Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s important speech about religious bigotry and persecution, and PZ Myers’ defamatory smear against her

by Michael Nugent on April 5, 2015

Ayaan Hirsi AliAyaan Hirsi Ali gave an important speech to the American Atheists Convention this weekend. She argued that Islam is significantly more dangerous than Christianity today, and that we should focus our limited campaigning resources where they are most effective in tackling injustice and persecution.

In response, in his latest defamatory smear, PZ Myers has accused Ayaan, who lives with constant security protection against threats on her life, of “happily exploiting atrocities to justify continued injustices” and “using the threat of murder elsewhere as a club to silence those who strive for respect and dignity in their lives”.

He based this smear on the following selective quote attributed on Twitter to Ayaan:

“If you are gay the worst the Christian community can do in America is not serve you cake.…I just want you to think about being Muslim and gay today…the worst case scenario…bullies throw you off a building.”

You’ll notice three sets of ellipses there. That shows that there is something intentionally left out of the quote. This is the main piece that is left out of the middle of the quote:

“I tweeted Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, who I think is very brave by going out there and describing what it is that the LGBT community faces in predominantly homophobic communities. The discrimination is subtle, and it lurks in the shadows.”

Ayaan also said elsewhere in her speech, about discrimination by Christians in America:

“I understand, I empathise, and you have my support in fighting religious bigotry, and in Christian America there is probably a lot to do.”

“So I understand, if you are ex-Christian, the kind of pain that you have to go through, and what a big battle it is we have to fight.”

She quoted David Silverman as saying about the Convention venue that “We go to places where we know that there is a great deal of religious oppression. Last time it was in Salt Lake City. Now it is Memphis.” She added that she thinks that is a great strategy.

She said that she wanted people to consider the points she was making as brainstorming, instead of brainwashing, because atheists should spend the day thinking.

How on earth could this reasonably be described as “happily exploiting atrocities to justify continued injustices” or as “using the threat of murder elsewhere as a club to silence those who strive for respect and dignity in their lives”?

Tackling injustices proportionately

I agree with the central point that Ayaan was making at the Convention. She was arguing that religions are different, that Islam is significantly more dangerous than Christianity today, and that we should focus our limited campaigning resources where they are most effective in tackling injustice and persecution.

I disagree with part of the final line of her speech, which was: “Let’s stop going after Christians and Christianity. Let’s go after Islam as the most threatening doctrine of our time. Let’s ask them those questions that we put to the other religions.”

The part that I disagree with is “Let’s stop going after Christianity.” I believe that we should challenge all injustices by all religions, including both Islam and Christianity, and that we should do so proportionately to the scale of the injustices, the level of our resources, and the effectiveness of our options.

For example, in Atheist Ireland, we challenge the mostly-Catholic religious discrimination that the State endorses in Ireland, we work with other advocacy groups on human rights and social justice issues in Ireland and at the UN, and we campaign internationally against mostly-Islamic injustices and atrocities along with our colleagues in Atheist Alliance International and the International Campaign Against Blasphemy Laws.

However, given the other things Ayaan said in her talk, a charitable interpretation of her final line would include an implicit “disproportionately” after the phrase “Let’s stop going after Christians and Christianity.” She may well have clarified what she meant in more detail if she had more time, as she introduced this point by noting that she had less than a minute left to speak.

But even without that clarification, she said nothing that could be remotely described as “happily exploiting atrocities to justify continued injustices” or “using the threat of murder elsewhere as a club to silence those who strive for respect and dignity in their lives.”

The context of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s comment

You can see this even more clearly by reading the context. This is what Ayaan said leading up to, and immediately after, the part of her speech that PZ selectively quoted from. Please notice that, at various points, she is is distinguishing between social discrimination and legal discrimination.

“If you happen to be a member of the LGBT community, you are even talking about laws being passed not to serve you a cake. There is a gentleman, I want you to look him up. His name is Shelby Steele. He inspired me in many ways through his books, and one of the statements he made says:

‘During the civil rights movement, if you were black and showed up at any place they wouldn’t serve you or take your money because you were black. And he says that one of the biggest achievements of the civil rights movement is that, after the racists and bigots were defeated, what stood between a black man and whatever he wanted to consume was his wallet.’

I think the LGBT community today is at a place where you can afford to say to he or she who doesn’t want to serve you that I am going to take my money somewhere else. And it took a long time to get there and we are not yet there.

In Christian America, when women fight for their reproductive rights, the right to work, the right to own their own bodies, and it is a long history, of maybe about two hundred years, as a woman living in America I can celebrate and say to the sexists, go F yourselves.

I understand, I empathise, and you have my support in fighting religious bigotry, and in Christian America there is probably a lot to do.

But I want to draw your attention to a different kind of religion. If you become a Christian apostate the highest price that you will pay is that your family, your neighbours, your community will disown you. Trust me, I understand that pain. Nothing has hurt me more than my father and mother telling me that we cannot accept you unless you continue to, what, deny my conscience?

So I understand, if you are ex-Christian, the kind of pain that you have to go through, and what a big battle it is we have to fight. Yet, given the limited resources we have, the limited time we have, and the potential energy and force and magnitude and resources of the Islamic threat, I want to draw your attention to the religion that threatens us the most in 2015.

As an ex-Muslim, I have come to terms with the fact that my family will not accept my conscience. If only they would leave it at that. But I will never come to terms with the fact that all kinds of strangers out there, who happen to have been raised in the same religion I was, want to kill me, and not only me. Every single individual who was raised within Islam and who doubts the truth of Mohammed, and the truth of the Quran, today runs the risk of being killed.

At lunch I ran into two ex-Muslims. One said my name is Mohammed and I am an ex-Muslim. I said ‘What are you going to do about the name Mohammed?’ And he said ‘I am Mohammed the Atheist.’ And that is heartening, It is so delightful.

But less delightful is when I ran into the next ex-Muslim, who is from Bangladesh. And he said: ‘I don’t know how much of the news you follow, but in two months in Dakar, Bangladesh, Muslim fanatics too meat cleavers to kill individuals – we don’t even know if they were ex-Muslims, we know that they were secular, we know that they were thinking, we know that they were writing their thoughts by blogging about it. And because the zealots found them online, they followed them, and took meat cleavers to them, and killed them.

As an ex-Muslim, as an apostate of Islam, that is what you are up against. And it is not only Dakar, Bangladesh. It is right here. Do you think I want to be around these gentlemen twenty four hours a day? (gestures to her security protection team) Hey guys, I love you, and I am grateful to you, but we go on and on in America about privacy, and I have to live in that bubble and think ‘what privacy do I have?’ That is what it is to be an ex-Muslim and speak out.

But what if you are an ex-Muslim and you want to get out of the closet? Maybe it is something much more narrow, much smaller. It is a small box. Your conscience is narrowed down. All day long you spend time lying and lying and lying. To your parents, pretending that you are praying love times a day when you don’t want to pray five times a day. Given our lifestyle, if you come from a Muslim family, somebody is going to notice. You’re not reading the Quran. You’re not fasting. You are associating with infidels. And ‘infidel’ in islam is very broad. It covers everyone who doesn’t worship in that narrow way.

And so that is my first point. I wanted to highlight the difference between the religions. If you are gay today in the United States of America, the worst thing the Christian community can do to gay people is to not serve them cake when they want to get married. I tweeted Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, who I think is very brave by going out there and describing what it is that the LGBT community faces in predominantly homophobic communities. The discrimination is subtle, and it lurks in the shadows.

But I just want you to think about being Muslim and gay today. In the worst case scenario – you have seen it on television, on YouTube – to be accused, you don’t even have to be gay, if you are accused of being gay, you are marched to the tallest building in town and bullies throw you off that building. And there is a crowd of people waiting there to stone you with glee. And as they do that, they scream ‘Allahu Akbar’. And they cite that that is how the punishment is for gays in the Quran and in the Hadith. This is 2015.

In the best case scenario, if one finds out that you are gay, and in Islam stories about lesbians are not told that much, but if you are a gay guy and you think I don’t like girls, what will your family do? They will force you into marriage. I know that over the years I have spoken out about forced marriages of girls and women, but there is also the forced marriage of the gay community. And can you imagine the kind of family that you establish in that sort of frame?

If you are a woman living in the United States of America, and you face people who in the name of Christianity will challenge your reproductive rights, you will get to a point where you are going to have a debate about whether the State is willing to dispense contraceptives or not. The big fight is not with the American Government. The big fight is with your own family, your siblings, your own community, your own neighbourhood, the church you used to belong to. That is where you seek and demand acceptance, and you find that you are not accepted, so that is where the battle is.

But in the world of Islam, whether it is a Muslim community in Dearborn, Michigan, or whether it is in Saudi Arabia, quite the other extreme, what you are facing is a stultified, frozen, moral system from the seventh century, that demands that you be covered from head to toe before you leave the house, that you need a male guardian, that you are for ever a slave. If you are raped, it is your fault. The burden of proof lies with you. If your father dies, and leaves anything behind, then half of it will not go to you, only half of half will go to you.

It is such a blatant discrimination in the name of religion. Segregation, the worst kind of segregation we have ever seen, because in many of those radical Muslim homes, there is a space for woman and a space for men, and it is a very unhealthy arrangement, I can tell you. And this takes me back to the gays, because a lot of Muslim men will have sex with little boys, they will have sex with men, but they will erupt in joy when they see a gay man put to death. It is that kind of hypocrisy, it is that the of sickness, that we are up against.

And it is not only atheists. I want you to take note of the plight of religious minorities in Muslim countries and within Muslim communities. If you want to be a Christian, and you are in a Muslim community, or a Muslim family, you know what? Please read Richard Dawkins. That’s about the worst I can do to you. I can introduce you to Sam Harris. But I will never threaten to disown you, to kill you, or anything. Today, if you are Christian, or Jewish, or even any of the myriad minorities within Islam, you cannot practice your religion freely.

