The Morning Heresy 9/20/12: Placate the Barbarians

September 20, 2012

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

Lots of commentary and news today regarding blasphemy, freedom of speech, and the protests around the Muslim world. 

Sam Harris on the response of the U.S. government, and secular liberals generally, to the violence and rage over The Innocence of Muslims:

Either our government is unwilling to address the problem at hand, or the problem is so vast and terrifying that we have decided to placate the barbarians at the gate. . . . The freedom to think out loud on certain topics, without fear of being hounded into hiding or killed, has already been lost. And the only forces on earth that can recover it are strong, secular governments that will face down charges of blasphemy with scorn. No apologies necessary. 

CSI's Ben Radford wonders whether the video isn't a kind of hoax:

The entire story of "Innocence of Muslims" was borne of deception and malice, fueled by lies made by people hiding behind false names.  

Razib Khan asserts that free speech does not necessarily come naturally to human societies:

Over the course of human history blasphemy has been understood to be unacceptable in most human societies, and often entails extreme sanction. The American, and to a lesser extent Western, elevation of liberty of speech over the sacred values of the community is a peculiar counter-cultural trend which has become normative. But that doesn’t mean that it’s normal or natural. 

French embassies on alert after French satire magazine publishes cartoons on Muhammad.  

Very troubling report from the Egypt Independent:

Arab League chief Nabil al-Araby said Wednesday that the league, along with the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the European Union and the African Union are close to formulating an international agreement penalizing blasphemy and insults to religious figures. 

Two pieces in Florida publications today cover Amendment 8, a ballot initiative for "religious freedom" to amend the state constitution to allow for taxpayer funds to be directed to religious organizations. Amendment 8 is in direct response to a lawsuit brought by the Council for Secular Humanism (an affiliate organization of CFI) concerning state aid to prison ministries. The News Service of Florida reports on the controversy around the proposed amendment, and Jon East at the Tampa Bay Times doesn't like the amendment's conflation with vouchers.

NOT A PARODY: Rick Perry tells "Christian soldier" evangelicals that church-state separation is actively campaigned for by Satan. 

Jon Ronson, Richard Wiseman, and Rebecca Watson are piling in a car and surveying the nation's paranormal weirdness on their way to CSICon and their Ohio and Kentucky itinerary is up.

The New Statesman covers the story of Alber Saber, the Egyptian atheist blogger now in jail for expressing his nonbelief on Facebook. (Go sign his petition.)

Maryam Namazie sounds the alarm about forced marriages of children to old men in Britain's Sharia courts. 

Adam Lee: Watch out for the word "interfaith" when it means disparate religions joining forces to oppress women and gays.

New study shows that scientists - male and female - show a remarkable bias against the professional abilities of women. 

Is there an anti-Islam Iran? 

SlateFeathered dinosaurs are ruining everything for creationists who want to "take dinosaurs back." 

Fake "spells" cast on Nigerian orphans to compel them into forced prostitution. 

Wisconsin sheriff investigates because one guy who thinks he saw Bigfoot. Therefore, news. 

The U.S. and China are forming a military alliance...against the aliens!!! 

Martin Rees on UFO-belief: Just stop it. 

Indonesia is up for review with the UN Human Rights Council, and Human Rights First has some thoughts

Billy Graham, who is apparently still alive and writing his Q&A column, isn't put off by smart-ass atheists wondering what God was up to before he created, um, creation:

Pray for your atheist friend. His question may not have been sincere; he simply may have wanted to put you on the spot. But God still loves him, and some day -- through your prayers -- he may realize how empty his life is without God, and will discover the joy of knowing Christ. 

Pew: Obama support among the religious as good or better than in 2008, running mostly even with Romney with mainline Protestants.   

Parents who allow their child to die from a burst appendix because of their exclusive reliance on prayer are let off the hook

Quote of the Day        

Oxford's David Robert Grimes on homeopathy:

Homeopathy is at best useless and at worst positively damaging, not just medically but to our collective understanding of science. By clinging to delusion, belief in alternative medicine denigrates the very wonder of science and medicine and the massive strides we as a species have made over the last century or so in understanding the world around us, and how our bodies work.   

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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