The Morning Heresy 10/1/12: Cause the Greatest Offense

October 1, 2012

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

Today, CFI is launching the Campaign for Free Expression, aimed at awakening the world to the assault on free speech being waged in the name of religious sensitivity, and on behalf of those who have been and are being persecuted for speaking their minds about religion, timed to begin following yesterday’s International Blasphemy Rights Day (See CFI president Ron Lindsay’s post on IBRD here).

The new Campaign website (launching later today) features individual cases of those being silenced and jailed by their governments for their religiously-critical speech, and we have a powerful new video produced by Adam Isaak to introduce the campaign. (Seriously, the video is mind-blowingly good.) Keep yourself tuned to this site or to CFI on Twitter.

The Boston Globe runs a feature on IBRD, and talks to CFI’s Michael De Dora about the crisis of the suppression of free expression.

Check out Michael as he talks about blasphemy laws this evening at about 7pm ET on HuffPost Live, as well as his appearance last week on Equal Time for Freethought.

Rimsha Masih case gets weirder as witnesses who supported the case against the imam who allegedly framed Rimsha now retracting their statements.

Nazar Ul Islam at the Daily Beast quotes Rimsha’s lawyer:

She can’t be a part of normal society, even if she gets acquitted. She will have to hide and take shelter somewhere else. She can’t survive with this name and identity.

Egyptian-American Christian allegedly responsible for “The Innocence of Muslims” is arrested, and the rap is violating his parole.

Leah Libresco is rightfully confused about blasphemy in its current use today:

It seems like it’s about the betrayal of a relationship, and I don’t really understand how that can happen if you’re unaware of the relationship.

Reuters: After allegedly having their religious feelings hurt, Muslims in Bangladesh torch four Buddhist temples and 15 homes.

AP: Pakistan’s blasphemy laws may now be used to prosecute Muslims who allegedly destroyed Hindu statues and ransacked a temple.

Katha Pollitt in The Nation: “When it comes to ideas—and religions are, among other things, ideas—there is no right not to be offended.”

In other news… 

CFI, America Humanist Association, International Humanist and Ethical Union, Richard Dawkins Foundation, and the Secular Coalition for America release a report (PDF) on discrimination against nonbelievers around the world.

CFI-DC is turning six, and you can join Nate Phelps, Ron Lindsay, Michael De Dora, and Melody Hensley to celebrate.

The Browser, which seeks the best writing on the web, picks out a piece from our own Free Inquiry by Shadia B. Drury on America’s ailing democracy:

It seems to me that the most important lesson that America can teach the world in the twenty-first century regards the conditions that signal the imminent demise of the democratic body politic.

WaPo: Tables turned as Afghan security forces now being trained to accept the weird cultural practices of Americans and NOT get offended by them.

Ben Radford reviews the new film The Master, and calls it “an undeniably compelling but muddled film about an undeniably compelling but muddled guru.”

New Scientist: Romney’s global warming denial may be hurting him with voters.

Author of the blog Kiss My Roti ditches the hijab, says, “I don’t know what is going to happen.” (h/t Ophelia)

Iranian news outlet takes a fake Onion poll about Ahmadinejad being more popular than Obama with “rural whites” for a real story, makes up additional material.

Moses Alusala blogs at Black Skeptics about how freethought in Africa developed as a response to colonialism.

Gertrude Himmelfarb in WSJ wants the “new atheists” to read more William James.

Iowa paper reports on SCA’s designs on their state.

You think traveling back in time is neat? This guy traveled sideways.

Reddit users attack a “European douchebag” for being, well, a douchebag to a young Sikh woman.

Prayerful Harrisburg mayor welcomes the atheist convention, peppers with God talk, but gets generally positive reviews.

Oh man. Japanese exorcist, responsible for several deaths, is executed for murder.

Sarah Posner blogs heads with the ever-more-ubiquitous Jacques Berlinerblau about the secularist movement.

There may not be sufficient facepalm for this: Bald eagle treated with acupuncture.

Shaun Patrick McGonigal braves the ‘America for Jesus’ Rally so you don’t have to.

California bans fake therapy for “gay cure” for kids.

Justin Griffith says that 800 soldiers have been forced to attend a prayer vigil.

That explains it. Darren Perks in HuffPo on what’s going on with triangle-shaped UFOs:

According to many ufologists like myself, these UFOs are the outcome of direct transfer of technologies from extraterrestrials to human civilization in different parts of the world.

(You have to love a wild assertion backed up by a self-citation. “According to me…”)

Fox News/ says a whole slew of alt-med treatments actually work.

Doubtful News begins an experiment in crowdsourced skepticism.


Quote of the Day

Eddie Tabash, in a preview of the next Free Inquiry issue, reasserts the “Innocence of Muslims” filmmakers’ First Amendment right to produce such a video.

We don’t need to protect expression that is not controversial or hurtful. We need constitutional protection for those expressions which cause the greatest offense to all of our most cherished beliefs. Otherwise, we reduce the First Amendment to nothing more than an umbrella that is taken away as soon as it begins to rain.

Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is. 


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The Morning Heresy: “I actually read it.” – Hemant Mehta