A guest post by Robert Fendt. Please address comments appropriately. 🙂
(Note: this text deals with harassment, sexism, misogyny, racism and transphobia. Readers’ discretion is advised.)
Dear reader: are you male? White? Heterosexual? Cisgender? Healthy? Congratulations: this text is for you. It also means you are among us lucky ones who get to play the game called ‘life’ on the easiest setting there is. Don’t believe it? Read on.
Disclaimer: I’m also a white male cisgender heterosexual person. And for a long time, I would have said about me having it particularly easy in life: don’t be ridiculous. But I do have friends and colleagues who are not male, who are not white, who are not heterosexual, who are not cisgender, some of whom have to deal with disability or illness, and listening to them has changed and reshaped my perspective. It’s time it changed the perspectives of us all.
In the ‘western’ countries, freedom of opinion and speech are fundamental rights, designed to protect minorities from persecution. So how ironic is it that nowadays ‘free speech’ also functions as a smoke screen for the harassment of women and minorities?
Imagine being a woman walking down the street. Now try to guess how common cat calls and whistles are, and how many unsolicited comments about your body and looks you get. Try to guess how common it is that strangers come uncomfortably close or even touch you without your consent. If you guessed “rarely”, then guess again. Being a woman in public means being scrutinised and ogled and commented upon, at the very least. And now do me a favor: honestly try to imagine being in that position. Imagine dealing with stuff like that. For every. Single. Fucking. Day.
Continue reading “(Guest Post) Words of mass destruction: the weaponization of 'free speech'”
And good riddance.
Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the Duck Dynasty reality television show, recently did an interview in GQ — yes, Gentlemen’s Quarterly — wherein he described how his evangelical Christian beliefs come into conflict with the idea that some people might be gay in an absolutely offensive display of what many Christians really do believe. His TV show on A&E about his family of conservative rednecks — who became rich after he built an empire on the Duck Commander duck lures — now faces the terrible wrath of public opinion.
When my sister heard the news that he’d given his interview in GQ, and that GLAAD had publicly denounced his words, she posted a link on her Facebook wall. One of her friends — an ex co-worker apparently — swanned in to drop this steaming pile of opinion on her wall about how terrible it was… that anyone was asking A&E to reconsider hosting this douchenozzle’s opinion.
Continue reading “A Dynasty Falls”
One of the more ridiculous memes that’s gained a disproportionate amount of traction in the freethought community is that of “witch hunts”. It’s the idea that there’s some roving band of bloggers and commenters hunting for the least appearance of deviation from the One True Path and punishing with extreme prejudice without evidence or empathy. It’s that if you dare speak up, you’ll be unfairly tarred and silenced and black-bagged and murdered and possibly eaten.
This band is invariably called “FTB”, “FTBullies”, “FTB and Skepchick”, or some mutation of the network’s name that includes the word “from” or “feminist”. Lately the smear also applies to atheism plus — mostly because that label, in being inclusive of outgroups, makes an outgroup of bigots and misogynists. Doesn’t matter if the people involved are actually from either network — it’s enough to use our site name as a shibboleth, to associate it with this opposition-to-the-haters as though that’s somehow a bad thing.
What’s actually going on here, though, is significantly different.
Continue reading “Holding clay feet to witch-burning fires”
The story I mentioned yesterday has another twist. But first, I need to set a few things straight.
Everything about William Swinimer’s “defiant” wearing of the t-shirt that calls non-Christian lives “wasted” smacks of martyrdom to me. In a very small township like Chester Basin, in a school where most of the population is Christian and of the less than tolerant kind, Swinimer’s exhortations that he’s doing it to stand up to the bullies smacks not only of hyperbole but of outright fabrication. My first instinct when I read this story was not to once again assign blame for the situation on the ridiculous hate speech laws Canada has to suffer (which, yes, this case does have that fatal flaw at its core), but rather to lament that the school board completely mishandled this case and let it spiral out of control, taking action at the least-actionable offense to their, and all of our, detriment. This led to some misunderstandings about my feelings in comments and on Facebook, but they’ve evidently since been cleared up.
There’s a lot more to the story than the National Post discussed, though. For instance, via CBC, apparently William’s father John pulled him out of classes on the same day he was supposed to return from his suspension, wearing the probably rank t-shirt and all, when all students were scheduled to be able to participate in voluntary sessions on how to discuss religion without being disrespectful of others. Evidently William could have opted out, but his father opted him right the hell out of school altogether.
But John Swinimer said he wants Forest Heights Community School in Chester Basin, Lunenburg County, to only teach the basic courses, leaving religion out of it.
“He will not attend this school unless they are having reading, writing and arithmetic — good old-fashioned academics,” he said, waving a New Testament bible. “When they’re having forums, when they’re having other extra-curricular activity, he will not attend that school.”
Continue reading “Jesus t-shirt kid pulled from school by dad til they stop discussing being respectful”
I want to clear out the twenty comments I have pending moderation — the only twenty comments to hit moderation since I joined Freethought Blogs. These comments came from people who have earned “bans” (which, around here, means they can post but only I see it) for various reasons, and in one major case, from someone who wanted to keep arguing long after he was blocked for threadjacking, thread hogging, mistreating me and basically every commenter, and being a general douchenozzle. I post these not to legitimize anything anyone’s said, but because I actually care a significant amount more about free speech than some of these aforementioned douchenozzles seem to believe. I don’t particularly like any of the lines of argumentation proffered by the people in question, but I don’t, also, want to simply black-hole them because that just ain’t my style.
So, I’m going to post these comments here. Think of this more as my having stopped people from shitting on the rug, forcing them to shit in the chamber pot, where I’ll now dump out the contents for any interested parties to see. If you dislike anti-feminist sentiment, misogyny, specious argumentation, or DavidByron, I strongly recommend you skip this post. If you’re just looking for whargarbl, there’s plenty to be had here.
Goes without saying — expect the possibility of triggering language from misogynist fuckwits. Funny that it’s only them who landed there.
Continue reading “The twenty comments in my moderation queue”
Despite what I said in the title of my recent post, it appears SOPA’s being put on hold by the Republicans was a temporary measure and it will return far sooner than any of us could have hoped. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith issued a press release stating that markup will resume in February.
Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today said that he expects the Committee to continue its markup of the Stop Online Piracy Act in February.
Chairman Smith: “To enact legislation that protects consumers, businesses and jobs from foreign thieves who steal America’s intellectual property, we will continue to bring together industry representatives and Members to find ways to combat online piracy.
“Due to the Republican and Democratic retreats taking place over the next two weeks, markup of the Stop Online Piracy Act is expected to resume in February.
“I am committed to continuing to work with my colleagues in the House and Senate to send a bipartisan bill to the White House that saves American jobs and protects intellectual property.”
Tomorrow, if I have my way, you’re going to have to click through a splash screen to get at the blog. If it annoys you, complain to your local representatives. Tell them hi from Canada.