Horsemen of the Atheist Douchepocalypse.

Listen. All human beings have huge blind spots: in the neurological/cognitive sense, the pernicious cluelessness inherent in the very nature of privilege, and cavernous gaps in our knowledge and experiences—all of which by definition cannot figure into our judgements. As it turns out, it is only to the extent that we acknowledge these truths about ourselves that we stand any chance of becoming more enlightened about the realities of the world, and, perhaps, better human beings. In this regard, certain Horsemen have been a bit of a disappointment—to put it mildly.

Richard Dawkins.

I have read every book The Dawk has ever written (although I admit I got lost about halfway through The Extended Phenotype). He was hardly the only author I read during my torrid affair with evolutionary biology: Carl Zimmer, Jerry Coyne and Neil Shubin come to mind, and there were others. But I have to say that—especially by the measure of “wow” moments, where I found myself gaping in awe at the wonders of life on Earth—Dawkins reigned supreme. He is a naturally gifted writer, with that rare talent for explaining complex scientific subject matter to the uninitiated. The God Delusion was a great read too, of course. But as soon as he started fapping away with that Dear Muslima shit and just kept doubling down, I wrote him off. The mask had slipped, and underneath I saw an ugly, arrogant asshole who could never be wrong about women or sexism—or about anything at all, for that matter.

Here is a man worth an estimated $135 million pettily accusing bloggers who criticize him of bullying, faking outrage, and doing it all for the page clicks. You see, no one could possibly be criticizing him for saying factually wrong and harmful things in the (futile) hope that he will stop doing that. Well, okay, in my case I mock him for the lulz, in part because I thoroughly enjoy skewering unrepentant shitweasels. But I also think it’s important and necessary to do so—if, that is, one wishes to change the culture in which said shitweasels operate with impunity. But even though in this instance his “page clicks” accusation is embarassingly wrong, does he write for free? No? I didn’t think so. And while there is nothing wrong with making money from writing, bloggers make chump change—which makes the clickbait j’accuse particularly hilarious coming from an obscenely wealthy author. And as for the “bullying” charge—coming from the man who shat forth Dear Muslima—I’ll just quote PZ: “since when is standing up to the two biggest names in the atheist movement a case of bullying? That’s simply delusional.”

And here is a “rationalist” who writes, with zero sense of irony or self-awareness, in a blog post entitled Are there emotional no-go areas where logic dare not show its face? that it is:

deplorable that there are many people in the same atheist community who are literally afraid to think and speak freely, afraid to raise even hypothetical questions such as those I have mentioned in this article. They are afraid – and I promise you I am not exaggerating – of witch-hunts: hunts for latter day blasphemers by latter day Inquisitions and latter day incarnations of Orwell’s Thought Police.

Rebecca Watson deals very nicely with “witch-hunting” here, but suffice it to say that telling someone “you are demonstrably wrong and saying harmful things, here is why, please stop doing that” is not in fact a witch hunt, an Inquisition, or thought-policing of any kind: Dawkins has built an entire career out of saying EXACTLY THAT to creationists and godbots. For fuck’s sake.

What a douche.

Sam Harris.

I’d never been a big admirer of Sam Harris, but since my good friend SJ is a fan I’ve had occasion to look at some of his work more closely. My main problem is that I find him a tedious writer (and speaker). Whatever brilliant insights he may have (if any) are often difficult to tease out of a morass of bland wankery: I feel like I’m back in college slogging through a boring textbook I have to suffer through to pass a test. Perhaps this is just a matter of personal aesthetic taste: what my brilliant friend finds incisive and clear, I find witless and dull. I would argue however, that if Harris is so often misunderstood by his critics—liberal or otherwise—that ought to count as evidence against incisive and clear. But beyond that, if your erudite moral philosophy has lead you to justify torture, yer doin’ it rong. Not a priori, either: even tossing aside basic human rights (!), torture doesn’t work. (And, interestingly enough, it also has negative consequences for torturers.) Harris’s latest gender-essentialist drivel and subsequent ‘splainin are pure comedy gold, coming as they do from such an Esteemed Intellectual™, but it’s not as if I feel personally disappointed by his douchiness or anything. I’ve just never held him in very high regard.

Christopher Hitchens.

Hitchens was a brilliant writer: the d00d spewed liquid fire from his pen. I followed his writings religiously (<—hahaha omg I crack myself up) in Vanity Fair, and his books just lit me up. Wit, passion, eloquence, astonishing historical and literary knowledge, and an unrivaled sense of glee at knocking down sacred cows, with great panache. He held some truly horrendous opinions about war, and more to the point here, wore his misogyny like a fucking badge of honor. World Class Douche, I’d say. But you know what? At least I knew where my gender stood in his estimation, so I could keep him at a safe distance like a creepy uncle. Frankly, I much prefer that to watching clueless and arrogant weasels enamored with their Superior Intellects™ spin embarrassing rationalizations for the sloppy and demonstrably false sexist shit they spew—all because they can never, ever be wrong, or gawdferbid apologize.

