Horsemen of the Atheist Douchepocalypse.

Tony:

Iris shares her unique thoughts on the so-called “leaders” of the Atheist movement. Very much worth the read.

Originally posted on perry street palace:

Listen. All human beings have huge blind spots: in the neurological/cognitive sense, the pernicious cluelessness inherent in the very nature of privilege, and cavernous gaps in our knowledge and experiences—all of which by definition cannot figure into our judgements. As it turns out, it is only to the extent that we acknowledge these truths about ourselves that we stand any chance of becoming more enlightened about the realities of the world, and, perhaps, better human beings. In this regard, certain Horsemen have been a bit of a disappointment—to put it mildly.

Richard Dawkins.

I have read every book The Dawk has ever written (although I admit I got lost about halfway through The Extended Phenotype). He was hardly the only author I read during my torrid affair with evolutionary biology: Carl Zimmer, Jerry Coyne and Neil Shubin come to mind, and there were others. But I have to say…

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Disown Dawkins? Sounds good to me!

Via Vice, an article by Allegra Ringo which offers some advice to the Atheist Movement:

A woman was alleging that a man raped her when she was too drunk to give consent, and Dawkins’s immediate response was the mainstay of all conservatives: What if she’s lying? Plenty of Dawkins’s Twitter followers agreed with him. It’s her word against his, they cried. Rape accusations are serious business, they cried.

Yes, rape accusations are serious business. Actually, accusing anyone of a crime, especially a violent crime, is serious business. That’s why we have court systems in place that determine, to the best of their abilities, whether a given accusation is most likely true or false. We have this for virtually every crime. So why are Dawkins and his ilk so preoccupied about false accusations of rape in a world full of false accusations?

The “accuser-might-be-lying” theory inevitably pops up around every rape case. But false accusations of rape occur in only about 2 to 3 percent of cases. That’s roughly the same rate as false accusations of other violent crimes, according to the US Justice Department. Studies in the UK have yielded similar results, but the myth of the always-lying rape accuser persists.

Keir Starmer, England’s Director of Public Prosecutions, stated that rape investigations are “undermined by [the] belief that false accusations are rife.” Dawkins obviously fancies himself the king of reason, yet he buys wholesale into this frat-boy mentality. It’s reasonable to assume an accused person is innocent until proven guilty, but Dawkins is cherry-picking rape cases as the only focus of his doubt.

In a world where women are raped in huge numbers, all the fucking time, and where the rate of false rape accusations are comparatively low, it makes far more sense to believe the victims of rape.  If and when a would-be rapist makes it to trial (and we know that doesn’t happen very often), if they are judged not guilty based on the evidence presented, then people can readjust their opinions. But far too many people inflate the rate of false rape accusations. Dawkins is among those people (he, and other Rape Culture deniers ought to read this article).

Dawkins appears to have adopted the sexism and other forms of narrow-mindeness he purports to hate in religion (plus bonus defenses of pedophilia), proving his own mantras wrong with every new opinion he posts. Read Dawkins’s Twitter at any time for tweets about “objective reality” interspersed with paranoid tweets about Islam, and of course his regularly scheduled uninformed opinions on rape culture. Although he is gradually losing sympathizers, the so-called “new atheist” movement still holds him in too heroic a light. In his time, Dawkins didgroundbreaking work in the field of biology, but his relevance—especially in social matters—is fading quickly. If the new atheist movement wants to move beyond outdated idols preaching old-fashioned discrimination, they need to disown Dawkins—or, at the very least, subtract themselves from his more than 1 million Twitter followers.

Disowning Dawkins is not a problem for me. He had no role in my decision to become an atheist (nor did any of the Four Horsemen; I came into atheism because I took college courses on philosophy and logic in the 90s).  Hell, the only book I’ve read by any of the big name atheists was Dawkins’ The God Delusion and I just finished reading that last month.  I know that many people appreciate Dawkins’ candid words on religion. I think it is nice to see a public figure speak bluntly, without respect for religion.  We need more people like that. Religion is not the force for good in the world that many think it is, and far too many people accord religion and religious beliefs undeserved respect.

