The doctor died

Very bad news: the doctor who was leading Sierra Leone’s fight against the worst outbreak on record has died from the virus.

The death of Sheik Umar Khan, who was credited with treating more than 100 patients, follows the deaths of dozens of local health workers and the infection of two US medics in neighbouring Liberia.

Ebola is believed to have killed 672 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since the outbreak began in February, according to the World Health Organisation. The contagious disease has no known cure. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea and internal and external bleeding.

Khan, 39, hailed as a “national hero” by the health ministry, had been moved to a treatment ward run by the medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières in the far north of Sierra Leone.

Damn. I heard him chat with a reporter while at the hospital last week, saying he was optimistic. I was hoping he would make it.

“It is a big and irreparable loss to Sierra Leone as he was the only specialist the country had in viral haemorrhagic fevers,” said the chief medical officer, Brima Kargbo.

Very bad news.

Guest post: Funny thing about the ‘Let there be no compulsion in religion’ verse

Originally a comment and another comment by Marwa Berro (who will be blogging here under her real name starting August 1!) of Between a Veil and a Dark Place on A Muslim woman is not allowed to marry a non-Muslim.

Funny thing about the ‘Let there be no compulsion in religion’ verse. It is almost always (quite conveniently) quoted out of context. It actually means the exact opposite, that you can’t be internally compelled to see the one and only Truth, but you sure as hell can be punished for being evil enough to refuse to see it. The rest of the verse and the one following it:

[ 2:256] Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things.

[ 2:257] Allah is the Protector of those who have faith: from the depths of darkness He will lead them forth into light. Of those who reject faith the patrons are the evil ones: from light they will lead them forth into the depths of darkness. They will be companions of the fire, to dwell therein (For ever).

The ‘Let there be no compulsion in religion’ verse turns out to be literally a preamble to explaining how/why anyone who believes otherwise is wrong, evil, and doomed to utter damnation.

Cuz that’s not normative or exclusionary at all.

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Punished by angels from dusk to dawn

Sara Khan of Inspire has an eloquent piece at the Telegraph on the Trojan Horse affair and its implications for Muslims who are not fans of bigotry and hatred. Sara of course is one such Muslim.

One of the most shocking findings, from both Birmingham City Council’s report and from the Government’s own investigation into the Trojan Horse affair, was the incredulous hate peddling promoted to young children by fundamentalist Muslims who attempted to infiltrate a number of schools. Children had been told not to listen to Christians because they were “all liars”; and how they were “lucky to be Muslims and not ignorant like Christians and Jews.” Schools put up posters warning children that if they didn’t pray they would “go to hell” and girls were taught that women who refused to have sex with their husbands would be “punished” by angels “from dusk to dawn”. One of the ringleaders of the Trojan Horse plot told an undercover reporter that “white women have the least amount of morals”, white children were “lazy” and that British people have “colonial blood.”

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Logic and rhetoric

My cosigner (it’s kind of like the Declaration of Independence – we are Signers) Richard Dawkins has been tweeting about the logic of saying X is not as bad as Y. The logic is that saying X is not as bad as Y is not the same thing as saying X is good. Quite right; it’s not. A mouthful of curdled milk is not as bad as a mouthful of shit, but that doesn’t mean a mouthful of curdled milk is good.

X is bad. Y is worse. If you think that’s an endorsement of X, go away and don’t come back until you’ve learned how to think logically.

Mild pedophilia is bad. Violent pedophilia is worse. If you think that’s an endorsement of mild pedophilia, go away and learn how to think.

Date rape is bad. Stranger rape at knifepoint is worse. If you think that’s an endorsement of date rape, go away and learn how to think.

There was some back and forth, then more stand-alone tweets.

Whether X or Y is worse is a matter of opinion. But it is a matter of LOGIC that to express that opinion doesn’t mean you approve of either.

“Stealing £1 is bad. Stealing an old lady’s life savings is worse.” How DARE you rank them? Stealing is stealing. You’re vile, appalling.

That’s all true. He’s right. But there’s more to it than that. I offered three replies myself.

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Reasoning with people who want to spike the heads of their adversaries

Nadette De Visser at the Daily Beast reports on a recent demonstration in The Hague (Den Haag):

“Death to the Jews” chanted the crowd waving the black flags of the Islamic State, or ISIS as it used to be known. They were looking for new supporters for their cause, the creation of a worldwide caliphate answering to the man who now calls himself Ibrahim: a zealot too radical even for Al Qaeda who has stormed through Syria and Iraq carrying out mass executions, crucifying rivals, beheading enemies. But these marchers were not in Syria or Iraq; they were in The Hague in The Netherlands. And their message was one tailored to the disaffected young descendants of Muslim immigrants in Europe.

“We are Moroccans,” went out the cry over a portable loudspeaker. “The French killed the Moroccans but they didn’t kill them all; the grandchildren of the few men left protest against the West, America and the Jews.” [Read more...]

If Chuck Norris

Well, that makes a nice summary of everything I fear and hate.

If I were elected president I would Tattoo an American flag with the words, “In God we trust,” on the forehead of every atheist.” – Chuck Norris

It’s got it all – sadism, compulsory nationalism, compulsory theism, total ignorance of US history, even recent history, and bigotry toward atheists. Ok not quite all, there’s no gay-bashing or feminist-bashing, but it’s almost all.

Not Diogenes

Mark Senior continues to be eager to let everyone know that he’s not going to pay any attention to any statements on the merits of disagreeing without being abusive about it. Hell no! Nobody tells Mark Senior not to act like an asshole!! Mark Senior will act like an asshole as much as he wants to, thank you very much!!!

markDescription: a tweet sent by Mark Senior to Richard Dawkins and to me with a photoshop of PZ with a clown’s read nose and, underneath, a putative quotation from Diogenes of Sinope saying “that which cannot withstand criticism or mockery is false.” The attribution is a lie, of course – if you Google the phrase the only results are the slime pit and Justin Vacula. Diogenes they are not.

Hey Christina Hoff Sommers

Christina Hoff Sommers seems to be getting more unpleasant – or maybe just more active on Twitter, or maybe just retweeted by more people I happen to see. At any rate I find her increasingly unpleasant. I saw one tweet of hers this morning that was so obnoxious I replied to it.

Christina H. Sommers ‏@CHSommers 4h
Hey feminists, will you stop making recklessly false claims like/ “Women own only 1% of world’s property.”http://m.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/03/women-own-1-of-world-property-a-feminist-myth-that-wont-die/273840/ …

Ophelia Benson ‏@OpheliaBenson
.@CHSommers Hey Christina Hoff Sommers, will you stop bashing “feminists”?

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What have you got against flamingoes anyway?

Latsot (Look at the state of that) lists some of the tropes, in a comment at oolon’s place. Quoted with permission.

It would be too depressing to describe all the ‘arguments’ against rape culture I’ve seen, but it might be fun to list some of the tropes. For an especially masochistic definition of ‘fun’. Some of these you’ve already mentioned.

1. Women all the time be faking accusations
2. Being falsely accused of rape is worse than being raped
3. Someone you admire once accused someone of rape so accusing people of rape is always bad (never quite understood this one)
4. You SJW types say you should always believe the victim no matter what (rather than you should always believe the victim PROVISIONALLY unless there’s a good reason not to, which is what we actually tend to say) [Read more...]