This one hits hard

TW: Suicide

I have been laid low with laryngitis, so I have spent some time surfing the internet, and I came across a new music video from Linkin Park. It is not a new song, rather it is 20 years old, but it has not been released before now, and it hits hard, because of what has happened in those twenty years.

This is a song where you can feel the pain of Chester Bennington, who committed suicide in July 2017, just two months after the suicide of his friend Chris Cornell. It is like hearing the voice of a ghost, but from when he was alive, sharing his anguish with the world.

RIP Chester.

If you want to revisit the life and death of Chester Bennington, I think this Rolling Stones article is pretty good.

Listen to the whispers

As PZ already has covered, there has been some revelations about problems with two former board members of American Atheists. One was Mandisa Thomas, who has been a major voice among Black American atheists, but whose behavior has caused major rifts in that community. I have little knowledge about neither Mandisa Thomas nor the situation, but I firmly support the people who have left Black Nonbelievers as a result of Mandisa Thomas’ behavior.

The other former board member of AA was Andrew Torrez, someone I know a lot more about. Andrew Torrez was a popular legal podcaster as the co-host of Opening Arguments and Cleanup on Aisle 45. I was a supporter on both podcasts on Patreon. As the stories of his behavior have started to come out, it has also become clear that several organizations and associates, including several podcast hosts, had heard about these problems as far back as in 2017. It appear that there was an incident in 2017 that was shared broadly.

What is certainly clear, is that there has been rumors about Torrez on the whisper network for years (something PZ alludes to in his original post on the subject). The problem with the whisper network is that it is by nature vague, and that you only hear it if you are connected to it in some way. This makes it easy to ignore, but that’s a mistake. The reason why the rumors tend to be vague, is that there is a constant worry of law threats (something we certainly know the risk of here at Freethoughtblogs), especially when it involves a lawyer.

I am not particularly connected to the whisper network, but I have occasionally heard names through it, and in just about every case, later revelations have show the whisper network to be right.

This is also the case for Torrez – someone I had really hoped the network was wrong about, but which it again turned out to be right about. Looking back, I really should have known better than to ignore it enough to financially support the podcasts, thus helping platform an abuser. I apologize for that. What I did do right, was to stop recommending the podcasts as soon as I heard the whispers – and this is something we all can do. If we hear that someone is problematic, stop recommending them, until you have looked into the allegations at depth.

I don’t say that you should uncritically believe any rumor you hear, but you should remember that when people step forward, even just on the whisper network, they risk serious repercussions, so it is not something that most people would do frivolously, so you definitely shouldn’t them out of hand.

Music calendar 2023

We are only 14 days into 2023, but I have already bought tickets for several concerts next year

  • Sabaton, Babymetal and Lordi, April 30
  • Rammstein, June 3
  • Copenhell Festival, June 14-17
  • Fallulah, September 30

As you can see, the concerts are definitely towards the heavier side of music, but there is also Fallulah, who is not heavy metal at all.

Bridges is probably her most well known song, but she is soon releasing new music

I am hoping to fill up with more concerts as I get further into the year. I also hope to do a bit of traveling, so I also need to make sure that I have time for that.

Last year, I went to Copenhell during the summer, but didn’t see much else, until the end of the year, where I finished strong with the Hu and Behemoth/Arch-enemy (with Carcass as support), both of which were absolutely fantastic. Live music is such an powerful experience.

Let me know if there are any concerts that I shouldn’t miss in Copenhagen, and surrounding areas, in 2023.

Pope Benedict XVI has died

Pope Benedict XVI was a conservative pope, who pushed the Catholic Church backwards in his eight years as the pope. He will be mostly known for being the first pontiff to step down in 600 years, but I hope he will also be remembered for the evils that he stood for, and never had to face the consequences of.

Pope Benedict XVI was involved in covering up the massive child abuse happening in the Catholic Church, both as the Pope, and before then, when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Archbishop of Munich and Freising. He also fought against women’s right to choose, and against same-sex marriage.

He followed Karol Wojtyła, Pope John Paul II, who also was deeply conservative, and was lucky enough to die before the Catholic Churches organized cover-ups of child abuse was widely known. He helped Pope John Paul II implement/confirm the conservative politics that the Catholic Church is known for today. As the Guardian writes:

In doctrinal terms, Benedict spent his time in charge tweaking the legacy of the 27 years of the Polish pontiff. The conservative settlement that John Paul had imposed, with Cardinal Ratzinger’s able and unswerving assistance, on the great theological battles that had followed the reforming second Vatican council of the 1960s remained fundamentally undisturbed during Benedict’s reign. The victories already achieved in the last decades of the 20th century over more liberal Catholic voices over questions of sexual morality, clerical celibacy, the place of women and religious freedom were, as far as Benedict was concerned, secure. His pontificate, then, is best seen as an extended postscript to the one that had gone before.

