Things they would have difficulty believing in Salt Lake City XXXI

9 04 2009

The week in whackaloonery:

1. A Catholic priest in the UK is shocked SHOCKED at the notion that the primary function of a hospital is the provision of medical care, and claims that if taxpayers don’t continue to foot the bill for “spiritual care” (chaplains, organ players and such), “hospitals could be reduced to mere workshops where you get your biological parts fixed.” Fancy that. (The Freethinker)]

2. The New Zealand Family First organisation is crying foul over a very funny billboard ad depicting a woman who, it is intimated, is privately deriving pleasure from anal beads during a church service. Given that “the church setting simply adds to the offensive nature by offending a sector of our community who would find the ad in particularly bad taste,” and given that said sector of the community has a right not to be offended, and given that nobody is thinking of teh children, NZ Family First has lodged a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority. (The Freethinker)

3. In the recently fundy-ised Swat Valley region of Pakistan, a 17-year-old girl was publicly flogged by the Taliban. Swat was once a haven for tourists and was known as the “Switzerland of Pakistan,” until the Taliban took control in late 2008, torching schools and banning female education. (AsiaNews)

4. In Nepal, a woman accused of witchcraft was forced to eat human excreta by a primary school principal. (MYREPUBLICA)

5. Unfortunate article heading of the week from New Vision Online: “Catholic Church probes gay priests.” Homosexuality is teh evil, according to Ugandan Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga, because “homosexuality is a sin,” and because “God created a woman for Adam, to be his helper.”

6. In liberated Iraq, in the wake of anti-homosexual sermons by clerics in Sadr city, six gay men have been murdered, their bodies discovered bearing a sign reading “pervert” in Arabic on their chests. (Reuters)





Liberal Party member Chris Abood on the internet blacklist

23 03 2009

From his recent Online Opinion piece:

So how does one get blacklisted?

Quite easily.

There are two ways to end up on the blacklist, either through direct channels or inadvertently. Currently, if I come across a website that I do not approve of either because I believe it is illegal or does not suit my ideological bent, I can make a complaint to the ACMA. In order to make a complaint, I must be an Australian resident or a company that carries on activities in Australia, provide the internet address and/or sufficient access details to enable ACMA to access the online content and provide reasons as to why I believe the online content is prohibited. The ACMA will then make a determination as to whether that site is added to the blacklist. It is not clear how the ACMA makes this determination. It has also been reported that other bodies such as filter software companies can also add websites to the blacklist. It is not clear how this is policed.

So how does one inadvertently end up on the list? Imagine that Big Buba from the Buba crime syndicate published a websites called FriendlyTours.com. However this is a front for an illegal website publishing unsavoury pictures. The site is found, a complaint made to ACMA and rightly added to the blacklist. A few weeks later, Big Buba closes down the site and moves to a new domain called BubaTours.com to try and keep ahead of the authorities. This site is also added to the blacklist and a few weeks later the site moves again and again.

Meanwhile, Jan who has been working for a large multi-national for 20 years is called into her manager’s office and told that she is being made redundant. With her large redundancy cheque, she decides to pursue her dream of running a tour business. She calls her business Friendly Tours and finds that the domain name is available. She registers the domain name and has a nice website built.

Jim, a dentist, decides to have a website built for his practice. His Internet Service Provider assigns his domain JimsDentistry.com to an IP address that was previously occupied by BubaTours.com. Both Jim and Jan are friends of mine. I offer to help them increase their Google rankings by linking to their sites through my website, my blog and my Facebook page.

A few weeks go by and Jim and Jan start getting emails from people saying they cannot access their websites. They don’t know why. They try to contact me for an explanation but cannot get hold of me. That is because I am in court being fined $11,000 a day for linking to a banned site. The people who emailed Jim and Jan are also in court facing jail terms of ten years for trying to access a site contained on the blacklist.

This blacklist is to form the backbone of the government’s mandatory filtering regime. The leaked list apparently contains 2,395 websites. The Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy wants to expand this to 10,000 websites. Will the ACMA be under pressure to find sites, any sites, to reach this number? The legitimacy of the blacklist will always be in question while owners of websites on the blacklist have no means of recourse especially if that site is legitimate.

Something I am curious about is whether this policy is unanimously supported or even popular among members of the ALP. If not, what are dissenting ALP members doing about it?





