Friday, 31 August 2012

More Atheism+ stuff

Now that I think about it, I was a little wishy-washy when it comes to whether I would call myself a follower of Atheism+ and joining the movement.

I think that I would be something of a "fellow traveller" at the moment because the ideals that were laid out are ones that I either agree with or can agree with, but that is because the moderate movement hold broad, generalised views.

What concerns me the most about Atheism+ is that it's a product that will be heavily influenced by FreethoughtBlogs. And that concerns me. FtB has shown itself to be rather dogmatic when it comes to certain social issues.

For example, look at what happened with thunderf00t. He was invited to join FtB, and when he did he - to quote PZ Myers - "wrote during the short week he was here was incoherent, unprofessional rages against feminism and the whole network he was on".

(By the way, it seems at the time I write this you can still access his now defunct blog on the network.)

I don't know whether they see it like that but thunderf00t being kicked off of FtB was seen by those outside of the network as a silencing of dissent. Rather ironic when you consider the whole network was apparently founded because of censorship on the part of National Geographic who bought out the ScienceBlogs network. Although whether that reason reflects reality remains to be seen.

While I knew most of the big name bloggers there were pro-Watson during Elevatorgate, up until that point I had never really expected to see dissent, no matter how badly written, from a position to be censored on a website that was apparently founded on anti-censorship.

My last post on Atheism+ worked on the assumption that the moderate branch of the organisation would not create an orthodoxy. The problem is that Atheism+ will be formed mainly from regular readers/commenters on FtB. And considering that they are from a site that has an underlying set of unquestionable beliefs there is a very real possibility that Atheism+ will also adopt a party line that one is required to follow.

Looking at the comments on this post by Greta Christina you can see noelplum99 having his positions misrepresented by others. The word "privilege" is used a few times. If you don't want to read the comment thread, you can watch this video by BigLundi
who goes through the thread for you.

Looking at some of the threads from the A+ forums (yes, they have forums now) some of the comments already seem to show an insular view, this is despite the fact that nobody actually knows what the more detailed position is for the more moderate movement on the broad topics I mentioned in my last post.

To quote the poster BillHaines:

An aggressive group would've banned you already. Unorganized is to be expected; we're like three days old here, give us a break. You're either with us or -- why are you here? Inappropriate is in the eye of the beholder -- and as JM put it, "I just want a space where atheists with a shared interest in social justice can actually discuss it and get stuff done. You are free to form your own groups or continue taking part in whatever atheist community will have you. You can even come and civilly take part in our discussions! But we don’t need to tolerate the intolerant within our own space." So...
(Bolding mine)

This is a comment directed at someone making a suggestion about the name. How dare the user Mefune question the validity of the name? The other question is if Mefune had posted this question later on, when the site became more organised, would he have been banned?

This issue on diversity of opinion was brought up by the user surreptitious57 who made the perfectly valid point that as a movement becomes more diverse there are going to be more people who disagree with positions. The fact that a mod (BillHaines) doesn't seem to get that is a little worrying.

But as I said, I'm not going to support a movement when I have no idea what the movement actually stands for.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Atheism+

Talking about Atheism+ seems to be the thing everyone is talking about so I'm going to jump on the bandwagon and talk about it.

In essence it's supposed to be "Atheism with other things", but it's already starting to look like this isn't the case.

I would say that it looks like Jen McCreight's idea is already being co-opted by Richard Carrier, but that appearance is probably a little deceiving. I can understand the idea that it's being co-opted, FreethoughtBlogs seems to have created their own little clique within the atheist community and I think that the idea that we are seeing a co-option arises from that.

If we accept the idea that Atheism+ is supposed to be a "new wave" like the waves of feminism, it would suggest that we are seeing the formation of two groups within Atheism+, the mainstream and the radical. McCreight being the founder of the mainstream and Carrier the embodiment of the radical.