And as atheists, our job is not only to defend our own narrow path to reason. I think that our efforts should also be about defending the freedom of conscience in general. Voltaire: I do not agree with what you say, I despise it, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it. If you want to be superstitious, go for it. I don’t like it, but I will put my life on the line to defend your right to say it. That is the soul of a free society and an open society.”

Summary

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, speaking from both evidence and experience, made several important points about tackling Islamic persecution, and about the need to direct our resources wisely in tackling religious bigotry and persecution generally.

In making this case, she also said: “I understand, I empathise, and you have my support in fighting religious bigotry, and in Christian America there is probably a lot to do,” and “I understand, if you are ex-Christian, the kind of pain that you have to go through, and what a big battle it is we have to fight.”

By contrast, notice the gravity of what PZ Myers has accused her of: “happily exploiting atrocities” as “a club to silence those who strive for respect and dignity in their lives.”

That kind of rhetoric is both unjust to and potentially dangerous for Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and harmful to the atheist and secular movements generally.

At this stage, some people have become so desensitised to PZ’s harmful rhetoric that the outrageous nature of it can pass under the radar. We should continue to notice it.

Postscript

Here is Ayaan’s full speech, for more context. The above section represents perhaps one third of it.

Here is PZ’s full smear, for more context:

Fatwah envy, again

I’m following the twitter conversation about the American Atheists convention this weekend, and in particular Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s talk. She’s reported to have said this: “If you are gay the worst the Christian community can do in America is not serve you cake.…I just want you to think about being Muslim and gay today…the worst case scenario…bullies throw you off a building.”

Fantastic. ‘Dear Muslima’ on the stage, from an ex-Muslim woman.

But in a bit of synchronicity, she’s neatly echoing the the sentiments of the right wing. From Tom Cotton, this week, on the discrimination bill in Indiana: “I think it’s important we have a sense of perspective. In Iran, they hang you for the crime of being gay.”

Why is this so hard? Yes, being thrown off a building or hanged is worse than being denied a wedding cake — there is literally no comparison between the two, they are so far apart. But that does not mean that we should meekly accept the lesser injustice because of the threat of the greater; acceding to discrimination in the US does not diminish the odds of a gay man being murdered in Iran, and neither does fighting for equality here detract from a larger battle there. Both of these people are committing a kind of rhetorical extortion, using the threat of murder elsewhere as a club to silence those who strive for respect and dignity in their lives. And in that sense both Ali and Cotton are happily exploiting atrocities to justify continued injustices.

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{ 92 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tom Williamson April 5, 2015 at 5:26 pm

most people stopped paying attention to PZ and Tinpot Blogs some time ago.

2 vjack April 5, 2015 at 5:29 pm

I think that many of us prioritize our goals in a somewhat selfish manner based on where we live and the sort of thing with which we must personally deal on a daily basis. For example, those of us who are surrounded by Christian extremists seeking to restrict our rights are probably going to focus our efforts there. I think this is defensible and something is to be said for focusing one’s efforts on the things that are in one’s face much of the time. At the same time, I do appreciate the attention Ali and others are bringing to the dangers of Muslim extremists. I can agree with her that they probably deserve more attention than some of us having been giving them.

3 Larry Metcalfe April 5, 2015 at 5:44 pm

I can’t help wondering how much of Myers’ disgusting attitude towards Aayan Hirsi Ali can be attributed to his standard angry rage blogging click bait and how much is sheer jealousy – at one point he had designs on being thought of as the fifth horseman whereas Ali was already due to have been the fifth horse person but was unavailable at the time.

It’s a very sad state of affairs when someone like Aayan Hirsi Ali receives such vitriol from the likes of Myers and his fellow travellers.

4 Richard "The King" Sanderson April 5, 2015 at 5:46 pm

PZ and the Horde attacking Ayaan was entirely predictable. Islamists, conspiracy theorists, and misogynist nutjobs, plus the likes of abusive exposed charlatan CJ Werleman have led the attacks on Ayaan. PZ and the Horde are simply in the same camp as these goons.

Of course, one could take the view that dismissing Ayaan’s point simply because gay people face bigotry in the US, is in fact diminishing Muslim people. PZ and the Horde better realize the hashtag #MuslimLivesMatter exists for a reason!

Then again, PZ and the Horde attacked Jamila Bey recently as well. So, perhaps they have a problem with women People of Colour. The overwhelmingly white, middle-class, privileged goons at Pharyngula obviously think they know best and black women are not allowed to have their own opinions.

Great article, Michael. We need to keep exposing PZ, the Horde, and the other anti-liberal traitors.

5 Kirbmarc April 5, 2015 at 5:49 pm

A really unfair smear from Myers towards a woman who has fought, and is fighting, against discrimination of marginalized people in a way that makes her a potential target for violent groups.

Myers didn’t even bother to check the original source of Ali’s comments and compared Hirsi Ali’s more than understandable comments about giving the right amount of money and effort to different issues to the rhetoric of a right-wing conservative politician who wants to justify a potentially discriminatory law.

As a self-professed skeptic Myers should know much better than this. However his bias have clouded his judgment and now he thinks he doesn’t need to verify the accuracy of a quote and its context.

He’s all too happy to smear anyone who dares to make a statement about the many horrible violations of human rights committed in the name of Islam as a someone who “silence” others or is “racist” “Islamophobic” a “white supremacist”, etc.

The people who commented on his posts have gone even further and many times express some worrying lack of strong condemnation of violent acts committed in the name of Islam because “Muslim are oppressed”.

We’ve seen it happen before after the Charlie Hebdo murders, where the FTB community seemed much more interested in smearing the Charlie Hebdo writers as racists (while anyone who had read their comics in the right context knew that they weren’t racist at all) than about condemning a violent, unjustified, vile attack committed in the name of Islam.

It’s somewhat paradoxical that someone like Myers who claims to be fighting for the rights of women” and POCs and against religious bigotry is all too ready to throw a POC woman like Hirsi Ali under the bus just because she dares to denounce the crimes committed in the name of Islamic religious bigotry.

Myers seems to be interested in the easy outrage and clicks of a crowd of deluded, privileged liberal college students who have somehow been deluding themselves into believing that Islam is their friend just because it’s the enemy of their conservative enemies.

If this is true then Myers is the one who is damaging the fight against religious discrimination through his smears against fellow atheists who rightly condemn Islam as one of the biggest, if not the biggest, threat to human rights in the world.

6 Richard "The King" Sanderson April 5, 2015 at 5:50 pm

Oh, and did everybody notice that Ophelia Benson (formerly a staunch supporter of Ayaan) had a spiteful, little dig at Ayaan over the weekend? Obviously, the accusation from the Horde that Ophelia is an “Islamophobe” is having some effect, and she is “getting in line” and “on message”.

Finally, don’t give me this “Dear Muslima” crap. The #FTBullies are forever pulling “Dear Muslimas” when it suits them. Hypocrites.

7 Lancelot Gobbo April 5, 2015 at 5:54 pm

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a true hero for all atheists who have no other agenda. A brave and forthright person who speaks the truth as she sees it.

Now why would PZ Myers choose to smear her? Because she spoke for the need for a reformation in Islam (“islamophobia” is used by the social-justice-left these days to counter those who dislike what islamic fundamentalists do, not because they object to the islamic part, nor the fundamentalism, but because they are felt to be objecting to a religion that the bien-pensant left believes to belong to coloured people alone)? Or, more likely, because she has just published her third book, which will sell, like the first two, many orders of magnitude better than “The Happy Atheist”?

Hmm. Whichever you think is the more accurate of those two options, the complete irrelevance of PZ to present day atheist/skeptic thought grows exponentially. He should stop embarrassing everyone with his self-centered nonsense, and let his “horde” loose to find whatever mental health professionals they require to allow them to reassume some semblance of normality. Cock-eyed optimism, maybe, but one likes to hope for the best for all the benighted individuals of our species!

8 Richard "The King" Sanderson April 5, 2015 at 5:54 pm

Just one more thing for now.

When PZ pulled out his idiotic pratfall about Robin Williams’ death overshadowing the Ferguson protests, that was in effect, a “Dear Muslima”. Many people were talking about the issue of suicide after Williams’ death, and PZ Myers essentially cried “forget that”, “this is more important”… According to their logic, PZ was demeaning and insulting people who have faced issues concerning suicide, because he deemed something else as more important!

How was that NOT a “Dear Muslima”?

9 Richard "The King" Sanderson April 5, 2015 at 6:02 pm

Kibmarc:

We’ve seen it happen before after the Charlie Hebdo murders, where the FTB community seemed much more interested in smearing the Charlie Hebdo writers as racists (while anyone who had read their comics in the right context knew that they weren’t racist at all) than about condemning a violent, unjustified, vile attack committed in the name of Islam.

Yes, and Ophelia Benson at least stuck to her liberal principles and defended CH. However, she received A LOT of pushback from the Horde, who labelled her “racist” and an “Islamophobe”. Ophelia threw a lot of her liberal values under the bus when she 100% got behind PZ Myers and the Horde. However, she retains a “problematic” stance on Islam – unless of course her lip is quivering. I suspect it is.

Today, PZ and company will happily throw Ayaan under the bus. Tomorrow it will be, say, Gita Saghal, or Maryam Namazie.

PS – I bet Maryam Namazie must cringe at some of the crazy from her network blogging buddies.

10 Shatterface April 5, 2015 at 6:04 pm

This is how fellow FtBer Greta Christina described Ayaan Hirsi Ali in her article 7 Amazing Atheists Who Aren’t White Guys back in 2012:

When you’re imagining the face of atheism, I hope some of these faces — faces from history, or alive and yelling today — will come to mind…

7. Ayaan Hirsi Ali. If this woman’s story doesn’t jolt you into action, check your pulse — you might possibly be dead. Born in Somalia, a victim of female genital mutilation at age 5, an escapee from an arranged marriage, she transformed herself into an author, politician (she was a member of the Dutch Parliament) and activist, and has devoted her life to defending women’s rights in Islamic societies and combating the abuses of Islamist theocracies. As a result, she has been made the target of a fatwa. Her colleague, Theo van Gogh, was murdered for producing a film Ali wrote and narrated criticizing the treatment of women in Islamist society, and she was marked for death in a letter pinned to his body with a knife. She’s had to live with tight, round-the-clock security ever since. Very few people would blame her if she’d just thrown in the towel and taken up organic farming instead. She hasn’t. She’s continued her work.

