Ask Dawkins to reconsider his evaluation of the harms of “mild pedophilia”

I would very much like it if people stopped treating Dawkins as the Secular Pope. We don’t want any “leaders” in this movement, and yet friends of the secular movement will bow and scrape, and foes will treat him as the King of Atheism whose decrees are handed down from on high for all to internalize. Hell, half the time we can barely decipher what he’s saying. Take Twitter for example. A 140 character limit does the man no justice whatsoever — he does not wear “pithy” well.

His recent misstep is, as I’m sure you’re all aware, less than pithy — he’s been given plenty of time and space to bring this intellectual pursuit to full flower, and this is what he’s come up with: his recent suggestion that being sexually assaulted as a child is less bad than being brought up religious, and that one shouldn’t condemn sexual assault done in another era under different social mores.
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r/MensRights reminds me why I don’t Reddit

L'il Rascals scene: He-Man Woman Haters Club.

Heh heh. That one guy’s name is SPANKY.

A funny thing happened yesterday. I started seeing hits from Reddit. A *lot* of hits. Fully a fifth of my traffic came from a particular thread on Reddit — despite my being in a slow blogging period, posting my one post I managed very late in the day, and despite the long tail on my bigger posts already waning.

(In other words, by “a lot” of hits, I mean ~400. About what I’ll get from posting a video of a turtle doing something cute.)

So I clicked through to see what I was linked from, Turns out, it was r/MensRights, and they were opining that I’m a terrible human being, a beta mangina, and a sop for the Gynocracy because of this post.
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Maddow: North Carolina voter suppression efforts are succeeding

Rachel Maddow analyzes recent developments in North Carolina, showing without a doubt that the Republican Party is systematically suppressing votes statewide, entrenching themselves politically at the expense of democracy itself.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

The most damning thing about all of this is how easy it is for power to entrench itself. And that half of your nation doesn’t even see this cheat-to-win as a trend, with the chaff they keep throwing up about electoral fraud necessitating stricter ID regulations, as though that is actually happening. All you have to do is lie repeatedly about statistical improbabilities to the point of making them into bogeymen and you can get laws in place that undercut democracy itself. Scare the populace into taking extraordinary measures against things that simply aren’t happening, and you get severe miscarriages of justice.

Should Spider-Man be gay?

Spider-Man kissing dudes upside-down, sans rain. Photo by Philip Bonneau, stolen from Project Q Atlanta.

Spider-Man kissing dudes upside-down, sans rain. Photo by Philip Bonneau, stolen from Project Q Atlanta.

There’s nothing I enjoy more than watching right-wingers lose their shit over people NOT treating homosexuals as eeeevul deviant pre-verts, except perhaps watching an entire media’s fandom lose their shit over an idea for injecting novelty into their favourite franchise that involves, you know, actually changing it. This is one of those rare celestial alignment type coincidences that is probably pretty unlikely to happen again any time soon. We should take careful note, and savour it for all it’s worth.

Andrew Garfield, star of the current iteration of Spider-Man movies — a franchise that, full disclosure, I absolutely love, and for which I found the Sam Raimi movies underwhelming at best — has suggested to the director, then publicly, that he sees no reason that Peter Parker shouldn’t be gay, exploring his sexuality in a rebooted universe where it turns out MJ is a guy.

Right-Wing Watch reports that this has majorly rustled the jimmies of Charisma’s Jennifer LeClaire:

Really? Don’t we have enough gay comic book heroes? About this time last year, DC Comics outed the Green Lantern. When he’s not wearing his neon-green garb and accomplishing superhuman feats, the chiseled Green Lantern enjoys kissing his new boyfriend. As I noted in my column last year, perhaps DC Comics was trying to compete with its rival, Marvel Comics, which announced just days earlier that it would host the first gay wedding in the June 20 issue of Astonishing X-Men #51.

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Listen more, be more charitable, moderate blogs and forums

I pity the poor sod who has to wade through and moderate all the comments over at CFI’s blog. Frankly, they’ve got possibly the worst job in the world right now. However, I’m going to push that fact aside for a moment, mute that in-built empathy for my fellow human being for just long enough to complain that they’re not actually doing that job to any degree one can call reasonable.

I’m not necessarily going to BLAME them, per se, though. The tone has been set in Ron Lindsay’s three blog posts that are about his experience at Women In Secularism 2.

Note that these blog posts are not ABOUT Women In Secularism 2, which was a tightly organized and implemented CFI conference, and which by my understanding, through the rumour mill, is the CFI conference closest to breaking even this year (can we get independent verification of this?). It was by all accounts a success, but by no accounts an unmitigated one. It was bookended by tone-deaf missives about how terrible feminists have been to certain clueless, privileged dudebros in our community. In fact, the first one, by Ron Lindsay, carried with it a heavy dose of shame for daring to invoke the sociological concept of privilege, showing a blatant misunderstanding of the word.

