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Wedding RingsIreland held a referendum yesterday on gay marriage. To no one’s real surprise, as Reuters reports this morning, voters there approved the measure (WebCite cached article):

Irish voters backed same-sex marriage by a landslide in a referendum marking a dramatic social shift in the traditionally Catholic country, government ministers and opponents of the bill said on Saturday.

Final results were not expected until later in the day, but ministers predicted Ireland had become the first country to adopt same-sex marriage via a popular vote by a margin of around two-to-one, just two decades after it decriminalized homosexuality.…

The proposal was backed by all political parties, championed by big employers and endorsed by celebrities, all hoping it would mark a transformation in a country that was long regarded as one of the most socially conservative in Western Europe.

As one would expect, the Roman Catholic Church — which has a large presence in the Emerald Isle — opposed this measure. But their influence has waned in Ireland as a result of the Catholic clerical abuse scandal, which was a particularly thorny issue there. This rendered the Church nearly impotent as the vote approached:

The Catholic Church, whose dominance of Irish politics collapsed in the wake of a series of sex scandals in the early 1990s, still teaches that homosexual activity is a sin. But it limited its ‘No’ campaigning to sermons to its remaining flock, a marked contrast with active public opposition to similar moves in France and elsewhere.

I can’t think of a better example of an organization “reaping what it sowed” as a result of its own actions. I hope the bishops are happy. Had they not torpedoed their own reputation in Ireland — by virtue of their actions and inactions where child-abuse by clergy were concerned — they might have actually had a chance to fend off this referendum. In this case, they marginalized themselves.

Photo credit: firemedic58, via Flickr.

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Hypocrisy: No one does it better than Christians / MotifakeNote: There’ve been some updates to this story since I first published it; please see all the footnotes below.

I haven’t blogged about the reality-TV show originally named 17 Kids and Counting, the Duggar family who stars in it, or the Quiverfull movement to which they belong (WebCite cached article). Honestly, there hasn’t seemed to be much point in it. To begin with I don’t even give a flying fuck about any so-called “reality” shows (they aren’t “real,” they’re scripted). And the Quiverfulls are just a freakish evangelical Protestant collective of insane wing-nuts to which I’d have preferred never to call anyone’s attention. But given this latest bit of news, I don’t think it can be avoided any more. As In Touch Weekly reports, one of the Duggars’ sons, Josh, had molested a number of girls as a teenager (cached):

Josh Duggar of the TLC hit reality show 19 Kids and Counting was named in a police report as the “alleged offender” in an underage sexual abuse probe, In Touch magazine is reporting exclusively.

The charge being pursued while Josh was a minor was sexual assault in the fourth degree, multiple sources who have seen the police report and are familiar with the case told In Touch. According to the report, Josh was brought into the Arkansas State Police by his father, Jim Bob, who said he caught him leaving a young girl’s bedroom and “learned something inappropriate happened,” one source said.

These charges were never dealt with at the time:

A bizarre turn of events prevented police and prosecutors from finishing their investigation and possibly prosecuting. The state trooper who originally took the report about Josh shortly before 2005 never followed up. That state trooper was later convicted on child pornography charges and is serving a 56-year prison sentence.

When the state trooper ran into trouble, someone from the Arkansas State Police alerted the Child Abuse Hotline about the Duggar situation that had been sitting inactive. That’s when the Crimes Against Children Division and Springdale Police Department got involved. By then the three-year statute of limitations had passed and it would not have been possible to pursue prosecution of Josh if the allegations warranted, so the investigation was discontinued. “A technicality prevented any further action,” a source familiar with the case told In Touch. “That’s been the biggest regret in all of this.” (The statute of limitations has since been lengthened.)

Hypocritically, this erstwhile pervert worked for the Family Research Council, a Christofascist outfit which sanctimoniously rages about what it perceives as “immorality,” especially of the sexual sort. He’s resigned already (cached), and the FRC insists it never knew about this. I admit that’s possible, but even if it’s true, it doesn’t excuse Josh having taken a job with them, knowing his own past.