And in case you even have to ask at this point: Atheist. Infidel, even. That’s the title of her most famous book, Infidel, chronicling her journey out of Islam and into non-belief. As she wrote in that book:

The only position that leaves me with no cognitive dissonance is atheism. It is not a creed. Death is certain, replacing both the siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell. Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: we stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and love. There is nothing more; but I want nothing more.

http://www.alternet.org/belief/7-amazing-atheists-who-arent-old-white-guys?paging=off

FtB have been pushing the idea that men, particularly of the cis-white hetero-shitlord variety, should shut up and listen to women and people of colour – but it has become increasingly obvious that they really mean women and people of colour who say exactly what they want them to say: see also the pounding Jamila Bey got recently.

‘Diversity’ is simply code for ventriloquism.

11 Shatterface April 5, 2015 at 6:05 pm

Gah, cocked up my

blockquotes

[Fixed it – MN]

12 Jan Steen April 5, 2015 at 6:27 pm

Based on hearsay, PZ Myers jumps to conclusions and attributes the worst possible motives to someone he doesn’t like.

In other news, ice is cold and water is wet.

Seriously, what possible motive could Hirsi Ali have to want to “silence those who strive for respect and dignity in their lives”? It doesn’t make any sense. And you can’t sink much deeper than by accusing her, not directly but in Myers’s typical sleazy, backhanded way, of “fatwah envy”.

I guess Theo van Gogh had fatwah envy too. Just like the Charlie Hebdo people, Avijit Roy and Washiqur Rahman. All serious cases of fatwah envy.

13 Kirbmarc April 5, 2015 at 6:54 pm

“I guess Theo van Gogh had fatwah envy too. Just like the Charlie Hebdo people, Avijit Roy and Washiqur Rahman. All serious cases of fatwah envy.”

Theo Van Gogh was already attacked by many European proto-SJWs for being a “racist”, a “misogynist” and “homophobic”.

SJWs and their political ancestors, the radical left, love to smear anyone who is outspoken in their strong criticism of Islam as a horrible person. Some sectors of the radical left are supportive of Muslim fundamentalist terrorist groups such as Hamas or Hezbollah because they’re enemies of “the West” which they see as “capitalistic and corrupt”.

While Israel and the American foreign policy are obviously not above stern, strong criticism, and both the Israeli and the American government have violated the International law many times and committed several crimes against humanity, the threat of radical Islam is very real and should be condemned by any coherent “progressive” and “pacifist”.

The problem is that the radical left isn’t made up of coherent people. Those of them who aren’t clueless rich college students who feel guilty about feeling rich are professors of subjects which are nominally scientific but in practice are “safe spaces” where only one voice must be heard, theirs.

The anti-establishment leftist movements if the Sixties and the Seventies have become an establishment within certain sectors of academia, where all conservatives (from the fringe loons to moderate ones) or even liberals who believe that American democracy and capitalism aren’t horribly evil are seen as the enemy.

14 MacGruberKnows April 5, 2015 at 7:18 pm

SJW’s are worked up over cakes and flowers, jass hands and gays taking on the mannerisms of black women and black students not taking exams because of trauma while the Islamicist element within Islam has achieved a critical mass that allows them to carry on a large-scale war across several fronts with enough recruits and funding to last indefinitely.

Do any of these SJW’s even exist in the real world? They all sound like first year wymyns/lgbt majors. Cluelessly out to lunch.

15 Steven Carr April 5, 2015 at 8:20 pm

MacGruber is right. I know Myers is rather insulated from the outside world in Morris, Minnesota, but surely even he must have access to a TV so he can see what is happening in the world.

16 David Jones April 5, 2015 at 9:36 pm

And let’s not forget Massimo Pigliucci, who called Hirsi Ali ‘a jerk’.

There’s a coterie of ‘Progressives’ who think their general political disagreements with the less ideologically pure override everything else in every circumstance.

17 Geoff Arnold April 5, 2015 at 10:11 pm

I agree that PZ is a jerk. Unfortunately, so is Hirsi Ali. Read her interview with the Daily Beast – http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/04/05/ayaan-to-liberals-get-your-priorities-straight.html – where she dismisses the issues that women face in the West is trivial:

Like what? Who does the dishes at home? That’s what it boils down to: How can we balance work-life.

That’s not exactly going to win over people who are dealing with issues like violence against women, rape culture, and incarceration after a miscarriage. Yes, some issues are more urgent than others, but Hirsi’s angry dismissal seems pretty counterproductive.

18 Ibrahim April 5, 2015 at 10:42 pm

On Islam, I agree. Islam isn’t a good religion.

What troubles me though is that atheists and secularists are championing Ayaan Hirsi Ali as a leader, while deliberately hiding her association with the American Christian far-right. She joined the one political “think thank”group that most insistently lobbied for the Iraq War. In other interviews and speeches, she spoke of there being no such thing as a moderate Muslim, and the need for coersion, including warfare, to fight Islam. Couple that with her close friendship with the Christian far-right who have a chronic affection for war which is as motivated by religious fervor as any Islamist…

And any time I or anyone else brings up the many instances Ayaan has shown such affinity for a totalitarian, hatefully anti-Muslim approach, the response from atheists who think themselves to be open minded, amounts to something akin to a hiss. She has been baptized by both Dawkins and Harris, so henceforth thou shalt not blaspheme against her.

This is NOT someone atheists or secularists or humanists should be claiming as a thought leader. I’m a fan of Hitchens; I was a fan of Dawkins and Sam Harris until they started endorsing this person. Maher has been a fervent pro-Zionist, excusing Israeli killings of Palestinians from a while now, so he doesn’t even count.

19 Gerhard April 5, 2015 at 10:55 pm

Rape culture? Really?

Ali is contrasting deliberate institutional discrimination against women in Islamic culture against that faced by women in the West. Violence is not a problem faced uniquely by women in the West, it is a societal problem which victimises men at least as much as women and it is definitely not sanctioned. Unless you subscribe to the loopy radfem BS about violence against a women being a patriarchal tool for suppression of women, that is. As for incarceration after miscarriage, whatever it is you are talking about, I think you’ll find that it is numerically a pinprick in comparison to the multitude of ways that the justice system finds to discriminate against men when it comes to prosecution and sentencing.

20 Aneris ✻ April 5, 2015 at 11:10 pm

PZ Myers typically presents some person on his pillory and the text he adds is not even that important. He knows the person is disliked and a gentle quote-mine or some straw-manning is just helping his Flock™ to get into the right mood. But he could blog much more efficiently if he left the pretence away and just write: “Richard Dawkins, fire at will”, or “Sam Harris, fire at will” or “Ayaan Hirsi Ali, fire at will” and leave it at that. The Flock™ will anyway take over and pour outrage and fantastic stories into the comment sections that are generally not bound to also be true.

Due to these threads, the targets wind up with views they never stated. What’s more, FreethoughtBlogs have designed their communities in such a way that these views become articles of faith. Would they go with the evidence, they’d lose a way to keep the community intact. And without proper enemies within atheism and skepticism, they could not circle the wagons as effectively and keep their little community separate from everyone else.

Their in-group shields itself with hard-to-fake-views that show that a person is worthy of being admitted into the “safe space” and can be trusted, because ultimately, they believe they are under siege and against an “oppressive” army of trolls, a “boy’s club” of powerful “leaders” and surrounded by evil and right wingers. They are by now a mirror image of the McCarthy Era. Right wingers are everywhere!

Long ago this took a life on its own and now it is ruled out that something, anything, can be stated in defence about the targets even if true. Rather, the Flock™ will stick to the false version because here they can show their commitment. If there is some small way that a negative, confirming interpretation of a statement is possible, it’ll become the default and serves as the rationalization why the hate and bitterness towards the target is justified.

For example, by comment 2 Hirsi Ali is found to “[minimize] the extent to which many Christians make life hell for gay people”. Really? In comment 30, Iran is shown as friendly to Transpeople. We don’t know how this is relevant, but it’s a good reminder that social justice warriors are typically Islam Accommodationists (and that was an issue already with the original “Dear Muslima” where Richard Dawkins inadvertently assigned himself to the wrong internet flame war camp, and doubled that with pointing at Islam).

Comment 52 claims new atheists “advocate for violence against all Muslims”. PZ Myers normally writes in flashing red when he doesn’t like something. He never has a problem with such things. PZ, I know you read here. Shouldn’t you write something there?

As usual some lone person points out the various distortions and is then consequently told off, like “Please [F] off, neocon” in comment 60 (edited due to moderation filter here). Later, Hirsi Ali’s positions are so far distorted as if she said people should never oppose LGTBQ discrimination or that everything was fine there.

Once more it is apparent that PZ Myers and his followers simply don’t know what empathy is. When your friend was murdered and a death threat to you attached to the very knife that killed him; when you were forced to marry; when you were mutilated; when you had to flee from your home more than once; loose your parents and family who reject you now because you are an apostate of the faith; and all that was connected to a religion and culture: are you expected to be mild with that belief system? When all that happened to you, can really be criticized when you hate that belief system that did that you? In Hirsi Ali’s case “Islamophobia” is the fear of death.

What’s outright bizarre is that the same people will justify about anything as “lived experience”. But only if it confirms their views. Then the molehill can become a mountain they want to die on.

21 Guestus Aurelius April 5, 2015 at 11:20 pm

@Ibrahim

This is NOT someone atheists or secularists or humanists should be claiming as a thought leader.

Why do atheists need “thought leaders” at all? To promote conformity with your opinions?

I’m an atheist, and I certainly don’t need you or anybody else policing my politics or telling me whom to condemn.

22 Shatterface April 6, 2015 at 12:04 am

AHA hasn’t changed her views since Greta Christina gave her FtB’s endorsement three years ago.

