Party Tonight

I cooked all day. Party Tonight. All kinds of friends came. Depressed, cheerful. Intellectuals, not-so-intellectuals. White, brown, black. Women, men, hermaphrodites.(Children were not invited). Atheists, Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Mormons. (Christians were invited but did not show up. Jains, Buddhists,Vegetarians, Vegans, People with heart diseases, high blood sugar and high cholesterol were not invited.)

It was a ‘Throw off silly restrictions’ party. Apéritif and Château Margaux red wine were served for everyone. But different foods were served for people of different beliefs.

For Muslims, Pork.


For Jews, Pork and Seafood

For Hindus, Beef.

For Mormons, Glenfiddich, Moose Steak, Hot Coffee, Hot Tea, Caffeinated Red Bull, and Cigarettes (Cigarettes only for tonight)

Atheists ate everything and drank everything. After the main course of meal, everybody had Chocolates, Ice creams and Eau de vie, after-dinner drinks.

We talked, we laughed, we danced, we sang. We all wanted to visit Mars. I can tell it was a great party.

Girls around the world. Warning: Violant Images

A Kurdish or Iranian girl was stoned to death for falling in love with someone who doesn’t belong to the same sect.

A girl was whipped in Sudan for wearing trousers.

A 17-year-old girl was flogged in Pakistan.

A 17-year-old girl was molested in India.

Girls around the world get molested, harassed, raped, gang-raped, trafficked, tortured, flogged, murdered everyday. Their only crime is they are girls. Shame on men!

‘Racism is a refuge for the ignorant’.

‘Racism is a refuge for the ignorant. It seeks to divide and to destroy. Its the enemy of freedom, and deserves to be met head-on and stamped out.’ – Pierre Berton

I feel bad whenever I think of the day I spent with people from the an extreme right wing political party. I marched alongside them all over Paris. It was 19 years ago. I was in Paris and I wanted to celebrate May Day, the 1st of May. In our country everybody celebrates May day. I had no idea May day was celebrated and Joan of Arc was honored by no other people but the extreme right wingers in France. Not only I marched with a bunch of neo-nazis, skinhead, racist white supremacists wearing heavy boots, I applauded like them when their leaders were giving racist speeches. I did not know French. I thought they were talking about the workers rights. I had no idea that their speeches were hate speeches against non-white immigrants. They laid down flowers in front of a statue of Joan of Arc, I did the same. I was the only non-white among tens of thousands of whites. I noticed they were staring at me with strange eyes. I thought French eyes were strange. Next day when I told my friends about my May Day celebrations, they were shocked, they told me that those people were France’s far-right Nationalists, there were many skinhead white supremacists among them. I was lucky that I was alive, that I did not get beaten up or killed.
But I am an invited guest in France! I said. My French friends said, ‘They didn’t know that you were a guest. They didn’t know that you would stay only for a few days! They definitely thought you were an immigrant! You should know that those people do not want to see any black or brown in this country.’ Since then, I stay at home during May day in Paris.

I lived in the West for more than a decade. I was treated as a V.I.P. or a distinguished resident. I was respected and honored by the governments and many reputed institutions and organizations. I had armed police protection round the clock. But still I experienced racism. If I had to experience racism, I can imagine how much racism ordinary people experience everyday!

Recent Sikh temple shooting in Wisconsin reminds me of racism I face and other non-whites face in the West. Mr Page, the white supremacist skinhead racist probably wanted to kill Muslims but killed Sikhs because he mistook turbaned Sikhs for Muslims, or he just wanted to kill a bunch of brown immigrants, no matter in which god they believe in.

Mr. Wade Michael Page served in the US military. I have been thinking whether American soldiers get specially trained to be angry at black and brown people in Asia, Africa and Latin America during their overseas operations. Some of them, I am sure, think, that, the little poor people in the little poor countries are not Americans, they must be terrorists or they must be enemies. We know what kind of brutality prisoners witnessed at Abu Gharib prison in Iraq.