In the meantime the usual suspects are lining up to support the teen child molester. Among them is presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, who had this to say (cached):

“Josh’s actions when he was an underage teen are as he described them himself, ‘inexcusable,’ but that doesn’t mean ‘unforgivable,’” Huckabee said in a statement posted on Facebook Friday [cached]. “He and his family dealt with it and were honest and open about it with the victims and the authorities. No purpose whatsoever is served by those who are now trying to discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story.”

Shucksabee is, of course, wrong to claim that the problem here is that this is “sensationalism.” Not at all. Nor is Josh Duggar’s status as “forgiven” relevant to anything. No, the actual problem is that this guy was a pervert as a teen, but was never prosecuted for it because the trooper who would have done that was, himself, a pervert! A secondary problem is that Josh Duggar was a fucking hypocrite to have taken a job with a Christianist morality-force in spite of his own far-less-than-moral background.

Oh, and … I note that Shucksabee has all sorts of sympathy for the Duggar family, and is sanctimoniously outraged on their behalf that this story was even reported, but he has no fucking sympathy for any of Josh Duggar’s molestation victims (at least one of which, stories suggest, was one of his sisters). I get why Shuckasabee is defending them: They’re militant Christianists like himself, and they’re extremely well-known, by virtue of their TV show. He cannot — and will not — concede any possibility of anything being wrong with this.

But it’s not just Shucksabee railing at the insolence of the media reporting this. Raw Story has cataloged many other examples of other Christians supporting Josh and the other Duggars (cached), many of them excusing what he did as no big deal, or with the old adage that “boys are curious.” Fuck that shit — and I mean that. Those people all need to go fuck themselves.

For the last time, let me be clear: Militant Christianists like the Duggars and their defenders, including Mike Huckabee, are damned fucking hypocrites — every single last fucking one of them. They scream and rail and bluster and fume over the “immorality” of things like gay marriage, and demand that it be outlawed, but when one of their own was caught behaving immorally, it’s nothing to be concerned about, shut up about it, everyone go home, there’s nothing to see here, etc. Christianists bellyache about something they call “moral relativism” and they almost always condemn it — loudly! But here’s a rather brazen example of them actually engaging in moral relativism.

Update 1: TMZ reports that the Duggars’ cable network, TLC — after running silent for a while — finally pulled their show from its schedule (cached).

Update 2: The center young Josh was sent to after his molestation was discovered, was founded by a guy who, it turns out, has a checkered history of his own with women (cached). What a wonderful crew! Their pretensions, lies, disingenuity, dissembling, and hypocrisy are now more apparent than ever. (Hat tip for this: Friendly Atheist).

Update 3: Officials in Arkansas are falling all over themselves to defend Josh Duggar and sing his praises, and the state’s courts are wiping his record clean (cached). Well done, Christians! You must be so proud!

Update 4: It’s the end of the road for this oversized Christianist brood. After hemming and hawing for far too long, TLC finally managed to kick the Duggars and their phony puritanical act off the air for good (cached).

Update 5: It turns out that Josh Duggar had subscribed to the cheaters’ Web site Ashley Madison, and even paid for a “guaranteed affair” (cached). In a statement, he finally admitted to being “the biggest hypocrite ever,” but most Americans already knew that about him — and the rest of his family — long ago.

Photo credit: Motifake.

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SiegeOfAcre1291For years now I’ve blogged about a Right-wing movement in the US I’ve called “the Great Neocrusade.” It’s a modern incarnation of the medieval Crusade, during which western European Christians ventured to the Levant in an effort to drive Muslims out, under the principle that their presence there was an affront to their Jesus which couldn’t be tolerated. (At least, that’s what the Crusade became. Its origin was in Pope Urban’s approval for Latin Christians venturing east to assist the Byzantines, but that scenario didn’t last long and the Crusaders embarked on their own mission, distinct from Byzantium’s, soon after their arrival. And about a century after the Crusades’ launch it would become a campaign against Byzantium itself).