Jen McCreight is basically the founder of this wave, being the one to make the suggestion to start a new wave and doing something about it. The things that McCreight would like this movement to do is outlined in the post Atheism+: It's time to walk the walk. The items listed would be:

To start us off, here are some issues I envision A+ addressing from a secular, skeptical perspective:

  • Racism
  • Sexism
  • Homophobia
  • Transphobia
  • Ableism
  • Classism
  • Ageism
  • Neurotypicalism
  • Animal welfare
  • Environmental issues
  • Political issues (Health care, crime, drug laws)
What we would see here is  This would definitely become more pronounced for the last three points and may possibly include "Neurotypicalism", but that's because I don't know what exactly the ideal would be there. Especially considering the issue between high- and low- functioning individuals.

But the basic idea here is also education; to try and get people to change their minds and improve things that way. It also strives to be inclusive (Point 6) but holds a firmer line against those who do not fit in with the values in question.

Carrier's "living document" is here. Reading through what he wrote, and also his comments to criticism indicate that he's the more radical one. The original version of that document had the conclusion:

In the meantime, I call everyone now to pick sides (not in comments here, but publicly, via Facebook or other social media): are you with us, or with them; are you now a part of the Atheism+ movement, or are you going to stick with Atheism Less? Then at least we’ll know who to work with. And who to avoid.
Which has since been changed to (as of 30/8/12):

In the meantime, are you an atheist? Do you identify as an atheist? Then I call upon you to pick sides within our movement (not in comments here, but publicly, via Facebook or other social media): are you with us, or with them; are you with the Atheism+ movement, or do you at least cheer and approve it’s values and aims (since you don’t have to label yourself), or are you going to stick with Atheism Less and its sexism and cruelty and irrationality? Then at least we’ll know who to work with. And who to avoid.
Now when you look at it, there is no real difference between the two comments. What we are seeing here is the in-group/out-group bias in play. In a rather ironic twist it's the same bias that has been levelled at FreethoughtBlogs. But good thing everyone else there is pretty supportive of the concept?

It's also poisoning the well, by automatically assuming that people who don't agree with Atheism+ are sexist and cruel. Good thing that Carrier doesn't have a thing for logical fallacies. Unless you happen to read the comments and see that the section "We believe in being reasonable" once read:

Which means anyone who makes a fallacious argument and, when shown that they have, does not admit it, is not one of us, and is to be marginalized and kicked out, as not part of our movement, and not anyone we any longer wish to deal with.
It now reads (as of 30/8/12):

This means, first, that we believe in being logical and rational in forming beliefs and opinions. Which means anyone who makes a fallacious argument on any matter of real importance and, when shown that they have, does not admit it (when given the chance), is probably not one of us, and if they persist in doing that, is definitely not one of us, and is to be marginalized and disowned, as not part of our movement, and not anyone we any longer wish to deal with.
(I'm showing this because changes to the post aren't mentioned)

Just looking at these changes suggest that while Carrier has toned down the rhetoric, probably because of this tweet he still wants to excise those that he doesn't like.

But this reminds me of certain radical feminists, like Gail Dines, or Twisty Faster. Carrier is arguing for control. Carrier's Atheism+ is designed to control people and remove those who refuse to toe the line.

So that's basically it. What we are seeing is two different groups covered by the same organisation. In the end though we're seeing more of Carrier's views being discussed and that is influencing people on their decision to join the group.


I however am not going to claim that I belong to Atheist+ because they're clearly continentalist. Also, I don't think I need to attach a rather strange label to myself. I will be one of those people that supports the same ideals but won't adopt that label.

Updated: More thoughts on the idea.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Indefinite Detention

The Greens are planning on introducing legislation that will allow refugees to appeal negative ASIO determinations. This would be introduced when the Senate resumes next month.

ASIO, for the people who don't know is basically Australia's version of MI5.

At the same time Human Rights Lawyer David Manne has lodged a papers in the High Court challenging the same problem.

As it stands at the moment an asylum seeker can have a successful asylum application meaning they get refugee status, but if ASIO says "no" they can't be let into the community, or in the case of a Tamil refugee by the name of Ranjini be taken into detention after living in the community for about a year.

