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...]

Weekend Coffee: March 16

Coffee

• As you all know, there's a new pope in town: Jorge Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires. He talks a good game on poverty, although like all Catholic hierarchs, he doesn't seem to grasp that his opposition to birth control perpetuates the very problem he claims to want solved. As if there was any doubt, he's also a staunch social conservative who's called same-sex marriage "a move by the Father of Lies".More worrisome, though, is the accusation of Bergoglio's complicity in the Dirty … [Read more...]

The Catholic Church Is Not a Democracy

Pope Benedict's surprise resignation has set off a frenzy of speculation as to who the next pope will be and what changes he might bring to Catholicism. Benedict was well-known as an enforcer of orthodoxy, cracking down harshly on nuns, supporters of same-sex marriage and other progressive factions within the church, and the beleaguered liberals in Catholicism are hoping that the next pope will bring a change of direction.However, the odds of this are slim. All of the cardinals who'll elect … [Read more...]

Why the Petition Matters

Cloudbreak

Earlier this week, I posted a petition asking the leaders of atheist and secular organizations to support feminism and measures to improve diversity and stop harassment. The petition went up at 9:30 PM on Thursday night, and as of this writing, on Saturday night, it has around 1,300 signatures and is still accumulating more at a healthy clip. I think that's a very good response, and I'm grateful for the attention it's gotten and the many messages of support people have left along with their … [Read more...]

Petition: Support Feminism and Diversity in the Secular Community

AtheismPlus

You may have heard that the video blogger "Thunderf00t"* recently published a video titled "Why 'Feminism' is poisoning Atheism", which he's been sending to the heads of atheist and skeptical organizations. In this video, he attacks named individuals who've been active in promoting diversity and fighting sexism and harassment in our movement, describing them as "whiners" and "ultra-PC professional victims" who are "dripp[ing] poison" into the secular community, and urges conference organizers to … [Read more...]

Diversity Doesn’t Just Happen: A Response to Michael Shermer

We're talking about diversity in the skeptical community again, this time occasioned by some unfortunate and ignorant comments from Michael Shermer about atheism and skepticism being "a guy thing", which drew a predictably sharp response. As Jacques Rousseau said, it's just barely possible that Shermer might have meant this statement descriptively, rather than normatively. But he then proceeded to dig the hole much deeper with this comment on Twitter which leaves absolutely no room for … [Read more...]

Support African Americans for Humanism

As NPR recently reported, there's a high price to pay for being a black atheist in America. African Americans who come out of the closet as nonreligious may be cut off by their own families, may be labeled a "race traitor" or an "apostate", or accused of lacking morals or having "holes in their souls" - this despite the fact that atheism, humanism and freethought have a strong and lively tradition within the African-American community. That's why I was glad to hear about African Americans for … [Read more...]


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