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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Paul Cameron: “Gays more likely to have sex with kids and animals, according to survey produced by My Rectum”

Okay, that’s not an exact quote, but damned if it’s not close enough to be serviceable. Some survey this anti-gay group produced, has apparently determined that a quarter of gays have had sex with kids or animals. I’d love to see the methodology used. Actually, hell — I’d love to see evidence that the “survey” exists at all.

How many times must we say it? Pedophilia and bestiality are problems because of consent, and the inability to obtain informed consent from the other participants. Lack of informed enthusiastic consent is the core and only factor that makes it acceptable for society as a whole to frown upon any sexual activity, in my view. And the reason that it’s harmful to children to have sex with them, even if they think they’re mature enough to handle the repercussions and think they’re consenting, is that psychologically, most of the time, they’re not.

The only reason these preachers and evangelists and homophobes go to that well is because they know that people (rightly) frown upon bestiality and pedophilia, and they involve sexual acts that are not part of “normal sex education”, and so are taboo. The parallels are drawn along taboo-sex and sex shaming lines, but the parallels fail on the one test that actually matters about those acts.

Rick Scarborough: “Calling Sodomites ‘gay’ is an abuse of the language”

Sodomy is a pejorative term for the act of putting your penis into someone’s anus. It was so named by religious Christians after the Bible story of the towns of Sodom and Gomorrah. You’ll remember this is the town where Lot protected some visiting (male) angels from a roaming (male) rape gang by offering them his daughters instead — an act that God deemed to be morally pure enough to spare Lot and his family from the coming destruction, back when God’s aim was better and he was actually capable of punishing gays directly instead of via natural disasters to unrelated areas of the world.

Sodomy was, until very recently, illegal throughout most of the United States — though, it was often defined very broadly, so as to also cover any other acts deemed “icky” by the people in power, which might include oral sex or sex with someone outside of marriage. The last laws were struck down by the Supreme Court in 2003. In a testament to how fundamentally backward religion forces humanity to act with regard to sexuality, regardless of whether the people in question acted with informed consent, the very act of putting dick in ass was illegal.

However, because the construct was almost entirely built as an assault on homosexuality, it was mostly only enforced when both practitioners were male.

Here in 2013, ten years after sodomy laws were struck down in toto, Pastor Rick Scarborough laments the “abuse of language” that is calling homosexuals anything other than People Who Put Dick In Ass.

Never mind that there are so many other sex acts that gay men could engage in, and that men aren’t the only ones capable of being gay. Never mind that use of the word “gay” is the end result of the retaking of a slur against homosexuals. Never mind that the word “sodomy” was either very tightly defined or so loosely defined as to be completely useless.

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Cyber-bullying kills again

Amanda Todd, a thirteen-year-old girl in Maple Ridge, BC, was flattered and cajoled and coerced into flashing someone while playing around with friends on webcam. Someone took a screenshot — apparently they didn’t vet who was on that webcam chat very well. But they were young, and stupid, and there’s a damn good reason the age of consent is as high as it is in most places — because children don’t always have the maturity or intellect to provide informed consent.

A year later, Amanda received a message from someone on Facebook that she didn’t know, who demanded a private show or they’d send the picture to everyone she knew. They knew a good deal about her life — her parents’ names, her friends, her school. She ignored or rebuffed the blackmail demand. That Christmas, police came to her house at 4am to inform them that the picture existed and was spread around to a large number of people — very likely everyone at her school. Someone among the recipients must have had a conscience and reported the incident to the police.

Amanda became depressed and developed anxiety problems. All her friends started treating her horribly; she was left with nobody to lean on. She started self-harming. She moved to another city to escape the embarassment, and dabbled in drugs and alcohol. She became involved with a boy; the boy turns out to have had a girlfriend, who threw her to the ground and punched her repeatedly while other kids filmed it. They posted the video on Facebook, and declared that nobody liked Amanda and they hoped she saw their taunting and committed suicide.
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Comparing movement atheism and Catholicism on matters of misogyny

Silentbob posted an excellent comment on one of the last threads that I think really cuts through a lot of the pushback with regard to cleaning up our own houses. It’s not about who’s “good enough” to be part of our “exclusive club”, it’s about acknowledging problems when there’s overwhelming evidence that those problems exist, and fixing them. Given that we’ve attacked the Catholic church so often for their issues with child molestation, even though MOST PRIESTS AREN’T CHILD MOLESTERS, one would think that we would recognize the need to acknowledge the problem of antifeminism and outright misogyny even though MOST ATHEISTS AREN’T MISOGYNISTS.

