The Biskeptical Podcast #16: Resisting Trump

Today Dan Arel joins Morgan and me to discuss how to resist the upcoming Trump regime. Is fact-checking enough? What about reaching across the proverbial aisle? Listen to find out!

Listen to “The Biskeptical Podcast #16: Resisting Trump” on Spreaker.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #81: Atheism and Music with Shelley Segal

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I’m kicking off 2017 with an interview with singer/songwriter Shelley Segal. She has five EPs under her belt, but is best known for the 2011 release “An Atheist Album,” which includes fan favorites “Saved,” “Gratitude,” and “I Don’t Believe in Fairies” (all of which I’ll play in this episode). Today we’re going to talk about her background, her music, and what to expect from her in the new year.

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast #81: Atheism and Music with Shelley Segal” on Spreaker.

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The Pros and Cons of Antitheism

Well, since every other atheist blogger is debating whether or not antitheism has merit, I guess I better throw in my two cents.

When I first became an atheist, I was in the Chris Stedman faitheist camp. After seeing so many angry atheist trolls online, I didn’t want to join their camp. Plus, shortly before deconverting, I was (loosely) involved with the liberal Christian scene, so I knew not all Christians were fundamentalists. In fact, I still have progressive Christian friends who are just as passionate about social justice as I am, like AnaYelsi Sanchez (for whose blog I wrote a guest post). So while, like Tony Thompson, I will never break bread with people who think I shouldn’t have basic human rights, I have no problem partnering with progressive believers for secular social justice work.

And yet when it comes to religion as a system and an institution, I don’t see any reason why we still need it.

Christopher Hitchens once said, “I challenge you to find one good or noble thing which cannot be accomplished without religion.” I tried, but couldn’t. Community? You can find that at a bowling league. Music? Go to a local Open Mic Night. Wisdom? Try the library. Wonder and awe? Look at the stars at night. Morality? Try either John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism or Virginia Held’s The Ethics of CareThere is literally no need for religion in the 21st century. That doesn’t mean religious people are fools; most of them just don’t know you can have a fulfilling life without a god.

Plus, even though I’m happy to work with progressive believers for secular social justice work, progressive religion still has a lot of fucked up theology. For example, a lot of my progressive Christian friends love to quote the parable of the sheep and goats, and while it’s a nice story on the surface, I’ve seen way too many progressive Christians turn it into another form of shame. I can’t tell you how many blogs posts I’ve read from Christians flogging themselves because they deliberately walked away from a homeless guy on the street. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve lied to homeless people and said I didn’t have any spare change, and then felt guilty about it. However, Christians don’t see it as failing to help a fellow human being; they believe they actually failed the Creator of Heaven and Earth. Talk about extra pressure!

So does that make me an antitheist? I don’t know, and I really don’t care. I find labels like “antitheist, “faitheist,” “firebrand,” and “diplomat” to be superficial. I just do whatever I can to make the world a less shitty place. Sometimes it includes calling out religion’s bullshit, and sometimes it’s working with a religious person for a common goal. Sometimes it’s having conversations with people who disagree with me, and sometimes it’s telling them they’re full of shit. Make of it what you will.

Go High or Go Low: What’s the Best Way to Resist in 2017?

CN: Ableist language and transphobic comments

We all remember Michelle Obama’s famous “When they go low, we go high” quote from earlier this year. It was a rallying cry to all of us disgusted by the Right’s racist, sexist, and queerphobic rhetoric. However, I can’t help but wonder: what does going high instead of low look like?

A few days ago, I think I went low.

On Wednesday I tweeted “.@MsBlaireWhite is the Ben Carson of trans people.” Blaire White then retweeted it, called me a moron, and . . . well you can look at all the responses yourself. (READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!) At first I was thrilled to piss off so many Twitter assholes, but then I talked to some Facebook friends and I realized I kinda went low. Don’t get me wrong; I still think Blaire White is fifty shades of wrong about . . . everything! Yet, as Michelle pointed out in the video, technically I used the same trolling technique the Twitter trolls use. I issued an apology on Twitter, but as a friend pointed out, we keep losing whenever we try to go high, so what can we do?

At first I thought, “Well, since I’m a skeptic, I’ll just continue to debunk bad ideas.” But then I came across this article from The Christian Century called “Fascism Can’t Be Stopped By Fact-Checking.” In it, Daniel Jose Camacho says debunking propaganda with facts and data sounds like a good idea, but . . .

The problem is a particular vision of the world supported by people with power to carry it out. This kind of political project can’t be fact-checked away. As the profoundly undemocratic conditions in the state politics of North Carolina have recently proven, conciliatory attempts to compromise with this project are absorbed and outmatched by those wielding power. In such cases, our American fallacy of bi-partisanship is exposed because there are certain things that cannot be met halfway and there are times when both parties fail us.

In other words, the Alt-Right doesn’t care what a nobody on the Internet like me thinks.

Camacho’s suggestion instead is:

The important thing to keep our eye on is the power we do possess and the various avenues by which we can resist. What can resistance look like? I think we will have to utilize all of the legal, political, economic, activist/organizing, artistic, and religious means available to us.

Naturally, being an atheist I don’t use religious means, especially since theology plays a huge role in oppression. However, I think what he’s trying to get at is it’s not enough to simply write blogs and do podcasts debunking Alt-Right propaganda. Don’t get me wrong; I think those are great forms of activism, which is why I do what I do. Also, as Cody Charles of Everyday Feminism recently pointed out, some people literally do not have the means to march in the streets. So I interpret Camacho’s suggestion as this: whatever means you have to resist the Trump regime, use them!

And maybe that’s what Michelle meant by going high.

What do you think?