As it stands within the American Right, the Neocrusade is an effort to drive Islam from the new Christian “holy land.” Neocrusaders are predominantly Christians — most of them being of the evangelical Protestant sort — but there are some Jews who’re part of the movement too. Their effort is predicated ostensibly on the threat posed by Islamist terror, which to be sure is horrific and should be fought using every means at our disposal to do so. That said, the Neocrusaders’ main contention — i.e. that Islam is inherently violent and all Muslims therefore are potential terrorists — is quite simply not true. What’s really going on is that these folk view Islam as the chief rival of their own religion, are incensed that it exists at all, and want to get rid of it in order to show the power of their own faith. All the crap about terrorism is mere pretense. That’s not to say Islamist terror isn’t real — just that they know better than to stomp around claiming every Muslim is a terrorist; they just say that in order to rationalize what they’re doing.

For the most part this Neocrusade manifests itself in the form of rhetoric and occasionally votes (such as outlawing “shari’a law” even though it’s not now, nor will it ever become, the law of the land in the US).

So it’s rare that Neocrusaders actually take up arms against Muslims in the US, but it nearly happened just in the last few months. The Web site Heavy.Com reports a Right-winger and failed Congressional candidate from Tennessee named Robert Doggart admitted he’d planned to stage an attack on a mosque and schools in Hancock, NY (WebCite cached article):

A Tennessee man, who made a failed bid for Congress last year as an independent with extreme right wing beliefs, has admitted in federal court to planning an attack on a Muslim community in New York.

Robert Doggart, 63, was recorded on a wiretapped phone talking about his plan to travel along with members of a private militia to an area near Hancock, New York, known as Islamberg, to burn down a mosque, school and cafeteria, while gunning down anyone from the community who tried to stop them.

“Our small group will soon be faced with the fight of our lives. We will offer those lives as collateral to prove our commitment to our God,” Doggart said in a Facebook post, according to court documents. “We shall be Warriors who will inflict horrible numbers of casualties upon the enemies of our Nation and World Peace.”

Doggart was arrested April 10 by the FBI on charges that he solicited others to violate civil rights, attempted to damage religious property because of the religious character of the property and made threats through interstate communication.

Two weeks later, Doggart pleaded guilty to interstate communication of threats. A judge has not yet signed off on the plea agreement. He was released on $30,000 bond to home confinement after the agreement was made and faces between 0 and 5 years in federal prison, along with a possible fine of up to $250,000.

The Heavy article describes Doggart’s plot in detail and includes court documentation of the case as well as of Doggart’s background. There’s a lot of detail there and I can’t hope to do any of it justice; I’ll just suggest you check out the article and find out what happened.

There are two things about this case I find disappointing: First, the judge has let Doggart out on bond, in spite of the fact that he’d admitted, in court, to having planned a terror attack. That decision is mind-blowing. Had Doggart been, instead, a Muslim who’d admitted involvement in a terror attack, there’s no fucking way he’d be free right now. Second, the mass media haven’t picked up this story, not even (to my knowledge) news outlets local to Hancock NY or southeastern Tennessee. I hadn’t heard of Heavy.Com before finding this story, and ordinarily wouldn’t have used them as a source for a blog post, but primary-source material is included, so the report is substantive. The other outlets mentioning this are all Left-wing in nature.

Maybe all the good ol’ boys back in Tennessee would prefer not to mention this, so that might explain why Doggart’s local media are running silent, but I can’t imagine how or why the New York state or eastern Pennsylvania media don’t consider this news (Hancock is in Delaware county, abutting the Pennsylvania state line). Unless this story turns out to be untrue — which I admit is possible, but given the evidence contained in the story it seems extremely unlikely — the media are doing a disservice to ignore it as they are. Perhaps they’ll finally pick up the story … I certainly hope so. The reality of Christianism in the US is that it definitely is capable of terrorism, and this is one example of it (albeit one that was nipped in the bud). There have been other Christian terror attacks, such as the rampage in Austin TX last December by a member of the Phineas Priesthood (cached).

Hat tip: Raw Story.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Self-Delusion: On good days I can hear the snap of the sails and the rope stretching; I can feel the wind and smell the sea. On bad days, it’s just the rope. / DemotivationalPosters.NetNote: I have some additional news on this item; please see below for more information.

