Supporting Scientology marriage – opposing marriage

This happened:

A couple have made history by becoming the first to marry in a Church of Scientology chapel, five years after they brought a legal case to have their religious rights recognised.

Newlyweds Alessandro Calcioli and Louisa Hodkin, both 25, described their marriage as a “momentous” victory against “inequality and unfairness” as they posed for photographs outside a Scientology church in London, surrounded by confetti and bridesmaids.

“It has been a long, five-year battle to achieve a simple freedom – the right to marry in our own church with a service in accordance with the rites and customs of our religion and surrounded by our friends and family,” the couple said. “All weddings should be magical and momentous for the couple concerned, but we are conscious that ours, as the first for our religion in England, has its own place in history.”

I’m not really a fan of marriage or most forms of romance things. Yet, that doesn’t mean I don’t think we should stand against opposition to gay marriage.

As Notung points out, you can defend the principle of equality while still being opposed to the overarching institution. His analogy regarded women bishops: It’s nonsense that women can’t hold the same offices as men, but I also think all things anchored or premised entirely on faith are nonsense too.

Does this mean I should support the Scientology couple and their victory? I think so. I may think that Scientology, along with all religions really, is wrong (morally and empircally). But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t suppor their right to marry, since it’s all – I guess – equally non-sensical. Don’t exclude a group from being able to engage in an adult institution, even if I disagree with that institution, if the only criteria is “your faith-based philosophies are newer than mine”.

I mean we know the Internet has a hard-on hatred for Scientology, but still.

Is there any reason to oppose Scientology marriage as a recognised form of marriage, if other faiths get recognised as proper marriages?

On mocking people’s physical appearance & the ethics of humour

I wrote a post, for Big Think, about why we should be hesitant about mocking other people’s physical appearance. I’m uncertain whether we should never do it: I think that, maybe, we do it too much or don’t reflect before doing it enough. I certainly know I’m hesitant about laughing at or making jokes about someone’s physical appearance.

Humour isn’t equal in its target, in its approach, in its ethical basis. Humour isn’t something that gets moral immunity just because it makes us or an audience feel good. Perhaps that’s why people sometimes can’t understand why some take jokes as statements of hate or mockery or derision: “Hey, it’s just a joke!”. Describing something as a joke doesn’t dismiss it from its moral impact.

I’m sensitive to claims of offence: I don’t think offence is a sufficient argument for not doing something, nor, indeed, is it even an argument. It’s, at its base, an expression of disgust or dislike. But adults know that disgust isn’t enough to make rulings on: just because we dislike something is no reason to legislate or command others to cease it. I hate celebrity culture and obsession over the minute details of strange people’s lives, but I’d never want a law that says no one ever is allowed to write about it.

However, as I tried to stress in the piece, just because people sound the same when they react to their god being mocked and their face being mocked doesn’t mean that each response is justified the same. I argued it’s myopic and, indeed, bullying to dismiss everyone’s concerns under the banner of “(merely) offended parties” – as if everyone who responds to all forms of mockery is equally wrong just because they seem the same.

And the corollary is the same: Those (like myself) saying be mindful of what you say because it effects people are not on the same moral ground as those demanding we censor all books that offend a few hypersensitive Muslims.

I want to grudgingly highlight two comments which are emblematic of many comments I’ve seen for some time, from Big Think’s Facebook page.

This argument is the same as censorship

Of course, the Internet, as always is intent on proving that people hate reading and are determined to be as nasty, as unreflective about their impact on others, as possible. You know, until the law steps in or something.

For example, this fellow said in response to my article:

Look at that again and allow me to emphasise the hyperbole: “ANYTIME ANYONE is told “You really shouldn’t say that” it STIFLES ANY free expression”.

What does “free expression” mean to this individual? The ability to mock who he wants? Well no one is stopping him, essentially. It’s his choice to do so. My article argues you should choose – you know, utilise your freedom – to pick the moral path (or what I’ve argued is the moral path). You can choose to ignore me, you can choose to make grand declarations about concepts you haven’t defined on Facebook without argument. You can choose all these things.

This individual – as with many – remarkably manage to equate/confuse “please consider your actions, because we’re fallible and we could be wrong and here’s an argument why…” with “I am the Hand of Justice and Thou Art Wrong. If thou Transgress these here Laws, Thou will be Punish’d Most Harsh’dly!”

I don’t know how people manage to read bloggers and opinion writers as being dictatorships. No one forced you to read, no one forced you to choose to ignore. But for goodness’ sake, realise you have merely articulated your free choice – your CHOICE – to ignore the argument I provided.

