Ill Communication

December 28, 2012

The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.  

The Morning Heretic is ill today. Not in the Beastie Boys sense, but in the infection-by-microbe sense. But because I am so devoted to you, the reader, that I dragged by aching, coughing, overdramatic carcass to my office and honored my commitment to rounding up a bunch of links that, let's face it, you could have googled for yourself. Think nothing of it! 

Looking to protest the Church's stance on gay marriage, many Dutch look to a website for help in being de-baptized

An Italian priest, Father Piero Corsi, blames women who are the victims of domestic abuse for bringing violence on themselves for neglecting housework and the like.    

CSI's Ben Radford takes to Yahoo News to round up the biggest "hooey" of 2012. 

Simon Davis of CFI-DC (and spouse of its director Melody Hensley) embarks on a big project (an independent one, not for CFI) to plot the events related to the hubbub over feminism and misogyny in the secular movement in a timeline:

. . . someone some new to the topic will probably miss out on many of the key events through no fault of their own, with the subject appearing more unwieldy than it has to be. This has necessitated a chronological examination of the topic in it’s entirety, that provides an accessible and meaningful summary.

Peter Higgs, of boson fame, sadly raises the tired canard of "fundamentalist" atheists, dissing Dawkins, et. al. Vlad Chituc reflects on Higgs' assertions:

I want to note that I agree with a lot of what Higgs says, but I’ve always found the idea of fundamentalist atheism to be clumsy. I don’t know what fundamentalist atheism would even look like, but I think there are definitely fair comparisons to make. Groupthink, dogmatism, and intolerance are often products of our social psychology, and atheists as an organized group are not immune from a lot of that ugliness. 

Keith Kloor at Discover is likewise sympathetic to Higgs, but also makes a good point about science and public policy:

Science and politics are entwined, whether we like it or not. . . . So we know there is no separating politics from science-related issues that have major policy implications.  What we don’t seem to know (or be capable of) is how to debate these issues without biting each other’s heads off. 

And speaking of Dawkins, he recently did a sit-down with Al-Jazeera

Chris Stedman at the MSNBC website writes of the anti-atheist backlash that has appeared in a lot of the rhetoric following the Newtown atrocity. 

Lawrence Krauss rejects the idea that we must all grieve massacres like that of Newtown with our hands held by clergy:

Let me be clear that there may be many grieving families in Newtown and around the country who have turned to their faith for solace in this difficult time. No caring person would begrudge them this right to ease their pain. But the question that needs to be asked is why, as a nation, do we have to institutionalize the notion that religion must play a central role at such times, with the president as the clergyman-in-chief? 

Rob Boston sees the spats over gay marriage among religious leaders in Illinois to be a case in point as to why theology must have no role in policy. 

Canada's Times Colonist takes a bemused look at all the "special days" with which we fill the calendar every year ("World Day of Snowman"??) but acknowledges the gravity of International Blasphemy Rights Day.

Jaron Lanier worries about the insidiousness of anonymity on the web, raising the specter of "social lasers of cruelty." I see that Lanier has a point, but he's a little overboard. 

CFI's John Shook unearths a 2004 documentary on unbelief's history. 

National Catholic RegisterBlame secularism for the fiscal cliff crisis. 

Camels with Hammers lays out four types of atheists

"Dear Abby" offers this advice to an atheist who is uncomfortable being told folks will pray for them:

When someone offers to pray for you, it’s usually because the person cares about you, knows you are sick and feels helpless to offer anything more to help. Accept it for what it is, and say thank you rather than tell the person that what they offered is, in your eyes, worthless. That’s called being gracious — regardless of your religious or nonreligious convictions. 

On New Year's Day, the Atlanta Freethought Society holds a blood drive

Quote of the Day

More from Krauss:

I feel particularly sad for the grieving parents who might not be Christian, Jewish or Muslim. Besides learning that they are somehow lacking in empathy or goodness or the ability to heal, little guidance is being provided to those who among them have decided that they cannot believe in a sometimes violent and irascible God or who in fact have found their faith in God in question as a result of this tragedy. For these people, as for me, the thought that God has "called their children home" is simply offensive.

Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is. 

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Comments:

#1 Melody Hensley on Friday December 28, 2012 at 10:30am

I think the word “hubbub” over feminism and misogyny in the secular movement invalidates the seriousness of the issue. Women have left the movement after being harassed relentlessly. Some of our women leaders are considering leaving due to the harassment. Women are afraid to speak up. Some women have suffered mental illness. This is no hubbub, this is an outright war on women in the secular and skeptic movements and should be treated as such.

#2 Bruce Press (Guest) on Monday December 31, 2012 at 5:48am

hubbub - loud confused noise from many sources

Seems an accurate description of the current “conversation” on feminism in the secular movement.

I do not believe that sick Paul has commented on the validity of the complaint one way or the other. Just the resulting morass of angry futile rhetoric that proceeds from assuming the worst intent from people’s writing. Charitably understanding that well-intentioned people sometimes do not state things in the exact way you would like goes a long way toward productive dialogue.

Don’t you think?

Hope you feel better Paul and have a very Happy New Year!

#3 Paul the Morning Heretic on Monday December 31, 2012 at 6:43am

What Bruce said.

And thank you.

#4 Melody Hensley (Guest) on Monday December 31, 2012 at 10:42am

There has been clear dialogue from those who have been harassed. Leaders of our community of given lip-service to not tolerating harassment and misogyny in the community. I would like to see more than not commenting on the validity of the complaint “one way or the other”. This problem is not being taken seriously and I think we can start by the language we use to describe the problem.

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