Part of me just wants to ignore this and enjoy the afterglow of protest.

Luckily for me, it was the part of me that is easily ignored.

You know, when I first decided I wanted to write a blog, I thought that I would devote most of my time and effort to atheism and the atheist community.  After all, the blogs that inspired me all dealt with non-belief, chief amongst them PZ Myers’ Pharyngula.  Don’t get me wrong, I was also influenced by Ed Brayton’s Dispatches from the Culture Wars, as any of my readers can tell you, so there was always also going to be a bit of politics and social issue stuff, but I honestly thought the majority of my posts would be about atheism and the atheist movement, with a healthy dose of skepticism thrown in.  I mean, look at my book shelf.

Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Michael Shermer, Benjamin Radford….

And yet, the more I posted, the more I strayed from posting about atheism.  I never stopped posting about fringe religious elements and the Christian conservative control of the GOP, but that was much more due to the social issue ramifications than anything to do with an atheist, or skeptical movement.  And as much as I didn’t want to be just another liberal, progressive political blog, the more I posted, the more that is what I became.

Why?  Look at my book shelf.

Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Michael Shermer, Benjamin Radford….

Why People Believe Weird Things was my baptism in skepticism. The God Delusion my intro into the “New” atheism.  I loved The End of Faith so much that Harris became my second favorite author with a last name beginning with “H.”  And not only did I love Radford’s team up with Joe Nickell for Lake Monster Mysteries, but Monstertalk was my favorite podcast.  Two of my favorite magazines are heavily involved with Radford and Shermer.  From what I could tell, organized skepticism and atheism was entwined with these men.

And yet I found myself drifting away from skepticism and atheism as movements.  Why?

Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Michael Shermer, Benjamin Radford…..

First there was “Elevatorgate” and Dawkins showed his privilege.  Oh, but if only that was the only bit of sexism to make itself known in the community.  For those of you not involved in atheism or skepticism as a community or movement, I will spare you the details.  Those of you involved know exactly what I am talking about.  As time moved on, the list grew longer and longer.  DJ Grothe inserted foot firmly in mouth.  Sam Harris let us all know that he isn’t the sexist pig we’re looking for.  Go ahead and Google Radford and Shermer.  All I’ll say is Karen Stollznow was the best host of MonsterTalk.

PZ has a interesting post up today, it is worth reading the whole thing.

You won’t get your philosophical atheist utopia at all if that utopia considers the dignity of all human beings to be a secondary matter. You will effectively kneecap the whole movement if you don’t care about social justice, and worse, are more afraid of driving out the hateful and intolerant who are already inside our ranks than of embracing the needs of the many millions outside of them.

It’s already happening, though. The disenchantment with the movement is growing.

Libby Anne wonders, Do They Care about Women, or Simply Bashing Religion?.

Frankly, I feel used. These atheist activists are the sort of people who want to use my story as proof that religion is horrible to women but aren’t willing to listen to what I have to say about sexism in our culture at large. They are the sort of people who are eager to use the shooting of young education activist Malala Yousafzai by the Taliban to prove how horrible religion is for women but somehow fail to mention that Malala is a Muslim who speaks of drawing her inspiration to fight for gender equality from the Koran. This is not standing up for women. This is exploiting women as merely a tool in a fight against religion.

I’m done. I’m so, so done.

Katha Pollitt thinks that Atheists Show Their Sexist Side, and are currently having a “sexist tantrum”.

Alas, the ability to take such instruction is in good part something Sam Harris thinks women sadly lack. “There’s something about that critical posture that is to some degree intrinsically male and more attractive to guys than to women,” said the bestselling author of The End of Faith. “The atheist variable just has this—it doesn’t obviously have this nurturing, coherence-building extra estrogen vibe that you would want by default if you wanted to attract as many women as men.” It seems to me, judging from recent events, that atheist men are the fragile flowers here—they, not women, are the ones wilting under criticism. Perhaps they can’t stand it that women are withholding that “extra estrogen vibe” that used to make conferences so much fun. (Amanda Marcotte, of the steel-trap mind, has a fine time slapping Harris around at Pandagon. Remind me never to get into a fight with her.)

Why would women join a movement led by sexists and populated by trolls? If this is atheism, I’m becoming a Catholic.

Tauriq Moosa says the reason he became an active atheist is now why he’s not one.