If anything, it is those who say “arguments equal censorship” who are damaging to free speech; one of the most effective ways to bring about censorship is to declare opinions you don’t like as being antithetical to “freedom” – instead of acknowledging arguments are part of the very thing free expression is meant to defend.

Stop whining and be strong like me

In my piece, I stressed that we are not all equally strong or capable of dealing with criticism. Again: this doesn’t mean we give in just because someone is offended or hurt. But there’s a difference between mocking ideas and god and a harmless person’s face. There are also good reasons to be able to mock god – but I can’t think of any arguing it’s good or moral or a duty to mock harmless people’s physical appearance. Even if they were such arguments, they wouldn’t be the same and I doubt as potent as the one’s arguing for humour as a tool to undermine sanctity.

But, regardless, a Strong Man just can’t understand why others aren’t like him. We’re just a bunch of wussies, you see. As I quote after, please note [sic] for everything.

1. “you make fun of something that is different, its [sic] normal.”

And we all know we just give into what’s normal, hey bubbah? What’s all this reflecting on whether what’s “normal” is also what’s right or what could be “better”? So silly.

2. stop being little baby’s [sic] about it and get over it.

I’m glad I didn’t point out why this statement might sometimes be worse than the initial insult. That would’ve been embarrassing.

3. “oh no some random guy i don’t know who probably smokes and has 2 bastard kids he doesn’t care for just said my nose is big”.. BIG DEAL!! and yet people get offended by the dumbest smallest comment..

Oh no, some random guy on Facebook I don’t know said I should get over “it”!


How do I “grow some skin”? In a jar? Do you have the recipe? I should’ve just made my post a recipe for skin-growth so all those weak fools who spend the whole life feeling and “looking” different can just ignore them because, luckily, we are all equally strong and “manly”, eh?

5. being different you should be proud of your uniqueness and despite having a large nose or a fat ass you should be proud of what you have that others dont. like a good job, or being a good person..

Yes, all people who have deep-seated issues about their appearance have good jobs because psychological problems means it’s easy for them get great jobs… oh wait. No. It’s not. And do good people tell other people to get over themselves? Or do they say, hey, maybe sometimes people have a good reason to not feel insulted? Maybe the world shouldn’t be a shit place with shit people making others feel shit? I don’t know. I haven’t grown that skin yet so I could be seeing things weirdly with my weak eyes and big feet that I’m so proud of.

6. we are creating a pansy world where kids and adults will be offended and cry over being called a stupid head or ugly face.. i mean really.. we’re f*ing adults here.. grow up..

“Pansy”? Well, if I told you that’s not a nice word, would you say I should get over it? Or would you care about combating a world that stigmatises gay people and realise that words have an impact; that showing you don’t care about the words you use means you don’t actually care about making a tiny, small change in your life that means more to others than you? Gods forbid you make a tiny reflective free choice to not use words – a virtual non-effort on your part – because it benefits people who probably are not you, but who face stigma and hatred everyday for just being who they are.

But what do I know, eh? We should be able to say and do whatever we want and people need to get over it, because we live in an equal world  and no one is oppressed and society treats everyone like a heterosexual, married, man who wants kids and is in a successful job. (Hopefully ones that also can spell.)


I “ruin” relationships just in time for Valentine’s Day

…or at least that’s what my friend Dean Burnett thinks.

Over at the Guardian, I decided to apply some kind of honesty to relationships, advising readers to question monogamy, procreation, etc., in their relationships (assuming most relationship are the two person, monogamous, long-term types). My main focus for this piece was to encourage the view that if you can’t speak about such important and difficult subjects with your partner, that should be a worrying sign.

Of course, it would also be nice if more people undermined their stigma of those who are childfree, polyamorous,ethically promiscuous (I’d love another word for this), etc.

Human Rights Watch video on homophobic attacks in Russia

Good luck watching this.

Thugs. Terrified thugs launching fists at the harmless, at the innocent.

Gay rights isn’t just a gay problem, just like sexism isn’t just a woman’s issue, or racism isn’t just a non-white issue (all of this assumes sexism, racism, etc., only directly negatively affects one group, too).

Nobody is unaffected by these things: We just think we aren’t. Being straight I am affected by not being oppressed about my sexuality. But the point is, no one group alone should benefit from a lack of oppression – everyone should.

I have no idea what to do about that. I don’t know how to combat sexism or homophobia or any kind of bigotry. I’m not well-versed in the politics, in the psychology. I don’t know why it happens, how long it’s been happening. I don’t know where it began, where it exists, where it thrives.

