I’m reading Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven.

The core facts: a Mormon man [Dan Lafferty] converted to radical polygamist female-subservientist fundamentalist Mormonism and converted his five brothers. The oldest brother [Ron Lafferty] was divorced by his wife as a result. The wife [Brenda] of the youngest [Allen] resisted all of them. Ron and Dan killed her and the pair’s baby daughter.

Some particulars:

Although standing up to Allen meant standing up to the entire Lafferty clan, Brenda did not shy away from such confrontations…[S]he possessed an impressive command of LDS scripture that allowed her to more than hold her own when debating fundamentalist doctrine with Ron and Dan. They came to despise her for defying them and for her influence over Allen, whom they considered “pussy-whipped.” [Read more…]

I get email

I got one today from someone who has commented here a few times as nmcc or NMcC, and who commented yesterday to tell me how wrong I am about the word “cunt” and to say “Sarah Palin is a cunt.” I deleted that comment and put him – his email address showed he’s a Nigel – in moderation. The message I got this morning expressed surprise at the deletion of the comment. (It started with “Hi” – this is more significant than you might think.) I replied, brusquely,

Really? You would have thought “Sarah Palin is a cunt” was well within my commenting policy? I’ve been very explicit about that. Other things not within my commenting policy: “Al Sharpton is a nigger.” “Woody Allen is a kike.” “Salman Rushdie is a wog.”

I hope that clears things up.

——– Ophelia Benson, Editor Butterflies and Wheels ———

He replied. This is how he replied:

Dear Ms Benson,
Thank you for taking the time to reply to my email.
I must say, I don’t expect much in the way of civility from the ‘new’ atheist type, but I confess I thought elementary good manners by way of an introductory salutation might not have been beyond you. Obviously not.
In regard to my comment: This is simply a difference of opinion, though one that you have blown up into a difference of principle – or, rather, you have attempted to do so. In my opinion (I assume I’m allowed to have an opinion since we don’t live in a ‘new’ atheist world yet, and neither, thank Christ, are we ever likely to!), and as I said in my comment, the word cunt, like the word dick, and like the word asshole, are rarely, if ever, used to refer to a particular anatomical feature of a male or female. Words can take on a life of their own. Language evolves and grows and changes to the degree that words are unrecognisable from what they first meant, implied or described. The word gay, of course, is an obvious example.
I use the word cunt all the time. So do a lot of people I know. I never use it with the slightest thought of it having any connection with the female genitalia. To my knowledge, neither does anyone else.
So, in fact, you are quite simply wrong to ascribe any inference of misogyny to me or anyone I know. Indeed, your introducing the terms nigger, kike and wog,  simply shows how ludicrously – not to mention hysterically and self-righteously – wrong you are.  The simple fact is, there is NO comparison to be made with the words mentioned. All 3 of those words, as far as I’m aware, were specifically coined to refer to others in a racist and openly hateful and derogatory way. Those words refer to specific people and are used to degrade and denigrate those specific people. The word cunt is NOT used in any such way by the majority of people who use it. It most certainly is not used to denigrate or degrade women.
You have a different opinion. Good for you. Keep advocating your point of view. Perhaps you’ll change my mind on the issue.
I am unlikely to change your mind for the simple reason that you have got no qualms about DELETING my point of view, and would further, in the unlikely event of you ever being in a position to do so, have no problem in countenancing my being made to conform to your mistaken and ludicrous views through threats of censorship.
I, on the other hand, am a democrat, and would not entertain for a second the idea of shutting anyone up, let alone you.
Incidentally, have you any idea how pathetic you appear to me in your phoney concern for women’s interests?
Are you not the person who is encouraging your fellow dopey ‘new’ atheists to attend a gig at an American military base? What was it you called those state-sponsored thugs and murderers? Oh yes, ‘good people’.
Tell me, what’s worse: Using the word cunt completely bereft of any hateful connotations or intentions in regard to women, or sanctioning and applauding those who, at the behest of a religious nut, are responsible for wrecking their already impoverished lives through murdering and maiming their children and husbands?
Go ahead, tell me. You hypocritical cunt.
Yours sincerely,
Nigel McCullough


A triumph for the Texas Taliban

So there’s this couple in Texas looking forward to their second baby, a brother for their 2-year-old daughter.

Yet now my doctor was looking grim and, with chair pulled close, was speaking of alarming things. “I’m worried about your baby’s head shape,” she said. “I want you to see a specialist—now.”

My husband looked angry, and maybe I did too, but it was astonishment more than anger. Ours was a profound disbelief that something so bad might happen to people who think themselves charmed. We already had one healthy child and had expected good fortune to give us two.

Instead, before I’d even known I was pregnant, a molecular flaw had determined that our son’s brain, spine and legs wouldn’t develop correctly. If he were to make it to term—something our doctor couldn’t guarantee—he’d need a lifetime of medical care. From the moment he was born, my doctor told us, our son would suffer greatly. [Read more…]

Not “a safe space” for women

How dare women be in Tahrir Square? Especially filthy foreign women?

According to Heather, an Arab-American living in the Egyptian capital, she and her Swedish and Spanish roommates took to Tahrir as thousands were converging there to mark one-year since the ousting of former President Hosni Mubarak.