Now what happens is that we have people who have been determined to be refugees under the Refugee Convention, meaning they are permitted to stay in this country, but because of the negative ASIO finding cannot go into the community. It seems that all these people know is that they have a negative finding with no way of appealing.

According to the Greens there are 57 people in this situation, some of them children, who have been found guilty of "something" in a manner that resembles Kafka's The Trial. This country already has a less then stellar record when it comes to refugee issues, and this doesn't do much to help.


ASIO has already caused problems by increasing the time these people can spend in detention, and we've already seen how their lack of transparency have already caused problems, such as the case of Sheik Mansour Leghaei, who ended up being deported after an adverse check by ASIO after a long legal fight. This was despite support from various members of government, religious figures and other prominent people.

The problem is that I get the feeling that Manne's attempt will probably result in similar results to Leghaei's trial. Some of the things we ended up learning in Leghaei's case was that he didn't have a right to learn why he failed his check, that some of the possible evidence against him is either made up by others or by ASIO itself and that proceedural fairness and natural justice don't matter when it comes to national security. I think the most shocking thing to come out of that case was that apparently nobody had a right to overrule ASIO.


If you believe the more nationalistic Australians one of the qualities that makes up "Australian-ness" is "a fair go". But looking at what ASIO is doing it seems that this doesn't matter when it comes to people who come to this country to either escape danger or improve our society, or improve relations within it simple because they are foreign.

And I think that has to change.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

One (1) rant

At work we have a sign that tells us the five (5) steps in washing your hands. I don't understand why people seem to think that putting a number in brackets is supposed to do anything. Are they trying to show people what a three (3) looks like to people who haven't seen this number before?

Or maybe it's for people who are illiterate but not innumerate so people know that a number four (4) looks like that, but then how exactly would they have any idea what the context is because they can't read. So how would telling these people the five (5) steps to washing your hands mean anything?

Or maybe there are people who are too stupid to know that 'three' (3) is the way you spell the number 3 (three)? But then I don't understand why the list didn't go 1 (one). [thing] 2 (two). [thing] etc.

I just don't get it.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Norway attacks

Seven dead in a blast in Oslo and there have been shootings at a youth camp on Ut√łya. There are unconfirmed reports of between 20-25 people dead on the island. As I write, Dagbladet has a picture of people who may be dead.

They were shot by a man dressed as a police officer. And at the moment nobody has an idea about who did it.

All I can say is that my thoughts go out to the victims and their families.

I feel stupid saying that but I've been watching/listening to the live feed from the BBC instead of getting sleep.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Overanalysis

Boag's beer have been showing a bunch of ads for quite a while now showing magical rivers in Tasmania that make things better, such as this ad, this ad or this ad that basically explains the premise.

My question is if you put that beer back into the river, would it come out as a better beer? Or is Boag's supposed to be the pinnacle and people have to keep on putting the bottles into the water over and over again to get bottles of Boag's?

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Am I a Rape Supporter?

So I finally decided to watch one of The Amazing Atheist's (TJ from now on) "Hate Week" videos. Mainly because the title "A Feminist" intrigued me for being so specific instead of the blanket terms like "Idealism" or "Individualists".

So I watched it. And being naturally skeptical of the source material he was referring to, since I couldn't find a link for it on the Youtube video, googled one of the phrases to find the source.

What sounded like a rather exaggerated form of "sex-negative" feminism was real. And I'm going to link to it because googling "A Man Is a Rape-Supporter If..." really should be the first Google result instead of wherever it is (I gave up after 4 pages).

So basically "Eve's Daughter" (ED for brevity) of "Eve Bit First" has decided to make a list that women, and men like myself for the purposes of discussion, can use to determine whether a man is a rape-supporter.

So according to this list I am a rape supporter, regardless of my actual beliefs because I've answered yes to a few of the statements. In reality, where the positions people take are not dependent on a list designed to support a presupposed position I don't condone any rape at all, but in this case my actual positions aren't important because that isn't the topic at hand.

Although this list is supposed to determine which men are "rape supporters" the correct answer is 100% of them. This is a view that ED has made in other posts such as this one entitled "Women's Lives Need a Trigger Warning where she wrote:
Dear men:

Die.

