David Silverman is failing Redemption 101

When last we heard from David Silverman, he was involved in some new enterprise called Transformative Humanists of America. Tragically, that seems to have vanished off the internet. Whoops.

Now he’s started something new, a website for himself called Firebrand for Good. Good for him. He should be scrambling for redemption after the disgrace that led to his ouster from American Atheists, and that’s the right thing to do.

Unfortunately, the path he’s taking is to simply deny the accusations, and blame it all on a conspiracy of liars. That’s not the right thing to do.

Stephanie Zvan goes through all the details he gets wrong and misrepresents, and doesn’t let him weasel away from the wrong he did. He also makes another point I want to address — he argues that he did a lot of good in his prior position. That’s true!

Do you remember the strict codes of conduct, the gender neutral bathrooms? the ERA speech on the capitol lawn? the first atheist contingent at a choice march? Those were good ideas. I’ve been a feminist for 30 years and I did a lot for us.

I became a lifetime member of American Atheist when I saw what Silverman was doing, because I thought it signaled a good direction for the organization to be taking, so I supported it with my dollars. Really, I think that’s what we have to do, positively reinforce good approaches, and … negatively reinforce bad ones. When Dave was found to be on the shady side on a number of issues, I retracted my support for him personally.

He is not winning me back with this strategy of denying the problems. That just tells me he isn’t going to change.

I also support my local humane society. If I learn one of the staff people likes to kick puppies in the privacy of their homes, I’m still going to support the goals of the society, but I’m also going to expect that that individual will no longer be working there. It would be wonderful if they could work their way back into our trust, but it would take something other than crossing their heart and swearing that no sir, they never did kick no puppies, they sure did love them puppies, can they please come back and work in the puppy room? Because we know they kicked those puppies before. Trying to bury the truth instead of confronting their own ugliness is not going to persuade me that they’ve changed. Quite the contrary.

So sorry, Dave. Your new direction is diametrically opposite the one I’d support. There is no ratchet, and those things you’ve done that I do support aren’t permanent advancements. You can slip back out of grace, and you’ve done so.

Potato-nosed old man with no lips and a spray-on tan fears he’ll never get laid again if rape and incest are criminalized

He doesn’t stop to consider the virtues of treating women like people — the only way humanity could have survived is via rape and incest.

Speaking before a conservative group in the Des Moines suburb of Urbandale, the Iowa congressman reviewed legislation he has sought that would outlaw abortions without exceptions for rape and incest. King justified the lack of exceptions by questioning how many people would be alive if not for those conceived through rapes and incest.

“What if we went back through all the family trees and just pulled those people out that were products of rape and incest? Would there be any population of the world left if we did that?” King asked, according to video of the event, which was covered by the Des Moines Register. “Considering all the wars and all the rape and pillage that’s taken place … I know I can’t certify that I’m not a part of a product of that.”

Speaking as a fellow homely old white dude, let me just say … being a professional bigoted asshole would be a bigger obstacle than prohibiting rape, and it hasn’t stopped King from reproducing.

13 days

One of my students had to mention that we only have 13 days until classes start again.

I am not ready.

Next week, I have to get my syllabi ready and figure out this brand new courseware they’re forcing us to switch to, at the same time when my granddaughter Iliana is visiting. This is going to be impossible. Unless Ily is ready to help? She’s what, 10 months old?

Yeah, she’s ready. Looks eager, even. I’m sure she can hammer out a syllabus in no time.

Probably true, might be an underestimate

I’m still crunching numbers (heck, I’m still entering numbers and trying to sort out the analysis) of our summer spider survey, but this is actually a pretty low estimate of the numbers we’ve seen in garages.

<NdGT>But this doesn’t take into account the degree of variation, and that numbers in a clean home with few bugs will be significantly lower.</NdGT>

Jesus is the excuse that never fails

Over the last few days, I watched The Family on Netflix, a five part series on this shadow cabal of fanatical Christians bent on shaping the American government. It’s horrifying. But then, I read the book, also horrifying.

It’s a kind of understated horror, though — it’s not sensationalist at all, and that might be a flaw in the documentary. These people march through the halls of power, and all they do is say Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. They say nice things about the power of Christ, but they don’t push the Bible or fundamentalism, but only constantly invoke the name of Jesus to authorize their use of power…for anything. There are these interviews and recordings of smug, confident people asserting with unshakeable certainty that Jesus wants them to do the things that they do, and the evidence that they are exercising Jesus’ will is that they have power. Power itself is proof that God wants them to use that power.

There are little hiccups in their philosophy, like John Ensign, the former Senator who thought his title meant he could cheat on his wife and use his position for a coverup, or Mark Sanford, the South Carolina governor who made “hiking the Appalachian trail” a synonym for having an affair. It’s funny how the personal peccadillos get them in trouble, but they apply the same attitude to everything, including acts of corruption and sedition. The laws don’t apply to them, because Jesus.

It’s a documentary that is also rather frustrating as an atheist, because it never engages with the lie at the heart of the Family. They don’t know Jesus. Jesus is not talking to them. Jesus is dead, and the godly prophet they imagine is a fiction. In a few places it tries to rebut the Holy Certainty of the Family by arguing that Jesus wasn’t that bad guy, that he also wanted to help the poor, for instance, but that kindly Jesus is also only in your imagination and is also another example of Holy Certainty.

You can use Jesus to argue for whatever you want, he’s never going to speak up and tell you you’re wrong. The only way to win that debate is to never engage in it — every time Jesus is your backup, it’s just your id and predispositions speaking, and don’t allow them to pretend otherwise.

The Jesus thing is also never ending. I hope our next president is someone who can say “no” to the National Prayer Breakfast, a creation of the Family, but I doubt that even the candidates I like will be willing to do that.

Start your morning with a hair-raising close call

This is a drone video shot in the UP of a lovely lake scene, some kayakers, and…HOLY CRAP THE CLIFF JUST COLLAPSED.

So…don’t go kayaking near the base of a cliff, it might fall on you. Don’t go hiking along the edge of a cliff, it might fall under you. Don’t go near cliffs, period, they’re evil. The midwest gets mocked a lot for being boring, but at least it’s mostly flat.