What has changed is that (a) radical Islam has reached new depths of depravity in the form of ISIL, an organisation so batshit crazy they make Al Qaeda look like a C of E tea party; (b) increasing numbers of Western Muslims fuelled by anti-western propaganda are joining the crazy; and (c) FtB have become the propaganda wing for pretty much any party pushing an anti-Western agenda, while slapping down women and POC who don’t share the hate.

23 Phil Giordana FCD April 6, 2015 at 12:37 am

Mostly what the two last post have said.

24 Harrison April 6, 2015 at 12:46 am

I read that comment section and literally every defense of Ali was met with accusing the defender of being a “neo-con” with the only justification being the same ridiculous guilty by association argument favored by evangelist Christians.

They even try to tie AHA to the Chapel Hill murderer, the same guy who was also a fan of Atheist Voices of Minnesota, a book that prominently advertises PZ Myers, Stephanie Zvan, and Greta Christina’s contributions on the front cover. It’s so absurd.

25 Aneris April 6, 2015 at 1:53 am

@Harrison
In fairness, that is the same person who repeats it over and over again. It could even be a troll or Poe who enjoys playing along and the fools there have no way of doing anything against it, because they have lost the basic method to disagree and write “enough is enough”. Only daring regulars or the host himself can do this due to the authoritarian culture there.

@Geoff Arnold
Interestingly, she has to constantly deal with white middle class feminism and the interviewer just won’t leave her alone. She has no way of saying “let me alone with that, I have another topic”. Somehow PZ Myers and his gang can dismiss violence against women in Islam, and that direction is okay, but other people can’t express that white middle class feminism is mot high on their list. In fact, nobody can afford to say: “look, I’m concerned about climate change” (booo, you delegitimze the lived experience of gender studies students!); “very well, but my issue is animal rights” (noo! What about brutal gender violence, such as double entendres in confined spaces?) and so on. Because nobody is allowed to have other interests and getting caught by FTB writers or feelz-journalists. You can only get away by keeping silent about it and somehow evade being put on trial. If you’re asked, you’re fked. There is no right answer in pomo intersectionality feminist wonderland.

26 The Tim Channel April 6, 2015 at 2:36 am

Christianity presents a clear and present danger within this country. That is why I focus on their insanity more than Islamic crap. There is no chance of Sharia taking over here while there is a significant risk that crazy American Taliban will try to wrest control of the levers of power. Enjoy.

27 Shatterface April 6, 2015 at 2:58 am

Christianity presents a clear and present danger within this country.

Yes, I remember them flying airplanes into buildings a few years back, and blowing up a bunch of people just for watching a race.

28 Chad Lancaster April 6, 2015 at 3:18 am

“Yes, being thrown off a building or hanged is worse than being denied a wedding cake — there is literally no comparison between the two, they are so far apart. But that does not mean that we should meekly accept the lesser injustice because of the threat of the greater;”

I think I’ve heard this argument before with fake rape accusations. Is PZ Myers one of those dirty “MRAs”?

29 Shatterface April 6, 2015 at 3:40 am

There’s an interesting parallel with Trevor Noah.

For years the social media has been beating talk shows with the cis-white-male-hetero-shitlord stick for lack of diversity but as soon as the producers chose a black guy to front a show, wouldn’t you know it, they chose the wrong black guy.

They want it both ways. They don’t want white male presenters even if they hold acceptable views because it’s about diversity; except when the presenter isn’t white suddenly it’s about his views.

30 Aratina Cage April 6, 2015 at 5:02 am

You know, I don’t see what PZ wrote as a smear. Sorry, but I think you are overusing that word due to what PZ said about you previously. Not every opinion about someone cast in a negative light is a smear.

Now, Ali and Cotton did say essentially the same thing, but their points were different. Ali was saying that Christianity is not as mean as Islam; Cotton was saying that the USA treats gay people better than Iran. I don’t think gay atheists really care for either Ali’s or Cotton’s opinions on those matters, and that is where PZ is right.

Maybe you think it was too small a detail in a long speech for him to pick out and excoriate, but PZ’s saying that doesn’t make wrong everything else Ali had to say or even really negate the point she was making. Likewise, Ali’s speech doesn’t mean everything is peachy for gay people in the USA or that gay people in the USA don’t run into situations where Christians express the desire to kill/eliminate gay people.

31 MacGruberKnows April 6, 2015 at 5:29 am

@Geoff Arnold

Ayaan: “Q: So how would they do it?
A: Next to every mosque, build a Christian centre, an enlightenment centre, a feminist centre. There are tons of websites, financed with Saudi money, promoting Wahabism. We need to set up our own websites—Christian, feminist, humanist—trying to target the same people, saying, we have an alternative moral framework to Islam. We have better ideas.”

ermmagawwwddddd!!! She wants feminists and free thinkers to try to get their viewpoint across to Muslims also. And she want them to do this to try to offset the 10’s of billions of dollars the Saudi’s spend every year trying to convert those same Muslims to ISIS’s religion of choice, the wahaabinist version of Islam, the same version of the guys who flew into the twin towers. But creeps like you forget to mention this. And you never complain about the billions spent trying to convert every muslim into human bombs for the cause. So actually read her words and quit getting them spoon-fed to you by the SJW hivemind or eff off.

32 Michael Kingsford Gray April 6, 2015 at 5:47 am

David Jones:
“And let’s not forget Massimo Pigliucci, who called Hirsi Ali ‘a jerk’.”

Pigliucci is a “professional philosopher”, which is all that one needs to know that he seems to be yet another “academic” barely-disguised blow-hard parasite.
As Wittgenstein intimated, philosophy has nothing more to add to world knowledge than the nit-picking of words.
(Which can be more pithily summarised these days as:

“Philosophy is mental masturbation”

Science has subsumed the roles of philosophers without mercy.
Because science is correct, and the bulk of philosophy has not passed the tests offered by reality.
Sorry all of you philosophiles, it is just a fact. Grow up or suck it up.

Professional Philosophers are rendered the irrelevant dross of intellectual enquiry.

33 Richard "The King" Sanderson April 6, 2015 at 7:23 am

Aratina Cage, did you call out PZ’s ‘Dear Muslima’ over Robin Williams/Ferguson.

Or is it “OK when they do it”?

34 Phil Giordana FCD April 6, 2015 at 7:29 am

“You know, I don’t see what PZ wrote as a smear.”

Well, color me surprised!

35 Jan Steen April 6, 2015 at 9:11 am

PZ Myers said:

Both of these people are committing a kind of rhetorical extortion, using the threat of murder elsewhere as a club to silence those who strive for respect and dignity in their lives. And in that sense both Ali and Cotton are happily exploiting atrocities to justify continued injustices.

Aratina Cage said:

You know, I don’t see what PZ wrote as a smear.

Somehow I suspect that if Myers had written that Hirsi Ali eats babies for breakfast our friend Aratina Cage would still not see it as a smear. SJW apologists like him leave Christian apologists like William Lane Craig and his followers in the dust when it comes to twisted logic and denial of evident truths.

36 Steven Carr April 6, 2015 at 9:37 am

According to Myers, Ali was ‘justifying’ discrimination against gays. That is a smear.

37 Steven Carr April 6, 2015 at 9:42 am

PZ Myers said:
Both of these people are committing a kind of rhetorical extortion, using the threat of murder…

‘Threat’ of murder? Does Myers think gay Muslims had only been ‘threatened’ with being thrown from towers?

Of course, back in 2011, Myers was writing things like ‘They also got rather frantic when the twitter conversation was about Taslima Nasreen’s talk — you want to annoy an Islamist? Just let a Muslim woman speak.’

His flock would never let him get away with praising Muslim women speaking now…

38 Gerhard April 6, 2015 at 10:45 am

If anyone is trying to silence opinions at the expense of the persecuted it is those who use accusations of racism and Islamophobia to deflect criticism of and deflect blame for Islamist violence and Islamic intolerance. This is a common thread running through SJW attitudes. Go apeshit and call for draconian measures over abstract theoretical wrongs but minimise,ridicule and justify as punching up actual material and physical harm done to a member of the “privileged” classes no matter how underprivileged that member may be in reality. It is a narcissistic, self-absorbed game, the players of which appear to show more regard for the perceived “power differential” between Western critics of Islam and the Islamic world than for the victims of Islamic institutions. In this instance it is those who the “privileged” are advocating for who are being thrown under the bus. It seems almost as if they are privileged by association. Nobody is above being sacrificed to the vendetta against Western Patriarchal Oppressors.

The stark reality is that there are beatings, stonings, amputations, forced marriages, executions and state approved religious coercion going on but that takes a back seat to the heinous crime of not paying enough attention to the horrors of made up rape cultures and some real, but mostly first world problems.

We have arrived at a situation in the secular world where people are seen as tokens for political positions. It is a with us or against us culture where differences are all that matter. It is the world PZ Myers has been striving for all along with his “fuck him into the ground” approach to olive branches and his insular “say it on your own blog” response to critical comments. He seems to want a world of bloggers sniping at each other from their own bunkers with no fraternisation. AHA is just the latest victim of this culture. The fact that her irritation with Western feminists is almost inevitable given the familiarity she has with extant persecution and credible threats against her life by people who have already murdered apparently counts for nothing with PZ Myers.

39 Paul Holland April 6, 2015 at 10:55 am

You know for years since “elevatorgate” I’ve been extremely skeptical that the atheist conference movement had a genuine problem with sexism and racism in it’s ranks, however the more I see PZ, a white american male college professor attempt to bully, silence, “correct” and condescend women speaking at these conferences the more I think he may have had a point all along.

40 Charles MacGruder April 6, 2015 at 11:31 am

” think their general political disagreements with the less ideologically pure override everything else in every circumstance.”

Whatever Massimo said about Ali, whatever his failings may be, this definitely does not describe him. Pigliucci is a stoic classical liberal type, he’s much more like Pinker than he is like Myers.

