Freethought is More Harshly Punished than Child Rape in Saudi Arabia #FreeRaif

A Saudi Arabian man starts a website for freethought and political debate. He’s arrested, threatened with the death penalty, tried for apostasy, and sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1000 lashes. An international effort to secure his release has so far been unsuccessful.

A Saudi Arabian man suspects his five year old daughter of losing her virginity. He forces her to get an examination, then brings her home, where he repeatedly rapes her, and beats her to death with a cane and cables. He crushed her skull, broke her back, ribs and left arm, and burned her in several places. The Saudi royal family prevents him from being released after only a few months in jail and a fine, and a court eventually sentences him to 8 years in prison and 800 lashes. However, he pays her mother blood money ($270,000 – a boy would have been worth double that price), and is released after only a couple of years. [Read more…]

Terrifying Thoughts About the Power of Bad Christian Books to Change Culture

My leisure reading lately has been reviews of Christianist crap, much along the lines of Das Mervin and Jenny Trout’s sporkings of Fifty Shades of Grey Abusive Bullshit. What I do for Christianist textbooks, sites like Heathen Critique do for Christianist films and books. It’s a nice way to unwind, if you’re an odd sort like myself. But sometimes, it gets bloody terrifying, and reminds me there’s a serious reason to push back against really awful religious propaganda.

Take, for instance, the Left Behind series, which Fred Clark reads so we mercifully don’t have to. You may be tempted to dismiss them as nothing more than hack writing, lazy dime store thrillers that are nothing more than empty entertainment. But there are people who really truly believe the shit LaHaye and Jenkins are writing is prophesied to come true, and will happen any time now. Fred, being an evangelical Christian himself, is able to get deep into their worldview and show not just how fucked up it is, but how it informs their attitude towards things like taking care of the environment (why bother when you’re gonna be raptured?), world peace (anyone advocating for it is aiding and abetting the Antichrist), and war (bring on those end times!!!). These books both showcase and reinforce the fucked-up worldviews of people who believe they are living in the End Times, are Real True Christians who will be raptured, and love to smirk at those of us who will be left behind to suffer plagues, famine, war and death by their asshole of a god.

Sometimes, it gives me chills, especially when I realize how these folks are trying to make their prophecies self-fulfilling. [Read more…]

Everyone Combating Creationism Needs to Read The Devil in Dover

It’s been almost a decade since the Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School District trial put Intelligent Design on the witness stand and unmasked it as the religion-lite pseudoscience it is. The repercussions still resonate. It’s very difficult for this nonsense to get footing within schools when an actual Republican judge appointed by none other than George W Bush hisownself has declared it foolishness. You expect blatantly religious claptrap to get struck down by courts no matter the figleaf it wears. But to have a conservative Lutheran judge demolish it sans mercy, issuing an opinion that gave it an unrestrained verbal flailing worthy of the most godless heathen – that was divine.

How the heck did that happen? [Read more…]

My Fellow White Folks: It’s Up to Us to Stop Racism

Racism is our problem to solve.

White people like myself are the ones with the problem, and the ones with the vast majority of the power. You may not feel like it. You may want to believe you’re a minority, too, that you’ve experienced racism, that you’re not a racist and never do racist things, that everyone you know is double-plus good, and anyway, it’s hard and not your problem. I’ve heard you. I’ve lived with you, and gone to school with you, and slept with you, and worked with you, and I have been you. And I’m tired of the excuses. So don’t make them here. If you aren’t willing to be the solution, if all you want to do is say, “Well, yes, but…” and come up with excuses as to why the systemic racism in our society isn’t your fault, then you’re not going to be happy with what I’m telling you. I wasn’t happy when I realized it myself, honestly. But shut up and bear with me. Practice your listening. Don’t stop listening until you’ve reached the end of this post.

Listen to Yemmy, for a start: [Read more…]

The Micro- and Macro-aggressions White Folk Don’t See

My friends of color face scenarios I remain blissfully unaware of. I’ll never forget the shock I felt when my half-Mexican friend told me he’d been pulled over for not making a complete stop at a stop sign on a dead-quiet residential street at two in the morning. Six cop cars showed up on short notice. This is in a town of a few thousand people. As one of the few people of color, he was often given increased scrutiny. It was an issue I’ve never faced. My skin color is invisible to most people, especially police.

If I’d listened, I would have heard many more stories. We white people, we need to listen.

Tony posts a cartoon on black folk sticking up being mistaken for stick-up robbers, and comments: [Read more…]

Roxane Gay is a Bad Feminist – If By “Bad,” You Mean “Awesome”

“I am a bad feminist,” Roxane Gay tells us at the end of her essay collection Bad Feminist. “I would rather be a bad feminist than no feminist at all.” People, I am so glad she’s a feminist, because she’s one of the ones we need with us. It would be awful to have her against us.

Image shows Roxane Gay sitting with her face in her hands, elbows on the table, rolling her eyes.

Bad is for badass, is my opinion. Promo photo from Roxane Gay’s blog.

I’ve been reading Roxane’s blog for some time now, which prepared me to handle this essay collection. You’ll want to be somewhat prepared, because her writing is so smooth and so beautiful, so magnificently real, that you can be taken by complete surprise when she addresses a terrible subject. That’s the problem with really good writers. They suck you in and have you looking through their eyes with little feeling of distance, and that can be harrowing when subjects like rape and murder come up.

[Read more…]