Single-Issue Lives: On Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Hero Worship

[Editor's Note: Please welcome guest blogger Andrew Tripp, author of Considered Exclamations and president and co-founder of the DePaul Alliance for Free Thought, a Secular Student Alliance and Center for Inquiry on Campus affiliate. I invited Andrew to write this post following a conversation we've been having intermittently, over Twitter, over e-mail and in person at Skepticon, over the last several weeks. I don't necessarily endorse all the conclusions in this essay - I'm still making up my … [Read more...]

Fighting War the Biblical Way

After several days, the fragile ceasefire in the latest iteration of Israel and Gaza's endless war is still holding. But while the bombs were falling, there was no shortage of voices calling for the battle to be escalated even further, like Gilad Sharon, son of the former Israeli Prime Minister, who wrote in an op-ed:"We need to flatten entire neighborhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza. The Americans didn't stop with Hiroshima - the Japanese weren't surrendering fast enough, so they hit … [Read more...]

The Age of Mockery

Although the initial riots and flare-ups of violence over the "Innocence of Muslims" video were over a month ago, the global battle over blasphemy laws is still raging. In London this week, thousands of Muslim marchers assembled outside Google's U.K. headquarters to demand the banning of ideas that offend them:Organiser Masoud Alam said: "Our next protest will be at the offices of Google and YouTube across the world. We are looking to ban this film. "This is not freedom of expression, there … [Read more...]

How Do You Start an Islamic Reformation?

Since my post on the U.S. embassy riots had so many good comments, I thought I'd write a sequel and continue the discussion. I'd like to offer some further thoughts about Ayaan Hirsi Ali's article in Newsweek, on the mindset of "Muslim rage" and what this violence means for the future of Islamic and Western civilization. In general, I agreed with the article (its awful, lazily prejudiced title aside [would anyone ever write about "Christian rage"?]), although there are some points where I think … [Read more...]

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...]

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...]

Weekend Coffee: March 17

There's a heap of news I didn't get to write about in greater depth this week, but all these stories deserve at least a look: • Remember the Anglican church, that blandly, Britishly polite bastion of modern liberal Christianity? So it turns out that they're officially against same-sex marriage. In a hilarious piece whining that they should get to vote on the rights of other human beings, Anglican homophobes also argue there should be no such thing as civil marriage in the U.K., that … [Read more...]

What I Really Think About Islam

We've been discussing Islam a lot on this blog in the past few days, and much to my amusement, I've seen two different commenters promoting diametrically opposite distortions of my position. One says that I'm a left-wing Israel-hater who has a soft spot for Muslim violence, the other that I'm a right-wing Islamophobe spouting reflexive anti-Muslim prejudice. Seriously, don't you love this? I never fail to get a good laugh from the ignorant people who are ready to leap to conclusions about a … [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...]


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