All posts by Ron Murphy

Killers for Religion and Atheism?

So, an atheist kills a bunch of religious people, and the religious can now cite an example that shows that their religion isn’t that bad after all.

Not so fast.

Atheism vs Theism

Both Atheism and Theism are simply opposing philosophical positions. Any other systems is ‘atheistic’ if it rejects theism.

A particular theism might be vary vague – “I believe there is one, and possibly more gods, but I don’t know whether any of the religions are true …”.

Or it might be specific yet still ‘other worldly’ – “I believe that there must have been a creator god, but I have no idea what he intends for us, and I offer no moral guidance based on my belief that there is a god.”

Atheism is pretty much opposition to this sort of theism, usually on the grounds that there is no evidence or reason to believe such claims. In this respect Atheism is a negative position: it simply rejects the claim that there are gods.

Note that Atheism does not assert that there are definitely no gods.

Some atheists might assert that there are absolutely no gods, but that isn’t much better than asserting absolutely that there is. You might call such an atheism a ‘faith’ based atheism. But if you pin atheists down they generally agree that they do not hold such a strong opinion, but merely act as if they do because that’s often easier to express.

But this acting as if there are no gods is a fair position to take. Christians act as if there are no Norse gods. They act as if there are no fairies or Santa – and playing along with such fantasies for the fun they provide for children isn’t acting with true belief.

Religions

Religions are a subset of Theism …

Atheism-Theism-Religion

[Agnostics may not deny the existence of god, but they don’t positively assert there are gods either.]

Religions take the basic philosophical position of theism, thinking there are some teleological entities that created our universe, and add many more specific claims:

  • Our god is the only god
  • Our god cares about us
  • Our god dictates our moral codes
  • Our god wants us to punish people that don’t follow his codes.
  • Our god wants us to punish people that don’t believe in him.
  • Our god doesn’t want us to eat pig meat and thinks it a moral obligation that we don’t.
  • Our god wants us to punish people that have sex outside the specific type of union sanctioned by our god (monogamy for Christians, up to four wives one husband for Muslims)
  • Our god will not remarry divorcees – old school Catholic; god changes his mind sometimes; he’s fickle (or humans decide he changed his mind)

Most religious people are born into, indoctrinated, into their religion. And the religion may provide many social benefits if it’s a large religious community.

But there can also be great costs for those that simply cannot continue to believe. In some more fundamentalist communities, ex-believers can be ostracised, might suffer social and economic hardship if rejected by the community, and might even risk death. If the religion prescribes death for apostates, as is the case for Islam,

The list of additional beliefs on top of basic theism, including the many moral prescriptions and proscriptions, is long. It depends on the religion, the sect within the religion, and the personal willingness of individuals to follow the rules of the religion.

This becomes a little tricky for the religious that try to divert criticism away from their religion, when opinions differ so widely within:

  • God changes his mind often, it seems, judging by how religious opinions change.
  • Individuals make up their own minds what they take from their religion … you’d think the religious would therefore appreciate how atheists make up their own minds about morality.
  • The greatest opponent’s to a particular religious believer’s views are … other religious people. Islamic terrorism? Most victims are other Muslims.

The variety of religious belief is often greater than the difference between Atheism and a particular Religion. Modern Anglicans that accept secular liberal democracy, have no problem with homosexuality, even in the church, are for full gender equality, and gender identity, have much more in common with the social and political leanings of many atheists, than with even their fundamentalist Christian brethren, let alone than with people of other faiths.

And yet, the religious stick together. It only takes the whiff of an atheist for the ‘interfaith’ community to band together. And let anyone speak out about the Islam of the Islamic extremists and even moderate Muslims will come to Islam’s defence as much as agree with an atheist that there might be a problem with the religion.

Political Ideologies of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, …

Whenever an atheist argues with Christians or Muslims, it’s not long before we get the Hitler, Stalin, Fascism, Nazism, Communism line thrown at us. And no matter how often it’s pointed out that this isn’t a valid argument, it still keeps on coming. Often from the same people that have had this pointed out before.

Political ideologies can of course cross boundaries of Atheism-Theism. Christians can be socialists. In the 70s it was quite common for Islamists to lean towards socialism … maybe they hadn’t realised how far right Islam really is … or maybe they did.

And, Hitler was not an atheist. He might not have favoured the established churches that opposed his thugs, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t religious. Many Nazi ideas were based on the old Teutonic ideals of the religiously motivated knights.

Communism? Don’t think that political ideology stops you believing in a personal god … it just becomes less convenient and maybe a little dangerous to admit to one.

These political ideologies tell us little about the wide variety of atheists. The Atheism that some political ideologies might embrace informs the ideology with nothing other than there is no evidence for any god.

Religious Political Ideologies

Some political ideologies are religious ones.

And most religious ideologies are political – they are inherently so because they dictate the behaviours of people, and that’s a very political thing to do. And they usually have a lot to say on social issues … not all good. Homophobia, sex outside marriage, modesty, … religions can be obsessed with sex.

It is possible to believe in a religion and treat it as an entirely personal belief system, that determines how you live your own life, without you making any claims about what it implies for anyone else.

But this is rare. Most religions, and especially religious organisations, are very keen on telling: religious believers how they should act; non-believers that they are anything from misguided to evil; the religious what they should do to the non-believers: killing apostates, bombing abortion clinics, punishing people for blasphemy (the modern version is imprisoning people for ‘hate speech’).

Christianity, as supposedly dictated by Jesus, is a “render unto Caesar …” kind of religion – a reasonable basis of separation of church and state. However, the Catholic church in Rome put a swift stop to that. Christianity, especially through many bishops and popes, made state business very much church business. The US continues this tradition by distorting the intentions of the founding fathers and making it the godly nation the founding fathers tried to avoid – they’d seen enough of that BS in Europe.

Islam is very specifically, inherently, by design, a political ideology. Only Muslims can hold certain offices of state. Muslims and non-Muslims are taxed differently.

Many Muslims will try to pull a fast one by telling you that Islam insists that Muslims follow the laws of the the land in which they find themselves … where Muslims are a minority that does not hold power. But Islam also requires Muslims to spread Islam … which means it would eventually become a majority. This is why many opponents of Islam also oppose too much immigration from Muslim countries.

Of course many Muslims don’t want a dominant Islam any more than non-Muslims do. Many escape the domination of Islam of their homelands, and are quite happy to live in secular democracies where they can practice their religion in peace.

But then we also see a lot of duplicitous language from supposedly ‘moderate’ Muslims that think homosexuality should be illegal, and make excuses for their more extreme brothers and sisters (“Nothing to do with Islam”).

In Europe the atheists and secularists have been opposing the power of the church for centuries, letting the humanistic principles take precedence. There’s still plenty of religious protectionism that goes on – a refusal to give up the reigns of power, as diminished as they are. Why the heck to Bishops get seats in the UK House of Lords – and why is there even such an unelected house still?

But I’ve seen, and heard much more, of the stranglehold religion has in some parts of the US, where the mark of a good plumber is whether he’s a good Christian or not. “In God We Trust” – indeed they do.

So, religions are political, and as such are as fair game as any non-religious political ideology.

And being offended when religions are criticised is just one more political tool the religious try to pull. It may be a genuine feeling; but it has moral weight.

And so the religious, realising that atheists tend not to be impressed by the special pleading for the religion, that atheists aren’t taken in by the piety, the hurt feelings, what are the religious to do? Compare their religion to atheism? They can’t. They are not comparable.

Humanism

You can’t really compare Atheism with your religion.

You can compare Atheism with Theism, if you’re talking only about the philosophy, reason, evidence, to support either case.

But you can’t compare Atheism as such with Christianity or Islam. Yes, I know that atheists argue against Christianity and Islam, but they do so on two quite separate grounds:

1 – A disagreement with the underlying theistic claims of your religion. If your religion relies on a claim that there is one or more gods, and there isn’t, then 2 is irrelevant. But, we humour you anyway and so …

2 – A disagreement with the moral assertions that you think your imaginary god has prescribed. It’s not like we disagree with all your moral positions, we just hold them for different reasons, for which we don’t need an imaginary god.

The thing is, Atheism prescribes no moral position whatsoever. It really is merely the rejection of your unsubstantiated claims about your god.

And this, of course, leads to another failure to understand atheism: “Atheists have no morals. They are nihilists.” Not so.

