Mothers and daughters

Via a tweet by the great Deeyah – a woman in India is murdered for refusing to “compromise” in her daughter’s rape case.

I suppose I should warn you: it makes very ugly upsetting reading. That’s so often the case, but maybe I should give warnings more often.

A month-and-a-half after a schoolgirl was reportedly raped in Betul, her mother was allegedly shot dead by the accused and his friends on Friday night. No arrests have been made so far.

Imarti Uike, a 45-year-old tribal woman, had refused to withdraw the case related to the alleged rape of her 16-year-old daughter and had filed a written complaint about the repeated threats being faced by her family. [Read more…]

Vocational hazards

Barbara J King at NPR is repeating her mantra that it’s wrongwrongwrong bad awful reprehensible to say that absurd beliefs are absurd.

Last Thursday, I spoke with evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in a recorded interview at the NPR studios in Washington, D.C. That meeting was suggested by the American arm of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, in the wake of a post I wrote here at 13.7 last month.

In my original post, I questioned whether Dawkins was the best choice to be headline speaker at the March 24 Reason Rally in Washington, given that one of its goals was to change negative stereotypes about atheists. [Read more…]


There’s a new course at UBC this spring: ‘Ecology, Technology, Indigeneity and Learning: Contexts, Complexities, and Cross-cultural Conversations’ May 7 – June 15, 2012. Tuesdays & Thursdays, 1:00 – 4:00pm
Here’s the skinny:

Ecological and technological educational discourses are often taught as separate discourses downplaying, or ignoring altogether, their interconnectedness, complexities, and complicities, as well as their diverse cultural contexts. This course offers students an opportunity to critically explore how to reconnect and reshape these storylines into enactments of equity, social justice, cultural inclusivity, environmental sustainability and environmental justice.

Students will be introduced to the voices of Indigenous Peoples and other marginalized peoples impacted by neoliberalism and global economics who share their struggles for survival, cultural regeneration and protection/reclamation of their lands, as well as their vibrant and rich technological ecoliteracies. These ecoliteracies speak to the complex social and ecological crises worldwide. Students will reflect on how they learn, think, feel, act, and write as they work toward the creation of sustainable learning communities — Indigenous, non-Indigenous, urban, rural, on-line, on-the-ground, classroom, or otherwise delineated — based on principles of respect, reciprocity, equivalency of epistemologies/methodologies/protocols, and shared dialogue.

This course will be of interest to education students seeking ways to introduce cross-cultural eco-sensibilities into their classroom teaching, as well as to students outside of education who are seeking a graduate course that addresses the multiple contexts, complexities, and complicities of the ecology—technology—Indigeneity/social justice interfaces.

I’m particularly interested in the “principle” of equivalency of epistemologies.

A tribe of one

There was an earlier Heathen’s Progress a few days ago, which did hint that the series isn’t in fact intended to go on forever. That’s good to know. (One needs to know what to pack.) On the other hand, Julian used it to treat all disagreement as “tribalism,” which looks to a naive observer like an unfair move.

First of all, it is dispiriting to see how tribal so many people seem to be. For all the interesting, thoughtful comments that have been posted on the pieces I’ve written, and supportive emails I’ve been sent, there have been many more that have used whatever the subject of the week is as a simple pretext to get in the familiar old digs against whoever the other tribe happens to be. There’s also been a tendency to take any critical comments I make as indications that I’m on a certain “side”, as though it is not possible to criticise your fellow travellers, or that we only agree with friends and those we disagree with are enemies. [Read more…]

A spectre is haunting the Guardian Open Weekend

Oh no not that – not another installment of Heathen’s (ant-like) Progress. But yes, it is so.

This time it’s a manifesto. Oh good, more management of atheism by a self-nominated boss of atheism. More telling us all how to do it more korrektly by some random guy. More “we have to do it this way” from one person who keeps forgetting to show us his Certificate of Rulership Over All Atheists.

In recent years, we atheists have become more confident and outspoken in articulating and defending our godlessness in the public square. Much has been gained by this. There is now wider awareness of the reasonableness of a naturalist world view, and some of the unjustified deference to religion has been removed, exposing them to much needed critical scrutiny.

Unfortunately, however, in a culture that tends to focus on the widest distinctions, the most extreme positions and the most strident advocates, the “moderate middle” has been sidelined by this debate. There is a perception of unbridgeable polarisation, and a sense that the debates have sunk into a stale impasse, with the same tired old arguments being rehearsed time and again by protagonists who are getting more and more entrenched. [Read more…]

Bifurcated epistemology is doing it wrong

PZ is doing another talk tomorrow, at the American Atheists National Convention. Subject: “Scientists! If you aren’t an atheist, you’re doing it wrong!” Regular commenter (here as well as there) julian disagreed.


I’d say if a philosopher’s not an atheist they’re doing it wrong but a scientist can be whatevs so long as they’re sufficiently ignorant of things outside their area of expertise.

I disagreed with that. [Read more…]

It’s not a priority

I saw a powerful BBC report on FGM in Egypt the other day.

The most chilling part is at the very end (11:00) when Sue Lloyd Roberts asks a Salafist honcho if he’s on board with the campaign to end FGM and he said it’s not a priority. She pressed him by saying, “So you wouldn’t deter a mother who wants to get her underage daughter mutilated.”

He stared for a second and then said, with a tiny smirk, “I have nothing further to say on this matter.”

Sue Lloyd Roberts in voiceover: “The will of mothers like Olla will therefore be respected, and 11-year-old Raja will be mutilated.” Freeze-frame on young Raja.

Sometimes the ploy is really too obvious

One such time is when a clerical type (or “expert” or “scholar” or other male boffin who dispenses religious rules) tells a woman she has to open her legs whenever her husband tells her to and that if she doesn’t she’s a sinner and that godknowsbest.

It’s Sheikh Assim Al-Hakeem I’m talking about this time. A woman said her husband was issuing the open legs command three times a day and it was too much, what should she do.

It is not permissible for a wife to refuse fulfiling her husband’s desire. You should answer his calls as this is not phisically hurting you. [Read more…]

Marriage is defined as

The Muslim Council of Britain says no thanks to marriage equality for gays.

Farooq Murad, Secretary General of the MCB, said: “Whilst we remain opposed to all forms of discrimination – including homophobia – redefining the meaning of marriage is in our opinion unnecessary and unhelpful.

“With the advent of civil partnerships, both homosexual and heterosexual couples now have equal rights in the eyes of the law. Therefore, in our view the case to change the definition of marriage, as accepted throughout time and across cultures, is strikingly weak.”

He added: “Like other Abrahamic faiths, marriage in Islam is defined as a union between a man and a woman. So while, the state has accommodated for gay couples, such unions will not be blessed as marriage by the Islamic institutions.”

Wut? Marriage in Islam is defined as a union between a man and a woman? Orilly? What happened to sura 4:3? What happened to “or two, or three, or four”?

It’s sweet that they remain opposed to all forms of discrimination though. Really adorable.