Mr. Page was like one of the racist US soldiers in Abu-Gharib or the soldier who at 3 p.m. in Afghanistan woke the civilians up and killed them. That was an intentional killing of innocent men, women and children. The difference between those soldiers and Mr. Page was, Mr. Page didn’t have his Military job but they had while they were killing and torturing people.

Why I am a Feminist – Richard Carrier

I am a feminist because feminism is simply the belief that women should be treated as fairly as men, and there is no factual or rational reason to want the world to work any other way. I would be a feminist even if women all the world over were treated as fairly as men and there was nothing more to be done. Because feminism is the view that that is the way things should be, and thus the way we should endeavor to keep things going.

But in fact the world is not there yet. Certainly not in the so-called third world. But even here in the first world, we are still a long way from a just and reasonable society, not only in this issue but in many–from the way gays and lesbians and atheists and all other minorities must still fight bigotry at both the social and institutional level (yes, appallingly, even here in the U.S.), to the way we allow stupidity and dogma and emotion to block us from doing the right thing in every national domain, from prison reform to tax reform to the elimination of antiquated (and ultimately religious) “vice” crimes. If you see how wrong we as a society are in every other domain, you should not be surprised that we are still as wrong in the matter of embodying the ideals of feminism.

If you believe women deserve equal treatment under the law (as the 14th amendment requires) and if you believe women ought to be treated in business and culture and personal relations as individuals the same way men are, then you are a feminist. If you don’t believe those things, you are a sexist. That people must be treated equally under the law stems from the same fact that they must be treated as individuals in every other domain: each person has their own assets and liabilities that often defy gender averages–for example, women may on average have lower upper body strength than men, but many individual women will be stronger than the average man just as many individual men will be weaker than the average woman, so the right standard to judge a person is by the abilities of the individual and not the averages of their sex, perceived or real. Even when differences are pervasive (e.g. many women can get pregnant, most men cannot), these have no bearing on most matters of evaluating a person’s merit (such as strength, intelligence, emotional resilience) or legal status (in most cases whether a given tax or law applies to you should not be determined by whether you have a womb or a penis, or indeed even your intelligence or strength), and even when they do they are still reducible to matters of individual difference (many women cannot get pregnant, for a variety of different reasons, while many transsexual men can, thus no law can simply assume all women can get pregnant and no men can), or even individual differences don’t matter (e.g. women should simply have the same right to divorce, vote, or own property as men, regardless of any differences, individual or otherwise, provided they are all legally competent adults).

None of the above should even have to be explained. Yet routinely I find it does. That measures how far we are from being a fully humanist society.

Besides the reasons to want this fairness (of treating people as the individuals they are rather than irrationally mapping on to them the perceptions and averages assigned to their gender) there is the fact of the harm that is done by defying or denying any effort to realize this fairness–in society, in our communities, in ourselves. Denying that this defiance or denial happens is the first pillar that ensures it frequently does. Especially since cognitive biases can be pernicious in being undetected even in oneself, if you don’t even know to look for them and then compensate or correct for them; or worse, if you deny you even have to. It is easy to assimilate stereotypes and act and think in accordance with them without being aware that you are, or without being aware that it’s irrational (but instead trying to rationalize it, by finding clever ways to convince yourself those stereotypes are more pervasively true than they really are).

A rational person is someone who cares about living a self-examined life in which they look for these kinds of biases not only in their society and community but in themselves, and then doing something to fix it. And a feminist is someone who does this in regard to not just overt, but latent sexism. Thus, since a rational person is someone who does this generally, all rational people will be feminists. Conversely, if you aren’t a feminist, you aren’t a fully rational person. This does not mean all solutions to any discovered problem are the right solutions or even good ideas at all, but one cannot find the right solutions, the good ideas, if you aren’t even looking for them in the first place. And you won’t really be looking very hard if you aren’t passionate about the result. In other words, if you don’t deeply care that your society and community be as wise and as just as it can be. Which entails deeply caring about sexism and its purge and defeat.