That said, Dawkins’ comments about Muslims, his ongoing sexist comments, his dismissal of the severity of child abuse compared to religious indoctrination, and his spreading of Rape Culture myths have resulted in my losing any respect I had for him.  This is compounded by the fact that he’s listening only to his supporters, many of whom are anti-feminists, so-called skeptics (more accurately hyper- or pseudo- skeptics, who demand absurd levels of evidence for ubiquitous crimes like rape; as if rape accusations require the same level of evidence they demand of godbotters), or Islamophobic bigots (like his buddy Sam Harris).  He’s paying little attention to the criticisms of others.  He’s locked himself in his ivory tower and refused to listen to the “little people”.  He refuses to acknowledge his privilege and address his biases and prejudices in an honest way. Hell, with regard to the bigotry he’s displayed, he doesn’t seem to even accept that he *has* biases and prejudices.

I’m not on Twitter.  I don’t read his blog.  Nor will I. I want nothing to do with Dawkins because of his horrible behavior (which I will still call out as I find out about it, bc it is harmful).  For this atheist, Dawkins has been disowned.  Would that more people would do so.

Pop Culture Tidbits 9.16.14

Loki’s going to be in King Kong!

Legendary Pictures shocked the Comic-Con crowd with a teaser for the King Kong origin film Skull Island. They’ve set Jordan Vogt-Roberts to helm, and Loki himself, Tom Hiddleston, to star in the Max Borenstein-scripted pic. Previous works have touched on the island, but staying on and exploring this mysterious and dangerous place offers Legendary the opportunity to take audiences deeper inside this rich world, which was the most electrifying parts of Peter Jackson’s King Kong done for Universal several years ago. Universal Pictures will release on November 4, 2016.

Wouldn’t it be cool if they shot the movie in stop motion animation as a tribute to the 1933 movie? Even if you say otherwise, it *would* be cool, bc stop motion animation is vewwy, vewwy cool

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 In a first for DC Comics:

DC Comics Debuts First Ever Female Creators Panel at NYCC

Get an inside look at some of the amazing work from DCE’s female creatives at the “Women Of DC Entertainment” panel which will include JOKER’S DAUGHTER writer Marguerite Bennett, new series GOTHAM ACADEMY writer Becky Cloonan, HARLEY QUINN writer/artist Amanda Conner, WONDER WOMAN writer Meredith Finch, COFFIN HILL writer Caitlin Kittredge, SECRET SIX writer Gail Simone, and new BATGIRL artist Babs Tarr. Saturday 6:15pm Room Room 1A06

Your turn Marvel!

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Portuguese artist  Bordallo II makes use of trash he finds in the streets of Lisbon to make awesome art:

(more images at the link)

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Santa Monica wants to know if it’s happy

This may feel like an Onion article, but trust us—it’s real. The city applied for the Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge grant last year, a program that encourages cities to generate ideas to improve city life. Santa Monica was one of five cities in the nation to win the research money. They beat out 300 other cities and snagged a whopping $1 million.

While other winners like Houston, Texas plan on studying recycling and Providence, Rhode Island on predicting academic outcomes of the youth, Santa Monica will be studying the well-being of its city folks.

You might be asking why Santa Monicans aren’t sure whether they’re happy or not. The AP reported that the real estate blog Movoto recently ranked Santa Monica second place in its top 10 list of America’s Most Stressed-Out Suburbs. Insufferable traffic and the high cost of living were the factors that carried Santa Monica into its ranking. According to Movato’s study, locals spend 39 percent of their income on rent and the city has the ninth highest population density. There are 92,000 people who live in Santa Monica.

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Christopher J. Rivera wows with worlds of fantasy captured with photography

 

Police Brutality is real and widespread

Baltimore cop repeatedly punches suspect in face:

(excerpt)

“Much like the public, I’m shocked, I’m outraged, I’m disgusted by what I saw by an employee of the Baltimore City Police Department,” Commissioner Anthony Batts said during a press conference regarding the video showing Officer Vincent Cosom striking 32-year-old Kollin Truss in the face repeatedly.

