The outing of Reddit’s “Violentacrez” is all over the place. He’s one of Reddit’s most loathsome users (members? denizens? occupants? what’s the right word?), and Adrian Chen outed him on Gawker as one Michael Brutsch, who works at a Texas financial services company  as a programmer.

Loathsome how?

His speciality is distributing images of scantily-clad underage girls, but as Violentacrez he also issued an unending fountain of racism, porn, gore, misogyny, incest, and exotic abominations yet unnamed, all on the sprawling online community Reddit. [Read more…]

And so there was a lot of fear and terrible desperation

One of the things religion does is create artificial misery. One of the ways religion does this is by making people feel agonizing terror about eternal torture for themselves or people they love or both, or by making them feel agonizing despair and grief at angering or alienating God. This is especially vile when the putative eternal torture or alienation from God is caused by actions or thoughts that are in no way bad. The misery is doubly artificial (and thus gratuitous and cruel) in these situations: there is no eternal punishment, and the putative Sin is not bad or wicked.

The entrenched belief that not being straight is Sin is a classic and still very active example. Consider Peterson Toscano for instance, a survivor of “ex-gay” therapy. [Read more…]

She wept and begged to be released

Spare a thought for that little girl in Pakistan who is in jail for “blasphemy” because she (supposedly, allegedly, some asshole saidly) had some pages of the Koran in a bag of trash, or put some pages of the Koran in a fire along with other trash, or some such stupid meaningless unreasonable bit of nonsense. Spare a thought for her, because she wants to get out. She would probably prefer to be at home, with people who love her and take care of her.

According to the BBC’s Orla Guerin in Islamabad, Rimsha’s lawyer said that when he saw her in jail over the weekend she wept and begged to be released.

Her parents have been taken into protective custody following threats, and many other Christian families are reported to have fled the neighbourhood.

There are fears that even if she is released, Rimsha’s family will not be safe in Pakistan. Others accused of blasphemy have been killed by vigilante mobs in the recent past.

Human beings: finding shitty reasons to torment each other for 100,000 years.

Here’s something for skeptics to debate

What’s wrong with torturing animals for fun? Why not, after all?

Nothing should be off the table when skeptics get together for a chin-wag, right? So recreational animal torture should be on the table. It shouldn’t be a given that that’s not ok, just the way “treat people as equals” shouldn’t be a given, because skepticism. Right? We can’t just assume that torturing animals for shits&giggles is a crap idea; we have to demonstrate that it is, with evidence.

Why, for instance, is there anything wrong with the fact that someone encased a live kitten in concrete up to the front legs on the property of FLDS (Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints) patriarch Isaac Wyler? Why is it stomach-turning to read that a sheriff’s officer laughed about it?

I hate to do this, because it freaks me out and I know it will freak others out, but I’m going to include the picture. Be warned: it’s painful to look at.  I took the picture down, by request. It’s on the post linked just above. It’s worth having it on the record, because it conveys the horribleness required to carry out the act – but that certainly doesn’t mean everyone has to look at it. [Read more…]

Another turn of the screw

The brains of children raised in violent families resemble the brains of soldiers exposed to combat, according to an article in Wired.

They’re primed to perceive threat and anticipate pain, adaptations that may be helpful in abusive environments but produce long-term problems with stress and anxiety.

“For them to detect early cues that might signal danger is adaptive. It allows them to react, to try and avoid the danger,” said psychologist Eamon McCrory of University College London. However, “a very similar neural signature characterizes quite a few anxiety disorders.”

Absolutely nothing surprising there. Bad things keep happening, so you develop a strong tendency to react quickly…and you’re stuck with it. A lifetime of feeling extra, exaggerated fear and dread. What a gift.

It’s not at all surprising but it’s deeply sad.

The milk of human kindness

And then there’s Gulnare Freewill Baptist church, which told a parishioner – ever so politely, you understand – that her fiancé couldn’t come to the church again, on account of how he’s not a white person. Perfectly understandable. It’s because they (church members who voted on “the issue”) want to promote greater unity among the church body and the community. Obviously you can’t do that if there’s a not-white person at the church when all the other persons there are white. That would promote lesser unity. Everybody would look around uneasily and kind of split apart.

Melvin Thompson, former pastor of Gulnare Freewill Baptist church, proposed the ban after Stella Harville brought her fiance, Ticha Chikuni, to services in June. Harville, who goes by the name Suzie, played the piano while Chikuni sang.

[Read more…]

They’re not here to play

Frank Schaeffer fills us in on the world of evangelical child discipline for the glory of god, otherwise known as child abuse.

There’s the Texas judge, there are Michael and Debi Pearl, there’s James Dobson, and there’s Bill Gothard.

And it is not just individuals who are abused. Whole “Christian” organizations are involved. According to a report by Channel 13 WTHR Indianapolis (and many other media sources over the years),

“At first glance, the Bill Gothard-founded and run Indianapolis Training Center looks like an ordinary conference hotel. But some say there are dark secrets inside. “They’re not here to play,” Mark Cavanaugh, an ITC staffer tells a mother on hidden-camera video. ‘They’re here because they’ve been disobedient, they’ve been disrespectful.'” [Read more…]