Kevin Andrews suddenly learns that everyone else knows Catch The Fire are batshit #auspol

Minister for Putting Single Mums in Their Bloody Place Kevin Andrews, among other Team Australians, has recently learned that the people of Australia don’t particularly like that the “World Congress of Families” is run by well-known slavering extremist anti-choice homophobic bigots Catch The Fire Ministries and has decided not to open their adorable little Hatesturbate For Jesus for them after all.

Catch The Fire Ministries, whose head douche Danny Nalliah infamously linked Victoria’s Black Saturday bushfires to that state’s abortion laws (and will now have to find other high-profile fundamentalist scenery-chewers to mix the green cordial [red is SINFUL!] and run the games of “pin Satan’s pitchfork on the eternally burning lesbortionist,”) have since thrown K-Drews under the bus for being a sad wuss. Because how dare any public official in a secular democracy respond to public outcry over lending explicit government support to a pack of fringe-dwelling cultists whose lunacy is only exceeded by their self-importance.

I suspect that, much like a pair of cling-wrap Y-fronts, this is a transparent arse-covering on the part of Kev and his fellow Tory wingnuts, Eric “I Am The Politican Every Sketch Show Bases Their Politicians On” Abetz and Cory “Looky, I Wrote A Book Just Like God Did” Bernardi, who would surely have gone along had the public not had something of a issue with members of our government explicitly validating the dark-ages lunacy of extremist evangelist hooligans.

Not Catch The Fire but close efuckingnough, amirite?

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School Chaplains: why can’t you lot just stick to the pulpit #auspol

It appears the Abbott government still wants to exclude secular workers from the School Chaplaincy program, despite widespread opposition and two High Court challenges.

Religious people have numerous avenues available if they wish to seek spiritual guidance for themselves or their children; this constant push by some of them to have exclusive access to other peoples’ children while in school is distasteful and extremely presumptuous (and possibly even un-Constitutional – while Section 116 has historically not been applied to state funding of religious schools, implementing exclusively religious programs such as this in state schools might be a different basket of loaves and fishes. While the Abbott regime might be able to use the general term “religious” to escape being accused of favouring of one faith over another, the very term “chaplain” has an exclusively Christian origin and I doubt very strongly that we’ll see a great many imams, rabbis or whatever those used-god salesmen-for-Xenu call themselves counselling state school students).  

Apart from the blatant discrimination involved in barring secular counselors from consideration, kids with serious problems (or even mild ones) don’t need Divinity lessons, they need trained professionals. Religious exceptionalism of this sort is highly likely to expose vulnerable children to inappropriate proselytising and unhelpful advice – when compared to the likelihood of a properly trained secular counselor attempting to proselytise their philosophy, it’s practically a stone-carved certainty.

If a counselor is appropriately qualified and experienced they should be hired; their religious status, just like their age, marital status and orientation, should be irrelevant to their practice. It’s not legal for the Commonwealth to refuse employment in any other area of operation on religious grounds; how such a proscription wouldn’t apply to state school counselors escapes me. This appears to be yet another example of a government operating by ideology and working off a checklist, with pragmatism, fairness and perhaps even legality being secondary concerns.

Evangelising students in school is not only preying on an audience that’s legally compelled to be there, it’s also based on the offensive and arrogant presumption that the evangelists have the right (God-given, of course) to undermine whatever religious traditions those kids’ families may already observe in their own homes or places of worship or whatever non-religious philosophies they may subscribe to.

Not only that, but those churches that evangelise more often than not subscribe to fringe conservative and flat-out fundamentalist interpretations of Scripture which have absolutely no place in our public schools, where there frequently is a plurality of ethnicity and culture.

I’m sure we can all imagine the outcry from decent Christian folk if Islamists or JW’s or Mormons were given privileged access to state school students (even if ostensibly to use their powers for good and explicitly not for the purposes of conversion attempts); it’s much better for all concerned (chiefly the kids who’ll need professional advice and support) if preachers (or preachers-by-other-names) stay in the pulpit.

It Came From The 80s – The Flamer’s Bible!

Anyone who’s been anywhere near the atheoskeptoblogosphere in the last two years might well have noticed an undercurrent (or over-current) of hate-speech, flaming, obsessive trolling, twit-stalking and general petulant shit-slinging – especially if the target is a feminist blogger. But it’s nothing new – online communication has been around for ages; as such, the anonymity inherent in it has always provided cover for keyboard warriors to dispatch rhetorical missiles and toxic word-sludge across the globe, the nation or just the building – all with no social consequences.

