Two living, breathing human beings

A “godless science-researcher” wrote an impassioned, humane post about the murder of Avijit Roy, who was his friend.

Hacked to death. Hacked. To death. Two living, breathing human beings, returning home after their day’s work, set upon by murderous assailants who dragged them to the pavement and hacked away at them with machete-like sharp instruments. Two human beings, a man who has succumbed to his deadly injuries, and a woman, who sustained severe injuries to her hands and forehead as she tried to protect her companion. Two human beings, my friend and his wife.

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You have to know where you are

No doubt most of you are aware of the head-shaking and puzzlement and alarm, and sometimes just plain anger, about Jamila Bey’s address to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) as a representative of American Atheists last week. Debbie Goddard has thoughts and questions about it at Skepchick. Rai Rhoades is unpleased at Rhoades to RealityJames Croft has big doubts at Temple of the Future.

Quoting James:

American Atheists’ overtures to CPAC and to the Republican Party make me uneasy. I can’t help the sense that this is less about promoting atheist visibility and acceptance, and more about cozying up to powerful people  under the cover of a completely unrealistic image of “conservatism”. It’s as if not only do they want conservatives to be OK with atheists, but they want atheists to be OK with conservatives – and they’re willing to overlook the very troubling record of contemporary conservatism to make their case.

As if to prove my point, at one moment in her speech Bey looked out into the crowd and said: “I see people who love this country and believe in the equality of all people.” [Read more…]

Only then will she eat the leftovers

The New York Times reports on a new study that finds Indian women are far more undernourished and underweight than women even in poorer countries.

You know what this results in? Undernourished babies, lots of whom die in or out of the uterus.

That’s the thing about hating women – it has some knock-on effects that even non-women don’t want. It’s hard to get the amount of hatred that should be directed at women exactly right. [Read more…]

The crucial W

Wednesday night last week Cooper and I took our post-dinner walk down to Kerry Park, which is a little pocket park on the south slope of Queen Anne Hill with a sweeping view of the southern Cascades, Mount Rainier on the few days it’s clear enough, downtown, the harbor, and Puget Sound. If you’ve ever seen a postcard or generic photo of Seattle, it was taken from there. It was a beautiful windy night with clouds ripping across the sky. When we got to Kerry Park we found people arranging big illuminated squares on the grass, squares that held letters, one per square. While Cooper sniffed all the things I looked at the squares to read the message (upside down: I was standing at the top of them) – and got NET NEUTRALITY NO.

NO?? That seemed incongruous. The NO people would be at corporate dinners or on the phone to lobbyists, not messing around in Kerry Park at night. Huh. Then here came someone carrying another square. Ah. “Is that the W?” I asked her. “I hope?” It was, of course.

They asked us – the random people in the park at that moment – to help hold up the sign and be in the photo. Fun! So I wrapped Cooper’s leash around one of the railings and beed in the photo.

I found the photo at the Northwest Progressive Institute.

Net Neutrality Now!

(Photo: Rick Barry/Broken Shade Photo)

I’m behind the L, looking lumpy because in a hoody jacket.

Hicks would stare out the second-floor window

The New York Times has more on the Chapel Hill murders.

A motive for the shooting may never be known. But interviews with more than a dozen of the victims’ friends and family members, lawyers, police officers and others make two central points: Before the shootings, the students took concerted steps to appease a menacing neighbor, and none were parked that day in a way that would have set off an incident involving their cars.

If those accounts do not prove what kind of malice was in Mr. Hicks’s heart, the details that emerge indicate that whatever happened almost certainly was not a simple dispute over parking.

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They have a “2 Witness” rule

It’s not just Catholic priests. It’s not just Catholic priests and Amish patriarchs. It’s not just Catholic priests and Amish patriarchs and yoga gurus. It’s not just Catholic priests and Amish patriarchs and yoga gurus and FLDS patriarchs.

It’s also Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Candace Conti was repeatedly sexually abused by such a nice friendly man when she was a child.

It is really hard for kids to speak up when they’re abused. But the Jehovah’s Witnesses make it a lot harder.

They have a “2 Witness” rule, which says that anyone who accuses an adult of abuse must have a second witness. [Read more…]

Guest post: It will not be a teachable moment

Originally a comment by Kausik Datta on “In our culture, there is no place for a woman.”

People in India are wondering why this criminal is being given a spotlight, and what good would come out of it. I echo that sentiment in this case, despite generally being known to favor the stance of “all knowledge is worth having”. The documentary in question would be an instrument for pointing out ad infinitum how bad the situation of women is in India, but it will not be a teachable moment.

Why? Because this despicable criminal is a product of his society, culture, tradition – a triumvirate that considers women to be chattel, property to be owned, toyed with and disposed of at will. The disgusting statements put out by this man’s defence lawyers stand a testament to that. [Read more…]

Guest post: For religion ignorance is bliss, for liberals ignorance is fear

Originally a comment by Bruce Gorton on To be found superficial and contemptible.

The conviction that tyranny and persecution are aberrations in human affairs is at the heart of the liberal philosophy that prevails today. But this conviction is supported by faith more than evidence.

Bollocks. The heart of the liberal philosophy that prevails today is that it is relatively easy to ignore persecution so long as you aren’t the one being persecuted, and tyranny is relatively easy for the one who holds the power to be the tyrant.

The liberal philosophy of today is that human affairs are fundamentally malleable, and can cover a wide range of possibilities – therefore we have to work hard to make sure that it is the possibilities that get realized are the ones that we most want to live with.

This is the central core to the concept of privilege and the main reason liberals tend to oppose too much power being concentrated in too few hands, whether that be via dictatorship or the economic hegemony of major corporations. [Read more…]

The King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue

Austria has been considering closing down an “interfaith” dialogue center it has thanks to the backing of none other than those ardent fans of pluralism, Saudi Arabia.

The Austrian government has threatened to close a controversial Saudi-sponsored religious dialogue center because of the latter’s failure to condemn the flogging of a Saudi human rights activist and blogger.

Saudi Arabia has responded to the threat by issuing a counter-threat to move the permanent headquarters of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries [OPEC] out of the Austrian capital of Vienna. [Read more…]