I won’t be part of a movement resolutely more focused on shielding rich, white dudes than by being inclusive of marginalised, non-male, non-white people. Count me out. Call me back when we give a shit about women and you can admit those of us writing in a small corner of the internet actually care about moral action, not money, for what we do.

The only people who can survive off atheist clickbait are people who write books called The God Delusion. It’s not fucking bloggers.

I will make a prediction, right here and now. The number of people identifying as “nones” will grow in this country in coming years, because we’re on the right side of history, and because organized religion is happily in the process of destroying itself with regressive social attitudes, scandals, and their bizarre focus on other-worldly issues that don’t help people. The number of people identifying as atheists will stagnate or even shrink, because organized atheism is happily in the process of destroying itself with regressive social attitudes, scandals, and their bizarre focus on irrelevant metaphysical differences that don’t help people.

I can’t say that’s a bad thing. The name of atheism has been burdened with unfair and inaccurate stigma for a great many years, and we’re now drifting into an era in which atheism will be burdened with a totally fair and accurate stigma.

Unless we change.

I don’t know that we can.

I’m pissed.

I took part in a nice little bit of atheist activism today.  There were men, women and children in attendance, working together, because atheism isn’t a men’s issue, or a women’s issue, it is a human issue.

I don’t want to be a political blogger.  I want to be part of an atheism/skepticism movement, a community that I can be proud of.

I’m so sick of watching my heroes prove themselves pigs.

(And yes, I am going to do something besides bitch about it.)

Now go enjoy your weekend.  I’ll be back on Monday.

Advertisements

Today’s “Wait, What?!?,” Brought to You by Cognitive Dissonance

Thanks to Tom and Cecil from the Cognitive Dissonance podcast for catching this story from the HuffPo for our amusement/terror:

The debate about global warming is over. A Texas pastor has come up with a watertight theory that will shame the swathe of scientists that have concluded, through precise calculations and years of theoretical modelling, that the rise in the earth’s average temperature is a result of increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases.

Rather than man-made carbon emissions, global warming is in fact due to… the imminent return of Jesus. How did the scientists miss it? Speaking to his flock in a recent TV broadcast, Matthew Hagee explains that when scientists contradict the world of God, “God’s word is accurate and men are wrong”.

Well, of course.  Why didn’t I think of that?  And I’ve even read the Bible multiple times, you’d think I would have caught the part about climate change and how we shouldn’t worry about it.  Let’s see what proof Matthew Hagee found in the greatest text in the world.

As the pastor explains: “The Bible says that whenever we approach the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ that there would be strange weather patterns. Jesus said this in Matthew the twenty-fifth chapter.

“So we have a decision to make: do we believe what an environmentalist group says and choose to live in a world where we’re attempting to make everything as clean in the air as possible, or do we believe what the Bible says, that these things were going to happen and that rather than try to clean up all of the air and solve all of the problems of the world by eliminating factories, we should start to tell people about Jesus Christ who is to return?”

*facepalm*  Matthew 25?  How stupid am I not to have noticed that?  I mean, I was thinking that he found the proof hidden deep in one of the less flashy books in the Bible, something like Titus, Chapter 3 or Ecclesiastes, Chapter 11, Verses 2-6, but right there in one of the Gospels?  I mean, fuck!  There are only 4 of them, and everyone who reads the Bible has read them.  Hell, even most people who say they have read the Bible when what they really mean is they believe in the Bible and are Christian so they are going to tell pollsters that they have read the Bible have read at least one of the Gospels.  I see it now, it is all so clear to me…….

Wait a second.  Matthew 25?  *sound of pages flipping*

Okay kids, all together now:

Wait, What?!?

Matthew 25 is long enough that I am not going to quote it here.  It consists of the Parable of the Ten Virgins, the Parable of the Silver Pieces, and The Last Judgement.  (Or NIV version, The Parable of the Ten Virgins,  The Parable of the Bags of Gold, and Sheep and Goats.)  In fact, here is the NIV version, in case you do not have your Bible ready at hand.

I am well and truly sorry, but I am going to have to call “shenanigans” on Pastor Matthew Hagee.  If I were forced to bet on the matter, my money would be on the good Pastor figuring he could tell believers whatever the fuck he wanted to and claim that Jesus said it as well, because he knew that not one of the believers he was talking to would check to see if he was actually full of shit.  Of course, that is if I was a betting man.  Pastor M. Hagee could have meant to cite a different chapter, or he could actually believe he sees Jesus saying what he claims he says, through his personal way of reading between the lines.  But I doubt it.

