The Wages of Tolerance: Atheist Gadfly Theo van Gogh, a Foe of Islam, Was Assassinated Ten Years Ago Today

Today marks the tenth anniversary of the brutal murder of Dutch writer, filmmaker, and free-speech advocate Theo van Gogh. He died at the hands of a Muslim fundamentalist, Mohammed Bouyeri, who silenced Theo’s criticism of Islam with bullets and a butcher knife. For the crime of making a movie (with Ayaan Hirsi Ali) that called out Islam’s widespread misogyny, Theo was assassinated in public, in broad daylight — Bouyeri calmly and methodically almost severing his victim’s head while horrified bystanders looked on.

Like the Islamic death sentence received by Salman Rushdie, it was a defining moment in one of the defining fights of our time.

Back when I lived in Amsterdam, I’d met Theo a few times and interviewed him once (about local architecture, of all things; he was quite the renaissance man). I was struck by how easily he carried himself in all kinds of different company. As combative and fierce as he could be in print, in person he was a very social and genuinely curious man, always probing, trying out ideas and theories, soaking up new information. He was blunt but kind, passionate but not wrathful, eager to drive home a provocative point but careful not to twist the knife, so to speak. In short, he was the antithesis of his assassin.

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Pat Robertson: Brittany Maynard Shouldn’t Kill Herself Because “God Can Heal Anything”

Brittany Maynard (below) is the 29-year-old with brain cancer who has chosen to kill herself in a few days so that she can die with dignity before the disease takes away everything that she believes makes life worth living.

Pat Robertson commented on her story last night — you know you were waiting for his opinion — explaining how she should totally not kill herself because God will heal her… and how her decision is just a symptom of death-loving liberals:

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Brittany Maynard Will End Her Life in a Few Weeks and It’s Upsetting Many Christians

On New Year’s Day, 29-year-old Brittany Maynard (below), a newlywed planning to start her family, got some awful news: she had brain cancer. After months of treatment and doctor’s visits, she received even worse news: her tumor had not only come back, but grown larger.

She wrote in an essay for CNN:

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Does New Research Prove Life After Death? Not So Much…

Holy Moses, the afterlife is real! Or such is the impression that you might get, reading about the “AWARE” study (recently published in the Resuscitation Journal). The Telegraph‘s headline, for instance, trumpets, “First hint of ‘life after death’ in biggest ever scientific study.”

This is followed by a far less exciting, but more accurate, description:

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Analyzing the Rainbow Just Wouldn’t Be As Effective

Richard Dawkins wrote this memorable passage in Unweaving the Rainbow:

We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here. We privileged few, who won the lottery of birth against all odds, how dare we whine at our inevitable return to that prior state from which the vast majority have never stirred?

It’s a beautiful passage that really celebrates the joy of life in a non-religious way. But John Danaher at h+ Magazine isn’t moved by it:

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