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 »





Great Moments in the History of “Christian Love” (TM): How Religious Fascism Poisoned Little Axe

28 02 2009

A recent episode of Ed Brayton’s Declaring Independence podcast (Feb 5th 2009) featured an interview with Joann Bell, one of the plaintiffs in a 1980s suit against the school district of Little Axe, Oklahoma. In 1981, the town’s elementary school was allowing a “voluntary” teacher-sponsored student prayer group called the Son Shine Club to operate on school grounds before classes began. The school buses used to drop students off in front of the school 30 minutes before classes began, and since school rules dictated that no student was allowed inside the building without permission before the first class, students had to choose between standing outside in the rain or cold, and joining the prayer meeting inside the school. Eventually, peer-pressure forced more students to attend Son Shine Club meetings, which would sometimes run over into the first class.

Bell, who belonged to a different denomination than the Baptist Son Shine Club, brought up the issue with the school board, where she was told to take it up with the ACLU. When she along with other parents brought a lawsuit against the school district (which the plaintiffs won on appeal), that’s when all hell broke loose: including death threats, assaults on herself and her children, and eventually the firebombing of her family home, forcing the family to move away from the town.

More details are available at Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, where we also learn the school superintendent’s response to his community’s loving Christian treatment of the plaintiffs: “The only people who have been hurt by this thing are the Bells and McCords. The school goes on. They chose to create their own hell on earth.”





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 »





Wherein I engage in an ad hominem spray at Fred Nile

30 12 2008

Fred Nile is one of those stereotypical Christian preachers whose arsehole is clenched so tight that he permanently shits diamonds. This, of course, necessitates the disposal of his normal bodily wastes at the other end of the digestive tract. In fact, he’s just had another bowel movement:

The Christian Democrats MLC, the Reverend Fred Nile, had earlier claimed he had the support of both Labor and Coalition MPs for a ban on topless sunbathing.Mr Nile believes people are offended by the practice.

“I think it’s just a matter of having community standards,” he said.

“If we observe those then we can all live together in in harmony.”

This is precisely the same admixture of authoritarianism and abnegation of personal responsibility that we see in the Federal Labor Government’s ISP plan: Society has an obligation to protect me from getting a woody. Fred just throws the Abrahamic faiths’ disgust at the (female) body into the mix. (And it comes as no surprise that the Opus Dei wing of the NSW Liberal Party is supporting him, though other Coalition members have chosen to remain on the sunnier side of the Enlightenment.)

Fred, do us all a favour—find the nearest toilet cubicle, lock the door, and have a good wank. Jesus won’t mind, and you don’t have to worry about anyone else knowing. It will be our little secret. You senile, sociopathic, neurotic, perverted Bible-bashing fuck.





We need one of these things for the Australian federal election

17 10 2007


The Carnegie-Knight Initiative on the Future of Journalism Education, a collaboration between five leading US universities, has created an interactive tool for gauging the role played by religion in the 2008 Presidential Election campaign.

The following is an interactive matrix examining the intersection of faith and politics on the stump as presidential hopefuls line up for their chance to win the White House in 2008. Issues range from abortion and public education to religious history and gay rights. Every candidate so far declared for office has been thoroughly researched for any mention of faith and its impact on their decision to reach a particular stance. Use the following matrix to explore how faith has been invoked as a part of their respective campaigns.

(You’ll have to go to the site to open the tool.)

It would be extremely handy, don’t you agree, if a similar tool was made available for Australian election campaigns.

Actually, those of you who are familiar with the website Political Compass will be interested to learn that a chart has been made for the 2007 Federal Election:


The extent to which the political centre of gravity is sinking deeper and deeper into the right-wing authoritarian quadrant is truly disturbing. Looking at the party’s website (which basically resembles one long angry Letter to the Editor from Joe Incontinence Pad), I can understand how difficult it must have been for the Political Compass guys to place One Nation. They are undoubtedly authoritarian–well, let’s just come right out and say it: they’re protofascist–but in terms of economic policy they can be both left-wing and right-wing. (For instance, they’re stridently anti-corporate: they even link to the Outfoxed website!) By the way, secularist potential One Nation voters be warned: your party advocates the teaching of Scripture and “Christian values” (whatever they are supposed to be) in public schools. And oil is–and this must be said in ALL CAPS, just like it is on the One Nation website–A RENEWABLE AND ABIOTIC FUEL.”

In other news, I’ve submitted Five Public Opinions to Blogotariat, a political blog aggregator. Bruce, Mikey, Jeremy, the Editor . . . all the cool kids are doing it.





Reed Braden vs. the Internet Squadristi

6 07 2007

Reed Braden on why he removed several posts about Islam from his blog:

My series on Islam had already started and I could no longer take the pressure from several hundred death threats and at least a thousand emails considering my two posts critical of Islam. I deleted them.

I can deal with death threats, but not in that quantity.

I disagreed with some aspects of Reed’s posts–basically I thought he was painting with too broad a brush–and I told him so in the comments.

What I cannot abide, however, is the use of intimidation to silence those who express views with which one disagrees. It is fascism pure and simple, and has no place in a civilised society.

On the other hand, fascism can be fun:





Short story: the Marquis de Sade’s "Dialogue Between a Priest and a Dying Man"

25 06 2007

This is actually a dialogue rather than a story. A priest is giving the last rites to a dying man who repents that he has not taken full advantage of the fact that he was “created by Nature with the keenest appetites and the strongest of passions and was put on this earth with the sole purpose of placating both by surrendering to them.” The dying man then proceeds to state his case for atheism.

Despite the fact that the dying man seems not to have heard of the is-ought fallacy, he makes some good arguments that resonate well with current debates. His opponent is probably an unfair strawman, but I have heard a Christian apologist in a recent debate with Christopher Hitchens advance at least one of the priest’s counter-arguments–the notion that the world has been created “broken” as an answer to the problem of evil.

The dialogue is far too long to reproduce here, so I’ll just provide a link to the PDF:

“Dialogue Between a Priest and a Dying Man”

Of course, more than just atheists have been influenced by de Sade’s ideas:








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