Think about it.  Sure, we know that Matthew 25 does not say what he claims it says.  But he isn’t talking to us.  He isn’t going to change some progressives mind on climate change by quoting the Bible anymore than we are going to change some conservatives mind by showing them peer reviewed studies.  This is just one more roadblock in the way of meaningfully dealing with climate change.  Now there is a group of people who believe Jesus predicted it in Matthew 25 and it is therefor a good thing.  In addition to the other groups with their own mind-numbingly dumb objections to science and reality.  If you made it through this winter without hearing the words, “God, it is cold and there is so much snow.  I bet those people who believed in global warming feel stupid now.” then you are a luckier person than me.

The Abortion Rate Falls Again, No Thanks to the Anti-Choice Movement

In what is good news for all, excepting those who make up the so-called “pro-life” movement, the nations abortion rate dropped significantly between 2008 and 2013, according to a new report the Guttmacher Institute released.  Let’s turn to our favorite advocate for women’s rights to health care, Amanda Marcotte over at RH Reality Check for the details:

Last Monday, the Guttmacher Institute released a new report showing the abortion rate dropped 13 percent between 2008 and 2011. This news was no big surprise to pro-choice activists and journalists, who have long argued that increasing social acceptance of contraception and generally relaxed attitudes about sex generally make it easier to prevent unintended pregnancy. But anti-choicers are unhappy about the abortion rate drop. (Which is again no surprise to pro-choicers, who know antis depend on the sense of a world in decline to fundraise, but may surprise most people who mistakenly believe anti-choicers care about fetal life.) In particular, they don’t like the researcher’s inference that better contraception use is the likely cause, because, say it with me now, the anti-choice movement is about punishing sex, not saving life. So the strategy is to deny that contraception has anything to do with it and instead take credit for shaming women out of abortion.

“Punishing sex, not saving life…”  Where have I heard that before?  No matter.

Charmaine Yoest of Americans United for Life, in particular, was all over the news media, trying to get credit for it, grumpily claiming that the Guttmacher report “fails to acknowledge the impact of pro-life legislation.” (She also insinuated elsewhere that abortion providers are just straight up lying and performing more abortions than they say.) Since the numbers can’t be attributable to the massive uptick in abortion restrictions—most of these went into effect after the end of the study period—the narrative has emerged that the increased lobbying by anti-choicers somehow alerted women previously unaware that some people disapprove of abortion to instead carry otherwise unwanted pregnancies to term. Catholic News Agency gathered a bunch of anti-choicers together to take credit for changing the “culture.” They quote Michael New attributing the shift to “changes in public opinion” on abortion. SBA List’s Marjorie Dannenfelser also tried to credit the rise in lobbying on the issue with, “our nation is indeed growing weary of the destruction wrought by legalized abortion on demand.”

Oh, fucking please.

Bluntly put, this is all just hand-waving nonsense. Public opinion on abortion has remained relatively stable since it was first legalized and the small bits of up-and-down movement don’t really correlate with actual abortion rates. More importantly, the argument only works if you ignore the fact that not having an abortion means you will have a baby. It’s not uncommon for anti-choicers to gloss over this fact, as bizarre as this is, but this case is particularly egregious. This is simple enough for a kindergartner to figure out: If the abortion rate was falling because women were choosing to have babies instead, the birth rate would go up right as the abortion rate went down. But the writer Adelaide Mena admits in the piece that the birth rate is going down too. What do they think is happening here? Women who want abortions but refuse them are thanked by God by making their pregnancies go away? Do they think we’re undergoing a sudden downturn in fertility? It’s kind of hard to parse, since they outright refuse to accept that contraceptive use is as universal as it really is.  Honestly, I think they just hope gullible readers overlook the discrepancy.

But no amount of hand-waving can fix this for the anti-choice movement. There is no real evidence that stigmatizing and shaming abortion stops women from having abortions. The most that it does is makes them feel really bad about it—which I have to imagine is a consolation prize for antis—and to drive it underground. Shame doesn’t stop women from having abortions, however. Women have abortions for financial and personal reasons, and these reasons are usually profound enough to overwhelm any pre-existing distaste for abortion pounded into your head by religious authorities and misogynist political movements. Abortion is a deeply personal decision. What politicians think about it, therefore, just doesn’t even register for most women who are faced with it.