March in March

20 03 2009

I will be here in spirit:

WHAT

March in March is an upbeat event to give people an opportunity stand up, be heard, and hold the government accountable for their plans of forcing mandatory censorship on a very unwilling public.

With a mix of live entertainment of bands and DJs, speakers from all sides of the political spectrum and other special guests, the day will be topped off with the annual Canberran Skyfire Festival, just for us … okay, maybe not. [. . .]

WHERE

Parliament House side of Federation Mall, Canberra

WHEN

1:00 PM 21st of March, 2009

(Press conference at 11:00 AM)

WHY

The DLC have been organising rallies in capital cities for the past three months raising awareness as to the governments plans to censor the internet and the negative impact involved.

This is only the tip of the wedge of censorship being driven into our society by a vocal minority, as they say, the best time to defend your freedom is while you still have it.

While Senators change their minds daily, and the media report that the filter will go ahead, or won’t go ahead almost as regularly–the fact remains–this issue will not be put to bed unless Australians defend their democracy against the very ideology of censorship culture.

I’m not comfortable with the use of the sneer term “vocal minority.” For one thing, it misses the point: the clean feed is a bad thing regardless of whether it is advocated by a minority or a majority. But it also reeks of the kind of demagoguery that Conroy wields against those who oppose mandatory filtering: “If people equate freedom of speech with watching child pornography, then the Rudd-Labor Government is going to disagree.” (In other words, if you oppose the Government’s plan, you must love watching kiddie porn.) We are all minorities, insofar as we are all individuals, whose rights and interests (including freedom of speech) are supposed to be defended against majoritarian tyranny—that is what has hitherto defined us as a robust liberal democracy.

And it comes down to this. In one of the world’s so-called robust liberal democracies, the Government equates free speech advocacy with pederasty. That is—and should be—nothing short of alarming.





Wikileaks, bitches

19 03 2009

WIKILEAKS WIKILEAKS WIKILEAKS WIKILEAKS WIKILEAKS WIKILEAKS WIKILEAKS WIKILEAKS WIKILEAKS WIKILEAKS WIKILEAKS WIKILEAKS

“The first rule of censorship is that you cannot talk about censorship.” (Wikileaks, March 16 2009)

Proudly brought to you by the Australian Federal Labor Government, stifling free speech since 2007.

(HT: Homosecular Gaytheist)

UPDATE from ABC News Online:

Internet filter blacklist leaked on web

The communication regulator’s blacklist of banned internet sites has apparently been leaked, prompting an internet advocacy group to accuse the Government of making it easy to access child pornography. Read the rest of this entry »





The Wonderful World of Magical Thinking XXX

27 10 2007

The week in fundie:

  1. There’s been plenty of chatter on Oz blogs regarding the Family First “I can’t believe it’s not a Christian political party” Christian political party:
    About time there was some scrutiny of “Family” First (Mr Lefty)
    Family First home movies (Grods)
    Family First stifles free speech (Grods)
    Absolutely no connection between Family First and the church at all (Grods)
    “Right-Wing” Christian Australia’s War on Liberal Democracy (Thinker’s Podium)

  2. Southern Baptist seminary course teaches women students to “graciously submit to their husbands’ leadership.” Students learn “how to set tables, sew buttons and sustain lively dinnertime conversation.” (via The Atheist Experience)

    More over the fold . . .

  3. Pope Benedict on faith-based schools: “It is incumbent upon governments to afford parents the opportunity to send their children to religious schools by facilitating the establishment and financing of such institutions.”(via Dogma Free America)
  4. In case you missed it, Tuesday October 23 was the Earth’s birthday. 6010 years young. “Why was she born so beautiful, why was she born at all? . . .” (via The Atheist Experience)
  5. From a creationist lesson plan:
    Evaluation: Students will be monitored by teacher observation during the classroom discussion, group work and answering the appropriate questions. Reflection paragraphs will be collected. The teacher will try to determine the students’ new courage and ability to defend their belief in the Creator.

    How’s that for academic freedom? (via Pharyngula)

  6. According to Pravda, Melbourne University biologists have discovered that dolphins descended from the human inhabitants of Atlantis. (via Pharyngula)
  7. Re-closeted gay fundie James Hartline’s explanation for the recent fires in California:
    They shook their fists at God and said, “We don’t care what the Bible says, We want the California school children indoctrinated into homosexuality!” And then Governor Schwarzenegger signed into law the heinous SB777 which bans the use of “mom” and “dad” in the text books and promotes homosexuality to all school children in California.

