Arrest the Pope for his crimes, not for any cause

I sorta feel like a parent walking into my children’s fight an hour after it started at this point, but there’s apparently a row over whether the “Arrest the Pope” movement will hurt skepticism as a whole. The issue smacks heavily of the Framing Wars. Again. It’s creating a great rift. Again. And it’s annoying the piss outta me. AGAIN.

The rundown for those not in the know: Pope Benedictine XVI (AKA Ratzinger) is in hot water over some concrete proof that emerged very recently, showing that as a Cardinal, he delayed and interfered in the investigation of a pederast priest. This amongst dozens of other allegations. The case against him is actually quite strong, as outlined by human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robinson. The defense seems to be as follows: Bush granted him diplomatic immunity in the US; as head of a state he’s got diplomatic immunity everywhere anyway; and as Pope, he’s the infallible emissary of God on Earth so all this bad press is merely Satan’s way of trying to tear down the holy church.

Smelling blood in the water, evil godless heathen Richard Dawkins and fellow baby-eater Christopher Hitchens discussed the possibility of bringing charges against the Pope to either the International Criminal Court or the Crown Prosecution when he makes a visit to beatify some crufty, old, largely unimportant theist or other of the 19th century. Between them, they came to the conclusion that a human rights lawyer would be the best person to contact, and they ended up getting in touch with the same Geoffrey Robinson of the aforementioned Guardian article.

What merely amounts to a side-note now is the fact that a Rupert Murdoch paper incorrectly titled an article on the subject that went something along the lines of “Richard Dawkins will personally cuff the Pope; Hitchens will ‘Book ‘im Dan-o'”. This caused the initial uproar and much of the retardery about Dawkins being a bomb-tosser that one wouldn’t want to be associated with. Some wags envision it going thusly, a la Bad Boys, though I prefer this imagining:

THIS IS DELUSION! NO, THIS IS JUSTICE!!!

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Atheism and rationalism are different

As much as I agree with Bill Maher on there being no gods, and that organized religion itself is nothing but a sham that gives cover to evil men’s abuses, I’m well within my rights to disagree with him on the subject of vaccinations. The fact that he’s an atheist does not make him a rationalist automatically. So, when I watched this particular Atheist Experience video, I decided I absolutely had to post it.

The video also discusses the “conversion from atheism” arguments that come from so-called ex-atheists like Kirk Cameron. The point is, atheism is separate and distinct from skepticism and rationalism, and such rationalism is an ongoing process — it’s much harder to continue to scrutinize and analyze every claim than it is to let go of skepticism and go for the “easy answer”. And make no mistake — latching onto ideas presented to you without valid evidence (or mistaking invalid evidence for something more valid), is in fact the easy way out.

Is there a doctor in the house?

That is right, these past few weeks when Sci’s blogging has been…a bit light, have not been due to a much needed vacation to some far away island filled with mai-tais (though that would have been very nice). Rather, these weeks have been devoted to…THE DISSERTATION. But now it is done, and Sci is a PhD. For something that Sci has spent a good six years of her life on…it feels very unreal. Sci keeps looking around and wondering where the “Doctor” is. It is rather more of a first step on the huge journey of my scicurious career, one that Sci imagines is not going to be straight or very normal. But it’s still exciting.

It’s so exciting, Sci could SING!!

Guess what song she sings.

Way to go, doc. The intertubes are proud of you.

Doctor Who Adventure Game screenshots!

io9 has a whole bunch of screenshots of the soon-to-be-released free Doctor Who adventure games. I am stoked for this for a few reasons — I adore adventure games, all four games are canon and part of this season (bringing the season episode total to 17!), and the publisher is the same bunch that did the Broken Sword games, the shots look fantastically polished, and did you catch the part where I said they’re FREE?

Plus, if you’re not sharp-eyed enough to notice (or don’t bother with the comments thread), there are Cybermen who are notable in that they are distinctly lacking the Cybus Industries logo. I wonder how they’re going to rewrite THAT then?

Children of Fulton, Mississippi: GFY

I don’t know if you’ve been following this — if you hang around in the same circles that I do online, you probably have. If not, here’s a quick recap. A teen by the name of Constance McMillen asked permission of her school administrators to allow her to wear a tux and bring her girlfriend to the big prom. They said “no way, you’re not allowed to dress in a tux, and you’re not allowed to bring your girlfriend, because we’re bigoted assholes.” (Not in so many words.) Constance tried to sue to be allowed in, and the school shut down the prom for everyone. The judge upheld that she was being discriminated against, but didn’t force the school to reinstate the prom. Parents organized a non-official prom, to which she was invited. However, it was “cancelled” at the last minute, and the school reinstated the official prom at a country club. Only seven people showed up at the official prom — Constance and her date, and two learning-disability kids, along with three others.

Turns out that other, unofficial prom was never really cancelled. All but the seven outcasts went to the parent-organized one. So the “official” prom was a decoy to keep the troublemakers and unpopular kids out.

Stephanie Zvan wrote a missive to the children of Fulton, Mississippi, informing them of what a grave and consequential error they have made in participating in the prom head-fake, and how if they don’t do something to rectify the situation and stand in opposition to the parents and administrators that orchestrated this vile and hurtful trick, they’re destroying their brand and sealing their place in society.

