The Unstoppable Force of Huxley, Darwin, and Frances Power Cobbe

Reading this book on Victorian England’s marriage laws is slow going, because I keep running into fascinating women. Mary Lyndon Shanley quotes a snippet of their work, and then I end up haring off after the source and promptly getting immersed in that instead. I made it to Chapter Two, and I did intend to get all the way to Three, but then I ran into Frances Power Cobbe. And I had to read her article “Criminals, idiots, women and minors” in its entirety. It is so full of good things that I will probably quote from it even more. The woman was a caution. She may have been an anti-vivisectionist, but she completely eviscerates the laws against married women owning their own property. She impales her opponents’ arguments on their own logic before she finishes them off with several master strokes. It’s just amazeballs.

Since we’re just past Darwin Day, I figured I’d share this bit with you. It seems appropriate. [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…]

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…]

Charlie Hebdo Journalists Murdered by Religious Fanatics

Ah, yes, adherents of the Religion of Peace™ peacefully protesting cartoons they don’t like by murdering cartoonists wholesale.

They want to terrorize people into silence. They will, if we allow fear to shrink us down to terrified little things skittering away at the slightest hint we may upset the religious sensibilities of men with guns. Well, I’m not interested in being a fearful skittering little thing today. I’m inclined to rub their noses in what they despise.

Cover of Charlie Hebdo. The man in the turban is saying, "100 blows of the whip if you are not laughing!"

Cover of Charlie Hebdo. The man in the turban is saying, “100 blows of the whip if you are not laughing!”

Like Yemmy says,

It would be a great idea to widely reproduce the images these barbarians killed people for. The world needs to say NO to this intimidation by these barbaric, bloodthirsty religious fanatics!

Cover of Charlie Hebdo for The Life of Mohammed, Part One: the Debut of the Prophet. Image is a goofy yellow man leading a sweating camel in a desert with rocky hills in the background.

Cover of Charlie Hebdo for The Life of Mohammed, Part One: the Debut of the Prophet.

I hope that Charlie Hebdo can continue on. I hope the magazine has enough staff members left to carry on despite the tragedy, and that cartoonists line up around the world to contribute their work. I hope a million Charlie Hebdos spring up around the world. Let the fanatics see that killing people who satirize their prophet will accomplish nothing besides making the killers and their enablers pariahs, giving a huge boost to apostate and progressive Muslims, and lead to most people in the world deciding that, no matter how many warm fuzzy feels they may have for religion, it needs some disrespect if its followers are willing to murder people over cartoons.

You want your religion to be respected? Use it to become the best people you can be. Make it something worthy of respect. Don’t think you can demand respect at gunpoint. And don’t think your religion can shield you from the consequences of your murderous actions.

Charlie Hebdo cover showing a Muslim man with crosses for eyes, holding a Koran in front of him. Both Koran and man are being riddled with bullets. The French captions say, "The Koran is shit. It can't stop bullets." The purple box says, "Slaughter in Egypt."

Charlie Hebdo cover saying, “The Koran is shit. It can’t stop bullets.” The purple box says, “Slaughter in Egypt.”

There’s nothing honorable or noble in what these people did. They aren’t honoring their god. They’re just proving that if it exists, and if it approves of this sort of brutality, it deserves nothing but our condemnation. They’d demonstrating that religion does not make people moral, and in fact, too often inspires murder. We must eradicate this inane idea that a deity is up there that cares so deeply about offensive cartoons that it demands artists be slaughtered.

My heart goes out to the survivors and the victims’ loved ones.

Amusing Ammunition You Can Lob at Your Conservative Family Members

Ah, yes, tis the season when many of us are forced to display some false jolly with relations and family friends who treat Fox News as the gospel truth. Normally, those conversations are terribly awkward and often infuriating. But this year, my darlings, I have got something for you that should help ease the pain.

When next your relation/relations/family friend begins a full-throated conservative cry on Things That Must Be True Because Fox News Said So, show them this shining example of Fox’s journalistic integrity. [Read more…]

Perhaps It’s Time to Renounce My Atheism and Worship Satan

I love it when Satanists see Christians behaving badly achieving freedom of religion and decide to twist their noses partake of said freedom (via Zingularity):

In a statement, the Satanic Temple said that it will use the Supreme Court’s recent Hobby Lobby decision to exempt its believers from state-mandated informed consent laws that require women considering abortions to read pro-life material.