No, seriously. This is a rant, and it’s about you, personally. You, personally, are a shit, because statistics indicate there is an almost 100% certainty that you have either committed a rape, or wanted to commit a rape, or knowingly assisted or defended someone who committed a rape, or mocked a woman who was raped. And no, I’m not dropping links to tell you what you should damn well already know.

The comments thread of the post that I am responding to supports this claim where she wrote:

Nor did I state or imply that all men commit rape. I said in a separate post that nearly 100% of men either are rapists, would be, would assist a rapist, or are rape supporters, and most commenters who have critiqued this post have agreed that, yes, nearly all (or “all”) men support rape according to this list.

This is someone who already has a hatred of men. I don't think that anything will change her mind short of probably all men dying from some disease that's caused by a human variant of Wolbachia. But this is the internet, so I can say whatever the hell I want, just like she can say whatever the hell she wants.

With knowledge of this in mind let us move on.

So let us see these points that make a man a rape-supporter.

First we have:

He has ever sexually engaged with any woman while she was underage, drunk, high, physically restrained, unconscious, or subjected to psychological, physical, economic, or emotional coercion.

Overall it is a little broad, but many of these points are valid. Some, like being physically restrained, are dependent on other factors. Misa Akane, the author of the blog, The Last Lemurisian has mentioned that she likes restraints as a kink. I suspect that this opinion wouldn't matter to ED because restraining a woman, even if it's consensual, would still represent the oppression of women which is pretty much what she writes here on an post about BDSM where she suggests that BDSM and rape fantasies are a coping mechanism.

The next point is:

He defends the current legal definition of rape and/or opposes making consent a defense.
Which doesn't make any sense to me. The current legal definition of "rape" for my state may be found here. What part am I supposed to disagree with? It would have been nice to know what ED defines rape as. I've tried to find a definition on her blog, but I haven't come up with anything. Am I supposed to argue for a broader definition or a narrower definition or what? Is ED's definition of rape similar to that of Dworkin who said that all heterosexual sex was rape? ED has stated that she didn't define rape, which really makes this point meaningless.

And then we get the part about consent. Does she mean consent can't be used as a defence ever? Or that I shouldn't prevent people from using consent as a defence?

The next two points are:

He has accused a rape victim of having “buyer’s remorse” or wanting to get money from the man.

He has blamed a woman for “putting herself in a situation” where she “could be” attacked.

Both of these points are ones that fall under the "blame the victim" label. The first point you have to ask does ED believe that all rapes are true? That no woman lies about rape? Here is a story from India where a group of people used rape in order to blackmail a man. Here is a story from the US where the woman blackmailed a man she slept with. As to the latter Girlwriteswhat at Owning Your Shit probably explains this better then I could as does Misa Akane. Ironically I don't really want to actually discuss the second point because the point in question is like a razor-thin wire that is covered in grease. The most I will say is that I don't believe that rape victims should be blamed for what happened to them.

The next points all fall within the sex industry:

He has procured a prostitute.

He characterizes prostitution as a “legitimate” “job” “choice” or defends men who purchase prostitutes.

He has ever revealed he conceives of sex as fundamentally transactional.

He has gone to a strip club.

Of course, as ED clarifies in the comments, this means nothing about the poor exploited sex workers, it's all about the consumers. See as long as we men are evil and dirty we will exploit women regardless of whether they actually want to do that job or not. Yes there are people who are forced into sex work, and the people who do are the scum of the earth, but ED is tarring all prostitutes with the same brush.

In the comments ED also said that this list does not cover sex workers. That's probably because there are sex workers out there who do it because they like sex or they like stripping and they've found ways to get paid to do what they like to do. Ironically she would like SA laws on prostitution because they punish the consumer. You see SA law says that you are allowed to be a prostitute, but the Johns aren't legally allowed to pay you.

And conceiving of sex as fundamentally transactional? Technically that can apply even to fundamentalist Christians who consider sex only for procreation.

He is anti-abortion.