Women do not decide not to have an abortion because you think abortion is a sin.  Sorry, they just don’t.

I would love to just continue quoting the whole article, but then you would have no reason to click over to RH Reality Check, give them some traffic, and perhaps seeing a few more articles you are interested.  Amanda’s closing however, I have to end with as well, although the bolding is mine:

The whole premise of the anti-choice movement is that getting pregnant should be the price you pay for having sex. It’s an entire ideological movement that mourns, as conservative New York Times columnist Ross Douthat grossly puts it, a society where “sex has been decoupled from marriage.” The abortion debate is really a stand-in for the unintended pregnancy debate. Anti-choicers see unintended pregnancy largely as a social good that forces some people to get married and punishes other people for the “sin” of having unsanctioned sex. It’s a form of social control, and conservatives love themselves some social control. Pro-choicers, on the other hand, view it through a human rights lens. We think women should be in control of pregnancy, not that pregnancy should be used to control women. Once you understand that, how it can be that anti-abortion people are discombobulated by a lower abortion rate and pro-choice people are excited about it makes perfect sense.

And the River Card is……The Page of Cups????

It seems that Noah Lugeons from The Scathing Atheist podcast and I have yet another thing in common.   For this weeks episode of the Cognitive Dissonance podcast, Noah joined Tom and Cecil to provide the hosts with a Tarot card reading.  Yes, it seems that a long time ago, in a galaxy that just possibly could be ours, Noah’s trip into the world of woo included Tarot.  Oh, look at that.  I just cheaply plugged two of my favorite podcasts at the same time.  Imagine that.

For those of you who do not know,  after my grandmothers death and my mother’s battle with cancer, my mother transformed from a lapsed Catholic into a determined-that-I-would-get-confirmed-practicing Catholic.  I was somewhere between 11 and 13 when all of this occurred.  Now while my family celebrated Christmas and Easter before this time, and would watch The Greatest Story Ever Told and The Ten Commandments on tv every year, I thankfully missed out on the indoctrination part of childhood.  Add this to the fact that my one sister had just gotten married, and converted to Judaism in the process, which I believe caused me to see religious belief as fluid rather than an unchanging, cradle to grave, all encompassing belief system.  (I find it endlessly amusing that this sister, who thought nothing of saying “Yeah, ya know that Jesus guy?  Definitely not God.  Nope, I’m not Catholic anymore, not me.” in order to get married later became hands down the most religious member of my family, which is really saying something if you knew my mother.)

Continue reading

Will Someone Please Ask Abigail Breslin Where She Parks Her Unicorn, and If Fairies Really Have Wings?

Yeah, I’m being mean to a seventeen year old.  I am horrible.

But when I was seventeen I believed in shit like this as well, and wish that people would have told me I was being an idiot, rather than smiling and nodding their heads while I explained that I was a witch who was going ghost hunting.

From…ugh.  Fox News:

“We did have two weird things happen when we were doing the scene with the Ouija board, it didn’t move on its own, but when we shot this scene in the attic, I got this weird asthma attack, which was so random. I don’t have asthma, so it was so random,” Breslin told FOX411. “Another time, I wrapped for the day and went back to the place I was staying and went to run on the treadmill at the gym and the door was wide open and had a stopper on it, yet it randomly slammed shut and then my workout for the day was done. I was terrified.”

OMG, OMG, OMG!  Are you fucking kidding me?  A door slammed under “mysterious” circumstances?  Fascinating!  And while shooting a scene in a tight, enclosed space that was probably crowded with production team members and more than likely overheated (and just to stop it here, I don’t care if it was overheated or not, that was just one of a million possible factors that could have caused a 17 year old with a heavy work schedule to have a “asthma” attack), you had a breathing related incident like an asthma attack?  Un-fucking-believable!

Strange.  You know, I wonder why she thinks these incidents are “weird.”

It turns out elements of the supernatural have long intrigued the young star, even before stepping into the thriller genre.