Without further ado, from some time in 1987, I present a selection of tips for being an Internet Tough Guy:

The twelve commandments of flaming

  •     Make things up about your opponent: It’s important to make your lies sound true. Preface your argument with the word “clearly.” “Clearly, Fred Flooney is a liar, and a dirtball to boot.”

 

This might be familiar. How about: “She’s a misandrist! She’s a Feminazi! She hates men! It was only an invitation to coffee at 4am! She’s frigid!”

  •     Cross-post your flames: Everyone on the net is just waiting for the next literary masterpiece to leave your terminal. From rec.arts.wobegon to alt.gourmand, they’re all holding their breaths until your next flame. Therefore, post everywhere.

 

This one’s never been so important to the career troll: you can’t expect every one of your hate-chorus to just be reading your blog, so to increase your back-pats & pingbacks & likes you need to facebook, tweet, instafreakingram, blog, re-blog and link to everything in whatever dark, mouldy corner of the ‘net where there are no standards of behaviour when it comes to Approved Enemies.

  •     Conspiracies abound: If everyone’s against you, the reason can’t possibly be that you’re a fuckhead. There’s obviously a conspiracy against you, and you will be doing the entire net a favor by exposing it.

 

This is now known as the Galileo Gambit: They made fun of Galileo, and he was right.
They make fun of me, therefore I am right. However, the counter to this comes from Robert Park: It is not enough to wear the mantle of Galileo: that you be persecuted by an unkind establishment. You must also be right.

  •     Use foreign phrases: French is good, but Latin is the lingua franca of flaming. You should use the words “ad hominem” at least three times per article. Other favorite Latin phrases are “ad nauseum,” “vini, vidi, vici,” and “fetuccini alfredo.”

 

Accusations of ad hominem abound on the internet – usually as soon as someone gets insulted for acting like a douche. However, a true ad hominem is dimissive of an argument based on who’s making the argument, i.e. “You’re a douche therefore your argument is wrong.” Much of the time you hear an a.h. invoked, it is done so in response to a simple insult, e.g. “You’re a douche and your argument is wrong.” To avoid confusion, please be sure to dismiss someone’s argument on its own lack of merit and then call them a douche.

  •     Accuse your opponent of censorship. It is your right as an American citizen to post whatever the hell you want to the net (as guaranteed by the 37th Amendment, I think). Anyone who tries to limit your cross-posting or move a flame war to email is either a communist, a fascist, or both.

 

FREEZE PEACH! “Because the country I live in has granted me the right to say anything I want (of course there aren’t caveats – I can walk onto the White House lawn and threaten to stab Barry O because FREEZE PEACH is absolute!), it therefore follows that I get to follow you around the internet and regurgi-hate on every single one of your online properties. The fact that you own your twitter account, facebook, youtube account or blog doesn’t give you the right to decided who gets to talk to you! StasiNazi #bullies baawww!”

Um, yeah it does. A website/media account, as far as you’re concerned, is someone’s property as much as their doorstep or the counter of their store – if you don’t like when they shut the door in your face, try modifying (or at least paying attention to) what comes out of your face.

Go and read the rest – you’ve probably seen all of them in the last week.

Intelligent Design defined

Via the inimitable Curmudgeon, the most very bestest definition of Intelligent Design *ahem* theory I’ve ever encountered:

An unknown intelligence (whether it’s a solitary creature or a vast swarm is never addressed), with utterly unknown characteristics (mortal or immortal, sexual or asexual, plant or animal, physical or spiritual), whose home base is unknown, and whose ultimate origin is a mystery (evolved, created, or eternal), arrived on earth somehow (in a flying saucer, perhaps, or maybe on a comet), at some unspecified time (or several times), and then in some unspecified way (technological or magical), for unspecified reasons (boredom, or maybe cosmic fulfillment), did something (or maybe several things) to influence the genetic characteristics of some (but maybe not all) of the creatures on earth.

The entire Discovery Institute couldn’t have said it better. But I do realise that isn’t saying much, considering all they do manage to say is either incoherent or rank, stinky bullshit.
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Irish Blasphemy Law – feckin stupid

In a baffling display of religious idiocy, Ireland decided in the middle of 2009 to backslide into territory normally occupied by medieval theocracies such as Saudi Arabi. How exactly? By making it illegal to blaspheme – that is, by making it a crime to express thoughts which are disparaging of or offensive toward religion. Yes, in fecking Ireland, a country which knows – which should know anyway – almost better than any other Western country the torment of religiously-based violence and division.

