Douse the Computers!

May 16, 2017


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

Richard Dawkins is profiled at The Times (UK), where he discusses a wide range of topics, including his belief that humanity’s treatment of animals is our great moral blind spot.

Humanist Voices interviews one of the secular activists I most admire, George Ongere of CFI Kenya:

Becoming the director of CFI [Kenya] is one of the best opportunities I have ever had. … Science, rationalism and skepticism is needed in Africa more than any part of the world. Irrationality that is prevalent in the continent has led to major human rights crises.

The Trump administration takes the reinstated global gag rule, and makes it much worse:

The rules, issued by the State Department, mean that any foreign nongovernmental group that wants American money for any of its health activities — from AIDS treatment to malaria prevention to safe childbirth practices — must promise not to “promote abortion as a method of family planning.” Already, American taxpayer dollars cannot be used for abortion services abroad.

A Pew survey shows that Central and Eastern Europe is not terribly friendly territory for Jews, with more than 10% saying they “would not accept” Jews as citizens of their countries. In Armenia, it was as high as one-third.

March for Science uses science to figure out how many people marched for science. They estimate 100,000 came out for the flagship march in DC, and…

We are confident in our assessment that more than 1 million people participated in the March and took every effort to ensure that this estimate was informed by sound scientific practices for evaluating crowd sizes.

Pedophilia defender Milo Yiannopoulos will join anti-Muslim right-wing wackadoo Pamela Geller in a protest of Linda Sarsour’s commencement address at CUNY.

The Index on Censorship is pushing a petition to get Denmark to repeal its blasphemy law, and CFI’s Robyn Blumner and Michael De Dora are signatories.

Seth MacFarlane announces a new sci-fi comedy series, The Orville, coming to Fox. I have grave doubts, because as much as I love Star Trek and Galaxy Quest and all that, what I don’t want is Ted or Family Guy in space.

At the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, Omar Meriwani has an interesting piece on the rise of satellite TV channels in the Arab world that get around state-controlled media, but promote religious superstition and “deceitfulness, fraud, magic, and pseudoscience.”

This “History of the World, I Guess” video by Bill Wurtz is super cute, though the constant major-seventh chords sung to emphasize major world events got kind of annoying, like a question intro from You Don’t Know Jack got stuck in a repeating loop. But I learned a lot.

Graeme Wood at The Atlantic used to go to high school with Nazi fist-magnet Richard Spencer, so he wrote up a big profile of him for the magazine.

PBS’s Newshour shows how Americans don’t really know much about vouchers and charter schools, with big percentages having no opinion about them.

Cory Turner has a big feature on vouchers at NPR.

Last week the Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled that a print shop owner was not guilty of discrimination when he refused services for a gay pride event, but instead was exercising his First Amendment rights…for free speech, not “religious freedom.”

Yikes. Aleksandr Kolpakov, formerly of the Western Colorado Atheists, is reported to have suffered a “psychotic episode,” and is the lone suspect in a homicide.

The UN has a human rights app. Well okay.

A bill has been introduced in Ireland to abolish the requirement that children be baptized before they go to public school.

Neil deGrasse Tyson is on more videos on the Internet.

I kept hoping this was a parody news article. Nope:

Russia has come up with a novel way of dealing with the cybersecurity situation: holy water. Today, the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church was invited to the country’s Ministry of Internal Affairs to douse the computers with holy water to protect them from incursion.

Quote of the Day:

Anthony Pinn has a new book, When Colorblindness Isn’t the Answer: Humanism and the Challenge of Racewhich Hemant Mehta excerpts. In this passage, Pinn discusses the struggle with the legacy of figures like Thomas Jefferson, and how it forces us to “acknowledge at least a subtle connection to both a legacy of profound humanist thought and a legacy of profound humanist racism.”:

Here we have it in brief: a significant humanist figure with significance to the United States from its initial formation to the present is also a prime example of the status quo in the form of race-based oppression. In a word, Jefferson represents both humanism and racism. One might argue Jefferson and those like him were “men” of their age — trapped in the workings of their time period and shaped by the sociocultural codes of that historical moment. This is true and this is why I would never suggest we ignore, for instance, Jefferson’s contributions to our particular structuring of democracy and our resulting best practices of collective life. However, recognizing this doesn’t free humanists from also recognizing the manner in which he represents some of the most troubling practices of race-based violence witnessed in the modern period. The former is to be celebrated and the latter acknowledged with every effort to learn from bad policy and behavior, and not repeat it. Will such an admission — despite the fact that plenty of Christians bought and traded in slaves, disregarded American Indians, and abused Latinos/as — fuel hostility toward humanists and prove for the general U.S. population that humanism is immortal and flawed? Can humanists acknowledge participation in racism and maintain their critique of theistically fueled injustice?

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