Religious prejudice comes in many levels, from religious supremacism (e.g. Christians are the master race deserving of full support from the government and atheists are barely human scum who deserve to have their rights taken away or even kicked out of the country) to unconscious religious bias (e.g. treating Christians with more favoritism than atheists, as when deciding to listen to them or befriend them or employ them or how much to pay them or whether to promote them or when blaming anything they do wrong on their “being an atheist” rather than finding the same reasons as when a Christian does something wrong, all without even realizing you’re doing that). Prejudice against women comes in the same spectrum, and I have seen all points on that spectrum realized in the United States, the supposedly enlightened culture–and not just in the United States, but within the atheist movement as well. All the way from male supremacism (e.g. women are just inferior to men in nearly every way and government and business should simply recognize that and distribute rights, benefits, and privileges accordingly) to unconscious sexism (e.g. treating men with more favoritism than women, as when deciding to listen to them or befriend them or employ them or how much to pay them or whether to promote them or when blaming anything they do wrong on their “being a woman” rather than finding the same reasons as when a men does something wrong, all without even realizing you’re doing that). I have seen it all, the whole spectrum, in my country and in the atheist community.

We should be doing something about it. We should be debating what’s to be done. Not whether anything is to be done. Because rational and enlightened people identify problems in themselves and their communities and do what they can to fix them. Sexism is a problem. It would be a problem to prevent even if it didn’t exist. But it certainly does exist, even in our supposedly advanced culture, even in our supposedly rational community. And I care about that.

That is why I am a feminist.

Free Pussy Riot

What a shame! Prosecutors have called for Pussy Riot members to be jailed for 3 years! A verdict is expected in coming days.

Prosecutors have called for three members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot to be jailed for three years after arguing they had insulted all of Russian Orthodoxy and posed a danger to society.

“They must be isolated from society,” the federal prosecutor Alexei Nikiforov told the Moscow court on Tuesday. He and lawyers for the victims argued that if they were not jailed, they would strike again.

The three band members – Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich – have been charged with hooliganism motivated by religious hatred after performing a “punk prayer” against President Vladimir Putin in a Moscow cathedral.

In their closing arguments, prosecutors argued the women were not carrying out a political act, but acting on deep hatred for Russian Orthodoxy. “They violated the traditions of our country,” Nikiforov said.

He said the fact that “no politicians” were named in the punk band’s song proved it was not a political act. The name and chorus of the song Pussy Riot performed was called Virgin Mary, Chase Putin Out.

Prosecutors presented the women as dangerous feminists.

It is so urgently necessary for women to become dangerous feminists in dangerous patriarchal, misogynistic, religious society.

I hope brave women sing and sting like Pussy Riot in all the religious temples, churches, mosques, synagogues all over the world against religion and religious oppression of women. Please don’t say that the time hasn’t come yet.

We are on Mars!

Does God know anything about Mars? No, he does not. If he knew he would have told us everything about Mars to prove that ‘he knows everything’ and we did not have to spend more than 2 billion dollars to send rovers to Mars. The books God wrote or others wrote on behalf of God are full of lies and filth: who should fuck whom, who should be flogged or whipped, who should be stoned to death, whom he will throw into the eternal hell of fire, etc. When God in the Sky and his disciples on the Earth that was created by God 6000 years ago are busy cursing and killing humans for wrong gender or wrong fuck we crossed 567-million-kilometer to arrive on Mars.

Our Curiosity landed safely. Let’s enjoy our victory.

The little six-wheeled rover Curiosity starts its 98-week mission, now exploring a crater that billions of years ago may have been filled with water. We are curious to know everything about our 14 billion years old Universe. We do not say ‘we know’ before we really know. We are not like God’s fan club members who without knowing anything say that they know everything. The difference between them and us is they do not need any evidence to believe in something. It’s true that the members of God’s fan club and we share the same Earth, but there are two different worlds on the Earth, our world is a world of science and humanism, their world is a world of fairy tales and hatred.

