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The Out Campaign

The Out Campaign: Scarlet Letter of Atheism

Academic Freedom

In a private email from a friend, I received this link to a TED talk by Neal Katyal, former Acting Solicitor General of the United States, on the importance of accommodating and encouraging dissent for the effective governance of a liberal democracy:

Dissent - free speech - is the prime-mover of civilizational progress. Without dissent, archaic, wrong ideas - caste, homophobia, patriarchy, religion, slavery, and more - will flourish, and humanity will forever be mired in dark ages.

What of academic institutions? From the Boston Globe - Brandeis won’t give honorary degree to Islam critic:

In a pointed statement issued this afternoon, Hirsi Ali denounced Brandeis officials for bowing to critics who “simply wanted me to be silenced. What was initially intended as an honor has now devolved into a moment of shaming,” she wrote. “Yet the slur on my reputation is not the worst aspect of this episode. More deplorable is that an institution set up on the basis of religious freedom should today so deeply betray its own founding principles. The ‘spirit of free expression’ referred to in the Brandeis statement has been stifled here, as my critics have achieved their objective of preventing me from addressing the graduating Class of 2014,” she added.

It's a shame that an academic institution - the bastion of free flow of ideas - should bow to the forces of gender and religious and apartheid, and act to stifle dissent. That, too, in a nation that holds free speech in highest reverence - the first and the foremost in our Bill of Rights.

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All Atheists are "Terrorists"!

According to the Independent, I have been honored with the title of "Terrorist" by the the Guardians of Islam:

Saudi Arabia declares all atheists are terrorists in new law to crack down on political dissidents — Article one of the new provisions defines terrorism as "calling for atheist thought in any form, or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based".

I am humbled to have this honor shared with well known "terrorists" like Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Einstein, Jodie Foster, Charlie Parker, Pablo Picasso, Ayn Rand... oh, so many, many more — for a partial list of honorees, see, List of Atheists Terrorists, Wikipedia.

Thank you, King Abdullah!

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Boys will be boys!

Middle School Girls Protest Sexist Dress Code: ‘Are My Pants Lowering Your Test Scores?’:

Earlier this month, Haven Middle School administrators notified parents that female students are no longer allowed to wear shorts, leggings, or yoga pants because those articles of clothing might be “too distracting” for their male peers. That’s sparked a protest among parents and students in the Evanston, Illinois area, who are arguing it’s not girls’ responsibility to accommodate the boys in their classes...

“Not being able to wear leggings because it’s ‘too distracting for boys’ is giving us the impression we should be guilty for what guys do,” one of the students participating in protest, 13-year-old Sophie Hasty, told the Evanston Review. “We just want to be comfortable!”

First they asked to lower my hemline, for the knees are distracting, and I did.
Then they came for my ankles, for they are tempting as the devil, and I wore sacks for my pants.
Then they said, "Wear a loose blouse", for my curves are too sexy, and I covered myself in a bag.
Then they said, "Cover your face", for your lips are alluring, and I was veiled from head to toe.
And, then, they kicked us all out of the school, so boys can be boys!

— An adaptation of Martin Niemöller's “First they came …”

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Pastaphobes!

Weird - Jesus and Mo

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More Power to the People!

The Guardian reports:

An Indian cabinet minister is at the centre of a vote-rigging row after he asked supporters to vote twice for his party in elections next month.

Speaking at a rally on Sunday, the agriculture minister, Sharad Pawar, urged voters to wash off the ink that would be daubed on their fingers after casting their ballots then go to a different constituency and vote again for his Nationalist Congress party (NCP).

After pointing out that voting in two neighbouring parts of Maharashtra state was taking place on different days, Pawar told supporters in the state: "Vote for the Clock [his party's symbol] there and come back to vote for the Clock here as well." .

If every voter is given more than one vote, does that mean more power to the people?

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voices of reason

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