Angela Chen at MIT Technology Review says that resistance is not futile when it comes to platforms shutting down hate-sites, even if they just pop up somewhere else:
…research suggests that deplatforming does hurt online communities even if they pop back up afterwards, and second because the decision by CloudFlare [which kicked out 8chan], a key player in the website security market, has changed expectations about the moral obligations of technology companies.
After a group of tech companies kicked InfoWars founder Alex Jones off their platforms, initial interest in him spiked, but a year later, he had mostly disappeared. One 2017 study found that Reddit’s decision to ban communities like r/fatpeoplehate and r/CoonTown led to less hate speech on the site, says study coauthor Eshwar Chandrasekharan, a PhD candidate at Georgia Tech. The reason: extremely motivated users will follow a community or personality to a new place, but less-engaged members drop off completely.
George Carlin used to joke that he got out of jury duty by telling the judge, “I can spot a guilty person [pop noise] just like that!” Well, not so long ago, this wasn’t a joke, and people thought there was a science behind identifying criminals based on physical features. Becky Little at History.com looks at the 19th-century “born criminal” theory. You will be shocked, just shocked, to know that it was rooted firmly in old fashioned racism:
What [Cesare] Lombroso was doing was combining phrenology and physiognomy, two types of pseudoscience that purported to explain a person’s personality and behavior based on his skull and facial features, respectively. White men before him had used these pseudosciences to advance racist theories, and now Lombroso was using them to develop the field of “criminal anthropology.”
Like his predecessors, Lombroso also relied on racist stereotypes. “Oblique eyelids, a Mongolian characteristic” and “the projection of the lower face and jaws (prognathism) found in negroes” were some of the features he singled out as indicative of criminality. Lombroso also laid what types of facial features he thought corresponded to specific kinds of crime.
Anne Applebaum looks at how the anti-vaxxer movement was handled by Italy’s reality-based community:
There are Italians who will be moved by forceful communications from a genuine expert, there are Italians who will be moved by gentle persuasion from someone who seems simpatico, and there are Italians who will be moved by government policy. And that has further implications: It means that any counter-disinformation campaign might require more than one tactic, more than one message and more than one kind of messenger if it is to succeed.
In the latest Free Inquiry, Niels De Nutte gives the lowdown on the situation for humanists in Belgium:
… one could say that Belgium is one of the most prominent humanist countries in Europe. A differentiation must be made, however, between the secular-humanist movement and the secularization of Belgian society as a whole. Although a certain form of separation of church and state is widely accepted and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is seen as the basis for virtually any civilized discussion, not all secularized Belgians have become secular humanists. The majority have become politically liberal or religiously or philosophically indifferent.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church declares itself a “sanctuary church body” in support of immigrants and refugees and in defiance of Trump:
“It just keeps getting worse and worse in terms of unaccompanied children, separated families, detention centers that are just horrific, and so what we wanted to say as a church body, as the Lutheran church, we wanted to now act with our feet and take action,” said Evelyn Soto Straw, director of unit operations and programs for the ELCA’s Domestic Mission.
Tensions are high in Nigeria between the nearly evenly split Christian and Muslim populations, especially in the aftermath of kidnappings and murders of Christian clergy. Anthea Butler at RNS writes:
It remains to be seen if [President Muhammadu] Buhari can stem the crisis. His position as a Fulani and Muslim, with a Pentecostal vice president, makes for a government intrinsically tied to religious groups in ways that make it easy for detractors to claim favoritism for one group or another in what is a contentious, life-threatening situation for many.
A case in Pennsylvania is caught in the blast radius of the Supreme Court’s abysmal Bladensburg cross ruling, as a challenge to the inclusion of a cross in the official seal of Lehigh County is thrown out. Courthouse News reports:
Next month will mark 12 months since the case went for oral argument, but U.S. Circuit Judge Thomas Hardiman noted that the three-judge panel reserved their judgment until the Supreme Court decided a similar case involving a World War I monument called the Bladensburg Peace Cross.
A sheriff’s deputy in North Carolina asserts that he was fired for practicing his religious beliefs by refusing to train a female cop. Yeah, well, that’s a really, really good reason to fire somebody!
In a letter to the editor of the Denver Post, one Richard Watkins rebuts the old trope about Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, etc. being examples of how atheism kills millions of people blah blah blah:
Most people become atheists after practicing rational, evidence-based thinking and committing to intellectual honesty about claims that may be emotionally attractive, but consistently lack credible evidence. If atheists have any “belief system,” it is simply that.
None of the above-named dictators were despots from being excessively intellectually honest, or demanding too much evidence to support their ideologies. They fought against religion to prevent large numbers of people listening to religious leaders who might preach against their regimes. None of them made disbelief in god the center point of their ideologies. Their thinking was authoritarian and based on certainty of opinion, much like religion.
A fair reading of history shows there has never been a despotic government by intellectually honest people who excessively demanded rational, evidence-based answers. The claim that atheists were the cause of these holocausts is false.
Clergy Project alumnus David Madison is frustrated by believers who get the vapors over expressions of atheism, such as on a T-shirt:
But where could I wear it without running the risk of getting beat up? Especially these days when religious folks are enflamed about being persecuted. At the very least, I’m sure I would be scolded for flaunting my atheism. … Atheists have a long way to go before we can match flaunt for flaunt.
The Revealer interviews Brett Krutzsch, author of Dying to Be Normal: Gay Martyrs and the Transformation of American Sexual Politics:
I never needed to turn to places like Fox News to make visible how narrow the parameters of LGBT acceptance have been within “mainstream” America and how those parameters have had much to do with race and, importantly, religion. Feminist, Queer, and Religious Studies scholars have not paid nearly enough attention to the role of religion in shaping cultural ideas about which lives and deaths matter. Race is certainly and inarguably a prominent factor. But so is religion. It is also not a coincidence that Matthew Shepard, the first LGBT American whose death mattered instantly to this country, was a practicing Protestant.
Quote of the Day
Liberal Twitter has been revelling in a post by Motley Crüe member Tommy Lee in which he warns, “You Trumpsters better pray that liberals never gain control of the WH again because we are going to pay you back so f***ing hard.” Except Mr. Lee didn’t write it. It’s a post by a Reddit user TetraNomic from a year ago. Lee did share the post, but, alas, it was not his original wordsmithing.
Nonetheless, here’s my favorite part:
Speaking of Chik Fil A, we’re buying all those and giving them to any LGBTQ you sick cult leaders tortured with conversion therapy. … Try the McPence. It’s a boiled, unseasoned chicken breast that you have to eat in the closet with your mother.
That there, that is poetry.
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Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is.