We have morals. We just don’t think some imaginary friend dictates them; and we very specifically reject many of the immoral codes that gods supposedly do dictate.

Many atheists find other reasons for their morality – many simply acknowledging that harming others isn’t nice. People and animals don’t like to suffer harm, so we prefer to minimise that. It seems a very simple idea, but it’s amazing how far you can go with just that basic starting point. And it also avoids the need to punish people for daft reasons – like having sex outside marriage, for not being heterosexual, for drinking, for eating pork, for working on the Sabbath.

[In the UK the Shops Bill 1986 was defeated; the Sunday Trading Act 1994 eventually introduced limited Sunday trading … so strong was Christianity’s hold over British life. Now we’re finding we have to start again, with Islam.]

Many atheists want to live by their own moral ideals, and many collect these ideas about living a moral life into a set of codes. It’s not that these codes are necessary, but they are helpful in declaring some minimal set of behaviours we agree to abide by.

And one example of such a code is the Humanist Manifesto. Take a look at it. You’ll find no diktats about women being lesser than men, or how to deal with the evil of homosexuality, or what the best way is to kill apostates. Humanists don’t have to look for ‘nuance’ and ‘scholarship’ to explain away inconvenient passages ‘revealed’ through some dessert warlord or hippy.

So, if you want to carry out any comparisons I’d suggest you try these:
– Atheism vs Theism
– Humansim vs Christianity, Islam, …

You might find that many atheists tell you they don’t belong to Humanism, because they would rather not belong to any group that sets their ethical standards for them, as they can figure it out for themselves. They have a point. We are free to decide our own moral codes, and put them to the test in our societies.

My personal subscription to Humanism is one of convenience, and support for many of the programs of Humanists UK (formerly British Humanist Association).

Other atheists might join other groups of common interest, such as the many secular societies around the world. Ex-Muslims have a shared experience that brings them together in various groups – often with the added benefit of providing a safe community to those ex-Muslims that are still at risk from their families.

This brings us back to another issue of comparison. The next time you’re arguing with atheists on Twitter, they are unlikely to be Nazis, so when you pull the “What about Hitler, Stalin ..” it’s a Straw Man. If you want to argue for your religion, why don’t you try coming up with good reasons for it, not excusing the bad stuff by dragging in some irrelevant comparison.

And for pities sake, give up on trying to defend the indefensible. Your religious texts are full of ancient stuff that really doesn’t stand up to our moral standards today. Some religious passages are outright contraventions of the human rights that most people would want to sign up to. Stop defending that shit with ‘nuance’ and ‘scholarship’ – it makes you look like damned fools that’s fooling no one but themselves.

Atheist Terrorists

And that atheist killer you want to call a terrorist because you’re sick of hearing about Islamic terrorists? Could be they are genuinely crazy, or have some motive other than their hate for religion.

And even if they carried out the heinous act because they hate religion and the religious, there’s no Atheist Bible, and nothing in the Humanist Manifesto to suggest they should, unlike your religious books. Not even The God Delusion, Letter to a Christian Nation, or any of the new Atheist books.

If some killers that are atheists really are killing for atheism, there’s nothing in atheism, or Humanism, that can be removed that would stop them. There are no doctrines we can reject. There’s no “Believers are children of Satan” sermons going on. Pointing out the problems with religion doesn’t automatically create Atheist Killers.

But, hey, if someone has a terrorist agenda, against believers, for atheism, then pretty much all humanist atheists will oppose them. I’ll happily denounce any such terrorists. But I won’t be able to point to any atheist texts that has incited them. I can only point to Humanist texts that are very short and very explicit in their opposition to doing harm.

The Humanist Manifesto is so clear in rejecting doing harm to others there’s no way you can mistakenly or otherwise derive some crazy idea that it’s a good idea to kill believers.

This cannot be said of the books of Christianity and Islam. Alongside all the lovey stuff is some seriously dark and immoral doctrine.

Look, if you want to call some atheist killer an atheist terrorist, knock yourself out. Any disagreement from atheists will be on a technicality, not for some fear of having to explain away our inconvenient texts. Let me help you out with A Guide To Terrorists For Idiots.

Harvey Drowns Nazis, Yet Still, Je Suis Charlie

Here we go again. Satire. Wasted on idiots.

Fox: French magazine Charlie Hebdo mocks Harvey victims as neo-Nazis

Hebdo-NaxisOfHarvey

NO. IT. DOES. NOT. It mocks Nazis [and, as I too missed, on first writing, it mocks some of the liberal commentary on how deserving conservative Texan’s might be, which I hadn’t seen – see Areo link later]

It is not mocking all victims of Harvey. It is not claiming all victims of Harvey are Nazis.

Idiots are doing 2 + 2 = 5 again. Reading their own interpretation into a simplistic view of Hebdo.

Hebdo is anti-Nazi.

Aryan Brotherhood of Texas is a neo-Nazi organisation.

Bayou Knights of the Ku Klux Kla is present in Texas.

Hammerskins were formed in Texas.

Resistance Records is headquartered in Texas.

Now, you might want to bear in mind that this next link is based on the notoriously dodgy SPLC, but according to them there are about 55 ‘hate groups’ in Texas – and even allowing for SPLC bias and lies, that would still likely leave a few.

About the only real complaint one could make about the Hebdo piece is “Too soon!” But topicality, satire, irreverance, is their thing.

A question: Is Hebdo’s message any worse than the many religious people in Texas thanking God for their survival, while ignoring their imaginary friend’s failure to protect Texas from the storm? Or that Texans deserve the ‘biblical’ flood?

Update: On these other aspects of the meaning of the cover, and how Hebdo’s satire operates – recommended reading: What Charlie Hebdo Can Teach Us About the Nature of Satire

Anyway, even if ‘tasteless’ is an appropriate description, the typical hysteria around Hebdo, which is based on past misrepresentations that have created this image of Hebdo the Haters, is misplaced.

To help you understand Charlie Hebdo: http://www.understandingcharliehebdo.com/about-charlie-hebdo/

My previous Hebdo links:

Headless May, Yet Still, Je Suis Charlie – Including how Hebdo explain themselves

Amatrice Pasta, Yet Still, Je Suis Charlie

 

 

 

Left, Right: Marching In Step With Your Enemy

Beware! Nazis!

Nazi Germany was built in part on fantasy propaganda, of an idillic Europe of kings, knights, glory and honour. They turned a grimy bloody history that makes Game of Thrones look glamorous into a Disney fantasy. They rewrote history in order to give meaning and righteousness to their terrible regime.

Along with the imagery created to invoke that past was the dark side of National Socialism. Like all inflexible ideologies it had to resort to violence to achieve its aims – because, of course, not everyone agrees with your ideology, no matter how good it sounds to you. When you’re an ideologue and you insist people must accept your way or the highway, then by any means necessary starts to sound justifiable.

Immediately after WWII, West Germans and their new friends and allies, Western Europe and the USA, conspired to re-write history once again. The spectre of Nazi Germany was obliterated, buildings demolished, had they survived the war, … and, statues toppled. All was good, and West Germany rose to become a civilised western democracy.

Beware! Fascistic Anti-Fascists

In the 1960s West Germany the new generations started to question their nation’s history, and the roles their parents played in it. Naming and shaming – doxxing today – and divisions among families seemed to be necessary. But it didn’t stop there.

As events continued into the 1970s The Red Army Faction arose as a terrorist group.

These far left activists hated of Nazis, naturally. And they noted that many people running the state were of that Nazi generation. This helped convince them that because the state would not do what they wanted them to do, violence to achieve one’s political goals was entirely justifiable – just as it was for the Nazis in their early days.

Punching Nazis was very popular, and before long, when people still refused to listen, they started to blow up and kill people. The political cause is all that matters, the methods, not so much.

Stefan Aust, author of Der Baader Meinhof Komplex:

World War II was only twenty years earlier. Those in charge of the police, the schools, the government — they were the same people who’d been in charge under Nazism. The chancellor, Kurt Georg Kiesinger, had been a Nazi. People started discussing this only in the 60’s. We were the first generation since the war, and we were asking our parents questions. Due to the Nazi past, everything bad was compared to the Third Reich. If you heard about police brutality, that was said to be just like the SS. The moment you see your own country as the continuation of a fascist state, you give yourself permission to do almost anything against it. You see your action as the resistance that your parents did not put up.

