Thoughts on the Embassy Attacks

As you've no doubt already heard, American embassies throughout the Middle East have been attacked by violent mobs in the last few days, ostensibly due to outrage over a YouTube video called "Innocence of Muslims" that lampoons the Prophet Mohammed as a blundering, deceitful fraud. At least one of the attacks, on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was apparently an organized assault by Islamic militants who wanted it to seem like a spontaneous mob action. But the violence has been too … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: August 12

Coffee

There's a lot of news this week: • Two examples of humanism in action: Charles Feeney, a billionaire philanthropist, plans to give away all his remaining money within a few years, and a new nonprofit helps to crowdfund DNA sequencing for children with rare genetic diseases. • Since we still have a lot of work left to do on this problem, here are two very good articles on sexual harassment: An Incomplete Guide to Not Creeping by John Scalzi, and a post on what "creepiness" means from … [Read more...]

Complicated Thoughts on Citizens United

At Netroots Nation last week, I attended a panel on Citizens United, the infamous case in which the Supreme Court tossed aside decades of campaign finance laws and ruled that corporations had the right to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections. This gives them an incalculably greater amount of power than before, and not just because corporations can spend in total secrecy, without disclosing the amounts or even the fact of their involvement to the public or even to their own … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: June 3

There are a couple of stories from this past week that I wanted to mention: • A three-judge panel on the First Circuit Court of Appeals, two of whom are Republican appointees, have struck down part of DOMA, ruling that it violates the Constitution for the federal government to deny benefits to same-sex couples legally married in their home state. • You may remember a notorious net kook named Dennis Markuze, who engaged in a longstanding campaign of harassment and threats against … [Read more...]

The Importance of Drawing Mohammed

As you may be aware, this past Sunday was Everybody Draw Mohammed Day, in which freethinkers are exhorted to draw pictures of Mohammed to reaffirm their right to free expression in the face of Islamist demands for censorship. I grant that there's room for debate over how much good this accomplishes directly, and some online commenters derided it as a waste of time, a juvenile attempt at provocation, or an act of pointless slacktivism. And if nothing had happened in response, they might have had … [Read more...]

The Nude Photo Revolutionaries Calendar

In November, I wrote about Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, the Egyptian student and atheist who posted nude photos of herself as a protest against Islamist suppression of women's bodies and voices. Her explanation of what she was seeking to achieve is so perfect, I have to quote it again:"Put on trial the artists' models who posed nude for art schools until the early 70s, hide the art books and destroy the nude statues of antiquity, then undress and stand before a mirror and burn your bodies that you … [Read more...]

The Continuing Battle Over Blasphemy Laws

I'm surprised to still be writing about blasphemy laws, but it seems the idea just won't die. At the United Nations this week, the elected leaders of newly democratic Egypt and Yemen called for restrictions on free speech, in addition to similar demands from Turkey and other Islamic-majority nations. Russia, too, is advocating for laws that would criminalize criticism of religion, saying that "the feelings of the faithful must be protected by the state" (HT: IHEU). Unfortunately this doesn't … [Read more...]

The Sphere of Permitted Ideas

This week, there's been a flurry of stories about Muslim groups trying to suppress criticism of Islam, both by law and by force. It's worth summarizing them briefly to show how these aren't isolated incidents, but parts of a larger and more disturbing trend. First up: I mentioned earlier the story of a campus secular group in London that came under pressure from Muslim students and the university union to remove this image from the webcomic Jesus and Mo from their Facebook page. (Muslims claim … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: January 14

• Here's the top story for this week: After Jessica Ahlquist's court victory over illegal state-sponsored prayer in her high school, she's been receiving a torrent of vicious hate mail and threats of violence, presumably from good and pious Christians who support prayer. Here are some of the most appalling; some of the threats were sufficiently serious that police are investigating them. This isn't a surprise, unfortunately - it almost always happens to atheists who speak up. As disgusting … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: November 5

On my old site, I had regular link roundups for all the stories I saw that interested me, but that I didn't have the time to write about at greater length. And I've had a lot of those stories this week, so here's some things to read over your Saturday morning coffee: • I've previously reported on whether the American Cancer Society turned down a big donation because it came from atheists. Now the redoubtable Greta Christina has written a lengthy follow-up piece for AlterNet, laying out the … [Read more...]


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