CNN panelist on Chelsea Manning: Prison will be “practice”

If it wasn’t for the fact that she really quickly chimed in with where she wanted to go next with this panel, I would have thought the anchor’s face was one of horror at lawyer Richard Herman’s bullshit.

Trigger warning for transphobia and a rape joke, which I’ve already telegraphed in the title.


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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.

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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.

#FtBCON: Atheism Is Not Enough panel

As proven by the deep rifts that exist within movement atheism, a common acknowledgement that there is no god is often not enough ground on which to build a coherent, lasting community. Social justice movements often encounter tipping points where they either take into account the natural allies that are other movements, or they fail. Debbie Goddard, Desiree Schell, James Croft, Kimberley Veal, Kim Rippere and Yemisi Ilesanmi all joined me to discuss atheism and social justice, and how atheism shouldn’t be the endpoint of a journey into freethought, but the beginning.

This was a two hour panel. It will be a beast to transcribe. I will pitch in when I can, if someone sets up a transcription project for this.

#FtBCon: Mission Creep (with text)

FtBConscience banner

My talk for FtBConscience! Hooray!

Comments are disabled there, but are enabled here. The video should hopefully also helpfully direct would-be commenters here via the description.

Full text of my speech below the fold. It doesn’t contain any of the verbal burrs or slight tangents I took but it’s largely intact. I hope some kind soul is good enough to transcribe the Q&A portion, but if not, I’ll do so myself eventually. Richard Carrier asked a question about libertarianism, and I was forced to answer honestly rather than hedging. I’m sure I’ll incur some wrath!

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12-year-old boy speaks truth to Egyptian power

If this translation is anywhere near accurate, this child could absolutely be, as the title of the video suggests, the next President of Egypt. That is, if he survives that long. He is astoundingly clued-in, and he is possibly the bravest young man I’ve had the honour to see in my entire life, knowing how volatile the Egyptian situation is, and knowing how quick to silence dissent the fascist theocracy is that’s rising to replace the overthrown Morsi.

I fear for his life. That should not be the first reaction a person has to seeing someone contradict power structures. That’s no way to win the hearts and minds of your people, to build a country and a society that will last.

Tell Canadian senators not to pass “Pope Day” bill!

Theobromine of CFI Canada, regular commenter here and elsewhere on FtB, passed along this change.org petition asking the Canadian government to reconsider the private member bill which has passed the House of Commons on its third reading, and is now apparently in the Senate. The bill would honour Pope John Paul II, who attempted to intervene with Chretien and gay marriage, who spent his 25 years as pope furthering the Catholic causes of undermining human rights worldwide, who misspent those same 25 years doing absolutely zero for the children being abused under his watch, with a designated day of celebration in his name.

Bill C-266 is a Private Member’s Bill, sponsored by Wladyslaw Lizon (Mississauga East—Cooksville). It recently passed third reading in the House of Commons, and is currently before the Senate (more information here).

By signing this petition to oppose Bill C-266, you are showing your commitment to the principles of human rights for all, regardless of religion, sexual orientation, and gender. An email will be sent to Senate Speaker Noel Kinsella, and James Cowan, leader of the opposition in the Senate. We encourage you to contact other members of the Senate, by phone, email, or post – contact information is here.

You can find a record of how MPs voted on this bill here.   We encourage you to thank your MP for voting “NAY” or to protest your MP’s “YEA” vote; MPs’ contact information is here.

To:
Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker of the Senate
Honourable James S. Cowan, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate
Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker of the Senate
Honourable James S. Cowan, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate

The designation of a day for Canada to officially recognize Pope John Paul II is inconsistent with the goals and values established and promoted by the Government of Canada.
While John Paul II was a charismatic figure, his record as leader of the Catholic Church is full of scandal and poor management. Barbara Blaine, head of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) group, points out, “In more than 25 years as the most powerful religious figure on the planet, John Paul II did almost nothing to safeguard kids.”
Pope John Paul vigorously supported the Catholic Church’s opposition to contraception, abortion and homosexuality. He personally intervened to advise Jean Chretien against introducing legislation to allow same-sex marriage. His edicts against condom use undermined worldwide public health efforts to control the spread of AIDS.
For these reasons, I ask you to refuse to pass Bill C-266, the bill that would that establish April 2nd as Pope John Paul II Day in Canada.

Sincerely,
[Your name]

I can’t stress enough how odious and antithetical to the causes of humanitarianism and charity and every positive trait the worldwide community knows of Canada as a country. Honouring the past Pope would undermine everything we claim to hold dear as Canadian citizens. Go vote. I’m doing so, as a genuinely concerned Canadian citizen who dearly wants my nation to uphold my values, even if I’m not living in the country any more.

I signed the following:

Everything Pope John Paul II stood for is antithetical to Canadian values. His views on so-called moral issues like abortion, homosexuality and AIDS were anti-science, anti-reality, and anathema to more enlightened views on how society should interact ethically. I see no reason, except as a sop to religious sentiments, why a “Pope Day” would in any way be a good fit for Canada or for Canadians. I think honouring people for their stances against basic human rights and civil liberties is blinkered, and the MPs who voted for this should be ashamed of themselves.

Maddow to GOP: Anti-gay bigotry is not a winning strategy

Aww. Rachel, you’re spoiling it for us. They keep using a failing strategy, and they keep losing as a result. Don’t tip them off!!

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Going to visit Pride today. I expect I’ll be tabling this afternoon for Minnesota Atheists, though I’m not yet a dues-paying member. Come out and say hello!

Gay marriage is no threat to heterosexual marriage

Via their Facebook page, the group Heterosexuals for Same Sex Equality has released a timely video (though, honestly, when is this NOT timely, with enemies to the cause of equal rights so devoted to making life miserable for people just because they are not like them?).

You may recognize some of the people in the video.

Humanist Views: Canada and Humanism

Last night, I taped an episode of Humanist Views with Scott Lohman of Humanists of Minnesota.

I haven’t had a chance to re-watch it and see exactly how I present on this program — I’m sure there are verbal missteps in there, and I just hope I didn’t say anything egregiously offensive to anyone. I do know that the lights were very warm and very bright, and I got the very distinct sense that my thin head fuzz wasn’t enough to keep it from being reflective. I did check to see that voices and movement aligns later in the re-encode, so at least it should be watchable. I think I turned on automatic closed captioning (I’m a Youtoob noob), so that’ll be a fun reason to re-watch it later.

Humanist Views’ opening sequence is very hilariously 90s, but that just makes ’em all the more charming to me.

Mock The Movie: Atlas Shrugged part 1

We did it. We went there. This past Wednesday, we girded our loins for battle and took on quite possibly the dullest, most cynical, most breathtakingly stupefyingly successful movie adaptations of Ayn Rand’s oeuvre ever created — by which I mean, it made $4.6 million gross despite a cost of $20 million. And that despite its complete lack of real special effects outside of a magical train, its obvious use of hotel ballrooms and stock footage and public domain music, its series of second-string actors. This was a movie that felt like it was made on the cheap, and it did miserably. But insofar as it was actually made into a movie, it was actually made into a movie, surprising the living fuck outta us all.

But the selfish quarter of our society really loved it, for all the same reasons as they loved the book — its putting unfettered capitalism and self-interest on a pedestal as the only way to create good in this world, its unabashed damning of straw-socialism, and its dystopian message that society would crumble if the number-pushers stopped pushing numbers because everyone below them is just lazy parasites.

You know, FICTION.

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