[my emphasis]

Were all Germans WWII really Nazis? Were Germans, whether Nazis or not, aware of the genocide? What could they have done? The pre-Nazi state was weak. Rule of law was nothing like that of Western Europe today (even as bad as it is today).

Does guilt by association sound familiar? It should do. How many people have you seen labelled as Nazis that are barely right of centre? How many generally left of centre people have you seen labelled ‘far-right’?

The Adam Curtis BBC programme, The Living Dead, 1995 (an almost prescient perspective) [currently here, but may change]:

Screenshot 2017-08-19 14.46.10

 It was complete confrontation. One part of the people against the other. … I had begun to realise, fighting against the state, by armed groups, with this revolutionary strategy in mind, was to bring up the fascistic tendencies, not only of the political class, but the people too. We ourselves became in the same way fascistic as the fascists were. We didn’t realise, our enemies, our opponents, were human beings. This is what is in the heart of fascism. The oppression of other meanings of the political opposition. And oppression means elimination. By killing.

– Horst Mahler, Red Army Faction [Adam Curtis film]

[my emphasis]

Now, remind me again what the limits of violence are for Yvette Felarca and By Any Means Necessary. Tell me where the punching of perceived Nazis stops. With a bike lock? Tell me when you decide to become what you oppose.

You might want to think of someone you know when you read Mahler’s words here. Dan Arel came to my mind.

Fascism is a component in all of us. … We have a picture of ourselves. We want to be good. We want to be human creatures. But we are a contradiction, in ourselves. We don’t know how to handle this contradiction. We don’t know how to live with this evil part in ourselves.

– Horst Mahler, Red Army Faction 

The words of Horst Mahler should be sounding alarm bells particularly when you realise the direction he went in. Here’s the top of the Wiki page about him:

Horst Mahler (born 23 January 1936) is a German former lawyer and political activist. He once was an extreme-left militant and a founding member of the Red Army Faction, but later became a Maoist before switching to Neo-Nazism. Between 2000 and 2003, he was a member of the far-right National Democratic Party of Germany. Since 2003, he has repeatedly been convicted of Volksverhetzung (“incitement of popular hatred”) and Holocaust denial and served much of a twelve-year prison sentence.

[my emphasis]

From far left to far right looks incredible like a sprung switch, a flip-flip, with no hanging around in the centre ground to re-think one’s ideology.

Socialist – Fascist Common Ground

This is the path taken by fascist Mussolini: a member of the Italian Socialist Party, who couldn’t get his way, and moved on to use fascistic means to do so, creating the national Fascist Party, coining the term ‘fascism’ in doing so.

While the ‘left’ v ‘right’ is often thought of in terms of in terms of collectivism v individualism, the German Nazis and Italian Fascists were clearly collectivists in their national ‘socialism’ and their national ‘fasci‘ (bundle).

One main distinction between revolutionary left ideologies like Communists, Anarchism and the Fascists and Nazis amounts to how they see their particular struggle, how they perceive the solution to the problems they see, and who are the people causing the problems.

The ‘left’ collectivism is a class war that divides a nation on class, but can still portray itself as nationalistic when defending a Communist state in face of anti-Communist opposition. Appealing to nationalism, Mother Russia for example, is useful when it works, especially when purging the state of enemies and undesirables that threaten the state, and hence the people.

The ‘right’ is a nationalism that uses socialism to unite the people against the state’s enemies, without or within. Appealing to the socialism of the ‘folk’ and their nation, The Fatherland for example, is useful, especially when purging the state of internal enemies and undesirables that threaten the state, and hence the people.

The Socialists/Communists and the Fascists/Nazis ideologies are very similar politically, and in the way they suppress opposition by the use of violence. [here – h/t @SamWhiteTky]

As are theocracies (*cough* Islam).

The internal enemies often turn out to be the Jews (*cough* Islam) and the Intellectuals – and the intellectual Jews are often right out of luck. Other ‘peoples’ like the Poles were a common target too. And anyone else that gets in the way. Because, of course, when your ideology is right and you know it’s right, killing for it doesn’t seem too much of a problem.

Another issue that distinguishes them is racism, at least superficially. The hyper-nationalism of Nazi Germany, when immigrant populations were much smaller, made it easy to identify other races as a problem. But racism is present in most cultures, if not all, so it can’t be ruled out under Socialism, where again the Jews are still targets.

Isn’t it odd that the left tend to support Palestinians, and the terrorist Hamas, with much anti-Semitism disguised as anti-Zionism. For parties like the UK Labour Party, that claim to be egalitarian, where does this racism come from? Perhaps Horst Mahler is right – there’s a bit of the fascist in us all, and even your party’s stated principles can’t erase it in those that can’t help expressing it.

So now, tell me again why you think that the Nazis and AntiFa/BAMN are poles apart. There are simply too many parallels here to dismiss the similarity between the current street violence and the support for the punching of Nazis in the 1960s Germany. The Germans at least had parents who could have been real-deal Nazis.

Berkeley, Charlottesville and Beyond

And here we are. A decade and more of political correct ideological propaganda. The requirement to choose a side, in order to be on the right side of history, is raising its nasty duplicitous head again.

Charlottesville had some neo-Nazis attend a rally, but many of the people there were not genocidal ‘final solution’ people. Or so they say –  but then unless you’re an actual mind reader, you can’t assert they are genocidal: you’re playing rhetorical games, and  you are not in a position to refute their denial of being Nazis, without evidence. And if there are genocidal people there, they aren’t giving you the evidence.

By all means take sides. I certainly do. I’m opposed to all those that marched on the side of the alt-right, even those that don’t consider themselves to be alt-right:

  • Neo-Nazis – Well, obviously. Whatever the political origins of the German Nazis, the Italian Fascists, even if they have similarities with Socialism, they descend into xenophobic hatred that demonises others for who they are, not for what they choose to believe or do.
  • White Supremacists – Well, obviously. White (Black, Brown, …) Supremacy is one of the dumbest ideas still being perpetuated. It’s so stupid it’s on a par with Young Earth Creationism as an intellectually defunct idea. Those that present themselves as White Supremacists are some of the least supreme examples it.
  • White Separatists/Nationalists, Identitarians – This is the supposedly egalitarian version of White Supremacism – though it’s just as dumb. There’s no explicit claim to white supremacy, just some poor reasons for thinking the world would be better if the ‘races’ lived apart. Of course it’s based on the same nonsense as white supremacy, and it’s not clear how many in these groups are not in fact white supremacists looking for an easier ride – but we must avoid mind reading, because we can’t do it … evidence!
  • Poor beleaguered white boys – Yes, I know there’s a current taste for ‘white people’ comments, claims that all white people are racist and non-whites can’t be. This is as dumb as white supremacy and deserves the same treatment: derision, laughter, evidence to the contrary. But come on, do you really need a tiki light vigil?

Yes, alt-right, I know it’s about statues too. But, come on. I get the point. Nobody is tearing down the pyramids because they were built by slaves. But this is closer to home, and the Confederate flag is a bit of a give-away. You’re not doing it for historical reasons.

I’m not on the side of these people when it comes to supporting their ideologies. I oppose them and support criticism of them. I support counter-protests, generally (though more can be said on how to better organise and police that).

What I don’t support is the street violence, of the pre-emptive punching of ‘Nazis’. The AntiFa crowd went to Charlottesville ready for and intent on violence. They, with a little help from the Mayor, provoked the alt-right protesters into violence. Yes, factions of the alt-right came armed too – but what do you expect given AntiFa’s recent history:

Screenshot 2017-08-19 16.12.19

Remember this? At Trump’s inauguration, while other protesters were screaming and crying in over dramatic outrage, the AntiFa thugs were smashing up windows Washington’s businesses, and burning this limo. It was owned by the Nationwide Chauffered Services LLC From Alexandria, VA – run by Muslim Omar Ash. Ooops! AntiFa are racist, by the measure of what they and many others deem to be racism: when a Muslim is a victim of hate or when Islam is criticised.

If you’re still not sure about AntiFa, try this. Not surprisingly they started in Germany.

ANTIFA | Activists or thugs?

Time to Choose

  • “We must choose a side” – If the two sides on offer are in the wrong, then I choose neither of them. I will choose to criticise both.
  • “They are not equivalent – one is worse than the other.” – No, they are not. On the matter of street violence AntiFa have been consistently worse. On political ideas I’m still not in favour of either, but even less so the racist side.

By the way, have you noticed how this comparison of evils is now an OK thing to say, but not when comparing Islam and Christianity?