He is pro-”choice” because he believes abortion access will make women more sexually available.

Here is where I will defend ED's words here. This is not a contradictory set of statements. A man can be pro-choice but wouldn't be considered a rape supporter if it wasn't for selfish reasons. However, and this hasn't been clarified, it might also boil down to ED believes that all men believe this, as if men are say, lions, and that this is the real reason we men can be pro-choice.

He frames discussions of pornography in terms of “freedom of speech.”

He watches pornography in which women are depicted.

He watches any pornography in which sexual acts are depicted as a struggle for power or domination, regardless of whether women are present.

The last point means that even gay men can be rape-supporters. But it's not just men who discuss pornography in terms of "freedom of speech". The Australian Sex Party also discusses porn in terms of "freedom of speech".

In an interview with Beat Magazine, porn star and candidate in the 2010 Victorian elections, Angela White said regarding the censorship of one of her movies:

“It was really upsetting because it was actually with one of my best, best girlfriends and we made a video where we did candle wax play,” says White. “We’re talking about two girlfriends - two consenting adults - expressing their sexuality and wanting to play with candle wax but it was censored and not allowed.”

But in the context of this list the banning of one of her movies is probably a good thing because it breaks a few of the items on the list.

Incidentally does "watch[ing] pornography in which women are depicted" mean that I support rape if I watch porn with actual women in it, or with men who are pretending to be women? If it's the former then it's a rather misogynistic statement to make since it's dehumanising women who work in porn. I guess if you are of the opinion that they are dehumanised anyway then why bother humanising them. If it's the latter then it's just weird.

He characterizes the self-sexualizing behavior of some women, such as wearing make-up or high heels, as evidence of women’s desire to “get” a man.

Because women don't want to get a man. In fact they don't seem to have any desires at all. Women apparently don't want sex, instead, as her statements in the comments section clarify, it's that women undergo societal pressure to desire sex. It's as if women are some kind of asexual being.

He tells or laughs at jokes involving women being attacked, sexually “hoodwinked,” or sexually harassed.

Don't laugh at the wrong jokes.

He expresses enjoyment of movies/musicals/TV shows/plays in which women are sexually demeaned or presented as sexual objects

Oh Fuck. I watched Italian television when I was last in Italy and all they do is present women as sex objects. Even in their version of Wheel of Fortune.

And what about watching a movie like I Spit on Your Grave, a movie that's about a women who is gang raped and gets her revenge by killing the perpetrators?

Good thing I don't like plays like The Vagina Monologues what with all the rape in it.

He mocks women who complain about sexual attacks, sexual harassment, street cat-calls, media depictions of women, or other forms of sexual objectification.

♫ One of these things is actually relevant. Everything else is just doesn't belong. Can you tell me which thing is actually relevant by the time I finish my song? ♫

The answer is "sexual attacks". Arguing against that would make you a rape supporter. In some cases for everything else the mocking may be relevant, like a woman complaining that men only pay attention to her looks when she dresses in a way that emphasises her looks more then anything else. But of course three points earlier it was said that women don't actually do that.

He supports sexual “liberation” and claims women would have more sex with (more) men if society did not “inhibit” them.
The reason "liberation" is in commas only makes sense when you read this post. The argument of that post in a nutshell is actually that point in the list.
He states or implies that women who do not want to have sex with men are “inhibited,” “prudes,” “stuck-up,” “man-haters,” or psychologically ill.
But I don't really see how this means he supports rape. I could understand it if it was in a checklist titled say "A man is a douchebag if..."
He argues that certain male behaviors towards women are “cultural” and therefore not legitimate subjects of feminist attention.
Finally, after all the stupid something that is valid. But only when it comes to rape. But I guess when one works on a fucktarded definition of rape that only you know then this statement applies everywhere.
He ever subordinates the interests of women in a given population to the interests of the men in that population, or proceeds in discussions as if the interests of the women are the same as the interests of the men.
So in the first part it's that men should believe that women's issues are more important. So fuck men's health issues like prostate cancer because it only has about the same death rate as breast cancer (same statistical probability in Australia too, 1 in 9). Because such a discussion on its own subordinates the interests of women.