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How this came to pass in Ireland, which is considered a Silicon Valley of the EU and has suffered more than its fair share of pain at the hands of religious fanatics, is beyond me. Nonetheless, there it is in black & white: have a crack at faith and you’ll pay the price:

…publishing or uttering matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters sacred by any religion, thereby intentionally causing outrage among a substantial number of adherents of that religion, with some defences permitted

… is now a criminal offence, punishable by a fine of up to €25,000.var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker(“UA-5094406-1”); pageTracker._initData(); pageTracker._trackPageview();

That’s around $40,000 AUD. What the feck?

Fortunately, Irish atheists, being both Irish and atheists, aren’t going to stand for it. Atheist Ireland has compiled and published a list of twenty five blasphemous quotes in order to test the law, presumably metaphorically bare their arses at those who got it enacted as well as show just how unenforceable and vacuous the whole thing is. The list features quotes from people you may expect such as Frank Zappa, Mark Twain, Salman Rushdie & Richard Dawkins. However, my favourites are the first three on the list:

1. Jesus Christ, when asked if he was the son of God, in Matthew 26:64: “Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” According to the Christian Bible, the Jewish chief priests and elders and council deemed this statement by Jesus to be blasphemous, and they sentenced Jesus to death for saying it.

2. Jesus Christ, talking to Jews about their God, in John 8:44: “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him.” This is one of several chapters in the Christian Bible that can give a scriptural foundation to Christian anti-Semitism. The first part of John 8, the story of “whoever is without sin cast the first stone”, was not in the original version, but was added centuries later. The original John 8 is a debate between Jesus and some Jews. In brief, Jesus calls the Jews who disbelieve him sons of the Devil, the Jews try to stone him, and Jesus runs away and hides.

3. Muhammad, quoted in Hadith of Bukhari, Vol 1 Book 8 Hadith 427: “May Allah curse the Jews and Christians for they built the places of worship at the graves of their prophets.” This quote is attributed to Muhammad on his death-bed as a warning to Muslims not to copy this practice of the Jews and Christians. It is one of several passages in the Koran and in Hadith that can give a scriptural foundation to Islamic anti-Semitism, including the assertion in Sura 5:60 that Allah cursed Jews and turned some of them into apes and swine.

Without a great deal of effort, it’s easy to imagine that Muslims and Christians are the two religious groups most likely to throw tantrums over perceived blasphemy. Christian groups are constantly whining about nasty things people say or do on telly or being forced to not evangelise at work. Groups of shouty Muslims across the globe seem to enjoy rioting and burning effigies and trying to murder people at the drop of a hint, in order to prove to the world how peaceful Islam is (what is it about religious adherence that kills peoples’ ability to perceive irony?). Therefore, it is with great relish that I read those first three blasphemies. If the figureheads of the two religions most likely to get shitty at a bit of dissent were themselves blasphemers by the standards of other religions, it shows straight away the problems inherent in a blasphemy law – for whom is the law and against whom will it be levelled? What kind of defences against blasphemy charges will be permitted? My biggest worry: are stand-up comedians going to be subject by the Blasphemy Law? If so, Ross Noble will never play another gig in Ireland and Dara O’Brien will have to leave the country – in fact, so will most Irish comedians that I’ve heard of.

So what exactly is my problem? Shouldn’t we be respectful of other peoples’ views and philosophies and points of view? Well, in a word, hell no. We should respect peoples’ rights to think and believe what they want, as well as their rights to attempt to convince others to think and believe the same way (within reason). But if your point of view is that someone else’s point of view is silly, backward, dangerous, superstitious, divisive or just plain nonsense, you should have a right to say so. Nobody should have the right to not be offended if someone disagrees with them or even ridicules their point of view. No mere point of view or opinion or belief should be protected by the law and nobody should be threatened by the law for disagreeing or even ridiculing a point of view.

Imagine if Ireland or any other nation applied this law to other kinds of beliefs, such as political or social. Imagine if it was illegal to criticise the party in power or voice disapproval of the leader? Well, in Myanmar, Thailand, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and an armful of other nations ruled by unpleasant, insecure, paranoid military, religious or totalitarian regimes, this is precisely the case. But because this new Irish law protects religion, it’s okay. Because it’s peoples’ faith being discussed, other peoples’ opinions on it are subject, more or less, to state approval. In free nations, all other beliefs on other subjects are open to discussion and even heated argument. Political discussions, philosophical, economical – these are all fair game whether in the public arena or just down at the pub. But for some reason, when it comes to religion, we can’t talk about it like grownups – we have to lower our voices and affect an air of respect and deference. As soon as someone mentions God we have to stop arguing, stop debating, stop voicing our displeasure and disagreement. We have to bow and scrape and show respect to religious leaders – not just the normal respect you’d show any other person, but a special brand of respect where you walk on eggshells and tiptoe around difficult questions. In other words, we have to bloody well coddle people because they hold a particular opinion.