Watch the Adam Curtis film and consider some of the issues raised there. We may want to choose sides, and we may think we are on the right side. That doesn’t give you licence to engage in the fascistic activities you are claiming to oppose.

Free Speech

The far left don’t want to protect free speech particularly, and the far right only want it for their own purposes.

The problem with Nazi Germany wasn’t the free speech of the Nazis. It was their violent crushing of the free speech of others.

The problem with Stalinist Russia wasn’t the free speech of the Stalinists. It was their violent crushing of the free speech of others.

The ideas that these ideologies are based on are simply dumb. They are easy to challenge. That’s why they have to use violence to defend or promote them,
and attack others that oppose them.

They all employ or employed street violence BY their supporters to crush opposition. Whenever they take power they use the state machine to promote propaganda and crush dissent.

A civil society need not fear free speech, if it upholds the law against violence and terrorism that opposes free speech

 

 

You Should Read The Quran – Really? Why?

I’m often told, “You Should Read The Quran.” – Really? Why? Islamic specialism seems to presume I’d be enlightened by one particular holy text, but not by others.

I’m an atheist that doesn’t see any merit in holy books that claim to be inspired by or revealed by imaginary friends. I don’t swallow the presuppositional existence of a deity that such inspiration or revelation demands. There are just too many religions, and sects within religions, to make ANY of the claims credible – and there is NEVER any evidence to back up the claims.
Continue reading You Should Read The Quran – Really? Why?

Headless May, Yet Still, Je Suis Charlie

I’m sure Chalrie Hebdo staff must feel that Sisyphus had it easier than this. Having to explain Charlie Hebdo, again, and again, …

I made an attempt a while ago: Amatrice Pasta, Yet Still, Je Suis Charlie, when the Italian victims were on the cover but the target was Italian politics.

This time the images are of London victims fleeing ISIS, and Theresa May, head under her arm.

CH is not mocking the victims but those that contribute to the creation of victims. CH asks you to think. The image is the shock that makes you question. But if you just look at the image and jump to your own simple conclusions based on that alone, it is YOU that is failing to think.
Continue reading Headless May, Yet Still, Je Suis Charlie

My Problem With Islam

I have been asked by a ‘liberal’ friend, “What’s your problem with Islam?”

I now have to put ‘liberal’ in scare quotes because the word no longer means what one might expect it to mean. I consider myself to be a liberal: a secular liberal democratic atheist Humanist sums up my political persuasion.

That I have to spell this out today is pretty much entirely down to the matter of Islam. This is about why that is.
Continue reading My Problem With Islam

The White European Culture Fallacy

White supremacism! Eurocentrism! Murticulturalism! Endorse, deplore, assert, denounce any of these, vociforously, emotionally? Want to promote freedom and equality without stumbling over these dilemmas? Read on.

Richard Spencer is an ‘Identitarian’ in his terms; a white separatist; white nationalist; whatever he wants to call it, it’s about being white. This is a fallacy, because what we really value, what Spencer pretends to value, is not whiteness, or anything associated with the rather poor attribution of being white. His is really an ancient tribalism, something that we acknowledge the human race went through naturally, but not something that’s worth hanging on to.

The origins of the ‘Identitarian movement‘ suggest something more specific than being white, but less general than some of the values we might want to endorse. The specificity of the ‘white’ aspect arose in opposition to the perceived non-white Islamification of France. However, it erroneously conflates a difference that matters, culture, with one that does not, ethnicity.

When Spencer uses the qualifier ‘White European’, he’s doing so to pretend to loftier things, but he’s really about nothing more than base tribalism.

What’s worth valuing is something else other than racist ‘whiteness’; or even anything specifically ‘European’, despite Europe being the most localised origin of what we do value … and here I presume ‘we’ value freedom and equality, though I recongnise some do not.

Continue reading The White European Culture Fallacy

Analogies Misunderstood – The Pope and Hitler, and Others

There’s a common use of analogies as counter examples to some claim, that appear quite often on Twitter, but which are immediately misunderstood by one’s interlocutor.

You’re saying the Pope is equivalent to Hitler! How dare you compare them!

You might even be accused of falling foul of Godwin’s Law. Hitler is always a challenge in analogies. One use is to show that the Hitler case is so far from being equivalent that the analogy should show the statement its being compared to to be false or unreliable in its claim. Sadly, most people read equivalency.

Here’s what happens …
Continue reading Analogies Misunderstood – The Pope and Hitler, and Others

Biggest Threat – Islamism or Far Right? Trick Question – Islamism is Far Right.

My previous post had a dig at an article by Julia Ebner of Quilliam. I still support Quilliam’s efforts, even though they went hyperbolic over Tommy Robinson’s (typo alert) crass stunt, which in turn was a response to the hit job by Julia.

This post might be damning them with feint praise too, but I do agree with Adam Deen’s HuffPo piece:

The Emergence Of Meta-Jihad: Why Defeating Isis Won’t End The Plague Of Terrorism
Continue reading Biggest Threat – Islamism or Far Right? Trick Question – Islamism is Far Right.

Julia Ebner’s Hit Job – Is Everyone Far Right?

This is about a piece from Juila Ebner in the Guardian:

The far right thrives on global networks. They must be fought online and off – Julia Ebner –  Nationalists across the world are sharing knowledge and reinforcing messages of hate. The fightback begins with social media companies, and all of us.

It sounds like (look at the url) it’s about getting the social media companies to tackle hate speech. But that begins to look like a thin disguise for a hit job … or perhaps the person being made example of is an unlucky target. That will depend on your perspective.

It’s also related to the spat between Maajid Nawaz and Tommy Robinson deepening, and Robinson’s attempst to interview Julia about the article, when he ‘stormed’ the Quilliam offices.
Continue reading Julia Ebner’s Hit Job – Is Everyone Far Right?

Justin Welby’s Easter, Dishonest or Dumb?

Justin Welby, Dishonest or Dumb? At least the latter has no moral implication for him – he can’t help it.

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Easter 2017 Sermon – Sunday 16th April 2017

Christian faith starts with One who literally (that misused word) rose from the dead.

So much for the hard work of all those sophisticated theologians (h/t Jerry Coyne) that have been trying to dissuade people from reading books like The God Delusion by Dawkins, “because nobody believes it that literally”.

Literal belief is literally real.

And the depths of irony in Welby’s ‘that misused word’ has my head spinning. Here’s a summary of Christian theology

Jesus literally rose from the dead … allegorically … such that there’s no actual evidence that he did … and no real requirement to provide evidence … except that if you have faith, and believe it, it will be literally true …

And so the nonsense goes on like the endless Easter parades I used to watch as countless churches gathered and marched to bands.

Laid stone cold dead in Joseph’s tomb on Friday, on Sunday morning the tomb is empty, he is physically, bodily, tangibly alive. Why would we presume to know better than these first witnesses what took place?

Let me see …. because there were no witnesses? Because there is no evidence of witness to the death let alone any resurrection? Because a fourth century Emperor got tired of all the conflicting stories and with a bit of arguing and a game of eenie-meanie-miny-mo (there’s as much evidence of that as there is of the resurrection) chose which fairy tales would make the least implausible gospels?

Welby knows damned well how flaky Christian history is. He knows damned well that none of the gospels represent a true interpretation of what little biblical ‘original sources’ exist.

It happened: the witnesses are those who met him. Today the calling of every Christian is to be a witness to the Resurrection.

Let that sink in. “Today the calling of every Christian is to be a witness to the Resurrection” As much a ‘literally happened’ witness as any original person that happened to live around the time Jesus is supposed to have died and been resurrected … by himself.

How do you do that, resurrect yourself, when you’re dead without not really being dead, as in dead dead, not an undeadable deity pretending to be dead? God did it? But Jesus IS God? Miracle! Maybe Harry Potter is literally true by the same sort of miracle.

The idiocy of Christian belief is palpable – and a damned sight more literal than the theological nonsense.

In our reading from Acts, Peter speaks of events that are only a couple of years in the past … It was a testimony easily checked, easily dismissed.

No it is not easily checked. This is an utter lie. There is no way to check that. Even if there were multiple records that were used as evidence that Peter actually said what he is supposed to have said, that would be no verification whatsoever that what he said was true – it would be hearsay, nothing more. Likewise Josephus, that supposed ‘witness’ to Christian truths that merely told us what Christians were telling someone else. Hearsay!