Tick-tock, tick-tock…

Is it only a matter of time before Daniel Dennett says something epically misogynist? I don’t know about you, but I’m not waiting around. (For all I know he already has. Whatever.) And for the record, the Horsedouches are hardly alone: James Randi, Ron Lindsay, DJ Grothe, Phil Mason (“Thunderf00t”), Michael Shermer, TJ Kincaid (“The Amazing Atheist”) and other so-called “leaders” in the movement have all been appalling shits to women. When Steven Novella recently spoke to a reporter, he recounted that “Back in the ’90s, up until our movement exploded online, this was an old boys’ network. The guys would look around and go, ‘Where the hell are all the women?’” Great question. Except it has long been evident to me that not everyone asking that question has the same motivation. Let’s bring more women to the table because we want to expand our movement and they have so much to contribute is not quite the same sentiment as let’s bring in more women so we can hit on, harass, abuse and maybe fuck them, heh-heh. Extraordinary women have already bailed, and who knows how many others have taken one look at the movement, and run.

Of course atheism has a misogyny problem. The internet has a misogyny problem. The entire world has a misogyny problem. You can choose to be part of the solution, or to bask in the comfortable ignorance of unjust privilege and ancient superstition, and thus accept and perpetuate a very ugly status quo.

There are too many smart, fiery thinkers and writers who want to be called out on their privilege when they fuck up (as all of us do), who are eager to learn from others’ knowledge and experiences and de-center their own, who are delighted to change their preconceived notions upon consideration of evidence and reason, and who can somehow manage to say these words: “I’m sorry. I fucked up. I now understand why. I will do better in the future.”

It’s really not that hard. Unless, of course, you’re a narcissistic little shitweasel. In which case, please accept this hearty Palace fuck you.

palacefuckyouHave a nice day. :D

Recent reading.

Schizophrenia not a single disease but multiple genetically distinct disorders. Dryden, J., Washington University in St. Louis (Sep. 2014).

Black Lung Among Coal Miners At Highest Level In 40 Years. Valentine, K., Think Progress (Sep. 2014).

This Legendary Accounting Firm Just Ran the Numbers on Climate Change: We’re 20 years away from catastrophe, says PricewaterhouseCoopers. West, J., Mother Jones (Sep. 2014).

Rush Limbaugh on consent for sex: ‘No means yes if you know how to spot it’. Edwards, D., Raw Story (Sep. 2014). [Also: up means down, war means peace... -Feminazi Ed.]

5 Things I Learned as the Internet’s Most Hated Person. Quinn, Z., Cracked (Sep. 2014).

A Woman’s Room Online. Roth, A.D., CFI Los Angeles in conjunction with LAWAAG  (Sep. 2014). (This “art installation is about online harassment and stalking from the perspective of women, feminist bloggers and journalists who earn at least part of their income from working online.”)

Dear Innocent People Murdered in Witch Hunts. Watson, R., Skepchick (Sep. 2014). [Rebecca Watson hoists The Dawk by his own petard. -Ed.]

US government threatens to prosecute families of James Foley and Steven Sotloff. Williamson, N., Rebellious Investigative News & Film (Sep. 2014). (“threats of prosecution made against the families of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, who were brutally beheaded on video by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).”) [h/t nubs]

4 Ways to Be Gender Inclusive When Discussing Abortion. Qu’emi, J., Everyday Feminism (Aug. 2014).

Sen. Maria Cantwell wants to strip the NFL of its tax-exempt status. Connelly, J., The Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Sep. 2014).

__________

NOTE: The acquisition of links for the Palace Library does not imply the Palace’s 100% agreement with or endorsement of any content, organization, source or individual. Just for example, Rush Limbaugh.

Major Award: Badass of the Day.

Tiana Ramos hails from Front Royal, a Northern Virginia town of 14,000 people, that lies within commuting distance from Washington, DC. Ramoa is a 17 year old high school senior, who opened her own bakery at a local mall in June. Naughty Girls Donut Shop is a kitschy mash-up of Tiana’s twin passions for World War II-era pinup art (Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable, Bettie Page) and rockabilly culture; it evokes a 1950’s diner, splashed with hot pinks and bold reds, black-&-white tile floors, and glass showcases glistening with gooey confections. Tiana’s mom (and business partner) Natalie describes the place as “rockabilly and fun, family friendly, chalkboard walls, bring your kids, you can have them standing on the table, we don’t care.”

donuts2Tiana and a handful of her staff bake donuts every morning before their school day, then return for shifts afterward; she also works every weekend. Her employees “have all been through tragedies in their past,” she says, “between bullying or fighting with their parents so that they are no longer living with their parents, or living in a car.” She hopes her bakery will provide a refuge for anyone bullied at school, or who feels they don’t belong in Front Royal.

wakinbaconThe Waken Bacon.
A Madagascar vanilla yeast donut topped with caramel espresso glaze, crispy country peppered bacon and homemade toffee bits.
(I iz dyin’…)

The “naughty” in the name gives a flirty wink to the portraits on the walls—and to those calorie-laden confections we all know we should probably resist, but don’t stand a chance. (Ingredients are sourced from local farmers when possible.) “Naughty” is also a nod to Tiana’s personality: “I dress like a total rebel,” says Tiana. “I got ripped jeans on and have shirts that have my favorite bands on it.” Moreover, “I have tattoos, and I don’t dress like the good kid that goes to church every Sunday.”

talkdonutsIn other words: Tiana Ramos is a lovely, fun-loving teenager—if considerably more ambitious than most.

donutfriedchicken

Donut Fried Chicken. Chicken fried in donut batter, with Honey Pecan Glaze.
Also available: Sriracha Glazed, Bourbon BBQ Sauce, Orange Chipotle Glaze, Jalapeno Herb Glaze and Traditional Buffalo Sauce.
(All entrees come with a side of donuts because of course they do.)

irisdonutTiana donates considerable time and money to her community, so far contributing more than $28,000 to support local businesses, and $2,000 to purchase back-to-school backpacks for underprivileged kids. She supports the local homeless shelter, 4-H club, athletic associations and high schools, Elk lodges, hospitals and charities. She was recently awarded a full scholarship to the Culinary Institute of America. Oh, and she mentors younger high school students harboring entreprenurial ambitions.

