The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.
First things first: Catch up with a very full fortnight of freethought with the latest Cause & Effect newsletter. There’s a lot about Michael De Dora at the UN Human Rights Council, and Michael has even more on his adventures there in this update.
Things are getting absolutely bonkers in Pakistan. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan seeks to assemble a coalition of Muslim nations to devise a global strategy for “dealing with” blasphemous content on social media. Iftikhar A. Khan at Dawn reports:
There was unanimity among those attending the meeting that the Ummah stood united in protecting the sanctity and dignity of its religion and of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Speaking on the occasion, Mr Khan said that distortion of religious beliefs and sacrilege of holy personalities could never be tolerated. No law should allow people to distort religious beliefs or disrespect holy figures.
Meanwhile, the interior ministry claims that Facebook has complied with requests to block blasphemous material in a whopping 85% of cases (!), and the head of the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority says, “Facebook agreeing to our demands is a big achievement.”
And also out of Pakistan, a #HangAyazNizami social media campaign is being waged against a man who organized an atheist Facebook group.
Singapore atheist blogger Amos Yee has been granted asylum in the U.S.
Theology professor Thomas Groome says Democrats need to rethink their positioning and messaging on abortion if they want to regain power:
That Donald Trump, claiming to be anti-abortion, got the majority of Catholic votes to defeat a competent and decent Democrat underscores the continuing influence of abortion in American politics. If Democrats want to regain the Catholic vote, they must treat abortion as a moral issue, work for its continued reduction and articulate a more nuanced message than, “We support Roe v. Wade.”
Utah passes a law requiring doctors to tell women getting medication-induced abortions that their abortions can be halted, which doesn’t seem to be true.
Masha Gessen advises the left not to let itself get sucked in to the vortex of alternative facts and conspiracy theories (cough cough Jill Stein cough cough) in its opposition to Trump:
Each [fraudulent] story dangles the promise of a secret that can explain the unimaginable. Each story comes with the ready justification that desperate times call for outrageous claims. But each story deals yet another blow to our fact-based reality, destroying the very fabric of politics that Mr. Trump so clearly disdains.
Fake news, Jay Nordlinger reminds us, used to mean things like, “The Lindbergh baby might have been carried off by the Loch Ness monster,” but today, Trump gushes about the National Enquirer.
Margaret Sullivan looks at how Scott Pelley on CBS is really just not messing around when it comes to lies spouted by the Trump White House.
The far-right Alliance Defending Freedom sues on behalf of a Pennsylvania high school boy to keep a transgender student from using the same school locker room. Awful, heartless bastards.
An Oklahoma high school student is trying to put a stop to an anti-science education bill that would, in effect, let teachers present creationism as fact and climate change as a hoax.
Also in Oklahoma, the state House votes to restore that damned Ten Commandments monument to the Capitol grounds.
“Right-to-try” legislation, intended to allow terminally ill patients to get access to experimental treatments untested for efficacy by the FDA, is gaining traction at the national level. Here’s the thing about how it works now:
The [current] streamlined process takes doctors just 45 minutes. Last year, 99 percent of the almost 1,800 requests were approved, many in just hours or days.
So it’s really not clear what this legislation would solve.
Alex Jones apologizes for promoting Pizzagate. No, really, he did that, likely to avoid a lawsuit.
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A former political prisoner pays
to have ads run on DC’s Metro system about Egypt’s human right abuses, but the ads are rejected because they are “issues-oriented advertising.”
Daniel Schultz is skeptical of Peter Beinart’s whole “going to church would solve bigotry” thing:
Listen, I’m a small-church pastor who’s spent quite a bit of time with white farmers, factory workers, and petty bourgeoisie of all kinds. I would love to discover that the church was capable of limiting social and racial animosity with a message of universalism. … For one thing, people tend to draw the boundaries of their community pretty narrowly. It’s one thing to talk about tolerance between Protestants and Catholics, for example, and quite another to confront white privilege. Likewise, people tend to see specific members of a group differently than the class generally: the black family down the block are swell, but when “they” run the city, it’s no good.
A woman in Idaho blames Bigfoot for her car crash. A menace, I say. All existing and whatnot, distracting drivers. They oughta pass a law, I tell ya.
Quote of the Day:
The father of H Farook, the Indian man who was allegedly killed for atheistic posts on Facebook, says if his son was killed because of his nonbelief, he too will become an atheist. R Hameed told the press:
If the police version is true, that he was murdered by a radical Muslim group, then they killed my son using wrong interpretations of the Quran. The Quran is one holy book that insists on and allows the right of dissent since the time of the Prophet. If they killed him for being an atheist, I have decided to join his organisation and do what he did.
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