We are used to facts being contested. We are even used to facts being reduced to the level of opinion. So individualised are our news cycles that our opinions are in themselves the only facts that seem to count. However, what brings the faithful out to worship in Tanta and Alexandria is truth. It happened. The resurrection is an event which – although never experienced before or since – changes everything because it happened.

This is an unbelievably stupid thing to say. It happened because Welby and a bunch of other gullible or dishonest people proclaim that it did. He has nothing else.

Events claimed to be fact are reduced to opinion when there is no evidence to support the claim that the events took place. Just as in the case of the resurrection, or the cruciFICTION, or most other stories about Jesus. So many are so obviously trumped up they out-trump Trump.

You know what this bit is …?

However, what brings the faithful out to worship in Tanta and Alexandria is truth. It happened.

That’s an infant mind throwing it’s toys and stamping its feet because it can’t have its own way. That’s all that is. It really is that childish a statement, especially in the context of the paragraph as a whole.

 

We atheists often point out how Islamism, the politicised Islam, is actually plain old Islam, because Islam is a political religion. But next we have Welby making the political claim for Christianity:

Yet it was not on the lists of important dates for me to learn at school. It is not in the politics text books, although it defines the aims and ends of politics. It is not in the economics lessons, although economics is transformed by it. It is not in the geography courses, although human geography was changed more by this than any event that has ever happened. It is not on courses at military academies, although war and peace are judged by it.

He’ll be asking to ‘teach the controversy’ of of Design over Evolution next, the dimwit.

Bear that in mind when political leaders that are religious tell you they are ‘informed’ by their religion but don’t let it interfere with their politics. Looking at you, Tim Farron, my dear leader of the Liberal Democrats. [I may be a bit harsh on poor old Tim, but I’d rather keep imaginary friends right out of politics.]

And talking of political Islam, here’s Welby’s back stabbing ode to it … inter-faith respect, my arse.

The greatest mystery is that the greatest event went almost unnoticed and spread to conquer the known world without drawing a sword, without taking a life, winning an election or starting a campaign.

Welby headed his sermon with references to St George’s church Tanta and St Mark’s church Alexandria, sites of Islamist killing of Christians. No such barbarity from Christianity! … except …

Actually, it’s no mystery that the ‘greatest event’ went almost unnoticed. It didn’t happen. And neither is it a mystery that it ‘spread to conquer the known world without drawing a sword’, because of course swords were well and truly drawn in its spread, from the early Roman emperors converted to Christianity, through warring popes and kings and queens, and on through the western empires that that forced Christianity on the wider world. A bit like Islam really, just better at it … so far. Heads up!

At the resurrection the world did not merely shift, a new world emerged in embryo …

Funny that nobody noticed until many years later, with many twists to the tales. Just like a myth, really.

Consider the women; they thought death ruled, that despair had conquered, that stones could not be moved. They were wrong on everything. Death was conquered, despair fled, the stone was rolled away.

This is what the religious do. They feign doubt, talk about opinions, present objections as if unimportant, … and then go right on an act as if it’s all totally documented, triple signed and on record, with photographic evidence that has passed umpteen tests for photoshop trickery true.

Because God acted and raised Jesus everything is different: we know the truth about God, through the resurrection.

Stupid, stupid, stupid. Did I say stupid? This little circle is tighter than Jesus’s sphincter when the nails went in.

Look, you cannot have a supposed revelation (in a book, the word of a person, or the content of a myth) that claims to be the source of its own truth.

If  liar came up to you and said, “Hi, I tell the truth. I never lie.” And then a truthful person came up to you and said, “Hi, I tell the truth. I never lie.” How would you know which was telling the truth? How would you even know they were not actually both liars, if all you had to go on was that I told you one of them was telling the truth … you’d then be relying on me telling the truth too … and so it goes. This rhetoricaly BS from Welby is stupid … did I say that?

This is the holy book. Revealed by God. To the man. The man that is handing it to you now. A book in which it tells you that God is real, and that did the revealing, … a book that totally wasn’t made up by the man. … honest!

Stupid!

More on that topic … The Liar’s Holy Book – Your book, your god’s revelation, cannot contain the proof of the truth of its own claims. You have to presuppose a god that does the revealing; and a presupposition isn’t proof of anything, it’s you making shit up.

After a couple of paragraphs of more mumbo jumbo meaningless Alice in Wonderland prose, Welby comes up with this:

But be under no illusion, this is utterly counter to how the world runs itself, and so we live in the now of a world in which the resurrection has happened, and the not yet of a world where there is still evil.

Illusion? It’s not an illusion. It’s a fully fledged and taken flight of fantasy delusion.

But, the words Jesus says on that first Easter day he says to you and me now; ‘Do not be afraid’….

But of course there is no known record of Jesus having said anything.

There is only one finality: Jesus the crucified one is alive. … blah-dy-blah-dy-blah … joy and light in the face of suffering bullshit … blah-dy blah …  it happened, Jesus is alive.

“It’s True!”

Here’s Justin welby as a little girl explaining his theology:

 

Hope I’ve not hurt anyone’s feelings … except …

MeansSoMuch

 

 

 

Desperate Dan Arel the Duplicitous Man

This is the post where Desperate Dan makes his excuses and leaves the Patheos network:

The Danthropology blog is moving on

Yet today, I am here to announce I have decided to leave the Patheos network. This is a decision I did not come to lightly, but one I feel is the right next step for my career.

With that, I began to feel my writing didn’t fit on Patheos and I felt I was forcing myself to cover religion and atheist based issues when I didn’t wholly want to. Instead of faking my way through a blog on a network I love, I felt it was time to move on.

All so sweet and nice. Until you read his other perspective, expressed here:

When did online atheism get into bed with the neo-nazi movement?

It’s astonishing to watch the evolution of the atheist community online, mainly Twitter, move from liberal to alt-right conservatism.

Dan, this is idiocy. We’ve been here before with P Z Myers. Look what happened then.

desperatedanthestreeetfightingman

What’s going on with Dan?

 

The Three Stooges

Here’s the clue:

How prominent atheists are telling American rape victims they have “privilege” because at least they are not being forced to marry their rapist?

Let’s summarise the significance of this …

Dan has been taking some stick for his Nazi punching ways, and he doesn’t like it.

Eiynah (Nice Mangos) has been quite nasty about a few people, has been called out on it, and doesn’t like it.

Aki Muthal has been her usual snappy self, and has been called out on it, and doesn’t like it.

And these three, in their various ways, have become highly critical of a bunch of other atheists. Any such criticism is for them to make freely as they wish, and I’ve not seen anyone of note say or imply they should not. But I have seen people disagreeing with their take on a number of issues. And what you do see is the Three Stooges going hyperbolic when they are criticised in turn.

Let’s make these things clear:

  • It’s ok to criticise prominent atheists if you disagree with them.
  • It’s ok to criticise their critics in turn if you disagrees with their criticism.
  • If you throw your toys out of the pram and start claiming there are conspiracies against you because the ‘fan boys’ of the big names won’t let anyone criticise them, then you’re being a snowflake. Get over yourself.

That clue? That references a spat that grew out of the following:

Eiynah and Yasmine had a spat. Someone else questioned Eiynah’s authenticity (heaven forbid one’s history is actually questioned), and it blew up, with Eiynah being her usual reactionary self – she can dish out the criticism but doesn’t like it when it’s aimed at her. Eiynah, who has tried to use Yasmine, Faisal and Ali to discredit and disown Dave Rubin, and has tried to get Jerry Coyne to denounce and discredit Gad Saad, didn’t like it when Machael Sherlock made consiliatory noises – Eiynah didn’t like being associated with Yasmine … so blame Sherlock for even tghinking reconciliation might be possible.

Aki Muthal, who shoots from the hip at anyone who speaks out of turn, jumped in on Eiynah’s side. Could that have anything to do with her history with Lalo Dagesh? These things are hard to keep up with.

Then, Sherlock began to tweet about the plight of Dina Ali (#SaveDinaAli), and while his main thrust was in support of her, he pointed out how many western feminists fail to back Muslim and ex-Muslim women – this isn’t news, it’s been mentioned before, including by the Three Stooges.

Well, that was an opportunity for Aki to take a shot at Michael. And Michael made what amounts to a mean tweet. His point was valid, but not entirely appropriate.

And in that thread Dan makes his little contribution of hate for the ‘prominent’ atheists, following his run-in with Stephen Knight and others on his Nazi punching agenda.