Very “naughty,” indeed.

tripletreatsO. M. F. G.

Now readers might be under the impression that all of this would be enough to merit Tiana Ramos the elusive and highly coveted Perry Street Palace Major Award for Badass of the Day™. And I have to tell you, it would be a close call. But what catapulted her over the top is something she said—but we’ll get to that in a minute. First a little background (via Raw Story):

[T]he store’s name, and its framed artwork featuring photos of Marilyn Monroe and Betty Page, have drawn the ire of “a strong Conservative Alliance group” in the town, accusing Ramos and her business of promoting promiscuous behavior.

Within a week of opening, the teen’s mother said, someone drove past and threw garbage at the door.

“They literally threw trash at the door and said, ‘Naughty girls burn in hell,’” said Natalie Ramos. “I started bawling, right there.”

Harassment from cretinous conservatives has continued online: Yelp, Facebook, Twitter and email. Here’s one:

lanapooleemail

Comment: That is a ridiculous name for a donut shop, especially if you want customers! Perhaps you only want to attract male customers. I can assure you that I WILL NOT be patronizing your establishment, and will be sure that none of my friends will. I have a feeling we won’t have to worry about you for long.

Some outfit called “Local Catholics of Front Royal” are threatening a boycott, and a whisper campaign got back to the shop when the mother of a Naughty Girls employee reported being asked to boycott because…their logo features a stylized devil’s tail.

naughtygirlslogoThe road to hell is paved with…delicious donuts.

evilhussies“They were talking about how the girls look like hussies. They didn’t talk about the food or the service,” Natalie Ramos said. “They were saying that the shop represents sluts and anyone who works there is promiscuous. It was a lot of negativity that didn’t need to be there.”

“I wish they would actually get to know me, because I’m not the person they think I am,” Tiana said.

Oh, I don’t know about that. Maybe you are, Tiana. You’re an ambitious, grounded, talented, independent, amazing young woman. And that’s exactly what terrifies them.

Fort Royal, as it turns out, has recently seen some other newsworthy happenings: the town has been embroiled in a heated controversy over efforts to overturn a decades-old ban prohibiting fortunetelling, “gypsies” and other “magic arts.” You see, some residents really want to keep that important ban (which by the way has never been enforced) on the town’s books because they fear—I shit you not—“Satanism.” (Note: The Palace does not endorse con artists plying their trades on the unwitting and desperate, and that goes for clergy, too, who are spewing exactly the same supernatural bullshit. But the fact remains that it is all constitutionally protected speech.) Let’s listen in on the Town Council’s public hearing on the witchcraft ban, shall we?

[Resident] Elizabeth Poel asked council why it would take the action to benefit pagans — a small part of the population…Poel also linked the thrift store on Main Street and the tarot-card reading operation to the Center for Workforce Development and its efforts to provide opportunities to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth. Poel said she surmised the center plans to recruit youth to increase the number of homosexuals in Front Royal.

“We do not advocate abuse or harm to any homosexuals,” Poel said. “Such would be contrary to the virtue of charity. However, homosexuals do not usually extend such charity much less tolerance toward homosexuals who do not agree with them. You need to understand that most parents want neither pagan practitioners nor homosexuals to have access to the minds, bodies and souls of their children.”

Poel told council a “strong connection” exists between homosexuality and paganism.

She seems nice. Not to mention very knowledgeable.

Thomas Centrella spoke against the repeal and warned that the presence of fortunetelling would cause crime to increase in town.

“Do you want it to be your legacy that you are the ones who opened the door in this community to make Front Royal a haven for witchcraft, fortunetelling and other pagan practices?” Centrella asked council. “I guarantee you that no American family, religious or not, will want to raise their children next to a shop that sells fortunetelling, tarot cards, witchcraft and so forth.”

See, Thomas, this is where your disconnect from reality just makes you look silly. Because I can guarantee you that American families are indeed raising their children next to a shop that sells fortunetelling, tarot cards, witchcraft and so forth, on Christopher Street right up the block from where I am presently sitting. (And it ain’t exactly cheap, either).

And speaking of Manhattan:

Eleanor Kelly speaks to Front Royal Town Council at a public hearing Monday on the repeal of a ban on fortunetelling. “I have come from Manhattan where I have seen a multitude of activities and, please, let me assure you that this activity is not one that will keep our community the wonderful community it is and it is in your hands, your responsibility, to keep it.”

Poor Eleanor has been here, and she has seen a multitude of activities! Apparently she missed out on the drag show at Lucky Cheng’s, though, because otherwise she would know that virtually every American community would be improved by that particular…um, multitude of activities. How one could even call Fort Royal a “wonderful community” without a Lucky Cheng’s is frankly beyond me.