Why I am a Feminist – Bina Shah

As a child in Pakistan, I grew up observing the lives of the women in my father’s family. Members of a type of religious nobility who claim lineage from the Prophet Muhammed, they followed the traditions of the Prophet’s wives and segregated themselves from all men outside their own blood relatives – a system known in Pakistan as pardah or “curtain”. They wore burqas or chadors when travelling outside their houses, in cars with curtained or tinted windows. On the rare occasions they walked in the streets of the village the men were expected to turn their faces to the walls as they passed. They did not go to school and many of them were functionally illiterate. There was no question of school or jobs for them. Their sole function was to marry and produce children for their husbands, chosen for them from the many cousins in the family.

My father, academically brilliant and ahead of his time, didn’t agree with these traditions and he didn’t expect his own family to live the same way as his aunts had; my mother, a college graduate with a degree in psychology and a love of all things fashionable and modern, detested the harsh customs and made sure they had no place in our lives. In Karachi, the cosmopolitan port city where we lived, I went to an American school where I excelled in every subject; I read hundreds of books and played sports with children of all nationalities and both genders. My mother instilled in me the idea that not only would I receive the best education possible, but that I would learn to be independent so that I could support myself if I had to. My father went along with this, proud of his intelligent daughter but always fearful that his more conservative family members would disapprove of my upbringing.

But no matter how visionary or open-minded my parents were, they still had to make compromises for the restrictive environment in which we lived, and I was the victim of those compromises. When I went to , the seat of my father’s family in a rural part of Sindh two and a half hours’ drive from Karachi, I played and romped like the other children, running freely back and forth between the two sections of our family house, but as I grew older, I was not allowed to leave the walls of the “family” compound for the men’s section. My father no longer took me to his farm with him, as the “ladies” of the family were not permitted to be seen by the ordinary labourers who tilled the fields and kept the livestock.

As I approached adolescence, my clothing was restricted: I couldn’t wear anything but baggy shalwar kameezes, as my skirts and shorts were forbidden from me. Back in Karachi, I continued to excel in school but my social life was curtailed: I was not allowed to go to mixed parties or sleepovers; beach trips with friends were a no-no, and permission to go on school trips to other cities in South Asia were a hard-fought battle that I didn’t always win. Whenever I asked why I wasn’t allowed to do the things that I wanted, I was told “Because you are a girl.” And no amount of crying, pleading or begging could change that.

Thanks to my mother’s support and my father’s courage to break with tradition, I went to the United States to attend Wellesley College, a private liberal arts college in Massachusetts for women. I was the first women in my father’s family to go to university, let alone leave the country for an education. Officially I earned a degree in psychology like my mother, but I received an education of a different kind: I learned about women’s rights, the fight for justice and equality, and male privilege. When I came back to Pakistan, I had words for what had happened to me and what was happening to millions of Pakistani women every day: patriarchy, chauvinism, and misogyny. My eyes were opened and what was seen could never be unseen: I was aware and vigilant about a society that thought of women as inferior in every way to men. More than that: I was angry about the injustice, and determined to raise my voice against it as loudly as possible.

So I began to speak out, by writing about women’s issues. I wrote about the need for laws against domestic violence, the need to strengthen girls’ education, the need for economic independence for women, the need to reject hijab, burqa, chador and niqab as religious requirements. I wrote about the particular horrors enacted against girls and women in Pakistan: forced marriages, dowry, bride-burning, acid attacks. Today I’m an avowed feminist, thanks to my childhood experiences, my mother’s encouragement, and my academic education in the United States and my real-world education in Pakistan, where I’ve observed how religion, culture and society oppresses Pakistan women and I witness every day how women are fighting back against their oppressors. Feminism in Pakistan is a dirty word, a sign that you’re an atheist, a Western agent, a threat to the system. I’m neither an atheist nor a Western agent, but I’m proud to be a threat to this unfair and intolerant system and I’ll keep raising my voice against this system until it changes or I die, whichever comes first.