Déjà vu?

Does this all look familiar? You bet it does. This is basically a re-run of an old movie: P Z Myers turning on New Atheists, supposedly on their misogynist agenda, with a bit of ‘ALL Muslims’ presumption read into tweets and posts. Myers began throwing unsupported accusations around willy-nilly – and this was already after a few preminary splits in his brand of ‘atheist activism’ because, well, they eat their own, don’t they.

While going through this it’s worth bearing in mind what’s already been said about the Myers view of the ‘atheist community’.

Atheism isn’t a singular community. Atheism really is ‘dictionary atheism’, merely not believing in gods and stuff. It’s therefore open to anyone who doesn’t believe in gods, be they far right, alt-right, liberal, far left or aliens from the other side of the galaxy. Or, indeed, Dan Arel, who, for all his claims to wish for a better sort of atheist has not been short on vitriolic hatred towards believers.

Is Myers Morally and Intellectually Bankrupt? – Is Dan? Read on.

Dan’s Perspective

It’s astonishing to watch the evolution of the atheist community online, mainly Twitter, move from liberal to alt-right conservatism.

 

It’s not the case that the ‘atheist community’ has moved to the right. It may well be that atheists from the right have become more open … but no, that’s not what Dan is talking about.

So much so, I have struggled to find the words to express how disgusting it has become.

How it has gone past criticizing religion and has almost fully embraced the alt-right and neo-Nazi ideologies of politicians as long as they hold anti-Muslim views?

How prominent atheists are telling American rape victims they have “privilege” because at least they are not being forced to marry their rapist?

Yet, I’m tired about writing about these racist fools. They will just demand evidence that Hitler was a racist, dogpile detractors on Twitter and then beg for Patreon donations.

Fully embracedalt-right and neo-Nazi ideologies? Where? When? This is so utterly rediculous even Dan’s friends must be face palming when they see this crap.

As anyone with half a brain might suspect, there’s a broad spectrum across ‘the right’, from right of centre libertarianism, through shades of conservativism, religious or atheist, on to the more conservative, and into the far right … but the thing is, these are not identities that are easy to pin down.

Someone can be religiously conservative, don’t drink, don’t do sex outside monogomous marriages, oppose abortion, and still be socially liberal in not requiring everyone else to conform to their beliefs, and might even support economic and political socialism. And, someone who is socially, economically and politically conservative, might be an atheist that wants a small government, individual responsibility and no significal social programs. This is not simply Nazis v anti-Nazis, whetever the binary limits of Dan’s tiny mind might be.

Telling American rape victims they have privilege? Not for being raped, but since there’s a hierarchy of oppression Sherlock’s tweet was simply more about mocking that, than aiming any abuse at a rape victim on the matter of being raped.

An insensitive tweet by Sherlock? Sure. But racist fool? Note how these are linked by implication here, yet are deniable. This is Dan’s schtick.

Further, note the disconnect here, between the points Dan is trying to string together.

Evidence of Hitler’s racism? Yes, we would demand evidence that Hitler is a racist, if he were accused of being one. What’s wrong with that exactly? I’ll tell you what’s wrong, in Dan’s eyes – presumption of guilty worthy of a punch is how Dan deals with Nazis …. but of course that presumes the said Nazi is a Nazi. Fortunately there is ample evidence that Hitler was a Nazi, and a racist.

Dogpiling? But what has Hitler got to do with dogpiling of detractors of the prominent atheists? And why does this dogpiling take place – if indeed it does? Could it be for the way the Three Stooges and others have been stalking these atheists, making entirely hyperbolic claims about them, misrepresenting them, … lying.

And the begging for Patreon accounts? Who’d do such a thing?

Dan Arel:

Eiynah:

The hypocrisy is astonishing to behold.

That’s what the online atheist community is now. It’s a neo-nazi cesspool of money hungry bigots with mediocre podcasts, half-assed blogs, and a Twitter following they think makes them famous.

This is nothing more than an acrid smelly brain fart. Dan’s just trumpeting vile insults. He’s got nothing else. This is what he is reduced to.

But if you want a bigot? Dan. Money hungry? Dan. Medocre half-assed blog? Look no further than Dan. Tell me, did he leave Patheos of his own free will, without the slightest nudge? “Just askin’?” (tribute to Cenk Uygur’s deniable ‘just askin’ and ‘just sayin’ questioning smear tactic).

Rape!

… the accused rapist Michael Shermer …

Whoa there cowboy Dan! Don’t get so desperate in a hurry, Dan. Look back at Myers. Read Nugent on that whole sorry claim by Myers. That little business about evidence? You’re going to need to back this up.

Oh, hang on, … “accused”. Ah, the get-out-of-libel ploy. So, who’s doing the accusing, Dan? You? I guess not. But if not, then is someone guilty merely by being accused? As you’ve been accusuing people of being Nazis? Or perhaps, like Myers, you’re prepared to accept accusations of guilt as guilt. Warning! This is what happened when Myers tried that.

PZMyers-ToxicStar

Seriously, Dan is a class-A fucking idiot. Has he learned nothing?

… out there blaming people of color for racism because they dare identity as a color that isn’t white …

Dan. These atheists you are targeting aren’t calling any POC a racist because that POC doesn’t identify as white. Some POC are being called racist for their racist views. It’s that simple.

This is because these atheists are more religious than the religions they fight against. Dawkins, Harris, Rubin, Maher, and Shermer are untouchable gods. Infallible.

This is right out of the Greenwald/Werleman/Uygur/Myers play book. I have NEVER seen any supporter of these atheists claim they are infallible. The supporters of these atheists do in fact disagree with them some times, but agree with a lot of what they say. What you do see are responses to BS from Dan and the other stooges that call THEM out on THEIR BS … and of course Dan and co don’t like it, have nothing left in their game but name calling.

My friends are running a campaign to #NormalizeAtheism and it’s a valiant effort and I fear it’s doomed to fail unless they can normalize non-racist voices quicker than these assholes are rising.

“My friends”? Which friends? Have you got any friends left? Have you seen the #NormalizeAtheism hashtag on Twitter? … surprise, there all about atheism and don’t make, support or even mention racism, because that’s a separate issue. Of ourse some atheists can be racists – atheism and racism are not co-dependent variables in human life – but not the named atheists Dan targets.

Here are some #NormalizeAtheism I don’t think Dan would approve of:

Yes, Dan, you are an asshole on Twitter. Confirmed.

I love being openly atheist. … At the same time, as I see atheists follow a path towards right wing lunacy (online at least), makes me understand those who refuse to use the label openly. It’s being destroyed by the likes of Sam Harris, Dave Rubin, and their cronies who will defend them at all costs.

If Dan cared to look before becoming so desparate he’d see that many people that oppose Dan and defend Harris, Rubin and others do also disagree with them sometimes.

These are the same people who continue to deny that Richard Spencer is a Nazi and argue against any attempt to silence his spread of a genocidal ideology.
Who would want to be associated with that mess?

They do this only in the context of Dan labelling every man and his dog a Nazi. They are in no way supporting or defending Spencer’s racist separatist ideology, and many expressly say so … and any idiot other than Dan would know this. I suspect Dan knows this too … he just doesn’t seem to know that he knows it. Danialism! We are not mind readers, so we rely on what people say and do. So far Spencer has not given any support to genocide as far as I can tell, and the atheists targeted by Dan would oppose that too if he did.

This is a major reason I left the atheist/nonreligious channel at Patheos and broke out on my own.

All alone. Nobody listens to his Nazi punching incitement any more. It must be tough being Dan, a loon, … sorry, ‘alone’, I meant ‘alone’.

I didn’t lose my mind, as many of these nazi apologist want to claim, …

So YOU claim. Many others seem to see it differently. I’m not taking bets on when Dan claims he’s the second coming of Jesus … an atheist Jesus of course.

I instead was pushed to be more vocal as they continued to amplify voices that promote racism, hate, and bigotry.

I didn’t move away from movement atheism, movement atheism moved away from me.

What we have seen is people opposing the street violence that Dan subscribes to. And we’ve also seen Rubin actually talking to people of a wide political spectrum. And we’ve seen Sherlock criticising liberal regressive feminists for their support for the hijab toting Linda Sarsour while they ignore the plight of women forced to wear the hijab. And we’ve seen some personal spats as the Three Stooges throw tantrums.

Nowhere have I seen any of these targeted atheists support fascism, Nazism, racism, misogyny.