My only regret about his death, is that he never had to answer for his actions in the past.


A couple of good US court rulings

There is no doubt that the news out of the US Supreme Court has been abyssal this year, and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. Fortunately, this doesn’t necessarily reflect on the rest of the US courts, where there have been a number of good rulings.

Among these are the nearly $1.5 billion rulings against Alex Jones, the sanctions against Trump lawyers, and a course a number of cases involving Trump, where the judges have allowed the cases to go forward.

Now, a couple of new pieces of good news can be added:

Jacob Wohl, Jack Burkman must spend 500 hours registering voters as penance for phony robocalls targeting Black voters in Cleveland

A judge on Tuesday ordered Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman, two right-wing conspiracy theorists behind robocalls that sought to intimidate Black voters here out of casting mail-in ballots in the 2020 presidential election, to spend 500 hours registering voters in low-income neighborhoods in the Washington, D.C., area.

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge John Sutula placed each on two years of probation, fined each $2,500 and ordered them to wear GPS ankle monitors with home confinement beginning at 8 p.m. each day for the first six months of their probation.

Sutula, 71, said that most of the civil rights advances in the United States have occurred in his lifetime. He compared the men’s effort to those who used violence to suppress southern Black voters in the 1960s.
Jacob Wohl is scum, and it is good that there are real consequences for his actions.

Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the rightwing Oath Keepers militia, has been found guilty of seditious conspiracy, a charge arising from the attack on the US Capitol by supporters of Donald Trump.

Rhodes and co-defendant Kelly Meggs are the first people in nearly three decades to be found guilty of the rarely used civil war-era charge at trial. The trial was the biggest test yet for the US justice department in its efforts to hold accountable those responsible for the attack that shook the foundations of US democracy.

This appears to be a clear cut case of justice prevailing – if this wasn’t a case of seditious conspiracy, what is? But some times these things are harder to prove in court than would appear logical, so we should be glad that the US justice department managed to get the convictions.

New Rammstein music video

There is a new Rammstein music video out

Content warning: violence, religious imagery

Usually I have some understanding of the underlying messages of Rammstein videos, but in this case, I am at a loss.

Fred Brooks (1931-2022)

I just learned that Fred Brooks has passed away.

If you are outside software development, it is unlikely that you have ever heard about him, but inside the field, he was a giant. He is not known as much for his technical achievements, though they were impressive, as his seminal work “The Mythical Man-Month“, first published in 1975, in which he made remarkable claims like “[a]dding manpower to a late software project makes it later”. It is also famous for expressing the concept that if it takes a pregnant person 9 months to give birth to a baby, adding 8 more people, won’t change the period of time to one month – thus addressing the concept of man-months as a concept, showing why it is nonsense in some situations.

The Mythical Man-Month is still a book that I recommend to people working in software development (I’d suggest getting the 20 year edition from 1995, which has 4 extra chapters).

Support the women of Iran

On 16 September 2022, 22 year old Jina Mahsa Amini was killed by the morality police in Tehran, Iran leading to widespread protests and fights in Iran. Among the people protesting and fighting are the women, and the minorities, like the Kurds – a minority which Jina Mahsa Amini belonged to – but the protests/fights are widespread, and international organizations say there is protests in at least 16 of Iran’s 31 provinces, and that at least 50 people has been killed during the protests. Iranian media say that at least 35 people have been killed.

This is hardly the first time that there have been widespread protests in Iran, but this is larger than anything we have seen since 2009. As NY Times writes:

The largest anti-government protests in Iran since 2009 gathered strength on Saturday, spreading to as many as 80 cities, even as the authorities escalated a crackdown that has reportedly killed dozens of people and brought the arrests of prominent activists and journalists, according to rights groups and news media reports.

What is noteworthy about these protests, is that they are not limited to one group or location, but that they are widespread, and have even spread to religious and conservative cities like Mashhad and Qom. This means that the protests are taking a much wider hold than most of the former protests.