There are times when one can only be dumbfounded by the kind of idiocy and lunacy that people spew when they’re defending and/or promoting their religionism. It’s natural this can happen, because religions — all of which are forms of metaphysics — are inherently unsupportable using objective and rational standards. By definition, then, only standards that are subjective and irrational can fit the bill. It’s the irrationality that often gets out of hand.

A great example of one Christian running his mouth off like a total moron, as the Christian Post reports, is the case of one Dr Tony Evans, who actually thinks African-Americans were better off under slavery than they are now (WebCite cached article):

Dr. Tony Evans, the first African American to earn a doctorate in Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary, chided black Americans recently for not taking responsibility for the breakdown of their families, declaring that “the white man is not making you do that.” He also charged that black families were a lot stronger and made more progress during slavery.

Evans made the comments during a discussion with DTS scholar Dr. Darrell Bock on the issue of biblical racial reconciliation last month [cached].…

“The biggest problem in black America today is the breakdown of the family…the breakdown of the family is unraveling us as a community. When 70 percent plus of your children are being born out of wedlock and the fathers are not there to tend to them, you’ve got chaos in the community. That’s crime, that’s unemployment and most of these kids are going to be raised in poverty. And that’s something we control,” explained Evans.

He then made the reference to slavery to highlight the dire condition of the black family.

“The White man is not making you do that. He’s not forcing you into that position. That’s a convenient out. In slavery when we did not have laws on our side, the community on our side, the government on our side, the broader community on our side, our families were a lot stronger. We were a lot more unified and we made a lot more progress. We’re going through regression right now and a lot of that is because of decision-making we are responsible for,” said Evans.

As the article notes, is African-American himself, making this all the more astoundingly asinine. I have no idea where this clown learned his history, but slaves’ families weren’t really very stable or “unified”; their owners could buy and sell them freely. Parents and children were often separated, and for the most part, slaves weren’t allowed to marry, at least not in a full legal sense, so “spouses” could easily end up separated, too. “Unified”? That’s just a flat-out lie.

Now, as insane as Evans’s laughable spew sounds, it’s not really his own invention. The Religious Right has been kicking around the idea that America’s southern slaves lived paradisiacal lives with strong nuclear families for years. In fact, I found an article in the New York Times back in 2011 which addressed this very notion (cached). In spite of how counterfactual it is, though, this idea persists. It’s all part of the Right’s obsession with rolling the clock back, even to times in which customs now considered heinous were the norm. They just can’t handle modernity and want to destroy it, so they whip up their own false versions of history to justify how great things were back then. This is a recipe for delusion, of course, but none of them realize it, nor do they care to hear they’re wrong (because telling them they’re wrong, means you want to kill them or something).

If you needed any more help understanding how and why the Religious Right is downright fucking insane, the idea that African-Americans were better off as slaves ought to help make that crystal clear.

Update: This morning in my email I received this from Steve Yount of A. Larry Ross Communications:

A Statement by Dr. Tony Evans
Senior Pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship
Founder and President of The Urban Alternative
May 9, 2015

“Slavery was ungodly, unrighteous and unbiblical. During slavery, the family was broken up by force by unspeakable atrocities even though African-Americans struggled to preserve it.

“To offer clarity on both my intention and meaning, the black population was largely unified in fighting against the breakup of the family being forced on them due to the evil system of slavery. Black unity was a powerful force, to the greatest degree possible within the limitations of slavery, in seeking to keep the family intact.

“My comparison to today is that we have lost some of our unity and the shared goal of keeping our family units together, and we are often making choices that are dismantling our own families and also hurting our own communities. We do not want to do to ourselves voluntarily what slavery did by force (i.e., destroy our families).

“I have always and will always stand on behalf of justice, and do not condone oppression in any form. I condemn racism on all levels, whether personal or systemic. I am saddened that my remarks were removed from the context of my entire discussion.”

This response sounds all well and good, but it doesn’t address Evans’s chief original contention that African Americans had been better off as slaves than they are now. I still submit that trope — which, as I pointed out, is not Evans’s own invention, being a rather common notion among the Right — remains absolutely not true. Even if Evans disapproves of African Americans “destroy[ing] their families” “voluntarily” rather than “by force,” and even if one assumes this is precisely what’s happening to them, there’s still a fundamental difference between then and now: Neither the slaves’ owners nor government can do so “by force,” at the moment.