A bizarre barbaric system mixed with religion, misogyny, patriarchy practiced by millions

Khap is a powerful social institution. It exists in Jat Hindu community in some states of Northern India. Some elderly men set rules for everyone. You do not follow the rules, you get severe punishment. Khap does not allow people to marry in the same gotra or clan. It is believed that millions of people living in several neighboring villages are from the same clan and they are all brothers and sisters. So the holy fatwa is, no one is allowed to marry in their own or neighboring villages. If they want to get married, they have to choose someone from some far away lands where there is no chance to have the same clan.

It’s an ancient tradition but it still continues for people in the 21st century. It is illegal in modern independent India but it is widely practiced across some regions. Another bizarre rule that Khap makes, is child marriage. Children are forced to get married. Khap believes child marriage is a wonderful protection for boys and girls from being interested in marrying anyone in the village. But when the married children grow up, they may not get interested in marrying someone in the villages but they sometimes refuse to accept their child marriages. Santara Meena refused to accept her child marriage, but Khap wanted her dead or alive. She needed police protection.

Men and women whoever marry same clan people get thrown out of the villages or get killed. Manoj and Babli  got murdered.

It is not so shocking anymore that newlywed couples get murdered for having same clan marriage. And just recently Khap issued a fatwa against women: women below 40 are not allowed to go outside after sunset, they are also not allowed to have mobile phones and not allowed to marry the one whom they love. Khap banned jeans for girls. . Khap or Khap panchayat is loudly advocating misogyny and hateful patriarchy.

Millions of people practice whatever Khap asks them to practice. There is no reason to think that only the poor and illiterate people in the villages practice the bizarre barbaric system, the rich and literate people practice it too. No matter how many academic qualifications you have received, the truth is you get easily attracted to irrationality, superstitions, inequalities and injustices if you do not educate yourself with rationalism, humanism, secularism and feminism.

A movie was made to create social awareness against Khap but who cares!

Why I am a Feminist – Aron Ra

Warning: I’m about to voice my opinion on feminism and misogyny in the freethought community. Get out while you can. I know I should keep my mouth shut like I have done for the whole last year, but I’ve I decided not to take my own advice anymore.

When I was a little boy, (we’re talking 1971 here) my deeply religious babysitters told me that women could never fly fighter jets because of alleged differences in their depth perception, or their physical center of gravity altering their sense of balance, or the ways in which female brains reportedly processed information differently than the brain of a male.

This is just one example of sexual inequality being alleged as a biological fact. While I concede there are a few things most women can’t do as well as some men -owing to a proportion of upper body strength, that just might be the limit of justifiable reasons for gender restrictions. That is as much credence as I can give to that. So women shouldn’t be expected have fair odds against men of equal weight in a boxing ring. What about beyond that?

I knew a woman who was six feet tall and could bench 270lbs. She could be an ambulance paramedic because she could meet the criteria -where a lot of men could not. That’s what matters. Maybe that’s how my metric differs from the norm of earlier generations. Now what if the job is not physically demanding in that specific area? How could there be any difference then? I don’t think there is.

I know of one case where a female pilot killed 20 people in a helicopter crash. I doubt her gender could have played any role in that at all. If it was her fault, I would sooner blame the fact that the military put a difficult and dangerous multi-million-dollar aircraft in the hands of a teenager. Perhaps any pilot who was old enough to qualify for commercial insurance should have done better?

My wife often laughs at me for being “roaringly heterosexual”, but I am also one of those atypical freaks who finds intelligence sexy. Cute cannot compensate for dumb, and one certainly is not the other. If a woman shows that she is actually smarter than I am, oh honey! I know; there are not many other men like that.

It’s not about sex either. There are many women in the secular movement with commercial-grade comeliness, and I am proud that they count me among their peers, but that’s not the criteria by which we are associated, obviously. Some of my favorite heroes are women; Boadicca, Hypatia, Ruslana. When I say that I respect a woman for her mind, I actually mean it, and not in the same tongue-in-cheek fashion as saying that I read Playboy for the articles.

