Couldn’t the UN just put a stop to it?

Katha Pollitt on blasphemy. She starts with a public radio chat in which John Hockenberry said to BBC chief Jeremy Bowen:

Hockenberry: I’m wondering if it’s possible for the United Nations to create an initiative that would talk about some sort of global convention on blasphemy, that would create a cooperative enterprise to control these kinds of incidents, not to interfere into anybody’s free speech rights but to basically recognize that there is a global interest in keeping people from going off the rails over a perceived sense of slight by enforcing a convention of human rights, only in this particular case it would be anti-blasphemy? [Read more…]

A less cheerful observation of Blasphemy Day

In which protesters in Bangladesh torch at least four Buddhist temples and fifteen Buddhist dwellings, “after complaining that a Buddhist man had insulted Islam, police and residents said.”

What did he say? Islam wears army boots? Islam has bad breath? Islam repeated the second grade four times?

Muslims took to the streets in the area late on Saturday to protest against what they said was a photograph posted on Facebook that insulted Islam. [Read more…]

More blasphemy

From The Rational Fool, reposted with permission.

Reasoning with Ramayana – Canto I

Ever since my granddaughter was born, I have been dreading the day when I will have to start fulfilling my paramount duty as a grandfather. Yes, I am talking about bedtime stories. Right now, she’ll go to sleep on my shoulder happily, when I sing to her something like “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star” in my preferred singing style — out of tune. I know that the day is not too far, though, when she’ll pop the question, “Grandpa, will you tell me a story, please?”. It’s not that I don’t have too many stories to tell, but like grandpa, like granddaughter, you know. What if she asked troubling questions? Here’s how I think it will go with the first part of Ramayana, a story from the subcontinent.


Putrakameshti Yajna by King Dashratha

Once upon a time, long, long, ago, there was a king called Dasaratha, who ruled the kingdom of Ayodhya. He had three wives, Kausalya, Sumitra …

But, grandpa, daddy has only one. Why? [Read more…]


EllenBeth Wachs and Rebecca Watson were at the Humanists of Florida Association conference this weekend, and so was Kelly Damerow of the Secular Coalition for America. They both separately chatted with her face to face about the appointment of Justin Vacula as co-director of the Pennsylvania chapter of the SCA. They also asked questions during the q&a after her talk.

Rebecca told Damerow that Vacula had written for the site that called Rebecca a stupid whore and that he had harassed Amy Davis Roth. Damerow was obviously upset by this, but she gave no ground.

During the q&a Rebecca described Vacula’s activities for the audience, and she reports that there was an audible gasp and then things got very quiet. EllenBeth asked about the percentage of women in leadership positions on their state boards, and Damerow floundered as she admitted only one leader was a woman.

Do a thought experiment here. Imagine that this is not about women. Imagine that it’s about race. Imagine that Vacula had posted on a notoriously racist site. Then imagine the SCA appointing him co-director of a state chapter.

It seems incredibly unlikely, don’t you think?

Well what we keep wondering is – why is sexism so fucking much more acceptable than racism?


The long arm of the law

Florida’s a scary place. If you ever have the bad luck to be taken hostage there by a guy armed with a gun and a knife, you might find yourself being prosecuted if you survive.

A Florida woman is being accused of not defending her two children as their father stabbed them in the midst of a SWAT team standoff at an RV park.

On Monday, Deanna DeJesus pleaded not guilty to aggravated manslaughter and child neglect in the attack that left her 9-year-old son dead, NBC Miami reports. The 7-year-old, along with the defendant herself, were both severely wounded. [Read more…]

Devastating, passionate and ferocious

In re-reading Maryam’s talk and the comments on it I saw a link to a post by someone who attended the NSS Conference.

Nick was good, he says.

Nick was a fantastically eloquent and inspiring speaker – talking about self-censorship and imploring us to always be free to criticise “divinely inspired bigotry and facism”. His passion for free speech and how we should never be deterred from our right to it even in the face of threats of violence was fabulous, and evocative of Hitch in his refusal to back down to fascist terror threats in his robust rebuttals to religious lunatics. There is no greater compliment I can grant him than that.

But then there was Maryam…

Maryam’s talk was the highlight for me, Io, Narwahl and Chris as she delivered a devastating, passionate and ferocious salvo against islamo-fascism and the horrors of sharia law. [Read more…]

Who is an Islamophobe?

As I mentioned, in my horrid sarcastic mocking horrid way, I’m getting called Islamophobic a good bit these days. I’m getting called it here and even on the chat threads at Pharyngula, The Lounge and Thunderdome. (On the other hand it’s by the same people, so it doesn’t add up to more, it just adds up to repetition.)

I think this is frankly stupid. It’s as if the people who call me that had never heard of Maryam Namazie. Surely it can’t be the case that they’ve never heard of Maryam, can it? They don’t go round to her place and call her Islamophobic do they? Or do they.

Here’s Maryam at the National Secular Society conference in London last week:

Sometimes I really don’t know what more to say.

What else can be said about Sharia law that– at least in your gut – you don’t already know?

It is based on the Koran, the Hadith and Islamic jurisprudence. Its criminal code includes stoning to death for adultery and execution for apostasy and homosexuality. In Iran, for example, there are over 130 offences punishable by death.

Its civil code – which is imposed by Sharia courts in Britain – is discriminatory and unfair particularly against women. Basically it is a code of death and despair. [Read more…]