From Gwyneth to Pepsi

May 5, 2015

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

Our response to Al Qaeda's claim of responsibilty for the murder of our friend and ally Avijit Roy:

They were capable of such atrocities in part because of the hostile environment for free expression created and fostered by the governments of states such as Bangladesh and Pakistan. ... While whoever is ultimately responsible for these killings must face justice, so must governments make fundamental changes in their approach to Islamic extremism, and allow free expression to flourish. 

This would have been nice for me when I was in high school, back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth: Point of Inquiry hosts a conversation with David Seidman, who has a new book for young atheists figuring things out. 

ISIS claims responsibility for the attack in Dallas. Here's Max Fisher on the Pamela Geller draw-Muhammed event:

This was not principally a free speech event; it was an anti-Muslim hate event. Pamela Geller is not principally a free speech advocate; her activism has rather focused on curbing the rights, including the speech rights, of Muslims in the United States.  

Similarly, Paul Raushenbush at HuffPo:

While they resort to different means, both the extreme anti-Islam movement and the violent Islamist movements self-servingly promote the belief that the future must involve a battle against one another to the death. Both claim to be victims of aggression by the other, and both are trying to convince the rest of us to join their war. 

Dan Dennett is interviewed at Religion Dispatches about his book with Linda LaScola on The Clergy Project, and why the edifice of religion seems to be cracking:

Protecting your inner workings is becoming very difficult; it’s very hard to keep secrets. Religions have thrived in part because they were able to keep secrets. They were able to keep secrets about other religions from their parishioners, who were largely ignorant of what other people in the world believed, and also keep secrets about their own inner workings and their own histories, so that it was easy to have a sort of controlled message that went out to people. Those days are over. You can go on the Internet and access to all kinds of information. This is going to change everything. 

Chris Trejbal at AmericaBlog advocates for secular celebrants for solemnizing marriages, and cites our victory in Indiana.

Federal appeals court upholds a Santa Monica ban on nativity scenes on public property. 

I was supposed to link this earlier, but here's the April edition of the Office of Public Policy's Advocacy Update

"New" Roswell "photos" will "prove" that extra-terrestrials "exist." 

Bill Nye is on The Nightly Show talking pepper spray and ultra-violet light. Oh, and race. 

Quote of the Day:

Phoebe Maltz Bovy at The New Republic on the decline of pseudoscience:

All this attention to pseudoscience, commercially and journalistically, may be having a different kind of deterrent effect: It's too popular to be cool anymore. Once “wellness” becomes a thing in suburban Middle America, it stops being so in, say, the L.A. yoga mom subculture. Once clean eating goes from Gwyneth to Pepsi, it’s lost its air of exclusivity. The committed quacks won't budge, but once pseudoscience isn't a way of signaling that one is on the cutting edge, it loses its allure among the elites—the ones whose cultural and financial clout led to its popularity in the first place. 

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Original image by Shutterstock. 

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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#1 SpiderHugger on Tuesday May 05, 2015 at 12:04pm

Hate speech is protected speech. Don’t get into that slimy after-reasoning about Pamela Geller. People who try to murder people for their speech or beliefs are breaking the laws and the deepest principles of this country, regardless of whether they’re shooting at Fred Phelps, Pam Geller, or anybody else you happen to find loathsome. As defenders of a secular society, you need to stand against all such ideologically driven violence without implying that some people were either “asking for it” or somehow less worthy of their speech.

#2 Fr33d0m (Guest) on Thursday May 07, 2015 at 8:36am

Yes hate speech is unfortunately protected because to fail to do so would be to fail to protect the kinds of constructive criticisms that the First Amendment intended to promote.  But so what?  Does that mean the rest of us have to bathe in the same cesspool as Geller? Does it mean we all have to reflexively promote her little party of exceedingly dumb right-wing trolls?  No—because criticism of hate speech is also protected speech and IS constructive.  And lets not even bother to talk about the actual text of the First Amendment.  Why gun rights revolve around the existence of a comma while the words of the First Amendment rarely get noticed is beyond me.

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