The comparison my be odious, but I suggest an analogy with the paedophilia problem in the catholic church.

Atheists, of course, strongly condemn this behaviour, but are we not almost as appalled by the church’s response, which is typically to trivialise, dismiss or conceal the problem? How do we react when the church says, “Oh, but this is just a few isolated incidents! You shouldn’t condemn the whole church. Most priests aren’t paedophiles. Why make such a fuss? Focus on the good, not on the bad!”. Aren’t we especially disgusted when they resort to blaming the victim? When someone within speaks out and acknowledges the problem, don’t we praise them?

There is a misogyny problem within the atheist movement. It is well documented. Let us not trivialise, or dismiss, or sweep the problem under the carpet. Nor complain that is it isn’t representative of the atheist movement as a whole. And most of all, let us not blame the victim. We must do just what we would expect of the church – focus on the problem, highlight the problem, condemn the problem in the strongest possible terms, and set about fixing it. The people who have been doing this should not be attacked for exaggerating the problem, or for calling the movement into disrepute. They should be thanked for the courage to take a stand.

We must hold ourselves to a higher standard than we would hold those we oppose.

I’ve also elsewhere likened it to people being told they have cancer, but instead of treating it, they demand that doctors stop talking about your body being “full of cancer” when it’s really just one tumor, and really the tumor is teeny-tiny, no bigger than 0.01% of your body mass!

Can we just deal with the tumor please? Is that so hard?

Fischer: Gay marriage will result in sex with animals

According to the perennially-wrong Bryan Fischer, if you allow gay marriage, you’re literally slippery-sloping right into sex with animals. Apparently, the only thing keeping Fischer from having sex with animals is the continued oppression of gays, so whatever you do, either keep the laws barring homosexuals from having equal rights, or keep Fischer away from your livestock.

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Bingo Cards for Evo Psych blog comments

Quick, print out a copy of this card, nicked from The JAYFK, and try it out with Bering in Mind‘s pedophile-enabling nonsense. Oh, sorry, hebephile. Which is like pedophile, only the middle-aged adults are kind enough to wait for these children to enter puberty, which limits the kids to 8 at the absolute youngest. How generous of them!

Evolutionary Psychology Bingo Card

If you haven’t gotten a Bingo hit by the end of the post, see Gross Anatomy’s comments over at Stephanie’s. I’m sure you’ll be a winner by the end of the thread! The loser: your sanity.

Latest Catholic sex scandal: priest under Pope’s adviser arrested

Feel the cops’ breath on your neck yet, Ratzinger?

Father Riccardo Seppia, a 51-year-old parish priest in the village of Sastri Ponente, near Genoa, was arrested last Friday, May 13, on pedophilia and drug charges. Investigators say that in tapped mobile-phone conversations, Seppia asked a Moroccan drug dealer to arrange sexual encounters with young and vulnerable boys. “I do not want 16-year-old boys but younger. Fourteen-year-olds are O.K. Look for needy boys who have family issues,” he allegedly said. Genoa Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco, who is the head of the Italian Bishops Conference, had been working with Benedict to establish a tough new worldwide policy, released this week, on how bishops should handle accusations of priestly sex abuse.

According to investigators, Seppia told a friend — a former seminarian and barman who is currently under investigation — that the town’s malls were the best places to entice minors. In tapped phone conversations the two cursed and swore against God. The priest is charged with having attempted to kiss and touch an underage altar boy and of having exchanged cocaine for sexual intercourse with boys over 18.

At what point do we get to claim there’s a correlation between being a member of the ecclesiasty of a sexually repressive religion, and having a set of sexual proclivities that might be best repressed? At what point do we get to claim that perhaps this correlation is causal? And at what point do we get to say, “look, being a member of a religion does not make you more moral or a better contributing member of society than those of us without religion?”

Update: my original title “Latest Catholic sex scandal: Pope’s adviser arrested” was wrong, it’s a priest under the Pope’s adviser, not the adviser himself. I actually understood this from the original article, but screwed up on the title in my linking post. Sorry if I gave anyone the wrong impression. Said adviser handled the situation thusly:

Genoa Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco, who is the head of the Italian Bishops Conference, had been working with Benedict to establish a tough new worldwide policy, released this week, on how bishops should handle accusations of priestly sex abuse.

Bagnasco said that when he met the Pope this weekend, he “asked for a particular blessing for my archdiocese” in light of the alleged crimes, adding that “like every father toward a son [feels] great pain in seeing a priest who is not faithful to his vocation.”

Oh yeah. REAL tough. Protect the diocese, not the children. And call the priest a bad apple in the meantime. No true Scotsman, you see.