Photo credit: DemotivationalPosters.Net.

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From screen shot of 'Masonic Fraternal Police Department' Web site (original URL: story isn’t particularly religious or metaphysical in nature. I only bring it up because I’d studied medieval history and it piqued my interest. The Los Angeles Times reports that California officials have arrested several people who claimed to have run a “Masonic” police force (WebCite cached article):

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Capt. Roosevelt Johnson thought it was odd when three people — two of them dressed in police uniforms he didn’t recognize — strolled into the Santa Clarita station in February.

One man introduced himself as chief of the Masonic Fraternal Police Department and told Johnson this was a courtesy call to let him know the agency was setting up shop in the area.

They met for 45 minutes, Johnson said, but he was left confused and suspicious — so much so that he immediately ordered deputies to pull station surveillance video so they would have images of the visitors. He also assigned detectives to check them out.

“It was an odd meeting,” the captain recalled. “It just raised my suspicion level.”

This week, the three people were charged with impersonating police officers. They are David Henry, who told Johnson he was the police chief, Tonette Hayes and Brandon Kiel, an aide to state Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris.

It turns out Henry, Hayes and Kiel had allegedly introduced themselves to police agencies across the state, though it is unclear why. A website claiming to represent their force cites connections to the Knights Templars that they say go back 3,000 years. The site also said that the department had jurisdiction in 33 states and Mexico.

“When asked what is the difference between the Masonic Fraternal Police Department and other police departments, the answer is simple for us. We were here first!” the website said.

This story is incredible and bizarre. I’m not sure how these folks thought they were actually going to convince other police departments they were legitimate. As an aide to California’s Attorney General, Kiel certainly must have known they had zero legal basis for their claims. Perhaps this odd cadre figured they were well-connected enough to avoid any meaningful scrutiny? But if so, did they actually think other law enforcement jurisdictions would just allow them to move in and do whatever the hell they wanted? It seems unimaginably ludicrous.

In any event, this story brings up a lot of misconceptions about Freemasonry. First — although there’s been some speculation to this effect — there is no documented historical link between the order of Knights Templars and Freemasonry. The former were disbanded in the early 14th century; the latter didn’t emerge in the historical record until the early 18th. That’s a span of about 400 years between them, with no demonstrable link to join them together. What historical evidence there is of their origin, points to the Freemasons as having emerged from medieval stonemason guilds, not from putative hidden survivors of the Templar purge.

Also, as the L.A. Times explains in an ancillary story (cached), the Templar order was not founded in 1,100 BCE; it was founded in 1,118 CE. Did someone misread the Templars’ actual founding date as BCE instead of CE … ? Woops!

Also, stories of the Templars being involved with the Holy Grail — i.e. the cup Jesus and his apostles supposedly drank from during the Last Supper — are likewise mere legends having no known historical basis (beginning with the fact that there’s no evidence the cup from the Last Supper was preserved by anyone). The Knights Templars have been the subject of legend since their heyday in the 12th and 13th centuries. They were both praised (for their military prowess, and their protection of pilgrims) and denigrated (for their secretive nature and tendency to go their own way). The order’s suppression, accompanied as it was by reams of vicious and fantastic propaganda by King Philip IV of France, only compounded the legends and tales that went around about the Templars. So it’s natural a lot of stories were told about them.

The appearance that they were a “secret society” certainly makes it possible to say pretty much anything one wants to about the Templars, and have it seem plausible (because their records are “secret,” you see, there’s no proof of anything about them). Unfortunately for this presumption, even “secret societies” tend to leave historical tracks, which can be followed.

I took a brief look at this outfit’s Web site; the mentions of “bloodlines” and the group’s claimed ancientness make it seem as though someone was reading too much Dan Brown. It’s just ridiculous, laughable bullshit. Every bit of it. I have no idea what angle these people were going after, but this is some truly weird shit. I plan to keep an eye on this case, as it develops.

