The Morning Heresy 7/6/12: Aan the Verge

July 6, 2012

Your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities 

Today is the big protest in New York City on behalf of Alexander Aan. We have no idea how many folks are showing up, but if you're in the NYC metro area, take your lunch break and show the world that atheism, and freedom of belief generally, should never be a crime. Help me do my job, and tell your local news outlet to cover it. Follow the action on Twitter under the hashtag #FreeAan.

To get a quick catch-up on what it's all about, the latest video edition of Point of Inquiry features a discussion between Chris Mooney and Michael De Dora about Aan's case.

(Have you guys seen the whole video Point of Inquiry yet? It's so great.) 

Relatedly, the UN Human Rights Council has adopted a resolution on Internet free speech. But there's one country looking to get in on the council that could spoil the party: Syria.

Indonesia is not done steamrolling folks who don't believe correctly. A Shiite leader has just been sentenced to four years for the outrageous claim that the Koran is "not the original text."

Dates for the next Women in Secularism conference have been announced -- May 17-19, 2013! And in so doing, I also try to clear up some misconceptions about the first one (as Ophelia described it, it's how the conference "didn't eat your baby").  

In another fantastic post, CFI intern Stef McGraw tells you darn kids to get a haircut. Not really, but she does understand that to change the system, you need to step up your professionalism game:

We have the power to help keep creationism out of our public schools, to fight against the oppression of women and LGBT individuals, and to see that the next Jessica Ahlquist not receive death threats. Should we really jeopardize all that so we can wear trench coats and never wash our hair? 

Pro-voucher Christianists in Louisiana are now gobsmacked that some of that money might go to Muslim schools too. Says Rob Boston:

It looks like Louisiana is determined to head down this well-trod path to nowhere – much to the detriment of the state’s youngsters. 

Students get sick at an Afghan girls' school, and Sharon Hill reminds us that it may or may not be as a result of malicious activity.

CSI's Joe Nickell talked about investigating the paranormal on the radio show Coast to Coast AM with George Noory

How about a day in the life of a token skeptic? 

Is there a sea monster in Montana? (Could it just be Jon Tester taking a dip?) 

Al Sharpton has important information for our community: UFO sightings are 3615 times more common than voter fraud. 

This is why we love io9: A handy guide to tricking people into thinking you're psychic. 

Ron Bailey at Reason calls the persecution of Sanal Edamaruku in India -- for pointing out that Jesus was leaking sewage, not tears -- "dangerously stupid." 

Meanwhile, Scientology is making inroads in India. 

Letter to the editor in Democrat and Gazette on homeopathy as science denial:

Imagine throwing an aspirin into a swimming pool. According to homeopathic theory, the strength of the aspirin is increased in each drop of pool water to a level far higher than taking the aspirin itself. Homeopaths then claim that taking a drop of water from the pool and adding it to another pool makes the water in the second pool an even stronger remedy. Using this concept, we could cure every headache and save a fortune if we would just throw one aspirin into our water supply. 

That Oprah doctor guy tells you to use green coffee beans to lose weight. Says a flustered Scott Gavura:

Yes, Oz did use the terms “magic”, “staggering”, “unprecedented”, “cure” and “miracle pill”.  

Dr. Peter Boghossian talks about the ethics of atheism on Freedomain Radio

At wingnut outpost Townhall, Michael Brown resurrects the canard about atheism being caused by a lack of strong father figures. (For the record, my dad is an awesome guy. He makes awesome music, too. See?) 

Ohio creationist teacher, fired for teaching that the Earth just got here, appealing on First Amendment and academic freedom grounds.

Child rapist protector, the recently-convicted Msgr. William Lynn, doesn't get to hang out at home, but awaits his sentencing in jail. 

Pakistan's President Zardari much aggrieved over the brutal killing of a man for alleged desecration of a Koran, orders investigation. Amnesty International demands justice.

Gotta give props to Atheist Alliance for this billboard for their conference. 

American Atheists got themselves a pretty good visual, too. 

Letter to the Editor in the BaltSun is glad the Catholic Church is getting so overtly political so it will have to start paying taxes. 

The Creation Museum wants to build a replica of the Ark, but God fails to provide funds

And when are we going to understand that those damned bureaucrats need to stop all the spending and pay off the debt in Washington! Oh, I mean the Vatican.    

As a matter of principle, I don't think I could watch a show with atheist-hating atheist S.E. Cupp, even if it is on MSNBC. DarkSyde watched it for me:

Watching Cupp dance around, nay loathe her own lack of belief, seeing the frightened look in her eyes as it dawned on her that her shot at pundacious fame was suddenly in peril, and worst of all the open pity expressed by other panelists as they tried to gently guide her back to sanity, made me very thankful I’m not a conservative atheist. For the average non sociopath, the mental contortions required to juggle those two hot potatoes must be intellectually and morally exhausting. 

All that said, I was really glad to see her ask her guest how religious believers can espouse tolerance when adherence to a dogma "demands intolerance." And Touré was part of the problem for me in that video clip - he can't seem to believe that "an intelligent person" could be an atheist. Yeah, I'm never going to watch that show.

Aaaaaaaaaannnnnnnd bird poop

Quote of the Day      

Dave Hone in The Guardian reminds us that as hilarious and troubling as the Louisiana curriculum is that cites the Loch Ness Monster as proof of creationism, even if Nessie was real, it still wouldn't help the creationists!

If the Loch Ness monster popped up from the depths tomorrow, or a sauropod dinosaur walked out of the Congo, or a pterosaur flew out of New Guinea tomorrow (all things that some creationists have claimed, with a straight face, to be likely) it would be a truly incredible event. Palaeontologists most of all would be utterly delighted and awestruck, but what we would not be is incredulous at the impossibility of it, or abandoning evolutionary theory or rethinking the fossil record.

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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