41 Shatterface April 6, 2015 at 11:44 am

You know for years since “elevatorgate” I’ve been extremely skeptical that the atheist conference movement had a genuine problem with sexism and racism in it’s ranks, however the more I see PZ, a white american male college professor attempt to bully, silence, “correct” and condescend women speaking at these conferences the more I think he may have had a point all along.

We’ve had the FtB ‘intellectual artillery’ recently come out as ‘polyamorous’ – which is now a ‘sexual orientation’ like being gay so don’t judge him.

Conferences supply a regular crop of attractive women with whom he can have intimate, loving relationships, and possibly breakfast.

This is absolutely NOT the heinous skirt-chasing other prominent atheists get up to.

42 Shatterface April 6, 2015 at 11:52 am

Pigliucci is a “professional philosopher”, which is all that one needs to know that he seems to be yet another “academic” barely-disguised blow-hard parasite.

Great philosophers are rare.

Science is different: for every Einstein there are thousands of good scientists and fair scientists competent scientists and people who simply hold the test tubes for them or wipe their blackboards.

All make some contribution, no matter how small.

Philosophy isn’t like that: there are great philosophers and time wasters.

43 Diana Brown April 6, 2015 at 11:54 am

Congratulations, Michael, on standing up for Ayaan. I posted a link at Secular Café.

44 Shatterface April 6, 2015 at 12:05 pm

Aratina Cage:

You know, I don’t see what PZ wrote as a smear.

I think we’ve encountered your incomprehension before, and your baffling belief that your deficits are a rhetorical trump card.

Maybe you think it was too small a detail in a long speech for him to pick out and excoriate, but PZ’s saying that doesn’t make wrong everything else Ali had to say or even really negate the point she was making. Likewise, Ali’s speech doesn’t mean everything is peachy for gay people in the USA or that gay people in the USA don’t run into situations where Christians express the desire to kill/eliminate gay people.

Myers accused her of rhetorical extortion, using the threat of murder elsewhere as a club to silence those who strive for respect and dignity in their lives.. He claimed both Ali and Cotton are happily exploiting atrocities to justify continued injustices.

You can’t accuse someone of rhetorical extortion and exploiting atrocities and claim you aren’t dismissing their opinions in toto.

By the way, how’s Blockbot getting on?

45 Aheydis Vaakenjab April 6, 2015 at 1:30 pm

What is amusing in all of this is that PZ is on such a lower pay scale than AHA and he doesn’t even realize it.

What I mean is that AHA has lived through religious extremism in the form of Islam, has death threats against her from the religion of peace and continues to enjoy being lambasted by the far left-wing, hand-wringing apologists for Islam. AHA has suffered and continues to suffer through the worst that Islam has to offer and she focuses her life towards modernizing Islam. Meanwhile PZ’s ilk support jazz hands in place of clapping.

You see, PZ’s world of injustice is where Indiana passes a ridiculous law supporting religion… a backlash occurs thanks to our enlightened western values of tolerance and society building, and the law goes in for revision. Yes, motivated partially by loss of revenue, but here we are with a religious movement being squashed. Meanwhile in Iran, if you’re a man and you kiss another man, you get hung from a crane. Criticize that “belief” and you’re on the next crane ride to the top of the square as well. The latter is where AHA focuses, and rightfully notes that getting the crane treatment is far worse than not getting your cupcakes. However we in the west have the ability to call out the non-cupcake delivering company and produce results that better humanity. Under Shariah? Not so much.

I’m pretty sure PZ is simply playing a poe’s game now. His loss of relevance in the greater community is startling. The Horde, made up of the same 10 people, work themselves up in to a lather based on PZ’s writing and he loves it. There’s nothing of substance. PZ gives no alternatives. PZ refuses to engage in discussion of “difficult” subjects. You don’t have to agree with AHA, but you could certainly try to not strawman her.

46 Charles MacGruder April 6, 2015 at 2:07 pm

PZ’s response to this article:

“Please don’t link to the Irish wanker here.”

http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2015/04/06/we-dont-need-another-hero/

47 Billie from Ockham April 6, 2015 at 2:10 pm

“I’m pretty sure PZ is simply playing a poe’s game now. His loss of relevance in the greater community is startling.”

Check the speakers list for the next International Atheist Convention, in late May, in Cologne (1). More startling is needed, in my opinion.

(1) _http://www.ibka.org/en/convention2015

48 Don Qui April 6, 2015 at 2:26 pm

While I can appreciate an attempt to provide context, I believe you failed to address the central issue of whether or not it is correct to state “If you are gay today in the United States of America, the worst thing the Christian community can do to gay people is to not serve them cake when they want to get married.” I think you’ll find that this statement — even within the body of the speech and with the recognition of the struggles of the LGBT community — is still factually wrong.

49 Steven Carr April 6, 2015 at 2:36 pm

It is interesting to learn that not being served cake is not the worst thing that can happen to gays in America.

Had Ayaan been listening too much to SJW’s complaining about bans on buying cake , and not listening to the actual complaints real gays were suffering from?

50 Shatterface April 6, 2015 at 2:51 pm

PZ’s response to this article

From the comment section:

PZ Myers
6 April 2015 at 7:16 am
Is this @AcharyaS person a slymer? They seem pretty dumb so far, but if that’s their affiliation, I’d just block.

Anybody who challenges his is obviously a Slymer so he can’t be arsed doing basic research, even if only to learn her pronouns:

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acharya_S

If only FTB has a resident Christ Myth expert they could call on to fill them in on who’s who.

51 Guestus Aurelius April 6, 2015 at 3:01 pm

In large-scale socioeconomic terms, there’s certainly validity to the concept of “privilege,” and yes, in much of the West, the odds are that you’re better off in many ways being born with light skin than with dark, with a penis than with a vagina, straight and cisgendered than not, able-bodied and -minded than not, attractive than ugly, rich than poor, etc.

It’s also true that, in still larger-scale socioeconomic terms, the odds are that you’re better off being born in the West than elsewhere, regardless of the variables in the previous paragraph that happen to apply to you. Indeed, the very disadvantages I named are often considerably and even dangerously more pronounced in less “privileged” parts of the world, and the global gap in pronouncedness at the extremes is far greater than the intra-Western “privilege” gap between whites and PoC, between men and women, between straight and queer people, between the cis- and trans-gendered, etc. etc. etc.

In terms of how good people tend to have it, an (extraordinarily oversimplified but for these purposes sufficient) hierarchy looks like this:

A) more “privileged” within the West
>
B) less “privileged” within the West
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
C) less “privileged” in many other places

Now here’s the funny thing about SJWs:

If you point out that some people in category A still face problems worth addressing, SJWs will scream at you to check your fill-in-the-blank privilege because how dare you whine about the first-world problems of A people when B people have it so much worse?!

But if you point out that, wow, C people have it so very very very much worse than even the B-est of B people, while still acknowledging that, yes, we do need to address the real problems that B people face, well, then the SJWs scream at you to check your fill-in-the-blank privilege because how dare you “happily exploit atrocities” that plague C people in order to “justify continued injustices” against B people?!

Where the gap is relatively small from a global perspective, the SJWs can’t countenance even a modicum of attention paid to the problems of the “more privileged” side. But where the gap is canyon-wide, the SJWs try to shout down any attempt to prioritize accordingly (“Dear Muslima!”).

tl;dr: SJWs should check their Western privilege

52 Larry Metcalfe April 6, 2015 at 3:13 pm

I find Myers’ obsession with the Slymepit fascinating. His default setting seems to be that anyone disagreeing with him might be a “slymepitter”.

53 H. Korban April 6, 2015 at 3:33 pm

That PZ would attack Ayaan Hirsi Ali is not surprising. PZs action are no longer reasoned or thoughtful, but simply a knee-jerk reaction, driven from his deep sense of increasing irrelevance to the larger A/S/H movements. He is reduced to making clownish pronouncements, which are slavishly picked by his unthinking Horde. Michael, your continued focus on his antics is adding to his frustration.

Most Westerners do not understand the dangers of Islam, even its more so-called moderate forms. There is very little difference in principal between Islamic groups, and the forces of fanaticism are just under the surface, ready to emerge.

I grew up India in an orthodox, but moderate Islamic community. This community is known for its liberalism, at least when compared to say the Salafis/Wahabbis. However, this is not saying much, as our judgment of Muslims is now driven by what is called “tyranny of low expectations”. In any case, the community head-pontiff openly says that women’s place in the corner of the house, they should study only home-science, wear body-covering hijab or else their husbands should tell them to leave the house, should engage in making food, clothes and other household things, not study in universities, etc. Also, this community practices FGM, and was recently in the news in Australia when a nurse was caught in a FGM ring. This, BTW, is coming from a group which is considered modern! (See the book “Mullahs on the Mainframe” for a mainly-positive look at the community).

My mother has had a very hard life, and was even physically assaulted and verbally abused, as she wanted to work and make sure there was enough money to take care of her children. Despite this, she got a PhD (partly to the credit of my grandfather) and started two independent businesses, and ran them for decades despite the extreme pressure from the community and family to stop and learn her place in the household. I.e. in the corner, cooking and cleaning.

The treatment of gays is even worse. We only need to see that gays are killed by having walls demolished over them, they are thrown off buildings, and even lynched. Apostates, even in the beliefs of moderate communities, are to be killed.

Now, please lets compare the situation in the US for women and gays. There is no legal discrimination in the larger set of laws. Yes, there may be challenges to reproductive rights and minor challenges (Cake-Pizza Laws) which may increase discrimination against gays, even though this doubtful. However, the larger community is fully committed to equality, as is evidenced from the number of states now accepting gay marriage. For women, there is not one law which disallows them civil employment of their choice. Perhaps there are prejudices, but these are minor, and strong women overcome them every day.

What we see with PZ and others, is a need to conflate their minor Latte-Not-Hot-Enough or He-Did-Not-Serve-Me-Cake problems with extreme, lawful discrimination, and life-threatening problems of women and minorities across the world. For them, anyone making a distinction between minor problems in their very comfortable Westerner lives, and the hardships and poverty filled lives of women and minorities in Muslim countries is an attack on their self-image. There are simply unable or unwilling to accept that lives in Westerner societies are immeasurably better, and that there is almost no systemic, legal discrimination any longer, with the last remaining bits challenged in courts and other venues.

