I am briefly in Japan!

Soon to be on a plane to Seoul. So far, this has been the most painless long distance trip ever, mainly because we just sailed through TSA in Minneapolis, and because our flights were all on time.

Although…I didn’t sleep on the plane at all, and now I’m in Tokyo with the sun shining, and I’m probably going to just skip the whole sleep thing until late tonight, when we get to Daegu.

#HumanismPlus? How about just plain humanism

Suddenly, my Twitter mentions and email are full of the usual assholes who have found a new bone to chew on. It seems the gamergaters and anti-feminists and alt-right twits have discovered that Sincere Kirabo is the Social Justice Coordinator at the American Humanist Association, and they are freaking out about “Humanism+” and how it must be destroyed. In addition, they’re ranting at me because, in their little minds, I must be behind it all, or am about to step in and take over humanism.

I know this will not matter to people so out of touch with reality, but I’m going to explain it slowly and carefully.

This is nothing new. Humanism has always been concerned with morality and ethics. Social justice is something that has always been a major focus. The American Humanist Association has merely launched new initiatives to specifically pursue social justice for black, LGBTQ, and feminist humanists. If this is surprising to you, well, we already knew you were a bunch of ignorant, regressive loons. This is precisely within the purview of humanism, and always has been, and it would only be unusual if a humanist organization rejected the idea of social justice.

Also, thank you for thinking I must be the mastermind behind a social justice initiative — that’s the kind of reputation I would like to have. However, I have had absolutely nothing to do with this program at AHA, and have no expectation of ever being asked to contribute to it. As for all the kooks calling it Humanism+ pejoratively and comparing it to Atheism+, I had nothing to do with the establishment and support of Atheism+, either, although I do think it was a great idea and that it was unfortunate that it was harassed into hibernation by you jerks.

It was a great idea, and it’s still a great idea — to attempt to make it clear that not all atheists were horrible, awful, rotten people. What seems to be a bad idea is the ongoing effort to make it clear that atheism is the domain of horrible, awful, rotten people, and drive all those who despise reactionary bigotry into the arms of humanism.

At least I like humanism. If you think you can remake it in the nature of YouTube atheism, I don’t think you’re going to succeed.

Laird Scranton wants to have a conversation

He has made an appearance in my thread ridiculing his superficial approach to history, and has invited me to join in his facebook discussion of the same. Unfortunately, he’s picked the worst time — I’m in Minneapolis, and will be flying off to Korea in the morning.

So far, he hasn’t managed to justify building elaborate and bizarre histories based on the similar sounds of words in Egyptian, Dogon, and Faroese, so I don’t see much point anyway. But you might find the rationalizations of his friends entertaining.

“Do as I say, not as I do”

I hadn’t realized that that was a fundamental philosophical dictum, but it’s sure looking that way. Thomas Pogge, a very big name in philosophical ethics, has been accused of being a serial sexual harasser, all while running a high profile Global Justice program at Yale. I say “accused”, but this very well written, very thorough, well documented account from Buzzfeed doesn’t leave him much wiggle room. As often seems to be the case, we’re looking at decades of constant allegations. He’d been accused when he was at Columbia, but of course that was ignored when Yale hired him. And then the accusations kept coming, and they kept being handled by university administrators who had a vested interest in keeping their superstar happy.

“It breaks my heart to have to say it,” said Christia Mercer, a former colleague from the Columbia philosophy department, “but it’s clear that Thomas uses his reputation as a supporter of justice to prey unjustly on those who trust and admire him, who then — once victimized — are too intimidated by his reputation and power to tell their stories.”

It is dismaying that someone can cultivate a public reputation for morality while acting as such a creepy sleaze with students.

Where it counts, at Liberty University

Liberty had a star-studded commencement, featuring…

  • A guy who sells duck calls!

  • A football player!

  • A movie star who gets drunk and rants about Jews!

  • Another movie star who made some crude comedies that students are prohibited from watching!

Because, if you’re Liberty University, these are the kinds of people who represent academic excellence or significant cultural influence.

Sadly missing from the gala was any acknowledgment of the quality of LU’s education. Here, let me help you out: as far as the employment prospects of its law school graduates, Liberty University ranks among the worst ten in the nation, with a quarter of LU graduates currently unemployed.

Of course, a lot of lawyers from reputable schools are also unemployed, but it’s still worth noting the special effort it takes to be the fourth worst in the country.

The Scopes Monkey Trial

The cool things I find in my mailbox…I just got a copy of The Scopes Monkey Trial by Moore and McComas, and it’s a fun read. It’s a slim book, and it is almost entirely photographs from around 1925 in Dayton, Tennessee. It’s a visual record of a time and a place and an event, well worth reading.

Now I’m thinking that someday I have to make a trip to Dayton.

What does it take to get rid of delusional public servants?

Let me qualify that: what does it take to give far right lunatics the boot in Texas? That’s a different ball game, I know.

Currently running for the Texas Board of Education is the infamous Mary Lou Bruner, who is way out there.

On her Facebook page, Ms. Bruner called Mr. Obama “Ahab the Arab,” and wrote that he “hates all white people and all wealthy people because to him wealthy means white.” Although she condemned the Ku Klux Klan in one posting, she wrote positively of its roots, writing that it started “as citizens trying to fight back against a corrupt government when there were corrupt officials or no officials at all to keep law and order in the rural areas.” Of Mr. Obama’s youth, she wrote: “I heard from a reliable source that Obama was also a male prostitute for a while when he lived in New York with his male ‘partner.’ How do you think he paid for his drugs?”

She’s got all kinds of wacky ideas.

On climate change, she wrote last June: “Climate change has nothing to do with weather or climate; it is all about system change from capitalism (free enterprise) to Socialism-Communism. The Climate Change HOAX was Karl Marx’s idea.”

On the Civil War, she wrote in 2014: “Slavery is not the Reason for the Civil War. by [sic] Mary Lou Bruner…. Historians waited until all of the people who were alive during the Civil War and the Restoration were dead of old age. THEN HISTORIANS WROTE THE HISTORY BOOKS TO TELL THE STORY THE WAY THEY WANTED IT TOLD.”

On the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, she wrote last November: “Many people believe the Democrat Party had JFK killed because the socialists and Communists in the party did not want a conservative president.”

Of course she’s a creationist.

When the flood waters subsided and rushed to the oceans there was no vegetation on the earth because the earth had been covered with water. It took a while for grass and trees to grow back and the big plant-eating dinosaurs needed lots of vegetation to live. The dinosaurs on the ark may have been babies and not able to reproduce. It might make sense to take the small dinosaurs onto the ark instead of the ones bigger than a bus. After the flood, the few remaining Behemoths and Leviathans may have become extinct because there was not enough vegetation on earth for them to survive to reproductive age. Most of the dinosaur fossils which scientists have found are permanently preserved in positions of great distress as if they were trying to keep their heads above water or above the mud.

She won 48% of the vote in her district in the Republican primary.

Any of those bizarre claims ought to have been sufficient to get her rejected by sensible voters; the long history and vast collection of infuriating stupidity ought to have been more than adequate to disqualify her.

But now, finally, a Texas Tea Party group has reconsidered their endorsement of Bruner. Was it the dinosaur story? Accusing Obama of being a drug addicted gay prostitute? The open hatred of “Middle Easterners”? No. It was this video of a speech she gave before a group of teachers, in which she misrepresented the number of teachers employed in a school district.

I guess I’ll take it, whatever it takes to discredit her in the eyes of Texas voters. But it’s just odd that it was this bit of casual ignorance, instead of her record of idiocy, that finally broke some of her support.