Photo credit: Cropped from screen shot of Masonic Fraternal Police Department Web site.

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Elton Simpson is shown here in a photo he appears to have taken of himself. Obtained by ABC NewsBy now I assume my readers will know of the shooting that took place in suburban Dallas during an event celebrating art depicting Islam’s prophet Muhammad (WebCite cached article). It took some time for them to get around to it, but authorities finally managed to release the names of the (deceased) attackers. As CNN reports, one of them had connections with Islamist terror (cached):

A day after police killed two gunmen who tried to ambush a Garland, Texas, event [cached] featuring controversial cartoons of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed, details began to emerge about the shooters.

One suspect, identified as Elton Simpson by a federal law enforcement source, linked himself to ISIS in a tweet posted just before the attack.

He also was no stranger to federal investigators. In 2011, he was convicted of making a false statement involving international and domestic terrorism.

The other suspect, identified as Nadir Soofi by two federal law enforcement officials, was Simpson’s roommate in a Phoenix apartment.

Sanctimoniously-enraged Islamists threatening, attacking and even killing people over depictions of Muhammad is, unfortunately, an old story. It’s happened repeatedly, perhaps most famously in Paris earlier this year. Muslims’ reactions to such things are fairly predictable. Which, perhaps, explains why this event even took place at all.

You see, as the Washington Post explains, it was hosted by the sanctimoniously-enraged Neocrusader Pamela Geller and her outfit (cached):

For those unfamiliar with Pamela Geller, she was in the news a few weeks ago for sponsoring an ad campaign across major U.S. cities with anti-Muslim posters saying, among other things, “Killing Jews is Worship that draws us close to Allah” [cached].

On Sunday, she was in the news again for sponsoring a “Jihad Watch Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest” in Garland, Tex., some 20 miles from Dallas, after which two suspects opened fire on a security guard before being shot and killed by police. Authorities did not immediately link the exhibit and the shootings, but Geller did, with vehemence.

She’s part of a movement by the Religious Right to get Islam banned in the US and maybe Muslims thrown out of the country. Now, most of us realize this is just not feasible, given the First Amendment of the US Constitution, but many of them don’t care about that, and of those who do, they think First Amendment protections don’t apply to Islam, because it’s “not a religion,” and instead is a political, economic, philosophical, judicial, and military system. Yes, they really think this … in spite of the fact that their own movement is all of these things, as well! (Yes, they’re hypocrites … but just like Muslims going on murderous rampages over Muhammad depictions is an old story, so too is R.R. hypocrisy an old story.)

At any rate, this event was clearly a trap that Ms Geller laid down for Muslims, and two of them tromped right into it. She can now trumpet to the universe about how she was right about Muslims, that they’re all dangerous fanatics, and that their religion must be outlawed.

As insanely counterfactual and delusional as she is — especially her paranoid conspiracy theory about some nefarious groups trying to “Islamicize” the country — the truth is that Ms Geller didn’t do anything wrong in this case. The US is a free country with free speech, and if people want to depict Muhammad in artwork, they can! It’s fine for Muslims to believe such depictions are forbidden. If it makes them feel better never to depict their prophet, more power to them! But … it is most certainly not rational of them to expect non-Muslims to obey that precept of Islam. Non-Muslims are never under any obligation to obey any aspect of Islam. They have no reason to do so, since they aren’t Muslims.

That simple statement seems so obvious that it almost doesn’t need to be said, but apparently, it does … because a lot of Muslims seem not to be aware of it.

The effect of this attack on other Muslims also seem obvious. What Simpson and Soofi did makes their religion look bad. As CNN mentioned, one local imam even admitted as much:

Shortly after the Sunday night shooting, a prominent Muslim leader in Dallas said tweeted that the incident was “just what we didn’t want.”

“The community stayed away from event,” wrote Imam Zia Sheikh. “Seems like a lone wolf type of attack. Just what we didn’t want.”

I’m sure they’ll do all they can to disavow these two, and insist their actions shouldn’t reflect poorly on Islam as a religion. The problem, of course, is that … well, it does, even if they’d prefer it didn’t.