But that’s not what I’m talking about today. I’ll be fisking his post another day — and on that day I’m sure I’ll be called irrational and compared disfavourably to some despotic country. Today, instead, I’m talking about the CFI Open Letter, and how it reflects upon the community what’s being left up in the comments on those blog posts.
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Privilege, Dialogue, Harassment, and the Anti-Availability Heuristic

The Availability Heuristic is a well-known cognitive bias that primes people to more readily believe something when they can easily come up with examples. Of the cognitive biases that I’ve encountered among rationalists in the skeptical and atheist communities, this bias is the one I’m most capable of coming up with examples. I am therefore primed to believe more readily that atheists and skeptics are not immune to this bias — myself included.

But there’s a little-discussed inverse to this bias, where examples are generally filtered out of one’s daily existence because they don’t impact on you directly, and thus, you are less ready to believe someone claiming to experience them. I call this the anti-availability heuristic, though I’m sure there are better names for it.
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WaPo: Homegrown radicals opposed “US actions in the Muslim world”. See what they did there?

I have hardly had any time lately to blog (or much of anything leisure-related, honestly), but I’ve been trying to keep an eye on how the media’s been reporting on the Boston Marathon bombing. With Glenn Beck and the rest of the right-wing desperate to make this bombing about Islam, to fuel the rampant anti-Muslim racism in the States presently, this particular news article jumped at me as just a little too blatant about drawing links that aren’t there. It takes some ridiculous contortions to make the Boston bombing suspects’ actions have anything whatsoever to do with Islam, and the Washington Post was more than willing to pretzel themselves in an article purporting to explain how the brothers are essentially home-grown domestic terrorists with non-existent ties to outside influence.

The wording here is just too precious:

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe an ongoing investigation, said Dzhokhar and his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was killed by police as the two attempted to avoid capture, do not appear to have been directed by a foreign terrorist organization.

Rather, the officials said, the evidence so far suggests they were “self-radicalized” through Internet sites and U.S. actions in the Muslim world. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has specifically cited the U.S. war in Iraq, which ended in December 2011 with the removal of the last American forces, and the war in Afghanistan, where President Obama plans to end combat operations by the end of 2014.

Emphasis mine.

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Defamation is not disagreement

So today, on my latest Mock the Movie transcript, this post hit my moderation wall:

Author : ShiningMoon (IP: 98.89.26.128 , adsl-98-89-26-128.mgm.bellsouth.net)
E-mail : [email protected]
URL :
Whois : http://whois.arin.net/rest/ip/98.89.26.128
Comment:
A girlfriend of mine and my girlfriend (friend and S.O. I’m lesbian) pointed out that people here aren’t taking what happened to her at the hands of Jason seriously. My girlfriend was raped. Thibeault did that. What people want to say in a friend’s defense won’t change that. I’ll believe my girlfriend over this guy.

However, another thing that I’ve found about this website in the past days are that its generally respectful of victims saying they were abused. So, what did he tell you? Did he claim that she also said he didn’t rape her? This isnt what happened. Consideration that Jason might’ve added details in is what keeps me from judging those who simply accept his word that my girlfriend is a liar. This is all I have to say. I won’t be arguing with people here about whether or not my girlfriend was raped, partly because she doesn’t want a drawn out discussion, and partly because I myself won’t endure that.

Taunts like “Where’s she? Why won’t she face him herself if she’s truly a victim?” will NOT be acknowledged. Assuming that someone is likely to be comfortable facing him, even online, is ignorant at least.

Fascinating. No details? No facts? Just an attempt to put the fear of MRA’s False Rape Accusation Trope into me?
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On the meme of giving and taking offense

I haven’t been able to get my knuckles scraped up in this particular brawl lately, but I HAVE noticed something that I feel I need to say. I intended this post for today to just be a linking post to Stephanie’s recent rundown of the situation, wherein she lays waste to the claim that our fights are about “bad werdz”. It’s never about the words, it’s about harm. It’s about trying to give offense as a strategy, one that’s intentionally chosen, by the opponents of those who dare call themselves both free thinkers and feminists.

There’s a meme hidden in amongst all these conversations that I’ve heard quite often in a different context, of religious folks “taking offense” at your “attacks” on their religion.

vjack also just doesn’t “get” XYZ-shaming.

Accusations of [insert noun of your choice here]-shaming are rarely helpful because nobody else has the power to make us feel shame unless we give it to them.

vjack apparently thinks we live in a world in which we have just one social encounter at a time and that these never add up in some way to become those emergent entities we call “communities” and “cultures”.

This is an identical construction to this other idea that one cannot “give offense”, one can only “take” it. Meaning, it is not possible for someone to be offended by something unless they allow themselves to become offended by it. It’s something I’ve heard Matt Dillahunty use several times against religious folks who claim that his ability to lay bare the hypocrisy behind their religion means he’s attacking THEM, and they are offended by such things.

But no matter how right Matt was that these people shouldn’t take offense, the specific meme that “offense cannot be given” was wrong then too.

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