In PZ’s case, it is likely his rage is driven by a sense of inferiority, compounded by impotence. Ayaan has successful books and is a highly sought after speaker and thinker. PZ’s book has failed, and he is increasingly finding himself pushed out of the mainstream. Just the quality of commenters on his blog tells a lot about his own thinking and the type of people he attracts. Hence, his antics are driven by jealousy, and he ends up smearing his betters.

54 Richard "The King" Sanderson April 6, 2015 at 4:28 pm

PZ’s response to this article:

“Please don’t link to the Irish wanker here.”

Yet another whiff of casual racism from PZ. Classy!

I find Myers’ obsession with the Slymepit fascinating. His default setting seems to be that anyone disagreeing with him might be a “slymepitter”.

Like any cult, they have catch-all buzzwords to “other” individuals opposed to them. You will notice how popular the buzzword “neocon” has become for the Horde. They now use it in the same way far-right Islamists use it. Interesting, that!

55 Jan Steen April 6, 2015 at 5:55 pm
PZ’s response to this article:

“Please don’t link to the Irish wanker here.”

Yet another whiff of casual racism from PZ. Classy!

Myers clearly thinks that’s okay, since he’s punching up. You see, he has sunk to such depths that punching up is all he has left. His impotent rants only attract frustrated misfits like himself. Others can only point in dismay. Or laugh.

It’s a complete mystery to me why this sad, repellent little man is still being invited for conferences. He has nothing, absolutely nothing to contribute. He’s a waste of time and money.

56 Phil Giordana FCD April 6, 2015 at 6:13 pm

Funny that the “Irish Wanker” is probably a million times more friendly, kind, relevant and feminist than PZ “humanist of the year” Myers.

Well, ok, maybe not “funny”.

57 Jan Steen April 6, 2015 at 6:24 pm

Humanist of the year? Surely, they meant “nasty little creep of the year”?

58 tina April 6, 2015 at 6:50 pm

PZ Myers 6/4/15 –

“We should be encouraging criticism of people like me, just as we should be encouraging criticism of people like Ali.”

PZ Myers 6 April 2015 at 8:49 am –

“Please don’t link to the Irish wanker here.”

Barf…………

59 Thunderf00t April 6, 2015 at 8:29 pm

Honestly, this is why I went my own way.

When I joined FTB, it was clear to me within about 1 week that this was a bunch of jokers that would never achieve anything (having seen how they occupied their time plotting to screw ppl over on their back channel). They were a bunch of vindictive, paranoid, petty losers all trying to be king of a small pile of beans… viscously witch hunting anyone who didnt pledge fealty to their gang…..

None of them were walking the four horsemen path of ‘success through achievement’, but vying for positions riding on the coattails of others.- talentless parasites/ professional victims to a man….. and you know what…surprisingly movements infested with talentless parasites…. never go anywhere.
Which is kinda why the atheist movements has stagnated so badly.

Honestly dont really care that much anymore. Old history…. and I’ve gone my own way. I do however take a kinda forbidden pleasure in watching Mikey finally see the light :-)

60 Aneris ✻ April 6, 2015 at 9:06 pm

“We don’t need another hero” writes PZ Myers, illustrates his post with a superman and means Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a woman. Dishonesty writ large. He couldn’t accurately write “We don’t need another heroine”, could he? That could come across as anti-women to his Flock™. But as usual they are too witless to even notice.

It’s curious that PZ Myers can deflect all criticism with this standard defence. It seems PZ Myers and his Flock™ project too much.

PZ Myers: “We don’t need any heroes!”
Crowd: (cheers) “The Peezus has spoken! All Hail Peezus”
PZ Myers: “I’m serious. No heroes. And now go to Rebecca Watson’s patreon!”
AnonymousBob: “I found her latest video a bit uninteresting tbh”
PZ Myers:“Banned!”
Crowd:“The Peezus has spoken! All Hail Peezus”
As we know it’s impossible to disagree with PZ Myers, who I assume must be the one true pope of atheism. Astonishing that nobody in the Flock™ sees that various people get criticized and there is disagreement over that criticism. What’s so difficult about it? Are we supposed to also cheer “the Peezus has spoken” because everything else would be deemed hero worship? How can you then disagree with the Mighty Peezus?

And as usual, strawmanning. He just can’t take good criticism. He must find the weakest sauce and deal with that, as if anything slightly more challengenging is alredy out of his league. It probably is.

61 Gerhard April 6, 2015 at 9:07 pm

@Don Qui:

While I can appreciate an attempt to provide context, I believe you failed to address the central issue of whether or not it is correct to state “If you are gay today in the United States of America, the worst thing the Christian community can do to gay people is to not serve them cake when they want to get married.” I think you’ll find that this statement…

That statement isn’t far from the truth. The gulf in magnitude of discrimination faced between the 2 worlds is immense. Can you imagine how AHA must feel having experienced real persecution and an extant threat to her life, knowing that millions are still subject to that persecution, and then witnessing the coddled secular communities in the West piling condemnation on critics of Islam. Those same coddled critics reserve their energies for policing the media for obscure theoretical slights. I don’t blame her for being frustrated and angry.

Please don’t play PZ’s game of pretending that all he did was pick out an erroneous statement. The central issue here is that he once again picked the most uncharitable reading possible and shoved it in AHA’s mouth. It’s been no secret that his den of Wile E Coyotes have had it in for AHA for a while and he is quite happy to let them go way beyond reasonable comment without restraint, which would be acceptable if he didn’t police his blog so attentively.

62 Xavier Ninnis April 6, 2015 at 9:27 pm

Screw PZ Meyers. My disgust with Ali has always stemmed from the fact that she’s cynically chosen ally herself with the very scum that, since the mid-twentieth century, has nurtured what were marginal groups of Islamic reactionaries –Marginal almost to the point of invisibility, I mean I don’t recall any big problem with the head-choppers while growing up in the 50s and 60s – thus creating from virtually nothing, the players who now are far and away the most likely to detonate a nuclear weapon in anger. Any why? Because movements for liberal democracy were threatening to take root, and in doing so, imperilling British Petroleum and Standard Oil”s profit share.

63 Shatterface April 6, 2015 at 9:59 pm

Ali has allied herself with reactionary Islamists?

64 Gerhard April 6, 2015 at 10:14 pm

Xavier Ninnis:

Which “scum” has AHA allied herself with? The American Enterprise Institute? They may be right leaning, but they do not endorse political parties and don’t impose restrictions on the expressed opinions of their staff. They are definitely not the Heritage Institute. To leap from there to tar AHA with the actions of US governments dating from half a century ago is a huge stretch, especially considering that AHA’s politics are mostly liberal. This is guilt by Kevin Bacon taken to a ridiculous degree. It’s almost as if you are trying to find a stick to beat her with.

65 Gerhard April 6, 2015 at 10:37 pm

Xavier. It may be true that the West didn’t have a problem with Islamists until relatively recently, but that does that mean that the citizens of Islamic countries weren’t always subject to oppression and violence. The threat of terrorism is a concern for the West and it may indeed be partially self-inflicted. For the humanist though, the oppressive effect of Islamic law on hundreds of millions of Muslims is the bigger issue and that is why cutting the legs off critics of Islam over petty politics by fellow secularists is so cynical. For atheists and freethinking women in the Islamic world it must be very disheartening to see the secular world essentially abandoning them.

66 Richard "The King" Sanderson April 6, 2015 at 11:00 pm

One of the more clueless members of the Horde stumbles in PZ’s latest pile of cess and rubbishes Maajid Nawaz.

Dereksmear

Also, the people she identifies as reformers, such as Maajid Nawaz, have absolutely no influence with, and are generally hated by, Muslims.

What Derek means to say is, that as a liberal Muslim (a genuine one), Maajid is HATED by pseudo-moderate Muslims such as Mo Ansar, Mo Shafiq, and other Islamist enablers. If he doesn’t regard Maajid Nawaz as a reformer, who on Earth does he think is a reformer! Maajid is well-regarded here in UK liberal circles, and is a Muslim who loudly condemns apostasy laws, FGM, the treatment of women, etc. while many other Muslim “activists” either stay quiet, or tacitly condone some of these crimes and immoral actions.

I think Derek was distracted by the fact that Maajid is willing to have constructive dialogue with the likes of Sam Harris, and many others from a wider range of opinions that the SJW/FTBullies allow. A beleaguered Ophelia Benson has had to step in and tell Derek he is wrong.

67 Shatterface April 7, 2015 at 12:25 am

A liberal reformer of Islam is, by definition, going to be hated by a vast number of Muslims.

68 JetLagg April 7, 2015 at 3:46 am

Aratina@30
You know, I don’t see what PZ wrote as a smear.

As Phil said, this isn’t surprising. It’s been well established that there are two different camps with respect to what is considered civilized behavior. If you’re really here to change hearts and minds, you’re going to have to go back down to bedrock and explain why our starting premises were wrong. When I run into the average FTB apologist I’m struck by the fact that we can’t even agree on the basic definition of words, so really, start there. Define your axioms and build up to a conclusion.

69 Shatterface April 7, 2015 at 11:30 am

PZ Myers: “We don’t need any heroes!”

I have a new hero
Posted by PZ Myers on January 8, 2011
http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/01/08/i-have-a-new-hero/

Kathy Griffin is my new hero
Posted by PZ Myers on September 11, 2007
http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2007 … -new-hero/

Markey is a hero, Rethuglicans are morons
Posted by PZ Myers on March 12, 2011
http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011 … huglicans/

A Moroccan hero: Imad Iddine Habib
The state religion of Morocco is Islam, so it took real guts to establish a Council of Ex-Muslims in that country Imad Iddine Habib was awesomely courageous to do so.
http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/ … ine-habib/

It’s official: Matt Damon just became my hero
Posted by PZ Myers on August 2, 2011
I don’t care what his next movie is about. I’ll pay to go see it.
http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011 … on-just-b/

AHA isn’t a hero; wealthy cis white hetero male film star Matt Damon is.