“They started fighting over who was going to do what,” Heather told Bikyamasr.com in an exclusive interview. She came forward after seeing the report on a foreign woman who was stripped naked and assaulted only hours after her own incident.

“My roommates and I fell to the ground when they attacked us. The people pulled our pants off even as we yelled and tried to fight,” she continued.

She said that after the men pulled their pants off, they continued to grab and grobe the women’s bodies. “It is disgusting. They put fingers up my ass,” she revealed.

Later in the night, the issue of sexual violence toward women was sparked after an eyewitness reported on the micro-blogging site Twitter that a foreign woman was stripped, groped and assaulted by another mob of men in the square.

The woman, whose identity has not been revealed, was taken away in an ambulance after being assaulted for 10 minutes. Her husband reportedly was unable to intervene and witnessed the incident.

“I saw the woman and then dozens of men surrounded her and started grabbing her, when she screamed for help some people came, but they were hit in the face,” wrote one witness.

What happened next was “appalling,” said the trusted witness, who asked for anonymity. “The men just started tearing at her clothes and grabbing her body all over. When she fought back, they pushed her. It was chaos.”

There were unconfirmed reports that the men “violated” her with their hands.

Throughout the day, sexual harassment towards women has been increasing and more and more reports of women being grabbed and groped began being reported.

I find this so depressing I can’t think of anything else to say about it.

Misogyny? What misogyny?

Reading Greta’s most recent post about…about friends and allies and misogyny and how to deal with it and talk about it. You know: what we’ve been talking about for months and months and months now. One thing that happened in the comments is that Justicar showed up to discuss the issues in a calm, reasoned, civil way…deceptively calm, reasoned, and civil. He’s not like that everywhere. He’s not like that at ERV and he’s not like it on his own blog.

Aerik pointed out one example that I don’t think I’d seen before (although who knows, maybe I did, I saw a lot last summer and no doubt I’ve forgotten most of it by now).

On top of attacking Watson in a most misogynist manner, he does it to ophelia benson, too!  Screams in his title “HAHAHA DISREGARD THAT, ORWELLPHIA SUCKS COCKS! ”  Also calls her “wicked bitch of the west.”

Oh yes? So I looked it up, and found this.

That’s Justicar.

Here’s what you learn

Funny how sexism never goes out of style, isn’t it. I used to think it was out of style at least among people who occasionally use their heads for something other than putting food into, but I’ve been disabused of that starry-eyed notion lately. Certainly people who don’t go in for multi-purpose heads seem to think sexism is both funny and truthful. Like the tabloid press in the UK, Laurie Penny says.

We are used to seeing this sort of story about women in the tabloids, the familiar narrative of vapid idealisation, followed by shame and sexual humiliation. What we are not used to is seeing a real woman in a smart suit telling us how these stories affected her life. Now a collection of liberal feminist groups has come forward to say what everyone knew already: that any investigation into media ethics would be incomplete without an acknowledgement that the British tabloid press is oozing with the very worst sort of malicious, heavy-breathing misogyny. [Read more…]

Not a touch


Massimo Pigliucci did a skeptical post on Hitchens a couple of days ago, and Jerry Coyne defends Hitchens today. I mostly agree with the defense, but…hmmm.

Misogynyist? Does Pigluicci know what that means?  Let us check the Oxford English Dictionary. “Misogyny: Hatred or dislike of, or prejudice against women.”  I don’t think Hitch hated, disliked, or was prejudiced against women. Sometimes he was mildly paternalistic, as when he claimed that his wife didn’t have to work, and sometimes he made boorish remarks verging on sexism, as in his famous critique of the Dixie Chicks. (But remember that he used equal invective against people like Jerry Falwell, and was not accused of being a man-hater.)

[Update: The last sentence quoted above has now been altered, but I quoted it as it was at the time.]

Not verging on sexism; sexism, and not a million miles from misogyny. Disagreeing with women by calling them fucking fat slags is sexism and it does at least hint at the presence of misogyny. Men who don’t hate women as a category tend not to call them names of that kind. [Read more…]


I’m handicapped in thinking about this by the fact that I’ve never seen, let alone read, a lads’ mag. I’ve spent the past few minutes trying to figure out what they are, which has led to my finding out what “lad culture” is, which I’m not sure I wanted to know.

In an ironic, self-conscious fashion, “lads took up an anti-intellectual position, scorning sensitivity and caring in favour of drinking, violence, and a pre-feminist attitude to women as both sex objects and creatures from another species”.

Oh I hate that “ironic” thing. Pretentious jerks in the UK are always telling you they’re doing or saying whatever it is “ironically,” which just means don’t go thinking I’m a jerk merely because I’m acting or talking like one. [Read more…]

An atmosphere where a slide towards violence against women is enabled

Kyle Sandilands says it’s free speech and also that it’s quite all right and reasonable and why not? He explains carefully.

I’ll attack any journalist that attacks me that I think’s unfair.

Well what he means is, if a journalist says something about his show that he doesn’t like, he will not respond with an explanation of why she is wrong or a criticism of her reasoning, but rather, he will call her a fat slag, a fat bitter thing with a nothing job, and a piece of shit, and then he will tell her to watch her mouth or he’ll hunt her down. In other words he’ll say the most degrading things he can think of and then he’ll threaten her. [Read more…]