Free Speech on Trial, Continued

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Russia's increasingly hostile and repressive attitude toward speech which criticizes the state-sponsored church. Now another Russian artist is facing persecution: Mavromatti, 45, fled to Bulgaria in 2000 after the Russian Orthodox Church complained about a movie he was shooting in which he is crucified. He was accused of violating a criminal code that includes inciting religious hatred and denigrating the church, an offense punishable by as much as five years in … [Read more...]

Thoughts on a California Strategy

As you've surely heard by now, Judge Vaughn Walker issued a ruling last week striking down California's Proposition 8 on equal-protection grounds. You might also have heard that Argentina has legalized same-sex marriage and that a Mexican court upheld a marriage-equality law in Mexico City, rejecting a challenge by the conservative Calderon government. Of course, all three of these victories are cause for jubilation. The wins in Mexico and Argentina are particularly welcome, insofar as they … [Read more...]

Weekly Link Roundup

• Despite the good sense shown by the British Medical Association in lambasting homeopathy at their annual conference last month, the UK National Health Service has announced that it will still pay for water and sugar pills passed off as medicine. • A court in Utah has thrown out the rape conviction of Mormon cult leader Warren Jeffs, due to a legal technicality, and ordered that the case be retried. Texas is still seeking to have him extradited to face similar charges, so it seems … [Read more...]

Weekly Link Roundup: Net Drama Edition

The intertubes are exploding with drama this week! I'm still catching up on a backlog of reading material myself, but I thought I'd post about the more notable news items. • First off, I just have to mention this because it's such delicious schadenfreude: Chris Mooney, atheist-basher extraordinaire, had a commenter earlier this year named Tom Johnson who claimed to be a scientist and wrote about how rudely and viciously he'd seen atheist professors treat their Christian colleagues. Mooney … [Read more...]

Christianist Professor Calls for Religious McCarthyism

Although I've learned not to expect much from the right-leaning Supreme Court, I've been pleasantly surprised by some of their recent decisions. First was Holy See v. John Doe, in which the court upheld a ruling that the Vatican isn't immune from lawsuits over its protection of pedophiles. The second was Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, in which a Christian student group sued a California law school to demand - what else? - the legal right to discriminate against gays. The law school has a … [Read more...]

Breaking News: Catholic Church Not Above the Law

In the past two months, the Catholic pedophilia scandal has largely dropped out of the headlines. But it was still simmering, and it looks poised to erupt into public consciousness again after this raid by police in Belgium: The declaration to the police set off four raids in which the authorities seized hundreds of case files from the commission's current leader, detained a group of bishops for more than nine hours and disturbed the tomb of a cardinal where construction work had recently been … [Read more...]

Simo Says

By Sarah Braasch In loving memory of my baby brother, Jacob Michael Braasch (01/28/86 – 02/02/10) The other night I fled for my life. I fled a brawl in Paris. No, I didn't get entangled in a drunken bar fight. Again. Actually, I was in an elementary school. Ni Putes Ni Soumises (NPNS – Neither Whores Nor Submissives), the women's rights organization in Paris where I have been working as a human rights fellow, organized a public debate on the issue of the anticipated public burqa ban in … [Read more...]

Why Atheists Should Do Jury Duty

I've never served on a jury, although I've had at least two jury duty notices sent to former addresses after I no longer lived in the area. But I'm certain the courts will catch up with me sooner or later, and truth be told, I'm actually looking forward to it. I know that being on a jury is likely to be exceedingly boring, and most of the cases that go to trial probably aren't all that consequential or all that difficult to decide. Still, I think it would be worthwhile to serve, both to play my … [Read more...]

Yes, That’s Me in the Burqa

By Sarah Braasch In loving memory of my baby brother, Jacob Michael Braasch (01/28/86 – 02/02/10) I am an incipient First Amendment lawyer and a staunch church-state separatist. I surpass even my most progressive friends and colleagues in my unflinching and unwavering support of the freedom of speech and expression, including religious expression. I am pretty much the only person I know who hates hate crime legislation as little more than bald-faced thought crime legislation. I am not … [Read more...]

The Catholic Church Embraces Reform?

Since I've written a fair amount lately about the child-rape scandal engulfing the Catholic church, it would be unfair of me to overlook any steps they've taken toward reform. Well, you all know I'm nothing if not fair, so I have to report on this tiny, hesitant step: Last week, the Vatican for the first time issued guidelines telling bishops they should report cases of abusive priests to police where civil laws require it. Marvelous! At long last, the Vatican has bravely decided that its … [Read more...]


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