I only know its wrong. I only know that more of us, at least, should proudly support and stand up against bigotry. But keyboard warriors aren’t sufficient; digital petitions aren’t enough; this attitude at the very least can be articulated “live” to friends, loved ones, when they make homophobic remarks, when they dismiss women as dumb, when they try sneak a racial “observation” through conversation. Maybe that will help, maybe it will make them think twice about being so comfortable in their lack of concern for people who aren’t part of their group.

Again: I don’t know. This realisation that things are wrong anchored by having no fucking clue what to do is, for me, almost as horrible as knowing that, tomorrow, bigotry will continue and innocent people will be hurt because they’re not the “right” sex, not the right race, not the right sexuality, not  physically built right, not the right height, not the right weight.

I hate this species.

(This is an important piece, by Marc Bennetts, on responding to Russian situation.)

Women don’t know how language works, the poor things: No means yes

Amazon was hosting a Kindle book called “LMR Exposed: How To Overcome Her Last Minute Resistance To Sex, Turn ‘No’ Into ‘Yes’ And Get the Lay!” It was pretty bizarre and rather horrid. I read as much as I could while it was hosted and have read the author’s “articles” before.

The Huffington Post quotes it:

“I’ve had situations where a girl is lying naked with me on my bed, still loudly proclaiming that we’re not having sex… Other times, I just forcefully removed the hand, stuck my dick inside, and she welcomed it eagerly once I was in.”

Charming no? Go rape! (LMR means “last minute resistance”. So, yes, there’s that.)

The International Business Times notes:

The book, which was available on Kindle, gives tips on how to convince women that resistance [is] “ridiculous” along with a “sneaky psychological technique that busts through LMR without her even knowing”.

Anyway, I wrote an Amazon review that went live – even though the book itself is removed. I mostly had fun writing my review, in an attempt at satire, since I was afraid of tackling it too seriously – which I’m sure others will and have done, better than I could.

The author found out about the initial 1-star reviews, and promptly responded in the obviously mature way that warrants taking him seriously as an adult. (If you can’t read the following image, please click here)

(Source: Huffington Post)

Allow me to fisk.

“A few individuals with nothing better to do have gone to my book page and left my latest book several 1-star reviews.”

Many of us spend our time doing many things at the same time; one of the things that matters is combatting bigotry and mistreatment of women, and underlying beliefs. Beliefs which, when truly believed and acted upon, significantly harm innocent people. That’s not a waste of a time – it’s a moral duty.

However, that’s done to a matter of degree and anchored by degrees of morality. I personally would’ve kept your book up – so that it could be critiqued and shown to be silly (and promoting harmful behavior).

But anyway, what do you care, right? It’s just one star reviews.

“Naturally, not a single one of these cuckoo social justice warriors have purchased the book or read it.”

Many of us have read you and read significant portions; besides which, if we’re wrong, just tell us why. Your book isn’t some philosophical thesis or scientific treatise – it’s a summary of pro-rape behavior. I doubt my perspective would be changed because I read through to the index. You have one, right?

“Your pathetic mob efforts have had absolutely zero impact on my business. Further, several hot girls have privately reached out to me in commiseration over the response to this article.”

Interestingly, this isn’t about you but about the beliefs you are espousing. But, sure, go ahead and view this as some personal attack on “your business”. And of course, I keep forgetting the measure of morality is how many hot girls reach out “in commiseration”.

“Finally, it is a very beautiful, sunny Friday afternoon here in Bangkok, Thailand. Tonight I will go out and celebrate life and most likely fornicate with a gorgeous young girl. Perhaps several.”

Good for you, but I think we know it probably won’t be consensual fornication. So to that extent, I’m quite worried. Not that you care about that silly liberal feminazi dogma called “consent”, eh? That’s not for “real” men, amirate?”

“I will have spent exactly zero seconds of my life thinking about you”

Er. Then why write this comment? You clearly did. Perhaps we should teach you about how time and numbers work?

“while you foam at the mouth for days straight from behind your computer screen thinking about me.”

My mouth is quite dry but I’m touched you care. And, again, this isn’t particularly about you but what you are espousing – and those views are tackled, in various ways, by many people.

“I (we) win.”

Yes, you do. Look at that empty Amazon page! Wow. Such space.

Um, but sorry – what do you win, exactly?



NoteNote – The note-naming convention specifies a letter, any accidentals, and an octave number.