The footage shows Truss and Cosom getting into an argument after Cosom allegedly told Truss to stop loitering outside a liquor store. At one point, Truss reportedly went into the store and told Cosom, “F*ck you, I will see you when I get outside.”

The footage shows Truss’ girlfriend, Stephanie Coleman, getting between the two men when Truss leaves the store, and leading him away from the scene when Cosom appears and begins punching Truss. Cosom is seen continuing to hit Truss even after another officer tries to pull Truss away. Truss was arrested and charged at the time with assaulting Cosom, but the charges were dropped after three days and he was released from jail.

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17 year old Bryce Masters in a medically induced coma following injuries sustained after a struggle with police in Independence, MO (despite what you may think, MO is not unique):

Family and friends are questioning the use of force by Independence police after a struggle with an officer sent a 17-year-old to the hospital.

The officer used a stun gun on the teenager who is now in critical condition.

Friends say Bryce Masters is in a medically induced coma because of injuries to his brain. They are hoping the teenager pulls through.

They are cooling his body to try and reduce swelling that may have been caused by hitting his head on the concrete or losing oxygen for a long period of time.

Curtis Martes stepped outside to welcome Masters to his house in the 200 block of Southside Boulevard about 3:30 p.m. Sunday, only to find that a police officer had pulled his friend over.

“The cop went up to the passenger window and was like, ‘hey, roll down the window,'” Martes said.

However, Martes says Masters couldn’t roll it down.

“He doesn’t have the cable that allows the electric window to work,” Martes said.

But Independence police said Masters had an outstanding traffic violation and refused to cooperate with the officer.

“I believe he did crack the window but did not roll it down any further. He was just being completely uncooperative with the officer,” Sgt. Darrell Schmidli said.

That’s when things got rough.

Police say the officer did what he had to do to protect himself because the teen began to struggle with the officer.

“The driver refused to exit the vehicle. A struggle ensued, a Taser was deployed by the officer. The driver was finally removed out of the car. A struggle ensued once he was moved out of the car,” Sgt. Darrell Schmidli said.

However, witnesses describe a different scene.

“The cop was like, ‘you want to mess with me,’ and pulled out his Taser and tased him. I thought he shot him. Then he pulled him out of the car handcuffed him and drug him around the car,” witness Michelle Baker said.

Schmidli said Masters was warned the officers were going to use a stun gun and still refused to cooperate.

“It looked like he hit his head on the concrete. You could see blood coming out of his mouth. The cop put his foot on his back and moved it back and forth like he was putting a cigarette out and asked him, ‘are you ready to get up now?’ You could tell the kid was going into convulsions,” Baker said.

Witnesses who saw the whole thing happen say they watched Masters die and then come back to life after emergency crews resuscitated him.

Abigail Edwards, a co-worker of Masters, says witnesses and friends want an investigation into how the incident was handled.

“It doesn’t make sense. He didn’t deserve it. I know he didn’t do anything to deserve it because his father is a cop. He knows better than to do stuff like that,” Edwards said.

The story doesn’t end there.  Masters’ father is a police officer with the Kansas City Police Department. The family’s attorney has released this statement:

“The family of Bryce Masters would like to thank everyone for their outpouring of concern and support.

“Because of significant inconsistencies between public statements made by the Independence Police Department and information made available to the family in the form of statements of eyewitnesses and video and audio footage of the occurrence, the family has asked the United States Department of Justice to conduct its own investigation into these tragic events.

“Because Bryce is still in critical condition, the Masters family asks that their privacy be respected in allowing them to focus on Bryce’s needs and his recovery.”

The story isn’t over yet.  The FBI is launching an excessive force probe on the Independence Police Department.

The story has taken on another twist (bolding mine):

An officer had pulled over Masters because there was an outstanding Kansas City Police Department warrant associated with the vehicle. This occurred just after 3 p.m. Sunday in the area of East Southside Boulevard and Main Street.

