The Morning Heresy 5/9/12: You and the Bus
May 9, 2012
Your daily digest of relevant news and links from Paul Fidalgo
She of the Heated Phone Interview, Greta Christina, talks to AHA's Roy Speckhardt, who was part of the hiring committee that chose Edwina Rogers to head the SCA.
Hearing Roy's thinking on all of this reinforces for me what I noted in my reactions to Greta's interview with Rogers herself, that the emphasis here is on raw realpolitik. One of the things Roy highlighted himself about Rogers was the very novelty of her ideological background, that the hiring would be a "jumpstart on the media opportunity" as outlets would be attracted to the "man bites dog story." On questions of values, Roy focuses on the practical work of a lobbyist. "The unique mission of the Secular Coalition for America" is "narrowly defined," he says, and asserts (correctly) that "we can't get what we want accomplished" exclusively with Democrats. Somewhat wistfully, Roy hopes that Rogers can be a bridge to those Republicans who are secular and hiding it, making her a potential "agent for change" within the GOP. But the long and the short of it is that whoever and whatever she's worked on behalf of in the past, now she's our hired gun, and according to Roy and the folks who hired her, she's a pretty big gun.
As a staff member of one of the SCA's member organizations -- the Council for Secular Humanism, an affiliate of CFI, if part of the SCA -- I am not in a position to personally endorse or oppose the Rogers hiring (not that I have any influence one way or the other), but I do think that there is something to be said for not panicking and letting things play out. Some of the reaction is very understandably skeptical, and I think that's healthy and correct (and unavoidable given who we are). But even in the worst case scenario, the secular movement will not be swallowed up by a black hole, nor are we about to be undermined by some evil right wing conspiracy to infiltrate the movement and destroy it from the inside by a Christianist mole dispatched by Rick Perry. It won't kill us to just wait and see how things go.
Ed Brayton appreciates the "hired gun" strategy, but remains iffy: ". . . she has spent her entire career working for a party that is on the wrong side of every one of [our] issues."
Rogers did a lengthy Q-and-A on Reddit, and see the end of this post for my favorite part.
Amanda Johnson at Friendly Atheist concludes she "cannot trust" Rogers, and advises her to "stop shoveling" --- posited that Rogers is making an effort not to "demonize" the very GOP she seeks to woo
Ophelia Benson reacts skeptically to Rogers' assertions about the ideological makeup of the GOP:
The hierarchy is what it is and not something else. The Republican party is what it is and not something else.
SCA's communications manager Lauren Youngblood blogs on bipartisanship, but doesn't mention her new boss specifically:
We do ourselves a disservice when we actively attempt to align ourselves with only one party. . . . It’s our job as a movement to make voters see the importance of voting based on secular issues. We should never give up on creating relationships and building coalitions where ever we can.
Rogers is also interviewed by the Christian Post (though not a lot new there)
In other news...
CFI-Indiana's Reba Boyd Wooden blogs on her lobbying trip to DC dealing with judicial vacancies:
I felt very privileged to be a part of this briefing and to put CFI's face at the table in the White House.
And now, the bad news in North Carolina
Greg Laden despairs at the vote against equality
Sarah Posner shakes her head at the gloating: "Look at how relieved the women look. They've saved civilization!"
Before the vote, Abbie at BlogHer pleads with Amendment One proponents:
How is it possible that a country that was founded on the idea of religious freedom and separation of church and state be so forgetful? How can the Unites States of America, that invades other countries in the name freedom, want to discriminate against two people who want to be together but do not have the proper anatomy to be considered the "opposite sex?"
A reader of the News & Observer reminds us that in North Carolina's constitution, atheists are barred from serving in public office
Dren Asselmeier highlights a college skeptic who is collecting a list of psychology programs that aren't teaching pseudoscience
CFI On Campus contributor Seth Kurtenbach on why it might be okay to be a fool
Rob Boston reports that John Boehner has offered up the Capitol statuary to a right-wing pray-a-thon which seems, I dunno, wrong
Sam Harris posts a dissenting response to his piece on religious profiling from security expert Bruce Schneier, who agrees that TSA screenings are absurd "security theatre," but that the kind of profiling Harris advocates is fruitless, if only due to raw math:
Post 9/11, we’ve had 2 Muslim terrorists on U.S airplanes: the shoe bomber and the underwear bomber. If you assume 0.8% (that’s one estimate of the percentage of Muslim Americans) of the 630 million annual airplane fliers are Muslim and triple it to account for others who look Semitic, then the chances any profiled flier will be a Muslim terrorist is 1 in 80 million. Add the 19 9/11 terrorists—arguably a singular event—that number drops to 1 in 8 million.
Taslima Nasreen sees Harris's views as an example of why there needs to be more humanism within atheism
Uh oh, looks like the Swedes may be turning into climate "skeptics"
Idaho Statesman blog looks at local responses to the effects of climate change, whether you believe in it or not:
No matter what you or I think is going on, the people who manage natural resource systems like rivers and forests have to deal with the conditions they see.
Michael Tomasky ponders President Obama's religion, guesses that he is "a believer. But not in the way you're supposed to believe for the newspapers to call you a 'believer' in politics."
Jacques Berlinerblau worries about the death of American secularism, says "the president, like so many other Democrats, has given secularism the old heave-ho."
Epoch Times: Secularists in Egypt fought for democracy, and in return may get an Islamist government
Joe Nickell blogs on the "fakelore" of zombies
Examiner article has the most confusing headline of the day: "California giant UFO witness: 'I almost drove off the road'" -- wait, a giant UFO or a giant witness?
Hacker-activists Anonymous do not have data they're about to release on UFO conspiracies. Or they do. Or some of them do. I dunno.
"Naturopath" gets a column in Rochester paper to promote homeopathy, says it's great for first aid use because it's 200 years old. I'll remember next time I slam my fingers in a door to grab some St. John's wort.
"Psychic" Chip Coffey on his new book Growing Up Psychic:
I'm trying to break away from that whole weird and woo woo aspect because I think the paranormal is more common than we realize.
Good luck with that, Chip.
Quote of the Day
A Reddit questioner feared that Edwina Rogers' hiring was an example of atheists allowing themselves to be "thrown under the bus," to which Rogers responded:
My goal is to stand between you and the bus.
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 Ophelia Benson on Wednesday May 09, 2012 at 5:14pm
California giant UFO witness stands between you and the bus. Messy.
#2 Paul the Morning Heretic on Thursday May 10, 2012 at 7:25am
No one wins that one.