70 Kirbmarc April 7, 2015 at 11:47 am

@Xavier Ninnis:

While there is some truth to your words I would strongly suggest that you study your history a little bit better.

It wasn’t just the Oil cronies who toppled democratic governments, it was a widespread custom of the Cold War. The Soviet Union financed, armed and trained terrorists who then turned radical Islamist later and is at least equally to blame for the rise of radical Islam as “the West”.

So both “the right” and “the left” are to blame for creating “the Islam problem”. And modern supporters of radical Islam or accomodationists like Myers who turn on those who demand and support reforms are even more to blame.

71 Hunt April 7, 2015 at 12:03 pm

I’ve kind of come to the conclusion that Myers doesn’t understand the definition of “wanker.” Either that, or he doesn’t ever expect to set foot in Ireland again.

BTW, Michael, on behalf of all Americans, I’m sorry. We’re not all like that, I promise.

72 Shatterface April 7, 2015 at 12:09 pm

Heroes
Posted by PZ Myers on May 2, 2011:

Amina A. is a gay woman living in Syria — and she and her father faced down a pair of thugs who threatened to rape the lesbian out of her. These were the local ‘security services’ who try to enforce a religious propriety on every one; just living in the day-to-day situation there has to be an example of great courage.

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/05/02/heroes/

Or, in our reality:

Amina Abdallah Arraf al Omari was a fictional character or hoax persona created and maintained by American Tom MacMaster. The identity was presented as a Syrian-American blogger, identifying herself as a lesbian on her weblog A Gay Girl In Damascus and blogging in support of increased civil and political freedom for Syrians. During the 2011 Syrian uprising, a posting on the blog purportedly by “Amina’s” cousin claimed that Amina was abducted on 6 June 2011. This sparked a strong backlash from the LGBT community and was covered widely in mainstream media.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amina_Abdallah_Arraf_al_Omari

73 Kirbmarc April 7, 2015 at 12:25 pm

@Shatterface: may I borrow your post and show it to the Pharyngula crowd?

74 Shatterface April 7, 2015 at 3:07 pm

@Shatterface: may I borrow your post and show it to the Pharyngula crowd?

Absolutely.

75 Shatterface April 7, 2015 at 3:11 pm

The fawning over Matt Damon is hilarious in light of Myers’ later attacks on Robin Williams for being a rich white dude.

I’ve nothing against Matt Damon but I think we can all agree his finest performance was in Team America

76 Nicholas April 7, 2015 at 4:39 pm

Jetlag @68

Boy, do I hear you. The few times I’ve ventured onto PZ’s territory (I always regret it) I was startled at the odd choice of terms the hoarders used. Also amazed at how unread they were. Unfamiliar with even the basic of evolutionary theory (the commenters, not PZ) yet at the same time absolutely convinced that they were right.

77 Ewan Duffy April 7, 2015 at 6:47 pm

At the Atheist Ireland stand on O’Connell Street last Saturday, I had a Hindu express the view to me that we should not be promoting atheism in Ireland on the basis that Christianity was all that stood between Europe and “the Satanic religion of Islam” (his words).

78 Gabriel Carvalho April 7, 2015 at 10:31 pm

PZ Myers is a scumbag.

79 Deepak Shetty April 8, 2015 at 4:11 pm

Michael
You believe Myers et al. are being uncharitable to Ali and you have included your interpretation of some of her statements (for e.g. disproportionate) – so Im going to ask specific examples of what you think Ali meant. (Im also going to ignore things she has said about Christianity and Im going to ignore her affiliations – even though they give you motive and context)

She made this speech at an American Atheist convention so Im assuming her intended audience is non-believers.
So lets take a specific Atheist – Jerry Coyne . he agrees with Ali (on Islam being the most threatening doctrine of current times) , agrees with your interpretation etc. On his website his articles include
a. Evolution related issues , mostly in the USA
b. Religious criticism including the problems both Islam/Christianity
c. Criticism of accomodationism, faitheists, sophisticated theologians, things associated with Templeton
d. Separation of church / state mostly in the USA
e. Cat related
f. food related
g. petitions to places (usually evolution related , sometimes to neutral organisations who he feels are accomodating religion)
h. political stuff (Russia – Israel/Palestine)
i. Free will

When Hirsi ali calls for a prioritisation of resources , and for stopping attacking Christians disproportionately what is it that (you think) She is calling for Coyne to do ? Be specific now. Limited resources – right , so assume Coynes free time is fixed.

2. Next me – I dislike all religion , and I think humanity is better off without religion. I don’t have any specific animosity towards Islam , neither do I think it’s the “most threatening” doctrine – I dislike Christianity and Hinduism as much as I dislike Islam.
However I comment on a few blogs and I sometimes donate to some secular charities. That is the extent of my non-believer activism (My personal life is as secular as I can make it to be) – What is it that (you think) she wants me to do? . Again be specific

As to some of the other criticisms. Suppose you wanted to say that gay people in other countries have it worse – Which example would you have chosen? For e.g. She could have said in America people try to legislate away gay rights but in Saudi Arabia it is already done – or She could have said American assholes go to Uganda to try and criminalize being gay but in America they are blocked (currently) – However this behavior is already criminal in a lot of Islamic countries.
Why do you think she chose the specific example of a baker denying cake to LGBTs instead of a more accurate assessment of LGBT treatment in USA?

Ordinarily I wouldn’t ask you to be a mind reader – but hey you know the correct interpretation of her words.

80 Kirbmarc April 8, 2015 at 6:48 pm

@Deepak:

“She is calling for Coyne to do ?”

I don’t think she is calling for Coyne in particular to do anything. She is. however, asking for the atheist/skeptic movement at large to do something.

Among the things the movement could do there are:

a) loudly denounce violations of human rights in countries with a Muslim majority.

b) call for the boycotting of organizations which support Sharia and sponsor Muslim terrorist groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, etc.

c) call for the to prohibition and criminalization of Sharia Courts in the UK and elsewhere in “the West”. Religious tribunals are a significant threat to the separations of Church and State and Sharia is a barbaric law system.

d) demand proper coverage of Islam-inspired crimes in the Western media, including crimes in countries like Saudi Arabia which are given much less prominence due to the dubious status of Saudi Arabia as “an ally of the West”

e) call out Muslim leaders who preach intolerant or anti-secularist messages and start petitions not to get them invited to important public events

f) on the other hand, support Muslim groups and leaders who are willing to reform Islam and accept a distinction between a private faith and a secular society

g) defend freedom of speech and support the victims of attacks inspired by religious bigotry instead of quibbling about whether the victims were “Islamophobic”

h) get their facts straight and do not accuse victims of Muslim attacks on freedom of speech of being “racist” when they aren’t (like in the case of the Charlie Hebdo attack)

i) Stop spreading the canard that “Muslim is the religion of brown people”. Not all “brown people” are Muslims, many of them are Christians, Hinduist, Buddhist, Sikh, Zoroastrians, Atheists or Agnostics. Also, not all Muslims are “brown people” either.

l) give a clearer definition of “Islamophobia” which cannot be co-opted by radical Muslim apologists.

Hating Muslims just because they’re Muslims and calling for violence or discrimination against them is wrong an, yes, Islamophobic. Wanting Muslims to respect the freedom of speech of others and the rules of a general society is reasonable criticism and isn’t “Islamophobia”.

And that’s just for a start. I’m sure other may add more items to the list.

81 Deepak Shetty April 8, 2015 at 8:00 pm

@ Kirbmarc
In context of this argument

Which of the items above need me to prioritise my limited resources?
Which of these need me to be proportionate to what we say about Christians?

The point of contention was not that evil Islamists exist or even a debate on how evil islam is (As compared to other things).Your examples don’t address the specific dispute.

82 Jacques Cuze April 8, 2015 at 9:34 pm

When I first ran across “Dear Muslima” I wasn’t fond of it (and I am not greatly fond of it now) as it struck me as fallacy of the excluded middle. And yet, what I am also struck with is that I don’t recall anyone else criticizing it on that basis, that is the basis of a well known logical fallacy. Instead I just see all sorts of ad hoc criticisms or rationalizations based on um, new stuff.

Back in the 70s when I was an anthropology minor, we talked about privilege. But in the context of anthropology, it was always used as a way of understanding group dynamics. It was never used to put down a person, or to put down a group or to silence either a person or a group.

Back in the all white straight cis shitlordian 70s, it would be anathema to an anthropologist discussing privilege to use it as it seems mostly used today, to dehumanize others and dismiss their arguments and erase their voices.

Same thing with the invisible backpack. We all walk around, all of us, with invisible backpacks. You recognize it and move on. It don’t mean your shit don’t stink just because you think your backpack is smaller that xis backpack.

I’d love to hear today from a ph.d anthropologist from the 60s or 70s on privilege theory and how it has evolved or been abused.

83 J. J. Ramsey April 8, 2015 at 10:09 pm

Deepak, you are missing the point. PZ Myers made a claim that — regardless of whatever legitimate criticisms can be made about Ali’s statements — was unjustifiable. Whatever verbiage you mount up, his claim that Ali was “happily exploiting atrocities to justify continued injustices” was still way out of line.

84 Deepak Shetty April 8, 2015 at 10:42 pm

Whether you believe it or not , I dont speak for Myers.
I’m disputing Michaels *charitable* interpretation of Hirsi Ali’s speech and am asking him to provide a specific example to demonstrate that. She tried to minimise what other people face in order for us to focus on her pet peeve – and by the example(cake) she used – she did so deliberately and knowingly. Thats my only claim.

85 Minnow April 9, 2015 at 11:16 am

“She tried to minimise what other people face in order for us to focus on her pet peeve”

I don’t think she tried to minimise anything, although referring to the forced genital mutilation, rape and murder of Muslim women as a ‘pet peeve’ might strike some as a bit minimising to say the least.