There are times when issues are important enough that discussing them over other issues is in the best interest of society. Prostate cancer is a pretty good example since men are less likely to go to the doctor then women and people know less about it considering that it affects men at the same rate as women.

The latter part is pretty judgemental by assuming that the interests of women is automatically the opposite to that of men.
He promotes religious or philosophical views in which a woman’s physical/psychological/emotional/sexual well-being is subordinated to a man’s.
And how exactly does misogynism = rape? Does it follow that misandrism = rape? What about misanthropy?
He describes female anatomy in terms of penetration, or uses terms referencing the supposed “emptiness” of female anatomy when describing women.
What the fuck is this supposed to mean?
He defends the physical abuse of women on the grounds of “consent.”
Isn't that a contradiction in terms? But then again this list means that there are no possible ways sexual practises that count as not being abusive.
He defends the sexualization or sexual abuse of minor females on the grounds of “consent” or “willingness.”
Right, a contextless statement. I'm really going to be able to discuss this. Is this about consent laws in general? Or "close-of-age" laws? What exactly does this mean?
He promotes the idea that women as a class are happier or more fulfilled if they have children, or that they “should” have children.

He argues that people (or just “men”) have sexual “needs.”
We do? I know some men who don't like children, I know women who don't want to have children. I don't understand where exactly this is coming from. Now I would have thought that such ideas exist simply because as a species we have a desire to breed, unless you are ED who says in the comments:
For your first point, is there any evidence of a “drive” to reproduce in women outside of social pressure? No, obviously not. We can’t separate people from their social conditioning. In the meantime, though, telling women (and men) that they experience innate biological pressures like a “need” to sexually engage with others or an “urge” to reproduce is used to justify (and encourage) sexual objectification and exploitation, as I previously discussed.
ED believes that women don't have any sexual desires, instead it's a product of social conditioning. Just like how people (or men) don't have any sexual needs.
He discusses the “types” of women he finds sexually appealing and/or attempts to demean women by telling them he does not find them sexually appealing.
So it's damned if you do, damned if you don't. This is another one of those statements that mean that even gay men are rape-supporters because they don't find women sexually appealing. Unless you read the comments where you find:
If you’re not “attempting to demean women” by saying you’re not sexually attracted to us, then no, obviously this does not apply.
Apparently this statement only exists because some men make stupid comments on news stories about rape.

But I'm not gay, so I support rape if I find a woman sexually appealing or unappealing for whatever reason. It doesn't matter if it's her body shape or her intellect I support rape because I dare to have preferences in my choice of women.
He sexually objectifies lesbians or lesbian sexual activity.
And your point is? How does this mean that a man supports rape? There is a pretty big disconnect here between this statement and what the premise of the topic is.

And now the last bloody point:
He defends these actions by saying that some women also engage in them.
Because women are just blameless perfect beings that should not be held to the same standards as men.

The hypocrisy is just astounding.

But what conclusions can I draw from this? On it's own this is quite possibly one of the greatest troll pages of all time, but I looked around on this blog to try and understand some of the points that she made, should I consider this to be a Poe? It would be a very elaborate one, but it might be one nonetheless. However I'm inclined to believe that this is genuine. That ED really hates men and also by extension women.

The comments on women not having sexual desires of their own makes me think that she considers women to be immature, child-like even. And that men making these women think that they want sex is akin to a child molester grooming their victim. And in that sense it makes me think that ED considers women to be mentally inferior, that they are easily controlled and conditioned, that they are puppets and that we men are puppetmasters.

But would I call ED a misandrist? No, neither would I call her a misogynist. I would say that she is a misanthrope. She hates men because they perpetuate what she considers the oppression of women, but hates women because they are oppressed, or at least because they act in ways that she does not like. Naturally she apologises for them, but her manner in doing so appears to betray an underlying hatred of her own sex.

But am I a "rape-supporter"? As I said at the start, no. I'm not. But to ED that doesn't matter because I have a penis and therefore I automatically do.