East, West: Salman Rushdie and the Question of Civilization

This is an article by Oscar Clarke. It appears in the May/June 2013 issue of The Humanist. You can read other articles from this issue and subscribe to the magazine by going to their website.

Note: All URLs below are my own additions, because I thought they’d be helpful.

In a fantastically unfair appraisal (that ran in the New York Review of Books last December) of Salman Rushdie’s account of the years of freedom that were stolen from him by humorless, illiterate thugs, Zoë Heller’s last misrepresentation is the most bitter. She writes:

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New Boy Scouts of America Policy Could Allow Gay Scouts, While Still Banning Gay Scout Leaders and Atheists

Yesterday, the Boy Scouts of America announced a proposal that would finally allow the inclusion of gay scouts. But gay scout leaders would still be banned. (And forget about atheist scouts altogether.)

“While perspectives and opinions vary significantly, parents, adults in the scouting community, and teens alike tend to agree that youth should not be denied the benefits of scouting,” the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) said in a statement on Friday.

“For this reason, the executive committee, on behalf of the national executive board, wrote a resolution for consideration that would remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone and would maintain the current membership policy for all adult leaders of the Boy Scouts of America.

It’s a *huge* baby step forward. It’s like they were saying, “We’ve decided we’re only going to be kinda homophobic.”

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Todd Stiefel Appears on The Young Turks

Todd Stiefel appeared on Thursday night’s episode of Current TV’s “The Young Turks with Cenk Uygur” and a clip from his appearance is now online. In it, he talks about why he’s so passionate about the atheism cause:

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Mount Rubidoux Cross Controversy Finally Settled After Private Christian Group Buys Land at Auction

A bit of history about the Mount Rubidoux Cross: It’s been there since 1907. In 1963, the wooden cross was replaced with a concrete/steel one. So the current incarnation of the cross was up on the hill for nearly 50 years. The city of Riverside has owned the land since 1955.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State threatened to file a lawsuit if the city didn’t take it down — their argument was that the cross violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

Christian groups were flipping out over this because they saw the case as an anti-Christian group trying to take down their Cross.

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Humanist Weddings on the Rise in Scotland

Good news from Scotland today: new figures show that Humanist wedding ceremonies are on the rise in Scotland. Not only that but religious wedding ceremonies are in decline. The figures have been published as part of a broader policy of support for gay marriage ahead of the Humanist Society Scotland’s annual general meeting which takes place in Glasgow on Sunday. Scotland has a proud heritage of unbelief and rightly champions David Hume as one of the fathers of modern skeptical philosophy.

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