The Magnitude of Suffering that Exists in the World

December 2, 2016

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

At the Arizona Daily Star, Gil Shapiro pens an op-ed on the threats to secularism posed by a Trump administration, and brings us in:

Eddie Tabash, a constitutional lawyer and Chair of the Center for Inquiry, our nation’s leading secular think tank stated, “We are concerned that Christianity will be used as an excuse if not a weapon to limit and deny many Americans their Constitutional rights.” 

See that? "Our nations leading secular think tank." That's right.  

Christopher Cameron at Aeon contrasts secular black Americans of the mid-20th century with those of more recent years, noting that CFI's African Americans for Humanism was the first "explicitly secular organisation for blacks": 

This early secular community differs from the new black atheists of today in their acceptance of Christianity and their lack of evangelical zeal to promote atheism. Black freethinkers such as Hurston and Hughes did not wish to disabuse black Christians of their religious ideals. They simply felt that religion was not for them.  

Susan Gerbic does her full writeup of her experience at CSICon Las Vegas, and despite the brainy topics discussed, really felt the human connection:

I love the speakers: at conferences like CSICon, you can spend time with them, take a selfie with them, share meals, ask questions, and get advice. Sitting in for the lectures is always great, a large room full of people all nodding their heads together, laughing at the same joke, and getting that awesome feeling in your gut that you are here, listening. Lawrence Krauss had to cut his talk short because he had a plane to catch, but knowing that just made him being there even more special. He was like that famous relative who drops in on the family dinner because he really wants to be there; he does not have time to be there, but he wanted to drop off presents, talk to the kids and see how they are doing in school, grab a piece of pumpkin pie, and though he would rather stay with us, he had obligations to be somewhere else. It was like that. I remember feeling pride knowing that he is one of us, he gets us, and we get him. 

The Trump administration will mean a lot of bad things for American women, but it will probably also mean very bad things for women around the world as well, and we are likely to see the reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule, "a Reagan-era policy prohibiting groups receiving U.S. aid from providing abortions, or even counseling patients about the procedure." 

American Federation of Teachers head Randi Weingarten rips Trump's pick for the Department of Education, Betsy DeVos.

At NYT, Emory professor George Yancy writes that on top of the burden of having a "racialized scarlet letter" as a black man in America, he is now also on a right-wing "Professor's Watchlist":

But now I feel the multiple markings; I am now “un-American” because of my ideas, my desires and passion to undo injustice where I see it, my engagement in a form of pedagogy that can cause my students to become angry or resistant in their newfound awareness of the magnitude of suffering that exists in the world. Yet I reject this marking. I refuse to be philosophically and pedagogically adjusted. 

To push back against a solidly-Trumpian federal government, we're going to need civil society (do-gooder nonprofits like us) to be stronger than ever. People seem to get that, and donations over the holiday to these orgs were getting "a flood of donations." Ahem. Hint hint. Nudge nudge. AHEM

The next Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, belongs to a wackadoodle "medical" organization that promotes anti-vax (and other) conspiracy theories. Great. 

My friend Kavin Senapathy reports that Dr. Oz is attacking olive oil. No, not Olive Oil (apparently Dr. Phil is doing that). He's claiming that the extra-virgin olive oil consumers are buying is often fake, with no evidence of course.

Patheos, where I don't blog much anymore, but which hosts loads of atheist bloggers along with a huge array of blogs representing other faiths, has been sending marketing emails advertising a magical "Garden of Eden" cancer cure. The text in the email is identical to this

CFI President Ronald A. Lindsay tweets:

The Bible is the ultimate 'fake news' story. Legends and myths that have induced false hopes and caused abundant harm for millennia. 

In a new book, James A. Lindsay (relation???) says, "If you want to be happy, you must accept that you will die." UGH STOP I CAN'T. 

Here's one way to celebrate the airing of grievances

Love is an inside job

Quote of the Day:

Simply defending an honorable Deep Space Nine. 

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#1 Randy (Guest) on Friday December 02, 2016 at 1:24pm

“accept that you will die”

I’m quite fine with that, but what I refuse to accept is that my death will be out of my hands, and as a result will probably be quite agonizing.

This is one reason I like to pay Catholicism back (in advance) for this, while I’m alive.

#2 Randy (Guest) on Friday December 02, 2016 at 1:31pm

“He’s claiming that the extra-virgin olive oil consumers are buying is often fake, with no evidence of course.”

To be fair, lots of people are making this unverified claim, including in publications like Mother Jones.

#3 Randy (Guest) on Friday December 02, 2016 at 1:32pm

Oh, by the way, not only is there no evidence that the olive oil is fake, there’s also no evidence it’s real…

#4 Randy (Guest) on Friday December 02, 2016 at 1:35pm


#5 Randy (Guest) on Friday December 02, 2016 at 2:02pm

Where’s my tiny violin?  This guy isn’t “dangerous”.  He’s self-absorbed.

Yancy is on the list for his blatant sexism, which he projects onto all men, and for his racism, in which he paints all white people with the same racist brush.  This racist and sexist person, an educator of the next generation, SHOULD be on a list.  Perhaps the SPLC can find a spot.

Who else is on the list?  Melissa Click, internet famous communication professor who called for “some muscle over here” to remove a journalist from a public space.  That was the only name I recognized.  I randomly clicked on: Valerie Johnson, also on the list for censorship, and Brent Terry for scaremongering about the 2014 election.

The genuinely “dangerous” professors face actual oppression.  Consider Peterson (with whom I do not completely agree nor disagree on the topic of the moment) at University of Toronto, who will likely be removed because he has merely announced that he will refuse to be forced to use the singular pronoun “they” (or any of the made-up ones like “zer”).  He’s also said he’d use some pronouns if some students simply asked respectfully, but he rejects being forced to say words he doesn’t want to say.  He’s being told that he should look up each student’s “preferred” pronouns on his smartphone, in real time, as he communicates with them face-to-face.

Other genuinely “dangerous” people like Milo Yiannopolous and Cassie Jaye see their campus events cancelled, and the film screenings shut down, respectively.

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