Informed consent or “right to know” laws state that women seeking elective abortions be provided with information about alternatives to the procedure, often couched in language that attempts to personify the fetus. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 35 states currently have informed consent laws, and of those, 33 require that the woman be told the gestational age of the fetus.

In some states, that information consists of pro-life propaganda that links abortion to a higher incidence of breast and ovarian cancers, or discusses “post-abortion syndrome,” a mental condition not recognized by any major medical or psychiatric organization.

Because the Satanic Temple bases its belief “regarding personal health…on the best scientific understanding of the world, regardless of the religious or political beliefs of others,” it claims that state-mandated information with no basis in scientific fact violates its “religious” beliefs.

[Read more…]

What Recent Supreme Court Decisions Have Told Me About My Value as a Woman and a Human Being

I’ve learned so much from the Supreme Court over the last few years:

Corporations are totes people who have the right to put as much money where their mouth is as they want – well, they don’t technically have mouths, but they’re still American people who have every right to talk as much as those mere biological people they’re notorious for trodding upon.

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310 (2010) Limits on corporate and union political expenditures during election cycles violate the First Amendment. Corporations and labor unions can spend unlimited sums in support of or in opposition to candidates as long as the spending is independent of the candidates.

(Notice we hoi polloi are thrown a sop in the form of labor unions being able to spend unlimited sums – which would be nice, if it weren’t for the fact that corporations have been busy murdering unions for decades. Hey – does that count as first-degree murder? Because that means we should be able to imprison or execute them, then.)

Corporations and rich people have lots more freedom of speech than people who aren’t rich or corporations. [Read more…]

New at Rosetta Stones: Links to the Geology Behind the Oso Mudslide Disaster

I’m still researching for a post on the slide that destroyed Oso, Washington and killed so many of its residents. In the meantime, I’ve collected links from the experts, who are doing an excellent job exploring the geology behind the catastrophe. I hope a lot of future town planners and other sorts who determine where and what to build are in the audience, and click, and think.

Aerial photo of Oso debris flow. There used to be a town down there. Image shows lumpy debris blocking the river. Courtesy Gov. Jay Inslee via Flickr. (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Aerial photo of Oso debris flow. There used to be a town down there. Courtesy Gov. Jay Inslee via Flickr. (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Taking Liberties: A Book We Need Right Now

So you may have noticed lately that the right-wing ratfuckers in state governments are busy trying to roll us back to the Dark Ages. Women aren’t people, they’re “hosts” to those precious babies that will be cherished so long as they’re in the womb; once they’re out, both host and infant will be despised as social parasites if they have the audacity to be unmarried and/or poor. Some jackass is trying to slip prayer into schools by forcing teachers to read congressional prayers. In my former home state of Arizona, the frothing fundies boiled over, and decided to give religious people the right to discriminate against gays, because apparently, refusing to let them patronize your business is an act of worship. Other states have jumped on that horrible bandwagon. And let’s not forget the Russia-envy they’ve got going on. They’ve got a stiffy for totalitarian shitlords who hate on the same groups they do.

Outraged? Good. Here’s a book that will help you channel that rage more productively: [Read more…]

Keeping Up With the Creationists Vol. I Issue 5: Freedom to Impose Your Religion on Everyone Else

My, the religious right frothers have been busy lately. It’s not enough for them to reduce women to the status of walking incubators: now they’re trying to define religious freedom as the freedom to impose their bigotry on anyone they suspect might not use their genitals in the Fundamentalist-Approved Way™.

My old home state of Arizona certainly made a ginormous jackass of itself, passing a right-to-discriminate bill that would basically turn anyone they suspect of being homosexual, queer, transgender, or any other type of person they hate into an outcast. Businesses would have been allowed to turn anyone they wished away. This would have been a nightmare for everyone, but especially those poor folks living in one of Arizona’s middle-of-nowhere communities, where finding someone willing to serve you might require several hours’ worth of driving. Even some of the fuckwads pushing that bill realized after the fact that it might be a horrific mistake – one suspects they figured out their language was so broad that Good Christians™ like themselves would’ve found themselves targeted, too. Not to mention the impact it was having on business and tourism in the state. So Jan Brewer vetoed it. We won’t see its like again for, oh, I’d imagine at least a whole week. And Arizona’s just one of the worst offenders – there are plenty of states trying to turn the LGBTQ community into untouchables.

Image is a drawing of a waiter talking to a diner. Caption says, "Congratulations to gay Arizonans on still being allowed to eat where people hate you."

Let’s see what other ridiculous nonsense Christianists in government are trying to foist upon us. [Read more…]