(The town council d00ds were evenly split on the witchcraft ban: the mayor broke the tie to overturn the ban.)

But in all fairness, Fort Royal does have one Tiana Ramos going for it. Tiana was asked whether these crackpot loons could convince her to relocate her bakery. “Heck no,” she said. “They’re the reason we’re staying here.”

BOOM. There it is. That is the reason we are pleased to announce that Tiana Ramos is the recipient of the elusive and highly coveted Perry Street Palace Major Award for Badass of the Day™.

tianaramosmajorawardCongratulations. Well done, madame.

tianaramosTiana at the Palace’s award ceremony.

donuts1While I absolutely adore, admire and applaud Ms. Ramos for this statement, it is my fervent hope—and I say this selflessly, with no ulterior motives on my part whatsoever—that as soon as she finishes school, she will open a Naughty Girls Donut Shop in NYC. In my neighborhood. On my block. On the ground floor of my building. IN MY APARTMENT.

She’s going places. Watch her:

Richard Dawkins, hysterical dumbass.

[UPDATE: cross-posted at Secular Woman.]

[CONTENT NOTE: misogyny; harassment; rape; rape apologia.]

Richard Dawkins has been keeping himself very busy indeed during his stay as an involuntary organ donor in the Palace Abattoir. In response to a widely-read piece by Mark Oppenheimer about misogyny in the atheoskeptisphere, he has bravely taken to Twitter to defend his BFF Michael Shermer, the notorious subject of multiple accusations of predatory sexual behavior toward women. Shermer’s MO, as described in the Oppenheimer piece by TAM staffer Alison Smith, shares most of the typical hallmarks of an overwhelming number of rapists-at-large: boundary testing; planning assaults using sophisticated strategies to isolate victims; deploying psychological manipulation, e.g., power, control; and last but certainly not least, using alcohol deliberately in order to render targets more vulnerable if not outright unconscious. They calculate, quite correctly it turns out, that this particular modus operandi puts them at miniscule risk of ever being accused—let alone reported, investigated, arrested, prosecuted, convicted and jailed. Regardless of whether you believe Smith’s or other women’s accounts regarding Shermer, these are just facts, and this is how rape culture works in the real world.

But not in Dawkinsland, it doesn’t. Nope! Yesterday, in defense of Michael Shermer the Infallible King of Reason tweeted:

RDtweetdrunkdriving“Officer, it’s not my fault I was drunk driving. You see, somebody got me drunk.” -Richard Dawkins

Astute readers will note that this is Richard Dawkins taking Smith’s allegations as true, knowing that by all accounts (including his own) Shermer was sober during the alleged incident, and then oh-so-very-cleverly sneering that she is responsible—by likening an alleged rape victim to a drunk driver.

Here’s Stephanie Zvan with a nice fisk:

He doesn’t appear to believe Shermer’s story, which is that Shermer had sex with Smith after she sobered up. Dawkins took Smith’s story as read, although he isolated it from Ashley’s story and Pamela’s.

Then he ignored the parts of that story that make Smith’s lack of consent and Shermer’s knowledge of it clear. He ignored that Shermer followed Smith away from the party. He ignored the promise to help Smith back to her room, only to end up in Shermer’s. Instead, he grasped the fact that Smith was drunk to the point of not remembering parts of the evening and used that to assign responsibility to her. He claimed Smith was responsible for the encounter despite the one fact that both parties agree on being that Shermer was sober.

He believed her story, not Shermer’s.

He believed she was intoxicated.

He knew Shermer was not, from all sources of information.

He believed Shermer deceived her in the process of getting her past the point of being able to consent.

Then he tweeted that she was responsible for the encounter.

Then he compared Shermer following Smith away from the party to Smith driving drunk.

Then he compared Shermer taking Smith to a different room than promised to Smith driving drunk.

Then he compared Shermer sexually assaulting Smith to Smith driving drunk.

I’ma say this once more for the cheap seats:

THE ONLY THING A RAPE VICTIM HAS DONE “WRONG” IS TO FIND HERSELF (OR HIMSELF) IN THE PRESENCE OF A RAPIST.

Fortunately, the vast majority of men do not rape. But those who do can always rely on victim-blaming shitweasels like Richard Dawkins to provide comfort and cover, so they can continue to operate unimpeded.

Then the Lord of All Logic tweeted this:

RDtweetREALrapecultureThe REAL Rape Culture: “All occurrences of sexual intercourse are rape unless there is certified evidence to the contrary.” -Richard Dawkins

No, my precious little cupcake: All occurrences of sexual intercourse are rape unless there is consent. This is really not difficult for most people to grok. And I find it… telling interesting when people are so highly motivated not to grok it. Before he deleted this tweet (“claiming it was sarcastic. There’s no word on what part of it he didn’t mean, however…”), he responded to a follower concerned that he “might fall in trouble again with Feminists”:

 

RDtweetcertainkindoffeministWith a certain kind of feminist, of course. Not with feminists who truly respect women instead of patronising them as victims -Richard Dawkins

This one sent PZ off on a righteous rant (which I highly recommend reading in its entirety):

Who are these mysterious patronizing feminists? They don’t actually exist. You are echoing a strategy of denial: you approve of feminists, but not the ones who actually point out sexist problems in our culture, or fight against discrimination, or point out that they’ve been raped, or abused, or cheated in the workplace, or any of the other realities of a sexist culture. This is what anti-feminists say: be quiet about the problems. If you mention the problems, you are perpetuating the sisterhood of oppression, you are playing the martyr, you are being a pathetic victim who must be treated with contempt.