“(I’m fascinated) with ghosts and other worldly, paranormal things. I have always wanted to see a ghost or go on one of those Syfy channel shows talking about it,” she said. “I want to meet the Long Island Medium to see if she can see if anyone follows me. I want to know if anyone is trying to contact me. I would be sad if I went to her and she told me no one was contacting me.”

Huh.  She was already interested in the supernatural.  Never would have guessed that.  Don’t worry, Abigail.  I am willing to guarantee that the Long Island con artist Medium would say someone is trying to contact you.  Probably a whole lot of someones.  As many someones as you want.

Anyone want to start a pool on how long it takes the Long Island Faker Medium to see ratings gold and reach out to Abigail about appearing on Long Island Grifter Medium?

My guess is the second the Long Island Cold Reader Medium heard about this interview.

Something You Should Listen To, and A Personal Update…

Over on the RH Reality Check podcast this week, host Amanda Marcotte interviews Stephanie Zvan of the Almost Diamonds blog (which is far from her only claim to fame in the atheist/skeptical community) about the continuing problem the atheist/skeptical community has with sexual harassment, harassment in general, and internet tough guying directed towards any woman who has the nerve to object to being seen as first and foremost a potential sex partner when attending skeptical events, blogging, or even just commenting on message boards.

Continue reading

Fun Facts About Bradlee Dean

On this weekend’s edition of Sons of Liberty Radio, host Bradlee Dean, the drummer of the Christian metal band Junkyard Prophet who once attempted to sue Rachael Maddow for quoting him, revealed some very interesting statistics.  Dean, who performs school assemblies, public schools included, designed to spread bigotry in the name of Jesus, first claimed that abortion and homosexuality are the “last two stages a country takes” before God decides to fuck all that forgiveness crap and pass judgement upon a nation.  Then his fellow host Jake McMillan reached deep into his friends rectum and pulled out the following facts:

“half of the murders in large cities were committed by homosexuals; thirty-three percent of child abuse cases were committed by homosexuals; half of the foster children molestations were done by homosexuals.”

McMillan went on to explain why homosexuals are so evil:

McMillan explained, to Dean’s agreement, that gays are prone to criminality because “when a person’s mind has gone to that extent of committing an abominable act, it shows what else they are capable of.”

Dean jumped in to explain how the evil gay mafia gets away with it all:

But of course gay rights are gaining ground, Dean claimed, since “they got their homo in office,” and have “infiltrated” the White House.

You can listen to all of these words come from the bigots mouths over at Right Wing Watch, if you are so inclined.

Can we pause a second to think about this?  Half of the murders in large cities.  Half.  Citation.  Fucking.  Needed.  Out of all the made up statistics I have ever seen (by the way, 72% of all statistics quoted on the internet are made up by the person quoting them, current statistic included,) this one takes the bukkake.  How gullible or bigoted does one have to be to read that and not immediately call bullshit?  How much of an insult to his audience is it that Bradlee thinks they will buy this stat?  How sad is it that a majority of his listeners probably are thinking that all homosexuals do is suck cock, fuck ass, and kill people?

Since Bradlee and his co-host opened the door wide open with those “statistics” and the claim that President Obama is a homosexual, I feel it is only right to show Mr. Dean that I can make stuff up as well.  So for all your right wing trivia needs, here is:

Fun Facts About Bradlee Dean!

  • To those he is close to, Bradlee’s nickname is “cumdumpster.”  And according to fellow members of Junkyard Prophet, he earned the nickname.
  • While Bradlee is the butch in his relationship with his co-host Jake, behind closed doors Bradlee is 100% a catcher.
  • Bradlee keeps his hair long not because he is in a metal band, but because Jake likes something to hold on to when he is pitching.
  • Bradlee’s most cherished fantasy is to be taken by an African American in a position of power; when he claims Obama is a homosexual, he is masturbating.

All of that is exactly as true as homosexuals committing half of all murders in large cities.  Well, with one difference.  There is a slight chance that one of the claims I made could actually be true.  We all know how repressed homosexual desire can present as homophobia.  It is quite possible that Bradlee Dean could lust after cock.  And though very doubtful, it could be true that he actively gobbles the cock night and day, and publicly spews forth his homophobic hatred out of a sense of shame.  The only thing completely impossible is that homosexuals commit half of all murders in large cities, 33% of all child sexual abuse, and half of all foster child molestations.  Compared to that list, my list is practically accurate.