    And then the wildfires of Southern California engulfed the land like a raging judgment against the radicalized anti-christian California rebels.

    (via Pharyngula)

  8. Security Moms“: there is a new conservative group in the US (actually a front group for a conservative Washington think-tank) that agitprops in favour of the Bush Administration’s national security and foreign policies. Family Security Matters has advocated that Bush make himself President-for-Life (in the tinpot dictator sense), and ranks universities and colleges (all of them) #2 in its list of the “Ten Most Dangerous Organizations in America” (behind Media Matters). (via Kazim’s Korner)
  9. Banning Harry Potter: it’s not just for Protestant fundies anymore. (Boston Globe)
  10. Evangelical Christian UK Army Chief of Staff declares that “Christian leaders and chaplains in the Army [are] needed to equip soldiers for” life after death. (via Dogma Free America)





Blog Against Theocracy: the Australian Christian Lobby Has Control of Your Television

4 07 2007


On August 9th, both John Howard and Kevin Rudd will address 200 church figures in a National Press Club event, organised by the Australian Christian Lobby, that will be broadcast live across the country. Why? Here’s why:

The Federal Election, to be held later this year will be a significant election. In the 2004 election for the first time in many years, election analysts identified the impact of a Christian vote or Christian constituency. ACL wants to assist this important constituency to make an informed decision on how to vote in 2007.

In 2004, the influence of the Christian Right (whenever you hear someone like Jim Wallace crowing about “the Christian vote,” he means the Christian Right) was most keenly felt in the arena of marriage legislation, when the Federal Government–eagerly supported by the “Opposition”–introduced a law banning same-sex marriage. The impact of this new “Christian constituency” was soon felt in the education portfolio, where in 2005 the then Minister Brendan Nelson, having watched the Campus Crusade for Christ DVD Unlocking the Mystery of Life: Intelligent Design, opined that ID should be taught in schools if that’s what parents wanted. And last year, in the midst of a long debate over the supposed lack of “values” in secular schools, the Federal Government unleashed a $90 million plan to fund school chaplains.

So what’s on the agenda this year? First of all, the ACL is very keen to see that the filthy homosexualists don’t get too uppity about “equality under the law” and whatnot: “We would [. . .] not want to see any [. . .] moves made which would undermine the traditional definition of families, and therefore the strength of families as an institution, or jeopardise the best interests of the child.” (WON’T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN???) Furthermore, now that the Federal Government has banned the sale of X-rated material to the dark-skinned savages, the ACL is calling for an across-the-board ban, lest this filth corrupt the pure hearts of decent white Christian folk:

“The deeply concerning problems in the Northern Territory show just how great a problem pornography is and how far greater controls are needed,” Mr Wallace said. “It is time we put the future of our children before the demands of the pornographic film industry!”

WON’T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN??? Hmmm . . . there seems to be a theme here.

While it will be interesting to hear Rudd couching ALP social democracy in the patois of the Bible-thumper, while Howard promises to lead the nation into an era of 50′s-style socks-and-sandals wowserism, it would be nice if there was an Enlightenment constituency–a secular liberal democratic constituency–for our political leaders to pander to.

After all: we think, and we vote.





Idiocracy

1 07 2007


Synopsis: The story is told from the perspective of Joe, an army librarian who, along with prostitute Rita, becomes a guinea-pig in a top-secret military hibernation experiment. After a prostitution scandal forces the closure of the army base on which the experiments are being conducted, the sarcophagi containing the hibernating Joe and Rita are forgotten. They emerge 500 years later in an America that has become, as a result of low fertility among intelligent people, overrun by idiots. The most popular TV show features a man who is repeatedly kicked in the testicles. The most acclaimed movie features 90 minutes of someone’s bare buttocks, punctuated by the occasional fart. The nation faces widescale famine because the crops have dried up, a result of years of being irrigated by a sports drink full of electrolytes.

