The network grows! (Non-Fiction)

I’d like to join PZ in welcoming four new bloggers to Freethought Blogs:

  • Andreas Avester. You may have noticed them commenting around these parts, and now they’re doing an art & philosophy & politics & social justice blog.

  • Impossible Me. Another familiar face: Abbeycadabra, writing about social justice, mental health and trans issues, broadcasting from her lair in Canada.

  • From the Ashes of Faith. Megan is a long-time blogger who is new to us, writing about mental health & parenting & atheism, naturally.

  • Scalpen. Raniel Ponteras is coming to us from the Philippines, and will be writing about the history of science and medicine.

I enjoyed reading their applications and writing samples, and I encourage my readers to check out their new blogs here.

If you want to blog here, read the About FtB section for details.  If you do apply, I want to stress that it is important to provide samples of your writing.  In my case, I only wrote the minimal information on my application, but I had years of posts at the Babbler’s old site for FtB’s members to judge.

It is a privilege to be here, and I am enjoying my time here.  I hope our new bloggers will feel the same way as well.

Note: Feel free to leave a comment here or in the Bolingbrook Babbler Readers Group.

Tuning out YouTube? (Non-fiction)

There’s a YouTube Walkout going on from 12/10 to 12/13 to protest YouTube’s changing their terms of service.  Great American Satan explains:

They’ve dropped some fucking egregious new terms of service, promising to delete any channel they deem commercially unviable. Since the videos disproportionately affected by this are producers of LGBT and progressive content, you know what this is really about.

Marcus Ranum writes more YouTube’s problematic aspects:

The ad-stream feeds into the unpleasant reality that it sells time to be a political platform. I.e.: whoever has money for ads now has a platform. So much for the early internet idea of making data equal. Thank corporate capitalists for that. Meanwhile, they can figure out how to deliver the ads, bill them correctly to their originator, but can’t be arsed to ban the ones that are obvious bullshit. That gives politicians wiggle-room to wring their hands and whinge about how their important message needs to be protected but the other guy’s needs to be silenced.

New FtB blogger Abbey adds some good points too:

Businesses are generally conservative, big business more so, ergo “sensitive topics” is… queer rights, sex workers’ rights, BLM, climate change, etc. Anything challenging the patriarchal status quo. Meanwhile, stuff that doesn’t make them uncomfortable – which includes transphobic and homophobic “jokes”, “race realism”, anti-semitglobalism, and so on –falls obviously under “free speech”.

I’ve active on the Internet since the early 1990s.  (Anyone remember ISCABBS?)  I remember concerns about the threat of the then rising commercialization of the Internet to the free exchange of information.  What is going on at YouTube is an example of what many back then feared could happen.  For the most part, I don’t expect YouTube to ban videos that they feel don’t earn them enough money.  Instead, I expect that they’ll continue to remove videos and ban users that bring negative attention to YouTube.  Consider the size and reach of YouTube, and its parent company Alphabet, that can be a problem.  Especially for marginalized voices in our society. I wish I had the answer, but I do acknowledge the problem.

It’s settled! The Richard Carrier lawsuit is over (Non-fiction)

As PZ reported, Dr. Richard Carrier settled his remaining lawsuits against PZ Myers and Amy Frank.  Apparently, all it took was the threat of a countersuit to bring this to an end.  Carrier will not be paying the defendants’ legal bills, but you can still donate to their fundraising page. Stephanie Zvan’s post reporting the original allegations will remain online.  

The defendants were fortunate enough to have enough supporters to help with their legal bills.  Others aren’t so lucky when faced with a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation.  The legal costs alone are enough to force publications to settle or avoid covering a story.  As John Oliver explained:

For now, I’ll celebrate this victory, and I look forward to forgetting about Richard Carrier again.  I’ll also try not to get too upset thinking about how the money spent on this case could have been put to better use.

Note: Feel free to leave a comment here or in the Bolingbrook Babbler Readers Group. 

Another year older (Non-fiction)

Back in November of 1998, I posted the first Bolingbrook Babbler article on my home page.  I didn’t expect to still be writing it 21 years later, and I absolutely didn’t expect the tabloid mentality I was satirizing to become so widespread on the Internet and in the mainstream media.

To all the people who enjoy the Babbler, I say thank you for reading.  To everyone who has helped me along the way, thank you too.  Especially my wife, who became my copy editor and the person who says, “do you really want to say that?”

It has been quite a journey writing the Babbler, and I’m happy to say that it is far from over.


A fundraiser for the defense against Richard Carrier’s SLAPP suit (Non-fiction)

Gillell over at Affinity is running a fundraiser for the defense fund against Richard Carrier’s SLAPP suits against Amy Frank, Lauren Lane, Skepticon, and PZ Myers. Choose which one of Giliell’s pieces of Resin artwork you want, and Giliell will tell you how much it will cost, including shipping. Donate that amount to the defense fund, and Giliell will ship it after you send the receipt. 

While I feel the defendants have an excellent chance of winning, it is expensive to defend against these kinds of cases. I’m tired of the case too, but as long as Richard Carrier keeps pursuing it, I will keep mentioning the defense fund. 

Babbler Readers: We have a Facebook Group just for you! (Mixed)

We created a Facebook group for our readers! We invite all of our readers to join so they can see the latest updates, and, hopefully, have friendly discuessions about our unbelieveable topics.  You might rub virtual sholders with a Bolingbrook politician, or become Facebook friends with a wereskunk.  You won’t know unless you join us!

Note:  This is a work of fiction, but the Facebook grouip is real. 

Just when you thought it was safe…(Non-ficiton)

Just when I thought Richard Carrier had moved on with his life, he’s filed three three libel lawsuits.  Each one in a different state and he’s representing himself. Rebecca Watson has the details:

I’ve already made another donation to the legal defense fund and would encourage everyone who can to do the same.  The only bright side is that two of the three states have anti-SLAAP suits, but these new cases will still cost the defendants to defend themselves, and there’s no guarantee that a counter-suit would be successful.  So a donation, in any amount, will help the defendants get through this.

Carrier Lawsuit: The case was dismissed but the legal bills persist (Non-fiction)

As PZ Myers recently mentioned, Richard Carrier’s lawsuit against Freethought Blogs, The Orbit, and others was dismissed, but there are still legal bills to be paid.  The GoFundMe Page is still up, and we still need donations. There are two fundraising auctions on Strderr’s blog: Auction 1 and Auction 2.

This case, to me, was yet another example of a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP).  These weak cases aren’t meant to correct stories, but to intimidate and bankrupt anyone who dares to be critical of the plaintiff. In my writing experience, I’ve received legal threats.  One for an editorial I wrote that was critical of Iowa City Council candidate.  The other was in response to the first weredeer article I wrote.  Years after that article, I noticed a well-connected law firm checking out many of my posts.  I’ll admit it was intimidating, and I’ve been fortunate.  It also helps that Illinois has an anti-SLAPP law.  I can, however, understand people who could be pressured into silence by the mere threat of a SLAPP suit.

So I strongly encourage everyone who reads my blog to consider contributing to this legal defense fund.  Because while I am not a free speech absolutist, legal intimidation tactics, like this suit, have no place in any democracy.