At the same time, I can’t simply turn off hard-wired hormonal responses to sexual stimuli. For example, it has often happened that I may be amongst a number of sharp-witted women intellectually analyzing subjects of scientific substance with profound perspective, and there I am, suddenly –helplessly- focused on some elegant lass who casually passed with a fabulous ass, and befuddled my brilliance, rebooting my brain in mid-debate. I don’t always possess the necessary class to conceal such embarrassing distractions discretely.

Still I won’t support or defend a policy prohibiting or inhibiting women from wearing ‘sexualized’ clothing at skeptics conferences; vendors or not, doesn’t matter. I know it’s mostly nerds at these sorts of things, but it still doesn’t take that much research for anyone to figure out how to blend in or stand out appropriately. I wouldn’t dictate how someone else dresses. Speaking personally, even having such a rule seems unnecessarily prudish.

I have even heard a suggestion that speakers in skeptical events should be prohibited from engaging in carnal liaisons with any attendees who were not also on stage. This is just absurd. The excuse is that there is supposedly some unequal power issue which leaves those in the audience being treated like doe-eyed sycophants –not by the expectedly exploitive speakers, but by the policy itself. I know from experience that occurrences of adulation are relatively rare, and typically concern only legally responsible adults. So why should there even be a rule like that one?

Mind you, while I have been on stage a few times myself, I have no bias on this point to influence my objectivity. I am married, and my wife and I prefer not to ‘swing’. Another reason I might avoid such judgments is that I have the advantage of sufficient social skills that I know there are behavioral boundaries. Even if I’ve had a few drinks, I still know there’s a line there, and I don’t always need to venture toward it. A lot of other people aren’t aware there should even be a line, and that’s only part of the problem.

Even though I’m neither popular nor important enough to be invited to TAM or Skepticon, it sometimes happens that I am asked to participate at atheist events. Once I even shared the stage with Richard Dawkins and Rebecca Watson at the same time. That was a stunning revelation. Watson was supposed to talk about ‘communicating atheism’, but instead she used her time to explain how uncomfortable feminism is in the secular movement. What was shocking about that were the comments on the video once it was uploaded to my channel. Anyone who thinks she exaggerated, or who doesn’t believe there is a problem with sexism in secularism need only read a few of those posts, especially the early ones; they vindicated all the horrible things she listed about the vile sexist threats she spoke of.

Understand that I do not say any of this to fit in or be popular. I don’t think it is possible to comment on this topic at all and still be popular in this movement anymore. But I sincerely do not understand hate, nor why other people fixate on negativity. It’s just not the way I think. There is a positive aspect to nearly all our experiences. If you can’t find something good, at least allow yourself to be impressed, because sharing the things you love is what will endear you to others. Seriously, nobody cares about what you hate, and you shouldn’t either.

So I don’t get the sort of mindset which sets any demographic as being superior or inferior to another in vague general terms. Specific arguments of that sort are at least possible, though I can’t remember ever seeing one. Being a white male from a fairly insular upbringing, I may not be very observant of that sort of thing. There were a lot of bigots in my own family once upon a time, but now my more-ethnic friends have to tell me about the prejudice they’ve encountered, or else I wouldn’t know that still goes on.

I was equally unaware of misogyny, and by that I mean REAL misogyny, not just guys being heterosexual. There has to be socially acceptable means of having a healthy sex-life, of seeking and inviting partners to pursue such basic biological drives with mutual benefits. No, a misogynist is not simply responding to his hormones; he is making a hate claim, portraying women as subordinate, subservient, insufficient, and somehow deserving of disrespect or even abuse. I honestly do not understand how even the most hateful bigots can take that stance.

The shocking part of all these recent controversies to me is not that misogyny exists outside the world and works of Martin Luther, but that it somehow thrives today, and that it still exists in the freethought community of all places. How could it? Who else has a more progressive perspective, with the most tolerant attitudes, and the most advanced ideas? How could such a despicable disposition, so repugnant, so medieval, remain at all in any group that includes so many Star Trek fans? Have we learned nothing from the next gen?