Dan has totally lost the plot. Some people are glass half full people. Dan is a dig the hole deeper person. Don’t be Depserate Dan.

DanArel-DesperateDan

 

Etymology Man! Help!

A post by Jerry Coyne on an XKCD comic strip riminded me of a problem that keeps coming up: how labels are used to demonise, ostracise, and even to justify violence against people; and then to excuse the abuse of words for the greater good.

The following is an earlier comic strip from XKCD Comics. My interpretation here may have been covered elsewhere at the time it was published (though isn’t on the ‘explained‘ site), but I offer it now to explain the current related problem of how SJWs abuse words, and then deflect, by complaining of the relative insignificance of the etymology, when it’s their abuse of words that’s causing the problem.

etymology_man

I took the comic to be taking a swipe at any situation where an etymological discussion errupts while the real catastrophy proceeds to engulf the disputants.

This was used, for example, by some SJWs who complained that those citing ‘dictionary atheism’ where hung up on etymology while real social justice needed to be done. The problem was much SJW action is itself hung up on words – their abuse.

The Insanity* of the SJW

(* to abuse a word for effect).

As PZ Myers moved from New Atheist, to Atheism+, to whetever, denouncing each in turn (settling on the useless ‘our movement’) he was clearly, and in earlier guises explicitly, trying to create a movement, based on atheism, or the more general ‘Skepticism’. Of course we already have Humanism. When he started to demonise other atheists, specifically New Atheists, he needed to distinguish them from himself, and yet still make it an ‘atheist movement’. When his detractors pointed out his abuse of the term atheism he had a lot to say about how these ‘dictionary atheists’ were not helping. They were merely pointing out how it was PZ Myers and crew that wasn’t helping. Eventually the identity politics of Social Justice Warriorship started to go through one of its many implosions, until Myers lost it.

Identity politics relies very much on innapropriate use of labels to demonise and ostracise people … and often leads to the phnemenon of ‘eating their own’ … again an allusion from the Mantis that screws and eats its mates in the later  comic?

wrong_superhero

The self-destruction of ‘the movement’ as resulted in a few emissions from the Freethought Blogs community, and this was pretty much down to someone not being on-message, destroying their SJW credentials.

PZMyers-ToxicStar

A current incarnation surrounds the tendency of SJWs to label anyone to the right of them as Nazis when they are nothing of the sort – so we have Dan Arel advocating punching those he sees fit to be called Nazis.

Call out the SJWs on their abuse of words to the point of where they diminish all useful meaning in their advocacy of attacks on totally inappropriate targets, and their backlash is yet more of their hate. It’s more important to punch Nazis than to figure out who is actually a Nazi, and much less to question the morality of pre-emtive violence.

Deflection ensues as Dan accuses his critics of ‘supporting Nazis’.

Here’s the problem when you get to decide that Nazis deserve punching and you are the one deciding who the Nazis are:

nazis
h/t someone on Facebook, who may or may not be the originator.

In one sense the XKCD comic is criticising those dusputing the incorrect use of terms, in that they are focusing on useless etymology while the SJWs are doing their good deeds. That’s how SJWs see it.

But the real issue is that the SJWs are indeed in need of Etymology Man, who could have perhaps set them straight so that they don’t go on pre-emptive self-styled vigilante sprees. But, hey, what right has anyone to tell them who they should or should not label as Nazis? Free speech!

The importance of free speech, unencombered by a violent opposition (but opposition with speech is good), is a core issue for many liberals. But not for Dan and his ilk. Violence first, … ask questions later, or not at all. This how it often goes …

nazis-supportingthem

 

Real Advocates of Freedom

Here are some people that get it. And, their concern for the use of words plays an important part in explaining how they understand freedom.

The Secular Detective breaks down terms to get to their meaning and how they are used, and how even Nazis have the right to free speech.

On Punching Nazis and the Justifications of Violence

Maajid Nawaz, acknowedging the freedom of expression due to everyone, including Islamists and the Muslim Brotherhood.

My Open Letter To A Jailed Muslim Brotherhood Leader

Maryam Namazie and Sarah Heider do a great job here in trying to get across how terms like ‘safe space’, ‘no platforming’, ‘protest’ need to be understood in a context that benefits all, rather than letting these terms be used by ideologues to suppress freedom.

There’s a dignity to these writers and speakers, even in moments of frustration and anger, where they will not concede to the oppressive forces that demand that people be shut down, shut up, punched.

They in no way support or advocate for the views of their political opponents.

Sarah makes the point that no matter what your good intentions, shutting down free speech will lead to the most vulnerable being shut down. It’s a weapon that the powerful will use, if you submit to opposing free speech.

This isn’t to say people won’t disagree – they do. Plenty of people have criticsed Maryam on a number of points – her Communism, the removal of all borders, her spat with Sam Harris over something and nothing. But none of that detracts from the great work she does, at great personal risk. And this is part of the point. If on hearing Maryam on Sam’s podcast you were to write her off, you could very easily get carried along with her dishonest detractors and start retweeting things about here that smply are not true.

Words evolve. But if you abuse them by making them fit your own political agenda, and allow them to encompass people they really don’t apply to, the words become meaningless as descriptors and take on a role that is little more than a hate label for an out-group, and that then gives you tacit permission to demonise them and ostracise them,so you never actually get to hear what they say in their own words. Result: you end up spreading lies.

Let Them Speak

My personal feeling is that if you think you disagree with someone, first be sure you disagree with them: check out what they actually say. That means putting in some effort and not merely retweeting a false or out of context quote from years ago, that might not be the targets current position anyway. Letting your actual political opponents expose their views is the only way to find out what they are. The presupposition that you already know their views because someone you trust tweeted how bad they are doesn’t really cut it.

There’s a lot to be gained from letting people speak.

  • It’s not a matter of giving them a platform to spread ideas that you don’t want to spread. You get to point to their actual words that you disagree with.
  • You might find you don’t disagree with them as much as you expected.
  • You will find it exposes the lies of some people you thought were honest allies.

Over the last few weeks since he started his advocacy of violence, Dan Arel’s words have been captured for anyone to see. The hate filled comment columns of PZ Myers’ Pharyngula show him for the mean spirited hate monger he is. But both those characters have good sides too them, and I doubt any of those promoting full free speech would want them shut down.if they actually followed their own advice, they would be the very people meeting the criteria they think should be shut down – if only they had a modicum of self awareness.

Dan Arel Piece of Shit

Dan has been accused of labelling people a Nazi all too easily. That’s not fair. “piece of shit” is also a favourite label, which I discovered while looking for a tweet in which he called someone a piece of shit, for another post.

I’m not suggesting for one minute that Dan Arel is a piece of shit. I’m just admiring what Dan can do in 140 characters with a piece of shit … this might become a little repetative.
Continue reading Dan Arel Piece of Shit

The Loony Left Will Lose Violently

Dan Arel has been endorsing street violence. Supposedly only against Nazis, but when you can put that label on anyone it becomes a bit tricky. Street violence is a Nazi thing, so … think it through.

Dan’s moral position is lost. Violence is what we’re supposed to be against.

But there is a practical issue for Dan and SJWs generally, and anyone (what you’re Aunty Fa is getting involved for I can’t imagine) that thinks the sucker punch and the Berkley ‘riot’ is a good idea going forward.

A few pointers:

A Trump conservative state, with many highly weaponised police, and a military,

Hint:

… and a big portion of the Trump supporting public, a ‘malitia’ as they see themselves, including many vets, with guns, and the NRA on their side.

Oh, and Milo’s boss has Trump’s ear (and is maybe leading him by it).

Really? You think it’s a good idea? You make yourselves look like Nazis, and you think that’s smart?

The funny thing is you hear a lot of, “We defeated the Nazis before!” Mmmm, but a lot of the guys that defeated the Nazis didn’t do it with placards and the odd sucker punch. There are some seriously fit and beefy killing machines in the military (no offence, but I think some are pretty proud of their capabilites.)

And another one you hear, “Remember what we achieved the sixties!” Well them conservatives love their freedom. This isn’t about Vietnam, this is about their Homeland.

It would be the biggest damned mistake the Left in the US could make, to start endorsing violence.

Opposing Free Speech With Vigilante and State Violence

Dan Arel has been advocating vigilante violence against people HE perceives to be ‘Nazis’. Here’s one of his latest tweets.

