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 »





I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel all that safe . . .

21 01 2009

. . . given the amount of rabid evangelical Christians in positions of authority in the US military, and who seem hell-bent on transforming it into one giant Jesus Camp. It seems the Military Religious Freedom Foundation has been receiving many emails from servicemen and women who were pressured into applauding Rick Warren’s invocation at President Obama’s inauguration. Chris Rodda at DailyKos provides one email from a Methodist serviceman who found, watching the invocation with his fellow officers, “who could not muster the courage to resist the pressure of his ‘serious and committed born again Christian’ commanding officer to applaud Rick Warren.”

Today, I watched President Obama’s inauguration on the television set up in our Brigade staff conference room. I attended as a member of (unit level designation withheld) staff along with over 40 other senior officers, senior enlisted an few senior Army civilian staffers. There had been much talk here about Pres. Obama’s selection of the evangelical pastor Rick Warren to give the invocation at the ceremonies.
Our current Commander is a very intolerant and “serious and committed born again Christian” as he always describes himself to all his subordinates. At every military assignment I’ve ever been to it’s always the same thing; if you are not a born again “serious” Christian you are branded as pretty much worthless. Read the rest of this entry »





Think of the children

18 01 2009

Three girls in Pennsylvania ranging in age from 14 to 15 took nude or semi-nude photographs of themselves with their mobile phones, and sent them to three of their teenaged friends. All six have been brought up on child pornography charges.

In the Pennsylvania case, a school official seized the phone of one of the boys after he was caught using it during school hours in violation of a school rule, according to local police Capt. George Seranko. The official found the picture on the phone, and after some interrogation, discovered that two other girls had also e-mailed photos of themselves in the nude to friends. That’s when the school called police, who obtained search warrants to seize the phones and examine them. Police showed the images to the local district attorney, who recommended they bring charges.Seranko said the images “weren’t just breasts; they showed [gasp] female anatomy.” Read the rest of this entry »





Christian love strikes again in California

21 12 2008

Is there any appellation more Orwellian—nay, oxymoronic—than “loving Christian?” A coalition of loving Christians, clearly of the view that Proposition 8 did not constitute a decisive enough victory over a despised outgroup, now wants the marriages that were performed during the California marriage statute’s brief dalliance with (the manifestly unChristian virtues of) humanity and acceptance to be annulled:

Referendum proponents known as the “Protect Marriage” coalition on Friday took their campaign one step further, petitioning the Supreme Court to annul the gay marriages officiated so far in California.

“Proposition 8′s brevity is matched by its clarity,” the group said in its legal brief. “There are no conditional clauses, exceptions, exemptions, or exclusions: ‘Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.’”

Show me the individual who describes himself as a “loving Christian,” and who in the same breath advocates such naked mean-spiritedness as evinced by the self-styled marriage defenders in California, and I’ll show you a liar, a fraud, a phony, a bullshit-artist, a spinmeister, a prevaricator, a con-artist, a deluder, a dissimulator, a false witness. He is “loving” in the same regard as a “loving father” who lovingly beats his kids, or a “loving husband” who lovingly beats his wife.





Memo to my GLBTI readers from a loving Christian . . .

30 11 2008

Many of you, Bill Muehlenberg would have us believe, enjoy having sex with animals:

The Gay Report, a book much praised in gay communities, contains testimonials without adverse comment of homosexual encounters with Labrador retrievers, cows and horses. The 1992 report mentioned above found that 15 per cent of male homosexuals and 19 per cent of male bisexuals had sex with animals, compared with 3 percent of male heterosexuals.

Actually, the report was published in 1981, based on a self-administered 16-page survey with a one-percent response rate. The report receives a thorough debunking at Box Turtle Bulletin.