You can disagree with her perspective, of course, and Michael Nugent disagrede with some of what she said too as he mentions above, but to suggest that she is ‘exploiting atrocity’ is frankly defamatory smearing. That is the problem with Myers, he cannot simply disagree, he has to try to destroy the reputation of the person he disagrees with in the most vindictive way he can find..

86 Alice Carr April 10, 2015 at 7:35 am

“I agree with the central point that Ayaan was making at the Convention. She was arguing that religions are different, that Islam is significantly more dangerous than Christianity today, and that we should focus our limited campaigning resources where they are most effective in tackling injustice and persecution.”

How can Islam be dangerous? Surely Islam is represented by the books of the faith – the Qur’an, Hadith and Sīra. It is the human beings who enact religious belief. What is really being said here is that Muslims are significantly more dangerous than Christians today.

When we think of it in those terms it is way more personal and also the generalisation comes out much more strongly. Whenever we generalise about a large group of people as such we really need to base those statements in facts.

If for example we find that of the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, how many of those are involved in terrorist activities? How many are involved with human rights abuses? Now compare those figures with the number of atheists / Christians / Buddhists / etc and how many were involved with terrorism and human rights abuses?

I believe that this is one of the things that Ayaan has done in her new book and found that Muslims have a higher incidence than other groups. But still what is the percentage of those in the Muslim population?

I would hazard a guess that that number is very much less than 1%. So let’s over estimate and assume that based on this wiki article on suicide attacks and considering the situation in Syria / Iraq, that the number of Muslims engaged in terrorist attacks / terrorism around the world is currently 320,000. Let’s be generous and times it by 10 = 3,200,000. That is still only 0.2% of Muslims.

Now what about the other 99.8% of Muslims? Perhaps they have more in common with the 99.9% (giving them 0.1% more) of non-Muslims who are committed to a peaceful life?

Think of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Think of just how many people came out against going to war in Iraq with those illusive WMD’s. Think about who is gaining from this war on Muslims? And who is loosing.

Ultimately reading the Qu’ran or any other holy book in a literal context isn’t useful to interpret how human beings live their lives. Human beings are very much the same from anywhere in the world. We are all subject to subjective error. We are all subject to the herd fear reaction. We are all subject to pain avoidance. We are all (99% who possess the brain capacity for empathy) moral agents who have the capacity for moral reasoning. We all share similar needs for basic universal human rights. And it is tolerance, compassion and fairness in a pluralistic secular democracy that will IMO best provide for those shared human needs and values.

Really what we need to do is to team up with the 99.8% of people around the world who actually want peaceful, cooperative and safe lives and work with them towards the society that will benefit us all and side line those others who would seek to cause such harm to the rest of us. We shouldn’t be focusing on Islam / Muslims, Christianity / Christians, atheism / atheists, etc. so much as we need to focus on seeing the difference between those who would seek to harm others and those who would seek to protect from harm and live in harmony.

Notes:
(Between 1981 and 2006, 1200 suicide attacks occurred around the world, constituting 4% of all terrorist attacks but 32% (14,599 people) of all terrorism-related deaths. 90% of these attacks occurred in Iraq, Israel, the Palestinian territories, Afghanistan, Pakistan or Sri Lanka.)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_attack

War with Isis: Islamic militants have army of 200,000, claims senior Kurdish leader

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/war-with-isis-islamic-militants-have-army-of-200000-claims-kurdish-leader-9863418.html

87 Kirbmarc April 10, 2015 at 11:01 am

@Alice Carr:

It’s not just a matter of numbers of people directly involved in violence, though. It’s also a matter of radical an ideology is and how support fundamentalism and authoritarianism get, even from some non-violent people.

Suppose you have a group, the Religion of Quizblorg. The Religion of Quizblorg is made up mostly by peaceful people, but it abhors people who make fun of the Great Quizlborg. Some non-violent Quizblorgian wish to control society and to enact laws to give more power to Quizblorgians and make it illegal to make fun of the Great Quizblorg. A minority of Quizblorgians are violent and kill those who make fun of the Great Quizblorg.

Now of course the minority of violent Quizblorgians are a problem,but so are those who wish to subvert society to make it an authoritarian state led by the Church of Quizblorg.

“And it is tolerance, compassion and fairness in a pluralistic secular democracy that will IMO best provide for those shared human needs and values.”

I completely agree, but in order to achieve that all Muslims have to accept a compromise: religion is a private matter and the state is secular. Nobody has “the right not to be offended” and send people to prison because they’re “offensive”.

Some Muslim people bring up an interesting piece of criticism: today in some countries that profess to be liberal democracies there are some laws which make Holocaust denial illegal and protect “offended feelings” from anti-Semitic statements. Those laws are illberal.

Holocaust denial is a stupid, baseless, crazy theory. And yet people should not go to jail over it. The same thing is true for people who are anti-Semites.

Of course in civil society people who care about others should denounce prejudice as stupid, baseless, etc. But (and it’s a big but) stupid, baseless opinions should still be allowed. In a democratic society the only legal limits to free speech should be explicit threats and defamation. Stupidity and extremism should still be legal (if shunned by more reasonable people).

This means, for example, that Muslims can get upset how much they want if Mohammad is drawn and mocked, but they can’t ask for laws to “protect the image of Mohammad” or “make Islamophobia illegal” in a secular, liberal society.

88 Alice Carr April 10, 2015 at 9:37 pm

@Kirbmarc

I totally agree with you. We need to protect our freedoms. Freedom of religion. Freedom from religion. Freedom of speech. Freedom to choose our own worldview. Freedom to practice. All within a context that supports secularity, democracy and protects universal human rights.

There is some contradiction here because if the practice of a religion or some cultural tradition includes the abuse of some human right then there is a conflict. In this case the human right must be considered as a priority over the religious belief or cultural practice. The well-being of the human being is a priority.

When thinking about human moral domains, Haidt and Joseph (2004) come up with five.

1. Harm / care
2. Reciprocity /fairness
3. Authority / Hierarchy
4. Community / coalitions
5. Purity

It would seem that different human groups prioritize these moral domains in different ways. So in some communities – authority / hierarchy and purity – are valued much more highly than – harm / care or reciprocity / fairness. You might even say that these different communities apply these moral values in different ways.

For example it is interesting to note that some Saudi speakers have said they are surprised that the west would put their women in harms way by allowing them to drive cars. Now this seems like a basic misunderstanding of the nature of a women driving a car. Although if a women were to drive a car in Saudi perhaps the chances of her being harmed is much higher (not including any state prosecution) than if a women were to drive a car in another country.

The other main issue that I have with this grouping of all Muslims for criticism by their association with Islam is that it generally contributes in a negative way to the herd fear on both sides. This herd fear is what triggers a small few in the society to seek to act. We can see this raising tension on both sides with so many westerners joining ISIS and other attacks such as in Melbourne and Sydney (in Australia) and also on the other side the Reclaim Australia rallies seeking to express concerns about ‘Islam’ (read Muslims) in Australia.

I’m all for freedom of speech and for everyone to express their views, explore the issues, research and find out for themselves. We need to encourage inquiry, thinking, reasoning, rationality, moral reasoning based on facts and evidence and apply this to all topics without restriction.

But we also need to encourage everyone to see a positive solution that doesn’t include being fearful and anxious about all Muslims, or seeking to create laws that target a group in order to remove freedoms such as religious dress as in banning the burqa. Such laws will only impose a state oppression and remove freedoms for what gain?

‘Morality: From the Heavens or From Nature?’ by Dr. Andy Thomson, AAI 2009 / Haidt and Joseph (2004) / 24:10
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnXmDaI8IEo

Teen shot dead by Melbourne police a ‘known terror suspect’
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/in-depth/terror/teen-shot-dead-by-melbourne-police-a-known-terror-suspect/story-fnpdbcmu-1227068708254

2014 Sydney hostage crisis
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Sydney_hostage_crisis

Reclaim Australia demonstrators ignite hatred over an issue that doesn’t exist
http://www.theage.com.au/comment/reclaim-australia-demonstrators-ignite-hatred-over-an-issue-that-doesnt-exist-20150410-1mh5bk.html

89 Kirbmarc April 11, 2015 at 6:00 pm

“But we also need to encourage everyone to see a positive solution that doesn’t include being fearful and anxious about all Muslims, or seeking to create laws that target a group in order to remove freedoms such as religious dress as in banning the burqa”

I agree, and indeed religious and religiously-inspired clothes and symbols aren’t a problem.

The problem is, for example, violent rhetoric. In this respect a civil society has to allow complete freedom of speech but also encourage people to reject violence.

People who accept the rules of a secular society should help each other and try to call out those who don’t. In this respect a civil dialogue between activists for a secular society and those willing to listen to them may help in loosening the possible grip of the radicals on the “hearts and minds” of people of their same religious background.

If Muslims are treated fairly according to equal rules it’s likely that the most radical elements will be shunned and called out more often.

Terrorism thrives when entire communities are ostracized and treated unfairly. If peaceful people are given opportunities to live their lives undisturbed as long as they respect a series of reasonable, non-oppressive rules they will soon denounce and isolate the violent minority.

Without support, terrorists movements eventually can die out or at least become much less effective. This is what happened in Northern Ireland, and I think that the same can happen for the Muslim communities in the West.

90 Michael Kingsford Gray April 12, 2015 at 9:50 am

People need to distinguish between two elementary concepts:
1) Internal Belief
2) External Behaviour

If you have not effectively ‘grokked’ that with those two phrases without me adding qualifications, then I expect that perhaps you never will.

91 Kirbmarc April 12, 2015 at 2:44 pm

“People need to distinguish between two elementary concepts:
1) Internal Belief
2) External Behaviour”

Exactly. What I’m against is external behavior that I deem wrong: violence, puritanism, discrimination, authoritarianism.

I don’t really care about the internal beliefs of people as long as they don’t want to kill others, steal from them, prohibit harmless entertainment, discriminate against others, or run, set up or help others run or set up an authoritarian state.

92 Kirbmarc April 12, 2015 at 2:45 pm

Also defraud others or violate their consent in general, in all matters (sexual or not).

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