The Fallout in Ferguson

FergusonProtest

I've been gripped by the stories and images coming out of Ferguson, Missouri since last week. This suburb of St. Louis has been wracked with unrest since Michael Brown, an 18-year-old African-American teenager, was shot to death on a city street by a police officer - while he was standing with his hands raised in surrender, according to three eyewitnesses. The killing has stirred up the community to righteous fury, and the police have harshly cracked down on the ensuing protests.In many … [Read more...]

Repost: Making Non-White Atheists Feel Welcome

BilliardBalls

[Author's Note: I'm reposting some old favorites while I'm away on vacation this week. This post was originally from November 2010.]I was reading this outstanding essay by Alom Shaha, an atheist and ex-Muslim of Bangladeshi descent, who describes what it's like to come out as a nonbeliever in a tightly-knit, intensely religious community. But as he makes clear, the social and cultural pressure on people in his situation isn't just a matter of happenstance; it formed as a defensive reaction … [Read more...]

The Richard Dawkins Facepalm Watch, Vol. III

Facepalm2

I used to admire and look up to Richard Dawkins; I really did. But it's becoming harder for me to remember why. Over the last few years, my esteem for him has sunk lower and lower in response to a steady stream of callous, ill-thought-out or just plain ignorant remarks he's made. And last week, he hit a new low:Learned a useful new phrase this week: Social Justice Warrior. SJWs can't forgive Shakespeare for having the temerity to be white and male.— Richard Dawkins … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Thin Red Line

Redlining

Atlas Shrugged, part I, chapter XLast time, Lee Hunsacker had mentioned to Dagny that he was the only one who ever beat Rand's superhero banker Midas Mulligan. Now he's going to tell us how:"Midas Mulligan was a vicious bastard with a dollar sign stamped on his heart," said Lee Hunsacker... "My whole future depended upon a miserable half-million dollars, which was just small change to him, but when I applied for a loan, he turned me down flat - for no better reason than that I had … [Read more...]

Book Review: The New Jim Crow

NewJimCrow

Summary: A work of consciousness-raising with the visceral impact of a gut punch. One of the rare books that will transform the way you understand politics in America.I've always been an advocate of legalizing recreational drug use. The drug war is stupidity, wastefulness and futility on a colossal scale, and the results speak for themselves: prisons crammed with hundreds of thousands of nonviolent drug users, prohibitionist policies that ensure drug profits fuel criminal gangs rather than … [Read more...]

The Mormons Repeat the Errors of History

SaltLakeCityTemple

Last month, a federal judge in Utah ruled that it violated the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection to deny civil marriage rights to same-sex couples. After a few days of joyful chaos in which gay and lesbian couples flocked to county clerks' offices, Utah state officials managed to convince the Supreme Court to temporarily stay the ruling pending a full hearing by an appeals court. In the meantime, the state announced that they'll refuse to recognize the more than 1,000 marriages their … [Read more...]

The Missing Diversity of Intelligence Squared

Intelligence Squared is a group that organizes live public debates on political and philosophical topics. I've been to one of their New York City events before, a debate about whether the world would be better off without religion.In general, I'm all for this idea. It's a welcome echo of the era of Robert Ingersoll, when public lectures and debates were considered the height of popular culture, and I'm all in favor of any kind of entertainment that encourages people to turn their brains on … [Read more...]

Ingersoll Sunday: Civil Rights

RobertIngersoll

There was a great disgrace in this country today. Backed by the laws of the state of Florida, a jury decided that it was reasonable for an armed white man to provoke a confrontation with an unarmed black teenager, shoot him dead, and then claim he was acting in self-defense.I'm too heavy-hearted to write much about this, or about the Supreme Court's disgraceful gutting of the Voting Rights Act last month. Suffice to say that race relations are an open and unhealed wound in the fabric of … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Unfortunate Implications

Atlas Shrugged, p.54-55I've said that Ayn Rand, although she never misses an opportunity to tell us that her characters are bold and heroic, only rarely shows us what it is they actually do on a day-to-day basis. We have to glean what her worldview would mean in practice from the little details that slip in around the edges. The next scene, with Dagny, is thick with these implications:Dagny Taggart was nine years old when she decided that she would run the Taggart Transcontinental … [Read more...]

Reflections on #AAcon13

AAConvention

I'm writing this in the airport, on my way home from a weekend in Austin, Texas for the 50th anniversary convention of American Atheists. New York is all bare gray branches, still; it's too early in the season even for buds. By comparison, Austin was a startling riot of green, with tree-lined streets and forested riverbanks that bloomed explosively in the perfect, gorgeous warm weather. The branches were thronged with big, sleek black birds (grackles, according to a thread on B&W) that kept up a … [Read more...]


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