They will take more consideration

The UCL Union has a statement on its attempt to meddle with the UCLU Atheist, Secularist & Humanist Society’s Facebook page.

UCLU (the representative body of UCL students) has a duty to foster and encourage freedom of expression among our members, ensure diversity of our membership is recognised[,] and pursue equal opportunities for our members.

Following a number of complaints from UCL students, UCLU requested that the UCLU Atheist, Secularist & Humanist Society (UCLU ASH) take down a cartoon from a Facebook event page advertising one of the society’s regular social events.

The society was asked to remove the image because UCLU aims to foster good relations between different groups of students and create a safe environment where all students can benefit from societies regardless of their religious or other beliefs. UCLU has a duty to ensure students are not harassed because of a characteristic which may make them appear different to others, including but not limited to race, gender, religion, nationality or sexual orientation.

Society Presidents take responsibility for their own publicity, and it is not vetted by UCLU prior to distribution. They are provided with equality training prior to running a society, to help them understand the balance between freedom of expression and cultural sensitivity.

The event in question has now passed and the society has agreed that they will take more consideration when drawing up publicity for future events.

That’s a horrible document. Nobody was being harassed because of the existence of that cartoon on that page. If harassment is defined that broadly then nobody can say anything.

The sentence about “equality training” that helps society presidents “understand the balance between freedom of expression and cultural sensitivity” makes me want to lose my lunch.

The smug satisfaction of “they will take more consideration” makes me want to shout at least three rude words.




I hadn’t kept up with developments in the UCL/Jesus and Mo fuss until I got that email. There were developments.

The New Humanist reported that the Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society at UCL reported that progress had been made.

While debate raged online, however, both the UCL union and the atheist society have been working to resolve the matter, and the ASHS have this morning announced that progress has been made, with the union agreeing that they can not ask the society to take down the image. This is explained by the society’s president, Robbie Yellon, in a statement on their Facebook page:

Good, good. Except…wait. What’s that in the third paragraph of that statement?

Unfortunately, the Union has considered the possibility that posting the image might have constituted an act of bullying, prejudice, harassment or discrimination. We firmly believe in the protection of our fellow students through University and Union policy; however we cannot accept such a suggestion. They have also considered the force of our actions and unwillingness to concede. As such, the society may be risking a disciplinary hearing which could lead to the forced resignation of committee members, or disaffiliation from the Union. In light of our now constructive relationship with the Union, such an event seems unlikely, though we would ask for your support should it ever occur.


The union agreed “they can no longer call on us to withdraw the image” but they might decide posting it was an act of bullying, prejudice, harassment or discrimination so they might punish ASHS anyway? Especially because of their unwillingness to concede? Their unwillingness to concede something that should never have been asked in the first place?

If that’s progress, what would regress look like?

David Shariatmadari reported the story for the Guardian, complete with picture of Richard Dawkins smiling in his usual strident way.

And the Pod Delusion talked to Dave of Jesus and Mo. Dave points out, as I like to do, that the sketchy “image” of Mo in J and M can’t really be said to be even an attempt at an actual picture of Mohammed, because who knows what he looked like? Also he explains about the barmaid but he doesn’t say about the rumor that she’s your humble servant.

Peter Palumbo

I saw this on Jessica Ahlquist’s twitter feed a few hours ago:

State representative Palumbo called me an “evil little thing.”

Just now I was about to google for details preparatory to doing a post, but JT Eberhard got there first.

Peter G. Palumbo, the Democrat in the RI House from the Cranston district, has no rebukes for the Jesus-loving liars, bullies, or thugs.  He has nothing negative to say about the people who felt they were above the Constitution and lied to subvert it.  He did, however, have something to say about Jessica.  According to Palumbo she is “An evil little thing.”  That may have bee said sarcastically, but the line “I think she’s being coerced by evil people” was most assuredly not.

I urge you to listen to him say that. It’s the first soundbite on the page, and it’s just a few seconds. Don’t listen if you have high blood pressure or a stomach ache. It’s disgusting – two grown men sneering at a high school girl who had the audacity to uphold the Constitution.

JT says it more better:

Palumbo’s email address is   His office phone number is  (401) 785-2882.  Spread the word and inundate him.  Our leaders should respect the constitution, not snipe at those who have been been confirmed to have fought in its defense.  Palumbo has just sided with dishonesty and bullies.

Drop him a line.

Unconvincing claims of exercising free speech

A week ago the Paris correspondent of Time, Bruce Crumley, wrote an article on the firebombing of Charlie Hebdo, saying…that we journalists and beneficiaries of free speech stand shoulder to shoulder with Charlie Hebdo?

No actually. Not that. Something different.

Okay, so can we finally stop with the idiotic, divisive, and destructive efforts
by “majority sections” of Western nations to bait Muslim members with petulant, futile demonstrations that “they” aren’t going to tell “us” what can and can’t be done in free societies? Because not only are such Islamophobic antics futile and childish, but they also openly beg for the very violent responses from extremists their authors claim to proudly defy in the name of common good. What common good is served by creating more division and anger, and by tempting belligerent reaction? [Read more…]

“Secularism” in Turkey

Burak Bekdil explains why Turkish secularism isn’t.

A majority of Turks, Sunni Muslims, overtly or covertly believe that they should be “more equal” than the others because they constitute the majority. They think that it is their natural right to enjoy preferential treatment in terms of governance and law enforcement. Remember how the crowds in Istanbul last year, trying to attack the Israeli consulate, shouted at the police who were trying to prevent bloodshed? “Leave the Jews to us! What kind of Muslims are you?” A simple search will produce thousands of examples of this nature unveiling the conscious or subconscious desire of the Sunni Turk for preferential treatment in public administration. [Read more…]

Insulting the religious values

Oh noes, a cartoonist did a cartoon. Call the cops!

A Turkish cartoonist will be put on trial for a caricature he drew in which he renounced god, daily Habertürk reported on its website Wednesday.

The Istanbul chief public prosecutor’s office charged cartoonist Bahadır Baruter with “insulting the religious values adopted by a part of the population” and requested his imprisonment for up to one year. [Read more…]

Individual apologies to everyone who complained

Jesus is a strange guy. I’m always noticing it. On the one hand he’s God – the God, you know, the one who is omnipotent and omniscient and has a mind without a body – and on the other hand he’s so fragile that an ad for a cell phone hurts his feelings.

Wouldn’t you think he could handle it? Wouldn’t you think he would see the bigger picture and just not worry all that much about jokey cell phone ads? [Read more…]