But if no woman speaks out about the problems, how will we ever know to correct them? If we shame every victim for being a victim and daring to reveal her victimhood, it becomes very easy to pretend that there is no oppression.

Oh, silly PZ! You see, in Dawkinsville there are no “victims,” only irresponsible drunk drivers crashing themselves willy-nilly right into rapists’ penises!

But this morning’s tweet absolutely takes the cake:

RDtweetjailingRaping a drunk woman is appalling. So is jailing a man when the sole prosecution evidence is “I was too drunk to remember what happened.” -Richard Dawkins

Heh.

Hahaha.

HOLY SHIT HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! 

Now, Twitter is a unique medium with pros and cons like every other; suffice it to say it does not particularly lend itself to schooling pompous assholes on the many wonders of reality. But I did my best:

iristweetfalsereports

@RichardDawkins false reports: est. 2-8%. Rape hugely underreported. 3% of rapist[s] do jail time. Now go away and learn how to think. -Iris Vander Pluym

(Incidentally, citations for these statistics can be found all over the fucking internet here and here.)

iristweetevidencetoodrunk@RichardDawkins As if men are prosecuted when “the sole prosecution evidence is ‘I was too drunk to remember what happened.'” #dumbass -Iris Vander Pluym

Jeezus. “I was too drunk to remember what happened” is exculpatory evidence: it creates reasonable doubt and nearly always benefits the accused. That is why prosecutors almost universally do not take such cases to trial: when they do, they lose, and this is true even when they present heaps of additional incriminating evidence to a jury. Seriously, this has got to be the stupidest thing His Intellectual Excellency has ever said—and that is saying something, my friends.

PZ’s plea to Dawkins closes:

And could you please stop supporting reactionary anti-feminists? Thanks.

No, he cannot. Because the World’s Greatest Rationalist is a reactionary anti-feminist, and thus there is no reasoning with him.

[for Tony.]

I am such a meanie.

SCENE: afternoon, a bar in the West Village.

IRIS eats mac&cheese, drinks rosé and reads Important Stuff on her iphone.

WOMAN places shopping bag on adjacent bar stool and says something unintelligible.

IRIS: I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you?

WOMAN: I said, you’re a young woman with an old soul. I do readings. I’m a shaman.

IRIS: No you’re not.

WOMAN: Yes I am! And your aura is just blazing, especially above your crown…

IRIS: No it’s not.

WOMAN: Yes it is! I can see it and it’s-

IRIS: No you can’t. Because there’s no such thing.

WOMAN: [grabs shopping bag.] Well if YOU say so! [storms out.]

IRIS: [checks for wallet, sips rosé.] Yep.

aaaaaand SCENE.

Recent reads.

Son, Men Don’t Get Raped. Penn, N., GQ (Sep. 2014). (“Sexual assault is alarmingly common in the U.S. military, and more than half of the victims are men. According to the Pentagon, thirty-eight military men are sexually assaulted every single day. These are the stories you never hear—because the culprits almost always go free, the survivors rarely speak, and no one in the military or Congress has done enough to stop it.”)

The flesh is weak: On the Erection Equals Consent rape myth. Fogg, A., freethoughtblogs (Sep. 2014). (“Rape myths take many forms, and male victims have their own myths to bust.”)

Researchers search for genes behind intelligence, find almost nothing. Timmer, J., Ars Technica (Sep. 2014). [Makes sense. I know when I search for intelligence, I find almost nothing. -Ed.]

Colorado marijuana tax revenues surge as recreational sales surpass medical. Ingraham, C., The Washington Post (Sep. 2014).

In Texas, Activist Group “Stop Patriarchy” Draws Criticism. Klabusich, K., Bitch Magazine (Aug. 2014).

No One Has to Ask Permission to Fight For Women’s Equality: A response to Katie Klabusich’s attack on Stop Patriarchy in Bitch Magazine. Downer, C., Counterpunch (Sep. 2014).

QUOTE:

I learned something this evening that explains a lot of human phenomena. People are stupid. -PZ Myers

Happy Friday, Loyal Readers™!

palacehappyface

Welcome to the Abattoir, Missouri State Senators!

Missouri state senators convened a Very Special legislative session specifically to override the Democratic governor’s vetoes, including that of a bill imposing a 72-hour waiting period between an already-mandated physician counseling session and an abortion. Earlier this year, the d00ds (they are all d00ds) rejected an amendment to the bill that would have granted exceptions for victims of rape and incest.

Think Progress notes:

Even though the state only has one abortion clinic left, lawmakers have considered more than 30 different anti-abortion bills this session. Planned Parenthood, which operates that clinic, points out that some women have to travel more than 100 miles to get to it. Now that some of them will be required to make that trip twice — once to receive the mandatory “counseling” about the procedure, and a second time to have the actual abortion three days later — it could be too costly and time-consuming for the women who can’t afford to take time away from their jobs and their families.

