Like so much garbage

The National Post has a collection of pictures of the Safias – of Rona and Mohammed on their wedding day 30 years ago, of Rona and Mohammed and Yahya on the wedding day of the latter two in 1988, of Sahar, Geeti, Zainab, Rona in 2009. Especially wrenching, there are pictures of all four taken days before they were murdered, retrieved from cell phones that were in the car at the bottom of Kingston Lock.

It’s interesting that there aren’t any Rage Boys shouting about this. It’s interesting that Rage Boys get contorted in the face because Salman Rushdie is scheduled to appear at a literary festival, yet they remain entirely calm when members of their “community” murder their daughters and discarded wives. It’s interesting that a novelist writing a book is a horror and an outrage, but a murder of four women is not on the register. It’s interesting what people choose to get outraged about.

Shafia family guilty in ‘honourless’ murders

Mohammad Shafia, Tooba Mohammad Yahya, and their son Hamed were each found guilty of four counts of first-degree murder in the drowning deaths of Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, Geeti, 13, and Mohammad Shafia’s first wife, Rona Amir Mohammad, 52.

“It’s difficult to conceive of a more heinous, more despicable, more honourless crime,” said the judge.

“The apparent reason behind these cold-blooded, shameful murders was that the four completely innocent victims offended your twisted notion of honour, a notion of honour founded upon the domination and control of women. A sick notion of honour that has no place in any civilized society.”

Second-guessing subjective experiences

Mark Vernon wrote a response to Julian’s Heathen’s Progress series. It’s got to do with the fact that cognition is embodied, which Vernon somehow takes to mean that subjective convictions are trustworthy, or something along those lines.

…the modern sceptic is suspicious of subjective convictions. They fixate on the many ways in which individuals can be self-deluded, and forget that they can also be wonderfully discerning. They miss truths that can only be known by acquaintance, which is to say, by letting them in. [Read more…]

Pour rire

Every now and then people spot a search term in their stats that is too funny (and puzzling) not to share.

At last I have one.

soxs with sandles over them for dogs

All the odder because I don’t know any dogs who wear soxs, or sandles either…let alone both at once.

Play up and play the game

It’s always nice to see friendly rivalry among people of similar interests. It keeps their skills honed and their energy high. The right-wing Hindutva student group in India, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, is competing with the “activists” who shut down Salman Rushdie at Jaipur. The ABVP objected to the screening of a documentary on Kashmir, and behold, the objection achieved its aim: the showing was cancelled. “Activists” 1, ABVP 1. Next round!

Symbiosis University has cancelled the screening of documentary filmmaker Sanjay Kak’s Jashn-e-Azadion Kashmir, after the right-wing student organisation, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), raised objections to its ‘separatist’ nature. The film was supposed to be screened at a three-day national seminar called ‘Voices of Kashmir’ at the Symbiosis College of Arts and Commerce, organised in association with the University Grants Commission (UGC) on February 3, 4 and 5. [Read more…]

In an elevator

A week ago a Canadian woman, Sheila Nabb, was found beaten and unconscious in a pool of blood in an elevator at a resort hotel in Mazatlan. Every bone in her face was broken.

According to Mexican police, the suspect has confessed. Making him repeat the confession at a press conference is horrendous legal procedure, but his account of what happened is…interesting.

Prior to the assault, Quintero said he had been drinking with a Canadian friend and “doing a line of cocaine.” He told reporters that he got into the elevator with the intention of riding to the top floor and gazing down at the lights of the resort city.

He says he encountered Nabb, who he said wasn’t wearing any clothes, at the sixth floor. When Quintero tried to prevent her from leaving he said she screamed, and he panicked.

“I didn’t try to abuse her, or I didn’t … I didn’t try to kill her or anything like … or rob her or anything. I was just afraid and I wanted to leave.”

Quintero said he covered Nabb’s mouth and asked her not to yell.

“But she continued yelling,” he said. “She got more afraid when I covered her mouth. And then I hit her … four or five times in the face with my fist. And then I left.”

The sequence of events reported is: Nabb tried to get off the elevator. He stopped her. She screamed. He covered her mouth. She got more afraid. He broke every bone in her face.

Every bone in her face.

She’s now in a medically induced coma.


Welcome to Atheist Towers

Hmm, I don’t know. It’s very sweet of Alain de Botton, but I don’t know. A temple to atheism…

The philosopher and writer Alain de Botton is proposing to build a 46-metre (151ft) tower to celebrate a “new atheism” as an antidote to what he describes as Professor Richard Dawkins’s “aggressive” and “destructive” approach to non-belief.

One, De Botton is not a philosopher. (He writes poppy books that mention philosophers here and there. That doesn’t make him a philosopher.) Two, as we all know to the point of mind-numbing tedium, Dawkins’s approach is not destructive (destructive of what? what’s he destroyed?) and it’s usually not all that aggressive. Forthright, yes; sometimes acerbic, yes; but aggressive, no, not really. [Read more…]

One question too many

The New York Times reports on the bullying of Jessica Ahlquist…sort of.

A federal judge ruled this month that the prayer’s presence at Cranston High School West was unconstitutional, concluding that it violated the principle of government neutrality in religion. In the weeks since, residents have crowded school board meetings to demand an appeal, Jessica has received online threats and the police have escorted her at school, and Cranston, a dense city of 80,000 just south of Providence, has throbbed with raw emotion. [Read more…]

The last afternoon at Jaipur

William Dalrymple tells us what last Tuesday afternoon in Jaipur was like.

It was the last afternoon of the Jaipur Literature Festival, of which I am co-director, and more than 10,000 people were milling around the grounds of Diggi Palace, the festival venue, eagerly waiting to hear Salman Rushdie speak by video link from London. For three weeks we had waited anxiously for this moment, ever since Maulana Abdul Qasim Nomani of the Deoband madrasa had called for the Indian Muslim community to oppose Rushdie’s visit to our festival…

Then at about one o’clock a large number of Muslim activists appeared in the property and gravitated to the back of the lawns where a huge crowd had gathered to hear the videolink. Some of them went into the central courtyard of the palace to make their namaz (pray), and according to some reports, the maulana in charge told his followers that if anyone was killed that day they would die a martyr. Then they sought out our producer, Sanjoy Roy, and told him that they were prepared to use any amount of violence in order to stop Rushdie’s voice being heard. Others talked to the press: one told a reporter from the Times of India that “rivers of blood will flow here if they show Rushdie”, while the Muslim Manch representative Abdul Salim Sankhla was quoted as saying: “We will not allow Rushdie to speak here in any form. There will be violent protests if he speaks.” While all this was happening, some of the other activists were turfing school children out of their seats and intimidating festival guests. [Read more…]

The real privilege

Someone commenting on Scofield’s Tikkun post endorses the claim that “new atheists” are totes privileged.

The literature, social spaces, and most widely recognized voices of atheism are predominantly populated by Western, white, male, heterosexual, cis, middle class (and above) people…[T]he lopsided demography of our communities tends to draw upon otherwise privileged life experiences, and as you have illustrated, this privilege inadvertently shines through in our literature and our actions.

True up to a point, but there’s another way to view that, which Scofield seems to be not just overlooking, but perhaps self-disabled from even recognizing. [Read more…]