Well, bollocks. Be religious if you want. Believe whatever gets you through the night – I sure do (and not all of it’s completely rational either). But if your faith is so weak or your god so insecure or your beliefs so dependent on the approval of others that you need the state to legislate to prevent your feelings from getting hurt or to punish those who offend you, perhaps you need to re-evaluate why you subscribe to that faith to begin with. If you believe in a god that created the universe and judges all humankind, surely neither you or that god should need the protection of a mere human construct like the law. Surely you answer to a higher authority – surely the mere disagreement or even flat-out condemnation of your faith shouldn’t trouble you if you believe you have the keys to The Kingdom. But if it does – and if you really & truly need the law to make people to show respect to your beliefs or just shut up – then perhaps your faith isn’t all you crack it up to be.

Education: still the greatest enemy of organised religion

And this bloke [source] has his cassock in a twist over it:

The Rt Rev Patrick O’Donoghue, the Bishop of Lancaster, has claimed that graduates are spreading scepticism and sowing dissent. Instead of following the Church’s teaching they are “hedonistic”, “selfish” and “egocentric”, he said.

Aw. My heart bleeds for you, Paddy. Quick primer:

Graduates = people who have spent years learning about The World and how it works (ostensibly, anyway – it’s highly likely they’ve spent years learning to be alcoholics).

Bishops = people who have spent years learning about The Church and how it works whilst all but ignoring how The World works yet presuming to tell The World how it should work according to what The Church told them. Back to the bitching…

Bishop O’Donoghue, who has recently published a report on how to renew Catholicism in Britain, argued that mass education has led to “sickness in the Church and wider society”. “What we have witnessed in Western societies since the end of the Second World War is the development of mass education on a scale unprecedented in human history – resulting in economic growth, scientific and technological advances, and the cultural and social enrichment of billions of people’s lives,” he said.

And that’s a bad thing because … oh, that’s right. You people had absolutely nothing to do with any of it! In fact, much of this amazing progress (especially in the areas of cultural & social enrichment and scientific advancement) has been made in spite of the concerted efforts of monolithic religions such as yours. Hence this walloping serve of sour grapes:

“However, every human endeavor has a dark side, due to original sin and concupiscence. In the case of education, we can see its distortion through the widespread dissemination of radical scepticism, positivism, utilitarianism and relativism.

“Taken together, these intellectual trends have resulted in a fragmented society that marginalizes God, with many people mistakenly thinking they can live happy and productive lives without him.

Good golly, how dare anyone use any modes of thought or philosophy other than those sanctioned by That Humungous Tomb In Rome Which Pretends To Be A Country! How dare anyone consider living their life ethically and knowledgably and to the fullest extent possible without consulting That Great Big Confusing Unverified Book Of Fairy Tales, Torture Porn And Contradictions!

So I’m mistaken, am I? Pray, dear Bish, tell me exactly how I, one of your educated heretics, am currently living a happy & productive life with my gifted & gorgeous medical student wife and adorable dog and great band and vegetable patch (the lettuces are looking brilliant) and loving family (also mostly godless) and amazing, talented, beautiful friends (with whom I don’t know that I’ve ever had any sort of serious religious discussion because it’s simply not important enough a topic in our lives to discuss)? How is it that my wife & I are just as happy as those few friends of ours that are religious (not that we know exactly how many of them there are anyway because it doesn’t come up)? How am I less happy than your average petrified, guilt-ridden Catholic because I go through life not fearing Hell, not fearing “temptation”, not studiously avoiding evil “secular” knowledge & not feeling the eyes of God burning through my back as I muddle through life?

Jeez, Paddy … you and your fellow befrocked ones say ignorant, insulting, out-of-touch shit like that and then you wonder why people are, in ever-increasing numbers, viewing your Church and the people who run it as anachronistic geezers with an unhealthy (and often hypocritical) interest in how other people run their private lives, and accordingly turning their backs on it.

Your Empire had a moral monopoly on Europe and much of the world for centuries. The Pope replaced the Roman Emperor as supreme monarch. You imposed your rule by force and enforced & expanded it brutally. Times changed though, and dispossessing rich heretics of their worldly goods and roasting the feet of your still-living enemies as their families watched and screamed in horror became, shall we say, passe. Since the roasting stopped, people have slowly realised that all The Church has left is guilt-inducing judgements & public denunciations of normal behaviour from people like you & Herr Ratzinger to keep people in line, keep bums on pews and keep the souls rolling in. Since people have realised that you have only words to throw at them, they’ve realised that the only power those words have is the power that they give to those words.