The warrant was for a woman.

In the Daily Kos article, WFBMM makes a very strong point:

I hate to have to say this, but I feel I must. I have yet to see any attempts at character assassination on this young man. I mean, isn’t that what the talking heads usually do when a teen is either injured or killed by a cop—or a vigilante?

Where are the thug pictures? Where are the hoodie pictures? Where are the stories of behavior issues and problems with authority? Where are the alcohol/marijuana reports from “friends” and acquaintances? Teens are teens. Black, white, brown…whatever. No racial group has a monopoly on these things, so why hasn’t the media dug into this kid’s life as meticulously as they did all the other victims?

Those are some damn excellent questions.

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In an ongoing series, Gawker documents stories of harassment by the NYPD:

Amid the police terror that has swept the nation these last few months, there has been a missing facet from the conversation: the fact that women are brutalized by cops just as severely as men. For every John Crawford and Jahmil-El Cuffee there is an Ersula Ore or a Marlene Pinnock (you can view the footage of Pinnock’s beating by a California Highway Patrol officer here).

The assault on the bodies of Ore and Pinnock, and similarly on women like Stephanie Maldonado, Rosan Miller, and Denise Stewart here in New York City, underlines a truth we can no longer ignore: woman are all too often the targets of police brutality. An organized push for justice in the wake of police violence might start with the story of a Michael Brown or an Eric Garner, but the stories and faces of victimized women—as well as gay, lesbian, and trans people, and the poor and elderly—must too be included as we call for police reform.

As part of an ongoing series, Gawker is publishing stories from New Yorkers who have been victims of, or witnesses to, police harassment and brutality by the NYPD. Police brutality, which we believe should be treated as a national crisis, is not limited to the streets of New York or Los Angeles. But examining the actions of the country’s largest and most famous police force, and giving a voice to the victims of its violence, is a start.

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The NFL gets a stern talking to

Anheuser-Busch gave the NFL a stern talking to:

Anheuser-Busch — the top spender in the past five Super Bowls — today issued a statement about that NFL sponsorship as reports of domestic abuse charges against league players keep piling up:

“We are disappointed and increasingly concerned by the recent incidents that have overshadowed this NFL season,” A-B said. “We are not yet satisfied with the league’s handling of behaviors that so clearly go against our own company culture and moral code. We have shared our concerns and expectations with the league.

That’s a whole lot of, well, nothing.  “Bad NFL”-that’s what it amounts to.  If they wanted to actually show that they’re serious about the way the NFL is handling the behaviors of their players-threaten them with no longer sponsoring the NFL.  Barring that, they could give money-a lot of it-to a charity in the name of ending domestic violence.

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Domestic violence is a serious matter.   It directly affects the victims-women, children, and men on emotional, psychological, physical, financial, and spiritual levels.  It affects the wider culture bc the victims and the perpetrators are connected to the rest of us.  If you or someone you know has been the victim of domestic violence, The National Domestic Violence Hotline may be able to help.

For over 17 years, the National Domestic Violence Hotline has been the vital link to safety for women, men, children and families affected by domestic violence. With the help of our dedicated advocates and staff, we respond to calls 24/7, 365 days a year.

We provide confidential, one-on-one support to each caller and chatter, offering crisis intervention, options for next steps and direct connection to sources for immediate safety. Our database holds over 5,000 agencies and resources in communities all across the country. Bilingual advocates are on hand to speak with callers, and our Language Line offers translations in 170 different languages.

The hotline is an excellent source of help for concerned friends, family, co-workers and others seeking information and guidance on how to help someone they know. We work to educate communities all over through events, campaigns, and dynamic partnerships with companies ranging from The Avon Foundation to Verizon. Today, the hotline is continuing to grow and explore new avenues of service.

You can reach the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

They also have a live chat available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Whether you call or chat, they work to ensure your safety is of utmost importance.  All calls and chats are completely confidential.

 

 

Why does a school district need military equipment?