Missouri, which has one of the worst rates of gun crime in the country, does not impose a waiting period before residents are allowed to purchase firearms. That’s typical of many of the states that have imposed harsh restrictions on abortion. Across the nation, there are more waiting periods to have an abortion than there are to get a gun.

Priorities: Missouri has them. Obviously they have no problems requiring their urgent attention, except all the silly ladies who really need to go away and think—for three days—about what they’re doing at an abortion clinic in the first place.

Please give a warm Palace welcome to all of our new involuntary organ donors, who join Richard Dawkins in the Abattoir:

Dan Brown, Mike Cunningham, Tom Dempsey, Bob Dixon, Ed Emery, Mike Kehoe, Will Kraus, Brad Lager, John Lamping, Doug Libla, Brian Munzlinger, Brian Nieves, Mike Parson, David Pearce, Ron Richard, Gary Romine, David Sater, Rob Schaaf, Kurt Schaefer, Eric Schmitt, Ryan Silvey, Wayne Wallingford and Jay Wasson.

We will of course impose a 72-hour waiting period between arrival and organ extraction(s), so they can think about what they did to find themselves here in the first place.

Recent reads.

Radioactive Boar Roam The Forests Of Germany. Alford, J., iflscience (Sep. 2014). [WHAT.]

Scalia cited now-exonerated man as reason to support the death penalty. Clawson, L., Daily Kos (Sep. 2014).

After earthquake, Ohio suspends two wells for fracking wastewater. Hayden, J., Daily Kos (Sep. 2014).

Men, Women, and Gods, and Other Lectures. Gardener, H.H. (foreword by Ingersoll, R.G.), Truth Seeker (1885).

Prevalence and Characteristics of Sexual Violence, Stalking, and Intimate Partner Violence Victimization — National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey. Breiding, M.J. et al, CDC / 63(SS08);1-18 (Sep. 2014).

It’s Pronounced Metrosexual. (“online resource about snap judgments, identity, and oppression.”)

GoFundMe bans all content “relating to” abortion — leaves antiabortion campaigns active. McDonough, K., (Sep. 2014). (“The crowdfunding site allows users to raise money to ban abortion, but won’t allow women to raise money to get one.”

How Police Caught The Cop Who Allegedly Sexually Abused 8 Black Women. Testa, J., Buzzfeed (Sep. 2014).

__________

PLEASE NOTE: Acquisition of links for the Palace Library does not imply the Palace’s 100% agreement with or endorsement of any content, organization, source or individual.

Wake up and smell the freedom.

Allow me to bring to your attention two must-read stories in The Washington Post:

Stop and seize: Aggressive police take hundreds of millions of dollars from motorists not charged with crimes.

-and-

How municipalities in St. Louis County, Mo., profit from poverty.

Each is a tour de farce that would do Kafka, Orwell and Beckett proud.

Taken together or alone, these two pieces should disabuse anyone of the notion that the United States is broke: there is an endless font of money for militarizing police forces and training law enforcement in Stasi tactics (and that’s to say nothing of surveillance). Astute readers will note that this is as true under Obama during a recession as it was under Bush’s boom years. We suffer not from a lack of funds, but from a lack of humanity and wisdom.

The obscene waste of time, money and lives is the entirely predictable outcome—an emergent property, if you will—of an ubercapitalist, white supremacist culture, in a state of permanent war, under the rule of an intractably corrupt system.

For now.

Freethought Women Pioneers of REAL Wellness

Introduction

In a new book on WOs (Wellness Orgasms), Dr. Grant Donovan and I take note of the fact that many of the greatest minds in history have taken a rational, WO-filled view of life. We believe the sheer number of luminaries who favor science over religion is encouraging to freethinkers. Perhaps, in time, reason will overtake faith. When and if that ever happens, our species will better appreciate and look after the Earth’s extraordinary natural wonders. What’s more, we all will better appreciate the wonder of our chance existence.

Women Luminaries

One section of our book is devoted to people past and present that we chose to celebrate as “Luminaries of REAL Wellness.” We take a walk down what we call our “REAL Wellness Lane of Luminescence” with short bios of our heroes. There are 18 women and men selected as favorites who have contributed multiple WO-inspiring perspectives. Some are living, some not. We offer a few of their words for the insights they evoke and to encourage you to explore more of their life work.

Eight of the luminaries are women. In this essay, all of the women freethinkers who advanced the prospects of REAL wellness via reason, exuberance and liberty are highlighted. Enjoy these brief overviews of remarkable people to whom we all owe much.

Madalyn Murray O’Hair (1919-1995)

OHairMadalyn Murray O’Hair – Madalyn Murray O’Hair was a champion of secularism. Time magazine called Madalyn Murray O’Hair the most hated woman in America during her reign as a leading secularist in the second half of the 20th century. Her unyielding and, to most, abrasive defense of the wall separating government from religion was as effective as it was controversial. She relished every opportunity to provoke the faithful and challenge public officials who illegally granted religion special privilege in American life. School prayer was the first of many issues that brought Madalyn to public attention when she objected to Bible readings in the Baltimore public schools.