(HT: commenter Rod)





Things they’d have difficulty believing in Salt Lake City XXIX

27 11 2008

The week in fundie:

  1. The UN General Assembly has adopted a draft resolution calling on governments to ban the “defamation of religion.” (EuropeNews)
  2. The retired Archbishop of Bologna, Cardinal Biffi, revels in the stagnant pool of non-thinking that is conservative Christianity by insisting that Christian teachings do not change with the times. That’s nothing to be proud of, Biffi: it merely serves to demonstrate the irrelevance of your belief system and its wilful disconnection from the real world. (Catholic News Agency)
  3. Islam is the only religion that ensures protection and respectable status to women in society” says an academic in Pakistan. (The News International)
  4. Yoga is banned in Malaysia because “The Islam religion does not find efforts or actions which have no purpose and are done just for the sake of doing something, to be appropriate,” and “A soul returning to the world in another form conflicts with the principles of being punished or rewarded in the afterworld.” Transmigration of the soul? That’s crazy-talk. Post-mortem hellfire and torment for not being a Muslim? Perfectl reasonable. (Sabah)
  5. Morality and ethics, observed an American cleric recently, cannot be divorced from their religious antecedents. Indeed. (ABC News Online)
  6. Morality and ethics, observed an American cleric recently, cannot be divorced from their religious antecedents. Indeed part deux. (Pharyngula)
  7. A loving Catholic blogger lovingly declares: “Was there ever a sub-species of human being as useless as atheists??” (via Fundies Say the Darndest Things)
  8. A loving Baptist pastor lovingly declares that Jews are going to Hell and face—and I quote—”a fate worse than the Holocaust.” (via Fundies Say the Darndest Things)
  9. In India, a teenage boy committed the horrible crime of courting a girl from a lower caste. So of course he justly deserved the punishment of being beaten, paraded through the streets with his head shaved, and then thrown under the wheels of a train. (via Fundies Say the Darndest Things)
  10. The anti-vac movement has a following in the Islamic world, too. The leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Sudan has issued a fatwa against vaccination, declaring it to be a Jewish/Freemason conspiracy to rule the world. (via Fundies Say the Darndest Things)
  11. In South Africa, a 52-year-old woman was hacked to death with an axe by four men for being a “witch.” (Sowetan)




Too much book-learning makes baby Jesus cry

19 11 2008

In 1378 John Wycliffe first translated the Bible into English . . . and it appears certain rightwing Catholics are rueing the day.

The Rt Rev Patrick O’Donoghue, the Bishop of Lancaster, has claimed that graduates are spreading scepticism and sowing dissent. Instead of following the Church’s teaching they are “hedonistic”, “selfish” and “egocentric”, he said. [. . .] While not naming names, he suggested that such people had been compromised by their education, which he said had a “dark side, due to original sin”.Prominent Catholics in public life include Mark Thompson, the BBC’s director general, and Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister.

Bishop O’Donoghue, who has recently published a report on how to renew Catholicism in Britain, argued that mass education has led to “sickness in the Church and wider society”

In short, too much education is teh evil, because those Catholics who have eaten of this forbidden fruit and have become influential have “corrupted the faith of those who had not gone to university.” And what’s worse,

In the case of education, we can see its distortion through the widespread dissemination of radical scepticism, positivism, utilitarianism and relativism.”Taken together, these intellectual trends have resulted in a fragmented society that marginalizes God, with many people mistakenly thinking they can live happy and productive lives without him.

Just think . . . all this time I’ve been depressed and unproductive because I lack belief in the existence of deities. Ditto, these sad and lazy fools.

But O’Donoghue isn’t the first British Catholic clergyman to attack thinking: earlier this year the highest-ranked Catholic in the land warned that reason leads to terror and oppression. It’s just O’Donoghue is far more abrupt about what is at stake: educated Catholics, their minds poisoned by the “dark side” of their education—”original sin and concupiscence”—leading the sheep astray. Is this the voice of an institution worried about its waning power and influence, and increasing irrelevance? Or is it the voice of an institution that is in so much despair about its ability to defend its theological claims with reasoned argument and evidence, that it simply falls to demonising reason itself and demonising those who, having set foot inside the gates of a university, have developed the capacity to question Catholic dogma (and we can’t have that)?

Perhaps it’s both.








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