What you did was wrong. It was cruel, and pointlessly cruel. It was stupidly easy and easily the stupidest thing I’ve seen in a long time. You gained nothing by it. Hell, you didn’t even have as much fun as you thought prom should be. And you lost everything.

Remember how you thought about getting out of there and doing something with your life? Forget it. You’re one of “those kids from Fulton” now, and everybody knows what you did. Sure, you can find a school to go to, even one away from home, but it’s going to be one of those schools that’s no good for anything but sending you back where you came from.

You can find a job, kid from Fulton, but it will be a job that requires someone just like you. Prepare to spend the next fifty-some years of your life taking the same kind of orders you’ve been taking from your parents and your teachers and your friends. You’ve just waved goodbye to your chance to grow up and determine how you want to live your own life.

Emphasis mine.

I wish I had something more substantial to add to this discussion, but the best I can manage is:

Kids from Fulton,

GFY.

– Jason

Oh good, Ratzinger’s gonna do something about it

About time we finally get a forceful declaration that the molestation will be curtailed!

The pope said he was deeply disappointed to learn that the number of children sexually abused by priests was almost 10 times beyond the allowable limit clearly outlined in church doctrine. Admitting for the first time in public that the overindulgent touching of “tender, tender young flesh” had become a full-blown crisis, the Holy Father vowed to implement new reforms to bring the pedophilia rate back down to five children per 1,000 clergy.

“The truth is there will always be a little bit of molestation—it’s simply unavoidable,” Vatican spokesperson Rev. Federico Lombardi said. “But the fact that young boys have gotten much more attractive over the past few decades is no excuse for the blatant defiance of church limits that have been in place for centuries.”

“The majority of priests don’t want to molest kids at all,” he added. “But for those who do, we must make sure they’re doing it at a reasonable rate.”

What’s sad is, if this wasn’t an Onion post, it would still be an improvement on the current situation.

The Emperor Palpatine Has No Clothes

Look. I don’t care, honestly, if you believe in God. Or any gods. Or any spiritual force that’s intangible and invisible. I don’t believe, personally, and if you come around here expecting to convert me, I’ll challenge you to back up your claims with some extraordinary evidence. That’s basically how it works around here on this blog, and probably on most atheist blogs. But there’s one thing I will not brook, and that’s apologetics about easily the most vicious, pernicious, self-serving and tenebrous organization that has ever darkened this planet: the Catholic Church.

Why would I be intolerant of a group of people that, in their heart, are either misguided or deluded, you ask? I’m not talking about the “sheep” — the foot soldiers of the Catholic army whose only purpose in the organization is to have their wallets sponged. I’m talking about the church, not the followers, you understand. Because the clergy, the ecclesiasty, all the way up to the Pope his fucking self, are afflicted with a terrible rot that comes from the institution itself. Regardless of what beliefs, what mythology they use to ensnare the people, the institution itself is shiftless and power-hungry. It owns a country, for FSM’s sake; a palace full of gold! And it thinks it’s going to save the world by denying condoms to Africa during an AIDS epidemic. Its one trick up its sleeve for conversion is teaching that sexuality is unnatural, and that leads to major psychological issues in its clergy. Just look at these headlines! Update: forgot to point out that all are from the last month, no less!

How utterly tone-deaf must you be to the mounting crescendo of wailing from the thousands of victims finally, after decades and possibly centuries, being given voice?

Apparently this tone-deaf:

That last one is probably my favorite bit of retardery. It’s not that Satan’s behind the pedophilia and rampant abuse, OH NO, it’s that Satan’s behind all the vicious vicious lies and rumors! That tricksy Devil is telling lies to the media about us! We’re totally pure and innocent; in the meantime keep giving us money!

Don’t even get me started on Bill Donahue. That wretched asshat can go fuck himself. Would that there was a hell, so he, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and every other bloviating religious vulture could all be tortured together for their crimes against decency. It’s such a shame they’ll simply rot in the ground rather than being meted out any eternal reward for their sins.

Evid3nc3 wins!

Chris Redford, AKA Evid3nc3 of Youtube fame, won a video contest sponsored by Project Reason to the tune of a cool $10,000 USD.

Inspired by the emotional and intellectual turmoil of his religious “deconversion,” Redford began to document his experience with videos, five years later. As a graduate student pursuing his doctoral degree in computer science, Redford had a passion for illustrating his journey with images. His YouTube channel, Evid3nc3, is a stream of videos documenting his transformation, and the different stages he went through as he gradually drifted from his former religious beliefs. Redford’s “deconversion” series has received YouTube awards and garnered a large following.

So when Redford stumbled across Project Reason’s video contest, he didn’t think twice about entering.

“Since I had been making these videos about my deconversion I had a lot of experience, and I decided to go for it,” Redford said.

Redford’s video argues for changes to U.S. symbols in order to include atheists, and also documents the history of U.S. religious symbols during the Cold War.

Here’s his winning video.

And if you haven’t yet seen his (yet incomplete) documentary Why I am no longer a Christian, you absolutely need to do so as soon as possible. It’s at once powerful and gripping, and all too familiar to any of us that have deconverted from wholehearted belief.