O’Hair founded American Atheists and debated religious leaders on a variety of issues across the land. She annoyed nearly everyone, including fellow religious skeptics and her life truly was an unhappy mess. She is credited with helping put a halt to plans that would have had astronaut Buzz Aldrin staging a televised communion on the moon. She also blocked a Texas law that would have required public officials to affirm belief in a Supreme Being. O’Hair tried, like many other atheists since, to get “In God We Trust” off coins and to prevent the pope from saying mass on the Mall in Washington, D.C. She also took legal action in efforts to put a stop to tax exemptions for churches.

Memorable quotes:

* I’ll tell you what you did with atheists for about 1500 years. You outlawed them from the universities or any teaching careers, besmirched their reputations, banned or burned their books or their writings of any kind, drove them into exile, humiliated them, seized their properties, arrested them for blasphemy. You dehumanized them with beatings and exquisite torture, gouged out their eyes, slit their tongues, stretched, crushed, or broke their limbs, tore off their breasts if they were women, crushed their scrotums if they were men, imprisoned them, stabbed them, disemboweled them, hanged them, burnt them alive. And you have nerve enough to complain to me that I laugh at you?

* This religion gives you goals which are outside of reality. It enriches your fantasy life with ugliness. It fills you with ideas of guilt over the most common human experiences — usually related to sex. In this room, right now, each of you, in your own lives, has agonized over the fact that you have masturbated. Masturbation isn’t sinful. If it feels good — do it. You have my blessing, and you yourself know how it relaxes you.

* People say, ‘So what? It’s just a little cross.’ What if it were a little swastika?

* Atheism may be defined as the mental attitude which unreservedly accepts the supremacy of reason and aims at establishing a lifestyle and ethical outlook verifiable by experience and the scientific method, independent of all arbitrary assumptions of authority and creeds.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali (1969 – present)

HirsiAliAyaan Hirsi Ali – A Somali-born American activist, writer and politician, Ali is known for her views on Islam, female genital mutilation, women’s rights and atheism. Author of two bestselling books, Infidel: My Life and Nomad: from Islam to America, she was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2005. Ali has several other distinctions and awards, including a free speech prize from the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, the Swedish Liberal Party’s Democracy Prize and the Moral Courage Award for commitment to conflict resolution, ethics and world citizenship.

Memorable quotes:

* All life is problem solving. There are no absolutes; progress comes through critical thought. Reason, not obedience, should guide our lives. Though it took centuries to crumble, the entire ossified cage of European social hierarchy – from kings to serfs, and between men and women, all of it shored up by the Catholic Church – was destroyed by this thought.

* When a ‘Life of Brian’ comes out with Muhammad in the lead role, directed by an Arab equivalent of Theo van Gogh, it will be a huge step forward.

* Tolerance of intolerance is cowardice.

Anne Nicol Gaylor (1926 – present)

Gaylor-AnnAnne Nicol Gaylor – As editor of the Middleton Times Tribune, Anne Nicole Gaylor editorialized from 1997 for legalized abortion. Requests from pregnant women in desperate straits led Ms Gaylor into volunteer activism for feminist rights. She founded the ZPG Abortion Referral Service in 1970, which resulted in 20,000-plus referrals for birth control, abortion and sterilization over an initial five year period. Two years later, she co-founded a charity to assist low-income women seeking abortions; a service that helped 14,000 women over a 32 year period. In 1976, Ms Gaylor and two others, including her daughter Anne Nicole, created the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) for the promotion of free thought and separation of state and church. Today, FFRF has over 21,000 members and a distinguished record of legal actions.

Memorable quotes:

* Nothing fails like prayer.

* There were many groups working for women’s rights but none of them dealt with the root cause of women’s oppression – religion.

* There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.

Wendy Kaminer (1950 – present)

Kaminer-WendyWendy Kaminer – A graduate of Smith College in 1971 and Boston University Law School in 1975, Kaminer spent her first years practicing law before switching to journalism in 1991. Her eight books include Sleeping with Extra-Terrestrials: The Rise of Irrationalism, Perils of Piety and Free for All: Defending Liberty in America Today. She has received many recognitions of a major nature, including the Extraordinary Merit Media Award from the National Women’s Political Caucus and a Guggenheim fellowship. The focus of Kaminer’s work includes atheism and state/church issues, the harm of religion’s influence on politics, civil liberties, psychology and the law.

Memorable quotes:

* Atheists generate about as much sympathy as pedophiles. But, while pedophilia may at least be characterized as a disease, atheism is a choice, a willful rejection of beliefs to which vast majorities of people cling.

* The magical thinking encouraged by any belief in the supernatural, combined with the vilification of rationality and skepticism, is more conducive to conspiracy theories than it is to productive political debate.

* I don’t care if religious people consider me amoral because I lack their beliefs in God. I do, however, care deeply about efforts to turn religious beliefs into law, and those efforts benefit greatly from the conviction that individually and collectively, we cannot be good without God.

Matilda Joslyn Gage (1826-1898)

Gage-MatildaMatilda Joslyn Gage – Ms Gage distinguished herself as a suffragette, abolitionist, Native American activist, secularist and feminist. She worked closely with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton as an eloquent spokesperson for the then outrageous idea that women had a natural right to vote. Matilda served as President of the National Woman Suffrage Association and in 1890 organized the Woman’s National Liberal Union devoted to separation of church and state. Over a century ago, Gage identified the church as the root cause of the oppression of women and also warned about a danger that confronts the country today, namely, a union of Catholics and Protestants attempting to put God in the Constitution and attack secular schools.

