattle tomorrow!

The perpetually fabulous Greta Christina is coming to Seattle tomorrow! Well, technically she’s here now, but you don’t get to see her tonight unless you can stalk us down and figure out where we’re eating dinner (please don’t). But you can see her tomorrow at the event by the Seattle Atheists:

DATE: Saturday, August 6

TIME: 1:30 – 4:30 pm, including my talk, Q&A, and panel discussion

LOCATION: 2100 Building, 2100 24th Ave. S., Seattle, WA

TOPIC: What Can the Atheist Movement Learn From the LGBT Movement?

SUMMARY: The atheist movement is already modeling itself on the LGBT movement in many ways — most obviously with its focus on coming out of the closet. What else can the atheist movement learn from the LGBT movement… both from its successes and its failures?

COST: Free (donations accepted)

The panel discussion will be on women in the secular movement. I’ll be on it as well, along with some other local godless ladies. And snacks are usually provided at Seattle Atheist meetings. What more can you ask for – snacks and awesome atheist women!

I hope I’ll see you guys there!

Well, that backfired

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has positive billboard campaigns popping up across the country. The most recent batch went up in Columbus, OH and were followed by a bit of controversy. Dylan Galos’s billboard was removed from its original location, because said location was on church property and the church complained.

Whatever, Dylan’s billboard has a new home. End of story, right?

Apparently the FFRF tipped off the county auditor that the church hadn’t been paying taxes on the billboard they owned – and now they’ll have to. Wah wah.

I don’t believe in karma, but…

The Secular Student Alliance conference was freaking awesome

The title is my tl;dr.

The SSA annual conference is something I look forward to every year. It’s by far my favorite atheist gathering, for a number of reasons. One, it’s for my demographic – students. Even though I’m an ancient grad student, I’m still among peers, which makes networking and socializing fun and stress-free. Two, the programming is consistently superb, and I always leave motivated to run my local groups and save the world from religion.

But first, my only complaint about the conference, which has nothing to do with the conference itself. The Revolution Books people drove everyone fucking crazy. I wish I could say they were simply annoying, but they were borderline stalker-like with their evangelical communism. They wouldn’t take no for an answer when you said you didn’t want to talk about radical communism (race specific autonomous regions? Businesses picking 20% of the politicians? Okkaaaay). Some people got stuck with them for hours when they followed you to student lunches and social events, they frequently interrupted private conversations, followed you down hallways, and even harassed one speaker all the way into the bathroom. Dozens and dozens of people complained to me how uncomfortable the Revolution Books people made them feel, and I hope they don’t return next year.

Anyway!
The talks are slowly being uploaded to YouTube, and I plan on sharing some of my favorites. Until then, I’ll list some of my top ten favorite parts of the conference. I’ll surely forgot some, since my schedule got left behind in Columbus since it was being passed around the SSA board meeting to show off my doodle of some of the staff:1. Jessica Ahlquist. It’s indisputable that she gets the #1 slot, even if she may think she’s not deserving (her modesty is one of her many endearing qualities). Jessica is a (soon to be) junior in high school who spent the last year fighting an illegal prayer banner in her school, and now spends her time encouraging other high school students to join her. Jessica’s talk was moving, inspiring, and down right fabulous. I think she got something like four standing ovations, and she deserved every one of them. One of my favorite comments from her was the realization that “grown ups” don’t always do the right thing, and even high schoolers can fight for what’s right. I’ll have more to say when I share her video.

2. The social events. I ended up going out four nights in a row, which means I pretty much didn’t sleep the whole conference. But it also means I met a lot of awesome people and had a lot of awesome conversations. I make new friends every year at SSA. The downside to this is that every year I come back, I have more and more people I want to see, so I feel like I don’t get to spend enough time with any of them! Alas.

3. Waxing JT‘s legs.

(Photo by Ellen Lundgren)

I love his facial expression as I pull the strip off. Mwahaaha.

4. Dave Silverman’s talk on the first night really set the tone for the whole conference. I didn’t necessarily agree 100%, but it was certainly motivating. The main message: We can win this fight, and we are winning it. Sometimes I need that reminder when I see all the hateful crap still being done in the name of religion in this world. It was also great finally meeting Dave in person, since we’ve been working together on the Reason Rally for a couple of months now.

He also knows how to pander to his audience, because every slide of his talk featured one of his rage faces:

(Photo by Ellen Lundgren)

5. Jamila Bey. Everything about her. Sometimes I meet a person and I instantly think “Why the hell did it take me so long to meet you? I command you to be my best friend right now.” That’s exactly how I feel about Jamila. She was amazing to chat with, and her talk was wonderful, especially considering Hemant had basically stolen her whole talk during his own, forcing Jamila to wing the whole thing.

6. Greta Christina debuted a new talk on why arguing religion is worthwhile, and it was delightful like always. It’s summarize it, but she already posted an outline at her blog.

7. Hemant’s talk on critical thinking in math education was wonderful. He succinctly summarized why people like me grew up hating math, and how we should be teaching math to children. I’ll definitely post the video when it goes up. I wish Hemant had been my math teacher in high school!

8. Katie Hartman’s talk on fundraising was practical and supported with psychological research. She’s also a natural speaker. I now have a bunch of tips for the next time I’m doing a fundraiser on my blog or for my campus group. Also, Katie definitely wins the Prettiest Powerpoint Presentation award, which isn’t surprising since she designed the lovely Skepticon and Reason Rally websites.

9. The terrifying baby cake Ashley made for Hemant.

(Photo by Ellen Lundgren)

10. …The wacky adventures of Ryan getting shot with a bb-gun. I know it’s horrible, but the story has already reached legendary status. And his write up is hilarious.

Sometimes I couldn’t get my ass down to a talk, and I missed some awesome stuff. Apparently Kelley Freeman dedicated a whole slide of lolcats to me. I also missed Ed Clint’s talk on “Transfaith” – an alternative to Interfaith work – that was apparently mindblowingly amazing because everyone couldn’t stop talking about it. I’ll have to watch the videos when they go online.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who said kind things about my talk on diversity. I know the topic is getting stale for some, so I’m glad that it seemed so effective for many of you. So, thank you!

And other than that…wow, I had so much fun. I’m sad that it may be another year before I see many of you. Time to go into post-conference withdrawal…