My advice to them is the same advice I’ve given to American Christians who tell me the antics of militant Christianists shouldn’t reflect poorly on them, and that is: It’s your religion. You picked it. It belongs to you. If your co-believers are making your faith — and, in turn, you — look bad, then get off your asses and do something about it! Sniff out the extremists in your midst (after all, who else could recognize them as such?). Rein them in. Correct them. Discipline them. Control them. Stop them. Do whatever you must, in order to whip them into line.

Because after all, if you don’t respect your own religion enough to police it, you can’t rationally expect outside observers to respect it, too, or respect you for following it!

To think otherwise is like when “the Wizard” in The Wizard of Oz ordered Dorothy and company to “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.” It didn’t work in the movie, and it doesn’t work in real life.

Lastly, because this shooting happened due to Islamists’ hatred of Muhammad depictions, I’m following my usual policy of adding one to this post. It’s the winner of this contest:

'You can't draw me!' / 'That's why I draw you.' / Bosh Fawstin, winner of contest in Garland, TX / via The Freethinker

‘You can’t draw me!’ / ‘That’s why I draw you.’ / Bosh Fawstin, winner of contest in Garland, TX / via The Freethinker

It would behoove Muslims who dislike these sorts of things to pay attention to what’s called the Streisand effect and not let their righteous indignation get so far out of control that it actually calls attention to things they’d rather no one ever saw. If they’d just calm down and shut up about Muhammad drawings, people might stop drawing him.

Photo credit: Top, ABC News; bottom, Bosh Fawstin via The Freethinker.

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Psychic VisionsI’ve blogged a couple times about the late fraudulent “psychic” Sylvia Browne. Five years ago Skeptical Inquirer surveyed many of her predictions and pronouncements; of those for which the results were known, not a single fucking one of them proved true. A couple years ago she was proven dead wrong about an additional one.

It’s that last story I’m blogging about now.

It involves the Cleveland abductions, which were revealed 2 years ago this month (WebCite cached article). Back in 2004, about a year and a half after her abduction, Amanda Berry (in captivity) watched her mother appear on The Montel Williams Show with Ms Browne (cached). The liar told Louwana Miller — with certainty she couldn’t have had, especially since it wasn’t true — that her missing daughter was dead. A couple years after that, the broken-hearted mother — convinced that Browne was correct — died in despair, essentially mourning a daughter who — it turned out — wasn’t dead (cached).

Now that Berry released a memoir, we know the heartarche Browne’s lie also caused her (cached).

Even people who are smart enough to know “psychics” are full of shit, often dismiss them by saying, “What’s the harm?” So what if people want to think Sylvia Browne’s bullshit was truthful? They want to think so … so let them, this reasoning goes. But here, I’m afraid, is one example of precisely where the “harm” is visible: In lives ruined by “psychics'” lies. A truly cold-hearted person might say, “If people choose to be gullible then let them live with the consequences.” In that case, Louwana Miller would be responsible for her own broken spirit and, perhaps, death. But Browne’s bullshit, and Miller’s death, caused Ms Berry anguish she never actually signed up for. Browne’s bullshit compounded her already-horrific ordeal … and it did so unnecessarily.

I note that Montel Williams apologized, but he did so on Facebook (cached) with a classic non-apology apology: He’s sorry his show caused pain. That’s all. He’s not sorry he repeatedly put a fraud on television; he’s not sorry he’s the reason Browne was able to break Berry’s mother’s heart with her lies; he’s not sorry he gave credibility to a liar.

In case it wasn’t already evident, the time has come for the mass media to break free from psychics’ bullshit and lies. Stop being complicit in their schemes. Stop airing them. Stop giving them credence. Stop reporting on them. Stop showing them as though they actually have magical powers — because they don’t, and they never will. Show them only in exposés that reveal them as the frauds they are.

“Psychics'” bullshit quite simply needs to stop. A mass media moratorium on “psychics,” mediums, “seers,” etc. is needed — now. Immediately, if not sooner. We can’t wait any longer.

Oh, and if viewers/listeners/readers don’t like it? Well, fuck them. Give them no choice but to go cold turkey.

Photo credit: MTSOfan, via Flickr.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

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