Police departments across the United States are not the only ones that have been receiving military equipment.  The Los Angeles Unified School District has some as well.  Yeah, you read that right: a school district has military equipment.::Shake my head::

Los Angeles Unified School District police officials are considering whether they need the armored vehicle and grenade launchers they received from the U.S. military.

The military hardware at the disposal of LAUSD police officers includes a 20-foot-long, 14-ton armored transport vehicles, much like the ones used to move Marines in Iraq combat zones. The armored vehicle is worth $733,000, and the school district’s police force got it from the government for free.

They’re “considering” the need for armored vehicles or grenade launchers. I can’t believe I even typed that sentence.  They should have considered whether they needed them BEFORE they got them. No, I don’t care that the armored vehicle was free to the school district.  Before a school district acquires military equipment, they ought to provide a valid justification for having it. “Just in case an extraordinary circumstance occurs” is insufficient reason. What, did they think World War 3 was going to break out in a school lunchroom?  If you cannot provide a well reasoned justification based on evidence for why your school district needs military grade equipment, you don’t need it.

How would LAUSD use such a vehicle?

“For us? That vehicle would be used for extraordinary circumstances,” LAUSD police Chief Steve Zipperman said.

Sure enough, they have it “just in case”.  Again, this isn’t a warzone we’re talking about people.

“It’s something that we believe is a life-saving vehicle,” Zipperman said. “And certainly we realize we need to take a look, is this the best alternative right now for us until we find something else that is more conducive to a police-type of rescue.”

This is stupid.  Yes, the vehicle is life saving-in the appropriate context.  In what context would it be appropriate to use the damn thing when we’re talking about schools, not a battlezone? It doesn’t sound like you’ve had much use for that armored vehicle.  Why have it?  “Because it’s cool and I want to play war” is not a valid reason.

“It’s a piece of equipment that’s not essential for our mission, so we will be disposing of those,” Zipperman said.

The armored vehicles and heavy artillery distributed to local agencies became a national issue in the wake of the riots in Ferguson, Mo.

“I can’t allow whatever political ramifications or analysis in Ferguson suggest how I want to make a decision on how to best make sure we respond at the LAUSD,” Zipperman said.

The chief says the armored vehicle will stay but will only be deployed on his direct orders with the approval of the school superintendent.

“To suggest that it’s a threatening type of equipment or equipment for a show of force, that is not the case,” Zipperman said.

Well then, if you say so, I guess that’s the case. No reason to have any evidence or logic to support such a position.

::fatal eyeroll::

Richard Dawkins-Here’s a clue about ‘witch hunts’

Rebecca Watson has the floor:

Dear Muslima Innocent People Murdered in Witch Hunts

Stop whining, will you. Yes, yes, I know you had your genitals mutilated with a razor blade were driven from your home in the dead of night by murderers, and . . . yawn . . . don’t tell me yet again, I know you aren’t allowed to drive a car live, and you can’t leave the house without a male relative or you’ll be murdered, and your husband is allowed to beat you tried to murder you, and you’ll be stoned to death if you commit adultery are seen anywhere near your home again. But stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering your poor American sisters atheist polemicists have to put up with.

Only this week I heard of one, she calls herself Skep”chick” himself a “Horseman of the Apocalypse”, and do you know what happened to herhim? A man in a hotel elevator invited her back to his room for coffee People on the Internet took issue with something he said on stage. I am not exaggerating. He They really did. They even laughed at his word choice. Of course she said no, and of course he didn’t lay a finger on her, he was able to reply, and no one censored him or tried to murder him, but even so . . .

And you, Muslima innocent people who were murdered in witch hunts, think you have misogyny witch hunts to complain about! For goodness sake grow up, or at least grow a thicker skin.