In other words, there is currently something major happening in Iran, and it is important that those of us living outside Iran, keep our eyes on the developments, and support the protesters. We need to keep a spotlight on the atrocities committed by the Iranian regime, and put as much pressure on them as we can. If you can, ask your politicians to speak out, participate in demonstrations, and support the protesters on social media.

A note about the name of the young woman, Jina Mahsa Amini. She is often referred to as just “Mahsa Amini”, but that is hiding her Kurdish heritage. Jina is her Kurdish name, which the Iranian government wouldn’t let her use. Thank you to Jino Victoria Doabi for explaining this. Jino is a friend of mine, who is a powerhouse in keeping Danes informed about what is happening in Iran, and explaining the background. Jino is a Kurd from Iran who came to Denmark when she was five, and who grew up in the same places as Jina Mahsa Amini. If you understand Danish, I highly recommend following Jino on Twitter and Instagram.

Dansk Regnbueråd is a front for Dansk Folkeparti

A bit of internal Danish politics. As in most of the world, there is a movement towards greater awareness of the diversity of people, genders and gender identities. Like many other places, this is being met by a harsh “anti-woke” pushback, especially targeted towards transgender and non-binary people. In Denmark, this is very much led by the far-right xenophobic and bigoted party Dansk Folkeparti (Danish Peoples’ Parti), perhaps in an attempt to become more relevant in a time, where they are bleeding members (and even members of parliament) to other far-right parties.

Unsurprisingly, a lot of people don’t want to ally themselves with Dansk Folkeparti, even though they are happy to attack “wokism” (a non-existing ideology, which more or less corresponds to being a decent human being) and trans-people.

Luckily, for these people, there is now a new “LGBT” organization, Dansk Regnbueråd (Danish Rainbow Council), which fights on the “anti-woke” side, claiming that there are only two genders etc. It is even being led by a trans-person, Marcus Dib Jensen, who is now the press’ go-to person when looking for a contrary view in the LGBTQ+ community. Interestingly enough, while the press always seems to remember to explain that he has fought for the right-winged voices in the LGBTQ+ community, they tend to leave out that he has a YouTube channel and Instagram account both named “The Offensive Tranny”.

When presenting the organization, Dansk Regnbueråd, the press describes it in a way, which makes it sound like it is center-right, and only has been created in order to allow people on that part of the political spectrum to push back on the left-winged ideology in those circles. What they don’t mention, is the fact that Dansk Regnbueråd isn’t center-right, but rather extremely right-winged, and just another front for Dansk Folkeparti. This is a tactic that is taken pretty much out of the playbook of the right-winged politicians in the US – create a “moderate” organization to help spread your bigotry.

This might seem like a bold claim by me, but it is backed up by simple facts.

In Denmark, nearly all organizations have to register in CVR, which is the central register of companies and organizations in Denmark. This is also the case for Dansk Regnbueråd, whose entry can be found here.

In the following, I have shared screen shots from public websites, and all the information I share, is publicly available.

Data on Dansk Regnbueråd

CVR data on Dansk Regnbueråd

If you look at the data registered about Dansk Regnbueråd, you can see that it is represented by Marcus Dib Jensen, as mentioned above, but that it uses a mail address from a different person ,as the organization’s email address. This email address belongs to Ivan Hemmingsen, who happens to be the head of the Copenhagen chapter of Dansk Folkeparti

Ivan Hemmingsen

Contact information of Ivan Hemmingsen, head of the Copenhagen chapter of Dansk Folkeparti

Don’t mind the weird misspelling in his last name – that is probably a c&p error from his email address.

But Ivan Hemmingsen is not just the head of the Copenhagen chapter of Dansk Folkeparti, he actually works for the parti in its administration.

Administration of Dansk Folkeparti

Information of who works in the administration of Dansk Folkeparti

I have cut the list of people work in the administration of Dansk Folkeparti off just after Ivan’s entry.

When you look at the address of the organization, it is the address of Lars Vestergaard, who just happens to be a candidate in Copenhagen for the parliament for Dansk Folkeparti.

Profile of Lars Vestergaard

Lars Vestergaard, a candidate for the Danish parliament for Dansk Folkeparti

I should point out that when looking at their Instagram accounts, it looks like Ivan Hemmingsen and Lars Vestergaard forms a couple, so it might also be the home address of Ivan Hemmingsen, and thus Lars Vestergaard might not be involved in the organization at all. Still, no matter whether Lars Vestergaard is involved or not, it is clear that Dansk Regnbueråd is heavily connected to Dansk Folkeparti, and that every time someone uses them as a source, they are really using Dansk Folkeparti as a source.