No Dan, we’ve been opposing your jerking off and slobbering at the violent attack. I thought it was only Islamists and sociopaths that jerked off to watching people getting hurt.

Here’s another that seems unable to make simple distinctions – which is worrying among people that label others all too easily when there are violence advocates like Dan around:

No, we are not defending Nazism. You cannot possibly be that thick. Well, maybe, but I suspect you are being intentionally obtuse. You do realise in making such an assertion you basically give Dan’s bully boys the green light to get violent on our asses, right?

This is basically the Takfir of the Left: if you disagree with someone that has a different view, declare them apostates, or Nazis in this case.

This is part of a running battle that Stephen Knight has been having trying to knock sense into Dan’s thick skull. That’s a metaphor by the way, Stephen has been opposing Dan’s endorsement of actual violence, and his opposition to free speech.

But free speech is a selective right, it seems; and well, not he doesn’t confirm his opposition to violence but evades:

Even if JE doesn’t condone violence, isn’t advocating violence actually hate speech? Should Dan be prosecuted for his hateful tweets advocating violence against Spencer?

Can we get a definitive answer on the violence?

JE confirms he’s not with Dan on the violence, but I’m not sure his heart’s in the non-violence thing (as we’ll see):

So, JE is anti-free speech. It’s not the right of everyone. OK.

No answer. Why is it so difficult. If you are slective in who YOU think has free speech then you haven’t got a moral leg to stand on when actual Nazis or Islamic Caliphates take your free speech away. It’s like FAITH – anyone who thinks they have faith in their God and his demands that they should be peaceful doesn’t really have a come back to Islamic fundamentalists that want to kill apostates, because they have faith in Allah’s wish that this should be so. The peacefully faithful can try some basic humanism – but their faith already trumps human wishes, and humanism trumps the need for a god.

JE thinks that the crazy uncontrollable hate speech laws that have been introduced around the world are a good thing. I think he’s an anti-Constitutionalist.

But … but …

So, merely being a Nazi … National Socialism? Nationalism? White Nationalism? … it’s never made clear what the limits are of being a Nazi, it’s just a demonising word used against anyone to the right, although not against ultra conservative fundamentalist apostate killing Muslims – not all Muslim being that (caveat required to avoid recusrsive Nazi accusation). The term ‘Nazi’ is now as useless as ‘Islamophobia’ – it’s a term designed to silence others.

We’re ‘fam’ now?

But I guess he’s not an equal opportunity offender. Only Nazis. Correction, only those opponents one labels as Nazis, whether they are or not. And even if they were, Nazism

… the rabbit hole goes deeper …

What?! What the fuck?!

White Nationalists? Nazis? What’s the difference? Who cares. Dan’s Vigilantism or JE’s State Violence will do the job. And Muslims that think apostates should be killed? No answer.

Not happy with that …

That’s as good an excuse as any to abandon ship.

Of course someone had to come up with a Hitch quote. Spot on.

And …

And …

And …

twitterblocked-je

I think that was soon after posting this on Twitter. They are so full of shit.

Left Violence? Bad Idea!

This is both simple and fundamental. It’s not a difficult concept. Once you advocate violence against speech you open the door for anyone else who advocates violence against speech – including violence against your speech that advocates violence against speech.

The irony being that when we turn to it, it’s the Nazis that are going to be a damned sight better at it then the Left.

Dan and JE and those that follow their line are not doing themselves any favours. In particular Dan as said how he thinks it’s a good idea to give the ‘Nazi’s a bloody nose – that’ll teach ’em. Well he’s merely inviting the Right to up the ante…

I’M GLAD RICHARD SPENCER GOT PUNCHED IN THE FACE

It’s pretty unwise for the Left to be normalizing political violence given the way the wind’s blowing. It doesn’t take a genius to see that ours is the side with most of the guns, most of the veterans, most of the people who work out, and most of the people who can both execute and absorb a good solid punch. Our side avoids violence because we’re attempting to win a moral case. Our side avoids violence because the system’s itching for any excuse to crack down on us. Our side avoids violence for a lot of reasons, but fear of losing a fight isn’t one of them.

And then this was spotted:

I know JE has seen this, he retweeted it.

As much as I dislike Spencer’s views (and go and read the comments sections on posts on that site if you think his views are bad), violence is a losing game for the Left – morally and legally (ironically JE’s state violence will come after the Left if they continue). A Trump conservative state; with many highly weaponised police, the military, and from a big portion of the Trump supporting public, a ‘malitia’ as they see themselves, with guns.

The funny thing is you hear a lot of, “We defeated the Nazis before!” Well, think on, a lot of the guys that defeated the Nazis didn’t do it with placards and the odd punch. Them conservatives love their freedom. It will be the biggest damned mistake the Left in the US could make, to start endorsing violence.

Vigilante Violence and State Violence are what the moderate ‘Left’ has been fighting against. The far Left has always been authoritarian and not averse to a bit of thuggery, but Dan considers himself to be an SJW. This is not a good sign, Dan. You make SJW’s look like actual Nazis, rather than just autoritarian idiots.

I’ll give you an example of what’s idiotic about SJWs in this case. They are responding to Trump’s EO on entry from some countries and shouting about how the USA needs to be better than that; and when whataboutery is used to say, “What about ‘Muslim’ countries not allowing in Jews”, they rightly respond, “We’re better than that; we should not descend to their level.” But they don’t get that when sucker punching Spencer?

This is so important for opponents of racism, white nationalism, white supremecism,… Islamism … Islamofascism. We’ve got to get the criticism right, and we must not resort to violence.

Here’s where violence is reasonable:
– Self defence (even pre-emtive if there is a real imminent threat of violence)
– State control/restraint in response to illegal activity (without undue force)
– State violence by police (yes, I know there’s BLM issues to talk about)
– War (yes, I know, there are conversations about what acts of war are legitimate)

The above should be no more violent than is necessary. Want to talk about the atomic bombs dropped on Japan, fine. But this post isn’t about that.

This post is about pre-emptive violence vigilante style, and state oppression through violence, used against political oppoenents, in a lawful democratic liberal society. That doesn’t add up.

A World Without Down’s Syndrome?

There’s a very moving film made by Sally Phillips, one of Britain’s popular actors. Sally’s son Olly has Down’s Syndrome, and she’s made a BBC documentary about the wonderful life experiences of having a child with Down’s, and of the value he has for himself, and that which he brings to Sally and her family. It’s very moving. But it also makes a strong case for having children like Olly, and against a world without the condition.

The film is here, on the BBC: A World Without Down’s Syndrome? (BBC programmes are available for a limited time, so watch it while you can)

Thanks to others that brought this to my attention on a Lib Dems site. My response here is for them, but was too long to post directly.

Everyone owes thanks to Sally Phillips for this film. I disagree with some of the messages of the film, and below I refer to Sally and Olly in making my points. I don’t wish to disrespect either of them. All I can say is I am not saying anything that diminishes Olly’s or Sally’s value to themselves, or to the rest of the world.

My position is that there is some completely natural confusion around the subject, and that’s what I want to address here.  Continue reading A World Without Down’s Syndrome?

Lies, Damned Lies, and .. Political Rhetoric

Britain voted to leave the EU, and the 48% of British people that voted remain went all wobbly, then turned into hate filled monsters spewing fire in the direction of the 52% Brexiters, for the hate filled xenophobic racist bigotry some of the 48% perceive in them.

I’ve no way of knowing how many of the 48% have gone crazy with hate, but they are certainly loud. It really isn’t the end of the world for the UK, though you’d think it was from the rhetoric. Look at Aleppo. Remember two World Wars?

We’re damned lucky to live in Britain, even a Brexit Britain. We have to get over our disappointment and deal with it, whether it’s committing to the leave process or trying to persuade the nation to remain in the EU despite the referendum – not such a good idea.

But the haters, with their powder dry, primed and ready to blow, watched the Tory government hold their conference. Correction – the crazies watched and misrepresented, and the gullible lapped up the misrepresentations.

There is always room to criticise a government – none are perfect and there’s always room for improvement, and opportunities to take a different route. That’s what an opposition should focus on. The gross misrepresentations are plain dishonest and bring into disrepute the offenders themselves more than their targets.

Amber Rudd gave her conference speech, and despite the text of her speech being available, people seemed to hear things that weren’t said by Rudd, their Babel Fish translators set to Demonic.
Continue reading Lies, Damned Lies, and .. Political Rhetoric