Bi Any Means Podcast #80: Top 10 Bi Any Means Episodes of 2016

Today I’ll be counting down the top 10 Bi Any Means episodes of 2016. These are the most played and downloaded episodes from the past year. I’ll play clips from each episode, and give my thoughts about that particular interview.

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast #80: Top 10 Bi Any Means Episodes of 2016” on Spreaker.

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The Biskeptical Podcast #15: Festivus Airing of Grievances

Today’s episode is our first annual Festivus Airing of Grievances. In the tradition of Seinfeld, we’re gonna tell the world all the ways it has disappointed us throughout the year. We’ll also hear some grievances from our audience, so stay tuned because we got a lot of problems with you people, and now you’re gonna hear about it!

Listen to “The Biskeptical Podcast #15: Festivus Airing of Grievances” on Spreaker.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #79: A Very Bi Any Means Christmas

For today’s episode, I’m spending Christmas with some of my friends and fellow podcasters. I’ve got Jeremiah from The SJW Circle Jerk, Ris McCool from the Inciting Incident, Chris from The Podunk Polymath, and Uber4ortyse7en from The Secular Barbershop. We’re going to talking about celebrating the holidays as atheists, and I’ll cap off the discussion with Shelley Segal’s cover of Tim Minchin’s “White Wine in the Sun.”

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast #79: A Very Bi Any Means Christmas” on Spreaker.

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My Top Ten Unpopular Christmas Opinions

It’s almost Christmas again, and with all the ways 2016 fucked us over, I figured it’s time for something lighthearted. So to celebrate the holiday, here are my top ten unpopular opinions about Christmas.

10). “Love Actually” is one of the worst movies ever. Okay, forget all the hot British men for a second and actually look at the movie. We’ve got Andrew Lincoln being a creep around Keira Knightley, Colin Firth trying to sleep with a woman who doesn’t speak English, an outlandish wedding scene, Liam Neeson cracking bad jokes about his wife at her funeral (not to mention playing Bay City Rollers after his shitty eulogy), and countless fat jokes. Plus, this is the movie that launched a million bad “Let’s get a bunch of celebrities together to make a cheesy holiday-related movie” movies. No thank you!

On the opposite end . . .

9). “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” should be a Christmas movie classic. If you love bad campy movies as much as I do, you will love this movie! The plot is ridiculous (Martians kidnap Santa Claus so Martian children can learn how to have fun), the acting is bad, and they remind the audience over and over again who the bad guy is (“That’s Voldar. He’s the one who doesn’t like us.”). Plus, the theme song is catchy as hell.

While we’re on the subject of movies . . .

8). “Die Hard” is a Christmas movie. It takes place during Christmas, it refers to Christmas over and over again, and it has Christmas music on the soundtrack. It’s a fucking Christmas movie! Deal with it!

Moving on now . . .

7). I honestly don’t give a shit if you say either “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays.” Seriously, you can wish me a Happy Kwanzaa and I’ll just say, “Thank you! You, too!”

6). I think the Festivus Airing of Grievances should be a Christmas tradition. Hate passive aggressive Christmas dinners with your right-winged Trump-voting relatives? The Festivus Airing of Grievances is a great way for you to finally get it all off your chest! You probably won’t be invited to next year’s Christmas dinner, but at least you were honest for once in your life.

5). I hate Christmas shopping. I love giving presents to my loved ones, but I hate the shopping part. I hate the decoration overload, I hate hearing the same Christmas songs over and over again on the PA system, and I hate the whole idea that capitalism is a Christmas virtue. This is why I either buy gifts from Amazon, buy them from local artisans, or just make mixed CDs. The less time I spend surrounded by Christmas capitalism, the better!

And while we’re on the subject of music . . .

4). “Hallelujah” is not a Christmas song. Apparently it wasn’t bad enough that Pentatonix completely ruined the song; now, thanks to these losers, it’s a Christmas song. Even though I still love Leonard Cohen, I can’t stand this song now.

While we’re at it . . .

3). I fucking hate “The Little Drummer Boy!” From the repetitive “barumpa-bum-bum” to the ridiculous line about farm animals keeping time, this song is a stinker, let’s admit it. It’s no wonder David Bowie asked the TV show producers to write him some new lyrics when he sang it with Bing Crosby.

In fact . . .

2). I hate 90% of Christmas music out there. Sure, I have my favorites, like “Christmas in Hollis,” “Happy Xmas (War is Over),” and “I Believe in Father Christmas,” but in general most of it sucks. I mean, how many fucking versions of “Joy to the World” do we really need?

And now, probably the most unpopular Christmas opinion of all . . .

1). I fucking love Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime!” Yes, it’s cheesy. Yes, it’s repetitive. Yes, Paul and rest of Wings do a weird thing in the video which I can only describe as the English version of a conga line, but it still makes me happy, goddammit!

. . .

Now that all that’s out of the way, Happy Holidays!

Check Out My Speaking Debut At The 2017 AHA Conference!

Need something to look forward to in 2017? Well today I’m pleased to announce I’ll be making my conference speaking debut at the 2017 American Humanist Association conference!

My talk will be called WTF is GenderQueer? Here’s the elevator pitch:

Genderqueer is a relatively new term that everyone’s talking about, but very few people know about. Despite celebrities such as Ruby Rose and Miley Cyrus openly talking about being non-binary, several people believe it’s just something Tumblr invented to be hip and cool. This presentation will go over the basics of what it means to be genderqueer/nonbinary, all the terminology used, what gender therapists have to say, and how to be better allies for genderqueer people.

I don’t known it will be, but the conference will be held from June 8th to the 11th in Charleston, SC. You can book your ticket now.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna freak out from excitement and start busting my ass off putting the talk together.