Joe, a man of painfully average intelligence in his own time, suddenly finds himself the smartest man in the world. After several brushes with the law (and jailtime owing to the incompetence of his lawyer), he is recruited by the President to solve the impending food crisis, and is given a week to do so. When his ingenious plan–to irrigate the crops with water rather than a sports drink–fails to produce immediate results, Joe is sentenced to gladiatorial combat with monster trucks in a demolition derby arena. When the crops start growing, Joe is saved from certain death and eventually becomes President, signalling the dawn of a new era. As he declares in his address to Congress,

There was a time when reading wasn’t just for fags. And neither was writing. People wrote books and movies. Movies with stories, that made you care about whose ass it was and why it was farting. And I believe that time can come again!

This is a film that you can’t really take at face value. At face value, it comes across as just another lame, low-budget gross-out comedy replete with toilet humour and terrible acting. But then you realise that’s the whole point: the very species of teenage knuckledragger who would be attracted to Idiocracy based on its face-value qualities is the very target of the film’s satire. Actually, there are other targets, too: anti-intellectualism, corporatism, materialism, and the dumbing-down of education (Joe’s “lawyer” received his degree from a city-sized warehouse retail store). And guess which news channel the idiots are watching in this dystopian future? In 1997, director Mike Judge gave us the brilliant Beavis and Butthead Do America; Idiocracy shows us what happens when Beavis and Butthead run America.

Wikipedia notes some of the difficulties the film faced upon its 2005 release. It was only released to a handful of screens across the U.S., and “20th Century Fox, the film’s distributor, did nothing to promote the movie.” Nor was it screened for critics. It is speculated that Fox, unhappy with the unflattering portrayal of its news channel as well as the film’s anti-corporate message, deliberately sabotaged the film’s chances of garnering a wide audience. The closing sequence of the film features a theme-park tour of world history in which Charlie Chaplin leads the Nazi Party and dinosaurs are featured as World War Two combatants; perhaps, in a country which recently saw the opening of a multi-million-dollar Creation Museum where humans are shown walking with dinosaurs, the satire hit too close to the mark for comfort. In any case, you can get it on DVD now.

See also: “The Movie Hollywood Doesn’t Want You To See” (Slate)





The Wonderful World of Magical Thinking XXI

25 06 2007

The week in fundie:

  1. The Religious Right post-Falwell. (Americans United for the Separation of Church and State)
  2. A library in South Carolina has been forced to cancel its summer programs after receiving threats and accusations that it was “promoting witchcraft.” (Via Pharyngula)
  3. Lesbians kicked off a bus for for kissing. (Via Morons.org)
  4. Queensland National MP Barnaby Joyce: “If Christian people do not put their view forward that Australia is a Christian state, then within a short period of time, [. . .] another religion might fill the vacuum.” (Via Unbelief.org)
  5. An Italian village has opened a criminal investigation into the film version of The Da Vinci Code, in response to complaints by local clergy. (Dispatches from the Culture Wars)
  6. The Exclusive Brethren cult, which bans sex ed and ICT in its own schools, is planning to sponsor one of the UK’s publicly-funded “faith schools.” (Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion)
  7. Study: social dysfunction higher in America’s Jesus states. (Dispatches from the Culture Wars)

Bill Maher on Jesus Camp





Baby Jesus told me to beat up your son

1 05 2007

An atheist high school student, Reed Braden, lent his atheist friend his copy of The God Delusion. The friend’s father found the book, phoned Braden and informed him that he would personally be returning the book that evening (having placed the call at 11pm).

He read me my address (I assume he got it from the phonebook) and told me, “You made this too easy.” I obsessively checked every lock in my house and went to sleep with a metal baseball bat held across my chest.

He sounded a bit drunk on the phone and I assumed he wouldn’t drive across town to deliver my book in his state, so I called the school and left a message, asking to deny him a visitor’s pass to the student areas of the building. He indeed came to school, and I assume he tried to visit me but was intercepted by the principal first. Whatever occurred, he ended up talking to my principal and demanded that I be punished for “handing out literature” and attempting to convert his already-Atheist son to Atheism.

Sidenote: The Gideons stopped cars in our parking lot a week ago to deliver Bibles to every person leaving the school… without school intervention.

Full details and follow-up at Braden’s blog. Incredibly, the school is actually making up its mind about whether to punish him for his “sin.”





The Wonderful World of Magical Thinking XIII

29 04 2007

The week in fundie:








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