If you could just sit in your average pub and watch peoples’ eyes roll (in a combination of mild amusement and apathetic boredom) the next time Ratzi or some collared clown (like, say, our own paedophile enabler, Cardy Pell) appears on TV, as if he’s some kind of social/medical/artistic authority, to spout a soundbite denouncing something pretty ordinary, you’d have some idea what you’re up against. People simply don’t take any notice of your morality police on TV anymore. If anything they laugh at them. Not because people are becoming more evil or more secular (one and the same according to your capo di tutti capi), but because they just don’t accept your self-appointed role as our moral superiors.

It isn’t the 1950’s anymore, where your local priest was the first guy you called in a pinch and not the cops or your lawyer or the milkman. People simply no longer accept that there’s only one source for their morality and, what’s more, they strongly resent hearing people like you (i.e. cloistered virgins with chips on your shoulders about anything fun) publicy denouncing them as hedonistic or self-obsessed or materialistic (or whatever other negative trait you can link to the modern world) just because they don’t go to bloody church anymore. Sheesh, you drive people away from your precious Church by continually being ignorant of modern society and modern peoples’ needs (not to mention being inert at best on the topic of child abuse) and insulting anyone who doesn’t conform to your view, then you have the idiocy to wonder where all the Catholics went! Are you serious?

People change. As societies are made of people, societies inevitably change. Some institutions change along with the societies that support them. Sometimes a change is in fact necessary for the survival of an institution, e.g. the British Royal Family – no longer a monarchy with any real power, yet still existing in all its gilded glory, supported by their society (the French Royal Family, on the other hand, refused to change and they, well, got the chop). Those institutions who refuse to change, or do it very slowly or reluctantly, run the very real risk of becoming irrelevant or useless (or even harmful) to the society in question. The Catholic Church, constantly railing against, insulting, denouncing and harshly judging our ever-evolving society (while simultaneously ignoring its realities), as well as fruitlessly exhorting it to change back (presumably to pre-Henry VIII times when Papists ran Europe and just murdered anyone who stood up to them and then rifled through their pockets), runs the severe risk of becoming irrelevant.

But hey, Vatican, you’ve always been useless & irrelevant to me (except as a museum of artistic genius and great example of reprehensible social policy at the hands of an unchallenged absolute ruler). It would please me greatly if Catholics left you and your judgements behind in droves. Exodus-sized droves. Just keep up whatever it is that you’re doing. You’re driving far more Catholics away with your corruption & hypocrisy & unwarranted moral superiority complexes & unwanted, insulting, ignorant judgements than I ever could!

Just take solace from this, Papists: former UK PM Tony Blair just converted to Catholicism … for some reason. I’m sure you’ll all welcome your newest soul with open arms. He certainly won’t be the first lying, mass-murdering, hypocritical piece of shit to eat your magic zombie-flesh and drink your magic zombie-blood.

California Christians display epic self-pwnzage!!1

A recent Dispatch From The Culture Wars brings news of a queer situation in California:

In May, after the California State Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage legal, the courts mandated state officials to provide gender-neutral licenses and other marriage forms. “Bride” and “groom” became “Party A” and “Party B.”

[Whackaloon Fundy Whingers]Bird and Codding have refused to complete the new forms, a stand that has already cost them. Because their marriage is not registered with the state, Bird cannot sign up for Codding’s medical benefits or legally take his name. They are now exploring their options, she said.

Oh me, oh my, oh my Great Galactic Squid, the EPIC LULZ are almost too much for my mortal, carbon-based brain to withstand! In a bizarre, inexplicable, baffling display of OMGWTFBBQ, these two COMPLETE CRETINS have CHOSEN to inflict upon themselves the very situation they & their bronze-age ilk wish to (and in many cases do) inflict upon gay people across the entire USA. Read the rest of Ed Brayton’s short & sweet dispatch. Pretty much sums it up!

Last thought, directed directly at Bird & Codding: mentally retarded goats who eat lead paint and live under power lines on toxic waste dumps no doubt approved by your tax & destroy Republican party have more of a clue than you, you pair of barely cerebrally evolved mental sub-mammals with whom I’m ashamed to share my DNA. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face! You lackwits are voluntarily cutting yourself off from vital legal rights – rights that you were born with and never even had to break a sweat to earn – just to spite gay people who’ve been struggling for those very same same rights for decades. I’d admire the strength of your convictions if they weren’t so completely misguided and arse-backwards and, ultimately, futile with any luck. Instead, I join the world in heaping epic lulz upon you!!

HA!

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