Learning to Shut Up and Listen

How hard is it for relatively* privileged people to just shut up and listen when people talk about the way society shits on them? I’ll be honest: Really fucking hard. And yet there’s nothing actually easier.

B and I were talking about that yesterday while we were waiting for our gyros. I’d just read a great article about why white people shouldn’t wear dredlocks, and he was all offended by the notion that white folk can’t have any hairstyle they want. Why shouldn’t they?

That knee-jerk response comes so easily to those of us near the top of the privilege heap. [Read more…]

The Supremes Got it Right! And a Timely Reminder that Elections Matter

ZOMG YOU GUYS! WE CAN GO TO ALL THE SAME-SEX WEDDINGS!!! SOME OF US CAN EVEN GET MARRIED AT THEM!!!!!!

I hope you’re satisfied, my QUILTBAG friends.

See, I’d hoped to protect you from this shit. Y’know, like, having to buy a ring, and pop the question, and choose the date, and venue, and get a cake (which we all know can go horrifically wrong, even if you’re baker loves same-sex weddings), and deal with all the family drama what with Aunt Margaret not talking to Cousin Leslie anymore, and then the humdrum ordinariness of married life, and the house, and the kids, and the bills, and the harsh reality of what “til death” and “in sickness and in health” really means. I’d thought you had a good deal, avoiding all that shit. It was kinda like back in the nineties when we thought the military wasn’t accepting pagans, and I was really glad, because I didn’t want any of my pagan friends to die in some bullshit war. I was against same-sex marriage before I was for it, because I figured you didn’t need the aggravation. But, since you wanted it so very much, I changed my mind, just like I did with my pagan friends who wanted to serve our country without having to hide who they are. And I’m getting happily drunk for you right now.

I’m still not sure why some of ya’ll want to sign up for the military when you don’t have to, but I’m old enough now to see why marriage is a big deal, and I’m just sorry it took so fucking long for our country to say, “Oh, hell. If you want it, go on, you crazy kids! Get hitched!”

Even if some of you crazy kids aren’t exactly kids, on account of having to wait so damn long. [Read more…]

You Can Save Atheist Bloggers’ Lives

You may have seen the stories about Bangladeshi bloggers hacked to death by Islamist assholes for being open about unbelief. You’ve surely heard of Raif Badawi, who is being more harshly punished for his freethought writings than another man is for raping a child. If you’re like me, you’ve watched, helplessly, as people die and there’s so very little we can do to stop it.

Now we have a chance to act. [Read more…]

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…]

Let’s Bring Skepticon and the Ada Initiative Together! #skeptics4ada

So, remember how I talked about taking our activism, passion and filthy atheist lucre elsewhere?  Here’s an elsewhere: the Ada Initiative. It’s named for Ada Lovelace, “the enchantress of numbers” and the first person who wrote an algorithm meant for machines. She was essentially a computer programmer before there were even computers, people. That’s how awesome she is.

Image is a watercolor of Ada Lovelace, wearing a lovely purple dress and holding a fan.

Ada Lovelace, my darlings. She exudes awesome, doesn’t she just? I definitely need to make this costume for Halloween once I’ve got the hang of this seamstress stuff. Watercolor portrait by Alfred Edward Chalon (1780–1860). Image courtesy Science & Society Picture Library via Wikimedia Commons.

So this foundation honors her memory by supporting women in tech. They are not afraid of a certain f-word, either:

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Sponsor Jamila Bey, And She’ll Talk About All the Verboten Topics!

Let’s do something positive for public atheism: sponsor Jamila Bey! This sounds awesome:

“The Sex Politics And Religon Hour: SPAR with Jamila Show” considers all the topics one was never supposed to raise in polite company. It’s coming back as a podcast. You can be part of its glorious relaunch!”

Says it all, doesn’t it? If you want more information on the project, or want to pledge your support, visit her Beacon page. But do it fast – the fundraiser ends tomorrow!

Image shows Jamila Bey looking over her shoulder and grinning.

Photo of Jamila Bey from her G+ page.

This is the kind of thing we can throw our support to, with so many of the atheist orgs treating us like they can have their sexist bullshit and our dollars, too. Let’s support independent atheists who can put together the kind of media that will inspire whole new batches of freethinkers while feeding our own need for change:

We’ll discuss the more interesting things in our world and our lives. These shows and blog posts will investigate the role of race, gender, political affiliation and other alleged private beliefs and assumptions that bear upon the news and newsmakers.

If you can, please do go throw some funds Jamila’s way. Search for her videos on YouTube. And if you want to learn how to pronounce her name and get a taste of her merciless humor, watch this all the way through. (Just don’t come crying to me about how meaaan she is if you’re a Republican, cuz you earned every damn word.)

So Much Wrong: James Randi’s Rape Culture Remarks

Interesting factoid: James Randi doesn’t think women are worth as much as men. Oh, I’m sure if I got hold of him on the phone, he’d deny that. Probably would have some wonderful words about how amazing women are and how much he respects them and equality and achievement and such. Problem is, if he spoke those words, I wouldn’t believe him. Neither does he, deep down.

Let’s look at the evidence, shall we? Here is what he told Mark Oppenheimer, who blew the lid off Shermer’s (alleged) career as a serial sexual harasser and assaulter. [Read more…]

The Shermer Allegations: Some Considerations for Those to Whom This Is a Nasty Shock

I have to admit, it’s something of a relief to have Mark Oppenheimer’s article on Michael Shermer published. Shame about Buzzfeed dumping it on a Friday, but I have a feeling it’s not going to generate a bit of quiet chatter and then fade away. No, I hear the crackling hiss of a fuse burning, and I don’t think we’ll see the explosion for a few days, at least. The skeptic, science journalism, and atheist communities are all going to get rocked pretty solidly. And I doubt Shermer will be the only big name facing named accusers. Things are going to get mighty uncomfortable. But they couldn’t go on the way they were.

unacceptable
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Ferguson: Some Concrete Actions You Can Take

Things are calming down in Ferguson, but that doesn’t mean we’re done. There’s still a dead teenager, and a culture that finds it all too easy to throw black lives away, and a police department absolutely determined to do nothing, not even fill in a police report on the shooting.

You may feel helpless. You may feel like there’s nothing you can do, but there is. [Read more…]