Richard

Further thoughts on Dawkins and Harris

Richard Dawkins has double down once again. Hell, he’s digging a hole so deep that it’s got to be getting pretty hot in there.  You can read the latest Tweets from Dawkins here, where he shits on PZ Myers, ostensibly a friend of his.  What are his reasons? I don’t know? Why does he dismiss the criticisms-explained at length, from many people-about his actions or those of Sam Harris?  I don’t know.  What I do know is that both Dawkins and Harris have a problem.  They refuse to confront the ugly shit inside them. The following is a comment I left at Pharyngula:

As I started to compose this comment, I thought: we’re not asking much of people like Dawkins and Harris. That all people are asking is that they listen to what we’re saying. That they open themselves up to criticism and accept that they can be wrong. That they peel back their layers of privilege and recognize the signs of the internalized sexism they’ve carried with them their entire lives.

But then I thought:
Framing it that way appears as if this is an easy task.
I remember when I started confronting my biases. It *wasn’t* easy. I remember when I started seeing how women were treated. When I started listening to what women were saying. When I started recognizing the signs of sexism.
I was horrified.
It was everywhere.
I couldn’t escape it.
I couldn’t go to work and escape it.
I couldn’t go to a gay bar and escape it.
I couldn’t go to the movies or turn on the tv and escape it.
I saw it in the way people dressed.
I saw it in the way people acted.
I saw it in the way people spoke.
I saw it in the way people interacted.

One of the most striking moments for me came when I was sitting at a local gay bar and having a conversation with a friend. We were talking about effeminate gay men and drag queens and dating sites and more. This was maybe 2 years ago. I’d accepted that feminism was a worthy cause and was becoming comfortable calling myself one. But I was still in the process of understanding the sexist views I had.

Well one of those sexist views up and slapped me across the head right then and there.

I realized as my friend and I spoke, that all those people talking about how they won’t date a “girly gay man”…
•or those times when I said that phrase, followed by “I want to date a man bc he’s a man. I don’t want a date a man who acts like a girl”…
•or those people who put at the top of the Adam4Adam, Manhunt, or Grindr profile “not interested in nellie men, only want masculine men”
…I realized then and there that we…I…was trapped in thinking about gender in very rigid terms. I realized that I thought “men are supposed to be this way, and women are supposed to be this way”. I thought that any deviation from that was wrong. I thought that there was something wrong with a man acting like a woman, or having traits or characteristics typically associated with women. I realized how deep sexism ran. It runs so deep it affects how we view ourselves, as well as the people around us. It shapes our opinions of our friends, our family, our coworkers, even strangers.
It.
Runs.
Deep.

Reflecting on that, I realize now, that we *are* asking for a lot from Dawkins and Harris.

But you know what?
We’re not asking the impossible.

We are not asking either of them to do anything we aren’t willing to do ourselves…what we are continually doing ourselves. We’re asking them to be better people. We’re asking them to look deep inside themselves and confront all that is ugly within them.

That’s where it becomes difficult.
Who wants to accept that there’s ugly shit inside you?
Who wants to accept that you can be capable of being a sexist/homophobic/racist/transphobic bigot?

That is hard to do.
It ain’t easy.

But that’s how we’re going to become better people.
That’s how we become a better species.
It’s not going to be a cakewalk. It won’t be unicorns and butterflies and chocolate covered strawberries. It’s going to be tough and it’s not going to end. It’s going to be a continual process that we carry with us for the rest of our lives.

Confronting the internalized issues that we all have is not easy.
But it’s damn well worth it.
And it’s something Every. Fucking. Person. Should. Do.

That’s the only way we’re going to reshape this world and leave it better for those who come after us.

I…We are not holding Sam Harris or Richard Dawkins to some impossible standard. We’re holding them to same standard we hold ourselves and others to. They continue to fail to measure up to that standard.

One day I hope they’ll recognize what they’re doing and dig deep…deep into their core and realize that they have some shit to come to terms with. I hope they do this because not believing in gods is NOT. FUCKING. ENOUGH.

Racism with a side of sexism

In a series of Tweets, Ashley Ford shares her experiences of racism and sexism:

Quote of the Day-Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a feminist and prominent Nigerian writer with a Master’s in creative writing from John’s Hopkins University and a Master of Arts degree in African studies from Yale. Parts of her ‘We should all be feminists’  TEDx talk were sampled by Beyonce in her song ‘Flawless’ in December 2013.

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