Memorable quotes:

* It is the church and not the state, to which the teaching of woman’s inferiority is due: it is the church which primarily commanded the obedience of woman to man. It is the church which stamps with religious authority the political and domestic degradation of woman.

* There is a word sweeter than mother, home or heaven. That word is liberty.

* In order to help preserve the very life of the Republic, it is imperative that women should unite upon a platform of opposition to the teaching and aim of that ever most unscrupulous enemy of freedom – the Church.

* During the ages, no rebellion has been of like importance with that of woman against the tyranny of the church and state; none has had its far reaching effects. We note its beginning; its progress will overthrow every existing form of these institutions; its end will be a regenerated world.

Butterfly McQueen (1911 – 1995)

McQueenButterfly McQueen – A dancer turned actress, Thelma “Butterfly” McQueen is best known for playing Prissy in “Gone with the Wind” (1939). She acted in twenty other movies and television into the 1950s. During World War II, she made many appearances on the Armed Forces Broadcast Jubilee as a comedienne. Butterfly was a nearly lifelong atheist. She retired from acting because studio executives felt she was insufficiently deferential for a black woman and so she often worked in service jobs including, ironically, as a maid, as a salesperson at Macy’s, a taxi dispatcher, running a snack shop and as a seamstress. She graduated in 1974, at age 64, from New York City College with a bachelor’s degree in political science.

Memorable quotes:

* As my ancestors are free from slavery, I am free from the slavery of religion.

* I’m an atheist and Christianity appears to me to be the most absurd imposture of all the religions and I’m puzzled that so many people can’t see through a religion that encourages irresponsibility and bigotry.

* They say the streets are going to be beautiful in heaven. Well, I’m trying to make the streets beautiful here…When it’s clean and beautiful, I think America is heaven. And some people are hell.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815 – 1902)

CadyStantonElizabeth Cady Stanton – Elizabeth Cady Stanton is viewed as the founding mother of the feminist movement. Her issues were women’s subjugation and religion’s role in keeping women subordinate. A suffrage plank she introduced at the historic Seneca Falls convention in 1848 won endorsement and galvanized women for the next 72 years. In her diary, she noted that her beliefs were “grounded on science, common sense and love of humanity, not fears of the torments of hell and promises of the joys of heaven.” She described how “the bible was hurled at us from every side” in a history of the early movement. Nearly every speech Stanton wrote condemned religious dogma. She is also fondly remembered by contemporary secularists for writing “The Woman’s Bible” in 1895.

Memorable quotes:

* The Church is a terrible engine of oppression, especially as concerns woman.

* I have endeavored to dissipate these religious superstitions from the minds of women and base their faith on science and reason, where I found for myself at least that peace and comfort I could never find in the Bible and the church. . . the less they believe, the better for their own happiness and development.

* For fifty years the women of this nation have tried to dam up this deadly stream that poisons all their lives but thus far they have lacked the insight or courage to follow it back to its source and there strike the blow at the fountain of all tyranny, religious superstition, priestly power and the canon law.

Vashti McCollum (1912 – 2006)

McCollum-VashtiVashti McCollum – Vashti McCollum endured the wrath of the loving faithful, including death threats, harassed children, murder of the family cat, job loss and more, for challenging school prayer in the public schools and eventually winning the Supreme Court case that put a stop to religious education in public schools in America. This 1948 ruling remains in force to this day. Her book, One Woman’s Fight (1953), was a best-seller and propelled her career as a free thought leader. Ms McCollum served two terms as president of the American Humanist Association and she was featured in a PBS documentary entitled, The Lord Is Not on Trial Here. The title was inspired by an incident during court hearings when a Bible-toting man confronted the school board’s attorney, announcing that he was there to testify for the Lord. The attorney replied, “The Lord, sir, is not on trial here today.”

To their credit, the Baptist Joint Committee submitted an amicus brief to the Court in support of McCollum, saying, “We must not allow our religious fervor to blind us to the essential fact that no religious faith is secure when it meshes its authority with that of the state.”

Memorable quotes:

* Between being praised and persecuted, condoned and condemned, I might understandably have become bewildered, particularly at the brand of ethics sometimes displayed by the staunch defenders of Christianity. But of one thing I am sure: I am sure that I fought not only for what I earnestly believed to be right but for the truest kind of religious freedom intended by the First Amendment, the complete separation of church and state.

* As long as the public school is used to recruit the child or to segregate the children according to religion or to use the truancy power of the public schools to make them go to religions classes, I’m against it.

That’s an overview of our female freethinker heroines—hundreds more could be identified who have done wonders for the spread of reason, exuberance and liberty for everyone and all deserve our gratitude and respect.

In the course of researching the facts on these and other luminaries, varied sources were examined. However, special appreciation goes out to the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s (FFRF) Freethought of the Day feature, particularly to Anne Laurie Gaylor, Bill Dunn and Sabrina Gaylor.

Be well and look on the bright, luminescent side of life.

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For information on obtaining our new book about this concept entitled, Wellness Orgasms: The Fun Way to Live Well and Die Healthy by Exploring the Secrets of REAL Wellness, write Dr. Donovan at grant@perceptionmapping.com