Public property

I was on a bus a couple of hours ago; a woman got up to be ready to get off at the next stop, and a guy sitting in one of the face-sideways seats started hassling her for not smiling. “Everyone else is smiling but you!” he informed her.

Nuh uh. I wasn’t, for one. I think there were others who weren’t.

He went on grumbling at her – sort of “joking” but in a pain in the ass way. She was certainly not amused. [Read more…]

Vulcans can’t argue

I’m still getting Vulcans telling me that the only rational thing to do is to argue everything using Logic and Reason while totally excluding emotion.

So what you get is people explaining about rape using what they take to be Logic and Reason while totally ignoring the fact that rape tends to be an emotive subject.

You can’t have a reasoned discussion about moral issues that excludes emotion not just as part of the discussers’ equipment but even as part of the subject matter.

Robotic arguments about slavery or child marriage or school for girls or rape or genital mutilation can’t get off the ground, because robots don’t give a damn either way.

Moral issues depend on emotion. If no one cares about them, there’s nothing to argue about.


The mother should die instead

Something else I do sometimes? Laugh in public. Omigod – the blasphemy of it.

Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç says that’s not allowed.

Speaking during an Eid el-Fitr meeting on July 28, Arınç described his ideal of the chaste man or woman, saying they should both have a sense of shame and honor.

“Chastity is so important. It is not only a name. It is an ornament for both women and men. [She] will have chasteness. Man will have it, too. He will not be a womanizer. He will be bound to his wife. He will love his children. [The woman] will know what is haram and not haram. She will not laugh in public. She will not be inviting in her attitudes and will protect her chasteness,” Arınç said, adding that people had abandoned their values today.

People needs to discover the Quran once again, Arınç said, adding that there had been a regression on moral grounds.

“Where are our girls, who slightly blush, lower their heads and turn their eyes away when we look at their face, becoming the symbol of chastity?” he said.

[Read more…]

Accused of posting a blasphemous picture to Facebook

I sometimes post blasphemous pictures or news links or remarks on Facebook. Probably more than sometimes. You could probably say I do that quite often. It’s possible that I do it several times a day. I don’t keep track, but that’s possible.

It’s a good thing for me that I don’t live in Lahore.

The New York Times reports on what happens to people who do when there’s a whisper about “blasphemy” somewhere in the neighborhood.

A woman and two of her young granddaughters were burned to death Sunday night in the eastern city of Gujranwala after a member of their Ahmadi minority sect was accused of posting a blasphemous picture to Facebook, the police said.

[Read more…]

The sooner you go to the treatment centre the better chance you have of surviving

Tulip Mazumdar reports on the Ebola crisis in Guinea for the BBC.

This is the final resting place of the latest victim of Ebola: a four-month-old baby boy called Faya.

He caught the virus from his mother, who died a few weeks earlier.

His is the 20th anonymous grave in this dark and lonely clearing.

“I was there with him just before he died,” says Adele Millimouno, a Medicines Sans Frontieres (MSF) nurse recruited from a nearby village.

“I had been feeding him milk. I stepped away, just for a short break, but then I was called back and he was dead. I was totally devastated.”

[Read more…]

Guest post: Feminism is full of seriously brain-stretching rationality

Originally a comment by Maureen on Let’s sit down and discuss that proposition itself.

Richard Dawkins claims to be struggling against the forces of darkness – however defined – in order to have a logical and rational discussion on sensitive subjects. In order to do that, though, you would need facts. I don’t see that he even mentions facts, let alone informed opinion, let alone research.

No-one, not even intellectual super-stars, can be expected to conduct such a discussion as a pure intellectual exercise, nor would a wise man choose Twitter as the forum. How do you have a dialogue when you don’t know to whom you are talking or what knowledge or preconceptions they bring to the imaginary table?

Curiously enough, I have been having logical and rational discussions – some intense, some more relaxed – for a good fifty years on all these “sensitive” subjects but every last one of them informed by knowledge and experience, developing knowledge and experience not 140 characters plucked out of thin air. One is tempted to ask, “Richard Dawkins, where have you been all these decades?” [Read more…]

Let’s sit down together and discuss that proposition itself

The title of Dawkins’s new post asks a question: Are there emotional no-go areas where logic dare not show its face? The first paragraph re-words the question.

Are there kingdoms of emotion where logic is taboo, dare not show its face, zones where reason is too intimidated to speak?

My answer is yes, of course there are. Not the ones he has in mind, necessarily, but there are some. There are plenty of situations where reason just isn’t wanted, only sympathy or affection or solidarity or just warm-bodiedness will do. There are others where only joyous abandon is wanted.

But that’s interpersonal; RD is talking about public discourse. That’s different. Discourse by definition rests on at least minimal reason and logic. But does that mean emotion must be banished? [Read more…]

They are afraid

Oh no. Richard Dawkins has another post on the “mild rape is less bad than ferocious rape” paradigm he’s been using to illustrate Logic lately. It’s not going to calm the heaving waters.

For now I’ll just quote the last paragraph.

It is utterly deplorable that there are people, including in our atheist community, who suffer rape threats because of things they have said. And it is also deplorable that there are many people in the same atheist community who are literally afraid to think and speak freely, afraid to raise even hypothetical questions such as those I have mentioned in this article. They are afraid – and I promise you I am not exaggerating – of witch-hunts: hunts for latter day blasphemers by latter day Inquisitions and latter day incarnations of Orwell’s Thought Police.

[Read more…]

No shelter for you

Golly, now there’s a new twist on dear old gender segregation – in Israel, a “men only” bomb shelter.

While people all around Israel have spent the past two weeks scrambling for cover during rocket attacks, it seems that in some places, only men’s lives are considered worth protecting. In the Ashdod rabbinate building, the bomb shelter has a sign on it reading “For men only,” and women who happened to be in the rabbinate during recent raids were not allowed into the bomb shelter. [Read more…]